liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Heartfelt thanks to all of you who took the time to make supportive comments when I was feeling down. I am incredibly touched by so many people reaching out.

I have only a little gap before Passover chaos sets in, but I don't like leaving depressing stuff at the top of my journal, so have a general consumption update:

food, games, TV )


Dec. 14th, 2016 09:14 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I'm really enjoying the resurgence of people doing little potted summaries of what goes on in their day-to-day lives, so I think I might give that a go.

stuff ) Anyway, term ends Friday, I'm heading back to Cambridge for a full three week block, and I am looking forward to Blue Christmas and Christmas and Chanukah and just relaxing with my people without any more travelling for a while.
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: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired:
  • A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. Valentine's present from [ profile] ghoti, since she's a fan of Murakami and I haven't read anything of his yet, and I like sheep-themed stuff because of my offline name, and also I often notice the cute ears in animated films we've watched together, and this book has a girl with exquisite ears, apparently.

  • The secrets of enduring love by Meg John Barker and Jacqui Gabb. This was a present from me to all of my quad collectively. There are too many combinations to make it very practical to celebrate VD in couples, so both this year and last year we've mostly done something along the lines of all of us celebrating eachother. (Last year we were really new, mind you.) And I am a massive fan of Barker, because of their really unique approach to studying and discussing relationships, sexuality, and identity. For one thing they seem to blend rigorous academic scholarship with personal involvement and activism in a way that seems really unusual, though it fits in with their general approach to avoiding binarist thinking. And secondly, because they don't do inclusivity starting from a default model of straight, monogamous, dyadic couples but then make sure to mention that not everybody fits this default, rather they treat all relationships genuinely as equal. So I'm particularly interested in a popular account of their research into long-lasting relationships which seems to include a wide range of what is called a "relationship", not even necessarily assuming romantic and sexual, let alone straight and monogamous.

Recently read: Not a lot, various miscellaneous internet things but nothing that I'm burning to share with you. So have the always worthwhile Debbie Cameron on Crap apps and female email, where she takes down the idea that sexism is caused by women being too feminine, particularly in their style of communication.

Currently reading: Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. The third in a trilogy where I loved the first two, but I'm dubious about this final book because so far the first chapter has killed off my favourite character. I suspect he's going to turn out to be complicatedly dead, but I dislike Gandalf plots where the vitally important character isn't dead after all nearly as much as I dislike my fave characters dying, so I'm suspicious. Given how much I loved the first two books I'm not giving up yet, though.

Up next: Don't know, I've only just started the Moriarty. Probably one of my exciting valentines presents.

In other news, I had a weekend I crammed way too much into, but the scraps of time I got with my people were really good. I had a sort of rushed semi-date with [ profile] ghoti late Friday night and Saturday morning before breakfast and the day's obligations. And then the afternoon at Andreas' fourth birthday party; I've not recently had enough young children in my social circles to do that much, but I do enjoy parties that are based on playing and food and where you get a party bag to take home.

In the evening I managed to go out for a meal with [personal profile] jack, at The Plough, a local gastropub we're quite fond of. But again, only a fragment of a date, really, and we had to leave early on Sunday morning to squeeze in a brief visit to my grandmother, her daughter who is my aunt and who is currently visiting from Australia, and my brother Screwy who is Granny-sitting while parents are travelling. Which was rushed mostly through my own fault because I also wanted to see [personal profile] doseybat and [ profile] pplfichi at the latter's birthday party, and before Bat goes abroad for fieldwork for some weeks.

Lots of my people are going through hard times right now, and I'm helplessly sad about it. If I talk about it at all it'll be in locked post, but it's getting me down a bit even though my direct actual life is really good at the moment.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Hello! I haven't fallen off the planet, just a lot going on. Some new things that have happened lately: includes minor medical stuff )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble, from the giveaway shelf at work. I sometimes like Drabble and sometimes don't, but I find it hard to resist free books. And if I don't get on with it I'll put it back on the giveaway shelf.

Recently read
  • Via [personal profile] khalinche, The lonely death of George Bell, by NR Kleinfield. One of those really excellent pieces of non-fiction writing which takes a single individual who's not particularly famous or exceptional, and conveys their character and situation. This is a portrait of what happens when someone dies having no real social connections, while also showcasing a bit what the bureaucracy manages to discover about Bell.

  • And from the other pole of human life, Parenting and pronouns, by Dorian at Beyond the Binary. Some really interesting observations about what happens if you actually take seriously the idea that you can't guess a baby's gender by looking at its genitals, an experience some of my friends are are also going through.

    Currently reading The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. I'm reading this slowly, because it's dense, but in a good way. I love the world-building of near-future Turkey, seen through the eyes of disparate characters who have the sorts of totally coincidental connections that only happen in fiction. As with some of McDonald's other stuff, it's SF in that it has nanotech and political extrapolations, but the atmosphere feels more like fantasy in some ways, partly because magical things happen and it's very ambiguous whether there's an underlying scientific explanation, and partly because the language is really lush and poetic.

    Up next Not sure; I've got a bit under a third of The Dervish House still to go. I'm kind of pining to read Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, partly cos the whole internet's talking about the third in the trilogy and I'm behind! The main reason I didn't get to it sooner is because [personal profile] jack lent his copy to someone and we can't remember whom, and I'm irrationally reluctant to buy it again when I "could" just borrow it from J. Except that's silly, because obviously I can't borrow it if we don't know where the copy is, and I'm rich enough these days that it won't hurt me to buy the same book twice and I'm happy to support Leckie, she's writing good stuff and seems like a really nice person.

    Today I did good adulting. I saw the nurse practitioner at the campus GP practice, and endured her telling me off for being two years behind on dealing with minor medical stuff, in exchange for her prescribing me some non-expired asthma inhalers and administering a flu vaccine. And I have another appointment for a proper asthma review, which will be tiresome as I've been taking the same medication for 25 years and I know it works for me, but I understand why they want to do this with a new patient, and the nurse agreed to combine (!) this with a cervical smear, which I'm also overdue for and won't be any fun, but hey.

    And I dealt with some email, and other generally useful but boring work tasks, and I showed my face at the Remembrance service in chapel this morning. They got about a hundred people, I think, some of them in military uniform. And the Catholic (with a red poppy) and Free Church (with a white one) chaplains did one of those very Keele ecumenical services which was sweet and sincere and generically theistic rather than intensely Jesus-y, and definitely not about glorifying war and brave soldiers' heroic sacrifices etc.

    I'm doing our Remembrance in synagogue this Friday; I usually try to do it the Friday before Remembrance Sunday, but I ended up just picking the closest Friday to the actual date of the 11th without looking up when the official commemoration was going to be. My Facebook is absolutely lousy with arguments pro and contra marking the day at all, and honestly the people whose politics are generally most congruent with mine are against it. There's not really any question that I'm going to mention it in synagogue, because it's something we've always done since 1918, you don't change the community's customs based on how you feel about Cameron versus Corbyn. But I think it's time for some Sassoon; he was at least arguably Jewish and it feels like this year is his year, everybody's quoting him.
  • Stuff

    Sep. 24th, 2015 12:11 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    I wasn't visibly bisexual on the internet yesterday, and I didn't read any novels or tell the internet about them because it was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. So I was in synagogue all day, or more precisely, I was in the pulpit all day, and that is too much, one person should never do the whole of Yom Kippur single-handed, but anyway, I did it, and I still just about had a voice and the ability to stand by the end.

    I've done that thing where I get out of the habit of posting, and I feel like I have to start again with something significant, indeed I have a couple of long thinky posts half composed in my head. But that always ends up just blocking me; it'll probably happen that something else will catch my attention and I'll never get round to posting the thinky stuff that's been in my mind lately.

    I know I'm not the only one in this situation, so let me take the opportunity to start up a game that worked well in the past:
    When you see this post, feel encouraged to post something in your journal. Short or long, trivial or profound, it doesn't matter, just something. And if you like, you can pass on the token by copying this notice at the bottom of your post.
    liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    I am in fact totally fine, but my life has a lot more inconvenience in it than I'd prefer.

    slightly scary, mostly boring domestic stuff )

    Anyway, the upshot is that I'm annoyed rather than injured, and I have the most awesome friends. But grr, this I could really do without. Strangely enough, I feel much less inclined than I did last night to poke at my newly acquired pyromania game, Little Inferno, that I just acquired from the Humble Bundle. It's almost enough to make me superstitious.
    liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
    I was really quite stressed on Monday. A major project I lead on at work is in crisis, with the other two key people abruptly about to retire. We had a discussion in which everybody carefully didn't blame me for the project not going well, but between the lines it's clear that my inexperience at leading projects of this scale meant that I didn't bail sooner and I probably should have. Instead I've been trying to throw a lot of effort into avoiding a crisis which in fact wasn't really avoidable because of external circumstances. On top of that I have two fairly big deadlines this week, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed in general. Hence my excessively grumpy post about Purim; I basically love working with the community, but I was just right in the middle of feeling like everybody wants stuff from me that I can't provide.

    that was a temporary blip, actually my life is really cool )

    And today I realized that one of my deadlines isn't actually today, it's 28th March. And I thought I'd lost something irreplaceable I'd borrowed from a friend but it turns out I in fact returned it and had forgotten doing so, so that also made me feel a whole lot better.


    Jan. 14th, 2013 11:33 am
    liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    Yesterday I bought a £100 pair of trainers. English people find money talk embarrassing )

    My brother the poet expresses this much better: If you suspect it, report it. That's a video with his performance of his poetry as the audio track, and works well as a whole piece beyond just the words of the poem. I'm happy to transcribe it if you can't watch videos, but I don't want to put the transcription right here, because he has a book out and I don't want to hurt his sales, that wouldn't be very sisterly of me!
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    Another brief link update post, because I'm note quite squeezing all of my life into the available hours at the moment, but here are things more people should see.

    There's a meme going round where you take a fandom and pick people you'd have various kinds of interactions with, if the characters existed in your mundane life. A bit like an extended version of shag-marry-cliff, I suppose. Well, [ profile] sovay and [ profile] nineweaving have been doing this with Shakespeare characters, which I thought some of you might appreciate.

    Also, [community profile] vorkosigan is trying to play Sorting Hat with the saga characters. Leading to some really nice, detailed meta about both Vorkosiverse and the Harry Potter houses.
    I probably shouldn't put on Twitter that I spent the night in A&E without expanding at greater than 140 characters length. Primarily, I am perfectly fine, honest, it was just a minor mishap. Which means that it's a thankfully not terribly interesting story.

    mildly medical, not gory )

    So in short, that really could have been a lot worse, and the NHS has done me proud in several respects.


    Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:32 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    A couple of days ago, I got the chance to take part in an opinion poll. It's something I'd always wanted to do, cos I like being asked my opinion about stuff, and I sort of want my opinions to be part of the national scene.

    it was a bit of a mixed experience ) So anyway, now my views about elected police commissioners and switching between banks are part of the pile of data that people will look at to decide things, and that's quite cool, even if it was a bit more of a waste of evening than I would really have liked.


    Jul. 11th, 2012 03:47 pm
    liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
    Various circumstances combined to give me a whole week in the same city as [personal profile] jack last week, but both of us were working rather than on holiday. So we had a week of living something like the stereotypical married couple lifestyle. Waking up together and grabbing a hurried half hour of interaction while getting ready and having breakfast, then off to work 'have a good day, dear'. Spending some evenings together doing chores or hanging out with regular local groups in a low effort way (the Carlton on Thursday was particularly good fun, with good company and lots of it). Being circumspect about sex so that other people in the house wouldn't be disturbed. Spending the weekend driving out to a nearby town for dinner with friends of ours, a couple who are trying to squeeze a social life around two more than fulltime jobs and three kids, partly by means of staying up until the small hours Saturday night.

    We even went to [personal profile] jack's work do as a couple. There was good food, and a manful attempt at a ceilidh, and [personal profile] jack introduced me as his wife with impressive naturalness. Plus I got to meet [personal profile] evilsusan in person and she is just as charmingly cynical in person as online. It struck me as slightly odd that every single employee in [personal profile] jack's department is male and every single person brought a female partner. These days I'm rarely in an environment quite that binary gendered; not only no same sex couples, but not even any opposite sex couples where the woman is present in her own right and the man is her guest.

    If you'd told me ten years ago that I would be living like this, I would have been pretty horrified. I've mellowed somewhat since then, enough to find this married couple week reasonably pleasant and relaxing, but I still struggle to see this as the pinnacle of the ultimate romantic dream that everybody should strive for. I enjoyed being around my husband while we just got on with our lives, but it's not enough more wonderful than our normal situation of seeing eachother every few weeks for intense date weekends to be worth compromising my career for.

    And now I'm back to my more usual married-bachelor lifestyle. I'm looking forward to a relatively quiet remainder of the summer, because I've got plenty of projects that need to be completed by September...

    Bus fail

    Feb. 19th, 2012 10:33 am
    liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    On Thursday a colleague invited a couple of us to dinner in a part of town I haven't been to before. I misunderstood the travel website and the map I looked up and ended up catching a bus in the wrong direction. I only realized my mistake when the bus arrived at the terminus in Hanley. Unluckily, it turned out that the bus didn't immediately turn round and go back, but set off on a different route. So I had to wait in the bus station for 45 minutes for the bus going back in the direction I'd intended.

    Hanley bus station is honestly not the greatest place to be alone after dark; I immersed myself in Dickens and tried not to notice the similarities between his descriptions and my surroundings. Anyway, the bus duly showed up, and in fact it was the same physical vehicle I'd arrived on, with the same driver. I explained to him that I'd made a mistake and was actually trying to go to a particular suburb. He proceeded to spend the whole journey to my real destination loudly berating me for being so stupid that I got on at the wrong bus stop, and telling me that I should have asked him for advice at the start of the journey and avoided going out of my way. I think he was trying to be friendly, just going about it in a slightly abrasive way. I just kept apologizing and trying to avoid sounding irritated at his retroactive advice; after all, I had made an error.

    The whole conversation (well, him shouting at me and me apologizing from the back of the bus) was a bit farcical. I think my accent grew more and more southern English RP the more times I had to repeat my apology, while his grew more and more intense Potteries dialect. My accent climbs the social scale when I'm nervous, and it's unavoidable that my accent in general is much more prestigious than the local one. Plus I have loads of training at projecting my voice and speaking clearly, while the bus driver was both mumbling and shouting, having no real idea how to make himself heard over the engine noise while speaking to a passenger sitting a few seats behind. I think his repeatedly calling me stupid was a sort of defence against my implicitly pulling rank, though that wasn't my intention, it's just that I happen to have the accent and speech patterns I have.

    On Friday the bus home is always slow because it's mega-rush hour. You usually end up waiting at the bus stop while 2 or 3 stuffed full buses go past, and then you get stuck in traffic. On top of this expected delay, the bus sat around in Newcastle for 20 minutes for no obvious reason, and then the bus driver, distracted, took a wrong turn and had to go round in a loop to get back to his intended route. In this case the bus driver was clearly "in the wrong", though he'd made a completely understandable and not dangerous mistake. The bus was full of students who were quick to castigate him; they're teenagers who are just finding their feet in the world and learning how to get good service by projecting authority. They're also people who (like me) expect to go through life receiving service and having their burgeoning authority respected. As on the previous day, the bus driver was getting stressed and becoming increasingly unintelligible, which in this case was particularly unhelpful as he was trying to give us information about how he would get us to our destinations.

    In the end the worst consequence to me was that my commute took about 85 minutes instead of the usual 40. But it also made me think about how it comes about that "people like me" don't generally take buses; people take buses because they can't afford private cars. I love public transport, and it's partly a matter of principle that I've resisted learning to drive. In these instances, I would have wanted the bus drivers to behave differently (not calling me stupid / driving along the correct route), but I also didn't want to throw my weight around. The expected middle-class response I suppose is to write to the bus company and complain, but the consequences of that on the bus drivers would be out of proportion to their original missteps. But if lots of people who took buses (other than that one route between the university and the smart area of town, which not coincidentally has newer shinier vehicles and a more frequent, reliable service than pretty much anywhere else) were the sort of people who expect decent service, then public transport would not suck anywhere near as much as it does.


    Mar. 9th, 2011 01:15 pm
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
    I received my census form today! we love to count )
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    Haven't managed to post anything since I started back at work after the New Year break. During that time I have:
    • Visited [personal profile] angelofthenorth in Cardiff
    • Hosted [personal profile] khalinche for a truly delightful couple of days
    • Made a flying visit to Cambridge for [personal profile] jack's birthday / engagement party
    • Heard a fascinating but rant-inducing talk by Simon Baron-Cohen
    • Had a visit from my parents, uncle and grandmother
    • Heard a really good talk about the Staffordshire Hoard
    • Marked dozens of exam papers
    • Seen an urban fox
    • Helped represent the Jewish community at a whole bunch of Holocaust Memorial Day events
    • Saw Star Wars for the first time (only the original film, now called episode IV, as yet)
    • Continued going to the gym regularly with [ profile] mathcathy
    And [personal profile] jack has been staying with me, which is probably the biggest reason for spending less time on the internet than I sometimes like to.

    I have built up a huge queue of posts in my head, including my thoughts about many of the above events, but I also want to post about:
    • Reviews of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, Stephen King's The Liar and Jo Walton's Among Others
    • Finishing the 10-day countdown meme
    • Answering deep questions people have been posting about relationships
    • Answering the final, giant FAQ about getting engaged, namely: what are the political implications of your decision?
    • A retrospective of 2010; I always do that, every year, and although it'll be February by the time I get to it I'd feel bad about not doing it at all...
    Sorry for the bullet points instead of a post. I am very much enjoying 2011 so far, but wow.

    I also have a small logistical problem: there is a sofa. It belongs to my brother's partner. They (brother and SO) want it in the long term. Right now it does not physically fit in their living room. I have no sofa, but I do have plenty of space. My brother and sister-out-law would like to long-term lend me their sofa. Sofa is currently in their flat in Hackney. How do I get the sofa from there to my house in Stoke? I'm happy to throw money at the problem, but, you know, preferably not more than the value of the sofa!


    May. 12th, 2010 03:23 pm
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    This posting everyday for three weeks thing hasn't worked out well at all! Mind you, Dreamwidth and the Three Weeks for Dreamwidth festival seem to be doing very well without my input, which is very reassuring.

    where were you? )

    If I had more time online I'd definitely want to get involved in [personal profile] damned_colonial's discussion about body image and geek gatherings. But let's start with a link anyway, cos I think there's some really interesting and chewy stuff there. Slightly related, and also really really thinky: [personal profile] ajnabieh on Mom jeans.

    This week

    Sep. 4th, 2009 05:37 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    I had a fairly quiet bank holiday weekend. diary )

    I am planning a full and adventurous weekend, Thuggish Poet's poetry event tomorrow evening, hanging out with [ profile] lethargic_man at a klezmer fest on Sunday, Pembury Sunday evening, and seeing [ profile] ewtikins and [personal profile] khalinche on Monday. After that I am heading to Keele for an interview, for a job teaching molecular biology to the medics, something I think I could do extremely well. I am very optimistic about this job!

    Even without the travelling, I'm barely online; my main computer is progressing further into its agonizing death throes. Other than running very slowly, it has added frequent disconnection from the wireless, and occasional failure to display a readable screen, to its unpredictable switching itself off behaviour. And the keyboard is broken on my baby computer. That at least is under warranty and I have taken steps to get it fixed, but now I'm a bit stuck for internet contact.


    Jul. 23rd, 2009 02:18 pm
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    I am really not at all well. Tuesday night I hoped I was just overtired, Wednesday morning I tried to go into class which turned out to be a mistake. [personal profile] hatam_soferet has been completely wonderful and amazing about looking after me, she brought me home from the city and put me into a bath and gave me tea and food and sent me to bed. Today I feel somewhat better but definitely not well, so I'm taking it easy. My fever dreams are all full of attempting to interpret Jewish texts about esoteric issues...

    Does anyone have any suggestions of something I can eat which is easy to prepare, easy to swallow, bland and contains plenty of calories? Not eating will totally make me worse but I am finding it really hard to face the thought of preparing or consuming food. Also don't have the brain for serious discussions, but I will try to get back to those when I am feeling better.


    Jun. 7th, 2009 09:20 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    I've had a fun and relaxed weekend, probably the last I'll get for a while as I have to spend the next couple of weeks frantically packing and then moving back to the UK and then setting off on adventures!

    diary )

    I can't really quite get my head round the fact that I have only one more weekend and less than two weeks total time here.


    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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