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][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
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.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Friday, June 30, 2006
"Don't torture yourself - that's my job..."
This is just amazing. Though if you suffer badly from vertigo you might want to give it a miss...
Interesting. Kai is self-censoring: his favourite expletive is "Oh badger..."
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Quyn's appointment went well: we have a large bottle of the medication now and won't need to go back to the vet for six weeks. She's pleased that it seems to be working well (and Quyn's even managing to run after thrown balls in the garden now, which he was having trouble with just a short while ago. Though we don't push it: three throws is enough at a time...) and apparently the effects can be cumulative - he might be even more relieved as he gets used to it.
She cut his nails for me while I was there, too; now he can't manage walks they'd grown a little long. He wasn't impressed, and he'll have to have the fourth paw done when we go next, but they're tidier now.
Earlier on ICQ: I'd commented on the flying foxes at the Sanctuary (at Lutra's Pond) saying I think they're so cute and I'd like one...
[Lutra] "Flying foxes, squids, unicorns: you're not really into cuddly, are you?" [Joules] "You noticed?"Heh. Having trouble keeping eyes open, need a nap after dinner. Or possibly involuntarily before dinner if K&K don't hurry up...
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Another year, another dentist...
I need a filling. I'll rephrase that. I need a filling replaced. She thinks I might need to have the cap next to it replaced too: either my gum's receded even more or the cap has shifted out of true. [wince] I'll find out at the appointment in mid-July. Good news is as the one that needs filling is at the front, it'll automatically be done in the white ceramic; apparently this is now standard practice at the practise.
Had a hunt around the charity shops while I was up at Broadwalk, and picked up another three DVDs - I, Robot (£2.99) for Kai, and The Crow (an old favourite) and Die Hard (for a deliciously nasty Alan Rickman) for us, both two-disc special versions at £4.99 each. And now I have to stop spending money or I won't have anything for the holiday.
Speaking of which... GoodTwin, Kai has said he'd like to see Cars, so if it's still showing when we're over, would Adrian still like to go? And if possible and assuming it's still there, could we go back to that fantastic fabric shop in Southampton? I'm still looking for ice-blue 'silk' for the hall curtains, and have a hankering for something rich and exotic to make a new downie cover for us. And maybe a kimono jacket for me. And some stretchy fabric for tops. And possibly some towelling for Quyn's beds.
And I hope the first tooth extraction wasn't too traumatic. Sending 'fluences for a speedy recovery.
Back to Dedication, which is now at 14 pages and growing...
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Right, where was I?...
Yesterday was most notable for me defrosting cod fillets and assuming Kai would prefer a pizza: on finding there were three fillets in the pack, and sprog saying how nice the fish smelt as it was grilling, I asked if he'd like one. Yes please! he said, and wolfed it down. [bemused] OK, so it's best not to assume anything any more...
Knowing I had to get up at 6 am [shudder] I went to bed at 12, expecting to have problems getting to sleep even though I was tired. Would have been OK if Quyn hadn't started barking at 2 am, wanting to be let out - then again 10 minutes after Ken had let him back in... Still, dragged meself awake and got us down to the busstop in time to get the right bus (peak time FirstDay tickets) and everything went beautifully smoothly: my timing was great, all the buses on time, and we arrived at John Cabot nicely relaxed. Kai went into assembly with the rest of the new intake and I wandered off to explore.
Heh. There are lots and lots of second hand shops and specialist giftshops (of the 'New Age'-y sort I like but rarely purchase from, although today I found a handful of Yule presents and a gorgeous selenite worry-egg for Kai), and just one stop up the road is the Kingswood Shopping Centre, a small but useful mall. I picked up a terracotta plant pot for my aloe vera and a handful of cat and dog treats from the branch of Wilkinson's, and tried a chicken and ham pasty from a local bakery.
Found CD singles of Fat Les' Vindaloo (yes, I know, I have strange and eclectic tastes) and U2's Kiss Me Kill Me (please see previous parentheses) in Age Concern (and so they should be selling CDs like that!). Further up the road there was a quirky gift shop (can't remember the name but I will forever remember it as the shop in which I was subjected to a thoroughly bizarre conversation about Pamela Anderson's breasts by the - female - American owner...) with extremely cute winged mermaids (the wings are attached with Velcro so can be taken off): soft fabric tails - properly fish-shaped, none of this hidden legs nonsense - lovely ceramic torsos and movable arms, and pretty faces with long ringletted hair. I particularly liked the green tail/red hair combination, but at £9.99 they were too expensive for a spontaneous treat.
And then... (pause for drumroll) I found the teensy indoor market with the second-hand DVDs and books...
They had The Polar Express (which Kai loves and I can't stand) and Constantine (which is background brain candy) for £3.99 each. Well, they had a lot of other DVDs too, but those were the ones that caught my eye. Grabbed them and carried on looking: found a Gibson cyberpunk novel for me, then thought I'd check out the kids' books...
[big happy grin] Five Anthony Horowitz Alex Ryder books, £2.45 each (RRP £6.99). All of them except number five (Scorpia) which we'll have to buy separately, but we can live with that. So I put the DVDs back and grabbed the books instead. The elderly bloke at the counter grinned and commented along the lines 'you'd rather read than watch TV.', and I nodded and added the copy of The DaVinci Code to the tally (it was waiting to be put out on the shelves, hadn't even been priced yet: got it for £1.45...)
On leaving the place I rang Ken - who promptly said to go back and buy the DVDs anyway!
I arrived back at John Cabot 15 minutes before the sprogs were due out with aching legs - walked miles today - so so much for wondering what I was going to do for three hours!
And Kai? He came bombing out saying he'd had a fantastic time, really enjoyed it (except for the German class), has made some friends in his Tutor Group, and has some homework to do before the term starts (making a bookmark, an acrostic of his name)! They had English, then expressive arts, then break (with chocolate chip cookies and apple juice), then German then maths (which he particularly enjoyed). So worries over - looks like he's going to be absolutely fine.
Back into town, where I found a vase for my fabric cymbidium in a St Pete's Hospice charity shop. To date it's been sitting in a glass vase by the silver mirror, but I wanted it on the orchid shelf: the pale green looks much better against the dark green wall than the pale mirror wall. The vase is wooden and was made in Romania, according to the sticker on the bottom. It's not perfect, but it looks OK, and will cause a lot less damage than the glass vase if it gets knocked or blown off the shelf!
We arrived back around 2 pm, and are both knackered now. Ken's cooking my home-made beefburgers for dinner, then I'm having a nap so I can get some writing done tonight.
Oh - one of the goldfish, Ginger, Kai says, was still in the pond this afternoon. Floating dead on the surface, admittedly, but obviously not eaten by the heron. We're wondering now if any of the others have survived, lurking under the weed.
And à propos of nothing, I have a dentist appointment tomorrow, oh joy...
Sunday, June 25, 2006
[sigh] So there we were, ready to watch Strange, but unable to access the Sci-fi Channel. Well, all channels in fact. Usually switching the black box off then on again 30 seconds later at the wall solves the problem, but not this time. BY's service status page had no info, so I rang 150...
Heh. Bristol, Bath and Gloucester are all experiencing loss of TV (and broadband, the announcement says, so I'm keeping fingers tightly crossed my bb doesn't go down) due to damage to the fibre optic cable and the engineers are currently working on the problem. Briz, Bath and Glos? That's a huge area! Must be either major damage to a lot of cable, or minor damage to one absolutely vital one.
Actually, we aren't too bothered - Strange is a repeat (we saw the originals some years ago), we're not watching the football anyway, and have had the Matrix trilogy on this afternoon [Twins, sigh]. But I'll bet there are a lot of people tearing their hair out right now!
Busy week ahead. Kai's John Cabot taster is on Tuesday - which means getting up at 6 a.m. in order to make the 7.15 X39 in order to get to the college for 8.45 a.m. And if you think that's bad, we somehow have to sort out some routine for when he starts at the end of August, because his bus leaves the bottom of Talbot Hill at 7.32 every day... I'm debating just staying up all night and getting to bed after he's gone each morning...
Saturday, June 24, 2006
One of those busy-ish Saturdays. Ken took Kai down to the park to meet Matt and Tom while I started the proof of the SFSG rewrite: returned a couple of hours later and Ken mowed. We pottered a little: Ken watered the lupin seedlings (trying again, the first lot were eaten by slugs, dammit) and then called me out to see this, a drop of water caught in the centre of the tiny leaf looking like a diamond with the sun shining on it. So pretty.
Kai found a site selling Class 66 loco Trainz plugin software, and rustled together all his spare pocket money to buy it. [rolls eyes] You'd never believe the difficulty we had installing it. It came sans readme - sans any damned instructions - and resorting to the online forum wasn't a great deal of use either. Eventually we did manage to get it working, more by luck than judgment, but it was worth it: he's very happy with it.
I have a miniature rose that Ken bought me for Valentine's day a good few years ago now, and it's just produced a tiny perfect flower.
Do you know there's only 86 days to go until Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19th? This newsflash inspired by Ken being given a galleon instead of a 10 pence piece in his change...
Probably not the Black Pearl though.
Tired and hot. We're all planning a lie-in in the morning...
Friday, June 23, 2006
"Hide the rum."
[happy grin] Had a surprise in the post this morning - two library copies of the French edition of Crystal Power! I'd forgotten it was being translated. It's fun having a foreign edition I can actually read (we were given library copies of Clairvoyance in Portugese, but I can't read that!) As far as I can see from a quick skim, it's a very faithful translation too. Still pleased with that book, even though the disclaimer at the front isn't the one we wanted (and makes me wince...)
Had a letter from the folks too, back from Tenerife. My mother spent her birthday on a catamaran, watching pilot whales and dolphins playing - she loved it, "a magical and never-to-be-forgotten experience". Another afternoon they went to a mediæval tournament and feast. Sounds like they had a fantastic time, all told.
Still taking it easy. The hands have eased a little: I can type for a while without pain now, which is a relief to say the least. Might even manage to get some writing done tonight...
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Ken had his latest appointment with the BRI consultants this afternoon. No real news: he's back to six-monthly blood tests and maybe another liver biopsy [wince] if needed. It seems the medication, as well as actually destroying most of the virus, also slowed it down, and we could carry on for decades with no obvious problems. We know it will increase again, though... We'll just have to see what happens.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Happy Birthday Wendy!Hope you had a great day.
And me? Half way through another year and I've done sodall again...
Monday, June 19, 2006
... and the bonfire is still smouldering over 24 hours later...
Managed to get another voicemoves update done today, but the teno has flared up - in both hands, and the tendons are actually swollen - so I'm going to have to take it easy for a while. No idea how it happened - I've been careful not to lift or carry anything heavy just recently - but it's bloody painful.
Early night: going to treat myself and just read for an hour or two...
So... Underworld: Evolution? Pointless. Gory, pretty incomprehensible even if you have seen the first film, spasmodically predictable... Tedious, really. Eh well. We'll try Æon Flux next.
Does anyone know what these are? Since we planted the medlar they've appeared around this time each year, and usually we leave them alone. They're voracious and eat the leaves, which is a bit unsightly, but they don't seem to do any permanent damage. Up to now there's only ever been one little group, but this year the poor tree seems to be covered with them - we've found seven colonies so far and have now started pulling them off. I can't find anything online (but then again I'm not sure what I'm looking for)...
I think Ken enjoyed today, it was relatively relaxed doing gardening type things. He and Kai cut down/up the apple tree this afternoon - it was clearly dying, all the leaves turning yellow, and the bark shredding off - and set up a bonfire: it seemed safest to burn the diseased wood. Sad, but we had no choice. Now wondering what to get to replace it. It needs to be a fairly small tree, and preferably native: buckthorn is a possibility. The brimstone butterfly, usually the first butterfly seen in the UK every year, lays its eggs on the buckthorn, and the caterpillars feed on the leaves.
Quyn's new medication seems to work well: he's been able to settle the last two nights, and is moving a little more easily, which is very good. But Ryme is suddenly looking old, with so much white hair appearing all through her fur, especially noticeable on her face. Then again, she is a grand old lady now.
And I managed to reinstall dnoter: I can make postits on my monitor again!
There was something else, I know there was, but I can't remember what it was...
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Pleasant river walk notwithstanding, trudging in this heat is no fun. And the dogs' home itself is distressing - not the place, which is fine, and the staff obviously love the beastlies, but it's awful to see so many unhomed dogs, eagerly (or desperately) bouncing around for attention when anyone walks by.
Today was just an initial visit, to see the place, get advice, find out the procedure for rehoming a dog. They were very helpful, and thought, from my description, that Quyn might benefit from a companion. But we have to choose carefully, and he has to go there to meet the new dog (so a lift will need to be arranged) under controlled conditions before the new can come home for a weekend visit. All dogs are neutered/spayed, microchipped and inoculated before they leave: cost is £80 for a dog and £90 for a bitch (I'd prefer a dog).
There were several potentials there today - two lovely collies (one already reserved, the other, unfortunately has mild hip dysplasia) and two cute x-breeds (one of whom, to our surprise as he looked full-grown, is a 6 months old stray, too young for Quyn to cope with I think). However, we won't be going any further until after Kai and I get back from GoodTwin's at the beginning of August, and there are dogs coming and going all the time. I've no intention of hurrying the process - it's a long-term commitment and everything has to be just right.
Dropped into Phoenix on the way back and picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (on Lutra's recommendation). What a fine film! Very enjoyable, and Depp is terrific, with an unpredictable and slightly dangerous edge. I love the little homages all the way through. Great soundtrack too. Definitely on the list to buy to keep. We also have Underworld: Evolution for Ken and I later. I'm not expecting much - the first film was the archetypal triumph of style over substance - but it's Ken's birthday today and a little exotic, prettily cg-ed brain candy will go down well after the steak (with new pots, breaded garlic shrumps, petits pois, green beans and carrots, and a toffee cheesecake for dessert) I'm cooking for dinner.
What happened yesterday? Oh yes... Kai woke complaining of a stomach ache, but seemed well enough to go into school - until his teacher rang at 11 saying he was poorly and could we collect him please. Ken went up: sprog spent the afternoon on the sofa (and missing PE. His least favourite lesson. Hm...)
I had a smattering of website updates for clients, fiddly but not too demanding. Now started H ch 12, nearly finished 2AC 1.5.01, and am ready to write the review of Schism, so all in all a fairly satisfactory day.
26°. Too hot...
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Ah, that's better...
Steve the very efficient and very pleasant TeleWest technician arrived at 9.15 (ish, I was in the middle of an IAVMT update and didn't look at the clock except to note when I stopped, which was a few minutes after Ken answered the door), listened to the details of what had been happening, had a look at the netstats - then gave me a URL to check. This took me to a page I didn't know about, which gives details of the upstream and downstream bandwith usage. "Ah," he said, "there's the problem. The downstream power level is far too high. It should be as close to zero as possible." Ours was stuck at 38 dBmV!!
Now, the engineers have been busy upgrading the servers/adding faster broadband capacity all over the Briz area over the last... I was going to say few months, but it's an ongoing thing, although there has been more than usual happening just recently, and apparently it's simply overpowered our surfboard. (Someone across the road had a similar problem a wee while back, it seems.)
So what do we do about it? The technicians are very familiar with the problem: Steve screwed a little dooberry between the jack and the socket at the back of the surfboard, I refreshed the page, and there we were back to 2 dBmV, a much happier power level.
I've bookmarked the page for future reference: Steve also explained that the upstream power level shouldn't get above 58 dBmV (it's 41 dBmV at present, which is fine), if it does that can cause problems too - and gave me his mobile phone number in case I have any further problems. Now that's service!
I have something new to add to my repertoire of knowledge, always a satisfying thing, and the system is purring along as it should. This makes me happy. Though I'm still pissed off at Useless who refused to accept it wasn't spyware on my computer and insisted I had to ring the PC support premium rate number...
In other news...
Took Quyn for his bi-monthly vet appointment. Since I last went his legs are worse: he has trouble settling at night or after any exercise, wandering from here to there and unable to get comfortable - and last night his back legs suddenly went completely and he fell over, which shocked him (and me). I explained all this as she was checking him: the arthritis doesn't seem to be any worse than before, but he is getting on for 14 now, despite thinking he's still a puppy (even the vet commented on him not appearing his age!) and things are beginning to wear out. His hearing is definitely nowhere near as sharp as it was, and I think his sight is beginning to go a little too. (Oh, and I forgot to say that the anti-biotics made no difference to the snoring, so we're learning to put up with it. Although he has difficulty getting up the stairs now, poor pooch, so it's not as disturbing as it could be.)
We don't want to be without a dog - Quyn is such a part of the family he's going to be missed desperately when he dies (which hopefully won't be for a few years yet, though I'm not counting on it), and while we can never replace him, we do intend to get another dog (a rescued one this time. I don't think I could face house-training another puppy, and there are far more homeless dogs than people who can take them.) Talking about the subject on ICQ the other day, Lutra wondered if getting another dog while we still have Quyn might work, so I asked the vet for her advice while I was there.
She thinks it could be a good idea - a younger dog very often gives the older one a new lease of life, and as long as it's not aggressive or tries to take over, it can provide real companionship. Of course, we'd need to be incredibly careful with the choice no matter when we get it - we'd need to minimise the disruption for the cats for one thing, although they're so used to Quyn I think they'd accept another dog reasonably easily. It would have to be a breed that doesn't need huge amounts of exercise, as we simply don't have the time for extended walks. It would need to be friendly, happy with children and cats, and neither timid or aggressive. I'm not fond of small dogs, but we also don't want anything too big. And one with much less fur! Heh, sounds like a shopping list...
There's also the financial aspect of course - pets aren't cheap, although as far as I'm concerned what they give back is priceless. Not sure the bank would agree, mind you. Anyway, the upshot is I'm going to get in touch with Bristol Dogs' Home to get some information. They're open on Saturday, and it's a shortish, pleasant walk along the river from us: I'll see if Kai fancies a trip at the weekend.
More as it happens.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Well that was exhausting. But very instructive...
Kai's met his form tutor and his form mates, and had fun with a little getting-to-know-you exercise (interviewing each other then presenting the interview to the rest) while the parents took a brief tour and met some of the teachers.
It looks like he's going to have a fantastic time! In English their first project is going to be their own autobiography: the four hours of lessons every week will be split between the basics (grammar, spelling, punctuation etc), fiction, poetry and plays studies, and group reading and activities, and he's going to love Fridays: they're Innovation Days, when the sprogs work in teams on Science and Technology projects (wind-chimes as made in a Japanese factory their first term, apparently...). ICT and e-citizenship sounds intriguing, he'll enjoy the maths, and may have the opportunity to learn German... All in all I'm very impressed - though the amount of work he'll be expected to do is daunting. And all students have to take at least one extra-curricular activity a week and preferably two or three: the school have arranged special late buses and the choice of course is terrific, from self defence (Tae Kwon Do was mentioned) through animal medical care to working on the Wildlife Area (Kai's first choice) there really is something for everyone.
This blog, visualised as a graph, from the Websites as Graphs site. Nifty, ne? The pic is a link to a full sized version - which looks to me like an integration of alien DNA and a 2D depiction of the local supercluster. But then it would, wouldn't it....
Having an early night!
[bemused] Tarantulas, as far as I can ascertain from Rosa's threat posture/running away every time I manage to splatter her when I spray her tank (to increase the humidity), are not fond of getting wet. So I can only assume that she was standing in her half-full waterbowl in order to try to cool down a little yesterday. Yes, it was hot. And humid. Bit like a steam sauna, actually.
Today is very pleasantly cool and damp - and still, so at least my brolly won't blow inside out when I go to collect Kai (must remember not to buy such a cheap one next time...)
Sprog took home-grown strawberries for his break today. They are wonderful, so sweet even I don't need sugar on them - and they hull properly and neatly, unlike shop bought where I always have to use a knife. But two planters isn't going to be nearly enough: next year I need at least twice as many, and preferably more if I can work out where to put them!
Much much later... [growl] Last night I started having connectivity problems - as in everything was taking forever to load, timing out or bringing up an 'interrupted' error page. There were no reported broadband problems in our area, so I rang BlueYonder technical support to ask if they could help.
After a little playing around with the [run] cmd application, the person I spoke to told me I had spyware on my system and to run anti-spyware software to get rid of it. (He based this on the fact that requests for the netstats for my machine brought up 40+ lines of TCP/UDP code, instead of the 10-15 he said should be there). I wasn't convinced, but since it's been a while since I did a complete scan, I accepted the explanation.
Ad-aware and Spybot S&D only showed a total of 6 tracking cookies (I almost typed cooking trackies, there), which is pretty much what I'd anticipate, but Ewido threw up the backdoor.theef.111 RAT Trojan hidden away in an Adobe plugin - and told me it would have to get rid of the whole plugin to remove it. Since I didn't know what the plugin did - I have so many I wouldn't recognise a fake one if it bit me - I checked I didn't have any of the processes it affects running, then opted to leave it where it was until I could get more advice (from my guru GoodTwin).
By the time I got back to work, the delay with my internet access had vanished and I was back to normal.
This morning, after GoodTwin's email (it seems fairly certain, with all the security I run, that the Trojan hadn't been operating), I took the opportunity to do a major housekeep, backing up and archiving nearly a gig's worth of old files, then ran Ewido again and let the software remove the Trojan, which it did without any problems. And all continued well. Until I got back from collecting Kai, to find Ken trying to get into Yahoo to check mail and nothing happening.
Now, I'm sure there are more awkward times for me to lose connectivity, but this came close: it's Kai's 'Meet the Tutor' evening tomorrow and I had to look up bus times to try to work out the schedule. Except that the pages took 10 minutes to load, and even then not fully.
I ran all the scans again. The system came up clean. I rang tech support.
And spoke to someone I could barely understand, who was either not interested or not trained to do anything as useful as actually help. He insisted that I must still have spyware on the system, it couldn't possibly be anything else. He gave me the (premium rate, of course) number to ring for PC support. I put the phone down, closed down all my internet connections (including ICQ) and tried netstat again. Finally we unplugged the surfboard, and tried looking at netstat again - to find it still showed over 20 TCP/UDP connections!
So I rang back and got through to an extremely helpful young Scotsman, who ran the same tests as Chris a couple of weeks ago, came to the conclusion (which I confess had occurred to me) that it looked like a hardware problem and arranged to send out a technician to check our ancient surfboard (the broadband modem).
But the earliest they can do it is Saturday...
[sigh] Dial-up til Saturday? I have sites to maintain, research to do!
He apologised - and of course it isn't his fault, he did everything he could to solve the problem - and suggested I try ringing through the week to see if I can have an earlier appointment slotted into a cancellation. Like I needed something else to do this week.
It's an intermittent problem as well. I was without internet access from 4.30 'til 11.15 pm, and for a couple of hours couldn't even send emails, though I could receive them. For the moment everything seems back to normal, though how long it will last is anyone's guess...
So if I'm not here over the next few days, you'll know why.
Monday, June 12, 2006
And yet more wildlife...
Ken spotted this lesser stag beetle climbing up through my snow-in-summer spiraea while we were out trying to decide where to plant the berberis thunbergii Golden Ring he picked up at Wyevale's Garden Centre. Why it was heading skywards we've no idea, they usually live under logs, and Ken's suggestion that perhaps it was some sort of mating thing and the beetle was going to take off was proved wrong when the beastie turned around and began to climb back down. [shrug] Maybe he just fancied a change of view?
Big thing it was, though, must have been over an inch long. (Yes, OK, that's big for the UK...)
So, hectic day yesterday. Sue came back with some queries re two FL chapters, which took me a while to revise. Ken took Kai to Wyevale to buy some TumbleWeed weedkiller (I hate using it, but I hate having my plants strangled by bindweed even more) and to look at shrubs for the garden. Our next door neighbours have a beautiful deep red berberis, and we thought, since it does so well there, it would be successful here too. We also wanted something prickly to put off anyone tempted to jump down from the wall at the back where the now rapidly dying apple tree is, and this seemed ideal. (Ken now wants two more, differently coloured ones, to cover the rest of the wall. I think it's a great idea...)
So I worked while they were out, planning to have a nap after dinner. But by the time I served up, it was late - Strange was on TV, followed by Medium (which we'd already seen, dammit). And after that Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love was on. And very distracting it proved too. Gorgeous film, both visually and storywise, and one I'd like to see again. I swear Maya's sari/costumes reflected what was happening in the film at the time.
Gone midnight by the time that finished, so I was a little later than intended continuing the revision of H 11... I finished it though, at least the first draft. Got to bed around 3 am, thinking I'd have at least three cycles before I had to get up to take Kai in, only to be woken a couple of hours later by a torrential thunderstorm, thunder and lightning and rain that filled both our pools to the brim in no time flat. Bit difficult sleeping through that lot. And after the school run and (yet again) carrying too much shopping home, I'm now knackered. Just hope this all makes sense to you...
Ken took the photo of the slowworm while I was out this morning - looks like it's pregnant!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Raptor on guard duty on the landing. It's cooler here, with windows open at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Hot hot day, much of it spent pottering in the garden. Ken's started preparing the wall for the next repair job, but his back is really stiff and sore tonight after only doing a little, so whether he'll be able to manage it or not is open to question.
And chapter 11 is proving recalcitrant...
The PALEOMAP Project is fascinating.
"The goal of the PALEOMAP Project is to illustrate the plate tectonic development of the ocean basins and continents, as well as the changing distribution of land and sea during the past 1100 million years."There are animations too, as well as maps of the temperature throughout the earth's history. Take a look at the Pangea Ultima page. The UK will still be recognisable 250 million years from now!
Moving from the sublime to the... odd, just in case you ever get tired of the old-fashioned bow, Ian's Shoelace Site will show you 17 different ways to knot your shoelaces!
Back to 11...
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The moon was too bright and too late-rising for me to get decent definition, but with tweaking the contrast you can just see the face...
Pet pics. Solar-powered Ryme...
... and Quyn doing cute.
Not at all a bad day. Tweaked Pal chapter 3, checked 4-7, making a few revisions, and am now ready to tackle 8 tonight. We ate chicken al tonight, most enjoyable, despite the breeze. And we've mostly managed to miss the bloody football. DVDs are wonderful things. As are the documentary channels (if you ignore the ads...)
Back to the loom!
Friday, June 09, 2006
Kai has gone down with the stomach bug I've had the last few days, poor sprog. None of us got a lot of sleep last night, and he's spent a woeful day curled up on the sofa watching Discovery Channel (and LWW). He's feeling a little better now, but I'm keeping him home tomorrow - have to, school regs decree 24 hours after recovery before sprogs are allowed back.
We've had the invitation to his John Cabot taster - 27th June, 8.45 am 'til 11.45 am. Which is a bit of a pain, as it's a two-bus, 60 minute journey, and we can't buy FirstDay tickets until after 9 am. Timing's going to be awkward... Not sure what I'm going to do for 3 hours, either. Eh well.
'Our' carpenter finished the arch this morning. The wisteria needs tidying up and a little pruning where it was battered, but the whole thing looks good, we think. Now we need either for the mahonia to bush out, or to find something else to plant beside it to act as a screen for the back garden.
Denis thinks he might be able to help us replace the outdoor loo, too, which would be great.
-> Hawkweed by Kai's swing (which we still haven't tackled). I like this flower, it's beautifully bright and sunny.
[sigh] And Blogger's down - with unexpected technical problems, they say...
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
"Technically it's a ferret."...
[growl] The only half-way good-ish thing about being ill is it gives me time to read (as in OotP finished and I'm only a hundred or so pages off finishing HBP).
Today it has been noisy. First I was woken at some unearthly hour of the morning by the milk being delivered next door. They used to use one of those purring electric milk-floats, but a short while back they switched to a bloody noisy petrol motor. I'll have to get the company name and put in a complaint... Then the dustcart lumbered down the road, closely followed by the recycling lorry - at which point I decided I may as well get up, because 'our' carpenter was arriving at 9.30 to put up the wisteria trellis.
So the last four hours have alternated between the washing machine (which has an exceptionally noisy spin cycle) and the masonry drill, and not surprisingly I still have the headache I woke up with.
But the trellis - no, I must stop calling it that, it's an arch - is looking lovely, and will be beautiful when it's finished. First photo was the wisteria this morning: I'll take another photo later when the arch is up. It matches the gate, and has pretty finials, and has been partially made from the wood Denis has recycled from our old airing cupboard door!
I may have to revise my idea of getting a solar-powered fountain - or at least, not using it while things are happening in the pool...
The first strawberries of the year. I think there may be enough for Kai to take some with his packed lunch tomorrow!
Right - I have three days to make up. Might be best to start with 2AC 1.5.01: it's half written and I'd like to get it done soon...
Sunday, June 04, 2006
My son crossly accused me of being a 'Snail Slaughterer' yesterday, in retaliation for my suggesting that we stamp on the cockchafers...
[growl] Don't know how it happened after doing sod all yesterday, but the muscle across my shoulder and all the way down the back of my left-hand ribs feels like I've ripped it. Or been repeatedly kicked there. Most unpleasant. Led to a very disturbed night as well. 'prufen's kept the overall pain under control today, but it still hurts to move. Sleeping tonight is going to be interesting...
Still, managed a couple of pages of 2AC 1.5.01. Watched (and was very disappointed by) this week's Dr Who - how hackneyed can you get? The continuation had better be damned good! And am planning an early night - I'm absolutely shattered, enough so that I should manage to sleep for at least a while, even with the painful ribs.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Today I did something I haven't done in... I forget how long. Ken took Kai on an explore, out to Stapleton to check out the church font and walk along the river: I set up the lounger, sprawled in the sun and simply read. For four whole blissful hours, just me, the peace of the garden, sunshine, parasol, a bottle of Diet Coke, the beastlies and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Wonderful...
Back to 2AC, all rejuvenated.
[sigh] I had planned to have a lie-in after all the early mornings I've been doing, but was woken at 10.34 am by the sort of dream that makes it difficult to get back to sleep...
I was on a bus on my way home when I looked out of the window and saw something odd in the sky. It was early evening, the sky beginning to darken, and the moon was clearly visible: below it there was a strange, shimmering red-tinged light. I assumed some sort of plane and looked away, but when I looked back a few seconds later it was larger, and a distinct disk. As I watched it grew bigger and bigger: after about 30 seconds it was as large as the full moon, and I could see patterns - a little like the cloud bands on Jupiter, but much paler, and the edge of the disk had an odd wavering effect.
I remember staring and saying, "What the hell is that!?" and other people turning to look too.
It grew larger and larger, until we could see it clearly - it was obviously a planet (well, it was obvious to me). It was actually very pretty, pale pinks, yellows and pearly creamy colours, and the shimmering effect around the edge was the gaseous atmosphere streaming off as it moved through space. Fascinating - if it hadn't been on a collision course with the earth.
The bus had come to a dead stop by this time, and everyone around me was screaming. I remember thinking two things simultaneously: anger that I wasn't at home with my family for the end, and extreme irritation that now I'd never finish Haadri. Great sense of perspective, ne?
By the time the planet half-filled the sky we could hear a horrible low-pitched rumbling, and the world started shaking as gravitational stresses made themselves felt. The woman beside me was numb, wondering aloud why no-one had said anything, why we hadn't been warned. I thought it was probably because there was nothing anyone could do: the thing was so big (larger than earth) that destroying it was impossible, even if there'd been time. This way there was really no time to panic - and after all, we had nowhere to go...
I woke before the earth was ripped apart, but it was somewhat disturbing - it was an extremely vivid dream - so got up instead of going back to sleep. I can always nap later.
Transposition Epilogue now uploaded. Transposition now complete!
Thought I'd try taking some more moon photos this evening, trying out different settings, but I left it too late and it was too dark to get anything decent - except for this one. <-
I wasn't aware of there being anything else in the viewfinder, but when I took a look in PS I found that little blob (top of photo, above the moon). And when I took a full-size look at the blob, it resolved into this -> which I think - if those are fluffy antennae - is a moth!
We watched The Brothers Grimm tonight. Which, like most if not all of Gilliam's work, is flawed but compulsive. Interesting. Much fun to be had playing 'Spot the Fairy Story'.
Back to Transposition, the Epilogue...
Friday, June 02, 2006
More Wildlife Chez JoulesI was dragged out into the garden this morning to see the spiderball...
This is a tiny ball of hundreds of minute spiderlings on the goat willow. Kai blew on the ball to show me how it 'explodes in slow motion' when the spiderlings are disturbed:
After a minute or so they all go back into a ball again. Very cute! I'm informed that they are orb weaver spiderlings, so come autumn I'll see if I can get a photo of an adult.
Town was much as usual. Kai wanted to come with me, and spend a little time playing in the park on Castle Green. The stall was there, so my mother's birthday present is now in the post. Picked up sake at the Chinese supermarket, so I can make sushi again. The Highpoint balloon hasn't arrived yet (late this year? Or are they having a year off?): however, there was a big red and white striped tent set up for the Bristol performances of the LadyBoys of Bangkok. Hm. Wonder how much the tickets are...?
Arrived back to find the colour proofs of the Dreams book had arrived, for my reference. Haven't looked yet - almost afraid to, because if there are any errors still in it, they'll be in the published book.
A few weeks back I bought Kai a thingie - one of those battery operated, 'see how steady your hand is' toys where you move a metal ring over a metal shape and if you touch it it makes a noise. Don't know if they have a proper name, but you know what I mean. This was in the rough shape of a person, and it wails like something out of a horror film when touched. Well, Kai's decided he wants an Addams Family style doorbell, and he and Ken are wiring it up to a press-button on the front door. So we now have a doorbell that screams at you when you poke it.
Just thought I'd warn everyone. [smirk]
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Along with almost everything else in the garden, Roeg's Pool reeds are flowering.
We had a lovely day, very relaxed. Ruth and I sat in the garden at the table while the sprogs played mini-ninja in the back garden, in the front garden, up the lane at the side of the house... No, not too sure what it is, but they enjoyed themselves. We had spagbol al fresco, followed by chocolate cookies and cream, mint choc, and toffee and vanilla ice creams, which all went down very nicely...
I'm rather pleased with this, taken using the telephoto function and enlarged in PS - you can just see the irregular line of the terminator. <- At least I think that's what it is. The only tweaking I've done is to adjust the brightness and contrast.
I love my digicam...
Ken, Kai and I had supper in the garden - the day was cooling as the sun set but it was still very pleasant, skreeing flamewings, the faint scent of curry from the helichrysum, the flickering of the tealight I lit to see how the new lamp looked on the new 'shepherd's crook' holder (very pretty. Going to buy another holder for the other lamp). And the sky was beautiful.
The two tiny tiny black specks towards the top and over to the right are swifts.
But now I'm too knackered to make sense and heading for an early night. Will take a stab at the Transposition Epilogue tomorrow, after I get back from town.
ClaraNET problem fixed just as I was about to start thinking of heading off. Transposition part 11 now posted.
[snarl] Aaaand the ClaraNET server on which WaveWrights, Haadri and Voicematters are hosted goes down - just in time for me not to be able to upload Transposition part 11...
Well, I suppose it has been a long time since they've had any problems, and they usually fix them speedily. It's just damned annoying. I'm tired. I wanted to have it up and viewable before I stagger off to bed.
Heh. How many things can you fit into an afternoon? Ken mowed while I cleaned right through the house and did a couple of machine loads of washing, changed bedding etc. Then I strimmed while Kai started painting the trellis for the wisteria (it's all made, but needs weatherproofing and assembling): then I took over the painting for a while, then Ken did some while I went shopping. Baths, showers, cooking... All fairly tedious domestic stuff but tiring all the same. And all accomplished in six hours. I can't half move when I want to.
Anyway - sorry Zonefolks, hopefully part 11 can be uploaded tomorrow morning. I enjoyed writing it - it's just too easy to parody ST:TOS, and so much fun -
High above them the Enterprise was going through the usual motions: bridge crew being flung in all directions - not necessarily in accordance with the laws of physics or even with each other; McCoy trying to tend the wounded and making his objections to the ship's shaking known in no uncertain terms as yet another laser scalpel went skittering across a patient's body, removing a couple of fingers as it did so; Scotty yelling something doomful about the dilithium crystals... Kirk flicked off the comm and ordered another round of photon torpedoes...GoodTwin, keep forgetting to say: we charged the Kodak batteries for just over 24 hours and it's done the trick - they've taken over a hundred photos so far and are still going. Many thanks for that!