freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Blarg. Apparently the inevitable upshot of the Interesting Times on campus is that Lurgi Strikes Britain. Not surprisingly - I am carrying a buttload of transferred student anxiety, given the number of queries I'm dealing with, and while I haven't been conscious of extreme amounts of stress, clearly it's nibbling away subliminally. I've been at home since Monday with the usual merry trifecta, head cold becoming sinus infection becoming full-on glandular resurgence, so I'm somewhat dead on my feet. Also, Sid the Sinus Headache is having his merry way with my hapless form to a quite unfriendly extent. Cue a lot of sneezing followed by clutching my head with cries of agony. The bugger with sinus headaches is that they're bloody pressure-sensitive, which means ixnay on coughing, or getting up suddenly, or bending over, or sneezing. Particularly sneezing.

Campus has pretty much calmed down: exams are in mid-session, and have run smoothly apart from one aborted attempt at disruption earlier this week. It was a small group of protesters who, I think, are a lunatic fringe who've refused to accept the (considerable) concessions made by university management in response to the protests. They were Suppressed, and the disrupted exam resumed. Score one for Order. Although we've seen a second crop of panic from students who were just keeping it together, and whose fragile hold on sanity was somewhat shattered by the threat, however averted, of a new round of shutdowns. I have been dispensing lots of reason, calm, procedural nitpickering assistance and virtual "there, there"s and patting. This whole thing has brought out my latent vaguely maternal wossnames like you wouldn't believe.

Mostly the discernible effect of student anxiety has been a sharp drop in their ability to actually read properly, which I have to say does not bode well for their exams. The university has issued a blanket option of deferring exams until January, no questions asked, "aargh protest freakout" accepted as valid motivation; and a couple of ways of achieving this, one of them online and clearly kludged together as an on-the-fly response, which means it only works within certain narrow parameters. I have been disseminating info and FAQs regarding all this via email, mostly because the Registrar's office issues their fiats gnomically and with a fine, detached disregard for their real-world ramifications, putting me more or less in the position of a Talmudic scholar continuously interpreting Scripture. Any announcement I make to our faculty's undergrad students is a clarification or update very carefully written to fill in the gaps. It will infallibly generate at least five emails almost immediately, from students asking me to give them exactly the information I have just given them in the announcement. This clearly isn't about information, it's about panic and the need for reassurance, which means the Maternal Wossnames do not permit me to yell at them for not reading properly: instead, I patiently re-explain. Usually via the medium of cunningly-personalised cut and paste, as there are limits even to my pseudo-maternalistic patience.

I am doing Good Work, apparently; there is a happy little clutch of tearfully grateful emails in my inbox, variously from students and their parents, but all that nice validation notwithstanding, ye gods I'm tired. And headachy. And snuffly. And contemplating with a certain lowering dread the upcoming end-of-exam season we are now having to do three weeks later than normal in a hurry, thereby compressing my orientation prep into a significantly tiny nutshell. What does not kill me makes me stronger. Let's hope.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Today I did verily sign my life away, or at least great financial tracts of it, as a result of which I have a New Car. She is cute. And new. She has all mod cons, like a driver's door which actually opens from the inside. And she's cute. And shiny. And new. With the new car smell. I keep having to go out into the front garden to pat her bonnet and confirm that she actually exists and is mine, all mine! (evil cackle). She's a Hyundai I10, which I have been driving near-endlessly during driving lessons and know to be compact and fun to drive.

Mature reflection, i.e. random inspiration, suggests that her name is Minerva, on the grounds that I'm going to inevitably festoon her with wols of various sorts, and besides, Minnie Bannister. Not to mention Minerva McGonagall. I feel the name has good precedent in the feisty lady department.

Here is Hobbit making friends, by dint of touching noses, which he did about three seconds after I parked her.

Minnie and Hobbit

Subject line quote obviously from the Goon Show, specifically The Flea, one of my eternal favourites for its unholy rip-off of Samuel Pepys, and for its depiction of Min and Henry running a flea circus.

a year of months

Friday, 1 June 2012 01:14 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I have no idea why the notion of it being June should inspire me with helpless Goon Show quotation, but there you go. Being as I am not in posession of a legit poetic licence, I shall simply have to tell you from whence I nicked all my subject lines over the merry month of May.

  • 5th: a mad outbreak of madrigal, in this case William Byrd, who is one of the several perpetrators of the crack about "the merry month of May".
  • 9th: Wondermark, for a wonder actually glossed in the text of the entry.
  • 13th: anyone who didn't immediately recognise the Firefly quote kindly shoot themselves in the knees now. Good grief. In a post about a Joss movie, and everything.
  • 16th: William Blake, for no adequately defined reason, although the version wandering around my brain at the time was the hymn tune. Of course, since I was actually in Scotland it had no damned relevance anyway, and I'm probably lucky I wasn't savaged to death by Scots for conflating England and Scotland, even mentally and by random association.
  • 17th: Magnetic Fields, from "The Dreaming Moon". Magnetic Fields are really into the moon, there are three songs on Get Lost alone with "moon" in the title. Presumably they do have a poetic licence. ("Ah, moon. You are like a melody-type tune. You are so clever, you can rhyme with Goon. Oh what a boon is the moon in June to boon." I'll stop now).
  • 19th: proverbial phrase invested with a sort of postmodern CLAW-style linguistic spin, à la "I saw Goody X with the divvil!" In other, more alarming news, that post was a featured link on the Christian Book Barn, of all bizarre things, for 19th May, which is why I've suddenly and belatedly friends-locked it, just in case any fellow conference-goers stumble across it and a) realise that it's me, and/or (b) think I'm being too personal.
  • 20th: Ursula Le Guin, fragment from "The Creation of Ea", because I love it, and I was talking both about hawks and empty skies.
  • 23rd: mutated proverbial. I spent a happy 20 minutes wandering the internets trying to work out where the phrase originated, but no dice.
  • 25th: cute Danny Kaye songs about inchworms from his film Hans Christian Andersen, which I am amazed to realise I have actually seen at some stage in early youth. It was, iirc, rather weird. I know the song from the Muppet Show, and can attest to its ability to ear- as well as inchworm.
  • 28th: other than swiping "reannual" from Terry Pratchett, I totally made the incendiary karma ferrets all up my very own self.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Remember how the Hobbit moved in with us? his plan for world domination was to be all adorable and orange and fluffy and go "prrrrp!" when you talked to him, and to appear to get on OK with the other cats, thus suckering us into adopting him. His True Colours (greed and bullying) turned up later. Now another cat seems to be re-trying a ninja version of his technique, upgrading "unthreatening" to "invisible". We now apparently have five cats. The fifth is a Stealth!Cat, a grey feline who has followed the simple procedure of spending his (or possibly her) entire time curled up asleep on one of the dining room chairs, neatly concealed under the table.

He/she could actually have been there for weeks or even months: I've probably seen him/her there several times, but I always assume it's Ounce, who's also grey and jumpy and thus practically indistinguishable in poor light or before my first cup of tea in the morning. When I feed our cats and turn my back, Stealth!Cat hops down and digs in; I see the movement out of the corner of my eye and think it's Ounce instead of registering it as an intruder. This comfortable illusion was rudely broken yesterday, when Ounce simultaneously strolled in from the other end of the kitchen and I went momentarily cross-eyed. The other cats are all confused and edgy about this, except Hobbit, who studiously looks the other way and whistles whenever Stealth!Cat manifests; I suspect he's been bought.

I have absolutely no idea what to do about this. The Great Ounce Guilt Trip Experience has conditioned me against the natural response, which is to dash madly at the intruder shouting and stamping my feet (a mental image I present free and gratis for the reader's amusement). We tried to dissuade Ounce via these methods before giving in and adopting him, and eight years down the line he still makes a point of running away from me the instant I walk into the kitchen, move suddenly, wear boots, breathe, or otherwise clearly threaten his existence. I simply can't bring myself to completely traumatise another feline and thus hoik up my ongoing guilt levels yet again. (In his supervillain lair, Ounce daily rubs his paws together and gives vent to the satisfied "Mwa ha ha ha" of a perfectly-executed psych). Tipping Stealth!Cat off the chair causes him/her to give me a look of pained reproach and slink out of the kitchen, but he/she has always re-materialised his/her little furry ninja ghost-butt back onto the chair if I check ten minutes later. Clearly word has Got Out and we are in the feline yellow pages as a Desirable Residence and Soft Touch.

Honestly, I don't know what we keep these cats for. They never bark at burglars, and they can't even police the place against their own furry kind. Damned dilettantes. Five cats is too many, it's heading into scary cat-lady territory, but I don't know what the hell to do about it. Anyone want a stealth!cat?

(My subject line, incidentally, courtesy of the perfectly delirious Goon Show episode in which Min and Henry keep an elephant, as well as leeches which are actually tigers. Round the World in 80 Days, that's it. Also notable for the unmistakeable sound effect of left-handed Rockhopper penguins attacking the front half of a Zeppelin over the international date line. With bugles.)

In other news, it's July, the Bulwer-Lyttons are out, and my most recent Microfic is completely frivolous. Then again, the topic was "Soup".
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Of all the ways of spending a Friday afternoon, that wasn't my favourite. Shortly before 1pm this very day, while in the grip of only moderate orientation panic, I executed a sharp right turn somewhere between my computer and the kettle and caused my right kneecap to exit its socket with a merry shout of "Sproing!" (This is not to be confused with my left kneecap, which has been known to exit its socket with a merry shout of "Sproing!" on several occasions in the recent and distant past, mostly notably when I was sixteen and waltzing).

I cannot recommend this course of action at all. For a start, a kneecap sitting on the side rather than the front of your leg is all wrong, a misshapen, horrifying Cthulhoid entity causing distress and terror quite apart from the collateral damage, which is the BLINDING PAIN. God, dislocations hurt. Way more than breaks. Also, I unthinkingly fell into my desk chair instead of onto the floor, possibly preserving myself from further limb-disintegration, but also condemning myself to an hour and a half spent hunched in an unnatural position clutching my kneecap while all my other muscles went into spasms of uncontrollable trembling and the bloody ambulance took its own sweet sodding time.

Also, hospitals. Hospitals warp space-time by crowbarring into the normal continuum quite bizarre and unlikely amounts of hanging around waiting, in this case while suffering the Screaming Agony Death Type Three, into the gaping voids between being put on drips, put on oxygen, prodded by nurses, prodded by doctors, X-rayed, pushed around by porters and, thank all the cosmic wossnames, pumped full of decadent and necessary quantities of morphine. This almost helped.

Finally they got bored with the waiting, and around 4pm the nice sister announced that they were going to knock me out while the doctor wrestled the leg back into shape. She added something exotic to the drip, causing extreme sleepiness, and I lay there for a while thinking "Gosh, this is nice, but I'm still mostly awake, they're going to have to step the dose up." Then I looked down and realised my leg was a normal shape again and the lack of pain was not simply sleepiness, but actual lack of pain. Too odd - normally I'm aware of the moment where everything goes black for a microsecond before you wake up to find it all over. This time I had no consciousness of losing consciousness, and regrettably missed the bit where I was apparently very chatty with the doctor, informing him that "I can be rather contrary sometimes".

Dislocations are very weird because, while they're incredibly painful and cause spontaneous generation of brand new religions which worship the notion of never moving ever again for any reason, they're also instant cure. The moment the dislocated bit is back in place the world is suddenly filled with rainbows and roses and fluffy unicorns ridden by Barack Obama with a new world order, and only a moderate amount of bruising. This has left me hobbling slightly, pale, shaken and incredibly woozy, but in all other ways feeling like a total fraud.

Next up, interviews with orthopods to work out exactly how badly I've now buggered up the other cruciate ligament. Go me. Also, extended research may be necessary to track down any of the other monitor contacts they've left adhering to unlikely portions of my anatomy, I keep finding new ones.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
When I trotted into the Evil Landlord's study this morning to break out a new, fresh pack of the day's Iburst, there was a suspicious rustling from the corner of the desk.

Regretfully discarding the theory that the impressive collection of pack-rat junk in the EL's study had achieved sentience and was flexing its paper tentacles preparatory to lurching down the passage and demanding some nice pulp fantasy for breakfast, I informed the Evil Landlord that he had mice. He admitted that, in fact, during the small hours one of the cats had brought something alive into the study and released it, in that inquisitive, controlled-experiment sort of way cats have.
"I heard it rustling around in there last night," he said. "I think it might be a giant cockroach."
Discarding this as some kind of futile attempt to keep me away from the Iburst, I poked cautiously around in the corner of the study, to find that there was, in fact, an active, 20cm mole running along a shelf, with that adorable fluffy clockwork train motion they have presumably developed as a defense mechanism against soft-hearted humans.

"Mole!" I meeped. "It's alive! It's cute! bring a box!"
The EL made some sort of murbling noise to indicate that all the boxes were stashed in the roof, and then, applying the usual meticulous and pinpoint German efficiency to the problem, went ambling off to work, apparently unmoved by the problem of a small creature trapped indefinitely in an unfamiliar and foodless environment. Seizing the chance offered by his indifference, the mole scuttled off somewhere and disappeared, like a small clockwork train going into a tunnel, although without the ear-splitting whistle.

A 10-minute study search reveals nothing, which suggests that the bothersome beast has gone to ground in one of the desk drawers. I have shut the study door in an effort to (a) keep the cats out, and (b) persuade the mole to venture forth so that I can swoop on it and incarcerate it temporarily in a friendly and welcoming box-like structure before releasing it into the wilds on the Common with a hearty handshake and my goodwill. Having fortified myself with a refreshing bout of blogging, I shall now go forth and do battle. If, after thuds, screams and epic grappling I am not heard of henceforth, it means my early-morning shortsightedness was more extreme than usual and, in classic Goon Show fashion, the label around its neck that I thought read "M-O-L-E" actually read "L-I-O-N".

But I seriously wonder what my Evil Landlord would do without me to resolve these little domestic crises. He's still riding on the wave of having rescued the last mole-like intruder from under the piano, which became necessary because I, my mother and [livejournal.com profile] starmadeshadow were helpless with giggling. I don't think it's a sufficient argument.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
It must be summer. The city is slowly filling up with tourists, heat, smells and roadworks, not necessarily in that order. I may have to spend the next two months lying on the cold stone floor of my bathroom in a doomed attempt to get away from it all, writing book updates on the adjacent computer by a combination of telekinesis and foot contortions while the cats bring me cooling draughts alternating with actual Earl Grey tea for the necessary motive power.

In other summertime news, we are having a bad outbreak of Mad Neighbour, who has resumed her tendency to shout "Filthy pigs!" over the garden wall whenever we have the effrontery to actually (gasp!) socialise in our very own back courtyard. I'm spending happy free moments between mass assaults on Italo Calvino in composing a brief, dignified and very very rude letter to her, pointing out that she has absolutely no grounds for complaint and we wouldn't listen to her even if she was capable of couching said complaints in an adult, reasonable fashion, which she isn't. Still considering whether to add a rider to the effect that she is a laughing-stock and byword to our immediate social circle and a select portion of Teh Internet. Also, the Friendly Psychologist thinks said Mad Neighbour is simply a sad person with no actual social life of her own whose attacks are motivated by jealousy, although I probably shouldn't add that to the letter in the interests of World Peace. Actually, it just occurred to me: next time we braai out there we should orchestrate co-ordinated bursts of singing in retaliation. I'm thinking "Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life", scored for [livejournal.com profile] librsa, thumping and military spoons.

Memo to self: must stop reading four Goon Show scrips immediately before going to bed. Apart from infiltrating my subject lines1 and generally degenerating my language to the level of thing, it's giving me extremely trippy and rather scurrilous dreams2.

Now off for elephant soup and squodged spuds (or, possibly, a less heating sort of lunch) with the highly esteemed and pressed [livejournal.com profile] khoi_boi, partially for purposes of uninhibited Miyazaki-swopping. Somewhere in the last two years, amid the whimpering of my credit card, I've actually built up a DVD collection worthy of borrowage. Go figure.

    1The above from "The Red Capsule", a direct rip-off of "Quartermass and the Pit", of early cult BBC sf television fame. (2005 remake [of Quartermass, not the Goon Show] co-starring the same David Tennant who is shortly appearing as a Timelord in a big blue box on a screen near you if you happen to be in Britain or friendly with me, proud possessor of3 the first two serieseseses. The man clearly does sf somewhat wholesalely. Approval.)
    2 Involving bizarre erotic encounters at high speed on the back of a moving vehicle on a highway at night, all of above being transmitted live online for the delectation of a whole flock of interested light-flecks. Cameo appearances by certain individuals not unknown to these pages, although wild horses etc.
    3 Well, Amazon promised they dispatched Season 2 yesterday, although my Amazing Mother, TM, will only haul the loot hence in mid-December. Anyone know where I can buy her a Bag of Holding for Christmas...?4
    4 Nested Footnotes R Us. If anyone's actually read down this far, is the smaller font too (a) academic, (b) pretentious, or (c) difficult to read? Thought so, she says gloomily.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Hairy galloping Yeti crabs, that is. I can feel a Cthulhu module coming on.

The subject line, incidentally, is channelling Major Bloodnok. It's a source of continual amazement* to me that the Goon Show, despite having their manic heyday in the repressive fifties, can be so continually and horribly suggestive, biological and obscene.

* and no small enjoyment

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