Review: Motherload

The last podiobook that I finished while the Reading Program was going, was Motherload by David Collins-Rivera.

Continuing the trend of mostly-science-fiction, in this story we find a guy called Ejoq. He finds himself out of work after the company he worked for went under. Stuck on the planet that had been his destination, and his savings depleting, he manages to get a job on a small vessel that’s supposed to be extra security for freighters, who have been having problems with pirates in the area.

Ejoq and his crewmates soon find their vessel is not quite as well-equipped as it’s supposed to be, and trouble is on the way.

Motherload consists of 3 episodes, about 50 minutes each. The world seemed well thought-through: the economics of employment, the logic of how systems on the ships are laid out. The personalities of the crew: The captain with no leadership skills, the enterprising engineer trying to keep everything together, and so on.

This story is the first in the Stardrifter series. The second story, Street Candles, is also available on Podiobooks. I have to say, after listening to Motherload, I am looking forward to spending more time in this universe.

Street Candles was 40 episodes long, and I knew I couldn’t squeeze much of it at all into the time frame of this year’s Reading Program, and I have a lot of podcasts I’ve put on hold that I’d like to catch up with, so I picked a shorter thing to round out the audiobooks portion of my reading this year. But next year? I have an idea of what’s going onto the mp3 player first.

Service Book Editing

Father Dan visited on Thursday. We ended up not doing the Vespers service, but we got a lot of pointers on the parts we hadn’t been doing. Some wasn’t in the materials we had.

I wonder if we’ll settle into a time of “Well, we’ll learn this chunk next, and when we’ve got the hang of that, we’ll add another chunk”.

For example, there’s 8 Tones (a Tone could loosely be described as a Tune), but it seems that there are parts of the Vespers service where one might veer off into using a Tone other than the one that, in general, one ought to be using for that week.

So I wonder if we’ll spend some weeks sticking with One Tone Per Service until we’ve got the hang of some parts we’ve been skipping (it might not take all 8 weeks to figure it out).

After two songs in our sets of music, there was another song, that wasn’t mentioned in the white service book (I think they were mentioned in the red book, but I think one was truncated there). We found out another (related) song is supposed to slip in after another song, but it wasn’t in the sets of music, or mentioned in either service book. As the songs are related, we were told we could just repeat the first one.

Went hunting for that song today (I say “that song”, really there’s 8 of them, one for each Tone), found at least four sets of words, and at least three sets of music. One of the musics matched the Tones we’re already doing. I added the text of these into the with-Priesty version of the text-only service books I’ve been working on, and added some things based on notes I made on Thursday.

Got a bunch of changes to make on the other books (some the same as the ones I’ve made today, which should be straightforward).

Busy week ahead, getting ready for family coming, then family being here for a couple of weeks. Might be able to fit in some of that editing in the next couple of days anyway.

Some Friends And Some Games

Tonight we had some friends come over, organised rather at the last minute. One of them lives abroad and was only back for a few weeks, and this was her last weekend before going back.

As is fairly often the case when we meet this family, we played games, and as is also fairly often the case, some of them we hadn’t played before.

When playing games, often the first time you play one, it takes longer, and isn’t the most interesting or fun time that can be had playing it. Not all of these we got to play a second time.

First up was Coup. You have two cards, that can do certain things. On your turn you can choose to do one of those things, one of three other relatively safe options, or one of the special abilities on a card you don’t have. If you get caught using a card you don’t have, there are penalties.

Seems like one you need to play a few times to be familiar enough with the cards, so you can lie more easily. In this game you’re supposed to lie. A lot of us didn’t, and it probably would have been more interesting if we did. Still interesting.

The second game we played was No Thanks!. There are cards numbered from 3 to 35, 9 are removed (at random) before play. You are trying to get the lowest number of points. The top card of the deck is revealed, players decide whether they want it (take it), or pass (put a token on it). Each token is worth -1 point, which can offset high-point cards that have been passed on by other players. Of course, you have a finite number of tokens, so after you use them all, you must take the card. If you have a run of cards, then you only score for the lowest-point card in the run.

I did relatively well at this one, in the couple of rounds we played of it.

Red 7 reminded me of a very simplified game of Fluxx (or possibly a more complicated Trumpet).

The cards have two attributes: a colour and a number. There are 7 colours and 7 numbers. There’s a Canvas pile (which dictates the rules you’re currently playing by), and your own “palette”.

The overriding rule is that you must be winning at the end of your turn. The Canvas pile dictates what constitutes “winning”, and your Palette is what you’re judged on.

For example, the Red rule is that you must have the highest card. Looking in all the players Palettes, the winner would be who has the highest number (7 beats 1), and if multiple people have that number, you go by “suit”: Red is the best, Violet is the worst. And rainbow order in between.If you can’t win at the end of your turn, you’re out. But he round goes pretty quick, anyway.

Then we played Harbour, which I brought to the table (figuratively, not literally: I got Oldest to fetch it to show people, then my wife kindly brought it to the right table when it was time to play, ongoing leg pain and all that).

This one was a bit more complicated, particularly for peoples’ first times, and I did play, so I tried to be helpful with suggesting things that would be good for the newbies to do (which stepped on the toes, a bit, of one of the players, because I suggested to other people moves that she was considering for herself).

I still won, quite convincingly: I saved up so I could sell all the resources for $5 each, and the Library appeared early on, which lets you buy twice in a turn. I used it to buy a 9-pointer and 11-pointer (similarly costed), and later used it to buy two 10-pointers. As those points were at the upper end of the game, and other people only had two buildings each, they declined to take their final turns (foregone conclusion, and all that), and declared me the winner.

After some hanging out, the last game of the night was Love Letter.

This is an absurdly simple one to set up: deal each player one card, and set one card aside to retain an element of doubt.

After having to lie in Coup, you absolutely must tell the truth in Love Letter.

Each turn, you draw one card, and play one of the two cards you are then holding. There are ways to get other people knocked out of the round (the rounds are quick, and the player is back in for the next round). The winner of each round is either the last one still in t he round, and if there’s more than one at that point, then the one with the highest-scoring card in hand. The winner of the game, is the first one to win four rounds.

This game almost played itself, but not quite, sometimes due to luck, sometimes to deduction. (For an example of a game that really plays itself, think of Snakes and Ladders. The humans are only needed for rolling the dice, in that one.) Had fun playing Love Letter.

Of the games I hadn’t played before, I think I liked Love Letter best, followed by Red 7, Coup then No Thanks. I think more plays could improve my enjoyment of Coup, I’m not sure No Thanks would benefit the same way from that method.

I had fun playing hte games, and a great evening visiting with friends.

Reading Program ends

Me: 8 x 4hr blocks read. 8 x 8hr blocks read. All that counted toward the Reading Program. Additional 2 x 8hr blocks read, didn’t manage to get credit for that, with 4 hrs remainder on top of that.

Audiobooks: 79 hours listened to before the end of the reading program: 10 titles completed from Podiobooks, a 4-CD set I reviewed the other day, another title from Podiobooks started and not yet finished.

Countless kids books read.2 graphic novels read> Monuments Men finished (the Famous Five book finished, read to self not kids), got a way through The Ionian Mission but didn’t finish.

Didn’t count a bunch of time spent looking at service books, , or reading articles online

Oldest read 14 x 4 hour chunks, with an hour and a half remainder, and probably some extra stuff that didn’t get timed so didn’t get counted.

Middlest managed to read (well, entirely “be read to”) 8 x 4hr chunks.

Think we did pretty well.

The Saga Continues

Managed to walk around more quickly today. Didn’t take any painkillers between about 2.10am and 5.30pm, and did just fine. Needed help with dressing: trousers and socks and shoes, and with taking the shoes off. Managed the socks myself, the rest I haven’t gotten to yet.

Managed walking in the house in shoes, and on gravel in the shoes. The stairs didn’t worry me so much, managed those fine. Didn’t think about the bumpy parts of the car ride. Was glad I’d taken the painkillers. Did better on the way back home.

Managed to put Oldest and Middlest to bed by myself. Let them watch the second episode of And So To Bed (intended as a gift to Youngest), then sent them down closer to their beds to read to them.

Middlest’s eyes were drooping nearly 20 minutes into the reading, so I sent them both to bed. Middlest hit her arm on a chest of drawers the way to bed, and was crying, asking for an ice pack. Not wanting to negotiate the stairs any more than I had to (and more than stairs, more like a point-and-click adventure), I covered her (not entirely, of course) in her blankets, made the effort to kneel at the end of her bed, and sang softly to her, got her to sleep.

Took me a few minutes to get up.

Set Oldest up with some music (the CD he wanted meant I only had to come most of the way up the stairs), then collapsed on the couch and read a while.

Decided to keep up with the ibuprofen after that (one every four hours, so 5.30, 9.30 and 1-more-like-50), after all that exertion.

Felt a lot better today, though, so I hope that trend will continue into tomorrow.

And welcome home to my sister-in-law who is back after her grand adventure!

There’s always someone worse off than yourself…

So today, I spent a lot of the day on the couch, which is more comfortable to sit on than everything else. Been taking the ibuprofen at more-or-less 4 hour intervals (last interval ended up being ore like 4hrs40mins). Took one at 2am last night, woke up at 8 and managed to get out of bed, to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for some new water, then back to bed surprisingly painlessly.

Thought I’d try not taking another ibuprofen, to see how I REALLY was. At 9 I tried to get out of bed, and OW OW OW when I tried to swing the owie leg over the side of the bed. All right, another pill.

So I spent a lot of the day reading: The Monuments Men to myself (nearly done!), Dr Seuss, Elephants Don’t Sit On Cars, and The Nightmare Tree to the kids.

Played a memory game with Oldest after dinner (I got 27 pairs, he got 9).

Now, I’m ready to be Not Sitting In This Seat Anymore.

After reading about World War 2 for hours today, about an aspect of the war oft-overlooked, I just came across an article about World War 2, a more famous aspect of it, being about Dachau, but talking about Orthodox Christians there (also mentioning the Roman Catholics there). Call it an oft-overlooked part, of a part of the war that does get a lot of attention.

The article is entitled “Dachau 1945: The Souls of All Are Aflame” (link to the place I found it). That’s quite an icon at the end of the article.

Tell you what, though I’ve found walking to be rather difficult, and feeling pathetic about getting others to do things that I really ought to be able to do for myself, I haven’t really been feeling sorry for myself. Frustrated at not being able to do things, or at the pain of getting out of bed, or stumbling a little, or falling over, but not so much sorry. Well maybe a little, but not so much today. That’s some perspective that World War 2 can give…

“I’m in pain! I think this is what pain feels like!”

I’ve had a bit of trouble staying comfortable in my seat. On its own it soon feels not padded enough. I’ve experimented with combinations of pillows and cushions. Recently went without anything again for a few days, and was getting up awkward and stiff. Added some cushions back in, feeling started getting worse.  Last night I tried a small exercise ball (more like a kids’ space hopper, actually), I made the chair shorter to be at a reasonable height.

Pain got worse. Top of my right leg, there’s a part I can touch on the side that will flare up when I do. No sign of swelling, or anything like that. Going to bed last night, found it hard to get my leg into bed, hard getting a comfortable position. Tried aspirin, which kicked in after about an hour, then I could sleep.

Walking around the house today hasn’t been fun, nor sitting, nor lying down. Nor just standing.

Ibuprofen has been working a lot better after switching to it this morning, but still taking all movement carefully. Get warning twinges whenever I move wrong, seems to be a muscle that I use for EVERYTHING, moving or relaxing. Still, with the ibuprofen, I can find twinge-free positions to stay in for lengths of time.

Really hope I’m feeling better tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with a poem I made up earlier today:

Ow ow, ow ow, ow ow,
Ow ow, ow ow, ow ow.
Ow ow, ow ow,
Ow ow, ow ow:
Ow ow, ow ow, ow ow.

Wikipedia Time-Sink – Recovered Movies

Sometimes you can be reading a page on Wikipedia, follow a link to another article, and before you you know it you’ve got more tabs open, than there are pubs or bars that you can remember the name of, offhand.

So, at the risk of awaking your dormant Wikiholism (Wikiphilia?), here’s some interesting stuff I was looking at today…

so a week or two ago, I picked up the Giorgio Moroder version of Metropolis on DVD, at Amazon’s Prime Day sale. Haven’t watched it yet. But I was looking at the Wikipedia page on Metropolis. I had a version on my Amazon UK public wishlist since before I moved here. I also had a version on a hidden Amazon.com wishlist, and during that research added the most complete version to that wishlist.

Amazon UK sent me a 1-day-only £10 code, because they’d been voted top retailer in the UK. I forgot I also had £10 credit there.

I was on Wikipedia making sure that the UK DVD of Metropolis had all the same restored scenes as the US one. I think the UK one has the German intertitle cards as an option, where the US one only has subtitles.

From Wikipedia’s Metropolis entry, I followed a link to “List of films in the public domain” – Metropolis having a slightly complicated history in that regard. There was some interesting stuff there, but more of a jackpot was another link I followed from Metropolis: “List of rediscovered films“.

I find these interesting, perhaps mainly because of the occasional recovery of missing Doctor Who episodes from the ’60s. I watched the BFI documentaries, “The Lost World Of Friese-Greene” and “The Lost World Of Mitchell & Kenyon“, pioneers in different ways in early film-making, then their works were lost, and their names far from the public consciousness. (Time-sink: following the link also to The Lost World Of Tibet, then The 14th Dalai Lama”.)

There’s some interesting stuff in the rediscovered films list. Pretty early on, there’s the first detective film, which is also the first film featuring Sherlock Holmes. Also, it lasts only 30 seconds.

Frankenstein from 1910. Bought in the ’50s by a film collector, who only realised later that it’s really rare.

The first film that credits Mary Pickford, who is interesting enough to read about in her own right. “She appeared in 51 films in 1909 – almost one a week.”

Richard III from 1912. First full-length Shakespeare film, apparently still doing the rounds in the ’50s or ’60s. Returned in ’96 by a projectionist who admitted he stole it and kept it hidden for more than three decades. The way this list is going, he probably saved it from being lost forever.

Another Sherlock Holmes, the only film starring a particular actor, who was famous for playing the role on stage.

The Snow White that inspired Disney to make Snow White.

A 1919 German film that the Nazis tried to destroy, found in the ’70s in Ukraine. “One of the earliest known sympathetic depictions of homosexuality in film.”

Lots of interesting stuff. Kind of like archaeology, lost then recovered, most of it found here and the rest found there. The films themselves are stories, but their recoveries can be stories just as interesting.

Tarzan and the Golden Lion – “Thought lost until a print was discovered in the closet of a French asylum in the 1990s.”

What things jump out at you from the “List of rediscovered films”?

Service Book Update

This morning we went to K-Town. It sounds like Fr Dan’s first Sunday solo as a priest, last weekend, went smoothly, today seemed to as well.

This week, he’s joining us for our Vespers service, a meal, and probably some talking, finding out how we’re doing, and all that sort of thing.

I mentioned in an earlier post about how we’ve got into our own swing of Priest-less Vespers, but Vespers with a priest present hasn’t tended to go quite as smoothly. That there’s parts we’ve left out when we’re on our own because you need clergy present to do them, and parts we’ve had in the sets of music, but are only referred to in the white booklet, and we’ve concentrated on getting good at the stuff that’s just in the white book.

When writing up the stuff from the music sheets into the new service books I’m working on, there was one spot in particular that looked a bit complicated. Another look at it, a few days ago, makes it look like one of the pages was photocopied from two, so marginal notes that made it look complicated seem to be irrelevant. A clue that I missed last week was that the verses were written in caps and lower case, and the sung parts IN ALL CAPS. I noticed that, but not that the part that looked like it might be returning to a verse then back to the chorus, was written in the chorus format all the way through.

Phew, that makes things easier.

So today, in between chasing after children (there seemed to be rather a lot of that this afternoon and evening, I think every parent gets days like that), I was adding that stuff I wrote up last week, to the new Vespers service book.

That book had been customized to be as we regularly did it, so missing the Priesty parts. and now modified to include the extra stuff that we should start doing.

Last week, I typed up three things: the extra verses and responses to Lord, I Call, the Apostikha verses, and the Troparia. The Troparia are sometimes just a couple of words different from the Sunday versions, and I still need to figure out with People In Charge Of Music-y Stuff, which wording to go with.

there was one more Bit We’re Supposed To Do that wasn’t in the sets of music: the Prokeimena. Found the words in the red service book (which we generally don’t use: it’s slightly more complicated, and some of the wording is quite a bit different to the white book). No music there. Looked up music today: found at least 2 versions of the music, one with the same wording we have, and one with different wording. I’d looked up the Sunday prokeimenon music for the tone we’ll be using this week, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to make that tune fit these words. Anyway, also need to sort out with an In-Charge person which version of the music to use.

Figuring those couple of things out, and a couple of questions to Fr Dan about a couple of extra bits, should bring the new service books to just-about printable. They’ll need to be looked through to make sure I wrote everything right (hopefully nothing as bad as the “statues” in the current book that ought to be “statutes”), and some decisions about consistency with capitals (“Thy Cross” and “Thy Salvation” here, “Thy cross” and “Thy salvation” elsewhere in the source materials, that stuff needs sorted out), then hopefully I can set my designer wife to prettifying it (including consistencies with things that are CAPITALISED, italicised, and/or underlined), then we’re almost a Go.

Today, I also did a version with all the Priesty stuff added back in (typed the extra stuff in, and saved it separately. With a priest a lot more local, with the potential for joining us a lot more frequently, maybe we just want a Priesty version done. Maybe with markings and notes so people will know what to skip when he’s not here.

The part that does concern me a little, is that the number of people coming ot our service this week could put quite a strain on the number of service books we have to share, so will I want a copy of the book I’ve been working on, printed out? Any errors could stand out during actual use.

Lots to think about.

Review: The Wonderful World of Linus Bailey

Part of the experience having kids, is little games you play. Or the little in-jokes. Sometimes, during mealtimes, my wife runs out of water in her cup, and asks if there is a water ninja around. Oldest (usually) will sneak around the table and steal her cup. Sometimes my wife will wonder aloud where her cup went, sometimes she will not notice its absence. Oldest will go and fill it up, and return it, and my wife will express surprise that the cup has been magically filled, or returned. “Thank you, water ninja!” she says, then Oldest will admit it was him and say “you’re welcome!”.

I’ve been known to sing (in an attempt to suggest “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match”), “Water ninja, water ninja, ninj me some water”.

Another thing that parents sometimes have to deal with is a talkative child. My sister, when she was young (no slight intended against her less-youngness), used to talk nineteen to the dozen. I think perhaps we could have been nicer about that. Middlest also does a lot of chatting, and if you ask her a question, often she’ll go into a long, mostly-unrelated monologue, and trying to interject can be a risky proposition.

In The Wonderful World Of Linus Bailey, Linus is the one to do the talking, usually at least nominally about the subject at hand. His problem, rather, is one of Constantly Making Stuff Up. His dad, in his imagination, is a ninja, who didn’t come back home after saving a nice lady at the Empire State Building, from people with guns. He has a myriad of imaginary relatives, one who owns the left half of the Amazon river, another who owns the right half. An uncle who runs a Viking hat shop. A mine in the back garden, an evil headmaster.

Linus’s problems start when his teacher tells him to not make up any fanciful stories as part of his class assignment (he does anyway), but things get dramatically worse when all the stuff he’s made up actually starts coming true.

I really liked the story. I think it’s one of those stories that has things going on at the kid-level, but plenty of stuff at the grown-up level as well. Of course, using words like “ninjing” like I do, I’m going to enjoy. I found the story clever, well-thought-out, and funny.

I think Oldest will enjoy it, and I’m really thinking of getting him to listen to it.

The Wonderful World of Linus Bailey can be found on Podiobooks, Amazon, Peter James Lamb’s website, and elsewhere.