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This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

This is probably going to be a wildly unpopular opinion and IDGAF. So many of my non-technical friends are freaking out that I feel the need to provide a bit of reassurance/reality.

First, an analogy.

In 2005 we learned that you can open a Kryptonite U-lock with a ballpoint pen. Everyone freaked out and changed their bike locks ASAP. Remember that?

Now, I wasn’t riding a bike at the time, but I started riding a bike a few years later in San Francisco, and I know how widespread bike theft is there. I used multiple levels of protection for my bike: a good lock, fancy locking posts on the seat and handlebars, and I parked my bike somewhere secure (work, home) about 90% of the time and only locked it up in public for short periods. Everywhere I went I saw sad, dismembered bike frames hanging forlornly from railings, reminding me of the danger. Those were paranoid times, and if I’d been riding in SF in 2005 you can bet I would have been first in line to replace my U-lock.

These days I live in Ballarat, a country town in Victoria, Australia. Few people ride bikes here and even fewer steal them. I happily leave my bike unlocked on friends’ front porches, dump it under a tree while I watch birds on the lake, lean it against the front of a shop just locked to itself while I grab a coffee, or park it outside divey music venues while I attend gigs late at night. I have approximately zero expectation of anything happening to it. If I heard that my bike lock had been compromised, I wouldn’t be in too desperate a hurry to change it.

Here’s the thing: if you are an ordinary Jane or Joe living the Internet equivalent of my cycling life in Ballarat, you don’t need to freak out about this thing.

Here are some websites I use where I’m not going to bother changing my password:

  • The place where I save interesting recipes
  • The one I go to to look at gifs of people in bands
  • That guitar forum
  • The one with the cool jewelry
  • The wiki I edit occasionally
  • The social network I only signed up for out of a sense of obligation but never use

Why? Because a) probably nobody’s going to bother trying to steal the passwords from there, and b) even if they did, so what?

This Heartbleed bug effectively reduces the privacy of an SSL-protected site (one whose URL starts with https://, which will probably show a lock in your browser’s address bar) to that of one without. Would you login to a site without SSL? Do you even know if the site uses SSL? If you’d login to your pet/recipe/knitting/music site anyway — if you’d do it from a coffee shop or airport — if you’d do it from a laptop or tablet or phone doesn’t have a strong password on it — if you don’t use two-factor authentication or don’t know what that means — then basically this won’t matter to you.

(I’m not saying it shouldn’t matter. You should probably set strong passwords and use VPNs and two-factor authentication. Just like you should probably lock your bike up everywhere you go, floss, and get your pap smears on the regular. Right? Right? *crickets*)

So if you’re a regular Jane — not working in IT security, not keeping state secrets, etc — here’s where you really need to change your passwords:

  • Any site you use to login to other sites (eg. Google, Facebook)
  • Any site that gives access to a good chunk of your money with just your password (eg. your bank, PayPal, Amazon)

(To do this: use this site to check if the site in question is affected, then if it’s “all clear” change your password. Don’t bother changing your password on a still-affected site, as that defeats the purpose. Oh, and you should probably change your passwords on those sites semi-regularly anyway, like maybe when you change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Which I just realised I should have done the other day and didn’t. Which tells you everything, really.)

Beyond those couple of key websites, you need to do a little risk assessment. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Has anyone ever heard of this site? Does anyone care? Is it likely to be a target of ominous dudes in balaclavas?
  • If I lost my login to this site, or someone could snoop what I had on that account, what is the worst that could happen?

If your answer is “I’d lose my job” or “I absolutely cannot survive without my extensive collection of Bucky/Steve fanart” then by all means change your password.

If your answer is “Eh, I’d sign up for a new one” or “Wait, even I’d forgotten that site existed” then you can probably stop freaking out quite so much.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Internet security expert, just a moderately well-informed techhead. Some people, including better-informed ones, will disagree with me. You take this advice at your own risk. La la la what the fuck ever, you’ll most likely be fine.

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This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

As you might know, I’ve been working on 3000 Acres over the last few months. My time there is almost up and they’re looking for volunteers to continue developing the site. If anyone in the Melbourne area is interested in working with me on this, and then taking it over, please get in touch! It would be a great way to get involved in a tech project for sustainability/social good, and the 3000 Acres team are lovely people with a great vision. Feel free to drop me an email or ping me via whatever other means is convenient, and please help us get the word out.

3000 Acres connects people with vacant land to help them start community gardens. In 2013 3000 Acres was the winner of the VicHealth Seed Challenge, and is supported by VicHealth and The Australian Centre for Social Innnovation (TACSI) along with a range of partners from the sustainability, horticulture, and urban planning fields. We are in the process of incorporating as a non-profit.

Our website, which is the main way people interact with us, launched in February 2014. The site helps people map vacant lots, connect with other community members, and find community garden resources. Since our launch we have continued to improve and add features to our site.

So far, our web development has been done by one part-time developer. We are looking for another (or multiple) volunteer developers to help us continue to improve the site, and to help make our code ready to roll out to other cities.

We’re looking for someone with the following skills and experience:

  • Intermediate level Rails experience (or less Rails experience but strong backend web experience in general). You should be comfortable using an MVC framework, designing data structures, coding complex features, etc.
  • Comfort with CSS and Javascript (we mostly use Bootstrap 3.0 and Leaflet.js) and with light design work (eg. layout, icons)
  • Familiarity with agile software development, including iteration planning, test driven development, continuous integration, etc.
  • Strong communication skills: you’ll particularly use them for writing web copy, advising on information architecture, and project management.
  • You should be in Melbourne or able to travel regularly to Melbourne to meet with us. Phone, Skype, and screen sharing may also be used — our current developer is based in Ballarat.

We welcome applications from people of diverse backgrounds, and are flexible in our requirements; if you think you have skills that would work, even if they don’t match the above description exactly, please get in touch.

We envision this role being around 8 hours a week ongoing (somewhat flexible, and mostly from your own location). Initially you will work closely with our current developer, who can provide in-depth training/mentoring and documentation on our existing infrastructure and processes. Over the next 3 months you will become increasingly independent, after which time you will be expected to be able to create and maintain high-quality code without close technical supervision.

For more information you can check out:

If you’re interested in working with us, please drop Alex an email at No resume required — just let us know a bit about yourself, your experience, and why you want to work with us. If you can show us an example of some relevant work you’ve done in the past, that would be fantastic.

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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

Time for another Garden Share Collective, hosted by Lizzie at Strayed from the Table. You should definitely head on over there to see how everyone’s garden is going!

The Garden Share Collective

Last month, my garden had exploded and I was picking zucchini, eggplant, and other high-summer veg. I was planning for winter planting, and had just laid out some new no-dig beds to do it in.


It’s been a very rough month, with a lot of personal, health, and work stuff going on, and I have to admit I haven’t been paying much attention to the garden. Many of the seedlings I had started, that I wanted to plant out, died through lack of attention and the predations of cabbage moth (at least I presume cabbage moth, as they went for the brassicas first and hardest).

This is what last month’s jungle of greenery looks like now:

dead sunflowers and tomatoes

dead sunflowers and tomatoes

Read the rest of this entry  )


Mar. 25th, 2014 02:05 pm
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Living: so much better than last time I posted! I think my slump has passed. House is still a mess but IDGAF because being a grownup means I can make my own choices about piles of dirty dishes SO THERE.

Working: Lots more! Picked up the project I lost notes for and just figured it out all over again. Agreed to do a project that is not-quite-my-thing but will make me way less stressed about money over the next few months. Also sent out a Growstuff newsletter to people from SLF and am starting to gain a little momentum there again. Oh, and just sent a surprisingly large invoice! It was a total handshake deal (which I didn't mind because it was something I wanted to do anyway, for my own reasons) and I misunderstood the terms of payment, and then it turns out it was 3 times larger than I thought. \o/ Also, it turns out that AdaCamp is happening in PDX in June right before Open Source Bridge and I *definitely* want to get to both of them now, and take in WisCon on the same trip. So I am starting to think about OSB talks. Fingers crossed I can get some help with travel costs because even with the aforementioned stuff, I can't *really* afford it myself, at least not if I also want to have a laptop that is new enough to be within warranty and doesn't have a failing battery :-/ But I am optimistic. One way or another I'll try and make this happen.

Playing: Lots! Went for an awesome bike ride with [personal profile] celuran on Saturday (the south section of the Yarrowee River trail) which came to a bit under 20k all up, I think, mostly on creekside gravel paths with intermittent but not deadly hills. It was nice. I want to do more. Then on Saturday night we went to the rodeo, which was a cultural experience. Honestly I expected more country music and less Beyonce and Gangnam Style. I had fun but it was cold and I think, all in all, I prefer Australian country sports (woodchopping, sheepdog trials, etc). But it was still $20 worth of entertainment and I got one of those curly potatoes on a stick which is basically all I ask for in life. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. On Sunday I went to a gig at the Karova Lounge: Smith Street Band supported by the Menzingers. Honestly I went for the Menzingers, who did a good set but the crowd didn't really know them and basically I wished I was seeing them at Gilman or something. Then SSB came on and the crowd were really into them so I just pretty much pushed into the mosh pit and let myself move with the crush and it was good and sweaty and loud and just what I needed. I left before the set finished because I was feeling good and wanted it to stay that way. Then some jerkwads tried to assault me/push me off my bike outside the Peter Lalor Hotel on Mair St on the way home, and I swore at them and they ran away, and then I reported them to the police, which in retrospect I regret. I do want someone to know about/have stats on the bike harassment/assaults that go on in this town, but now I'm thinking I probably could have a) dealt with it myself, and b) dissuaded those kids from doing it again, without involving ~~THE MAN~~. They were just scrawny dickhead teenagers and they were scared enough to run away when I shouted at them, so it wasn't actually dangerous. (Err, not that any of this really counts under "playing" but it happened after that gig, so.) What else? Had assessment/session/thingy with trainer at the gym and am keen to get a programme and start working out seriously again. Have lost a lot of my strength but not my technique. Still playing guitar pretty regularly, mostly just zoning out on scales and exercises and stuff because that's relaxing for me right now.

Reading: fic re-reads still.

Watching: Just watched "The Punk Singer", the documentary about Kathleen Hanna that came out last year. It was a great documentary, which I highly recommend. Surprising too. I didn't realise it was going to go in the direction it did. Hmmm what else. I've been watching a few eps of Best Ink which is kind of crappy but fun, you know? I really don't like watching people fail though :( Really haven't been spending much time watching TV like things lately, though, I think because I don't have a physical TV/screen apart from my laptop, which means I can either dork around online or watch things but not both. Or at least not as easily.

Listening: Right now, the Butchies. Over the last week or two, a more or less rotating playlist of 90s-00s women/women-fronted punk/indie/alternative/etc bands. We listened to a buttload of Garbage and Veruca Salt at craft night last week, for instance.

Wearing: I really need new pants/trousers. I only have one pair that fits. Where do I even buy pants that fit, given that my constraints are 1) plus size, 2) short, 3) natural fibre, 3) not complete crap? (Other than waiting until ~~June and doing it in the US.) I am sewing some stuff but that's mostly dagging-around-the-house pants. My sewing skills aren't currently up to anything more fitted/tailored than that and I do need some kind of decent stuff to wear to meetings and stuff. Like, jeans would be fine, but trackpants not so much, you know?

Making: Err, when I say "I am sewing some stuff" I mean that the supplies are strewn all around my living room but I haven't actually done anything in the last couple of weeks /o\ I did finish a cowl I was knitting though -- a simple textured stitch and fairly narrow shape so it's basically for bike riding when it's cold.

Health: Good! Feeling as physically healthy as I have in a while, I think largely because of the hours every week I'm spending on my bike just getting around. Got a flu vaccination yesterday. Eating fairly regularly and well (though somewhat stymied by kitchen mess/procrastination wrt keeping supplies up). New therapist continues awesome, but hard (and I'm still using a lot of cycles thinking about stuff related to that).
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Living: In a mixed state between "like a motherfucking grownup" and "why can't I get my shit together". Was meant to have a house inspection last week and tidied up for it, then the agent didn't have a key that worked so now he's coming again tomorrow. In which time the house has got messy again. Dammit.

Working: Not much. I lost some notes for one project and had to arrange a Skype call to figure it all out again, sigh. Had meetings in Melbourne last week which went well, including one which re-enthused me about another project. But overall I've been short on motivation and organisation and I really need to a) do some billable hours to pay rent, and b) get shit moving on Growstuff, as there's a handful of features just sitting in limbo. Stupid brainweasels, sigh.

Playing: Went to a punk gig in the 'Rat the other night. Small venue (back room of a pub), two bands, pretty good times but I'm definitely missing Gilman *sob* Joined the gym last week and went swimming; I'm seeing a trainer for an assessment etc next week and going to do some sessions with her (functional fitness, weights, etc). Got out the electric guitar to play around with it a bit, but I need to acquire a little practice amp again before I can do much with it.

Reading: Comfort reading, mostly fic I've read before (same as last week).

Watching: Watched some of Orphan Black with [personal profile] were_duck, otherwise not much.

Listening: (new item added to the list) Got around to listening to the not-actually-new-anymore FOB album and had it on repeat for a few days -- I love about half of the album and don't hate the other half. Today I've been fiddling with my iTunes playlists a lot to make more women show up in my "Radio Skud" mix. I think I need to make some new playlists for work and and for evening chillout/bedtime.

Wearing: (new item added to the list) I added this to the list not because I'm wearing anything particularly interesting (tshirt, hoodie, trackpants, uggs) but because I got an awesome haircut last week and it's making me very happy. It's not quite Jedward but it definitely started there and wound up somewhere around "messy quiff". I love my hairdresser in Melbourne, who can roll with that sort of thing without making a big deal of it, never uses shampoo on my hair, understands the pure, perfect bliss of a #1 clipper job that will stay at the perfect fuzzy pettable length for at least a week, and only charged me for a "men's" haircut. So good. Oh also, this is a pretty fab sports/binding bra if you like that sort of thing.

Making: Not much this week. Bread -- I'm gradually converting Rocky the sourdough starter over to wheat flour (from rye). I made some very tasty stir fry the other day. Little bit of knitting but not much. Craft night here on Tuesday.

Health: New therapist continues awesome. We've been talking a lot about gender, and about my mother (who died when I was little). As mentioned above, joined the gym, which in my head is more "playing" than "health", but I thought it would be worth a note that I've been reading up on lordosis (based on a chance comment about pattern modification on a vintage sewing blog!) which seems to describe my particular type of pelvic tilt/uneven waistline/back curvature and might be something to look into ameliorating through exercise/stretching, so I'll mention that to $trainer when I see her next week. Oh and I think I might be getting a UTI, which meant a wander up to the pharmacy this morning for some cranberry pills and shit. Hopefully it won't do much of anything if I catch it early enough. I'm pleased with myself for spotting the discomfort early, too -- last time I didn't figure out what it was until I was really sick and feverish, because I didn't/don't get the burning pee thing, just some tenderness in the general region and a run-down feeling. Speaking of run-down feeling there has been a lot of lounging around and not doing much, which I am trying not to beat myself up over. Though it would be nice to get some energy/motivation back one of these days.


Mar. 6th, 2014 12:27 am
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Living: One day at a time. Things are tough right now. I'm setting easy goals for each day (eg. Monday: go to this one appointment, don't do anything terrible/regrettable on the internets; Tuesday: a load of laundry and one difficult email) and calling it a win if I make it. Today I did some laundry, some dishes, some tidying, watered the garden (why no raiiiinnnn?), and a bit of work-work. It'll do for now.

Working: not as much as I should be, really. Trying to ramp back up into actual paying work because, you know, rent. Feeling terrible about stuff I've dropped on the ground, emails I owe, etc. Augh. Step by step, Skud, step by step. Also, not sure if it's work-work but it's computery so I'll count it: I upgraded my laptop to Mavericks, my iPhone to iOS 7, and switched to using Tweetbot for twitter. Mixed feelings on Tweetbot; wish I could invent some frankenstein-monster hybrid between it and Echofon. Echofon's got a smoother UI in general (fewer clicks to get shit done), but Tweetbot has the all-important keyword muting.

Playing: Reading lots of fic (mostly re-reads and comfort fic) for relaxation/enjoyment. Playing (in another sense) a lot of music. This gender swing brings music back with it. I've missed it a lot, actually. I don't know what music my femme self likes (maybe nothing much?), but my butch self likes all kinds of cool shit. Tonight I listened to The Coup and Fugazi and, ok, the Buffy musical episode but only because iTunes brought it up kind of randomly. Also been playing the guitar again, mostly just doing some basic drills and stuff, buildling up calluses again. Had to take a couple of days off because I actually got blisters and lost some skin, but I'm back at it again today.

Planning: I... not much. Hmmm. I just don't seem to have the mental space/energy for it right now. I've been thinking a lot about haircuts though! I think I want a sort of Jedward haircut, actually. Just trying to figure out whether to dye first or cut first. Think I'm going to take a quasi-hippyish middle ground and break out the Lush "caca noir" black henna (actually henna+indigo) which gives a naturalish dark black-brown, rather than going back to the old bleach-and-brights.

Reading: Fic. Lots and lots of fic. Fic I've already read before, for the most part. Comfort reading.

Watching: that "Stephen Fry in America" series from like 2008. I can't quite remember why I started but once I did I felt honour-bound to complete it. I find Fry hard to watch. In his most negative moods he reminds me of my asshole father. On the other hand, dad never has the whimsy or the childlike joy that Fry has when he likes something. The show was weird to watch. So many layers of cross-cultural experience/opinion, between Fry's visiting eye and my ex-expat one. Meh. Not what I'd call a really enjoyable viewing experience, but not an altogether bad one. On a completely different note, this vid by [personal profile] thuviaptarth about militarism in the Avengers universe. Highly recommended.

Making: Bought some wool last time I was in Melbourne and have been knitting a cowl from it. The wool is a sport weight long-colour-shift 100% wool in cool red, blue, and grey. The cowl is tight/single-wrap, in a simple slip-stitch pattern that breaks up the colour a bit and provides some texture. I'm hoping to wear it when biking around Ballarat etc; wanted something non-flappy for the purpose. It's pure comfort knitting and feels lovely and squidgy.

Health: went to see the free therapist at the local community health centre on Monday, and OMGGGGG she is the BEST. Like, I never really understood that crush-on-the-therapist trope until now? But wow, she is great. Forthright, feminist, generally appreciative of my outspoken/analytical ways. Wants me to send her my dorky gender spreadsheet. Listened to me ramble about my gender stuff, reached into the mess I'd dumped on the ground, and pulled out the tangle right at the middle IN OUR FIRST SESSION. Gave me homework so intense that it feels like fucking on the first date. Which, you know, I'm into. Even though this is shit I have NEVER talked about and she just picked it out of the mess and said "ok, let's deal with this first." Basically I don't know whether to be terrified or all heart-eyes, but it is basically good. Also, I joined the gym yesterday, which in any other week would have been newsworthy, but this week is not so much. And my uterus is doing that thing it does, which tbh I am mostly annoyed with because it is interfering with my newly-revived solo sex life. WHATEVER UTERUS, YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

How's your week?
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Anyone have a tool/thingy for easily switching between two or more DW accounts? Ideally a Firefox plugin, but if you have other things then let me know. Ditto for AO3 accounts. (But not just "use a different browser" please.)
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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but it seems like the stars have aligned and I have both a harvest and the time to post about it.

This week, like the last few, has had harvests that look more or less like this:

one zucchini, one small eggplant, and some tomatoes

a yellow zucchini, two small eggplants, some tomatoes, and dill seed

Actually those photos are from earlier weeks but it’s so similar this week that they’ll serve just as well! (That’s dill seed in the second photo btw.)

I’m getting a handful of veggies like this every couple of days I suppose: a zucchini or two, some thin little eggplants (“early long purple” variety), a handful of tomatoes. Apart from salads, I’ve been making ratatouille-variants (tonight: a layered casserole with cheesey rice and zucchini-tomato-herbs) and the other day I made this chocolate zucchini cake, only with walnuts instead of choc chips, and it was a total winner.

Everything is a bit late and less productive than I would have liked, I think because of moving house in December, but I’ve basically considered that anything I get out of the garden this summer is a bonus, so I can’t really complain.

Today I was also the lucky recipient of this:

a bag of apples and a bag of plums

They came off my next door neighbour’s tree, and will turn into applesauce and stewed plums over the next few days. I gave them a jar of tomato kasundi in exchange, and promised to bake them a loaf of bread as well. Then I walked away with a wheelbarrow load of paving bricks that they considered trash but which I’ll use as stepping stones through my garden beds. Win!

Apart from all this, I’ve been picking herbs, but didn’t bother to take pics. I have been drinking a lot of water flavoured with fresh mint, though, which is lovely and refreshing. I’m glad to have got into that habit.

See other people’s harvests over at Daphne’s blog.

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... where, back in the day, I would post to LJ all the time just talking about shit that was going on in my life. And so would other people. And I would know what my friends were up to, no matter how far apart we are.

So, let's try this:

Living: much better now I've figured out why I was feeling so shit these last few weeks. Settling in well in the new place. Loving Ballarat, for the most part. Still need a few things for the house (another sofa, a TV) but really can't complain.

Working: just launched 3000 Acres a week ago. It's a website to help people connect with each other and with vacant land to start community gardens. Then had a quiet week this last week in recovery from that, and the sustainable living festival, and personal dramaz, and life in general.

Playing: Hmmm, don't feel like I've been playing much. I did go to the Eureka pool a couple of weeks back and splashed around which was nice. I've been enjoying the physicality of riding my bike everywhere. Thinking of going back to the gym (if I can find a good one near here).

Planning: to make lots more preserves before the summer bounty is over, and to switch things up a lot with Growstuff to pick up the pace and get things happening again. Also [personal profile] celuran and I are talking about whether we can start our own CWA branch (apparently you only need 6 women) and make it explicitly modern/inclusive/etc.

Reading: deja vu fandom time, re-visiting fic I loved a few years ago. Also borrowing books from the local library on the basis of "written by women of colour" which makes for rather mixed reading. Right now it's "Half Blood Blues", a novel about about black jazz musicians in Germany and France during WW2.

Watching: Season 2 of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, more or less as they air. Sue Perkins' sitcom "Heading Out" (didn't like it much, probably won't finish). Caught up on Elementary.

Making: Preserves. All the preserves. Yesterday, 3 different kinds (salsa, kasundi, roasted peppers) with [personal profile] celuran and [personal profile] halfeatenmoon, and today, "breakfast fruit" aka simple stewed fruit that I eat with my muesli. Also, pants. I have the sewing maching set up on the dining table and I'm fiddling with a pattern I've got. First pair of flannelette PJ pants came out kind of daggy, but if I slim them down around the bum and widen them at the cuff and tweak the pockets a bit I think they'll be good. When I have the pattern down (which I figure might take 3 pairs of PJ pants) then I'm going to make some daytime pants from the same pattern. Also, just finished a knitted cardigan which, given gender swings, I probably won't wear until I swing back the other way. GREAT TIMING SKUD.

Health: Broadly good. Continuing work on ED stuff. Found a local GP who is a) female, and b) the clinic seems to be queer-friendly, so that is nice. She wants me to get bloodwork done, which I am not looking forward to. Seeing dietician in Melbourne every 2 months now. Community health centre (where the GP is) has a program for free (FREE!!!1) counselling and I'm hoping they have a counsellor who matches my style/needs because how awesome is that? There's no time limit or anything.
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(for me)

* Feeling of "frumpiness" or general dissatisfaction with appearance
* Lack of interest in grooming/personal appearance
* Avoidance of social events that I have to dress for/increased "fashion crisis" before going out
* Formerly favourite clothes or accessories languishing or gathering dust
* Hairstyle ennui (eg. style growing out, not getting haircuts)
* Discomfort at compliments about appearance/grooming that highlight gender
* Unfinished craft projects/dissatisfaction with craft projects that are gendered
* Changing interest in craft/maker projects or styles of project (eg. from embroidery to woodwork or vice versa)
* Change in music tastes/listening habits
* Higher than usual body-hatred, avoidance of mirrors, etc.
* Avoiding photos, video chat, etc.
* Depression, general feeling of meh, eating badly, not taking care of life admin
* (?) Starting to self-identify differently eg. on forms/paperwork/in talking to people
* (?) More likely to mention my tendency to shift gender presentation to people

Noting these down for future reference. Just realised I've got all these going on at present. One of these days I'll get good enough at noticing gender swings that I won't take weeks to go "oh, of COURSE".

So yeah. I seem to be a month or two into a feminine-to-masculine swing. The minute I realised I got up off the sofa, went and dug out some trousers and a sports bra and put them on, dumped some feminine stuff in the laundry or in a "to be put away until next time" heap, and have about 300% as much energy. Time to make food/wash dishes/make a small crafty modification to my messenger bag (flower buttons: GONE.)

ETA: first masculine swing since changing my wallet name. All I can say is OH THANK FUCK.
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So, Wikipedia's list of neural symptoms of hypoglycemia sounds horrifyingly familiar. The other night I had a third or more of them, well past "impaired judgement" and into "not sure I can see straight" as I was biking home, and then on to "rage".

If you see me ranting in a way that's, like, way beyond my usual standards, someone please intervene before hypoglycemic hulk loses me any more friends?

content note: non-weight-loss diet talk and ED mentions, nothing too detailed )
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What with moving and everything in December, I totally missed the window for holiday cards. But I feel the urge to send snailmail to people occasionally, so if you'd like to be on my list for postcards and the like, at random times of the year, feel free to leave your address here. Comments are screened.

(If you celebrate Christmas or enjoy seasonal cards around December, feel free to mention that also, and I'll start my list early. LMK if you have a preference as to Christian/Christmas content on end-of-year cards; I default to "season's greetings" or mild/secular Christmas cards in the absense of info.)

* may not contain actual shit
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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

Time for another Garden Share Collective, hosted by Lizzie at Strayed from the Table.

As you probably remember, I moved into my new house in December and quickly rushed to set up a bit of no-dig garden using my moving boxes as the bottom layer. It now looks like this:

no dig garden with lots of things growing, including a number of tall tomato plants with stakes

Standing up near the compost bins, looking back toward the house. Just in the foreground you can see the latest expansion in the no-dig beds, just started last week before it got hot.

(For comparison, see last month.)

Everything’s coming along nicely albeit a bit slower than if I’d put everything in during the spring. Unlike many people, my garden hasn’t suffered too much from the heat, and to be honest I’m not sure why. I basically just give it a good soak once a day if it’s over 30, or twice a day if it’s over 35. The worst I’ve seen is a few scorched leaves on the zucchini. I don’t mean to boast, but I am quite pleased!

So, the tour, in photos:

sunflower bud

The sunflowers are about as tall as I am, and just about to bloom.

zucchini plant with a couple of flowers, one female

This is the biggest of the zucchini plants, and today for the first time it has a female flower (the one with the little zucchini attached). Fingers crossed for fertilization!

my hand, full of small to medium red and yellow tomatoes.

I’m harvesting a small salad worth of tomatoes every couple of days. The yellowish ones are jaune flammes, the tiny red ones are wild sweeties, and I’m not sure what the in between red ones are.

garden beds with beans, zucchini, and squash

I’ve extended into another section since last month, if I recall correctly. Beans in the foreground, and that’s a potimarron (aka kuri squash) growing up the frame in the background.

a squash plant starting to grow long tendrils around a tree stump

The pumpkins/squashes I planted in spots on the other side of the garden, which were tiny seedlings last month, are now starting to sprawl across the garden.

several trays of seedlings

But where things are really starting to change is down the back, where I have a whole seedling production facility coming along in the greenhouse/shadehouse. Mostly what I have coming along here are various kinds of greens.

seedlings in a tray

These are the ones that are closest to being ready to plant out, once I have some more space ready for them. Calendula, mizuna, perpetual spinach, and I forget what else to be honest.

two trays of microgreens

I’ve also been growing microgreens. Peas on the right, “winter mix” (beet, kale, mustard, etc) on the left. Just about ready to start picking.

lemon tree in a pot

I also scored this lemon tree from Emilly. She reckons it needs to go into the ground because it’s not happy in the pot, but doesn’t have anywhere good to put it herself, so I promised to take care of it until the weather cools down a little, then plant it near my washing line. We’re not sure what variety it is, but either Meyer or Eureka.

plums hanging from the tree

The fruit trees are coming along okay I guess. There are a few plums like this, which look like they’ll need at least another week to ripen.


And finally, I got some comfrey in next to the compost bins. I’d like to grow some other good compost herbs, too.

So all in all things are looking pretty good, though not as productive as they would have been if I’d got stuff planted earlier. I’m particularly keen for the zucchini to start happening, and have my fingers crossed for the other kinds of squash/pumpkin hoping they’ll have time to fruit and ripen before autumn gets too cold. No luck yet from the eggplants or tomatillos, either, and I’m starting to think tomatillos aren’t worth the bother. We’ll see.

To do this month:

  • Extend the no-dig beds towards the compost bins. (I’m actually running short on cardboard, but will do as much as I can, maybe on Tuesday when the weather is cooler.)
  • Start planting greens around that area.
  • Keep going with succession planting, and definitely get the winter crops started from seed.
  • Establish a perennial/herb bed near the back door of the house — need to put aside a couple of boxes just for this, or else use newspaper/junk mail/???
  • Pot up the various mints I have into larger pots, and find a good spot for them all to live (I’m thinking near the greenhouse).
  • Keep watering everything regularly!
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So I wrote this guest post for Hoyden About Town (Australian feminist group blog), talking about the Country Women's Association (analogous to Britain's W.I.), what I like/don't like about it, and starting a bit of brainstorming about what a similar women's org (i.e. mutual support, skill-sharing, community involvement, women's issues) might look like if we started from scratch now, rather than trying to work with a structure that's been around for 85 years and hasn't changed much in that time.

Quick thoughts:

- explicit policies around diversity and inclusiveness / avoiding religious language / etc
- easy to start a local group with minimal bureaucracy; lightweight processes to avoid meeting fatigue
- activities/interests/causes/projects developed by each local group
- strong online presence including useful central website and social media
- an online "toolkit" to help groups start, develop, run activities, and deal with common situations

Not sure if this will come to anything more than a thought experiment, though I know there are people who would be keen to join such an organisation if there was enough momentum and interest to get it going.

Anyway if this is of any interest to you, I set up a Loomio group (Loomio's a web app for consensus-based decision making, developed by some kiwis who were involved in #occupy) to discuss. If you're interested in joining in over there, click the "ask to join" button.
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Hey [personal profile] brainwane! I know! Because I follow him on Twitter! Isn't it great?

But I can't comment on your DW because I'm apparently not on your access list :P
skud: (Default)
This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

A quickie because it’s too hot to have the laptop on my lap.

First, because I missed Harvest Monday yesterday, here’s a quick pic of the only stuff I harvested this week:

tomatoes and chillies in a bowl

Jaune flamme tomatoes (the orange-yellow ones), some kind of cherry tomato I forget the name of, a couple of tiny wild sweetie tomatoes hiding underneath, and two thai chillies.

I think starting my tomatoes and peppers in Melbourne gave them a headstart on everyone else in Ballarat, as most of my neighbours aren’t picking tomatoes yet!

Next, a quick check-in to see what happened with the things I planted the last two weeks since I started doing this succession planting thing.

bush beans sprouting in the garden bed

Bush beans from two weeks ago, well on their way. Though they haven’t all come up, and I’m wondering whether they will do so soon, or not. The seed’s a bit old, so who knows?

The cucumber and zucchini I planted that week are also coming up — hopefully not too late to be useful, but that’ll depend on how long the summer is/how warm autumn is. The seed I broadcast (herbs, rocket, etc) isn’t doing much, but I’m expecting some surprises at random times in future. The herbs I planted from seedling (eg. basil) are looking so-so, not really doing much, though their leaves are looking healthier/greener than they did in the pot.

seedling punnets with tiny sprouts.

Last week’s seedling punnets, coming along nicely. Amaranth, silver beet, spring onions, etc. In the background are Vietnamese mint and perpetual basil cuttings, which I potted today. Fingers crossed!

This week I planted:

  • Kai laan (asian greens) — in a seedling punnet
  • Mustard (“Green Wave”) — punnet
  • More beans (direct)
  • Radishes (direct)
  • Beets (direct)

Don’t know how the direct-sown stuff will deal with the heat, but I’m guessing the beans at least won’t mind. I’ve mulched everything well.

Next week: my order from Green Harvest should arrive, which means starting on winter crops (ugh, I can barely even think about that yet). I need to pick up more seed-raising mix before then.

Meanwhile, does anyone know what these insects are? They’re all over my backyard, and they’re always mating, tail to tail.

orange and black insects in amongst the weeds

Actually, some of these ones were trying to have a threesome as I took the photo.

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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

Just before Christmas I read Changing Gears: A Pedal-Powered Detour from the Rat Race by Greg Foyster. This is not a book review (though it was a pretty interesting book), but rather a riff on one small phrase that sprung out at me and that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

I don’t have the exact quote, but early in the book Greg is talking to people about sustainability and someone points out that resilience and efficiency are at odds with each other. That is, we can choose to do things the efficient way (but they won’t be resilient) or the resilient way (but they won’t be efficient).

As a very small example, let me tell you something that occurred to me the other day while making a zucchini slice. I had to crack six eggs which I’d got from a produce swap. I had in front of me the half-carton of eggs, a large bowl, and a small cup. I cracked each egg into the cup, and then tipped it into the bowl before cracking the next.

This was inefficient. It would have been quicker to crack them straight into the bowl. But what if one of them was rotten? It’s happened before, and I know that it can ruin the whole meal. There’s no way to separate one rotten egg from five fresh ones once they’ve been mixed together in a bowl, and I had no more eggs in the house. I was hungry for my lunch, and didn’t want to have to ride up to the shops to get more eggs if I messed it up.

Resilience often means doing things a slightly slower, messier, or more complicated way. The upside is that you protect yourself against risk and failure, either in the short term (as with my lunch) or the longer term.

I’ve gotten into a couple of twitter discussions lately that touched on resilience vs efficiency on a larger scale. The first was on the subject of line-drying clothes. I’ve grown up doing so, and consider it straightforward and completely normal, which means I’m slightly boggled by posts like this one recommending expensive equipment and talking about people who hang out their clothes once a month “for fun”.

When I started talking about this on Twitter, someone pointed out that machine-drying clothes was “more efficient”. They were mostly talking about the time of the person doing the hanging-out, taking-in, and folding of the laundry, a task that is typically undervalued and for which people (let’s be clear here: mostly women, especially mothers) aren’t usually paid.

So yeah, saving time on laundry by machine-drying is more efficient from the point of view of the individual doing the laundry. It’s also possible to do it in all weathers and at any time of day or night, and to have your clothes ready in less time. Arguably, making chores faster and more convenient shows that we value the time of the people that do them, and gives them greater opportunity to spend their time in other ways they find valuable: earning money in the formal economy, or reading a good book, or whatever floats their boat.

But what’s the cost in resilience? To machine dry our clothes, we need:

  • A dryer, which costs hundreds of dollars up front, breaks down from time to time, and needs replacing relatively often.
  • Electricity, at a cost (one online calculator tells me) of around $50 a year for typical use.
  • Ventilation, to avoid heating up your house, and/or cooling (eg. aircon) to offset the heat generated in warm weather — add the cost of the aircon unit and electricity to run it.
  • Mechanisms to prevent static cling, especially in dry climates. This usually means petro-chemical based fabric softeners, and the production facilities and distribution channels for them.
  • Clothing selected for its machine-dry-ability, which excludes eg. wool (one of the best fabrics around for warmth, breathability, and durability if you treat it right).
  • Frequent replacement of clothing that wears out more quickly when machine-dried.

Machine drying depends on an immense industrial system: manufacturing and repair of equipment, delivery of electricity, fast fashion and industrial textiles, fossil fuels, and more. If any one of those parts breaks down (a power outage, for instance, or your electric dryer literally breaking down and not working) then you can’t dry your clothes. If you depend on a laundromat and you don’t have coins or simply can’t afford the cost, or you can’t leave the house for some reason, you can’t dry your clothes. You have to buy clothes more often, and are more restricted in what you can buy. And in the long run you’re contributing to climate change, fossil fuel depletion, pollution, and god knows what else, none of which are going to be great for you personally.

On the other hand, with an outdoor line or a drying rack that costs about $10 (this is the typical price in Australia, rather than the $159 in the blog post linked above), a few minutes of my time, and a bit of forethought, I can dry my clothes no matter what happens. I don’t rely on electricity, it can’t really break down, it humidifies my house (a good thing in a dry climate, saving further on appliances and electricity), I don’t have to buy fabric softener at the supermarket, I can invest in longer-lasting clothing, and I save money that I can put toward my long-term wellbeing or anything else that I value. When it comes to time, I fit my laundry into breaks in my work day, which is good for my physical and mental health (not to mention nice to spend a few minutes out in the fresh air when the weather’s clement) making me more able to deal with whatever else life throws at me.

All this at a cost of about 15 minutes a week.

a load of laundry hanging on a rotary clothesline

I spent 5 minutes hanging out today’s load while thinking about the first draft of this post.

Of course, I personally think resilience is better than efficiency. Other people disagree with me, and have their own reasons for doing so. Sometimes their reasons are very good ones: for instance, someone with health problems or who works long hours outside the home or who lives in a vastly different climate may have different priorities from mine.

I recognise that I won’t be able to convert everyone to my way of thinking. What I most want to do is to question the idea that “efficiency” is an unalloyed good, or the only yardstick against which we can measure. I’d like to avoid constantly talking at cross-purposes with people who assume that “it’s more efficient” is an automatic argument-winner. Efficiency happens in a context, and has consequences.

For what it’s worth, the other Twitter discussion that touched on efficiency-vs-resilience was about industrial agriculture and GMOs. It was pointed out that “big ag” is a very efficient way of producing a lot of food. I’ll leave the effects of the industrial food system, with respect to resilience, as an exercise for the reader.

Related reading, especially for those in or interested in the tech industry: Anil Dash, To Less Efficient Startups.

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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

The other day I wrote about making this salad for my extended family, but I didn’t have any pics or a recipe. Well, this weekend I went to a BBQ lunch and was asked to bring something to share, so I made it again, and this time I took notes and a picture.

carrot salad

A quick pic before I dashed off to this lunch; apologies for it not being very easy to see the whole salad, as it’s in a kind of deep container.

Here’s the recipe.

  • 3 decent sized carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 can chickpeas, or equivalent cooked from dry
  • 3/4 cup sultanas or raisins
  • small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • several sprigs of mint, finely chopped

Dump all the above ingredients in a bowl, then combine the following to make a dressing (I like to shake them together in a jar):

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • twice as much olive oil as lemon juice, by volume
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste (and maybe also a pinch of sugar if your lemon wasn’t very sweet)

Toss the dressing with the salad.

Finally, peel and segment an orange and arrange it on top. Et voila!

This salad fulfils my core requirements for “bring a plate” situations: it’s filling and protein-y and vegetable-y enough that if I don’t like anything anyone else has brought (an occasional risk given my dietary requirements/food preferences/hangups, though luckily not relevant in this case), I can just about make a meal of it; and when I bring home half of it as leftovers, it keeps pretty well in the fridge for a couple of days.

It’s also the sort of recipe that I don’t need to shop for, as I usually have all the ingredients around, barring the orange which to be honest is not critical. (Of course today of all days, being invited to this lunch on short notice, I didn’t have any tinned chickpeas in the house and had to go buy some. Perils of eating down the pantry before moving house!)

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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

My second succession planting Tuesday!

Last week I sowed a lot of seed direct in the garden, either carefully (zucchini, beans, cucumber) or by just tossing it around the place (various greens and herbs). As of today, the zucchini, beans, and cucumber haven’t come up yet, however I did spot a few tiny shoots of what looked like some kind of brassica — the two heart-shaped leaves are distinctive — in amongst the other things in my garden beds.

Fingers crossed for more stuff to sprout! It’s been really cold here these last few nights — down to 1 degree celsius in the “feels like” temperatures — so I’m hoping that hasn’t harmed them any.

This week I planted some stuff in seedling trays, for a change. I’m keeping them in my back porch, in a somewhat sunny spot, where I walk past them several times a day.

seedling trays

Not very photogenic I’m afraid. They’re sitting on a table just inside my back door, under recycled plastic bags as a makeshift greenhouse to save me having to constantly watch their moisture.

  • Silverbeet (Fordhook) — seed is just on its expiry date, needs using
  • Perpetual spinach (ditto)
  • Leaf Amaranth (ditto)
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Spring onions
  • Beetroot
  • Mizuna (salad green)

I also planted in small pots:

  • Warrigal greens
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Thai basil

Finally, one thing I planted in the garden: I had two leeks from my aunt’s garden a week or so back, which I used to make soup last night. I kept the ends (with lots of roots still on them) and tucked them down in the compost between some of the other plants in my garden, and I’m hoping they’ll sprout and I’ll get new leeks from them.

Also, an update on the cuttings I took from my aunt’s perpetual basil and Vietnamese mint. They’ve been sitting on my bathroom windowsill and they’re coming along nicely.

cuttings in shot glasses on the windowsill

You can see roots starting to form on the Vietnamese mint in the foreground here.

I think I’ll probably plant them out into little pots next week, at this rate, and into the garden a couple of weeks after that.

I also snarfed a bit of jasmine from a neighbour’s front yard (hey, it was hanging right out over their fence) and I’ve put the cuttings in a glass on my desk. That was only yesterday, and they’re already growing roots! I’d heard jasmine rooted easily, but even so I’m surprised.

jasmine cuttings in a glass of water

You can’t really see it in the pic, but the front stalk has tiny little rootlets, just a couple of millimetres long, sprouting from it already.

I know jasmine’s not edible, but I’m trying to plant flowers regularly to attract pollinators, so I’m going to note them here anyway (ditto the borage and calendula, above).

Plans for next week:

  • Time to plant out some more bush beans (since it will be two weeks since the last lot)
  • I’d like to get some Asian greens going
  • I should direct-sow some radishes
  • It might be time to start on winter crops! It seems far too early, but other bloggers in my area are doing it, so maybe it’s time. I’m thinking leeks and some of the slower brassicas.

Actually, it’s about time I put in a seed order for winter crops. Here’s what’s on my radar at present (though I’ll probably whittle the list down a bit).

From Green Harvest, ordering soon:

  • Broccoli, “Green Sprouting Calabrese” (GH, 300/$3.50)
  • Cabbage “Red Express” (GH, 300/$3.50)
  • Chinese Cabbage “One Kilo Slow Bolt” (GH, 300/$3.50)
  • Cauliflower “Snowball improved” (GH, 250/$3.50)
  • Florence Fennel (GH, 250/$3.50)
  • Coriander “Slow Bolt” (GH, 100/$3.50)
  • Turnip “Golden Globe” (GH, 300/$3.50)

From Eden Seeds, ordering around March:

  • Broad Bean “Aquadulce” (Eden, 50/$3.40)
  • Endive – broad leaved (Eden, 500/$3.40)
  • Dill (Eden, 800/$3.40)
  • Lupin, Hartwegii mix (Eden, 75/$3.40)
  • Maybe something new in the way of Asian greens, haven’t decided yet.

Anyone (especially locals) want to share some of these? Barbara? I’ll also be listing them to swap/trade on Growstuff, of course.

Incidentally, I joined the Diggers Club last year but I don’t think I’ll renew. I find their seed packets stingy (not many seeds per envelope) and poorly designed (you have to tear them open and can’t reclose, which means you lose seeds); their variety isn’t all that much better than Green Harvest or Eden Seeds; I got some live seedlings from them but wasn’t thrilled with them so probably won’t again; their online resources are good but not anything you can’t find elsewhere; their magazine just doesn’t excite me that much; as a non-car-driver I’m basically never going to visit any of their gardens; and their freebies don’t make up for any of this. So, that’s my take on Diggers Club, for whatever it’s worth.

And that’s it for succession-planting-and-rambling-about-seed-orders Tuesday.

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This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

Hey, I have a harvest this week, for the first time in ages! A small one, but nevertheless…

two cherry tomatoes

The first two cherry tomatoes of the season.

sorrel, pea shoots, and thyme

Sorrel, pea shoots, and thyme. The sorrel’s a little sunburnt. The pea shoots are growing all over the place because the peastraw for my beds was seedy. They went into veg stock along with the thyme; the sorrel went into soup made with the stock.

But the most impressive harvest of the week was…

white mushrooms in a bowl

Almost 400g of mushrooms, harvested from the compost I bought from a mushroom farmer; they grew overnight in my shed. I got two batches about this size, 700g in all.

Also a shout-out to the fab folks at Ballarat Permaculture Guild, whose produce swap I attended on the weekend. I took along some home-baked cookies, and swapped for some salad veg, spring onions, potatoes, and duck eggs. I made out very well, I think because I was new and everyone was so nice! I also grabbed some rhubarb from the table at the end of the swap, in exchange for a donation to the community garden, and a couple of people offered me bunches of herbs they were trying to get rid of as I left. What a haul!

See more harvests over at Daphne’s Dandelions.

April 2014

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