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.
Friday, September 30, 2005
... so we arrived home, did Kai's homework (sp'lings, times tables and reading: he's nearly finished The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), had dinner, then switched on the TV.
Message flashed up, on all channels: 'Channel unavailable. Please try another channel or try again later'. Well, it happens sometimes. We watched the ID4 DVD instead, then tried the TV again. Same message, with added bit - 'If problem persists, please ring...' etc with a code to quote. So I did.
Spent twenty minutes on the phone with one of TeleWest's staff, up and down like a yoyo switching black box off and on and unplugging/replugging scart leads, but nothing worked, so eventually he booked an appointment for a technician to call - on Monday. Erk. Earliest slot they had, unless there was a cancellation, he said very apologetically.
It's not as bad as it sounds, TV programmes over the weekend are usually crap (we came to the conclusion that the people who organise the timetables assume that the people who aren't out partying all weekend are probably tucked up in bed with their Horlicks, and schedule accordingly...) And I watched this week's Spooks last week - there's a preview showing of next week's ep on BBC3 on Thursday half an hour after this week's ep on BBC1. If that makes sense. (I was a little annoyed to miss last night's two hour's worth of Green Day specials on MTV2 but they'll probably be repeated.)
However, this morning I had a call from TeleWest saying they have a tech in the area this evening, between 4 and 7 - would someone be here? You bet! So hopefully we'll have the service back tonight: there's a Hindi film on Channel 4 early tomorrow morning I wouldn't mind seeing.
Bratling had me in stitches the other evening - talking to Ken on the phone, Kai asked him what time it was where he was...
Dreams is trundling along. Now at 10,000 words: hoping to hit 20% by Monday.
Back to it.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
OK, I am now officially stunned.
Two of my Saint Germain books arrived in the post this morning, In the Face of Death (actually a Madelaine de Montalia story) and Better in the Dark (it was my second attempt at obtaining this latter: the first order I put through the book was unavailable - sold before my order reached the seller, I assume). In the Face of Death was sent from Cirencester, and has taken fifteen days to reach me - not bad under the circumstances. But Better in the Dark was ordered on the 15th September from BookCloseOuts in Lewiston, NY, sent from their Ontario branch, and reached me in just fourteen days, despite an estimated shipping speed of 21-36 days. That's faster than Amazon.co.uk: none of that order's arrived yet.
This is the bookmark/money off voucher that came with the book! ->
Damned efficient, these Canadians!
There's no form for feedback on ABEbooks, but there is an 'ask the bookseller a question' button: I'm sure I'd be forgiven for using that to say thanks.
OK - Quyn fed, kits fed, Rosa fed and watered, fish fed, inside and outside (yes, the Tetra of Immortality is still alive). And red Thai chicken curry with jasmine rice for me for brunch. [looks at backwards clock] Yeah, OK, for breakfast. And Green Day's Holiday on MTV2 (love that song. Not so sure about the video though...) Nice way to start.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I have to admit, not having to go all the way to school with Kai gives me an extra forty minutes in my day, which is very useful. That being said, I'm having one of those days of clearing up all the little bits and pieces I've been putting off - like making business phone calls. Be good if I can write up the reviews of the two books I've finished so far this month (Thief of Lives, the sequel to Dhampir and a terrific read, and a very strange book of cartoons called Dr Tim by Christopher Varian, of whom I have never heard) as well.
Everything trundles along...
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Ack. Daylight. It burns...
Kai's couple of friends caught up with us near the bottom of the road this morning, and since yesterday's walk to school was a success I left them to walk the whole way. We're aiming to arrange reciprocal after school visits - they live almost literally around the corner, on the Bath Rd - hopefully next week. The sprogs are into trains and have several sets, their foster-dad tells me: Kai's itching to get round there and have a look!
Ken's rung a couple of times: things seem to be going well and he's recorded several interviews so far.
But me - I am well miffed. Had a sudden urge to read some X-Men slash (X-Men Evolution, actually - there's a fair bit on AFF, some of it not too badly written and IC. And no, this wasn't while I was supposed to be working), and it occurred to me to check the state of the third X-Men film. So off I toddled to the IMDb...
NOOOOOOOOO!!! Nightcrawler's not listed in the credits!!
[growl] My favourite character. So much potential. How could they? No, no good, not even the presence of the Angel makes up for that.
... better get some Dreams done...
Monday, September 26, 2005
Right, where was I? Oh yes...
Ken left 11.45 yesterday (after a steak/mushroom/potatoes/mixed veg meal. Kai thought it was great fun, having dinner for breakfast!) and I cleared the ground ready for this week - i.e. took care of some badly needed houseplant maintenance, made Kai's new organza inner curtains, and generally got us organized.
Had an early night (2 am) and was up early (7.30) to take Kai into school (though he met up with a couple of friends and - with considerable trepidation - I left them all half-way to school to finish the walk by themselves. Got to be done, though it's nerve-wracking to start with...) Now poised to take a large chunk out of Dreams. I'm just over 10% done - not as far along as I'd hoped, but what the hell, given how manic last week was I've not done too badly. 2AC (and any other fiction) will have to wait until the weekend, however.
Tired. I don't do mornings. Might even need a coffee...
Sunday, September 25, 2005
And the pic of (naked, human) Bruce is now posted in Stranger.
[sigh] I can't draw mist.
Well, I probably could if I sat down and studied it, or looked at samples of other people's methods of doing mist, but I don't have the time.
So I've decided, for the story illustration, I'll draw his human incarnation (i.e. with legs. [grin] And all the other lower body bits...)
This is pretty rough and decidedly unfinished, but please meet Bruce, Lutra's newest gremlin. Yes, he's a djinn. Most of the time his lower body is a gold-sparkling blue mist. He dances, plays the flute, gives fabulous massages (and other things), and smells of roses.
Butch is completely hooked, the
[shakes head] What puzzles me is why so many of the male gremlins have such amazingly innapropriate names. I mean, look at them. Butch is anything but, and what sort of name is Bruce for a djinn? And Murphy? I mean, Murphy?? [shakes head again] Ah well, at least Ayzur is an apt name for Thorne's merform gremlin...
I suppose I'll have to draw Melkior at some point.
Right. Off to draw legs. And feet and ankles, and groin...
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Photo of the little ceramic fox, with the usual apologies for the quality of Kai's digicam closeups.
Odd day. Ken took Kai out to a model railway exhibition at Westbury on Trym. I don't think I've mentioned he's recently become interested in model trains, have I? [sigh] I've been trying to dissuade him: not only is it a very expensive hobby, but we just don't have the room for a proper layout. However, they arrived back with enough track to make a circle, with a couple of straight sections with points, one long carriage and three small bogies (well, Kai called them bogies anyway) - Ken says the sellers all dropped their prices for Kai. Still came to [wince] £15 though.
While they were out, I finished Butch's new story, and got him and Lutra's new gremlin, Bruce, together (and very pretty they looked too!) The story is now posted in the DarkSide on the WaveWrights' site, for those of you who have passwords. (If you have any problems reading it, please email me to say, letting me know which browser you're using. I've coded for an inner box in CSS and I'm not sure all browsers display it properly.) I read the first Gremlins story aloud to Kai (editing out the expletives) and he loved it, chortled all the way through. Liked the illustrations too - even Murphy! (Though I really should try to make the time to re-do Carli, the animation's not good.)
There's also a terrific new Professionals story by Carol posted on my own site. More details over on the Updates Blog.
Ken's all packed for tomorrow. We've had to invest in a digital voice recorder - nifty little thing - so he can record interviews with the people he's going to see. I may have a play with it when he gets back. Might be fun to have a sample of my voice online!
Right - going to have a stab at drawing Bruce, then probably get back to 2AC for a few hours...
Friday, September 23, 2005
[rolls eyes] And then I forgot to say that I tested all the computer drives earlier and they're working as they're supposed to!
Which is great. Though I'm not
This poor, hard-done-by, old computer will need upgrading at some point. Ken or Kai will then take it over (nothing gets wasted 'round here).
I confess I hope that day is a fair way off. I'm particularly attached to this machine, for all its faults, glitches and problems.
... not at all sure of Butch's response...
... %*$^in' buses...
[growl] Heartily sick of public transport whose departure/arrival times bear no relation to the timetable. And rude unhelpful drivers.
The timing was tight in the first place (no choice, unfortunately) but it would have worked had the bloody buses left on time. As it was we were seventeen minutes late getting to Speedwell Technology College and hence missed the first introductory talk (the second wasn't until 8.30, too late for us to stay). But I think we picked up enough to get a fair idea of what the school is like.
Um, 'a little disorganised' comes to mind as a descriptive phrase. The facilities themselves are somewhat lacking (and one of the classrooms had been set alight during the summer holidays, which didn't help). Yet everyone seemed cooperative, friendly and enthusiastic - especially the school's rock band, playing very loudly in the hall between talks! The standard of work seemed quite good too - and they have a sixth form (like John Cabot and Broadlands), which I think is a good thing: the disruption of changing schools after GCSE's can be a real pain.
That being said... They have no school bus, the place is run down and there's a large fire station next door. And if I remember rightly, their stats aren't too good either.
Kai's not too keen. He didn't dislike it as much as Bedminster Down - nor did I - but... I don't think he'd be happy there. Nor does he.
He wants to go to Broadlands - and I have to admit he was certainly at his happiest and most enthusiastic when we visited. It's a lovely environment and I'm sure he'd do really well - not to mention being an absolute credit to the school! (That being said, he does like John Cabot and I'm sure would be very happy to be offered a place.)
Still have Brislington School to check out in a couple of weeks time, and in the meantime I'll try to find out if their reputation for bullying still stands: if it does, it's out as a choice, of course. For now though, that's the lot for this week (just as well, I'm knackered). We'll all sit down and have a chat about the matter this weekend, before Ken goes down to Dartmouth: we don't need to get the application in until 14th October but it would be good to firm up opinions and impressions.
In other news... Dave next door tells me we have foxes again! (We used to have at least one that regularly visited the garden, from Arnos Vale Cemetery just down the road, I think, but they were all wiped out when mange swept across the city some years back.) Well, that would explain what Quyn gets agitated about every evening!
I'm delighted, I love foxes - beautiful, magical creatures. They've dug a hole under the fence behind my bay tree that we're going to leave open for them: rather have a regularly used run than lots of holes up and down the fence (not too worried this side but it makes a mess of Dave's lawn). Now we have the new covered compost bin in operation we may need to find a way to leave a little food out for them, if that's not too bad an idea - especially with winter coming on...
[thinks] Interesting. Just a little while ago I bought myself a small, dark brown ceramic fox from St Pete's Hospice shop in Sandy Park Rd - I had to, the wee thing has an almost desperate expression on its face and is so skinny all its ribs are showing. I had to give it a good home. And then the foxes came back...
Don't you just love synchronicity?
Thursday, September 22, 2005
'alf inched from A Contender but I'm sure it's on a lot of other blogs too.
Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:
[bemused] Well, that's the first time we've ever had to don fluorescent vests, heavy duty rubber gloves, protective glasses and hard hats to visit a school!
No, not really as bad as it sounds: Bedminster Down are having a brand spanking new school built next door to the old one (which went up in 1955 and was supposed to be temporary!), and those who wanted got a quick tour, but since it's still a bit of a building site we had to wear the safety gear to comply with H&S regs.
The new school is going to be wonderful, and will be ready to move into in April next year. However...
The school itself is fine, and the teaching seems fair (a heavy focus on getting the kids into jobs at the end, which is OK in itself, as long as everything else is covered as well) but... The first thing that put us off were the hordes of sprogs running riot as we waited for the introductory talk, their parents apparently unwilling or unable to control them. Then the intro talk, which should have started at 6 pm, was delayed for five minutes while more people arrived, and eventually started at 6.15 - not too good for a school that says it insists on punctuality and order.
Their stats aren't great, either. But most significantly, Kai spent the whole time with a vaguely worried look on his face, and later said he wasn't at all sure about the place: the difference between his reaction to Broadlands and here was striking, to put it mildly. We've crossed it off our list.
Getting there was a right trek, took 45 minutes, although we managed to time the buses so we got off the X39 at Temple Meads train station and almost immediately onto the 5.06 pm No. 52, which took us to within a five minute stroll of the school - but coming back... There are supposed to be two buses an hour after 7 pm, and I timed it so we'd get to the bus stop at 7.20 pm and have about 5 mins to wait.
45 minutes later we were still waiting. And it was dark and cold (Bedminster Down is about as high as you can get in Briz - fabulous view out over the valley to the Clifton Suspension Bridge - and a little on the draughty side). I'd taken a fleece for Kai, but only had jeans and a T-shirt for me.
Then when we finally got into town we missed the No 1, which goes every 20 mins after 7, by about 30 seconds.
[growl] Trekked to the usual stop, just off Bristol Bridge, and managed to pick up a 349 (actually more useful to us than a No 1 anyway) and eventually arrived home at just gone 9, tired and hungry (and cold, on my part, and I don't get cold that often.) What would we do without FirstDay bus tickets, eh?
All in all a bit of a disaster. Still, last long trip tomorrow. Heh, I shall be glad when this week ends.
Something I forgot to say about yesterday... I managed to leave the A-Z behind; when we got off the bus in Keynsham I wasn't quite sure how to get to Broadlands, knew the general direction but not the precise location. So I asked a woman who'd just got out of a car: she frowned in thought then turned back to the car to speak to the driver, who was her husband and promptly offered us a lift!
I'm not in the habit of accepting lifts from strangers, but on this occasion it felt OK, so we hopped in and were driven the scant half mile to Broadlands, then dropped off with the guy wishing Kai good luck on getting into the school! Lovely people. I didn't get their names, but wish them all the best.
What is it with the bloody crane flies this year?! Damn things are everywhere - just managed to squish the one that's kept hitting me in the face for the last hour (no, not squished on my face) and there are another two in the lounge...
Not done as much on Dreams as I intended, but these school open days are a right performance if you don't have a car. (Actually, as far as I'm concerned they'd be a performance even if I did have a car, I hate driving in Briz.) And just remembered I have to provide a couple of lines of biographical blurb for the book: have to get that done tomorrow.
Computer still seems fine. A drive and D drive now working as they should: will try backing up on the E drive a little later.
[glower] I shall now take a few minutes to hunt and squish the second of the crane flies, which has just discovered my room and thinks bouncing off my head is a fine game...
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
... what a day...
I'd volunteered to take Kai into school, as I had a Tesco shop to do on the way back. Would have been easier if I'd managed more than three hours sleep. Tried to nap when I got back but sleep was light and disturbed and worse than useless, since I woke up tireder than when I'd climbed into bed..
At 3.05 Sue (not the Sue but a LETS Sue, lovely lady) arrived to drive me up to SR to collect the computer... OK, my confidence is to some extent restored, they've swapped the drives back, reconnected the A drive, and waived all charges since, as they said, it was their fault. I'm assured they checked everything thoroughly, and burned both a music and data CD to check they both worked, which they've given to me, and which I really must take a gander at, tomorrow when I'm not so tired. I haven't tried burning anything yet, too frazzled, only just got the machine all reconnected and booted up (holding breath the whole time) and I haven't actually managed to get any work done today yet - no sooner got home than had to get dinner organised, eat, and dive out the door for the bus to Keynsham to check out Broadlands School...
Heh, us and a whole load of Kai's schoolmates! It really is a very popular school, and I was very favourably impressed: the facilities are good, the staff seem positive and friendly, and the students bright, polite, bouncy and enthusiastic (and noisy!). Kai thinks it's brilliant. I think he'd do very well there. But as with all the good schools, competition is fierce and priority is given to kids who live in the area, Keynsham's only a mile or three from us but comes under Bath and North Somerset LEA, not Bristol. Eh well - we'll put his name down and keep fingers tightly crossed (this is assuming he doesn't get into John Cabot, of course... gods, it's a nightmare worrying over whether we'll be able to get him into the place we want...)
We didn't get back until 9.30 - Kai nearly fell asleep on the bus, and I'm poggled too. And tomorrow's going to be even worse: Bedminster Down School is a 40 minute busride through the centre of Briz and out the other side...
So, tonight? (Did I hear someone mutter 'why not try an early night'? Hahabonk, a.k.a. me laughing my head off.) Need to do a little work, but at least I can do so comfortably now, with my ergonomic keyboard and eye-level screen. (And big fonts: the laptop screen resolution is set at 1024x740 (or whatever the hell the next one is up from my 800x600) and even increasing the text size didn't help all that much. But overall I like the laptop, and found the easiest way to use the little keyboard without too much strain. I will be very happy to use it occasionally, outdoors next summer.)
Then again, I did promise Butch a nice slashy story if he was good - and he has been very good - and Lutra tells me Bruce has been fluttering his eyelashes in Butch's direction...[beg]
Monday, September 19, 2005
Well, SR have rung to say the computer is fixed. I'd be a lot more pleased if I was convinced that what they say was wrong was actually the problem: apparently when they replaced the power unit fan they swapped the two drives around.
Um, what? If that was so, how the hell have I managed to back up for the last month?
Maybe I misunderstood what they said on the phone. Though if I didn't, then it's their fault and I shouldn't have to pay for them to correct their own mistake, should I? ... my confidence in them is somewhat shaken...
Ken's arranged a LETS lift for me to collect it around 3.15 tomorrow afternoon: we'll see what happens when I get there.
In the meantime Thunderbird is working very nicely, though it seems to have its quirks (it does not like checking for mail outside of the 10 minute automatic check I've set up, and it doesn't seem to like sending some emails either. [shakes head] Gremlins..) I rather like it. And despite the stress and horrible hollow feeling of the last few days I have managed to get a fair bit done, and should hit my target today.
And I solved the problem of the painful neck by lowering my chair - though now the laptop keyboard is too high to be comfortable for my hands. Heh, if it's not one thing it's another...
But I solved the blogger spell-checker problem - had to allow blogger site popups, of course.
Back to it. Another 400 words and I can play with 2AC for an hour or so...
... well, I'm here, but on the laptop...
Carol arrived Saturday afternoon; we drove up to SR almost immediately, where I launched into a long description of what had gone wrong... Long story short, they think Windows might be broken - and if that's the case, the machine may need a complete reformat... [whimper] Three year's worth of work/files/programmes/customisation gone... Days worth of work reinstalling/reloading from back-up/recustomising, and that's if i can actually find everything... I could cry...
And it may not be 'til Tuesday that I find out - although we know they started looking at it around 4pm today: I suddenly got an ICQ message flash up that my ICQ account was being used on another computer, and I have it set to load on bootup on the pc. Keeping fingers very tightly crossed that it's not that severe a problem.
Ken's wondering if when the heat sink fell off the motherboard it might have caused more damage than we knew. Which is possible, I suppose, but probably academic at this stage.
Anyway... Carol's got the broadband working on the laptop, and I've installed ftp and Thunderbird (although at the moment nothing's working: their service status page says BY are having national broadband problems so I hope it's that. It downloaded everything perfectly happily first thing this am... Will see what happens in the morning. My main accounts I can manage: ClaraNET has webmail - but Supanames, and hence all my client accounts, doesn't) and kicked into action the various security padlocks and moats, so at least I have online access. (I've also bought a mini-mouse so we don't have to struggle with the touchpad any more.)
But I hate this keyboard. It's too small, and I can feel my hands and arms starting to hurt already, and that's without the headache and sore neck. I can probably manage for a few days - no, I'll rephrase that, I have no choice but to manage - as long as I don't try to work too quickly and take plenty of breaks, but as a long-term alternative it's a no-no. [sigh] A new computer might be on the cards (not that we can afford one right now, but I can't do without it.)
Over and above that it was a great weekend [GLOMPS Carol] And it was fantastic to see some early Spooks again - not to mention Shrek 2!
Here's the four-legged family (taken by Carol, as I'm too frazzled to try installing the software for Kai's digicam on the laptop right now.)
Oh great. The laptop isn't opening the blogger spell-checker. (It doesn't have Flash, either: I can't see Sublunary. Will have a look at that tomorrow...)
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Thursday night/Friday's weather was deliciously blissful, bright sunshine with a cold North wind blowing. I've been cool and comfortable for the first time in bloody months! (Yes, OK, there was no sunshine Thursday night. There was, however, a strong cold breeze blowing through the wide open bedroom window...) [shakes head] I'm either turning Eskimo or Saiyan - and I know which I'd prefer...
[poggled] Nevertheless I am afflicted with fleeing haddock again. Where'd Friday go? Thursday too, for that matter...?
A lot of it I've been working on Dreams. I reckon I can average 1,200 words a day (managed 1,500 Thursday, 1,000 Friday, without any noticeable strain on my hands, so that seems a good target to aim for). At that rate I'd have the first draft finished in fifty days (which would be the first week of November) but that doesn't allow time off for
I also managed to get [gasp] two book reviews off, before this month's deadline... (ignore for a moment the fact that they should have been done three months ago...)
... I'm being haunted by squirrels. First there was the demonic squirrel at The Mousehole; then there was a decidedly squicky story featuring mutant squirrels I tripped over at AFF; then Kai tells me all about this long cartoon he has planned, featuring a squirrel with super powers. I tell you, I'll never look at squiggles the same way again!
Speaking of bratling... Any other mums reading this have sprogs that do sound effects while they're speaking? Kai rolls out a 'dun dun DUN' prior to making an announcement, and sings 'Alleluia!' (from the Alleluia Chorus) when I agree to let him do something he wants. [bemused] It's quite cute actually...
Carol is visiting tomorrow, to drive me up to SR then help me get the computer functioning properly again. [GLOMPS Carol] And to have a break, of course. (I'm making my (in)famous Duck à l'orange and have bought lots and lots of strawberries for pudden...) I'm hoping SR can sort out the software (and hopefully fix the A drive) while we wait, but we'll see.
The next few weeks will be manic. I have the school visits with Kai next week (three of them, anyway): the week after Ken's in Dartmouth, and that weekend Ruth, Jun and Yumi are coming over. Week after again is another school visit, and the boiler has to be serviced to make sure our insurance stays current. Heh. I need a 48 hour day. Might even have time to sleep then!
At the moment I'm working on 2AC - needed a break for an hour or so. It's coming along very nicely, as is Lutra's SFSG, which is a wonderful read!
If I disappear for a day or so, you'll know the computer problems were more severe than anticipated...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
... so I comes down to find Ken on my computer, emailing, and I sez to 'im, I sez,
"I found this great Chelsey Quinn Yarbro bibliography site last night, with all the St Germain books I'm missing and where you can get them..."
Long story short: I have three on order from Amazon.co.uk (free delivery over £19); six on order from ABEbooks (could hardly believe that - I bought my rare SG books from them over ten years ago and my ABE account is still active!) at dirt cheap prices, though they're going to take a while a while to arrive, three of them are on order from the US; and Lutra's put in a bid for me for the other three on ebay (for a trade of either UK Hardback HP books or possibly the Wraeththu photobook, if we can find a copy). Yes, I know, that's twelve, not thirteen, but it's possible I might get the latest one to review for Crowsnest. [blink] No, I don't do things by halves, why do you ask?
[bemused] The Dreams book contract arrived this morning: there's one clause I'm querying, so I can't sign it just yet. But I loved this (my emphasis)...
... capable of being assigned by the Author together with any and all renewals, reversions and extensions throughout the world and the universe which take effect during the terms of this Agreement.Yes, it really does say 'throughout... the universe'. WHEEEEEE! I'm a universally recognised Author!
... wonder if they'll send me on intergalactic book-signing tours...?
[blink] Oooohhhh Kaaaayyyy... The goldfish were playing follow-the-leader around the pool earlier, swimming in a line, head to tail, equidistant from each other, with Ginger in the lead and Platinum at the end... that was - weird...
Odd day. I had trouble getting my brain in gear. Still, I should be able to get my review of Dark of the Sun written tonight. (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's 2004 St. Germain novel. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the St Germain series? There are to date twenty novels, of which I have seven, plus two of the three linked Olivia books and the side story Four Horses for Tishtry. [sigh] I have a lot of catching up to do...)
Kai had his first French lesson today. I greeted him at the school gate with "Bonjour mon fils!" - at which he hugged me tightly with a look of terror on his face. (I was later informed, indignantly, that he wasn't terrified, just tired.) They learned salutations - Bonjour, salut! ça va? Je m'appelle Kai - and the words for table, chair, pen and whiteboard, though he couldn't remember what they were and my suggestions apparently weren't helpful. (For some reason they weren't told/encouraged to write the words down...) However, later he bounced in from the garden with an enthusiastic "J'ai faim!" so obviously something sank in...
Ken spent a fair bit of the day mortaring: he's hoping to finish that section this year - that'll be a full two-thirds of the wall completed.
The second part of the first ep of Spooks. Wow. I wasn't at all sure the ending would be as it turned out, given the propensity for destruction evinced recently. Though I have to admit the lack of security running to help Adam and Zafar in the basement struck a wrong note. Apart from that, though... wow. I really like the way there are no credits, keeping the names as undercover as the operatives. I was particularly impressed with Anna Chancellor too - great to see her in such a strong role!
Next week's episode looks wonderfully controversial - can't wait!
From the riotously funny and very useful Hacker's Dictionary:
essentials n. Things necessary to maintain a productive and secure hacking environment. "A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, a 20-megahertz 80386 box with 8 meg of core and a 300-megabyte disk supporting full UNIX with source and X windows and EMACS and UUCP via a 'blazer to a friendly Internet site, and thou."[Lutra] Soooooo romantic. [Joules] Sooooooo true!
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Spooks, new series, first episode...
Ye gods, what a way to start! This is really powerful, and deeply disturbing - not least because there are times when I could very easily sympathise with the Shining Dawn's beliefs. Not their methods, no, never that - even if I can think of a few people who deserve it... No, actually, they don't deserve a quick death, they deserve to die slowly, bit by bit and in pain... Where was I? Oh yes.
And we have to wait 'til tomorrow to find out what happens.
This series is so very, very good. No guaranteed happy endings, edge-of-seat story-telling, grimly realistic (I believe, anyway) - this is what makes good British TV the best in the world.
Today's been hectic - more tweaks to the Crystals book and a fair bit done on the Dreams book. Quyn has new medication: apparently the Rimadyl has been withdrawn for now, not because of its side/effects but because it's so tasty to dogs that there've been cases of pets stealing their tablets and overdosing... [sigh]
Remember a few posts back (Monday 5th, and in the comments) I said, of Katrina: So the self-proclaimed wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet is asking for aid from the rest of us?... we really should make the giving of such aid dependent on America's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. After all, this is to some extent a self-inflicted disaster - and it's not like there wasn't any warning, unlike the Boxing Day tsunami. Everyone suffers the effects of global warming... I foresee two possible reactions to giving aid, though I don't discount others. Either America will take anything offered as its right, with its usual arrogance...?
Heh. Look what I found on the Bill O'Reilly site, (here, although I'm not suggesting you check it out: it made me want to spit.)
Factor Follow Up Segment What are other countries sending? Guest: Fox News analyst Tony Snow The State Department released a list of contributions sent or pledged by other nations. Leading the list are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which are offering oil, cash, and aid valued at $500 million and $255 million, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, Japan is sending just $1 million, while France, Germany, and Italy are contributing meager amounts of equipment. Fox News analyst Tony Snow explained the disparity. "You're going to see middle eastern oil states that feel they owe their security to us giving a lot of money. As for Europe, it's a reflection of the governments there. They're not as generous as we are, so I didn't expect to get a lot." The Factor ridiculed the paltry Japanese contribution. "Bangladesh sent a million dollars, and Japan did the same. The Prime Minister spends more on his hair. That's just insulting."Foreseen or not, I'm speechless. How dare he? How fucking DARE he?!
Monday, September 12, 2005
Another weekend comes and goes with hardly time to blow my nose. ........ Heh. No, I don't think I have the energy to make the whole post rhyme ('ooray! cries the reader quietly).
Actually, it was an unusually quiet weekend. I seem to have spent a fair bit of it unconscious (as in unable to stay awake) though I'm not sure I feel better for it. Ken took Kai up to Knowle on Saturday, to pick up some wood preservative (the window frames in Kai's room are becoming distinctly squidgy, and since we can't afford to have the windows replaced right now I'm going to have to hang out of the window and treat them - I don't mind heights but Ken does, hence I get the high jobs) and to check out the charity shops.
Kai came back with a typewriter. [sigh] Three pcs and a laptop in the house and he wants a typewriter... Still, I suppose it means we can still work if we lose electricity any time...
Sunday morning Dave next door drove us to Wyevale; he hasn't been successful in getting fish from friends, they're all too big, so he bought Kai three little 'uns. I took the opportunity to pick up the other plants I wanted and a (very heavy) bag of pebbles to fill the cracks between the stones around the pool.
Creative-wise I finished one Haadri short story and wrote another, a little break for me before buckling down to Dreams w.e.f. tomorrow morning.
Quyn to the vet tomorrow afternoon, for more Rimadyl. He's been off-colour over the weekend, warm dry nose and not wanting to do much, though still eating as ever so obviously not too ill. I'll get him checked.
I'm now officially the owner of Rosa the tarantula: although Kai doesn't want to lose her he accepts that he's useless at looking after her, I've been doing most of it for months. Pretty much as I expected would happen. Eh well, I'm used to spiders now.
And I really must make that doctor's appointment...
Friday, September 09, 2005
[tired. Getting too tired too often these days, will have to check with my doctor...] Last night went well: John Cabot is much as we remembered it if not better, and they've instituted the Cabot Competency Curriculum, whereby each student discovers their own learning style and uses it throughout the seven years of their schooling. I still think it's by far the best possible environment for Kai, but we need to let him see the other possibilities so he has something to compare it to.
[poggled] We've finished the Crystal book proof-reading and emailed the details off. Not the easiest of jobs, there were a number of corrections needed (not our errors; the result of the editing. And someone thought it was a good idea to add "totally" to my text. [snarl] Have I mentioned how much I loathe the misuse of the word? That was a rhetorical question, I know I have...) And Ken checked our contract: we were supposed to have 14 days for this part of the project, not the 3 we ended up with. However, it's done, although we anticipate further tweaks. Overall the book looks pretty good, lovely to look at, reader-friendly, and hopefully inspirational. And our main point remains undimmed - crystals are beautiful, bring light and loveliness to the home and to ourselves, are inspiring in their own right and make wonderful talismans, but by themselves they won't change either us or the world: the power to do that comes from within ourselves.
[bemused] I had an email - yesterday? day before? My haddock are fleeing again - asking me if I'd be willing to have advertising on my blog. I'd imagine quite a lot of bloggers are getting similar requests at the moment, given what an amazing phenomenon blogs are. And I gave it some serious thought - being able to choose, within limits, what I advertised was a definite hook. However, I couldn't find a list of participating companies on the website. I suspect most of them will be American, and the only American company I'd dream of supporting, at the moment, is Amazon.com (though I'd be equally fussy about which British companies I backed!) So for the moment I've declined. It's nice not to have to compromise...
Tch', forgot to say I was right about Kai's new shoes, though not quite in the way I expected: the inner soles fell to pieces in just two days' wear. Took them back after school on Wednesday and got a refund, which we immediately spent on a properly fitted pair of Hush Puppies (excellent make, and only £6 more, but they hadn't been there when we went searching last week...)
<rant>... um... I'm sure there was something I wanted to rant about, but I had a nap and now I've forgotten what it was. Heh, no doubt I'll remember if it was important.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
[GLOMPS Wendy] for my package today, a copy of "Weird Al" Yankovic's Running with Scissors [chortling - particular favourites are Germs, Your Horoscope for Today, and Truck Driving... this last had me in stitches...] and a gorgeous card. Thirty years of friendship. Fantastic!
The CD was particularly welcome, as a cheer-up: Kai brought home his secondary school application pack yesterday and we spent the morning agonising over the choices (in case he doesn't get into John Cabot or Broadlands). Looks like I'll be taking him to another three open days around Bristol: Bedminster Down School and Speedwell Technology College (both of them a fair distance from us and low on the league tables) and Brislington School (nearest to us, but a multi-discipline place with a very large number of students. It was very low on the table last year but has improved significantly since). Of course, all the highest rating schools are the private, fee-paying ones, well out of our range. Eh well - we'll see what happens.
Ryme can sleep anywhere. Here, she has her claws dug into Kai's floor cushion to stop herself sliding off. [shakes head] Yet earlier she glared at me until I moved everything off my sofa, then jumped up, turned round a couple of times, changed her mind, decided she didn't want to stay and jumped off again - curling up on Kai's bed to sleep instead. [sigh] I know. She's a cat. It's her job...
The Crystal Home colour proofs arrived today - a day late, thank you Royal Mail, that's a day less we have to get the work done. The book looks lovely though. I've managed to get a fair bit of the Dreams book done today as well, so altogether it's not been a bad day.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
[head in hands] I don't know how it happened, whether it was Ken or maybe Butch playing silly buggers, but somehow the software for my two CD drives is bollixed up. The D drive (DVD-ROM) now reads music CDs, but will only open data CDs (all my backups, in other words) from within Word: in Explorer it tells me there's no disc in the drive. And the E drive (CD (re)writer) now reads music discs (but not data), and when we try to burn a CD, the software opens the bloody D drive, goes through the motions of writing to/verifying the disc, but of course it's the read-only drive so nothing happens...
F$*%^&g terran technology...
Monday, September 05, 2005
"I'm not lurking, I'm dead..."
Well, perhaps not quite. I did manage an early night - then couldn't sleep. And the hill to school seemed incredibly long this morning.
Still, got everything done, banking, shopping and dentist. I needed a lower pre-molar filling replaced: while I was waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect I rang Ken to tell him I might be later than anticipated - and just as well I did, as he reminded me that a few years ago we'd made an executive decision to have any future fillings/replacement fillings done with composite (white, non-mercury) filling rather than amalgam... So I bit the bullet - well, bill actually - and asked to have a composite replacement.
It took considerably longer than an amalgam filling, but ye gods I'm dead chuffed with the result! It looks like I've got my original tooth back, instead of a shell of tooth around a whapping great lump of silvery metal. The anaesthetic is wearing off now (always uncomfortable), my gum feels a little sore where the metal thingie (can't find its name) that keeps the tooth isolated pressed in, and the injection site hurts, so can't tell whether it's been successful or not. (Later - it feels fine: I'm drinking very hot soup at the moment and it's not hurting any more, so the treatment seems to have solved the problem!)
Kai had a great day at school. They have a new ICT suite, specially built, and I gather the sprogs spent a lot of the day in it. This site had Kai and his partner enthralled - they discovered, via their respective post codes, that they live within minutes of each other (new friend lives on the Bath Road)... Hm. There's a free downloadable version...
Though perhaps not just yet. Remember Special Reserve fixed my computer? Well, the A drive hasn't worked since (no real problem, everything's burned to CD anyway these days), but other than that everything seemed to be fine. Until I tried to print an email last week, at which point we had the old printer problem again (high-pitched zzzzip noise then pages printing out just one line of enormous text). I know how to fix that (reinstall the driver), and afterwards the printer was fine. However, Ken's tried to burn a CD today - it verified successfully but when he tried to look at it on his computer it crashed the system: some of the files were OK but others seemed to be corrupted. So he burned another, with the same result. Then he needed to print out another email - the printer started playing up again. (I fixed it, but we'll have to see what happens when we boot up tomorrow.) Much more worrying is that now my D drive doesn't recognise that a CD has been inserted - music or data, it's just not seeing anything. Yet the 2AC backup rewriteable CD I burned last Friday opens just fine on Ken's computer...
I shall be very, very annoyed if he's infected my machine with anything. The last time I had this sort of problem he'd downloaded gifs from a site (can't remember now if it was Lycos or Tripod) which, I believe, carried some sort of virus with them and buggered up my system (I still can't use Word's search function. Reinstalling Office would probably fix that but I keep forgetting to do it).
Will see what happens tomorrow. For now, I still have the MIA site update to finish, then I'd better resign myself to several hours of scanning my system. Two and a half hours of AVG, forty-five minutes of Spybot S&D, another however-long-it-is of Ad-aware, Ewido, though I did a complete scan on Saturday (two and a half hours) so can probably get away with just a custom scan this time.
Note that the following refers to America the entity in general and the Bush misAdministration in particular, not to our American friends and family...
So the self-proclaimed wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet is asking for aid from the rest of us? Fine: over and above helping people in real distress it gives everyone a chance to show how generous and forgiving and compassionate they are. However, we really should make the giving of such aid dependent on America's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. After all, this is to some extent a self-inflicted disaster - and it's not like there wasn't any warning, unlike the Boxing Day tsunami. Everyone suffers the effects of global warming. What I find mildly ironic is that, if I've understood things correctly, America refused to sign because it was bad for American business - yet it would appear that the results of not signing, not acting responsibly, are even worse for business. Well, all businesses except the (re)construction industry. And that's without mentioning the tragic human cost.
I foresee two possible reactions to giving aid, though I don't discount others. Either America will take anything offered as its right, with its usual arrogance (we are, after all, talking about an entity that while spouting rhetoric about Democracy and Freedom invades countries to take control of their natural resources, that uses torture as a weapon, that is guilty of the very human rights abuses it so loudly opposes), or it will resent having to accept aid, and find ways to make those who've volunteered to help pay for the monumental ignominy...
Sunday, September 04, 2005
...mmmm... the smoke from the bonfire was wonderfully fragrant as the flames died down, a gorgeous musky, slightly sweet scent. Rosemary, definitely, but something else too, a perfume I can't quite identify.
Annoying, that. Although it's nice to have something mysterious in life.
I'm afraid of fire. It's not quite as bad a phobia as being in a small cramped place/underground, but it's still significant. I checked the bonfire at 4.45 am, on Saturday and it was still burning, primarily because the trunk from the dead lilac is still pretty much whole. Ken put that on the pyre as soon as the flames took hold: it's a very robust wood. (In fact it was still burning at 7 on Sunday morning: Ken had to put it out because of the smoke.)
Even with my fear of fire I have to admit to a fascination for it. The wood was glowing from within; there were golden salamander-flames dancing along the upper edges, not-quite-touching the burning wood itself, and small intense blue flames were licking in the interstices of branches. The rippling effect of the heat variations along the wood was hypnotically beautiful.
Perhaps I'm afraid of fire because I know how easily it could swallow me up.
To my surprise most of yesterday's aches and pains have gone (though not in my hands, unfortunately) - I suppose I must be getting used to the physical exercise. (Rather startled me to look in the mirror and realise I actually have visible bicep and tricep muscle now!) We're all ready for tomorrow: Kai's hair's pruned (bratling wriggled so much I managed to cut his fringe too short, dammit, but it doesn't look too bad), his name tags in, his orange peeled for his breaktime fruit (that's new - he's decided over the holiday that he likes them, so now we can alternate apples and oranges), rucksack sorted. He's quite excited, new class, new teacher - and I think he's had enough of the holiday, looking forward to getting back to school.
We've had a letter from John Cabot inviting us to the open day on Thursday 8th or Thursday 15th - I'll take Kai this Thursday, I think. He's excited about that as well. I love the way he's so enthusiastic about his school, his future - his life, in fact.
I'm taking him in to school tomorrow, then I'm off into town, then to the dentist for my appointment, then back to proof-read: going to have to miss the BCP meeting, no haddock to spare.
Oh dear. I become thoroughly non-PC when I'm tired... [from yesterday's ICQ with Lutra: me in green]
...too much to do. no energy. aching. need slaves....[sigh] Need to try for an early night. Perhaps after Jaws has finished. Heh, seen it umpteen times and it's still compulsive. "It's only an island if you look at it from the water."
Wonder if I can get anything done tonight...
Saturday, September 03, 2005
That was a tough day...
First photo is the top of the herb-rockery from the pool side, showing the honeysuckle-covered sage bush and my bay tree (by the fence). Not the tidiest part of the garden, as you can see.
Although as you can also see, from the second photo, it looks even worse from the house side!
Ken took a break from chopping down the lilac (which took most of the day) to fork over the herb-rockery slope for me; Kai and I raked, then went over it picking out the bindweed roots. Lots and lots of bindweed roots.
I hate bindweed.
But we were able to plant the lavender, rosemary and the two thymes - though they look decidedly lost at the moment! (You can only just make them out. The photo isn't too clear: it was gone six by then and the pool area is in shadow, while the background is still in full sunlight.) Planning to get back to Wyevale during the week to pick up a few more plants...
This is where we are at the moment.
I still have to jigsaw some more stones into the pattern, especially at the back, and the gaps need to be filled with plants (probably more of the silvery sedum, I really like that one!) but the bulk of this section is done now.
The little stone monument-thing is just for fun. We found three sparkly granite 'bricks' amongst the other stones - in the hardcore under the old path up the length of the garden, I think - and thought it would be a shame to waste them...
Ken and Kai are out at the bonfire. There's an awful lot to burn this time, and we didn't manage to prune the greengages and goat willow, so will have to do something else with those branches when we've get round to finishing up the pruning.
Which might take some time: we're both knackered, I ache everywhere except my head (and given I plan to have a fair amount of wine tonight that will probably change) and my hands are extremely painful. Going to have to take it easy for a couple of days - which is a nuisance as I have a major update to the MIA to do, and I also have to sew the name tags into Kai's new clothes tomorrow. Eh well, I'm sure I'll survive.
Not doing much tonight...
Friday, September 02, 2005
It was a successful day, though. Spent a lovely long time wandering around Wyevale, saw a lot of wantees but were very restrained. Ended up buying silver and gold thymes, a curry plant (helichrysum italica, Kai's choice, and so called because the leaves smell like curry powder!), little rosemary bush and English lavender (special, £2.99 each or £10 for four), two sedums (cape blanco, the most beautiful silvery succulent, and one that looks like this - without the words, obviously), and a saxifrage (like this) for the lawn-side edge of the pond (though in fact I ended up splitting the cape blanco and planting it in pockets between some of the rocks. Hopefully have a photo of the finished pool tomorrow.).
And for Roeg's Pool, we found a common rush (juncus effusus) and a water plantain (alisma plantago-aquatica) for the pool itself, and a blue bog iris (iris sibirica blue) for the boggy bit. Another special - the plants were £3.50 each or £10 for three. I think we're going to need another oxygenating plant for the deeper part of the pool, though.
We also bought two fish. Because you can't have a pool without them, really, and we don't know when/if Dave next door will be able to get us some. Kai chose and named them - two beautiful, intensely richly coloured goldfish, one all orange with a long tail, the other with silvery tail and fins. Their names, respectively - Ginger and Shortcake.
You expected something sensible? From this family?
Ginger spent some time chasing the water boatman that's appeared in the pool (I think it's a lesser water boatman, it seems to swim on its front rather than its back, but we're happy to see it anyway!), with Shortcake swimming behind him. Rather cute, actually. Heh, we have baby dragons with attitude.
Tomorrow will be busy as well: everything that needs pruning has to have the chop (planning the second bonfire for the evening - it's supposed to be wet on Sunday), and I want to plant the poolside succulents, finish placing the rocks, then have Ken clear the rockery for me to plant the herbs. This is all assuming I can move tomorrow, of course! (Aching from lugging bloody great rocks around. I really must stop doing it...)
Ken spent the day preparing the index for the Brislington Ghosts book - that's done now. The Dartmouth publisher emailed him: they've arranged for him to stay for free at one of the sites mentioned in the book - the haunted room in a rather posh hotel, rooms normally £155 a night - for the free publicity, when he goes down at the end of September. Nice, ne?
We should be getting the final proofs for the Crystals book on Monday: the publisher needs feedback by Friday at the very latest, though at this stage we can only have anything changed if it's absolutely essential (like spelling mistakes). It'll be great to see the final product!
And I've been asked not to say too much about the Dreams book until much closer to its publication date - so sorry, I can't post any details yet!
Right - back to work...
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Another day in the garden - one conifer, peony, pieris, sedum, fern and enchanter's nightshade transplanted, second cherry tree and ancient rosemary bush cut down, third cherry tree pruned to look a little more graceful. Dave next door thinks he might be able to get some fish for us from friends who have pools - I'd better read up on the care and feeding of
There are a few more stones around Roeg's Pool now, as well. I want to plant stonecrop along the lawn edge of the pool, and something small and creeping in the cracks between the rocks. Be interesting to see what's available.
Also planning to plant an English lavender where the rosemary bush was. I'm hoping the little rosemary plant in the front can be persuaded to grow properly at the back: will try transplanting it to the herb-rockery later. Or maybe in front of one of the concrete pillars supporting the fence; we're aiming to cover them up as much as possible while still leaving the fence free for repainting.
And our apple tree is looking lovely at the moment, now that Ken's cut off all the dying wood - so much so that we've given it a reprieve until next year. Fingers crossed (and a little sacrifice to Pomona) it survives - I really don't want to lose it if we can possibly help it.
Tomorrow Kai and I are off to Wyevale to get plants (unless a crisis happens!) Will try to take some photos later (today's aren't good enough to post).