Monday, 31 December 2007

Books I read in December

I've made almost no attempt to keep track of what I've read this month as a result of deadlines and the like. As a result, this list mostly covers the Christmas period rather than the entirety of December. I did read some other books and I might add them if I ever find out what they were.

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Total: 7 books.

Daniel Isn't Talking (Marti Leimbach)
The Edible Woman (Margaret Atwood)
The Memory Keepers Daughter (Kim Edwards)
My Best Friend's Girl (Dorothy Koomson)
The Principessa (Christie Dickason)
The Promise of Happiness (Justin Cartwright)
Missing Kissinger (Etgar Keret)

Daniel Isn't Talking was lent to me by Julie with the recommendation that it was far better than Born on a Blue Day. I read it in the evening on 28th to save me taking it too far away and forgetting I'd got it. The book certainly provokes empathy in a very different way to Born on a Blue Day but I'm not entirely sure I'd otherwise compare the books at all. It was an easy read, well-written and generally pretty good but I think I'd be unlikely to read it again.

I started the The Edible Woman just before Christmas and finished it on Boxing Day. The book had been sat on my shelves for a fair while having been mooched from clastica (UK) in November. Margaret Atwood is a funny author and her books seem to vary somewhat. I wasn't really sure about this one. I quite liked the subject of the book and the characters were both real and amusing but it felt a little bit like it wasn't going anywhere (the point I'm sure). I'll put this book back up on the swap sites as I'm not going to want to reread it in a hurry.

I borrowed The Memory Keepers Daughter from Lizi and read it in a day on the 23rd. She'd bought it with me on a Tesco trip in the summer and I've avoided buying it since then knowing that I could read her copy. Having read it I'm quite glad I did, the book is a good read but it's not one of those books I'd have been likely to keep. The book feels a little like some Jodi Picoult in places but doesn't quite have the same continuous smooth style. The story is good but I enjoyed reading the back and anticipating the story more than I did some of the actual reading.

My Best Friend's Girl was my light chick-lit read for traveling to Derbyshire. I started it on the train up and finished it the day after on the 22nd. The book embellishes the standard girl-meets-boy... girl-loses-boy... girl-loves-boy plot with some deeper, more complex elements which was quite nice. It's still easy to read and predictable but makes quite a nice change from other books in this genre. The book was the result of a read-it-swap-it exchange (swapped for Why Men Don't Have A Clue And Women Always Need More Shoes with lindam (UK)) and I've put it back online now I'm done. Since I mostly enjoyed this book I've now mooched Marshmallows For Breakfast by the same author from Suze S (UK) on BookMooch.

The Principessa was a library discovery. Unlike most of my library books, I read this one fairly soon after I borrowed it (the others mount up on my bookshelf) and I'm very glad I did. Christie Dickason finally gives me some historical fiction to enjoy outside of those written by Philippa Gregory. I really liked this book and am on the lookout for others by the same author.

The Promise of Happiness is one of those books that I've seen everywhere but never read. Having missed it when it was in Waterstone's best-sellers, I finally borrowed this from the library in Lancaster. This book was nicely different from things I've been reading recently. The characters are nice and the story is both real and original (to me at least). I might not read it again, but I'm glad to have read it this once at least.

I started Missing Kissinger back in October but as a book of short stories it's been very easy to put down and come back to months later. Some of the stories in this book were great (I really liked the first one), but I didn't quite understand them all. I think the author might be slightly odd and probably won't seek out anything else he's written but it was an OK library read.

Project Firefly!

It sounds good before I even know what it is :)

I saw the Project Firefly display in town tonight and thought they were rather pretty. I was a bit suprised I hadn't spotted them before as they fit in nicely with the blue Christmas tree lights which I've noticed many times since they were put up. As it turns out, the pretty falling lights are part of the Firefly project and are something I've seen before (I saw the Firefly Christmas tree during the demos in the AISD module). Mmm, pretty lights!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Friday, 21 December 2007

Cinnamon, raisin & apple muffins (revisited)

This recipe doesn't really seem to work too well. I tried to make six of the muffins yesterday and they were a bit of a failure. The quantities given in the recipe produce a very liquidy not-really-a-dough mixture. I thickened it a bit but then they didn't rise, weren't cooked after the appropriate amount of time and when finally cooked didn't really have the right consistency (stodgy muffins anyone?). All-in-all, probably not one of the best recipes I've tried.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

It's here!

At the last possible moment before I head home for Christmas, my Sweeney Todd soundtrack has arrived. Hurrah for Play.com. I shall take it to Hobnob's with me when I leave in a moment.

Yay!

Thai green chicken curry

One 400ml can coconut milk
225g diced chicken breast
Grated zest of 1/3 lime
1-2 peppers, sliced
1tbsp Thai green curry paste
1.5 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1tbsp brown sugar
1-2 green chillies, crushed
0.5 red chillies, shredded
0.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
1 shredded kaffir lime leaf (opt)
75g/2.75oz mangetout
5-6 Thai sweet basil leaves, torn

Spoon off cream from canned coconut milk. Cook chicken with zest and coconut cream until cooked through (~10min). Remove chicken from pan and boil remaining ingredients until the cream separated out.

In a separate pan, fry the peppers ~3 minutes before removing from pan. Fry the curry paste in 0.5 tbsp coconut milk (not cream) for 1-2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, remaining coconut milk (not cream), green chillies, ginger and magetout. Stir and cook on medium heat for ~5 minutes. Add the peppers, chicken and coconut cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Scatter the remaining ingredients over the curry immediately before stirring.

Things you didn't know but really should have worked out...

Tortilla chips are made by frying stale tortillas...

Cut the tortilla into appropriate shaped wedges (about 6 per tortilla) and fry 1-2 min in about 5mm of oil until crisp.

Now there is something I shall have to try one day.

Cinnamon, raisin & apple muffins

Makes 6, ~30 minutes.

115g/4oz plain flour
20g/0.75oz brown sugar
20g/0.75oz butter/marg
1 apple (grated but not peeled)
30g/2oz raisins/sultanas/other dried fruit
90ml/3fl oz milk
Half tsp baking powder
Half tsp ground cinnamon/mixed spice
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Melt the butter/marg over a low heat. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon/mixed spice before adding remaining ingredients. Mix well to produce a thick, wet dough. Fill 6 prepared muffin cases and bake in the oven for ~20 minutes until risen. The muffins should be lightly golden and firm to the touch.

New Jeans!

Having torn yet another pair of jeans up the legs last night I have been to town to replace them. I didn't get the ones I saw on Monday but instead resolved to try on anything and everything and find something that almost fits :)

Unsuprisingly I ended up at Internationale, their size 8s are pretty varied but I managed to find something that was not too huge. Described on the label as "bling" jeans I think I may remove the belt before wearing. Interestingly I found a really close fit at New Look today in the 915 stuff which hasn't happened for a while, I almost bought them but then found the bling pair.

In other news.... I have finally written some Christmas cards. I figured that if the last post is tomorrow I should probably do any of those that require posting. I received lots of cards today too, I now have a grand total of 6 cards (of which 50% have come from Hobnob's family, hehe). I've almost wrapped all my presents and I have basically bought them all so that's it all sorted. I bought another roll of wrapping paper to finish things off today. It's not real paper though, sort of foily stuff which is interesting.

I've almost finished my first book in ages, The Principessa by Chrisie Dickason which I've really enjoyed. Might see if I can mooch this book and her (at least one) other. I spotted that Oliver Sacks seems to have a new book out so I shall add that to my list of eagerly awaited paperbacks. Hopefully once Christmas is out of the way they'll start releasing some :)

Tonight at Guides we made gingerbread men so now I am plotting my cooking for tomorrow. I've got a couple of recipe books out of the library to inspire me.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

You learn something new...

Today I have discovered that Royal Mail actually do something similar to the General Delivery stuff that I'd read about in some US news articles: post restante (mobile letterbox).

So there you go. A free way to collect your mail when you've not got a permenant address.

Golden Compass

Went to see Golden Compass tonight at the Vue in Lancaster. Not much to say about it really, it's not a bad film and sticks suprisingly close to the book. I'm not really convinced that it's the next Lord of the Rings though.

Pink leaves (revisited)

I think my plant is dying. Maybe I should water it.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Slacking and beer and a nice new warm scarf!

Slacking!!!!

I have handed in my CORBA report, all three sections of it :)

Got the second section done last night before bed and then finished off this morning before heading to campus to print and submit. (Remembered to submit an electronic copy too). Had a slight stress when I realised I had to hand in code, but I did it and stapled it to the back of the report I'd handed in only a short time before.

Went shopping straight from campus and finished of Christmas gifts. Treated myself to a new scarf after my present one suffered some shrinkage in the wash. Dad came round almost immediately after I got in from town so we went back out again and had lunch and the newish chinese place in town (not that great but ok) and grabbed a pint from the Penny Bank (the beer was very nice and the pub friendly).

Tonight I'm headed round to Hobnob's for tea and then I shall plan to do nothing at all.

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

Hopefully, this is as yummy as the Blue Dragon stuff I buy - makes really nice prawn sandwiches.

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Makes about 200ml

250g red chillies, trimmed
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
100g light brown sugar
1 dsp white wine vinegar
100ml water
Salt to season

Bring all ingredients to boil together in small pan. Simmer over medium heat for ~5 minutes (until soft). Blend and season before returning to pan to simmer for ~10 minutes. Refridgerate once cool.
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Sadly I have next-to-none of these ingredients (though I do have water and sugar) at the moment so I shan't be trying this any time soon. One day...

Monday, 17 December 2007

An egg and milk free glaze!

I've wondered what to use as a pie/bread/scone glaze for Hobnob before (not that I recall ever having cooked such items for him to eat) and always struggled. Where I don't normally use egg then I use milk and vice-versa. Anyway, the Allergy-free cookbook, Alice Sherwood suggests a gelatine glaze - 2tbsp with 1tbsp gelatine left to soften for ~5 minutes before heating in a bowl over boiling water.

Miso marinated salmon

Serves 2, ~10 minutes plus cooling and marinading

1.5 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
1.5 tbsp sake
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
65g/2.25oz sweet rice miso paste
2 salmon fillets (~170g/6oz each)

Stir mirin and sake with sugar over low heat until dissolved. Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Stir miso into mixture until completely blended and allow to cool.

Once marinade completely cooled, place salmon in non-metalic dish and spoon marinade over fish. Turn fish to ensure complete coverage and leave to marinate for at least four hours.

Before serving, preheat the grill and lay fish skin side up on grill rack. Grill for about 6 minutes, turning halfway through.

This time tomorrow... mmmmm

I have completed all of one section of the three to be handed in tomorrow :S

Still, I'll hand something in regardless and I shan't be able to do any more after noon tomorrow no matter how hard I work in the meantime. It's worth it, I can catch the sleep up later in the week.

Tomorrow I will have handed in my final report of the term.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

CORBA excitement

Today has been a day of exciting coding. I haven't written much really but I do seem to have improved my coursework somewhat. It now does just slightly more than the basic requirments which I think is about all I have time for.

Time to start crafting a report...

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Two down...

Two reports in, one more to go :) Deadline's Monday lunchtime so I've just got a bit of time. No weekend for me :(

But then it is a work-free Christmas! Hurrah!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Virtualchaos, Tallis and that bloke from the lecture

Revisiting this post briefly (and I so rarely do come back to these things), "the bloke from the lecture" has posted his own blog entry about that Monday lecture here. Besides a very artistic looking photo of Alan Dix, the post includes links for the slides used in the lecture and the Tallis website.

I'm not going to post any more comment on the lecture, but I shall include a list of the books mentioned (or at least those mentioned in the part I managed to attend). I've added them to my BookMooch wishlist so maybe I'll acquire some of them one day.

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The Cult of the Amateur (Andrew Keen)
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Steve Krug)
Digital Ground: Architecture, Pervasive Computing, and Environmental Knowing (Malcolm McCullough)
Designing Interactions (Bill Moggridge)
Ambient Findability (Peter Morville)
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites (Peter Morville)
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine (Donald A. Norman)
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (David Weinberger)

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Moonshot - Video Killed The Radio Star

Moonshot - Video Killed The Radio Star is playing on Bailrigg FM right now. I can just about bring myself to admit that I quite like The Buggles version of this song but the Moonshot recording is quite nicely different.

Tim Burton to direct Alice in Wonderland

More Tim Burton...

According to this article on BoingBoing.Net, Tim Burton will start work on a film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland early next year. I can't really think what that might look like but I'm sure I'll end up seeing it anyway.

PS -I'm working really hard, honest!

Another day of no work :(

My days keep running away without me and then I get to the end and I have had no day and so I have done no work. It's all very confusing and a bit irritating. Today I was supposed to do lots of Systems Engineering coursework but I haven't really done any at all. Instead I have slept, got up, checked my mail, discovered I was late for a lecture, rushed to campus, sat in a lecture, met with Alan and the bloke from the lecture (more another time perhaps), went to the students' union building to find out about new officers training, went back to computing for a meeting with the bloke from the Knowledge Business Centre about some possibilities for employment, got the bus to my house to do useful things and gone to Hobnob's for tea. Now tea is over and it is late and I have done nothing coursework related.

Time to start an introduction I think...

Monday, 10 December 2007

Signing Excitement

Today I have learnt some strange and wonderful signs...
  • Manger
  • Advent
  • Gift
  • Comfort
Maybe there are some more, I can't quite remember.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

No work!

How have I done no work today? Lazy students.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Binary marble adding machine

I don't usually have the patience to watch you-tube style net videos, but this gadget was interesting enough to make me watch it all the way through. Marbles are great.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Sweeney Todd!!!!!!!!

Sondeim + Tim Burton + Johnny Depp = Even more excitement than libraries!

I just remembered the Sweeney Todd movie and found the site complete with trailer and music. Johnny Depp sounds so much better than I could have expected and the music is really quite gorgeous. I've pre-ordered the CD in my excitement (released on the 17th) and now have the site open in a tab so I can listen excitedly.


25th January...!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Exciting libraries!

No, really.

You can tell I'm not really into my new piece of work yet, here's my second Stumble of the day... "Can you spot the library?". I think the pictures are really cool, I really like the idea but I do wonder how it really works. Does it look as good as it should or is it just odd? Also, would you have to change (update) the books now and again? It'd make it more interesting but also more costly. I guess it'd depend on your choice of books in the first place - ensuring they're suitably timeless. I'm not sure about some of the Cardiff choices on that count.

Hmmmm.....

Oooh, you could play the read all the books on the library game too, a whole new list of things to not get round to finishing!

Also, I'm listening to 'Christmas' tagged music on Last.fm but it's a bit varied. It was Ding Dong Merrily on High which is great, but I'm now being played L'Âme Immortelle - Life Will Never Be The Same Again and I'm not quite sure how Christmassy that really feels.

More cute animal pictures

But perhaps less common than foxes, nice kittens and fluffy bunnies...

A Winter Ptargmigan - nice, white snowy grouse thing.

Saffy has submitted a report!

Yay, handed in yesterday's report after some minor tweaking. Hobnob fed me pie last night after Guides and pointed out the bits that didn't make any sense so I fixed them and have now submitted my paper copy. I can't submit it electronically because the folders don't seem to exist on the coursework submission system :(

Ah well, one down...

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Saffy has finished a report!

Report 1/3 is all written. Gonna go to campus now and print it off to check it over before handing it in tomorrow (over a week early). Hopefully I can get it all in and start the next report tomorrow!

Union Council Elections

Apparently I have been elected to Union Council as a post-graduate representative - hurrah! Now that it's not electronic campaigning I can tell you I stood and I can put posters up to convince you I'm amazing. I'm not sure I'll bother, but I did make some cool images when playing to find stuff to put on posters.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

New technology causes great excitement!

My Dad seems to have started sending on a number of forwards recently. Most of them are actually pretty amusing so I shan't complain too much. He sent me this one just now, I'm pretty sure I've seen it before, but I'd mostly forgotten...

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BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by the fire-yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works: BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it. BOOK never crashes or requires re booting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if exposed to high ambient temperatures. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

BOOK can be stored for an almost unlimited amount of time without connecting any outside power source. Many BOOK units may be stored together, as they cause no interference with one another, even when placed in close proximity.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session-even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, various manufacturers can use a single BOOKmark in BOOKs. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. Only the number of pages in the BOOK limits the number.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS). Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

BookMooch & Other Related Links

Having received a BookMooch newsletter today I thought I'd post a general plug in my blog.

BookMooch is an excellent international book swapping site. It works on a points system rather than a direct swap which makes it easier to get the book you want. The site's got a pretty large user base so whilst I haven't found everything I want it does pretty well for your average paperback. Register at BookMooch.com.

In today's newsletter the BookMooch founder also recommends:

- Xenagia: a book fan site for people who like to read science fiction, fantasy
and horror. It currently rates Dune at number one, maybe I'll read my copy soon.

- Magnatune: an online music site that lets you listen to whole albums online before you buy them at the price you want to pay. Sound sort of curious, maybe I'll check it out.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Mmmm.... fox

I wish I took nice pictures like this. Foxes are so pretty.

(The colours in that picture look even more amazing on a dark background, I first spotted the picture here).

Threading in Java

Today I wrote what is probably my first real threaded Java (where by real I mean not just a simple "look I can do it" coursework tasks). It's not very exciting but I am sort of pleased with it because it's new and because what it fits into is actually sort of pretty.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Lancashire Peelers

Why is a Lancashire peeler so named? What about the peelers that aren't Lancashire peelers, what are they?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Image Manipulation in Java

I've been writing some quick tests for image manipulation in Java. I found this page very useful with some nice and clear simple examples.

I'll put my code on here if I don't use it in my coursework but I've basically got a test application that either pulls an image from file using ImageIO.read or grabs a screenshot (based on this example). I've then got functions that allow me to alter the colour of the image, to flip the image or to graffiti it with a selection of coloured shapes. Once the image has been manipulated, it's written to a new file.

I'm quite pleased with my test app (the graffiti is pretty) so here's hoping I can work out how to use it in the courswork.

Friday, 9 November 2007

"Every BODY Is Beautiful" - Pretty Spoons!

I thought I'd read a couple of the blogger featured blogs today (since my coursework's roughly done). This mostly involved scrolling down the page and taking a quick look at the pictures whilst maybe reading five of the words. I'm not really a girly fashiony kind of girl, but I quite liked The Glam Guide (it does have lots of picutres after all). For an especially pretty picture look at the entry '"Every BODY Is Beautiful" Charity Auction for NEDA' (Nov 7th 2007), or just look here:

(Image taken from the original Glam Guide blog entry, here)

Pretty spoon necklaces! They're apparently made by jewelry designer Karin Collins and these three have been specially (uniquely) crafted for the National Eating Disorders Association (that's US national).

Helicopter

I finished my coursework stuff about twenty minutes ago and have been lying in bed since with my mind going and going like an enusiastic 'I think I can'. Sleeping after late night work is always close to impossible.

Anyway... there's a helicopter outside my window somewhere. I don't think it's heading to the hospital because it seems to have been flying about for ages!

There, wasn't that exciting?

Monday, 5 November 2007

The Trials Associated With Submitting a Piece of Coursework

Today I almost failed to submit a piece of work I have already handed in.

Courswork for the MSc. is due on a Friday at 3pm with a grace period that extends to midday the following Monday with no penalty. I didn't want to have to panic over the weekend if I could avoid it, so worked hard on Thursday night to ensure it was fit to hand in on Friday. Friday morning I got up, went to campus, printed the essay (and a cover sheet) and handed it all in before doing anything else. All done!

Only it wasn't :)

Today at my group meeting for the AISD coursework I was chatting to Bernie. He'd finished his last night and electronically submitted a copy before printing it off and handing it in this morning. With that rather timely reminder, I nipped down to the labs to submit the work electronically at 11:15am - rather closer to the deadline than I intended!

Still, at least I did get it in before twelve. A mark of zero is awarded for any work submitted without a cover sheet or submitted without an electronic copy!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Books I read in October

Total: 11 books.

Dead Sexy (Kathy Lette)
Snoopy's Little Book of Style (Schulz)
Dinner For Two (Mike Gayle)
The School For Husbands (Wendy Holden)
Life on the Refrigerator Door (Alice Kuipers)
Behind With The Laundry and Living Off Chocolate (Lynette Allen)
The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy (Polly Williams)
The Perfect Thing (Stephen Levy)
The Apologist (Jay Rayner)
Atonement (Ian McEwan)
When God Winks (Squaire Rushnell)

One of the many trashy library books, Dead Sexy really is rubbish. I sort of like reading trashy chick-lit books as long as they're well written and have some sort of plot because they are nice and easy to read, but this book was just pretty tedious. I read it in a couple of days, finishing on the 31st October, but only because I desperately wanted to finish it and move onto something better.

I'm not sure Snoopy's Little Book of Style really counts as a book (having less than 100 comic book pages) but I did read it front to back so it's going in the list anyway. Snoopy rocks. I read this just before bed after working hard on the 30th October. I'd picked up the book only a little while before in a birthday package from the lovely Lizi.

Dinner For Two is a male-written girly book which means it's bound to be pretty good. Some how men seem (largely) to do chick-lit well. I liked this book and it had a happy ending - hurrah!

The School For Husbands is yet another chick-lit library book. It was OK, a nice slightly-different idea, better than many.

Letters on the Refridgerator Door is a fantastic book: a really clever idea, beautiful, real and a bit sad. I borrowed this from the library and read it wandering around town before returning it. If you see this somewhere, read it.

Behind With The Laundry and Living Off Chocolate is probably the first self-help book I've ever read (it's a library book and it's good to try everything once?). It's roughly everything I expected - lots of semi-meaningless stuff telling me to 'have confidence' and 'take control of your life' that mostly don't say very much at all. On the plus side, this book is full of lots of nice happy look-what-someone-else-in-this-situation-did which might be sort of encouraging, maybe.

The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy was a perfect easy library read. It's not anything clever but it's well-written and nice and light.

Another library book, I read The Perfect Thing in lots of little bits finishing on the 16th October. I found the book whilst scouting the computing section for books on an earlier trip when I'd forgotten my card and so didn't actually borrow anything. The book follows the impact of the iPod on "commerce, culture and coolness". I really liked this book - it's easy to read and I found it very interesting. I don't have an iPod :(

The Apologist was a book I actually borrowed from the library on the day I read When God Winks. I'd actually first come across the book in the same library a couple of years before on a day when I had dropped by just to escape the world for a bit. I read the first chapter or so then and thought that on this visit I'd see if it was still there and if I still wanted to read the rest. I started re-reading the book on my way home from the library and spent a week or so enjoying the odd chapter here and there.I enjoyed reading this book; a light read without having to resort to the realm of chick-lit.

Prompted by the release of the film, I picked up a half-price copy Atonement from Waterstones, Lancaster. It took me ages to read in lots of short sessions (I don't seem to have big long book moments at the moment) but it was well worth it. I really liked this book and will now have to find a way to see the film before it disappears. I'll keep onto this one for a reread another time (perhaps after watching the film) and will look out for some others by the same author as I'd not read any of his stuff before.

When God Winks is a nice short book I pulled off the shelf in the library. It's easy to read especially with all the nice short story illustrations (I read it on the floor immediately after pulling if off the shelf and probably didn't take much over half an hour). It's sort of nice to have a read through books like this now and again and be reminded that people do have those moments they can attribute only to God.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Natural Architecture

("clemson clay nest" image from Natural Architecture on DesignBoom)

I'm sure this isn't anything like the cleverest of these, but the whole circleyness caught my eye. I like Weidendom and Toad Hall too.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Puzzles of Joy!

We were given a question in a lecture today. It wasn't actually the focus of the lecture (it was being used to demonstrate a theory of problem-solving) but I solved it! This is very exciting because I am most commonly rubbish at this kind of puzzle...

There are 3 containers. Container A has a capacity of 8 litres, B has a capacity of 5 litres and C a capacity of 4 litres. Container A is filled with water. How do you pour the water to finish with 4 litres in A and 4 litres in B?











ABC

8L0L0L
1) Pour 5L from A->B4L5L0L
2) Pour 3L from B->C3L2L3L
3) Pour 3L from C->A6L2L0L
4) Pour 2L from B->C6L0L2L
4) Pour 5L from A->B1L5L2L
4) Pour 1L from B->C1L4L3L
4) Pour 3L from C->A4L4L2L


Apparently Alan did in 6 steps but perhaps that's a puzzle for another day.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Mind-wandering-ness

Pizza for tea tonight?

Bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun!

I like being awake!

Today is a happy awake day. I'm happily dosed up with hot chocolate and breakfast and listening to a nice AISD lecture on formalisation. The week is progressing increasingly quickly (seemingly) and I seem to be all planned up now until the weekend so I'm sure today and friday will disappear before I've really noticed.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

People who know too much

(or like to think they do)

This morning's lectures have been going so incredibly slowly. It's not that the material is dull (though I have seen an awful lot of it before) but that we're moving through the material like some insect in treacle. The material is actually carried over from yesterday's lectures which had the same problem - other people. Not not-understanding people, I can cope with that happily enough, but instead people who want to show off their knowledge of life, the universe and everything by constantly interrupting the lecture and holding little arguments among themselves. Arrgggh!

No Tea

I don't really understand how my brain decides that fruit teas (as in the kind that are just fruit and spices - no tea - in a tea bag) taste like tea. This evening I tried an ASDA Blackcurrant Infusion which was less tea-like than the lemon one but I still think that it has that distinct tea taste. It warmed me up nicely and the "taste" was sufficently masked by the blackcurranty flavours that I will most likely have another but... why can't they just taste of no tea?

An evening of doing things!

That well-known prompt of study deadlines being just far enough away and just close enough has meant that I've made some move to getting lots of the things on my to-do list done. The last week has generally been pretty good for doing jobs (I've even applied for my provisional driving license), but my achievements are mostly grouped and tonight has been a guidingy group.

It's not entirely been a night of procrastination though; I did go to the university library on my way home to get some sources for my essay and have spend a chunk of time trawling the net/books making some notes.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

CHI & AISD

... and other acronyms.

Today was the first day of the taught week of the Advanced Interactive Systems Design (AISD) module of my course. Unlike the last course, we have at least been given some of the coursework from the start. We've been split into groups to work on something based on this year's CHI student design competition:

Design an object, interface, system, or service intended to support the state of living without a house.
(Full details of the competition brief can be found here)

We have our first mini-presentation tomorrow to present our 'idea' - fun, fun, fun!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Bikes on Trains!

Wheels on wheels... do trains have wheels? I suppose they do?

Anyway... my bike has made it up to Lancaster. All that remains is to go and buy a new cycle helmet before I can start being healthy and stuff. Eek!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Play on Words

I saw Play on Words tonight at the Etcetera Theatre (Camden, London). I've missed Three's Company everywhere else they were this year so it seemed like a good excuse for my first trip down to London since my move.

The theatre is like the others I've seen Three's Company perform in; "the capital's smallest theatre" is a very intimate little venue (it's also rather hard to find even when you're stood outside it). The show also followed in the tradition of other Three's Company productions - it's a well-performed production of a witty, emotive script. I wish I kept up with these guys more but I'm slack and I'm sure I shall continue to fail to do so.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Last Day Off

Today was my last day of my week off from lectures. Next week I start again with a new block week on Advanced Interactive System Design. Hopefully I'll still get some work done in the evenings somehow.

The World's Longest Make-up

Where by make-up I refer to the assembly of a number of reels of cinematic film (that sounds almost clever) not mascara, lipstick etc., and not the kind of making up you do after an arguement with some other person.

With that out of the way... Today I finished what may well have been the longest make-up in the history of everything ever. I started the make-up of Magicians yesterday at around 1pm and as a result of a number of delays had only finished the first reel by the time I needed to leave just before 6pm. Having become ever-so-slightly frustrated with the whole thing, I prepared the second reel and left.

I turned up today with plenty of time before the showing and was pleased that the four reels that remained went on swiftly and without issue. Plenty of time was left for sitting and thinking about coursework over a nice drink - hurrah!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Cool Inventions

I stumbled across this just now - some of them aren't all that great, but there are others I really liked enough to want to share. I can see the stair drawer being a very nice way to hide your storage and the belt is neat (though I'm not sure people would want everyone to be able to comment on their waist size so easily). I don't understand the gloves though - anyone care to explain?

Party-bag excitement (revisited)

Boxes of Smarties do still exists - we had some as a prize for giving away at Rainbows tonight. I guess they're restricted to the world of little kids so I hadn't come across them again before now.

(Lots of revisiting happening this week!)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Pink-leaves (revisited)

Apparently my plant is a Guzmania (probably a Guzmania lingulata - also known as a scarlet/orange star) ; the pink leaves are in fact its one and only flower which lasts 30-90 days before the plant dies.

(as discovered by the lovely Hobnob)

There's a picture that looks like mine here. But cooler still is this one of a Guzmania hybrid:


Friday, 12 October 2007

Pink-leaves

I have a plant with some pink leaves - I bought it from the house-plant sale today but I'm not sure what it is. I shall post a picture and see if someone can suggest what it is and how it might want to be looked after.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Party-bag excitement

I've just unfolded a raisin box to get the net and then reassembled it inside-out. Having doodled a few circles onto the outside I remember...

Does anyone remember the little boxes of Smarties - the ones you used to get in party bags when you were younger (or when I was younger anyway)? Do they still make them? Are they still in party bags with funny plastic toys and slices of cake wrapped in a napkin?

A quick google gives me a page of designs from 1994 and 1995 for anyone who really hasn't a clue what I'm on about; I'd have been 10/11 years old.



(From here)

Woo, birthday post!

I got my birthday post today! The lovely post people delivered me some socks, a notebook and letter paper made from elephant dung :)

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

1st Day of Lectures!

Yep, I'm one-fifth of the way through the taught part of this module.

Conclusions...
  • I write too much
  • My hand hurts

Monday, 8 October 2007

Angry snowman rips out snowman's heart

By far my best Stumble of the day:


(From here)

Apparently I'm cruel for liking this, but it's just so good.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Birthday boredom.

It's my birthday and I'm bored.

Whilst I'm sure trawling the internet won't really help, this guy has cool drains.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Top Tip #4 - How to put a hole in your arm:

Feel no pain!
German researchers have discovered that coughing during an injection can lessen the pain of the needle stick. According to Taras Usichenko, author of a study on the phenomenon, the trick causes a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.
(interesting trick of the body #4 from this article on Impact Lab)

Is it just me, or does sudden movement whilst someone sticks a shap pointy thing into your flesh seem like a not entirely great idea?

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers are awesome. Happy happy music of bouncing and excitment. Also, even their sadder stuff is happy (or makes me happy).

Hurray for Proclaimers joy!

Friday, 5 October 2007

All Induced!

Well OK so maybe induced isn't really the word I'm looking for but it sounds less clumsy than inducted. :)

Today was the MSc. welcome/induction day. The induction talk bit was fine, just went through roughly how the course works and such. After the talky bit though was lunch where I had some good conversations with people from the department and a guy on the networks course. Finally we had a quick tour of the labs, got chatting with Matt (PhD bloke from the department) and went for a hot drink for a bit more chat.

I also dropped by Freshers Fair again this afternoon. Joined CU and bumped into a bloke from my course who is apparently also a LuBBer (SamBC).

I like days with stuff in them.

:(

There are too many days of misery at the moment. I know it's because I have too much time on my hands - I like having days where I know what I'm doing - but it feels quite a lot like being permanently hormonal.

This morning wasn't too bad, I got up at 8 because I was all awake. We'd organised to meet as a kitchen at 9:30 and drink hot beverages so I had a shower and then did that for an hour before heading onto campus. Got to campus and nosed around Freshers' Fair. Once I'd been round Freshers' Fair I hung around for a bit with Bailrigg and the cinema . Got the bus back into town and ran an errand for Hobnob. Went from bank-errand-running to the library where I sat on the floor and read a book before choosing some others to borrow. Took my books back to my room and sorted out the vast array of junk I'd acquired at Freshers' Fair. I then made and ate lunch and then my day mostly seemed to waste away. I don't even seem to be able to code any more.

Grrr. :(

Thursday, 4 October 2007

An interesting interaction-design article

Putting the answer to a typical user's main question in big red type at the top of your homepage would guarantee high usability, right? Wrong — at least for the U.S. Census Bureau's homepage, where 86% of users failed to find the country's current population when it was presented in large red numbers.
(read the rest of the article here)

I've been Stumbling since I got back from Guides tonight (the internet can help a person waste far too much time). This article's kinda interesting - I found the statistic on the page straight away but only because I knew I was looking for something that looked like an ad.

Magic!

/^1?$|^(11+?)\1+$/

Thursday Wednesday

Today is Wednesday but it feels like Thursday.

Officially a student again!

Student
A person engaged in study; one who is devoted to learning; a learner; a pupil; a scholar; especially, one who attends a school, or who seeks knowledge from professional teachers or from books; as, the students of an academy, a college, or a university; a medical student; a hard student.
One who studies or examines in any manner; an attentive and systematic observer; as, a student of human nature, or of physical nature.

(according to this definition on BrainyQuote)

I officially registered as a student again this afternoon - I have a library card and everything!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Blue skies and a slight chill

The weather's been all pretty the last couple of days. It's got that nice autumny day feel to it, blue skies, white clouds and bits of sunshine but slightly cold. It's not windy so the cold doesn't feel mean but just fresh. Given all that, I guess I should have walked to campus today instead of getting the bus.

A day of doing things?

Today I have apparently been productive. If I sit down and make a list it certainly seems that way:

- did a food shop
- did tutoringness
- met Hobnob for lunch
- joined medical centre
- joined sports centre
- got passport photos
- submitted bank details form to department
- sent an email with my new address to people who asked (and some who didn't)

I'm not sure it feels that productive though, weird.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Tired!

I'm not sure how I'm this tired but I am. We could have stayed on campus to watch some film excitement this evening but I think I might have fallen asleep - I've not even done anything today!

LuBBering Saffy

LuBBering Saffy exists again!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

No longer vagrant Saffy!

I have a place to reside - hurrah! Moved into Chancellors Wharf today with the help of Hobnob and Clare. Have mostly been trying to decide where things should live in my new room.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

I'm not just here to use up air!

Went to a Duggie praise party in Halewood (Liverpool) on my way to Dad's before I go to Liverpool tomorrow. Saw Pete (Mr.) and Doug which was kinda nice. We (Thom & I) went with some of the kids from what was Friday Club. He did a trick I've not seen before - the vanishing yellow ban(d)ana - which was cool.

Got the train afterwards with Thom who was on his way to Formby to see Lianna. Met the scary lodgers - Pete & Michael. Michael seems very young! They disappeared to wash-up as soon as I came in so I pottered for a bit and am going to bed with my newly arrived book swaps.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

My brain needs an off switch!

I don't like those nights where you go to bed wanting to go to sleep (because it's already later than it should be) but somehow you can't stop thinking. I read a book until half-twelve and then forced myself to stop so I could sleep. I close the book and turn the light out and then my head starts going...

Should have kept reading the book :)

Monday, 24 September 2007

Some Tasty CSS

Testing HTML/CSS things and want to see the border? How about:
border: medium double rgb(250,0,255)
(borrowed from this example)

Lovely! (And I still haven't found my CSS issue.)

Woo!

My code works. I have solved a great puzzle of confusingness with all the foreaches in the world (or nearly all). Time to go to bed!

Random Misery

Why do people have moments of just :( with no reason at all?

Completely unrelated:
$this->{get_parent_class(__CLASS__)}();

How was that ever a sensible way to call a parent class's constructor? PHP4 is so odd.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Coding Hard

Well, maybe. I haven't actually written any code yet today, but I've been importing some data instead. All news posts are now in the new database as well as the old one so I guess I need to write some stuff to go find them.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Talk Like A Pirate Day knickers!

Went to Buxton today and bought some knitting needles and wool. I haven't tried to knit in years but remember being quite useless - seemed like a fun thing to try again (and might save me ploughing through so many books, maybe). I sat down when I got back and attempted to understand some instructions that supposedly told me how to cast on - I got as far as tying a slip knot.

Am going out with Dave tonight to see a film, we haven't decided what (it was my job and I haevn't done it), should be good.

In other excitement... I'm wearing my Talk Like A Pirate Day knickers!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Dog walking

Today I walked Teddy to the Post Office and then Tesco and then Whaley and then my Mum's house, I think he was pretty tired. Picked up my post though which was kinda useful. I didn't hang around for the children to appear home from school, not quite that brave yet!

(The walk was rather pretty; I like the weather at the moment - cold and sunny without gales or rain.)

Friday, 14 September 2007

Woo, all packed!

Finally got everything where it belongs. I've still got to shower, vacuum and make beds before it's
time to go a-journeying!

Packing at Midnight...

... and later. I went to bed earlier but then I woke up and went downstairs. Coming upstairs I noticed that some boxes could be tidied away. One less job to do tomorrow. It's horribly tempting to just carry on organising myself and not go to sleep at all.

Packing and Chaos

I'm so very nearly packed now which is good but still not quite. Rather pleasingly, I have managed to restrain myself on clothes packing for uni. - yay! (I was going to list what I've packed but I figured that may actually be even duller than my usual witter). I still seem to have a few things that feel like they may never get packed; it's good to know I'll be journeying to Lancaster tomorrow so it will all have to have been done.

Other things done today... I bought birthday cards for Harry and Emily (who next have birthdays in 2008) - they were pretty!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Coding or Packing...?

I'm sure I'm supposed to be packing today. Mostly I seem to be looking around at my chaos. When I'm not looking around in confusion I am... coding. I said I wasn't going to code today, not until I've packed lots anyway. I'm sure I could easily get all my packing done today but I know it just won't happen.

(And when I'm neither packing nor coding, I'm sorting out the new PC, hurrah!)

iTunes fun resolved!

I found my problem in the end. I downloaded and installed 1.4.1 and nothing changed. Then I noticed I'd got a version of iTunes in 'Applications' as well as one I knew to be in a 'Media' folder in 'Applications'. Turned out that I had installed a new version (presumably when I had the software agreement pop up at me) but it had gone into the default location of 'Applications' rather than replacing the existing item. After that first time I guess it always opened the old version which didn't like the new library. Some shuffling things round fixed my problem.

I'm slightly confused as to how I opened the new version at all. It's fairly likely I successfully installed iTunes 1.4.1 ages ago but have always run the older version. The older version would have detected the need for an update but once downloaded, Software Update would have found 1.4.1 installed already and so not bothered with it. The 1.3 version was the one in the dock so I guess I must have looked for it in Spotlight sometime this (yesterday) afternoon and so opened 1.4.1 instead.

Hmmm... confusion and unconfusion.

---

I'm about to save this but I'm stopped by the sudden appearance of exciting rain! If it weren't 3am I'd think about going to run around outside.

iTunes

iTunes has got itself into a terrible muddle. It's been trying to update to a newer version (7.4.1 I assume) for ages now. Software update would pop up and say it had an update, would go away and download it and would then, once the download was completed, seemed to take another look and say that it didn't want to install anything after all. This has been occurring for over a month now I think.

This afternoon, when I opened iTunes it seemed to think it was running a new version and showed me the software agreement. I assumed that it had caught up with itself and didn't bother to think any more about it.

Now, when I open iTunes (I know I said I was going to bed, but I remembered a quick piece of code I could write) it says:

The file "iTunes Library" cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes.

So it seems that whatever it installed has gone away again. I had a look at version.plist and that says it's currently version 1.3.1 that's installed. As I now can't use iTunes at all I've decided to download a copy of 7.4.1 from the Apple site and hope it'll be all happy again...

On the plus side, my code change was a five minute job so I have achieved something by delaying my sleep some more.

Sleepy Tired

Playing Scrabble for two hours after you've decided you were going to bed is bad. I've only stopped now because the applet won't work for me any more. I suspect this is for the greater good.

I should really go to sleep, I've been all over-tired emotional the last couple of days and still I never seem to go to bed on time. Fool.

Goodnight exciting world of internet!

(Tonight's entertainment was brought to you by... Scrabulous and a collection of people across the world who've invested far too much time in getting to be really rather good at the game (and the letter Q)).

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Weather

Why do weather people apologise? What makes the cloud pesky? Clouds are clouds, weather is weather. The weather woman saying she's hopeful that the clouds will break isn't going to make me feel better about the chances of more sunshine in the afternoon. Rain doesn't try to move in, it just happens where it happens.

Today is a day of sunny blue-skies and fluffy white clouds. It's probably warm outside but I'm inside coding :)

New PC

Woo! My new PC has turned up! :)

I shall be a good geek and carry on coding until I reach a sensible place to stop.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Trash TV

My coding isn't working. Slightly frustrating, it seems to be creating four slots when I'm expecting it to create the one. Hmmm....

I've given up for a moment and seem to be watching Neighbours. I have no idea who anyone is but whoever he is he has a dead twin brother he didn't know about. Somehow I suspect he'll now work everything out (after an interesting conversation with his parents) and will magically walk again. Aw, how lovely .

Oooh. My code works. I'd got a for loop counting things a few too many times. Hurrah. (I also should have been expecting it to create three slots, so four wasn't as far wrong as I thought it was). Hurrah.

Sand in my ears

I have sand in my ears, hair and pockets!

Romantic walks on the beach are good.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Double-sided Scrabble Tiles

Chocolate Scrabble has double-sided Scrabble tiles.

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Little People Blog

So I haven't gone to sleep yet... :)

But, the Little People street art blog is awesome. I read about it in the Metro ages ago and have looked at it a couple of times since then, but now I have just remembered it exists again.

See the Little People enjoy commuting.

And now I really do bed. Thank you Lovely Dave.

Can't sleep

And I don't really have anything to write - I guess that means I should be not writing and maybe trying to sleep.

Today (yesterday) has been a bit of a rubbish day. I haven't left the house which is a mistake because days always seem more pointless when you don't go and do something somewhere. I packed all my clothes up (again) this morning so they all have homes now. I still need to decide which ones to take with me to uni. This afternoon I mostly sifted through things, moving them from pile to pile and generally achieving nothing at all. I did some forum setup but that was all wasted when I discovered you could convert the phpBB2 data to phpBB3 anyway. I did the conversion this evening but it needs some work to get it sorted out.

I need to do some more useful organisation tomorrow I think otherwise nothing will ever move from the bedroom floor. I also need to decide what to do with all the books, lots and lots of books! I'm also going out tomorrow so there should be less feeling useless. I have three BookMooch parcels to post and then a trip into town to meet work people for evening entertainments.

My eyes are tired. Maybe I should try sleep again.

Rubbish me

I hate crying when people are mad at me.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

All the people in the world

(Or at least all my friends in the world) ... should live in the same place.

It seems a bit rubbish that wherever I am there are people to be missed. I like knowing all the people I know and I'm glad they're my friends but I don't like not being able to live near all of them at the same time.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

I don't understand

What makes someone wait at a pedestrian crossing for a gap in the traffic before pushing their (empty) pushchair into the road and then pressing the button?

People are weird.

Beware Saffy's that shop too much!

I am all broken from shopping. On the plus side, I went out with a list and bought things on it. On the not quite so plus side, I can't carry as much as I think I can.

But....! (And I know you shouldn't start sentences with "But".) Nice ladies that help you carry bags are good. Two separate ladies insisted they helped carry my bags from the station to home (one to my road and then another from the end of the road to my house). It was greatly appreciated, I hope someone does the same for them another day.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Zealous

A good Scrabble word if ever there were one. I played against myself today (awww...) but I got to put down Zealous and Pious and some other good words I have already forgotten.

Also, we discovered my computer doesn't work. Tomorrow I shall order a new one.

Oooh, and we made iChat work!

That's it.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Sulking

I am cross with some machine in the world somewhere. I have finally reached a point on my e-signup code where it's worth putting the data into the database so I can test things and... phpMyAdmin doesn't work. It's not that our sites don't work, because I've tried viewing different bits of them and everything seems fine. I can see how much (too much) mail everyone is hording but I can't query the databases. Gah. I assume that they version of the database I could play with is on another box somewhere hidden away...

So now I am plotting queries. It's all exciting.

Oh, and I made a pretty database diagram in OmniGraffle because I lost the paper one.

It seems to have been a sort-of productive day though, stuff has reached a point where it might work soon maybe (or at least some testing might work).

In unrelated news, I am not especially hungry but crave some form of biscuity/sugar goodness.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Ginger Nuts

Ginger Nuts are my thought for the moment. I like various kinds of biscuits but each one has moments where they suit and moments when they don't. Ginger Nuts are different. I can't really think of a biscuit eating time when Ginger Nuts don't work.

Hurrah for ginger biscuity goodness!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Adding an object to a linked list

What do you do when you add an element to a linked list, but that element itself links to other elements?

Before now, I've always ignored the extra links so they get lost but it seemed sort of incomplete. Today I kept them and inserted them into the list at the appropriate point but I'm not entirely sure that's what someone might expect.

Hmmmm.....

Also, php is weird. Why compare two objects based on the values of their attributes rather than whether they are references to the same objects or not?

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Books I Read in August

Total: 6 books.

Voice of the Gods (Trudi Canavan)
Digging To America (Anne Tyler)
PostSecret (Frank Warren)
Dear Nobody (Berlie Doherty)
Persuading Annie (Melissa Nathan)
The C Words (Mark Mason)

I borrowed Voice of the Gods from Kimball as it's only just been released in hardback and I own the other two in paperback. The nice thing about Trudi Canavan's books is that you don't wait for the next one only to discover it's half as good as the last. I read this in bits over a couple of days finishing on the 14th. A fairly easy fantasy read which I shall acquire in paperback at some point.

Digging To America was a Borders Oxford Street buy (they'll be getting scarcer now). I think it was an Orange Shortlist book. I've been quite a while reading it, lots of little bits with long breaks. It follows two families after they each adopt a child from abroad.

Not really a book of much reading, PostSecret is one of Lizi's arty books. I'm pretty sure I'd read about this before I read it. The book is a collection of postcards from a group art project in which people were invited to anonymously contribute their secrets in a creative manner on one or more postcards. This book is the kind of thing I really like to look at but would never have myself so it was really good to have a look at. I sat down and read through these on the sunny afternoon of the 5th.

Another book from Lizi's shelves, Dear Nobody is/was a GCSE(?) text so I've read it many times before. It was kinda nice to read it again having mostly forgotten the details. It's pretty short but enjoyable. This was possibly the first time in a while I've finished two books in one day (05/08), but I had started it the day before.

Persuading Annie (05/08) was the other half of a buy-one-get-one-half-price
at Borders Stockport (the other book being England England). Another chick-lit, but one by an author I know to be ok. It was a little predictable but a not-too-boring easy read. Lizi wants to read it and then it's going to Kathryn (UK) via BookMooch.

I don't think I've ever read a man-authored chick-lit that hasn't been brilliant, until now. The C Words (commitment, coupledom, children) is like the many decidedly average girly novels of the world. (I'm not entirely sure why so many of them continue to be published, it's not like the ideas are new and unique). I picked this one off the many on Lizi's bookshelf and read it in the morning on 4th August after a rather nice after-camp shower. Mmmm, hot shower...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

I would fall for the geek and the gentleman

You would fall part for the geek.
If you're looking for love, consider spending a little more time studying up in the library... (image)

You would fall part for the gentleman
...you'll end up with the guy who's suave, sophisticated, and classy through-and-through. (image)

Is there such a thing as a sophisticated, classy geek?

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Yawn

It's far too easy to be tired. I've done some good being tired today. It gets too hot to do proper sleeping at night but then all the little bits of sleep don't join up to make you awake.

More napping!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

That alt key

There seems to be an alt key in my way when I steal other people's computers. Where's that one that does stuff - where's my Apple key?

Gr.

Somehow my hands have taught themselves that the button of usefulness is just that bit further over than the control key. Ah well.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

If at first you don't succeed

...use maths.

I have finally conquered the puzzle. The solution looks something like

5
876
42391


Every piece now has an A point, a B point and a C point. I was just about to rule out 5 as a point when the last possible combination of pieces just worked!

Assuming I've already ruled out the two other points of 5 as being the top, then:

  1. 5 forces 7 at its bottom.
  2. On the LHS of 7 I must place either 8 or 9.
  3. On the bottom of 9 I must put either 2 or 6.
  4. 2 forces 3 on its LHS.
  5. 7 forces 6.
  6. 6 forces 4 and then this solution doesn't work.
  7. Going back to follow on from step 2, on the RHS of 7 I must put either 2 or 6.
  8. If I have a 2 I can place pieces below the 2 and the 8 but then can't place a piece between these.
  9. Going back to follow on from step 7, 6 forces 1.
  10. 9 forces 3.
  11. This solution works!

When even Google won't solve your problem

Keep looking :)

In the meantime, I have actually found the puzzle online (with the reminder that there are two solutions). The puzzle is the "Dizzy Dolphins Tricky Triangles at the bottom of this page. The solution pictured is the one I've always been able to find and is numerically (my numbers) presented as:

4
753
82916

The 2nd Solution

"Dizzy Dolphins" - A triangular jigsaw puzzle thing with hundreds of possibilities but only two correct solutions. It's been under my bed for many years now. Every time I see it, I pull it out and have a go. I've numbered the backs of the pieces and when I first found a solution I wrote it down. Whenever I've solved it since, I've checked my solution against the paper to see if my solution is the same one and it always has been. So today I did the puzzle, checked the paper and got excited. I wrote down my new solution which had a different top piece and decided that I can finally get rid of the puzzle. I came downstairs to record this momentous occasion in my blog and then remembered... a triangle has three sides. This triangle is an equilateral which means its sides are the same length and it looks the same any way up. My solution is a rotation of my other solution. Muppet.

Beer, Organisation, Chocolate

I'm not entirely sure about this beer lark. I don't drink much of it, and I don't drink anything else (alcoholic) but I'm not entirely sure it agrees with me. I have drunk beer twice that I can recently remember (and no, I haven't been drunk enough to not remember). Both times I have been squiggly-tummied in the morning. Will I learn? Not likely.

In unrelated things, I am organising. I have been upstairs and looked at my box of kitchen-ness for uni. I have 2 plates, 2 bowls, 3 mugs... 1 knife, 1 fork. Cutlery is one of those magical mysteries of every university kitchen. You start the year with some, you buy some more, you buy yet more and still there is none. Amazing.

In still more unrelated things, does chocolate go stale? I got lots of chocolate for Christmas. I don't eat lots of chocolate at once so I nibbled some of a box and left the rest behind. Having discovered some yesterday I ate another handful. The chocolates are individually wrapped and I assume since they were from this Christmas that the dates on them can't have been too awful but they didn't quite taste as I thought they should. Clearly, next time, I shall have to take them with me for more immediate nibbling.

Bag-lady

This morning I got up and packed whilst Lizi and Joss were still in bed. I seem to do a lot of packing at the moment. I spent all morning making lists and packing and organising until I remembered to look at my watch and noticed that I needed to leave the house ten minutes later!

Still, my travelling went well and now I am somewhere else. I shall organise myself some more and then relocate myself back to where I have come from in order to move myself to somewhere else else on my way to another somewhere else. It's an exciting life! :)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

I am Superwoman (girl)

I have just lugged far too many of my belongings over the hill. It's competely my own fault, I over-estimated what could be achieved and repeatedly answered "yes" to questions akin to "are you sure you'll be alright" but I wasn't helped by the bag breaking almost immediately after leaving the house.

Supergirl sounds a bit not as Super as Superwoman but I don't want to be a woman - I shall forever be a girl.

Children

Please please please make mine lovely.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Doing Nothing

... is a fantastic way to depress yourself.

Today I have mostly done nothing and now I am miserable. Gr.

Tomorrow I shall go out and then the world will be right again. Hurrah!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Fat Legs

Today was a day of much shopping. Having wrecked a pair of trousers at camp last week, I then split the pair I was wearing unloading the luggage yesterday. With no sensible trousers to speak of available to me I thought perhaps buying myself a nice pair of jeans might be a good thing.

To make life a bit more merry, visit their toilet and to use up a £2 voucher I paid a visit to Borders first (I was going to say quick visit, but that would be a fib). I like books so this was a very good start to the afternoon. Having got that out of the way, I then went to Next to start on the buying-a-pair-of-jeans excersise.

I don't think I understand clothes shops. There must be many people in the world that are roughly the same size and shape as me - so where do they all buy their trousers? It seems that short skinny people that buy jeans all have no shape. It's impossible to buy a pair of jeans that fit over my legs and hips and don't have at least 4 inches of unwanted waist. What kind of women have waists that are the same size as their hips anyway?

I did eventually find a pair in MK1 that aren't too obviously huge round the waist (you can't see my knees by looking down my trousers) so have bought them. They're far too long, but this is much easier to fix.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Books I read in July

Total: 10 books

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
Anna and the Black Knight (Fynn)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
Travels With My Aunt (Graham Greene)
The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris)
The Last Testament (Sam Bourne)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (30/07). It's all over! No more Harry Potter! I managed to read this all before someone revealed the plot which I was rather pleased about. It's good, much like all the others. I shall probably pass on my hardback copy but look to pick it up again in paperback.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (22/07), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (23/07), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (24/07) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (25/07) were all rereads following the release of the final book. Much like the first two, I really enjoyed reading these again and was surprised how much of the more recent book plots I had actually forgotten. Now I finally own them all I shan't be getting rid of these.

Anna and the Black Knight (19/07) was something I got so desperate to read I ordered it from Borders Oxford Street especially. It's a follow-on (not really a sequel) from Mister God, This is Anna. I think I preferred Mister God, This is Anna but this was a good little book and it shall join the other one on my many bookshelves of keeping.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (17/07) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (16/06) were both rereads and read in a day. I read these on my way home from work in preparation for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the 21st. I was surprised at how good these were; in all the crazy mania that surrounds the series I had forgotten.

I read Travels With My Aunt on the 13th during the same trip as The Naked Ape. This was the result of a swap with rachelsparks (UK) for the rather awful Conversations With God (Book Two). I wasn't that interested in acquiring this book but it turned out to be a really good chance decision. I enjoyed reading this a lot. It'll be back on the swapping sites when I have finished moving myself across the country.

My first real holiday in ages came in July (Llangollen Canal with Graham and his parents) but I did a surprisingly small amount of reading. The first of the two books I finished, The Naked Ape (11/07) was bought from Borders Oxford Street after reading The Naked Woman also by Desmond Morris. It's very similar to the other - showing man from a zoologists perspective. I enjoyed this just as much as The Naked Woman and will be hanging on to it.

My first book finished in July, I reached the end of The Last Testament on 04/07 after reading the last few chapters lounging around in the evening after work. The book is another The Da Vinici Code lookalike. It's by the same author as The Righteous Men (another similar book) which I quite enjoyed. I bought this from Tesco, Whaley Bridge during my weekend in Derbyshire with Graham. As I said in June, there are a lot of books in this style which are all pretty good and that's true of this book. I didn't find the story as original as that of The Righteous Men but it's a good read. To save my shelves filling up with a mass of similar books I won't be hanging onto this.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Heroics

Today I have fished a collection of girls out of some "mud" (cow dung). That's my heroics for the day.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Dear Mr. Council

Dear Mr. Council,

If you have to dig up the road - the same bits, every other month - do it in the daytime!

(And if you have to do it at night, with the road closed, do the lorries really need to beep and tell me they're reversing?)

Love from Me

(Enjoying another night of digging and yelling and lorries)

Friday, 27 July 2007

And Finally

I've just reach the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which means that tomorrow (later today) I shall start the beginning of the end!

(And they've conveniently stopped doing the road outside, so now is a good time to sleep)

G'night world.

The Cute Guy With The Umbrella

This wasn't actually what I was going to call this post, but it's as good as anything else I can think of.

It rained today! Very very heavily just as I left work. I left my jumper off as it was still warm and enjoyed getting soaked. But a very nice bloke shuffled close to me at the crossing so I could stand under his umbrella. He then walked with me to the tube which I thought was very sweet :) Thank you nice person with the umbrella from the meeting, I hope someone does something nice for you too!


Today's other bits of excitement... (I'm sure there were lots of them when I got in)

- Oooh! Owing to being soaking wet and shivering I had a very good hot shower just after I got home. I don't get to enjoy my showers so much at the moment because they generally occur too early in the morning. Very nice.

- My book from the late bookmooching man hasn't arrived yet. I suspect it will be "lost".

- Simon offered to have Mark's children at work today.

- I have forgotten what I was going to write and I know I had stuff.


Anyway... We went to Fran's tonight for a farewell meal which was really nice. There seemed to be an awful lot of people there for one reason or another (though there often is at Fran's). It's kinda odd not to be seeing them all around again lots though :( Had a very nice meal with Haze, Chris, Fran, Beth, Corrinne and Peter. Geoff and Warren were around for a bit before going for a curry and then Dave Bignall dropped round and Shannon came with Jo. A few other members of the church were also about (doing something spiritual I assume). It was good to see so many people before I go.


It's now rather on the late side for going to bed and there's another 150 pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to read before sleep.


Oh, and they're laying tarmac on the road outside my window - at 11pm! It's just a bit noisy but smells lovely.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

How you know you experienced the 90's?

How you know you experienced the 90's:


1) 10p Mr. Frosty Ice Pops on long summer days!
2) Gordon the Gopher!
3) You could do or tried to do the Prodigy step: You're no good for me.....
4) You owned or longed for an Adidas three stripe tracksuit
5) You owned a compilation tape with TOP TUNES such as Mr Vain, What is love, Rhythm is a dancer and How Bizarre, How Bizarre.
6) Girls thought Blue Mascara was cool!
7) Girls actually fancied Gary Barlow more than Robbie Williams
8) The Raccoons! (nuff said)
9) You owned a pair of Nike Air Max, and wore them to death
10) Mr. Motivator (What ever happened to him?)
11) Running on the spot dancing! (WAYHEY THE RUNNING MAN... )
12) You wore leggings/cycling shorts with long t-shirts
13) You owned a Benetton, NafNaf, sweater shop jumper or waistcoat or bag
14) Girls owned scrunchies in an array of colours and tacky headbands with their names written on in thick glitter
16) You bought Smash Hits for the song lyrics and the immense amount of stickers that you would stick everywhere!
17) You had a pen pal
18) You could only watch the Simpson's on sky
19) On a Saturday evening you watched Catchphrase, Gladiators, Generation Game, Noels House Party and then Casualty
20) You taped the Pepsi Chartshow on radio one and tried in vain to pause the tape before the annoying guy talked and ruined the whole thing.
21) Cans of Coke were 25p
22) 10p Space Raiders Crisps
23) A grey Fruit of the Loom jumper was a must have
24) Sharkie & George were the crimebusters of the sea
25) Puffa jackets
26) You used the line " it's a free country " every day
27) The Sky Sports Blimp!
28) Impulse body spray for girls
29) Hooch Alcoholic Lemonade (where's it gone?!)
30) 'Don't forget your toothbrush', 'TFI' and Big Breakfast with Chris Evans
31) You had at least one troll
32) You know the dance to Macarena and Saturday Night. You also tried to scat like Scatman John! Bi bat ba ba da bo...
33) You watched Baywatch and longed for the day that Eddie & Sharni got together!
34) You watched Byker Grove 'ha ha ha whatcha laughin at!' (the theme song ending), and saw PJ get shot in the eye with a paintball!
35) PJ and Duncan not Ant and Dec! Dodgy Pop Not Dodgy Presenting!
36) Shellsuits & bumbags!
37) You longed to live in Beverley Hills 90210
38) Home and Away was a prime time ITV programme watched by millions
39) You owned a Spice Girls album
40) Fruit salads and black jacks!
41) Strike it lucky on a sunday night with Michael Barrymore when he was straight & married
42) Chain letters
43) You had fake ID
44) You remember Todd Landers in Neighbours
45) You religiously watched Saved by the Bell on a Saturday morning!
46) You more than likely lost/nearly lost a wobbly tooth on a wham bar!!
47) CK one (probably the fake one from the market)
48) Going Live, then Live and Kicking was the place to be on a Saturday Morning - you know you remember the number 0181 811 8181
49) You knew every word to the theme tune from Fresh Prince of Bel Air
50) You collected Premier League Stickers and did swoops at playtime
51) Girls wore crappy lipstick such as - coffee shimmer, heather shimmer and birthday suit!
52) You wore kickers and wallaby's with the tags hanging from them
53) You thought saying - "I know you are, but what am I" to every insult that that came your way!
54) Love got the world in motion with the John Barnes Rap
55) when you used to run away from some thing and shout "leg iiiiiitt!!!"
56) Pods & Kickers were the thing.


How many of these would I rather not admit to?

That said, I'm pretty sure you can still get 10p Space Raiders - you could last year!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Over-Indulgence

Why do we never learn? Too much of a good thing is still too much.

I've finally finished the last packet of Garibaldi biscuits from my desk drawer. Right at this moment I really hope I never have to see one ever again. I did like them, and I had completely forgotten they existed, but not anymore.

4/7 Down...

Yep, I finished the last few pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire earlier this evening. I was rather sad at the end. The first really Harry Potter death comes as a bit of a shock really (and yes I did know it happens - these are all rereads).

I am also sad generally for reasons unknown - I think I might be a girl!

Also happening in my world today...

* It's raining and we still can't drink the mains water.
* Work is sometimes hard.
* People are almost always hard.

But that all sounds rather miserable, I think I'd better think of some happy things to write...

* I am mostly packed up now and was very please that so much of it fitted into the car - I really didn't expect it to.
* I've just found the perfect CD to listen to.
* I bought a very lovely summer dress today (though I really didn't need to).

Monday, 23 July 2007

A Relaxing Weekend

My weekends at home have been few and far between for a long time. Whilst being away from home usually means a weekend of seeing people and doing fun things, it's good to have a weekend of just being, being quietly and being quiet.

I've spent today out in the sun (something I've not seen for a while), sat reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Aside from discovering what I think was a red ants nest, it has been a very nice day indeed.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Clean Sheets

Smoothly shaved legs in a freshly made bed feel so good.

Bruises

Will somebody please tell me exactly how one acquires a seemingly endless supply of bruises (of varying sizes and in various locations) without ever remembering how they came across even a single one? Before anyone comes to the perhaps obvious conclusion, the answer to this question is not alcohol. So what is it...?

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Almost all packed up!

Yep, it's starting to look like I might actually reach the end! It does now look like my room is getting nearer to empty. It's never all going to fit in the car! Another time perhaps.

In other news...

* I'm thirsty
* I need a shower
* I really like this Godfrey Birtill song

Or indeed, there is no news!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Thank You Mr. Postman

A very quick arrival indeed - my watch is here!

I like it when the postman delivers things. I'm not entirely sure what they're all striking over at the moment (which is a bit slack really) but I like my post so I think they should make it all better soon please.

I haven't written any letters to the postman recently. Maybe I should.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Facebook Phenomenon

I've just got a friend request and private message on Facebook from a girl I knew in High School. It's funny this Facebook lark - you get friend requests from people you'd completely forgotten existed but as soon as you do you remember them all over again!

I have rather more than the ideal number friends on Facebook which makes it pretty hard to actually follow what people are up to, but it it is nice when you suddenly find someone you'd completely lost touch with. All of a sudden, all those people trapped in school uniform in your memories are real people with degrees and jobs and lives. Very odd!

The Chaos That Is...

Packing.

I'm surrounded by chaos.

It's a very curious thing is packing. I sort of feel I'm doing a good job because I have packed a big pile of boxes and it's not midnight the night before someone comes to collect my things. On the other hand, I feel like I've really done nothing. I look around my room and it's still full of stuff - the only difference now being that the stuff is all over the floor. It's very satisfying when you're done but until the last thing is hidden in a box I suspect I shall continue to feel I have achieved nothing.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Harry Potter Week

Only five more days until the new (and final) Harry Potter book is released. I won't be queueing up to buy it at Midnight but I did pre-order my copy today so I can read it before someone reveals the plot. It's a slight frustration because I don't really want a hardback copy but I also don't want to find out the ending before being able to read it.

In the meantime, this week's little project is to reread all the previous Harry Potter books so I'm ready for the new one. I picked up the 4 books I was missing today at lunch and started the first on the way home. I'd forgotten quite how good they are. Perhaps they got less good later on, but I really don't remember the first book being quite as good as this. (It's also a bit more of a kids' book than I remembered.)

I've just finished the first one so will pick up the second one from my desk at work tomorrow to read on the way home from work. After that I'm stuck because my copies of the third and fifth books are currently in Liverpool. I shall ask my Dad to bring them down with him at the weekend.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Saffy is going to see Wicked! (again)

I've just booked tickets for my Dad and I to see Wicked (the musical) at the weekend which is very nice and shiny. Just a small gripe about TicketMaster's checkout though - it doesn't tell you that it's going to send the tickets to your billing address until after you've bought the tickets which is most inconvenient. Still, much show excitement to be had!

Love is...

... hard to explain.

Except, when you try to explain what love isn't. Today at the chuch day we sang the Godfrey Birtill song "When I Look at the Blood". Now, whilst this is a Christian song, there's still a chunk of it that stands more than well enough without any sort of faith at all (or at least I think it should).

So what can't be seen in an example of Love?
I can't see competition
I can't see hierachy
I can't see pride or prejudice or the abuse of authority
I can't see lust for power
I can't see manipulation
I can't see rage or anger or selfish ambition...
I can't see unforgiveness
I can't see hate or envy
I can't see stupid fighting or bitterness,or jealousy.
I can't see empire building
I can't see self importance
I can't see back stabbing or vanity or arrogance.
(Godfrey Birtill 2004 © Whitefield Music UK Admin Copycare)

Maybe it's just me, but this seems to be a very beautiful idea and one I wish I thought I was vaguely close to. Something to aim for I guess.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Saffy is the winning bidder on a Snoopy watch!

It's ebay time again. I keep intending to get on and sell those Rocket Dog shoes, but instead I have been a-buying things. At least this time I was actually looking for the things I bought:

Saff's New Snoopy Watch2 Snoopy Handkerchiefs
1 Snoopy watch

Oh my, that Snoopy watch is pretty. Why is Japan so far away and why doesn't the postman deliver to me on a Sunday evening? Patience...

Saffy is Snoopy-obsessed! Yay!

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Books I read in June

I've now read 43/100 books! Yay for Perfume.

Total: 16 books

Perfume (Patrick Süskind)
Conversations With God (Book Two) (Neale Donald Walsch)
The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
Why Men Don't Have a Clue & Women Always Need More Shoes (Allan & Barbara Pease)
Brethren (Robyn Young)
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Alexander McCall Smith)
The five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
The Stolen Child (Keith Donohue)
Shanghai Baby (Wei Hui)
A Spot of Bother (Mark Haddon)
Little Lady, Big Apple (Hester Browne)
Chart Throb (Ben Elton)
A Place Called Here (Cecelia Ahern)
Cage of Stars (Jacquelyn Mitchard)
How Slow Can You Waterski? (Guardian Books)
The End of Alice (A. M. Homes)

I bought Perfume from Borders Oxford Street after seeing a trailer for the film. The film looked somewhat scary but tempted me to look at the book. I'm sort of curious now I've read it to see how they've turned a book that is all about scent into a film... I finished this book on Friday 29/06 on my way up to Derbyshire for a weekend of seeing folk (the lovely Dave and Lizi) and the Kinder BOH concert. A nice original idea - Grenouille murders to capture the scent of innocence - and easy-to-read; I liked this book. I think I shall keep this one.

Conversations With God (Book Two) was the result of a swap with bexster (UK) for my copy of Successful Interviews Every Time. I read this in one day (26/06) but... don't bother! Without wanting to quote a book completely without context, let me supply you with a little gem: "When you have been a man long enough - when you have suffered enough through your own foolishness; when you inflicted enough pain through the calamities of your own creation; when you have hurt others enough to stop your own behaviors - to replace aggression with reason, contempt with compassion, always-winning-with-no-one
-losing - then you may become a woman". Apparently the words of God. I'm sure fans of this book would say I'm not ready to accept the "life-changing" spiritual truths in this book but I mostly thought that it felt like some bloke's opinions written under a more authoritative banner. There are so many spiritual books I'd recommend before this one. It went straight back onto ReadItSwapIt and it went to rachelsparks (UK) in a swap for Travels With My Aunt.

Yay, another fantasy book! The Book of Lost Things is a very pretty fairy-tale story in a very pretty cover. Lots of Brothers Grimm - Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel. I bought this on that Easter Borders (Oxford Street) trip with Dad and I think this is probably the last of them all. I finished this on 22/06 on the way up to Lancaster for Sinki's leaving weekend (a crazy-long journey due to flooding). A popularly wishlisted book but I shan't be giving it away.

Why Men Don't Have a Clue & Women Always Need More Shoes was a bit too self-helpy for my liking, much more so than Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps. I have started reading this book before (it's been on my shelf for ages), and it didn't take me long to remember this time why I gave up - this book feels very patronising. This book is full of top tips for 'training' the men in your life to respond without nagging, to shop, to obey 'fart-free' zones and it all feels a little bit painful. The later chapters skim over what makes us attractive over the opposite sex but was so condensed it wasn't really worth anything at all (and if I wanted to fill in a quiz to work out how men saw me I'd buy a copy of J-17 or the like). I'm not hanging onto this and I doubt very much I'll bother reading anything else they might write. I read this book in two chunks, finishing after Brethren on 20/06.

Brethren is yet another of those books in the style of The Da Vinci Code. I've read a few of these now and surprisingly they've all been pretty reasonable, this one is no exception. I struggled a little to get started with this (but only briefly) and it's perhaps a little long but this was generally an enjoyable read. I've had this sat on my shelf for long enough that I can't remember where exactly it came from so it's nice to finally be able to cross it off the TBR list. I started this on Monday because I didn't have enough of the other books I'm reading for them to travel with me. Possibly my longest (time and pages) read so far this month, I finished it on Wednesday 20th. It was a good book but there are so many very similar good books that I won't be hanging on to it - I have rehoused it with tracyjane41 (UK) in a swap for Empress Orchid.

Having sat on my shelf pretty much since it was released in paperback (2006 sometime), I suspect that Friends, Lovers, Chocolate did not really get the attention it deserved. I read this on a Sunday afternoon (17/06) whilst in one of those strange moods where I wanted to do everything and nothing all at the same time. It wasn't quite as meaningless as a book for such a mood should be. This is the second in a series of books about Isabel Dalhousie, editor of a philosophy journal. I don't think this being second in a series made any real difference to how the book as enjoyed as it stands well enough on its own. I didn't like this as much as other books by this author and I probably won't bother with any of the other Sunday Philosophy Club books. I made this book available on Bookmooch and it went to anne (Japan).

Another 'I read this in a day', The five People You Meet in Heaven was my on-my-way-home-on-Friday (15/06) book (and I rarely go home on Fridays so that's something of a novelty). It arrived in the post from maire (UK) via BookMooch on the Thursday evening. Eddie arrives in heaven and is greeted by five people whose lives he changes and they explain his earthly life to him. It's an easy read and very enjoyable. I'm hanging onto it for now I think.

The Stolen Child was bought in the Easter Border's (Oxford Street) trip with Dad that has provided many of the books read over the previous two months - it's the first of these for June. A slightly-dark story of changelings which I really liked. It's an easy enough read but with plenty of depth. I read this over three days and enjoyed taking some time over it (I finished it on Friday 15th on my way to work). One to keep for a while I think.

Shanghai Baby came following a suggestion on the BookMooch forum to check out Kalle Makinen's (Finland) inventory. I didn't mooch this book from him (though I did mooch i, Lucifer from him instead), but spotted it in his inventory and mooched it from Gavin (UK) instead. I was hoping for something a bit like The Girl Who Played Go or Memoirs of a Geisha but this is a pretty western novel in style. I read this in one day on 12/06 but was really quite bored with a lot of this book. It was back on Book Mooch before I'd reached the end as I was pretty sure I'd be parting with it. I swapped this on ReadItSwapIt with romyashley (UK) for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

A Spot of Bother - I didn't like this as much as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime but it was a rather tough act to follow. The Curious Incident... was hugely popular and really very good. I think also that I may have identified slightly more with boys that numbered pages using primes than a fifty-seven year old retired gentleman suffering with depression and anxiety. Still, this book is a very pleasant read and something I'd wishlisted (if only out of curiosity) since it came out in Hardback before Christmas last year. I picked this up as a Borders (Oxford Street) offer of the week on 07/06 and having started it on Sunday afternoon, relaxing in the sun, finished it on Monday 11/06 on my commute home. I made this book available on BookMooch and it was snapped up within minutes, hopefully I've made marilyn wikinson (UK) a very happy bunny.

Little Lady, Big Apple arrived on my doormat as the result of a Read It Swap It exchange with debbie66551 (UK) for Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, a book I have struggled to get rid of on swap sites. I'd read the first one (The Little Lady Agency) and not hated it, so I figured it was worth a go. I read this one over the weekend in sunny Lancaster (and it was very sunny), sat in Graham's garden, finishing on Sunday afternoon. I don't think this is nearly as good as I remember the first one being. Chick lit isn't my thing, so I was always going to struggle with this and I did get bored. It's an easy, not unpleasant, read but just didn't hold my attention. Read it if you liked the first one and you can be bothered reading another one. I won't be reading it again and it's waiting for someone to mooch it from me.

Having spotted Jude reading this in the office when it was out in hardback and have him sort of recommend it, I bought a copy of Chart Throb when I spotted it as a Borders (Oxford Street) half price offer of the week. It's Ben Elton's latest offering and it has a similar feel to both High Society and Dead Famous (I've not read either Past Mortem or The First Casualty). I started this on Thursday 7th (the first day of that week I didn't finish a book ) and finished it off on the train up to Lancaster on Friday. I'm beginning to think I'm really not that keen on some of his more recent stuff (and indeed some of his older stuff). I liked the concept but really didn't find most of this book all that funny. It's ok and not a book you slog through but I would be very unlikely to read it again. That said, if you do come across this book, read the telephone sex scene (it was the only point at which I laughed aloud). I put this onto BookMooch once I'd finished with it and it's been claimed by Claire (UK).

A Borders (Oxford Street) half-price offer of the week, A Place Called Here is another of those books I read in a day (06/06) but don't be misled into thinking that means it's any good. It's a very, very naff book with all the cheese you can stuff into 484 pages. The book follows Sandy Shortt, a woman who hunts missing things until she finds herself "missing". It's not a romantic novel and it is easy to read but that's about all it really has in its favour. It's not badly written but it really isn't worth wasting your time over. I gave it away quickly to Alex McG (UK) through BookMooch - I hope she thinks more of it than I did. (I have read another of her books which was a romantic novel and was actually better - PS, I Love You . That one I expected to be pretty bad, it was a Tesco (Minehead) buy when teaching English to Russian students at Butlins in Summer 2004 and was bought after reading almost everything else they sold. I think the world can find better authors to spend time reading).

Cage of Stars has a bit of a Jodi Picoult feel to it (with a bit of Picolt-ish cover art too) without being a crime novel. The book follows Ronnie Swan who, having seen her younger sisters murdered at twelve years of age, plans her revenge on the schizophenic Scott Early. I read this in a day (05/06) and really enjoyed it. It's very similar style to Picoult and is just as readable. I bought this from Borders Gallions Reach (buy 1 get one half price) with Graham and Kimball over the second May bank holiday weekend. I have given it away (swapped on Read It Swap It for The Kite Runner with sally3:UK) but may seek to reread it in the future.

How Slow Can You Waterski is a collection of science behind the news articles from the Guardian. It was a Christmas present from Graham which I have been reading one or two stories at a time before bed since then. I finally finished it off on Monday 4th June. I expected to enjoy these and was not disappointed though there are some bits of the world I wish I could persuade myself to show more interest in. It's staying on my shelf to dip into again and to grin at like a silly fool.

The End of Alice was bought from Borders Gallions Reach (in the same trip as Cage of Stars) with Music For Torching by the same author. Both books were bought full price after reading This Book Will Save Your Life and reading some reviews on BookMooch. I really liked this book from the very first page. The words are really elegantly crafted and made me want to read them aloud (and I did, wandering about in my lunch hour on Thursday). I finished this book on Friday 1st June and it was a very good start to the month (following some great books at the end of last month too!) I will keep this book for sure and will reread it sometime in the future. It's not especially similar to This Book Will Save Your Life and is far better (and This Book Will Save Your Life was a pretty good book too). It has a bit of a Margeret Atwood feel to it but I can't quite think what makes me say that. The topic (it's about a correspondence between a pedophile and a 19-year-old girl) caught my eye and may put some people off but it's a fine book and I recommend it.

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