Apr. 19th, 2017

via http://ift.tt/2pyiCMc:fluffywinged replied to your post “stripped-to-glimpses replied to your post “i am so bad at being sick….”

I know this feeling all too well. I had to call in sick today as I have a chest infection but I still feel guilty. Doesn’t help that my boss is the type who takes work & checks emails on holiday which I personally think is ridiculous but then I worry it makes the rest of us look lazy… ugh. ‘Presenteeism’ can be so toxic.

oh that’s a good word, “presenteeism”– ugh! It benefits no one.

This same coworker, when he goes on vacation I gotta cover for him, which, fine, whatever, but he explained that part of what he does is log in from home to our Amazon and eBay accounts and answer correspondence and questions and change prices and things, and he was like, you have to do this from home on Sunday night, and it’s like, more than an hour’s worth of work most times, and there’s no way to clock in for it or be paid for it, and I was shocked and said “but that’s illegal!” and he was like, there’s no other way to do it though, so I mean, it’s not a big deal, you just do it, and I did it but under protest. Because really? Fucking really. 

I mean, he’s salaried, so I guess it really doesn’t matter for him, whatever. But this is the place where I finally got my first raise in many many years because state law had brought minimum wage up to almost equal the wage I’d gotten a “raise” to seven years before (and in the interim, my then-supervisor told me I didn’t need a raise because I had a “sugar daddy”, which made me so furious I almost quit on the spot except for the fact that I actually couldn’t afford to– he was referring to the boyfriend who’s now a software engineer but who I put through college thanks very much), so now I would be making the same as people who had just started, and so I told them I’d quit. 

So… now I make the same amount I’ve seen advertised on the windows of fast-food places as a starting wage, but I mean. At least it’s not fast food. 

However, fast food wouldn’t ask me to work off the clock.
via http://ift.tt/2ol5S84:icantbearsedtothinkofone replied to your post “I’m at a weird cross-point in writing at the moment where I’m super…”

It doesn’t let me kudos more than once, so I do try to comment on things but somettimes I get anxious about my stupid comments so I, er, don’t. Sorry? (can you see why I hardly ever post anything I write, other than the fact that it’s all shit?)

Aw no I do appreciate comments a ton, and never fear about the content of them, for reals, but I was counting kudos for stats purposes precisely because it doesn’t let you do it more than once, so like, it evens things out like for multi-chapter works and such as well. If you have something that you update four or five times, readers will come back (ideally!) four or five times, and if you have an older work that someone might have reread, that’s all going to show more traffic to the fic and make it harder to compare to a new one. 

Of course that means rereads don’t get counted, and those are important I think but impossible to quantify. I recently did have a spate of comments on some older works that were all a person commenting simply “comment for extra kudos on rereading!” which was extremely sweet and I did enjoy, but I certainly don’t expect that.

No no no, I complain far too much about my lack of readership for someone who never self-promos and mostly doesn’t even read other people’s shit. I’m terrible at the sort of community-building things that are an important part of building readership and the like. I’m just a whiner, really. 

And I love comments, but I’m an awful commenter, myself, so I completely understand when other people don’t leave them. I treasure them but I’d be crazy to whine about that. 

I do worry that I’ve offended people or upset them or whatever, if they read and don’t kudos, but I tell myself it’s all people who are like ‘oh this is long’ or ‘whoops this isn’t the fic i thought it was, i clicked the wrong link’ or ‘oh my browser crashed and i had to reload a bunch of times before i read this’– there are a lot of reasons why your stats would register a hit. ‘I reread this eighty times because it speaks to my Soul’ is another perfectly acceptable reason. :) 

I’m not seriously trying to passive-aggressive my way to better readership. I was being honest: it’s dark and it’s lonely and I’m trying to cheer myself up, since I don’t seem to be doing anything sensible about it. 
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sugarspiceandcursewords:

I am traveling for work and naturally the stomach bug that hit my kids over the weekend caught up to me today. I feel all kinds of awesome all holed up in my hotel room right now. I got through my meeting, at least, and as a reward I bought myself this excellent set from a colleague who stalks Lego deals and resells discounted sets. (So basically I spent the per-diem money that I would have spent on food today, if food did not currently sound like a terrrible idea.)

Mostly, though, I post this in order to say: Look, @bomberqueen17! Goss Toowers is a Lego figure!

Is that really Goss! I got him from Wookieepedia, read the summary and then made up literally everything else! I can’t read the text or really see him, is he weird and turtley?? (Even if he’s not, that’s still pretty cool.)

oh man my sister with the sons is moving closer at the end of the summer (they showed their house twice and got an offer the first week it was listed! super exciting but it was a really low offer so who even knows, real estate is a mystery, she was like goddamn if I never have to clean it to show it again I’ll sell it for a book of goddamn matches and some paper airplanes, I don’t even care, but of course that is not true because she has to buy a new house) and I’m totally going to get to visit more and play with their Lego. I’m super pumped. 

I hope you feel better soon. Flat Coke is my super anti-nausea tip, but like, you gotta take it real slow. Stir it vigorously and let it get room temperature, and then take like, the tiniest mouthful– I know that sounds disgusting but I swear to you, it is The Thing, the little bit of sugar gets absorbed like right away so even if it doesn’t stay down, it makes you a little stronger. Flat ginger ale is okay too but I know a lot of women who’ve lived through pregnancies go right off ginger for the rest of their lives. I can take it or leave it, but Coke never lets me down and bonus, keeps the coffee withdrawal at bay. 
via http://ift.tt/2oqErZC:magickedteacup replied to your post “fluffywinged replied to your post “stripped-to-glimpses replied to…”

“Sugar daddy” … That’s fucked up :[

I! Was! So! Mad! 

Legally I could have sued him but I mean, it’d be his word against mine, and what good would that do? It’s not like my coworkers would have supported me in rocking the boat. People don’t like boats to get rocked. 

I get this from other people too. People usually don’t say it. But it’s worse, now, too, because– so, I put Dude through his last year of college and paid off his first car mostly on my credit cards. So as soon as, several years later, I managed to pay them off (which I did myself, thanks, he was still working shit jobs then and so was I but I worked more hours [high five emoji]), I resolved not to have debt anymore, so I don’t really use credit cards, I just have a debit card.

He has a credit card because it gives him points and cashback stuff and the like. So he uses the card whenever we jointly buy anything (dinner, gas, fun stuff, whatever). 

It’s paid out of our joint account. Yes, he earns– well, currently, since I’m part-time a volunteer, he literally earns nine times what I do, but we both deposit our paychecks in there, and when that account was opened most of the money in it was mine! 

But people #1 know I make nothing, #2 know he makes reasonable money because he’s a software engineer and that’s generally a well-paid field (though not necessarily!), and #3 see us out together and he always picks up the tab, and just assume.

But I worked my ass off for the first seven or eight years of this relationship. Which, by the way, I don’t really recommend; Middle-Little did the same for her boyfriend only for him to leave her after many years and tens of thousands of dollars, for a girl the age she’d been when he’d started dating her. Boys are not a great investment. 

But in my case, sure, it worked out well. My investment has paid off. But it’s super fucking gross to erase my investment. And super gross to reduce my contribution to the relationship like that. 

That boss, though. I’m pretty sure he figured I was a whore since I wasn’t married. He also assumed I hated kids since I didn’t have any. He was A Joy.
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thesmilingfish:

bomberqueen17 answered your question “Question. I have a headache and want to take a couple ibuprofin but…”

webMD says yes: guaifenisin and dextromethorphan, which are in Mucinex, do not conflict with acetominophen or ibuprofen. I’d link you the answer but URLs don’t work in these. The cough syrup probably does have ingredients that might conflict w/ Mucx!

Thank you. I’ve been all over the place today and I’m having trouble concentrating.  I only got about ah hours sleep at a time last night. I tried vacuuming and doing some light chores but that was a VERY bad idea. I just have stuff to do darn it.

Anyway, thanks again.

I hope you feel better! Oh, I totally didn’t mean to imply that you ought to have Googled it yourself– if I were sick I wouldn’t want to be Googling shit I can barely spell either! No way man. I got you fam. Here’s a link, though, to the answer I found, with more information. 

Different drugs eff with people in all different ways. Mucinex has guaifenesin, which is my #1 favorite thing for colds– it’s a mucous thinner, and so it helps with both head colds and chest colds, in making the mucous easier to keep moving.

A version of Mucinex also has dextromethorphan in it, though, which is a cough suppressant– it acts on your actual brain, making you less likely to have the cough reflex. Which is great, in some cases, but I know it sometimes makes me loopy as fuck, and some of my friends get super fucking high from it, and not in a pleasant way. If you’re having light-headedness issues, it is almost certainly the DM that’s doing it. That’s the one that can also combine with other stuff in real bad ways, though it looks like formally speaking there are only a few prescription medicines it’ll hurt you if you combine it with.

In general, though, ibuprofen is pretty innocuous and doesn’t interact with other medications badly. It is hard on your kidneys, so if you have any kidney issues, permanent or temporary, it’s best to skip it– and in sustained or high doses, it’s bad for your stomach, and will give you tummyaches something fierce. But it’s my favorite painkiller because it’s such a good anti-inflammatory; I take it for any kind of tissue damage or inflammation-related pain. 

tl;dr i hope you can sleep and feel better, that sounds just miserable. :(
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in-a-trans-like-state reblogged your photo and added:

As an Australian I find this post extremely assuming in a similar way to those ‘I forgot what stingrays were called and named them sea pancakes” posts

We call them Hills Hoists and they are So common here that they are both a visual metaphor for Aussie Suburbia and according to wikipedia was named a National Treasure. I have several memories of my dad spotting on in a friends garden and solemnly nodding “Ah a hills hoist, when I was a kid…” as well as them showing up on lists of stereotypical Aussie things we were shown in Primary school; Vegemite, Kangaroos, Pavlova, Kolas, Hills Hoists

#I’m not laughing at OP#i just find it funny#that something ive been repeatedly told is#so aussie is completely unknown overseas and mentioned as a slightly bizarre thing with no mention of australia#also i would not be surprised if the aussie legacy was completely made up by pop culture here#apparently we invented them#but technically hills hoist is a brand name made generic so its possible its just the brand was aussie

I had never heard of this type of laundry line being particularly Australian, as it happens! Nor have I heard of that brand name. Wikipedia backs you up though.  

I grew up with a big family so we had one of these-style clotheslines, and also the more typical long-rope-on-a-pulley-between-two-posts style. Those are what you see in old movies about the prarie, but are less common here– to use them really effectively, you have them on a slope so the far end goes way out over a long drop, and also you need these specialized little spacers, long c-shaped brackets with a little wheel just inside each curve, so that you clip them on the line and they roll along keeping the upper and lower line from sagging apart. Then you hang laundry on the lower line, and wheel it out on the pulley so you stand in one spot and it goes out to hang freely on the hillside? There’s one I pass at 80 mph on the Thruway every time I make the drive to the farm or back, it’s off a second-storey deck of a farmhouse, and goes a good 100 feet up a hill to a giant pole, and the farmer uses it in all seasons, and it always lifts my spirits a little to see #1 what a great laundry line it is– that’s like, three jumbo loads of laundry, 20 feet up in the air, how amazing– and #2 how dedicated this person is to air-drying their jeans. There’s always, like, six pairs of jeans on that line– that is definitely a family of farmers. 

My parents have one of these, and the pulley is a little rusty, and in the summer there’s a catbird that mimics the squeak of the rusty pulley and sometimes panics me when home alone into thinking a burglar has come to steal the sheets off the line. But it’s definitely a catbird. 

Wikipedia, by the way, also confirms that there is controversy in North America about the use of clotheslines, including a Right To Dry movement. 

Personally, I am delighted with my new clothesline, because it does mean a lot less walking back and forth to hang up clothes, and also the length of my yard is not quite enough to hang up a full load and so it’s nice to have the extra room on the lines.

The farm has a pair of big T-shaped poles that are gradually collapsing, but have four lines on them– one has a pulley system, but the ropes are too loose to work properly. What I want, and may have to make my own project, is to put a pulley-system pole on the hillside, so one can hang out the washing without walking up the hill. But I might instead get another one of these jobbies and just shove it in the lawn behind the house instead of up the hill, because it’s such a pain in the ass to get up there and also the damn poles are falling down. 
via http://ift.tt/2oL3yK9:shadaras replied to your post “I’m at a weird cross-point in writing at the moment where I’m super…”

…I am down for an extended scene of Shara talking about politics to people. That sounds delightful.

I don’t know that I’d call it delightful. The pacing’s terrible, I really think, and I guess it’s not really politics so much as survival that Shara’s discussing. Also I think if I’m going to base this whole thing on prequel comics I haven’t really read, I should at least try to adhere to them, and in them, Shara and Leia don’t seem to really know one another, and I’ve kind of… blown that up, because it made a more interesting story, but I might have to rejigger this so that at least Leia and Shara haven’t had so many conversations. So I think I need to edit it, and give Leia’s lines to her adoptive sister Winter, and Winter’s lines to one of their aunts, and take Leia out of the direct path of the story quite as much as she’s in it, just for plausible deniability later.

But here is a snippet as it stands, and we’ll see– that kind of editing always demoralizes me a little, but if I’m so motivated on this story, I’ll do it. This is following a passage in which Shara is musing on whether she really knows Kes, or not; their relationship being sort of new when all this went down was kind of an important starting point for me, because I loved how solid they are by the time of the comics, and I want that to have happened despite the war, not before it; they’re just both people who know their minds, and connect, but in a realistic way. Anyway… 

Shara breathed slowly out, and then in, and made herself take a drink from the cup of tea. It tasted of herbs, like the way grass smelled, and it burst faintly sweet across the front of her tongue, and bitterer toward the back. She was sure this was the kind of thing that aficionados and gourmets would be very excited about. She couldn’t possibly appreciate it like this, so she let it slide down her throat and nodded, slightly.

Leia had said that Aach would be giving Kes the “hard sell” about joining the Rebellion. Had said–

“Kes is going to think he has to do the same,” she said, realizing it all at once. “He’s going to absolutely believe that he now has to martyr himself to the cause, and will never be able to reunite with us.”

Winter looked slightly surprised, eyebrows going up. “Why would he–” she said.

“I know him,” Shara said, because she did. “He’s a self-sacrificing stupid son of a bitch. I won’t have him do this. I won’t have him decide what’s best for me and for my family just because his–” She managed to stop herself before she said anything terrible about Lita.

“Of course,” Winter said, placatory. “Oh, Ms. Bey, your family’s been put in a terrible position. Of course it’s up to you to decide what to do next, but we don’t know yet– Kes has choices, too, we don’t know what he’ll decide. He has to recover, and so do you.”

Ms., Shara thought, because of course, they’d intended to file the marriage certificate here, when they arrived– they couldn’t do that without Kes’s signature, and it would be stupid to do it now, to attract the attention of the Imperials, that this prisoner they’d just released– but it meant she wasn’t his wife, meant that when she finally came up with a name and filed a birth registration for the baby he wouldn’t be recorded has having been the product of a legal marriage. Wouldn’t necessarily have his own father’s name on his birth registration.

Probably shouldn’t.

She should ask if Kes’s father’s name was on his birth registration. Surely he’d been registered.

Her own registration had been filed three years late and without a mother’s name. Shara wasn’t actually sure what her mother’s name had been. Oh, it wasn’t that Sento hadn’t told her, it just had literally never been important. She had other priorities, sweetie, Sento had said, and that’s no judgement on you at all, so don’t you worry about it. Apart from a few hormone-fueled bouts of teenage angst, Shara never really had.

“How badly do you think they hurt him?” she asked, recollecting herself– she’d drifted, a little, time had perhaps passed. Winter’s cup of tea was nearly empty and she was watching Shara with evident concern.
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Almost forgot. Random #farmbaby tidbit. 

So given the layout of the farmhouse kitchen, the bottle opener was just– never where you needed it. (The kitchen is three rooms. I know! I know. There’s a tiny room with the sink and fridge and dishes, a huge open room with the stove and counter and table as well as two of the house’s three entrances, and then there’s another small room with the pantry and the mixer and such. The sole garbage can, by the way, is in that third room, along with all the recycling bin; the compost is by the sink, two rooms away. It’s inconvenient and means you have to run around a lot– but it also means two people can be cooking while a third is doing dishes, and given how many people are in that house at any given time, it’s actually really damn useful. You just have to walk a lot to do anything.)

So they got one of those beer bottle openers that mounts to the wall, and there’s a little basket underneath it to catch the caps, since the garbage can is in another room. 

The basket is at a height where Farmbaby can reach it.

She thinks the bottle caps are great toys. There’s nothing wrong with this, she can’t cut herself on them or anything, she’s old enough not to put them in her mouth, it’s fine. So, whatever. 

She specifically likes to pretend they’re money, though. And the best part is, she’s picked up the phrase “beer money” and doesn’t know why it’s a phrase, except that of course beer bottle caps are useful as play money.

So she likes, when there are people around, to go over to the basket, pull out all the bottle caps, and distribute them to everyone in the room, saying, “Beer money! Beer money!”

It’s hilarious beyond telling. 
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For the record, I’m on day 5 of being unable to access my online account for my health insurance application, even after breaking down and calling them and managing to file a ticket for the two errors I’m blocked by– one where I can’t read messages they send me, the other where I can’t upload documents. I tried to bypass the document uploading error by sending them a fax, but have had no acknowledgement of that. 

The deadline for my application is the 25th, so I’m kind of counting down. I refresh the page about three or four times a day. 

However, the good news is, even though my stress is mounting, my eye has stopped uncontrollably twitching. The weekend fixed it, somehow; probably not being stuck in the hellscape of my fluorescent prison at work helped. So I guess that’s my sunny side up, there, or whatever. 

Just. For the record. You know.
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Beautiful trash vista in the rain…
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torrilin:

petermorwood:

siliquasquama:

anarcho-shindouism:

siliquasquama があなたの投稿に返信しました “since the algonqian speakers of the connecticut river valley practiced…”

If that be true, then there’s more woods around here NOW than there was in 1619.

yeah theres actually a little bit more forest now than there was like 100 years ago because people have been farming less, which leads to unmaintained land being reclaimed by forest.

but i still think that the british and americans farmed more extensively and destructively than the algonqian speakers

so in other words there was still probably a lot more forest in pre-colonial times than there is now, but it still wasn’t ~untamed pristine wilderness~ either since people were still living there and maintaining it, just in a much less destructive way

and ~untamed pristine wilderness~ is such a bad way of thinking about land anyway imo

I remember Bill Bryson talking about the idea of Untamed Pristine Wilderness in “A Walk In the Woods”. He blames Americans and the National Park movement specifically for this idea. We’ve got it into our heads that THESE areas are meant to be preserved like a fly in amber and THESE areas we can abuse the hell out of, instead of working with the supposed wilderness to provide steady economic benefits. For example, in Europe people get a small amount of woods out of their forests by selective cutting and by coppicing. In America we set aside certain areas as Pristine and chop down the rest. In Europe a path through deep woods would come across a town every ten miles or so; in America the Appalachian trail was designed to be devoid of human habitation. 
And then there’s the case of the Appalachian Balds. These summit meadows are a dilemma, because they were created by Nature but maintained by human interaction. Once the national park service set up areas where people weren’t allowed to graze livestock, the forests started to overtake the Balds. Now the park service has to decide whether it’s worth letting them disappear because the land should be left to do as it will, or to maintain them in an effort to preserve the flora that only exists in these meadows.
The problem could easily be solved if the park service was willing to let people graze their livestock there again, but the park service is built on a philosophy that can’t accept this option. 
We’ve created an exclusionary idea of The Wild that doesn’t actually serve the creatures living within it.

I’ve a vague memory of reading somewhere that this “Untouched Wilderness Must Be Untouched” approach contributes to the major damage caused by wildfires.

Natural wildfires caused by lightning strikes etc. burned off dead vegetation and made room for new growth etc. They were frequent, small and brief because of a limited amount of fuel accumulated since the last one. Preventing any sort of fire at all allows all the dead-leaf rotted-wood rubbish to build up until, when a wildfire does happen, it’s got far more fuel to work with and becomes far bigger than it would/should have been.

(As I say, a vague memory. I may be completely wrong about this…)

Not wrong. You’ve got the gist of it, tho it largely doesn’t work on the East Coast of the US in the same way.

I forget what kinds of ecosystems textbooks and government data tend to ascribe to the East Coast. There’s usually an assumption that there’s some “real and true” ecosystem, and that large areas will be fairly uniform. And I know from first hand experience that what the official stuff says and what reality actually does can be really far apart. And you go over the next mountain and you can be in a totally different ecosystem.

And well, the entire Appalachian mountain chain is really bad at uniform on account of being well, MOUNTAINS, and it’s one of the longest mountain ridges on the planet. So um. Yeah. Add in that there’s sections of the mountain chain that get over 1m of rainfall per year? It gets very damp and hard to burn. Also, there is perhaps more wildlife diversity than people want to acknowledge.

My mother is a historian. She was reading the letters of one of our local townsmen (upstate NY, near the Vermont border) who served in the War of 1812 and thus had been out to the western part of the state, near Buffalo.

One of the notable events he wrote home about was seeing a deer. He had never seen one before in his life. The entire state was so deforested that there was no habitat for them, by 1812. Think on that. A full-grown adult man who had lived in New York State his whole life, and who was in the process of walking back from having previously walked the entire length of the state, wrote a letter home about seeing a deer, because neither he nor anyone with him had ever seen one before.

Your basic-ass white-tail deer. 

There were no forests for them to live in. There were no deer.

I don’t know how much of the area was already cleared by the activities of the Native Americans before English settlers arrived, but that was the ecosystem by 1812: few to no trees, and no deer. No “wilderness”. 
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nuttersincorporated:

scaliefox:

shaded-iris:

scaliefox:

hzs-modblog:

scaliefox:

masterread:

thaxted:

nevver:

Paint it black

From the label on the bottle:

Instructions: Thin with water to increase flow as required. Paint with it.

Stuart Semple is so full of gentle but pointed snark and a burning desire for accessible art, I love him. I love that no matter what Anish Kapoor does, Stuart Semple will be there, making fun of him and selling affordable art supplies to anyone who wants them.

Iit smells like black cherry? Fuck yes

Is that the same guy that gave him a middle finger by making the wordest brightest pink and putting in the terms of use that the Vantablack asshole is the only man not allowed to use it?

I love this because it’s like watching a comic book fight between an art themed hero and his super villain nemesis that wants to keep all the art things to himself. 

Yes, and that same jerk broke said terms of use by having someone get him the pink pigment and he then literally gave Semple and the world the middle finger, after dipping it in the pink pigment. No class whatsoever.

Semple responded by somehow getting Vanta Black (or his own newly made pigment, can’t remember which) and giving the peace sign to everyone with two voided out fingers. Seriously, they looked like a bad video edit.

Sounds like he’s attempting to flush his reputation down the crapper with keeping such a huge advance in art technology to himself AND throwing a tempter tantrum over the backlash.

I’m glad this Semple dude is standing up his bullshit. 

Ya’ll are missing one very important point: Vantablack is caustic. Direct skin contact can cause really gnarly chemical burns. Despite that, the “void is staring back at you” black is something just about any artist would want to experiment with, even if you need to handle it as a hazmat chemical.

So, Semper’s peace sign in his own “deep space between stars” black is downright incredible as it’s SAFE. Anyone can use it, it even smells good without the scent affecting the color or consistency.

An artist in his studio whipped up a safe alternative to a pigment that chemical engineers have to make in a controlled lab.

Semper’s vengence led to a breakthrough that benefits artists of all levels the world over, and that’s just lovely.

It’s like he used the power of righteous hatred the same way some people use the power of love.

His intense need to spite the VB asshole let to him making a scientific breakthrough that shits all over his product. 

Spite is a really grate motivator

FYI I follow Stuart Semple on Twitter and he is a 100% pure cinnamon roll and actually got really upset that people were taking his feud with Anish Kapoor seriously and being rude to Kapoor. His entire purpose was to gently needle Kapoor and make a point, not actually start a vitriol-laced feud. 
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sex-ruiner:

I’ve been meaning to write a post on this topic
for ages and a conversation on twitter has brought it back into my
mind, so here goes: my theories about what the elves in Tolkien’s
mythology “really” looked like and how they came to be presented
as the very face of the European beauty standard.

There are a few of things we’re told about elves
that aren’t quite congruent with the image we’re given of them as
some kind of willowy uber-Scandinavian - they had superhuman sight
and hearing, they were probably minimally sexually dimorphic (while
the popular translation we have of the Red Book of Westmarch is
usaully taken to imply a level of sexual dimorphism similar to that
found in ideally slender humans, I don’t actually recall any
references to elves having tits!), and they have a few other
biologically bizarre traits such as walking on top of snow and
sleeping with their eyes open. I would argue that with a bit of
imagination and reading between the lines, the image we get of elves
is very strange indeed.

Let’s look at a passage from The Lord of the
Rings concerning the sensory
abilities of elves.

“‘Riders!’ cried Aragorn, springing to his
feet. ‘Many riders on swift steeds are coming towards us!’ ‘Yes,’
said Legolas, ‘there are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair,
and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall.’Aragorn
smiled. ‘Keen are the eyes of the Elves,’ he said.‘Nay! The
riders are little more than five leagues distant,’ said Legolas.”–
The Two Towers Chapter
2: The Riders of Rohan

At this point I’m
going to reference a tumblr post some of you may recall from a few
months ago (I can’t find it right now, but here
is something that gestures at it), where somebody did the maths and
realised that in order for Legolas to see the colour of someone’s
hair five leagues (15 miles, or 24 kilometers) away, he would have to
have absolutely massive pupils. Like, to the point of being
incredibly disturbing to the average human. It’s my theory that the
“grey-eyed elves” Tolkien describes were “grey-eyed” not in
the sense of “that particular shade of blue most common in northern
and eastern Europe”, but in the sense of the grey sheen you get on
a wide black surface. It wouldn’t be so much “scandinavian” as
“unnervingly similar to a perigrine falcon”.

Imagine seeing
them sleeping with those
open. As an aside – I’m not going to go too far into the stuff
about sleeping with their eyes open and walking on snow, but if any
creature sleeps and walks lightly, it’s a bird, and I think a certain
birdlikeness is going to be part of the image of elves we’re left
with when we consider all these factors. While birds are a common object of romantic comparisons, the way they move and speak is really not what you’d call conventionally attractive, and as beautiful as the voices of elves were held to be they were also described as all kinds of intimidating.

The superhuman sight
and hearing of elves simply would not have left them with
conventionally attractive human features. It’s generally accepted
that elves had pointed ears, but given the acuteness of their hearing
their ears may have been even more animalistic than that – perhaps
higher up on their head, subject to voluntary movement, certainly
larger than they’re generally depicted as. I’m not advocating for a
picture of elves as basically hentai cat-people, but I think we have
to accept that while you were being captivated by the “wells of
deep memory” they were using to count your pores, it would be
offset by some constantly twitching and prominent ears.

Now to address the
topic of sexual dimorphism in elves.

“Very
tall [Galadriel and Celeborn] were, and the Lady no less tall than
the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in
white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold… but no sign of
age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for
these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the
wells of deep memory.”–
The Two Towers Chapter
7: The Mirror of Galadriel.

This passage is
notable for not only mentioning no sexual dimorphism, but outright
stating that one of the forms of sexual dimorphism generally expected
in humans (the “male” being taller than the “female”) is not
present. It is noted elsewhere that elves do not grow beards. While
gender pronouns are always applied to elves, elves present themselves
very androgynously and my reading is that the impression of a human
gender binary is the product of the human translators rather than
anything native to elven culture. It is notable that where “female”
elves are recorded they are overwhelmingly either wives or mothers;
while one explanation for this is that the authors saw no reason to
note the contributions of female elves unless they related to those
of a male elf, this could also be explained by elves not being
assumed to be female at all until they gave birth or entered a
relationship where according to a worldview that naturalised
cis-hetero-sexuality, someone
had to be the woman.

Given that
Galadriel’s accomplishments independet of Celeborn are noted
throughout the Silmarillion and the fact that the only thing visually
distinguishing her from her partner is the colour of her hair, it is
arguable that her gendering as female is only to do with her role in
producing Celebrían.
The fact that traditional human gender roles seem present in some
interactions between elves (such as the trapping of Aredhel by Eöl
in chapter 16 of The
Silmarillion)
is likewise explicable as the projection of human gender roles onto
simply unequal or predatory interactions. Of course, Galadriel is
such an exceptional case that using her as an example is tenuous, but
the fact remains that I see no evidence for an elven gender binary
that cannot be explained away by a mix of attempts to defend human
heterosexual norms and a treatment of male as default. I believe the
projection of male-and-femaleness onto elves was more to do with
human men deciding that the elves they found attractive must be women
than anything else.

So
far, we have an image of elves as minimally dimorphic (to the point
that elves capable of child-bearing etc may have had this ability
unacknowledged in text purely due to  human presumtuousness) and an
explanation for the sexual dimorphism that is heavily implied (but
never outright supported) by the text as we receive it today. The
erasure of some of the elves’ alien features also has traits we might
expect from translations where the expectations of the translator
combine with the fact that some things were assumed knowledge by the
original writers thousands of years ago. Of course “grey-eyed” meant the sheen on strange and
piercing black wells to writers well acquainted with either real
elves or reliable depictions of them, and of course “grey-eyed”
could only mean eyes that fit an existing beauty standard when the
stories told of human men being captivated by the beauty of elves. That the
lightness and agility of elves was left in the text unquestioned
points to the later translators not even being conscious of their
agenda. We can only speculate as to what elves really looked like,
but even if we take for granted that their paleness and long limbs
were very humanoid (and the fact that elven weapons suit human hands
and movements very well does point to the latter, at least),
inferring that they look like stereotypical Swedish models with a
human gender binary seems at best unsupported.

I think there’s more I could go into, but I’ve rambled on for about 1300 words now and there’s only so much people want to read in a tumblr post! I haven’t read LoTR or the Sil properly in ages though, so this could have a few glaring inaccuracies. I will fight anyone who claims elves had a gender binary though.

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dragonlady7

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