About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.

Your Biggest Control Over Comfort: Changing What ‘Comfort’ Means to You

In “The Collapse Will Not be Like the Thunderdome,” Sharon Astyk says that in collapse, “You aren’t going to be able to live in relative comfort, or if you are, it will because you changed your definition of comfort.”

That last line stuck with me: change your definition of comfort.

There are hard limits to what we can accept as ‘comfort.’ When we die, we can’t feel anything, let alone comfortable. Wet-bulb temperatures beyond above 35 C cannot be comfortable. It’s not clear that mammals can survive wet-bulb temperatures above 35 C long-term.

And yet, it’s possible to change one’s definition of ‘comfort’ within the range of wet-bulb temperatures which allow humans to stay healthy.

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I’d Love to Read a Good Duryodhana Novel

Recently, I quit reading Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan. I felt bad about it because I want to read a version of the Mahabharata told from Duryodhana’s point of view (I know, there’s that Bhasa play, I plan to read that). The introduction got me pumped up because Neelakantan shared his inspiration for writing about Duryodhana. Alas, the writing style for the novel itself just ain’t for me.

In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana is my favorite character. He’s the one who acts the most like a real person. That includes some shitty decisions. And for all that, he is the main villain, he just… doesn’t come across as evil. I found it easier to relate to him than to the ‘heroes.’

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People Outside San Francisco Care More About the Boudin Recall Than Residents

A bunch of media outlets are blabbering about the Chesa Boudin recall and what it means for San Francisco. I run into references in online interactions with people from outside the city… sigh.

San Francisco residents care so much about Boudin that we had a lower-than-normal voter turnout. Despite a governor race AND a US Senator race on the ballot (to be fair, everyone knew who was going to win those elections). The election we had earlier this year, which was basically just the recall for three school board members, had a higher turnout, lol.

For what it’s worth, I voted no on the recall, not because I support Boudin (I didn’t vote for him in the first place, and I’m not sorry to see him go) but because I dislike the recall campaign. The claims that this will drastically lower crime rates in San Francisco are bogus. Property crime was common in San Francisco before Boudin came into office, and the causes for our high property crime rate aren’t going away when he leaves office. He’s a scapegoat.

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Mass Literacy Can Be Lost in a Generation

I can’t remember a time I didn’t know how to read English. That makes it easy for me to take reading for granted. Learning to read Chinese as an adult helps me appreciate the process of becoming literacy… but it’s not the same. I already had the ‘neurological wiring’ for literacy before I learned Chinese.

I tutor a child in reading. Getting someone from ‘illiterate’ to ‘literate’ requires a ton of steps. English requires more steps to literacy than most European languages with our irregular spelling system.

Recently, I skimmed Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Deheane. Much of it made sense given my experiences. It details the neuroscience (as of 2009, I’m sure it’s dated) of reading. It gets complicated. Humans didn’t evolve to read text, so the brain has to repurpose visual processing ability to read. We have ‘shortcuts’ for recognizing certain shapes, such as a curve which marks something as a hill, or a line which marks a horizon. By recognizing specific types of lines, we can identify certain things in our natural environment faster. The lines we can use for rapid identification are the same types of lines used in every writing system. Without that specific visual-processing ability, reading would be impossible.

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Here’s the anti-paywall link to my review of the book When Books Went to War.

It’s a USA-centric book. That probably explains why it’s only available in the United States (since I included it in an international giveaway, I looked into the option of buying books in the winner’s country… ha ha, too few copies of this book exist outside the USA for that to work). For those of you who aren’t part of U.S. society, I don’t know whether that’s a plus or minus.

Though I didn’t time this for Memorial Day, it’s a fitting piece for Memorial Day weekend.

How people print, distribute, and read books during an event as extreme as a world war reveals much about books in any context.

Again, here’s an anti-paywall link.

Is My Age Why I Find It So Hard to Enjoy Fiction?

I Do No Finish (DNF) most novels I try these days. It makes me wonder… why is it so hard to find novels I want to complete?

Part of it is that I’m more honest with myself when I don’t enjoy a novel. Or maybe, because I DNF so many books these days, I expect most novels I pick up to be not worth finishing, and I find what I expect…

Somewhere, I read that when people get older, they prefer nonfiction over fiction. Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone. But I can’t help noticing that I’m much more likely to read a nonfiction book cover-to-cover these days. I think about them more after I put them down.

Yes, I pick nonfiction based on what interests me… but that applies to fiction too, doesn’t it?

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How can anyone believe that we are “after the pandemic”?

The other day, a local organization sent me an email which had a recap of their first in-person event “after the pandemic.”

Um, what?

I’m not against outdoor gatherings. Heck, I considered going to this organization’s outdoor gathering (and decided not to for reasons unrelated to covid). But… “after the pandemic”?

In San Francisco (where both I and this organization are located) official covid case counts are rising, hospitalizations are rising, test positivity rates are rising, and wastewater covid levels are rising. One testing location in the city reported a 19% positivity rate this month.

How is this compatible with being ‘after the pandemic’?

Deaths aren’t rising—yet—but that’s a lagging indicator. Long covid data sucks so bad we can’t track it.

Anecdotally, among locals I talk to… covid still makes people sick.

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I’m now a columnist at The Writing Cooperative. Also, I’m giving away books (international shipping available)

First, here’s the book giveaway. Yep, it’s international.

These books aren’t famous. They’re only popular within a particular niche, or not popular at all. To explain why people would want these books cluttering their bookshelf space, I wrote reviews. I submitted them to The Writing Cooperative to get extra exposure.

I didn’t expect Justin Cox, the editor, to like my reviews so much that he invited me to become a regular columnist.

I said yes.

Here are anti-paywall links to the book reviews which have already been published. More are coming.

“Publishers (Including Self-Published Authors) Need This Book’s Message”

“Even This Book’s Mistakes Show You How to Write Better Blurbs”

“This Book Flopped. Seize Its Bestseller Insights Anyway.”

I hope these reviews bring you something of value (the books themselves contain much more value).

I start out talking about a fun song, then this post gets dark.

For over a decade, I’ve been a person of good taste who didn’t fall for that Kpop crap. Yes, I may have stared at the Kpop music videos playing in the electronics stores a little long (this was in Taiwan, where all the electronics stores use Kpop music videos to show the quality of their screens), but I chose music based on what sounded good, and the local Taiwanese pop music sounded better.

In the past year, something in me snapped.

Here’s the evidence of my downfall:

That’s right, I watched a music video for a debut Kpop group as soon as it dropped.

That’s a screenshot of me watching “Shut Down” when it had only one official view on YouTube

If the person I was ten years ago saw that, she’d be ashamed of her future self.

I’ve even… horror of horrors… bought the album. But only one copy.

I like this group’s mix of voices. That’s how I justified the purchase. But I’ll be honest. There’s more.

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