Letters!

Feb. 20th, 2017 02:33 pm
ceb: (Default)
[personal profile] ceb
I need to get round to some letter-writing activism. If you need to also, then you are welcome at my house (in Cambridge) this evening to do so, from 8:30ish. DM me if you need the address.
[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m trying to get going again so I’ll just dive right in.

It’s been a slow, cool summer. Tomatoes hardly ripening (just a few handfuls, mostly cherries) and I wonder whether I’ll have any to preserve this year?  Despite the cool weather, things are slowly coming along including the corn my neighbour is growing for both of us (I’m responsible for pumpkins), enough zucchini (but not too much), and self-seeded greens starting to sprout.  Thanks to the cool weather I also had a crop of mushrooms off a compost delivery, which quickly made it into several meals.

I set up a weighing station by the back door, inspired by hearing of a Melbourne acquaintance who grew 350kg of food on her 1/14th acre block, but I have to admit I’ve only weighed in a couple of kilos in these first two months of 2017.

Corn in my neighbour’s backyard
A cool summer
Weighing station by the back door

Pasta with pesto genovese, zucchini and mushrooms.

A friend left me a basketful of plums, which got made into plum mead. There’s a funny story involving condoms as airlocks – check my instagram.  Just recently, I’ve been picking with a group who are starting a project called the Hidden Orchard, which aims to harvest fruit from unloved fruit trees in people’s backyards, as well as pruning and maintaining the trees throughout the year.  I’ve also been picking elderberries, to make elderberry syrup and perhaps elderberry mead.  I posted an elderberry recipe on my Tinyletter – check the archives.

Plums and op shop books from Carla
Elderberries don’t smell of anything, despite what Monty Python say
Hidden Orchard harvest is donated to community groups


A month or so back I moved into the smallest bedroom of the house – really very small, just enough room for a single bed and a chest of drawers – just to see how I felt about it.  Conclusion: I like being in a small room, like curling up in a nest, with nothing else in there but my personal effects. It is very important to keep it tidy, though, as there’s no room for a “floordrobe” or any other clutter to pile up.

I’ve also been making salves from calendula oil (calendula harvested and dried in spring, then infused in olive oil) and beeswax left over from candles. I made two kinds, one very thick that I use on my cracked heels, any small scratches, or even as a lip balm; the second is less waxy and I use it just as a general moisturiser.

My nest
Keeping things tidy, konmari style
Calendula balms

Visiting Jonai Farms’ happy pigs
Touring Yonke’s property as part of the PDC

Finally, I’ve been out and about. A few weeks ago I paid a visit to my friends Tammi and Stuart at Jonai Farms, then on to Daylesford where I spent a great day with Patrick, Meg and Woody of Artist as Family. It was so interesting I didn’t even take any photos, but they gave me heaps of great info and reassurance about living car-free in smaller country towns, and they have a house that’s very similar in style to what I want!  More recently I’ve been doing a Permaculture Design Course with the local permaculture guild, which means regular treks out to a friend’s farm where most of the course is held, plus additional site visits to other properties.  Everywhere I go now, I think about how I’d get there by bike. Next month, I hope, I’ll have the opportunity to try it!

tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/76: Rebel of the Sands -- Alwyn Hamilton
"How long had it been since you’d seen a First Being before the Buraqi came into town? Magic and metal don’t mix well. We’re killing it. But it’s fighting back." [loc. 993]


Amani Al’Hiza is sixteen, good with a gun, and being lined up as her uncle's next bride. She is unenthusiastic about the idea, and disguises herself as a boy to enter a sharpshooting contest. The prize money will be enough to help her escape Deadshot (a backwater, deadend desert town which has accreted around a munitions factory) and make for the city, where she believes a better life can be had. slightly spoilery )

"IT ME"

Feb. 20th, 2017 12:47 am
rosefox: "You mean the girls were topless the whole time and I never noticed?" (oblivious)
[personal profile] rosefox
Thanks to a link from [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch, today I learned about queerplatonic relationships (a term coined in 2010 by [personal profile] kaz and [personal profile] meloukhia) and spent several hours going "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE'S A NAME FOR WHAT I DO". A good primer is here and a post on QP not being "romance-lite" is here. I want to quote both of them at length. I want to hug them. This is amazing.

I'm not aro or ace. But there is absolutely a third category of relationship in my life, in addition to partnership and friendship. I've been calling it "partner-level friends" or "my [name]" because I didn't have a word for it. And now I do. Wow. I haven't felt this seen since I read the relationship anarchy manifesto. (Which is very relevant.)

While discussing this with a friend, he asked how "romantic" was being defined, since both "aromantic" and "platonic" were being defined in opposition to it, and I realized I didn't have a good answer. (Merriam-Webster doesn't either. Their definition of "romantic" points to "romance", which points to "love affair", which points back to "romantic".) After some discussion on Twitter, [twitter.com profile] numbathyal pointed me to this piece by a possible aromantic who asked a romantic to define romance. The definition that came out of their conversation was: "Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, 'good company', or emotional intimacy." That jibes pretty well with my experience, which I described as follows:
When I look at people I'm in love with, my body responds. My heart swells—that's literally a feeling I get in my chest, not a metaphor. My heart rate goes up and I feel a little breathless. My pupils probably dilate. I want to be physically touching the person in some way. I'm SUPER touchy-feely with X and J. Constant small touches as I walk past them. Always sitting as near as I can get.

When I look at people I'm in QP relationships with, I have a different set of reactions. Hardly any physical reaction at all. I do like hugging them, but I don't feel the same urge to be in contact. I get much more of a squee reaction. My brain lights up. It's still something I would call chemistry, but a different kind of chemical reaction.

Things romantic and QP relationships have in common for me: I feel a profound sense of safety. I can relax around the person. I say "I love you" and it's never by rote. I want regular communication of some sort. I feel more myself in the person's company.

All of this is shaped by my tendency toward feeling very definitely like I "click" with certain people. Often upon meeting them. A little alert box pops up that says "You and this person could have something amazing together! Pursue it!". I can tell you the exact moment that happened with both X and J, and with all four of my QP people. So I don't know what "romantic" looks like for people who don't have that zing or sniff test or instalove or whatever you want to call it. I spent literal months knowing I was going to fall in love with J and waiting for it to happen. Had to WD40 the "in love" switch. But it finally flipped hard and has never flipped back. <3

This is also not what my romantic relationships looked like when I was in my teens or 20s. Much healthier now. :) Twenty years ago, desperate longing to be loved and valued was part and parcel of romance for me. Now I love myself.
Some of the useful links that came up in conversation (h/t [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch and [twitter.com profile] numbathyal):

Sexuality and romance as pet elephants that are invisible to ace and aro people
Limerence and "platonic attraction"
How to write about queerplatonic relationships in fiction (lots and lots of useful links there)
Various concepts of greyromanticism

I was amused to choose "oblivious" as the userpic keyword and have this userpic come up, because at first it seemed totally inappropriate for a post discussing nonsexual relationships. In its original context (Sluggy Freelance, if anyone remembers it), it's being said by a guy who is very into topless women and sad that he missed a chance to ogle some. But I've always used it because I am genuinely the sort of person to not really notice that an attractive woman is topless, because we're too busy talking about other things and connecting on other levels. So maybe it's appropriate after all.

Ah, spring....

Feb. 19th, 2017 10:08 am
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
It's amazing what riding GB on a warm, sunny spring morning will do for my mood, especially when he's going really well (for a geriatric!) and we get to have a nice session!
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/75: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -- David Mitchell

"Doctor, do you believe in the Soul’s existence?"
Marinus prepares, the clerk expects, an erudite and arcane reply.
"Yes."
"Then where . . ." Jacob indicates the pious, profane skeleton ". . . is it?"
"The soul is a verb," he impales a lit candle on a spike, "not a noun."[loc. 3042]

not significantly spoilery )

On taste and scent

Feb. 18th, 2017 09:39 pm
ruthi: a photograph of a dormouse eating a berry (Default)
[personal profile] ruthi
Tolu balm has that unfortunate smell that I associate with the Sano™ Ylang-ylang air-freshener that has made me dislike Ylang-ylang.

Bloom Perfumery have a sample of Tolu balm with some perfumes that use it -
The one currently on me is PG10.1 Bouquet Massaï
And it goes on and is very floral and then dries down and does the thing that says 'ylang-ylang' to me, even though it does not list ylang-ylang in its notes. So maybe that is the Tolu balm. Which is handy to know. It's ... sort of warm and floral-ish?

...I like knowing I dislike some rare and expensive ingredients, because often on a list of things to buy/ on a menu / the thing that most appeals to me is the most expensive one.


I went out for a meal with the beloved.
We went to Tozi, which is an Italian restaurant near Victoria Station. We went there in December, mostly because we'd been to Shepherds to buy wrapping paper, and it is close. And Tozi was so lovely we decided to go again at some point.

We ordered almost entirely different things from what we had ordered before - some of it because they have a seasonally-changing menu, some of it because other things caught our eyes this time.
But the beloved still had the agnolotti in brodo, because it is a fantastic dish.

There was a dish of Buffalo ricotta ravioli with black truffle, that the beloved ordered. And the ravioli were good and the sauce was good, and I discovered that I do not like black truffle. It has a kind of metallic taste to me, and it feels a bit bitter and - off.
Hurray! another thing I can know I do not like.

*

I got around to trying Poudre de Riz in the perfume samples and it has tolu balm in it, but it's a gourmand, not a floral, so I do like it.

2016/74: Medicus -- Ruth Downie

Feb. 18th, 2017 08:11 pm
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/74: Medicus -- Ruth Downie
Ruso closed his eyes briefly and dreamed of a world where women stayed quietly at home and sewed things and understood the value of Modesty and Obedience–not to mention Not Turning Up Dead Under Suspicious Circumstances. When he opened them again, he was still in Britannia.[loc. 2317]


Gaius Petreius Ruso has family obligations, debts, an ex-wife about whom he's still bitter, and a new posting as an army doctor at the fort of Deva, in north-west Britannia.

He's hoping that his move to Britain will signal a change in his fortune: and so it does, though perhaps not quite in the way he hopes. not very spoilery )

[Links] Patterns in agriculture

Feb. 18th, 2017 02:53 pm
dancefloorlandmine: (Art)
[personal profile] dancefloorlandmine
Photographer Josh Smith's aerial photographs of the patterns made by Australian agriculture are rather striking.

And here they are.

worklog

Feb. 18th, 2017 10:57 am
[personal profile] artsyhonker
16th Feb was a difficult day for me, and in the end I said "sod it" to work and did some gardening instead.

Yesterday was a bit better, but though I was working on composing for part of it, I didn't really... get anywhere.

I think on days like that, it would be better for me to set a timer for 30 minutes and if I haven't written anything, give up and do some reading or some listening.

It wasn't a completely wasted day, though, because there was a ULCC rehearsal in the evening. I always feel better after a good sing. We rehearsed Tallis 'Sancte Deus' which I love; it has that ambiguity over major and minor, and instability of key, that I enjoy so much. This time I noticed that in the final "Amen" section, every part has a sort of ascending pattern: the highest note in the phrase is one higher than the last, for three phrases. This makes me think that the word underlay in the alto part of our copies is wrong, as they have one more "Amen" than the rest of us; whoever put it in (rather than just having one very long A----------men) clearly wasn't paying attention to that.

We also worked on John Ireland's Mass setting, which is rather lovely, and SS Wesley 'Wash me Throughly', which again is harmonically somewhat twisty.

Today is a sort-of work day, too. I've moved the draft of Winter Stars onto the computer, and I'm participating very gently in the February Crowdfunding Creative Jam.

Lent starts soon and I've been thinking about a Lenten discipline to take up. One strong contender: "some PhD reading and some PhD listening every day". Sundays are exempt. I don't generally give up physical things (chronic pain means my flesh is, essentially, self-mortifying already), and there's a bit of me that is thinking "yes, but a Lenten discipline shouldn't be something you ought to do anyway" -- but if taking this up as a religious discipline would allow me to get into the habit and stop being avoidant about it, then it would be a good thing, to be sure. And working through fears and blocks, getting over one's self if you like, is very much part of Lenten discipline, for me; I cannot focus on, listen to and obey Christ if I am so busy avoiding my fears that I am unable to fulfil my academic or creative duties.

That said, there are other contenders, not for discussion here, which may yet win out; I haven't decided. The biggest danger for me is of choosing too many things, so that my Lenten discipline looks something like "give up snooze button, go to Morning Prayer, 2h bike ride, reading, spend no money" and I give up after half a week, or cannot schedule it around other commitments.
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
An arrival to the South Island was met by fires in Christchurch. As if that poor city has not suffered enough from the terrible earthquakes of 2011 which still scar the city. The famed central Cathedral is now but a shell of what it once was, and like all great ruins is gradually being taken by nature. The official part of my visit was to the University HPC team who have shfted most of their facilities to their national infrastructure. Still, I managed to have enough spare time to vist the impressive Canterbury Museaum and take a walk around the botanical gardens before spending a night in a former prison cell, which is certainly an imaginative use of such facilities.

The following morning caught an early flight to Dunedin and chatted with a final year engineering student who had also apparently had been on the flight with me to Christchurch. Her home was Dunedin and her trip to Melbourne was her first overseas jaunt. Arrival at Dunedin was faced with the announcement that their famous chocolate factory, would be closing down. For many this is heartbreaking; it is one of Dunedin's prize businesses, even the home of Dunedin's first computer. For the three hundred and fifty workers there it is absolutely devastating; and capital does what it always does, moving to the cheapest location. For advanced economies, I often point to the example of Germany who still have a powerful manufacturing industry.

My first day was spent with David Eyers and Jim Cheetham who cover HPC and security respectively, and their insights on such subjects will be taken home and again, as is my want, visited the Otago Museum. I've also been contacting many people I know in NZ about whether they would be interested in taking the recently retired Avoca system across The Ditch. I rather like the idea of NZ having a Top500 system on its shores. The following day was free time and the opportunity was taken to visit our South Pacific base are looking after it. The musicians who live there are doing a great job and apparently a new LP, "Lodge Music" will be released in the near future. I'm quite looking forward to it.

Uh?

Feb. 17th, 2017 11:26 pm
rbarclay: (Default)
[personal profile] rbarclay
This morning, I got up as usual, went about the usual morning ritual (drinking coffee and reading email), then got on the bike and headed towards work. Only that I found it extremely exhausting, like driving against a 30kph headwind - even though it was only a light breeze (say, 5kph).
But ok, still doable, even if going to be a bit late - I was struggling to maintain 15kph, where 22kph is normal.
Then, about 4km from 'ork, I suddenly started to freeze&shiver. Uh, whatTF? A minute earlier I was still sweating like a pig! Couldn't, for the life of me, manage the two short sprints that save me 5 minutes at the traffic lights.
At the office, I did the bare minimum (chairing our weekly team meeting, trying to keep it as short as possible), then let SWMBO take me home in the car. Where I immediately crashed on the couch and slept for 6 hours straight.

And now everything is back to "utterly normal".
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Okay, this is sort of a long shot, but I figured I'd ask and see if anybody knows.

I just learned that there's a medication available in other countries – particularly in Italy, where apparently most of the research on it was done – for Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. It's also for other organic brain insults like stroke.

It's not a cure, to be sure, but it had good results in placebo controlled trials [PDF] for relieving some of the symptoms: improving memory and cognitive performance, reducing irritability and other symptoms of depression. It's apparently now regularly used in those countries.

Amazingly – and yet not – this medication not approved as a drug by the FDA. It is, however, readily available in the US OTC as a nutritional supplement. (See my extensive discussion on drug vs nutritional supplement in the US if you're unclear what this means.)

I just had a conversation with a neurologist who told me he literally has never heard of it.

I'm getting that sinking feeling. Here's an actual medication that apparently is quite safe and well tolerated (if, as usual, the patient doesn't have a fluke allergy to it), and relieves symptoms of some awful conditions, and is regularly prescribed in other countries.... But because it's a mere "nutritional supplement"... well, I suspect suspicion of the category "nutritional supplements" means they don't get prescribed to – or provided to – people in nursing homes.

So I thought I'd ask you, gentle readers in the US (or, heck the Commonwealth countries, just indicate which in your comments), for those of you who are party, whether as medical professionals or caregivers, to the medication regimens of someone(s) with any form of dementia, including Alzheimer's, whether your patient has been offered any of:

• Gliatilin
• Delecit
• choline alphoscerate / choline alfoscerate
• L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine
• Alpha GPC

These are all synonyms, and the last one is the name it's best known by in the US. If you call up, say, Cambridge Naturals, and ask for "Gliatilin", I expect they won't know what you're talking about; but if you call and ask for "Alpha GPC" they'll be all like, "sure, you want we should hold a bottle at the register for you?"

I'm not even concerned if your patient is taking it – just whether it's even come up as an option.

Both negative and positive answers are valuable.
lovingboth: (Default)
[personal profile] lovingboth
On the way to IKEA on Tuesday, JA and I went through Hucknall, where there was this (click on it to get a bigger version):



That's a bucket of water, isn't it?

The fridge man cometh back again....

Feb. 17th, 2017 07:24 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
This morning, Mike woke me with the worrying news that the fridge and cupboard doors were not longer properly attached.

This afternoon, the fridge man came back and moved the attachment points to ones that are, in retrospect, far more sensible (we were both a bit "yeah, should have thought of that").

Fingers crossed....

Also this afternoon cameth the second guy to measure up and quote for the hall and living room floor. The first guy said "The floor's a bit uneven, we'll need to put something down first to level it off". The second guy, who was actually a floor fitter not a salesman, was really worried about the unevenness of the floor, and thinks we should get fake (vinyl) wood instead because it's cheaper and will work on an uneven floor.

I'm actually quite tempted: I'll be able to use a steam mop on it, for a start, which you can't do with actual wood (you have to use a very-lightly-damped cloth/mop, which sounds like a marvellous way to turn muddy paw prints into a thin even coating over the whole floor). When I asked first guy about dealing with mud, he said "you can wipe it up with damp kitchen roll", which didn't really seem like a satisfactory long-term solution when Jo's left a trail around the room: I think he thought I meant actual lumps of the stuff. Second guy, on the other hand, immediately said that he didn't think we should go with the kind of (fairly rough and grained) wood surface we'd been planning because it's a nightmare to keep mud-free when you have dogs.

Mike's slightly coming round to the idea, but wants to see it in a house. We shall see.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

Sequel! Squeal! This is the book that follows A Darker Shade of Magic, starting approximately four months after the end of the previous book. Like the previous book, there are multiple strands of narrative that braid together. And it's been out for a year and I didn't notice. Weird, how that happens.

Anyway, eminently readable. If you liked #1, you will liekly like this one. #3 should be out in a week or so ,so all is good.

Raging against the machine.

Feb. 17th, 2017 07:50 pm
hennes: Lavender (Default)
[personal profile] hennes
Actually raging against Microsoft, and needing a place to vent.


In octotber last year I decided that increasing my excel skills, learning some more VBA and discovering how access works was a good idea. (My last test was with access 97 which was *horrible*)
I bought Microsoft office 2016 64 bit at a site called digital licence.

It was registered to a user called 'firstname+dl@stack.nl'.
(Obviously myfirstname was my actual name. And that is a used email address).

I receive a key/CoA and a link to download the program.
That link was on an external site (https://setup.office.com/) which requred me to create yet another account. I tried the same email address as username as I used before.

It was rejected for unknown reasons.

I tried myfirstname+office2016.stack.nl.
It was rejected for unknown reasons.

I triedmy firstname+download_office2016.stack.nl
It was rejected for unknown reasons.

I tried a dozen more emails variations. But with my regular domain as well with various external sites for throw away mail adresses. Nothing worked. After an hour I assumed that trying it at a later time might be more productive.

A week later I tried again, and again, and again.


Really, has MS internal problems. Might I be unlucky?
Lets wait a few more days.

That did not help. MS still does now allow me to create some account. Weird.



A few months later. I try again, and again, and again, and again.
I make a typo and end up with firstname+download_offic_e2016.microsoft.com' user username.
Suddenly it is accepted. Apparently any account with *office* in it was banned, without mentioning that to the user!

Arg. Please fire whoecver decided that that was acceptable without clear error message.
So many hours wasted on this.


OK, now I got a MS account so I can download office. Hopefully I can throw away the account afterwards. Go to the download site. Login again. Enter key.

"Sorry, we cannot find this product key in our database"

Apparently if you do not redeem it [nearly] immediately then your key is lost.



Email sent to the place I bought it from.
Wait one week.
Phone call since this is taking too long for a place which prides itself on cusomer service.
Quick pickup. Claim that the mail did not arrive. Forward same mail from the BCC: to myself.


One mail that I did not use the key. (OK, only logical) and next day I got a new key.


Log in, MS account suspended (No reason mentioned, but it might have to do with trying to registered a key a few dozen times).

Create yet another new account.
Paste key.
Yes, download is starting!

10 second later. WTF, why a 3 MB installer. Nooooooooo! not oline installers! Curse them!

Testing it anyway:
* No change to choose installation path.
* no chance to choose which items to install.
* No chance to choose regular or legacy (32bit version).

Instead if installs all office 2016 apps into a default location.


Now I did not want outlook, nor word, nor power point, nor....
I wanted excel and access. And Lync is acceptable.
I did not want any other unused cruft on my limited space SSD.

Lets sleep on it and try again.


Next morning: click on the small letters to get an off-line installer. Yay.
Downloading again. Mostly the same files as I downloaded yesterday.
Sadly it does the same thing.

I look somewhat closer. Apparently you do not need to run the main setup.exe but you manually need to enter a folder and run setup64.exe.

First burning question: "Why is Microsoft unable to detect that I run a 64 bit version of my OS. Maybe they should talk to the makers of windows to receive info on how things work."

Seond impression. Argh! It installed everything again!




Time to Google:

Aparently I need to install the Office 2016 Deployment Tool and edit XML files if I want to do a fairly normal install of office 2016. Nothing fancy. Just what a nearly average end user would need.

a whole different world

Feb. 16th, 2017 10:22 pm
flaviomatani: (computery)
[personal profile] flaviomatani
Opened the Youtube app in my TV, which I had never done. Couldn't be bothered to log in letter-by-letter with the TV's remote so just had a browse. It's an eye opener. The documentary and tech sections are full of the Ancient Hidden Wisdom of the Pyramids, the Antigravity Spacecraft that the USA manufactured using alien technology, General Flynn's Was A Political Assassination, Secrets of Area 51, Massive Lake of Molten Carbon Under US and a whole lot of other stuff like that. I'm not surprised now that people voted for Trump, for Brexit. I don't think Youtube moulds public opinion like that but it will confirm people's biases and wild beliefs, supporting them with a deep authoritative voice off screen and CGI or carefully edited footage.
rbarclay: (laughingcat)
[personal profile] rbarclay
.. gadget-hungry PFYs.

I think this is now the 3rd graphics card I've bought off of him because he just had to have the newest&shiniest one (GTX980, o/c, for 200 eurobucks).