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.)
rmc28: (silly)
2017-02-12 06:27 pm

Twitter meme

"the first four people that come up when you type @ are the ppl that make up your zombie apocalypse survival team"

I got [livejournal.com profile] fanf , [personal profile] hollymath , Ann Leckie and Lin-Manuel Miranda, which amused me greatly, but I decided I was too shy to spam the mentions of Leckie and Miranda by posting to Twitter. What company though!

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-02-10 08:59 pm

Some good radio

I saw a tweet today which pretty much summed up why I like the Radio 4 show In Our Time:


The format is the same every time: professional enthusiast Melvyn Bragg invites three experts to discuss an interesting topic, and (mostly) gently steers them through a reasonably good coverage of the subject in about 45 minutes.  The entire archive of hundreds of episodes is freely available online, and I've intermittently subscribed to the podcast ever since I got a device capable of playing them. My current podcast app is set to give me the latest 3 episodes I haven't already told it I've heard, so I am mostly keeping up with new ones, and slowly catching up back in time with the ones I missed while not subscribed for a couple of years ...

I listened to two really good episodes as distraction from a migraine earlier this week.  I had only the haziest of ideas about The Gin Craze, (it forms the background for a historical romance series which included the amazing Regency Romance Batman novel, but with which I got fed up because my Opinions on prohibiting drugs are so very much at odds with that of the characters with whom I am meant to sympathise). I was delighted to discover that much of the SCANDAL of the Gin Craze was that WOMEN were making, selling and DRINKING it. Excellent stuff.

I had not previously been at all aware of the writer Harriet Martineau, who was prolific and famous in the 1800s and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about her. I think I would have liked her very much and found her deeply frustrating: she was clearly brilliant, clever, determined, incredibly judgmental and fixed in her views, and successfully supported herself and her household by her writing. The level and style of public criticism she got at times does rather demonstrate the long history of yelling at women with opinions in public to shut up, with gratuitous insult and commentary on their physical attractiveness.  (Oh, and she was partially deaf and got ridiculed for her use of an ear trumpet.)

Something new since I was last listening regularly is additional material and a reading list on the webpage for each episode, so I may follow these up some day (in my copious free time etc).


rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-01-16 01:41 pm

Willing to wait for it

Priority booking for Hamilton in London went on sale at noon today. I was on the priority list, I got all the information last Thursday (including the really interesting stuff about how they are doing "ticketless booking" to combat ticket resales) and did some careful thinking about how much I wanted to spend and on what combination of tickets. The booking period just encompassed my birthday next year, so I decided to go for a Saturday matinee as close as possible to my birthday (because what better way to celebrate staying alive?).

At the weekend I set up a ticketmaster account, and added my payment details, this morning I confirmed I could sign in from work, was able to navigate to the performance I wanted and see how the ticket options would go, but not to order until noon, and waited. I hit reload a few minutes before noon, and got the Ticketmaster "you are in a queue" page, which thankfully cleared not long after I'd tweeted:



For speed purposes, I didn't try to choose seats but just asked for Best Tickets, and am delighted to have got row C stalls!  I think I benefited from being near the end of the booking period, and having as much as possible pre-filled.  Now I just need to wait till next June ....


rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-01-11 07:34 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: short fiction
3 short works by Rebecca Fraimow, consisting of:
What I've read: long fiction

Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows by Dan Slott & Adam Kubert
A belated present for my brother from his wishlist, which I may have sneaked a read of before handing over.  One of the n million Battleworld AUs, this has Peter and MJ and their spider-powered offspring in a dystopia where almost all the superheroes have been killed off by the tyrant in charge, and Peter spends his time hiding his and his daughter's powers and definitely not being a hero ever.  I am a bit meh about the morality that sets Protecting One's Family over and above everything else (especially as spoiler )) but the art is to my taste and I liked seeing Peter in something like a healthy and functioning relationship.

The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux.  Book 5 of The Protection of the Pack series, which I continue to find enjoyable and comforting reading.

Acquisitions:
Just the Dessa Lux.  (The Spider-Man doesn't count because it's not mine.)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-01-06 10:44 pm

So we're doing this (Worldcon)

I just paid for travel insurance for August and a flight to Helsinki, and booked an airport hotel for the night before our flight.  \o/

I started planning this holiday from my hospital bed in August 2015, paid for Worldcon memberships a while ago, but now we're starting to make it real.

[Travel insurance for (former) cancer patients is much easier to get than I had feared; I used a Cambridge-based specialist broker but in fact their online offering was completely sufficient.  They even included my very specific leukaemia in the drop down.]
rmc28: (silly)
2017-01-01 06:15 pm

Avengers icecream

I read this tweet out to my brother, which made him laugh:


Nico overheard and said "The Avengers are icecream!?" which somehow led to assigning flavours:

Iron Man is obviously strawberry flavour.
Hulk is "green and purple" which I think is apple and blackcurrant.
Hawkeye is blackcurrant flavour because he is friends with Hulk (we may have watched a lot of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in this house).
Thor and Cap are both "rainbow flavour".
Black Widow is blackberry flavour..
War Machine is vanilla.
Wasp is banana flavour.

... and then my 4yo consultant ran off to do something more interesting instead, and I got asked to lay the table.



rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-01-01 11:29 am

Paying it forward meme

Seen on Facebook, tweaked a bit because I overthink things:

Let's start 2017 off in a positive way with a Pay It Forward meme.  The first 6 people to comment (and more if I can manage it) will receive a surprise from me at some point in 2017 - anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!  it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

(If you don't like surprises and would rather have something off a wishlist and/or some warning, let me know in your comment.  The goal is to make you happy.)

If you can, post this in your own journal and pay it forward.  Let's do more kind and loving things for each other in 2017, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other.



rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2016-12-30 01:46 pm

Economical decluttering

A few weeks ago I was trying to find a blog post I remembered Tim Harford writing about research into different perceptions of gift-giving depending on whether you are the giver or the recipient.  Along the way I also found that he'd written about Maria Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and rolled my eyes a bit (I have read enough of my friends' reactions to the book to be sure I would personally find it intensely irritating), but was interested to see how he pulled out three principles of economics that Marie Kondo is illustrating:
  • status quo bias (Kondo says throw it out unless it "sparks joy", which Harford sensibly changes to "a compelling reason to keep it")
  • diminishing returns (the tenth pair of jeans is less valuable than the second, which is why you tackle all the things of the same type in one go)
  • opportunity cost (if you can't find a beloved possession under all the other things you have, you can't enjoy it)
So this inspired me a bit to start tackling the chronic mess in the house, a lot of which is down to the fact that things don't have a home, because we haven't got room to put them away, so they don't get tidied away.  I started with the toys in the living room, because they were causing the most friction, and I also thought they were the best case of things that really should "spark joy".  (Clothing rarely does for me, for example, and I doubt the children's school uniform does either.)   It took me a good couple of hours, I did most of the work of division, with the children occasionally challenging my choices in one direction or the other, and at the end of it I had 2 carrier bags for the bin and another 9 for the charity shop.  I reckoned we removed roughly 2/3 of the toys by volume; and what remained is small enough that we can keep similar things together when tidying rather than finding it too overwhelming and shoving everything away anyhow (and making the problem worse).

Nico spontaneously spent ages over the next week playing with some specific wooden jigsaws we literally hadn't seen in months if not years, which rather gloriously illustrated Tim's point about opportunity cost.

I've done several more sessions since, especially in the last few days.  It needs me to have time and energy and inclination to spend several hours at a time sorting through a category of things, because I haven't figured out a way to bitesize it without causing even more disruption to everyone else and/or having my work undone again.  It is tiring to keep making decisions, especially potentially emotionally-fraught decisions.   I found a fourth economic concept coming to my aid: in management accounting I learned the concept of sunk costs, that is, when making decisions it doesn't matter what time and money have already been spent, what matters is the future costs/benefits that will result from the decision. 

The children have learned to trust that I won't take something away if they say they really want it, so at least now let me get on with it until I'm ready for their review, which has sped things up a bit.  And slowly the living room and bedroom spaces are becoming nicer for them.  I've finally removed enough stuff from the children's room that I can actually tidy / reorganise what is left.  This morning I asked Charles if he would rather I took him out to the cinema today, or continued working on their bedroom and he chose the latter.

And for all it seems a bit weird, I've found it sometimes helps me to let go if I say thank you to things as I put them in the discard pile.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2016-12-28 09:50 pm

Reading Wednesday

Good grief it has been six months since I managed to write one of these! I find I am not reading very much after work and textbooks, and what I do get round to reading for pleasure has been almost entirely fluffy escapist romances, and fanfic (mostly fluffy escapist romantic fanfic). I am very much appreciating the modern world where I can join the mailing lists run by several authors whose books I consistently like, and who are good at sending email notifications that they have something out, or something at a reduced price, and some of whom helpfully recommend other books they have enjoyed.


What I've read

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.

Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. [personal profile] skygiants wrote a great review of it.

Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.

Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read.  They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.


Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.

Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld
by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sud┼żuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2016-12-25 09:23 pm

Scenes from my Christmas

My youngest brother arrived Christmas Eve and was drawn into a conversation with Charles about Transformers before he even put his bag down.

Finding all the presents I'd hidden as I bought them over the past half year, working out what was for who and whether there was a reasonable balance between the children.  Then wrapping them all.  I had managed not to go as overboard as in some previous years, but wrapping still took far too long, even with Tony's help towards the end.

Failing to wake Nico for the evening meal after he'd nodded off with his uncles earlier in the day.  Being interrupted about an hour after the meal by a furious and tired Nico, and spending some interminable period trying to help him through the meltdown enough to try the merits of warm milk and a cuddle.  And then staying up with him until after midnight because Christmas is too exciting!

Tony tweeting: "Father Christmas brought me four packs of coffee and a book of Cambridge barber shop tales. What is he trying to suggest?!"  (It is an open secret to everyone but Nico that I am Santa in this house.)

Calling Charles away from Minecraft to ask if he would like sparkling orange juice for elevenses like the rest of us.  He walked right up to me, paused significantly, and said "No."
"How about salmon on bread?"
"No"
"How about opening your presents?"
"Maybe"

Opening presents together: 4 adults, 2 children, approx 90% of the gifts by volume for the children.  So much fun.

Lovely food by Tony.  Pulling handmade crackers from my aunt as we all sat around the table.

Remembering that I took my last (ever, I sincerely hope!) ATRA dose last Christmas Eve.

Taking a little walk around my local streets in the evening to stretch my legs, and enjoying the variety of decorations on display.