Pneumatic post in Berlin

Oct. 22nd, 2017 08:22 am
lethargic_man: (Berlin)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
This beautiful building (click through for larger photo) is the old central post office in Berlin. It's a hundred metres away from my shul, so I see it every time I go to shul. The two signs in front of the main door read (though not at the time this photo was taken) "Post Office" and "Tube Post".

[photo]
* Photo credit: Jörg Zägel (CC licence on Wikimedia).

Oooh, thought I; tell me there was a golden age of steampunk when Berlin was connected by a network of pneumatic tubes delivering post—and Wikipedia, once I remembered to check it weeks if not months later, obliged. The pneumatic post system dated from 1865 and lasted until 1976, and at its height consisted of 400km of tubes.

Blade Runner 2049

Oct. 21st, 2017 06:59 pm
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
Before going to see Blade Runner 2049, I re-watched the original (in the Final Cut version, which I don't think I'd seen before). It's still a classic, although the treatment of women is terrible (and I seem to notice more of that with each rewatch); the plot and visual tropes have inspired a vast amount of film sci-fi that's come since.

The sequel doesn't disappoint - the city-scape is very much from the same visual and audio space as the original, while the desert-scape of Las Vegas is a suitably post-apocalyptic wasteland. There's the same slow pacing (although at 2h40, this is substantially longer), and it's great to see Deckard back again, although I'm a little sad to see the ambiguity of his replicant-or-not nature from the original resolved. There are some great scenes, including a brawl in front of a holographic Elvis and some very creepy moments from Niander Wallace. And there's the continued theme of what it means to be human, and what sort of relationships we can or should have with those who are not.

There aren't really any new ideas, though, and the treatment of women is probably worse than in the original, which feels less forgiveable now than it might have been in 1982. And the bass was rather over-done to my ears, to the point of dragging you out of the scene sometimes. I'm sure I'm going to want to watch it again, though...

7 things make a post

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:26 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
1. We spent a pleasant low-key weekend in Todmorden with my mother and stepfather for Charles's birthday / their wedding anniversary. The only niggle was the mild cough I had before going turned into a horrible cough and I got very little sleep on the Saturday night, so my patience etc on the journey home was ... limited. We got home with no-one murdered though.

2. I love my Yuletide assignment and have a plot bunny gently growing. It's going to be pretty niche and I don't care, so long as it works for the recipient.

3. Thanks to the aforementioned cough, I missed morris practice last week - so frustrating given my fears about falling out of it - but I managed it again this week, and it is still very happy making. (I am so, so unfit compared to all these older women, but they are all so pleasant and welcoming.)

4. Charles was away this week with the school residential outdoor activity week with PGL. It was a bit of a challenge for him being away from home and his usual routine, but he seems to have mostly enjoyed it, and enthused at me about climbing and rifleshooting and archery and a few other things too ... It is good to have him back; and now it is half-term.

5. I had my flu jab this week, and the children had their flu sprays last week (I am a bit envious of them, but the nurse at my GP surgery is really very good about doing jabs quickly and with minimal pain). Flusurvey has started up again and are keen for more participants if any of my UK subscribers aren't already doing it and would like to.

6. It seems like half my reading list already posted about the #PullTheFootball campaign to require a congressional declaration of war before the US President can launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  But in case you didn't see it, that link has actions, phone numbers and a script for US citizens (the rest of us can just help by sharing it with US citizens ...)

7. Clipping wrote the soundtrack for a new TV show, The Mayor, and tracks from it are being released weekly onto Spotify and iTunes.  I couldn't find an official Spotify playlist so I made my own and am adding the new tracks each week as they get released - TWO this week for a Halloween-themed episode.  The show's premise is that an up-and-coming rapper stands for mayoral election as a publicity stunt for his music career and accidentally wins. I love this idea, but can't find a way to legally watch the show from here; anyway I am really enjoying the musical output.

Eating, Reading, Making

Oct. 19th, 2017 02:29 pm
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
Eating:I made Thai inspired yellow curry the other night with tofu, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. It wasn't bad. The people in my household I was feeding liked it.

Reading: I started So You Want to be a Robot and Other Stories by A. Merc Rustad because many people whose taste I trust liked it. Currently only two stories in but I like it so far.

Making: I'm sewing a dress for me! I don't sew a lot for myself or for adults so this exciting.

Wrinkle in Time

Oct. 18th, 2017 01:34 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
OK, so I actually read "Wrinkle in Time" (and book #2 but not any more). I think I'd had the impression that I'd read it at some point and forgotten, but now I think I never read it at all, it's really really different to anything I remember reading.

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.

Bite-sized Anti-procrastination

Oct. 17th, 2017 07:26 pm
peaceful_sands: butterfly (Default)
[personal profile] peaceful_sands posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Little by little we get over the hurdle, past the obstacle and little by little we make a difference. We may not have the time, the energy, the power or the ability to tackle the whole, but if we examine things carefully we can find the bit that we can do, the progress that we can make - the steps that begin the journey.

In the middle of the week, we have our anti-procrastination day. It's a great opportunity to look carefully at the things we've been avoiding starting and thinking about why we aren't getting anywhere with them. There are any number of reasons and it really doesn't matter what they are, they were good reasons before, but now is our chance to reevaluate and to begin to look for a way past them. Remember - this comm is not about having to manage to complete the whole of a task in one go, it's about finding first the way to start and then the way to continue it until we can overcome it. Tasks don't have to be daunting and beyond us, because all we're looking for at any time is the next step.

Can you think of something that you'd like to begin? Something that bit by bit you could overcome? What's today's part of that task going to be (or tomorrow's if today's is the planning stage)?

The problem

Oct. 16th, 2017 08:16 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
Sexual violence against women and girls is endemic. There's an absolute mountain of evidence that this is the case, from the experiences of my friends to any number of posts on social media to rigorous studies. A big part of the reason I decided to identify as a feminist is because women are routinely denied bodily autonomy and feminism seems to be the only political movement that cares about this.

links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )

I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.

Things I have done today

Oct. 16th, 2017 01:39 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait
Finished a languishing application for an audio transcription job. Not sure whether I'll get it or not, but at least it's done now. Applied (successfully) for a website testing job. Both of these are self-employed, no guarantees that I'd get actual work from them but worth a try. Boggled at the adverts for 'work from home' jobs many of which are prison officers.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
You know that weird feeling where your tests sometimes pass and sometimes don't, and you eventually realise they're not deterministic? But it took a while to notice because you kept changing things to debug the failing tests and only slowly realised that every "whether it succeeded or not" change didn't follow changing the code?

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.

What is important

Oct. 16th, 2017 12:49 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
On the day after my wedding, I gave blood; later Andrea and I went to help sort clothes for the asylum seekers project at the New North London Synagogue.

At both places, people said to me, "What are you doing here on the day after your wedding?"

I would have thought the answer was obvious: Doing what was important to me.

Staying on track

Oct. 13th, 2017 10:42 am
fred_mouse: drawing of mouse settling in for the night in a tin, with a bandana for a blanket (cleaning)
[personal profile] fred_mouse posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
I've most of a day at home with 'no interruptions' (I'm on my own until 12:30pm, and I have to leave at 3pm), so I'm trying to make progress on a number of things. And while I'm having a low pain day so I can do quite a bit of housework, I'm having a high scatty day, and trying to focus is really hard. I'm employing a number of tricks, but would be interested in hearing more.

So the first thing is that every 'task' set is either really short and obvious ('reply to yesterday's email from J'), or has a specific time limit ('spend 20 minutes tidying up the bedroom). This means that I'm getting lots of positive reinforcement, as I've put the tasks in Habitica, and get to tick them off and get rewards frequently. Secondly, I'm putting the tasks in to the list as they come to me, and then making myself do them in order, so that I don't end up at the end of the day having done either the fun or the easy ones, and then hating on myself for having left lots of shit jobs for Saturday, which is already hell on wheels.

Those of you who are also scatty will have looked at my twenty minutes, and laughed at me, because focusing that long? Yeah, I know. I've made iTunes give me an ~20 minute play list, and each time the songs change, it triggers me to think about what the next sub-task is, or whether I'm still on the task I started on. So far, that is working well. It also means that I know what the last song in the list is, and so when it gets to that, I look at the room and work out what the most urgent thing is that I want to finish.

But before that, I'm doing lots of talking out loud, lots of specifying what's next, and lots of counting. So, for example, in the bedroom, there was a pile of wash that needed folding and putting away, and I watched myself shy away from it several times, because it was Too Big (about half a wash basket). So I made myself count each item (15) as I put it away, and that kept me from losing track.

And reminding myself of the rule that I only have two hands, so I should only be looking at at most two things to deal with at any given time, and that the goal is to have done Something, rather than specific things in each room is helping as well.

And my break times are at the computer, but I've moved everything so I have to stand up, and that means that I don't want to linger there, which means that I'm actually getting back on task, because I look at the list on the computer, and then start the music, and then go to the next thing (I've finished three so far, and typing this has been my third 'on the computer' break, having got one of my email accounts read for the last two days)

Eating, Reading, Making

Oct. 12th, 2017 11:14 am
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
I haven't been posting much hear beyond the occasional short fiction recs. I'd like to get back to posting more. I've gotten into a bit a a perfectionist stint not wanting to post thing just thrown together and feeling extra self-conscious about making spelling mistakes in public. (I have learning disability so I make lots of spelling mistakes -- thank goodness for spellcheck.) So to help with all that I'm starting a new weekly project: Eating, Reading, Making. For this project I'll post a bit about what I've been eating, reading and making during the last week. Some weeks I might write a couple of paragraphs, some weeks just a couple of words. We'll see how it goes.

Eating: Its the time of year I switch form eating cold cereal to oatmeal in the mornings. I eat cold cereal while good fresh fruit is available then oatmeal with golden raisins during the colder months.

Reading: The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty -- this deeply personal history of southern food is really good. Its pretty dark in places because a lot of the history of southern food is also the history of slavery.

Making: I've been making a Halloween costume for my kid. Its a Robot. I am using this dress pattern as base and a making the panels different grays and I've sewn on some solid colored squares to look like buttons. I think it will be cute.

What have you been eating, reading or making recently?

Music meme: day 24 of 30

Oct. 12th, 2017 02:40 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
[personal profile] liv
Another song category I disagree with: A song by a band you wish were still together. A band breaking up is like any relationship coming to an end: if the people involved don't want to be together any more, who am I to wish they stayed in a situation no longer good for them?

It's also partly another example where I don't have the relationship with music that the meme seems to assume. I don't really have any bands that I follow in the manner of eagerly anticipating a new release, therefore none that make me sad if they split up and there won't be any new material coming. The existing songs that I like are still there for me to listen to. I do occasionally go to live gigs performed by ageing rockers, and that's cool, but it's not something I wish for more of in my life.

So I'm going to pick Joy Division. I wish at least that Curtis had lived for the band to split up due to creative differences, rather than coming to an end with his death. He'd be 60 now, and it's hard to imagine what Joy Division might have done if he'd had even one more decade with them let alone four. A lot of other bands from that sort of era, if they have carried on, have tended to get more bleepy and less raw noise, and New Order certainly went in that direction, but Joy Division were something else, and I imagine that they might have continued to innovate musically, maybe not all the way through to the 2010s but through the 80s and 90s at least.

Here's something a bit more gentle and thinky than their big hits like Love will tear us apart: Passover, by Joy Division.

video embed (audio only) )

Music meme: day 23 of 30

Oct. 11th, 2017 05:15 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
Things that are not helpful to a [personal profile] liv recovering from an asthma attack: Cab drivers who smoke in their cars. I took a taxi to work yesterday because I wasn't sure I was up to cycling, and the cab smelled of smoke and air freshener, which maybe makes the smell less bad but also makes my breathing even worse than just stale smoke.

Things that are even further unhelpful: colleagues who observe that I am coughing a little bit (due to the smoke exposure), and passive-aggressively tell me that I ought not to be at work while I'm sick. I mean, I agree with the general principle that people shouldn't come into work with colds and infect and annoy everybody else. But nobody realistically expects anyone to actually stay off work for the several weeks it can take for a cold to completely clear from one's chest, once past the stage of being actively infectious and unable to think clearly. And I'm annoyed at not being believed when I said that my asthma was making me sound sicker than I really am.

To be fair, I'm annoyed at busybody colleagues due to factors which are not entirely their fault. Not their fault that I'm sensitive about being told off (even gently) for having asthma, due to a miserable year when I was 9 and my class teacher was convinced I was faking not being able to breathe for attention. (I certainly didn't want the kind of attention that involved an adult in a position of authority standing over me and yelling my face and never letting me be absolutely certain she wouldn't hit me, though she never quite got to the point of physical violence.) Not their fault that work has an annoying policy where being allowed to work from home is reserved for people more senior than me. But the upshot is that I've been given special permission to work from home today, and I resent being made to look like a slacker, but there you go.

So I have a moment to catch up with the meme that I've entirely abandoned for a month and a half while in the middle of moving jobs. And I find that I'd stopped just before the section where I have philosophical objections to the questions. A song you think everybody should listen to: there's no such song, because everybody has different tastes in music! And I don't believe in a moral obligation to listen to music, because it might be very good, but people get to decide what to do with their own listening time.

But let me try and post something anyway, cos I am completionist even when I'm very slow. I have sometimes wanted to sit people down and make them listen to The house of Orange by Stan Rogers. It's a very good song, with a message I think is important. But by no means everybody should listen to it, only people who have managed to pick up the foolish notion that sectarian violence is romantic. And, well, people who appreciate well-written but hard hitting songs might get something positive out of it, but I wouldn't go as far as to say should.

I think if I have to pick one song that if not everybody, then at least lots of people who are generally in political and musical sympathy with me might appreciate, I'm going to go for Tam Lyn retold by The Imagined Village and Benjamin Zephaniah. Because Zephaniah is an amazing poet, and The Imagined Village is an exceptionally interesting and innovative folk project. And because it's a really brilliant reworking and interpretation of the Tam Lin story, which itself one of those core folk pieces. I recommend it even if you don't generally like folk music; it's not in the musical style associated with folk at all. And because it's musically great, it's nearly ten minutes long and I usually have to repeat it several times every time it comes up on my playlist. And finally because I agree with its pro-refugee and pro-migrant message, so if I'm going to impose one song on everybody, this is my pick.

video embed )

Mid Week Anti Procrastination Time!

Oct. 10th, 2017 07:39 pm
peaceful_sands: butterfly (Default)
[personal profile] peaceful_sands posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Here we go, it's time for that starting bell to ring and for us to let loose on the things that will no longer be procrastinated.

So what's it going to be for you? Big or small, easy or hard, tell us all about it. Let us cheer you along, and bolster up that motivation, because while we may not be physically there with you we're out here waving pompoms and believing that you can do it!

In need of a challenge - in deference to my own fatigue levels at the moment - I'm going to say set a timer for an appropriate length of time (5/10/15 minutes) and go for it! What can you get done? Tackle a pile or a task, clean a floor or organising a drawer or just do a bit of washing up until that timer goes.

If your personal goals are higher or your energy is abounding *eyes you jealously* feel free to do multiple rounds of time setting.

Don't forget, every good deed done deserves a reward - so what's your reward going to be?

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Sociopathic characters in fiction

Oct. 10th, 2017 02:19 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I've read several examples of sociopathic characters in several different books, and been left with a bunch of thoughts.

Read more... )

Not the weekend I hoped for

Oct. 9th, 2017 02:32 pm
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[personal profile] liv
TL;DR: I had a medical problem, I got appropriate treatment, and I'm now safe and recovering.

includes breathing difficulties, but not gory )

At this point, comments I would find helpful are: expressions of sympathy; discussions of healthcare policy. I would prefer if you could skip telling me your own stories about asthma and breathing troubles, and I don't really want to hear any experiences with prednisolone right now. I know that's not very socially appropriate of me when I've just told you a long story about my asthma experience, but I find other people's descriptions of asthma triggering and my breathing still isn't quite right. And prednisolone has an effing scary side effect profile, so I'm trying not to scare myself into believing I have any symptoms, so I would rather wait until after I've finished the course to compare experiences.

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