I no longer get the hang of Thursdays

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:40 pm
Had my passport interview today. Everyone told me it was fine and normal but I thought it was weird and intrusive. How many of your bedrooms look onto your back garden? Where did your parents go on their honeymoon? But it was done quickly and kindly, by a big guy with amazing facial hair and who had actually heard of Minnesota because he's an American-football player.

The worst thing about it was that we had to go all the way to Salford for it, which took ages. I turned out to also need to go back to the university because you can't sign up for language classes online, you have to go in person to the place I was twice yesterday where no one told me this. (I presume it's because they need to check the level people are at if they want to do anything other than beginner's level in their language, because there was a lot of that happening. But surely abject beginners should be able to apply with the system we have to use to do everything else?) But I filled out the form so hopefully that's done.

Which means all my bureaucracy should be done that can be done for now, which is good as all of tomorrow will be taken up with volunteer training at Manchester Museum (which is just a different kind of in-person bureaucracy, as little or none of it will be relevant to my role).

And I had a smear test today, and that's all this morning, so frankly not only am I done with today, but I think I need a medal.

For future reference, though, having a lot of local friends means a lot of them share the same doctor's surgery, and I'd heard a lot of good things about the new nurse who frankly could hardly have been worse than the old one. And she lived up to everything I'd heard about her; she didn't mention my weight, even though she did mention my blood pressure a lot which is fair enough as it was high when she checked it. She even took my height and weight which I know will be for bullshit BMI things the NHS makes them do, but while she said "Five four" as she read my height off the thingy, she then looked at the scale and said "weight...[mumbly mumble]" like she was just reminding herself long enough to go write it down (which is exactly what she was doing) so far from making a big deal of it she ensured I didn't know it at all which is the best thing for my mental health.

And when she asked if I wanted a sexual health screening done at the same time I said it was a good idea because I have two partners but it's okay and they know about each other and etc., she actually said "Oh, so you're poly?" Which left me really taken aback! I've never had a health professional know the word before. And she asked me if the partners were "male, female or other" so didn't assume sexuality or binary gender, which made me happy.

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:35 pm
What I've read: short fiction
Actually read this week:Some of the backlog (all DSF):

What I've read: long fiction

Banishment by M.C. Beaton, which is the first of six apparently-fluffy Regency romances about six beautiful sisters and a malevolent stately home, recommended as a Yuletide fandom (thanks [personal profile] ceb for the pointer!)  This one was indeed the promised fast, lighthearted read, in which the family lose their beautiful stately home and much of their wealth, and (some of them) begin to learn Important Lessons About Not Being Awful To Other People.  And the first of the beautiful daughters finds true love, etc.  The remaining five in the series are now on their way so I can find out just how malevolent the house gets ...

Bike light design

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:12 pm
For a while I had the impression my back bike light remembered whether it was on or not when you removed and replaced the battery. And I wondered how that worked. A push-button that moved a physical toggle between three positions seemed implausible. But so did some tiny bit of persistent memory. My best guess is that there was a capacitor which held charge for a short time.

Now, I think I was completely wrong. I think that when you put the battery in, it *always* comes on. I just assumed that it would usually be off and didn't actually check that was true. So I got the impression it was lit *sometimes* on battery-connect, and connected that to the state it had before the battery was removed.

Wow, it's really easy to manufacture evidence for something even when you think you're avoiding that.

Presumably the "power on lit" is so that loose connections don't turn it off. OTOH, that would mean if it has a loose connection when it's being carried about, it might come on and drain the battery. Or maybe no-one thought about it and this just happened to be the case. Or maybe there's a regulation? I don't know.

Abbreviated freshers' week

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:48 pm
Somehow all my freshers' week stuff was mostly crammed into three days, which is kind of nice since I'm done with it now, which gives me time for volunteering orientation, a passport interview, a doctor's appointment, and a weekend of being in Yorkshire because of Thought Bubble.

Overall it's gone pretty well. I was nervous of feeling out of place but I really haven't. Everyone's been nice and neither I nor anyone else has called attention to me being twice their age (though I have felt it, especially since I keep coming home and taking naps, and they've been going out every night according to scraps of overheard conversation).

I've done all the bureaucracy: enrolled on everything (except my language, working on that), got my student card, met my advisor, peppered my department's admin with questions...I've been to welcome talks and figured out where some of the rooms in the rabbit warren that is the building I'll be spending most of my time in.

I've made a friend! I went to this divisional "party" thing on Monday, which is where you stand in an echoy room with a bunch of other people standing inexplicably close together. This was on Monday so I was at my most self-conscious and sure no one would talk to me, but she just walked right up and did. She's called Kitty...well, she's not because she's Chinese and can't expect people to say her name. But she told it to me, Weijia, and I said it back to her and she said my pronunciation was good but I can't remember it now! She turned up in the group meeting with our advisor today, and we were happy to see each other.

I had my introductory meeting with disability services yesterday, too. Which was great, but kind of weird. I left it convinced that if I'd had even half that support when I first went to college, I wouldn't have to be trying again now. At the time I was still firmly of the belief that I wasn't mentally ill, I was just rubbish. So much of that could have been different.

But then if it was I might not have written so much that Andrew saw on LiveJournal and he wouldn't have been able to identify with me as much as he did and maybe wouldn't have wanted to talk to me and I certainly wouldn't have visited him here if my life had stayed on the track it was supposed to be on. Things would be so different down the other leg of the trousers of time that it doesn't bear thinking about.
For September, I donated to Shift Stigma Relief Fund, which is helping to fund abortions for people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. This includes travel and lodging assistance, since Texas has a 24 hour waiting period and few clinics for its huge area.

Here's more about the program. Women's Health Clinic Provides Free Abortion Care to Texas-based Hurricane Survivors

I've been continuing to pull back from engaging with daily news. I read whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com, as well as skimming the Shakesville news summaries, but don't delve into a lot of articles.

A friend's grandparents were bystanders to the Holocaust in Austria. Her parents taught her a strong anti-bystander ethic. My grandparents fled the Holocaust in Germany, and my parents taught me to stay alert to similar patterns. I don't want to be a bystander as others are harmed either.

I'm sitting with my limitations and privileges, my fragilities and strengths. I feel like my awareness, my donations, my support to others are not nearly enough. And, they are what I can do, what I am doing right now. As I reassure others, doing our own healing work reduces the harm in the world. Keeping our eyes open to the truth, and speaking it with others, reduces the effect of gaslighting in the world. It's going to have to be enough.

Departure

Sep. 18th, 2017 10:38 pm
I've never left a job before. I spent my 20s as a contract researcher, and when my project came to an end, I just... didn't work in that lab any more. So I didn't know how to give notice, how to do the tax paperwork, it was all completely new to me. Also, the people I've been working closely with for the past eight years were all actually sad to see me go and wanted to mark the rite of passage. That was new to me too, in a mostly touching but slightly bittersweet way.

last days )

I started my new job the following Monday. I need to work out how much I should talk about that in detail here; for one thing it's looking to involve somewhat more blogging and social media presence as my professional persona than the old job did. Also I am still adjusting to living in Cambridge full time, which is probably another post, and I'm up to my eyes preparing for the High Holy Days beginning on Wednesday, so I am going to stick with posting about leaving rather than about arriving for now.

is mise bó
tá mé an-caoin
léigh mé an dán
ar idirlíon
nuair is mian leat
canaim amhrán
fanaim rómhall
lím an t-arán

for the confused )

Fitbit goal check

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:26 pm
numbers )

TG Lurgan, amhráin as Gaeilge

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:16 pm

Coláiste Lurgan (Lurgan College) is an Irish-language summer school in Connemara; it has a musical project called TG Lurgan which does lots of brilliant translated covers. Here are a couple, worth watching even if you have little or no Irish 'cause they're obviously having such a good time with it!

videos )

(I'd run across them before, but [twitter.com profile] eyebrowsofpower reminded me of them today.)

First day

Sep. 17th, 2017 07:45 pm
Grumpy that I've got no better recourse for finding the room my "Welcome Talk" will be in tomorrow morning than turning up early and hoping there's someone to ask.

Andrew offered to come with me to help me find it but that's not going to be easy for someone who woke up at three this afternoon; it's basically an accessibility issue for him too. And it costs money in bus fare. And it's just not fair because that shouldn't be his responsibility and I hate feeling dependent on him.

I booked my Disability Services meeting a month ago for as soon as I could get it, but that turns out to be Tuesday. I know this will be a busy and nightmarish time for them, but argh. Hopefully I will be a bit less confused for the rest of the week. There are a bunch of other rooms I have to find after these first ones tomorrow!

It loves me back

Sep. 16th, 2017 09:07 pm
I've lived in the same house for 12 years now. It has a large-ish back yard with grass and trees and bushes that I water some and weed occasionally and mow in the spring and rake leaves in the fall, but mostly leave alone. There are a couple of raised beds near the house that I fuss over more often, but currently I'm not growing anything in there because it hasn't been raining at all and I didn't want to have to water that much.

Once a year I hire someone to whack the hedges back and perhaps battle the encroaching ivy into temporary retreat.

What I do the most back there is sit on the back steps and enjoy looking into the greenness, and pet Basil if he's about. I often eat my lunch or dinner there if it's not too hot/cold/wet.

I've often felt that it's way too much yard for me, and if I'd understood the fierce growth of Pacific Northwest plant life when I moved here, I would have chosen a place with a much smaller yard.

Lately though, I've been appreciating the privilege of looking into greenness, and space.

Yesterday and this morning, I got the strong sense that the yard collectively loves me back. It looks upon my struggles to provide what it needs with tolerant amusement, and perhaps even appreciates being left mostly in peace. My efforts, my way of being with it, are good enough. I'm accepted here. It makes me cry.

There are a lot of squirrels running around, and chickadees and scrub jays calling in the trees, and hummingbirds chittering. Today a tiny round bird with a yellow breast and a yellowy-brown back smacked into the French door and sat on the back porch for a while, recovering. Poor thing! Fortunately it flew off before Basil came around. So there are some of those around too.

The enormous elderly pear tree in the back corner made a lot of pears my first Fall here, but hasn't since. Until this year! I collected a lot of the fallen ones a couple of days ago and put them in the green bin. There are more out there now. Not sure why it's a banner pear year, but I'm glad it's doing well enough to produce. It's way too tall for me to pick them though.

It's good to notice that the oasis of green is doing a lot of critters good, including Basil who pads through or curls up to sleep, and also including me. I feel like I should use it more or differently, share it with more humans, but seems like it's doing fine as it is.

Plan

Sep. 16th, 2017 08:23 pm
Google says the thing making my feet horrible is probably... eczema! "Often caused by stress." Well, that explains why it first arrived when my parents visited! (Yes I know that was a long time ago. It's been flaring up and then almost-going-away ever since and every time it goes away I think it'll stay away and at least I'm doing something about it now.)

Can't even really make a GP appointment until I have a better idea of what my schedule will be like. Nnnrgh.

Plus I already have a follow-up appointment about my new meds, a smear test, and my first meeting with the Disabled Students Office this week, which is quite enough Health Work to be getting on with right now.

By the end of the week I will definitely know my class schedule (since it starts the week after that!) and will be able to make an appointment about my horrible feet. So at least I have a plan.

Cassini's grand finale

Sep. 15th, 2017 07:04 pm



I wrote about Cassini when it got to Saturn, musing on what a long time it had been traveling. So much had happened to me; I'd gone from a high school freshman to living in a country I hadn't thought much about before.

And then I happened to notice Cassini's seventh anniversary at Saturn, and thought how quickly and how slowly the years were going by.

Time piles up so quickly in space, where seven years is nothing compared to the uncountable vastness of the universe. But one of the great things about spaceships is that they connect the universe to the humans: its twenty years now Cassini has been in space. And I don't even know how many years in development to get it that far. A good chunk of a person's working life could have been spent on this one little thing, anyway, that flew through space and burnt up today.
I've seen dramatic words about Cassini "plunging to its death" and some twee cartoons about how it's going home because Saturn is its home, but all I'm interested in is how much we love this little spaceship. We've made it a person, we've given it a lot of time and attention. We've followed it on twitter. My phone's background pictures aren't of my partners or even my dog; they're ones taken by Cassini. (This one and this one, in case you're interested.) Of course we'll miss it now it's gone.
Here's a video with lots of pictures and nice music.
Removing code is good! But everywhere I've worked has had a "pile of makefiles" build system, which have invariably had problems when you remove a file, because the .d files are still hanging around, and make chokes on a source file because it doesn't have the headers it needed last time, even though they're actually not necessary to actually build the file.

And it's a matter of culture whether it's "when you check out code, you often need to make clean or make undepend somewhere to get it to compile" or "when you check in code, you need to find a workaround to make it build cleanly even if you've removed files".

Do people with more recent build tools than "make" avoid this problem?

However, after thinking it through carefully I eventually decided on one of the ways to makefiles cope with this correctly.

The trick

You still do "-include $(OBJ_FILES:%.c=%.d)" or equivalent.

But when you produce a .d file with gcc (usually as a side effect of producing a .o file via -MMD), add an extra line at the end of the recipe, a perl script which edits the .d file in-place and replaces each "filename.o: header1.h header2.h..." with "filename.o $(wildcard: header1.h header2.h...)"

That way, if any dependency has *changed* a rebuild is forced as normal. But only dependencies that actually exist become dependencies within the makefile. (Deleting a header file doesn't trigger a rebuild, but it doesn't with the old system either since the .o file already exists.)

I can share the exact script if anyone wants to see.

Haptics and other awesomeness

Sep. 15th, 2017 07:14 am
I said I'd try to get around to writing up some details of the museum thing before I forget them all, and I've got a little bit of time and energy before my day starts getting hectic, so!

This is very long. )

Yuletide nominations

Sep. 14th, 2017 10:40 pm
I nominated for Yuletide. After lots of "how could I possibly choose", I decided that I might as well pick three works I liked and thought would make good fic, and not feel like I had to pick the BEST three. I can probably dredge up more obscure things I loved, and would really love to see fic from, but I find it hard to bring to mind things I've not thought of for ages.

There's lots of things I love, things like webcomics and webfiction which might deserve attention. I eventually chose three I thought would make good stories.

Elements (experiments in character design), the tarot-like cards showing a character for each chemical element. They're just so pretty, each looks like it tells a story. I was sad the physical cards seemed to be sold out and never for sale. They were nominated two years ago, and I was sad to see not last year.

And two webcomics, Leftover Soup (from Tailsteak, the author of the awesome 1/0, ooh, maybe I should submit that instead), and YAFGC (Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, like Oglaf, very not safe for work, but sort of in a surprisingly wholesome way).

Did other people manage to nominate things?

I am also basking in the disconcertingly competent assumption that, I expect to be able to, just get a story done, without a whole lot of putting it off. I'm not at all used to signing up to something with a deadline and not assuming I'll panic but it's worth it!

I looked at my notes from last year for "what might I be interested in nominating next year". It was mostly the same sorts of things. Although one was, "Steven Universe, if it doesn't exceed the limit of number of works", I guess that must have happened now :) Although I find it really hard to predict. I went to look up Vorkosigan, the universe I was surprised was still eligible when I wrote for it two years ago, and it looks like there's more than a 1000 fics on ao3 from before that, am I misremembering how eligibility/search works?

Luna

Sep. 14th, 2017 10:19 am
My friends' new tiny kitten

My friend Katie rang me yesterday morning, unexpectedly. She said "I'm off work sick, and we have a kitten! Dn you want to come and see her? She's been sleeping on my lap all morning, and she's tiny, and she's called Luna. And she's adorable. And she's tiny." Katie was using that soft voice people do around new babies.

I was free so I went over and she was right. I'd never seen a cat as small as Luna away from its mother. Katie and her partner were told she was eight weeks old but she looked smaller. (For all her tininess, she eats well and she's even litter-trained already.)

Still, they were told her mother hadn't shown much interest in looking after her, which might explain how tiny she is.

And how bold! Knowing my friends had only gotten this kitten the night before, I wasn't expecting to see much of her at all, but almost as soon as I sat down Katie went to make us tea, and when she was out of the room Luna came over so I could take this picture. She jumped up onto my lap after that! All still in the time it took Katie to make tea.

Of course she's just been separated from her mother and her littermates, so she may not always be this snuggly, but it was very cute that she curled up in my oversized hoodie in between bouts of exploring the living room. I am of course more a dog person than a cat person, but I do like cats too and this one is Irresistible.

Katie is absolutely smitten with her and also lives near a posh shop full of cat things, and it sounds like she wasn't in a good place before whereas she will definitely be doted on here, so I'm happy for Luna.

We're at the point of the year now...

Sep. 13th, 2017 10:04 pm
...where I go to bed because I'm cold rather than because I'm sleepy.

And pull the covers over my head and wait for my breath to warm me up.

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 13th, 2017 09:21 pm
So, it has been nearly 5 months since I last did one of these.  This is necessarily incomplete because I didn't keep notes, and also because where I did keep notes (e.g. Daily Science Fiction stories), I have way too many to post all at once, so I'll dribble them out over the next weeks.

What I've read: poetry
I Speed Toward The Moon by Constance Hanstedt
At The Forestry Institute, Hanoi by Pepper Trail
Father Son Haiku by Kelvin River
Fallers by Alex Harper

What I've read: short stories
The Family Ghost by Jamie Lackey
Vervain, Grasshopper, Sun by Marissa Lingen
The Thing About Heisenball by Stewart C. Baker
Last Long Night by Lina Rather

While we were in Helsinki I noticed that Lois McMaster Bujold had another Penric novella out - and that it was in the middle of the existing novellas so she'd renumbered the series.  I enjoyed it very much, both for the plot in itself and for the additional worldbuilding about the shamanic and sorcerous magic systems. Then I reread my way through the entire series:
Penric's Demon
Penric and the Shaman
Penric's Fox
Penric's Mission
Mira's Last Dance


What I've read: long fiction
Bookburners: Season 1 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery.  If I'd read this as it was published weekly at Serial Box, I'd probably have listed each episode up in the short-fiction section.  Instead I read one collected ebook with all 16 episodes. A New York police officer ends up getting drawn into a secret society of magical book collectors operating out of the Vatican, and joins the team in hopes of helping her brother.  The overall arc plot gets resolved satisfyingly while leaving an opening for more, and I note that Series 3 is currently unfolding on Serial Box.

I finally read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and found it pleasant enough but less amazing than some of the hype had led me to believe. It's a good found-family series of minor adventures (in fact, in that sense it reminds me quite a bit of Bookburners) and I'm glad I've read it and will happily read more by Becky Chambers.  But it didn't grab me in the way that e.g. Ancillary Justice or All Systems Red did.

Bewitching Benedict by C.E. Murphy came out last week. It's a historical-romance comedy of manners, which I really enjoyed, especially the grand farcical climax. I am hoping it does well so that the author feels like writing the books to pair off the rest of the eligible bachelors she's introduced here.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner is another in her Lively St Lemeston series, this time focusing on a valet and a housemaid who have lost their jobs due to events in the previous books.  There's a good job for both of them in the local rectory, but the vicar insists he only wants a married couple in post. Luckily they fancy each other like mad; it takes them a bit longer to figure out how to solve some trickier conflicts.

What I'm reading next
Well, now my degree is done, anything I like!  Ahahaha. 

A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner just came out and is waiting on my kindle, which is what prompted me to read Listen to the Moon first. From my long-neglected physical to-read pile, I've pulled out The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. 
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