rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
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)
+ 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 ...
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/674139.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
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

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/673553.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
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)
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)
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
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/671925.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (BRAINS)
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)
"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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Goals
Just tracking ins and outs for now.  Trying for achievable goals, for once!

Ebooks in
  1. The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux
  2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  3. Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
  4. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
  5. The Good Immigrant anthology
  6. Journeys anthology
  7. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
  8. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
  9. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. Roses in Amber by CE Murphy
  11. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  12. Long List Anthology 2 edited by David Steffen
  13. Hidden Memories by Robin Allen
  14. The Truth As He Knows It by A.M. Arthur
  15. The World As He Sees It by A.M. Arthur
  16. The Heart As He Hears It by A.M. Arthur
  17. She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery
  18. Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
  19. From the Ashes by Daisy Harris
  20. Heart of Change by Roxy Harte
  21. Temptation City by Lyric James
  22. Thoroughly Tempted by Lyric James
  23. Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm
  24. Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
  25. Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge
  26. Hooves Above The Waves by Laura Clay
  27. Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2016 anthology
  28. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Ebooks out
  1. The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux
  2. Gambled Away anthology
  3. Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm
  4. Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
  5. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
  6. Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge
  7. Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
  8. Roses in Amber by CE Murphy
  9.  Hooves Above The Waves by Laura Clay
Physical books in
  1. No Secrets: A Visual History of Show of Hands

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

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)
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)
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)
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.

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Rachel Coleman

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