Apr. 23rd, 2017 04:25 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Yesterday I went to Walsingham for the wedding of Fr Daniel and his lovely bride Elise. It was a beautiful service, presided over by the Revd Canon Stephen Gallagher, Elise's father, and with a sermon from +Philip North which was both moving and highly entertaining. The music was exquisite - the ordinary was William Walton's Missa Brevis, which I'd not heard before, and sounded beautiful but also very hard! It was marvellous to spend some time in Walsingham, and I somehow managed to come away from the shrine shop without buying any tat, and only one book.

As Fr Daniel had other places to be this morning, we had a visiting celebrant today, and since she had enough on her plate getting to grips with an unfamiliar ceremonial, I was asked to step in as cantor for the Alleluia. I'd had enough warning about this that I was able to ask CN to turn half my piano lesson the previous week into a singing refresher, and that helped me feel a lot more confident. Despite being frightfully anxious, I think I did a pretty decent job, and I might ask about possibly doing it more regularly, so I can work on getting over my nerves.

We continue to settle in to the new house. We still lack a functioning dishwasher, and have slightly more furniture in the spare room than we actually need, but apart from that we've done all the urgent jobs, and are starting to move on to the longer term nice-to-haves. Today I put together a new standing desk, which I'm hoping will have the twofold effect of being good for my back and shoulder tension, and discouraging me from wasting too much time hitting refresh on social media.

Short update

Apr. 22nd, 2017 02:30 pm
zombieallomorph: (Default)
[personal profile] zombieallomorph
  • So I watched an Oilers game with a couple of friends, and I actually enjoyed it and had some idea of what was going on. Canada, please give permanent residency now?
  • My DM gave me dice for my birthday. Pretty ones, but I'm not sure you can trust dice given to you by a DM? (I asked her, and she smiled. All very unsettling.)
  • It's snowing.
hunningham: self-gripping pliers - closeup (pissed-off)
[personal profile] hunningham
Other breaking news - we are all addicted to technology and have an attention span slightly less than that of a goldfish.

Tag as "oh no, not again".

Also, sorry, but I really don't believe that workers check their email on average 36 times an hour. I've been trying to work out what extreme distribution of workers + email checking you would have to make that happen. Maybe a lot of people in the sample had automatic email notifications set to go every two minutes? Does that count? There's a big difference between "I check my email every two minutes" and "my email is downloaded from server every two minutes". Suspect that someone is grinding a rather large axe.

However I'm interested to see that the goldfish attention span is nine seconds. I'm sure it used to be two seconds. Perhaps the goldfish, having gone on a technology-fast, has found that its attention span has increased dramatically and is now writing a book about this. I would read that book. But not the one reviewed above.
hunningham: White cat with pink nose (Charlie)
[personal profile] hunningham
Q. How can you stop your cat drinking out of your water glass?

A. You give them a water bowl which is away away from their food dish.

This works. It really works. Cat's food dish is in the kitchen, as God & nature intended. I have now moved his water dish into the bathroom (flat has odd layout, bathroom & kitchen are right next to each other). Suddenly cat is drinking a lot more water, and is no longer trying to jam his head into every single unattended water glass, much to the relief of all parties.

This is a cat thing. Cats do not like drinking water right next to their food.

Thank-you people on the internet who have told me about this. I am a little unconvinced by some of the theories as to why cats do this, but you are all excellent observers of cat behaviour.

[tiny linkspam]

Apr. 22nd, 2017 09:56 am
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
[personal profile] kaberett
wildeabandon: Champage bottle and flutes (champagne)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
One of the things I find most difficult about not drinking is missing out on celebratory Champagne, so over the last few weeks I have been sampling every non-alcoholic fizz I can lay my hands on, in the hope of finding a suitable substitute. I tried twelve that could generously be called wine, as well as a couple that were definitely-not-wine which came in a wine bottle. The latter two were Lloberetta, a perfectly pleasant fizzy passion fruit drink, and Cloudem Blue, a truly absurd concoction which is bright cyan with iridescent swirls, and tastes of pure e-numbers. There’s definitely a place for it as a ridiculous party drink, but it’s not the Champagne substitute I was looking for.

The majority of the wine-like options fell into two categories. Most of them were about as sweet as your average rosé, which is far too sugary for my tastes. I found it less off-putting in the one that actually was a rosé, because it wasn’t so out of place, but it still wouldn’t be something I’d like to drink regularly. A couple of the others were actually dry enough, doing a passable impression of an inferior Cava, but neither of them was terribly pleasant - they had the distinct carbonic sharpness of a wine made with the soda method and lacking any complexity to distract from it.

Of the remaining three wines, one was a red, which, well, wasn’t the worst sparkling red I’ve tried, but there is a reason that nobody makes them, and that is that they are universally terrible. On Easter Sunday I opened a bottle of Differente Aromatic Cuvée, which was dramatically better than any of the other ones I’d tried. It was also more expensive than the actual vintage Champagne that everyone else was drinking. And whilst it was good, it wasn’t that good, and certainly not worth shelling out thirty quid a bottle for on a regular basis.

There was one wine left to try though, which had been out of stock the first time I ordered, appropriately named Win Sparkling, because ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. It’s still very slightly sweeter than would be perfect, but well within acceptable parameters - on a par with a typical Prosecco, but with more of the biscuity notes that I’d associate with a Champagne. If money were no object I’d still prefer the Differente, which I'll probably treat myself to on special occasions, but the Win comes in at less than a quarter the price, and is very nearly as good.

Cassini’s last Titan flyby

Apr. 21st, 2017 12:08 pm
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
[personal profile] nanila
As many of you know, I work on the Cassini mission as an operations engineer and have done for over a decade.

Tomorrow is the spacecraft’s final close flyby (T126) of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Just to put this into perspective for you, this may be the last time in decades that we get anywhere near Titan. There are no missions to Saturn or its most interesting* moons, Titan and Enceladus, currently funded or being built. That means there’s a minimum of ten years before a new mission could be launched. Given that the transit time to Saturn is, at a minimum, seven years and on average more like ten, that’s two decades until we can repeat Cassini’s observations.

Cassini’s impending demise makes me sad, of course, but what bothers me even more is the lack of continuity in our exploration of our solar system.

You can read the details of tomorrow’s Cassini’s observations on the NASA-JPL press release here. It includes an animation of the flyby over the surface, from the perspective of the spacecraft.

* “most interesting” being ever so slightly subjective, of course
nanila: YAY (me: abby)
[personal profile] nanila
(New Circle members: The Unscientific Poll is a semi-regular feature of this journal on Fridays. Topics vary wildly, although food is the most common one.)

Poll #18243 Most Useless London Underground Station
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 14

Complete this sentence: Pimlico is the most useless London Underground station

View Answers

on the Victoria Line.
6 (54.5%)

in Zone 1.
3 (27.3%)

on the entire Tube network.
2 (18.2%)

If Pimlico is not the most useless London Underground station on the entire Tube network, what is?

Context )

ETA at 10:19 AM: *KLAXON* MORNINGTON CRESCENT HAS BEEN MENTIONED ALREADY. That took even less time than I thought it would. *hands a banana to [personal profile] miss_s_b*

Formalized mathematics

Apr. 21st, 2017 05:09 pm
peoppenheimer: A photo of Paul Oppenheimer at the Australasian Association of Philosophy meeting. (Default)
[personal profile] peoppenheimer
Now reading Freek Wiedijk's comparison of seventeen computational proof assistant systems: (1) HOL, (2) Mizar, (3) PVS, (4) Coq, (5) Otter/Ivy, (6) Isabelle/Isar, (7) Alfa/Agda, (8) ACL2, (9) PhoX, (10) IMPS, (11) Metamath, (12) Theorema, (13) Lego, (14) Nuprl, (15) Ωmega, (16) B method, and (17) Minlog.

Voting intentions

Apr. 20th, 2017 07:38 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
OK, this is UK party politics, please feel free to skip. In short, I am looking for Labour supporters to convince me to vote for your party.

what is the point of Labour? )

I will of course be researching all this stuff for myself, but I really want to be convinced, which is why I'm asking people who are pro Labour to guide me in where I should be looking. And to take the opportunity to counter the media bias against Corbyn. I do kind of like that he doesn't toady to Murdoch, but being willing to insult the Daily Mail isn't enough if he then goes and votes for terrible policies.

Audioblog - From the Archives

Apr. 20th, 2017 11:06 am
radiantfracture: (writing)
[personal profile] radiantfracture
This morning I tried recording a longer story, one from deep in the archives.

It is an old story (circa 2004), and I would do some things in it differently if I wrote it now, but bits still make me laugh. I made some minor cuts for the recording (textual jokes that didn't translate and some narrative colour that, in my contemporary opinion, didn't.)

It was a challenge to record at this length, and I can hear where I start to struggle -- where I lose the specific rhythm of the narrative, or start to lose volume. I made some edits, some of which are almost seamless, and some, yeah, not.

Anyway, it was worth the attempt to learn more about the form.

The story (about 11 minutes long) is here.


three things make a post

Apr. 20th, 2017 09:51 am
watersword: closeup of the "Aztec" coin from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2004) (Pirates of the Caribbean: Aztec gold)
[personal profile] watersword
It has been two weeks since my building's laundry room has been in working order. I bought new socks and underwear yesterday, but this weekend may well entail dragging my entire wardrobe on a laundromat quest. Life in New York City.

My hair is long enough to braid properly, and I have started plaiting silk scarves into the braid, which is both a lot easier and even prettier (if occasionally frustrating when it's not even at the end), and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Goal of being able to French braid my own hair is still not accomplished, but someday that will be a skill I have in my toolkit. Someday. (My current secondary quest of finding a Calvin & Hobbes strip that is work-relevant also continues, but that's being accomplished via a Calvin & Hobbes daily feed, so I'm not exactly pursuing this quest with single-minded determination.)

The new international trailer for the nth Pirates of the Caribbean apparently has Elizabeth Swann making an appearance (from a cameo in the actual movie, as I understand it). I have not acknowledged this 'verse continued after At World's End, and I have no plans to change this (Depp has defended Roman Polanski on camera and also, you know, assaulted his then-partner), but I am having some feelings about the existence of new footage of my favorite girl from my favorite fannish source; Pirates was my entrée into online fandom and Jack/Elizabeth/Will is the OT3 of my heart (I'm not allowed to watch these movies, especially the first one, in the company of other people, I will just squeak and proclaim I love this part! endlessly) and I am always so happy to think about it more. I had so many stories I wanted to tell! Someday I still want to finish Uneasy Alliances, and I want to write the story about Ching Shih being Elizabeth's mentor as the Pirate King, and I still want there to be more than two goddamn works on the AO3 for Anamaria/Will Turner, and basically if this canon had stopped properly, I bet the fandom would be a lot more flourishing. Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp and their shameless money grab fucked up this beautiful ridiculous story that I love so much and I am apparently still mad.
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
Birmingham Open Media art exhibit

This wasn’t the post I was intending to make today, but having discovered the above on my phone whilst searching for something else from about a month ago, I felt I must share this with my Circle immediately. It is a series of three delightful photographs on display in the toilets (no really) of BOM, the Birmingham Open Media gallery. BOM is a little odd corner space a few tens of metres from one of the exits of New Street Station, over the road from an Adult Entertainment Shop (™?). It features tiny exhibitions celebrating “the intersection of art, technology and science”.

The caption for the photographs reads as follows.

Gemma Marmalade
The Seed Series, 2015

The Seed Series is a series of photographic prints by artist Gemma Marmalade, which explores the possibility that those of homosexual persuasion may be more likely to have a visceral impact on the cultivation of plants.

During studies of communal lesbian gardeners in the 1970s, German botanist Dr Gerda Haeckel observed accelerated growth, crop abundance and increased vegetational health. The Seed Series depicts some of Haeckel’s original subjects and their finest vegetable specimens.

Pardon the awkward angle of the photograph - it was not easy to take whilst holding a toddler who was frustrated at the thought that I was about to steal his dirty nappy and replace it with a clean one.

Easter Weekend

Apr. 20th, 2017 07:17 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
I continue to be in that slightly weird place emotionally, where everything in my life is awesome and keeps getting better, but I have this nagging conciousness of the world descending into madness, and don't quite know how to incorporate the two. I'm intending to do some campaigning for the upcoming election, probably in the nearest Lib/Con marginal, but concievably for Labour if that looks like it might have more impact for the anyone-but-Tory cause.

After the Watch, my Easter weekend continued well. I was nearly late for the Easter Vigil because I was making an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve my crucifix from the massage parlour where I'd lost it earlier in the day. Fortunately I made it just in time, and they called later to say that they'd found it, so I picked it up on Tuesday, which I think you can call a happy ending.

I was a little bit grumpy towards the start of the Vigil, partly because it's at the wrong time (dusk rather than dawn) and in the wrong order (with the new fire preceeding the readings rather than coming afterwards), and partly because the children were more than usually rambunctious, but of course all that got swept away as the fanfare sounded and the Allelulias rang, and I was filled with joy in the Risen Lord.

There was another Mass on Sunday morning, after which I set off home for the Feast, which we were hosting this year. I was really pleased with all of my courses. As a starter I did chargrilled courgettes in a mint dressing with olive tapenade and crumbled feta. The fish course was scallops and black pudding with caramelised red onion (or sushi for the vegetarians - teriyaki mushroom & tamago chirashi and avocado & watermelon nigiri). But I think best of all was the pudding, which was rhubarb and yuzu posset. I reckon when you're on course seven of a nine course meal, and told that the only criticism is that there should have been more of it, you must be doing something right!

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2017 09:07 pm
bedlamsbard: star wars rebels: hera peering around a corner (Default)
[personal profile] bedlamsbard
1. I went to Star Wars Celebration Orlando last week, which was -- pretty much a wash in some ways; it wasn't as transcendent an experience as SWCE was last year, mostly because of the feeling of CONSTANT VIGILANCE I couldn't shake due to my extreme fear of running into my ex. Which sort of overrode every other feeling I had about the experience, except annoyance since SWCO also wasn't as organized as SWCE and I kept missing things. Florida Man Organizes Star Wars Convention.

Read more... )

Perhaps the real lesson from this con is "if you think there's a pretty good chance you're going to have a panic attack on the con floor, have at least one person there who knows why you're upset and afraid." Which I didn't this time; the person I was rooming with knew X and I weren't on speaking terms anymore, but not why.

2. Anyway here is my mostly positive summary of my SWCO experience, with pictures. I did enjoy myself; it's just that any time I look back at something I tend to be in "everything is a disaster" mode for weeks afterwards.

2a. Which also makes me feel like I shouldn't talk about my feelings, since my ex told me last year that then I ruin everyone else's experiences too.

3. This was my first time in Florida, and man, is it like Louisiana in climate -- I have really, really missed humidity, because the dryness in Washington is bad for my skin and it's a lot easier to deal with my hair in humidity. I have also missed being warm. I'm back in Washington now and back in a wool sweater, and I really feel like I did not properly appreciate tank top weather while I was in Florida, due to the fact I was only there for the four days of Celebration, and not for an extra day or so on either side to do actual tourist stuff.

4. Hopefully tourist stuff next year, as I am trying to organize a girls' weekend with my college friends next year at Disney World.

4a. Apparently my college friends were having a girls' weekend that same weekend I was at SWCO, and while I wouldn't have been able to go, I'm fucked up over it because I had no idea and wasn't invited. So that didn't help my headspace over SWCO weekend.

5. I'm definitely in an "maybe I'm just completely broken and ruin everything" headspace right now.

reading wednesday

Apr. 19th, 2017 12:01 pm
watersword: "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen (Stock: salt water)
[personal profile] watersword
Chalice / Robin McKinley. I don't know why I'm so fond of this, but I really like it, the domesticity and unusual magic system and the developing relationship between the protagonists. It's a well-handled tight-third and worldbuilding primer, as well.

The confidence game : why we fall for it... every time / Maria Konnikova. This is the second-most-depressing book I have ever read. (The #1 honor goes to Alan Weisman's World Without Us, which is the only book to have ever made me suicidally depressed, although I was already in a rough place mental-health-wise when I read it.) It's fascinating! The neuroscience and sociology are fascinating. But oh man, it makes my heart hurt for all the people who've been so badly damaged. Definitely worth reading if you're a Leverage fan.

Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children / by Ransom Riggs. Did not know this was a weird portal fantasy thingy with a WW2 background! Not sure I actually cared about the protagonist, but he is infinitely more bearable than Quentin Coldwater of Grossman's Magicians series.

Oyster : a gastronomic history (with recipes) / Drew Smith. Super interesting! It falls into the EVERYTHING IS [SUBJECT] trap of single-topic books, and I of course want a lot more citations than is actually reasonable, but a solid book.

City critters : wildlife in the urban jungle / Nicholas Read. Adoooooooorable.

Reading Wednesday 19/04

Apr. 19th, 2017 02:39 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Seemingly DW exploded while I was away over Passover. Hi, everybody who suddenly showed up after many years' hiatus. I'd be delighted if this burst of activity lasts, even if the reason for it is a very sad one. Anyway, I'm just about caught up on reading, and have quite a backlog of posting which I'll try to get to in the next couple of weeks.

As for reading, though:

Recently acquired: My family have basically turned Passover into a massive book exchange. So let's see if I can reproduce it. lists of book presents ) Recently read: All the fishes come home to roost by Rachel Manija Brown ([personal profile] rachelmanija). (C) 2005 by Rachel Manija Brown, Pub 2006 Hodder & Stoughton Sceptre, ISBN 0-340-89881-X.

This was a birthday present from [personal profile] rmc28, and I got to it on Good Friday this week, when I was taking a breather from all the Passover stuff, and had a bit of a cold and wasn't feeling up to go out and look for more exciting activities than spending the Bank Holiday sitting at home reading.

All the fishes come home to roost is a memoir of a really horrendous childhood that manages to be uplifting rather than miserable.

detailed review )

Language and love

Apr. 18th, 2017 07:08 pm
radiantfracture: (Robot Love)
[personal profile] radiantfracture
A very quiet weekend, without much ceremony, but a small deep thing happened nonetheless: this weekend I babysat my nephew for the first time.

I have a baby nephew, aged 8-1/2 months. He was born with a heart defect, though he throve much more than expected right from the start. He had surgery at six months and he has healed amazingly. His energy has doubled. He is not quite crawling, but he wriggles very quickly.

Monday night I babysat him for the first time. I was very nervous, because I hadn't babysat in -- perhaps 20 years? -- and I showed no aptitude at the time. Rather the opposite.

The elder nephew, aged 19, was also at home; however, he had to go to bed early to get up and be a lifeguard at some ungodly hour, which is why my presence was necessary at all.

(Note: Be grateful for your lifeguards, please, and do not be rude to them about the placement of lane markers. They are young, and they had to get up early, and they are just following instructions.)

In the evening, I got to feed the baby a little, and also to see him starting to understand that if he signs for something, he will get it. He only knows the sign for milk, because that's really the only sign the rest of us are clear on.

I noticed he had started making the milk sign, a little squeeze or clap with the fingers of one hand1, and I tried to reinforce it by bringing him the milk bottle every time he did it, though he did not really want milk all that much -- he is more excited about solid food right now.

This same small nephew has come to a point where he does not want to go to bed. He loves people and attention and socializing. He loves having his picture taken and always smiles. He hates to leave all this in order to sleep.

Yet on Monday it fell to me, least experienced of sleep-guides, to put him to bed.

There is a whole routine. It involves a diaper change and a sleep sack and a last feeding and a prayer and a song and a story and some declarations of love and some firm instructions to sleep.

None of this was remotely convincing to Small Nephew. He cried and cried in that profound outrage babies can express so crushingly. His body taut as a bow, he would not be comforted.

The thing to do, of course, was to put him into the crib and leave, but I knew I could not, quite, put him down in a state of such distress without trying to remedy it at least a little.

But how, without language to explain, persuade, convince, argue, command?

He was so so so so sad and angry, and he did not want to go to bed at all, and I was not his dad or his mom, and what was I even doing there, and what was even going on?

At one point I put him down on the floor, which is not part of the routine at all. He looked very surprised and then flipped over and started worming in his sleep sack along the carpet. He crawled towards the crib and grabbed its leg, then stopped, and I thought to myself you dolt, you're just making it worse. So I put him in the crib.

This was no better. Then he signed at me for milk. "Milk?" I checked. He intensified the noise, which I took for yes.

So I gave him the milk, and he drank it, furiously.

And he did not stop crying entirely, but I think he felt a little better. So I said the words and left the room, and in ten minutes by the baby monitor's reckoning he was asleep.

Surely what he wanted with his mother or father, or to feel properly comforted, or not to have to go to bed at all, but he could not ask me for any of those things, and I could not have given them to him if he had asked me.

Yet he could ask me for milk, and I could give him that.

It just seemed like the whole human condition, right there.

I once read a lot of Lacan, and his sort of interpretation comes easily2, but this exchange also felt like something simpler -- the way we want and are not answered, and we see and recognize want and cannot answer it, and therefore we end up exchanging something else entirely, because it's the best any of us can manage.3

Once Small Nephew was asleep, I tried to be "helpful" by tidying up the kitchen. I unloaded the dishwasher into weird places, as people who don't understand your kitchen always do. It's like an Easter egg hunt, but for your dishes. Then I loaded the dishwasher all wrong, because no one can load anyone else's dishwasher properly.

And then I wrote this down, checking the monitor periodically to make sure that in recording my Meditations Upon Watching the Baby I was not forgetting to actually watch the baby.


1. The sign derives from milking a cow, but I prefer to think of it as one hand clapping.

2. A Lacanian reading would be something like this: you cannot have your heart's desire (the return of your mother), and in fact you cannot even have that desire properly recognized and answered, because it happened before language, and neither the asking nor the answer can be properly expressed or understood -- only the absence. Once you learn language, you still can't have your heart's desire, but you can have something else. You can call something to amend the absence, and have, not the satisfaction of your desire, but the satisfaction of calling for a thing and having it come to you -- the power of language. The endless substitution of the signifier.

3. Or, you know, maybe he was hungry.


highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

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