Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
So, Monday went OK. Foundations and Proofs was fine, Programming and Algorithms was fine (Kai's been using C for ages), Intro to Computer Architecture was soft and easy. The only one he had a problem with was Mathematical Methods for Computer Scientists - it involved probability, which he (and a goodly number of his fellow students, I gather) have never covered. My feeling is that a lot of this week will be the teaching staff seeing how much each student knows and thereby where they may need extra help or tuition. Overall though, it was fine, and he, along with several others in the class, actually did the assignment (to write a programme to draw triangles) last night (it's not actually due until next Monday. Talk about starting as you mean to go on!)
This afternoon is the Programming and Algorithms computer lab, three hours of it...
I've been getting a lot of client stuff done for Chelsey in advance of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and as predicted this week is even busier than usual, but come next Monday I'm hoping to dive back into my own work again - which means the next!Poppy to start with!
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Well, we got to the SU Fair in the blazing sun - and yes, it was students only - to find the queue for entry about 45 minutes long and the place absolutely heaving so we were all
and went over to the bank (to get him pound coins for busfare) and then bussed out to Blaise Castle for a walk along the river in the cool. Lovely, but my legs were aching so we only went as far as the first pools. (Kai can get all the SU info online/from the handbook/at the Union building so won't miss out.)
We've taken it easy over the weekend - well, K&K have - with a bit of shopping, Interstellar on Friday after dinner and Rocky Horror Picture Show yesterday - wonderful fun, Kai hadn't seen it but enjoyed it!
Oh, and I've identified our bees! They're colletes hederae - solitary ivy bees: our ivy tree is now full of them. They're only on the wing for a couple of months though, then they disappear until next year.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Catching up again...
Well, Fresher's Week was a bit of a roller coaster. The Monday session was fun: at registration on Tuesday although Kai was on the system and his ID card was there, they hadn't printed it out so he had to traipse off to a different building to collect it, while the afternoon session was a bit too chaotic for him: at his Wednesday Linux session he couldn't login so came home to do the session from here: Thursday am he was feeling dreadful again, with no energy and aching everywhere (feeling, he said, like he did just before the aa was diagnosed) so at his BHOC appt we asked them to run a full check (means taking extra bloods for virology tests). His blood counts were fine though; the dr we saw suggested he might have a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to limb and bone aches, headaches and general feeling awful, and of course he's been avoiding the sun because of his increased risk of melanoma. [headdesk] So they're checking for that and in the meantime I'm trying to find out vit D supplemented food.
And since most of the students are in residences they've already established friendship groups, and Kai is somewhat left out...
He headed out again after lunch while I had the boiler serviced - and found out the guy we had do it last time was a complete cowboy. There's nothing wrong with the fire at all, and he charged me double the usual amount. New guy - Tom of TK Plumbing, recommended by a fellow APAG member - is great and we'll go with him from now on.
In the afternoon it was Kai's first real session, meeting his tutor and tutor group. And suddenly things picked up. The group is a wonderfully culturally eclectic mix, three lads, two lasses, from all over Europe, and Kai got on just fine with them all, and with the tutor. He came home much much happier and more positive - which is great because he's been so down the rest of the week I was beginning to wonder if we'd made a mistake and he'd be better off doing something else.
After dinner we went over to Tesco for him to have his flu jab (the surgery couldn't give us an appt til 3rd Oct, which is too late for Kai): it was OK, and he says he doesn't feel too bad today. I managed a swim this am - 14 lengths! - and if Kai feels up to it after lunch we'll head for the Student Union Fair. It did occur to me that I may not be able to get in (Millennium Square can be cordoned off at need, and you might need a student ID to get in) but that's OK, he needs lots and lots of change for his buses, and, as I found out after my swim, the post office no longer gives change unless you have a change card [grump]. Since we'll be in town anyway, I'll get over to the bank and get stocked up there while he explores the Fair. Ken has a day off today and is hoping to mow.
Also booked his last three inoculations - TDP/P, meningitis and MMR - all on Friday ams at 9 (he starts at 11 on a Friday so that will give him enough time to get into class): not ideal if he does get immediate side effects but the best I could do. He'll have the weekend to recover each time, at least.
I am now knackered - again - and hoping I can have a relatively quiet weekend. I have a lot of planning to do, more client stuff, and a lot of emails to send. Next week is going to be busy too, but after that we can hopefully settle into some sort of routine!
Sunday, September 20, 2015
So - Fresher's Week starts tomorrow. And Kai has a wretched cold, poor Childe.
But we've got there. Still a few hurdles to overcome, but I'm hoping the worst is now behind us. Kai has his last (I think) chimerism blood review on Thurs, and he's booked to have his flu jab at Tesco's pharmacy 7.30pm the same day, so he has the weekend to get over it if he has any side-effects. I didn't, but Ken did, so it's 75/25 he may not get any. Fingers crossed. It's the Student Union Fair at the Millennium Square on Friday, so if he doesn't feel too good he won't be missing anything too important.
It's going to be a very busy week here...
He was using sulphur again today - while my washing was out.
Rosa. Or rather, Rosa's bum. I have absolutely no idea what she's doing!
Friday, September 18, 2015
Busier than ever, and likely to stay like it until the beginning of classes (28th)...
I had client stuff yesterday: in the afternoon we did another quick recce of the Uni buildings, and Kai is now happy he can find his way around. Then we met Ken at Za Za Bazaar for dinner (we had vouchers - put through the door as advertising - for meals for £9.99 instead of the usual £14.99 and thought we'd use them before they ran out on the 20th).
It's a bit of a strange place, upstairs overlooking the harbour and with a sort of industrial aesthetic, high ceiling with lots of pipes and ducts. Kai was grumpy and thought he wouldn't like it: by the end of the meal he was grinning and asking when we can go back! He and Ken had chicken korma - I did my usual and went round the Asian and Indian stations taking a little bit of everything. And it was scrumptious! Kai came with me for second helpings - I recommended the tempura prawns which were absolutely delicious and which he loves but hadn't been able to eat while he had no immune system - and really enjoyed it. And then we piled more plates with the wonderful desserts, again a little of everything. Gah, I was stuffed! But it was a fantastic meal out, and I guess you'd have to make at least 11 or 12 visits to try everything. Which is very tempting...
Though my gulab jamun are better.
Managed to finally make time for a swim this morning - twelve lengths! Hadn't planned to but after ten I felt like doing a little more, and as I got there in plenty of time it was all very relaxed. Almost went for fourteen, but my arms were beginning to ache so thought I'd not push it. Afterwards I wandered down to Bill's Fishing Tackle for some strong transparent fishing line to suspend my latest Starscream from. He asked me what I wanted it for, so I told him it was to hang large and fairly heavy model planes from the ceiling. Were they mine? he asked. So I said yes, and thus we were off into a discussion about planes. Turns out he has actually had a Vulcan fly over his head, at about 30 feet, by the sound of it. I'm jealous! This now has me hankering for the Airfix model I've seen at Hawkin's Bazaar (I built one when I was at college back when dinosaurs ruled the earth but I don't know what happened to it). And maybe a Vampire. And an F-16 (Primeverse SS). And maybe even a Sukhoi (Armadaverse SS, supposedly) if I can find one.
I bought the line he recommended and will have a go at new SS later. Photos if I can get it to work!
While I was out Ken took some photos of the nature reserve that is our garden...
Birbs at feeder.
Woodpecker on the mullein up on the slope
Squrl in the hazel tree. Little bugger stole all but one of Ken's nuts and buried them in next door's lawn. Oops...
Speaking of next door, he's spent two days with a flamethrower completely scorching the whole area at the top. We assume he'll try to get it re-turfed, even though it's obvious by now grass is never going to do well there without major work, the soil's too dry. The current result, of course, is that there are now thousands of bees burrowing into all that lovely bare soil. And crows and magpies pecking for insects (or possibly burnt bees). Looks like the foxes may have visited too...
The bee colony on our side has settled happily into the veg bed and the slope, bless them. The main problem is trying not to tread on them when filling feeders or hanging out washing!
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Yesterday Kai and I went to Clevedon, for a last trip coast-wards before his term starts. Walked up over Poet's Walk, but didn't go any further: he had his multiple meningitis (ACWY) inoculation on Monday and was feeling a bit meh. Though not as bad as the last one. And he announced, on the bus as we entered the town, that he suddenly had mental clarity after feeling fuzzy for the last two years, and today, while we sorted out his wardrobe, he found he had restored manual dexterity too. It was thirteen days ago he stopped the tacrolimus, and I believe it's now finally clearing his system!
I really cannot tell you what a relief this is...
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Quick reply to Sue's comment, below:
In fact, it ended up being a very pleasant and civilised affair! (Though not many people participated, which made it smaller and quieter: I think a lot of people were away for the weekend...) Come the evening there were kids playing football just outside, but there were three adults staying in control of it, so no problems there. It was too hot and sunny for it to be comfortable for Kai during the afternoon, but in the evening we went a dozen houses up the road to where an acquaintance (I know most of the street to say hello to but can I remember their names? Gah...) had five guys playing music in the front garden (guitars - electric and acoustic - and a squeezebox). They were very good, and we listened to some fun and extremely boppable music (Steamy Windows, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Going Up The Country, and do you think either of us can remember the others? [sigh]) for a half an hour before it got a bit too cold to be comfortable.
The noise had quietened to a reasonable level by midnight, too, so all in all it was a good day - only spoiled by next door blithely announcing to his wife and/or daughter, 'Right, I'm going to kill some bees.'
But they have sanctuary here. And they're adorable. I found one on a sweetcorn stalk (we cleared the patch today, as they'd finished) and held it in my hand for a few minutes before I could tempt it off onto the thyme. And yes, they are the gentlest, cutest bees imaginable, and yes, they have no stings.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Gah - tired. Then again, when am I ever not...
Useful day today. Decided it'll remove one source of stress for Kai if he's a little more familiar with the University buildings and layout, so we bussed in to the Clifton Triangle and went to all the places he will need to visit during Fresher's Week: the Wills Memorial Building, where he'll take his Certificate of Registration from his online registration to be stamped, and will get his ID card; the Faculty of Engineering in the Merchant Venturer's Building (more familiar as that was where his interview was two years ago); and finally the Student Union, where he'll go on Mon 21st for the induction - or, as the SU puts it, 'how to survive at University!'
We were able to get into the Union building (the other two we could step inside, but not go any further without ID) so took a look around and found the Anson Rooms, where the induction talks and presentations will actually take place. There's a really nice, comforting atmosphere in the place, and the security guy at the desk was very friendly and helpful: Kai came out smiling, which is very good.
All in all it was a good idea. We plan to do it again: Kai's applied to do two different maths courses for two of his optional units, and the Maths Faculty is up the hill and through a pretty garden area. We'll check it out next - and I want us to find the Uni bookshop, so he'll be able to get there if he needs to.
Tonight he filled in the application for a mentor. It's optional, but I believe that having someone onsite who knows what he's been through this last couple of years and can act as a safety net if he has problems is an excellent idea, and he agreed with me. This makes me feel happier and less stressed too.
Tomorrow is Bristol Open Doors 2015, and unfortunately also our road's 2015 street party. Which I'm not happy about as we weren't asked if we wanted one and last year's was an absolute nightmare for me, with none of us able to participate due to Kai's risk of infection, and the kids across the road coming this >< close to smashing our lounge window with their football. Ken has already organised, several months ago, going out to the villa at King's Weston with a friend this year, then going on to several other sites: I'm too worried about the house to want to go anywhere, and Kai is tired after all the trips this last few days, so will most likely stay home. It's going to be a very noisy, very BBQ-smelly affair lasting from 11 am to 11 pm - though last year the music and shouting went on well into the early hours of the next morning - and I'm dreading it. I have, however, explained my concerns to the organisers (some of whom are APAG committee members, so instant rapport there) and the flyer with all the info has a firm request to everyone NOT to let their children kick balls around anywhere they might cause damage, so fingers crossed...
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Yesterday we finally got to Chepstow!
Kai made friends with a robin - shared a little of his lunch. Smol birb was very sweet!
We walked the first few hundred yards of the Wye Valley Walk, which runs up the side of the Castle, then followed the rough path to the back of the Upper Barbican.
(Photos of the 2013 trip here.)
Very windy, a lot of walking, but it was great and we both loved it. The trip was terrific too!
APAG meeting last night, all went well.
Ken has today and tomorrow off and is currently upstairs assembling Kai's desk. It's going to take all day...
Ten lengths this morning!
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Let's catch up again, shall we?!
Not going to bother saying it's been hectic, just take that as read. Friday was completely taken up with business, both client sites and getting Kai organised: Capability for Work forms to fill in, various documents to get scanned and printed, and I had to call the DWP to ask about Kai's ESA and PIP payments, now he's starting uni. Very helpful man told me he may still be eligible for some PIP as he may be considered a 'student with disabilities' - we'll have to wait and see.
My chair and Kai's desk arrived, and the plan was to set them both up on Saturday, but it was a very pleasant day and Ken wanted to get out of Bristol, so he and Kai bussed to just outside Bath, climbed to Kelston Round hill, and then went on to the start of the Cotswold Way - a goodly walk.
They arrived back quite late, but really enjoyed it. I spent the day preparing and freezing apples and general house and garden stuff...
Native bog iris near Roeg's Pool. Hoverflies love them!
And Tyjer loves the sun...
Sunday was brilliant wall-to-wall sunshine, so I started the washing early (as in 7 am) - towels and bedding, always a lot to dry...
Now, we have these absolutely gorgeous little burrowing bees at the top of the garden:
They are the most unaggressive bees I've ever met. You can walk through clouds of them and they completely ignore you - I'm not even sure they have stings. Wonderful little pollinators: you just have to be careful when hoeing that you don't fill in their burrows.
Mid morning, and next door was out using a device to pump out sulphur to smoke out (and probably kill, sulphur being poisonous to insects) the bees on his side at the top of the garden. My washing was still hanging out just over the fence.
Ever smelt sulphur? It absolutely stinks.
This morning he was out ranting at our hard-working garbage men for some imagined slight or other...
Kai got his registration completed on Sunday, and logged into his account - to find, to our horror, that the Uni hadn't cancelled his first registration, he has over a hundred lecture notes and reports from various tutors, and some bastard hacked his account and got it banned from Youtube. [headdeskheaddeskheaddesk] I'm now trying to get that sorted out...
However, my latest Starscream arrived - cheap on ebay, Bayverse but in gorgeous grey and green deco. I may very well leave him in alt mode and see if I can find a way to suspend him from the shelf...
Lunch! My stomach is grumbling...
Thursday, September 03, 2015
Eight lengths this morning!
After the appt yesterday, Kai and I walked over to Staples: I've been needing a new office chair for some time but wanted to sit on it to check it out rather than buy blind on amazon, and Kai really needs a decent desk. We both found what we were looking for - well, the desk isn't quite perfect, but as I pointed out, that's only possible if you have it custom made, and we don't have that sort of money - and the chair is being delivered today. Hopefully the desk too, but that might take up to three days, which will give us time to try to sort out the mess up there...
I promised myself I wasn't going to buy any more salt and pepper sets after finding the clockwork robots, but I spotted these in a charity shop and just couldn't resist.
Client stuff today.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
It's been exactly a year since Kai's stem cell transplant.
His haematology appt today went well: his counts are very good (although the neutrophil count may be due to him fighting his second DTP/P inoculation yesterday: he feels a bit 'flu-y). His next appt will be in three months: we'll make it once we have his uni timetable.
It's all good.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Kai's last tacrolimus today!
Labels: medical matters