yay! free museums! …

yay! free museums! again? i seem to remember that most of these museums used to be free entry and introduced entrance charges about a decade ago.

it’s good to see places like the science museum and the natural history museum opened up again. i lived in south kensington as a student and had free entry to the science museum with my union card. it’s an ace place to while away a couple of spare hours. entry charges put you off doing just that and make you save these things up for when you’ve got time for a proper day out, which you never do. i’m glad to see them free again and i’d like to visit the museums of the north to celebrate.

a tale of two ecommerce companies

ecommerce company number one asks what i want doing with my parcel if i’m not in when they try to deliver it. they tell me that even if it’s just left on the doorstep it’s insured in case it’s swiped. i say “that’ll do nicely” and come home to find a box outside my front door.

ecommerce company number two try to deliver a parcel three times. in between each delivery i phone the parcel company and offer to pick the parcel up from the depot. they take my mobile phone number and don’t return my call. both the parcel company and the ecommerce company try to call me on my home phone number which i gave to neither party. the parcel company have my mobile phone number and the ecommerce company specifically asked how they should contact me and i chose email. four calls and five days after the first delivery they call me back. they can’t give me any better directions to their depot than the road and the town. i spend more than a lunch hour driving round sunderland unable to locate it (i’m not that bad a navigator). i give up and let them return the parcel to sender. i hope the ecommerce company refund my money.

this winter i will mostly be drinking virgin wines. i will not be wearing lands end jumpers.

i’m very quiet because …

i’m very quiet because i’m bizzy looking after loquax this week. that’s as well as writing a new database back end for notaflag. there’s not much time or energy left for random web surfing as well as working.

the most fun thing i’ve done this week is write a script to monitor loquax’s web server which sends warning messages to an email account at orange.net which is set up to sms me on my mobile when an email arrives. so i effectively get paged when things start to go wonky. i’m quite proud of it. though i wouldn’t put up with 24/7 paging if i didn’t own the company…

Total Recall by Sara Paretsky

Cover of

Paretsky is one of my very favourite authors so nothing I say about her books is likely to be particularly objective. Six years ago I picked up a copy of Burn Marks in the library and it changed me from being an occassional mystery reader to a fully fledged addict who only occassionally reads other genres. Strangely enough the first Paretsky I read wasn’t a mystery at all but a short story called A Taste of Life which was published as one of the mini 60p books brought out to celebrate Penguin’s 60th anniversary. That must have been 1995. And here I am today with Paretsky as one of only a very small handful of authors I think deserve buying in hardback when they come out. I just can’t wait.

I’ve avoided reading reviews of this book because there was no point to me reading them. Even if the book was declared the biggest pile of garbage ever produced I was going to read it and like it. But the vibe that I’ve picked up is that it’s not great. Not Paretsky’s best. That she’s done better. I read the book slowly, both to savour it and to put off any possible disappointment. And in the end I find that I don’t agree, I think it’s a good chapter in VI Warshawski’s life so long as you’re following the series.

One of the problems I have with some long running series are that the characters don’t get developed enough or that they just repeat themselves over and over. A couple of books back it looked as if this series might be heading into that territory. In this book however I think many members of the series cast have reached pivotal points in their lives and that future books will take them to new heights.

Vic has annoyed me in the past with her ability to lose good men as if they were going out of fashion and also with her ability to get cracked over the head twice a book without suffering any ill effects. In this book she manages to both hang onto a man who I hope is to become a permanent fixture in the series. Actually her boyfriend reminds me very much of Hy Ripinsky in Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone books which is probably just because he’s got a job that takes him off to obscure regions of the world for long periods of time. (Though how obscure Afghanistan is at the moment is another matter ;-) I wonder what experiences he will tell us about in the next book.) Also Vic manages not to get injured in this book. She scrapes her knees a couple of times but she seems to have given up chucking herself off buildings.

This book also reveals major details about Lotty Herschel’s past. I think the mystery part of this storyline was a bit weak but though I guessed what had happened almost from the beginning I still very much enjoyed this part of the book.

So this was definitely a great character book, but what about the plot? The main mystery plot gets a bit lost in all the other stuff going on to be honest. And there are a few too many coincidences in how everythign gets tied up. I didn’t mind too much but I can see why this book could get marked down for it.

For a fan of the series and the characters this is great stuff, but it’s not the book to read first.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 2nd November 2001.

ho hum. another …

ho hum. another monday morning, another pointless survey on how us internet geeks are really nice friendly people and:

the amount of time spent on the internet was also a good indicator of earnings.

i was prepared to launch into my standard rant about correlation not being the same as cause but meg‘s already written it. what she said. with bells on.

internet users are the best citizens not the worst.


the national blood service …

the national blood service has a really nifty website that can show you blood donation sessions near you. you plug in your postcode and available dates and times and it’s tells you where to go. i’m impressed.

i haven’t given blood for ages and would like to do so again. since i have a habit of fainting afterwards i like to give in the evening at a location within walking distance of home so i don’t have to drive anywhere afterwards. you can probably get the same information from 0845 7 711 711 but the website’s really well done, it’s easy to use and seems up to date.

i got 5 out …

i got 5 out of 8 on the guardian’s spelling quiz. all the answers in this quiz would be answerable by spell checker (though i rarely use one myself).

the spelling errors that drive me nuts are the misused words ones that spell checkers don’t pick up. mixing up loose and lose always seems to be particularly prevalent on the net. i think it must be because the one with the longer vowel sound actually has less vowels in it. [found via sore eyes]

it looks as if …

it looks as if the government is at least prepared to try out new methods of voting. next year’s local elections will include experiments in electronic, internet and phone voting.

there are many things that i find a pain in the arse to do in person but voting is one which i don’t mind at all. you need to vote so irregularly that i don’t find that having to screw up my schedule to do it to be much of a problem. i hope the pilot schemes are successful all the same.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

Cover of

An audio reread of a book that I loved as a teenager. I read all Tey’s books with the exception of The Daughter of Time when I was about sixteen. This was my favourite and so far I’m finding the story to have quite a different angle to the way I remember it.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.