Tag Archives: personal

On The Move….

Looks like I might need a new title for this blog – we’re moving house.
“Turn left at the bridge” is actually part of the directions for finding our current abode; from the end of next month, it’s going to be something like “Keep straight on, we’re the first house on the left.” Which is a tad too long for a blog title, I think. So I’ll keep the present title.
We’re not moving far, just a few miles. I hope we don’t have to do it again for a few more years – I’m stressed out already!

All ears

Update on the audiobooks: The Kindle cable I ordered finally arrived yesterday, a full week after I’d ordered it. When I went to the audible.co.uk site to find out how to download my book, I had a distinct Homer Simpsom moment – I’d been so determined to download onto my Kindle that I’d completely missed the several places informing me that I could download books onto my Ipod!
So that’s what I did. It was still a fiddle-faddle to set up, downloading the requisite software, telling it to download my book, then telling it to copy the file into the Itunes library. But 45 minutes later I had it and spent most of last night listening to the first part. It was as good as I had expected, with James MacPherson displaying a wide range of voices and accents, making it easy to distinguish characters. I think I may very well be buying more audiobooks.

Onto other matters: I’ll be changing the blog in the next few months. It’s been on WordPress ever since I started blogging properly, in January 2004; although I’m still happy with WP, the software is now getting big and complex for just a simple blog. So I’ll be moving it to the Ghost platform. It’s been developed by a team led by John O’Nolan, who I’ve been following on FB, Twitter and other sites for years. He’s been a WordPress developer as well as working on a number of highly successful commercial sites. I’m confident that he knows his stuff, which is why I stuck a tenner into his Ghost Kickstarter project. For that, I’ll get a copy of the Ghost software as soon as it’s released. It will be able to import WP blogs, so you’ll still be able to enjoy my archives of wit and wisdom.

Adventures In Sounds

So I’m having some eye trouble at the mo – I’m constantly getting dry eyes, so that I have to limit my time reading and at the computer; I’ve already got through three tubes of carbomer gel in the last week.
So I thought I’d explore the possibility of text-to-speech (TTS) stuff, so that I can at least keep myself entertained through my ears – even watching TV is a strain. First stop was my Kindle Fire; deep in the settings, I discovered an option for turning on TTS software for TTS-enabled books. I was delighted, as I have several e-books half-read or waiting to be read. But, o dear, when I tried it out….
The software is technically very slick – it was quite hard to immediately tell that the pleasant-sounding American woman speaker wasn’t human. A mere minute or two of listening, however, and it was obviously mechanical. The speech rhythm was arbitrary and didn’t correspond to the text rhythm – there was the same length of pause between paragraphs, sentences and words, and no longer pauses for taking a breath; the tonal range was narrow, with no emphasis or inflection placed where it was obviously needed; the American pronunciation was jarring. That last was especially irritating as the text I was testing it on contained several instances of “apparatus” and the drawn-out middle syllable was making my teeth ache; it was fortunate that there was no mention of “aluminum” as well, as listening to “the appa-RAHH-tus was made of ah-LOO-min-um” would have had me breaking something. It was also fortunate that I was testing it on a rather dry history book (dealing, in that chapter, with “state apparatus”); I don’t want to even think about how Amazon’s robot would read out a British thriller novel.
So I looked at what was available in human-read books; voice actors are passionate about doing justice to an author’s writing. Going to audible.co.uk, I made a pleasant discovery – an extremely wide range of books, together with a no-strings offer of a free audiobook on signing up for a free months trial. An offer too good to turn down! So I signed up and went to download my free book. It was Ian Rankin’s Standing In Another Man’s Grave; having got it out of the library and then finding myself unable to read it, I was looking forward to spending several evenings listening to Detective Michael Jardine’s smooth Scottish tones narrating it.
But, of course, there was a snag. Since Amazon owns Audible.co.uk, I was expecting that I could download their audiobook straight onto my Amazon-owned Kindle, as I’d done with my ebooks. Amazingly, though, it appears I can only get an audiobook onto a Kindle by downloading it onto a PC and transferring it via a USB cable. Now, my Kindle had of course come with such a cable – but never having had to use it, I’d thrust it away somewhere and forgotten it. And could I find it again? Hah!

So here I am, waiting for a new cable to arrive and wishing desperately that my eyes would just sort themselves out.

Breakfast!

Breakfast

Wot I et this morning


So this morning, for breakfast, I decided on a change from my usual rather boring porridge and yogurt.
So here it is – scrambled eggs, a banana, and thick-sliced toast with yeast spread; there’s also a glass of apple juice that I forget to get in the shot. Pretty much all the nutritional requirements are there; I shouldn’t really be eating eggs, but I accidentally bought too many of them last week and I hate wasting food. There’s not much Vit C in evidence; but then, I’m a pretty weird sort of vegetarian. I loathe most fruit (except bananas) and I’m not especially fond of most vegetables (except for potatoes). But my diet’s been pretty much unchanged for nearly forty years, so it works for me.

“Whatever works for you” is pretty good guidance in life, I’ve found.

So, Saturday….

I got on the bus and went to Dumfries. The car is very poorly and will have to be replaced soon, hence the bus trip, to get some shopping.
Having done the stuff I needed to, I found myself with an hour to while away until the return journey. It was a long way from breakfast and I was getting hungry, so I bought a sandwich from the Spar – something cheap in one of those plastic triangular wrappings. The sun was out, so I plonked my rear end on a bench overlooking the river and prepared to eat.

However, the sandwich packet refused to co-operate – there was no tag to pull on, my nails couldn’t get through the plastic and my teeth are now too few and too blunt to get through anything much tougher than the cheese sandwich nestled enticingly within. I was considering rooting through my bag for something sharp and pointy (I normally carry a pencil or three) when a couple of smart-looking men came along, clutching leaflets and thick little books and dressed like Men in Black minus the shades.
So, missionaries for sure. Christians? Possibly, though they’re usually older and scruffier. Mormons? Maybe – Mormons always dress conservative and a little old-fashioned. Scientologists? Perhaps – the younger one looked the spit of Tom Cruise.
Spotting me, they launched into their spiel: “Would you be excited to learn that there is a prophet on Earth who is speaking the Word of God??”
“Not really. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised – there’s a lot of them about nowadays. I go on the internet a lot, you know. There’s plenty of them out there, on the web.”
“Ummm…” You could hear their brains working – quick, what’s the script for this? Then: “Ah! Would like our card? It has a website address on it!”
“No thanks. Look if you guys want to be useful, one of you could open this sandwich packet for me. I’m really hungry.”
They looked at each other. Another short pause for brains to shuffle frantically through scripts. The older MiB nodded silently at Tom Cruise, who took the sandwich packet and spent a good thirty seconds manfully ripping it open.
I bestowed a genuine smile of gratitude on him as I took the packet back (I really was hungry). “Thank you!” I beamed, “You’ve just done a good deed. Now go away do do more good deeds!”
And I settled down to eating and waved them off.

I generally try to be nice to missionaries. Being nasty to them only makes them feel that they’re persecuted; for them, feeling persecuted means that they’re in the right. In the past, I’ve argued with them, but that’s usually a waste of energy; the ones who are picked for evangelism are chosen for their unwavering belief in their religion. But it’s often fun to mess with their heads a little and go wildly off-script.
:D

Wurk….

These last three weeks have been incredibly busy. First, the first batch of Elfin Diaries arrived from the printer at least three weeks earlier than I’d expected, while I was still trying to unravel the structural mess that is the Astrological Association website and before I’d got the Elfin Diaries site sorted with new e-commerce software and a new design.
Then, I went down with a tooth abscess. The previous bouts of tooth pain I’d had before mild compared to this time. After a weekend of increasing pain I was was in a bad way by Monday, desperate enough to see a dentist. Came home with painkillers, antibiotics and instructions to return next month for extractions, fillings and drillings. Oh well. Was ill for a couple more days, occupying the sofa for much of the time. But now fully recovered.
Anyway, managed to get the diaries website up and running in record time, sent out hundreds of newsletters and am now busy dealing with orders. And still trying to sort out the AA site…
Sigh. So I’d best get on with it.

Clouds and Other Beasties…

Clouds over Yorkshire

Clouds over Yorkshire

So we went to a weekend camp in Yorkshire. Not the usual Oakleaf one, a smaller invitation-only camp. I had a better time than I thought I would. The weather was better than it might have been, only a few heavy showers for a day and half, quite a lot of sunshine the rest of the time. And I got to see some old faces and have a natter or three.
On the Sunday, we took an impromptu trip to Thirsk – we’d originally gone to Bedale to treat ourselves to a Chinese takeaway, found the place wouldn’t be open for another half-hour and said “OK, how are we going to pass the time?” And I decided I’d like to see the town where I’d lived for four years back in the late 70s/early 80s (and where we’d met…)
So off we went. And when we got there, I actually couldn’t recognise the place; the town centre seemed so much bigger – surely the street hadn’t been anything like that wide? And the layout was totally unfamiliar. There were a few buildings that I remembered – the library seemed to have been turned into a dance studio, the old Ritz cinema was tattier but still a cinema, the vet’s surgery (where my daughter had once taken a poorly hamster) was now the James Herriott Visitor Attraction, the laundrette where I’d taken my washing every Sunday morning was now a clothes shop…
We decided to go and look at the house where I had lived, on a council estate that had been on the edge of the town. Once I’d spotted the vets surgery- oops, the Visitor Attraction, I knew where I was; the road leading to the council estate was first left at the top of the street. Except that when we got to the top of the street, what had been a big open green space with the council estate tucked behind it, simply wasn’t there any more. Instead, there was just houses – lots of them. We drove hopefully down a side-road and got lost in the maze of little streets and cul-de-sacs. There was no sign of the older houses that I remembered. We were hungry; once we got back onto the main road, we decided to give up the search and go find a Chinese (we found the the Hung Moey in the Market Place; it has a decent vegetarian menu and serves enormous portions).
Well, they say you can’t ever go back. They may be right.
This morning I fired up Google Earth, found my old house and was able to take a good look at it on Street View. The little front garden is now concreted over – goodbye to the buddleia that I’d planted by the door – and the council has finally got around to properly fencing in the back garden so that local kids can no longer take a shortcut across what had once been my veg patch. But otherwise it looked pretty much the same on the outside; though no doubt the purple hallway and rainbow-coloured bedrooms have been redecorated with inoffensive flowered wallpaper…

Managed to get the 2013 Elfin Diary finished at last and zipped off to the printers. I feel quite proud of myself for having done nearly all nearly all of it myself; only the Chinese astrology article was by somebody else. Now I have to get on with the Astrological Association site; after that, the new design for the Elfin Diaries site, then marketing and selling the 2013 Diary; inbetween all that updating the badly neglected Oakleaf Circle site…
So I’m going to be very busy. Just as I’ve developed terrible toothache….

Still Here….

It’s been three months since I last posted here, and even that was a bit of an effort. Well, I’ll try to post more often.
I’m still busy; not only trying to get the 2013 Elfin Diary finished in time but also struggling to tidy up the Astrological Association website – I’ve been appointed the webmaster. And not succeeding too well at either task….

I’ve had eyesight problems, a side-effect of of a new anti-inflammatory painkiller I started in February. It worked marvellously and I felt healthier and more energetic than I’d done in years; but after the first month my eyes started blurring and drying up, to the point eventually where I couldn’t look at a computor screen, or read, or even watch TV for long. So the painkillers had to go and I’m back with my aches and pains and stiffness and tiredness and permanent general urghness.

I’ve been posting quite a lot on Facebook*; being able to post interesting links and short snippets seems to suit me better than writing lengthy blog posts these days. Also, it’s good for keeping up with family and (real) friends. But every now and then, I chafe at the length restrictions of FB posts and think that I should maybe use my blog instead. Something else that makes me feel I should post less on FB is that there are a small but annoying number of people on my friends list who post either endless pictures of unicorns and fairies and glurgy sayings (I’m sick of being told I need to dance in the bloody rain!) or lunatic US political rants, or inane witterings about their cute pet dogs. A good interesting discussion is much more to my liking.

*I don’t use my real name on FB, so if you want to friend me there, email me; however, if I don’t know you in real life, I probably won’t accept your friend request. Especially if I think you’re the type who likes to post endless unicorn pics and glurgy sayings, lunatic rants, or inane witterings about your cuddly pets. If you think you’re not that type, then give it a go!

Just busy

Hmmm. Don’t seem to be doing anything worth writing about these days. I spend my time in front of the computer, busy with lots of things – putting the 2013 Elfin Diary together, checking emails, reading Facebook and blogs.
Today, I’m updating the Oakleaf Circle site – there are updates that have been waiting since last October! I also found that the site’s contact form hasn’t been working for at least a month – mysteriously the entire contact form software had been deleted from the site, and I have no idea how. So I had to spend half an hour installing and configuring.
My ankles and knees still aren’t good enough for walking, the weather’s cloudy and cold, no great disasters – not a lot to write about, really. So I’ll go and make myself a cup of tea….. And maybe think myself lucky for not living in exciting times right now.