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Dec. 8th, 2016 06:39 pm
bedlamsbard: animals: a cougar standing on a tall rock (girlyb_icons) (a high place (girlyb_icons))
[personal profile] bedlamsbard
So far 2016 has destroyed my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my sense of self-worth, my faith in humanity, and my comfortable assumption that the world won't actually end in the next six months. And there's still three weeks left! Fun.

I did get this master's degree out of it, though, I guess that's something.
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I’m not talking about bad service or food poisoning or poor ambience, I’m not talking the worst KIND of food, I’m talking straight up the worst-tasting single meal you’ve ever put in your mouth and then kept eating.

I’ll start: New Orleans airport, 2015, a Subway meatball sandwich. I can’t even describe to you how terrible it was, there was no single identifiable part that was awful, it was simply a sack of dreadful from the gummy bread to the cold meatballs. Especially since the previous evening I’d eaten amazing boudin at one of the nicest restaurants in the French Quarter. But I was so hungry and my flight was delayed but “boarding any minute” so I couldn’t leave my gate.

IT WAS ALL I HAD. THE SUNCHIPS COULD NOT SAVE ME.

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Walking to Jerusalem | Philip Terman

Dec. 8th, 2016 09:32 pm
[syndicated profile] exceptindreams_feed
“Walking to Jerusalem”
Philip Terman

Pedometer attached to her belt, your mother, spry and strong
at eighty, joins the other Methodist Church members
in calculating the 5,915 miles, no matter the weather, to add up
all the way from Linesville, Pennsylvania to Jerusalem.
They need not worry about miracles or pausing
at the signs of the cross. They need not stop for security
to check their purses for weapons. They need no visa
nor baggage, no money to exchange for shekels, no guide-
book, no guide. They need no ancient tongue or prophecies.
They are, simply, day by day, walking, mile after mile:
the sink to the table, uptown to the post office, down
the block to visit the sick neighbor. Sundays to and from church.
And when they walk far enough, adding up their pedometers
together, they will arrive in Jerusalem. And keep walking.

Film: Moana

Dec. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Reasons for watching it: It had sounded really intriguing from when it first started being talked about, and Ghoti in particular really wanted to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: Ghoti actually managed to find a time when everybody was free, so the whole quad and the younger kids and [livejournal.com profile] fivemack all went to the Light cinema together Sunday afternoon. It was a bit annoying because I had to rush away straight after the film ended to travel back to Keele, and couldn't discuss it with everybody, but still such a great treat!

Verdict: Moana is just delightful!

detailed review )

Cooking for myself

Dec. 8th, 2016 09:38 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
[personal profile] kht asked "What do you like to cook for yourself when you're low on time and energy?".

I'm afraid the answers to this are fairly boring. I don't get nearly as much pleasure out of cooking if it's just for me, so a lot of the time when I'm on my own in the Northampton flat I practically live on fresh filled pasta with a bit of grated parmasan and olive oil, and then fill up on fruit to make sure I'm getting enough vitamins. My other staple is scrambled eggs, which I sometimes add rice wine and soy sauce to, and eat with a croissant, and sometimes do with just salt on pepper, served with marmite covered toast.

When I feel like making a tiny bit more effort I'll make egg-fried rice, which I can throw vegetables into, or I'll make a stew (onions, garlic, various root vegetables, lentils, pearl barley (or buckwheat if I want it to be gluten free), cabbage or other green leafy veg, stock, red wine, dried herbs, spoonful of marmite), which takes about 15 minutes of work, and then just sits and cooks, and makes great leftovers.

Reading Wednesday

Dec. 7th, 2016 07:21 pm
bedlamsbard: miscellaneous: read (bookshelf with text "read") (read (girlyb_icons))
[personal profile] bedlamsbard
What I'm currently reading

I'm on a Barbara Hambly binge, so I'm rereading Dog Wizard -- actually the first or second Hambly book I ever read. (I either read this or Stranger at the Wedding first; I can't remember which since it was a few years ago. I didn't read The Silent Tower or The Silicon Mage until much later, and I don't know if I'll reread them this time, since they're not personal favorites.)

I have to do a book review for one of my PhD apps due next week, so I'm rereading Thinking Tools: Agricultural Slavery Between Evidence and Model by Ulrike Roth, which is a book on Roman slavery that's probably one of the best academic books on the subject I've ever read.

What I've just finished reading

I went on a sudden Barbara Hambly binge, so I ripped through Stranger at the Wedding and Bride of the Rat God (two of my favorites) pretty quickly, along with the novella set in the Rat God 'verse, Castle of Horror. (I desperately want a full-length sequel to Bride of the Rat God! Also another book in the Sisters of the Raven/Circle of the Moon 'verse if we're making requests. Though Barbara Hambly hasn't been writing much fantasy lately, I think?) I also went through Kindred of Darkness, since I had it out from the library. (For some reason that's the only one of the James Asher novels I don't own.)

I've been reading a lot this week, so I also went through the latest Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson book, Fire Touched (forever mildly bewildered those are set in the Tri-Cities, even if Briggs is a local), a reread of Mira Grant's Rolling in the Deep, and Star Wars: Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice by Jason Fry for Rewatch.

What I'm reading next

Probably more Barbara Hambly, given the binge -- I've been itching to go at Sisters of the Raven and Circle of the Moon again, so those are most likely. I do also have some other books out from the library, including some Tamora Pierce (there's weirdly only one Pierce book I don't own, though I own the other two books in that trilogy so I don't know why I never bought Mastiff). I need to read the third SotE book for Rewatch, too, though it was technically on The Schedule for Sunday.

reading wednesday

Dec. 7th, 2016 07:35 pm
watersword: Matt Bomer as Neal Caffery in White Collar (White Collar: big pond)
[personal profile] watersword
The mountain of kept memory / Rachel Neumeier. Neumeier's latest! I am hoping that the heroine's mother's absence is explained very soon.

Bitter greens : a novel / Kate Forsyth. I read this a while back and accidentally took it out again; it reminds me of Jeanette Winterson, in its mostly-successful attempt to fuse fairy tales and historical moments.

Luke on the loose : a Toon book / by Harry Bliss. Got this for my tutee; it's super cute. I suspect a child who love the Pigeon books would ADORE this one.

Breath of Earth / Beth Cato. There is a hell of a lot of infodump in the first chapter and if it doesn't ease off ASAP I am going to have to ragequit.

The Mask of Apollo / Mary Renault. I am charmed by Nikos. I am very very amused by how Renault manages to get him to Every Important Moment in this narrative By Total Happenstance, and yet there are still a lot of events-reported rather than witnessed.

Lord of the changing winds / Rachel Neumeier. I am both side-eying this one and very hopeful, because the heroine seems super Aspie to me, so if Neumeier pulls this off, I will be thrilled. (Also I hope she follows through on how queer the hero is for the king. Because he is SUPER QUEER.)

Oh Dear

Dec. 7th, 2016 05:30 pm
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I'm generally very facile with numbers. Unfortunate degree of utter exhaustion unlocked today: it took me four tries to punch in my conference code correctly for a call I was leading at work.

(Granted, I'd gotten through a full day's work beforehand, including some moderately complex data merging and a number of fiddlely coordinating to-do's in preparation for the call, and the call itself went fine, but that was an unnerving degree of short term memory scrambling - I had it written right in front of me in digit batches of 4-4-2.)

Moon in the Window | Dorianne Laux

Dec. 7th, 2016 09:32 pm
[syndicated profile] exceptindreams_feed
“Moon in the Window”
Dorianne Laux

I wish I could say I was the kind of child
who watched the moon from her window,
would turn toward it and wonder.
I never wondered. I read. Dark signs
that crawled toward the edge of the page.
It took me years to grow a heart
from paper and glue. All I had
was a flashlight, bright as the moon,
a white hole blazing beneath the sheets.

A woman of her time

Dec. 7th, 2016 08:43 pm
hunningham: (Default)
[personal profile] hunningham

I have been reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Naomi Mitchison

This is a historical novel about the Peloponnesian wars, written in the 1920s, and so good & also so relevant that I’m having to stop and gasp for breath occasionally because ALL THE FEELZ. Mitchison is very aware of the faults of Athens, the harm done to colonies and allied cities, abuse of power by demagogues, but she frames the struggle between Sparta and Athens as one between democracy and totalitarianism. Escapism this is not.

Have a taster:

All his life afterwards, when Alxenor remembered that next five minutes, his whole body would tighten, fishes clenched, face twisted up to drive it out. The thought of it would come suddenly into his mind when he was quite happy, in the middle of a party, say; then for a little time he could say nothing to his neighbour, food or wine only sickened him till the memory was beaten back, till he could crush down that self somewhere in his brain which had so silently reminded him. But sometimes, if it came to him in the very early morning, when everything is terribly grey and learn, he would have to think it out, sentence by sentence till he could almost hear his brother’s laughter running int his ears.

Or here, picking a paragraph more or less at random.

And then, in the middle of it all, Hagnon saw in his mind’s eye a little picture of his sister shut up there in her house, sitting disconsolate with her hands in her lap, and her heart closed against him for ever. But that was nonsense after all; and the Agora was real all round him, and freedom had come back to Athens! Only, underneath it all, it was as if he was wearing a rough shirt, or something . . . just a little uncomfortable . . .

Also, if anyone ever starts excusing some ugly attitudes with “man of his time” then I will remember that Naomi Mitchison was a woman of her time and drop her collected works on their feet. There were a lot of works, so it would be a good thud.

December Days: Day 7: For SCIENCE!

Dec. 7th, 2016 04:56 pm
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
[personal profile] nanila
Magnet + iron filings
Photo of a grubby optical table with a piece of chipboard on top of which are two dipole magnets stuck together under a sheet of white paper with iron filings sprinkled on top to show the magnetic field lines. Also on the optical table: a magnetometer, a multimeter, two small magnets, a forming machine and a bean bag. You know, the stuff you usually find on an optical table. Or not.

Anyway, I did this demo for a TV programme today. It's going to be about the end of the Cassini mission, and the segment features my Big Boss, who does all of the talking. I had originally envisioned a sophisticated demonstration involving a magnetometer and an oscilloscope, and instead I ended up sprinkling iron filings on different permutations of magnets for three hours. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ C'est la vie!

Dear brain

Dec. 7th, 2016 11:13 am
watersword: Clint Barton shooting a crossbow as he falls off a building. (Avengers: Clint)
[personal profile] watersword
Why did you feel the need to present me with a dream, fully-plotted, about Clint Barton being brainwashed (again) and dating a Mossad agent? There are so many problems with this scenario I don't even know where to start.

Love and puppies,
me

Mini book reviews

Dec. 7th, 2016 02:30 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
The life-changing magic of tidying up - Marie Kondo
I thought the 'life-changing' nature was overstated, and the scale of the difference it made to the writer is largely a function of the kind of person she is, rather than a generalisable rule. It was also steeped in the privilege of wealth, and I think would be incredibly frustrating to read for someone who doesn't have the disposable income to discard things easily.

That said, I thought the core idea, in which one declutters not by following a set of rules for things to get rid of (e.g. anything I've not used for more than a year goes), but instead having the simple positive rule for what to keep of "does this thing inspire joy", is certainly an interesting perspective. I do plan on having a fairly major declutter after we've moved house, and I suspect it will be somewhat informed by that idea.

The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician & The Master Magician by Charlie Holmberg
I can't remember why I picked these up. It's a trilogy set in a magical version of 19th century London, about a young magician coming into her power. It was diverting enough that I bothered to read the 2nd and 3rd books, but to be honest just barely, and only because I wanted something very low effort to read whilst I was feeling under the weather. It was a fairly standard coming-of-age quest narrative, with some rebellion against the magical authorities of the day. A slightly squicky romantic subplot between the protagonist and her mentor was the only thing that made it more interesting, and not entirely in a good way.

EA Global write up (part two of two)

Dec. 7th, 2016 09:39 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Part one here. (This is unprompted, and I only have a couple of questions in the pipeline, so more very welcome.)

After the keynote, the next couple of sessions I went to were mini-workshops given by the Center for Applied Rationality, each introducing a practical technique to improve your thinking. These were brilliant, and made me really want to go on their full course at some point. The first technique, dubbed Double Crux, was aimed at making discussions with someone you disagree with focus more on finding the truth together than on convincing your interlocutor. This is something I try to do anyway, but having a specific set of practical steps to follow should make me more likely to actually do it. The second workshop introduced an iterative technique to make plans more likely to succeed by imagining that you'd failed and addressing the likely failure modes in advance.

After a break for lunch the next session was a pair of talks, the first of which had the biggest impact on me of anything else at the conference. It was called "Look, Leap or retreat", and the core argument was that when trying to choose between a high probability/low impact or a low probability/high impact proposition, in which your confidence in your assessments of the probabilities is itself low, doing more research is likely to be higher value than choosing either immediately. Based on this I've been doing a lot more research and thinking about my giving, and will be making changes shortly, although I am still wavering between various organisations.

The second afternoon session was called "Lessons from Starting Organisations", which pretty much did what it said on the tin, and there were a few useful ideas, but a lot of it was quite generic. One point that I did find interesting was the comment along the lines of "Don't assume that because you're smart and you've been successful at some things you'll automatically be an expert at everything straight off the bat. In particular, management in hard." I found this relevant because I spent a lot of the weekend being conscious of how terrifyingly young everyone was - it was probably the first time in my life where I felt I stood out as being well above the average age - and I think that this is something that could end up biting the EA community in the arse. There're an awful lot of bright young things, and rather less experience in the wider world.

Dinner was at a nearby Thai restaurant, and involved fun conversations about rationality and learning techniques. After dinner there was one more session, "A Conversation about Motivation", lead by four speakers who are closely involved in the EA world. This was a real eye-opener, and clearly not just for me. There was a lot of very frank discussion of feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome, and serious mental health issues, and the way people had dealt with them. Once the conversation opened up to the room it seemed like everyone had a story to tell, and although I left at the end of the session as scheduled, many people stayed behind, and several people said then or later that it had been the most important part of the weekend for them.

Afterwards there were semi-structured pub conversations, but I was feeling quite peopled out by then so went back to my B&B to read and then sleep.

And then in a moment of incompetence I set my alarm for the appropriate time on Monday morning instead of Sunday, and managed to sleep through the talk I was most interested in the next day. I felt like something of a fool then, but was still feeling a)really quite overpeopled, b)not overwhelmingly enthused by the remaining sessions I had planned to go to, and c)as though I'd already got more than enough value from the conference so far to have made it worth going. So I went home and closed the door and played my piano and read and felt entirely good about that decision.

Mariela | Sandra Cisneros

Dec. 6th, 2016 09:31 pm
[syndicated profile] exceptindreams_feed
”Mariela”
Sandra Cisneros

One day you forget his bitter smell
and one day you forget your shame.
You remember how your small cry
rose like a blackbird from the corn,
when you picked yourself up from the earth
how the clouds moved on.

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highlyeccentric

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