I refuse to get older without the assistance of a sauna

My birthday is coming up in less than two weeks! If you’re in the NYC area, you’ve probably gotten an email from me (or twelve) listing all my various birthday events. I party hard!

People always ask me: what do you want for your birthday? And usually I say “I dunno” because I pretty much have everything I need in life. But  this year I do have something I want: a 24 hour spa day with massages and scrubs and treatments and the whole thing.

King Spa

Since this costs a bit of money, it’s not something I would ask for from one person. However, if multiple people would like to contribute towards such a thing, I would not object.

To facilitate this, I first set up one of those personal crowdfunding things but the process was arduous and annoying. No one likes that. In the end, PayPal is better, anyway.

So, if you would like to give me a gift for my birthday, you can send it via PayPal to my GMail address: ktempestbradford 

And to everyone who has already done so: you’re awesome, I love you, and I’m sending individual thank yous soon!

Finally: BIRTHDAY UNENDING STARTS RIGHT NOW.

2012 Resolutions

2012 Resolutions

All the cool kids are doing it.

1. Write fiction every day.

2. Write a non-work, non-Tumblr blog post every day. I have 10 blogs. I should, like, post on them.

3. Manage my time. At all.

4. Get in better shape by exercising regularly and switching up my daily habits so I move more and spend more time outside (weather permitting).

5. Be strict about my budget.

6. Tackle all of the non-work, non-fiction writing projects I wish to participate in, but one at a time instead of all at once.

7. Read more fiction. I now have the ability to save stories on the web to read later on my eReader. I should, like, do that.

8. Spend more time with friends both virtually and in real life. I should be Google Hanging Out far more than I do, and I should be seeing my friends out in the world far more than I do.

9. Learn a new skill. I’m thinking about something to do with programming/coding. Perhaps I will learn how to make Android apps, or something to do with Linux.

10. Complete my home improvement projects. I want track shelving in the living room and Moroccan-style decor in my bedroom.

ETA: 11. Learn something new every month. A recipe, a nugget of knowledge, a skill, something.

Intra-Community Behavior – How Do We Address Problems Constructively?

Intra-Community Behavior - How Do We Address Problems Constructively?

This was a very long comment on the post from yesterday. However, in writing it I realized that this discussion is separate but related, so I broke it out into its own post. This comment addresses some stuff across multiple comments over there plus some things from this discussion on the anon community.

Just to clarify: For me, my worries over the doubts I had about Kynn and the way I pushed them aside isn’t about whether I should have known she would rape someone. It’s totally separate from that. It’s more about how I shouldn’t have accepted that behavior from a person who very clearly wanted to be allied with my community and me personally. I don’t look back and regret my errors because of what happened to jack specifically. Wanted to clear that up.

While on one hand I agree with the anon that points out that within social justice communities if someone doesn’t speak up and say “hey, I don’t agree with the actions this person is taking” then people may assume that we endorse or, at least, don’t find the behavior problematic. And that can be a problem both within and outside of the community.

On the other hand, I very much agree with Cheryl that I don’t then want us to turn the tone argument on each other or start deciding whose anger is more valid. Plus, I get the feeling that what some critics of social justice want in that instance is a public “I DON’T AGREE” in big letters. I’m not always comfortable with that.

Intra-community discussions of appropriate actions and words should stay inside unless the community decides to open it up to wider discussion.

Examples of this include the recent flare-up surrounding Ashley Judd’s condemnation of hip-hop as sexist. Women in the hip-hop and POC community have been dealing with this issue a lot longer, and many did not appreciate someone from outside the community swanning in to give her ill-formed and unwanted opinion on the matter.

Within a feminist context, women outside of mainstream white western culture are forever dealing with well-meaning feminists trying to tell them how their cultures are evil and should be abandoned. Whereas women inside those cultures and communities are constantly saying “Back off, we got this, we’re working on it from our own cultural framework.”

Those are big picture examples. Those are also more straightforward than what we’re dealing with here.

The dilemma I see is this: how does a community or an individual within a community approach another individual to say I/We think you’re crossing a line? That’s a tough conversation to have. I’ve found myself reluctant to have it the few times it’s come up. And, as I said yesterday, I am not the behavior police nor do I feel I have the right to be.

Still, this situation is making me realize how important it is to discuss this and come up with strategies not only to ensure the mental health of the community at large, but also to achieve our common goals.

As before, thoughts are very much appreciated. And to the anonymice out there — I allow anon comments here, but reserve the right to moderate as I see fit. (Generally: deleting abusive ones.)

ETA: Hey anons, want to further clarify something for those of you who seem to be lacking reading skills. This post is not about reactions to what Kynn did to Jack. I’m not saying AT ALL that intra-community issues need to be worked out around people’s reactions to that. I’m talking here about more general issues using Kynn’s behavior before this incident as a touchpoint, but not due to what happened at WisCon. This is about things I observed before that. How people deal with someone in their group who rapes another is a separate conversation and not what I’m addressing here (for that, see the other post). Okay? Okay.

Community, Trust, Responsibility, Consequences

Community, Trust, Responsibility, Consequences

This post may be triggering for some as it contains discussions of rape, sexual assault, and community responses to such.

I promised to write this post last week, but unfortunately preparations for BlogHer took up more spoons than I anticipated. Plus, I’ve been dealing with a lot of intense emotions around the issue and it kept me from posting publicly for a while. But I feel it’s important for several reasons, all of which you will understand by the end of this post. I’m placing the bulk of it under a cut, just in case. [Read more...]

Tempest in da Bay Area

Tempest in da Bay Area

All right, folks. I will be in San Francisco this afternoon and hanging out in Mountain View until Friday. There are some plans afoot for Friday and Wednesday. Possibly something for tonight. But right now I’m honestly not sure how I’m getting from the airport to my hotel.

At any rate, ping me on Facebook or Twitter (@tinytempest) if you want to meet up for dinner or something!

In San Francisco Next Week

In San Francisco Next Week

Very quick:

I’m going to be in San Francisco next week for a Google announcement. Work is flying me out there and paying for my hotel on Tuesday night. However, because of the cost, I’m flying back on Friday afternoon.

So I’m looking for a place to stay Wednesday and Thursday night. I have to work remotely on Thursday and on Wednesday I’ll need to get from Mountain View to wherever I’m staying, but that can happen in the evening (I’ll be at Google headquarters for most of the afternoon then in the hotel lobby trying to write everything after that). And I guess I’ll need some help figuring out how to get to the airport on Friday. I’m not afraid to take public transit, I just need explicit directions.

If anyone has room for me and it’s not too much of a burden, let me know. I’ll be entertaining in the evenings, I swear!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It- OW!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It- OW!

Yesterday all of the news sources I knew of predicted that we’d get just 5 – 9 inches of snow overnight. Then  again, those same sources also said it wouldn’t start snowing until the afternoon. Judging by the inch of accumulation before I left the house at 9am, someone was clearly wrong.

I woke up this morning at 5 in order to go to the gym. I turned on WNYC and, lo, the news dude was all: “There’s 15 inches of snow in Central Park.” I looked out of my window at the courtyard of my building and, lo, it seems we got at least that much of here, too. Fabulous.

Thus, the gym was out, because none of the sidewalks had even begun to be shoveled and even walking down the middle of the somewhat plowed street was precarious. How do I know these things? I went out just to assess how bad things were and this is what greeted me at the front door:

Inwood, NYC, 1/27 Snowstorm

Here’s the scene from the bottom of the stairs:

Inwood, NYC, 1/27 Snowstorm

I attempted to make my way down those stairs. But, due to the near foot of snow and the impacted bits from others who were forced to leave their homes, every stair was a death trap. I fell down around the third step. Thankfully, a foot plus of snow is very soft. However, I wrenched my back attempting to not fall. Good times!

Since I was already down, I took a bunch of pictures of my street and the cross street. Note the “plowed” street, which is still unpassable unless you have 4 wheel drive. And the poor people who live up that hill…

Good thing I can work from home.

End of Year Donating

End of Year Donating

A few years ago I read a post by Jed Hartman wherein he listed all of the various organizations and charities he donates money to, usually at the end of the year. I’ve rarely been in a financial position to be a generous donor — one of the reasons I volunteer my time, instead — but this year I have a small bit of extra money and some worthy entities I want to support. And since I can never keep my mouth shut about the things I’m passionate about, I shall also take this opportunity to encourage you to join me in supporting them. It’s only a slightly evil plan, I know. Next time I will do better.

First up: It’s just been a few weeks since the Carl Brandon eReader Drawing fundraiser ended, so you might be a bit burned on this one. However, the Society is in the midst of another fund drive, this time to benefit their general fund. SF3 — the parent org of WisCon — recently awarded CBS a $2000 challenge grant. That means they will match any donations made in December and January up to $2K. The Drawing didn’t count toward this since all the money we raised in November is earmarked for the Butler Scholarship. Any general fundraising will support other activities of the Society, including the Parallax and Kindred awards. You can make a donation via PayPal here. However, if you send a check to the address on that page, CBS gets to keep more of your donation.

Next: If you’ve used Wikipedia any time in the last few months you probably noticed the banner at the top asking for donations. They are apparently within 1.1 million of reaching their goal, and I intend to donate. I know a lot of people scoff at Wikipedia, but I find it to be an incredibly useful resource for some information. I am on the site at least once a day, usually more. And having written an article about Wikipedia lately, I have an even greater appreciation of how important it’s become and how much work the Wikimedia Foundation puts into the site. Click here to donate.

Finally: As much as NPR sometimes makes me roll my eyes, I have to admit that public radio is a constant part of my life. I wake up to it every morning, I’m always downloading podcasts, and I’ve even been a guest. So I’m going to send a bit of change to WNYC and WBAI (which is Pacifica, not NPR). And, who knows, someday you might hear me on the radio begging you to send us money so we can continue operating. I promise, I will not be as annoying or horrifying as Ira Glass.

Zira’s Heart, Shannon’s Life Force, and Tempest’s Back

Zira's Heart, Shannon's Life Force, and Tempest's Back

Several bits of fictiony news for you! First, I’m experimenting with self-publishing short stories as eBooks just to see what the process is like and to feel out interest in this arena. I have no plans to completely abandon sending my stories out to magazines and such. But there are a few stories that I love and still believe are good, but I’ve run out of markets for them. One such is Zira’s Heart, which is a bit too long for most markets. So, I decided to submit it to Smashwords and get it listed in most major eBook stores to see how that goes.

Shorts never receive the same kind of attention that books get in these situations, but I still think it could be interesting (and fun). I uploaded it last night and it’s already in the Smashwords catalog. Now I’m waiting to see if they’ll accept it for distribution to Amazon, B&N, iBooks and the like. I put the cover and link up on the sidebar of my site and I’m tracking how many clicks it gets. I’ll report as time goes on.

In other news, I don’t know why but I keep forgetting to blog about my first Escape Pod story! Elan Vital, which first appeared in Sybil’s Garage no 6, was podcasted in Escape Pod and read by Mur Lafferty. I’m completely excited to have cracked that market and really glad Mur is the editor now, as I enjoy her other podcasts quite a bit.

I did not intend to actually listen to the piece since I always get emotional even looking at that story. But as several people had praised Mur’s reading of it, I decided to listen to just a little. I ended up listening to the entire thing (crying almost the whole time, arg). Mur is fantastic, as others have said. She strikes the perfect notes all the way through. I’m so lucky! All of my Escape Artists stories have been read by such excellent and talented people[1].

The discussion about my story is filled with people saying they really loved it (squee!) and some who bounced off hard. I am amused, however, by the person who said early on that the story “isn’t science fiction“. Also amused by the person who pointed out that, whatever happens in the future, he is sure companies will always find ways to charge us subscription fees. Too right.

Over at the Biology in Science Fiction blog, the poster asks “What would you be willing to give to keep someone you love alive?” which is more the center of my story than the actual science. I do enjoy some hard SF now and then. But I’m int he camp of people who think that the science or technology in SF is meant to serve the characters and the plot and the idea, not the other way around. Too much Star Trek as a child?

And finally, this weekend I went to Macy’s in my quest to find a new mattress (as described here) on the advice of those who said they had great deals. Those people? Have a weird idea of what constitutes a great deal. Nothing below $1,000 in the quality I need, and salespeople who didn’t even want to admit that they might be able to sell me a mattress without a box spring. They looked horrified that I should want such a thing. My old box spring is clearly inferior to anything they have. Cue eyeroll.

PayPal being under attack by Anonymous affected a couple of family members from donating to my mattress fund last week, but I think that’s over now. Yay? I haven’t even looked at the account yet since a bunch of people sent me a note saying they wouldn’t be able to send money until next week or so, which is fine. I’m going to ask my new roommate to help me flip my current mattress tonight and try to sleep on the less fucked up side so that my back will stop screaming at me in the night.

Here’s what I don’t get: how did we, as humans, survive all this time without natural latex memory foam individually-wrapped coil mattresses? I mean, this is crazy. There must be a solution for sleeping that is not bad for your back and also comfortable. Also one that does not cost $600+. Fie.

Footnotes

  1. Yeah, that’s right, Amal. I am talkin’ about you. Whatcha gunna do about it, huh?[]

My Back Is Crying

My Back Is Crying

As I mentioned previously, I am in need of a mattress. Not having found any other viable option for collecting money from folks who want to contribute to buying it for me, I’ll have to go with PayPal and just deal with the fees. Since I have a business account, they are unavoidable. *mutter* Hopefully whatever people can give, it’ll cover what PayPal takes.

I spent this weekend visiting mattress showrooms in an attempt to find something that didn’t cost too much that was also comfortable all while trying to avoid used car salesman tactics. I still have one place to visit later this week, but it looks like the mattress I’m going to buy is this one from Keetsa, even though it is over $650. The less expensive one is nice, but too squishy for me. And considering my back problems, I need the firmness most of all.

My back is very upset with me right now because I spent the whole day showing it what things could be like at night, and now I have returned to my horrible, sagging mattress of doom. My hope is to buy something just after Christmas, if the money is available. Though Keetsa doesn’t appear to have sales ever. Bummer.

Anyway, I set up a donation button on my blog so my family can easily find it. I’ve let everyone know that I don’t want anything for Christmas except funds toward the mattress. I don’t know whether they will be able to give me enough to cover the cost, but every bit helps. Everyone’s belt is tight, I know. At this point, I am considering selling stuff just to make this happen, before my spine decides to disintegrate.

My World Famous Risotto Recipe

My World Famous Risotto Recipe

I’m contributing risotto to Thanksgiving dinner, and I could not find my piece of paper with the recipe on it! Good thing I posted it online a couple of years ago. Here’s a repost of that post with not only the recipe but how I came to make the best risotto in the entire world.

People often ask me about this recipe because my risotto is FUCKING AMAZING. I keep telling them that the whole thing was a work in progress and the ability to make it exactly like mine depends on several factors, including location. But still, I am not one for keeping amazing food a secret.

First thing I will say is that anyone who doesn’t know jack about risotto should first find the Good Eats episode wherein Alton Brown explains how to make it. It’s called Do The Rice Thing. You don’t need to watch it so much for the recipe, but for his explanation of technique. I try to explain technique and people look at me funny.

The basic recipe comes from Alton, of course, and you can find it here. I do not put in asparagus and random wild mushrooms. I do not use dry white wine. I do not use onion, lemon zest, or nutmeg. I do use the rice, tho!

Here is my recipe, modified from Alton’s:

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, stock or Pot Liquor
1 cup Barbadillo Oloroso Sherry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter/duck or bacon fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Arborio rice
1-2 cups mushrooms or anything you’d like to try
1 cup meat of some kind
2 ounces grated Pecorino Toscano Fresco

In an electric kettle or medium saucepan with a lid, combine broth and sherry and heat just to simmering. Keep warm. In a large 3 to 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter/fat. Add the rice and stir. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the grains are translucent around the edges. Be careful not to allow the grains or the onions to brown.

Reduce the heat to low. Add enough of the sherry and broth just to cover the top of the rice. Stir or move the pan often, until the liquid is completely absorbed into rice. Once absorbed, add another amount of liquid just to cover the rice and continue stirring or moving as before. I usually have to pour in about 4 – 5 times. It should take approximately 35 to 40 minutes for all of the liquid to be absorbed.

After the last addition of liquid has been mostly absorbed, add the mushrooms and whatever else and stir until risotto is creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Taste and then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Interested in the long journey between Alton’s recipe and mine? [Read more...]

5 Reasons To Support The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship

5 Reasons To Support The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship

There are just two days left in the fundraiser for the Octavia E. Butler scholarship. Over on the Carl Brandon blog I provided folks with 5 excellent reasons to support the scholarship either by buying tickets to win an eReader or autographed book or buy donating directly (as Jeff Vandermeer just did). Here’s a taste:

3. from Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, 2009 Butler Scholar and Clarion West alum:

“I remember telling people about how receiving the Butler Scholarship made me feel like my dreams had been given wings. …[Without it], the chances of me attending Clarion West would have been close to zero.

To me, being given that scholarship was like receiving word that there were people who believed in me and in the stories that I had to tell. There were people who believed that what I had to say was something worth saying and something worth listening to. This knowledge inspires me even now that I am far away from all the beloved people who inspired me and who continue to inspire me. Each time I sit down to write, I think of the people who support the Butler scholarship and there aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for you. You may not be aware of it, but in my darkest moments, the knowledge that you believed in me has kept me here.”

5. from Jeff Vandermeer, author and Clarion instructor:

“The Clarion workshop is important for reasons that go beyond the value of in-depth workshopping from six different experienced instructors and talks by other guests that provide talented beginners with the tools to improve their writing.

It is also important career-wise because many of the instructors can be of use in shortening the path to publication through sharing of contacts, resources, and leverage. Many instructors also aren’t just writers but editors, which is also of use. In addition, the connect to and comraderie with fellow students will, over time, mean more than being part of a community, since many Clarion students go on to have full-on writing careers.

Therefore, in short Clarion is partially about access, and lack of access for talented writers due to monetary concerns is something that diminishes the field and makes it even harder for talent to win out.”

Click here for all 5 reasons. Or just click here to buy tickets.

How Much Does It Cost To Go To Clarion?

How Much Does It Cost To Go To Clarion?

We are in the final days of the Butler Scholarship fundraising prize drawing! We have raised a lot of money! We need to raise more! Why? Well…

In order to go to Clarion in San Diego, a student must come up with $4,957. In order to go to Clarion West in Seattle, a student must come up with $3,200.

Every year the scholarship pays for one student to go to each. Thus, many thousands of dollars are needed. Thus, this fundraiser.

There was no specific goal in mind when we started this project. I wanted to raise at least $1,000, which is a little over what I raised for the scholarship last year. Now my goal is to raise enough to cover tuition for one student. It would be awesome to be able to cover the Clarion West tuition. But how much more awesome if we could raise enough to cover the Clarion Diego tuition? It’s possible.

If you’ve already bought tickets, thanks! Would you mind spreading the word far and wide? If you haven’t already bought a ticket, please do! Or, if you just want to donate, you can do that as well.

It costs a lot to go to Clarion. In this way, you can help offset that financial burden and support a new writer.