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!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Happy Samhain and Happy New/Celtic/Dark YearWell that was relatively painless...
On the Kai front: I keep hearing lots of names of people he's made friends with and now sits with on the bus, which is wonderfully heartening. I have hopes that we might actually meet some in the near future (although not having a car is likely to be a handicap, as I can't give them lifts home. Hm. Might have to rethink that. Although I believe a couple of them live near.) This makes me particularly happy as Kai's last two attempts to invite Matt 'round have been unsuccessful; the first time they said they'd ring back and didn't, and the second time the phone was picked up, but no-one spoke...
On the Ken front: his schedule for today was,
11.45am - Harbour Bookshop, Dartmouth for 12 noon signing 3.15pm - Torbay Bookshop, Paignton for 3.30pm signing 5.45pm - Flavel, Dartmouth for 6pm book launch 7.30pm - Ghost walk 8.30pm - Dinner at the Embankment Restaurant, Dartmouth (with Richard Webb, the publisher) 10.00pm - John Govier, BBC Radio Devon, Hallowe`en vigilWish I could have been there.
On the me front: I have managed bugger all writing this last week, and it's making me exceedingly grumpy. Though now the haddock have reversed direction again should help. A bit. I hope. Or perhaps not. Combinations of exhaustion, ill health and additional responsibilities have meant less ICQ time for Lutra and myself, which hasn't helped. And at a complete tangent, isn't it disappointing when you hare off to a blog with a beautiful, evocative name and find it's mundane and boring?
Eh well. No use moaning about the situation, just have to get on and change it.
On which note - off to the loom...
(Is anyone else having problems getting blogger's spell-checker to work?)
Ah, that's better - 7 hours sleep, that'll do for a bit...
It was actually cold at 6am, and I finally wore a sweatshirt this morning to see Kai off to school and pick up the last of the shopping. An incredibly old, thin, worn sweatshirt, admittedly, with the sleeves shoved up to the elbows, but it wasn't a t-shirt. I am still in sandals though...
It's gorgeous now - bright sun and cool blustery wind, and I'm trying to get the house reasonably tidy for Samhain (which mostly involves doing any washing that's in the laundry basket and making sure all the rubbish is taken out. Oh, and vacuuming, which I hate and which makes my hands hurt.) We aren't doing anything special this year: Kai isn't fussed. I think he thinks he's too old for dressing up now!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Stress-related lack of sleep - combination of having problems closing down last night (my fault, but still panic-inducing since I wasn't sure I'd be able to boot up this morning), being worried I'd sleep through the alarm, and Quyn, being very cute and protective and sleeping on the floor at the end of the bed, waking me up with his snoring...
Still, got up in plenty of time to get Kai off, managed a major shop (and found lots of goodies on special, like a Sainsbug's half-price Gressingham duck further reduced because it was close to sell-by date, and Tesco's packs of two duck legs, usually £2.44 per pack, now at £3 for two packs - practically a BOGOF. And before you ask, yes I am still occasionally using Tesco: they stock a few essentials that Sainsbug don't carry, alas...), computer booted up OK, though it had logged a serious error before fixing it, and while I was out Denis delivered the doors to the kitchen cabinets ready for me to paint. With a bit of luck he might be able to put them up next week!
Ken's two radio interviews went well today, too. And even Kai enjoyed his first day back at school! So all in all not a bad Monday.
And last night's Torchwood... [fiercly resisting the urge to write some Captain Jack fanfic] It's fantastic to finally have good, adult sci-fi on the box!
spooks in an hour and a half (then an hour and a half after that) , then another attempt at an early night. Given how hard it is to keep my eyes open it shouldn't be too hard...
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Kai back to school tomorrow: early night and up at 6. Torchwood ep 3 in 50 mins...
Saturday, October 28, 2006
[bleurgh] Had to get up early this morning. Ken's friend Tony arrived last night, to take him up to Manchester today...
Let me start again. Ken is off to Dartmouth this week, for a frenzy of book signing/radio interviews/ghost walks to promote Dartmouth Ghosts & Mysteries. He has to dive around all over the place to make all the appointments, and of course we don't have transport (not that it would be much use if we did as Ken can't drive). Organising lifts and places to stay has been a logistical nightmare. However, it so happened that Tony wanted to go to a Gnostic Mass in Manchester, and asked if he could stay overnight Friday and Saturday to break the journey. And invited Ken to go with him...
Mm. Apparently the organisation is more Templar than Masonic, according to Ken. Personally I don't particularly care: I've always viewed them as boy's toys, a way for supposedly grown men to indulge themselves in their fantasies of secret societies. And I really have no patience with anything that smacks of 'ritual magic'. But Ken has an abiding interest in the Templars, so (after I cooked them a sturdy breakfast of sausages, bacon, baked beans, hash browns, fried eggs and lashings of mushrooms) at just after 9 am off they pootled 'oop North'.
They're now on the way back. It took them five hours to get there, by the time Tony had negotiated Manchester city centre and found a multi-storey, and I'm rather hoping it won't take them that long to get back or they won't arrive til midnight, and Ken was tired before he started. His back has been playing up again just recently as well.
Tomorrow Tony drives back down to Devon with Ken. It's all going to be a little hectic!
[bemused] Ever dreamed a song? Not one that actually exists, but one you've created in your head? It's happened to me twice, first time several years ago, when I dreamed The Cowboy Song, a sort of C&W travelogue that named every state in the USA (I tried desperately to remember the words when I woke, but could only write down the first line and a half before it all drifted away) and then again last night. [sigh] But all I can remember of it is the last line of the chorus - "Late at night, come out of the cupboard and play!" No, I have no idea what it was about. Catchy sort of tune though, if the snippet I can remember is anything to go by.
Back to the loom...
Happy Birthday Sue!
Friday, October 27, 2006
The day before yesterday we ordered an HP K550 colour printer from PC World (half-price on clearance plus free delivery, 5-7 working days). This morning it arrived...
Well, I can see why it was on clearance. It's a big brute, surprisingly noisy, and all it does is print - which is exactly what we want it for: I have the separate Canon scanner and software, which allows a form of photocopying. I may be old-fashioned, but I like to have specific devices for specific purposes - which is why I have both DVD/CD reading and DVD/CD burning drives in the new machine, and have so far refused to consider a combination TV/DVD player (though one for Kai for his room would be nice, perhaps).
ANYway... it takes separate cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink cartridges, which we hope will cut down on the necessity of replacing the colour ink too often - though to my disappointment they seem rather small. Unless that's just the free ones that come with the machine: keeping fingers crossed.
So here's the new desk setup! Not that different to the old, really, but it's much nicer to work at.
Lovely, lovely day. The forecast last night was for rain, but that changed this morning and we were told that after a dull start we'd have clouds and sunny intervals - so we headed off at midday for Temple Meads (Kai decided yesterday he wanted to go on a train...) Both journeys were on Intercity 125s, alas: we were hoping for the slower Alphaline trains so we could enjoy the scenery a little more, but can't be helped.
Pulteney Bridge. ->
One of only three mediaeval bridges in Europe with shops on them (one of the others is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence - I have a photo of that taken from a window of the Uffizi Gallery, but the scanner's not installed yet so can't post the pic - the other one I can't remember!)
The original intention was to go to the Antique Market and several second-hand bookshops, but as we came out of Parade Gardens Kai spotted the open-topped City Tour buses and pleaded to go on one...
<- looking away from Pulteney Bridge along Parade Gardens.
Well, I'd said earlier today it's good to be spontaneous on occasion... and actually it's not such a bad deal, £9.50 for two tours (for me: Kai went free, though that might have been because it's autumn, and the visitor trade has dropped off, and the buses weren't very busy...) City and Skyline, which goes up to Bath University and has gorgeous views out over the valley and the city. No photos though, I'm afraid. One of the beauties of Bath is its vegetation - which unfortunately, or not depending on your pov, tends to get in the way of the camera and leave you with the most tantalising glimpses of the beautiful place between the trees. And the bus was travelling quite fast. I did manage to get this though, as we were heading up towards the Uni -
If I remember rightly, that's Widcombe Crescent up on the right, unusual in that it was built with its back (the façade you can just about make out) to the city: all of the other crescents face the city, including the Royal Crescent. Apparently Johnny Depp has just bought two of the houses there. Seems there's a half-Olympic sized swimming pool in the sub-basement of one of them. Unless our tour guide was joking.
[sigh] Depp aside, I love Bath, it's one of my favourite cities...
We didn't have time to do anything more, the tours took two hours, and I really didn't fancy trying to get on the X39 back from Temple Meads in the rush hour. But we both thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it was a little cold on the top of the bus, in October, in a t-shirt and sandals...
Purely off at a tangent, I've just eaten a nuked Ginsters Chicken and Mozzarella bake, and it was most delicious, hot and spicy and wonderfully comforting on a cold night. I do like Ginsters products.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
[growl] The first thing we did on setting up (well, OK, not quite the first thing, but it was close) was to change the monitor brightness - we reduced it to (that's to, not by) 13%. Even that is a little bright for my eyes. But worse was the horrifying discovery that the Haadri site looks bloody awful at anything but the darkest setting: my painstakingly created twinkling animation looks horrible. I had a go at making another animation today, but I can't get the same tiny flickering lens flare effect as in the original. Not sure why, unless it's because I created it in far bigger frames then reduced the size before running them through Alchemy... come to think of it, that's probably what I did. It was originally made back before many people had broadband and I tried to keep the memory size as low as possible so it would load more quickly.
The galaxy image looks dreadful too.
Tch'. That means a lot more work. Eh well - it's important. I'll see if I can get it done over the weekend. Ken took Kai to the Museum today: tomorrow I'm taking him to Bath on the train!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Ryme and Argent (Raptor was on Wendy's lap). They can be so cute sometimes...
So, let's see. Yesterday was mostly spent engaged in a little more tidying up. PhotoShop and Alchemy Mindworks are both now installed (and wheeeeeee! - PS opens in sixteen seconds as opposed to the two minutes it took on the old machine... [happy sigh]) The last of the files have now been archived or transferred onto Butch (which is a relief, as it took Ken about fifteen attempts this morning to boot up). Now we can retire the machine completely and let Kai take it to pieces (not the hard drive, we're keeping that for security's sake).
Today Wendy came up for the day; we talked and had DVDs on - Prehistoric Park, X3 and Shaun of the Dead, all most enjoyable. (It was wonderful to see you again and catch up on the news - and fingers crossed you get your computer problems sorted out asap.) Ken took Kai to see Hoodwinked at the Showcase: sprog thoroughly enjoyed it (not sure about Ken...)
Torchwood was repeated tonight, so we let Kai stay up for the first episode. I think he liked it... [beg] Haven't seen the anticipated fanfic yet. (Oh, the correct quote is "Never doing that again..." but I was close.)
RIGHT! Back to the loom. What to tackle first...
Monday, October 23, 2006
Of Sounds, and Captain Jack Harkness...So there I was, Windows Media Player newly installed, old speakers plugged in (using them because PC World didn't have the ones I wanted on Friday and I didn't want to spend a fortune on more expensive ones. [happy grin] To my delight the Matrix Twins figures sit perfectly on top of them!) trying to get the things to work - because, as you probably know, I tend not to read instructions unless it's really necessary, because they make my brain hurt... It's quite cute really, a brightly coloured window pops up when you plug any of the little jacks into a socket, highlighting a little picture of the socket and asking you what you've plugged into it (no, you can't just type what you want, you have to choose from a list). So I said 'rear speakers' (because they plug into the rear of the stack, not the front) and tried playing Winamp. No sound from the speakers, just the monitor.
[growl] OK, I'm doing something wrong. Opened the Realtek audio window again and had a bit of a hunt around (discovering in the process that you can play music from a wide variety of virtual environments, including a sewer pipe, underwater, a forest - sound of the wind over the music - and a padded cell!) and finally found the bit where you specify your setup: headphones only, monitor speakers only, those plus 2 additional speakers (my setting), right the way up to 8 speaker surroundsound for the Adrians of this world...
Got the speakers working (they're not bad, much better than came with the HP machine. Can't remember now whether they're Advent or IBM, but the sound is great), and then discovered that I have 6 different volume controls: the master panel, the Realtek panel, on the speakers themselves, on the Winamp pane, on the WMP pane, and on the monitor itself (though those only affect the monitor speakers). And all but the speaker volume knobs are onscreen controls. Spoilt for choice? Oh yes. But it's possible to get exactly the volume and tone you want, so I'm very happy with it. Now I just need some decent headphones...
'Time to download MusicMatch', thought I, merrily googling the site. Frowning slightly when it said Yahoo Jukebox, but thinking it was probably me not keeping up with current events. Downloaded and hit install - and got an error message flash up too fast for me to read it, though I did see WMP mentioned. Tried to abort the installation: popup message said abort had been successful, but the bloody thing carried on installing anyway.
Reached the end, asked if I wanted to restart to finish the installation - no I bloody well didn't! Tried to boot up WMP to check what had happened, only to find it completely bollixed. And for the first time in years I hadn't set a restore point before installing.
Resigned myself to probably having to set up again from scratch and went in hunt of the restore point option - only to find that this version of XP doesn't just set an automatic restore point every three or so days (like the old machine did) and whenever you create one, but also apparently sets restore points every time you install something from the hard drive. At any rate, I was able to go back to when I closed down at whatever ungodly hour that was this morning, undo the damage and set up WMP again.
Apart from that everything has gone very smoothly today: transferred all my mp3s across (using Ken's 1gig pendrive: took four trips), installed ftp and copied across the rest of my files, and discovered that the Sonic CD burning software on here also rips mp3s (as well as offering video and audio editing and a host of other functions I haven't had time to explore yet), so I don't actually need MusicMatch anymore. Happy now.
And I disabled the CAPSLOCK button on my keyboard. No more accidental CAPSLOCK OF RAGE for me, oh no! It will have to be DELIBERATE CAPSLOCK OF RAGE in future. (The keyboard also has a nifty little zoom slider at the side, which will enlarge the type in some windows with a flick of the finger. Very handy for reading the keyboard help screen, which has been produced in something like font size -3.5...) Even my desk is beginning to look half-way normal again (if you can call having Vaako and Mathayus threatening each other with ruddy great swords and halberds normal. It is here.)
(No, we didn't get to the Organic Orchard open day - I did give Kai the choice but it's rained all day and he decided he'd rather not.)
NightSilvered is now finished and begging a slew of followup fics. Which is nice, actually, quite relaxing after all the recent stress.
And Captain Jack Harkness? [big evil grin] No spoilers for those who haven't caught Torchwood yet (we saw the first two episodes tonight and are gripped, I tell you, gripped. We think that Kai can watch the first ep when it repeats on Wednesday, but perhaps not the second. He's a bit 'yuck' about sex at the moment and I don't want to embarrass him) but I can't wait to see what fanfics that 'never again' comment produces!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
It's dead whizzy. I've called it Butch. And hardly anything went wrong. Well, the third of the five recovery disks failed and I had to make another, but that was the CD rather than the software, I think. We followed all the instructions exactly, and everything installed easily (though I had to dig out the installation disk for the tablet, as the pre-installed driver thought my A4 tablet was postcard sized). It's very unnerving though - the stack is practically silent, no whirring fans - and the screen res is going to take some getting used to as well, at 1440x900.
It's taken nine hours so far, but the first two of those I spent clearing and cleaning the room and my desk. I still have to install ftp, PS, MusicMatch and a handful of other programmes, the scanner (can't install the old HP printer, unfortunately, it's a serial - or is it parallel? I can never remember - interface and the new machine has no serial (or parallel) ports, but we were planning to buy a new printer anyway) and transfer the rest of the old files, but all the important stuff is now on here and working just fine as far as I can tell.
And I'm chuffed. The tech really is pretty much idiot-proof these days, and while I'm not exactly an idiot, it was very nice to have it made so easy.
The keyboard is lovely - and I got it wrong, it is wireless, the PS2/USB connectivity refers to the two different connections available to the receiver, not the keyboard itself.
Right. Better go and download the latest version of Winamp so I can have some musekick while I finish NightSilvered...
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Well, I now have a Packard Bell 1959 computer, with a 19" widescreen TFT monitor and a Microsoft [spitspit] ergonomic BX2-00011 keyboard (wireless, but it comes with PS2/USB connectivity). The assistant who served us (at the Winterstoke Rd PC World) was incredibly helpful, courteous and knowledgeable (for all that he didn't look much older than Kai and made me feel really ancient!) and explained the benefits of additional warranty without pushing too hard, something I really really loathe and which put me off using PC World for years the last time. And I didn't get his name, dammit! Eh well, we'll try and grab him next time.
All in all a very successful (if long) day. I haven't even opened the boxes yet - going to set up and install tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Friday, October 20, 2006
There are few things as heart-wrenching to an animal-lover than the sound of a dog howling with loss and abandonment...
Regular readers might remember that the house backs onto the PDSA Animal Hospital: every now and then a particularly vocal cat or dog needs to stay in overnight, either because they're due an operation tomorrow, or because they're recovering from something and need to be kept under observation. Tonight it's a dog. A well-loved family dog, I'd guess, breaking its heart because its humans have left it alone amongst strangers...
It's such an awful sound, and even knowing that the dog wouldn't be there if it wasn't necessary, and the PDSA vets and nurses and assistants love the animals (if they didn't they wouldn't be there, the PDSA is a charity and they don't get paid for the work they put in) it's still enough to reduce you to tears.
Tomorrow, I trust, it will be back with its family, loved and pampered and forgiving, as dogs do, the stress and pain to which it has been subjected. That all animals could be so well cared for...
Orion is up tonight, the sky so still the nebulae in the sword are clear even without bins. And the stars are clearer than ever for me, the two bright points of light that I see them as closer together than they've been for years. I hold out hopes that one day in the near future they will condense into one, and I'll know that at least one aspect of my astigmatism (and the worst one, as far as I'm concerned) has been resolved...
Today I am mostly pissed off.
Brief update on the state of play in the Save Castle Park affair (quoted from a member of the BCPN, with permission):
The information that is being presented is misleading, to say the least; the developers are quoting 12% green space loss - this is in fact at least 18% loss of open space.Demonstrations, anyone? Or do we need something stronger these days?
I found this earlier, by Fixer on the Alternate Brain blog, titled American Wimps...
It was a little drizzly, about 65 degrees, and I got up behind a school bus... I saw a kid (teenager) hop out of a Lexus at the end of the driveway and take two steps to get on the bus. Before the bus pulled away, the mom put the car in gear, drove the hundred feet to the house, got out and went inside.Explains a lot, doesn't it? Eh well, if they all drop dead of idleness and fast-food related heart disease there'll be less tidying up for the rest of us to do...
Off to take out my bad humour on someone deserving. And if I can't find someone, I'll bloody create them.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The irises in the 'bog' beside Roeg's Pool are finally flowering.
Pretty little flowers, even if they are pink. Only, I'm really not at all sure they should start flowering in October...
Odd sort of a day. Having written nothing since the computer started playing up (though to be fair it has taken longer than I thought to back everything up, there were all sorts of sub-directories hiding away that I'd forgotten about. Butch having fun again...), and having said yesterday I fancied a little lemon, I found myself unable to decide what to write. So I did the usual and asked Lutra for a challenge/suggestion...
Lutra: How 'bout something demony? Beauty. Strength. Ruthlessness. [g] Make it up as you go? Joules: [tentative nod] Original you mean? That's the word! Heh, you said the Leanderverse needed a prod [g] Indeed I did... [PINGSMASH went the lightbulb] Tch - now look what you've done. ROFLMAO! [g] Rumblings on the demon planes. Coups and countercoups... Ok... let's see..... what nastiness can we get Leander into this time...The result has nothing whatsoever to do with Lutra's suggestions, but that could be because I read them as something completely other than what she actually typed - which had me a tad bewildered about my own memory/sanity for a few minutes there before deciding it didn't really matter... Anyway, the end result is an obscenely erotic little ficlet starring our Very English Gentleman Demon-hunter, his demon contact in hell, and a brother and sister incubus/succubus team. Well, I think it's obscenely erotic anyway - it had Lutra saying ick! good gods you've got a nasty imagination... which I'll take as a compliment, ta very much.
ANYway... it's not available to read yet, as I need to finish the Intro chapter (when the hell did I post that sample? Ah, right, 22nd Feb 2005...) and get that posted first. Although, thinking about it, the just-written chapter, Copper, should come later in the story, after we've met a few of the main characters. Hm. Will have to think about that. There's a sequel in the works though, NightSilvered (looks like there'll be a metal connection in each chapter name): these little pieces are fun and light to write while I'm agitating over when my computer is going to pack up on me and before I get the new one up and running.
Back to the loom while I can...
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Ice blue hair and blood red eyes. The earrings are ruby. Pretty, ne?
And the name is definitely Lava ('La ba') not Larva (which would be 'La ru ba', I believe): I watched ep three - several times - to be sure.
So, today... into town to bank cheques. Finally got a backup locker key cut for Kai in St Nick's Market (£4.60! Should have ordered it from the school...) Bought Ken two more pairs of the cheap-but-good M&S jeans (heh, he got out of shopping again!)
Got back rather wet as it started raining when I got off the bus, but luckily Kai wasn't too fussed about the cinema (to be honest the only things showing he might even half-like to see are Open Season and Hoodwinked, there's sodall else on for the sprogs this holiday. Damn poor showing on the part of the Showcase, I say.) So he settled down with Chicken Run (he adores that film!), then later Ken took him to Phœnix: came back with two original Dr Who videos and The Nightmare before Xmas DVD for him for tomorrow, and V for Vendetta for us. Which we watched this evening.
What an extraordinary film.
Going to watch it again tomorrow night (it's too adult for Kai, even with our fairly liberal attitude) to pick up on all the bits I missed...
Tonight - haven't decided yet. Though I feel the urge for a little lemon...
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
[shakes head, bemused] Un-bloody-believable. The saved geocities .html files crashed Firefox when I tried to open them - had to resort to Netscape (which, whatever else you may say about it, is as solid, stolid, stable and unfussy as browsers get and to which we turn when nothing else works). Still, the story is now in .txt and safely backed up on CD. NOW I can get to bed.
Well, after I've finished reading this last chapter, anyway...
... fascinating... it was that Geocities-hosted CCO808 fanfic in French (that I'm still hoping to find the time to translate one of these days) that was making Veritas (my CD-burning software) crash... I'll try pasting into notepad and seeing if that works.
Monday, October 16, 2006
And this morning we booted up just fine, though I can't see that lasting... Personally I think that now Butch knows he's getting a new snazzy, dual-core-processor-fitted domicile, he's finished his temper tantrum and is (probably grudgingly) letting us tidy up the last few odds and sods of backup (though that being said there's something in one of my ten thousand personal files/docs/images/mpgs that is crashing my CD-burning software every time I try to use it. Now have to spend tonight with a RW disk in the drive and transfer each piece of info one by one. Oh joy...)
But today was... interesting. Kai had a dentist appointment at 11.30 - he was terribly nervous, remembering that last time he went the dentist warned he might need treatment for that lower front tooth (the one that was knocked out of place when his chin collided with Connor's head back at Junior School) and the thought really scares him. But I pointed out it was just a checkup, and the whole point of the dentist was so he could avoid having a mouthful of metal like me. Which immediately cheered him up. But as it was the dentist said he was absolutely fine ('perfect' was the word she used), the careful cleaning he does twice a day has really paid off. She wants to keep an eye on his mouth, because one of his adult teeth towards the front is coming through offset (there's not enough room for it to fit in the right place until his milk teeth are gone, and they seem to be resisting dropping out) and thinks he might need a brace in a year or so. Kai's perfectly fine with this - half the kids he knows have braces. We'll see: it might slot into place by itself if we're lucky.
While we were up at Broadwalk we checked out the charity shops, and to my delight I found Vols 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the New Vampire Miyu manga at £1.49 each. Synopsis here, though I'm not sure about the spelling of the thoroughly-bishieful servant Shinma's name: here it's Lavra, but I think it's normally spelt Larva, though I've also seen Lava. There's no 'v' in Japanese, of course, so to be sure I'll have to play a subbed Miyu anime and try to work out what it really is from that.) Very pretty, æthereal shojo artwork, with an interesting (if slightly hard to follow) storyline. I'll need to find Vol 2 to have the complete series.
There were several other manga series in the shop - DN Angel, Girl Got Game, Forbidden Dance and a couple of others I didn't recognise. I was good and resisted temptation...
It's still unseasonably warm, and I'm still in T-shirts and sandals. Which I regretted today. It was pleasantly cool and misty when we left home: we were about to leave the ironmongers, having failed to get Kai's locker key copied, when it suddenly started hailing. Five minutes later there was a wonderful flash of lightning, loud roll of thunder and it absolutely pissed down. We spent the next hour dodging the rain by diving in and out of shops, and luckily, by the time we were ready to head back, the storm had rumbled off a few miles. But it did mean we couldn't go to the park, as Kai had hoped. Eh well, another day.
In other news... Forgot to say yesterday that I painted the larger of the cabinets outside while the smaller dried in the kitchen - and when I came back in I found two little pawprints in the paint on the top, and five little white pawprints on the kitchen lino... [rolls eyes] We think it was Raptor, but she doesn't seem to be any the worse for presumably having licked the paint off her paws.
Oh, and my Scorpion King action figure arrived this morning, and it's great. It does raise a question, however: the new computer will have a flat panel screen, which means I have nowhere to perch the Matrix Twins. I think I need a shelf or display case or something (I have 21 figures now, of varying sizes, not counting Ninetails, Flareon, and the ceramic Radittsu from onna. [smirk] Interestingly they're all male with long hair and/or big weapons...)
Quick trip to town tomorrow, then I'm planning to take Kai to the cinema.
K&K were quite successful at the Car Boot Sale yesterday - Kai came home with a pendulum clock he's since got working, and Ken picked up a cyperus for me (the last one I had got very leggy and Ryme ate the shoots I was rooting up). Doesn't have a home yet but I'll find somewhere for it.
Today I painted the cupboard frames with wood primer ready for the two coats of gloss they need this week, and Kai and I did some serious tidying up around Roeg's Pool. Legs aching now.
[sigh] It took Ken six attempts to boot up this morning, unplugging the keyboard, switching on then plugging back in again. I can't see the machine surviving much longer.
Fortunately we won't have to cope with it for long. My mother, bless her, offered to lend us the cash to buy what we need, so if all goes according to plan we could both have new computers by next weekend. Then I have the fun of reinstalling all my software - oh joy... PS, Xara, Alchemy, MailWasher, Ewido, FireFox, Opera, RMP, Dnoter, DigiGuide, Grisoft, Spybot S&D, Spywareblaster, Norton Firewall, Ad-aware, RealPlayer, RealProducer, ICQ, Winzip, Winamp, MusicMatch, DivX, DataBecker, Yahoo messenger... [head->hands] At least I have most of the .exe files backed up, which hopefully will make the job a little quicker, but does everyone have so much stuff on their machine? Problem is I really need it all...
If I vanish for a while you'll know a) the old computer died and my hands couldn't cope with the laptop's keyboard and b) I'm drowning in installation wizards.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
We opened the stack, and I dug about half a ton of dust and fluff out of the main fan, and the CPU fan, and the various nooks and crannies... No wonder the poor things weren't working.
I was still getting the error message, however, with the machine turning itself off even though the fans were whirring happily again. So we put the stack on its side (well, why not? We'll try anything once) and... it brought up the message - CPU fan speed too low, switching off in 5 seconds... and then didn't.
Bizarre. We switched it off and tried again, and that time the message was that the system couldn't find the keyboard. In fact the plug was loose, and when we pushed it in properly the screen brought up the option to exit or enter set up. On exiting, the thing booted up as normal, and is now working, though it's anyone's guess for how long. It seems as though the BIOS get stuck in a loop somehow: the fans are working, but the software doesn't recognise the fact.
Ken's suggested using the loose keyboard plug tactic if I can't boot up tomorrow, and for the meantime we're leaving the stack on its side. We've both had a backup session this evening - not that there was that much to do: knowing how dodgy the machine can be we tend to back up frequently these days - including our bookmarks and the email address book (losing those two lists is always a nightmare). So if the worst comes to the worst I can always work from the laptop for a while.
Of course, this means we now have no option but to replace both our computers (Ken's is limping along as well, it's years older than mine and the CD burner hasn't worked in ages) - they're our livelihood and we simply can't continue like this. So when we get the advance - probably in December - it's off to PC World to pick up a couple of new ones. [smiles hopefully at GoodTwin] Fancy coming over for a weekend and helping us install - and probably network as well?
Very tired. This has been a most stressful day again.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
[sigh] aaaaaaand I have fan problems again, reporting fan speed too low (doesn't feel it to me) and the usual fineagling hasn't worked... currently trying to cope with the laptop keyboard on dialup as I can't get broadband to connect. When K&K get back I'll take off the stack cover and give it a clean, see if that helps. If not... don't quite know what I'll do - this year has been so expensive already we can't afford a new machine and since Special Reserve closed down I don't have a handy repair place I can lug it to.
Bloody terran tech...
Well, what an interesting day!
It was Kai's first 'non-uniform' day: for £1 the kids could wear anything they liked (within reason, and as long as the footwear was sensible and they kept to the school's jewellery regs), and the money would be added to John Cabot's charities fund. Today they were being urged to 'think pink' as the charity of choice was Breast Cancer Awareness. Heh. We have nothing pink in the house. (Well, except for the hot pink carrier bag I'm using to collect things destined for the next parcel to Lutra.) However, Kai checked with his teacher, and the little red accents on the grey-blue Oriental Dragon shirt he wanted to wear counted ([grin] yeah, right!), so he trotted off in said shirt, black jeans and his black denim jacket, looking very snazzy. Quite enjoyed the day too.
And now he has two blissful weeks off. We've organised a couple of things - Ken's planning to take him to a car boot sale tomorrow, he's going to help me in the garden on Sunday, we're probably going to the cinema next Tuesday, and next Sunday Horfield Organic Community Orchard are having an open day, with tastings and the sale of produce, so we're off to that - and I'm hoping we can meet up with Kim, and Ruth, Jun and Yumi if they've finished the house move, sometime over the fortnight.
I had my head down getting a few odds and sods of client stuff done when Denis the carpenter turned up with the bodies of the two wall cupboards he's making for us, for me to paint ready to have the 'glass' doors (only he's using clear plastic for safety sake) added next time he visits. Guess what I'm doing tomorrow - and next week, as they need primer then two coats of gloss each...
Settled back down to carry on, and the phone rang - our agent to let us know that one of the new book proposals we'd sent her has not one but two publishers interested, one of which seems to be pretty firm (firm enough to be talking about delivery dates (60K words by end of May next year), illustrations, advances and royalties!) So - fingers crossed and not counting Britannias til the contract's in our hands, as usual - we (read I, it's mostly my baby) will be working on the 16th book this winter. It's one I really want to write, as well, so I'm quietly looking forward to it. Hopefully we'll know for sure next week.
The reissue of the previous book in a different format looks like it might go ahead too. That's not confirmed yet though.
And finally, I was able to sort out a fairly major client site problem in 20 minutes this evening, which I'm quite pleased about. All in all this has been a good day. But then, Friday the 13th usually is, here.
I think I can take tonight off and do something silly. I feel the urge to rattle off something starring Gunner (from Zap) and... I dunno. The Flaming Prince, perhaps, that should be amusing...
Back to the loom!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
So half-way through his dinner (Ken brought the first Brussel's sprouts of the year back with the shopping: we haven't had a frost yet but oh, they were wonderful...) Kai looks up frowning and says, "I'd really like to hear that Gorillaz song - the one in the graveyard."
[Aside: Kai likes Gorillaz. He has Demon Days on more or less permanent loan from me.]
He means Clint Eastwood, of course. So off I dived to YouTube and found it for him, and made him hurry up and finish eating so he could watch it (no, of course I'm not above a little bribery on occasion! Show me a mum who is...) And then we took a peek at Muse's Bliss and New Born videos, which Kai had never seen and which I love - and then we found a terrific Dr Who music video (using the End of the World episode)... [bemused] There's something rather charming about mum and son sitting side by side watching Dr Who on YouTube and belting out Kaiser Chief's Oh My God along with it. (And if I had a daemon, it would still be changing form from moment to moment, lionfish/snow leopard/sparrowhawk/scorpion/blue whale/chameleon/unicorn/moth...)
Decided it was probably easier to give in, sign up and get together a favourites folder, so Kai can watch when I'm not busy. I've only put it off this long as I keep finding YouTube embedments in the blogs I read regularly, where they're a nuisance for me as I either have the news or my own music playing through the speakers or a film on in the background, and frankly I'd rather read about a news item than watch a 'Tube of it. Then again, I'm very unlikely to use it for news, myself. Music, however, is an entirely different basket of dragons...
I found this - Muse's version of Feeling Good. I absolutely adore the way they take a classic song and turn it into a paean to the alien.
And I want Bellamy's voice, please.
[sigh] Better get back to work...
The sunrise was pretty this morning.
Ken's review copies of Dartmouth Ghosts & Mysteries arrived this morning! It's a gorgeous book, hardback, heavily illustrated (mostly by Valerie Wills, who takes beautifully atmospheric photos - and my 'green man' pictures are in it! First time I've had any illustrations in a mainstream publication!) and with the high production values for which the publisher is renowned. Dead chuffed with it!
I've nearly finished The Subtle Knife. I think what I'm enjoying most about the trilogy is not knowing what comes next: I like not being able to work out the plot in advance. And I like the author's willingness to kill off main characters as well!
The sumac from above, again. The colour is so intense...
Roeg's Pool... all very odd. You remember we found the biggest of Kai's five goldfish, Ginger, floating dead on the surface earlier in the year? By my reckoning, that meant we should have four goldfish left. And they obviously weren't eaten by the heron, as over the last week I've spotted them again, by ones and twos and threes, and today stayed out to watch them feed...
There are five of them. Three big ones, the smaller fish with the red spot (Comet I think Kai called it) and a small pale golden one (Platinum). We have an erroneous fish.
Of course, the simplest explanation is that they've bred over the summer (do goldfish breed out of doors in this country?) However, we think that we have a Dr Who goldfish, one adept at travelling through time and space, that landed here to investigate goldfish-life-on-earth for a while. Or a kind of Shrödinger fish. Or maybe even Ginger reincarnated...
Planning to tidy up the pool and the surrounding rockery on Saturday.
<- Kai's log scramble settled in.
[snarl] And that f*&%$^g mole has come back...
Off to make steak, mushrooms, broccoli, petits pois, vine-ripened tomatoes and Lady Balfour creamed potatoes for dinner. In the meantime, this Goth clothing catalogue is quite fun...
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
... random thoughts...There's a rather pretty pair of galaxies in Pisces - although they are, alas, far too faint to be seen with anything but a good telescope: the largest of the two, NGC7541, is magnitude 12.6, while the other, NGC7537, is an even fainter 13.7.
My eyesight appears to be continuing to improve. I can almost see the moon's outline clearly now, and the two points of stars are closer together than before.
As far as I can recall, there are no biblical names at all in any of the Harry Potter books. (In fact, many of them seem to be Anglo-Saxon.) I find that quite refreshing...
Ken brought back the most delicious chocolate torte from Tesco, absolutely gorgeous, rich but not too sweet. Unfortunately they've stopped making them: there were only three left, and the other two will probably have been bought by the time either of us can get back over to buy them for the freezer. I grow increasingly less impressed with Tesco.
We enjoyed it while watching the delectable Mr Johnson as The Scorpion King on ITV4. Yes, I know I have the DVD, but it's live action Radittsu, I can't just have the film on in the background, I have to sit and drool, and I don't often find the time. The comment on the IMDb made me chuckle, it's so true...
... this movie is a cheeseburger, not a 17-course dinner. So why bother complaining. After all it's a prequel of a sequel of a movie that was a re-make of a movie that was made in the 30's.[shakes head] I had to explain that to Ken...
There's a Scorpion King action figure for sale on ebay, ridiculously cheap. If it's still there next week I shall buy it for myself for Yule.
Right. Back to the loom.
Knew I'd forgotten something. The gravatars seem to have gone missing, so I shot over to gravatar.com to see if there was any info. This was posted a week ago:
A recent 50% increase in gravatar requests has pushed the current server to the limits, and response times have slowed accordingly. I have disabled signup and login while I migrate the database to the Gravatar 2.0 schema and setup the new and improved gravatar servers. Once the new servers are in place, you should see gravatars being served with unprecedented speed! After the serving issue is solved, I will deploy the Gravatar 2.0 website, full of usability improvements and new features. Great things are ahead!There was also a warning that it might take several weeks to get everything done. So, no gravatars for a while, then.
I do hope the service comes back. I tried to contact the creator a while back, since I was having problems logging in, but he never got back to me...
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sumac from outside the patio doors. Pretty little tree
Bread and butter day today, mostly, though I have started 2AC 1.5.04. Other than that... Not a lot happened. Here that is. It's been quiet. A little too quiet...
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sumac from the landing windowA nice start to the week...
A while back Simon ('Hal Spacejock') sent me over a couple of Hal Spacejock fridge magnets of a type that were new to me - the usual size, but soft and flexible, and the whole thing was a magnet rather than being a hard plastic image with a magnet stuck on the back. I thought they were dead nifty, not to mention being extremely good magnets (and given the amount of stuff I stick on my fridge believe me I really need good magnets!) Well, in our last amazon delivery (a Van der Graf Generator CD for Ken and Muse's Origin of Symmetry CD for me, both for Yule, and a 2007 ephemeris) was a flier for Vistaprint, who were doing a special limited offer on a variety of 'your own design' products, amongst them fridge magnets. While I was faffing around getting the folks' photograph albums sorted, Ken in the background suggested I get some Haadri magnets made: I'd said it was a nice idea but given the hassle I was having with the empiredirect software at the time promptly forgot about it. Then at 9.45 pm, with the special offer due to run out at midnight, he asked me if I'd got the design ready yet...
[sigh] I had to create it from scratch as the original image must be backed up on a disk somewhere and I didn't have the time to find it. But it actually only took me 50 minutes to recreate it, which wasn't too bad, and I was able to upload it to the site and complete the order by 11.30. And then had second thoughts when I found out that the payment went to the main office in Bermuda and the whole transaction was regulated by Bermudan law - which we know nothing about and which could be difficult to deal with if anything went wrong... But Ken said we'd risk it, opting for the cheapest postage - 21 days.
Well, they arrived just fine this morning (invoiced from the Netherlands and sent from Belgium. [bemused] Vistaprint are something of a global company, it appears) just ten days from ordering, and despite the fact that the text has turned out purple instead of the blue I wanted, they're beautiful! (I'll have to remember that next time: it appeared on the site as purple but I thought that was just part of the process. Apparently not, it appears that the colour you see as the final image is the colour you end up with. It works OK here, making the text a shadowy part of the background, an effect I rather like.)
Overall I'm rather impressed, and will use them again.
We also had an email from our agent, now back from the Frankfurt Bookfair, and there's a good possibility that the re-release of one of our previous books in a different format may go ahead - more on that if/when it happens - and there are two possible/potential publishers for a new book proposal we sent her a month or so ago, though we'll have to wait and see about that. So all in all quite positive!
Kai arrived back quite happy too - it seems next term they won't have rugby, it'll be either football, basketball or volleyball, he thinks. Looks like they're giving the sprogs the opportunity to try a variety of different sports, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. He's also put his name down for two new after-school groups next term - origami and [grin] Manga!
Ken's just about prepared for the Dartmouth Ghosts & Mysteries launch in Dartmouth around Samhain. To my amusement I was invited to attend too, but the whole event is due to span several days and it's during Kai's term-time - not to mention someone has to look after the animals. Eh well. Maybe next time.
And I've finally finished 2AC 1.5.03. (Taken long enough. Then again, I've been a bit busy with other things.) The rest should flow a little more smoothly, I hope, though now I have to hunt down some medical details. That'll be fun.
Back to the loom.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Finished Northern Lights - what an extraordinary, compelling and powerful book! - and have started the second in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife. Wonderful stuff!
[bemused] Dream Decoder (to pre-order) and Crystal Power are for sale on play.com...
It was cool today. Still not too cool for a tee-shirt and sandals, but a lot more comfortable than it has been. Though the sun was hot (hot enough for me to put through 4 washing machine loads and still have them all dry before 5pm), and the breeze pleasantly cool and capricious (and blustersome in places). Kai and Matt went down to the park - [bemused] with a football: after Matt had gone home we put on 2001, which is pretty much as I remember it. Kai was less than enthralled, though he liked the pretty bits at the end...
Tried to install the patch and expansion set for the Hornby Virtual Railway, following the very simple instructions all the way - and it hasn't worked. The patch is supposed to provide reflections (in water, in windows et) amongst other effects, and the expansion set a whole load of new rolling stock, but despite agreeing that everything had installed correctly, the rolling stock isn't there and the nifty new effects aren't either. I can't understand why not - it's a very simple installation - but I've emailed their tech support, so fingers crossed.
And that's about all I've done today. Well, apart from watch Hornblower, of course. And Ken is now watching A Tale of Two Sisters, which is very beautiful and really rather scary but is in Korean with English subtitles, so if I want to know what's going on I have to watch it. And I'm not sure I can be bothered. [sigh]
Saturday, October 07, 2006
And today has been much better. My tablet - and pen - is behaving again, Ken found the receipt for the clock, so I can take it back to The Range tomorrow (and as you all know, I thoroughly enjoy a trip to The Range!), and I now, finally, have permission to post the front cover and info about the dreams book - Dream Decoder.
The synopsis on the amazon page is succinct and apt, so I'm pinching it to post here:
Your dreams provide powerful insights into your subconscious thoughts and feelings. Through your dreams you can discover your goals, your fears and find answers to important life questions. Dream Decoder teaches you how to keep a dream journal, how to recall your dreams and how you can interpret the symbols according to your own experiences. Throughout the book, you will find questions and exercises to help you find the symbol's significance to you.This is the fifteenth book we've had published, either co-written or solo, since 1999 - a little landmark, I think!
Still not accomplished the heart's desire though...
Raptor is dreaming of sunshine... Me, I'm relieved that at least the nights are cooler: I'm still in tee-shirts and sandals during the day (yes, even in today's rain.)
Kai's settling into John Cabot even more. We had a long chat last night, which was enlightening for me and comforting for Kai, I think. He's mostly enjoying the school - not everything, of course, there are some lessons and some teachers he doesn't like, but I'd be worried if there weren't! - and while he's not exactly keen on the bus journey, he's coping, and sometimes (like tonight) manages to sit with one of his friends on the way home. Matt's coming round for a couple of hours tomorrow, and the rest of the weekend Kai will be mostly exploring his new Hornby Virtual Railway software (bought with his own money!)
I've spent a lot of today on bread and butter stuff. Time to do something fun, I think!
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Argent doing cute.
I'm having one of those weeks were just about every piddling little thing that could go wrong has done so. Nothing big, just stupid small things. Like walking to the butcher in the rain this morning to pick up the chicken pieces he normally puts back for me, to find that this week he'd sent them back to the supplier as being unsatisfactory. Which is a good thing, on the face of it - he really believes in quality - except they were going to be today's dinner. Then there was the meeting on Monday, which was, to be honest, a waste of my time. And the quarterly invoice for our dual-power gas and electricity arrived on Tuesday, saying they're going to increase our monthly direct debit (of £53) by - that's by - £45, because of an inexplicable brought forward amount of £148, from when we changed suppliers (and which we now have to take the time and hassle to investigate). Tesco still haven't answered my query - in fact I ought to chase that, if only to make my displeasure felt - and Ken now tells me they've removed their Organic Section, mixed in the goods with the non-organic, and by the looks of the empty places on the shelves where the organic stuff should be, are phasing it out. There's the fact that the very useful Sainsbug's special offer on trays of Felix catfood ended yesterday, too soon for me to get stocked up. And my new kitchen clock has just stopped working for no apparent reason. And now my blasted tablet - or pen, or both - is playing up...
But the photograph albums arrived, and they're gorgeous. The folks will be very pleased with them.
I'd like to hibernate now, please.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Hot sun - cool air - cold breeze - Autumn, my favourite time of year... the sumac is flame-tipped, the calicarpa settling into a deep bronzy burgundy, and all the cats desire is to find a patch of sunlight in which to sleep...
Regular readers will probably remember I mentioned we'd bought 2010: the Year We make Contact from play.com a wee while back. Kai enjoys the film, though he says there are a few bits in it he doesn't fully understand, and he'd like to see the first film. Well, in Sainsbug's yesterday I took a look at the special offer DVDs and what d'you know? 2001: a Space Odyssey was there for £3.99! We'll watch it over the weekend - though I can imagine I'll have a fair bit of explaining to do...
I'm currently printing out the Haadri synopsis (yet again). From ICQ:
Joules: "... it's always faintly alarming when the printer pauses half-way through a job to clean itself..." Lutra: "Your printer must have been a cat in a former life. Walk, walk, clean, walk, walk, clean..."Lutra and I have been firming up the 2AC basics and backstories for more of the main characters: there are some considerable differences between the new project and the old Alliance Chronicles, but I don't think fans of the original are going to be disappointed in the least. We're able to go into so much detail in the books, unfold the epic in a more leisurely manner, explore the characters in more depth.
Oh, and I've started reading Northern Lights (known for some completely inexplicable reason as The Golden Compass in the disunited states... I'm not going to rant about US publishers, no, I'm not...) the first part of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
Hmmm... most intriguing. Shades of Gormenghast in the first few chapters, and while I'm not overly fond of fiction set in that era (late Victorian? Something approximating to it, as far as I can tell, anyway. And there are exceptions - I've always loved Sherlock Holmes fiction) the story is very compelling and the book difficult to put down. Which is interesting, as so far I'm not overly enamoured of any of the characters, yet still want to find out what happens next.
I'm not sure Kai would enjoy it at this stage of his academic career, but I'll certainly not stop him from reading it if he wants. Though he'll find it a demanding read, unlike the Alex Rider books!
Back to the loom...
And as for next week's [spooks] - nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...
Sunday, October 01, 2006
[bemused] We've been watching Horatio Hornblower just recently. This weekend's episode was The Frogs and the Lobsters, and Kai - who is enjoying the series in a half-watching-but-nevertheless-picking-up-some-history sort of way - commented on the marching tune playing throughout the episode. As it happened it was The British Grenadiers, which I used to sing in the choir at school! I was hoping I'd have time to sing it to him but that somehow didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow...
If I can make time. I have a horribly busy day: a major shop, then a meeting in town at 3.30 pm, probably followed by a BCP meeting at 7. And spooks is on at nine (well, 10.25 pm for me, since I've already seen this week's ep last week and want to see next week's tomorrow. If you see what I mean.) Still, it doesn't happen often, I'm sure I'll cope.
I've been distinctly self-indulgent this weekend, re-reading the Alliance Chronicles. It's been fun, but now it's really time to get back to work.
Definition of 'having kittens'.
This is 9-month old Argent on a willow branch. The branch is about as high above the ground as the roof of the house. Argent used to take great delight in climbing up here, draping himself over the branch and trying to catch his tail, frequently just catching himself before he fell.
I used to try not to watch.
He used to do this quite often, staying up there until he got bored then coming down one of the drooping branches and jumping three feet or so to the ground.
He's a little more sensible now - though not by much...
Matt came around this morning for a couple of hours - apparently he and Kai are working on some sort of computer project together, involving creating a town in SketchUp.
Our copy of X-Men 3: The Last Stand arrived from play.com today: we watched it after dinner. It's more flawed on a second viewing, but still watchable if all you want is a bit of action and Hugh Jackman.
It's rained on and off all day, with a rather pretty thunderstorm a little while back.
Well, that was an interesting day, ne? Perhaps tomorrow will be more exciting.