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So, it's been almost 3 weeks since I started my project to wear only 33 items of clothing/shoes/accessories for 3 months. It is fun. Weirdly, I actually mean that. It leaves me space to think about interesting things rather than, well, laundry or ironing or mending things. I HAVE to iron things and wash them and mend them, or I run out of things to wear. It is good for me.

The one thing that I'm finding difficult is jewellery. I love the things I chose (two necklaces and two pairs of earrings), but I have some other things that I also love that I would like to be able to wear. I am going to stick to it for this three months, but I might vary the rule for the next three-month period so I can have maybe 30 items excluding jewellery, and wear whatever necklaces/earrings/bracelets I like.

I'm still pensive about the rest of my minimalism project. The idea (via [livejournal.com profile] xugglybug and [livejournal.com profile] dennyd) of cataloguing my books really appeals to me, because anything where I can't be bothered to scan the isbn in is probably not something I should keep. It will be a long project though. And I don't want to get rid of books as such, I just want to get rid of the ones I don't like or use. (Weirdly, yes, there are some.)
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Short version - I am enjoying it!

Longer version )

It's encouraging me to try minimalism in other parts of my life. This will be an exciting journey.
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Yesterday afternoon I came across the concept of Project 333, where you live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. It appeals to me because I like the idea of living with less, and the thought that it will be less stress to choose what to wear, and also because it's a bit of a challenge. And it doesn't force you to give anything away, which is a relief. I love the idea of minimalism, but if I can try it out while keeping all my stuff, just in case, then so much the better. So yesterday evening I rearranged my wardrobe, and put most of it under my bed or in hanging suit covers.

Details if you are interested )

Meditation

Apr. 23rd, 2010 07:45 am
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I went to a meditation class last night and got so cross with it that I've written it up here:

http://mylifeasjacqui.wordpress.com
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On Saturday [livejournal.com profile] myriad_freckles hosted a wine tasting dinner party. Her brother Arthur (of the not-very-recently-updated-but-very-informative wine blog) had decided on a selection of wines for us to try.

First was Cava from Cordoníu. Cava is normally made with three grapes: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello; but in this one, the Xarello was replaced by Cardonnay. It has small delicate bubbles, which shows it was made in bottles (like champagne) rather than in a vat. Flavours noted by the testers included Christmas pudding, dried fruit, apples, brioche and biscuit.

Then 2004 white Burgundy from Château de Chamirey on the Mercurey vineyard. This is an oaked Chardonnay, which gets its buttery taste from the conversion of malolactic acid into lactic acid during the fermentation process. To Rosy and me, this smelled of nail varnish remover at first. People thought it tasted of butter, pears, pear drops and lychee.

Then 2007 Chardonnay from Montes Alpha in Chile. We thought this smelled of pears and apples and tasted of lemons, vanilla, pineapple and passionfruit. New World wines are supposed to taste more of exotic fruits, and Old World of old-world fruits.

We moved on to red wine. The first was Merlot from Casa Lapostolle in Chile. Clare noted that this was very dark, meaning that the grapes had had a lot of sun. It might be called "Chilean gothic", we thought. The main flavours were vanilla, plum and chocolate.

This wine was oaked by American oak rather than French oak. American barrels are sawn, while French are split, so in the American barrels there is more pore contact with the wine, making the flavour more obvious. All red wines and some white wines (Chardonnay) are oaked. In cheaper bottles (under, say £6.50 ish) the oaked flavour will not come from being kept in a barrel, but instead from oak planks or (even worse) "tea bags" of oak chips being suspended in the vat. Barrels are expensive. (Here is even more about barrels.) Wine barrels can be reused, either by shaving the inside, or by selling them on for sherry or whisky or cider. We imagined a sort of barrel food-chain.

Next was 2005 Valpolicella Classico from Italy, which uses left-over grapes after the Amarone wine (made from partly-dried grapes) has been produced, which gives it a rich flavour. "Classico" means that it came from a vineyard higher up the valley where the soil is less damp. The flavour we got from this one was brown sugar, and we also noticed that it was very acidic and tannic, and makes you salivate. This is a characteristic of Italian wine, which tends to be designed to go well with food.

The third red wine we tried was a Syrah from Casa Marin in Chile. We thought it tasted full-bodied but understated and of milk, black pepper and mineral notes. Harry noted that there were purply bubbles when it was poured. Someone (we'd drunk a bit by now) said that it had a touch of evil. Arthur says this is an iconic style which is going to be big in the next five years.

And then was Muriel Rioja Gran Reserva 1996 fron Spain. We tasted blackcurrant and vanilla. Arthur noted that rioja wines often have a liquorice flavour. This wine was oaked in American oak barrels, giving it the very rich vanilla taste. We also learned about the Phylloxera louse, which devastated the roots of European vines from about 1840. As a result, the vast majority of vines in Europe are grafted onto rootstock from the New World, which is resistant to the pest.

Our last red wine was 2002 Burgundy Ladoix Premier Crun Les Corvées. People commented on its light red colour, and the taste of strawberries. It is made from the Pinot Noir grape, which has the characteristic tastes relating to decay, like mushrooms.

Then we had a pudding wine and unaccountably my notes stop before I have written down what we actually thought of it. I remember it was very tasty though. It was a Sauternes, which is a blend of three grape varieties: Muscadelle (not to be confused with Muscat or Muscadet), Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
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I posted here (f-locked) about an article by Julie Bindel and a refutation that [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet is writing. I had read the article after reading some of the arguments on [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet's post, and my reading of it was coloured by them. I understood her to be arguing that claiming that gender dysphoria exists implies acceptance of outdated gender stereotypes. But some of the comments on my journal made me question my understanding; and now I'm not sure what I think.

The points arguing against Julie Bindel have been explored very thoroughly in [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet's post and the comments on it. But some of the points that commenters on my earlier post made I think are valid; for example:

- The author doesn't express herself very coherently. But in my view, how we handle that lack of clarity says as much about us as about her.

- I see the author as asserting that we shouldn't offer the fantasy of a "sex change" to everyone who feels they were born the wrong sex, because a) the procedure is very imperfect and b) there's no "robust scientific evidence" that it resolves gender dysphoria.

- I think Bindel presents a very balanced argument and the central point (as I see it) remains true: gender surgery doesn't change your sex. Only DNA reassignment could achieve that.

- I would also suggest that gender reorientation is body mutilation - you remove functioning organs and replace them with a non-functioning simulcrum of the opposite organ. I wouldn't say that all body mutilation should be avoided, but I do think doctors have a greater responsibility to ensure this is really what the patient wants before proceeding

- I do think that gender is defined by society and so reoriented men and women should be treated as being their chosen sex; however, I also think that transvestites should be, and that way there is no need for surgery. People should just define themselves as they please. (This wonderful piece of logic from [livejournal.com profile] rickbot)

The ever-useful (this is a compliment!) [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu pointed me to this article from November 2008 on a similar topic. [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu describes this article as being offensive and unpleasant, but reading it with fresh eyes, I'm not sure it is. (By which I mean to say, not that I think it is inoffensive and pleasant, but that I actually don't know whether I think it is offensive and unpleasant or not.)

From this November 2008 article: I questioned whether a sex change would make someone a woman, or simply a man who has had surgery.

Seems to me a sensible question to ask. Putting aside her views that the surgery is regrettable in retrospect, even if we were assuming (equally without evidence from my point of view) that it is always successful and the people who have it are happier (yes, I so agree with [livejournal.com profile] herringprincess when she says that the NHS is here for our mental health as well as our physical health), male to female trans people are, factually, people who were born men and have had surgery to cure gender dysphoria, and who are now treated by society as women.

I think that if someone is a woman in how they feel and how they are seen then they should be allowed to work in a female-only rape crisis centre (whether they've had surgery or not), but this is somehow irrelevant to the central question. After all, they should also be good at dealing with the job as well; and there are plenty of women (whether born male or female) who wouldn't be.
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Last Sunday I went to a gig in Hoxton to see Kit Richardson playing. I met her at a craft evening a few weeks ago, and we got chatting about music and I said I'd like to come to her gig, so she invited me.

It was at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, which has a stage inside. Kit was on quite early, so the room wasn't really full, which was a shame, but it did fill up during her set. She plays the piano and sings, and has a backing band of guitar, drums, violin and cello. She played the piano really well: I was surprised, because she was telling me she didn't feel very confident playing in all different keys and modes; but I know that her approach is very much that she wants to keep learning, so probably she feels like she can improve at this. I'm impressed, anyway.

I find it hard to describe what her music actually sounds like, and I'm not very good at hearing lyrics, so I'm not even sure what any of the songs were about. So I am Very Bad at music reviews. She has a lovely voice, and the contrasts were really good: there were a few upbeat songs, and a couple of songs that started quietly and then ramped right up, and just as I was thinking that it was a shame she hadn't done one that was quiet all the way through, she played (just her and the cello) a really beautiful song that was so understated and pretty.

In summary: I loved it! Definitely going to go to the next one, if I possibly can.

Video behind cut - not of this gig but a different one )

Also, it was super fun to go to a gig! Last Sunday was the first gig of this sort I'd been to, and about the third or fourth concert in total. It was a little daunting to go on my own, but in the end some of Kit's other friends didn't turn up, so I got to chat to her before and after, and I met the band and her manager, who is a complete sweetie. So I'm so glad I went!
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I really am going to update about my weekend at some point, but work.

But just a quick recommendation for people who are interested in wine ( [livejournal.com profile] shreena and [livejournal.com profile] absinthecity, from recent evidence) for the new wine-blog written by Arthur Coggill (Rosy's brother). He's been working at Majestic for a while now, and knows a lot more about wine than I can readily appreciate.

He was certainly responsible (I think) for the choice of wine at Shreena's wedding.

Go and read it, bookmark it, promote it, etc.
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I know Reading have done very badly since Christmas, and that they deserve not to have got through the promotion play-offs, but still I'm upset that Steve Coppell has resigned.
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Still mostly at Livejournal. I expect I'll move here properly at some point.

Football

Nov. 23rd, 2008 11:58 am
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Reading 1 Southampton 2 )

Pull your socks up before Tuesday, guys.
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As promised, a second book review. Journey by Moonlight was a beautiful book which seems very Hungarian - the translator is evidently very skilled.

Read more... )

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The Light Ages by Ian MacLeod

I received this book in a pile of things my mother thought I'd like. I'm not sure whether she had read it, though I expect she would like it. I decided to read it because I had a few days working in the office, which means train journeys - and it was a light paperback.

Summary: A fantasy novel set in an alternate industrial revolution England. A strange magical substance called aether is the basis of a hierarchical society, which the hero is rebelling against.

I liked the rich language and the setting, and it reminded me very much of other books which I like.

Read more... )

Next book: Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb

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