dc: Me, in a pub.  (Sideways)
I don't know how long it is since I posted anything. Since my father's death I have been a little... antisocial, you could say. I thought I did quite well at Eastercon, but actually, I think I was a bit stunned. It was good, though, the odd negative effort of the hotel notwithstanding. Even knowing he probably wouldn't survive the year, the speedy deterioration and sudden death — it took me by surprise and was a heavier blow than I had expected. At times, I still don't believe it. 

As well as being a bit hermitty, my ability to make sentences was not brilliant. Twitter was ace for this — when all you can write is 140 characters, complex sentences are not on the agenda. Wasn't really up to dealing with anything like blogging. Or email. Or pretty much anything else.

Just recently things have been looking up, a bit. I am still spending a lot of my time making sure my mother (whose mobility is poor) is OK, and I haven't really got back into having much of a social life as such, but I am feeling a bit more like being social, for certain values of social. I was down south about the time of my birthday, and I had an OK time, but I dread to think how boring I was for the people I saw then. Maybe I'd be a bit better now. Maybe.

I want to try to get back into the habit of blogging at least semi-regularly. Not sure how that will go, but we'll see.

Before I go just now, have you seen this story? Everything about it is a delight: Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he's from the future.

dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
I'm just posting this to confirm that I aten't dead, just very, very tired and struggling a bit at most things. Trying to build up some strength for a brief jaunt south at the start of June, which I am really looking forward to. I think it would help if I could get back to a normal sleep rhythm. In the meantime, I'm catching up with some things like: watching piles of DVDs, Ashes to Ashes, Doctor Who (was enjoying it until the last couple of episodes, which I found quite tedious), and getting back into a bit of reading. Still not back to normal, and still at times getting caught out by thinking "That's my father" when the phone rings. I am concerned, a little, about my mother's concentration and memory, and slightly thrown by the way she's deferring to me a lot of the time, even about stuff that I think is wholly her business and her choice. Weird.

That's it really. Nothing to see here...
dc: (Satellite 2)
I seem to have been pretty much hibernating since the end of Satellite 2. The Dead Dog ended when we left after 1am on Monday morning, I got back and slept for a while, waking up at some point (there was daylight) to snaffle some food and then crawled back into bed. Yesterday, woke up early, got up and had breakfast then crawled back into bed... Bit of a pattern there. While having breakfast, I watched the Lugosi Dracula, a secondhand DVD I got from At the Sign of the Dragon, the dealer we had at the con. (I have a small passion for the Universal horror films of the Thirties/Forties.) Its pacing was ideal for my tired brain; I wasn't too tired, though, to appreciate that Lugosi was actually rather impressive in the role, allowing for the different style of acting of the time. It has been quite some time since I last saw the film, and I had forgotten the way Browning makes it look as though Lugosi has walked through a web without disturbing it: simply done, but very effective. However, I would really like to get my hands on a copy of the simultaneously filmed Spanish version: the actor playing Dracula may be less skilled than Lugosi, but from the clips on the disc's extras, the direction is much superior.

Anyway, not really what I set out to write about. After all my banging on about it to everyone I met for the better part of eighteen months, we finally got Satellite 2 to the launch pad on Saturday morning. There was an odd moment when I looked at the registration desk — laden with leaflets and booklets — and thought, Oh, shit! I haven't brought any Satellite 2 flyers! And then I remembered this was actually it...

The opening ceremony started with a film of Apollo 11 launching to the accompaniment of Also Sprach Zarathustra[*]; then a big pink foot came down and the Python theme started[**], which is when we walked in and took our places. The Python bit seemed to go down very well, as did the choice of a white waistcoat to mark the DCM: a fair number of people got that.

And then we were into the con, with a programme which seemed to be well-liked. Certainly there were times when it was hard to get gophers because everyone wanted to go a programme item, and Ken MacLeod commented on how much of the programme he wanted to see. Iain M. Banks was a superb guest of honour, approachable and enthusuastically taking part. (With him and Ken at Satellite 1, we have been very lucky with our guests of honour.) The oddest comment about the con I have heard came from someone who did not come to it. I am told that someone was attempting to persuade a media fan to come along and got the response that it was a space advocacy convention masquerading as a science fiction convention. Um, no, I don't think so. Yes, there were some items in the science stream which could fairly be described as space advocacy (and I don't see a problem with that at an SF con), but it wasn't by any means a majority of the programme. Of the programme items I saw (either whole or in part), the ones which were highlights for me were Inadvisable Rocket Science[***] and Iain Banks's Room 101. I particularly loved his diatribe against Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair. He referred to one of the ships in Matter, The Hundredth Idiot: the source of the name is a quotation. ‘100 idiots make idiotic plans, and carry them out. All but one justly fail. The hundredth idiot, whose plans succeeded through pure luck, is immediately convinced he’s a genius.’

When I read Matter, Michael O'Leary was exactly the sort of person I thought of at that point.

I'm not quite sure exactly how the balance falls between scary and gratifying, but there were quite a few people asking about a Satellite 3.... Gulp.

I feel like going back to bed... I lasted quite well through the con, despite that awful bout of neck pain last week (it really buggered things up, although I got a lot of rest I was trying to catch up from quite a spoon deficit because of that). Admittedly, I had to use some Red Bull, but I lasted the con. Flopping at the Dead Dog was needed, though. I am hoping that by tomorrow I will be back to something like a normal sleep/wake ratio. Friday morning, of course, I need to get my father to the Beatson. (He's eating much better, by the way: the stent has really helped.)

Oh, while I remember: if you have any con reports from Satellite 2 (or see any), could you point me to them? (No, I haven't caught up with DW/LJ. Don't be silly.)

[* Which brought back memories: the BBC used it as the theme for their Apollo 11 coverage.]

[** This year is also the 40th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python's Flying Circus, if you didn't know.]

[*** A nuclear ramjet, planned to fly at low altitude at Mach 3 with an unshielded nuclear reactor spewing a radioactive trail behind it? As Phil Wellings said, the capacity to delivery nuclear bombs would have been almost redundant.]

More stuff

May. 26th, 2009 02:28 pm
dc: Me, in a pub.  (sandwiches!)
One thing I mean to say yesterday and forgot was, unusually, that the Kirk had got it right. Glad I didn't, because they've gone and got it wrong again. As [personal profile] pickwick said the other day, the CofS is the least irritating, bigoted and authoritarian of the churches I know — but there's still a lot of bigots in there. :(

In politics, many want to see a fairer electoral system. Not (unsurpriisingly) David Cameron, who says, Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites. — what, you mean we would lose the sensitive reflection of the popular we have in the current system? The system where if you don't live in a marginal seat your vote is pretty much irrelevant. Chicken Yoghourt hits the nail on the head: always be suspicious of someone talking disparagingly about ‘political elites’ when they’re a member of the political elite themselves.

More off-the-wall (well, bridge, really) news from China. A suicidal man in Beijing was holding up traffic (for hours), causing much irritation, so an angry passer-by pushed him off. (He didn't die.)

This made me smile: there are only two people in the world who know the secret, and they never travel on the same aeroplane.

Life is still a bit taxing at the moment. Today, up early again to get my father to the hospital. I believe he is having endoscopy about now, and later in the week there should be scans. On Friday, my parents are getting a stairlift installed, which will be a lot of help for my mother. Meanwhile, I am going to be getting ready for my holiday — this is pretty much the first proper holiday I have had in years. Two or three weeks away.... Nice. I am really looking forward to it. I wish this neck/shoulder pain would bugger off, though.

Pah. Yesterday was the 25th May, and I didn't notice. (Mentally, I am still thinking it's April, even though I know it isn't.) Well, I had no lilac. I had a reasonably priced egg, I suppose.

I may have said this before: I've been re-reading some of Iain M. Banks's stuff, and it is so much better on a second reading... which, given how good it is on first reading, is saying quite a lot.


May. 25th, 2009 05:13 pm
dc: Me, in a pub.  (sandwiches!)
One of the annoying things about not being properly online most of the time is not being able to properly follow the news when it's interesting — as it has been recently. At the Iain M. Banks/Ken MacLeod event in Balloch* last Friday, they were wondering whether or not there might be a revolution of sorts in progress. Maybe... At least PR is now being talked about by more than the usual suspects. And without PR, how can the system be made remotely trustworthy? As more than one person has noted, the MPs who were most diligently abusing the expenses system were the ones with the safest seats. It is astonishing that so many MPs still seem not to understand what is pissing people off so much — no satirist would ever have tried to pull off something like Anthony Steen's comments. The Archbishop of Canterbury's suggestion that the humiliation of MPs should stop seems to me to miss the point. Many will now be wondering whether the point has not been adequately made — it's not been anything like adequately made if there are still MPs wondering what right the public has to know what they are up to with their expenses. A bit of humiliation for some seems overdue: maybe it will provoke some humility.

The one real worry about the timing of this is that it might boost the BNP's vote in some areas; not likely in these parts, but in bits of England, maybe. That would be a very depressing result. Good for the Archbishops of York and Canterbury for speaking out against the BNP: I wouldn't normally like faith leaders doing something like that regarding party politics, but if the BNP are going to claim that Jesus would vote for them, it's fair enough for the bishes to counter that.

It would be good to think that we are about to see a major reform of the political system to make it more representative and inclusive; but who knows? As Iain Banks said on Friday, Lenin said there would be a revolution, but not in his lifetime... in 1916.

Anyway, tomorrow going to take my father to hospital; I would like to think he would be sorted out before I go off on holiday, but I wouldn't bet on it. (I travel a week on Tuesday.) *sigh*

[*Which was fun, by the way, and we got some interest for [livejournal.com profile] satellite_2 too.]
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
OK, I have spent a substantial part of the past three days in bed. For those new to my journal, I have ME, which a lot of people don't know when they meet me (which suits me). This is because I tend to pace myself so that when people see me, I'm not too bad. If I am too bad, I generally can't make it out, so it's easy not to spot I have it. It is also not, mostly, as bad as it was at the start, but just lately it has taken a serious turn for the worse. Partly this is the effect of my having had a few months of other health problems (asthma, chest infection, weird dietary problem), partly having had to expend a lot of my spoons on helping out my parents (my father has been ill, in hospital a couple of times, and my mother's mobility is very limited). Except that I have had rest and things should have been on an improving curve, but in fact things have been been inclining to be worse. I can't help wondering if some of my other medication is having a bad effect on the ME. The past three days I have had almost no energy, had problems moving around the flat, and have tended to feel so exhausted I was on the point of collapse while I was lying down.

I am quite pleased this didn't hit earlier, because it would seriously have buggered up Friday. I spent a chunk of the day with [livejournal.com profile] banhe, whose birthday it was. There was photography involved, and food, and the giving of presents. It was excellent getting the chance to catch up with her.

Since she's vegan, we ate in the Note. I decided not to take the risotto cakes (which are delicious and I can tolerate them) because I always take them lately, and instead decided to have the lasagne. It was nice, and I had no catastrophic effects, but there was definite unpleasant bloating for several hours afterwards. I recently also tried some beans (since I like beans on toast) and it wasn't too bad — not the catastrophically bad effects I was getting with fibre a few months ago. However, definite discomfort and bloating, enough to suggest eating more fibre would be a bad idea. So, it looks like it is going to be a while yet before I get back to being vegan.

My father's is not too well again; in exactly what way, who knows? He will not describe his symptoms. He's been put on some new medication which looks like some fairly potent antimicrobial, and he's going to be reassessed at the end of the week, and possibly admitted again to hospital. This is going to be fun.

I have been pleased to discover that there's now a BBC iPlayer which works properly with Linux, using Adobe AIR if I recall correctly (I installed it just before the ME thumped me at the weekend). Not sure how long that has been available, I haven't even looked at the iPlayer page for several months. It's about time, whenever it was implemented.

dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
Today I had to take my mother to the hospital for a retinal check-up that's been delayed several times because of my/my father's ill health. Check up was fine; my shoulders are aching from pushing the wheelchair, though. Back at my parents' I've been trying to figure out some more of the labyrinthine menus on their Sony DVD recorder (whatever else you might say about their kit — and at the very least you would have to say it ain't as good as they would like to think — Sony's user interfaces suck the goat). I have also, as you can see, taken the opportunity to pinch some bandwidth.

Medication changed again on Monday. Getting some side effects, I think. At least, I hope that awful washed-out feeling that hit me about 8pm last night was a side-effect. On the other hand, the meds seem to be working: I feel as though my BP is a little down from the way it has been lately. Slight change to asthma meds seems to have been beneficial.

Just spent the best part of an hour and a half banging my head off TheTrainline.com. Eventually got some travel plans sorted. The others will have to wait. But that has wasted time I had planned to use for other purposes. *sigh*

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