Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not giving up

So, I had given up on my blog as wasting my time and draining my life essence, but it seems I'm back.

It's just going to be short and sweet today, because I really need some hobbies that don't involve sitting in front of this computer for extended periods of time. I think I'm going to learn to play classical guitar. Haven't got the guitar yet, don't know how to play, but I'll learn.

Wait, I bet there's lessons online! Guides to choosing a guitar, free sheet music, online guitar shops galore...

My typing finger has a pain already.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Who do Google think they are?

I'm not sure what there is to say about Google and their digitisation project, except do they think the rules don't apply to them? I don't think I've ever seen such blatant disregard for the law.

Whether or not Google intend only to make small portions of the texts available to users, they're missing the point that the very act of making the unauthorised copy is illegal. Now they seem to think that out of print and out of copyright are the same thing.

Maybe I should start downloading pirated films from the internet. Using Google's logic I could justify my actions by publishing a small amount of my illegal download on this website and claiming it was all good publicity for the film. I could announce it in press releases and make sure the whole world knew about it, and surely all the film companies would be falling over each other to thank me.

I used to have a great deal of respect for the way Google operated, but now they seem to be just another faceless corporation, bulldozing their way through the law and common decency in pursuit of money.

Don't get me wrong. I don't equate illegality with immorality, and I don't think copyright law is perfect, but it's there and it's there for a reason. Authors have a right to protect their work from exploitation, and to that end to be able to control who is authorised to make copies of it and for what purpose. Google need to acknowledge that authors have that right, if only because it's the respectful thing to do.

It's not about money. As far as I'm concerned, all they have to do is ask. Or is that too much effort?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Does that look like spinich to you?

My new found status as an almost-vegetarian was placed in jeopardy last night, when I may have accidentally consumed a small amount of something that in many ways resembled beef.

Who would have thought that the contents of a pastry slice labelled Spinich and Ricotta would in fact be a brown beefy sludge? It sure wasn't cheese and there was nothing green about it. Someone at Sainsbury's having a laugh?

If I didn't so hate the litigious nature of modern society, I might put something here about suing the supermarket, but I do so I won't. It reminds me of the time I bought donuts from Tesco, and the custard ones were filled with apple and the apple ones were filled with custard. I didn't sleep for a week, I can tell you. If you can't rely on the contents of your donut, what can you trust?

Back to the plot, I have decided to be less of a hypocrite and make the next pair of shoes I buy cow friendly. Vegetarian Shoes seem to be well made, stylish and generally free of dead animals, which is pretty much all I can ask for.

Random Billy Bragg quote (don't sue me Billy):

I dreamed I saw a tree full of angels, up on Primrose Hill
And I flew with them over the Great Wen till I had seen my fill
Of such poverty and misery sure to tear my soul apart
I've got a socialism of the heart

And, goodnight.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Doing something more than nothing

I'm trying to cut down on internet use. No more evenings spent aimlessly surfing, no more reading the bbc pages exhaustively without actually gaining in knowledge because after five hours I'm kind of bleary eyed.

Blogging is allowed, because this is productive. I actually have to have my brain in gear to do this, even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. Sometimes it's hard work to get the words down; sometimes the amount of time and effort that goes into writing and rewriting a post seems entirely under represented by the number of words that end up getting published. Sometimes I can spend half an hour staring at a blank screen and then give up. But at least I'm thinking.

Doing nothing makes me tired, and I won't do it any more.

This evening I read a bit of Nineteen eighty-four, listened to Vin Garbutt and Billy Bragg (I'm loving Billy Bragg at the moment. £7.99 for a double cd? Bargain.), and thought a lot about doing yoga. All of those things require a degree of intellectual effort. I might have felt better if I'd actually done the yoga, but baby steps, baby baby steps.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Child of the eighties

You know those quizzes, those You know you're a child of the eighties when... quizzes?

They invariably list a number of popular (children's) culture icons from the said era, such as My little ponies (#My little pony... skinny and bony...#), He-man and Transformers. If you ever owned these, played with these, or fantasised about playing with these even though your parents were too stingy to actually buy you any, then you surely are a child of the eighties. I had fake Transformers and My little ponies from the charity shop, but I'm not complaining.

And He-man did have the power.

I've always known, thanks to these quizzes, that I am a child of the eighties. Well, thanks to the quizzes and the indisputable knowledge that I was born in 1979.

My status as such a privileged child was reinforced finally and indisputably today. There can be no doubt, if there ever was any, that I grew up in the decade of Button moon and Cabbage patch kids.

Today, I correctly identified the song Suddenly wafting through the drafty corridors as being the song that was played at Scott and Charlene's wedding in 1987. #Suddenly, every part of me...#

If you don't know who Scott and Charlene are, then you're clearly not a child of the eighties, or else you live in a part of the world which is culturally barren. What sort of people have never seen that great Australian soap Neighbours? Making tea time interesting for the last twenty years.

If you do hail from such a poor deprived place, then you might be interested to know that tomboy Charlene was played by none other than Kylie Minogue. The show also launched the career of Russell Crowe, although nobody actually remembers him being in it.

Not even me, and I'm a child of the eighties.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Three day weekend

There are reasons why two days is not long enough for the weekend, and these are they.

There's two. The first is that Saturday is next to Friday, and the second is that Sunday is next to Monday. The whole weekend is contaminated by contact with the not-weekend.

Anybody remember Dinosaurs? Not the momma! Ahem. Where was I?

Ah yes, a three day weekend, that would be perfect. All that's needed is one day in the middle and two days to act as a buffer zone on either side. One pure, pure day of nothing except relaxation and wine.

Now, I'm not necessarily asking for a four day working week here. I've no problem with working five days in a row. What I'm suggesting is that we get this extra day off by making the week eight days long, which is surely the perfect solution.

What's that you're saying about science and moon cycles and the solar system and stuff? I don't understand. Or maybe I just can't hear you.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


This morning I was walking down an alleyway I've never walked down before, a long, winding medieval back passage with steep side walls and smooth worn cobbles, when I rounded a corner and a saw the most amazing sight.

There, sprawling across a wall in this grey, lonely alley, was a bright, autumnal mass of red, orange, yellow leaves, a beautiful fiery work of art hidden from all but the few of us who decide to seek out new places and walk a different way sometimes.

The picture is just the teaser; if you want to see the rest then go for a walk. Who knows what you might find.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Meat Loaf looks like who?

Has anyone else ever noticed that Sam Allardyce looks an awful lot like Meat Loaf?

More importantly, does anybody care?

This post has no rhyme or reason except Bat out of hell was just on the radio. After my epic post last night I'm clearly suffering from inspiration draining blogger lethargy that has left me incapable of posting anything of meaning.

How many of you know who Sam Allardyce is anyway? How many of you even read this far? Truely, there are times when I oughtn't be allowed near my blog. Don't worry, things'll get better tomorrow. #The sun'll come out.. tomorrow.. tomorrow...#

Annie? I'm singing Annie?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

How to be a bad vegetarian (or hypocrisy for beginners)

So, I don't eat meat any more. No more dead animals for me. Except fish, because I'm clearly a hypocrite.

I feel, looking back, like my whole culinary life has been a gradual journey to this point. I've never been a big meat eater, although until a few weeks ago I was happily enjoying KFC with the best of them. Still, there's been no single event that made me make this decision; it just... happened. There was no sudden revelation, no dodgy burger, no pet lamb cooked for Sunday dinner. But there are reasons for this if I think too hard.

This is where I have to explain myself.

First and foremost, I don't like meat much. Chicken's never been a problem. Or a nice crunchy bit of back bacon. But real meat, a thick chewable steak or hunk of baby sheep, has never done it for me. It has an awful texture, it's hard to digest and it's surely very similar to eating a dead person. (Interesting aside: Bill Bryson once said that he'd never eat a doner kebab because he didn't want to consume anything that looked so remarkably like it was "calved from a dead man's leg." Still hungry?) So, red meat was the first to go a couple of months ago. Although by red meat I clearly don't mean bacon, because I'm a hypocrite.

Of course, so far I've only excluded the meat I don't much like, and chicken's still on the menu. But at the back of my mind there's always been the niggling knowledge that this is wrong. Always. It can't be right to cause suffering to another thinking, feeling, sentient being for no good reason whatsoever. And before you say it, it isn't a good reason. Very few people on this earth have no alternative to eating meat. You can argue all you like about food chains and the order of things, but the fact remains that we can all live quite happily and (even more) healthily without dead flesh in our guts.

Do you know how they killed the pigs that made your ham sandwich? They stunned them with an electric stunner, and hung them upside down by their legs. Then they slit their throats so they bled to death. Now, pigs are very intelligent creatures, at least as intelligent, if not more intelligent, as your pet dog. Would you do that to Lassie? Personally, I wouldn't do that to a chicken.

Which leads me to my next reason. How many times have you heard people say, in the face of squeamishness, that if you eat something then you should be able to kill it? It works both ways: if you wouldn't kill it, don't eat it. Stick most people in front of a cow and tell them to slaughter it, get blood on their hands, and they'd be horrified at the thought - but meat comes in such sanitised supermarket packages these days that it's easy to forget it ever had a face.

To me, the thought of strangling a chicken, taking it's neck in my hands and squeezing the life out of it, watching it die helplessly, is no less awful than the thought of strangling a cat, or a monkey. I just couldn't do it. So, yes, if you would take the knife in your hand and slit its throat yourself, then by all means eat that dead pig. But if you wouldn't, then you shouldn't. Come help me dig up some potatoes? No problem. Going scrumping? Sounds like fun. Fancy coming down the abbatoir and slaughtering a few cows? No? Well then.

The final nail in the meat eating coffin came a few weeks ago, in a bookshop. Aren't books great? I picked up In defence of animals: the second wave by Peter Singer, and started reading. I didn't get very far, but the bit I did read was brilliant. The basis gist of it was that the drawing of a line, a don't eat it because it's morally wrong line, at the level of species is quite arbitrary. Why not at genus, or even higher? Other species have the same levels of cognition, sentience and ability to feel pain as small children, but because of this arbitrary line most people would eat one and not the other. In the other direction, why don't we draw the line at whatever subgroups of human we might belong to? Perhaps, as a woman, I ought to start eating men. They may think, feel, cry and hurt like me, but they don't belong to the same exclusive biological group as me. Therefore it's ok to kill them for food, isn't it?

So, no more meat for me. Ish. Sorry for preaching, because I really have no right to. My shoes are made of leather and I eat fish. It's a gradual journey, as I said, and we all know I'm a hypocrite.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Procrastination is the thief of my soul

After days of unproductiveness, self-induced lethargy and a general leanings towards laziness, I actually had quite a productive evening this evening.

I spent two hours sliding pieces of paper into plastic wallets and putting them in files. On occassion, just for variety, I took documents out of one file and put them into another. I also introduced some brightly coloured file dividers to my folders, which will surely be the thing that clinches my status as a fully-fledged chartered librarian.

Tomorrow, I may make lists.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The only way I know how to make a difference

Donate to the British Red Cross' Asian earthquake appeal here.

Or any of their other appeals while you're at it. In fact, set up a direct debit, because there are always people who need help.

Makes me wish I had more to offer than money.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ignorance is never bliss

Yesterday in my lunch hour I was bombarded with horrendous tv images of yet another natural disaster. Hundreds of people in Central America were dying, helpless and vulnerable in the face of the power of nature.

That was then that the conversation started. It began with the words, "Oh no, not again."

You might be thinking that that is exactly the sort of despairing thought that people all over the globe are currently expressing, seeing once more the mass suffering of others. You might be thinking it marks the start of an outpouring of sympathy. In that case you've misunderstood the sentiment. Easily done, given the levels of empathy most human beings expect from others. A little concern for the rest of mankind is surely part of what makes us human. Isn't it?

But as the conversation bloomed into full scale exasperation and hand waving at the tv screen, it became clear that "Oh no, not again" didn't mean, Oh no, isn't it awful that more people are dying.

It meant, Oh no, do they really have to show us this again? I'm not interested. It's not like it affects me. They're acting as though it's our problem.

Whatever the old platitude might say, I'm a firm believer that charity doesn't begin at home. It begins with the people that need it most. Without wanting to sound like a cliche, we're all citizens of the world. The global villiage. The shrinking earth. Some of you reading this might be thousands of miles away, and that's a good thing, because communication is knowledge, and everything begins with knowledge.

When I see people in despair on the other side of the world, I don't think, Why do I need to know this? I think, Isn't it brilliant that we live in a world where information travels so fast and easily that those of us who are better off are in a position to help? We should be aspiring to make things better for the whole of humankind, not just those people who happen to live the right side of arbitrary national boundaries.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing that can acheive much. I never want to be ignorant of the rest of the world.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What is important?

I think I rambled last night. I rambled about Scrabble. Just what kind of drunken librarian am I?

I think somewhere in there, though, I did manage to make a fine philosophical point about the subjectivity of value. What's important to you may not be important to anyone else, and what's important to me may make you think I'm a loon.

But are there some things that are universally valuable? What about life, love and freedom? If only.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I can't think of a better game than Scrabble. Words words words words words. Letters. Words. All good.

Turns out there's now a Welsh version of the game. Lots of double "L"s and the like. In English a double "L" is pretty much useless, but in Welsh, it's kinda cool. It's what makes Llanelli (that's a place) sound like Clanethlee.

Apparently in the Polish version of Scrabble the letter "Z", the cherished jewel of many an English speaking player, is only worth one point. Like "E". Or "A". A rare consonant with the numerical value of a vowel? How can I cope with that?

It makes me worry, I won't lie. How can something so valuable to one group of people be so worthless to the next?

I don't know where I'm going with this, but it's a point worth bearing in mind. I may have more coherent thoughts on the matter when my mind isn't clouded by a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. What, more wine?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Broad biscuits

Are you a librarian? Do you find Informationspeak intruding in your everyday thought processes? Did you walk past Ben's Cookies today and muse over the status of "cookie" as a subdivision of "biscuit"?

You see, on this side of the Atlantic that hard baked and (usually) round thing is a biscuit. Not a cookie. Stick a few chocolate bits in it and it becomes a chocolate chip cookie, but it's still a biscuit, in the same way that Ciabatta is still bread. So Bluenettle's thesaurus of sweet snacks has "cookie" as a narrower term under the broad heading "biscuit", along with "custard cream", "rich tea" and "chocolate hobnob", among many others.

But then Ben's Cookies made me think. Bake it so that it's still soft and yummy and oozing delightfully messy chocolate and it's most definitely a cookie. But is it still a biscuit? Shouldn't a biscuit have some crunch?

And just where do we put the Garibaldi's???

Monday, October 03, 2005

Signing Captain Corelli

Yesterday I bought a signed copy of Captain Corelli's Mandolin in the hope that at some point in the dim and distant future it may be worth more than the £7.99 I just paid for it. It's a future modern classic, you know.

There was a little smidgen (did I just make that word up?) of disappointment when I learned that Louis De Bernieres has a fairly lifeless signature. Given the levels imagination and creativity oozing out of his novels, I expected something a little more... literary. Great floral swirls and diving swoops of ink next time, please, Louis. Those book collectors of the future will want something impressive for their money.

Who am I to talk? My straight forward signature is as dull as it comes. First name and last name neatly (or not so neatly, depending on how the mood takes me) written in my normal, every day handwriting. For some people signing their name is like scrawling a (very short) symphony; for me it's like... writing. My name. No, I'll never be a doctor. Or famous. No celebrity flourishes for me.

Incidental aside: Corelli only has one "R". Just thought you'd like to know.

Back to the plot, Salman Rushie will be available to sign a book for me in a couple of weeks, should I feel so inclined to go and visit him in the great shrine of bookness known as Borders. I'll have to check my diary; I may be too busy practising writing my name.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Observing a librarian

So, turns out I'm a really bad blogger. Bad, neglectful blogger. But today I had inspiration. A tiny spark that flickered across my brain while I was contemplating the Philosophy reading list on my computer screen. Precisely, what an odd, odd thing work is.

Other animals have got it down pretty simple. They sleep, they look for food, they eat food, they manage to keep warm, and they sleep again. Humans do pretty much the same thing, except we do a complicated dance around it, and add on a few extras just for fun. Can you imagine if some higher being was watching my day in a wildlife documentary?

It's morning time on earth. Watch as the human librarian emerges from its nest of brick and wood and makes its way, bleary eyed, along this intricate maze of open air pathways. Other humans are on their travels too, some in large metal contraptions that pollute the air but enable members of this hard working species to choose from a larger number of places in which to labour.

The librarian works busily in a nest constructed of stone, which also serves as a place of education for the human young. It spends its day staring at a bright, flat light known as a "computer", handling communication devices made from pulped wood, and smiling at other humans.

For this labour the librarian is rewarded in return. However, the reward does not take the form of any physical item; rather, the personal number known as a "bank balance" automatically increases. Part of this number may then be exchanged for food and nest rent. It may also be exchanged for wide variety of items whose purpose currently remain a mystery, although we do know that some of the most popular items are flat shiny discs. This human librarian has also been observed to voluntarily consume large quantities of toxic liquids, and spends much time watching groups of human males kick a small sphere.

See what I mean? We're a mad, mad species.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Piano man again

It's all a bit of an anti-climax really. After four months of mystery and intrigue, the "Piano Man" suddenly tells people his name and flies home to Germany.

What a let down.

But, remembering this is a real person I'm talking about and not just an entertaining story, how nice it is that he's finally home. The question is, will we ever find out how he ended up wandering on beach in a dripping wet suit? Perhaps he just went for a paddle. Or, he still could be a dastardly russian spy - who would tell us? The Sun, maybe...

Whatever the case, and no matter how dull the reality turns out to be, I'm still sure there's going to be a film about this some time in the future. Whether it will tell the truth is another matter. Perhaps we need to hear from the man himself to put this one to bed for good.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mo Mowlam

As much as I'm loath to get into politics on my blog (except when absolutely necessary...) I couldn't let Mo Mowlam's death go by without mentioning what a brilliant woman she was.

To put it simply, Mo Mowlam was the only politician I ever liked. She was honest, down to earth, determined and, most importantly, very, very funny. Some of her tv appearances brought tears of laughter to the eyes. How many politician manage that? Tears of despair maybe...

The BBC website has an article featuring reader contributions called The day I met Mo Mowlam. Read them, they're priceless.

Where's the next Mo going to come from?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Why did nobody ever tell me about Gandhi? Why?

I'm not talking about the film that I saw for the first time last night, but the man who's enlightened approach to life made the film the fantastically emotional and uplifting journey it was. I'm still feeling gobsmacked. I can't believe I've spent my life so far knowing far too little about this man.

Gandhi was known as Mahatma, meaning great soul (that's right, it's not actually his first name...), as true a description as there ever could be. He was a peaceful man who fought doggedly against civil injustice, who spoke for the downtrodden when others looked away, who rallied against imperialism and succeeded in a big way. Through gentleness, inspiration and perseverence he became the father of a nation. He made a real difference, an almost unimaginable difference, and he did it without guns, or bombs, or hatred of any kind. An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.

We could all learn from Gandhi - some more than others. Violence is never the answer; more importantly, great things can be acheived without it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New words

You know what job I would like? I'd like to be one of the people who decides what new words get to go in the Oxford English Dictionary. New words and phrases to make it this time around include chav, phishing and chip and pin.

But am I the only person who doesn't know that Ruby Murray is rhyming slang for curry? Am I meant to have heard of Ruby Murray? Let me go and look this up. I'm a librarian, you know.

I'm back...

It turns out Ruby Murray was a famous Irish singer in the 50s. Was she really that famous or is there just not much else that rhymes with curry? What about slurry? Given what some curries look like, I think that could be quite appropriate...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sacrificing myself

The defining moment of each day of your life is the moment you do something for the first time. Most days have moments like that, even if you don't realise it at the time.

Now, I'm not talking about deliberately doing daft things like standing on one leg and shouting "HERMAPHRODITE!" just for the sake of making a dull day original. I'm talking about the tiny, tiny things that happen naturally in the course of your day, like walkng down a new street, trying a new food, talking to a new person, finding out something you didn't know before. Then you can look back on the day and think, Oh yes, that was the day I sat in chewing gum in my lunch break.

That was yesterday. Today will be the day I sat on my bed with a pre-addressed envelope and a plastic vial and sacrificed my body in the name of scientific research. Well, some of my DNA on the end of a stick anyway. I'm pretty sure I've never done that before.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bad library fiction is really really good

There are some things that only incredibly skilled people can do well, and writing very badly is one of them. The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest showcases the best of the worst, for our amusement and entertainment.

What the competition seems to lack, however, is a library catagory. In fact, now I think about it, the library setting is sadly neglected by fiction writers in general. How about The Dewey Code, The curious incident of the rat in the stacks or The hitchikers guide to the information galaxy?. But, back to the point.

Well, actually there wasn't much of a point. This is all pretty much a preamble to this terrrible opening to a terrible novel penned by my own fair hand:

She didn't become a librarian for money, for ambition, or even for Dewey. She became a librarian because the moment she cast her eyes upon the papery pages and ink black words of a monograph for the first time, she felt true love. Now, adrift in a sea of shelves, she once more caressed The history and social influence of cod, fondling the masculinity of deep purple buckram with a trembling hand and cursing the readers who had left his pages dog-eared and spilt contraband Ribena on the tp verso. As salty tears began to fall and mingle with the sinful stain of sticky red beverage, she knew she had failed him and every other information resource she cared for. It was then she realised her aching soul could not bear to see this evil happen again, not to a book, a periodical, or, Library of Congress forbid, to the keyboard of a faithful opac. She gripped the keys to the library in her pocket tighter and tighter until she felt the jagged edges gouging her palm. The gaping door beckoned and she knew what she must do.

Pretty bad, hey? Anyone think they can compete with that for library-based twaddle?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Students and traffic cones

Can students please start thinking of pranks that don't involve traffic cones? Really, it's the most unimaginative thing I've ever seen: Oh look, there's an orange cone in the river, isn't that funny?

The best student prank I saw was a few years ago and involved a litter bin standing proudly on top of a phone box. That showed some originality, not to mention ingenuity. I still haven't figured out how they managed it without a baby crane. Of course, the next night they were back stealing letters from shop signs (take the n, o and n out of Clinton and what have you got?) and putting traffic cones in unexpected places, but that's just dull compared to the surreal sight of a heavy bin perched on top of a BT shower stall.

So, here's my list of student pranks that have been done too many times before, by students everywhere (trust me, I was one once):

1. Removing traffic cones from their correct position and putting them somewhere daft
2. Melting plastic litter bins
3. Rearranging the letters in shop signs to spell something obscene (rearranging letters to spell something witty is still unoriginal but at least entertaining)
4. Turning sign posts to point in the wrong direction
5. Stealing body parts from the department of medicine and putting them in the post
6. Throwing tied up pairs of shoes over telephone wires

What do you mean, number five doesn't happen everywhere? Dear god, what sort of university did I go to?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Is Dewey dangerous?

At the risk of sounding like a dour stereotype licking her lips at the sight of a dictionary and breaking a thin smile when a lost book emerges from the depths of the dusty shelves, I'm going to tell you that it takes very little to get this librarian excited. I practically cried with happiness when I found 025.431: The Dewey blog.

If I carried a copy of Dewey around in my head, this would be where I would make a list of my favourite Dewey numbers. But I don't, so I won't. Except to tell you that I'm a fan of the 320s, 092 is my favourite standard subdivision and the 810s make my head hurt. Oddly, that last sentence strangely conjures up an image of me being hit over the noggin with volume two, but I'm pretty sure that's never happened... has it?

Librarians across the world are today being urged to be on their guard after a rogue copy of DDC leapt up from the desk and attacked a librarian in Oxford, England. While the librarian in question was not injured, she has no memory of the incident and has since displayed some unusual symptoms, including reciting long numbers in her sleep, spending weekends sorting tins of food into complex hierarchies (of which everything is a subdivision of baked beans), and the inability to write any number without a decimal place after the third digit.

The Library of Congress have insisted that this was a simple malfunction and is not an intentional design feature of DDC, and have requested that any other librarians who feel their Dewey may be trying to influence their every day thought processes should return their copy immediately. No faults have been reported with the online version, but an inside source was quoted this morning as saying, "It's just a matter of 115."

Monday, July 11, 2005

No hatred or bitterness

I struggled on Thursday to get my mangled thoughts onto this screen, to express what I was feeling, which was sadness tempered with fear. But not fear of what might happen to me, to my family, or to any other innocent people - you can't live your live being afraid of what might happen. I would go to London tomorrow and get on that tube.

What I fear most now is that people will use the bombs in London as an excuse to perpetuate the hatred, to lash out at those who don't deserve it, and to feed the furnace of anger in those who do. There is no uglier human trait than the desire for vengeance, and particulary the desire to fulfill that vengeance with bloodshed. Leave those black thoughts to the terrorists.

Uncle Steve's blog contains a list of quotes about the bombings. Most are compelling anecdotes from Londoners showing the world that life goes on, with the aid of copious amounts of tea. It's brilliant to see people reacting with this gentle, exasperated humour rather than resorting to hateful tirades and overzealous flag flying.

The quote that stands out most though, is more poignant. It was originally by Edith Cavell, a nurse who was executed by the Nazis in the second world war. Before she died, knowing her fate, she said,

"Patriotism is not enough: I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone."

Put the kettle on, then.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


I don't know what to say.

What can I say?

It makes me sad to know that there are people in the world so consumed by hate. Make sure it stops here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Who said the Olympics are about sport?

London wins the Olympics and already people are moaning. One of the most prestigious, awesome and downright inspirational spectacles we could ever hope to see, and they complain. Can we make moaning an Olympic sport?

There seem to be two main reasons the killjoys use to argue that London getting the Olympics is a bad thing. The first is that they don't like sport. This is a flawed argument on several fronts. To begin with, lots of people do like sport. I like sport. All the people jumping up and down on the telly seem to like sport.

Somebody told me today, "English people don't like sport." I think what he really meant is "I'm English and I don't like sport. The fella sitting next to me doesn't like sport either. Ergo all English people don't like sport." Any philsopher can tell you this is an invalid argument. I can too, but without the equations. (Apparently, the "Gaelics" do like sport. But we all know there's none of them in Britain...)

Personally, I don't like Harry Potter. I'm a librarian you know, so this must be a trait in all librarians. Only people of less worthy professions (archivists, for example) like wizards. I think I'll go to all the bookshops in Oxford (there are quite a few) and moan at them. Why on earth do they bother selling them to anyone when it's clear no librarians want to read them? It's not like they're inspiring children to read or anything. I think I might tell JK Rowling not to write any more. I know, let's ban Harry Potter!

OK, so no one actually suggested we should ban sport. Not yet anyway...

Besides, anybody who thinks the Olympics are just about sport is sadly misguided and, quite frankly, a little narrow minded. It's like Field of Dreams. Everybody knows that film isn't really about baseball, but about following your... well, dreams. The Olympics are about people as much as they are about sport. We may remember the winners, but we remember those who persevered bravely and lost with dignity even more. Who will ever forget Eric the Eel? And who thinks eel looks silly with a capital E? The Olympics are full of human drama (what is this? Oprah?) and emotion and brilliant people.

The second reason people seem to be negative about the Olympics is money. Yes, we all know it costs a lot of money to host the Olympics. Billions of pounds will be spent on building an Olympic villiage that can be turned into low cost housing afterwards, on constructing a fantastic stadium that will bring sports facilities to local communities, on building a focal point for one of the most deprived areas in Britain. So much money that will do nothing except make life better for a lot of people. What a waste of money.

Yes, we need to make sure that the plans are right, that the money spent does create facilities and buildings that will be put to use in the future. Negativity won't do that. Let's look forward and bring something good to a new generation. There's seven years to get it right.

Of course, the real issue we need to start thinking about is: will Britain compete in the football in 2012? Yes, and the selection of players will become a sporting minefield against the background of FIFA pressure to make it a permanent arrangement. No, and Britain loses its perfect record - hosted twice, competed twice, won twice.

I think we should avoid the controversy by entering a crap team. A random mix of Sunday leaguers from across the home nations, because friendship is more important than goals. Maybe they'll lose twenty nil with bravery and dignity in a blur of human drama, which is of course the same as winning.

Monday, June 20, 2005


The problem is, it's so hot I can barely think. I'd like to say this is my excuse for not blogging for several days, but alas, evening swelter has only been afflicting us for three nights. Seriously, how can it be this warm when it's dark outside?

That's it. I'm done. I was going to write more but I don't know what when where or why. Can I have a swimming pool, please?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ironing is dangerous!

I write this one handed, since my left thumb is currently throbbing with a shiny iron-shaped burn, and is so currently occupied with an ice cube.

Ironing is now added to my list of things that should come with a health warning. It's right up there with the internet, except it doesn't have the redeeming feature of allowing me to procrasinate spectacularly. I only managed to procrastinate for about twenty minutes by ironing, and most of that involved getting out all the necessary equipment and putting it away again.

All in all, household chores are a pretty dangerous business. Nobody should be allowed to iron without first completing a thorough safety course, a course hard enough for me to fail and therefore never have to iron ever again. As it is, I manage to do it remarkably infrequently. Managing to wear creased clothes without looking like a lazy article is surely a skill in itself, a skill perhaps even more valuable than being able to iron without burning your thumb.

I may never iron again - it's just not worth the risk. And what about vacuuming? There's another household task that could be dangerous when undertaken by unqualified individuals. Like me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Harry Potter and Bluenettle's shame

After the ambling through The Da Vinci code, I finally sucumbed to persuasion and picked up a copy of another book I've been resisting for a while. Years, in fact. Yes, Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone has finally made it onto my bookshelves. After being unimpressed with the films and uninspired by all I've heard so far, a copy was ultimately thrust upon me, and I gave in.

All done and dusted in fact, since the first in the series is remarkably thin compared to later offerings. I imagine if J.K. Rowling had gone along to a publisher with a six hundred page long children's novel a few years ago they would have laughed in her face. Fortunately for me, this makes HPATPS (people call it that, right?) a fairly short-lived affair.

So, what can I say? I firstly must congratulate the author for managing to use an apostrophe of possession correctly, because I don't think I could have got past the first page for worrying about it if she hadn't. As for the story... ultimately I'm left feeling cold.

I really hate to admit that, because generally I find things are never half as bad as I think they're going to be. That's not to say I think the book is bad; it was well written, had a well thought out plot, and was reasonably humorous to boot. It just it did nothing for me. Much as I try, I'm can't raise any enthusiasm for a story about a gang of children waving wands about and chasing monsters.

Don't get me wrong here - I'm not an unimaginative dullard immune to fantasy. I think I crave something more intelligent than this, which I suppose is more than I'm entitled to expect from a children's novel. Now, if you spiced up the plot a bit, made the main characters over eighteen and threw in a bit of gratuitous allegory that I only half get, then I'd probably be raving. Some morally ambiguous characters would be great too. The whole good versus evil storyline is overhyped and overated.

Cast a spell on me if you like, curse me forever and condemn me to the dungeons until the next full moon, but I'm just not a Harry Potter fan. Is there something wrong with me?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Keep thinking about poverty

On the same day as G8 leaders apparently reach a deal on relieving debt in third world countries, I read a news story about diamond encrusted dress worth $1.5 million. The dress was ruined when its celebrity wearer spilt red wine on it at a glitzy showbiz party. Apparently the diamonds can be salvaged though, so a major disaster was averted.

What would we all do without our diamond dresses? I must go out and buy myself one right now - I'll just stop by on the way and rob several million of the worlds poorest people of the money they earned today. That might just be enough.

Something is wrong somewhere. Can you tell what it is yet?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Superfluous soliloquy

Words are fantastic things. A jumble of letters on a page in the right order have meaning, and not only meaning but a corresponding sound, which also has meaning. Sometimes, it's the sound that gets you, a tantilising rhythm of syllables. So, here's a list of some of the best sounding words in the world. In my opinion, in no particular order, the best sounding words in the world are...

...serendipity (not very original, I know)

...and probably many others that my late night brain has neglected to remember.

This post was brought to you by the letter O and the letter S.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Twenty years of washing

Yesterday, my Ecoballs went for their first spin. Pun indended. Well, initially not indended but quickly realised, giggled at and deliberately kept, which is pretty close to being intended. Am I straying from the point?

I have to say, they did their job. Stick three weird round balls in the machine with your washing, and hey presto your clothes come out clean. They don't have that artificial outdoorsy flowery smell that detergent gives you, but who cares, really? Tomorrow I may try them on something tougher, just to test their mettle.

I also did some maths and realised that at one wash per week these things are going to last me twenty years. Twenty years. I'm going to be in my forties before I have to buy new ones. Think about that next time you're lugging home a box of powder.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Invisible queuing

In the pub there is an invisible queue. I say so and so does Kate Fox in her book Watching the English.

Everybody waiting to be served in the apparently random cluster of people knows who was there first, and the staff behind the bar know it too. Any person who tries to jump the queue by smiling, gesturing or otherwise trying to attract the bar person's attention will recieve nothing except a polite smile in reply. A polite smile means wait your turn, you impatient so and so. Thus is pub harmony acheived.

A similar system operates in the travel centre at Oxford train station. That jumble of people in chairs is really a queue and everyone in it knows it, everyone joining it recognises it and anyone attempting to jump it will be politely smiled at.

The moral of the tale is this: no one ever said queues have to be a straight line. No one ever said anything.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Finding my white band

The mystery of the missing white band has been solved! I found it stuffed up the sleeve of a pair of pyjamas, which of course is the obvious place I should have looked. Except said pyjamas were two hundred miles away from where I was looking, but let's not get bogged down in the details.

The important thing here is that I now have two white bands, which makes me twice as committed, obviously. For a while there I even wore them both at the same time. Now one is languishing as a spare, ready to be called into action the next time my wrist proves too skinny to keep a simple white band attached. Note to self: never wear expensive bracelets. Another note to self: never wear expensive jewellery because there are much better things to do with your spare money. If you ever have any.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


No, this isn't a post about saying bollocks to green issues, because I wouldn't do that. Nor is it a post about environmentally friendly testicles, as amusing as that might turn out to be. This is a post about every one of us contributing in our own small way to make the world a better place.

Yesterday, I discovered Ecoballs. These are nifty little things that you stick in the washing machine instead of using nasty detergents. Of course, it's easy to think that one person changing their habits will make little difference to the earth, so why bother? But imagine the difference if all of us made this one little gesture; change has to start somewhere. Did I mention they'll also save you money? So, really no excuse then. Mine will be on order soon and I'll keep you posted.

Mahatma Ghandi famously said you must be the change you wish to see in the world. Well, I'm always a bit slow to get off my backside and do stuff, but this will be a start. Who knows where I'll end up. I always did fancy a composting bin.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Where's the health warning?

You know that feeling when you're so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open, yet you still can't stop surfing?

I think if I sit here any longer my puffy eyes will disown me and my aching right wrist will go on strike. It's not like I'm even doing anything. How long before ISPs come with a health warning?

Warning: Excessive internet use can make you incapable of doing things that actually require effort. Remember to take a break every thirty minutes to remind your brain that it's still alive. 'The Internet' takes no responsibility for any sleepiness, irritability or sloth that may arise from the use of its services. Please take responsibility for your own laziness and don't sue us.

Yes, I think it's time to turn off the computer and do something less boring instead. Like sleep.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Macs, NewsFire, and simplicity

Macs are the best things in the world ever. Don't run away screaming now; a quick glance around will show you that this isn't the sort of topic I usually write about. Technophobes may want to look away, but those seeking enlightenment should stay and share in my joy.

I love my Mac. But last night I had a moment of sheer revelatory bliss that may never be acheived again in my life time. It all started when I was trying out some new rss readers. All the technophobes gone now? OK, I'll continue...

I was trying out new readers because the software I was using couldn't read atom feeds, and that was annoying. I felt like I was missing out on all the gems of wisdom being generated by other Blogger users (those who haven't discovered Feedburner, anyway). So I downloaded a new one, thought it looked pretty good, and started the process of transfering my favourite feeds. I did this by going into the feed details, copying the url of the feed and then pasting it into the url field in the add subscription window of my new reader.

However, when I'd finished the process I discovered a fatal flaw in the new software. It's icon in my dock didn't display the number of new items waiting for me. Grrrrrrr. So I found another piece of software and started the process again. Then, as I was in the middle of the second round of cutting and pasting, I thought to myself, Wouldn't it be cool if I could just drag each feed's title from the feed list in this reader and drop it into the list of feeds in the other one? So I tried it.

And it worked.

I've heard it said so many times about Macs and I'm going to say it now myself: they just work! Years of PC use clearly led me to overlook the most simple and intuitive way of doing things. I'm still astounded that it could be so simple. So astounded that I was inspired to write this post and share my experience with the world.

To top it off, I also discovered NewsFire. Everything about it from its functionality to its icon just oozes brilliance. It's fantastic, I'm even tempted to say perfect.

It's also only for Macs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Judge me by what I say

Someone recently told me that they'd taken a dislike to a person they didn't know because "she didn't look like she sounded on the phone." This seemed absurd to me, because surely you can tell more about a person by having a conversation with them than you can just by looking. A rational person, I thought, would realise in that situation that any snap judgements they had been tempted to make on the basis of the person's appearance were in fact erroneous, because they already knew something more real about that person from talking to them. You would hope this would then transfer into a realisation that any similar judgements they might make about people in the future could also be wrong.

Then it dawned on me. How she "sounded on the phone" was a reference to her accent and manner of speaking, not what she actually had to say.

Think of all the interesting people you'll never get to know (or vice versa, I suppose, be disappointed in) if you go around making judgements about them on the basis of the colour of their hair, their taste in clothes or what sort of accent they have.

A teacher at school once told us a true and telling story about someone he knew. Said respectable person, another teacher if I recall, was out shopping in busy city centre when he saw a sight that appalled him. Across the street, a punk, complete with brightly coloured mohican and black leather jacket (I can only assume this was sometime in the 1980s) was kicking and stamping on a little old lady who was lying on the ground. Naturally, being a good, upstanding citizen, he ran over to rescue the poor woman from the viscious beating she was receiving at the hands of the leather clad thug. Imagine his shock when he discovered that the old lady was on fire and the scary looking punk was doing what any good and decent person would do. He was trying to help her.

Judge people by their actions and their opinions, not by the style of their clothes.

The train of thought that led to this post was started, believe it or not, by this site. Basically, you have to look at pictures of two cats side by side and click on which you think is the cutest. After clicking, you can see what percentage of people agreed with you. There are also links to see which are the "winningest" kittens and which unfortunates are the "losingest". It it incredibly addictive, if I tell the truth. But as I was I was clicking merrily away, a nagging voice was telling me that if this was about people - and I know there are such sites - I'd be disgusted and start ranting about not judging others by their appearance. So I had the rant anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stealing time

Procrastination is the thief of time. Many people have said this before, and they have spoken the truth. He just sneaks in there and takes away hours, nay days, of your life without asking and without apology.

What does procrastination do with all this time? Perhaps he's a chronological Robin Hood, taking hours from those who have too much and giving them to those with deadlines to meet. The next time you manage to complete something that there's no way in the world you thought you could get finished on time, ask yourself if there's any way procrastination could have snuck in through the back door and left you someone else's extra time. In particular, if you think you have anonymously received any of my time, please let me know. That'll be procrastination getting his sums mixed up. I think he's left me with less then my fair share.

What do you mean, he's been stealing your time too? Is that true for everybody? Come on, hands up.

Hmmm, it appears I may have overestimated the intentions of our little friend. He's clearly just taking from everyone and keeping it all for himself. Even now, the last two hours have just disappeared. I must go and look for them; perhaps he just hid them under the bed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Worst day of the week

The worst day of the week is Tuesday. Every other day of the week has something going for it, while Tuesday languishes in nothingness.

Wednesday is halfway through the week, so we feel some kind of symbolic acheivement when we reach that far. The last hours of Wednesday also have the added benefit of being nearly Thursday.

Thursday is a good day by association, because it sits right next to Friday. Friday's glory ebbs over backwards into it. When it gets to Thursday, we can start asking work colleagues about their plans for the weekend.

Friday is the last day of the working week. Do you need any more explanation than that? In fact, I've heard it said that Friday isn't a real working day at all, but that attitude won't get you anywhere. Except a three day weekend.

Saturday is the best day of the week, because it's neither a work day nor the day preceding a work day. Saturday also comes bearing football matches, for which we must ever thank it.

Sunday suffers a bit from being before Monday, but I can forgive it that for still being a day off.

Then Monday, the first day of a brand new week. The day that you arrive at work in bright optimism because nothing has had chance to go wrong yet.

And Tuesday? On Tuesday there's still more of the week in front than behind you. The weekend is still three days away, and a new week is nearly a week away. Tuesday may be next to Monday, but these things don't work in both directions. The worst day of the week.

Right now, it's nearly Friday. I don't think I need to explain why I'm smiling.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Piano man

Found wandering around Kent in wet clothes over a month ago, traumatised and seemingly mute, yet able to play beautiful music. You've probably heard about the "Piano Man" and his mysterious and silent arrival from nowhere.

Me and Piano Man have a lot in common. He plays the piano very well, I play it very badly. He has blonde hair, I have almost blonde hair. He doesn't speak, I work in a library where no one's allowed to speak. He wears a suit, I own a suit. We're practically twins. Not identical, obviously - he's much taller than me.

Despite my obvious affinity with the man, I'm afraid I haven't been able to acheive a telepathic connection to ask him who he is. Actually, I haven't tried, but since I've never displayed telepathic tendencies before, I'm assuming a no. Let's hope more conventional methods reveal his identity soon, so that the film of his story can have a happy ending. It's going to be called Piano man - you saw that here first.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Too much to learn, too little space

Is there a limit to what we can learn? I'm not talking about the level of complexity of the information, but the amount. Will I reach a point in my life where my brain is full? Will learning new things mean forgetting others?

I think my train of thought here can be more adequately articulated by the master of wondering, Homer Simpson:

Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

If Homer's theory is correct, when my new found enthusiasm for learning French takes off, I'm going to start forgetting English. I'll start saying fromage and forget that I used to call the yellow stuff cheese. When I get down to learning some Latin, my brain be so cram-jammed full that I start forgetting the French words I just learnt.

Then who knows what will happen when I finally get around to refreshing my biblical Greek and Hebrew. I may be reduced to a gibbering wreck who can only compose sentences in fragments of several languages, most of which no one speaks any more.

Ego pense that estin time aller el bed.

Friday, May 13, 2005

08700130624 again

Would you believe it, it seems people are actually reading my blog. The very fact that you're reading this now confirms it. Unless you're me, in which case stop procrastinating and get back to work.

So, am I dazzling people with my witty charm? Are you here because you want to be wowed by my amazing writing skills and entertained by my amusing descriptions of the quirks of the world?

Maybe you are. But if you are, then you're one of the few people who is here to be entertained. All the others are here to share in my loathing of the telephone number 08700130624, a number I had a little rant about on here a few weeks ago.

Considering so many people seem to be having the same problem as I did, I think it's time for an update to the story.

After writing that post, the phone rang again for the fourth time that evening. This time, I answered it. It was Sky TV, who had called me several times before to try and persuade me to subscribe to their services. Once more I told them I'm really not interested, thank you. Suprisingly, the salesperson didn't stay on the line to try and convince me, but politely said goodbye and put the phone down.

Still dazed from this unexpected revelation that not all sales people are impossible to say no to, I dialled 1471 and guess what? 08700130624. Of course. Now, whether this is really Sky's number or some bizarre shared telesales number thing (however that might work), I don't know. In any case Sky have certainly gone down in my estimation, which given the extortionate price of their subscriptions wasn't very high in the first place.

Feeling weary and frustrated at my disturbed evening, I sat at my computer again and hoped the tinternet could help me. At the back of my mind I knew there was some kind of service that I could sign up for that was meant to stop me getting these calls, so I did a bit of googling and found the Telephone Preference Service. Signed up straightaway and... worked! After a few days the calls stopped. Instead of one or two per evening (not all from Sky, by any means), I've had one in the last three weeks, and that was only one of those automated recordings that you can hang up on without feeling bad. Peace once again.

At least one thing came out of the whole saga, and that was that I managed to write a post that brought people to my blog. Now, if only they'd start leaving comments, because it's good to talk ;-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I admit it, I'm hooked.

The Da Vinci code is positively, irrefutably, completely deliciously unputtadownable. The prose bumbles along happily, with dialogue so contrived that you'd think you'd want to scream at the pages, but you don't. You want to keep turning the pages, because the plot is so magestically intruiging that you know you won't be able to sleep for wondering. Every chapter ends leaving you wanting to know what's next.

Yesterday, a young librarian was reported missing having been last seen with a copy of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci code clutched to her chest. Police fear the book may have swallowed her, and hope she will be freed from its hollow belly in a couple of days.

Seriously, you're lucky I even got as far as the computer to compose this post. I can still see the book out of the corner of my eye...

Composing this post has forced upon me the realisation that the world is in need of a campaign to get unputtadownable in the Oxford English Dictionary. Well, any dictionary will do really, as long as it's a real one. You know, with pages. Commonly found in libraries and on my bookshelf.

Unputdownable may already be in the dictionary, but as I was writing the first paragraph above it was unputtadownable that tripped of the ends of my fingers and on to the screen without hesitation; unputdownable just feels contrived. Bland and rhythmless. Unputtadownable is as it should be, without a doubt. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as bouncebackability, but it's getting there.

All it needs is for people to start using it. What is a dictionary but a record of how language is used? If you use it, they will come... or something.

Use it. Please? Let's be rid of the boring unputdownable forever. I just can't cope knowing there are people out there using a five syllable word when six is so much better.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Da Vinci mode

So, I've finally sucumbed. Sitting at the foot of my bed, waiting expectantly for me to open its pages and be consumed by its brilliance, is my mother's charity shop bought copy of The Da Vinci code.

My expectations are that I will be gripped by the intricacies of mystery at once, yet at the same time be laughingly horrified by the factual inaccuracies and giddy with hilarity at the awkward, muddy prose. I imagine I will be left with the notion that, when it comes to creating a best seller, over the top plot is more important than literary skill.

I'm hoping my expectations are wrong. Except for the being gripped bit, because that's always good.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Skinny wrists

The worst thing in the world has happened. A tragedy so great that I'm still having trouble coming to terms with it. It's so terrible I'm not sure I believe it. What have I done to deserve this?

I've lost my white band.

One day it was there, decorating my wrist with its simple charm, spreading the message about ending global poverty and making me feel like a better person. The next day it was gone; my wrist was bare. It feels naked without it.

What is my wrist's purpose without its band? All it does is wear a watch and keep my hand attached to my arm. With its white band it had purpose. There's only one thing for it - I'll have to buy it another.

Do they do extra small sizes that won't fall off skinny arms like mine?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

You know you're a librarian when...

... you worry about punctuation
... you tell people to be quiet in bookshops
... you use acronyms more than you use real words
... you know what all the acronyms you use stand for
... people are amazed that you need two degrees to stamp books all day
... you read dictionaries for fun
... you know when you're breaking copyright law
... you've left your friends in the pub to go and look something up
... you can tell what someone is going to ask you by the look on their face
... 245 00 $a makes perfect sense
... you have dreams/nightmares about Dewey
... you know what the last digit of an isbn is for
... you pride yourself on not conforming to stereotypes
... you smiled at at least two of the above

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sod's law

Sometimes, things don't go right, and sometimes they don't go right in such a laughably ironic way that we pretend these events are governed by an imaginary law that we have no control over. This makes us feel better.

You've probably heard of Murphy's law. For anyone who hasn't, it's usually defined as the principle that anything that can go wrong will.

The most frequently cited example usually involves toast, but it works for bread of most descriptions. The law states that if you drop said toast on the floor, it will always fall butter side down, thus attracting a large covering of dust, colourful fluff, and cat hairs. Even if you don't have a cat.

Where I come from, we call it Sod's law. Who Sod is, I don't know, but he probably predated Murphy and then got quietly sidelined in most parts because people thought sod was a naughty word. SOD. Sod. Sod sod sod. Chunk of earth. Using a word that is often used as a swear word (see The best of British if you are of a non British English persuasion) is somehow appropriate, since the circumstances it prevails in often cause the protagonist to hurl a long stream of obscenities at the world in general.

Sod's law may be a fabrication, but in our imaginations it's real as a misplaced nail. It's also sadly misrepresented by the gentle anything that can go wrong will go wrong explanation.

It's not just that anything that can go wrong will. It's that the things that go wrong are the very things that you were hoping wouldn't. It's a cruel set of circumstances that seem so improbable as to cause exclamations of anguish and disbelief for weeks to come. It's that your toast landed butter side down when it was the last piece of edible food in the house and you were waiting until after you'd eaten it to clean the floor it landed on.

To give another example, it's not just that it rained today. It's that it rained today after three days of glorious sunshine. Three days of glorious sunshine that persuaded me to walk to work today without a coat. That's Sod's law.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Chronological investigation

Is it only Tuesday? There must have been some mistake. Someone moved a couple of days from last week and is making me do them all over again. I won't stand for it, I won't.

I swear, I already did Tuesday! Who's in charge here? Because I want to make a complaint. What do you mean, not your department? This is the Department that Decides Everything, isn't it?

Don't worry, I'm skilled in the art of chronological investigation. Me and google'll find out who's responsible. Even if it takes all day.

Any information with regards to the theft of days from previous weeks and their subsequent abandonment in the middle of this and following weeks will be treated in strictest confidence.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

My white band

Handsome, isn't it? Now visit traidcraft and buy yourself one. Get one for all your friends. Your dog. Next door's rabbit. The tree outside your window.

Unless you don't want to make a difference, then don't bother.


Growing vegetables

My gardening exploits have today ventured into previously unchartered territory: vegetables. Tomatoes, chill peppers and plain old ordinary peppers to be precise. Hmmm, aren't they technically all fruit?

I think we need a new definition here, and I'm going to coin it. If it's sweet, it's fruit. Strawberries yes, tomatoes no. Apples yes, cucumbers no. An aside: strawberries are the only fruit to have their seeds on the outside. I'm a mine of such gems, I swear.

As for my new plants, I think their chances of survival are quite good, all though time will tell. It seems to be house plants that I generally kill because I have to remember to water them. Having said that, with summer looming I imagine my outdoorsy veg will be needing a daily extra drop of the soft stuff too. They've received their dose by watering can today anyway, which is a good start. One day at a time.


Saturday, April 30, 2005


Despite the hugest white band in the world ever gracing my blog, I haven't actually mentioned the make poverty history campaign for a while. Nevertheless, it seems my support for the cause didn't go unnoticed, with whitebandblog giving me a mention. Apparently, I ought to be "immortalised in cyberspace." Oh, the glory. Which is of course so not what this is about.

As for me, I'm wearing my white band with pride these days ever since it arrived on the door mat in a beam of heavenly white light.

The plan was to post a photo of it adorning my wrist, but my digital camera has gone walkies with a friend. Soon, soon you will be able to see how magnificent the band looks. Which again is so not what this is about. Did I mention I got a silicon one? Gold dust, absolute gold dust.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Tagging libarians

Yesterday I discovered tags at Technorati. Now I'm obsessed.

Would it be overly soul-bearing of me to admit that my main motivation for writing this post is not the desire to enlighten, entertain or educate the world, but the need to satisfy a sudden and overwhelming craving for a new form of subject analysis and indexing? I'm a librarian, you know. Have I mentioned that before?

I spent half of last night thinking up and applying tags to days old posts, then clicking and testing and testing and clicking and comparing my posts with other posts on the same tag pages. I felt a wonderful sense of satisfaction as I sorted my posts into sensible and meaningful catagories in the knowledge that this will help people find posts that interest them. My mouth is already watering at the prospect of tagging this post.

This is the stuff that librarians are made of. If you too are religiously tagging your posts, then firstIy, congratulations. Secondly, if you aren't already engaged in the working world of information, I suggest you consider a career change. Seriously, I classify things every day and get paid for it.

I think it was Cliff in Cheers who once said that inside every mailman there's a librarian waiting to get out. It seems that inside every tagger there's a bit of an information professional too. And in my case, vice versa.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

What I didn't

Inspired part by 10 things I did today and part by my the what might have been track of my imagination, here's my list of ten things I didn't do today. Trust me, it's far more interesting that what I did do.

I didn't:

1. Get up at dawn and go for a brisk stroll in the fresh spring air
2. Hop, or stand on one leg in any manner
3. Get a paper cut from an overly aggressive book
4. Need to use my umbrella
5. Spend any money
6. Laugh out loud in inappropriate circumstances
7. Expend any physical effort other than was absolutely necessary
8. Learn how to fly
9. Write a letter
10. Bring people's of all nations together in peace and harmony


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

First time voters

Over the past few days the British media have been deluging us with stories of small children who have received polling cards for the general election. To the gleeful parents of said children, I have a few things to say.

To receive a polling card, a person must be on the electoral register. If your baby has received a polling card, then they have clearly been registered to vote as though they were adults.

There are only two ways I can see this happening. The most obvious explanation is that you were unable to follow simple instructions when filling in the registration form that came through your door, and are now basking in inadvertant glory without a hint of shame at your incapability.

The more cynical explanation is that you knew exactly what you were doing when you filled in that form with your baby's name, and were already thinking which newspapers you could contact when the inevitable polling card dropped through the letterbox.

Either way, I must thank you for pointing out yet another flaw in our electoral system. Of course, no baby, no matter how cute and dribbly, is going to be able to turn up at the polling station with their card clutched in a tiny tight fist and be allowed to vote. But if one year old people can be registered to vote, what's to stop imaginary people being registered? Some unscrupulous person could get three cards in three different names and go along three times. You'd hope someone might notice the same face showing up more than once, but you wouldn't put money on it.

Don't even get me started on postal voting, which seems to me to be about as secure as sending off for a free sample...Try democracy for one election, and if you don't get the desired results, next time you can sell your vote to your neighbour!


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Little things

As I was wandering around Oxford in my lunch hour, stretching my bony legs and dodging the raindrops, two things made me smile. They were little things, so little that on other days I may not even have noticed them, but today was clearly a day for finding amusement in everything.

First, I walked past a middle aged couple who were standing in the street huddled under an umbrella, straining their heads inwards to keep dry. The woman had a mobile phone pressed to her ear, her eyes squinting in that way they involuntarily do when you're caught in a downpour.

What crucial conversation could have caused these people to stand in the rain and focus intently on the words emanating from their phone, while others hurried by into shops and warmth? As the cascading precipitation bounced around them, I heard the woman say, "If you need kitchen towel it's in the cleaning closet."

Then, a few moments later, I ran into my favourite book shop (I'm a librarian, you know) and discovered another source of mild amusement. On a display table by the door, the Labour and Conservative party manifestos sat happily next to a small book titled On bullshit. I applaud you, Blackwells, because that was surely deliberate.

Sometimes, its the small things that make your day. Which is good, because the big things don't some along that often.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Let's communicate

The way we communicate has changed so much in such a very short time. Here I am blogging, tapping out my thoughts for the whole world (all two of you) to see, while simultaneously trying to communicate with my sibling via picture message. Ninety per cent of my communication at work takes place via email.

Fifteen years ago I'd never heard of the internet and my Dad was the envy of many with a mobile phone the size of several bricks. Try sticking that in your handbag. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Five years ago blogging was the domain of technogeeks, internet chatting was decidedly esoteric and there were more people in Britain than mobile phones.

The question is, is all this communication doing us any good? We seem to communicate more these days, but are we communicating better? Are we losing quality for the sake of quantity?

To be honest, I can't tell you. The rapid rise of modern communication technologies has happened parallel to my rise from child to teenager to student to fully fledged working librarian, all stages of life that probably would have been marked by different levels and modes of communication whatever the technology available. There's no way of knowing what my social interaction would be like now without my mobile phone and internet connection, because when I didn't have those things I was a different person with different desires and needs.

I know that I wouldn't be sitting here in my magnolia room writing words that millions (cough, cough) of people all around the world will be able to see within seconds of me writing them if it wasn't for the rapid changes that have taken place in the way we speak to each other. But if the technology wasn't there, would I want to? I have become who I am alongside this technology, and maybe the technology is shaping us as much as we are shaping it.


Thursday, April 21, 2005


I'm a patient person. I like to think I can remain calm, focused and objective when everyone around me is getting chickenheady and throwing things. I don't like to get angry. My mind is an oasis of calm.

Calm, however, is gradually giving way to more negative emotions. To be frank, I don't think my serene manner can last much longer. This librarian's everlasting patience is now being tested on a regular basis by the incessant ringing of my chirpy telephone. Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring.

You might think I'd be happy to have so many people wanting to talk to me. If their sole objective wasn't to sell me something, I would be. However, considering I don't get many real calls on my landline at all, a call once a night from some rival telecom company's chirpiest/miserablist (miserablist? I think I invented a word!) employee reading overenthusiastically/with no enthusiasm at all from a script that means they always have a smart reply to the word No is getting a little ridiculous.

To be honest, I've given up answering the phone. I don't want to waste one more minute of my life saying I'm really not interested, thank you.

What has infuriated me enough to write this post is that the number 08700130624 has phoned me three times tonight. An internet search reveals that this is indeed the devil's number. That's 08700130624. 0870 0130624. If it rings me again I swear I'll... moan a lot. Arrgggh.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Run, little seeds

My sweet peas are dying.

This is not an unusual occurance, as my previous posts may have indicated. I thought by planting them out in the garden I was saving them from myself, but alas, they are now no more than barely green, slightly shrivelled shadows of their former selves. I am also now the proud owner of two dead venus flytraps, which was probably a situation predetermined as soon as I got them to the till in B & Q. Ficus is doing good though, as are the other sweet peas that live in my window box.

Still, my lack of green fingers is painfully apparent. The packet of sunflower seeds that has yet to be opened shudders as I type, as the clever seeds realise what awaits them and try to escape. Run, little seeds, run!

Maybe I should just eat them and be done with the killing.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Building cities

I'm building a city, a green city, a happy paradise of well cared for people. If only it weren't so bland, regimented and ultimately souless. Thank the world that real life isn't like Sim City 4.


Monday, April 18, 2005

Who should you vote for?

I never intended this blog to be political, and I still don't.

But that doesn't mean I can't mention politics. If you live in the UK, you may have noticed that there's a general election coming up, and that's worth a mention. It's not like this happens every day. If you don't know who to vote for, or even if you think you do, give a try. You get to say how you feel about different policies, and the results give each party a ranking based on how well they fit your opinions. It may suprise you. Right now I'm trying to solve the terrifying mystery of why the United Kingdom Independence Party aren't right at the bottom of my list. Here's my result:

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -14     
Conservative -41     
     Liberal Democrat 78
UK Independence Party -7     
     Green 33

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

White band rejoicing

Best news in the world ever - it looks like my silicon white wrist band might finally be on the way! Yes, that's where I've been for the past ten days, wading through cyberspace trying to find a place that hadn't sold out and didn't crash when I tried to order it... The soul-saving place that took pity on me finally was Traidcraft. Email confirmation has arrived and everything! I'm so excited it's sad. Cleary these things are like goldust, so look busy, get over there and order one while you still can. Show the world you care, like it seems so many people are already. We're great, aren't we?


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Buying bands

My blog has a white band, but I don't. I've been holding out for a silicon one, and they seem to have been sold out for ever. Until yesterday, when I found them finally in stock on the net... only to see the payment system crash and my order fail to complete.

Methinks I'm relying on the internet too much. I bet they have them in Oxfam.

Or maybe I should stop being so fashion conscious (did I just say that about myself?), tie a white rag round my wrist and be done with it. Of course, it doesn't have to be on my wrist - how about a bandana? I could walk around with Make Poverty History emblazoned across my forehead. That'd make people take notice.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What do I know?

Blogger not working!

Well, it is now, but it wasn't for long enough to drain me of my inspiration, which was an assortment of whimsical thoughts about consciousness and cognition thrown into my head by a book I came across today. I'm a librarian, you know. Lets just say who knows what I don't know.

What I know I do know is that all of my plants survived my ten day absence... so watch them die now I'm back.

Well, when I say all, I mean all except the one that was practically already dead, so it was really a non-plant when I left it. And now even less of one. Just a black tangle of rotting flesh, really.

I know it's dead, because I've seen dead plants before, and even though I've never seen a dead venus flytrap before, the experience is suffiently similar for me to know it's dead. What is it like to see a dead plant for the first time? Did I always know that plants could die? These are the questions we must ponder... these and the more important ones like Where did put that chocolate?