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Feeding the curiosaur








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Thursday, August 25th, 2016




Film: Lilo & Stitch
Thursday, 25 August 2016 at 02:43 pm
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Reasons for watching it: I had managed not to see this, I think because it came out when I was just at the age of feeling I needed to avoid media marketed at children, and it's somewhat of a classic and the sort of story I love.

Circumstances of watching it: We watched the DVD while we were relaxing after some intense touristing in Budapest.

Verdict: Lilo & Stitch is intensely sentimental about things I'm inclined to care about personally.

detailed reviewCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Hawaii
Moooood: touchedtouched
Tuuuuune: The Real Tuesday Weld: Real Tuesday Weld
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Friday, August 19th, 2016




Love
Friday, 19 August 2016 at 01:08 pm
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It's 15 Av today, which is a Jewish love festival with a rather tenuous Rabbinic origin. And here I am very happy and in love, so I shall talk about that a bit.

contains much soppyCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: lovedin love
Tuuuuune: Hem: Half acre
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Thursday, August 18th, 2016




Imzy
Thursday, 18 August 2016 at 07:53 pm
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So Imzy is the new cool social network, apparently. It's in closed beta and you need an invite from an existing user to create an account. [personal profile] melannen kindly offered one, and I'm happy to pay it forward by inviting the first five people to comment.

impressionsCollapse )
ETA: I created a community for DW peeps. Which magically increased my number of invitations from five to 200, so if anyone is possibly interested in an invite, you can request at the community link. And if anyone's already there, feel free to join it or not.


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Whereaboooots: Internet
Moooood: pessimisticpessimistic
Tuuuuune: Rasputina: 1816, the year without a summer
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Wednesday, August 17th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 17/08
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 at 12:10 pm


Recently read: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami, trans Alfred Birnbaum. (c) Haruki Murakami 1982, pub Vintage 2003, ISBN 978-0-099-44877-8. This was a present from ghoti, since it's a book she likes and it contains cute ears and I have very little exposure to Japanese lit. I found the book very mind-expanding and different from most of what I normally read, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

detailed reviewCollapse )

Currently reading: A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, as recommended to me by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. Basically it's an account of how the author got kicked out of school and decided to walk across Europe to Constantinople, in 1933. I don't normally read travelogues, but I agree with the intro by Jan Morris, that Fermor is just an outstandingly good writer, and his descriptions are evocative enough to be exciting even though nothing really happens except that he walks around and visits places. He has the kind of assumption typical of a certain class of white English young men, that everybody will basically like him and want to help him out. He's also genuinely interested in the people he meets working on this assumption. In some ways the narrative style is reminding me of my uncle who at a similar sort of age drove a van to Australia.

I've nearly finished the section where he crosses Germany, noting the presence of the newly ascendant Nazi party but not dwelling on that to the exclusion of talking about the history and culture of the country and telling anecdotes about the various German people he meets on the way. The moment where he describes crossing the border from the Netherlands and seeing swastikas everywhere is a brilliant piece of writing, a paragraph of description of some Dutch St Vincent de Paul nuns, and then:
The officials at the Dutch frontier handed back my passport, duly stamped, and soon I was crossing the last furlongs of No Man's Land, with the German frontier post growing nearer through the turning snow. Black, white and red were painted in spirals round the road barrier and soon I could make out the scarlet flag charged with its white disc and its black swastika.

Up next: Not sure. I'm still looking out for A book with a color in the title for my very old Bringing up Burns challenge, or I may well read Novik's Uprooted.

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Whereaboooots: 1930s Munich
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Nirvana: Heart shaped box
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
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Tuesday, August 16th, 2016




I went to Budapest
Tuesday, 16 August 2016 at 02:22 pm
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ghoti planned us a group trip to Budapest, all of us, her three children and four partners. Which to me sounds like a terrifying amount of organization, but basically she booked budget flights and rented us a huge, cheap, centrally located apartment that normally trades on stag and hen parties. And then she got everybody to the airport in plenty of time, with some notion of how to get across the city from the airport, and after that we basically just turned up and improvised.

In almost all respects that worked better than the sorts of holidays I'm used to with detailed itinerary planning, and long complicated negotiations about sharing space with people who aren't normally housemates. We didn't have the slightest ambition to see "everything", we just wanted to have a good time together in a new city, and that was incredibly successful. I mean, it's easy to say that it was low effort considering that my gf put in most of the effort and I just tagged along, but I wouldn't have contemplated organizing a trip of that size and complexity, I would have just assumed it was beyond me, but partly because planning I'd have considered essential is actually entirely disposable.

ghoti was also much better at writing up the trip than I am, she did so promptly and concisely; my version is likely to be rambly and boring. tourist reportCollapse )

So basically, ghoti was an amazing genius at organizing a holiday that was fun and exciting and full of interesting new experiences without being exhausting. And at taking into account the wishes of such a large and mixed group and making sure that everybody had the best possible time.

Budapest is shadowed by genocideCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Budapest, Hungary
Moooood: lonelylonely
Tuuuuune: Burning Bush: Arvoles lloran por lluvias ('the trees weep for the rain')
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Thursday, August 11th, 2016




Dialect quiz
Thursday, 11 August 2016 at 10:50 am
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Because these are always fun, and because my quad keeps getting confused about the names of meals...

poll about eating habits and languageCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: boredbored
Tuuuuune: Ladyhawke: I don't always know what you're saying
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Wednesday, August 10th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 10/08
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 at 03:14 pm


Recently read: Via [personal profile] sovay, an interesting if slightly odd article by one Amy Schwartz on Dorothy L Sayers' anti-semitism. I always knew Sayers was weird about Jews; I find it hard to articulate why I read her stuff anyway whereas I generally avoid other known anti-semitic writers like Chesterton. I did not know either that Sayers once had a Jewish boyfriend, or that she thought it appropriate to publish an article, in 1945, arguing that the reason people are so horrible to Jews is because we had rejected Jesus. I don't know anything about Schwartz, and I'm not sure I share her sympathy or justifications for her subject's prejudices, but it's an interesting piece anyway.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami. I didn't really get any holiday reading done, because it turned out that partners' children were very very excited about getting access to Liv for a whole week, so they didn't really want me to be spending even a few minutes reading rather than paying attention to them <3

Up next: Will probably still follow up on your recs for Hungary-related books, though so far the only one I've managed to get hold of is A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (thanks, [personal profile] rushthatspeaks.)

Also, [personal profile] alexseanchai made a love meme. I normally shy away from such things, but right now, I felt like hearing some nice things would be really good for me. And maybe some other people would also enjoy such a thing?

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: okayokay
Tuuuuune: The Imagined Village: Tam Lyn retold
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Tuesday, August 9th, 2016




Pokémon Go
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 at 01:36 pm
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So Pokémon Go is basically a terrible game. It's opaque and annoying for beginners, and it ramps up the difficulty in a way that makes the game more annoying, not more challenging as you advance, presumably because it's somewhat clumsily balanced for monetization rather than fun. I liked Ingress better, and that's saying something, because I already found Ingress didn't have much actual gameplay beyond a cool concept.

But it doesn't need to be a good game, because it's an amazing phenomenon. It's just a perfect fit for the zeitgeist, unlike Ingress being launched at a time when smartphone coverage is extensive enough that people other than affluent tech-heads can play. It had a readymade userbase and fandom in the entire generation who loved Pokémon the first time round, which gives it enough of a network effect to make it appealing to old fogeys like me who weren't already fans. And it's the perfect gateway to augmented reality; you walk around in the real world and find cute things. It doesn't really matter what the scoring mechanism is, or that the most of the features and gameplay elements are promised rather than actual, or that that fighting side of the game is grindy and uninteresting. You walk around, you find cute things. Instant reward.

further detailCollapse )

So it's a terrible game, but it's giving me a lot of pleasure, and I hope its success will in fact encourage other developers to release better augmented reality games.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: Belle and Sebastian: The wrong girl
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016




At the last minute
Thursday, 28 July 2016 at 09:42 pm
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Next week I'm travelling to Hungary, a country I've never visited before. We (well, mostly ghoti) planned the essential bits, the travel and accommodation, months ago, but it's come up faster than I'd expected and I haven't had time to think about what we're actually going to do there. It doesn't really matter since we're a party of six adults and two children, so I'm sure other people will have ideas, but I thought I might ask for advice anyway.

I made you some ticky boxesCollapse )

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Moooood: rushedrushed
Tuuuuune: Oysterband: The deserter
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 27/07
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 at 01:07 pm


Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?

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Whereaboooots: Japan
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: DNA: Girls in trouble
Discussion: 5 contributions | Contribute something
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Monday, July 25th, 2016




Q&A
Monday, 25 July 2016 at 10:16 pm
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Nice thinky meme from a locked post a few weeks back, cos I feel like answering questions about myself. These suggest an attitude to media that isn't quite mine, but I'm rather interested in thinking about why the questions don't exactly fit as well as answering them.

30 questions with long rambly answersCollapse ) OK, that was a very long meme, I maybe should've broken it up a bit more. But definitely interesting to think about!

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: tiredtired
Tuuuuune: Venetian Snares: My crutch
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Friday, July 22nd, 2016




Theatre: Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Tempest
Friday, 22 July 2016 at 11:12 am
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So my brother was in town at the weekend and Dad suggested we could go to the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival performance of The Tempest. fun weekendCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Prospero's island
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: Alabína: Loli, Lolita, Lola
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, July 20th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 20/07
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 at 07:13 pm


Recently read: Hild by Nicola Griffith. (c) Nicola Griffith 2013, Pub Blackfriars 2013, ISBN 9780349134253. I bought this as a full priced ebook based on several really enthusiastic reviews, and I can certainly say it lives up to the hype.

detailed reviewCollapse )

Anyway, I was completely caught up in the book, kept finding excuses to read just one more page, and I was really quite disappointed not to be in Hild's head any more. I can absolutely see why this book is such a sensation, and I do strongly recommend it to readers of both speculative fiction and historical novels.

Up next: A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami.

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Whereaboooots: Elmet
Moooood: sorehormonal
Tuuuuune: Jem: Finally woken
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Tuesday, July 19th, 2016




Tech review
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 at 10:25 pm
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Some months ago, I asked for some advice about mobile phones. And then everything went to pieces and I didn't get round to telling you what I decided, so:

gadget wonkeryCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Internet
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Little Boots: Meddle
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Friday, July 15th, 2016




Down with geography
Friday, 15 July 2016 at 02:46 pm
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So last weekend I had the most brilliant time: two of my friends who live in the wrong continents were visiting, and in between I got to spend time with my parents and my partners, so it was just about perfect.

diary stuffCollapse )

So yay, that was just about the perfect long weekend for me. And it did me so much good to spend time with MK and [personal profile] hatam_soferet, in spite of the awful news I've been walking taller all week.

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Whereaboooots: Pumbedita House, Cambridge, England
Moooood: lovedloved
Tuuuuune: Van Dreissen: Ice cappuccino
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Wednesday, July 13th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 13/07
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 at 02:05 pm


Recently acquired I went on a bit of an ebook-buying spree because I was travelling and wasn't sure how much time I'd have with no internet, but also didn't want to take a big pile of heavy p-books with me. So:



Recently read: Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. (c) Chris Moriarty 2013, Pub Ballantine Books Spectra 2013, ISBN 978-0-553-38494-9. detailed review, somewhat spoileryCollapse )

Currently reading: Hild by Nicola Griffith. I'd seen a lot of buzz about this as a historical novel for SF readers, and yes, yes it is. It's about the English Dark Ages, just at the start of Christianity reaching England, and it has absolutely masses of worldbuilding and exploration of the impact of technological changes on society, and just lets you pick it up from context. I know basically nothing about the seventh century, so I have absolutely no idea about historical accuracy, but the level of detail makes the setting seem extremely real and vivid. It's just amazingly weird compared to almost any made-up fantasy world; the characters seem like people, but their values and priorities are amazingly different from those of the modern reader.

In general I'm enjoying Hild really a lot. I love being immersed in the to me alien world, and I like and am invested in the characters, and care about all the political intrigue. I like the choice to tell the story from the point of view of Hild and her mostly female circle, so that warriors and kings and priests and so on are mentioned but always seen from the outside, in terms of their effects on female life. I'm just getting to the bit where people are starting to convert to Christianity, and knowing that Hild is in fact based on the historical St Hilda of Whitby, I can't not know that she is going to end up Christian. In some ways I'm a little disappointed by this, not because I mind reading about Christian characters, but because what will eventually become Mediaeval Christianity is so much more familiar to me than the pre-Christian cultures from between the Roman era and about the time of the book.

Up next: Don't know, I'm a bit less than halfway through Hild so it'll probably be a while before I pick up anything new. I've been hankering to read Ancillary Sword but I think in some ways the style is perhaps too similar to Hild for this to be the best choice to delve into next.

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Whereaboooots: Dark Ages Yorkshire
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Sieben: Light shines
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, July 6th, 2016




Limmud 2: Circumcision
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 at 01:15 pm
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To continue my write-ups after a bit of a gap:

potentially controversialCollapse )
So yes, that was partly informative but I felt like the XKCD citation needed guy quite a lot of the time. I'm not particularly interested in debating the ethics and legality of infant circumcision in the comments; I know a lot of people have strong views on the topic but I don't really care to rehash that debate. As it is I've made this way longer than I intended so I shall just post it and add the last couple of talks to another post.

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Moooood: confusedunsure
Tuuuuune: Hadag Nachash: הנה אני בא ('here I come')
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Monday, July 4th, 2016




Ireland!
Monday, 04 July 2016 at 11:46 pm
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I had a completely glorious time in Ireland last week. travelogueCollapse )

Basically, thank you so much to all of you for good advice, we did much better by listening to you than by trying to plan the trip off websites and guidebooks. And you were all collectively right about roads and driving. Also thank you to everybody who asked for a postcard, and to ghoti for recommending me the app. It turned out to really increase my enjoyment of the trip; darcydodo brought a real camera, but I just had my phone. It was really good for me to have the motivation to take the occasional snap of something I really wanted to send to one of you, but to spend most of my time looking at things with my eyes rather than being distracted by photography. I missed lots of you, [personal profile] hatam_soferet when we were looking at manuscripts, and [personal profile] forestofglory when we were learning about ecology, and [personal profile] kaberett when we were being amazed by geology, and [personal profile] lethargic_man when we were trying to figure out language stuff. And my musicians and historians and Christians pretty much all the time.

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Whereaboooots: Ireland
Moooood: refreshedrefreshed
Tuuuuune: VNV Nation: Space and time
Discussion: 4 contributions | Contribute something
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Monday, June 20th, 2016




Limmud
Monday, 20 June 2016 at 11:17 pm
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I nearly didn't go to the local day Limmud this year, as it's in a busy time and I wasn't sure if it would make sense to drag all my non-Jewish partners to the conference. But in fact ghoti and [personal profile] cjwatson and even their younger children were really really excited about the event, so that was a good reason for all of us to go. And in fact it was the best Limmud I've been to in years, I came out with that glorious buzzy, head-full, wanting to have enthusiastic discussions about everything feeling.

I'm going to follow [personal profile] lethargic_man's example and try to write it up here, because it might be interesting to some of you, and because it'll be an easier archive for me to refer to in future than paper notes, and because I'm really hoping some people will have opinions and ideas, as the weekend was over before I had a chance to explore all the cool new stuff properly through in person discussions. Unlike him I'll write biased summaries and talk about my own reactions as well as the speakers' words, rather than try to actually type up the lectures from my notes.

history, TalmudCollapse ) OK, I meant to do brief summaries but got carried away, I'll write up the other talks another day...

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Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: The Real Tuesday Weld: I love the rain
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Thursday, June 16th, 2016




Extrovert experiences
Thursday, 16 June 2016 at 03:20 pm
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So someone on FB, who is an introvert, expressed a desire for extroverts to talk more about what it's like to be an extrovert, as this is something they don't understand. So I thought I'd give it a go, here rather than FB cos I don't like posting thinky things that just vanish into FB's ether.

living up to the stereotype by talking about myselfCollapse )

Any other extroverts want to comment? I'm making this a public post and will link it from FB for the benefit of the person who wanted to learn about what it's like to be us.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: Tori Amos: Icicle
Discussion: 7 contributions | Contribute something
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Monday, June 13th, 2016




Shavuot
Monday, 13 June 2016 at 09:26 pm
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So my extremely wonderful girlfriend came up to spend Shavuot with me.

religion and soppiness are a recurring themeCollapse )

And next week we're all going to Limmud, and everybody is being really enthusiastic about the conference, including partners' children. I mean, they're right to be excited, Cambridge Limmud in particular has a great young people's programme. But in general I'm really happy that my people are coming to Limmud with me.

Also, this is probably a good time to ask: I really ought to have a paper English Bible; does anyone have any recommendations? It might as well be a Christian Bible since if I'm looking at Tanach I'll mostly just stick to Hebrew. I further realized that my trusty old Soncino Chumash is really quite hard to read; I didn't really start reading Chumash until my Hebrew was fluent enough not to be bothered by the fact that the text is squashed into too little space and the distinctions between ד ,ר and ה are not as clear as they might be. This is really a problem for teaching from it, whether it's bar mitzvah students or people like ghoti. So I think it's time I acquired a more modern Chumash; tell me what's out there with good translations, good typography and preferably commentary that won't make me want to claw my eyes out?

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Whereaboooots: Bet Lechem
Moooood: satisfiedsatisfied
Tuuuuune: Broadside Electric: Por la tu puerta
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Wednesday, June 8th, 2016




Crowdsourcing travel
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 at 01:42 pm
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So if you had a week in Ireland, what would you prioritize doing? Where would you go?

further detailsCollapse )

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Moooood: excitedexcited
Tuuuuune: The Doors: Riders on the storm
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Thursday, June 2nd, 2016




Between
Thursday, 02 June 2016 at 12:55 pm
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There's a midrash on the Mishnah which lists the deeds whose principal reward is in the world to come: ... visiting the sick, celebrating the bride, attending the dead, which says that if someone you love is seriously ill you should perform the mitzvah of celebrating a bride, as that is listed between sick and dead, so you kind of symbolically make more space between the two states. Two weeks ago roughly my grandmother moved on from being terminally ill to actively dying, and of course it was impossible for anyone to really predict just how urgently I needed to rush home.

During the week I had lots of responsibilities in the medical school it would have been really annoying to duck out of, though I'm sure I would have got permission if I'd asked. And at the weekend I had planned to go to a wedding with [personal profile] jack, so in the end I decided that I would go ahead with what I had intended to do anyway, and hope the timing would work out if I returned to my parents' place Sunday afternoon. So I travelled to Hastings late on Friday night (really annoying connection across London from Euston to Charing Cross, such that I ended up missing an hourly train by 30 seconds), and finally reached [personal profile] jack in a very quaint little B&B shaped like a brick castle. And in the morning we woke up and could hear and smell and see the sea, and that went a long way towards helping with being stressed and scared.

And the wedding itself was awesome, it involved an afternoon of folk dancing, mostly Morris dancing and related styles, at several locations along the sea front. It was really nice to be able to mingle with the other guests and watch the dancing and buy icecreams and chips and beer and it generally really chilled. In the evening we went indoors to a former church, St Mary in the Castle, a rather amazing venue set into the hillside. And there was more dancing, a mix of demonstrations and more participatory ceilidh dancing, and a pot-luck buffet, and some really touching speeches, and it was very much what a wedding should be, a gathering of friends and family who genuinely wanted to celebrate the couple.

some religious and some medical discussion about deathCollapse )

Anyway, I feel a bit emotionally numb in some ways, I haven't really taken in the idea that Granny will continue not to be there in the coming weeks and months. But I do feel very confident that all my people will be here to take care of me and eachother.

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Moooood: lovedloved
Tuuuuune: Tori Amos: China
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Wednesday, June 1st, 2016




Bi-dentity
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 at 11:38 pm
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So my gf convinced me to join her on a panel about bisexuality and religion at BiFest Wales. To be fair I didn't need very much convincing. And it was a pretty cool experience which I should write up before I forget about it.

being publicly biCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Swansea, Wales, UK
Moooood: productiveproductive
Tuuuuune: Green Day: Boulevard of broken dreams
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Friday, May 20th, 2016




GIP
Friday, 20 May 2016 at 05:45 pm
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Remember when we used to make posts to show off new icons? Well, I have the most adorable students ever: for an end-of-term present they made me a custom mug with a little cartoon of me teaching the class about p53. I asked the artist if I could use the cartoon as a profile pic, so here it is. (Click through to DW to see both the icon and the full-sized version.)

I am so very endeared by this. In fact, I squee'd so much when I saw it that my students declared me adorable, which I'm not sure is how it's supposed to work. But hey, I like 'adorable' better than 'intimidating'. (They've also given me a 100% positive evaluation this term, which is going to be very nice evidence to present at my appraisal next week.)

Full size original behind the cut - I think maybe it wants cropping a bit closer so it's just the picture of me, as you can't see the detail of the molecule or my speech bubble. I do love that my characteristic comment is "coolness", which I totally picked up from [personal profile] lethargic_man.

pic of Liv teaching all about p53Collapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: touchedtouched
Tuuuuune: Dar Williams: The Christians and the Pagans
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