graculus: (coffee)
You'd be forgiven for thinking I didn't go on holiday this year, since I may have mentioned it in the run-up to actually going but then haven't posted anything about it over here - folks who follow me on Twitter will have seen some flailing about the trip, for reasons I'll detail in due course, but that's it.

A couple of years ago, I went to WorldCon in London (that's the World Science Fiction Convention, in case anyone reading this was unaware) and at the time there was a bid in to host a future WorldCon in Helsinki, Finland. In its lengthy history, the majority of WorldCons have been in the US and I was keen to support the idea of it being this side of the Atlantic again, so bought a supporting membership. The bid was successful and 2017 was therefore when it was due to happen - in 2014, it seemed like a long way away! Anyway, I felt I should support this plan in person and, if I was going to go to Finland, it seemed like a good idea to have other things to do...

Which is how I ended up with this year's holiday - first off, a week's hiking in a National Park near the Finnish-Russian before heading back to the Baltic, a few days in Turku (medieval capital of the country) and then back to Helsinki for the con and whatever else I felt like doing. That was also how I ended up getting up at 4am to drive to the airport to get a flight to Amsterdam, then to Helsinki and then another flight north, to Kuusamo. Or at least that was the plan, until Finnair overbooked my third flight and I got stuck in Helsinki for 18 hours.

I've travelled quite a bit and this is the first time that I've ever been caught by overbooking. I think I've been lucky in that I once got stuck in Paris on the way back from a trip to Canada, but that was because the flight in was delayed and I missed the connection, not the airline selling something it didn't actually have. What other business is allowed to work that way? The only positive thing I can say about Finnair was that as well as organising a hotel & meals, they gave me compensation there and then, while other airlines have a bad reputation for expecting you to claim later and then, oddly enough, taking forever to pay you back for what you've spent.

My main concern was that I was due to join a group and knew that they'd already left the Kuusamo area and travelled into the middle of nowhere, as well as being due to go bear-watching that afternoon and that was one of the main reasons why I'd chosen that particular trip! In the end, I spent the majority of my compensation on a very long taxi ride from the airport (200km, to be precise!) and arrived just in time to bolt down a cup of coffee, run to the loo and then go bear-watching. The bears were awesome and I'll post some pics at the weekend.

The rest of the week was spent hiking 10-15km a day, with our luggage being taken to the next place we were staying, then sauna and a swim in the lake if you felt so inclined (which I did, in two different lakes, while others in the group younger than me chickened out). I also had a go at canoeing for the first time - I've kayaked before, but this whole thing with one paddle and switching hands is far too much work! The only downsides to the trip were the mosquitoes, which loved me greatly despite bug spray, and that it was too early in the season for cloudberries by about a week! They were everywhere in the bogs we were crossing and I only found one that was ripe the entire trip. :(

Then it was a flight back to Helsinki and a train to Turku for a couple of days. It's a nice, compact little city and I liked it very much, though one of the main attractions was being able to go kayaking in the Baltic for the day. The trains in Finland are significantly cheaper than in the UK (though this isn't difficult) and I definitely recommend them.

Once back in Helsinki, we had a complementary travel card for the bus and tram system as part of being a WorldCon member and this got used a lot - I was staying in the city centre, near the train station, and could either get a commuter train (10 mins) or a tram (25-30 mins), usually depending on whether I could be bothered to walk to and from the respective train stations, since the trams were also frequent. I only managed to get a bit lost once, waiting for a bus that never arrived and then deciding to walk (and walk and walk) before spotting my hotel from a distance and navigating towards it by guesswork. That was also partly caused by my not trusting my instincts, as partway through this journey I'd got on a tram that was actually going the right way then second-guessed myself and got off a couple of stops later.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy Finland was for me as a vegetarian, though I think being a vegan might be significantly more difficult. Helsinki in particular seems to have embraced soy as an alternative to meat - the local burger chain, Hesburger, was doing soy burgers and tortillas, for example - while I ate a lot of potatoes and vegetables, it wasn't anything like as one-dimensional as my trip to Newfoundland a few years back where I pretty much lived on grilled cheese sandwiches for most of my time there.

Anyway, back to WorldCon. I think my main criticism would be about the panels, but that's probably because I've been spoiled by other conventions, NineWorlds in particular. The panels were short, scheduled for an hour but really limited to 45 minutes to allow for people to get to the next panel, which then turns into 30 minutes plus time for questions. There was a problem on the first day about getting in to some of the panels as well, with the convention having to organise some additional panel rooms for subsequent days, which meant that even then people were leaving panels early - I don't really see the point of going in the first place if you're going to do that. As a result, most of the panels I went to felt a bit lightweight and at least one suffered from a lack of robust moderation, or a moderator who wouldn't shut up and let the panellists talk. It was ever thus, I guess!

I knew a few people at the con but felt the lack of people to chew stuff over with, which I've become used to. Anyway, the next European WorldCon is going to be Dublin in 2019, so I guess I'm going to Ireland again in 2 years time! Hopefully more folks I know will go and help keep me entertained.

In general though, I'm glad I went and Finland is a very beautiful but expensive country. I ate a lot of chocolate and licorice, although the salty licorice they love so much (salmiakki) is vile and I don't know how anyone can eat more than one piece. I wish I'd been there for cloudberry season and also that the mosquitoes didn't love me so much. And yes, I did sauna naked - it's traditional, you know! - but put on a swimming costume for the lake because we weren't the only people there. I highly recommend the sauna + lake combination if you ever visit...
graculus: (edna)
I was tagged by [personal profile] xochiquetzl...

5 things you’ll find in my bag: pens (always lots of pens!), ibuprofen, mobile phone, wallet, hand sanitiser
5 things you’ll find in my bedroom: books, hot water bottle, a silk wall hanging from Uzbekistan with hoopooes on it, pairs of shoes I should put away, a bag of fencing gear
5 things I’ve always wanted to do: go to the Galapagos islands, sea kayaking in Scotland, try cycling on an indoor track, become a better/stronger swimmer, sand-yachting
5 things that make me happy: students who do their homework, whenever I can get off my arse and go to the gym, the perfect parry-riposte, pizza, finding a parking space at the supermarket straight away
5 things I’m currently into: fencing, books, passing my course without dying of boredom, prevarication about lots of things, not being able to think about a fifth thing for this list
5 things on my to-do list: get more organised in terms of meals, buy a new carpet for my hallway, buy a new pair of walking shoes (since my last ones fell apart under warranty), paint my bathroom ceiling, get all my paperwork done for work

I'm actually hoping to get one of my 'always wanted to do' ticked off next summer - I need to look at the dates for something else I want to do in Scotland in July or August, as well as Nine Worlds, and then it's either kayaking or sand-yachting too, depending on how it all falls together.

I'm not so into the whole tagging thing, so anyone who's interested...
graculus: (oh shit)
Jesus, critters, you've only been in my house a little over 24 hours!

Yes, we've just had the first weasel-related drama for these particular goobers, currently still unnamed. I'd put them in the carrier I've been using for about 10 years while I sorted out their hutch only to come back after a few minutes and discover that one of them had stuck its head right through the solid mesh that made up the carrier's door and was now, naturally, completely stuck. The holes in the door are 2.5cm x 3.5cm, in case you're wondering.

Fortunately, I had a pair of wire-cutters in the house and was able to cut through and then bend the wire in question to get the little fathead out no worse for wear. If not, I'd probably be at the local fire station right about now.

Guess I'm in the market for a new pet carrier...
graculus: (Default)
Well, after thinking about the issues raised in my previous post, I decided to go ahead and get some more ferrets anyway - I've just got back from picking up a pair of silver jills, age approximately 6 months, so hopefully there won't be too much trauma for a while. Famous last words, I know!

Now I just need to think about names. My previous lot were the hobs with no name right till I needed to register them with the vet and these girls will need naming by Christmas, when they're due to be spayed.

Other than that, I'm just trying to get back into some semblance of a routine for work starting again properly next week. I'd been quite lazy before I went away, in terms of going (or not going!) to the gym, and I really felt it when I was fencing this week, since I was puffing a bit when I really shouldn't have been.

I also need to go and enrol for my course on Monday, reconciling myself to the thought that I am halfway through it now and also that a good chunk of this academic year is independent research, so if it's dull the only person I can blame is myself!
graculus: (Default)
Since poor Milo passed away late last year, this is the longest time I've been pet-less since I've owned a place of my own and now I'm starting to think about getting some more ferrets. He was on his own for over two years, getting older and scrawnier, so I didn't get any more as I'd been through the 'won't play well with others' with the terrible Buzz and ended up running two hutches as a result. Older generally also equals crankier, as who wants a young'un bouncing all over you when you're trying to nap?

Anyway, I have all the kit, including a big (expensive at the time) outdoor set-up standing vacant, and there's no issue financially around vet bills and the like. I've got someone local who can look after them if I want to go away and a vet that I trust to do his best and not gouge me for cash. So, you might ask, what's the problem?

It's the thought of going through all that shenanigans with illness and death again. Part and parcel of being a pet owner, I know, but that doesn't make me look forward to it at all. That's the main thing that's been making me hesitate, even when I know my hypothetical weasels would be spoiled rotten - how I feel about this aspect of pet ownership isn't going to change any time soon.

Anyone else felt like this? I know [personal profile] xochiquetzl has been through the mill in terms of emotions round her cats, so how do I get past this? Should I try and get past this? I'll have to if I ever want another pet in my life...
graculus: (Default)
Finally got around to see Spider-Man: Homecoming yesterday - my cinema-going tends to be Mondays and Tuesdays, because the local cinema has a money-off scheme those days, even if it means I often end up in almost-empty screens in the middle of the day. Desperately hoping at the moment that Atomic Blonde is still going to be showing when I get back, as it opens this weekend and I'm going away.

Anyway, back to your friendly neighbourhood wallcrawler. I'd gone into this movie knowing that it wasn't yet another origin story (yay for that, because who doesn't know how Spider-Man got his powers by now?) but also concerned at the amount of RDJ the posters and trailers suggested. Anyway, in general terms I enjoyed it and it just about managed not to be an Iron Man movie instead, but it was close at times.

One of the things I really liked was that the main villain character was wearing an outfit that was clearly a reference to the costume he wears in the comics I remember reading when I was a teenager. Is it ironic that Michael Keaton has gone from being Batman to a supervillain and actually does the latter much more convincingly? Not that Batman isn't mostly just one or two steps away from that anyway, I guess...

We also almost got high school aged actors playing high school students - this is Hollywood high school, so they were 20-21 (except for one actress who's 27 and pretty much looks it imho). I always think it's funny because, through the fencing club, I spend a bit of time with teenage lads in particular and the vast majority do not look anything like Hollywood high school.

I think it also makes it comfortably into my MCU top 5 (pending, of course, the arrival of Black Panther next year):

1. Captain America: Winter Soldier
2. Iron Man 3
3. Captain America: The First Avenger
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
5. Thor

So, how about you folks? Anyone else seen it? What's your MCU top 5?
graculus: (Default)
Apologies to anyone who followed me expecting fannish stuff - it'll happen, as sure as eggs is eggs, but at the moment I just seem to have more to say about fencing than anything else. *shrugs*

The pointy end goes in your opponent... )
graculus: (coffee)
Anyway, today was competition day and I came last.

At the time it was quite frustrating to see how much better than me the other folks were, and it was definitely that, embarrassingly so at times, though I guess I should have realised something was up when people arriving for the 'nice little competition' I was promised started putting on breeches with the fencing world's equivalent of go-faster stripes and stuff with GBR on the back!

Now I'm home, I can see that three of the people I fenced were in the UK top 20 for that weapon and their age-group - one of them is the no 1 in the country at the moment. Unfortunately, she wasn't the one who handed me my arse in the elimination fight, but that's a minor detail in the greater scheme of things.

Anyway, I now think it's quite funny - I definitely hope I do better when I fight my first epee competition in a couple of months.
graculus: (coffee)
Next weekend I've got my first proper competition and I'm starting to get the jitters a little. First as in 'not just our club' and 'not just for beginners', this is anyone can enter and I could therefore get my arse kicked from one end of the competition to the other.

The frustrating thing is that fencing = learning a new skill as an adult, a new physical skill at that - it's definitely harder than I remember it ever being when I was younger and also much more frustrating at times. It's not so much a learning curve as a learning rollercoaster, one that doubles back on itself like crazy too, if I can stretch the metaphor. Usually we don't learn new physical skills past our teenage years, early twenties at least, and maybe I'd forgotten what a pain it is?

I've had a couple of sessions in recent weeks at the club where I was distinctly mediocre (that feels like a kind assessment) for no apparent reason - losing badly to folks who usually beat me, it has to be said, but against whom I pretty regularly get at least a handful of hits and who I occasionally frighten a little. Those kind of fights make me feel like I'm actually making progress and that all the effort I've put in hasn't been completely wasted. It's massively frustrating to be utterly unable to do what I know I should/can do because it's got to be me - meanwhile, in my head I know that next week I'll probably be better again but that doesn't stop me from feeling like crap about it, compounded by the fact that it's the wrong time of the month for anything to go awry.

There is, of course, no way out but through. I could really do with not coming last next weekend, though. ;)
graculus: (oh please)
There's a bit of an ongoing debate in my line of work about what you need to be able to do to teach English to people where it's not their first language - some people seem to think that it's enough that you're a native speaker as if that magically gives you the ability to help other people learn it as well. Short version: it's not. Alongside this, there's the whole 'can't it all just be done by well-meaning volunteers?' argument which makes me break out in hives. As if our learners don't deserve properly-qualified teachers who know what they're doing and are paid to do the job, just because the qualification they're doing is tailored for them and not folks who were born here.

We just got some funding to run courses for people who're not otherwise eligible to access our classes (for example, we only have a very small pot of money for asylum seekers to get access to classes each year, so when it's gone that's it) and it's to support volunteers teaching them. See previous argument and why I won't be applying for the temporary secondment to run that project, because I probably couldn't keep my mouth shut about how I feel. The question is, I guess, whether it's better for folks to have something rather than nothing?

I was asked a couple of weeks back if I wouldn't mind one of the volunteers coming to spend the morning with a class I'm teaching, which I happily agreed to. It's useful for us as teachers to see other people doing stuff differently and I have no problem with someone coming in, but then the guy in question turned out to be the absolute epitome of white hipster nonsense. I had my learners asking him questions so they could practice on him and he wants to teach 'poor children in India' but hasn't really got his head around all this grammar stuff. Ugh. Get away with your white saviour BS, 'poor children in India' deserve better than you too. Thanks too for reinforcing my previous decision.
graculus: (Default)
Well, my neighbours anyway. 8 days ago, I came home from work to be greeted by the sight of one of my neighbours approximately 10 feet up their tree with a chainsaw. It's their tree, completely in their garden except for the branches that hang over into mine, so they can pretty much do what they want with it since it's not protected or anything.

We then had a brief discussion about what I should do, or let them do, in relation to any branches that ended up in my garden as a result and that was it. Apparently it blocks too much light from their kitchen so now I also have a semi-Mediterranean garden as well and will have to see what effect it has on some of the stuff I planted which was quite happy with the amount of shade there was.

Likewise, who knows when the remaining third of a tree is going to get a chainsaw taken to it? He must have started mid-afternoon and then stopped after a couple of hours, which makes little sense to me since the job is only part-done. It's true we've had a couple of wet days since then - chainsaws and water don't really mix well - I'd kind of expected the rest of the massacre would happen sooner rather than later, though to be perfectly honest I'd rather they got up to chainsaw-related shenanigans when I'm out of the house.

I have college work to get finished this weekend, so what's the bet we'll hear the revving of chainsaws at an inconvenient time tomorrow?
graculus: (Default)
I don't know if it's just me, so here goes:

A certain fandom-notorious author has been the subject of apparent threats of physical violence at an upcoming con, with a bit of shit-posting on Twitter about how folks planned to gang up on her in the bathroom. Anyway, other well-known authors flock to her defence, posts are made telling Twitter support to delete the accounts, and so on (as you'd expect).

Now maybe I've been in fandom too long and seen too many things to take everything immediately at face value. You see, I remember the girl in SG-1 fandom who tried to tell people she'd lost family in 9/11 and then maybe she had cancer too, I don't recall the exact details.

Maybe it's genuine and we certainly know there are enough stupid folks out there on the interwebs but did anyone else think 'uh oh, could it be sockpuppetry?' or was that just me?
graculus: (Default)
A few entries ago, I mentioned someone who's recently joined our fencing club and thinks he's the dog's bollocks but who had already started to annoy me because of that and the way he has of butting in on other people's conversations. I'd already decided he was a bit of an arsehole and last night he confirmed that decision, so my arsehole-detecting powers are still good.

There tends to be a bit of an overlap between us older beginners arriving and the end of the junior lessons, so there's often a bit of chat while we wait for the whirlwind of small children divesting themselves of fencing kit to subside enough for us to get into the hall without being mown down. Somehow the conversation between me and S got onto martial arts movies and he made a comment about how he liked Chinese martial arts better because Japanese ones were for [insert homophobic slur here]. It's been longer than S has been alive since I've tolerated that kind of comment and I bluntly told him I didn't want to hear that kind of language.

Naturally, he then doubles down (because what young white guy likes to be told anything?) and starts going on about how it's just 'banter'. Which I then promptly told him was just so much bullshit, that he needed to not make assumptions about the people around him or that anyone around us agreed with him and his comments and that the concept of 'banter' was just about trying to get away with being offensive with no consequences. Equally naturally, the whole 'oh, I'm not PC' came in there, which I informed him was just shorthand for 'I don't care about other people and their feelings so long as I can say what I want'.

Gah. That whole 'oh, it's just banter' is just so much crap. That was probably the worst response he could have made, though I doubt he's got sufficient insight to see anything beyond how much he loves himself.
graculus: (Default)
We're almost at the stage of finalising my classes for September - it always seems a little odd to be thinking that I'll know my routine through to well past this time next year that far in advance, but it's the only way to do it, so there we are. From preliminary discussions, it's looking very much like a re-run of this year, two weekday mornings, two weekday afternoons and a Saturday morning class but less of them so I can enter some fencing competitions and have room to manoeuvre dates as required.

I'm starting to get disorganised in my head, because we're really on the home stretch now and I can almost taste the end of term. One more week and then it's half term and, at the moment, I don't have as many commitments in terms of invigilation as usual - I'm not quite so stretched for money and am teaching more hour, so I didn't offer as much availability as usual. At the moment I only have 3 exams for the actual half term week where previously I've worked all day pretty much every day, but I also have a bunch of stuff I need to get finished for my college course so there's plenty of reasons why I'm not so worried about that.

I also just picked up another, short-term, class through to mid-July but that's relatively stress-free as I've been given the okay to do without exams and it's easy for me to just re-use material I already have for a new audience. It's also extra money on top of my existing hours, so that's nice and will go a good way to paying for my expensive Finland trip. Of course, I made that trip (hello, WorldCon!) more expensive than it needed to be by adding on a hiking expedition beforehand and some time in Turku too, but I figure I may well never visit again so why not?

The only problem is that I also made the mistake of watching a documentary series about the Hebrides so now I want to go back and am wondering if I can squeeze a week in Scotland in there too before I start work again in September, though I may have to skip a potential competition to do it. I need to have a look at the dates and figure it out.
graculus: (Default)
Okay, so I was curious...

I have 88 stories on AO3 at the time of writing, with a grand total of 662,705 words. Guess those novel-length stories really help, huh? At the moment it works out at 27 in Magnificent Seven, 22 in the TV version of UNCLE, 18 in Stargate SG-1, 12 in the movie version of UNCLE and 9 in Wild Wild West.

Top 5 stories by hits:
1. More Than Meets the Eye - 5155, Man from UNCLE movie
2. Larger Than Life - 5129, Man from UNCLE movie
3. The Games Agents Play - 3096, Man from UNCLE movie
4. Modus Vivendi - 2945, Man from UNCLE movie
5. Exigent Circumstances - 2187, Man from UNCLE movie

Yep, I see a bit of a trend here, a short-lived flush of interest in a particular fandom just as people were wanting to read it, on trend for once! My first Magnificent Seven fic appears at number 7 on the list, the first fic for the TV version of UNCLE crops up at number 8. The big jump for hits for the first two is also probably affected by my posting them as WiP.

Top 5 stories by kudos:
1. Larger Than Life - 355, Man from UNCLE movie
2. More Than Meets the Eye - 245, Man from UNCLE movie
3. Vitality - 144, Man from UNCLE movie
4. Togetherness - 117, Man from UNCLE movie
5. Modus Vivendi - 117, Man from UNCLE movie

Another strong showing for a certain fandom. I'm quite pleased to see Vitality and Togetherness cropping up on there, because you kind of expect longer fic to get kudos more?

Top 5 stories by bookmarks:
1. Larger Than Life - 99, Man from UNCLE movie
2. More Than Meets the Eye - 49, Man from UNCLE movie
3. Obligations - 30, Magnificent Seven
4. Modus Vivendi - 27, Man from UNCLE movie
=5. Exigent Circumstances - 25, Man from UNCLE movie
=5. Three's (Not Always) A Crowd - 25, Man from UNCLE movie

Yay, a fic from another fandom finally makes it onto the list, as does my ridiculous threesome-of-convenience fic, which I had a lot of fun writing.
graculus: (olivia)
What is it about a piece of media that grabs me and makes me want to interact with it in any way? I've been thinking about this quite a lot because there's not really been anything new that's made me want to write, at least since the Man from UNCLE movie and you could possibly argue that was just an extension of an older interest, though the movie versions of the characters and the TV show versions were also different enough to argue the exact opposite!

Anyway, for me there are various levels where source material is concerned:

Level 0 - I have no interest in interacting with it, despite (or sometimes because of, I'm looking at you Firefly fandom) other people's views on it

Level 1 - I read/watch the source material and have no interest in further accounts of the characters

Level 2 - I read/watch the source material and read fanfic

Level 2a - the source material carries on but I stop reading/watching at a certain point and carry on reading (at least some of) the fanfic

Level 3 - I read/watch the source material and both read fanfic and write it myself

I'm a bit of a completist so I tend not to want to write about something till I'm sure I have a real grasp on everything about it, so that's not really a good marker for live source material, which is probably why I've more recently been writing stuff from closed canon. I'm not sure I could cope with the level of assholery often shown by showrunners any more - it was bad enough first time around and few of them seem to have learned anything from their own and other's mistakes.

The problem is, that even if I were inclined to start writing for a new live fandom, there really doesn't seem to be anything out there that I actually find engaging enough to kick me up to Level 3. There's plenty of stuff which has made me get to Level 2 but no further - for example, I love the Peter Grant books and really like reading the fic but have zero interest in trying to write my own.

There are no stories out there for me in that material. Where Level 3 is concerned, some of it is 'I've got this great idea and other people would mess it up if they wrote it, so I need to write it' - thoughts of 'I could do better' were certainly how I got started writing in the first place, even though I subsequently discovered it wasn't as easy as it looked! I wonder if also I am less inclined to have those stories if I see other people producing them and doing it well? Though that wouldn't explain wanting to write UNCLE, which always had a plethora of quality fic I enjoyed reading.

So, what makes a set of source material move from one level to the next? Well, for starters there needs to be a set of characters who I am interested in and want to get to know - usually if I find them aesthetically pleasing that also helps immensely, though that's not sufficient in itself. For example, I've been watching Legends of Tomorrow because of a couple of characters and despite a couple of others: I immediately wanted more of Sara Lance and also liked the whole Snart & Rory dynamic (I've always had a bit of a thing for bad people trying to do good things despite their nature). Sadly, there are also a couple of characters on the show who are interchangeable bland generic white bread hetero males, one recently introduced because of [something spoilery] because there weren't enough on the show already I guess?

There also needs to be some chemistry between the characters I like and of course, as with anything subjective, YMMV whether particular characters have that special something going on or not. That's probably part 2 of the previous point, really, since it goes hand-in-hand with the 'characters I'm interested in' aspect. I can be interested in the character but if there's no spark, then nada in terms of moving on to even Level 2. It doesn't have to be romantic or sexual, just something that tells me character A gives a damn about character B and then hello 50k word angst fest as character A is kidnapped and loses their memory and character B has to rescue them. Or something else, possibly involving naked sexy times but I can live without that.

The one I still don't quite get is that step between Level 2 and Level 3, whatever constitutes the tipping point between reading and writing. For example, I've been reading lots of stuff set in the MCU (including a shedload of Sam/Steve, Steve/Bucky and Sam/Steve/Bucky but other stuff too) and still have zero stories for it myself. Nothing, nada, zilch. Even though I've read stuff that was so relentlessly mediocre it made my eyes water, so it's not the 'I could do better' aspect, that's for certain!

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
graculus: (coffee)
Okay, so it was actually last week now I look at my old entries, but I knew it was somewhere around Easter that I started - yes, as of last week I've been fencing for a year!

I'm still attending the beginner's session and plan to do that until they kick me out because I'm still learning all the time. If When I get kicked out, my plan is to join another local club in addition to mine and get my extra stabbing in that way - how my club runs is that the beginners have an hour and then the more experienced folks turn up and, if we want to, we stay and fight as many of them as will agree. If I lose that first hour, I'm just going to have to make up the difference somehow and I'm also gradually accumulating kit so I'm pretty sure that will also give me more options than someone who needs to borrow everything.

I'm now also practising with two weapons regularly - the first hour is always foil, except for the week in February where our coach went 'shall we do epee this week?' and we all shrugged, so we did. Since then, I've been regularly fighting epee bouts in the second session and learning on the job (with advice as we go from other fencers and the coaches). Both foil and epee are about stabbing people, but the target area and the rules are different. The most recent advice I got from the coach was that I was getting too close and getting hit because of that, so I've got to try to hold back and watch a little more, which is completely against my nature!

I've also entered my first non-beginner's (foil) competition but I've got a while to panic about that/get ready for that. Because I've been fighting epee, I'm also thinking about doing an epee competition some time just to see how far I actually am from being competitive - there's one coming up next month I could do, though that's probably a bit soon, otherwise there's a well-attended one in October that would be ideal.

I've also met the first person at my club who completely bugs the crap out of me, which took 10 months so I suppose I should be happy about that. He's so full of himself and if he was as good as he thinks he is, then we'd have an Olympic contender in our midst! Also, I wouldn't be able to take points off him (which I do regularly), and though I haven't beaten him yet I'm pretty sure my time will come... given that I'm twice his age, I don't think I'm doing so badly. He also likes to muscle in on conversations, which is something that really winds me up - I was chatting with one of the coaches about local competitions, getting his advice about which ones to enter and which ones to avoid, and Dumbass decided we really needed his opinion too.

Anyway, minor irritations aside, a year in and I'm still enjoying stabbing people and intend to carry on doing it for as long as physically possible.
graculus: (Default)
I really don't know. I can see a bunch of folks resolutely declaring that they have no intention of shifting off LJ and others moving over here, but maybe this isn't quite as much of a devastating blow to fandom on LJ as it would have been five or ten years ago. The days of the massive communities which were the heart of any given fandom seem to be in the past, unless there's stuff going on (which is quite possible) in fandoms I'm uninvolved with to give the lie to my opinion.

For myself, I really don't know either. I'd backed up to this account so my personal stuff isn't an issue, but I'll probably end up going over to LJ and having to agree to the TOS one way or another - I have a couple of communities which are slash-heavy but also not active for years, so perhaps it's time for some housekeeping. And then there's Danielpix, which I stopped posting to in January but feel differently about because of the significant part it played in my life for so long and the sheer size of it. Because it's picture-heavy rather than written, I doubt it's in such a vulnerable position unless LJ decides to start going after people for copyright violation, I guess. I'm tempted to just archive it, by removing everyone's posting rights, because deleting it seems wrong somehow.

In other news, I have escaped being saddled with the most annoying guy on my course as we get ready to do small group presentations. Just a couple more sessions of tedium and then I'm done for the year! And an observation tomorrow, which naturally comes when I'm tackling how you plan writing, possibly the most dreary part of the curriculum. Pah.

Better news came around when I told my boss I was probably going to need some more Saturdays off because I wanted to do some competitions - I've entered the first proper non-beginners one, which is in July but on a Sunday - I was pleased that her immediate response was 'well, I believe in work-life balance' and then she suggested we just list the course as less classes overall for the year and adjust the dates as required. Naturally, the competitions are not quite spread out evenly, because I'm roughly looking at one in early November, another early February and one late March, but that's also not too close together either. We're starting to plan next year's classes, so at least I should know within the next month or so what I'm likely to be asked to do from September, even if the exact Saturday dates may need tweaking once competition dates are finalised.
graculus: (Default)
I have an assignment due in tomorrow, so of course I'm dicking around online instead. ;)

It's not too bad, I've done most of the work but just need to pull it together and then find some references to back up why I've done what I've done. It's all about using technology for learning, so I've been running an Instagram group with one of my classes and that's provided a lot of source material to talk about - they also gave me some written feedback about their experiences, since I'd deliberately chosen one of my smaller but more adept classes to do this with!

From conversations with other folks on my course, the general feeling seems to be that pretty much everyone is bored, not just me, so that's kind of a relief I guess? A number of the sessions seem to be 'research this while you're here and tell everyone else about it' which seems kind of lazy when used as a method repeatedly. Do some bloody teaching, earn your money! We're almost at the end of the first year, thank the elder gods, though I still have two observed teaching sessions to get through. Those are a pain, not because of doing the teaching but because of all the paperwork I have to provide justifying why I'm doing X rather than Y or Z, with references of course!

In terms of work, I'm rapidly heading towards the Easter break with just 2 weeks left - one of my classes finishes next week but the other two don't and I've also got exams to do for my own class and a few for other people. And then a couple of weeks off, coincidentally when my fencing club is also closed! *runs around waving her arms in the air*

I think I'm also about to make myself a little unpopular with my boss as we're heading towards the time of year when she timetables the classes for September onwards. As I'm sure you can imagine, there's not a massive queue of people wanting to teach on a Saturday morning and I'd kind of felt last year that it was my turn to do it. It didn't make much difference for me in terms of any other commitments, so why not? Because fencing competitions often seem to put women's foil on the Saturday, that's why not! Aaaargh. In the coming academic year there'll be at least 2 extra Saturdays I won't want to work and that means either finding extra dates to accommodate the replacement classes or finding someone to cover those dates but also hoping I don't have to cancel any because of sickness. Naturally, those competitions have also not yet finalised their dates for 2017-18 because why should they?
graculus: (Default)
Ugh, norovirus. Well, that was Saturday - I had lots of things planned for my class but spent pretty much all day in a small circuit between bed and toilet, which was not fun at all. I thought it was food poisoning at first, but on the rare occasions I come down with that (last time, it was eating yoghurt without checking the Best Before date), as soon as I puke I feel much better. This time, not so much. I literally couldn't keep anything down at all on Saturday and even drinking water was debatable at times.

So that means I need to try and find another Saturday to catch up that missed class, since most of the folks on it are paying for themselves, but that's a job for later this week when I can check which Saturdays the building is open. It also got me out of college tonight, because you're supposed to stay home for 48 hours, but I could have done without the reason for it!

In other news, I'm currently struggling a bit with finding good fanfic to read. I've been reading all sorts of stuff but the majority of it doesn't really strike me as good enough to rec and there's only been a few exceptions to that rule (since it's always lovely when someone whose writing you like gets sucked into your fandom, hello [personal profile] przed!). That ice-skating anime seems to have infected lots of people but I'm still catching up with Legend of Korra for the first time, so the chances of me getting that particular bug are slim to none.

However, I did stumble across some stonkingly good original fic and would like to recommend it - The Course of Honour by Avoliot. Lots of slow burn angsty arranged marriage stuff and updating regularly, currently 9 chapters in and still going strong. *sighs happily*

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