Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
... so I gave Kai a choice: we could either see Star Wars 3 or HHGTTG and he opted for the latter. Not that I'm particularly surprised: he's not fond of Star Wars (I think he finds the simplistic black/white, good/evil structure tedious, he's understood from a young age that life is a lot more complicated than that, and generally prefers films that demand some thought). But he loves the Guide books - currently working his way through my copy of Restaurant - and thoroughly enjoyed the videos of the original series, so although I warned him it was going to be different to what he knew, and the reviews said there was a lot missing, he still wanted to see it.
His reaction on leaving the cinema? An indignant "That was nothing like the book!"
And mine? Well, it's mixed but mostly negative. We both hated that trite, twee, vile song that opens the film, but were infinitely relieved to hear Stephen Fry's voice as the Guide - no-one else could have played it. We also breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed a little when the main title came up accompanied by the original music...
Martin Freeman (Arthur) was good, better than the original, I'd say. And to my great and pleased surprise Mos Def was really rather fine as Ford. Not sure how good he'd be playing a human, but as a humanoid alien he was very convincing. (I can't work out why he needed glasses, though.) At first sight the Vogons were excellently nasty and ugly, their ships suitably unpleasant, and the destruction of earth very effective.
Then it all went downhill. The Starship Heart of Gold looked nothing like its description in the books (and to be honest, the interior didn't look that much different to the original series to me, which was a bit of a let down given that's one area that cried out for improvement), Zooey Deschanel (Trillian) was... bland? Forgettable. Not that I liked Sandra Dickinson's version either, mind you. Marvin looks like a bobble-head toy, and annoyed us both. The later Vogons were nothing more than inept figures of fun, and the Guide graphics were pretty naff - the original were much better. But the real disappointment was Sam Rockwell's Zaphod. I really like Zaphod, both the book and Mark Wing-Davey's version, but this one was played as a thoroughly obnoxious, chauvinist American. The sort of human male you just want to kick in the balls seconds after meeting. And I'm sorry, but two faces does not count as two heads.
There's an entirely erroneous whole section which I don't recall from any of the books that seems only there to give Zaphod a love interest (<sarcasm> because of course Trillian and Arthur are back together by the end of the film </sarcasm>). Its only high spot is a non-speaking cameo of the original Marvin. The Magrathean section is pretty good - Bill Nighy is excellent as Slartibartfast - and the sfx wonderful (as they damn well should be), but the Deep Thought section is a let down (though the computer itself is novel). The film does miss out the vast majority of the funnier bits in the books. And as for the end... I'd advise you not to see it, Sue: you were annoyed enough with I, Robot, this'll give you apoplexy. The really really infuriating thing is they had the talent (mostly) and the technology - the film could have been really good.
Forget Mostly harmless, this is Hugely disappointing.
Kai's well into the superhero mythos though - has been dreaming he's one (with fuzzy blue electric wings: he can fly, make black holes and has limited telekenesis) living on a boat with Violet (from The Incredibles), Starfire, Raven and Cyborg (from Teen Titans) and Adam and Natasha from school. Astonishingly long and detailed dream over two nights that he's turning into a story...
He wants to see The Fantastic Four, (and the trailer does look good, despite what I said on ICQ, Lutra) and War of the Worlds, so that's two treats organised for the summer holidays.
Haadri revision is coming along well, too!
Monday, May 30, 2005
Bank Holiday Mondays. Oh joy. TV is as usual tedious (black and white war films on Beeb2, repeats, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Total Recall yet a-bloody-gain on 1...) Kai's watching documentaries on superstructures (the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark, and now on how the Romans made concrete and what they did with it), I'm working on Haadri, Ken's falling asleep on the sofa. Pretty much normal for a BHM, then.
Drawn Together was delicious (and deliciously gross) last night (and I forgot to mention that I've posted a second chapter to Heroes - and Problems, a very silly little bit of fluff that just hit me over the head and wouldn't shut up until I'd written it; took about an hour - on AFF). And the latest Flaming Prince (Van Von Hunter #149) arc is a giggle (and I still maintain he really needs some nice, big, strong, decisive man to look after him...)
Oh, and I've emailed off my outline for the Dreams book. Will be interesting to see how it's received...
Sunday, May 29, 2005
So, that was The Incredibles. All I can say is that it's damn nearly the perfect family film. Funny, touching, believable, wonderful characters, the most amazing cg work, perfect pacing, fabulous backgrounds... It works on all levels. I can't think of one thing I didn't like about it. I'm impressed. That's a definite to buy. And it just begs a sequel...
(I love the little kid on the bike!)
King Arthur, on the other hand, just left me cold. Wooden acting, fight scenes that just went on, and on, and on (got to the stage where Kai was asking to fast-forward through them, they were so boring), characters I simply didn't care about... Such a pity, as the basic story was OK, and some of the actual scenes (the battle on the ice, for example) really quite effective. But the Saxon leader (Cerdic?) really annoyed me, lumbering around like a bear on phenobarbital. He reminded of of Klaus Kinski, never a favourite actor...
Not one we'll be buying.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
And I'd planned a nice restful day, too...
Still, it wasn't too bad. I didn't wake up properly until 10.45, and managed a nap this evening too, so actually feel awake for the first time in weeks. In between it was washing/painting the new airing cupboard door (and running out of paint) - the carpenter is coming to hang it tomorrow... er, later today/client website maintenance/corres/shopping. And it was hot. I'm finding it harder and harder to cope with hot weather. I can see I'm not going to enjoy this summer.
Had a leaflet through the door the other evening, essentially a BOGOF ('buy one get one free') offer from the Sandy Park Rd video rental shop. Give them £25 and they'll let you rent £50 worth of videos/DVDs. Ken said to go for it, with Kai's summer holidays coming up it'll be worth it. While we were there we rented The Incredibles (for Kai, mainly) and King Arthur. Kai started watching The Incredibles while I was out shopping, but I caught the end and will reluctantly admit it does look rather good. We're going to watch it again before it goes back. KA will wait until tomorrow.
Kai is now home for half term - goes back Tuesday after next. The weather looks set to be good, so we'll have to see what he feels like doing...
Good news is that according to DigiGuide, MTV are showing all the Drawn Together eps back to back on the 6th and 7th of June, so I should be able to get the lot of them, both for myself (on a new tape rather than the recycled one I have been using) and Lutra. Fingers crossed they don't change the programming.
"You're handsome and witty - and perfectly dreamy..." "And you're whiny and self-hating and most likely bi-polar. You're exactly my type!"[shakes head] Heh, I do like that programme...
Friday, May 27, 2005
I know, I should have gone to bed when I got home. But I need to unwind first, with a glass or two of wine, which is very nice but has left me feeling delightfully spaced out (on half a glass? Heh...) So let's see what sort of mess I can make of this entry.
Got to bed last night at 12.30 (am) - but had a real problem dropping off. I have a horror of being late for or missing things, like appointments, trains, flights, etc: couple this with the fact that I don't hear Ken's alarm and I didn't know if Kai's borrowed one was going to work or not, and you have the recipe for a somewhat disturbed night. And it was too hot. But I did get to sleep sometime around 2, and Kai's alarm did wake me at 5, so I was up and ready nice and early.
Just as well because the taxi was early too. Nice driver, warned me to expect ludicrously high taxi fares in London (he was told one customer had to fork out £35 for a 30 minute journey). With this in mind I took more cash out of the hole in the wall at Victoria...
Ten minutes late leaving Briz. Pleasant run. Bit of a crawl at Junction 12. (Did you know that if you want to visit The Oracle, you have to turn off at Junction 11? I didn't. Wasn't actually aware we had an Oracle. Is it anything like the one at Delphi? Am I repeating myself from a previous post or am I afflicted with déja vue?) Got to Windsor and hit the morning rush hour: coupled with the hordes heading to the Chelsea Flower Show and we were about 30 minutes late getting into Victoria. Normally this wouldn't matter too much, but the coach was due in at 9.20 and I was due at the house at 10...
There were no taxis at the rank outside the bus station - nor any sign of any turning in. One did pull up: I went to ask him if he was free, he said no, he was taking a break, and where did I want to go to? [confused blink] On my saying East Dulwich, he growled he'd just come from there and wasn't prepared to go back. (Miserable git - hope his exhaust falls off...) So I took the other option and leapt into the path of a black cab...
Whose driver didn't know where Glengarry Road is... [sigh] Why does this always happen to me? I go somewhere I'm a stranger and end up having to use my A-Z to direct the blasted taxi drivers! [growl]
Finally arrived about 10.30 (I think - my time sense is even hazier now than normal), met everyone, and dived straight into the photoshoot.
Now this is where it gets embarrassing, because the only name I can remember at the moment is that of the model, Amanda, a really beautiful young woman who's studying animal osteopathy at college with the aim of working with horses when she qualifies. (She shared the taxi back with me - great chat!) But there were three professionals from the publisher (a great bunch! Made me feel very welcome), the terrific photographer and his lovely (male, and I mean lovely as in friendly, cheerful and talented) lighting assistant, and me. The publishers had prepared a list of the photos that had to be done, 40+ in all, each of which had to be set up, a polaroid taken (took about 3 minutes to develop each time) to check the composition, then the actual shots photographed. It took quite a long time for each shot, but the results... beautiful.
And to my relief I was actually able to help a fair bit - I hadn't been too sure how much use I'd be, given I'm not art trained or a photographer, but I feel my presence was justified as a consultant (and assuming they use it, the centrepiece for the dining room spread is all my own work!)
Some of the crystal props they'd borrowed/rented are just incredible. The turtle for the bathroom opener is black onyx - but the scales on its back are a mosaic of different types of opal. There was an extraordinarily exquisitely carved jade Buddha (big one, a good six inches high and heavy with it). And [droooool] they'd found the most gorgeous celestite egg-shaped half-geode, I'd estimate about 5 inches high. (Oh, I could have walked out with that one. We've never been able to afford celestite, celestial blue and absolutely beautiful but far too expensive for us.) But the pieces I took with me were useful too, and should appear in the book: my jade dragon pendant was particularly popular (and looks a damn sight better on Amanda than it does on me!) My jade chopsticks looked lovely in the kitchen setting too.
So all in all a successful day, if a tiring one. I enjoyed it a lot. First photoshoot I've actually participated in, but I had a fair idea of the procedures from our other books (we loaned some of our pieces for the first crystal project, but have acquired more and better since), so nothing was too much of a surprise. No objection to doing this again! (Heh, and lunch was tasty too - a big soft baguette filled with big chunks of delicious chicken mayo and smoked ham...)
And the Briz taxi driver... um... overestimated a little. Fares to get to the house and back were £17.80 and £15 respectively - which I think makes them cheaper than equivalent Briz fares! Heh, whatever, it means that the total cost for the round trip, taking taxis everywhere, came to £65. Which I think is pretty damn good, given that the train fare alone would have been just under a hundred quid Briz-Paddington - no idea what it would have cost to courier the required pieces. I think we all benefited from this!
Trip back was OK, I suppose, though given the rather noisy infant behind me (not complaining, she can't have been more than three and a half and I know from experience how fractious wee 'uns get when it's way past their bedtime: given what a monster she could have been I was quite impressed with her behaviour, and her mum's management) and the right comedian (and I mean that nicely!) we had for a driver I was very glad I had Nappa with me...
And Kai wants to hear alllllll about it tomorrow... It's rather a pity he couldn't come with me - he'd have been great as a model for the childrens' rooms section...
Lie-in tomorrow - deserved, I feel.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
[bluergh]... too early... the light, it burns...
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
[growl] Events conspire against me...
Fell asleep after dinner - so much for not napping. Went up to bed at 2.30 and couldn't sleep - which was probably just as well, because at 3.30, just as I was dropping off, Quyn suddenly leapt up from beside the bed and hared off downstairs, barking. He stopped half-way down, still barking, paused for a minute, then went all the way down, thundered through the house and continued barking at the patio doors. Then I realised I'd heard hissing underneath the barking. And suddenly thought - I bet the catflap is on incoming only, instead of both-ways-closed... Dragged myself downstairs (yes, it's always me, everyone else sleeps like rocks in this house) and to the patio doors, where Quyn was still barking. (Luckily I was sufficiently composted to remember not to open them, thereby setting off the house alarm.) Then I heard hissing from the top of the stairs...
Went back upstairs, telling Quyn to stay - which for once he did - to find a hissing Raptor, all fluffed up and very angry, facing off the ferociously-growling pretty little ginger-and-white-with-a-beauty-spot cat. [sigh] Stroked the interloper and picked it up - fortunately it wasn't aggressive, just terrified - took it back down and shooed it out of the flap, then switched flap to both-ways. Then cleared up the water from the kitchen floor, where it had jumped onto (and into) the sink in its attempt to escape via the window (which was of course locked)...
Finally got to sleep sometime after 4.20am...
Still, I should be able to sleep tonight...
... I am not a morning person...
Just as well the autopilot works. Took Kai in, leapt on a bus into town, picked up my ticket for Thursday and Ken's for next Wednesday, went back to Forbidden Planet - now have the first Vampire Princess Miyu DVD, dual language version! I'll see about getting the Vampire Hunter D DVD later; I'd prefer subbed anyway - then into the Galleries.
Picked up three new hair clips (why is this newsworthy? It's not really, except that since the old one broke, while Carol was over, I've had to put up with my plait hanging down past my bum, catching in things and making the back of my neck extremely hot...) Rather nice ones, actually, a simple black one for everyday that grips by gouging furrows in your scalp, a matte black, vaguely tech-looking one with five small, discreet diamanté 'gems' on each side, and a big, chunky brushed copper clip with three large, faceted oval 'topaz' gems on each side, a large one between two smaller.
Haven't managed to get much done, and to be honest I won't be able to focus until after Thursday anyway, although in the light of the enthusiasm for Heroes I've started a second 'chapter', which is fun and relaxing (for me). My surprise was caused by the fact that as far as I can tell, I'm the first person to write any DT fic at all, and while I gather it's not exactly a well-known series, I'd have thought that, ripe as it is for fanfic, there would have been something. (That being said, there is a sort of screenplay thing, not really a fic, in the crossover section.)
This is lovely. I'd like a real miniature one for my desk... dammit, a new Hawkin's Bazaar has opened in the Galleries - I could have looked in there... Never mind, I have to go back into town next week anyway...
Another busy day tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
[blink] OK - brief note before I close down... I am now officially stunned. I uploaded Heroes to AFF at 7pm (they had no category for Drawn Together, so I asked for one, and in less than a day it was up and ready, and yes, the double entendre is deliberate): had to go get the URL for someone asking for it, and found the story has had 18 hits - and one favourable comment - in 6 hours. [shakes head] Dead chuffed...
Monday, May 23, 2005
The crystal shoot is on. I need to be at the house in East Dulwich by 10 am. And it took me 45 minutes to plot and plan alternative journeys to London, online - as opposed to the half a day it would have taken me had I needed to ring around the various operators and compare times/prices. I do like the internet.
The quickest - and most stressful - way is to get the train from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington (£97 day return), then train and bus to East Dulwich (don't know how much that would be). That would mean catching the train at 7.31, arriving Paddington 9.10, then scrambling to make connections.
The other option - longer but much less stress-making - is to get the coach (£16.50) from Bristol Bus Station to London Victoria at 6.20 a.m. [grins at the gasps of disbelief]: a three hour trip, but with Nappa, note books and pen I can actually get a lot of work done on the way. The coach gets in at 9.20, so I'd need to get a taxi across town - now waiting for confirmation that this is OK (the publisher will be paying travelling expenses). Weatherwise Thursday is supposed to be quite nice, and I like the London run - it's a pleasant, peaceful trip.
If this is OKed, I need to gather, clean and pack the crystal pieces they've asked to borrow for the shoot: our jade chopsticks, the unakite frog Sue gave me for a birthday a few years back and the Chinese cash it's sitting on, the carved haematite horse... I'll feel happier about transporting them myself, rather than having them couriered.
Of course, this is going to play merry hell with what laughingly pass for my 'sleep patterns'. I'll have to forget the naps and get up early over the next two days, so I'm so tired Wednesday night I've no option but to sleep - that way I'll be able to wake up ludicrously early on Thursday morning.
Eh well. Won't be the first time I've done something so daft...
It suddenly occurred to me last night, while wittering to Lutra about Drawn Together (despite what DigiGuide said, it was the deliciously wriggle-worthy third episode...), that since the programme is repeated at least twice a week, I could video it for her. [slaps forehead] duh... Why'd it take so long to click? I watch the repeats anyway, it's not like it's a trial... Will pick up a blank video on the way back from school. She'll miss the first two eps (unless they repeat the whole thing at the end, which is fairly likely) but at least she'll have the rest...
And I discovered not only does my ICQ animated avatar blink and follow the movements of my pen with its head, it also speaks! It says the words represented by the emoticons included in the package - lip sync and all! Very impressed. Even tempted to pay for it when the trial period is over...
Sunday, May 22, 2005
... well, I knew it had to happen eventually... ICQ notified me that my version (2001b) would shortly be no longer supported, and suggested upgrading to version 5. I can't really complain, I've had a good run with it...
So I now have a new ICQ. It's pretty. I've made a sort of A'lestrel/human hybrid animated avatar (temporarily, until they ask me to pay for it). And you never know, I might be able to send files through ICQ now!
What else? Not a lot. The weekend's been a bit of a slog, but that's not that unusual. Finished revising several more FL chapters. I'm waiting to hear if I need to go to London on Thursday to help with the Crystal Power photoshoot. I've had fun creating centred textboxes in front of background tiles using just CSS: they look good except in IE, which has an irritating glitch where CSS is concerned, and while there are several workarounds, they cause problems with Firefox. Then again, I've now upgraded Firefox, so they might work... Heh, I'll play around with them later, too frazzled tonight.
Drawn Together in half an hour...
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Eurovision Song Contest time again? That snuck up on me...
It seems to have become almost a tradition in this house to at least keep an eye on it. Terry Wogan is on form, it seems.
(20.42) Is it my imagination, or are an awful lot of these songs Middle Eastern inspired - even the UK entry? (We won't mention Norway - more Sweet than Freddie Mercury, I think...) Is this some kind of unconscious show of solidarity for the Middle East in the face of US aggression? Or is that just fanciful wishful thinking? (Actually, it wasn't just me - commented on it to Ken, who suggested the same thing.)
So far, and rather to my surprise, I've loved the songs, catchy and very danceable. Though the singers themselves aren't too hot - vocally, I mean, they're mostly very pretty. Striking costumes too...
(20.45) Spain's entry... um, this sounds disturbingly like the Macarena to me...
(20.56) I don't care what Wogan says, I like the 'surfeit of drums'! [blink] Anyone else think that the female presenter looks a bit like a fondant fancy in that mauve dress...
(21.48) Over already? That flew past...
I've really enjoyed it this year - most of the bands seemed to take themselves less seriously than in previous years, which has made it a lot of fun. Not going to bother with the voting, it's always tactical and politically orientated anyway.
Back to Haadri.
"Kill the beast!" "Kill the beast!" "Kill the beast!!" "Misinterpret Ling Ling!"(Heh, sorry, the second Drawn Together ep was repeated tonight...)
Busy day. Ken suggested we get out another couple of DVDs tonight, so Kai and I picked up National Treasure and Finding Nemo on the way back from school. Then we dived into St Pete's Hospice shop, where I found an almost-new pair of jeans that are actually comfortable (and have the somewhat unusual bonus of making my bum look smaller. That's a first!), and Kai - to his (and my) immense delight - found the two videos of the original HitchHiker's Guide to the GALAXY (not Universe as I typed last night - thanks Marie for picking that up!) for £1 each. Of course, we had to watch the first tape as soon as we got home: it's the first time Kai's seen it. And he loved it. I anticipate him now asking to go and see the film at the Showcase so he can compare them...
But as for National Treasure... We were hoping for an Indiana Jones-type of adventure. What we got was yawn-worthy. It would probably have been more enjoyable had it not been geared entirely to Americans: the basic plot left me cold and was almost offensive in places. Though I'll admit the scenes just before the end were pretty. The end itself was embarrassingly 'preachy' (not to mention wholly unbelievable). All in all I wish we hadn't bothered. But really, it's by Disney. We should have known...
Back to Haadri... it's not bad, y'know...
"Kill the beast!" "Kill the beast!" "Kill the beast!!" "Do the dishes!"
Thursday, May 19, 2005
[growl] I'm having another splurge of spam complaints, forwarding the offending articles to the servers asking them to stop it (very politely, of course). I've set up as many filters as I can for the various accounts, but there's always some that gets through, dammit. The one that really pissed me off today was addressed "Dear Subscriber" and sent to Kai - from 123greeetings.com, who have either been trawling for websites or got his email address from one of those bloody lists (there has to be some way to stop those bastards from selling addies...) Kai's address isn't listed anywhere on the internet, I was careful not to (which isn't going to stop people devising it, of course). I've emailed 123greetings back to tell them not to contact him again - and they've also lost me as a customer, as I've no intention of using a company that employs such practises.
I've also taken to forwarding any 'cut price OEM software' emails that come through to email@example.com - not because I give a damn if M$N are ripped off, I really couldn't care less, but since they helped block moves to make spam opt-in, they can bloody well help deal with the results. I'd urge everyone who gets these emails to do the same.
One thing I do subscribe to is the Real Foods weekly newsletter. It's always a good read: news articles, recipes, special events and diary dates. There was an interesting newsclip in this week's (quoting without permission, here...)
An article saying ‘veg ain’t what it used to be’ in the Observer Food Magazine last Sunday made for good reading. It seems that due to the way we farm, always looking for bigger yield and fatter animals, we have reduced the content of minerals and vitamins by staggering amounts; in some cases by as much as 40%. Potatoes have lost 100% of their vitamin A. Studies apparently show that organic food can have up to 40% more vitamin and mineral levels than food grown with chemicals.It tastes a hell of a lot better too!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
So that was The Chronicles of Riddick.
Well, the idea was... interesting, the overall design reminiscent of Dune (the 1984 film), fabulous sfx, the acting about what I'd expected (alternately overblown and wooden)...
But what a mess! Incoherent, nonsensical, largely incomprehensible, and plagued by that horrendous nausea-inducing dragonfly camerawork I loathe so much. I'm glad I've seen it, but I can't see me watching it again.
I keep forgetting - update on the tablet pen. I finally got a sensible response from Trust, apologising for the inconvenience and saying I'd have to return the whole thing to the seller, pretty much as standard. However, in the meantime and since using the mouse hurts, I've been experimenting...
It appears that both the mouse and the pen have some sort of automatic timer cutoff thing: leave them unused for more than about ten minutes and they don't work unless you right click a couple of times, which seems to switch them back on. There's nothing about this in the instructions, of course, but it works every time, so I suppose it's an integral part of the device. And actually very useful, given how heavy on batteries the pen can be. I haven't needed to tighten the barrel recently either, that may have just been a temporary thing, working out the 'newness'. Anyway, upshot is it's all working fine now, so I'm not taking any further action.
New orchids on the bookshelves.
(And the Drawn Together fic is finished, but not yet posted.)
Found an interesting post on a blog I drop into just occasionally - read it here. Not sure I agree with all of it (though some of it really rings bells!) but the author has a couple of thought-provoking comments towards the end...
Had to divert to Tesco on the way back from school yesterday afternoon or we'd have had no dinner, and Kai wanted to go the 'quiet' way (along the back streets rather than the more direct but noisier - and more difficult to cross the roads - 'quick' way), which took us past the video rental place. On impulse we went in...
'Top' (i.e. newish) DVDs are £3.50 each or £6.50 for two, for two nights, so we tend to rent two at a time - the saving mounts up. I let Kai choose: he wanted Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (bit of a mouthful, that) and my suggestion of The Chronicles of Riddick was gleefully leapt upon. (More on that later...)
There was a cinnabar moth on the pavement as we rounded the one-way bit at Eagle Road: we're very fond of this pretty creature (actually grow ragwort behind the shed in our garden for it, much to our neighbours' delight, I'm sure!) so I tried to coax it onto my hand to move it to somewhere it wouldn't be trodden on.
Would it cooperate? Would it hell! First it fluttered off to another part of the pavement, then onto the front of my sweatshirt, and on the third attempt it flitted off to Kai and I lost track of it - until Kai started giggling and pointing to his face... It was perched on his cheek!
I was finally able to catch it and let it crawl off my hand onto a bit of nearby greenery growing out of the wall - then we left in a hurry in case it decided it wanted to come shopping with us.
There were curious hammering, clanging noises coming from one of the sheds on the allotments as we walked back home from Tesco, and for a while we thought someone was doing some sort of construction - until we realised it was a repeated rhythm. Heh, someone was practising on a drumkit! I suppose they'd been banished to the shed to avoid disturbing the neighbours...
I wasn't looking forward to the Tomb Raider film after all the negative reviews, but actually enjoyed it more than the first one. OK, I had to suspend all disbelief, it's dreadfully predictable, and it's pretty much a given that such a romp will have at best a flimsy premise, but that accepted it rollicks along very nicely, good action sequences, attractive - if not complex - characters... It has the same appeal as a James Bond film (not that I particularly like James Bond films, but you know what I mean), and I do like Angelina Jolie as Lara - intelligent, strong, dedicated... Terrific character.
And the film is very pretty. I'll pick up a copy as soon as I find it going cheap.
We're watching The Chronicles of Riddick tonight.
Ken's off to Exeter to meet with the potential publisher of the Dartmouth book on June 1st, and may stay a day or so to revisit old haunts. Looks like the Brislington Ghosts' book might be a goer too! Still waiting to hear about the Dreams book, and nothing yet on the Crystal followup (though to be honest we'd not expect to hear anything about that until the autumn).
Kai is much happier at the moment, much more relaxed at school knowing the situation's being taken seriously. That makes me less stressed too, so it's a good thing all round.
Hm. 24 hours without Beconase and the dryness in my throat has gone, the cough is a lot better, and I feel much more 'together'. Sinuses still snuffly, but I can cope with that. Looks like my metabolism has changed (again). [sigh]
[speaking very quietly] ... got hooked on Drawn Together... writing a little PWP... [ducks] But I am working on Haadri too, honest...
Monday, May 16, 2005
Right, where was I? Oh yes...
I forgot to mention on Saturday that we tried to get to Maes Knoll (on the top of Dundry) for Kai to have a run before heading back: he insisted there was somewhere to park, but we couldn't find anywhere (typical SW country lanes, one car width with passing places every few hundred yards or so). Disappointing for him but nowt we could do about it. He's only ever walked there with Ken, so is perhaps mis-remembering the surrounding area... Scary moment on the way up there though, an exact repeat of what happened last time Carol drove up to Dundry. There's a steep T-junction at the church, and as we reached it a landrover, pulling a large white trailer, came around the corner rather fast... Carol swears it's the same landrover as last time - and indeed it may very well be. We pondered for a while if they post someone at the church with binoculars, watching for grockles driving up the hill, and at the given signal drive around the corner to give 'em a fright...
Yesterday we walked down to the Sunday market - very successful trip, got new trainers for me and Kai, new socks for Kai and Ken, and a small aquarium net (the old one had perished: I had to catch the Tetra of Immortality in a tea-strainer when I cleaned the tank. How undignified!). Pleasant walk there too, along the river path - until we got to the general vicinity of the geese...
Not that they were a problem, this time, though it's no fun if they're on the path side of the river, they're rather aggressive. But there were ducks a little further on... To start with we thought they were mating: there was a drake on another duck's back, his beak around the other's neck. Unfortunately neither of us thought to take a camera: the river is quite broad at that point, the water was low - ebb tide - and the banks are both high and quite steep, so the ducks were at a fair distance from us, so making out what was happening required a bit of squinting against the sun and peering down the bank.
After a few moments of watching it occurred to us that the activity seemed a little more vicious than normal, and Kai - I think it was Kai - piped up saying the duck on top was killing the one underneath. As it happened, that was exactly what he was doing, forcing the other's head under water and trampling over its body. He got off after a while and although it looked to us that the other was pretty obviously dead, he got back on and trampled and pecked a bit more - to make sure, I suppose.
I never knew ducks were that aggressive! Carol thought perhaps it was a territorial dispute. Kai (who can be very gruesomely-minded, though I suppose it's his job, he's a boy) suggested they were black widow ducks - until I pointed out it was a male doing the killing, at which point Carol came out with black widower duck (adding that that was actually a bit pointless...) [shakes head] It was certainly an interesting and unusual incident, for us, almost as much so as that time in Nightingale Valley when we watched a sparrowhawk catch a magpie in flight, drop down and drown it in the stream.
We had a cheese and biscuit picnic-lunch in the garden when we got back, and all caught the sun: glorious day yesterday! Dinner went down well, but I'd forgotten Carol sometimes gets bad headaches if she has cheese and chocolate on the same day, so we skipped the chocolate fondue (next time!) and had Galia melon and strawberries instead. Went down very nicely.
Think I'm going to stop using the Beconase for a while - I've had a persistent dry throat and irritating cough since I started, my sinuses are still blocked half the time, and really don't feel right. I'll stick with the honey for the time being (it's not too bad if I drown it in lemon juice in hot water) and see if that helps. [growl] Don't have time for this...
Saturday, May 14, 2005
... We don't have trips out - we have adventures...
Headed off to Wrington around midday, in search of the Walled Garden. I thought Wrington would be a very small place and the garden easy to find, but such wasn't the case. Well, Wrington isn't that large, but I'd forgotten to check the online map before we left. So I dropped in to the only open shop to ask for directions. The woman there turned to me and said, "Do you sell papers?" [bemused] "I don't work here, I'm just trying to find the Walled Garden." says I. Out pops the shopkeeper from behind a display. "The Walled Garden?" she says. "Up that road there. At the top there's a tree; turn sharp right there - down Long Lane."
A tree? We're in the country. There are trees everywhere...
Laughing my head off I get back into the car and manage to splutter out what had happened (and made myself understood on the third attempt), and Carol headed off up the road. And at the top sure enough there was a tree, with a white fence around it - obviously the tree.
Sharp right led us along the ridge to the Walled Garden.
It's a lovely place, with a fabulous view out over the valley - and next to the lower car park was a row of artist's small studios. We checked them out - some gorgeous stuff there - and in the one closest to the car park was this:
(Photo with the permission of Ray Hopley, Sculptor, with thanks)
Lemony 'goodness', anyone?
No local honey, alas. Though the shop at St Werbughs, back in Briz, will have some... [sigh] But I managed to pick up some Somerset honey from a farm shop on the way back.
The garden centre was very busy, unsurprisingly. I let Kai explore the pet section by himself while Carol watched me drooling over the silk orchids: ended up with a small 'potted' deep red cambria orchid, and an unpotted green spray (with leaves and roots) which I don't recognise but is intriguing. Found some Yule presents too - I'm well ahead of myself this year!
Carol brought her digicam over and took some close-ups of Sesshoumaru...
We watched GetBackers last night - Carol seems to have enjoyed it (I certainly did, picked up a lot I missed the first time round). Somewhat to my astonishment we discovered that Tesco.com sells both the GetBackers and Saiyuki manga (some of them anyway) at £5.24 each (delivery free on orders over £20)! And this evening we all watched Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust. I do like that film. Tonight? Haven't decided yet. Will see how we feel after I've inflicted the first ep of Drawn Together on Carol: it's repeated tonight...
Kai the Couch Potato!
Friday, May 13, 2005
Thanks, everyone, for the moral support - and the compliments!
It's been a nice, fairly relaxed day. I ended up making the curtains while I scanned my whole system - anti-virus, spybot and ad-aware (all clean) - both took about two and a half hours to finish, not bad. The sewing's not overly professional either - I can't mitre to save my life - but perfectly adequate, and though I say it myself the room looks good. And I've decided on colour/theme for hall/stairwell/landing: the richest deep blue carpet I can find, sapphire gloss, and pale blue walls (again. I must be going through an ice-blue phase). I've already picked up the lightshade for upstairs (looks like icicles). It'll have to wait until we can afford the carpet and the fitting, though.
I've tried playing the replaced Vampire Hunter D and the bloody thing sticks in exactly the same place: it must be a faulty batch. It'll have to go back again next week, but I'm unwilling now to get a replacement. There are plenty of other DVDs on the special offer though - including Vampire Princess Miyu, another old favourite of mine...
Thursday, May 12, 2005
I'd forgotten that Beconase smells like lilac and jasmine...
[growl] Blogger's spellchecker doesn't recognise headmistress, only headmaster. What kind of sexist bullshit is that?
Quyn's arthritis is apparently quite bad. We have more of his tablets, and strict instructions not to let him charge around the garden - something he and Kai love, chasing each other - for at least four weeks. He's to go out for a little walk on the lead (no further than around the block - which is a pity as he loves going to meet Kai from school but the vet says that's too far for him) three or four times a day. Then he has another appointment June 6th and we'll see how he's doing. Vet thinks that the accident has exacerbated a fairly common canine ailment...
Slightly less frenetic day today. Finished all the shopping for the weekend (I think!) but haven't done anything about the curtains: will make a start tomorrow. Ken's finished painting the fence - looks much better, it hasn't been done for years - and has agreed to take and collect Kai tomorrow to give me a break.
And Kai's had a much better day today. Part of that is relief, of course: it's horrible to have to struggle on in that sort of situation by yourself (heh, I know that from experience). The school does have an anti-bullying policy - I think most of them do these days - but the headmistress can't take action unless she knows about it, of course... [sigh] We shouldn't have to interfere in these things ourselves. Will see how things go.
A Dog and his Boy
I'm so proud of him.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Spoke at some length with the headmistress, who was apologetic. She said that the child in question was going through a particularly harrowing domestic crisis at the moment, and while that didn't excuse his behaviour, it helped explain it. Hn. I'd have had more sympathy if he hadn't started picking on Kai (and apparently it is just Kai) before the domestic crisis started. Anyway, she agreed that the situation was unacceptable, and the school are going to keep the two of them apart for the time being - not too difficult, actually, since they're at opposite ends of the ability spectrum so won't mingle too much in class (they're physically in different groups: Kai's in group one. Hm. Only just realised that I think that means he's gone up a group since his last school report - I'll have to remember to ask him tomorrow.) At lunchtimes the dinner staff will keep an eye on both of them (playtimes should be OK as there are always teachers around watching out). And I told Kai he's not to provoke the child (he wouldn't deliberately but I know him, he can come across as a weird mix of surly and arrogant on occasion. It rubs me up the wrong way, and I have the same problem, so I know it won't endear him to anyone on the receiving end!) and if said child starts anything, to just walk away. (Yes, I know that won't help matters either but at least then it's not his fault.)
It's not ideal, but it's the best that can be done in the circumstances. It does leave me with two lingering problems though - lack of communication (the headmistress had no idea this has been going on, which must mean that Kai's teacher hadn't told her. Had I realised that I'd have spoken out before) and a lack of trust. Kai's teacher has known of my concerns for - what? a year? it must be that long that this has been happening, on and off - but appears to have done precious little about it. (Kai expanded on his 'life is tough, get used to it' bit: seems it ended up going round in circles, with teacher telling him he should toughen up, Kai saying that he was trying to, putting up with the bullying, with the teacher then responding, 'well why are you telling me, then?', and Kai of course pointing out that she'd told him to... I'm even less impressed. And I've now found out he has the same teacher right the way through to his SATS...)
Quite what we do about it I don't know at this stage, though I assume the headmistress will speak to the teacher (she's off at the moment and the class has a supply teacher, much to Kai's joy).
We'll see how it goes.
[deep breaths - calms down]
Lutra asked for a pic of the Sesshoumaru figure. I'm afraid this is the best I can do with Kai's little digicam: anything closer than about 3 feet and it simply loses the resolution. But it gives you the general idea. It's beautifully made, and the detail is quite something.
The Comic Expo doesn't start on Friday, and apparently the anime night is on the Saturday (I can't find any details of what they intend to show/do, which is frustrating), so perhaps we'll give it a miss: the thought of struggling through claustrophobic crowds of fans isn't appealing after the week I'm having. But please come over early on Friday anyway, if you can/like, Carol! ([beg] I can inflict both versions of Vampire Hunter D on you - and maybe some GetBackers, I think you'd enjoy that...) Will maybe get a pizza for Friday, plus nibbles for later: I've got duck (probably just roast rather than á l'orange, and I'm going to try Ruth's Roasted Spuds, done in olive oil with garlic and rosemary) for Saturday and pork chops for Sunday, or vice versa - trust that's OK! (Must remember to get some chocolate and strawberries for the fondue...)
I managed a cycle's nap after dinner, so feel a little more human, alas. Ken is aching and worried he won't be able to move tomorrow - it's the last sunny day before an unsettled weekend, and he's only done half the fence. I know it's mean of me but I do feel justified: now he knows how hard it is, perhaps my efforts won't be taken for granted in future!
Ken has taken the most gorgeous photo of Kai with Quyn - I really want to post it here but must get Kai's OK first. Hopefully tomorrow.
Right - I'm awake enough to get a little work done, and Ken's taking Kai in tomorrow morning, though I can't have a lie-in as Quyn is due at the vet at 10am. Then I need a Tesco shop, and to make curtains. It's all go, innit? [grin]
[flump] Half the day over...
Started off well <insert sarcasm>. Up early after about 2 hours sleep (too stressed to rest) to find Kai was out of cereal, but no-one had bothered to tell me - and there was no bread when I shopped last night. Toasted three slices of a small loaf I had in the freezer for emergencies, but ran out of peanut butter after doing two of them... So sprog hasn't had anything like a decent breakfast. (He also 'forgot' to wash his hands and clean his nails - very cross about that.) I took him in, needed to speak to the school: he's being targeted by the class bully again, a nasty little (literally) piece of work who's doing a good job of growing up into a thug. When I last spoke to Kai's teacher about it, she made the child apologise and promise not to do anything further, though we all knew he would, and told Kai to let her know if he had any further hassles.
Kai has, of course, and has told the teacher, who appears to have done nothing about it. Then on the way home last night he told me - with some coaxing - that the last time he'd gone to her she'd told him to 'grow up, life is tough, get used to it'...
Needless to say I'm not impressed. I've now expressed my dissatisfaction in fairly strong terms (and also checked up with Briz council how to make an official complaint - there are three levels, starting with the headmistress - in case it's needed). They've promised to look into it and speak to me later (which means my collecting Kai this afternoon. Not my first choice of things to do given how busy the day has already been, but I want this resolved.)
On the way back down to get the bus into town I visited the local pharmacy. Very useful: the advice was to keep the windows closed at night (can't do that, I get hot enough as it is!), wear sunglasses (no problem there), and dab a tiny bit of vaseline around my nostrils to help catch airborne pollen. She pulled out a pack of Clarityn tablets (£4.99 for 7 tablets?!! I don't think so!) and a Beconase nasal spray. I've used Beconase successfully before for sinus complaints, and since it seems to do everything the Clarityn does and more (supposed to stop the sore, stinging eyes too) I've opted for that: will try it tonight.
Then dived over to Sandy Park Road to (finally) drop off the list of specialist fabric orchids I'm seeking at the Flower Basket - then spotted a small bookcase outside the Hospice Shop on the other side of the road. We're always on the lookout for bookcases, never have enough. This one was ideal for Ken's study, a lovely sturdy pine four shelf thing, and only £5, so I bought it. And carried it home. Arm's aching.
Back out again to get the bus - only I had to get off at Temple Meads station to pick up our train tickets for June 9th: it's Ken's parents' diamond wedding anniversary and they're having a meal and a dance in Torquay...
That was quite fun in itself. Ken had booked them online, in his name but using my card since it was most likely I'd be the one collecting them, and the instructions said to go to the machine in the foyer to collect them.
Heh, which machine!?
I ended up at the counter in the advance ticket office, where a very nice assistant started explaining to me which one and what to do. Half way through he stopped, grinned and said it would be quicker and easier if he just printed them out for me there, which he did. For which I am most grateful, because, if I understood him correctly, if I'd got them from the machine I'd have ended up with 6 tickets for each of the four stages of the return journey - travel tickets and reserved seat tickets for each of us. As it is, I only have six, with all the details on them.
Then I had to walk into town, quite a hike in itself, but it's a lovely day today, sunny but the breeze is comfortably cool. Dropped into the Chinese Supermarket (YAY! They had my favourite duck-flavoured ramen, first time in months, and strawberry pocky, the one with the lumps of fruit on the sticks. I've also bought a pack of Kal Gook Soo - Korean style ramen - to see what it's like). Was quick at the bank - got there at 10 a.m. so it was quiet - then over to Broadmead.
And yes, I did buy the Sesshoumaru, but I did have permission! [grin] Forbidden Planet were also perfectly happy to replace VHD. Ken rang me while I was having a quick look at their stock (I'm still looking for a Dende, Lutra): he's painting the garden fence at the moment and is somewhat surprised by how hard it is. [bemused] Remember our garden is 100 foot long? It's the first time he's tried it, I've always done it in the past, and the ache in the hands, arms, shoulders and back at the end of the job is quite phenomenal. I get the impression Ken might have thought I was exaggerating. He knows better now.
Now I'm knackered (and my feet are killing me, my trainers have finally just about fallen to pieces, which means now letting my sandals break my feet in), and the day's nowhere near finished. Need to head off to speak to school/collect Kai in a little over an hour, and shop on the way back. (Cereal. Loaf of bread. Jug of wine...)
And I'm sure there was something else... Oh yes! There's a ComiCon at the Commonwealth Museum, Temple Meads, this weekend, and the guy in Kathie's Comics said he thought Friday night was Anime Night! I'll check the details later, but if so, and you come over on Friday, and you're not too tired, and you feel like it, fancy checking it out Carol? [grin] You never know, there might even be some cos-players there to laugh at...
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
So the apparent cold - sore scratchy throat, blocked sinuses, stinging eyes, swollen eyelids, constant low-grade headache - hasn't been getting any worse. It hasn't been getting any better, either. And this morning the goat willow started shedding its seeds and I was afflicted by a painful sneezing fit that just wouldn't stop...
It was at that moment it twigged that perhaps it wasn't a cold after all. So I took a piriton tablet. Half an hour later the worst of the symptoms had eased.
[growl] F*****g HAYFEVER. I mean, I know I have some susceptibility to it and it's been getting slowly worse over the years, but it's never been this bad - feels like I have the physical symptoms of 'flu but without the accompanying fuzziness. Heh, well, it was without the fuzziness until I took the anti-histamine, at which point I felt light-headed and stupidly woozy - which in itself was a bit of a shock because normally pharmaceuticals don't produce side effects (I've been lucky like that).
Not happy. Not happy at all. Still have blocked and stinging sinuses, sore and swollen eyes, dry, chapped lips and am only firing on a couple of cylinders - though at least the sore throat and headache have gone. But how'm I supposed to work like this? Not to mention that I really really loathe taking medication. [growl] Better get some advice tomorrow - I'll pop into the local pharmacy and see what they can suggest, there must be some kind of non-drowsy stuff available, even if it is expensive. Because the pollen count (oak and rape-seed at the moment, apparently) today has only been moderate - gods' know what it'll be like when it's high.
... I need to find a supplier of local honey. That usually contains local pollen and should kick-start my immune system (it's worked in the past, anyway). Pity I absolutely can't stand the taste of honey, but I'm sure I can disguise it - like with a hearty dollop of the elderflower brandy-wine... The Better Food Company have a shop at their Walled Garden premises out at Wrington, which is roughly in the direction of Congresbury, I think: perhaps we could divert there on the way to the garden centre, Carol? (If you wouldn't mind, that is.)
In other newts: The Range had a bolt of ice-blue faux silk (listed at £3.99 per metre, actually sold at £2.99 a metre), so I've bought 4 metres of that for the curtains in Ken's study. Probably a bad idea, colour-wise, as it'll look mucky fairly quickly if it's touched too often, but as Ken pointed out, the cupboard is really only for storage, and he rarely draws the window curtain - it looks out over the garden and no-one can see in anyway. Hoping to make the curtains on Thursday, after I get back from taking Quyn to the vet (the window one at least).
The Range also had some new silk orchids. Both in black zinc pots, both phalaenopsis, one a single spray of big deep red flowers, the other a shorter double spray of smaller pale pink and white blooms. I was good. I put them both back. Til later, anyway...
Tomorrow I have to go into town to throw cheques at the bank and take the Vampire Hunter D DVD back to Forbidden Planet. And try to resist going to Kathie's Comics, since I always buy something ([sigh] they have the most gorgeous figure of Sesshoumaru there at the moment, £10, beautifully detailed) and I've already spent too much this week...
Back to Haadri.
Monday, May 09, 2005
I don't watch so-called 'reality shows' (reality? What's real about 'em?). Don't watch many 'talk shows' either; why anyone would want to watch a bunch of sad mutoids so desperate for attention they'll leave themselves open to public humiliation is quite beyond me. I have far more interesting things to do with my time.
I also don't usually watch MTV, but there's been an advert for an 'adult' cartoon showing on VH1 for a week that caught my attention. It wasn't Foxxy and Clara tongue-wrestling in the hot-tub - no, my eyes zoomed immediately to the golden-skinned, blond-haired 'elf' with pierced nipples in the background... [sigh] I'm becoming predictable in my old age. Anyway, I caught the first ep of Drawn Together last night...
[bemused] It's touted as a cartoon version of Big Brother, and from what I know of Big Brother that seems a fair description. Though if Big Brother had participants like this, I'd probably give it a go. It's... bizarre. Looks like there's something in it to offend everyone. (Well, maybe not me, there's only three things that offend me and none of them are in the programme.) It's not that funny - then again, as far as I know neither is Big Brother - but it is amusing in a distinctly oddball way. And Ling-Ling (a psychotic Pikachu-clone) alone is almost enough to make it worth watching. Heh, what the hell; I'm only here for the bishie anyway.
The Tetra of Immortality is still alive. I'm beginning to wonder if it just does a Dr Who and regenerates every few months or so. It needs something to hide behind though - will have to get some plastic weed at the weekend.
Ken's having trouble finding room for everything in his study - probably because most of it lived on the floor prior to the weekend! [beg] I've offered to help him sort it all out... Mind you, clearing out the cupboard and rearranging the lot of it would be a good idea, and worth the time it would take. Maybe tomorrow. Then he can get back to the books.
Had a very silly idea for an original short story. Going to back-burner it for a while: I'd love to get a story into the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine...
Of the Trisha/Riki Lake ilk. No objection to things like Question Time. Back
Xandir. Not actually an elf, although he does have pointed ears. Which probably means Lutra is right and I have a thing for pointed ears as well as bishies with really long hair. [sigh] I blame Leonard Nimoy... Back
Sunday, May 08, 2005
And Ken's room is finished. My part of it, at any rate: he now has to get everything back in tidily... [beg]
Actually I've not quite finished: I've decided to make matching curtains for the window and cupboard doorway (it's a small wardrobe in the wall, really, but it's used for indoor storage now we can't use the loft any more). I'll check over at The Range this week, see what they have in the blue/purple ranges. In the meantime, the spare blue curtain that was in our room will do.
But the room is now decent - painted, clean and dust-free! - for Carol's visit next weekend, which is what I wanted.
There were two demi-jons sitting in the room which had been completely forgotten about, full of the elderflower wine we started... um, three?... years ago with elderflowers from our own tree at the top of the garden. I brought them downstairs, expecting to have to dump them, but tried a cautious sip just in case... Bloody hell! Ever had Elderflower Brandy? [grin] Got a hell of a kick. So we're going to bottle it, when we get a spare moment. And I find the camden tablets...
From ICQ, earlier:
Joules: [thinking] OK - still have to make dinner (my famous wine and stewing steak casserole) then go shopping, then repot the Tetra of Immortality. And Kai needs hairtrim, bath/shower and hairwash, and I have to change the bedding. Lutra: Busy... Repot the fish? Catch it, put it in a bowl of tepid water, clean the disgustingly manky tank, catch it again and put it back in the tank. After which it'll probably die of shock. you reckon? [eyebrow] ..... I live in hope.... ROFL!! >8-} You'll have to bury it with full honours when it finally does go. [sigh] Kai wants to dissect it.... LOLOL! Of course...Well, twenty minutes after going back into the (lovely clear) tank it's not upside down on the surface (yet). Though it's a bit lost, I think, the old plastic weed simply fell apart in my hands as I took it out to clean it, and I don't have anything to replace it with. If the fish survives, I'll pick some up later. And maybe think about another tetra or two to keep it company.
Having problems with the pen (knew it was too good to be true...) It keeps cutting out, and I have to unscrew the barrel, retighten it and right click to get it working again. I've contacted Trust (who first came back and told me I could buy a new pen from them - for £6.25! I emailed back and pointed out I'd only had it for four days...) and am waiting to hear what they say.
Anything else? Well, Kai was quite taken by last week's Dalek and spent yesterday speaking like one. All day. Drove me nuts. Can't be cross, though, not when he tells me he likes my cooking because of the extra, secret ingredient I put in - TLC... He's still snuffly, and I'm fighting off a cold (sore scratchy throat and blocked sinuses), but it's not too bad.
Quyn's fine, though any energetic exercise leaves him limping, even with the tablets. Looks like he definitely has arthritis, poor pooch. I'll ask about it when I take him vetwards on Thursday.
Half of Ken's room done (no before and after photos with this one: it was a complete bombsite and I hadn't been able to get in to clean for over a year...) Will do the rest tomorrow, but it's looking better already. And a good excuse to sort a whole load of things out.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
[splutter] There's a new chapter up at The Mary Sue Death Machine... (quotes used without permission but they're just so funny! I'm not posting the punchline though - you'll have to read the fic for that...)
Ah yes, it was a beautiful day in Role-play land. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Fluffy little bunny rabbits were skipping merrily all over the place, followed by equally merry Crunched Bunny fans wielding hammers...I do like this writer. (Remember to check out the illustration too...)
Friday, May 06, 2005
... It's my blog and I'll rant if I want to...
Well, maybe more a bit of a sulk than a rant, perhaps... So Labour are back in so-called power - albeit by a narrow majority (and let's hope that puts the frighteners on Poodle Blair...) No great surprise there. Looks like a lot of people felt the same as us - we don't want the Tories back in power, so even though we also no longer trust Blair, we'll vote Labour as the only realistic alternative (not that we did vote Labour. Or Tory come to that). Depressing that they're the lesser of two evils. I wonder if things would have been different if the Tories had had a more appealing candidate than that creepy, slimy Howard?
Nice to see the LibDems situation improved though - a third viable party might even make the other two think twice about listening to Us.
Pinched from Blue Witch, with thanks: this link to the BBC's excellent interactive map - we're Bristol East, I'm told (which had me bemused as for the last 15 years I've believed we're in the south-west of Briz, but apparently that's only geographically, nowt to do with politics...) The amount of blue on the map looks frightening, until you realise that those are country constituencies, with far fewer people voting than in the cities.
Some of the referrals to this blog are... interesting. An alltheweb search on Ask Joules brought someone here; someone else was looking for Les Bijoux fanfic (now there's a nice idea! Have to wait til I have the whole series, though - and that won't be 'til Yule). Then there was 'blue and gold' (?), 'barbed grass-seed cats eye' [wince - take the poor wee beast to the vet right away!!], Terry Kenyon [grin], and 'the jiggler Zarbon' (not sure if the site still exists.) Just goes to show you never can tell by which strange paths people may find you...
Some odd stuff floating in the blogsphere at the moment, too. I've sure I've mentioned wotisitgoodfor blog in the past: I don't check it all the time, but today found this -
[US] The recruiter, who has fought in several conflicts including the current war in Iraq, said one in every three people he had enlisted had a problem that needed concealing, or a waiver. "The only people who want to join the Army now have issues," he said. "They're troubled, with health, police or drug problems." linkIs anyone surprised?
The same blog has this (this is the first and last verse; to read the whole thing see here) -
[BrightEyes sang a song on Leno...] "When The President Talks To God"And this is just boggling...
The state board of education in Kansas plans to hold hearings in May on the "intelligent design" theory of the origin of English, which claims that the language was constructed in the early 16th century by a committee of unknown experts guided by a Supreme Grammarian... Six years ago, when conservatives previously held a majority of seats on the Kansas board of education, they established guidelines encouraging schools to give equal time to the theory of linguistic creationism, which claims that English was created directly by God five hundred years ago at the start of the Great Vowel Shift so that the King James Bible could be translated into it.I'm... speechless.
Luckily it's a joke.
Though it wouldn't surprise me if it happened...
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust...
It's extraordinary. The artwork is fabulous, the characterisation amazing, so real - and the story... Ostensibly a simple plot, it's made complex by the interactions of the characters, and the fact that there are no absolutes, no heroes or villains, no right or wrong choices. The dub is smooth and naturalistic. There are interesting echoes of Nightbreed in the Barbarois. The soundtrack is lovely. There's that glorious Yoshiaki direction (and some of the design, I'd swear to it). The backgrounds are gorgeous. And D is simply beautiful.
The finale brought a lump to my throat. Kai hugged me and said it was such a satisfying end - he loved the film (in fact, he went to Ken, who was working upstairs, and announced that he (Ken) had broken the law, as it was suicide to miss such a good film...) I've known for over a decade I won't be disappointed by anything with Yoshiaki Kawajiri's name attached to it, but this was something else. Ignore any reservations you might have after seeing the first D anime, there's just no comparison.
I can see it becoming a firm favourite...
Just completed my 3,000th Seti@home work unit! 28,677 hours of computer time.
Kai had a fun time on the trip, but is pretty tired - they did a lot of walking. So tonight we've made lollies: I eventually found the lolly-making kits at The Range, and on the way home from school we picked up a pack of apple and strawberry juice cartons and two punnets of strawberries (organic, they were selling them at £1.70 instead of £3.98 for 500g, which is cheaper than their non-organic special offer. I bought two. Strawberries for dessert tonight!) Kai smooshed the berries (with a little help) and filled the moulds with the mix: they're in the freezer at the moment, should be ready for Kai to try one after dinner.
And we've voted. Almost forgot - I can't remember the last time an election was so low-key...
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
[happy grin] New tablet arrived, installed and now in use - for once with minimal problems (she says, touching wood). By minimal I mean that uninstalling the old one, and all the useless application software that came with it that I didn't realise I didn't have to install so did because back then I thought you had to, has left me now getting a popup message immediately on bootup saying there's not enough memory to run the 16-bit application and to close some windows first. [blink] I could swear my machine is 32-bit... Ken thinks it might be something to do with the XP emulation. I think it's Butch. Whatever, as long as the thing works I'll worry about it when my computer expert (Carol) comes to visit [cheeky grin]. The installation disk also didn't auto-run, but I'm used to that, none of them ever have on this computer.
It's going to take me a while to get used to it though - it's FUGE compared to the old one, I feel like I'm reaching right across the desk to get to the right hand side. Though actually I am, come to think of it... Anyway, shouldn't take too long given the amount of use it's going to get.
It's very smart, metallic grey, and the pen is brushed steel (so with a bit of luck the barrel won't split like the other, plastic, one did). It feels scratchy at the moment, but no doubt that'll wear off soon.
But what rather shook me is that what's arrived is the more expensive one, the 1200-V2. But they haven't charged me any more for it. All seems to be correct according to the invoice: only thing I can think of is they ran out of the 1200s (it did say on the Special Reserve site that they only had a few left) and have sent me the upgrade as a replacement. I am, of course, absolutely delighted!
I love Special Reserve...
Kai wasn't too poorly this morning, so is in school, though I asked for him to be excused PE this afternoon (it's cold and wet today, and standing around in PE-kit at the park, in the wind, waiting to play rounders isn't going to do him any good). Keeping fingers crossed he'll be fine tomorrow: I really don't want him to miss the trip. The whole school are going, class by class, over this week.
I don't feel too bad, luckily. Certainly not ill enough to take any time off.
Back to it, then!
Small edit after reading Valkyrie's blog:-
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
[snuffle] Kai is coughing and sneezing, has a headache and says his skin feels sensitive, and I haven't felt right for a couple of days either - looks like we may both have some sort of bug. I'll see how he feels in the morning: would rather he doesn't miss school, especially since he has a school trip on Thursday (trip around Briz on an open-top bus)...
Into town today: dropped into Kathie's Comics and picked up Saiyuki Vol 6 (the manga seems to be substantially different to the anime, which means I need both...), then over to Forbidden Planet just to see what they had. The answer was 'not a lot' (that I want anyway) although they did have the Getbackers Vol 2 DVD - at £18.99... [wince - the DVD prices at FP are ridiculous] However, they did also have a special offer on, two full price DVDs for £20, selected titles only, and I think only the dubbed versions. Nevertheless it's not the sort of deal that can be easily ignored, so I picked up Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust, the first to replace my video of same (the second anime I ever saw, ah, nostalgia...) and the second because of Yoshiaki Kawajiri's involvement. And because I like D.
Kai and I watched VHD this evening while my computer was kidnapped... [growl] The bloody thing's faulty and will have to go back to be replaced. Like I need another trip into town this week. Will wait until I've had a chance to watch Bloodlust though, to check it's OK.
In other newts... um... nowt I can think of...
Burning hands be damned, this is just too good not to share. Get thee to AFF and stare in awe and absolute horror at the wonder that is
The Mary-Sue Death Machine!!
Monday, May 02, 2005
[WAAAIIIILLL] My tablet has packed up...
Really packed up. Checking all the connections, rebooting completely, changing the battery, even changing the nib (it was as easy as you said, Valkyrie) didn't make any difference: the only thing I haven't tried is a re-install (and given the hassles I had in the first place I'm loath to try that). The cursor was all over the place, and just touching the pad grabbed and dragged icons, although I couldn't actually reach half of them with the pen. I've had the tablet since Sept 02 and haven't used anything else since; it's been hammered into the ground in that time. Is that a good time for a cheapie to last? I've no idea...
Anyway, I've [wince] ordered a new one from Special Reserve (Trust again, can't afford Wacom): a 1200 - my current one is a 400. It should be here by Wednesday. I'll take it easy 'til then - in the meantime I'm back to using a mouse: hour and half and my hand is aching like hell already. I'd forgotten I originally bought the tablet because of the teno.
Bank Holiday Monday today: Kai has a day off. As is traditional with Bank Holidays, the weather is being a complete sod, so he's keeping himself amused diving into the garden when it's not raining and drawing when it is.
Forgot to say I bought a chocolate fondue set in the cats charity place on Saturday, and we used it yesterday, dunking sweets, marshmallows and tangerine segments into the melted chocolate. Was delicious! (Will have another go when you come over, Carol - perhaps with some strawberries!)
I'm sure there was more I had to say... Update later if I remember what it was.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
That previous post should of course read The Heaven and EARTH Show, as Sue so kindly pointed out. Interesting mental slip on my part, there, perhaps...
And by the way, HAPPY BELTAIN everyone!
My haddock's been escaping again...
The 'exorcism' filming went well, Ken tells me. As well as the exorcist there were two observers - Julie Fernandez and Matt Allwright as the cynic: he's one of my favourite TV presenters (he was great in Rogue Traders). It's supposed to be shown during one ep of the (cringe) Heaven and Hell show on a Sunday morning on BBC1, sometime in the near future. Nowt to do with me, I hasten to add...
The folks visited today (just for the day): a fun time was had by all. And they like my decorating.
X-Rated: The Pop Videos They Tried To Ban on Channel 4 has just finished, and Ken actually stayed up to watch it with me. Well, he was in the lounge and I was at the computer watching over my shoulder, but you know what I mean...
Fascinating stuff. We missed the beginning of it, unfortunately, but they tried to cover everything, starting with the relatively innocuous - Duran Duran's Girls on Film and Madonna's... well, most things - and getting more and more extreme as the programme progressed. Ken, puir innocent lamb that he is, was thoroughly bemused by it all: Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax (the original gay club version, not the sanitised one), NIN (didn't catch the name of the track, it's the sado-masochistic one with the torture chair), Marilyn Manson (Coma White), Aphex Twins (Come To Daddy - I was impressed...), The Prodigy (Smack My Bitch Up, which had me staring bemused at the TV until the last shot, when I laughed aloud. Never liked The Prodigy but that was rather good...), ending up with the lesbian orgy of Rock Bitch, via the rather tedious porn of hip-hop. Not a great deal of an eye-opener for me, but intriguing stuff all the same.
Ooh! Thunder! There's something I haven't heard in a while... Explains why my skin is prickling though.
Lie in and a quiet day tomorrow. I need a rest.