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17th-Sep-2017 10:39 pm - August Books & September Fun
morganmuffle: (tea)
I am finding September challenging in many ways. The whole back into termtime activities coupled with work continuing to be crazy busy with the prospect of it only really getting MORE busy steadily over the next... well I was going to say few months but probably the better part of a year.

But that's not a very good excuse for posting my August books on the 17th September. (Though my September list is going to be VERY short so maybe I should put them together!)

What else have I been doing? Open House London on Saturday involved some very beautiful sniffer dogs and Custom House. On Friday I saw God's Own Country in the cinema and you really should all go and see it and support it as an indie LGBT love story (and oh it really is every bit as hopeful as they say, Brokeback is a stupid thing to compare it to)

I saw Lady Day a couple of week's ago! Which was amazing too, Audra McDonald really disappeared into the role which was incredible to see. It's a slightly strange show in that really it's just a very long impression but it's so spectacularly well done and Billie had such an interesting life that it's hard to quibble with.

Going even further back I got to try out Mail Rail and the newly refurbished Postal Museum (teeny tiny underground trains that used to transport letters around London) and that was pretty cool and will make a great unusual day out when they iron out some of the engineering kinks. I also went with some work people to Banqueting House to try out their Lost Palace Audio Guide around the site of Whitehall Palace which was very clever and a lot of fun though I'm rather afraid that the group I was with slightly collapsed in giggles at the Cock Fighting section (there was a movement censor in the wooden audio unit we had and earlier it had been a sword but when they asked us to imagine it was a Cock and grasp it firmly with both hands and then shake it... well I made the mistake of meeting the eye of my bosses boss and and that was it)

So I've not been doing nothing! Just in between those things quietly freaking out about life in general. So nothing out of the usual.

Anyway. Books!

  • Orlando - Virginia Woolf
  • Screwtape Proposes a Toast and other pieces - C.S.Lewis
  • The Sun, The Moon & The Stars - Steven Brust
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  • Giants at the End of the World - Johanna Sinisalo & Toni Jerrman (eds)
  • Shylock Is My Name - Howard Jacobson
  • The Gap of Time - Jeanette Winterson
  • Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of the Island - L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Windy Poplars - L.M. Montgomery

  • Anne's House of Dreams - L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery
  • Rainbow Valley - L.M. Montgomery
  • Rilla of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery


August reviews )
nanila: Your plastic pal who's fun to be with (star wars: k-2so)
[personal profile] emelbe and I set our alarms for 02:30 and 02:35 respectively, just to be sure we got up in time to walk over to Caltech for the end of mission. We dressed and poured coffee into ourselves, made sure we had our badges, and got out the door in plenty of time to arrive before 04:00, the official start of the event and NASA TV coverage.

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Walking up to Beckman Auditorium (aka the wedding cake) from the south.

As it happened. )
nanila: YAY (me: abby)
Thursday was meant to be a quiet day, since we all knew we had to be up and at Caltech by 4 AM for the thing we’d all been preparing for: the actual end of mission.

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.

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Chilling out in my JPL t-shirt before the end of mission.
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
On Wednesday morning, [personal profile] emelbe and I saddled up and drove over to the Jet Propulsion Lab for a tour. We put her trusty sat nav on, and I noticed that instead of a car, the little icon was an x-wing. She turned the audio on. “Driven well you have,” said Yoda. “In a quarter of a mile, turn left. It is your destiny.”

It was decided that it was fitting for Yoda to be allowed to direct us to JPL.

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JPL tour badge with Curiosity on the front. We got to keep these.

Tour, with side trips down memory lane )
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
I flew into Los Angeles on the Sunday before the last-while-Cassini-is-still-in-orbit-around-Saturn Project Science Group meeting began. I was feeling dodgy when I got up at 6 AM, but I napped in the taxi and took some ibuprofen, and hoped that the feeling would go away.

It did not.

I made sure my usual mobile pharmacy (ibuprofen, paracetamol, Rennie) was stocked in my rucksack before I boarded the plane, and was glad I'd done so about three hours into the flight when my fever started spiking. I alternated ibuprofen and paracetamol every two hours. The flight attendants kindly granted all of my requests for cold water/cans of ginger ale, which were frequent. It was one of the most miserable long-haul flights I've ever had.

I spent nearly all of Monday in bed apart from a brief foray out to get a hot Thai curry into my belly for lunch. This paid off on Tuesday, and I was able to spend half a day at Caltech to dial into the penultimate operations meeting. (There will be one more after the crash, but obviously we’ll no longer have an instrument status to report.) I was excited about this, because I had been saving up something for a very long time.

In fine fettle was the other option )

to be continued
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