A breath for Wednesday.
I got my scholarship report form done, and some composing, and wound down the thing I was going to wind down, and poked at the Cecilia's List database and website some more, and did a bunch of planning.
There is not enough sleep in the entire world. I could say this is partly due to a nutrtional change, or the weather, or the diminishing daylight, and that would all be true, but it's mostly due to the really obvious: staying up way too late, even though I know I don't sleep well in the mornings. Some of this was warranted, some of it was... not wrong timing, exactly, but after a run of late nights it feels odd and tricky to get back onto earlier ones again. Things feel really hard when I don't give the perishing meatsack enough sleep. A breath for snoring.
There is a Social Situation that is so concerning, I'm considering writing to Captain Awkward about it. I'm not going to go into the details here, but it involves in-person interactions and keepng myself and a friend safe. A breath for trusting my instincts. A breath for asking for help.
I am getting different messages from different places about my PhD requirements, and it is freaking me out. I suspect either I've been automagically added to the wrong mailing list, or there are some new requirements for PhD students as a result of a faculty merger thing which are not really on the radar yet for my supervisors; in any case, it's basically a case of Schrödinger's Research Paper, ie I don't know whether I have to write and present one. A breath for it's just one paper, not an entire PhD. A breath for calm down and find out which information is correct.
Frustrating paypal-related admin is frustrating, and blocking my access to (already paid-out) income from Patreon. The timing of this -- while my spouse is changing jobs and we have a gap in our income -- is... unfortunate. A breath for slow bureaucracy taking as long as it takes.
I didn't meet any of the composing competition deadlines this past weekend.
I caught the staying up too late and have made some progress toward shifting it, though the test wll be this evening when I have a rehearsal until 21.30 and don't get home until at least 22.30. A breath for feeling a bit better already.
I am trying a much-simplified morning routine: 7am wake/wash/dress, 8am breakfast, 9am walk/cycle/movement, 10am work until lunch (with wifi off, no less). That's... a long time for each of those things. But it also recognises that realistically, after I shower I hate getting dressed immediately and prefer to sit around in a towel and dressing gown until I'm quite a bit more dry and it isn't always appropriate for me to do that while eating breakfast. It recognises that on a bad jointcrap day, everything takes longer and I may need to either walk slowly, or abort the walk and do physio instead. It recognises that having exactly 17 minutes to eat my breakfast doesn't play well with my anxiety about getting things done. It recognises that afternoons are wiggly and appointment-ful. So far, this feels kinder than some of my previous routine attempts. We'll see. A breath for experimentation. A breath for noticing what I need and what I don't need.
I have e-mailed one of my supervisors to ask for clarification re: Schrödinger's Research Paper. A breath for seeking clarity. At the moment I'm not yet in trouble over this: a gold star for not letting it get that bad. Worst-case scenario looks like: I have to Do the Thing and Nobody Knew. So, I submit a topic by 1st November, make an extra trip to Aberdeen mid-December to present. This is not actually terrible in terms of how it interacts with my other deadlines and financial stuffs. A breath for perspective.
Someone made a donation to help get Cecilia's List up and running, which means that once the frustrating paypal-related admin stops being frustrating, there is money to spend on a proper domain name, and some adverts in things like Choir and Organ magazine. A breath for encouragement.
My maybe-bricked smartphone isn't. Another customer on the support forums gave me useful information about the magic button presses to get to recovery mode, wipe the data, and start over. Would that the actual tech support people had done so a week and a half ago; but a breath for all timing is right timing. I spent some time yesterday getting it set up again with my various preferred apps and aids, and will in due course give the borrowed Nokia 3310 back to the friend I borrowed it from. A breath for technology. A breath for easier connectivity on my own terms. A breath for not exacerbating jointcrap by pressing buttons to type.
I have realised it may be possible for me to get cheap-ish "spare" spectacles from one of the online places, and that extended-wear contact lenses are a thing, and a rather better one than they were last time I tried contact lenses around fifteen years ago. Given my current specs are held together with superglue and it's been over three years since my last eye test, it's time to do somethng about this, but I had been putting it off because of the expense, and then worrying my glasses might break. But now I can visit the optician, get my prescription, and order glasses online -- relatively cheaply -- and if my glasses break I will not be as badly off as I had feared. And if it looks like contacts are a thing, then I may only ever need the "spare" glasses. All this depends on my prescription (which may be too strong for the online glasses ordering, let alone the fancy shmancy contact lenses), but it no longer feels overwhelming and terrible. A breath for relief.
Composing! Phd-related: St Lawrence's Tears. Chapel choir commission. Some competitions for end of October: three I'd really like to enter, a further two I could enter. Of the first three, one is a Canadians-only one that I've done some of the groundwork for (for another competition, not entered); one is a set-text hymn tune (I can crank these out fairly reliably); one is Canadians-only and fairly prestgious, but also postal entry which can pose some practical challenges. Of the "could enter", one is a set-text carol which could be done hymn-style, and one is a carol which would be ideal for "Like Silver Lamps". There are things already-written I coudl put on Patreon, and I might opt for that this time, simply because I have so much other composing to do. None of these have to be done this week, but this week will be important in laying groundwork to get them done.
Cecilia's List: keep working on the database. E-mail some more composers to ask for catalogues of their sacred works (yes, eventually I'll just get them to fill out a form and it will be automagical, but for now it's all hand-picked). Write a press release, or pay someone to write one for me. Keep poking at the website.
Maintenance: book an appointment with the optician, and another with the dentist. Attempt some kind of catch up on filing and tidying.
Basically? Keep going with the daly routine I have now. Tomorrow I'm meeting someone mid-day-ish, so my walk gets replaced by a commute, but then there is somewhere quiet I can work. From Saturday to Wednesday, I'm away in Salisbury with ULCC. We're singing the services Monday-Wednesday. I'm intending to use the time as a sort of composing retreat, hiding away in my room (or a quiet corner of the cathedral) as much as possible in the morning and early afternoon, and doing more social stuff in the evenings. This will take a bit of negotiation with people who may have assumed I'll be treating it as more of a holiday, but I have a PLN on how to handle that.
I need to make sure I get enough laundry done to get me through, before I pack.
How are you?
What have you done? What are your quests? What is your favourite food? What is hard in your life? What is good? What is your PLN (or plan)?
It's very good at what it does.
It's very shivery when they realise how far the horrible grey mist on the universe has spread.
It sets up a very convincing backdrop of angels and other beings fighting against badness with human help, in ways where this is how the universe works, and what people stumble upon is the same stuff that scientists like the childrens' parents are just starting to discover.
The characters of the children (well, mostly Meg and precious Charles Wallace at this point) are very good.
I stumbled on the narrative convention of mentor figures swooping in and saying "hey children, only you can do this, you need to go through this set of trials, when this happens, do this, you don't need to know about X, good luck". Like, that's a common narrative convention that works very well: you just don't question too hard the mentor figures have some special insight into how quests turn out. It's especially useful in childrens books because you can explain what needs to happen directly to the main character and reader. (Think of all the stories of stumbling onto the first person you meet in a secondary world who says, you need to do X, Y and Z.) But eventually you read too many books where it doesn't work like that that you start to question. Even if you don't ask if they might be lying, you wonder, could they really not spare twenty minutes to summarise the biggest risks and how to avoid them? How do they know what's going to happen? If this is all preordained, they why are they providing even this much help, and if not, and the fate of the world hangs on it, can they really not provide any more help?
This is partly me having been spoiled for some simple narrative conventions by being exposed to too many variants, and possibly (?) me not understanding theology well enough (I'm not sure how much this is something that is supposed to actually happen for real, and how mcuh it's just a book thing?) It doesn't always fail me, this is basically how Gandalf acts all the way through LOTR "OK, now we're going to do this because, um, fate" and I'm happy to accept it all at face value, even when other people quibble, but in some books it bothers me.
- Captains Gabriel Lorca and Matthew Gideon: "obstinate, difficult, independent, not prone to following orders from home, not politically astute...but he'll get the job done" (quote via Wikipedia).
- Michael Burnham and John Matheson: not trusted by all of their crewmates.
- "Discovery" and "Excalibur": experimental ships running on a blend of technologies.
- The tension between conflict and exploration: the intended rôles for the ships and how we see them, and the series in question considered against its progenitor.
[Though I think taking it too far and living as if "I don't have to work toward this because it's already done," might be counterproductive. Still work to make the change you want catch up to you.]
It's been showing signs of distress for a few days now, doing that thing it does of not draining properly. We flush the toilet or run water in the sink, and the bath goes GLUG GLUG GLUG. Not good. However, yesterday when I flushed the toilet, some of the er, effluent ended up in the bath. Which is about as delightful as it sounds.
Richard did a full day at work then stayed up quite literally all night clearing the downpipe with a high pressure hose, and only went to bed at 7.30 am. He is my hero! The poor bugger couldn't eat anything until 6.30 am because he was too nauseated, and I have left Emergency Laundry running overnight else he wouldn't have any trousers to wear to work (and it's too cold to go in shorts).
The problem is not completely fixed since although the downpipe is now cleared, water running through it is not reaching the sewer. As the problem occurs on our property, Thames Water won't help, so we will have to find a professional and (probably) claim on our insurance. Does anyone have the faintest idea how to do this? I mean, regarding claiming on the insurance, we probably just have to find the policy document and ring the insurers with the policy number and details of the work which needs to be done. But where on earth do we find a good professional plumber who handles drains and sewers? Do we ask the insurance company to recommend someone?
To add further complication, our back garden will probably have to be dug up, and it is currently a jungle. I'm hoping my parents might be available in the next few days to get it cleared, although that involves Dealing With My Parents.
In this case, there were some failing tests and I was trying to debug some of them, and the result was the same every time, but only when I ran a failing test by itself and it passed did I realise that the tests weren't actually independent. They weren't actually non-deterministic in that the same combination of tests always had the same result, but I hadn't realised what was going on.
And in fact, I'd not validated the initial state of some tests enough, or I would have noticed that what was going wrong was not what the test *did* but what it started with.
I was doing something like, there was some code that loaded a module which contained data for the game -- initial room layout, rules for how-objects-interact, etc. And I didn't *intend* to change that module. Because I'm used to C or C++ header files, I'd forgotten that could be possible. But when I created a room based on the initial data, I copied it without remembering to make sure I was actually *copying* all the relevant sub-objects. And then when you move stuff around the room, that (apparently) moved stuff around in the original copy in the initialisation data module.
And then some other test fails because everything has moved around.
Once I realised, I tested a workaround using deepcopy, but I need to check the one or two places where I need a real copy and implement one there instead.
Writing a game makes me think about copying objects a lot more than any other sort of programming I've done.
"One week after Jeff Sessions changed DOJ policy by refusing to protect transgender people under Title VII and launched a sweeping license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, he's seeking credit for prosecuting a hate crime? We believe Americans deserve an Attorney General willing to address systemic discrimination and enforce policies and laws that prevent hate violence in the first plac
-- Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, 2017-10-15
(One proximate cause of this is that, through the Python community, I've met multiple nice people who are organizing or championing PyCon North America in Cleveland in 2018 and 2019, and who will show me around a bit. Another is the United Airlines rep who, while trying to reroute us on our solar eclipse trip, said, "The only place in the United States I can get you tonight is Cleveland" which sounds more like a Call to Adventure than most bad travel news does.)
I'm particularly interested in hiking, walking tours, live folk and rock music, history (especially political, social, and science and engineering history), pair programming, and trains. I'll be there Friday October 20th through Sunday October 22nd. I'm also open to giving a talk or two while in Cleveland. Feel free to leave comments on this post -- the spam filter is rather aggressive but I'll fish things out regularly!
And in case you are trying that newish social network Mastodon out and wish to follow me, I'm @firstname.lastname@example.org.
(One proximate cause of this is that, through the Python community, I've met multiple nice people who are organizing or championing PyCon North America in Cleveland in 2018 and 2019, and who will show me around a bit. Another is
As you may remember, I have arthritis in my spine which causes all sorts of weird and "interesting" neurological effects. The actual patch of inflammation is tiny, and yet it presses on a nerve severely enough that I have a permanent numb "dead" spot in my left leg, plus additional events of screaming agony.
So every year or so, I get injections into my spine of a long-acting steroid and painkiller combination. They are called facet joint injections and I've had them done 3 times before. It counts as minor surgery because it has to be done under X-ray, since it would be Very Bad if the needle gets in the wrong place. But once I've recovered from the bruising, I have a lot less pain and a bit more mobility.
The first and third times, it was done by the consultant that I have my face-to-face appointments with and it helped for about 6 months. The second time I had it done, it was a different doctor who was in a hurry and didn't listen when I told her that my Large Arse requires two shots of the anaesthetic in order for the needle to get deep enough. So it only helped for about 3 months.
I am so glad my GP found out I could see the same specialist at a different hospital. Kingston Hospital has good medical staff but appalling organisation and/or administrative staff (not sure which), and the wait times there are horrendous. I am in no doubt that if I'd gone to Kingston, it would have been 6 months or more just for the first appointment, and then a further 4 months before the treatment. This other hospital is a train + bus ride away rather than a short walk, but I only had to wait 6 weeks to see the doctor, and then another 6 weeks for the treatment. It's scheduled for 1st December.
What are you currently reading: Hirade, 'The Guest Cat'; Jordan L Hawk, 'Hexslayer'; a truly weird assortment of stuff for work.
What have you recently finished reading:
Griffith Review 56: Millennials Strike Back by Julianne Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm kind of late to the party on this one - I actually saw a preview article from Griffith Review 57, went to order that, and saw this existed. Ordered both, then by the time they arrived I was Too Damn Busy.
Having said that: this was a really good read. My copy is filled with little flaggies. Particular highlights:
Omar Sakr's poem Ordinary Things.
Ashely Kalagian Blunt, Today is already yesterday
Sophie Allan, Under the skin: home, history and love in patriarchy
Other outstanding pieces by Timmah Ball, Fiona Wright, too many more to name.
An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked a lot of things about this! The brother-sister dynamic between Pen and Greta is particularly great. The final love scene is very Relevant to My Interests (TM). The showdown with the revealed murderer is A+, go Greta. The dynastic solution is quite nifty.
My only qualm is I picked the villain all wrong (which is... good, for a number of characters) and I still kind of feel like I should've been right.
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this better than the first in the series, at least. Sebastian's work always reads a bit flat, the historical world-building a bit thin, after KJ Charles, though.
Of Mice and Men: The Play by John Steinbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
UGH. I don't LIKE Steinbeck, and I fundamentally don't like this narrative. But the production I worked on was *phenomenal*. A number of characters who would otherwise have been cringey stereotypes (notably the nameless wife and Crooks) fill with life when there's an actual human on the stage, who has clearly *thought* about them and why they act as they do.
And you can't deny Steinbeck has a knack for dialogue, for exactly the right words, for setting up parallels in one speech and another. The bit where Whit and Slim are reading the letter-to-the-editor while Carlson is talking Candy into shooting his dog is a particularly good example.
On the other hand: what a lot of racism, sexism, ableism, et bloody cetera.
Aaand that's it! For once, I have finally caught up reviews to cover my most recent reading. See you in a fortnight or when I've finished three things, I guess!
Up Next: Too Many Things
Music notes: bought 'Beautiful Garbage', which I couldn't afford to buy when it was first released (I had a single from it, though). Listening to P!nk's greatest hits a fair bit, especially 'Raise Your Glass'
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-02-26:
"The late John Greenwood, Q.C, who served as Ontario's Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the late 1970s, had a signature line he used to deliver with a straight face. "Anybody can convict the guilty,' he'd say to visitors to his office, "the trick is to convict the innocent.' People laughed uneasily, sensing it may not be entirely a joke."
-- George Jonas, writing about John Greenwood in the National Post.
(submitted to the mailing list by Z.D. Hora)