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Jun. 2nd, 2015 @ 11:46 am Should I keep using moisturising cream over summer?
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Thanks to everyone who suggested using moisturising cream over winter, it really helped avoid cracking on my hands! Is there any benefit to using it over summer if I don't see any immediate problem?

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Jun. 1st, 2015 @ 03:28 pm Paid car tax with six hours to go. Because it's the future, I don't need a physical tax disk now!
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Paid car tax with six hours to go. Because it's the future, I don't need a physical tax disk now!

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Jun. 1st, 2015 @ 11:24 am What do you have for breakfast?
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What do you have for breakfast?

Read more...Collapse )

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Jun. 1st, 2015 @ 10:06 am Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
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Lord of Light used to be one of my most favourite books. Set on a world populated by a one-way colony ship from Earth, people acquire various scientific-flavoured magic powers and set up as Hindu gods, bolstered by body-transferring equipment which makes gods immortal and humans reincarnate according to the gods interpretation of the karma and caste system. Many other things parallel Hindu traditions, such as energy beings on the planet playing the role of demons.

The story is the story of one who overthrows them. It's fairly short but dense, feeling like classic epic fantasy of a main character who is Really Special. But the whole thing of gods striding about, being overthrown, and discussing theology really appealed to me.

Now I can see a lot more of the problematic aspects as always happens with books I used to love :(

I'm also interested in what I saw and missed in the worldbuilding. It's suggested that the crew were originally Christian, and mostly seem to not care much about any underlying truth to the religion other than the one they've made themselves, but the main character (and the author?) hints that although he appropriates Buddhist teachings for his own purposes, he thinks there's more to them, and one of the characters remains Christian, and opposes the gods hierarchy to bad effect.

However, it seemed the culture was originally Indian (the name of the ship was "Star of India"), and people seem to have typically-Indian body types. And I wonder, is it only a few of the crew who came from a Christian culture? Or the crew were, but the passengers weren't? Or the Indian culture was completely artificially induced by the gods?

ETA: The first paragraph of the wikipedia entry is awesome: "Zelazny's close friend and fellow science fiction/fantasy author, George R. R. Martin (who later reused the names "Lord of Light" and "Sam" for major characters in A Song of Ice and Fire), describes in his afterword to Lord of Light how Zelazny once told him that the entire novel sprang from a single pun (or spoonerism): Then the fit hit the Shan."

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May. 18th, 2015 @ 02:21 pm Beer festival tomorrow (Tues)
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I am on holiday for a week from weds, going to Leipzig with liv, ceb, etc. which is awesome!

But means I will miss most of the beer festival. But I am going to go tomorrow evening (tues) while I have a chance, even if it's raining :) Is anyone else likely to be there?

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May. 7th, 2015 @ 12:26 pm Voting
I voted on the way to work, at Arbury Community Centre on Campkin Road. It was behind a cafe, which was new to me, but was clearly marked and friendly and efficient.

There was no problem with not having a polling card (which legally there shouldn't be, but I was all prepared to argue if necessary), he didn't even ask, just asked my address.

Thank you to everyone who helped out with the election in any way.

I think it could be clearer that the tellers are volunteers for the parties with no official role and you don't _have_ to say anything to them (even though, it's usually good to). They're often the first person you speak to and usually helpful, but might look official when they're not quite. But that's a fairly minor quibble. And having volunteers from most of the major parties who are watching and politely cooperating both sets a good example, and makes it harder for anyone to get away with shenanigans.

I'm also grateful to all the things that go _right_. There are often rumbles of threats of disenfranchisement in various ways (making some polling stations harder to use than others, making it harder for some people to register than others, etc). But we have a system which is better than most countries (I think?) in being fairly reliable -- can we PLEASE keep it that way and screw it up? There are definitely improvements to make, but can we look for things that will make voting more accessible for people who have problems at the moment (problems registering without an address, problems being intimidated by family, problems getting to a polling station, etc), not just randomly throwing away all the good features in favour of some ill-thought-out internet-poll thing...

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May. 7th, 2015 @ 12:15 am New phone
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I got my new Nexus 5. It arrived quite quickly despite not being next-day delivery.

On impulse I got shiny-white instead of shiny-black, mostly to distinguish it from almost-identical-looking phones of my nearest and dearest :) It's actually more of a domino, white on the back and black on the front, which I don't think looks as elegant. But it looks fine.

Everything installed fairly easily! I transferred across most of my most-used apps just by installing them and didn't have to do anything else. Using google is problematic, but makes this sort of thing really easy.

I was just in time to recharge some of my remote ingress portals before they decayed, yay :)

Also, I can get text messages again.

Also, agh, apparently the update that failed to install on my old phone maybe saved me from SMS-combined-with-Hangouts :(

Also, yay, all the buttons work, as does the edges of the screen :)

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May. 5th, 2015 @ 10:29 pm Code Geass
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Half way through season 1 of the Code Geass anime box set dvds. Random thoughts, without much spoilers:

Thank you to Alex for recommending it, it's exactly the sort of thing I like.

It makes much more sense than it sounds like! The premise is like, two paragraphs with national politics and magic and giant robots and resistance groups and high-school politics and chessmaster protagonist and antagonists all in one thing and sounds ridiculous. But when I actually watch it, it flows very naturally. The new Britannian empire has conquered most of the world, including Japan. Partly by using the next generation of military hardware, giant robots. The protagonist is a minor Britannian noble at high school in Japan with a grudge against the emperor. He gets caught in up the japanese resistance. He also acquires a mysterious power from a secret research project in a resistance operation gone wrong, which he exploits ruthlessly and effectively. The characters are about 18 (I think), at just the age when it makes sense they might both be in high school and also in the military or secretly in the resistance.

But also, everyone's uniforms (military and school) are ridiculously sexy all the time for no reason.

It does chessmaster strategists ever so well. There's a common problem of _saying_ someone is a clever strategist, but everything they do is basically magic "hi, I did stratego-babble and now we're winning". But a surprisingly high amount of the time, it manages the magic sweet spot of me going "oh, of course, that was clever" when something happens.

And the worldbuilding hangs together too. You see two people in a giant robot, and you immediately know which is better than tanks but worse than the other giant robot and how much of a chance it stands. Good pilots are clearly more effective but not magical.

It's interesting to see what genre conventions are new to me and I consciously notice and which ones I don't. Presumably Britannians are supposed to look western and the Japanese are supposed to look Japanese? But I can't tell by looking between western and japanese and indian (?). It's hard to imagine a british animation about britain being conquered by a foreign empire, and primarily about characters from that empire living in britain.

OTOH, I'm very curious to know more but not as emotionally engaged as I might be -- fewer and fewer things make me genuinely get excited about the fate of the characters. And I'm worried it will descend into moral greyness and things not mattering (but don't tell me I know there's still a lot of plot changes coming up and I'm going to watch it without wanting to know more).

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May. 5th, 2015 @ 08:42 pm Ms Marvel Vol II
Squeee! Wolverine is so adorable!

I was also surprised, mostly pleasantly, by the call to action that Generation Y aren't useless, but can stand up and fix the world.

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May. 2nd, 2015 @ 07:33 pm Phone
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I dropped my phone! Email me instead of texting or phoning because this is the 21st century because my phone screen is disastrously cracked and I might be able to see that I've received a text, but will be forlorn and sad that the touchscreen doesn't respond so I have no way of reading it.

But I think I'm about due an upgrade anyway, so I went and bought a Nexus 5. And a fancy wallet that makes it look like a leather book. I was good and got the £10 version that also doubles as a stand, not the $99 version that's 20% nicer :) And I didn't hold out for one with little brass clasps at the corners :)

Where's the dividing line between "doing what I think looks good" and "not being too hipster-y"...?

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