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[personal profile] andrewducker
Jane and I went up to Nethy Bridge, near Aviemore, and stayed at the Lazy Duck in one of their Eco-Lodges. Which is a cabin built for two, with electricity, gas cooking, and (distant, wobbly) wifi, right next to a large duck pond full of a variety of different species of ducks.
Loads of photos and four videos )

Interesting Links for 22-09-2017

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

I no longer get the hang of Thursdays

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:40 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Had my passport interview today. Everyone told me it was fine and normal but I thought it was weird and intrusive. How many of your bedrooms look onto your back garden? Where did your parents go on their honeymoon? But it was done quickly and kindly, by a big guy with amazing facial hair and who had actually heard of Minnesota because he's an American-football player.

The worst thing about it was that we had to go all the way to Salford for it, which took ages. I turned out to also need to go back to the university because you can't sign up for language classes online, you have to go in person to the place I was twice yesterday where no one told me this. (I presume it's because they need to check the level people are at if they want to do anything other than beginner's level in their language, because there was a lot of that happening. But surely abject beginners should be able to apply with the system we have to use to do everything else?) But I filled out the form so hopefully that's done.

Which means all my bureaucracy should be done that can be done for now, which is good as all of tomorrow will be taken up with volunteer training at Manchester Museum (which is just a different kind of in-person bureaucracy, as little or none of it will be relevant to my role).

And I had a smear test today, and that's all this morning, so frankly not only am I done with today, but I think I need a medal.

For future reference, though, having a lot of local friends means a lot of them share the same doctor's surgery, and I'd heard a lot of good things about the new nurse who frankly could hardly have been worse than the old one. And she lived up to everything I'd heard about her; she didn't mention my weight, even though she did mention my blood pressure a lot which is fair enough as it was high when she checked it. She even took my height and weight which I know will be for bullshit BMI things the NHS makes them do, but while she said "Five four" as she read my height off the thingy, she then looked at the scale and said "weight...[mumbly mumble]" like she was just reminding herself long enough to go write it down (which is exactly what she was doing) so far from making a big deal of it she ensured I didn't know it at all which is the best thing for my mental health.

And when she asked if I wanted a sexual health screening done at the same time I said it was a good idea because I have two partners but it's okay and they know about each other and etc., she actually said "Oh, so you're poly?" Which left me really taken aback! I've never had a health professional know the word before. And she asked me if the partners were "male, female or other" so didn't assume sexuality or binary gender, which made me happy.

More Disaster Relief Links

Sep. 21st, 2017 07:38 am
wendelah1: words: Always be a little kinder than necessary (Always be a little kinder than necessary)
[personal profile] wendelah1
Because the hits just keep coming. Give what you can, if you can.

Fundraiser by St. John's Rescue: St. John Victims of Hurricane Irma. This is an island-based charity and rescue group.

Harvey HELP is a fundraiser started by educators for their college students who've affected by Hurricane Harvey in order to provide grants to help keep them in school. It hasn't attracted much attention, sadly.

21 US Virgin Island's Relief Fund is the fundraiser organized by former San Antonio Spurs star, Tim Duncan.

Hurricane Irma and Maria Relief for the Caribbean:

Catholic Charities USA

Global Giving

Save the Children

UNICEF.

Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico was mentioned in an interview on MSNBC by a government official, name unremembered.

This made me remember that Habitat for Humanity helps low income people build houses all over the world, including the USA.

Habit for Humanity of Florida. This site has info for victims, too.

Huston Habitat for Humanity.

From Fortune.com, here is a long list of places to donate for Mexico.
Here’s How You Can Help Mexico Earthquake Victims. It includes the usual suspects as well as some local organizations.

And since I'm an Episcopalian and a "socialist," here is a link for Episcopal Relief and Development.

Reading: Gemini

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:18 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
In the final book in Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò series, Nicholas de Fleury returns to Scotland to try to make amends for the damage caused by his earlier actions and to safeguard his family from the enemies who have tried to kill both him and them so many times. For a while, I thought that Gemini was going to be a bit of an anticlimax to the series; several plot threads were resolved at the end of Caprice and Rondo, and Gemini is almost entirely set in Scotland, lacking the exotic locations of the earlier books. Nicholas has also changed and grown, and in Gemini is tackling the task of learning to care for people, and not just for the outcomes of his schemes. However, after a slow start, the novel gathers pace and the psychological drama is more than a match for the drama of any of Dunnett's other novels; there were just as many twists and edge-of-the-seat moments, and I found it just as hard to put down. It's a fitting end to the series, and like the ending of Checkmate leaves me wanting to go back and re-read key moments from earlier in the series in the light of the final revelations.

Fittingly, having started reading The Game of Kings on my 40th-birthday trip to Scotland, because I wanted to read something set in Scotland while I was there, I read Gemini while on holiday in Scotland once again. Three and a bit years, 14 books, at least 7,000 pages and an amazing sweep of European and Middle Eastern history in the early modern and late Middle Ages later, I can safely say that it has been one of the most intense reading experiences I've ever had. I can't actually remember who it was who made Dunnett sound intriguing enough for me to give her a try (I suspect it may have been a gestalt entity of friends and acquaintances), but it's been incredible, and in many ways I'm sorry to have come to the end. (I do still have King Hereafter to read, and will probably give the Johnson Johnson novels a try at least, but neither is going to be the same.)

Links (plus some commentary)

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:00 am
wendelah1: (A better world is possible)
[personal profile] wendelah1
I wish there was something positive to report. Instead, here's your daily reminder that millions of Americans are still at risk of losing their healthcare.

That's why we need to keep making those Calls to Kill Trumpcare.

The Guardian: Senate aims for healthcare vote next week as Obama condemns repeal effort

The Rachel Maddow blog: On health care, the GOP literally doesn’t know what it’s doing.

Tell me about it.

NYT: Republican Leaders Defy Bipartisan Opposition to Health Law Repeal.

Esquire: The Republicans Aren't Even Pretending This Is About Healthcare Anymore They're too tired to lie. But they're not too tired to vote for this piece of crap masquerading as actual legislation.

Brief healthcare rant )

Other links

The Conversation: Flood Insurance is Broken. Here are some ways to fix it.

NYT: Harvey and Irma Wiped Out Our Kitchens. Still, We Cook.

Lit Hub: Life On the Road and In a Walmart Parking Lot. Review of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder.

About the same author and book, in the NYT: On the Road With the Casualties of the Great Recession.

Why Are Americans Less Charitable Than They Used to Be? Researchers found that the losses of the Great Recession do not entirely explain why people aren’t giving very much money to charity. Maybe it's because they feel they have to donate to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL, which are defending our democracy instead?

On a lighter note, from Lit Hub: 10 Famous Book Hoarders. My husband is a non-famous book hoarder. "No, Dad is an everything hoarder," our son pointed out. He has a point. Sigh.

BBC: The island people with a climate change escape plan. I'm glad to hear that someone has a plan.

That's Not My Age (a style blog for women over 50): Street Style Forever at London Fashion Week. Now I love seeing all the high falutin' old ladies in tennis shoes--it validates my own style-not-quite-choices but I'm having a harder time with the shirtdresses over blue jeans look. I'm trying to keep an open mind.

Abbreviated freshers' week

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:48 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Somehow all my freshers' week stuff was mostly crammed into three days, which is kind of nice since I'm done with it now, which gives me time for volunteering orientation, a passport interview, a doctor's appointment, and a weekend of being in Yorkshire because of Thought Bubble.

Overall it's gone pretty well. I was nervous of feeling out of place but I really haven't. Everyone's been nice and neither I nor anyone else has called attention to me being twice their age (though I have felt it, especially since I keep coming home and taking naps, and they've been going out every night according to scraps of overheard conversation).

I've done all the bureaucracy: enrolled on everything (except my language, working on that), got my student card, met my advisor, peppered my department's admin with questions...I've been to welcome talks and figured out where some of the rooms in the rabbit warren that is the building I'll be spending most of my time in.

I've made a friend! I went to this divisional "party" thing on Monday, which is where you stand in an echoy room with a bunch of other people standing inexplicably close together. This was on Monday so I was at my most self-conscious and sure no one would talk to me, but she just walked right up and did. She's called Kitty...well, she's not because she's Chinese and can't expect people to say her name. But she told it to me, Weijia, and I said it back to her and she said my pronunciation was good but I can't remember it now! She turned up in the group meeting with our advisor today, and we were happy to see each other.

I had my introductory meeting with disability services yesterday, too. Which was great, but kind of weird. I left it convinced that if I'd had even half that support when I first went to college, I wouldn't have to be trying again now. At the time I was still firmly of the belief that I wasn't mentally ill, I was just rubbish. So much of that could have been different.

But then if it was I might not have written so much that Andrew saw on LiveJournal and he wouldn't have been able to identify with me as much as he did and maybe wouldn't have wanted to talk to me and I certainly wouldn't have visited him here if my life had stayed on the track it was supposed to be on. Things would be so different down the other leg of the trousers of time that it doesn't bear thinking about.

Interesting Links for 20-09-2017

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm

DON'T GIVE UP

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:27 am
wendelah1: quote: Ezra 10:4 (resistance)
[personal profile] wendelah1
There is so much going on in the news but we can't allow ourselves to forget that the Republican-controlled Senate is poised to take healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans.

Sign up, make calls, attend protests if you are able. Post the INDIVISIBLE website on Facebook. If you live in one of the key states, beg your friends and family to call up their Senators. Make a contribution to INDIVISIBLE or to the resistance group of your choice. DON'T GIVE UP.

Calls to Kill Trumpcare.

We can't let the Senate get away with this. Healthcare represents one sixth of the U.S. economy. If they do this terrible thing, it will only embolden them. They'll keep on doing it, crafting their incoherent, evil legislation in secret, with the end goal being to transfer more and more money into the hands of their donor class: the big multinational corporations--because thanks to our Supreme Court, corporations are people too--and the mega-wealthy one percenters. We must understand this: the Republicans in Congress won't stop until ordinary Americans are completely at the mercy of the ruling class.

We do not live in a democracy. I know, it's hard to accept. It goes against everything I was taught, everything I want to believe about my country. But the very fact that the Republicans in Congress are going ahead with their nefarious plans despite knowing full well that the overwhelming majority of Americans want the Affordable Care Act fixed, not repealed, confirms that. These senators want to serve their rich masters, not their constituents, and if we don't stop them somehow, they will.

And if wanting my fellow Americans to have decent healthcare makes me a socialist, Senator Lindsey Graham, well, fine then. I'M A SOCIALIST.

Please note that under Senator Graham's bill, his state will actually gain funding. Could this plan be more cynical, more devious, or more venal?

~/~/~

I know I'm sounding like a broken record (wow, there's a metaphor about to lose its relevance) but September is National Disaster Preparedness Month for a reason. I beg of you--if you don't have your supplies laid in and your plan in place, it is never too soon--or too late--to start working on it.

If it seems like I'm obsessed with disaster planning, well, you're right. I am. Maybe it's because unlike hurricanes, which give people time to panic, sit in lines at the gas station, and debate whether or not to evacuate, California's earthquakes give us no warning. Waiting for the storm of the century to hit makes people feel helpless because by the time they get home from work, the bottled water is gone from the grocery shelves, and so are the flashlights, and the kind of baby formula that doesn't need refrigeration.

Earthquakes. Just. Happen. We never know when or where the next one will hit. People who live in earthquake country should all be making preparations well in advance. If we don't, we're taking a huge risk. (And dammit I hate risk.) And we're due, FUCK IT, we're overdue for a bad one in California. Or two. Look at what just happened in Mexico: two catastrophic quakes in two weeks! Hundreds of dead, dozens of collapsed buildings, including two schools full of children, thousands upon thousands of homes lying in rubble.

The Mexico City quake struck on the 32th anniversary of the 1985 quake that destroyed the city, mere hours after their yearly commemorative earthquake drill. I have no words.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico just took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

~/~/~

It's overwhelming, I know it is. But we have to keep making those calls.

Yeah. I'm not panicked at all.

Sep. 19th, 2017 07:54 am
wendelah1: Letter H is for Holy Crap (H is for Holy Crap)
[personal profile] wendelah1
From USA TODAY: UNITED NATIONS – In a bracing speech to the United Nations, President Trump threatened Tuesday to "destroy" North Korea if it does not give up its nuclear weapons program.

Is he trying to start a war? For real?

A "bracing speech"? WTF, USA TODAY.

We cannot let ourselves get derailed by the shitstorm the Trump administration calls their foreign policy. We still have to make those phone calls to stop Trumpcare.

Interesting Links for 19-09-2017

Sep. 19th, 2017 12:00 pm

We Won't Betrumped Again

Sep. 19th, 2017 07:42 am
wendelah1: (Repeal and Replace)
[personal profile] wendelah1
INDIVISIBLE just unveiled a new calling tool for folks in Blue States who want to help stop Trumpcare: Calls to Kill TrumpCare. We can't call our Senators--well, we can but mine are both Democrats and they are not the problem here. But we can make calls to our counterparts in key Red States and ask them to call their Senators.

How California — yes, California — could make a Trump reelection more difficult. YES!

Atlas Obscura: Found: 30 Lost English Words That May Deserve a Comeback.

Well, well, well. I think "betrump" deserves a comeback. Betrump: To deceive, cheat; to elude, slip from. Examples: I think our entire country is getting betrumped on a daily basis. Don't let yourselves get betrumped! Curses! Betrumped again! See what I mean? So useful. So accurate.

During Irma’s Power Outages, Some Houses Kept The Lights On With Solar And Batteries. Of course, if the roof has blown off or the living room has been flooded, having solar power doesn't mean all that much. Also, we're paying to help folks rebuild in the same flood zones over and over again. Maybe that needs to change?

USA TODAY: Dear Texas, how many times do we have to rebuild the same house? (You're next Florida). It's a reasonable question, imho.

Two years before NFIP was created, the 1966 Presidential Task Force on Federal Flood Control Policy warned that a badly run program 'could exacerbate the whole problem of flood losses. For the federal government to subsidize low premium disaster insurance ... would be to invite economic waste of great magnitude.' That sage advice was ignored.

The Atlantic: Has Climate Change Intensified 2017’s Western Wildfires? Long story, short: Yes. It has.

VOX: The brilliant, infuriating, boring, hypnotic Ken Burns documentary on The Vietnam War. The documentarian’s latest miniseries for PBS is a staggering achievement — and maybe his best work. I watched the first episode. It was good. I learned new things about Vietnam and its history. We keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. This has to stop.

Good Omens, literally

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:09 pm
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
After going home sick at lunchtime*, my day has been greatly improved by the first photo of David Tennant and Michael Sheen as Crowley and Aziraphale in the forthcoming TV adaptation of Good Omens.



I definitely approve. Crowley's a bit different from the book, but the faint miasma of desperation exuding from the aging would-be rocker works for me. As for Aziraphale, for the people complaining that it looks exaggerated, that's mild compared to some of the horrors you get round Oxford**. The appalling cut of the trousers is a particularly fine touch, and I like the 'cherub gone to seed' of the fluffy blond hair.

*To the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody: Is this the real flu? Is it just virus-y? Crap immune system, no escape from things disease-y.

**The pale mustard broad wale corduroy suit remains a low point.

First day

Sep. 17th, 2017 07:45 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Grumpy that I've got no better recourse for finding the room my "Welcome Talk" will be in tomorrow morning than turning up early and hoping there's someone to ask.

Andrew offered to come with me to help me find it but that's not going to be easy for someone who woke up at three this afternoon; it's basically an accessibility issue for him too. And it costs money in bus fare. And it's just not fair because that shouldn't be his responsibility and I hate feeling dependent on him.

I booked my Disability Services meeting a month ago for as soon as I could get it, but that turns out to be Tuesday. I know this will be a busy and nightmarish time for them, but argh. Hopefully I will be a bit less confused for the rest of the week. There are a bunch of other rooms I have to find after these first ones tomorrow!

Interesting Links for 17-09-2017

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm

Plan

Sep. 16th, 2017 08:23 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Google says the thing making my feet horrible is probably... eczema! "Often caused by stress." Well, that explains why it first arrived when my parents visited! (Yes I know that was a long time ago. It's been flaring up and then almost-going-away ever since and every time it goes away I think it'll stay away and at least I'm doing something about it now.)

Can't even really make a GP appointment until I have a better idea of what my schedule will be like. Nnnrgh.

Plus I already have a follow-up appointment about my new meds, a smear test, and my first meeting with the Disabled Students Office this week, which is quite enough Health Work to be getting on with right now.

By the end of the week I will definitely know my class schedule (since it starts the week after that!) and will be able to make an appointment about my horrible feet. So at least I have a plan.

Interesting Links for 16-09-2017

Sep. 16th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

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