The next thing is Not The Leaders' Speech. Which, the way things are going, will be in the sodding directory by Spring.
Soooo I just got a note inviting me to speak at a seminar, about why blokechain is pants, to a small number of people who have money. I'm gonna charge for my time of course, but I can sell books there. Which means physical paperbacks I bring in a box.
Now, one of the great things about this self-publishing racket in TYOOL 2017 is 0 capital expenditure. Has anyone here done this, or anything like it? Was it worth it? Did you end up with a box of books under your bed forever?
The books are $3.03 each to print, but all author copies come from America (because Createspace is dumb), at some ruinous shipping rate to the UK. Assuming Kindle and CreateSpace pay promptly I'll have a pile of money on September 30, but I sorta don't right now.
Does anyone have suggestions as to how to approach this? Doing a talk with a box of nonfiction books - good idea, bad idea, no idea?
(I'll no doubt do a pile of flyers for people who haven't got cash on them right there. Who carries cash in the UK these days? Less people than you might think.)
Have chaired first thing - health spokesperson Q&A with Liz Barker, Joan Walmsley, and Norman Lamb. I think it went quite well. Have also done MOAR aideing, HSLD AGM, and am now preparing for GLEEEEEEE.
I voted on some stuff, but none of it was controversial.
I have also undertaken to do a post (after conf) on How To Fill In a Speaker's Card, with examples. I am looking forward to doing this. Right, must dash...
Hello RGL crew! It's that time of year again where we explore the new entries in the Good Beer Guide. Which means a whole bunch of new pub articles for you to peruse at your leisure:
- The Albion (plenty of real cider in Kingston)
- The Angel (the Wetherspoons close to Angel tube station)
- The Antwerp Arms (a community-owned pub in Tottenham)
- The Black Horse (dog-friendly pub on the Kingston/Norbiton borders)
- The Brewhouse and Kitchen (microbrewery in Highbury)
- The Cricketers (Stonegate pub beside Epsom Common)
- Cronx (bar in the Croydon Boxpark, run by the Cronx brewery)
- Draft House Old Street (fashionable outpost of the ever-growing chain)
- The Dundee Arms (gloomily lit, narrow pub in Bethnal Green)
- The Flag (large pub by Watford Junction station)
- The Greenwood Hotel (huge Wetherspoons in Northolt)
- The Greystoke (Greene King pub on the Ealing/West Acton border, but with a better beer selection than that would immediately suggest)
- The Hope (sounds like a pleasant place to watch the cricket in Richmond)
- Jono's (oddly-decorated pub in Ilford)
- The Midland Hotel (stained glass and hexagons in Hendon)
- Mirth, Marvel and Maud (see picture above - an Antic pub and performance space, in a converted cinema in Walthamstow)
- The Mitre (more stained glass, this time in North Sheen)
- The Mossy Well (Wetherspoons in Muswell Hill featuring a large model cow)
- The North Star (bare lightbulbs in Ealing)
- The Northcote (above average pizza in Leytonstone)
- The Shelverdine Goathouse (Antic pub in South Norwood)
- The Taproom (deep fried courgettes in Woolwich)
Next week there'll be some non-pub updates! Stay tuned...
Pain Management Clinic appointment on 18th October can't come fast enough. Stupid arthritis of the spine pressing on my nerves.
Then, because I was going to be stage aide on F6 The Paris Agreement, Zoe (who was chairing it) & I went to plan the session - deciding what order to call speakers, etc. When it came to The Paris Agreement debate itself, as I got on stage I suddenly realised I had parted my hair the wrong side, and every time I looked at the speaker I was presenting a curtain of hair to the audience. Also, if I needed further incentive to lose a little weight, I can only just fit my ample derriere into the chair provided...
I grabbed a (rather manky) toastie, and then lurked in the back of the First timers' Q&A session, mainly to check that the sort of answers I have been giving when newbies ask me stuff had some congruence with official answers. Then there was more debate planning, this time for F10 The Natural Environment. Apparently while I was doing this I missed some barnstorming speeches in the Impact of Brexit on Public Services debate. Still, as I was Hall Aide rather than Stage Aide for the Natural Environment motion, I actually got to vote in the debate - my first policy vote of the conference. I voted in favour of the amendment, then in favour of the motion as amended, as did pretty much everyone else.
Then, while everyone else was at the rally, I had Safeguarding Training - compulsory for FCC members - followed by a quick dash to the pub to obtain food. We dragged a journo along with us and talked to him about trains. I think he secretly quite liked being at conference. Then there was the First timers' Reception -this is another thing I have to do as a committee member. Go and wander round looking approachable and asking people how they are finding conference. I think I was actually helpful to some people - showing them a speaker's card and explaining how to fill it in and things.
Then, for the first time ever, I was inveigled into going to the lib dem Disco. It started with headbanging to rage against the machine and ended with a drunken impromtu rendition of Poisoning Pigeons In The Park on the street outside.
All in all a reasonably successful day. Today is a bit less full on, although I do have ALL THE LGBT+ THINGS tonight... Now have to dash to the venu to get to (you guessed it) an FCC meeting.
Second book of Saunder's A Book of the Commonweal series (that's what's on the books, calling it a trilogy feels a bit weird, since I have vague recollections of a fourth book on the way). it takes plce not long after the events in the first book. I don't think it's ever explicit, but I'm thinking "weeks to a few months".
We're primarily following Edgar (occasionally just "Ed") who starts the book just waking up from a coma, feeling very weird indeed. And there's a really good reason for that. It turns out that Edgar has spent most of his life having his magical power completely consumed by a metaphysical (and probably also physical) parasite. And now it's been taken out because that's what you do with parasites. And now there's a problem, because Edgar is too old for traditional wizard training to work. But too powerful to not be trained, otherwise things like "death" (and occasionally "mayhem") happens.
And so an alternative is found. We follow Edgar and his fellow students through approximately the first year of training, learning more (much more) about how magic works, as well as how the Commonweal works.
This is Saunders' debut (as far as I'm aware) book. My recollection of this, when it came to re-read it, was "stuffs happened" and that was pretty much it. The book is... dense. Informationally speaking, that is. I can't, to be honest, tell you that I'm sure if the narrative voice is first person or just extremely tight third, but it's one, the other, or switching between those.
Anyway, this is a book set in the Commonweal. And, I hear you ask, what is one of those. Well, it would've been cool if there was an explanatory chapter, but there is't. So, as far as I have inferred, the Commonweal is the creation of the Wizard Laurel, about 500 years ago, as a general "I am so fed up" reaction to the last, what, several many thousands (hundreds of thousands, possibly) years of sorcerous rule (basic pattern: "magic user gets powerful, kills the previous ruler; mass sacrifices and brain squishing ensues", then repeat with the magic user from the previous sentence switched to the ruler position). So, the obvious solution is something that pretty much looks like representative democracy, with a heavy dose of enforced resource equality.
Now, some of that Commonweal information is gleaned from the next two books. Where was I? Oh, yes, as we start the book, it seems as if one of the neighbouring "we keep cycling through previous ruler and mass sacrifices" areas has decided that it is Really Time to enter the Commonweal, in force, and we get a first row seat to the experience of a small band of brave people trying to force the invaders back (or, as the case MAY be, keep them outside the border).
All in all, pretty good reading.
This is the third book in Sanderson's "first Mistborn trilogy" (there now seems to be ore than one, which is fine, I should try to remember looking into perhaps get hold of the first one). All in all, this is a series that plays on your expectations, but not in what I would consider a malicious way.
I did find it quite interesting to notice the things I did and did not remember from the first time I read the trilogy, there were vast chunks that had just left my mind, but other things were relatively as I expected. Memory says I last read this some 5-6 years ago.
A linear extrapolation says 124.5 books by year's end. August was pretty much a miss in the "reads lots" department, with travel that was full of sufficiently interesting distractions that, well, this ain't just been a month for reading (also, perhaps, signalled by being about two week's late wit hte monthly summary).
So there's going to be a mini debate on the suspension of standing orders, with a maximum of six speakers with a maximum of two minutes' speaking time each. It's going to be chaired by Mary Reid, who is absolutely scrupulous about debate balance and fairness. Whatever happens, I think it's going to be interesting.
Other things that happened included boring stuff like checking everyone knew which debates they were chairing/aideing/hall aideing, people covering stuff that other people could suddenly not do (I'm going to be chairing a spokespeople Q&A session now as well as a debate), a tour of the venue so we know where all the backstage bits you guys don't get to see are, and then chair's training, which is always huge amounts of fun.
For the first time I got one with absolutely no clue as to what the problem I was going to be faced with was, and I think I did OK. SO I'm a tiny bit less nervous about debate chairing...
Now off to have breakfast, and then going to the hall for The Contentious Vote.
If you're in Bournemouth and you spot me, do say hi. My hair is bright purple this year, and today I am wearing this t-shirt.
Walking up to Beckman Auditorium (aka the wedding cake) from the south.
( As it happened. )
In reality, there were some impromptu science meetings at Caltech, one of which I attended in the morning. I slipped out just before noon, because I had someone to meet.
I headed down from Beckman to South Mudd to see my former JPL postdoctoral supervisor, from back in those heady days when I was still a lab scientist, for lunch. I hadn’t seen him since 2006. I eventually remembered where his Caltech office was. I could’ve found the JPL one much more easily, but it would have required me to check in and get a badge, which seemed a lot of faff for lunch. Besides, there are nicer places to eat in Pasadena. Once in the correct corridor, I spotted his technician hovering outside the door, plus another UK person from the physical chemistry community whom I’d never met but knows the bloke pretty well. There were lots of smiles and hugs, and we decided to head down to a restaurant over on Lake Street.
We had a very pleasant hour of conversation, reminiscing and catching up. I had a shock on hearing that their children, whom I remembered as children or young teenagers, were now grown up and had careers of their own. Of course I knew that would have happened in the intervening decade-plus, but it’s not until you actually speak together about these things that they’re driven home to you. They were equally shocked on learning that Humuhumu has started school - and has a younger sibling! The bloke and I had been remiss in our communication, clearly. We talked of science, of course, and of politics and its effects on research direction, and of our worries about the future due to Brexit and the current US administration.
I am still kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo. You must instead picture me with a group of men: one starting to disappear into the frailty of old age, peering out earnestly from large-framed glasses, one solid and grey-haired and mostly silent with twinkling blue eyes, and one cheeky-grinned middle-aged bear of a chap with a shock of brown hair and a beard. All sitting together in a booth of a Japanese restaurant, eagerly shoveling the contents of bento boxes into our faces, occasionally bursting into roars of laughter while cheesy ‘90s music played in the background.
We parted with promises not to let another eleven years pass before we met again. I was left with the warm glow you get from (re)connecting with friendly, kind, intelligent people. It was a lovely way to buffer against the excitement and strain of what was to come on Friday morning.
Chilling out in my JPL t-shirt before the end of mission.
I made Mike a card:
(I've only had the book on paper quilting for a year, after all!) Worth clicking to embiggen, ifIdosaysomyself.
Mike very kindly did all the mucking out.
(While he did so, I took Jo to the vet. Over the last week or so, she's been occasionally yelping or whining, but it's got more frequent and last night she had a particularly bad spell that involved her making a noise for a minute or so. The vet couldn't find anything particularly, but did think she was maybe not *quite* so keen to take her weight on one of her front legs. It may also be a neck thing, although she did have a good feel around there. Short walks and more painkiller than usual for a week, and we'll see how she goes on.)
We had a quiet lunch at home.
(During which I took some ibuprofen for a headache and Mike had a migraine pill)
After lunch, and Jo's walk, we headed off to darkest Sussex to look at a horse.
He's called Thunder Joe, a name which is definitely going to be unused in full.
We liked him enough to ride, and it seemed to go quite well.
Even if it did hail while I was on him, and we were in a field with overly-long grass, which is one of my least favourite places to ride.
We'll go back and see him again next week, with riding instructor, using a school that they can borrow just down the road.
If riding instructor answers her text messages....
Afterwards, we headed home again.
I'm not sure how the day has been utterly exhausting, but we're both worn out now!
We had a lovely special anniversary dinner...
(Party-left-over soup from the freezer, and the other half of the loaf of bread that neither of us ate much of for lunch
...and now we're on the sofa with a bottle of wine.
Thankfully, Mike did a run to France yesterday!
If I'm completely honest though, immediately upon finishing I thought of this scene with Universe 1 and Universe A Farnsworth:
It was decided that it was fitting for Yoda to be allowed to direct us to JPL.
JPL tour badge with Curiosity on the front. We got to keep these.
( Tour, with side trips down memory lane )