liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Next week I'm travelling to Hungary, a country I've never visited before. We (well, mostly [livejournal.com profile] ghoti) planned the essential bits, the travel and accommodation, months ago, but it's come up faster than I'd expected and I haven't had time to think about what we're actually going to do there. It doesn't really matter since we're a party of five adults and two children, so I'm sure other people will have ideas, but I thought I might ask for advice anyway.

I made you some ticky boxes )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?

Q&A

Jul. 25th, 2016 10:16 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
Nice thinky meme from a locked post a few weeks back, cos I feel like answering questions about myself. These suggest an attitude to media that isn't quite mine, but I'm rather interested in thinking about why the questions don't exactly fit as well as answering them.

30 questions with long rambly answers ) OK, that was a very long meme, I maybe should've broken it up a bit more. But definitely interesting to think about!
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So my brother was in town at the weekend and Dad suggested we could go to the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival performance of The Tempest. fun weekend )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Hild by Nicola Griffith. (c) Nicola Griffith 2013, Pub Blackfriars 2013, ISBN 9780349134253. I bought this as a full priced ebook based on several really enthusiastic reviews, and I can certainly say it lives up to the hype.

detailed review )

Anyway, I was completely caught up in the book, kept finding excuses to read just one more page, and I was really quite disappointed not to be in Hild's head any more. I can absolutely see why this book is such a sensation, and I do strongly recommend it to readers of both speculative fiction and historical novels.

Up next: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Some months ago, I asked for some advice about mobile phones. And then everything went to pieces and I didn't get round to telling you what I decided, so:

gadget wonkery )
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So last weekend I had the most brilliant time: two of my friends who live in the wrong continents were visiting, and in between I got to spend time with my parents and my partners, so it was just about perfect.

diary stuff )

So yay, that was just about the perfect long weekend for me. And it did me so much good to spend time with MK and [personal profile] hatam_soferet, in spite of the awful news I've been walking taller all week.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired I went on a bit of an ebook-buying spree because I was travelling and wasn't sure how much time I'd have with no internet, but also didn't want to take a big pile of heavy p-books with me. So:

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik, as it's been getting a lot of buzz lately. And I like Novik's pacey, id-heavy writing, but I'm not massively fond of the Temeraire series.

  • Abaddon's gate by James SA Corey. The third in the Expanse space opera series of which I've enjoyed the first two.

  • Bring up the bodies by Hilary Mantel. I really enjoyed Wolf Hall when I was on holiday with more uninterrupted reading time than usual, so I was keen on the sequel.

  • I failed to buy Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer, the astonishingly brilliant blogger from Ex Urbe. Unfortunately it's region locked and I couldn't be bothered going through the palaver of pretending to be American and then breaking the DRM to be able to read the book, so. If the publishers are going to make it deliberately difficult for me to give them money, well, I'm not jumping through hoops, I'll spend the money on something else.


Recently read: Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. (c) Chris Moriarty 2013, Pub Ballantine Books Spectra 2013, ISBN 978-0-553-38494-9. detailed review, somewhat spoilery )

Currently reading: Hild by Nicola Griffith. I'd seen a lot of buzz about this as a historical novel for SF readers, and yes, yes it is. It's about the English Dark Ages, just at the start of Christianity reaching England, and it has absolutely masses of worldbuilding and exploration of the impact of technological changes on society, and just lets you pick it up from context. I know basically nothing about the seventh century, so I have absolutely no idea about historical accuracy, but the level of detail makes the setting seem extremely real and vivid. It's just amazingly weird compared to almost any made-up fantasy world; the characters seem like people, but their values and priorities are amazingly different from those of the modern reader.

In general I'm enjoying Hild really a lot. I love being immersed in the to me alien world, and I like and am invested in the characters, and care about all the political intrigue. I like the choice to tell the story from the point of view of Hild and her mostly female circle, so that warriors and kings and priests and so on are mentioned but always seen from the outside, in terms of their effects on female life. I'm just getting to the bit where people are starting to convert to Christianity, and knowing that Hild is in fact based on the historical St Hilda of Whitby, I can't not know that she is going to end up Christian. In some ways I'm a little disappointed by this, not because I mind reading about Christian characters, but because what will eventually become Mediaeval Christianity is so much more familiar to me than the pre-Christian cultures from between the Roman era and about the time of the book.

Up next: Don't know, I'm a bit less than halfway through Hild so it'll probably be a while before I pick up anything new. I've been hankering to read Ancillary Sword but I think in some ways the style is perhaps too similar to Hild for this to be the best choice to delve into next.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
To continue my write-ups after a bit of a gap:

potentially controversial )
So yes, that was partly informative but I felt like the XKCD citation needed guy quite a lot of the time. I'm not particularly interested in debating the ethics and legality of infant circumcision in the comments; I know a lot of people have strong views on the topic but I don't really care to rehash that debate. As it is I've made this way longer than I intended so I shall just post it and add the last couple of talks to another post.

Ireland!

Jul. 4th, 2016 11:46 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I had a completely glorious time in Ireland last week. travelogue )

Basically, thank you so much to all of you for good advice, we did much better by listening to you than by trying to plan the trip off websites and guidebooks. And you were all collectively right about roads and driving. Also thank you to everybody who asked for a postcard, and to [livejournal.com profile] ghoti for recommending me the app. It turned out to really increase my enjoyment of the trip; [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo brought a real camera, but I just had my phone. It was really good for me to have the motivation to take the occasional snap of something I really wanted to send to one of you, but to spend most of my time looking at things with my eyes rather than being distracted by photography. I missed lots of you, [personal profile] hatam_soferet when we were looking at manuscripts, and [personal profile] forestofglory when we were learning about ecology, and [personal profile] kaberett when we were being amazed by geology, and [personal profile] lethargic_man when we were trying to figure out language stuff. And my musicians and historians and Christians pretty much all the time.

Limmud

Jun. 20th, 2016 11:17 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
I nearly didn't go to the local day Limmud this year, as it's in a busy time and I wasn't sure if it would make sense to drag all my non-Jewish partners to the conference. But in fact [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and [personal profile] cjwatson and even their younger children were really really excited about the event, so that was a good reason for all of us to go. And in fact it was the best Limmud I've been to in years, I came out with that glorious buzzy, head-full, wanting to have enthusiastic discussions about everything feeling.

I'm going to follow [personal profile] lethargic_man's example and try to write it up here, because it might be interesting to some of you, and because it'll be an easier archive for me to refer to in future than paper notes, and because I'm really hoping some people will have opinions and ideas, as the weekend was over before I had a chance to explore all the cool new stuff properly through in person discussions. Unlike him I'll write biased summaries and talk about my own reactions as well as the speakers' words, rather than try to actually type up the lectures from my notes.

history, Talmud ) OK, I meant to do brief summaries but got carried away, I'll write up the other talks another day...
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So someone on FB, who is an introvert, expressed a desire for extroverts to talk more about what it's like to be an extrovert, as this is something they don't understand. So I thought I'd give it a go, here rather than FB cos I don't like posting thinky things that just vanish into FB's ether.

living up to the stereotype by talking about myself )

Any other extroverts want to comment? I'm making this a public post and will link it from FB for the benefit of the person who wanted to learn about what it's like to be us.

Shavuot

Jun. 13th, 2016 09:26 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So my extremely wonderful girlfriend came up to spend Shavuot with me.

religion and soppiness are a recurring theme )

And next week we're all going to Limmud, and everybody is being really enthusiastic about the conference, including partners' children. I mean, they're right to be excited, Cambridge Limmud in particular has a great young people's programme. But in general I'm really happy that my people are coming to Limmud with me.

Also, this is probably a good time to ask: I really ought to have a paper English Bible; does anyone have any recommendations? It might as well be a Christian Bible since if I'm looking at Tanach I'll mostly just stick to Hebrew. I further realized that my trusty old Soncino Chumash is really quite hard to read; I didn't really start reading Chumash until my Hebrew was fluent enough not to be bothered by the fact that the text is squashed into too little space and the distinctions between ד ,ר and ה are not as clear as they might be. This is really a problem for teaching from it, whether it's bar mitzvah students or people like [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. So I think it's time I acquired a more modern Chumash; tell me what's out there with good translations, good typography and preferably commentary that won't make me want to claw my eyes out?
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So if you had a week in Ireland, what would you prioritize doing? Where would you go?

further details )

Between

Jun. 2nd, 2016 12:55 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
There's a midrash on the Mishnah which lists the deeds whose principal reward is in the world to come: ... visiting the sick, celebrating the bride, attending the dead, which says that if someone you love is seriously ill you should perform the mitzvah of celebrating a bride, as that is listed between sick and dead, so you kind of symbolically make more space between the two states. Two weeks ago roughly my grandmother moved on from being terminally ill to actively dying, and of course it was impossible for anyone to really predict just how urgently I needed to rush home.

During the week I had lots of responsibilities in the medical school it would have been really annoying to duck out of, though I'm sure I would have got permission if I'd asked. And at the weekend I had planned to go to a wedding with [personal profile] jack, so in the end I decided that I would go ahead with what I had intended to do anyway, and hope the timing would work out if I returned to my parents' place Sunday afternoon. So I travelled to Hastings late on Friday night (really annoying connection across London from Euston to Charing Cross, such that I ended up missing an hourly train by 30 seconds), and finally reached [personal profile] jack in a very quaint little B&B shaped like a brick castle. And in the morning we woke up and could hear and smell and see the sea, and that went a long way towards helping with being stressed and scared.

And the wedding itself was awesome, it involved an afternoon of folk dancing, mostly Morris dancing and related styles, at several locations along the sea front. It was really nice to be able to mingle with the other guests and watch the dancing and buy icecreams and chips and beer and it generally really chilled. In the evening we went indoors to a former church, St Mary in the Castle, a rather amazing venue set into the hillside. And there was more dancing, a mix of demonstrations and more participatory ceilidh dancing, and a pot-luck buffet, and some really touching speeches, and it was very much what a wedding should be, a gathering of friends and family who genuinely wanted to celebrate the couple.

some religious and some medical discussion about death )

Anyway, I feel a bit emotionally numb in some ways, I haven't really taken in the idea that Granny will continue not to be there in the coming weeks and months. But I do feel very confident that all my people will be here to take care of me and eachother.

Bi-dentity

Jun. 1st, 2016 11:38 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
So my gf convinced me to join her on a panel about bisexuality and religion at BiFest Wales. To be fair I didn't need very much convincing. And it was a pretty cool experience which I should write up before I forget about it.

being publicly bi )

GIP

May. 20th, 2016 05:45 pm
liv: Cartoon of a smiling woman with a long plait, teaching about p53 (teacher)
Remember when we used to make posts to show off new icons? Well, I have the most adorable students ever: for an end-of-term present they made me a custom mug with a little cartoon of me teaching the class about p53. I asked the artist if I could use the cartoon as a profile pic, so here it is. (Click through to DW to see both the icon and the full-sized version.)

I am so very endeared by this. In fact, I squee'd so much when I saw it that my students declared me adorable, which I'm not sure is how it's supposed to work. But hey, I like 'adorable' better than 'intimidating'. (They've also given me a 100% positive evaluation this term, which is going to be very nice evidence to present at my appraisal next week.)

Full size original behind the cut - I think maybe it wants cropping a bit closer so it's just the picture of me, as you can't see the detail of the molecule or my speech bubble. I do love that my characteristic comment is "coolness", which I totally picked up from [personal profile] lethargic_man.

pic of Liv teaching all about p53 )

Milestones

May. 9th, 2016 07:07 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
The quad is mostly non-escalator relationships, though it does contain two married couples who live together and in my OSOs' case have children. It's more like, as we spend more time together we have more shared experiences and more closeness. And we've just noticed that it's a year and a half since we got together, and there are some small new things to report.

diary stuff )

Meanwhile I'm handling a potentially career-threatening crisis at work in the middle of my busiest month of teaching, which is why I'm not very present online or in one-to-one communications lately. Definitely getting to spend time with my loves and put work stress out of my mind at weekends has been helping a lot in coping with this. But I'm hoping to be more in communication soon.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Lots of really great stuff on my reading lists currently. I recommend:


Currently reading: Still Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. It was a bit slow to start in a way but it's picking up and is doing lots of cool stuff with the same character in multiple timelines.

Up next: The next thing on my extremely slow reading challenge list is A book with a color in the title. I've just sent most of my to-read books back to my real house with [personal profile] jack, so I can't look through them and see if anything qualifies. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel gave me Burning days by Glenn Grant as a belated birthday present, so that's a likely choice. Or maybe some of the genuine Hugo nominees; I've been meaning to pick up Uprooted by Naomi Novik for a while.

B'seder

Apr. 26th, 2016 11:49 am
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Yes, obvious pun, sorry. Anyway, the point is that I was really stressed about the beginning of Pesach and actually it was totally fine.

seder reports are a bit of a tradition by now )

And at the end of the week I get to run a seder for my partners and their children. I was sort of hoping parents would join us if not invite the whole crowd of five extra people to their seder, but it's really not practically feasible this year. They are being really supportive with lots of advice, though, so I feel loved and accepted. I am trying not to get into a mindset of being excessively nervous because I want my loves' first ever seder to be perfect. We've been having lots of good conversations about doing the seder in an appropriately interfaith way.

If you've ever been a non-Jewish guest at a seder, please do comment with what sorts of things were helpful and welcoming, or what was confusing and alienating. I'm happy to hear suggestions from Jewish friends too, of course, but I'd particularly like to know about people's direct experiences.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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