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Rachael
Alex and I just finished playing Technobabylon, a point-and-click adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games. It's very, very good, and I strongly recommend it if you like point-and-clicks with serious plot. (It's not completely devoid of humour, but it's very definitely thriller and not comedy.) And if you like it, then also Resonance, Primordia and the Blackwell series by the same people. They're all very compelling, quite dark, and with puzzles that tend towards the technical: you're more likely to be hacking into someone's email than combining ropes and sticks and bent nails. They also have meaningful, genuinely debatable moral choices (and, consequently, branches in the plot; but the branches are fairly few, compared with a visual novel / interactive fiction / etc). Alex and I stopped partway through both Resonance and Primordia to have a big debate, because we'd ended up persuaded to opposite sides of the moral dilemma. (In Technobabylon we agreed, but I don't think that necessarily makes it an inferior game.)

I remember, as a teenage point-and-click adventure fan, playing Grim Fandango. I thought, wow, this has enough plot that you could strip out the puzzles and make a halfway decent film. (Games I'd played before that, like the (original) Monkey Island series and Day of the Tentacle, were excellent and lots of fun, but the plot was just a flimsy vehicle for the puzzles.) But Technobabylon is in a different league: if you stripped out the puzzles you'd be left with almost too much for a film. It would definitely be a complex film, like Inception or Looper, requiring concentration.

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When Bethany was a baby, I made a post about how I feel the need to put a dampening spin on some of her achievements in front of people, for example, by implying she was slightly older than she was, without actually lying (e.g. "nearly six months".)

I'm now finding the same thing with Zoe. Today we were in the vets' waiting room and she was trying to count the dogs. There were only two, but she counted thirteen (that's how far she can count, and she hasn't yet figured out why or under what circumstances you're supposed to stop counting). People were boggling at this little toddler rattling off the numbers up to thirteen, and asked me how old she was. I wibbled slightly - she's a year and seven months, and there's not much you can honestly round that up to, "nearly two" is too much of a stretch, and my usual neutral answer of "one and a half" would be rounding in the wrong direction. In the end I answered "She'll be two in autumn." (People might take "autumn" as "September" rather than "November", and if you mumble they might even hear "August".) And there were still impressed and slightly incredulous wows.

I told Alex about this and he asked me *why* I feel this need. It doesn't seem rational to him. Why not just go "Yes, my one-year-and-seven-month daughter can count, isn't it cool?" I thought it was a very good question, and spent some time introspecting and trying to analyse why I have this strong instinct.

In the end I said it was because something like that (Zoe counting) is very different and unusual, to most people, and even though it's something superficially positive, I've internalised the idea that people are freaked out by unusualness and difference, that they're suspicious or even hostile.

Also, I'm trying to avoid "showing off" or giving the impression of it, because it makes the person doing it look arrogant and onlookers feel inferior or resentful; and I can't escape that association even though Zoe counting dogs at the vet is clearly just innocent playfulness: you can still inadvertently make people feel inferior or resentful by innocently playing in a way that's too clever.

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Something I've noticed about this tiredness: time seems to pass a lot more quickly when I'm tired than when I'm not. On a tired day, like today, if I have some free time (like when Zoe's napping), I find myself thinking "What, an hour already? Where did the time go?" after what feels like about fifteen minutes subjectively. But it's not because I'm absorbed in some fun activity - I might be mindlessly surfing the web, or even lying down doing literally nothing.

Whereas on a high-energy day (like yesterday) I'm struck by how slowly time passes, in a good way - whether I'm doing something fun, or getting things done like housework, I have the surprising realisation that an hour is quite a long time after all and you can do quite a lot with it.

It's like I'm operating at a lower processor speed when I'm tired, so I have fewer cycles in a given time period. It's like I'm actually at a lower, inferior level of consciousness.

(This might explain the way that, at the sleep clinic, I thought I slept most of the night, but the machines recorded that I didn't. If I was awake for large chunks of the night, but very tired and at a lower level of consciousness, I might have lain awake for only a few minutes of subjective time.)

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* Had second round of blood tests today. (I asked Dr G in the appointment on Monday whether it was to include glandular fever. He said it wasn't originally going to, but he could add it to the list of things to check.)

* Had appointment with nurse to borrow glucose meter. I said I wanted it so I can check my blood sugar levels at lots of different times and look at the variation and see if it correlates with my subjective energy levels.
She said that the normal blood test they do for diabetes can look for a marker on the red blood cells which indicates whether blood sugar levels have been wrong any time in the last 3 months. Neither of the GPs told me this. I feel mildly embarrassed now, like they're humouring me by letting me borrow the meter. OTOH, if you're diabetic your sugar is too high, and I'm more concerned mine might be too low, and I don't know whether this red blood cell marker indicates that or not. Also, another possibility is that my blood sugar levels vary within normal range (apparently 4 to 8 mmol/l), but that I'm more sensitive to moderately low levels, so it might not drop below 4 but I might feel really tired when, and only when, it's close to 4?

* I've been keeping a food diary for the last few weeks, logging everything I eat and how tired I feel on a scale of 1-5. (Not noticed any obvious patterns yet.) For this week I'm going to keep a more detailed one, with blood sugar readings. I will make sure I log the subjective rating before the corresponding glucose reading, and then see how well they correlate over the course of the week. I'm paradoxically hoping for at least one extreme tiredness crash over the week.

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Yay, Zoe's talking loads. It's cute and delightful, and it's really useful practically to be able to communicate with her, and it's fascinating linguistically as she figures out grammar.

She's got some verb endings ("Mummy cooking dinner") and some pronouns ("my" and "mine" get used a lot in disputes with Bethany, but we occasionally get "your" and "their". She mostly used "me" correctly, but will sometimes call herself "you", like "Mummy pick you up."). She's mastered possessive 's ("Mummy's chair", "Peppa Pig's foot").

She has an unusual use of "it", not replacing a noun phrase but appearing alongside it: "Don't like it onion", "Mummy reach it that ball". (There's a case study in linguistics I've seen a few times about a toddler (who's probably older than me by now) who wanted "other one spoon" - this seems similar.)

She's very social, with high emotional intelligence. You can't make a noise of pain or exasperation around her without her asking "What matter?" She's very good at picking up what's going on and understanding other people's speech. Yesterday, Alex said to me, gesturing to Zoe, "Sweet dress!" Zoe commented "Daddy like my dress." Then she asked "Mummy like my dress?" and "Baba like my dress?" and got affirmative answers from me and Bethany, and proceeded to "Tango like my dress?"

Relatedly, she really likes stories, and her favourite books and videos are ones with plot and dialogue. Bethany was more abstract: she was about 3 before she started liking story videos as opposed to animated nursery rhymes and number/letter/colour learning videos, or story books as opposed to word/picture books, lift-the-flap books, etc. Even now, sometimes, Zoe will choose to watch a video with characters and plot, usually Peppa Pig, and Bethany will choose a colour-learning video aimed at toddlers.

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* A few weeks ago I made an appointment with Dr G, who has seemed intelligent in the past and listens to what I say rather than appearing to be working from a script. That appointment was yesterday, and was quite good. He gave the impression that he remembered me and my case, even though I haven't seen him for over a year - I expect he just cribbed up on the notes before the appointment, but that's what they should do, and it's frustrating and time-wasting that Dr M doesn't.
He told me some of the actual blood tests that had been taken, and confirmed I could get a printout of all of them from the front desk. He agreed with Dr M that I should have this second set of blood tests taken and then be referred to the CFS clinic if they're negative (I hadn't got around to doing that because I was annoyed that Dr M hadn't included all the necessary tests in the first set of tests for "everything" that she sent me for, and I wanted a second opinion and also wanted to run some of my own guesses/ideas past a competent doctor).
One of my ideas was that the tiredness varies hugely, and I've never been massively tired during a blood test, so there might be some marker, most likely blood sugar, which is at an OK level during the tests, but which varies to an extent that's clinically significant. I said that if I could borrow one of those machines that diabetics use to test their blood sugar several times a day, I could see how much it varies and whether it correlates with subjective energy levels. He said I could borrow one for a week, impressively, and I've got an appointment with a nurse to do that. (Yay for the NHS!)

* I asked if it would be possible to change my named GP. I expected not, but they said yes. I requested to go to Dr G, but it turned out he was full. They've assigned me to Dr S, who I don't know, but she's likely to be better than Dr M.

* Alex's medium-term tiredness seems to have cleared up and he's been back to normal (normal post-kids) for the last few weeks.

* I had normal energy on Fri, Sat and Sun! Three consecutive days. That felt amazing, and allowed me to catch up on some things and have leftover spoons for nonessential things. Monday was a bit rubbish, but today is good so far as well.

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Walking past Reality Checkpoint today I had a slightly scary thought: if Bethany goes to university and doesn't take a gap year, we're now closer to her first year of university than mine.
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Zoe's reached the milestone of remembering, talking about, and answering questions about past events. So she can join in with me telling Alex about our day - if I ask her the right questions, she can fill in little bits.

On Tuesday we were in town and went in a lift, and I got her to press the number 2 button, and she was very excited about that, and walked around the shop saying "Press number 2! Press number 2!" We also had lunch with pigwotflies and baby Phoebe. Zoe really enjoyed that. She and Phoebe played together a bit, copying each other. She talked about Phoebe a lot and commented on what she was doing, and then was sad when Phoebe went home, and said "Phoebe come back soon?"
So when Alex got home in the evening, I told him we went to town and went in a lift, and I said to Zoe "What did you do in the lift?" and she thought for a while and then said "Press number 2!" and grinned, and then added "Up!" Then I asked her if she could remember which baby we'd seen at lunchtime, and she said Phoebe, and then said "Kiss Phoebe!"

On Wednesday we visited another friend, and I was telling her about how much Bethany loves Wreck-it Ralph. (Bethany was at school at the time.) Zoe clearly understood that we were talking about videos, and she said "Baba watch Ben Holly" ("That's right, Bethany watches Ben and Holly") and then "Zoe watch Peppa Pig."

She does continue to really love Peppa Pig, and can name most of the characters, and can say a word or two to refer to specific episodes she wants to watch, like "tent" or "snow" or "Mummy Rabbit tummy" or "Baby Anganga" (Baby Alexander).

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Bethany's writing is coming on really well. She did a picture of two cats, with one saying, in very legible letters, "Let me go if you don't you" - she said she ran out of room and it was meant to continue "can't come to my birthday party." ("You can't come to my birthday party" is also what she threatens us with if we're not meeting her wishes.) She's spelled all the words right, and put the apostrophe in "don't."

She also made us a wonderful card. On the front was a cat, dressed in a T-shirt with a cat on it, jumping really high on its bed, which was covered with a cat quilt. Inside it said
"To Mummy+Zoe+Daddy
I would I would love be with you
Love Bethany xxx"

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It's always fascinating when you discover a new instance of typical-mind fallacy (where you thought everyone worked the same way you do, and actually they don't). This one has to do with chocolate.

Alex and I were brainstorming ideas for a visual aid, involving hiding something with a distinctive (and preferably pleasant) smell so it can be identified by smell. I suggested chocolate, and he was baffled. He doesn't think chocolate has a distinctive smell at all, unless maybe it's hot and melting, like a chocolate cake being baked. I said if you blindfolded me and waved some Dairy Milk under my nose I could definitely identify it, and he said he couldn't at all - he might not even notice anything was there!

This suddenly explains a lot: I love chocolate, and Alex is a bit indifferent to it. He quite likes chocolate with fruit or caramel in, but can't really see the point of eating a bar of solid chocolate. If he lacks the receptors to smell/taste chocolate properly, no wonder he doesn't particularly enjoy it.

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