rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
I joined Facebook a bit over a year ago, because there were two new babies in my extended family and that's where the baby photos were going to be.  I then mostly ignored it for months because of leukaemia but I've been cautiously getting the hang of it during this year.  I still don't much like it, but it is where a bunch of my family and friends talk about their lives (and share their baby family photos).  I don't friend people on it very much or very often, and am very unlikely to do so if I have any other way at all of keeping up with them that works better for me.

This morning I was feeling sad about having lost touch with all my friends from school.  I went to a friend's birthday party when Charles was a baby, and that was literally the last time I saw any of them and I don't even know if I've still got the right email addresses for the very few I managed to keep in touch with after university, and it's been so many years etc etc.  So after wallowing in feeling sad and useless for a bit, I thought to myself "you could at least try looking on Facebook, as you're there" ... and after some false starts I did indeed find several of them, and that has made me much happier.  

(Also I was doing the thing of looking through a friend's list of facebook friends and saw one of them flagged with "1 mutual friend" and I was a bit surprised because I knew I hadn't added anyone from school yet, how small can this world be!  But then I realised it was one of my brother's friends and we all grew up in the same village so it wasn't actually very surprising.)

I'm not expecting some great and grand reunion, especially as I'm about to turn back into a hermit for most of the next year.  Just to be in a bit better (any!) contact with my oldest friends, and with what's important in their lives.



rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
These probably all deserve their own post, but it's highly unlikely they're going to get them.
  1. I loved the new Ghostbusters, which we finally saw last night. It is made of joy and friendship, and I was highly amused by the villain's motivation and the response to his monologue of justification. Chris Hemsworth was clearly having the time of his life.
  2. I am enjoying being sociable and enabling the children's social life so much that I have slightly overscheduled myself and had to ask Tony to take over something for me this afternoon so I can remember the pacing myself part of recovery.
  3. In October I am going to get very busy indeed with studying (it eases up in June next year) and expect to have essentially no spare time outside work, study, and family commitments.  I am currently in the glorious summer break between being a hermit for cancer & recovery reasons and being a hermit for study reasons.  (Some of the children's social life comes with social life for me, and I am declaring date night with Tony and a monthly pub visit as also essential family commitments.  So not a complete hermit, but a lot more hermit-y than the last couple of months.)
  4. I lost patience with trying to work out how to upgrade my cheap spare phone from Jelly Bean for purposes of enabling C's desire to play Pokemon Go, so I have an even cheaper PAYG smartphone preinstalled with Marshmallow arriving today.  I don't think I need two spare phones, so if anyone is more keen on navigating the thrilling world of rooting phones than I am (or just could use a phone and are willing to use an older android version) then let me know and you can have the older one for cost of postage. (Old phone now claimed.)
  5. My dad came for a short visit and I managed to schedule him most of a day each with each of his grandchildren, and they all seem to have enjoyed the experience. 
  6. Adventures in smoothie consumption continue: I have discovered that I do actually prefer yogurt + milk with my veggies, rather to my surprise. I have built up a little collection of frozen veg and fruit in the freezer to make prep easier / avoid wasting fresh veg that goes off before I eat it.  The little blender does struggle if more than half the content is frozen, so I've taken to making up a bottle of ingredients in advance and leaving it in the fridge to defrost overnight.
  7. I've managed to get my fitbit goal up to 7,900 steps; we walked both ways to the cinema yesterday (with a stop at Mee and I for dinner on the way out) as well as me taking children around earlier, so I hit double that.  My legs are letting me know this morning that they are Not Impressed.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] stephdairy said something lovely in a comment on one of the medical posts that I wanted to share more widely:

I always wondered what the defining characteristic of the future would be. It's not flying cars, it's not a moon colony, hell it's not even that you have a stonking chance of beating this thing... It's that you have people there even when they're not, that community, caring, and loving can span the globe.

It is so true. My physical world is very small right now (mostly in bed, though with a newly-decorated wall to look at and a reasonable view out of the window).  But my emotional/mental world is wide and sustaining, and I am incredibly grateful.

I have graduated to sitting up and using my laptop for short periods, rather than pecking things out on the phone or tablet.  This is so much nicer

I am more up to short visits now.  [personal profile] ceb is going to help me set up stuff to schedule it, when I get back to her :-)

For now, if you are in the area and want to pop in for a few minutes (on the understanding I might say "sorry, please go away" or be asleep), I am in bed H4 on D6 (it's signposted) and visiting hours are fairly relaxed.  Don't make special visits yet, because of aforementioned random may-be-asleep-or-antisocial.  Ironically I seem most awake first thing in the morning, which is when the staff here are busiest.

And please, please don't come if you have anything at all communicable.  That's probably the most important thing, not just for me, but for everyone on this ward.
rmc28: (destructive)
To senior management at Subway, La Redoute, Confused.com and anyone else whose automated birthday greeting I've yet to receive:

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

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

If I take up the free Subway cookie, presumably they will conclude that this is a successful marketing strategy and keep doing it.  So I think not.
rmc28: (destructive)
Following up my clumsy moment of 3 weeks ago (mostly as a note-to-self):

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

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

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
It is a hudl2 from Tesco; I had done a bit of looking at specs and prices, and played with my m-i-l's first-gen hudl, and was generally convinced it would do what I wanted.  It is cheap, and I had a bunch of clubcard vouchers which made it even cheaper.

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

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

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

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

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

All my future comics purchases will be digital.  Please recommend me ones you like, and good places to get them. I'm set up with Marvel and I know that Comixology exists - is there anything else I should know about out there?
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (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 with manic grin holding up wrist with new watch on (watch)
My smartphone (a Fairphone 1) abruptly started taking an age to charge, and then stopped charging altogether. It is under warranty but needs to be sent off for repair which with their advertised turnarounds means nearly a month by the time I get myself in the vicinity of a post office.

A month without the ability to read one-handed while wrangling children to bed, or my running app: the blood ran cold.

I am grateful to [personal profile] andrewducker who linked to a review of cheap Android smartphones, which meant I was at least aware the possibility of a cheap backup existed. I spent some time Monday morning browsing phone seller websites, then got offered a "live chat" by Phones4U and said "ok, tell me the cheapest SIM-free Android phones you offer, that have at least 4GB of built-in memory and take a standard SIM. MicroSD expansion slot is a would-be-nice." Within a few minutes I had a choice of two, rang up the nearest shop, and by lunchtime I had an Alcatel OneTouch Pop C1 for £50.

It's smaller and feels a lot more cheap-and-plastic than my Fairphone, but it a) works b) has been really easy to set up with email, web, ebooks, Zombies Run, enough of my music to make me happy, and a bunch of other apps that make my life easier.  I'm deliberately only installing things as I want to use them, and I expect once I have my lovely big phone back I'll go back to it.  But this is better than I expected as a backup.

Meanwhile I came home yesterday to find Tony watching some Apple event and contemplating a phone ten times the price of my little ETH.

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
An anonymous commenter asked on one of my Hugo posts "how do you find the time for all the reading?"

Short-and-flippant:
Like anything else, I don't "find" time for it, I set aside time for it, I make it a habit, and I do it at the expense of other things I could be doing.

I can't remember not being able to read; my mother taught me well before I went to school.  I can't really remember a time where I wouldn't read every minute I could.  I read in bites, in snacks, in meals and occasionally in great long gorging feasts that usually leave me bloated and in need of a good walk.

So my set-aside habits: I usually read in bed before sleeping.  I often read over my meals, if I'm eating alone or with someone else who wants to read too.  If I wake early, I read in the morning before getting up.  I read while breastfeeding.  I read while supervising bathtime, and while settling my toddler to sleep.  Sometimes I fall asleep too, and wake several hours later, still dressed and with my phone or my book dropped haphazardly somewhere silly.

I read in my leisure time at the weekend, while the children play or watch TV or are looked after by someone not-me.

I read at the expense of other things: I don't watch much TV, I don't go out a lot, I'm currently not studying.  When I first started studying with the OU, back in 2011, I hardly read a book for months.  Study pushed reading out.  Right now, life has pushed studying out and reading seems to have crept back in.

Smartphones and ebooks have made a huge difference to what I read as well as when.  With my first child, I did very little reading, because turning the pages of a paperback one-handed while breastfeeding is hard.  With my second child, I read on my phone.  I read blogs, I read fanfic, I read ebooks, I read random webpages linked to from blogs, I read the Economist and the FT.  My phone lets me take huge amounts of reading material everywhere with me, and it's easy to read in a few minutes here, a few there.  Some things work well read this way, others really don't.

I can't read hardbacks because they set off my RSI unpleasantly.  I read paperbacks from the library and my to-read pile, but I can't read them one-handed.  I have a paperback pile by my bed and by the chair I use most often in the living room, and sometimes I take a book to work to read over my lunch. 

I think also I read faster than average.  Not as fast as some of my friends, but definitely faster than average.  In the context of a discussion on adults reading "trashy" books, I saw several people assert that this mattered more than watching "trashy" films "because it takes so much longer to read a book than watch a film".  I can read a teenage school story in under an hour.  I think I read most standard-sized books in 2-3 hours.  I got the impression this was not typical.

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rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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