klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
You should be prepared for philosophical discussions if you plan to read this book. Many, many philosophical discussions, but unlike the kind you read for Philosophy 101 these discussions are from the point of view of interesting characters in an interesting experiment: the goddess Athene has brought together people from different times and places to try to create Plato's idea of a Just City.

Did I like this book? I put off reading it until I got a free copy from Tor.com's book club giveaway, and I started reading it because hey, Jo Walton. I was sucked in quickly, and the characters pulled me along. I enjoyed the journey, but the novel suffered from so many of the passages that I read in Philosophy 101: nothing ever got resolved. Until possibly the next book. Which yes, I intend to read. Soon.

An idea

Aug. 15th, 2016 10:27 am
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
It occurred to me that since the MS cure is actually a well understood chemotherapy used for leukemia patients, oncologists who treat leukemia would understand the risks vis-a-vis something like the JC virus/PML. Do oncologists check for that? Do their patients develop PML?

So I've asked my neurologist and our doctor friend Helen these questions, and I'll see what answer I get back. Since I've never heard of leukemia patients dying of incurable brain infections (not that I necessarily would), I'm feeling better about that.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
My neurologist has submitted the information for my referral to the stem cell replacement chemotherapy. I've asked our friend in the NHS to check with the hospital about JC and PML. Now it's waiting. (It might be a short wait. They might immediately come back and say I'm excluded for any number of reasons.)
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
My husband pointed out that, in the European way, today's date is 4/8/16, or 2^2, 2^3, 2^4.

I don't have grand jury duty today, for the third week in a row. We were told that having even one day off would be a rare occurrence. I'll enjoy the extra sleep and the chance at getting my own work done. I've decided to try consulting for realz, and my pitch needs some work.

Today Mac followed me into the bathroom when I went in to take my shower, and perched on the top of the toilet tank. He was very polite and didn't know the Kleenex box or the empty toilet paper roll off. He stayed there while I took my shower, and paid careful attention afterwards as I took my morning medication and brushed my teeth, etc. When I was done he cheerfully led me through the door, but headed off towards his food bowl instead of the bedroom. Nice try, but I wasn't following.

I talked to my neurologist yesterday. He pointed out that I have the JC virus (named for the first fellow they found who had it). It's very common; seventy or so percent of people have it. What matters, though, is that the virus can cause a horrible, fatal, non-curable brain disease called PML, and the only thing that's keeping it at bay is my immune system. If my immune system is destroyed, like the chemotherapy treatment I want to have, my chances of getting PML (the horrible, fatal, non-curable brain disease) go up.

He's going to see if the Sheffield doctors have anything to say about this. We'll see.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've read the FAQ about the treatment I want to have, and I think I fit the criteria for treatment. I meet with my neurologist this afternoon to see what he thinks. And even if he does agree, he needs to send in a packet, and I need to get chosen. And it's not free for me, but I may have a friend who can help.

klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I asked Helen, Chaz's good friend who happens to be an NHS doctor, to check with a teaching hospital in the UK that has tested using a leukemia treatment to cure MS. Would they treat an American, outside of a study? It turns out that yes, they would, if I pass their preliminary tests.


They sent a letter with a list of what they need to know (and how much it will cost, though the pound was at $1.325 yesterday, so that's something). I about to call to get an appointment with my neurologist.

I could barely sleep last night. My head is spinning, making plans. Because if I just have a plan I won't freak out. Entirely.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Set in the European country of Alpennia (somewhere near Ruritania, or so I've heard), this novel is set a couple of years after Daughter of Mystery. Margerit and Barbara still appear as point-of-view characters, but Antuniet and Jeanne, secondary but important characters from the first book, are center stage.

Antuniet Chazillen desperately seeks to restore her family name to nobility. She lost everything - nobility, home, family, fortune - when her brother was executed for treason, everything except her sharp intellect and her drive. These she has focused on alchemy, using a text that an unknown force seeks to steal back. Antuniet is brittle and untrusting, yet fascinating to Jeanne, Vicomtesse de Cherdillac, who seeks to bring her out of her shell and help her reach her goal.

Winding in and around all this is the ever-present question of power in the kingdom. Princess Annek rules, yet she has no children to be her heir, and there are plots afoot around both her brothers. Barbara and Margerit, who is now Princess Annek's thaumaturgist, find themselves entwined in the plots here, and how they are affected by Antuniet's alchemy.

I know I'm invested in a book when I have a definite opinion on who should be Princess Annek's successor (and will argue the point with you), and would love to have a talk with Antuniet about friendship and what it means. The people in this story are vivid and interesting and real, and I care about their choices and what happens to them. I suspect you will, too.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
On Thursday I found myself in a tall building in San Francisco when an announcement came over the loudspeakers: everyone please go down four floors. Yes, I had my walker. Fortunately the stairs were wide, but there were two flights for every floor. People offered to carry my walker for me, but I steadfastly hung onto it. Until I got down four floors and was told I needed to go down three more. I made it down just fine, though I went slowly. The guy carrying my walker wasn't there when I got to the third (seventh!) floor down, but he did find me. (That's why I didn't want anyone else to carry it.) I made it, and I'm sure it was good for me. I'm always pleased that I could do it, and could probably (sans walker) make it all the way to the ground floor. Good to know.

In related news, I'm a big fan of Matt Harding of the "Where the Hell is Matt?" dancing videos. He has a Kickstarter going to make a new video, and I'm a backer so I was invited to be in one of the spots in the video (along with a ton of other people). And I'm not going. One reason is I really can't stand up for very long, much less dance even at the level of a Matt video. Also, I'm fat. So my self image just won't let me be the fat lady with the walker who can barely move. I still don't think of myself as that person.

I think I need to climb down fourteen flights of stairs more often.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Yesterday I walked down seven floors (14 flights) of stairs, and Apple Watch didn't count any of them on its "flights" report. (I was in SF and the HVAC system began releasing some nasty smelling gas, so everyone in the building was told to go down below a certain level and wait. Since they didn't know if/how the elevators were affected, we had to walk. Someone carried my walker for me.)

In other news, Barry will be going to get radioactive iodine therapy in August.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I'm in an odd place, with many choices. Or maybe one choice, really.

I need a job, and I'm very good at what I do, in my specialty area. Which means there aren't that many jobs available, and I'm not a man twenty years younger. Also, my stamina just isn't what it used to be.

My stamina isn't what it used to be. My ability to walk isn't what it used to be. My brain is back, though, or at least my ability to make decisions and act on them. My work on the grand jury and on the non-profit board seems to be well received, or at least nobody is complaining because they're thrilled someone is doing something, and for free. I'm digging in to learn machine learning at a deeper level, and I've decided to get a security certification (an industry one, not via Coursera), because I think my ediscovery interests will align well. But my stamina isn't what it used to be. When I come up with my brilliant idea for a startup to make billions, will I be able to do any of the work?

Plus, I'm reaching the point where I'm likely to start tipping even further downhill. I need to be able to work. I have a husband, cats, and a turtle to feed, plus medical bills all around. I need to shore up retirement money, not dig into it to pay the mortgage.

So, I'm going to find a place that will kill off my immune system and restart it with saved stem cells. I just need to have enough brain to do the research. Wish me luck.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
A few years ago, around the time we got married, I googled "Mac and Barry". I wasn't surprised to get a page of links to Chaz's LJ, because the boys were a frequent topic. When I tried that search again today the top result was to a photo on Chaz's Flickr page, but nothing else about the boys. I like MAC brand makeup and the ease of posting photos on Facebook have overtaken the boys' notoriety.

On Friday we took them in for their senior cat exam. They are both at least ten years old, though we don't know their ages for sure. We'd noticed some changes in them, mostly that Barry had been losing weight and Mac gaining it, but Barry had some other behavior changes. It turns out that Mac now weights 14(!) pounds, more than Barry's previous weight of 13 (Barry hit 14 when we were trying out feeding them by leaving out crunchies all the time, but he just kept eating). Barry is down to just under 12 pounds, so the boys have hopscotched over each other.

The vet took some of Baz's blood, and it turns out he's hyperthyroid. We'll try him on pills for a few weeks, but it's likely he'll eventually have a radioactive iodine injection, which should take care of the problem. If nothing else turns up, too. Not that I'm worrying. I'm sure Chaz isn't worrying at all.

I haven't had these boys for very long, and I want to keep them forever.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Two young women not quite at the age of majority find their lives unexpectedly intertwined. One is a duelist for a rich Baron, the other is the Baron's goddaughter. The Baron is in ill health, and his presumptive heir is hovering, like all the best sharks do. The women find that they share some interests, in particular scholarship surrounding the mysteries of the saints. There are ancient writings describing how you can design a prayer or invocation in order to encourage the saints to heed your plea, and some people are known to have a gift that lets them see the saints' reply.

These two women find themselves together in a world of intrigue in the early eighteen hundreds in the European country of Alpennia. They will need their wits, their courage, and each other to navigate the dangerous waters they find themselves in.

This book has many elements I adore in fiction: orphans with secret backgrounds, duels of honor, magic with a basis in history, all played out among lavish dance balls and scholarly guild work. I loved it, and I hope you will too.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
BayCon this year will be held this Memorial Day weekend, May 27 - 30, at the San Mateo Marriott. The guest of honor is David Gerrold. I hope to see many of you there.

My schedule is:


Writing Collaborations: Are Two (or more) Heads Better Than One?
Saturday 10:00 - 11:30, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff (M), Chaz Brenchley, Mark Gelineau, Joe King, Karen Brenchley, Sandra Saidak

Our pros discuss the ins and outs of writing as part of a team.

Note that Chaz and I are both on this one, possibly because we've published stories together. Note that he hates collaboration, yet he keeps agreeing to it and sometimes even suggesting it.


Women In Science and Engineering
Saturday 11:30 - 13:00, Engage (San Mateo Marriott)
Karen Brenchley (M), Eva Carrender, Amy Phillips, Heidi Stauffer, Dr. Ellen Coatney

Women in STEM fields discuss the challenges and opportunities in their career paths.

I'm moderating this one, and I'm looking forward to it. Everyone on the panel works in a different type of science or engineering role.


Fight Choreography
Cody Parcell (M), Jeremy Tavan, Karen Brenchley
Sunday 10:00 - 11:30, The Courtyard (San Mateo Marriott)

Exploring real world body mechanics, physics, and martial arts as they apply to creating fight scenes that are both accurate and visually appealing.

I can't actually do much aikido anymore, but I do know a lot about body mechanics and martial arts. I hope we spend some time talking about written fight scenes as opposed to just stage combat, but it should be an interesting panel.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)

This photo appeared on my FB feed, taken by a good friend from my first year in the SCA, in Jararvellir, Middle Kingdom. I'm wearing my first suit of armor, and it's shiny enough that I may not have authorized as a fighter yet. I love this picture.

jury duty )

writing )

I think that's a nice photograph to find for this past week. I'm trying to keep the energy going. Tonight we're actually going to see a movie.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
This is a great addition to the 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, filled with tales of, well, exploration and adventure. All the young protagonists face their problems with strength of character and intelligence, whether they be facing aliens on a new planet or facing space pirates on their own ship. I particularly liked "The Worms Won't Feed Themselves, You Know" by Deborah Walker, which has such an original take on the future that I've spent five minutes trying to describe it and not doing it justice. Read this one first. I also enjoyed "Where You Want to Be" by Jeannie Warner, which continues the adventures of Ollie and Dodge from the previous Guide. This time, their independence and control of their spaceship is threatened by one Jazz Hook. (Think about it.)

I recommend this book to middle school readers, but as an adult I loved it, too.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've mentioned before that Mac sings to us in the morning. When he first moved here he would warble happily for a minute or so, then go about his business. It was easy to smile and go back to sleep. Over time, as he has started adopting me -- sitting on my desk while I work, curling up on my lap for scritches -- his warblings changed in tone to more of the kind of song that cats sing when they bring you a treasure. He brings catnip mousies.

About a year or so ago I started putting him on a harness and letting him walk around in the back yard for about fifteen minutes at a time, maybe once a week or so. Mac of course would like to do this much more often for much longer periods, but he takes what he can get since he has no other choice. What I hadn't realized is that for the last few months he's started singing whenever I go out the back door. With accompanying mousie.

I ride my bike every afternoon for about fifteen to twenty minutes, so I'm not gone for long, but he can see me leave and come back. He waits for me at the door. Lately I've taken to heading out to the clubhouse to write, since the tables out there are at a better height for typing on my laptop. Mac sees me head out the door, and can see me go in the clubhouse. Apparently that's also his cue to start a full-on opera. It was so bad yesterday that Chaz gave up trying to work (his study is right next to the back door) and went off to do errands.

I'm very touched.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I rested today and used my walker (because I had to, which is its own suckiness), but this evening I took a long, slow ride on my bike. I made sure to do full stride pedaling, if that's a thing, where I try to use the entire length of my leg. I could feel my knee responding to it, and this evening I can walk around a few steps at a time without my walker. The muscles around my knee are still very weak, though, but they are responding. We'll see how they are tomorrow.

Thanks for the support. I really appreciate that. Bones has started up again this season, and **spoiler alert**
**spoiler** the character Hodges, who was paralyzed at the end of the last season, finds out he is actually permanently paralyzed. He doesn't respond well to this, and I found myself agreeing with so many of what he was complaining about. Most of it is the inconvenience (having to go around to an out-of-the-way ramp instead of taking the stairs) or the embarrassment (having to take a public, noisy lift, like the one I need to use to get myself and my walker onto Caltrain), but one thing I didn't agree with was his hostility towards his co-workers and his wife. Yes, it sucks for him, but it sucks for them, too, plus I think it's worse having to watch someone else go through something that it is to do it yourself. OK, not really. But I get that. They're trying to help him, and he's being a dick. Don't be a dick.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
So last night Chaz was having trouble sleeping, so he was up reading in the living room until very late while I was sleeping. Mac appreciated having a human awake, so he sang his enjoyment around the house a couple of times. About the time Chaz got to sleep I got up to use the bathroom. My left knee (the one I had surgery on years ago) hurt worse than usual, and I had trouble walking to the bathroom. I decided to stay up a little bit myself and see if the pain would lessen (helped by Ibuprofen and Baclofen). Once my knee felt better (and I'd killed off a few WoW creatures) I headed back to bed. And fell over after two steps.

Yup, my left knee has decided that walking on it is just not happening. Chaz brought my walker inside, and I need it for any step that involves my left leg. I can drive just fine, but the left knee is really wobbly, and the muscles around it just not able to support me. I think this is much more knee than MS, though the MS I'm sure is piling right on. I'm standing and stretching periodically at my desk, and I think it will be fine fairly soon, but still. We had to miss a friend's 50th birthday party today, which disappoints me quite a bit. Fortunately we don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow, so I can continue to rest and stretch. But damn, I want a body that works.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
It's been a month since Xerox laid me off (Xerox is splitting into two companies, which means layoffs, which means getting rid of the newest hires -- me), and I've been looking for better exercise. I haven't done yoga in many months. Our regular yoga nights have devolved, since the people who actually did yoga with me stopped coming, and now it's a very fun night of friends and food. But, no yoga. Our trip to England, particularly at Mancunicon (British Eastercon) involved lots of walking around between panels and out to dinner, which really stretched and strengthened my legs, but I have all these other muscles that need stretching and strengthening. Who knew?

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour's example, I've started doing yoga workouts on YouTube, in particular Yoga Camp with Adriene. She's very good at explaining the poses, and is slowly bringing me back up to where I was a few months ago, only this time I'm learning better ways of standing and using my hands/wrists in the poses. And today, Barry joined me on the yoga mat.

The cleaners came yesterday, and in the course of cleaning they (or Chaz) took out the empty boxes from the living room. Also, all the nice newspapers and couch pillows are off the floor. Where is a boy expected to curl up for a nap? So when I set out my yoga mat, Barry had found his spot. He was very good. He settled in to a relaxing pose and maintained it. He changed positions when nudged gently (so I could do a new pose). He breathed in and out regularly. What a great yoga partner. I've left him in a gentle relaxing pose on the mat, to complete his practice. He's adorable.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
One of my favorite dictionaries is Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, and for Christmas one year I bought myself a page-a-day calendar that contains one word each day from Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary. January 17 for that year the word for the day was jumentous, "pertaining to the smell of horse urine."

When I was in college I read Hamlet for an English class, and I had great difficulty getting through the soliloquys because so many of the phrases in them had been used as titles of other works, and I kept being thrown out of the flow of the work. So I started thinking. So many phrases had been used as titles that almost an entire soliloquy had been used up. Could that work in reverse? Could you open the complete works of Shakespeare, pick a phrase at random, and use that as your title for a story?

I couldn't resist this challenge, so I did just that, and the phrase I came up with was..."I do smell all horse-piss."

(The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

TRINCULO Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at
which my nose is in great indignation.)

I still haven't written the story, though I intend to at some point or other. I wonder if January 17 was a hint to get started?


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