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The ongoing health crises of the past two years seem to have had serious negative consequences for my ability to read in a sustained manner, but recently I've been having more success in managing to read.

I have liked to read multiple books at the same time - this allows me to pick the subject that most suits my mood when my brain goes "I want to read sonething now, please."


Current books in progress:
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, edited by Rebecca J. Holden and Nisi Shawl
First of the Tudors, by Joanna Hickson, historical fiction about Jasper Tudor, uncle of Henry VII.

And I've just begun reading Adilifu Nama's Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film, which looks to be very interesting. As the author describes his work:

"The present work examines the symbolic discourse and ideological messages encoded into black representation, including its structured absence, across a multitude of sf films as a symbolic dialogue with the multiple racial discourses and ideas surrounding black racial formation, past and present, that are circulating in American culture. Moreover, sf films of the 1950s to the current moment are discussed in this book with an eye toward drawing connections between sf cinema, black racial formation, and shifting race relations in America over the past fifty years. Too often the sf film genre is regarded as addressing only signature divisions in the genre: humans versus machines, old versus new, individual versus society, and nature versus the artificial. In this book, however, I place black racial formation at the center of these common dichotomies. As a result, a more complex and provocative picture emerges of how sf cinema, in imagining new worlds and addressing a broad range of social topics, has confronted and retreated from the color line, one of the most troubling and turbulent social issues present in American society."

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... But not in a good way.

So. I'm very conscious of the fact that the political climate in the US is going to hell in a handbasket made of highly flammable materials and that many people are already suffering, or afraid that they will be next. And that the world we live in is taking a decided turn to the nasty, with fascists and racists and all sorts of other truly scary types crawling out of the woodwork, empowered by the fact that something just as nasty as they are can be elected president of the United States. I post stuff about that on Facebook a fair bit, so if you're interested about my various concerns and responses to to world out there, you are most welcome, if you happen to do FB yourself, to connect with me there. I can be found under the name Morgan Dhu.

But here I'm sort of more into talking about myself, I guess. I might get back into political rants someday, but right now, I have no energy for that.

About a month ago, I was admitted to the hospital in kidney failure. Turns out I have kidney stones the size of small mountains partially blocking both kidneys, and they had gotten very sick as a result. The kidneys, in fact, are so badly off that doing anything right now to remove them - it has to be an operation, you see, not ultrasound, because the stones are too big to break up that way - because an operation might put too much stress on my kidneys, and in my condition that could kill me. (Also, the specialist who does the operation is booked months ahead anyway, because so few people need it these days that there;s only one guy in town who's really good at doing it.)I also have gallstones, in fact, I had a very unpleasant attack while in hospital, and it seems that my gall bladder will have to come out - but they can't operate on it either because my kidneys are so screwed up that doing it might kill me. There also seems to be a small mass on one of my kidneys that they can't examine closely because all the techniques available might hurt my kidneys and, well, kill me. And there's another mass that looks like an ovarian cyst, but they can't do the investigation necessary to be sure because (you guessed it) the investigation techniques available might hurt my kidneys and kill me.

So... After three weeks in the hospital, during which tubes were inserted into my gallbladder and kidneys to drain off the bile and urine, which supposedly will give my organs a chance to rest and hopefully heal up a bit, I am at home, peeing through tubes in my back and waiting to see if my kidneys are going to get sufficiently better that all these issues can be dealt with without killing me.

There is some good news. When I went into the hospital, the definitive blood test for identifying kidney damage, creatinine level, was 370 (in the units Canadian labs use, which are not the same inits American labs use) - the normal range is under 100 - and that was apparently a very scary number. My last blood test (last week) showed that creatinine was down to 170, which is not great, but is at least a largish step in the right direction.

I am almost completely without energy - I'm even finding reading hard. I watch movies and play mindless games and hope that somewhere inside my kidneys are healing.

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Somehow I have gotten into the habit of Facebooking without saying things here, which doesn't really make much sense as the two platforms are very different and theoretically should both have their uses.

And since so many people are moving here from The disaster that I hear LiveJournal has become, I really should pop in here more often.

Not much to say right now, as I have been struggling with some very nasty escalation of pain and other mysterious symptoms that have plagued me since my parathyroidectomy last November. But I intent to post more here, if I can think of things to say.
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I've mostly been reporting on the state of my health on Facebook, but seeing that I haven't posted here for a while, I figured I ought to try to bring the saga of my deteriorating state of health up to date.

So... Back in late May I was diagnosed with primary hypercalcemia, which means that something had gone haywire with my parathyroid glands and they were producing too much of a hormone that leaches calcium out of the bones at a rate that is not only very bad for your bones, but cannot be properly excreted. As calcium builds up in the blood, you get increasingly sick, and can end up having seizures and nasty life-threatening shit like that.

They did various kinds of imaging on my throat and while the pictures were a bit inconclusive, they figured it was provably due to one or more adenomas, non-malignant growths on the parathyroid. So they put me on the list for a surgery slot to have the adenomas excused from my parathyroids, and monitored my blood calcium closely.

While waiting for surgery, I fell and broke my foot. Back to the hospital. My foot was placed in this rigid boot that has a heel and unbalanced me to the point that even after I was ok'd for weight-bearing exercise, I couldn't balance on my uneven feet well enough to stand.

After about three weeks in the hospital, during which I developed a nasty UTI that would ultimately stay with me for the next four months, still unable to stand, I was transferred to a rehab hospital where I would receive regular physiotherapy. which would be of very little use because I'm still wearing this big-ass boot that destroys my balance. In the meantime, i get shuttled back to the hospital a few times, to have my calcium levels lowered (intravenous drugs plus massive IV fluids to make me pee out the calcium) and to have my foot monitored.

Once the boot finally comes off in late September, I start to make real progress with the physio - I'm shaky, but walking. Then.... Remember that UTI? They've been giving me courses of various antibiotics to try to kill the bugs in my bladder, and it's been coming back every time. They try a new drug, to which I have a seriously bad reaction. For about a week, I'm so weak I can hardly move, plus nausea and a bunch of nasty stuff. Can't manage the physio - haven't enough strength to stand.

It's now mid-October. They decide to send me home from the rehab hospital because I'm no longer benefitting from treatment. Once I get home, and get over the drug reaction, we find a private physiotherapist and start working on walking again. i just start to get my strength back and I'm walking a bit, when I get the call that I have a surgery date. November 17. Back to the hospital. UTI is back, too.

The surgery ends up being much more complicated than expected, because once they have my throat slit and they can see the parathyroids, they discover there are no adenomas. While adenoma is by far the most common cause of primary hypercalcemia, if it's not adenomas, it's probably hyperplasia of the parathyroids, for which the surgical solution is to remove 3.5 of the four parathyroid glands, a sonewhat longer and more difficult operation.

I come out of surgery with unbearable pain in my abdomen and groin, for which they plug me full of fentanyl, which does nothing. Eventually, they try something in the same family as ibuprofen, but stronger, which works some. Recovery is slow and problematic. The fentanyl gives me very bad constipation for three days, the abdominal and groin pain lessens but does not go away, I'm weak as a kitten and.... My calcium levels are not falling as they should. They do the IV drip to lower my levels again and after a few days, they send me home to recuperate, ordering continued monitoring of my calcium.

Meanwhile, I'm developing painful bedsores on my butt - a new thing, even though I have been pretty much confined to bed fir years. And the UTI is still bothering me. And I'm having fevers and chills snd on-going abdominal pains and all sorts of stuff, and I just can't seem to get any strength back. My doctor prescribes a long course of yet another antibiotic, which seems to finally mostly clear the UTI. All the other symptoms continue, and despite doing all the right things, my bedsore do not heal.

Regular blood tests show my blood calcium is still rising - and now there's a new twist. I'm suddenly seriously anemic, my hemoglobin is way lower than it should be, which is probably the reason for my extreme weakness and the impairment in normal healing.

Which brings us to now. The last blood test showed a very small drop in calcium levrls, I'm on iron supplements which should bring up my hemoglobin over the course of 4-6 weeks and hopefully help me regain my strength snd heal the sores, and my doctor is working on getting me a consult for the hemoglobin issue.

Oh yes, during all of this I've lost about 20 kilos, which when added to the 50-odd kilos I've lost over the past few years has resulted in a lot of loose skin that tends to crease and fold in an extremely painful way. Add to that the pain from the bedsores and I'm having extreme trouble sleeping. I'm lucky if I get four or five hours of sleep in 24. So I'm now exhausted and almost braindead. I'm in great pain all the time, from half a dozen different things that are going wrong. I'm depressed and just plain tired of trying to keep going, to the point of wondering how I might go about persuading someone that I really am a good candidate for assisted suicide, which is now legal, though under very limited circumstances, in Canada.

As the title says, life is hell.

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So, The turning of the year has come and gone. Our celebration was as always quiet, perhaps more so this year because we have had an annus horribilis which has only just barely begun, we hope, to improve.

So we sat in the living room and exchanged gifts and ordered a feast of Chinese food and watched the Doctor Who Christmas special, and the Murdoch Mysteries Christmas special, and had a lovely time.
My prezzies were wonderful.

A long list of ebooks:

Andrea ​Hairston, ​Lonely ​Stardust ​
Carter ​Scholz, ​Gypsy
Charles ​Saunders, ​Abengoni: ​First ​Calling
Charles ​Tan ​(ed), ​Lauriat: ​A ​Filipino-Chinese ​Speculative ​Fiction ​Anthology
Chinelo ​Okparanta, ​Under ​the ​Udala ​Trees
Craig ​Laurance ​Gidney, ​Skin ​Deep ​Magic
David ​Pilgrim, ​Understanding ​Jim ​Crow
Deborah ​J. ​Ross, ​The ​Heir ​of ​Khored
Deborah ​Wheeler, ​Collaborators
F.H. ​Batacan, ​Smaller ​and ​Smaller ​Circles
J.M. ​Frey, ​Hero ​is ​a ​Four ​Letter ​Word
Jackie ​Hatton, ​Flesh ​& ​Wires
Jeanne ​Theoharis, ​The ​Rebellious ​Life ​of ​Mrs. ​Rosa ​Parks
Johanna ​Sinisalo, ​The ​Blood ​of ​Angels
John Miller, Judi Dench: With a Crack in her Voice
Katharine ​Kerr, ​Dark ​Magicks
Marge ​Piercy, ​My ​Life, ​ ​My ​Body
Michelle ​Sagara, ​Cast ​in ​Honor
Minister ​Faust, ​The ​Alchemists ​of ​Kush
Rachel ​Pollack, ​Alqua ​Dreams
Sheree ​Renée ​Thomas, ​Shotgun ​Lullabies
Silvia ​Moreno-Garcia, ​Signal ​to ​Noise
Sumiko ​Saulson, ​Things ​That ​Go ​Bump ​In ​My ​Head

And the extended version DVDs of Hobbit II and Hobbit III

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Recently I've been going through a rather deep and dark existential depression that results from my response to being pretty much completely lacking in mobility. As this plaint that I posted on Facebook a few days back during an acute attack indicates, I feel pretty damned useless in all things.

******
Losing my identities
I used to be a lot of things.
I used to be a person who sang, who danced, who played guitar, who drew and painted stuff. I used to be someone who acted in plays, who stage-managed and even did some directing.
I used to be a person who marched in protest and in celebration, who spoke at public meetings and presented briefs. I used to be a person who was active in political movements. I used to be a person who could do things to help make the world a little bit better.
I used to be a person who could work, whether it was with my hands or with my mind. Who could be productive, support myself and the people I loved.
I used to be a person who could be of use to my friends and loved ones, who could actually be a friend to them, a person to turn to, to rely on. I used to have something to give.
I used to make a difference in the world.
There are so many things I used to be, and am not not now, and likely will never be again.
Take all my identities away from me, and what is left? Nothing.
******

Well, in an attempt to try to change at least one of these "I used to be"s, I have been playing with a program that is supposed to be a way to make pixel art rather than hand-shaped art. Here are a few of my investigative forays into the world of electronic art.

Disenchanted_Forest

Blurred_Meanings

Untitled_cave
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So I've been feeling pretty sick this past week - kind of par for the course - but I think I'm going to try to get out to the living room tonight and catch up on some TV viewing. Lately I've been watching the British SF show Humans, and enjoying it immensely, but last night was the last episode of that. I'm also watching Rizzoli and Isles, Killjoys, and (sporadically, and i'm quite a bit behind) The Lost Ship, and I'm working my way through Sense8.

What shows are other people watching and enjoying this summer? Anything new and good that I might have missed hearing about?

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In the past year or two, I've become accustomed to posting on Facebook rather than here. It's easier - or at least, I perceive it as easier. On Facebook, all I need do is post a few lines, or a link to an article or picture I want to share. But there's something about a blog that seems to demand a greater degree of involvement with the text, and I often lack the energy for that. Maintaining my book journal seems to take everything I have.

And then there's the fact that really, not much happens to me except that things get more painful and more difficult to achieve. On Facebook, I mostly post articles dealing with current affairs - issues I feel strongly about. But I'm usually too tired to write extensively and coherently about those issues.

So perhaps I'll just blather on about my odd thoughts, as I'm doing now, and perhaps that will justify my keeping this journal active.
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So fucking tired.

My body's latest plan to torment me consists of not letting me sleep. Persistent dry cough that either keeps me from falling asleep or wakes me up soon after I fall asleep. Plus a very overactive bladder that wakes me up far too soon on those rare occasions that I do manage to sleep through the coughing. At least some of this is, I believe, due to the meds I'm on - or possibly due to going off one of them.

Today I actually managed to accumulate seven hours of sleep - haven't gotten that much sleep in at least a week. Almost feel human.

I am so fucking tired these days that I am not really able to keep up with posting here. I read journals, and comment, but most days it seems like such a mountain to climb just to marshall my thoughts in order to post.

For anyone who actually might be interested in occasional updates, I am thinking of trying to post a sentence or two now and again on FaceBook. I'm Morgan Dhu on FB too, if you are there and want to connect with me.

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So, the last time I posted, I told y'all about how much my life sucked.

It still sucks. Only much more so.

My general state of health continued to deteriorate during the summer and fall, and between all the things that are wrong with me, like the joint pain and the increasingly intolerable edema and other stuff (which I will address in another post, because it's too complicated to put here), it was kind of getting obvious to both me and my employers that I really just was no longer able to perform my work in a satisfactory fashion. Not so much a quality dip, as not being able to spend enough time sitting up at a computer to actually do my work on time.

So we started taking about the company's Long-term disability plan (LTD) and how because my health conditions are not exactly the normal kind of stuff it's not certain I would qualify but my employers assured me they would to be as supportive as they could be once I reached the point where I simply could not longer work at all.

So that day has finally come. Friday was my last day of work. Now I'm on medical leave for four months until I've waited out the qualifying period for LTD, and then I get to apply and wait and see if they will pay me benefits. But of course, benefits don't come anywhere near covering household expenses. I can also apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits (CPP-D) - which, again, I may not qualify for because my medical situation is so weird - but not before six months have passed.

Even if I do manage to qualify for both, I will still be almost $1,000 a month short of what's needed to pay all the bills (mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, food) each month. But... I can't give up the house, because no rental situation is going to give me an environment that is free of toxic stuff and thus safe for me to live in. Any apartment we rent would share walls with other people and their perfumes and stuff would seep in and leave me in a situation that I'm not sure I could tolerate for the full length of time it would take for all that crap to kill me. I mean, we bought this house in the first place because I was getting so very sick from breathing other people's laundry exhaust, soap, perfume, air-fresheners, and so on.

So that sucks. Assuming all goes well and I do qualify for the LTD and the CPP-D, where do I get another grand a month? We have no debt except for the mortgage, so I can't reduce expenses by consolidating debt. We may be able to switch to a variable mortgage, which might lower the interest a bit. Not only am I pretty much not able to work, but the few things I could do - if I tried to do any of them, I would immediately become ineligible for both the LTD and the CPP-D. My partner is my full-time caregiver, he can't work either because he can't leave me alone.

So I really don't know at all how we're going to survive this. There are no relatives who would be realistically able to help (I have no relatives, period, and my partner's relatives are few and in difficult circumstances themselves, for the most part).

So... We're basically fucked. There's enough in savings and inheritance to carry us through the qualifying period (when I am not getting any money from anywhere), and what's left over will carry us through several more years (four or five, depending on various possibilities) IF I qualify for both LTD and CPP-D, and maybe one year if I don't. After that... things look bleak. Really, really bleak.

If anyone has some bright and original ideas, they would be welcome. Just...

Budgeting is not a solution. All we spend money on now, aside from the aforesaid mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance, is food (which, because one of us has major food sensitivities and neither of us can tolerate chemicals, dyes, preservatives, etc, in our food, pretty much has to be what it is), household necessities (toilet paper, washing soda...) and books. Clothes when the old ones wear out. Replacing things that are broken or dead (we just bought a new TV because the old one is losing its ability to show images that are decipherable in any way whatsoever). We never go out, not even to see a movie. So please don't talk about cutting out non-essentials. We are by nature non-consumers. We don't buy shit we can do without anyway.

But anything else? I would love to hear any creative ideas or sources of funding that might apply to someone living in Toronto, Canada. Because any thought you have might just save my life.
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For those interested in the short version of what's been happening for the past couple of years, it find of goes like this:

I got sick, which involved a bed-rest of several months, during which I discovered an addictive MMO called Travian, which I played intensively, being sick and bored and in great need of diversion. I got better but my mobility didn't, so I kept playing, when I wasn't working. I started running out of spoons for anything except basic living and holding onto my job. This lasted a year or so.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Then I developed a very bad case of shingles which still has not wholly cleared up. Then my niece developed a severe form of auto-immune anemia which did not respond to standard treatment and she almost died, but managed to pull through but only with chemotherapy and immunosuppressants, which have kind of put a wrench in her ability to conduct a normal life. Then my father-in-law died. Then my mother died - intestate, and in another province. I, as sole heir, have a whole lot of bureaucracy to deal with which is made ten times more difficult by the fact that my mobility issues are now such that I cannot travel to where she was living to handle any of the estate settlement issues in person.

I am not really bothering to comment on my emotional response to any of this, nor on my current emotional state. Y'all can probably make accurate guesses anyway.

So that's where things are right now.

Having broken the ice, I will probably continue posting now and again. But don't expect too much. It's hard to find free spoons around here these days.

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And She Was
(The Talking Heads)

And she was lying in the grass
And she could hear the highway breathing
And she could see a nearby factory
She's making sure she is not dreaming
See the lights of a neighbor's house
Now shes starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And she opens up her eyes

The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

And she was drifting through the backyard
And she was taking off her dress
And she was moving very slowly
Rising up above the earth
Moving into the universe and she's
Drifting this way and that
Not touching ground at all and she's
Up above the yard

The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

She was glad about it... no doubt about it
She isn't sure where she's gone
No time to think about what to tell them
No time to think about what she's done
And she was

And she was looking at herself
And things were looking like a movie
She had a pleasant elevation
Shes moving out in all directions

The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

Joining the world of missing persons (and she was)
Missing enough to feel alright (and she was)


Written by David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison

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It was a time of confusion and insanity, punctuated by moments of panic and despair, but we have moved into the new house.

It is a lovely house, and the renovations, with very few and very small glitches, are just what we wanted.

For a recap of the changes, here are pictures of the house as it was before we bought it and pictures of the house when the renovations were just about complete

Or, if you'd rather know the whole story, complete with architect's drawings and all sorts of neat stuff, [personal profile] glaurung_quena documented the renovations in a series of posts.

We had a lot of help preparing for the move. Our friend Sandra, who spend one afternoon helping us move the fragile ornaments and art and all the weird stuff that was shoved into all the corners of the old apartment so we would have a place to put the boxes as we packed them. Our friend Cathy, who came over one weekend to help us back the first thousand books, badly cut her thumb part-way through the onslaught, and spent much of the day being an inspiration instead, after the EMT finished putting her back together and pronounced that she did not, in fact, require stitches. The most wonderful SJ and her partner V, who left Willa at home in upper New York and drove all the way to Toronto in V's minivan this past weekend to help us move the of the books and some of the electronics and and other awkward or delicate stuff, help pack most of the rest of the stuff, and christen most of the rooms of the new house while they were at it. ;-) And [personal profile] glaurung_quena's father Gary, who drove all the way from Michigan with his truck on Sunday, and did more moving and helping in the running of important errands and moved the computers on Monday.

Tuesday was moving day. It started with [personal profile] glaurung_quena and Gary moving key bedroom furniture and a basic survival kit to the house and setting everything up in a room that the movers would not have to go into so I would be as safe as possible from colognes and anti-deoderents and detergent on clothes and stuff. While they did that, Sandra came over to be on hand in case the movers came early, and to pack some of the final bits left out until the last minute. Then [personal profile] glaurung_quena and Gary came back, and we waited for the Wheeltrans bus.

See, it was vital that the Wheeltrans bus arrive before the movers, because the driveway at the old apartment is so narrow that if the movers arrived first and parked, there would be no room for me to get down the driveway and out to the bus. So naturally the movers were early and the bus was late, and we had to ask the movers to wait until the bus arrived, and that was very annoying. But eventually the bus came, and I managed to get out to it (over the past year, my mobility has been appreciably decreased, and I was not sure until we actually did it that I could even safely navigate the handful of stairs and the very uneven, unpaved driveway to get out without falling, so this was a huge relief). So we left in the bus, the movers pulled into the driveway, Gary filled his truck with food and some stuff that we had to be able to put our hands on immediately and followed us over, and Sandra supervised the movers in loading up the furniture and other heavy stuff.

Then we hit some luck, as the Wheeltrans bus took me and [personal profile] glaurung_quena straight to the new house without having to pick up or drop off any other users, and I had my first sight of the edifice that has put me so deeply in debt.

I think I can be happy here. Once we get settled and buy some new (used) furniture to take the place of old furniture that doesn't work in certain places, and all that other adapting to a new living environment stuff.

The rest was over quickly. [personal profile] glaurung_quena set me up in my hideyhole, Gary unloaded and drove back to the apartment to relieve Sandra, then movers and Gary eventually arrived at the house and all our worldly goods were in the same location again.

We are unpacking slowly, and finding all of the things that still have to be done, but we are happy, and we are home. The only thing that's a real problem just now is that the paint used on the trim in the house is still not fully outgassed, so I'm really sick, and we are in the middle of a cold snap so we can't open the windows much without almost freezing, but once it warms up a bit (the forecast says it will this weekend), then maybe the toxic load in the air will get a little bit better, and with luck, by the time we have to start keeping the windows closed due to constant high smog levels, the trim will have finished outgassing.

And the light at the end of the tunnel here is that over time, it can only get better. There is no one else in this house to keep adding more toxic substances to the air. Of course, when we buy new things, they will need to be detoxified, but we have a room set aside in the basement specifically for that, and as soon as we fully vapourseal that room and set up an exhaust to the outside, detox fumes will never get into the living portion of the house. It is a good thing for people with environmental illness to have complete control over their living space.

We are so much in debt. And there is so much work still to be done (I'll likely post about plans for the future some other time). But we have a nice place to live. and we control it.

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Seeing as it was the weekend before Hallowe’en, and we had a bunch of coupons for free or half-price movies from our local purveyor of movie rentals that are due to expire end of the month, we had ourselves a horror flick bash.

First thing you have to realise is that I’m a sucker for women who kick ass, especially when they’re kicking zombie ass, vampire ass, or other assorted nasty creepy ghoulie and ghostie ass. Even if they’re doing so in completely inappropriate clothing or high heels. As long as the obligatory sidekick goat-boys* don’t take up too much screen time, I can deal with chainmail/leather/spandex bikinis and non-sensible shoes.

So that mostly explains my choices of Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, in which Mila Jovovich kicks mutant zombie ass and soulless corporate mercenary butt all over the place, assisted by assorted goat-boys and, in the second movie, the equally kick-ass Sienna Guillory. I also enjoyed the implicit criticism of global capitalism.

Rise: Blood Hunter casts Lucy Liu as a reporter whose investigations of strange doings in the Goth scene lead to her gruesome transformation to a vampire and her quest to hunt down and kill the family of vampires responsible for her death. Liu kicks vampire ass superlatively. For the record, Michael Chicklis, who co-stars as an alcoholic cop searching for the same gang of blood-suckers for reasons of his own, may be Liu’s sidekick, but he is more than a goat-boy. This film got mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it a lot. I admit to a particular weakness for watching vampires try to be ethical about blood-sucking while they kick butt. I also admit to a weakness for Lucy Liu.

28 Weeks Later picks up some months after 28 days Later left off. England is almost completely depopulated, and the zombies, er, Rage Virus victims have all died of hunger. The rebuilding of London has commenced, with the assistance of the U.S. Army. Refugees from the continent are being repatriated. The countryside is being scoured for the few survivors. But unbeknownst to the reconstruction teams, the virus is still lurking…

'Ware serious spoilers, including how the movie ends )

The last flick of the weekend was 1408. A stylish ghost story about belief and self-delusion, with a bravura performance by John Cusack as a debunker of ghost stories who is writing a book about haunted hotel rooms, and insists on staying the night in Room 1408 at The Dolphin Hotel, where more than 50 people have died over the years from a variety of causes, and it is implied that even more have gone mad. The movie was visually very creepy, emotionally powerful in parts, but faded toward the end. The conclusion, I thought, wasn’t quite “big” enough to justify the intensity and complexity of what had gone before. My favourite part was actually the build-up, in which hotel manager Samuel L. Jackson tries to persuade Cusack’s character not to stay in the room by recounting all of the horrors that have happened there, part of which is a wonderful set-up for Jackson, well-known for playing action heroes with a bit of a twist, to explain why he avoids Room 1408 unless it’s that time of the month. I admit to a weakness for Samuel L. Jackson.

And that, Gentle Reader, was how I spent my weekend.



* I call ‘em goat-boys because they almost always seem to be sporting about a day and a half’s worth of unshaven facial hair, which gives them the appearance of being young goats. Also add puns on goatees, goat’s head soup, devil-may-care attitudes, and goatish behaviour as you wish.

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I hate spam. I know I am not alone in this, but I just thought I'd mention it anyway.

I bring this up today because I have been getting inordinate numbers of anonymous comments on old posts from people who want to sell me penis enlargement products, all sorts of magical cures for everything from hair loss to erectile dysfunction, and hot stock tips, among other bizarre offerings.

None of these things interest me. But I'm really getting tired of deleting these sales pitches from my journal. So, if there's anyone out there reading this who does not have a LiveJournal account, I have reluctantly disabled anonymous commenting. Sorry. If there's anyone out there in this position who ever does get the hankering to make a comment, you're free to email me (see my user profile) and if you want, I'll post your comment for you so anyone else reading can respond to it in my LJ.

What I hate worse than spam is having to implement anything that smacks of censorship in order to avoid the hassle of deleting spam on top of spam on top of spam.

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Ah, Christmas. The day that my partner and I replenish each other’s libraries for the coming year, and we get some other stuff from here and there, too. And now, while he starts making Christmas dinner (bird and fancy dressing and mince-meat pie, oh yum!) I'm going to be shamelessly materialistic about all the lovely books I am the proud new custodian of.

Warning: a post full of shameless materialism follows.

There was much squeeing and whooping as we opened our presents this afternoon. The full tale of books my true love gave to me is as follows (although I am told that there are some books which will be arriving later, when SJ brings them up from the States – buying used books online in the US from Canada works better if you have them sent to a US address):

New books by authors I’ve read before
Bloodchild, Octavia Butler
Stealing Magic, Tanya Huff
The Fall of the Kings, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Thomas the Rhymer, Ellen Kushner
The Outstretched Shadow, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
To Light a Candle, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Kingdom of the Grail, Judith Tarr
Reluctant Voyagers, Elisabeth Vonarburg
The King’s Name, Jo Walton
The Prize in the Game, Jo Walton
Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

Books by new authors
Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey
Touched by Venom, Janine Cross
Black Sun Rising, C.S. Friedman
Bold as Love, Gweneth Jones
The Aware, Glenda Larke
Warchild, Karin Lowachee
Guardian of the Balance, Irene Radford
In Legend Born, Laura Resnick
Califia’s Daughters, Leigh Richards
City of Pearl, Karen Traviss

Books I’ve read before and wanted to own and read again
Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
In the Hand of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Tamora Pierce
Lioness Rampant, Tamora Pierce
Sunrunner's Fire, Melanie Rawn
Stronghold, Melanie Rawn
The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart
The Hollow Hills, Mary Stewart
The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham

Anthologies
Women of War, (ed. Tanya Huff and Alexander Potter)

Non-fiction
The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity, Tariq Ali
1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles C. Mann

I did receive some wonderful non-book items as well:
[personal profile] glaurung_quena also got me some CDs I’ve been after having: The Division Bell and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (I once owned these but lost custody during an amicable divorce); Birds of a Feather by Rough Trade; Mermaid Avenue, which is a disc of Woody Guthrie songs performed by Billy Bragg; and Storyville by Robbie Robertson.
[personal profile] glaurung_quena’s sister* sent me the third season of Forever Knight on DVD, which completes my collection and delights me to no end. I’m sure most of you can guess what I’m going to be watching for the next several days.
My good friend Cathy gave me Loreena McKennitt’s new CD, An Ancient Muse, which is just wonderful to listen to.

It’s true that I mostly received fantasy and science fiction books this year, but I also plan to read most of the books I gave to [personal profile] glaurung_quena, which include such anticipated volumes as:

Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich
Virginity or Death, Katha Pollitt
Reel Bad Arabs Jack G. Shaheen
Demand my Writing: Joanna Russ, Feminism, Science Fiction, Jean Cortiel
The New Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Dispossessed", ed. Davis and Stillman
Drag King Dreams, Leslie Feinberg
Muhammad, Karen Armstrong
Boy in the Middle, Patrick Califia
James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, Julie Phillips
Mommy’s Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn and Cherry Pie, Susie Bright

Yes, the days are finally getting longer again, which means more hours of daylight in which to read – which is admittedly irrelevant in this age of electric lighting, but still… there is much dancing and delight in this household, for the books are unwrapped and piled on coffee tables and the special “to be read” shelves and all is right with our little corner of the world.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to my misanthropic self, no doubt, but tonight, there are new books.


*I hate the term “in-law.” Sometimes I use terminology based on idioms I first encountered in Zenna Henderson’s books about the people: sister in love, sister of the heart, etc. Sometimes I just describe the relationship. When necessary, I use the standard terminology. But I really don’t like it much.

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So several people on my flist have posted about their dreams today. I rarely talk about about my dreams, because they are either very surreal in a way that's only going to be meaningful to me (and these kinds of dreams usually are very meaningful, and I know exactly what they're saying to me) or I dream extended fantasy/sf/adventure novels with no meaning whatsoever except that my subconscious is getting bored with hanging around doing nothing while it waits for me to wake up and feed it more data.

Also, I tend to have very full recall of most of my dreams.

Last night, for instance, I had a dream in which I was two people observing that same sequence of events from two different but crucial perspectives. One of me was the commander of a Roman legion that had gotten lost in the mists somewhere in the countryside of Brittania while out looking for Caledonian incursions past Hadrian's Wall. When the mists clear, they are somewhere that they don't recognize - though the lay of the land seems somewhat familiar, and they hastily make camp. Scouting parties reveal that they have camped near a cluster of strange metal and wooden buildings inhabited by large herds of animals and a small number of strangely attired people. They are confused, frightened, and in full-out Roman legion defense mode, and the commander is deeply concerned that his men are about to be ambushed and slaughtered in some strange Caledonian mind-trick.

My other consciousness in the dream is that of a rather mousy British civil servant whose primary responsibility is to take care of increasing numbers of bewildered and displaced people who have been appearing all over Great Britain from a variety of past eras. His current task - dredge up a small "first contact" party of people who are reasonably fluent in 2nd century Latin to go explain what's going on to the Romans before they get too antsy and conquer the nearby dairy farm. He really, really dislikes all of these people, becasue his former job, before all of this started happening, was much more predictable, and now he never knows what he'll have to deal with, and when.

Misunderstandings, near-fatal decisions, and other foolishness ensues, and unfortunately, I woke up before I learned anything about why all of these time travellers were littering up the British countryside. Maybe that will come tonight - sometimes dreams that I don't finish one night pick up where they left off on the following night.

This is why I have never been inclined to keep a dream journal. I'd never have time to do anything else if I actually wrote down everything that happens in all of my dreams.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I am almost at the end of a month-long marathon in terms of work. I have been putting in truly insane hours - in four weeks, I have racked up 50 hours of overtime. I am both mentally and physically exhausted. Fortunately, I have two weeks vacation coming in mid-August, so if I can just stay functional until then, I can recouperate while sitting on the couch watching the Olympics.

The good things about this insane month are:
I have been writing qualitative analysis (my experience is primarily in quantitative analysis) under the guidance of one of the top qualitative reseachers in the country, and am learning a hell of a lot.

If we ever have a slow time at work, I now have 100 accumulated hours of lieu time. Unfortunately, we are only supposed to take lieu time when things are slow, and somehow it seems things are never slow. I'm thinking I'm going to take some lieu days over the next couple of weeks whether it's slow or not.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Ok, if you're out there, I know you're starting to think I overanalyse things, and you know, you're damned right.

But I had this notion, while answering a comment by [livejournal.com profile] jenwrites to my first meta-journalling post, and I wanna write about it, so there.

I wonder if I'm placing more importance on the aspect of being able to see a more multi-dimensional image of people in LJ than in other cyberfora because I'm disabled. (Note, while I have a number of medical issues, it's really only in the past two-three years that I have become severely limited in terms of mobility, so I'm still getting used to not being able to hop on a bus and go wherever I want to go.) A lot of the people I know on the internet are members of various fandoms. They meet at conventions. They know each other in a way that I probably never will.

At the same time, my own social interactions IRL have become more limited. Yes, I have lots of IRL friends with whom I carry on viable relationships, but they are kind of one-sided. I never go to their homes, because most of them live in places that I can't go to, because of one or more of my disabilities. I can't go out and do things with them. Hell, one of my best friends is an actor, and I haven't been able to get out to see her in a play for eight years now. All the physical, real-time experience of my relationships with these is centred in my apartment.

Maybe I'm struck by finding more depth in the context of my relationships with my friends in cyberspace because I feel I'm losing depth in the context of my IRL friendships.

Something to contemplate.

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