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.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
In summary, I had a really excellent weekend followed by quite a major come-down when I had to come back to campus and leave my people behind. This is becoming a bit more of a pattern than I'd really like. Also, Passover starts on Friday and I'm involved in three seders and three households worth of cleaning and I'm a bit snowed under.

yay friends, boo geography )

I have a big backlog of stuff I want to post about, but I'm scrabbling for time, so let's start with just a bit of babbling about what's going on in my life.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So I'm pretty intensely pro trigger warnings. I generally agree with people like [personal profile] jimhines: that it's nonsense to consider TWs as censorship. Most of the arguments I've seen against TWs are like Stephen Fry's nonsense (which started this round of the debate), people who feel that the highest moral principle at stake is their so-called free speech right to bully people who are already getting crapped on by society.

more discussion of the TWs question, with some abstract mentions of the sorts of things that may need TWs )

But that's why I'm a lot more concerned about students getting too little support than too much, anyway.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Things that are awesome:

  • It's spring, and we used our barbecue set and our garden to have a spontaneous BBQ just because. And before it we played in the park with OSOs and kids and after it [livejournal.com profile] ghoti stayed over so we actually got some time together and I feel so very loved.
  • [livejournal.com profile] ghoti made an entire multi-course fancy dinner out of chocolate, and it was even more amazing than it sounds from that description.
  • Cascade aka the animation from the end of Homestuck Act 5. I mean, it will probably make little sense and / or be spoilery if you haven't read Homestuck up to the appropriate point, but it's mindblowing.
  • [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel triumphed over geography and we managed a whole week together. And no, we did not spend all of it watching Homestuck.


Things that are decidedly not awesome: My cooker decided to die completely near the beginning of [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel's visit. Fixing it is probably going to be both expensive and a hassle, and meanwhile I can only cook at all with a microwave, which is really irritating. Besides, I shall probably have to throw out most of the groceries I acquired for feeding to [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel.

Also there is too much geography and too little time, and I want to see more of my people but can't see my way to sort out any of the relevant logistics.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
Lots of people don't believe in ethical capitalism, for various reasons. Maybe they think capitalism is inherently unethical as a system and if you participate in it at all you're tainted. Or they think that consumer choices don't really have important ethical consequences. Or they think it's unfair that the extra costs of ethical business practices should be borne by the consumer, meaning that buying ethically becomes a kind of luxury. Or they are Effective Altruists who hold that that the good that can be done by buying the cheapest possible goods and spending the difference on efficient charities that cure childhood illnesses in the developing world outweighs the harm done by increasing the profit of companies that exploit their workers. And all of those criticisms have some merit, but I'm still an idealistic capitalist at heart, so I still worry about these issues.

One place where it's particularly acute is electronics. I am not the kind of ascetic who could live without a smartphone, and I worry a lot about the resource and labour implications of buying the things frequently. But right now my trusty three-year-old Galaxy Note II is on its way to becoming unusable as its battery won't hold charge any more. I am reluctant to replace it with a new shiny phone, though it may come down to that because as mentioned I am not prepared to live without my mobile phone, and if I can only use it when plugged in then I basically don't have a mobile phone any more.

So, I would like some advice:
sorting through options )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: It sounded cute and [personal profile] jack and Judith wanted to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: [livejournal.com profile] ghoti was super organized and managed to book tickets for all of us to see a popular new release on bank holiday Monday when every family in Cambridge wanted to go to the cinema. Which meant I got to sit next to Judith and she could cling onto me during the scary bits. That was somewhat of a novelty, up to now she's never really come to me for comfort. Though being pleasurably scared by a film is not the same as being actually scared, but even so.

I'm super proud of myself because I cycled to the cinema, the one in the leisure park behind the station, from our home in north Cambridge. That's my first attempt at cycling through town; the roads were mostly fairly quiet due to the bank holiday, but not completely without traffic. And the longest distance I've cycled in one go, not quite four miles out and I still had just enough energy to come back. [personal profile] jack was really helpful at coaching me in dealing with tricky junctions and other road awareness stuff, which is what I most struggle with at the moment, and also took charge of the navigation so I didn't have to worry about that.

I'm really slow, but I always knew I was going to be a slow cyclist, and cycling to the cinema was still faster than taking a bus. Also more convenient and companionable because we could all cycle back together; my people have been really accommodating about taking the bus because of me not being confident at cycling, but it's clearly easier for everybody if we can all cycle. The advantage of being slow was that we could actually chat at the same time as travelling in a little convoy. Andreas noted that I'm not very good at cycling, so I told him that's why I need practice, and having done that once I now feel pretty confident that I will fairly quickly get to the point where I can use the bike as a viable means of transport.

I did completely crash when I got in in the evening; I knew I was hungry and tried to eat enough to replenish my used up calories, but I was still pretty shaky and exhausted. I think that's something that will get better with more experience, or else I need to increase my estimate of how much extra I need to eat on days I spend a couple of hours cycling.

Verdict Zootropolis is really sweet, but probably doesn't want to be thought about too hard.

detailed review, discussing metaphorical racism )

So I don't know, it's all good fun, but I wasn't able to turn off my brain quite enough to fully enjoy it.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Apparently it's world poetry day, which I didn't know until I started seeing lots of cool poems on my reading page. I particularly loved (though I don't fully understand it) this Auden quoted by [personal profile] kalypso: In praise of limestone

I feel like I ought to be the kind of person who would immediately think of a poem to put here when I belated discovered that somewhere in the nation of internet we're celebrating poetry. But I'm not really, I'm not immersed in poetry to that extent. Like, I have some favourite poems, but they're mostly really obvious dead white men ones that I studied in school, or more often that my Dad learned in school, when the curriculum was even more heavily slanted towards the obvious Romantics. I mean, I love Kipling and Housman and Auden, but who doesn't, from my sort of background? And even with poets I claim to love, I often only know their most obvious pieces, the ones that get quoted in books like 'the nation's hundred favourite poems' and used as markers of having the right sort of education. And my poetry books are in Keele, not here, but I could probably find something in one of [personal profile] jack's anthologies, my tastes are obvious enough.

My brother [twitter.com profile] angrysampoet posted a really thinky blog post recently, which is about lots of different things, including how he's managed to transcend just liking the obvious things that everybody with our kind of upbringing likes, and become a professional poet who's very much involved in the contemporary poetry scene: Slam poetry is a genre. I disagree with him about some points, particularly where he falls into the lazy reflex of blaming social media for the ills of our generation, but there's a lot to think about in his piece.

Particularly: People who write poems once or twice in their life for someone’s birthday or Valentine’s Day will write in cliché. And yeah, that's kind of me, I've written more than two poems in my life but not a lot more, and most of what I write is cliché because I don't write – or read – enough. It's not that I have ambitions to be a professional poet like my brother, it's that what he's saying fits into stuff I've thinking about to do with making creative stuff more accessible to people who just want to do it for fun (shout-out to [personal profile] mirabehn who's been talking interestingly about this topic elsewhere). I want to do more creating, not because I want to compete and be the best poet, or because I want to make money at it, but because creating stuff is satisfying and uplifting, and because when I do write poems for friends and lovers I'd like what I write to be a worthy gift and not just a thing they put up with because they like the gesture.

There are probably other creative things I could be doing more of, writing fiction as well as blog posts, possibly drawing. The other day Judith got me to join her in a drawing challenge, and I think I should follow her example of getting into the habit of just sketching things, not for any particular reason other than that it's fun.

But anyway, I wanted to say I'm most grateful to people who post poetry, their own or other peoples', whether for World Poetry Day or any other reason. You're doing a good thing by making poetry something that 'normal' people can enjoy, without proving a point about talent or social status or anything else.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So two posts about terrible letters to agony aunts crossed my radar recently:

[personal profile] oursin: Sexual bucket list WHAT?, and [community profile] agonyaunt: Women need to loosen up. In the Guardian column, the writer asks for validation of his desire to either cheat on his wife or pressure her into anal sex. And in the Dear Abby one, the writer wants his wife to give him an exceptionally nice surprise and stop being so inhibited. I mean, both of these are entirely gross and inconsiderate and in both cases the agony aunts and the DW commenters quite rightly slate the men concerned. But what's bothering me is that both the comment discussions go in directions of jokes along the lines of, bet these awful men wouldn't be so keen if their wives suggested doing them with a strap-on! (Paraphrasing rather that quoting, because the point is not to get at the particular people who made these kinds of jokes, but to talk in general about that sort of rhetoric).

grumpy and somewhat sexually explicit )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So you know that silly thing on Tumblr where people complain about new-fangled linguistic conventions, and people try to repeat the complaint in older and older styles of English? Well, [personal profile] lethargic_man has made a real version of this, reading the first chapter of Genesis in English starting from 500 and gradually updating the language until the current day. It's a seriously amazing piece of work, no, not rigorous academic scholarship, but he's looked stuff up properly rather than making a guess based on vague half-remembered history of English classes.

1500 years of English. It's a video; the audio track is the main point, but the words are written across the screen showing how written English evolved too. So it's inherently somewhat accessible though not as useful if you can't hear the audio, and you get most of the point without the visuals, so I don't think there's much to be gained by a text description.

I think lots of you may appreciate this, [personal profile] highlyeccentric and [personal profile] forthwritten and [personal profile] pne spring to mind, but I bet there are lots of other people I haven't thought of who will be impressed.

Letter

Mar. 10th, 2016 11:16 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] azurelunatic revived a meme from several months back, where you answer some questions with a particular letter of the alphabet. This is what I said a year ago for A. And now Azz has given me G, so:

meme )

Comment for a letter, if you don't mind a second round of the meme.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
There is quite a lot of controversy about what language is appropriate to use for discussing disability. In terms of talking about people, the obviously polite and ethical thing to do is to refer to people using the terms they prefer, and not impose other ones on anyone for any reason. But I'm quite often talking generically, or talking about a stranger whose preferences I don't know. discussion of appropriate and inappropriate language )

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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