emma_in_dream: (Brookes)
Yesterday we went to an indoor playground but had to leave early because two boys kept following my kids around and pushing them.

The boys were bullies who did not stop even after I spoke to them in front of their fathers (who did not reinforce me but sat in complete silence).

But what is so much worse is those boys were swimming around in rape culture. They called the girls a series of very odd names which I suspect were all the bad names they knew – 'sexy girl', 'penis' and 'poobomb'.

I feel so sad that the girls have encountered this, especially as all the techniques I had to teach them proved not to work. There’s no point in confronting them, just move to another part of the play ground. Avoid them. Speak to authority figures. Talk to a trusted adult.

I feel so much worse when I think that it will only get worse for them as they get older. All the creepy groping on public transport and being followed down the street, etc, etc.

Ray of sunshine: After we left one of the staff ran out and gave us free passes to come back because she said she could see we were being harassed by those naughty boys. She said she had also spoken to them about pushing and also abusing the toys by disassembling them but they had ignored her. Their parents = total fails but at least we got backdoor support from the staff.
emma_in_dream: (Buffy)
I’ve elected to read Horatio Alger Jr on the grounds of his enormous popularity at the turn of the nineteenth century. Some very clever and diligent researchers have taken the circulation records (1891-1902, with a gap 1892-4) from the Muncie Indiana Public Library and cross referenced them to the census. They can actually analyse who was borrowing what!

It turns out that a lot of people were reading Alger. He was the single most circulated author - Horatio Alger, Jr. (9,230), Harry Castlemon (7,339), Oliver Optic (5,208), Martha Finley (4,609), Edward S. Ellis (3,004), Edward R. Roe (2,991), Louisa May Alcott (2,976), F. Marion Crawford (2,120), Rosa N. Carey (1,992), and Eugenie John (1,823). The list is dominated by juvenile fiction writers I have never read.

By way of contrast, Mark Twain barely registered with 877 circulations, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which was borrowed 149 times. The three most often borrowed Alger books eclipsed Twain’s total circulation – The Young Adventurer (422), The Telegraph Boy (364), The Young Circus Rider(359).

I read Ragged Dick (circulated 308 times). This was Alger’s big break, first serialised in a newspaper in 1867 and then, due to its success, printed in 1868. While the story would be described as ‘rags to riches’, it is really more rags to middle-class security. The protagonist, Ragged Dick, uses his quick wits to move from boot black to clerk, gaining an education through night school, Sunday school and perseverance.

As to the literary merits of the book, I will defer to Carl B. Roden, assistant librarian to Chicago Public Library in 1880, who described them in as fast food:

That is the substance of the indictment which librarians bring against the widely known and ravenously devoured writings of the redoubtable Oliver Optic, of Horatio Alger, of the Elsie [Dinsmore] books [written by Martha Finley] and all of that ilk; their transparent tawdriness and falsity of plot; their cheap and paltry “written down” style; their general tone and aspect of insubstantiality; like a stick of chewing gum, tickling the palate for the moment with their fleeting flavor, only to turn into a nubbin of sticky nothingness in the end, to be cast out and forgotten.

I think this is a fair call. No one would read Alger for his style. But clearly there is a satisfaction to reading his plots, essentially the same one written again and again, of upward mobility.

* In case you want to know more about who was reading Alger in turn of the century heartland America, there were 1,361 patrons. 45% were blue collar and 55% white collar readers. 27% were female, which would tie into other evidence of his popularity with girls such as a 1899 survey of Californian students. The 665 girls who responded listed Louisa May Alcott as their most often read author, followed by Sophie May, Martha Finley, and Horatio Alger.
emma_in_dream: (Lotr)
Season 1, Episode 2 – An Affirming Flame

Originally aired 9 October 2000

Dylan must protect the Andromeda from the mercenary crew as it is tugged away from the black hole's time-distorting gravity, while Beka and her friends on the Eureka Maru discover they may be fighting for the wrong person.

This episode pretty deftly brings all the main characters together on board the Andromeda. Hunt’s motivations for wanting them are clear – he’s just lost everything and is in massive denial. In order to try to rebuild the Commonwealth, he needs some crew and he must be clinging to the only people he’s met so far.

Trance sees it as an adventure – and, knowing her character arc as I rewatch, I assume she angled for the job with Beka in order to get to this point. Harper points out the luxuries on board the Andromeda and is also, as he says, ‘in love’ with the ship. Beka’s less sure of it, but willing to go along as long as she retains the Maru. Tyr’s motivations are, I think, deliberately not fully addressed in his dialogue with Hunt. It seems plausible that he would want to upgrade from working as a mercenary and the ship certainly offers opportunities he would not otherwise have.

Neatly plotted, all ready to go into the main plot arc in the next episode.
emma_in_dream: (BTTF)
A question for minds with a better grasp of 3D rotation of objects than mine.

Would a couch that is 90cm deep fit and 97 cm high and 155 cm long fit through a 70cm wide door? It seems like it wouldn't but I note our old couch is 80cm deep so it must be possible to do a bit of wiggling. Yet not too much because of the stairwell. But I don't remember bringing it over the back fence which used to be an option but no longer is because of the shed.

Any thoughts?


Jan. 9th, 2017 05:34 pm
emma_in_dream: (Corellia)
We went to the maritime museum in Fremantle on the weekend.

Plus – The girls were very interested and well behaved (though strangely louder than every other child there – I can always tell where my kids are just by cocking an ear to the loudest noise around). We went to the park and had lunch and they played while I read *Treasure Island*.

Minus – Ruby still struggles with walking so far, about two and half kilometres altogether I’d say. She was flagging by the end. And I found carrying all our food and water troublesome, since we can’t eat at cafes. Perhaps a backpack in future.
emma_in_dream: (Leia)
When I arrived at work it was to discover that there was a massive leak in the adjoining office. We’re lucky it’s not us, as the meaning of ‘massive’ is that water leaked all weekend through the roof, through the third floor, through the second floor and onto the ground floor. I don’t know what the ground floor looks like but the second floor had about three inches of water on it when I arrived, plus water flowing down the walls. I expect that an awful lot of electrical equipment is toast. I hope they backed up.

I had a splitting headache all day, as we operated to the sound of industrial vacuum cleaners extracting the most foul brown water from the carpets next door. How I hope they replace those carpets rather than leave them there to inevitably moulder.


Jan. 5th, 2017 05:59 pm
emma_in_dream: (Corellia)
I no longer have pre-primary kids. I now have big, school age kids – Ruby is going into Grade one.

Time to stop and reflect that life is much easier. Things that I no longer have to do – for instance, going out is so much easier. They walk to the car and get in – Pearl does up her seatbelt. Ruby’s hands are not strong enough to buckle herself in but she can unbuckle the belt and also open the door from the outside though not the inside.

Time was when Pearl’s anxiety meant she could not be left in the car so every trip to the petrol station involved unstrapping them, taking them in, shepherding them back and then restrapping them. Time was when her anxiety was so intense that if I walked around the back of the car rather than the front of it where she could see me, she would freak out.

Things are certainly improving greatly and my life is much easier in many ways. Although, conversely, this just frees up time for paid work. But at least that means more money.

I have always felt that having children is a bit like being hit viciously and repeatedly in the face. This is not going to convince the childless that it is great having kids, but to me this is how it feels:

Here is your baby, she is lovely. BLAM – she can’t breathe. Now you can hug her. THWACK – she chokes on the milk, she has no suck reflex. Finally out of hospital? Then WHACK! It’s time to notice she is super floppy and take her around a series of doctors who will pooh-pooh your concerns as those of an over-anxious first time mother until BLAM! They decide it is serious and suggest it might be cerebral palsy.

WHACK! Your child fails to thrive. The doctor describes her legs as wasted. PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH. No one can diagnose her problems. Got that under control? Hours of physio! Because she can’t balance properly, she can’t be toilet trained! PUNCH! Your child is ‘odd’ and not doing well at school.

Parenthood is a long series of happy moments interspersed with being BEATEN at random, unanticipated moments.

I read a thoughtpiece once where a woman said that parenting was like slogging through a leech infested jungle in the rain and every now and then you come into a clearing where the sun shines down and you see butterflies. Then back to the jungle.

For me, there is a lot more of the happy periods but they are certainly interspersed with being punched in the face.
emma_in_dream: (Buffy)
Both Ethel Turner and Louise Mack, another prominent colonial writer, began their publishing careers at Sydney Girls’ High School by establishing their own magazines. Mack edited the school magazine the Gazette, and purportedly rejected several of Turner’s submissions. In response, 17-year-old Turner began her own rival magazine, the Iris, of which she was “editress” with a supporting staff of 10 friends. The magazine included puzzles, riddles, competitions, letters to the editor and notes on tennis matches, as well as Turner’s budding fiction, poetry and essay writing.

Turner claimed that her subsequent lack of success when she attempted to publish her writing with a “real paper” spurred her once again to found her own magazine, but this time with the aid of her sister, Lilian. The Parthenon was first published in January 1889.

The monthly issues ranged from 24 to 32 pages in length. Ethel and Lilian were not only the magazine’s editors, but wrote most of its content under various pseudonyms: Lilian often wrote as “Talking Oak” and Ethel as “Princess Ida”, her name inspired by a Tennyson poem. The magazine sold approximately 1500 copies per month from a print run of 2000, and continued for a little over three years (39 issues), despite the lengthy distraction of a libel case sparked by a children’s word puzzle competition that was launched against Gordon and Gotch.

The healthy subscription numbers and the regular advertising that the Turner sisters
sought out via a canvasser from the likes of National Mutual insurance, Fry’s Cocoa and W.H. Paling’s pianos meant that the magazine was a viable concern from which the editors often drew an income.
emma_in_dream: (bucky)
I read 139 books, of which 70 were new to me (so about half).

52 were non fiction, 13 were short story anthologies, 4 were collections of poetry, 8 were books about art (so I guess really 58 non fiction) and 6 were graphic novels. The remaining 56 were novels.

And here are the dates of publication for the post-19th century works...

1910s – 2

1920s – 5

1930s – 13

1940s – 3

1950s – 16

1960s - 7

1970s – 6

1980s – 8

1990s – 10

2000s – 14

2010s – 46

I am pretty sure the same increase in 1950s publications after the low of the 1940s is something I've seen before. I guess the paper and other shortages meant a lot of books were set to one side until after the war for publication.

2016 sum up

Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:33 pm
emma_in_dream: (Henry Moore)
1.What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Experienced a massive, global lurch to the right.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Ate a few more fruit and vegetables.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, because I am in my 40s.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Several friends' relatives, lots of celebrities.

5. What countries did you visit?
Nowhere, but I continue to slowly save for a holiday abroad with the children in a few years time. Yes, yes!

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Balance. Money. Calm.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The election of Trump on 9/11.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Continuing to have a job amidst my terrible work situation. Steering Ruby through another year without contact with gluten. Soldiering on while my mother was in hospital and my dad was in hospital and my kids were sick.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Remaining calm. Disciplining my children.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Headaches due to stress.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Mr Gold the gold fish, I guess. First step towards getting a bunny

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My friends.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Jesus, the lurch to the right. In the past I had thought that perhaps some people might disagree with me for, you know, reasons LIke they wanted to reduce Government or be hawkish overseas. But Trump ran on a platform of naked racism and sexism with nothing else. And that was enough to get him the win. So now I know that that's what people mean when they are conservatives - naked racism, sexism and hatred.

It has caused me to actually re-evaluate my understanding of human nature. I know there have been periods when people have randomly leapt to the right, usually under economic stress, but I haven't had to live through Brexit and Trump before.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The mortgage. Food.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Captain America was my escape from a tiresome reality.

16. What songs will always remind you of 2015?
Postmodern Jukebox.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Same.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter (comfort eating).
c) richer or poorer? Same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Time alone.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Ridiculous stressing over work. Being ordered to do ridiculous things at work, in defiance of all sense or reason.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas with my family, enjoying the girls’ excitement.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
No-one new.

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favourite TV program?
I finished rewatching Highlander and I've started rewatching Andromeda.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
Something by EDEN Southwell.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Postmodern Jukebox.

27. What did you want and get?
Time to relax.

28. What did you want and not get?
I find being an introvert who is constantly surrounded by others very draining.

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
Sing! Zootopia.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
No celebrations as it came in the middle of virtually every member of my family being hospitalised.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Hahahahahaahaha. Weeps.

33. What kept you sane?
Fanfiction. Hugs from my kids. Necessity.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I genuinely liked Hilary Clinton, and I despise the way she is being blamed for the lose. I don't think Sanders could have won. I think that if Clinton was a man she would have had it in the bag, and that people are blaming her for the fact that so many folks are unwilling to vote for a well informed, intelligent, prepared woman.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Brexit. Trump.

36. Who did you miss?
Friends I didn’t spend enough time with.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Well, there's a lot of churn at work. Laughs hysterically.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
We must get through the rough patches as easily as possible.
emma_in_dream: (Corellia)
I am doing a picture book challenge in 2017, so here's our first review.

*The Lorax* by Dr Seuss is one of my daughter's favourite books so I have read it many dozen times and some of the phrases have entered our conversation. 'Would you like to play under the trees in your barbaloot suits?'

Here is a review by my six year old:

I don't know why I like it, I just do.

Maybe it is because the Lorax speaks for nature.

And I like imagining what happens to the trees at the end because it does not tell you.

And here is an additional comment from me, as a forty five year old:

Does the Onceler actually repent? He spends the time after the Lorax leaves allegedly pondering the meaning of the phrase 'Unless'. But he also canonically spends his time lurking and making himself a gruvulous glove (sounds like a thneed to me!) and demanding money in return for information. He doesn't spend any time trying to fix the mess he got into, but handballs it to others. Repented? Not sure.
emma_in_dream: (obbit)
I have seen two challenges I will participate in next year.

I do a lot of Victorian reading anyway. Even in this bad year I read and reviewed six Victorian works.


And I am hoping to share this one with my kids:

emma_in_dream: (obbit)
This is the most schmaltzy story, the very epitome of Victorian mawkishness. It features the blind daughter of a toymaker who has been misled by her father her whole life as to her surroundings. Although she lives in a hovel and her father works for a harsh man, he tells her that they have a lovely house and that their grim master is always winking and nodding as he says mock harsh things.

I always have this balancing act with Dickens – he is such a good writer that I get suckered in to his stories and then the second I stop reading I fall about laughing at the ridiculously over the top sentimentality of it. I have to whisper that I feel the same way about the Christmas movie *Love Actually*.


Dec. 19th, 2016 06:02 pm
emma_in_dream: (Singin')
The good news – I have finally got the syphon to work so I can clean Mr Gold’s tank properly.

The bad news – I had to suck the water through the tube to start it which is just gross because Mr Gold pees in that water.
emma_in_dream: (steve)
Ethel Turner was promoted as the Louisa May Alcott of the South. This is unsurprising, given the obvious parallels between the Woolcott family and Alcott’s creations. There’s flighty, feminine Meg March and Meg Woolcott who is also on the road to matrimony and motherhood. Jo March is the wild harum scarum child, mirrored by Judy Woolcott. Amy March’s vanity matches Nel Woolcott’s. The main difference is, of course, there is no saintly Beth figure to die in *Seven Little Australians*.
emma_in_dream: (Lotr)
“Though now children’s books come yearly in hundreds, Mrs. Molesworth’s books have not been superseded, and very likely never will be” (The Times 22 Jul. 1921).


Dec. 12th, 2016 05:59 pm
emma_in_dream: (Sound of Music)
Pearl: What is a rabbi?

Me: A Jewish religious leader.

Pearl: Huh…. The sentence is: ‘She needed a Rabbi shot’.

Me: Right, rabies would be a different thing.
emma_in_dream: (obbit)
A letter to the editor in an 1873 magazine reported the sighting of a fancy dining railroad car in Cleveland, called the FANNY FERN. The conductor who had sighted it wrote 'as I looked at it, the many truths she has written came to my mind, and I said to myself, Fanny Fern's name is one that will be remembered as long as memory lasts'.

And sadly I had not heard of her, though she has had an afterlife of sorts, including a 2005 opera of her life titled A.F.R.A.I.D. (American Females for Righteousness Abasement Ignorance & Docillity).

But she is well worth reading.

Fanny Fern was the pseudonym of Sarah Willis Parton who began writing to support herself after the death of her first husband. Nightmarishly, she lost her husband, mother and eldest child in two years, and was left a widow with two young children. Her parents refused to support her, arguing that she was the responsibility of her husband’s family. Her in-laws also refused to support her financially, as did her extremely well off brother.

She began writing for the newspapers in desperation, as the usual sources of support for a middle class woman of the time had failed her. (It should be noted that her brother was an editor who could have helped her out in this career but chose not to.)

She wrote in a lively, conversational manner about matters of interest to women – fashion, courting, marriage, children – and she was very popular She wrote as a nineteenth-century feminist and supported women’s rights to divorce, to have guardianship of their children, opposed wife beating, and supported the right to vote. She was keen on prison reform and also that big nineteenth-century thing where they took kids out of the slums on the east coast and sent them out as free labour to the frontier. Which presumably seemed like a good idea at the time though it just looks like the stolen generation to me.

In 1855, the already-famous Fanny Fern began writing for Robert Bonner’s New York Ledger at the unheard-of (and highly publicized) rate of $100 per column of type. Within a year, the Ledger’s circulation had increased by 100,000 subscribers and had become the highest-circulating periodical to that point in American history. Fern’s column ran weekly, without a single interruption, until her death in1872.

Her collected articles were printed as books, beginning with *Fern Leaves from Fanny's Portfolio* in 1853 and ending with *Caper Sauce* in 1872. However, her personal life continued to be rocky, as she divorced her second husband in 1853. She married a third time in 1856, to a man a decade her junior who agreed to sign a contract accepting that her personal property and income would remain hers alone.

Fern wrote only a handful of novels, and the most popular was *Ruth Hall* (1854), an extremely thinly veiled autobiography in which Fern got her revenge on her family and her in-laws by describing the events of her life in fiction. Her in-laws were portrayed as moustache-twirlingly evil. Her brother became Hyacinth Hall, and calling him Hyacinth was practically a revenge in itself. She published them under the name Fern but those in the know immediately identified who she was writing about, which really seems to serve them right.

*Ruth Hall* isn’t a brilliant work, except for the visceral hatred that it expresses for her in-laws who are described as selfish, penny-pinching, ignorant, unkempt, sanctimonious, lying, prying, bullying, child-stealing, physically abusive villains who are also entirely physically repulsive and slightly greasy. Her father and brother-in-law come off relatively lightly in comparison, being described as merely cold, stupid, selfish and vain. I have to turn to Dickens to find characters that are equally repulsive, and even then it’s not Fagin who, despite his greasy nastiness at least provides Oliver with some sausages and a roof over his head. The only comparably villainous nineteenth-century characters I can think are at the Bill Sykes level of total evil.

In short, Fern got her revenge both through a life well lived and also by naming and shaming her family in the most public of ways.
emma_in_dream: (Brookes)
Naomi Novik Termeraire 2006

Mary Gabriel Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution 2011

Paul Jenkins Captain America: Theater of War

Laurie King Dreaming Spies 2015

Robert Holden and Jane Brummitt May Gibbs: More than a Fairy Tale 2011

Matteo Pericoli London for Children 2008

Ashley Ormond How to Give Your Kids $1 Million Each! (And It Won't Cost You a Cent!) 2006

Family Guide London: Where to Play, What to See, Where to Stay 2016

Carolyn Schonafinger Europe with Kids: How to Travel Europe the Easy Way 2012

William Gray Travel with Kids 2016

Mary Grant Bruce A Little Bush Maid 1910


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