Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meals on Wheels

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bold as brass

Today near the beginning of my last class, while I was busy going around the class and helping the students to understand a handout I'd given them, something so bizarre but at the same time sort of ordinary happened that I almost instantly forgot about it. Why does that happen? Something you can't explain happens, and you block it out. I had fully intended to find out what it was all about after class, but already by then I had forgotten. I even forgot when I was meeting my friends after work. If I'd remembered I would have asked them if it had happened to them as well, but I didn't. I FORGOT. Why did I forget?

What happened was that my classroom had a couple of visitors. They were wearing what I think is the university janitor uniform, but might not have been (I didn't look at the uniforms very closely) and they didn't come alone. They came with a machine.

It was the machine that distracted me so badly. There I was towards the back of the classroom, chatting with a group of students, explaining something, when I heard a noise behind me. Thinking that another student was arriving late I turned, and there were the two men and their machine coming in the door at the back of the classroom.

The machine looked like a something that had been constructed for a very low-budget science fiction movie from the seventies. It was a gray metal box on wheels, about waist-high, with a few flashing lights and numbers on the front. The two guys wheeled it just inside the door, muttered to each other, and then the older one unhooked from the back something that looked almost but not quite like a vacuum cleaner tube with a sort of nozzle arrangement on the end. He pointed it up in the air and slightly forward, and held it there. Then the two of them stopped moving. They just stood there and did nothing as the numbers blinked and the lights flashed. The machine did not make any noise, or none that I noticed. (The classroom was not exactly quiet, so actually there could have been a sinister hum I didn't hear. You never know.)

I stared. I was only a couple of metres from the two men, but they stared past me blankly. There were three or four rows of empty desks between us. I was extremely tired and my brain refused to explain what was going on or what I should do about it. Nothing made sense. I turned back to the students I had been talking to.

"Who are they?" I whispered.

The students grinned at me blankly.

"Who are they?" I whispered, louder and more urgently. "What are they doing?" I think that was the first time I had ever asked this question in a language classroom and really wanted to know. The textbooks always have it somewhere, and it is never a sensible question. It is always OBVIOUS what 'they' are doing. This time it wasn't obvious at all.

The students shrugged cheerfully. They seemed to think it was funny, and waited to see what I would do next. Most of the other students had their backs to the men and hadn't even noticed them.

I turned back to the men and their machine, which was still blinking numbers. The men stood and stared blankly at nothing. They hadn't moved at all. When I leaned over into their line of sight and smiled inquiringly at them they didn't respond. They didn't even blink. One was still holding the nozzle thing up in the air.

It was bizarre. It was so bizarre I found I couldn't think clearly. But at the same time the two men looked so utterly ordinary they were instantly forgettable. All I can remember now is that one was younger and the other older.

(Why didn't I just ask them what they were doing? Had they hypnotized me?)

I turned back to the students.

"Aren't you scared?" I asked. (We did "Fears" last week as a topic in the textbook, and while I may have become stupid I still couldn't resist the chance to recycle some new language.)

The students, still grinning, shook their heads. I frowned ferociously and leaned in closer to them.

"Why not?" I hissed. "We don't know who they are! Didn't you see the news about that Russian spy in London? What if they are Russians, and they're poisoning us?"

The students laughed. "They're Japanese!" they said.

"How do you know?" I insisted. "They might be North Korean! And what is that machine? Maybe it's gas! Maybe they're trying to poison all of Japan's cleverest students! Quick! Open a window!"

The students giggled and pointed at the windows, which were already open. They thought I was trying to be funny, and I was, but I was also starting to scare myself. The men still hadn't moved. I glanced back at them and got the spooky feeling that if I went over and stood right in front of them and waved my arms and shouted, "MOSHI MOSHI?" they would not respond. Surely, if they were legitimate, I would have been warned they were coming? Why hadn't they explained themselves? Why were they behaving as though there was nobody else in the room? Why did the students think it was funny? (Had they been hypnotized, too?)

Then another student called for me with a question, and I went to answer it, and after that when I looked back the men and their machine were gone.

I made a quick note to ask the secretary about it after class, and then things got busy. By the time class ended I had lost the note amongst my papers and forgotten all about it. It was only after getting home that I found the note again and remembered.

But how could I forget something like that? And how could I be so stupid? A couple of North Korean spies came into my classroom, bold as brass, blatantly poisoned me and all my students, and what did I do about it? I CARRIED ON TEACHING.

I'm starting to feel a little weak already. I wonder how long it will take for me to collapse? Has the poison reached my brain yet, do you think? Is my thinking muddled? Am I hpomh ,sfz JR;[@@@

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Recently I've been listening to National Radio, from the Radio New Zealand website. I've also been downloading their podcasts and listening to them on my commutes.

Saturday mornings with Kim Hill is one of my favourites. I didn't used to like her so much, but she has grown on me. She does great interviews. Just when you're thinking, Oh, go on Kim, ask about - ! I want to know! she does. It's SO satisfying.

There is just one thing that really bugs me: why does she pronounce film as filim? At one point I wondered if she meant something else, and looked it up. Here is what I learned.

I learned that I should not look for rental accommodation in Filim, Oman. There are no rentals available. However, the weather is lovely.

I may be spelling it wrongly, however. Maybe she really means:


Noun 1. filum - a threadlike anatomical structure or chainlike series of cells

That doesn't really fit, though, and I am fairly sure she means neither of these things. She means film, in which case it all makes sense except for the way she pronounces it. That remains a mystery.

I listened to a Mary Wilson podcast on my way to work on Friday, and heard her interviewing Don Brash on his sudden resignation. I got the impression that you were getting impatient with him, Mary. You snapped at him like an outraged piranha, and I think you might have drawn blood. I can't say I blamed you, but I am not used to hearing that sort of thing at 6.30am on my way to work.

Brash deserved it, of course. This is the man who said he went easy on Helen Clark in debate because she is a woman, HA HA HA, and then he associated with (and accepted money from) those unpleasant, sneaky people and lied about it. He was contradicting himself again in your interview, and I do not blame you for getting snappy. But it did surprise me, so that I snorted, and embarrassed myself. It was your fault. You made me snort suddenly on my morning commute and thus confirm all my fellow commuters' preconceived ideas about weird gaijin.

But you're good at embarrassing me, or at least at making me embarrass myself, aren't you, Mary? You've done it before, HAVEN'T YOU? It may have been more than ten years ago that you visited, but I still haven't quite got over my brother calling to tell me he'd heard me on the radio.

"Eh?" I said. "Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten, and anyway I didn't think she'd use it. What did I say?"

"Something about being sex mad," he said.


And that's when I realized you'd only PRETENDED to turn it off.

After I'd shouted for a while my brother said, mildly,

"Well, it was something like that, anyway. It was pretty funny."

"I DID NOT SAY THAT," I said, and tried to remember exactly what I'd said. "What else did I say?"

"I can't remember," he said.

I couldn't remember either. It had been a couple of months since that impromptu interview, and I was very tired when I did it, which is the only reason I let myself be pressured into it. I had no energy to protest. I couldn't remember what I'd said five minutes after it finished.

"Anyway, you never listen to National Radio," I accused my brother. "How come you listened this time? I didn't think anybody I knew would ever hear it, so didn't worry about it. And she said she'd only use a couple of minutes of the interview."

"Oh, it was more like fifteen or twenty minutes," he said. "You went on and on and on."


He paused to see if I'd finished shouting, and carried on.

"Auntie Dorothy called and told me about it. "She just happened to hear it. And after that Euan, you remember him, our old neighbour from back home, he called, and, um, a few other people who'd heard from Auntie Dorothy. She called everyone she knew. I was hearing from people I hadn't heard from for years. She told us to call everybody we knew to tell them when the repeat was on."

(Auntie Dorothy was a terrible old gossip. Now that she is no longer with us I can safely say that this is why I never used to tell her anything I didn't want the entire population of New Zealand to know. I think she used to call people at random from the phone book if there was nobody else available to pass gossip on to. Thank goodness she never discovered the Internet.)

Mary, I am fairly sure you're not reading this, but if by chance you are (vanity Googling, caught you!), I'm pretty sure you'll have figured out who I am. The last time you caused me to embarrass myself publicly you bought me a drink the next time we met. You didn't quite call it an apology but it was good enough for me. (In any case, by then I'd decided to be flattered rather than appalled. It was too late anyway.)

Well, it's been a long time since we last met, but this is just to let you know you owe me another drink.

We support your socks life

Today I went shopping for clothes, but I didn't buy anything. I didn't even buy socks, despite all the support on offer. I am a complete failure at shopping.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What is important

On Monday after work I hurried home. I knew I had a lot of work to do, because I hadn't done it on the weekend. I had to write a test. I had already written it, actually, but I had to check it, do the layout, and print it out. I planned to use it on Wednesday (today) and knew I would not have time (or energy) to do it on Tuesday evening. (It was not an important test. It was a MOTIVATING test, to wake up the students who have been getting a little lax about staying awake in class.)

I got home, did all the necessary, and felt virtuous. Then I ate dinner, relaxed for a while with a book, read a few blogs, watched a little TV, and started to prepare for bed. Then I idly wondered what I had planned for the next day's classes.

I checked my notes, and discovered to my horror that I had very good plans for Tuesday's classes. The horror was caused by realizing that these plans involved some OTHER work I hadn't done. I had to type up four classes' worth of homework.

So instead of going to bed, I got busy.

This homework was based on something we'd done in class. The students had done a worksheet which involved describing things. The idea was to teach them to use descriptions rather than stop and look in a dictionary when they didn't have the word for something. They are very bad at this sort of thing, and are quite likely, in the middle of a conversation, to stop suddenly and spend five minutes looking up a word. By the time they find it their conversational partner has wandered off, fallen asleep, or forgotten what they were talking about. (This is the better students. Most of them are more likely to give up when they do not know how to say something in English. They just ... stop.)

For homework I asked the students to write descriptions of five more things. The idea was that I would then type up their descriptions, and they could have a sort of game where one would read a description and the others in the group would try to guess the word.

It seemed like a good idea to me until Monday night. As I sat at the computer, way past my bedtime, it didn't seem quite so wonderful. What kind of idiot dreams up a lesson plan that involves so much WORK? I typed five pages of descriptions, correcting them, adding to them, and abbreviating them where it was called for. I also added a few, to get a good number for the game. (Quite a few of the students had not taken the homework quite seriously enough.)

Not surprisingly, on Tuesday morning I wasn't feeling too good. I had that spaced-out feeling you get when you have not slept enough. There was a mild buzzing in my ears, and I had the feeling that I was observing the world from behind glass. My eyes were gritty. I was also worried about the classes. This lesson plan was a new one, and I wasn't quite sure if it would work. If it didn't I was in trouble, because I had no backup.

When I got to work I made several copies of each of the five pages. When the first class started, after the initial 'conversation' stage (a weekly activity where the student are supposed to talk in English about whatever they want, with several partners, and sometimes even actually do), I put them in groups of four or five and handed out the pages of descriptions so that each student in a group had a different page. "This is your homework," I told them, and they boggled. They were sure they had not done such a neat job, or so much of it, and they were right.

I explained the rules of the game, which were simple. ('Read a description. The first person to give the correct answer gets a point. Give more clues if necessary'). When I was sure they understood, I told them to start.

Then I sat down.

It went WONDERFULLY. Days like yesterday make me unsure about whether I am a good teacher or a very bad one. I didn't actually DO anything. It quickly became clear that the students did not want my help, except with the pronunciation of certain words. They were teaching each other and did not want my interference.

One problem with this sort of activity generally is that the students tend to read rather than speak - they will show the question to the other students rather than read it aloud. This time, however, I had typed the answers right beside the questions, in such a way that it was hard to show the paper and not also show the answers to all the questions. This meant that students were forced to read the descriptions aloud, and they quickly learned that if they read them woodenly and without inflection (as they tend to do) the others in the group did not understand. Also, because they had the answers in front of them they felt clever, and were not inclined to give away the answer too easily by using Japanese. Instead they gave clues in English and mockery in Japanese. There was a lot of laughter.

The biggest problem was me. (This is often true.) I had nothing to do, really, except listen and offer help when it was asked for. This was not often, as they were figuring things out for themselves and doing very well at it. They were teaching each other, helped along by the knowledge that they had written these clues themselves, so therefore COULD figure things out. (I did not tell them that I had sneakily added a few of my own, but they got those, too, which just goes to show that they know a lot more than they think they do.) Being in class on Tuesday was like being at a party to which you were not invited and are tolerated rather than welcome. The students did not need me most of the time. They were perfectly happy on their own except when they needed a human tape recorder to demonstrate how a word was pronounced, and they were learning things without any help from me. They were also having a really good time, and I felt about as useful as nipples on a bull.

So I just sat there, wishing it was acceptable for the teacher to have a nap. I think I might have sprained my jaw in my attempts to yawn without opening my mouth. This kind of yawning is very difficult to do, as I'm sure you will know if you have ever tried it. I was extremely sleepy, and had to fight the urge to nod off. It would not look good for the teacher to fall asleep or to spend the entire lesson yawning extravagantly, and I was determined not to, but it was a real struggle.

I tried to keep myself awake by taking note of the styles my students were wearing. I don't usually notice things like that unless they are startling, but one of the textbooks a couple of weeks ago had a unit about fashion, and the answers the students had given to the questions in the book had given me a context.

One of the boys had some of his hair (but not all of it) tied up in a ponytail right on top of his head. His hair was quite long, so that the ponytail stuck straight up and then curved over. If his hair had been water it would have been a perfect fountain. (I mentally added a gnome.) Most of the other boys had dyed hair, worn in a tousled style. The explosions on their heads are carefully controlled. When you think of the expression not a hair out of place you would not think of these guys' hairstyles, but that's exactly how it is. I have seen them styling it on the trains, and, sometimes, in class. They carry mirrors, and each hair is in EXACTLY THE RIGHT PLACE. You see them fiddling with one of the strands, getting the 'random' look just right. They look sort of like this, or this. (I recommend the rest of the photo gallery at JapanWindow, too. There are some excellent photographs.)

The boys spend far more time on their hair than I do on mine. (I haven't had a haircut since, er ... when? April? I know I meant to get it done in the summer, but never quite got around to it.)

The girls have been sweating in skirts or dresses over jeans all through the hot months, but now that it has become cooler many are wearing high boots with low-cut shorts and short tops, usually with some bulky but short sweater or jacket on top, leaving their goosebumped thighs bare and also, frequently, an expanse of lower back when they lean over. A couple of times I got up and wandered around the classroom, trying to stop myself from falling asleep, and noticed something rather worrying: a couple of the girls have hairy backs. Is that normal? Is it cool? Are they showing off their hairy backs on purpose? Is it the latest thing? I wondered about this, and then it occurred to me that perhaps they didn't know. It is not easy to see your own lower back. Maybe I have a hairy lower back myself. (Must ask The Man.)

Fashion in Japan is, I suspect, extremely time-consuming. My students do not wear clothes, they wear costumes. They spend a lot of time on their looks, and a lot of money. I know, because that was one of the questions in the textbook (at a women's university), and my jaw practically came unhinged when the students consulted each other and decided that they spent, on average, at least ¥30,000 a month on clothes. I heard a group of them discussing the question in Japanese. One of them said that it depended on whether she had a successful weekend shopping. She sometimes spent ¥60,000 in just one weekend, but usually it was more like ¥10,000 or ¥20,000. Many of them go shopping every weekend, and while I knew that, I had assumed they were window shopping. They're not, and none of them seemed to think the amount they spent was excessive. And they were not particularly rich students, or at least they said they weren't. They are supported by their parents, as most students are here, but told me they paid for their own clothes from their part-time jobs. (For those who are wondering, ¥30,000 is about NZ$380, UK£135, US$260.)

Of course there are always exceptions, and there were a couple of girls who did not spend very much. But they were not the popular girls. It must be the same with the guys, I realized as I looked around the classroom on Tuesday. Nobody was dressed cheaply except the nerdy, friendless types.

And me. That explained why I felt like I hadn't been invited.

Another of the questions in the unit on fashion was, "Do you think fashion is important?" All the students, without exception, wrote, "Yes." That made sense when I looked around the classroom. To have friends you need to be dressed fashionably.

But never mind all that. The lesson plan worked, and I will be using it again. And really, it's not true that you need to spend a lot on fashion to have friends. I have proof.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Amateur proctologists

Another picture I came across yesterday was this one from Kuantan, Malaysia, and it also made me smile. This one was from this year. I don't know if you remember, but I mentioned two small boys who kept poking at us. We were forced to defend ourselves (by tickling them), and they eventually gave up. It was after they gave up that I took this picture. Before that I couldn't use my camera. I was too busy fending off these fiendish amateur proctologists.

But as you can see, we wore them out. By the time they staggered off, giggling, they were so weak they had to hold each other up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Guard dog

Yesterday I discovered that there is now version of PixelCat for OS X, and although it doesn't yet have all the features it had before (it will not rotate pictures - that will probably come in a later build), I downloaded it and found it works just fine for what I want. PixelCat is an image viewer. It is very, very small, free, and does only one thing, very quickly: it shows you your pictures. You dump a folder of pictures on it, and there they are, all laid out in thumbnails ready to click and view. I have iPhoto, of course, but it tends to be a bit slow with displaying pictures when I have a lot of them, which I frequently do. It gets cumbersome, and I don't use most of the features. PixelCat is fast, and I can just whiz through the pictures and select the ones I want to be properly displayed/edited/kept, and chuck out the rest.

(Although the PixelCat web page is in Japanese, the program itself is in English. Click on ダウンロード(Ver.0.3) near the bottom of the page to download.)

Yesterday I went through my photos from the trip to Europe last year, and got distracted, which is how most of the afternoon disappeared. But I thought I'd share three pictures that made me laugh.

In France, when I was staying with a friend in the countryside, we went for a walk one day, and as we were going past someone's place we saw a little dog.

We went closer to say hello, and it became suspicious. It looked at us sideways.


"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!" it howled.

And then, to make sure everybody got the message, it did it again.

It was a big noise for a small dog, and we decided it didn't want to be tickled under the chin after all.

If that was a guard dog it was an effective one. We jumped quite high, and I'm sure if we'd had any urge to invade the property we would have rethought our plans. Also, it must be difficult to conduct an effective invasion when you are laughing. I wouldn't want to try it.

ADDENDUM: It has occurred to me that since this was a French dog and I couldn't understand what it was saying, I may have misinterpreted. If we'd hung around a bit longer we might have found out that it was REALLY saying:

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! La la!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Autumn colours

This year the leaves aren't nearly as pretty as they were last year. It has been warm, and then it suddenly got cooler and windy so that the leaves are mostly just blowing away without going all shades of beautiful first.

There are not so many beautiful yellows yet, but I'm hoping it isn't over. My students assure me that there's a couple of weeks yet, and the colours will improve.

One type of tree, though, is lovely, and I took some pictures of it today in the little park near the place I work. The leaves are going a strange purple colour as well as the usual reds and oranges, which gives an interesting effect.

Here they are closer up. I'm not sure what this tree is called, but it has an amazing variety of colours.

On this part of the tree there were none of the purple leaves, but I like the shadows in this picture.

This is the more common maple tree, but the real reason I like this picture is the sky behind it. It was a gorgeous day today, sunny and clear.

You can see that not all the leaves have turned yet, so maybe my students are right. Maybe next week I will get better pictures.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yet another Friday

One of my students was away for ten days, in Italy with his family. Today he told me all about it. They visited eight cities in ten days, and packed a lot in.

He saw the famous Final Dinner, he said, but had forgotten to wear his good glasses so hadn't seen it as clearly as he would have liked to.

"You saw what?" I asked.

"The Final Dinner," he said.

We stared at each other.

"Oh, RIGHT!" I said, eventually. (I didn't get enough sleep last night.) "Da Vinci, right?"


I told him what it was called in English. He thought about it.

"Is there a reason it's not dinner?" he asked. "What's the difference? And why not final?"

I had to admit I didn't know. "It's just what it has been called," I said, "So it sounds funny when you use different words. Unfamiliar."

"I see," he said, and I think he did. I love having more advanced students sometimes.

In the last class of the day my two soccer students are still keeping me entertained. They always sit together at the beginning of class, which means that they almost instantly get separated and end up on opposite sides of the classroom, because I always count students off into groups at the beginning of class. Usually I want to separate noisy friends, but actually when those two are together they're pretty good, and they certainly keep me amused, so today, feeling in need of a little entertainment, I tried to 'randomly' count them off into the same group. This did not work, mostly because it was the end of a long week and I was not thinking quickly enough to figure out how to do it without being obvious. They ended up separated again, which meant that when I asked one of them to be quiet while I explained something to the class he had to slap HIMSELF in the face, because the other one was too far away to reach. It wasn't a gentle slap either, and after administering it he apologized to me sincerely, with a straight face and irrepressibly bright eyes, and waited politely for me to carry on with the class. (Which I did, with some difficulty. I found I had suddenly forgotten what I was going to say, and had to refer to my notes.)

The slap was surprising, but shouldn't have been. My soccer guys are ALWAYS helpful when a little discipline is called for. I wish all my students were as cooperative in classroom management.

But the other one had broken his hand, so perhaps all the discipline is going to be self-inflicted for a while no matter where they're sitting. At first they told me that the hand got broken when they were beating each other up, but this explanation quickly degenerated into a disagreement over who had been beating up whom, which in turn morphed into an mini-lesson in which I explained the difference between "I hit him," and "He hit me." (Yes, their English level really is that low, which only serves to demonstrate how very good they are at communicating with what little they have.) Once they understood they kindly acted out this lesson for the rest of the class, using the unbroken hand, and very carefully.

Finally one of them admitted that the broken hand was actually a soccer injury.

I pretended not to believe it.

"I don't believe you," I said. "I'm sure it was domestic violence."

There was a shocked silence, and just before they cracked up it dawned on me that they had actually listened to me when I told them that domestic violence was a serious problem and not something to joke about. They had thought about it, and taken it seriously. They had, in fact, stopped using that particular joke.

And then I had to go and ruin it all.

I am really not at my best for my last class on Fridays.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today in two of my classes the topic in the textbook was 'fears.' There was a questionnaire to get the students talking, and one of the questions was,

Are you afraid of flying?

As I wandered around the classroom I overheard the students in one group discussing this question in Japanese. They were not sure how to answer it, which seemed a little odd. It wasn't such a difficult question, was it? They weren't the only ones having trouble, either. I could hear another group puzzling over the same thing.

As I eavesdropped on their discussions I suddenly understood what the problem was and had to suppress a giggle. I went back to the blackboard and wrote the question up there. Then I drew an arrow from flying and added underneath, in a plane.

"Ohhhh! In a PLANE!" I heard chorused behind me, and they wrote their answers and moved onto the next question.


They understood the first question perfectly, though:

What were you afraid of when you were a child?

Most of the male students (but none of the female students) wrote, without even having to think about it,

My mother.

That was a lot more worrying than their puzzling over how a person could remain airborne for long enough to develop a fear of flying.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Futon wars

I have complained about The Man's lizardly qualities before, most notably when the air conditioner wars get going every summer. I don't know whether I have mentioned the futon wars, however, which take place in winter.

We have a wonderful double top futon. You use one layer when the summer heat subsides and the nights start getting cooler, and then when it gets really cold you button on the other layer. WHEN to button the second layer on is the problem, for us. So far this autumn I have been perfectly comfortable with only one layer, but The Man has been complaining about the cold. I realized I would have to relent a couple of nights ago when it became obvious that he just wasn't warming up. I touched his arm sometime in the night and thought for a moment there was a corpse lying next to me, it was so cold. (I suppose it is possible that at some point he became a zombie without telling me, but I'm fairly sure I would have noticed. Aren't there other signs?)

We added the second layer of the futon yesterday. I don't know what we'll do when it really gets cold. More blankets, I suppose, but only on his side. I was pretty damned warm last night.

Well, I WAS pretty damned warm, at least, until at some point early this morning he turned to me affectionately (I thought) and snuggled up close. I said something, and he mumbled in reply and it was clear he was not awake. Then he pulled the top futon close around him, smiled, and turned over again, taking the entire futon with him.

It was a very neat operation, fast and totally efficient, and especially impressive because he didn't even wake up to do it. He just whisked it all away, quick as a flash, and I was left with no covering at all. It wasn't quite warm enough for that, and I sat up and stared at him, half admiring and half pissed off. He had become a great big cocoon with the entire, enormous, puffy, down-filled double-layered queen-sized futon so tightly tucked around him and held onto with so tight a grip it took me quite a while to edge enough back out to cover me. None of my tugging and cursing and laughing woke him up. It was amazing, really.

And it wasn't even cold last night. HE IS NOT NORMAL.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I went to the giant booksale today, and bought FORTY BOOKS. You will have to wait until the books are delivered to find out what they are. So will I, actually, because I've forgotten what I chose in the end, aside from two I brought home with me. It was a wonderful sale. The two books I brought home were a Terry Prachett and a Flashman adventure, which I started reading on the train. I have never read a Flashman book before, and it is pretty much as advertised - old fashioned adventure with lots of historical detail and an extremely politically incorrect hero. What fun!

After getting back from the booksale I decided that tomorrow and Saturday I would catch up on paperwork, but for the rest of today I would work on the switch to Beta Blogger. Having made this decision, and braced myself, I logged in and discovered that I couldn't. The button (for switching over to Beta) that I've been noticing on my dashboard for the last couple of weeks has now gone. They've taken it away! Where did it go? And why?

It's probably just as well, though. Just now I fired up Internet Explorer to test the hacks I installed on my experimental Beta Blogger. These are the hacks I was going to use for this blog when I switched. I discovered that I have created a horrible mess, or at least IE has. They don't call it Internet Exploder for nothing.

Back to the drawing board!