password

May. 27th, 2017 12:59 pm
asakiyume: (the source)
When I started off on LJ, I created a super-beautiful, idiosyncratic password that gave me pleasure to type. When I re-started a DW account, the password I created was ... way less beautiful. And yet it turns out that I feel just as happy to type in the DW password and to write an entry or read other people's entries as I did/do to type in the fancy-special password.

... I guess it doesn't hurt to make marvelous passwords that you love, but on the other hand, it really is just a password, and it's getting on the actual site and doing stuff there that's The Thing.

This video is unrelated to passwords--it's Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner reading one of her climate change poems. The words are beautiful and heartbreaking, but also hopeful: They say you . . . wander rootless with only a passport to call home, and when she read it in 2014 at the United Nations climate summit, she got a standing ovation; people were very moved. Watch all the way through.




asakiyume: (more than two)
Well well well. Common names get thrown about and applied pretty randomly, so maybe **some**one calls mountain laurel shad tree, but I'd misunderstood my father: he wasn't saying that mountain laurel = shad tree; he was saying that there's another tree that blooms at the same time that's called that.

Searching on Wikipedia, I find that the genus Amelanchier has several species that get called shad tree or shadbush (they also get called things like serviceberry, a name I know I hear a lot).

As you'll see, there's alder-leaved shadbush, lovely shadbush, downy shadbush ... pick a shadbush to suit your mood! Maybe red-twigged?

But don't confuse it with mountain laurel!

Mountain Shadbush

(source site)
asakiyume: (holy carp)
When I was telling my father about the fish elevator and all those shad, he told me that he'd learned from a friend that mountain laurel, which blooms around now, is known as "the shad tree"--because when it blooms, that's when the shad run.

He just called to tell me I'd misunderstood: It's not that mountain laurel are called shad tree, but that there's another tree, that blooms at the same time as mountain laurel, called shad tree. Actually, several trees in the genus Amelanchier go by that name, including this, Amelanchier bartramaiana, the mountain shadbush (also known as oblong serviceberry--ahh, names):



(Source)



(Here's a photo from Flickr of mountain laurel--not a shad tree or shadbush--by Flickr user Robert Ferraro--you can click through to see it larger.)
Kalmia latifolia - Mountain Laurel

He also told me that there was a law in Boston in the 18th century that you couldn't feed apprentices shad more than twice a week... which gives you a sense of its plentifulness at that time (and its low regard). (I searched law+apprentices+shad and found confirmation in a Google books excerpt from The Literary Era: A Repository of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (published 1901), which says,
From a recently published report of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, it would appear that similar troubles were not unknown in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. The low prices of fish tempted many master mechanics to keep their apprentices on a lenten diet. Shad were particularly common and particularly cheap--so common and so cheap, in fact, that they were considered fit only for Indians, helots, and apprentices. The apprentices revolted ... The youngsters ... triumphed so far that the law relating to indentures was changed so that the boys "were not to be fed on fish more than twice a week." (p. 298)
asakiyume: (holy carp)






Behold the powerful falls at the Holyoke dam. Holyoke Gas and Electric generates power here.



This dam is a barrier to fish that need to get upstream to spawn. There have been various means of solving this problem, but at present it's a literal elevator, a huge mechanism powered by giant turbines and with great chains that lift boxes of water, packed with fish, up above the falls. Yesterday Wakanomori and I went to see it--a marvelous experience!

It has very cute signposts:
Enter Fishway

In the informational room, there's a diagram that shows how the elevator works. You can see the giant turbines:

How the elevator works

And a tally of how many fish have been lifted: yesterday was a record for American shad. (In the colonial days, they used to say that when the shad were running, you could walk across the Connecticut river on their backs.)

Fish elevator totals

photos and videos of fish, people watching fish, people fishing, and massive machinery )


fights

May. 17th, 2017 05:41 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
It was one of the women at the jail who first told me that middle school and high school kids film their fights with their phones and then post them on Youtube. Then last week one of my high school tutees was talking affectionately about one of her younger sisters. "She's so bad," she said, laughing, and showed me a video on her phone of her little sister and another girl fighting. They had hands in each other's hair. "Ouch," I said, "that looks like it hurts!" "She's so bad," my tutee repeated, shaking her head and smiling.

I went online and found other videos, with breathless remarks from the person doing the filming. None of the ones I happened to look at were cases of someone being beaten up (though I'm sure that happens too), and none of them were mass melees (though same). These were ... well, in some cases they seemed like duels: there were seconds hanging back on both sides, and the fight was very short, and then it was like the seconds decided it was over. And in other cases it kind of reminded me of training? Like, instead of boxing or mixed martial arts, you're doing homemade fighting.

And the people filming. They seemed from their voices and their excitement levels so YOUNG. "Come on, hurry up, Celie! Somebody grab my sister!" exclaims one kid, and then, "Come on, fight fight fight, yo!" And in another video, a similarly young-sounding kid (a boy whose voice hasn't changed yet) shouts out advice ("keep your head up"), and when one of the fighters says "I can't breathe!" he calls out for everyone to stop. The girl says, "This asthma," and the kid says, "I fucking hate asthma too."

I know there are way worse fights. I know people get really badly hurt--I've seen scars my students in the jail have. That's not what was going on in the videos I happened to see, though.

I remember one of my other high school tutees, a *tiny* girl, talking about finally having to fight someone to get people to stop taunting her. I couldn't believe that having a fight would do that--I would have thought it would just escalate things. But apparently not.

Me, I'm wrapped in a floor-length robe of ignorance, with a fluffy hat of ignorance on my head. I don't have any summarizing statement to make or judgment to pass, beyond to say---I mean, maybe this is picking up on the high spirits of the people making the videos? and the casual attitude of my student?--but I felt surprisingly un-bad about the fact of the fights. I don't want kids to be ganged up on and beaten up, and I **definitely** think there are other ways to settle differences or strut your stuff. But ... maybe this is one possible way to settle differences and strut your stuff that isn't as bad as all that if all parties are willing? I don't know! See above: ignorance.

a fight

fighting

May colors

May. 13th, 2017 11:51 am
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
A few photos of this lovely time of year

May at Lampson Brook Farm

May at Lampson Brook Farm

May wildflowers

a rescue

May. 12th, 2017 11:16 am
asakiyume: (bluebird)
I saw a pickup truck pulled up on the opposite side of the road from me as I was driving to do the recycling. As I neared the spot, I saw a catbird just sitting in the road ahead of me, not moving. The burly guy in the pickup truck said, "There's a bird in the road."

I stopped. The guy's lanky companion, who was outside the truck, approached the catbird with a jacket in his hands, to pick it up gently and without touching it. Just as he was about to, the bird fluttered off the road and into the long grass and dandelions. "He tricked me!" said the lanky guy. The guy in the truck shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

I drove on, really happy that those two guys--going in the opposite direction--were willing to stop and help out a catbird in need, even if in the end the catbird declined the offer. IRL goodness.
asakiyume: (the source)
I picked some violets after a run today--I saw them on a hillside, a really rich, deep purple. At home I have lots of violets too, but the purple ones are more washed out. Then there are the white ones with purple veins, and best of all, the speckled ones.

Here they all are in a little vase:

violets

And here is a photo of one of those trees of gold that grow in fairy woods, along with trees of silver and trees of crystal. This one has been felled by a beaver. Look how beautiful its bark is.

golden bark

And here is a tree that has been gnawed at three different spots. Three beavers sharing a meal? Or one beaver not satisfied with the taste and hoping it gets better if he tries a different spot?

beaver breakfast table
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Have people read this? I had heard about it and was mildly curious because of the child protagonist, but not curious enough to overcome my dislike of zombie stories. Then I read Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's comments on the movie (here), which really interested me--so I read it.

I reviewed it on Goodreads. I did indeed like Melanie, the young protagonist. As expected, I didn't much care for a lot of the mainstay things that you apparently need to have in a zombie/horror story, but I could just page on by.

The thing that got me was the ending--so this discussion should only be for people who've either read the book/seen the movie or don't mind spoilers.

Discussion about the ending )
asakiyume: (more than two)






Today is town meeting in my town. I started to drive there--I'm all upons my civic duty these days--and then I turned around and came back. Why? Because I actually hate town meeting. Not the part where people get a chance to speak for or against something--that can be interesting. No, it's the part where people shout yay or nay to vote on things. Eleven years ago on this very day, I wrote an LJ entry about it.

I like a secret ballot. I **LOVE** a secret ballot. I am intimidated by public shouting and think there may be other people like me. I don't think who-can-shout-the-loudest is the best way to determine the outcome on issues of importance to people in town.

... I got home, and the wood thrush, who has returned to us, was singing.

Have a picture from yesterday: water, sky, something thin and green connecting them.

water, sky


May

May. 6th, 2017 02:36 pm
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Everything smells beautiful right now, and the landscape is so many different colors; leaf hasn't subsided to leaf yet, and blossoms are everywhere.

My apple tree has never been so graced with flowers before:

apple blossoms

apple blossoms


asakiyume: (definitely definitely)
Last night I was waiting to pay for some food at the supermarket, and ahead of me, a woman was getting two brightly colored toothbrushes, one purple and one orange, and I could see from the packaging that they were Crayola toothbrushes.

Crayola toothbrushes

Source: SmartPractice.com, a seller of medical supplies.

My first thought was, wow, that's a weird way to branch out your business. From 64-packs of crayons with colors like spring green, periwinkle, and raw umber** it makes sense to branch into colored pencils, markers, pots of paint, drawing paper, sparkle glue sticks--all of which Crayola has done.

But toothbrushes? My best guess is that someone on Crayola's innovation team said, "We're known for long, thin items. We're known for things parents associate with their children. Toothbrushes are long and thin, and parents want their kids to brush more. QED!!"

Expect Crayola drinking straws and carrot packs next.

Crayola will give you definitive names for the various colors in your carrot pack


Source: groworganic.com's page offering Peaceful Valley organic carrot seeds


**Don't you want a story about raw shadows? Raw how? EMOTIONALLY RAW of course.


asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)



Last week, both with my high school tutees and with my students at the jail, I asked them to pick one of four pictures from Humans of New York to write about. The assignment was to tell me about the person in the photo, then to ask that person some questions, and then, in that person's voice, to answer the questions.

from the photo essay book Humans of New York

I got two deeply contrasting stories about this man from my students at the jail. One saw him as an "intelligent graduate, following his big New York dream ... which is to play in the Apollo" to become a musician--but with a safety job as a lawyer. The other--an older woman, who's been homeless herself--saw him as homeless. The questions she wanted to ask him were very practical: would you like a home-cooked meal; would you like a hot shower and a place to sleep; can I give you ten dollars "for something positive not negative."

Her answers almost undid me. She imagined him saying [paraphrasing], yes, I would love a home-cooked meal, as long as you let me do the dishes; yes I would love a hot shower, but only if you let me clean up after myself; a place to sleep on a couch or the floor would be great, and any amount of money would be appreciated. She finished with "I just wanted to thank you for being kind and offering all that to me."


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I was at an informational event on sanctuary cities and the Massachusetts Safe Communities Act this afternoon, and before it started, I was chatting with Cliff McCarthy, a wonderful local historian (I've shared one of his other stories in the past--a tale of poverty, murder, and arson). This time he told me the extremely dramatic story of Angeline Palmer, a free child of color "hired out" by the town of Amherst (Angeline was an orphan and ward of the town) to work for the Shaw family in Belchertown in the late 1830s. "Right in that house over there," Cliff said, pointing out the window to the house next door to where our event was happening.

You can read the full story at Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley, Cliff's history website, but here is the outline--and some highlights. Mason Shaw, known as "Squire Shaw," had gotten swept up in western Massachusetts' "mulberry craze"--he was investing in mulberry trees, with the hopes of making a fortune in the silk industry. He was also trying to *sell* mulberry trees--in 1840, he traveled to Georgia to try to interest farmers there in buying them. While there, he sent a letter to his wife, telling her to bring twelve-year-old Angeline south, where Shaw reckoned he could sell her for $600.

will Angeline be sold into slavery?? )

The story was so dramatic, so empowering, and--at least briefly--had a happy ending. There are no pictures of Angeline! I wish there were--as it is, we'll just have to imagine her. Visit Cliff's page on Angeline to see a sketch of Henry Jackson and a photo of the house from which Angeline was rescued.





asakiyume: actually nyiragongo (ruby lake)
Last entry I said my thumb would be a steep climb if the lines of its print were topographical. Here now are some mountains' "fingerprints."

I was imagining a person who had the fingerprints of a mountain peak. [personal profile] sovay asked who would have these. I'm not sure, but I can imagine an egotistical jewel thief or other flamboyant criminal who would mask their own fingerprints with the prints of a mountain.

Which one though?

Mout Rainier looks good:



How about K2?



The volcano Popocat├ępetl has a beautiful fingerprint:






Fingerprints for the Matterhorn and Mt. Fuji are in comments (Dreamwidth comments) in the previous entry. Do you have a favorite mountain? Check out its fingerprint. You can see the fingerprint of Nyiragongo, the volcano in my icon, here.
asakiyume: (miroku)



If the lines inscribed on my hands and fingers were contour lines, what effort it would take to scale the steepness of my thumb.

thumb contour lines



asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
A couple of weeks ago at the jail, there was a new-to-me CO, B--, at the programs desk. I was heading into the room I've been using for my tutoring when he said, "You know there's a ghost up here, right?"

Usually when people tell me things like this--in any circumstance, not just at the jail--I just go along with it amiably until I can get my bearings and figure out how I'm expected to react, but this time, I couldn't help it: I said, "This jail is only ten years old, and you're telling me there's a ghost?" (I could also have said, "I've been volunteering here for more than five years, and I'm only just now hearing about a ghost?")

"They think it's maybe a child, looking for love," he said.

Even at the time, and more so now as I'm writing this down, it struck me that if you didn't think of a ghost as the spirit of someone dead but rather as a coalescing of intense feelings connected with longed-for people, that sure: there could very well be something like that hanging about. Wakanomori suggested that it could be like Lady Rokujo, whose spirit leaves her body while she sleeps and haunts Genji's lovers, only in this case, children deprived of their parents, haunting the locus of their deprivation.

Anyway, I think I said something noncommittal like "Thanks for the heads up" or "I'll keep my eyes open."

Then this past Friday B-- was there again, along with M--, one of the first COs I ever talked to, a woman I like a lot. I mentioned to her that B-- had told me about the ghost, and he said, "Oh, M-- knows all about the ghost; she's had an encounter with it."

M-- nodded emphatically.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"Well, I had just had a drink of water from my bottle," she said, nodding toward her largish clear plastic water bottle, which was on the desk, "and I felt something really cold right at my waist. I thought maybe I'd spilled some of the water on myself, but when I touched the area, it was dry. Then it started tingling. I jumped away from the desk--I just had to walk away from there. It was like a little icy arm around my waist."

"It probably knew you were a mother," said B--. "It was probably looking for comfort."

I thought about how my imagination runs in different directions: If that had happened to me, I would have been as freaked out, but it would have been because I imagined I'd gotten sudden-onset neuropathy, or worse.

Or maybe not. I'm only there for one afternoon a week. The COs are there for 40 hours a week, and the inmates are there 24-7. Ten years is young for a building, but it's a long time to collect misery. Even I've seen a thing or two, in the slivers of time I'm there. Maybe if I was in M--'s shoes, I would have intuited it the way she did.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)






Out my kitchen window (... if not elsewhere in the world), the day is made of soft and shining.

flowering pussy willows

flowering pussy willows

What adjectives is your now made of?


asakiyume: (good time)



Via Siddhartha Mitter on Twitter, and ultimately from Al-Jazeera English, this 1.35 minute video about DJ Dumpling, an 80-plus-year-old who works in the family restaurant by day and DJs in Tokyo clubs at night: here.

A still from the video:

asakiyume: (glowing grass)
I ate my lunch outside on Tuesday and saw two wasps tussling--they were locked in an embrace, face to face, and tumbling round; then they broke apart and one flew away and the other dusted itself off very carefully, opening and closing its mouth as if panting, and then it flew away, too.

I searched on "wasps wrestling" but came up mainly with high school wrestling teams... and one Youtube video that was actually of wasps, but engaged in, uh... a different kind of behavior. My wasps were definitely not procreating; it looked much more like play, or rivalry. Or maybe I'm wrong and this couple just has a more boisterous style of lovemaking.


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