New glasses!

Dec. 3rd, 2016 06:16 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
My brain is definitely still adjusting to the correction. I was highly distracted at collection by the way everything around me was Suddenly Much Sharper, and also Bent Slightly Wrong. My proprioception is a bit off still: on my walk home I began to feel as though I was about a foot shorter than usual, and stopped a couple of times to touch things for reassurance. Even now (some hours later) my laptop screen appears to be a trapezium rather than a rectangle. I am assured this will pass in time ...

A couple of obligatory phone selfies behind the cut (which also showcase my luxuriant wavy hair)

Read more... )

Extraordinary women

Dec. 2nd, 2016 11:48 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
My kid sister sets off today on this expedition to Antarctica.

I am so proud I could burst.

Anticipation

Dec. 1st, 2016 03:58 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(Responding to a prompt from [personal profile] sfred)

I find myself extremely polaraised by anticipation. When I really want something and am not sure whether I'm going to get it or not I am /terrible/ at waiting to find out. I get anxious and miserable and irrational and can't think about anything else and catastrophise and act in ways that make me less likely to get it. It's no fun at all.

When I'm waiting for something that I know is coming it can go one of two ways. When it's something that not having is making me unhappy I mostly try not to think about it and get on with things, which works okay until it gets close, and then suddenly a switch flicks and the last few days or weeks become unbearable.

When it's something that I'm fine without, but having will be shiny and glorious and extra, then the anticipation becomes a joy in and of itself. I daydream and I plan and I sing to myself inside my head, and I get almost as much pleasure out of this process as I do out of the thing in itself.

Mini book reviews

Nov. 30th, 2016 11:21 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(This wasn't prompted, and I've only got one in the pipeline, so more prompts/questions very much appreciated.)

Sandman - Neil Gaiman
I definitely thought I’d read all of this before, but one of the volumes, “A Game of You” was the book for the Northampton queer book club a couple of months ago, so I decided to re-read the whole series, and realised that actually I’d only gotten part way through it previously. I didn’t go to the book club in the end, but I’m quite glad it prompted me to pick it up again. As I was reading it felt less coherent than I remember it being, but once I actually got to the end a lot of things seemed to fit into place, and I was quite tempted to go straight back to the beginning and reread it to see how different it felt knowing how it all fitted together. I think I found various of the supporting cast rather more interesting than the Endless themselves, but that’s mostly praise of the former than criticism of the latter. There’s an impressive array of emotional notes, and I both laughed aloud and wept quietly as I read. I think the only thing I didn’t like was Desire’s arc, but I’m not sure how it could be changed to something that I was happier with whilst leaving the rest of the stories intact. There were other books and also pianos grabbing my attention, so I didn’t actually re-read it immediately, but I am looking forward to stepping back into it soon.

On Liberty - John Stuart Mill
I started reading this a few times and kept getting distracted and having to restart so I could have the whole thing in my head at once. I was less impressed by it than I expected to be - the core idea (“That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant . . . Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”) is excellent and important, but I felt that his treatment of the difficult cases of where the boundaries of power lie, and what constitutes harm to others (particularly in the case of harm by inaction) was quite weak, and that since it’s generally around those edge cases that people disagree, the value of the book is a bit limited nowadays. Having said that, I imagine that at the time of writing, there was a lot more disagreement with the core idea, and it’s good to see the history of the ideas which we take as read now. Another criticism is that it suffers from wearing the benevolent racism of its time quite unashamedly, so I’d recommend against reading it if that’s something you’d find upsetting.

I continue in good health

Nov. 29th, 2016 12:06 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
I saw my consultant again today.  She is pleased with me, says not to worry about my recent run of colds "there's just a lot of nasty things circulating, and your bloodwork is completely normal" and is giving me six months this time before seeing her again. She reminded me as always that I can always call the department if I am worried.  I told them that I still remember very clearly what it was like getting ill in the first place, and I certainly will get in touch if I think it is happening again.  After all, my confidence in my knowledge of my own body has been borne out, if not in the happiest of ways! 

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.

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast

Nov. 29th, 2016 10:14 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
[personal profile] nou promted me to write a post about eggs. (More prompts and questions gratefully recieved!) I'm sure there are much cleverer interpretative spins one could put on that prompt, but I'm just going to use it as an excuse to tell you about my favourite cookbook, and one of the best recipes from that book.

[livejournal.com profile] sashagoblin gave me a copy of Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast for Christmas a few years ago, and since then I think I've given half a dozen copies of it to other people. It's already covered in the splashes and stains that you know mean a recipe book is well loved. It's got a really wide variety of types of food, all with really distinctive flavours and textures and styles. I've not made a single thing from it that wasn't delicious.

One of the first recipes I cooked from it, and probably the one I revisit the most often, is the Goan Egg Balchao. I adjust the recipe slightly, using half as many tomatoes again as suggested, whilst keeping other ingredients constant, but follow the method to the letter. I've sometimes been a bit sceptical about eggs in curries, but it works really well here. The eggs are boiled until the yolks are just starting to set, but still have some gooey softness to them, and the sauce is rich and intense, full of sharp and sweet and umami and just enough heat to bite without overwhelming. It's more time-consuming to make than some very simple curries, as the sauce has to be reduced and darkened and then diluted and reduced again in order to really bring out the flavours, but if everything comes together well you can get it to the plate in a little under an hour, and is very much worth the wait.
reddragdiva: (stress relief)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

Went down pub last night with a laptop with a book on it. Much help right there and then. I can see people getting into this.

I have the unlicked lump of words ready to send out to beta readers. If you would like to participate, please email me, dgerard@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a link to the .odt and .docx of the rough drafts.

(This is not the prerelease review version, it's the "how am I doing" version ... we'll see how it goes.)

There's more excerpts up if you want tasters: http://davidgerard.co.uk/blockchain/

wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(This wasn't prompted, but I could really do with some more prompts/questions if I'm going to be successful in writing more here during Advent! Help me out, or I'll think you don't want to hear from me!)

Last weekend I went to EAGxOxford, the largest Effective Altruism conference in Europe to date. I had a really interesting time, learned a lot, changed my mind about things, and came away with a bunch of concrete things on my to-do list, many of which I’ve already actually done or started doing.

Friday afternoon/evening
I got to Oxford a bit too late to get to the only pre-conference session I was interested in, but early enough to have time to kill, so met up with a couple of old acquaintances for coffee, which was really nice, and I think helped shift me into feeling sociable in a less stressful way than jumping straight into networking with strangers. Speaking of which, the first hour or so of the conference was a drinks reception; that definitely was stressful, but I managed to chat to a few people and have enjoyable conversations, although nothing that really stuck in my mind. Afterwards there was an opening talk, with Toby Ord and Will MacAskill giving a fairly high-level introduction to the ideas and the history of the EA movement. Most of this was fairly familiar to me, but Toby gave a really interesting tour through historical ideas that have contributed to or inspired the development of the movement. After this session people decamped to pubs around Oxford, but I had already reached my limit of unstructured-socialising-with-strangers energy, so I called it a night and went to my B&B.

Saturday morning
The morning could have started better, as the shower in my room wouldn’t run hot, but at least I was very much awake by the time I set off! Whilst looking for somewhere to attend Mass on the Sunday I had realised that I was just down the road from St Stephen’s House, and they have a daily house mass, so I went there on my way in. It was a lovely simple service, and brought back fond memories of worshipping and Pusey House, which has a very similar setting.

The first session of the day was the keynote lecture by Owen Cotton-Barratt. There was a moment of “Oh God, everyone’s so young! I’m so old!” but anyway… The lecture was entitled “Prospecting for Gold - Techniques for finding high-value opportunities”. Much like the introduction the previous evening, quite a lot of the material was stuff that I was already familiar with, but it was presented in an engaging way that I think might be helpful for me to think about when I’m trying to share my enthusiasm for EA more widely. There were a couple of ideas that were either new to me, or an important reminder of something I’ve not paid enough attention to. The main example of the latter being the need to think about marginal as well as absolute priority when selecting causes, and the former being the application of the principle of comparative advantage across people living in different times, rather than different places, or with different personal talents.
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Thanks to [personal profile] emperor for this prompt. (More prompts and questions gratefully received here)

I think there are at least three distinct reasons people get grumpy about secular Christmas during Advent, and teasing them apart is the first step in answering the question. Firstly there’s the sense that there is a right and a wrong way to do Christmas, and people celebrating it now are doing it Wrong™, which is even more irritating in real life than on the internet. Secondly there’s the practical annoyance of being invited to lots of parties with delicious foods and drinks that you’ve given up as part of your Advent fast, and finally there’s the emotional disconnect of being surrounded by people celebrating and feasting at a time when you’re observing a penitential season.

The first is probably the easiest to address, and is pretty much covered by the specific phrase of “secular Christmas”. I think that as long as you acknowledge that secular Christmas is mostly a separate thing, which just happens to share the same name due to historical accident, it becomes relatively easy to put this irritation to bed.

The practical annoyance can be addressed in one of two ways - either by adopting Advent disciplines which don’t tend to have much impact on parties, or by viewing the challenge of forgoing elements of the celebrations as an important part of the fast. I think that avoiding this annoyance is not a good reason to choose other disciplines, and that some prayerful self-examination into ones motivation is a good idea, but I personally find that giving up Facebook is a far more powerful way of turning myself towards God than fasting from particular foods and drinks would be in any case (and also doesn’t have the same risks of poking the sleeping monster.)

The emotional disconnect is probably the least tractable, and I’m not sure that I have any good answers apart from prayer, but I’d be interested to hear suggestions from anyone else who’s wrestled with this.

Advent writing prompts?

Nov. 26th, 2016 04:42 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
As is at least somewhat traditional around these parts, I'm going to be trying to write more dreamjournal over Advent, and although I've got a couple of posts planned already, questions and writing prompts would be very welcome.

Glasses update

Nov. 26th, 2016 04:34 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
I went for my eye test yesterday, and confirmed that my prescription has changed a small but measurable amount since the previous test in February.  I then shopped around a bit for frames, and ended up ordering 2 cheap frames from Specsavers.  One with antireflective coating and one without.  I pick them up next Saturday, so there will probably be some photos then ...

(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.)

It's my birthday, precious

Nov. 24th, 2016 08:09 pm
damerell: (music)
[personal profile] damerell
It's my birthday on Sunday and I'll be in London. I'm going to see _Pretentious Moi?_ [1] at Nambucca in London on Saturday and in the Pembury Tavern in Hackney from about 3pm on Sunday.

[1] Some of their stuff is on Youtube, Soundclod, etc. They're "modern trad", if one can use such an expression.

Shaun in the City

Nov. 23rd, 2016 05:43 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Last summer in Bristol, we found 38 of the 70 sheep placed on trails around the city. I am now decommissioning the user account on which we ran the app to record which sheep we found, so I'm transcribing for long-term reference (and reminding myself of all the puns). I'm linking to the official page about each sheep. At some future date I may actually sort out the memory card full of photos of children posing by each and every sheep we found, but this will do for now.
38 sheep )

Seasonal greetings cards

Nov. 23rd, 2016 12:13 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
If you would like a seasonal greeting card from me, and you think I might not have your current postal address, please comment below (all comments screened). 
  • 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.

I fought the Crawl, part the third

Nov. 22nd, 2016 02:28 pm
damerell: (POWDER)
[personal profile] damerell
I realise about three of you care about Crawl victory posts, so I'm going to set up a custom fiends group to filter these. Let me know if you'd like to be on it.

Demigod fighter )