rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Sooner or later, everything leaks out and animals get to hear what others think about them.


(Apologies for missing two weekends in a row; today is technically still a weekend for me.)

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have booked this morning and tomorrow morning off work to attack the current essay crisis.  (tbh, if I tried to solve it with an all-nighter I'd end up taking time off to recover from that, this seems less foolish)

3 hours, assignment open, go.

Update:

I managed 2.5 hours with a short break after the first 90 minutes.  There's ... a lot more of it than there was, but also a lot left to do. That is what this evening and tomorrow morning are for. 

Stages of my assignment writing:
  1. outline
  2. structure
  3. hatred
  4. spitefully filling in structure
  5. grudging admission of interest
  6. absorption
  7. completion
  8. wow, that was a really interesting topic!
I am solidly in stage 4.

(and now it is raining and I have to walk to work imminently)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The ongoing return to work
Two more 4-day weeks at work have gone quite well - this is the Tue+Thu afternoons off model.  I have got quite a lot done, some of it urgent and important, without getting especially stressed.  I'm not as fast or as good as I'm "used" to being [as in, pre-cancer], but I'm being good enough, I think.   I have another two 4-day weeks booked, next week with Friday off, and the following week with Monday off.  This will let me find out which pattern is easier. 

I expect I will book another run of 4-day weeks after that though.  I'm still spending large chunks of my weekend days in bed, and rather more of my weekday evenings falling asleep early or sleepily hitting refresh on things without getting either OU study or Duolingo done, or even much reading.  I am really fed up of slow-motion OU essay crises, but I'm in the middle of another one, basically because I was too tired to study for too much of the last fortnight month.  Also, I use the app Regularly to track various self-care and housework tasks (which all need doing at some point - we're not talking make-work here) and I'm in the red on an awful lot there. 

So I'm regarding that as great honking warning signs that I'm running too close to my limits.  I plan to keep on doing 4-day weeks until I get my study hours back where they should be, and my Regularly dashboard back to mostly yellow and green.  I have enough leave left, together with things already booked, to do this until September, so I may as well take advantage.


Physical fitness
I had my second session of beginner's T'ai Chi today, and I'm really enjoying it.  It feels very gentle but focused; I've learned I can do it in a comfortable tunic and leggings, which is what I wear a lot of the time at the moment, and it's gentle enough I don't need to change.

I'm managing the cycling to work via nursery, and walking home via school okay at the moment.  I still get out of breath but no longer as boiling hot; I think I'm gradually getting faster, and it's becoming more routine.  On Monday I cycled to the hospital and back from work for an appointment, and on Wednesday from nursery to Hills Road and back on top of everything else, and wasn't completely flattened as a result.  Even so, like work, I think I'm doing enough right now, and shouldn't look to add anything else until study/Regularly tasks are under control.


Medical
Monday's test was a bone marrow sample.  It was moderately painful and I needed longer to recover before I felt able to go back to work than I would have predicted.  On the good side, they told me they got a good sample without apparently having to work too hard for it, unlike certain of the previous samples I've had taken.  I see the consultant on 10th May (it got moved back, I think because my test was later than originally planned) and as far as I know I won't hear anything before then.  All the external evidence is reassuring though.


... and this has taken me long enough to write and I need to do another chapter of study before I fall asleep.
rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
Nico has been accepted by the same school as Charles.  It's what we were expecting, but there's a difference between "very likely" and "formally confirmed".  Now I can move on with a bunch of medium-term planning.  First step, finding out if there's room in the afterschool club for him.

Once we get past the initial reception settling-in phase, our weekday logistics will be a lot less complicated for the next two years.  But in about a year's time I have to start evaluating secondary schools, eek.

(If you want to know how the schools application process works, it's all here: http://www4.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/info/20059/schools_and_learning/363/applying_for_a_school_place/4)
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
With the exception of Blackthorn and the addition of Bluebell, the rabbits who set off from the southern end of the beech hanger early the next morning were those who had left Sandleford with Hazel five weeks before.


This chapter opens Part III: Efrafa

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Last week: 1 Bank Holiday, 1 intended half day that I took off because of migraine, 2 half days and then a full day to finish the week.
This week: 2 half days and 3 full days.  This is the first week I have actually worked 3 full days since returning to work, and it was more bearable than I'd feared.  I could track the cumulative toll by the effect on my after-work achievements:

Monday: made supper, did my Duolingo, did lots of studying
Tuesday: made supper, did my Duolingo, did some studying
Wednesday: made supper, did my Duolingo
Thursday: made supper, wrote a blog post in bed

Today was the second half day, and I spent the afternoon resting in bed, with a pleasant interlude catching up with my mother on our ~weekly phone call, before doing the evening nursery run.  I then made supper but have returned to bed shortly afterward. I may yet manage my Duolingo. Tomorrow is busy, with multiple things for the children, and a date with [livejournal.com profile] fanf in the evening, so I am deliberately taking it easy this evening and Sunday.

Next four weeks:
w/b 11/4 & 18/4: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off
w/b 25/4: Friday off
w/b 2/5: Bank Holiday off

They're all four-day weeks but I expect the 4 consecutive days to be harder.  I'm going to review again on 4/5, or sooner if I get another migraine or other indication I'm overdoing things.


Other notes
I have my first follow-up bone marrow test on 18/4 and my review with my consultant on 26/4, so I will probably be extra-twitchy between the two.  Objectively I am continuing to improve steadily, there is no plateau or reversal of progress, and I've even stopped needing to change my clothes on arrival at work.  But I'm extra-aware at the moment of every time I get out of breath when cycling or walking or climbing stairs; I am 99.9% certain it's because I'm pushing just hard enough to keep improving my fitness, but the 0.1% is fixated on "breathlessness means cancer".   Charting my progress in these posts is one way of keeping that 0.1% in check.


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
This was inspired by a tweet from [personal profile] hollymath about singing at the next Glee Club, and whether there were "enough" LibDem Hamilton fans to include songs from it.  Despite having no idea yet about when I shall next get to Glee Club[1], I found myself pondering the question every time I listen to the cast recording[2].

Glee Club is a long-standing feature of LibDem (and previously Liberal) Party Conferences: late on the final evening people gather and sing for a good few hours, aided by the regularly-updated Liberator Songbook[3], and possibly also by alcohol.  I'd group the songs sung into three rough categories:
  1. Contemporary political songs from assorted points in history, sung pretty much straight (e.g. The Land, We Shall Overcome)
  2. Filks on well-known songs which comment on specific political events/arguments/personalities - there's usually at least one or two new ones of these each year, and the best keep on being included each year (e.g. The Lib/Lab Lie, Letterboxes, 12 Days of Merger/Coalition)
  3. Songs sung for the sheer joy of them (e.g. the various regional songs, anything performed by Pauline P)
The sung-through nature of Hamilton means most of the songs depend strongly on context, and/or have sung or spoken narration & dialogue embedded within.  This makes the cast recording delightfully complete, but does make it harder to pick out songs that work in isolation.  Some of my favourites are also so technically challenging I'd not want to try them in a Glee Club setting, e.g. Guns and Ships or Non-Stop.

Category-1 songs:
Cabinet Battle #1 is explicitly political, though for Glee Club you'd need a confident performer to lead each section, and I think you'd have stop it at "I'll show you where the shoe fits" for it to work as a one-off.

The Room Where It Happens is all about power and who takes decisions and how (there's a whole lot of resonances for coalition e.g. "no one really knows how the parties get to yes / the pieces that are sacrificed in every game of chess"); for Glee Club I'd start it at "Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a room" and cut the opening dialogue between Burr and Hamilton.

Category-3 songs:
The Story of Tonight is a very feel-good little song about friendship and common cause, though not explicitly political

Hurricane in isolation is beautiful, and has a certain appeal to anyone who's written leaflet after leaflet attempting to persuade the public to vote for them.


You'll notice I've included nothing in category-2 - I think Hamilton is novel and excitingly political all by itself; maybe when it's old hat I'll be ready to think about filking some of it for political commentary, but that isn't this year.  Also, I really love My Shot but it's really a bit long and complicated for a group mostly new to it; I think Wait For It is beautiful but the central attitude of "I'd rather wait for things to be explained/improved than do anything active about it" doesn't feel very LibDem.

If I had to pick just one, then I'd pick The Room Where It Happens.   Though I confess I'd love to hear Pauline singing Burn.




[1] September is too far away for me to predict my state of recovery, but not so far away that I can handwave it as "surely I'll be done by then", as I have for e.g. Helsinki 2017.  Also, politics really is off my priority list while I focus on a) recovery b) family c) work d) study so it's hard to justify the time/expense of Conference even when I am recovered.

[2] Yes, that's still pretty-much daily, yes it's been nearly three months, when normally I get over this repeat-listening phase in a week or two

[3] When I helped my mother move house a few years ago, I unpacked her collection of Songbooks, and spent a happy hour or two reading through them.  I estimate it as at least 2/3 complete and has a lot of low numbers.  The selection of what songs are included each year is its own little commentary on the political context.  One day I want to write that up (or to read someone else doing so ...)



rmc28: (reading)
I haven't been reading much recently but my course textbooks. However, there were three novelettes I read from the handy eligibility list provided by Clarkesworld, that I liked and haven't yet written up:


Ether by Zhang Ran
I can't work out how to talk about this story without spoilers, so I'll just say that it's a bit slow starting, but I found it worth sticking with it.

The Servant by Emily Devenport
Murder and political intrigue IN SPACE (on a generation ship).

So Much Cooking by Naomi Kritzer
A near-future pandemic as seen through the entries on a cooking blog. I found the first entry mildly irritating in style (in a real-world blog, I'd probably not bother reading it), but then the story began to move and I was completely sucked in.


Plus Ann Leckie linked to a short SF story of hers, The Endangered Camp

"And I said, jokingly, “Now the race is on–who will be the first to submit a Post Apocalyptic Dinosaurs on Mars story?  And about two days later I was driving and was fortunately on an empty street when it hit me just how I could write exactly that."

It is an excellent post-apocalyptic dinosaurs on Mars story.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The following morning all the rabbits were out at silflay by dawn and there was a good deal of excitement as they waited for Hazel.



[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: (BRAINS)
As well as all the caring-for-sick-child, I woke up this morning with a migraine.  (I am only managing to type this with the brightness turned way down on my laptop.)  Not entirely surprising after multiple disturbed nights and higher-than-usual amounts of exercise, but entirely frustrating as well as painful.

I suppose ... at least I'm well enough to overdo things enough to get migraines?  The last one I had was in Bristol the week before I went into hospital last summer. 

*scales back immediate plans even further*


Right now I don't even know if I will be able to work tomorrow; plus I need to check with nursery about when Nico can return (I expect not until the antibiotics are finished, but not sure, and not going to cycle there to find out.)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Nico developed an ear infection that got nasty enough yesterday evening for me to call 111. Saturday evening of a 4-day weekend is a rubbish time to access healthcare: the 111 computer systems were running slowly with the overload, but the screening nurse did her job carefully and referred us to local urgent care.  Urgent care did follow up assessment, but we agreed on an appointment this morning rather than me dragging Nico across town late at night.

He woke at least twice in the night in some distress, both times when he was due a new dose of painkillers.  (Ibuprofen is pretty effective; paracetamol, not so much, though better than nothing when it's too soon for more ibuprofen.)  It is dramatically obvious when he is in pain by the way his entire personality and demeanor changes, and when the painkiller dose is taking effect by the way he returns to his usual sunny self.  I am so glad the ibuprofen is so effective.

It was a bit of a struggle after the rough night, but even with stupid clock changes, I managed to get us out of the house and to his appointment on time.  To my complete lack of surprise he was prescribed a short course of penicillin. I asked about open pharmacies and was told airily "oh, Boots, Tesco, ASDA, I'm sure at least one of them will be open", so I biked over to them in turn (they are about 5 minutes apart) ... all closed. A quick google established that there was one (1) pharmacy open for the whole of Cambridge today, between 10am and 2pm only, and even further from home than we'd already come.

When we got there, it was a little local pharmacist and it was heaving with people queueing to hand in prescriptions and waiting to get them dispensed. Thankfully Nico was still cheerful and treating it all like an adventure, and I managed to keep him entertained for the 40-odd minutes we were there. I suspect the impulse purchase of a microwaveable Bagpuss helped:




In total I cycled over 14km today (normally it's ~6.5km to work via nursery). For some reason I slept most of the afternoon and have been fairly useless the rest of the day.

Hugos

2016-03-26 15:40
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
There's less than a week left until nominations close, and I've not read much in the last few weeks, nor do I expect to in the remaining days. So I'm going to try to wrangle something out of my placeholder list this weekend. (The placeholder list is where I've put things that were apparently eligible, that I've personally read/watched/consumed/etc and liked enough to think worth nominating)

Tasks to attempt:
  • enter what I've got without any further delay - DONE (phew)
    • decide on the best 5 of 11 short stories - DONE
    • decide on the best 5 of 10 pro artists - DONE (easier when I realised a bunch of my placeholders weren't eligible, at least not for the examples I'd noted)
    • skim the contents of Up and Coming[1] to see if I already like at least five Campbell-eligible authors enough to nominate them - DONE (and yes, I did)
  • finish The House of Shattered Wings so I can decide if it is displacing any of the 5 novels I already have
  • read the remaining novelettes on the handy list of eligible works published by Clarkesworld in hopes that I'll find two more I think worth nominating
  • if necessary, read stories from Up and Coming until I have five authors to nominate

[1] A collection of works by 120 eligible authors, free to download as ebook, available only until 31 March 2016

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
2 half days, 2 full days and thankfully a bank holiday.

It's the first time I've worked two full days in the same week.  Monday went fine, but I was seriously struggling Wednesday afternoon and went straight to bed and splat once I got home.  I was really glad yesterday was a half day for me, and that I now have a long weekend and then a very easy week, before I try again at the multiple full days the week after. 

I found myself saying "I literally should not run before I can walk" in conversation on Wednesday about exercise and how much I miss running and how I keep looking wistfully at local fitness classes.  I am still finding it funny, because it's true.   Though I do have an exercise class starting in a few weeks: a beginners tai chi class on Friday lunchtimes.  It's local-to-work and cheap, so if I'm not up to doing it when the time comes, I won't lose much money.

One of the things we covered on the Maggies Wallace course was reminding ourselves how far we've come: because I'm back at work I'm bumping up a fair bit against my memories and established habits from before I got ill.  But if I compare myself now to how I was at the worst parts of being ill (the first week of treatment; the week back in hospital in November) I'm doing really well

I've also gone through the handout on managing fatigue from a session I missed and it's essentially stuff I already know: (sleep, pacing myself, eating well, doing enough exercise to build up strength but not enough to exhaust myself, identifying things that replenish energy and things that deplete it, etc etc).

From week after next I want to see if I can manage working 4 day weeks (using annual leave)
- which also implies a cycle ride and a walk every day
- plus keeping up my studying
- plus keeping up my share of housework

... and I shouldn't look too far beyond that for now, even if I do have longer-term goals in mind.



rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
3 days to go:
Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Anthology by Apex Publications
Looks like a fun collection of short stories, with some good names I recognise in the author list, starting at $5 for the ebook. Also, somewhat buried near the end of the very long information page, there's an add-on: $10 extra on top of your choice of pledge gets you a year's digital subscription to Apex Magazine, half the usual price.


8 days to go:
Svaha STEAM Angels: Smart Dresses for Smart Women
Science-themed dresses (!), with pockets (!!), with a really wide range of sizes - I won't even be getting the largest size (!!!)


24 days to go:
Duel for Citizenship by Holly Matthies
A book about the real challenge that is getting British citizenship, told by someone who is living it.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
Week 4: 1x full day, 4x half day
Week 5: 3x full day, 2x half day

In practice:
Week 4: 3x half day working at home, 2 days off sick
Week 5: 3x half day, 1x full day, 1x day off to look after child

Week 6 will be 2x full day, 2x half day, 1x bank holiday.  That completes my phased return and I will officially work full time from Monday 28th March.  In practice, due to bank holidays and school holidays (leave I would have taken anyway even if fully well) I will be working:

w/b 28/3: 1x bank holiday, 3x half day, 1x full day
w/b 04/4: 3x full day, 2x half day

and we'll review at the end of *that* if I need to use more half days for the next two weeks or if I feel able to actually work full time.  I finally checked my remaining leave and I have enough left to keep up a 4-day week for several months, which definitely takes the pressure off.


Argh

2016-03-16 09:59
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I was over the cough enough by Thursday to work from home the rest of the week, and to take Charles around some Science Week things on Saturday, and to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] beckyc for Bolshoi Ballet at the cinema on Sunday (all of which kind of deserve their own post) and I was gently cracking on going to work in the actual office this week and then ...
  • I managed to take the only set of bike keys with me to a thing at the hospital yesterday afternoon, and Tony needed them to collect Nico from nursery
  • so I tried catching a bus back to work after the thing, which in theory takes about 20 minutes, and in practice after an hour in horrible rush hour Cambridge traffic I disembarked and hoofed at speed to the nursery instead, and got there 10 minutes before closing, go me
  • and then I managed to coax a 3yo to walk nearly 2km home, go both of us
  • I have an essay crisis this week and really needed to work on it yesterday evening, and the whole bike-bus-nursery palaver didn't help.
  • and then Nico would not go to sleep 
  • and then started crying like in pain and saying his ear hurt, and we checked him over for signs of illness and injury but found none
  • so we gave him paracetamol anyway, because he was in pain
  • and he did go to sleep almost immediately after that, and though he woke up an hour later pain-crying some more, he went back to sleep fairly quickly
  • and this morning he was his usual full-of-beans happy self
  • so this morning I took him to nursery and mentioned the ear thing
  • and got sent home with him because the rule is no nursery for 24 hours after a dose of paracetamol
And argh, I appreciate the reasoning, and I want the nursery to be as minimal an infection source as is possible with large numbers of small people with no sense of personal space, and I would hate it if Nico got suddenly iller and made the other children ill, but it was a sudden and unexpected inconvenience.  Mostly I wish I'd known/remembered the rule before I cycled to nursery and back.

Working from home while in charge of a healthy and active Nico is pretty difficult at the best of times (looking after an ill Nico is actually easier because he tends to be quieter and less mobile) so I am not even trying.  I have asked for an emergency day's leave instead.

(and it might mean I get something done on my essay? who can say)

rmc28: (reading)
Thanks to [personal profile] calissa I discovered Nisi Shawl's crash course in the history of black science fiction, which seems like an excellent basis for a reading project.  I'm not committing to getting through the course quickly, or in strict order (though I'm almost certainly going to start with the most recent and work backwards) but I am committing to getting through it, and to writing some kind of blog post in response to each book. I have read exactly one of the books already, but many years ago.

This post is going to be a progress marker for me, and so I've made a copy of the list below the cut purely for that purpose; the plan is to turn each title into a link to my blog post about it when written. I strongly recommend reading Nisi Shawl's original list with commentary though.

Anyone else want to join in?
the list )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read - short stories

Mercurial by Kim Stanley Robinson
I can’t decide if I like this more than I’m irritated by it: a Sherlock pastiche set on a future Mercury full of art galleries. Also a pastiche of 1930s pulp SF? (I haven’t read enough of the latter to be sure).

Transitional Forms by Paul McAuley
A tale from the frontier of artificial life

Liminal Grid by Jaymee Goh
A near-future tale of government panopticon and resistance

First Do No Harm by Jonathan Edelstein
Medical SF! An old space-faring culture, which has lost much of what was once known about how to treat illness. I couldn’t put this down - it seems to be the author’s first published SF, but I hope there will be more to come.

Conjure Man by Stefon Mears
I liked this tale of trickery and houdou; apparently there is a novel coming, which I will look out for.

The Opening of the Bayou St John by Shawn Scarber
Magic and multiple worlds and motherhood.

Into the Wreck by June Oldfather
A vivid tale of a stranded research community literally swimming inside an alien spaceship. I felt it ended very abruptly and rather unsatisfyingly but what there was engrossed me and I would happily have read a lot more in the setting. (This is a common frustration I’ve found since setting out deliberately to read more short fiction - too often the stories stop just when they’re getting interesting; my other frustration is "deliberately ambiguous ending or ran out of idea?")

The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley
A great little self-contained novella about Nyx and her team from the God’s War trilogy. I like these stories far more than I’d expect, given the high bodycount and the general grimness of the setting.  (Currently only available to patrons at Hurley's Patreon)

Plus several episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold:
Stasis by Lindsay Smith (ep 4)
The Golem by Ian Tregillis (ep 5)
A Week Without Magic by Michael Swanwick (ep6)
Radio Free Trismegistus by Ian Tregillis (ep7)
I'm continuing to enjoy and be engrossed by the story, and fairly impressed with how the different authors are matching style and characterisation across the episodes.

What I'm reading now:
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, which is very good and very gripping, and a fairly grim tale in an utterly miserable setting. So I'm struggling a bit with it.

Acquisitions:
Magic & Manners by CE Murphy - it's a CE Murphy book, and it's a "Pride and Prejudice with magic" book, and that was enough for me to buy it on spec ;-)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I caught another dratted cough, probably from the child who was ill last week, and so far this week I've managed one half-day working from home (planned as a half day as part of the phased return), and two days completely off, because I had no brain for work.  Yesterday I reached the point where emotionally I feel like I will never be well again, this cough is going to last forever and I will never get anything done ever again. Intellectually I know this isn't true, and I have felt like this at some point every time I get a cough, and I always get better, and I even get things done!  But my emotions aren't listening ...

Also it's only a month since the last cough, and there was one at the end of December before that, and before that the cold that landed me back in hospital in November.  While I am grateful to actually have a functioning immune system again, it could clearly be a bit more robust.

Also also, once again it's OU assignment-work time, and I should be doing that and contributing to my tutor group discussion, but I have no brain :-(


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
A collection of 11 short stories, which the publisher very kindly makes available via Creative Commons in assorted formats. I got this because I had enjoyed the novella The Surfer reprinted in Lightspeed; sadly I did not get on so well with this collection. I think this is a personal-taste thing: they are all written beautifully, but most are a bit too weird, a bit too creepy, a bit too strange for me.

There were three stories that I did like:
  • Travels with the Snow Queen - a retelling of the fairy tale, which I happened to read very shortly after reading The Raven and the Reindeer. Not at all the same, but perhaps riffing off some of the same themes. (This was a James Tiptree Jr. Award Winner & World Fantasy Award Nominee.)
  • Flying Lessons - old gods in modern Scotland
  • Vanishing Act - a girl staying with her family in 1960s USA, missing her missionary parents and slowly fading away
Kelly Link has three more short story collections which I intend to work my way round to.

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
'You're not too tired to silflay, are you?' asked Dandelion.



[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I did not post a review after week 2, but I asked for and got agreement to do two more weeks at 60% time.  I had slightly more energy in week 2 than week 1, but not enough that I felt confident taking on a full extra day's work.

Weekend 1: did almost nothing

Week 2: got rather more done at work, yay. Meals and sleep went a bit better, and I started doing some studying towards the end of the week.

Weekend 2:
Saturday: attacked the studying backlog for the most immediate deadline, went to a PARTY (gasp! socialising!) in the evening.
Sunday: was ded, barely got out of bed

Week 3:
+ much more back in work routine
+ Thurs/Fri especially I was working more intensely than I have since coming back
+ coped much better with the full day on Wednesday (though this might have been because I was working from home, because of child illness, so much less physical effort involved in the day)
- complete splat Tuesday evening: I'd done a load more cycling than usual because of child-illness-logistics, and I came in, ate something, sat down "for 10 minutes" to rest, and woke up a couple of hours later.
- slightly less dramatic splat Friday evening, in that I spotted it coming, made food for me and children early, and deliberately went to sleep as soon as Tony got home.


We had planned to attend my stepmother's birthday party this weekend; on Thursday evening I made the decision to cancel the trip. It would have been 4ish hours there and 6 hours back on Sunday by public transport, or about 3 hours each way driving - but I'm the only driver in the house.  I just didn't think I could do all that, and attend the party, and still be fit to work on Monday.  So I am being sensible and spending the weekend at home (and tackling some more of the study backlog) and trying not to be too resentful.


rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
In the Honeycomb, Bigwig and Holly were waiting to begin the second meeting since the loss of Hazel.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]



rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Fiver lay on the earth floor of the burrow.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]



rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Good things:
+ went to work every day
+ did all my child drop-offs and pickups, and made supper as planned
+ did some work! answered questions! pointed out a useful tool to a colleague!
+ good meeting with Occupational Health nurse, who was happy with my plan and the flexibilities built into it

Things to improve:
- arrived late every day
- slept through my alarm Thursday morning, after the full day on Wednesday, and arrived really late
- was late with supper Thursday and Friday evenings
- was really tired Friday evening and am still tired today


I think I'm hitting a kind of uncanny valley effect the closer I get to normality, the more I notice the difference between how I am and how I was / how I feel I should be.  Back in January when a bicycle ride to nursery left me tired for the next day and a half, I didn't care about being late to work, or worry about arriving sweaty.

I still think I'm right to focus on building up the physical activity faster than the mental activity, but I'm feeling it today ...

rmc28: (silly)
(It is currently a few degrees above freezing when I cycle to work)
  1. Help! It is freezing cold and I can see my breath in the air! Put on coat, gloves, hat-with-earflaps, and still feel shivery!
  2. Hmm, I seem to be warming up, better take the coat off at the next traffic lights.
  3. My hands are a bit hot, perhaps I should take my gloves off.
  4. Ow! My hands are too cold! Put the gloves back on again.
  5. My head's a bit warm, the hat can come off.
  6. My hands are sweaty! Take the gloves off again.
  7. Still cold, but my hands are ok. 
  8. Actually my hands are strangely warm.
  9. Help! I am suddenly Boiling Hot all over and there isn't anything else I can decently (or easily) take off!
  10. Slow down for remaining journey in hopes of cooling down before arrival.
I have stopped even bothering with the coat, and I am doing much better on the days when I wear a long-sleeved running top for the commute and change into something more work-appropriate on arrival.  Shivery at first, but keeps stages 9-10 fairly minimal.  I need to find better gloves.  (Thinner? Easier to remove?  Maybe I need lightweight mittens or something.)

I didn't use to overheat so much.  I'm hoping it'll pass as I regain fitness, or cycling to work in summer will be no fun.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I just registered on, and paid for, the four remaining modules to complete my business degree by September 2017.

I have a plan and it is a feasible plan and it has contingencies in it if I can't hit that deadline, so here we go.
rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short stories (I'm too tired to write even a one-line blurb for these, have links, they are short stories I liked)

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea by Sarah Pinsker

The Fixer by Paul McAuley

Between Dragons and Their Wrath by An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky


Long fiction:
The Reindeer and the Raven
by T. Kingfisher, as previously mentioned.  (it is very good, do read it if you like fairy tale retellings and/or  The Snow Queen story)


Acquisitions:
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Stasis by Lindsay Smith (TWWCIFTC episode 4)


rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
As things turned out, Hazel and Pipkin did not come back to the Honeycomb until the evening.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
One of my treasured possessions as a child was my complete works of Hans Christian Anderson, and I know I read and reread the Snow Queen story in it several times.  This retelling by T Kingfisher is wonderful and absorbing; I half want to go reread the original to pin down the differences (because time has dulled my memory) and half want not to, because it won't be as good.  There are multiple(!) no-nonsense grandmothers, a raven with a decided viewpoint on the world and his place in it, and some delightful otters.  And the dreams of plants turn out to be surprisingly important.

It also made me cry, for personal reasons almost entirely unrelated to the plot.  In this passage, Gerda and Janna (the bandit girl) are talking with Livli, an old Sámi woman, about a magic shapechanging reindeer skin.


Janna interrupted her thoughts by asking, "What if I wear the skin instead?"

"Can’t,” said Livli. “Oh, I’m sure you’d try, don’t get me wrong. But you’re too set in your own skin. You’re a healthy young animal and you know it. And people who really live in their own flesh and know it and love it make lousy shapechangers.”

“I…well. But Gerta doesn’t?”

Livli shook her head. “Some people don’t. Their bodies carry them around, but they don’t live in them quite the same way.” 

She leaned over and patted Gerta’s hand. “Don’t look so stricken, dear. It’s not a personal failing. And I think there may be something else at work here, too. You’re outside your own skin even farther than you ought to be. Have you had a long illness recently?”

 

I had to stop reading for a bit, because I hadn't even realised that I was feeling a disconnection with my body, and that it was bothering me, until I read it put into words about someone else entirely.  I don't always love my body, but I do normally live right inside it and know it well (which is why I knew something was wrong even before I got really ill), and I've been a bit detached for some time, and I hadn't even realised and it explains ... oh all sorts of little things about how I'm recovering, and how even with habitual self-monitoring I'm frequently surprised by feeling Suddenly Energetic or Suddenly Tired.

So I stopped reading for a bit and had a bit of a cry at my revelation (and a bit more for having had cancer in the first place because apparently now is when I do that, not when it was happening) and then I went back to the book until I'd finished it.  It was worth it.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Yesterday I had a meeting with my boss and we went through my plan for a phased return starting next week, and caught up on the highlights of what's happened while I've been ill.  The current plan is:

Start on 60% time and review after 2 weeks. I'll work Mon-Fri mornings, and a full day on Wednesday.  Ideally after two weeks I'll be ready to move up to 80% time, but if not, we'll stick on 60% for another two weeks.  For 80% time I'll add in two more afternoons, Monday and Friday, and again we'll do two weeks and review how I'm doing - should I cut back again, stick on 80% for another fortnight, move up to full time.

I have an appointment with Occupational Health next Wednesday, which I can go to with this plan in hand, and the experience of the first few days on it.

I have been practising my commute for a couple of weeks (cycle there via nursery; walk back), and I'm no longer wiped out by it, just left a bit sweaty and sticky.  (This is what changes of clothes and work showers are for.)  I'm very deliberately choosing to go in five days a week from the start, because I'm more confident in my physical fitness coming back than I am in my ability to concentrate on my work for a whole day.  But both need practice to improve.

It was really nice to be back in the office and see my colleagues again.  I'm really looking forward to next week, and getting a bit more of my life back.
rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short fiction

Hereafter by Samuel Peralta
A time-travel love story.

Monstrous Embrace by Rachel Swirsky
I nearly got put off this by the elaborate prose style, but after the first few paragraphs I was sucked into this fairy-tale-from-a-different-perspective.

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass by Jeremiah Tolbert
What if everyone had a portal fantasy to fall into?

Departures by Sara Polsky (poem)

And episode 3 of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold: Double Blind by Max Gladstone. I am really enjoying this serial; the episodes are short enough for me to keep up with, and I think our characters just had at least two more conflicts of interest layered on top of the existing set.


What I'm reading
The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher.  This came out on Tuesday and I bought it late on Wednesday night as reward for finishing the latest OU assignment on time.  I am about halfway through and greatly enjoying it, especially the raven.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Jodie and Renay's favourite short fiction of 2015

I've read the following from that list, all of which I would recommend:
(which implies I have a high chance of liking the rest of them)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The PINs were sent out over the weekend. Neither Tony nor I received ours (and yes, we checked the spam folder). I saw this tweet from MidAmeriCon II which says:

"If you have not received your Hugo PIN, please email hugopin (at) to check membership & email address details."

So I did, for me and Tony, and our PINs were returned remarkably quickly. We had supporting memberships in 2015 and have attending membership to 2017, either of which would have entitled us to make nominations.

I encourage anyone else in a similar position to make sure you get your PIN, just like I encourage everyone to nominate stuff they have really enjoyed from last year, whether you think you have "read widely" or not, whether you can fill every slot or not: if you loved it, nominate it.


I have a placeholder post which I'm still working on; for other recommendations you can try:

(for short fiction)
Clarkesworld short fiction, sorted into Hugo categories
Uncanny Magazine short fiction, sorted into Hugo categories
Strange Horizons reader poll for 2015

(for everything)
Nicholas Whyte's many reviews of Hugo-eligible media
Ladybusiness recommendations spreadsheet

rmc28: a folder labeled Musicals Collection next to a stack of CDs (musicals)
My ongoing obsession with Hamilton has reminded me that my general knowledge of musicals is pretty poor, although the ones I've seen I've generally enjoyed. Ebay and my hazy memory of the 1990s came to the rescue, and I now own a set of 75 instalments of "The Musicals Collection": a series of CD cast recordings with accompanying magazines giving a newbies guide to the musical, the stars, the composer(s), the context, etc.

Musicals!


Should keep me busy for a while (once I can stop looping Hamilton) ...



rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Hazel sat on the bank in the midsummer night.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read - short fiction
The first two episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold. Cold War spies in Prague, and a different kind of struggle between competing factions of magic-users (and of course the two conflicts overlap and group people in different ways). I loved the pilot enough to subscribe to the series, and the second episode confirmed my opinion ...
A Long Cold Winter by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (1/13 - free to read online)
A Voice on the Radio by Cassandra Rose Clarke (2/13 - requires payment)

Tigerskin by Kurt Hunt
Warning for harm to a child in the opening! but not quite as it seems.

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg
Admiring letters sent along trade routes between two different magic practitioners.

La Lune T’attend by Peter S. Beagle
Werewolves and magic and old men trying to protect their families (a bit gory in places)

Charlotte Incorporated by Rachael K. Jones
A brain in a jar who wants a better home.

Long fiction
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, as reviewed separately.


Acquisitions:
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link - an anthology of short stories by the author whose novella I liked a couple of weeks ago
The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley - a novella for Patreon supporters, about Nyx from the Bel Dame Apocrypha books


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I owe thanks to [personal profile] naath for alerting me that this was out, and "thanks" to the dratted cough I currently have for giving me several hours of insomnia to beguile last night.

I enjoyed it very much but it isn't quite what I was expecting: it is very much a story of the delights of peacetime, domesticity and science rather than the excitements of lethal politics, galactic intrigue etc.  About what you do when you've saved the Empire a few times and it doesn't need you to do that any more.

Cordelia is at the centre of it, three years a widow and beginning to think about what she wants to do next.  Being Cordelia, rather than Miles, the plot proceeds sensibly and in a measured way, rather than breakneck chaos. There's a lot of Cordelia and Jole dealing with administrative hassles on Sergyar, getting paperwork done and carving time out of busy schedules.  There's a lot of reminiscing too, seeing various major incidents of the past 40-ish years from a different point of view.  There's very little actual peril (which really threw me because based on previous Vorkosigan books I kept expecting things to escalate that didn't ...)

Everything's political, and there's definitely something about the way that stories of WAR and DEATH seem more important than stories of building, creation and family.  Of the previous Vorkosigan books, it's probably most like A Civil Campaign only without the farce (and, thankfully, nothing as excruciating as That Dinner Party).   I think the genre is "family-saga in a space opera setting".

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Human beings say, 'It never rains but it pours.'



[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read
Four short stories by A.M.Dellamonica. An extract of her book A Daughter of No Nation was in Lightspeed 67, I got caught up in it and went to look for the full thing, to discover it was the second of a series, and balked at the price. So I read three short stories which are related to these novels (but I think work well as standalone stories) - it's all kind of epic fantasy in a world made up of small islands and lots of sailing trade links and piracy:

Among the Silvering Herd
The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti
The Glass Galago

And then a fourth story about a werewolf puppy in danger in Vancouver: The Cage


Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I finally started it! Once I started, I found it hard to put down, and liked it a lot (although it gets quite gory in places, and there's a distressingly high body count towards the end) - the terrifyingly creepy Wood, and the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia both worked well for me.

The "pilot episode" of Bookburners (serialised fiction "created by" Max Gladstone and written by him with some others) which was good enough to get me interested in reading more, though I despair at my to-read pile. 

What I'll read next
Probably the pilot of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold.

rmc28: (family)
Today's consultant appointment confirmed that I seem to be cancer-free[1], and I am now formally in follow-up.

I will have bone marrow tests every three months for the next three years, and I'll continue to see my consultant in clinic, I think on the same frequency (the next one is 3 months from now anyway).


[1] the definitive all-clear comes from a PCR test on a sample which looks for a faulty gene called PML/RARA which is a distinctive feature of APL; that test result hasn't come back and the consultant says that "it will trickle in eventually" but every single other sign points to me being all clear.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I managed to take N to nursery by bike 4 out of 5 days this week. On Friday, we were running later than usual, and I had a nutrition course to get to at the Maggie's Wallace centre at the hospital at 10. There was no way I would get there on time by bus, so I was slightly courageous and cycled it. I went very slowly when compared to Before Cancer, and got very wet but I had time on arrival to change clothes and tweet a humblebrag before the course started.

I got home again in the afternoon without major incident, though I was very tired, and I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon in bed resting. This left me in good shape to cycle up to Girton for Matthew's singstar party which was most excellent fun. Cycling home about 1am was rather lovely - I pointed the bike homeward and didn't rush, and it was well above freezing so I didn't even need gloves.

The only downside was that the cycle ride woke me back up without wearing me out enough to sleep, so I accidentally started looking up Hamilton videos on YouTube following [livejournal.com profile] siderea's very helpful review explaining what all the fuss is about. The official cast recording isn't available on YouTube from the UK (sigh) but enough unofficial videos were available to convince me to buy the cast recording. I got as far as The Room Where It Happens before turning it off so I might actually sleep. (Actually, for other UK people, the video of Lin-Manuel Miranda performing the opening song at the White House in 2009 is available and that pretty nearly sold me all by itself.)


rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Rabbits (says Mr Lockley) are like human beings in many ways.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
One of the Tor.com novellas, I read a review and bought and read it on impulse. I couldn't put it down and stayed awake a bit too late last night to finish it. Binti is brilliant at maths, on her way to take up a place at the best university in the galaxy (against the wishes of her family), making friends with other new students ... and then things go horribly wrong.

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
Another story about the wonderful Grandma Harken in Jackalope Wives (and if you haven't read that, please do, it's excellent). I particularly love the description of the railways and their magic, but mostly I'm there for Grandma Harken and her grumpy, no time-for-this-nonsense approach to sorting out messes.

Maiden, Hunter, Beast by Kat Howard
A unicorn hunt story that I was gripped and surprised by.

Beacon 23: Little Noises by Hugh Howey
An exciting adventure set on a space beacon; a tale about being alone and lonely and making mistakes.

The Queen's Reason by Richard Parks
A rather self-aware fairy tale; a bit meta; with an ending I loved.

The Surfer by Kelly Link
A reprint novella in Lightspeed 67 which I enjoyed: a teenage boy in a plane-load of people quarantined with a flu scare; the people dynamics and the future geopolitics are shown really well, even if the boy Dorn is somewhat self-centred and oblivious and would rather be playing soccer.

What I'm reading now: the non-fiction parts of Lightspeed 67

Books acquired this week: Binti, as discussed above

What I'll read next:
I've got as far as loading Uprooted onto my phone, so I "just" need to set aside some novel-length reading time for it.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
detail of exercise/capacity )
Conclusions:
1. I was not nearly as grateful for my fitness level before getting ill as I would be if I had it now.
2. My body does respond well to increasing activity by increasing fitness, now as much as before.
2a. So long as I remember to adjust plans and take rest in response to tiredness/reaching limits.
3. Migraine-management has been such good practice for 2a.

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The night you left the warren, the Owsla were turned out to look for you.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read:
Everybody Loves Charles by Bao Shu
A really plausibly creepy novella taking celebrity culture and life-logging to a logical conclusion

Old Paint by Megan Lindholm
A heartwarming family tale about a self-driving car in the 2030s.

Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang
The politics is unsubtle but I really loved the imagery of the giant city folding itself up and unfolding a different area for portions of each day.

Find a Way Home by Paul Cornell
Alien first contact with some enterprising twelve-year-olds and a really good teacher.


What I'm reading now: nothing

Books acquired this week:

These Pricy Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. I've read it before thanks to [personal profile] deepad's Anuja Chauhan reading challenge, but it finally turned up on Abebooks at a price I was willing to pay for a copy of my own. The House That BJ Built, which I definitely read in hospital this summer but seem not to have mentioned even in passing on here, is a story about (different people in) the same family about 30 years later.

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. I read it from the library a while ago but wanted my own copy; I have the whole series from A-W in paperback now, and X will be out in paperback in August this year.

Truthseeker by C.E. Murphy. I have fallen behind on my collecting of everything C.E. Murphy writes in the last few years, so I was glad to seize the opportunity to get this.

In addition, Tony bought Uprooted by Naomi Novik which lots of people have been enthusiastic about.


What I'm reading next:
One or more of the new arrivals above. And more short fiction. Uncanny Magazine and Clarkesworld Magazine have both produced helpful lists of the original short fiction each published last year, categorised into length categories as used by the Hugos:
http://uncannymagazine.com/uncanny-magazine-2015-award-eligibility/
http://neil-clarke.com/clarkesworld-magazine-and-award-eligibility/
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
In the Sandleford warren, Holly had been a rabbit of consequence.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Yesterday was not so much fun.  The site where my line was removed is a bit bruised and sore, and it's just where Nico likes to lovingly headbutt me when he leaps in for cuddles.

In addition, I went for a smear test, and had to abandon it as too painful. We'll try again in another 6 weeks (as far ahead as the GP booking system goes), and if that fails, there's a specialist gynae clinic I can go to.
cut for smear test detail )


This week with children back to nursery and school, and Tony back to work, we have been working on the daily and weekly routine.  In my head I call it "practising for work".  I've been trying to get up and get the children ready as though I were going to work; and in the evenings I've been collecting Charles and preparing supper as though I'd just got back from work, so it's ready when Nico and Tony get back from nursery.  In between time I'm resting or studying or getting health work done.

We're trying out planning the weekday evening meals on Sunday, aiming for something a) I can cook b) everyone will eat c) different each evening.  Previously we used to rely on Tony to figure something out each evening when he gets home.  Tony is a much better cook, but I can do basic stuff, and would like to practice and improve.

So far the evenings are going better than the mornings, but this morning I did achieve me+children ready early enough that I could take Nico to nursery.  This was also my first bike ride since July.  I had no problems at all with the mechanics of cycling - the bakfiets is as delightful and familiar to ride as ever - but by the time I got back I needed to sit down for a nice long rest.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
What I've read
The One That Got Away by Victoria Alexander, Liz Carlyle, Eloisa James & Cathy Maxwell
A collection of four Regency romance novellas that I got because I was being completionist about Eloisa James and the library didn't have it.  I probably liked the James the best, but none of them were very memorable; neither were any of them terrible, and they were just right for tired me at the start of the year.  It also was a book off my to-read pile before I managed to buy any more, which almost never happens.

Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo
A beautiful little short story with a tiny hint of fantasy.

The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan
A novelette imagining Peter Pan and one of Wendy's descendants, with a seasoning of Fleming; I found it by turns funny, silly, and creepy (a bit like the original then).

Telling the Bees by T. Kingfisher
"There was a girl who died every morning, and it would not have been a problem except that she kept bees."  That's the opening line to this very short but lovely fantasy story.

What I'm reading now
Does the OU textbook on marketing count? I am not enjoying this section of the module very much but the deadline loometh.

What I'll read next
More short fiction - it's a lot easier to read the odd one here or there than a novel-length book.

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rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Rachel Coleman

May 2016

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