April 2007


by Suw on April 30, 2007

I had absolutely nothing to do with this at all, and am not responsible for the irretrievable loss of eight precious minutes of your life, should you choose to watch it.

Instead, blame someone else.


Bluebells in the Chilterns

by Suw on April 29, 2007

Kevin and I went walking in the Chilterns today with our friends Fiona, Phil and Karina. The bluebells are providing a magnificent display at the moment, and the bluebell woods are quite the most beautiful I've ever seen.
Bluebells in the Chilterns
It was just blue as far as you could see, and the fragrance was fabulous.
Bluebells in the Chilterns
We only did a short walk, which was probably for the best as I slightly overdid it yesterday at the gym, and my shoulders were (and still are) killing me. But we rounded off our walk with a lovely meal at a pub called The Frog, which more than made up for the aches.


Gym progress

by Suw on April 28, 2007

Just a short post today, because it's Saturday, and I'm knackered, and Kev and I are about to curl up with each other and in the Company of Wolves. The film, that is, not the large furry canine. Frankly, if we were going to curl up with anything furry, it would be a small, cute feline or two, but that's by the by.
We did manage to get the gym today, and I did more exercise than usual. Five minutes more on the treadmill, the full 15 minutes on the bike even though it makes my legs feel like they are about to drop off, and an addition set of 15 repetitions on all of the machines.
I am now, officially, shagged out.
Still, I'm enjoying myself – it's nice to just let my brain freewheel for a while. I had thought that I would take my iPod and listen to music and podcasts and the fabulous This American Life, but I think I prefer having some downtime for my brain. Kev says that the effects of this exercise are already showing, but I'm not sure I believe him. (He's just read this over my shoulder and said “Silly girl”, so I presume that means he really can tell.)
Either way, I think it's better to be doing this because I enjoy it, rather than as some sort of purgatory to endure in the hope that there'll be rewards at the end of it, as I'm really not good at doing things that I have to do if I don't enjoy doing them. I'm hoping to see the effects in a couple of months time, but in the meantime, I'll take Kev's word for it.
Right, time for the film.


This blogging lark

by Suw on April 26, 2007

I have successfully managed to blog at least once, sometimes more than once, a day for the last seven days, as per my promise to myself. In fact, this post complete the septet. It has been fun – it's reminded me of why I started this blogging lark in the first place. Indeed, I'd say that I've enjoyed it so much that I vow now to blog every day for the next month. How's that for ambition?
What I'm less chuffed about… positive dischuffed about, as it happens… is the fact that this morning's plan to go to the gym was entirely scuppered by my awakening at some point in the middle of the night with awful stomach and back pain. I have no idea what it was, but although it was gone by morning, I lost a couple of hours sleep and just couldn't haul myself out of bed in time. Kevin had a bad night too, so we decided to skip the gym.
Turned out that was a good thing, because Kev's working on a paper for Xtech at the moment, and I'd spent a couple of hours yesterday editing it for him in Google Docs. Sadly, Google Docs has a bit of a crappy UI, and when he checked my revision it only showed him the last sentence I had typed so he thought I hadn't made many changes. When he gave me a print out of his 'new' version, I found that all my edits were missing, so I had to sit with the printout and do it the old fashioned way – with a red pen – before he left for work.
That made me late for coffee with Matt Biddulph, a situation exacerbated by my mobile phone deciding to no longer sync with my Mac. Apple have, at last, enabled native support for the Nokia E61, and have thus automatically disabled the eSeries plugin that used to make iSync work. What they didn't figure in to this was how people who were using the plugin would then sync with their Mac, given that iSync now wants to duplicate my entire calendar and address book because it doesn't recognise that the calendar on my phone is still the same as the one on my Mac. Feh. Stupid developers.
Then I spilt toothpaste down my front.
And at some point during the day I spilt something brown and unidentified onto my microfleece.
But other than that, it's been a great day. I have been working on a white paper I'm writing about citizen journalism and curation which is at that final spit and polish stage. I'm hoping to have it done by Monday, which just happens to also be my deadline.
I've spent a lot of time writing this week: blog posts, this white paper, other bits and pieces that may see the light of day sometime next spring. I have even had an idea for something else that I want to write very soon, even if I don't get round to starting it tonight. All this writing has felt good. True, I've pretty much ignored email and I'm sure there are people out there who think that I'm the most difficult person to get a hold of these days, but by George (any George you like) I've enjoyed it.
I need to write more. It makes me happy.



by Suw on April 25, 2007

Bit by bit, I'm getting on top of my wedding plans. We've got the venue confirmed and have paid the deposit. (Actually, we did that ages ago but I never quiet got round to blogging it.) We got the gorgeous Canford School on a Saturday in February, which was possibly the biggest stroke of luck we've ever had – someone else dropped out just as we were booking. Otherwise, if we'd wanted a Saturday we'd have had to wait til December 08, which would have been a bit long, really.
We've pretty much decided to do our legal obligations to the state on the Friday and then have whatever kind of a ceremony we want on the Saturday. We're still really hoping that Kevin's cousin can officiate. He's a Lutheran minister and it's always been Kevin's wish that he be involved, and I'm really happy with that – it's just a matter of whether he can come over to the UK on a weekend during Lent. Still waiting to hear about that. If not, then we'll have to contact the Humanists.
I have also solved the issue of what sort of cake I want, although not yet who will make it. Traditional wedding cakes are just so boring – great big blobs of marzipan and icing that entice me not. Instead, I'll be having… go on, guess… yup, chocolate! But I'll have it covered in gold leaf to spruce it up a bit.
But most excitingly, I think I might have found a solution to the Dress Problem. I went trying on dresses with Kate over Easter, and it wasn't the best experience. I tried on about eight dresses in two shops, and the assistants were friendly enough, but nothing really inspired me. None of the dresses were really what I wanted and some of the whiter ones even made me look dead. Really, certain shades of white make my skin look blue. However, I think I may have found someone to make my dress for me, but I'll know for sure in a couple of weeks when I've met her and talked about what I want. I'll blog in full then.
Still need to find a medieval band for the evening's entertainment, though, which is going to be my next big task. Already have some websites to look at, but if anyone has recommendations, let me know!


On my radio

by Suw on April 24, 2007

The weird thing about yesterday – other than the fact that I went to the gym and wrote three blog posts – was that I didn't turn the radio on all day. Usually I have XFM on from the moment Kevin leaves for work til the moment he comes home. Last year I struggled with listening via the internet, but when they “upgraded” their audio stream they made it PC-only, which sort of screwed me really, being a Mac girl. But Kevin bought me a DAB digital radio for Christmas which I have on pretty much all day every day.
Except yesterday.
Yesterday, I had a couple of phone calls, then spent a couple of hours watching Neil Gaiman on Fora.tv, and then settled into a quiet, radio-free day. The strange thing wasn't that I didn't miss the DJs' chitchat or the music, but that I had absolutely no idea what time it was. Even though I looked at the clock and the clock told me what time it was, because I didn't experience the DJs' shifts changing throughout the day, I had no sense that time had progressed at all. When the clock showed 4:30 pm it still felt like morning, even though I had eaten lunch, because I hadn't heard the X-List at 1.00 and didn't catch the lunchtime news*.
XFM recently changed their schedule, and I'm a bit ambivalent about the new line-up. Claire Sturgess I like a lot, and I look forward Ian Camfield each day, but to be honest the new DJs just sort of leave me cold. I don't just listen to XFM because I like their playlist, but because I find the DJs to be entertaining… if the DJs stop being entertaining, I may as well just listen to iTunes, Pandora, Last.fm or SomaFM Secret Agent.
But the one thing XFM will always have over time-shifted or DJ-free internet radio and podcasts is the ritual of it, the sense of schedule-as-timekeeper, ringing the hours and giving form to the day. Nothing can replace the beginning of XFM's Music Response at 7pm as my signifier that we're going to be eating late that night.
* XFM's news is pretty unchallenging, really, but it does give me at least an idea of what's going on in the world.

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Excuse me? Where are my endorphins?

by Suw on April 23, 2007

Yesterday, as per Saturday's post, Kevin and I went to our gym induction sessions at the local leisure centre, where the lovely Frances introduced us to the machinery.
Now, I've never been to a gym before. I used to go to Tai Chi twice a week and, for a while back in the mid 90s, I had thighs like rocks and could fell a man twice my size with a mere nudge to his kneecap. It's all been downhill since then. Add that lack of fitness to my rabid neophobia and my rampant fear of social humiliation, and you have a fabulous opportunity for me to run away and hide behind the sofa. (Dr Who used to have roughly the same effect.)
But with Kevin there to hold my hand, and Frances being really friendly and nice, and the gym being relatively quiet, I actually managed to get through my induction without any moments of hideous embarrassment.
So this is my regime. (Please forgive the lack of technical language.)
1. 10 minutes on the treadmill at an incline of 1.5, speed of 6.0. (I have no idea what units these are measured in, but I think that kilometres might have something to do with it.)
2. 15 minutes on the recumbent bike, level 3, 60 rpm.
3. 2 x 15 reps on the arm pully inny thingie.
4. 2 x 15 reps on the thighy squeezy thingie.
5. 2 x 15 reps on the thighy anti-squeezy pushy thingie.
6. 2 x 15 reps on the leggy pushy thingie.
The last four all have weights attached, but I can't remember what they are for each one, but at least for the leggy pushy thingie, it's the lowest it can be. It's all written down in a booklet that you leave that the gym, so I'll have to check it the next time I'm there.
After Frances showed me everything and I'd done half the amount of exercise that I am scheduled to do in a work out, she showed me some stretches and asked if I wanted to stay to do a full workout. Not on your nellie. My legs were already wobbly and I only did half of what I was supposed to!
This morning, though, Kev and I were up at the crack of dawn and were down the gym, raring to go by 8.30am.
That might possibly be an exaggeration for at least one of us. We were down the gym at 8.30am, but 'raring' wasn't entirely my condition. I did everything I was supposed to do, except that I knocked 5 mins off the bike because I was a bit worried about us getting home in time for Kev to get to work. I wasn't in too much pain afterwards, which was a relief, but we have at least 24 hours before the muscle shock kicks in. I may not be quite so relieved tomorrow.
I have been told that doing a good vigourous workout regularly, including cardiovascular exercise, will not only make me slim and lithe and sylph-like again, but will also give me more energy and make me feel better. This is what I've been told.
I haven't seen any evidence of it yet. I noticed elevated heart rate, although that's hardly difficult to achieve given that my usual exercise regime is moving from bed to couch to fridge to couch to corner shop for ice cream to couch… I also noticed wobbly legs, wherein one suddenly starts channelling Bambi at birth. And I noticed a loss from my bank account of about 30 quid each month.
But I was promised endorphins, dammit! Where are they? I was promised more energy! I was promised feelings of wellbeing! These things have been dangled in front of me like the gilded carrot of anticipation! Yet where are they? Dammit, who stole my endorphins and when do I get them back?
Fine. I'll just go and eat some chocolate instead. See if I care.


Divide and conquer

by Suw on April 23, 2007

We obviously need more chickens patrolling the streets. (Thanks Mooc!)

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Neil Gaiman at Cody's

by Suw on April 23, 2007

In that sad and slightly pathetic way that self-employed people deal with such things, I'm attempting to have a few days off this week. It's not a holiday as such – I'm not going anywhere, I'm not escaping my laptop, and I'm not slumped on the sofa watching the TV. (Mainly because our sofa is not good for slumping on, having been made by someone who believed that people should Sit Up Straight at all times, but also because our TV is a small box that one plugs into the computer in order to provide us with endless hours of joy adjusting the exact positioning of our small internal aerial which – as with all small internal aerials – is never quite in exactly the right place.)
My friend Steve has kindly offered to break all my fingers if I do any work this week, but I have a day of proper work on Friday, and in the meantime I have odds and sods that I need to do or else people will be unhappy with me. I'd like to ignore email if I could, although some might argue that my new method for dealing with it (put all mail in a folder marked 'Pending' until I have time to look at it) is exactly the same as ignoring it, but I am scanning the inbox for urgent missives that demand my attention or, at least, make me feel guilty for not replying sooner to some previous plea for assistance.
In lieu of actually having a proper holiday that involves beaches, warm sun and mojitos served to me by a nicely tanned cabana boy, I am doing the next best thing. I'm sitting slightly stiffly on my landlady's choice of slightly-too-short couch and watching Neil Gaiman do a reading and answer questions at Cody's last year.
I embed the player here for your delectation. If you have a couple of hours to spare, watch it. Neil is really very, very good at doing readings and answering questions. In fact, I wonder sometimes why he doesn't do stand-up comedy, because he's very funny.

Primarily, though, I embed the video here so that I can come back to it tomorrow and try to finish it off. It conks out for me at around the 01:19:10 mark, and even if I can manually move the playback head forward a minute or two, it just conks out again after playing me a tantalising snippet. I'm not sure whether it's just that Neil's east coast fans have all woken up and, seeing the post he posted at 9.33pm last night have decided to join me in attempting to watch Neil at Cody's, thus causing Fora.tv to conk out. Or maybe it's just that it conks out at 01:19:10, or thereabouts, for some unexplained technical reason. I guess I'll have to wait til I wake tomorrow morning, when our friends across the water are asleep, to find out.
UPDATE: Still can't get the last section to play smoothly, so have instead downloaded it. If you want to do the same, go to the Fora.tv site, launch the player, and look for the 'download' link in the top right-hand corner.
And whilst I'm doing the fan thing, I bought Fragile Things yesterday, finally. Feh, some fan I am… Anyway, I'm going to read it to Kevin just as soon as we finish Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising pentology, which I have loved for the best part of my adult life, and which Kevin now also adores. I don't think Kev's ever read any of Neil's work, though, so it'll be fun to start off with a book neither of us are familiar with. Don't tell him, but I'm hoping to convert Kev into a fan, so that maybe he'll stop rolling his eyes every time I mention Neil.
Which reminds me, I have Neil's keyboard, signed and dated (1986 – 1989) and complete with coffee stains and other markings of dubious provenance sitting just in front of me. I must a) take lots of photographs of it and b) arrange a time to give it to the most fabulous Mr Ben Goldacre, who won it in the ORG raffle, so he can finish his own book off on it.

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And the great thing about blogs is…

by Suw on April 22, 2007

That whilst I am suffering once again from wisdom tooth ache and a cold – simultaneously… oh the delight – I can tell you precisely how long it's been since my last cold and last bout of toothache. Because I blogged them.
The last cold started as this one did with a sore throat and then developed into a snotfest. Just like now. It happened in June 2005, whilst I was in California for the first time.
My tooth last gave me real proper gyp in June 2006, when it got so bad that I ended up going to the dentist and secretly hoping he'd take the damn thing out. A few months later, I was due to go off travelling when the infection flared up again, so my dentist gave me some antibiotics to carry in case, but made me promise not to take them unless things got really really bad. They are still sitting on the shelf – even though my tooth's been dreadfully unhappy, I haven't felt that it's been so bad that I needed to take the antibiotics.
I'm bored of this cold now though. I've had it nearly a week, and it's just no fun.
PS… When I said that I was going to blog every day, you didn't expect me to blog about interesting things, did you?


And the great thing about living here is…

April 21, 2007

When I found the flat that Kevin and I currently call home, I remember thinking how well positioned it was. Waitrose only 5 mins away. Holloway Road just 10 mins away. And a gym literally on the corner, just a short walk away. We moved in and promised each other that we'd join up to [...]

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A week of daily blogging

April 20, 2007

You might have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. The last six months or so have been really busy and time seems to have slipped away. It's not that I haven't had anything to blog about, but somehow other things always seemed to be a bit more important. Just [...]

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Wedding inflation

April 19, 2007

I had an email yesterday from journalist Elaine Pearson asking: I'm currently putting together a piece for the family magazine Take a Break called The Great Wedding Rip-off about how some businesses seem to go in for a spot of wedding inflation. As soon as they hear the W word their prices go up. I [...]

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Fresh Lime Soda: The Video Episode

April 15, 2007

So whilst Steph was staying with Kevin and me last week, she and I decided to record an episode of our podcast, Fresh Lime Soda. Of course, being in the same physical location allowed us to do something we can't normally do – mess about with Photobooth, and use iMovie to record a video podcast. [...]

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Mmmm, stationery!

April 15, 2007

It's amazing how much of the stuff that needs to be organised for this wedding hinges on one thing – the dress. Whilst I still haven't entirely solved the dress problem yet, the shape and form of that problem is resolving in my mind, along with little fragments of the answer. I now know, for [...]

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