Quick question: Is there any kind of comprehensive site you can recommend for looking up gem varieties? You always name stuff i haven’t found all in one place so I was curious. Thanks!


I look at this one as a refresher a lot, it’s a good list! Probably easier if you know what they actually look like off the top of your head but still, the fact that they’re organised by colour is good


http://www.mindat.org is another one I find good for looking at detailed information like composition, varieties, associated minerals, origin etc

Sorry it’s not much but I hope it helps!!

Other suggestions from users –


Grand Prix Assignment, How Does It Work?

I recently received quite a few questions on this topic, so here’s an intro, which hopefully will address most of your concerns.

Before you proceed, bear in mind that GP assignment is far from an exact science. There is no shortage of political undercurrents and seemingly arbitrary decisions involved in the whole process. Even discounting that, brace yourself because this stuff is lengthy and convoluted.

As usual, the focus of my post will be on the two single disciplines. The basic principles are the same for Pairs and Ice Dance, however in those two disciplines there are a few more bylaws concerning the case of “split couples” (which involves, you guess it, teams who have gone through recent changes in partnerships). Those rules make things a bit more complicated and there are people who are more familiar with Pairs/ID who can explain them to you much better than I do, so I won’t embarrass myself by talking about them.

With that out of the way, let us dive straight into the details.

The Grand Prix Series

The Grand Prix Series (GPS), officially named The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, consists of 6 international senior invitational events and the Grand Prix Final. 

The GPS, in its current format, was incorporated in 1995, and since then, the 6 GP events have been hosted by: Canada (Skate Canada International – SCI), China (Cup of China – CoC), France (Internationaux de France – IDF), Japan (NHK Trophy – NHK), Russia (Rostelecom Cup – CoR for Cup of Russia, its more commonly known name), and the US (Skate America – SA). For the upcoming season however, the Chinese Skating Association has temporarily opted out of hosting ISU events, presumably to make way for Beijing 2022 preparation. The ISU has yet to announce the event that will replace CoC in the GPS.

A skater can participate in a maximum of 2 GP events. Their placements at the GPs they take part in will determine the number of points they earn towards their Grand Prix Standings (which is a completely different system from the World Standings / Season’s World Ranking – don’t ask me why, the ISU works in mysterious ways). At the end of the 6 GP events, the top 6 men / ladies in the GP Standings will qualify for the Grand Prix Final. I won’t go into the details of how the GP Standings work today because it’s a topic that deserves, and requires, its own post, maybe later.

The Selection Pool

The GP events are invitational, which means that, in principle, which skaters to invite to a certain event is up to the host federation. Roughly, the way it works is that the ISU will put together a pool of skaters who are eligible to participate in the GPS, then the 6 skating federations who organize the GPS sit down together, look at the list, and decide whom to invite to their event.

There are certain limits to these invitations, the most important of which are:

  1. No skaters can participate in more than 2 events.
  2. The total number of skaters who participate in a GP event, for single skating, must be between 8 and 12.
  3. A maximum of 3 skaters (per discipline) from the host country can participate in the host country’s event.
  4. A maximum of 3 skaters (per discipline) from the same country can participate in any one GP (I keep this separate from point 3 above because point 3 has a different implication, see below).

The Minimum Score

There is a minimum threshold of score a skater must meet if they are to be considered eligible to enter the GPS selection pool. This minimum score can be met either through Combined Total Score or Technical Element Score. These scores will be revised and published annually by the ISU before the selection process begins. For example, for the 2017-2018 GPS, the minimum score for the ladies was either total score of 140.05 or TES of 25.26 for the SP and 46.96 for the FS.

The Host Pick

In filling the 3 “domestic” spots as mentioned above, the host federation can choose a skater who does not meet the minimum score. However it should be noted that the ISU “strongly suggests” that the minimum be satisfied.

Skater’s Preference

Top skaters can (and will) indicate their preference as to which GP they wish to compete in. Their stated preference will be considered, though not always 100% guaranteed. So for example you’d see Yuzuru making frequent appearances at SCI because his training base is in Toronto.   

The Seeds

Skaters who placed first to sixth in the previous season’s World Championships will be considered Seeded Skaters and will be assigned to 2 GP events. “Seeded” in this context means that they’ll be spread out so that no more than 2 out of 6 will be at the same event. For example, consider the 2017-2018 GPS, the seeds were, for the men’s field: Yuzuru, Shoma, Boyang, Javier, Patrick, and Nathan, for the ladies’ field: Evgenia, Kaetlyn, Gabby, Karen, Mai, Carolina. Their GP assignments were (in order of events): 

  • CoR: Yuzu – Nathan / Zhenya – Caro 
  • SCI: Shoma – Patrick / Kaetlyn – Karen 
  • CoC: Boyang – Javi / Gabby – Mai
  • NHK: Yuzu – Patrick (which didn’t happen, but still) / Zhenya – Caro 
  • IDF: Shoma – Javi / Kaetlyn – Mai
  • SA: Boyang – Nathan / Gabby – Karen 

Before you ask, funnily enough, the answer is no, in this seeding procedure, the ISU does not take into account results from the Olympics, at least they did not do so in the most recent post-Olympic season (2014-2105), and I do not think that they will start to do so this year, not least because they don’t seem to have any system on hands with which to factor both OG and WC results into consideration. So for the 2018-2019 GPS, barring a disruptive last minute change, the seeded skaters will be, on the men’s side: Nathan Chen, Shoma Uno, Mikhail Kolyada, Alexei Bychenko, Kazuki Tomono, Deniss Vasiljevs, and on the ladies’ side: Wakaba Higuchi, Satoko Miyahara, Alina Zagitova, Bradie Tennell. 

You will have noticed that I didn’t mention Kaetlyn and Carolina. That’s because Kaetlyn has announced that she would not participate in the GPS next season, and I haven’t heard if Caro intends to continue competing. When such vacancies happen, the next-ranked skater(s) will be moved up to serve as seeds – in this case, it’s going to be Gabby Daleman (rank 7) and/or Maria Sotskova (rank 8).

The “Come-back” (official ISU terminology, I didn’t make it up)

Skaters who have previously been seeded, i.e., those who have placed 1-6 at a WC within the last 10 years, and have skipped the last one or more seasons, can be given priority consideration and virtually guaranteed 2 GP events. However, in order for this “come-back” to go into effect, the skater must, first, explicitly commit to the ISU that they will take part in their assigned GPs, and such come-back treatment is allowed only once in a skater’s career.

The Invites

Skaters who placed from 7 to 12 in the previous season’s WC will be guaranteed 2 GP events. 

Any skater who holds a World Standing of up to 24 after the previous season ended will be guaranteed at least 1 GP event.

Any skater who has posted a total score within the top 24 seasonal best of the previous season will be guaranteed at least 1 GP event. Note: the ISU’s season best is a list of highest scores achieved by each skater at ISU-sanctioned events during the season. This, for example, is the Total Score list for 2017-2018: the top 24 goes from Nathan’s 321.40 at WC in first to Morisi Kvitelashvili’s 250.26 in 24th place.

All medalists from the Junior WC and the Junior Grand Prix Final champions, if they decide to move to senior next season, will be included in the selection process for the senior GPS, though their assignments are not explicitly guaranteed.

Skaters who have posted a seasonal best score within the top 75 in the previous season will be included in the selection pool and can be invited after the assignments are filled for (1) the seeded skaters (2) the come-backs, and (3) the invited skaters who are guaranteed at least 1 spot.

Junior skaters who have announced their intention of moving to senior and have met the minimum score will also be entered into the selection pool

The Conventions

Now, having said and considered all of the above, there are a few rules of thumb / traditions that always seem to materialize in each GP cycle, and can help you, for lack of a better word, predict whom you are going to see before shelling out your hard-earned money in exchange for a GP ticket.

One, if a seeded skater is from a nation who hosts a GP event, there is a near certainty of him/her attending their home event. If there are two seeded skaters from the same nation, the priority is given to the one with better results from the previous season. So in the next GPS you can reasonably expect: Nathan and Bradie at SA, Mikhail and Alina at CoR. Along this line, JSF is the only fed with a bit of a hairy problem on their hands. Going by the usual logic, Shoma and Wakaba should be their picks for NHK. However, there are, obviously, the cases of Satoko and Yuzuru to consider. Satoko, because she’s still, by common perception, their top lady skater, and Yuzu, because, well, because he’s Yuzuru Hanyu. The JSF can, of course, have all 4 of them at NHK, but that’d be a rather dumb thing to do because it’d increase the competition and create a disadvantage to their own top skaters in terms of earning GPF qualification points (especially in the men’s event, where, by rules, they’ll need to host another seeded skater besides Shoma). In short, I honestly don’t envy the JSF’s position and I wish them the best of luck.

Two, in the absence of a home GP, a seeded skater’s first assignment would be one closest to their home country, so for example Deniss is very likely going to compete at either CoR or IDF. 

Three, even though the ISU does not explicitly promise 2 spots for the Junior World medalists, they usually get their 2 assignments. Last season for example, Alina, Marin, Kaori, Vincent, Dima, Samarin all got 2 GPs.

Four, most top skaters (seeded or no) would be afforded the courtesy of some time off between events. So for example, going by the event calendar next year (which, by the way, is SA – SCI – Undecided GP to replace CoC – NHK – CoR – IDF), since Nathan is most assuredly going to be at SA, you won’t see him at SCI.

Finally, five, since the GPS selection is done on an invitational basis, a skater’s reputation and, frankly speaking, their ability to fill up the venue weigh quite heavily in the federations’ consideration. So, for example, no, Yuzu does not need to invoke the “come-back” clause (which, incidentally, does not necessarily apply to his case anyway, since it’s mostly reserved for skaters who have taken an entire season or more off). He’s going to have 2 GPs regardless. If you really, really want to know my prediction, my bet is he’s going to be where he usually is, SCI and NHK. Same goes for Zhenya, though in her case I’m less sure which 2 GPs she’s going to get. I’d say SCI is a likely possibility for her too, considering her recent relocation.

Well well well, as usual this turned out to be about triple the length of what I expected it to be. Don’t know if it helps clear things up or confuses you even more. Let me know if it’s the latter so I can go into a corner and cry or something, and definitely let me know if I’ve missed something important.

Disclaimer: I have NOT covered everything, only picked and chosen those points which I think are good to know 🙂

Horses and Writing: some basics


Shocking no one I have opinions about horses, and in light of a similar post I saw that I didn’t like I decided (couldn’t help myself really cause I’m a jerk) to write my own. No I won’t link to the other one for reasons you’ll see below, mainly being that horse people are jerks–yes including me–and what do I know?lol)


Horses and ponies:

A horse and a pony are not the same thing, but height (while
a good starting point) is not the only fact in determining whether a horse is a
horse or a pony. Nor is it the only factor for deciding what load an equine can
carry or haul. A horse may be tall and rangy but ultimately not suited for
heavy loads, while some larger ponies (or horses who happen to be pony height)
might be broad and stout and able to carry a bigger ride or pull a cart with
ease. You can find a helpful link [here]. 


Horses typically live 25-30 years, though many live into their thirties. Breed and size definitely matter here, and there always anomalies. Ponies tend to have a longer lifespan.

Young horses are called foals. Technically up to age four
but this neutral designator is not used as much after they reach one year old.
At which point they’re called yearlings.
Once a horse’s sex is known they’re pretty much referred to by the gender
specific terms: filly (young female up to age four) and colt (young male up to
age four).  

Once a male is gelded/castrated (and this is done for a number of reasons and at different ages for different reasons because #horsepeople) they’re typically called a ‘gelding’
no matter the age.

Which brings me to adult (four and over) horses. Mares
(females), stallions (uncastrated males), and geldings.

Young horses are generally not ridden as early as the racing
industry would have you believe. It’s not safe or healthy practice for horses
so young to be started with heavy riders/work loads. I personally do not
believe they should be started under saddle and rider until age two or more and
then lightly. Ideally age 3, but this does depend on the breed. Draft horses
and warmbloods physically mature more slowly than say thoroughbreds and quarter
horses, but I still don’t think *those* should start as early as the racing
industry demands.


Look, we all have opinions. If you’ve met a horse person who
says they don’t really have an opinion they’re lying about one or the other. (being a horse person or not having an opinion. lol) We
don’t all agree and we almost all think we know best and in at least one
situation we’re right and at least one situation we’re wrong. Which is why I’m
not citing sources. You can find hundreds with just a quick google search that
agree with me and just as many that don’t. Instead I will say that these are my
opinions based on nearly forty years research and practical experience and that
nearly all of my opinions/beliefs can and will be adjusted depending on the
animal. The equine animal. Not the human animal. Though I will make adjustments
for humans and their horses if a training technique doesn’t work for them. But
changing my thoughts just cause someone yells at me about it on the internet…nah.



Gendered personality statements are largely biased and
useless unless they contain actual cause and effect explanations. For instance, mares are not
‘harder to work with’ or moody. They experience estrus cycles that make their
behavior and attitudes change but these are predictable if you know your dang
horse. Otherwise a fairer statement would be ‘spring makes the entire animal
kingdom act like morons and mares and stallions are included there in.’ so for
that matter are geldings who were gelded later in life.

You can find a very good introduction to equine puberty and breeding behavior [here].

Breed is often a
better gauge of temperament and if you are writing horses I highly recommend
you research breeds rather than making assumptions or listening to assumptions about sex for behavior. The simple truth is that
mares in heat/estrus are going to be feeling their oats so to speak and
likewise stallions (or late gelded geldings) will be wanting to sow theirs. Lol
This makes everyone act like fools on occasion. Stallions would likely only be
ridden or handled by experienced riders/horse people, but as always there are
exceptions. I once worked with a stallion who followed me like a lamb past a
dozen mares all calling to him and breed ready. The trick here is that when you
write these atypical creatures, make sure your readers know it’s atypical.

Speaking of


Different breeds have different builds and different temperaments
much like dogs. You need to choose the right one for the job/role. And yes,
like dogs there are ‘mutts’ out there and by and large they are awesome, but
how awesome and how suited depends on what breeds are mixed in there and of
course the individual horse.

This [Wikipedia page]  is actually a great starting point for researching. Once you find your breed
though it’s always better to google the breed organization for the most current


You’ll always find/hear stories from people contradicting
any and all of the above. Remember, horse people (and yes that includes me) are
jerks and generally think they know everything so sure…this one guy might not
like ponies because he knew some assholes and wouldn’t want his kids to ride
them. Sure this woman swears that Shetland ponies are the most kid friendly in
the world. *shrug* it’s going to vary pony to pony, but overall breed standards
and reputations exist for reasons.

An incomplete list of your usual Horse Professionals:

(Just to get you started) 

Vets, farriers, trainers, riders, owners, grooms,

Most of these seem pretty self-explanatory but I’ll explain

A farrier is a person who works on horses feet. Hooves grow
the entirety of a horse’s life, so they have to be trimmed (like our finger
nails) fairly routinely (generally 6-8 weeks depending on growth season,
weather, etc). Some horses wear shoes, but not all and there are (shockingly)
varying stances on when or whether or a horse should. This is largely based on
what work a horse does, the health of their feet/legs/confirmation, and what
surfaces said horse works on (dirt, concrete, etc).

Also, blacksmiths aren’t as common nowadays. Most farriers I know buy their shoes wholesale and make modifications to them. But if you’re writing historical/fantasy style works with worlds before horseshoes were mass produced then you’ll want to research them and add them in as appropriate. Often blacksmiths and farriers worked closely together or where the same person working both trades.

Finally,  (not finally,
but finally for this post)

Equine Confirmation:

Equine confirmation is all about how a horse is put
together. How they’re built. Height, weight, stance, etc.

Confirmation standards vary by breed, some are aesthetic,
some are structural. Some are both and can affect a horse’s health and
abilities.  A horse might be pigeon toed
or bow legged or have high withers or low heels. A horse might need correct
efforts for these (like braces, shoes, certain saddles/pads, physical therapy,
training, etc). Helpful starting link [here]. But as always it’s best to move onto the breed specific information out there.

Finally, (for real this time) some other things I’ve written on the subject of
horses and writing (but never a basic intro):

A Response to “Realistic” Travel (a short rebuttal to a popular chart which led to)

On Writing Horses and Riding (a more comprehensive post)

As always feel free to research, or ask me anything. Know
that like every horse person out there I’m biased. I just happen to be honest
about it and relatively aware of what my biases are. 😉










Costume. Chitons.

Marjorie & C. H. B.Quennell, Everyday Things in Archaic Greece (London: B. T. Batsford, 1931).

Wait, wait…. Is that seriously it? How their clothes go?

that genuinely is it

yeah hey whats up bout to put some fucking giant sheets on my body

lets bring back sheetwares

also chlamys:

and exomis:

trust the ancients to make a fashion statement out of straight cloth and nothing but pins

Wrap Yourself In Blankets, Call It a Day

Hi! Quick question, can I ask what are the significant junior international competitions that Yuuri might have attended? I’m trying to write something that Yuuri would have participated in during middle school and then realised that Nebelhorn is seniors only. Thanks so much. You’ve been so informative about skating everything.


I’m sorry this took so long – I was doing a bunch of spelunking and got lost in rabbit holes along the way.
Besides the obvious Junior Grand Prix series, there are various international competitions for Juniors and even Novices. An easy way to find these is to go to a skater’s wikipedia bio and look at their competitive highlights or early history, then click on competitors and look at their early history. You can build a collection of competitions that way.

The International Challenge Cup and the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy(Asian Trophy) are two notable competitions that have been around for quite a while and which various Japanese skaters have competed at over the years. As a Junior, Yuuri (and you can extend this to Minami) may have competed in one of these even after entering the JGP circuit because it’s good experience. But if we’re talking about the first time he competed abroad as a 13-15 year old middle-schooler, he probably went to a smaller competition to get experience….

For Yuuri specifically, I would say the Mladost Trophy is a very likely competition he went to. Almost every big Japanese skater has gone to that competition in either Novice or Juniors. Daisuke Takahashi, Nobunari Oda, Yuzuru Hanyu, Takahito Mura, and Takahiko Kozuka. Since Yuuri’s character is partly a combination of all these big Japanese skating names, it’s kind of nice to have a competition that so many of them went to. It hasn’t been held in some years, but it was popular among Japanese skaters during the early-mid 2000s, which is when Yuuri would have been in middle school. You can always tweak dates to suit your fic too.

Another likely one would be the Triglav Trophy which is usually the last ISU sanctioned event of the skating season. This means you could give Yuuri a redemption skate here! It’s also conveniently out of the way of JGP and GP competitions. Although virtually no Japanese Junior Men have skated here, plenty of Novice Men and quite a few Senior Men have competed: Daisuke Takahashi (as a Novice), Sota Yamamoto (as a Novice), Daisuke Murakami (Senior), Takahito Mura (Senior), Keiji Tanaka (Senior), and Tatsuki Machida (Senior). It’s also a great option for Yuuri if he wanted more competitive experience toward the end of his first Senior season. Other notable skaters include Stephane Lambiel and Johnny Weir when they were Novices.

Other international competitions for Juniors include:

  • Egna Spring Trophy – it was known as the Gardena Trophy for the longest time and that’s the name you should use in fics for Yuuri’s middle school years as a Junior. Tatsuki Machida is the only notable Japanese Junior to have competed and medaled (gold!). Which could make for a nice set-up in a story… A decent amount of Japanese skaters go to this trophy, but nowhere near the number of U.S. and Italian skaters who attend – and of the Japanese skaters who compete here, it’s largely in the Ladies division. Notable Senior Men’s medalists are Shoma Uno, Takahito Mura, Keiji Tanaka, and Takahiko Kozuka. The competition has been around since 1990 for Juniors, included advanced novices in 2006, and Seniors in 2011.

  • Coupe International de Nice (Nice Cup) – includes Novice, Junior, Senior levels. It’s not popular with Japanese skaters at all, but MANY Russian skaters have competed here, so this would be a good competition for a young Victor. It’s been around since the 90s.
  • Golden Bear of Zagreb – if the name sounds familiar, it might be because we see Yurio on the podium at the Golden Spin of Zagreb between his showing at the Cup of Russia and the GPF. The Golden Bear is the Junior/Novice version of the Golden Spin. It even includes skaters below the Novice level. As of 2012 it has a Senior division. It’s not popular with Japanese skaters, but it’s a long running competition – the Golden Bear has been around since the 80s and the Golden Spin since the 60s – so it’s pretty noteworthy.
  • Coppa di Merano (Merano Cup) – started in the 90s and includes all levels; not very popular with Japanese skaters in the Junior and Novice levels, but some Seniors have skated there.
  • NRW Trophy – started in 2007 it falls in late November/early December, so it’s a good time for Junior Yuuri if he didn’t make the JGPF. Although it’s not very popular with Japanese skaters either.
  • Coupe de Printemps (relatively new, started in 2012) – includes Novice, Junior, Senior levels. Many young Japanese skaters have competed here. Given the year it started, it would be a better choice for Minami than Yuuri unless you ignore dates completely. 
  • Denkova-Staviski Cup (relatively new, started 2012) – not very popular for Japanese skaters. However, it’s a legit option for Yurio and makes a nice opportunity for where Minami might have competed with him.
  • Bavarian Open – Novice, Junior, Senior levels. It’s been around for a while but almost no Japanese skaters have competed here.

(and there are many more competitions, but that’s a decent list for now)



If you need to make up some scores to fit that time period, this is a wonderful site which has all of the big competitions from 2003-2018 (Junior Grand Prix, Grand Prix, Challenger Series, some Senior B competitions, Worlds, etc.) along with who competed, their scores, and graphs to visually see it all: