rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-23 08:09 pm

Feeling stressed

From last weekend until 8th June is literally the busiest I will be all year: 2 OU courses with exams on 6th and 8th, and a third that just started and will run until September. I knew I was going to be stressed and overloaded and wrung out for about 8 weeks and had basically made my peace with it as the price for getting done this year rather than next.

And now 8th June is a general election, and I have no time to campaign, and have to fight the guilt gremlins that think I should surely be able to carve some time out magically, somehow, and funnily enough being even more stressed does not increase my productivity, or help me sleep.  This has not been the best week!

I've now logged out of Twitter and Facebook on my phone, so I can't take the stress with me everywhere.  I've devoted the weekend to resting and sorting out money (thus removing some other stress).  I'm behind on everything, but Facebook reminded me that I wrote this time last year about being behind on everything. While I'm still perpetually running too close to my limits, those limits have expanded in the last year.  I'm routinely working a 5-day rather than a 4-day week, I'm studying at a higher level, and my fitness has improved a little.

So I'm going to trust that if I take care of myself, I can get through this.  At least by 9th June some of my stressors are guaranteed to be gone.


rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-22 08:14 am
Entry tags:

Bring It On: The Musical

+ went to see this amateur production last night, with lovely friends (and bonus extra lovely friends who I didn't know would be there)
+ the dancing was ace, and some really impressively athletic cheerleading stunts
+ now I actually know how the plot runs together (Skylar is a lot funnier than I'd expected)
+ acting and singing pretty good
- no non-white performers, for roles that are meant to be non-white and whose race is plot-relevant
+/- discovered from wikipedia after I got home that one of the characters was played as trans on Broadway, but that subtlety didn't make it into this production
+ also discovered from wikipedia there's a professional production on UK tour this September (when I am FREEEEE from studying)
- there is no fanfic for the musical on AO3. at all.
- I failed to get to sleep for ages, and am paying for it today
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-19 10:45 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: poetry
Threading North and South by Matthew Murrey
Bids for Border Wall Now Being Taken by Ellen Steinbaum


What I've read: short fiction
The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike by Andrea Phillips.
I loved this story so much.  Marketing and brands as a force for good.  As a current business-school student, the branding-and-strategy stuff was absolutely spot on.

Three short stories by Laura Clay, collected in Hooves Above The Waves. I liked them very much, flippantly labelling them the kelpie one, the superhero one and the selkie one:
Loch na Beiste
Accounts Payable
Safe Harbour

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.  A reread, I still love it

Binti: Home
by Nnedi Okorafor: sequel to the previous, I loved it, even more development of Binti and her world, but argh, cliffhanger! Until JANUARY 2018 for the next novella.  YES I pre-ordered it.


What I've read: long fiction
Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge: 40-something lesbian werewolf, thoroughly enjoyed, going to be lazy and point you at [personal profile] calissa 's review which convinced me to get it, rather than try to write my own.

Digger by Ursula Vernon: Wow. I raced through this in a few days, I can imagine it was a very different experience reading it as-published over three years, but overall my reaction is Wow. I can see why it won a Hugo.

Roses in Amber by C.E. Murphy: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, gripping and enjoyable.  (Different in both feel and plot from Bryony and Roses by Ursula Vernon; I am so glad that both of these exist.)


Acquisitions:
Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge
Hooves Above The Waves by Laura Clay
Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2016
No Secrets: A Visual History of Show of Hands


Currently reading:
The Course of Honour by Avoliot (original fiction about space princes in an arranged marriage discovering dastardly deeds; updated twice-weekly at AO3; currently about 2/3 of the way through and entirely Argh, Cliffhangers!)

I got about halfway through the Long List Anthology 2, but as it's all stuff that missed out on being finalists last year's Hugo's, I think I've shelving it in favour of trying to read this year's finalists.  Also I have stalled on Hidden Figures as reading the text annoys me, and remembering to listen to the audiobook apparently eludes me.

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-17 01:48 pm
Entry tags:

Hugo finalists

Where to find them: http://file770.com/?p=34237
Which ones are Puppies: http://file770.com/?p=34186

For my own reference, with underlines for what I've already read / listened / viewed, behind the cut.
Read more... )

Chances of getting to everything in time to vote: slim, but I will try.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-16 08:42 pm

Day trip to London

This was originally going to be an excuse for a family trip to the Cutty Sark, but Charles had a cold so everyone else stayed at home and I went by myself.

The band Show of Hands is (as I write!) holding a concert in the Albert Hall, as they did five years ago and ten years ago. I knew I wasn't up to attending that. However, they were launching a lovely coffee-table book of a photographic history of the band, and holding a launch gig at the gallery of the publisher yesterday - order a book, get one of a limited set of tickets to the gig. So I got one of those tickets and off I went to Greenwich yesterday.

I enjoyed the music very much, and the experience of being in a small group of keen fans (the singing-along was top quality). I was also delighted to get to spend some time with [personal profile] jae afterwards. I was a bit of a nerd and diverted from the most direct route home in order to go look at the being-rebuilt Victoria Palace, so now I know my way to Hamilton for when I go next year.

I was away from home less than 8 hours, and I don't feel like I was especially energetic - even my cycling to and from the station was deliberately paced to not get sweaty - but I went to bed early and took a long time to get moving this morning.  I can only imagine how much more tired I'd be if I'd been co-wrangling children and seeing a bit of a museum as well as going to the gig.  I guess I need to dial back my expectations of our epic nordic holiday a bit more.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-08 09:24 pm

Day trip to Ipswich

I took Nicholas to see the Northern Ballet production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at DanceEast in Ipswich. Partly because the tour wasn't coming to Cambridge, and partly to see how feasible the journey is if I want to see other things on at DanceEast.  It's an 80 minute train journey each way, but the train wasn't crowded and I enjoyed looking at a landscape I haven't travelled through in years.

It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the station to DanceEast, but that was at a four-year-old's pace.  We took a path alongside the river which was a bit scruffy but quiet and very pleasant in today's sunny spring weather.   It's not very wide, so I spoke quite firmly to my fearless four-year-old about walking sensibly next to me, and the undesirability of falling in.  We made it both ways without incident.   Overall, it was probably a bit longer than going to a theatre in London, but considerably less crowded, noisy, polluted or stressful.

The production was excellent and Nicholas was very focused on it.  An adaptation of it will be on CBeebies next weekend, and I shall try to get a recording, as last year's is still among Nico's favourite things to watch.  I did notice that the audience was very noticeably gender-skewed, both children and adults, which made me a bit sad. 

Back in Cambridge, I took advantage of having to change buses in the centre anyway to take Nico for passport photos.  As we weren't in any hurry, I indulged his desire to ride all the escalators in the Grand Arcade and John Lewis.  We just missed a bus home and I opted to spend the twenty minutes before the next one on a gentle walk across the park to the next stop on the way home, which did the trick of keeping the child of infinite energy entertained. It did not noticeably tire him out.

I, however, am very tired out and have done almost nothing since we got back, but I think I will be ok tomorrow.  Go me, matching my exertion to my available stamina.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-07 09:17 pm
Entry tags:

Bring It On The Musical

Otherwise known to me as "Lin-Manuel Miranda's cheerleader musical".  A few months ago one of my colleagues pointed me at the soundtrack and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a bunch of catchy songs about young women being ferociously athletic and competitive, and about making mistakes, and a truly moving song about how you go on when someone has really let you down but you miss what you had together.  (Spoiler: this isn't about a hetero romantic relationship, but about the friendship and shared creative endeavours of the two central women.)

Unlike Hamilton, but like most musicals, Bring It On isn't sung-through so I've only the haziest idea of what plot takes place between the songs. I was utterly delighted today to find there's an amateur production of the musical being staged in Cambridge in a few weeks' time.  I am going to see it; either the Friday or Saturday evening performance.  (fx: clears diary).

rmc28: (glowy)
2017-04-04 09:33 pm

Finally leaving LJ

Today's new User Agreement which we had to sign to ever access the account again is the final straw.
  • no posting "political solicitation materials" without specific permission
  • no "perform[ing] any other actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation". This one in particular comes to mind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_gay_propaganda_law
  • "non-authorized users will see advertisements on all LiveJournal pages" - one of the original reasons I bought a paid LJ account way back when was to remove adverts next to my own content
  • plus the whole coercion to sign an agreement at no notice to access one's account
So I am making my final backup to DW; this will be my final crosspost and I will delete my LJ in a few more days.
I'm pretty sad about it. I've had this LJ since 2003. I've made and sustained some of my strongest and most important friendships through it. I gave it up for a while and then came back. But I have already built up a lovely circle on Dreamwidth, and for a long time now that's been where the majority of my "social media" networking has taken place. LJ doesn't want people like me, so I'm going.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-04-02 09:52 pm
Entry tags:
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-29 09:46 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: poetry
The Question Ever by Wendy Videlock (though I feel the urge to note that 'glove' and 'of' do not rhyme in my accent)
Diss by Makaila Dean
Upon Receiving My Inheritance
by William Fargason


What I've read: short fiction
Nevertheless, She Persisted - a collection of 11 flash fiction pieces for International Women's Day
For me, the standouts were:
Heart Stitch by Jose Pablo Iriarte
The Redshirt's Daughter by Evan Dicken
Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide by Erica L. Satifka

Bride by Mistake
by Nicole Helm (novella-length romance)

Mira's Last Dance
by Lois McMaster Bujold (Penric & Desdemona 4).  This just happened to show up when I was checking Hugo-eligibility of the previous two Penric & Desdemona novellas.  While the first three had quite long gaps of time between them, this one follows almost straight on from the previous, and leaves more than one plot thread unresolved by the end.


What I've read: long fiction
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (reread)
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch (reread)
The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
I had a couple of days where I really was too ill to do anything but doze or read, and inhaled these latest three.  The endings all struck me as particularly abrupt on this read through, the general destruction-level is getting ridiculous even with authorial lampshading, and there are really a lot of loose threads in play now.  (But I still enjoyed them all very much.)


Currently reading:

The Long List Anthology Volume 2 edited by David Steffen - I was surprised just how many of the short stories collected within I'd read - and surprised by a couple I'd not read but really should have.  Anyway, the quality level so far is excellent.

Hidden Figures
by Margot Lee Shetterly.  I am ... not enjoying this as much as I expected.  It is feeding my thirst for more information about Dorothy Vaughan (in particular) and the other women from the film and NACA/NASA more generally, but its style is both a bit too chatty and a bit too florid for my liking.  Or possibly having two bad colds in three weeks is making me bad-tempered and uncharitable.  Listening to the audiobook version doesn't seem to wind me up the same way, so I'm going to try listening the rest of the way through.


Acquisitions:
Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm
Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Tony bought Digital Divide by K.B. Spangler, which has been on my radar for a while, so I may sneak a read of it.  (And/or go back to working through A Girl and Her Fed by same.)

I preordered Provenance by Ann Leckie (out in October) and The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch (out in September).

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/678222.html with comment count unavailable comments.
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.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/677882.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-26 09:23 pm
Entry tags:
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 09:32 pm
Entry tags:
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-19 05:49 pm
Entry tags:

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.)
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/676110.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
2017-03-17 08:03 pm
Entry tags:

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 ...



Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/675757.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel, in running tshirt and leggings, holding phone and smiling into mirror (runner5)
2017-03-17 07:06 pm
Entry tags:

Hugo nominations!

Hugo nominations close very soon (06:59 Greenwich Mean Time on 18th March, so only a few hours to go). I submitted mine on Tuesday night and made a DW post, which didn't crosspost, I think because LJ intermittently decides not to like DW servers.

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)
2017-03-16 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).