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Well! (That's a deep subject, as my father is wont to say.)

I've had one day of class so far, just lecture. I don't actually start teaching my seminar sections until week after next. It's very weird to be teaching and yet subject to someone else's pedagogic decisions, but I think I'm adapting okay. The seminars for one of the courses will consist primarily of watching and marking seminar presentations - not much time left for discussion of anything. The other two courses will be considerably more participatory, and I'm starting to gather up "active learning" techniques to use so that not every single class will be just yak, yak, yak. I'm also in the process of working out a spreadsheet to use in keeping track of their participation in class, which is 30% of the grade in one of the courses. And then I'm gathering up "icebreaker" activity ideas, ways for the students to introduce themselves to each other. All this will be considerably less work next year, because I'll have done all this stuff already, but it's a fair bit of work to get all my ducks in a row at this point.

The annual TA training was yesterday, and it was quite good for as far as it went, but I pity the kids who are being thrown into teaching for the first time with that as their only training. However, there is an ongoing series of training workshops, one pretty much every Saturday morning, which they can do as well. I plan on doing a bunch of those, because if you do enough of them, you get to attend the faculty trainings, which I would like the option to do. And I actually tend to like these training thingies. There's no such thing as too much information, as far as I'm concerned. Even when they're boring, there's usually at least one or two little tidbits or exercises you pick up. I doubt I'll attend as many next semester, but I'll be spending most of my Saturday mornings at the Uni for the next couple of months.

The Cartier project has been only creeping along as I'm focusing on the teaching stuff right now, but I anticipate getting into that in earnest in the middle of the week.

Blackheart Fleet languishes, waiting for me to finish with Cartier. I have been thinking about it, though, off and on. I choreographed an Okari dance in my head the other day. Step for step. Yes, I am a total freak, thanks for asking. However, I know many of you have done weirder things in the name of writing, so I'm not the lone ranger on that one. (No, the dance doesn't look like the Macarena.) (It's got a lot of hula-esque figure-eight hip movement, some hopping, and some other specific step sequences, but paired off, standing generally about as close as you would for a formal waltz, with some occasional forays closer into personal space when there is sexy hula-ing back-to-front. Just in case you were wondering. And I'd bet that Heather was.)

And that's about it. I've been very busy but it's all stuff that distills down to nearly nothing in print. Today's tasks are: grocery shopping, purchase of a sling-type backpack, purchase of watches/watch batteries for both himself and myself, cooking dinner, maybe watching Casanova tonight. Casanova is a BBC period tv series starring David Tennant, best known currently as the Tenth Doctor, and written by Russell T. Davies, best known currently for being a genius, creator of UK Queer as Folk, and revivor of Doctor Who. Because it's supposed to be my day off, dammit.
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If they made SPF 5 Billion, I would buy it. And let me offer a pre-emptive shut the fuck up to the smartass in the back there who's saying, "They do, it's called shade. Or clothing." Seriously, if I could fix it so my skin would never absorb another UV ray, I would. Vitamin D, blah, blah, blah, whatever. I'm all about the skin protection, baby, but it's been too hot for long sleeves lately, so I've been using sunscreen on my arms and neck. (I always wear sunscreen on my face, via my moisturizer.) Then my previously acceptable sunscreen suddenly made me break out into a rash, so I've switched to a different one, which happily has a higher SPF of 50, but is still far short of the SPF 5 Billion that I crave. No rash so far, though, which is of the good. And it has almost no scent at all, which I like. I hope I get to keep it.

Yes, my mutant power is evidently to break into a rash randomly at only the slightest provocation.

It's finally cooled off some and is pleasant in the house without the fans - just in time for me to have to clean the house in preparation for Jeff's return and my friend Rachel's visit this weekend. Which is good because I was dreading trying to clean in the heat. It's going to warm up again on Saturday, but everything should be clean by then, and I'm hoping it won't be quite as hot. Bring cool clothes just in case, Rachel.

If you're not watching the New Dr. Who series, you lose at geekdom. I LOVE me some Daleks, ya'll. And this series. Produced and partially written by Russell T. Davies (the man behind the UK Queer as Folk - which I also love), it's everything true and good. I've not been this excited over something for a long time, since season 5 Buffy, at least. I'm not sure when it's going to air in the US, but it's available in the usual illegal places. Email me if you're in the States and want pointers.

The latest on the knee sitch )

I was thinking about Blackheart Fleet some today while sticking labels on files. I was wondering about languages, how some languages (like German) are very precise and therefore good for things like engineering but not as good for poetry (Rilke notwithstanding), and some languages (like French) are the opposite, and some languages (like English) are somewhere in between. I think Okari is more like French, with lots of double-meanings and ambiguities, and Standard is like more precise, like German. Which only works partially because Ari was founded by wealthy Pacific Rim folks, a great number of whom were engineers and scientists, but maybe since it's an invented language they were too busy to invent a lot of words and so had to make do with a more limited vocabulary. Or something. And I should really be talking about this under the Blackheart Fleet filter, so as not to bore the non-filter people, but I'm too lazy to make a separate entry.

Speaking of Blackheart Fleet and the filter, I've pretty much decided to follow the same procedure for SuMoWriMo (the two-month summer version of NaNoWriMo that [livejournal.com profile] hhw and I are going to do in July and August) that I did for NaNoWriMo, which is to post each day's work as I go under filter lock and then take it all down when I'm done. If you want in the Blackheart Fleet filter and you're not in already, drop me a comment.
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Check out what Sloane made me! Dudes, it's Captain Blackheart!



I'm sort of conflicted about what the Okari look like. I'm very certain that the Imperials look mixed-race Black, frequently with gray eyes. And that the Okari all have black hair and black eyes. But I'm not really sure about their ethnicity. This whole thing started with a dream (literally I had a sleeping dream, not a dream in the MLK sense of the word) where the personage who eventually became Winter Spicetrader was played by Ewan McGregor, only with black hair, black eyes and the trademark scar right through his left eye. (Though at first he was called Trace, short for Bladetrace, i.e. scar, which was also a reference to his famous mother, who at that point was still called Blade - and this is all neither here nor there.)

Obviously, McGregor is white. Very, very white. One doesn't get much whiter than Scottish. I'm sort of going on the idea that this is the far future and there's been a lot of mixing of the races everywhere except where colonies were very ethnically uniform and have been isolated for a long time (which is why the Okari all have a similar eye, hair, and skin color that is very obviously not Imperial). And I wanted the Imperials to be people of color because there are a lot of Imperials in the series and when they make the movie they'll have to hire a lot of actors of color. And I like the idea of people of color taking over the world, even if they don't end up being any more humane in their disposition of it than white folks have been. If the Okari are white, though, then it's sort of the Good White People and their Token Good Black Friends vs. the Bad Black People. Which isn't all that cool. So the obvious way of fixing this is to make the Okari more like mixed-race Asian, and then it becomes the Good Asian People and their Black Friends vs. the Bad Black People and there's no white people in it at all. Which is somewhat cooler. I rather like the idea of eradicating whiteness all together, or at least marginalizing it tremendously.

The only downside is that then I can't have Ewan McGregor as my Winter Spicetrader. But by the time I finish it, sell it, sell the movie rights and it gets to casting, he'll be too old anyway. Oh, well.

(N.B.: considerations of casting are all just idle bullshitting and not at all serious, except in the sense that it helps me imagine what the characters look like.)

I realize that it's sort of cheap of me to make my Imperials dark-skinned (darkish, they tend to range from a lovely milk-chocolate color to a more cafe-au-lait), in the sense that it's a way of dealing with race without dealing with race at all. I get to write non-white people without having to worry about whether I - as a white woman - am writing them adequately; by the time of the Empire, the idea of "black" as a racial identity is meaningless. (Personally, I think racial identity is already far more problematic than it is generally given credit for being, but that's just me.) There's Imperial culture and various Outer Realms cultures, and I get to make them up. I'm tired of writing white people all the time. It's bloody boring to have every body be white, just because I happen to be (translucently) white. But I'm way too skittish (at this point, anyway) to try to write people of color in my own culture(s)/time(s). So I make them some other "ethnicity" (whatever that would mean in this particular context - they don't look "white", in other words) and I escape the critical racial smackdown that states that I can't "authentically" write the non-white experience. (Though I don't worry about being criticized for writing male characters at all and would tell anyone who said I couldn't write men to fuck off - perhaps demonstrating that I'm a lot more comfortable with issues of gender than I am issues of race.)

In theory, I escape the smackdown, any way. Perhaps there are some critics out there right now ready to deliver said. In which case, fire away. If I'm wrong-headed about this, better I should hear about it now. The depth of my critical sophistication about this issue is basically, "But dude, so many white people is BORING and wouldn't it be cool if there were a science fiction movie with no white people in it at all?"

On the other hand, in my defense, Le Guin did it first.

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June 2008

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