rmc28: (tony)
Charles wasn't thrilled to see me when I picked him up today, but we got home, and we avoided the temptation of shopping while cross with each other, and then he helped me put the bins out.

Then we got food-for-children on the go, and I had some consolatory chocolate ovaltine, and Jonny helped me wrangle children while Tony made delicious filling beans+bacon with truly luxurious amounts of butter and garlic. Charles talked to me some more about Christmas cards, but this time when he wasn't hungry, and we came to mutual understanding and agreement, and there were lots of hugs.

Tony and I had beans and bacon, and a mutual-support-and-venting conversation, and Charles has been reading upstairs, and Nicholas is being affectionate and chatty, and in general the world is a much better place than it was 12 hours ago.
rmc28: (OMG)
By 8am this morning I had already:tales of success and woe )

Why is there never any chocolate left?
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Yesterday I walked into town with Nicholas to get him new shoes and do other errands.  He asked to walk when we crossed Jesus Green, and as we were making our slow erratic way across the park he gestured and asked about the people playing some kind of ball game enthusiastically to our right.  I glanced over properly (most of my focus being on him up until that point), and took in the three goals at each end, and the sticks between players' legs, and the pattern of play.

"Yes darling," I said.  "They're playing Quidditch."

I'm not sure I'm happier that there were people playing Quidditch in the park on a Sunday lunchtime, or that I could recognise it in a glance.

Nico has not been paying sufficient attention to Harry Potter to care about such things. Charles might have done, if he'd been with me.  We haven't got much further through the books because he is focused on Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequels.  I'd rather be reading Harry Potter but so long as there is reading at all, I am not complaining.   Too easy to kill his enthusiasm.

rmc28: (bat-funny)
Thank you so much for signing up for yuletide. I'm sure you're going to do a great job. It's pretty likely you don't know me, so here's a bit about my general likes and dislikes, and then I've basically just cut and pasted my Details section for each request for reference.   Hopefully this will spark off something if you need it to; you may already have a story in mind in which case go for it!

Likes: teamwork, competence, friendship/affection, women being awesome, people valuing each other and working together, people communicating like adults, people being awkward and embracing it anyway, optimistic or hopeful endings.

I'm comfortable with ratings from general through to explicit smut, please go with your comfort level and your own sense of the characters you're writing. If you do write sex, I like it when everyone is having a good time and it's a consistent continuation of their relationship together (whether that is a one-time friends-with-benefits or lifelong monogamy or anything in between).

Tropes: I like friends-to-lovers, road trips, odd-couple partnerships, and also the crackier fanfic things like soulmates, wingfic, A/B/O, genderswap, bodyswap, groundhog day. The latter group especially work for me where they are exploring who these people are, how they would work if that thing was true / that thing was changed.

Basically I am after "tell me MORE about these people" whether that is filling in a missing scene, adding some backstory, speculating What Happened Next, or sticking them all in a coffeeshop AU for fun and giggles. I am an especial sucker for competence: show me my darlings being brilliant at what they do and I will adore you for it.

I'd really prefer not to have an explicitly grim or really dark story. I need some kind of hope at the end. If you are writing hurt/comfort I prefer the hurt to be mostly offscreen, and the focus on the comfort. I have a sufficient humiliation/embarrassment squick to find most sitcoms unwatchable, so I'd be really grateful if you avoid that. In general I find it hard to cope with reading harm to children, graphic sexual violence and non-consensual sex. Please avoid lengthy focus on pregnancy or childbirth (but passing mention is fine, as is care of babies or children).

As for my requests: I would love ANY of these, so don't worry about sticking to the one you match on if you find you can do one of the others better. The Yuletide rules say you are expected to write something including all the characters I've nominated. I personally don't expect you to do that (and in the Imperial Radch case it might be a real struggle to do so) so please don't feel you have to shoehorn someone in to meet a quota if you have a perfectly good story going on with other of my nominated character(s) without them.

The Brothers Sinister Series - Courtney Milan
- Violet Waterfield, Sebastian Malheur, Rose Sweetly, Jane Fairfield

Ok, I LOVE this series so much, and Jane and Violet and Rose are all such awkward darlings, Jane embracing her bad taste and occasional lapses of manners, and Violet and Rose getting so engrossed in their science and maths respectively. Sebastian's love and care of Violet in The Countess Conspiracy never fails to bring me to tears. Sometimes they are of laughter, like when he flirts with her using classifications of rakes.

So here I would love to see a bit more of Violet and Jane's friendship (which is only lightly hinted at in the books. Maybe some scenes fleshing that out. I can't think of a scenario where Violet's genetics research would ever need a computer, but if it did, then Rose would be the obvious choice. Or maybe just my adorable science girls geeking out at each other and sharing tales of woe like having to stop sciencing to go and meet social obligations. I'd love to see Sebastian basking in his faculty-wife role, maybe teaming up with Jane to fend off critics of women doing science.

Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
- Nyseme Ptem, Sievarden Vendaai, Tisarwat, Mercy of Kalr

I am completely smitten by this series, and in particular by the way I get more out of the books with every reread. This is one where I think it's particularly unfair to expect you to write something involving ALL of my nominated characters, as Nyseme Ptem hasn't yet appeared or interacted directly with any of the others, and is only referenced in the daily prayers of remembrance. (Unless you want to invent some backstory where she did know someone on Mercy of Kalr).

So ideas here: what Nyseme did and thought before she acted at Ime, how Sievarden treats Mercy of Kalr and what Mercy of Kalr thinks of her. Do they work together to manage their Captain? Tisarwat and Mercy of Kalr before and after her implants are disabled.

And if you want to include any of the other characters in this rich and fascinating series, please do. I just nominated the ones I most wanted to read (more) about.

Werewolf Marines - Lia Silver
- Charlie, Echo

I love this series, and I enthused about why in this entry. In case that's tl;dr, it boils down to: shapeshifting coolness without dodgy sexual politics; romantic protagonists who are living with believable mental illnesses, but are still attractive and allowed to find love; love does not magically fix everything.

I am particularly drawn to Echo in Prisoner and her deep attachment to Charlie, who is so very like her in appearance and unlike her in physical health and personality. Anything exploring their relationship, some of their history, even just them bantering together, maybe something from Charlie's point of view, maybe an external point of view on them both. Please don't take it in an incest direction though; I can see how that might be a plausible interpretation but it really wouldn't work for me with these characters.

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
- Abigail Brand, Carol Danvers, Janet Van Dyne

I really love this series, which I discovered after getting into the Marvel movies and the attached megafandom, and how different many of the characters are from their movie versions, and how many cool and interesting characters haven't even made it into the films yet.

Janet is lovely, the real heart of the Avengers, and pretty much the only one who stays in the team throughout the series. I'm utterly fascinated by Carol and her friendship with Janet, and her response to acquiring powers; in particular her utter rejection of Mar-Vell's attempts to protectively coddle her, and by extension Earth, after inflicting her with Kree powers. We don't see much of Abigail Brand, but what we do see is competence, decisiveness, charisma and leadership (like when she recruits Sydren), and hints at an interesting backstory: "who said I was human?".

So anything with these three working together would be wonderful: is there a friendship as well as a working relationship between Abigail and Carol? How did Abigail come to work for SWORD? How do Janet and Abigail get on? Maybe a story where they work together against an alien threat, or maybe just a girls night out telling war stories. If you wanted to go in a femslash direction (with any two or all three) that would be hot and awesome, and if you wanted to stick with friendship and teamwork that would be delightful and awesome.

Gravity (2013)

I would love to read anything exploring the world of this film. It's one that seems ripe for what happened next stories - we don't even know where Ryan Stone eventually lands, or who is going to find her, or what is happening to the world with so much satellite infrastructure destroyed. There's so much to speculate over what was happening on the ground, maybe at mission control, maybe at a random school or astronomy club or something watching what's going on.

Or you might want to look at what happened before. We know that Stone is a just-competent-enough astronaut, having done the minimum six months training because she's just that good an engineer that they need her in space to fix Hubble. How did she get into that situation? How did she get through training? Did she make any friends?

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
- Rita Vrataski

I just rewatched this film, and oh wow it is such a good film. I especially love Rita Vrataski who is the hard-ass hero being gradually-less-incompetently helped by her sidekick Cage. I would love anything more about her.

It could be from before the movie starts, exploring what happened at Verdun, or who Hendricks is and how she came to kill him over 300 times. It could be why she signed up, and how much training she did before Verdun (the opening credits say "just a few months training" I think). It could be how she met Dr Carter (he has that lovely throwaway line about "well and then I met Rita so now I'm just a maintenance worker with delusions").

It could be any scene within the move from her point of view rather than Cage's. Or it could be what happens next, whether on the micro-level of what Cage says when he finishes laughing at the end of the film to the huge macro-level, with armies marching to meet each other over a devastated Europe.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We have two shoe racks to give away:

They have been claimed and have left the garage!

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Last weekend when I was migrainey, I spent a bit of time thinking and ordering stuff to improve our hallway and kitchen.  The stuff arrived during the week, and I spent much of yesterday sorting it out and installing it, variously assisted by children and spouse.

In probably tedious detail if you aren't me )
rmc28: Charles holding his baby cousin (charles and cousin)
C: "Mum, I know why the tooth fairy was a day late that one time when I put the tooth under my pillow and she didn't come and take it away that night but the next one.  It's because you fell asleep early that night, and you are disguising yourself as the tooth fairy!"

Me: "Is that so?  Shall I stop?"

C: "No! Because I like getting the money."

There is a new tooth going under the pillow tonight.  I'm currently considering leaving extra tonight as a bonus for having worked it out.

I'm wondering if when he'll take the next logical step and figure out who's filling the stockings on Christmas Eve.

(Now both children are dancing around the kitchen to Talking 'Bout My Generation. Sometimes they are lovely together.)

rmc28: (BRAINS)
Sunday: mild migraine - got very little done
Monday: recovery day - as migraine was mild I was able to work, but I did minimal effort apart from that
Tuesday: easy normal day with no run
Wednesday: busy day, lots of walking, no run
Thursday: in theory a fully recovered day, should have been out running at lunchtime but lacked all motivation and didn't
Friday: mild migraine, could still work, weekend plans cancelled, that explains my mood Thursday
Saturday: migraine continues

I know what the stress trigger is behind this, but I can't fix it easily (that's why it's stressful!).  (It's child-related and not for public discussion, sorry, not trying to be all I-have-a-secret at you, readers.)   Running is a great coping mechanism but not at times like this, where there aren't enough days I can run.  I need better/alternative coping mechanisms. 

I can't fix it today.  Today is for resting and recovering so I can do my job next week.  I have used three Audible credits on Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and the first third of the BBC Lord of the Rings adaptation by Brian Sibley.
rmc28: (wonderfrown)
Today's XKCD usefully skewers the devil's advocate approach to discussion, which long-time readers will remember I loathe.

It's the alt-text that makes it, for me.  I still don't want to be your entertainment.  Go find a boat.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
 I got it on my phone when I woke up and have been reading it in every spare moment today. I loved it and it is a bit more straightforwardly structured than AJ. But it's past my bedtime so more words will have to wait. 
rmc28: Charles holding his baby cousin (charles and cousin)
Charles is 8 today.  We took advantage of a teacher training day last week and spent Friday and Saturday at Legoland Windsor, which was a good family trip, but very tiring.  He got a few birthday presents there from us, and some more from relatives when we got home.

I've been living in Cambridge for 18 years now.   I am finding this strangely hard to comprehend.

[icon is a recent photo of C holding his baby cousin the mustardseed]
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I am now trained to use the evac chairs to help people who can't use stairs to escape my office building in case of fire.

Training was fun (if a little warm at times): we each in turn practiced unfolding the chair, being behind the chair and in front of the chair (it is a two-person job), and we all had a turn in the chair so we know what we're inflicting on people.  While I winced at the repeated use of "wheelchair-bound", the trainer was at least firm and clear that we should always ask the person being moved how they wish to get into the chair "as they know best how to move themselves".  I kind of wish that didn't need to be stated, but we're not in that world yet.

At the moment, we don't have anyone using a wheelchair in the building, but there is at least one person who cannot use stairs.   And of course there may be temporary reasons why someone cannot use stairs at a particular time: most likely injury or panic.

Also, yay checklist for making sure we had covered everything we need to know.

(And then after a couple of meetings I went to the gym and lifted weights, and now my muscles are really tired.)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I finally got around to booking a "personal program" discussion with one of the fitness staff at the University Sports Centre, so I can add some weight training to my routine.  So we did the discussion and assessment on Friday lunchtime, and I'm heading out shortly for my walk-through of the program he's developed for me, with the idea that I'll follow it for "a month or so" and then book a review.

My previous experience of weights in gyms has been fixed machines.  Here we're doing bar and kettle bell stuff and it is all new and I am not very strong (at least by comparison to the available weights).    I found the exercises interesting to learn and satisfying to do, and the trainer was utterly professional and helpful, giving nothing but constructive and positive commentary.

But I found the whole assessment session intimidating and stressful.  I was painfully aware of being a visibly fat woman exercising incompetently in public.  I feel like that sometimes when running, but at least then I leave people behind (or get overtaken/left behind by faster runners).   And I'm going to have to grit my teeth and get through that intimidated feeling every time I go and do a session.   It will no doubt get easier as I get better at doing the exercises, but I can see it's going to be another barrier and something to guard against on days when I'm less motivated.

I feel ridiculously grateful that the trainer was professional and positive.  It would have taken very little in the way of judgemental tone or negative comment to upset me enough to cry during that session, and then I would have been hysterical and emotional as well as fat and incompetent.  And at the same time I feel furious that I should be so grateful for someone doing their job properly.

rmc28: (silly)
Nico has a new consistent and very clear word: Poo. 

Charles finds this very funny.  Ok, so do I.

Also Charles has begun asking daily when we are going to have another baby.   He doesn't like the answer "Never".  This is the stereotype one expects from one's mother-in-law, not one's beloved firstborn.
rmc28: (reading)
At his request, I just read the opening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as Charles's bedtime reading.   He was really engaged until sleepiness won.    We've also got the films, but he was quite definite about reading each book first before watching its film(s). 

I haven't actually seen the last four films either, and it's been a while since I read the books.  I'm so looking forward to sharing this with him.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have nominated fandoms for Yuletide for the first time. I may even manage to sign up this year.  

(My brain weasels, let me show you them: I may need handholding for actually asking for what I would like when the time comes.  I'm no longer worried about writing 1000+ words for a gift exchange in a shared fandom, but 10-100 words on something-for-me was too much of a barrier last year.)

Anyway, I nominated Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes after finding myself adding evidence to the argument it should be accepted.  I also nominated Imperial Radch - Ann Leckie which has only 3 works on AO3 at the moment.  Finally I nominated Brothers Sinister Series - Courtney Milan which doesn't appear at all on AO3, but which I would *love* to read fanfic for (Women being awesome and doing science! And hot men who treat them like people!).  As [personal profile] metaphortunate put it "Courtney Milan, back to her: it's like a romance novel, with the focus on women, and the comfort reading style, and the sexy parts, but without the bit where the women are doing everything Wrong and the men swoop in and correct them."

So I'm really hoping these all get accepted, that I actually manage to sign up and offer/ask for these, and that there will be an increased amount of fanfic for all three to read on Christmas Day, whether or not any of it is produced by or for me.

Also in fannish mode: Ancillary Sword is released two weeks today.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
1. New words.  New words all the time.  New phonemes rather less often, so guesswork is frequently required.  On the other hand, the most recent new word is a very clear "Hey!" complete with indignant intonation.  Yesterday I was well impressed with "toc milk" i.e. chocolate milk. 

2. No.  Alongside all the new words is a lot of no no no no no.  "Do you want a cuddle?" "No" "Do you want a drink?" "No" "Time for a nappy change." "No".  Sometimes complete and furious meltdown when he isn't getting what he wants.  Two is clearly hard.

3. He's currently utterly fascinated with putting the DVDs in and out of the player.  Sometimes he doesn't even want to watch them very much, just establish which one they are and then get a different one.  As he's got more stable and careful, I've become more relaxed about letting him be in control of what goes in.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
1. He wants ukulele lessons.  I am entirely happy to support this, but it just took me five minutes to find my chequebook.  I wonder if I can persuade the music teacher to take bank transfers if he sticks with it after this half-term.

2. He has convinced me he can cross the one quiet road safely so he is now walking (most of the way) to school by himself.  Except the first bit is my route to work so yesterday we had an argument because he wanted to Do It Himself so refused to walk with me, and I wouldn't set off for work until I knew he was on his way.  So we had this embarrassing standoff halfway down the road until a friend of his turned up and he could save face by walking with friend.

3. He was losing his temper in the shop yesterday and
a) actually listened when I suggested going outside to wait for me and calm down and
b) found that it did actually work and came back much calmer, if still upset, about five minutes later. 
We continue to discuss the merits of walking away and counting to ten.  I'm making a lot of use of the latter at the moment ....

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I woke up a bit after 4am to find both children had come into my bed during the night, despite neither starting the night that way.  I snuck downstairs to watch the end of the Scottish referendum results.  No more than 15 minutes later, Nico turned up next to my chair looking very sleepy.  About 15 minutes after that Charles turned up looking worried and very sleepy.

I've spent the next hour or so fielding questions about the election from Charles e.g.
"What does 'united' mean?" 
"Why wouldn't Scotland want to be independent?"
"What's a nation?"

Meanwhile Nico is playing with wooden blocks and ignoring the tv.

ETA: well, that was a disappointment
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
+ back to work after 2 days sick
- lengthy meeting in room with flickering projector triggered a new headache
+ free lunch
- colleagues with assorted troubles taking them away from the office
+ played with new free project-management app
+ which resulted in dumping a lot of stuff I was perseverating over into external memory
+ got a few of those "little non-urgent but useful" tasks done
- missed book club due to headache
+ tony being supportive and children being (mostly) lovely
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read
I still haven't been reading books much.  I had a migraine yesterday and read the entirety of Talyn by Holly Lisle which I bought my own copy of this year.  I wrote a short review of it in 2010, based on the library copy.

What's next
I have a vague plan to reread Watership Down but I think that will be its own set of posts.  Mirror Empire is still sitting where I put it when I unwrapped the parcel.  It's three more weeks until Ancillary Sword comes out so I hope I unstick my reading by then. (I did devour the first chapter free on Orbit's website).  Maybe I'll reread Ancillary Justice for bookclub tomorrow.

Books acquired
I got Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho & Whispers Under Ground, all by Ben Aaronovitch, at a very reasonable price from the Angel Bookshop on Bene't Street.  This is a local independent bookshop that stocks the sort of books I like to buy, so I suspect we'll be back.   Charles has figured out that I am a pushover when it comes to buying him books so he got Diary of a Wimpy Kid which I'm hoping he'll read with me.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I went to see this with C, as we have both enjoyed the previous four Tinker Bell films from Disney.  Things that I generally like about the series are:
  • Disney has gone with Tinker = Engineer and Tinker Bell is the best most amazing engineer that the fairies have ever known.
  • Not all the fairies are white! (though they are of course all slender and beautiful).
  • Most of the main characters are female.
  • Which means there are multiple different female characters who are allowed to be different rather than a single Strong Female Character.
  • And the characterisation is consistent across films and the plotting is generally fun, if a bit predictable.
Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy felt quite short (it's under 80 minutes), and has a rollicking action plot where almost all the fairies are drugged to sleep for several days, enabling the theft of the super special fairy dust that allows fairies to fly.  Tinker Bell and her friends are the only ones awake to see the theft and set off in pursuit.  There's some nice little nods / setting up characters for the pirates in Peter Pan (and are we all shocked when the pirate with a super-posh English accent turns out to be extra bad? no we are not), and there is a happy ending where friendship and teamwork save the day. 

I find it amusing that the films generally fail the reverse Bechdel test i.e. the few token boy fairies rarely talk to each other and if they do, it is usually about Tinker Bell.  This film actually passes because of conversation between the pirates (all male) but I was amused that the six girl fairies went off to have adventures and left a token boy fairy to look after everyone at home.
rmc28: (books2010)
I have not read any books, electronic or otherwise, in the last week.

Instead have two recs for fanfics for Captain America / Avengers / Winter Soldier, both of them doing what I think of as 21st century epistolary form:

User Since (3848 words) by rageprufrock
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death

To: PC (loyaltothedream@hushmail.com)
From: Buck (bucky1956@yahoo.com)
Subject: Report!
Date: May 10, 2012

Phil — where the hell are you, man? Let us know if you're all right, or if there's anything we can do to help. HQ's freaking the fuck out.

tin soldiers (19743 words) by idrilka
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply

In his 2009 book on Captain America comic books, war photography, and American propaganda, Everett claims: “There is nothing to suggest that either the graphic novels issued during the war or the photographs taken during Rogers’ stay with the Howling Commandos can serve as a basis for a queer reading of Rogers and Barnes’ relationship. But even more importantly, there is nothing to suggest that such a relationship ever existed in the first place, and as such, those queer readings are not only misguided, but also libelous” (197).

[from: Lynn E. Anderson, Captain America: Behind the Mask. Steve Rogers and the Contemporary Hero Narrative (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 242.]

In the aftermath of Steve's return to the world of the living and the battle of New York, the academia and the Internet react.
rmc28: Rachel with manic grin holding up wrist with new watch on (watch)
My smartphone (a Fairphone 1) abruptly started taking an age to charge, and then stopped charging altogether. It is under warranty but needs to be sent off for repair which with their advertised turnarounds means nearly a month by the time I get myself in the vicinity of a post office.

A month without the ability to read one-handed while wrangling children to bed, or my running app: the blood ran cold.

I am grateful to [personal profile] andrewducker who linked to a review of cheap Android smartphones, which meant I was at least aware the possibility of a cheap backup existed. I spent some time Monday morning browsing phone seller websites, then got offered a "live chat" by Phones4U and said "ok, tell me the cheapest SIM-free Android phones you offer, that have at least 4GB of built-in memory and take a standard SIM. MicroSD expansion slot is a would-be-nice." Within a few minutes I had a choice of two, rang up the nearest shop, and by lunchtime I had an Alcatel OneTouch Pop C1 for £50.

It's smaller and feels a lot more cheap-and-plastic than my Fairphone, but it a) works b) has been really easy to set up with email, web, ebooks, Zombies Run, enough of my music to make me happy, and a bunch of other apps that make my life easier.  I'm deliberately only installing things as I want to use them, and I expect once I have my lovely big phone back I'll go back to it.  But this is better than I expected as a backup.

Meanwhile I came home yesterday to find Tony watching some Apple event and contemplating a phone ten times the price of my little ETH.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Tony and I are going to Dysprosium (Eastercon) next year!   I'm really looking forward to it.  The children will stay home and a couple of family members have kindly agreed to spend the long weekend taking care of them, which we think will work better all round than bringing them along.

We finally got our head around the voting-on-future-Worldcons process  (after we'd got home, and after completely missing all information on how to vote at Loncon3 for 2016).  So we're now both supporting members of 2015's Worldcon, Sasquan, which means later on we can pay out some more money in order to vote on the four-way contest for 2017, which in turn will give us a supporting membership for whatever wins 2017, so we can do the same again to vote on/join 2019. 

We are blatantly biased in favour of "potential worldcons we can attend without flying", i.e. Helsinki in 2017 and Dublin in 2019.  I am also having far too much fun reading about various train/ferry routes to Helsinki.

Supporting memberships mean we can carry on voting on Hugos, at least for the odd-numbered years, and nominating in all years.  I rather enjoyed that aspect of this year's Worldcon, in particular the various discussions and blog posts among my friends and people I follow online.

rmc28: (OMG)
I found an unpaid invoice for repair to our bakfiets, which has been lurking in my too-full-to-cope-with inbox.  It's now paid ... SIX MONTHS late.

At least it is now paid.  And I paid the plumber just now, the same week they invoiced, so that's much better.
rmc28: (books2010)
Books read

I've read through several kindle samples based on recs from Worldcon.

Oblivion Storm by R.A. Smith
Opens with a rags-to-riches heiress on the streets of 19th century? London and then switches to modern day London, sudden peril on the Underground and something magic- or time-travel related going on.  Not bad, but didn't especially grab me so I'll not continue.

Huntress by Malinda Lo
Two young women are chosen by magical? prophecy to go on a diplomatic mission to the queen of the faries.  I was sufficiently engaged to order a dead-tree copy, which sadly seems to be taking a while to get to me.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This is the first in a YA trilogy about racism, in particular with the relative power of black and white people inverted.  It was recommended at the Diversity in YA panel, and the author is a black British woman who is open in the foreword about this being a book allowing her to express a lot of anger over the racism she's personally experienced.  I'm prepared for it to make me uncomfortable, either because it is a simplistic Message Novel, or more subtly because it makes me more aware of my biases.  But the first two chapters were page-turny and not Messagey, and the library has it in stock so I'm waiting for my reservation to come through.

I then decided I needed to stop reading samples because I'd start getting confused by having too many books in progress simultaneously.

A Bad Spell in Yurt by C Dale Brittain
I put this down for a while after finding it hard to stay interested when being interrupted every few paragraphs.  I managed an uninterrupted hour or two while we were off work, and whooshed through it.  As [personal profile] skygiants made clear, it's a generic Eurofantasyland where Our Hero saves the day by the power of friendship and reading his textbooks really carefully.   If that's what you want to read, it does it very well and I enjoyed it, but I'm not often in the mood for that so won't rush to get the sequels (which I initially typed as SQLs oops work).

Night School by C J Daugherty
This is a YA story, first in a series, about a teenage girl who gets sent away to a boarding school in the British countryside by her parents to stop her getting in trouble.  It is kind of rife with tropes of the genre, right down to instant-friendship-bonding and secret societies and mysteries uncovered, and the inevitable hetero love triangle.  But it performs them well and the characters feel like people rather than placeholders, and I found myself reading it avidly and wanting to find out what happens next.

The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh
This is the last of Balogh's back catalogue in the county library system, which I may write up separately at some point. This one is a rather sweet portrayal of a young, moderately naive heiress and her romantic pursuit of the man her family and his wants her to marry anyway.  It's clever enough to make me sympathise with said heiress rather than want to shake her for being so silly, and I'm glad I read it.

Next books
Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley arrived in today's (Thursday's) post, so I expect that is next up.

rmc28: (silly)
There is a letting agent whose sign I pass on my commute, called Let's Rent Cambridge.  Every time I see the sign, I find myself thinking "what, all of Cambridge?"

Tony was 40 earlier this week and we had a meal at the Cambridge Smokehouse, where the Eraina used to be.  This is a great restaurant if you like meat with your meat and some meat, and I love the "ping a light for service" approach.

I have a new fitness-monitoring-wristband thing (Fitbit Flex for those that care), and my slow overfull waddle back from the Smokehouse was classed by it as "intense activity".  I slightly fear what it will make of my running, when I next manage it.

rmc28: (charles-dragon)
I've talked to some people in person about this, but I wanted to make a brief public post, not least because this topic is going to absorb a lot of my attention for the foreseeable future.

Charles was formally diagnosed with high-functioning autism last month.  Tony & I were not entirely surprised, but now that our suspicions have been formally confirmed, we have a lot of catch-up learning to do.

The letter we have says "high functioning autistic spectrum disorder (also known as Asperger's syndrome)" and later on says "in the medical profession, the term Asperger's syndrome is being phased out and the term high functioning autistic spectrum disorder is being used more frequently". Meanwhile the National Autistic Society insists there is a difference between autism and AS.  

The doctor who made the final diagnosis talked with me for some time and recommended a number of resources (listed below). In addition, I can talk with my youngest brother, who was diagnosed very young, and with our parents for their perspective.

I am interested in recommendations / feedback on recommendations, and will prioritise in the following order:
  1. people who have an autism/AS diagnosis
  2. people parenting children who have an autism/AS diagnosis
  3. therapists, psychiatrists, or similarly-qualified people with recent experience working with people who have an autism/AS diagnosis
  4. everyone else
Comments here, or emails to me at rmcf @ cb4.eu if you want to keep it non-public.

I don't want to talk specifically about Charles on this post, and will probably keep that to locked posts and direct conversations.


From the doctor:
National Autistic Society, in particular the resources on visual supports
The Complete Guide to Asperger's by Anthony Attwod
Managing Anxiety in People with Asperger's
by Anne Chalfant
Mental Health Aspects of Autism by Mohammad Ghaziuddin

From this Captain Awkward post I also identified:
Asperger's From The Inside Out by Michael John Carley

I've got copies of all the above books now.

Based on the NAS website age-appropriate recommendations I've picked out the following to read with Charles, which are on their way.
I Know Someone With Autism by Sue Barraclough
Can I Tell You About Autism? by Jude Welton
A Book About What Autism Can Be Like by Sue Adams

and we also have the NAS's own publication What is Asperger syndrome and how will it affect me? on the way (they are out of stock of I have Autism .... what's that? but I will look out for it being back in stock if the AS one is any good).
rmc28: (books2010)
I've still had a file listing books read and acquired and that list is behind a cut below.  I thought it might be more interesting to put here my post-Worldcon list of new authors/books to try (additional recommendations welcome!).  I'm going through and tracking down kindle samples or library copies for now - my to-read pile being perpetually too big.

Diversity in YA panel:

Malinda Lo - Huntress
Nalo Hopkinson - The Chaos
Robin McKinley - The Hero & The Crown
Malorie Blackman

We Have Always Fought panel:
N.A. Sulway - Rupetta (Tiptree Award winner)
Richard Morgan - Altered Carbon (fanf has this & others on our bookshelves)
Justina Robson - Quantum Gravity series
Django Wexler
Alice Nunn - Illicit Passage (this is the one about sisters and hackers, and I can't find a website for the author)
Carol McGrath - The Handfasted Wife (historical romance rather than SF, about Harold's not-official wife and the Norman invasion)

Other authors who said interesting things, either that I saw directly or through others' writeups:
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
Mary Anne Mohanraj
Kate Elliott
Rebecca Levene
Liesel Schwarz
R.A. Smith
Zen Cho
Tobias Buckell
Candas Jane Dorsey
JY Yang
Max Gladstone

Long lists of books read and acquired since the last Reading Wednesday post are behind the cut.

Read more (why, yes I did) )
rmc28: (bat-funny)
As this year's membership lets me nominate for next year, and the problem is always looking back and trying to remember good things.

lists )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
And I enjoyed it quite a lot but did feel that I wasn't getting in anywhere near enough fannishness (either events or socialising) as I would have liked, primarily because children.

I made a choice to concentrate our childcare funds on 2-year-old N, who is too old to be baggage and too young to be quiet and convenient for adults. There were a surprisingly high number of child-friendly events, but I vastly overestimated 7-year-old C's ability to cope with large numbers of people and a vast and loud venue. So he spent a lot of time out of the venue with one or other of us instead.

I find that I want very much to go to more cons (next year's Eastercon has Jim Butcher whose books both Tony & I like very much, for example), but only if we budget a lot more for childcare, assuming there is any, or wangle some family cover to leave the children behind entirely. [I leave solving the problem of cons - and party conferences and tech conferences - being inherently hostile for young families as an exercise for the reader.]

Whinge over. I enjoyed the two panels I was on, and felt both resulted in interesting conversations in which I was able to make relevant points.  My initial nervousness / imposter syndrome basically dissolved as soon as we got started and it was a great experience.  Several people were pleasingly complimentary afterward, and not all of them were friends and family :-)

(Though it was incredibly heartening to arrive in the huge 7 + 12 room for my first panel and seeing half-a-dozen friends in a row giving a cheerful wave at me, and m'mother taking up her access seat in the front row. )

The other panels I attended also seemed to have a really appropriate mix of participants. Excellent work by whoever matched programme volunteers to panels.  Go that team!  I am absolutely sure there was a great deal of work behind the scenes to achieve that result.
Which reminds me, at least two people I spoke to were unaware how one gets picked to be on panels: there was a programme volunteer form which was drawn to my attention at least twice in the run up to the con, and I filled it in, and a while later I was invited to be on these two panels, and confirm my details, etc.  It was all very straightforward from my point of view, which I think again results in a Go Team Programme!

I have pages of notes of recommended books, authors, youtube videos, blog posts, etc, which I shall try to work through in the remainder of my leave from work.

Oh, and though I missed the Hugo ceremony, I was very happy reading the results this morning, in particular Ancillary Justice winning best novel and Gravity winning best film.  Nicholas Whyte did some analysis of the voting numbers and transfers if you like that kind of thing. For me it's just a pleasure to not be in the minority in the areas where I'd formed a strong opinion.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
(The whole guide is here: http://guide.loncon3.org/  I am currently failing at reading it, but I've got a few weeks.  I also think I have some reading and rereading to do in preparation.)

"We have always fought": warriors vs llamas

Sunday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

In a Hugo-nominated essay published on Aidan Moher's blog A Dribble of Ink in 2013, Kameron Hurley argued that in order to challenge prevailing narratives of women as passive adjuncts to men, we must write more stories that reflect the genuine history of women's involvement in war and conflict. (How) is this being pursued in contemporary SFF? What are the strategies being used by writers to turn the stories we tell about women into stories about warriors, rather than - as Hurley put it - llamas?

Jeanne Gomoll (M), Rachel Coleman, Kristina Knaving, Liesel Schwarz, Rebecca Levene

The Politics of the Culture

Monday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

In her review of Look to Windward, Abigail Nussbaum suggests that the central paradox of Iain M Banks' Culture is that it is "both a force for goodness, freedom, and happiness in the galaxy, and an engine of its citizens' selfish, childish needs to imbue their lives with meaning, to which end they will cause any amount of suffering ... both are true, and both are reductive." To what extent is the Culture, as a political entity, built around this unresolvable duality? How do the Culture novels grapple with the contradictions at the heart of this utopia? And how do the actions of the Culture connect with the more immediate political choices we face in the present world?

David Dingwall (M), Rachel Coleman, Ken MacLeod, Gemma Thomson, Lalith Vipulananthan Lal

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I think we started the school year with 6 each of trousers, polo shirts, jumpers.
We end it with: 5 trousers (1 with a tiny hole in the knee), 3 polo shirts, 1 jumper.

I think this is the worst yet for losing things.   At least the jumpers were all cheap ones? (Because I left restocking to the last minute last summer and my preferred supplier had sold out of everything - trying not to do that this year, but maybe I should just go cheap anyway if this is the rate of attrition.)

Also C is still apparently in the same school uniform size as last year.  What are the odds of him doing a growth spurt at the start of next term?
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
(A tidied-up, expanded, written-down version of a conversation I had enthusing about them to [livejournal.com profile] fanf at the weekend.)

Read more... )
rmc28: (nursing)
I am trying not to feed Nico except in his bed now.  I have also started trying to refuse/redirect feeding except at bedtime/overnight.  This follows a shift to never-offer-never-refuse from when he was about 18 months, and explicitly refusing to feed him at nursery pickup (waiting until we got home) a few months after that.

As a result, I no longer need to choose my clothing by whether I can breastfeed in it, which was especially useful in yesterday's record heatwave when I could wear the lightest work-appropriate clothes I owned.

I'm some way off stopping breastfeeding outright and I have mixed feelings about finishing. Breastfeeding is one of the things my body seems to do well and that feels good, and I will no doubt miss it when it's gone.  On the other hand, I have spent 7.5 of the last 8.5 years either pregnant or breastfeeding, and more than half of that year off I was focused on getting pregnant again.  It will be both strange and good to have my body entirely to myself again.
rmc28: (books2010)
Finished in the last fortnight
Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Prisoner by Lia Silver
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

Currently reading
I just finished The Suffragette Scandal, I haven't made progress on either Bad Spell in Yurt or Infidel in weeks.  So right now - nothing!

New acquisitions
Prisoner by Lia Silver
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
Unveiled by Courtney Milan
Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan
Star Wars: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss

Next books
Saga and/or the rest of the new Courtney Milan acquisitions

I really liked The Suffragette Scandal, as I have the others in its "Brothers Sinister" series.  They're slightly AU historical romances, set in the ~1870s, with women being awesome at maths, science and politics, and with Cambridge settings for at least three of them.  (And Oxford settings for two.)   I also like that I can buy them from Smashwords without DRM. 

The other five Courtney Milans I bought are on offer at 99c (which appears to translate to 72p on Amazon) until 25th July, and are "enhanced" versions of her first five books, of which I think I've read one at the library some time ago.  Sadly they aren't available through Smashwords so it's your choice of DRM-infested sales venues.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Seen before Captain America: Winter Soldier:
  • André Rieu's 2014 Maastricht Concert on 19th July - not really my thing
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - looked very ... macho
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction - looked even more ... macho, with added robot dinosaurs
  • Earth to Echo - expanded trailer, still looks like an updated ET only less good

Seen before Edge of Tomorrow:
  • Guardians of the Galaxy - second trailer, looks a lot more action-y and a lot less strange than the first.  I'm still more interested in the versions that show up in Earth's Mightiest Heroes than the ones in the trailer, but I expect we'll see it once it's out.
  • The Purge: Anarchy - contrived dystopia "one night of lawlessness".  Looked dire.
  • Kick - a bollywood film about a masked vigilante, with a lot of London scenery.  We may go see it.
  • Into the Storm: disaster movie about tornadoes. Very effective trailer but not convinced I want to watch it
  • Earth to Echo - expanded trailer again, the more I see it the less I want to see the film.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Going in to this film, I knew two things:
  1. It was a groundhog-day premise where Tom Cruise gets killed a lot by aliens
  2. There was a woman character who was considered pretty badass 
Non-spoilery reactions after seeing it:
  1. Gosh WOW that was MUCH better than I expected
  2. Tom Cruise keeps looking very like Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, which I found occasionally distracting
  3. Rita Vrataski isn't just "pretty badass" but full co-protagonist and arguably hero of the plot
  4. I may now have to track down more films with Emily Blunt in 
Spoilery reactions:
 Read more... )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
In the early hours of Thursday morning I got an email to say my preorder of The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross was available. (Kobo, Google Play, Amazon). I saw this as I was settling toddler back to sleep from his midnight party and heroically resisted beginning the book there and then in favour of sleep.

Later the same morning I got an email from Lia Silver to say her book Prisoner was out. This is the second "Werewolf Marines" book, and the first in its own trilogy, and it is currently free, with the first book Laura's Wolf at 1.81. Both seem to be Kindle-only.

I very much enjoyed Laura's Wolf, which I read after a brief recommendation by [personal profile] oursin . I think this enthusiastic review from [personal profile] skygiants (on which I commented) covers the main points. Quick version: paranormal romance with military love interests which avoids most of the worst tropes of both. I can report as of this morning that I like Prisoner even better.

Also my beloved Ancillary Justice is reduced to £1.99 in ebook (Kobo, Google Play, Amazon), as is Stross's Neptune's Brood which I like nearly as much.

This is probably time for a plug of Calibre which makes it possible to back up and convert ebooks between different store formats, and means I now have a library with all my ebooks and all my AO3 downloads in one place, and a copy of it on my phone.
rmc28: (bat-funny)
Charles: plays with shiny new Angry Birds Star Wars book from my father
Charles: watches Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Charles: "Oooh! Mace Windu! He is so cool!"
Me: "Do you recognise the actor playing Mace Windu? Have you seen him before?"
Charles: focuses fiercely for a few minutes
Charles: "NICK FURY !?!  THAT IS SO COOL."

Clearly I am going to have to work through SLJ's backlist to see if there is anything else I'm prepared to let a nearly-8-year-old watch.  (I'm only just okay with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that's only if I'm there with him and keeping a careful eye on his reactions to it.)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Missed a few weeks, been ill. Didn't read many books while I was ill.

Finished since last time
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
The Proposal
by Mary Balogh
The Arrangement by Mary Balogh
The Suitor by Mary Balogh (e-novella)
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Currently reading
Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
A Bad Spell in Yurt
by C. Dale Brittain
Infidel by Kameron Hurley

Newly acquired
Star Wars: Triple Zero by Karen Traviss
The Suitor by Mary Balogh

Next books
Saga vol 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina
Women of Marvel

rmc28: Rachel with manic grin holding up wrist with new watch on (watch)
Charles and Tony made me a birthday cake yesterday:
Nearly ran out of candles

Yes, I did blow out all the candles, but only just, and then sucked in a breath full of candlesmoke, so it took a while for the spluttering and coughing to calm down. But then we had cake to eat, so it was all good.

There was a bit of a theme of the children "borrowing" my gifts yesterday:
Roll roll roll

Charles takes a turn

Otherwise I celebrated by going out for a run and by catching up on some of the Enormous To-Do List.
rmc28: (wonderfrown)

Our last* non-family lodger left last night. Charles woke up asking about when we could start moving him and Nico into the room, so I checked on the state of it (just fine, no surprises there, thanks to lovely lodger) and we've made a start.

10 things done )

* at least for the foreseeable future, never say never and all that. Meanwhile, if anyone in Cambridge wants short-term, well-behaved, pleasant, pay-the-rent-on-time lodgers, I can recommend the steady stream of interns on 3-month placements with Microsoft Research, and put you in touch with the people there who compile lists of possible hosts.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I didn't actually manage to close the poll and do the admin until today.

7 unique users were nominated.  I had 300 points to give away, so gave 42 points to each user, leaving me 6 which can sit around until I next feel like doing something like this.

At least one user got more than one nomination; I considered weighting the gifts by number of nominations and decided against, partly because I like the number 42, and partly in explicit rejection of making this some kind of popularity contest.

The recipients were:
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I ran for the first time since breaking my toe - it's been just over 10 weeks, between the toe itself and then getting an evil cold. It was very gentle easy running but it felt really good.

I went to see a "back one day only" screening of Captain America: Winter Soldier, having got the toddler to sleep just in time. (For future reference, I can do my house to the ticket desk at the Vue in 15 min, including getting bike out of garage & locking it at the far end. But I prefer more contingency.)  I still love it, I could still watch it a lot more times, I'm still impatient with the long gap between leaving cinemas and DVD release.

Between the two, I got caught in another rainstorm on the way home from nursery. Less dramatic than yesterday, but I still got soaked to the skin. Again. At least it's warm?
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
A truly enormous amount of water landed on Cambridge just as I was leaving to collect N from nursery. I was pretty wet within a few minutes of leaving work, and decided I might as well continue to nursery rather than try to wait it out (better wet and on time than dry and late). It just kept getting heavier and heavier, and there was also excitingly-close lightning/thunder, with the flash-bang gap between 3 and 8 seconds for most of my journey.

Water was thick and heavy all around, people were huddling in tiny shelters offered by trees, or running or walking soggily onward, as I was. The roads were mostly draining, the pavements were mostly not, great rivers running along the gutters and drains clogging with debris.

I wrung out my clothes as best I could before going into the nursery but still left something of a puddle while catching up with N's day. As we left the building again, I hurried N out to the bike and got him safely inside the cover as fast as I could, though the rain was already lighter than it had been. Within a few minutes of us leaving the rain had stopped, and in a few places I saw it starting to steam off the road surfaces, which I don't remember ever seeing before.

On the last junction before home, a huge ankle-deep puddle spread across the entire cycle/footpath and road. I cycled carefully through it and got us home safely, then walked back with N to see if the drains were blocked. The gratings seemed clear but the water didn't seem to be dropping.

Ankle-deep puddle after sudden rain

When Tony cycled home an hour later, the puddle had disappeared, so we assume the drains eventually caught up.

The rainfall graph for today from the Computer Lab (next door to my workplace) is quite amusing.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] nanila just did this, but as I am also about to renew my paid account, I will buy a few hundred extra dreamwidth points and divide them up among people nominated. (yes, you can nominate yourself - it's anonymous so I won't be able to tell anyway) Just fill in the user name below.

Poll #15534 Nominate someone for dreamwidth points
This poll is closed.
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 8

I would like to nominate the following user for dreamwidth points

I'll close the poll in a week, that is 25th June.
rmc28: (destructive)
I've spent most of the last week doing the sort of thing that, if it were being done by one of my colleagues, would have me telling them fairly bluntly to Stop And Go Home.  That is:
  • coming back from sick leave too soon
  • dragging round the office looking and feeling awful
  • getting stuff done but not really enough/good enough to justify being in the office rather than at home
  • coughing, omg the coughing, I am driving myself mad with the coughing never mind the rest of the office
I conclude that not only is my ability to function impaired, that includes my ability to judge my ability to function.  Today I kept just-one-more-thinging myself from lunchtime to hometime when I should have been going home already.

The Lesson Identified from copious empirical experience is if I feel borderline, stay home. Yes, even if there is important stuff to do.  Yes, even that. Stay Home.

Maybe one day it will become a Lesson Learned.

rmc28: (reading)
I only managed two short stories from The Atlas of Love this week so I'll wait until I've read a few more.


Tor.com republished Night's Slow Poison, a short story by Ann Leckie, author of my new favourite Ancillary Justice, and set in the same universe, though some distance away and with different protagonists.  I liked it very much.


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