Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 05:00 pm

That Was Too Much Change For Him

Posted by Not Always Right

Restaurant | Amsterdam, The Netherlands

(We sell cigarettes. The machine only takes coins.)

Guest: “Hi, I’d like to buy some cigarettes, please.”

Me: “Sure! Do you have enough change?”

Guest: “I only have this €10 bill.”

Me: “No problem. There’s a change machine right next to it.”

Guest: “I don’t know how that works.”

Me: “Uhm… Okay. It’s really easy. You put the bill in the top part, and coins fall out the bottom.”

Guest: “I’ve never done it before. Can you do it?”

Me: “I’m a little busy. It’s not hard. Just put the bill in the top, and coins fall out the bottom.”

(The guest walks away. I continue with my work thinking that this is the end of it. A minute goes by.)

Guest: “THE D*** MACHINE WON’T GIVE ANY CHANGE!”

Me: “Well, let’s take a look. Where’s your bill?”

Guest: *points to the bill, hopelessly lying on the top of the machine*

Me: “Ah, I see. You have to put this in the bill slot, right here, see?”

Guest: “HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?!”

The post That Was Too Much Change For Him appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.






Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 10:28 am

Seattle peeps—Anais Mitchell show

Hey, Seattle-type people, Anais Mitchell is coming to the Tractor Tavern on Sunday, May 14th (with Hip Hatchet). Anyone interested? *bounce*

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 01:20 pm

Ships that I Ship: Day 87: Csevet/Maia

Canon: The Goblin Emperor
Pairing: Csevet Aisava/Maia Drazhar
Canon Level: Friends, Emperor/Subordinate

Csevet and Maia make for such a sweet couple, for all that them being together would be fraught with secrecy due to their positions. Csevet is clearly devoted to Maia, and Maia cares deeply for Csevet. It's not hard to imagine that such warm feelings might develop into romantic love, especially given how much time they spend with each other and how closely they work together.

Suggested reading:
To Whom It May Concern by [archiveofourown.org profile] Lebateleur
Blow the Candle Out by [archiveofourown.org profile] Zdenka
Clockwork and Stars by [archiveofourown.org profile] shadow_lover

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 01:16 pm

Facebook Town Hall

Sorry for helping F*x get clicks but I think the original Wall Street Journal article, "Facebook Wants to Help You Be a Better Citizen," by Geoffrey A. Fowler, is paywalled.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/03/27/facebook-wants-to-help-be-better-citizen.html

Town Hall identifies the user's elected officials and sends reminders. Town Hall is a blue icon on the News Feed (for computer users) or with other Facebook tools on mobile. Facebook says the address you input to select officials won't be shared or used to target ads, but who knows?

You can use Town Hall for one-click Follows on Facebook of elected officials. If you post about a representative, you'll be prompted to phone, mail, or fax teh representative.


Posted by Gennie Gebhart

When Matt L. started to raise the alarm about educational technology in his school district, he knew it would ruffle some feathers.

As a system administrator (or sysadmin), Matt has had a front-row seat to the increasing use of technology in his rural, public school district. At first, the district only issued Chromebooks to students in guest “kiosk” mode for test-taking. Over time, though, each of the district’s 10,000 students got individual access to school-issued devices, from iPads for younger students who cannot yet type to Chromebooks and G-Suite for Education logins for students as young as third grade.

Matt and his sysadmin colleagues are at the center of deploying, configuring, and maintaining Google devices and software for the entire district. This gives Matt opportunities to identify privacy problems with ed tech implementation, and to propose solutions.

“All our eggs in one basket”

“I don’t want to say that Google or Chromebooks or any of this stuff is inherently bad,” Matt said. “Getting these tools into the hands of kids is hard to argue with. That’s why I got into technology.”

As the district has continued to expand its technology use, however, Matt has started to have concerns about consolidating students’ educational and personal information in one company. “We’re putting all our eggs in one basket that we’re not in control of,” he said. “We don’t know where this student data is going.”

On top of his privacy concerns, Matt observed students learning about only certain softwares without broader awareness of their technology choices. Having grown up experimenting with Linux and other open softwares, he was dismayed to see students being steered toward only Google services and away from other options.

“The beauty of technology is that it is so vast and deep, with so many choices. But we’re funnelling people into one situation, which is not our job,” he said. “We should be teaching concepts of computing, not specific software. We should be giving parents and kids a choice.”

Privacy by policy

After frustrating initial conversations with colleagues, it became clear to Matt that student privacy advocacy in his district could “get touchy pretty quick.” Even higher-up colleagues who might have been in a position to make district-level changes were hard to effectively approach.

“They like Chrome because it’s easy to use and they don’t have to worry much about the mechanics behind it,” he said. “So, I was constantly ridiculed when I brought up concerns about privacy.”

Colleagues also pointed out the cost-effectiveness of free Google services in response to Matt’s concerns. But Matt was not convinced.

“Nobody's asking why it's free," Matt said. “I thought it was common sense that, generally, if you're not paying for the app, you're the product.”

After repeated requests to talk more about student privacy issues, Matt’s boss and members of administration pointed him to the district’s as well as Google’s privacy policies. But this approach of ensuring “privacy by policy” did not lessen Matt’s concerns.

“We have privacy policies for our website, and for our student academic records, but not so much for students’ information in regards to what Google is collecting,” he said. “We can’t guarantee what Google is or is not doing with this information. It’s all pretty vague, and it’s not the kind of thing you want to be vague about.”

One of the biggest problems with such “privacy by policy” is that it relies on all staff members being up-to-date on complex, sometimes vague policies, and having the time and resources to comply with them consistently. Matt observed that many in his districtincluding his colleagues in system administrationsee student privacy as a long-term issue rather than an active, ongoing project.

“Stuff like student privacy gets back-burnered,” Matt said. “It’s hard to look down the road at long-term projects when teachers’ day-to-day is consuming all of our department’s time and energy.”

Privacy by practice

Unsatisfied by the “privacy by policy” that his district usually practices, Matt is investigating how he can implement “privacy by practice”that is, prioritizing student privacy with active safeguards to augment and ensure existing policy, like technical settings and opt-out options.

His first step has been to “crank down the lid” on privacy settings so that students use Google products as anonymously as possible by default, without associating their online profiles with identifying information. Ideally, technical controls like these will make it harder for teachers or third-party companies to collect student data, making privacy the default in students’ and teachers’ work.

He is also advocating for an opt-out policy. EFF helped Matt locate relevant examples of opt-out policies from other school districts to get conversations started. However, this advocacy process has brought up more questions than answers. Coworkers were concerned that giving students the option to opt out of Chromebooks and/or Google services will create more work for teachers and administrators, and it has been hard to build consensus around what classroom alternatives would be available when students choose to opt out.

Continuing to advocate

Matt’s conversations with colleagues have moved forward in fits and starts, and are constantly changing as the district’s technology situation changes. For example, a system-wide update gave Matt an opportunity to propose concurrent changes in ed tech implementation. But, soon after, discussions about abandoning local storage and migrating completely to Google Drive ran counter to Matt’s efforts to locally control student data and ensure their privacy.

In the meantime, Matt is thinking about stepping up student digital literacy education with more student-staff interactions on the topic. He has also brought up his concerns at professional conferences to learn from sysadmin in different schools and districts. Matt remains persistent and committed to advocating for more secure, more private student systems.

“It’s a really hard problem, but we need to come up with an answer,” Matt said.


Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 03:53 am

Culture Consumed Tuesday

[being for the past fortnight. I'm posting now before it gets any more behind]

Books

Finished Too Flash. Interesting, and not what I thought it was going to be like. The structure of the book felt like it was searching for its own heart, its own subject, in the same way that the protagonist, Zo, was searching for hers. Both book and character got there in the end. It reminded me of Jenny Pausacker's Central High books in some ways, but more up to date and much less white. I want to read more by Lucashenko. Tiny disappointment: I thought Zo was gay or bi (there was a line earlier on that sounded like it confirmed this, plus she and Missy had some UST going on) but that never got followed up.

Back to wrestling with Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It got better, and then it got worse again.

"Usually this leadership group is made up of men..." [here I stopped reading and said aloud "Well, there's your problem right there"] "...of men who in one way or another have belonged to the social strata of the dominators. At a certain point, in their existential experience, under certain historical conditions, these men renounce the class to which they belong and join the oppressed, in an act of true solidarity (or so one would hope)." Isn't it nice when the picture you draw of What This Revolution Needs comes out looking exactly like you?

So, comrade Freire, why can't the oppressed class be the revolutionary leaders? "It is extremely unlikely that these self-mistrustful, downtrodden, hopeless people will seek their own liberation -- an act of rebellion which they may view as a disobedient violation of the will of God, as an unwarranted confrontation with destiny." Oh. I see.

You know how I wrote earlier about the inherent contradictions in writing a book about revolutionary education for oppressed illiterates written in jargon even most university graduates would have some difficulty with? There is no contradiction. He's THAT guy. The one who is here for you, everything he is doing here is for YOUR sake, he WANTS to help you realise your full potential, but you have to do it on his terms, and he's the one who decides when you've learned the necessary lessons.

Which will only come when you accept him as your new thought leader while simultaneously humouring his fantasy that because he "betrayed" his ruling class background to come help liberate you from their rule by becoming your new leader, that means he's just as working class as you.

He even writes about this particular danger of revolutionary leaders and how they should be careful NOT to fall into that trap.

19 more pages to go. There are some really great paragraphs here, and some fucking awful chapters. :(

[Disclaimer: my parents are an academic and a psychologist. QED, I am not working class myself. I'm on disability, but I have more safety net than most people on disability because of my family, and also the privilege of not having been poor growing up, and of having been taught/enabled to regard authority figures as my social equals. I think it's important for me to acknowledge this while I'm tearing strips out of someone else for his unchecked privilege, lest I sound even more like Seivarden Vendaai Discovers Class Discourse 101. While I have had my own run-ins with "that guy" described above, mine were on a different axis of privilege, disability not class.]

Started reading Kate Elliott's Black Wolves, the first of her books I've read. So far... it's not hard work, and that's a relief, that's why I picked up a blockbuster fantasy novel from the library, and I do like the setting, but I do feel like it's missing something. Some subtle flavour or other. Maybe it'll show up later in the book.

TV and Movies

Went to see Hidden Figures. SO good.

It's so important that this movie got made, and did well, that it'd be churlish to criticise it at all. But if I did have a criticism, it'd be that it bent over a bit too far in the Not ALL White People direction. Which was probably what they had to do, to get it past the gatekeepers. The business with the bathroom sign in particular was a white saviour fantasy on a level I can only express in hexadecimal, namely #FFFFFF. (And I didn't notice the swearword hashtag until looking again at what I just typed, but I stand by it.)

APART from that bullshit, just... well, it's actually amazing how little of that bullshit there was, and how much they pushed back at it. Like the part when Kirsten Dunst's character (successful white career woman who's possibly (the film didn't state either way) very supportive of her white female colleagues, but is pulling up that ladder behind them as fast as she can) meets Dorothy Vaughan in the bathroom and tries to be all "believe it or not, I have nothing against you," and gee, I suppose, but you sure are not even one fraction of one percent for her, are you? And Octavia Spencer, as Dorothy Vaughan, replies something like "I can believe that you might think that," which is as close to a "you keep telling yourself that, arsehole" as she could possibly have gotten under the circumstances.

Taraji P. Henson's performance as Katherine Johnson was the heart of the film, and she and Janelle Monáe's Mary Jackson were amazing, but the part I loved the most was actually Dorothy Vaughan's arc, about thinking forward to the need to retrain herself and her workers as programmers so they wouldn't be put out of work by the new computing machines. When she taught herself FORTRAN and taught all her workers too and insisted they be hired along with her.

And this wasn't presented as some sort of fluffy innate nurturing quality in her, some sort of facile 'Johnson's the smart one, Jackson's the sexy one, Vaughan's the motherly one.' Ugh. It could have been, but it wasn't. You could see that all three of the protagonists were brilliant (and nurturing, and romantic/sexual people.) Vaughan got a couple of scenes on her own with the IBM machine, troubleshooting it and using punchcards for the first time (identifying it as female -- you could see the logic there: all the human computers are women, so the digital computer must be female too; and she could have hated it or wanted to sabotage it, but she didn't, she saw its beauty immediately) and you could see that that was where she wanted to be, where her genius was. Her teaching and looking after her team (above and beyond the requirements of her job, I mean) was because it was the right thing to do. An act of solidarity, of justice.

Watched some more B99. It's interesting, because I do have an embarassment squick, but it's gotten less intense lately and I forgot it existed. The Thanksgiving episode reminded me. *cringe*

Games

More Stardew Valley, of course. My veggies took first prize at the fair. Suck it, Pierre! Emoji have a lot to answer for: every time I pull up an eggplant, I think of dicks. Disconcerting.

Podcasts

Finished the Archon Drom story arc of The Hidden Almanac, which was a lot of fun. I am staring down the barrel of a Hidden Almanac shortage, though. Gonna have to find something else soothing and safe to listen to right before bed. It might be time to catch up on my Jay and Miles X-Plain The X-Men listening. Which is not nearly as soothing, but is safe for whatever nebulous value of safe my backbrain assigns to such things.

Garden

Started my first compost bin. Beatrice and Dorian helped by supplying the bin's first contribution, the contents of their litter boxes. I am informed that this means I shouldn't use the resulting compost on my veggies, under penalty of toxoplasmosis, but it's fine for flowers. So I'll start some flowers, and it'll mean Beatrice and Dorian aren't contributing as much to landfill. Go them.

Bunnings are selling daffodil bulbs, and oh yeah, that's because it's March, and March is when the bulbs go on sale. I forgot, because it is STILL FUCKING SUMMER. I bought a value-bag of 14 and put them in the crisper drawer of the fridge, because like fuck is it time to plant them.

I also bought another marigold (how are marigolds still flowering?) and a couple of tiny cacti which I put in a planter on the windowsill in one room where the cats aren't allowed (the one with what Dorian likes to believe is a cat-sized swimming pool) and added little Pokemon figurines. There is already a plastic skull on that windowsill. I ROCK at interior decor.

Tomatoes are still growing even though it is nearly April. But global warming is just a myth, right? One of the Russian Black ones finally ripened enough for me to eat it, and it may have been the best tomato I ever tasted. I'm not usually given to hyperbole, and I want to hedge that "best" even further because I'm shit at ranking things best-worst and I can't remember all the tomatoes I've eaten, and Russian Black tomatoes are normally very good... but wow that was a good tomato. Easily the best one I've eaten this year.

Other

Playing with i3wm customisation. I've been using i3 for nearly a year now, but hadn't done more than the bare minimum to make it habitable (i.e. moved the bar up the top and deleted the alerts I didn't need so they wouldn't glare red at me) until now. I have now learned about the screen locker app, proper deployment of feh as a wallpaper app, and some very minor keybinding adjustments.

I also created a test user account and messed harder than that with the settings there (trying to learn the GNU stash app, and to import other people's dotfiles unaltered) with less success (unless you count the fact that I did so on a test account and didn't lock myself out of my own user account -- that's its own sort of success.)

Other customisations I want to do soon:

- the config line that looks in a wallpaper directory and randomly picks a different one for each workspace, each session (the Arch wiki is extremely helpful on what exact line to put in your config to do that. I love the Arch wiki.)

- the "open this application in this workspace on startup" thing. Which is complicated because I have seven different Firefox windows open, all full of tabs, and Opinions on which one should be in which workspace, but as far as i3 knows they're all just Firefox. And workspace 1 is terminals, of course, but last time I tried to use the i3 script that lets you save your layout, I fell into a maze of twisty Perl back-compatibility problems, all alike. But even if I just tell if to open one terminal in workspace 1, open all the Firefoxes in workspace 2, and open a text editor in workspace 9, that's a start, right?

- the one I would really love to do, but suspect is going to be more difficult and complicated than I'd like to think: terminal transparency, with a different background behind each terminal window. I have these motivational memes (an angry lion captioned 'Gladly Feast On Those Who Would Subdue You' and so on, and of course Heal Yourself, Skeletor, and Calmage Wolfatee and so on) that I'd like to be able to see dimly behind my terminals. I figure that because i3 does containers and each window is in its own container, it should be possible to run a different instance of feh in each new container in workspace 1, but I haven't tested it and this is way beyond my level of knowledge or experience.

- a pleasing and harmonious colour scheme for terminal text and the i3 bar (I'd like to use lemonbar, but haven't gotten lemonbar to work yet.)

Cats

Beatrice would like it noted for the record that she is still a ferocious predator. She would enter the little blue and yellow polyester feather-ball cat toy thing in evidence, but she doesn't want to let go of it just yet. She thinks it might still be alive.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 12:44 pm

Observation

An observation brought about from something that crossed my tumblr dash (but which I won't talk about on tumblr because ugh, posting opinions on tumblr =P). Now that I'm trying to pay attention to how my own brain works? Helpful tips and encouraging posts about how to manage your time and stop procrastinating just put my hackles up and make me hiss and snarl. Read more... )

In short, I probably need to just not even skim helpful things aimed at the general populace, and concentrate on things that work for me. Right now, it's chemical help and breaking my time into schedules that are ALL THE SAME, so that each day is the same and things become habit so I don't have to think about them so much or rely on my brain to spontaneously manage to do things on its own. And that's okay.


Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 10:16 am

Welcome to the Ballroom

welcometotheballroom1cover

Time to get your dance on!

The first chapter is available to read in its entirety for free on Kodansha's website, but here's a look at most of it here if you can't look at their reader.

Read More... )

Posted by Libby Anne

I live in a city. My daughter attends school with immigrants and the children of immigrants. When I last canvased for a political candidate, I went with the knowledge that many of those living here are recent immigrants, and that not every home held an eligible voter. I can scarcely go out in public without hearing other languages, or English spoken with accents. But this is how it has always been---we are not and never have been a nation formed by any one culture or demography.Click through to read more!

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 11:15 am

(no subject)

 The best part of living in the city is how many amazing things you can do really cheaply if you give it some time and some thought.  This weekend, I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra, with the Westminster Choir and the Philadelphia Boys Choir perform Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at the Kimmel Center.  I stood in line for rush tickets--a last minute ticket for $10 got me a seat dead center in the orchestra section that normally costs $90.  

Rush tickets are the best!  On the night of a performance, music lovers on a budget line up to purchase any unsold or returned tickets.  At 5:30, all the windows in the box office opens for rush.  The trick to rush tickets is to arrive early.  Verizon Hall at the Kimmel seats 2500 people, and there were just 60 unsold tickets available. I arrived at 5:00, half an hour early, and there was already a line.  So some nights you won't get in.  But many nights you will.

As for the War Requiem, it was fabulous.  Mostly I go to chamber music concerts--you can see chamber music pretty much every day of the week if you want, but I usually go once or twice a week.  I'd forgotten a bit how much I love REALLY BIG music!  And the War Requiem is really big.  The orchestra was huge--I counted 7 percussionists alone.  There were choirs and soloists and a harp and a bassoon front and center in dialogue with the soloists.  The big pipe organ was in play.  And yet, for all the moments of rising wall of sound that blew your socks off, there were quiet moments of reflection as well.  The choirs sang the mass, while the soloists sang the war poems of Wilfred Owen as a sort of commentary.  It was a performance not to be missed--well worth standing in line for!

On my way out I bumped into a couple of friends who were also there.  Looked for another friend, but there were thousands of people letting out at the same time, so I am surprised I saw anyone I knew.  A fun night, then a brisk walk home.  I have a lot coming up in April and May, but I hope to be able to do rush again soon.



Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 03:00 pm

Telling A Label Fable

Posted by Not Always Right

Retail | UK

(I am cashiering when a customer comes up to the colleague next to me. She has a barbecue set and is claiming that it is being sold for £19.99. It is actually priced at £89.99 according to the giant sticker, however the customer points to a small sticker on the side, which is reserved for clothing items only, and says so on the sticker itself. She doesn’t take no for an answer and asks for a manager. The manager weakly puts up a defense for not dropping the price, but I’m losing my patience with how dense the customer is being while carrying a smug grin. I kindly ask my customers to wait a moment.)

Customer: “BUT IT SAYS £19—”

Me: “Actually, that set is £89.99. I put that price on myself yesterday.”

Customer: “BUT THE STICKER—”

Me: “This one? It says ‘CLOTHING ONLY’ along the top. It has either has been incorrectly placed or someone else put it there to get a bargain.” *Customer blushes*

Customer: “But you have to honour it!”

Me: “No, we don’t. The sticker clearly does not belong on that item, and therefore we are not bound into sell it for that price. The whole reason for the labelled sticker is to protect against this happening. In fact, even if the sticker was the right one, but for the wrong price, we still reserve the right to refuse the sale if you don’t want to pay the actual price. So your choice is either pay £89.99, or get out.”

Customer: “YOU’RE LOSING A MASSIVE SALE!”

Me: “If we sold it to you at your price, we would lose £70 on a £90 sale. I can already see three customers in line with one, so I think they’re popular enough to be sold to people who are willing to pay what they’re worth.”

(The customer looks around, mouths “f*** you” and runs out of the store.)

Manager: “Well done! I was just going to lower the price.”

Next Customer: “And that’s why he’ll have your job someday. Loss prevention is a big deal when it comes to retail, and had it been me in charge you would have had to explain that loss. I might actually introduce a label system like that at my store. It’s genius!”

(I ended up getting written up for mouthing off to a customer and “losing the sale.” I didn’t really care as it was just a job until I went to university. I left shortly after a new general manager took over, and decided that the manager in the story wasn’t allowed to handle sales anymore, and she wasn’t allowed to be the only manager on duty because of it.)

The post Telling A Label Fable appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.



Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 05:03 pm

Watching Doctor Strange

So, this is my attempt at making at least one (fannish) entry to my journal before March runs out. Being back at work is more exhausting than I expected, and my evenings are usually spent doing nothing.

The past weekend I watched Doctor Strange. In a stunning twist on my usual behaviour, I managed to watch the movie less than half a year after it showed in the cinema. Go me! *g*

Short version: I liked it! )

I might need to look into getting an icon. And maybe search for some fic. *g*




Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 07:53 am

(no subject)

Happy birthday, [personal profile] shirebound! Enjoy your day. Sounds like you're getting a very special present later this week in the shape of your hand twin:-)



Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 02:01 pm

KALLAX rabbit house

Posted by Contributor

DIY rabbit house from IKEA KALLAX

I just got myself a bunny and when looking for bunny cages, I didn’t find anything interesting or a setup that would fit into my interior. So I had the idea of making one myself using the Ikea Kallax 4×1. Here is what I did.

House

  • IKEA – KALLAX 4×1
  • IKEA – LEDBERG Led light strip
  • Flat wooden plate – 147×42 (back) and 36×36 (sleeping space)
  • Timberwood 4x 36x4cm
  • Plastic floor cover

Frame

  • Timberwood 2x 147x4cm
  • Timberwood 5x 36x4cm
  • Wirefence 147x42cm
  • Hooks 6x

Other

  • Nails
  • Tape
  • Stapler
  • Wood glue

Step 1
Cut out 3 gates out of the middle planks & build the top part.

Cut out the gates

Step 2
Place a plastic foil or other sort of material on the bottom plank to make the floor. This is needed to make it waterproof.

Step 3
Follow the build instructions of the Ikea kallax.

Step 4
Saw the backplate. I left a space of 5cm in the 3 right boxes, so it has extra ventialtion and room for light. Nail or staple it on the back.

Step 5
Attach 4 small timber wood planks on the front between the walls using wood glue and 2 nails. This will be needed to keep in the rabbit hay.

Add trim to keep the hay in

Step 6
Duct tape the sides/corners and the gate cutout to seal off all possible gaps.

Step 7
Build the frame using 2 pieces of lumber for the top and bottom part and 5 to connect them aligned with the Kallax.

Step 8
Attach 1 square panel to close off one part of the frame. (To have a darkened sleeping area) I used glue.

Step 9
Cut and staple on the fence.

Step 10
Add 4 hooks in each front corner and 2 in the middle top and bottom. Let it stick out so the frame can rest on the bottom 3 and is closed with the top 3.

DIY rabbit house from IKEA KALLAX

Step 11
Attach the led light at the backplate near the cutout space so light can shine into the boxes.

Step 12
Buy a bunny, fill the box with food toys and hay and enjoy.

DIY rabbit house from IKEA KALLAX

That’s it.

~ by Bernd

The post KALLAX rabbit house appeared first on IKEA Hackers.


Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 01:30 pm

Review: Strays by Garrett Leigh

Posted by JayHJay

StraysRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Lenny had fun with his job as a dancer in a club, but when he started being stalked, he felt fear everywhere. He quit his job, left his home, and is now working in a restaurant for Cass, but the danger is still everywhere he turns. When being on the dining room floor is still too visible, Lenny starts to work with Nero in the kitchen, despite never having worked in a professional kitchen before. But it’s not only kitchen space they will be sharing as Lenny is also crashing on Nero’s couch.

All Nero knows is work. Well, work and the constant loneliness that encases him. His grumpy and closed off exterior hides all the pain that he’s carried around for years. But Lenny brings life and color into his dark world and Nero feels a protective instinct for him. Lenny becomes addicted to working in the kitchen as it keeps his mind off of what could be waiting for him outside and he soon becomes addicted to Nero as well.

Nero thinks he’s no good for anyone, especially not someone as special as Lenny. As the men fall in love, Nero doesn’t know how to let Lenny in and share his traumatic past. But Nero wants it all with Lenny, although one man could threaten to take it all away.

Garrett Leigh is an author I will always stop and take a look at with a new release. Strays is the follow up to Misfits where mysterious Nero was introduced. Mostly this book would work as a standalone, although knowing all of the connections between the characters was helpful to me.

Nero’s days are a cycle of the same. He works, he sleeps when he can, and then he does it all over again. He’s found a good place with Cass, Tom, and Jake in the restaurant group and although he works hard, he considers it a job, while the other men consider Nero family. Nero has lots of scars, both physical as well as emotional, and while no one knows his story, he’s not as good as hiding his pain as he thinks he is.

Lenny sees Nero right away. At first it’s just his appearance and his rough exterior, but then it’s the man himself. But Lenny is in quite a state as he’s been stalked and the police don’t have enough evidence to do anything. He’s so undone that he doesn’t leave the apartment that’s connected to the restaurant.

Leigh does a great job here on several fronts. At first, she excels at showing how fearful Lenny is and how gruff Nero can be. But as the guys get to know each other, the layers so slowly peel away and underneath are two scared men both just trying to hang on. The setting also really comes through, from the behind the scenes in the restaurants, to the authentic British slang the men speak that was entertaining to read as they both certainly tell it like it is.

So the stalker story line is one that I usually stay away from. While the storyline was a big part of what was going on with Lenny, the stalker himself stayed mostly in the background for a good portion of the book. While I was pleased that this didn’t take over the storyline, it was all sort of subdued. The same went for Nero’s back story, which didn’t quite pack the punch I was expecting due to the delivery.

What shone through was that Nero and Lenny have a sweetness together as Nero paints Lenny’s toes and gives him the initial push to get his career going and Lenny shows Nero he is someone worth loving. Nero and Lenny worked so well together and their happiness was hard won and well deserved.

Would he ever get used to the certainty in Lenny’s voice when he said shit like that? He hoped not, because all the rum in the world didn’t carry a buzz quite like the one that came with loving Lenny.

michelle signature

 


Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 08:34 am

Miscellany

We did see the Beauty and the Beast remake with the kids on opening weekend, and the general consensus is that it was great. The original holds a special place in my heart and just hearing the opening theme makes me tear up, so I am by no means unbiased, but I was also not in the mood for an exact reproduction. I needn't have worried, though - there were several story tweaks and a handful of new songs. My voice expert friends lamented EW's obvious lack of vocal training, but apart from a touch of autotune here and there (most audibly on the Beast's new song), I didn't notice anything that took me out of the moment. I do still lay awake at night wondering about Chip, though. (Either he has been a teacup for basically his entire life, or he hasn't aged. Either way: not OK, enchantress lady.)

On Friday, one of the local public libraries had their bimonthly game night, which my kids have embraced as an opportunity to try new board and card games that they've never played, but have usually heard about. (Connor is an especially avid watcher of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop videos). This time we were introduced to Exploding Kittens, which was silly and fun - I'll definitely be adding it to our collection in the future.

Last night was our first rehearsal with the conductor for the Verdi Requiem. I was expecting to see Carlos, our principal conductor, but instead we were introduced to his current backup, a shockingly young Asian woman. Although she was engaging and charming, she clearly lacked experience, and now I'm worried about Carlos. My first thought was that some sort of scheduling conflict must have come up, but then I started hearing rumors that he was facing some sort of major health challenge, which I sincerely hope is untrue. He's about my age, with very young children, and he's been in the position for less than two years.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 09:52 am

Crafty Tuesday The Fuzzy Brain edition

Having taken my morning medication so I can breath again through my nose without coughing up a lung, I find that my head is not as clear as I would like thus Fuzzy Brain like my head is full of cotton wool.

Last week was an interesting exercise in remembering how to do something correctly and convincing other people that I knew what I was doing. Everyone had a different way of doing sound. I was building it to my strengths and so we didn’t blow the audience out of their seats and they could hear the kids which apparently didn’t work for some people who might have hearing limitations so it was a bit of push me pull you until we got something that worked for everyone.

After finishing the show my body decided that the flu was next on my agenda. The past two days have been about surviving that.

Today I have to sort out my time between now and LunaCon. Since I haven’t shown there in a while, I do have sets of puppets that I can use. I might want to make one or two new things that will also go for DragonCon as well.

I have a clever idea for DragonCon this year but we’ll see.

Right now I just need to get my brain back into gear and out of the fuzzy zone.

I am grateful for each minute I am not coughing up a lung.


Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 09:42 am

Any Exercise Will Do

I managed to go to the gym three times last week, even though one day was just 15 minutes on the elliptical. That counted because I did intervals that day. The other days were pushups and squats.

I hope to do the same this week. I'm doing different stuff, and trying to vary it so I won't feel like I'm in such a rut.

Last night, I did 45 minutes on the elliptical, which I hadn't done in a really long time because weights wear me out. It felt good. My muscles got warm and sweating felt satisfying. I brought my Kindle with me, but mostly ended up just listening to music with my eyes closed.

I went to bed a little early because I seem to be having the early morning waking yet again. This morning I woke up around 4:30 from an anxiety dream about trying to pack up a hotel room by checkout time, except it was full of all this other stuff (including groceries, like jars of jam with jam smeared on the outside) and other people interfering with my packing up and making it more confusing. Then I saw it was already twenty minutes past checkout time. I woke up sweaty and anxious. Bleh.

I have choir rehearsal tonight, yay! I might do intervals again for gym tomorrow, or maybe more pushups. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 09:20 am

Hello tuesday

Things I currently am: FREEZING.
Things I am currently not: WARM.

And yet, the weather is supposed to be 70F today. I'm not sure I believe it. Either that, or they pre-emptively turned the air conditioners up to arctic blast at work already, and it is WAY too early in spring for that shit. My hands are ice cold. BRRRRR.

I finished an 18k fic (warcraft fandom) yesterday - I need to do edits before posting. Gdocs on the ipad and the computer use two different spell/punctuation checkers, which is odd. at least on my ipad it doesn't catch everything, so I have to do a second pass on the computer. And THEN I need to do a sweep for my own errors, because I think I changed the time frame several times in that way where "five days ago", "two weeks ago", and "over a week ago" are all supposed to refer to the SAME EVENT and I have therefore messed myself up and need to pick one and correct.

I will be posting one chapter at a time (there's 4 chapters and I'm already writing on the sequel as of this morning) with a day or two delay between chapters because of the aforementioned edits and also there is a surprise that goes with this fic (ART. Shocking revelation, it's ART.)

So yeah - y'all can look forward to that, if you care for a dose of some of my OCs and some fantasy rpg game based fic set in WoW at the start of the current expansion. Wheeee! (Now to finish the art. >_> I'm reduced to glacial speed in art production right now, I'm so out of practice. Working on it!)


Posted by Michael Wolff


The president’s view on the $85.4 billion merger has been quite un-Republican-like, and he wants to keep his campaign promise, which would mean intervening (and stifling CNN nemesis Jeff Zucker).

read more



Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 01:00 pm

The Mickey Mouse Clubbing

Posted by john (the hubby of Jen)

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Geneva W., Amy C., & Anony M., for the Mm, I see, k, EEK WHY?

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.



Posted by Justin

By Justin Gerard

In a recent post I was asked if I'd go into more detail about how I apply and saturate color when I work digitally. Today, I'll be giving a brief overview of this.

Please note that this post is geared toward people who are familiar with Photoshop, but still searching for how to best use it to colorize their illustrations. Photoshop Geniuses may find the following a little basic. (Digital ninjas, yetis, warriors, and Kevin Sorbos will find this utterly beneath them)




For the purposes of this post, I created the above monochrome watercolor to colorize. I usually work over full color watercolors, but this should help keep things a bit simpler. (Just know that you can use all these same principles when working over full color work!)


NOW, FIRST OF ALL:
Painting digitally over drawing or a monochrome painting has 2 major pitfalls to avoid:

#1 The Pernicious Photo-tint Look.  (Think: old colozied photographs) We don't want this.
#2 The Vile Plastic Over-painted Look. (Think: purple wolf baying the moon airbrushed onto the side of a mobile home) We don't want this either.

The first pitfall suffers from too much information from the original image, while the second suffers from not enough.  We want somewhere in between.  And thankfully, Photoshop has been built specifically for this. All we have to do is use the right combination of tools within it.

SO LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE BASICS:

Layer Modes 
To apply color in Photoshop I begin by making a new layer and then selecting a mode for it.  In the example below of Little Red "Gonna-Ruin-Your-Day" Riding Hood, I have applied a flat red color to a selected area of her cloak.  As I change the layer mode we see how the effect dramatically changes. 



As you can see, most of these when used alone, will leave our image looking photo-tinted. (Pitfall #1)

That is where a process of applying a combination of several different layer modes in sequence can be extremely helpful. Consider the following combinations:



Notice how the final effect in all of these offers a more natural looking saturation of colors. Here's why this works:

A surfaces true color is only revealed in the area between the direct light and the shadow. 

For this reason, we are only used to seeing "true" red in limited areas. When we see an object painted in a single shade of red, it looks wrong and somehow flattened.  This is because where the object receives direct light, the red will take on the color cast of that light, and where it is in shadow, it will take on the color cast of the environment's ambient light. Furthermore as objects recede from the viewer the color is further altered by atmospheric perspective.

Certain layer modes saturate more heavily than others. Some darken as they saturate, others lighten.

OKAY JUSTIN, THIS IS STUPID AND YOU'RE STUPID. WHY NOT JUST PAINT WITH NORMAL LAYERS?

Normal layers are great! If you are just getting started, you should work with just these until you feel you understand them.  They behave the most predictably and are extremely versatile if you are using brushes with low flow or opacity.
However, if you are adding digital layers over top of a traditionally painted image you will find that eventually you obliterate portions of your original, and the that the final effect is plastic and uneven. (Pitfall #2)  To truly take advantage of Photoshop's power, you need to use transparent layer modes.

Photoshop has a dizzying array of options for colorization. What is important is finding what works for you. There is no real right or wrong. It is just whatever you can use to get what's in your head onto the screen.

For me, the majority of my transparent layers are made up of Multiply, Color, Soft Light and Screen.  You can do essentially anything with just these four and end up with a solid image.





Multiply Layers tend to darken and add chroma in a very dull application. This is great for slowly building up colors and adding texture and tone to your image. It is very much like working with traditional watercolor. Great for building shadows and toning your image.

Screen layers are essentially the opposite of multiply, these also add color slowly, but they lighten instead of darken. I use these to add direct lighting over the dark layers below.  By picking a warm yellow color here I am able to slowly work up a nice natural looking lighting effect to my figure.

Soft Light Layers are bonkers. They have no master, and obey no man. The math that governs them is not fully known to science. What I do know is that when a bright color is used on a soft light layer, it will allow for a very bright saturation of color which does not affect the details beneath it.  For instance, I used a bright green color on a soft light layer to really pop the bright greens out from the rest of the image.

Color Dodge Layers scorch out highlights. They are extremely brutal and should be used VERY sparingly. Too much and you are lighting your birthday cake candles with a flamethrower. But when used sparingly, they can help to intensify your brightly lit areas as well as any glints of detail light. I use Color Dodge layers to sharpen highlight areas, add rimlights, and sharpen object profiles against their backgrounds. When alternated with multiply layers it will help push the value range of the image.

Color Layers. Not shown here because I use them so sparingly, but I do use basic color layers to push and pull color in limited areas. The Color layer mode is the classic means of photo-tinting, (and I need not badger you any further with warnings there). Just know that you shouldn't overuse them, but that in limited doses they are excellent.  For instance, killing chroma: If an area is too red, I can select a blue color and lightly apply it on a Color Layer and it will pull the red back into check.

Normal Layers. Finally, there is just no escaping at least some opaque work for me when I work like this. But now that we have already established our value range and our colors are fully laid out, we can add details and opaque work that blends rather seamlessly with the rest of our image.  I also use it very transparently and often set the layer opacity to less than 50%.  

This general sequence offers me solutions to the problems I generally face as I work through an image. Everyone's artistic temperament is a little different, so play around with the different modes in different sequences and see what works best for you.






I hope this was helpful! As always, I take post requests, so if there is something you'd like me to cover please let me know in the comments!



Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 08:33 am

Aftermath of a Civil War

Aftermath of a Civil War by shadowlancer_95 is a post-Civil War Avengers series that shows us different character interactions that occur after the movie ends. I thought the author did a good job of showing the emotional toll the events of the Civil War had on various characters. This is definitely Team Stark, so if you're a Cap fan, it might not be your cup of tea. I've been angry at Cap since the movie, so I found it very satisfying.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 08:30 am

(no subject)

UHS offered me two options: 2:15 which conflicts with Cordelia’s 2:30 PT appointment and 4:00 which is just barely possible if Scott actually gets off work on time. PT ends at 3:30, and it’s a ten to fifteen minute drive to UHS from the PT place at that time of day. I texted Scott, and he said he’s pretty sure he can get out of work on time. I worry because that hasn’t always been a reliable thing, but he’s more assertive about necessity for such things when it’s for me or Cordelia, so I’m giving it about a 90% chance. It’s about twenty miles for him to get back from work, so 3:30 is a likely arrival time if he leaves at 3:00.

Okay, I’m going to drink a lot of water and then lie down and listen to audiobooks for a while.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 07:56 am

(no subject)

The timing on this back thing is really pretty terrible. I’ve found three things that help at all: lying flat on my back, alcohol, and a heating pad applied to exactly the right place. All three of those remedies are very temporary, and all have drawbacks. The heating pad is unpleasant given my general state of being overheated (I’ve been applying cold packs to other parts of my body, and I’ve got the ceiling fan going). Alcohol also makes me feel overheated, like the temperature in here has gone up at least fifteen degrees. Lying flat means about all I can do is listen to audiobooks. I’ve got a lot of those on my laptop, but I want to do other things.

I suspect that sitting in the living room might be better for me than sitting or reclining in bed, but of all things, the access to electrical outlets is the deciding factor. I can only plug in the heating pad out there if I unplug something else, and the powerstrip is on the floor, so swapping plugs is agony even when I’m feeling my current best.

In a little bit, I’ll call UHS to see if they can get me in today. I need approximately an hour to get there by cab (most of that is wiggle room for the cab to arrive. The actual drive is under ten minutes), and I need to be home by 2:00, so timing is difficult. I kind of suspect that there won’t be much that anyone can do, medication wise, but there might be some stretches or something else PT-ish.

I’ve put myself on hiatus in Habitica until my back is better. I just can’t manage everything right now. I thought about simply deactivating the dailies that are currently physically impossible, but that would remove a lot of them.

Feedly updated again last night and still doesn’t work. I’m more than a little ticked about that given that I’ll be out of the house some today. Reading those blog posts fills some time.

I wrote about 2600 words last night, and about a third of that was my thing with a deadline. I still don’t have the character voice the way I want it, but whatever. Get the words down then edit and edit and edit.


Posted by JayHJay

Today I am so pleased to welcome Tal Bauer to Joyfully Jay. Tal has come to share an exclusive excerpt from his latest release, Enemy Within. Tal has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Tal big welcome!

Enemy Within Tour Banner

The (Demi)Sexuality of President Jack Spiers

Let’s talk about President Jack Spiers.

Jack Spiers, President of the United States in The Executive Office series, married his college sweetheart, Leslie Spiers, when he was a young adult. Leslie went on to earn a commission in the US Army, and then tragically died in combat, fifteen years prior to the start of Enemies of the State, book #1 of The Executive Office.

Following Leslie’s death, Jack had zero relationships. He was never romantically or physically interested in another, or in pursuing a relationship(s). He never fell for anyone, and he was never physical or sexually attracted to anyone, either. He considers himself a “celibate warrior-politician”, and has committed his life to politics in his wife’s memory. He was content living as a widower, single for the rest of his life… Or so he thought.

And then he met Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach of the United States Secret Service. Straight laced, intimidating, by-the-book Ethan Reichenbach, the head of his Secret Service detail at the White House. Openly gay, Ethan rose through the Secret Service ranks to command the presidential detail. He is committed to his professionalism, and to protecting the president, whoever that is. Presidents come and go – they’re just jobs, to Ethan.

Their friendship, however, starts like a hit of heroin. As Christina says, Jack Spiers is Ethan’s “gateway drug.” He bends the rules from the very first night – spending companionable time with Jack instead of keeping his distance – and their friendship only grows – despite every single one of the rules – from there.

But how did Jack – an otherwise straight man – fall for Ethan? How did he make the transition from who he thought he was (a heterosexual man) to a man that could (and did!) fall head over heels for another man?

Enemy Within TeaserI specifically wrote Jack Spiers to be Demisexual. He, throughout his whole life, falls in love with his heart and his soul before falling for any person physically or sexually. He doesn’t know this about himself, at first. In Enemies of the State, he had no idea his friendship with Ethan was building a bridge to his heart.

He understands more about himself in Enemy Within, though.

“Tell me how you and Ethan came to be lovers?”

Jack turned and stared at Sergey.

Sergey wouldn’t look back. His jaw clenched, and he gripped the steering wheel, one elbow propped on the windowsill with his hand on his forehead. “I only know what the media reported. And all of it contradicted each other. I do not know what actually happened.”

Slowly, Jack began to speak. He told Sergey about their friendship, about how Ethan was a breath of fresh air in a stilted world. How, even as the president of the United States, he’d become starved for human interaction and friendship. What Ethan had risked giving that to him, and how their friendship had grown, deepened, and become something more.

“Sound familiar?”

Sergey said nothing.

And then he told Sergey about the kiss. Ethan’s hopeful, aching heart wishing for the best, and Jack, shocked and shaken and reacting without thinking. How they’d fallen apart, and then had come back together, ironically, to stand against Sergey in Prague.

Finally, Sergey reacted. Frowning, he shook his head, as if trying to understand. “You… didn’t know this about yourself before Ethan?”

“No. I was never attracted to men before him. Generally, I’m still not.” He hesitated. “I do know myself enough to recognize that I fall for someone with my heart first. That’s how it was with him and me. I already had fallen for him, and then the desire started. Maybe if I had given it a chance before, the same thing would have happened with someone else. If I had been open to it.”

Writing demisexuality is an interesting experience. So many aspects of how the character views the world change. For instance, the male gaze.  The male gaze – gay or straight or bi – is highly attuned to physicality. Men – generally – notice physicality first and foremost. How hot is he? How scrumptious? How’s that ass? Oo, those shoulders. Those abs. Yes. Drool. In contrast to Jack, Ethan – who is openly, proudly gay – notices Jack’s physical appearance right away. Jack’s appearance is always a part of Ethan’s attraction to Jack. He thinks Jack is gorgeous, and he moves from sexual interest to lust to falling in love. Ethan’s gaze is the most familiar to most readers, I believe. It’s what readers see and feel when they read most romances. There are usually always the physical cues and clues to attraction when the two protagonists meet.

In this series, I did NOT set out to write a “GFY” story. I wanted to write a story about discovery and identity, acceptance and perseverance, and finding true love. A large part of that is Jack’s journey of discovery of who he is – a demisexual, bisexual man, who is absolutely capable of falling in love with a man, both emotionally and physically.

He starts to fall in love in Enemies of the State. Readers, along with Ethan, and Ethan’s coworkers, all watch how he relates to Ethan… and they think it’s somewhat strange. He wants to be with Ethan at all times. He seeks him out for companionship and friendship. He thinks of him in nearly all of his spare moments. The thought of Ethan brings a smile to his face. They text throughout the day at the White House. They trade jokes. He looks forward to seeing Ethan at the end of the day. As he thinks in Enemies of the State,

Jack pulled out his phone, opening up Ethan’s text messages. Was it selfish, asking Ethan to hang out with him? Ethan spent a lot of time at the White House as it was, between working and their clandestine friendship. Some days, the promise of seeing Ethan later was the goal he trudged forward for. And their texts always made him smile, even when nothing else did.

That’s what friends did for each other. What Ethan did for Jack, for sure.

He hoped he was half as good a friend to Ethan as Ethan was to him.

Did Ethan look forward to when they hung out? He swallowed, frowning as dark thoughts edged into his mind. Did Ethan see their time together as another one of his duties? Was this all… just a big show?

When Jack learns of Ethan’s attraction – Ethan’s love – for him, he’s flummoxed. He doesn’t know what to do, at first. But then, he starts to explore his heart.

Jack headed for his bed. He laid Ethan’s jacket on the mattress and never took his eyes off it, methodically stripping out of his own clothes and leaving them in a heap.

Naked and trembling, Jack slid into Ethan’s jacket. The sleeves were too long and the shoulders too broad, and he felt like a kid playing dress up, but Ethan’s scent—his scent!—surrounded Jack, burrowing down to his bones and into his blood.

He crawled into his bed, just in the jacket like some kind of fetishist, and lay back. He let his mind go, wandering over his memories of Ethan—from the bar earlier, from the night by the pool table, from every one of the times they’d stolen away together. He remembered his dreams, and dove into those as he closed his eyes and tipped his head back.

He couldn’t ignore what had happened. And he didn’t want to keep going like this, missing Ethan like a festering wound.

Was he actually, truly, thinking of…

Fifteen years was a very long time. Long enough to decide that he was going to be a widower for the rest of his life. He’d made his peace with that years ago.

But, Ethan had walked into his life—bold, brawny Ethan—and he wasn’t going to pretend that their friendship wasn’t already bordering on the edge of something he wasn’t ready to name just yet. He knew himself enough, at least, to know that he fell with his heart first. Had that happened here? And he didn’t even know?

Could he actually start a relationship? With Ethan? While he was the president?

The past hour had proven that he, in fact, could… at least physically.

But fifteen years of solitude and no small measure of fear held him back. Stilled him on the bed, and kept him frozen as he trembled, wrapped up in Ethan’s jacket. What should he do? What was the right choice? Where did he—they—go from here?

It was important to me that Jack, being demisexual, fell emotionally first and then followed that fall into love with developing a physical attraction to Ethan. In his POV of their building friendship, there isn’t a single hint of him being physically attracted to Ethan (emotional attraction, oh, hell yes!). The thought of being physically attracted to Ethan never crosses his mind. There are no wandering eyes, or gazing at him appreciatively, or zings in his belly. No sweaty palms or gazing at his lips. No imagining Ethan as he rubs one out. He’s totally in the heart there – falling for Ethan through their friendship first. When his eyes are opened by Ethan’s desire, and how Ethan has fallen for him, the possibility of more is planted in his brain.

Then, he starts down the path of “can I reciprocate this desire?”

Here is in his own words, describing falling physically for Ethan (excerpt of a Reader’s Press Corps Interview with Jack & Ethan): 

Nicole: Alright, Mr. President. You never thought about Ethan in a romantic way. Not until Ethan revealed his feelings to you. You’ve never been in a relationship with a man before. What do you think when you look at him? You love who he is, but is he hot, sexy, or beautiful to you? Is the physical attraction the same as it was for your wife, or with other women? 

Jack: He is all of those things. Beautiful, gorgeous, and so, so sexy. When I look at Ethan, my heart beats faster. I feel like I can’t speak right sometimes, he just stuns me with everything about him. I get that zing inside me, and I want to reach out for him all the time.

Was it like this when I first met him? No. No, I wasn’t physically attracted to him right away. I could see he was an attractive man. Could recognize that he was good looking. But it didn’t hit me personally. My… physical attraction to him developed alongside my emotions. The deeper I fell for him, the more attracted I became. His eyes went from being brown to burnished bronze. His face went from being like a statue—so serious!—to me noticing all of the beautiful touches and uniquenesses that were his own. The way his lips quirk up, just before he smiles. A pre-smile, almost. How his eyes crinkle at the corners. I can read everything in that little crinkle. The way his eyelashes fall over his cheeks. The angle of his jaw, when he’s standing in the sunlight. How his five o’clock shadow grows in. The way his shoulders fill out his suit. His ass. He’s got a nice tight, round ass. And his thighs. God, they’re so strong. His whole body. It’s powerful. I can never get enough. *laughs at himself* So, as you can see, now that I’m deeply in love with Ethan, my physical attraction to him is over the moon. It’s just as, if not more, powerful than anything I have felt before. Because I discovered this. This amazing love I have for this amazing man. 

Writing a demisexual character is deeply meaningful to me, as my husband is demisexual.

In Enemy of My Enemy, Jack has accepted that he is madly, wildly, deeply in love with Ethan, and he’s ready for the world to know about it. However, actions and declarations have consequences, and both domestic and international forces conspire against him and his new-found love. One enemy in particular, rogue General Madigan, sets in motion a plan to tear Jack and Ethan apart in the worst way possible.

Which brings us to Enemy Within. In this, the final Executive Office novel, Jack and Ethan reconnect, and their love grows deeper. Both men accept the soul-deep truth of their love. They are, in every sense of the word, soul mates, and they both know it in their hearts. They face their final challenges as a united front – together, inseparable – and as men and partners who gather strength from their love.

What else happens in Enemy Within? At the end of Enemy of My Enemy, Ethan has two engagement rings in his pocket. How and when will he propose? And what will Jack say?

What about our other couples? Sergey & Sasha? Adam & Faisal?

Well… we’ll have to wait and see!  

Enemy Within, Executive Office #3, releases on March 28, 2017 at Amazon, Smashwords, and other eBook & print retailers!

Enemies of the State, Executive Office #1, the first in the series, is available NOW for $0.99 at Amazon, Smashwords, and other eBook & print retailers. Dive into the series now!


Blurb

Enemy Within CoverThe White House, infiltrated.

The president, running for his life.

A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?


Bio

Tal Bio PicTal Bauer is an award-winning and best-selling author of LGBT romantic thrillers, bringing together a career in law enforcement and international humanitarian aid to create dynamic characters, intriguing plots, and exotic locations. He is happily married and lives with his husband and their Basset Hound in Texas. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America. 

Click here to sign up for Tal Bauer’s newsletter!


Giveaway

Tal has brought a signed print copy of Enemy Within to give away on the tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter. 

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 10:38 pm

it's all in the perspective

Social media - including blogs and journalling services like DW and LJ - are kind of creepy sometimes. I mean, where else could you have 100 or 800 or a 1000 people following you around, not saying anything to you...just watching...

I know, I've been online in journalling services like this for, oh, 16+ years, and I only just thought of it like that.


misbegotten: Orange Typewriter (Writing Orange Typewriter)
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 07:22 am

Prompt #35 - Poker Face

This week's prompt is poker face.

Your response should be exactly 100 words long. You do not have to include the prompt in your response -- it is meant as a starting place only. Please use the tag "prompt: #035 - poker face" with your prompt response.

Please include all necessary content warnings for potential triggers, mature or explicit content, or spoilers.

Here is a template for posting your work, if you so desire:

Subject: Original - Title (or) Fandom - Title

Post:
Title:
Original
(or) Fandom:
Rating:
Notes:




If you are a member of AO3 there is a 100 Words Collection!

Mirrored at Imzy.


Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 11:52 am

Asimov's

I've been reading more of Asimov's march/april 2017.
I'm up to page 107 and there have been two memorably interesting stories, but also two I skipped because I could see where they were going and no thanks.

Number Thirty Nine Skink, by Suzanne Palmer, had some lovely worldbuilding and felt packed with good bits.
The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going, Sarah Pinsker, is an answer to Omelas and I think will stay with me.

Three Can Keep A Secret was full of tricks but didn't make me feel anything.
Kitty Hawk... I know alternate history is SF, but, it left me vaguely dissatisfied and feeling like it somehow ignores that there's plenty of historical women that are not alternate. Eh, not my thing.

And then the skipped were Soulmates.com and Invasion of the Saucer Men.
I mentioned Soulmates.com before. There's an interesting story in the premise, but it's hers, not his, and it wouldn't look like this.
Invasion is just... Read more... )

I don't usually give up on stories, so, finding two in one publication is not awesome.

There's like another hundred pages to read so there's still plenty of room to be interesting.



I'm trying to stay awake long enough to finish the laundry and let the cleaner in, so I'm a bit grumpy right now.

I think I'd rather be reading fanfic. Always at least one bit of interest in fanfic.

... but not always suitable to be reading when employees turn up, so, I read other things...

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