Back Viewing 0 - 20  
Arkady [userpic]

Eugie Foster has died. A beautiful person, talented and generous, warm-hearted, gentle and compassionate, has left this world aged only 42. One of my oldest friends over on LJ, she finally lost her battle with cancer after battling so long against a brain tumour.

You can read "The Dragon's Breath Seed" from her 2013 anthology "The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake: and other Tales of Magic and Mischief" here.

I'm going to miss you, Eugie. The world is a greyer place without you.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
LJ is down

LiveJournal is down at the moment. Once, that would have occasioned a mass outbreak of panic with people having LJ withdrawal. Now? Maybe there'll be a shrug of the shoulders - if that - before people go back to FB or Twitter or Tumblr or some other attention-occupier. LJ down? No big deal, not as though anyone still uses it anyway, right?

I miss the heydays of LJ. These days, you'd be lucky if anyone knows what you're talking about when you mention LJ, whereas once when you met someone new the first thing you'd ask was their LJ handle so you could friend them. Whole social lives were organised through LJ. About 90% of my friends were first encountered there. And though some of us tried making the leap to DW, we still set up crossposting with LJ - and even now, I get comments on my crossposts to LJ - very rarely the original DW post.

I miss knowing what was going on in people's lives. The discussions. The feeling of privacy yet sharing on your own terms. FB is a poor substitute, but everyone's there now, LJ forgotten and gone the same way as MySpace and Bebo. People talk from time to time about coming back to LJ; some even reappear for a little while with good intentions before letting it drift. I know I'm as guilty as any, though I've been making a real effort to post more often - and even when I wasn't posting, I was still reading on a daily basis,

I don't think people will come back to LJ. There were a few golden years, and nostalgia makes us long for golden days to return - but sadly it wouldn't be the same.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

Well this is a new one on me for Nigerian spammers: adding events to Google Calendar. On this occasion an event was added to David's calendar (which I'm subscribed to, just as he's subscribed to mine) and he was added as a guest along with 39 other people. He was able to delete it but this is an inventive way to get around spam filters, I must say. Anyone else been on the receiving end of this? (David's posting about it to G+.)

Screenshot under cut. )

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
The role of REM sleep in depression

Typically when depressed my choice of reading matter switches to a lot of non-fiction about depression and bipolar disorder. It doesn't directly alleviate the depression, but knowing everything I can about my disorder does help me retain the feeling of being better in control, particularly when discussing it with health providers such as my GP and psychiatrists; and sometimes that reading throws up interesting new research.

One of the things that's always common to my depression is sleeping excessively, though no matter how much I sleep I always wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed. Whilst browsing a different unrelated subject, I spotted this article on the link between REM sleep and depression. It's based on Rosalind D. Cartwright's book, "The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives" (click here for Amazon UK link). It references recent studies such as this one published in 2012 which show that in depressed individuals, SWS (slow wave sleep which occurs in Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle, during which a surge of human growth hormone - HGH - is released, typically during the first period of SWS which is required for bodily repair and healing) is suppressed and there is a huge increase in REM sleep (the bit where you dream). In non-depressed subjects, typically the first part of the night is spent in extended periods of SWS, which is gradually superceded by periods of REM sleep which increase in duration and fequency towards the end of the period of sleep. In depressed subjects, the first REM stage can occur as early as 45 minutes into sleep. REM periods also last longer; instead of the usual 10 minutes or so, this REM may last twice that, and eye movements are also abnormal - either much reduced, or incredibly increased (referred to sometimes as eye-movement storms).

The big surge of HGH that occurs in the first period of SWS in non-depressed subjects however is also lacking in depressed patients during remission (i.e. after recovery from depression), which would explain why I constantly feel fatigue even when I'm not depressed.

Sleep deprivation can counteract it but only temporarily effective; the abnormal sleeping pattern returns in the first full period of sleep following a period of sleep deprivation; however one of the effects of antidepressants is to disrupt and suppress REM sleep, thus allowing the normal cycle of SWS and attendent HGH surge to be re-established (Biological models of depression: effect of antidepressants on sleep, Viot-Blanc 1995). G. Vogel, referenced in Viot-Blanc's paper, suggested that an excess of REM sleep is the causal process in depression whereas the 2013 paper (Palagini et al) suggest that REM sleep abnormalities can be considered as biological markers of depression which might predict relapse and recurrence based on studies that included close relatives of depressed subjects that did not suffer depression themselves but exhibited similar REM abnormalities.

Cartwright's book goes on to explore her theory that dreams have the function of modulating disturbances in emotion, regulating those that are troublesome, and that in depressed subjects the increase in dream activity based on Palagini et al's exploration and discussion of whether the REM sleep changes in depression may contribute themselves to the development of central symptoms of depression such as cognitive distortions, including negative self-esteem and the overnight consolidation of negatively toned emotional memories. The theory is supported by brain scan studies of depressed and non-depressed individuals: "Scanning depressed patients while they sleep has shown that the emotion areas of the brain, the limbic and paralimbic systems, are activated at a higher level in REM than when these patients are awake. High activity in these areas is also common in REM sleep in nondepressed sleepers, but the depressed have even higher activity in these areas than do healthy control subjects. This might be expected -- after all, while in REM these individuals also show higher activity in the executive cortex areas, those associated with rational thought and decision making. Nondepressed controls do not exhibit this activity in their REM brain imaging studies. This finding has been tentatively perhaps a response to the excessive activity in the areas responsible for emotions." (Cartwright, 2012).

Antidepressants have been prescribed for some time for sleep disturbances - either sedative antidepressants or a combination of two different antidepressants, for their known REM supression - but the role of REM abnormality in depression wasn't fully understood. It looks like my habit of taking all my antidepressants at night instead of spaced out through the day has been, unknowingly, the right one however. So hopefully once the therapeutic effects of the imipramine kick in I can look forward to a better night's sleep and alleviation of the fatigue. I'd been wondering if I should speak to the psychiatrist when the referral finally comes through about trying something else in addition to the imipramine, and this suggests that might be a good idea.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

Bloody hell. I’ve just received a notification that “elections are closed” and I’ve been voted owner of the LiveJournal london_070705 community. I had no idea elections were even being held.

For those not aware, the community was set up in response to the July 7th bombings in London in 2005; I was working for London Underground at the time and providing a steady stream of information on my own (rather inactive) community, underground_goths, and was invited to become a maintainer by original owner blue_condition. It was switched to Moderated status on 15th August 2005 and maintained as an archive of those events. blue_condition sadly died in 2008, and I am one of 4 remaining maintainers. And now, it seems, the owner. I don’t personally know my fellow maintainers; we didn’t really speak much in the course of our duties. But I’m honoured to take on the role of caretaker of the community and its archives.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

CN by ArkadyRose on deviantART

Portrait of CN Lester. I was listening to their album "Aether" today and it inspired me to draw them.

2 hours in MyPaint.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

Luca Giacomelli Ferrarini as Mercutio by ArkadyRose on deviantART

Luca Giacomelli Ferranini as Mercutio in "Romeo e Giulietta - Ama e cambia il mondo", the Italian production of Gérard Presgurvic's musical.

Inspired by Gustave Courbet’s “Le Désespéré" ("The Desperate Man").

3-hour speedpainting with Huion graphics tablet in MyPaint and GIMP.

I'm rather pleased with how this one came out. Painted for #RetJ Week on Tumblr, which is still ongoing and is currently the fandom I'm most active in right now; DA has very definitely gone onto the backburner thanks to fandom wankery over DA:I to the point I actually have all the DA tags Savioured on Tumblr. The Sparkly Hungarian Fandom is very small and thus thankfully bullshit-free; I just wish some of them lived close enough to hang out with. It's a bit lonely not having anyone to geek foreign-language musicals with in person. :-(

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
How I work: WIPs

Recently I've taken to doing a series of WIP screenshots when working on a new pic. These generally go up on my Tumblr but I figured what the hey, I'd post them here as well.

Behind a cut so I don't kill anyone's friends page (because I'm nice like that).
Click for pics - large! )

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Meet Arya

This is Arya. Arya is 4 weeks old. She’s much too young to be away from her mother of course; the Teen’s ex rescued her from an idiot who planned to start breeding her in only a couple of weeks. He passed her on to the Teen who brought her straight round to me. When the ex heard that the vet bill to check her over was £77, he said I could keep her. Which I suspect was the Teen’s plan all along, because she remembered me saying I felt I was perhaps ready for another cat now. It was the Teen who named her Arya, and the name definitely fits. :-)

She was full of worms when she arrived, which she’s being treated for - along with fleas. She’s able to eat solids (little and often), and she’s already litter-trained. She’s beautifully behaved though understandably clingy. She spent last night snuggled into a fleece in a cat carrier on my bedside table, but didn’t make a peep all night and waited quietly in her carrier until it was time to go down for breakfast.

Satin has hissed at her a couple of times; the second time, she purred back at him and he ran away. He’s a bit of a coward. :-)

Today we bought her a few toys, some special kitten food (Hills Science Plan) and a little collar. It’s the smallest kitten collar they had, and I’ve adjusted it to the smallest possible size but it’s still a little loose. :-) She goes through periods of happily playing with my youngest, Freda, then spending a couple of hours asleep - preferably on my lap, or snuggled against my shoulder, or curled up on the purple plush throw on the back of the sofa. She headbutts your hand when she wants to be petted, boops noses with her paw, and rubs noses whilst purring. She's so tiny, her paws are no bigger than my thumb.

So we are a two-cat household once more! As ever, when the time is right for another cat in my life, Bast provides. The Teen is amused to have become an agent of Bast. :-)

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
I just quit. I feel so much better.

I stuck out the job as long as I could, but this morning I'd finally had enough. I asked David if I could quit, and he said yes (I know that ultimately I do not need anyone's permission for basically doing something I needed to do for my own mental and physical well-being, but quitting a £12K. PA job is going to affect David and Freda as well so wasn't something I could just do without even discussing it with David - but at the same time he knew it was making me miserable). So effective as of this morning, I no longer work for

The moment I hit "send" on the email, I felt so much better - it was like a huge black cloud had shifted a little, letting through a beam of sunshine. Yes, money will be tight - I'll have to look for another job (though I'm already putting together an application for a couple of jobs at Usborne Books thanks to a tip-off from a friend), and crack on with artwork and trying to make money from it. But at least I'm no longer dreading getting up every morning, and hopefully with that particular source of stress gone my seizures will settle down again (I've had to up my lamotrigine dose to 125mg a day from the 75mg I was originally prescribed, thanks to this job).

Freda is happy, because now she has me at home for the rest of her holiday and it'll be me taking her to school in the mornings as well as picking her up again once school starts. She's been very good about me working, but she's much happier at the thought of me being a SAHM (or preferably a WFHM!) and being here for her, though I've warned her that the price for this is that we will have to be very careful with money from now on.

I'm glad I've quit though. I think I should have done this at least two months ago, but I gave it my best.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Will the 2013 heatwave beat 1976?

It's interesting looking at the GFS model data at the moment; the jetstream is stuck in a big almost-stationary loop way to the north of the UK, trapping a big area of high pressure over the UK and keeping the hot dry weather over us. It looks like it won't start shifting down south of us again until towards the end of the month, when it will push storm fronts up towards us from France. We're definitely in a heatwave, here in the UK.

This is the 12th day with temperatures over a minimum of 28°C, making it the longest hot spell since 2006 (I was pregnant with Freda back then; it was NOT fun).

Rainfall for the UK from 1-15 July was 9.2 mm. At this stage we would expect to have seen about 48 % of the full month average, however we have only seen 12 %. We have seen less than 5 mm widely across much of England and parts of eastern Scotland (many locations with only 1 or 2 mm). To put this in context, the driest July on record across the UK was in 1955 when there was 30.6 mm of rain. With only 9 mm of rain so far in the UK this July, this is likely to be a very dry month but – with two weeks to go – it’s too early to say where it will end up in the national series dating back to 1910. I’ve seen newspaper reports claiming it’s the driest July in 247 years; I’m presuming they’re basing this on the England & Wales precipitation records that go back to 1766. The driest July on record was 1825 which had just 8mm, but although England & Wales has seen only 4mm thus far it’s still a bit early to be claiming records just yet.

With regards to sunshine hours, 1955 is the sunniest July on record with 256 hours of sunshine, with 2006 close behind with 253 hours. Up to the 15th we have seen 132 hours of sunshine across the UK, which is 77 % of the full month average. We would have expected to have seen about 48% at this point in an ‘average’ month, but it’s too early to say if we’ll beat 1955.

The other big year that people talk about when referring to heatwaves in the UK is 1976, but 1975 was actually hotter overall and summer 1975 extended from April to October (the 1976 heatwave had hotter temperatures but only lasted from June till September). This summer has started too late to match 1975, but I think we could well see it equal 1976. As to exceed it? It’s really too early to tell. But I’ll be buying a few summer school dresses for Freda for the start of the new term in September – and I suspect she’ll get a lot of wear out of them!

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Farewell to Ben

RIP Ben (black hooded rat, left) April 2011 - 30th June 2013

So today we lost another of our furry companions, only a couple of days after saying goodbye to Tabs. Ben had a stroke this afternoon and passed away in my hands very shortly afterwards at about 3:45pm at the age of 2 years, 3 months. It was very quick, and he didn't suffer long, thankfully.

I honestly thought his brother Bran (the champagne hooded rat to the right above) would go first, as he's been looking very frail and elderly recently. I suspect he will be following his brother shortly, sadly, but 2 years is a very good innings for a rat - particularly one that came from a pet shop. They've both had a lot of love and treats over the years and have had good lives.

I think when Bran passes, we shan't be getting any more rats - at least not for a while.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Tabs: 1993 - 28/06/2013

Tabs has been very much looking his age this past week, and hasn't been eating the past few days. This morning he didn't even look up when I put the food down; when I put him in front of the food bowl he turned away, had a drink of water, then started to head back to the sofa. Half-way there he had a massive attack of diarrhea. He wasn't able to clean himself up; he managed to crawl onto the sofa then just lay there. It was obvious he was a very sick cat.

I cleaned him up with a handful of baby wipes, and he purred at me, moving his legs so I could get to all the soiled areas. He looked at me, and he just looked so tired. I knew it was time to call the vet.

I told Freda to give Tabs an extra-special hug, and that he might not be here when she comes home (she's having a playdate at a friend's house after school and staying for tea; she won't be home until about 7pm). Then on the way back from dropping her off at school, I called the vet.

We're just 10 minutes' walk from the vet, thankfully. At 9:30am we were seen by the vet. At about 9:40am Tabs breathed his last breath, still purring as I held and stroked him, telling him how much I loved him. He knew he was loved.

We may get another cat at some point, but not just yet. It's too soon, the feelings too raw. I've never had a cat put to sleep like this - never lost a cat to old age. But he had a very good innings; he had a good few years with us in the twilight of his life. If I hadn't taken him in, he would probably have died in a day or two - a slow, uncomfortable, miserable death. Instead I let him go with dignity. It hurts, but I know it was for the best.

I will miss him.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Current Mood: sad sad
Arkady [userpic]
"A Game of Thrones" - high literature it is not

This review was originally posted on my Tumblr but I thought I'd share it here as well.

No doubt what I’m going to say is going to be rather unpopular, but frankly I don’t care.

Having been aware of the phenomenon that is “A Song of Ice and Fire” (though people seem to refer to the books interchangeably as “Game of Thrones” and “ASOIAF”, presumably due to the title of the TV series) but not read the books or seen the series, I finally decided to find out for myself what all the fuss is about.

I have to say I am greatly underwhelmed. My overall impression is that George R R Martin’s writing style is basically on a par with J K Rowling, only with more graphic sex and death. Except the sex is woefully pedestrian of the “insert Tab A into Slot B repeatedly” style that would have worked far better if simply alluded to as Rowling did in the Harry Potter books instead of thrust in the reader’s face gratuitously. If Martin’s writing is anything to go by, he must have a very boring sex life. The first rule of writing is “write what you know” - and certainly in the case of sex he’s done that very thoroughly, it seems. Unfortunately.

The level of typoes and basic grammatical errors are what you’d expect from a self-published novel - seriously do Harper-Collins not employ proof readers any more? “A Game of Thrones” is in woeful need of some serious editing; the book is 780 pages long (not including the 19 pages of appendix which is basically a cast list of all the Houses) and could have been cut by a third without affecting its readability or plot.

Its saving grace is that there is a half-decent plot in there that keeps the pages turning, which is what’s made me persist with it. It’s not exactly challenging reading however; I reckon I’ll probably be able to finish the whole series in under 2 weeks. I can only hope it gets better further on, but on the merits of the first book I’d have to say high literature this is not - it’s airport fantasy at best.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Calling Good Samaritans

A plea from one of my daughters, who is trying to raise money for charity. She’s hit a snag: she’s raised the money, but is having issues getting that money paid into her MyDonate page:

“Calling all good samaritans!
This year I’m going to be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but to do that I need to raise £2450. I’ve already raised £800, but the problem is that as a child in care I asked for social services to hold the money for me until I needed it, but now they’re being far too slow at giving my money back to me. The deadline for the first amount, £580, is on the 14th in two days. I’ve tried everything I can to get my social worker to talk to me about it but after countless unanswered phone calls and emails, trips in to try and see her in person, it’s come to no avail. The charity director has told me that they can only extend the deadline by three days. So here’s the thing; I would be ETERNALLY grateful if someone out there could find it in their hearts to donate the £580 to my mydonate page with the understanding that I can and will pay them back within the month, and would be willing to pay them back £650 in total for the trouble.
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. I know the page looks empty but please remember I have ALREADY raised £800; it just needs to be given back to me! Many, MANY thanks! - Catriona Malbaski”

Even if you can’t afford to help, please reblog this and/or consider donating. Every little will help. Let's see if we can get her MyDonate page to £580 in 5 days.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

I've deleted my G+ account again. I only reactivated it because David wanted to add me to a particular community, and frankly membership in just one community is not sufficient reason to be there. And their stupid no-nyms policy is still racist as fuck.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]

I phoned the GP today to book an appointment for Friday 10th May. I'm going to ask for a referral to the maxillo-facial unit at Whipps Cross. I'm going to ask them to remove my osteoma.

Those who have met me may remember I have a lump on my forehead, right at the innermost side near my nose on my right eyebrow. It's been there for years, because I was too afraid of needles to do anything about it.

That's an old photo from 3 years back; my hair is black now, much longer - and the lump is larger too.

When I had the miscarriage in february, I had to have a D&C under GA. Because I can psych myself up to have blood drawn from the inside of my elbow, the anaesthetist suggested inserting the cannula there instead of in my hand, and I was actually able to go through with it. I hadn't realised that was a possibility before. Now I do, it suddenly opens up a lot of other possibilities - getting the lump removed as elective surgery, getting dental treatment done under twilight sedation for example.

So I'm getting it done.

This is less a case of me being brave, more a case of "Well, why didn't someone tell me they could do it like that sooner??" It would have made such a difference.

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
No, Hollywood.

Tom Hiddleston to play Eric Draven in the Crow remake?

The question is why on earth does anyone in Hollywood actually think a remake is (a) needed, (b) a good idea? After all, every Crow sequel & the series were an utter failure. What makes them think a remake won't go the same way?

Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
A Child of Thatcher's Britain

I was 4 years old when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister on the 4th of May, 1979. I was just under two months away from my 18th birthday when she was ousted from power in November 1990. I first voted in my first ever General Election in 1992, when John Major led the Conservatives back to their 4th successive victory at the polls, keeping them in power for a few more years until they lost to Labour under Tony Blair in 1997.

So I grew up a child of Thatcher Britain. I was one of the kids who had their milk taken away at school by “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher” (a policy she actually introduced as Education Secretary in 1970, before she ever became Prime Minister). She was the only Prime Minister in power throughout my childhood; though her approvals ratings were always low – invariably lower even than that of her own party – it seemed as though she would be Prime Minister forever. Whether you supported or opposed her, it was hard to imagine a Britain without her at the helm; she was an icon of the 80s. You can't think of 80s Britain without also thinking of her, regardless of how you personally feel about her.

I grew up firmly working class. My father was a postman, and as such a member of the CWU – the Communication Workers' Union. Everyone remembers the miners' strike of 1984, but the NUM were not the only union to lock horns with Thatcher and come off worse; she was committed to destroying the power of the unions as a whole, an aim which she arguably achieved. I was 11 at the time of the miners' strike, and I remember the Post Office having several strikes during that time in support of the miners. It wasn't good news for us; my father didn't get paid whilst striking, and money was extremely tight. I remember my mother nibbling cream crackers whilst giving us tea; she would usually say she wasn't hungry and would eat with our father later on, but looking back with the hindsight of adulthood and as a parent myself, it's clear to me that she was going without so us kids wouldn't go hungry.

And yet, I can't say I am happy at her death. The woman who died today was not the woman who presided over the Britain of my youth; she was a frail old woman, mind mostly gone from dementia and an earlier stroke long before the stroke that finally ended her life today. I've seen the ripples of shock and disbelief spreading over social media; it reminds me of the sense of shock when she was ousted from power in 1990. Back then, it seemed inconceivable that she would not carry on forever as PM; in much the same way, there was the sense that this aged battleaxe would linger on for years yet.

Yet though her death brings to an end an entire era not just in British but world politics; Reagan is dead, and the Soviet Union disintegrated decades ago. Thatcherism still lives on however, in the economic policies of both the current coalition government – and also modern Labour. Not all of her policies and ideas were bad – like any politician, they were a mixed bag, some better than others. But it is the lasting negative impact on British life that is her main legacy she is remembered and derided for - though people seem to forget that Thatcher didn't bring any of her policies in single-handedly. She was not the ruling dictator people like to think; she was the figurehead of a government that enacted those policies. Each one was not her own personal brainchild. It's all too easy to scapegoat one woman for the failings of a whole government though.

I'm not sure entirely how I feel about her passing. Despite having been personally adversely affected by her policies whilst growing up, she was a familiar, consistent figure throughout my childhood. I'm not celebrating; it's not my way to celebrate the death of others. Perhaps a feeling of regret for all that could have been achieved that wasn't. There was so much hope for the future at the end of the Cold War, and it all turned sour so fast; and when Tony Blair swept “New Labour” to victory in 1997 we only swapped the Conservatives for another form of Thatcherism under a different name. It could have been so much better. It wasn't.

I don't think we've have hope in British politics ever since. I wonder if we ever will again.


Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Arkady [userpic]
Geek checklist meme

As nicked from [personal profile] vatine:

Avoiding naming names - the specific games, books, films and TV shows isn't important - here's my list of geek achievements. Bold the ones you've done, strikethrough the ones you have no interest in ever doing. Add a comment in brackets behind, if you like.

Click for list ) Originally posted at ""; you may comment either there or here.

Back Viewing 0 - 20