rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
C is nearly 9, and adores the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and all its sequels.  C also seems especially fond of comics, getting The Phoenix each week and positively racing through a number of Phoenix collections I've bought[1], and also digital comics Angry Birds vol 1 and Angry Birds Transformers.

Bedtime stories that seem to have been enjoyed ([personal profile] fanf does bedtime stories so I'm going by impressions in passing) include I think all the Pratchett juveniles, and a set of The Worst Witch and sequels.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was a bit slow going (or I am less good at bedtime reading) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a bit too exciting.

We have a largeish assortment of children's books, mostly from my and [livejournal.com profile] fanf 's collections, but I think we may still need to actively offer and encourage trying individual books and series.  I'm actively happy to buy more, but would prefer to get ebooks and digital comics for ease of travel and storage.


[1]  So far Bunny vs Monkey Book 1, Tales of Fayt: The Crooked Imp, Troy Trailblazer and the Horde Queen and Mo-Bot HighPirates of Pangaea Book 1 seems to be staying in the school book bag but I'm not sure if it's actually getting read.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
1. (done) Invitations to N's 3rd birthday "party".  Actually just a weekend gathering for drinks in a child-friendly pub that has a bouncy castle when the weather is good.  I realised this morning that I didn't need to carefully design and print out a set of invitations, when I have a large cache of stationery.  Handwriting the details onto 5 postcards (of children's book-covers!) and addressing 5 brightly-coloured envelopes took less time than designing an invitation to print off would have done.
Read more... )
7. everything else on my todo list


2015-07-01 23:02
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
 There are at least half a dozen things I "should" have done this evening after getting home from work and childcare pickup.

What I actually did was flop in the least-hot (but not actually cool) part of the house with a lot of cool drinks and (eventually) a water-soaked buff to cool my head.

It is now just about cool enough for me to cope better, but I'm badly in need of sleep, rather than doing All The Things, which just makes tomorrow evening even more laden with Stuff To Do but not actually likely to be any cooler.

A siesta culture at work would presumably help here, but I can't imagine us doing so for the few days a year it gets like this. (Just like we don't have snowploughs for the rare days they'd be useful).
rmc28: (destructive)
To senior management at Subway, La Redoute, Confused.com and anyone else whose automated birthday greeting I've yet to receive:

It doesn't actually make me feel warmly towards the company, you know. It makes me think "ew, creepy! why have you got my date of birth? go away!"

In some years, where I've made less fuss about my birthday, the automated greetings underlined how few genuine birthday greetings I've had from friends and family and actively made me feel sad.  (note - this is emphatically not a request for birthday greetings from my circle, lovely as you all are - it's just some years I make no fuss and I get little fuss made of me and that's fine.  It was the creepy automated emails that made me sad, not other people.)

If I take up the free Subway cookie, presumably they will conclude that this is a successful marketing strategy and keep doing it.  So I think not.
rmc28: (books2010)
I'm reading slightly faster than I'm writing up short stories (but only slightly), and I'm still figuring out how to write about them.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
This is the first short story paid for by Kameron Hurley’s Patreon (so for now you have to be a patron there to read it, minimum cost approx $1 every two months, though hopefully this one will get sold somewhere with a wider audience).
It is weird and interesting milSF: told by a soldier who’s part of a cohort that are literally turned into light and “beamed” into position to fight the war, and as the story unfolds you learn more and more about the war and the enemy and the effect of making people into this kind of weapon.

Somewhere I Have Never Traveled (Third Sound Remix) by E. Catherine Tobler
A mysterious sound is disturbing a worker on a helium mining station orbiting Jupiter. I really liked the imagery of Jupiter in this:
“The red spot spun itself out in our sixth year, the storm succumbing to another that is the colors of Earth’s seas: teal and turquoise, indigo and lapis. Sometimes, when the sunlight angles across, the storm shines like a great opal, cracked with orange lightning.”
But I got a bit lost in the mystery and still don’t feel quite clear about what was going on, especially in the second half of the story, even after reading it through a couple of times.

Trigger by Courtney Alameda
A "modern vampire hunting" short story with an exceptional young woman repeatedly facing a big scary monster vampire culminating in a motorbike chase across San Francisco. I quite enjoyed it but it felt like it was part of a longer story; in the comments I discovered it was a prequel to a young adult novel, Shutter.

By Degrees and Dilatory Time by S. L. Huang
A young man gets new cyborg eyes and adapts to them; that’s basically the entire plot, in a fine sf tradition of what-if stories. I thought it was done well.

Nine Thousand Hours by Iona Sharma
A fantasy story about a magical accident taking all the words out of the world, but also about home and how people change.

…And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes by Scott Alexander
A fun exploration of a set of possible superpowers, with an ending that surprised me, in a good way.
rmc28: (smile)
It's about 34 years since I first met my great-uncle Theo and his partner Bob Olsen in California.
It's about 26 years since Theo died.
It's about 16 years since I met Bob for the second time, shortly after which he also died.
It's about 10 years since Canada made same-sex marriage legal.
And just over a year since England and Wales did too.  (7 months for Scotland, and Northern Ireland still doesn't ...)
Just a few weeks ago I was crying over the photos and stories of Irish people going #hometovote, and with joy over the result.

I grew up knowing that a same-sex couple was part of my family, that they were loved and valued.  I don't know if they wanted to be married; I do know they didn't get a choice.

There's still work to do; but today I was in tears of happiness again.  Some of my favourite images behind the cut.
Read more... )
It's my birthday on Sunday; this is a great present, world.  Thank you :-)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
In the last day and a half I've gone from it being incredibly painful to swallow water, to being able to eat solids with only mild discomfort.  Yay penicillin!    And cheap manufacture of generic painkillers, and a doctor who says "can you take ibuprofen? and paracetamol? and codeine?  Good, take all of them."

I'm assuming that pre-penicillin (and in the awful future of antibiotic-resistant bacteria), I would basically hope to keep getting enough fluids in to survive while my immune system eventually got around to dealing with the bugs?

Between the penicillin, the painkillers and the baseline level of supplements and antihistamines I already take, I'm taking over 20 pills a day, and I had to write out a schedule today because I was losing the ability to track what should go in when.  Not sure whether to blame the drugs, the other drugs, or the battle for supremacy in my throat, but I'm quite spaced out and falling asleep at no notice.
rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read

I haven't been reading many books lately.  I have been reading my way through the archives of A Girl and Her Fed, by the author K B Spangler, recommended by [personal profile] davidgillon .  I've also been thoroughly enjoying the ongoing adventures of [personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan and her circle of actors, musicians, and scientists (not to mention the wombatt).

Otherwise, I put down Two's Company by Jill Mansell because I was temporarily annoyed by it, and expect I will pick it up again when I am feeling less easily annoyed.

I started reading Earth to Hell by Kylie Chan, which was a library book I picked up as the first of a trilogy; it's set in Hong Kong and has some really interesting magic/mythology going on, but it turns out it's the first of a sequel trilogy and I was failing to keep up with who was who, so I took it back to the library and have requested the first of the previous trilogy to see if I can make any more sense of it.

I read Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James, which was exactly what I wanted the day of a migraine (delightfully farcical period romances with a lot of strong female friendships in them) and am now in a queue for the next in the series to work its way out of the library system.

What I'm reading
I started getting horribly ill yesterday evening, with what turns out to be strep throat, so I have been comforting myself with a reread of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.  Which has its issues but remains one of the most sympathetic depictions I've read of sex work & BDSM.  And also the heroine repeatedly achieves things by being clever and sympathetic and understanding of others (as well as hot and good in bed).

What I'll read next
Chances are high it will be the next two sequels to Kushiel's Dart :-)  But I might be radical and read either Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu or The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison as well.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (half-marathon)
Thanks to ebay and globalisation I now have a long-sleeved running top printed with the Winter Soldier arm and uniform, so I can look even sillier/geekier while out running.

Sadly it remains too warm for me to actually wear it for running.  I'm sure I can rely on the English weather to change that before too long.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
'Well done,' said Hazel, as Dandelion ended.

[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)
Tony and I went to see it last night.  I can absolutely see why people have enthused about it; I'm very glad I saw it and it's an amazing film, but very bleak (yes, I know that is the post-apocalyptic genre) and for me specifically there is too much reproductive horror.   So I'm not sure I want to watch it again any time soon but wow.

I found [personal profile] liv 's review interesting, coming from someone who clearly isn't into action movies[1], and she links off to two other people's reviews which are also food for though.  I do very much like action movies, and yes it is utterly refreshing to have one without a woman as prize for the male protagonist and for there to be no rape and no especially titillating shots of attractive young women[2].   While also being a two-hour car chase with thrills and spills and peril and excitement and explosions and really terrifying stunts.

After we'd left the screen and I was washing up in the ladies loos I realised I was literally shaking and wide-eyed with adrenaline, and we took a longer-than-usual walk home, partly to avoid the hordes of unpredictable drunks coming off Strawberry Fair, and partly because I really needed to walk that off if I was going to sleep.  Good job there George Miller.

Short version (as tweeted last night):  "Would like more action films like this with less reproductive horror please."

[1] this is not to snark at [personal profile] liv , but I was trying to think of a film-date I've gone on with Tony that wasn't an action movie; eventually he remembered we went to see Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.  Which really was just because I'd enjoyed Avengers Assemble.

[2] I'd agree with whatever commenter I saw on Tumblr saying when Max sees the young women washing themselves, the camera is lingering on the water and the one transparent-muslin shot is of a pregnant belly, which ties in to the reproductive-horror themes of the film.   I do think the film is not exactly subtle about the toxicity of over-the-top macho behaviour, and the exploitation of young men by a patriarchal system: the film fairly literally illustrates "patriarchy hurts men too"..

rmc28: (destructive)
Following up my clumsy moment of 3 weeks ago (mostly as a note-to-self):

The stick-on anti-glare screen protector has lasted well so far (about 2.5 weeks - and I have a spare for when it comes off), and the phone is still completely usable.  There is a particularly dense patch of cracks in the bottom left corner which is fine for reading scrolling things like web pages or twitter, but less great for reading ebooks.  I have to make the text bigger to read it through the cracks or (as is happening more often) I read on my tablet instead.  Which needs both hands or something to rest on, but gets me through a lot more text in each screenful.   I'm using my phone more for short/scrolling reading or audiobooks instead.  I certainly fall asleep faster to audiobooks than I do reading.

I am definitely leaning towards "save up for next model of phone" as the way ahead.

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
Younger by Suzanne Munshower. This is a contemporary spy thriller with added commentary on society's age discrimination, especially against older women. It opens strongly, with our protagonist Anna going on the run across Europe, trying to work out how to survive the people who have killed her boss and are probably after her. After a bit we have a couple of lengthy (multi-chapter) sections explaining how she got there: scientific advances in cosmetics, industrial espionage and probable international espionage. Finally the two threads come together to a final showdown in Rome.

I was certainly gripped by the story, although it sags a bit near the end, where there's a couple of chapters of "everyone sits down and explains things to each other", followed by one of those irritating things where the character Spots Something Important but doesn't bother letting the reader know until the dramatic reveal.   While I'm being critical, I also thought there were one or two too many big coincidences driving the plot - I don't mind one or two, but there are at least four by my count.

I didn't actually like Anna much, though I had some sympathy for her predicament as an older women suddenly finding it much harder to get a job.  I rather think she's meant to be unlikeable near the beginning and more sympathetic as the book goes on, but I didn't like her much more at the end than the beginning.  Even so, I cared about finding out what happened to her, and ignored several other things in order to finish the book. I'd happily read more by the author, although her website doesn't reference anything more yet.

What I'm reading now
I'm a few chapters into Two's Company by Jill Mansell, and it is hitting the usual good notes: (complicated family! interesting new people! social disaster about to happen!)

What I'll read next

I have lots and lots and lots of short SF to read thanks to the Queers Destroy Science Fiction! kickstarter fulfilling.
There are two ebooks left from my last round of "five first chapters"
At the top of my to-read pile is Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell and underneath that Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley.

rmc28: (books2010)
I find reading (and writing about) anthologies / magazines difficult.  I need to take breaks between each short story, and then when I get to the end I've mostly forgotten what happened in the first 75% of the stories, and then writing about the anthology turns into a marathon, and then I give up.

And I have just acquired all 60 back issues of Lightspeed, via the Queers Destroy SF! Kickstarter, which is a lot of short fiction.

So, as "do a little each day" is working well for my studying, I thought I'd take a similar approach to short stories: write up one or two a day, post them six at a time.

This set has 2 stories each from anthologies acquired this year:

Women Destroy Fantasy! (which I got because it had a T Kingfisher story in it)
Women Destroy Science Fiction! (which I got because I enjoyed Women Destroy Fantasy!)
Kaleidoscope (recommended by [personal profile] ceb )

The Scrimshaw and the Scream by Kate Hall (WDF!)
A story about people who seem to be turning into birds, in a society which thinks this is terrible and the signs of turning into birds are because of bad behaviour. I did actually find it a bit too Obvious Metaphor / Message Fiction so it didn't work for me.

Making the Cut by H. E. Roulo (WDF!)
An interesting take on female superheroes but I found the Surprise Terrifying Birth hitting my pregnancy+birth buttons badly. I'd like to read more by this author without that plotline.

Each to each by Seanan McGuire (WDSF!)
Genetically modified women soldiers in the Navy (modern mermaids), facing mysterious attacks. I really enjoyed this, and if it's more typical of McGuire than Parasite, I should seek out more by her.

A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering (WDSF!)
Rather creepy tale of an artist going quietly mad on a long space journey. It unfolded very well; I think better to say I appreciated it rather than enjoyed it ...

Cookie Cutter Superhero by Tansy Rayner Roberts (K)
A rather different superhero story to the above, rather pointed about how superheroes generally are viewed, and about how female superheroes in particular are treated/seen in superhero teams. I really liked this one and would like to read more by the author.

Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon by Ken Liu (K)
I find it hard to write about this one without spoilers. A young couple discover that a myth is true, but is also not quite what they thought. I liked it a lot.

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
They say that there was a time when El-ahrairah and his followers lost all their luck.

[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: (books2010)
Before I had children, holidays were vast oases of time in which I could read.  Now, not so much.  Although I did learn to read Room on the Broom from back to front as well as the more usual way, at the insistence of my younger child.  It gives it a Memento-style feeling, though rather less violent.

What I've read
I finally finished rereading Ancillary Sword!  Once I got started I stopped only for child-related interruptions.  It is still a cracking good read, and I hope for some time and space to put thoughts together over on [community profile] bookatorium now.  I note that Ancillary Mercy is now listed for pre-order at Amazon, with a publication date of 8 Oct.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bryony and Roses by T Kingfisher: a sensible heroine with a good line in gardening, a convincingly creepy enchanted castle, a Beast who doesn't behave like a domestic abuser, and an ending I didn't see coming even if maybe I should have.  I also really liked Bryony's sister Holly, who isn't in the story very much but makes her presence felt, and in general Bryony's feelings towards her family.   In fact family-feeling, gardening, and sensible heroines are very much common features across the T Kingfisher books I've read; sometimes it's birth-family and sometimes it's found-family. 

I don't normally include my textbooks in this, but I'm going to make special mention of Unit 3: Costing and accounting systems from my current OU course on management accounting.  I have not yet made it through a session of study of this book without falling asleep.  In theory I find it interesting! But in practice there has been a lot of slumping over the textbook and pulling myself awake to find handwritten notes that wander off into gibberish.  I am determined to defeat it study-wise but I'm definitely keeping the ebook around against future insomnia.

I read A-Force (2015) #1 and like the art and the story, and the way it introduces key people so I can keep track of who's who.  The Secret Wars setup is really weird but I'll just handwave that as "weird big comics crossover event stuff".  I am engaged by this set of people and their situation and wondering what is going on, and I'm trying to justify to myself spending the money to keep up with it rather than wait for a collected edition.

What I'm reading now

Younger by Suzanne Munshower; I got as far as chapter 2 on the train home and am still finding it interesting.

What I'll read next
I still have the two Jill Mansells I found in the to-read pile when moving it.  A-Force (2015) #2 if I buy it.  Assorted library books are waiting for attention.  Draykon by Charlotte E. English is next on the ebook list.
rmc28: (books2010)
 What I've read
[more than usual in the last fortnight I have been sticking to light, predictable reads that I find comforting and escapist]

Much Ado About You
by Eloisa James
A new series of farcical historical romances, this time featuring four sisters (rather than the previous series, which was four friends).  I do like the friendships in these books probably at least as much as the romances.  I also like that the library has them all; they're definitely single-serving books for me.

Archangel's Blood
by Nalini Singh
Second in the "Guild-Hunter" series about a vampire hunter and angels.  This was definitely a bit gorier and getting close to my personal tolerance for that; also to my tolerance for dominant asshole romance "heroes".  I still like the concept and the characters a lot though, and the library has the rest of the series.

Justice Calling
by Annie Bellet
This is a pretty short read (150 pages, but a couple of chapters of the next one are included, so it's rather less than that).  It's a fun urban fantasy: there's shapeshifters and a witch with a secret, and a big tough law enforcer, and peril and plot, and a bit of romance worked in.  It was more or less exactly what I wanted to read right now and I enjoyed it very much.  There are four more books in the series, and a sixth coming out next month; I'm restraining myself from buying the lot right now, but I will be getting them as I clear more of my ebook backlog.

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
This was a library book; I have about 2/3 of Jill Mansell's output on my shelves: contemporary romcoms with interesting people, complicated plots and happy endings, many of which are set in and around Bath, near where I grew up.  I haven't read one I disliked, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   [I am still migrating my to-read pile into my room, and there are two more by her in it, so I have physically pulled them out to read shortly.]

What I'm reading
I'm part way through rereading Ancillary Sword, and then "T Kingfisher" (Ursula Vernon) released another fairy tale retelling this week, so I am also part way through Bryony and Roses and enjoying it very much.

What I'm reading next
I was sufficiently impressed by G Willow Wilson's defence of A-Force to buy the first issue digitally.  (Though ouch, individual comics on release week is an expensive way to do this hobby.)  I also want to carry on with Daredevil vol 1.
That pair of Jill Mansell books I just found.
Younger by Suzanne Munshower is next up in my ebook list

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The great burrow was less crowded than when they had left it.

[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)
Things I have learned with recent travel planning.

Virgin Trains East Coast release Advance tickets a week at a time on Saturdays, to the Saturday 12w away.
First Great Western release Advance tickets a week at a time on Saturdays, to the Wednesday 11w 4d away.

(No, this isn't documented anywhere I could find easily, this is me checking for Advance tickets every morning until my travel dates come up.)

Naturally, the journey where I want to travel out Friday and back Sunday is with the first, and the one where I'm travelling out Monday back Friday is with the second, so in both cases I have to wait a week between outward and return journeys being released.  Either I wait until both legs can be booked (and in my experience, the cheapest tickets WILL go in that week, if not on the first day), or I get the outward leg and spend a week hoping I haven't messed up and will be able to get the return leg ok.
rmc28: (destructive)
It is not the first time I have dropped it, but this time I have caused a fairly spectacular spiderweb of cracks across the screen.  It still works and is useable but some of the cracks catch on my finger.

Fairphone's support center will fix it for a bit over 110 euros, plus postage to get it to them.  I am currently waiting for a cheaper fix to arrive, which is a stick-on screen protector from a third party, sized to fit Fairphones.  That should keep me going while I find £90 out of my spending-on-me budget, and decide if I want to fix this one or keep on saving for the next generation phone currently in design.

[my "destructive" icon seemed especially appropriate - yes that is me attempting to break a phone, approx 3.5 decades ago]
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
We have a Family and Friends Railcard, one of the flavours of discount cards for money off rail travel in the UK.  We've had one almost continuously since Charles was born, because buying him a ticket allowed us to use the railcard and thus get 1/3 off the adult tickets.  And I've had an online account to manage our railcard and renewing it.

The railcard online account system doesn't allow users to change their names on the account.  After an exchange of emails we established that the Railcard customer service team could change the name attached to my railcard account, but that I could never renew my railcard online again, and would have to ring up customer services every time. 

[One of the delights of the modern world for me is all the things I can sort out online without having to ring up anybody. I don't like ringing up strangers, or indeed talking on the phone to anyone much apart from my family and close friends.  I would much rather tell a computer what to do myself than talk to a stranger who is effectively doing the typing for me.]

Or I could "buy a card for someone else" and put my right name in.  Or I could create a new account with a different email address, and get the names right on that.

What I actually did was:
  1. Change the email address on the existing railcard account from my main email address to an old one I don't use any more, but can access.
  2. Set up a new account with my main email address.
  3. Put the right name on that account.
  4. Buy new railcard in plenty of time for my next booked train trip.

Seriously though, people who are building online services.  People change their names!  Build your system to accommodate that without making them jump through stupid hoops!  (Also note that the majority of people in this country who change their name are women - try not to be de facto sexist in your system design).
rmc28: (happy)
I put my hair up in a French-plait for the first time in years.  20 months growing-out since the last time I cut it to 9mm.  Of course, some of it was falling out after the 25-min walk to work, and I redid it twice during the morning and then gave up and shoved it back into a ponytail instead.   But it was nice while it lasted.

Passport with the right name arrived!  (I had a letter last week with a query, which I put on one side to deal with After The Election.  The nice person from the passport office who had written the letter rang me to follow up before I had got round to writing back, and we were able to sort it out by phone.  This was all after office hours on a weekday evening.  I was impressed.)

Railcard with the right name arrived!  (This followed tedious faff which I shall write up separately.)

New sandals for Charles arrived!  (John Lewis were out of stock of the right size when we went shopping on Sunday, but put through the order online for me.)

I'm not sure which of Charles and me is the happiest right now.  But we're both pretty happy :-)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
  • Sleeping for ten hours almost uninterrupted, almost a miracle (one short conversation at 5am with Charles, who then Went Away).
  • Cinema with Charles: Big Hero 6, in which I allowed myself to cry floods whenever the heartstrings were tugged.  (Loved the film, missed the beginning, DVD is preordered to arrive at end of the month.)  And then we had lunch at his favourite place and mostly missed the rain cycling home.
  • Cuddles and puzzles and counting and reading books and even more cuddles with Nico. 
  • Being able to lightly supervise both of my children while they play together.
  • Running for the first time in about 2 months.
  • Talking with my mother, with friends, with Tony.
  • Tony bringing me delicious icecream by Jack's Gelato from the Cambridge FoodPark event.

Tomorrow will have swimming and shoe-shopping with children, and some study in the afternoon, because I got behind during the election campaign.

rmc28: Rachel speaking at a lectern with microphone and part of the slogan "Stronger Economy Fairer Society" in shot (libdem)
From the Federal Party constitution (full document in PDF available at that page):

10.5 Nominations must be of a Member of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, who must be proposed by at least ten percent of other members of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons and supported by 200 members in aggregate in not less than 20 Local Parties (including, for this purpose, the Specified Associated Organisations representing youth and students as provided by Article 13.8) and must indicate acceptance of nomination.

The 8 LibDem MPs are:
Tom Brake
Alistair Carmichael
Nick Clegg
Tim Farron
Norman Lamb
Greg Mulholland
John Pugh
Mark Williams

10% of other members is 0.7 of an MP. So a leadership candidate needs to persuade one other MP to propose him (they are all white men over 40) and then another 200 members from around the country to support him.

From the Leadership Election Regulations (in the same document as above):

2. The electorate for the purpose of the election shall be those members with current membership of the Liberal Democrats on the closing date for nominations, including those members whose subscriptions were due not more than three months before the closing date.

Want to vote in this one? Want to be part of the discussion of the party's future?


You'll be welcome.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I'm noting that I have simultaneously:

- a very intellectual/analytical political nerd almost gleeful fascination about how uncertain this election is and how likely it is that the next government will be some kind of confidence+supply arrangement or possibly a coalition, and parties will have to cooperate and there are so many possibilities

- a very visceral/wordless rollercoaster of excitement and nervousness and hope and fear, both for my specific constituency, and for my country as a whole

Also I am clearly not falling asleep, and yet I have to be awake and coherent at 9am for C's class assembly. 
rmc28: (OMG)
I was ill over the BH weekend with yet another cough, resulting in rather less leafletting and rather more curling up in bed feeling miserable than I had planned.

Today I've had to give up door-knocking and come home because of a stomach upset.  I am now making phone calls at intervals, which I dislike even more than door-knocking.

On the bright side, I had a lovely email from someone who'd googled to find out why people ask for numbers outside the polling station and found this post from ten years ago, which apparently remains useful (and highly google-ranked) to this day.  That absolutely made my day.

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
Hellbender by Dana Cameron
This suffered a bit from being interrupted a lot, so I kept losing track of the plot and having to skip back a bit and so on.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it as the next instalment in the series, resolving some plotlines, opening up more areas, and generally being a good romp.  I must get round to reading the author's archaology-detective books at some point.

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh
So it's an urban fantasy about a vampire hunter, except that it turns out angels are rather scarier than vampires, and also that the limited number of archangels basically run things.  Our vampire hunter protagonist gets recruited to hunt down an archangel that has gone mad and is being especially appalling.  I found it a good read, but the romance a bit clichéd.  I have already tracked down and borrowed the next one from the library :-) 

Queen of Nowhere
by Jaine Fenn
I rather enjoyed this book about  a super-hacker travelling between space-stations for a couple of decades gathering evidence, recruiting a mostly-unaware spy network, with the end goal being to expose and defeat a secret conspiracy that most people would find laughable.  There are little interludes from other points of view around the human polity.  The book opens with her getting questioned by local police on arrival at a space station, and from then on we follow her getting in and out of trouble, and getting help when she least expects it.

I found the book a bit odd in places - not sure if I should be viewing the "unexpected help" as sinister or not, not sure how to read the actions of some of her established allies.  I was expecting some twists which didn't happen, but meanwhile I didn't see the actual ending coming.  (There are some similarities between the ending of this one and the ending of Angel's Blood but it would be spoilery to discuss them, so I won't at this point.)

A-Babies vs X-Babies by Skottie Young & Gurihiru
Some time ago there was a comics Event called Avengers vs X-Men which I didn't read (see: bad at keeping up with comics).  This isn't really anything to do with it, except for using it as an excuse to draw 20 pages of cartoon baby versions of comic characters fighting each other.  They are very cute and terrifyingly recognisable.  This is definitely one of those that takes me a long time to read - there's one double-page spread and quite a few more pages where there is so much going on I just have sit and stare at it for a while.

by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Andrea Mutti
This seems to be a "one shot" tying in to a longer story, which is a pity because I love Pepper Potts, and Pepper Potts in an Iron Man-style suit rescuing people is awesome and I'd love to read more of it.  About half the comic is about Rescue being awesome and the other half is Pepper being exhausted and stressed out in hiding.  I like the artwork which is not-cartoony and does things with colours and silhouettes that I like.  [argh, I lack vocabulary for this stuff - anyone able to point me at resources for how-to-describe-comic-art?]

What I'm reading now
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet
Only one page past the first chapter I already reviewed so far, so nothing new to say yet.

Daredevil vol 1 by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin & Paolo Riviera
Only read the first few pages, but my brother recommended this on the basis of the art, and I adored the cover

What I'm reading next
Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (from the library)
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (reread for [community profile] bookatorium )
whatever is next on my Marvel comics backlog
whatever is first on the free comics from Comixology

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
It is a hudl2 from Tesco; I had done a bit of looking at specs and prices, and played with my m-i-l's first-gen hudl, and was generally convinced it would do what I wanted.  It is cheap, and I had a bunch of clubcard vouchers which made it even cheaper.

It runs the same version of Android as my phone, which meant I felt confident in using it.  So far I've established that typing isn't much more fun than on my phone, and reading is less comfortable, because I need both hands to hold it, or to rest it on something.   However, the apps I have all look nicer and show more words at a time.  (That's the Economist and FT newspaper subs, Kindle app, Mantano app for epubs, Adobe app for PDFs, and of course Chrome for web pages.)

It comes with an app to manage multiple users, so I've set up both children with an account, and I can control which apps they each see when they log in. That means I can let them e.g. watch stuff on iPlayer or play games without worrying about them mucking up my ebooks or reading stuff open in my browser tabs.  Charles has expressed appreciation for the greater screen size for Angry Birds Epic.

I've been enjoying watching stuff on it - the screen is big enough and high enough resolution to be actively pleasant when it's on my lap, rather than squinting at my phone up close.  The children seem to like snuggling up together to watch stuff on it; meanwhile I've finally started watching Daredevil and discovered that I can literally cover the screen with my hand when it gets too gory for me.  For whatever reason, I find it easier to settle down to TV on my lap in a room by myself, than on the big TV in the living room.

The absolute delight though is reading comics.  I have a Marvel digital comics account, and I have a lot of first issues-of-series on it, from when they did a big first-one-free promotion some time ago.  But I find my laptop screen the wrong size, the desktop too inconvenient, and my phone too small.  The tablet though, is just right: the artwork is clear and crisp and the experience is lovely.  I need both hands to read a comic or a graphic novel anyway (which is why I am so slow to read them), but I can carry literally hundreds of them around on this tablet.

I still find it a bit hard to switch back to reading comics after reading lots of text, because my default is to race through the text and not slow down enough to see the artwork properly.  But I do enjoy it when I do, and I'm slowly working through my existing collection, and managed to only buy one new thing so far (this Daredevil collection - look at the cover on that, it's amazing! - because J recommended it and it was on sale).

All my future comics purchases will be digital.  Please recommend me ones you like, and good places to get them. I'm set up with Marvel and I know that Comixology exists - is there anything else I should know about out there?
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The corner of the opposite wood turned out to be an acute point.

[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)
My ticket to Acoustic Roots arrived this week.

Way back when, I had a few years in a row of attending music festivals with assorted lovely people (including but not limited to: my Dad, MBM, [livejournal.com profile] atreic , [livejournal.com profile] emperor , [livejournal.com profile] antinomy , [livejournal.com profile] arnhem ) but fell out of the habit when running around after a small mobile Charles got less fun. (For me.  I think he liked it.)

But Show of Hands are playing at Acoustic Roots, and I have a chance to meet up with [personal profile] jae (who I first DW-followed because of our mutual liking for the band), and I found a cheap Travelodge room for the night not far away, and so I am GOING to live music for the first time in ages.  (I am also spending a whole night by myself in said room, also for the first time in ages, and nearly as happy about that.)

These days Charles is a lot easier to look after, so I am also eying up Ely Folk Festival as something we can day-commute to by public transport and see if it's his sort of thing.   Cambridge Folk Festival is obviously closer but a lot more expensive and almost certainly a lot more crowded.
rmc28: (books2010)
Second round, library books and recently acquired ebooks:

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh
An urban fantasy about a young woman hunting vampires, so far so cliched: but the vampires are captured, subdued by a technological fix, and returned to angels to whom they owe a contract.  The first chapter does a good job of setting the scene and convincingly making the angels seem scary.  Will continue.

Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn
A protagonist gets asked to come in for questioning by local police on a space station.  The first chapter establishes that she's going by an assumed identity, that she's working against an enemy, that she's suffered tragedy, and that too much attention from the police could get her in real trouble.  Will continue.

Justice Calling by Annie Bellet
A game/comic shop in a town full of students and shapeshifters and other magical creatures, run by a woman who is hiding her real powers.  In walks a shapeshifter "Justice" accusing her of murder.  Will continue.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
First of the very famous Swedish crime novels that I never got round to reading yet, but picked up the first one free on a special offer. The prologue, introducing an old man receiving rare flowers and an old detective who's still baffled by this unsolved case, drew me in and I'm looking forward to reading more.  Will continue.

Draykon by Charlotte E. English
This starts with a young girl going into a fairy ring and being trapped ... and then rescued by her mother almost immediately, and taken home with the baby animal she also found trapped in the ring, which in turn triggers a family argument.  Will continue.

This round did not reduce my to-read pile at all!  But it has enthused me to crack on and read some of my lurking library books and recent acquisitions.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Hello kind author!

Thank you so much for agreeing to write a story for me.  I am going to be very lazy and link you to the post I made for Yuletide which covers my general likes and dislikes, and then go into more detail for my specific requests below.

The other thing I want to say is that although the exchange rules say to include all my requested characters in a particular fandom, I personally will consider the job done if you make at least one of them the focus, even if you can't get all four in.

Request 1: Iron Man

Natasha Romanov, Maya Hansen, Pepper Potts, Tony Stark

Maya Hansen was one of the most interesting characters in Iron Man 3 and I like to pretend they didn't kill her off.   Killian holds up one kind of mirror to Tony; Maya is another - so focused on the science and the possibility of breakthrough she overlooks the morality of her work.   She and Pepper even talk about this in the film - Pepper was quite happy to work for an arms company and it was Tony's change of heart that she implemented.  Natasha, like Tony, is dangerous and frequently underestimated: they both carry guilt for their pasts and are trying to make amends.

I'd love to read fic about these people interacting, about addressing their past actions and working to redress their mistakes.

Request 2: Avengers
Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov, Maria Hill, Nick Fury
Request 3: Avengers
Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson

I made two requests for Avengers because there seemed two good groupings.  The first one could be SHIELD before or during the films right through to CA:TWS - casefic, a day in the life on the Helicarrier; how they joined SHIELD, etc.  Where your fancy takes you, but these SHIELD agents doing good work together will make me very happy.

The second grouping is essentially post-Age of Ultron, and my excitement about these four working together.   Wanda and Sam being empathic to people, and also badass in combat; Steve and Natasha leading and training their new team; Steve and Sam's friendship; Steve and Wanda would have one kind of mentoring relationship; Natasha and Wanda would have a very different kind, which could be amazing to explore.

Request 4:
Maria Hill, Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers

I adore CA:TWS, and in particular the friendships and working relationships between these three that are shown during the film. Anything exploring how they work together during and after, would utterly delight me.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I had three piles of paper on my desk, things accumulating mostly for me to Do Something with or file.   These piles were approximately 30cm, 20cm and 10cm deep.  Somewhere in these piles I knew there was a piece of paper I needed to find in order to complete my tax return.  I'd already cost myself £100 by not finding the piece of paper before 31st January, and I was rapidly approaching the point where it was going to cost me £10 a day not to find it.

A while ago I read [livejournal.com profile] siderea 's post about filing, and realised her system was not far from what I was trying to do, and that getting things filed was the most useful thing I could do, and so I starting doing short bursts of filing the stacks, nibbles at the elephant, and managed to get rid of the smallest pile, quite a lot of which was no longer relevant and could be filed in the recycling bin.  But then I kept finding more interesting things to do than nibbling the paperwork elephant, and so progress stalled.

On Saturday afternoon I made myself start tidying up the filing again.  And for whatever reason, I found myself getting into the flow of it, and going back to it after interruptions for food and child-bedtimes, and just Not Stopping.   At about 2am, most of the way down the last and biggest stack of paper, I found the vital piece of paper.  And because it was already very late for me, and my sleep was already messed up, I decided to put it on one side and finish the filing job.  And then I was still awake when that was done so I finished and submitted the tax return.  Then I went to bed, leaving one full filing cabinet, one much-emptier desk, and one giant drift of paper on the floor destined for the recycling.

The oldest bits of paper in the piles were from August 2012, i.e. one month after Nico was born.  So that's how long I've not been keeping up with the paperwork (there were odd runs where I had clearly kept-current for a few months but not caught up the backlog.)  It is such a weight off my mind to not have the teetering piles of doom looking at me any more.   The desk is by no means empty or even tidy, but what's left is things like photo albums and bundles of letters from my grandmothers and Charles's schoolwork from two years ago and so on, not financial paperwork.

It worked, but I can't say I recommend the binge-eating approach.  I was exhausted all of Sunday, got very little done and only got dressed because [livejournal.com profile] nassus was arriving.   Today when another Thing arrived in the post, I made a point of reading it and then filing it straight into the relevant folder in the filing cabinet, not onto the newly-clear space on the desk.  Long may this last.
rmc28: (books2010)
This is my attempt to clear my to-read piles a bit faster, by reading just the first chapter and seeing if I want to continue. For now, just ebooks and library books: the physical to-read pile has already been through multiple rounds of culling and I've generally been much pickier about new aquisitions in paper since I started reading ebooks.  I'm not nearly so picky about either ebooks or library books.

First round, focusing on books acquired recently:

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
I had forgotten this was only a novella; also it doesn't have chapters. But I read the first few pages and found it hilarious and decided it was a definite keeper. (I went straight back and finished it after I'd read the remaining four first chapters.)

Younger by Suzanne Munshower
This was a Kindle First offering last month. The prologue totally has me sucked in: a woman going on the run, her boss suddenly dies, there are secrets afoot to do with an experimental treatment that makes people look younger? Keeping this one.

The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo
The God Decrees
by Mark E. Cooper
Defender by Robert J. Crane

I got all three of these in: Quest: Eight Novels of Fantasy, Myth, and Magic, which I was alerted to by Lindsay Buroker, whose first novel (which I've read and enjoyed) is in it. Sadly all three of these were boring me before the end of the first chapter.

I was a bit worried I was getting "bitch eating crackers" about epic fantasy, so I went back to Buroker's The Emperor's Edge and confirmed I still like that first chapter. These three just aren't my thing.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I liked it, and I really enjoyed the experience of seeing it in the context of a marathon with two earlier films, and in the company of a lot of other people who are fannish enough about these films to also spend nearly 8 hours in a cinema on opening night and go home at 2:30am

I think it's a good fun addition to the series but not my new favourite.   It's very crowd-pleasing: there's a steady stream of funny bits and one-liners, and a running joke about swearing, and some nice little cameos and references, as well as some very effective dramatic big action sequences. 

I was pleased that they had a lot of the wider team either making appearances or referenced in conversation, and also that big themes of the film are MCU-typical Yay Teamwork but also very explicitly Protecting people is more important than beating up bad guys

Everything from now on will be spoilery.

spoilertastic babble )
rmc28: (bat-funny)
 It's full of Marvel fans and we've already watched Avengers Assemble & Winter Soldier and now we're on the trailers before Age of Ultron and it's VERY EXCITING.

(yay Star Wars trailer)

I have a huge promotional tin of popcorn bigger than my head and I doubt I'm going to finish it. But it is a pretty tin.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
It has taken me nearly a year, but I have finally got enough grip together to send off my application for a passport in the correct name.  The final thing was to print and sign a statement that I am reverting to my maiden name (bleh) for all purposes.  I did that tonight, sealed the envelope, checked the postage and thanked past-Rachel for having 1st class Large stamps in stock.

Normally I am not that bothered about paperwork and get it done without much bother.  I have been getting very stressed and procrastinatory about this set though.  [livejournal.com profile] fanf made the mistake of asking me a couple of months ago why I "didn't just get a deed poll" and got a minor rant in return.  The problem was not that the passport process was hard - it never was.  It was that I was not doing the thing I knew I needed to do and descending into a stress spiral whenever I thought about doing it.   I did eventually manage to split the job down into the smallest possible steps and slowly tick each of them off, and tonight was the glorious final bite of that elephant.

Anyway, passport is the last step.  Pretty much everything I can change without it is changed.  In general: organisations selling me things are happy for me to use whatever name I like; organisations running financial services have to meet anti-money-laundering regulations which result in very similar requirements which the passport will meet; everyone has their own process and many of them seem a bit thrown by the idea of reverting to birth name without getting divorced. 

It would definitely have been easier to get the passport first (or a deed poll) and then the bank accounts, and then just trump every process by waving the passport and or bank accounts at them.  I did want to see how far I could get without it, but I'm tired of that game now.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear!

[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: (books2010)
Reading Wednesday! It's been ages.

What I've read
SPIN by Nina Allen
This was for bookclub, and I liked it very much but found the (apparently intentional) ambiguity mildly irritating, and would have happily read a more straightforward book for at least as long again. I conclude that Nina Allen is very talented but possibly not to my taste.

by Lia Silver
Third in the Werewolf Marines series I adore, I've read it twice and like it very much and am so glad these books exist and I can read them, and there's at least one more to look forward to :-) Partner continues from Prisoner (free at Amazon and Smashwords) with rather more sex and romance as well as lots of evil spy agency action, and resolving in a happy ending while leaving at least one thread open for further stories.

Hild by Nicola Griffith
Another one for book club, though I didn't actually manage to finish it before our discussion, I did enjoy it enough to finish it shortly afterward. It's very immersive and beautifully written and I'm not quite sure why it's marketed as fantasy when it's very clearly novelised history, like Rosemary Sutcliff (only less aimed at children).

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
The only book in the local library system by Josh Lanyon, this is a modern (1990s?) murder mystery set in LA. The police think the murdery mystery author friend of the victim did it; he knows he didn't, and it's possible he might be next. I enjoyed it and am resisting buying the entire series in ebook until I've caught up my backlog a bit. [ahahaha]

Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
Continuing my progress through farcical Regency romance; this book wraps up a quartet of related novels and allocates happy ever afters all around.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A funny novella in the form of a diary by Jade Yeo, book reviewer in 1920s London, who gives a scathing review to the darling of the literati and then gets into even more trouble. I loved Jade's voice, I loved her cleverness and pointed commentary, and I was completely caught up in the story until the end. I've got a short story collection by Zen Cho waiting to be read, and am looking forward to it on the strength of this.

Notorious Pleasures
by Elizabeth Hoyt (dnf)
Meh. I wanted to like this; its by the same author and earlier in the series as the Regency Batman romance and there is nothing obviously wrong with it, but it wasn't really working for me; when I did get interrupted and put it down for a few days, I found it very hard to pick back up. (also the whole "gin is terrible and should be banned" running plot keeps annoying me because of my support for drug law reform - speaking of political message fiction).

I keep thinking I'm just being moody and finding things to dislike, but then I go back and remember how much I liked Hild and Partner and The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo and Your Wicked Ways. So I think I'm actually just being very picky at the moment which, given my books:time ratio, may not be a bad thing.

What I'm reading now
Hellbender by Dana Cameron, third in the urban fantasy series with an archaologist protagonist, following Seven Kinds of Hell & Pack of Strays.

What I'm reading next
Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh before it really has to go back to the library
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - rereading so I can write it up/discuss it in [community profile] bookatorium
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet which I just bought because it was already on my wishlist thanks to [personal profile] davidgillon and she's just withdrawn from the Hugo ballot, and it's 99p on Kindle.
rmc28: (books2010)
A few weeks ago I got new bookshelves up in the children's room.   Before today I had achieved moving about 2/3 of the books across from Charles's old room (now the spare room).

Today, helped (or hindered) by Nico I have:
  • moved the remaining children's books over
  • added more shelves to the spare room, making 16m of shelving space
  • filled those 16m with books-read from the shelves in my room that have been double-stacked for years
  • vacuumed up a disturbing amount of dust from books and shelves
Still to do (not today!):
  • clear assorted clutter off that bookcase in my room
  • move and add shelves, creating another 12-16m of shelving space in my room
  • move my to-read pile and Tony's to this space (and stop my to-read pile in particular encroaching all over the house)
  • move my library books and OU textbooks there too
  • move books-in-living-room to space freed up in study by previous steps
  • move children's books in living room to their bedroom
  • move remaining books-read to living room
The end goal is to have books-read in shared space, and books-to-read in private space, and children's books in children's space.  And as much as possible single-stacked for ease of viewing and access.

Also each move of books and things is an opportunity to declutter.  So far in this project I've taken 3 bags to the charity shop and I've another one ready to go.  Plus an awful lot of general rubbish uncovered and (mostly) recycled.

(Worst thing about getting back to single-spaced books: I uncovered my MZB books and had to make a decision about what to do with them; for now I've stacked them in a Really Useful Box and stuck that in a corner behind other things.  I'm not quite ready to throw them away but for sure I don't want to see them now.)
rmc28: (OMG)
I write the kind of exciting stories I want to read.
You keep bringing politics into your stories.
They churn out tedious message fiction.

(inspired by reading the comments on George RR Martin's thoughtful set of posts about The Hugo Mess)

There also seems to be some confusion between noting a political thing a book does (that pleases me) and only liking that book for the political thing that pleases me.   Not realising it is additive: here is a good book and it does this cool thing.  

And often that "cool thing" is merely refraining from treating non-straight-ablebodied-white-men horribly: the Bechdel test is a really low bar and yet so few things pass it, let alone if you also look at ethnicity or disability or sexuality etc.  It's not "come and read this politically correct yet tedious book" it's "come and read this cool book that won't kick you in the teeth, at least on this axis".

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
One of the things I really enjoyed about a lot of my friends going to Worldcon last year was a lot of people reading the same shortlisted books (and shorter fiction) and posting about them and having discussions.  I really enjoyed that sense of a project held loosely-in-common.  It's one of the things that tipped me towards getting a supporting membership for this year's Worldcon.

Among the things that have upset me about this year's mess of Hugo nominations is that this is much less likely to happen. 

And then I happened to sit in on the BSFA award ceremony at Eastercon and thought that many of the shortlisted things looked much more interesting than the Hugo shortlists (even if the BSFA shortlists have now been voted on, and the Hugo is yet to be).

I mentioned this to [personal profile] ceb and she has set up [community profile] bookatorium : "a free-form book club for SF and fantasy and related stuff. Anyone who's interested in reading the books and prepared to discuss them in good faith is welcome. Currently we are reading a selection of Hugo, Clarke Award, and BSFA Award nominees."

The selection includes 13 novels and 4 graphic novels.  I really liked the 2 novels I've read in full; I like what I've read of the Ms Marvel graphic novel; several more of the books are on my to-buy list; so I'm looking forward to this as a project.  Do join in if you wish :-)
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
When Hazel and Fiver reached the floor of the hollow they found Blackberry waiting for them, crouching on the peat and nibbling at a few brown stalks of sedge-grass.

[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)
 Specifically the train from Cambridge to London. We might even arrive at Eastercon in time for the Pratchett panel (but probably not).

It is really weird travelling with Tony and 0 children; I keep accidentally checking for them, but hopefully that will wear off soon. In the real world outside my habit-trained brain they were supremely unbothered by our departure, and have more relatives arriving today to keep them busy.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I found Bob Olsen's obituary again. (Bob was partner to my great uncle Theo for decades.)  So now I know which cemetery to go to if/when I visit Toronto again.

(dept of ridiculous advance planning: maybe for the solar eclipse in 2024)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've just been ill, and busy, and ill some more.  Did you know that it's entirely typical for coughs to last up to three weeks? Well now I do.

Studying is mostly progressing in bitesize chunks; I've missed a few days while ill, but also picked up once my brain came back, so that's passed the first test of "is this really sustainable?".

My colleague's funeral had a very gratifying turnout; the funeral service itself focused heavily on the afterlife I don't believe in, but I drew a lot of comfort from fellow attendees, and exchanging stories at the wake.   Her family very kindly let me pick out some of her things from the flat they were clearing out.  I focused on books on topics we had in common and came away with more than I would have expected: I was amused when one of the business texts I'd picked out was referenced in my studying a few days later.  Now I just have to find time to read it before finishing the course.

Running is on hold until I stop coughing, which cannot happen soon enough.  Also I missed the 20th anniversary alt.fan.pratchett meet / Pratchett wake, but at least Tony and Charles got to go.

Eastercon is imminent; my mother-in-law arrived tonight and Tony and I will leave the children from Friday morning to Monday evening.  I've not even been away from Nico overnight yet; I have been away from Charles a few times for the length of a conference, but Tony was with him for all of them.  I am nervous and excited and hoping it all works out well.  Mobile phones make the prospect a lot more bearable.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
My new course doesn't start until next month, but I've had the textbooks for a bit over a fortnight and have been studying since they arrived.

I don't have much time to study.  (This article, Why time is a feminist issue, is so true to my life it's painful: flow? what is flow? sorry I have to break up an argument over crisps, what were you saying?).  Over the 15 month break I took from studying, I very slowly and painstaking carved time out of my week to run regularly, to talk to my parents regularly, to do a minimal bit of political activism, to read more.

What was killing my study before was trying to do it in big chunks at the weekend: interruptions and immediate needs ate up the big chunks, and then I would have an essay crisis.  My revelation was from software development: studying is hard, so do it more often.

My goal is to do an hour a day, every day.  In one go if possible, or 2x 30 min or even 3x 20 min.  Do it in nibbles, but keep doing it, day in and day out, until it's done.  There are ebooks of the textbooks and most of the time I can cuddle a toddler to sleep for 20 minutes reading about accounting just as easily as reading about werewolf marines.  (Less entertaining though.)

I'm supposed to do 10-12 hours a week, but 7 hours a week is better than nothing, and I read fast.  The other important part is letting myself stop when I've done an hour, and do something else, because there'll be more study time tomorrow.

That's the theory anyway.  It's been going well for the fortnight I've had the textbooks, but I won't be counting it a success until I've turned in the first couple of assignments on time without crisis (good marks would be good too!).

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
After some time, Hazel woke Buckthorn.

[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: (bat-funny)
+ the Light is doing a sensible-length Marvel marathon leading up to release day for Age of Ultron (unlike this very silly one)
+ and it's my two favourite films (Avengers Assemble, CA:TWS) before the midnight showing
+ and it's in 2D
- I cannot do a full day's work after a midnight showing
- I still can't believe that Tony Stark is so genre-unsavvy that he builds Skynet Ultron

On balance I think I'm going, so long as I can get the morning-after off work.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Since the summer of 2003, I've been getting milk delivered in glass bottles - more expensive that the supermarket for sure, but not actually very expensive in real terms.   Keith was keen to reduce plastic usage and I was fed up of running out of milk at breakfast time, and it's been convenient enough I've not been motivated to stop, even after Keith moved out.

However, our milk consumption is rising as both children grow up, and there are fewer deliveries a week, and fitting all the bottles in the fridge is at times challenging.  This week Charles dropped and smashed a nearly-full bottle and I decided that while glass may indeed be more reusable and greener than plastic, its failure mode is not really acceptable with small children, especially when they are frequently barefoot indoors.

Luckily the milkman also delivers plastic bottles, so I am replacing our daily 3 pint bottles with one 4-litre bottle (and an extra one for the weekend because we've consistently run out on Sundays for the last month).   Easier to pack in the fridge, less likely to run out, no smashing, and best of all it will actually cost us about the same because the per-unit cost is smaller with the bigger bottles.


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

July 2015

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