alexeia_drae: (Default)
Title: The Storm, Ch 12, What We're Fighting For
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Rubia
Ratings/Warnings: Me and my morbidness
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3

This chapter. This damn chapter. I nearly gave up writing fanfiction because I never thought I would get this damn chapter written. Usually I write a first draft and it’s crap, and then it goes through a refining process during the second draft, and sometimes I can post then, other times I need a third draft. For this damn chapter? I lost track of the re-writes. Scenes just never gelled together, I constantly had to tear apart everything I’d written as terrible and unsalvageable, I realized I kept needing to add scenes, I realized I kept needing to delete scenes, and still it just never worked.

Until it did. It finally started to work. And I finally know how this is going to end. I have persevered!
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Andy and I were curious about the new Netflicks series, Atypical, a coming of age story about an autistic 18 year old named Sam. Like the family, I'm autistic, and apparently it's implied that the mother on the show is also autistic, and Sam has a younger neurotypical sister named Casey, which is basically our two children, only our children are 6 and under. Below are some thoughts.

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Sadly, racism is nothing new in this country, yet the openness with which it was on display over the weekend and that fact that people are openly embracing and calling themselves fucking Nazis just saddens me to no end. I mean I thought everyone could agree that fucking Nazis are evil, but I guess not. I am even more appalled by the number of people on Facebook who are either silent about what happened or are buying into the two sides BS or defending attacking people, breaking into people's homes and mowing people down via car as free speech. In short, with the exception of one person, the only people I saw denouncing the White Supremacists were the people who were already speaking out against the rise in hate and the Trump administration. From my vantage point, Charlottesville has not been the new low that has jolted people out of complacency

Given that we do live in a rather diverse, multi-cultural area and given that my kids are so young this has largely not touched them. At Easter Seals, for example, there is one white kid, two Hispanic children, one black child, and Brent is biracial Asian/Caucasian. His coaches there are a similarly diverse group. But I worry about as they grow older.

In happier news, I am feeling better about being able to homeschool Brent. I was worried that he wouldn't respond to me as a teacher, yet Brent really likes doing school work stuff! So much that I'm surprised. I thought he would think it was boring, but he enjoys and asks to do it. I'm not big on worksheet drills, but we found some at Target and he wanted it and will sit down and go through it. He loves figuring out addition problems on the abacus, and if he can't find the abacus, he'll just make dots under the numbers to represent the number and count them. He may not talk much, but his math skills are stronger than mine when I was his age! He knows his letters and enjoys doing tasks centered around the letters. Not really had much success as far as actual reading, but considering that a lot of boys aren't able to grasp this skill until they are 7 or 8 I'm not that worried. It will happen when he's ready.

He has a lot more control over his impulsivity and is better able to respond to redirection and figure out what I want him to do than he did a year ago. His coaches all comment on how quick he learns something when he figures out what they want him to do, and after seeing this in action I see what they mean. The hard part is getting him to understand what we want him to do, but once he figures that out, the skill comes rather naturally.
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The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious DynastyThe Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


As many others have pointed out, the title of this book is rather misleading. Barely 50 pages is spent on Henry VII, about 300 are spent on Henry VIII, a bit over 100 on Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary I combined, and then a little over 100 on Elizabeth I...and keep in mind Elizabeth had the longest reign of all of them by far. I felt a much more accurate title would have been Religion and Succession During the Tudor Era or something along those lines, as that would have explained the scope of the book better. Even then, after Jane Seymour died, and with the exception of how Protestants took control of the government during Edward VI's reign, it seemed as though Meyers was exhausted with all of the previous detail he had spent on the matter and seemed to skim through the rest of history

That said, this book did focus on matters that I had always wondered about when reading biographies of the Tudors, namely, how did people react to being Roman Catholic one day, Henry Catholic (for lack of a better term) the next, then Protestant, then Roman Catholic again, before returning to Protestant. Here, especially during Henry VIII's reign, Meyers painted a detailed picture of how this was accomplished. His two great strengths were in illustrating how these changes were forced upon the people of England and bringing a rather novel and fresh perspective to events that I had never read any one espouse before but made me think.

I also appreciated on how he focused not just on events in England, but how events on the European Continent and even the Ottoman Empire played a role in English affairs. For instance, the reason the Pope likely never excommunicated Henry VIII was because he was under attack by the Ottoman Empire and couldn't afford a war with England. This gave added depth and perception to how interconnected the world was even in the 16th century.

His weakness was how openly he showed his biases. I won't defend Henry VIII. He was a vile, ruthless tyrant. And most of what I have read supports the view that the people of England were content enough with the Catholic church and the decision to leave was Henry's temper tantrum over not getting his way. Yet the way Meyers so rigorously defended the Catholic Church in England as innocent and Henry as vile was simply over the top. What made this even worse was that while he maintained over and over about how reports of abuse at monasteries were exaggerated, he didn't provide any figures and few examples to back this up. Given I had read similar things from other authors I don't have any trouble believing his point, yet how forceful he was with his statements of how rare of a problem this was for the Catholic Church in England (something like of 1000 monasteries, only 2 had sustained complaints against them would have been helpful) just created this impression that if he yelled loudly enough he could make a lie truth. And this was how it seemed to someone who agreed with him!

And sometimes his examples exonerating Catholics backfired. For instance, in defending Wolsey, an archbishop who had a illegitimate son, he talked about how he refused to let Anne Boleyn and her family appoint a female family member who was sexually loose to become head of an abbey. So I guess it's okay when a male priest has sex to still hold positions of power, but it's not okay for a woman to do so. If Meyers had focused on this women being grossly incompetent or the like I wouldn't have minded, but apparently the hypocrisy did not register with him.

I have seen some reviewers wonder if Meyers has a problem with women in power in general, and given his sympathetic portrayal of Mary I and how strongly he defended English Catholics, I wondered more if he was Catholic. Yet he was also very sympathetic to Edward VI and he could be just as cuttingly harsh on Catholics when the circumstances warranted it as he could with defending them when he felt they were slandered. If anything I would say the longer the time the monarch had to rule, the harder he was on them. And his bias came out again in full force with Elizabeth I, and unlike Henry VIII, it felt unfair rather than over the top.

While rightly lambasting her for the failures of her reign (and to be fair, he lambasts everyone in the book at some point), I was flabbergasted by the lengths he went to deny her any credit for the successes of her reign. When successes did happen, it wasn't Elizabeth's doing, it was because of Cecil's brilliance or bad weather or Phillip of Spain making a mistake, etc. Yet, as he points out on his chapter on Parliament, good leaders delegate and put good people in charge. There's simply too much to do on their own, and to my mind, Elizabeth does get credit for having the wisdom to appoint Cecil and to listen to him. His other big critique of Elizabeth was that she had no ambition other than to survive, yet given what Henry VIII's ambitions did to England and how the country had been reeling from that, Elizabeth giving the country time to breath and adjust to a new status quo sounds wiser than tearing it down all over again.

That he stated the last years of her reign were Essex's story was rather appalling and feeds into the appearance of sexism.

All said and done, I felt I gained a lot from reading this book. From a fresh, novel perspective, to details on how the Church of England was established and what effect this had on the common people, as well as filling in the blanks on how events in Spain, the Ottoman Empire, France and the Netherlands played a role in English politics, it answered questions I had been harboring for a long time. Bottom line, would recommend with reservations.



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4th Rock from the Sun: The Story of Mars4th Rock from the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


This book seemed to spew random trivia about anything related to Mars, rather than forming some sort of cohesive narrative. I got about 60 pages in and then I couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't even too heavy on the science, there was a lot about how Mars is seen in pop culture and astrology which, the author says, is pseudoscience BUT then she does this "isn't it interesting how astrology is right about saying Mars has this characteristic about being emotionally cold and low and behold it turns out Mars is a cold planet so the astrologists are right" type dance that got extremely aggravating (plus tangents about how astrology is pseudoscience but right about the other planets...and palmistry! Which is also pseudoscience, BUT...I wish I was making this up).

The random trivia wasn't even given in any sort of chronological order so we could see how our views of Mars evolved with time which could have been interesting (for instance, she talks about how Mars is portrayed in "Doctor Who" while talking roughly about the 1960s, goes way into the 2000s to talk about an episode with Tennant before going back and talking about an episode with Troughton in the 60s). And she does not combine how Mars is portrayed in popular culture side by side with how our scientific findings impacted the media portrayal, which also could have been interesting. It was just a spew of loosely connected facts.

Skip.



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Fandom: The Slayers
Title: The Storm, Ch 11
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Rubia
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Fandom: The Slayers
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Xellos
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Fandom: The Slayers
Title: Slayers, Neverending, Ch 5
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zel/Amelia
Plot: What is there to do after you've defeated Shabranigdu twice by the time you're 18? Lina worries about what to do with the rest of her life that can top or at least match her early achievements. Yet for this native born heroine of Zeferia, there will always be a new challenge. This was hard figuring out novels or anime continuity, eventually went with novels

FFN
AO3
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Title: The Storm, Ch 9, Burn
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Xellos, Rubia
Ratings/Warnings: Violence, themes of death
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
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Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls WilderPioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder by Nancy Tystad Koupal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a good collection of essays examining the Little House books in light of the publication of Pioneer Girl. Like all books that include the works of many different authors, some essays are stronger than others, overall, I felt each essay added something and can only remember one that felt like a chore to get through.

It broadened my history of life on the American frontier without ignoring the problematic elements of the novels (such as the treatment of the First American population that was already living in the places where the Ingalls family attempted to settle). I know some viewers are distressed to learn that things among the family were not as idealized in real life as they were in the books, but I find this fascinating and am always hungry for more information, especially as the relationship between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane seemed especially complicated.

Definitely would recommend.



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Last night we got back rather late from visiting my sister in Des Moines, Iowa. While I have flown to places that are further away, this is the longest trip I've ever been a driver on, and it was the longest trip we've taken with the kids. Brent did very well, Gwen had a hard time at night. We'd planned to stay a few more days but Brent and Gwen were asking to go home and Andy and I could not stand another night of Gwen's 3AM tantrums. We'd also thought of stopping by to see Amelia Earhart's birthplace in Atchinson, KS, but scrapped those plans for another time. Anyway, highlights below.

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I'm on a road trip to see my sister in Des Moines, and we stopped by the Little House site in Independence, KS on the way. This is the site from Little House on the Prairie. The cabin is a reconstruction, though the well Pa Ingalls dug was there. Anyway, observations and the like below.

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Really!?

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:03 pm
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Well, living in the Bible Belt and being an unapologetic atheist, I’m used to people targeting me for conversion (though I don’t like it). But someone left a review with a long plea about Jesus and the end times and the whatnot. What pisses me off, though, is this person disabled PMs so I can’t throw logic and reason in their face. Really, if you’re going to shove religion down my throat have the courtesy to let me reply to you so I can have the satisfaction of leaving your argument in a smoldering pile of cinder ashes.

OK, back to my heathen and oh so devious lifestyle of raising critical thinkers, being boringly monogamous since, oh, forever, educating about autism, drinking lots and lots of water, and helping clients achieve their full potential.
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Fandom: The Slayers
Title: Slayers, Neverending, Ch 4
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Luna
Plot: What is there to do after you've defeated Shabranigdu twice by the time you're 18? Lina worries about what to do with the rest of her life that can top or at least match her early achievements. Yet for this native born heroine of Zeferia, there will always be a new challenge. This was hard figuring out novels or anime continuity, eventually went with novels.

FFN
AO3
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My grandma died this morning. Here she is with my grandpa on their wedding day, 66 years ago. She was one of many strong women in my family. When she was 18 her house caught on fire, trapping two of her younger siblings inside. She ran into the burning building and rescued them. There were also some newly hatched chicks on the stove, and she would have run into rescue them if she hadn’t been prevented from it (likely wisely). In the 1950s she became the first person in her family to attend and graduate college. She felt it was more important for women to go to college then men because men could get good jobs as construction workers and other manual labor fields that were barred to women, and she never wanted to be in a situation where she could not support herself. Even in the 1950s when a lot of women stayed home, my grandma taught school, even being the breadwinner for the family when my grandpa decided to get his master’s degree.

She lived for 89 years, had four daughters, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. After years of a slow decline where she developed dementia, lost her mobility, and many of her basic dignities, I believe she was ready to go. She passed along her love of reading and education, pragmatism, determination, and tendency to save people from fires (my mom has also rescued someone from a burning car, so it’s genetic). Till the end she was loved dearly by my grandpa, who would look at her and still see the cute brunette he married 66 years ago and not the frail old lady she became.

RIP

Note: I am an atheist, and religious expressions of grief are not comforting to me and are painful. Please be respectful of this. If you want to know how to approach an atheist who is grieving, read up on it here.

Also, if you know me on Facebook, please don't post anything on my page right now. We haven't told my great aunt yet because her grandson is getting married today and we are waiting till that is over.
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Title: The Storm, Ch 8: Living in the Shadow
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Luna, Rubia
Ratings/Warnings: None
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
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The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent ChildThe Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M. Gottman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I am a big fan of the Gottman's research on marriage and was pleasantly surprised to find they also did work on parenting. This book is about how to become your child's Emotion Coach and raise emotionally healthy children. I felt that the research and strategies presented in this book were good. Based on an anecdote in this book, when my 3 year old left her stuffed monkey in the van and started repeating over and over again that she wanted monkey, I said, "I know you're sad that you don't have monkey right now, he will be waiting for you when we get into the van," and after I did that she stopped asking for him. It seems that she did just want an acknowledgement of her feelings.

I did feel that the latter chapters either needed to be fleshed out more, especially the ones on child development, because they did just seem tacked on there. Considering most of the examples on emotion coaching involved children who are verbal, I would have liked more examples for children who aren't, especially as my 6 year old is autistic and can't carry a conversation yet, and it feels so easy to tell him what he is feeling because he can't give me his feedback or correct me if I'm wrong.

I also appreciated the section on times when emotion coaching is not advised, such as when mediating an argument between your two children when both are in the room, because I had tried to do something similar in the past, or when you are pressed for time.

Overall this is a good book, I wish it were longer, included more on child development, and had a bit more on using these strategies for children who aren't verbal. In essence, this is the starting point for learning about emotional coaching.



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Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really AreEverybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is a good starting point for psychologists and sociologists to find information and data with which to launch more research into. This was a quick, funny, and interesting read about how the internet has circumvented one of the biggest problems in psychological research, the fact that people lie.

The implications are profound, from the problem of racism in the US to child abuse, and even uncovering evidence that self-induced abortions have gone up in areas in the US with stricter abortion laws. And the applications are limitless, from finding the most effective way to teach children to how businesses can use big data to milk us, and how people can use big data to fight back. Highly recommended!



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-Currently my grandmother is at rehab, but she's not making any progress. Likely in mid June she's going to a group hospice home. I'm 35, and this is the first time someone close to me has died, so it's been something. I've started trying to talk with Brent about death, though, I'm not sure how much he understands. Gwen doesn't get it at all. This morning she found a dead frog in the parking lot and started pointing and yelling, "frog!" Then, when she walked away, she started waving and saying, "bye-bye frog!" Childhood innocence and the brutality of life had never stood in such stark contrast.

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Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of ArchaeologyThree Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about archaeology. In addition to learning about many fascinating ancient cultures, Cline was able to add a refreshing bit of humor to the subject. I often found myself Googling the places he was talking about, and often wish books like these had some sort of online companion with pictures of the places and objects that were discussed, as well as to illustrate some of the more technical concepts in archaeology.

Cline also explored issues pertinent to modern archaeology, such as the need for measures to prevent looting, and explained how archaeology can become politically contentious at times and gave the reader a feel for the complexity of these issues. Reading this was also a good demonstration on how science changes to accommodate the evidence that we find and gives the reader a good feel for how science works.

My sole quibble was that the chapter on Masada sort of petered out after the mystery of what happened there was presented and got me rather intrigued. Other than that this was a solid, enjoyable read.



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