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heliopausa
Just to gather up in one place the various scattered bits and pieces I have done:


this is the collection...Collapse )


This entry was originally posted at http://heliopausa.dreamwidth.org/385.html. Please comment here or there.

Democracy in action
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heliopausa
Phew!  What a few hours that was! Today I went voting.

The Australian electoral system, which I love and staunchly believe is one of the best in the world, demands a lot of the voter, and I spent quite a while this morning going through the dozens of candidates for the Senate in my state.
The House of Reps is easier, just a handful to sort through, and not too tactical a vote needed, but for the Senate I printed out the lot, and checked them all out - parties and policies and past associations - and then sorted them into three lots:
 - those who were never, ever going to get any kind of vote from me, and
- those whom I really wanted to get in, who were getting a high-ranking preference vote that will actual count, and
- those who were pretty much getting a preference just to make up the numbers.
(For the Senate, those who vote "below the line", that is to say deciding not to let a party preference deal decide how the vote falls, must vote for at least twelve candidates - hence I needed to vote for some to make up the numbers, even if I didn't think they'd be brilliant members of the Senate.)

And then I took myself and my carefully annotated form guide to the Embassy, and voted.  Job done!  :)

***
This person's not in my electorate, and as an Independent his chance of getting in is vanishingly small, but I was very taken indeed by his campaign video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO-TleNQCfM  (just under a minute, and worth a look, if you enjoy politics!)
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Mildly cheerful news
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Two Southern White Rhinos have been born at a safari park/zoo in Vietnam.  :)
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/features/20190505/rarity-two-white-rhinos-successfully-delivered-in-vietnam/49886.html
They were actually born a couple of weeks back, but I guess their keepers/carers wanted to be absolutely sure that all was well with birth and post-birth and bonding and suckling, before making the announcement.
It's the Northern White Rhino which is on the verge of actual extinction, of course, but the Southern is endangered enough that two more successful births are good news.  Also, the news story noted that "the mother rhinos stayed within one meter of the baby rhinos most of the time. Meanwhile, the two calves themselves would not stop running around the playground, giving their mothers quite a tough time to catch up", which was a picture I found very endearing.
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In one place, for a little bit
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May Day greetings to you all!  Workers' rights and bunches of lily-of-the-valley.

I've been travelling a lot, to Australia and New Zealand, mostly because of family members being ill - and it's really good to be back.  :)  Australia - the parts I was in - was showing the impact of a long, hot summer, with dry, dry gardens, and produce like tomatoes astonishingly expensive - at least, I was astonished to be charged a dollar more for a cheese-and-tomato sandwich than my friend was for a ham-and-cheese; both my friend and the sandwich-shop woman laughed at me for being surprised.
New Zealand, though - oh, what a beautiful, damp, green country that is!  A magic country - no wonder they did all the Tolkien there.

(no subject)
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Not knowing what else to do, I took flowers to the local mosque here this morning, and left them with a short note.  There was no-one about to speak to, to explain what I was trying to say, so I only went as far as the forecourt, and left them lying to one side of the steps.  So that may have been an action of null effect.  How to counteract the spread of hate is the question, and I pretty much have no idea.

I've been pondering the relevance of the story (the true story) of Wanda Landowski playing Scarlatti as the Nazis began the bombardment of Paris.  Salute to those who can keep their focus on the good things (including beauty and personal safety) in the face of hatred and destruction, I guess.

(This four-minute Youtube is the recording of that session:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4KTgT1WTOE )

update:  I got a message from the Chairman of the mosque, expressing thanks for the word and gesture, and asking a blessing on us all.  I'm glad that the flowers and note were seen, and taken in good part.

Gingerbread and many fics
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I am deep in the throes of gingerbread house-making.  Yesterday I was in genuine fury about our horrible government, stymyieingly so,and I still am.  This morning for the first time in forever I didn't even want to look at the morning news, so you can guess how unsuited I am to be making gingerbread houses.  But... tradition is there, and there it is, so I'm deep in the throes of making multiple gingerbread houses. 
Supposing they stand up this year (one year there was a distressing case of subsidence) I'll post a picture in a day or two.

In between times I've been catching quick glimpses of the Three-sentence Ficathon being run by [personal profile] rthstewart  on Dreamwidth, and have managed a couple of fills - one about Narnia's Peter, as Emperor of the Lone Islands (great prompt, [personal profile] priscipixie !) and one offering a spot of literary revenge to Mary Bennett (thank you, anonymous, for that chance!).

And there's been some great fills for the prompts I've thrown out -

A lovely Wodehousian moment at a pawn-shop window, and two terrific meetings between two Susans, Timelady  and Queen - here and here.

Many wonderful prompts remain (not mine!  I've only put up a few - of those Consort Jing and Philotis are left :) ) covering a multitude of fandoms - anyone can play, so...  :)

But the sides of House #1 (with heart-shaped 'stained glass' windows!) are just about due out of the oven, so I'd best get on with cutting out the front and back.

This entry was originally posted at https://heliopausa.dreamwidth.org/69769.html. Please comment here or there.

Ten days in Bangkok
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I'm just back from an unexpected ten days in Bangkok - work-related (and work-paid-for) but with quite a lot of time to wander about and see what could be seen.  Things seen included:
- monitor lizards! Seen on several mornings, lazily swimming and hunting (or scavenging?) in the canal next to the hotel.  Such fat bodies, alert heads, and long, whippy tails!
- the canals themselves - what a brilliant way to deal with a wet, wet, down-river city!
- the house of Jim Thompson, ex-OSS operative (OSS was what later turned into the CIA, and thereby possibly hangs an untold tale) who collected Thai (and other) building components, and rebuilt them into a house for himself, from which he ran the international business which revitalised the Thai silk-weaving industry.  Lots to see there, in the way of collected antiques etc, but what I liked best was this Chinese mouse house*:



It's nineteenth century, and was not intended as an art piece, but for amusement and gambling; several identifiable mice were put in it and let to wander and peek out at will, and children could enjoy their unexpected poppings-out, and adults could bet on which mouse would appear where.  (I hope after the evening's fun the mice had a bigger yard to play in out the back, with such excellent mouse-food as they best enjoyed.)

* not my photo! taken from the website jimthompson.com

Year's end approaches
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The fish were released into the rivers and lakes last week, and branches of peach-blossom have been going by on the backs of motor-bikes - even biggish whole trees, though those are more often for renting than buying.  And of course the little cumquat trees are all about, with golden fruit; the best trees, the luckiest, have fruit, and fresh green leaves and blossom, all three, to indicate three generations of family all prospering and well.
And Thursday night will be the night of most intense anticipation, and midnight will see the year roll over, and fireworks, and people walking through the streets (not a parade, just going home or wherever) carrying long stalks of black sugar cane, and the Year of the Earth Dog, Mậu Tuất, will begin.  May it be a good year for all of us.

Books read in 2017
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E. F. Benson The Luck of the VailsWhy read this? Is it recommended?Collapse ) 

Dorothy L. Sayers Unpopular opinions Why read this? Is it recommended?Collapse ) 

Lois McMasters Bujold Komarr and A Civil Campaign  Why read this? Is it recommended?Collapse )

Hannah Craik Olive Why read this? Is it recommended?Collapse )


This entry was originally posted at http://heliopausa.dreamwidth.org/63104.html. Please comment here or there.

Reading and listening, mostly
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This year has flashed past, and I've read hardly anything in the way of serious whole-book reading, and now I'm turning to in an attempt to better that poor record.  The book in hand (ie on screen) is The Prime Minister spurred thereto by blueinkedpalm's comments on some preceding Trollope novels, most recently The Eustace Diamonds and Phineas Redux.  I've enjoyed her thoughts so much!  And the interesting scraps of side-knowledge she finds, as for example that Trollope's publishers jibbed at the title of Phineas Redux, thinking that the novel-buying public wouldn't understand it - which shot to ribbons my notion of how much Latin middle-class Victorians would know.  (I thought lots, but evidently not.)
One of my plans for this year was to read all the Palliser novels right through in order - a plan which blew away like leaves before the wind, but which now I can at least part-meet, with this one book.)  Trollope - he barely makes it into the Big Victorian Novelists list (Dickens! Thackeray! Eliot! and oh, okay, maybe Trollope if you insist).  Maybe because he's too comfortable a read?  Or maybe I just haven't read the tougher Trollopes - though the end of Sir Roger Scatcherd is pretty grim. And Sir Louis, too.  :(

My reading has of late just been posts here and on DW - and thank you all very much - and in newspapers, which I check every morning to see if things have blown up yet.  (That's probably a joke.  Or might as well pass for one, anyway.)  But excitingly, I found the other day this item of news, announcing that an examination of cicada wings has revealed that the wings' physical structure is an effective destroyer of bacteria, that the "wings represents the first example of a new class of biomaterials that can kill bacteria on contact based solely on its physical surface structure" - i.e. possibly all sorts of things, but in amongst others, a counter to antibiotic-resistant golden staph, which I think would be brilliant.
(I was never the alert, scientific Australian child they mention, who took different species of cicadas to school, though; I was the regrettable kind who found the wings and pretended they were fairies wings.)

So that's reading.  I've been listening to things as well, though.  Lots of Lord of the Rings, which has alerted me to:
Meandering about LOTRCollapse )
And I've also been listening  to Paradise Lost.  I was hoping that a long Miltonic poem would be just the thing to lull me to sleep, but the Youtube version I found has dramatic growly demonic voices, punctuated as appropriate by bursts of high wordless heavenly song, not at all the mildly interesting drone that was needed for my purpose.  Even so, I did manage to fall asleep, or asleep enough to think I was hearing bits of "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan..."; I thought I heard "sinuous rills" and "fertile ground" and more, but it was just a semi-dream.  "Fertile ground" is there, actually, but nothing else - though there is mention of: "the destined walls/ Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can", which I was pleased to find.