The Eden Project, one of Cornwall's biggest tourist attractions, has an education centre with a wall made up entirely of refridgerator doors. If there's a teaching purpose to it, I missed it - as far as I could see it existed mainly to give people the chance to play with the hundreds of letter-shaped fridge magnets on it.
I couldn't resist the opportunity to promote my website address - as high up the wall as I could reach so it would stay there and not be broken up by other people searching for those hard-to-find “Ws”.
Firstly, a public service announcement:
The Saints (true to form) made a slow start after Hurricane Katrina, with owner Tom Benson initially seeming to see it as an opportunity to carry out what has long been suspected to be an ambition of his: to relocate the team in San Antonio, Texas. (For those more familiar with the British sports scene, what happened to Wimbledon FC / the Milton Keynes Dons over here is a lot more common over there, where sports teams are privately-owned franchises at the mercy of an owner's whim.)
Things have stabilised somewhat after that sticky start, however, and the team belatedly set up a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. I emailed them a week ago, after making my donation, to ask if they had any graphics that could be used to link to it: no reply. Still, at least it exists and at least it looks like some of the home games will be played in Baton Rouge - I sincerely hope the Superdome is demolished and replaced. How could you ever celebrate a touchdown there again, knowing what was happening on the same spot in the aftermath of the disaster?
Anyway, here's a link. With a graphic adapted by myself from their site, since they couldn't be bothered to email back. Do donate - they take PayPal.
Now, other stuff.
I think I've figured out why I'm writing so much less in this journal than I used to. It's not that I can't think of things to say - I often think 'must blog that when I get a moment'. It's because the work I'm doing at the moment involves writing. In the same way that I lost the enthusiasm for browsing through shops while I was working in one, I can't really find a lot of fun in carefully-honed prose here when I'm doing it at work - even if it is only two days a week. Which is a shame. On the plus side, www.andthenhesaid.com advances in leaps and bounds, after stalling for more than three years while I worked on maintaining people's websites for them. Go figure.
I've been going to the gym most days, and enjoying it. Already I've noticeably lost a few inches, which is good. And I don't come back completely wrecked, unlike how I used to be wiped out for hours after I went running. We've also joined a dance class there, as astrofiammante brilliantly recounts. And I must remember to write a post about it all, provisionally entitled changing room buttocks and dance class Jezebels.
Actually, I fear a mid-life crisis may have visited me a few years early - not only have I joined a gym and bought an iPod, I have also been hoovering up the albums on the Mercury Prize shortlist. Surely there's no hope when you start getting into pop music at my age? (Actually, there's probably no hope when you still use phrases like 'pop music' - I'll be calling people 'daddio' next.)
Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my capsule reviews of the ones I've bought:
- Employment, Kaiser Chiefs
- Thumping great wodge of catchy noise - very difficult to avoid jumping up and down to, which is embarrassing on the Tube. Reminds me of when the Wonder Stuff first appeared. Brilliant.
- The Magic Numbers, The Magic Numbers
- A bit of a disappointment - a couple of strong songs but the rest start to sound the same and go on forever. Everything's written by the singer - I predict future court cases over royalties.
- Eye to the Telescope, KT Tunstall
- Her performance of Black Horse and the Cherry Tree on the awards show was mesmerising, and the rest of the album is nearly - but not quite - as good. Reminds me a bit of Tracy Chapman - I wasn't surprised to hear she'd lived in the US for a while.
- Arular, M.I.A.
- I can't stop listening to this - it's a mix of so many styles, the music is sparse but assured, and the vocals & lyrics stay just on the right side of cocky. Like hearing the Soulsonic Force for the first time, with everything from Kraftwerk to bhangra thrown in for good measure - all served up with an attitude that'll be instantly familar if you live in west London.
- X&Y, Coldplay
- A self-conscious, constipated dirge of an album. Speed of Sound is a great song, but that's about as far as it goes.
- Stars of CCTV, Hard-Fi
- Constantly surprising - gives the impression it'll be music by chavs for chavs, but there's a lot more to it than that. Sounds a bit like the Clash in places. A pleasant discovery and rather catchy, but the song called Feltham is Singing Out is factually inaccurate - Feltham doesn't sing, it whinges.
Looking ahead to November, when we plan to withdraw for the entire month and spend it writing, I'm starting to flesh out the plans for my NaNoWriMo entry. (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated - write 50,000 words in a month by ignoring questions like quality. You can always edit them afterwards, the point is to break the mental block about getting words onto paper by not worrying about whether they're any good.)
My effort's going to be about this guy who's on his way back from a fancy dress party, see? And he rescues this girl from attack, right? Only afterwards he realises he knows her and runs off all flustered without being recognised, as you do, but the CCTV and cameraphone pictures just show this mysterious masked man in a cloak coming to the rescue and leaving without saying who he is. So suddenly there's a huge media frenzy about superheroes and costumed crime fighters and the guy thinks, hell, that was kind of fun, why not do it again? But it all goes wrong, 'cause it always does in novels, 'cause otherwise there wouldn't be any point to them, would there? And then -
Well, and then I have to sit down and actually write it. I'm torn between two possible titles - Call Me Mr Happy and I'm Here To Make You Smile. Could be fun. Could be a nightmare, of course. But it could be fun. The possibility exists, right?
And I'll try to write more here, now I know why I'm not.
And another period of ridiculous silence ensues…
Mostly the lack of posts is because of being back in full-time work, with the train-based commute adding another three hours of travelling to the working day.
Part of it is that most of my free time is going into the building of my new personal website, which is finally taking shape after more than two years of planning. (If you want a look, go to www.andthenhesaid.com - you may only find a 'coming soonish' notice, but if I'm testing new pages at the time you're welcome to have a browse round. Leave me a note to say what you think.)
But a sizeable reason for the silence is that I'm on the horns of an unlikely dilemma.
The new site will carry advertising, and rather than just accept random banners from some impersonal link network or banner exchange, I'm signing up to affiliate programmes with companies that sell relevant stuff. So, for example, a company selling holidays on the Norfolk Broads for the pages about the Broads and our boat. Or outdoor clothes stores for the walking pages. And so on. The first one I've signed up with is Domino Pizza, because I'm a bugger for a pizza and because I'm thinking of setting up a site about gadgets and other lads' stuff, and it seems a good advertiser for a site like that.
Trouble is, a week or so ago something happened that I want to write about. It was a rather strange and somewhat amusing encounter with a Domino delivery driver. The sort of day-to-day bizarreness that you'll know, if you're a regular reader, that I love writing about.
But I've got a total block about what to do regarding the whole advertising business.
You see, it would be daft not to take advantage of such a perfect match between advertiser and subject. But the moment the ad goes in it looks like I'm writing about it solely to run the ad (the alternative is a text link that doesn't flag itself up as an ad, but that seems dishonest to me). And any of you who have been with me for a while in this blog (including some real-world friends) deserve better treatment than becoming an audience to be sold to. But, equally, I regularly get new visitors arriving via Google for all sorts of things (for example, several when I mentioned eating a Pot Noodle a while back), so it's not that clear-cut.
All in all, it's a bit of a bugger and it's stopping me writing the post, and the ones backing up behind it.
So here's the compromise I eventually decided on: I'll write the post. I'll stick a visible Domino advert in (no secret-squirrel text link). And I'll write this post so you know when you see the other one that, if you click on it and buy something, I'll be making a few pennies out of it.
That way everyone knows what's going on. Seems fair to you?
Well, here we go round the bloody Mulberry Bush again - after 18 months away, I'm back working at the Royal Mail this week. Admittedly, it's only part of the week - I'm in Islington again for two days - and it may only last a week or two, but still it's going to be strange and deja vu-ish.
I hadn't realised how long it was since I last updated - I knew time was passing, but not to that extent. I've mostly been buried doing techy stuff, having finally found a content management system I can work with.
Ain't life grand?
Just posted this on the almost-dead Blogosphere News.
London's bloggers have swung into action almost as quickly as the emergency services following six or seven bomb blasts across the capital this morning.
Among those liveblogging the events - often from their work desks in the City, or from home after being turned back on their morning commute - are Robin Grant at perfect.co.uk, Tim Worstall and Nosemonkey.
A LiveJournal community is coordinating news, rumours and offers of accommodation, as well as offering a forum for people to leave messages for loved ones, here. Thanks to The Very World of White Hart for that one.
There's also a Flickr group for blast photos here.
My view, as a London blogger? Hitler couldn't bomb us into submission, the Irish Republicans couldn't either, and nor will this lot. Let Tony Blair go all Bambi-eyed and quivery and spout a load of moronic platitudes if he wants to - we'll just stick two fingers up at the bombers and carry on with life regardless.
Hopefully without invading anyone.
Edit: three more excellent sources