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.
Monday, April 30, 2007
The usual busy start to the week. More later, but first - I've been meaning to post this for a few days... (Quoting from an email sent to me at the BCP website from colleagues at Bristol City Council):
"192.com is an internet directory service, which if you purchase credits, will supply details of anyone's name, address, telephone number, map to the house and a list of other occupants in the home (this includes children over 16)... Obviously this posts a severe risk to women in general but especially to those who have moved home as a result of violence and abuse [etc].Personally I think this is absolutely appalling, and I'm disgusted that anyone could be irresponsible enough to set up such a system. However:
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Fellow Britons may have caught the news item yesterday about Hugh Grant being arrested for throwing a tub (tub, not tin... yes, OK, he assaulted the guy as well...) of beans at a reporter. Kai heard it on the 6 o'clock news and gazed at us in bemusement.
"Threw a tub of baked beans at him? Tch', that's as bad as being menaced with a shoe-horn..."
It hurt to laugh.
Hugh Grant was in the DVD we watched tonight, An Awfully Big Adventure (a pressie from Lutra - we finally both found time to watch. Ken even managed to stay awake for all of it.) I watched it for the delectable Mr Rickman, of course, having forgotten that Hugh Grant was also in it (and what a delightfully horrible man he was!). But to my bemusement the female lead had been brought up by her aunt and uncle - Aunt Lily and Uncle Vernon!
A good film, if a little grim. Unfortunately I worked out the big twist ten minutes after Rickman made his entrance, but there you go...
Kai has a friend coming around for the afternoon. I need to get some housework done, dammit.
Labels: Awfully Big Adventure (film)
Friday, April 27, 2007
Many, many, many moons ago, back when we first graduated from an Amstrad WPC to our first ever PC, we invested in a handful of computer mags with free software sample CDs (back then it was fairly safe to do so, as computer viruses were barely known - the first, it seems, was the Brain back in 1986. It was joined by two others the next year, and by one more the year after, and so on until today, when my last Grisoft update - I have it set to check for updates every couple of hours - reported immunity from nearly 751 thousand threats. Virus is obviously a very good descriptor. Where was I? Oh yes...)
Amongst the freebies was a minimal evaluation copy of Bryce, the 3D imaging software, which I tried and thought was just super, but since at the time managing a word processing package was about my limit, I couldn't dream of owning it. It cost something ludicrous like $599 then (I may be misremembering), and I had no reason to spend so much on something I couldn't be sure I'd ever use. However, we tucked the name away for future reference...
Today I asked Ken if I could use Google SketchUp for landscapes for websites and Haadri - and remembered Bryce.
And went to look for it.
And found it's now available for $99.95. And that at the moment the exchange rate is a most excellent $1.99 to the pound Sterling.
"Buy it." said Ken.
So I did (it is now a legit business expense, which helps with any feelings of guilt.)
Watch Joules go starry-eyed...
It's fantastic. These little pics are just quick trial things using presets (next up, Verbank): it'll take me a while to learn to use everything properly, the user documentation alone is 45 megs. (The whole app is just under 700. The .exes just fit on a backup disc and no more...) Every single element is customisable, making the variations practically infinite (OK, for the pedants, obviously not infinite, but for my purposes it seems like it) - and if I ever run out of ideas, there are plugins galore. And it seems you can make your own as well. It's supposed to be compatible with PS too, so importing previously created images should work. I'll try it when I have more of a handle on the software.
It's going to make possible the most gorgeous background tiles as well...
We rented A Sound of Thunder DVD to watch tonight, despite the awful reviews on the IMDb, and actually it wasn't as bad as we expected. It's only very loosely based on the excellent Bradbury short story, but the story itself was OK, and it looked as though some fairly serious thought had been given to how the creatures might have evolved. We quite enjoyed it (though it's best to treat it as an original and try not to think of the story). Not wonderful, but we've seen much worse. Kai found it thought-provoking, which is always a good thing.
The cold is definitely on its way out - rather to my surprise as this sort normally lasts for at least a week and a half. Can't say I'm sorry though. I have my brain back, and I can taste and even smell a little today: it still feels as though someone's been kicking me in the ribs if I cough, sneeze or laugh, but that should ease soon too. Thanks for the good wishes folks - looks like they worked!
Erk. Kai has to take in a pot of plain yoghurt and some strawberries and raspberries tomorrow: better get them organised...
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Another Freecycler was offering CAD software plus all the manuals, and after seeing Kai's latest works (see here, but you'll need the Google SketchUp viewer to play properly) was happy to let Ken collect it yesterday. Unfortunately he was at Marshfield (on the way to Chippenham) and it took Ken all day to get there and back on assorted buses... And the software is from 1994. Not sure if it'll work on any of the newer computers, although it might on the old one. I've been too out of it the last couple of days to check.
Ken popped into the church at Marshfield while he was there. He said:
Incidentally, I found a six-inch golden slowworm in St Mary's, a young one that had lost its way and couldn't escape; I managed to rescue it without incident, and placed it back in the fresh air in the cool earth among the flowers. I can't help but wonder at it - if it had been a dream I'd have been thinking of the symbolism of a serpent in the house of god! They do say truth can be stranger than fiction.Um, yes...
My ribs hurt from coughing. I shall be glad when this is gone. Need to go shopping tomorrow regardless of how I feel.
Later edit: just tried downloading and playing with the SketchUp viewer - it's pretty nifty! Might get the whole thing and explore creating landscapes...
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I take it back, it is as bad as the Yule cold.
But we now have a full-to-the-brim water butt after last night's rain, so that's good.
Yes, it's a cold. Not quite as bad as the one over Yule, but most unpleasant nevertheless. 24 hours and counting.
Why is it techies are incapable of answering more than one query at a time? Do they simply not see more than one? It's often not even the query at the top, either. It's not just blogger; ClaraNET and Supanames are the same. I mean, I understand most techies are male, and males are fundamentally incapable of multi-tasking, but it really makes them look incompetent, which does nothing to instil confidence in their abilities...
So, today. Waking up hungry at six am after sod all sleep, feeling rough and knowing you can't eat for another six hours is not a great start to the week. However, the nurse I saw was very friendly and chatty - which helped to reduce the inevitable elevated blood pressure from simply being at the doctors' surgery. She took the first blood sample (from inside my left elbow) at 9.55, then had me drink a mug - large mug, mind you, not a normal glass - of Lucozade [ick] which she had at least poured a few minutes earlier to get rid of some of the gassiness. Then I was packed off to hang about for two hours until it was time to take the second sample...
Luckily Broadwalk is a good place to 'hang about': five charity shops, the 99p shop, and the games and DVD exchange, where I was tempted into their 'buy 3 for £10' offer and picked up Ghostbusters 2, Fantastic Four - and Our Man Flint. Which I loved as a child, and bought for nostalgic reasons (I'll probably hate it now...)
Back at the surgery the nurse reached for my right arm, explaining that they prefer not to take two samples from the same arm as it can lead to bruising. Somewhat reluctantly, and warning her that when I was a blood donor they had to take from the left arm as no-one could find a vein in the right, I let her try...
[wince] And she hit something - a nerve, or possibly, she said, a valve - and it hurt like hell. AND she couldn't draw any blood! So she taped cotton wool to the hole and took the second sample from my left arm (I did assure her I don't bruise easily, which is nowt but the truth and has always been a bit of a trial, as there've been numerous occasions when I have actually walloped myself quite badly and found there's nothing to show for it...) Anyway, she apologised for being 'spiteful' - [bemused] I've never heard it called that before: it was hardly her fault I have an idiosyncratic body with shy and awkward veins! - and made a small puncture beside the first without any problem.
I can ring for the results next Monday, and we'll take it from there. If they're normal, I won't need to do anything except get it checked every now and then, I suppose. If it isn't, I'll make an appointment to see the doctor.
I have to go back next month anyway: she wants to take my blood pressure again. It was much lower this time than last, but still higher than she liked, even with my explaining it was bound to be through the roof as I didn't want to be there. Eh well. We'll see what happens.
In other news... Ken evicted Hortense from the outside loo, but we were right and there was an egg-sac in the corner: the old webs are now covered in minute spidlings smaller than a pinhead. Although not as many as there were to start with: there's a large and getting larger folcus out there stalking them...
Last week's Dr Who... oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I like Hugh Quarshie - he turns up in the most unexpected places and made a creditable New Yorker - but Daleks again? And that hybrid was just stupid. [sigh]
We're still watching Heroes, and still mostly enjoying it (I like the plot twists), but Ken commented that it's very slow, and I think he's beginning to tire of it a little. I haven't yet, which is a first for an American series in the last three years, but I agree it is dragging a little.
We now have an oscillating tower fan, ready to help cope with the expected hot weather.
I found it mildly amusing that when I signed up for yet another google account to get access here, my anti-spam 'word' was paingis. Assuming the g stands for google - yes, it is a pain.
[growl] New blogger flash-up warnings are bloody pink.
The wisteria smells wonderful...
Right. No point going to bed until I'm too tired to keep my eyes open: I won't sleep anyway. Better find something fun to do.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Right. Let's see...
Link to the photos (again).
The realisation that I was finally on holiday hit as the coach reached Millennium Square (by which time Kood's playlist had reached Nightwish's Phantom of the Opera - perfect timing!) Brilliant blue cloudless sky, hardly anyone on the coach and my favourite music - what more could one ask? Even the Avonmouth Bridge didn't seem as frightening as usual.
I even managed to photograph Glastonbury Tor as we drove across the Somerset Levels - I usually can't find it, as I always think it's a lot closer to the motorway than it really is. (Actually, I think this pic looks better than the ones on the slideshow!)
Arrived at Exeter with over an hour to wait for the 56 bus, which takes the scenic route to Exmouth - but it was hot, and my rucksack was heavy, and I wanted to see the sea, so caught the 57 instead (a few stops, but more direct). It's quite fun being high enough to see over hedges and bridges: a short way upstream of the Bridge Inn (amazing pub, not a right angle or completely level floor in the place when I was last there) is a pretty little weir across the river. And what was a pick-your-own strawberry farm now has a big market mall with all sorts of local farm and organic produce (Wendy tells me. Sorry, I've forgotten the name! Do they have a website?)
Got into Exmouth about 4.30 pm, and strode off to find my temporary abode - the Breken Guest House, all of a minute and a half's walk from the seafront. It's clean and fairly comfortable, the en suite great, the price very good (£26 per night) and the food is filling and tasty (full English breakfast: choice of cereal if you like it, which I don't particularly, orange juice, a three-cup pot of nice coffee, a plate of sausage, bacon, beans, fried tomato and egg to your personal preference - mine being with the yolk broken and the whole thing fried both sides, as I can't abide runny egg - and two rounds of toast with marmalade). The hosts are pleasant and helpful, though Carlo's Italian (I think) accent is so strong it takes a while to get used to. My room was on the top (third) floor, up four flights of stairs, so I got a fair bit of exercise without even leaving the house! (And the lock was new, and stuck twice, necessitating a bit of WD40 action from Carlo...)
I dumped everything, found the local Somerfield for biscuits and diet coke for the room, then dropped into Capell's fish and chip shop for a quick dinner (not as good as our local chippie in Sandy Park rd, I'm afraid) - and then went down to walk along the front as far as the Octagon and just sit for an hour. Or two. I lost track of time. Hence those sunset photos...
Sheer bliss. Cool sea breeze cleared the sinuses and the mind, and at that time of evening there were very few people around. It was with considerable reluctance I returned to the Breken.
I slept very soundly that night.
Ken woke me with an alarm phone call - and it was then I discovered I'd not packed my phone recharger... Although actually that turned out well, as no-one could call me without my OK, as I had to leave the phone off most of the time (and it's cheaper to ring the home landline from the mobile than vice-versa anyway.) Had an 8.15 breakfast then headed off to Maer Rocks.
It was wonderful, walking barefoot along a deserted beach (too early for the holiday makers) paddling in very cold water at the sea's edge. At the Rocks I settled down on the sand to sketch and read (and take photos, of course). Didn't get much sketching done (it's offputting having people trying to look over your shoulder) but I did finish Vampire Hunter D volume 1...
It's a lot better than the anime, and explains the background to the story, which I never knew. My only problem with it was the sheer purpleness of the translation, which really was completely over the top in places, though I don't know if that was because the Japanese was like it or if that is the translator's style... Not that it matters, I'm intrigued enough to want to read at least a few more of the novels (apparently there are 17 in total, though I don't think they've all been translated yet!) Most enjoyable despite the 'urple - so much so I lost track of time and burned rather badly on my face, but more particularly on my lower legs. [sigh] And of course I didn't have any sun cream with me, never bother with the stuff.
Still, as synchronicity would have it, I had packed a tiny free sample of Olay's Definity anti-aging cream, which soothed my face, stopped the burning and peeling (my face is now a rather healthy looking pale golden-brown), and is also SPF 15, thus preventing any further problems with being out in the sun. Didn't help my poor legs though, which are still an angry red, although they don't hurt any more.
I picked up a triple pack of sandwiches (ham and cheese, prawn mayonnaise, chicken salad) and a banana for dinner - needed healthy after the day before! - and went to sit in a shelter to eat...
With a view like this, who needs table service?
Went around the town in the morning - all sort of little gift and souvenir and second-hand shops. Picked up a few odds 'n' sods, checked out the Olde Exmouth Gem Shop - which had a couple of copies of Ken's Early Heaven Oracle for sale - and bought a small Tortoises of Harmony figure for the lounge. Just 'cause we don't have one, and having written about it it seemed like a nice idea...
It was cooler on Thursday, with a cold westerly breeze off the sea, so I found myself a shelter looking over the beach - to avoid any more sunburn - and read the other book I'd taken with me, Justina Robson's Keeping it Real. I'd read a review of it and it sounded great...
Alas, it was not. The initial premise - quantum bomb splits reality, creating separate but accessible 'worlds' in which earth's mythological creatures are real - sounded fascinating, but the book itself is horribly derivative, a sort of cross-over of Robocop and Lord of the Rings with bits of other films and books thrown in. Worst of all Lila Black, the heroine, is a blatant Mary-Sue. [shudder] And Lutra? You'd really, really hate her elves... Very disappointing. I'm now in two minds as to whether to bother reading the two others of her books I have or not...
Wendy arrived at about 5.30, and we wandered off to the Bath House (used to be called the Deer Leap before it changed hands) for an onion ring pole, gammon steak for her and chicken New Yorker for me, and toffee apple and chocolate sundae desserts. It was great! Wonderful to chat too - I'm just sorry the blasted headache dulled things a bit. It was a lovely evening in spite of that: thanks for coming down.
Venus was brilliant below a silver crescent moon when we left. I tried to photograph it but there was too much camera shake, couldn't get a decent shot.
Up early and caught the 9.50 am 56 bus to Exeter...
This is the one that goes all round the houses and takes an hour to drive the 10 miles between the two places. And it is not, trust me, because the drivers take their time. In fact it was positively nerve-wracking, the driver flinging the vehicle wildly down country lanes only a few inches wider than the bus itself, slewing to a stop to let oncoming cars inch their way past at passing places... I have a new-found respect for country drivers...
This lovely little place on the outskirts of Lympstone was for sale! Medium-sized garden with a double garage and a wooden summer house: looked charming, but that thatch would be the devil to keep in good repair. ->
We drove through Lympstone village, Woodbury village, Woodbury Salterton village, and Aylesbeare, where apparently this barn door is the village notice board. The bus drops briefly into Exeter airport before stopping at the bus station: I used to walk out to the airport when I was a teenager, to watch the planes. It's all motorway now, by the looks of it.
Arrived at the folks' about 11.15, and we went to the Exeter Arms hotel for dinner - a very tasty carvery - then back to chat and watch DVDs until my coach at 6 pm, a lovely relaxing day. The trip back was great too, and the welcome home a treat! (Everyone except Raptor, who was well pissed off that I'd gone away. She's come around now.)
Then, of course, I found out about blogger - but I've already dealt with that. On the plus side, I ran a Norton update and found that they've now removed that blasted file that kept failing to install, so I can now run the update without having to uncheck anything, which is good. However, the snails have been at my seedlings, damn them, and we really, really need rain. It's forecast for the next two or three days, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
It was only four days in total, two of them mostly spent travelling, but it felt like much longer. I had a fantastic time - just being somewhere else, and by myself, was wonderful.
But it's nice to be back.
I'm starving at the moment - have my diabetes appointment at 9.50 tomorrow morning, oh joy - and have a few emails to deal with when I get back from the doctors', but otherwise I may still be able to take this week nice and easily. Which would be good, as what I thought was just hayfever seems to be turning into the cold my brother has.
Eh well. With a little luck it will either fizzle out or go as quickly as it came!
Later - I'm having an early night.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Photos sorted - see HERE. Blog post to follow (after dinner).
... bastards. Bastards bastards bastards...I go away for three days, get back and find those bastards (yes, I could use far more forceful terms, but I don't want to offend too many readers) at blogger are now forcing me to move to new blogger by leaving me unable to login to any of my blogs without migrating first. Which has necessitated me getting yet another bloody google account (on top of the four I already have) as they aren't even competent enough to set the system up so that I can actually login using a pre-existing google account. They've added a f*****g banner to the tops of both Zone Doubt and the Haadri blogs, the two I originally paid to have made bannerless back when you could do such things, and they've lost my f*****g ZD archives. (Not permanently, as of last night at any rate: I can pull them up if I put in the correct URL. How I get those reconstituted back onto the blog I have no idea - any suggestions, anyone? Asking blogger is about as useful as a slap in the face with mallet.)
I came back from my holiday all relaxed and rested and full of energy and enthusiasm. Two hours later after discovering what they'd done the stress was back and my blood pressure through the roof.
GoodTwin is quite correct - an official blogger curse is now called for.
There will be a proper post in a few hours, when I've had time to write it up, resize and arrange some of the nearly 200 photos I took, and have composed myself sufficiently to not snarl at even the thought of the word 'blog'.
Later edit: I've copy/pasted the archive code from my March blog backup into the template, and it seems to work. Just as well I do backups, isn't it?
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Right - coach ticket bought (I do love being able to order and pay online, then just print it out! Saves so much time and hassle), shopping done for K&K for the next four days (pork chops tomorrow, spagbol on Thursday, pizza on Friday and pot luck on Saturday - I'm popping in to see the folks, who've said we'll all go out for dinner...), Skaters... review written and emailed, Morocco site finished, and me packed (it's lovely just packing for myself, everything fits in my small rucksack). I just have to do a new mp3 playlist and I'm all set. I even have spare batteries charged up for camera and Kood. I'm taking the last Earthian manga and my Vampire Hunter D first novel to read, and all my drawing stuff - though I make no promises as to whether I will produce anything. And I'm meeting up with Wendy on Friday evening for a meal and a drink.
I'm really looking forward to this!
Monday, April 16, 2007
<- Mock Orange, small but doing very nicely, and it smells wonderful.
[bemused] So Ken comes downstairs and says to me, he says - "You know, you've finished the book now, and the weather's supposed to be nice all this week, and you were talking about getting down to Exmouth for a couple of days..."
"But I couldn't find anywhere cheap with an en suite single room," I reply.
He vanishes upstairs to google...
Frog in the frewtnog pool ->
Well, after a bit of phoning around, we've found somewhere that looks fine, and is non-smoking, and at a price we can afford. So I'm off on Wednesday, and back on Saturday!
<- Cowslips and white violets.
Ken says it seems to be the only way for me to stop for long enough to let my hands recover... I suppose I'd better get a move on, finish revising the Morocco site and write the review for Skaters, Trekkies and Cool Dudes then!
The wisteria ->
We're determined to start training it towards the front of the house this year. I've always wanted a front door with wisteria over the porch. Not roses, or axes - wisteria...
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Still tired. Lovely day pottering though - household chores (and drying in the garden again), backing up, archiving and deleting files in preparation for the major housekeeping later in the week, sorting out the laptop for Kai (deleting the old stuff and getting him an ICQ account so he can chat to both of us online. Though he tells me most of his friends use MSN messaging, so once he's used to ICQ we'll download that for him too, no doubt.)
And I finally made some bread - two small loaves with the local honey. One vanished before it had a chance to get cold, the other one is for tomorrow.
Kai had a great time at his friend's - and fell in the tadpole pool at the local park. [rolls eyes] Fortunately it obviously wasn't too deep. And his phone wasn't damaged. So that was OK.
Still tired. Still have to finish the Morocco Blue site revision tomorrow, and no doubt once the editor has had a look at the manuscript there will be amendments and tweaks to be done. But at least I can take it slowly for a few days.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
There's something enormously relaxing about sitting on a moving train - even if it is only moving at ten miles an hour backwards and forwards between two points...
The Avon Valley Railway is a terrific place to visit, although it's a bit of a pain to get to for us - bus to Keynsham, then another bus to Bitton. But once you've paid, you can stay as long as you like and go back and forth as often as you like.
It was a 'diesel' day today, so not as smoky as Kai's last visit. But it was very hot, and very sunny, and I must remember to take my shades with me this year, now I've found 'em.
I took a notebook with me, in case Kai disappeared off to explore the train or watch out of the window (which he did), but didn't even take it out of my bag. It was just so nice to sit and watch the scenery go by...
And we ate dinner al fresco when we got back - first time this year, and the quickest pork chops I've ever cooked. Most enjoyable.
But I'm knackered. Planning to watch the second Hellsing DVD in a little while (saw the first three eps last night. It's odd, but interesting. The character art reminds me a little of Trigun in places), then go fall over. At least I don't have to be up too early tomorrow.
Looking towards Lansdown, out Bath way.
Friday, April 13, 2007
First bat(s) of the season!
It's been a lovely day. I slept in, then wandered off to the post office to mail off the manuscript. Dropped into the Hospice shop and found a three-candle table-top hot-plate (been wanting one for a while) and bought it, so that when we eat out of doors I can put the dishes in the middle of the table for Kai to help himself while the food still stays warm. Then diverted to the cats' charity shop - where the first thing I saw as I walked in were stacks and stacks of Focus Freedom paints...
Not sure if I said, but after finding that Focus had exactly the colour I wanted for my room on a BOGOF offer, when I finally managed to get over there to buy the four tins I needed I found they'd sold out, they weren't getting any more, and in any case the line had been discontinued. I was peeved, I was.
So it was wonderful to find it in the cats' charity shop. They had the green that we used in our bedroom, so I have a tin of that (our wall will need repainting in a year or so), three tins of a gorgeous royal blue and one of the rich turquoise I originally wanted (they only had one) which will do very nicely for this room - all at £1.50 each. Five tins for a little less than the price of one! It was a bargain!
Back home Ken had mown front and back (it's supposed to rain tonight - believe it when I see it). I trimmed around all the planters and little shrubs, and we dismantled the old growbag - and I found this gorgeous little scarab, actually a native rosechafer. So pretty...
We sat for a while before clearing up, watching our hen blackbird hunting for grubs, presumably for nestlings: it's amazing how many they can get in their beaks at one time. The pair are both really quite tame now, happy to hunt in the garden even when we're out there and really close. (They're also very territorial: a strange male landed while she was hunting and she saw him off in no uncertain terms). One of our robins came to visit too - looked very thin, puir wee thing, so I assume it's feeding chicks too.
And the bats? I took a walk up to the top of the garden at twilight, and stood for a little while just enjoying the evening. One of the bats from Arnos Vale regularly visits the garden in the warmer weather: tonight it did several circuits then flew circles - about eight or nine of them! - around my head, only a couple of feet above me.
Kai came out to see - and our bat, which kindly did a few more circles over our heads to prove I hadn't imagined it, was then joined by a second flitty beast! Such lovely little creatures.
The purple plant is a lunaria (honesty, a native wildflower). It's one of my favourites, and I had a lot in the garden in the early years. I thought I'd lost it all, so I'm delighted that it's still here. I shall try to establish it in other parts of the garden once it's set seed.
So all in all a great day - but Friday 13th usually is for us. Tomorrow I'm taking Kai on the Avon Valley Railway (using the Easter 'child goes free' special offer): Kai loves it , but I've never been, and I promised him a day out this weekend after being so good and patient while I was finishing Celtic Symbols. The weather is supposed to be really hot and sunny: I shall make chicken tortillas and we'll take drinks and bars too, and enjoy the rides. Then on Sunday Kai's been invited round to a friend's for the afternoon, which he'll enjoy I think!
For now though, I need to code the BCP minutes - then I think I'll watch some anime. It feels quite strange not having to write tonight!
This is fun - Are there purple palm trees on alien worlds?
Manuscript proofed and corrected, a few little bits added, a little tweaking, and it's all printed out (twice, all 139 pages of it), burned to CD, and packed up ready to go in the post in the morning. On schedule and in time to hit the deadline. This is good.
On the growing front, the veg patch now has four potato plants coming up, and some carrots, and lots of melnip sprouts. (That's the turnip that tastes of melon. Well, it was either melnip or turnon...) It also has bloody bindweed, which I must attack later. On the windowsill I have lupins sprouting! And one of the galia melon seeds has taken: fingers crossed that works. It's all good stuff!
Bed soon, but first,
Happy Birthday GoodTwin!!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
YAY!!Finished. Well, finished the main draft, there are always little tidying up bits to do when I proof-read it. And I'm only 512 words over the contractual wordage too (I got carried away with the Epilogue, as I'm wont to do...), which is excellent.
Emma (the Celtic Messages artist) has sent me samples of a couple of the cards, and they're beautiful! Dead chuffed with the way the pack is going to look.
I am now going to have a well-deserved glass of wine and unwind and give my poor hands a rest. In the morning I have to proof read, print out two copies and burn to CD ready to go in the post on Friday, then catch up with everything I've had on hold for the last few days - like finishing the Morocco Blue site revisions and coding up the BCP minutes. And answering emails - I'm a bit behind with that too. But for now... [flump]
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Right - it's slow-going today but I now have just 970 words to go to fulfil the contractual wordage (and just as well, as my hands are burning...)
Half the problem has been the research: for every thousand words I write, I need to read something like another four to five thousand to make sure I get the facts as accurately as I can, and triple check my sources, given the paucity of information available. Ever tried speed-reading Cassius Dio's Roman History in translation? (Well, OK, only selected books, the ones that deal with the invasions of Britain, but all the same...) Selected parts of Ammianus Marcellinus work of the same name? Ditto of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars? (That brought back memories of Latin O Level classes...) I'm not actually complaining - once I got used to the idea and the style settled down I've quite enjoyed it - but it all takes time, and that's the one thing of which I simply never have enough.
Brief break, then back to it... When I've finished, I can read the remaining three Earthian manga that arrived this morning!
Just under 1,300 words left to write. Just enough for the Introduction and the Epilogue. With a little luck and application I could be finished tomorrow...
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Onna, I don't know how often you check your mail, but please do so as soon as you can. I need an answer fairly quickly.
AARRGGHH!! I forgot I have to save some wordage for the bibliography! I'm going to run out of space!
No, it's not quite that bad - and I'm pleased I remembered before I finished. I still have time to ease it in while not having to leave out anything I wanted to say in the main text.
Not a bad day. Shopping wasn't too traumatic, managed to find what I went for, and then get the courgettes planted out (cumbles will have to wait 'til tomorrow). I've nearly made up today's wordage (even without taking any bibliographical text into account) and tonight have had fun trying to summarise the Coligny Calendar - it's numbers, it wasn't easy... Fascinating though, and amazingly complex. Can anyone imagine working to a thirty-year cycle, these days? I have enough trouble with just one! Clever old trouts, the Druids.
Kai is back to school tomorrow, but he seems to have enjoyed his break - and of course it's a four day week, so he's pleased about that too. Not that he doesn't like school, he does, but he wouldn't be a sprog if he didn't like his days off more.
Back to it. The end grows close.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
We did get to the Walled Garden, and the honey comes from the farm across the road and up the hill from the shop: you can't get much more local. It's a lovely cloudy amber colour, strained, not filtered, and should contain all the pollen I need to knock the hayfever on the head. Will sort that out tomorrow.
It was hot at Clevedon. Well, hot out of the wind, at any rate: the sea-breeze was cool. We walked along the front to the pier, Kai scrambling over the rocks, and had a Marshfield ice-cream (double chocolate for Kai and Kim, Cointreau and orange for me: Sarah didn't want any) then went out onto the pier itself.
<- I like this sign. It conjures up images of volunteers standing under the pier holding it up with their hands...
The pier is great - you can see the water between the gaps in the planks, which had Kai and Sarah laughing in part fear, part bravado. The little pavilion at the end has the tiniest tea-room on the first floor (it seats about six to eight people, I'd guess) but it's all glass, so you can watch the sea, beach and weather while you sip your tea...
It was very breezy at the end, but the views back towards the town and down the coast are lovely.
It was a pleasant ride back, too. The countryside here is so pretty in the spring.
In other news: The lamb yesterday was just delicious, so tender and tasty. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Ken opened the large compost bin yesterday (I needed some compost for one of the planters) only to find a whole slither of slowworms were living in it. Really big ones too. So I didn't get my compost.
We checked the small bin as well - Ken said last time he emptied the kitchen compost bin our sleek long-tailed mouse was in there (the outdoor compost bin, not the kitchen one). No mouse, but there were cute little nibbly teeth marks all over the stale sesame bagel I'd popped in there the day before...
The cumbles and courgettes, and the first tomatoes, are now out in the GH. I need to plant the former two tomorrow, as the roots are showing through. Just hope we don't have any more frost.
The view across the bay from the end of the pier
Right - back to the rockface. Haven't managed any words yet, but I now have less than 4K to write, so I'm still well on target. I need to go shopping tomorrow, so will lose some of the morning. Like I've lost part of my night. I have Mel [spitspit] Gibson's Passion film on at the moment: thought I'd better try to watch it to see what all the fuss was about. So far it's tedious, grotesque, and hugely, offensively self-indulgent. I'd also say inaccurate, but since the gospels don't agree with each other anyway, and were in any case written decades after the events they purport to tell, by people who weren't even there at the time, that goes without saying. I doubt the Roman soldiery would have been that drunk, either - have no fondness for them, buggers invaded my country some millennia back, but as far as I'm aware their military discipline was pretty good. (Which was why they got away with invading.) Heh. On balance, if I'm going to watch a film about mythical deities, I'd rather it was a Harryhausen one...
[sigh] I thought the sore throat, stinging eyes and snuffles was me going down with a cold.
But no. It's the start of hayfever season, isn't it...
However, Kim's coming over this afternoon for a trip to Clevedon to let the sprogs go rock-rambling and for us to chat: I'll ask if we can head out via the Walled Garden organic shop and restaurant at Wrington. They're open today and they sell very local honey (as in from the hives next door), I've just rung to check.
Good excuse to make another Celtic loaf!
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Last night I downloaded and installed the windows update, as you do.
This morning I boot up, to get an error massage:
RTHDCPL.exe - Illegal System DLL Relocation The system DLL user32.dll was relocated in memory. The application will not run properly. The relocation occurred because the DLL C:\Windows\System32\Hhctrl.ocx occupied an address range reserved for Windows system DLLs. The vendor supplying the DLL should be contacted for a new DLL.With trepidation I boot up all the programmes I use daily, one by one, until I can google the .exe file.
Oh joy. It's the one that controls the RealTek audio panel - you know, the one that I can't use because the bloody thing bollixed up back before Yule. So I checked one of the computer forums...
Those bastards at M$N knew it was going to be a problem before they released the update. They knew - they'd issued a bloody fix for it in advance of the update. You can see it here.
I hate them. I absolutely loathe the bastards.
What do you bet that using this so-called fix completely screws up any hope of my getting the RealTek audio panel to work?
Next computer, I'm going Linux.
In other news, K&K had a fine time, and I hit today's wordage just before they came home, so I can have tonight off. And Doctor Who was fun. Daft, but fun.
Off to grump.
Later edit: Ken tells me I'm now 90% finished.
Wordage done - surprisingly quickly. I think it's that I'm very aware now that I've nearly finished, and I'm really looking forward to (read: desperate for) a break, so the mind is co-operating and throwing out the ideas I need to complete the book.
And I'm fairly pleased. I think I've managed to find a balance between the scholarly and the popular that should appeal to most people. I hope so, anyway!
Heh, it's Friday night, it's ten past two, and I'm tired. Not a hope of doing anything fun tonight...
Well, yesterday was so hectic by the time I finished the day's wordage (at 3.30 am) I didn't really feel like updating. It was good though - invoices prepared and away, various other business matters sorted, most of the Morocco Blue site revised, and I bought a book from amazon.co.uk for £152.04. Well, from one of their booksellers actually. And yes, you did read that right, one hundred and fifty-two pounds and four pence. [wince] And that was half the price we were quoted by the British Library. Never spent so much on a book before, but it's the only one of its type, it's an essential reference book, a business expense, and we both need it - Ken for a proposed book that he's been researching for quite a while, and me as reference material for Haadri (and other works).
I think we'll have to keep it in a safe...
Oh, and the copy of Earthian Vol 1 I bought on ebay arrived! It's a fairly ancient manga - 1988 - but the artwork is beautiful, the characters really endearing, and the stories are interesting. Going to add it to my wish list, along with the anime: there are only four volumes, and the book itself is a work of art, the cover printed on silky, silvery intricately-embossed cream card. It's lovely to hold as well as to read...
Today was fun. I woke up with an essential part of the Introduction to Celtic Symbols in my head, so managed to write a quarter of today's wordage before I'd even properly woken up. Then we spent almost the whole day in the garden: the two new shrubs are planted, we've started clearing the ivy from the copse in preparation for turning it back into a meadow, oiked some of the blanket weed out of Roeg's Pool (planning to tackle the next and split the reeds into two on Sunday or Monday), and Ken took off a layer of grass from the garden side of the pool so we could lay the stones we plan to cement into place (as soon as we have some sand to mix with the concrete: we've run out).
I took a couple of photos so we have something to refer to when we come to do the work (the spaces will be filled with low growing plants and pebbles: I still have half a bagful from a couple of years ago). It'll stop the grass from growing into the pool, provide a little more cover for the fish, and make it easier to keep the water clear.
Then Frodo arrived to play with Kai and stay to tea, which I had to go and buy because this week has been so hectic I haven't had time to plan ahead and stock up. But the spagbol and strawberry cheesecake seemed to go down well - the sprogs ate up at the log scramble. And while I was down at Sainsbug's I saw that New Zealand legs of lamb were half price - half price!!! - and bought a small one for tomorrow's dinner. We can't usually afford lamb, it's hugely expensive, but this one was £5.75, and it's Oestre, and Kai's never had it before... and it was half price!!! Of course, I now feel really guilty about the airmiles it's clocked up...
I'm now about to get the rest of today's wordage started. We were going to spend another day in the garden tomorrow, but Kai wants to go on an adventure with his dad (though if we're too busy he doesn't mind if he can't, he assures us. He's a wonderful, thoughtful child) and after he went to bed we discussed it. It is his long weekend, after all, a little holiday for him. So Ken will take him out, on a train ride, tomorrow and I'll see how much more I can get done while they're gone. I have to confess it's easier working when I don't have the interruptions, not that they're frequent or unnecessary, but they're still distracting.
Right. Back to the rockface. Really not far to go now.
Oh, and YAY!!! Ran a manual Norton update half an hour ago: there was a new Intrusion Prevention file, installed it, and now I can comment again, so whatever the problem was they've fixed it. (Which is a point, wonder if they've fixed the other problem too? Heh, might try to download it tomorrow.)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I forgot to say (and yes, I know I'm supposed to be in bed by now...)
Remember on March 16th I planted those two chitted and halved Lady Balfour potatoes, on the offchance they might take? [grin] I now have two plants coming up in the vegetable bed. Chuffed about that. I think Ken was a bit surprised, though I don't know why. Still hoping the other two come up: we won't get a huge crop from them, but freshly dug new potatoes are an absolute treat.
Maybe I'll try again, see if we can extend the veg patch just a wee bit...
Today's wordage hit. Vegetable bed now sown with some carrots, onions and strange melon-turnip mutation. Lupins in planters on windowsill. More tomatoes on the go. Next stage of the garden's evolution pretty much decided, though we need Kai's input before we effect anything. Morocco Blue website partially revised, need to finish it tomorrow.
And if that weren't enough to make me tired, Kai came bombing home from school and booted up the laptop, saying he had homework: one of the boys at the school in the Gambia that John Cabot supports/has links with has written (to Kai specifically) and as his homework he was going to write a letter back. After he'd rung Frodo to see if he wanted to go down to the park for an hour... Except Frodo wasn't home yet - he was at an afterschool club - so Kai rang Matt to see if he wanted to go down to the park instead. Which he did, so Kai bombed off to meet him and said he'd ring Frodo when he got back...
[blink] Hang on a minute! Where does dinner fit in all this?
As it happened, it didn't have to, because when Kai rang Frodo he was invited round to tea. Bangers and mash, but not the sort I make. No, this was great fun, apparently, bangers and mash and chilli (chilli??) and all sorts of other interesting things in the middle of the table and they all helped themselves, 'like a Japanese meal', Kai informed me...
I must admit I really like the helping yourself from the middle of the table idea. Problem is, we don't have a table (well, we do, but Kai's railway is on it at the moment): it's much easier just to serve everything up in the kitchen. Although with the summer coming on, perhaps I can try it when we eat out of doors.
Anyway, Kai just had time to write the letter and email it to me to print out for him before he stumbled off to bed really tired.
He's off Friday and Monday, nice long weekend for him. I'm determined to take at least one day off this weekend, and get a little more done in the garden. Be nice to make a start on Roeg's Pool...
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
My routine of a morning is usually to boot up, mailwash the email, download and deal with anything urgent, then make breakfast (a bowl of ramen when I have it in, or a bowl of grapefruit and orange with raspberry yoghurt swirled over the top, or a mug of soup - depending on the weather - or for special occasions a bagel) and check the comics while I eat. Then I depress myself with a quick skim of the political blogs, instruct myself with the academic ones, then cheer myself up with the interesting or funny ones. And today, Dark Roasted Blend has a thoroughly chuckle-worthy selection of funnies. I've pinched this one, but please do go and read the rest, especially the correspondence ones, they're hysterical...
"A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now is somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank: Family Member: "I am calling to tell you that she died in January." Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply." Family Member: "Maybe you should turn it over to collections." Citibank: "Since it is two months past due, it already has been." Family Member : "So what will they do when they find out she is dead?" Citibank: "Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!" Family Member: "Do you think God will be mad at her?" Citibank: "Excuse me?" Family Member: "Did you just get what I was telling you --- the part about her being dead?" Citibank: "Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor." Supervisor gets on the phone: Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you, she died in January." Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply." Family Member: "You mean you want to collect from her estate?" Citibank: (Stammer) "Are you her lawyer?" Family Member: "No, I'm her great nephew." (Lawyer info given) Citibank: " Could you fax us a certificate of death?" Family Member: "Sure." (fax number is given) After they get the fax: Citibank: "Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help." Family Member: "Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don't think she will care." Citibank: "Well, the late fees and charges do still apply." Family Member: "Would you like her new billing address?" Citibank: "That might help." Family Member: "Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69." Citibank: "Sir, that's a cemetery!" Family Member: "What do you do with dead people on your planet?"Right - duck ramen finished, time to get some work done...
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
A useful sort of a day. I'm finishing off the Domestic Life section of the Celtic Symbols book and have been writing about food - bread, specifically - and it occurred to me it might be fun to add a recipe that readers can try. But of course, that meant I'd have to try the recipe first, since I never add such a thing to a book without checking it works!
So we picked up a bag of Dove's Farm organic spelt flour and some dried yeast, and I gave it a shot...
I haven't made bread since well before Kai was born, and wasn't sure if I could still remember the basics - and every spelt bread recipe I found gave different instructions. So I took it back to basics and made it up as I went along, using the minimum amounts of ingredients (just 200g of flour and 125ml of warm water), helped by the dim glimmers I could remember of the high-protein bread I used to make and taking into account the ingredients and methods available to the Celts (in this country, that is, and as closely as I can since I don't have a quern or bread oven): honey instead of sugar to activate the yeast, a baking tray instead of a loaf tin, and a low oven temperature (Gas Mark 3).
And it was extremely successful, producing a lovely little domed, oval shaped loaf with a crisp crust, wonderful texture and delicious sweet, rich taste. We scoffed the lot, dripping with butter, before it had a chance to get cold.
It was so quick and easy too - only took just over an hour as opposed to the four or five hours for wholemeal dough, and only a couple of minutes gentle kneading, so it's really easy on my hands. And it's very filling.
So Kai's happy - he now knows what Celtic bread tastes like! And I'm happy, as I can include the recipe and method in the book with a perfectly clear conscience - and I'm reassured I haven't lost my bread-making skills. I'm going to keep the ingredients in stock: we're forever running out of bread at inconvenient times, and this one is so quick to make it's easier (and almost faster) than trudging to the supermarket.
Back to the quern...
Photo taken yesterday on Bristol Bridge, looking across Castle Park towards the new Broadmead construction. Cranes on the horizon and a cloudless sky...
Signed into the Haloscan forum to see if anyone else has had the same problem and they have. They'd left details of how to fix it in the Norton control panel - but I didn't understand the instructions, so have left my own message asking for step-by-step help. Fingers crossed.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Well that was successful. Chinese supermarket for ramen, bank, St Nick's Market for crickets for Rosa, Clifton Triangle for two bottles of Clearspring's organic mirin (haven't been able to find any for ages) and a packet of their sencha, then out to Wyevale to spend Sue's birthday voucher - bought a mock orange bush and the most amazingly fragrant little skimmia (and an organic pest spray, derris dust to slaughter the evil sawfly maggots before they get a chance to attack my medlar, large tub of goldfish food, a pack of plant markers and a packet of lupin seeds. The slugs ate the ones I tried last year, but I've since devastated the slug population, and if I start them off in the GH they'll stand a better chance. I like lupins, they're pretty.) So, Sue, you'll have to come over and admire the shrubs once they're planted and flowering!
BCP meeting went OK, but I'm tired now - long day with a lot of walking and not a lot of sleep last night. Going to play for an hour or two before an early night. Back to the rockface tomorrow.
Re: comments. Chris - I already have the paid version of AVG and agree it's fantastic. I'll check it through and see if it will do everything I need, then I may very well ditch Norton.
Linda - finished and thoroughly enjoyed Skaters, Trekkies and Cool Dudes: the review will be in next month's Crowsnest, barring domestic crises.
Wendy - damn. Thanks for trying though.
GoodTwin - very odd. Tomorrow I'll see if Ken and Kai can post from their computers. If yes, then it's obviously something up with this one. If they can't, I'll assume it's something blocking the IP address - in that case no idea what to do...
[growl] And now blogger is playing silly buggers.
Old Blogger might be reacting fairly slowly for some users, possibly also affecting users logging on into New Blogger. We are working on the issue.It's quarter to midnight at the moment. Quite when this will be posted I have no idea.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Now have slightly less than 9K words to write! 'ooray!!
So, no comments for the moment. Once this manuscript is printed and away, I'm going to spend a day in some serious computer housekeeping: full backup of the entire hard drives, disc cleanup, defrag [gasp!], try to get the audio software working again, and Norton reinstall.
I've also deleted the YouTube Muse videos I had at the bottom of the blog: my current favourite (Bliss) has been removed for 'copyright violation' and the others were taking forever to load...
It's been a nice day. Denis came 'round, said the concrete was dry enough to finish installing the water butt (well, it's empty at the moment and there's no rain forecast for the next week, dammit), and helped Ken cut the downpipe and fix the connector. So we're all set.
Frodo came round to see Kai in the afternoon: they had a lot of fun at the park and in the garden. And Kim rang: her daughter wants to meet up with Kai again, and it's been a while since we talked, so we're hoping to go out next Sunday if the weather's nice (Clevedon, possibly).
We had big pig for dinner - and I made Yorkshire puddings for the first time ever (with organic wholemeal flour rather than plain white, but it worked OK). They were fine and went down well. (And very fast!) Need a little more salt next time though.
And we did our first Feecycle trade - Ken was checking the site and there was a plea for help from a mum whose son had arrived home from school with a gerbil, and she was desperate for a cage. We gave her our old Rotastak stuff, which has been cluttering up the shed for the last 14 years (it's a mammoth set, with - I think - three deep 'basements', three basic habitats, one with wheel, four 'attics', two 'space stations' and miles of tubing: cost us hundreds originally). The gerbil should be happy, and we're two big boxes less to clear up when we come to do the shed (again).
I've now caught up with all the client site stuff - well almost, haven't done the monthly resubmit to the search engines yet, or got the first quarter invoices printed and sent, but I'm quite close.
Or I could relax for the rest of the night and give the hands a rest. Busy day tomorrow, but should be a fun one...
Reached and slightly exceeded my wordage goal.
April the 1st is a bit of a significant date for us. I think (though I can't now be absolutely sure, it might have been February 29th) it was April the 1st 1988 when I proposed to Ken, at the Hope and Grope (Hop and Grapes, that is) in Exeter. On April the 1st 1991 Ken and I gave up smoking. Today our WaveWrights business account becomes a reality. And this is my two thousandth blog post.
Have a happy April the 1st, everyone!
.... sheeeeeeeeep.... neeeeeed sheeeeeeeeeeeeep... Three and half hours is really not long enough.
But it's been a fun day. The slab is mortared in (but we can't put the water butt on it for a week, to let the concrete dry thoroughly). We've watched all of Jonathan Creek now. And my Yaoi Hentai Vol 1 arrived, and the final story had me laughing aloud - the tale of Trach the tentacle monster and the twins Zomax and Zamot, bishiliciously perverted...
Will have to see if I can get the whole series.
And then there was Dr Who, series 29 episode 1. [grin] We thoroughly enjoyed it. David Tennant is as delightfully daft as ever, I really like the new companion, and I'll never look at a rhino the same way again...
But I haven't hit today's wordage yet. I really want to get down to single-thousand figures by Monday (which I shall be taking off: have banking and in-town shopping to get done, and a BCP meeting in the evening), so...
...back to the rockface ...