What I did on my summer holidays

I’m back from England! Actually, I’ve been back for just over a week but I’ve been recovering from a long, horrid flight and the crap that appeared when I got to work so I haven’t really been in a blogging mood.

It was a fantastic holiday. I did all the things that I planned to do, saw all the friends that I’d hoped to and ate a truly epic quantity of clotted cream.

I have a serious weakness for a good cream tea and I managed to fit in several πŸ™‚

I’m torn in picking what the highlight of the holiday was. The day when Mum, my sister and I went on the London Eye and had tea at Brown’s hotel was a definite highlight. We had amazing weather so the view from the Eye was terrific and the tea was amazing. Now that we’ve done Brown’s and Claridge’s, Mum and sis suggested that we need to try all the good London hotels during my future trips. So I think we’ll be working our way through the Savoy, the Dorchester, The Lanesborough and the Langham. We may also take in Fornum and Mason.

The Ritz has too many tourists, so we’ll skip that.

Then in a few years we can compare! And maybe try them all again!

The other big highlight was the trip to Hay on Wye. That was with my parents and we spent two days there, managing to cover around half the bookshops. The town was in preparation mode for the festival that started a few days after our visit and also for the Jubilee, so it was a fun experience without the insane crowds that the festival generates.

Most importantly, between Hay and the local secondhand bookshop I came home with a huge treasure trove of books. I’m still in full-0n Hugo reading mode so I can’t make a start on the stack yet, but I’m excited about them. The hardcover Chalet School books are particular treasures because they’re the full text as opposed to the edited/cut versions that appeared in paperback.

The list is behind the cut. It’s long, trust me. I’ll be posting Hugo reads and movies over the next few days.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday…

By the time anyone reads this, I will be in the wilds of south east England. I may be posting a bit or I may not – it’s largely dependent on how exhausted I am by the insane schedule I’ve set myself.

I’ve calculated that, out of the fifteen days that I’m away, only five do not have definite all day plans. Yet. The second week is going to be less frantic than the first week so I could add an activity or two depending on how I’m feeling. There is a solid chance that people will be sitting on me to force me to rest if I start getting that grey-green look that I get just before I collapse.

Many of my activities involve a fair bit of travel (planes, trains and automobiles are literal here) so there is going to be a fair bit of reading time despite my schedule. Thus, I spent a couple of evenings loading up my Kindle and iPad with the following:

Huntress by Malinda Lo
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett
Feed by Mira Grant (Hugo pre-read)
Deadline by Mira Grant (Hugo nominee)
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Hugo pre-read)

New Avengers Breakout
New Avengers Sentry

Plus the latest couple of issues of Batgirl, Nightwing, Demon Knights, Stormwatch, Saucer County, X-Men and Wolverine, Avengers Assemble and the new Black Widow prequel. I’ve also got three issues of Asimov’s to catch up on.

As I’m also planning to hit a lot of bookshops while I’m away, it looks like I shouldn’t run out of reading material πŸ™‚

I have a confession

I’m having a bit of a comics addiction right now. The lovely Comixology app for my iPad is entirely to blame: the comics look amazing and it’s so easy to just press ‘Buy’ and download new things.

Not that I’m complaining πŸ˜€

I tried a few times in my teens and early twenties to get into comics but the lack of availability (no local comic shop, WH Smith usually only had one or two issues out of each run and then a series would disappear) and lack of knowledge on where to start made it pretty near impossible.

The Internet makes it pretty easy to figure out where to start with different series and I even now know about comics outside the standard DC/Marvel superhero arena. Marvellous! More

2011: A year in books

Well, not quite. I’ll save you from the enourmous review list of books. I will give you The List for 2011:

1. A Suitable Vengeance – Elizabeth George
2. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
3. Daughter of Time – Joshephine Tey
4. Mistborn: The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson
5. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (January 2011)
6. The Sleeping Beauty – Mercedes Lackey
7. The Alchemyst – Michael Scott
8. The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson
9. Septimus Heap Book One: Magyk – Angie Sage
10. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (Feburary 2011)
11. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
12. Cotillion – Georgette Heyer
13. Soulless – Gail Carriger
14. From Doon With Death – Ruth Rendell
15. A Great and Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
16. Doomsday Book – Connie Willis
17. Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper book 1 – Tamora Pierce
18. Changeless – Gail Carriger
19. To Say Nothing Of The Dog – Connie Willis
20. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (March 2011)
21. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
22. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
23. Blameless – Gail Carriger
24. Foundation: Intrigues – Mercedes Lackey
25. Mistborn: The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson
26. For the Sake of Elena – Elizabeth George
27. The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation – Ian Mortimer
28. Declare – Tim Powers
29. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones
30. Logopolis – Christopher H. Bidmead
31. Dancing Shoes – Noel Streatfield
32. Rivers of London/Midnight Riot – Ben Aaronovitch
33. Sea Glass – Maria V. Snyder
34. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (April/May 2011)
35. Generosity – Richard Powers
36. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
37. The Exploits of the Chalet School – Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
38. Rosemary and Rue – Seannan McGuire
39. Joey and Co. in the Tirol – Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
40. Jo Returns to the Chalet School – Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
41. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (June 2011)
42. Pheonix and Ashes – Mercedes Lackey
43. Firerose – Mercedes Lackey
44. Tortall and other lands – Tamora Pierce
45. Heartless – Gail Carriger
46. Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch
47. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (July 2011)
48. Unnatural Issue – Mercedes Lackey
49. Bloodhound – Tamora Pierce
50. Tongues of Serpents – Naomi Novik
51. Maise Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear
52. The Last Dragonlord – Joanne Bertin
53. Birds of a Feather – Jacqueline Winspear
54. Dissolution – C J Sansom
55. The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole
56. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (August 2011)
57. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent – Galen Beckett
58. Hospital Sketches – Louise May Alcott
59. The Children of Green Knowe – Lucy M. Boston
60. Witch Week – Diana Wynne Jones
61. Perdito Street Station – China Mieville
62. Ash – Melinda Lao
63. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
64. Missing Joseph – Elizabeth George
65. Changes – Mercedes Lackey
66. Blackout – Connie Willis
67. All Clear – Connie Willis
68. Charmed Life – Diana Wynne Jones
69. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (September 2011)
70. Fables: Legends in Exile – Bill Willingham (Vertigo)
71. Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (October/November 2011)
72. The Curse of Fenric – Ian Briggs
73. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
74. Point One: Issue #1 (Marvel)
75. Dark Fire – C J Sansom
76. Thud! – Terry Pratchett
77. Book Smart – Jimmy Palmiotti (Kickstart)
78. Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
79. Virals – Kathy Reichs
80. Mastiff – Tamora Pierce
81. Batgirl Issues 1-4 – Gail Simone (DC New 52)
82. Persuasion – Jane Austen
83. Astonishing X-Men Vol 3. Issues 1-6 – Joss Whedon and John Cassady
84. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
Yup, 84 books this year and that is five more than last year. None of them have been complete duds, although there have been a couple of ‘meh’ reads.

I’ve discovered the joy of Connie Willis (definitely my favourite author of the year) and been thrilled by Mistborn. I’ve loved the C J Sansom books (who wouldn’t love mysteries set in Henry VIII’s reign) and my iPad has given me access to some amazing comis. I got so caught up in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent that I had to order pizza instead of cooking one night so that I could finish it. Diana Wynne Jones kept me reading late into the night and a group read finally got me through Northanger Abbey.

I’m a bit divided about my favourite books of 2011, but here are the main candidates:

Daughter of Time – Joshephine Tey
Mistborn: The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson
Soulless – Gail Carriger
Doomsday Book – Connie Willis (and her other books, except that would be half the list)
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
Unnatural Issue – Mercedes Lackey
Dissolution – C J Sansom
Mastiff – Tamora Pierce
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
Astonishing X-Men Vol 3. Issues 1-6 – Joss Whedon and John Cassady

The worst books of 2011 is easier, although they weren’t dreadful, just not that brilliant:

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Septimus Heap Book One: Magyk – Angie Sage
Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (September 2011)
Virals – Kathy Reichs

My thread for the 75 books for 2012 on LibraryThing is here so follow along for next years books if you’re interested!

Er, why is it December already?

(This post was very witty. But WordPress ate everything except the first sentence and I had to re-write it. I forgot most of the jokes. Argh)

Normally I’d title this one “I aten’t dead (still)”, but I suspect that I’ve used that title too often…

I’m not, though. Dead, I mean.

It’s been a weird year, largely featuring my battle to get the colitis into remission, which has involved several rounds of steroids and a variety of increasingly powerful drugs. Thankfully we’ve finally got there and I’m now on some lovely strong immune suppressors (plus a couple of other things) and the steroids stopped three months ago.

Unfortunately the stopping of the steroids meant the return of the back pain. That is being investigated. Ugh.

Still, looking at how ill I felt this time last year, I think that I’ve still made progress. At least I’m able to eat normally again and retain my food, which I think we can all agree is an important thing. I’m slimmer than I was, but at least I’m here πŸ™‚

What else have I been up to? Not a lot. The big trip that I’d planned in September had to be cancelled due to another flare so much of the last few months has been pretty quiet.

I’ve read lots of books, become a (bigger) TV addict (thank you, Netflix in my Wii, DVD manufacturers and my new iPad with BBC Global iPlayer) and achieved very little knitting. Professionally has been better: despite all the illness, doctor/hospital visits, tests and drugs, I managed to get promoted at work and we successfully released a big bit of software last month. Not too shabby, I think.

So, why have I finally dusted this thing off? Well, it’s easy – books!

And maybe, TV!

As I am pretty terrible about updating on things like what I’m doing and how my life is, why don’t I fill in the gaps with book nattering? My page for this year’s books is here and I’ll be setting up something for 2012 soon.

Also, I’m doing a book challenge next year so I need to get myself signed up and a thread started for that. So much reading to do!

Good thing reading is my first big love πŸ™‚

On knitting and the Wii Fit Plus. But not doing both at the same time, that would be silly

Right, I promise that today there will be no mention of Doctor Who outside of this sentence. Let’s see how I do, shall we?

I had a bit of a knitting crisis at the weekend. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been knitting some socks (which I love, BTW, and really need to photograph) but on Saturday I finished them and needed a new project. A few months ago I bought some light fingering yarn with vague plans to make a sweater vest. The problem is that there are no patterns out there for a vest in yarn this fine (apparently everyone uses worsted or heavier) and I’ve realised that the major reason that I don’t already own a vest is because I don’t wear them.
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Wii Fit! And other Wii stuff

Before I launch into more Doctor Who-related babbles, quick report on the Wii Fit. The balance board and game arrived this week so I decided to set it up today and give it a go.

It’s harder than it looks.

I really like the fact that I can tell it to set up a routine with a particular series of types of exercise and it just goes, no messing around in menus to get the next thing. I can see that is going to be the main way that I use this.

The strength and yoga is where this really, really excels and I suspect that it’s what I’m going to find most useful. Interestingly, despite having a dodgy hip for four years, it’s my left (bad) leg that is strongest particularly when I’m doing one-legged exercises. The right wobbles all over the shop. It’s great getting that kind of feedback and confirmation. Perhaps I’ve been so aware of my left leg issues that I’ve overcompensated for years, working the left harder than the right and ending up with this imbalance?

It’s not exactly unlikely.

Anyway, a lot of these exercises are much harder than you think and but fun at the same time. I even quite enjoyed the step aerobics, although my terrible co-ordination became very obvious.

As one of my big ideas with this was to improve strength, balance and general muscle tone rather than weight loss, I think it’s going to work out really well.

In other Wii news, I may be a little obsessed with Tiger Woods PGA 10. Just a tiny bit. It’s so much fun!

Maybe I’m not ready for Pete Sampras yet…

Today is going to be a very odd day, I fear. Between vacation and sickness, seven members of my ten-strong team are absent. Including all my bosses. Hmm. And everything I was doing needed a meeting with my boss this morning, who is sick.

Epic goof off day ahead, then!

It’s probably a good thing. I’m totally shattered. Due to a lack of bad music (the music was pretty good and quiet enough that we didn’t have to yell over it so I didn’t get a headache) at the pub last night, I stayed out at knit night for way too long. Seriously, any Thursday that involves me rolling home at midnight is too late. It was fun, though.

This evening I am heading out to Montana’s for all you can eat ribs. It has to be done. There will be three of us attempting to eat our body weight in yummy, succulent ribs because we are rabid carnivores and sometimes these things are just necessary.

Tomorrow I shall be much healthier, I promise.

Apparently BBC Worldwide has confirmed that a Doctor Who game is in the worlds for the Wii, potential release date this Christmas. I just happen to own a Wii…

This is something that I have neglected to discuss. My Wii finally (!!) arrived on Friday and it is insanely fun. Of course, I had to go out and buy a better tennis game on Saturday because while the one it came with is fun, it just isn’t quite enough. So I have EA Grand Slam Tennis, which is brilliant. I have been happily losing in straight sets to various tennis legends, although I have finally found a lesser player (Kei Nishimori) who I can win a few points off before losing in straight sets. It’s much more encouraging. The game includes a fitness section, so it tracks the little person that I created to play as and estimates the calories that I’ve used while flailing around like a crazy person. It even lets me set fitness goals. So I have the dual goal of trying to burn calories and also one day win a game (not a match, just one little game) of tennis.

I’m starting small and building up in my goals.

I think that I’m going to get the MotionPlus attachment for sure to make this game even more fun.

The golf game that came with the Wii is also great fun and I’m going to be looking for an upgraded version of that. I want to play on real courses, not highly improbable islands. There appears to be a Tiger Woods PGA game that looks good – anyone know if it’s MotionPlus compatible?

Nintendo has also just brought out a package of racket games – including badminton and table tennis – that I may be looking into for added fun with flailing around.

The Wii Fit and balance board have just been dispatched so I’ll have those soon. I’m not that interested in any of the games where I can just sit around and play. Jumping around like a lunatic is much more fun and I don’t even notice that I’m getting some exercise. It’s working just as intended! I love my Wii πŸ˜€

TGIF!

Yesterday was the most stressed that I’ve felt since the run-up to the launch of the Massive Christmas Tracking Project in my old job. I don’t think I slept properly all week. There were a lot of wobbles through the day, times when I was trying to respond to five IM conversations at once and wanted to tell three people to go away, but thankfully it’s done and 85% of the Zombie Project went into production.

The other 15% is the bit that’s not done yet and we’re still trying to figure out how we can even make it work. None of the other stuff is dependent on it, though, so the deployment was unaffected.

We had a slight issue around security settings on a table that the DBA managed to fix this morning. One overnight processing job blew up this morning because an index had not been setup on a new materialised view, which was easily fixed by smiling nicely at the DBA.

So, the stuff is actually there on our production server. Sadly, most of it has not been tested yet so we don’t know whether it’s going to blow up yet. The business analyst for the project is sick and my boss is working from home so that she doesn’t infect us with her lurgy, so the testing will not happen until Monday at earliest.

I’m already feeling a bit more relaxed, though. After a day from hell I went out last night with my knit group and a night of food, laughter and knitting helped a lot. Hopefully I can catch up with some sleep over the weekend and feel much more able to cope with everything next week. I enjoy my job a lot, but I wish that I wasn’t quite so much of a perfectionist because a lot of my stress was pressure that I had put on myself. It always feels like the success (or not) of a project reflects a lot on my professionalism and I want to be bloody good at my job. Finding the middle ground between caring about how well I do my job and getting crazy obssessed by it is something I fail at totally.

Due to all the extra time that I put in yesterday, I’m leaving an hour early today. I shall probably be hitting the Gap for a new pair of casual trousers and then possibly slumping in Starbucks for a while with hot chocolate. Then I’m conflicted.

On the one hand, I could buy some grociers and then order pizza when I get home so that I don’t need to cook.

Or I could get some takeout from my favourite sushi place, except I really want some tempura based things with it and that doesn’t transport well because my house is so far from everywhere.

Or I could eat my sushi at the restaurant and pick up groceries on the way home, except I’d be eating alone.

Or I could do what I usually do when faced with these options, which is to feel guilty about not wanting to cook and therefore buy my groceries, go home and eat toast because I have no energy to cook. Hey, at least I prepared the toast myself!

There are good reasons why I nearly cried at work today

Today has been a Bad Day.

My back has been hurting a fair bit for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been waking up a lot through the night, finding myself lying flat on my back which only makes it worse. I’m suspecting that part of the reason for my back being so sore and stiff when I first get up is the sleep position issue. Last night I tried sleeping with a cushion to prop me a bit and another to cuddle-ish and it seemed to work. Or at least, I slept pretty well and wasn’t lying on my back or front when I woke up! And wasn’t *quite* as stiff as I’d been other mornings.

Unfortunately, shortly after work I started to get really bad stomach cramps and nausea, which didn’t make me feel amazing and my back then kicked in. Yay. Took several hours with herbal tea, heat pads and anti-spasmodics to get it under control and quell the urge to just double over and wish for death.

In the middle of this, we discovered a big issue with the project that I’m working on. That wouldn’t have normally got me massively upset, but the project is suppose to go for release on Thursday and the issue could mean that I miss my release. It’s that size of issue.

Plus, I haven’t got the first clue how to fix it because it was one of the few bits of the software that actually appeared to be working correctly. It’s all about which code gets assigned to data for which dates (yes, it’s a load for some huge, complicated database tables) and it’s wrong for some data. Gah.

We discovered this and my boss announced that it needed fixing just as I was feeling particularly ill. I didn’t take it well.

And that is why I nearly ended up in tears at work today.

Thankfully my stomach is settled and feeling fine now. So fine that I’ve got a huge craving for fish and chips or possibly sushi, but I’m playing it safe and having baked salmon with steamed veg instead. My back is…um…yes. And although I’m home, I’ll be spending the evening working because a whole bunch of data needs to be re-loaded for validation first thing tomorrow morning.

Really, this week can stop sucking. I’m serious. Why is food my first thought when things are going badly?

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