Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of year song



 'Times they are a-changing' - Bob Dylan

Friday, December 27, 2013

Today's song




"It's a Beautiful Day" - Michael Bublé

Friday, December 20, 2013

Scooby Does

Buttercup Scout: Would you like to buy some cookies? 
Man in Suit: Have you heard the good news?
Scooby-Doo: Yeah. There's cookies.


   


 Off-topic, song of the day: Train - 'Drive-by'

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How inviting

I'm a curmudgeon at times. I get invited to things and instead of being grateful and excited, I think "Oh do I have to?"

Like Grandpa in 'Lost Boys':

Grandpa: Max! Are we going to have company again?
Lucy Emerson: Again? Dad you haven't had company in this house since Mom died eight years ago.
Grandpa: Right! Now we are going to have company again!

It's not that I don't like people or socialising, but I suppose I am a classic introvert. I'm like it about every invitation, every party, every event, every dinner or meet-up, however much I like the people. I tell myself "you'll enjoy it when you get there" and "you'll regret it if you miss out". While the first proves true at least 90% of the time, the latter isn't necessarily true at all. I can happily 'miss out' if I have a good book.

I've always been this way. My oldest friend recalls me spending her birthday party as a kid, in a corner reading a Snoopy annual.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Today's song



Faith No More - "A Small Victory"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bookish



Got the missing book from the series and argh, it doesn't match! The ones at the far end that don't match aren't so bad.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Half bear half lion



The courage of women dating men according to Louis C K.

H/tip to Pharyngula.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Monday, December 09, 2013

The vase of our relationship

I think that when some of the fundamentals in our marriage were broken, we fixed things back together, until the vase is actually stronger than it was when we started.

But it's never going to have the lustre and bell-like tone of the original. It's lined with wire mesh and filled with glue. It's solid and something we built together. But criss-crossed with the scars.

Grimness overheard

"It's a fucking [n-word] in an audi - must be a fucking robber."

I gave them a dagger of a look, but don't know if they noticed, the two racist little shitheads as they walked past laughing at their own [I presume they thought it] wit.

I don't really know how these people exist. They do not compute.

It depresses me when they were younger than me as well :(.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Lessons I was taught

These are the lessons that men taught me, personally or through my friends, when I was a young woman.


  • That being shy is an invitation to be sexually bullied in class.
  • That walking home in school uniform is an opening to shriek sexual words from cars.
  • That saying no nicely means he keeps trying.
  • That saying no bluntly is a cause for name-calling and spite.
  • That silence is consent.
  • That fucking him willingly lessens me and makes me an object of his ridicule and disgust.
  • That not fucking him makes me a tease. And being a tease deserves to be taught a lesson.
  • That accepting a drink means I owe him my time and likely a fuck.
  • That not accepting a drink means I'm a stuck-up bitch.
  • That trying to go home without him after flirting is reason to be pushed against a signpost and punched to the ground.
  • That flirting is an invitation to climb through the window later and sexually assault me while I sleep.
  • That breaking up with him for 'no reason' (because I wasn't happy) means I need to keep explaining. And keep explaining. And keep explaining.
  • That cheating on him justifies him breaking down my door and terrorising me.
These are just some of the lessons I was taught before I was 25. 

It's not the whole of my experience by any means, and I've treated some men badly, I admit freely - but when I see people complaining about Schroedinger's rapist, enthusiastic consent and other related feminist thought, I think of these things.


Off-topic: Song of the day - "La la la" by Naughty Boy

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dance for me puppet

Sometimes a person is genuinely sympathetic and you can feel that. Feel warmed by it and feel supported.

Sometimes it just doesn't ring true and you get the feeling the person is longing for you to perform your emotions for them. It's not something you can pull them on, cos they're being so nicey-nice - but it's not real, it's all fake and you can sense them kind of enjoying themselves at your expense. And better yet when they can slip in an oh-so innocent barb of any kind.

But here in my safe space, let me perform an emotion for you (the person I am thinking of) - fuck you, you schadenfreude idiot! Fuck your creepy faux-maternal manner and your snide 'sympathy'.

Ahh.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Songs of the day



The Kooks "Naive"


Gotye "Somebody that I used to know"

Friday, November 29, 2013

"What did you expect?"

I love this post at Skepchick.

The whole point is, to expect and insist on more. Not to accept the status quo, but to ask why not better?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fuzzball



I cried for hours until I worked up a massive headache, cried until sleep won out, then lucky me, woke with insomnia at 3am to cry more. My eyelids are puffy like a boxer's after a losing fight, and I feel sick and sad and I still have more tears.

He is gone, no more will he be waiting for me on the fence post, for a stroke and then to bound ahead of me, leading me down the path to home.

I loved that cat, loved him more than I should.

The thing about loving your pets is that you can lavish affection on them, and it's not complicated - it's straightforward and reciprocal as far as they are able. They're not playing games, or afraid to show their feelings, or trying to humour or trick you. No subterfuge, no malice.

In Curzie's eyes, I think I was an idiot human, but I was his idiot human.

And now he is dead, and he will bring me joy no longer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hmm

It isn't really a good sign when you wake up feeling a bit ill and you feel happy and hopeful that you might be becoming sick enough to stay home from work.

 

 Off-topic: the song in my head this morning. Fratellis "Whistle for the choir".

Monday, November 25, 2013

The chill

I am still with a chill of heart
I want to shrivel
withdraw into the warmth of numbness
into the calm of absence.

Don't bring me back to you
where I need to think and move and care.

I want to eat, to crunch, to taste,
to feel that comforting filling
soft, sweetness and texture
But I mustn't. And I don't.

I wish I could sink inside
somewhere out of sight.
Here I am with voices
and motion all around
and it shreds me thin.

I sit dulled and static
I long for sleep and silence,
the dissolve of self.

I will be better when
I force myself up
and get started
I know I will. I always am.

So go on then.
So GO ON then.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Helpful net

Sometimes I wonder why people bring their problems to the internet and think they are foolish for doing so. But actually I have found it useful myself.

For quite a while, a male colleague had been gradually pushing my personal boundaries by touching me and saying flirty things. None of it was hugely awful but it was getting worse and it was distressing me daily. Telling my partner was a good way to vent but didn't motivate me to confront the problem.

It was only when I moaned online to friends that I came to the point of addressing the situation, because I didn't want to be the person who complains but does nothing. I got validation and advice, and I knew I had to act on it. I took my courage in my hands and told him to stop. And he has. No more unwanted surprise neck-rubs.

Sigh. If only I had realised it was that simple to stop him.

Not that he should have been doing those things in the first place.

Write!

This is the first post I have ever written using my mobile. Am I a luddite, I wonder?

I want to write more. It is something I find rewarding. Also I told some friends about it in a moment of honesty and so I have reawakened my interest in it.

I re-read almost the whole blog, all seven years of it over the past couple of days and I feel that happy about it. It has some really interesting (to me) memory promptings and it is very much mine. My audience has always been primarily me.

(I hate my phone's interface. I had to come back to edit this on my laptop.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grit

I come from a line of strong women. Domineering women. Admirable women. Flinty women.

My gran was one such. She was formidable, a typical Yorkshire horsewoman, hard as nails and stonily judgemental. (She had some flaws too!)

She combined this outspoken harshness with an oddly passive-aggressive treatment of us, her family, and an aching sweetness rarely glimpsed. My mum is like her sometimes - but deathly afraid of that side of her character.

Me too. Me too. That fear at least helps control it.

But what she had was grit. She was the kind of woman who would break her ribs hunting, but finish the day out nonetheless. I'm not getting into the ethics of fox-hunting, but believe me, she would have, and would never concede an inch on that (or anything).

Horses were her passion: she bred them and rode all her life. When she was 70 and could no longer ride, we bought her an exercise cart and she learnt to drive (she had driven cart-horses in her youth, but this was show-driving). Foolishly we had expected her just to potter with the pony, but she was soon competing locally.

She taught her daughters and grand-children to ride and to have grit.

I was taught that you never ever let go of the reins if you fall from your horse, no matter what. The only time I can remember her being truly proud of me was after I was dragged halfway up a gritted road, my pony having shied at a plastic bag. I should have been paying more attention obviously, but by god, I had grit. Literally. Embedded from knee to thigh.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mike's stone-walling

So he should open up and talk to someone.

(A sign of a local builder)


Thursday, September 05, 2013

A-chow

The dog sneezed, so I said "Bless you."

Daughter said "Why did you say that to the dog?!"

So I said "Gesundheit."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moment of reality

I listen to Pirate FM in the car. Their 'news' segments generally close with a sleb puff-piece masquerading as news.

One day this headline consisted of the information that Helen Flanagan has been told to reduce her tooth-brushing. At the end, the female radio presenter had a moment of clarity and ejaculated "Is this news?!" before they continued the show.

No, no, it's not.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Laughter in inappropriate places

I was in a carpark, when I laughed aloud (I would say it was at an audio book I was listening to on my headphones, to seem less mad, but in truth - and I may as well be honest here on my very own blog as not - I was just laughing at a memory).

To my shock (not having realised anyone was around) a drunk guy on the other side of the wall shouted "What you laughing at?!" I froze, really worried. He continued angrily, "Come back here!"

I stayed still and was relieved to hear another man shout back something incomprehensible. He was wise enough to keep going rather than return as instructed. The drunk kept shouting for the other bloke to "come back here", and I stayed out of sight until they'd both departed.

Phew.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Female Eunuch

I have just finished listening to Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch. It's kind of shocking really that I'd never read it, but there you jolly well go. She read it herself for the audio book, and was pretty expressive.

It was interesting to see how much still seems relevant, given it was first published in 1970. I need to think on it some more, but I'm just pleased with myself for having got around to it so I thought I'd post about it.




January

Green Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
The Changeling / AE van Vogt - re-read
Rage / Stephen King (Richard Bachmann) - re-read

February

Black Sheep / Georgette Heyer

March

The Fry Chronicles / Stephen Fry - audio book
The Liar / Stephen Fry - re-read

April

Mistakes were Made (but not by Me) / Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson - audio book
Daggerspell / Katherine Kerr - re-read
Missing Pieces / Joy Fielding - re-read
The Ancestor's Tale / Richard Dawkins

May

Why be happy when you could be normal? / Jeannette Winterson - audio book
Driver / Taiye Selasi - short story on audio
The Family Portrait / Jon Ronson - 4 short stories on audio

June

Dreams from My Father / Barack Obama - audio book
Sleepyhead / Mark Billingham
The Female Eunuch / Germaine Greer - audio book

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Wait, what?

I came across someone complaining that atheists are constantly trying to dissuade her from her faith and another poster replied "As a Christian, I get this all the time. I don't push my beliefs on anyone beyond asking if they were interested and felt they needed it they were welcome to attend my church."

I'm not sure if this reply was serious or a pisstake. Either way, tee and indeed hee.


Don't get me wrong, this isn't like full-on thrusting a Bible into your hand and extorting you to save your soul before it's too late - but it is opening a door to a particular kind of conversation. Perhaps all the response the person wants is a 'no thank you' if it is a negative. But you don't always get your preferred response, cos people aren't psychic robots out to please you. OK, an over-zealous atheist leaping forth with 'en garde' and 'let us duel to the death with our well-trodden arguments that we've both probably heard before' may well not be what you want, but you can't in good faith say you didn't start it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cruel & unusual punishment for being in a tragic situation

So this is what anti-abortion laws look like.

A young woman in El Salvador, married with a toddler, is apparently seriously ill. She has lupus and a kidney malfunction, exacerbated by the fact she is pregnant... with a non-viable foetus. Several scans have shown conclusively that the foetus is anencephalic. The chances are high that she won't survive giving birth, and the child will inevitably die shortly after birth.

This is so 'pro'-life. Potentially kill a woman, widow her husband & leave a child motherless for the sake of what exactly?

#throws up#


Updated: The El Salvador Health Minister has stepped in to allow a caesarian section.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mrs Mop

Mopping the kitchen, I come across a dark mark and up the strength of my moppage. For some minutes, I continue scrubbing away, wondering how it resists my patented dilution of bleach unfazed.

Only to realise it's the shadow of a biro hanging partly off the table.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Audio

I'm really enjoying audio books. I never expected I would get much from them, always having thought that I don't tend to remember/take in information by ear as effectively as by eye. But I've listened to three long books through my headphones now, and I'm finding it really good. None of it has been fiction so far: Stephen Fry's memoir The Fry Chronicles, Mistakes were Made (But not by me) an examination of cognitive dissonance and self-justification and Jeanette Winterson's autobiography Why be happy when you could be Normal? 

I'm not sure I'll enjoy fiction in this form - but then, I was wrong about not liking audio books in the first place, so probably I should give it a go. These books have really made a big difference to my happiness, giving me something else to think about when drudgery beckons.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sad Cat Diary

"Dear Diary, I have decided to plead with the authorities to rub my belly, I think it will do me good in my current condition. I would like to receive two rubs exactly - a third one and I will bite the shit out of them as per protocol. Wish me luck."

Friday, May 03, 2013

me no understandy

Just when I think I know what's what, and that we're on the same page; she texts me asking me to join her for a party.

Why?

I don't understand. I don't think she likes me, what is she doing it for?

Maybe it's truly quantity not quality of guests.

I feel bad, cos I know life is hard right now for her. But I don't feel me accepting her invitation will make her celebration go better, more likely I'll be a downer. Huh?

Electoral test

Voting yesterday in the local elections was depressing. There was a 'choice' of candidates, between LibDem, Tory, UKIP or independent. So: more of the same, more of the same, worse or pointless.

On the bright side, I like to think that if UKIP do get in that it could be because they're the only actual party party, so it could be just as a protest against the current incumbents? There's a lot of talk about UKIP supposedly representing issues that other parties don't ("are afraid") to deal with on the tv today, but I am hoping it's more kicking back against the assholes in charge.

But I fear that people are swallowing the xenophobic/anti-immigration bullshit we're being fed, instead of seeing* it's the powerful, rich & privileged in the finance world, playing with currency & property like gamblers, that screwed up the economies. Walking around the village lately has been depressing, with all the signs being UKIP or Conservative. On the way into town there was a huge UKIP sign, but someone evidently didn't approve and kicked it down once. It was put back up, but whoever knocked it down must have returned to write "NO!" in white paint over it. That cheered me up.



*Or perhaps they know but feel that's unchangeable?

Monday, April 22, 2013

What can I takeaway from this?

The other day someone was complaining that she had received a private message advising her to change some wording in a blog-post, because it is a racially-charged epithet. She came onto a message board to whinge about this, because she couldn't see the potential offensiveness and was convinced it is an ok word to use. That word is 'chinky' and she was using it in the context of going to get take-away.

This sort of thing has always confused me, in that I couldn't see why it is so bloody important to someone to cry 'political correctness gorn mad' and be reluctant about changing the language they use, in the face of potentially upsetting people for no reason. I mean, is it really so hard to say "we went to get Chinese food" or "we got takeaway" instead? Does it harm you or cost you in any real way to put someone else's feelings ahead of the way you habitually speak?

Reading (or rather listening to) Mistakes Were Made (But not by Me) recently has given me a bit more insight into this resistance, which has always seemed so ridiculous and inexplicable to me. I guess there is a cost involved: a cost of admitting you might be wrong or harming someone - and that doesn't fit with the way you view yourself. Assuming this blogger is not a proud out-and-out racist (and would never think of herself as such, but rather has been a fish in a sea of unquestioned white privilege) then being called on using a word that she has perhaps never connected up the dots to being a racist one, sends her into uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. There are two obvious routes out of this horrid feeling - deny it's a racist term and/or protest that the other person is over-sensitive - or admit fault & re-think the way she uses language.

The knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and defensive and go with the former, rather than do the latter. Thus: everyone in her town uses that word, even the owners of the take-away use it about their own shop, she's not a racist, she's been using that takeaway for thirty years and considers the owners friends. So how could it possibly be racist? It cannot be a racist word, because that would mean she's been (inadvertently) racist. And she's not a racist.

I'm inclined to doubt the level of 'friendship' there is between her and the owners - maybe she knows them to chat to in the shop or on the street, but does she really know them and socialise with them outside of buying takeaway? Maybe she does...

Even if the owners themselves are not upset by the word and use it themselves, it doesn't mean it's no longer racist. I mean think about it, would it be good for business or peaceful co-existence to call your customers on their (mostly unthinking, non-maliciously intended*) racism when the likelihood is it would simply arouse hostility? Could it be a case of picking your battles? Even if not, and the owners are genuinely unconcerned by the term and everybody in the town does think it's acceptable, outside of that social bubble, it can be used in a derogatory way - and, moreover, it can be avoided easily.

So change the wording: you're on a world stage when you're on the interwebz. Being wrong stings, but it seems to me fighting the rear-guard action of defensiveness and self-justification is harder work in the longer run.



* To be generous

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dog:


  • Ooh you've picked up the lead, very excited, very happy!
  • Oh do I have to wear the lead? Very sad.
  • Ooh, I'm off the lead! Yay, happy runnings.
  • It's another dog, it's another dog, yay yay!
  • Other dog is more boisterous than me? How can that even happen? Did you see him knock me over? That dog's no fun, I'm not playing anymore.
  • I like little dogs and old dogs and dogs that are still on leads. It's especially good when they get tangled up with their owners.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fading out redux

I'm all weight-lifted-off-shouldersy today.

You see, the friend of this blog-post has been going through a bad time lately, living it out on Facebook. I felt I should show support, so I have messaged her and texted her to demonstrate said support. But of course she invited me over and I felt all argh and meh, and that I couldn't very well say no in her hour of need.

The kind of support I want to offer is purely practical, such as helping her move or giving her packing boxes - or emotional to a limited degree, such as sending best wishes and kind thoughts. Damn these people who won't stay in their boxes and respect my unspoken limits! Haha.

Anyways, I ended up going over (and again, it was a gathering of people I didn't know, apart from her. She had told me it was likely to be just the two of us).

During the course of the evening, however, I twigged on that her original invitation text had been mistakenly sent to me!

Such blesséd relief. I don't need to feel guilty or obligated. It stung a little at the time, but this morning I just feel so bloody happy! Skippety-hoppity hurrah.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flamin' poo

I can't help but think the EDF 'flame' looks more like a big poo than anything else.


Politeness costs nothing (except my comfort)

I had a minor epiphany today. Very minor.

Everyday the canteen boss gives me a cup of coffee for free, which is very kind. It used to be regular-sized, but of late he has taken to giving me the large size. And in the time I have to drink it, I really struggle to consume the whole thing, and doing so makes my stomach feel distended and uncomfortable.

Today, as I say, it suddenly occurred to me I don't have to finish it.

How liberating.

The guy is doing a nice thing for me, and I thank him as is right & proper - but I don't have to drink the whole thing. I didn't ask for the bigger size and it's really not going to worry him unduly if I don't drink it all, is it? By forcing myself to drink it all, it makes him think I want or need the bigger size, so he'll keep giving it, when I was perfectly happy with the smaller cup. D'oh.

It seemed ungrateful somehow not to drink it all, and sometimes I would sneak off to drain it into the sink before he saw the unfinished cup! But I think I was being a bit daft. It is daft.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Justice Thirwall

I like the acknowledgement of the role Philpott's abuse of women had.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Norm!


I really like this article about descriptive norms, and how people are influenced heavily by what they see others doing or hear they have done.

Excerpt:
"When people try to change behavior, they often focus on prescriptive norms, telling people what they should do. We often underestimate just how strongly we respond to what other people actually do.

In a classic study, Cialdini and colleagues manipulated the signs that were displayed in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, a site often plagued by tourists who end up grabbing some of the petrified wood to take home as a souvenir. In situations like this, the first inclination of well-meaning environmentalists might be to set a strong prescriptive norm — perhaps by saying something like, “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the state of the Petrified Forest. This is bad, don’t do this.” The idea here would be to invoke a sense of shame and severity before asking visitors to refrain from taking the wood. But read that prescriptive message once again. Is there anything descriptive in there? Yes, of course there is. That message is not just telling you that you shouldn’t take the wood — it’s also telling you that most other people do. In fact, people were actually more likely to steal wood from the forest when they saw the sign telling them how many people tend to do it themselves, even though the very next sentence was asking them to refrain. But when the researchers simply tweaked the message to read that “the vast majority of past visitors have left the petrified wood in the park, helping to preserve the natural state of the Petrified Forest,” the thievery plummeted."

I've seen it play out in various settings myself, things like when you have a pristine toilet cubicle door, it stays that way for quite a while - but once one person scrawls on it, it quickly becomes covered. If someone leaves rubbish beside the bin, more rubbish quickly appears and so on.

So, yes, it's good to think that perhaps 'slacktivism' on FB through profile picture changes etc might actually go some way to changing social perceptions.



I think this differs from the sappy FB memes I have previously complained about (possibly because this is something I agree with!* but also) because it requires a shift in thinking. After all the anti-cancer memes are something easily paid lip-service to, while supporting gay marriage is more controversial, sadly.



* Not that I'm pro-cancer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oops

In my devotion to blogging, when I spotted dogs on the balcony again yesterday, I thought I would take a picture for illustrative purposes for my last post.

I took one quickly as I was on my way to work, and wended on my way. I heard a squawk behind me and looked back to see a woman pulling her dogs back into the flat, "Are you from the council?!"

Oops. I kept walking as I didn't see how to form the thought of taking a picture to illustrate my blog into a particularly coherent sentence that I could shout up effectively and felt it might be poorly received (rightly) if I could! Walking along I picked up pace a bit in case she should come running out demanding to know what I was up to.

I guess I probably messed with her head a bit. I feel bad about that. I wonder if she doesn't have permission for the dogs from the council, or if there have been complaints from neighbours, hence the leap to thoughts of the council. Maybe she's waiting for a knock on the door or a reprimanding letter now. Oh no.

I think I'm in the wrong of it, it can't be nice having your only outside space completely open to the view of the world. Is there an expectation of privacy, when your balcony is transparent and above a public road? Well, maybe not much of one - but I guess it's rude to stare up at the people using them/take pictures of their dogs. I hadn't really thought of it from the inside, just from an idle curiosity wandering past kind of way.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dogs on balconies

Sometimes I walk past blocks of flats and there are dogs out on the balconies, and I wonder why.

Is it to get them out from under their owners' feet while they vacuum or something, or is it so the dogs can sun themselves and get fresh air?
I hope it's not so the  dogs can relieve themselves - rank! Imagine living in the flat below. Ghastly. I hope that's not it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fading out

I have the urge to explain myself, but I don't think the recipient would find it edifying. So I'm unloading the reasons why here. I'm not being very transparent so perhaps I should explain.

A few years ago I made a friend - we initially met online but live close to each other and ending up seeing each other as friends in real life. We helped each other out.

Over the last year or so, however, I've found that it's not a friendship that makes me particularly happy - not because she's not nice or that she's not kind, but it doesn't really make me feel good. She often invites me to things, but it's always masses of people I don't know, never just a few, or mostly a crowd I'd met before. I'm not good in large social gatherings and she knows that: we've talked before about social awkwardness and shyness.

Bizarrely (to my eyes) she claims to find socialising difficult herself. Maybe internally it feels/is true to her, but from where I'm standing it looks like she loves to be in a social whirl of people. I can't believe she suffers the same frozen agonies that I experience.

If we do meet up 1-2-1, she always uses her phone or laptop a lot at the same time, and maybe that's old-fashioned of me, but I feel offended by it - well, not offended - but like I'm not interesting enough or fun to be around. Which may well be true.

So weighing it all up, stress vs pleasure in her company, I came to realise the former far outweighed the latter and have let things drift. It's perhaps a cowardly way out, but there's nothing to row about or confront really, just I don't feel we have much in common and that I'm there to make up the numbers rather than she really likes me.

And who needs that? I have already plenty of long-established reasons to doubt my own likeability/loveability.

But she evidently realised I've created distance and texted me recently inviting me to yet another thing with a jolly crew of campers, and asking if I was upset with her. I replied just saying that I'm rubbish at keeping in touch and there we've left it.

But the above is why.

Follow-up
Follow-up

Friday, March 08, 2013

International Women's Day

A few links:

The IWD website

A fantastic world map of women's political rights in the Guardian: New Zealand gave women the right to vote in 1893 and other fascinating facts.

A celebration of Lily Parr at the F-Word, a First World War era female footballer. The FA banned women from play on their grounds as the war came to a close and men's football restarted: sport was damaging to women's health apparently! But Lily Parr was not deterred.

And a nice piece about the damsel in distress as appearing in video games from Feminist Frequency.

I need to add John Scalzi's piece about white male privilege, which I think explains so much of  'privilege' theory so elegantly: lowest difficulty setting.








Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hy

Driving today, I got stuck behind a van emblazoned with the legend 'Hydra Logistics'. I amused myself visualising a scene a la Percy Jackson, with a barely contained Hydra in the back...


The driver was probably going so slowly as to not bump or swing the beast and piss it off.

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's the simple things

When walking the dog in the bitterly cold, I like going out on the more exposed path along the river-side, and then returning by the sheltered path behind the hedge. It makes the walk back feel warm in comparison, like I could sit out and have a picnic.

I like watching the skies. And cats. I went through all the photos on my laptop and realised I have many many folders labelled 'skies & cats'. The children crop up a lot too (I add hurriedly).

I like hot toasted sandwiches with chocolate spread and bananas.

I like the way that my DMs creak when I walk.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Frogtastic



I love this frog, with a deep and abiding passion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Unappeeling

It takes a special kind of mentality to sit there and moan about orange peel that you yourself dropped under the desk still being there, instead of picking the damned stuff up in the first place when it happened, or later when you noticed it again.

Your office has a cleaner, oh yes, so you suddenly lose the ability to pick up your own mess? Fingers suffering a bad case of fucking-lazyitis.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hate M@!l

Do you not think that it is rather lacking in taste for a story about a man accused of killing his girlfriend during a kinky sex session to have a link, saying "Thought the novel was racy? Wait until you try the 50 Shades of Grey workout!"

Just after the words "Nine days later, she was dead."

I will not link you to the online newspaper because I loathe it, but here's a screenshot.


It's good to know that what is really relevant to a someone's death is a new kind of work-out or the exterior of a lousy novelist's new house.

Bringing down Beyonce


According to my local radio station, Pirate FM, this is one of several pictures Beyonce's publicist tried to ban. Another take on the story (such as it is) is that the publicist suggested supplying their own shots instead, rather than trying to 'ban' the pictures from the internet. I love ban stories so much: they're generally just exaggerations/misrepresentations for a headline, like all the 'banning Xmas' or 'banning Baa Baa Black sheep' ones*.

So it's a bit of a non-story as far as I'm concerned (which to be fair sleb churnalism is to me anyway) but doubly so because of my instinctive reaction that the 'ban' will be a lot of hooey. And I'd have gone away and not thought anything more of it, but unfortunately I looked at the comments about this picture - and I just feel ill.

So many people so bloody eager to rip apart and judge Beyonce's body and face. There she is, putting her all into an aggressive, physical dance move and instead of seeing the beauty in the vigour and physicality of what she's doing, it's all sneering about imaginary flaws and imperfections.

To pass muster, the body must not have any movement in the flesh, no bulges, but at the same time be curvy with breasts & buttocks. Muscles should be toned, but not too toned lest you be mistaken for He-Man. The face should be perfectly made up and the expression within a narrow range of softly smiling vacancy to slightly lustful.

Basically the female form must be perfectly flexed and passively posed to be attractive.

Activity ruins that shit. You might look like you're enjoying yourself or something. You might look like you're not just waiting around for someone's approval on your body.



* Usually turns out a school is using different words for the song to teach colours, or just for a bit of fun even, and some news hack decides it's political correctness gorn madddddd. 

The road to hell

I got sent the urban myth:

I know you don't all live in Dorset but a mobile is a mobile where ever you live.

I didn't know about 112 did you?
A bit of useful advice - verified by the Dorset Police
The number does work from a mobile.

This actually happened to someone's daughter. Lauren was 19 yrs old and in college.
This story takes place over the Christmas/New Year's holiday break.

It was the Saturday before New Year and it was about 1.00pm in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend,
when an UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put its lights on. Lauren's parents have 4 children (of various ages)
and have always told them never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road , but rather wait until they get to a service station, etc
So Lauren remembered her parents' advice, and telephoned 112 from her mobile phone.
This connected her to the police dispatcher she told the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing blue light on his rooftop behind her and that she would not pull over right away but wait until she was in a service station or busy area.
The dispatcher checked to see if there was a police car where she was and there wasn't and he told her to keep driving,
remain calm and that he had back-up already on the way.
Ten minutes later 4 police cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her.
One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind.
They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground...... ..the man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew that bit of advice, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you do not have to pull over for an UNMARKED car.
Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a 'safe' place.
You obviously need to make some signals that you acknowledge them I.e., put on your hazard lights) or call 112 like Lauren did.
Too bad the mobile phone companies don't give you this little bit of wonderful information.
So now it's your turn to let your friends know about 112
(112 is an emergency number on your mobile that takes you straight to the police because 999 does not work if you have no signal) .
This is good information that I did not know!

Please pass on to all your friends, especially any females.

As far as I am aware, 112 uses a system called triangulation so they can also pinpoint exactly where you are phoning from.

READ IT THEN PASS IT ON DON'T JUST DELETE - IMPORTANT


Dorset police were moved to disavow this email, by the way.

112 is an emergency number, this is true, but there's no advantage in using it over 999, in the UK. If you can't get a signal, you can't get a signal, that's what "I can't get a signal" means! There is no amazing magical number that can conjure up a call to the cops without being able to connect with a network.



I really hate this shit. It was entitled "Don't Delete!" or something like that and I should have realised then it should go straight to the recycle bin, but because it was on my work email, I wasn't expecting spammy crap. Staggeringly naive of me!

Anyway, the email was sent out under the guise of useful information for lone female workers in my office, specifically. But it really isn't and I wonder what's the real reason for sending out fear-mongering garbage to the unsuspecting?

I mean, what women lone workers really need is a good dose of fear and faulty information, isn't it?

I daresay the guy who forwarded it had good intentions, but let's look at the results.
  • Knowing about 112 is only useful really if you're not in the UK but elsewhere in the EU and don't know that country's emergency number. In the UK, 999 does just fine. So it's just adding pointless, potentially confusing information.
  • 112 requires your mobile phone to have reception, just as 999 does. If you don't have a signal, dialling 112 is just as futile as dialling anything else. So it's providing false information.
Apart from the numerous people with more sense than I than to read it in the first place, zog bless 'em, those who did read it had a wholly negative experience.

Me, I thought "Urgh, not what I was expecting to read. Why am I getting spammy shit in my inbox? Why's it always rapists? Grrrrrr. I'm going to do a quick Google to debunk this and hopefully then I can stop thinking about it.*"

I can only speculate about other people's reactions if they believed in the email or thought it might be true but didn't check. For men, they could probably dismiss the whole thing as not affecting them - or they might be worried for the women in their life.

For women, 'though, it's more of an impact. "Shit, there's something else to be worried about!"

Driving as a lone woman, is one of the less fraught with danger-messages activities. Walking home at night - danger! Public transport at night - danger! Taking a taxi - it better be a black cab (oh hang on, remember Worboys?) - danger!

'Course if you're driving, how are you going to get to your car in the carpark without getting attacked? Have your keys in your hand. Walk in well-lit places. All that 'protective', safety information most women receive over the years.

It gives a bit of a sense of control. For some people, it might be reassuring, but strangers really aren't the main source of threat for women - that's our partners & family & friends, cheerily... Of course you can't protect yourself from them by having your keys in your hand - and it's no way to live to have no trust of your loved ones - so the messages we get are about how we can reduce our risk in public places, mostly by restrictions on us. (The Reclaim The Night campaign covers this more coherently). For me, I think worrying about this stuff and expending emotional energy on it probably hasn't protected me from anything, but has detracted from my peace of mind.

So, this email buys into that happy horseshit of false control, but worse than that, inspires fear in a usually 'safe' activity.

I also think the driving aspect is interesting for other reasons. There's this discourse about 'bad women drivers' - source of jokes and pub-talk. It's not based in fact, as insurance companies (when they were allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex) saw women as a better risk than men.

Driving represents independence. It's labour and time saving. With a car, I can transport heavy loads. I can do a month's worth of shopping with kids in tow and it takes me half the time & effort doing the same would be without a car. I can get to work on time without spending hours waiting on buses. I can load up the car with my stuff and the kids and fuck off home to mother, if my relationship isn't working. I think driving is and has been a significant factor in enabling women's independence, and Saudi would probably agree, hence the de facto ban on women driving there.

So I think discourse against women driving, even when it's 'all in fun', has this background of resistance to women's independence.

Anyway, I have wandered a bit.



* That didn't work, obviously.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Strange exchange

As I was locking up, waiting for the automatic doors to close after me, one of a bunch of young lads was intrigued.

"Do you live there?" says he.
"No, it's an office," say I.

"Do you get paid a lot?"
"Nope," I reply and laugh ruefully.

He is close to the still-open door, peering in. "Smells like a hospital, is it a hospital?"
"It's just an office," I say.

"Is it a doctor's?"
"Doctor's office?" says another helpfully.
"Can you step back from the doors?" I ask.
He stands back and the doors finally close.

He gives me a sideways look and decides to up the stakes: "Is it an office for teaching paedos not to be paedos?"
He pauses to let me digest this. "Is it full of paedos?"
He tries again, "Like, lots of paedos in there?"
I turn the key in the locks and wonder what response he's hoping for.

One of his mates seems shocked by his bravado and calls him to come on, so he does.



Saturday, February 02, 2013

Offensive crisps?

A Bloody Mary is a cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice, worcester sauce, tabasco and seasoning. The origin of the name is possibly based on Bloody Mary (Mary I), Bloody Mary of folklore, Mary Pickford or a waitress in Chicago.

A Virgin Mary is a non-alcoholic version of this, just as all non-alcoholic cocktails are commonly referred to as virgin.

Does it not seem reasonable then, to call a spicy tomato flavoured crisp, Virgin Mary?

Apparently not.

Pret a Manger have withdrawn the crisp after complaints from Catholics. Fair enough that they don't want to upset people, I wouldn't expect them to risk alienating customers over something so easily changed as a name of a crisp flavour.

But do Catholics commonly wander into bars and feel offended by mocktails?


Money

I've been spending money on myself, which I don't usually do much of. Yesterday I went shopping for clothes, just for me, on my own. Usually shopping is inspired by the children's needs and my own are an add-on (often put back when mental arithmetic says ouch). But I got a couple of skirts & tops and got the children nothing!

And today, I chose 2 books from the charity shop. One is a Georgette Heyer I've never read: Black Sheep. Yay. The other is Dawkins' Ancestor's Tale. At a 120p all in, you can't go wrong.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Job

After a while unemployed, the Other Half has got a new job. This is good news, of course.

It's going to be interesting, as this is the first time we've both had full-time jobs at the same time. It has usually been me as stay-at-home parent or working part-time, although the past year he's been at home or picking up casual p/t work when he could.

Other people do it, so juggling house-work and child-care must be possible. It looks pretty complex. Really I need to be looking to change what I'm doing as I work into the evening - and his job is likely to be 'unsociable hours' and jump around, being hospitality.

But I want a different job anyway, so it's time to start looking in earnest. My ideal would be the standard 9 to 5. Dry your eyes, Dolly - it's much maligned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading: The Changeling

I recently read the Changeling by AE van Vogt. I know I've read it before, but I had no memory of doing so. Usually part-way through a book will start feeling familiar on a re-read for me, but not this time. The blurb on the back of the novel is completely misleading and sounds like it's about a different book.

It was a curious tale of a man with toti-potent cells, which means he can regenerate limbs and recover from usually fatal injuries. He is a person of interest to science and to politicians, notably to an aspiring dictator, the US president. One of the downsides of his remarkable ability is losing his memory, however, and in this vulnerable state he is ripe for exploitation.

I enjoyed the novel overall, but found the depiction of women bizarre. In the world of the text, some women have chosen to be 'equalised' with men. It's not altogether clear to me what exactly this drug supposedly did - increased muscle mass? The primary difference between an equalised woman and a normal woman is apparently a brightness of eye. #Raised eyebrow#

The equalised women are a gun-wielding private army for the president who has taken them under his wing since no-one else will employ them, normal women hate them and "no man will marry them". #Howls of derisive laughter, mate#

So yes, er, um... I wasn't sure whether the intention was to be funny or whether it was just a product of its time (1967). My reading of it is that there is an underlying assumption was that women in political power is inherently dangerous: Vogt didn't need to explain what those dangers were to his audience of the time, because it would be a natural way of thinking to them.



January

Green Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
The Changeling / AE van Vogt

Monday, January 28, 2013

Liking the problematic: Rocky Horror

We recently went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is touring in its "40th anniversary party" incarnation.

I really like the show and we've been a few times over the years. But it does have some problems that sometimes make me wonder about my enjoyment. I recently read this piece about liking the problematic, and I figured I would take some time to think aloud, as it were, about Rocky Horror.

What do I like about it? Well, it's the taking of the B-movie standards and playing with them - the conscious hat-tips to '50s horror and sci-fi films: the spooky old castle randomly occurring in small-town USA, the silver tunics and ray-guns, the apple-pie conservative couple suddenly plunged into peril. It takes genres I love and has fun with them.

Plus it's a musical with some great catchy songs.  There's a lot to like in that.

I also like the transgressive sexuality and the way it turns the male form into the primary object of desire and subject of the audience's gaze. A man in conventionally female underwear: basque, suspenders & stockings is hot, not ridiculous. Or certainly not when played by Oliver Thornton. Rowf. Frank adopts the uber-'feminine' poses of seduction/glamour models and there's humour in that, but it's not against him.

And what's not to love about a man in such garb, plus white coat, running around with a chain-saw?

For me, the most problematic part of Rocky Horror, are the rape scenes. As a fan it's hard to say the r word, but there's no real way round it. It's not seduction, because Franknfurter creeps into Janet's bed, pretending to be Brad, and has sex with her - and later does the same in reverse with Brad. He then persuades each of them respectively that they enjoyed it and they have sex again willingly.

It may also be a LGBT issue that the transgressor, bisexual transvestite Franknfurter, is a voracious sexual predator, who ends up dead in the end. This resonates to me of horror story tropes where the sexually active teens are always the first to die. Obviously Franknfurter, as a murderer and rapist, is not the same and may deserve his fate, but he is the sexual boundary breaker - so it's an interesting one. It's strange how likeable the character is, despite or perhaps because, of his arrogance and amorality. He's a bit of a tragic figure, because he isn't really capable of love, yet he is much-loved, even by those he betrays and abuses. His exuberance and vitality drive the story.

It's a whole lot of fun to watch 'though and the audience participation & dressing-up makes it an experience.




Eep

Walking home from work, an inebriated bloke who was putting his rubbish out, asked me if I wanted to party. I just said "No, thanks" and walked on. That was fine, wasn't worried, as I thought, but ..

I nearly jumped out of my skin when there was a loud exhalation behind my shoulder a moment later.

It was just a runner. But unfortunate timing.

I blame my mother, she was telling me off for the way I wore my scarf the other day, said someone could strangle me with it...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

That's not what I expected

I'm mildly annoyed by my bottle of Herbal Essences Uplifting Volume. I bought it because it is a nice orange colour to match in with the bathroom. (Yes, I choose my grooming products through colour. And yes, we have an orange bathroom. It used to be a rather cold purple from the previous inhabitants, and we wanted something sunny.)

But, as you use it, you discover the plastic bottle is pink and the shampoo itself is yellow! Pink.

That's not orange!

Is this a big issue worth writing about? No Yes of course. Shut up. #mutters#

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's on my bookshelf?

Today I thought I would pick one of my bookshelves at random, take a picture and then gibber on about what is there. So without further ado:


First, we have a copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. This is an edition I've had since a child, and it was published in 1955, so possibly was my mother's before me.

Second, Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth. I think I picked this up from a charity shop. It's a curious book, written in blank verse, all about a pack of werewolves in the US.

Third, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I got this around the time the film came out. I really liked the film at the time and have the soundtrack somewhere. I can remember scenes from it pretty well, so it made an impact. The book is somewhat grittier and nastier. Had since college.

Three volumes of Maya Angelou's autobiography. I still haven't read I know why the Caged Bird Sings, and I think that is supposed to be the best of them. Bought from a school fair.

Dave Gorman Vs The Rest of the World. Gorman's funny account of his gaming. I dip into it ever so often and have read it fully a couple of times. A present for my birthday or Xmas one year.

A Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. I started reading this a while ago, but gave up because I really hated the very old-fashioned feudal/misogynistic political system it begins with depicting. I don't have a problem with this sort of thing in pseudo-history or fantasy, but when it's set in the future it seems to lack imagination. I like SF that explores different social structures. Apparently when the Moties come in, it gets good, but I couldn't do it to myself. I should probably give the book away. PIcked up at a boot sale?

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I have read it, but I can't remember much about it. Bought in my mission to improve ponciness of my book collection!

Missing Pieces. I liked this book. My mum gave it to me to read after she enjoyed it a lot. I've never given it back. Oops!

The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. Why isn't this book in with the rest of my Georgette Heyers? My librarian card should be revoked. This is the first novel Heyer wrote and it's jolly good fun.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy. I have never been able to get into this. I should probably try again or give the book away. Acquired after recommendation on a website I was on.

The Time Traveller's Wife. I really enjoyed this one. Bought when it was recommended by Richard & Judy!

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the Yellow Wallpaper. A feminist utopia. Had this since college.

The English Civil War by Tristram Hunt. An interesting text about, er the English Civil War, strangely enough.   I learnt a lot. Bought this a couple of years ago when I developed an interest in the time period.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kelsey. Enjoyable but pretty misogynistic in parts. Think this was acquired from a charity shop about 5 years ago.

Phantoms in The Brain by VS Ramachandran. Really fascinating book about the weird things our brains can do. Had this a few years, got it when I was reading a lot of atheist websites. It's not an atheistic work, it was just suggested as something to read. They had good book suggestions.

Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Another classic feminist SF novel. Had this one since college.

Nightmare and Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Ed Wood Jnr. This is a biography of the infamous director Ed Wood whose best-known film is Plan 9 from Outer Space, an astonishing blend of sci-fi and zombie flick. It came with my copy of Plan 9 when I was really into SF B-movies.

Grow your Own Veg by Carol Klein. I got this a couple of years back, but haven't used it much because we're in a transition period with our garden at the moment.

The Bachman Books by Stephen King. This is a collection of novels King wrote under a pseudonym. It includes Rage which is one that AFAIK he no longer allows to be published as it deals with shooting in a school. Not surprised he doesn't want that out there any more. I can remember having this at college. I am pretty sure it originally was abstracted from my mother's bookshelves when I left home for uni.


Well, I enjoyed that.




Saturday, January 05, 2013

Reading Record 2013

I read 46 books last year, quite a few of them re-reads. My usual time for reading is in bed in the evening or in the mornings when I can get a lie-in at the weekend, so how much I read suffered a bit with a change in lifestyle with the other half being home in the evenings. I didn't really do much by the way of different authors or genres. I don't have any targets in mind for this year, at the moment. Previous reading records are 2012 2011  20102009200820072006

January

Green Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
The Changeling / AE van Vogt - re-read
Rage / Stephen King (Richard Bachmann) - re-read

February

Black Sheep / Georgette Heyer

March

The Fry Chronicles / Stephen Fry - audio book
The Liar / Stephen Fry - re-read

April

Mistakes were Made (but not by Me) / Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson - audio book
Daggerspell / Katherine Kerr - re-read
Missing Pieces / Joy Fielding - re-read
The Ancestor's Tale / Richard Dawkins

May

Why be happy when you could be normal? / Jeannette Winterson - audio book
Driver / Taiye Selasi - short story on audio
The Family Portrait / Jon Ronson - 4 short stories on audio

June

Dreams from my Father / Barack Obama
Sleepyhead / Mark Billingham
The Female Eunuch /Germaine Greer
Burning Girl / Mark Billingham
Lifeless / Mark Billingham
Buried / Mark Billingham
Death Message / Mark Billingham

July

Living Dolls / Natasha Walter - audio book
At Home / Bill Bryson

August

World War Z / Max Brooks - audio book
The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins

September

The Scarecrow / Michael Connelly
The Drop / Michael Connelly
Bad Pharma / Ben Goldacre

October

The Ethical Slut / Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy - audio-book

November

Another World / Pat Barker
Magic Bites / Ilona Andrews - audio-book
L is for Lawless / Sue Grafton
V is for Vengeance / Sue Grafton
Maddadam / Margaret Atwood

December

Hyperbole & a half / Allie Brosh
Magic Burns / Ilona Andrews - audio-book
Raising Steam / Terry Pratchett



New Year

So, 2013, eh?

2012 was not a good blogging year for me - posting was sporadic. I do not know if this year will be better on that score, but we shall see. I do like blogging and I have been keeping this one for several years now, so it'd be sad not to keep going.

2012 wasn't a good year in some other respects, but on the bright side I got a new job. It isn't the best job ever, I wouldn't say I enjoy it, and I'm not sure it has the potential to lead anywhere better in that company after all - but it was a big boost to get it and it does keep our boat afloat.

It may be more pleasant now that a moaning colleague has left. I quite liked the guy, but everyday he would whinge about the job and every other week he would threaten to resign. It's kind of fun to have a good old moan about things sometimes, but it also started off every working day on a resentful, negative note. At least once a week I'd be crying at some point during the day, feeling disheartened & frustrated, often because he was the 'squeaky wheel' who always got the grease while I was sidelined. His leaving actually brought the line managers out of the woodwork to check in with me and be encouraging to me, so there's that as a benefit.

But I'd like to have a better job, so I will keep looking.

Other than that, I really want to be in shape for when I'm 40 later this year. I'm tired of not particularly liking what I look like and I am getting older, so being over-weight will begin to pose more health problems. It's a cliche of a resolution, but bah. Needs to be done.

Here's to a happy, fit 2013 for all.