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Rachel Coleman
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19th-Feb-2017 05:59 pm - Fitbit goal check
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12th-Feb-2017 08:48 pm - Fitbit goal check
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12th-Feb-2017 06:27 pm - Twitter meme
silly
"the first four people that come up when you type @ are the ppl that make up your zombie apocalypse survival team"

I got fanf , [personal profile] hollymath , Ann Leckie and Lin-Manuel Miranda, which amused me greatly, but I decided I was too shy to spam the mentions of Leckie and Miranda by posting to Twitter. What company though!

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10th-Feb-2017 08:59 pm - Some good radio
runner5
I saw a tweet today which pretty much summed up why I like the Radio 4 show In Our Time:


The format is the same every time: professional enthusiast Melvyn Bragg invites three experts to discuss an interesting topic, and (mostly) gently steers them through a reasonably good coverage of the subject in about 45 minutes.  The entire archive of hundreds of episodes is freely available online, and I've intermittently subscribed to the podcast ever since I got a device capable of playing them. My current podcast app is set to give me the latest 3 episodes I haven't already told it I've heard, so I am mostly keeping up with new ones, and slowly catching up back in time with the ones I missed while not subscribed for a couple of years ...

I listened to two really good episodes as distraction from a migraine earlier this week.  I had only the haziest of ideas about The Gin Craze, (it forms the background for a historical romance series which included the amazing Regency Romance Batman novel, but with which I got fed up because my Opinions on prohibiting drugs are so very much at odds with that of the characters with whom I am meant to sympathise). I was delighted to discover that much of the SCANDAL of the Gin Craze was that WOMEN were making, selling and DRINKING it. Excellent stuff.

I had not previously been at all aware of the writer Harriet Martineau, who was prolific and famous in the 1800s and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about her. I think I would have liked her very much and found her deeply frustrating: she was clearly brilliant, clever, determined, incredibly judgmental and fixed in her views, and successfully supported herself and her household by her writing. The level and style of public criticism she got at times does rather demonstrate the long history of yelling at women with opinions in public to shut up, with gratuitous insult and commentary on their physical attractiveness.  (Oh, and she was partially deaf and got ridiculed for her use of an ear trumpet.)

Something new since I was last listening regularly is additional material and a reading list on the webpage for each episode, so I may follow these up some day (in my copious free time etc).


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5th-Feb-2017 11:53 pm - Fitbit goal check
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29th-Jan-2017 11:03 pm - Fitbit goal check
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22nd-Jan-2017 07:49 pm - Fitbit goal check
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16th-Jan-2017 01:41 pm - Willing to wait for it
runner5
Priority booking for Hamilton in London went on sale at noon today. I was on the priority list, I got all the information last Thursday (including the really interesting stuff about how they are doing "ticketless booking" to combat ticket resales) and did some careful thinking about how much I wanted to spend and on what combination of tickets. The booking period just encompassed my birthday next year, so I decided to go for a Saturday matinee as close as possible to my birthday (because what better way to celebrate staying alive?).

At the weekend I set up a ticketmaster account, and added my payment details, this morning I confirmed I could sign in from work, was able to navigate to the performance I wanted and see how the ticket options would go, but not to order until noon, and waited. I hit reload a few minutes before noon, and got the Ticketmaster "you are in a queue" page, which thankfully cleared not long after I'd tweeted:



For speed purposes, I didn't try to choose seats but just asked for Best Tickets, and am delighted to have got row C stalls!  I think I benefited from being near the end of the booking period, and having as much as possible pre-filled.  Now I just need to wait till next June ....


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15th-Jan-2017 08:47 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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11th-Jan-2017 07:34 pm - Reading Wednesday
runner5
What I've read: short fiction
3 short works by Rebecca Fraimow, consisting of:
What I've read: long fiction

Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows by Dan Slott & Adam Kubert
A belated present for my brother from his wishlist, which I may have sneaked a read of before handing over.  One of the n million Battleworld AUs, this has Peter and MJ and their spider-powered offspring in a dystopia where almost all the superheroes have been killed off by the tyrant in charge, and Peter spends his time hiding his and his daughter's powers and definitely not being a hero ever.  I am a bit meh about the morality that sets Protecting One's Family over and above everything else (especially as spoilerCollapse )) but the art is to my taste and I liked seeing Peter in something like a healthy and functioning relationship.

The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux.  Book 5 of The Protection of the Pack series, which I continue to find enjoyable and comforting reading.

Acquisitions:
Just the Dessa Lux.  (The Spider-Man doesn't count because it's not mine.)
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8th-Jan-2017 10:23 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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6th-Jan-2017 10:44 pm - So we're doing this (Worldcon)
runner5
I just paid for travel insurance for August and a flight to Helsinki, and booked an airport hotel for the night before our flight.  \o/

I started planning this holiday from my hospital bed in August 2015, paid for Worldcon memberships a while ago, but now we're starting to make it real.

[Travel insurance for (former) cancer patients is much easier to get than I had feared; I used a Cambridge-based specialist broker but in fact their online offering was completely sufficient.  They even included my very specific leukaemia in the drop down.]
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1st-Jan-2017 08:03 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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1st-Jan-2017 06:15 pm - Avengers icecream
silly
I read this tweet out to my brother, which made him laugh:


Nico overheard and said "The Avengers are icecream!?" which somehow led to assigning flavours:

Iron Man is obviously strawberry flavour.
Hulk is "green and purple" which I think is apple and blackcurrant.
Hawkeye is blackcurrant flavour because he is friends with Hulk (we may have watched a lot of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in this house).
Thor and Cap are both "rainbow flavour".
Black Widow is blackberry flavour..
War Machine is vanilla.
Wasp is banana flavour.

... and then my 4yo consultant ran off to do something more interesting instead, and I got asked to lay the table.



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1st-Jan-2017 11:29 am - Paying it forward meme
runner5

Seen on Facebook, tweaked a bit because I overthink things:

Let's start 2017 off in a positive way with a Pay It Forward meme.  The first 6 people to comment (and more if I can manage it) will receive a surprise from me at some point in 2017 - anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!  it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

(If you don't like surprises and would rather have something off a wishlist and/or some warning, let me know in your comment.  The goal is to make you happy.)

If you can, post this in your own journal and pay it forward.  Let's do more kind and loving things for each other in 2017, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other.



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30th-Dec-2016 01:46 pm - Economical decluttering
runner5
A few weeks ago I was trying to find a blog post I remembered Tim Harford writing about research into different perceptions of gift-giving depending on whether you are the giver or the recipient.  Along the way I also found that he'd written about Maria Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and rolled my eyes a bit (I have read enough of my friends' reactions to the book to be sure I would personally find it intensely irritating), but was interested to see how he pulled out three principles of economics that Marie Kondo is illustrating:
  • status quo bias (Kondo says throw it out unless it "sparks joy", which Harford sensibly changes to "a compelling reason to keep it")
  • diminishing returns (the tenth pair of jeans is less valuable than the second, which is why you tackle all the things of the same type in one go)
  • opportunity cost (if you can't find a beloved possession under all the other things you have, you can't enjoy it)
So this inspired me a bit to start tackling the chronic mess in the house, a lot of which is down to the fact that things don't have a home, because we haven't got room to put them away, so they don't get tidied away.  I started with the toys in the living room, because they were causing the most friction, and I also thought they were the best case of things that really should "spark joy".  (Clothing rarely does for me, for example, and I doubt the children's school uniform does either.)   It took me a good couple of hours, I did most of the work of division, with the children occasionally challenging my choices in one direction or the other, and at the end of it I had 2 carrier bags for the bin and another 9 for the charity shop.  I reckoned we removed roughly 2/3 of the toys by volume; and what remained is small enough that we can keep similar things together when tidying rather than finding it too overwhelming and shoving everything away anyhow (and making the problem worse).

Nico spontaneously spent ages over the next week playing with some specific wooden jigsaws we literally hadn't seen in months if not years, which rather gloriously illustrated Tim's point about opportunity cost.

I've done several more sessions since, especially in the last few days.  It needs me to have time and energy and inclination to spend several hours at a time sorting through a category of things, because I haven't figured out a way to bitesize it without causing even more disruption to everyone else and/or having my work undone again.  It is tiring to keep making decisions, especially potentially emotionally-fraught decisions.   I found a fourth economic concept coming to my aid: in management accounting I learned the concept of sunk costs, that is, when making decisions it doesn't matter what time and money have already been spent, what matters is the future costs/benefits that will result from the decision. 

The children have learned to trust that I won't take something away if they say they really want it, so at least now let me get on with it until I'm ready for their review, which has sped things up a bit.  And slowly the living room and bedroom spaces are becoming nicer for them.  I've finally removed enough stuff from the children's room that I can actually tidy / reorganise what is left.  This morning I asked Charles if he would rather I took him out to the cinema today, or continued working on their bedroom and he chose the latter.

And for all it seems a bit weird, I've found it sometimes helps me to let go if I say thank you to things as I put them in the discard pile.
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28th-Dec-2016 09:50 pm - Reading Wednesday
runner5
Good grief it has been six months since I managed to write one of these! I find I am not reading very much after work and textbooks, and what I do get round to reading for pleasure has been almost entirely fluffy escapist romances, and fanfic (mostly fluffy escapist romantic fanfic). I am very much appreciating the modern world where I can join the mailing lists run by several authors whose books I consistently like, and who are good at sending email notifications that they have something out, or something at a reduced price, and some of whom helpfully recommend other books they have enjoyed.


What I've read

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.

Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. [personal profile] skygiants wrote a great review of it.

Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.

Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read.  They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.


Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.

Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld
by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sudžuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
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25th-Dec-2016 09:23 pm - Scenes from my Christmas
runner5
My youngest brother arrived Christmas Eve and was drawn into a conversation with Charles about Transformers before he even put his bag down.

Finding all the presents I'd hidden as I bought them over the past half year, working out what was for who and whether there was a reasonable balance between the children.  Then wrapping them all.  I had managed not to go as overboard as in some previous years, but wrapping still took far too long, even with Tony's help towards the end.

Failing to wake Nico for the evening meal after he'd nodded off with his uncles earlier in the day.  Being interrupted about an hour after the meal by a furious and tired Nico, and spending some interminable period trying to help him through the meltdown enough to try the merits of warm milk and a cuddle.  And then staying up with him until after midnight because Christmas is too exciting!

Tony tweeting: "Father Christmas brought me four packs of coffee and a book of Cambridge barber shop tales. What is he trying to suggest?!"  (It is an open secret to everyone but Nico that I am Santa in this house.)

Calling Charles away from Minecraft to ask if he would like sparkling orange juice for elevenses like the rest of us.  He walked right up to me, paused significantly, and said "No."
"How about salmon on bread?"
"No"
"How about opening your presents?"
"Maybe"

Opening presents together: 4 adults, 2 children, approx 90% of the gifts by volume for the children.  So much fun.

Lovely food by Tony.  Pulling handmade crackers from my aunt as we all sat around the table.

Remembering that I took my last (ever, I sincerely hope!) ATRA dose last Christmas Eve.

Taking a little walk around my local streets in the evening to stretch my legs, and enjoying the variety of decorations on display.

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18th-Dec-2016 10:24 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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11th-Dec-2016 10:31 pm - Fitbit goal check
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4th-Dec-2016 09:47 pm - Fitbit goal check
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3rd-Dec-2016 06:16 pm - New glasses!
runner5
My brain is definitely still adjusting to the correction. I was highly distracted at collection by the way everything around me was Suddenly Much Sharper, and also Bent Slightly Wrong. My proprioception is a bit off still: on my walk home I began to feel as though I was about a foot shorter than usual, and stopped a couple of times to touch things for reassurance. Even now (some hours later) my laptop screen appears to be a trapezium rather than a rectangle. I am assured this will pass in time ...

A couple of obligatory phone selfies behind the cut (which also showcase my luxuriant wavy hair)

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29th-Nov-2016 12:06 pm - I continue in good health
runner5
I saw my consultant again today.  She is pleased with me, says not to worry about my recent run of colds "there's just a lot of nasty things circulating, and your bloodwork is completely normal" and is giving me six months this time before seeing her again. She reminded me as always that I can always call the department if I am worried.  I told them that I still remember very clearly what it was like getting ill in the first place, and I certainly will get in touch if I think it is happening again.  After all, my confidence in my knowledge of my own body has been borne out, if not in the happiest of ways! 

Bone marrow samples will continue at 3-monthly intervals until three years after "end-of-therapy".  We are now at 11 months after end-of-therapy, so nearly 1/3 of the way there.  I asked if I was right to assume that they would call me if there was anything to be concerned about in the bone marrow samples, rather than waiting for my next appointment, and she confirmed that this is the case.

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27th-Nov-2016 09:18 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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26th-Nov-2016 04:34 pm - Glasses update
runner5
I went for my eye test yesterday, and confirmed that my prescription has changed a small but measurable amount since the previous test in February.  I then shopped around a bit for frames, and ended up ordering 2 cheap frames from Specsavers.  One with antireflective coating and one without.  I pick them up next Saturday, so there will probably be some photos then ...

(For future reference: I have since learned that Boots offer a 25% student discount, which along with their providing antireflective coatings by default probably tips the price balance their way for next time.)

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23rd-Nov-2016 05:43 pm - Shaun in the City
runner5
Last summer in Bristol, we found 38 of the 70 sheep placed on trails around the city. I am now decommissioning the user account on which we ran the app to record which sheep we found, so I'm transcribing for long-term reference (and reminding myself of all the puns). I'm linking to the official page about each sheep. At some future date I may actually sort out the memory card full of photos of children posing by each and every sheep we found, but this will do for now.
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23rd-Nov-2016 12:13 pm - Seasonal greetings cards
runner5
If you would like a seasonal greeting card from me, and you think I might not have your current postal address, please comment below (all comments screened). 
  • If you didn't get a card from me last year, that is a pretty good indication I don't have your address. 
  • If you would like a card but can't leave a comment, my email address is in my profile and you are welcome to drop me an email with your address.
  • Most of my cards are generic Seasons Greetings; if you would particularly like / particularly object to a card with a religious greeting, please let me know in your comment/email.
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17th-Nov-2016 02:18 pm - Status: paddling madly
runner5
It's the kind of work week where I take a break from fixing something terribly urgent in order to fix something else terribly urgent. (And yes, I get a kick from being good at fixing stuff, but it's very wearing when it's non-stop urgency.)

Meanwhile at home and in studying I am behind on everything, so they're both heading into constantly-firefighting territory too. Argh. On the other hand I'm just about getting enough sleep again, and I'm having that lovely feeling of wellbeing that comes once one is fully over a cold, and I remembered to get some vitamin D supplements for this winter.


Three things that amused me recently:

1. Nico knows about high fives, and high tens, but this week he offered me a fist bump and said "High Zero!"

2. The romance novel genre has many many subgenres: regency, shapeshifters, billionaires, SEALs, shapeshifter SEALs, werewolf marines, etc. This week my kindle app offered me "Billionaire Aviators" which tickled me immensely (and reminded me obviously of Top Gun, which I watched at a very impressionable age).

3. We had a team-building thingy at work where we had to anonymously write down something about ourselves and the team had to guess in turn which person had written which thing. The trouble with this is finding a Thing that isn't really obviously me AND that I'm happy to disclose at work. I gave up on being hard to guess and just wrote "My favourite superhero is the Hulk". Surprisingly few people guessed right, several more were like "of course! how did I not guess you!", and then I looked down and realised I was wearing Hulk socks.

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15th-Nov-2016 10:27 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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9th-Nov-2016 06:27 pm - Right, so.
runner5
I lasted until 8:30am before accidentally finding out the result of the US presidential election (in that the people running the Economist app thought pushing a notification onto my phone was the best way to share such news).

I think I am less shocked and upset than I was by the Brexit result in June, but more scared. In June, I found it extremely helpful to follow my usual routine: take care of the children, go to work, fix things. My studying went off a cliff though, perhaps because it didn't immediately affect anyone but me, unlike my work and home obligations. Luckily the module concerned wasn't one I needed to do more than pass, so handing in one duff assignment didn't matter too much (and no, I wasn't going to ask for an extension or accommodation for "I am deeply upset by Brexit").

"Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on." For me that means sticking to my ongoing efforts to recover my health and effectiveness, take care of my family and finish my degree. Do the job in front of me, as best I can, and (re)build my capacity to do more in the long term.



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6th-Nov-2016 10:31 am - Weekend off
runner5
Between the end of the cold, and last week's travel to see family, and working full time this week and getting an OU assignment in, I am pretty shattered. I declared it a weekend off, or as much as I could manage, when I got home on Friday.  Yesterday I took Nico to dance classes and a birthday party and then went to bed for the rest of the day.  Today the only thing I have to do is take Nico to gymnastics.  Charles is having a friend over, but Tony is in charge of supervising them.  I may get some of my to-do list done, but only if I really want to.  I may just read this week's acquisitions: The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London 6) and Penric's Mission (thanks [personal profile] davidgillon for tipping me off to the latter).

Dance classes plural were because Nico took a trial tap class after his existing ballet class.  He was a bit reluctant to go in, so I sat in the studio with him (with the teacher's permission).  He joined in a bit and then came back to me and said tap was great but he couldn't join in again until he had his own tap shoes that fit properly.  I rewarded this excellent negotiation with a trip to the dancewear store and the entire tap class uniform, not just the shoes. 

The dance school is on the top 1.5 floors of a 3-storey building on our nearest main road.  The dancewear store takes up the other half-floor, and on the ground floor is a cafe and a paint/wallpaper store.  All the businesses are independent, but being a student at the school gets a 10% discount on dancewear, and (I discovered yesterday), spending money in the dancewear store gets us a 10% discount in the cafe.  That made me smile.


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runner5


I am actually pretty excited for Moana anyway, but I got even more so with what's implied by the lyrics here:

"I wish I could be the perfect daughter, but I come back to the water ...
I can lead with pride, I can make us strong ... but the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?"

a. family expectations vs individual wishes is my jam
b. she's expected to be the next leader (contrast with Brave, and Merida merely expected to elevate the next leader by marriage)


Also I just really love this song, it's very earwomy but in a good way, and a completely different feel from Hamilton & In The Heights

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2nd-Nov-2016 02:08 pm - Vanity: glasses
runner5
I am almost certainly getting glasses at the end of the month[1], and I have NO IDEA how to choose glasses.  Please advise!  
  • I will be wearing them for reading and screen work, so the vast majority of my waking time, ahahaha.  
  • I will have a very low strength prescription, which I think means the available choice will be huge.  
Would it be terrible to buy a couple of cheap frames of very different design, and then go back in a few months when I have developed Opinions through usage?  What even is the decision space?  Shapes? Colours? Materials? Construction?  What are the common buyer mistakes / obnoxious selling behaviours in the market?


[1] I've had very mild astigmatism in my right eye for years, and it has very slowly been worsening, and it has recently passed the threshold of "I am noticing this and it is annoying me on a daily basis".  I am off to the optometrist for an up-to-date eye test and then some glasses.  Ah the joys of approaching 40. 


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1st-Nov-2016 08:28 pm - Fitbit goal check
runner5
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30th-Oct-2016 10:22 am - My life in bulletpoints
runner5
  • I still have a cough.  I've progressed to the point where I am no longer stupid ill with it, I just ... cough a lot.  I'm not getting enough sleep as a result, but I'm definitely getting better.  Just slowly.
  • I went for my quarterly bone marrow sample on Wednesday; it was probably the least-unpleasant experience yet.  I got the doctor who is particularly skilled at taking them.  I'm pretty certain if there was anything to worry about I'd have had a phone call by now, so I am not worrying.
  • The children had half-term off school, and we sent them to holiday club for 3 days and took 2 days as family holiday to Sheffield where the newest and tiniest cousin is.  As usual, the highlights of Sheffield for the children were, in order: a) trams b) Ponds Forge swimming pool c) their family (especially tiny cousins).
  • I took the children swimming twice in Sheffield.  Charles's birthday party earlier in the month was the first time I've been swimming since getting ill, and I had almost forgotten how much I like it.  Taking them to Ponds Forge is more walking-around-in-water than swimming, especially as I was solely responsible for non-swimmer Nico, but it was fun anyway. 
  • Between cough and holiday and sleep deprivation I am behind on everything and have an assignment deadline on Thursday.  Essay crisis ahoy!
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21st-Oct-2016 12:27 pm - Fitbit goal update: floors
runner5
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21st-Oct-2016 09:27 am - Coldridden
grouchy
The children have had a day each off school this week due to getting a cold - in both cases a day of rest at home has been more than enough to get them recovered.  Tony seems untouched.

I've been ill since Tuesday night, no improvement in sight, and as of this morning I've lost my voice.  The children found that a lot funnier than I did.

One of my friends from work, who had a similar leukaemia to me several years earlier, told me that she still finds colds hit harder and take longer to recover from than before the cancer.  So maybe it's not surprising.  But so so tedious.  And I keep having to talk down the bit of my brain that panics when I get breathless climbing the stairs, because honestly brain it's much more likely that I'm breathless because I have a stinking cold than because the cancer has come back, and I wasn't breathless climbing the stairs before I caught this cold.

It's not flu and I'm not running a temperature, I'm just bunged up and stupid and fed up.



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20th-Oct-2016 09:20 pm - Engaging smug mode again
runner5
I was expecting results for the last set of OU modules I took to come in at the end of next week but two modules came back this evening.  And I am very pleased.  (The rest is behind a cut for boasting.)
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14th-Oct-2016 10:08 pm - Fitbit goal update: steps
runner5
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8th-Oct-2016 08:53 pm - Fatigue - still lurking
runner5
Seeing In The Heights was amazing a couple of weeks ago (see babble in previous entry), but it also left me completely shattered the next day.  It was both frustrating and kind-of encouraging because I haven't felt that bad in a while. It did make me realise how far I've come that my current "normal" is so much better than e.g. the "normal" of my holiday in May.

This week I caught a cold and had to take two days off work because I had No Brain.  I went back Friday but I was s o  s l o w.  Again, much more like me-several-months-ago rather than me-now.   I have survived helping to run Charles's birthday party today but I've managed little else, and soon I'll have to go to bed if I don't want to feel deathly tomorrow.

Getting enough sleep is really really boring and really really essential.

One practical consequence is that the best day for me to go see In The Heights again is a Sunday.  The show is at 6pm so if I cycle to the station rather than taxi I could be home by 10:30pm.  Of course, that's a school night so not entirely ideal, but more so than the Tuesday matinee, which finishes bang in the middle of rush hour.



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8th-Oct-2016 08:25 pm - In The Heights
runner5
I went to see this a fortnight ago in London. The short version: I really, really loved it; the dancing and staging are both amazing; the music has been taking over my brain nearly as much as a certain other musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda; I will definitely be going to see it again in the next few months. (If you want to come see it with me, let me know; it's taking bookings until 8th January)

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6th-Oct-2016 10:22 am - On this day
rmcf+fcdf
Twenty years ago, I arrived in Cambridge with a carload of belongings to begin my (first) university degree.  I remember that partway down the M4 Mum & I realised that although we'd carefully put the bike rack on the car, we'd failed to also add my bike, which languished in Wiltshire for at least another year.[1]   I also managed to leave behind the welcome leaflet from the College with helpful driving directions, so we navigated through Cambridge on my optimism and hazy memory of walking around the place on two previous visits.  In retrospect I'm quite impressed Mum didn't drown me in the Cam.

Ten years ago I gave birth to Charles in the Rosie Maternity Hospital at Addenbrookes', by unplanned c-section after a day and a night in labour.

Today, shortly after 6am, Charles informed me he was ready for school and could he start opening his presents now?


[1] I ended up spending £65 with Chris the bike man on a 3-speed sit-up-and-beg bike with a good basket which I used for at least a year.  I can't remember what I did with it when I finally retrieved my own bike from home - my guess is I sold it back to Chris the bike man?


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runner5
Last August, I arbitrarily declared every day after 1st October 2015 "a win, a gift of medical science and care". What have I been doing with that gift in the last year?
  • I successfully completed chemotherapy!  I've had three follow-up tests, which continue to show me clear of leukaemia.
  • I returned to work, and have been working 4-4.5 days a week since April thanks to judicious use of accumulated annual leave. I am about to start working 5-day weeks routinely, and feel reasonably confident about it.
  • [livejournal.com profile] fanf and I did a short course of couples therapy with a Maggies Wallace counsellor, by way of preventative maintenance.
  • I completed a year of Open University study at nearly full-time load, and enrolled on another full-time year to complete my degree.
  • I have recovered a lot of the fitness lost through 5 months of chemotherapy: by no means all of it, but steadily improving week on week and month on month.  For the past few months I've made deliberate, targeted use of my fancy fitbit (ironically, bought less than a month before I began chemo) to measure and motivate myself.
  • I've recently got much better at getting enough sleep, also through use of my fitbit.
  • I've done the necessary admin to get our children into the school and childcare we wanted for them, and the extra scheduled activities each of them wanted.
  • I've just about kept our finances under control, and spotted a pattern of overspending in time for both of us to stop it being a disaster.
  • [livejournal.com profile] fanf and I have kept the children's routines going steadily, and the house just about under control.
  • I've built up a good set of reminders on Regularly to keep most of the plates spinning approximately at the right frequency.
  • I've fallen in love with two musicals, been to the theatre multiple times and taken my children to the ballet twice.

I've said before that my big revelation from serious illness was that the life I'd built was bloody good thanks and I wanted it back.  I think I'm doing a good job of getting there!  Two smaller revelations/reminders were the importance to me of music, and of learning.  In hospital there was a period where I got through each day with a specific playlist and as much Duolingo as my brain would take; even now I try to spend some time every day listening to music, and some time every day learning.


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29th-Sep-2016 09:11 pm - I'm trying to finish an essay
runner5
Have a trio of musical videos on a Lin-Manuel Miranda theme:

"Alexander Hamilton" (opening track to the musical Hamilton) in American Sign Language: absolutely riveting, brilliant use of rhythm, I accidentally fell down a rabbithole of ASL-signed Hamilton tracks of varying skill and production quality after this.  If only I understood ASL, or even BSL (funnily enough searching for BSL-signed Hamilton stuff gets me nowhere, I don't think there's a big enough fanbase here yet). 

"What the Heck I Gotta Do" - opening track to 21 Chump Street: a 14-minute musical about an undercover drugs officer and the high school student who fell in love with her.  The full video used to be on youtube and vimeo but I failed to find it again; also the cast album is available from the usual digital marketplaces.  It's ridiculously earwormy,, which means I find myself singing songs ALL DAY LONG that remind me how much I disagree with the War on Drugs, and I'm Not Doing Politics for at least another year, damnit.

"Usnavi's KX rap" - a promotional video for In The Heights at the King's Cross Theatre, which I saw last Saturday and will write more about when this dratted essay is done.  (Short version: I really, really liked it, and that video gives you something of a feel for it.)

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21st-Sep-2016 12:29 pm - First day of school
runner5
In which I discovered that the size 3-4 trousers are still too long, but Nico insisted he would rather wear trousers with the cuffs rolled up than the dark leggings that also meet the school "dress code". Why do I forget that my children are short in the leg for their height?

A frantic online shop later, all the supermarkets start at 3-4, but M&S had some 2-3 school trousers, so they are on their way. (What this says about customer demographics and expected-age-of-first-uniform I leave as an exercise to the reader.)

Anyway, have two pictures (second behind the cut). And if you want to compare, here are the ones I shared of Charles 5 years ago.

First day of school

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16th-Sep-2016 12:28 pm - A goodbye and a hello
runner5
It's Nico's last day at nursery today, so I've made my last commute run there this morning and said goodbye to the staff I've got to know well over the last nearly-four years.  Nico now has a long weekend before starting school next Wednesday - one day with me and one with Tony to do Fun Stuff before the big day.  I'm looking forward to walking both legs of my commute instead of cycling nearly 3 times as far on one of them.

Mid-morning I had a text from my brother-in-law to say that his wife had gone into labour and they were headed for unplanned c-section as baby was breech.  Less than an hour later I had photos of my newest nibling and two happy parents, and found myself having a wee emotional moment in the office.

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14th-Sep-2016 11:19 pm - Fitbit goal update: floors
runner5
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12th-Sep-2016 05:10 pm - How not to prepare for an exam
runner5
  • Go away the weekend before the exam.
  • Have your train journey in both directions disrupted by cancellations and delays, so that instead of a smooth progression between sets of reserved seats at a table, both journeys are longer and punctuated with stressful searches for enough seats for your small group. 
  • Exhaust yourself talking with people at a party.  (Lovely people! Worth being tired for!)
  • Do approximately 25% of the revision you planned to do on the train.
  • Get woken multiple times the night before the exam by a small child, and then both of you oversleep.
  • Ruthlessly hand over the morning nursery run to the child's other parent and cycle off just in time to take it at a non-sweaty pace rather than a frantically-late one.

The cycle ride was pleasant though! The exam itself went well enough: I don't seem to find exams very stressful compared to twenty years ago, so it was just a matter of reading through the questions and deciding (where I had a choice) which ones to answer.  I would undoubtedly have done better if I had revised my management and economics units a bit harder, but I don't think I've embarrassed myself. 

I spent some time last week (when perhaps I should have been revising ...) working out my schedule for the next year, starting now.  I have one last assignment to do this week and this weekend I plan to make a start on the work for my October-starting courses.  My last exam is no more than a year away.  April & May will be a bit grim due to overlapping courses but June-September should be alright.  (Good, because we're going to Helsinki in the middle of it.)

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