rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-27 12:10 pm

Organisation fail

I realised yesterday that it was the last of Nicholas's swimming lessons for the term and we hadn't been given a re-enrolment form at any point.  On further checking, we've completely missed his re-enrolment window, and the class he was in is completely full now.   These lessons are always oversubscribed, and the idea is that once you're in the system you get priority to stay in and progress up the classes, but that doesn't help if no-one (me) checks when the deadlines are. 

So I think by default I have to make a note to check for enrolment day at the end of next term, in hopes of getting him back into classes in the autumn term.  That seems ages away.  I suppose I can also look at the holiday "crash courses": four or five daily 30 minute lessons on weekday mornings.  Great for learning but a bit of a logistical challenge for us.

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-22 01:28 pm

The end is in sight.

My last exam for the business degree will be on 11th September.  And then I am FREEEEE.

I am banning myself from making any more time-eating long-term commitments until at LEAST the end of the year.  A friend who has known me for over two decades outright laughed at me when I said this :-P  
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-19 05:49 pm

Shopping

Yesterday I took Nico shopping for new school shoes after his dance classes.  We returned with:
  • a grey snood with soft fake fur lining for me
  • a sparkling purple hat with yellow stripes for him
  • a fleece-lined grey hat with earflaps and a rainbow space invaders stripe pattern for me
  • a new dressing gown of incredibly soft fleece for him
  • new Peppa Pig slippers for him
... oh yeah, and a new pair of school shoes.

(The first three items were from the local charity shop, which I sloped off to while he was in class, which is possibly cheating.)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-17 08:03 pm

My feelings about school are very mixed right now

On the one hand, I've been having some really constructive meetings with teachers and support staff this year, relating to the needs of both children, including one in my lunch hour today. On the other, there's that horrible letter about attendance.

At the start of last week I managed to deliver two Politely Cross letters to school.  One went directly back to the "Pupil Welfare Officer" robustly defending the reasons for Charles's absences. The other went to the head teacher and the chair of governors to point out the strategic problems with sending letters like that (destruction of parental goodwill, and increased attendance of sick children, with all that implies) and asking them to review both the timing and wording of the letters. 

So far I have had a holding response from the head to say she has received and noted our letter, but is very busy right now and wants to give it a proper response.  This week we got a letter to all parents asking us to lobby Justine Greening about changes to school funding, which is probably one of the things the head is busy with.  I'd be a lot more willing to write lobbying letters if I hadn't had that one about attendance though ...



rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-16 12:10 pm

More cheering things

Hidden Figures was released in the US at the very end of 2016, so I can nominate it for the Hugo awards this year.  Woo!  (No, it's not science fiction, but the category is "dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects" and I think it counts as a related subject.)

There is a sale for the next 36 hours on the first 9 books of the Young Wizards series, in ebook (which I did not previously have).

rmc28: (bat-worry)
2017-03-16 10:38 am

Assorted grumps

I've had a cough most of the week.  Monday I went to work, which in retrospect was a mistake and I should have worked from home. Tuesday I worked from home. Yesterday and today I am exhausted because I keep waking myself up coughing, and too tired to work, and today on top of everything else I keep wanting to burst into tears at the slightest obstacle. [personal profile] rydra_wong has a theory about cytokines and mood drops towards the end of colds/flu which is a) plausible and b) makes me hopeful that maybe I am towards the end.

AND Tony is ill too and even worse than me, so we're just about adding up to one functional adult when the children need us and otherwise ... not.

Also this morning my main bedroom light bulb died.  Hurrah, past-Tony stocked us up with spare bulbs.  But then I first of all knocked a load of dust off the light fitting onto the nice clean laundry folded on my bed, argh (yes my housekeeping is terrible), and then discovered the bayonet fitting is broken and the new bulb won't stay in it. I give up.  Bedside lights and the window are perfectly fine right?


rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-15 01:48 pm
Entry tags:

Hugo nominations!

Hugo nominations close very soon (06:59 Greenwich Mean Time on 18th March, so less than 3 days). I submitted mine last night.

My highly rigorous selection method was:
  • checking my "Reading Wednesday" posts of 2016
  • checking my blog posts tagged 'films'
  • picking out eligible works I liked and thought good-enough to nominate
  • finding a few other things while googling to confirm eligibility
  • making my perennial nomination of @microsff
The only category I was able to find 5 nominations for was Short Story, but I still think this is better than making no nominations at all. To me, the value of the Hugos is when everyone nominates the things they liked and the popular results emerge from the crowd.

I found some helpful eligibility posts from:
Apex Magazine
Lightspeed Magazine
Uncanny Magazine

And a helpful list of authors eligible for the Campbell Award from Rocket Stack Rank. I also found that Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, which I love very much, is eligible for the new Best Series award.

The one other thing I nominated that I've not mentioned before is Splendor & Misery, a hip-hop dystopian space opera concept album[1] by Clipping[2]. It's about 40 minutes long, available on Spotify and impossible to take in if I try to do anything else while listening to it. I've still managed to listen to it three times and I haven't quite got my head around it, but it's amazing. The track All Black particularly sticks in my head.

[1] which I find glorious just for existing and letting me say that phrase
[2] 1/3 of Clipping is Daveed Diggs, who played Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton


my nominations )
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-08 10:06 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: short fiction
Gideon and the Den of Thieves by Joanna Bourne. Last of the five novellas in the historical romance collection Gambled Away.

Other shorts, all from Daily Science Fiction:
The Lion by Mari Ness
Counting Down by Peter M Ball
A Howl In The Night, Unheard by Bridget Norquist
One of a Kind by Maurice Forrester
The View From Here by Darragh Savage

What I'm reading: I'm a chapter or so into Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, the book on which the film I liked so much is based.

Acquisitions:
The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Roses in Amber by CE Murphy
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Long List Anthology 2 edited by David Steffen

And from the Samhain closing-down sale, a bunch of authors I've never read but whose books appealed:
Hidden Memories by Robin Allen
The Truth As He Knows It by A.M. Arthur
The World As He Sees It by A.M. Arthur
The Heart As He Hears It by A.M. Arthur
She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
From the Ashes by Daisy Harris
Heart of Change by Roxy Harte
Temptation City by Lyric James
Thoroughly Tempted
by Lyric James

And now I really need to do more reading and less buying ...
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-05 10:16 pm

Achievements of the week

3 trains booked for the epic nordic holiday
2 stroppy letters regarding school attendance written and ready to print out and drop off in the morning
1 dance school dress rehearsal stewarded today (Nico is on stage for about 4 minutes; I stewarded an entirely different group; my respect for the head of dance school has shot up several magnitudes after watching her organise this)
0 working days lost to migraine, and a new prescription request filed online
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-02-27 01:19 pm

This is a stupid system

I opened a form letter from my children's school this morning, informing me that "Frederick"'s attendance is at 90%, significantly lower than the government target of 95%. It included this particularly threatening paragraph:

"You should be aware that regular attendance is a legal requirement and the Education Welfare Officer may become involved if there is no significant improvement in Frederick's attendance."

Now, I am absolutely a stroppy middle-class parent, whose response to bureaucratic threats like this is "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". I am not at all concerned about seeing this off myself.  But that this is the system, that letters like this will be going out to parents without my resources and confidence, that the very first contact to parents on this issue contains implied threats of legal action and bureaucratic interference - that appalls me.

On closer inspection, it is not actually possible for me to "improve" my child's attendance in the remainder of the school year: they've calculated that 90% threshold assuming he has perfect attendance between now and July.  He cannot physically have any better attendance than he does now, the way they've calculated it.  So that threatening paragraph is also setting me up to fail.
ETA: I got that bit wrong - talking it through with my dad, I was getting confused between days-in-school-year and sessions-in-school year.  He's just completed 190 sessions, with an attendance rate of 90%; there's another 190 sessions to go, so if he achieves perfect attendance for the rest of the year, we'll get back up to that target 95%. Which together with the name thing makes me think this is some automated letter generation, because we've hit the halfway point.  It's still heavy-handed but it's not quite as awful as I first thought. /ETA

My child has a 90% attendance record, because I keep my children at home when they are ill, and he has been a bit more ill than usual this past school year.  It's stupid to pressurise parents to send ill children to school.  It doesn't benefit the sick child and it puts the rest of the school community at risk. Any children with lowered immunity will be much more at risk, and will then presumably have even worse attendance records. Lowered immunity is correlated with disability, chronic conditions, and poverty, so this is an access issue as well.

I know this is a system problem: government policy enforced under threat of poor Ofsted results.  I can't fix the system.  But I can try to make my local part better.  So I've got letters to write:
  • specific response about my child's attendance record 
  • letter to headteacher and governors about the wider issues of access, and the way parents are contacted
  • ... and then see what those result in, I suppose
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-02-26 09:16 am

Hidden Figures

Tony and I were planning to see this last weekend, but every screening we could get to had sold out by mid-afternoon on Saturday!  So I was a bit more organised this week and got us tickets several days in advance to see the Saturday evening screening at the Arts.

I am so so glad we went to see it.  It's a really great film, with the excitement of SPACE and MATHS and ENGINEERING against the clock, clever use of contemporary footage, heartwarming scenes of family and friendship, dramatically climaxing with John Glenn's flight orbiting the earth and returning safely.  (I spent half the film thinking Chris Evans' looks had gone off a bit, but it turned out John Glenn was being played by a completely different handsome blond man.)  Also, because the film is focused on three black women working as computers for NASA during this period, there is a great deal of matter-of-fact depiction of racism and sexism.  I appreciated that it was so matter-of-fact, that the film is not about Overcoming Racism, it's about Getting Astronauts Into Space, and the racism and the ways in which it made Getting Astronauts Into Space harder is just part of the story.

I also cried a lot, because it is an amazing film, and I have come out with a burning wish to learn more about Dorothy Vaughan, who is shown teaching herself FORTRAN from a textbook, and spoilers )


I'm hoping to take Charles to see it, if I can make the time to do so before it leaves cinemas.



rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-02-22 07:37 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: poetry
[personal profile] serene mentioned the poem-a-day email from Rattle and I signed up. I don't really feel I know or understand poetry very much, but these ones have stuck with me so far:
Shoveling Snow by Vicki L. Wilson
April Rain by Abigail Rose Cargo


What I've read: short fiction
I also recently subscribed to Daily Science Fiction which gets me a short story in my email on weekdays, so even if I'm not getting to anything else, I usually manage to read that.

Shop Talk by O. Hybridity
Grandma Heloise by KT Wagner
An Invasion in Seven Courses by Rene Sears

Two more novellas from the historical romance collection Gambled Away:
Raising the Stakes by Isabel Cooper: A 1930s con-artist accidentally summons elvish help when she wins a flute in a poker game; he helps her pull off a really big con.
Redeemed by Molly O'Keefe: A former army doctor and a former spy, brought together by a really nasty character and a high-stakes poker-game in the aftermath of the US Civil War.



Acquisitions: (so far entirely eyes-bigger-than-stomach-brain)
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor - sequel to Binti which I enjoyed very much
  • Stories of Your Life and Others - anthology by Ted Chiang, including Story of Your Life, which has been made into the film Arrival
  • The Good Immigrant - anthology of essays by twenty British Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers and artists, includes this one by Riz Ahmed (played Bodhi Rook, the defecting cargo pilot in Star Wars: Rogue One; also as Riz MC was one of the artists on Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) - my favourite track from the Hamilton Mixtape)
  • Journeys - anthology of short fantasy stories
rmc28: (BRAINS)
2017-02-21 10:23 am

An exciting new migraine symptom

I've been having more flashing-light / visual obstruction migraine auras in the last few months.  Yesterday evening I had the fingers of my right hand go temporarily numb!  Fellow migraineurs, is this a known thing?

It was about 90 minutes after I'd first seen visual disturbances. I'd taken my drugs, waited for them to work, reached the point where I couldn't see my desktop properly so left work a bit early; collected the children; made them some food so I could crash if/when the headache got really bad.  I was in the middle of making myself some food when numbness started up in my right thumb.  It  moved slowly across the hand - maybe 5-10 minutes to move completely across.  By the time the fourth finger was solidly numb, the thumb wasn't any more.  My impression is the progression was similar in speed to the way flashing lights move across my field of vision from the left side to the right, and I gather that is something to do with the neurochemical cascade of the migraine travelling across the brain.  So maybe this was too.

(My sumatriptan has been working approx 4-5 times out of 6 if I take it as soon as I notice visual disturbance.  Yesterday was one of the times it didn't. I briefly tried getting up this morning; Tony got up to do the school run assuming I wouldn't be fit to go anywhere and he turned out to be right.)