110/365

Apr. 20th, 2019 09:11 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Today was a good day. I managed to sleep in, get some stuff done that I've been procrastinating on (laundry and essay work, both taking advantage of the nice weather; I hung the laundry outside and bribed myself to look at the essay by letting myself sit in the garden to do it) and then had a date with Stuart.

We determined earlier this week that we wanted to go to the movies or have a picnic or something, go out in the car some place. So he picked me up and he'd come up with a good idea: we went to the viewing park at the airport. It's a big field where you can see planes land, also see a few they have on display. There's also "British people in a field" stuff like ice cream vans and fairground rides for tiny children. It was really busy today, a sunny warm day in the middle of a long weekend. Nice to see kids running around, people admiring the planes. We had ice cream and sat in the sunshine.

And we went back to his place and watched a movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me, which I'd seen but he hadn't because it does look like it should be terrible but luckily he agreed with me that it's great. We laughed so much.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Woke up early this morning to get ready to go to a Pride. Early start to the season here up north! I do like these little Prides though, and we didn't have a stall to run this time so it was a nice stroll with time to get back to Manchester for a late lunch afterward.

It was freezing at first so my bisexual t-shirt (a new one that says "if I wanted to pass for monosexual I'd wear a different shirt") was hidden under my zipped-up jacket for much of the parade (thus illustrating bisexual invisibility, I'm sure), but I had my bisexual-flag striped [personal profile] haggis-knitted gloves. The sun came out and we warmed up a little as we walked around.

I've had a sore throat since that hasn't been very bad, just enough to make me sorry for myself and really tired from fighting off whatever associated bug there is.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I accidentally ended up going to a housewarming party for friends of friends (including Stuart who'd forgotten he'd planned both to see me and go to this party, so just took me along).

So yeah I did nothing all morning and spent the afternoon with him and the evening with him and other people and food and drinks. It was a good First Day Off.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
On the train back home from Leeds, after a great night with Andrew, [personal profile] strange_complex, [personal profile] miss_s_b, and Other Holly watching A Pleasing Terror live memorized tellings, in costume and in character and in candlelight, of M.R. James ghost stories.

I've seen this storyteller a few times, at the Lowry in Salford and at a weird place underneath railway arches in Leeds. Today was in the Leeds Library, a private subscription library that's full of well-preserved atmosphere that absolutely perfect for occasions like this. We sat among towering stacks of books and the smell of old wood.

The weather even provided such convincing blustery wind noises during "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook" that Holly was convinced they were spooky sound effects for the occasion.

We made sure to go in early to get good seats and ended up right in front, where I could admire the candlelight glinting off my glass of white wine.

It was a great night, and I'm on my way home full of pizza and salad from a place that wasn't where we'd meant to eat but ended up being at least as good. Sometimes these things just work out, and it's nice.

Weekend

Nov. 18th, 2018 07:46 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Me every Friday: what a knackering week! I need some fun to recuperate and reward myself with!

Me every Sunday evening: I'm so shattered now, how am I supposed to go back to long days of lectures tomorrow?!

And this weekend I didn't even go to Brighouse Friday night/Saturday, or work on Sunday morning, two things that have usually helped fill up my weekends this semester.

theatre and alcohol )

drum teching )

Bi Coffee and Trans Day of Remembrance )

And then I came home; no Doctor Who (live, anyway) for me this week. Stuart was too tired and as I said up at the top, I'm still wondering how I'm going to start in on another week at uni after all this!

I wouldn't want my weekends any other way but I could do with another weekend after them to recover.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
When I told Andrew I was going to a spoken-word night with Stuart, he expressed sympathy. It made me laugh but I was convinced it was unfounded.

I don't know why, because every other such thing I've been to has had some measure of terribleness in it, but I trusted Stuart to pick something good. And he was going to read a few poems himself, which he'd hardly ever done before and which I was excited to hear; I didn't know them. I've read some of the novel he's working on (it's great and this was before we were dating again so I was under no girlfriendly obligations to say so (not that I'd feel obliged anyway but it does sometimes seem that way to recipients of such praise)) but I was unfamiliar with his poetry, so I was looking forward to that.

And unsurprisingly he was great, but slightly more surprisingly the rest of the open-mic first half was fine too. A loud Canadian addressed a sweary poem to the Moon, somebody condemned pavement (sidewalk, for American readers; normally the word I use and prefer but here it loses the alliteration) parking.

And then the headliner, CiarĂ¡n Hodgers, came on for the second half. By the end of his first poem I was determined to buy the book he said he had.

The poem left me in tears because it was about being an emigrant--usually we talk as immigrants, about the lives we're moving to, not where we're from. Obviously half of the details I couldn't relate to at all because I'm not Irish but the other half was like hearing the most perfect version of my tangled, unlovely thoughts.

And then he introduced his next poem by talking about his grandpa dying and how he had to take the first flight back and then I cried more, having of course been in that position myself and knowing I will be again one day for my grandma... I was crying because it's November now and because it'd be All Souls Day the next day.

The poet said he had three copies of the book (though he was happy to take details and post one for anybody else since he considered it his own fault he hadn't brought more copies, bless him) and I was second in line to buy one. "I could feel a lot of love coming from that corner of the room," he said, which is possibly no surprise since Em J had sent Steve to be first in line.

I told him he'd made me cry because I was an immigrant too and he signed the book for me and stood up to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek goodbye.

It was a magical night all around really.

I definitely want to go back to Spoken Weird again, and I'd recommend it to anyone who can get to Halifax on the first Thursday of a month.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
On Tuesday night, Andrew and I went to the Royal Northern College of Music for "Goldberg City Variations." It was so wonderful. A familiar and much-loved piece of music, accompanied by a computer-generated cityscape video based on the sounds.

Watching abstract "landscapes" and "buildings" assemble themselves, with orderly rows of lines and angles flying into place like an IKEA instruction manual come to life, was endlessly fascinating and yet so soothing, like filling in one of those intricate mandala-type coloring pages. It gives the visual part of your brain something to do while you're taking in the music.

Bach's music, especially Goldberg (written to soothe an insomniac who was rich enough to be able to employ poor Goldberg to stay up all night and play for him) is so warm and alive, it might not seem the most intuitive accompaniment to greyscale rectilinear architecture. But of course there's too nothing modern for Bach: when his music was suggested for inclusion on Voyager's "golden record," to explain humanity to any aliens that might find it one day, Carl Sagan famously declared that'd be "just showing off." I'm as happy to have Bach represent me to any alien as Sagan was.

At the end of the performance, a message came up on the screen saying that it was inspired by "Cosmic City" by Iannis Xenakis, who I'd never heard of so I've looked him up now and...My beloved Messiaen thought he was too weird to give music lessons to. An architect who wrote music that evokes "the physics and patterning of the natural world, of the stars, of gas molecules, and the proliferating possibilities of mathematical principles."

He sounds like someone I should be listening to. (I've tried his music out on Spotify now.)
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Sessions attended: Just one! Queering Shakespeare, which I loved. I've been before and it's always my favorite.

We're given extracts from mostly Shakespeare plays (though some of it's not plays and some of it's other early modern writers) for small groups of people to act out for the rest of the workshop attendees. For instance, in my group I was Antony getting ready for battle, Stuart was Cleopatra insisting on helping me with my armor even though she didn't seem to know what she was doing, and our friend Zoe played soldiers who were actually trying to help me and tell me stuff. It's clear at the end of the scene that Antony's much happier going off to war, leaving Cleopatra for "a soldier's kiss, rebukable." Watching how some of the other groups interpreted their selections was hysterical, with special mention going to the fairies acting as a Greek chorus while Oberon and Titania were arguing, jumping around and shouting comments: when Titania says "Met we on hill, on dale..." and the others shout out "Who's Dale?!"

Stuart said afterwards "the extracts were well picked, we were well coached and encouraged and the atmosphere was one of support and participation and the spirit of the work. And knob gags. And ladygarden gags."

My answers got long, so I'll put most of this under a cut. )

Volunteering done (can be anything even small thing like picking up litter or buying organisers a drink): Thursday and Friday were all volunteering for me. Stuart had properly signed up for a couple of shifts on the desk and as a gopher on Thursday and I came along to do whatever needed doing: I put up lots of signs directing people where to go, I helped some people find their accommodation, stuff like that.

Friday was the busy day for this: we packed up all Stuart's drums, a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a mandolin, a banjo, and I can't even remember what else into the back of his Micra and (via buying mandolin strings and picking up a bass borrowed from his bandmate), came back to BiCon and started setting up. I made countless trips back and forth, up and down stairs, carrying stuff. I got to help by hitting the drums so Stuart could hear what they'd sound like from the room; that was the most fun. "Start with the kick drum," he said and I did, and the sound was so good made his face light up. Then as soon as it was done we had to take everything down for the silent disco. I carried lots of stuff around, I didn't have to make a lot of decisions because I don't understand exactly what needs doing (though I felt better at that by the end of Friday!), I just had to fetch and carry and it was delightfully straightforward after too much time in my own head.

Other notable things: 1. I wonder if this will end up being the BiCon of It Suddenly Going Pitch-Black When You Pee or Shower. Whose idea is it to put motion-activated lights in bathrooms? And why do they turn off after only seven seconds of no movement? And why are there no sensors in the shower so that you have to reach your hand out and waggle it around if you don't want to take a shower in the dark?

I just elected to take the shower in the dark, and I snarkily posted on my Facebook that I'm sure the uni have done this in order to induce greater empathy with visually impaired people.

2. Stuart said at one point, "I've been to a lot of cons, and BiCon is the best one, because" -- and I tried to guess what he was going to say next but even if I'd had more time I'd have totally failed -- "it's like all the other cons rolled into one." I like that; I've been thinking about it ever since.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I saw Hamilton yesterday afternoon! Piggybacking on another friend's birthday trip (my usual strategy, since my own birthday is never really celebrated, is to enjoy everybody else's a little more so that over the year I store up enough extra happiness and excitement that it equals a birthday for me), this time [personal profile] rmc28.

Who a month ago emailed us with a beautiful plan for the day so I knew where I'd meet people, what time, even the menu of the place we were going to eat beforehand. I luxuriate in plans like this, the best way to offset my anxiety.

When we were finally able to take our seats, I was so excited to realize that we were sitting in the third row of the stalls. Almost right in the center (of the four of us, I had the seat second from the left; I think the rightmost might actually have been right in the middle).

The set that friends of mine had to describe for me (from the second-to-last row in the first tier of circle seats) was much more sharp and clear to me now. The actors, when they came onstage, were so distinct and easily identifiable that I almost cried, I was so overwhelmed.

For the whole play it was easy to follow them, to catch some of the visual jokes and cleverness of the choreography (I know there was way more, but there's more than anyone could appreciate in one viewing and at least here it wasn't all lost on me). The whole thing was easy for me to cope with and I wasn't exhausted by it the way I had been the first time I'd seen it. It was such a special experience.

Here's a not-very-good phone camera picture I took before the performance started, hopefully good enough to give you an idea of the view from my seat.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (me)
I spent the last few days mostly away from the internet (literally with no signal a lot of the time), setting up for a wedding reception in a field, enjoying the day, and tidying up after it today.

There was a lot of stress on the Friday, thanks to a ridiculously prolonged journey because of the standstill on the M6 and how catastrophically lost we got, twice, trying to make it to our hotel. It'd have been enough to make most days The Worst Day Ever but when we finally did get back to the hotel we agreed it had still been a great day; that's how good the rest of it was.

Between Friday evening and this afternoon, I:
  • helped put together marquees (and took half of one down by myself)
  • went barefoot in grass
  • lugged hay bales around for the first time since I was a teenager (and for a very different purpose! they were being used as furniture here)
  • saw a marvelous read-through of A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • heard a prayer in old English in the church service! (the text, and modern translation, of which can be seen in the comments here)
  • had Richard Coles shake my hand and fairly convincingly say he was glad I was there (a very important quality in a vicar!)
  • very briefly held the distance record in the welly-wanging game, which is extra impressive considering the shoes I had to do it in
  • laughed at a bunch of other people welly-wanging, umbrella-fencing, and egg-and-spoon racing (something about doing these games in our fancy wedding outfits made them even funnier)
  • saw some of my favorite people, including some I didn't know were going to be there, and some new friends I made over the weekend.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
They are the kind of lovely people who don't act like they know how good a band they are.

Sadly, too few people knows how good they are either.

But a few more do tonight, including Stuart who helped with the last-minute chaotic logistics.

At one point he went from looking over his shoulder at them (the booth where he was sitting faced away from the stage), to turning around and sitting on his knees to get a better view over the back of the booth, to leaning over it like a dog with its head out of a car window in unmitigated glee.

Andrew said on the way home that musicians appreciate Blake Jones and the Trike Shop best because anybody can tell they're good but other musicians can tell how many very difficult things they make sound very easy. I think that's what was going on here!

#

I'm still too wired to sleep, an hour after I got home. I have been awake since 5:30am (20 hours now!) and if I'm not up by at least 8am (6.5 hours from now) my parents will get up to all sorts of judgmental mischief on their own.

But tonight was still worth it. When I spend this much time around my parents I almost forget who I am, and this helped remind me.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
When I was a kid I hated having to go to bed before it got dark. It seemed so unfair! Night-time is for sleeping!

Now, I love it when I get to bed before it gets dark. I love going to bed early in the summer, as much as I love staying out late.

I loved staying out on Sunday, when I went with friends to see Sarah Millican at the Apollo. It was ostensibly a present for Stuart's birthday but I so enjoyed it I felt like it was a treat for me too. (My actual birthday ranges from unremarkable to rubbish, so I like to think that by enjoying all my friends' birthday events a little more than is normal, it equals up to a whole birthday for me by the end of the year -- yesterday I also made arrangements for a weekend in London that includes a friend's birthday at Hamilton, and it'll be my second friend's-birthday-at-Hamilton so my birthday-enjoyment account is surely well into the black for 2018 already.)

Early bedtimes are certainly warranted lately. I spent Saturday dismantling the hated extra wardrobe and Sunday morning dismantling the hated sideboard, both of which were about to be replaced by more suitable furniture (both of which also were full of things I'd had to take out and find places for, even if it was just corners to throw them into). Sunday evening I started work on the chest of drawers, and Monday I finished that and made the storage-cube thing, and filled them back up with (almost) all the old things again. The delayed-onset muscle soreness tells me each day what I'd done too much of the day before: yesterday my arms were sore, today my legs.

Today I also helped a friend pack up her kitchen to move house. I did some grunt work, relieved to be free of the decision-making my last three days were full of, but I also was there to listen to my friend (the move was triggered by difficult stuff) and reassure her that it was okay to throw things away. I didn't do as much physical work today but I still came home exhausted. Very glad I could help, though.

Belgium

Apr. 7th, 2018 08:53 am
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
So yesterday we went to Brussels.

I was kind of weirded out by having my passport scanned a couple of times by people who hardly looked up at me, even though my ability to do this as an EU citizen was part if why we tacked this extra bit onto our London trip. I'm the same person but I'm treated so differently now; it can't help but remind me how arbitrary borders and citizenship are.

Richard was pleased it was a kind if Eurostar he hadn't been on before, while it was just by miles the nicest train I've been on (it's the only non-British one).

The weather in Brussels has been lovely, almost too nice for the clothes I brought with me, so we got to drink beer outside and eat dinner outside like proper Europeans.

We found an Italian restaurant and when I had to know the street name to tell Adam so he and Lisa-Maria could join us, I was delighted to learn it was Kaasmarkt, cheese market street, since I was eating gnocchi aux 4 fromage. It really was a lot of cheese, I love cheese but by the end of the meal I had the rare experience of thinking I had actually eaten enough cheese.

An old man played the accordion at the tables of diners outside while we were eating, and I thought "ha, he sounds like Jacques Brel" before I remembered where I was. Indeed, I saw "Editions Jacques Brel" (a little museum) on the map when I was looking for the way back to our hotel last night.

Oh and we saw a dog wearing sunglasses drinking out of a fountain behind our table.


I am bemoaning my lack of French but the Flemish on signs makes things easier because even the pitiful amount of German I know makes that decipherable. People talk to you in French, though, of course, although it amuses me that their English is more American than British sometimes: I've heard "check" instead of "bill" and "track" instead of "platform."

Today: more mooching around, I want some waffles and frites, Eurostar back this afternoon, train home from London this evening.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I'm awake early so have an update.

Hamilton was pretty good, despite my disappointment at the lack of accessibility. The staff were pretty good with other kinds of accessibility, spotting Richard and his walking stick in the big (but fast-moving) queue to get in and being that little bit encouraging when he'd originally said "no, I'm fine to wait in the queue" which I enjoyed seeing because I know, since I know him, that he wouldn't say he was fine if he wasn't, other people would and so the "are you sure?" seems to be protecting against excessive Britishness.

I was so glad I thought to bring my little monocular with me, a low-vision gadget normally used for reading train departure boards or shitty lecture slides. It only magnifies a tiny area -- I could see a person at a time on the stage, or two if they were standing close together -- and it was too tiring to use all the time, but it did help me appreciate a little of the choreography and the other clever stuff I'd been sad about missing. I couldn't hold the thing up to my face for anything like the whole time (it reminded me of doing this in grade school when we watched movies, no wonder I hated movies until I was a teenager), and it's still a pretty spoon-eating way to watch a play. But it meant I wasn't miserable. I underestimated how helpful it would be that I knew every word of the thing so usually knew who to look for in terms of what was likely to be an interesting bit.

Otherwise, I have surely used up all of my luck when it comes to not losing my bus pass, railcard and in this case first-class train tickets home from London. I got a message I saw at the end of Hamilton on Facebook from a person who works for Virgin Trains, found my little plastic wallet with all these things in, searched Facebook for my name, found the person most likely to be the match for the name on the railcard and bus pass, and messaged me to tell me this. I hadn't even noticed the tickets were missing yet so even though this was accompanied by the huge relief of being able to expect them back soon, I still had a little anxiety attack which, on top of how much the ending of Hamilton puts you through an emotional wringer anyway, meant I was completely out of spoons about four hours before I could relax.

Still, I'm going to write to Virgin when I get home and tell them whatever they do to commend their staff they should do for this woman who went above and beyond for me. And finally something useful comes of Facebook!

Also, having always been so careful with making sure I have this on me, I've now lost it twice in a short time and am kind of horrified to be this version of myself I don't recognize.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Andrew found out last week that "Tim Peake's spacecraft" was going to be at the Media Museum and the museum had developed a Thursday "late" around it and the general concept of space and he thought I'd be interested. It did sound good.

Though not enough to stop me being grumpy that the Soyuz capsule wasn't brought to Manchester. It'd be a much better fit at MOSI, which not only has "science" in the name and concept of the thing without having to be wedged in with a crowbar, but actually has an Air and Space Hall. That hardly ever has any "space" stuff in it! But noooo, we had to trek all the way to Bradford for this, so it was a good thing the event was free because travel was about twenty quid and we were aware of how capricious the trains home could be.

I'd seen a Soyuz at the National Space Centtre in Leicester, but that was the full thing, all the modules looking if not pristine (it's fifty years old) at least clearly not having actually been to space. (You can see pictures and info about it at that link.) This thing, on the other hand, looked more like a sixties Doctor Who prop.


Which makes sense: it's of about the same vintage. Very little has changed for Soyuz, and the fact that it's still (and once again the only) way to get into space kind of blows my mind. The pictures I have here were all of side most blackened by heat when this particular capsule returned to the Earth. The other side of it was still burned, but a sort of rich brown color rather than charcoal black.

The ropes are to the parachute that was displayed with it, hung from the ceiling of the two-story high atrium where you first come into the museum. It was mostly draped and wrapped up and still ridiculously huge -- and of course only one of the parachutes Soyuz needs, but this was referred to as the "main" one and I think it is the biggest.

People kept trying to peer into the windows and I couldn't see a lot but Andrew told me it was nice and analogue in there: big buttons, well-labeled switches, luckily no touchscreens here! He also said there was a sign that said "help! man aboard" or something, and something he presumed was the same in Russian, visible through one of the windows I took these pictures through.

So we heard a little talk on that and while I was glad the museum was keeping the activities clearly meant for the school trips around for adults, who got their faces painted and made Mars rovers powered by balloons and stuff, the rest of what we happened to do was classic Media Museum stuff.

First we went to see the Moon landing on vintage TVs.

I think the one nearer to me in the picture here was from the late fifties, and the smaller one (you can't really tell from this crappy picture but it was in color!) was from the mid-sixties, so both could have been used to watch the Moon landing -- though we saw it because these have been converted to take digital format video, and since the BBC did erase the video tapes of the Moon landing, we were just watching the raw NASA footage for a few minutes, which was kind of great in itself and honestly probably better than listening to Patrick Moore and James Burke burble on about it?

The curator for this was great, talking about what it would've been like as an experience: the Moon landing happened at something like four in the morning UK time, and since NASA had a couple of hours' worth of film sent with the astronauts they just let it play. It was a big deal to have video cameras recording for hours at that time (never mind in space!) and it was the first time British TV broadcast all night long. She set the scene really well, and got everyone to give Neil Armstrong a round of applause when he said his famous words. She was clearly used to school groups too, unable to hide her amazement when somebody (of course it was Andrew) could tell her which channel was the first to broadcast in color.

We also went to Insight, both thinking as we did that the last time we were there we saw Dracula's teeth, to see a bunch of photos and similar that at least vaguely related to space. As always with anything like this I was much more interested than I thought I would be when I first had it described. The media museum is great for displaying some of these items it has that it can't usually show the public, and again there were curators and other volunteers telling us about everything.

So we saw some magic lantern slides (a sort of very early slide projector)...

...some 3D pictures of the Moon and a Viewmaster-type thing for looking at them through, lots of pictures of everything from someone testing the beef cubes that will be made into astronauts' food to sixties- and seventies-era prototypes of space shuttles and space stations and so on, and a daguerreotype of the Moon!

Again, the enthusiasm of the volunteers and curator totally made this what it was, what this museum is best at.

Like all trips to the Science and Media Museum since it became such, it was bittersweet in that the place is a sad shadow of what it once was, but even the shadow is still pretty great. I'm still mad at what the Science Museum Group are doing to it, and in how that affects the way they share their resources with Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry too. But no matter how much they threaten to close one of their "northern museums," no matter how much they pilfer the Media Museum's unique collections and the relationships it's built around them...the people who work and volunteer there, who love the place, and the great things they're still allowed to display, make it a totally special place I am still so fond of.

weekend

Aug. 14th, 2017 01:45 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I"m settling into a pattern of weeks with very little to do and very low mood, and then being very busy and mostly happier on the weekends. This is really bad for me and no fun but I don't feel able to get myself unstuck yet.

Adventures in Babysitting )

I was staying over so quickly installed myself in the spare room, with the comfy bed, the robot alarm clock and the lamp with colorful airplanes on its shade. It was pretty great.

I was there because next morning Simon and I were driving to Leeds for BiCon and it made no sense to get me home late at night just to go pick me up again the next day.

BiCon )

The Home Office at BiCon )

So I was quite glad that my plans had changed such that I could go to Brighouse that night. I was tired and a little emotionally wrung-out with one thing and another. It didn't help a lot though as after a blessed day off Twitter I was catching up on Charlottesville. I spent way too much time reading what it felt like I couldn't look away from but also couldn't fix. But I was heartened to see a lot of white people talking about how unhelpful attitudes like #ThisIsNotUs were, ignoring that this is what America has always been so we can feel better about ourselves.

Andrew came over to Brighouse too yesterday, for Sunday dinner and terrible films. It was really nice having all the best people around.

Now I'm home where all the cleaning and laundry have been neglected for quite a while even before I was away because my mental health has been so bad. I've done a load of laundry I'm about to go hang up and put another one in. It'd be nice if I could clean some things. And I have to write down volunteering admin and stuff I need to do before it all falls out of my head. Better go and do all of that, then!

Here's hoping this week is better than the last two.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I texted James on Friday to say the day that would work for me to visit this weekend was Saturday and was that okay with him. He said yes, and that there was the free wine-tasting at Czerwik's.

So I turned up, after a horrible journey comprised not only of rail-replacement buses but of absolutely no information about anything anywhere, very ready for a glass of wine. We listened to some cricket first and managed to turn up at Czerwik's just as the other customers and the guy who works there were wandering off upstairs or to do other things, leaving for a while just me and Jennie and James in the wine cellar, sitting on the cool floor demolishing the rest of the available cheese and an amount of wine that probably would've been shameful for people who had any shame. It was awesome.

But as if that wasn't enough, we'd walked past a new place advertising itself as doing cocktails and food, right next to Czerwik's, called Villain. They weren't open then but we peered through the windows of this place with the black exterior and shiny purple letters, to see an interior that was also black and shiny purple, and from what Jennie could tell a decent selection of gin.

By the time we left Czerwik's it was open. We thought we had to test it out.

Jennie and I had color-change gin, which starts out bright blue in the bottle, turns purple when you add the tonic, and then turns pink. In case this black-and-purple villain-themed place (with posters on the wall of different Jokers and That Guy From Breaking Bad and similar) wasn't Jennie enough, it also features gin in all the colors I have ever seen her hair be.

It also seems like the most bisexual thing ever. I mean: gin that's all the colors of our flag?!

Because Andrew had kindly said I didn't have to brave a worse public-transport nightmare on the way back, I stayed over which meant I got to eat mincemeat-with-cheese vol-au-vents (that might've been an idea we thought of once we started drinking eating the nice cheddar...) and watch game shows. And then Black Books, a delight for me because I know it so well it's so easy to watch. And then an early bedtime, by which point I was almost sober again.

In the morning I still had a similarly horrible journey to face, but at least I had more sleep before I did it. It wasn't too bad, though even abled people were still complaining at the lack of information (Brighouse is an unstaffed station and there was no indication of when or where the rail replacement bus would arrive; I'm seriously tempted to find out who to complain to because I've never had such an inaccessible journey. Even to the point where when the bus got to Huddersfield, the driver stopped at what I thought was an intersection, instead he opened the door and got off the bus and I was like..."oh, we're...here?" It took a while for anyone to get off the bus so I don't think it was just Blindy McBlindface here who wasn't sure what was going on.)

However in Huddersfield the staff got a lot better...a bit suffocating, really, but at least they made sure I got on the right rail-replacement bus for the next bit and made sure Stalybridge knew to expect me and to help me get to the right platform where I got an actual train the rest of the way to Manchester.

Nothing like losing the express route across the Pennines to make you appreciate it. It's fifteen minutes on the train, it took 45 minutes on the bus. It's a very pretty area and would be nice to live in or go to. But when it's just in the way, and you're worried about getting home in time for a thing, it's just stress-inducing.

I got home just in time to shower and go out again, to the Women in Science walk that went along with the talk my WI had last month. It was done by one of our members who volunteers with Manchester Girl Geeks who have done a walking tour of the city centre focusing on women who've had some connection to Manchester. What she was doing for us lot, on her own, was a smaller version of the same thing. About twelve of us showed up and everyone really enjoyed it.

We learned about Kathleen Drew-Baker, a phycologist whose work inadvertently saved Japan's supply of nori after it was nearly wiped out, Margaret Beckett who was a metallurgist before going into politics, Beatrice Shilling, engineer and motorbike racer, Cicely Popplewell and Mary Lee Woods, early computer scientists, and then Margaret Murray and Professor Rosalie David, pioneering and current experts on mummies. I liked that for all the historical scientists the last one is a currently-working woman.

It was nice to end up in Manchester Museum too, where I haven't been for ages, probably since the course I did two summers ago because it was one of the heritage sites that was part of it; some of my coursemates volunteered there afterwards just like I did at MOSI. And actually the MOSI person who oversaw that course is now working at Manchester Museum and asked me last week if I'd be interested in helping one of the conservators there who wants to make an exhibit accessible for for people with visual impairments. So I'm going to a meeting about that later this week and I'm pretty excited about that.

I know I just gave up one volunteering thing, but I'm not committing myself to anything yet by going to a meeting, and it sounds like it might be more satisfying/a better use of my time. We'll see, anyway.

Eng v SL

Jul. 4th, 2017 02:04 am
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)


It's horrible that women's cricket is so unpopular. It doesn't bring in huge crowds or lots of money.

But it's great that that means it's cheap and you can just turn up and get good seats. This is where we sat yesterday, at the County Ground in Taunton.

After an early start (I had to get up at 5:30!), and an extremely pleasant trip down (a friend of Ali's from her old cricket team joined us, and we chatted nonstop so the time went really fast), we found ourselves in these seats. Good cricket fans that we are, most of us had brought warm and waterproof clothes as well as our sunscreen and hats (I couldn't find my big floppy sun hat so had to bring my Twins hat, from a totally different ball game), but it was definitely a day for the latter: the weather was perfect: hot and sunny all day.

Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first, which I ended up being really glad of because we watched their innings with rapt attention, having pinned Tas's Sri Lanka flag to the fence in front of our front-row seats at the old pavilion end. Tas told us more stories (there had been a few in the car) about what it's like going to watch cricket in Sri Lanka, where she says it's like a religion and she'd wander in to matches after finishing school for the day, once taking a Dutch student friend who hadn't known anything about cricket and got caught up in it and soon was hooked. She told us about how, despite that, women's cricket gets little investment. The players are expected to cover costs themselves, and they're not likely to be well-off. "There's no one from Columbo on the team," she said. "These are village girls."

When the first wicket fell, I was sad but also I had been looking forward to seeing Athapaththu, who had shattered the record by getting 178 runs earlier in the week against Australia (a match that Sri Lanka, heartbreakingly, still lost). So of course she got out for only one run! Tas had just been telling a story of her dad or uncle or somesuch who went to see Don Bradman one day and he got out for a duck, the moral of which was that there's no batter who is immune from the bad day or the unlucky shot. Cricket people love to wax lyrical about this, about how batting is the loneliest thing in any sport and how arbitrary the amount of time that you get to play can be.

We reapplied sunscreen and ate sandwiches we'd brought with us, even had a couple of cans of cider (shared between three of us, since one of them had been caught at the bag checks as we came in, so Maz who was watching us laughed and said we looked like twelve-year-olds at a bus stop, passing the cans back and forth). Three other matches in the Women's World Cup were happening at the same time as ours: India v Pakistan, South Africa v West Indies, and Australia v New Zealand. During a drinks break, the scores for those matches were read out, including 42-7 for the West Indies. Ali and I had been following the scores and knew they'd been 35-5 or something, but also 16-5 so really it could have been worse and maybe they could still turn it around? But 42-7 was tragic. Soon after, while the game ahead of us was going on, an announcement was made over the tannoy that West Indies were all out for 48, news we met with audible gasps.

Still, at least it meant when things were looking a little ropey for Sri Lanka in the thirty-something overs, Tas could console herself with "at least we aren't the West Indies..." and laugh. She was pretty sanguine really: at least no ducks, at least no one's embarrassed themselves...I recognized this as the kinds of small-market fan goals that I'm used to setting for my Minnesota teams.

Tas also told us about the way that Sri Lankan names are put together, after seeing Ranasinghe's come up. Rana- and jaya- and -singhe and -wardena, she told us about old kings and lions and beauty and it was just great to have some of the unfamiliarity of the names worn off a little bit. All I know about Sri Lankan names I know from cricket, but even then I was able to notice some of the patterns and the elements of them, which I always like.

By one o'clock things were looking salvagable for Sri Lanka and I hoped they'd hit 200 runs. But at the same time, we saw that South Africa had already won their game, passing the West Indies score in six overs. "We'd already be int he pub by now!" we told each other. It seemed inconceivable while we were still watching the first team bat here. Though I knew such things were possible: two years ago I saw what was supposed to be an ODI at Old Trafford -- that was Eng v SL too, though men's that time -- which didn't even last as long as a T20 game, because Sri Lanka (batting first) were out for about 63 I think. Though soon after rain would have stopped play anyway. It was the saddest cricket imaginable.

Sri Lanka did manage all their overs, and 204 runs. It was time for the lunch break, and a few of us went inside for a while to get a break from the sun. Tas ended up chatting about Wi stuff, as she inevitably does -- she is the best president, always thinking about things and networking with people -- and we generally had a nice enough time that we didn't notice cricket had started again until after it had. We went outside again and I drank a beer (not as expensive as I feared, once I learned you got a quid back when you returned the plastic cup) and all too soon the boringly good England team had scored enough runs to win. They lost three wickets doing so, one right at the end from someone that Tas said she expected to see out the match, and it's nice to see that even when it was unlikely to matter, Sri Lanka weren't giving up. I had almost given up watching, being very warm and sleepy by then!

Just as we were leaving, Ali told us that the New Zealand cricketer she'd previously mentioned as the first to play international cricket who was born in the 2000s had gotten two Australians out on two balls, one of them being Meg Lanning! And Pakistan were not doing much better than the West Indies; they also had about 55 at the point their score was read to our crowd, again getting groans and gasps (they ended up with 74). Women's cricket is still such an uneven game, prone to score differences like these making me think about which countries are putting money into it (though my understanding from what I heard yesterday is that better is expected of the West Indies). It's sort of a shame knowing there's only a few teams I'm likely to see in the final in a couple of weeks -- though I'm still looking forward to it, of course! There are things that I prefer about the women's game, but there are frustrations with it too.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I didn't get the job. Boring details about that. )

Anyway, almost as soon as I got home from the interview, it was time to leave again. Part of me wanted to sleep for a week but I'd arranged to go to the theatre with James and Jennie and Other Holly back when I couldn't have known what a tiring week this was going to be, and the rest of me knew that I'd feel better once I got myself there.

And I did. We saw "The Play That Goes Wrong," which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it. [personal profile] miss_s_b's review is here (very slight spoilers) which is lucky as I think I'm getting a migraine so should get off the computer before I could write one myself.

To hers I only need add that she was awesome for giving me a little impromptu audio description, which especially at the beginning of the play where the gags were all visual was very welcome because we were sitting way at the back and so I was doomed to hearing people laughing a lot and having absolutely no idea why, which wasn't exactly the mood-lifter I needed. I was worried someone would tell us off for Talking During the Performance but luckily no one did and it totally made the experience for me. There were lots more dialogue-based jokes later on and some of the phsyciality was stuff I could just about discern, but I still would have felt like I'd missed out on a lot if it weren't for my kind friends.

We were a pretty noisy audience eventually anyway, so maybe I needn't have worried. Some asshole to the left of us started shouting "funny" things (as opposed to actually funny things) almost right away, and continued to throughout the first half. And eventually, the po-faced actor/director-playing-the-inspector's tantrum included "Despite appearances tonight, this isn't a pantomime!" and I feel I earned all my British-citizen cred by being the first person (from what we could hear, anyway) to shout "Oh yes it is!"
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
This morning, [personal profile] white_hart shared a quote from C.S. Lewis:
"If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things - praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts - not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds."
If we'd been much later, it'd have found Andrew and I on a tram home from a lovely night out.

One of Andrew's friends who lives in Australia was in Bury doing some work, and invited us out for dinner with him, his wife and the people they'd been working with all day, recording an audio drama for a podcast. It was a lot of fun, and it's always good to see Andrew enjoy himself in social situations, especially ones where people tried to guess his second-favorite Beatles album.

And because his friend was in Bury, we got a train to town and then a tram to Bury. Chatting idly along the way about how long it'd been since we'd been to Bury, having flashbacks at the tram stop that we used to use all the time when I first met Andrew, what kind of commute I'd have if I got a job I applied for, which would involve one of the tram stops along the way. On the way back, we were nearly half-asleep.

The tram went through Victoria station, right next to the entrance to the arena, about an hour before the bomb.

I went home and almost straight to bed. I already had an e-mail from my mom asking if I was all right, when I still thought this might have been a speaker blowing up or something that had spooked people. We were surprised she'd heard about it so quickly (if my parents knew how, I'm sure they'd set up a google alert for "incidents in the UK" and e-mail me about all of them, but barring that I have no idea how they manage).

I did not tell her I'd been on a tram going past there an hour before.

This morning I woke up to another e-mail from her asking if Andrew's family (the only other people she knows in the country) were okay, and it was all I could do not to tell her that I couldn't imagine any of them being at at an Ariana Grande concert.

No, those are for kids. I can't handle thinking of all the teenagers' parents today.

I woke up to other e-mails too, one from my old "blind teacher" who I hadn't heard from in years. People in North America had been fretting about us while we slept. FB and skype messages too, when I hadn't even thought I was logged into skype. By the time I read and could respond to them, the people who'd written them were asleep, hopefully not too worried about us.

One of those North Americans was awake, and upon hearing that we and ours are fine, said, "YEESH thank goodness yet it is still awful so be kind to yourselves PLEASE, eh?"

I hadn't thought of this as something I needed to be kind to myself about, but I replied to my friend, "Such a sad demographic to lose people from: the pictures being shared around social media of people who are still missing are of fourteen, fifteen year olds. I am having to be a bit careful around it actually for all the mentions of grieving parents, which inevitably remind me of my grieving parents saying no one's kids should die before them. I hope the strangers do no mind that my eyes are wet with tears for me as well as for them."

In his invariably lovely way, he said, "Of course that's what grieving is all about, dear Holly. My loss is your loss, your loss is mine. We're all in this together, though most of the time we don't see it. For you to think of your own family in this way shows a great respect for what other people are suffering with: connect us all together, connect you to me and me to you."

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