August 2017

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Before I say ANYTHING about my video or stick and mud season, I want to wish a happy birthday to my friend and fandom partner in crime [personal profile] heartofoshun. I love you as an author and a scholar but most of all as a friend. I appreciate so much all you do for our little corner of the Interwebz and for me personally. Few people in my life have been so unconditionally supportive of me, and I can't express how much it means. I hope your day is as wonderful as you deserve!

Next things next: My video has creaked through the YouTube upload process on my satellite Internet. It's just the audio of me reading my paper with the slides. So this one is not 45 minutes of watching me sit and read! It's also only 20 minutes. I haven't watched it, so if there is anything egregious in the images or audio, it's a mistake--please let me know! The images are pretty crappy on my computer, but YouTube videos are usually pretty crappy on my computer--to the point that I can't always do my Drupal tutorials if it's rainy or snowy or windy because I can't see the image well enough to get anything out of it!--so I hope they're not actually that bad for people with normal Internet. If they are ... it's doubtful I'm going to have time to do anything about it, since it is basically redoing the video. But it can be used as a last resort as a sleep aid, presuming my accent isn't terribly annoying.



And! It was amazingly effing beautiful weather today. It was like Vermont said, "Fuck! It's spring!" and decided to do something about it. It was 77F/25C driving home from work this afternoon and brilliantly sunny. Most of the snow is now gone. And the river is thawed so ...

What else to do but go kayaking, right?? Bobby texted me when he got home--I was still working, of course!--and I pretty much packed up and left immediately, and he had the kayaks on the car already by the time I arrived home. We launched just a couple hundred yards/meters from our house because the river is so high that places that are normally an impossibly steep bank are only about a foot above the water now.

The Barton River flows near our house. Well, normally, it lazes past our house. It's a very calm river. In February, we had a few very warm days and a thaw, and the river rose to where River Road was, in places, just a car-wide track with water on either side. It wasn't so dramatic this time, but the river did rise to about a foot below the road on Friday. It's much lower now, but it actually has a current to it.

So going down the river was easy and fun. At one point, there was a tree fallen across the river except for a two-foot wide passage. I knew as soon as I went into it that I was going to regret it going back: With the current funneling into that tiny outlet, my kayak shot through like I was on the log flume at a theme park. It was hella fun! We rowed down to the bridge where Coventry Station Road crosses the river mostly because it was a logical turn-around point and I wanted to go under the bridge. This is our usual launch point on the Barton because it has a public access with a path down to the water. Looking at Google Maps, we paddled about 1.5 miles/2.5 km round-trip.

The row back was definitely tough, not helped by the fact that the only arm workout I've gotten since packing up the kayaks last fall is occasionally hauling wood pellets up from the barn--and Bobby does that most of the time! I almost didn't make it back through the log flume. It took two tries. It didn't help that the first time, Bobby essentially piled his kayak onto mine from behind! I let him through and tried again, and made it.

River Road runs parallel with a set of train tracks (a train came through while we were paddling, which was cool), and beyond the railroad bridge, the water was still solid ice. It was like looking through a portal into the North Pole.

We saw quite a few critters: two beavers, a great blue heron, what appeared to be a red-tailed hawk, umpteen redwing blackbirds, lots of different waterfowl. We're officially in mud season. One day last week, I stepped out of the car and sank about an inch into the driveway. But all in all, it hasn't been too bad. People always warn us first about the long winters--and we survived our first of those--and then mud season, and we're surviving that too. (It helps that we have an amazing road guy who has raked the road about weekly since the snow melted off of it. Our road is pretty scary when the traction isn't good, so I think I'd feel differently about mud season if not for our road guy. <3 to the Coventry road guy!)

It's also stick season since our trees are far from blooming or leafing out up here ... but some have buds! And I'm starting to sneeze more, which tells me they're doing their thing. And there is some green among the grass: faint and brave but there.

Right now? I'm tired. I want to stretch out somewhere and read. I wonder if my arms will be sore tomorrow.
When I first purchased my video camera, I practiced using it by taking lots of little videos of the Goldens just being the Goldens. Now that Alex is gone, I am so glad that I did.

I pulled these videos off my school laptop the other day to save them on Dropbox. This one is probably my favorite. In 2013, the Ravens went to (and won) the Super Bowl. We took the Goldens to a party for the AFC Championships over my inlaws' house. I took this video the next morning, when I couldn't even get them off the couches to go outside.



Alex always had a very expressive face and a way of looking and acting that sometimes made you feel like he understood a lot of what you were saying. The dirty looks he gives me in this video as I immortalize his laziness are priceless.

Phil is in it too, curled in a tiny ball on the couch. Unlike Alex, Phil couldn't care less that I was filming him.
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.
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.
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! :)
As I have reported in the past, the Goldens like to howl, especially at sirens, either the town fire siren going off or emergency vehicles driving down Route 30, which is about a mile down the hill from us. I have always wanted to capture their howling because it's really funny. They get very serious about it, like someone will believe they're wolves if they just throw back their heads and go at it full-force. Yesterday, something must have popped off in town because sirens (and presumably the vehicles attached to them) were going up and down 30 every few minutes. Every time, the Goldens would jump up and stare out the patio door. Once, Phil whined like he was revving up a howl. I was working at the kitchen table, so every time a siren would go off in the distance and they'd jump up, I'd aim my webcam and tape record them. Oh, I'm so '80s! I finally struck gold!

[*growl* I forgot that Photobucket and my journal don't play nice with embedding videos for some reason! Here are the Goldens howling. Sorry for excess clickage 'cause I'm going to do it again in the next paragraph.]

Not this week but next week is the dance recital for the studio where I bellydance. We got our pictures done over the weekend. So if you've ever wanted to see two-dozen photos of me in a bellydance costume, along with the rest of my group, here you go! I am the one in red. I am wearing makeup! That hardly ever happens.

I also painted my nails red for the occasion. Since prom is this Friday and my show is the next week, I am leaving them like that. But it's weird. My hands look really girly. I have insanely hard nails* that grow really long and keep a nice shape without my having to do much to them (and, I know, I know, I couldn't care less and don't do anything to them until they get so long that I have to trim them--I agree it's not fair). My TA, Ms. Karen, noticed it right away, as did some of the students, who were kinda freaked out about it.

* Seriously. I used to bite my nails until I chipped my teeth on one.

We came home this afternoon to a shitty surprise. Alex had diarrhea down in the basement. It usually happens around this time of year, since he inevitably eats things growing in the yard that he should not. The time he got into some Russian olives was an epic shitstorm! This is a dog's way of perceiving the world:

Dog: *finds something* What is this?

*sniffs*

*tilts head*

*studies*

Dunno. Well, I guess I should eat it and find out.
/dog

Sadly, in the course of this, he pooped the moose rug. We have a hearth rug in front of the woodstove with a moose on it. The first time we had the woodstove inspected, in our first year here, the chimney sweep recommended a hearth rug to keep the floor from catching on fire. We agreed this was a good idea, but we were also rather poorish at the time and all the hearth rugs Bobby found were a little more than we wanted to pay. At last, he found one! "I found a hearth rug for like $9," he told me. "The only thing is that it has a moose on it."

"Who cares?" I said. "I don't have a problem with moose. And it was only $9!"

Well, the moose rug was one of the items destroyed in the Great Flood of 2011. By then, though, we were kind of attached to it, so Bobby ordered a new one, identical to the first, to replace it.

Now Alex has gone and pooped the moose rug! Our house is a perilous place to be a moose rug, I guess. It did come clean with some hose action, and to reward it for being such a loyal moose rug that keeps our floor fire-free despite being periodically drowned and pooped, I washed the non-poopy spots too, so now it's all nice and clean and drying in the sun, sitting on a lawn chair, out in the yard.

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