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.
rmc28: Rachel speaking at a lectern with microphone and part of the slogan "Stronger Economy Fairer Society" in shot (speaking)
Yesterday I went to the Cambridge LibDems Special General Meeting where we discussed and then voted on whether our local party should call for a leadership election. 

Spoiler - the vote was lost 32 to 45 and Cambridge LibDems the local party are not calling for a leadership election. (Although a number of individual Cambridge LibDems have done so).  That's not really what I'm trying to talk about though, but more about my emotional reaction to this meeting.

Read more... )
Short version: I really care about a lot of people in the party, and even when we are talking about really hard stuff, spending time with them makes me happy.

That's what gets me out of the house leafletting or canvassing on a miserable day or making phone calls (and I hate making phone calls to strangers). Principles and organisations are necessary but a bit too cold, it's the warmth of people I need.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
An anonymous commenter asked on one of my Hugo posts "how do you find the time for all the reading?"

Like anything else, I don't "find" time for it, I set aside time for it, I make it a habit, and I do it at the expense of other things I could be doing.

I can't remember not being able to read; my mother taught me well before I went to school.  I can't really remember a time where I wouldn't read every minute I could.  I read in bites, in snacks, in meals and occasionally in great long gorging feasts that usually leave me bloated and in need of a good walk.

So my set-aside habits: I usually read in bed before sleeping.  I often read over my meals, if I'm eating alone or with someone else who wants to read too.  If I wake early, I read in the morning before getting up.  I read while breastfeeding.  I read while supervising bathtime, and while settling my toddler to sleep.  Sometimes I fall asleep too, and wake several hours later, still dressed and with my phone or my book dropped haphazardly somewhere silly.

I read in my leisure time at the weekend, while the children play or watch TV or are looked after by someone not-me.

I read at the expense of other things: I don't watch much TV, I don't go out a lot, I'm currently not studying.  When I first started studying with the OU, back in 2011, I hardly read a book for months.  Study pushed reading out.  Right now, life has pushed studying out and reading seems to have crept back in.

Smartphones and ebooks have made a huge difference to what I read as well as when.  With my first child, I did very little reading, because turning the pages of a paperback one-handed while breastfeeding is hard.  With my second child, I read on my phone.  I read blogs, I read fanfic, I read ebooks, I read random webpages linked to from blogs, I read the Economist and the FT.  My phone lets me take huge amounts of reading material everywhere with me, and it's easy to read in a few minutes here, a few there.  Some things work well read this way, others really don't.

I can't read hardbacks because they set off my RSI unpleasantly.  I read paperbacks from the library and my to-read pile, but I can't read them one-handed.  I have a paperback pile by my bed and by the chair I use most often in the living room, and sometimes I take a book to work to read over my lunch. 

I think also I read faster than average.  Not as fast as some of my friends, but definitely faster than average.  In the context of a discussion on adults reading "trashy" books, I saw several people assert that this mattered more than watching "trashy" films "because it takes so much longer to read a book than watch a film".  I can read a teenage school story in under an hour.  I think I read most standard-sized books in 2-3 hours.  I got the impression this was not typical.
rmc28: Rachel with manic grin holding up wrist with new watch on (watch)
I've now attempted to read all five nominations for Hugo Best Novel and know what my voting order will be:
  1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (which I have now read three times and get something more from every time)
  2. Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (which I've read once and will probably read again very soon)
  3. Parasite by Mira Grant (which I finished this week and mostly enjoyed)
  4. No Award
  5. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  6. Warbound by Larry Correia
A reminder that my top three are only available as "extended samples" in the Hugo Voter Packet, but I am willing to lend out paperbacks of them for Hugo-voting purposes. Neptune's Brood just arrived and has its first two readers lined up; Ancillary Justice is available; Parasite will supposedly arrive next week (which is why I read a loaned copy) but I'm going to see if Heffers still has one in stock when I go into town this weekend.

rmc28: (books2010)
Finished this week
Parasite by Mira Grant

Currently reading
A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Acquired this week

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin
My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin
Her Hesitant Heart by Carla Kelly
Marrying the Royal Marine by Carla Kelly
The Surgeon's Lady by Carla Kelly
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (paperback version)
Talyn by Holly Lisle
plus ~20 Star Wars books

So of course I spent most of my reading time this week on fanfic ...

Library pile
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina
Women of Marvel

Next books
Saga vol 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
rmc28: (books2010)
I feel a bit silly writing a separate post for each piece of short fiction I read.  I also struggle with anthologies where I read a whole load of stories in one go and then they all get tangled together in my memory.  So I'm going to try this approach: read no more than one a day, write a few notes about each one afterward, and collect them together into a weekly post.

This week: Hugo nominees for Best Short Story

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

A flight of imagination slowly revealing a sad story.  The rhythm and repeated phrases work better when read aloud, or imagined as someone speaking.  The science fiction and fantasy are "only" in the imagination of the speaker of the story - a sort of once-removed effect - but distant is not absent.

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

I tried several times to read this, and got put off every time by what felt like an overflowery pretentious descriptive style, and an uncomfortable feeling of appropriating or possibly even mocking East Asian cultures.  I never started caring about what was actually happening and did not bother to finish it.  (Which is worse? A short story that loses me before the end, or a novel that loses me before the end of chapter 2?  I've probably read more words of the novel, but a much smaller proportion of the story.)

Selkie Stories Are for Losers by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

I liked the writing and the love story and the inclusion of fairy tales and how parents' selfishness affects their children, but felt the sf content is barely there.

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

This is a really lovely variant on the "McGuffin stops people lying" idea, which is also a story about love, culture clashes, family expectations and happiness.

Voting order for the Hugo form:
1. The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere
2. If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love
3. Selkie Stories Are for Losers
4. No Award

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We went to see this yesterday and I enjoyed it a lot. I think I might have got even more out of it if I'd seen Sleeping Beauty again in the last 30 years (I have hazy memories of seeing it at the cinema as a small child with my grandmother Cecillie). Maybe Disney has released the earlier one as a tie-in.

Basically I went because the trailer promised me Angelina Jolie Being Awesome, and the film delivered. I also really loved the huge variety and beauty of the magical creatures in "the moors". The three things that I liked best are all hefty spoilers though, so I will stick them behind a cut.

here be spoilers )

I also enjoyed this slightly spoilery review at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

Trailers: were clearly aimed at the "youth" marketRead more... )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Finished this week
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie - third time through and I still love it
your blue-eyed boys by laleitha - very satisfying, I will be rereading
The Admiral's Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly - surprisingly lovely/absorbing historical romance; am getting my own copy for rereading
One Night For Love by Mary Balogh
A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh

Did not complete
Warbound by Larry Correia - this did better than Wheel of Time in that I stuck with it well into chapter 2 before giving up.  It was pretty unimpressive though - gore, wooden dialogue and infodumps galore.

Currently reading
A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Parasite by Mira Grant

I'm a bit stuck on all three of my books in progress - both Yurt & Infidel are doing badly under tiny-bites-frequently-interrupted which is what my attempts to read both have hit thanks to unpredictable children.  (The romances both stand up better to interruption, and have had the luck to fall in some of my longer uninterrupted reading times).  As for Parasite, I've started it and I'm engaged enough to want to continue, but it's literally a bit visceral and disgusting, and I don't want to read it while eating, or just before sleeping - which rules out about 90% of my reading time. 

Nothing acquired this week

not strictly true - I had this great idea while sleep-deprived on Sunday morning to hunt down all the no-longer-canon Star Wars Expanded Universe books by authors I actually like and don't already have.   This is not going to help my to-read-pile issues AT ALL.  But none of them have arrived as of writing this post so they don't count yet.

Also [personal profile] ceb kindly lent me Parasite and Saga for Hugo reading.

Library pile
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Avalon High
by Meg Cabot
Moon over Soho
by Ben Aaronovitch
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina
Women of Marvel
- I shall not let the PINK cover put me off reading this collection of first issues

Next books
Saga vol 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We had a speaker in at work.  He was probably in his 60s, a bit over-jolly, a bit patronising, but clearly trying to explain something important to him.

He made a racist "joke" during the talk.

As soon as I got back to my desk after the talk I wrote to the organiser of the talk with thanks and a request to feed back that racist jokes were not acceptable.  Also here was a possible non-racist way to make the same point.

The organiser wrote back very soon after and he is passing the feedback on and ensuring that the recording of the talk which we are keeping for future reference has the racist joke edited out.

I am half glad the organiser takes my view and I'm not getting pushback and being told I'm too sensitive, and half still wtf why do we even have to do this. I hope I wasn't the only person to make a fuss.

Elseweb I had a brief exchange with someone who thinks that people in countries with very firm antidiscrimination laws are "scared to say [racist/sexist] things" and therefore don't get educated about how their views are wrong.   I find I cannot agree.  Basically, the reason people are scared to say horrible things in these cases is that other people may point out that they have said something horrible.  I am struggling to find the downside of social disapproval resulting in fewer horrible and hurtful things getting said.

We know that saying things also changes the way we think, that's why telling other people you are starting a new habit is so powerful.   Perhaps not-saying things also changes how we think.  

I rather wish this speaker had been "scared" of making racist jokes.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
notes for self about what we did on each day
list )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We spent most of a week in Sheffield, which was nice and sunny when we arrived and when we left, and rained most of the rest of the time. 

Our accommodation was a family room in a travelodge, very near the Ponds Forge swimming pool, which we visited several times and enjoyed greatly.  There's a little toddler pool (strictly under-8s, constant supervision), and a big main pool with an intermittent wave machine and a 'river' running all around the outside.  There are also two flumes but I was engaged with N on my first visit and they were shut on my second.  N went from terrified of the pool on his first visit to gleeful wading and sliding until he was turning blue with cold at the end of the last.

For getting around, we bought week-long "Citywide" (for adults) and "Getabout" (for children) train+tram tickets, which did the job nicely (except I made a mistake on the first day and bought the wrong sort for a day, which was nearly £20 we didn't need to spend, sigh).  Travel to and from was by prebooked trains, with sets of four seats reserved each way on the long leg from Sheffield to Ely.  Strictly, we don't need to buy a ticket for Nico as he is clearly under five.  Practically however, he doesn't sit on anyone's lap for long, and it's much easier to manage both the children if we have a set of four seats to ourselves, rather than trying to work around a complete stranger in the fourth seat.

Apart from swimming and riding trams, our main bit of tourism was visiting the Kelham Island Steam Museum, which was a real delight.  Charles was absorbed and looking around at everything for most of two hours.  Nico was particularly engrossed by a couple of the exhibits (one where you turn a handle to make light/move a train, another where you have to work out which additions to steel are appropriate for which purpose, against the clock).  He also loved watching a large gas-powered engine spinning, and did lots of spinning himself in response.  We made sure to time our visit to see the enormous River Don engine in steam, which held a whole mass of visitors completely enthralled.

We had a bit of drama in the visit at a point where I thought Charles was with Tony, and Tony thought he was with me, and of course he was with neither of us, having got engrossed in a particularly interesting exhibit.  I was helping Nico who was finding the steam-themed children's play area a bit too challenging, when a member of staff found me and brought me to a scared Charles in the reception area.  Both children promptly burst into tears and clung on to me while I simultaneously tried to soothe them, reassure the staff, and answer a phone call from Tony.  The museum staff were completely lovely about the whole thing, and I'm very grateful to them.

Sheffield being a lot closer to my mother's home than Cambridge, we took the opportunity for a day trip to Leeds midweek to meet up with mum and my stepfather Mick.  Mick's grandchild Sophie came with them, which suited both her and Charles very well.  We had lovely curry at Mumtaz (now licenced as 'Chandelier' to sell alcohol), and then ambled across for an hour or two in the Royal Armouries.  I confess, I primarily treated it as a free dry space with somewhere to sit down with my mother and Nico, though the rest of the party did some actual looking at the exhibits.   I mainly got to enjoy the amazing staircase lined with weaponry, while letting N wear himself out climbing it.

We deliberately didn't try to pack too much into any one day, and came home on Friday so as to have a whole weekend to catch up before returning to work.  As a result I'm feeling about as rested as I ever manage, given toddler.

rmc28: Rachel holding newborn Nicholas (rmcf+nhf)
We have met my Tiny Nephew, the mustardseed born early in Dijon. He is doing well: he's been home from hospital for a couple of weeks, he's breastfeeding rather than through a tube as of about a week ago, though he still needs extra supplements on top. He is still under 3kg and is small enough that when he curls up it is possible to imagine that he might fit inside another person. (Mine were 4.7kg & 4.8kg respectively at birth, and both times I couldn't imagine how they'd fitted once they were out.)

Charles adores him:

Chaffinch and mustardseed

But I have managed a cuddle too:

Mustardseed on my shoulder
rmc28: (books2010)
Finished this week
Fifth Year Friendships at Trebizon by Anne Digby
Secret Letters at Trebizon by Anne Digby
The Unforgettable Fifth at Trebizon by Anne Digby
No Dominion (The Kickstarter Edition) by C.E. Murphy

Currently reading
A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
your blue-eyed boys by laleitha (novel-length Captain America: Winter Soldier fanfic: it counts)

Acquired this week

Fifth Year Friendships at Trebizon by Anne Digby
Secret Letters at Trebizon by Anne Digby
The Unforgettable Fifth at Trebizon by Anne Digby
A Brilliant Little Operation by Paddy Ashdown
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
Agatha Raisin: Hiss and Hers by M.C. Beaton

Library pile
I'm on holiday and I left all the library books behind

Next books
A Brilliant Little Operation by Paddy Ashdown
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka / JH Williams III

rmc28: (bat-funny)
I decided to read this book on the basis of its description as a Batman Regency Romance AU, and was not disappointed!  It is the sixth in the Maiden Lane series of romances, and on the basis of this one I am going to be working through the rest of them though I am not sure they will be able to compare.

This is how we are introduced to one of the protagonists, which is about as Batman as you can get:

Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield, woke as he always did: with the bitter taste of failure on his tongue.

He then gets up, goes down to his Batcave ancient stone cellars and has a workout on the iron rings he's fitted along the ceiling of said cellars, while discussing a potential bride with his faithful butler Alfred valet Craven.  By day he is the Duke of Wakefield, campaigning in parliament to outlaw "the gin trade" because of the terrible effect of gin on poor people.  By night he dresses up as the Ghost of St Giles, in a harlequin outfit and facemask and fights crime and the gin trade on the streets of St Giles.

Over the course of the book it becomes clear that he is trying to recover all the pieces of his mother's necklace, stolen when his parents were shot in front of him as a child, when they were on their way home from a trip to the theatre.

The book opens a bit before waking with the bitter taste of failure, with Artemis Greaves, companion to her rich and spoiled cousin Lady Penelope Chadwicke, going with her into St Giles for a bet.  When the inevitable muggers come along, Artemis pulls out a knife to try to fight them off, only for both ladies to be rescued by the Ghost of St Giles, who is impressed by Artemis's preparation, but accidentally leaves a ring in her hand.  She keeps this as a clue to the Ghost's identity.

Lady Penelope is of course the woman being considered by the Duke of Wakefield as a possible wife, but Artemis is the one he actually finds attractive.  Penelope has other suitors, and it's a show-duel with one of these where Bruce Maximus forgets himself and fights like the Ghost of St Giles, meaning that Artemis recognises him.

Artemis has a twin brother (Apollo, of course) who has been falsely imprisoned for murder.  While Artemis is taking barefoot walks with Maximus,  Apollo gets badly beaten up by prison guards; when Artemis finds out, she decides to blackmail Maximus into getting her brother out of jail.   For some reason not entirely made clear in the plot, he decides to do this by breaking in dressed up as the Ghost and beating up the prison guards, rather than by throwing his weight around as the Duke of Wakefield. 

Oh, and Maximus has a mostly-blind sister Phoebe who he keeps firmly coddled in cotton-wool, and with whom both Artemis and Penelope become friends, and stand up together against Maximus's autocratic insistence he knows best how to take care of them.   (hello again Batman)

This was a lot of fun, very silly in places, and definitely one of my favourite Batman stories ever.

Edited to add I was enthusing about this at [livejournal.com profile] fanf and suddenly realised that Artemis = Diana = Wonder Woman, occasional canonical love interest of Batman. 
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Dear persistent anonymous aggressive commenter (who probably works at Frontier Developments),

Congratulations! You have irritated me enough to create a comments policy.  It is in my profile as of this morning and I'm reproducing it below.  Please abide by it or go away.

Thank you.


Comment policy
Please remember there are real people on the other side of the screen, and communicate in a way you'd be happy to stand by if you were in person. Your comment should be at least two out of kind, interesting, useful & correct.  If you can't manage that, don't post it.

I allow anonymous commenting so that people without dreamwidth accounts or openID can comment if they wish, but I do ask that people identify themselves in some consistent way across their anonymous comments, e.g. by signing with initials or a pseudonym. Anonymous comments with no such identification will be deleted.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
So far today I have:
  • got the children out to nursery and school as usual
  • taken a precious precious 30 minutes by myself where I didn't talk to anyone and no-one wanted me for anything
  • voted
And now I am off to spend the day talking to people about going to vote, until it is time to pick N up from nursery and do the usual evening routine.

[personal profile] nanila is voting for the first time and [personal profile] strangecharm can't vote, and they've both written more eloquent requests than mine to go out and vote.

Decisions are made by those who show up; this is a time we can all show up.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Finished this week fortnight
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (second time, I love this book enormously)
Rivers of London
by Ben Aaronovitch (excellent, have reserved next one through library)
Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
The Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt (this is a Batman Regency Romance AU, I am convinced)
A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh
Marvel's The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week by Christopher Yost, Eric Pearson
Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
Into the Fourth at Trebizon by Anne Digby
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (liked this a lot more than Saturn's Children, will write more for Hugo discussion, sometime)
Rodeo Nights by Patricia McLinn

Bounced off
Hot Shot by Kathryn Shay
Wild Wind by Patricia Ryan
From Glowing Embers by Emilie Richards

Special argh mention
One Good Turn by Judith Arnold
I got most of the way through this fairly enjoyably before geting completely squicked out by the handling of a past traumatic rape.  I later realised I'd read something else by Judith Arnold which was a fun story apart from the way a police surveillance operation was run completely implausibly.  So this is a note to self not to pick up anything else by this author.

Currently reading
A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain (so far, fully living up to the enthusiastic review by [personal profile] skygiants )
No Dominion (The Kickstarter Edition) by C.E. Murphy, which I have read all the individual bits as they were released to kickstarter supporters, but not actually read my own copy all the way through.

New acquisitions
Into the Fourth at Trebizon by Anne Digby
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

On the library pile
Star Wars Clone Wars Gambit: Siege by Karen Miller
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Longbourn by Jo Baker

Next books
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka / JH Williams III
Infidel by Kameron Hurley

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
A new building is being constructed next door to this one.  Intermittently one of the Big Machines (TM) does something every few seconds that shakes the building so hard my keyboard and screen vibrate.

The touch-feedback is disturbingly like how it feels in early-stage RSI flareup.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
"No. If I don't eat now, I'm going to bite someone's head off."

Colleague 1: ....
Colleague 2: Do both?
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Friday before last, Tony & I went for a lovely meal (launch of the Eat Cambridge festival which we have otherwise not got to).  As it finished early, we opted for a wee drinkie at the Castle before going home. Among other things, this gave us time to talk through some of the things that are stressing me, in particular all the stalled things-we-should-do around the house.

Some of them are stalled because of money.  Much more of them are stalled because of me: I've been struggling for ages to find the thinking-brain capacity to move them along (and some of the things that I need to do about money are similarly stalled), and the lack of progress stresses me, and being stressed reduces my capacity, hello feedback cycles.

Quite often the stall is me letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, for example "we should move the children into the bigger room in the summer when $lodger has moved out, but in order to do that, we need to redecorate the room, and redo the flooring, and get bunkbeds, and now I just can't face even starting".  Tony pointed out we don't need to do all of that, we just need to move their stuff in and use the twin beds that are already there, probably keeping one of them in the trundle position for now.  It's not as good as bunk beds in a newly-redecorated room, but it's a start.  Having them in the bigger room together is a definite improvement from now, so we should do it, even though it's not perfect.  (And thanks to school closures and the Tour de France, we have a long weekend at the start of July, just at the right time.)

A couple of days after that, I managed to break the catch on N's cot, which holds the cot side up and (I realised) holds the cot together such that it is safe to have a cot-top changer.  And now it isn't.  We were already planning to freecycle the cot and reassemble the changing table when we moved N to the shared room, and moving that earlier by a couple of months isn't a huge problem.  So basically I tried little steps:
  • Monday I tried to fix the cot but failed
  • Tuesday I figured out how to use freecycle again for the first time in years and offered the cot there
  • Wednesday I started disassembling the cot
  • Thursday I dealt with freecycle responses
  • Friday I finished disassembling the cot
  • Saturday I had a migraine and let myself do nothing
  • Sunday I got the cot into the garage to await collection and reassembled the changing table
So that was a week in which I had to use changing-mat-on-bed and part of my bedroom was a pile of disassembled furniture, but each step was an improvement and actually happened, and I didn't make myself ill (well, I had a migraine, but I don't think it was this that triggered it).

The lightbulb moment this morning was remembering that I actively prefer the incremental-improvement approach to changes in my work, and have experience to back up that preference.  It shouldn't surprise me that it also works for projects outside of work.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
This is a book I personally didn't like much, but would recommend to others. 

It is the first of four mystery novels featuring an academic (the first-person narrator, Hilary Tamar) and four barristers.   I found the style very irritating, but the story compelling enough to keep me going to the end to find out what happens.   It's a pretty funny story too, but my main issue is that neither Tamar nor the barristers are anywhere near as funny or as clever as they think they are.  I think this is the point, to make the reader laugh at them as well as with them, but I find it very grating.

I was going to write more, but Jo Walton did it better already (I think it was her review that prompted me to wishlist these, but sadly I didn't realise from the small excerpt in there JUST HOW MUCH I would find Tamar's narration annoying.)

Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, it is very good.  It was good enough for me to finish even though I don't really like it and won't take the time to read the others.

Cambridgeshire libraries have all four books in stock; the first three are all currently 84p on Kindle and the fourth is widely available in second-hand paperback.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Google Maps in satellite view, to help me find / remind me of the nearest play area to a pub / cafe / other meeting spot.


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

September 2014

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