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Monday, December 03, 2007

Must be Christmas!

Mary and Bob's Christmas card arrived this morning! Their card has been the first to arrive for about the last 30 years!!

I had better start writing mine then. Although they are all handmade this year (what a chore!) and it's a case of choosing who gets the worst ones and who gets the better ones (which are not much better than the worst!) Next year I'll be back to buying.

Bubbles has departed this world

Bubbles (my gorgeous Oranda!) had been sick with swimbladder disease, for some months - but it got much worse over the last week. He was stuck, upside-down, at the top of the tank - he couldn't swim and he couldn't catch any food (although he tried). What's more, where his body was exposed to the air outside of the water, he was drying up and rotting away. It was awful to see him this way. So, Saturday evening I did a search for humane ways to euthanise goldfish and decided on the clove oil method. Just thinking about it made me cry - amazing that you can cry over a fish!

Yesterday morning, I took Bubbles out of the tank and put him in a small bowl. Then I added some clove oil, which I'd added to some of the tank water. He was gone in a few minutes... He's now buried in the garden, with a Euphorbia Robbiae planted above him.

We bought a new friend to keep Malcolm company, but it (Jack Sprat) sits at the bottom, under the plastic coral. I'm in the process of doing a water change - I hope that sorts him, or else he'll be no use whatsoever!

Wish I had a van ...

I would be tempted to start off a computer fixing business! Simple things, that is. My PC was making noises and emitting burning smells, before it completely conked out. I replaced the PSU and all (appears) cured.. Took about 10 minutes and cost £15. How much would a computer fixer have charged for that?


He's about as charismatic as my pale blue socks! Apollo was much better!

This is more like it!

Not that I'm a fan of the Spice Girls, but I thought Mel and Max were better (as, evidently, did the panel). However, apart from the American public voting for the wrong couple, we really enjoyed Dancing with the Stars, the US version of our Strictly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Children in Need!

Please give generously!!

(This is how Paul has gone to work at the Garden Centre today - should raise a few glares, if not cash!)

Also, please sign this petition on the 10 Downing Street website. The goverment wishes (and, at this moment intends) to withdraw funding from students who are studying at a level equivalent to, or lower than, qualifications already held. This will have knock-on effects, not only to the students involved, but to all other students, as (inevitable) falling student numbers will require fees for remaining students to be even higher.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Hilma died. Up the Himalayas. In her sleep. Of altitude sickness. I can't believe it. She will be very sadly missed by all who knew her at the OU. :(

An announcement from her brother.

(from Hilma's resume)

He tells her that the Earth is flat -
He knows the facts and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
Her arguments he calls unsound.
He often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

(Wendy Cope)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

S.A.D. kicks in bad!

Seasonal Affective Disorder arrived earlier than usual, this year. I can only put that down to the dismal summer we've endured. It's an odd little blighter - I always forget it exists and then, one day in September, I feel unwell and tired and I think I'm ailing for something which never materialises. And then I remember the SAD. It doesn't affect me with depression, as such - I simply feel ILL - languid and forgetful and TIRED and as though I have flu. No matter how much sleep I have; I want more. I am constantly hungry and TIRED. This results in a feeling of tension and DEPRESSION!!

Need to get out more. And take some vitamins. And SLEEP!

I don't think it's helped, this year, that I've had very little OU work to do. Today, this year's intake of S330 took their exam. I missed taking an exam and the revision beforehand! It kept my mind off other things (like Christmas), sharpened my memory (sort of) and gave me a reason for the tension exploding through my body!

In order to avoid this in future, I've planned out the next few years! I have to finish off (or start properly, come to that!) the volcanoes short course - and then, in February, I start the Understanding the Continents (S339) course, which I'm looking forward to, in a masochistic sort of way. Then, next September, I'm going to do A251, Creative Writing.. February 2009, it will be S369 (to finish off the geo-courses I missed out) and then, in September A300, which is a 20th century literature course (set books of which, I've already started reading!!!) If I get through that lot, I shall not only have a BA, to add to the BSc, but also a Diploma in Creative Writing and Literature PLUS a lot more background for the (hopefully impending) MSc in Earth Systems.

The secret is to keep busy and keep yourself challenged. And to SLEEP!


Why do people who post photos of hotels onto TripAdvisor, post photos of themselves on top of a bridge, or a few people with their arms around each other, at some scenic spot miles away from the actual hotel they're reviewing? I am much more interested in seeing underneath the beds and the bathroom!

There are some wonderful hotels around - most of which we can only dream of staying at. One I found yesterday, Inn New York City, is one to make your jaw drop - a far cry from the cupboard-sized, dingy rooms that most of us with less than ample wallets are forced to sleep in! We are booked into Radio City Apartments, which have good reviews on TripAdvisor - and the location cannot be beaten. However, I only need to read one review mentioning 'large cockroach' and I am, once more, scanning the travel sites, in search of that elusive penthouse with 500 count linens and gold plated jacuzzi, for less than $200 per night!

This isn't to say that we don't have some luxury lined up for next year's trip though! A night each at the Signature at MGM Grand, Vegas and the Top of the Village near Aspen are pure indulgence ... but, heck.

(part of) the floorplan for the 3 bedroom/3 bathroom condo, I've booked in Snomass Village (it was so big, I couldn't get all of it in the screenshot!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Got tickets!

I bought our British Airways plane tickets for next year's trip, this morning! A total saving of around £600, compared to what they cost last week - so that's one ticket, plus some, for nothing! Interesting that we are down for Terminal 5 - I wonder if it will open in time?!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What constitutes having 'made it'?

My Dad was 83 on Thursday and we bought him a standard lamp. He was brought up to think that 'only rich people' had standard lamps and that they were a symbol of success. So now he has one!

Also in the picture above are my sister-in-law, Anita - and niece, Amy, who has just had her GCSE results - 10 grade A's, most of those with *'s (whatever that means). Very clever - and, certainly, my old school is producing better results out of her than they did out of me! She is going on to do arts A-levels, including Media Studies ... I do wonder why clever people don't go into the sciences. We need them.

Anyway, back to the have made it things. Hub considers that we have 'made it' now, as we have a bolster on the bed! I can remember my mother and father having one of those though, when I was a child - so, can you possibly have 'made it' if you have a bolster but not a standard lamp? I don't think so. We only have an uplighter, so we have a long way to go yet.

The planning for next year's coast-to-coast USA trip continues and this is the latest map of our latest route!

Last week, I booked a villa (with pool and spa) in Vegas for 2 nights and another villa (with pool and spa and golf cart! :)) in Palm Springs, for 3 nights. I'm getting excited - but it is a long way off yet and we haven't yet bought our plane tickets!

10 more points

The AT272 results came out on Wednesday and I passed (quite well). I could care less - but I know that I did better than at least a couple of much keener students and I wonder why this is? Do we have a natural 'gift' for writing essays/waffle? I thought what I handed in was tripe - I did it (quickly) before we went to Portugal, intending to edit the essays fiercely, when we got back. But I didn't touch them. Perhaps I should've stuck with the arts? (Nah!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bye-bye bones

I decided I was a fool. Bones and pots were not for me. Little essays, whose only difficulty factor, was to ensure that you put their words into your words - where was the challenge? I'm back with the rocks! I'm going to try to woo the MSc Earth Systems selectors by adding extra courses to my portfolio and I'm doing it because I LOVE EARTH SCIENCE! So, I have signed up for the new short course in Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, S186 - which I'll leisurely run through over the next few weeks, as a very gentle reminder of what I've been missing. Then I'm going to register for S339: Understanding the Continents, next year. It won't matter if I fail even - but I missed out S339 and S369, because I used U316 for my degree - and I know there is a gap in my knowledge, which I'm hoping to fill.

Meantime there is a whole heap of work to be getting on with in this house. The weather is beautiful, but we have to stay in to do that. Bummer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mustn't grumble

I was going to write a piece about how TIRED I am, despite having slept til 11:41 this morning! Tired because of the work on the bedrooms and the building of wardrobes and chests and the laying of new carpet (twice, cos we didn't like the first one!) Tired because of the new bed which is strange to me. Tired because there is a whole heap more work to do on those rooms, including the building of 2 more wardrobes and the laying of yet another carpet and the house is a TIP! Tired because my PC went funny last week and I put in a new hard drive, but XP wouldn't install. So I bought new RAM and installed that yesterday and XP installed - but the thing kept crashing. So I took out the new RAM and put in the old and now it works. Tired because I had to reinstall all my software and drivers and tired because I lost so much stuff (I MUST buy an external hard drive).

But I must not complain about being tired. This morning, I learnt, with great sadness, of the untimely death, last night, of one of my OU friends. Keith Blomfield. He and I studied together on S103 and we were both 'punished' by Audrey, because we wrote too many messages! He was a great guy - funny, witty, to the point, kind, helpful, encouraging. He loved his physics and wanted others to love it too! He helped me with my maths. He read my A174 stories! He will be sadly, sadly missed.

Keith was diabetic and suffered for years with pancreatitis. But he got on with life and helped others whenever he could. He was taken quickly by cancer. He was only in his 40's.

Life is too short to be tired.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bones, bones, bones

With AT272 finally out of the way (dire course), I bought myself a second-hand copy of the A251 World Archaeology book and have read about 100 pages of it. It's all bones and rock fragments, much like S292 (Emergence of Humans), which I disliked intensely. I have to MAKE MYSELF get into this and enjoy it - I MUST become enamoured of broken pots. I am getting very depressed.

I also registed for AA310, starting next February. That is, the History of Film and TV ... seeing as I'm not much of a cinema buff or much of a remote couch potato or a lover of history, I can see that that's going to be fun also!!!

I miss science.

(Very) unfit??

I decided to test my fitness, following instructions on a website. (1) Exercise and take pulse. Mine was 100. (2) Wait one minute and then take pulse again. Mine was 82. (3) Minus the second figure from the first and divide by 10. So I'm 1.8. Apparently, a figure of <2 is 'poor' and you should aim for something like 4. But my resting pulse is only 72, so even if I'd managed to get down to that in the minute, my figure would've only been 2.8, which isn't much better. Perhaps I should've exercised for longer than the one minute running on the spot and got my pulse rate higher! :)

There are now 80 000 people classifying the galaxies. There are (initially) one million to classify, but they want each to be classified by 20 different users. We're over halfway through that task, it seems - what then?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Galaxy 587729386066804930

I'm categorising galaxies!! This is one of mine (587729386066804930)

which I've categorised as a clockwise spiral galaxy. It's quite a responsibility! And it is also very absorbing.

The pictures were taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. And, you can join in (if you pass the trial!) by Galaxy Zoo.

"Sir Patrick Moore, an enthusiastic supporter of the project, said: ‘Non-professionals have always been deeply involved in studying the sky and they now have yet another opportunity to make themselves really useful. Moreover, their help is now of immense value so do join up – as I am doing myself!’"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fed up ....

... with the sight of blue skies and the warmth on our skin and the sounds of cicadas and the smell of mimosa and the taste of fresh fish and the friendly people and beautiful villages and pristine beaches ....

we returned to the rain and critical terrorism alerts. As you do.

{Silly} Fun in the Sun!

Live Action! :))

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Give me my coloured coat ....

Well, the right guy won for once!

We are thinking of going up to London to see the show, probably in September. We haven't been to the West End since Cats!! But, although the theatre seats are expensive enough - the hotel rooms are even more expensive. I have my eye on the ParkCity Hotel, in Kensington - number one with TripAdvisor ....

Back to the Romans and Portugal packing.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sucker for tears

Let me make this very clear - I HAVE NEVER WATCHED BIG BROTHER, nor have any wish to do so - but I do have a terrible weakness for the reality show progs, especially Strictly Come Dancing and the Ice Skating thingie - and even Just The Two of Us. Then, last year, we were searching for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of the Sound of Music - and, this year, we have his search for the lead in the new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat - "Any Dream Will Do". Saturday evening isn't right without Dr Who, followed by a programme of back stabbing, bitching, huge egos and tears! It helps that the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, is one of the panel members! (And Graham Norton's silk suits and shirts give me ideas for scrapbook pages!) Fortunately, all here enjoy it, although none of us have ever voted.

Craig went out last week. He was sweetness itself and such a nice boy - like a teddy bear, all cuddly and undemanding. However, he was useless, stood like a plank and just kind of drooped ... So, tonight we had the semi finals, in which Ben was voted off. That's a shame, as he was my second favourite , because, although he can't sing very well, he is a very good showman. (Can Philip Schofield sing - and John Barrowman himself can't sing all that well, imho!) But Ben is gone and we are left with Lee, Lewis (LEWIS!!) and Keith Jack. There is absolutely no competition. Lewis (LEWIS!!) is sweet, but he is a child and is far too lanky - it is impossible to imagine him in a loincloth. Keith Jack is horrendous - I have no idea why people vote for him. His voice drives me daft and I certainly wouldn't pay to have to listen to it for 2 hours. There is only one winner.

Apart from this, I am bored out of my skull with AT272.

Oh, and multi multi congratulations to Pippo Inzaghi for single-handedly winning the Champions League Cup for Milan last week!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bye-bye Mr B

Tony Blair has announced that he will be standing down as PM on 27th June, so I did a scrappy!!

And, here is possibly his finest moment! :)

Uploaded by Knoxboy.bebo.com

I think he will be very much missed.

The Sun appears to have disappeared from this part of the country, and we have been stuck in November for weeks. AT272 is just as drab.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The bat cloak!

I had my graduation ceremony yesterday, at Torquay. What an ordeal! But I was happy to fulfil one of my ambitions - that of wearing an academic gown, like the teachers did at speech days!

I remember very little of this!

Meantime, my AT272 stuff has arrived and it's back to the studying!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Certificate in Contemporary Science

I got my astronomy course result (and thus quali-ed for this quali) last week, I think - and I was so excited I had to put it up here right away .....

So, what's this? BSc (Hons), CertNatSci, CertContSci (Open)

Doesn't mean a lot when I don't remember anything - LOL!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I am jealous of Heidi Swapp!!

Not only is she a highly successful businesswoman, who scraps all day - but she lives in Arizona and wakes to the sun glinting off the saguaro! But, despite my envy, I've bought a box of her embellishments and I won't want to open it when it arrives for fear of spoiling the wonderfully girlie pink and black stuff!

I've done about 40 pages now. And I am broke! I don't appear to have a particular style; I flit around. Let's see. I like pretty, like this daffodil page.

and I enjoy doing simple, but striking pages, like this one of my hub (when he was young!).

and I like pinks and greens.


and I love doing cutesy stuff, like my bunny's page! I refused to pay out 79p for one sheet of paper, so I painted the background myself and slung up real string as a washing line! Pity Bunzee is no longer as cute as his surroundings!

And I like simple, but striking (did I already say that?)

And I like strange.

So, I like strange and striking and cutesy. I like black and red and black and pink and pink and green. I love rick rack and red velvet and gold organza. I love pearly brads. I love Basic Grey and anything else by K and Co. I love Jollees and Rouge de Garance.

Nice hobby - I'd better make the most of it, before I start studying again!

I'm back!!!

So much for the year out!! I decided that the only way to ease (if not cure) my disease, was to rejoin the land of the learning, so I've registered for AT272 - Ancient and Medieval Cities: A Technological History, starting in May. Nobody likes this course, but it's only 10 points and I'm not averse to a couple months' moaning. I've also registered for A251: World Archaeology from September. This is a pilot 30-point course, which does the 30 points in half the time it usually takes (so double the time needed!) Then, from next February, I would only need to do 1 x 60 point level 3 artsy course and I would have a BA! Just like that! How about AA310 - Film and Television History? Looks about the easiest - and you get a load of films to watch - like Citizen Kane!

So, I am happier now. But I still plan to do an MSc. One day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Taking a break ...

Yesterday, I cancelled my A103 registration - just 2 days before deadline! Motivation and desire was nil and I finally realised that I needed a BREAK! So, I am now mercifully free from TMAs - for this year, at least! I now have to think very carefully about what I would like to do next year. It has to be something I really WANT to do - physics maybe?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Stuck on scrapping!

With 2 short essays on the Colosseum to do, I decided that I needed a complete break! So I took up scrapbooking - I have SO MANY photos all over the house, that it was time that I did something with them. It's rather an addictive (and expensive!) hobby though and there is little time for the Colosseum ... but I MUST get back to it TODAY!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

100th Postcrossing card!

I received this card this morning, from Barbara of Munroe, Washington State. How nice that my 100th card should be of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, of which we have such fond memories!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Having had a fair bit of spare time (and relative peace) over the last few days, I've made great headway into Block 1, including roughs of the first 2 TMA questions. I've learnt how to analyse a painting (sort of) and how to interpret a sonnet (although I might've got it completely wrong!) But, today, I spent doing the music intro. And I couldn't hear; I have no ear. But I worked hard on timbres and things and thought I'd got it. But they've given us a piece of music to write about which has the texture of a sheet of paper and I don't know what's chordal or what's syncopation (or what that is even). Where are the tambourines and the muted trumpets?

Oh well - it's interesting anyway - onwards to the philisophy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Summertime ...

by Jackson Pollock (Jack the Dripper; alcoholic and depressive, who died in an 'alcohol-related' car crash, aged 44), 1948, which sits in the London Tate Gallery. This was my first lesson in A103, as it was the first TV programme on the first DVD (I probably should've started reading books first!). I've learnt that grey paint was dripped onto a canvas, which was then dripped more heavily onto by black paint - that bits were 'coloured in' with blue, purple, red - and that, finally some little splashes of greens and browns (to liken it to a landscape ...) were added. But, sorry, it's still complete garbage to me!

What have I done? Will I ever be able to understand art?

My materials arrived this morning. Several books, including a lovely thick book of paintings etc (including 'Summertime'), 18 CD-ROMs, 2 DVDs and the usual other bits and pieces, including the TMA booklet (there are 9 assignments - eek!) Also, arrived this morning, were the set reading books: "Wide Sargasso Sea", Jean Rhys, "Medea and Other Plays", Euripides - and "Pygmalion", Bernard Shaw. All are mercifully short - although I'm rather looking forward to reading about the mad woman in Mr Rochester's attic.

This is Pollock's painting of Moby Dick.