Monday, July 28th, 2014 11:20 pm
This userpic isn't applicable to many sorts of pain, but it is perfect for physical therapy.

PT is EXHAUSTING. I'd forgotten. Also, going straight from PT to walking half a mile to the subway station, sitting on the L for 45 minutes, and then driving from Manhattan to Brooklyn was maybe not my smartest move ever.

The physio thinks my lifelong right hip wackiness is the cause of the knee issues, which would make a whole lot of sense. Apparently my right ITB and quad are "astonishingly tight". "Wait until you get to my hip flexors!" I said cheerfully. Then he tried to make my right hip bend the way most people's right hips bend and I yelled a lot.

Prescription:
* 8 weeks of biweekly PT
* Daily exercises at home w/ Theraband: 3 x 10 @ leg press, 3 x 10 @ hamstring curls, followed by ice (have the ice pack handy before starting to exercise so I don't have to hobble to the freezer for it)
* Start taking glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM (I've ordered an unflavored drink mix version that I can mix into chocolate milk or something, rather than swallow those enormous pills)
* No more sitting with both knees pointing to the left <.<

I'm seriously tempted to just keep going weekly or every other week after my eight weeks of intensive PT are up. The physio is hands-on and terrific, and therapeutic massage is amazing. And because I'm going to a shabby little PT clinic over in Brownsville (also known as "the neighborhood that will never, ever gentrify"), it's only $50 a session. That's the uninsured rate*. O.O The physio was telling me that he moved to Staten Island because he can't afford Brooklyn--maybe it's because he's seriously undercharging his clients. At that rate I really could go just for... well, not fun, exactly, but because it would probably be good to work on fixing my hips so that the knee problems don't recur, and because it feels good, and because I'm a lot more likely to exercise if it's been prescribed by someone I have to fess up to every week or two.

* I have insurance, but my plan year just started and I haven't met my deductible yet. Insert standard "American health care system is broken and bullshit" rant here.

The drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn was because [livejournal.com profile] auntyglory is in town and she hasn't driven to our place before. Giving her directions would stress her out and navigating from the passenger seat would stress me out, so she drove into Manhattan from her cousin's place in New Jersey, and I met up with her and drove us home in her car. This was definitely the least mentally and emotionally taxing option, but NYC traffic means a lot of right-leg work, and by the time we got home I was very thoroughly done with any sort of moving around. She wants to go shopping tomorrow; I hope I'm up for it.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 10:07 pm
Today I went looking for a paper I wrote for a college course in 1996--and found it. It's... um. It's not bad, by the standards of papers written by white freshmen about AAVE. There are surprisingly few parts that make me cover my face and shake my head, probably because most of it is primary source quotes. I'm amused to realize that I still write articles basically the same way: quote primary sources as much as possible, with just enough link text to provide some structure and flow.

Anyway, that got me looking through my folder of old text files, and I found a diary entry of sorts, dated December 3, 1996. If LJ had existed at the time, it would have been an LJ entry, so I posted it, backdated. It's here if anyone's curious. I find it of interest mostly because it establishes a date for my first self-diagnosis with depression and describes my experience of being depressed at the time. Also little notes about my life that are very telling:

"I've found a job that makes me almost as happy as writing for a living would, and which requires much less courage." That job was copy editing for the NYU student newspaper. I admire 18-year-old me for being so perceptive; I continue to cherish editorial work, and to choose it as a career, because it requires far, far less bravery than writing.

"I still have my writing talent, but no time to exercise it, and it's trapped in a cage where I can feel it reverting from housepet to wild animal, all the training eating itself away.... I still have story ideas, though they rarely get to bloom, and the only thing that hurts worse than the unsprouted seed is the one which pokes up a few shoots, looks promising, and then withers away because I don't have the time to care for it properly." Clearly I came into my talent for metaphors at an early age. And... yeah, this is all still true, except that I've gotten a lot better at not looking at it.

"The present never interested me; the past, the future, and the timeless are my domain. The present is vaguely repellant. The past is warm and familiar, the future softly bright and promising..." The positive descriptors are misleading. I'm not drawn to the past or future. The description of the present as "repellant" is much more accurate; specifically, it describes what I would now call anxiety. The past and the future are places to hide from the present.

"I use that word a lot these days. 'Safe.' I wonder what I feel that I need to be kept safe from. My own weariness, maybe. Or the world. Or time." These days I challenge the whole notion of wanting to be kept safe. Risk and bravery are better.

And now I'm going to close those folders before I start reading old chatlogs. That way lies days of secondhand angst and misery.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 11:43 pm
I've been at my Parents' for the last few days - which now seems like a particular wise thing because of the flooding (and consequent lack of trains) back home. I do hope all you Sussex people are ok.
Soon I'll be off to see [personal profile] softfruit and then on to BiReCon and BiCon in Leeds. BiReCon is actually on my birthday so for once I'll be with the majority of my close-people for it :) I'm going to be 41 which doesn't seem quite real.
Usually Brighton Pride pretty much displaces any birthday celebrations I might want to hold - this year BiCon has displaced Brighton Pride for me and a lot of the core BothWays people (I think a year off might well be a good thing - people will hopefully be more enthusiastic next year).

I'm still not really sure about the shape of my summer after BiCon. But I'm guessing the imediate aftermath will mostly involve sleep ...
Monday, July 28th, 2014 03:51 pm
... my dear friend [personal profile] elisem reported harassment, and then she wrote up an essay about the process of reporting the harassment. (I have roundup of links from then starting over here)

Unfortunately, there's another essay required. Like the first, it's been posted on multiple blogs, with those people hosting (and moderating) comments. Natalie Luhrs has an excellent roundup of discussion around the 'Net about the events as well.

Elise's essay (same basic content all these places)
* John Scalzi's blog
* Stephanie Zvan's blog
* Natalie Luhr's blog
* Catherine Lundoff's blog at Dreamwidth and LiveJournal
* Mary Robinette Kowal's blog
* Sigrid Ellis's blog

I'm not sure I'm going to manage a thorough links roundup (yay, stuff in my own life) but I'm glad to stick a link to other people's roundups as they appear.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 08:29 pm
Space School blogging on hold because reasons )

And now, the happy stuff.

This weekend was rather warm. We spent a large portion of it in our garden, either in the paddling pool or next to it at the picnic table.

Humuhumu is enjoying the new set of paints that the bloke bought for her. The warm weather means we don't have to worry about her tendency to decorate herself as extensively as her canvases.


First, select tool.

More painting + paddling pool )
Monday, July 28th, 2014 06:06 pm
Got dressed
Made bed
Made coffee
Brought in dry laundry, hung out wet
Put on a load of dirty laundry to wash
Sieved the dirt from the potato bags to fill another growbag for rhubarb, supervised children transplanting rhubarb.
Scrubbed Garden off a big yellow laundry basket which was used for... jasmine branches and half rotten apples, apparently. Ok.
Propped up two tomato plants which have been growing lush with neglect and are bound to die now.
DID ALL THE GARDEN BEFORE THE TORRENTIAL RAIN.
Did ALL the budgeting and moving money around and paying bills
Discovered a dripping gutter at the back of the roof. Bah.
Cleaned a toilet and handbasin including washing sand and grit out of the plug mechanism jeepers what's wrong with a normal plug?
Sorted some things in the kitchen
Read Borrowers to Emer while she emptied the dishwasher s l o w l y

To do:
Wash the bathroom floor
Clean the WHOLE kitchen
ALL THE THINGS
Monday, July 28th, 2014 03:29 pm
I think the last of the potatoes came up today. I've transplanted the rhubarb into their old dirt. And I'm in the process of painting a map of the garden, so I can use that to help plan... we have raised beds in our beady eyes.

We've had a tiny strawberry harvest, missed the ripening tomatoes on almost every occasion in exactly the way wildlife didn't, and have nasturtium leaves in salad. I harvested but didn't eat the red and black currants and will need to prune those properly this year if we're going to get any fruit next year.

The apples seem to be doing ok. I must work out which bits to prune. The fig tree is growing but not figifying. I need to crawl into a tiny spiky space to pick gooseberries.

And in inedible plant news, the montbretia from my mother's garden on Aran is flowering beautifully, and one of my two roses has little pink flowers. The bees are very few and far between but they seem to like the wildflower patches.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 09:13 am
Hello there! Katstevens is on holiday (I haven't ever learned how to link other users in DW, and I'm not going to start bothering now), so I am taking over for a second week. That said, it's a pretty short update...

Draft House, Fitzrovia, W1

Our featured article is the tiny corner pub on Goodge Street called The Draft House, W1T 1TA. Actually the company tend to refer to it as "Draft House Charlotte" due to its position on the corner of Charlotte Street (which must be the trendier street, I guess), though it's not on the pub itself, which is part of a small chain. It does a very basic menu what with being tiny, but it has many lovely beers on keg, on cask and in bottle form, so unless you're visiting after-work o'clock when it gets horribly busy, it's definitely worth checking out. Mid-afternoon would be ideal, I think, or Saturday.

There's also one new review: Roti King at Euston Chinese, by Euston station. There's little to commend it in terms of flashiness -- it's down some narrow stairs, the menus have clearly been retained through many moves and outwardly it's a Chinese place, so you need to ensure you get the right menu. That said, the roti (which is what you come for) are excellent.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 06:51 am
(The whole guide is here: http://guide.loncon3.org/  I am currently failing at reading it, but I've got a few weeks.  I also think I have some reading and rereading to do in preparation.)

"We have always fought": warriors vs llamas

Sunday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

In a Hugo-nominated essay published on Aidan Moher's blog A Dribble of Ink in 2013, Kameron Hurley argued that in order to challenge prevailing narratives of women as passive adjuncts to men, we must write more stories that reflect the genuine history of women's involvement in war and conflict. (How) is this being pursued in contemporary SFF? What are the strategies being used by writers to turn the stories we tell about women into stories about warriors, rather than - as Hurley put it - llamas?

Jeanne Gomoll (M), Rachel Coleman, Kristina Knaving, Liesel Schwarz, Rebecca Levene

The Politics of the Culture

Monday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

In her review of Look to Windward, Abigail Nussbaum suggests that the central paradox of Iain M Banks' Culture is that it is "both a force for goodness, freedom, and happiness in the galaxy, and an engine of its citizens' selfish, childish needs to imbue their lives with meaning, to which end they will cause any amount of suffering ... both are true, and both are reductive." To what extent is the Culture, as a political entity, built around this unresolvable duality? How do the Culture novels grapple with the contradictions at the heart of this utopia? And how do the actions of the Culture connect with the more immediate political choices we face in the present world?

David Dingwall (M), Rachel Coleman, Ken MacLeod, Gemma Thomson, Lalith Vipulananthan Lal


Sunday, July 27th, 2014 10:16 pm
Zoloft taper time! The plan:

Day 0 (today): 12.5 mg/day (the dosage I've been on for the last 18 months)
Days 1-14: 6.25 mg/day
Days 15-28: alternate 6.25 mg/day and 0 mg/day
Day 29: fully discontinue

The last time I went off Zoloft I dropped it cold turkey because I was at much too high a dose for me and it was making me suicidal, manic, and possibly psychotic. (As indicated above, my therapeutic dose is below most people's starting dose, and my psychiatrist at the time had no idea how to dose someone like me.) I don't recall experiencing any adverse effects from the abrupt stop, but I wasn't really paying much attention at the time, and I'm not sure I would have noticed anything unless it was worse than the effects of the Zoloft itself. That said, I don't expect to have any problems, especially since I'm tapering this gradually.

I wasn't expecting to be able to cut my half-pills in half again, but J keeps our kitchen knives nice and sharp, so that makes life easier. I could possibly cut them even smaller but I think that's probably unnecessary.

I cannot wait to be off this stuff. Cannot. Wait.

Usual rules for comments about medical stuff: no advice unless I specifically ask (which I'm not) or you think I'm about to inadvertently harm myself.
Sunday, July 27th, 2014 09:11 am
I think we started the school year with 6 each of trousers, polo shirts, jumpers.
We end it with: 5 trousers (1 with a tiny hole in the knee), 3 polo shirts, 1 jumper.

I think this is the worst yet for losing things.   At least the jumpers were all cheap ones? (Because I left restocking to the last minute last summer and my preferred supplier had sold out of everything - trying not to do that this year, but maybe I should just go cheap anyway if this is the rate of attrition.)

Also C is still apparently in the same school uniform size as last year.  What are the odds of him doing a growth spurt at the start of next term?
Saturday, July 26th, 2014 10:00 am
Friday, July 25th, 2014 10:40 pm
Kitty micturition TMI--all good news )

Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).

Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.
Friday, July 25th, 2014 10:00 am
Friday, July 25th, 2014 01:43 am
Good things:

The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.

This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.

X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.

I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo"). They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared.

Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently scolded challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.

After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.

Annoying things:

Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."

Can't foresee everything, I suppose.

The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)

Sad things:

My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.

Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.

One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.

Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.

I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.

Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.
Thursday, July 24th, 2014 10:52 am

Posted by Alix

As is well known in the Lib-Dem-and-hangers-on blogosphere (rather more hangers-on than Lib Dems these days, and soon presumably just hangers), James Graham is a genius. So it need surprise no-one that he coined a term only this morning which was swiftly adopted into the Official Permitted Lexicon of the People’s Republic, thus:

Several things could drive this campaign, I think. The first and most obvious is that people like narratives and categories and shorthand; it makes them feel in control, it gives them a handle on what to do in conflict situations. What can be named can be manipulated. The second is the ubiquity of personality profiling systems like Myers-Briggs, ably skewered (again) here, but still widely used by businesses, cod psychologists and bullshitting dilettantes who like nothing more than to rub bits of the abstract world up against each other “to see what happens” even though what invariably “happens” is that you have used a gerbil to nail a blancmange to a gas bill, intellectually speaking, and wasted half an hour of everybody’s time and easily two of your own.

There is a third force at work here though, and it is encapsulated in books like Quiet and The Highly Sensitive Person (are you too sensorily overwhelmed by particularly violently patterned supermarket flooring? do you too spend entire evenings round your friends’ houses wondering twitchily why they don’t sort out the harsh overhead lighting because IT’S MAKING EVERYBODY EDGY? Then congratulations, sport, you’re as fucked as I am.) You might, cruelly, characterise this trend as the Nerd’s Revenge. “Introvert” is one of those terms that is being reclaimed by the people who were originally saddled with it as a perjorative. Certainly I spent my first twentyish years convinced I must be an introvert, and I can absolutely see the appeal of having my inner child cosseted by New York Times bestsellers which tell me how veh, veh speshul this makes me.

To be honest, though, I think my wholly introverted behaviours as a child were mostly down to the fact that, frankly, most of the people around me were quite rubbish, apart from the few friends who got me, and rubbish people were, and are, tiring (note how this alternative reading is still based on the premise that I am veh, veh speshul). And the further forward you go in life the more you tend to be able to select the people you keep around you, so the less the introvert thing is in point. Whether or not your introvert behaviours are set in stone by then really depends on a lot of things, your innate capacity/desire for reinvention, the environments you regularly move in, the extent to which you have tied your sense of self to certain of life’s routine fixtures and fittings &c.

But clearly I can’t escape the introvert label altogether because I absolutely love bitrovert, and logically I don’t see how they can exist as concepts without each other. Bitrovert perfectly expresses the finely balanced forces that alternately cause me to talk bollocks to total strangers in the hope that this will somehow make the world a better place for both of us and sit in corners silently howling GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALOOOOONE. I like that it communicates a sense of being genuinely both things (usually, indeed, in the course of one evening), and being mostly rather happy about that. It is nice to feel well-tuned, and if I spend too much time performing the introvert or too much time performing the extrovert, I get out of tune. And so interestingly we run up against the familiar tension, don’t we, in that logically both “things” have to exist as culturally constructed entities for you to be able to identify with both of them. There’s probably queer theory stuff I need to read about this so that I can talk about it on the internet some more.

Now piss off.


Thursday, July 24th, 2014 10:11 am
If you are, there's a questionnaire going around from the sustainable transport folks that you might want to fill in. Drop me a comment or a tweet if you want a copy and I'll email you one over.