baratron: (aibo)
Last night I dreamt that I was a werewolf and that my father was the Alpha of our pack, that he got kidnapped and I had to invoke the magic of the pack to rescue him. So far, not very surprising - I've been reading my way through Patricia Briggs' modern urban fantasy series again. But why was my father Nick Clegg?

I did not win NaNoWriMo. Actually, I barely wrote anything. Actually, I've barely been writing anything, anywhere. My new friend from Elder Scrolls Online was sad that I hadn't added her to my livejournal friends list yet and I said "I haven't written anything friends-only recently!". Not enough coherent brain to finish all the half-written stuff flapping around the place. Literally all I've written recently is a description of all my ESO characters and a writeup of an ESO Guild event.

I am sad about Lemmy and David Bowie's deaths, and very sad about Alan Rickman. With Lemmy and Bowie, I'm sad for my friends who were fans of them and for all the musicians I know who were influenced by them. Whereas I was actually a big fan of Alan Rickman myself. We watched Galaxy Quest at the weekend, mostly because we couldn't find the Dogma DVD in the mess that is our house. Fuck cancer all round, anyway.

My mattress is completely knackered, so I am waking up most days with extreme back pain and sometimes back and hip pain together. Woo. We have ordered a new one but it's going to take 8-10 weeks to arrive, since apparently companies don't keep "super kingsize" (6 foot/180 cm) mattresses in stock. Don't even ask how much it's costing. Dunlopillo latex beds for people who are allergic to dust mites are Not Cheap. We tried lying on Tempur mattresses (which are even more expensive) but found them very weird and far too soft. I thought I might like them if I had a pain issue where it hurt for me to be in contact with the mattress, but as it is I roll over far too many times to be on a mattress which completely contours to me, and fighting the mattress would simply make my back hurt more.

In related news, I have been back to the Pain Management Clinic. There is nothing wrong with my hip (which I suspected anyway) and they are going to do some more facet joint injections into my evil sacro-illiac joint. I look forward to being in less pain soon.

Shifty is coming to visit me on 8th February for two weeks! Yay!
baratron: (bi_pride)
So my friend [ profile] kshandra and her husband [ profile] gridlore want to go on holiday for their 25th wedding anniversary. But it's going to be difficult because Doug has worst health than me. I mean, seriously, the poor guy has had cancer twice (plus another malignant growth that was small enough to be removed by a dermatologist) and has suffered horrible side-effects from the anti-cancer drugs which saved his life. Like his jawbone started rotting away and his teeth fell out so he couldn't eat, and then he got a potassium deficiency and almost died, and he has no spleen so he can't fight infection... And it really says something when you're talking about your friend's husband's bad health to your other friends, and the list of problems is so long that you actually forgot that he'd had a stroke.

Anyway, they are great people, if perpetually short of money, and they deserve the chance to have something fun happen to them for once. So they want to go to Istanbul. It won't be cheap - the travel insurance alone will be a small fortune - but they have friends and friends of friends who can help. Even US $5 will help. If you're able to give then here's the link, if you can't then would you consider boosting the signal? I've known Kirsten for something like 13 or 14 years, I can personally vouch for the situation being genuine.

Also, some of my friends have written a book. Purple Prose is all about Bisexuality in Britain. I'm sure a lot of it will be relevant to bisexuals outside of Britain, too. It's only £5 for an e-book or £15 for an e-book and paperback, so please buy one if you can! The closing date for the funding is 11th November.
baratron: (boooooks)
What am I reading now?
Nothing (!). I finished the book I was reading yesterday and haven't started a new one yet. I have six library books out right now, and a further three (?) to pick up once the library opens.

What have I read recently?
As predicted last time, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (re-read). And then I went onto Paladin of Souls (also a re-read). Oh gods, I absolutely love that universe.

I have a distinct feeling I've written about the religion in Chalion before, but I can't seem to find it. It's remarkably similar to the religion in the Elder Scrolls games, at least to the Aedric part of it. Read more... )

Other novels:
Dragon's Bones and Dragon's Blood by Patricia Briggs. More re-reads.

The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs. A Christmas present. I would say that while it's not as good as Dragon's Bones, Dragon's Blood, Masques or Wolfsbane, it was certainly worth reading. I'd recommend one of those other books first though.

Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs. It's a Temperance Brennan story, or if you prefer, a "Bones" book. If you can swallow your disbelief about the job of a forensic anthropologist, and believe that she can travel 3,000 miles on a whim with the police who are investigating the case which she provided consultation for - and believe that as a highly-qualified intellligent woman she would go putting herself in direct danger, again, when she's already been killed several times by previous villains - well, then it's a good book. I like Tempe, but she needs a good slapping. Which she isn't likely to get in a first-person story. It has a better story than several of the other "Bones" books, and each of the separate threads come together nicely. (As opposed to at least one of the previous books, where they were still working out who did what while recovering in hospital).

Doors Open by Ian Rankin. This is not an Inspector Rebus book. It is about a self-made multi-millionaire who is bored, and gets himself involved in a massive art theft. It's described as a "heist thriller", and I read the entire thing in one sitting, without even skipping to the back to see how it ends (!). Which is pretty much unheard of for me - I skip ahead in books all the time. But it was good enough and fast-moving enough that I didn't want to spoil the story for myself. Nor do I want to spoil the story for anyone else. If you like crime fiction, you should read this. End of.

A couple more short-story collections:
Chicks Kick Butt, edited by Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes. Who on earth named this book? I mean, seriously, who wants to be caught on public transport or in a cafe reading a book called Chicks Kick Butt?! So, the theme of this collection is clearly Women Being Capable. About half the stories were nauseatingly chick-lit, complete with obligatory heterosexual romance with the Perfect Man (TM). However, I particularly liked Hunt by Rachel Vincent, Vampires Prefer Blondes by P.N. Elrod, Nine-Tenths of the Law by Jenna Black, and Beyond the Pale by Nancy Holder.

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by P.N. Elrod. You'll never guess what the theme of this book is! I enjoyed most of the stories, but particular favourites were Spellbound by L.A. Banks, Dead Man's Chest by Rachel Caine (which is rather the opposite of most chick-lit), and All Shook Up by P.N. Elrod.

What am I going to read next?
Haven't a clue. Something from this pile of library books, most likely.
baratron: (boooooks)
Lately I have been mostly failing at posting about the books I've been reading. In fact, sad though this might be, the last time I renewed my library books it was solely because I hadn't yet written reviews of them!

What am I reading now?
The Hunted by L.A. Banks. I am two chapters from the end, and dragging it out because none of the books I've ordered have come in yet.

[ profile] firecat, The Awakening and The Hunted (the first and second sequels to Minion) are both awesome. Oddly, The Awakening is half the size of The Hunted, only 300 pages to the latter's 576. But it doesn't leave you feeling short-changed.

So far, I really recommend this series - about a black female vampire hunter, her multi-racial team, and her Hispanic vampire lover - to anyone who's looking for modern urban fantasy featuring kick-ass women. Its basic premise is that God and the Devil are both real, and that our world is locked in a literal struggle between Heaven and Hell. Vampires rule in Hell second only to "the Boss", and they visit the "topside" to corrupt humans. Every thousand years, a Neteru is born, and this person will either become the strongest vampire hunter of their era, or the most powerful vampire lover whose children will be vampires who can walk in daylight.

Its over-the-top fantastical elements are played tongue-in-cheek, while it layers on details of different cultures and religions to feel inclusive without being tokenistic. In The Hunted, they go to Brazil to hunt demons, and Brazilian history and culture is explained clearly and lovingly for the book's predominantly American audience. I've ordered the next four books in the series. Honestly, the thing I'm most sad about is that the author died a few years ago, so there won't be any more.

Also, BABIES!!!!11! have not yet featured in the plot, and I don't think they're likely to until several books further on. Phew.

What have I read recently?
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs. If I said it's another one of the Mercedes Thompson series and it's pretty much the same as all the others, that would sound dismissive. What I mean is that if you're a fan of this sort of modern urban fantasy, you'll love it - if you're not, I don't know that this book would be the one to convince you. Personally, I absolutely love the series - Mercy is what Anita Blake used to be like, before she became a raving sex maniac. The characters are sweet and funny and very human even though they're werewolves and vampires and faeries.

A whole load of books of short stories:
Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. Okay. The first thing I want to say about this is that you should only read it if (a) you're a person who really likes Christmas or (b) it is almost Christmas, so you're in the mood. I read it in September and it was just Wrong. The second thing is that a lot of the stories are written in strange styles ("zany" is the word that springs to mind), and enough of the authors have made links between Santa Claus and werewolves that I'm actually wondering whether this is A Thing that I just didn't know about before. None of the stories are terrible, but there were a few that frustrated the hell out of me because they could have been perfect and then just... weren't. The best story of the collection is Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon, which has precisely the right mixture of sweetness and horror.

Home Improvement: Undead Edition, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. This book is supposed to be short stories about D.I.Y. with a paranormal twist, but the theme is stretched rather - one of the stories is about a restaurant, another is a detective story, while another is about a monk, a mountain, a museum, and a statue of Buddha. That last story, The Path by S.J. Rozan, is by far the best in the book, and has never failed to make me cry on the five occasions I've read it. I love it enough to consider buying the whole book just to own that one story, unless it happens to be published elsewhere.

Other stand-out stories are Gray by Patricia Briggs, The Strength Inside by Melissa Marr, Through This House by Seanan McGuire, It's All In the Rendering by Simon R. Green, and In Brightest Day by Toni L.P. Kelner. Although all of the stories are good and none are frustrating.

Strange Brew edited by P.N. Elrod. The theme of this collection is "powerful witches and dark magic". Again, all of the stories are good, though I think Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter is the best. I also very much like Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs (which introduces Moira and Tom, characters in the Alpha and Omega series), Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine (which is an unashamed paranormal romance), and Vegas Odds by Karen Chance.

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow. I can't pick out a favourite story. Curses by Jim Butcher is about faeries and baseball (and should be read by all my baseball-loving friends), The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner is a love story between two men, Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik is about estate agents who sell flats in New York City to non-human people, Noble Rot by Holly Black is about a dying rock star.

What am I going to read next?
Not sure. Given that none of my reservations have arrived, it'll be whatever I randomly pick up from the library. Although looking at my bookshelves tonight, my eyes were drawn to The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, and it's been a while since I last read that series, so it's tempting. Oh, I just love Cazaril, and the five gods of their religion! Especially as I have a character in my head who would be a priest of the Bastard if he lived in that universe :)
baratron: (boooooks)
What am I reading now?
Dragon Blood by Patricia Briggs. Actually, I'm sorta cheating with this - I have read everything but the last two chapters in order, and flicked ahead to the end to find out what happens, but I don't want it to end!

I adore Patricia Briggs' modern urban fantasy - you know, the kind of story set in a world that's almost exactly like ours, except it has werewolves or vampires or whatever. But I really, really love her traditional fantasy, set in a medieval-type world with dragons and dwarves and so on. The characters are just awesome.

What have I read recently?
Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs. And then I went out and bought it.

The Alpha and Omega series: Cry Wolf, Hunting Ground, Fair Game by Patricia Briggs. Modern urban fantasy set in the same universe as the Mercedes Thompson novels. I really like the way she writes werewolves, and that she doesn't gloss over the bits that don't make sense about lycanthropy. The werewolves themselves comment on how they break physics by suddenly gaining a load of extra mass when they transform!

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. I've only had it out since *cough* February. The whole reason I hadn't got round to reading it before was because it's a hardback, and I can only read those sitting at a desk or in bed. I enjoyed it even though it's about football, fashion, and celebrities - three things I have no interest in ;) All of the recent Discworld books have been excellent - basically, since it turned from "fantasy" into a parody of our world, though I do wonder how much of it makes sense to readers outside the UK.

What am I going to read next?
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs. Also a couple of books of short stories, after which I will have read everything by this author in the whole of the London library system. I'm going to have to search second-hand booksellers for her other stuff.

The Awakening and The Hunted by L.A. Banks, the two immediate sequels to Minion. I seriously do not know how I'm going to feel about them. Flicking through them suggests that BABIES!!!!11! are going to feature heavily in the plot, which might drastically reduce their appeal for me, depending on how it's done.

Recommendations for fantasy novels featuring queer characters - especially "traditional" dragons/dwarves/elves-type fantasy. Ideally not books that are the size of telephone directories either. Preferably books that are available in print in the UK, because I still hate eBooks. Though characters are everything, and I will read an enormous weighty tome if the characters keep me interested enough.

This is basically "research" for the book that I ultimately want to write, when I have time and health. I've figured out how to take my characters from the video game universe where they originated into a universe of my own creation (known for now as Generic Fantasy Universe 43). But I want to know what has already been done. I have a horrible feeling that the only gay fantasy books out there are self-published because of it being seen as a niche market, but... prove me wrong?
baratron: (boooooks)
Because it's still Wednesday somewhere.

What am I reading now?
Aralorn: Masques and Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs. This is slightly cheating because I have in fact finished it once already, and am reading it again because I don't want it to end. Masques is an old novel of hers which has been dug out and polished up, and published in an omnibus edition with a sequel. I love it when authors do that, taking an old story which they wrote mainly on instinct, and revise it with everything they've learned since.

I don't love it when an author's old story is simply republished without revision. I tried to read The Flood by Ian Rankin a few months ago, and gave up because I realised that I had absolutely no interest in any of the characters or what was going to happen to them. Just as well, the ending was entirely unsatisfactory.

What have I read recently?
Minion by L.A. Banks. I picked this up from the library for the sole reason that it was a modern urban fantasy with a black girl on the cover, rather than the usual mixed-race-but-passes-for-white, and I thought that sort of thing should be encouraged. I've had it out for months but not had the concentration span to read it. Anyway, it's set in modern-day America and features a team of vampire hunters, so far so good, but then it turns a load of clichés on their head.

The first couple of pages of dialogue annoyed me, because I thought they were trying too hard, but then my brain adjusted to the lower-class African-American speech patterns. And I found part of myself deriding the rest of myself for being such a classist or racist as to have been uncomfortable with it at the beginning. Why should everyone in books be incredibly middle-class? Young people in particular should have the opportunity to read books with heroes who speak the same way that they do. How can you expect people to get interested in reading when no one in the story is like themselves?

I ended up reading the entire book in one go, didn't even skip to the end to find out what happened, which is very unusual for me. Turns out it's the sort of book where you have to read the sequel. So I need to find it on the library database and order it.

What am I going to read next?
I've had Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett out of the library for a while now, so probably that.
baratron: (mages guild)
Still don't have any spare brain to write commentary, and in fact today I hurt so much that even typing is an effort. So here are some links presented without comment:

Me And The Abstracted Persona of the Anti-Ism Community At Large. A couple of years old, and triggery for me by halfway through.

Certain Propositions Concerning Callout Culture, Part Three. Parts One and Two are good too, but they mostly say things that we already know. Whereas this points out a few home truths that people May Not Like.

The battle against 'sexist' sci-fi and fantasy book covers. I'm fairly sure I've linked to Jim C. Hines' website before, but it's awesome to see a big organisation like the BBC report on it.

Studies Raise Questions About Safety Of Personal Lubricants. I take it that everyone reading this already knows that nonoxynol-9 Is Evil, but there are a few alarming surprises in the article.

Five organisms with real super powers that rival their comic book counterparts.

Crime Against Nature: an inclusive children's book. Digital version available free.
baratron: (boooooks)
For those who don't already know, the eARC of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance is online. And the blasted free preview ends with the most frustrating cliffhanger ever, so I'm going to have to buy it. Now!

Also this bit (from Chapter 5) is possibly the best metaphor ever: Some people will consider this a spoiler (even though it isn't a spoiler for the story) )
baratron: (cn tower)
I didn't actually get round to posting that I had arrived in Boston safely, but I figured that you'd know I was here from the lack of news about planes crashing horribly into the Atlantic. Here's my excuse: by the time I went to bed on Thursday night, I'd been up for 39 hours straight and I was losing the ability to do coherent English.

The journey was totally uneventful. Plane was only about 1/3 full, making me feel slightly guilty. I lay down across three seats and attempted to sleep, but couldn't. Even though I'm a short-arse, I still couldn't fit full-length across the seats, so I don't know how anyone ever manages it. Listened to music for the trip.

Arrived in Boston almost on-time, got myself across to the hotel on public transport, had an "amusing" time figuring out how I was supposed to get on the Red Line train at South Station - apparently you ask the driver for assistance. This is so totally unlike any UK train, where the driver hides in his or her cab for the whole trip and you never see them. The weather when I arrived was shockingly warmer than the weather at home and I thought this was Very Wrong, but then it started snowing. Yay.

[ profile] bitty and [ profile] bubblebabble came to pick me up and we went to Somerville to collect our wedding rings and see other jewellery and sculptures by the same artist. Feel free to guess which of the geeky rings on that site we went for, but I'm not actually going to tell anyone who doesn't already know until after the wedding :)

Then we went for dinner at Veggie Galaxy. It was good.

Yesterday I met [ profile] lilairen, for the first time since January 2005 - she is now accompanied by 2.5 year old offspring, who is very clearly a Geek Child :) We went to Pandemonium, a Local Independent Bookstore. I bought many books not available in the UK, including some by [ profile] papersky. Then we went for Chinese.

Later I met up with [ profile] treacle_well, and eventually acquired my roommates HoopyCat and [ profile] veryfineredwine, whose flights had been cancelled and rearranged several times in the space of 2 hours. (The flight they eventually got, leaving at 8 pm last night, was way superior to the original offering of a flight leaving today at 6.15 am and routing via Washington DC!). bitty and Arthur delivered them from the airport, and we had pizza from Peace o'Pie. I booted up the webcam and we talked to Richard over Skype, so it was like he was here with us.

Today I am supposed to be meeting up with Freezepop, but Sean is rehearsing with his other band Lifestyle, so arrangements are somewhat dependent on him. If I don't hear anything soon, I'll give them a call.
baratron: (eye)
I haven't posted anything in ages, mostly because I'm tired and have no motivation. I am feeling pretty blah right now, but it's boredom and the kind of situational depression that is "sick of being sick" rather than "proper" depression. My life at the moment consists of sleeping a lot, then lying in bed playing video games - it really isn't very exciting, and I rather want my ability to DO THINGS back. I am playing The Sims 3 and Pokemon White. So badly need to get out to a library. Any library. Reading web forums and fanfic and even eBooks (though I hate the format), but I want more books that I haven't read.

Mind you, there seems to be something of an epidemic of chronic fatigue among my friends at the moment - no idea why, except that lots of people are ill - and I seem to be the least ill of the lot of them. One person I know can't even walk to the bathroom or lift her head up most days, so I'm grateful that it's not *that* bad. My mental tiredness is improving slowly, so I'm hoping to get back to College work soon.

I'm getting out at the weekend, at least. Most days I can walk a bit, so we can go out for dinner locally, or if Richard's here he can dump me in the wheelchair and push me. I'm grateful that he doesn't see this as a chore. We see [ profile] meeping and [ profile] gerwinium most Sundays. Last Wednesday we went out with [ profile] hatter, and yesterday was [ profile] alexmc's birthday party, which was a lot of fun. It was in Leytonstone, which is almost as far away from Kingston as it's possible to get while still being in London, so it took 1hr 45 min to get there and something like 3 hours to get back (due to night buses), but once we realised we weren't going to catch the last train, we stopped off in central London and got food and watched people. I also acquired a huge pile of books that Alex didn't want for various reasons, though they're mostly Laurell K. Hamilton's attempt at pr0n. (Though I read Skin Trade on the way home yesterday, and the ratio of bad sex to plot is much, much lower than most of her recent books, so I'm pleased with it).

I have two separate instantations of Firefox, each full of links that I've been meaning to share - must acquire some spoons and actually DO THAT.
baratron: (Default)
Richard is ragingly ill with the same snot disease that I had last week. We have to get on an aeroplane tomorrow, and flying with a cold = NOT FUN. I hope he's better when he gets up, though the sounds of coughing and snotty snoring are hardly encouraging. Apologies in advance to HoopyCat and [ profile] veryfineredwine - sorry that you'll be having to share the same airspace with him.

This is the flight we'll be on tomorrow. Apparently it hasn't actually managed to take off on time ANY TIME in the past 2 weeks, though it usually arrives roughly on time. I hope the weather behaves itself as I don't want to be spending new year in the airport. Feel free to check where we are and/or offer sacrifices to the Gods of Travel for a safe and speedy journey. I believe that chocolate is accepted as a sacrifice by most gods.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on the flight. Unfortunately, I have already read the entire book that was supposed to keep me amused. I was clearing stuff off my bed and there was a book with words in and I hadn't read them before, and I tried to stop but I couldn't.

More on Flying Whilst Disabled: When we flew a couple of weeks ago, the special needs department at Heathrow was being useless, so my mum & I walked to the gate. This meant that we only just got there in time and spent the whole flight eating painkillers. The JFK parts of the journey (both outward and return) were much more organised and had wheelchairs ready for us. Then we got back to Heathrow and found they were crap again. Hmm.

Well, I've just printed out our boarding passes, and they have put ME in Group 1 because I need extra time to board the aircraft, but Richard's in Group 4 with everyone else! How am I supposed to get all my stuff onto the plane without him to help? You are supposed to be able to lift your own bag into the overhead locker, which is fine if you're tall enough to do so! Bit of a problem if you're short with a bad back.

I think I will ask for a new boarding pass to be printed.
baratron: (boooooks)
Also, in a moment of sheer idiocy which could probably be applied to any discipline, including fiction: I saw a reference to a book which I thought was interesting, went to the library website, saw they had one copy which is currently out, considered ordering it, looked up at my bookshelf and... oh.

Apparently, I already have it.

Please tell me you've done this too, so I feel less stupid.
baratron: (sleepy)
Re. my last entry - I can see a happy ending looming for several of the characters in Chapter 15, and there's still another 6 to go. Yay!

Edit: OH MY GODS! The last line of Chapter 20!!!


I can't possibly say what it is because it is the biggest spoiler ever in the history of spoilers, but damn.


Aug. 4th, 2010 05:34 am
baratron: (boooooks)
I am reading the electronic ARC of Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's the new Vorkosigan book, and not officially out until November.

I don't quite understand what an ARC is - the modern version of the old galley proofs that authors used to receive, made available electronically by the publisher because fans want to read books as early as possible and can live with typos - but it is official and the author will be getting royalties, which is all I care about. 5 chapters are available for free and the rest of the book costs US $15.

Anyway, I know most people are far more bothered about spoilers than I am, so all I'm going to say is that the middle of Chapter 11 has me crying my eyes out. Damn, but I wasn't expecting that!

May post a few random snippets - single sentences that are totally unspoilery. So far, my favourite of those has to be Jin wondered who Gregor was. Miles-san’s insurance boss? Which will make no sense whatsoever until you read the book, so I feel thoroughly justified in posting it! I'm also quite amused by Ptah-hotep is a louse!

I need to go to bed. I was resisting buying this electronic version of the book until I'd got some more work done, but who am I kidding? New Vorkosigan book (ok, with typos, formatting issues and a few corrections needed), and I am like putty. Sod sorting out my sleep pattern, that'll have to wait another day.
baratron: (boooooks)
I discovered this book while trying to find out whether a particular idiom was British or American in origin, and thought it might interest some people here. An Asperger dictionary of everyday expressions.
This revised and expanded edition has over 5000 explanations that help unlock the meaning of everyday idiomatic expressions and dispel the confusion that arises from the misinterpretation of language. Both informative and entertaining, the book addresses an important aspect of social communication for people with Asperger Syndrome, who use direct, precise language and 'take things literally'. Each entry is clearly explained, with a guide to its politeness level and suggestions for when and how it might be used. The book covers British and American English and includes some Australian expressions.
baratron: (corrosive)
Today I have been mostly dead. Have had the kind of period pain where I'm being held together by three different painkillers, one of which is prescription-only. The good news is that, being period pain, it'll be mostly gone by tomorrow and completely gone by Tuesday. Yay.

I have also been working on the carbohydrate coursework from hell. You know, the one that was due in on 15th January? I finally have enough brain to tackle it! Despite being in pain! It's amazing. Go sunshine, smite that SAD!

What kind of moron underlines sentences in a library book using ballpoint pen without a ruler? The lines have random thickness and in some places cross right through the words. The person pressed so hard that the pen has scored the page to the extent you can see bobbled lines on the reverse side. I tend to get annoyed when people underline stuff in library books in pencil - I think that if you want to go round underlining things then either buy the book yourself, or photocopy the important pages. (It's true that pencil rubs out, but sometimes people press too hard with their pencil. And sometimes when you rub out the pencil you also rub out some of the book's ink). But ballpoint pen? That's just... vandalism!
baratron: (dino)
It's been a long few days. Let's do this in the Yay and Boo style that other people favour.

- 4.5 hours of work starting at 11.30am.
+ Saw Tim & Peter.
+ Peter is my personal computer fairy, bringing me a "new" laptop for Ludy plus an official Microsoft Office 97 install disc. Don't ask what I need it for (will explain later).
+ Went out for dinner at the nice Italian that's not open on Sundays.
- Wanted to go to sleep before Tim & Peter had even left (impressive, considering that they are morning people and I'm not!).
- It took me/us 5 hours or so to reinstall Windows & put all the new software onto Ludy's "new" computer. Got to bed far too late.
+ It was kinda fun to put music I like & think she'll like and photos of us/things meaningful to us on the computer for her. I get why people like to be computer fairies now!

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday )

how tragic.

Apr. 3rd, 2008 07:24 pm
baratron: (goggles)
I had to pay some cheques into the bank today, so I went to the bank in the basement of the Bentall Centre and then into WH Smith to get a hot chocolate from the Costa inside (as opposed to going to the one on the top floor, or the one in the market place). While I was waiting for my drink to be made, I looked across at the bookselling part of the shop, and was horrified to discover that there is now a whole section labelled "Tragic Life Stories"!

Back up a minute here. It surprises me that there is a market for Tragic Life autobiographies in any case. Why on earth would anyone want to read about children or young adults being abused? It's bad enough knowing that such things happen, without reading all the horrible details. I can think of maybe three good reasons why a person might want to read such a book: to recover from abuse of their own, and put it into some sort of perspective; to try to understand the psychology of abusers, so that you can avoid becoming one yourself; and to realise that your own family, while fucked up, is not as bad as it could be. I can't believe that it would be useful for psychologists to read such books, because of the problems of recovered memories or unreliable narrators, and in any case they're marketed at the general public.

Now, I know perhaps five or six people who have told me about specific incidents of abuse that happened when they were children or teenagers; and things being as they are, I suspect I know another five or six who were abused but haven't told me. But what all of these friends have in common is that they want to move on from the shitty experiences and build the best adult life they possibly can. I can't imagine anyone I know wanting to wallow in their misery to the extent of writing a book about it, although I can see how some people could find the storytelling cathartic. But some of these authors have gone on to write three or four books about their abuse! And while I can see how a person might want to read one of these books for the reasons I mentioned already, the idea of deliberately reading book after book about damaged people seems like car crash TV - slowing down to look at the wreckage to make you feel more alive. And that seems, well, somewhat broken to me.

But then I mentioned this to the guy working in Costa, who I know vaguely through being a regular customer, and he told me how it was particularly awful for him because he lost a friend recently. She was 34 years old, diving with her husband in Malta, and got into difficulties. Apparently she got helium in her blood - I guess this would be the bends or an arterial gas embolism? And what I know about that is very little because I don't dive and will never be allowed to dive (asthma), but even I as a totally lay person know that you have to ascend to the surface slowly when that happens. Apparently her instructor pulled her straight up to the surface (!). One of the people she worked for is a lawyer, and he is investigating the dive company - who apparently have been responsible for 75% of diving deaths in Malta (!! Yes, I wish I knew the name of the company so I could tell my friends who dive to avoid them like the plague!). So he gets to stand there all day, making drinks for people, and seeing the books that peddle gawping at other people's misery. Gods.

So, if you are a praying sort of person, pray for the family and friends of this woman. Pray or hope also that the incompetent people get fined/prosecuted/retrained. And, spoons permitting, I will write a brief letter to the manager of WH Smith saying how utterly inappropriate I find the Tragic Life Stories section, and how upsetting it could be for anyone who's experienced a recent loss.
baratron: (goggles)
Today I spent several hours in various bookstores looking at chemistry textbooks and compiling a list of the ones I wanted to buy. The idea was for me to try to buy them second-hand, because that saves resources. However! in looking on amazon Marketplace and abebooks, it seems that the majority of the books I want will cost me as much or more to buy preowned than to buy new. A £10.99 new book typically becomes £7.50-£9 second-hand, but add the £2.75 shipping on and it's virtually the same. Bizarrely, some sellers price the books for more than they cost new even before the postage goes on. And, annoyingly, amazon Marketplace charges £2.75 per book, even when they can be posted together by the same seller.

Also, there is the question of packaging. If I take my existing shopping bags to, say, Foyles, and buy a load of books, then I am not using any extra packaging. If I send Richard to buy them, then we're not using any more resources at all, because he can walk from his workplace to the bookshop, so there's not even the issue of transport. Whereas, if I buy the books preowned, each book will come in its own jiffy bag that I'll then end up storing along with the 100 or so other jiffy bags that are in this house waiting until they can be reused, which I can't throw away because of the environmental guilt and can't recycle because this country is not that efficient yet. They'll also have a packing slip and/or invoice which can't be recycled because it contains my name and address information, and while I often do rip off that part to go in the shredder while recycling the rest of the page, this takes Effort and spoons. Most likely, they'll pile up until I have energy to deal with it.

Of course, the sensible answer would be for me to go to a bookshop to buy the books second-hand, but there aren't physical bookshops that sell chemistry textbooks. You're stuck with physical bookshops that sell new or online bookshops that sell used. Occasionally, universities have a second-hand textbook fair, but they tend to be limited to students of that particular institution, and wouldn't be advertised externally. Similarly, another idea would be for me to borrow the books from a library - but public libraries don't carry university-level science textbooks because there just isn't the demand for them, and I don't have access to a university library. I could get access, but that would be to go there and study from the books there, rather than a borrower's pass - those are pretty much impossible to come by for outsiders. And I don't like to sit in libraries and breathe their dust and photocopier fumes and deal with chairs that aren't designed for my back when I could take a book home to read.

Considering that we're talking about small paperbacks of around 100 pages each, and considering that these books have already been printed and are sitting in the bookshop waiting for someone to buy them, I'm inclined to think that buying them directly with my existing bags might actually be the most environmental of the options available. But it doesn't seem very satisfactory.
baratron: (lego)
In an attempt to tidy up my many open tabs prior to rebooting the laptop, have a link dump.

Interesting articles:
Polyamory is not about the sex, except when it is. Very long article which those of you into poly will find interesting. Followup comment by [ profile] ratatosk, linked by... [ profile] wispfox, I think.

Pleasure Town Is Invite Only! by [ profile] mistful. Hilariously funny story about how a feminist-from-babyhood came across a traditional romance book at a young age and was Scarred For Life. Linked by, er, [ profile] j00j, I think. (Yes, some of these links have been open for weeks).

How 'gay' became children's insult of choice, from the BBC News Magazine. I'm in two minds about whether the use of "gay" as a derogatory term is homophobic. I can see both sides of the argument. Though I tend to side with those who find it offensive, because there's nothing inherently crap or second-class about being gay and I don't like the meanings being linked in that way. But then what do we come back to? Cripple-bashing terms like "lame". Hrm.

World's best-known protest symbol turns 50, from the BBC News Magazine. About the CND logo and how it was coined. I like the idea that it's from the semaphore signs for N & D, meaning Nuclear Disarmament.

When Girls Will Be Boys, from the New York Times. An article about FTM transsexuals/transmen attending women's colleges. Linked in comments on Dykes to Watch Out For.

Video: BBC Micro creators reunite, from BBC News. Interview with Hermann Hauser from Acorn. Talks about how awesome and innovative the Beeb was, and how everything has ARM chips in these days.

See-saw to power African schools. Design student Daniel Sheridan has created a simple see-saw which generates enough electricity to light a classroom. Really great idea!


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