Log in

entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous
General pattern seems to be: mostly feeling OK, with some brief crashes (usually after exertion, maybe because I'm still very unfit) and occasional longer periods of feeling rubbish that last a couple of days. The latter might coincide with accidentally eating wheat - in most cases I can point to a suspect. On Wednesday night I went to the pub with a friend and ate spicy peanuts, and the seasoning might have contained flour, and I've been pretty tired today and yesterday. (These similar ones from Tesco contain wheat flour.)

My friend had ordered the nuts before I arrived for us to share, and they weren't in a packet. If things are in a packet you can just read the ingredients, and if, say, a waitress brings you some complimentary spicy nuts, you can go "excuse me, do you know if these have wheat flour in the seasoning?" But if a friend has bought them, then not only does it seem a bit rude and ungrateful to ask her, but she probably wouldn't know. And if I went up to the bar to ask them, it's possible that neither they nor she would remember which ones she had ordered (although at least if none - or all - of their varieties of nuts contained wheat they could tell me that.) I guess I could have gone for the option of just not eating them.

But overall things are so much better :)

Tags: , ,

2 comments or Leave a comment
Katy - Jacqueline Wilson
Modern retelling of What Katy Did, recommended by livredor.
I really liked What Katy Did, and didn't feel it needed "fixing", so wasn't sure if I was going to like this book; but I did. It felt like a faithful adaptation of the characters. It was fun spotting some of the parallels.
Izzie has been made into Katy's stepmother, rather than her live-in maiden aunt, which, as livredor pointed out, feels more realistic nowadays. Elsie is Izzie's child from her previous marriage (and the youngest three are Katy's half-siblings). This emphasises the dynamic where Katy and Clover are close and Elsie is left out.
The book is darker and more mature than the original. I first read the original at 8, but I'd probably save this until a kid was about 11 or 12. It's more in-your-face about the physical and emotional impact of Katy's disabling accident.
One of my favourite moments was the bit where Katy is sent to her primary-school headmistress for playing a prank on a pretty and mean girl in her class, and she and the teacher share a brief moment of empathy about this girl and her beauty: something like "for a moment they were not headmistress and naughty pupil, but a plain gawky girl and a plain dumpy woman."
I was really glad that it kept the moral dimension of the original. That would have been really easy to lose in a modern adaptation. But the book is very much about Katy's struggles, both before and after the accident, to be a better person, and particularly a better sister to Elsie, which she finds difficult.

Only Daughter - Anna Snoekstra
This is about a young woman on the run, who discovers she resembles a teenager who went missing a few years ago. Rather than go to jail, she decides to pretend to be this girl. The police reunite her with the girl's family, and she tries to build a life with them and isn't quite sure whether they believe her. It's compelling and quite twisty.

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
Moriarty writes at the intersection of chick-lit and psych thrillers, but this is more towards the chick-lit end. So I quite enjoyed it, but wouldn't say it was anything special. It's about three sisters, who are triplets, and the events of one year in their lives.
The structure is similar to one of her other books, Big Little Lies. That one tells the story of the year leading up to a murder. Interspersed with the story of that year, you get flash-forward snippets from shocked witnesses to the murder and so on, so you know some details, but you don't know who the murderer or the victim were, so it's quite suspenseful.
Three Wishes follows a very similar format, but instead of a murder, it's an argument in a restaurant, culminating in a fork being thrown. Which is... less thrilling. But for most of the book you don't know which triplet threw the fork, and which of her sisters she threw it at, and why. One of the flash-forward snippets reveals that the fork was thrown at "the pregnant one", but for most of the year that could turn out to be any of them (which is reminiscent of the bit in Coupling where the three women take pregnancy tests at the same time and accidentally muddle up the three sticks, and one of them is positive, and they spend the rest of the episode wondering which of them it is.)
The triplet angle is quite interesting - I haven't known any triplets in real life or read a book starring them before. And their three personalities are quite different. I found myself identifying at times with sensible Lyn and at times with snarky Cat, and not so much with ditzy Gemma.

Trust in Me - Sophie McKenzie
Livy comes to visit her best friend Julia and finds her dead. Everyone thinks it was suicide, but Livy is sure it couldn't have been, and is determined to investigate and find the truth, and then begins to find herself in danger.
This is very well-executed as a mystery, with suspicion falling on one character and then another in turn.
SpoilersCollapse )
It was still very tense and compelling, and quite scary near the end.

Blink - K L Slater
This is a very interesting and twisty thriller about a woman in a coma. She's fully conscious and can hear people talking about her, and they think she's brain-dead and are talking about switching her off, which is not only scary for her, but a threat to the vital information she knows which could save little missing Evie. There are also interspersed chapters telling the story leading up to Evie going missing.
This was very gripping, keeping me up much later than I intended, and the twists were genuinely surprising.

Tags: ,

1 comment or Leave a comment
Tiredness update: This week is going better than last. The pattern seems to be that I have enough energy the majority of the time, but I still have some horrible crashes. The crashes are rarer than before I stopped eating gluten, and the good days are generally better than before; but I would ideally like to identify the cause of, and eliminate, the remaining crashes.

I've been continuing to explore GF food. I bought some Mrs Crimble's coconut macaroons and country slices. They were quite nice, but still have the dry powdery texture I associate with GF flour. I'm not sure why they put any kind of flour in the macaroons, because you can make macaroons with just coconut, sugar and egg white. I guess I should make my own.

Anyway: The award for best GF cooking of the week goes to these flourless chocolate brookies: a cross between brownies and cookies, spliced with a bit of meringue. In my previous experience, "flourless" means "with ground nuts instead", but these are just literally flourless, which means more of the dry ingredients have to be icing sugar and cocoa - shucks. With no flour, nuts, or dairy, they're great if you have to cater for a combination of dietary restrictions - but seriously, make them even if you have no restrictions at all, because they're amazing. They're really gooey and fudgy in the middle. They're quite rich, because there's no milk or butter to lighten the cocoa, so it tastes like dark chocolate. And be warned, the mixture is incredibly stiff, so much so that I was unable to spread it out in the baking tray and just dolloped it in the middle, but it still worked and spread out while cooking.

And the award for the worst goes to: GF toad-in-the-hole, with GF sausages, and batter made from GF flour. I didn't think the sausages would be very different, but they're kind of spongy, or chewy in a bouncy way, kind of like tapioca or something, I guess because of the rice flour? And after the great success with pancakes, which were indistinguishable from normal ones, I thought toad-in-the-hole batter would work too, but it really didn't - which adds to my theory that things which are supposed to rise don't work. It ended up a bit like scrambled egg, and a bit like the chewy floury lumps you get in badly-mixed white sauce.

Tags: , , ,

3 comments or Leave a comment

  • In secondary school, my friend Sarah told me about a time she felt ill and went to the school office, and they asked her if she felt able to carry on and go back to class, and she thought that was a very unfair question, because "I couldn't exactly say no, could I?!" so she had to go back to class even though she felt ill. I was baffled by this: whenever I felt ill, I'd go to the office, they'd ask me if I felt able to carry on, I'd say no, and I'd get to go and lie down.

  • I've seen a lot of parenting advice saying it's good to apologise to your kids when you're in the wrong, even though it's really hard to do. I agree it's a good thing to do, but I don't find it hard. If anything I say sorry to my kids so often it becomes meaningless. (I do find it hard to say sorry when I'm in the middle of feeling angry, but at those times I also find it hard to say anything nice, like "I forgive you" or "I love you", so I think that's a different issue.)

  • This is hypothetical because I haven't actually experienced it, but I gather from friends and from fiction that when people are struggling with infertility, they often tell friends and family they don't want children yet, rather than the truth, even when that causes people to start nagging them about time running out etc. I really think that if I were in that situation, I'd tell anyone who asked, so that they would stop asking, rather than having to endure them keep telling me things I was already painfully aware of.

  • I don't really get why gynaecologists and bikini-waxers leave the room while you get undressed and give you a sheet to cover yourself. They're going to see everything anyway.

I think these are all examples of an emotion that most people have but I don't; but I'm not quite sure what it is. It's not pride: I like to receive credit for things I've done, and I feel cross if someone else gets the credit instead. It's definitely not shame: I beat myself up over wrong or embarrassing things I did years ago that people have probably forgotten about. Maybe it's dignity? I'm not quite sure.

Tags: ,

9 comments or Leave a comment

  • A student who scuba dives investigates the factors that affect the rate of corrosion of metals. - Grammarly wants "investigate", to go with "dives" supposedly being a plural subject. (Dives as in dodgy nightclubs? I still can't work out how to parse the sentence in that case. Oh! Maybe "A Student Who Scuba" is the name of the chain of nightclubs?)

  • A student calculated the % uncertainty (or random error) of the activation energy in a reaction to be 11.3% - wants "to being 11.3%". Took me a while to figure out what was going on here. It thinks we're talking about "a reaction to being 11.3%", like "a reaction to being fired". And then the student calculated the uncertainty in that.

  • you should refer back to the random or systematic errors identified in the conclusion - wants "in conclusion". I guess this is like the "burning at stake" we had earlier.

  • If blue light is absorbed - missing article. New branch of science dealing with molecules that absorb blue table lamps!

  • regulations may quickly change for the business - Grammarly thinks "for" is a redundant preposition. I suppose regulations may change the business as well...

  • The lighter isotope effuses 1.004 times faster than the heavier isotope. - wants to insert comma after "than", no idea why

  • Chapter all about amu (atomic mass units) - wants to change some to "am" and some to "amp", apparently randomly

  • As the molar mass of a molecule increases - underlined "a molecule increases" and said "indefinite article with plural noun". I guess it thinks  "molecule increases" are a thing?

  • Increasing the driving forces and reducing the restraining forces will increase the chance that the desired change comes about. - complains about preposition at end of sentence. I don't even know how you could give this sentence the "up with which I will not put" treatment.

  • Also, it doesn't let you add to its dictionary words which it thinks are misspellings of other words. It does let you add words it completely doesn't recognise. So whether you can add a word to the dictionary (and make Grammarly stop complaining about it) depends on its edit distance from existing words.

  • mercury escapes the ore as a vapour - wants "or" instead of "ore". Why?? "Ore" is a noun and can go after "the". "Or" is not.

  • Lending very small amounts is called microcredit. -> wants "are". Makes sense if it's just looking at "very small amounts" and ignoring "lending".

  • How might becoming a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group impact Zipcar’s business model? - wants "become". Because "How" is a thing which might become a subsidiary. And "impact Zipcar's business model" is just random noise, I guess.

  • high interest rates - wants high-interest rates. Fair enough - you need genuine, external, semantic knowledge to tell the difference between high interest rates and high-interest loans.

Tags: ,

Leave a comment
Blarg, and grr. This week has been basically back to normal in terms of tiredness. Had a few periods of having energy, but I have those anyway - it's always been variable. But I spent a lot of Mon and Weds resting on the sofa, and bits of other days too, and am feeling drowsy and sludgy-headed at the moment.

It's especially discouraging and hard to accept because I really thought I was getting somewhere, and it was making so much difference. Three weeks was starting to seem too long to be placebo. I was about 95% sure it was working for real, and I was getting close to putting an announcement on FB (to a much wider circle of friends and acquaintances than read me LJ) saying that I was cured but that I now had a more restrictive diet, and also close to emailing the church prayer mailing list thanking them for praying for me and saying it had been answered.

I am going to carry on with the GF diet for now - I think I should carry on at least until it's been not-working for as long as it was working, IYSWIM. It's possible I'm just coming down with a cold or something - the tiredness has always felt a bit like when you're coming down with something, which makes sense if it was my immune system mistakenly reacting to gluten, so maybe cutting out gluten has fixed it in general but this week my immune system is reacting to a genuine minor illness?

Tags: ,

2 comments or Leave a comment
Had gluten-free pancakes tonight. All four of us had them and thought they were just as good as the normal kind!

GF pastry isn't bad either. I've had a "Clive's" pie from Daily Bread, and Jus-Rol GF pastry, and home-made GF pastry, and they're all enjoyable and very nearly as good as normal pastry. (The home-made was actually just as good as my usual home-made pastry, because I'm not great at making pastry.) The Jus-Rol was quite ineffectual at sticking to itself though, so you probably want to use it as a pie top only.

Most GF bread I've tried really isn't very good. I've been having things like soup or scrambled eggs without bread, in preference to using GF bread. However, toothycat kindly gave me some GF sourdough bread and that was OK - not as nice as really good-quality fresh bread (which I like enough to eat lots of it on its own), but probably as good as mediocre bread that you eat as a vehicle for other stuff. (IMO, most GF bread doesn't even clear that bar.) I've had the sourdough bread with pate, and with soup, and toasted with scrambled egg.

All the cake I've tried made with GF flour is horrible and not worth bothering with, including a banana cake I tried making a couple of weeks ago. It's dry and powdery and not cakey at all.
However, cake made with ground almonds is good. I have a ground-almond brownie recipe I've been making for a couple of years even with no dietary restrictions, so I've made that twice this month :)
Also, GF digestive biscuits exist, which means I can make things like Nanaimo bars (which I did last week), Rocky Road, and cheesecake.
I love baking, and having more energy means I can do it more often :)

Xanthan gum
Xanthan gum is an ingredient you can add to GF baking to make the texture more like gluten baking. I put a bit in my pastry. I haven't tried cake or bread with it (I discovered it after the banana cake), but I'd like to.

General thoughts
I think things which depend on rising, like bread and cake, don't work properly without gluten; but things which don't, like pancakes and pastry, are basically fine. This makes me hopeful for GF pasta, which I haven't tried yet, and maybe pizza. Also, more experimenting with xanthan gum might help on the bread and cake front.
I'm also feeling really grateful to be living in a time when GF food is so plentiful in the supermarket, in a way which it wasn't ten or even five years ago.

Tags: , , ,

11 comments or Leave a comment
It wants to change "To treat an overdose, it is important to know the drug taken" to "...to know the drug was taken". Well, yes, that too, but...

It wants to spell crystallise with an S, but recrystallize with a Z. I'm guessing it was originally written with Z spellings, and has a British English word list which tries to list all the words we spell with an S, but missed some of the more obscure ones?

"Low interest rates can also encourage consumers to buy goods on credit" gets corrected to "low-interest" - low-interest rates, like low-energy light bulbs!

It changes "Many people would argue that it is unethical to market sugary cereals" to "Many people would argue that it is unethical to sugary market cereals" - presumably some kind of heuristic about adjective order, not realising "market" is a verb here?

In "Which signals will be present?", Grammarly wants to invert signals and will. I'm not sure what its underlying rules are here. Clearly some questions do begin "Which will...?" Maybe its reasoning is something like: signals is a verb, so this is a sentence like "Which will win the prize?" - but not realising that, even though signals can be a verb in sentences other than this one, "Which will [verb]?" needs to be in the infinitive and so not have an S added.

Tags: , ,

Leave a comment
In my food poll, when I asked if (people thought) it was a medical problem, I didn't mean "am I ILL and OMG am I gonna DIE?" I meant "Is this something I shouldn't have to just put up with, but might be able to fix?"


2 comments or Leave a comment
Last night at GamesEvening we played A Fake Artist Goes to New York, which is like Spyfall but with drawings instead of conversation.

(Quick description of Spyfall for those who don't know: All players but one know a location where we supposedly are (e.g. supermarket). The remaining player is the spy. The players all ask each other questions. The non-spies' aim is to find out who the spy is. The spy's aim is to remain undetected and/or figure out the location. (The location comes from a list of about 30.) As a non-spy you have to say enough to make it clear to the other non-spies that you know what you're talking about and are not the spy, but not so much that you give the answer away to the spy. As the spy you have to bluff and try to talk as if you know when you don't. I like it a lot.)

Fake Artist is very similar but with drawing. The players are collaboratively drawing an object, taking turns to draw one "mark" (e.g. line, curve, zigzag, etc) on the paper. It's an interesting idea, but badly executed. Each player draws two marks in total, so with 5 players, you get 10 marks in total, which seems too many IMO - for most objects, 10 marks will be plenty to draw it recognisably, so the fake artist will guess what it is.

Unlike Spyfall and many party games, there isn't a set of objects given. Each round, a Question Master just chooses any object they like, tells the players the category, and then sits out the rest of the round.

We played six rounds, and each time the FA won, and I think on four rounds out of six the FA got a "double victory", i.e. they remained undetected *and* guessed the object. I scored a "double victory" as the FA even when I was drawing first.

One really major flaw is that the QM is on the FA's team, and wins if the FA wins. This incentivises the QM to come up with an easy object, which makes the game less fun. (But I don't think it would help if the QM was on the other team, because then they'd pick a really obscure and unguessable object, which would also be unfun.)

I went to look on BoardGameGeek to see if other people had the same issues, and was surprised that lots of people said the game worked well, and I even saw one commenter saying it's too hard for the FA to guess. I guess it varies a lot with the group you play it with, although I can't imagine how that would play out.

It could be that other groups are ignoring the incentive structure and just having the QM pick something to try to be interesting. But I resent that in a game. Sometimes a game is fun and you basically ignore scoring (Humm Bug; Concept) but even in those games, you don't have to go out of your way to act *against* your scoring incentive to make it fun. If you need to do that, the game is flawed. The game designers should have made fun and scoring incentives line up.

Also, a superficial flaw: The QM writes the object on all but one of a set of tiny drywipe boards and gives one to each player. In the first round, the QM wrote on the boards, put them face down on the table, slid them around to shuffle them - and that rubbed the writing off! You have to be very careful handling the boards between writing them and handing them out.

One thing that was kind of interesting about Fake Artist was the way that even the artists who all know what they're drawing can fail to coordinate, and one can misinterpret a mark drawn by a previous one. This reminded me of Inspeaquence, which we used to play at GamesEvening ages ago, but haven't played for about 10 or 15 years! The other Fake Artist players liked the sound of it, so we had a game of that, which was excellent!

Inspeaquence is like Articulate, but each team has only one guesser and several describers, and the describers have to describe by taking turns to say one word each to try to construct a sentence to describe the thing on the card to their team-mate. (Like Cheddar Gorge.) Fake Artist reminded me of it because in Inspeaquence one describer can fail to pick up where the other is trying to go with their sentence, causing the sentence to be pulled in multiple directions.

You can get some fun, convoluted, circuitous sentences. The other team had a nice one in "Jumping... in a place... which... is... Australia." (Kangaroo.) My teammate and I had "Richard Burton", and neither of us had heard of him, so we kept passing the buck: "He... is... a man... who... is..." and then gave up.

While I'm blogging about games, I want to mention Outfoxed. It's a kids' game which Alex and I bought the girls for Christmas. They love it and have played it lots. It's co-operative, which is good for kids who sometimes squabble over games, and it's kind of a cross between Cluedo and Guess Who. There is one fox who is the thief, and over the course of the game you discover clues (like "the thief has a hat" or "the thief doesn't have glasses") and eliminate suspects, and identify the thief before they get away. It's more fun than a lot of kids' games, in that you're making genuine decisions, and flavour-wise it feels quite fun and exciting. It successfully captures the thrill of the chase and the sense of time running out, and the narrative element: sometimes you have one prime suspect against whom the evidence is stacking up, and sometimes it is them, but sometimes you find something at the last minute which reveals it's someone else.

It says "age 5+". Zoe, at 3, is rock-solid at the deduction element: she'll confidently state "the thief has a hat, and that one doesn't have a hat, so she can't be the thief." The bits she struggles with are the bits which seem easier to me, like the roll-and-move mechanic (like in a boring decision-free game like Snakes and Ladders). She doesn't quite get that you don't count "1" on the square you're starting on. And she hasn't mastered path-finding: there isn't a linear track to move along like in Snakes and Ladders, but a grid of squares, and you're trying to get to the squares which allow you to turn over more clue tiles. If there's a clue square two spaces down and two spaces right from her, and she rolls a four, she often won't be able to figure out how to get there, and will move three-and-one and end up somewhere else. It's interesting from a child development POV: I'd have guessed that the logical deduction part was harder than the path-finding part.

Anyway, definitely recommended to ghoti and anyone else who plays board games with young children.

Tags: ,

11 comments or Leave a comment