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Aug. 2nd, 2015 11:59 am
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Tony and I will be in Bristol next week with the children.  We know about Shaun in the City and we're probably going to visit the Zoo.  We would welcome recommendations of places to eat and things not to miss, suitable for including an 8 year old and a 3 year old.

Saturday date

Aug. 2nd, 2015 12:29 am
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
We went to see an early showing of Hot Pursuit, which has Reese Witherspoon as the by-the-book cop escorting criminal witness Sofia Vergara to testify against a drug kingpin.  Things go wrong, and they don't get on, but have to work together to survive.

It is not a surprising film: it hits the mismatched-partnership comedy-movie beats you would expect, but it is done very well and is frequently very funny.  Although it gets a bit cringeworthy in places, it stayed on the right side of unbearable for me.   It reminded me a bit of The Heat which is also a police comedy hitting well-known beats but with women in the lead roles.

Witherspoon is awesome as Cooper, who is small and fearsome and takes everything very literally, and was apparently raised by a single-dad cop who carried her around in the back of his patrol car all day (which is in the opening few minutes of the film , and was ringing my "possible child endangerment" alarms.  Spoiler: the child is not harmed.)  What I particularly liked is the daddy issues are only briefly referenced after that - they've been established, we spend very little time dwelling on them.

I also liked how they had fun with the physical contrast between the two women, and with stereotypes and perception.  It is not a Serious or Life Changing movie, but it was a lot of fun.  (I note that Rotten Tomatoes et all seem to wildly disagree with me and hate it.  Oh well.)

We then wandered into town deciding where to eat, and I said flippantly "Isn't there some new foodie/hipster place we haven't tried yet?" and Tony laughed and then said "Yeah, actually there is!" and so we ate at Butch Annie's.  We had delicious burgers which we ate quickly - it's not really a place for lingering over the meal, but the food was very tasty indeed.  (And I checked about the tips if I pay by card, and the server gets them, once a month.)

So we then stopped into the refurbished and renamed Architect on the way home and had a pleasant hour or two alternately talking with each other or tweeting or reading, and eventually toddled home at closing time.

(where we discovered Nicholas was wide awake and ready for Toddler Midnight Party, happy joy)

Site selection vote also done

Aug. 1st, 2015 01:11 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
It's too late now to vote for the Hugos. But if you have a membership of Sasquan you can buy a vote for the 2017 Worldcon. It is somewhat faffy: [personal profile] ceb has clear instructions here and it took me something over an hour (including time to wrestle with a printer and a scanner and email) to get mine and [livejournal.com profile] fanf's done and emailed off.  (Yes, Tony voted and signed independently but it's really not much more work to wrangle two ballot papers than one, so I did that part.  Also it turns out we are in complete agreement in our ranking of possible sites, which amused me.)


The deadline for site selection is 24:00 PDT on Monday 10th August 2015.

Six short stories

Aug. 1st, 2015 12:12 am
rmc28: (books2010)
[personal profile] rmc28
Almost like a reward for getting through the Hugo voting, Kameron Hurley posted her second story funded by Patreon, which handily completed another set of six stories for me:

The Judgement of Gods and Monsters is a thoughtful story about how a society creates the balance between being fully peaceful in peacetime, and being able to defend itself in wartime; how it deals after the war with those who committed violence within it.

I like the main plot of the story, but I also like how some of the background details (family structures, command structures, current technology) are not like the current white Western default, which builds the sense of this being a different place very effectively.


Archana and Chandni by Iona Sharma
Indian wedding … in space! I loved it, from the convincing portrayal of enduring culture into the future, to the spaceship sibling, to the wedding couple and the feeling of family. Just lovely. I have to thank [twitter.com profile] karaspita who linked to it. (and now I have Yet Another source of short fiction to fail to keep up with, yay!)


Alnwick by Iona Sharma
Also brought to my attention by [twitter.com profile] karaspita; this time about a bureaucrat in a British space program getting called out of a tedious party to respond to an accident affecting one of the key staff. I really like how the characters and the background culture feel completely real and believable, and the overall feeling is optimistic.

(and at this point I looked up the author’s website, realised that Nine Thousand Hours which I wrote about last time is also by Iona Sharma and think maybe I rather like this author?)


Noise Pollution by Alison Wingus
I really like the worldbuilding this story, where music is magic and there’s evil/chaotic noise that has to be fended off with singing, or at least a walkman playing some good music. Lots of fun. (and oh hey the author also writes comics)


The Totally Secret Origin of Foxman: Excerpts from an EPIC Autobiography by Kelly McCullough
It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: another variant on the superhero origin story, complete with former friend/nemesis and unexplained arrival of powers, but done well and interesting me enough to stick the imminent novel-in-the-same-universe on my wishlist.


Kin, Painted by Penny Stirling
I read this because the accompanying artwork was by Mia, whose work I adore. I’m often find highly stylised writing puts me off, if I’m noticing the style more than the story, but I think here the style and the story work together well and I enjoyed reading this, and admiring how Mia’s painting fits it so well.

(And Lackingtons looks interesting, if by its focus on stylistic writing, somewhat outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have enough short story publishers to keep up with, clearly!)


rmc28: (books2010)
[personal profile] rmc28
You totally wanted 2000 words of my voting choices and reasoning, written as I went along, yes? In case you didn't, I cut it.

I do rather resent that the racist misogynistic political campaigns calling themselves Sad/Rabid Puppies drained a lot of my pleasure and enthusiasm for Hugo-voting this year, so I fell back on bad habits of being deadline-driven. However I think I’ve managed to look at and form opinions in more categories this year than I ever have before.
Read more... )

Life/diary notes

Jul. 27th, 2015 11:26 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
(Maybe I’ll expand on these at some point, but on past experience probably not)

Acoustic Festival of Britain in June: I met [personal profile] jae  and really liked her! I saw Show of Hands with her! I enjoyed listening to live music and also a night and a day responsible to none but myself. I was really impressed with young Welsh singer Kizzy Crawford. I also realised I really don’t enjoy long-distance driving any more, but I did at least have the audiobook of Ancillary Sword to keep me going.

Read more... )

We had a nice minibreak in Kew

Jul. 26th, 2015 06:23 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Thursday we travelled down, dropped stuff in the hotel, and caught a bus to the far side of the Gardens to walk back through them; we very deliberately stayed outside of glasshouses and mostly in less-busy areas, and finished up with time for a good half hour or more in the play area before closing.

Friday it rained a lot. I got in a bit of time with the children at a nearby playground before the rain really got started, and then we went to the Musical Museum shortly after it opened at 11.  We enjoyed the tour of their musical automata, and the performance by the resident organist on the Wurlitzer over our lunch, although both children got a bit bored at different times.  It's a nice little museum and well worth a visit.

We then ambled a bit further along the road and enjoyed the London Museum of Water and Steam, which was much more noticeably child-friendly, and also full of fascinating exhibits, and many rooms and staircases and ramps.  Charles was really into the various hands-on pumps, Nico was mostly into exploring every room and staircase and ramp.  We had foursies there and when it closed, made the very damp dash back to our hotel.  When the rain died down a bit, Nico and I ventured out on a mission to find me a spare pair of trousers (unsuccessful) and food for supper (successful).

Saturday morning we returned to the playground and then to Water and Steam.  The latter had various engines in steam over the day, and the tiny on-site railway had a little train running on it, more or less on demand.  We dragged ourselves away after lunch, and had a fairly tedious journey back across London and home to Cambridge where we all more or less went flop.

I did take some photos on both my phone and my little point-and-shoot camera, and at some point I may post my favourites, but sorting them out is another chore ...
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
We're on a  minibreak for the start of the summer holidays and ate lunch at a chain restaurant, and had an illuminating chat with the waitress about tips and how they get allocated, which prompted more discussion later because C had questions.

And I hate the culture of tipping for food service. I hate that collectively we're ok with poorly paid food service staff and "having" to tip. I hate that almost nowhere I might want to eat out is transparent about staff pay or how tips are divided among staff, but opting out of this secretive game is massively socially disapproved (and of course does screw over the individual server).

And [livejournal.com profile] fanf said it ought to be publicly displayed like hygiene ratings are, and I said YES and tweeted about it a bit.

So my idea is a banding rating, 3 would be enough to start with:
  • at least minimum wage
  • at least living wage
  • at least 10% above living wage.

Plus a tip policy:
  • no tips
  • tips to server
  • tips distributed to all staff
% of tips retained by business for any reason

This standard info should be in the window and ideally on the menu and the website too. Who do I need to convince to campaign for this?

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Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at CoreOS. Member of the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board and the Free Software Foundation board of directors. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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