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orange spiral
OK, so there was a bit of a hoohah over on Shuttercal. I was going to keep shtum but... well, you'll see. I had great hopes for it, but it wasn't to be. is a site where you can upload your photo of the day, then re-live your life in pictures by revisiting your calendar page. Way I saw it: in years to come I could go, Hey, what was I doing in April Zero-Nine, and there it would all be, in glorious technicolour. Somewhat like my Livejournal but, um, in pix. So I joined. So far, so good.

Except that, roughly one week later, I discovered that the guys who run Shuttercal are somewhat dictatorial on the subject of censorship vs. freedom of speech. Basically, they don't like it when their members speak out loud.

I will try to keep this brief.

It started when a good friend of mine, also on Shuttercal, was suddenly spammed by another Shuttercal member about their new online store, the day they opened it. Hey! Go check out the T-shirts! She wasn't happy about that, so she complained via their blog, because she couldn't find a 'report' link. The Shuttercal guys got arse-y about the fact that she was complaining, and deleted her (perfectly polite) concerns from their blog within minutes of her posting them. They then moved the 'argument' -their words - to her personal Shuttercal page, to the comments section of the last photo she posted. The reason they gave for all of this was that they "wanted everyone to play nice".

It's hard to keep this very long and arduous story short, without losing something in the translation. There was much to-ing and fro-ing, and I have no wish to reproduce the he-said-she-said of it all here. Trust me, it was tedious in the extreme. The thrust of it was that Shuttercal were pissed off with my friend for expressing her opinion even though she didn't ask to get spammed. If she had received no answer to her original query she might have forgotten about it and gone away. As it was, they spent some considerable effort cooking up many spurious reasons as to why it was Not OK for her to speak freely on a public blog, or on her personal page on their site. Along the way they contradicted themselves many times, and their reasons became more and more illogical and surreal.

At some stage I got involved, only in so far as I wanted to express support for my friend, but also I was having qualms about entrusting my own photos to a bunch of eejits who would press the delete button soon as look at you. As soon as I expressed my opinion, also politely, they deleted it within two minutes, too. Their response times are truly impressive! They quickly accused me of being a troll, saying they would "...not have unwarranted cries of censorship go on unabated".

Irony, anyone? Accusations of unwarranted censorship with one breath, firing the delete button with the next.

My opinion is that on Shuttercal, nobody is allowed to say anything unless it is forty-nine flavours of lovely. One hint of critiscism, and you're gone. This includes comments anyone makes to your personal page, if the owners don't think they're kosher.

Last time I visited, I noticed that both my page, and that of my friend, have been deleted without any warning or notification. 'S fine with me, since the site has no 'delete account' function, and I wasn't looking forward to sorting that out.

I hesitate to invoke Godwin's Law - oh, go on then. are a bunch of Nazis.

In conclusion: Avoid.

So: where am I going from here? If anyone wants to document their life in pictures on a daily basis, I'm very excited about Momentile, who I heartily recommend as an alternative. At the moment you need an invite as they're in their alpha stage, but comment on here and I'll send you one. Soon they're going full-on live.


Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is begging the question; discuss.

I'll accept snark, tangents, the Picasso school of Physics and good old-fashioned Bad Science.

[EDIT - Oh, and common or garden reasoned argument, of course.]


knock knock joke
You know, I can write. I can write very well, if I do say so myself, and on any subject, with due research. But I am pants at running a business. I'm far better at being employed than self-employed. This whole touting myself to websites or indeed terrestrial businesses who may or may not want a writer like me - it freaks the hell out of me. I lack self-confidence I guess.

What I need is a partner, or a business manager, or an agent, for a share of the spoils, natch. Or failing that, someone with a fucking big boot, to kick my ass.

Sometimes you gotta tackle these things crabwise.


orange spiral
Ma, I'm sure this sauce would work with white fish (I had something similar in Goa) or with Quorn. But besides you guys and myself, I had baggy in mind when I was making it.

Basically, armed with the vaguest of notions from previous experience, and about a dozen different internet recipes none of which fit my storecupboard, I concocted the following recipe (so you don't have to). It makes enough for 4-8lbs of chicken depending on how saucy you like it; I used around a quarter of it on my 1lb of chicken. The rest I put in jars - they should keep just fine in the fridge, since there's plenty of oil, vinegar and sugar in there. Here we go:-

2 tablesp. ground allspice (I used Schwartz);
3 tablesp. thyme, ground (ditto)1;
4 teasp. black peppercorns, freshly ground;
1/2 teasp. rosemary, ground;
1/2 teasp. smoked paprika2;
1 1/2 teasp. ground nutmeg;
1 1/4 teasp. ground cinnamon;
2 tablesp. brown sugar;
6 teasp. chilli-seeds mix3;
4 large cloves garlic, chopped and crushed with 2 tsp sea salt;
3 medium onions, finely chopped;
1 cup extra virgin olive oil;
2 tablesp. lemon juice;
juice and pulp of 3 satsumas (or similar);
1/2 cup soy sauce;
1/2 cup any vinegar;
2 extra teasp. sea salt.

Sauté the onions in the oil for five mins or so, then add the garlic for five mins, then everything else for five mins stirring well, or until you think it's done.

Decant into jars and refrigerate, and/or marinate the chicken at least overnight, then sauté.

Chess likes this, and keeps trying to nick mine.

1 - I have a coffee grinder for grinding dried herbs like thyme, however I'm sure the recipe would work ok with the dried thyme leaves etc. (or even fresh for that matter)
2 - or 1 teasp. ordinary paprika would do
3 - I use the dried chilli powder and seeds mix from the Indian shop, however any hot chilli powder would do or fresh chillis.


orange spiral
I think I may just have received the final warning on my car.

Yesterday I drove to Ravenglass in Cumbria to see old-and-new friend Trystan (the owl man). Old friend because I've met him before a long time ago on the pagan scene, albeit only slightly. New friend because of Facebook, a bunch of owl photos he posted and ensuing comments thereupon by my friend Jools.

Anyway, long story short, I had to drop a package off in Lancaster with Derek, and agreed with T I'd pop up to Eskdale since it is, relatively speaking, close to Lancaster. The key phrase here is 'relatively speaking' - Preston to Ravenglass turns out to be about 80 miles; Preston to Lancaster 22. Can you tell I'd not thought this through?

Still, to a sometimes-biking chick 80 miles is but a drop. Trouble was I wasn't riding the bike for reasons of extreme cold and dodgy ankle; I was driving my shed of a car. But hey; the scenery was incredible and the car behaved itself, at least during daylight hours.

So, had lunch in the Ratty Arms, chatted with Trystan over multiple diet coke/coffee alternations, and left for Preston around 10pm. Got about halfway home, maybe not that far, and the car conked out with smoke pouring out of the bonnet and extreme smell of burning. It was that bad that I had to get out of the car; I was even wondering if it might catch fire so I grabbed my camera1, handbag etc. I can't remember exactly what the Nissan garage said on Monday just gone, but it was something along the lines of "It's definitely completely fixed now; you shouldn't have any more trouble with it." Completely fixed my arse.

Anyway, I knew there was no point phoning the AA since I had absolutely no idea where I was; at least, I knew I was on the A590 heading towards Kendal, but that's a long road, and the last time I broke down, near Leyland, they were incredibly picky about needing an exact location. "Take 'Nowhere' and put a dot in it" was unlikely to be good enough. Also, it was frigging freezing and I didn't relish sitting there for an hour in complete darkness. So after about ten minutes' cooling off I decided to drive on at least to the next landmark. I also prayed to the GBWII2. The car then acted like nothing had happened and drove very smoothly all the way to Owd Nell's and The Roebuck on the A6, which is about 7 miles or so from my house. Then it conked out again.

So I pulled over, thinking I could wait another ten minutes and maybe make it home again. It was around midnight by this stage. Then a man came up and tried to get into my car. He opened the passenger door - this was the moment I discovered the central locking doesn't work if the keys are in the ignition - and tried to climb in. He was momentarily impeded in this by the crutch I had resting on the seat and footwell, and assorted bags. I need not tell you I was terrified. I shouted "Go Away" in a gargling sort of voice and did a skid start. This was incredibly weird; the ignition was turned off so I had to turn it on but somehow I turned the key the wrong way initially, then I couldn't get the handbrake off, then I floored the accelerator and there was a massive screeching of wheels. The guy had had one foot and one hand in the car; I didn't care about that, I just knew I hadn't to let him get in properly. Everything ran in slow motion. By the time I ventured a glance in the rear view mirror I was too far away to see the man. I have no idea if I hurt him pulling away like that - I would think I must have knocked him over at least - but frankly I don't care. He hadn't left his hand and foot behind in my car and that was good enough for me.

And then, I thought, how on earth did the damn car start when it had conked out only one minute earlier? We still had the burning smell, but I was less bothered by bursting into flames than by the idea of having to stop again and sit on my own in the dark waiting to be rescued with some bogeyman coming to get me. So I kept driving and praying for the next seven miles until I got home. I have never been so relieved to get home in my life.

This morning, after a night of tossing and turning (I know, it doesn't take much anyway), then a couple of glasses of rosé then eventual sleep, I'm thinking: what the hell am I going to do?
  • It's pointless taking the car back to the Nissan garage because they'll keep it for weeks then pretend they've fixed it again, or variations on that tired old theme;
  • I reckon I'm safe enough driving it around town during daylight hours since it takes a while to overheat, but that's very limiting and anyway I think it's getting worse;
  • I'm long past being more than mildly annoyed at the money I've wasted on it already, however I can't afford the kind of money I'd need to spend to guarantee the next car wouldn't also be a pile of shite;
  • I can't ride the bike for some time yet because of the dodgy ankle, also it is so cold that even when I can, I'll only be able to ride it around town and in daylight hours until, say, April;
  • I can't sell the bike to raise money for a new car; there's not that much money tied up in it anyway, it's the wrong time of year for selling bikes so I'd get an even lower price, I still have to find £450 for the insurance excess and carry on paying the premiums until April because of the theft claim (even if I sell the bike)... also biking is actually a cheap hobby once you have the bike and it's the one hobby which gives me any joy these days (or would, if I could ride it).
  • I am throughly sick of being stranded. This issue has been going on in one shape or another since July. HeadWallHeadWallHeadWall.

1 - The light was terrible so I didn't get any photos, sadly; next time maybe.
2 - Great Big Whatever-It-Is.



Fed up with all the 'what kind of flower/car/special snowflake are you' memes, I decided to start my own, one which looks outward rather than inward. You can do it too, if you want. The suggested rules are as follows:-
  1. Instead of eating restaurant or takeaway food, don't.
  2. Instead of going shopping for food, don't.
  3. Instead, eat the contents of your cupboards and freezer. If you have very little left in there and could do with a weekly shop, so much the better. That's the best time to do the Poverty Challenge!
  4. If you're really desperate because you really, really have virtually no food, go and spend £10, say, and buy as much food with it as you can.
  5. See if you can last a week. I don't recommend longer for nutritional reasons. Nobody should actually go hungry.
  6. Donate the money you would have spent on food to a Third World charity (optional).
  7. Post this meme to your LJ (optional).

When my four kids were young, we used to have a poverty week every so often. We'd eat lots of pasta, pulses, fresh veg (whatever was cheapest at the time; I was allowing myself £5 in those days, and that was for six of us). Leftover old cheese, including the rinds, grated into sauce. None of us suffered nutritionally.1 It makes you realise what's important in life and what's not.

1 - sure, if you don't take additional vits and mins you might not get as much as you should, but you're only doing it for a week or less. Nobody gets rickets or scurvy.



book of life

Tu es ma première pensée chaque matin
ma dernière à l'heure du coucher
Tu apparais dans mes rêves
de jour ou de nuit
Je ne sais pas
si je peux arrêter de t'aimer
Je ne sais même pas
si j'en ai envie

English version under hereCollapse )

(Thanks to melissa_maples for the French translation).

This is - mainly - the beginning of part 2 in the Zitchi novel. I have a clearer idea now of how the story needs to go, whilst still not knowing how it ends. I write best when I'm partly in the dark so that's OK.

There is a reason why it needs to be in French...

In other news, I've gone down a dress size and had to buy new jeans. Dorset, and family time, continues to be lovely.


orange spiral
I really don't know what I'm doing.

Read more...Collapse )


I keep thinking there's something I need to remember but I can't work out what it is. I've tried talking to myself, a kind of live-streaming brainstorm if you will, and I get near to it but then it goes again. All I know is it's important. An event? A thing? Something someone said? A bird? A plane? I have NFI.

If anyone finds a part of my brain jibbering in a disused corner somewhere, could they let me know?


orange spiral
Inspired by melissa_maples I am finally going to attempt the 100 Pushup Challenge. I just followed the instructions and took the initial test: I managed exactly zero full/boy pushups before collapsing in a giggling heap on the floor. Knee pushups, same result. To be fair, in my life I have never been able to do pushups. At school I was good at gymnastics but could only do short-arm vaults, never the long-arm, because my arms and especially my wrists and elbows were so weak.

At the gym these days, I can repeatedly press 60kg easily with my legs and more if I try. OK so that's not a massive amount of weight but it's reasonable for an unfit girl the wrong side of 40. The various arm and shoulder press/push machines, it's generally 5kg. I am a weed, in other words.

Incidentally I tried the initial pushup twice; once the ordinary way and once on my knees, both without success, and my elbows are now screaming out like someone's tried to pull them apart like chicken wings whilst twisting them at the same time. How rubbish is that?

The thing - the only thing - which makes me think I can nail this challenge, learn to do full boy pushups and do 100 of them, is this: Mel did it. Her upper body strength was as bad as mine, possibly worse by her account. I admit when she started I thought she was on a hiding to nothing, but I was wrong. She can't do 100 yet but she's up to 31 last I heard, and they're the proper boy ones. She started at zero too. Go Mel! etc.

So here we go. I'm off to the gym shortly to do some cardio and some leg presses and maybe some upper body stuff if my elbows will let me, which I doubt. Tomorrow I'm going to start the wall-pressups. I'm also going to stop messing around with the diet - I lost just over a stone then I did nothing. Alice is starting weightwatchers and we're going to go together.