Okay, a first world problem

May. 23rd, 2017 06:30 pm
oursin: Sign saying 'Hedgehog Xing' and drawing of hedgehog (Hedgehog crossing)
[personal profile] oursin

But after a reasonably uneventful transatlantic journey, and O'Hare being no more irksome than before, and indeed, the passport kiosks do speed things up though there is still queuing once you've done so -

It's really, really annoying to find that the wifi in the hotel is on the fritz (actually, there was also something Not Right with Heathrow Terminal 3 wifi this morning, but at least I still had mobile data activated on my phone without the prospect of ruinous charges) which is apparently a wider system problem.

I am therefore posting from the one terminal in the lobby that is a) connected to the internet and b) actually works - I had to remove myself temporarily when a young person wanted to 'very quickly' print something out, which turned out not to be quick at all, tell me again about the digital native generation.

Yes, in the general scheme of things, a minor inconvenience. But after a day of taxis and airports and planes, annoying.

But, anyway, here I am.

commodorified: very worried stuffed crocodile clutching a pillow (not coping)
[personal profile] commodorified
Since I'm half-packed and we're leaving in less than 24 hours it's probably time to announce that I am coming to WisCon. (Now watch me wake up tomorrow with Lorayne's cold or something.)

I'm not signed up for any panels, I'm not volunteering this year. I'm not 100 percent sure that this isn't going to end in disaster again. Depending on how I react to the various allergens in Madison I may be very low-energy, I may be sneezy and stuffed-up, I may be spending a lot of time asleep, I may be slow and forgetful due to being low oxygen, I may recuse myself rapidly from controversy or trouble if I don't see an immediate way to be useful.

I may have to leave panels abruptly due to coughing fits. We may be leaving abruptly to get me back to Canada for treatment. (My out-of-province insurance isn't going to cover me for another serious asthma event in the same damn' city as the last one. That's kind of the definition of 'pre-existing'). We have a plan for this. It's as solid as we can make it.

Or we may have trouble at the border and not get there at all.

Or it all may be just fine. I really don't know. There's no way to tell.

But I'm on a new med (Singulair), and taking ALL the other ones, religiously, and so far my lungs seem to be willing to stay fairly functional. I'm bringing my bike. I'm hoping to stay an extra week and see friends. I'm cautiously optomistic.

A small request: if you see me, and we're friends, and you possibly can, grab me for coffee or food or a quick chat? This is almost certainly my last WisCon for some time, and if I do have a dangerous reaction, it's my last WisCon, period.

I know that I've lost touch with a lot of you due to missing the con and generally being offline and preoccupied trying to get my health under control. I'm sorry about it, and I'd really like to connect this weekend if we can, because you all are one of the communities of my heart, and to be honest I'm coming much more for y'all than for the "official" con.

If you or someone near you is wearing scent, I may have to back away rapidly. I'm sorry.

I'm not really accustomed to being a fragile little flower, you know? I'm still working out how to handle it.

Also, if there's a volunteer task I can do, something you need help with, that you can grab me for on the spot, please do. It's hard to contribute meaningfully when you can't make any promises, and I'll appreciate any chances to do so.

Tuesday Yardening

May. 23rd, 2017 04:23 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today is mild and cloudy. 

Round 1, we picked up sticks along the sidewalk by the house.

Washington hawthorn and red-twig dogwood are blooming.

Round 2, I cut weeds from the septic garden and trimmed grass from around the goddess garden.

portion it out

May. 24th, 2017 07:03 am
tree: underwear hanging on a line ([else] sleep does not come because)
[personal profile] tree
and ev
'ry
day
is
just
the
same

Trumping Math

May. 23rd, 2017 03:30 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm lucky if I can get the same answer three times running on a calculator.  But on college entrance exams, I scored 66% nationally.  That means 2/3 of people are worse at math than I am.  Somehow.

I'm often appalled at how many of those people seem to work in economics and government.  I mean really.  I could do better than this.  >_<
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

This is a book about swords. It is pretty much just about swords and swordsmanship, through history and in the modern day. I don't think I cam say much else about it, apart from possibly "there are some things that Hank Reinhardt say about some swords that I do not agree 100% with".

Costs of rail privatisation

May. 23rd, 2017 06:21 pm
damerell: (trains)
[personal profile] damerell
I've been meaning to write this for a while, but I just got blocked on Twitter by the editor of Rail magazine for pointing it out (!), so now seems like a good time. If there is some reason I am laughably wrong, now's the time to point it out.

Fairly often, when renationalisation of the railways is discussed, a neat little pie chart turns up showing some small percentage of income goes on TOC profits (here is an example: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/images/structure/css/fact-about-fare-2014.jpg - this one discusses fare income, but as far as I can make out from http://www.orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/24149/uk-rail-industry-financial-information-2015-16.pdf today's figure of 1.9% does reflect the distribution of all income. I don't know why Network Rail can't replace their pie chart with one based on more recent figures...)

As far as I know this is true, but what pops up next is the assertion that only that small percentage is to be saved by renationalising the railways. That seems to be totally untrue, as a bit of a peek at the other slices of the pie chart will reveal.

First of all, there's a much bigger chunk (11% in 2014, 7% now) marked "leasing trains". Do the rolling stock companies (ROSCOs), which were of course created out of British Rail, make a profit? You bet they do. Their surplus is about 20%, so there's another 1.4% right there.

Secondly, there's "interest payments and other costs". There was a bit here about how the TOCs are probably hiding some profits via (say) borrowing money from associated companies in countries with less corporation tax, but as far as I can make out all the interest payments are made by Network Rail. There is a pretence that Network Rail is not just a bit of the government, and that compels it to borrow money at a higher interest rate than the government would.

(However, the ROSCOs may well be posting an artificially low surplus, either through such tax avoidance or via the private equity practice of buying an asset with a loan secured on that asset. That would represent yet more profit that doesn't show up on the pie chart.)

Then we have staffing costs (25% of the pie chart). Fragmenting the railway has added untold layers of bureaucracy; the ROSCOs have staff to deal with leasing the trains to the TOCs and the TOCs have staff to deal with leasing the trains from the ROSCOs. The TOCs have staff to deal with Network Rail and Network Rail has staff to deal with the TOCs - a lot, because a train cannot simply be delayed now without a careful apportioning of the costs arising from that delay. A vast management tree is essentially duplicated across 20-odd TOCs (yes, it would be a bit bigger in a company the size of BR, but there wouldn't be 20 of it). It's hard to obtain any decent estimate of this (I would be intrigued to see figures on the relative number of officebound staff employed by BR and the current system, but I suspect they are well hidden) but it's hard to suppose it's too small a proportion of that 25% to show up.

So I think two things are true; the proportion of the railways' income that is lost to the structures of privatisation certainly is not 1.9% - it must be at least as high as 3.3% if we add the ROSCOs' profits in - and there is every reason to suppose it is considerably higher, even if it is hard to know exactly how much.

(no subject)

May. 23rd, 2017 11:48 am
jadelennox: Senora Sabasa Garcia, by Goya (Default)
[personal profile] jadelennox
This speech by New Orleans Mitch Landrieu, on the removal of Confederate statues from the city, is 100% worth all the buzz about it. It's worth the 20 minutes to listen, or there's a transcript of his remarks. (Remarks start at 2:52; you can't embed a timestamp in an embed.




It is a beautiful speech on loving the South's history without revering Lost Causism or ignoring darkness past and present.

A thing I had not previously realised

May. 23rd, 2017 04:13 pm
kaberett: Lin Beifong crying (lin-tear)
[personal profile] kaberett
You know the way tear are an excretionary mechanism for Nope Too Much Of That Emotion Let's Have Less Of It? No, they really are, maybe: emotional tears contain more misc hormonal wossnames. Have an art project!

Hamilton-adjacent shows

May. 23rd, 2017 02:11 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
There are two things coming up I want to see, and would like to encourage friends to come see with me. I'm not quite at "buy a ticket to something fun" today, but I'd like to get there.  Please comment / message / email me if you're interested in coming too, ideally by this weekend.

Show one:
The Southwark Playhouse is putting on Working, a musical with songs by "Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers & Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor". So obviously Lin-Manuel's contribution is among lots of other people's, but the musical blurb itself sounds interesting: based on a book of "interviews with the American workforce" and "a strikingly dynamic and contemporary look at what it is to work and what it is to be a musical".  Also I like the theatre's access information page which seems a better effort than most and would therefore like to Turn Up And Support This Kind Of Thing.

I'm looking at going to the 3pm show on Saturday 10th June.  This is both my least-busy Saturday during the run, and immediately after my exams.  Tickets £25 / £20.


Show two:
There is a touring professional production of Bring It On, the cheerleader musical, which I saw a local amateur production of recently. I am considering either:
  • 2:30pm show on Saturday 23rd September, at the Milton Keynes Theatre
  • 2:30pm show on Saturday 14th October, at the New Wimbledon Theatre
Both of them are do-able as a day trip from Cambridge by public transport.  I lean slightly toward the Wimbledon one because that's by train not coach, but I could be persuadable to either.  (Both is probably overambitious).  Tickets are between £43 and £57.50, plus a transaction fee (because of course there is).


Also, I'm looking longingly at an amateur production of In The Heights in Birmingham 14-15 July, but as I'm running a child's birthday party on 16th July I don't think it's going to happen.

(yes, I am mildly obsessive about Seeing All The Things related to Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I also kind of like the idea of aspiring to a lifestyle of travelling the country seeing musicals ...)

Jew-ish

May. 23rd, 2017 01:45 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
This weekend I went to another Jewish-Muslim interfaith event. I was not exactly the main target audience, which was mainly people whose actual job is religious education. I did get to meet some Somali Bravanese Muslims, an ethnic minority from Somalia via Kenya whom I hadn't encountered before.

Anyway we had some very interesting discussions, including around the use of language. Some of the Muslim participants said they didn't like what I had thought of as an otherwise neutral older spelling, Moslem. They said they associate that spelling and pronunciation with people like Donald Trump, and I can see that people who haven't bothered to update their language might well be assumed to be hostile. I don't particularly need to change my own language choices since I have been using the modern spelling anyway, but it's useful to note.

Then of course the conversation turned to the Jewish side, and the somewhat fraught issue of what we should be called. is 'Jew' a slur? )
eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
[personal profile] eleanorjane posting in [community profile] agonyaunt
(From here.)

DEAR CAROLYN: My 11-year-old daughter is going through a phase right now of extreme, black-and-white thinking. Right is right and wrong is wrong. This is challenging sometimes.

My mother-in-law loves to host but it’s pretty obvious she buys entire meals pre-packaged from a grocery store chain and passes them off as hers. The adults just pretend we don’t know.

Earlier this week my sister-in-law brought this up in a joking way and she, my husband, and I had a laugh about it. Well, my daughter heard this and confronted us about Grandma’s cooking. We tried to explain to her that it’s a kindness not to say, “You didn’t take the garbage out so I saw the takeout containers.” My daughter replied with, “So when you told Grandma her potatoes tasted good, it was a lie?”

She is right, really. We all sort of lie, and so does Grandma.

My daughter told us in no uncertain terms that she will not pretend that Grandma cooked the meal. She is also rather frosty toward us for our willing participation in this, her word, charade, and asked, “What else has Grandma been lying about?”

My husband thinks we should just let this play out, and that our daughter will not be able to look her grandmother in the eye and actually say this stuff. I am almost positive our daughter will say this stuff, and maybe we should warn his mother. Any advice?

We All Sort of Lie

DEAR WE ALL SORT OF LIE: Off the record, please don’t correct your future journalist/scientist/prosecutor too successfully.

On the record, the most important thing here is your daughter’s socialization. You can accomplish that whether you warn Grandma or not — because the consequences of not warning her just aren’t that dire, and because your mission is unchanged regardless. Your daughter has forced you to defend beliefs you probably haven’t examined for a long time, if ever, as kids do so mind-blowingly well.

So find a way to justify your approach to honesty that withstands scrutiny … or admit your daughter is right. “It’s a kindness” is fine as far as it goes, but where specifically are the lines between cruelty and kindness, and kindness and deceit?

Whether you tip off Grandma or let her startled face be part of your daughter’s education, the next dinner will be instructive for your daughter.

So, yeah, I’m giving you nothing. Tell us how it went!

Monday Yardening

May. 22nd, 2017 07:51 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today has been cool and breezy.

Round 1, we picked up sticks in the ritual meadow.

Round 2, I watered potted plants on the porch.

Round 3, I planted moonflowers in the barrel garden and the support wire for the telephone pole.  I also put more morning glory seeds around the wire.  Then I trimmed grass around the wagonwheel garden.

This afternoon we went out to Harbor Freight and bought a convertible handtruck (it can go on two wheels or four), a toolkit with a very nice assortment of items, and a moving blanket (which doubles as a picnic blanket).  :D 
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta posting in [community profile] agonyaunt
Dear Carolyn,

I am at my wits' end with family drama. I will spare you the very long and ugly details and start with the most recent heartache.

My husband's daughter from a previous marriage invited our son and his wife and 2-year-old to spend the weekend with them since they were going to be in town for a wedding. His wife accepted. My husband has been estranged from this daughter for over two years. She lives down the street from my husband and me.

When my son and his family arrived, they went to lunch with my husband and stayed through the evening with us. It was a lovely time. Our little granddaughter even went into "her room" and told her dad she wanted to sleep in her bed. It was cruel to see her cry when she had to leave and go to my stepdaughter's house.

My husband is furious. His feelings are crushed and he is angry they would subject her to such nonsense. My husband feels they have been disloyal to him by staying with his estranged daughter.

I have expressed to my son how I felt about his staying with his half-sister. Not because of her so much as how wrong it feels to me to not stay with us. After we are dead and gone, he will have time to stay with his half-sister.

My first thought was to leave town before they got here so I could avoid the whole ordeal. Now, my husband and I have hurt feelings, plenty of tears to go around, and lost sleep over this.

Heartbreak seems to follow wherever my stepdaughter is concerned. I don't want to alienate my daughter-in-law because she will cut my granddaughter out of my life. How can I manage to keep the peace and not "betray" my husband in the process?

-- C.

Your argument, recapped: It's your stepdaughter's fault that she wants to spend time with her brother. Except the part that's your daughter-in-law's fault for saying yes.

Maybe you won't like it in those words, but that's what you're saying -- and it's impressive that you're able to present this without attributing any drama to the man who was "crushed" and "angry" and suffering "tears ... and lost sleep" at the "ordeal" of witnessing the "cruel" and "disloyal" "nonsense" of a child "subject[ed] to" ...

[theatrical pause]

A planned visit to her aunt's house.

After spending an entire day with you two.

Drama, thy name is Grandpa.

I can understand your powerful incentive not to see this; even thinking it opens you to accusations of betrayal from your wounded husband, no doubt. And more tears and sleepless nights and garment-rending and whatever other tactics he uses to keep you emotionally at his service.

But the longer you remain faithful spokesbot for your husband -- or for Stockholm Syndrome -- and declare with a straight face that your son can't sleep at his sister's house until you're dead! (you really said that!), the more soul-rebuilding you'll need when you see the view I've got from here: that you've been devoured by your husband's narcissistic fantasy world.

Even if I'm way off, your family dynamic is still way off. Please find a well-recommended family therapist and go. Just you. Unspool those "very long and ugly details."

Read "To Know After Absence"

May. 22nd, 2017 04:45 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The poem "To Know After Absence" is now open for microfunding, and locked at the sale price.  Boss White introduces Shiv to the apartment above Blues Moon.
katstevens: (dogswim)
[personal profile] katstevens posting in [community profile] rglondon
Archie's, Deptford, London SE8
Evening RGLers!

This week's featured article is for Archie's cafe in Deptford, presumably named because it's located in a railway arch and specialises in cheese (cheese sandwiches, macaroni cheese, cheesecake etc) which makes me wonder what their marketing team's crossed-out suggestions were. "Deptford Brie-dge"? "Caerphilly Does It"? "Better The Breville You Know"? All fine names, feel free to use any of them for your own cheese-based establishment.

New to RGL this week is Jashan, a veggie Indian restaurant near Wembley Central. From the sounds of it our reviewer's experience wasn't quite as they'd hoped for - usually Wembley-based disappointments are caused by sport rather than chilli mushrooms, so perhaps Jashan was just having an off day?

big gay ebooks

May. 22nd, 2017 01:10 pm
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun posting in [community profile] ebooks
The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is back! May 22-29, around 80 authors are giving away free books, short stories, chapters, and box sets.

It's run by Instafreebie, which means you give them an email address, they sign you up for a newsletter, and you get a DRM-free epub, mobi, or (sometimes) pdf sent to you. It's pretty painless except for all the newsletters you'll then belong to.

Random observations

May. 22nd, 2017 08:56 pm
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
• I've ordered, from Japan, a tenugui towel with an udon noodle design. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and to be fair the shipping was only £1.50. All the designs are amazing, but I was particularly struck by this. (Tell me that Yuuri Katsuki doesn't take one to the rink with him.)

• I also seem to be buying excessive quantities of culottes. (Well, two pairs, but you know.) For once I'm on trend. I know I have to buy now, before they disappear for another twenty years. I hate the fashion cycle.

Victor isn't the only one who has a phone case of himself

• This weekend I'm going to Belgium, and it's now clear that it's going to be boiling hot, like 28C/83F on Sunday. Currently reconsidering my packing list, plans, life choices, etc. (Don't laugh, people from elsewhere.) I still plan on climbing the Wall of Geraardsbergen but I'll have to do it early in the morning. And, you know, on foot. Needless to say.

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