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.
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!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Well that was a much happier day!
I thought he probably would be, once he knew what to expect and where he's supposed to be every day - it's the not knowing that causes stress. Mind you, triple Science first thing started the whole day off really well (Kai thinks the class was 'mint' and his Science teacher brilliant, and it sounds like she has a great sense of humour. They dived straight into the syllabus - sound waves, something Kai's always been interested in). He's not so sure about Drama, though he didn't not like it, and enjoyed the English, but they didn't have MFL today, instead it was more CCC. Overall though a hugely enjoyable day for him (apart from the buses, especially the one home, because all the older sprogs get there first and grab the seats with their friends. Although apparently a couple of year 10s have moved so he can have a seat the last two days, which is very kind of them).
Thank you, Onna and Goodtwin, for the comments and positive thoughts - sorry I haven't replied, but I've been a bit busy today trying to get a new client site organised, advertising for a lovely B&B in Morocco. Problem is, although I ordered the new domain on Saturday (from Supanames) the confirmation hasn't come through yet, so I can't upload anything. I don't know whether the delay is because of the Bank Holiday weekend or because Supanames have just amalgamated with Pipex and 123Reg, but it's a bloody nuisance. (If I was a conspiracy theorist I'd be a little alarmed at the number of IT companies now merging: BlueYonder with NTL, BT with Yahoo, Supanames and 123 with Pipex...) Trying to establish a new routine is proving bumpy too, although going back to sleep for a couple of cycles after I've seen Kai off seems to work reasonably well (Pah! Sleep! Waste of time!). Eh well, it'll all sort itself out sooner or later.
The Amazon order arrived today - Prehistoric Park and Chronicles of Riddick special edition DVDs. CoR is particularly good - the missing sequences, as usual, make the story make a lot more sense. The deleted scenes are interesting too, and flesh the story out even more. I watched the whole 2-disc extravaganza tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh, and it might be that one of our old books (Clairvoyance) might be being reissued in a slightly different format, but that's not certain yet. More if it happens.
Right. Couple of tweaks to the new site then back to the loom I think. I tried an illustration for the CoR fic last night: it was 'orrible. But I'd still like to do it if I can, so may take a break and give it another go.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Oh dear. This morning was dreadful, with Kai so nervous he could hardly eat his breakfast: the thought of all the other sprogs arriving back at school today had him feeling quite ill. I saw him to the busstop, but then left him as no other mums were there, and we've agreed tomorrow I'll walk him as far as the corner and then let him go the rest of the way by himself. Don't want to embarrass him!
So I was a little distracted today. I tried to ring to see if he wanted one of us to meet him, but he didn't hear his phone - the bus was really noisy - but he arrived home OK.
And flopped on the settee and said he'd had a horrible day. [sigh] So we talked through everything that had happened, and I made suggestions as to why he found various things so stressful, and half an hour later he was feeling much happier and decided that perhaps it hadn't been such a bad day after all. He likes his PE teacher, and did quite well in the keep-fit session, especially in the sprinting bit: the rest of the day they were mostly doing CCC (Cabot Competency Curriculum "...a 'learning to learn' programme designed to enable students to understand how they learn and ways in which they can become better and more independent learners in the future. The students focus upon learning styles, thinking skills, team work, research skills, and the ways in which they can manage situations and relate to people...") which he quite enjoyed. I suggested that what he percieved as people being rude was perhaps teasing, which some kids, especially if they have siblings, use to break the ice (he hates being teased, so that might take a bit of getting used to) and to try just smiling and not letting it get to him.
Nothing I can do about the swearing on the bus though...
He has his lesson plan now, and it looks quite good. Monday he has Tech until morning break, then Music and CCC until lunch (he'll get to try a few instruments, I gather, which will be fun for him). Then he has outdoor PE for an hour and half (rugby next week, he told me unhappily), afternoon break then CCC until hometime. Tuesday will be two sessions of Maths, then Innovations: then CCC until afternoon break, with indoor PE afterwards. Wednesday looks like fun. He has Science until morning break, then Drama, then CCC til lunch: CCC and English all afternoon. He's going to enjoy tomorrow! Thursday is E-Citizenship, CCC and Modern Foreign Languages. He's not sure yet if he's taking German or Spanish... Friday looks like a fun day too: Innovations all morning, MFL 'til lunch, then CCC, double Maths and ending with E-Citizenship again. Altogether I think he's going to be happy with the plan (except for the PE, but at least he gets the outdoor bit - his least favourite - out of the way at the beginning of the week). As for dealing with the rest - the far larger number of fellow pupils, the noise, the language, and being one of the youngest again - well, that will come as he settles into the school. It would be the same no matter where he went.
Oh - a piece of good news. According to the Ethical Consumer Libby's is no longer part of Nestlé, which means we can start buying it again. (Their organic fruit juices are very nice.)
Heh, I'm tired. I've been anxious all day, and I have yet another early morning. Eh well, it's a learning curve...
Monday, August 28, 2006
We've started closing most of the windows at night, now, but the small kitchen one is useful left open - except when murfs fly in... This is Raptor on top of the laundry-basket on the back of the kitchen door last night, eyes fixed on a big one (all I've done is lighten the photo a fraction so you can see her outline. Her eyes were open so wide there was a tiny rim of green around the outer edge, hence this amazing foglamp effect!)
We have a new cable-modem. It's tiny, about a quarter of the size of the surfboard, and it took the engineer twenty minutes and four phone calls to HQ to get it working (and even then he opined that the problems were with my computer software, not at their end - despite the fact that Melkior wouldn't connect either when we tried the laptop with the modem. Actually, I think that was what did the trick - Butch was so disgusted with the comment that he kicked the connection into cooperating). Eh well - so far it's been OK, but I'm a little twitchy now: if we have further problems they're likely to say it's my machine, not them, and that it's our problem...
On the plus side I'm now 14 pages into Duplicity, the Chronicles of Riddick fic, and thoroughly enjoying myself. It'll need a rewrite after I've seen the director's cut, but hopefully not by too much.
Early night again - need to be up at 6.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Last of the big spenders, me.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
[sigh] Well, so much for the lie-in! Woke up after three hours and couldn't get back to sleep, so read a couple of chapters of The Ancestor's Tale (I'm back as far as the hagfish now, over halfway).
Kai was still feeling a little poorly - looks like something upset his stomach yesterday. He was fine again by lunchtime though.
The fact that my broadband went off again at eight minutes past 2 and didn't come back on again for an hour wasn't OK however. I rang to see if they could give me an earlier appointment, but unfortunately they couldn't. And I got it wrong, they don't call out on Sundays (or presumably overnight), but bank holidays appear to be acceptable.
We moved two roses, and planted the acanthus (near the frewtnog pool). Still to do: pruning the goat willow and the ivy around the bird-cherry stump, and setting the stones around Roeg's Pool. It's been a good summer for getting the garden organised.
Prehistoric Park has now finished, alas. We've loved the series, loved the wonderful dourly pragmatic Bob the Head Keeper (who didn't bat an eyelid when two baby ornithomimus velox adopted him as their mum, when asked to prepare a pond for a deinosuchus, or when chasing a herd of titanosaurs), loved the innovative TLC head vet Susanne gave to the injured T. Rex, the new-born sabre-tooth cubs, and the lonely woolly-mammoth, loved the snippets of info we learned and the world maps shown for each of the geological eras that were visited, and shook our heads over the completely insane antics of Nigel. [happy grin] But we can watch it all again next week, as the DVD set has been posted today from amazon.co.uk!
Along with my Chronicles of Riddick director's cut. I'm eight pages into the fic at the moment and find myself in an LotR situation: I need to get the details absolutely right, and am going to have to take several close looks at the bonus material. The more I watch the film, the more impressed I am, and the more annoyed the sequels weren't made.
Back to it. I'm trying something a little different with this one...
Friday, August 25, 2006
[snarl] Back on dialup after a couple of hours of working broadband...
Kai had a fantastic day, explored the library, had several lessons and a spelling and comprehension assessment, bought himself pizza and pasta [resigned sigh] for lunch, thoroughly enjoyed himself, has made a couple of new friends to spend his breaks with, and is altogether quite confident about next week. He's overtired though: I let him stay up to watch Chronicles of Riddick (which he liked a lot) and afterwards he complained of feeling sick. He's fine, it's just reaction to a very exciting, somewhat stressful day. I've said he can sleep on my side 'til I go up, something that he hardly ever does anymore and hence is quite a treat (he loves my waterball as well as the scent of jasmine on the bedding...) which should solve the problem.
Lie-in for us all tomorrow, and with the bank holiday on Monday he should feel rested and ready by Tuesday - which is just as well, as he has PE. He says he has to take all his kit, but not whether it's for outdoor or indoor... I'm going to assume that as he thinks it's either volleyball or keep fit, it'll be indoors and just pack that lot (if he has to take both it won't all fit in his rucksack!)
... the buzzing of the internal modem is going to drive me nuts, I can tell. May be time to boot up Winamp, plug myself in, and play some loud music...
Sunrise. Now there's something I don't see every day. Unless I haven't actually got to bed by then, that is.
But we all got up in plenty of time, Kai had his burger and a glass of milk, and we set off at 7.20 to find where the bus stops . We arrived at the Talbot Hill junction to find another newbie there with his mum, dad and little sister waiting, but another mum with her daughter told us she thought the bus would stop a bit further along - so we all trotted off over the humpbacked bridge and stood waiting and chatting until the coach arrived. Kids got on OK - all looking a little nervous - and we waved as it drove off. All very 'normal' and as stress-free as we could be - looks like everyone's been emphasising the excitement of the change rather than anything else. Many thanks for all the best wishes, folks!
So, for me, a quick shop, then home, then - after a 45 minute conversation with BY technical support - a nap...
Ah yes, BlueYonder technical support. Regular/long term readers might remember the fun I have with BY technical support. I'd have thought by now they'd have a warning by my notes: "If you don't want your head bitten off, do NOT suggest this customer has spy-ware on her system." My system is cleaner than an operating theatre (though after recent uproars that might not be saying much...) My computer is my castle, complete with drawbridge, moat filled with sharks and a dragon on the roof. And that's without my incarnations as curmudgeonly old trout and grumpy rhino lurking just inside the door. Anyone or anything that does manage to gain access is ruthlessly hunted down, hung drawn and quartered and fed to the ogres under the walls within seconds. It takes me a full minute to list the security I have in operation here when anyone asks.
Luckily the person I spoke to today asked me if I might have spyware after we'd gone through everything else, which mitigated the offence slightly. (Hm. Perhaps they have annotated my records!)
ANYway... I've had intermittent connectivity problems for three days now - particularly bad last night, though it cleared in time for me to update - but this morning I have no broadband at all. Actually, that's not strictly true. I can access the 'net, but it takes about 20 minutes to load a page and even then half the images are missing. Checking the signal status page, it looks like we have a downstream problem again, two of the values are too high. Not the one that the widget fixed - this is different. Heh, I can't even call the page up to get the right details at the moment.
So they're sending an engineer.
[growl] And in the meantime I'm on dialup. Which is costing me 1p per minute - which isn't going to break the budget, but to which I object ferociously as I've already bloody paid for broadband in advance and I really really loathe paying for something twice. Not to mention that no-one can ring us on the landline while I'm online.
NOT happy. Support said to try ringing again to see if they've had any cancellations, which worked well last time, except that at the moment they have network problems in BS5 and BS6 (which also might have a bearing on my problem) and it takes 20-30 minutes waiting on the phone to actually speak to someone...
I am now going to take myself back to the Riddick/Vaako fic I've started. I have to get offline in half an hour anyway in case Kai needs to ring: although I've messaged his mobile and have mine on beside me, he might not get the text (last time I tried it took several hours, no idea why) and probably won't think to ring my number. He's going to be tired and poggled after his first day.
[sigh] Bloody Terran tech...
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Ken took Kai to Clevedon today, for the last day of his holiday. They had a great time: Kai went on the model railway, and for his usual rock scramble, and they both enjoyed the fresh sea air.
It was finally dry and warm enough for me to put a couple of machine loads of washing through, and while on the way back from the top of the garden I saw a flash of gold in Roeg's Pool. On closer inspection it turned out to be Shortcake, one of Kai's original goldfish - alive! It dived back down after just a few seconds, but we're now wondering if the others are still alive down in the murk. There's certainly enough weed in there to provide the necessary oxygen, and plenty to eat... I think I really should clear it out, but we need a small pump to do it properly.
Kai in his John Cabot uniform! We're having a go at a slightly older-looking flicked back, vaguely parted hairstyle instead of the rather anachronistic fringe, but it'll be a while before his very thick but still fine hair gets the general idea!
Wendy and Peter - many thanks for the Good Luck card! It arrived today and Kai's dead chuffed with it: says thank you very much.
Right - I'm having a ridiculously early night tonight in order to get up at 6 tomorrow morning. We told Kai he could have anything he liked for breakfast just this once, and he's opted for a chicken burger...
The Chocolate Bilby.
Soooo cute. I had sort of planned to save him for at least a few days, but alas it was not to be. Of course, leaving him sitting on my desk, with those cute little eyes looking at me with such betrayal, with such an "I just know you're going to eat me..." look, didn't help at all.
So today he was ceremoniously slaughtered and eaten. I had to have Ken do the slaughtering bit. No, not because I felt guilty, but because the chocolate was so thick my feeble hands couldn't manage to break it open!
Of course, Kai wanted in on the action...
It was delicious - rich and creamy with the faintest hint of orange. We love Australian chocolate - it tastes quite different to our own.
And Showbiz is wonderful! It's fascinating to listen to how far Muse has come since this first album - and I swear Bellamy's voice is richer now than then. [GLOMPS Lutra again] Thank you!
So... All Kai's sewing is now done and I'm ready to start the curtains, possibly at the weekend. He's just about ready for Friday, though now he's getting nervous, which isn't surprising. He adapts very quickly though - everything will be fine after the first couple of weeks, I'm sure.
I've had a hankering just recently for some Riddick/Vaako slash. No, I haven't the faintest idea where the notion came from. I like Pitch Black, and I ordered Chronicles of Riddick DVD (director's cut very cheap) to make up an Amazon.co.uk order so we could take advantage of the free delivery, because I like to have complete series' where I can. But it'll be the middle of September before it arrives (ordered it with the DVD set of Prehistoric Park, which hasn't even finished screening yet - last episode is next Saturday) and it's been nagging me, so today I rented the theatrical version from Phœnix...
Very very pretty Vaako.
From ICQ earlier...
[Joules] I can feel a fic coming on, you know. I have to go shopping later - I'm still sooooo tempted to pick up the DVD. It's £2.50 for three days as the film is now so old.... [Lutra] [beg] It's a quick fix. [nods] It's so strange the way these 'obsessions' hit.... But so much fun while they last. Oh, damn right!! ... do you think it's a Piscean thing? I think it might be. We need new pretty things to keep us happy. Penny's a fish and she does it as well. So does my brother for that matter... [nods] Mght be it.... I get bored with the same old thing - I like new inspiration every now and then. [nods] Me too. The world is big and full of delights... I like to sample. [beg] mmmm...Chronicles of Riddick has grown on me: I wasn't too impressed the first time I saw it, but on a second viewing it's not that bad. Requires considerable suspension of disbelief, but that's OK. The characterisations are fairly sophisticated for such a film - and the sfx are terrific. There were, apparently, supposed to be two sequels: I assume they were never made because the first film wasn't a success. Which is a pity, I'd have liked to see what they might have done with the story. Eh well.
I had another parcel today, this one from Simone in Germany: three DVDs with old favourite Professionals episodes, and Rob Halford's Crucible CD! [GLOMPS Simone] Danke Shön! I shall look forwards to watching/listening very soon.
Earlyish night tonight, and even earlier tomorrow: need to be up at 6 am on Friday. Still haven't decided how best to organise my sleeping schedule (sleep, what a bloody waste of time!) around school/household needs, but I have no doubt it'll need to be flexible...
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
So, what's been happening...
Yesterday was very busy - shopping mostly, butcher and Sainsbug's. But I also did very well at the charity shops (St Pete's Hospice and the Briz Cat's charity): found a classic, tall, elegant pale blue glass vase, perfect for orchids, and a pair of 6' drop curtains in a lovely mixed mossy-olive green with gold flashes in a vaguely dragon-skin pattern. No, they don't match any of the rooms in the house - but that's not why I bought them.
Basically, I'm not keen on hunting for the curtain track things (the ones you sew onto the tops of curtains to put the curtain hooks through). Usually when I'm making curtains I take the old ones off and sew them to the new material, but the hall hasn't had any curtains for years, and I have no spare curtains in storage, hence the buying of second hand. One is slightly damaged, so I'm going to use the track for my curtains and the material for the part of the valance that goes under the mattress: the second curtain leave as it is so if I fancy a change in my room, which really needs redecorating, I'd have a single large curtain for the patio doors. Not bad for £3, ne?
Ken took Kai out to Wyevale the long way, through Victory Park and the fields, and along Ironmould Lane. They arrived back (rather later than I wished) bearing the Tesco shopping, a native sundew and a pitcher plant (for Kai, though no doubt I shall have to have a hand in caring for them), and an acanthus spinosa for me (one of my favourite plants!). Haven't quite decided where to plant it yet - it's very much a show plant and needs to be prominently displayed.
And today a parcel arrived from Australia!
[GLOMPS Lutra] All in a lovely black box with a silver ribbon (perfect for storing special cards: the current box is full): Muse's Showbiz (oh yes!), An Awfully Big Adventure DVD (Alan Rickman, yummm), lucky Chinese gold ingots (well, plastic replicas!), a bag of sweets (which lasted all of 10 minutes and were thoroughly enjoyed by all. I particularly liked the kiwi-fruit and watermelon flavoured ones...), postcards of a platypus and an echidna (monotremes!) from the Healesville Sanctuary, another incredibly cute one from Manifest 2006 (larger version below), and a chocolate Easter Bilby! [blink] How on earth am I supposed to eat something so damned cute!?
Thank you very much!
(Love the mochi-pounding rabbit! And the bonsai and go game on the table. And the very prominent Australia on the world in the background. But I'm not sure what the deal is with the two sprogs. Anyone have any idea?)
[sigh] I suppose I'd better think about sewing name tags in Kai's new school clothes...
Monday, August 21, 2006
Then there's that one for hair treatments - shampoo and conditioner? I'm honestly not sure: I mentally switch off when the hideous presumably-male disembodied voice with the American accent slags off the third woman, the blonde, with something along the lines of "You can fluff all you want but you'll still be flatter than a training bra!" Yeah, right, of course I'm going to run straight out and buy the product after being insulted by someone I want to hit with a brick!
But the weirdest has to be the one I saw the other night. At least, I think I saw it, rather than dreamt it. And I assume it was a real ad, rather than a spoof. Though actually it could have been a spoof... Two sophisticated older people having an intimate candlelit dinner with all the trimmings. All very posh. Until the punchline: they're eating new Spam with black pepper. (I've just googled it and it does exist, so presumably I didn't dream the advert...).
Now, to whom exactly is this ad supposed to appeal? OAPs? (Sorry - senior citizens.) Are the manufacturers trying to suggest that Spam is de rigeur for the discerning older individual? The advert certainly isn't going to gain them any younger customers! (And certainly not me, but then, I can't stand spam, vile, disgusting stuff that it is.)
[shakes head] I don't understand humans sometimes...
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I'm not a great aficionada of conspiracy theories - they're annoying to those of us who really know what's going on - but the video at the link Simone, a German friend, sent me today is fascinating. It goes through the events of 911 in great detail, and a lot of it is extremely compelling. I have to confess, watching the collapse of the twin towers at the time, it looked more to me like a controlled demolition than an attack, and the section about 20 minutes in, where the Pentagon attack is considered, is fascinating. And the firefighters reports are definitely thought-provoking.
Yes, I know it's easy to dismiss such things as sensationalism, but since it's almost impossible to believe anything 'official' that comes out of America these days, and wholly impossible to believe the US administration, there may be more truth to the details in the video than can be easily waved away. (Of course, one thing against its validity is the fact that it's online for anyone and everyone to watch if they so choose. At least, it was two hours ago when I went to see it. If it's vanished by the time you visit, perhaps there really is more to the matter than we think...)
You can find it here. It's in English with German subtitles (I couldn't find a purely English version) and is an hour and twenty one minutes long, though it didn't seem that long when I was watching it.
Danke Schön, Simone!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
... and yet more natural things...
Managed a nap this evening. Was woken at 11.23 by the sound of something smashing in the kitchen (Ryme was chasing a moth and knocked the cat sponge saucer off the windowsill), and came down to find K&K in the garden with binoculars. Looking at Uranus in Aquarius! It's just visible to my eyes, though astigmatically fuzzy of course, and the bins' are too heavy for me to hold still for more than a couple of seconds (dammit, we need a telescope), but it was still a wonderful sight.
Unfortunately the clouds rolled in before I was able to catch more than a glimpse of the larger fish of Pisces (the rough circle of stars above Aquarius) and I didn't manage to see M31 (Andromeda) at all, though I'm more confident now that I can find it. We'll try again another night - if we get a less cloudy sky.
In other news, I finally downloaded MailWasher Pro, and so far I can't praise it highly enough. It's extraordinarily easy to configure and use, though in our case it's necessitated taking Eudora off the 10 minute auto checking we had set up, as I haven't found a way to synchronise the two pieces of software. Then again, since MailWasher sits in the system tray and checks all my 17 accounts every 10 minutes and then flashes up a little envelope (with bubbles!) if there's mail, we don't need Eudora checking anyway: if there's mail to download we do it manually after MailWasher has stripped out the rubbish. At the moment I've left it on manual checking, but once the system has learned what's friend and foe, it can be configured to automatically check, bounce and delete spam without me even needing to see it! Absolute bliss. When my 30 day trial is up I shall buy it - $37 is nothing given how much time it's going to save me not to have to plough through the now 400+ bits of crap I get every day.
It's from New Zealand (so more trustworthy than American software, in my opinion) and the single account version is free.
Right! Off to the loom!
Friday, August 18, 2006
Of Natural Things...
Remember I mentioned we were supposed to have thunderstorms last night? Heh... I'd dropped off around 3 am to rumblings and intermittent rain. At 4 am I was woken by... not sure, actually. It could have been Quyn whimpering, or Argent leaping on the bed, or an excited/nervous Kai coming through, or, more likely, the almost continual spectacular flashes of lightning, and torrential rain slamming against the windows...
Never seen lightning like it, flare after flare after flare (interestingly, the thunder wasn't so impressive, relatively distant and muted). Kai didn't want to go back to bed - not scared, exactly, we all love storms - but it was definitely eerie. But everything slackened off after about 15 minutes, and he went back without complaint. Quyn stayed upstairs though, poor pooch was most alarmed, and that resulted in me being woken by his snoring (now louder than my father's, and you can hear that two rooms away!) at 8.30. [sigh] Still, I got the Dawkins chapter on amphibians read, so it wasn't wasted.
And Ken's galaxy arrived! He still had cash left over from his birthday money, found this (while looking for something else) and thought it would be a great idea! It's absolutely beautiful.
Kai wants the sun sculpture in the same series, and I'm strongly tempted by the universe ([grin] Anyone surprised?). We can get Kai his for Yule, but I'll have to wait for mine. Apparently the company are also planning a Saturn sculpture, when they can find someone to make it for them, so that will have to go on the list too.
In other news...
Tesco had the school trousers we needed: bought two pairs, one that are a perfect fit now, and another that will fit in a few months time if he carries on growing at the usual rate. £4.50 each, Teflon treated. They had a pair of weathered black jeans he liked too, and since his old ones are now flapping around his ankles I picked them up as well. And they had a pack of boxers with a white pair, so now all his shopping is done. Happy sprog!
The grass in the garden has turned from straw back to green overnight, and Roeg's Pool is full to overflowing. Such a relief.
So, what to do next...
Thursday, August 17, 2006
-> Kai finished his John Cabot homework bookmark today (after me saying he couldn't have a copy of my GIF Construction Set Professional software until after it was done. Tch'. Bribery or what?). It's good though - this is the Acrostic side (with mysteries spelt wrongly, which I didn't notice until after he'd put the sticky-backed plastic on it...)
<- And this is the other side. He's forgotten to draw the downward pointing arrow between the top picture and the bottom, but I think the meaning is still fairly obvious!
He spent most of the afternoon exploring GIF Construction Set - in fact, making his first animation. Earlier in the week he'd painstakingly made 204 frames of an EWS locomotive moving from left to right, which he was able to operate as a sort of slideshow in Irfanview, but not as a proper animation. GCSPro sorted that out for him, though it was a bit of a long process: the original files were huge and crashed the programme until we tried creating it bit by bit. It's quite impressive. It's also 8 megs big so I won't be uploading it!
But he's beginning to grasp the idea of reducing the number of frames and making the individual files smaller, and no doubt we'll be seeing lots of animations in the near future.
Me, I cleared my table ready for a curtain and valance sewing session: will bring my machine down tomorrow. We have thunderstorms forecast for Friday (there's been rumbles already tonight) and rain on Saturday, so I may make a start in the morning. Maybe. As you know it's not my favourite occupation, though it would be nice to have it done...
Though that'll probably be after a trip to Tesco, since we didn't manage to make it today. Still have trousers to get - and, as I remembered today, white boxers to wear under the stupidly translucent white nylon PE shorts that are part of the uniform. White, I ask you. [sigh] Who decides these things? I swear they're in cahoots with the laundry detergent manufacturers.
... well that was... fun...
I have good - and wide - peripheral vision. Usually this is a good thing. Like half an hour ago, when I thought I saw something over to my right. Turning to check, I saw it was a very big spider sitting on the open curtain that spans the doorway between my room and the lounge.
It was a tegenaria (I still want to call them stegosauruses...), and when I say big, I'm not joking. Rosa (the tarantula) would easily overlap the palm of my hand, and this thing was almost as big, though of course a lot skinnier. Biggest 'wild' spider I've ever seen, and I have seen a few. And talk about fast! I had to get Ken out of bed to help catch the bloody thing. No, of course I wasn't going to sit here working with that running loose! I've had spiders drop on my shoulder and run over my feet in the past, and regardless of my fairly recent appreciation of them, I don't find it a pleasant experience.
[sigh] Ever tried to catch a big fast spider on a curtain? It would have been funny had it not been so infuriating.
Eh well, it's out now, well up the garden. I do hope this isn't a sign of things to come, though; we've had hardly any spiders invade since we had the cavity wall insulation done several years ago.
Right - Kai's white trainers finally bought, as is his towel for after-sports showers. Just his school trousers to pick up and that's the lot. No frantic scrambling at the last minute, and Kai's had plenty of time to ease into the new mindset. He's really excited - though I can imagine how knackered and grumpy he's going to be at the end of the first eight week term!
Found on The Funny Farm - Star Trek Inspirational Posters!
EXPENDABILITY Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Ricky are beaming down to the planet. Guess who's not coming back.Who could resist?
Our 2010 DVD arrived today (cheap from play.com); an old favourite. I can never read those words
Back to the loom.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
[bemused] There's something awfully cute about taking your son shopping for school stuff and having him insist on choosing it himself. Of course, we ended up buying a 12 inch Animal (site is Flash) pencil case at twice the price of the others, a nifty rich blue pencil sharpener (the enclosed sort that catches all the shavings) and a flippy-flexible 12 inch ruler, but he's happy with it all (it's 'cool'), and at least the fountain pen/rollerball set was a cheap Berol. And the shop (Woolworth's) had 75p economy, short, white and most importantly logoless sports socks as well, so we were both happy.
He was great for the whole day, actually, not complaining in the least about anything (normally he hates shopping, even for himself), and we managed to get his football boots, and school shoes (from Clarks) as well as all the stationery.
We'd planned to get up to the Korean supermarket but the Gloucester Rd was gridlocked, so we gave up on that and went up to Forbidden Planet instead.
Stopped at Brandon Hill for a late lunch, where the squirrel came to investigate what we were eating and was very happy to accept bits of bread from Kai's roll. Sprog charged around for a bit while I rested - legs aching by the time we'd done everything.
All in all it was a very successful day. We managed to pick up Fruits Basket 6 and 7 (which, I've just discovered on going to grab them to read while I run a scan, sprog has taken up to bed with him the cheeky little brat), and I found this small but beautiful Sephiroth figure (no Vincent, unfortunately) which I couldn't resist.
In other news...
Forgot to mention I was so impressed with the new version of ewido I bought it when the trial period ran out. Peace of mind for 42 pence a week? Oh yes. Also intend evaluating MailWasherPro this week - I am so sick of spam. It's increasing again - up to about 300 pieces of crap a day, the bulk of it from spoofed yahoo addresses (got so bad I've set up a filter to reply with a message and then delete, so if anyone's sent me a legit email from any yahoo addie I won't have received it). If the software's as good as it looks I shall buy that too.
There's a new version of Alchemy Mindworks GIF Construction Set Professional available. I've been using the old version since 1999, and always found it sturdy and stable, so have bought version 3 (half price because I had v2). It's been a while since I've done any animations: it might be fun to try some again... Now there's a thought - an animation of Jaid (from SirenSong) would be interesting to attempt...
Ken had a hospital appointment last week - we're now waiting for the results of his latest blood test.
And lastly (I should have mentioned this last week but kept forgetting): Kai had a New Forest ice cream while out with Adrian on holiday, strawberry flavoured with strawberry ripple. He thoroughly enjoyed it - but the instruction on the lid had him laughing. "Store below -18C Gluten Free Not Suitable for Unsupervised Children"... [blink] Huh? We're talking ice cream, not bloody hydrochloric acid! Is this the nanny state gone to extremes?
Actually, we decided it must be because it comes with a small spoon under the lid. Danger of choking I suppose. Doesn't stop it sounding plain daft though!
I'm knackered again. Having a really early night tonight, and carrying on reading Dawkins. Still have to get white trainers with white soles for Kai, so taking him over to Avon Meads tomorrow morning to see if I can get some at JJB Sports. I think I shall be glad when the term starts and I can establish some sort of routine again, I've managed sod-all writing this last month, and you know how grumpy that leaves me...
Monday, August 14, 2006
... treading water...
Relaxed day today. I've now reached the monotremes (the egg-laying mammals) section of The Ancestor's Tale - about 190 million years ago. This book is very difficult to put down! Much of the rest of the day was spent pottering and tidying up (both house and computer), and making a list of everything we still have to get for Kai for John Cabot, in preparation for a full day in town tomorrow (we'll use FirstBus and get everything done in one trip if at all possible). Blimey, only ten more days and he starts!
Yesterday we dragged ourselves down to the Sunday market and picked up a new rucksack for him. Their prices have increased by a pound per item, though since all the stall-holders have to drive trucks to the place I can't say I'm that surprised. It's still the cheapest place around.
Tired. Debating an early night. Sorry Sue, will get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, the shorts are now posted to JAT, with my thanks.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
And we saw five big, beautiful meteors, clear slashes across the sky. Kai was bubbling with excitement and wouldn't stop talking - it's the first time he's actually seen them. It's a pity we couldn't stay out longer, but it was growing rather cold, the moon was almost in view, and there were clouds building. Even so, it was a fine show.
While we were waiting we also watched about 9 different satellites go over. One of them was very dramatic: it suddenly brightened until it was just about the brightest thing in the sky, then almost immediately faded again. Apparently this happens when sunlight hits the solar panels just right, and is not all that common. Quite an alarming sight!
All in all a fine fun day.
Additional log added to the scramble.
Friday, August 11, 2006
[sigh] Strawberry jam just doesn't do the trick when you're fancying a marmite sandwich. Better add it to the shopping list.
More garden work. The dilapidated ancient wood that was sort-of still marking the boundary of the old compost heap is now broken up (mostly by Kai, who's thoroughly enjoying himself with hammer and screwdriver!), the conifer pruned and transplanted, one miniature rose moved, and a bucket of comfrey leaves marinading in water to make liquid fertiliser for next year (my job that - Ken's allergic to comfrey, it blisters his skin). Still to do - shifting stones around the rockery, digging up a clump of lemon balm and spare woody nightshade and moving the helichrysum to its new position, transplanting the heathers to the rockery slope, deciding where to put the St John's wort which has re-emerged after disappearing for several years, and planting the prunus. (photo) Not as clear as it could be, but you might be able to make out the dried brown leaves and dehydrated dead buds on the lower branches. There's tiny fresh green leaves appearing on the upper branches though - I'm optimistic it'll thrive.
It's an old thing, I think, but I hadn't tried it before. Found on the Daily Linguini
Randomly pick a song from your music library Find the lyrics for the first four verses/chorus Go to Google Translation and translate the lyrics from English into German Take the new German lyrics and translate them into French Take the new French lyrics and translate them back into English Post the NEW English lyrics and have people guess the original song.So I tried it, and ended up with this:
It lasts the time to him which forms the reasons all Hurt justifies towards the interior assumption, they to smile knows and the sight with its eyes of each one received a bitter theory on lesquel you say that "Mamma did not like him much" and, "dad never remains in a relation that is never, why it packs you far however some share shies the leaning human one" in a private place it bags for space and now waits them until the right type of pilot comes and it says to him me with the moon and to the back would fly, if you are... If you are my baby received a chart for a world, in which we belong you my baby would be thus? It cannot point out a time, when it necessarily smelled if the love were then red, was it all her friends is it betrayed tested and the crimes which never definite it says, "loves is like unfruchtbarer a place and outside for the human faith is reaching as a voyage which I precisely do not have a diagram for" thus of the babies which goes, plunging to take and the shift with the course at high speed presses on a signal sends which hangs it all it hopes on stars that the pleasant dream would steal the color curtain me you to the moon and the back, if you are..., if you did my baby is receive a chart for a world, in which we belong you my baby would be thus?Um, yes, well. Not overly difficult, I'd have thought....
Loom! I hear it calling! I go...
Quick note - the holiday photo galleries are now up (just a few of the best pics out of several hundred!) Find 'em here.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
This is Kai's old swing. And I do mean old. We bought it the year he was born (I think, though it might have been the year after) because I'm a firm believer in every child having a swing in their garden - if there's room, of course. We hung a baby swing seat for him to start with, switching to the child seat you can see here a couple of years later. He and his friends have had enormous fun on it over the last 10 years, but it's only guaranteed for children up to eight, and I've been increasingly worried over the last couple of years that it was dangerous (and I was proved right later, when we found that one of the struts had rusted completely through just below ground level and snapped on removal).
(Photo taken 1998) When we cut down the willow -> in 2002, we saved a number of sections of her trunk and they've been marking the wall of Kai's 'den' under the elder by the wall ever since - which I thought was a little bit of a waste. So when we decided (read, I finally convinced K&K) the swing had to go, I suggested we drag out the logs and stumps and see if we could make some sort of scramble-gym type thing for Kai, who loves jumping around on logs/rocks. The idea was met with great enthusiasm and yesterday afternoon saw Kai out with stool, hammer, screwdrivers and spanners dismantling the rusty old thing (the swing, that is, not his dad... I have photos but neither of them want me to post them here, sorry).
And this is what it looks like now. The stumps are fairly well wedged in place with bricks, enough to stop them rolling, and Kai is very pleased. So am I - it's much less of an eyesore than the swing!
I prepared some of the planters I plan to use next year as well - the old compost heap is almost empty now, ready to have the big conifer moved. I'm not happy with it by Roeg's Pool, and it's looking decidely unhealthy, so we're going to lift it, prune it back to the last bit of green, and see if it comes on again. Going to move the helichrysum to sit a little further back from where the conifer was, which hopefully will let enough light get to the paeony to allow it to bloom (because it's only just hanging on as it is.) We also moved the goldflame spirea further up the garden, where it'll get more light. I used the hose to water for the first time in two years. And then we were knackered.
When I got back from shopping today I found Kai watching the Fruits Basket DVDs - in the original Japanese with the subtitles! I'm so pleased he prefers to make himself work to read the subtitles and get a feel for the language rather than take the easy way out and watch the dubbed version. [proud]
And Ken bought me home a present from Focus: a very poorly prunus incisa Kojo no Mai, half price (£4) because it's in such a sorry state. But then, so was my acer when I bought that, and it's doing very nicely now. The prunus needs to be a display plant really, haven't quite decided where it'll go yet, but it'll probably end up close to Roeg's Pool. Photos to come.
And lastly - you've probably heard of outdoor loos, but this is just daft!
Back to the loom.
[bemused] Blogger's spell-check suggested replacing Kai with kazoo, daft with deft, and helichrysum with wheelchair...
A quick post - I'm completely knackered. There'll be more tomorrow, plus a couple of photos of the garden work accomplished today, but I want to get this posted now.
I know there are a few Briz dwellers who read this blog. Please would you check out Save Castle Park and sign the petition there? (In fact, even if you don't live here but have visited the place, please consider signing too.) Castle Park is a wonderful, historic green resource for the city, and the thought of it being built on is horrifying. The Park has a particular romantic resonance for us: when Ken and I were still working for BT we used to meet up and eat our lunches there every day (especially in the winter when it was dry) in the herb-garden outside the ruinous church, and feed the mice bits of bread. The path that leads from the top of Union St to Bristol Bridge is so beautiful in the spring, with the avenue of trees to either side in full bloom, and so many many people would miss the space if it was no longer there...
We have little enough open green space in the city centre - this one must be saved. Please, spread the word.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Now, why would I be dreaming about buying new shoes? Not even particularly practical ones, either - heeled sandals, the softest dark russet leather laced across the instep (but not adjustable, which all my footwear needs to be) and fabulously comfortable.
There was a sleek, silky, bias-cut dark russet skirt to go with them (I don't do skirts!) and a soft, flowing top (in a vivid green, I think). And a shoulder bag to match the sandals.
A similar outfit to the one in the previous night's dream, which had to do with meeting Ewan McGregor in an up-market and very exclusive bar-restaurant... [blink] Ewan McGregor? Hardly my type! (Now, Alan Rickman, that's a different matter. But not giving me advice about bloody decorating, thank you very much...)
All very strange. Perhaps I'm telling myself I need a change of image - or at least to smarten up a little. After all, some fairly big changes are about to happen, with Kai starting secondary school. And regardless of how little appearance means to me personally, I'd rather Kai wasn't teased because of how I look. Will ponder that one for a while.
I took him over to the Showcase Cinema's cheapo Tuesday this afternoon, to catch Over the Hedge before it finishes its run. We enjoyed it more than we'd expected: undemanding, a little slapstick, some gentle moralising... yes, it was OK, though hardly the most memorable film this year. Next Tuesday it'll probably be Cars, in the absence of anything more inspiring. The only thing that might be at all interesting that we haven't yet caught is Superman Returns, but Kai hasn't seen any of the previous films (he watched a couple of eps of Smallville, but only to catch the tornadoes...) so has no comparison or backstory, and quite frankly I find Superman as boring as hell. Only film I half-way liked was the 'Evil Superman' one. I mean, where's the interest in an invulnerable, over-grown, goodie-goodie boy scout? Though I gather the new film has a slightly different interpretation. Eh, we'll probably rent it when it comes out. And is no longer in the top films (= more expensive rental) slot.
I was bitten twice again last night in the garden, though luckily this time it was by the insect whose bite just itches unbearably rather than the really nasty one. Picked up some of the GoodTwin-recommended anti-histamine cream from Boots, which has done the trick, and mixed up a home-made repellent (essential oils of lavender, peppermint and lemongrass in witch-hazel, diluted with water - courtesy of The Fragrant Pharmacy. Should have had red thyme oil too but I don't have any) to spray on before venturing out of an evening. Blasted bugs...
Did I mention I did a couple of drawings while on holiday? Illustrations - Meriel and Jaid - for last year's Sirensong story. Not particularly great, and it'll be a while before I can get around to colouring them, but I'll add them to the story when they're done.
I haven't created the galleries yet either. Soon though...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Quick catch up on the rest of the holiday...
On the Friday GoodTwin and I took Kai to see Stormbreaker.
Well, I suppose I can say I enjoyed it for what is was - an expensive, shallow action movie for kids. But I can't understand why they hired such a fantastic all-star cast then failed to use them to any real advantage: the acting wasn't exactly inspired, and barely adequate in some places - especially Missi Pyle, who played Nadia Vole about as realistically as a cartoon character. And I do mean cartoon, not anime. Still, it was nice to see Sayle realistically portrayed as the stereotypical American...
Kai was disappointed: the film left out a number of his favourite (and most exciting) parts of the book, and added supposedly-exciting bits instead, which in his opinion just spoiled it (the Nadia/Jack sequence in particular, I think, which was just farcical). He wasn't impressed with the acting either. And yes, I got his reactions before I voiced my own, so I wasn't trying to influence him!
It remains to be seen whether he asks for the DVD when it comes out.
Afterwards we trotted off to FabricLand for me to hunt for material - successfully, as it happens: I have some lovely ice-blue faux silk, slightly thinner than the Range but very similar colour, for the hall curtains, and a whackin' great long piece of gorgeous forest green suedette for the valance, awfully posh. And I felt a right pillock when idly commenting, as you do, that I'd visited them from Briz especially to buy the material - and the assistant asked if their Bristol store had sold out... Irritating thing is, once she'd described where it is, I know it - just along from the blue glass Spectrum building on Bond St/Newfoundland Road, been past it umpteen times in the bus. Eh well, I can get there easily enough when I next need material.
On Saturday Sue came over and Adrian took Kai out for the day, for several rides on a miniature railway and for a walk along the beach. And a wonderful fun time was had by all! (It was after Kai had gone to bed that we played Who Wants to be a Millionaire?)
Today has been restful. We've planted the pyracantha where the apple tree was, and I've renewed my battle against the bindweed. I am winning, honestly. But it's going to take a couple more years to get rid of it completely. I've also winnowed out the photos that will be going into galleries, but not actually started creating them yet - still tired, maybe tomorrow.
For now, back to the loom - reminding myself of where I'd left everyone in the current works...
Monday, August 07, 2006
... no, s'no good, too tired to blog... Doesn't seem to have mattered what time I got to bed this last week, I always woke up at 8.34 am (except for today, when I woke at 8.26 am). Which, while great from an expeditionary point of view, has left me more than a little glaikit. Hands are hurting too. They had stopped, but I very stupidly carried our bags and my heavy rucksack downstairs myself this morning, and now everything's all painful and swollen again. I'd like to say it'll teach me to ask next time, but I know it won't.
Eh well. With a little luck a few days taking it easy will work its magic.
There are a lot of photos to organise. It's a thoroughly daunting task: I'm daunted I tell you, positively daunted. I shall probably have to try to remember how to set up a PhotoShop gallery and let the software handle it - be a damn sight quicker and less stressful than doing it manually. Maybe tomorrow.
The run home was very pleasant. Stopped at Porton to pick up Rosa's crickets, then at Stonehenge for rolls for lunch (as you can probably see from the photo, the Virgin balloon was also there, taking people on very short up-and-down jaunts to photograph the henge from the air). Arrived in Briz about 4-ish (I think, haddock's just leapt out the window): Quyn was very pleased to see us (and me in particular - doesn't want to move too far from my side, bless him). The kits - well, it's nice we're back but only Raptor was bothered. But then, that's cats. They own you, not the other way around.
So... the holiday emails are mostly sorted now (lovely innit? Ken deleted the 200+ obvious spam I get every day, and moved everything else into the temp 'holiday mail' box. There were still almost 200 messages in it, most of them of sod-all interest or use. I think I only had four real messages the whole time I've been away. Which is actually very good...), the new version of ICQ is downloaded and installed, photographs have been transferred and burned to back-up, and I've finally caught up with the comics and blogs. Going to go fall over soon - and hope I wake up at the now-usual time. This last week I've spent the hour before getting up reading The Ancestor's Tale: I'd originally borrowed it from Ken to just dip into here and there, to gain a better perspective of evolution.
Heh. Should have known better. By the time I was three pages into the first chapter I was hooked, and am now reading it right through. It's wholly fascinating, even if I am having to read some parts of it a couple of times to make sure I understand what he's talking about. It's an accessible book, perhaps not exactly easy-reading (except in a Hermione Granger sense), engagingly honest, and the style - well, it pontificates without being patronising. Which sounds impossible, but somehow Dawkins makes it work. It certainly appeals to me - I want to read more of his work.
The hot-air dryers in the female loos at the Swan Center, Eastleigh, mooo at you when you use them. It doesn't matter how crowded with grockles Stonehenge is, it always feels perfectly calm and serene. British cloudscapes are simply beautiful - lucent, opalescent, endlessly tantalising. GoodTwin had a PC-ROM version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which we played after watching the weekend's ep on TV. And I was one question short of winning £1,000,000 - but I thought that a corbeil was a bird, architecturally speaking. It isn't, it's a basket of flowers. Damn. Eh well, at least it wasn't real money... Tower fans are absolutely the business when it's that hot. Haddock fly, no matter how tightly you try to rein them in.Many thanks to GoodTwin and Adrian for a wonderful holiday!
More from me tomorrow...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
So Kai got to look all around the Lord Nelson, stand in the cab and have a good chat about the operation and controls, walk through a carriage in the process of being refurbished, then ride up and down a short section of track in a little shunter, and finally watch the steam train being driven out of the renovation shed and along the line a little way. Oh happy sprog! He says he'll never forget this holiday.
(There will be more photos later: Adrian took this one.)
Right - first of all I have to properly credit Adrian for taking yesterday's otter photos: I did take loads of my own but his were better, as is his camera, so I borrowed!
Today - Didcot Railway Centre.
What a fabulous place! Trains, trains and more trains, very hands on, to Kai's joy. We went home with one very grubby child...
The steam train we rode on!
(I took about 100: will try to make a page or two of the best when I get home.)
Kai and Adrian took a look around Pendon Railway Museum, which they enjoyed, while GoodTwin and I went to Notcutts garden centre (picked up a pyracantha with glorious orange autumn berries and tomato and courgette seeds for next year). A grand day out!
Decided not to go to Chessington tomorrow - having a quieter day.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006