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Monday is my birthday, and to celebrate Jane is going to show me around Paris for a long weekend. We're off tomorrow morning, and arriving back on my actual Birthday (Monday), which is _also_ the anniversary of the first time she hugged me (after she came to the airport to meet me off the plane back from my trip around the Southlands).

I arrived home to discover that she had made this wonder in the living room:


And I am looking forward to being allowed to open any of the things underneath it!

(Jim is being left with strict instructions that he is not allowed to eat any of the boxes. Or the tree. Or be sick on any of them. Or peek inside.)

Interesting Links for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
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The Blood is the Life for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:00 am
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Interesting Links for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 12:00 pm
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The Blood is the Life for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:00 am
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Interesting Links for 15-08-2017

Aug. 15th, 2017 12:00 pm

Reading: Murder on the Ballarat Train

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:53 pm
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In the third of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries, Phryne and her companion, Dot, are taking the night train to Ballarat when Phryne is woken from a doze by the smell of chloroform, and discovers that their first-class carriage has been filled with cholorform and that one of the passengers, an elderly lady, is missing. When the missing passenger's body is discovered, her daughter hires Phryne to find her mother's murderer, and Phryne also takes on the task of trying to find the identity of a young girl with amnesia who was found on the same train.

The identity of the murderer was glaringly obvious, but the question of evidence and alibis takes up more time, while the subplot about the amnesiac girl takes a bit more unravelling. The feminist slant of the previous novels remains strongly in evidence here, with Phryne continuing to take down exploiters and abusers of women in the course of her cases, and there are a few knowing nods to other novels; the allusion to Murder on the Orient Express is obvious, but I also spotted a reference to the Megatherium Trust which sets the series firmly in the same world as Peter Wimsey. The series continues to be entertaining feminist fluff and definitely high on my list of comfort reads.

Interesting Links for 14-08-2017

Aug. 14th, 2017 12:00 pm
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Instead, I was seen by a doctor last night at the Out of Hours service, who checked with the Eye Pavillion, who told me to come in at 2pm today. So Jane got me there in one piece (crossing roads and navigating festival-goers being tricky when any change of brightness causes intense pain), the doctor checked it was nothing unexpected, and that my iris was not stuck to my cornea (like last time), and then handed me some Maxidex and Cyclopentolate. The former reduces inflammation, the latter stops anything sticking to anything else while it recovers.

It's a pain, because I have to take the Maxidex hourly for the next two days, then 6 times a day for a week, then 4 times a day for a week, then thrice daily for a week, twice daily for a week, once daily for a week, and then I can finally stop. So I've installed an app on my phone to tell me when I should, and am letting that worry about it for me.

Also, the Cyclopentolate seems to cause my eye to focus slightly less well, so for the week I'm using that I suspect I'll have a bit of a headache (as I do now).

But! I am not in as much pain as I was, and my eye is probably not going to explode. So yay!

Interesting Links for 13-08-2017

Aug. 13th, 2017 12:00 pm

Restarting the writing

Aug. 12th, 2017 09:55 pm
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I've been meaning to write more for ages. But nothing quite seems important to share, which frankly is a pretty silly approach to take.

So, I'm going to try writing more:
Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon, as projected onto the inside of the dome at Dynamic Earth was entertaining, but largely because of the music. The graphics were, frankly, the kind of thing I used to see in 1990s demoscene disks. Basically a more modern take on this kind of thing. Which isn't _bad_ per se. But it was pretty uninspired, and not up to the quality you'd expect Pink Floyd to demand.

The local council are great. Well, when it comes to emergency sewage problems. Where the drain outside the back of the building flooded, leaving raw sewage coming in under the back door to the block. I paid for it to be cleared, and they couldn't, so I got my insurers involved. And they told me I'd need to get everyone in the block onside to pay for their share. And then Mandy at work recommended I talk to the council, who had someone here within two hours to say "Yup, that's a health hazard, and it affects multiple homes", and then had an emergency team out three hours later who had plans of where the drains were, found drain covers _under the grass_ and sorted it all out. And will now bill everyone in the building separately, so I don't have to worry about that!

The NHS are great. Because I have a recurrence of uveitis, which flared up over the last 24 hours. Previous occurrences were in October 2012, in January 2014, and in February 2015 (links more for my own future reference than anything else). Happened a week after seeing my family, and coincided with my IBS playing up, which may be A Thing. Anyway, I called the 24 hotline for non-emergencies, and they've given me an appointment at 23:10 at the Western General hospital, so I'll be leaping onto a bus in 45 minutes to be seen at the Assessment & Rehabiliation Centre.

Jane is lovely. And came on holiday with me and my family (parents, my brothers, and their partners/children), played lots of board games, went for walks with dogs, and is about to come to the hospital with me to keep me company. (Actual holiday post to follow at some point. Possibly even with pictures of dogs).

Work is good. And I am currently involved in multiple things I am enjoying, and stretch me. Favourite things of the last year or so are getting to learn PowerShell in a fair amount of depth, and finally getting to fix a bad design decision I made circa 2008 and remove a huge amount of duplicate code.

Reading: Mansfield Park

Aug. 12th, 2017 12:59 pm
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After reading Kindred, which is about slavery in the USA a short time after Jane Austen was writing, I decided to re-read the one Jane Austen novel which explicitly mentions slavery, Mansfield Park.

I actually first read Mansfield Park recently enough that my thoughts are on LJ, and my opinion hasn't really changed; I know a lot of people dislike Fanny Price, but I still find her sympathetic and relatable, and her quiet determination in the face of pressure to accept Henry Crawford's proposal (and, indeed, the careful observation which allows her to understand Henry's character in a way that no-one else, except perhaps Mary Crawford, does) is all the more impressive for coming from a character whose life has shaped her into a person who always puts other people's wants and needs before her own. Yes, a shy, anxious, insecure heroine isn't as fun as a sparkling, witty Lizzy Bennet, but Fanny feels very real and I found it easy to care about her predicament. I do wonder if some of the dislike for Mansfield Park comes from people expecting a fluffy romance and not getting that, because while none of Jane Austen's novels are actually fluffy romances (honestly, I can't think of one that isn't really an anti-romance when you look at it closely) Mansfield Park is one of the hardest to see that way; although Fanny does end up with the man she is in love with, he isn't in love with her and they have a marriage of best friends rather than a grand romance.

I also really enjoy the glimpses of the wider world we get in this novel; Sir Thomas's business interests (and yes, the slavery that his wealth is founded on), the Navy in the Portsmouth scenes (which feel as though a Patrick O'Brien novel could be taking place only a few yards away). Like all Austen's novels, it also has interesting things to say about the position of women in English society in the early nineteenth century; the experiences of Maria and Julia Bertram, Mary Crawford's catalogue of the woes of her friends' marriages, and the pressure exerted on Fanny herself to marry Henry, despite her conviction that he is fickle and insincere (and while I think she is probably too hard on Henry, because she is so much in love with Edmund, his attachment to her clearly isn't all he would have her believe it to be), all show how constrained women's lives were, how the crucial question of marriage, answered on the basis of very little real information or knowledge, would make or break the rest of life.

I'm not sure I can have a favourite Jane Austen novel; there were moments during this re-read when I thought maybe Mansfield Park was my new favourite, but then I remembered Persuasion and Northanger Abbey; Pride and Prejudice is justly acclaimed a classic, and I really like Emma too, so I think all I can actually say for it is that it's definitely in my top five, though they are all so close, and the only one I think I actually like less than the others is Sense and Sensibility.

Interesting Links for 12-08-2017

Aug. 12th, 2017 12:00 pm

The Blood is the Life for 12-08-2017

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:00 am
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Friday Five

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:35 pm
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(questions via [community profile] thefridayfive)

1) What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?

When I was a young 'un, there was that brief period when shell suits were incredibly fashionable, but before they had been discovered to be ridiculously dangerously flammable, and we had a non-uniform day at school. Every single other person in my class came in a shell suit. Some of them had those colour change t-shirts that showed your armpit sweat even worse than grey marl does. I wore cut-off denim hot pants, fishnet tights, an Alice Cooper t-shirt and a leather biker jacket.

I think that tells you everything you need to know about my attitude to fashion.


2) As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?

Um. I never could be bothered with the make-up requirements for goth, but I suspect I tended more that way in other respects, with bits of punk and grunger too. I mean, I never did do the blue stonewash jeans classic rocker look, I always wore black and purple.


3) Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?

Ever since I was 18 right up until the present. I'm normally one or more of blue, purple, or pink, but I've been other colours too. Went jet black once; didn't like it.


4) Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?

I certainly haven't. But then I was quite elderly in outlook from about the age of 18 months, so... (this is possibly down to the autism, which obvs was undiagnosed when I was a young 'un.


5) Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?

It's not the confidence, it's the tolerance for pain. I wish I could wear halter neck tops, but my boobs are so heavy that they give me horrific neck ache within seconds of putting them on.

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Aug. 11th, 2017 12:00 pm

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Aug. 11th, 2017 11:00 am
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Aug. 10th, 2017 12:00 pm

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