incandescens: (Kanzeon Bosatsu)
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Index of Winter War posts.

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Back safely from Vienna: the trip was smooth, though it started ungodly early in the morning (5.30am Vienna time, 4.30am UK time) in order to finish packing, get across town to the airport rather than paying extortionate price for taxi, etc. Plus there was a 4.5 hour break at Amsterdam. But that's preferable to too short a changeover, and I had reading matter, and Schipol Airport is comfortable and has plenty of chairs, so . . .

Vienna was fantastic. It really was. I walked round a lot of museums (the Art History Museum in particular was stunning), I gained a new appreciation of what happens when you rule a country for centuries and accumulate artworks/private dinner services/etc, I ate too much, I had a splendid time. I also saw Don Giovanni at the opera - gorgeous, gorgeous voices, fantastic to watch and hear and just be there - and Tanz der Vampire at the Ronacher Theatre, which was just plain fun. (Here's the trailer for the show - though I saw it with a different Graf von Krolock, who was still extremely good.) I have to say that while they were both marvellous in different ways, if I'd had the chance to see one of the two again, I'd have picked Tanz der Vampire - though that may be partly because there is no other way to see the show, but there are a number of versions of Don Giovanni more easily available.

I have the rest of the week off, and will be using it to recover, and hopefully get some work done on book five. This was a great vacation, but it was a rather strenuous one - the sort when you feel that if you aren't out seeing Vienna somehow, you're not fully using your time. I would appreciate a bit of sit-down now, and maybe even some sleeping in.
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Off to Vienna tomorrow - you know, it feels awesome to actually say that, and for it to be such an achievable thing. Whee.

Anyhow. Off to Vienna tomorrow. Boarding pass printed out (let's hope that they don't get unhappy because my printer was running out of coloured ink and it was mostly in black and white), phone account checked, bank account notified I'd be in Vienna, stuff waiting to be packed (my plane isn't till 5pm), bathroom cleaned, final laundry load planned, various items recharging . . .

If I don't post again till I get back, then take care all, and see you in a week's time.


“My paternal uncles vary somewhat in what they think of me.”

“Your uncle Ao Shun appears comparatively fond of you.”

Strongrock shrugged. “Well, to be honest, I think he appreciated my mother, even though her rank . . . but that’s beside the point. But my lord uncle Ao Ji has never had a great deal of time for me, because of my mother’s rank, and the fact that I am the youngest son of my father and very much unproved in battle or rulership. He’s hardly going to take me into his confidence now. But even so – I feel that something’s wrong.”

“Forgive me, but that is twice that you’ve mentioned your mother’s rank. I don’t wish to pry, but is there some sort of issue with her position?”

Strongrock shifted uncomfortably, and didn’t look Vale in the eye. “Normally when one of the kings – or the queens – contracts for offspring, they do so with each other, or with the high nobility. My mother was neither. She was barely respectable, but on the same sort of level as Mu Dan. To take her as a temporary concubine would have been a little unusual on my father’s part, but within the acceptable bounds. But to contract with her for offspring? Scandalous.”

Vale reflected on how England might react if her monarch were to make such an inappropriate marriage. “The situation has been known among humans as well,” he said dryly.
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“Surely you’re exaggerating,” Silver said.

“I’m not,” Irene said. “Really, I’m not. You haven’t seen the witness statements, have you? Well, trust me, the concept of ‘work ethic’ seems rather lacking round here. ‘Sponsored holiday’ would be more appropriate. A dozen of the lower-ranking people from both hotels were sneaking out on the night of the murder to hit the theatres and cabarets. At least two of the dragons have been spending their spare time art shopping for their private collections. Green and Purple, or Thompson and Thomson, or whatever they call themselves from the Fae delegation apparently want to sign up with the Paris police or the Foreign Legion or anywhere that will send them on interesting jobs. God help anyone who does sign them up. Even the Cardinal admits to hanging out at rare book shops. A dozen of the witness statements confess to being in someone else’s rooms. Three of them contradict each other. And pretty much every single servant from both sides is refusing to contradict anything their master or mistress says! If we want to find out who killed Ren Shun, we’re going to need something more definite than, ‘if my lord says he was in his room then of course he was in his room’.”
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I am now technically 45. (Well, it's past midnight . . .) I still don't really feel any more mature. So that doesn't change. (I'm fairly sure I've said that at previous birthdays, too . . .)

Interesting microcosm of the human condition at work today. It went something like this:

a) It is observed that the sink in the kitchen seems to be blocked, somewhere down in the drainage pipe. A couple of people send notifications to the relevant area.

b) On inspection a little later, the blockage has not miraculously vanished of its own accord. There is more water in the sink. It is dirty.

c) Someone squirts some washing-up liquid into the water in the sink, possibly to make it less dirty, possibly in the hopes that it will somehow dissolve the blockage. It does not dissolve the blockage. The dirty water in the sink now has foam on top.

d) Still no sign of anyone showing up to sort it out.

e) People independently realise that it may not be possible to run the dishwasher overnight, since it probably uses the same pipes/drainage as the sink (which it's right next to). (The dishwasher is handled by one of the cleaners, who loads it with all the dirty general-use mugs from the day before and leaves it running overnight.)

f) One by one, people drift along to wash their mugs under the tap, to make sure that they will at least have a clean mug for tomorrow. The water goes into the sink. Which is still blocked.

g) The level of dirty water in the sink rises. The drain is still not working.

I have the vague feeling that this might somehow be analogous to certain human reactions to current affairs, but I can't think what . . .
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I am a poor poster, and I apologise for that.

Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow, which means no work. Just writing, and grocery shopping, and cleaning, and sewing . . . but no work, so that's good.

My thoughts to anyone in Houston, Texas, or other places affected by Harvey, and I'll be donating to the Red Cross later. I hope you stay safe.

Currently at about 55K words on book 5. Moving forward: I wish it was moving faster. Still, I am about to have a nice meaty (or should that be bloody?) confrontation scene, which should be entertaining to write.


A Worker Reads History

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Greek triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.

-- Bertolt Brecht

back again

Aug. 14th, 2017 12:44 am
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Back safe in Leeds, all well, work tomorrow.

May possibly have a cold, but there is very little I can do about that...
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Had great time at convention. Now home with parents and looking forward to a quiet week...
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Off work now! And off down to London tomorrow for the Nine Worlds convention, and then off to visit my parents for the week after that. And catching up on some sleep. I'm tired.

I really am tired.
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I really wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow.

Oh well. Just eight more working days, then holiday. (IE, Thursday next week.)

I will have to try not to count down the days too obviously...


“The dragons and the Fae are never going to be that close. Even if their cultures permitted it, they can’t tolerate each others’ worlds.” Prutkov conveniently ignored the fact that earlier he’d been suggesting they could ally closely enough to dispose of the Library. “There’s a place for us in the middle. We’re seeing the start of it now. We’re the dealmakers, the peacekeepers. We can have a real influence over them this way.” He looked Irene straight in the eyes. “Have you ever wondered what our ultimate purpose might be? Maybe we were meant to keep the peace by holding the reins on both sides. If they trust us, then we can persuade them separately to work with us. We can use this opportunity, Irene. We can use them. I’ve seen the records of your work with Kai while he was your apprentice. I know you understand what I mean.” His voice was confiding now, coaxing, encouraging. He leaned forward with the air of one sharing an intimacy. “Both sides are bound by their nature. We’re human. We can be more than that. The Library can grow. It can keep the peace rather than just steal books around the edges of creation. But for that to happen, they have to depend on us. They have to trust us. They have to need us.”
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I apologise. But it's hectic here.

Work (as whined about in a few previous entries) is in overdrive. And writing is also, well, fairly hectic. I've just finished going through the copy-edits for the US version of The Lost Plot, and I have the proof-pages of the UK version waiting to be read through. And book five to write, of course.

I'm not getting much else done.

I have rewarded myself (expensively) by booking a couple of theatre tickets for when I'm in Vienna in October - for Don Giovanni at the Opera House, and the less-highbrow but still fun Tanz der Vampire at the Ronmacher Theatre later in the week. One forgets what theatre tickets these days cost until one has to buy them. Still, I'd rather pay a bit more and have good seats, than pay less and spend the holiday regretting not having sprung for good seats.

Oh, and I see that the next Doctor Who is going to be a woman. Should be interesting. Fingers crossed she gets good writing - I can see that she's already a good actress.
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A couple of visits to the dentist today, and feeling rather shattered now. (Dental restoration: an old filling was giving/had given way, and it was the dentist's opinion that it would be better to just do a replacement on the relevant chunk of tooth than to try to refill it.) Still, at least I should be able to relax about that side of my mouth in the near future...

Work continues extremely busy. But with almost everyone else off on the team awayday today, it was at least nice and quiet in the office.

Have been reading the Tales of Judge Dee by Zhu Xiao Di that [personal profile] flemmings sent me, for which many thanks. It was pleasant to get some new Dee, but I have to say that the author's English was not as good as that of van Gulik, even if his stories may have been more "authentic". One aspect I did like was Sergeant Hoong rebuking the Judge on one occasion with reference to what his father would have thought - an aspect of the "old family retainer" which I don't recall coming up so much in the van Gulik versions.

Had the urge to go and reread some of the Gervase Fen short stories by Edmund Crispin after that, and even if the stories are (mostly) more puzzle than character, the actual writing is extremely fluid and well done. I'm reminded of why I end up rereading the Fen books every now and again.


He explained at great length. He explained with a sense of righteous indignation and frustration of spirit. - The Moving Toyshop, Edmund Crispin

If you took the Rector from the top downwards, the first thing you saw was iron-grey hair thatching a high, noble forehead. Below this point, however, matters deteriorated abruptly. No doubt about it, the Rector's actual face was simian - so that the overall effect was as if Jekyll had got stuck half-way in the course of switching himself to Hyde. The clothes were a crumpled, laurel-spattered clerical black, with dog-collar and with outsize cracked black shoes. Despite bow legs, the height was six foot three, and the frame was formidable. 'I'm not,' the Rector had once complacently remarked, 'the type of thing you want to meet unexpectedly on a dark night.'
-- The Glimpses of the Moon, Edmund Crispin
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Well, this is going to be heavy.

Not only have we got about twice as many concepts as usual to map this release (at work), we've got less time than usual, due to them not managing to adjust the brand new tooling to process them till a bit late in the schedule.

On the positive side, this may mean missing the work awayday. And it will probably mean not being given any other work, such as research articles, while this is ongoing for the next month and a half. (I'll take any consolations that I can get.)

Oh well. Moan, then get on with it. Coffee is my friend.
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My posting speed has slowed right down these days. I apologise.

The UK bubbles like a stewpot. I hope that the Tories' attempt to court the DUP lasts just long enough for them to shoot themselves in the foot a few more times.

The weather has turned sunny, though not yet too hot, which is pleasant. Work is busy, and will soon be busier. I'm working through book four copy-edits, and will hopefully soon be back to original work on book five.


Lear: Tell me, my daughters
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state),
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
Goneril: Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Cordelia: [aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
Lear: Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
Be this perpetual.- What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
Regan: Sir, I am made
Of the selfsame metal that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short, that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys
Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear Highness' love.
Cordelia: [aside] Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so; since I am sure my love's
More richer than my tongue.
Lear: To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
No less in space, validity, and pleasure
Than that conferr'd on Goneril.- Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interest; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
Cordelia: Nothing, my lord.
Lear: Nothing?
Cordelia: Nothing.
Lear: Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again.
Cordelia: Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
According to my bond; no more nor less.
Lear: How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Cordelia: Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me; I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
Lear: But goes thy heart with this?
Cordelia: Ay, good my lord.
Lear: So young, and so untender?
Cordelia: So young, my lord, and true.

-- The Tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare
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The last few days have been a bit tense, with everyone at work either completely avoiding politics or chewing it over in detail. (We're a NHS organisation - you can guess how most of us are going to vote.)

And now that we're finally in the thick of it? I was greatly relieved by the exit poll predicting a hung Parliament. Please note that I don't trust it, and I do realise it's still entirely possible that I will wake up to a Tory majority (God help us), but I still think it's a much better situation than if the exit poll had predicted a Tory majority. I will go to sleep with some hope.

That is, I am about to try to go to sleep. I have to be up tomorrow morning, after all, and I'm tired. I should be trying to focus on the book four copy-edits, but I'm afraid the chance of me concentrating on that at the moment is less than nil. So I'll try to sleep instead.

And I'll hope to wake up to a Britain that isn't Tory-majority.

an update

Jun. 4th, 2017 02:23 am
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For reference - no, I'm nowhere near London. And I can't think of anything useful to say about the London Bridge attacks. No, they shouldn't have happened. Yes, they are appalling.

It was otherwise quite a nice day. Went to Leeds Woolfest (small but fun) at Armley Mills, enjoyed nice weather (which will apparently be deserting us soon), had a quiet evening, got some writing done.

Today's quote is in honour of Theresa May and her relationship with Donald Trump.


And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel. And, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel — spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me. Only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love —
And yet a place of high respect with me —
Than to be usèd as you use your dog?

-- A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare
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Having been enjoying Mark Reads lately - in particular, him reading Pratchett's The Truth - I found myself rereading the book too, and a passage just struck me as surprisingly apt...


"... Oh, and High Priest Ridcully is telling everyone that he thinks Lord Vetinari went mad because the day before he'd been telling him about a plan to make lobsters fly through the air."

"Lobsters flying through the air," said Vimes flatly.

"And something about sending ships by semaphore, sir."

"Oh, dear. And what is Mr Scrope saying?"

"Apparently he says he's looking forward to a new era in our history and will put Ankh-Morpork back on the path of responsible citizenship, sir."

"Is that the same as the lobsters?"

"It's political, sir. Apparently he wants a return to the values and traditions that made the city great, sir."

"Does he know what those values and traditions were?" said Vimes, aghast.

"I assume so, sir," said Carrot, keeping a straight face.

"Oh my gods. I'd rather take a chance on the lobsters."

-- The Truth, Terry Pratchett
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Hopefully final draft of book four now handed in. (Now it's just copy-edits to go, then page-proofs...)

Trying to write on book five, but getting nowhere fast this evening. Partly because of constant urges to check the news (Manchester). I know this isn't helping - me, or them - but it's very hard not to.

Probably best just to call it a night. It is after midnight, after all.


“Right, the detective.” Sarashina sat down with a sigh. “Basically, we don’t know much. This morning – no, it was yesterday morning now, I suppose... sorry, I haven’t had much sleep. Everyone got woken up early by His Frosty Majesty having a snit fit about where Ren Shun had got to and why he wasn’t there with the coffee and the newspaper and the day’s agenda. Then just as everyone was really starting to panic, word came over from Le Meurice that they’d found his dead body there. Cue panic. Cue accusations. Cue Lord Icicle down on the first floor declaring that the whole thing was a Fae plot and could anyone give him a good reason not to destroy their entire lying delegation.”

Irene winced. “I know this is just between these four walls, but I wish you wouldn’t keep on nicknaming him like that.”

“It’s a defence mechanism,” Sarashina said. “Have you ever had to share a hotel with a dragon king for a few days? No? Then don’t criticise me."
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Thank goodness for whoever invented sticky post-it notes. When going through a dictionary of demons (Names of the Damned: The Dictionary of Demons, by Michelle Belanger) and looking for interesting candidates for a story I'm trying to plot, I need some way to keep track of the ones I've noted down for later.

(Well, besides writing a list out. Because that would be too easy.)


Alastor: a vengeance demon named in Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal. In this text, de Plancy indicates that Alastor was known in the Zoroastrian tradition as the Executioner. Although the Zoroastrian connection is dubitable, in the tradition of the ancient Greeks, Alastor was indeed a spirit of vengeance. Zeus was known as Zeus Alastor whenever he assumed a vengeful form. In Waite's presentation of the Grand Grimoire from his 1910 Book of Black Magic and Pacts, Alastor is described as Hell's Commissioner of Public Works. He is also portrayed as an infernal judge. These attributions tie back to the work of Charles Berbiguier, a self-styled demonologist from the early nineteenth century.

-- Names of the Damned: The Dictionary of Demons, by Michelle Belanger
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The weather has got a bit milder. Whee! It is now cool but not actually chilly. If we had a little bit more sunshine, it'd be lovely.

Eurovision Song Contest final tomorrow, after a day spent at a craft show in Harrogate (and Doctor Who earlier in the evening as well). It promises to be a busy day.

For the curious, my favourite songs so far:

Romania - - yodelling warning, but one of my favourites
Estonia - - I liked this one, but it didn't get through to the final, alas
Portugal - - just for the totally different factor, and genuinely nice
Armenia - - okay, not that special, but I liked it
Croatia - - weird mix of types of music, but entertaining
Georgia - - again, not that special, but pleasant enough
Montenegro - - if only for the braid

And now I'm hoping Romania wins. It was ... fun.


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