About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has 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.

I’m So Excited About Rosendale’s Debut Album That I Pre-Ordered It

I’m not a ‘music’ person. I only find out about musicians after they are famous, and usually not even then (you’d be amazed by how many ‘famous’ songs I don’t know). Never before have I pre-ordered a music album.

Last month, I watched the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival on YouTube. Looking at the schedule, I asked myself, “Who is this ‘Rosendale’ and what are they doing at a Taiwanese American festival” (I missed the section in the program which explains who everyone is). When his segment came up, I was like, “oh, he’s a singer.” Then I heard his songs and his commentary. (Note: his segment was only available on livestream, the recording is not publicly available.)

Since then, I’ve listened to Rosendale’s YouTube songs many times.

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Confession of a Vaccine Shopper (Who Sympathizes with Vaccine Hesitance)

Last month, I read the article “This entitlement is beyond me’: Canada hits COVID-19 vaccine milestone, but people are still ‘shopping’ between Pfizer and Moderna” and I felt irritated. Why? Because I was a ‘vaccine shopper.’ I could have gotten a Pfizer/BioNTech dose a few days before I got my J&J vaccine, but I chose the J&J appointment. I don’t like being told I’m ‘entitled’ just because I make a calculated choice about what was better for me.

Did I hurt anybody by delaying my vaccination for a few days? Nope. I even reached ‘fully vaccinated’ status faster by choosing the appointment for a J&J vaccine.

Another problem with the urging to ‘get the first possible vaccine dose’ message is that, if I took that advice literally, I would have potentially done more harm to myself than others. I could have gotten a vaccine dose faster if I had been willing to board a taxi/bus/streetcar/etc. However, between March 2020 and my vaccination, I made a rule not to board any vehicle unless absolutely necessary. If I believed that my only choices were ‘board public transit to get vaccine’ or ‘never get vaccine’ I would’ve taken my chances on public transit, but I had a third option, ‘wait until vaccine is available at a site within walking distance of my home.’ That’s the option I chose.

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I Haven’t Stepped a Toe Past City Limits in 15 Months. How Do I Feel?

I haven’t left the City and County of San Francisco since February 2020. I haven’t been to anywhere other than San Francisco or Alameda County since October 2019. 47 square miles / 121 square kilometers has been the limit of my physical world.

How do I feel? Surprisingly, I feel fine.

As soon as pandemic restrictions became serious, people complained about cabin fever and how much they want to ‘get out’ and travel far from home. Even now, over a year later, I… still don’t relate.

My life is such that I rarely have an ‘essential’ reason to leave city limits. Among people in my physical social circle, I’m unusual in not having crossed city limits at all since the first stay-at-home order. Many people I know have essential reasons to cross city limits, but I also get the sense that they are surprised by how seriously I’ve taken the ‘no nonessential travel’ thing.

I’ve been lucky to have already done quite a bit of travel in my life, and even before the pandemic, I felt I was getting diminishing returns from additional travel. For me, personally, staying in San Francisco city limits for over a year wasn’t bad.

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Do You Know Which Cloth Masks Are Most Comfortable For You? Consider These 8 Features.

One of my masks. Notice the mask laces.

Following up on last week’s post, I’m going to tell you what I find comfortable in cloth masks. Does everyone have the same preferences as me? No. That’s fine. I’m not trying to convince you to have the same cloth mask preferences as me. My goal is to make you think about your own preferences by sharing details about my preferences. If double layered 30 dernier calendered nylon taffeta masks with metal nose bands and elastic ea rloops are the most comfortable cloth mask for you, that’s great. I wouldn’t want to wear such a mask, but that’s me, not you.

Let’s begin…

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Why Does This Vaccinated Face Still Wear Masks?

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the POTUS say that, as a fully vaccinated person, I may stop wearing masks in public.

Guess what? I’m still mask up other people.

Am I certain it’s necessary? No. But it’s low cost. I already have double-layered masks which are as comfortable as t-shirts, seal well, are easy to wash, and look pretty. As long as coronavirus deaths per year in California exceed flu deaths in California during a typical flu season, I’m masking up. It’s the last pandemic habit I’ll drop. If I have doubts, I’ll err on the side of wearing masks. I’ll ditch physical distancing rules before I give up masks.

I don’t mind people running outside or riding bicycles without masks, even if they aren’t vaccinated. Outdoor runners/cyclists pass other people too quickly to spread coronavirus. Some people can’t use masks for medical/health/disability reasons. Otherwise, we should keep using masks.

When even t-shirts are uncomfortable, I might take off my mask outdoors when I’m far from others. That’s it.

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This Expert Agrees with Me: Smartphones Aren’t Ruining Social Lives. We Are. (Be Nice to Yourself Anyway.)

Reading Indistractable by Nir Eyal gave me a whole slew of reactions.

I never owned a smartphone. Therefore, I know firsthand that I can get distracted all over the place without a mobile device. Even in the most boring place in the universe, I’ll distract myself with daydreams. I only feel bored when I’m compelled to do something tedious which doesn’t allow me to daydream.

“Smartphones are a BANE PLAGUING SOCIETY, oh no the kids” articles leave me nonplussed because, from the outside, smartphones don’t seem that powerful. When these articles are written by tech insiders, I assume they want to exaggerate their own influence. They’d rather believe they are ruining the world than believe that they don’t matter. Seeing someone as well-informed as Nir Eyal confirm with research that “OH NO SMARTPHONES RUIN HUMANITY” articles are overblown or even outright wrong is refreshing.

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I Got One of the Last 700 Vaccine Doses (and I’m Waiting for a Blood Clot to Kill Me)

According to this news outlet, there were only about 700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine left in San Francisco as of April 26, when its usage resumed in the city. This website claims that about 600 more doses of ‘single-dose’ covid vaccine have been administered to San Francisco residents since April 26 and approximately 37,000 San Francisco residents have been injected with ‘single-dose’ vaccines. Because of the manufacturing problems the J&J vaccine is having in the United States, I don’t expect many more San Francisco residents to be injected with the J&J vaccine this year.

Those roughly 600 people in San Francisco who got J&J vaccine injections since April 26? I’m one of them.

Why?

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Young Fujianese Woman Excels at Daoist Magic, Swears Sisterhood with Other Women, Saves a Kingdom, and Vanquishes Fiends: a Review of The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons

I dimly recall encountering shrines dedicated to the Lady of Linshui when I lived in Taiwan, but I never paid them much mind. The many temples dedicated to Guanyin and Mazu were much more conspicuous.

Mazu got my attention. She’s one of the most popular deities in Taiwan (and San Francisco – she has two temples in this city, including the city’s oldest continuously operating place of worship dedicated to a non-Abrahamic deity). She’s also a prominent female role model who became so good at Daoist magic that she became a goddess. One book about Taiwan compares her to Hermione Granger. Mazu overshadows the folk religion of the South China Sea region so much that I didn’t notice that Lady of Linshui was also a young prodigy of Daoist magic who turned into a goddess… until I read the newly published English translation of The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons (臨水平妖傳).

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Clueless English-Speakers Turn ‘Wuxia’ into a Vampire That Sparkles in Sunlight

The purpose of fiction genres is to help readers to find the stories they want. For example, I like space operas more than murder mysteries. When I’m given a choice between a space opera and a murder mystery, I will choose the space opera without hesitation. If a story is both a murder mystery and a space opera, such as Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold, um, maybe. But if the ‘space opera’ turns out to be a murder mystery set in Virginia in 1965, I’m going to be pissed.

Fictional genres have expectations that are well known to their readers, such as the ‘central love story’ and ‘happily ever after/happily for now’ criteria for ‘romance’ stories. If a ‘romance’ story has a tragic ending, and it’s not a subgenre like ‘tragic romance,’ readers will feel cheated. By contrast, a ‘soap opera’ can put a romantic relationship at the center of the story without an expectation of a happy ending. The key genre expectation of ‘memoirs’ is that the story is true, the key genre expectation of political satire is that it will make fun of politics in a dry way, etc.

Back when this blog started talking about wuxia, the term ‘wuxia’ was pretty much only used by English speakers who had some familiarity with the wuxia classics and thus at least a vague sense of the genre expectations. In intervening years, the term ‘wuxia’ has sprouted among English-speakers in a bad game of telephone where the original understanding of the genre has been garbled.

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