I can haz jewelry

Jul. 30th, 2015 08:03
lunabee34: (thanks by ponders_life)
[personal profile] lunabee34
My friend Cindy made me a lovely necklace and bracelet set. It's so delicate and dainty, and it looks expeeeeeeensive. Thank you so much, sweetie. I'm blown away by your generosity.

Y'all should really check out her Etsy store. Lots of beautiful things there.
[syndicated profile] getrichslowly_feed

Posted by Linda Vergon

This article is by Curtis Arnold, CardRatings.com editor-in-chief.

It’s not often that a credit card company offers to double its usual rewards on a range of its plastic for an entire year — but that’s precisely what Discover is doing for new customers with its current limited-time offer.

How the offer works

Discover’s eye-catching offer applies to cash-back cards including:

  • Discover it card®-Double Cash Back your first year,
  • Discover it®-Double Cash Back your first year,
  • Discover it® chrome-Double Cash Back your first year,
  • Discover it® for Students-Double Cash Back your first year,
  • Discover it® chrome for Students-Double Cash Back your first year,
  • and even the new NHL® Discover it® Card.

Here’s how it works: After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, Discover will double all the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the next billing cycle. You’ve earned rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period.

This could easily add up to hundreds of dollars, depending on the card you choose and your spending habits. For example, Discover it card®-Double Cash Back your first year ordinarily offers 5 percent cash back in categories that change each quarter (up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up) and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. These rates are doubled through Discover’s offer, the latter with no caps.

And cash means cash. As usual for those Discover products, you can redeem any amount at any time, and take your rewards as a card statement credit or as a direct deposit into your bank account.

How to earn double cash back

Every quarter, Discover publishes on its website a 5% Cashback Calendar featuring details of the categories of shopping that can earn you 5 percent cash back (or, under this offer, you can double your cash back) during that period.

So, for example, home improvement stores, department stores and Amazon.com are categories for the current quarter (July 1, 2015, through September 30, 2015).

From October 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015, the categories are expected to be “holiday shopping and more,” according to the company’s website.

To maximize your rewards, you need to remember three main things:

  1. You must sign up each quarter on the Discover website or through its call center. If you don’t register, you run the risk of missing out on some serious cash-back potential, as you’ll only earn 1 percent on all purchases — or double the cash back you’ve earned under this offer.

  2. There’s a cap on the amount you can spend on purchases in those categories in any one quarter and still earn the bonus rate. You can only earn 5 percent cash back (or double the cash back you’ve earned with the current offer) up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back (or double the cash back you’ve earned with the current offer) on any purchases over that.

  3. Schedule your purchases around the bonus cash-back categories for maximum cash-back potential. For example, if you have been putting off a home-improvement project, you might be in a better financial situation for having waited to buy the items you need since home improvement stores are one of the categories this quarter.

More about it

All the aforementioned Discover it® cards offer similar features:

  1. No annual fee.

  2. Other fees are few: no foreign transaction fees, no overlimit fees, no late fee for your first late payment. Better yet, paying late won’t increase your APR.

  3. The new Freeze ItSM on/off switch, which lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.

  4. Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online and by mobile app.

  5. 100 percent U.S.-based service any time.

Zero intro APR credit cards

Despite the extremely similar naming strategy, there are a few differences between Discover’s cash back credit cards. All offer a zero-percent APR on both new purchases and balance transfers, for varying periods of time. Those more interested in paying off debt might consider Discover it®-Double Cash Back your first year, which provides a zero-percent introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months (and 6 months for purchases), then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99-22.99 percent, depending on your creditworthiness. Keep in mind that a 3 percent fee applies to each transferred balance.

Students get double rewards too

New customers applying for the Discover it® chrome for Students card can also enjoy double cash back you’ve earned, and the five benefits listed above, which apply to all the aforementioned cards. However, the rewards are a little different.

There are no changing bonus shopping categories, and instead students get 2 percent cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter, and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Of course, under the current offer that means double your cash back earned during the first year.

As with the other cards, after the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, Discover will double all the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the next billing cycle. You’ve earned rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period.

Always shop around

For people with the right needs, spending habits and shopping patterns, Discover’s offer could be exceptionally generous. However, it is always a good idea to shop around to find the deal that best suits your spending patterns.

Chase Freedom® is similar to the Discover it®-Double Cash Back your first year in that it offers 5 percent total cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter (and unlimited 1 percent cash back on every purchase), but you can also earn a $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

Then there are cards that don’t impose category restrictions on cash back earnings, like the Citi® Double Cash Card, the only card that earns you cash back twice on every purchase with 1 percent cash back when you buy plus 1 percent cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time.

Not looking for a cash-back card?

There’s no doubt Discover’s double cash back offer is worth a look. However, if you find miles more appealing than cash back, you probably should take a look at Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year, which is offering double miles at the end of the first year after new cardholders open their accounts. The card regularly offers unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases, so taking Discover up on its current offer means double all the miles you earned in the first year of card membership.

Visit CardRatings.com to learn about these limited time Discover credit card offers and to read a full review of Discover it card®-Double Cash Back your first year.

Curtis Arnold, CardRatings.com founder and editor-in-chief, is a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. Curtis is the author of “How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line” (FT Press, 2008). He is regularly interviewed by respected members of the press.










[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by schneier

It's common wisdom that the NSA was unable to intercept phone calls from Khalid al-Mihdhar in San Diego to Bin Ladin in Yemen because of legal restrictions. This has been used to justify the NSA's massive phone metadata collection programs. James Bamford argues that there were no legal restrictions, and that the NSA screwed up.

[syndicated profile] fashionablygeek_feed

Posted by Rielly

ffff_1024x1024

This family portrait of all your favorite cartoon characters from the 2000’s is “so tight”! Isn’t that what we used to say? Oh gawd, the 2000’s is officially far enough away that we can reminisce about it. But I digress.

See Also: This T-Shirt Is Completely Covered In Your Favorite ’90s Cartoons

This super fun tee features fan favorites like Jimmy Neutron, Totally Spies, SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, ChalkZone and loads more.

Product Page ($54.95)

topaz119: (viridian skies)
[personal profile] topaz119
Title: Viridian Skies
Fandom: The Avengers/MCU AU
Pairing: Clint/Natasha
Rating: NC-17/Explicit
Length: ~ 13,200 words
Notes/Warnings: Written for the [livejournal.com profile] be_compromised AU Exchange, for [livejournal.com profile] sugar_fey's prompt of steampunk.

Summary: In a world of airships and automatons, Natasha has accepted a mission for them that Clint is not at all sure about.

Link: AO3

(no subject)

Jul. 30th, 2015 20:27
owlboy: (Default)
[personal profile] owlboy
I'm reading The Fold by Peter Clines, it's pretty good so far. I was hoping it would be trippier with the quantum physics stuff, but oh well. I think the lead character is an ISTP. pain meds make typing hard, good night

Star Wars Rebels

Jul. 30th, 2015 12:12
schneefink: (ahsoka)
[personal profile] schneefink
I watched Star Wars Rebels, and it was a lot of fun :) I'm looking forward to the second season.

My favorite difference between Clone Wars and Rebels is between Chopper and R2D2. In the very first episode of Rebels the crew of the Ghost takes a vote on what to do, and Chopper gets a vote. Chopper is part of the crew! I love it. He's still technically property, but he's not treated that way (mostly. What were you thinking Zeb.) Nobody would ever think of leaving him behind.

More thoughts and spoilers: the crew )

The Empire )

Other thoughts )

Overall I enjoyed the show, it was good entertainment. It didn't really grab me in a way that would make me want to read and write more about the characters, I'm not sure why but that's generally mostly unpredictable for me. Another plus, unlike Clone Wars where we know it all ends in tragedy Rebels has more hope :)
[syndicated profile] amiablebowfin_feed

Posted by amiablebowfin

A map of the PG Plaza site.  The Mall at Prince Georges is west of Belcrest Road and East-West Highway, University Town Center is built on the triangular plot of land between Belcrest Road, Adelphi Road, and East-West Highway, and Belcrest Center and the PG Plaza Metro station are south of East-West Highway.

A map of the PG Plaza site. The Mall at Prince Georges is west of Belcrest Road and East-West Highway, University Town Center is built on the triangular plot of land between Belcrest Road, Adelphi Road, and East-West Highway, and Belcrest Center and the PG Plaza Metro station are south of East-West Highway.

The History of PG Plaza

The Metro station one station inbound from me, PG Plaza, is the only one of the four stations in Prince George’s County on the northern end of the Green Line to have significant dense development around it, and is probably the most densely developed of all the Metro stations on the four lines that run into Prince George’s County. Interestingly, much of the development around the station actually predates its 1993 opening by several decades.

While Prince George’s County was historically largely rural, a few areas near Washington, DC developed as streetcar suburbs in the early Twentieth Century. One of the major ones of these was the US 1 corridor that runs north through the northwestern part of the county to the University of Maryland’s main campus at College Park and along the B&O rail line from Washington to Baltimore.

Given the increasing suburban population in the area, it is unsurprising that the first regional shopping center in Prince George’s County was built in 1959 just west of US 1 along the newly constructed alignment of East-West Highway, a major commuter route connecting the area to the inner-ring suburbs of DC to the west in Montgomery County. (Until 1956, East-West Highway in Prince George’s County ran further south, along Ager Road and Hamilton Street to US 1; the current alignment was opened in 1956 through what had been a large parcel of farmland.

This shopping center, now called “The Mall at Prince Georges”—yes, they forgot an apostrophe—was originally named “Prince George’s Plaza” and kept that name until 2004, giving its name to the Metro station, and in common use to the whole area. It was originally built as an open-air shopping center and was enclosed as a one-story mall in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, in the early 1960’s, plans for the Northeast Freeway, which was to carry I-95 from the Beltway in College Park into DC showed it running along the Northwest Branch park, just to the west of PG Plaza. This encouraged developers to consider larger plans for the site, which still had a good deal of undeveloped former-farmland.

The new development, which surrounded the PG Plaza mall to the south and east, was intended as a new sort of suburban “town center” meant to counter what the developers thought were the problems with contemporary suburban sprawl. It was intended as a mixed-use development with ground-level retail, medium-rise office buildings, and high-rise residential buildings, similar to Century City in Los Angeles, which was developed at the same time. In keeping with the urban planning ideas of the Sixties, pedestrians and cars were to be completely separated: cars would be funneled into underground parking while the walkways between the buildings would be pedestrian-only with no vehicular traffic. This plan was encouraged by the contemporaneous planning of the Green Line; the developers were able to secure plans for a station at PG Plaza well before the route north of there was settled.

In an additional nod to Sixties-era urban planning dogma—and to the wishes of the established communities of University Park and Hyattsville on the east sides of Adelphi Road and Queen’s Chapel Road—the developers of what was to be called “New Town Center” (now named “University Town Center”) contributed the land along the west sides of these roads for low-density, car-oriented religious buildings with significant surface parking to form a buffer between the new dense development and the single-family homes to the east. Along with a significant number of churches and a synagogue, this buffer includes a M-NCPPC community recreation center and the first branch of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System to be built for the county as a library. This library, which from its construction in 1963 until it was renamed the “Hyattsville Branch” in 1966, was called the “Prince George’s County Regional Library”. The county wanted to name it after the recently-assassinated President Kennedy, but when his family was uninterested, they instead simply posted a plaque dedicating it to him.

Despite the big plans, the cancellation of the Northeast Freeway in 1977 and delays to the construction of the Green Line—the portion including the PG Plaza station only opened as a spur in 1993 and through-running into downtown DC began in 1999—resulted in a significant curtailment of the development of New Town Center. While the buffer area was built out, on the main site only three office buildings were built, surrounded by seas of surface parking. When I was growing up in the area, these office buildings were quite recognizable and seemed a bit out-of-place in the medium-density suburban environment, but I had no idea that a much larger development had ever been planned.

While I didn’t know about it, it seems that the opening of the PG Plaza Green Line station in 1993 prompted the original developers to request zoning approval to build up a more complete transit-oriented development at the site. Rather than completing the originally-intended plan, they decided to build a more modern “town center” with privately owned streets for slow car traffic with sidewalks. Several new office buildings, dorm-like apartments targeted at college students, and high-end condominiums have been added to the site, as well as a lot of store-front retail, including an under-construction grocery store. (Another grocery store has also been relatively recently added on the south side of East-West Highway along with a mixed-use development directly adjacent to the Metro station called Belcrest Center.) The popularity of the area has led to the development of other high-end apartments on the far side of the Mall at Prince Georges, between it at the Northwest Branch park, in addition to the long-estant lower-end garden apartments north of the mall.

Photos: The Mall at Prince Georges

An entrance to the parking lot at The Mall at Prince Georges. The mall is still surrounded by huge seas of surface parking with no garages. Eight-foot-tall fences have been installed along the median of East-West Highway to encourage pedestrians coming from the Metro station on the south to use the foot bridge.  Even if they do, though, they are still confronted by that sea of parking. Inside, it's a fairly conventional, if somewhat cramped-feeling, one-story mall.  I am still sad that the interior re-design associated with the name change resulted in them removing the "race track" of patterned colorful tiles that used to run just outside the support columns, and that I liked to make a point of walking on when my family visited the mall. The food court has been redone as well. And I was surprised to see that the central landscaping/fountain in front of the center anchor store was removed.  It was also very strange to see it as a Macy's: the store had always been a Hecht's until Macy's bought out that brand a few years ago. There is a sea of parking in the rear as well, and behind it garden apartments of the sort that are common throughout PG County, and seem to be the main form of multi-family housing here. Across the street on the west side of the mall, though, denser, higher-end apartments have recently been built.

Photos: The Wall of Faith

First United Methodist Church, south of East-West Highway. A view north along Adelphi Road showing the single-family homes of University Park, whose residents insisted on a buffer between them and University Town Center, and who largely opposed the construction of the Metro line. A Mormon church on the northwest corner of East-West Highway and Adelphi Road. The towers of University Town Center can be seen looking across the parking lot between the Mormon church and the Church of Christ church. The University Park Church of Christ, just north of the Mormon church on Adelphi Road. The Hyattsville Branch library (originally PG County Regional Library) with its iconic "flying saucer", which is to be preserved while the rest of the building is demolished and replaced next year. The M-NCPPC Prince George's Plaza Community Center, on Adelphi Road. The Beth Torah Congregation and Christian Fellowship Assembly on Adelphi Road. The Disciples of Christ University Christian Church at the corner of Belcrest Road and Adelphi Road.

Photos: University Town Center

The southwest side of University Town Center, looking north from the median of East-West Highway.  The white office building to the right is one of the three 1960's-era buildings from the first stage of construction.  In front of it is one of the remaining surface parking lots awaiting redevelopment.  To the left is a more recent office building, but one that is still older than me: my mom occasionally had to go to a bank there on behalf of the dance studio where she worked. The southeast side of University Town Center, looking north from the median of East-West Highway.  The building under construction will be a parking garage and Safeway grocery store. The west side of University Town Center, looking north along Belcrest Road. A view of University Town Center looking south from the northern end of Belcrest Road.  The northern half of the site still consists of surface parking and construction staging. University Town Center from Belcrest Road, at the northwest corner of the half of the site that is currently developed. Patriotic public art in University Town Center. The main street of University Town Center, looking south. The central plaza, with a fountain.

Photos: Belcrest Center

The front of Belcrest Center, facing East-West Highway.  Not a very pedestrian-friendly environment. The Belcrest Center and Metro station end of the pedestrian bridge over East-West Highway. The rear portion of Belcrest Center, with the Metro station garage. The Metro station garage, directly above the open-cut station; this design is unique in the Metrorail system.

A Note on Sources

Besides Wikipedia, my main source for this post was Chapter 12 of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson, published in 2009.


Filed under: Cities and Urban Planning, Washington

SG-1 Gen Fic Day roundup

Jul. 30th, 2015 12:48
fignewton: (Default)
[personal profile] fignewton
Here's the roundup for July's SG-1 Gen Fic Day!

First, Off-World Alphabet Soup: the complete anthology and table of contents are both coded already, although I'm not finished checking my HTML. I am still waiting to get a single reply to a question from one author, and then we can post. I'll update this entry as soon as the anthology goes up, and again when the TOC is up (I can't finish coding until I know what the URL for the Soup will be!)

We got some nice links to older fics and vids. Some were recs; others were self-recs (which are always, always welcome). They're listed here as they were posted.

vid links )

Now for the links to older fics!

older fic links )

We're just waiting on that final response for one author (any minute now...) and the Soup can go up, too.

Many, many thanks to all who participated! This was a fun one. We'll have to do it again soon! :D

please help

Jul. 30th, 2015 05:35
mickeym: (Default)
[personal profile] mickeym
Hi, there.

I'm reposting the link to my GoFundMe campaign. I really appreciate the kindness and generosity of the help I've received so far, but unfortunately I still need to come up with about $2000.

I got my car back from the body shop today, all fixed and shiny, but it also came with an electrical short issue that I've had to deal with twice in the past five years. The last time I had it fixed it was about $450 -- and that was in November of 2012.

So once again, if you can help out, even a couple of dollars, it would be so incredibly appreciated.

Here is the GoFundMe link: http://www.gofundme.com/zb3ueu2t

If you prefer to just do Paypal, my email address is kgasper@comcast.net

If you can't help out financially, maybe you could do a signal boost. LJ, Facebook, Twitter, wherever. (If you do a Facebook post, don't tag me/use my whole name, please. For a number of reasons, I'm trying to keep the under family radar.)

I have a few things to list for sale; when I get that all figured out, I'll post a link on here, in case anyone is interested.

Thank you, everyone. From me, Matthew and Megan.

This is cross-posted to LJ's wish_list comm, and my LJ account.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Here are some things that are facts:
  1. Most people either don't care about or actively despise most politicians

  2. Everyone in the Westminster bubble - politicians, journos, everyone* - is completely out of touch with actual public opinion, which is both more right wing** and more left wing*** than the Westminster consensus.

  3. The intellectual incoherence of the average voter's views and the fact that they can be both horrifically right wing and horrifically left wing at the same time has, since the early eighties, mostly benefited the right wing of the Westminster bubble.

  4. There is absolutely no guarantee that this is a natural law, it's just how it's fallen so far

  5. People detest those they perceive to be airbrushed, polished politicians much more than those they perceive to be genuine, even if they disagree with them.****

  6. Only one of the candidates for the labour leadership fits this mould.

  7. Proper lefties haven't had someone to vote for who has a chance of winning in decades. That does not mean that proper lefties don't exist any more, it just means they've either held their noses and voted without enthusiasm or stayed home.

  8. We don't know how many of those people there are. There could be, as the right wing media would like us to believe, hardly any. Equally, there could be loads. We simply do not know.

  9. However many of them there are, there is only one candidate for the Labour leadership who can enthuse them.

  10. Lib Dems celebrating that Labour are "abandoning the centre ground" are forgetting two things about recent history: firstly, that our time of greatest success in recent years was when we were explicitly to the left of Labour, under Kennedy, and secondly that trying to make ourselves equidistant from the two Labservative parties in the last election did not lead to much success
Now, I'm not saying that it's absolutely certain that Corbyn will win the Labour leadership, and go on to enthuse a country sick of austerity and being told we must bail out the bankers while minimum wage workers have to shoulder their share of the pain, far from it. But I think those who laughingly dismiss it as a possibility are hopelessly naive. Surely the one thing we can all, on all sides of the political divides, agree on after the last election is that none of us knows what the electorate will do? We were all so sure it was going to be a hung parliament, we believed the polls, and now look at us.

So maybe Corbyn is a leftwing dinosaur, a blast from the past, and completely unelectable, and will destroy the Labour party. Or maybe lefties under the age of 40 have NEVER had someone they can vote for, and Corbyn looks refereshingly unairbrushed and says what he thinks, and anyway retro is trendy these days. I'm just saying that perhaps those of us who aren't in Labour ought to be just a little bit more circumspect and a little less sneering, lest it all come back to bite us in the arse?




* and yes, I do include myself in this
** criminals and benefit scroungers should be hanged and flogged, immigrants should all be sent back where they came from
*** railways should be renationalised, pensions and tax credits should all be raised massively because working people on tax credits are not benefit scroungers
**** Even those embedded in politics, like me. For instance, Ann Widdecombe's political views are a foul stain on humanity, but I can't help but have a grudging respect for her because she at least seems to have a consistent philosophy and applies it with intellectual rigour.

challenge #018 - cut

Jul. 30th, 2015 19:02
fsf_mod: (kayla)
[personal profile] fsf_mod in [community profile] femslashficlets
Our prompt table challenge, Poems by Sappho is open, so be sure to head over and make your claim!

Challenge #017 is now over.

Challenge #018 is cut.

As always, femslash ficlets of between 100 and 1000 words are welcome. See our profile for more detailed rules. Thank you!

The Magpie Lord, by KJ Charles

Jul. 30th, 2015 08:00
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Carrie S

A-

The Magpie Lord

by K.J. Charles
September 3, 2013 · Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
GLBTHistorical: EuropeanParanormalRomanceScience Fiction/Fantasy

The Magpie Lord has everything I could possibly want from a m/m romance. It has a historical Victorian setting, it involves magic, one of the two heroes is short, skinny, and booksmart, and above all the main characters are presented as real, multi-layered people in a real relationship.

The story launches right into a grisly scene in which a guy who is wallowing in guilt and self-loathing tries to kill himself. I assumed I was in for a story about angst, but actually, the guy, whose name is Lucien, is generally pretty angst free. His family was abusive and awful, but he’s come to terms with their awfulness and now that his father is dead he’s pretty much rid of them.

Lucien is gay, but he feels no shame or self-loathing about this. His father exiled him to China where he lived for twenty years, and where, according to the author, sexual relationships between men were not considered terribly unusual or vile during that time period. So Lucien figures he’ll hang out in England long enough to tidy some family affairs now that all his shitty relatives are dead and then he can always go back to China if England proves inhospitable.

The reason Lucien keeps trying to kill himself is that he is under a magical compulsion to do so. He hires a magician, Stephen, to find out what’s going on and to put a stop to it. Stephen quickly figures out that the curse is linked to Lucien’s ancestral home and to the many horrid things the family did (really, they were pure scum) and to the many enemies the family made. In the course of events Stephen and Lucien fall in love, but they have the following obstacles:

  1. Lucien’s father destroyed Stephen’s family and Stephen is really put out about this. He doesn’t hold Lucien responsible but he definitely feels that the entire set up is a little weird and uncomfortable (he’s right).
  1. Stephen is much more cautious than Lucien about being outed as gay. Lucien had twenty years of freedom and Stephen had none, and Rich Guy Lucien figures he can always bail himself out and go to China if he’s arrested for sodomy whereas Stephan can’t even afford a new shirt.
  1. Whoever is launching magical attacks against Lucien has a great work ethic. The attacks come with stunning frequency. Really, Stephen is awfully busy just trying to keep Lucien from dying.

 

I would have adored this book even without the romance. It reminded me a bit of Jonathon Strange and Mister Norell, only with a fast pace (Strange and Norell is a great book that I highly recommend, but it is also 782 pages long in the original hardcover version). While the atmosphere is pure Gothic, complete with a mansion that is always dark and cold, Lucien has a totally matter-of-fact sensibility and dry wit. The contrast is delightful and keeps the story from being too oppressive despite a considerable amount of pure horror. The imagery is stunning, and the plot brings in many different aspects of responsibility versus innocence, and the ways in which various levels of society can screw each other up or bolster one another.

I loved the romance angle because Lucian and Stephen are such a great team. They balance each other well – Stephen, who is very intense, needs some of Lucien’s humor and Lucien needs Stephen’s skills and his perspectives on the world. Also, it’s quite delightful to have a romantic hero who isn’t a paragon of manly physical perfection. Lucien is a typical hero – lean yet broad shouldered, etc. Stephen is a short, slight man who is almost skeletal as a result of drawing on too much of his own energy recently. Stephen is also barely five feet tall, although events demonstrate that he can still kick an astonishing amount of ass. The way Lucien keeps thinking that Stephen is unattractive while clearly being madly attracted to him (he has great eyes) is adorable.

The one aspect of the romance I disliked was Lucien’s insistence on being dominant when it comes to sex. I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or a major trend in m/m, but almost every m/m romance I’ve read has this thing where one of the guys has to be the boss in the sack. These aren’t BDSM romances but one guy is always saying, “I’m in charge” etc. Surely there are real-life gay romances in which dominance is not a major theme in the bedroom, so to come across this as a trend is unsettling to me. In this particular romance, I disliked the dominance angle because Lucien is well aware of his status and physical power and the rapey history of his family, and he’s aware that some of Stephen’s family members have been raped (by Lucien’s relatives, at least, it’s implied that this is the case). It seemed out of place to make Lucien aggressive and domineering given that he knows Stephen’s history. Having said that, there’s a moment in which Lucien is being very aggressive and controlling and he makes quick eye contact with Stephen, to see if Stephen is really OK with all this. It’s a quick check in that establishes consent and an underlying tenderness. It’s a truly sweet and sexy moment. When they aren’t having sex, they interact very much as equals.

Lucien’s time in China has an interesting effect on the book. We never see his life there, but it clearly pervades every part of his attitudes in the present. I’m always eager to see more ethnic diversity and that is lacking in the sense that every main character in the story is Caucasian. However, because Lucien and his manservant Merrick lived abroad for so long, they are constantly reminding Stephen (and the reader) that Victorian England is NOT the only game in town, and that there are other world powers and other ways of living, both positive and negative. It may not qualify as a truly multicultural perspective, but at least it’s a global perspective. Lucien is not a champion of imperialism. He seems to have taken the Chinese people he met as individuals and he is not prejudiced towards them as a group. He is unashamedly opportunistic, but not exploitative. I appreciated his perspective throughout the story.

This book is fine as a stand-alone. It has a nicely wrapped up ending. However, there are several sequels in both novella and novel form (the series is called “A Charm of Magpies”). The other two novels do a nice job of developing the romance. For instance, the second novel, A Case of Possession, talks a little bit more about the whys and wherefores of their sex lives, and addresses the fact that Lucien is rather naive about the effect that their love affair could have on Stephen given that Stephen does not have Lucien’s resources and that homosexuality is illegal in England during the time period of the books. The third book talks about the difficulty the men have committing to each other and the difficulty they have getting their lives to match (Stephen has a deadly and physically and emotionally overwhelming job, and Lucien is often at loose ends). Be warned that while all the books contain body horror, the third is incredibly disturbing.  Great series, great romance, great horror, and great Victorian ambiance – what’s not to love?

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Posted by Redheadedgirl

Jane is a virgin Jane is pregnant Jane is as confused as you are - with Gina Rodriguez biting her lip and looking confusedIf the CW had sat down and said, “What’s a show we could do that would make romance readers happy? What would it consist of?” they could not have come up with a more perfect show than Jane the Virgin.

Smart sassy heroine? Check. Hot hero? Check. Fairly charming to a point beta dude? Check. Mixed up family? Check. Plot twists? Check. Big Misunderstandings? Check. RIDICULOUS CRAZYSAUCE PREMISE? CHECK. FUSCHIA? CHECK.

This show is both the show we needed and the show we deserved. It’s delightful. It’s self-aware without being precious. It’s a love letter to the telenovela while also winking at the conventions of the telenovela. Basically, it’s charming as fuck. This is a remake/inspired by the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, which aired in 2002.

Our heroine is Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), a 23 year old student who plans to become a teacher.  She lives with her mom, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), and her Abuela, Alba (Ivonne Coll). She has a boyfriend, and at a very young age, her Abuela told Jane to “protect her flower.” (Jane’s mother got pregnant as a teenager, and Abuela is trying to protect Jane from that circumstance.) Jane is a virgin and religious (but not obnoxiously so). One day, at the OB/GYN, she is accidentally artificially inseminated, and gets pregnant.

I told you it was crazysauce.

It gets better, though.  See the provider of the sperm is Rafael (Justin Baldoni), who runs the luxury hotel where Jane works as a waitress. She and Rafael had a moment five years before, when they kissed. The person who was supposed to be inseminated with Rafael’s sperm is Petra (Yael Grobglas), his wife (who is hiding from the Czech mob), but the reason the sample ended up in Jane’s uterus is because the doctor who was supposed to inseminate Petra and give Jane a Pap smear is Rafael’s sister and she was distracted because she’s been having an affair with their father’s wife (who is not their mother — that would be too weird). Also, Jane’s father has appeared- a telenovela star named Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camill) who did not know he had a daughter but now he does and he’s trying to be a good dad. And maybe reconnect with Xiomara.

I KNOW, RIGHT.

IT’S AMAZING.

The basic plot is “Jane becomes pregnant and has to deal with all of that” but there’s a spiderweb of side plots and ridiculousness that comes with the territory of being in the world of a telenovela.  What works is that there’s a voiceover narrator — who has a delightful “Latin Lover” accent (no, seriously, that’s what the show calls it)) who will remind you of pertinent plot points, do the recap, and slyly will let you know that he knows this is all bonkers, but isn’t it fun?

But you know what it is I like best about episodic shows, and that’s relationships. More importantly, it’s women’s relationships. The glorious thing about the world of Jane Gloriana Villanueva is that she’s surrounded by women who love her and support her. Her mother, even though she doesn’t always understand Jane, loves her and has sacrificed to support Jane’s education and to give her a good life. Alba, Jane’s Abuela, who really doesn’t agree with a lot of Xio’s choices, still loves her daughter and adores her granddaughter.  Jane’s best friend since childhood, Lina (played by Orange is the New Black’s Diane Guerrero), is there for Jane through the craziness of this entire plot.

Oh, sure, there’s the dudes- Rafael is very pretty and works really hard to unravel the mess his sister’s mistake has made, and Jane’s boyfriend Michael is a doggedly nice guy. They both have strengths and weaknesses, like any love triangle. But the focus for the show is Jane, always Jane. What’s best for her? For the baby? Jane is the driving force and always has agency. Even when faced with an unexpected and improbable pregnancy, Jane makes active choices about what to do about it, and her family supports her.

This is Rafael. He’s pretty.
This is Michael. He’s a nice guy.

Let’s talk about the cast. This show hinges on Jane, and Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez brings enough seriousness to sell it, and enough comic chops to make it work. This only works if the actors commit, and Gina is delightful and her comic timing is perfection. She has chemistry with EVERYONE (even a ficus). Everyone is great, but the other true gem is Jaime Camill, a Rogelio. He’s self-involved, fully into his own importance, but so charming! He tries so hard and spawns his own twitter hashtags. #RogelioMyBrogelio.

Also this show is about a Latina woman, and her Latina family, and her Latino community. Before she was offered the role of Jane, Gina was offered a role in Devious Maids, which she turned down because she didn’t want to be pigeonholed in that type of role as a Latina actress. Abuela speaks only Spanish (while Jane and Xio mostly talk to her in English, which I’ve seen many Latina/o people say is how it works with their older relatives), and the show does address the issue of deportation and illegal immigration. Because this bulk of the cast is Latino, there’s no pressure for one person to be completely representative. They’re allowed to be people with all their flaws and strengths and it’s not a statement about Latinos as a whole.

I admit I was dubious about this show when I first heard about it. It sounded too ridiculous for words, and I didn’t think any show could possibly work under that premise. I was also concerned about a religiously virginal heroine- it sounded like there was a chance for preachiness that I don’t find entertaining. But Sarah raved about it, my friend Ppyajunebug raved about it, and Linda Holmes at NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour raved about it, and if all three of them loved it, then there was a legit chance that I would, too. It’s so great to see a character who is religious, but positively so. She doesn’t preach at people (or the audience). Her relationship to God and the church is hers and not about anyone else, and that’s something I don’t think we see a lot.

The show manages to be a telenovela and poke fun at the conventions of the telenovela (long lost parents, mysterious twins, improbable coincidences, faked injuries, back-from-the-dead, always fantastic hair), and be a love letter to the telenovela all at the same time.  It’s so happy. It fills the place in my heart that Gilmore Girls (seasons 1-4) left without the undercurrent of meanness that happened in that show at times. It’s a perfect cupcake, and if you haven’t watched this show and need something to fill the summer hiatus, this is a perfect cupcake.

Season 2 begins airing on the CW on October 19th, season 1 is on Hulu, Amazon, and iTunes.

 

Much ado

Jul. 30th, 2015 09:30
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Her Grace and I have a most agreeable conclave at Madame Lisette's. We both think very highly of Mrs Fry's work and I confess to having sent a substantial donation, tho' of course quite incognita lest it be thought tainted money. I could, says Her Grace, quite favour engaging in this work myself, but sure this being a duchess involves a great deal of toil that I never suppos'd. Perhaps when I grow more accustom'd to the demands of rank I could reconsider.

That, I say, is how you must pose this to Lady J-. You should speak as if you intend active engagement in these good works, and she will sure offer to take them off your hands.

Her Grace laughs heartily and says that hits her off most exact. I have also wondered, she goes on, that with her love of musick, she may be persuaded to some association that advances publick performances. For altho' she is no great performer herself, she does greatly love that art. That might certainly answer, I respond.

We part with great mutual esteem, and I say I would ask her to convey my fondest regards to His Grace, but that our meetings must remain covert.

Returning home, I find a fine budget of correspondence. First I open a letter from Mrs S-, who says who could imagined what those wretched infants have done now? Can I believe that they have run away and come to seek refuge with her, here at the W- estate, because little V-'s mamma will by no means be dissuaded from the prospect of having her daughter a countess? And her brother came with her to protect her on the way?

She is really most ashamed of them, but Sir B- W- and Lady W- have been most kind in taking this in an easy way. And really, the brats are behaving much more well-conducted than she would expect. Little V- sits quite meek with we ladies as we stitch and gossip and sometime have one or other read to us (V- indeed reads quite prettily).

The gentlemen of the party (which now includes Major W-, Sir B- W-'s cousin, that is shortly bound for Upper Canada with his regiment) go out riding or with guns as well as visiting the quarry. My little brother no longer considers Mr S- some namby-pamby milksop of a scholar now he has seen him climbing about in pursuit of fossils &C. Indeed, when the gentlemen were discussing dangers they had passt through after dinner last night, while Major W- was able to give account of hunting lions at the Cape, Mr S- was able to contribute exploits up mountains and down caves in pursuit of geological knowledge that led him into some peril. Mr F-, I hear, said that there were enough dangers in an ironworks that he need not seek out any more, but as a silly young fellow was wont to go out poaching, and believes that he could still set a tidy snare.

She has of course sent post to their parents as to where they are, adding that the company were by no means surpriz'd at young V-'s dislike to the match and adduced very material reasons as to why it was injudicious. Mayhap that will halt stepmamma's ambitions, she concludes.

I then find a letter on much the same matter from Lady W-, who comments that young Miss K- is indeed very young and she wonders that her mamma thought it yet the time to bring her out. Sure she is a young lady that has already the appearance of ripe womanhood, but this entirely belies her unreadiness for introduction into society and gives an exceeding false impression. One can only suppose that the mamma had quite overweening hopes of snaring a duke as son-in-law. Her tenacity in clinging to the notion of wedding this baby to such a one as the Earl of E- suggests that ambition overrides due maternal feelings.

Mrs S-, she adds, is most apologetic for this trouble, but she understands that the children have no closer relatives they might call on, and they are less trouble than might be. Young Miss K- indeed goes about to be helpful in reading as they sew or winding silks and behaves with proper respect. The boy is a somewhat callow youth (they are in fact twins, she discovers, though one would never, as in the Shakspear play, mistake one for the other) but has taken a great admiration towards Major W- (is it true that he came near to fighting a duel over you? Sir B- W- refuses to disclose anything on the matter), also quite begs Mr S- that he might go a-fossiling with him.

Mrs S- has been making some charming water-colour sketches of the gardens. Mrs F- is of course a tower of strength. She herself is finding the process of parturition tedious in the extreme and only longs for the whole thing to be over.

There is also a letter from Mrs F-, who writes that she has chose a governess and that she and Mr F- were quite in accord on the matter. The party would all be driven to Bedlam by Sir B- W-'s fussing over Lady W-, but that his cousin that shortly goes to Upper Canada, and a young relative of Mrs S-, are of the party and he takes them out riding &C, which is a great relief. Mr F- also tries to draw him towards the quarry as much as possible and make him think of business matters.

Well, I think, here's ado, but these are matters entirely out of my hands.

sporky_rat: Torches outside the Bulgarian Communist Headquarters. (post from the ether)
[personal profile] sporky_rat
via http://ift.tt/1IrPAvZ at July 30, 2015 at 03:15AM:
“If you can’t beat fear, just do it scared.”
- Glennon Doyle Melton (via downwiththedown)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (Default)
[personal profile] calvinahobbes
I completely forgot to mention that before I read A Hero at the End of the World the weather was moderately nice and nature was doing it's thing, and late spring/early summer always reminds me of L.M. Montgomery's lush nature descriptions. I had this jittering urge to re-read The Blue Castle. I felt like I had only read it last year, but when I went back through my books tag it turned out it was actually 3 years ago! High time for a re-read. Spoilers )

I haven't been watching a lot of stuff, and it's oddly been mostly non-SFF stuff. I heard a lot of good stuff about Catastrophe, which is an Amazon comedy mini-series about an American man and an Irish woman living in London, who hook up there. She ends up pregnant and he decides to move to the UK to help her, and they haphazardly become an expecting couple. For a show about straight people making babies I enjoyed it quite a bit. Both of the main characters are engaging (the guy is a lumbering clueless American, and the lady is sharp and acerbic and neurotic and gr8), and their various exploits were mostly candid without being embarrassing. I'll definitely check out s2 when it comes out.

I also watched Camp X-Ray because of my Kristen Stewart crush. It's about a young soldier who takes a turn as a guard in Guantanamo and becomes friends with one of the prisoners. It's sadly not a movie about how hot KStew is (but nngh the way she chose to walk), but happily it's also not about a female soldier. She does experience harassment, but the story is never an Issues film, and her connection with Ali really transcends attraction and romance. It's a frank movie, without being too bleak, but it also falls just short of being really emotionally engaging. I understand why KStew chose this project, and I wish there were many more productions like this where women got to play diverse female roles that aren't specifically about The Female Experience but just the Human Condition.
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Imperial Geyser

Lemonade
 
Photographer: Heather Renyck
Summary AuthorHeather Renyck

Yellowstone National Park is probably best known for its geothermal features, wildlife and for being home to a supervolcano. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the largest nearly intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth. Lesser known, perhaps, is the biogeochemical nature of the park's many hot springs, geysers, fumaroles and mud pots. Shown at top is Imperial Geyser, found in the Midway Geyser Basin, about 3.5 mi (5.6 km) from the trailhead. This colorful geyser has an alkaline pH. The colors are a result of mineral precipitation and the work of thermophile microbes that can metabolize toxic metals. One of the microbes found here is Synechococcus, a cyanobacterium that thrives in neutral to alkaline, non-sulfidic springs. This cyanobacterium can live in waters as warm as 165 F (74 C).



The bottom photo shows Lemonade Creek in Norris Basin. Lemonade Creek, also a thermal feature, has an acidic pH. The green color is a result of a eukaryotic, thermophilic microbe called Cyanidioschyzon. This microbe thrives in acidic waters with temperatures between 104 - 131 F (40 - 55 C). Photos taken on July 2, 2015.



Photo Details: Top - Camera Maker: OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.; Camera Model: E-510; Focal Length: 9mm; Aperture: ƒ/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 100; Software: QuickTime 7.7.1. Bottom - Same except: Aperture: ƒ/7.1.
 

 

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