Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Friday, August 31, 2007
I forgot to say...
Sue sent an email today with some of the funniest funnies I've ever read. They even made Ken laugh, and that's quite a feat! A few favourites...
BBC NORFOLK Stewart White: Who had a worldwide hit with What a Wonderful World? Contestant: I don't know. White: I'll give you some clues: what do you call the part between your hand and your elbow? Contestant: Arm. White: Correct. And if you're not weak, you're . . .? Contestant: Strong. White: Correct - and what was Lord Mountbatten's first name? Contestant: Louis. White: Well, there we are then. So who had a worldwide hit with the song What a Wonderful World? Contestant: Frank Sinatra?Surreal, simply surreal.
But then I checked out bloggers pick of the blogs - Overheard Lines - which also had me nearly pissing myself laughing. I think my favourite is
02 July, 2007 Owner Of Haight Street Bookstore "We don't allow cell phones here. We have this policy because cell phones make people's heads explode. And then the police would close us down as a crime scene."Riiiiiiight...
Well worth a look. Just don't expect it to be a quick look.
Labels: wiping tears of laughter...
Thursday, August 30, 2007
A day of all the small things - ants, grains of sand, blades of grass, that sort of thing - conspiring to trip me up, metaphorically speaking, every time I took my eye off the ground.
Perhaps tomorrow will be more helpful.
On the plus side, Kai's parcel of Lego arrived from Onna! He disappeared upstairs with it in delight, coming down at intervals to show us ever more weird and wonderful mechanisms - no idea what they were or what they did but he was very pleased with them. [GLOMPS onna] Many thanks! Tomorrow I'll have a go at paying the postage through Paypal.
I also forgot to say that Ken got a dentist appointment for 2.30 pm on Tuesday last: she took the old filling completely out and put a new one in, and so far it seems OK...
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Where do the haddock go?!
But the settees are now ordered and paid for, and we'll be contacted when they arrive at the store. While I was over there I picked up a soil testing kit (Apparently blueberries need an acidic soil. Fortunately adding tea leaves and coffee grounds to the soil will increase its acidity, and Ken is an inveterate tea drinker...) from Focus: hopefully check that tomorrow, as I'd like to get the bush in the ground - as soon as we've decided where it's going to live.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Well, Kai's first day back at school and in the next year went very well. He's complaining that he feels short though - I guess the other sprogs had faster growth spurts than he did over the summer!
His physical appearance is changing too - he no longer looks like a child: his face is beginning to assume its adult form (he's going to be quite good-looking, I think!) and his body is developing the early hints of adult lines. It's absolutely fascinating to watch...
His voice is lower too.
I got the major week's shop over and done, plus a whole load of little business bits and pieces. My amazon.ca-ordered copy of the second Vampire High DVD arrived (that was quick! Earliest quoted date was end November! Chuffed I am). Read up on blueberry bushes, and it seems having a second bush of a different cultivar (if that's the right term) will improve and increase the yield of both through cross-pollination. [long-suffering sigh] Oh dear. Looks like I may have to schedule in a trip to the Cadbury Garden Centre at Congresbury... [bg]
Right. Haadri: Prime Contact. There's a little more news over on the Haadri blog (well, there will be shortly when I've logged out, logged back in and written it!)
Oh, and remember I said I paid for Space Rangers DVD on ebay and then found the seller had gone missing? Well, Paypal have decided the case in my favour and refunded me the cash. Dead chuffed. And this afternoon the replacement copy I ordered from the Melbourne seller arrived, so altogether I'm very satisfied with the way the whole matter was resolved.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Warning: Big Scary Spider Photos Further Down..."Right." said my mother. "I want you and Ken to get yourself a new sofa. Or suite if you prefer. Something really nice and comfortable. We're buying it for you as your anniversary/Yule present."
"We can't leave you anything when we go," she continued, not giving me time to argue. "so we'd rather do it now and see you enjoy it. Not over £1 thousand though, please."
But she was serious, so this afternoon I trawled through the DFS website (disappointing) and Ikea (ditto), and I already know the selection in MFI is pretty dire. So Ken and I sauntered to the Furniture Mill (over the Bath Rd where Focus and MFI live. That area is apparently called Tramway Business Park, because the tram used to run there...) Spent about an hour looking around the hundred or so different suites, shortlisted the choice down to three (there were others we liked but our house wasn't designed for the massive big lounge suites they make these days, so we had to measure up and discard some nice ones), then whittled that down to two, both with one three-seater and one two-seater settee. The suite we preferred was larger than the other, so we had to come back and re-measure the space. It will fit - just - with not a lot of room to spare, but as I pointed out, the only things that happen in the lounge are sprawling, reading, watching TV, and orchid care. We don't need a lot of spare room. It means the futon will have to come out here, but that's OK.
To have the material we want, shades of olive green and gold, we'll have to order it, which will take four weeks, but that is also fine. Mum says she'll transfer the cash tomorrow and to go ahead and get the rest organised this week.
I am very chuffed!
And we bought a blueberry bush from Focus on the way back (they're having a 'stock liquidation' sale. though I don't call 10% off much of a reduction...)
We finally got around to repotting Rosa, using the 'bottle capture' method. To avoid extra stress I just held her while Ken cleaned out the tank and Kai put in new substrate, her hide and water bowl.
Ken also took a couple of photos while she was in the tank -
She'll be much happier in a clean tank.
This does mean that I didn't manage anything I had scheduled, but that's OK. Kai's back to school tomorrow so I'll have more undistracted haddock to myself.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Phew. Washing done, shopping bought (made a decently hot chili con carne this time, which went down very well), house vacuumed, orchids tended, Kai's hair trimmed, Quyn bathed. Two basic index pages set up and basic costing done for Haadri: Prime Contact. Worked out how to programme the memory in the new phone (no problem, took two minutes). Ken backed up his hard drive onto Nigel - took all afternoon, but seems to have been successful. Kai spent the afternoon ripping out the ivy from his den - very useful! Review finished and emailed. Didn't have time to make Roman bread or repot Rosa - planning that for tomorrow. Still need to sew name tags into a couple of items of Kai's school clothes, and he needs to sort out his bookbag, but otherwise he's ready for Year Eight!
Whoever said Sunday was a day of rest should try living here...
Realised I forgot to say - Kai and I were OK at the dentist (which I feel a little uneasy about, as she's not made any suggestions about a brace to pull Kai's misaligned tooth into place) and she put a facing repair on Ken's tooth. She did say it might not work, and if so he'd have to have the whole thing replaced... Heh, it cracked off the next morning as he was eating his muesli. Bugger of it is it's Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow, and the surgery will be closed. Fingers crossed they can fit him in as an emergency very soon.
Still to do tomorrow (other than make bread and repot Rosa): Paypal business account, find out how we get a barcode, sort out the publishing pages, design the H: PC page (which will require a revised word count - it's a fairly hefty book), find out the postage from the printer and factor it in to the costing, check review sites/magazines, consider publicity. And devise two logos. Well, OK, maybe not all of it can be done tomorrow, but certainly in the very near future. Everything else will have to wait for a month or so: I need to re-read/revise the text. And decide on possible illustrations...
It's all go, innit?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I loathe my phone. Not my mobile, that's imperfectly fine, I mean the landline phone that sits beside my scanner. It was a cheap 'n' nasty free gift from a catalogue ages ago, and since at the time my old phone was on the blink, I thought it was better than nothing and made it do. It had ten-number memory, but no volume control, and was forever refusing to connect to Ken's mobile. Just Ken's: it was OK with everything else.
So when Ken said there was a thirteen-number memory slim BT phone on Freecycle and was I interested, of course I said yes. Only it had to be picked up before 10.30 this morning, and it was a fair distance away across town.
K&K headed off well before I woke up, on FirstDay tickets, and after picking up the phone (which is very nice but has no instruction booklet, so keying in the memory numbers will be fun!) just took off all over the city, stopping off at Antics for Kai to buy some model railway making stuff, then heading to Bedminster to check out the model shop that's no longer there, and finally leaping on the number 1 for a round trip to Cribbs Causeway and back, just for the hell of it. Ten hours on buses. Ouch.
But they thoroughly enjoyed it - fun without being too exhausting. I watched the first four episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho (rented from LoveFilm), an old series that I know an awful lot about but have never managed to see. (I enjoyed it so much I've added the rest of LoveFilm's collection to my rental list. And Kuwabara is a real sweetie. Apparently his seiyu (voice actor) is the same as Radditsu in DBZ.) Then made a start on the publishing index page - not yet finished - and the latest Spiral review. Gave Quyn a fairly major pruning. And made pasta salad for dinner for Ken and I (my pasta salad involves fusili, tinned tuna, pineapple pieces, quartered pomodorino tomatoes, chunks of (home grown this time) cucumber, finely chopped spring onions, finely chopped peppers, quartered hard-boiled eggs and diced smoked Bavarian cheese - these last two more for garnish than anything) - tasty and healthy but a little time-consuming to make.
Now going to watch GetBackers Vol 4 before getting on with something constructive - like answering emails!
In other news, see item 4 here...
Friday, August 24, 2007
[bemused] I was woken early by the sound of a skip-bearing lorry rattling up and down the road searching for the right address...
Not much point trying to get back to sleep, so I came down to check mail. Kai came bombing down soon afterwards, apologising for being late (8.30? Not what I'd call late) but he was dreaming that a pregnant man was about to give birth, the midwife was a small but very intelligent monkey, and he just had to find out what happened next.
[blink] And no, he hasn't read any AC.
"So what happened next?" we asked agog.
"Oh," he said, shrugging, "turned out all it was was he really really needed the loo..."
Can we say anti-climactic?
Today was fun, if exhausting. The X39 arrived as we reached the bus-stop at 10.20, and cruised into Marlborough St in time for us to get out, saunter up to bay 18 and get straight on the Clevedon bus, which was one of those wonderful old rattly coaches that's nearly all window - like driving in a goldfish bowl. It's a lovely ride all round the houses, through Backwell's back roads, up around Nailsea's extremely posh and expensive houses, along Tickenham's main road with its extremelier posher and expensiver houses, then all through Clevedon, 'til we finally arrived at the green.
After a quick jolt around the miniature railway we had our game of Crazy Golf. OK, it's not the craziest Crazy Golf course ever, and neither of us can play golf to save our lives, but much hilarity was heard as we miss-hit and chortled our way around it. A little further on Kai went for a scramble on the rocks, and met a couple of sprogs to play with, which he enjoyed. We headed off to the bus to Weston-super-Mare at 20 past 1, giving us enough time to get to the bus-stop. I thought, anyway - til I found that the clock on my phone was ten minutes slow. [sigh] Every week I have to correct it, either forwards or back. I have the same damned trouble with the phone clock as I have with watches...
Anyway, the X25 finally came (there's only one an hour) and we headed off to Weston. That was an interesting trip. The bus was another old one, and outside of Clevedon it joined the M5, of all things. (I didn't think buses were even allowed on motorways!) Ten minutes later, after watching everything zip past us as we pootled along, it turned off to Weston, and half an hour later we were on the front.
The miniature railway is right along at the other end of the beach, about a mile from the pier, and today was the hottest day of the year. Fortunately there's a land-train that stops opposite the mini railway. (Landtrain photograph stolen from this site.) The railway is about a half a mile around the track, and kind of cute, though not really anything much to brag about. Still, we both had a go, then Kai went round by himself.
We arrived back at quarter to seven, tired and hot but having had a great time.
Dentist in the morning. Check up for Kai and I, but poor Ken lost half a tooth (vertically) the day before yesterday and needs to have it reconstructed... Hope they can do it tomorrow, he's not enjoying things at the moment.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Kai had a wonderful time at Hengrove Park with the N sprog and his dad this afternoon, then back to theirs for tea - which he really loved, chicken with peppers and courgettes in some sort of light sauce (I've emailed to ask for the recipe, as that sounds like something we'd all enjoy! ... ah. The email has bounced back. The dad was saying he's having problems with Norton rejecting things he wants to come through. Perhaps I ought to go up there and see if I can help...)
I went shopping. 'nuff said.
Looks like I'm taking Kai to Clevedon tomorrow: he fancies a game of Crazy Golf... Not keen on it myself, but what the hell, we like the town, there's a mini-railway and rocks to scramble on... And if I'm lucky, the bus might stop at Congresbury Garden Centre on the way back. (I can't check, the bloody site is down.)
Tired, and my back is still very painful, dammit. Trying for an early night...
A true seme can top even if he's tied up, blindfolded and pinned beneath several tonnes of concrete in the depths of the Red Sea. (from Yaoi Daily)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Well that was fun!
Yesterday early morning, while idly checking ebay, I found three Trigun yaoi raw doujinshi being offered, at ridiculously small prices (52p. Plus £3.35 p&p...) and with what look to me like TN covers. (I love TN's work.) So I put them on watch, and at midnight last night got the email saying there was just five and half hours left to bid.
Now, I'd actually forgotten about them in yesterday's busyness, but I'd had a nap in the afternoon so staying up until 5.30am wasn't a problem. Bidding was very slow at that point - one bid for one of them, 2 for another and 5 for the one I was particularly interested in, which has a full colour glossy fold out mini-poster of bondage!Legato (mmmm Legato...)
Decided to wait til the last minute (my usual strategy. It's failed me once, but generally works) so got stuck into a long HP fic I've had saved on the hard-drive for... um... must be a couple of years at least, while I waited for the time to pass.
Come 5.17 am I took another look. Oh, High Drama! The bloody server kept logging me out, then telling me I didn't have cookies enabled... [snarl] When I finally managed to login there were only seven minutes left...
Well, the bid for Red Typhoon went through with no problems (end cost £1.04), but the other two weren't so easy: one of the other bidders had obviously put in a maximum bid, which meant I had to keep increasing mine incrementally until I beat it. And the clock kept ticking...
Did it though - got Love and Peace, the one I really wanted (for £6.56, pretty good!) Not the third - Red and Black - unfortunately: I simply ran out of time. But I'm not complaining!
Because this morning... um, afternoon, when I finally surfaced, I found an ebay 'second chance' email offering Red and Black on [Buy Now] at my final bid price of £2.52 - I guess the seller had two copies. [happy grin] So I now have all three of them coming over from Japan. Heh, the postage is more expensive than the doujinshi!
I have solemnly promised Ken I will not look at ebay for a month...
Today. Where did today go? I blinked and missed it.
Still, the snupin fics Restraint and Unchained (which I finished last night) will be up in the (other) Zone in an hour or so...
(Why on earth would a box of crayons be considered 'cool'?)
Labels: short stories
Sunday, August 19, 2007
[GLOMPS Onna]You're an absolute star! Many thanks: Kai is over the moon.
[growl] It's been one of those days...
I discovered yesterday that there'd been something of a cockup in our account with LoveFilm. Not going to whinge as I think it was six of one, half a dozen of the other as to whether we or the company are to blame. However, to get the most out of the mixup I now somehow have to make the time to watch as many DVDs as I can possibly squeeze into the next 34 days...
Then, after searching for nearly an hour, Kai found the Lego pneumatics pieces he wants, on a US site. I cheerfully opened an account with them, filled up the basket, got to the checkout - only to find they won't ship outside the US. Currently seeing if I can work out something with Onna, but I'm a little miffed. Lego have a monopoly and I swear they take advantage of it.
Then, after the phraggerfil/Space Rangers/ebay dèbacle I found another seller, just up the road in Cirencester, and put in a bid last night - only to find that while I was eating dinner this evening I'd been outbid and the sale had ended.
And Kai didn't like the sweet and sour.
AAAARRGGHH!!! Yes, only small things, wholly insignificant in the larger arena, but they can really muck up your day...
[humph] Anyway... Kai struggled through his dinner, bless him, and ate most of it. Next time I'll make him something else. I managed to find several other Space Rangers sellers on ebay, all of them in Australia, but willing to ship worldwide, and the exchange rate is very favourable at the moment, so I've ordered a copy. With insurance. Hopefully it'll be third time lucky. I've found somewhere for the slow-cooker to live. And we watched Johnny English this afternoon and to my surprise - because generally speaking I can't stand Rowan Atkinson, except in his incarnation of the second Blackadder, where he was both deliciously sexy and an irresistible bastard - enjoyed it. Sprog is now watching Jaws 3 - terrible, terrible film but he's seen the other two and likes a complete set. Plus he was watching the Mythbusters shark experiments earlier, so is in the mood.
Must do something creative...
Saturday, August 18, 2007
K&K spent five hours going back and forth, back and forth on the Avon Valley Railway - Kai thoroughly enjoyed it (Ken found it soporific) despite the near-constant drizzle. I finished a review and cleared some client webwork (and actually did a little housework. Though I still can't quite work out where to put the slow-cooker.)
Can do something fun tonight. If I can stay awake. I've obviously used up all the spare energy that long sleep gave me.
[pondering] Shall I make sweet and sour for dinner tomorrow? Kai doesn't think he's ever had it, and I used to make a nice one...
[gazes forlornly after the haddock fleeing through every available exit, thumbing their noses, mooning and blowing raspberries...]
Last night was a late one - but I did enjoy the second volume of Get Backers! A lot of fun, and beautifully designed: I'd forgotten how much I like it.
Black Jack, however, I'd seen before - must have been a late night Sci-Fi Channel anime offering back when they still showed anime. OK, but not the best I've seen.
So Ken woke me at 10.30 announcing that there was someone offering a slow-cooker on Freecycle and would I like to ring them. Bwuh? Not awake. Not awake 'til after second 'feinne. By which time said slow-cooker would be gone, as I know from experience they go really quickly...
Stumbled downstairs about ten to eleven. Rang after first glass of coke. No answer. Left voicemail, just in case. Two minutes later got call back.
YAY!!Only, the Freecycler was over at Downend (which, despite its name, is actually on top of a long hill, the same one that John Cabot is on but a bit further north than the school), a two-bus ride from here. Three cheers for FirstDay tickets, say I!
Got back home about three hours after heading off - and got dropped straight into a flurry of checking print-on-demand printers/publishers. All of which require .pdf documents. So we now have Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional (unopened, unregistered) on its way to us from ebay, at a third of the price of the shop version. Mad. But necessary.
Much to our delight the block of 100 ISBN numbers that we bought when running the small press is still valid (cost £100 for 100 back then: these days, Ken tells me, it's £100 for 10. We only used about 15 of them at the time, so still have about 85 left. This is very good news). Why is this of interest? Because it's a step closer to publishing Haadri ourselves. And possibly the Alliance Chronicles too...
More as it happens.
While in ebay I thought to check on my account, because the Space Rangers DVD I bought still hasn't arrived. (I knew it was going to be late as the seller was on holiday.) To my horror the seller, phraggerfil, is no longer a registered ebay seller, leaving me out of pocket and without the DVD (and no doubt there are others in the same situation). I've started a whatdyamacallit, dispute case with PayPal: more on that as it progresses. [sigh] Nothing's ever easy 'round here.
I forgot to mention... On Wednesday, after banking, I went through the open farmers' market outside St Nick's on my way to the opticians, and was delighted to find that a large number of the regular stalls were selling organic (Soil Association certified) fruit and veg! Loose. And wrapped in brown paper bags instead of plastic and cling-film! I bought two heads of the best broccoli I've ever tasted, so fresh it could have been picked that morning. The stalls are there every Wed I think: going to start walking into town to shop at them (cheaper than Sainsbury's and the lack of unrecycleable wrappers is a big plus). I also bought a punnet of strawberries and another of raspberries, both locally grown though not organic, and packed in plastic, unfortunately, at £1.50 each. £1.50! Raspberries were £2.99 in Sainsbug's last time I checked. We had summer berries with cream for pudden...
Ken is taking Kai to the Avon Valley Railway tomorrow. I have more than enough to do here, so it'll be another busy day.
Tired now, but I haven't done anything creative today, yet...
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Yes, it does look rather sickly and anaemic. And Kai was distinctly unenthused. But I thought I'd better rescue it while it still had a bit of green in it.
And actually, once you cut the (still-prickly) skin off, it's not bad. A little bitter, but I've tasted far worse from the supermarket. There are more coming, one of which actually looks like a real cucumber...
Indoor garden. -> I love my plants.
The last of our freebie LoveFilm DVDs arrived today: I watched Sol Bianca this afternoon. It's old (1991) but still a good watch: I thoroughly enjoyed it. Still have Black Jack and GetBackers Vol 2 to watch so I can return them tomorrow. But I've got a lot done today: I reckon I can take the night off.
Oh, and Kai had a great time at the zoo!
On a far less pleasant note, this is disgusting. I hope they catch and lynch the bastard responsible.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
So Ken wakes me at 11 (after a disturbed night - not sure what I've done to my lower back but it hurts like hell...) saying that there'd been a severe weather warning forecast, and if I wanted to get into town and back before the rain hit us I'd better go very soon. One (just one!) glass of diet coke later I'm off to the bus-stop, dodging the raindrops with blithe abandon. Well, OK, perhaps blithe isn't quite the right word...
It didn't take too long, and I didn't get very wet (managed to miss most of the showers, although I had forgotten that the pavement flagstones along Baldwin Street are like glass when wet, and I was wearing sandals with no grip...) Picked up my new glasses (and am having the devil of a time getting used to them, although at least these do appear to be correct, unlike the last ones), did banking and picked up the last required clay pot - for the orchids - from Wilkinsons.
We haven't had really bad weather today though - the odd heavy but short downpour. It's supposed to be better tomorrow. Fingers crossed, as Kai is going to the Zoo with the N sprog and his family.
And on the subject of orchids...
At 1.30 today. You can see the next bud opening at the back...
I still think it's absolutely beautiful, and I love the colours!
More photos later.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
[sigh] The whole damn thing to sleep on and Raptor has decided she'd rather scrunch down a little hollow on the top of the (all of 4" thick) futon and sleep there... Cats...
<- This was the phalaenopsis flower spike last night, about midnight...
And this -> Was it today about lunchtime today.
And this is the first bud as of half an hour ago... You can practically see it opening as time goes on...
I'm so excited!
There will be more photos later...
K&K took off on a FirstDay ticket today at about 1pm and didn't arrive back until around 8.30. They had a fine time, in between the showers, travelling out to Hanham (and apparently getting lost in a wood called 'Magpie Bottom' which is, Kai thinks, somewhere close to John Cabot) then back into town and out to Cribbs Causeway and back, just for the hell of it and to enjoy the tickets.
I wrote a review, cleared some business, Dysoned the downstairs and generally pottered, but it all looks better for it.
And crawling on the planet's face Some insects called the human race Lost in time, and lost in space And meaningI've always loved those lyrics - I find them truly inspirational, that something as insignificant as humanity can recognise and envisage its place in the universe. (We make our own meanings, of course.) And why have I mentioned it? Because of the evening... After dinner Kai started talking about time, the speed of light and general relativity - which reminded me that I'd found this (via the wonderful Watchismo Times, a blog I discovered about a year ago and keep forgetting to add to my 'Own Reads' list) completely fascinating article on Planck time and the Planck scale. The linked pieces in the article are wholly absorbing too (for me, anyway!) It led to a lively debate about the nature of time...
And don't you just love synchronicity? It just so happens that BBC4 is now showing Time-
"Series in which Michio Kaku goes on an extraordinary exploration of the world in search of time. This edition looks at the planet's time and asks where we came from and where we are going. Michio's journey takes him to the Grand Canyon, the Arizona Meteor Crater and the most active volcano in the world in Hawaii."This episode is about geologic time, not my main interest but still fascinating, and all useful research for Haadri. It's followed by Atom
"The Clash of The Titans. Series 1, episode 1. The discovery that everything is made from atoms has been referred to as the greatest scientific breakthrough in history. As scientists delved deep into the atom, they unravelled nature's most shocking secrets and abandoned traditional beliefs, leading to a whole new science which still underpins modern physics, chemistry and biology, and maybe even life itself. Nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of this discovery and the brilliant minds behind the breakthrough.I shall catch that too.
And I want one of these. I can't find a proper picture of it - it's astonishingly beautiful - but there's more info here and here.
Later edit: [chortling] So, the Carlsberg brewery coughed up the cash for Niels Bohr to build his institute to research atomic theory and quantum mechanics. That explains the 'splitting the beer atom' jokes in Young Einstein...
Monday, August 13, 2007
[bemused] Autumn's arrived a bit early this year, hasn't it?
Busy day. Online business type things, clearing some of the shed-designated stuff from my table into the shed now there's space, and making a start on tidying up the lounge. Kai watched Open Season (again. I tried, but found it just... tedious). This evening we all sat down for The Place Promised In Our Earlier Days, which is beautiful, but very complex and multi-layered: we really need to watch it at least once more to really 'get' the story, I think, and we don't have time - it has to go back tomorrow.
Afterwards we all slipped out into the garden to watch for Perseids - and actually saw three before the sky clouded over and it started raining. Well, K&K saw three, I only saw one - I was watching for the hedgehog that was rootling in the rockery. I'm not sure it was the one I saw originally; it looked smaller, but that could just have been the uncertain light. It was very cute though, scuttling under the side gate on its twinkling little legs when we first disturbed it, before coming back into the main garden.
Kai is now watching Alien Lockdown - he's quite enjoying being allowed up late this holiday, I think - and in a little while I'll check the sky again, see if the clouds have cleared. Be nice to see a few more meteors if we can, though of course the light levels here are not conducive to any decent skygazing... ah well. We take what we can until we can change things.
Oh, and this, via Sue, is very interesting - not to mention ire-raising. Arrogant bastards.
I had almost ten hours sleep last night. Almost enough to do me for the next month! [grin]
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Well, that's the shed done - looks a lot bigger and brighter in there, and we can now reach everything without having to pull other stuff out first. I may even have found someone to take all the wood we've been hanging onto for years, 'just in case' - the Bristol Wood Recycling Project - though that depends on their collection terms.
And we've started repainting the fence - always a horrible job.
I was bitten again while watering last night; whatever it was drew blood and has made my ankle swollen, red and hard. Took a couple of piriton but they don't seem to have done much, dammit. This bite is itching and stinging at the same time - most uncomfortable.
"It's never too late to panic..." (a gem from Kai)
[sigh] No lie-in, and I didn't manage to make time for a nap either. Got the proof revisions sent off early then carried on with the shed. Found a laaaaarge pot of pale blue Great Mills paint (old: Great Mills has been Focus over the Bath Rd for years) that was two-thirds full, and since I hate wasting anything I'm using it to paint the inside of hte shed walls - straight onto the brick, so it's not a good job, but it lightens and brightens the place, so it'll do. Managed to get a third painted while Ken cut the shelving to fit, and we also got shot of another whole load of rubbish. Which is all good, except now I can hardly keep my eyes open. Legs aching too, from sitting on hard sand for hours yesterday. Tch', I'm falling to bits...
There was some mumbling about painting the fence tomorrow, but I'm having nowt to do with that...
Friday, August 10, 2007
Finished. And I'm really very pleased. Some of my text has had to be cut, but it's been done sensitively, and keeps the essential spirit in place. Though I say it myself it's a beautiful book, even though I've waxed positively lyrical in places. Or maybe because of it: eyes drooping with tiredness and brain not co-operating. The illustrations are gorgeous. And the Managing Editor is happy with it (said it's an 'incredibly vibrant text' and 'an enchanting read' in her letter to me. That's wonderful to hear, especially given the frenetic circumstances under which I wrote it!)
Oh, can't have a lie-in: need to be up early to get the revisions checked over quickly and emailed off. [sigh] Maybe I can have a nap later.
Labels: Celtic Symbols
Absolutely shattered and I still have 85 pages of proof-reading/amendments to do...
But it was a reasonable day. I sat a little way away from the sprogs on the way out - thought they'd enjoy the trip more if the agèd parent wasn't looking over their shoulder - and it was fascinating listening to them: the conversation meandered from time-travel, black holes and the multiverse through 'trees I have climbed' to saving the world. If that pair carry on like this I swear they'll have the first functional TARDIS up and running by the time they're 30...
They enjoyed the beach, spent most of it reconstructing scenes from LotR. At least, that's what it looked like to me: I can see the two towers and Mt Doom. Fair enough, they didn't have a railway running between them, but still... I had a notebook, so spent the afternoon working on Haadri background.
The Weston railway track - and lily pond. Very pretty. ->
Coming back was horrendous. We crawled out of Weston, and crawled into Briz all the way from the Cumberland Basin - the centre was damn-near gridlocked. A journey that should have taken just over an hour took us two and a half...
N sprog's dad arrived to pick him up before we got back, so dinner was something of a hurried affair. The sprogs ate in the garden while some of the the Fiesta balloons went over, which was fun. Except for the Cadbury Cream Egg one. Long term readers may remember me commenting that I used to like the confection, until Cadbury ran an ad showing a pregnant woman dunking cold chips (fries, for any non-Brits reading) into a cream egg, which image promptly made me feel nauseous. Now I can't look at a Cadbury Cream Egg without remembering the ad, and can't bear to eat them. Or watch them being eaten, for that matter. So having a bloody great Cadbury Cream Balloon float overhead wasn't exactly pleasant.
Lie in tomorrow. But first I have to get this proof-reading finished...
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Optician's appointment for Kai and me this morning - Kai's first (the school want all the students to have them). His eyesight is absolutely fine (as we knew it would be): I need a change of lenses (which I also expected). They'll be ready next Wednesday.
Weston-super-Mare on the morrow for Kai and N sprog - catching the 11 am bus. I'm tired now - dread to think what I'll be like tomorrow. And I still haven't done the proof-reading.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Yes, I'd be scared if I saw one of these coming at me at speed...
After my comment about wombats Lutra told me that wombats can in fact charge, and can also be very heavy... The pic above is a link to a site about Australian animals.
I was supposed to be writing the next Spiral review this evening, but Ken was channel hopping and found Saira Khan's Pakistan Adventure, and it's been absolutely fascinating. And grippping: I haven't been able to drag myself away. If you ever get the chance to watch it I'd recommend it highly (even if only for the incredible landscapes and her gorgeous clothes, Lutra!)
As for Shrek 3... it had some amusing moments, but on the whole was disappointing and predictable. And I'm getting very tired of American film stereotypes.
Better get some work done. Had a quick scan through the Celtic Symbols proofs to see how much work is involved (not a lot) and the book looks just beautiful. They've incorporated the card images from Celtic Messages and added others to make it a work of art. They've got the dedication - to onna - right as well. I'm very pleased. Will try to get the cover art up on the main site tomorrow.
The International Space Station will be overhead tonight at 11.20 (we missed the one at 9.45: we were engrossed in the documentary). With a little luck I'll remember to go out to watch. Assuming the hedgehogs aren't making funny noises to scare me away...
Generally speaking there aren't that many things that frighten me. Well, other than the things that frighten any rational person - war, debilitating illness, the suffering of those I love, the expectation of pain, those sorts of things. But last night I found myself scared to step outside the patio doors...
It was really very silly, and I told myself so at the time, but I could feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck and down my arms. And all because of a noise.
Mind you, it was a most unpleasant noise, loud enough for me to hear from inside with the doors closed. A sort of wheezing, choked whimpering, followed by loud panting - the sort of heavy breathing obscene phone-callers make (and yes, I have heard that. You'd be surprised the sort of perverts that used to call BT customer services. Although actually, no, you probably wouldn't. Anyway...)
Now, we're talking about my garden, and I know there's nothing out there that can hurt me. Well, OK, there are insects whose bites produce an allergic reaction, and a handful of poisonous plants, and things with thorns, but nothing that can really do any harm. But it was dark, and waving a torch around didn't reveal anything, and I couldn't tell quite where it was coming from. It sounded like the rockery - but after clearing away the love-in-a-mist most of the space is now visible, except around the lavender bush and under the bay tree, and nothing was moving.
And shame upon me, I was too scared to take a couple of steps walk up the garden to see what was making the noise.
In the light of day and given the lack of any bodies I have to assume it was a hedgehog - or, more likely, two hedgehogs making lots of baby hedgehogs: I checked this morning and August is their second, less-defined mating season - but the combination of late-night darkness, loud unfamiliar sounds and not being able to see what was happening was chilling.
But the daftest thing was that I dreamed it was a wombat. Seriously. My last dream before waking - being woken, I mean - was that I'd told K&K about it and we all went into the garden to check, only to find a wombat charging around snortling. [shakes head] I'm sure wombats amble rather than charge. And wombats don't look like hedgehogs anyway...
Odd, very odd.
Better get ready to take Kai to the Showcase. More later.
Oh what fun... But it's a third done, one large bin-bag full of rubbish, and all the garden tools and supplies sorted and stored where I can get at them. Still have to do the rest of the shed, but it's a good start.
Taking Kai to see Shrek 3 tomorrow.
Edit Wed: Tch'. It was the start of the clearing out of the shed that was such fun, in case that wasn't clear. It had got to the stage where trying to pull anything out resulted in seventeen other things falling out on your foot, so Something Had To Be Done....
Monday, August 06, 2007
Wonders will never cease, the day went as planned, with much gardening done - I've pulled up and composted most of the love-in-a-mist flowers in time to stop millions of the seeds inveigling themselves into the top soil (they've positively swamped the rockery this year and I'd prefer to avoid that in 08) and had a stab at tackling a lot of the other weeds amongst the stones. It looks a little tidier now, although there's still a lot to do.
We ate dinner al fresco this evening, first time this year. It was lovely, especially with home-grown spuds and carrots!
Ken had a meeting this evening, so Kai and I watched the second Spiral DVD - which unfortunately ends on a whopping great cliffhanger. It was too late, alas, to watch the next ep by then but I've promised we'll catch it tomorrow.
Now have to write the review...
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Pre-dawn in the bat-haunted garden...
It's an extraordinarily beautiful morning, a brilliant half-moon perched on the edge of the roof with a bright planet - Saturn? Jupiter? I'll check later - to sunward, where the regal blue of the night sky is fading to deep turquoise on the horizon. There are no clouds, just skeins of sea-seeking gulls, their mournful voices adding surreality to the early morning hissss of traffic on the Bath Rd. Lower down the rockery and meadow are full of stirrings, little rustlings of frog or slowworm or mouse: the hedgehog would be long-gone by now, curled up spines outward like a chestnut, awaiting the next darkness.
And above is the bat. Most likely a pipistrelle, skimming the air at less than head height, circling the garden over and over and over again, more than welcome to its bounty. My garden is open-handed, happy to share its riches.
It's at such times that life's sheer preciousness makes me weep.
So, after an unusually long lie-in I managed to get me arse in gear and head out gardenwards...
Ken mowed while I attacked the veg patch. Weeds. Loathe the things. 'course, if I'd just pull 'em up when they first appear I wouldn't have the whackin' great job I had this afternoon. Filled the wheelbarrow, they did. But it's done, and while I was at it I lifted the bronze fennel that had appeared in the bed and popped it into a planter. And the green edging is now in place, which should make keeping the bed tended a little easier. Ken dug up the potatoes for me - not exactly a huge crop; I'm wondering if perhaps Lady Balfour is a light cropper, it would explain why they're so expensive to buy - enough for accompanying spuds for at least two meals, so not a wasted effort. We have some lovely little sweet carrots for tomorrow's dinner, too, and I've sown a couple more rows of carrots and onions where the potatoes were.
And I ate the first tomato of the year! Sweet...
There was enough of the edging to go around the lupins as well. I must try to get a photo tomorrow: one of the plants has the most gorgeous deep purple flowers (unfortunately most of them were eaten before I could rescue them but there are a couple left to show the colour).
We had a small bowl of wonderfully sweet blackberries, picked from the brambles on the top of the wall, with cream for pudding after the (incredibly not-hot but it's the first time I've tried Kai on it and didn't want to put him off by making it the temperature I prefer it. [rolls eyes] He liked it a lot but says please can I make it hotter next time...) chili con carne I made for dinner.
I then had a nap while K&K watched Jaws 2 (Kai's enjoying the Jaws films, gruesome childe) and after sprog had gone to bed we stuck on Kekko Kamen. Which is an absolute riot! Pure hentai and deliciously self-mocking with it. I like Go Nagai.
Now taking the evening off. Tomorrow will be busy in the garden again - I want to get a lot of trimming around shrubs, meadow and pool done before the forecast damp weather - and I still have to write my biog and check through the proofs for the Celtic Symbols book. We have the cover artwork now, though, and it looks lovely. I need to extract it from the .pdf, then we'll post it on the main site.
(I'm back-timing this blog post, by the way. Don't usually but it's all about Saturday and I'm late because Kekko Kamen was longer that I thought it would be!)
Friday, August 03, 2007
The Second Severn Bridge. That's Wales over the water!
Fortunately the public loos were open, so after a quick scrub (and a tortilla) he was a lot happier, and he and Kai scrambled on the rocks right the way along to the salt-marsh.
It was hot - my face is a little pink again - and next time I really must take more to drink. Especially since the Visitor's Centre is now long-closed, if its general air of dereliction is anything to go by. No luxury ice-cream for us today!
I have a great fondness for bridges - for their function as much as for their form. This is one of my favourites.
We came back a little earlier than I'd anticipated, arriving home at around five, but that was fine: the sprogs ate their pizza and chips then busied themselves in the garden, organising the struts for a teepee in Kai's den (he now wants tarpaulin to go over it. I tried suggesting he collect dried leaves from my 'palm' tree to use as roofing material but he was having none of it...) and trimming the grass around a couple of my shrubs, which was much appreciated.
There are two new wind turbines at Avonmouth docks - beautiful stately things they are. One was working when we were on our way back: unfortunately I wasn't sufficiently on the ball to get any decent photos.
Thinking we might try to get to Weston-super-Mare next week.
I'm hoping to get a little gardening done tomorrow - the weather's supposed to be pretty much the same as today. I really want to sort out the shed too, but that'll take two of us (three would be better: I think Kai will join in) and a considerable amount of time. It would be good to get it done this holiday though.
Right. Time do get something constructive done.
Well that was odd. ITV4 were showing The Transformers Movie (1986) this evening. I've had it on in the background and still can't decide whether I liked it or not. Probably the most ill-fitting soundtrack of any film I've ever seen... no, take that back, I have heard worse, though I can't remember the films' names. It was fun to put... er, 'faces'... to some of the names though.
It's been bread'n'butter business all day today. [grits teeth] And not enough accomplished. And since they've changed their minds and the weather looks to be reasonable tomorrow I'm taking the sprogs to Severn Beach. No, I don't want to ask Ken to go in my place. I need that sea-shore walk. I'll be able to get more done afterwards.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
... rain... And tomorrow is forecast to be grey and drizzly, and I was planning to take Kai and N sprog out for the day (Severn Beach or Weston)...
So, Quyn. The lump in his neck (er, not sure I've mentioned that. He's had it for about a year: it's not malignant, and given where it is it would require major surgery to remove, and given his age the op would be particularly dangerous, so we haven't done anything about it) is a little bigger, and she thinks it might be contributing to his noisy breathing and snoring. He has sleep apnoea now - only started recently - which is a little alarming. His hearing is worse, and I think his eyesight is beginning to go too - he couldn't see Chester (Dave next door's big silver tabby, the one who tries to bully my wee beasts) sitting on the garden wall. His arthritis seemed to have stabilised though. We think the hip massages he gets nearly every day may be helping there!
But the vet says he's amazing for his age, certainly doesn't look it (I finally looked it up: bought him on the 28th June 1993, so he's a little over 14, ancient in dog years). She suggested I trim him again, even more severely than before so he doesn't heat up too much in the warmer weather, keep to the feeding regime we've established and carry on with the Metacam every day, and she'll see him again in a couple of months.
Looks like we may have another couple of (non-grub-like) cucumbers coming on the plants that aren't in the GH - though if it keeps raining they'll probably not come to anything. Can I have a little sunshine please?
The publisher has sent through the proofs of the Celtic Symbols book for me to read - need to make a start on that today. I'm also falling behind with the Crowsnest reviews: need to get going with those too...
Well that was very successful. Kai had a good fun day, and I managed to find the secondhand but in perfect nick DVDs of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which Kai has been angling to watch again for a while now) for £4, eps 1-11 of Jupiter Moon (for nostalgia's sake: it was probably the first sci-fi series we saw on cable when we first got cable. Not to mention it's not at all a bad series, with a lot of faces who went on to become well-known, if not all famous. I don't think we'll be in any hurry to buy the other 104 episodes though) for £1.99, and A Matter of Life and Death (a beautiful, surreal and wonderfully British classic I saw a long, long time ago and absolutely fell in love with) for 99p. Bargains all - I'm dead chuffed.
Vet's appointment for Quyn at 9.30 tomorrow morning. Better get at an early night!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
The 80s Transformers phenomenon completely passed me by. I was never particularly fond of robots: unlike Lutra I never found them alarming - I just couldn't be arsed with them. (That's possibly part of the reason I dislike anime mecha so much.) Kai tells me he's caught a few episodes of the animated series on TV (obviously when I've been asleep, as I've never seen any of them!) and is lukewarm about the whole thing. So I went into the film with no preconceptions, not a great deal of enthusiasm and only knowing the names Optimus Prime and Megatron, while Kai, while keen to see it, didn't have much more of a clue than me - unlike the N sprog, who is quite a fan, it seems!
It didn't start well. American military in the Middle-East? Guaranteed to make me snarl. But then they started (to use a colloquialism) getting creamed by one of their own helicopters transformed into a large and vicious 'autonomous robotic life form', and things started looking up...
... and sank again when we met the 'hero' Sam Witwicky (gods he's obnoxious!). Then picked up again when Bumblebee (Bumblebee!? What sort of name is that for a self-respecting robotic life form?) appeared on the scene. (I like Bumblebee - he's cute.) After that the film was somewhat hit and miss, see-sawing from complex (and far too fast) fight scenes between what all-too-often looked like piles of scrap metal to awkward and un-funny supposed comedic moments. The acting varied between frenetic and laboured (with the odd decent scene) and some of the Transformer dialogue was just ridiculously ponderous, heavy-handed and about as subtle as being hit in the face with a brick. And as for the plot holes... [shakes head in despair]
And yet... The Transformers themselves were great - especially when not being forced into pontifical or supposedly 'funny' roles. It was good to see strong and heroic females, and for me Australian Rachael Taylor was the most appealing (human) character in the whole film. The overall action was exciting and fun (although, the N sprog advised us, it bore sod all - my words not his - resemblance to the original series), and even the humans came out looking half-way decent at the end. Let's put it this way - it's on the list to buy (though not at the top), and if, as we assume from Starscream's (now there's a great name!) abrupt departure from earth at the end of the film, there's a sequel being planned, we'd definitely go to see it.
It's another 'leave your brain at the door and just enjoy the fantasy' film. We quite like those.
Tomorrow Kai's been invited to the N sprog's for the afternoon. He lives on the other side of the river: I'll bus Kai there then come back via the Gloucester Road charity shops, it's been quite a while since I've investigated them...