- 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
(The first three items were from the local charity shop, which I sloped off to while he was in class, which is possibly cheating.)
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 ...
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).
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?
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
I found some helpful eligibility posts from:
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 by Clipping. 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.
 which I find glorious just for existing and letting me say that phrase
 1/3 of Clipping is Daveed Diggs, who played Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton
( my nominations )
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.
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 ...
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
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.
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
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.
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-
- 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
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.)
I got fanf , 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!
I love In Our Time. I love that it features people discussing things without confected argument based on artificially polarised opinions. https://t.co/cL9mUGKSy2— Rafael Behr (@rafaelbehr) February 9, 2017
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).
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 ....
3 short works by Rebecca Fraimow, consisting of:
- 2 very funny short stories dealing with the supernatural with some characters in common:
- 1 novella about immortality, trade routes and unexpected long-term consequences. Very different in both setting and feel to the previous two; also highly recommended. Suradanna and the Sea
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.
Just the Dessa Lux. (The Spider-Man doesn't count because it's not mine.)
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.]
They say revenge is best served Cold. They also say revenge is sweet.— Heather Antos (@HeatherAntos) December 31, 2016
Guys...Revenge is ice cream.
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.
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.)
- 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)
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.
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. 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 Sudžuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
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?"
"How about opening your presents?"
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.
A couple of obligatory phone selfies behind the cut (which also showcase my luxuriant wavy hair)
( Read more... )
Bone marrow samples will continue at 3-monthly intervals until three years after "end-of-therapy". We are now at 11 months after end-of-therapy, so nearly 1/3 of the way there. I asked if I was right to assume that they would call me if there was anything to be concerned about in the bone marrow samples, rather than waiting for my next appointment, and she confirmed that this is the case.
(For future reference: I have since learned that Boots offer a 25% student discount, which along with their providing antireflective coatings by default probably tips the price balance their way for next time.)
( 38 sheep )
- If you didn't get a card from me last year, that is a pretty good indication I don't have your address.
- If you would like a card but can't leave a comment, my email address is in my profile and you are welcome to drop me an email with your address.
- Most of my cards are generic Seasons Greetings; if you would particularly like / particularly object to a card with a religious greeting, please let me know in your comment/email.
Meanwhile at home and in studying I am behind on everything, so they're both heading into constantly-firefighting territory too. Argh. On the other hand I'm just about getting enough sleep again, and I'm having that lovely feeling of wellbeing that comes once one is fully over a cold, and I remembered to get some vitamin D supplements for this winter.
Three things that amused me recently:
1. Nico knows about high fives, and high tens, but this week he offered me a fist bump and said "High Zero!"
2. The romance novel genre has many many subgenres: regency, shapeshifters, billionaires, SEALs, shapeshifter SEALs, werewolf marines, etc. This week my kindle app offered me "Billionaire Aviators" which tickled me immensely (and reminded me obviously of Top Gun, which I watched at a very impressionable age).
3. We had a team-building thingy at work where we had to anonymously write down something about ourselves and the team had to guess in turn which person had written which thing. The trouble with this is finding a Thing that isn't really obviously me AND that I'm happy to disclose at work. I gave up on being hard to guess and just wrote "My favourite superhero is the Hulk". Surprisingly few people guessed right, several more were like "of course! how did I not guess you!", and then I looked down and realised I was wearing Hulk socks.
I think I am less shocked and upset than I was by the Brexit result in June, but more scared. In June, I found it extremely helpful to follow my usual routine: take care of the children, go to work, fix things. My studying went off a cliff though, perhaps because it didn't immediately affect anyone but me, unlike my work and home obligations. Luckily the module concerned wasn't one I needed to do more than pass, so handing in one duff assignment didn't matter too much (and no, I wasn't going to ask for an extension or accommodation for "I am deeply upset by Brexit").
"Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on." For me that means sticking to my ongoing efforts to recover my health and effectiveness, take care of my family and finish my degree. Do the job in front of me, as best I can, and (re)build my capacity to do more in the long term.
Dance classes plural were because Nico took a trial tap class after his existing ballet class. He was a bit reluctant to go in, so I sat in the studio with him (with the teacher's permission). He joined in a bit and then came back to me and said tap was great but he couldn't join in again until he had his own tap shoes that fit properly. I rewarded this excellent negotiation with a trip to the dancewear store and the entire tap class uniform, not just the shoes.
The dance school is on the top 1.5 floors of a 3-storey building on our nearest main road. The dancewear store takes up the other half-floor, and on the ground floor is a cafe and a paint/wallpaper store. All the businesses are independent, but being a student at the school gets a 10% discount on dancewear, and (I discovered yesterday), spending money in the dancewear store gets us a 10% discount in the cafe. That made me smile.
I am actually pretty excited for Moana anyway, but I got even more so with what's implied by the lyrics here:
"I wish I could be the perfect daughter, but I come back to the water ...
I can lead with pride, I can make us strong ... but the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?"
a. family expectations vs individual wishes is my jam
b. she's expected to be the next leader (contrast with Brave, and Merida merely expected to elevate the next leader by marriage)
Also I just really love this song, it's very earwomy but in a good way, and a completely different feel from Hamilton & In The Heights.
- I will be wearing them for reading and screen work, so the vast majority of my waking time, ahahaha.
- I will have a very low strength prescription, which I think means the available choice will be huge.
 I've had very mild astigmatism in my right eye for years, and it has very slowly been worsening, and it has recently passed the threshold of "I am noticing this and it is annoying me on a daily basis". I am off to the optometrist for an up-to-date eye test and then some glasses. Ah the joys of approaching 40.
- I still have a cough. I've progressed to the point where I am no longer stupid ill with it, I just ... cough a lot. I'm not getting enough sleep as a result, but I'm definitely getting better. Just slowly.
- I went for my quarterly bone marrow sample on Wednesday; it was probably the least-unpleasant experience yet. I got the doctor who is particularly skilled at taking them. I'm pretty certain if there was anything to worry about I'd have had a phone call by now, so I am not worrying.
- The children had half-term off school, and we sent them to holiday club for 3 days and took 2 days as family holiday to Sheffield where the newest and tiniest cousin is. As usual, the highlights of Sheffield for the children were, in order: a) trams b) Ponds Forge swimming pool c) their family (especially tiny cousins).
- I took the children swimming twice in Sheffield. Charles's birthday party earlier in the month was the first time I've been swimming since getting ill, and I had almost forgotten how much I like it. Taking them to Ponds Forge is more walking-around-in-water than swimming, especially as I was solely responsible for non-swimmer Nico, but it was fun anyway.
- Between cough and holiday and sleep deprivation I am behind on everything and have an assignment deadline on Thursday. Essay crisis ahoy!