oursin: Photograph of a statue of Hygeia, goddess of health (Hygeia)
[personal profile] oursin

Last week I had the pneumococcal vaccine, courtesy of what is still, mostly, a beneficient National Health Service.

Unlike the flu shot, it is a one-off and should, as they say, See Me Out.

However, while I tend not to have any repercussions from the flu shot, this one gave me a sore arm, like, really sore for 2-3 days and still quite tender after that, as well a day or two feeling Vaguely Crap, that well-known unspecific medical condition.

Thought this was All Over, but this morning, discovered I had a Sore Armpit. Don't know whether this is a final repercussion, a muscle I pulled and didn't realise, or, since partner had something yesterday that might have been a virus and involved various aches and pains, whether it is that, though on the whole I would say I feel a good deal less Vaguely Crap than a few days ago.

A general condition of Slob-Out was declared and has not yet quite terminated.

desperance: (Default)
[personal profile] desperance
Day Minus Four, and this is the last of the easy days we get, this side of the countdown. Well, they're all fairly easy for me, obvs: all I have to do is shop and cook and wash dishes and keep an eye on Karen. But we've had a week of largely being in the apartment with no calls on our time; she's had injections morning and evening (when the doctors come to us), a regime of many pills, and that's been it.

Tomorrow morning, we go to hospital for a surgical procedure, to fit Karen with a port below her clavicle, a direct line into a blood vessel for both input and output. Thursday they tap her precious bodily fluids for a few hours, to filter out 117 million stem cells; then they immediately turn the tap the other way and pump in more chemo. And more yet on Friday. Saturday is Day Zero, when her stem cells are returned to her to start restoring an immune system, hopefully one with better discipline, that won't be trying to eat her hereafter.

These few days are going to be the hardest, by the doctors' own admission. After that it's a couple of weeks of recovery in more or less isolation. If you're curious, look up "neutropenia". Karen gets to eat astronaut food and/or very well-cooked meat & fish. No salads, no fresh veg, no fruits. We wear masks, and she probably doesn't leave the apartment. She probably won't want to.

And then we're done, or at least they're finished with us. We come home (and trust me, you have no idea how attractive those words sound), and spend the next year rebuilding Karen's health. Lots of home-cooked food (hah!), lots of rest. A degree of care in social contact [get your flu shots, people! Herd immunity is going to be our friend, for the foreseeable future]. An ongoing drug regime for a while, but nothing onerous. Oh, and making friends with the cats again, because we will smell of the vet.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 This looks like another "young outcast discovers his powers" book.  Wow, is it not.   Trust me. In the very first scene, Kellen needs to fight a magecaster's duel.  

There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep.  The first is the strength to defend your family.  The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people.  The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen.  I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.

And we're off, into the duel.  Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic.   This is not a survivable problem.   But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind.  In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd. 

This is not a lesser book.  Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber.  Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society.  This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get.   When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor.  She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself.  Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.

Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass.  I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler.  She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.

The characters are engrossing.  The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon.   The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.

The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic.  The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.)  Red is used as a spot color, very effectively.  There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section.  And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red!  Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.

Here's the catch.  There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack.  If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.

Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome.  If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them.  The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y.  The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).

Kindle Update Update

Oct. 17th, 2017 04:11 pm
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I totally can see the light when it's turned to "off", i.e. when the light meter is set to 0, but only really notice it a lot at night. You guys who claim you can't see it are either lying, or my eyes are freakish. Frankly, I think it's probably the latter, given how often one of my boys complains they can't see the dogs when we are walking them after dark and I can see them perfectly fine.

Happily, Andrew's explanation of how the light works was spot on, and it doesn't bother me like a glowy phone or computer or TV screen. To give you some idea of how Lorca-ish my eyes are, though, I have it set to 2 when I'm in bed, and 5 in daylight. It goes up to about 30, by the looks of it (haven't actually counted).

I'm really REALLY happy with the cover I got for it, which is incredibly thin and light, but still feels sturdy. It also has the autowake function, which is handy. I would genuinely rec it to anyone who has a papperwit of the requisite size (that's pretty much all of them less than 5 years old).

I think I am also going to quickly get used to having Goodreads integration, which my old Kindle was too ancient to support.

All in all, I think I made the right decision. Thanks to those of you who helped by voting and commenting and things.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... it's because the boundary commission have released their finalised report into the boundary review, and hardly anybody is happy about it. The vast majority of politicians, you see, wanted the boundary review to advantage their party and shaft their rivals. The boundary commission, meanwhile, have been scrupulously fair, and tried quite hard to advantage nobody and shaft nobody.

Now, there is a school of thought that this doesn't matter a jot because it'll never get past parliament, requiring as it does far too many turkeys to vote for Christmas. I, for one, think that would be a shame, if only for my little home patch.

The proposals for Calderdale are basically what I would have done, were I the boundary commission. A lot of my fellow Calderdale politicians will doubtless be pissing and moaning about various bits1, although having read the report, the Tories will probably be the least annoyed of us. Here are the things I am pleased about:
  1. The two constituencies make geographical sense, for the first time in my lifetime.

  2. The town I live in can no longer be almost completely ignored by three of the five active political parties in the area.

  3. We have not created a complete dead zone for the Lib Dems in the constituency I live in, which is what would have happened had the commission accepted the Lib Dem proposals2.

  4. The constituency names, while not the ones I suggested, follow the same logic3
All in all, I'm quite happy. So here's hoping the turkeys do, for once, vote for Christmas.



1I know a bunch of my fellow Lib Dems are annoyed we haven't got a winnable seat out of it, by putting all the wards with Lib Dem councillors into the same constituency. To which I would say: did you see our vote share at the last general election? And also combining wards where we have councillors is not the only way to get a winnable seat. Look at the demographics...
2Calderdale Lib Dem membership is divided pretty much half and half, which it would not have been under the proposals the party submitted. While it will annoy EVERYBODY who wanted to be in the mythical winnable seat, gives us two live constituencies to fight for, instead of one with pretty much every Calderdale activist except my household in it.
3I wanted Calderdale East and Calderdale West and they've gone for Upper Calder and Lower Calder. I can live with that. It's miles better than their initial suggestion of calling my seat Halifax, when it only had half of Halifax and two towns that are not Halifax in.

Interesting Links for 17-10-2017

Oct. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

The Blood is the Life for 17-10-2017

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

(no subject)

Oct. 17th, 2017 09:18 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] susanstinson!
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2017/80: The Furthest Station -- Ben Aaronovitch
It was no use pointing out that we were actually policemen, not gentlemen, because Nightingale has a very clear idea where one ends and the other begins. One day, I’m hoping, he’ll show me where that line is. [loc. 159]
no spoilers )

Our survey says…

Oct. 16th, 2017 09:32 pm
miss_s_b: (Pratchett: Nanny Ogg)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Obviously for data protection reasons I can't go into much detail about the responses FCC got to the end of conference survey, but I do want to highlight one small area:

The impressive number of you who said Glee was the best fringe event, and the smaller but still impressive number who said we were the best thing about conference full stop, and the hardy few who said the best way to improve conference would be to have more Glee, and the one dear sweet soul who said Glee was their main reason for coming to conference?

I am genuinely touched and I love you all. Thank you. It makes it absolutely worth trying to chair a debate with a hangover and a sore throat first thing in the morning after. You guys rule.

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

Another RPG bundle offer - Rippers

Oct. 16th, 2017 08:34 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
This is a horror game I don't know much about, set in Victorian Britain and drawing on the Jack the Ripper mythos and a lot of other sources:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Rippers

"Rippers is the high-action horror campaign of Victorian-era monster-hunting for the Savage Worlds rules system from Pinnacle Entertainment. In the First Edition Rippers setting, an evil Cabal led by the monstrous Jack the Ripper brought the Victorian world of 1895 to its knees, until a team of heroes led by Johann Van Helsing fought back using implanted Rippertech torn from the creatures of hell. Ultimately that storyline revealed that the use of Rippertech damned the hero's soul to eternal torment, and even strengthened the enemy. But the new Second Edition, Rippers Resurrected, removes that unfortunate drawback. Now, with the Cabal in retreat, the Rippers hunt supernatural horrors across the globe in a struggle to take back the night.

Fog-filled horror in the gothic style the Penny Dreadful TV series and the 2004 film Van Helsing, Rippers Resurrected emerged into the gaslight in a triumphant October 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Now this offer, part of the Bundle site's annual "October Horrors" sequence, presents almost the entire Rippers and Rippers Resurrected lines, plus the complete Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook AND the Horror Companion, cheaper than a few silver bullets for a Gatling pistol. It's everything you need for a complete campaign of abomination-stomping across the Earth.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$93. Customers who pay just US$7.95 get all five titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $37) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the Rippers Resurrected Player's Guide, Archetypes, and the Deluxe Character and Campaign Journal, plus the complete Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition rulebook and its Horror Companion (both presented in several past offers).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Game Master's Collection with nine more titles worth an additional $56, , including the Game Master's Handbook and the Frightful Expeditions worldbook; the Plot Point campaign Lord of the Underworld; five Combat Maps of tombs, castles, and other spooky battlegrounds; and The Lost Library, a huge archive of the entire First Edition Rippers line (2005-2008), with adventures, characters, Figure Flats, and the Horror Wars miniatures game.

At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.


OK, I might as well admit that I'm not a huge fan of the Savage Worlds system, it doesn't seem to offer much that other games don't. This particular iteration has a problem I've seen in other Victorian horror RPGs - it tries to simplify and Americanise everything, while piling in steampunk-style gadgets and general "everything but the kitchen sink" Victorian-ish fictional archetypes. We get Dracula and Van Helsing and Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and... well, you get the idea. There's also the "everything is connected to everything else in a horrible conspiracy" trope in full flower.

Having said that, if you get in early enough it's pretty cheap, and you get quite a lot for your money. It isn't actively offensive, but I'd STRONGLY recommend that GMs who want to use it take on some additional sources for Victorian everyday life and real-world events, since politics, historical events, social issues etc. etc. get very little attention.

The problem

Oct. 16th, 2017 08:16 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
Sexual violence against women and girls is endemic. There's an absolute mountain of evidence that this is the case, from the experiences of my friends to any number of posts on social media to rigorous studies. A big part of the reason I decided to identify as a feminist is because women are routinely denied bodily autonomy and feminism seems to be the only political movement that cares about this.

links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )

I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.

The weekend's bargains

Oct. 16th, 2017 07:05 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Didn't get out to the market etc. on Friday and Saturday, for various reasons, but rather a good haul from Sunday's first car boot sale:

A Nikon e-series 50mm f1.8 - for a fiver! And a Nikon EM body with 28mm f2.8 Sigma and some sort of small flash for a tenner - haven't tested the camera yet because I don't have the right lenses. The lenses are very nice, and are already on eBay.

And something I arranged to buy last week and collected today - a Holga 60mm f8 Lomography lens in Nikon fitting. It's crap, but I didn't pay much for it and I want to have a play with it and see just how bad it is before I sell it on. Except that with the stormy weather that's coming in it was too dark to try it today, and I suspect tomorrow won't be much better...

Pathetic fallacy in search of a story

Oct. 16th, 2017 03:55 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

There has been the most ominous-looking light over north London for several hours now - a sort of copper colour. The sky is covered by a greyish cloud with wisps of whiter cloud drifting across it.

No rain, a bit of a breeze wafting through the trees in the street, but so far, nothing stronger.

The effect is somewhat John Martin-esque, or possibly requiring figures to run through the pocket park behind the house crying 'Heathcliff!' 'Cathy!'. Or at least, the foreshadowingly brooding overture to such.

I assume this is something to do with Hurricane Ophelia, even if so far this part of England is not supposed to be affected. This morning when I went shopping it was sunny and unusually warm, but I put that down to the Little Summer of St Luke.

nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
We took the children to their first ever live rugby match on Saturday after attending Rugby Tots. Keiki is still enamoured of it after six weeks. Humuhumu has realised that she would quite like to do rugby as well and so she is now signed up for the class immediately after his. This brings her class total to three: swimming (Fridays), rugby (Saturday) and gymnastics (Sunday), thus cementing our status as Parental Taxi Service for the next thirteen years or so.

Anyway, the weather was unseasonably mild and sunny and we were sat in the stands next to a lovely group of Brive fans. They tempted the children to cheer for their side with flags. We accepted gracefully and offered them Haribo, which they took, so I'm counting that a win for Anglo-French relationships. Especially since Worcester won, which was definitely not a given considering (a) their early performance, including some dire kicking and (b) the fact that they're pretty much always near the bottom of the Premier league table.

The children loved it, although keeping them engaged did involve bribery with Lego and chips (not at the same time). Afterward they opened the pitch to the children to run around, and then the players came out. We got the Worcester players to sign one of the Brive flags which they did without rancour. It was a superb day out and we were all pleasantly worn out at the end of it.

IMG_20171014_213740_494
[L to R: G. Milasinovich (prop), me, Humuhumu, Keiki, P. Humphreys (wing)]

+3 )

Guess the author!

Oct. 16th, 2017 10:07 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Atwood lifted much of HANDMAID from Heinlein. Yet the world thinks she’s an original."
coth: (Default)
[personal profile] coth
Reading books I skimmed to write an essay. I would alter a sentence or two, having read these two.

These follow on directly from the previous books in chronological order, with the usual cast of recurring characters - O'Mara, Prilicla, Murchison, along with a large cast of aliens, who may be minor characters but do get proper introductions and speaking parts. Conway interestingly, is frequently mentioned, but almost never actually there, and even when he is there he doesn't get to speak.

The Galactic Gourmet 
The Galaxy-famous chef, Gurronsevas - "a massive six-legged alien of considerable dignity", driven by ego and overwhelming pride, arrives at Sector General to improve the hospital food. After creating certain entertaining kinds of chaos, and making himself largely unwelcome on the Station, he is seconded to the ambulance ship Rhabwar: it is not clear whether he is supposed to be useful or is just being quietly removed from the Station while things settle down. In the event he finds that, like his medical colleagues, chefs can employ professional concerns to bond with individuals of other species, and help to improve first contact situations gone somewhat awry.

This was entertaining, in a slightly repetitive fashion: Guerronsevas is a large, ponderous and rather rigid alien learning better, the third in a row, after Cha Thrat and Lioren. Overall there's a good idea here, and White has fun with the standard tropes of Sector General, but it doesn't feel like essential reading.

Final Diagnosis
A change of tack with this one, with protagonist Hewlitt, an Earth Human male, arriving on Sector General as a patient to puzzle the hell out of everybody: the Diagnosticians - including Conway and Thornnastor - can find no physical cause for his enigmatic symptoms; but Lioren, now Padre, and Lieutenant Braithwaite of O'Mara's office can't find anything psychogically wrong either. Hewlitt slowly wends his way through his own and Sector General's pasts, visiting with Hudlars, Kelgians, Chalders and Telfi on his way to a really, really neat ending that pleases me enormously as an idea.

Hewlitt is a rather stuffy and tedious character whose pale, stale, maleness was trying at times, so this was a book that dragged somewhat in the reading; and White still has to explain ideas rather than showing them. I enjoyed meeting the many aliens, and the cat, and I'm glad I read it.


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Simon Bradshaw

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