Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!

I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.

Music I Dislike

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:59 am
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[personal profile] oracne
I was thinking this morning about the very few music groups I don't like, and why I don't like them. This was prompted by a song coming on the radio and me turning it off.

1. Steely Dan. I know, I know, Bard College. But the main singer's voice irritates the crap out of me. It's so...whiny. It feels like it is scraping every nerve. The twangy stuff in the background exacerbates the effect.

2. Elvis Costello. His voice is so-so to me, but also, an ex-boyfriend loved his stuff.

3. Florence and the Machine. I should like this band, but all their songs sound too similar to me, and there's not enough change within the songs, either with the style or within the singer's voice. Maybe if it was more Metal? Because I am okay with the repetitive nature of a lot of Metal, and Industrial. Regardless, the singer's voice always sounds a bit strained to me as well, so I guess there's subconscious discomfort with that.

4. Frank Sinatra. I have never liked his voice. I have no idea why. He gives me the creeps like knowing some man is following you down a dark street.

5. Kenny G. No, no, no. *cries*

What about ya'll?

I had a weekend!

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:32 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Saturday was very hot and humid. I did laundry, stumbled home, then stumbled out again to run errands. I ran into a friend (Tom Purdom) in front of a coffee shop so we went inside and got iced drinks and talked about Dunkirk as one does, since we were both planning to see the movie.

I got cash and bought subway tokens and sweated a lot.

Then I met up with C. in late afternoon for the movie Dunkirk, which we saw in IMAX, bass and the sounds of explosions booming from under out seats. I ate popcorn for lunch while watching people get blown up and drown and burn but also get rescued. Sometimes all of the above, in different orders.

This movie was what I call a Spectacle. I liked it best when it was all stark visuals and no dialogue (the dialogue was minimal). The splendid British actors did a great deal with their faces and posture; Tom Hardy as a Spitfire pilot acted almost entirely with his eyes, as the rest of his face was covered in helmet. (Jack Lowden, playing another pilot, was out of his cockpit for more screntime.) The movie was documentary-style, where you don't know the characters' backstory or hopes or dreams (with one exception); you're in the moment throughout, and the moment keeps jumping around, and you can't always keep track of the sequence. I feel I had an experience worth having.

After, being much luckier than those poor people trapped at Dunkirk, we had dinner at a great new tapas place in South Philly called Barcelona. Cue Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe!

SeaLavender of Simmer

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:58 pm
[personal profile] ismo
After a long day of various tests, my mother is back at home in her apartment, apparently with no diagnosis. I haven't heard a detailed rundown from the Duchess yet, but the stress test revealed she has a strong heart and is not having cardiac insufficiency. They think that maybe her hiatal hernia caused her to feel some pain that was referred to her chest area. The general weakness and shortness of breath might have been caused by the fact that it's been very hot out, and she has been eating less than usual because she felt too busy and food didn't seem appetizing. I'm sorry the Duchess had to spend hours and hours at the hospital, and I also appreciate her very much for doing it! I offered to come down and help out, but she said "one of us is enough!"

I didn't sleep well last night, both because of worry and because my joints were painful. I had taken a walk to try to start back on the road to restoration after a week of travel, which is always debilitating. So I've been kind of groggy all day, as well as distracted by texting about my mother. I enjoyed a visit from the Duchess' daughter, Dr. Nurse. I felt impelled to make some cookies before her arrival, just in case she brought her young man along. As it turned out, he didn't come, but I sent her off with a bag full of cookies for their road trip to his brother's wedding in Indiana. Then I had lunch with the Unitarian ladies. It was kind of hard making conversation with them all. Much of the talk was about problems too similar to my own: a mother having to be moved to a higher level of care, loved ones with health problems, sad thoughts about recent deaths. I welcomed the occasional cat story or new haircut!

After that, I was very very tired, took a nap, and woke up just in time to call my mother and find her being helped into her bed, safe at home. I'm very grateful for the assisted care home, where I know she'll be watched over. In between things, I read bits of my latest self-help book, Gretchen Rubin's "Better than Before." It's all about how to form and benefit by good habits. Alas, pretty much all the things she describes as being bad for your habit formation are things that I do. I was so glad to get home from my travels, and had all kinds of intentions to get back to work and accomplish many splendid things. It has not worked out that way . . . but maybe tomorrow . . . .

Blech Summer.

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:37 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
We are having a run of very hot, very high-humidity days like Philly does get, but usually they don't last more than a few days. It's been a bit more than that this summer. Do Not Want.

I want autumn and wearing layers and pulling out things made of wool.

Speaking of wool, I am wearing new sneakers made of wool today, for which I paid full price and I don't care because my poor arthritic foot bones are loving them so very much. The tops are soft! The insides are soft! There appears to be adequate support! They are from Allbirds and I never want to take them off. For the most part, they are not too hot, though I haven't tried them standing in the high humidity all day yet.

I am tempted to buy a pair of the loungers as well, for dayjob wear. (I snuck the sneakers in today because it's Friday and also hardly anyone is here.)

Mirage of Simmer

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:19 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Well, it never rains but it pours. I just got back from Readercon and post-Readercon visiting last night around midnight. I was going to blog about the con, but just before I planned to call my mother, I got a call from the Duchess to say she was on her way over to take my mother to the ER. Apparently Mother felt short of breath this morning. She told the helper that she didn't feel good, and the helper offered to take her immediately to the ER. Which is what should have happened! However, Mother is wily and talked the helper into letting her take a little nap to see if she would feel better. They checked up on her frequently throughout the day, but they didn't take her to the ER. So, then as evening approached, she naturally started feeling a bit apprehensive, and called the Duchess, who was not going to take no for an answer. She immediately took Mother to the hospital. So far, her EKG is normal, and one blood test has come back with no indications of a recent heart attack. They have to stay at the hospital for two more hours so another test can be done. Then she'll stay overnight for observation, either in the ER near her residence, where she is now, or in the larger hospital in the next town if necessary. It would have been much better if she had called the Duchess earlier. Trying "not to make trouble" for anyone usually ends up making more trouble!

So I've spent my time this evening getting texts and making phone calls. I let Queenie know what was going on. She has a bleeding ulcer and is anemic as a result. Her husband, the Fireman, is having his gall bladder problems assessed and will be meeting with the doctor tomorrow to find out what should be done about them. Oh, and there was a storm in Wisconsin where their daughter, the Former Naval Person, lives, and a tree fell in her back yard and crushed her motorcycle. Oy!!

I had a good time at the con, but further discussion will have to wait, alas. I'm not too worried about my mother, because I think there's very little chance that she's having heart problems. Something seems to be wrong, but I don't think it is anything drastic at this point. If anything, it's a relief that she will be admitted for observation so they can figure it out.

Some is Better Than None

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:01 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
My schedule, during the workday and during the evenings, is pretty busy this week, but I did go to the gym last night. I did alternating sets of push-ups and squats, some tricep and upper body stuff, a tiny bit of "bicycle" leg works and a great deal of stretching.

I've been very lazy (also injured) this summer, and I could really feel it as I exercised. But as usual, the first set of push-ups was the worst, and they were less painful after that. I even did one set with my hands close together, which is the hardest for me. My wrists are no worse than usual this morning. My fingers are pretty swollen and not very bendy this morning. The high humidity today might be contributing.

Today is the staff luncheon, and then my group is leaving to do a team-building thing. Tonight, dinner at Kabobeesh. I don't think I will get much done.

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:40 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I read two books in the last week!

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee is more straightforwardly comprehensible than Ninefox Gambit, but still had lots of wonderfully weird worldbuilding and characters with complex motivations. Plus, there were a couple of moments where I said, "Whoa. Wow," which I will not spoil here. Two books in, I still think this is one of the most creative science fiction worlds I've read in a long while.

I finished Raven Stratagem on Monday, my recovery day from Readercon, and then dove into The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss, which I finished last night, and which is about monsters and about women, and how they can be the same thing. I think if you like Karen Joy Fowler's work, you might like this, and also if you love meta and revisionist tales and/or things set in Victorian England and relating to the stories of the nineteenth century. Goss works with female creations of fictional scientists (or hypothetical female creations/daughters) from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (which I have not read). Also, Holmes and Watson are in it, because of course they are. But overall, this is a meta novel, periodically festooned with commentary from the female characters about themselves, their stories, how their stories are told, and the idea of what a novel should be and how it should be written. And besides all that, it was fun. Highly recommended, because I think a lot of my Dreamwidth friends would like this, and I would love to hear what you think about it even if you don't like it.

Readercon 2017 Report

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:20 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I saw many, many people at Readercon, none of them for long enough, but still managed to use up my extrovert energy supply for several years. Goodbye is the hardest part.

My panels went well from my pov, and I had a few people (not people I already knew) tell me they enjoyed them, so that seems good! Next time, I think I will skip anything at 8:00 pm, though, because I have no brain left by then.

When I was home and not working yesterday, I did laundry then spent the rest of the day napping and reading in blessed seclusion.

[personal profile] yhlee gave me a test tube with a Dalek seal on top which makes me very, very happy. I am going to use it as a container for my tiny glow-in-the-dark 3D-printed Daleks and make little squeeing noises at it.

First day of Readercon

Jul. 14th, 2017 12:45 am
[personal profile] ismo
My good friend the Nonesuch kindly drove me from his place to Quincy, and I'm happily installed at Readercon. I immediately saw several friends, which is my favorite thing. I was so happy to see them all again. We ate dinner in shifts as more people appeared and sat down, and then most of us went off to do 8 pm panels. I thought the one I was on went pretty well, and I was pleased with it. I took a break to call the Sparrowhawk, and then went back downstairs to socialize some more. Tomorrow is my biggest day, with two more panels and a reading. If I get through that all right, I will be happy.

Not-Reading Wednesday

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:22 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I turned in my PW review on Sunday, and since then have not been reading a lot except bits of magazines and bits of fanfiction that I delete before finishing because it's not hitting the spot.

I started reading Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, sequel to Ninefox Gambit, but am only a little way into it. So far, it is a much easier read, with explanations of how this very complex and creative world works.

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Timothy Zeddies

July 2017

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