dawn_felagund: (feanor fall)
Okay, at long last, I am sharing the video of my presentation at the New York Tolkien Conference here. The full title (which will not fit in the space allotted for titles) is "The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works." It discusses both the evidence for historical bias in Tolkien's works (especially The Silmarillion) and how the fan community uses that bias to create fanworks.

You won't be able to see the data and other visual aids on the screen behind me. That data (as well as a detailed synopsis of the paper) is available on my blog The Heretic Loremaster.

Also, a friendly reminder that The Heretic Loremaster does have a feed set up on both LJ and DW at [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed. Following this feed will bring new HL posts directly to your flist. Because my journal has come to be just that--a journal--it is usually the last place that I bring fannish stuff; however, I know a lot of people who friended me here did so because of our shared fandom involvement, so if you miss seeing that stuff here, the HL feed might help a bit. (Just a bit because it is infrequently updated thanks to my grad school schedule!) Also, please remember that I have no ownership or control over this feed, which means that I don't receive comments left on feed posts. Please comment directly on the posts themselves; no membership is required to do so.

The paper will eventually be available to read but I need to clean up citations first. If you don't mind my sloppy sourcing and want a copy early, just let me know.
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (skeleton black sails)
Bobby of got-a-perfect-score-on-his-Outdoor-Emergency-Care test has been, not surprisingly, drafted into becoming an instructor with Ski Patrol. As a result, he has been teaching parts of classes at the most recent Outdoor Emergency Care class on Friday nights. We grab a snack on the way home, he goes to class, and when class is over, we meet somewhere in Westminster for a very late dinner. Since his class is an hour south in Rockville, he takes the Yaris, and I drive the truck to meet him.

Over the winter, we had some problems with the battery in the truck. It was supposedly "new," but who knows if it actually was. Used car dealers and all that. Since the weather warmed, we haven't had any problems.

Bobby is also working to establish a nano-reef tank. It is right next to the couch where I sit and work on the the computer. On Friday nights, I take up my post and put my phone on the aquarium stand so that it's on hand when he calls, and I don't have to worry about it sliding off the arm of the couch.

Last night, he called, and I got up to get ready because I was still in gym clothes, and I left my phone on the aquarium stand. I started down the hill toward Westminster, and the gas light came on in the truck. I hadn't even realized it was so low or I would have stopped after the gym. So I turned into town instead of toward Westminster when I got to the bottom of the hill to stop at the Sheetz in town. It is overpriced and the parking lot is weird and someone was busted for having a brothel out back when we first moved here, but hey, when you're desperate, it's better than walking a few miles for a gas can. And I figured it would only make me five minutes late for meeting Bobby.

I have never put gas in the truck before and couldn't find the release for the gas door, so I had to look it up in the owner's manual. (Only to discover that there is no release!) So I had the interior lights on, plus my headlights, while sitting at the pump doing this. Then I put in 10 gallons of gas, which took a few minutes. You might see where this is going.

I got back in the truck and went to start it. clickclickclickclickclick ... NOTHING. I may have then said a few four-letter words of Anglo-Saxon origin. I thought, well maybe because the gas had been so low, it needed fuel in the lines, so I pumped the pedal a few times and tried again. Nothing. The thought never crossed my mind about the battery because I couldn't imagine that the few minutes I'd had the lights on while reading the manual could have drained it.

So I went in my purse and guess what? No phone because, of course, the phone was still on the aquarium stand at home.

By this time, Bobby was probably arriving in Westminster. All I could think about was him worrying over me. I wouldn't show, he'd call, and I wouldn't answer my phone. Eventually, he'd go home, and I wouldn't be there either. He'd never think to look at Sheetz because we use that gas station maybe three times a year.

At this point, my options started to look like a decision tree, and I was down amid the leaf rot at the roots. I could see two options: 1) I could maybe find someone in the gas station who would loan me their phone, or maybe the gas station would let me use their phone, or maybe they even still had one of those dinosaurs of communication, a pay phone, on premises. Or 2) I could run the mile or so uphill back home and maybe get there when Bobby did.

The first seemed the better option. Only I don't have Bobby's cell number memorized. Brilliant thought: I'll call my parents! Even if they don't answer, I'll leave a message, and maybe they'll get it and be able to contact Bobby!

Except that my parents are in Vegas right now.

So I started to riffle through first the glove compartment, then my wallet, looking for anything with a phone number on it. I found insurance information and an old prescription from one of Bobby's injuries. Both had our address but no phone number. I started on old service receipts, hoping they had maybe recorded a contact number. Meanwhile, I'd started some honest-to-goodness Positive Self Talk about the possibility of running home. "Dawn, you can do it. You're strong and in good shape. It's all uphill, and yes, that will be a bitch, but this is why you go to the gym!" (It's not, but you're allowed some little white lies during Positive Self Talk.) "Yes, you are wearing slip-on Toms shoes, and your feet will get torn up, but your feet get torn up regularly on account of being shaped oddly anyway, so that's nothing new, and you'll be fine; it won't hurt while you're doing it! They'll be mostly healed in time for Ocean City next weekend!" I was worrying very hard about Bobby worrying about me. I didn't even dare look at my watch to see how late I was.

And then a guy walked up and asked if I needed help starting the truck. Cue tempered relief. The problem wasn't solved yet but maybe ...

He told me to try to start the truck again. He said it sounded like the battery or the starter. I'm glad he knew! I started hoping for battery; that we could solve here. He said he'd try to jump-start it and see if that worked, so he drove his truck over (of course he drove a truck! white knights in Carroll County always drive trucks!) and we had a good laugh over the series of unfortunate events that had placed me in this predicament.

And the jump-start worked.

I thanked him about a dozen times, and he said, "No problem. If it was me, I'd hope someone would do the same." Remind me of this when I'm rolling my eyes at my fellow county citizens.

I well exceeded the speed limit driving home, and as I ran into the house and picked up my phone from the aquarium stand, it rang in my hand as Bobby called me for the umpteenth time. He had just left, fearing I'd broken down on the road and knowing me well enough to know that I'd probably forgotten my phone.

Moral of the story: He picked me up and we had an even later dinner than usual. And we're getting a new battery for the truck.
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
As word of Baltimore's troubles becomes national and now international news, people are starting to contact me, so I'm going to start by saying that Bobby and I are fine. We live about an hour northwest of where the worst of the violence and rioting is taking place. I am in school right now; almost no students are here (14--the attendance list just came in), since City schools closed today. Social media is reporting that there will be a riot at Security Square Mall, which is about a mile from my school. That is the closest it should come to either of us. (And my school is in a business park, not a commercial district, so no, I don't think there is much risk of any chaos at Security reaching us. Hopefully, they will preemptively close the mall today as they did Mondawmin Mall yesterday and Towson Town Center last night, due to similar social media activity.)

I thank everyone for your thoughts and concerns. Please think of my students, many of whom do live in the areas affected (and many of whom will get themselves embroiled with the chaos).

We were supposed to have a field day today, but that has been canceled due to the potential violence at Security.

Huffington Post has a good article summarizing everything so far. Some of the pictures are staggering. I am bitterly disappointed that yet again an opportunity for peaceful protest and constructive dialogue has been hijacked by a spectacle of violence and chaos, but the picture of the woman "looting" a CVS for diapers? Does kind of say it all.

The short version: a young African American man, Freddie Gray, died in Baltimore City Police custody after suffering a broken spine and trachea. His family pleaded for peace, and there were peaceful protests this weekend, but you know that if any city was going to turn up, it would be Baltimore. As I said, I am disappointed that the chance to turn attention and possibly inspire change on the very real problem of racial bias and brutality among U.S. police departments (and the BCPD is a very well known offender) will instead turn into gawking once again at the chaos. I've been talking to my students about what is going on; I can assure you that what motivates what is going on in Baltimore as I write this is not rage at injustice or a desire for change. As one student told me this morning, watching the riots on TV last night, he thought it "looked fun." I've been trying to talk with them to help them see the social justice issues that are at the heart of this--and we read MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" earlier this year and they went to see Selma, so they have that background--and maybe consider how doing things just because they "look fun" might hijack that movement for justice and end up providing the means for injustice to be further perpetuated. But, as I told a friend this morning, it is like trying to talk down a tsunami.

It was illustrative when I went on Slate last night, and almost every article at the top of the page was about Baltimore, and most of the titles had the tone of "We knew Baltimore was bad but damn."

It is a sad time for a lot of reasons, and my feelings are extremely complicated right now.
dawn_felagund: (yavanna earth)
Wednesday was Bobby's 34th birthday and also the last day of our trip, so we saved the excursion we were looking forward to the most for this day. Shell Island, as I noted in the last post, was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the channel between the Grand Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico to allow for the passage of shipping traffic. It is an uninhabited section of the park with absolutely no amenities and accessible only by boat. A shuttle boat runs regularly from St. Andrew's to Shell Island. There are some wooden poles stuck into the water to show where the shuttle boat will ride up onto the sand, but that is it. There are signs posted at St. Andrew's: Shell Island contains no water, shade, or bathrooms. If you want it, you have to bring it over with you.

The NO SHADE worried me the most. We brought over two big bottles of water, and if I needed the bathroom, it would not be the first time peeing in a wild place (or the ocean ... tmi!) by far. Despite properly applying sunscreen the day before, I was becoming tender in places, as was Bobby. So that morning, we stopped at the Ron Jon surf shop and picked up a pair of rash guards with SPF 50+ so that we could spend the day in NO SHADE in comfort.

We had lunch again at Finn's--the third time! The food was delicious and the open at 10. We had the scallop ceviche this time and I had the shrimp crunch wrap ... which, yes, is like the things they make at Taco Bell but about 100 times better! At St. Andrew's we rented a tandem kayak for the day, which was loaded onto the shuttle and across we went.

Shell Island was beautiful and wild. We donned our rash guards and launched our kayak and headed out along the coast on the channel side. I love rowing--there is something immensely satisfying about pulling yourself through the water--but I kept getting a crick in my right bicep that was annoying and sometimes painful. We pulled to shore so I could give it a rest and also to explore the island.

More and pictures below the cut ... )
dawn_felagund: (tiki hut)
On Tuesday, we were to receive the paddleboards we had attempted to rent the previous day and return to St. Andrew's State Park. Bobby had found a highly rated Mexican restaurant in the area that opened at 10 for lunch, so we planned to grab a bite to eat there and then head over to the park. We had a catamaran cruise scheduled that evening and had to be at the marina at 5, so we actually were working on a schedule for once. (Usually, our schedule more or less matches the sun: When the sun starts to set, we come off the beach and get supper.)

Of course, we showed up at the restaurant, and they were closed. Allow me a brief grouse about places that make changes and don't update their websites. Seriously, folks, as someone who has managed a website for eight years now? It's not that hard. Bobby found another lunch place that was supposed to open at 10. We drove out, found it ... and they were also closed because this was the day they were having a new stove installed. We were both grouchy at this point. I made a snarky remark about just going to someplace I invented in my grouchiness called Happy Jack's Happy Flappy Flapjack House. I just ... don't like breakfast. Well, I like Bobby's breakfast, which has been carefully honed over many years to my tastes. I don't like dessert, so why would I want to eat what amounts to dessert at the beginning of the day too? We ended up at a Waffle House because it is one of the few places that has breakfast that I like: a peanut butter waffle (with no syrup for the love of all things holy!) and a double hashbrown with cheese, onions, and jalapeños. When this is the biggest blip in your vacation, you're doing alright.

We headed over to the park, and Bobby called the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rental guy. Within ten minutes, he was pulling into the park with the boards strapped to the top of his truck. So the day was looking better already.

Bobby mentioned wanting to try SUPing about two years ago, when we saw people doing it in Ocean City. At the time, the joints in my feet were so swollen and painful that I wanted to weep for the thought of standing on a board and trying to float across water on it and them by extension. I made up my mind that I would miserably have to endure it for Bobby's sake. Well, thank goodness that chapter of life is behind me. I was actually able to enjoy it--it was quite a lot of fun!

St. Andrew's State Park is located at one end of Panama City Beach. In the 1930s, the Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Gulf-Bay Pass to allow for shipping traffic to pass between the Grand Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. On the west side of the channel is St. Andrew's State Park; the east became Shell Island, which I'll say more about when we go there. Several rock jetties were built, which on the St. Andrew's side, block most of the effect of the surf and create a very calm area for swimming ... or learning to SUP, in our case!

More and pictures below the cut )
dawn_felagund: (happiness)
Bobby ended up placing fifth in his category today at the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. This was a very impressive result (in my admittedly biased opinion!) There were 36 competitors in his category, which was ages 26-35, so he was also competing against guys significantly younger than him. And it is also worth remembering--and it's easy to forget sometimes because he's come so far so fast--that he has only been doing this for four seasons now, and missed part of two of those seasons due to injury. So I am very, very proud of him. :)

Pictures below the Cut )
dawn_felagund: Ainulindale--star photo from hubblesite.org. (ainulindale)
Well, when it rains it pours, in a good way this time. Some of you might remember a few weeks ago when I had mad deadlines for things and was biting my fingers till they bled (how I react when stressed out!). Both being due simultaneously meant that they were both published within the past two days.

My article "Fictional Scholarship: How the Peter Jackson Films and Fandom Archives Make Tolkien Fan Fiction Writers into Competent Critics" is out in Mythprint 52:1. It is a shortened version of my Mythmoot paper (which will eventually be available for free online in the proceedings) but does introduce some new data and expands on some of the points I couldn't really delve into in my Mythmoot paper because of time. Unfortunately, I don't have a link for this one, but Mythopoeic Society members will get it as part of Mythprint. There were no strings attached on this article, so I can reprint it wherever and whenever I want, and I will post it on the Heretic Loremaster in a couple of weeks. I just want to give Mythprint the courtesy of having it first for a while.

And my article In a Stone House by the Sea: The Founding and Governing of the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild is available in Signum University's Eagle. (Here is the entire March edition of the Eagle.) The timing on this was perfect because, believe it or not (and I am still having trouble believing it), the SWG's tenth begetting day* is tomorrow.

*Just like an Elf, the SWG has a begetting day and a birthday because I set it up on March 15 and then chickened out about doing anything with it until later in the year, having been utterly unqualified to start anything of that scope, even as I imagined it then. Uli pushed me in the summer to try to actually, um, get people to join, so I count the end of July as its birthday.

Finally, I wrote an essay, We Are Fëanor? Thoughts on Reading Moral Ambiguity into the Characterizations of the Fëanorians, which I posted to the Heretic Loremaster and also Tumblr. (Also a reminder that [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed will display HL posts on your friends page. I don't use the HL very much these days but it [and the entire Midhavens site] will be getting a facelift and some renewed attention once my MA is done and then I hope to have regular updates from me and People Not Me.)
dawn_felagund: (brainz)
We left Liberty at around 12:30 today. Bobby had been talking with our friend Dawn, who lives in town and was watching the Goldens, for the two days while we were gone. Last night, she informed him that the town had run out of salt and so wasn't able to salt the streets. We live within town limits (barely), so the town does our street. We also live at the top of a huge hill; continue up our street past our house, and you look out at the mountains from the highest point in Carroll County. So getting home with the Yaris if the roads were not salted could prove treacherous. Given that, we decided to wait till later in the day, to let the town hopefully get their hands on some salt and, at the very least, let the sun do its work.

Once we were off Route 140, the roads weren't great: still snow-covered in places and a slushy mess in others. This seems to be the MO lately. I don't know what's going on and why it is lately taking so long to clear big roads after a snowfall. Bobby saw something online where a lot of plow drivers were commenting that they hadn't even been called out for this storm; apparently, the state is trying to save money. Wonderful ... because Marylanders aren't perilous enough on the roads when it snows. Ironically, for all of our worry about Manchester, once we crossed into town, the roads were beautiful. I guess they got a hold of some salt. They always do a good job on the roads, and this is definitely one of the perks of living in town. (They also vacuum up the leaves in the fall and pick up Christmas trees, brush, and bulk trash for free.)

Our driveway was, of course, completely inaccessible, since it had a foot of snow as well as a nice pile from the plow at the bottom of it. We parked in Neighbor Bob's driveway while Bobby went to get the snowblower going. And guess what wouldn't start? It is not our luck, it seems, to have motorized things start as they should when we need them in inclement weather. Bah. So we both grabbed shovels and went to work. Luckily, it was a light, powdery snow, and we quickly cleared enough space to park the car and a path to the front door.

Of course, once we were inside, Bobby went to start the truck, and naturally, now that we don't need it, it started right away. And today is much colder than it was on Wednesday; my only hypothesis is that it wouldn't start because of the rain. I don't know enough about cars to know what might be affected by rain that would cause a car not to start, but it's the only thing different between Wednesday and today that makes any inkling of sense.

The official snowfall for Manchester was 11.8 inches/30 cm. Bobby showed me a chart from the National Weather Service last night that ranked the reported snowfall in various locations. Check out who's sitting pretty at #6.

 photo March5snowfallNWS_zpsuzrbuw2s.png

Boo-yah, Manchester, in the top ten! I did see an unofficial report from the NWS with a report of 12.5" from Lineboro, which is the next town east of us, although they share our zip code. I'm not sure if they weren't included because of that or because the report came via CoCoRaHS and not from an NWS-trained spotter. (I am an NWS-trained spotter, yo. Although I haven't actually done anything with that for a couple of years now. After my MA, yaddayadda.) But then there's our friends in Westminster in eighth place! (I don't know where Funkstown is except that it is west of us--in Frederick or Washington County, I think; I used to know when I still assigned parole retake warrants and could tell you where every one-horse town in Maryland was located but that knowledge faded pretty fast--but I always imagine everyone there walks around in bellbottoms and platform shoes.)

My dad swears that Manchester is the coldest place in central Maryland. He insists that when Manchester [rarely] gets a spot on the evening news' weather map, it is always the coldest. I don't watch the evening news, but Manchester does have something of a microclimate. It is colder here, and we do get (and keep) more snow as a result. Not only are we pretty much as far north as one can go in Maryland--I like to joke that I can stand on my front porch and spit into PA--but we have a high elevation relative to the surrounding area. Our house stands at 1040 feet/317 meters above sea level. As noted above, the highest point in Carroll County is just up the road from us; to offer a point of comparison, my parents also live adjacent to the highest point in Baltimore County (the next county east of us), which is 505 feet/154 meters above sea level. Driving west on I-70, you have to go quite a ways into the mountains before the elevation signs show that you're above where our house sits. So it is not unusual, when driving from the bottom of the hill to our house near the top, to watch the thermometer in the car click down 2-3 degrees F as we drive.

With the driveway clear, we enjoyed the nicely cleared town roads as we drove into town to pick up the Goldens. We had a pristine backyard to let them out into; I took a video because they're funny in the snow. Apologies for the jiggly camera work; I was very often looking at something other than the camera.

In summary, these past two days have been awesome, despite first the truck and then the snowblower not starting. I was a good girl the other day and did download the syllabus for my next class, and I got one book read (Frankenstein) and two pages of notes typed up on it. I also got to play around a lot online, so it has not been all work and no play (for which I would get in trouble with a few people around these parts). And Bobby snowboarded for literally 15 hours, which seems ridiculous to me but makes him so very happy.
dawn_felagund: Sad cartoon spider saying, "Love me?" (spider love me)
Here it be, arrrr. )
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
Bobby is a bona fide meteorology nerd as well as a snowboarder, which means that he starts tracking winter storms sometimes a week or more out. I don't remember when he first told me about the developing possibility of a storm today; he updates me more or less daily, and they all run together after a while. Some fritter away, some come to pass (but usually tend toward the more modest accumulations), and the rare one comes to full, spectacular-as-in-major-accumulation fruition.

As the week progressed, this storm looked more and more promising. Bobby watches all of the different models (although, like an meteorologist, he has his favorites), and what was interesting in this case was that all of the models were in agreement, which is uncommon.

Tuesday night, we were eating supper (spectacular fried pork chops, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes, and sauteed Brussels sprouts) and Bobby said, "If the storm is still looking good by tomorrow afternoon, I think we should hedge our bets in a major way."

We have a tradition several years running of staying up to watch cheesy '80s dance movies the night before we think we are going to get a snow day. Sometimes the school system calls it the night before; other times, we "hedge our bets" and trust that a storm is not only going to come to pass but that the school system will have the good sense to close if it does. If we think we might get a snow day, we'll start asking each other in the afternoon, "Do you think we ought to hedge tonight?" We watch (in this order) Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Flashdance, one per night, so that our progress through the lineup becomes an odd metric of the severity of the season's winter weather. Last year, we ran through our cheesy '80s dance movie collection very quickly and had to come up with alternate plans.

So far this year, we have watched Footloose and Dirty Dancing (the latter was our Sunday-night fare before Monday's closure). I thought Bobby was going to suggest that we watch Flashdance. Instead, he said, "If the storm is still coming by Wednesday afternoon, then I'm thinking about reserving us a room at Liberty so that I can have a powder day on Thursday."

More and Photos beneath the Cut )


Mar. 1st, 2015 08:20 pm
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
It is presently icing/sleeting outside and has been for now going on 12 hours. Schools are already delayed two hours tomorrow morning with "morning reevaluation," which means that they're at least considering closing altogether. I can always use a snow day; I always have stuff to do. I finished the short article based on my Mythmoot presentation and turned it in yesterday; today was the SWG newsletter; tomorrow could be revising and turning in my article on the SWG for the Signum University Eagle. That would put me in a really good place. So ... *crosses fingers*

It's March One, so ... B2MeM! I think probably everyone here who is Tolkienish has heard about it, but if you have not, check it out. It's a great event this year, which I can say without feeling like I'm tooting my own horn since I am not running it this year and had almost nothing to do with planning it: a marketplace format, where participants "sell" and "buy" prompts using imaginary coin. There are many, many excellent prompts. As a mod, I get an email for every comment left on mod posts, and I was reading all of the prompts as they came in but stopped because I was wanting to buy everything that came in.

I went to register for my last class before the thesis (Romantic and Industrial Revolutions) on Friday, and it doesn't start till April, so I have another month off from for-credit coursework. This means that I should be able to get a big jump on my reading. It will probably mean that I dick around with B2MeM, thesis research, and other fannish things instead. I should at least download the syllabus so that I can at least pretend I'm going to do something with it.

Because there's nothing better to do on an "ice day" than play with green, living things, I showed some love to my houseplants today, and Bobby and I started the year's tomato and pepper seeds. My succulents are all throwing off baby plants since I've been doing better with fertilizing them properly; I need to re-pot these and then find new homes for them. Otherwise I'll be like the Duggars of succulents; I already have several baby aloe plants that I was supposed to give away years ago. I just get attached and don't want to give them away.

All in all, this was a pretty dull weekend, but productive. I'd love to extend it to a third day!
dawn_felagund: (art lives)
I started doing this last year, since discovering the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg means that I do actually get the opportunity to see many of the Academy Award nominees each year. (We live just far enough from Baltimore and DC to make it impractical to go there just to see a movie, and our local theaters don't tend to show them. Good movies being one of my great loves in life, this was one of the grievous facts of living in Carroll County.) I actually managed to see all the Best Picture nominees this year except for Whiplash, which is being ridiculously released on DVD/On Demand on Tuesday, two days after the Oscars, and as far as I know, it wasn't even at the Majestic.

What Dawn would have voted for if she were in the Academy. Spoilerish. )
dawn_felagund: (happiness)
Last week, when Bobby and I were sitting at the bar in Pie-casso, there was a giant slalom event on the television. I told him that it looked cool. "Oh, that's giant slalom," he said.

"Funny, the people look like they are of ordinary stature to me, not giants at all."

"No, it doesn't mean that giants participate, it just refers to the kind of event it is."

Well, this was timely, as we returned from Vermont to discover that Bobby had a chance to participate in a giant slalom event today at Liberty, the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. He wasn't initially sure that employees of the mountain would be allowed, but it was decided they were. He is tall (6'2") but not a giant.

There were 700-some participants overall and 28 in his category (male snowboarders ages 25-35; as he noted, there were some "pretty young dudes" he was up against). He texted me when he was getting into line, and I wrapped up in my cold-weather gear and schlepped out to the end of the course in my inappropriate-for-snow shoes. It was snowing quite hard; we are under a winter storm warning in north-central Maryland today. I arrived right as he was coming down and got to see the end of his run.

This was his first competition, and I don't think either of us knew what to expect, but at 2:30, we stood to hear the winners announced ... and he took bronze in his category! Which means that he is now eligible to race in the finals at the end of March, at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. It is a televised event! So it looks like we will be back on the Vermonter and headed northward again sooner rather than later.

Photos and Snoooow! )
dawn_felagund: (beer wine beer)
Sunday was a wickedly cold and windy day. Remember how I posted that we got in the hot tub on Saturday night, and I was all proud for walking barefoot in the snow? While Bobby and I were in the hot tub, we were talking about what we thought the temperature was and whether this was the coldest weather in which we'd ever been in a hot tub. "Oh, it's probably about 7-8F," we figured (-13 to -14C). Which would have been the coldest for me but not Bobby, who got in the hot tub in Deep Creek Lake once when it was 4F/-16C. Well, the taxi driver who took us to the train station this morning was the same who picked us up on Saturday night, and we were talking about the extremity of cold compared to home and how it was -20F/-29C in Stowe when Bobby woke up this morning, and the taxi driver was like, "Well, that's nothing considering that it was -24F/-31C when I picked you up on Saturday!" OMGWTFWHY WAS I IN A HOT TUB WHEN IT WAS -24F. It does make me feel less wimpy for my reluctance to strip down to my swimsuit once I was outside in the apparently -24 temperatures and much more badass for my barefoot dash through the snow back into the B&B clad only in a bikini. And it's an item I can check of my to-do list of stupid-things-that-done-once-one-has-no-need-to-repeat. (Actually, it really wasn't that bad!)

Randy the innkeeper at our B&B makes a pot of homemade soup every day at around 4 o'clock, when the mountain closes and all the skiers/boarders start to come back. The soup is complimentary, and pretty much everyone gathers in the common room at 4 o'clock or so to thaw out with a cup (or in my case, to just eat it because I'm hungry and love soup). Sunday, it was black bean soup. Bobby and I were eating soup and debating where we wanted to go for supper. We wanted sushi, but there was a sushi bar within walking distance of the B&B and also the Matterhorn, which is considered one of the best ski apres bars in the country. (THE WORLD!!! ... okay, I don't actually know if it is in the world; I just wanted to yell THE WORLD!!! and wave my hands about on my journal in a dramatic fashion.)

We asked Randy, and he couldn't really choose one as better than the other, so we decided on the Matterhorn, even though we'd need to take a taxi to get there. (Well, initially, we tried to stand out and wait for the free Stowe shuttle, but the wicked cold and winds was just a little too much to bear for me.) We just couldn't pass up the chance to try one of the best ski apres bars in the country. I'm glad we did; the food was incredible, and we had the best time. We ordered three sushi rolls to start, and Bobby ordered Buffalo wings for his main while I had the "Matterhorn bowl," which was pretty much a blend of different sushi chopped small over rice with "yummy sauce." I had wanted to try real sushi (not just rolls), and this was a good way to do it since the pieces were small and mixed with other things. I really liked it. We washed all of this down with several Switchback Ales, one of the local beers. We tried it, I liked it and didn't have an allergic reaction to it, so I drank it for the remainder of the trip with nary a wayward itch. (A sign that I'm potentially allergic to a beer is itching in weird spots, like behind my elbows.)

More and Pictures below the Cut! )
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
[personal profile] heartofoshun gave me the letter S for this here M-type thing. If you would like a letter, please ask!

I started this on the train to Stowe, and it took two full days to finish it. Wow.

Something I hate: Stop sign shenanigans! By which I mean the people who, upon arriving at a four-way stop, dispense with the rules of right-of-way that are designed to keep traffic moving and decide to be all "helpful" and wave other cars through ahead of them. All this does is hold people up! No one wants to plunge to their death into the intersection, so everyone ends up staring at everyone else, trying to figure out who is waving the most sincerely and is therefore least likely to say "fuck it" and just gun it through the stop sign. It drives me crazy. Just follow the right-of-way rules and let everyone be on their way as quickly as possible. That's why someone bothered to come up with the rules in the first place! If they didn't mean for them to be followed, we would just leave four-way stops a matter of etiquette, like holding open doors. The only thing worse is people who do the same thing in traffic circles. Horror.

Something I love: The sea. When I first read Tolkien, I absolutely understood the concepts of the sea-longing and of hearing the Great Music in the sound of water. There is no place where I am happier and more inspired than on the seashore. I haven't seen the ocean for almost three months now, and the sea-longing is upon me. (Bobby knows it: We'll be going to Ocean City the first weekend that Liberty is closed.) The closest I have to the numinous is on the edge of the ocean, hearing and touching the water. (Next is the forest. I feel a part of something larger in those places, both insignificant and timeless.)

Somewhere I've been: Scotland, twice, while visiting my sister and her wife in the north of England. My favorites of the places we've been were Stirling and Edinburgh, in that order. Bobby was researching his thesis (on the Scottish Wars of Independence) when we were in Stirling, and we were on and off the little tourism bus going to different historical sites so much that the driver got to know us and waved us goodbye when he saw us walking to the train station to leave. Edinburgh was beautiful and a very knowledgeable server in a whiskey bar we went to turned me on to Quinta Ruban Scotch, for which I remain extremely grateful!

Somewhere I'd like to go: This was the hardest one to answer. Let's go with Sweden here. I'm interested in medieval Germanic literature and history. It's as good a place as any to geek over that kind of thing.

Someone I know: Sharon/[profile] ssotknapsack, my sister and second best friend in the world. I am so happy that she found such a wonderful wife and has such great in-laws but I do miss her every day!

A film I like: I'm going to kind of cheat and say short films. Because I am a short film addict. I use short films a lot of times when teaching literary concepts to my students, and this is a time-consuming undertaking for me because I end up on a short film archive and watching things that I know really won't work for the lesson but that I find interesting. Last weekend, Bobby and I went to the Majestic in Gettysburg to see the nominees for the live action short film category at the Oscars. OMFG. I loved every last one of them and managed to go from feeling like I was being punched repeated in the solar plexus from the inside and maybe even crying JUST A LITTLE don't think I'm going all soft now to laughing so hard it hurt. Okay, since I'm kind of cheating in this category, I'll recommend one for the letter S: I use the darkly humorous Spin to teach theme to my students; it's one of my favorites and they always love it too. I've watched it twenty times now if I've watched it once, and it never gets old.

A book I love: The Silmarillion--a no-brainer here! This has been the book that has had without a doubt the biggest impact on my life. It knocked me out of my narrow little literary world and made me realize I wanted to devote my life's work to literature and writing. Besides, association with the Silm fandom has kept me entertained for over ten years now and made me many wonderful friends.

Other life-changing books: The Scarlet Letter was the book I read in eleventh grade that made me realize I was allowed to like the books we read in school. I think I was the only person in my class who liked it, and I think I had something of a literary crush on the Reverend Dimmesdale in all his angst. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was the first work I read that made think I might want to learn more about and study medieval literature. It is still my favorite work to teach (yes, even more than Beowulf!) and the only work I've taught to my students where we reached the end of an assigned section and they begged to keep reading.

An Author: Stephen King. I haven't read him in forever and am not sure how I would feel about him now, but he was one of the authors that first coaxed me from the YA to the Adult section of the library. (Which probably partly explains my proclivities as an adult reader and writer!) I remember seeing a TV ad for a collection of his books; the ad described his books as terrifying, which was all I needed to hear to know that I wanted to read them. I'd worked my way through the R.L. Stine Fear Street series and everything written by Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan, and I was ready for an upgrade. Some of his books that are considered classics didn't do much for me (Carrie, Pet Sematary, Cujo), but others stuck with my for years, and I probably read them a dozen times (It and The Stand, as well as the novellas The Long Walk, The Body, and The Mist). He wrote interesting characters (including young people) who transcended the popular-nerdy-quirky triumvarate of stock characters familiar from the YA fiction I'd been reading. Go figure, his characters attracted me the most.

I am notably not listing Shakespeare for this one. Kick me out of the profession of teaching English if you must! Shakespeare is enjoyable but hasn't impacted me in the way that many other authors have. At the school where I student-taught, the English faculty fought each year over who would teach "Brit lit" the following year because everyone wanted to teach Shakespeare and Jane Austen. I would have had a dog in that fight but because I would have wanted to teach Beowulf and the Middle English poets!
dawn_felagund: (alex eek)
Last night, I lost a toenail. The rest goes beneath the cut out of respects for fellow blood-injury phobics!

Gross, Foot-Related Stuff; Not for the Squeamish!!! )
dawn_felagund: (hermione)
Bobby sent me a really interesting article that breaks down how one's college major translates into various measures of intelligence and academic aptitude. The hard sciences come out on top in every single measure and no surprises there. And on the bottom?

Education majors.

Dawn Talks Shop )
dawn_felagund: (hermione)
(Yes, I am probably the only person on the planet still doing the Fandom Snowflake Challenge, but I am determined to finish it this year if it takes me all month ... and at the rate I'm going, it might! That is why I am posting this, even though it makes me so uncomfortable. This fandom has shown me so much love in truly life-changing ways. I feel like I can't ask for more. But in the interest of checking them all off the list, I am swallowing my discomfort and posting it anyway.)

In your own space, create a love meme for yourself. Let people tell you how amazing and awesome and loveable you really are. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so. Surf the comments and find people to give love to.

I'm drawing the line at posting it on Tumblr, though.
dawn_felagund: (hermione)
Over on the post about my paper presentation this weekend, the issue of genre was brought up because I didn't address it in the paper but I definitely asked about it in the survey. I decided not to include it in the paper because it involved defining and explaining terminology (genfic, het, slash) that I just didn't have time for, and I wasn't sure I could introduce the topic in so short a time in such a way that I could impress upon a non-fanfic audience all of the significance and sometimes emotion that accompanies these genres. However, it certainly interests us, so I'm going to share some data here. (I did post some data in the conversation on the earlier post, but the comments are becoming convoluted enough that I worry that it's going to become difficult to find and discuss it, and it is worth breaking out into a place where it is easier to find and talk about.)

I am going to share the data sets for the four genres for readers and writers from my survey and also from Centrum Lumina's AO3 Census. It is important to note that the questions I asked and she asked are not identical and, in fact, measure slightly different things, but I think they are similar enough that we can at least look at them side-by-side to see if there are any trends between the Tolkien fandom and fandom as a whole, at least as it exists on AO3.

Data and Discussion below the Cut )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I had to let the video upload on YouTube run overnight because of my current Internet situation but--at last!--the video of my presentation on Saturday at Mythmoot is finally ready. The full title (which is too long to fit in the title field) is "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community." The paper covers the history of Tolkien fan fiction, the development of online communities, and the use of Tolkien fan fiction as a means for writers to not only learn more about the texts but to become more analytical and critical readers. This is probably not news for anyone here, but keep in mind that I was presenting to a general (and not necessarily fanfic-friendly) audience at a fantasy studies conference.

The handout for the presentation can be found here. An audio-only version of the presentation can be found here.

Thoughts and reactions are most welcome, of course! :)


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Dawn Felagund

June 2015

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