Happy Metamour Appreciation Day, JTA

Apparently the NCSF (US) are typing to make 28 February into Metamour Day: a celebration of one’s lover’s lovers. While I’m not convinced that’ll ever get Hallmark’s interest, I thought it provided a good opportunity to sing the praises of my metamour, JTA.

JTA and Annabel looking into a cabinet at the British Museum.
This is a man who knows how to use Greek myths and legends to add magic to his daughter’s museum visit.

I first met JTA 15 years ago at Troma Night XX, when his girlfriend Ruth – an attendee of Troma Night since its earliest days the previous year – brought him along and we all mocked his three-letter initialism. Contrary to our previous experience, thanks to Liz, of people bringing boyfriends once but never again (we always assumed that we scared them off), JTA became a regular, even getting to relive some of the early nights that he’d missed in our nostalgic 50th event. Before long, I felt glad to count him among my friends.

We wouldn’t become metamours until 3½ years later when a double-date trip to the Edinburgh Fringe turned into a series of (alcohol-assisted) confessions of nonmonagamous attractions between people present and a the ocassionally-controversial relationships that developed as a result. Polyamory has grown to get a lot more media coverage and general acceptance over the last couple of decades, but those of us in these kinds of relationships still face challenges, and during the times that bigots have made it hardest for us – and one period in 2017 in particular – I’ve been so very glad to have JTA in my corner.

JTA delivering the 2018 Three Rings Christmas Quiz.
Three Rings’ Quizmaster General at work.

Almost 13 years ago I described JTA thusly, and I stand by it:

You have a fantastic temper which you keep carefully bottled away and of which you draw out only a little at a time and only where it is genuinely justly deserved. Conversely, your devotion to the things you love and care about is equally inspiring.

But beyond that, he’s a resourceful jury-rigger, a competent oarsman, and a man who knows when it’s time to throw a hobbit into the darkness. He’s a man who’ll sit in the pub and talk My Little Pony with me and who’ll laugh it off when he gets mistaken for my father.

We’d be friends anyway, but having a partner-in-common has given us the opportunity for a closer relationship still. I love you, man: y’know, in the Greek way. Happy metamour appreciation day.

To Protect Migrants From Police, a Dutch Church Service Never Ends

This article is a repost promoting content originally published elsewhere. See more things Dan's reposted.

…[A] marathon church service, which started more than six weeks ago, and hasn’t stopped since, can never take a break.

Under an obscure Dutch law, the police may not disrupt a church service to make an arrest. And so for the past six weeks, immigration officials have been unable to enter Bethel Church to seize the five members of the Tamrazyan family, Armenian refugees who fled to the sanctuary to escape a deportation order.

The service, which began in late October as a little-noticed, last-gasp measure by a small group of local ministers, is now a national movement, attracting clergy members and congregants from villages and cities across the Netherlands. More than 550 pastors from about 20 denominations have rotated through Bethel Church, a nonstop service all in the name of protecting one vulnerable family.

Beautiful story of the Dutch church that’s been running a non-stop service (with over 500 pastors from various denominations contributing in shifts) for six weeks and counting in order to protect from deportation a family who’ve been taking refuge inside. The whole piece is well worth your time to read, but aside from the general joy and good feels that fill it, I was also impressed by how widely it’s inspired preachers to try things that are a little different:

Some preachers simply reuse services and sermons they gave at other churches. But others have used the opportunity to try something new, turning the church into a kind of greenhouse for liturgical experiments.

Ms. Israel read from a modern reinterpretation of the biblical story of King David and his wife Bathsheba, told from Bathsheba’s perspective. One minister incorporated meditative song into her service, and another interspersed prayers and hymns with sermons from Martin Luther King Jr. During one all-nighter, Mr. Stegeman even brought along a harpist.

Of course, let’s not forget that this is another one of those happy-news-stories-with-an-underlying-sad-story. Given that the family in question, according to the article, have successfully appealed against their deportation twice, and furthermore the duration of their stay so far should at least grant the children amnesty under Dutch law, it sounds like their deportation shouldn’t really be happening in the first place! It’s great that a community has come together to protect them, but wouldn’t a better happy story be if the country that’s supposed to be protecting them were doing so, instead, so that the community didn’t have to?

Still; a little cheer there, at least.

Emails to Melbourne’s trees

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Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writing love letters, existential queries and sometimes just bad puns.

In an effort to facilitate better tracking of the health of their trees, the city of Melbourne assigned an email address to each of them and allowed them to be looked-up using a map. The thinking was that people could email if a tree needed attention by the council, and the human that processed the email would automatically be able to determine the location of the plant.

But people started emailing the trees themselves. And not just people who’d seen them in person: people from all over the world. From “You are just outside my work and you make me happy :)” to “I love the way the light looks through your leaves and how your branches come down so low and wide it is almost as if you are trying to hug me. It is nice to have you so close, I should try to visit more often.” Delightful.

Tim Ferriss is wrong — no, maybe he’s right!

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Tim Ferriss is wrong -- no, maybe he's right! (changingminds.org)

There is an American principle that success is more about what you are making than what you are worth, and even less about being able to stop working. This is a brilliant cultural driver for a strong economy as it celebrates working billionaires. In Britain, the dream is more about making money then cashing in and going to sit on a beach somewhere. Maybe there is also a third way where, when you no longer worry about where the next meal is coming from or you family is reasonably secure, you then turn down the money-making drive to ‘maintenance’ mode, ease off on stress, and put your energies into what you like rather than what you must.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In Defense Of A Boring, Comfortable Life

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They call it “the easy life” for a reason.

I got my degree from a small, public college in upstate New York.

People went there, got their degrees and then went off to have quiet and sometimes boring lives. Although a degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) system is a valuable commodity outside of New York, when you’re surrounded by hundreds of thousands of graduates in your home state, it doesn’t get you very far. And for most of the people who got a degree from my school, and others like it, that was OK by them. A comfortable, unadventurous life was something they wanted. In part, that’s why they went to a state school in the first place. As SUNY Potsdam will tell anyone who asks, most of their students come from within a two- to three-hour driving distance because they want to be close to home…

I just had the most awesome day. Just wanted to share with you guys.

This self-post was originally posted to /r/MegaLoungeVI. See more things from Dan's Reddit account.

[this was originally posted to a private subreddit]

So I just had an amazing day. Let me tell you about it:

  • Doughnuts: There were doughnuts left in my office. Free doughnuts are the best doughnuts.
  • Victory: After three years of bureaucracy, a couple of years of fighting, months of planning, and weeks of testing, I’ve finally finished a project I assigned myself shortly after I started my job: upgrading our web servers to modern, powerful ones. It may not sound like much, but when you’re working against hundreds of years worth of academic red tape in a very traditional institution, this is a great victory.
  • Car: I finished making arrangements for my family and I to get our new car: orders have just gone to the factory now, and it should be built for us by early November.
  • Dating: At lunchtime, I went out for a drink with a lovely lady I’ve been dating recently, and we had a wonderful time. Her kid just started school and this – coupled with her imminent house move (just as soon as she and her husband can find somebody to buy their flat!) – are likely to eventually mean that we can see more of one another (right now we only see one another about once a fortnight).
  • Cycling: Cycling home on a beautiful clear evening, Grooveshark pretty much read my mind and played exactly the music that I felt like I needed to celebrate such a fabulous day. I made great time… and as I bombed down the final streets back to my house, I did so to the sounds of Queen’s Driven By You, which was exactly what I needed.
  • Others: I got home to find that everybody else had had a great day too: my partner had just had her first half-day back at work after her maternity leave, and it had gone very well, her husband had been commended for his pioneering social media work at his workplace, and even the baby was happy and cheery (despite having skipped a nap).

So yeah – I had a flipping marvellous day. And my first thought upon getting home (and grabbing a celebratory beer) was to tell the awesome people of /r/MegaLoungeVI about it. Hi, guys! How’s your week going so far?

Claire’s Back

=o)

Last night was fun. After spending most of a day hacking into the BBC’s weather centre (I wanted a weather forecast XML stream, but couldn’t find a free one, so with Kit’s help I stole one instead), he, Claire (recently returned) and I went down to the beach after midnight with a bottle of Caern O’Moor Bramble Wine and enjoyed the first cool air the town has seen in most of a week.

I had a wierd dream last night. Apparently, so did Kit. Must’ve been something in the wine.