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I haven't attended Readercon since it switched venues, but it was nice to be back--even if the hotel is located on an Alcatraz-like hill that makes leaving it on foot feel like a jailbreak (... actually maybe that makes it kind of fun? Maybe the truth is I had fun making my getaways now and then.)

I was there for the second half of Friday, all of Saturday, and Sunday morning. I missed many things I would like to have heard, but I heard and participated in many fun things. Here are a few highlights:

FridayCollapse )

SaturdayCollapse )

SundayCollapse )

There were other highlights, more personal ones (lovely conversations, meeting people--that kind of thing), but I think I'll gush about those to the people in question. For now, let me leave you with this fun image from one of escape-from-Alcatraz walks. The Virgin and Child, attended by a Swan and Seal.
madonna and child, attended by swan and seal

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/888672.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


Unlocked, by Jerry Zaltman

I don't usually edit whole books, but every now and then it happens, and this was one such case: Unlocked: Keys to Improve Your Thinking. I really enjoyed working on this book and have used some of the exercises in it with students I volunteer with, always with wonderful, thought-provoking results.

The intention of the book is to get people thinking about how they think, to understand how things like priming and cues work, to learn about the faultiness of memory and the selectivity of attention and so on, in the hopes that understanding how we think can help us think better. In the preface the author says,
People can react negatively to complexity and to rapid social and scientific change—for example, by retreating into rigid, deeply entrenched thinking, which leads to diminished curiosity and intolerance of those who think and act differently. Still more worrisome is an unconscious, invisible reluctance to challenge our own thoughts and feelings. Thinking, it seems, is far too often employed to justify an existing position rather than to explore, improve, and perhaps change it.

This book wants to change that.

I'm imagining that people reading here probably will, like me, be familiar with some of the thought experiments and information about thinking that the author presents, but probably/maybe (like me) not all of them. And they're entertainingly presented (though my nemesis, the trolley problem, makes an obligatory appearance).

One perk of doing the editing is that I have some books to give away! Both actual, physical books, which are better for some things (like writing down stuff when you're asked to write down stuff), and ebooks, which are better for other things (like hyperlinks and seeing stuff in color--the physical book is in black and white, but the ebook is in color).

Below the cut is an excerpt from the first "Think Key," which features an ethical dilemma that's a little less high-stakes than the one in the trolley problem. It'll give you a sense for what the book is like. To enter the giveaway, just express interest in a comment. In two weeks' time, I'll put names in a hat and pull three and post the results in a new entry. I'll also try to contact winners privately. You'll get both the physical book and the ebook.

Think Key 1: To Disclose or NotCollapse )

If you want to take a further look at the book, you can visit Amazon or the author's website.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/888366.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

bike ride

Went on a bike ride with Waka in the sensual hot 'n' humid, where you really feel each patch of shade, like you're diving into cold water, and then into the heat again, and in all these places, so many smells--the smell of baking soil, of flowers and black raspberries and pine needles, also the smell of creosote by the train tracks, and the smell of swampy still water, and here and there the smell of garbage cooking in the sun.

We passed a father having a picnic with his daughter out the shaded door to their ground-floor apartment. There was a blanket: dad was sitting on this, very still--I thought he was meditating at first--and there were many small bowls of things to eat. On the threshold of the door was the daughter, three or four, with wild curly reddish brown hair, not quite ready maybe to be lured out.

This dramatic wildflower turns out to be butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). How pretty!

butterfly weed

And on the trip, there was some underpass art...

underpass on Northampton MA bike trail
underpass on Northampton MA bike trail
underpass on Northampton MA bike trail

The other side was a celebration of bees and beekeeping:

underpass on Northampton MA bike trail

Also on the ride, a trailside water tap, where you could get a drink of water, and air pump, in case your tires were low, courtesy of a car dealer; also a scrapyard with the cars almost lost in wildflowers and tall grass.

Song sparrows, catbirds, and swifts were all singing out. At the place we stopped to buy a drink and a bite to eat, the woman behind the counter had a tattoo of utility polls and the swooping wires strung between them, with birds on them.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/888283.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

In Egipto--and some thoughts

Wakanomori got some pictures that capture the spirit of wanting better and trying hard that we could sense even standing just at the edge of Egipto.

Here is graffiti saying Egipto vive, right beside the church:

Waka photo: Egipto vive

(click through to see it bigger)

And here is a shot up the hill that he got before we were warned away--you can't maybe tell, but on the right is a bright and hopeful mural, and straight ahead is a painting of a bird in flight.

Waka photo: Egipto

... And those promised thoughts. This was a comment I left in the last entry. It was saying why it took me so long to post that last entry, how life can feel just generally. One of my friends suggest reposting it as an entry itself because, she said, it might resonate for people:

It's taken a long time to post this entry. I nearly didn't last night, either. I've been (like most people I know) oppressed by the news, had my mind in a vise that won't let me think about much else. There's a not insignificant amount of self-loathing that goes along with all that, as all the people saying "If you ever wondered what you'd do in Nazi Germany... now you know" have made me pretty aware that what I would have done is only slightly north of F-all. My stories from my trip feel stale in my head, are a product of privilege, and seem irrelevant and escapist.

But mental incapacity and self loathing, not to mention obsession, are pretty useless states, and some part of me believes it's not pointless to talk about people going out of their way to be thoughtful, even if (especially if? I don't know) it's people in a rough neighborhood being kind to clueless tourists.

... This is both an apology and an apologia for this post. I know you didn't ask for either; I just am latching onto your comment as an excuse to explain. Maybe this comment is what I should have posted, but then I wouldn't have had an excuse to put in photos.

--and look, I managed to slip some photos in all the same.

I guess if people in Egipto can paint "Egipto vive" and can protect the stranger, I can keep... doing my small, small thing.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/887886.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

es peligroso

A couple of times when we were in Bogotá, we ventured into places we shouldn't go. Both times locals swooped down like guardian angels to redirect us.

Once was when we started up a path into the hills, thinking vaguely that it might get us up Cerro de Monserrate, a mountain that's a pilgrimage site and from which you can see all of Bogotá. I wasn't super keen on being along on a trail in the hills, but Wakanomori pointed out that there was a grandfatherly-aged man up ahead of us, with a child, and that so long as there were other people around, we'd be fine.

We hadn't taken more than two steps on the path when the grandfather turned around and came up to us. "No vengas por aquí,"** he said. "Es peligroso." Don't come here; it's dangerous.

I don't know whether he meant the path itself was dangerous--like there were steep drops or something--or that there might be other sorts of trouble, but we didn't argue. We just said thank you and that we'd turn around. We took the cable car up Monserrate instead. It was magnificent.

cable car going up
view from cable car

view from the top
view from monserrate hill and sunbeams

The other time was when we went to see the church that's right at the edge of the Egipto neighborhood, which has a fair amount of gang violence. (Basically, as you go south from Bogotá and up the sides of the hills, things become more precarious.) We walked up the steep streets (not yet in Egipto)...

egipto neighborhood

... and came to the church (there are many, many beautiful churches in Bogotá). It was begun in 1556 and finished in 1657, but the present look is due in large part to modifications at the start of the 20th century.

Egipto church

You can see that there are paintings on the wall beside the stairs to the right of the church. Up just a little way past there were some interesting wall murals, and we decided we'd juuust walk that far and take some pictures. We started walking, but two women, coming up in the direction we'd just come, called to us and came hurrying our way.

I didn't understand what they were saying at first--and they recognized that I couldn't, but they persisted anyway; they didn't give up. I finally understood that they were asking if we were sightseeing, and I said yes. Like the man on the path, they said it was too dangerous. Safe as far as the church, but no further. Wakanomori recalls, though I don't (maybe because I was struggling to understand and respond to the words), that the woman drew her hand across her throat, miming death. Point taken! We thanked them and went back the way we came.

I was really grateful that people looked out for us in that way.

**What I remember is "No ven por aquí," but when I check online, that seems to be grammatically wrong so ... I'm putting in what the internet says is right.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/887724.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

fictional futures

I'm going to be on just one panel at Readercon, but it's a fun one:

Our panelists will discuss the fictional futures they find most appealing and would be happy to live in (maybe with some caveats). Does the work that depicts these futures provide a path or hints as to how humans might get there? What makes these futures worth rooting for and aspiring to?

I have some thoughts on the topic, but what I also have is a question:

What books have you read that are set in appealing futures? What books have you read that are set in unappealing futures? That's the main question: even though I have have thoughts, I want to try to read a few more books so I have more to draw on than my limited stock. Send me titles!

I also have a follow-up question: Are there cases where you'd like to live/wouldn't mind living in an unappealing future? Why? And are there any cases where you wouldn't care to live in an appealing fictional future? Again, why?

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/887352.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Paloquemao--and fruits!

While we were in Bogotá, we went to Paloquemao, a giant produce-and-other-things market. It's very popular as a tourist destination with colombianos as well as foreigners--one night when we turned on the TV, they were visiting there.

We went there, though, because it was one of the locations that La Niña was shot. The parents of Victor, one of the young medical students in the show, work there.

Apparently the way most people get to Paloquemao is to take a taxi or a bus, but we walked. And let me tell you, people who go by taxi or bus miss passing through the restaurant-supply district of Bogotá, where there's shopfront after shopfront filled with coffee makers or refrigerators or empty display shelves. A display of display shelves. And after that, the prostitute district. I've probably crossed paths with prostitutes in my life without realizing it, and lots of the women I've worked with at the jail have been sex workers at one time or another, but I've never had the experience of walking by barely clad women just, y'know, hanging around, literally, on street corners (and lining up all down the side streets), just. Waiting. So that was interesting.

But then at last we were at Paloquemao, where you can see beautiful huge displays of fruit like **this**

fruit at Paloquemao

DO YOU SEE THE MANGOSTEENS FRONT AND CENTER?? DO YOU? I have wanted to taste a mangosteen since [personal profile] intertribal wrote about them years ago. I thought I might get a chance in East Timor, but no. Nor in Florida. But that day in Paloquemao? YES.

It was every bit as delicious as I had hoped. I bought a pound, and we ate them during the rest of our stay.


more photos and chattingCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/887271.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

a strange little story

I was waiting at a park that I had gradually intuited was the place a protest against family separation had been moved to. It was about ten minutes before the protest was scheduled to begin, and not all that much was happening. There was a banner, though, with an Audre Lorde quote ("Your silence will not protect you"), and a few people hanging around, including about five very buff cyclists, clustered together on their bikes.

A woman, slightly older than me, came up to me. "Is this where the protest is?" I said I thought so and made some joke about wandering around the original location in confusion.

She nodded, moved off, and then came back, remarking that it was too bad the cyclists were in the way.

"Maybe they're here for the protest," I said.

"No, they gather here every Thursday. I told them they should leave."

She said it without rancor, as if it was normal to tell people to leave a public park.

"Oh I don't know--I think they're good. They swell the crowd," I said, trying to make light of the whole thing.

"It's a problem every Thursday," she said.

Then a friend of mine showed up, and my attention went to my friend--but next to me, I heard the woman trying her anti-cyclist gambit on another person.

"I'm a cyclist," the new person said.

"But you don't understand; this is a problem every Thursday," the anti-cyclist insisted.

Annnd.... then the the leader of the cyclist group, I guess having figured that his gang were all there, announced the route they'd be riding, and off they went. They honestly could not have been more innocuous. They weren't riding around terrorizing people. They were meeting up in a public park--and then they left! The one woman's animus was so strange!

There were some good speakers at the demonstration, and some people with very good signs. I was somewhat depressed by the turnout--it was hundreds and I'd thought there might be thousands, but maybe this just means I'm out of touch. ... Anyway, onward and upward, keep trying, etc.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/886851.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

a la orden

In Japan, even before you enter a store, an employee will call out "Irasshaimase!" inviting you in. In Bogotá it was "A la orden!" Around lunch time, employees of the eateries would cruise around with menus--at some distance from the eatery, even--and invite you in.

That's what happened to us with El Patron. Leonardo, who looked like a teen and had a brilliant smile, came up to us and ushered us up the street, around the corner, and into El Patron. When my Spanish got us only so far, he introduced us to Laura, who spoke beautiful English and chatted to us about all sorts of things. She had the best way of saying "egg-ZACT-ly" when I guessed what English word she was searching for. The food was delicious and plentiful and very, very inexpensive. We came back several times, and in our conversations we learned that Laura was from Venezuela (many Venezuelans have taken refuge in Colombia because of the economic free fall of present-day Venezuela).

I loved this message at El Patron:

No hay wi-fi

(There is no Wi-Fi; talk among yourselves)

It's a very them type of message. El Patron is not an on-the-map place. (It's not the "El Patron" that comes up if you do a search on that name and Bogotá. I know exactly where it is, and it's not listed on Google maps even at the highest magnification. Sailing underneath the radar.)

Here's a view from where we sat.

interior el patron

And here is Laura (on the right), with Erika--"not just a coworker, we're truly friends," she said.

Erika and Laura (el Patron)

El Patron was the sit-down place we liked best; otherwise, we liked getting things in the street. Here, arepas:

arepa maker (on bicycle)

They are cooked on a charcoal brazier on the front of a very sturdy bicycle.

And here's a mobile coffee vendor:

Street coffee vendor

Fruits deserve an entry of their own....

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/886779.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

crunchings and munchings

We interrupt posts about Bogotá for a post courtesy of a second year of defoliatory levels of gypsy moth caterpillars.

You can hear them eating and pooping in the trees overhead. The ground is covered in caterpillar poops and fragments of leaves. Munch munch munch. I found myself thinking of Gurgi in the Prydain chronicles, who is always eager for food--crunchings and munchings as he calls them. Or maybe he says munchings first. Munchings and crunchings.

This is how I imagined Gurgi when I was a kid.

Yes. I imagined Gurgi as Grover, from Sesame Street, complete with Frank Oz voice.

Those of you who read the Prydain Chronicles--how did you imagine Gurgi?


This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/886512.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

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