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This may or may not be indicative

But my friends list has certainly picked up, and I haven't even friended anyone new. People are just posting more, it seems.

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We hadn't intended to get a tree at all this year, because we're going to be out of town on Christmas, visiting Kathy's mother. Then we thought maybe we'd get a potted tree, but the only ones we could find were either really teeny, or too large to fit in the car. So after wandering around the lot for a bit and looking at all the lovely trees that we Definitely Weren't Getting, and talking about how we were only going to be gone for four days, and we would of course leave the lights off and make sure the stand was full of water, we ended up getting one.

And by "we" I mean "I," because Kathy would have gone along with any of the options. Decorating the tree is one of my favorite things about Christmas. For the last few years, we'd make a day of it, and have Mom over for lunch while we decorated. We'd watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch (Chuck Jones, accept no substitutes) and go through the ornaments, trying to decide which ones to use this year. (While we don't hold a candle to [profile] fontfolly in terms of Christmas prep, we do have more ornaments than will fit on a tree of the size which will comfortably fit in our living room.) A lot of them are ones we've bought for ourselves over the years, but some of them go back to our respective childhoods – ornaments from my mother and her mother, and ornaments from Kathy's mother.

I am glad we got a tree, and sad that Mom won't be here to participate in the decorating. But I hope that when we put up the decorations that I got from her, it will feel, in a small way, as if she's still with us in spirit.

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Tumblr Update

All the posts I submitted for review have been un-flagged. Unfortunately, the emails I received about it have no return address to ask about unflagging the whole journal. Ugh.

I'm going to plow through as many of my own posts as possible and submit them for review, and contact as many of the old editors as possible to see if they can do some of theirs -- feliciacraft and waddiwasiwitch are still around, I know; not certain about anyone else. What an enormous pain.

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Tumblr melts down

Well! So awhile ago, Apple took the Tumblr app off its site Because Child Porn. Tumblr panicked, and has now banned "adult content" entirely. "Adult Content" being limited, apparently, to nekkid pictures where you can see tits or naughty bits. Except that the algorithms they have to detect adult content are wildly, wildly wonky, and perfectly innocent posts are being flagged for removal, while rauchy porny posts sail by undetected. To give you an idea, every single Sunnydale Herald post appears to have been flagged. We do have a few links to naughty fan art, but no images in the posts themselves.

Should be interesting. Honestly, I hope they don't fix it. Then fandom can finally move on to someplace where you can have a conversation with threaded comments again. Sadly I don't think DW is going to be that place, given its crappy image hosting and ancient code base, but if Pillowfort can get itself up and out of beta in time to catch the wave...

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Once more into the breach

Today I put the last of Mom's china up on Ebay -- if it doesn't sell, off it goes to the consignment store. Or maybe Goodwill, if I'm feeling lazy.

While I was unpacking things to take photos for the Ebay listings, I found this. It's a child's plate that my grandfather found in the wreckage of San Francisco in 1906, after the earthquake and subsequent fires. (He was in the Navy -- not sure if he was on duty at that point or not.) It's got the alphabet embossed around the rim, and you can just barely make out that the picture on it was of a child doing... something. It's kind of cool to have a piece of history like that.

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I have a bladder infection and it's super annoying and I got antibiotics for it today and they gave me a flu shot and now my arm hurts and my feet are cold which has nothing to do with the flu shot or the infection, once it drops below 75 my feet are always cold and the weather people say it's going to drop down into the SIXTIES in a day or two and I still have to clean the damn litter box and I have no idea if I can scrape anything together for the last free day of Seasonal Spuffy and it's the first anniversary of Mom's death in a few weeks and I am being determinedly Not Sad because I don't want to not enjoy the holidays and UGH.

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Seasonal Spuffy offering is up here.

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Doctor Who

Backyard Archeology

We went to see Crimes of Grindelwald Saturday, and while it was moderately enjoyable in parts, it was definitely not in the class of the first movie.

This morning I went out to the back yard to dig a hole to plant the sugar cane. About a foot or so down, I struck the corner of a big hunk of concrete. It was too far down to be left over from our recent fence construction, and I was curious, so I dug the whole thing out. It was a fence footing; there was the rusted remains of a metal post in the middle. It was outside the fence line that existed when we bought the house; Kathy suggested that it might have been a fence around the long-dry-and-capped-off well on that corner of the yard.

The interesting thing, though, was that once I'd dug out the concrete, I found something underneath it. This bottle was buried upside down in the dirt, placed precisely so the end of the metal pole would have stood on it, as if upon a pedestal. I'm lucky that I didn't accidentally hit it with the shovel and break it. It must have been done deliberately – possibly to hold the end of the pole up off the bottom of the original hole, so that cement could get underneath it when poured? I don't know. It's not an especially old or valuable bottle (given the age of the house, I think it would date, at the earliest, to the 60s). But the knowledge that there could be small secrets hidden in any random patch of soil is a strange and wonderful thing.

I spent some time this weekend doing digging of another kind. Over at seasonal_spuffy there was a post asking people who'd participated in the first round back in 2005 to share their memories. So I went back into my journal archives to hunt for any relevant posts I could link to, and I ended up skimming through a bunch of old entries from late 2005 through mid-2007. It was a nostalgic treat to see so many old names who've long since left fandom, and sad at the same time. There were several notable fandom kerfuffles in that time period: the Cousin Jean thing, the fall_for_spike brouhaha (which led directly to the founding of seasonal_spuffy) and a lot of other, smaller squabbles, many of which I'd entirely forgotten.

It was strange reading my old posts. My writing style was a good deal more performative in those days; reading them, I feel as if I'm reading someone who's desperate to impress people with how witty she is. (Which I was. And still am, alas.) Occasionally I ran across things that made me cringe; did I really say that? But at the same time, I envy that old me her willingness to engage in debate. (Even, ironically, as she professed herself to be too worn out on fannish debate to indulge. Ha, Younger!Barb had no idea.) I stopped reading at about the point that the first issues of Buffy S8 were published; it's at that point that Spuffy fandom started to gradually become rancorous again, as people disagreed about the comics, and I didn't feel like revisiting that particular era.

(It's not that 2004-2006 were completely free of fannish conflict; as I said, there were several notable wanks during that period. But 2007-2010 was more of an eat-your-own period.)

Even in the posts I read, I noticed the beginnings of a few conflicts that came to a head later. For one thing, you can gradually see the political polarization of fandom growing. Prior to the 2004 election, I can't remember politics ever coming up in fannish space. But the huge anti-gay political backlash of 2004 brought politics into fandom with a vengeance. Buffy fandom skewed liberal, as one might imagine – indeed, I'm really not sure why the show would appeal to most social conservatives. Though I certainly knew my share of conservative fannish women who thought homosexuality was a sin in the real world, but nevertheless read and wrote reams of porny male/male slash fiction. A number of my own readers were against civil rights for same sex couples; they didn't like it when I pointed out that if they were willing to consume my fan fiction and exchange friendly comments with me, while at the same time voting to keep me a second class citizen, they were not really my friends – that a polite homophobe was still a homophobe.

By 2006, the conservative fans were complaining that liberal fans were oppressing them. (The precise form of this oppression was never very clear.) By 2008, IIRC, the most vocal conservative BtVS fans had closed their journals in a huff. Of course, Strikethrough happened in 2007, and a lot of people closed their journals in a huff. I think the last big argument along those lines happened in 2009, when Aadler objected to the presence of slash programming at Writercon 2009.

The roots of some more personal kerfuffles were there, too. One was a person who disagreed with everything I wrote – they claimed to be a Spike fan, but I honestly can't remember them ever saying anything positive about the character, ever. We'd become acquainted at the Tea At The Ford forum, but never friended each other on LJ. Nevertheless, any time I posted meta, they felt the need to come over to my journal and tell me in great detail just how wrong I was. I had long since decided that there was zero point in arguing with them, because our premises were incompatible. But in those days I strove to respond politely to everyone who commenting in my journal, so there are quite a few long comment strings of us going back and forth. Eventually, IIRC, they compared my fan fiction to Silas Marner, while admitting they hadn't actually read any of it, (my fanfic, that is, not Silas Marner) and that made me cranky enough that I stopped responding to them.

Another one was a person who was a Buffy/Spike fan, but they only liked the dark, dysfunctional S6 part of the relationship. They were very grouchy about Spike having been redeemed in canon, and even grouchier about the fact that the vast majority of Spuffy writers preferred to write the pairing as more or less functional. To this day I have no idea why they were hanging around my journal (like Person #1, they never friended me, just popped in occasionally to comment on posts they disagreed with.) Eventually, IIRC, I made some sort of grumpy post about something in canon I disliked; I don't even remember if it was about the comics, or Seasons6-/7, or what. But they responded, telling me that if I didn't like canon, I should leave the fandom.

Looking at it now, that was a pretty ridiculous thing for them to say, considering how much they themselves disliked the fact that S7 Spuffy wasn't a total trainwreck. I could have just laughed it off. But they caught me in a bad mood, and I was tired of them coming to my journal just to tell me that they didn't like my fic and thought my meta was dumb, so I snapped at them. I don't remember if I outright told them to stop commenting on my journal, or if I just asked them why the hell they were reading me when they disliked everything I wrote. Either way, they were highly insulted, called me a bully or something similar, and stomped off in a huff. I never heard from them again.

There were much rider-ranging kerfuffles that came later, towards the end of S8, which culminated in me bowing out of the fandom entirely for awhile. But reading these old posts and seeing the first stirrings of these smaller arguments felt like signs of things to come, signs I should have taken heed of. I always like to think of myself as a reasonable person who can get on with most people, even the ones I disagreed with. Someone who can handle criticism. But a lot of the time, I fail in that. Which is depressing.

But all one can do is try to do better next time. That's all any of us can do, really.

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