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charlie, computer cat

March 2019

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Mar. 31st, 2019

droplets

(no subject)

Pushed myself to start the book group book (Ra) today, despite my developing Stardew Valley addiction and am glad I did - it's really good! I think I'm quite likely to get it finished even though it's long - it's clipping along at a fair old rate and I'm really enjoying it. One of the things book group and getting back into reading new fiction generally has made me realise is that I have a strong bias towards protagonists who take action - it doesn't have to be successful, or even the right action. Protagonists who just sort of wander around and things happen to them tend to really annoy me. As such, I'm really liking Ra, because whatever her other faults, Laura definitely takes action! I really like her as a character, actually, although I suspect that by the end of the book I might like her twin more, and that's a big part of why.

Stardew Valley has definitely sucked me in again - I am now married to Leah and saving up to buy a big coop for my chickens/dinosaurs. I've also been out Stardew Valley-ing in real life again - the garden is getting started, I've planted up the wheelbarrow, radishes are sprouting, it's all very exciting. The next job will be to actually eat up all the winter greens from the trug so I can refresh the soil and re-plant it for this year!

Mar. 24th, 2019

sunflower

(no subject)

Actually went to a gig this week, for the first time in ages and really enjoyed it - it helped that it wasn't super busy so I could perch on a stool for part of it, but also it was just a really nice way to spend an evening. I have also been getting the garden going again - I refilled the wheelbarrow with soil and sowed some lettuce, some rocket and some land cress. Our winter greens have been filled with vim and vigour by the coming of the spring and we're close to self sufficient for leafy greens this year already. Next step, tomatoes! Also, I managed to roast a joint of pork for the first time, which went pretty well, if I do say so myself! All in all, I feel like, public affairs not withstanding, I'm full of the joys of spring. Maybe it's being back into Stardew Valley :)

Mar. 18th, 2019

candid-opinion, calvin

(no subject)

I happened to do my semi regular search for Stardew Valley on Android on our way into London on Saturday and finally met with success! I've been really wanting it as a phone game for ages and, of course, I immediately got sucked into it big time and did quite a bit of that and not enough chores on Sunday (sorry, fellow Habitca party members!). I now have a farmer named Carol with a cat named Goose and 2 chickens whose names I have forgotten. I am pretty impressed with the implementation on the phone, tbh. The only time I notice it being a little slower than the PC version is when it's saving overnight events, which, tbh, is fine and for such a cute game with pretty graphics, it's fairly good on the battery life too.

We were on our way to London to go to this year's BAHfest, this year with added igNobel in the afternoon. The igNobel stuff was missable tbh - the papers mentioned and the speakers were quite good but far too much of it was the chap who runs it talking, over explaining and thinking that he was a lot better as a comedian/public speaker than was actually the case, which at least lent the bit of Dunning-Kruger opera video he played for us a level of charming irony. BAHfest itself was really great this year, plus we turned out to know one of the presenters! The whole standard was very high actually and full of laughs. The winning hypothesis ended up being that dark matter is made up of vampires, which is why you can't see it using space telescopes.

Mar. 10th, 2019

charlie, computer cat

(no subject)

It's kind of bizarre listening to the news at the moment, or at least the news podcast. They're all full of people who are supposedly experts on the UK political scene basically shrugging their shoulders and saying "who knows!" about what comes next. Still, it was interesting to listen to the FT team saying that the conservatives really need to recognise that austerity cuts to benefits, policing, youth services, schools and child mental health were too much and that those services are either gone or at breaking point. It feels like a car crash I can't quite bring myself to look away from - I'm not listening to news bulletins or interview type programmes like the Today programme but I am now up to 4 regular pundit analysis type podcasts (Week in Westminster, Brexitcast, FT Politics and Guardian politics). It feels very strange to have it quite so visible to everyone that our political class are woefully inadequate, and I wish I could believe that there was some likelihood that after the crash something better might happen, but even Labour aren't behaving in a way which gives me any kind of confidence in their ability to get some of their manifesto done (which I really rather liked) without descending into infighting and personality cults.

Mar. 2nd, 2019

relaxing

(no subject)

My enthusiasm for the veg patch seems to continue unabated this year - I have lots of things I want to grow and the wheelbarrow will be making a reappearance to give me more growing space in the sunshine. It has gone together with my renewed enthusiasm for finding a good, farm-shop butcher (which I think I have done, by the way) and it felt very much in keeping when, while in there last week for the meat shop, I spotted that they had boxes of beets in. Rather than, as I would have previously done, just sort of dismissing them with the thought that I quite like beets but am not sure what to do with them, my reaction was "ooh, beets!" and to immediately try to decide what I could cook with them when I bought them home. Unsurprisingly, they will be back in this year's veg plot and we're having the farm shop ones tonight with chicken and goats cheese - should be lush!

Feb. 25th, 2019

webdesigner - chez geek

(no subject)

I keep starting entries here and then not finishing them, which is irritating. I'm currently stuck in a slight limbo today waiting for my boss to merge some of my last batch of changes back into the main codebase so I might as well take the opportunity for a bit of an update. Went out to Le Manoir for my birthday last week, which was just as amazing as I remember it - each dish perfectly designed to provide little flavour bursts - intense, but also delicate. One thing I have noticed is that although I have a very strong appreciation of flavour, I have a very poor vocabulary for describing it, which makes it difficult to convey an experience like the Manoir. I find it difficult to pin down what a flavour might remind me of or anything around "notes" or that sort of thing - it feels like an odd sort of blind spot. Anyway, suffice to say, dinner was amazing.

As well as dinner, I had a really lovely day with my folks on the day itself - we went out fabric shopping at John Lewis, thanks to the very generous voucher I got from work, so now I have lots of fabric for trying out new projects with, which is quite exciting. We also went to the garden centre and I'm already getting excited about veg growing this year. I really loved having fresh garden veg, especially the tomatoes and courgettes, what with last year's wonderful BBQ weather. Most of what I grew last year will be back this time, but I'm going to have a shot at growing all of my salad veg, so adding cucumber and sweet peppers to the mix. Having conceived of the wheelbarrow last year as a one off, temporary addition to the veg plot, it will be making a reappearance this year as there's just so many things I want to grow some of!

This weekend, we met up with Alex's folks for a theatre trip to see a ISIHAC special - rather than being for recording, there were lots of guests all dropping in and out for different games. It turns out the show was originally conceived as a fundraiser for Jeremy Hardy when his friends realised he needed some financial support while he was sick and unable to earn. When he died, the decided to still put the show on but create a charity foundation in Jeremy's name which would be for supporting charities and causes most likely to piss of the Daily Mail - as the producer of the show said, it's what he would have wanted. The show took a little while to get going, but the second half was absolutely hilarious, especially the twister variant of Mornington Crescent. They even played in a couple of classic clips of Jeremy singing on the show, which made me a little sniffly but all together a wonderful evening. We speculated on the way in as to why they'd decided to do it in Oxford rather than a London theatre and I wondered if some of the more elderly Clue regulars might be Oxford locals. Barry Cryer came on in a wheelchair, and was obviously pretty doddery (although still making some hilarious contributions) so I wonder if he might be based round here somewhere.

Feb. 11th, 2019

webdesigner - chez geek

(no subject)

Fell down a rabbit hole this weekend of pricing Magic cards. Basically, as part of tidying up the library, Alex and I decided that realistically, we're just not going to get back into playing with our old Magic cards, and my default reaction was to say that in that case, we should just chuck them out but Alex was sure that we ought to do *something* with them - perhaps sell them, perhaps pass them on to someone who still plays. We couldn't think of anyone in the latter category, so on Saturday morning, I started looking into selling options. I'd initially assumed that we'd just sell the whole thing in bulk to someone, perhaps through GamesKeeper, and was focused on finding out what a sensible "lucky dip" type price would be but all the threads I found seemed to suggest that you should sell the singles yourself. Even that might not have convinced me on it's own, but for two things - number one was that I recognized at least two high value cards as ones I was certain I had somewhere (we're talking over £100 per card here) and number two was that I found a site specifically dedicated to providing a UK market place for Magic singles, meaning I wouldn't have to worry about complicated postage problems.

I decided to give it a try so I took one of our boxes of old decks and went through about half of them, pulled all the rares and uncommons and then went through and listed them. I found one of the really valuable cards I'd remembered in the process and by the time I'd listed them all the collection was worth about £500, which made me decide to take the plunge and go the whole hog. Over the rest of the weekend, I sorted about 40% of the boxes and listed all the rares/uncommons I could easily identify and the collection is now worth about £2500, which is a significant chunk of a holiday if it actually sells. The big unknown at the moment is how much of it actually will sell. I did get one sale almost immediately but it was for a card that I realised afterwards I'd significantly underpriced so that's not necessarily an indication of how busy things will be but I guess I can only wait and see. If it goes well, there are lots of cards still in the boxes that might be worth something because they're from an era when the rares/uncommons weren't given gold and silver symbols to make them easier to spot but I'm probably not going to do that trawl through unless there's enough volume on the easy cards that it seems worthwhile. I'll probably finish the rest of the boxes over a few evenings in front of the TV though. On the off chance anyone on here is interested, you can see the collection here: https://lilianamarket.co.uk/tinyo

Something about the whole process of sorting and listing was rather hypnotic though and I ended up basically spending the whole weekend doing it rather than, say doing the gardening. Still, it is useful, at least in theory, so I guess that's not too bad.

Feb. 7th, 2019

relaxing

(no subject)

Read the book group book again this month - 2 in a row! I wasn't impressed by the book at all (The Rift by Nina Allen, very pretentious and pretty dull) but I did feel good about the fact that I finished it and made it to the discussion (where I was not very sparing). Overall, I have really noticed an uptick in my interest in reading new fiction (as opposed to re-reading, not necessarily things published recently. I started on the Age of Innocence the other evening, purely because I have it as an eBook and I've never read it. I've not got far yet, but I'll push on at least a little more before making a decision about whether it's for me. Also, having bought this month's book group book on Kindle, I was snagged by the first page and read 2 or 3 chapters last night, which is a good sign. I am even considering going to back to one or two things that I abandoned despite recommendations from others and seeing if I can get closer to the end now that I have more reading stamina again.

Feb. 3rd, 2019

laden coal creature

(no subject)

I've been writing quite a few entries in my head over this week about the complete and utter mess that is our current political situation, but somehow when I get in front of the posting window I feel like anything I could possibly say about the whole thing would be redundant. The whole thing is really rather depressing and yet, as it gets closer, I can't seem to look away.

I've been re-reading Night Watch and have gone from finding it one of my least favourite Watch books to thinking it's one of the best. I found the main time travel plot something of a distraction from the underlying theme of what it means to live a good/moral in a corrupted society, something which, sadly, feels an increasingly relevant question.

I seem to be in a slightly low mood this afternoon, so I should mention that life in the private sector is still very good and is meaning that I'm regularly surprising myself with my weekend energy levels. I managed to tidy up the library at last this weekend, something that's been on my to-do list for ages and I've just not been able to make any headway with it until now. I've finished the book club book for a second month in a row and I'm managing to get to the gym at least 3 or 4 times every week. It's all going surprisingly well on a micro level, really, it's just the wider world that seems to be sliding into disaster.

Jan. 24th, 2019

kitties - where'd it go?

(no subject)

Went to see John Finnemore in London on Tuesday, which, despite snow making the travel portion a little more complex than needed, was a really lovely evening. The comedy was great (listen to the new series of Souvenir Programme when it is released) and afterwards, we went to a lovely fish restaurant and had fancy fish and chips before heading back to Oxford. A little bit of a late night but worth it, I'd say. I need to get a little bit more confident in asserting when I want to come in/leave early or something like that I think - I guess that'll come once I've been here longer and am feel more comfortable that I'm definitely pulling my weight.

Over the weekend, I had my first go at butchery, which also went really well. I ended up with 4 pheasant breasts, 3 pigeon breasts and a strong feeling of accomplishment. I was surprised that it really was as easy as YouTube made it look and it felt like an intensely practical process, which I found quite satisfying. The moment where it goes from looking like a bird to looking like the sort of meat that I'm used to seeing delivered by the supermarket was quite strange the first time. Now one of the other shooters at work has given me 2 more birds so I'll be doing it again next weekend, which I'm sure will delight the cats - Harry thought the whole thing was amazingly exciting, as you can imagine :)

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