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I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I have to accept that there just aren't (enough) 'good' days when I'm fired up and willing to take on everything that needs doing, and that thus I need to have some way of getting things under control despite pain/nausea/lethargy/ennui. As of yesterday, the goals include get off the computer no later than 9:30pm, read a book until no later than 11pm, turn the light off by 11pm. (I managed this yesterday!). In the mornings (other than weekends), get up by 8am, eat breakfast somewhere other than bed, and (unless I have appointments) go for a walk. Today, I did this, with a task of dropping expired medications at the pharmacy, and then purchasing anti-histamines for eldest. I then rewarded myself with a coffee at the local cafe, and time to read a book. This won’t be a common thing, but we ran out of caffinated coffee grounds yesterday, and might not have more until Wednesday, depending on whether eldest is willing to go shopping for me.

And then to work on a specific to do list. I’m using a single piece of A4 paper for the work week, and only allowing myself as many tasks in a day as can be fit in a column. So, today’s list included the above pharmacy run, making a skin check appointment, and a bunch of paperwork. By 10:30am, I'd done half the columne (yes, the easy to get done stuff, but not necessarily the *fast* stuff).

By dinnertime,I'd done most of the rest. Some of it required more computer time than I had during the day, but I’m pretty happy with what I got done. The idea of not trying to fit more in to the week than I can fit on an A4 piece of paper — has potential (although I have to remember to make each thing doable in a small time, or a specific part of a larger task).

and I'm writing this at not quite 9:30pm, and I have a book or two picked out to read some more of. Last night I managed to finish up two near finished ones, so feeling pretty happy about that...

That Dice-Rolling Hobby

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:09 pm
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Apart from dealing with multiple medical issues that I've raised in previous posts, I have had the opportunity to engage in my favourite hobby othe weekend - traditional roleplaying games. On Friday evening I participated in what I call Eclipse Phase Mars, on the basis of its standard location (although most recently this has involved extrasolar gatecrashing etc). This particular group meets primarily on Google Hangouts with players in Western Australia, Vietnam, Victoria, and New Zealand. I've missed a couple of sessions of this game, partially due to technology issues (my computer screen was completey destroyed on my last trip to NZ, so I've been trying to work with a dinky Asus Aspire One), and partially because of international trips. Both of these have affected my ability to complete Papers & Paychecks; although I did release an update on Saturday morning following completing the bestiary section, and integration a number of significant changes, even this late in the publication process.

Saturday was also a regular CheeseQuest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce. Given the cool weather, our lunch feast consisted of a pumpkin gnocchi and Nova Scotia brown bread. The cheese feast included fried saganaki and halloumi, havarti, maasdam, gorgonzola, Dutch smoked, and two not-cheeses, a faux cheddar and "tree nut" cheese, which are quite tolerable. I was rather taken by the Devil's Corner pinot noir that our guests brought over, light but tasty and with a brilliant ruby colour. After lunch was the second session of our historical-fantasy Dungeons & Dragons game, using the very different 4th edition rules in the setting of Charlemagne's rule. The game went very well, everyone plays up their character ethno-religious background and character class, as they cleared out a old Roman-Germanic temple in Freisland haunted by Wiedergänger.

Sunday was also a gaming day, this time with my own game of Eclipse Phase. This session involved the PCs engaging in a short-case to an autonomist morph resleever on one of Neptune Trojans, then taking a stealth craft to intercept an Ultimate scout ship en-route to Eris. There was an almighty gun-battle that followed which eventually saw the PCs successful, and partially courtesy due an inside agent providing assistance at the last moment. After that was the challenging process of psychosurgery and the literal merging of minds. More on that for the next session. Appropriately I've started reading the two books entitled Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (one published by Open Court, 2012 and the other by Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

A Star Has Fallen

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm
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"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

Medical Matters

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
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It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.

link salad

Jul. 18th, 2017 01:01 pm
fred_mouse: line drawing of mouse sitting on its butt reading a large blue book (reading)
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I'm sitting in a coffee shop in beautiful downtown Mandurah, drinking a cup of coffee, and waiting for it to be 1:30pm. Which means that briefly, I have free wifi access, to go with the coffee nearly as big as my head (I was offered options of small, medium, and large, and as I'm not sure whether there is more coffee in my future today, and there hasn't been any in my past today, large it was).

While there are any number of things I *could* be doing, what I'm choosing to do is work my way through tabs that I have open. So:

Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions

...and apparently everything else I have open in this window is fic. So, off to read fic for the next half hour instead :}

Fic rec (WIP) -- Check Please fandom

Jul. 16th, 2017 05:07 pm
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I don't normally read WIP fics, let alone rec them, but on days when I'm looking for something new to read, I frequently have a look at just about anything that turns up in the Check Please! fandom, and this one is just too fabulous to wait and see if it ever gets finished.

The story is self reflection by sinspiration, and it is currently at 12 chapters/25K words.

slightly spoilery description

This is an AU where Bitty isn't on the hockey team, because he hadn't had to give up figure skating. At least, not until he started transitioning -- he's a women's champion at the point the story starts (although the details about the figure skating takes a little while to show up, details that indicate his transition turn up in the first scene, almost the first paragraph). He's already friends with most of the hockey team at the point the story opens, but not with Jack. This is the meet-cute of the story, one seat left in the coffee shop, Bitty practicing for his French class, Jack horrified at his pronunciation and offering to help. Eventually they work out who their friends in common are, and the story mooches on from there.

Story says 'no archive warnings apply', but there are canon-compliant references to past abuse, and either past or current transphobia. Bitty's parents aren't great, but his figure skating coach is a delight (and absolutely the kind of old bat that one finds in well established coaches in many many places/sports).

Hugo Novellas

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:08 pm
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In the order that I would vote for them:
  1. Penric and the Shaman (Lois McMaster Bujold) -- it probably helps that I already know the world in which this is set, and I loved it both in the previous stories, and this one. The complexity of the plot, the development of the story, the world building, the solution to the issue -- I loved everything about it. And I love the way that 'author's requirements for coincidence' is hand-waved as 'interference by the gods'.
  2. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (Kij Johnson) -- I went in to this one unsure. The title felt off (although it was obvious later where it had come from) and the early sections felt like the aspects of Dorothy Sayers 'Gaudy Night' that I had disliked. The idea of reading a story about how hard women have to fight not to end up further behind felt like more than I had the energy for. And then I realised where it was going. This is a transformative work, and is a fabulous reimaging of the source work (very spoilery). The understated horrors slowly collect together to be quite the horror story, without ever being gruesome.
  3. Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) -- Beautiful creepy mix of horror and fantasy. I loved the way that the idea of going through a door into a different world was codified, that those doors lead different places. The story itself was an interesting exploration of the way that people cope with coming back from those worlds where they fit, and how it can go so wrong. There are aspects of the plot that I was spoiled for, and I'm not sure whether I think that made it easier to deal with -- had I not gone in expecting it to be horror, I might have struggled more.
  4. A Taste of Homey (Kai Ashante Wilson) -- I read this one a while ago, and failed to make notes on it that I can find. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, what I liked most was the male/male romance plot line, and the interesting playing with time that was done.
  5. The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaVelle) -- I wanted to like this one more than I did. Gritty and gruesome and gory. And plain nasty, in the way that so much Cthulu mythos is. I get that the racism was so necessary to the story, and that it was probably understated in many ways, but it was heart breaking to read. Towards the middle, I struggled a bit to keep going — I was a bit on the bored side, but in the end it was worth it.
  6. The census taker (China Mievelle) -- As a general rule, I don't like Mievelle's work, so it was no real surprise that I didn't like this one either. I had no idea what is going on here and in the end, I don’t really care. There is too much elided by literary wankery, and not real story or idea of what is going on. I’m not interesting in deducing whether the unnamed woman was murdered or ran away.
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I've been having a couple (three? four) days of being a bit unwell, a bit busy, a bit unmotivated. And so I've completely failed to remember to write anything. However, I've managed to finish two of the things on my started by not finished list - the second pussy hat (for friend S) and the reading of the Hugo novellas. I'll do a review post on that shortly.

Trying to work out what I've done in the meantime. I did some sewing on the 365 day quilt project (I'm now up to sewing the block for the 9th of February, and I have that through to the 13th cut out already). I'm not counting that in this, because it is a whole day project, not something I've picked up with the belief that I'll finish it in a day. However, I've been working on reconciling the team accounts for June, and it isn't going well (every time I find something I've missed, I make things worse. And I found something that may or may not mess up for June, but I *think* it is just how much someone owes, so that is okay). So that has been added to the list. And I've started cataloguing some of the set of books that have arrived, so that is another thing on the list. I'm feeling reasonably pleased that said list is still at six active items though, so I'm at least making progress on the things that I've started. At the point, I have two craft, two reading, and two paper work tasks.

Oh, and tables. Grouchiegrrl and family have moved house, and their new place doesn't have enough space for their lovely table. This is a much nicer table than the one that we have had for a while (also inherited from someone moving house). So, our table has gone with chaosmanor, to replace a rickety table that they have (along with one of the three tablecloths that were made specially to go with that table - one is in the wash, and the other is missing), grouchiegrrl's table has come to live with us (in theory long term loan, but we'll see how that pans out), and I'm pretty happy all up. The new one shrinks down to about the space that the old one did with the extra leaf in, so it isn't taking any extra space, but it also expands to a 1300mm square, allowing for three people on a side, when there are people visiting.

...ariaflame, their friend M, youngest, middlest, and their friend T are watching 'Mystery Men'. I lasted about 20 minutes before the sitting still and focusing was too much, but I'm at least listening to it (it is reminding me of things that I didn't enjoy - Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog, for one). Friend S was using the new table as a sewing cutting table, but has wandered off to do something else. And I'm about to a) write the novellas reviews, then b) read the novelettes, and then c) attempt to finish up the book cataloguing. Hopefully, this isn't too optimistic a list!

Life without Dead Time

Jul. 14th, 2017 11:09 pm
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The Situationists famously sought life without dead time and whilst I cannot say my own life fits the wild and tangential excesses of such bohemians, at least not in these elder decades, the past several days have certainly had their share of activity. Nevertheless I do worry sometimes that so much of my work these days - indeed these years - now falls under the category of 'boring but important'. Yet, much of this fits my intellectual disposition. I despair when I see people try to force the complex problems of reality into simply solutions, because these are invariably simply wrong, missing the issues of scope-appropriate solutions, partiality etc. It is not helped when the country's Prime Minister, of all people, remarked "The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only laws that apply in Australia is the law of Australia", in the context of a debate on encryption.

Workwise the week started with the regular two days of Introduction to Linux and High Performance Computing and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing. Not a bad group at all, and there were some plenty of awake individuals, especially on the second day. Later in the week spent a better part of a day carefully working through a particularly troubling install of Gaussian to ensure there had been no precision errors in compilation (their hadn't been, of course). Confirmation was received for a presentation at the HPC Advisory Conference, so there will be another visit to Perth at the end of the month. In addition an abstract has been put in for the Open Stack Summit in Sydney for November. Next week will be a training course for the neurologists at Orygen; I hold this one in very high regard - their work is extremely important.

In more social events, Wednesday night was our regular gaming session, and the second session of Andrew D's Megatraveller campaign, with an unexpected test of the combat system and the acquisition of a starship from religious fanatics. Thursday was the Bastille night evening and we had nephew Luke visiting. True to the day (or at least an educated peasant's version thereof), I cooked a pretty tasty coq au vin with a jug of French red, a selection of cheeses and fruit, and all to the sounds of Quatre mains pour une révolution. We provided a potted story of our journey, along with an exposition of the salacious tales of Serge Gainsbourg. Appropriately I have composed tonight my thoughts about Bastille day, and its contemporary relevance.