31 January 2006


Generally speaking, like, for most of the time, there are only 365 days in a year. Everybody you ever meet will share their birthday with someone famous, also someone noteworthy, someone saintly; someone infamous and someone shockingly depraved. Even the poor souls born Feb 29.

Does it do us any good at all, to look at those little 'Born This Day' lists that turn up in newspapers next to the Horoscopes? Why do we do it?

I doubt its so we can say 'Shit, he/she had the same astrological profile as me, which proves I am an underachiever who has wasted my potential for yet another year'. No, its an -ism or a -ship of some sort, like patriotism and partisanship. We like feeling like part of a club or team that has a couple of winners in it. Even dead ones.

So, I share a birthday with Justin Timberlake. Is that a cause for celebration? Seriously, I'm asking, as the news is inspiring nothing more than a prime wtf moment, for me.

Who else? A whole lot of US politicians I had never heard of, a bunch of Baseball players (ditto) including three marked as being in a Hall of Fame ; then there's Minnie Driver, Zane Grey, Tallulah Bankhead and a couple of kings, it says here. Trust Wikipedia to be the only place listing noteworthy females, bless 'em.

All things considered, given so few days in a year, the list for my birthday is sparse, to say the least. A bit crappy really.

Still, I guess I kind of like Minnie Driver because her name annoys me so much on her behalf, that I cringe for her. What must it have been like to grow up being compared to a mini screwdriver of the plastic coloured kind you get in tiny sets in Christmas crackers, or to have people constantly asking 'Yeah? A Cooper or a Metro?'

Or maybe she just went to a nicer school than I did, and mixed with nicer people.

There is always the chance that she chose it/chose to keep it quite deliberately, so perhaps that's just what I need, a new name, and to hell with astrology.

Any ideas?

Bugger, bugger, bugger, edit, edit! I just found out I share the day with John Lydon (Johnny Rotten)! You HAVE to check out his site :-) Happy Birthday, John!
Now theres a team mate to be bloody proud of. Brains, humour, and no faffing about. Also Carol Channing and Phil Collins, who take 2nd and 3rd place respectively in my personal list of OK birthday sharers. I am back to quite liking the day, again.

30 January 2006

Calm Classrooms?

I'd really like you to play a game with me.

Click HERE, please, download the mp3 and let it play. It's only two and a half minutes long. I would like you please to turn it down as low as possible, so it's just audible, and then ignore it.

Get on with reading.

Like the hum of a computer or a fluorescent light, I want it to be one of those sounds that you notice the lack of, once it's finished. I want you to watch where your head goes when it stops, not whilst it's running.


About six months ago this music (its one track off a set of 10 CDs) had such an amazing effect at one school that it was reported (in glowing terms) in the Times Educational Supplement. In between, it was submitted to examination by Worcester University's Department of Psychology, which was doing a full study of the effect different styles of music on students' ability to recall information. Carried out under controlled conditions, the study showed that any music was preferable to silence, in improving performance. However, the stuff you are listening to now (HERE it is again), in fact all of it's originator's compositions, when compared with classical or pop music, both with and without words, achieved the highest scores of all. Heart and pulse rates relaxed, but minds stayed alert and were able to concentrate more easily.

The Magic:

This music, played very quietly, invades the senses just sufficiently to coincide with and reinforce the brain's alpha rhythms.

'Being in Alpha' is a well known state of relaxed alertness, here's a separate article about that, if you hadn't heard of it, but to quote (emphasis my own):
...in deep sleep there are no Alpha brain waves, and if someone is very highly aroused as in fear or anger, again there are virtually no Alpha brain waves.
Delta brain waves
are seen only in the deepest stages of sleep (Stages 3 and 4).
Theta brain waves
are seen in light sleep and drowsiness (sleep stages 1 and 2).
Alpha brain waves
are seen in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness.
Beta brain waves
are seen in highly stressful situations, and where there is difficult mental concentration and focus.
This isn't meditation music, or chill out stuff - that abounds. This music is designed and tested and proven to lift you (or a bunch of students) out of sleepy, disinterested daydreaming, whilst also taking any who need it, down out of adrenalin fuelled stress and 'challenging behaviour'. Given the recent hoo-ha spotlighted by Newsweek, and the fact that the UK DfES has a whole department dedicated to improving behaviour in schools, I can't see how it can fail to be taken up and taken seriously.

I'm sold - at least sold enough to want to know more - aren't you?

HERE's the new website, Calm Classrooms, which includes details of the University study and another link to the Times article, plus contact details

I don't know what a full set of CDs or mp3s for private use would cost, but I'd like to and am working on finding out. If you find out before me, tell them I sent you, and tell me what they said!

I'm going to copy ME Strauss now and re-list all the links.

29 January 2006

Love these lyrics.

A long time ago
A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That's what storms were made for
And you shouldn't be afraid for
Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You'll find yor fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree.
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me


28 January 2006

Phunking About

Nope, really sorry, this WAS a music video post.

The video jumped all over the place in my browser so I removed that by giving it zero dimensions. So far, so good.

This did have the unfortunate side effect of doing away with the control buttons and any ability to stop the music.

It's amazing how quickly you can begin to loathe a track after it's kicked in and repeated five or six times. I can't bear it any longer - whoosh, gone.

In it's place however, I can announce that my beloved other has posted his list of 8 traits of a perfect partner/lover, here.

See the comments there; I have adjusted my own list accordingly......


I have known Steve at Wittering Heights for years.

An accomplished psychic-medium and psychometrist (he won't thank me for telling you, but hey), a businessman who supports and runs charities and lives for fair play; a witty, evilly humorous joker who is an absolute joy to engage in verbal sparring. One of life's diamonds, pure and simple. Well, okay, he would probably argue the toss about being pure and hit me for calling him simple. Tough.

Oh and his birthday was two days ago, a mere five days before mine meaning I have absolutely no excuse at all for overlooking it.

And I forgot!

I think I even spoke to him via MSN on the day. Of course he never mentioned, but that just makes it worse. The Steve I know would normally say something delightfully sarcastic and demand the good wishes he deserves. My mind is now doing the headless-chicken-dance, or possibly even the chickenless-head, rolling in the dust, eyes glazed but still clucking in absolute annoyance and disbelief.

Steve, mate,
B I R T H D A Y ! ! !

Please, please pretty please run over there and say the same in his comments to help me make up for this and stop cringing......

How Many Swedish Dressmakers can there be in Greater London?

Dear Lady

If you happen to be a dressmaker in London, who has worked on some theatrical productions but also like to make wedding dresses, if you have chestnut hair (or at least reddish- brown) are about 5' 4" and mid 30s; if you like sushi, have a second home east of Stockholm and most importantly flew from Vasteras to Stansted by Ryan-air on the evening of Thursday August 7th 2003 then this is for you.

The charming, world-hopping, wine-tasting journalist who was heavily involved in talking with you until you became separated at Stansted, still, after three years, wants to re-ignite the conversation. (From a safe distance - he mentions a desire to send you a card, but he did say you have a lovely smile.)

Do you know a Swedish brunette dressmaker who fits the description? Do you have readers in the arts, in London? Pass it on!

Thanks to KIM for the tip-off.

27 January 2006

8 Traits Of My Perfect Partner

I was tagged by Bart, who was tagged by LizzieDaisy for the following meme.

The tagged victim lists 8 different points of their perfect lover/partner, mentioning the sex of said partner.

I thought I'd give four answers about partner and four about lover, because hell, we're all going to end up incapable eventually, and need someone who doesn't drive us nuts. Then when I got to the assets that actually make someone good in bed, they look like very good qualities for any purpose.



1. Someone who can add up. I'd genuinely sooner live on toast with a man who pays his bills than be wined and dined on a credit card. If you owe (don't own) the money you buy stuff with, then you don't own the stuff. I become like a financial back seat driver and I get acid, if someone robs Peter to pay Paul and expects me to smile appreciatively/complicitly.Thats the really stern one out of the way, but I was married to the other sort once.

2. Someone who loves life. You know, life, like air, views, people, learning something, playing the fool.

3. I have to agree with Bart on this one - an intelligent listener. Don't get me wrong, I love a good argument once in a while, but one where the other person can hear the difference between banter, a real rift and me letting off steam, and can keep up.

4. A team player. Someone who sees 'us' as a partnership on every level, so we both at least know whats going on.

5. Creative

6. Adventurous

7. My equal give or take. I don't want to be harried, but I don't want a walkover either. Nor a clone. You can trust your equal, and trust yourself with them and still learn something.

8. Huggable - which is a cheat's answer as it covers being warm, appreciative, attentive, romantic, honest (dishonest is not huggable) and attractive.


I want to tag bulb but he doesn't 'do' memes, so I tag:
Lady Muck, Ella Michelle, Doris, Steve and Prydwen (that one should be interesting!)

Do please tag yourself but let me know in the comments so I can come and see.

Holocaust Memorial Day Today

Here's the site.

26 January 2006

Genius? Moi?

Well, it wasn't me that said it.

But I DID get 26/33 right on THIS without cheating.

I bet She Weevil could beat me.

How about you? What's your score?

Cheap Petrol

That's not a title you see every day, or at least, as a non-driver, it's not one I've ever noticed.

Even though we are a no-car family, I can still feel irked that, through the power of bulk buying, supermarkets etc sell petrol at a healthy profit. I don't suppose their own transport departments pay the same price that they ask of you and me, the little people. The oil-well owners, refineries and filling stations all take their cut, and the Government adds nearly 70p in tax per litre.

Now there's a chance to claw a little bit back! A bunch of very clever people have come up with the Pipeline Card; a system so genius that it looks simple. Sign up enough drivers to free membership, and then you have enough purchasing power to negotiate a discount for them all with one of the leading forecourt chains - an estimated 5p to 10p per litre. According to the FAQ, 90,000 of the 32 million UK drivers have already opted in.

Completely free, completely worth the effort and completely worth telling all your friends. The bigger the membership, the bigger the discount, I guess.

UK drivers go HERE for more information, or to sign up.

25 January 2006

Wake Up Call

ROFL. My head is in such a spin that I have forgotten why I chose this title, when I first decided to 'do a quick post' over an hour ago.

Oh yeah, maybe that's why.

I really need to start carving my time into chunks again.

The kids are getting antsy at the time I spend on the computer (I wouldn't slope off to the darn thing if they weren't totally involved in their own stuff in the first place - but no, I guess I'm meant to be on call.)

I have all these T-shirt slogans whipping round my head (and yes my mind works in a way similar to Zilla's), so I'm imagining innuendo so the T shirts can be worn in front of the pure of heart without causing offence, yet aren't so tactful that nobody at all gets the point.

Have you seen the one with a lollipop on it and the slogan 'It aint gonna suck itself'? Marketing genius. Thats the level I seem to be aiming for.

Then I joked with ME Strauss that I wanted to be an honorary member of the SOBs and she offered me full membership. I feel neither successful nor outstanding (least of all successful) so in the past two or three days I doubled my readership. Bloody Statcounter went on the blink and didn't pick up the figures, but Webstadt did, and they are picky. They only list figures for individual visitors, not pages views nor return visitors.

I've got enough out of them to know I doubled my readership and enough out of statcounter to know that I seriously reduced my returners and page turns.

So. It wasn't worth it, but heres how you do it, if numbers are worth more to you than friends: Go to MSNBC Newsweek, read the top story, read a couple of the related front page stories, and do a post linking to them all. Newsweek has a Technorati link page showing what bloggers are saying on the subject and as long as you are among the earliest or most recent to post on the matter, people click through in tens and hundreds. They don't stay, they don't come back, but they click through.

Meanwhile, if your indepth political hot potato of choice doesnt suit all of your regulars, you slowly lose the guys that matter - especially if you have a brain warp like I did and post on the exact same subject three days in a row. Hic dur blurble and sorry.

Anyways, I feel equipped to take advantage of ME's lovely offer now, because I've done 'successful' as defined by page ranking systems etc - I just didn't like it.

The BIG NEWS today (and the reason I went off on one about education) - I got an unofficial phone call from the County Council this morning, to tell me that, owing to additional information provided by the Educational Psychologist, panel had looked again and were going to give my son his special needs statement after all. WHOOPEE!!!!!

Of course it has nothing to do with me standing in the school office for two hours yesterday, photocopying evidence for a tribunal. Of course not. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we are all happy to breathe a sigh of relief and put the last three or four years of shenanigans down to a communication error, because that ways its nice to everybody and everybody can be nice to each other.

Well I say that, but theres no way in hell that I am going to let go off my right to tribunal until I see what support they have put in place. If it still runs short of what the school thinks he needs, then I may just keep on keeping on.

So - T-shirts, visitor numbers, accolades and the bizarre sensation akin to putting down a heavy bag (my brain and my arms feel all floaty) are the things that have amused me today. Them and eating constantly, for something to do, to contain the excitement.

OK so I COULD have written a formal letter, paid a couple of bills and filled in a couple of essential, date-specific forms by now. For could, read 'should'. I guess I will have to do all that in the next two hours, so the kids don't berate me for still being on the computer when they come home.

But I think I'll just go and have another cup of coffee and another slice of toast, first........................

P.S. The image has no relevance AT ALL. I just like it. It makes me feel better.

24 January 2006

Okay, That's Enough Thinking

Help Chepner's Mom, and pass it on!

Live in America?
No kids / school age kids?

PLEASE save your Box Tops For Education coupons. Don't shove them in the bin, shove them in the mail to Chepner!

Seriously - Box Tops For Education sets an earnings limit of $20,000 dollars per school.

Chepner's Mom teaches in a deprived area where last year the WHOLE SCHOOL, in total, raised less than three percent of the limit, finishing up with an award worth just $544.

Isn't it the way - when a school is in a fairly poor area and has a chance like this, it turns out that very few of the parents have a budget that stretches to the relevant purchases.

Every box top coupon that you shove in the mail to Chepner makes 10 cents of difference!

Follow the link to Chepners blog for a PO Box address.
In America? Read by Americans? Copy this post and pass it on :-)

(This post reactivated to stay on the front page. First posted 19 Jan 05.)

Bot herder pleads guilty to 'zombie' sales


One pop-up king bites the dust. At least he's nowhere near Arpaio's jurisdiction. Just ask Shaun Attwood, another US convict who was just an intelligent, middle class, successful and cocky young man, until his arrest.

I guess its bad enough being well brought up and clueless when you land in any jail system, but if you want the lowdown on quite how sadistic some systems really are, then Shaun's blog is a real eye opener.

Rote and Results

By Ella M

Sent to me in response to this post, pertaining to two Newsweek articles; this week's leading piece The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre, and the essay 'Mommy I Know You' by Carol Gilligan, described as a feminist scholar.


Starting with the feminist perspective article, the writer has a valid general idea (that there needs to be more study and research on the minds and behavior of male kids and teens), but a wonky theory of execution. The article suggests that the solution is to conduct similar or parallel studies to the ones that the author has done on young girls. This method would inherently bias the data, as it would point researchers toward focusing merely on the contrasts between genders, and would color the findings to miss what might be vital commonalities if the studies were trying to address the schooling issue.

I find this to be a problem with most pieces written by older school feminists. They tend to make every given subject about women, rather than addressing inequality across the board. Want to address boys' failures at school? Let's do comparison studies based on girls info. How to make a perfect long island iced tea? Poll female bartenders and then do a female double blind taste test on the results.

If feminism is to be effective, it's supposed to help give everyone a level playing field. In that case it would mean studying boys on their own merits, objectively, singularly. Once we had some good unbiased data we could start effectively analyzing the interrelationship between the two.

Also bothersome is that neither article is fully addressing the fact that the deification of the standardized test (At least here in the US, is it the same in the UK?) is rapidly leading to the "sausage factory learning" you mentioned and that many schools are still having students graduate without basic competencies, along with declining rates of graduation and competency overall. This rote memorization style of learning shorts boys, but it also shorts girls and shorts teachers. Kids are being almost entirely judged by a standardized test score rather than individual merit.

Teachers jobs have become dependent on getting kids to hit the magic number on said tests, and thus are not able to teach to them as individuals, but must stretch their lessons to "teach to the test".

Administrators don't care that little Johnny needs extra help in reading or that his teacher gave him enough help to improve his reading level by three grades. If he can't parrot out the correct sequence of answers to pass the test, the teacher is considered a failure. If said teacher dares to do such a thing to multiple students, the loss in test high scorers might make the already overburdened school lose vital funding and the teacher out of a job.

It's a cluster fuck. The fact that this is only receiving the barest of attention when some spin doctor calls it the "war on boys" scares the crap out of me. There's already a call for "traditional masculine values" and stopping the "feminization" of our boy students. Perhaps I'm just crazy, but those traditionally masculine ideas (including the idea that asking for help or admitting to needing it are "girly") are a part of the problem. If we suscribe to the theory in the Newsweek article, it also would inevitably lead to a slippery slope as more and more behaviors are blamed on "boys being boys" and unable to help it, as if they were etched out of genetic stone (some of those habits far less harmless than being fidgety in class).

If we were at least being equal in our scare tactics about education and gender why isn't the fact that despite early success in the academic arena, women are still grossly outstripped in the top tiers of business, science and high academia the "war on girls"? ~insert sad, bitter black humor giggle here~ :D


I had to share this, even though it arrived as an email; as a chat. I'm thoroughly impressed with the rationale here; its also a bloody well formulated argument.

So what do you think?

23 January 2006

The Sausage Factory Mentality

Husband had a day off work today.

Maybe you think its a little early to be speaking of that in the past tense, but its now half past three and the children are home from school. Life is noisy and structured again and complete freedom of choice is gone for another day.

I know too many mothers who outperform the men at work yet still joke that they go to the office for a rest. If you ever happen to hear that line, believe it.

I went to collect the children on my own - after all it's freezing cold out there and Husband took them to school today in the first place.

Our son has Asperger's Syndrome - aka Absent Minded Professor Syndrome and for that he is different from many. Daughter, in spite of emerging from the same gene pool, is his polar opposite; neat, structured, willing, tidy, pleasant, conscientious, patient. I love them both to bits although neither is representative of their home environment - I keep joking that Daughter is a throw back to my Mother In Law, who we visit as infrequently as possible. Nonetheless, all things considered my two seem to represent the extremes being highlighted by the recent article The Trouble With Boys, ie the way that the current school system is ignoring certain learning styles, speeds and needs.

I'd argue the toss with Newsweek about that title - the trouble isn't with the boys at all but with the schooling system. I'd also dispute the byline that boys are any more kinetic than girls. Girls have just as much desire to act on things, its just that the female brain seems, by training or inclination, to run an audio digital checklist somewhere between the opportunity and the decision to move. A checklist that goes along the lines of 'would the teacher like it, would mummy tell me off, have I been told this is appropriate.' That's exactly what they are saying the boys do, come puberty. "Would I be laughed at?" is a terrifying thought that runs constantly through the heads of most teenagers, whatever gender, and I think that in all cases the supposed opinion of the immediate peer group holds more sway than that of any adult, male or female.

I leave it to you to discuss whether girls are more sensible or simply more biddable and whether or not the two conditions are the same. Girly girls are certainly easier to educate (as in, not so much work), but you can decide whether being able to rationalise before acting, when that process relies on considering the opinions of others, makes the young female brain more inclined toward leadership, or servitude.
Perhaps we should even be training/freeing females (take your pick) to be more impulsive; not that this would please any educators who have reveled in increasing classroom structure and less need for creative thinking on their part.

Back to my own children. As an example of how male and female brains are built differently (and they are, females form multiple slim connections between left and right hemisphere whilst males tend toward one chunky connection like a fibre optic cable), we have had to give up on family conversations on the way to and from school. Instead we have half way markers, and speak on the topics of choice for one child, then the other.

This morning on the way to school, Daughter, 9, spoke on the pom-poms her class is making at school, using two circles of card and some wool. Son, 11, wanted to talk about renewable power sources, cold fusion and eliminating greenhouse gases, nothing remotely related to the day ahead.

On the way home from school after a day of input, Daughter recounted how she sat next to her best friend at lunch, how she got a hug from the first aid lady after getting a football in the face during (soccer) practice, and how I would need to wash her muddy school plimsolls.

Son made a minor comment about a girl who wrote him a love letter, but that was the end of any feedback from his school day and then he wanted to design memory downloads so you could 'remember' how to fly a helicopter, (like on The Matrix, except he hasn't seen the movie) and wondered how we could train people to access every memory they have ever stored so that the right ones could be copied, zipped and downloaded.

We are all on several sliding scales between extremes and there is no definitive male, female or even human baseline for attitudes or learning styles, independence, tastes, values or opinion. Some of those factors are hardwired and some aren't, but that's not the point.

The scale of relevance here is that some of us will always see the detail and some will see the bigger picture and most will be somewhere between the two. The fact that these inclinations fall into two camps broadly comparative to gender does not in any way make the correlation a rule.

It is the job of the educator to make the material of interest to the extremes and to everyone in between, to appeal to those who need first to be enthused that this is relevant to them, as well as to those who pay attention unquestioningly.

To suggest that an entire gender, let alone children in total, should automatically be of the latter persuasion is unbelievably crass.

Lets Play Squash The Spammer

Are you on Blogger.com, like me? Or are you on Livejournal, Blog.co.uk, MSN Spaces?

Wherever you are, how would you feel about some jerk dreaming up a little system that creates new email addresses, new user names and new individual blogs at roughly one a minute, all containing the same junk? All full of rubbishy text and a million links?

This guy is thinking big, I'll give him/her that. Half the links are to search pages and the rest build up the veracity of those ones, by linking to his/her other mirror blogs on another blogging system.

I mean if you found one on Livejournal and clicked one of the links marked blog, blogger, web-log, each would connect you to a mirror site on blog.co.uk or msn or somewhere else.

He's not trying to fuck with a single system, he's going for them all.

Heres the game:

Do a search on Technorati (see my side bar) and search 'all blogs' for the phrase 'pipelayers and pipefitters'. Last time I looked there were 573 posts in total, 20 of them in the last three days, although that doesn't include the work he's done at blog.co.uk (twenty new weblogs just this morning, now all blocked and being deleted) or at any other hosting service that doesn't support embedding Technorati or the like.

Click on a few, find one (or as many as you like) on your own blog host (or wherever) and report them.

The more complaints the giants get, the quicker they will realise this jerk is using up their bandwidth just for fun and pissing us off into the bargain.

Blogger.com particularly relies on the quantity of 'flags' a site receives, before looking into it, so lets give him hell.

Just make sure its one of his stupid stupid blogs with references to wilkinson and pumpkin seeds and general junk - NOT MY BLOG!!!! This post will be up on Technorati in a short while, I'm sure.

Why not link here, or steal this post entire, I don't mind; just get everyone to shoot this jerk down in flames.

Please? Do you think if we meme'd this we could get 100 people to complain?

Comment to let me know you're in on this :-)


Note: Bloody hell - He's upped and started somewhere else - at BlogEasy - 10 new junk blogs and counting. I was going to ping them and say something, but got to their front page and the five newest blogs there are ALSO spam junk advert blogs, not even his. OK the others are small fry, but really, whats the point of telling them that their badnwidth is being wasted and they are advertising themselves as home to spam and not much else, if they don't even watch their own front page?

My heads hurts, now.

Shame On A Postcard, reprised.

I am feeling rather smug this morning.

I remember a time last year when I first discovered the Post Secrets site. Then, the news went round like a virus, a meme, and I assumed everybody knew. And then I forgot all about it.

Newsweek has finally discovered the site and produced an article - hence the smug sensation. Given that somewhere else the blog is described as the 'third most popular', I should imagine I am not alone in feeling this is a bit of a late discovery on their part.

Nonetheless I was glad to be reminded of it as so, so many more thoughts have been mailed in. It seems like a visit to Post Secrets is a visit to one's own values, particularly when the content is dark or sad and I find myself entering with a level of reverence, stilled preparation for the possibility that every third or fourth card, I will be sharing someone's private hell and their deepest, most painful secret.

All that said, its not a site to visit before breakfast. Already this morning I have tested the urge to feel sympathy and respect by reading a postcard covered in hair clippings that the writer claims to have taken from his/her babysitting charges in their sleep. Then I got left trying to imagine what could have happened to make another woman hate her breasts so much that she hoped for cancer as an excuse to have them removed.

In amongst everything else is a need to be alert for tiny telltale signs that this or that card was not written as an exorcism, but as a joke or an attempt to shock.

Its tiring.

And maybe that's why I stopped visiting, last time.

22 January 2006

404 Error Errors.

Once upon a time you could find a very funny 404 Error page by going to the front page of Google .com, searching for Weapons of mass destruction and clicking "I'm feeling lucky".

Sadly it's long gone, but here's another one which husband came across entirely by accident.

Please click here and read, thoroughly.

The Trouble With Boys

I've found a brilliant article over at Newsweek about boys failing at school.

It's really very indepth and goes on for a few pages, but made me reevaluate the problem with linear schooling as I saw it.

Right now I am fighting for a statement of special educational needs for my son who has Aspergers Syndrome. If he is eventually awarded the assistance that the Educational Psychologist says he needs, the likelihood is that he will be given a female teaching assistant, but now I have read this article I wonder if that is such a good thing.

I especially loved the observation in the article that young men starting out at senior school, 11 to 13 or older, are entirely preoccupied, like teenage primates, with finding their place in the pack. Their world view is totally wrapped up in whether this or that activity makes them look weak. If asking for help appears weak then they just don't ask.

I am fascinated by the amazing effect, in one study, of providing every boy on one program with a male mentor, because somehow then, academic success ceases to be girly, weak, irrelevant and becomes something that earns them the respect of a 'strong' male.

Yes ok so it goes against the pc view of all people as equal, but this is about teaching a child in the throes of testosterone addled misconception. Sometimes you have to step into their world to reach them, and that doesn't mean admitting defeat or in any way subscribing to the male superiority theory. It just means accepting that, during puberty at least, male and female hormones result in you effectively trying to teach the same thing to two different species.

Its not fair to penalise them for not being girls.

Addendum: A feminist view, here.

Free Association 155

LunaNina says ... and I think ... ?

1. Alone:: in a sea of faces
2. Science:: playing jigsaws with the world
3. Deposit:: poo. Doggy left a little deposit on the carpet
4. Faithful:: intrinsic
5. Tender:: sore
6. Chocolate:: addictive substance served in a slab of sugar and fat
7. Homework:: Nah this is two words. Depends what you think of home and how you define work.
8. Tamper:: fiddle, pick at
9. Friend:: listener
10. Wire:: handy thin conductive stuff.

Good grief, never mind where my head wasn't when I answered, I wonder where LunaNina's was when she came up with the list?

21 January 2006

Tum-Tum Tiddly-Pom

I was going to do a cop-out post. By that I mean one where I scour the weird news and put a few links and therefore have to avoid being engaging or intelligent on my own behalf.

I've done it before.

For example there's another parrot, called Sunshine, who recently played guard dog and bit a burglar. He lost nearly all his tail feathers in the fracas but won the fight and drew blood.

There's a guard dog, Kodiak, who harried a flock of sheep out of their burning barn in the middle of the night, and saved their lives, getting himself burned in the process.

There's Aochan, the yard-long rat snake who was given a dwarf hamster for lunch and decided to keep it as a pet/companion, preferring to get used to the taste of frozen rat carcass instead.

You don't believe me. Here they are - a proper odd couple.
There are lots of wonderful things happening this month and up to now it was going so well. Normally January is second only to November for the general bleughs, for people being miserable and exhausted and either growling at each other or taking it out on themselves. Oddly, however, so far, this month had been a surprisingly upbeat.

You can't make a New Year's resolution until you have a game plan. You can't make a game plan until you can see the whole board, and the last three weeks have spoken of fresh starts, new understandings and have in general been unusually demystifying.

At worst, people are facing old wounds, hidden niggles, subliminal defence mechanisms yet it is all resulting in a good old spiritual clean up.

So what do I mean by 'up to now'?

So far all the wrong things have been right; does that make sense? Necessary steps toward a positive. Its all been like an early spring clean, and the vibe is that once the fears and tears are shed, we may be in for a long summer.

Today; today, however, it all hit a wall. I changed nothing, learned nothing, was changed by nothing. It was a pottering, dithering, blank, pleasant, 'there it was and there it was gone', kind of a day. I have nothing new that excited me, no memory that I re-evaluated or revalued. Nothing to blog.

I am pleased to say that the situation feels quite bizarre. Pleased because many times, for many people, this is normality. For some reason, this year, lack of a lesson feels....... odd.

(And maybe that's what I was supposed to work out.)

20 January 2006

I Love You Gary!

Shame the owner's name was Chris.

The poor man's pet parrot told him about his wife's affair by saying "Hi Gary" when her mobile phone rang, and by making kissy smoochy noises whenever the name Gary was mentioned on the TV.

Here's the article.

Of course this resulted in divorce, and no I am not going to start squawking about who gave who the bird and whether they went up before the beak. I could, but I'm not that tragic.

On the other hand, if that's your style, be my guest......

19 January 2006

Lovely Day

Thanks to Tabby Rabbit, who wrote a wonderful post which cheered me up immensely, I went off in search of childish Wellington boots for big female feet. Me, Tabby and Le Laquet, we're all a UK size 7 (that's a US size 8).

I found these:
from Western Chief Women (US but available for import) and I also found these:at Funky Wellington Boots, which is in the UK. Now I'm spoilt for choice and I want them all. Want want want - I guess my inner spoilt kid is coming out to play today.

Then later I got my first comment from Hazel Nutcluster - what a wonderful name! I presume it was chosen in honour of the hazelnut cluster that was in the Cadbury's or Nestle's boxes of chocolates back in the 1970s.

Heres the video for the 1968 'Lady loves Milk Tray' advert. Priceless.

I embarrassed myself by complimenting Hazel on her profile piccy which I said looked a lot like Pippin from Pogles Wood. It WAS Pippin from Pogles Wood and I always adored the programme and am in total confusion that I couldn't recall the cat-come-rabbit looking companion thingy, Tog. I remembered the magic singing tulip tree aka Plant, but I guess that doesn't count. Ahem, Plant, meet everybody. Everybody, meet Plant. He was the best bit of the whole show.

HERE, if you want it, is the short opening narrative and a slice of my childhood.

Its funny, but once you clearly remember one thing, other related memories bubble to the surface, and I remember not just my favourite Oliver Postgate / Smallfilms type programmes such as Pogles Wood, Noggin The Nog, or Ivor The Engine; I remember Watch With Mother and Jackanory, and I remember what it felt like to be watching each show. Good old Oliver; there was always a dragon in there somewhere.

So, for me at least, today has been about the excitement of Plant being really magic, the sensation of sitting next to Pippin to listen to Plant speak, plus the realisation that I really, really, really want the floweryest, biggest, brightest, bestest puddle-jumping wellies in the whole wide world. And I would jump and jump and jump. Except when I go to sleep, cos' then I am going to fly, instead.

Edit: There was no dragon in Pogles Wood. The nearest they got to magic was Plant, plus a witch. Oh and they had hedgepig but he doesn't count. So I messed up again, tut, tut. As a token of penance to true officionados here are:
The end theme to Camberwick Green
The end theme to Trumpton
The end theme to Chigley - where they all left work at the sound of the factory whistle and waltzed round the bandstand. Sung by poor Brian Cant.
I searched for these in honour of a nameless nutty chocolate. Enjoy!

Frozen Anticipation

Just got told that Siberia is at -40 degrees and the weather is coming this way.


Here it says its only -22. Well gosh, that sounds snuggly in comparison.

Here it says things have started already - Severe Weather Warnings for about the whole of Scotland, today.

Just the thought is making me wish I'd put thermals on everybody's Christmas list. Brrr.

18 January 2006

Twilight Zone

I'd like to say that my husband has come back home.

As with each one of these NLP classes/sessions he has been on, the truth is that most of Husband is back.

Husband with more spring in his step. Husband minus stress.

Its weird and I panic and interrogate him for hours about what happened, what he worked through or realised, how he adjusted his outlook.

In the middle of this time away he phoned after a particular breakthrough. I hesitate to compare this to religious/spiritual healing, but hey, if you've ever felt released and zapped, thats just how he sounded. Not off with the fairies, just three or four stone lighter.

My stomach has been in knots, quite literally, waiting to see who was coming home to me.

His back aches now, because of all the physical unwinding he did, automatically, from the release of emotional tensions. For the first time in as long as I have known him he has completely normal feeling in his 'frozen shoulder'. I say frozen and mean it - it looked and worked normally but you could have drawn a kitchen knife across the skin on that shoulder blade and he wouldn't have noticed.

I wonder lots of things.

I wonder how many changes in his outlook will become apparent over the next few weeks, whether the adjustments to the dynamics of the relationship will seem like a gift to me, a release of pressure, or whether they will irk that part of me which has grown too used to tough negotiations.

I wonder whether his ulcers will clear up and whether he should try a day without the tablets in a week or so, just to see how bad the symptoms are.

I love him and I'm proud of him and delighted for him, but me, I'm in limbo. Again.

I guess that at least, now, the readjustment can begin. Pragmatic, thats me. I'd sooner get the news, good or bad, than sit here wondering what it might be. I hate being impotent and I guess thats how I've felt for the past three days.

Here we go....

17 January 2006

Good Time Gal

Given the plethora of synonyms for genitalia (yeah get a dictionary) I am pleasantly surprised to realise that derogatory nouns meaning 'lady who does' are not so profuse as I had first assumed.

OK witty phrases, similes and analogies are rampant, there are apparently a great many ways to describe a lady as a good time had by all, but only in so many words. One-word titles seem to be a bit thin on the ground.

Thanks to Lady Muck for offering up skank as another one for the list.

Speaking of which, I am stealing a Meme from her and will, ahem, be spreading it about.

1. Hum a jingle of which you know all the words. LOUDER. Now write it down so we can remember it too.
Long grain rice all the way from America
Red peppers, green peppers, juicy green beans
Carrots and peas and a pinch of Cecily
Batchelors Savoury Rice.

OK cringe. It was done with a Southern Country Music lilt and there was a comedy sketch on some show or other where a girl called Cecily got her bottom pinched. Yes this was awful freeze dried stuff presumably also saturated with monosodium glutamate and it came out at around the same time as Vesta curries. The ones with one raisin and a bit of dried apple in them that might have been waved somewhere in the vicinity of half a gramme of curry powder, except you couldnt really tell. Once upon a bland and British time the most dishwatery delicacies were new and exotic. Pah.

2.As a kid, you played a board game over and over. And you cheated. What was it?

It was cards and it was Cheat, which I believe the US players know as Bullshit? I worked out that if you habitually put your cards down in a very tidy manner, you could tell the truth about your top cards, but slide three or four that you entirely neglected to mention on to the bottom of the pile you laid down. Then you always won if you got called out and it looked like the person before you was the cheat, not you.

3.What was the name of a song you have been singing the incorrect words to all these years. What were you singing, and what should you be singing?

Um, Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners. I know I got laughed at but don't know the real words, nor what I was chanting in their place. I was in Church youth group when Bohemian Raphsody topped the charts for something like 12 weeks, and wow, I got the album, which had all the words. Had a huge row with a friend who insisted it went:
Scaramouche Scaramouche has the Devil got a sack for me.
After that it made me think of Father Christmas with horns.

4. What embarrasing childhood story do your parents bring out just to mess with you for their own amusement?

My father would never. My mother had no such qualms. I think her favourite (I was what, 10, 11?) was the time that I was indoors alone and took a bath after reading in Tina magazine that oatmeal in a muslin bag softened the water and was good for your skin. I was a creative child, when I wanted, but still, somehow chocolate Ready Brek tied in a knot in the foot of a pair of her tights and hung over the bath taps into the water didn't seem to make me feel very well at all. By memory she told everybody, including potential boyfriends, for the next ten years.

I Tag: Zilla, Writermom, Ally, Bulb and anyone else brave enough. Just say so in the comments so I know to come look!

Girls Who Do

After the last post and the lack of reaction to the bike reference, I had a word with Steve over at Wittering Heights.

I needed to make sure that the inference and the slang use was at least UK wide rather than just local, but, as Steve is Steve, we ended up having a right laugh and remembering a few more.

Bike is a UK derogatory term for a loose woman. Bike meaning bicycle meaning something everybody has ridden.

You can also be a Martini (anytime, any place, anywhere),
an Arkwright (Open All Hours), or
the local margarine (spreads easily).

I may add to this when I have had a word with my older daughter. Steve and I are of an age and these slang terms mostly seem to have come from TV shows and advertisments that our generation grew up with. I am therefore certain that a whole lot more have come into use since then, names that I don't know about but Big Daughter would.

Still in the meantime here are all the other current and active one-word terms for an easy lay that I can think of:

Scrubber, slag, slapper, slut, tart, tramp, hussy, strumpet, trollop, whore (ho).

There must be more, I must just be having a mental block. So, any ideas?

P.S. I Guess I've just lined myself up for a post on search terms that find my blog. Sad, that. ;-)

16 January 2006

Too Perfect!

Stole this from Steve who lifted it from Le Laquet.

Number 9, I have to say, is completely true. I used to terrify my poor mother.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Cheryl!

  1. Pacman was originally called cherylman.
  2. More people are killed by cheryl each year than die in aeroplane accidents.
  3. Early thermometers were filled with cheryl instead of mercury.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, cheryl is not successful at sobering up a drunk person, and in many cases she may actually increase the adverse effects of alcohol.
  5. Cheryl was the first Tsar of Russia.
  6. The state nickname of Iowa is 'The cheryl state'.
  7. It took cheryl 22 years to build the Taj Mahal.
  8. Banging your head against cheryl uses 150 calories an hour!
  9. Cheryl can sleep with one eye open.
  10. The first cheryl was made in 1853, and had no pedals!
I am interested in - do tell me about

Erm, excuse me, but did it just call me a bike?

15 January 2006

Free Association 154

Trigger words provided, weekly, by LunaNina.

I didn't get very far with these this week, but hey, at least I did it.

  1. Paralyzed:: by indecision
  2. Bossy:: me
  3. Worth:: value
  4. Breathing:: meditation
  5. Uneventful:: day
  6. Return:: to sender
  7. Splint:: pain
  8. Notice:: something
  9. Hero:: Manners
  10. Vulnerable:: nah, I'm stuck. What isn't vulnerable? That's just life.

14 January 2006

Doing My Head In

I don't normally, even on my most hyperactively bored weekends, blog four times in one day.


CJ is doing my head in.

Alright, I'm probably mucking with his chemical balance too, because I normally read his stuff; posts, comments etc, over Husband's shoulder, and have never actually logged in to say 'Hi' before.

I've posted on one of his blogs (the link above) several times today and I don't want to begin to imagine what sort of first impression that gives.

The thing is, he's set a quiz and I LOVE QUIZZES! He has quoted ten sets of lyrics from ten movies or stage musicals and asked for the name of the film or show that each one comes from. I am soooo completely stuck on number three, in spite of him extending the lyrics sample there for more of a clue.

So: here are the words; do YOU know?

Within these walls our highest goal is to maintain decorum
Your head held high, your shoulders back, your carriage civilised
Don’t express opinions, Learn to be a wife
Think of the joys of Marriage, Poise and Carriage
Every day the teaching seems more trivial
How to saunter, courtsey and recline
Can't we all discuss the great philosophers?
No! Instead it's how to walk in line
Far beyond the city gates
Home is where my lover waits
Instad its manners, Breeding,
Pleading to be dead
HEEEEELP! I don't want to win any more, I just want to know the answer. Obviously, given the inherent sexism, its historical, what with women having to do what they're told and steering clear of brain-taxing concepts. I guess because CJ confirms its historical and courtseys are involved, we are talking anywhere in roughly 500 years from the end of the 19th century back.


A Good Jamoke

Got this one from Jamoker.

You'll love this; it really is the best blonde joke, ever.

Word Of The [insert nonspecific time measurement]

The Word Of The (whatever) is:


Jane said she didn't know what it meant.

Answers.com has a few definitions, but I subscribe to my own:
obviously priveliged, with intentional or unintentional airs and graces.

I guess you could say, for example, that all men with moneyed backgrounds, who attended Yale and belong to expensive private clubs are posh.

There are three possible roots for this word.

The earliest is 19th century UK slang. Posh then meant money, specifically a halfpenny, and stemmed from the Romany word pash, meaning half.

Later the word posh was published in an 1890 dictionary of slang, as meaning 'a dandy'. Dandies were foppish, vain, overdressed gentlemen; the designer label yuppies of their time, if not the more moneyed chavs with their bling. A bit Laurence Llewelyn Bowen.

The most popular suggestion, albeit the most modern, is that the word stems from an acronym. Apparently when the really well-heeled folk travelled between the UK and India around 1918, they booked rooms that not only looked out to daylight (the First Class accomodation) but also switched sides of the vessel for each leg of the return trip, to get the view most likely to be broken by occasional sightings of land instead of just sea and more sea. To that end they travelled out to India in a berth to port (the left) and back to England in one to starboard (the right). Port Out, Starboard Home.

(To be completely fair, you probably needed enough cash that you looked like a right dandy, to afford to be so picky.)

Bl**dy Men

Or rather more specifically, one bloody man.

Husband has blogged a very short but completely true conversation from last night. Do NOT ask me how my Aspie Son's mind graduated from the torments of true love, via the intricacies of Star Wars on his Gameboy, to the potential pleasures and dangers of masturbation. It just did. This is the kid who looked up from playing 007 over Christmas to thoughtfully comment that "James Bond, he's a bit of a sex pest really, isn't he?"

Apparently wooing a girl in every port is amoral, in Son's world. Its not enough of an issue to stop playing the game; just an observation, so it seems I have a deep, romantic little soul here, with an inbuilt tendency toward (at least serial) monogamy.

Anyway, here's the latest as reported by Husband (the evil swine):

This evening my 11 year old come out with a classic…..

Sitting playing his X-box he looks up at me blogging and the conversation proceeds as follows.

SON “Dad if you wank can it kill you”?

After picking myself off the floor…….
ME “it will make you go blind”…..
SON “Your joking”.
ME “Look at me I have to wear glasses”
SON “ No honestly can it harm you”?
ME “ Every time you do it God kills a kitten”!
Daughter (9) screams “it was you that killed my kitten”! to her brother running crying from the room….
Taken ten minutes to calm her down and apologise.

This is mostly true. Daughter also screamed that she hated both of them, wailed all the way to the other end of the house then wailed her way back to just outside the living room door, to a position suited to shouting sobbing protestations from a safe distance. Scarlett O'Hara, eat your heart out. I was cracking up. My ribs hurt.

Husband in sweet, helpful voice: Oh, darling, its not true, and look, mummy's crying too! (I was, sort of)

Daughter, enraged: She's not! She's bloody laughing! Waaaah!

She lamented her way up the house again but slowly came back. Once I had her by my side to talk to, this is how it went:

Me: Darling, rotten daddy was just winding Son up. Do you know what wank means?

Daughter stares blankly

Me: It means playing with your private tickly bits.

Daughter stays wide eyed

Me: And sometimes when boys are growing up, they wake up in the morning and their willy sticks out and feels even more tickly, and then sometimes they play with it.

Daughter (with a big smile like she's got the point): Oh! Daddy does that!

Me: Eh? What? When?

Daughter: You know, when he's lying on the sofa with the telly button (does action of one hand clicking button, other hand defensively clasping crotch)

Me: Oh that! No, thats a bit rude, but wanking usually involves going into your pants and getting it out so you can tug on it properly. Its private.

I have to say that there was more to the earlier discussion, specifically I had remarked that fiddling about can only make little boys go blind if they poke their own eyes afterward before washing their hands. Because of this, Daughter led our current conversation on to wonder, in hushed and gossipy tones, whether her brother had washed his hands recently.

She then forgot all about her lost (and presumably deceased) kitten and skipped off happily (smugly, even), pausing only to eye her brother up and down and point at him in a "haha you're mucky and rude!" kind of a way.


13 January 2006

The Love Letter Saga Continues

From here.

Son went back to school yesterday and like a secret agent tried desperately to find a chance to palm his reply to the young lady without anyone noticing. He never found his opportunity, in spite of her finding three or four non-reasons to hover quite close in unspoken hope during breaktimes.

They were in each others breathing space, in public, unable to say a word, and apparently it was torture.

He and his letter of reply went back to school again today, but, somewhere along the line, parted company, and this is where he realised quite how expert he had been at speaking in code.

The letter was handed in to his teacher who saw it was addressed to "?" and saw the self effacing way he had belittled his move up to the top maths set. In truth his admirer had been on the same table as him before he was moved up and had made a lot of how clever he is and how sad she is. He had replied that her handwriting was wonderful and that the silly maths test might have made him 'look like Einstein' (sic) but that top set wasn't all that wonderful.

Teacher asked him about the letter. He dared to make a lunge for it and insisted it was very private. She concluded, from that, that there were deep feelings involved, and that these were to do with top maths set not being wonderful.

There followed a very long (if one sided) heart to heart while she tried to get him to talk about his fears, stressed that he should bring worries like this to her attention, but managed to get no feedback from him at all barring a Bart like insistence that it 'wasn't him'; that his mother (me) had written most of it anyway, entirely against his wishes of course. Thanks Son.

She didn't buy that and so it went on and she was reduced to examining possible scenarios out loud. "Well now, if....." and all that.

She was doing her best and in the end gave him the letter back, saying he wasn't to bring any more like that into school but was to talk to her, instead.

After school he told me all about his thwarted love life and his annoyance at realising someone else must have found and read the letter, to find his name on it and give it to the right teacher. He was imagining worst case scenarios and generally cringing, but by the time we got home I had a rough picture of what really happened.

I've just got off the phone from speaking to Teacher, who was mercifully still in the building after hours on a Friday. It took quite a while for her to come to the phone although the secretary who went to get her was back in the office almost immediately, and I suspect she steeled herself by completing other things before picking up the handset, expecting a different tone of conversation.

Meanwhile son was furious that his business was being spread to all and sundry, but once Teacher realised that the whole thing was to do with respecting the wishes of an admirer from the lower maths set who had sworn undying love and also sworn him to absolute secrecy, in short that his total lack of cooperation was to do with a lady's honour, she started expressing relief, then laughing, and ended up aww-ing and cooing about how sweet it all was.

Son currently remains stony faced (may he never discover poker), trying to decide whether to admit his own relief that his teacher isn't even more angry (to him, plain speaking of concern/forcing him to listen = angry), or to berate me for the next 48 hours solid that now the entire teaching staff will know and it will be all my fault.

I think I got away with it.

12 January 2006


Regarding the post below:

Relax. Its only 47 seconds long. The phone or the recording sucks, not me. No I don't have a lisp. No I'm (sadly) not drunk, either. On the other hand neither am I so squeaky in the normal course of things - it's just that I got the bleep alert to start recording and the back of my head started screaming obscenities at me, along the lines of 'What the F do you think you are playing at you sad retard.'

I am never cruel, but the back of my mind is pure evil. I am taking into a corner now, to have words.

Playing in the background is my favourite Pink track never to have been issued as a single, so I can't find a full mp3 or video online to link to. Its called 18 Wheeler, off the Missundaztood album, and worth it's weight in gold (ok ok so a track, as such, has no weight.) Resilient, defiant and fun. Go find.
this is an audio post - click to play

11 January 2006

Oh The Drama

Son is 'off sick' today. At eleven years old and in the final year of junior school, he has received his first secret, 'tell no-one or I'll die' love letter. In very flowery lettering, after all the warnings to tell nobody, she declared that she loves him from the bottom of her everlasting heart. Quote. He is to find out who she is and then come and see her about going public.

I've had two days now of him veering between demanding that her wishes be respected, and sitting there staring at it mumbling things like 'Oh my God this is shit scary.' Yesterday he realised that even the paper was scented.

I've watched him procrastinate as hard as he possibly can about writing a letter back, although in his worldview it would be unthinkable to just walk up to the girl that he has been told (but can't prove) wrote the note. A written reply it has to be, and he hates writing.

Yesterday, inspite of her warnings, word had obviously crept out from her side of things and he was inundated with pupils, even from other years, asking him if he was in love with Ms X. With no written reply to pass via her friend who is playing postman, he decided to fend them all off with 'That's private information and I can't tell you.'

At least the fear of being bullied and belittled by some of the nosier boys in his class has abated, albeit only under the new sensation that every pair of eyes in the school will be on him until they meet and hold hands; or not.

Today, waking to realise that he still hadn't put his thoughts to paper, he developed the kind of angst that goes to the stomach. Grey, listless, panicky and veering constantly between wanting to go to school and wanting to hide under a rock whilst doing an excellent impression of a drama queen throughout for a solid hour and a half, he wore me down. I sent his sister to school by taxi and phoned in to say he had stomach cramps and was off sick.

I was looking for the picture here, which about covers it really, when he asked if he could use his dad's computer. That was it.

There is now a 208 word love letter ready to be printed off, composed, corrected and completed in under half an hour. School would be so proud; he certainly is; being decided that he has stated his feelings plainly. Well plainly enough that if the letter gets stolen he won't be a laughing stock.

It starts with a smiley, ends with yours happily and tells her how impressed he is - that it 'took a lot of guts'(sic) to write the first letter, which remains secret as requested.

Well, not that secret obviously, now his rotten mother has blogged it - but he doesn't know that.

The stomach ache is gone and replaced by a silly grin. He can't wait to get to school but at this precise moment feels it will have to wait until tomorrow because going in late, today, would be 'too obvious.' His words.

Meantime he has gone in search of his personal CD to listen to some music - something fulfilling and uplifting and levelling, something that makes him feel like things are all working out. In his case, that's Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches (Crazy in the coconut - that boy needs therapy.)

I love him!

10 January 2006

I Wish.....

I stole this from Wulfie.
Because I wouldn't.
I couldn't.

But it is a lovely idea......

The Year The Adverts Made Me Cry

Get one thing straight. I don't do wimpy and hopeless. It is anathema to me - revolting and beyond all humiliation. Crawling under a rock to die cannot be an option - so when I say 'cry' I mean total, absolute exhaustion and anger and self pity and a whole host of ugly and furious emotions.

Dissatisfaction is a wonderful thing. That might sound perverse but only a vegetable would be content wherever it was, so its a good sign that you are alive, that you have goals, that it won't always be like this. As proof, if you've ever felt enraged at something and looked up to see others in the same position, blankly carrying on as if there was nothing wrong, don't they always look like sheep? Like cows vacantly chewing the cud?

I digress.

I've been over to Jess' site today. She is a 29 year old mother of three, and seriously pissed off at being stuck in a rut. Quite rightly, she used her blog to explain that in no uncertain terms. Very therapeutic this blogging malarky - allows you to spit all your fire so you can turn round gently when the kids want something else (only the tenth thing in the last five minutes) without doing your scary impression of Mrs Loony-lady-on-the-edge.

I nearly commented, I mean I have a whole load of things I did, approaching 30 and a single mum myself (jobless, even, then) and I wanted to share. Her friends who know her better seemed to be offering hugs more than advice, so I stopped myself.

It's a terrible temptation, when you know it all, to share with people whether they want you to or not, you know. Eeh, its hard being omnipotent. Ahem, see my life path number in the post below. That's me. Perfect. So no more bloody argument.

Here, anyway, are some of the certifiable behaviours I exhibited back then, just to have an outlet for self expression.
  1. I would find a bit of countryside, or by preference a railway bridge with a train going under, and SCREAM as loud and as hard as I could. Just one scream, one full power, pre-prepared, full venom Graaa type scream. Wonderful.
  2. Stack all the sofa cushions in a corner and talk to them abusively like they were the bastard son of a something that had irked me, whilst simultaneously kicking the shit out of them until I was right out of breath. Very important that. Anger produces adrenalin. Unexpressed adrenalin saps you of all your energy, and then starts screwing with your liver. Better out than in.
  3. Do the Jane Fonda Workout twice a day. I was on overdrive at this stage. OK creepy ex was cruising past the flat to check up on me /terrify me at 2 or 3 am, so I'd learned to listen hard enough from a third floor flat to hear wheels creeping up with the engine off, and then to hear the handbrakeso I'd know it was only a car. (The sound of a Honda CX500 engine can still make me jump, so can the sight of an old Polaris fairing.) I was keeping a large saucepan under the bed to defend myself and my kids, because I didn't want to stab him and go to jail. Anyway, in that state I was living on coffee, smokes and pure adrenalin, so Jane Fonda was easy. It backfired slightly in that it only took a month for me to simultaneously feel great and look like something from Belsen. Honestly. I was never built to be seven stone. It back-back fired because people assumed I was having a tough time, when for the first time in ages I felt in control, so suddenly I got a lot more attention and offers of help. Little things like tips about the local Gingerbread club, etc, invitations round for coffee. I guess when you look stern but healthy people don't like to pry - whereas when you look half dead the nicer ones step straight in.
The one time I really got upset was at Christmas, the first Christmas I had covered on my own, on benefits handouts. It was bad enough that my daughter's friend upstairs was showing off the newest trainers when all my kids had were stocking fillers - things bought for a pound, one at a time, over the whole year. My cousin found out I had no money even for pound shop decorations, and sent me a load, after I'd sat up all night with the sewing machine and crepe paper I cut into strips, running up old fashioned garlands and a few big bows. We had a secondhand fake christmas tree - 3' tall and made of silver tinsel, with the tinsel nearly all gone. I made parcels as decorations for it, using wrapping paper scraps and old matchboxes.

I was fine; I was even proud of what I'd achieved and knew that relatives would give the kids decent gifts. OK so some less insightful people thought I was a little weird insisting that satsumas and mince pies were only for Christmas day and shouldn't be eaten before that. I pretended it was family tradition. Really they were the only 'special' between meals stuff that I had, to make Christmas day stand out, and anyway not enough of them to start sooner. If someone had fed the kids full of either before the day, then that would have been all the difference and excitement sucked out of it.

The kids weren't so far from losing the other parent and as we lived in a flat I always humoured them by having the TV on while they got to sleep, just so that if they settled and then stirred, there wasn't that moment of fear that it was too quiet and I might have left them too.

I didn't really used to watch TV - I read or pottered about being an anal perfectionist housewife. I'm not naturally domesticated, but we are talking about a time in my life when spotting a streak of dirt or speck of dust was as much achievement and change of scenery as I was going to get. Once the kids were in bed, slam, that was me on lockdown for the night, indoors on my own, same as all single parents.

Sat on the living room carpet however, safe to get presents out of hiding and wrap them, but not safe to turn the TV off, I had no choice but to absorb what was spewing from the box in the corner. I was already offended by the Maxell cassette tape adverts - they would play a tape of a classical singer to make a crystal glass smash 'because the recording was so pure'. I was already angry beyond belief that advertising executives could smash something so expensive and then rub it in your face five times a day. That glass was worth, what, 100 tins of savers baked beans? 100 meals?

Once I'd got my dander up, once my anger and therefore my focus were aimed at the TV, then it hit me between the eyes and I couldn't tear myslef away. Sandemans Port, visually proclaiming that it was the best thing to go with your huge block of blue cheese on your huge and expensively adorned dining table in your huge detached house - you know, the one with the huge front drive for all your disgustingly wealthy looking relatives to park their BMWs and come in and share the bottle. Advert after advert after advert - it wasn't the product that got to me, ever, but the lifestyle they were selling and the assumption that joe ordinary could even aspire to faking that sort of sumptuous living, just once a year. The conclusion I came to that so many people had it all, and didn't even know they had it all, while I had sod all, had given the lot to my kids and it still looked like nothing. And I cried.

Please go over to Jess' site - Just Some Thoughts and say good things to her. Say 'Awww', say 'I promise it gets better', even say 'I'm with you girl the world IS full of bullshit', just say something, ok?

Oh and Jess, my mother once said to me that when your kids are ten years older, you look and feel ten years younger. I shrugged it off as a vacuous and unhelpful platitude, until about a decade later, I happened to realise she'd been right.

Hang on in there.

09 January 2006

Follow My Leader....

Your Life Path Number is 22

Your purpose in life is to use your power for good

Of all the life paths, yours has the most innate power.
Your power lies in your vision, and you must recruit others to help you in this vision.
You are able to be a great idealist, but you still have the practicality to get things done.

In love, you tend to be a big romantic - but you also tend to keep your distance.

You have a lot of potential, and it's sometimes hard to live up to.
Sometimes you just feel like slipping into obscurity and doing nothing.
You tend to be prone to dramatic emotions, until you step back and look at things honestly.

Okay so thats a whackjob religious leader who likes to veer between being a total drama queen, and hiding under a rock.



If you talk in Huna / NLP terms, then a 'block' is a mental block to behaviour that you consciously aim for, also variously known as shooting yourself in the foot, cutting off your nose to spite your face or over reacting.

Husband has one tiny but very significant and deeply embedded self-defeating habit that annoys him to the Nth degree, to the point that he never looked at the knock on effects (ie the idea that it annoys me too, or that him constantly getting anoyed like he's the only one it annoys, annoys me even more.) You following this?

Anyhow, as he is in the middle of NLP training, its something he almost has the tools to sort out. He went one step further and announced he was going to get it sorted, by asking for a session with someone when he goes away to finish the course this month.

This was actually an amazing revelation, the issue had come to a head and frustrated him more than he was prepared to accept, me too; and as a result we talked and came to an agreement.

The agreement is that if he chickens out of getting this sorted I will make his life hell, on account of how he has given me room to imagine my beloved without this thorn in his side. I want my man whole, healed and hunky, the way he was born to be. Very exciting.

Well, he has had his revenge and presented me with the Tony Robins Personal Power tapes. He says they didn't do him much good because his NLP training meant he was counting triggers and anchors and all the little tricks used to make the words stick, instead of hearing what was said. Fair dos, but he obviously hopes that I will be less aware and able to let the suggestions slide straight on in to my subconscious. It seems like we are having a personal revamp swap, but I am playing my part, because I want him free of this single glitch of his, so very badly.

You take a rock and polish it, you've got a nicer rock. I hope that will happen to me. I see him more as metal than rock, so am far more anxious to see him happy because I really think he'd shine.

Today I listened to tape/disc one of the Tony Robbins stuff.

Three feet from my computer screen, I slumped back in my chair, closed my eyes and dropped down to low alpha, or theta, to make the voice and the message the only information getting in. I did everything I could.

It worked, I was mesmerised.

It worked too well, I fell asleep.

Now I am supposed to act on the list of two jobs/targets I had to write down as a result of the session, but it's as much as I can do to type this, which at least doesn't involve much movement.

I must be getting old, because now all I want to do before I get the kids from school is slope off to bed. Off for forty winks. How useless I am.

Dream Interpretation 101

I posted a weird dream a couple of days ago, but have since had a couple of days to work out what my residual feelings about it are.

Often, once you get over a dream, it leaves an aftertaste - in other words the most powerful emotion associated with it is the last one to remain, so it is best to look over what you experienced and let it ride for a while, returning to it to see what effect it still has. There is nothing gnawing at me, no sense of guilt or concern, so I'm fine.

Someone, however, very kindly offered to send me an interpretation privately and warned me it was a 'bad news' dream, so that's what I want to address here, the concept of bad news dreams, which I don't believe exist. All those dream interpretation books that terrify people with statements such as 'dreaming of losing a tooth means a member of your family will die' - they are all so much damaging hooey.

Dream or vision?

To start we have to distinguish between a regular dream and what we would call a vision, ie between your own head working stuff out and the possibility of someone or something else flying in to tell you stuff you didn't know. In a nutshell it's the WTF factor.

Visions are generally called that because the viewer feels disassociated from the creation of the scene - all the action is experienced in a 'where did that come from?' kind of way, so you end up feeling totally convinced that there was no way you could have made it up yourself.

That's not to say that all visions are visions - look at schizophrenia, where the mind conjures up voices that say things so apparently at odds with the sufferer's own outlook, that they end up convinced they are being instructed by an alternate power.

Clairaudience differs, in that, apparently, all schizophrenic 'voices' are male. Scientists now believe that the brain stores male voices in one place and female voices somewhere else, near or in the area associated with music. That is such a handy excuse for men to treat women's speech as background noise (like lift musack) that I hesitate to mention it, but then again, if you do 'hear' disembodied female voices then you probably don't have a classically defined mental illness; which is nice for you.

Life Jigsaws

Dreams, however upsetting, that do not leave you with an unsettling sensation of third party involvement, are simply dreams, and by that I mean communication of the subconscious, not the astral body, or some guide or guardian angel, or God. Just you.

Its like getting a front seat to watch your subconscious string things together; this goes with this and that goes with that and action A will or won't have consequence B.

Some of the stuff your head dredges up to associate with recent learning can be absolutely years old. I guess you could say its like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle when there's no picture and no edge pieces. Your head might suddenly realise that a piece of the picture that it laid down when you were six actually fits perfectly with a piece you just attained and that the two together begin to make sense, if you place them somewhere else in the grand scheme. Its all shuffle and reshuffle, test joins and accept or discard them.

Physical Influences.

Its been long said that if you drip water on someone's face while they sleep, they will dream of something like drowning. If you leave the boiler on overnight, or wrap up too tight and overheat, you can dream of being trapped, or chased, or anything that incorporates building up an uncomfortable heat.

Once these things happen and reach your subconscious, they throw a curve ball in - a sudden change of circumstance, and the dream will try to stay real whilst incorporating that, so everything after that point is useless. Its all just built around a jigsaw piece that doesn't fit and however stressed you are when you wake, that piece will be discarded once you are aware that it had a physical root rather than an emotional one.


This leaves interpretation of a straightforward dream, without physical influences, and that really is a doddle.

Every item and every person is you, because each one, good or bad, represents a thought or emotion of yours.

Sometimes your dream labels real people.
I had a dream once that I woke up outside my own front door, wearing a clown suit. I had to knock to be let in. My (ex) husband let me in and I found a woman we both knew, in my kitchen and making the tea like she owned the place. That was just my subconscious trying to tell me to get my head out of my own butt and realise the suspicion that she was trying her luck and interested in my partner, that she was making a fool of me. It was a dream about what I knew about her, deep down, so 'she' was still the sum of my knowledge of the real one. A representation of a clump of facts as well as emotions, but still a part of me.
In a subsequent dream I stamped on 'her' repeatedly until all the air came out of her like a blow up doll , folded her up tiny, sealed her in a bag and dropped her down the drain never to return. That time 'she' represented the nagging frustration that I was taunting myself with, that I had let a slapper get that close in the first place. It wasn't about her so much as about exorcising the anger I had left over.

Your house is your situation.

The people and monsters are all elements of your emotions. They either cluster into imaginary people, bodies to hold 'one way of looking at things' or into recognisable faces if they relate specifically to that 'real' person.

Scary corridors mean elements of your psyche you have previously avoided investigating.

Battling a monster means you are scared of something, running from it means you are trying not to face up to something.

All the people who tell you things are just ifs and buts and maybes.

'I can do this' means that, on an emotional/spiritual level at least, you can do this; flying, shape shifting, walking under water.

Water is a place where you are not supposed to be able to breathe. You are not supposed to be able to switch between that and the air. That's fact. To experience it in your dreams is to work out that you are perfectly capable of doing something that your rational, waking mind, says you shouldn't be able to do. Its great, its an undoing of social taboos (which explains why Freud, in a day when women were either wives or prostitutes and had no public lavatories because officially they didn't have legs or genitalia, put pretty much everything down to sex.) 98% of what was socially taboo was sex related.

Going up high means getting a better view, whether that's improving yourself or taking a look at things from outside the box. Going down means investigating deeper into the foundations of what makes you you.

If you summarise the situation, you can always, always diagnose it. I felt I changed, I felt inadequate, I felt like I didn't know what I was doing, I felt elated.

If you are always King in your dreams, then watch real life - you may have a bit of a superiority complex. If you dream of being shamed or derided then you secretly feel a little inadequate, like you are having to bluff your way through when awake.

If you often talk to dead people (dreams, guys, not visions) then you could be either:
having a revelation (which would feel like accessing secrets), or
reviewing semi redundant character traits or reactions that you had filed away as an old way of thinking ('dead' elements of yourself reanimated), or,
you could just be feeling special, that you have a natural gift for something that you had viewed as impossible.

If the others in your dream are shocked, surprised or dismissive of any dream-skill, then, remembering they are all you, then you are comparing what you would have thought or expected(the crowd of you) with what might actually be the case (the experience.) Whenever anyone, waking or sleeping decides 'People will think X', what they mean is, 'If I were an outsider watching this, I would think X'.


There are no dreams that interpret the future; those are visions and if you have one you can tell it apart.

All dreams are investigations of what's going on in your head right now and sometimes the possible consequences.

Accept that, learn to do logic puzzles or mental jigsaws, and you've got it sorted.