crane

Welcome to My Journal

Welcome to my journal. I'm putting this at the top so folks can find things easily. There are so many years' worth of stuff on this journal that it's not that easy to find things. I started out just journaling, but then got into writing fiction as well.

First, trip journals. They're all family friendly. You can also just click the travel tag as well to see everything related to it.

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crane

Crash Landings We Walk Away From

Wanted to check in and say that Jet is safely and happily in Mines, my Mom and Dad are safely moved into Vi and have settled in enough to be truly happy there, and that John and I have finally landed in our house, with all our boxes and boxes and boxes of Stuff.

Except...



Yeah. I completely blew out the tendons in my right hand and forearm. Couldn't even close my hand or open it completely without pain. So you're probably not going to hear a lot more from me for a bit.

But we've landed, mostly in one piece. The house is beautiful and livable, and everyone's actually in their places for a while. Whew.
crane

And We Have Lift Off

It took more than four days to finally complete, but I guess in a way we'd really started the preparations more than eighteen years ago...

The Jet is launched into The Colorado School of Mines, and he's having a great time.

I'm so glad. And relieved, but also just so proud of how he worked through a rather tough situation.

On Monday, the day of the move-in, all the Leaning Communities were moving in at the same time, along with the various sport teams, and anyone that had a solid connection to the other communities that were all going to the Ore Digger camp up in the mountains for three days. The setup was something completely new to me, all the parents and their vans/cars/trucks/U-Haul trailers would pull up to a designated unloading zone and would have 15 minutes to unload everything in their car. Hordes of volunteers would descend on the pile and take everything up to the rooms.

Many of the drop zones were for more than one dorm. All of the boxes were supposed to be labelled with the owner's name, dorm name, room number, and phone number. Not everyone did that, and I cannot imagine what they would have done in this situation, because the labeling actually helped resolve things. Yes. It does get resolved. No suspense here.

We arrived, we started unloading things, and Jet realized he needed a room key to get into the room, so he went off to get that. John and I finished unloading all the boxes, and volunteers started grabbing things and going off with them. Occasionally asking, "Does this go to Elm?" Which everything did, and I would have the ones that I interacted with repeat the room number to me, which they all did. When it was all out of the van, John drove it off to park it and I sat with the remaining items, deciding that I'd hold Jet's monitor as it was pretty fragile and huge. By the time Jet got back, everything but his rock had gone off to his room.

Yes. There's a Rock. All freshmen have to bring a ten pound rock for the iconic Mines M on Mt. Zion. They hike with it up to the M, place it, whitewash it while getting "helped" by the upperclassmen, and when they're seniors, they can come up and take one with them when they go out in the world. It's an interesting tradition, still rooted in the mountains and geological roots of the school.

So he carried his rock up to his room, we got all his stuff into the room with all the stuff from his two other roommates, whom had all arrive at the same time. Yes, it's a triple. I'm impressed, honestly. They got a nice, big corner room that's designed to be a triple, but it's still just one room for three people to live in. The two other families were there variously, and it was nice to meet both roommates and their families.

One very Jet-thing then happened, as John started to suggest things that could be taken care of as part of the move-in, Jet said, "Let's just go walk around and see some things. I can take care of all that later."

*laughs* So we did. It was a good walk around, and we visited the bookstore to see if there was any more things we wanted to buy than we'd bought already. There was a sustainable living booth that had free water bottles and literature about how Mines is trying to reduce waste and reuse a lot of stuff. We'd seen water bottle fillers in the hallways of the dorm, and it was fun to talk with them for a bit. They also had melting ice cream sandwiches, which John and Jet enjoyed.

It's a beautiful, newer campus, they've updated a lot of the oldest buildings, and there is an amazing student recreation center with all the workout stuff and an amazing outdoors coordination booth that has equipment for skiing, rock climbing, hiking with crampons on ice, and even camping as well as a scheduler for going on group activities with other students.

And when we'd wandered until there really wasn't anything more to see, we hugged him and let him go. I was suitably sad and happy and that whole mix of emotions that just happens with these big life events. So happy that he's able to tackle it all, and sad that he's out of my every day life.

So John and I went to the lavender farm at Chatfield Farms, which is owned by the Denver Botanical Gardens, we'd gotten HUGE storm cell with lightening rained out of the Lavender Festival there, and had vowed to go back. So we did and found that there was a lot more than just the lavender field in front.

Most of the park and garden is working farm for local farm to table restaurants. There are also a lot of venue spaces, a camp site in the back of the lake, and areas that have things like this botanical sculpture. It was all tree branches all tangled together. Intriguing, but definitely not all lavender. There was even a tiny butterfly tent that had a lot of moths, butterflies, and the stuff to feed and care for them. It was closed when we got there, but we wandered about in the sunshine and talked about how it was to leave Jet.

After getting back into the car, John got a call that he wisely didn't answer while driving, but he handed his phone to me to take a look. It was Jet, saying that he couldn't find his computer and was it still in the Eurovan? It wasn't.

He contacted his RAs immediately. His roommates were good support. They had an all-floor meeting that evening, and he asked about it there. It hadn't shown up in Elm. They all were leaving for camp on Tuesday morning and wouldn't be back until Thursday, when the rest of the students were moving in. And none of us really knew what could be done after the chaos of boxes, people, and all kinds of things that could happen. It was hard and both Jet and I were really sad about the loss while John was very determinedly optimistic about it showing up. So I did my best and minted the phrase, "He just hasn't found it yet." And tried to use that phrase whenever my brain came up with all kinds of awful things.

That night, Jet texted us to tell us he was going to sleep and that he loved us. We txted back and said we loved him and wished him a good night. That felt really good all around, I think.

I couldn't sleep that night (and later, Jet said that he had a really hard time sleeping that first night, too, because of the missing box) and at 5 am, I posted on the in-coming students' parents list about the situation, moderating my language consciously to make it non-accusatory. And they came up with a ton of experience about how the chaos of the move-in does lose a lot of stuff and all kinds of stories about how it gets found again. The most common thing that happens is that a volunteer just takes it to the wrong dorm (since MOST of the drop off areas went to more than one dorm) and sticks it into the room of someone who won't be there until Thursday.

So I waited.

And Jet found some connectivity in the mountains and texted to tell us he was having a great time, and I realized that that really was what was important. The computer could be replaced, things lost were just things lost, but the fact that he was creating relationships already was a very very good sign for how things would work for him at this school.

And when Thursday morning came and went and we got all the things Jet had discovered he might still like together and then left the house for the Convocation and we still hadn't heard word of him finding it, I was pretty down. So I put my "it's okay" face on and went with John to meet up with him. John dropped me and the new things off with Jet in the parking lot. Jet met me there and we hugged solidly and were quietly sad together for a bit, but kept going and walked up to his room to put away the things. When I told him that a lot of the parents had said the he should check out the Lost and Founds of the other dorms, he thought it was a great idea and hadn't known there was a Lost and Found. Lots and lots of people said, "Hi, Jet!" on the way in, which made me very happy. He seemed like it wasn't anything big, which I'm good with. *laughs*

He had to run off to a field with all the rest of the in-coming students, about 1300 freshman and 200 transfer students, as they were all going to have a class picture together. I joined John at the recreation center's basketball arena with all the other parents, and we waited for the Convocation to start.

"Convocation" is the assembling of a formal gathering, and so it was. The first time assembly of the Class of 2023 with their professors, staff, and parents as support. It was the opposite end of the university life than a graduation, but it had much of the same sort of organization. Lots of people in the School of Mines talking about what being there meant. I was pretty impressed that a lot of the talk was about how to fail well and learn from it.

The most impressive example of that was the professor who helped Adam Savage build a flying Iron Man suit from 3D-printed titanium. Especially since my favorite quote from Mythbusters is "Failure is Always An Option." So all the values on display, all the priorities were the ones I loved. A tough, technical school, with a lot to teach, but also the compassion to try and ease freshmen fears, and give the room to fail for a while before finding their feet, which I never really felt was the case at Caltech. The Caltech pre-frosh talk was "Look to your right, look to your left, one of you won't be at graduation." It really was a "if you can't take the heat, get out of this kitchen" kind of place. Here the emphasis was on that all the students had the support of the staff, the professors, and each other to lean on when things got tough. I'll admit I cried a little.

Afterwards was an okay BBQ with Buster the donkey hanging out for pictures with people, and after we ate, Jet decided it was the perfect time to try the other dorms' Lost and Founds. So, after asking if it was okay with him, we went with him.

The lady at the Maple front desk listened to him patiently and then said, "Oh, are you missing a printer?" And Jet started to explain that, no, it was a computer...

And John jumped in with, "It was a printer box. We packed your computer in an old printer box."

"Oh! Well, it was labelled Elm, so we sent it over to Elm. Check in their Lost and Found."

We thanked her profusely and I danced about on the way over and John said quellingly, "I'm not going to celebrate until we have our hands on it."

And Jet came over and hugged me and said, "Well, I'm going to celebrate with Mom." Which was all I needed to start crying. 😁 Luckily, Jet understood entirely.

We got back to Elm, and Jet asked at the front desk. At first the lady was confused and started looking in their Lost and Found drawer; but with more explanation, she went back into the back room and came out with Jet's box. That was probably the best I've felt in a while. Especially when both Jet and I looked and saw that the box was, indeed, labelled with his name, room number, dorm, and phone number. He and I high 5'd when he said, "We did label it."

When Jet had the box hugged to his body and we were going up the hallway toward his room, he said, "What I don't understand is why they didn't even try to call me." 

I don't know either, and it turned out that a mother had commented on my Facebook post about a printer that had been delivered to her daughter's room that didn't belong to them. She was upset she hadn't actually read the label on it, and could have found it for us earlier, and I felt better that she was upset and thanked her profusely. Which is such an interesting interaction to have. The connectivity of the Internet makes for some interesting situations.

Jet's roommate's parents were leaving as we were heading to his room, and they were so happy he'd found his computer, it was pretty heartwarming. They were back home to the East Coast, and so we wished them safe travels. Jet kept telling nearly everyone we met that he's found his box, so I got a much better idea of how much he'd gone out of his way to ask for help. I was very impressed.

And when we got back to his room he set the box in the middle of the room and just stared at it for a while. It was done. He now had everything he had hoped to have when this all started, and afterward, we were so tired and relieved, that we really couldn't think of much else to do. So he just walked us to our car, we all hugged thoroughly and said our good-byes. He ended with, "I'll see you later!"

And I replied, "Definitely." Which made him smile.

John and I went to Glacier Ice Cream in Boulder to celebrate after that. We have, indeed, launched him into his new, challenging world. And it's good. He's independent, self-motivated, and knows why he's there. It's a bit like Mission Control with the astronauts, we really can't DO anything, but we can talk him through things and remind him of his training, but he's the one that's got to do what he's got to do.
crane

Road Trippin'

So when we realized just how much time we were going to be spending in Karen's basement, we decided to do some traveling. Not as much as we thought we might have to do when we thought we'd be living on the road until our house was done, but more than we would if we'd been able to move straight into the new house.

The two trips were one to take Jet north to Canada to see some of the sights that John and I saw up there when Jet was in Europe, and the other is going to be to Seattle to stay with John's mom and explore a bit with her and revisit a lot o the amazing Asian restaurants we loved when we were there over Christmas. Jet insisted that we try new things, go to places that we didn't go on our trip so that we'd have a fresh perspective, too, and it worked out really well with John's ability to plan and research things.</div>

I'm going to give you the full photo album right up front, so you can see all the views (many have some information on the side and I think you can see the info by clicking on the picture and clicking on the circle with an "i" in the middle. I'll just pull out a few as I talk about why and what we got out of the places we visited.

Cut for the pictures, as usual.Collapse )
crane

Max Gladstone's _Empress of Forever_

Empress of ForeverEmpress of Forever by Max Gladstone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Max Gladstone did what I've been dreaming of doing and he did it really really well.

He took the Journey to the West and translated it into pure space opera and did it writing only one chapter for every 20 in the old books, and he did it with style and beautiful writing. He pulled it all together with his own plot that made sense, with really incredible characters (and in his usual way, most of them are women) and an overarching beautifully paced escalation of action that charges up the reader's ability to learn and comprehend what's going on as quickly as Vivian Lao learns about the universe she lands in and how it works (even when some of the whys are beautifully made inconsequential) and finally has to deal with how it makes her work and feel.

He gives a solid framework for the timescales involved, the legends that are born, and what felt oddly Chinese was the rooted grounding in family and what it really can mean. He even had solid footing in the realms of Buddhist practice. He's done his homework.

I'll admit that as a Chinese woman, it felt odd to have him take both my culture and my gender and *write it*. And I'm sure there are going to be people yelling about cultural appropriation, but... damn, what he's done here is what writers are *for*. Examining and understanding and then creating from what isn't known to allow readers to have an even deeper understanding. I could as much yell about writers appropriating coding or science (and with writers who do it WRONG I do), which are also cultures in their own way, as about being Chinese or female (and homosexual, which amuses me to see my tendency to write homosexual men from the other side).

Given that the only thing that's actually Chinese is Vivian Lao's background, and the rest is actually all supposed to be about space aliens, he's allowed. *laughs*

Anyway, I loved it. I recommend it. I will probably wallow in its entirety a few more times just to inspire myself. And especially rejoice in a telling of why Tyrannical Empires should be fought against no matter how terrible and huge they seem and how small and weak and helpless we might think we are in the face of them. Dragons can be beaten.



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crane

A Few Too Many Things

The hardest thing about posting intermittently, compared to when I was doing it every day, is that there are so many things I want to talk about, but jumbling them all together feels like a mashup that has no real point.

The things that are on my mind at the moment include:
  • The road trip to the Canadian Rockies that we did, which is more of a picture album kind of thing, where I get to talk a bit about the rewards of each day.
  • Our in-between time for the two houses, and the unexpected gifts that have come with that time.
  • My summer with Jet before he goes off to college, which might fit a little with the first point.
  • Various culinary adventures we've had in Karen's kitchen, which can also be a pictures and linear telling kind of thing.
  • The odd revelation that if I take Christian Teachings from the angle of it being about community, NOT about individual behavior (under the creepy stalker eye of a god that immediately punishes or rewards said behavior) all kinds of things can open up to a good way of understanding. It's NOT all about you.
  • Realizing how badly I was damaged by the writing breakup and figuring out if or where I want to go with writing.
  • And with both the upper two points are mixing various bits of the theology of Sean Stewart, Lois McMaster Bujold, Max Gladstone (in particular because I've been rereading some of his stuff with Jet), and especially T. Kingfisher's universe's theology and how they play in very well with mine. Diane Duane has a thing up on her Tumblr that tells one of the real stories about how I think this works. Lots of thoughts about working theology... but maybe they're better put into a book.
  • What it's like to be good friends with a lot of ladies who are decades ahead of me on the aging scale and what they mean to me as they lose capabilities but are still bravely themselves while they age and I age. I'm learning a lot about being the oldest I've ever been and how to march forward with that and what the real rewards are for loving too well and being part of a community that's more than work or school. Plus how that's really fed me in surprising ways.
  • How much it maddens me when people mistake opinion, individual experience, and conviction for having the same authority as scientific proof. They are two different things people, each valuable in their own time and context, but terribly and utterly inapplicable for the other application. Bashing either also maddens me.

They are not all related, but they are all intertwined.

I'll probably do the trip as it's so straightforward, and a few picture never hurt anyone.  The time in-between is another priority and our relationship with Karen really has grown.  The aging problem is one that's constantly with me these days and the loss of capabilities is very real and probably affects more people than let anyone else know and it's something that becomes easier the more I understand how common it really is. And getting to know those things seems to be a facet of belonging to a real community, the member of whom get to know each other well enough to share things that they can't and really don't want to show at work or in public.

But the book and the theology are just going to haunt me. *laughs*  That's as it should be, I think.
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crane

The Perils of Cliffhangers

Huh.

When I left it at that cliffhanger, I didn’t think that would come back to bite me and give me two other medical things to “deal with” in the interim.

So. I’d best write before anything ELSE happens on top of all the house stuff.

Best of good news with the house things: we closed on the old house! The new owners met with us for the signing with their adorable baby boy and it was a blast. The new house is going well, and John’s checking every day, there’s a photo album of the daily progress here.

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crane

A Wild Ride

The last two weeks have been a little crazy.

We've been working all along to get everything ready for showing the house. There were three stages: the first when Colleen showed up and gave us a quick run through of everything she thought we should do, things that we could kind of take or leave. They were as big as getting everything that was natural wood painted either white or gray and moving my entire library out of my office to things as small as the orientation of my second monitor.
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crane

Everything Changes and Nothing Changes Back

There are pros and cons to living in a home that is staged for an open house and for showing.  The pros include it being very very easy to pick up everything that's out and getting it out of ones way, there are actually very few things out. The cons are pretty much all the things on the other edge to that particular blade.
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