nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Mar. 18th, 2014 09:59 pm)
I felt the urge to rewrite my introduction so I thought I’d use it as a starting point for a Subscription Meme, as I haven’t seen one going around for a while.

I’ve made a template, which I’ve filled out very wordily below. Please feel free to adapt it to your wishes, and please link this post wherever you like. (Please participate or share? I'm going to feel very sad if this entry sits here alone with 0 comments...)

Subscription Meme template:
<b>People in this journal</b>
<b>About my job</b>
<b>Some random facts</b>
<b>Things I like to do</b>
<b>Social media usage</b>
<b>>Subscriptions, access and commenting</b>
<b>What I’d like to get from my participation here</b>

My responses! )
nanila: (manning: uberbitch)
( Dec. 15th, 2014 11:38 am)
At my last visit to the midwife, she waxed lyrical over my assertion that I plan to breastfeed Keiki as I did Humuhumu for the first six months, tapering off once I went back to work and switching to the bottle. I found myself getting deeply uncomfortable as she carried on talking and became more obviously comfortable extolling the benefits of breastfeeding over bottle-feeding. I distinctly felt as though she were trying to make me feel somehow superior to someone who replied, “No, I plan to bottle-feed from the start,” and I did not enjoy the experience.

It reminded me of the NCT* classes we took before Humuhumu was born two years ago. We have made some good local friends from the classes, so overall I was pleased with the outcome, but there was one portion of it that I loathed: the breastfeeding session. It was held on a Tuesday evening, and we sat for 2.5 hours listening to a woman bang on about the gloriousness of breastfeeding. When we asked if any information about bottle-feeding was to be presented, she reacted not quite with horror, but certainly with disapproval, and ultimately refusal.

Of the eight sets of parents in that NCT group, two of us ended up breastfeeding our babies. (One very determined mother couldn’t get her baby to latch, but she pumped milk for five and a half months, every four hours, and bottle-fed her little girl. I don’t like to imagine how exhausting that must have been.) All the rest ended up bottle-feeding, and found it their stress levels elevated because of the lack of information and encouragement given in our classes. In my opinion, everyone in our class should have been given a checklist of the size and number of bottles that would be needed, the type of teats to use, sterilisation techniques and a quick tutorial on measuring and mixing formula. Figuring all that out on the fly when the need became immediate was terrible for the new mums in my group, especially the ones who had difficult births and were very unwell in the early days.

I am not a big fan of using ignorance, scorn and guilt as tactics to force people into a certain course of action. I consider this to be pretty clear (albeit anecdotal) evidence of why that doesn’t work.

My own experience with breastfeeding was not all sunshine and roses. The first two weeks were a nightmare. Humuhumu didn’t know how to latch properly at first and the damage her little mouth did in the first few days took some time to heal. I was in excruciating pain. I very nearly gave up and switched to bottle-feeding until I discovered Lansinoh (lanolin cream). It became easier after I’d healed, but it is still no picnic being the one who has to wake up at least twice a night for weeks in order to feed the baby, with no help from your partner**. Nor is it fun working out how to breastfeed in public. It takes practise to do it discreetly, and even if you are nicely covered you still get people glaring at you. Because despite the pressure to breastfeed because of its benefits (most of which are both temporary and slight), no one actually wants to see a woman doing it, so we should all stay at home until our children are weaned. Slow-clap for society on that one.

I was also absurdly lucky in that Humuhumu began to sleep through the night at two months. (I tend to keep this fact to myself, as it often elicits disbelief and rage from other new parents.)

There are enough pressures on new parents to do exactly the right things for their children in order to raise them in the best and healthiest manner possible. I’m tired of seeing people judge one another for their choice of breast v bottle. Judgy person, you have no idea why a mother at the cafe is bottle-feeding her child instead of breastfeeding. Maybe that’s pumped breast milk because her nipples are really sore. Maybe her newborn was tongue-tied and couldn’t latch. Maybe she went three continuous weeks without more than an hour of sleep a night. Maybe she’s on medication that enters her bloodstream and could be harmful to the baby. Maybe she had to go back to work as soon as possible to support her new family. Maybe her boobs blew off in a typhoon. Maybe it’s none of your damned business.

* National Childbirth Trust, which offers classes for clueless middle-class career people in how to look after an infant after a couple of decades of selfishness. They don’t advertise that way but that’s effectively what they are.
** I hasten to point out that this is not necessarily because Partner is unwilling to help, but because it makes more sense for Partner to get some sleep and be able to take care of things like cooking and cleaning and holding down their job.
The nominees for paid account time on Dreamwidth have been put into the virtual hat, and the Random Thing Picker has chosen the winners.

These are:

12 months of paid account time for [personal profile] strangecharm and
6 months of paid account time for [personal profile] aella_irene.

Thank you to all those who participated!
I’m spending some of my pre-maternity annual leave indulging in a pastime I don’t get to very often: computer gaming. I occasionally play something on my phone or tablet (Scrabble, solitaire, crosswords, Angry Birds, Plague Inc) but it’s not the same to me as firing up something on my desktop machine and diving in for a while.

It’s taken me a couple of decades to accept, but I’ve refined a set of pretty clear desirables that keep me from wasting money on new games. I don’t go for console-based games (there are enough electronic gizmos ruling my life, thx), first-person shooters, racing or anything requiring a monthly subscription. I only ever get to play for 2-3 weeks a year if I’m lucky, and I’d rather keep from getting wound up and frustrated by them instead of relaxed, which is the point.

  1. Single player. I don’t do multiplayer games, let alone MMORPGs. I don’t want to set up times to play games with people I know I like (I spend much of my working life organising things) and the time I tried World of Warcraft, which was very pretty and I liked flying around and fishing and making potions but disliked pretty much everything else, I had exactly one enjoyable interaction with a random person. I recall an old webcomic in which a female character goes into a shop to buy a game, and the (male) sales attendant tries to get her to purchase the latest, shiniest MMORPG which he insists is much better than the single-player game she wants. Eventually she shouts at him, “The last thing I want to do to unwind is interact with other humans!” Yep.

  2. Vital formulaic elements. These are: Rewards for thorough explorations of areas, puzzles to solve, monsters to kill and treasure to find. I also don’t want anything to be stupidly difficult. I never play above “normal” settings (mostly because to play on the harder ones usually requires practice and/or cheat sheet research, neither of which I have time to indulge in). I like a nice steady pace of leveling up, and finding and using shiny new toys on a regular basis.

  3. Minions. I may not want human interaction whilst playing games, but I do like to tackle monsters with companions. I tend to prefer ranged classes of attackers rather than tanks.

  4. Crafts. I like it when there are side pursuits for the characters. (Chocobo-breeding!) Making weapons/armour/potions/gems and collecting materials for these is a fun diversion when I’m bored of building up my character to the next boss fight.

  5. Pretty. Darkly pretty is even better. There should be time to enjoy exploring and appreciate the pretty, and ways to customise my character so they are pretty too.

  6. Bite-size. I rarely play for stretches longer than an hour. There are too many other activities I want to mix in, like working, tidying, writing, putzing on the internet, editing photos, etc. The style of play has to be reasonably forgiving. I need to be able to put my character down someplace safe and leave them for undefined lengths of time (er, up to a year) on very little notice.

For those of you who play games, whatever the medium, what do you consider essential to your enjoyment of the experience?

(On a different note: The Seasonal Giving poll for DW account time closes this Friday, 12 December. If you'd like to nominate someone, please do so here.)
nanila: (tachikoma: celebratory)
( Dec. 5th, 2014 08:48 pm)
Today was my last day at work before my pre-maternity annual-leave use-up commences on Monday. I still have a few things on my list to tidy up, but they won't be onerous. I also did a Skype call with my work colleagues. At 13:30. While still in my pyjamas. \o/

At 5 PM, I received an e-mail from HR about an update to my maternity leave letter. That set off the bells of panic and alarm until I discovered that due to changes in the college's maternity leave policy, we now receive an additional two weeks of leave at full pay. \o/

There is also a new Humuhumu snippet to share. She is presently quite fond of the word "No", which leads bloke and I to perform a lot of mental gymnastics trying to present things to her as either/or choices rather than yes/no. This is surprisingly difficult and tiring, but you see, this is what happens when you attempt to trick her with a set of quick-fire questions.

“Do you want to finish your pasta?”
“Do you want to take off your shoes?”
“Is it bath time?”
“Is your favourite word ‘No’?”


Right, now to get on with putting the finishing touches on Keiki, possibly with the aid of a slice of pecan pie. Go, body, go!
As in years past, I'm going to give donations to charities on behalf of your good selves, Dreamwidth Circle, if you're willing to click the buttons in the poll below.

I will donate the amount I’d otherwise spend on a card and postage to the following three charities on your behalf - £1.50 per person. If you select more than one charity, I’ll divide the donation among them. Hence, if you select all three, I’ll donate 50 pence to each on your behalf. I’m not planning to name anyone other than myself when I make the donations. The poll is completely anonymised and located only on Dreamwidth.

If you are able to make a small reciprocal donation on my behalf as well, that would be wonderful, but it is by no means obligatory. Please select from the following three charities:

  1. Medecins sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) is an international aid organisation that provides emergency aid to people affected by natural and less-natural disasters and war. They are independent, a-partisan and a-religious and use this independence to provide medical aid to everyone who needs it. (Description taken from [personal profile] innerbrat.) They were pretty much the reason the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa this year was even remotely effective, and I plan to double the donation total to this charity because of that.

  2. Mind is a UK charity that "provide[s] advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding."

  3. The Abortion Support Network is a volunteer-run a-partisan charity that "provides financial assistance, accommodation in volunteer homes, and confidential, non-judgmental information to women in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who are travelling to England to access a safe and legal abortion." If you want to know why I’ve chosen this charity, I invite you to read why I’m pro-choice and/or the story of my abortion experience. (Trigger warnings on the latter for blood and emotional and physical pain.)

Poll #16219 Seasonal giving, Part 2
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 42

I would like Nanila to donate on my behalf to the following charity or charities.

Medecins Sans Frontieres
30 (71.4%)

22 (52.4%)

The Abortion Support Network
34 (81.0%)

I'll tally up the votes and make my donation by solstice (21 December). Comments are screened and will remain so.
I don't have the energy to participate in Chatty December, but I do have the energy for some Seasonal Giving. Here is Part 1, in which I'm offering the following:

  • Six months of paid Dreamwidth account time
  • One year of paid Dreamwidth account time

To nominate someone for either of these, please enter their username in the following poll. Other points to consider are:

  • I don't need to know, interact with, or have anything in common with your nominee, so please don't worry if they don't overlap in our Circles.
  • Self-nomination is absolutely OK. I won't know anyway, because the poll is anonymised.
  • Sharing this entry is absolutely OK.
  • If you would like to identify yourself as the nominator of a user (e.g. "I put in so-and-so's name") so that, if they're selected, they know their donor's name, you can do so in the screened comments on this entry. Please don't feel obliged to do this.
  • I will be drawing the two names out of a hat after the poll closes (next Friday 12 December).

One caveat: Seed Account users won't be included in this round of Seasonal Giving, as additional account time wouldn't be of use to them.

Poll #16215 Seasonal giving, Part 1
This poll is closed.
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 14

I would like to nominate the following user for 6 or 12 months of paid Dreamwidth account time.

nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Dec. 1st, 2014 08:36 pm)
Humuhumu had a young gentleman caller this last weekend. She took a bit of a shine to him and invited him to join her in the "big bed".

Hee, the big bed!

So nice to recline on the nest of pillows.

Baby-burrito & bubble-blower.
The last of the press releases I was waiting for to make Announcements About Space came out yesterday so I can now write my Post of Great Happiness.

  1. The European Space Agency's Cluster mission, studying the Earth's plasma environment and interaction with the heliosphere, has been extended from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016. This is the mission's seventh extension - the original mission began at the start of 2001 and was scheduled to last for two years. It is both astonishing and wonderful that all four spacecraft have lasted this long and continue to return such a rich seam of results. The quartet of spacecraft, flying in a tetrahedral formation, have gradually been approaching closer and closer to Earth, exploring different regions of the magnetosphere. It will be years, probably decades, before the potential of the data can be said to have been mined exhaustively.

    The instrument I work on (the magnetometer) is fully operational on all four spacecraft. A couple of years ago, I calculated that I'd personally inspected tens of millions of magnetic field vectors. I suspect that number may have since entered the hundreds of millions.

  2. Support for the European instruments aboard the joint NASA-ESA Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn has been approved by ESA's Science Programme Committee. Cassini is scheduled to take its final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in late 2017. The magnetometer (our instrument) is still going strong.

  3. Other missions that I don't work on personally, but know people who do, also had two-year extensions approved: INTEGRAL, Mars Express, PROBA-2, SOHO, XMM-Newton, Hinode and HST. So many different types of exciting science!

    Also, holy long-lasting spacecraft, Batman. Cluster is far from the most venerable. SOHO was launched in 1995 and went into operation, observing the Sun, in 1996. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990. 1990. I hadn't the faintest inkling that I would end up becoming a scientist in 1990. /o\

  4. Finally, the really big one. The JUICE mission to the Jupiter system, which will be the first spacecraft to orbit one of the Galilean moons (Ganymede), has been formally adopted by the agency. This means we are now allowed to leave the design phase, wherein our spacecraft and instruments exist only on paper (lots and LOTS of paper), and enter the implementation phase, wherein we begin to Build Things. I am both proud and excited to be a part of one of the instrument teams.

And now, I must go and rescue my pumpkin and pecan pies from beneath the noses of bloke and cat, for we are celebrating American Thanksgiving tomorrow.
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Nov. 26th, 2014 08:12 am)
Humuhumu, the bloke and I are at the table, finishing off breakfast. Humuhumu slips off to the sitting room. Suspicious noises are heard.

Me: "Baby, what are you doing?"
More noises
Bloke: "Pops, on a scale of one to ten, how naughty are you being?"
Brief silence
Humuhumu: "Six!"


Phone conversation, early morning of the second of my work days in London.

Me: "Oh, you're off early!"
Bloke: "Of course. We run a tighter ship when the Mama is away."
Me: "Oh really. What did you two have for breakfast this morning?"
Bloke: "....crumpets and mince pies."
This morning, I received an e-mail from a restaurant about a "Christmas Bokking", prompting visions of my fellow lab denizens and myself turning up for our meal dressed as chickens.

Later, someone on my telecon uttered the following words in all seriousness: "So wait, is this the problem we were having with time going backward?"

Poll #16170 Chickens v Time
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 41

Which is better?

View Answers

Christmas bokking
17 (41.5%)

Time going backward
24 (58.5%)