rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
I've not finished anything in the last two weeks - after my colleague's death a fortnight ago I found it hard to settle to anything for a while, even short stories.   I did decide not to continue with my trial Scribd subscription.  I enjoyed reading on its app and it has lots of books I want to read.  The trouble is that I already have a vast quantity of books paid for and not read, so adding a monthly fee and hundreds more unread books did not feel helpful.

What I'm reading now
Still working through Kaleidoscope and Women Destroy Science Fiction! one story at a time (slowly).  I've put down the the Angela Slatter short stories until after the Hugo nomination deadline. (9th March, self, remember to submit them)

I'm reading Spin by Nina Allen for bookclub on Friday and finding it fairly engrossing.

What's next
No idea at all; ideally something Hugo-eligible.
Partner by Lia Silver as it just got released :-)  I expect werewolf marines are just the thing to solidify the reading-properly again.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
As Dandelion ended, Acorn, who was on the windward side of the little group, suddenly started and sat back, with ears up and nostrils twitching.

[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: Charles holding his baby cousin (charles and cousin)
It's half-term next week, most places around the country I gather, and Legoland are running a "Junior Builder Week" - also known as "a use for our lego-themed hotel while it's out of season for the theme park".  We stayed a night in one of the themed family rooms, and the following day there were various lego-building activities around the hotel.

The children, and Charles in particular, loved it from the moment we walked into the hotel reception and there was a giant pool of lego pieces to play with, and a vast wall of minifigs behind reception.  We were the only people checking in at that late hour (it was about 10pm) and the receptionists invited Charles to come behind the counter and look at the Wall of Lego People up close.

The room itself was pretty good, with the children's bunk beds in their own area the other side of the bathroom from the adults' bed.  The bathroom was very smartly fitted out with lots of nice details (integrated small-child seat on toilet! overhead shower and second mobile shower head! Lego-branded shower gel and brick-shaped soap!)  I was in two minds over the "Adventure" theming what with this meaning a carpet lovingly decorated with spiders, lizards, scorpions, etc, and Nico (who is a bit scared of spiders) wasn't very happy about the lego spider in the bathroom.

We did manage to get the children to sleep and they did get something approaching enough sleep overnight (I didn't, but never mind) before we went down to breakfast. Then there was lots of assorted playing with lego (and in Nico's case, with automatic doors to the outdoor play area) until people were hungry enough for lunch.  We opted for the buffet-lunch in the same restaurant as breakfast, and Tony took both boys to the outdoor play area while I enjoyed 15 glorious minutes eating dessert slowly by myself.

Finally we went in the hotel pool and "pirate themed water play area" for a good 90 minutes and after that we decided to head home.  (Nico was asleep within 15 minutes of leaving the pool; Charles nodded off on the bus back to Windsor).  Once again we passed through Windsor and I thought "I should really plan a visit here where we have time to visit the town and not just Legoland."

The one thing I really disliked, that I'd managed to forget when we went to the theme park last year, was the constant piped music, always slightly too loud for comfort, in all the public areas.   The pool area is also very noisy, more a constant roar of white noise than the muzak.  I thought Charles dealt with it very well, but it definitely added to frayed nerves when we were getting hungry or tired.

Charles is already asking when can we go again :-)
rmc28: (glowy)
I got into work today to find that a recently-retired colleague died last night.

She was here for over 9 years and I worked closely with her for much of that time. She was excessively kind, a software developer with decades of experience, and I liked her very much and quite often found her infuriating.  She didn't really want to retire, and had just started a temporary contract elsewhere in the university.  Her flat is a short walk from my home and we used to see each other every so often in passing.  The last time I spoke to her was a few weeks ago, cycling home on a Saturday morning with library books, and seeing her with shopping bags, and pulling over to have a quick chat.

I kept thinking I would arrange to meet up with her for coffee; that it would be good to pursue the friendship that we'd always had without the tensions of our different approaches to work.  I kept not getting around to it and now I never will.  She had a lovely house at the seaside she was renting out and going to move to when she "really retired", and now she never will.

People here have been pretty thoughtful, making sure those who worked with her were told in person before the big all-dept email went round. The bosses have explicitly said we should take time and give "mutual support" if we need to.  I've already had one cry in the loos and quite a few little huddles of isnt-it-sad are-you-ok do-you-remember, and I'm sure they won't be the last.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] ceb pointed me at a kickstarter for Queers Destroy Science Fiction, by Lightspeed Magazine who did the Women Destroy Science Fiction! collection that I'm currently reading and Women Destroy Fantasy! that I read recently.  I've been pretty impressed with both of those.

With 5 days to go, it's already well past funded and most of the way through the stretch goals.  Additional collections about Horror and Filk have already been unlocked, and Queers Destroy Fantasy! is about $1.5k away.  Also they are offering extra flexibility about exact combinations of rewards with "addons" that will be manually processed (this was a good move on their part, I more than doubled my pledge as a result).

I am selfishly hoping for the Fantasy stretch goal to get unlocked, thus the signal-boost :-)

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Recommended to me by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte as a possible Hugo nominee.  I got a sample of it, was completely sucked in by the end of the sample and read it eagerly until the end.  The book is narrated by someone who keeps living their life over and over, from the 1920s until they die and then go back to the 1920s again - and how he finds others in the same situation, and how he tackles a threat to them all and apparently the entire human race.  I quite often didn't much like the narrator, or his friends, but the story and the gradually expanding discovery of What Is Going On really drew me in.  I definitely recommend it.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (dnf)
This was also recommended by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte but I didn't get beyond the end of the sample.  At the point it ended, I hadn't liked any of the characters and nothing had happened that made me think it would be exciting or interesting or anyone would get more likeable.   (In contrast to the previous where I didn't much like the characters but the events had sucked me in.)  Would someone who has read it like to encourage me to continue?

Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell (dnf)
Mind Sweeper by AE Jones (dnf)
These two were ebooks I've had for a while, and decided to tackle as part of my "clear the TBR pile" project.   Nothing about either of them put me off, but also nothing about either of them drew me in.  The first is a self-published Hannukah romance novella by one of the SBTB contributors, and the second is an paranormal/urban fantasy which won a Golden Heart.  

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
I read this because [personal profile] rachelmanija mentioned the author as an example of someone successfully self-publishing and employing "the first one's free" tactic.  This was the first one free; it's an epic fantasy adventure (someone is trying to assassinate the emperor) but in a steampunk setting with printing presses and steam vehicles.   Amaranthe is an "Enforcer" (a police officer) who ends up disgraced and uncovering the plot against the emperor, and recruiting a bunch of misfits (including an incredibly competent assassin) to save the day.  I found it  fun, and I did really like the way Amaranthe repeatedly got out of sticky situations with persuasion rather than violence. 

I had a couple of niggles with it: while the overt social sexism (women belong in business, not the police!) is criticised, there's a fair bit of casual sexual stereotyping of the "women want comfort not solutions" kind, and some unnecessary angsting over pastries and exercise in the first chapter.  Also, while I like Amaranthe a lot, there weren't any other women characters of any depth.

Even so, I liked the book as a whole enough to not mind the niggles, and the author has a lot more books avaialble, and seems to be producing them at an impressive rate, so that's a fun discovery.

A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
Another of the rather farcical (in a good way) regency romances I'm working through via the library.

What I'm reading now
I'm working through several short story collections at once.  I find I need to read one story at a time and then do something else, and I've got one each going in 3 different places (paperback, Kindle app, Scribd app) ... all I need is to get a fourth going in my main ebook reader and that's a full house:
Kaleidoscope - paperback
Women Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter-funded special edition of Lightspeed (the Women Destroy Fantasy issue I read last week was produced as a stretch goal for this one) - Kindle
The Girl With No Hands and other stories by Angela Slatter -  Scribd

What's next
Probably Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, as it's eligible for Hugo nomination, and I've had it since release day.  The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (also known as Sarah Monette) if I can swallow the huge ebook price.  Or something off the library pile before I run out of renewals.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Long ago, Frith made the world.

[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)
Because Tony introduced him to it at a tender age, Charles is a keen player of Angry Birds.

Because Angry Birds: Transformers exists, Charles has got into Transformers.  We have worked through series 1 of the 1980s cartoon and are now working through Transformers: Prime, which seems to be considerably better than both the series of my childhood and the Michael Bay films. 

Because YouTube exists, Charles has discovered Transformers Prime fanvids.

Because of two particular fanvids, I went shopping for music today at Charles's request.  Yes, I could have been boring and just got the two specific tracks, but I thought it would be more fun for both of us to get compilation albums with "more like this", as I like both the tracks concerned.

While I was shopping, I discovered the musical subgenre that is club workout mix albums, and could not resist adding Ministry of Sound Running Trax 2014 to my purchases. Partly out of sheer delight that such a thing exists.
rmc28: Rachel, in running tshirt and leggings, holding phone and smiling into mirror (runner5)
Last weekend Sport England launched This Girl Can, an advertising/social media campaign to encourage more women to exercise regularly, featuring "real women" doing real exercise.  I've ended up on their email list somehow (buying Olympic tickets?) and got sent the breathless press release which seemed to feature entirely young slim (white) women with shaved armpits, to which I had a rather eyeroll response. 

However, the full video is rather more diverse, and there's a woman on a bike "I'm slow but I'm lapping everyone on the couch" and a woman running "I jiggle therefore I am" who both look rather more like me.  The slogans aren't quite right though; mine would be something like  "I'm slow but I feel so much better".

A few days ago, there was the Time to Talk day, "spend 5 minutes talking about mental illness on the 5th".  I was too busy on the 5th (and ironically, too low in mood even to go out and run), but it ties in nicely. 

I use exercise to manage my mental health.  I'm not quite well.  I'm not quite ill.  A bit lot like my RSI and my pelvic girdle pain: so long as I keep up the right habits to manage my condition I can go days, weeks even, and almost forget I have it.   I can do my job, help raise my children, contribute to civil society, and you can't see from the outside when I'm working really hard not to break down crying over trivial things (or my wrists and hands are hurting, or my pelvis is hurting).

I could probably do with making more effort to track my mood, gather more evidence of what seems to help and what doesn't, but when it's good it's easy not to see the need, and when it's bad it's easier not to bother.   What I do know seems to help me stay on an even keel: running regularly, eating regularly and in variety, getting enough sleep, maintaining connection with family and friends, actively pursuing my interests, not trying to do too much, not thinking too hard about food, not getting too stressed.  (yes some of these things contradict each other)

The most recent drop in mood followed a fortnight where: I was ill, my child was ill, I couldn't run, we had a break in routine, we had a large family gathering (and family gatherings are both wonderful and tiring).   I can't point at any one of them and say that's the culprit but I wasn't exactly surprised to note the falling of my mood.  Or to feel it improving again as my routine returned to normal, my child got better, and I could exercise again.

My health is not binary: well or ill. It's not a constant burden - sometimes there's a black dog on my shoulder and sometimes there's a puppy gambolling in the park.  It's a matter of balance and paying attention and being kind to myself when I need it.  Sometimes kindness is chocolate and a good book, and sometimes kindness is making myself get out in the cold and run.
rmc28: (books2010)
First, let me commend this essay by [personal profile] thingswithwings on saying "I don't usually like X but" about works, especially when X is a socially-marginalised genre.  (and compare to e.g. "but you're not like those other women / politicians / sf fans", all of which I have been on the receiving end of, and all of which gets old really fast)

Last week, when I said The Siren by Tiffany Reisz was "Surprisingly good S&M romance", I was totally doing this.  To a lesser extent I was also doing it when I said "But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it." 

Let me rephrase.  Both The Siren and its direct sequel The Angel are both engaging, page-turning, hot, romantic novels that happen to feature BDSM and polyamory.  The Siren has a protagonist who is learning about BDSM, which is a good device for explaining things to the reader who doesn't know much.  The Angel develops several of the characters from The Siren further and has a sweet m/m first-love romance too.  I suspect I could happily marathon the rest of the series and maybe I will after I've done more Hugo reading.

What I've read:
The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher.  This has a retold-fairytale feel, but I wasn't quite sure which fairy tale: it's a bit reminiscent of Bluebeard but not in the details.  Rhea the miller's daughter gets engaged to the local mysterious lord, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work with magical powers, and a bunch more wives no-one seems to know about.  I loved the storytelling and the women-working-together plot and the hedgehog.

Women Destroy Fantasy! which is really a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays and I should probably talk about that in more detail separately.  One of the (Hugo-eligible) shorts, and one of my favourites, was also by T Kingfisher: The Dryad's Shoe.  It's a really nice Cinderella retelling, and reminds me that I never got around to writing about Ash by Malinda Lo which is a much creepier Cinderella story.

There are a great many "further reading" recommendations in Women Destroy Fantasy! many of which I have taken note of.

Toad Words and Other Stories by T Kingfisher.  This is a collection of stories, pretty much all retold fairy tales, and this time I actually recognised all of them (except the poems; I'm not good at poems).  My standout favourite was Boar & Apples, which you could also call "Snow White and the Seven Wild Boars".

I've been playing with a free trial of Scribd, which mostly meant I indulged in rereading a bunch of Jennie Crusie's funny romance books: Strange Bedpersons, Anyone But You, Getting Rid of Bradley, Charlie All Night, Manhunting.  I note that I am now squarely in the age-demographic of most of Crusie's heroines, which I wasn't when I first discovered her ten or so years ago.  Also that dogs can be strangely vital to romance.

I read another Tessa Dare, a novella called How to Catch a Wild Viscount which was apparently her first published piece.  I didn't like it nearly as much as One Dance with a Duke so I'm still a bit undecided about this author.

I had preordered Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor after enjoying her first book, Worth the Fall very much.  I didn't like this one nearly as much.  I finished it, so it's better than a lot of stuff, but I was disappointed.  It had a lot of the tropes I really dislike: a controlling dominant very rich hero who can't communicate, plot being driven by 2D Nasty Characters Being Nasty, a great deal of Manly Macho Men being Macho, while Good Family Women herd children around and gossip and obsess over babies. 

I really didn't like the way women in this book were either Good Family Women or Nasty Shallow Women.  There was a bit of that in the beginning of Worth the Fall but I had managed to forget it.   The things that I particularly liked in Worth the Fall were: slow romance developing out of connection and communication, the conflict of "you cannot carry on with the career you have and be the kind of partner you want to be in this relationship" feeling like a real no-one's-fault dilemma, no enormous financial disparity between the two characters.  In Worth the Risk, none of these apply and in most cases the opposite is true. 

What 's next
I still have samples of two sf novels to try, and [personal profile] ceb has kindly lent me Kaleidoscope for more short story goodness.  There's also another T Kingfisher novella I haven't bought yet ...
rmc28: (nursing)
I haven't breastfed Nico in over 24 hours (over 48 hours on one side, which is distinctly less comfortable right now).  For whatever reason, the redirections I've intermittently tried (to a drink from a cup or bottle, to just cuddles, to a dummy) have all been accepted recently.

I'm really hoping this continues to be the case.  Another few days should finish it.

I am so, so, so ready to stop breastfeeding.

(Just over 9 years since I got pregnant with Charles.  More than 8 years either pregnant or breastfeeding, and most of the "year off" trying to conceive.  I have had enough of sharing my body.  I have had enough of faffing about with bras rather than just wearing ones that let me run, and of choosing my clothing by whether I can feed in it.  I have definitely had enough of post-nursing hunger pangs.  My feelings about stopping are no longer mixed!)

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
It was getting on towards moonset when they left the fields and entered the wood.

[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: (wedding)
... and supervising nap time.

It's the first wedding I've been to with the new wording, about how in this country, marriage is "a union between two people". I was already feeling emotional but teared up at that. (And then they did the reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin about roots growing together and I just gave in and cried.) 

I forgot to pack my smart shoes so given a choice between my (bright yellow) trainers or bare feet I'm going barefoot indoors and soaked a pair of socks for the mandatory family photos outdoors. (I remembered spare socks, of course).

Nico decided to read "Room on the Broom" aloud during the ceremony and Charles couldn't sit still and had a small meltdown about taking photos (lesson identified: more effort by us required in walking through formal events in advance). So I'm a bit embarrassed all round, oh well.

Bride and groom are beautiful and look very happy, and it's lovely to see the family and especially my niblings.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The upcoming Cambridge History Festival has clashing events:

Impact of the Railways in Cambridge: Friday 27th Feb from 19:00 to 20:00
Tony Kirby looks at the role of the railway in shaping Cambridge and explores the past and present railway landscape, from the days of steam through dieselization to electrification, and from the Hills Road Bridge to Chesterton Junction, Cherry Hinton and Histon.

CAMRA at the White Horse Inn: Friday 27th Feb from 19:30-21:30
Find out more about the history of brewing in Cambridge while sampling delicious beer from the Moonshine and Black Bar breweries, and enjoy a short tour of current and former Inns in the Castle Hill area.

Surely I'm not the only person who is torn between TRAINS and BEER?

Poll #16417 beer or trains
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20

Daddy or chips?

View Answers

11 (55.0%)

17 (85.0%)

1 (5.0%)

3 (15.0%)

4 (20.0%)

10 (50.0%)

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
What's Yours Is Mine by Talia Surova
Draw Me In by Talia Surova
Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova (dnf)
I want to like these books but found them infuriating in different ways, but I think that rant is lengthy enough to deserve its own blog post.

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
This was good! It's a detective novella set in WW2 Los Angeles, which starts with a body found on top of the La Brea Tar Pits. And it is also a gay romance where neither of the protagonists dies or has a miserable ending. There is apparently a sequel planned, and Lanyon has an enormous backlist (as it were) which also seems to be m/m romance in various subgenres. I've put in a library request for the one book in the Cambridgeshire libraries system, and put myself on the author mailing list so I can find out when the sequel to this one is out.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
I was on a roll with reading and remembered this was out, so bought it on impulse. This one is over in the Welsh borders rather than London, and the big spoiler from the end of Broken Homes is mostly in the background of a gripping missing-persons case. I was particularly struck by the vivid sense of location - just as much in this countryside as in London. I think this is one that someone could read without much familiarity with the previous books, because it doesn't really depend on them for context beyond "policeman who can do magic".

One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
One of my freebie romances from earlier in the month, and better than I had expected. I think I'd read one previous novella by this author and not been overly impressed, but I may look out more now.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan
I've already blogged about how much I liked this one.

All I Have by Nicole Helm
This was a nice little romance about a pair of farmers and their competition for custom at the local farmer's market, complete with believably annoying small-town reputations and family preconceptions. I now find it's going to be reissued later this year with extra scenes due to one romance line shutting down and books being bought up by another one. So I'm subbed to another author mailing list to find out when that's available.

Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery
The Last First Date by Maggie Wells
Light My Fire by Kristina Knight
These three were in the same ebook box set as All I Have but all of them annoyed me / failed to grab me so I didn't finish any of them.

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
Surprisingly good S&M romance, which was more engaging and more complicated than I expected, and turns out to have half a dozen sequels.

What I'm reading now
The Angel by Tiffany Reisz - sequel to The Siren and equally engaging.

What's next
I just bought The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher and have samples of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel & The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, all thanks to people reccing things to me for Hugo consideration. Plus I got the special issue Women Destroy Fantasy! of Fantasy Magazine, and am hoping to borrow a copy of the Kaleidoscope anthology.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)



Short Story

Related Work

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Editor, short form

Editor, long form

Professional artist




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John W Campbell
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Fu Inlé means 'After moonrise'.

[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: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
Nico is on fine form today.  Singing the "alphabet song" he concluded

"now I know my A B C, next time sing ... Let It Go"

complete with appropriate change of tune, and then enormous giggles.  Apparently Let It Go is his favourite.

(He has been ill for over a week, in a "not very serious, just keep treating the symptoms" kind of way that just keeps dragging on, and he woke up in a foul temper this morning, but he is pretty cheerful right now.)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I stayed up way too late last night reading the latest book by Courtney Milan: Trade Me which got released yesterday.

I started reading Courtney Milan for her historical romances, and I was particularly smitten with the Brothers Sinister series, set in Oxford and Cambridge during the late 1800s, with women mathematicians, scientists, newspaper editors (and the aristocratic men who fall for them). She does all the emotional connection and struggle and happy endings that I love reading romance for, while quietly including a whole range of characters who aren't just aristocratic white straight neurotypical people with perfect mental health.

Trade Me is a billionaire novel.  There are lots of billionaire novels, especially since Fifty Shades of Grey and mostly I ignore them because I find conspicuous consumption and rescue narratives a turn-off.  But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it.

And I loved it. 

The trouble is, the things I especially loved are basically spoilers.  So let me see.  It's a trading-places novel, where Blake, the heir to a huge tech company swaps his life with that of Tina, a poor immigrant fellow student, only he isn't doing it for laughs and she insists they make a proper agreement, and they become friends and eventually a romance happens.  The novel isn't very fond of the "rich man rescues poor woman from poverty" narrative, and Tina isn't passive or a victim or stupid, and Blake is a rich boy with a problem, but not in a woobie manpain way. 

So you have Blake washing dishes to pay rent on Tina's horrible bedsit and trying to figure out his problem, and Tina planning the new top-secret product launch and worrying about her family.  (And the actual tech product launch scene, very near the end of the book, is brilliant and funny and spot on and I kind of want to get [livejournal.com profile] fanf to read the book even though he doesn't really like romances, just so I can laugh about it with him.)  There are lovely minor characters, and people feel believable, and there isn't any minor character being one-dimensionally horrible to provide artificial conflict, and the ending is great and doesn't tie everything up happily ever after.

I am so glad that there are two more books in this series, and I am particularly excited for book 2 and the characters it's apparently going to focus on.  I also want to see more about how Tina and Blake and their families go on from where they've got to at the end of this book.

Two other things of note:
  1. There is a trans character who just happens to be trans, and it only gets mentioned as a background thing to explain a particular response to a conversation.  That character has way more lines/scenes that aren't about their being trans.
  2. There is extensive portrayal of an eating disorder.  I think it's a portrayal done well, but it's unavoidably there in the story.
Trade Me is available from all the usual ebook stores, including DRM-free and in multiple formats at Smashwords, and also in paperback rather more expensively.
rmc28: (bat-funny)
Take this list, remove a thing, sort it by how much you like the things, add a thing at the top, a thing in the middle, and a thing at the bottom (preserving the sortedness, pedants):

(most liked)
Reading the latest book by a favourite author
Running away from zombies
Steam locomotives
Getting up early
Nessie Ladle
Eating paper
Oilseed rape in hayfever season
(most disliked)

(from http://damerell.dreamwidth.org/87540.html)

This is assuming:
a) running away from zombies as in Zombies, Run! not an actual zombie apocalypse.  It edges ahead of steam trains because all I need to indulge is a smartphone and suitable clothing, rather than an entire railway.
b) the children stay asleep when I get up, so I can have some peace and quiet

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have a supporting membership to this year's Worldcon, and this gives me the ability to submit nominations. My placeholder post from last year is a bit thin on things to nominate, mostly because I just haven't seen or read that much.

Strange Horizons and Tor.com have a helpful archive of fiction sortable by date.
[community profile] ladybusiness have a Hugo-eligible spreadsheet sourced from recommendations to them, which I may use for preference as someone obviously already liked the things on it enough to recommend them.

But here is your chance to push something at me to read / watch / otherwise consume between now and 9th March :-) Ideally not something I already have on my placeholder post.

Poll #16386 Hugos!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 3

Recommend me an sf novel (or two!) published in 2014

Recommend me some shorter-length sf (do not worry about the exact categories) published in 2014

Recommend me an sf film (or two!) released in 2014

Recommend me some short-form sf drama released in 2014

Recommend me one (or more!) sf graphic novel published in 2014

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've been nursing a sick toddler since Saturday, and also sick myself for much of the last few days. On the good side I got more reading done!

Books read:

Prisoner by Lia Silver
Laura's Wolf by Lia Silver
These are turning into comfort rereads for me. Also I haven't got over getting a Yuletide gift from the author :-)

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty
This is book 2 in a series about a boarding school for the teenage children of the rich and powerful. It was due back at the library and I started it in a bit of an impatient mood with it and its tropes (undecided between two boys! beautiful mean girls! secret society secretly runs the world!), but eventually the storytelling drew me in and I finished it in a rush before it was library-run time. I don't think I will bother with the rest of the series though.

Fool for Love by Eloisa James
A fairly fun regency romance; second in a series. I find the style a little stilted and the plots completely silly, but there's a lot of charm and I'm a sucker for farce, which I think James does very well. Also though each one has its own "complete" romance story, there's at least three or four more going on in a more long-winded way among the wider cast, and I do want to see those resolved too. (I am not sure why I'm tolerating the romance tropes here better than the young adult ones in "Night School", but I am.)

Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
Pack of Strays by Dana Cameron
Books 1 & 2 in an urban fantasy series (the third is due out at the end of March) about a trainee archaologist who discovers she's part of a Family, of werewolves and vampires and oracles. They're both fast moving with fairly complicated plots and the archaology is intermittently vital to the plot. The viewpoint protagonist is believably confused and flailing and trying to do the right thing even as it gets harder to figure out what that is.

I enjoyed them very much and I've preordered the next one. I have to thank [personal profile] davidgillon for bringing them to my attention (and writing a better review than I've managed here).

Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
This is the sequel to Stranger, which came out only a short while ago, and which I liked very much. I probably liked this one even more: it raises the stakes, develops the characters and the world a bit further, and has some lovely culture-shock exploration, between the small-town democratic society of Las Anclas, vs the power, wealth and control of the nearby Empire that threatens it. We lost the Mean Girl viewpoint from the first book (though we see her from other points of view) in favour of a new character from the Empire.

The authors have self-published this sequel, after getting the first published through a traditional route, and Sherwood Smith has published a thoughtful piece about that decision, which I think is worth reading if you are generally interested in what's happening with publishing, even if not in post-apocalyptic young-adult novels, or these ones in particular.

Selfishly, I'm glad that this sequel came out so quickly, and I do rather hope both books sell enough that the remaining two books planned can get written too.

Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor
I bought this on the basis of its mention in a podcast transcript by Smart Bitches Trashy Books (the main podcast discussion is on trigger warnings for rape, but this was in the "what have you read recently" bit), and enjoyed it very much. The romance is between a pregnant widow, with four children already, and a Navy SEAL, and it could have been awful, but the way the children in particular were written felt realistic and not-annoying to me, and the romance worked well and showed the two of them having to work their way through conflicts and life-changing decisions if they're going to make things work. It was the SEAL end of things I found less believable, in particular the Last Minute Dramatic Tension about 9/10 of the way through. But overall it worked for me really well, and there's a sequel out in about two weeks which I've preordered.

Next book
No idea, something else easy, ideally off my to-read pile, as I'm still ill.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
'But Hazel, you didn't really think the Chief Rabbit would act on your advice, did you?'

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

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've had two of my ten evening classes on this course at Cambridge Regional College, and so far I'm enjoying it.  I'm very grateful to the friend who pointed me at it and is also on the course.

Week 1: lots of talking, mostly about How To Avoid Injuring Yourself Doing DIY - ladders and electrical safety and so on.  Then we finally got to hands on stuff, and did some simple wood sawing and began preparing baby's first wood joint.

Week 2: continuing baby's first wood joint, and adding chiselling to sawing in our range of skills.

The class is quite small, about 10-12 students.  About half of them are women, and I'd guess the age range at about 20-60.  The setting is a workshop with all the tools, equipment etc that we need, so it's a good place to practice with tools I don't have at home.  I did have some difficulty with the chiselling which I was relieved to find were likely down to the chisel not being sharp enough, and physically shown the indications to look for.

Week 3 is apparently going to be hanging doors and I have got ridiculously excited because I basically hate all the internal doors in my house.  They are that nasty hollow fake-panelling which seems to have been designed to create the maximum number of surfaces and grooves to catch dust.  So I find myself browsing DIY store websites for doors and door handles, and may have to drag Tony around the local ones to choose a couple of doors for me to start with (probably to replace doors we mostly keep open anyway, in case I cock it up - I'll save the bedrooms and bathrooms until I'm a bit more confident).

In later weeks we do some glazing, some tiling, some very  basic plumbing, some making holes in things (and patching holes we didn't mean to make), and some bricklaying.  Right now I'm full of New Enthusiasm Energy and thinking of practical applications around the house once I've had a chance to try stuff out in class.   I suspect the projects I'll feel able to tackle after it's over will keep me busy for rather more than ten weeks.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
This evening, for the first time this year, it was not completely dark when I left work.  About 45 minutes after sunset, and the sky still had some shades of blue in it, and I could see where sunset had been by how the sky there was lighter.  

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Hello kind author! I am really looking forward to your story celebrating the amazing women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I ticked all fandoms and all characters.  There is no-one in the tag set I would not enjoy reading about.   My general likes and dislikes I wrote out very recently for Yuletide so I'm going to be very lazy and link you to that dear author post.

If you have a story idea that you've been meaning to get around to, that is about one or more of the MCU ladies, that doesn't include things in my dislikes, then please make this your excuse to write it. I would be completely delighted to read it.   

If however that's not very helpful and you would like a prompt or two to kick something off, here are some.

Maya Hansen was one of the most interesting characters in Iron Man 3 and I was gutted when they killed her off.  I wrote a Maya Lives story (Finding True North Again) but I would happily read a dozen more, so free to write your own or remix that one or show me what happened next or cover some of her time before IM3. 

Betty Ross was unaccountably missing from Avengers Assemble.  I mean, seriously, if you know that there's one person who consistently can get the Hulk to calm down, why aren't you getting her on board the helicarrier rather than faffing about with cages?  (yes, I know the real-world answer is because Liv Tyler was pregnant, but it's annoying.  More of Betty please.  I very much like the version of her who appears in [archiveofourown.org profile] lalaietha 's series your blue eyed boys and related stories if you want more headcanon, or just go with what we on screen)

Christine Everhart is an interesting minor character - I mean yes, she's there at the beginning of Iron Man as part of establishing Tony's careless playboy side, and there's the unnecessarily bitchy exchange between her and Pepper the morning after.  But then she's the one who brings Tony the key evidence about Gulmira, and the one who provokes Tony into declaring himself Iron Man (and watch that press conference scene, the other reporters go nuts and she sits back, like she's all done here). 

She makes another brief appearance in Iron Man 2 and mostly I think (like pretty much anyone else who has to deal with weapons during that film) she's thinking "WHY, Tony? WHY did you have to grow a conscience and leave the rest of us to deal with Hammer and his massive insecurity complex about you".  So basically  I'm intrigued enough to want to know more.

Maria Hill gets the sceptical sidekick role in Avengers Assemble: cool, expressive of her disagreement but ultimately following Fury's orders, incredibly competently.  She continues quietly competent throughout Captain America:Winter Soldier, for which the key moment for me is when she's running the operation to take down Project Insight, sees people approaching her position, and just rolls her chair back, shoots them, and gets back to it.  She protests Steve's apparent suicide on the Insight carrier but follows his orders anyway, because he isn't more important than the millions being targeted by Insight.

Any combination of the agents being badass together: Maria, Natasha, Sharon Caron, Melinda May, Victoria Hand, Bobbi Morse.

Natasha and Skye talking hacking together (or just hacking together).

Any combination of the scientists being sciency together:  Jane, Betty, Maya, Jemma.

I hope that's helpful and look forward to reading your story :-)
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs. 

Moderator note: in this chapter, Fiver describes a dream.  The time to discuss what it refers to is when we reach those events, not now.

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

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I got this for Christmas from my inlaws.  It is a very funny buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock (the straightlaced overachieving FBI agent) and Melissa McCarthy (the foulmouthed maverick neighbourhood cop).  Together they fight crime track down a nasty killer and the drug lord he works for.

It's quite obviously a film that knows its genre stereotypes and is having enormous fun with them.  The dialogue is brilliant, and the two lead actors are just fantastically good at delivering it, and with the body language.  I particularly personally appreciate having a fat woman lead character who is also clearly clever and sharp and good at her job, rather than just being the comic relief or the emotional support. 

There's a refreshing absence of the usual action-movie stuff that grates on me (women aren't background characters and rewards! there are important non-white characters! who aren't villains!) so I had time to notice the terrifying approach to fiirearms (it's funny! but then you stop laughing and have time to think that was incredibly unsafe wtf) and the fact that the main plot is almost entirely driven by the futile War On Drugs[1].  And the remainder by the criminalisation of sex work. 

This film has reminded me that I basically adore Sandra Bullock, so I have gone on a bit of a shopping spree for more of her films.  I'm having less luck finding films with Melissa McCarthy that look like I actually want to watch them but I'll accept recommendations :-)

[1] Just like Die Hard 2, 25 years ago.
rmc28: (books2010)
Today is not that day.

8 M&B 3-in-1 "By Request"
6 M&B Regency
5 M&B Historical
1 M&B 2-in-1 "Date with a Regency Rake"
1 Tessa Dare
1 Elizabeth Hoyt (author of the awesome Batman Regency Romance novel)

and as a palate cleanser to all that romance, Fifty Sheds of Grey

Oh hey, it's Wednesday. Let's call this a Reading Wednesday post.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The primroses were over.

[This is a post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
One of the books I read last year (Prisoner by Lia Silver) referenced Watership Down as a book about soldiers and specifically the Second World War.  Now, I read Watership Down repeatedly as a child and can remember most of the plot and quite a lot of passages almost verbatim, but I missed that aspect completely.  I probably last read the book twenty years ago, so I thought it would be interesting to read it again now.  And invite people to join me if they wish!

There are 50 chapters and an epilogue, brought together in four parts.  Here's how this is going to work:
  1. I'm going to make one post per chapter, roughly once a week, most likely at weekends as that's when I have more time.
  2. The post will consist of the chapter number and title, a 1-2 sentence summary of the chapter the first sentence of the chapter, and a link back to this post.
  3. I'll make a comment to the post, in which I say whatever I find I have to say about the chapter and the book so far.
  4. (Hopefully) some of you join in the discussion.
  5. At the end of 2015 we'll have finished the book!
  6. People are welcome to join in at any time (but you will need a Dreamwidth account or an Open ID to comment)
  7. My comments policy applies: 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 interacting 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.
  8. Spoiler policy: There are people who have not read the book and some of them will be participating in this read through.  Please keep discussion to the current and previous chapters.  At most you can mention that something will be significant later, but the time to discuss that is when we have reached later, with references back if needed.
First post will be this weekend (3-4 Jan).  The chapters are about 3-5 pages long in my Penguin edition, which means even in very busy weeks I should be able to read a chapter and think about it.

List of posts so far:
Chapter 1: The Notice Board
Chapter 2: The Chief Rabbit
Chapter 3: Hazel's Decision
Chapter 4: The Departure
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Since my reset on 4th May:
Physical books: added 44, read 15 - current total 330
Ebooks: added 44, read 34 - current total 134
Library: requested 35 books, of which 6 remain unread.

Goals same as last year (keep on swimming):
1 on, 3 off for physical books
1 on, 2 off for ebooks
Up to 6 requests at a time from library (finishing one requested book allows me to request another)


Physical books on:
  1. Fifty Sheds of Grey
  2. One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
  3. Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
  4. The Wicked Lord Rasenby by Marguerite Kaye
  5. The Rake's Rebellious Lady by Anne Herries
  6. Virgin: Wedded at the Italian's Convenience by Diana Hamilton
  7. Count Giovanni's Virgin by Christina Hollis
  8. The Italian's Unwilling Wife by Kathryn Ross
  9. Make-Believe Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  10. Six-Month Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  11. High-Society Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  12. Once Upon a Pregnancy by Judy Duarte
  13. Her Mr Right? by Karen Rose Smith
  14. A Merger ... or Marriage? by RaeAnne Thayne
  15. Shaken and Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly
  16. Intoxicating! by Kathleen O'Reilly
  17. Nightcap by Kathleen O'Reilly
  18. The Millionaire's Rebellious Mistress by Catherine George
  19. The Venetian's Midnight Mistress by Carole Mortimer
  20. The Billionaire's Virgin Mistress by Sandra Field
  21. The Count's Blackmail Bargain by Sara Craven
  22. The French Count's Pregnant Bride by Catherine Spencer
  23. The Italian Count's Baby by Amy Andrews
  24. The Children's Heart Surgeon by Meredith Webber
  25. The Heart Surgeon's Proposal by Meredith Webber
  26. The Italian Surgeon by Meredith Webber
  27. Blackmailed into a Fake Engagement by Leanne Banks
  28. Tempted into the Tycoon's Trap by Emily McKay
  29. Transformed into the Frenchman's Mistress by Barbara Dunlop
  30. The Beauty Within by Marguerite Kaye
  31. The Scarred Earl by Elizabeth Beacon
  32. Reforming the Viscount by Annie Burrows
  33. Never Trust a Rake by Annie Burrows
  34. The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill
  35. The Rake to Ruin Her by Julia Justiss
  36. The Highlander's Stolen Touch by Terri Brisbin
  37. A Stranger's Touch by Anne Herries
  38. The Accidental Prince by Michelle Willingham
  39. Man Behind the Facade by June Francis
  40. Return of the Border Warrior by Blythe Gifford

Physical books off:
  1.  Fifty Sheds of Grey
  2.  One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare

Ebooks on:
  1. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
  2. Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor
  3. Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova
  4. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  5. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
  6. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz
  7. Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell
  8. The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher
  9. Women Destroy Fantasy!
  10. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  11. The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
  12. Women Destroy Science Fiction!

Ebooks off:
  1. Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
  2. Pack of Strays by Dana Cameron
  3. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
  4. Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor
  5. What's Yours Is Mine by Talia Surova
  6. Draw Me In by Talia Surova
  7. Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova (dnf)
  8. Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
  9. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  10. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
  11. Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery (dnf)
  12. All I Have by Nicole Helm
  13. The Last First Date by Maggie Wells (dnf)
  14. Light My Fire by Kristina Knight (dnf)
  15. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  16. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz
  17. The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher
  18. Women Destroy Fantasy!
  19. Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor
  20. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  21. Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell (dnf)
  22. Mind Sweeper by AE Jones (dnf)
  23. The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Requested books: (strikethrough means read or bounced off)
  1. Mental Health Aspects of Autism and Asperger's by Mohammad Ghaziuddin (returned unread, come back later)
  2. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (returned unread, come back to)
  3. Pegasus by Robin McKinley (returned unread, come back to)
  4. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (returned unread, come back to)
  5. Legacy by CJ Daugherty
  6. Fool for Love by Eloisa James
  7. A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
  8.  Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
  9. Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James

rmc28: (wedding)
By agreement, Tony went out to a party tonight and I stayed home with the children.  Nico was asleep soon after 9pm but Charles was determined to stay up to midnight if possible.  We had a mellow multi-screen evening (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the tv, Charles playing Angry Birds on my phone, me noodling on my laptop) but despite strenuous efforts, Charles fell asleep shortly after 11pm.

I settled in to watch the London fireworks at midnight and put on Captain America:Winter Soldier to watch afterward.

At 1am, Nico fell out of bed with a dramatic thud.  I think he woke up more from my picking him back up than from the actual fall, and settled back to sleep fairly quickly.

At 2am, he woke up and made his way downstairs where he expressed a great deal of concern for the car that was being thoroughly smashed up:  "Car broken! Car broken, mummy!  Poor car.  Car is sad."   We are now watching Teletubbies instead, and eating cold fishfingers because they were there.  Also I am reading through 50+ story notifications from AO3 now that Yuletide authors have been revealed. 

At some point I will try to put both Nico and myself to bed, as I need to get back to something like my usual sleeping pattern tomorrow night.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (half-marathon)
But now is when I have time to write, so: happy new year!

I looked at my new year's post for 2014, and am glad that the children have grown easier with another year in them.   We took it even easier than last year, with just the one trip away on the 27th, and some super-easy visitors on the 20th and 14th.  Nico has been only moderately clingy, and I have managed to run a couple of times, and generally feel fairly rested and recharged.

I have some things to look forward to:
- my Change It Yourself course at the local college, where I hope to acquire some basic DIY skills, starting next week
- my sister-in-law's wedding at the end of January
- Eastercon (without the children!)
- two babies due in my extended family in the summer

I have to make a decision by early March whether to continue with my OU study (suspended for most of the last year) or to let it go.  The Change It Yourself course and how it goes is definitely going to inform that decision.

I think, like 2014, my approach to 2015 is going to be Just Keep Swimming.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
In a stroke of genius, my inlaws Lucy & Simon bought matching jumpers for the four children. It took quite some effort to pose a baby, two toddlers and an 8-year-old together, and parents had to be in there too to settle them down, but here, see the cuteness that is my children and their cousins:

Four cousins and their mothers

We kept the jumpers on our two for the journey home. It's my experience that dressing them alike gets an "aww cute" reaction which gives us rather more slack for them being children in public. Anyway, the two of them in matching jumpers holding hands through the non-accessible bits of the underground was a sight to behold. If I hadn't been carrying a buggy up and down flights of stairs, I would have photographed it for you.

(In fact any way of playing up the "aww cute" is helpful, which I first realised during Eastercon when C was a toddler. We got a lot more approval and a lot less annoyed huffing when he was running around dressed up as dragon or spider than we did when he was "just" a toddler running around.)
rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
On Saturday we went over to Beaconsfield and back to meet up with two of Tony's sisters plus spouses and offspring.  The travel was tiring and crowded (we managed to avoid the horrors of Finsbury Park, and were just stuck on a standing-room only train to Liverpool St, and just-about-enough-seats for all the other legs).  We were all rather zogged yesterday as a result, and I was very deliberately letting Tony sleep in as long as possible, and trying to keep the children occupied elsewhere.

Nico and Tony have developed a bit of a tradition on weekend mornings for Nico to "help" Tony with his morning cafetiere.  By about lunchtime, Nico had clearly decided Tony was slacking, barged into the bedroom and marched up to the bed saying "Come on Daddy, do coffee!"    I am afraid I was laughing too much to intervene as Nico ruthlessly pulled the covers off his father and repeated "Coffee, Daddy" until Tony emerged and got the kettle on.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Lots of these are short, and there's a lot less of them than the main Yuletide collection, so I rocketed through the collection last night while being kept awake by small children. These are my favourites.

I'm not going to say much about these because they're only 100 words each and you might as well read that rather than my blather - just that I thought each one worked really well for the fandom it was in:

Justice and Mercy (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Mercy of Kalr, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq

Memorial for a Tea Set (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Kalr Five, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq

On Saturday We Went For A Picnic (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters

Transfer of Title (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tom Long, The Clock

Comfortable (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: A Civil Contract - Georgette Heyer
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Jenny Chawleigh, Lydia Deveril

Agent of F.I.E.R.C.E. (105 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Black Widow (Comics)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Liho (Marvel) & Natasha Romanova

Non-drabbles, in increasing order of wordcount:
Black Beauty - Anna Sewell, Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie, Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey, Persuasion - Jane Austen, Watership Down - Richard Adams )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The rest of yesterday went pleasantly: the children seemed to mostly like their presents, with a few real successes and nothing really disliked.  I had failed to track just how many clothes I'd bought for each child though, and there are drifts of new clothes in the living room which need sorting out.

The adults had a few gifts each which meant we didn't feel left out, food was tasty and plentiful and everybody ate to repletion.  We had lots of fun opening crackers together, and then started an impromptu Wallace & Gromit marathon, and I had a burst of getting-things-tidied doing-laundry changing-sheets while that was happening.

[it's not that housework is especially fun, but it always needs to be done, and doing it essentially on my own schedule rather than under external time pressure can be its own kind of relaxing]

Unfortunately, from about midnight until 4am either one child or the other kept me awake, which means I am less than cheery this morning.  Better now I have breakfasted.  The most annoying point was a fat-finger moment while reading while cuddling Nico.  Instead of deleting an individual ebook I'd finished, I managed to delete all the ebooks on my phone.  Most of them are backed up to Calibre on the family computer, but not the 200+ yuletide fics I downloaded to the phone yesterday.

So tasks for today (in no particular order):
- redownload yuletide fics, this time to Calibre, and then reload phone with 1400+ ebooks
- go for a run and have a nap afterward to catch up on sleep
- get the children to help me put their new clothes away, and almost certainly cull some of the existing ones

rmc28: (wedding)
I fell asleep sometime after midnight.  At some point after that Nico woke up and came into my bed.  Charles woke me up at 5am, but was persuaded to go away again.  And at 6am.  And at 7am.   At 8am I finally felt ready to wake up properly.

Nico got much more into opening his stocking this year; Charles mostly resisted the urge to play with all his brother's stocking-contents as well as his own.  As last year, I put the (excessive number of) presents behind the fireguard in front of the unused fire to keep them out of curious toddler hands.  Mid-morning there was a little present avalanche and the fireguard fell over.  We put it back up up but further out from the fire, and left the presents where they had slid.

I'm wearing a tshirt with Olaf from Frozen, with the slogan "I'm All Out Of Shape".  We've had a mellow morning eating treat breakfasts and too much chocolate, and Nico playing Let It Go and dancing/singing along.  Now Tony has made the salmon-on-bread and poured the bucks fizz.  Charles is wearing a Santa hat and preparing to hand out presents, and all is well with the world inside my home.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Two yuletide gifts.

And you know what's even better than that?

Getting thank you comments for the stories I wrote before I was even awake enough to read my own gifts. Yay for happy recipients. 

My gifts, let me show you them:

To Roam Between Stars
(2757 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Abigail Brand/Carol Danvers, Carol Danvers/Janet Van Dyne, Abigail Brand/Carol Danvers/Janet Van Dyne
Characters: Abigail Brand, Janet Van Dyne, Carol Danvers, Nick Fury

Abigail Brand is a minor character on A:EMH which is the brightest most colourful amazing animated series about the Avengers, and this story is about her growing up and coming to join the Avengers.  In her brief appearances on the show, Abigail impressed me with her competence and ruthlessness, and this story expands on that.

Blank Pages (3040 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Werewolf Marines - Lia Silver
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Echo (Werewolf Marines), Charlie (Werewolf Marines)
Additional Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Sister-Sister Relationship, Storytelling, Yuletide Treat, Misses Clause Challenge

I have enthused before about the Werewolf Marines series, and this is a lovely "prequel" to the book about Echo, filling in more about Charlie and with very evident sisterly affection.  I particularly liked the use of Little Women fanfic inside the story, and I only regret that it's so long since I read Little Women that I'm probably missing some of the context.

I'm now busy downloading every story in the archive that looks like My Kind Of Thing to my phone so I can read it safely anonymous there, as I for sure will not get through them all in the week before they are revealed.
rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
I discovered Nico playing with the power switch to the house router, singing "switch it on, switch it off" to the tune of Let It Go.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I went to work today, leaving Tony and the children at home.   Late morning I got a call on my mobile from an incredibly distraught Charles, who had applied the latest update to his Angry Birds Go app, which had wiped out all the upgrades he'd earned over hours and hours of gameplay.

This is how you can tell I am a parent and a software developer: first I spent several minutes expressing sympathy and suggesting local sources of comfort; then I said that when he was ready we were going to write down exactly what happened and send it to Rovio.  And finally (after he'd rung off, much calmer), I looked up the support page and mailed it to both Charles and Tony.

My colleague (also a parent) was amused.

(I have only just sat down after coming home; the bug report has yet to be written)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
This is inspired by [personal profile] kate_nepveu's recs post earlier today.

I didn't set out to keep a recs list for Yuletide 2013. What I did do was download everything that looked interesting while they were still anonymous and work my way through them later. Anyway, these are the bookmarks I made of 2013 Yuletide stories. I've replaced the supplied summaries with brief notes of my own, hope that helps give a flavour of why I liked them.

Legally Blonde, Gravity )

Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Sarah Jane Adventures )

A-Babies Vs X-Babies )

Chalion Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold, Cotillion - Georgette Heyer (x2), Doctrine of Labyrinths - Sarah Monette (x2), Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey, Laundry - Charles Stross, Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula Le Guin, Persuasion - Jane Austen )

Calvin & Hobbes with Young Wizards - Diane Duane, Disney Princesses (x3) )
rmc28: (wonderfrown)
Both my assignments are finished, named, and uploaded. 
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
So what should I do about the item of clothing that is exactly as described, arrived very promptly, with reasonable postage etc - but reeking so much of cigarette smoke that it's gone pretty much straight into the washing machine, and I've taken the packaging to the outside bin?

I suspect the Approved Thing is to send a polite message through ebay alerting the seller to the smelliness of their sales items, and/or leave something in the feedback form?  Probably not the latter until after the former?  No idea how to phrase feedback; not doing great at phrasing a message right now.

Not sure if I want or should ask for some refund?  I strongly dislike the smell but it doesn't actually make me ill, and I felt I'd bought at a reasonable price.  There was no indication of it coming from a smokers household.   Of course there's no indication in the item description of it coming from a smoke-free household either, which some sellers do emphasise; perhaps I should stick only to such sellers for future clothing purchases.  (Mind you even then I quite often end up with clothes smelling really strongly of washing liquid artificial scent which also needs washing out before I can bear to wear them/put them on my children.)
rmc28: (BRAINS)
For the second time in 10 days, I have had that "what's that mark on my screen?" feeling, only to realise it isn't on the screen, it is in my vision.  The little blurry mark has expanded gradually into a wobbly semicircle fitting neatly around my monitor, and flashing interesting geometric coloured patterns.  When it expands out of my field of vision, the headache will probably start.  There is some really interesting correlation I can't quite remember between the neurochemical cascade in my brain and this light show outside ... actually the light show is also in my brain, isn't it?.

Unlike 10 days ago, I have managed to take some drugs while the aura is still in progress..  Let's see how this goes.

I seem to have improved my energy levels to the point where I can stay up too late repeatedly, and give myself migraines.  Onward with glorious purpose!

Later edit ~19:00
: The painkillers did not take; I ended up begging a lift home from a coworker and taking my nauseous headachy self to lie very still in a dark room.  After a while I felt better enough to come out and eat and drink a bit, but the headache persists, so back I go.
rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
I realised that although I have told several people this anecdote in person, I never got around to blogging it.

In the summer, the four of us went to Sheffield for a few days to meet up with my nephew the mustardseed and his parents.  On our last evening, we were having supper at their home, and Nico was bimbling around their garden and fiddling with a couple of pieces of smooth gravel.  All of a sudden I spotted him shoving one of these little stones right up his nose, just too late to stop him.

Luckily the children's hospital with an A&E was on the bus route back to our hotel, and we were shortly to depart in that direction anyway, so we just hurried up our departure, and I took Nico in while Tony and Charles continued on without us.  Monday evening in A&E is quite civilised and we didn't have to wait long before a nurse saw us and attempted to teach me how to blow the blockage right back out again.  It took me about a dozen tries and the supervision of a more senior nurse, but eventually I succeeded.  We were on our way again less than 30 minutes after arriving and I felt quite the hero.

The next day, at lunchtime, something reminded Nico of this, and he chattered excitedly to me and Tony about his visit to the hospital. 

I said "Nicholas, do we put stones in our noses?"

"Yes!" he said, grinning and nodding.  I sighed.

"Nicholas, should we put stones in our noses?"

He shook his head very solemnly. "No."
rmc28: (glowy)
Graduate Trainee Developer - this is a post within my team of ~10 developers, and we're looking for bright people who can learn, regardless of degree subject.   Closing date is 31st Jan and interview date is 11th February. We're open to those graduating next summer as well as those available now.  If you know anyone interested, please do pass the link along, and I'm very happy to answer any questions about the job, either here, or by email to my personal address, rmcf@cb4.eu. 

Plus 3 jobs which I know rather less about, but can answer general questions about the department (either here or by email):

2x Programme Manager (Fixed Term)

1x Senior Project Manager (Fixed Term)

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Three years ago I bought us a new artificial tree, and spent a Saturday afternoon in bed gestating, while Tony and Charles assembled and decorated the tree.

A year later, Charles did the tree mostly by himself and roped Tony in to help, while I looked after 6-month-old Nico.

Last year, we opted not to try for the tree at all, given how mobile and unreasonable our 18-month-old toddler was.

This year, Charles helpfully pointed out that if we waited until 1st December we would be rushed because it was a schoolnight, and therefore it would be much more sensible to put the tree up today. This time we included Nico until his "help" became too difficult for Charles to handle, and I took Nico off elsewhere to distract him while Tony and Charles decorated the tree.

So far, Nico is being fairly sensible around it, but presents are still going behind the fireguard to reduce temptation.


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

February 2015

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