Monday, February 8th, 2016 05:02 pm
Shanshuijian (山水间), Limehouse, London E14

Welcome back to a fairly brief update. This week's featured article is Shanshuijian, E14 7JD, a Chinese restaurant in Limehouse, whose name refers to its signature dish, though from the photo it seems nothing in English appears outside. Maybe that helps to make it less busy, but if you like a lamb neck hotpot -- or if you think you might be into that -- this is the place to go!

The other change is the permanent closure of Amico Bio in Holborn, though they still have another branch that's going near Smithfield Market.
Monday, February 8th, 2016 12:20 pm
My ongoing obsession with Hamilton has reminded me that my general knowledge of musicals is pretty poor, although the ones I've seen I've generally enjoyed. Ebay and my hazy memory of the 1990s came to the rescue, and I now own a set of 75 instalments of "The Musicals Collection": a series of CD cast recordings with accompanying magazines giving a newbies guide to the musical, the stars, the composer(s), the context, etc.

Musicals!


Should keep me busy for a while (once I can stop looping Hamilton) ...



Saturday, February 6th, 2016 07:49 am
The student I mentor has an urgent need for info about humanitarian visas from Mexico to the U.S. Her family is dealing with a violent relative and they're divided by a border that only my student can cross. Any help/advice super-welcome. Am googling, as well.
Saturday, February 6th, 2016 02:07 pm
Hazel sat on the bank in the midsummer night.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


Saturday, February 6th, 2016 03:21 am
On Wednesday night, X watched Kit while J and I had a date. Tonight J watched Kit while X and I had a date. I'll do the same for them next Wednesday. This is yet another reason to be grateful to be in a three-parent household.

We all seem to be "hooray, a few hours off from babycare" parents rather than "miss the baby even if just for a few hours" parents. I'm relieved that there's no mismatch there; it would be very awkward if one of us was trying to talk about work or movies or whatever while the other one pined and tried to log into the babycam from their phone. We all love Kit and love spending time with Kit and also are very glad to get breaks.

J and I went to Dassara Ramen for our date, a favorite of ours. They had their wonderful lamb ramen on the menu, so of course I got that, and we split an order of shishito peppers that made us miss Japan. We mostly talked about J's work and workplace stuff, and my theories about how there should be way more film and television adaptations of romance novels. The night was drizzly and cool, and we walked up Smith to Fulton and then over to Nevins to get the subway home. I got dairy-free ice cream at the vegan juice bar around the corner--there are two kinds of Brooklyn vegan juice bars, the hipster kind and the Rastafarian kind, and this one is the Rasta kind, so the ice cream came in a plastic half-pint deli container but only cost $4--and then we snuggled and smooched for a good long while. It was really really nice.

X and I trekked into Manhattan to go to Senza Gluten, since all the Brooklyn GF restaurants we might want to go to are actually less convenient to get to. X had their first postpartum beer, a bitter-sharp IPA that made me make the sucked-a-lemon face. We joked a lot with the server, who was so nice that X left them a thank-you note. I had lamb again, come to think of it, in a ragù over cavatelli. We walked up to Union Square in the bitter cold. In the station, we tipped some human-statue buskers who repaid us with some very talented dancing; we just missed our train while watching them, but that was fine because we were enjoying being together. Down on the platform we kept having tender sincere moments interrupted by blaring announcements, but that's what we get for having tender sincere moments on a subway platform. It was really really nice.

When I was growing up in a family of four, it often split into factions: two against two, or three against one. I don't ever want my family to be that way. But I love that we can divide and reunite, in all our various configurations, because all of our twosomes deserve time together.
Friday, February 5th, 2016 02:48 pm
Poll #17293 E-mail management
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 57


E-mail management

View Answers

I strive to attain Inbox Zero and regularly succeed.
10 (17.5%)

I strive to attain Inbox Zero and occasionally succeed.
16 (28.1%)

I use a system of filters for my incoming mail. It works pretty well and I rarely miss stuff.
16 (28.1%)

What's Inbox Zero?
18 (31.6%)

I miss stuff all the time. Allll the time.
9 (15.8%)

AHAHAHAHAAAAA no.
17 (29.8%)



(This post triggered by the knowledge that I am rarely, if ever, fully caught up on e-mail communication. It is perpetually frustrating, and I never feel like I can take a break from it.)
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Friday, February 5th, 2016 06:24 am
Are you going to FOGcon, or hoping to? Is the ticket price an impediment to going? If yes, please let me know and I'll give you one or both of our tickets. We paid $60 each, and you can have them for free, or you can pay me whatever you want to pay. I'll let you decide based on your personal situation, no questions asked. Just let me know in comments or message or email. I'll edit this post when both tickets are gone.
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Friday, February 5th, 2016 02:35 am
When you have a baby (or are about to have a baby and are reading up on babies), you start to see the word "colic" everywhere. It's rarely defined but always made out as something dreadful, or at least extremely unpleasant--and worse, it's portrayed as incurable and inescapable. Some babies are just "colicky" and nothing can be done about it.

This turns out to be not at all true. As far as I can tell from doing a whole lot of reading on the topic, there seem to be two kinds of colic: indigestion, and emotional meltdowns. Kit's had both, and we were able to identify them pretty quickly and treat them pretty straightforwardly. Kit is a very easy-going and good-natured kid, so that may be a factor, but hopefully this info will still be useful for other parents whose babies are not quite so chill.

1) Indigestion. "Our baby screams a lot and arches in pain when fed breast milk or standard formula," we said. "Well, some babies are colicky after feeding," our pediatrician said. Aha!, we thought. "Colicky" means "is upset about digestion pain". And indeed, when we stopped feeding Kit breast milk and regular formula and started using a super-digestible formula (from Honest Co., and we recommend it very highly--Kit spits it up even less than the supposedly ultra-gentle Similac Alimentum, and it's half the price), and made sure not to feed Kit more than their tiny stomach could hold, the colic went away. Kit still fusses a bit about 10 minutes after eating, and then farts a couple of times and settles right down. If we give a teaspoon or two of Colic-Ease every day, there's no fussing at all.

The pediatrician pointed out that since Kit wasn't vomiting up the meals, we could keep feeding breast milk (and the immunity benefits thereof) as long as we had a high tolerance for the screaming, until Kit got to be about three months old and the stomach developed enough to be able to digest the milk more easily. He did this in a very neutral way, which I appreciated--matter-of-fact, not pushing us one direction or the other. X and I stared at him with identical expressions of horror. It's not the screaming itself, but the idea of causing our child preventable pain, several times a day, for months. We considered dosing Kit with antacids, but our pediatrician shares our hesitation to put a very young baby on daily medication when there are non-medical options to pursue. So we switched to formula with some wistfulness but no regrets. That said, even if you're very dedicated to exclusively breastfeeding, there are ways of treating indigestion-type colic, and anyone (especially anyone not your doctor) who tells you that it's full-stop untreatable is probably wrong--any given attack of indigestion colic may just have to run its course, but a lot of those attacks can be prevented. Kit's always been an expert belcher and farter, so gas build-up isn't an issue, but if it were we could use simethicone drops and the Windi. Some babies have allergies to things the breastfeeding parent is eating, and a change in diet can help. There are lots of things to try.

2) Emotional meltdowns. T. Berry Brazelton defines this type of colic very clearly in his Touchpoints: Birth to Three, which is an excellent book that I think all new parents should keep on hand. Brazelton identifies it as coming from overstimulation during the day, which is why it reliably occurs in the evening. Since it doesn't have a physical cause, physical treatments (feeding, changing, gas drops, etc.) don't work, and soothing techniques like swaddling and pacifiers are of limited use. [twitter.com profile] other_alice pointed me to a site about "the PURPLE crying period", which looks like much the same thing.

Brazelton advises making sure there are no physical problems to address and then leaving the baby alone in the crib to scream out their feelings, self-soothe, decompress, and sleep without further stimulation; in his experience, this can reduce the average duration of a colic attack by half. The "PURPLE crying period" site mentions a study in which babies cried less if their parents carried them around more often, as part of everyday life, rather than only picking them up when they were crying. So as with many things, the appropriate approach depends on you and your baby and your parenting style.

On Tuesday night, Kit had an emotional meltdown colic attack. It was pretty awful. But I realized that it reminded me of panic attacks, and then I knew what to do, because I have had many panic attacks and gotten pretty good at dealing with them. I held Kit gently and warmly, turned the lights down (installing dimmable LED bulbs and a dimmer switch in the baby's room is one of the best decisions I've ever made), rocked slowly in the rocking chair, and murmured quiet soothing things in a voice full of sympathy. I didn't try to offer a pacifier or stop Kit from screaming or thrashing, though I did loosely confine Kit's arms to keep either of us from getting punched in the face (and because Kit seems to find that sort of swaddling-by-hand very soothing, despite not liking actual swaddles). After a few minutes, the screaming and thrashing stopped and the baby fell asleep. Maybe ten minutes later, the cycle repeated once. And... that was that. All better. Pretty much the same thing happened when X was watching Kit Wednesday night while J and I were on our date night, and X did similar things and they were similarly effective. The key was that we both understood what it was like to feel overwhelmed and need to flail and yell, so we could stay calm and supportive while Kit vented. And we both know that while panic attacks feel like they're going to last forever, they do eventually end, and then everything is okay for at least a little while; so we could hold on to that knowledge instead of falling into our own panic and ending up trapped with the baby in a feedback loop of distress.

Apparently some colic attacks can last for hours. We're very lucky not to have seen that yet. At that point I probably would put the baby in the crib just to give myself a break from being up close with the screaming for all that time. But I'm hoping that gentle soothing and sincere sympathy will be enough to help Kit escape the multi-hour misery cycle.

Obviously this is all our personal experience; I'm not prescribing anything. Do what's best for you and your child. Just remember, this too shall pass--possibly with some gas. :)
Friday, February 5th, 2016 07:00 am
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 02:33 pm
The OH and I just finished the first season of How to Get Away With Murder. I'm glad I watched it, and I like the acting and the cast diversity, but it was sort of surfing the edge of what kind of TV I like best (too much of the drama generated by lies and stupidity). Based on that, do you think I should I watch the next season?
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 04:01 pm
What I've read - short fiction
The first two episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold. Cold War spies in Prague, and a different kind of struggle between competing factions of magic-users (and of course the two conflicts overlap and group people in different ways). I loved the pilot enough to subscribe to the series, and the second episode confirmed my opinion ...
A Long Cold Winter by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (1/13 - free to read online)
A Voice on the Radio by Cassandra Rose Clarke (2/13 - requires payment)

Tigerskin by Kurt Hunt
Warning for harm to a child in the opening! but not quite as it seems.

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg
Admiring letters sent along trade routes between two different magic practitioners.

La Lune T’attend by Peter S. Beagle
Werewolves and magic and old men trying to protect their families (a bit gory in places)

Charlotte Incorporated by Rachael K. Jones
A brain in a jar who wants a better home.

Long fiction
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, as reviewed separately.


Acquisitions:
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link - an anthology of short stories by the author whose novella I liked a couple of weeks ago
The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley - a novella for Patreon supporters, about Nyx from the Bel Dame Apocrypha books


Thursday, February 4th, 2016 03:54 pm
Baby discovers stroopwaffel
[Keiki waves around a bag of stroopwafels after having consumed one. Crumbs not visible in black and white.]

In this Adventure of Keiki & Mummy at Home, Keiki digs through Mummy's large bag of rapidly assembled duty free items and discovers stroopwafels. Stroopwafels, for those who haven't had the pleasure, are a luxury Dutch biscuit/cookie consisting of two very thin crispy waffles sandwiching a layer of sticky caramel. They are terribly, terribly morish.

I think he likes them.
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 01:43 pm
I owe thanks to [personal profile] naath for alerting me that this was out, and "thanks" to the dratted cough I currently have for giving me several hours of insomnia to beguile last night.

I enjoyed it very much but it isn't quite what I was expecting: it is very much a story of the delights of peacetime, domesticity and science rather than the excitements of lethal politics, galactic intrigue etc.  About what you do when you've saved the Empire a few times and it doesn't need you to do that any more.

Cordelia is at the centre of it, three years a widow and beginning to think about what she wants to do next.  Being Cordelia, rather than Miles, the plot proceeds sensibly and in a measured way, rather than breakneck chaos. There's a lot of Cordelia and Jole dealing with administrative hassles on Sergyar, getting paperwork done and carving time out of busy schedules.  There's a lot of reminiscing too, seeing various major incidents of the past 40-ish years from a different point of view.  There's very little actual peril (which really threw me because based on previous Vorkosigan books I kept expecting things to escalate that didn't ...)

Everything's political, and there's definitely something about the way that stories of WAR and DEATH seem more important than stories of building, creation and family.  Of the previous Vorkosigan books, it's probably most like A Civil Campaign only without the farce (and, thankfully, nothing as excruciating as That Dinner Party).   I think the genre is "family-saga in a space opera setting".

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 08:48 pm
Just determined I won't be going to Fogcon, so I'm feeling sad today. We had to pay taxes this year (when previously we always had a big refund), so the money was not going to work out. My sweetheart [personal profile] stonebender and his sweetheart [personal profile] loracs offered to pay a big chunk of the expenses, but there were other problems with going, so I'm not, and I'm sad, but it's not, on the whole, a bad thing. Now I have to decide whether to keep my upcoming vacation time or cancel it and use it for something I want to do later. On the other hand, my co-worker is going out on a long maternity leave in April, so maybe it would be good to take it while I can. Anyway. Don't have to decide today.

Reading

Have I read anything this week besides work papers and Twitter? I don't actually think I have!

Listening

Literally every previously quiet moment in my brain is taken up by snippets of Hamilton. Over. And over. And over. Still obsessed. I bought myself the soundtrack and pre-ordered the book, and it's SUPER tempting to spend way more money than I have to get tickets to the San Francisco run.

I used to listen to Here & Now on the way to work, and Marketplace on the way home from work, but now I take the kid to school in the morning and drive my student worker to the trolley after work, so I don't. I miss it, but not enough to ask the kids to listen to NPR with me.

Playing

Mostly Two Dots. I keep hearing that The Witness is wonderful, but my download failed and I didn't try a second time.

Watching

James and I re-watched the Blade series and all the monster movies we own, and now we're re-watching Austin Powers. Before I met him, I had only two or three movies I ever re-watched. Now we watch the same ones over and over. It leaves my mind free for other stuff, and he likes sharing the chill time.

No Jessica Jones this week. The kid just started school and work got busy for me, so we're both too tired to bother.