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Being a little silly sometimes is also good for one’s mental health.[/caption]Gail Z. Martin has organized the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign, and when she asked me about participating, it seemed important to add another voice.
In knocking around this world, one of the few things that has sunk in well enough to make it a daily maxim is this, “Be kind to yourself, because you can depend on yourself.” Build a treat into your day that is aimed at increasing your happiness in some small way: lunch outside, a long walk, that book on Amazon you want every once in a while.
In 2011, speculative fiction writer and teacher Cat Rambo moved her Writing F&SF Stories class from the live classroom to a virtual one, via the then-brand-new technology Google Plus Hangouts. A few years later, Rambo has taught literally hundreds of class sessions, and provides her most popular classes in on-demand form.
Now the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers adds three new teachers to its line-up: Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky, and Juliette Wade. Each presents both a live version of the class, limited to eight students and taught via Google Hangouts, as well as an on-demand version.
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Within the last few years, an industry has sprung up aimed at people who don’t know how to cook but yearn to do so. The basic model of such companies is that they deliver kits for making a homemade meal: the ingredients, with any pre-work like peeling or trimming already done, and a set of instructions that includes step by step photographs pretty enough to be in a food magazine.
I tried one of these services a year or two ago, lured by a good coupon deal, and did get some value out of it, but cancelled the subscription before they could start hitting me with the non-coupon costs. For someone utterly foreign to the idea of cooking, these might be useful to show how easy it is to create a tasty meal, or for someone scared of failure, they might build confidence. But the amount of wasteful packaging was striking, and that seems a bad thing to me. I don’t like creating garbage, because among other things, it means I must expend effort taking it out, but also because it’s bad for the planet.
The average American generates 4.3 pounds of garbage per day. That’s over a pound and a half over what the figure was in 1960. So we’ve gotten, overall, less efficient rather than more, while at the same time depending on resources that are diminishing.
Every one of the kits came in cardboard packaging around a styrofoam box with two large ice packs. I stuck a few of those ice packs away for re-use but there are only so many ice packs any household can use and they’re not recyclable because they’re filled with some sort of chemical solution. Every ingredient was packaged separately, down to tiny plastic bottles holding approximately a teaspoon of soy sauce. IF I had weighed the garbage against the end result, I would have found the garbage far in excess of the end result.
I think people should know how to cook, because it’s a skill that helps them make their life better in a number of ways. I freely acknowledge that people with few resources will have a hard time cooking, yet be in a position where the practice would benefit them tremendously. There are some low-cost appliances that can be of much use here, like a rice cooker, hot plate, or toaster oven, but using those efficiently takes a certain degree of skill and knowledge. These kits aren’t going to teach people some important basics, such as how to shop economically/efficiently, how to store ingredients, or how to prepare food.
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If you’re not familiar with SFWA’s official statement on Galaktika, here it is. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation overall, here is A.G. Carpenter’s write-up and here is Bence Pinter’s Hungarian article.
The SFWA statement is the result of a lot of work behind the scenes on the part of SFWA’s Grievance Committee, and I’d like to use this opportunity to both thank that committee and explain why it’s one of the answers to “why should I join SFWA?” (There are, in my opinion, a number of others.)
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No matter how many words I write, I cannot hope to put the magnificence, the splendor, the kindness, the warmth, the sheer amazeballs neatness of the trip. So here are some incoherent notes, jotted down in haste because otherwise I will just keep procrastinating on the writeup and it would be a shame to do so.
I was originally invited by the heads of the China World Science Fiction society, Renwei Dong, Haijun Yao, and Wu Yan, to attend the Chinese Nebula Awards ceremony in Beijing, through the kind offices of Ruhan Zhao. Later the invitation was extended by the company Xinhuanet for Wayne and I to then spend a week in Chengdu. It was our first trip to China; getting the visas got complicated and down to the last minute wire but finally everything arrived two days before the actual departure. Continue reading →
Like many folks, I read the Fireside Fiction report with dismay and anger, but not a lot of surprise. We’ve been talking on the SFWA Board about the findings this past week.
What can SFWA do about it? I could go in full guns blazing and demand that every editor involved in the situation resign and threaten to take markets off the Qualified List if they don’t shape up immediately. This action would, however, probably get nipped in the bud the minute I proposed it to the rest of the board. As I’ve noted before, SFWA is slow and hard to steer. Enforcement on this level is also difficult and impractical, I think, because this selection doesn’t usually happen in the open or in an overt way.
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I’m prepping frantically for WorldCon, and packing for five days of survival at a convention, including plenty of protein bars and laptop cables. Another part of that is assembling some giveaways. I’ve been clearing out my shelves and I will … Continue reading →
There are two impulses. One is to leave a legacy. Maybe it’s children or creations, good works, discoveries, or even a legacy of kind acts. There are other things to be remembered for, but those seem the most important. The … Continue reading →
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