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Reading The Global Pigeon by Colin Jerolmack. It's research for the girls who save the world from fascism through their magical connection to urban birds book. It was recommended to me by none other than Donna Haraway who I met through Katie King at FOGCon. It does not have in it what I intended to be looking for but it has all sorts of other things that I didn't know I needed. That last category is a mark of a felicitous reading choice, I think.


Other than that, I'm trucking along. I find it is better for me to work on a bit of this and that right now because I can't concentrate very well what with the sleep deprivation and the chronic intestinal issues. Oh yes and now I have a very mild neuropathy too, so that takes some of my focus away as I obsess over its progress--if it gets to a certain level we have to stop chemo to prevent its becoming permanent. As it is, my dose has been dropped. This phase of chemo is just to be sure anyways: there's reason to think that in many cases the first round withn the adriamycin/cytoxan is all a person needs. But survival rate is higher and recurrence is lower for people who've had both, so that's where we're going. But yesterday was 6 of 12 doses, so the light is at the end of the tunnel either way. The oncologist says most of her patients make it to dose 9 or 10, but some make it all the way to 12. I would like to get to 12 just to be sure (and also quite honestly so I can feel so very tough, but I don't admit to that often), but I'm fine with following her advice.

We've been repairing the outside of the house and clearing foliage because the painters are coming on Saturday. I probably shouldn't own a house because I'm not houseproud enough to do what needs to be done. Honestly when stuff gets broken or dirty I don't care enough at all. It's weird because I used to take pride in just doing what needs to be done and in mechanical competence. But I'm kind of broken a bit myself, I guess.

While at the library I also picked up a Tobias Buckell book because I keep bouncing off his writing and I want to like his work. And another book called Watermind by M.M. Buckner that was near it on the shelves because it looked interesgting and I've never heard of it or the author. I want to read more genre stuff that's more recent but it's hard at the library because most of the requests for material seem to be coming from the grognards.

Emma told me there's a magnificent petrified forest in Chemnitz and now I want to go there more than ever. My dream itinerary for next spring is: Eastercon, a couple weeks with Frank and Hana in Loughborough, some days in Paris with Andrea, and then on to Chemnitz, Prague, and maybe a bus tour of Poland and if my bro-and-sis-in-law are in Langaland, a few days in Denmark. I imagine it would be summer before I got back home.

I would also like to travel in the States some: to Portland to see my aunt and a friend or two, and maybe the Woodstock Memory Hole if anything is going on there right now: to LA to see my other aunt: to Houston to visit Nancy Zeitler, a friend who's been living there for years & I've never visited her there: to Silver Spring Maryland to visit Katie King, who I visited over a dozen years ago: to Chattanooga to visit Sharon Farber, who I visited 29 years ago: to Philadelphia, just to see it again after 50 years gone from it: to New York, to visit Phil Josselyn, who I've never visited & when he visits me I realize how much I miss him: and to Boston, to visit Mary Porter, who I visited 26 years ago but never in the house she lives in now.

That's a lot.
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Today's blood test results came shockingly fast. My blood counts have been only just barely out of the normal range, and today they are almost all just a wee bit closer to normal.My last dose of adriamycin/cytoxin was a little less than the doses before, because of my hands and feet bothering me, so maybe that's why I've started recovering already (it hasn't been very long).  Which doesn't explain why I'm so tired and have so little stamina. I'm starting to think that's in my head and maybe I should ignore it.Even the shortness of breath when I climb stairs. Maybe that's from indulging the tiredness. So maybe I should push myself more. I've already started making myself go for more walks instead of just taking Zluta to the dog park every time and sitting on the bench while she runs around.  But the walks have been shorter. And I missed a couple weeks of dancing and then  only danced a couple-few times because I felt like I'd run upstairs after each dance.

So maybe this is a self-created problem and I should power through it  I'll play around with it and see how I feel.

On Wednesday (five days from now) I start Round Two of chemotherapy--taxol. I'm taking it at the "less dense" option because the side efffect I'm trying to avoid is neuropathy, which I am more bothered by than nausea. But the less dense option is a weekly dose for three months instead of a biweekly, stronger dose for two months. So we'll see how that goes.

While I'm complaining: my tastebids have not returned to normal. Currently green vegetables mostly taste bad except for broccoli, starchy food mostly tastes weird and half-tasteless, and sweet things have no taste except for a hint of bitter. I end up only wanting protein foods with a fair amount of fat in them. Well, and porridge, which has a comforting mouthfeel even though it doesn't taste like much of anything. I just don't bother to sweeten it any more. Shredded wheat is okay too.

It looks like I'm writing again, slowly  but surely, one good day a week and several less sterling ones with some wordage in them. Also still researching, because I don't know enough about crows and pigeons. Though I know a lot more now. Yesterday I fell down a sartorial rabbithole trying to determine what some comfortable working class teen boys would wear in almostlike the thirties in almost like Central Europe and even though Google failed me egregiously (somehow returning every decade but the thirties, and no, I didn't put a minus sign there), I did finally find a vintage photos site whose tagging system worked for once and finally saw enough children and teens to form an opinion. Plus fours were a thing, apparently, and therefore, I can use them to differentiate class identification. I don't have to research the Sokol this time because I fell down that rabbithole a few years ago doing military history in Czechoslovakia and I still have my notes.

It's maybe going to be a darker book than the previkous one, buit I have to remember that these girls are going to save the world. So that's all right, right?

On another front, as Zluta matures she has decided that it is positively her job to chastize abnormalities in the night. Unfortunately she believes that if she can hear it, it is abnormal. Fortunately she seems to think that her barking is only effective if she performs it downstairs, so barricading the stairway caused her to give up and go to sleep.  She's pretthy insistent about me getting up pretty regularly, which is what I got her for. But for some reason she's letting me lounge and write as the case may be this afternoon.
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This fellow is living in a world that is rather like ours in 1890. He's working as an itinerant photographer and he has a boxed-in wagon and a largeish, bad-tempered horse. He's only modestly skilled at handling horses, though that might be ameliorated by the fact that he's a shrewdly manipulative person in general. What should I know?

How much and what sort of feed can my fellow get by with at minimum? What about water? How often does that horse need to rest? How long does it need to rest?

How does the horse's bad temper manifest itself? How do you placate a horse who doesn't want to take your wagon somewhere? (yes, placate, not intimidate)
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If I approximated this type of house in the Sims, which I could do by deploying all sorts of objects made for other purposes, the observer would be easily forgiven for thinking I was just being silly. I'm going to describe it before linking the pictures, because I want you to take a moment to try to picture it from my description before you look at it. When you first look at it, you won't see what's really there: no, because I have warned you, you'll look very closely and see it.

Right, so picture this: it is a blocky house in outline, with a moderately steep roof. Including the space under te roof, there are three stories. The ground floor, what Americans call the first floor, is lined with arches set with their backs flush to the wall. In the open ings of the arches you can see that the walls are made of squared-off horizontal logs, painted a dark red, brown, cream, or white. Sometimes the arches match the logs, sometimes they are painted to contrast heavily. The next floor (second floor to Americans, first floor to Europeans) is either more horizontal squared-off logs, sometimes with the caulking painted a contrasting color, or else a smooth white plaster, or it can be half-timbered. Sometimes it also has those bas-relief arches. The walls under the peaked roof are usually covered in vertical siding, or they might be half-timbered. The vertical siding might be quite rustic or it might be fine. There might be a decoration on this top section. There may be dormers and there may be a bay window or a balcony.

Now you can look at the page where the pictures come from. Look carefully, before you read the machine-translated text with them. Do you see that the arches are functional? The text explains it, or I might not have gotten it. The arches are to carry the weight of the roof away from the walls. I imagine it is to defend the house from collapsing in heavy snow. I've seem big blocky Central European farmhouses before but not like this, with these details of construction right there to be contemplated.

What I don' know from reading this is whether, a hundred years ago, very poor country people would live in house like that. I guess it doesn't matter much, as the villages around the old castle are not poor at the beginning of the novel.
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Some of my friends here were also participants in the science fiction newsgroups in the past, or possibly still are. You might recall some political fights there, some involving the affable David Friedman demanding "free market" approaches to almost everything (he did allow as how some things were "natural monopolies" but he didn't allow that any of these ought to be considered utilities that ought to be provided at cost by governments). So for these friends, as well as for myself, this is interesting. David's son Patri is out there putting the loathesome theories of libertarianism into brutal practice, in Honduras, where judges who cannot be bought can be eliminated.


on another front, I was just trying to translate this Verbunk song, and I bumped into this cute kid performing it! I finally succeeded in translating it when I realized that two of the words were variants that the dictionary and online sources didn't know. One was sheer intuition: at first I thought the solider was proposing marriage to a knife sharpener, but I decided that sharp sword would make more sense, so I looked up the Czech for "saber" and I was right. Here's the words and my translation (which I contributed to google!)


Bude moja žena,

šabla nabrúšná,

/: ona ně vyseká,

dyž ně bude třeba :/

Neumru na zemi,

než umru na koni,

/: ej a dyž z koňa spadnu,

šabla mně zazvóní :/

She will be my wife, sharpened saber, /: she will not cut when it is not necessary :/ I will not die on the earth, nor die on a horse, /: Ej and when I fall from a horse, my saber rings for me :/

dyž = když , when

šabla =šavle, saber

This took some sleuthing and instinct! And it totally counts as research for not-Poland.

and finally, I totally failed to appreciate Meredith Monk this morning, but I did try.

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Safety razors have been around for a long, long time. Disposable blades came later, though.
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In the last few dayus ther have been a number of really quite wonderful posts all around the web about the representation of women (and people of color, and etc) in fantasy and historical fiction. I know sometimes writiers feel oppressed by this kind of discussion, because it makes them feel like they have a to-do list on top of their plots and their lists of characters and their lsits of elements to keep track of and and and . . .

Well. All of my friends, online and off, have heard me whining for months about the difficulties of writing about war and wartime, the constant anxiety about getting things right, the frequent discovery of things I have gotten wrong that mean rewriting scenes and restructuring chapters and oh my dog do I have to do this over again now?

But. Reading a few offhand sentences about questioning the role of women in wartime has had the opposite effect from discovering that I had gotten shrapnel all wrong.  Well, not really. It had a similar but more exciting effect.  When I discovered I had shrapnel all wrong I had to read more about shrapnel and whine a lot and then go back to the very beginning of the war part and check over and over for mentions of shrapnel and also for times when I ought to have mentioned shrapnel or its effects and hadn't, and correct or add or subtract or whatever many tiny little things you might not even notice as a casual reader (but somebody who knows something about it would throw the book across the room, I am sure, if I had not changed it and I am sure I still have things like that so I am going to have to make some people who know things read this book).

But when I stopped to think about how women had comopletely dropped from the narrative four chapters earlier and how weird that was, it sent me back through these chapters in a different way. Because it made me realise that I had also missed a whole big chunk of the landscape. I knew already that they hadn't been solely fighting across ruined, bomb-scarred meadow and wilderness, but seizing and defending villages and towns (and cities, but not Yanek), but the scenes I had written were all in trenches and countryside (which is okay, however . .  .) and I realized that addressing these things actually solved some of the problems I was having in visualizing the war.

No, I didn't go back and write all the times they were in villages. I didn't introduce a new set of characters. But I just wrote bits of scenes, windows into the life of the countryside during war, women doing their regular jobs and their war jobs, soldiers relating to women who were doing war jobs.  There's so many little issues that are actually solved by including this aspect of  -- what? realism? (is it ridiculous to speak of realism at all in a story one of whose pivotal characters is a talking sow? and whose main character has green pictures growing on his skin?)  It's a matter of paragraphs here, sentences there, and the whole thing is much more grounded in its world.  And much easier to write from here on out.  I'm going to get into the post-war world! I can see it coming!

So, like many other times in my life, I have cause to be grateful for feminists.  This time it's feminist spec fic critics (and writers).

Oh, a couple of links if you happen to have missed this rolling discussion:
Women in History (Tansy Rauner Roberts at Tor.com)
PSA:Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical (Foiz Meadows at Shattersnipe)

be sure to follow the links in each article, and spare yourself some time for it.
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I finally found almost exactly what I need: a memoir of an Austrian soldier on the Eastern front in World War One.  Better would have been a Russian soldier, but this fellow's memories are completely apposite.  He talks about the actual daily work of a soldier in rapidly-moving trench warfare (unlike the Western front where nobody could budge for ages and the trenches were much better equipped anyway). Unlike war buff sites, which have been somewhat helpful when they have archives of photographs but the narrative is often at the war-game level. Honestly, I don't care which division went where unless you tell me what they did when they had to travel through twenty miles of forest, or how they got across the wetlands or that valley with all the creeks in it -- usually they don't even tell you what the landscape was like at all, so it really is like a board game. They think they're telling me about the "human" side of the war when they relay some hoary story about somebody's brave quips. Which, of course, I've already heard, thank you.

I'm relieved to find that I extrapolated pretty well on the information I already had. I only came across a few things that have story-altering implications. I think I have underemphasized some things, and maybe overemphasized some others, but I'll judge that in revision. Right now I'm resisting the rapid deployment of some Cool Bits that I may include in the revision after I have thought them over wth a cooler head, or I may leave by the wayside. 

One thing I'm struck by is that this guy in no way demonizes the Russians. He's proud of the fact that while the Austrians he saw were patriotic and devoted to winning the war, they were not, in his words "jingoistic." I don't know if this is the last shreds of chjivalry persisting into the 20th century, or a bit of precocious post-nationalism, or just a different kind of war fever altogether. It seems to me that in the US today, the people who support the war are the other way around. They don't seem to really love their own country, or their own people (they do use some patriotic, country-loving language, but mostly they seem to despise most of the people in it and a large number of the institutions that are supposed to define it, and they certainly don't seem to have any great desire to preserve the land itself), but they believe the most hideous things about the people on the other side of the war. I think it's telling that ever since the (first? definitely the second) Bush presidency, we've been seeing a lot of use of the term "the bad guys" instead of the names of the people on the other side, or even "the enemy." And "the bad guys" is not being used ironically by these people.  Now, I don't for a minute believe that my Austrian soldier speaks for all of Austria in World War One, and I can't say, because I've never examined it before, how much of Austria thought like him and how much of the country thought in more jingoistic ways.  So I can't honestly say I have seen a way to contrast the state of my country now with the state of that country then.  I guess I have to say I'm struck by the contrast between this guy in this memoir and some other fellows I have read about in my time and place and leave it at that, and not make generalizations like I just started to do.

Another thing I'm struck by is the terrible, terrible font this memoir is presented in. Why? It's small and muddy and dark and it takes way too much effort to read. I almost gave up. Instead I copied the text into my own word processor, and I'm really glad I did. I'm not generally a font snob -- I mean, I like Comic Sans -- but this was way too nasty and difficult.

Oh, yeah, it's the 30th so I have to account for the month, Really didn't nano, but oh my the research I have done.  I only wish I knew over a year ago that I needed to research this stuff, but at that time I thought "I'll avoid most of the war -- knock out a couple battle scenes, and then get on with the real story." I understand, of course, that that is intolerably naive. I probably actually knew it at the time. I probably thought I was going to skate by with a little bit of skimming things for Cool Bits.

But Cool Bits only decorates a story. To actually drive a story you need to know what you're talking about.
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Mucked up some stuff about how long a person stays in a trench, got the military organization kind of muddied and it needs to be clarified, well, it'll still be muddy but in the ways that I mean for it to be muddy instead of ways that I don't that might get in the way of a reader accepting the scenes, didn't deal with a thing I wanted to have dealt with before now -- the feudal-remnants aspect of military organization, think I need to better foreshadow this bad thing that's about to happen and also make it more unacceptable by making the guy it's happening to more of a presence, missed an opportunity to foreshadow something that happens a lot later, and I think some stuff seems to happen by magic and it ought to happen by normal processes? and I really just need to make some decisions, really, about what these trenches really look like because the waffling might be showing in the staging.

Other than that, it'll do until I'm ready to go rewrite that stuff. Right now, trying to set up, astage, and pace the very bad thing, along with another very bad thing, and figure out what kind of retreat the army is in at the moment -- a rout, or an organized one. The problem with not using actual history is that you have to make these decisions yourself instead of having a nice constrained timeline of what really happened.

I was always anti-war.  Not the kind that admits of no time when people need to or ought to fight. But the kind that hits the streets and carries the signs. But right now, because I have no boundaries about the little fake people I write about:right now I'm for taking every general there ever was, and most statesmen, and putting them all on trial, with the burden of proof on them. People who always read this stuff will not be surprised that the major source of my rage is the Eastern Front of World War One. Where the official strategy is to send men into the front lines with no equipment and the instructions to pick up stuff from the corpses around them. And "trench" means "trench," not "cement-lined bunker with cots and tables."

The thing is, there are times and places where men have to undergo this kind of experience because the alternative is unimaginably bad.  And then there's World War One, which was a game played by incestuous cousins on the outs with each other.

And there's also miners, even to this day, who in many places live just like that, minus the artillery, also to further enrich people who already have too much.

(but this book isn't about this, it's not an anti-war book, the war is just there because it is, but once there's a war, how can you skip over it and just write the fun stuff? Oy, I wish Bertolt Brecht was alive and would write me a poem to make fun of me and help me figure out what the hell I'm doing*)

*From To Posterity

Indeed I live in the dark ages!
A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
A hard heart. He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.

Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
And he who walks calmly across the street,
Is he not out of reach of his friends
In trouble?


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It wasn't as hard to write as it waould have been if I had tried to write it before futzing around for two weeks, looking at pictures, picking people's brains, reading stuff, making six or seven false starts. But it wasn't easy, and it will certainly need a lot of attention in the revision.

The next thing is between battles, and the one after that is another battle, worse than the first, and then an I don't know part to cover almost three years of more of the same (honestly, do you expect me to write scene after scene of this? in a book that isn't even about war?) and then the last battle my guy is in, and his capture, and then . . . I'll complain about that part when I get to it.

Some people I was talking about were surprised I needed to know all this stuff to write this.  This surprised me. What if I wrote that a howitzer shell grazed his ear and made him look, when it turns out he'd never survive that?  What if I wrote -- as I nearly did -- that they were carting their large artillery back and forth every day? What of I wrote, I don't know, any number of impossible scenarios? What would I do when people who know better said they couldn't believe the story? Just say "it's fantasy, man, get over yourself?"

Or I suppose I could just go "They battled all day and then it was night and they had conversations."

I think if I had had an ounce of military history buff in me I might have been able to wing it -- though that might have been dangerous, because what you don't know doesn't hurt you nearly as badly as what you think you know that isn't true --  but the fact that I have been resolutely cold about the whole subject for a parrot's lifetime means that I have to have a more humble attitude to this stuff.

on another front, two irreproducible recipes for you:

1. Something sweet with tahini, yogurt, and meyer lemon marmalade
Mix them together in proportions of about three parts plain yogurt, and one part tahini and one part marmalade. Eat. Maybe you could put it in the freezer for a few minutes, but not actually freeze it. The tahini and marmalade are slightly bitter, so it's really good.

2. Something inexplicable with green garbanzos and other vegetables
Lots of olive oil in the pan. A 12-ounce bag of frozen green garbanzos. Roughly equal piles of diced peeled broccoli stems and turnip, green onions, and then some amount of garlic and arugula. Sautee these until they are as tender as you want.  Mix in massive amounts of pesto. You can use any combination of vegetables, and you can also use less olive oil if you are scared of it.

On still another front: just in case I might be capable of forgetting about being allergic to rats, I keep finding old sign of rat in corners I haven't poked into since before the last invasion. When I'm cleaning it up I get the prickles, and the next day I am congested and stupid. It would be worse if I didn't take antihistamine as soon as I see or smell the stuff.
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De Bange is the real name of a French cannon designer.

I have actually found the information I need.  Well, a minimal version of it anyway.  At least I know how many strokes Yanek has to beat between firings. And I know what actions the gunners are going through.

Meanwhile, Hana and Frank send me postcards from castles in Central European mountains.  Frank's postcard goes on and on about zombie attacks and has a very disturbing picture on it. Hana's has a pciture of the castle on it.

On the survival front. One of my big worries is the flood insurance is due this month, and the insurance carrier won't do an installment plan.  I was going to barely squeak by with that before I lost my job. So I was frantic, thinking what will happen to my mortgage if I'm not paid up? So I called the credit union, which has my mortgage.  What will happen? Well, see, there's this thing called a "force payment."  It's . . .  an installment plan, stuck on to my mortgage.The insurance company does it.

I had a hard time comprehending this.  The insurance company won't do an installment plan for me when I ask for it, but the punishment for not paying the big lump sum when I'm supposed to is the installment plan I needed to not screw up in the first place? Whatever, I'll take it.

It may not come to that anyway.  The nice man says they don't move on it for a few months, and by that time I may be able to just plain pay it. And he started the modification process, which I was surprised at because it's a little loan to begin with. But lower interest is always nice. Oh, and I was paying extra, so I stopped doing that for now.

There's a moral to this: do your business with a credit union, not a bank.
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I want a nonfiction description of the work of gunners using large artillery. I want a blow-by-bulow description of hsetting up, handling ammunition, firing, all the things that have to be done in the course of operation, cleaning, maintenance, etc. What do I find on wikipedia?

specs.  Nothing but specs.  And lots of words, but nothing about the work of the men operating the things. It's all so abstract.
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What I found out today is:

It's highly improbable that narching soldiers can collaps a bridge by creating a resonance wave.

So the soldiers that did collapse a bridge probably did it by being too heavy for the bridge.

I tried to find out about archaic military discipline, but all I found out was that the goose step was invented to keep marchers at an even spacing, punishment in the middle ages and before was barbaric (who knew?), and armies tend to execute deserters. What I wanted to know was what happened to trainees in the time between the Franco-Prussian War and World War One when they screwed up in common ways, but I didn't. I did find out about the English army's "field punishment number one" and "field punichment number two" which are bondage exercises. But I have no idea if this has anything to do with eastern european practices, or practices in training.

I did find out lots of fascinating things about the Tsarist Army with respect to the Jewish draft.

Can you imagine a 25 year conscription? And they drafted little boys -- as young as 8, in the early 19th century (not just the Jews, other minorities), but they kept them in school till they were 18. And their children were deemed to belong to the Army also.

But again, the relevance is obscure, except that not-Poland is a fantasy world in which anything is grist for the mill.

If I post a word count will you promise not to laugh?

In the first eight days I did a bit less than 4000 words.
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From Wikipedia:
In 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War, when Paris was surrounded by Prussian troops, the French military used hot air balloons to transport homing pigeons past enemy lines. Microfilm images containing hundreds of messages allowed letters to be carried into Paris by pigeon from as far away as London. More than one million different messages travelled this way during the four month siege.

I cannot resist.
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So I needed, really needed, to know something about early telephone operators. Didn't find out what I wanted to find out, but I did find out that the first oens were teenaged boys, and that Emma Nutt was the first woman hired, and that she was hired because people thought the boys were too rude. And that's how it became a woman's ghetto. And in 1963 telephone operators were kept out of the Equal Pay Act. And that a Hungarian named Puskás Tivadar invented the multiplex switchboard, and refined its trechnology to make a telephone newspaper, where half a million people could be connected at the same time to a person reading the news, and that phone newspaper ran for trwenty years before switching to radio. Also it had opera every night and regimental bands in the afternoon. And I also found out that direct dial was invented in 1891 by a guy who thought the switchboard operators were diverting his customers to a rival.  And pay phones started in 1889.

Also, I have now a bookmark to a nearly unreadable 1911 Britannica article on the telephone.  This might could possibly just maybe come in handy later when I get more into Sasha's education, but then I might never use any of that.  Point being while Yanek is barely not dying on the front lines banging his drum in ancient battlefield communication strategies, Sasha is learning all abotu modern battlefield communication. 

Anyway, back to Yanek trying to get out of it and failing.
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My latest favorite musicians are these fantastic singers from Russia.  They are this year's Russian Eurovision entry.

Everything they do is magnificent, although I am less anamored of the covers of "Hotel California" and "Let it Be," even though the latter has some cute grandsons playing along.

On another front: Bosnia and Herzegovina abolished serfdom in 1918, and they weren't even the last ones -- that honor goes to Bhutan and Tibet -- 1959.

Also, there's this Ukrainian dance (also Romanian and a few other ethnicities), called "Arkan."  My brother used to dance it as a young man.  It's kind of the archetypical macho Eastern European dance, with stomping and high kicks and showing off and arms around the shoulders.  Tonight I discovered that at least in some places there was this tradition where the men would kidnap boys and bring them to a bonfire where they would be made to dance this dance with the men and thus be initiated as an adult who could marry and tend sheep.  I am not making this up.  I couldn't make this up. 

I also am now thoroughly confused about just who was expelling whom from which villages throughout the 20th century.  There was a lot of it going on.  The end result, at least in this one area I spent a lot of today reading about, appears to be vast tracts of utterly empty land with houses gone to ruin and the families scattered all over the globe.  I already knew that there was a large area where several of the dialects could be and are equally justifiably assigned to Polish, Czech, Slovak, or Ukrainian, depending on the language ideology of the observer. 

I also am more confused than ever about what it means to own villages in that region.  I had this picture in my mind of a long-established nobility in at least part of the landscape, with landed folks claiming ancestry going back hundreds of years, but looking at these villages and the estates that claim them, with records going back to the 1500s, it looks like the ruling class had a complete turnover every two or three generations, with partial turnovers between.
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I hate what I'm writing right now. I hate that I'm writing no more than a few hundred words a day because I hate what I'm writing.  I hate that when I went to revise the earlier parts and get back on track nothing really changed (that should be a good sign,  shouldn't it?  That it was all okay or something?  But it felt, rather, like I just lack the imagination or insight or whatever to see what's wrong).

I hate that I am writing so slowly because I hate it so much that I keep drifting away to do trivial crap instead of writing. 

Oh well.  I now know more about saltpeter than most people, anyway.  I still don't know much about guns, but I won't need to, I think, since Yanek's weapon is a drum.  I may need to know a bit about ballistics so I don't get the battlefield scenes ridiculous.

I'm a bit worried, too, about some details about saltpeter production.  Like, okay, in the method they're using, a lot depends on bacterial action.  Since it's an organic process, is it at all seasonal?  Do the little germs slow down when it's cold?  Or does the compost-like nature of the salpeter berm setup keep them warm anyway?  Is it ridiculous for the survey team to commence its work in midwinter?  I was thinking that having the ground hard from freezing might make some of the mapping tasks a bit easier.

Frank was suggesting that they're using mostly peat for fuel rather than mostly wood, which bothered me at first because my understanding of the geography involved only relatively narrow seams of peat running through an otherwise neutral-to-alkaline fen, but this mornign I realize that's really quite appropriate.  Ecological destruction is really quite appropriate for the story, unfortunately.

On another front: I need to discuss with my doctor the possibility that my statin is contributing to my muscle problems.  I'm getting a return of the pain now that my leg muscles are growing back.  Apparently, simvastatin is not in the category of worst offenders in this regard (there's one that was taken off the market because it was ten times more likely than the others to cause muscle breakdown leading to liver failure), but there is a category that is less likely to cause these problems, and maybe we should consider switching me over for the just in case aspect.  Partly because the pain is demoralizing, but also because there are potentially crippling or even fatal consequences if it is the statin-involved type of muscle problem.

edit: I finished the damned chapter. Next chapter's a damned one too, but it ought to go a little bit better.
ritaxis: (Default)
So you've got a block of buildings with an open space in the middle. It might be buildings from the Middle Ages that just survived till the present day, or it might be ones from later on, but you have the same thing, tenements (or rowhouses or apartments, whatever) all tightly closed around a space in the middle.  In back of all those buildings, whatever direction you come from.  What do you call that space?

I've been calling it the yard, though in my brief European forays I do not seem to have noticed that anybody in particular seems to think of it as their yard. When I was in Prague I didn't visit any apartments in a block like that, I just passed by them, and I could rarely see through the passageways into the (yards).  The passageways clearly went right through the buildings to the back, but they were usually closed off by gates.  The few yards I could see looked kind of underutilized: not landscaped, but not full of either stuff people were using or garbage either.  I saw a couple of trees, but they looked like weed trees. 


For that matter, what do you call a block like that?  Sometimes it looks like the whole thing is one thing, other times they are obviously not.  And what do you call those passageways?

I did get to visit a very pleasant Soviet-era apartment building (panalok), and an apartment carved out of a neo-baroque former film studio, and a dormitory(kolej) in  a former Soviet-era motel.  So I have seen what some of the cheap housing in Prague looks like, but not all of it.

On another front, I had my last physical therapy of this run (and no doubt I will have more of them in the future), and while I took today off work as a preemptive move, I did not stay up all night with pain after the deep tissue massage.  Rather, I woke up now and then to a highly annoying but by no means unbearable single point of pain.  Win!
ritaxis: (Default)
Went haring off to find out how automobile side windows opened at the turn of the century . . . to discover that they didn't have side windows, or any sufficient protection tio drive around in winter time, until the 20s, which is kind of too late.

How on earth am I to transport Yanek and the Duke's children around the landscape in the middle of winter then?  They'll freeze if they have to drive in an open car for several hours.  Carriages?  What about the horses?  Didn't they suffer horribly in that cold?
ritaxis: (Default)
What on earth is this bridge thing for?  It doesn't have a sign on it, and it's clearly not for traveling between the houses.  Is it reinforcement, to keep the buildings from collapsing into the street?

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