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15 February 2018 @ 09:40 pm
...it turns out that I can get up and have washed my hair and dressed by 6:45am - not to get to work for an early meeting (although I did), but to sit down on the sofa and watch the women's 10km cross-country event from the Winter Olympics. And well worth it, too. Tomorrow is the men's 15km at 6am, though I can give it fifteen minutes for low-seeded starters.

I am enjoying the Olympics enormously. Some high points:

* All the cross-country races! I always like the skiathlon, and the tracks and conditions made for two nicely competitive races, even though the lack of crowds for the events rather dampens the atmosphere. The timing is surprisingly manageable for live viewing (at least if you work from home for the sprint... Alas despite decent UK chances in the team sprint I shall be in meetings).

* 7th place for Andrew Musgrave, by far the best result for a UK skier ever (his own previous best was 29th in the Sochi sprint, but this performance wasn't 22 places up, it was really incomparable) with a Norwegian clean sweep of the medals. I don't think he could have won a medal had he not fought so hard to follow the gold medallist - he would certainly have been swept over by the superb Norwegians so he might as well have tried for the top step.

* BBC coverage is overall proving very good (topped up occasionally by Eurosports), although I could live without seeing any more Elise Christie hagiography.

* I am vastly entertained by the Japanese skaters using the Yuri on Ice theme music. Twice. Perhaps a good idea not to do Stammi Vicino though, you might look a bit conceited. And speaking of ice skating, a triple axel in the women's competition again. And the happy Germans today!

* Commentator Rob Walker has a serious case of commentator's curse in the biathlon.

Less good:

* No gold yet for Marit Bjørgen! Come on, Marit! Silver and bronze is good, but let's see one more individual gold (the 30km* most likely, I think.)

* The weather. I don't blame the organisers, these things happen and an event held in the Alps could have equal problems with heavy snowfall. But given the area is known for wind they perhaps ought to have built temporary structures that could withstand it. My brother-in-law's company provides the power and apparently the engineers are finding the cold + wind incredibly challenging (and partly as a result, brother in law didn't get to go and bring me back a hat, boo!). Hopefully the better conditions of today will last.

* The crowds. Disappointing in pretty much everything outdoors, really. And Beijing will be worse.

* Mike Pence being an arrogant idiot. Look, we all know that you can't possibly trust that the North Korean government is genuinely interested in a bit of detente, but anyone with half a brain at this point would behave as if they were. It isn't about you.

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12 February 2018 @ 06:28 pm
In a meeting today I heard the chair, a senior academic, use the phrase "Let's agenda-ise that". I'm all for the wonderful flexibility and invention of the English language, but there are limits!

This entry was originally posted at https://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/241118.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
07 February 2018 @ 06:18 pm
Advert seen on some website or other (news?) for Eurowings, formerly Germanwings:

Kiss Goodbye
Let's hit the sky!

Given the reasons that Germanwings no longer trades under that name, this did not strike me as entirely reassuring to the potential customer.

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06 February 2018 @ 07:18 pm
The UK's chances at the Winter Olympics may be limited, but BBC commentator Rob Walker has been doing a fine job of upholding the nation's honour by running the length of the cross-country ski tracks clad in a pair of shorts at -15C.

Rob Walker running in Pyeongchang

More photos here.

Fingers are crossed that the honour of the nation might also be upheld on the cross-country tracks by a top ten place or two for Andrew Young and Andres Musgrave (who can be seen here falling over repeatedly on a roller ski treadmill). I do wish I put some bets on back in September.

Meanwhile, a bunch of security staff have got norovirus, and flu has hit North and South Korea. I foresee a run on liquid soap.

Naturally the various issues around Sochi, doping, and eligibility to compete for Russia - sorry, I mean the Olympics Athletes from Russia - continue to be what can only be described as a massive clusterfuck. This one's going to run and run. However I do wish that my German or Russia were good enough to read for myself this article by one of the CAS judges, Michael Geistlinger, former Secretary of the IBU and man with an interesting previous career.*


The article examines the key aspects of the accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation as the example of enforcement of the people’s right to self-determination, secured in UN Charter. International law basis of the accession, as well analysis of key reasons and consequences of this international precedent are under consideration.

But I'm sure that he was completely unbiased, of course.

*Lest I be thought biased against Russia, I assure you that I can be equally unimpressed with British Cycling recently and US Athletics approach to doping in the late 90s.

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Where has the weekend gone? I know it was around here somewhere. I had plans for it, things I was going to do. Things that I needed to do. And yet they remain undone.

I do have a new waffle iron, though.

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25 January 2018 @ 06:36 pm
Anticipating a busy week, and having discovered that the Odeon is £6 Mon - Thursday, I decided that I would pretend to be doing something while actually just sitting in a comfy seat and bought myself a ticket to the final showing of The Last Jedi. This turned out to be a particularly good idea as I came down with a slight cold, and anticipating that I would have to leave in good time and could then relax kept me going through a frustrating afternoon yesterday. I had seen it a couple of weeks ago, but a second viewing turned out to be a very good idea. The things that had annoyed me a bit were less annoying when I knew they would come to an end, and the things I had enjoyed I really enjoyed. Though it still had obvious weaknesses in construction, and like a lot of films would have benefited from being half an hour shorter, I ended up liking it more on a technical level, too.

Thoughts from the audience - and from me. Spoilers ahead.Collapse )

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20 January 2018 @ 09:20 pm
Meet the rusty spotted cat, native to Sri Lanka and India. They are not actually tiny, being 35 - 48cm long, but they are the world's smallest wild cat, and a rusty spotted cat kitten amidst some large leaves looks very tiny indeed.

Here it is:

The BBC's Big Cats is a bit of a portmanteau programme, but well worth a watch, particularly when feeling very tired so that something that comes in chunks is quite helpful. The photography is stunning and I feel a sudden urge to go on a safari. It also features a wildlife cameraman with possibly the poshest name in the natural history documentary industry: Hector Skevington-Postles.

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11 January 2018 @ 09:00 pm
Four weeks today to the Olympics! Technically it's four weeks tomorrow, as the opening ceremony is on Friday 9th Feb, however there are qualifying events on the 8th Feb and indeed on the 9th before the evening ceremony. You can see the daily schedule here. It must be pretty galling to be picked for your country's team, travel to the Olympics, compete - and then fail to qualify before the event even officially gets started.

So with winter sport in mind, it's time for some warm-up recs.

(1) Yuri on Ice

In the trackless wastes of A/B/O and AUs of every stripe that you can imagine that have taken over the Yuri on Ice tag on AO3 there are nonetheless still oases to be found. Or at least whatever the winter sport equivalent of an oasis is.*

nothing gold can stay by Naraht
Chapters: 10/10
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Yuri Plisetsky & Victor Nikiforov, Yuri Plisetsky & Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya/Yakov Feltsman, Yuri Plisetsky & Lilia Baranovskaya, Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov, Otabek Altin & Yuri Plisetsky
Characters: Yuri Plisetsky, Victor Nikiforov, Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya, Katsuki Yuuri, Otabek Altin
Additional Tags: Rivals, Post-Canon, Growing Up, Coming of Age, growth spurt, Injury, 2018 Winter Olympics, Aging, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Boston, London, Ballet, Wedding, Russian Orthodoxy

Yuri Plisetsky will never step out of Victor's shadow. Not if Victor has anything to do with it.

Or, the epic Nikiforov-Plisetsky rivalry in the run-up to the 2018 Olympic Games.

This is a rare fic that is sport-focused and gets the feeling of competition right. Much as I enjoy the comedy and the characters, the fact that the anime is about figure skating is also critical to my enjoyment. The sport isn't a random setting, it's a plot driver, and the characters' roles as international level sportsmen is critical to their characterisation.** And the same could be said of the fic: it's long, it's got great settings, and it's very funny, but most of all it matters that they are skaters.

The random and the ridiculous

The new year began with the Tour de Ski, which was nice of it since it also began for me with a viral infection and lying on the sofa watching people zip round the snow was just what was needed. Alas, the fourth race had to be cancelled due to terrible weather. But that was a small price to play for the glories of the fifth race, which thanks to pouring rain and a shortened course due to the fact that the rest of it was covered in the trees that had blown down was absolute carnage. Normally I like to watch people skiing, but every so often it's great to watch them falling over. A lot. (Especially when the UK's entrant didn't - spot him in the blue at the front in the vid.) And so I give you Chuck Norris shooting skiers.

*Untracked powder on avalanche-safe slopes, probably. Not that is much use for ice skaters.

**When I was off sick from work at some point earlier this year I finally caught up with Verdens Beste Skijenter, a series about the Norwegian women's ski team as they were preparing for the 2015 World Championships. Two things stick in my mind from this: firstly, how much if you want to succeed at the top level in an endurance sport you have to enjoy all the associated training as well as the fun parts, because there is a lot more training than anything else, and secondly a serious of responses to a question along the lines of 'who do you race for?' Parents, partners, siblings, grandmother were mentioned, but Marit Bjørgen, the most successful cross-country skier of all time answered in the way that a champion does: Me. Bjørgen appears to be a very warm and friendly person, but you don't get to the top without a ruthless streak.

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10 January 2018 @ 10:53 pm
There's no denying it, the best word to sum up my fic output in 2017 is: small. A grand total of 14,520 words published, and a little more written. Though having just done some counting this is not as bad as I feared, as apparently I have some several thousand more words of the Wimsey/Potterverse fic than I did last January, but overall there isn't much positive spin to put on just not getting stuff done. There were some external reasons for this, mostly that I wasn't well for much of the year and what energy I had went into surviving work and occasionally having a life, but it was also a question of discipline as well, namely the lack thereof.

Some pluses:

- I wrote in three new fandoms (Elisabeth, The Comfortable Courtesan, Four More Years).

- I completed what is by far my most popular fic in terms of numbers, In the Studio, the Eurosport commentators' perspective on Yuri on Ice. What it is to be part of a megafandom!

- At the 'write for yourself' end of the scale, I really enjoyed writing The Whispering Grass. Three thousand self-indulgent words of angsty vampire backstory, also responsible for my discovery of the existence of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania (dating to 1568), and the survival of slavery in Romania until the 1850s.

As for 2018, not a lot so far, but I've started and mean to go on. Peter will solve the Corsican werewolf murder yet! And I might even come up with a title.

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02 January 2018 @ 08:20 am
For the first time in ages I wrote a fic for Yuletide! As per the last couple of times it was a treat rather than doing the exchange, but it was still a fic. 2018 resolution: Do More Writing.

Let's Tell the Press (1852 words) by Nineveh_uk
Fandom: Fyra år till / Four More Years
Rating and Warnings: G, CNTW
Summary: The Swedish media reacts to the Riksdag's love story of the century.

I've written about the film previously on LJ/DW here. Thanks to the recipient for prompting the one story that I could actually write: I don't claim to know a lot about the Swedish media, but you can get a long way on a superficial knowledge gleaned from the winter sports pages and it was fun to do. It's an absolutely tiny fandom - this is the first AO3 story - but that's the great thing about Yuletide, it's the one time when your really obscure interest will find its one reader. Now I'm looking forward to the opportunity to actually read some Yuletide stories myself.

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