[sticky entry] Sticky: About

Feb. 28th, 2011 05:29 pm
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About Me
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Flight Rising, aka that dragon game I keep talking about, is opening registration for April 14!

I haven't been playing it as much lately, but I am having fun collecting assorted pretty dragons and scavenging and opening treasure chests. I'm Oyceter there as well, and this is my lair (id: 35180).

Also, a few of us show off our dragons and complain about site downtime (it's getting better!) at [community profile] flight_rising.

I found tips and tricks for beginners, tips and tricks for beginners 2, and an unofficial FAQ really helpful.

Lemme know if you have questions! Also if anyone joins, I have some dragons if you want ^_^.
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Initial random thoughts! (With spoilers for the comics arcs as well.)

Spoilers )
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Philip and Elizabeth Jennings look like your normal suburban couple, complete with two kids and a sedan, but they're actually Russian spies. Things get complicated when a counterintelligence FBI agent moves in across the street, especially since Cold War tensions are only getting worse.

So I love spy stuff, but there's a serious dearth of awesome female spies who don't play second fiddle to their male counterparts. I was hoping this series would be an exception, since Keri Russell is billed as the lead, but so far, it doesn't look very promising. I love her character, who is ruthless, incredibly devoted to her mission, and pretty badass, but the narrative keeps undercutting her and giving more weight to her husband and to Agent Beeman. Boo.

It does have less gratuitous female nudity than Game of Thrones (I realize this is a low bar), but we're introduced to Elizabeth when she's seducing someone for spy purposes, and she's repeatedly put in more sexualized situations than her husband is.

On the plus side, there are multiple female characters, and I'm pretty sure the show passes the Bechdel test in each episode.

Spoilers (TW for rape and dubiously consensual situations) )

So. I do like the spy stuff and all the 1980s stuff, but the gender and nationality stuff is too off-putting for me right now. Anyone knows if it gets better in this regard?
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Spoilers )

And now I shall look forward to the exhibition programs.

PSA

Feb. 21st, 2014 10:49 am
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Hey people who have been reading my Anuja Chauhan posts, there is a boxed set available on Con or Bust!
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Haven't watched the free skate yet! Please do not spoil me!

Women's short program )
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Many things are happening for the Thakurs of Hailey Road: Justice LN Thakur's brother is having troubles with his wife, said wife has moved in with Justice Thakur and family, three of the five Thakur daughters may or may not be having romantic problems, and the Justice isn't on speaking terms with the third daughter and close to doing to the same with daughter #2.

The main plot of the book mostly focuses on Debjani (the fourth oldest daughter), who has just begun as an anchor at DD, the primary news channel in India at the time. This puts her in conflict with her father's card buddy's son Dylan Shekhawat, an investigative journalist trying to implicate high-up politicians for their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and rather looks down on Debjani for spouting government propaganda.

This is my favorite out of all of Anuja Chauhan's books and feels very much like what I've been waiting for. I love that this is in third person POV, compared to the first person of her past two books; I felt I got a much better sense of Debjani's community and the various family dynamics (in two families! that was nice). I did like the romance a lot, especially Dylan, but like her other books, I also really like the non-romance relationships. And my favorite bits were actually the investigative journalism. Another plus was that the Debjani/Dylan relationship got much further before undergoing the usual relationship crisis: families met! And the crisis was in part based on a big misunderstanding, but at least with more of a twist than the usual.

Spoilers )

Other random bits: I REALLY want to know about sister #3. I was kind of confused about Eshwari's maybe romance; at times I thought Chauhan was telegraphing that no, you don't always have to return someone's crush on you, but I wasn't completely sure that was what the book ended on. Also saw that there is a sequel about Dabbu's nephew (by marriage) and niece, which I really want to read. I'm also not talking about various little moments, like Dylan's parents' romantic anniversary or Debjani always being overshadowed by her oldest sister or how the rocky bits of Debjani and Dylan's relationship really affects their families, especially their fathers.

And I very much liked the look at 1980s India, the sense of things changing and bringing with it more access to foreign goods, the changing role of the press and the gradual loss of government control over said press. It feels very real, how the characters all react to some of that without the book just being about social change, which is something that many authors have a difficult time balancing... either it feels like the characters are a bit out of place in the supposed historical setting, or that there is too much "look how much I researched xyz!" Also, some of it is a bit nostalgic for me, particularly things like finding local versions of foreign imported junk food in corner stores or trying to emulate clothes. I don't really remember a lot of the details of political change going on in Taiwan because I was a kid at the time, but a lot of the KMT stronghold on Taiwan was lessening right around me being in high school. And ditto the flood of imported goods and whatnot.

Anyway! I very much enjoyed the Anuja Chauhan book club, and thanks to [personal profile] deepad for organizing the entire thing. And I hope I can get my hands on an ebook, or a US publisher decides to bring her over here or something, because I really want to see grown-up Thakur kids.

(Also, apparently Chauhan wrote a short story prequel to Zoya Factor for Valentine's Day!)
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Well, after watching a lot of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski commentating on the official NBC broadcast, I kind of miss the lower-key commentators on the online streaming site. (Johnny Weir, can you please stop talking about the ice dancers as peacocks?!) Though I will have to find pics of what Johnny Weir was wearing every night!

Also, based on Yuzuru Hanyu's outfit and one of the ice dancers' outfits (the woman from Azerbaijan?), I have decided multicolored, large sparkly jewels on an outfit always look bad.

Men's free )

Ice dance )
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OMG with the new team event, watching all the figure skating is like a sport in and of itself! I have not yet seen the men's free skate or the results: SPOIL ME AND DIE!

(CB just got spoiled by a well-meaning friend, and I have only barely avoided them everywhere! And this is when I'm trying to Google ice dance programs from five years ago!)

(apologies for all name misspellings; I am not risking Googling it right now)

Team skate )

Pairs )

Men's short )

For women's skating, I am wondering how Kim Yuna will do, since it sounds like she hasn't really been in the competition circle for a while, and I hope Mao Asada does well. I think the last I really watched her was when she was retooling all of her jumps, and it was so painful to see. Also happy to see Akiko Suzuki on the team. Aaand aside from that, I really don't know much re: what's going on.

It's so weird: I feel all the skaters I used to watch when I first started getting into figure skating are now retiring (or have retired), and I can't quite believe the new judging system is ten years old!
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Happy Year of the Horse!!! Have some singing minions:

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Sorry people with the last few questions for this meme! I have not forgotten you! I have just left the questions till last because I haven't been able to think of stuff.

So, [personal profile] vass asked about books.

This is more a problem of having too much rather than not being able to think of stuff. It's also difficult because I feel like I stopped reading books during grad school and never quite picked it up again, and given how large a role books play in my life, it feels like a quiet betrayal of sorts. I think I stopped tracking everything I read in my database around four years ago, and I stopped writing everything up (or a fairly large percentage) around then as well. In some ways, I miss it, because I love talking about books, especially with people here. But in other ways, it was starting to feel like pressure, and I would catch myself not starting new things because I would then have to log them or write them up, which is not how I want to think about books. Ditto with feeling like I was not reading the "right" thing by defaulting to comfort stuff, which frequently corresponds with white authors for me, or not checking out things that are Very Serious and Weighty.

Some of it was lack of brain to hold so much long-form narrative, especially while in grad school and basically up through last year, which is when I found a meds combination that has been working much better. I still feel like I can't quite cope with that much story, though possibly that is just a kneejerk reflex by now, because I have been dipping into things more and keeping up with TV (okay, Sleepy Hollow, but that's better than the past few years!) as well.

Some is just less time than before; being in a relationship is so time-consuming! Ditto having more friends in the area! And these are good things, and I have been WAY more social than I used to be. And a pretty large part is getting into casual games and a faster payoff.

I don't know! I am conflicted because I do want to read more and talk about books more, but I also have eight billion other things I am trying to do more, and I'm trying to prioritize so my brain doesn't do the giant list of every life goal I have failed to progress on thing.

So I guess that's where I am with books right now.

(On a more physical note, I am now trying to do everything in ebook when possible, as I didn't end up moving any non-graphic-art books out of the condo. I love this! It is especially awesome because my little apartment doesn't have that much room to begin with.)
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What I've read: Finished Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls! It's by far my favorite of her books, and now I kind of wish there were a version of Battle for Bittora done in rotating 3rd person POV, because I would have LOVED to see Pushpa Pande's sections. Hopefully a longer review to follow soon!

Also finished Chi's Sweet Home volume 2, which is just as cute and full of cat as the first volume. Definitely comfort reading for me, and I laughed especially hard at Chi getting mad at people ignoring her, climbing up on the table, and sitting down on the postcard people were looking at instead of where their attention should rightfully be focused (Chi, obviously).

What I'm reading: I finally started reading comics on my tablet! I say "finally" because that was the original reason I wanted a tablet in the first place. Anyway, I'm in the middle of the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman run (I blame [personal profile] chaila) and generally enjoying it. There are WAY more women than I usually see in superhero comics, though I am super skeeved out by Doctor Psycho and all the rape stuff he jokes about. I mean, you are supposed to be skeeved out, but given that the art is still male-gaze-y, it feels like one of those having your cake and eating it too things.

Also, totally get the appeal of Diana. She reminds me of why I like Captain America, at least in the MCU, and I really like that mostly her idealism and desire to do good and be good are genuine and not made fun of. It's so hard to find depictions of nice and good people who are interesting and have depth; most writers seem to save that for the morally ambiguous characters. And I looooove that she just goes ahead and makes decisions and her staff has to flounder to figure stuff out in her wake, and while she might apologize, she never angsts about it or questions her choices.

The art is mostly okay, given the genre? I think? I've never followed superhero comics closely, so I am not sure. I do love that Diana so far has very consistently been drawn with really broad shoulders and narrow hips; it's a silhouette I don't see very often on women. Still a lot of the twisted torso poses to get T&A in, and I rolled my eyes when one villain stepped out with her face entirely in shadow... but her naked body was of course visible!

It's also always weird getting into a new superhero/team and figuring out who the standard villains and secondary characters are. Various wiki articles help, but because comics is so convoluted, I hit a point when my eyes just glaze over as the details of betrayal! new allegiances! resurrection! secret identity! world resetting! and whatnot go on and on and on.

This is also interesting because it's my first foray into the DCverse that isn't centered around Gotham and its ilk.

What I'm reading next: Probably a lot more Wonder Woman.
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For [personal profile] lovepeaceohana

AMVs! They were actually my first introduction to the fannish vidding tradition. The very first one I ever saw was an Utena vid to Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," and it took probably two full days to download and was the size of a postage stamp. Oh dial up...

In retrospect, the song choice was probably not quite right, and there was a lot of literalism, but hey, the literalism made it much easier to figure out what was going on! And I suspect the vidder picked the song based on "Illusion never changed / into something real."

I don't remember if I found more after that, but by my sophomore or junior year of college, I had started up an anime club, and some of the people there had entire tapes of AMVs from cons and the like. Also, thanks to college ethernet, I had begun downloading a ton of AMVs, most of which were based on Evangelion. I think there was a very big focus on lip syncing at the time, as well as a lot of technical effects. And a lot of audio from trailers of popular movies (a lot of Star Wars Episode II) with footage from various anime series. Because I came from AMVs, I was really confused by Western media vids when I first watched them, though nowadays I have probably seen much more of the latter than the former.

This is also reminding me that I wanted to catch up on AMVs prior to Wiscon, so maybe I will go off to do that!

Also, on a funny note, when CB and I were first emailing each other off OK Cupid, I mentioned vids, and he was kind of skeptical, because all he knew were the bazillion Dragonball Z vids on YouTube done to some specific dramatic song I don't quite remember right now. Then I showed him the Princess Tutu AMV as an example, and he was blown away by the fact that people timed things! To the music! And had narrative! (I have sicced a lot more on him since, bwahaha.)

(I know I always say this when I talk about AMVs, but more recs are always welcome!)
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[personal profile] troisroyaumes asked for "Places you would like to visit":

So many!

Places I've never been: I really want to go to the Philippines, especially with CB, and then we can have tasty mangoes (and probably die of heat + humidity) and go to the original sisig place! Oooo and turon. Ditto Thailand, especially after hearing stories from CB's brother's honeymoon there and the incredible food. And India, also for mangoes and for street food. And the Taj Mahal! I do want to visit places for reasons other than food, really! (Though to be honest, the food is a pretty big factor. Okay, what I really want to do is have some giant food tour of the world with people in my dwircle and everyone can introduce their favorite places and it would be AWESOME.) Oh, I really want to go to Spain at some point for the food, obviously, and also to see the Gaudi buildings.

Places I want to go back to: Definitely Tokyo, though right now I want to see Kyoto again because the one time I went was in high school. Also, I just want to veg out in an onsen hotel in Hokkaido in the winter and eat and go to the onsen and rinse and repeat. And I would really love to spend more time in Seoul, since I never did get to see the chicken art museum, and now I know people who will give me more restaurant recs. Also, I never got to eat hoddeok. Though tbh, what I really want to do is get jjajang delivery. Oh, and I want to go back to New Orleans for longer than a day, especially after [personal profile] rachelmanija's description, and I definitely want to go back to Paris.

... I am pretty sure there is a lot more.

Oh! And Disney World, hahaha.
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What I've read: Haven't done this for a while, so I actually have read things! I got CB the Pusheen the Cat book and volume 1 of Chi's Sweet Home for Christmas, so I read those and was suitably bowled over by the cute. Pusheen is great, but I really love Chi's Sweet Home, which is just so cat. Possibly people might get annoyed by Chi's baby talk, but given that she is a kitten, I am okay with this. Also, CAT!! (Also also, I love the fact that Konami Kanata's entire career is basically cat manga.)

I also read Allie Brosh's book, which I think I laughed at less than a lot of people? It's not that it isn't hilarious, because it is, it's just that after reading her depression posts, some of the ones on procrastination and self sabotage and etc. make me wince more than laugh in that painful, looking-in-the-mirror way. All the entries about her dogs totally crack me up, the entire thing is very worth reading (even if I do wish the one about her dead fish made it to the book), and I would have paid the same price just to get her two posts on depression in print. I'm also really impressed by how spot-on the expressions she draws are.

What I'm reading: I started Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls and have been enjoying the third-person narrative voices... I like the first-person narrators of her first two books as well, but they did sound a bit similar at certain points. Really looking forward to an expanded cast of characters, because I love Chauhan most for her various character dynamics, especially of people in small communities and large families, and read her more for that than the romance. I also started Jessica Snyder Sachs' Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death as my own brand of pick-me-up reading, and I should get back to it because it's gruesomely fascinating.

Random book-shaped space: This cover alone makes me want to read Max Gladstone. Also hoping that adding "reading" to my Dailies for HabitRPG helps me get back into it.

Next: Chi's Sweet Home, vol. 2!
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[personal profile] skygiants asked for "a couple of bulletproof fictional tropes."

This is only a small sample that I can think of right this second, otherwise this entry would go on forever!

Icy lethal women and the men who love them. This only works for me if the men don't get to outshine the women in terms of lethalness and general iciness, since I've read way too many things in which the supposedly kickass assassin woman's heart is softened by the guy, whose prowess remains unchallenged. Extra special points if the guy has been in love with her since forever. Irene/Gen, as you can imagine, hits this so much I can't even. Ditto Sherry Thomas' Not Quite a Husband, despite my many other problems with the book! I was so happy that Melina Marchetta's Lumatere series has two of these couples!

Descriptions of work. I really love it when I get an in-depth look at a profession or skill or hobby, from the politics in Battle for Bittora to various cooking shows and chef's memoirs. (I could, unsurprisingly, read about cooking stuff pretty much forever!) I especially like the unglamorous bits and the random little details that come from the author's knowledge about a certain specialty, as opposed to when sometimes it just seems too easy or too successful.

Resistance under occupation. I'm actually not sure what to call this one, but I am basically a sucker for stories where you have an oppressive evil regime and there are a few people fighting back, but there's a lot of desperation and suspicion and anyone can turn you in, but there's also intense camaraderie and quiet courage and resisting in the smallest of ways. Most of the YA dystopias right now don't really do it for me; think more Harry Potter stories set during the first rise of Voldemort or AU HP fic about Our Heroes if the Death Eaters had won. Also, 90% of 20th Century Boys fits here, but especially after the second time skip, as well as things like the Buffyverse Wishverse. I was really hoping to get this with the books after The Hunger Games, but alas, no such luck.

The Scarlet Pimpernel trope. I.e. person acts like a fop or a ditz and is underestimated by everyone while they are actually awesome spies or the like. I especially love the female versions of this, like Mina in Meredith Durant's Written on the Skin. Bonus points for lots of angst re: not being able to tell the person you love, or having said person gradually seeing through the facade because they are also that clever. Extra special bonus points if this involves a lot of descriptions of pretty clothes.
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For [personal profile] ranalore, who asked for "Fannish soundtracks, any aspect."

This is one of those fannish practices I don't have much experience with! I enjoy them when I do download them, but for some reason, the thought of downloading music and doing playlists sometimes is too much, so I often end up bookmarking things and forgetting about them. I always tell people I have pretty indiscriminate musical taste; I like stuff that picks up my mood, and I'm not very good at hearing lyrics unless I actively look them up. Or unless it's something I am practicing for karaoke. As such, I'm very impressed by people who can come up with entire soundtracks for their fic or a certain show or something! But yeah, I think because I don't have music on that often (at least for the past few years), I have a very difficult time thinking of songs that remind me of X character or Y show, and then even when I do have music on, it's usually background ambiance for me and I don't really notice it unless I pause and concentrate.
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I haven't forgotten the meme! Just got kind of busy the past few days. Also keeping the tag the same despite the change in months just so I can locate things more easily.

For [personal profile] rachelmanija, who asked about favorite foods in Taiwan.

This is very difficult! There are so many! To cheat, I will instead list categories and then talk about stuff in them.

Fruit. OMG I miss the fruit from Taiwan so much. Mangoes and lychees, obviously, but also the oranges, which are usually much sweeter than the ones here. I also miss wax apples (lian wu), which I don't think I've seen around Bay Area, as well as fresh dates (zhao zi). Actually, I just looked that up, and apparently they are called "Chinese dates" or "green jujubes"? I usually find dried dates and jujubes too sweet, but I love the fresh green ones, which are light and crunchy and somewhat honey flavored to me. The pineapple is usually a lot sweeter as well, yum. And of course I love how much fresh juice there is! There are a lot of places that will basically blend the fruit with a little water and maybe a little honey or fructose, so it tastes like the fruit... I like Jamba Juice every so often, but it annoys me so much that most of their things have sorbet in it, and that they are usually a blend of a ton of things.

Street food. So much good cheap food from street carts! I think my favorites are the little egg cakes, which are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy and moist on the inside (at least if the cart makes them right... sometimes they get too dry). They're bigger than the ones sold in Hong Kong, so there's more of the cake on the inside. I also love being able to get green onion pancakes in random places, as well as the green onion pancakes with egg (dan bing), especially when it's more of a roti texture (zhua bing). And of course there is the fried chicken, which comes in a giant slab or in pieces on a stick (I like this kind b/c I am too lazy to get all the meat off the bone on the giant slab), and how the fried chicken places will have other stuff that they sprinkle the flavoring over. My fav is the green beans. I also miss being able to get roast chestnuts on the street, as well as ling jiao and baked yams, and I forgot what it's called, but the candied fruit on a stick that is amazing. I feel like I am betraying the island when I say I am not the hugest fan of stinky tofu (I like it fine, I just don't really hunt it down) or the oyster pancake things (o ah mi jian), though I do like the noodles (o ah mi sua)! I am pretty sure I am missing a ton of other stuff I really love because there is just SO MUCH. I also miss the fact that it's actually pretty cheap there, as opposed to food trucks here, or stands at fairs.

Din Tai Fung. Okay, it seems kind of weird giving one restaurant its own category but it is the BEST PLACE EVER. I miss their Shanghainese soup dumplings, but also the little dessert ones with red bean paste and their chicken soup with noodles, and actually all their noodles, and the dumplings with finely chopped veggies and meat, and the really delicate fish dumplings. Everything is good! I still haven't found a place that does dumplings with skin quite so thin, and they basically do everything well, from the chewiness of the noodles to the thick richness of the red bean paste.

Bakeries. Taiwan isn't as big on chewy bread as the US is, but it is very big on random bakery concoctions. I just like wandering into random bakeries to see what they have. When I was a kid, I loved the cream-filled horns, and then there's pineapple bread, which does not actually contain pineapple and is only called so because of how it looks. I really love stuff like curry-filled naan and tuna fish and corn in a little roll, or ketchup and little sausages, and other little savory meal-like things you can get. I also loooooove the pastries in Taiwan, which are very influenced by the whole Japanese take on French pastries thing. I love the little cakes or mousses flavored with green tea or black sesame or mango, and I love the blend of the flavors, as well as how little and delicate they are. 15eme is still my favorite place, but I will go into pretty much any store to check out what they have, because all the places have such different cakes!

And I keep trying to come up with other categories and getting distracted. I went from noodles and beef noodle soup to ramen and the Japanese food in Taiwan, which is amazing, and then there is the seafood! A giant new modern fish market opened up a few years ago, and I have not gone, but by all reports, it is delicious. And then I went back to cold noodles with sesame sauce and cucumber and chicken and how the one from 7 Eleven is not that bad, and then I realized I had not even touched on convenience store food and random potato chip flavors and being able to get onigiri there.

Now I am very hungry and I am going to get some food...
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For [personal profile] jjhunter: repeated rituals (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, ?) you use to orient / root yourself

This entry should probably get much more consideration, but I am pretty tipsy right now and trying to knock these out on the assigned day! (That, and I am trying to beat a boss in HabitRPG and blogging is one of my dailies.)

I don't actually think I have that many rituals… I think I am not really organized enough. I do try to do the year's end meme that goes around every year because it is a nice reflection. And I used to try to do the year's best of media, but now that I am not blogging reviews that often or tracking reading, that is a bit difficult.

These days, I do try to take the day off on my birthday, since I spent a long time being annoyed all my friends were gone during my birthday (summer birthdays….). And when my sister is there, we do lots of cooking for various holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Chinese New Year.

Oh wait, the one ritual I do have is getting in at work, restarting my computer, and either getting coffee or breakfast or something so I don't just sit down and start work right away. I never quite thought of it as a ritual, but it definitely is something I have done at every workplace and helps me get started in the morning. Other than that I am not particularly good at traditions and the like, and I am not very organized, so sometimes feeling like I have to do something a certain way stresses me out more? I associate ritual and the like very much with family traditions and don't use them for myself, though that does sound like a thing that would be nice to start for myself.
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For [personal profile] glass_icarus, "most unexpectedly translatable skill/s you developed in fandom"

This isn't really an unexpectedly translatable skill, since I figured HTML and web page skills were going to be useful even back in the internet's infancy, but I am still surprised by just how much I have ended up using those skills. I learned super simple HTML in a high school class, but I really used it to develop various terrible fansites on Geocities. I learned how to touch type by typing up a catalog of SFF books various people in my school owned—not that many of us were SFF fans, and I had a dream of cataloging everything and putting up people's emails so you could just email someone to ask to borrow a book. (This is also how I learned that Tor ISBNs started with 0812 and Del Rey with 0345, or at least they did pre-ISBN-13.) Mostly I worked on my Gundam Wing fansite with my high school friend and ranted about web usability... in those days, site with a giant graphic, teeny weeny font, and creatively titled sections like "storm in feathers" or something for "guestbook." (Also, guestbooks. We had them, heh.)

I very much did not expect to get a job in web production, much less stay there, much less go into web usability as well. Not only that, but nearly all my tech skills were learned via fandom: women talking about vid codecs and building their own computers and coding fic challenge matching algorithms and rooting ereaders and changing journal layouts and posting how-tos and 101 guides made it so much more accessible. And a lot of those skills are ones I use in my job a lot (it's amazing how people think you are really proficient with tech when you know how to Google an error message and figure out what it means). I mean, I still hit up against Impostor Syndrome all the freaking time, but I probably wouldn't be in this field at all if it weren't for fandom.

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