Tragedy on Everest

Apr. 23rd, 2014 08:12 pm
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[personal profile] puzzlement
People here may remember that during 2012 I was regularly posting pictures of Everest (Sagarmatha/Chomolungma) and its 2012 climbing season as a metaphor for the final push to finish my PhD.

I doubt I'll ever so much as see the mountain, but nevertheless having appropriated it as a metaphor for my own decidedly non-life threatening and unrelated personal enterprise, I acknowledge and mourn the deaths of 16 men on April 18:

Mingma Nuru Sherpa
Dorji Sherpa
Ang Tshiri Sherpa
Nima Sherpa
Phurba Ongyal Sherpa
Lakpa Tenjing Sherpa
Chhiring Ongchu Sherpa
Dorjee Khatri
Then Dorjee Sherpa
Phur Temba Sherpa
Pasang Karma Sherpa
Asman Tamang
Tenzing Chottar Sherpa
Ankaji Sherpa
Pem Tenji Sherpa
Ash Bahadur Gurung

(Per Nepali report and Alan Arnette.)

China Tibet Himalaya
Photo by Bernard Goldbach

More from synedochic and Jon Krakauer.


Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:23 am
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[personal profile] rmc28
My new nephew is actually called Edward, and my brother-in-law sent us some photos, which instantly eased my mind. Edward looks very tiny and adorable in that not-quite-finished-baking way that early babies have, and is apparently doing very well (strong, good lungs) but will need some time in an incubator.  I haven't spoken to his mum yet, but b-i-l and m-i-l report her recovering well too.

The photos also show the new parents doing kangaroo care, which I'm taking as a good sign both for baby and of the hospital knowing what they're doing.  No idea yet when they will make it back to the UK.   I was putting aside new-baby things to post up to them in preparation for the birth ... going to hold off on that until we know more.
rmc28: (books2010)
[personal profile] rmc28
Battle for Bittora is the second book by Anuja Chauhan and I enjoyed it even more than The Zoya Factor.  First because I am a much bigger fan of politics than I am of cricket, and second because I think the writing and plotting have both improved. 

Jinni is a computer animator, designing cartoon germs for toilet cleaner adverts.  She is also the granddaughter of two famous politicians, and when her grandmother comes to ask her to come and campaign for the parliamentary elections, Jinni finds it hard to refuse.

"Oh, I do realise, being grown up now, that it is gruelling and chaotic and horribly stressful, and hearbreaking and possibly heart-attack inducing.  But I also know that the only thing worse than taking part in a Lok Sabha election is not taking part in a Lok Sabha election."

Yep, that sounds familiar. 

Jinni agrees to go and help campaign for her grandmother Pushpa Pande, but then discovers that the party top management want her to fight the seat instead.  And her opponent will be her childhood best friend Zain, descended from the area's former royal family.

What follows is a gripping account of an Indian election campaign.  Now, my knowledge of Indian politics is what I have picked up from reading the Economist.  Even so, I recognise the two very thinly-veiled parties that Jinni and Zain represent.   Some parts of campaigning are familiar to my UK experience (door-knocking, public meetings, attending important local events, dealing with the press, the importance of polling, the need to know where a toilet is at all times) and some are startlingly different (the constituency size, the length of journeys, the atmosphere of meetings, the number of parties, the grinding poverty, the importance of caste, the bribery and financial irregularity). 

The contest between Zain and Jinni rather pointedly puts inherited privilege of one kind (former royal family) up against another (political family).   One of Jinni's support team, Munni, is clearly the better politician - but from a poor family without a famous grandmother, and she rightly gets furious when Jinni makes a big mistake that may waste most of Munni's (and Pushpa's) efforts.  Jinni's friend from work, Rumi, drops in and draws attention to the "poverty tourism" side of Jinni just dropping in on this rural state from her nice job in the capital.  Jinni herself means well, but all too often gets caught up in the Need To Win, though she does also start asking awkward questions, and in one case take personal direct action against something awful.

Overall I do appreciate the way the book sets up stereotypes and then shows It's More Complicated Than That, and does it all with the same humour and exuberance as I loved in The Zoya Factor.  And I would love to see the Enforcer 49 comics, as drawn and written by teenage Zain and Jinni. 

Especially touching is the photograph in the end of the author's notes at the back, of her real-life relatives who inspired the story, the first couple to be elected to India's parliament.

I remain indebted to [personal profile] deepad for introducing me to Anuja Chauhan, and to her Anuja Chauhan Reading Club for the opportunity to read Battle for Bittora.

On the other side

Apr. 21st, 2014 07:50 am
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[personal profile] rmc28
We got a phone call yesterday evening to say that my sister-in-law Lucy had gone into labour.  7 weeks early and while on holiday visiting her dad in France.  They'd got her to hospital in Dijon (which is *not* a trivial journey from where they were staying) and though obviously it was early, the hospital is a good university hospital, and she had family with her.

So we couldn't do much but wait and try not to worry too much.  Dijon is at least 7 hours from here, however one travels, and Lucy is well-provided with people to support her.

In the early hours I got another call, to say that my nibling was safely arrived ("born crying") and all seemed to be well, at least for now.

Meanwhile my two woke me at their usual horribly early hour, and N has a cough and C has school tomorrow.  We await a name for their new cousin, but in the meantime Mustard seems an appropriate nickname.

This little piggy joined the gym

Apr. 19th, 2014 04:50 pm
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[personal profile] rmc28
Specifically, the new University Sports Centre, which is conveniently located about 5 minutes' cycle ride from my office.  It has a gym with lots of machines, a big free weights room, and a big sports hall.  I've joined on the staff-discounted lowest-rate membership, which gives me entry to the gym from 8am-4pm weekdays and 8am-8pm weekends. I'm pleased to find the centre uses my university card for entry and also for locking/unlocking lockers in the changing rooms.

My plan is to replace my lunchtime runs with a short hard session on the cardio equipment, and my long weekend runs with long easier sessions ditto.  (From Tony's point of view, me cycling off for an hour or two in the gym is not any different to me disappearing on foot for a long run.)

Yesterday afternoon, which had been planned as a long run, I went over and tried out different cardio equipment:
Notes for my reference ) 

Link soup

Apr. 16th, 2014 08:30 pm
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[personal profile] rmc28
Haven't done one of these for a while, but it's always fun (and will reduce the number of tabs I have open)

Captain America: Winter Soldier
We went away on holiday just after the film opened in North America, and the great outpouring of fannish response happened.

So, there was [personal profile] musesfool posting after seeing an early preview in New York: and [personal profile] selenak who posted after seeing it in Germany shortly after I saw it in the UK:

Two different long thoughtful pieces on the politics of the film:

A links roundup so I don't have to (which includes a link to [personal profile] coffeeandink 's links roundup):
A couple of fic-rec posts: (also includes review/meta) and


Changes in the population / behaviour of people in public space (in New York) between the 1950s and now (a couple of months old, but I looked it up for someone else this week, so may as well mention it again).

Unisex toiletries aimed at the teenage market (which for sure needs it): Once I've caught up my accounts, I'm seriously tempted to see if I can afford some of these pour encourager l'auteur

A lovely poem (The Sciences Sing a Lullabye, by Albert Goldbarth):

This little piggy turned purple

Apr. 16th, 2014 02:53 pm
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[personal profile] rmc28
The broken toe is very colourful today. The full impact of yesterday morning's clumsiness is beginning to sink in.  Google autocompletes "running with a broken toe" awfully quickly, and the results generally indicate Do Not Do This.

No neolithic half-marathon on 4th May.  Probably no meeting up with my dad that weekend either.  More of a question mark over Flaming June half marathon on 1st June as that's 6.5 weeks away.  No lunchtime runs in the spring sunshine.  I had just got to the point of running 3 short and 1 long each week comfortably.  (Zombies Run 3 is now confirmed to release tomorrow.  Bah, etc.)  Six weeks of sitting with my foot up is going to put me how far back in my fitness?

I can cycle without it hurting, if I tape the toe up, so at least I can still do my daily commute / childcare runs.

I am investigating the university sports centre, which is about 5 minutes' bike from my office.  If I can do some lunchtime & weekend cardio work that doesn't hurt the toe (elliptic? rowing? bike machine?), I might keep up enough fitness while the toe heals so the June half marathon is still possible.  In any case it might help my mood; chronic pain + lack of runs to work off stress => grouchy Rachel

This little piggy needed strapping

Apr. 15th, 2014 08:11 pm
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[personal profile] rmc28
I bashed the little toe on my right foot this morning by walking into my own bedroom furniture (I have form for this).  From its state this evening I suspect I broke it.  NHS Choices assures me that there is little to be done but strap it up and wait for it to get better.  I am supposed to be running another half-marathon in 2.5 weeks, and doing a long training run this weekend.  Humph.

To cheer myself up, three good things:
  1. ALL THE BLOSSOM.  There are multiple trees in blossom outside the window of my office.  SO LOVELY.
  2. I actually used "On your left!" appropriately while cycling past a pedestrian on one of the shared-use paths on my commute.  Then I felt terribly self-conscious.  But I will probably do it again when appropriate, because it makes me giggle inside.
  3. The children are being lovely: Nico is using "Dada" and "Mama" consistently, and Charles is being very solicitous while I sit with my foot appropriately raised.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
We got back yesterday evening from a pleasant six days visiting Tony's father in France, leaving the house in charge of Jonny and our latest lodger.  While we were gone, the lodger managed to overcook something in the microwave to the point of filling the kitchen with smoke and setting off the smoke alarms (as observed by J).  Jonny has done the obvious: cleaned the microwave inside, opened windows to set up a through-draught for a few hours yesterday, but the house is still rather fragrant with eau de char.

Any suggestions other than the obvious (giving the microwave another really thorough cleaning, keeping up the through-draughts until morale improves)?


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Nebula. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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