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I have dinner with [personal profile] kerrypolka once every couple of months, and recently we have been on a fantastic roll of amazing places, of which Bao was the first that I can remember clearly enough to review. They don’t take bookings, which is a practice I don’t entirely approve of, but the fact that we had to queue for 45 minutes after arriving at 18:00, whilst slightly irksome, did seem like a good sign.

We were reading the menu as we waited, and let me tell you it looked like it was going to be a challenge to pick, but I remembered reading a review that said that one of everything was a fairly sensible amount of food for three people, and we were both quite hungry, so we figured what the hell. That was a good plan. There are various starters, bao (basically small sandwiches in buns half way between the fluffy white things you get in chinese style dim sum and sweet brioche), and a handful of other mains and sides, but everything just turned up when it was ready. For me the standout starter was the sweetcorn with beef butter, which was so rich and warming, with just the right amount of spice. Kerry was particularly keen on the crispy prawn heads, although I was less blown away by them. Of the sides, the grilled lettuce with confit garlic was the thing that kept us going “but how, how did they get lettuce that texture” all the way to the tube station. Every single one of the bao was incredible - the buns so soft, the meat so tender and flavourful, and the accompaniments so well balanced and innovative.

It turns out that when the food is that good, not only can two people polish off one of everything, but they can go back and order seconds, and then when told that there’s no pudding menu, thirds. The bill came to around £100 between the two of us, including drinks and tip. You could certainly eat there a lot more cheaply if you could resist filling yourself almost past the point of bursting with all the tasty tasty buns, but you’d need a stronger will than mine.
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[livejournal.com profile] venta asked about a favourite piece of clothing. I used to have lots of fabulous flamboyant clothing, and then went through a phase of feeling uncomfortable about transgressing gender boundaries and dressing rather conservatively, and gave away a lot of my wardrobe. That turned out to be just a phase, and since then I've been gradually finding my own style again.

I still haven't quite settled on exactly what sort of things suit me now, especially with my body having changed shape quite a lot over the last year or so, but as a general principle I like clothes that go swoosh, I like silks and velvets, and I like jewel colours. In my current wardrobe my favourite thing is a garment that's somewhere between a jacket and a cardigan, it has a ruffley front, kind of like this, but longer, just brushing the tops of my thighs, and with wider sleeves, in a deep rich purple velvet. Wearing it never fails to make me feel gorgeous.

Legend

Dec. 15th, 2016 03:14 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
It's all been a bit hectic, so updating dailyish seems to have fallen slightly by the wayside. On the other hand, I'm about to write my last prompt, so now would be a good time for new ones.

[livejournal.com profile] yiskah prompted with, "I would like you to write about a book (or books) that means a great deal to you, or has changed your life in some way."

I feel oddly embarrassed by this, but probably the book that means the most to me is Legend, by David Gemmell. I read it on the recommendation of Adam, my first serious boyfriend, when I was sixteen and stuck in a psychiatric ward. Since then I must have re-read it dozens, maybe hundreds, of times. Whenever I'm feeling under the weather or miserable, and want something comforting and easy t read, it's the first thing that jumps into my hand, and I read it in the bath until the water goes cold and I turn into a prune.

And in many ways it's "just" schlocky heroic fantasy, unsubtle and unclever. But it gives me a world to escape into, where the heroes are just flawed enough not to be annoying. It wraps me up like a warm blanket, and gives me somewhere safe to hide.

And there's a bit, quite near the end, which comes back to me again and again, whenever my faith is shaking. Serbitar, a deeply religious warrior monk, is dying:

"He took three deep shuddering breaths, looked inside himself and saw that he was dying. Reaching out with his mind, he sought Vintar and the others.
Silence.
A terrible silence.
It was all for nothing then, he thought, as the Nadir tensed for the kill. He chuckled wryly.
There was no Source.
No centre to the universe.
In the last seconds left to him he wondered if his life had been a waste.
He knew it had not. For even if there was no Source, there ought to have been. For the Source was beautiful."
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Preamble
I’ve been doing quite a lot of thinking about freedom of speech lately, and would like to tease apart some thoughts. Before I start, I would like to comment that I am not particularly interested in a conversation about what the law is currently, and how that should be applied, but about what both the law and social norms ought to be in an ideal world. As such “your argument is wrong because that’s not what the Public Order Act 1986/the First Amendment to the US Constitution/Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says” is missing the point.

Freedom of speech is complicated, and it would be better if people at all points on the political spectrum acknowledged this. This complexity means that it’s very easy to look at the behaviour of your political opponents and see hypocrisy - that they are espousing support of the principle of freedom of speech, and are very quick to complain when they see theirs being restricted, but all too happy to overlook it when it comes to speech they disagree with. It is much harder to look at your political allies and see the same thing - suddenly the arguments for why the restrictions being placed on you are clearly insupportable, whereas the ones you seek to place on others are perfectly reasonable start to make a lot more sense. The lesson here is not that your opponents are hypocrites, it’s that people are hypocrites.

I think the complication manifests in a variety of different ways, and part of the reason it’s easy to convince yourself that this restriction is draconian and this other is completely reasonable is that any given act of speech falls in a different place on multiple dimensions, so it becomes tempting to weight the area which points towards your viewpoint more heavily, without realising that that’s what you’re doing. I enumerate five of them below, but there may be others which I’ve overlooked.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] kht asked "What do you like to cook for yourself when you're low on time and energy?".

I'm afraid the answers to this are fairly boring. I don't get nearly as much pleasure out of cooking if it's just for me, so a lot of the time when I'm on my own in the Northampton flat I practically live on fresh filled pasta with a bit of grated parmasan and olive oil, and then fill up on fruit to make sure I'm getting enough vitamins. My other staple is scrambled eggs, which I sometimes add rice wine and soy sauce to, and eat with a croissant, and sometimes do with just salt on pepper, served with marmite covered toast.

When I feel like making a tiny bit more effort I'll make egg-fried rice, which I can throw vegetables into, or I'll make a stew (onions, garlic, various root vegetables, lentils, pearl barley (or buckwheat if I want it to be gluten free), cabbage or other green leafy veg, stock, red wine, dried herbs, spoonful of marmite), which takes about 15 minutes of work, and then just sits and cooks, and makes great leftovers.
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The life-changing magic of tidying up - Marie Kondo
I thought the 'life-changing' nature was overstated, and the scale of the difference it made to the writer is largely a function of the kind of person she is, rather than a generalisable rule. It was also steeped in the privilege of wealth, and I think would be incredibly frustrating to read for someone who doesn't have the disposable income to discard things easily.

That said, I thought the core idea, in which one declutters not by following a set of rules for things to get rid of (e.g. anything I've not used for more than a year goes), but instead having the simple positive rule for what to keep of "does this thing inspire joy", is certainly an interesting perspective. I do plan on having a fairly major declutter after we've moved house, and I suspect it will be somewhat informed by that idea.

The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician & The Master Magician by Charlie Holmberg
I can't remember why I picked these up. It's a trilogy set in a magical version of 19th century London, about a young magician coming into her power. It was diverting enough that I bothered to read the 2nd and 3rd books, but to be honest just barely, and only because I wanted something very low effort to read whilst I was feeling under the weather. It was a fairly standard coming-of-age quest narrative, with some rebellion against the magical authorities of the day. A slightly squicky romantic subplot between the protagonist and her mentor was the only thing that made it more interesting, and not entirely in a good way.
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Part one here. (This is unprompted, and I only have a couple of questions in the pipeline, so more very welcome.)

After the keynote, the next couple of sessions I went to were mini-workshops given by the Center for Applied Rationality, each introducing a practical technique to improve your thinking. These were brilliant, and made me really want to go on their full course at some point. The first technique, dubbed Double Crux, was aimed at making discussions with someone you disagree with focus more on finding the truth together than on convincing your interlocutor. This is something I try to do anyway, but having a specific set of practical steps to follow should make me more likely to actually do it. The second workshop introduced an iterative technique to make plans more likely to succeed by imagining that you'd failed and addressing the likely failure modes in advance.

After a break for lunch the next session was a pair of talks, the first of which had the biggest impact on me of anything else at the conference. It was called "Look, Leap or retreat", and the core argument was that when trying to choose between a high probability/low impact or a low probability/high impact proposition, in which your confidence in your assessments of the probabilities is itself low, doing more research is likely to be higher value than choosing either immediately. Based on this I've been doing a lot more research and thinking about my giving, and will be making changes shortly, although I am still wavering between various organisations.

The second afternoon session was called "Lessons from Starting Organisations", which pretty much did what it said on the tin, and there were a few useful ideas, but a lot of it was quite generic. One point that I did find interesting was the comment along the lines of "Don't assume that because you're smart and you've been successful at some things you'll automatically be an expert at everything straight off the bat. In particular, management in hard." I found this relevant because I spent a lot of the weekend being conscious of how terrifyingly young everyone was - it was probably the first time in my life where I felt I stood out as being well above the average age - and I think that this is something that could end up biting the EA community in the arse. There're an awful lot of bright young things, and rather less experience in the wider world.

Dinner was at a nearby Thai restaurant, and involved fun conversations about rationality and learning techniques. After dinner there was one more session, "A Conversation about Motivation", lead by four speakers who are closely involved in the EA world. This was a real eye-opener, and clearly not just for me. There was a lot of very frank discussion of feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome, and serious mental health issues, and the way people had dealt with them. Once the conversation opened up to the room it seemed like everyone had a story to tell, and although I left at the end of the session as scheduled, many people stayed behind, and several people said then or later that it had been the most important part of the weekend for them.

Afterwards there were semi-structured pub conversations, but I was feeling quite peopled out by then so went back to my B&B to read and then sleep.

And then in a moment of incompetence I set my alarm for the appropriate time on Monday morning instead of Sunday, and managed to sleep through the talk I was most interested in the next day. I felt like something of a fool then, but was still feeling a)really quite overpeopled, b)not overwhelmingly enthused by the remaining sessions I had planned to go to, and c)as though I'd already got more than enough value from the conference so far to have made it worth going. So I went home and closed the door and played my piano and read and felt entirely good about that decision.
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[personal profile] bunnypip asked about "cooking for other people and what you get out of it (because it's something I used to love and fell out of love with) are there any downsides for you that make it less fun? what are the best bits?"

Basically, I just really like food. Eating really delicious things is one of my favourite things to do, and especially one of my favourite things to share doing. So cooking for other people is just an extension of that really; it means I get to share eating (hopefully!) delicious things whilst at the same time knowing that I made it happen.

One of the really nice upsides to living in Northampton for a while is having new people to feed; all the dishes that I've cooked dozens of times for [livejournal.com profile] obandsoller and [livejournal.com profile] robert_jones get to be appreciated anew by [personal profile] hjdoom and [livejournal.com profile] vyvyan, and I find myself experiencing them with a fresh palate as well.

The best bit is when you serve dinner to a noisy room full of fabulous people, and then for the next five or ten minutes silence descends, because everyone is too focused on the food to continue their conversations, no matter how engaging, and you know that you've absolutely nailed it. I don't manage this every time, but it never gets old.

There aren't many downsides. I used to get very stressed about things coming out less than perfectly, but by now I'm confident enough that I'll be able salvage something edible from nearly any mistake, and that the people I cook for will be forgiving even if it does go horribly wrong and I have to resort to ordering takeaway. And unsurprisingly, being more relaxed means that things go wrong much less often anyway.
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My kid sister sets off today on this expedition to Antarctica.

I am so proud I could burst.
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
(Responding to a prompt from [personal profile] sfred)

I find myself extremely polaraised by anticipation. When I really want something and am not sure whether I'm going to get it or not I am /terrible/ at waiting to find out. I get anxious and miserable and irrational and can't think about anything else and catastrophise and act in ways that make me less likely to get it. It's no fun at all.

When I'm waiting for something that I know is coming it can go one of two ways. When it's something that not having is making me unhappy I mostly try not to think about it and get on with things, which works okay until it gets close, and then suddenly a switch flicks and the last few days or weeks become unbearable.

When it's something that I'm fine without, but having will be shiny and glorious and extra, then the anticipation becomes a joy in and of itself. I daydream and I plan and I sing to myself inside my head, and I get almost as much pleasure out of this process as I do out of the thing in itself.
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
(This wasn't prompted, and I've only got one in the pipeline, so more prompts/questions very much appreciated.)

Sandman - Neil Gaiman
I definitely thought I’d read all of this before, but one of the volumes, “A Game of You” was the book for the Northampton queer book club a couple of months ago, so I decided to re-read the whole series, and realised that actually I’d only gotten part way through it previously. I didn’t go to the book club in the end, but I’m quite glad it prompted me to pick it up again. As I was reading it felt less coherent than I remember it being, but once I actually got to the end a lot of things seemed to fit into place, and I was quite tempted to go straight back to the beginning and reread it to see how different it felt knowing how it all fitted together. I think I found various of the supporting cast rather more interesting than the Endless themselves, but that’s mostly praise of the former than criticism of the latter. There’s an impressive array of emotional notes, and I both laughed aloud and wept quietly as I read. I think the only thing I didn’t like was Desire’s arc, but I’m not sure how it could be changed to something that I was happier with whilst leaving the rest of the stories intact. There were other books and also pianos grabbing my attention, so I didn’t actually re-read it immediately, but I am looking forward to stepping back into it soon.

On Liberty - John Stuart Mill
I started reading this a few times and kept getting distracted and having to restart so I could have the whole thing in my head at once. I was less impressed by it than I expected to be - the core idea (“That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant . . . Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”) is excellent and important, but I felt that his treatment of the difficult cases of where the boundaries of power lie, and what constitutes harm to others (particularly in the case of harm by inaction) was quite weak, and that since it’s generally around those edge cases that people disagree, the value of the book is a bit limited nowadays. Having said that, I imagine that at the time of writing, there was a lot more disagreement with the core idea, and it’s good to see the history of the ideas which we take as read now. Another criticism is that it suffers from wearing the benevolent racism of its time quite unashamedly, so I’d recommend against reading it if that’s something you’d find upsetting.
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[personal profile] nou promted me to write a post about eggs. (More prompts and questions gratefully recieved!) I'm sure there are much cleverer interpretative spins one could put on that prompt, but I'm just going to use it as an excuse to tell you about my favourite cookbook, and one of the best recipes from that book.

[livejournal.com profile] sashagoblin gave me a copy of Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast for Christmas a few years ago, and since then I think I've given half a dozen copies of it to other people. It's already covered in the splashes and stains that you know mean a recipe book is well loved. It's got a really wide variety of types of food, all with really distinctive flavours and textures and styles. I've not made a single thing from it that wasn't delicious.

One of the first recipes I cooked from it, and probably the one I revisit the most often, is the Goan Egg Balchao. I adjust the recipe slightly, using half as many tomatoes again as suggested, whilst keeping other ingredients constant, but follow the method to the letter. I've sometimes been a bit sceptical about eggs in curries, but it works really well here. The eggs are boiled until the yolks are just starting to set, but still have some gooey softness to them, and the sauce is rich and intense, full of sharp and sweet and umami and just enough heat to bite without overwhelming. It's more time-consuming to make than some very simple curries, as the sauce has to be reduced and darkened and then diluted and reduced again in order to really bring out the flavours, but if everything comes together well you can get it to the plate in a little under an hour, and is very much worth the wait.
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(This wasn't prompted, but I could really do with some more prompts/questions if I'm going to be successful in writing more here during Advent! Help me out, or I'll think you don't want to hear from me!)

Last weekend I went to EAGxOxford, the largest Effective Altruism conference in Europe to date. I had a really interesting time, learned a lot, changed my mind about things, and came away with a bunch of concrete things on my to-do list, many of which I’ve already actually done or started doing.

Friday afternoon/evening
I got to Oxford a bit too late to get to the only pre-conference session I was interested in, but early enough to have time to kill, so met up with a couple of old acquaintances for coffee, which was really nice, and I think helped shift me into feeling sociable in a less stressful way than jumping straight into networking with strangers. Speaking of which, the first hour or so of the conference was a drinks reception; that definitely was stressful, but I managed to chat to a few people and have enjoyable conversations, although nothing that really stuck in my mind. Afterwards there was an opening talk, with Toby Ord and Will MacAskill giving a fairly high-level introduction to the ideas and the history of the EA movement. Most of this was fairly familiar to me, but Toby gave a really interesting tour through historical ideas that have contributed to or inspired the development of the movement. After this session people decamped to pubs around Oxford, but I had already reached my limit of unstructured-socialising-with-strangers energy, so I called it a night and went to my B&B.

Saturday morning
The morning could have started better, as the shower in my room wouldn’t run hot, but at least I was very much awake by the time I set off! Whilst looking for somewhere to attend Mass on the Sunday I had realised that I was just down the road from St Stephen’s House, and they have a daily house mass, so I went there on my way in. It was a lovely simple service, and brought back fond memories of worshipping and Pusey House, which has a very similar setting.

The first session of the day was the keynote lecture by Owen Cotton-Barratt. There was a moment of “Oh God, everyone’s so young! I’m so old!” but anyway… The lecture was entitled “Prospecting for Gold - Techniques for finding high-value opportunities”. Much like the introduction the previous evening, quite a lot of the material was stuff that I was already familiar with, but it was presented in an engaging way that I think might be helpful for me to think about when I’m trying to share my enthusiasm for EA more widely. There were a couple of ideas that were either new to me, or an important reminder of something I’ve not paid enough attention to. The main example of the latter being the need to think about marginal as well as absolute priority when selecting causes, and the former being the application of the principle of comparative advantage across people living in different times, rather than different places, or with different personal talents.
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Thanks to [personal profile] emperor for this prompt. (More prompts and questions gratefully received here)

I think there are at least three distinct reasons people get grumpy about secular Christmas during Advent, and teasing them apart is the first step in answering the question. Firstly there’s the sense that there is a right and a wrong way to do Christmas, and people celebrating it now are doing it Wrong™, which is even more irritating in real life than on the internet. Secondly there’s the practical annoyance of being invited to lots of parties with delicious foods and drinks that you’ve given up as part of your Advent fast, and finally there’s the emotional disconnect of being surrounded by people celebrating and feasting at a time when you’re observing a penitential season.

The first is probably the easiest to address, and is pretty much covered by the specific phrase of “secular Christmas”. I think that as long as you acknowledge that secular Christmas is mostly a separate thing, which just happens to share the same name due to historical accident, it becomes relatively easy to put this irritation to bed.

The practical annoyance can be addressed in one of two ways - either by adopting Advent disciplines which don’t tend to have much impact on parties, or by viewing the challenge of forgoing elements of the celebrations as an important part of the fast. I think that avoiding this annoyance is not a good reason to choose other disciplines, and that some prayerful self-examination into ones motivation is a good idea, but I personally find that giving up Facebook is a far more powerful way of turning myself towards God than fasting from particular foods and drinks would be in any case (and also doesn’t have the same risks of poking the sleeping monster.)

The emotional disconnect is probably the least tractable, and I’m not sure that I have any good answers apart from prayer, but I’d be interested to hear suggestions from anyone else who’s wrestled with this.
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As is at least somewhat traditional around these parts, I'm going to be trying to write more dreamjournal over Advent, and although I've got a couple of posts planned already, questions and writing prompts would be very welcome.
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Last night I went for dinner with [personal profile] hjdoom and [livejournal.com profile] vyvyan to Les Olives. I'd suggested it on the basis that it claimed to cater well to vegetarians and coeliacs, and it certainly lived up to that promise.

One thing I was really impressed by was the sheer range of veggie options. They had the usual suspects like asparagus, artichoke hearts, and creamy mushrooms, but also lots of more unusual options like roast beetroot with fig, fennel hearts, black carrots and broccoli in harissa, and roast sweet potato. Sometimes a really short menu can be a good sign, because you can guess that they'll do the few things very well. Fortunately the converse was not true of Les Olives, and every single dish we had was delicious and distinctive. I think for me the fennel was the star of the show - the honey glaze added just the right amount of sweetness to the aromatics of the vegetable, and the dish felt like a warm hug.

I'll definitely be back, and at £80 for three with drinks and tip, it felt like exceptionally good value as well.
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I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte gave me 2005 for the then and now meme that's been doing the rounds.

Age then: 24
Now: 35
Relationship status then: Messy but fun! I'm glad I already had this journal by then, otherwise I'm not sure I'd have been able to remember all the timings! At the start of the year [livejournal.com profile] deliberateblank and I had recently split up, but were still living together, in an amicable but somewhat stressful (probably more so for him than me) way. I was a few months into a relationship with the boy who brought me back to church, which was both a source of great joy and quite difficult, as we struggled to navigate me being resolutely poly and him not being very keen on the idea. We never did quite figure that out, but I think we gave each other a lot of joy as partners for a few years, and as friends since. My marriage to [livejournal.com profile] giolla had been going through a rough patch for most of the previous year, and in January he called things off. In retrospect it was the right decision, as we communicated very poorly and despite being convinced at the time that we were soulmates, I don't think we every really understood the other at all, and our ideals and priorities have diverged further and further as time has passed. At the time though I was devastated, and it was a good many years before I really got over him.

After about six years of agonisingly unhealthy on-again off-again set the whole damn world on fire involvement with [personal profile] hjdoom we were in our weird actually being together in a sane non-adulterous way phase, which I think was just too confusing and ended up fizzling out after a few months. Now he's one of my dearest friends, and the world remains not burned to a crisp, which is probably for the best. There were a few FWB and casual flings as well, including I think towards the end of that year first falling into bed with [livejournal.com profile] oedipamaas49?

Relationship status now: Stable and delightful! I'm engaged to [personal profile] obandsoller, whom I've been with for a little over seven years. I'm ridiculously lucky - he makes me feel excited and surprised and safe and grounded. He understands me and supports me, loves me deeply flawed though I am, and being with him makes me a better person. We're not quite sure when the wedding will be, as we want to get the house buying out of the way before we start wedding planning, and the house buying is currently on hold whilst we wait for the dust to settle on the housing market in the wake of the EU referendum result. Also if I'm honest, there's a part of me still hoping that if we wait long enough the CoE will get its act together and we'll be able to have a sacramental marriage. I've been delightfully entangled in casual long-distance arrangements with Nathan, [livejournal.com profile] leonato, and [livejournal.com profile] oedipamaas49 for three, five, and eleven years respectively, and they are all quite quite lovely. I feel as though I have room on my dance card for another local relationship with someone I see more than a handful of times a year, and I'd quite like it if said someone were a lady, but I'm not actively looking.

Occupation then: At the beginning of the year I was still temping, having not been terribly sure what I wanted to do with my life after cocking up my degree, but in April I started my first permanent job as a PA to the CTO of a telecoms company. Said CTO was a really good boss, and very quickly twigged that I had more capability than the average PA, and started giving me interesting projects to do, with lots of opportunities to learn and grow.

Occupation now: Data Analyst, specialising in the HE sector, self-employed, and currently working on a contract with the University of Northampton. I'm applying for permanent jobs a rung or two up the ladder from where I am now, as it's difficult to make that jump whilst remaining a contractor, although there's something faintly depressing about how much of a pay cut I'm likely to have to take in exchange for more responsibility...

Then I lived in: Cambridge, for the first half of the year in Chesterton with [livejournal.com profile] deliberateblank and then for the second half of the year in the flat variously known as The Suite, Sapphic or Satyr, Sir Strongtrouser's Lesbian Emporium, the Young Ladies' Seminary for the Taking In of Eccentric Waifs and Strays with [personal profile] helenic and [livejournal.com profile] strongtrousers. The landlord was kind of obnoxious, but the household was marvellous, and the parties were superb beyond measure.

Now I live in: London, near Finsbury Park, with [livejournal.com profile] obandsoller and [livejournal.com profile] robert_jones. Our parties aren't quite so dramatic, but our drinks collection is much better.

Was I happy then? The heartbreak over the end of my marriage was very distressing, but in every other way my life was the best it had ever been and getting better. By then I had pretty much entirely recovered from the mental health problems of my teens and early twenties, and the core of the person I am today was pretty much formed.

Am I happy now? Yes, almost infeasibly so.

Kids then and now: No, and unlikely in the future.

Let me know if you'd like a year.
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The Cartoon Guide to Economics, Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] philmophlegm)
I really enjoyed this. At first I thought it was a bit too simplistic and that I wasn’t going to learn anything from it, but although most of the microeconomics volume was revision of stuff that I’d done before, it was good for getting back up to speed quickly, and I actually learned quite a lot of new stuff from the macroeconomics volume.

L’Etranger, Albert Camus (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] vyvyan)
I was trying to do all of my fiction reading in French for a while, so this was an obvious choice. I’d read it in translation many years ago, but could only remember the basic outline of the plot. I enjoyed the first half, but found the second half quite challenging and slow, right up until the end, when it hits really hard and everything slots into place.

Watchmen, Alan Moore
I recently treated myself to a Chromebook, mostly so I’d have something to read comics on without filling our flat with any more dead trees. This was a good way to start, but I’d like to come back to it sometime after I’ve read more actual superhero comics, so I have a better sense of what it's a critique of.

Transmetropolitan Volumes 1-3, Warren Ellis (recommended by [personal profile] hjdoom)
Gosh, Spider Jerusalem is compelling, isn't he. My first impression of the series is horrified fascination at how prescient it seems. I'm enjoying it a great deal.

Common Sense, Thomas Payne
I read this entirely because it’s referenced in a song in Hamilton. I didn’t really feel as though I got a lot out of it, but I guess at its time the ideas were more challenging. I might try The Rights of Man at some point and see if I get more from that.

Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow
This is the book that inspired the musical that I’ve been obsessing over for the last couple of months. It did the thing that good biographies often do of reading like a novel much of the time, and despite being a bit of a brick I ripped through it fairly quickly, and now feel a lot more informed about the American Revolution than I was before. I think I’d quite like to read a Jefferson biography by someone sympathetic though, as I’m not sure how skewed my perspective of him is now.

Now reading: On Liberty, John Stuart Mill; the rest of Transmet; Economics by Begg and Vernesca
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
Last time I wrote one of these I observed that I was doing remarkably well despite there being a certain amount of stress in all three of my work, home and romantic life. One way or another that all seems to have resolved itself, which is helpful, as it frees up my processing capacity to deal with the fact that the country has gone insane.

I’ve only got a week left of my current contract, and I’ve wrapped up most of the things I needed to get done and am working on the nice-to-haves. I’m very much looking forward to never having to see my terrible client again. In some ways it seems a bit daft to have stayed on for so long given how grim the environment is, but there’s still a lot I enjoy about the work itself, and I’ve certainly learned a great deal. As per the recent locked posts*, I’ve been doing quite a lot of thinking about where I want my career to go in the medium-long term and that’s starting to crystallise in a way that gives me more clarity and options in the shorter term as well. I’ve got an interview tomorrow for another fairly short contract, and applications out for some more senior permanent jobs, and I’m rather looking forward to having a short break in the meantime.

I had fairly major surgery a few weeks ago, and despite that my health is pretty much the best it’s ever been. I’m recovering ridiculously well, and although it’s meant that I’ve had to put the weight-lifting that I’d been getting into on a short hiatus, I’ve been using the time freed up to do more running, and last week managed to knock 39 seconds and 89 seconds off my 5k and 10k personal bests.

We made offers on a few more houses, but none of them worked out, and after the referendum we’re going to leave it a little while to see what happens to house prices, as even though we’re buying a home rather than an investment, it would be a little frustrating to buy now and then realise we could have saved tens of thousands of pounds by waiting.

I feel as though I should say something about the astonishing amount of news at the moment, but I’m not sure I have anything new or insightful to add. I am concerned about Brexit, and the collapse of any viable opposition to the Tories, but in some ways the events in Turkey have made me realise that actually, despite everything, we still have a saner and more democratic government than we have for most of our history and than a great deal of the world does now. I’m more concerned about the risk of President Trump - that does seem like something that could seriously fuck the entire world, but I have no idea what, if anything, I can do about it, so I’m mostly just sticking my head in the sand and thinking about all the malaria nets that I actually can do something about distributing.

*shout if you can’t see them and would like to
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
Would anyone be willing to look over a job application for me? It's quite an ambitious stretch for me, so I could use as much help as I can get.

I'm looking for feedback on whether I've said anything that will be offputting, whether I'm failing to cover anything important from the JD/person spec, editing suggestions so I can bring the word count down a little, and general feedback on tone, style &c. Let me know if you'd be willing to give it a once over and I'll email it.
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