Moar exercise

Jun. 27th, 2017 07:51 pm
hooloovoo_42: (Default)
[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I've been swimming regularly, doing a km a week. After work today I went for an induction at the gym.  A very nice young lady, who was probably still in nappies the last time I went to a gym, showed me around and gave me instructions on how the high tech machines work.  I'm booked in for a goal setting session next week so I can get a personalised plan.

Somehow, between all of this and Jado, I'm gonna have to get fitter, aren't I?  Hopefully, by January, my grading may not be so knackering physically, however much they try and push us mentally. 

Early night

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:26 pm
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[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
Dropping off on the sofa last night didn't help much.  I was in bed by 11.30 and asleep by just gone 12, but awake again a little after 1am.  I did get some sleep and was having a lovely dream when the arguments on Today got too loud and I realised I must have told Alexa's alarm to stop twice and it was time to get up.

I swam 500m at lunch time.  Tonight I have picked raspberries, made yogurt, eaten cake, sorted my kit for the gym tomorrow and watched The Handmaid's Tale.  Now I think I shall retire and see if I can manage several hours of continuous sleep.

Spoilers, sweetie

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:32 pm
nineveh_uk: Cover illustration for "Strong Poison" in pulp fiction style with vampish Harriet. (Strong Poison)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
Some recent media viewing

Versailles

It's absolute tosh, but it's fun tosh. There's a 10 minute section after each episode in which they tell you which bits are actually vaguely connected to reality, and which aren't. For someone with very little knowledge of the history of the period it manages to be quite educational. I certainly had no idea that in 1672 the Dutch Prime Minister was set upon by a mob in The Hague who not only killed, but possibly ate parts of him.

On another note, Wikipedia led me to this portrait of Louis XIV showing an early example of the contorted breasts and bum figure so beloved of bad film posters and novel covers.

My Cousin Rachel

Did Daphne de Maurier have an ill-advised affair with someone she met at a continental holiday resort? It would explain a lot. I enjoyed this very much, and finally found out the ending having somehow managed to avoid spoilers for about 20 years since I heard the first half as a radio play. I should like to read the book; the film maintained the ambiguity well, but I wonder how much the story relies for its depth on a certain interiority that is hard to maintain on film, but I can imagine being there in a novel.

Doctor Who

I've enjoyed this series very much in a low-key kind of way. I've really enjoyed Capaldi, and Peal Mackie is excellent as Bill. It's been nice to have a companion with no particular mystery or backstory to her, just someone going round the galaxy having adventures with the Doctor, and Mackie portrays a combination of cheerful friendliness and curiosity that works very well. Not to mention added fun from Michelle Gomez as the Master.

Read more... )

Sunday

Jun. 25th, 2017 11:24 pm
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[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I've been productive, but could have done more today.  Usual houseworkly crap - laundry, dishwasher, shopping, bins etc.  Add in the summer chore of fruit picking.   The back garden is seriously overgrown and needs weeding, but it rained this morning and I CBA to pull damp weeds.  

I had an osteopath appointment booked for tomorrow, but she rang the other day to ask if we could reschedule.  The only other day I can do next week is Friday, so that's that.  I've tweaked my back and could have done with seeing her tomorrow, but will have to cope for another few days.  I have noticed that I'm not taking so many painkillers at the moment.  Part of this is a conscious decision and part of it is because I'm trying to stretch more and swim more, so even though I know it's out of alignment, it's not as painful as it could be.

I just watched the season finale of Agents of SHIELD.  I know it's a bit late to have Joss Weedon's babies, but the offer is there.  He really does do fantastically evil Big Bads and then manages to dispose of them suitably and give us a totally off the wall ending.  My brain is going through serious overload.

And now I'm boggling at Tim Brooke Taylor singing the words of "Milkshake" to the tune of "We'll Gather Lilacs".  Oh, Radio 4!

Swimming tomorrow.  Gym induction on Tuesday.  My laundry basket is overflowing with PE kit!
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[personal profile] white_hart
I tend to buy books in the Women's Press SF imprint when I see them in second-hand shops, and picked up this collection of short stories (or really, one novella and some short stories) in a bookshop we passed while walking at Easter. It dates from 1986, although only one of the stories was published for the first time in this collection; the others, including the title novella, had been previously published at various points between 1971 and 1980.

The title novella tells of the adventures of revolutionary leader Jane Saint as she travels through an alternate dimension or astral plane, seeking to find a way to make a fundamental change to the natures of men and women which will allow humanity to move towards a more equal society. She moves through a shifting and often symbolic landscape, helped variously by an alchemist and his wife, a philosophical talking dog, a griffin-demon hybrid creature, Joan of Arc, and her own daughters; her adventures are absurdist and surreal and told with a great deal of subtle wit and humour.

The other stories are much shorter. 'Woe, Blight and, in Heaven, Laughs' is a rather grim postapocalyptic reworking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 'Gordon's Women' is a more cheerful variant on the total-male-domination-secret-female-underground setup of Suzy McKee Charnas's Holdfast novels; 'The Message', which was probably my favourite story in the book, is an almost-realist story of lonely, repressed fiftysomething Edna, whose attempts to deliver a message handed to her by a dying person in hospital take her on a quest around her neighbourhood; 'Heads Africa Tails America' was very surreal and really left me cold; and 'The Pollyanna Enzyme' posits a situation where it turns out that the one thing that really does drive humanity to live in peace and harmony is its imminent extinction.

Definitely worth a read if you happen across a copy.

I've found the answer!

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:40 pm
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[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
 Today is seven months since I started at the council.  I'm just hoping that things continue to be this good for the next 15 years and 3 weeks! [1]

Referring to my previous post about DDC: the movie, I had someone of an epiphany this afternoon.  On my way out at going home time, I was followed down the stairs by Professor Snape.  Being a polite sort, I held the door for him at the bottom of the stairs and asked if he had any plans for the weekend.  He said that he was taking his daughters to Cadbury World and they were really excited.  He, on the other hand, doesn't like chocolate.  

So there you have it.  Poor old Severus was scarred by being picked on by the popular kids and spurned by his one true love.  This guy is just a pillock [2] because he doesn't like chocolate.  I can think of no other explanation!  

[1] Always assuming that I actually *get* to retire without them moving my state pension age *again*!
[2] My boss was expounding [3] today about how he was a PITA at one of the senior manager meetings this week.  
[3] Closed door, strictly IA ears only!

Reading: The Mountains of Mourning

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:25 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
If the Miles Vorkosigan of The Warrior's Apprentice is Francis Crawford of Lymond In Space, in the novella The Mountains of Mourning he's basically Lord Peter Wimsey In An Isolated Rural District On An Alien Planet*, as he's sent as his father's representative to investigate an alleged case of infanticide in a small village in a remote corner of Vorkosigan District.

For a short book, this packs a lot in. As well as a competent whodunnit plot, the story explores the backstory of Barrayaran culture and social attitudes, particularly attitudes to disability, and more universal themes of generational differences in social attitudes. It's the sort of science fiction that doesn't really feel like science fiction; with the exception of the interrogation drug fast-penta there's no futuristic techology and it's hard to believe it's set in the far future instead of, say, the 1930s. It's an interesting and thoughtful read, and I liked it a lot (though I was a bit taken aback at "Ma" apparently being a formal honorific for older women, but maybe that's just Barrayar).

*The presence of a minor character called Pym, on a planet where most names appear to be Russian or Slavic in origin, did nothing whatsoever to dispel the Wimsey associations my brain kept making, either.

Out of vodka error

Jun. 22nd, 2017 11:34 pm
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[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I seem to have run out of raspberry wodka.  Fortunately, that nice Mr Waitrose has sent me a voucher for cheap booze, so I will have to pick some up over the weekend.  Or I could fly somewhere and pick some up at the duty free at LHR and get a new One Water bag while I'm at it.

The weather has finally cooled down a little and it's a much more bearable 22C in my bedroom with all the windows open, instead of the 28C it's been for the last few nights.  I'm sufficiently sleep deprived that I haven't trained this week and only went swimming on Monday lunchtime.  I

I've booked an induction at the gym next week to find out how to use the equipment, then I can start rowing or cycling after work. Apparently my leisure centre membership allows me to use a vast number of locations around the UK.  Not bad for less than £240 for the year.

Reading: Tam Lin

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:55 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, which is a modern reworking of the Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin' as a suburban English adolescence, is one of my favourite books ever, so ever since someone mentioned Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, a reworking of the same ballad as the student experience at a Midwestern US liberal arts college, I've wanted to read it, and I finally got to the point where I wanted to read it enough that I actually ordered a copy a couple of months ago. (It isn't published in the UK, so there's no ebook version available, and I do tend to give more thought to purchases of paper books than ebooks.)

Dean's retelling covers three years and a couple of months of Janet Carter's life as a student at Blackstock College, pursuing a liberal arts degree with a major in English literature, building friendships, learning how to get along with a wide range of people and exploring romantic relationships, and at the same time investigating a book-throwing ghost and trying to work out why it is that everyone in the Classics department seems rather strange. Translating the plot of a ballad into a 450-page book leaves a lot of space around the plot for Dean to paint a picture of the college atmosphere, the pressures of studying and the delights and unreality of spending four years isolated from the world, surrounded by learning and other people who want to learn and share your interests. I found the liberal-arts college background familiar enough to make me rather nostalgic for my own student days, but different enough to be fascinating, and I liked the characters and their interactions a lot. I particularly enjoyed the way the friendship between Janet and her two roommates develops, from a very prickly relationship at the start (they have very little in common) to a real friendship and mutual support network, and the way that the college environment masks the very real peculiarities of some of the Classics students.

For me, this felt like the book I wanted Jo Walton's Among Others to be; a literate and literary study of growing up bookish, with a liminal fantastic element. Among Others simply didn't do it for me, but this did, and while I will never love it as much as Fire and Hemlock (which, interestingly, is also a very literary book - I read a lot of things for the first time because they were mentioned in it) I did like it a great deal.

Churchill

Jun. 18th, 2017 09:52 pm
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[personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I went to see the new movie about Churchill, called Churchill, yesterday. I hadn't read any reviews and the trailers didn't really give much away, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  But it wasn't what I expected.  I'm mostly glad it wasn't, but I also wish I'd gone to see Gifted instead yesterday and seen this another time.

The film covers a span of 4 days, from D-Day minus 3 to the day of the invasion itself.  I have no idea how true the events are, but the main premise is that Winston was pretty much opposed to the D-Day plan in the way it happened.  He was wracked with guilt over the scale of the carnage at Gallipoli and didn't want it to happen again.  EIsenhower and Montgomery kept telling him that warfare had moved on in the last 30 years and the greater use of air power and tanks meant that the attack would stand a better chance of overcoming the entrenched defenses.  

In the end, it was Winston's new secretary who said that she didn't want to listen to him making a speech telling her that her fiance had been killed in vain.  Even if he died, she wanted to be told he'd died in a successful campaign that was going to change the course of the war.  

One thing that struck me was the geography and timing of the piece.  Winston was in London at Downing Street and the Cabinet War Rooms, but kept nipping off for meetings in big houses, clearly out of town, with Ike and the chiefs of the various forces.  He also strolled on beaches several times.  Sandy beaches, so clearly not Brighton.

During the war, cars were nowhere near as fast as they are now.  Getting from London to the coast and back would not have been a short journey and would have taken him away from the war he kept insisting he was running.  Also, it was June and I know the weather wasn't brilliant, but he was constantly in an overcoat and thick jacket.  The light seemed wrong for him to be walking on the beach either in early morning or anywhere up to around 9pm.  At the beginning of June, it gets light early and dark late.  In fact, the light seemed generally wrong at all times of the day and I could never work out what time of day it was supposed to be apart from the time we were specifically told it was 6am.

All in all, I can't see it becoming a classic of its genre.  There's a film coming out shortly about Dunkirk with Sir Kenneth of Brannagh in it.  I think that will be more lucrative at the box office - not least because it's likely to get a larger distribution.
nineveh_uk: picture of an elk (elk)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
Too good not to share widely: Mainer attacked by rabid raccoon drowns it in puddle.

HOPE, Maine — While jogging on a familiar, overgrown, wooded trail near her home on a recent warm afternoon, Rachel Borch thought to herself, “what a beautiful day.”

Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon she would end up killing with her bare hands.


Seriously, this has to be read.

Have we got a government yet?

Jun. 15th, 2017 11:05 pm
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
This needs one of those webpages that just says "No".

All week I have been meaning to do a politics post and getting distracted by watching the news all evening. Tonight I managed to switch it off for a bit, but only to make a cake for work tomorrow*. Politics post will have to wait until tomorrow. We probably won't have a government yet, Theresa May will be continuing to demonstrate why she was, on their terms, a success as Conservative Home Secretary**, did OK to start with as PM as long as she didn't have to answer questions, and then failed so much in an election campaign, the DUP [insert rant here] will continue to demonstrate how much the LibDems failed in coalition negotiations, and more awful news will continue to come out about the catastrophic fire at Glenfell Tower. The details of that will also need another post. On the political front, when the Daily Mail has telephoto lens images of May not meeting the public and video of Corbyn doing a walkabout and hugging people, you know that the optics, as they say, are not good for the PM.

*Lemon drizzle. It needs to cook another 10 minutes and then I need to put the blasted drizzle on it and then I need to wait for it to cool so I can take it out. I am out of practice at baking. It doesn't help that I was doing it by the light of an anglepoise lamp on the other side of the room because the lighting circuit fuse blew yesterday evening. The electician is supposed to be turning up tomorrow. At least it is nearly midsummer.

**Being constitutionally incapable of recognising that something is a bad idea and changing tack, overseeing catastrophe by pretending there is no problem, and and being unable to communicate with people as human beings is a really good combination if you're a Tory Home Sec with the goal of survival.

Charity

Jun. 14th, 2017 01:40 pm
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[personal profile] lnr
During the election I filled in a "Vote for Policies" thing, which basically showed you the policies of all the main parties in your area without indication which was which. I got a small tear in my eye at the inclusion in the "Equality and Rights" section when I found one party included:

* Ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion – and work to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland.

Today I learn that the supreme court has ruled that women from Northern Ireland, who cannot legally access an abortion at home, have no right to an abortion on the NHS if they travel to England. I'm enormously saddened. Having already sent some money to the Red Cross (which I hope they'll use to help the poor people who've just lost their homes and friends and loved ones in the tower fire last night) I've now also sent a small donation to the Abortion Support Network, who help women who need to travel and pay to access something which I would receive for free. I sincerely hope this situation is one which is changed in my lifetime, but with the DUP having a disproportionate amount of power in the UK at the moment I'm not sure I feel like it will be soon.

This isn't something that people should have to rely on charity for.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/News/2017/June/Grenfell-Tower-fire
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-40271763
https://www.asn.org.uk/single-donation/
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