Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...

Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...

Other sites:

:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications ::

I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.

... I'd write my autobiography, but no-one would believe it....

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.

The Poppy Tales

(Transformers fanfiction!)

Transformers mini-comics here.

Adventures in Orchids

Apparently I am now collecting them...

There's room for one - or maybe two, at a pinch - more on that bedroom windowsill (the only one in the house that's ideal for them). Let's see what I find. Well, that didn't last long...

EO - Everlasting orchid. Phalaenopsis. I've had this orchid since 2007 and it just keeps flowering...

AO - Alien face orchid. Phalaenopsis . Bought 2018 - lovely little flowers, all different patterns!

RO - Rescued orchid photo to come when it flowers. Phalaenopsis. Rescued from a bin up the road in 2019. Classic!

TO - Tiny orchid. Phalaenopsis. Bought at Tesco 21.8.20. It just begged to come home with me. How could I say no?

CO - Crimson orchid. Cambria. Another Tesco find. This one may be going to live in Ken's room once we've redecorated and put up the new shelving; it prefers a cooler, less sunny windowsill. If so, I'll need to find another cambrian to keep it company.

GO - Golden orchid. Phalaenopsis. Saw this one when I bought CO and left it behind - then immediately regretted it as soon as I got home. Never seen one like it before. Ken, bless him, went back over to Tesco in the rain and bought it for me...

DO - Dendrobium Orchid. Smells of wisteria, so beautiful...

RO2 - Rescued orchid no 2. Phalaenopsis. This is the one I rescued from the wall along the road middle of 2021.

PO. Pink orchid. Phalaenopsis. This is the one I bought at Cabury Garden Centre on special, late 2021. It's much happier here!

TWO. Teeny weeny orchid, Phalaenopsis. Rescued from Tesco end 2021 (I think).

My IMDb ep summaries

Arthur of the Britons
Star Maidens
The Starlost
Space Rangers
The Sentinel (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Swamp Thing (part: season 3)
Gravedale High
Transformers: Armada
Transformers: Energon
Transformers: Cybertron (part)
Misfits of Science (four eps)
Zoo Gang
Jupiter Moon
Transformers: Beast Wars (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Transformers: Beast Machines (part)
Vampire Princess Miyu
Nathan Barley
No Heroics
Undermind (3 eps)
Will Shakespeare (Tim Curry version)
12 Kingdoms
Trigun (ep 8)
Hyperdrive (season 2 ep 3)
The Café

For later:

Missing Earthian ep
Missing Haibane Renme eps)
(And possibly Marine Boy...)

Silver birch at Eastwood 


"Autumnal - nothing to do with leaves. It is to do with a certain brownness at the edges of the day... Brown is creeping up on us, take my word for it... Russets and tangerine shades of old gold flushing the very outside edge of the senses... deep shining ochres, burnt umber and parchments of baked earth - reflecting on itself and through itself, filtering the light. At such times, perhaps, coincidentally, the leaves might fall, somewhere..."

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Act 2: Tom Stoppard)


I love this time of year. I love the colours, the sharp slant of sunlight on the trees, mosaics of acid-yellow and harts- blood, velvet and darkness and a haze of mist-grey over the hills. I love its immanence, its mellowness, the tang of frost just around the corner of the year...

Watching the little birds in the goat-willow in my garden, I realised something more.

I love this land with a fierce, possessive love, deep-rooted in two thousand years of history. From the frosted beaches and cloud-brushing peaks of the north to the wind-haunted meanderings of the rivers of the east, from the sensuous rolling patchworked hills of the south to the demanding dark moors of the west, this land seeps into bone and blood and synapse, mother of motley nobility, culture, individual freedoms. It can be known. It can be understood. It can be felt deep inside.

I love its effortless eccentricities, its vigour and vibrancy, its flawed perfections, its silent strength and tenacious resilience, its hard-won tolerances and intense and variable beauty, the profound energy in its sacred mythical landscape.

Home and more-than-home, the forces that shape and protect and bind, in me, as I am in the land. Love returning love in the stillness for those who'll only take the time to listen...

(Joules, Autumn 2004)

All photographs taken by Joules unless otherwise specified. All photographs © Joules A Taylor or other specified individual.

In Memoriam

17.03.09 - Argent

25.07.08 - Raptor

18.12.07 - Quyn

02.12.06 - Ryme

Currently enjoying:
Transformers - IDW, Prime, Animated, Rescue Bots.

Currently reading:
Various Transformers books and graphic novels.

Currently working on:

Currently chuffed with:
My garden

Currently miffed at:
Nestlé, Nonpres Tinyhands Fart, Toadface Farage

Currently maintaining:

Blog Pics
I've gathered some of my pages of photos together: the page of links is here. I'll be adding more as time goes by!

Evil Squid
A Little Glossary of Taylorspeke
(in no particular order)

plit popints - n. Typo for 'plot points' typed on a keyboard with more than half the characters worn off...

[PING] (alt [ping]) - n. A brainwave. The text equivalent of a lightbulb going on blindingly over someone's head. Usually mine. And usually at the most inconvenient of times. [sigh]

TPTB - The Powers That Be.

wulmet - n. A person of little or no talent who somehow inveigles himself into a position where he is in power over other, far more talented people and uses his position to downplay them in order to try to make himself feel superior.

biteable - referring to an anatomical part vb, tasty.

Flatterfed - vb. 27.02.08: my typo for flattered, but since it's so cutely apt I thought it would fit nicely here. Lutra defined it as "the lovely warm feeling of satisfaction resulting from enthusiastic reviews..." (which I've been getting for my MB fics).

Composted - vb, 'compos mentis', mentally capable of working. Contrast with uncomposted or non- composted, not 'compos mentis', not capable of working, hungover...

Cumbles - n, cucumbers.

Kewp - how Ken says 'thank you'. We rather like Lutra's 'nanx', too...

Musekick - noun, music, without which I cannot work.

'feinne - noun, caffeine, essential for correct mental functioning, especially first thing in the morning. I prefer mine in the form of SodaStream Diet Coke. And on that subject...

Skoosh - verb, noun. To skoosh - to add CO2 to a sodastream bottle filled with water to make it fizzy, prior to adding Diet Coke syrup (or just drinking as sparkling water). A skoosh - a bottle of water that has been skooshed. Skooshy - something that has been skooshed, water, or that whipped cream that comes in tins you have to shake then upend and press the nozzle...

Shoogle - verb. To shake gently, for example, of roast potatoes in a roasting tin to ensure they're covered with oil. I have vague memories of this being a real Scottish colloquialism...

Stegasaurus - n, spider of the genus tegenaria. Why? No idea. I just find it easier, that's all...
Edit 08.09.07: Lutra thinks that Brian is a good name for a mini-stegasaurus. From now on, any 'Brian's in the posts may be assumed to be a tegenaria. Except where otherwise specified.

Viterals - noun, vitamins + minerals. Also a pun on victuals.

Splish - verb. A combination of slosh and splash.

Parrots - noun, paracetemol (from the old joke "Why are there no aspirin tablets in the jungle? Because the parrots eat 'em all...")

Maggles - noun, magpies. As opposed to non-magical people.

Flamewings - noun. Swifts. So called because the first time we became aware of them was an early summer evening when they were flying high, the light from the setting sun seemingly turning their wings to flames. Lovely little birds. We always know summer's arrived when we hear their high-pitched squeeing.

Murfs - noun, moths.

Peasant cut - noun, roughly cut up into big chunks, e.g. vegetables chopped in a hurry for a hearty stew or soup. By extension, anything prepared in a hurry - haircut, material, even a first draft of a story...

Giraffe - noun, a carafe (of wine, coffee or water, for example).

Shrumps - noun, mushrooms.

Splings - noun, Kai's spelling homework: by extension, any spelling.

Tyops - noun, typos. var toyps, typso, psyto, psoyt, etc. Usual result of a dose of the fingerials (see next entry).

Fingerials - (pr. fin GEEE ree yalls) noun, fingers that will not type what you want them to.

Haddock - noun, time, of which I never have enough. (Origin of this term here.)

Sleep - noun? vb? a.k.a. sheeeeeeeeep.... I used to know what this word meant...

The Updates Blog

The place to stay notified of WaveWrights' Fiction updates: Zone, Darkside, DarkRealm, Matrix, Vault, Safehouse 13...

my computer gremlin Butch. click the pic to see the larger image

Butch, my computer gremlin. Click the pic for larger version, and read his adventures here...

Butch by the talented 


A gift for me! Butch by the very talented Sylverthorne. Click pic for larger image.



This is MY haddock. It was caught exclusively for me by Talon. No, you can't have any. I need all the haddock I can get!!

A'lestrel by Valkyrie.

A'lestrel - a gift for me from Valkyrie...

Albino Alsatian Benten (c) MEBird 


Another gorgeous Valkyrie gift for me - Benten the Albino Alsatian! Click thumbnail for larger image.

Radittsu, an oekaki for my birthday 04 



Oekai by Bakayaro Onna - Radittsu at his sexiest...

The Zone Plant from
The Zone 



OrganicHTML (which alas no longer seems to exist...)
[::..My Regular Reads..::]
:: Astronomical Pic of the Day [>]
:: What is Space... [>]
:: Dark Roasted Blend [>]
:: BLDG [>]
:: Watchismo Times [>]
[::..Fun Places..::]
::PALEOMAP Project
Absolutely fascinating.
:: Skymap
Check out the night sky where you are!
[::..Useful Sites..::]
:: GreenNet
First stop for environmental matters
:: The Forest of Avon
Our local community forest and places to visit
:: The Guardian
Online Guardian Newspaper.
:: Symbols
Exactly what it says
:: World Timeserver
For checking the current time around this world
:: Universal Currency Converter
Actually it's just a terran-global currency converter, not universal, but it's still useful...

So what is it with the haddock? Am I some kind of fish freak?

I'll leave that to others to decide.

The tale (or tail if you prefer) harks back to October 2000, when my GoodTwin and I, ably assisted by Sue, ran the first UK Professionals convention...
It's common knowledge that I never have enough time, and I was determined not to bewail the fact that weekend: hence I promised not to use the 'T' word...
Of course, that didn't really work (if nothing else I had to let the trainees know what times things were supposed to be happening!) so we decided a substitute word would be employed instead. There were several suggestions. Banana came very close to being chosen. However, I eventually decided that 'haddock' fitted the bill nicely. Ever since, haddock=time. Hence the title of my forthcoming autobiography,
My Half-Life in the Haddock Space Continuum....

Normally I wouldn't, but these were just irresistible...

How could I resist?

Just too adorable...

and to complete the rainbow...

These Too-Kawaii Kitties
were adopted from
Ghost's Anime Page (which appears to have disappeared, alas...)

Useful sites:

Yamato -
Fabulous anime figures

Anime Lyrics
A huge selection... evil popups

Anime still needed to complete series' I'm collecting... Many thanks to everyone who has helped me acquire the collection!
Ai no Kusabi

   Dj: June Special
   CD: Ambivalence

Cyber City Oedo 808

   All 3 eps on Video, dubbed
   Dj: Cyberage 1-3
   Illustrated Book 2 (Benten's) in Japanese

From Eroica with Love

   Manga Vols 1, 9, 11

Mirage of Blaze

   DVD Vol 1 (eps 1-4)

R.G. Veda

   English Manga: Vol 1
   Japanese Manga: Vol 1-7 complete
   Tarot Pack
   R.G.Veda video

Twelve Kingdoms

   Anime Vol 1-12: complete

Under the Glass Moon

   Manga Vol 1, 2
Vol 3 needed

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust


   Vampire Hunter D Book 1

New Vampire Miyu

   (Studio Ironcat) Manga Vols 1 -5 (complete)

Yami no Matsuei

   Viz Manga: English translation, Vols 1 - 11 (complete: I believe vol 12 is only available online)
   Japanese 3-DVD set
   Central Park Media: Descendants of Darkness Vol. 1, English/Japanese subbed.

[::..Joules SPfied..::]

... this is Terra? How the hell'd I end up here...?

(Thanks, Lutra, for the quote!)

07/01/2002 - 07/31/2002
08/01/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/30/2002
10/01/2002 - 10/31/2002
11/01/2002 - 11/30/2002
12/01/2002 - 12/31/2002
01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
05/01/2004 - 05/31/2004
06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
10/01/2004 - 10/31/2004
11/01/2004 - 11/30/2004
12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006
06/01/2006 - 06/30/2006
07/01/2006 - 07/31/2006
08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006
09/01/2006 - 09/30/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
11/01/2006 - 11/30/2006
12/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
05/01/2007 - 05/31/2007
06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 31/01/2008
01/02/2008 - 29/02/2008
03/01/2008 - 31/03/2008
01/04/2008 - 04/30/2008
01/05/2008 - 31/05/2008
01/06/2008 - 30/06/2008
01/07/2008 - 31/07/2008
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01/11/2008 - 31/11/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/01/2009 - 31/01/2009
01/02/2009 - 28/02/2009
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01/02/2010 - 28/02/2010
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01/04/2010 - 30/04/2010
01/05/2010 - 31/05/2010
01/06/2010 - 30/06/2010
01/07/2010 - 31/07/2010
01/08/2010 - 31/08/2010
01/09/2010 - 30/09/2010
01/10/2010 - 31/10/2010
01/11/2010 - 31/11/2010
01/12/2010 - 31/12/2010
01/01/2011 - 31/01/2011
01/02/2011 - 28/02/2011
01/03/2011 - 31/03/2011
01/04/2011 - 30/04/2011
01/05/2011 - 31/05/2011
01/06/2011 - 30/06/2011
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01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
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01/12/2012 - 31/12/2012
01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
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01/01/2014 - 31/01/2014
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01/07/2014 - 31/07/2014
01/08/2014 - 31/08/2014
01/09/2014 - 31/09/2014
01/10/2014 - 31/10/2014
01/11/2014 - 30/11/2014
01/12/2014 - 31/12/2014
01/01/2015 - 31/01/2015
01/02/2015 - 28/02/2015
01/03/2015 - 31/03/2015
01/04/2015 - 30/04/2015
01/05/2015 - 31/05/2015
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01/11/2015 - 31/11/2015
01/12/2015 - 31/12/2015
01/01/2016 - 31/01/2016
01/022016 - 28/02/2016
01/03/2016 - 31/03/2016
01/04/2016 - 31/04/2016
01/05/2016 - 31/05/2016
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01/10/2016 - 31/10/2016
01/11/2016 - 31/11/2016
01/12/2016 - 31/12/2016
01/01/2017 - 31/01/2017
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01/03/2017 - 31/03/2017
01/04/2017 - 30/04/2017
01/05/2017 - 31/05/2017
01/06/2017 - 30/06/2017
01/07/2017 - 31/07/2017
01/08/2017 - 31/08/2017
01/09/2017 - 30/09/2017
01/10/2017 - 31/10/2017
01/11/2017 - 30/11/2017
01/12/2017 - 31/12/2017
01/01/2018 - 31/01/2018
01/02/2018 - 28/02/2018
01/03/2018 - 31/03/2018
01/04/2018 - 30/04/2018
01/05/2018 - 31/05/2018
01/06/2018 - 30/06/2018
01/07/2018 - 31/07/2018
01/08/2018 - 31/08/2018
01/09/2018 - 30/09/2018
01/10/2018 - 31/10/2018
01/11/2018 - 30/11/2018
01/12/2018 - 31/12/2018
01/01/2019 - 31/01/2019
01/02/2019 - 28/02/2019
01/03/2019 - 31/03/2019
01/04/2019 - 30/04/2019
01/05/2019 - 31/05/2019
01/06/2019 - 30/06/2019
01/07/2019 - 31/07/2019
01/08/2019 - 31/08/2019
01/09/2019 - 30/09/2019
01/10/2019 - 31/10/2019
01/11/2019 - 30/11/2019
01/12/2019 - 31/12/2019
01/01/2020 - 31/01/2020
01/02/2020 - 29/02/2020
01/03/2020 - 31/03/2020
01/04/2020 - 31/04/2020
01/05/2020 - 31/05/2020
01/06/2020 - 31/06/2020
01/07/2020 - 31/07/2020
01/08/2020 - 31/08/2020
01/09/2020 - 30/09/2020
01/10/2020 - 31/10/2020
01/11/2020 - 30/11/2020
01/12/2020 - 31/12/2020
01/01/2021 - 31/01/2021
01/02/2021 - 28/02/2021
01/03/2021 - 31/03/2021
01/04/2021 - 30/04/2021
01/05/2021 - 31/05/2021
01/06/2021 - 30/06/2021
01/07/2021 - 31/07/2021
01/08/2021 - 31/08/2021
01/09/2021 - 30/09/2021
01/10/2021 - 31/10/2021
01/11/2021 - 30/11/2021
01/12/2021 - 31/12/2021
01/01/2022 - 31/01/2022
01/02/2022 - 28/02/2022
01/03/2022 - 31/03/2022
01/04/2022 - 30/04/2022
01/05/2022 - 30/05/2022
01/06/2022 - 31/06/2022
01/07/2022 - 31/07/2022
01/08/2022 - 31/08/2022
01/09/2022 - 30/09/2022
01/10/2022 - 31/10/2022
01/11/2021 - 31/11/2021
01/12/2022 - 31/12/2022
01/01/2023 - 31/01/2023
01/02/2023 - 28/02/2023
01/03/2023 - 31/03/2023
01/04/2023 - 30/04/2023
01/08/2023 - 31/08/2023
01/11/2023 - 31/11/2023

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The GIAS engineer arrived while Kai and I were out on Friday. He fitted the new sensor module in the fridge-freezer. But since I'm such a suspicious old trout, I left the max/min thermometer in the freezer. Yesterday the temperature got down to -35 degrees, so I turned the thermostat down to 1.6 (which, you may remember, is what the previous-previous engineer told us to do).
This morning the freezer is at -39, and the fridge at 11 degrees (3 degrees higher than the recommended max temp for any fridge).
We've now turned the thermostat back up - which may or may not help the fridge, but which will almost certainly reduce the freezer to sub-arctic temperatures. And first thing on Monday Ken will ring them yet again.
I will never never never buy anything from Hoover-Candy again...
We finished watching Trigun yesterday - Kai loved it. Ken now wants to re-watch the whole thing (he missed the first video so has been working while we've been engrossed), so the DVDs are at the top of the list. sell them for £13.99 delivered: I should be able to get at least half of them for Yule.
Kai is sitting out on the wall, with Quyn at the gate - Carol is on her way. Will report back on our adventures, with pics, as they happen!


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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ho hum...
Into town with Kai, bank, Kathie's Comics (who were having a 3for2 on some manga, so picked up Trigun Maximum 3 and 5 and an odd little volume that's a direct anime-to-manga book of the first six eps of the anime, full colour and rather cute - which means I'm now collecting the manga, the anime on DVD, and the manga of the anime, though this last is less important), bought myself a new brolly (metallic silver, very swish!), then took Kai over to Castle Park for an hour. And I got given the new nickname of Stars from one of the sprogs he played with. [bemused] I wonder why...
Carried on watching Trigun when we got back - all the way up to ep 24, at which point I had to call a halt as it was 10.45pm and Kai was fighting to keep his eyes open. (Will watch the last two eps tomorrow.) And Rakuen (ep 23, Paradise) still makes me cry, which I think slightly alarmed bratling!
Hands a little better after time away from the computer: I think next week should solve the problem.
Um, re: HBP... Without giving any spoilers, I think it's safe to say that the death, while sad, affected me less than it should have (possibly because I kill characters off as well). Stylistically the book seems a little jerky, with events/objects/relationships being introduced with little to no buildup. But worst of all was the treatment of Snape. Fair enough, he's probably my favourite character (though whether I'd like him so much if Alan Rickman hadn't played him in the films is open to debate!) but honestly! He seemed to go from complex to black and white without warning. [growl]
I have less of a problem with the teenaged kids. I can remember being like that myself, so while not exactly deep, they seemed realistically portrayed to me. Except for the ending, which was a case of "uh, what? Where'd that come from?" Or perhaps I just hadn't been playing close enough attention...
I think overall I was a little disappointed, which is a pity given how much I was looking forward to it. Then again, it's written for young people rather than a self-opinionated old trout like me.


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Friday, July 29, 2005

Finished HBP.
Can't comment, not everyone's read it yet.
But I'm not happy...


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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Revised Crystal spreads now away.
Our recycling black box was finally emptied today, after two (or was it three?) weeks of being missed. Apparently it was because since the council's saturation advertising of the benefits of recycling there's been a 40% increase in people doing it (which is great news) and the service has been swamped: the collectors don't see the boxes unless they're right in front of their noses, which ours can't be unless we put it on the wall - where it can and has been knocked off, and it's no fun trying to pick broken glass out of the grass - or in the way of the bin. However, they have a list of 'awkward' addresses, it seems, and we've now been added. Heh, is anyone surprised? [grin]
It took us several phone calls to get the wheeliebin emptied as well. Apparently the collectors were kicking up because they didn't want to enter people's properties (fair enough, people have dogs and not everyone is responsible), but in our case we'd parked the bin close enough to the gate that you could still open it and reach the thing without stepping inside. As they proved on Wednesday: I watched them from inside the house. So whether they were trying to prove a point or something I really don't know. It's empty now and with luck we won't have the problem in the future.
On the plus side, some time ago we found out that there were free composting bins available from the council to the first however many people who asked for one: since one of our wooden ones has already gone 'ome and the other is on the way, and never one to miss a freebie, we rang and applied. It arrived yesterday: a whopping big green recycled-plastic truncated cone with a top lid and bottom door, no floor so the wildlife will still have free access (can't starve our mice and slowworms!). It'll blend in beautifully and the design means we only need the one. Chuffed we are.
It's been another day of clearing up odds and sods, but my intray is almost empty. Then I'm taking a couple of hours off to rest the hands and finish HBP (Heh, Ken's already read it!)
More later...


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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

naked haddock This is a half fish. Or perhaps a naked haddock. Filleted semi-mullet? Whatever, I found it at the Cat's charity place for 80p several weeks ago. It's supposed to be a decoration for the wall. I can't help but wonder who - apart from me - would want a bizarre bas relief of a half fish hanging on their wall...
Haven't decided where to hang it yet. Maybe in the hall/stairwell/landing when I redecorate.
News in brief...
Sample spreads went off this morning.
Quick updates to two client websites done.
Final Crystal proofs arrived and looked at: revisions to be sent off tomorrow.
Kai's visit to the dentist went well - no treatment needed. Ken's now put up the clock and the speaker brackets and is wiring up the speaker cable; should be finished tomorrow.
The new vet is lovely - the animals liked her too. I told her about Raptor's dental problems, she had a look and said the wee beastlie's actually lost a few teeth, and a lot of the others don't look too good, but if she's eating properly (is she ever!) and not showing any signs of distress, and especially given her age, she (the vet) is happy to leave things as they are for the time being. So not a vet trying to persuade clients to part with large sums of money, then. That gives me confidence.
And Kai and I watched two more Trigun videos tonight, from Hard Puncher to Quick Draw (incl) and only stopped there because I insisted (well, it was 11.30 pm). Bratling is hooked. Perhaps I should try him on Cowboy Bebop next...
About to settle to something non-intensive. Might even read something!

Sig of the Day: "Get a grip"? "Get a grip"?! I'm in the wrong body on the wrong planet in the wrong galaxy at the wrong time and you expect me to "get a grip"?!


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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sample spreads now done, but I want to check them again tomorrow before I send them off. They'll still be a day early.
My teno has flared up again though, right hand worse than the left, and the tendon connecting my index finger to my wrist is extremely painful and swollen. Need to take it easy for a few days and hope it eases, otherwise I have problems.
So, War of the Worlds.
Park your brain at the door - it's the only way to prevent the illogic and glaring plot holes giving you a migraine. There are some genuinely scary moments. The tripods are pretty good - love the noise they make - but the Martians themselves... silly-looking ID4 ripoffs. There are nods towards the book, but they aren't explained. In fact, not a lot is explained - which is actually not necessarily a bad thing: after all, if something like this really happened most people wouldn't know what the hell was going on. The religious platitudes in the narrated epilogue might have been acceptable at the end of the 19th century but at the beginning of the 21st they simply come across as pious hypocrisy. As for Cruise - well, even knowing the story I just wanted the Martians to win...
Kai enjoyed it, but it's NOT one we shall be buying.
We dropped into the newly opened Range on the way back. They haven't got their air conditioning fully operational yet - it was like a dry sauna in there, even the poor staff were wilting. Nevertheless we opted for taste over fun and came home with a pine loo seat (as Ken pointed out, pinewood has a natural disinfectant), and some bright blue organza to replace the blue and purple in Kai's room (which looks a little too feminine, we decided). The shop itself doesn't seem to be carrying any more than it used to - as far as I could tell with a quick look, it was too hot to wander - but it is easier to move around in there now.
Haven't been able to take photos of Kai's clock collection yet, his room is full of drillbits and screws that are the wrong size (Ken's cursing Focus at the moment) and speaker cable and brackets. Will try again tomorrow. Well, when the drilling/putting up is done anyway.

Sig of the Day: I'd rather be mulch than on a pedestal.


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Three scans from Crystal Power by Ken & Joules Taylor, to be published by Godsfield Press in February 2006 (with my thanks to the Hamlyn Publicity and Marketing Manager for permission to post).

from the Bedroom

Encourage Dreaming - one of the spreads for the bedroom section.
from Sanctuary

Completion and Balance - a spread from the Sanctuary section.
from Living Room

Dressing the Part - from the Living Room chapter.
The final version will be brighter and glossier, of course: these are the working proofs. I think the book is going to be beautiful as well as useful!
Ken and Kai arrived back with the wall pendulum clock - and another two pocket watches. The seller had said £10 each (they weren't working: working ones cost £40-£50), but since it was Kai he let them go for £15 the pair. We have one very happy bratling!
And me? Well, despite having one of those days where I'd write five words then get interrupted for half an hour by something that just couldn't wait, I've not done too badly. One of the spreads is finished (first draft) and the other I should be able to write tomorrow (it's a little trickier).
I finally got so fed up with the bloody Mytobs I emailed OneTel politely asking them to investigate and clean the machine(s) sending out the virus. Haven't had a reply, but I also haven't had any more of them. But that might just be coincidence...
Oh, and EmpireStores have come back to say that I don't need to login to order online, just give my account number and email address at the checkout, which should (hopefully) reactivate my account. Why couldn't they have said that in the first email? Tch'...

Sig of the Day: What do you mean, get in touch with my inner child? I have enough problems controlling the outer one!


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Monday, July 25, 2005

That took a little longer than anticipated [note to self: you know by now it always does so stop being surprised when it happens!] but the additional text/illustrations captions .doc went off just before 2 am. Waiting to hear if I can post scans...
I had planned to take Kai to Bath today, but Ken offered instead so I can work on the sample spreads for the Dreams book. Kai's quite happy about this; Ken's more interested and knowledgeable than me when it comes to antiques anyway. He's just rung: Kai's found a 1960's wall-mounted pendulum (was £50, reduced to £35, quite a bargain: Kai's been saving his pocket money and doing jobs for me, and trotted off this morning with a little over £50 in his wallet) which they're going back to pick up on the way back home. With a little luck I can persuade Ken to put Kai's speaker brackets up while he has the drill out for the clock, then bratling can finally have his stereo working. (Yes, I do know how to use a drill, but it's heavy and right now I have to look after my hands.)
Tomorrow I take Kai to the cinema. He's decided he wants to see War of the Worlds first, and Fantastic 4 next time - pity, because I think he'd enjoy the latter more... but his holiday, his choice.
[snarl] I'm getting a spate of Mytob virus emails - not that they have any effect here, my a-v software takes care of them before they reach me, but what's pissing me off is they're spoofing our own email addresses. They're actually coming from a OneTel IP address (or so the headers indicate), and I believe it's more than likely someone who's managed to get their own machine infected, as opposed to deliberately malicious. It's a bloody pain in the arse, though, especially if they're going out randomly to other people: I know there are still a load of unprotected idiots who open unsolicited attachments despite all the warnings, and I can't see everyone checking our site to see who we are before clicking on the damn things. By which time our warning and disclaimer is too late...
Right - back to Dreams. Just heard we won't get the final Crystals spreads 'til Wednesday, which is a busy day here, dentist for Kai and Ken and vet for Quyn and Raptor, but there's only five of them, I think, so there shouldn't be a problem.

Sig of the Day: When in doubt, write a lemon...


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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Well silly me. When I heard I'd get the Crystal Home proofs in two batches, I assumed that meant two equal batches. But no. The whole thing arrived this morning, less the five spreads that are being redesigned...
It's just as well I rather enjoy this part of the commission: writing captions (20-25 words) for illustrations is fun. That's not to say it's particularly easy - I have to scan the rest of the text to make sure I don't repeat ourselves, and it's very tempting to get overly fulsome with the prose - and it's taken me most of the afternoon and evening to work up to chapter 6 (of 9). Though I did kind of get sidetracked when I had this sudden urge to watch Trigun again, thinking I could work while it was on - I'd forgotten how wonderfully good it is and ended up watching the first video (with Kai, who loved it and is looking forwards to the rest. Planning to watch one video per day over this week. Have to get the DVDs though - the tapes are now worn worryingly thin! Where was I? Oh yes...) 24 captions so far at an average of 22 words each plus 3 bits of additional text at an average of 35 words each. Not too bad. Will be able to finish the rest tomorrow.
On Friday morning, when I came down so early, I discovered (quite by accident while channel hopping to find something to work with/to) that we now have the MTV2 cable channel: Green Day were playing, and I rather liked what I heard, so left the channel on. I'd only ever heard of them via AFF (there's quite a bit of fanfic about them) so was curious. They're good - something like The Clash with a hint of Pogues, wonderfully bouncy songs coupled with deliciously vicious political lyrics. Got to get some!
After Green Day was half an hour of The White Stripes (not my thing) and then half an hour of Gorillaz! I loved Clint Eastwood (though I still can't work out why the song's called that) and really enjoyed the whole programme (particularly like Dare: never heard it before. Great video to go with it too.)
MTV2 are now having an Ultimate Festival Weekend. So far seen Green Day live, and a half an hour of Marilyn Manson. Hm. Loved the music, the costumes are great, but Manson/Warner as a singer is just boring, a growling monotone. Disappointing. Perhaps he's better studio-recorded...
I found this by blog-hopping last night and nearly pissed myself laughing. It's hysterical. It was this post that really got me (posted without permission and with no intent to denigrate or insult anyone hurt by the attacks) - it's just so perfectly British:
The British spirit is unbreakable. Just heard the following, which some may say is tasteless, but honestly I think it reflects the British attitude to attempts by silly little people to bring us down...
*Typical of London Transport. No terrorist attacks for ages, then four come along at once!*
To any terrorist out there. Give up. The jokes will just get worse, and life will just go on.
Now I have to type up everything I've done today before I forget what I wrote (can't read my handwriting either today, Carol!)

Sig of the Day: Aw hell, not another crisis! I can't fit any more into my schedule...


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Saturday, July 23, 2005

My alarm went off at 7.30am.
This wasn't deliberate - I don't know how to turn the thing off. I mean, I know how to stop it going brrrrreeeep brrrrreeeep brrrrreeeep at me (just hit any key) but I don't know how to stop it going off in the first place. I must get Kai to teach me...
No, this isn't a case of child knowing how to programme VCR while helpless parents look on. The alarm is Kai's, a slimline travel-alarm-clock-calculator in silver and black, bought at St Pete's Hospice shop, in box, but without instructions. He's worked out how to operate it by trial and error - it's anything but intuitive, trust me, I've tried! - so I have him set it for me. Yesterday I forgot to ask him to switch it off. So I got woken at 7.30am - after getting to bed at 5.30am. (Yes, I know I said I was going to try for an early night but then I got engrossed...)
Couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up, booted up, and dealt with the business stuff, thinking I'd have a nap later.
Then Ken arrived back from Tesco with a copy of Half-Blood Prince...
I made the stupid mistake of taking it up with me when I went for a nap. I did try - read three chapters then put it down and tried to doze off. But what with wanting to know what happened next, thinking agent scenarios, and the text of the first of the sample pages for the Dreams book buzzing around in my head I couldn't.
[sigh] I'm half-way through the book. I'll finish it tomorrow while my computer is hijacked. Then Ken can read it.
I feel somewhat zombified - two hours sleep is a bit of a stretch even for me. But I've written up the sample spread text that was buzzing, and even managed a little writing, so I've not done badly, all told. (Bratling has now switched off the alarm so I can have a lie-in tomorrow.)
And Kai has started on the Chronicles of Narnia. I read the whole series to him when he was little: it's heart-warming to think he's now reading them for himself.
poor puppy...
Dog with lampshade on head. Quyn is being surprisingly resigned about his collar, but it's working well, the raw skin looks better already. I've now registered him and kits with a more local vet, and we have an appointment for next Wednesday. [wince] £106 for boosters for Quyn and Raptor, plus 3 month dog and 6 month cat Frontline treatments. But we don't have a choice, especially with canine parvovirus rife in Briz at the moment. Think I might splash out on a Lottery ticket tomorrow, though - we're due some good luck!
And just heard from the 'TV shows on DVD' site I joined specifically to add my vote to have Drawn Together released on DVD - it'll be available from on October 4th!
Oh, talking about Logic? What logic? - how about this? The Store, one of the online catalogues I use occasionally, has amalgamated with Empire Stores: when I went to login I was instructed to go through the process to get a new account number. Which I did. But when I went to login anew, I got a message saying my account wasn't registered. So I emailed them to ask why. The answer came back - because I haven't ordered for a while my account had become dormant, but once I placed an order it would be reactivated.
Huh? How can I place an order if I can't bloody login!?...
Of to do... something creative. Though whether it'll be coherent or not is open to debate...

Sig of the day: You only want me for my lemons...


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Friday, July 22, 2005

Just a brief update - I'm not so much not firing on all cylinders as rolling backwards down the hill out of gear and with no brakes...
Quyn is now wearing a lampshade on his head. Will try to take a photo tomorrow. I have anti-biotics and an anti-bacterial wash for him, and an appointment for August 4th.
Kai now on holiday.
[snarl] We've now had a letter from the debt collection agency re: the little fraudster who gave our address to his telephone company. Ken rang the phone co and spoke to a woman who was very apologetic and promised notes against the account and no further hassle to us on their part - yeah, right. I'll believe that when I see it. I used to work with people who'd promise anything to cut the call short and keep their call volumes high, then do bugger all about the customer's query - and we've returned the debt collector's letter to the company with accompanying correspondence. More as it happens.
[happy grin] Editor wants our input for captions for the illustrations (and a last few suggestions for the illustrations themselves) for the Crystal book: means we get to see the proofs! She's sending them Special Delivery for Saturday and Tuesday, for me to email our responses: with a bit of luck I can scan a page or two to post here - sneak peek of the book as it will be published, always exciting.
Still knackered, despite having a nap earlier. How tired? Silly tired -
Lutra: Golly, what did we do before satellite communication? Joules: ... smoke signals? jungle drums? Oh, I know - LETTERS! [gasp!] but but but... that's so primitive! ... and ... and ... RADIO [swoon] eeep! foul and unnatural! [falls off chair in hysterics]
Going to try for an early night...


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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ever felt you wanted to rewind the day and start again...?
Off I went to bed at about 3.30 am yesterday, to find my waterball off and the carpet on my side sodden. Half-awake-Ken tells me he woke about 1.30 with the horrible noise the pump was making, to find that the wind (which was pretty gusty last night, and of course our windows are open) had blown the curtain over the top of the ball and the fabric had acted as a wick, draining all the water onto the floor - so he'd switched it off... Thanks for letting me know, mate! [growl] So I had no water-sound last night, hence sleep was not as restful as I'd hoped.
Came down yawning to check email after dragging myself out of bed around 10.30, and nearly had a heart attack. Could I have the Dream book mss ready by the middle of September, or if that was too soon, how about mid-October? As Lutra would say, "...kin' what!?" Been fiddlefarting about with this since April, for gods' sakes, not the actual book, that was decided waaaay back, but whether they were going to commission me to write it. Mid-October would give me three months to write 60K words of a book I've planned to be the definitive (current) work on the subject. With my hands. Over Kai's summer holiday. With Ken going down to Dartmouth for a week in September to research/promote the ghosts and legends book. And I haven't even seen the contract yet!
The language here was very interesting at that point. Probably just as well Kai was at school.
So I did what any sensible author would do and emailed a rant to our agent...
Literary agents get a lot of bad press, but ours has always been great, and today was no exception. She rang just as I got home from collecting sprog to say she'd had words - the upshot being that the deadline has been extended 'til December, except for the two sample spreads which they need by the 28th July, which isn't a problem. So that's OK. I'm now waiting for confirmation of the new deadline. And the contract.
As of mid-July Wednesday is our new dustbin day: we had a flyer stuck to the bin a couple of months back advising us to leave the bin - and the recycling black box - inside our property boundary (I assume they've had complaints about the bins taking up all the pavement space, I know it annoys me!). So we did, unlike many of the others in the street. Last week they didn't empty our black box: today they didn't empty either our black box OR our wheeliebin. Ken's complained: they're supposed to be sending someone to collect the rubbish, though as of tonight both bin and box were still full. Well, when I say full, our bin is only ever full at Yule: we recycle everything we can anyway. Bloody annoying...
And Trading Standards rang re: the fridge-freezer. We can't demand a refund, since we accepted a replacement in the first instance. (We only accepted the replacement because we were told we couldn't demand a refund. Logic? What logic?) We have to contact Hoover-Candy and put our case to them - and see if they're prepared to extend the warranty, given the problems we're having. If not, we could ask for another replacement. Whatever happens, we're stuck with f***ing Hoover-Candy until we can afford a new appliance. You can probably imagine how pissed off I am. More as it transpires.
My computer was hijacked again this evening, so I've started a drawing of Lellai (was Leteetza). The same thing is going to happen tomorrow evening too, so hopefully I'll be able to finish the picture then.
And just to finish the day off nicely... We sprayed Quyn with Frontline flea repellent a few days ago, covering as much of him as we could (not easy because of his fur, but he's allergic to flea bites and it looks as though the cats have managed to catch some). It seems to have worked on his body, but his back legs... [wince] my poor pup. He's nibbled his ankles and thighs raw (literally in a couple of places, the skin's off and the wounds weeping). I've spent a couple of hours this evening bathing the raw patches with salt water, then smothered them with honey - soothing, antiseptic, anti-bacterial and promotes the growth of new skin, all we normally need in the way of skin medication - and have tried to cover it all up as best I can, with bandages and a pair of socks, but as anyone who's ever tried to stop a dog getting at injuries will know, that's only of use if you can keep the animal from pulling them off... Well, so far so good, it seems to have soothed the irritation, but in order to make sure he doesn't make it worse I'll have to stay up with him all night (again).
Ken has said to wake him when I can't stay awake any longer and he'll take over, then wake me again when he takes Kai to school so I can ring the vet and get Quyn round there as soon as possible. If they can loan us one of those cone things that go round a dog's neck to stop them biting themselves I can probably handle the rest. Then it's a matter of getting the Frontline spot-on treatment for the cats, and for Quyn for when the spray has worn off. Frontline used to last three months per treatment, but that obviously wasn't making the manufacturers enough money: the treatments now only last one month. And last time I checked a three month supply for one cat was around £20, and a bit more than that for one dog. We've been very lucky the last few years, and only needed to treat the pets in the summer - I don't believe in a) treating the animals unnecessarily, I'm sure it makes the fleas resistant to the stuff, or b) adding anything more to the manufacturer's coffers than I absolutely have to - but all the same, with three cats that's a huge chunk out of the household budget.
My apologies to anyone who's now itching! If it's any consolation, cat fleas may bite humans - and dogs - but they don't actually live on anything but cats. Or so I've been assured by the vet. And we vacuum thoroughly every couple of days, which keeps the house itself free of the little buggers. (Personally I hate them, and would have no objection whatsoever to 'science' eradicating them completely...)
It's 12.15. Only six and a quarter hours before I can wake Ken. Wonder how much I can get done in that time?


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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

... um, thank you, everyone, for the lovely comments. I'm now thoroughly embarrassed and won't do it again...
I think we, as a family, must be fated to disaster where loo seats are concerned - the latest one broke last night. [sigh] And The Range doesn't reopen until Saturday. Luckily we keep a tacky cheap plastic one as backup these days, which will do, just, until I can buy new. Now trying to decide between kitsch 'royal blue with gold glitter' perspex, or rather more tasteful pine!
The revised Dreams book outline is now off to the publisher, hopefully shouldn't be too long before I hear back. I've made a start on the introduction already, and will take a look at the required spreads (for the blad) tomorrow.
And Kai's been home all day today - another stomach upset hit during the night - and missed his sports' day. The problem is it affects him in the night and early morning, but the rest of the time he's OK. But the school has a strict directive that sprogs with any such symptoms must stay home for 24 hours. At least they aren't doing much school work this week...
The GIAS engineer came, tried to tell us that -35 degrees was normal with a freezer - yeah, right, and I had to take a chisel to the soft-scoop ice-cream - and has arranged for a replacement sensor module. As the previous engineer had said would happen. [bemused] It seems they're trying to rebuild the appliance from the outside in. The sensor is supposed to be fitted next week. If not, we may have to forego ice-cream while you're over, Carol...
Still waiting to hear from Trading Standards.
Blair thinks that the London bombs have nothing to do with the UK's involvement in the invasion of Iraq? What planet is he living on - Bush?
Grave Danger pts 1 & 2. So that's what Tarantino does with CSI. Heh. Irritatingly OOC characterisation, jerky plotting, annoying camerawork, gratuitous nastiness... What a mess. Very disappointing. I don't think I'll bother with any other Tarantino productions either if this is anything to go by.
It's a kit's life...


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Monday, July 18, 2005

... a self-indulgent post...
... 'cause Valkyrie asked for a pic. I asked Ken to try another handful of photos after I'd showered this evening and - ye gods, miracles still happen! - there was one I liked.
hair 18.07.05 The only tweaks were to even out and smudge the colour over my cheeks, nose, forehead and chest: they came out bright sunburn pink in the original, which they aren't so much in what passes for RL. But that's all. I'm not even wearing makeup - that darkness is panda eyes from years of too little sleep. It's a pity that the grey in my hair doesn't show up here, I rather like it...
I know the pose is similar to the one at the top (which was taken in 1999 by Adrian, by the way. Yes, it's been a hard few years!), but you'll never see a full-face photo of me if I can possibly help it. My face is broad, and now jowly, and the lids under and over my right eye (that's the one where the tumour was removed when I was 13 months old) are sagging horribly as I get older, making my face even more lopsided than normal. I also have a darkish mark across the bridge of my nose - not so obvious here, though it's very clear face-on - where my riding hat slid down and nearly broke my nose when I rolled after being thrown by a horse (while I was at Uni).
I don't like my face. Then again, I don't know many people who do (like their own faces, I mean). But luckily I don't have to look at it! [grin]
What passes for normal service will be resumed later. How much later I don't yet know...


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Sunday, July 17, 2005

[sigh] Kai tells me I forgot to say that he predicted only a trickle would come out of the hose, and that made it even funnier...
Fine day yesterday, much fun was had by all.
Can't get started today. Too hot...


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Friday, July 15, 2005

... so I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, with the hairdressing scissors in my hand. Thinking how easy it would be just to cut the whole lot off. Thinking how much cooler I'd be...
Then I remembered how long it's taken me to grow it, and the moment of insanity passed. I shall, however, prune the top (short) section thoroughly before I shower - that'll help me cope with the heat a little better.
Hair. Strange isn't it - I love long hair, especially on blokes. And long eyelashes. And characterful eyebrows. And silky short 'n' curlies. But hairy chests take third place on my list of turn-offs - second place goes to hairy backs/bums [shudder] and top place to bodies wearing only socks. Especially short socks. I really, really loathe socks. I accept that they're a necessary evil, even I wear them with trainers and boots, but ye gods they're a turn-off... I remember seeing Violette Nozière at my Uni film club. Rather, I remember seeing it up until the sex scene where the man was naked except for his socks. I couldn't take it seriously after that, had to fight not to laugh all the way through the sex scenes. [sigh] How embarrassing. Where was I? Oh yes - hairy chests...
Regular/long term readers might remember me mentioning some of the odd side-effects of Ken's course of medication. Did I ever say that it made his eyelashes grow really long and thick and curl under? I think I might have. Yesterday he was standing side-on to the sun streaming in the window and I realised, with a nasty shock, that the damn meds have made the hair on his chest grow too! Fortunately it's all so pale and blond it hardly shows face-on. I did offer to wax it for him but he declined...
Hm. Wonder if the lack of body hair explains part of the appeal of manga/anime for me?
Picked up my glasses this morning. Not at all sure the work ones are right: they won't let me focus on anything more than 3 feet away - actually have to take them off to see the clock on the wall above my monitor, and I daren't move from my desk when wearing them, I'll fall over something - and the screen looks concave to me. Of course, I have been using my old ones (the lenses of which are now for distance vision), which might have something to do with it - but... focussing through the work ones feels as though I'm straining my eyes. Though my eyes are very tired right now (slept better last night, we had the most delicious cold breeze pouring through the windows, but it was another late night/early morning...) I'll see how I go over the weekend and take them back to be reviewed next week if necessary.
What else? Ploughing on. 2AC taking shape in my mind. Parents and brother up to visit tomorrow. We missed the Jupiter occultation (Moon eclipsing Jupiter) a couple of days ago (took place before dark, dammit!) Fridge-freezer light flashing again ([sigh] of course): engineer coming next Tuesday. Had an email from the Godsfield executive editor with more detail on the Dreams book, and a requested substantial change to my original outline (which is fine: the format is less important than the text). There was something Kai wanted me to mention here, but I can't remember what it was... Oh yes - when I first filled up his pool, we had one of those moments that could have turned farcical had I not been such a wary and suspicious old trout. The hosepipe vibrated as the water moved along it, and we were all waiting for it to burst out of the end - but all that happened was a feeble trickle. Until I fiddled with the nozzle, anyway, at which point it shot out at a rate of knots, narrowly missing Kai who thought it was incredibly funny! No doubt he'd have found it even funnier if I'd been looking in the end at the time...
Lutra says:
<g> That's okay, slap-stick is one of the first forms of humour children really understand, but they move on to more sophisticated things like sarcasm and poo jokes before long.
(Posted here because Haloscan is playing up...)
Right - back to it...


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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

... [blink] I'm sure I had something to say... think my brain's melting in the heat...
Kai very much enjoyed his zoo trip. I managed a little work. My computer was hijacked again tonight for several hours so I drew Hijaa while I was waiting to get it back. And that's about it.
Off to drink a pint or three of iced water and try to kick-start brain (not Brian, as I originally typed. Who is Brian anyway?)


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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

There's something awfully civilised about arriving home tired and irritable on a very hot day and relaxing in the pool for an hour.
Even if the pool is just a plastic kids' one with water that barely comes up to your waist...
Was nice, though, very revivifying.
Kai slept on my side last night, under the fan (if it's set at its lowest speed it only makes a quiet hum, which Ken can sleep through, and the effect is very pleasant: makes the heat bearable). But that was after he was still awake at 11.30, too hot, so since it was a school day and he needs the sleep I only went up when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer - about 6.45 am. (Woke up again at 10.45 and haven't managed a nap today, hence the arriving home from collecting sprog tired and irritable.) Have to be up early tomorrow, it's his school trip to the zoo, and I have to make smoky-BBQ flavoured chicken tortillas for him to take for lunch (much nicer made fresh and only take about 3 minutes, everything's all prepared). Which means I need a relatively early night. But then I get a good long stretch of peaceful day in which to get work done, so it'll be worth it...
[bemused] I picked up two filled 'lunch' flatbread wraps on special (80p reduced from £2.10 as at sell-by date) from Sainsbug's for Ken and I for supper, with the irresistible name of Bang Bang Chicken. They were absolutely delicious - stuffed with chicken in a peanut and chili dressing (not too spicy) with finely grated carrot, spring onions, lettuce and water chestnuts. Wondering if I can make them myself (it's the peanut and chili sauce that's the problem, though a standard satay marinade with added mild chili powder should do the trick, I think). Have to give it a go: they could easily become a favourite.
Also wondering what to do tonight. Not quite ready to sleep; was planning on sketching - Lellai (was Leteetza) and/or Hijaa (was Hijau) - after a couple of hours on more serious things, but the mind's gone quite blank. It's 26 degrees out there, and probably a degree or two hotter downstairs inside: times like this I wish I had some way of keeping the cats in so I could open the patio doors.
Ah well. Still trying for that bestseller - then we can have a proper pool...
Great talking to you last night, Wendy! Fingers crossed all the wingdings (are they still called that?) come together and you can get to all of them!


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Monday, July 11, 2005

[sigh] Great. I now need two pairs of specs, one for sitting here and working, the other for watching TV. No, I'll rephrase that: I can watch TV just fine without them. What I can't do is read the subtitles of my anime without them - anime, of course, being my main diet of visual pleasures. [grumble] So I'm having my new, stronger working lenses fitted into my old, favourite frames, and getting a completely new (gun-metal grey and a bit smaller: they don't seem to carry the big big frames I prefer any more) pair for bishie-watching. In the meantime I'm on my backup pair, which slide down my nose in the most irritating fashion. The new ones will be ready on Friday though, so not too long to suffer!
Hands, arms and legs aching after yesterday, but it's a good ache mostly (well, OK, not the hands...), a kind of - hey look! Muscles! Getting stronger! - which can't be a bad thing.
Everything else proceeding well. And our new airing cupboard door is being fitted by our carpenter as I type. (We're also going to see if he can make us a new front gate, since the old one is a complete disgrace, and given that we've started trying to tidy up the front.)
Oooh! Remember those adorable little Sunsilk hairmonsters I wittered on about a while back? There's a Hairmonsters site now! No .mpgs of the cute little things yet, though - just a 'coming soon' flash to the 'fun and games' section. Hm. I hope they do put the shots on the site. I shall keep checking, just in case.
Back to it...


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Sunday, July 10, 2005

OK. Grass mown front and back, trimmed around half of the places the mower can't reach, one cherry tree removed (have vague idea of remodelling the front garden to be more of an easy care minimalist Zen-type space, with three large rocks and fine gravel groundcover, a small pond and a magnolia stellata. But we won't be able to afford it until next year at the earliest, and in the meantime the cherries have grown too big). Going to cut down another as well, during the summer holidays, and leave just one, judiciously pruned, in place.
Our big lilac - and all its suckers - is dying and we have no idea why. Need to think about replacing it: it provides a significant amount of privacy.
And we set up Kai's paddling pool. Well, when I say paddling pool, it's 6' by 4' by 2' (or maybe 2.5', I haven't measured it), which makes it great for sitting in to cool down on hot days. It has a deep end and a shallow end, too, given how un-level is our garden! Needless to say Kai is delighted and spent well over an hour sloshing around in it before dinner...
Got a little writing done, and managed to make time to draw one of the main charas for the WIP Alliance Chronicles (hereinafter 2AC). Rather to my surprise, given how long it's been since I've done any artwork at all, he came out quite well. My hands are sore and bruised from sawing branches and using secateurs (and I managed to rub a whackin' great blister at the base of my right hand index finger which I didn't even notice until the damn thing burst...) so I'm taking it very easy tonight and doing as little typing as necessary - I'm going to take a stab at drawing the second main character nagging me for a portrait and see how that goes.
Busy day tomorrow...


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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Kai's report was pretty much as I'd anticipated. It's split into Effort and Achievement, with separate marks for each ranging from excellent, through good, satisfactory, to unsatisfactory. Kai has satisfactory Achievement marks in RE, Music, PE, English writing, Maths and ICT: the rest - English reading, Science, History, Geography, Art and DT are all good in both categories, with an excellent in Science Effort.
Given how stressful this last year has been for us all, I'm very happy with his marks, and his teacher seems pleased too, commenting that he's made steady progress, producing work of a high standard when he concentrates (unfortunately he tends to chat! Yes, well, we know a song about that...). Group work is a bit of a problem as he gets frustrated when others don't accept his ideas but he's becoming 'more mature in his approach to dealing with this'. Report ends with a note that he's a pleasant and polite member of the class and had a pleasing year academically and socially, gaining respect from his peers for the depth and breadth of his knowledge.
Not bad at all, then!
Ken collected him this evening: they dropped into Phoenix and came home with Haunted Mansion (for Kai) and Shaun of the Dead (for us, but Kai ended up watching it too, based on the IMDb reviews and his own good sense when it comes to gory films...)
I missed Haunted Mansion (was having a much-needed sleep) but took time off to watch Shaun.
It's wonderful! Gloriously funny, perfectly English (in the same way The Calcium Kid is very English). Had us in stitches - though I think some of the humour was a bit beyond Kai, he still loved the (extremely well done) gory bits. And it's one of those films where you end up really caring about the characters - even if to start with they seem completely gormless and thick. Heartily recommended, as long as you don't mind a bit of blood. And I loved the ending!
In contrast, Black Hawk Down was on UKGold a couple of hours ago. Watched half of it then switched off - boring, and I couldn't engage with any of the characters.
Right - back to work.


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Friday, July 08, 2005

... aaaand the fridge engineer cometh (yes, they changed the appointment to this week. Does this mean we're favoured or just notorious?), told us the thermostat was set too high (meaning that the freezer didn't have time to do its frost-free thing before the motor cut in and started it freezing up again) - and turned it down from where the previous engineer (our usual one, the one we're almost on first name terms with by now) had set it when he told us that was right for our little kitchen and the appliance's position therein...
And if the flashing-amber-light happens again, he's recommended changing the sensor module.
Let's see. We got the replacement fridge-freezer last August. Since then, it's had a new fridge door, been completely regassed, had the doodah thingie that keeps the water channel open for the auto-defrost redone, and we now have the possibility of a replacement sensor module. Does this sound reasonable for what was supposed to be an expensive new appliance? No, we don't think so either.
Waiting to hear from Trading Standards.
A few days ago I ordered a credit check with experian. It's something we do every couple of years, just to check all's well. Strictly speaking we wouldn't normally have done it until next year, but just recently we've been getting the phone bills for some pig-ignorant little bastard who thought it was funny to give our address as his own, and I wanted to check that there was nothing suspicious on our credit records. There isn't - with experian, at any rate. I should really check the other two UK agencies: it's only £2 per report and you can order online these days. Heh, maybe next week...
We've been sending the bills back, pointing out this fraudulent little jerk doesn't live here, but the message obviously hadn't got through to the billing company - the last bill threatened referral to a debt collection agency (no I didn't open it, that's illegal, but peering down the side of the envelope window I could see some of the words). So back it went, with a proper letter this time, and we've referred the matter to the police. [sigh] Was there ever a time when my life was easy? Luckily this sort of fraud is so common these days there are a variety of safeguards in place to protect the innocent...
On a more positive note, I've finally made an appointment to get my eyes checked next Monday (should have done it back in March but I've been a bit busy...) Pretty sure I need new work glasses: by the time I close down these days (er, nights) my eyes are stinging and watering quite painfully.
Kai gets this year's school report today - that'll be interesting! And the new John Cabot prospectus and application form has arrived: will get that completed and off to them over the weekend. Still need to find him some IQ tests to have fun with, must remember to search after I've posted this.
... you know, sometimes it's a miracle I ever find the time to get any of my own work done. Just as well I don't need (much) sleep...
Have now heard from the two London friends, who are fine, so that's one less stress-item on the list.
Back to it - if I can remember what 'it' I was actually doing...


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One of the main problems with commenting about anything before the full facts are known is that you run the risk of down-playing the circumstances - which is exactly what has happened here. I've just spent a little time reading the updates on the London situation, especially the emailed comments and messages of sympathy (the ones from the real people, not the so-called 'heads of state'), and it hurts. That so many people can have their lives devastated in an instant is truly dreadful: my heart aches particularly for the children whose parents have been injured or lost.
I can understand the fanatical mentality that sees such so-called religious acts as godly, but that doesn't stop me deeply hating them, and the people who perpetrate them - on any scale.
There's a ripple effect in operation: we've had an email (as part of the Neighbourhood Watch) to advise that the police are mounting increased patrols in Briz, at shopping centres, stations and the airports, and I've no doubt that the same is happening in the other major cities throughout the UK. It won't stop us carrying on as normal though. Nothing ever has - it's part of the British character to drag ourselves up, grit our teeth, and reclaim our lives. (We leave the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth to weaker peoples.) Though I wouldn't be a mum if I didn't worry for and about Kai...

... still waiting to hear from a couple of London-living friends...


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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Well, I'm 180-odd miles away from London, so anything I say can only be in the abstract, but over and above the anger, I'm fuming over the comments I've read on the BBC site...
The last thing I want to do is denigrate the grief of those who are suffering or the tragedy of those who've died, but the whole thing seems odd for a 'terrorist attack'. There's the timing - 10 to 9, the tail end of the rush hour, when most people are already at work. The latest newsflash says that the Underground is mostly in operation again, and while I'd like to think that's due to the high quality of British workmanship, it sounds more as though there wasn't too much damage done in the first place. It could have been so very much worse. I can't help but wonder why it wasn't. No doubt there'll be more news later.
But what's really pissed me off is this (quote from aforementioned BBC site)
   The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taking place in London and what's taking place here [at G8 summit] is incredibly vivid to me.    On the one hand you've got people here who are working to alleviate poverty and to help rid the world of the pandemic of Aids. They're working on ways to have a clean environment and on the other hand you have people killing innocent people.    The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty and those who kill.
Bush, of course. You know, the arrogant, lying bastard who started the illegal war and left all of us open to attack. (And yes, I'm not ignoring the UK's contribution. I feel almost as much loathing for lapdog Blair. But he didn't actually start it.) As Lutra said on ICQ when she read that last paragraph -
f***ing what??! Does he even realise the hypocrisy? Bush & admin only care about human rights when they're not being caught abusing them.
And you note he says 'people here' and 'they' - not 'we' - in that middle paragraph. He's made it abundantly clear he doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything except power, oil and his cronies in the administration.
Interestingly, the only nation to actually offer any concrete help - as opposed to complacent condolences and prayers (prayers, hah! Haven't they noticed that religion is being used as an excuse/motivation in this whole bloody mess?) - are the French.
The French government places itself at the disposal of British authorities to bring them our assistance and our co-operation. (Dominique de Villepin)
I'm not much of a francophile, but that impressed me.


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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It's been quite a satisfying day so far - I've cleared everything business-wise I had outstanding, sorted out a couple of domestic hassles (well, set the cures in motion, anyway), my photoshoot expenses cheque arrived (always nice to get money in the post!) and I received an email updating us on the Dreams book project.
It's all positive so far: I need to prepare an outline and some text samples prior to getting the contract (standard practice, that. No relying on previous successes in this business!). These will probably be used for the blad for the Frankfurt Bookfair in October, so they need to be good. I don't have a lot of wordage to play with (the proposed length is 60,000 words, the spreads to be about 350 words each: going to have to be very succinct again) but that's always an enjoyable challenge!
Updates as they happen.


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

[head -> hands] Oh here we go again...
Fridge-freezer. Temperature in freezer now down to -29 degrees and falling. Amber light flashing every day or so. Engineer can't come 'til next Tuesday. Guarantee runs out next month. Complaint emailed to Trading Standards. Hoover-Candy and their shoddy excuses for products cursed to the lowest circle of hfil.
Insult to injury, it didn't help that we got a flyer from FarmFoods shoved through the door with a happy smiling shopper on the front and the legend, "The fridge is your friend!" [growl] Not in this house it ain't...
Special Delivery arrived with the half-dozen items I had to leave behind (because there wasn't time to photograph them on the day) at the photoshoot, everything fine except for the pair of jade chopsticks - which broke in the post. [sigh] The two pairs were presents to Ken and myself on our third anniversary, so this is not exactly cause for celebration. L was very apologetic, and of course the publisher will pay for the replacement - but finding a pair might be difficult, the place they came from no longer sells them. (There are some absolute beauties, with matching jade turtle- or carp-shaped stands, on ebay, but the postage on them - from China - varies between £14 and £35, plus insurance. Which probably explains why no-one is bidding for them...)
Will have to hunt when I'm in town, and check when I take Kai through to Bath (promised him a trip to hunt the second-hand shops and antique market for clocks, pointing out that if he buys the tacky one in St Pete's Hospice he won't have any money to take with him. It seems to have worked: at least, he hasn't said any more about wanting to buy it. Ken agrees with me that it's a ripoff, by the way, the quality is very poor.)
And it's drizzling, a constant fine drenching rain. Soggy moggies, little wet muddy pawprints all over everything (literally as Raptor doesn't much like the rain, even though she will go out in it, and demands to be cuddled when she comes back in. I had her lying across my shoulders twenty minutes ago. bleurgh. Wet neck.) And I can't borrow Ken's Great Big Brolly™ because he needs it, so I shall have to wear [shudder] the dreaded pumpkin when I go to pick up sprog...


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Monday, July 04, 2005

Talk about being sidetracked! I only went to IMDb for find out about this guy, who was in Elektra and piqued my interest (he is rather gorgeous...), and in the process found myself here. And I couldn't get away. It's hysterical. I've just spent about three hours scouring the site, cackling manically the whole time... Go take a look - but make sure you have time to spare.
On the subject of Will Yun Lee, Lutra suggested him to play live-action Vejiita, and I think she's absolutely right.
I am now going to try to get some work done.


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Sunday, July 03, 2005

[bemused] What a very odd sequence of dreams...
Kept swapping between being in the dream, in the minds of the people in the dream, and watching the whole thing from outside. The first featured a character whose perception of reality was distinctly skewed: possibly autistic? He was about mid-thirties, I think, and always rode a bicycle, had no connection to any other person, just the things in his head. Which actually made for a vibrant existence - for a while I was in his mind, seeing through his eyes. Objects were simplified, looking almost child-like; all the colours were bright clear pastels. And he perceived his life as an endless cycle ride, through fields, through seas (an oddly Oriental scene, with koi in the water and a swan on the surface), through the sky at one point. It felt like being constantly on the verge of freewheeling down a hill so steep it simply seemed to drop away when you stood at the top - like being always at the top of a high roller-coaster. It also never ended: I got the impression of a wheel, like a hamster wheel but the bike was on the outside, not the inside. Does that make sense? It was alarming and exhilarating at the same time.
Then he suddenly lost his personal reality, and found himself in the grey world.
At that point I switched viewpoints and was outside watching as he struggled - unsuccessfully - to cope with 'real life'. (I wasn't the only person watching, but more on that in a moment.) He was still on the bike, but now it was fixed to a treadwheel while the scenery went past behind him as he searched for his life. (He eventually regained it, though I'm not sure how, but his hold on his own reality would be tentative ever after, with a constant risk of falling back into the 'real world'...)
There was a small audience watching the fixed-bike-moving-scenery section (I know there's a term for that but I can't remember what it is... diorama is the word that springs to mind but that's something else.) The people beside me were a dwarf (as in a person suffering from dwarfism, not as in Gimli) with a mild degree of Down's Syndrome (I perceived it as Down's since that's the condition I'm most familiar with because of my brother) and his friend. Friend here meaning person who shared his life and apparently bed, given what they were doing. I couldn't tell whether this person was male or female, but s/he was behind the dwarf, nuzzling his neck then moving onto his ear. Then s/he said, "I'd pay for the plastic surgery, you know." The dwarf frowned and said "For what?". Person answered, "To make your ears smaller and neater. Not that I mind big, sticking out ears. I mean, look at Desdamona..."
At which point the scene in front of us changed to what looked like a sort of porn film (from inside his/her head I assumed) suspended in mid-air, with a female 'demon' - oiled red skin, backward swept horns, fangs, short black and red hair, large pointed ears and very big breasts (with an odd patch of wrinkled brown skin on the underside of each) - straddling a prone figure surrounded and half-covered with furs. The demon was stroking herself, head back and eyes closed. The image faded after a moment, changing to the outside of a mobile dressing room, and a second or two later the door opened and the demon - Desdamona - came out. Offscreen she had much smaller, rounded ears and an almost boyish figure, though the horns, fangs and red skin were hers. She was dressed in black and red leather. She gave the dwarf and his friend a cheeky grin and said "What, you think I look like that in real life? You want to know the truth, ask Anne." (Anne was her girlfriend and had been the figure below her in the film. No idea how I knew that!)
At this point I woke. Perhaps fortunately. And I must state here that I accept no responsibility for the things my mind comes up with! Well, unless I can use them in a story, that is...
Kai saw a very ugly clock in St Pete's Hospice shop window, £20 (which I think is a rip off). He wants to buy it though, and has done some work for me over the weekend in order to get the cash (we have an agreement that I'll pay him for dusting his room. It suits us both: he's happy to earn the money, and I don't have to shift all his stuff around to get underneath - and knock things off shelves, which is what happened last time. Not to mention that I absolutely loathe housework...) Ken's off to take back the DVDs - his back has improved greatly with the time off he's had and he's now trying gentle walks to get back to normal - and Kai's going with him to see if the clock is still in the shop window. Would it be terribly mean of me to say I hope it's been sold? It's similar to one he already has, and for the price he could get something much better, I'm sure...
[sigh] Pollen count must be high today - I'm sneezing like nobody's business. Time for some more honey, perhaps.


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Been a bit of a film-fest this last 24 hours: as well as AvP going cheap Tesco also had Predator and Predator 2 in one box (but on two DVDs) for £5.97. £2.98 per film? How could I resist? So we've watched all that lot (Kai got bored and went up to read after Predator, which was just as well as 2 is perhaps a bit too adult for him...), and the two films we rented - Elektra (didn't manage to make time to see it last time I took it out), which I rather enjoyed even though it's hardly a great film, and White Noise, which I found genuinely scary in a nasty way. Kai's going to object, I know, but there's no way he's seeing that one before it goes back!
And I've still managed to assemble all my archived docs and notes for the AC. Not bad, all told.
Back to it.


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Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's been a hell of a week, so I took the night off and worked on the notes/plans for the revised AC.
Between us, Lutra and I have resolved most of the overt problems - the major one of which, of course, is altering the characters so they aren't recognisably DBZ. Though since I gave them my own spin in the first place this isn't too hard... We've changed their physical appearance a tad - in a rather nice way, I think - and are currently working through the powers: can't use ki, which is a bit of a handicap. Challenge, I mean challenge, of course. I've ripped through the majority of the names, too, settling on a naming trend Lutra mooted after seeing my first few suggestions that works nicely, and the ideas are bubbling for replacing all the Japanese terms and phrases with new and linguistically logical ones. [happy grin] I'm in one of my primary elements here!
I'm keeping the R'ren'nkh'ian nameforms as they are, plus the language, since that was original anyway. The home planetary system can stay the same, though obviously its name has changed. We're still pondering the history...
It would be nice to have something re-written to take with me when I eventually get to see possible agents - always good to have more than one project on the go, it shows both dedication and versatility. Though it would be really ironic if the Chronicles got snapped up before Haadri...
Heh, maybe ought to think about getting to bed.
I've thought. I'm sure another hour or so won't hurt...


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Friday, July 01, 2005

... what day is it? What century? And which planet...?
[bemused] Sitting eating dinner (pork chop, mixed veg, couscous with lemon and coriander) last night, half watching the 6pm news... um, no, that's what we should have been watching, but sprog wanted Teen Titans so we had that on instead... where was I? Oh yes... I suddenly, and with a fair old surge of alarm, realised that I (or more specifically my chop) was the subject of intense scrutiny. Ryme was curled up beside me on the sofa, eyes fixed on the meat; Quyn sat in front of me, grinning hopefully, with Raptor unblinking beside him, Argent was on the arm of the sofa peering over my shoulder - even the Tetra of Immortality was staring. And Rosa was prowling up and down the room-ward side of her tank as well. I tell you, for a moment there I thought I was in a Hitchcock film...
The AC Gallery is finished - almost, I've managed to miss one animation, need to add that later (woke up with a pounding headache that's so far resisted four 'prufens and I'd rather wait 'til it goes before I try playing around with Mindworks). I'm quite pleased with it though - and the Giftart pages are fun. Any non-(other)Zone members who'd like a look, just drop me an email.
And in other newsie-type bits...
    Kai continues to have a happier time at school, and is finding it far easier to deal with the inevitable little hassles. Such a relief! (Though he was off school with another stomach upset yesterday. He seems to be particularly susceptible to them, and I'm not sure what I can do to help other than keep up the hygiene agenda.)     Picked up a copy of the AvP DVD at Tesco (£5.97, cheapest I've seen it anywhere), so that can be crossed off the list.     And to my delight I've found an mp3 of the theme to NightWalker - a piece of music I fell in love with the first time I watched the anime - which has now been added to Nappa.     Today's Sane Scientist blogpost had me chuckling. Sounds oddly familiar...     Most significantly of all, Ken finished the pegilated interferon and ribavirin course yesterday. It'll be a few months before he feels completely back to normal, but it's done, finished, over. [grin] Now we just have to try to remember what normal actually is, for us...
(And David too.)
Heh, back to work!


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