Aged pasta

Apr. 26th, 2015 11:16 am
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I've just found a large (several kilos) stash of dried pasta, which we're never going to use because of K's allergy to wheat gluten. It's several years past its "best before" date, but there's nothing obviously wrong with it. The local food banks &c won't take it (past best before) and I'd really rather not throw it away. Any suggestions? (I'm happy for someone in the Oxfordish area to collect, or potentially even to deliver it to someone.)

[ETA: now handed over to a someone else, who will ensure whatever's edible is eaten and whatever isn't is given to a suitable preschool.]
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It seems to be a couple of months since I last managed a weekly journal entry. Again. Oops. Mostly I think that's a question of letting the good be the enemy of writing anything at all, but there has actually been an element of doing stuff and getting genuinely exhausted. Which is actually a good thing (even if making me exhausted is currently not as difficult as would be ideal).

The leg-brace continues to make my life much easier. I'm still limited in a range of ways, but I can do so much more than I could a year ago, and it really feels like freedom. The consequent reduction in stress levels does rather seem to be helping with other things, too.

Not unrelated to my regaining the ability to actually do things, the idea of moving down to the southwest has rather rapidly gone from "nice idea" through pln to "we've had a couple of market appraisals of this house and looked at a few possible places in Cornwall". My target had been to get our house onto the market this week, which sadly isn't quite going to happen. But our storage unit is filling up nicely, and the house looks a lot more spacious with half the stuff removed from it. I'm sometimes finding it tricky to pace myself properly, but mostly I seem to be managing that alright, and the satisfaction (and relief) of making the house visibly tidier every day is immense.
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this entry of [personal profile] venta's made me think to mention an almost-opposite problem I've been having: I get ten yards out the front door and then realise I've forgotten my crutch. Pretty much every single time I leave the house. I mean, I've only been using the thing since June, so it's not as though you'd expect it to have become a habit by now. I think the problem is that I don't need it around the house (even at the beginning, it was always easier just to grab walls or furniture - our house is modestly sized and very full:), but it's a little frustrating to walk past it on the way out and then have to come back for it.
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My most recent post (back on the 25th of March) seems to have done something fairly fatal to my target of one per week. Oops.

I think the long gap actually is partly the fault of that post - it's an attempt at a serious subject, and it needs work (it isn't even finished, for goodness' sake), and I suffered from "but I ought to sort that out before starting anything else...".

One or two other things have happened here in the last ten weeks, though, which have contributed to the radio silence:

  • I switched ISP. Sort-of twice, but that's another matter for another post

  • My mother suffered a bad attack of sciatica, and [personal profile] stripey_cat and I decamped over to her house to look after her and the cats for a couple of weeks. This was a slight strain on everyone's nerves, but we all seem to have coped.

  • Unfortunately, that meant that the following couple of weeks were spent recovering from that, rather than getting the house as ready as possible for my current condition.

  • My knee operation finally happened (last Thursday). So I'm currently rather less mobile than I was a week ago, but hoping to be showing substantial improvement. It already hurts less than it did, which is good, although how much of that is directly due to the surgery and how much is that I've probably spent a total of less than five minutes per day standing up since the operation I couldn't say.

I'm going to make a serious effort to increase my posting frequency, preferably with the aid of some book-related stuff. And there should be a modest rant about ISPs - or, rather, about one particular ISP - coming up in the next day or two.
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[possible trigger warnings for victim-blaming and feelings of powerlessness. Also, possible TMI.]
This is a post about the problems of phrasing things in a way that avoids accidental discrimination and victim-blaming. As such, I've almost certainly messed up badly somewhere in a way that causes one or both of those problems. If you see a sentence where I've done that,
(a) Sorry, I didn't meant to cause any offence or harm
(b) If you point it out in the comments, I'll both be grateful and do my best to fix it
(c) I'm aware that (a) doesn't prevent it from causing hurt, and (b) isn't anyone's job but mine, but the combination is the best I can currently manage, because I'm human and I make mistakes

So, I was involved in an (entirely amicable) exchange on Twitter a couple of days ago with a couple people, both hard-working campaigners for disabled rights and justice, about a tweet I thought was problematic. Since Twitter isn't the best place for detailed discussion of complex things, I'm now trying to expand and clarify why I think that tweet was problematic.

So, the tweet in question said this:

To avoid any ambiguity: this was a tweet by one well-intentioned person, retweeted by another as encouragement for the fight to retain and improve disabled people's rights. Intellectually, I knew that when I saw it, but emotionally it felt like a punch in the face - both personally and on behalf of a lot of others. There are two separate issues, one of which I brought up at the time, while I tried to keep the other out of the discussion (because it was more personal, and much harder for me to keep a veil of rationality over). Call them "reality" and "perception" - both are real problems, but one is about a person's actual ability to fight while the other is about their internal perception of whether they've fought enough.

Firstly, perception. My disabilities are mostly physical; I suffer from mild depression mainly as a side-effect of the restrictions on what I can do. Mostly, it's under reasonably-effective pharmaceutical control, even when I'm not able to turn the pages of a book because it hurts too much. But the pills aren't perfect, and I have plenty of days when I do everything I physically can and still feel despairing because I don't think I've done enough. I may have written to my MP (though he's a Tory minister, and doesn't give a ****), signed a couple of petitions, and complained on the internet, but I didn't go to any demonstrations, or chain myself to anything - I haven't really fought, so I don't deserve tears, from myself or anyone else. Fighting that feeling when it comes entirely from the inside is hard enough, but seeing other people apparently saying it makes it much harder to reject. (Writing this now, I'm having a serious struggle not to delete the whole paragraph on the grounds that it's just self-pity from someone who deserves all the shit the government - via the DWP and "don't give" ATOS - keeps trying to pile on us.)

What about the second problem - people who are genuinely unable to do anything to fight for themselves? There are quite a few types of these, and possibly more of them than even a lot of rights campaigners realise; some can be hurt directly by such statements (and may well be high suicide risk already), while in other cases it will be their carers who see a statement saying that the person they fight to protect doesn't deserve tears. Consider:

  • Most obvious, but probably the smallest number of cases, "Locked-in" syndrome and similar problems. People who are literally unable to move a muscle voluntarily.

  • Those with serious Alzheimers, some kinds of stroke-damage, and other types of memory failure. By the end of her life, my grandmother was essentially incapable of expressing herself on any complex issue because ten words into the first sentence she'd forgotten what she was talking about. (Which was heartbreaking to watch; I suspect it's also a much more common problem among the elderly than initially seems to be the case, although obviously I don't have the numbers to back that up. But unless you know them very well, it's difficult to distinguish between someone who can no longer construct a coherent argument and someone who can do it, but then has the words flee before they can speak them. I have no idea how you'd collect the data, or what you could do to help the sufferers if I'm right. Also, I digress; I might try to persue this thought another time, though.)

  • People with serious learning disabilities of assorted kinds. Most notably many sufferers of Down's Syndrome, but also including various types of brain damage (both prenatal and due to later injury) and probably a lot of other things I don't know about. People who, for one reason or another, are unable to understand the issues at hand, or to defend their needs. Arguably, this category could be extended to include all children, both neurotypical and otherwise - would you ask a toddler to fight the DWP for their right to see friends, if the government decided children should all stay indoors? (You'd expect their parents to stand up for them, of course, but that's rather my point - some people are unable to defend their own rights, and that doesn't make them unworthy of those rights; it doesn't mean they can't cry when those rights are lost.)

  • People with various kinds of mental health problem. This is in some ways the most complex category. It's also probably the one that contains the highest number of "working age" adults - the sort of people that the DWP, Daily Mail, and other two-minute-haters are happiest to pick on. (It's hard to persuade anyone that pensioners or children "deserve" to suffer, because people instinctively regard them as unable to look after themselves, at least to some extent.) But someone with really crushing depression, or severe social anxiety disorder, or a range of other conditions, may well find it impossible to stand up for themselves. Depending on their disorder, that might be because they are certain that they deserve to be treated vilely by organisations like ATOS[1], or because they are literally afraid of communicating with others, or all sorts of other reasons. But all of those reasons are real, and mean that while they don't fight for what they need (never mind want), they do have the right to cry for what they've lost - and we should cry with them.

[1] known in this household as "don't give" ATOS, when we have to mention them

I've not yet said anything about how best to avoid this kind of thing, partly because (as so often) preventing the problem is much harder than identifying it. I've also got a nagging feeling that I've left out something that belonged in this first (part of the) post. But I'm going to stop and post it now, because I've been working on this for half the day, I'm emotionally exhausted from writing it, and I strongly suspect that if I don't post it now, I'll never post it at all.
tigerfort: (Default)
I have a letter from the hospital saying I have an appointment on the 15th! My excitement decreased rather, however, when I realised that (a) the appointment is for an assessment by a member of the surgical team, not the actual operation, and (b) the 15th in question is of April, not March, and thus rather further away than I had initially thought.
Ho hum.

Other post in the last few days includes:

  • a replacement lithium battery with the slightly confusing warning "Use finger sacks of non-metallic tweezers" on the packaging

  • a vastly improved new-style letter from TV Licensing. Rather than the old "you are evil, and we will have you destroyed by giant radioactive lawyers" style, this one says "you are currently listed as not having a TV; please confirm this at [url] or by ringing [freephone number]. If you do have a TV, and no license, you can get one by [list of options]". Much more civilised.

  • this year's bill from Thames Water, which has a change of occupier form on the outside of the envelope. A little touch, but a sensible, useful one.

tigerfort: (Default)
It seems to be a month since I last posted. Sigh. I kept meaning to, and then I kept letting the good be the enemy of getting started.

I did get my in-person triage for the knee, which basically consisted of a consultant physio observing that it looked pretty bad and was obviously affecting me quite a bit and it would probably be a good thing to get on and do something about it. Then it turned out that they don't have a bit of paper from my GP confirming that I've been told I can go to any hospital I like and nonetheless inexplicably chosen the nearest and most convenient one[1]. The hospital has therefore sent a letter to my GP, because they need such a bit of paper before they're allowed to treat me - the primacy of patient choice and all that. They're not allowed to take any kind of statement from me to that effect, because reasons; I don't need to sign it or see it or anything, and indeed wouldn't know that it existed if only it did exist.

[1]because after all, I might want to make a much longer and more difficult journey in order to get treatment for my serious mobility problem. The fact that the Nuffield is a world-famous research centre specialising in this kind of thing just adds some icing to the cake.

As a side-effect of feeling bad about not posting, I've not been reading anything here for the last week or so, either; I'll try to catch up, and might even try to post useful comments.
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Today I had my "telephone triage appointment" for my knee. This consisted of someone ringing me and arranging an in-person triage appointment for about three weeks' time.

Presumably, this keeps the time anyone spends on a particular waiting list below some magic threshold, thus making sure that they don't get their funding slashed.
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I seem to have only posted twice in the last three-and-a-bit months. Oops. Nonetheless, we ait'n't dead.

What's happened here in the meantime? Well, not very much, really. I finally got my knee scanned in early December, and am now awaiting a triage appointment with the relevant surgical department (torn cartilage and cysts that may be pressing on things). In the meantime I continue to sit around too much, eat too much, not get enough exercise, and have concerns about my slowly-but-steadily rising weight and blood pressure.

Resolutions-wise, I obviously didn't manage weekly postings in November or December. I also still didn't post my new-book-lists for 2011 or 2012 (to which I can now add 2013). However, I didn't buy any second-hand books, either, so at least that one went pretty well. I'm planning to try and retain that habit, and return to weekly posting, this year. I'm also going to make an attempt to get back up to reading two new books each week (I managed 55 in 2013, well down from the previous couple of years). While I'm about it, I'll continue to try to ensure that an acceptable proportion of those books have female authors. (Of 2013's 55, 27 had female solo-authors, two were co-written by a husband and wife team, and there was one mostly-male anthology with a couple of stories by women in it; near enough exactly half.)
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It, um, seems to be over a month since I last posted. I regret to say that I've spent pretty much all of that time either sitting or lying down. Stopping the problematic medication seems to have returned my blood potassium to non-heart-stopping levels, but hasn't made a blind bit of difference to my knee, which continues to get worse. So for the last couple of months, I've had full use of exactly one limb, considerably limiting my activities. (I can't even hop everywhere, because that would rapidly leave me with no properly functioning limbs, and probably cause me to fall over a lot and injure myself elsewhere as well.)

Odd though it may sound, the problem with my knee is actually a major factor in my not posting. A couple of years ago I rearranged my desk so that I needed to stand to type, rather than sitting. Which was better for me, under normal circumstances - I both used more calories while at the computer, and was less inclined to spend ages doing something and then notice that my arms hurt. Now that standing is painful, it's less than ideal....

I'm currently (finally) waiting to be given an appointment for a scan, which is what I wanted from the beginning. Allegedly the typical wait time is six weeks, but we'll see what happens.
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Hmm. Not all is perfect on the resolution front, it would seem:

1) Not much improvement here; only two posts each in July and August, and this is the first for September.

2) Two-thirds of the way through the year, I've still not posted my "new books" lists for 2011 or 2012.

3) I've only strictly bought one second-hand book that I can think of since the end of June. But I'm not quite sure how to count things from the £2 book-shop; it seems likely that what they sell is remaindered stock for which the author is getting little or no royalty, so I suspect the book I bought there should also count. On the other hand, if you'd told me last year that I would be upset about not having reduced my S/H book habit below one per month, I'd have thought it unlikely.

3a) I've not actually disposed of the books listed here, or sorted out any more for disposal. This is at least partly due to my general lack of activity, which in turn is due to the problems with my knee that I've almost totally failed to post anything about.
tigerfort: (Default)
Um, it seems to be nearly July, and thus about time for the next assessment of how well I'm keeping up with these:

1) I was doing alright on the DW/LJ posting front until about the end of April, when it all went a bit whoops. There were only two posts in May; this is the third in June, but the first two were on the same day. I'll try to do better, guvnor.

2) Nope, still not posted either of those. Must work harder.

3) I think I've bought a total of about eight or nine second-hand books since February. All but two of those are by dead people (and unavailable new), thus allowed. One of the other two is by John Scalzi (possible pass[a]), and the other is a copy of the "author's preferred text" of Neverwhere, for comparison with the copy I bought new back when it first came out. I have been reading lots from the library, however. Definitely a tick next to this one.

3a) I've only disposed of a couple of books since the big batch in February, but I have sorted out another (more modest) pile to be listed and passed on.

[a] Scalzi is no Rowling, financially, but is a NYT bestseller, and would probably approve of the idea of giving money to the poorest authors first
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After preparing my install media, I realised that whereas I'd have configured the plug via serial console, I was going to need to attach a monitor to the emergency replacement. That's fine, I have a spare monitor. Unfortunately, the monitor only has a DVI-D input, and the computer only has an HDMI output.

Out I went again, to discover that a suitable adaptor was not to be had in town. So I went to Oxford, to get one from Maplins (the last resort for things you absolutely have to have right now). Picked up what I wanted, went to the till, drove back home to get my wallet....

But the second time round, I left Oxford with the adaptor I needed and one of Maplins' Raspberry Pi kit packs ("everything you need" - well, except for an actual case to put the circuit board in, for crying out loud) on the grounds that the RPi was probably my first choice for a long-term replacement anyway, so why not go straight to that?

Basic Pi set-up is very friendly, and I soon found myself with a choice to make: install the full mess that I used on the plug (postfix, dovecot, squirrel-mail[1], etc) which I've done before but took some time to get right, or try "Citadel", which is touted by various (on the Pi forums and elsewhere) as an easy-to-configure alternative. Citadel installed quickly, and basic configuration was as easy as promised. I eventually worked out how to allow users aliases (that's under "change contact information", along with their physical address and phone numbers. Obviously.), but discovered to my regret (and astonishment) that not only does Citadel not default to sending email as plain text only, it doesn't support it as an option (although allegedly such an option may be in progress). Emails can only be sent as dual plaintext/html mime messages. It also doesn't appear to have an option to turn off html processing for incoming email, which is ... not what I expect from open source projects; perhaps my personal acquaintances have led me to expect a higher level of security consciousness than is actually normal?

However, it's up, and email can come in (I'm not sure about going out), and that'll do for now. In another week I'll have some time to fiddle and get things set up more to my satisfaction (including a shift to postfix, etc, if necessary), but right now I can go flop (and then go and do other things).

[1] for the account-holders whose paws dislike non-web-mail clients. Another potential issue with Citadel is that I think it may actually make it much harder for me to use my preferred email client.

Oh, f*ck

Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:31 pm
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Last night, the Sheevaplug that functions as my house mail/web server crashed hard. It's done that a couple of times before, due to overheating, and has rebooted happily once I've let it cool down. Not this time. I'm pretty sure overheating (thus ultimately me, for forgetting about the need to let it have some airflow for cooling) is to blame on this occasion, but there's no indication of activity except for the power light - the status indicator doesn't come on, and it doesn't respond to network or serial traffic.

I'm thus currently burning a Debian netinst CD for a hurried conversion of the one old machine I didn't get rid of recently into (hopefully) a functional if much larger, noisier, and more power-hungry replacement. Of course, the last time I did any meaningful Debian configuration was when I set up the plug, around three years ago. I wonder how much I can remember in a real hurry....

ETA: and when I say "currently burning", what I actually mean is "about to go to the shops because all the writeable media in the house are in fact dead of old age so that I can burn".

ETA2: this also, of course, means that I'm currently only getting mail that's sent to Chiark; anything else will go on hold (if your email provider is sane) or into the bit bucket (otherwise).
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It, um, seems to be a while since I last posted. Oops. Obviously, my excuses are impeccable (a couple of weeks spent in Cornwall with K's parents, then back here for ten days or so during which I mostly (a) slept and (b) made sure we had everything we needed for the next week, which was spent on our first holiday since about 2004), but since I'd already left myself an out in the form of easy ready-made posts that I didn't do anything about I think that's probably a draw at best.

But we did get to have a holiday, and we both enjoyed it, even if we have both basically gone flop on getting home. So there'll be a post about that (possibly with pictures, if I'm organised*) once I have some energy. Probably some posts about other stuff, too.

*stop laughing at the back, there. And at the front, come to that.
tigerfort: (Default)
According the weather forecast (both yesterday and at present), it's currently raining hard here, and has been since about 0900. I'm pretty sure all that white stuff on the ground isn't rain, although I'll grant that at least they got the chemical composition right.
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Having made it a couple of months into the year, I thought I should have a look at how I was doing with maintaining my fairly trivial resolutions.

1) Post (at least) once per week: mostly successful. I have missed one week, but so far only the one.

2) Total fail, so far. I've still not posted the lists of books I read in 2011 or 2012.

3) Cut down on S/H book purchases. I think I've bought a total of four books in charity shops this year, two of them written by millionaires and one of the others several decades out of print. I have also acquired two books (both OOP and written by dead people) from the Seacourt booksforfree and three from ewx, but that's still only one per week on average.

3a) I've also been organised enough to dispose of over a hundred books I'm not going to read again (well, and a few duplicates I don't need), helping somewhat on the "piles of books everywhere" front. There should be another batch getting listed soon.


Oct. 20th, 2012 01:15 am
tigerfort: (Default)
Oh good; the washer in the cold tap has just split. It's one in the morning and (naturally) I don't have a spare in the house - even if I'm physically able to dismantle the tap, which isn't a given. Since this house doesn't have a cold-water tank, not only can I not use the cold taps, I can't use anything else that requires water either - if I want to go to the loo, I'm going to need to remember to go to the kitchen first to turn the water back on so that I can flush.

On the plus side, the babblingly superstitious part of my brain has accepted this as October's disaster (there was one in June, and one in August, and everyone knows such things come in threes, so clearly there needed to be an October one to complete the alternate-months pattern) and has therefore stopped spraying existential dread over the rest of me, which is quite relaxing. Relatively speaking. Nonetheless, aargh.
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It would appear to have become Monday sometime in the last couple of hours. Unfortunately, I've still not actually managed any of the tasks I had planned for the weekend.
tigerfort: (Default)
In an ideal world, I would have been tidying at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and asleep at 4 this morning, rather than the other way around. On the other hand, I'm so grateful that I've actually managed to get some tidying done that it seems trivial to carp about a mere inversion of the usual hours of sleep.


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