capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So now, I'm ready to tackle "The Ugly Duckling."

[Edited -- put more words in my rant, and then put it behind a cut, in case you just want to skip to the fluffiness]

That means it's time to embark on an image search, so I know how the heck to describe my main character. Three photos in, and I'm overwhelmed with the urge to kill you all with an Overdose of Cute.

The usual rant behind this cut )

(You may want to wear some cuteness-filtering glasses. Don't say I didn't warn you):





5) (Okay, so adolescents are awkward. But that's true regardless of species).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I've written about this before. Here's a comment I wrote on the subject, three years ago:

I kind of liked the day when I was a kid, but... )

One good thing about the holiday, though, is it gives comic strip writers, who have to produce 365 mini-stories a year, a writing prompt, and cartoonist Dana Simpson (of "Phoebe and her Unicorn") has risen to the challenge quite well, addressing both the weirdness and potential sweetness of the holiday.

Here's the weirdness I remember so well -- it's, oddly, both comforting and disturbing that the exact same traditions I took part in forty-two years ago can still be a "timely" subject for humor: "Phoebe and Her Unicorn" 2 February, 2016. Though, to be honest here, the really great thing about V-Day for a kid of single digit age, is that you can spend hours playing with paper, scissors, and glue, and get praised for it, instead of groused at for making a mess.

And here's the sweet side. Consider this one a Valentine to my circles: "Pheobe and her Unicorn," 4 February, 2016

*I still believe that the "valentine" heart is one of the best graphic design symbols our human species has come up with -- it's a shape that's been found carved into cave rocks from over 30,000 years ago. ... 'Course, there's a hypothesis that it was not associated with the central organ of our circulatory system, back then.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From Important to Impertinent:

1) The Hearse at the End of the Driveway: (Breaking the silence around mental illness and anxiety -- vivid, first-person description of what it feels like to have a panic attack).

2) A trio of strips from Robot Hugs: "Return" (a message from the future about life with mental illness) "Rat Race" (A fable about/metaphor for job hunting today -- show this to people who say you're not trying hard enough) "Tone Policing" (an explanation of what it is, and what's wrong with it -- this is also another strip of theirs which includes Disability in their Diversity... This is the only strip [not specifically dedicated to Disability] that I can think of that regularly does that. So kudos to them).

3) "Mrs. Ribeiro" (a poem from Sarah Kay about happy learning).

4) "Science Wars" -- Acappella Parody: (The old "Which field of science is most important?" debate, sung to the John Williams theme, aimed at high school students, and an infernal earworm, with puns).

5) Tomska Behind your Sofa -- a Mr. Weebl Song: (Included to make the list an odd number, and also to complete the spectrum from "Serious" to "Seriously?!?!").
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
In ascending order of length, behind cuts (with commentary):

First, the song which opens this video is one of the best encapsulations of Epicurean philosophy I've come across, since I discovered what Epicurean philosophy is.

A long note on the video's format (which, if you're not familiar with the channel, seems really weird) )

We're all gonna DIE (so have a good time, and be nice to each other) -- 'Vlogbrothers channel' 3:19) )

What I find so inspiring about Epicurus is that, after accepting as given that:
  1. the Cosmos is made of invisible atoms,
  2. we're all gonna die when our atoms eventually disperse, and:
  3. Death = Nonexistence

He then came to the conclusion that the meaning of life is Happiness, and that Happiness = Wisdom + Friendship. I mean -- for example -- Nietzsche read Epicurean philosophy, accepted the first three givens, but then decided he wanted to end up in a very different place. Well, I know which road I'd rather travel.

'Simon Says' by Theresa Davis ('Button Poetry' channel 4:00) )

A poem about educators who use their power to abuse students, but it ends with a positive tone. She uses "the F-word" a few times, but it's as an exclamation of emphasis and/or surprise, rather than anger.

The Worst-Designed Thing You've Never Noticed | Roman Mars | TED Talk (18:18) )

About what makes a good flag, and how so many city and regional flags are so bad. It's part educational presentation, part stand-up sit-down comedy. I've watched this 6 times in the last couple of days, and I still laugh out loud at all the vexillological punchlines.

It's also got me thinking of the challenge of designing a Disability Pride flag that goes beyond the blue stick-figure wheelchair person. That very well may be a separate post, soon.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Hey, gang!!

Give yourselves an-end-of-the-year prezzie! For the astonishingly low price of a prompt, [personal profile] dialecticdreamer will write a 500-word story for you. And that's not all! If you signal boost, she'll add an extra 100 words for each place the boost lands. Full details of this incredible offer can be found here: Magpie Monday for December, 2015 (the last of the year).
capriuni: "Random" in mixed fonts, with "Stuff" in French Script on a red label obscurring a common obscenity. (random)
1) From Dave Hingsburger's blog, "Rolling around in my head," dated 28-10-2015, regarding a participants in his workshop on bullying:

[S]ociety has lied to them about who they were. They had intellectual disabilities, true, but that didn't mean what they'd been told - that they couldn't learn, they couldn't grow, they couldn't figure things out.


...Just as having a mobility disability doesn't mean you're stuck in one place. You just need the right tools. Realizing that analogy helped me put a few cracks in the meme that there's any real disability hierarchy.

Full blog entry is here:

2-a) Praising what I enjoyed before criticizing what I didn't about the Doctor Who episode "The Woman Who Lived":

i) The setting
ii) The Doctor as sidekick
iii) Capaldi's grin when "Me" realized she cared about people, after all.
iv) The "Me" gag.*

2-b) Criticizing what I didn't:

i) The loss of Ashildr, the storyteller -- especially since it was without explanation, or mention.
ii) That it was the second story in the season (after the Fisher King) in which the Big Bad was out to kill humans for no apparent reason. That's just not what Doctor Who is about. At least the Mire were harvesting humans for consumption.
iii) That they'd created Leandro (really?) and didn't play on the Beauty and the Beast angle.

*3) I used that gag once, when I was about ten (maybe eight?). We were about to get on an airplane for a family trip, and one of the stewardesses crouched down to my eye level, and said, in a tone usually reserved for puppies who aren't yet weaned:

"And what's your name?
(With my best growl voice): "I'm Me!"
"'Mi' -- what a pretty name!"

... At which point my mother coughed, and said we really needed to hurry and board, before I said something rude about the woman's intelligence. ...And that was the first lesson I had on how some people are immune to sarcasm.

4) The most recent "Robot Hugs" Strip:

Considering how close we are to Halloween, I was kind of expecting the central character to be in costume, in the final panel.

5) Putting this behind a cut, because I'm mostly Not!Evil... Posting it at all because I'm a Bit!Evil:

Lyrics for an earworm -- click at your own risk )

6) An update on adding split pea protein powder to my diet (On healthcare-provider's recommendation): It's still totally grabbing on to the acidic flavor compounds in whatever beverage I blend it into. This makes coffee taste tasteless, but it makes strong, acidic, juices (such as unsweetened pomegranate juice) less puckery without sugar. But, for me, it turns out most palatable with pureed veggies as a thickener for soups and sauces.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Sometimes being in a wheelchair has a side benefit, if there's a hill, or a ramp anywhere in sight, you've got a toy under your butt!

From here:
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Last year, RH completed their Master's degree in Information Studies, with a focus on human-centric design, identity, and privacy (And thus, I think it might be of special interest to [personal profile] dialecticdreamer). This last week, they adapted it to the style of their on their online comic, broken down into five "chapters."

I was applauding inside, by the end, which was posted yesterday.

Robot Hugs is genderqueer, and so that's the primary lens through which they view the phenomenon of "Otherness." But what they say also applies to all marginalized people, probably.

Anyway, links:

Other -- One: Surveillance
Other -- Two: Categorizing
Other -- Three: Uses of "Other"
Other -- Four: Consequences of Self-Identifying
Other -- Five: Methods of Resistance

capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: How long do you think it'll be before this recent picture of Pluto (7-7-2015) gets turned into memes, macros, and icons everywhere?

{... give me an hour, maybe, at least for here? ;-)}

2: On this week's Radiolab (Wednesday), there was an interview with two men who are both completely blind (Audio -- sorry there's no transcript).

The man whose blindness developed gradually decided that to be fully present and connected to the world, he had to break himself of the habit of "Visualizing" anything, and to conceptualize the world entirely using his other four senses. Because to do otherwise would mean clinging to his memory of a world that doesn't exist anymore.

The man who lost his sight in a single, devastating, moment insisted that to retain your full humanity, you have to imagine a visual world, even if you have to work at it, because humans are visual creatures, full stop.

Yeah. You can probably guess which side of the argument I side with; I'd be more sympathetic to the second man, if he hadn't insisted what was true for him was true for 6,999,999,999 other people.

Anyway, it occurred to me afterward that, compared to blind people, we sighties really live in a 2-D world (well, 3-D, but that's only if you include "Time"). Compared to the actual space around us, the surfaces of our retinas are really, really, flat. After all, that's the only reason we can get away with trompe-loeil at all.

3. The weather is brain-meltingly hot and humid, here. So this item will only be two sentences long.

4. Doctor Who Series 9 will start September 19th! Permission to Squee? I still don't have any headphones or speakers, so I don't know how the official trailer sounds.


Does it seem like Capaldi's hair is channeling the spirit of Doctor Four? Or is that just me? ;-)

5. Speaking of dates in the calender being closer than they appear, I don't think I'll be able to meet my self-imposed date for getting Monsters' Legacy: Disability, Culture and Identity self-published. I mean, maybe I could. But only if I worked a lot faster than I seem to be able to at the moment (*points to #3*), and only if I skipped getting the prose portions beta-read. And I don't want to skip that. *sigh*
capriuni: Text; Beware of the words. (words)
The other day on the radio, I listened to an interview with a speech coach. She was actually billed as a "Speech Therapist," but as the interview focused on her work helping people find more comfortable ways to use their voices, to help project their intentional self-image to the world, rather than her work correcting actual speech impediments, I think "coach" is a better fit in this context.

And in "Part 2," the interviewer invited her to rant about the "Epidemic" of up speak (or, as it's listed in Wikipedia, High rising terminal). I bet you're familiar with this? It's the vocal habit of intoning declarative sentences as if they are questions?

Now, I remember back in the late '80s or early 90s -- 25 freakin' years ago! -- when hand-wringing over "up speak" began. It was seen back then -- and reiterated by this therapist/coach the other day -- as a "bad habit" of young women, used as a way to appear less threatening, or socially appeasing, maybe, and was (is) described as a way to infantilize yourself.

Okay. Fine.

And then this woman said that something remarkable and terrible is happening: Men are starting to use it, too (Oh, noez!).

Now, here's the thing: Back-in-the-day, the "cultural explosion" of this strange new phenomenon of "up speak" was explained as being the result of all these young women leaving college and entering traditionally male business careers. And by using high rising terminal speech, they were appeasing their male employers by playing into their expectations that women were all just really little girls (Better that than be a "B--ch," right?).

And I couldn't help thinking: If those who present as White, Cisgendered, Native Anglophone, Business Elite Educated, Males (the people at the very top of the American Privilege Pyramid) are using it now, than maybe it never just about socially kowtowing to those above you in the pyramid. If those who are least likely to need social cushioning have picked it up, then maybe (*gasp*) it might have more value than we first imagined.
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: So, the other day, I was listening to a Radiolab episode about memory and forgetting. One host mentioned that recent neuroscience shows that each time we remember something, we're actually recreating it, rather than retrieving it, like something from a filing cabinet. And we change it slightly, so that memories we draw on frequently will diverge the most from so-called "actual fact" (he didn't use the phrase "so-called" -- that's mine). The other host said something like: "Gee, how depressing!"

I, dear Readers, disagree. Which pair of shoes would mean more to you? Is it the pair that you bought for a snazzy party, because they looked good, but you only wore once because they were uncomfortable, and they now sit pristine and shiny in their shoebox at the back of your closet? Or is it the pair that's scuffed, molded perfectly to your feet, and are now on their thirty-seventh set of laces because you've worn them everywhere?

Yeah. I see no reason why our memories should be any different.

2: Make-a-Flake, the virtual online paper snowflake maker, is still a thing that exists (for friends in the southern hemisphere, where it's winter, and friends in the northern hemisphere who are daydreaming of snow).

3: This video, from PBS Digital Studios, makes a very strong case for colonizing Venus instead of Mars.

4 (This one's about spiders, and has close-up pictures of them): Speaking of our extreme bias in favor of solid surfaces, I heard a report of this on the radio, this morning: Oceangoing Spiders Can use their Legs to Windsurf Across the Water.

Can you say: "Whee!"? ... I knew you could.

5: This one's gonna be the shortest, and therefore probably the most enigmatic, because I'm tired of typing, now.

Most discussions of Time refer to it as a "non-spatial dimension."

That bugs me.

We tend to think of our units of time as analogous to our units of distance: seconds to inches, minutes to feet, years to miles, etc. (excuse the American units). But what if they're actually analogous to degrees latitude and longitude? Wouldn't that help explain how gravity can bend space, and "speed up" and "slow down" time?
capriuni: Vanilla icecream cone, captioned "Simply sweet cool & good" (vanilla)
It's called "Robot Hugs". The art is simple, but not "simplistic," and the cast is truly diverse. The writer is genderqueer, and they use that perspective (along with other aspects of their identity) to talk about serious topics like Privilege (uses the F* word, just so you know). But also fluffy, silly, stuff, like this one (also: cats).
capriuni: Thalia, from a Roman mosaic, carrying a comic mask and shepherd's crook (Thalia)
I wanted to draw a monster with a bird-like beak, facing the viewer. But I couldn't get a handle on what a beak looks like, head-on. So I did an image search, and found this.

Clearly, the caption for this is: "Whut?"

And yes, btw, I think I've got the idea for how to draw a cartoon beak head-on.
capriuni: A a cartoon furry monster whistling a single note; text; One-Note Nellie (1-note Nellie.)
In order to give myself yet another Internet Time-sink, I've registered at Harvard's website for the Implicit Association Test, which, every time to log in, you're given a randomly chosen bias test (One test I took showed I had a moderate automatic preference for squares over rectangles, for example. But since all the rectangles were oriented vertically, I wonder if it's really a "Short" over "tall" bias).

Anyway, yesterday, after I tired of scrolling through's page of "Disability Studies" documents, I decide to hop over to the IAT site.

What do I get? ::::Drum roll::::

(Well, considering the access filter for this entry, you probably know, already):

The Abled - Disabled IAT

(full disclosure time, I've taken this test before, as an unregistered "Guest")

My description of this particular test, behind a cut, 'cause it turned out kind of long )

And here's the result that came back at me:

Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for Disabled Persons compared to Abled Persons.

Thank you for your participation. Just below is a breakdown of the scores generated by others [further info: 38,544 Web participants, between June '03 and May '06]. Most respondents find it easier to associate Disabled Persons with Bad and Abled Persons with Good compared to the reverse.

Strong preference for Abled Persons: 33%
Moderate preference for Abled Persons: 27%
Slight preference for Abled Persons: 16%
No Preference: 15%
Slight preference for Disabled Persons: 5%
Moderate preference for Disabled Persons: 3%
Strong preference for Disabled Persons: 1%

*raises fist of solidarity*

(Phasing Abbreviated, 'cause I'm lazy at typing)

Actually, because this test only showed abstract images, I think this measured my aversion to being excluded, rather than an aversion to people in the Abled Class. If I go into a public space, and I don't see a wheelchair access sign on the bathroom door, I know I'm going to be squirming uncomfortably rather soon. If, on the other hand, I see a sign that indicates service dogs are welcome, I'm more confident that I'll be welcome, too, 'cause the proprietors have shown a modicum of awareness of different needs.

As for the strength of my aversion, that may have been because I'd just finished reading (as in, within the hour, before I started browsing the disability studies uploads) Joke's on You: An Examination of Humor as a cultural Divider/Queer Uniter about the sexist, homophobic, racist, and ableist oppression (in that order) exerted by the "Good Sport Culture" of the 1950's through 1970's mass culture "humor" of television and night clubs. And my "Grah!" beast had been awakened.

What gets me a bit annoyed though, is the following explanation for the use of those abstract images (emphasis added by me):

The test represents the disabled category with symbols that are familiar from their uses as public signs. We contrast these signs with other, neutral, public symbols. Because physical disability has no borders, we have used symbols that should be recognizable internationally, permitting the test to be used world wide.

Okay, I understand that representing "Abled vs. Disabled" with images of actual people can be tricky, because, unlike categories such as "Gender" (common Euro-American names) or "Race," (tightly cropped faces) you can't show an actual person's disability status without showing them in the context of their environment -- and that probably throws too many variables into the mix to get a reliable test result. But an icon of the crosswalk dude going at a full sprint is no more "neutral" than showing a (terribly outdated) pair of crutches, and he's certainly not commonly viewed in public space-- I'll give a pass for the regular crosswalk dude and the school crossing kids, 'cause, yeah -- they're everywhere. ...I wonder if the test-makers know that their own implicit bias is showing.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
"Chosen Day"

What I love about Christmas is what it teaches me.

It teaches me that we, all of us, can take an ordinary day - just an ordinary day - and imbue it with meaning. We can create traditions around it, and we can celebrate it, and we can treat it as the most special, the most wonderful, the most exciting day of the year. We can choose to make something ordinary something special - just because we choose to. Some give this day a meaning from religious tradition, even though know one knows the precise day of the birth of Jesus - this day was chosen to be that day. Chosen. Selected. Some give this day meaning from a secular point of view as a day of family and a day when the hearts of children are uppermost in our minds. But no matter how it is seen, when I look out my window I see a grey day, with the sun giving little light and little warmth. It would be a day, any other time of year, that would be drab, featureless.

This teaches me that we have the power, collectively, to determine something special, something to be celebrated, just because we want to - and because we want to we call will it into being.

Here is a link to the whole piece.
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Storyteller)
It's a little too graphically bloody for Disney, perhaps, but still: It has ALL THE ACTION (and cute, funny talking animals for comic relief): The Two Brothers.


Read it.

I dare you to disagree. ...Even if it's not the kind of movie you'd go see, the events within hit almost all the check boxes for "Summer Blockbuster."

The neat thing about the link above is that it includes the Grimm Brothers' own commentary on the story, explaining the different story fragments that were the primary sources for the tale, and how it relates to other stories...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Listened to:
From WNYC's "RadioLab" -- A a segment from a show from December last. The first five and a half minutes or so of this 33 minute segment is about the joy of a man at the end of a three-month solo trek across Antarctica. And then, from then on, it's the story of a Holocaust survivor who tried to invent a new communication system that he hoped would end all war... That, it itself, would have been fascinating. I was not expecting it to end up revolving around children with cerebral palsy living in an institutional home/school/hospital in the 1970's in Ontario, Canada... but it did (Content note-- it ends on a fairly tragic, ironic note):

Mr. Bliss

For something completely different, also from "RadioLab": Liev Schreiber reads Italo Calvino's The Distance of the Moon; written in Italian in 1965, and translated into English in 1968... i.e., before we landed there...
(Content note-- one of the main characters is written as Deaf for metaphorical/symbolic reasons as a sort of Magic!wild-man/Innocent-Primitive)

Found by way of "Rolling around in my head": Reclaiming memory: Searching for Great-Aunt Sarah (Content note: institutional life and death in the early 20th century)

From "Rolling around in my head" Directly: The Better Way (content note: neither tragic nor ironic-- includes a crying baby)

And a child shall lead them -- going-on-eleven year-old Stephanie leads a blue-grass band of adult white men... You can tell she's the leader in this particular set, because she sets the tempo for their playing, and signals the final chorus of the first song with a straight-leg kick (a standard signal in folk music):

(Content note-- precocious kid on stage and occasional out-of-focus camera).

This moved me not so much for the cuteness factor, but the aplomb and grace of one so young in front of an audience -- maybe that's her "un-cuteness"?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
There's a new Web series -- "Written by a Kid," on Geek and Sundry's channel. Two grown men prompt kids between five and ten years old to tell stories. Then more grown-ups come in, and make a short film around that story, and the storytelling process.

...There's only been two episodes, so far. But for the most part I like it -- though I have to say: I wince a little, inside, when I watch kids getting interviewed by grown-ups. It's the in the same family of uncomfortable as listening to the recorded sound of my own voice -- I mean, I personally love getting into conversations with kids -- I just don't like listening to interviews with kids quite as much. I think it has something to do with the implied subtext that I'm supposed to laugh at the kid for not being as sophisticated as the adults -- for the way they just don't know enough to fill in the blanks.

However, that said, I really like this second episode, the story "Goth Boy" by 8 year old Cici. It's painted in broad strokes, and there are details missing (or are inaccurate) that adults would insist on fixing. But. It's a full story with character development and motivation (and it's just under three minutes).

And the best idea in the whole story? there's a chain store called "Goth for Christmas."

Why doesn't that exist in real life? I would totally shop there...

Also, this reminds me to get reacquainted with my eight-year-old storyteller (she's still inside me, under 40 additional layers of life), and get back to just tell "What happened next," instead of getting lost in an endless spiral of "But why?" (the reason I can write 50,000 words in thirty days, and never get out of the first chapter.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I was never exactly happy with this particular poem (I still think The second poem is the best, so far). But today's entry at "Rolling around in my Head" (blog): really brought home how unhappy I was with it, and more important, why.

So I wrote it over from the beginning, this afternoon:


Protected from the mainstream's quickened pace,
We're gathered here like flotsom in the weeds
United just by coming to this place:
"The Campus Registry for Special Needs"
As different from each other as from those
Who tell us where to sign, and where to go.

We know that we are lucky to be here,
And neither locked away, nor even dead.
And yet, in spite of Love, we still have Fear:
The knowledge: "I'm a monster" in our heads.
We're set apart, like coins in some machine --
Been counted, sorted, "valued," all our lives.
We've felt the stares of pity: cold and keen,
And yet, the pity rises in our eyes.
For we, as well, have learned what elders taught
On how to know an Adult from a Child,
So our identities are fragile -- caught
Between what's in our dreams and what's been filed.
We wait together in this quiet hall;
We glance. But do we see the Truth... at all?


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