parcel farce

i haven’t ranted about parcel delivery companies for a while. this is because i’ve been holding my tongue (or is it fingers?) rather than because i’ve had no cause to rant. i’m still convinced that there is a business to be made out of circumventing them. on the bright side i’ve noticed a few websites offering to deliver after 5pm for a surcharge lately. this is good.

and is parcel tracking anything but a placebo to make you feel in control of the system? it’s fun to know my goods are on the dublin to holyhead ferry but it would be a damn site more useful to be given some way to interact with the system. i’d like to specify preferred timeslots for delivery and tell the delivery people when to not even bother coming round because i won’t be here. merely telling me which day a delivery will be made on isn’t good enough.

irritable male syndrome

one of the most annoying things about being female is that you can’t go off into a sulky and irritable grump without someone accusing you of having pms which just serves to annoy you further because you want to be irritable and moody with people because they are annoying not just because your hormones are having a hokey kokey party. it either takes all the wind out of your sails or drives you further into moodiness. i’m glad to say they’ve now recognised ims: irritable male syndrome. cue the usual joke about women only being grumpy once a month but men being stuck with it.


surfing around for info on the wireless network cards i’m about to buy i come across this in an online diary:

can’t quite get the wireless link to reach the pub. this is a bad thing. the signal peters out about ten feet from the tables outside the pub door, so i am hoping the external antenna will fix that.

now i’m trying to work out if my local is within range too….


i’ve added a comments feature to all the books on my website, and am now just waiting for somebody to try it out…. my book database is the most searched bit of my website and also the bit that generates the most email so i figured it was a good place to let people add their own comments so everybody can benefit.

now the comment system is written i could easily add comments to my weblog but i’m not sure i’m going to. not yet anyway. the comment system has been half written for the last six months, it’s not as tidy as i’d like yet, but it’s working which is the main thing.

self styled, so called

i’ve twice today come across the term soi-disant. the first time i skipped over it without trying to comprehend it. the second time i tried to comprehend but was foxed by a typo. i looked it up: self styled. so now i know.

what i’m not so sure on is why “soi-disant” is considered a better thing to say than “self styled” as they are much the same length and the latter would be much more widely understood. there’s something subtle that i’m missing.

which reminds me of a college lecturer i once had who didn’t understand the subtleties involved in the expression “so called”. anything with a name would be “so called”. references were made to the “so called runge kutta method” as if runge and kutta had nothing to do with the derivation of the method and just gave their names to it to get a little glory. since in many mathematical cases the names on the method and the names of those who invented it don’t match up i wonder if my lecturer was more skilled in english than i first thought.

compulsory reading

i haven’t heard of the idea of getting entire cities of people to read the same book at the same time before. and whilst i think encouraging people to read is a good idea i’m not quite sure i like the stepford wives-ness of this. i don’t want to see everyone on public transport reading the same book, seeing what others have picked to read and guessing what they are like is a fun game to play when travelling. i wonder if reading a book about serial killers makes people stay away from me?

perhaps i’m just contrary and find being asked to do something a captivating reason not to do it. i love reading and have spent a good proportion of my life doing it ever since i learnt to but i still hated english literature at school and still detest the books that were my set texts. it’s fifteen years – half a lifetime – since i was set great expectations and i’ve still never picked up another dickens book and quite feasibly may never do. if the rest of my city was setting out to read a single book i’d feel obliged by my own contrary soul to avoid that book even if it was something i already wanted to read.

i do enjoy reading books that i can discuss with other people and books that i wouldn’t pick up of my own volition. that’s why i choose to belong to reading discussion groups. i think promoting discussion groups in real life (all mine are on the net) as well as just promoting reading in general would be a better idea.

two other points are made by the guardian article that i heavily disagree with.

firstly they seem to think reading is something only done to pass time on public transport. the idea that people in los angeles can’t read because most of them drive places is clearly ludicrous. even in la people don’t spend all their leisure time driving.

and secondly i don’t like to see books on tape compared to film as an easy way out for experiencing literature. the author has obviously never listened to a fifteen or twenty hour unabridged audio book. i while away traffic jams with them quite often and i know plenty of other people who listen whilst doing other things where you can’t read (for example, doing the housework or even on the train or bus if reading aggrevates travel sickness (as it does with me)). i don’t think audio books are that different an experience to turning the pages yourself. the narrator does add something to the story, but he or she doesn’t take anything away from the original work.

google logos

i think the google winter olympic logos were really “cool”. in fact i think all of the google holiday logos (including the last summer olympics) are fun to see. which means i disagree with dave who thinks they tarnish google’s name.

seeing cute animals ice skating isn’t something you’d want to see everyday, it would spoil the effect when you do, but i think the occassional fun logo to celebrate international events shows their true colours as a no suits company.


perhaps i’m missing something but it seems to me that there are plenty of ways of dealing with congestion on the roads other than charging people more to use them which is a policy that will only discourage those who are bothered about paying the charges.

most congestion is caused by people trying to get to the same places at the same times which is mainly people who are trying to get to work. there are millions of jobs where 9-5 working hours aren’t essential for a start. so long as there are times, whether individually arranged or collectively mandated, when everyone is on hand for meetings it doesn’t much matter which of the 40 hours a week i work and i suspect the same is true for many other people. increasing the acceptance of genuine flexitime and working from home seem like good ways to combat rush hour traffic to me.

this applies equally to making public transport a nicer place to be too, who wants to be sardined onto a rush hour train?

Blood Lure by Nevada Barr

Cover of

Anna Pigeon is currently one of my favourite characters in literature and it feels like she’s been through a lot since I first met her on the Track of the Cat in Texas nine books ago. In this book she’s mostly lucid and sane and it’s really comforting to see her coping with the world and not putting herself into too much danger.

Though I love the character, the setting is what really makes these books and this time we are in the Glacier National Park which spans the Montana/British Columbia border. Anna is helping out on a project to collect DNA samples from grizzly bears in the park. Until, with reasonable predictability, her camp gets ravaged by a bear, people go missing, people get killed etc. and she has to get into investigator mode.

My one criticism of this book would be that it’s slow to get off the ground. Nothing much unusual happens for the first fifty pages or so and if I wasn’t so hooked on the series and so sure that something interesting was just waiting on the sidelines to happen then I might have put it down and not got back to it for a while.

Another couple of more or less random comments: there’s a plot twist here that an author wouldn’t get away with in a first book and Anna, much as I love her, might seem a bit insipid if you first meet her in this book without knowing about her past. Both of these things mean that I wouldn’t recommend jumping into this series at this point without sampling some of the earlier books.

When it got going though the plot had pretty much everything that I could have wanted. There’s a nice balance between Anna in the park and Anna in the office, the wildlife and the murder, Anna alone and Anna with friends. My favourite episode in the series remains the remarkable Firestorm but I thought this was one of the better books in the series from plot, setting and character viewpoints.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 8th February 2002.