April 24th, 2014
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April 23rd, 2014
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 11:48pm on 23/04/2014 under
Tony & I started having our date night on Wednesday evenings because a) Orange Wednesdays and b) I'm too often exhausted by Friday to face going out.

This week we saw Divergent which was rather less Matrix-y than the trailer had led me to believe.  It's a well-made teenage dystopian future: society is divided into five Factions, everyone is tested to find the place they belong, except that some people i.e. Our Viewpoint Heroine don't get assigned correctly and have to pretend to fit in.  I'm assuming it wasn't just me who went through the teen years (and *cough* some time after) thinking that everyone else seemed to know where they fit in and I was the odd one out?

There are multiple interesting distinct female characters, and the male love interest/mentor (slightly skeevy combination to my mind, but it just about works) is very pretty in a dark brooding competent way.  The plot is engaging and doesn't overreach or try to be too clever, just tells a good story.  I enjoyed it and we'll probably add it to the dvd collection at some point.

Pompeii: Clearly aiming for Gladiator-style vibes, but I'm fairly certain the eruption as depicted is ALL WRONG and will annoy/upset me too much to be worth watching.
Bad Neighbours: the couple from the 40-year-old Virgin movies have a frathouse move in next door.  Nope.

: an Adam Sandler movie where two single-parent families go to Africa to add racism to the terrible comedy.  Also includes inevitable girl makeover scene.  Nope.

The Other Woman
: the wife and the mistress team up with the other mistress to get revenge on the bloke screwing them all over.  Might be fun, but might have all the funny bits in the trailer and have more cringe than I can deal with.

: looked good although they've done something disturbingly unreal to Angelina Jolie's cheekbones

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 11:37pm on 23/04/2014 under
HEY EVERYONE I DID READING THIS WEEK.  For some reason, I had an absolute bumper week for reading actual books (paper and ebook) rather than Random Stuff On The Internet and short fanfic.  I also managed some monster long fics on the AO3 too, it's like I have concentration or something. I hope it lasts.

Books read this week
Battle for Bittora by Anuja Chauhan
Those Pricey Thakur Girls
by Anuja Chauhan
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Without A Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

I liked them all; Battle for Bittora I've already reviewed and I'll be writing up Those Pricey Thakur Girls too, but I'll try to write up the rest too (and woah, The Zoya Factor is only £1 on amazon.co.uk and 95p for the Kindle version BARGAIN except I already have it, duh). 

Ancillary Justice was especially amazing and everyone who told me I'd like it was right.  (huh, amazon have put up the kindle price since I  bought it at the weekend, perhaps they've noticed the Hugo nomination too)

Currently reading
God's War by Kameron Hurley, because she helpfully wrote a blog post "if you liked Ancillary Justice and God's War you'll love ..." which includes a bunch of books I already know I love (the Elizabeth Bear and the Octavia Butler, since you ask) so I thought I'd see if the reverse was true.  I think it might be on the edge of a bit grim for me, but it's keeping me engaged so far.

What's next
Not sure, but probably Infidel, the sequel to God's War, unless that does tip over into too grim for me.
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posted by [personal profile] steepholm at 09:07am on 23/04/2014 under , ,
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)
posted by [personal profile] pseudomonas at 11:41am on 23/04/2014
It has been pointed out that today is not ecclesiastically speaking St George's day. The dragon breathes easier.

dragon safely in mug of tea
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April 22nd, 2014
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)
posted by [personal profile] pseudomonas at 10:44pm on 22/04/2014
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posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 09:23am on 22/04/2014 under
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.
April 21st, 2014
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 10:51pm on 21/04/2014 under , ,
... has been mostly spent knocking on people's doors and talking to them, or shoving leaflets through people's doors, all in the name of Lib Demmery. I shall be singing Letterboxes with more than the usual amount of fervour at the next Glee Club, especially given my injuries*.

Today I alone I have knocked on doors in five different wards, and travelled through a further three on my way between the various canvass sessions. This chairing lark is not all just signing stuff and telling people to shut up in meetings, you know. And the thing I love most about it? Apart from the stunning landscape I get to look at pretty much everywhere in this borough, the people are so lovely. Even those against us (and such strange people do apparently exist) are uniformly lovely about it. One of the antis called me "flower" and wished me luck today; you don't GET that in many places.

Props to all those from m'team who have been out doorknocking with me, especially Mick who has been doing it every day like a one-man canvassing machine, and our MEP Rebecca Taylor who has been in the area too. Also Abid and Chris, and Ruth and Margareta, and Janet and Mike, and Mat; and last but by no means least, my lovely Calder Valley PPC Alisdair who has been to NEARLY as many sessions as me.

So yeah, I'm knackered, but happy, having basically spent my entire "holiday" working. If you'd have told me ten years ago that this is what I'd be doing now? I'd have laughed in your face.

*I actually found myself mumbling lines from it, especially from the "should be subject to regu-la-a-ations" verse - e.g. as I knelt down to push something through a low one muttering "all at waist height" etc.
location: sofa
Music:: tapping at keyboard of fellow Lib Dem doing data entry
Mood:: 'happy' happy
rmc28: (books2010)
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.

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posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 10:00am on 21/04/2014 under
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 07:50am on 21/04/2014 under ,
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.
April 20th, 2014
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posted by [personal profile] steepholm at 02:09pm on 20/04/2014 under
I put this query out on Facebook but may as well repeat it here, since the answer hasn't come zinging back in unambiguous terms as yet...

Who coined the terms "high fantasy" and "low fantasy" - both the concepts and the actual phrases? I feel this is something I ought to know just like that, since they have historically had quite wide currency, even though (for several reasons) I dislike and avoid them myself.
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posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 10:00am on 20/04/2014 under
April 19th, 2014
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 04:50pm on 19/04/2014 under ,
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 ) 
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April 18th, 2014
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posted by [personal profile] steepholm at 10:48pm on 18/04/2014 under
Well, there we have it. The King's English (1931) is proof that the BBC really did have a sinister plot to make everyone speak English like... well, the BBC. Luckily, in a past designed by Heath Robinson it was never going to work.

All of British Pathe's films are now apparently available on Youtube, which may turn out to be a time sink deeper than did ever plummet sound. Reel 2 doesn't seem to be included, however, so we'll never know whether the Frenchman was convinced.
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rydra_wong: "i like to climb alot". The xkcd stick figure climbs up the side of Hyperbole and a Half's yak-like "alot." (climbing -- alot)
The Friday post of glee is where you get to tell us about your climbing-related happiness this week.

It can be a new achievement or adventure, or just that you climbed and had fun; it can be that your favourite climbing wall is expanding or that you bought new rock shoes or that you found a cool ice-climbing vid on YouTube. No glee is too small -- or too big. Members are encouraged to cheer each other on and share the squee.

N.B. Please feel free to post your glee on any day of the week; the Friday glee is just to get the ball rolling.

To enhance this week's glee: The Weatherspell -- epic new route-ing in the Darran Mountains of New Zealand.


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