October 19th, 2017
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ludy: a painting i did looking in a mirror (Default)
posted by [personal profile] ludy at 09:19am on 19/10/2017
So I went to Venice and am now back on more solid ground in the less liminal London.
I don't entirely have words - there's a lot of things and stuff (mostly art and churches and then more ART!) it's amazing and beautiful and overwhelming and confusing and beautiful. You can start confidently following direction signs and they will suddenly evaporate part way to where you thought you were going. But there's prolly something else to see anyway...
There aren't enough places to sit down and the whole city is a mobility-impairment nightmare. But the public transport (boat-buses) is pretty good (within the understandably limits of fog and tides) and because there aren't cars (expect on Lido - which is a separate island NOT an outdoor swimming pool with a greasy caff and a teacup ride!) everything is pretty much people-shaped. There is coffee and ice cream.
There is textily goodness (LACE!) and glass and gold but most of the buildings are falling to bits. There are mozzies and mists and some of the prettiest Art is (deliberately) made from mould - and comes with an actual health warning...

It sounds like this.

[personal profile] lovingboth is an excellent travel companion who will excitedly point out the next exciting, shiny thing and explain the kinds of stuff that doesn't stick in ludy-brains. But is also helpful and understanding when visual stress or just an over-full brain makes you start to wobble and bump into things...

So what have I missed here?
Mood:: 'Tierd in a good way' Tierd in a good way
October 18th, 2017
andrewducker: (Default)
October 17th, 2017
andrewducker: (Default)
baratron: (angry)
posted by [personal profile] baratron at 08:15am on 17/10/2017 under , , ,
Our plumbing is being evil, for the fifth or sixth time since we moved into this house in 2004. When our house was built, it didn't have an internal bathroom. There are remains of an outhouse in our back garden. So the bathroom was, at some point, retrofitted and its plumbing has never worked quite right.

It's been showing signs of distress for a few days now, doing that thing it does of not draining properly. We flush the toilet or run water in the sink, and the bath goes GLUG GLUG GLUG. Not good. However, yesterday when I flushed the toilet, some of the er, effluent ended up in the bath. Which is about as delightful as it sounds.

Richard did a full day at work then stayed up quite literally all night clearing the downpipe with a high pressure hose, and only went to bed at 7.30 am. He is my hero! The poor bugger couldn't eat anything until 6.30 am because he was too nauseated, and I have left Emergency Laundry running overnight else he wouldn't have any trousers to wear to work (and it's too cold to go in shorts).

The problem is not completely fixed since although the downpipe is now cleared, water running through it is not reaching the sewer. As the problem occurs on our property, Thames Water won't help, so we will have to find a professional and (probably) claim on our insurance. Does anyone have the faintest idea how to do this? I mean, regarding claiming on the insurance, we probably just have to find the policy document and ring the insurers with the policy number and details of the work which needs to be done. But where on earth do we find a good professional plumber who handles drains and sewers? Do we ask the insurance company to recommend someone?

To add further complication, our back garden will probably have to be dug up, and it is currently a jungle. I'm hoping my parents might be available in the next few days to get it cleared, although that involves Dealing With My Parents.
Mood:: 'blah' blah
October 16th, 2017
hollymath: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hollymath at 03:48pm on 16/10/2017 under
Been a strange, nerve-jangly sort of day.

I missed a lecture because there were no fucking buses for 40 minutes. I know I could've turned up late but I was all wound up by then, and I can catch up because the lectures and slides are recorded.

We got the orange sun around lunchtime, it's clear and sunny here now (though still with particles of dust in the air hurting my eyes) but it's gone down south where a million more people are tweeting about it, and a million freaked-out status updates on Facebook and bad-joke tweets haven't helped somehow. That we feel such a sense of impending doom at such a minor change in the quality of the light makes it easy to see why humans had to invent religion.

I didn't feel doomy but I was also pretty sure it was something to do with the hurricane, and the hurricane is because of climate change and that make terrified and so miserable. My anxious brain told me "One day we'll look back on these as the good old days, weather-wise," because my anxious brain hates me.

I slept awfully last night. Went to bed early, woke up after midnight and didnt get back to sleep until five in the morning.

Andrew emailed while I was out saying the washing machine is broken, he thinks he can fix it but I'll need to help. But when I got back home he's out, so I'm sitting here writing this instead. I hope the washing machine's okay, we can't afford it not to be. Don't know where he is, but I think he was going to buy food. And I thought of something on my way home that I wanted but I forgot to tell him to get.

The people next door are having building work done on their house, and the loud whine of the drills makes it hard to concentrate or relax.

I need a hug or a cry or a sleep or a vacation. But none of those things seem like they'd be enough really.
andrewducker: (Default)
October 15th, 2017
baratron: (boots)
Had my appointment with the Pain Management consultant at Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon on Friday. This is a posh private hospital, yet I got an NHS-funded appointment there. I am not complaining.

As you may remember, I have arthritis in my spine which causes all sorts of weird and "interesting" neurological effects. The actual patch of inflammation is tiny, and yet it presses on a nerve severely enough that I have a permanent numb "dead" spot in my left leg, plus additional events of screaming agony.

So every year or so, I get injections into my spine of a long-acting steroid and painkiller combination. They are called facet joint injections and I've had them done 3 times before. It counts as minor surgery because it has to be done under X-ray, since it would be Very Bad if the needle gets in the wrong place. But once I've recovered from the bruising, I have a lot less pain and a bit more mobility.

The first and third times, it was done by the consultant that I have my face-to-face appointments with and it helped for about 6 months. The second time I had it done, it was a different doctor who was in a hurry and didn't listen when I told her that my Large Arse requires two shots of the anaesthetic in order for the needle to get deep enough. So it only helped for about 3 months.

I am so glad my GP found out I could see the same specialist at a different hospital. Kingston Hospital has good medical staff but appalling organisation and/or administrative staff (not sure which), and the wait times there are horrendous. I am in no doubt that if I'd gone to Kingston, it would have been 6 months or more just for the first appointment, and then a further 4 months before the treatment. This other hospital is a train + bus ride away rather than a short walk, but I only had to wait 6 weeks to see the doctor, and then another 6 weeks for the treatment. It's scheduled for 1st December.
Mood:: 'cheerful' cheerful
andrewducker: (Default)
October 14th, 2017
hollymath: (Default)
I'm weirdly delighted at this card my grandma got Andrew for his birthday.

He didn't bother punching out and assembling the paper airplane, but I did!

"Maybe it's because she thinks of us as going to visit on a plane?" Andrew said when he'd opened the card and was telling me about the paper airplane in it.

It certainly makes me think of that, now.

I miss my grandma. It was nice to see her handwriting again. She doesn't do e-mail or cell phones or anything, but she used to write occasionally -- it's harder now, because of her eyesight -- and I wrote back, never often enough.

This time of year is often the worst for me missing people. One of the unexpected upsides of university is how much better I've handled the changing of the seasons because of it: I've been too busy to be wistful. But there are moments.

I'll write her a nice letter, thanking her for such a great card.
andrewducker: (Default)
October 13th, 2017
hollymath: (Default)
"The world's quietest room is in Minnesota," Andrew just told me. "That seems appropriate, somehow."

I had to laugh. Andrew still thinks my dad is so quiet he doesn't even say all the words in his sentences, and just expects the people around him to be used to him enough to fill them in.

(After he said this I paid extra attention the next time I was around my dad, and I'm sure he says all the words. But the fact that I found this plausible enough to have to check? Probably says a lot.)
hollymath: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hollymath at 09:03pm on 13/10/2017 under
First essay finished and submitted in time! Feels weird to be writing freshman essays again.

It has been a long day, at the end of a long week. Might go pour myself a drink. (That's certainly something I didn't do the last time I wrote my first freshman essay!)
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October 12th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] hollymath at 05:15pm on 12/10/2017 under , ,
[personal profile] lilysea shared a great article on accessibility, or more accurately the lack thereof, at the University of Sydney.

It's fairly long, and all very good, but one paragraph from it particularly stood out for me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
For staff members, the situation isn’t much better. Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes, a lecturer in Aboriginal education, is one of only eight blind and low vision academics in Australia. She estimates that she spends about 25 extra hours a week making up for inaccessibility. Turnitin and Grade Centre are both inaccessible for screen reading software, and PDF documents are “sheer hell”. And, unfailingly, the cobblestones. In order to avoid them, Sheelagh’s guide dog Nina insists on taking her on a roundabout route through the Law buildings.
Partly this is of course because I'm starting to navigate university life while partially sighted. PDFs are sheer hell and people think they're accessible because they're electronic like that's magic or something.

But what has stuck with me is the estimate of losing 25 hours a week to dealing with inaccessibility. I've said many times now I've spent more time and energy on dealing wiht the admin associated with being a student than I have on reading or writing or thinking or learning. It's not all directly related to inaccessibility for me, like in the article, but it all adds up to the feeling that like the feminist idea of women doing a "second shift" of work when they get home from the dayjob to cook and clean and look after children, I have a second shift of sighted-guide-wrangling, getting lost today on my way to a new building (not something I could wrangle a sighted guide for in time because I didn't have enough notice), being distracted in a meeting by an ankle that was sore because I'd just fallen up some stairs on the way to it, waiting for the next bus after one zoomed past me at a stop today which they're not supposed to do, deciding whether any individual thing is worth complaining about...

I don't know how many hours I spend dealing with inaccessibility a week, but this academic's phrase reminded me of a poem I adore, "Girl Hours", which is actually about a kind of Hidden-Figures set of women in the late 19th century. The director reckoned the difficulty of astronomical projects in "girl hours," the number of hours these human computers would need in order to do the work. There must be some equivalent in disabled hours.
Oh bright rain, brave clouds, oh stars,
oh stars.

Two thousand four hundred fires
and uncharted, unstudied,
the hours, the hours, the hours.
digitalraven: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] digitalraven at 02:59pm on 12/10/2017

I posted this on Twitter a couple of days ago, but I think it requires expanding on here.

Too often, discussions of mental health in both tech and in fandom (specifically SF fandom) focus ASD (autistic spectrum conditions). Sometimes, in tech, it also includes depression and anxiety, in the guise of “burnout”. But that’s less common.

I can think of a lot of reasons why this is the case: let’s start with “because they’re talked about more in those fields.” Tech and fandom are places where people “expect” to find people on the autistic spectrum because media portrays people with ASD as “belonging” (or being more comfortable) in tech/fandom related spaces, which is in turn because stereotypes about people with ASD and stereotypes of people involved in tech/fandom have significant overlap.

Some quotes that I’ve seen recently (no source given, because it’s not a public place) that sum up this attitude:

I think a lot of us computer geeks rate a little bit aspie

and

It’s a common thought in [snip] that computer geeks tend to fall somewhere on the spectrum.

and

I’d be very unsurprised to discover that mild ASD/Autism is common among authors, especially of genre fiction

I’ve got to admit, this attitude pisses me off far more than it should. Follow the chain:

  • I’m active in tech
  • I’m an author of both games and genre fiction
  • I have a mental health condition
  • I have no signs whatsoever of ASD

If I try to start a discussion about mental health in these fields, I’m immediately fighting against the idea that the only ones that have any relevance to the field are ASD and depression/burnout. Err, no. My work in both is directly impacted by being bipolar, but I can’t talk about it because nobody cares. It’s not one of the two acceptable mental health conditions to have in tech, so I can please piss off and let the “real” discussion happen.

Allow me to offer three points of rebuttal:

  1. Fuck you
  2. Fuck you
  3. FUCK YOU

This deliberate attempt to minimise and ignore other mental health conditions in both fandom and tech is actively unhealthy. It makes the environment hostile to people like me. It keeps us excluded, feeling like we don’t belong, like we’re not worthy of support.

To everyone in fandom and tech: You need to be better because you are not good enough. If you are not willing to see that you need to change, you are part of the problem and I am sick of pretending that your mealy-mouthed appeals to two conditions amounts to a single iota of worthiness when you implicitly use that as a stick to beat the rest of us.

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October 11th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] hollymath at 09:06pm on 11/10/2017 under ,
Wrote half an essay (only 500 words! I wrote an intro and a sentence for each point I want to make and that was almost 200 words itself! but still) tonight so I don't have a lot of energy left but I wanted to note that the DSA assessment went well. It took a really long time though, almost three hours (when your most knowledgeable friend says their eleventy billion wonky impairments only required two-hour DSA sessions, you know it's a long time!).

My biggest problem now is that I went home wanting all the kit right away. Can I have that software to work on my essay (no, it's due Friday). Can I have the biiiiiig monitor? Can I have the thing that only zooms the part of the screen you need it to (I actually found out today that Blackboard has "high contrast" and "text zoom" in its settings, but when you click on them all it says is "right, you need to use your browser/OS settings to do this"! thanks and all but that doesn't work very well you bag of dicks!)

The guy made some good points, like that he recommends screenreaders not just for blindy mcblindfaces like me but people who "just" have the anxiety/depression side of things because it affects their -- our -- ability to concentrate so much and for some people it's easier to listen than to read. I know this is certainly true for me (and I know it won't be for many other people! I know lots of neurodiverse people and that can include auditory processing issues as can lots of other things) but never thought it was anything more than my eyes causing that.

He generally talked about the anxiety and depression only in terms of disrupted sleep, poor concentration, things like that. Didn't insinuate that I didn't really had it or it isn't really real or any of that shit. It was the least stigamtizing experience I've ever had talking about my mental health, I think! Really refreshing. Especially because he's an older chap with a very northern accent and stereotypes mean I'm not used to such people talking about mental health; it'd be like hearing my dad say "anxiety" or "depression" which I don't think has ever happened! But he was really matter-of-fact about it, which of course you'd hope for in his job but I've met plenty of people whose jobs should have made them good at it who are not good at this, so I expect nothing and that means I got to be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not quite done yet; the guy wants me to come back to talk to one of their suppliers about the particular kinds of software and some kind of OCR-machine that he is (and I am) sure I'll benefit from but there are different kinds and there's no way to know what will suit me without me trying them. That was going to happen tomorrow but now can't happen then; it should be on Friday, which suits me better anyway.

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