May 23

Sunny Vancouver!

Category: random chatter

vancouver – what a pretty city.  Kinda a bit like Melbourne, only more chilled, and greener – they have more water, I guess.

Josh and I arrived yesterday afternoon to stay with Josh’s family – Brother Scott, Sister-in-Law Donna and Criminally Cute Baby Serenity (not named for a certain lovely ship, though her parents are Firefly fans.)

They live out in the leafy green suburb of Coquitlan, not far from a lot of the filming for the Twilight films – not my favourite stories, but I’d always admired the landscapes, and Coquitlan’s parks and trails have not disappointed!  We went with Donna and Serenity on a must-stay-awake-to-stave-off-jetlag walk, and the sun was shining, and the trees were leafy and green, and I was in my happy place

But not only is Vancouver pretty, it’s also considered to be the “Hollywood of the North.” It seems that most of my favorite sci-fi tv shows have been filmed here – Stargate, Battlestar, Caprica, X-Files (hey, it was good to start out with,) Dark Angel, 4400, Smallville – the list goes on…

So this makes it almost as good as New York in terms of Recognisable Landmarks.  We only got to two of them today – the Academic Quadrangle at Simon Fraser, and the Vancouver Central Public Library.

The Academic Quadrangle has featured in a number of shows, but most notably as part of Caprica City in Battlestar and Caprica, and as the Tok’ra Homeworld Gate area in Stargate SG-1:

The Vancouver Public Library is a lovely Colloseum looking building, with curved interior walls.  If you ever watched Caprica, you might recognise it from the starting area for the Holobands which are tout-le-rage in that show.

So, we’re almost over the jetlag, though it’s gotta be time to go to bed soon.  We went to see Eddie Izzard last night however, and struggled to stay awake through the entire show, but I’ll admit, I don’t think I took in more than 2% of the humour – I simply couldn’t put his words together into a single meaningful joke…

Bed time now.  More Holiday Talk later.

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Nov 2

NaNoWriMo 2009

Category: random chatter

Ooh yeah, it’s ON people! National Novel Writing Month 2009 has commenced with a bang – Write-In at Erica and Badger’s went swimmingly, with some impressive starts from the Intergalactic Space Fuhrers (that’s our NaNoWriMo gang.)  We even have a NaNo cherry being popped this year in the guise of Amy, who blew the wordcount out of the water today to the tune of nearly 600 words over par, and good words they were too.

Amy’s stealing our dreams in her story, while Erica’s writing a squirmingly erotic fiction (a personal challenge with plans of publication thereafter.)  Another fabulous scifi from Derek, re-introducing much loved characters from last year, and a series of short stories from Badger.  Kelly’s exploring free-flow-fiction, whizzing from girls blowing soap bubbles to some kind of scary post-disaster scenery, and I’m intrigued.

As for me, my story seems to be centering around a girl called Anna, or Anushka, for now.  Who knows where she and her fellow characters will take me this year.  But I’m prepared for some ass-kickin’ action, Matrix style, and lots of nifty funky futuristic scifi tropes along the way.

But what am I wasting my word count on here on a blog post? Further In and Further Up! See you in December!

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May 21

cat yodelling, and an update on charlotte

Oh. My. God.  I just saw the epic cat yodelling video on LolCats and I simply had to share it:

In other news… Life’s pretty good.  Apologies for the lack of posting.  Been busy – new freelancing job, new man, new band.  You know how it is… But I guess I can update y’all now, if’n y’like.

New job:
So I’m still working in the same job with the charity, but with slight changes to my remit – more Fundraising going on, along with the IT stuff.  Fundraising doesn’t come as naturally as IT, but at least I’m not intimidated by putting words on the page.  The quality of those words might not always be sublime, but I get there in the end.

But the freelancing has the potential to be exciting.  I’ve been helping other Scottish non-profits develop their own Salesforce Databases.  Salesforce is my database of choice these days, especially for non-profits.  I’ve looked at all the other databases available in the charity industry – Raisers Edge and all the others.  Salesforce beats them all for price and quality.  And I love the look on other charity workers’ faces when I tell them that it’s free for non-profit orgs! So yeah, we’re liking the freelancing.  If you know of any non-profits who need a database set up, tell em I’m the cheapest they’ll find, too! /wink

New man:
The lovelife is still going nicely.  I’ve been dating a lovely boy who we shall call “J” for the past 8 months.  He’s a geek.  You’d like him.  He builds computers in his spare time, he’s a recovering warcraft player (I’m suffering a relapse just now, but I’m working through it) and he puts up with my occasional rash of girlieness with the patience of a saint.  Flat-Mate-Mads and I were watching Gok’s Fashion Fix the other night with J sat next to me on the couch, and he didn’t even sigh once.  Ok, maybe once. But he held his tongue, bless him.

He gives good hugs, and he totally gets my slightly odd-ball humor (and equally, I enjoy his outlook on the world) PLUS he likes all the geeky things that any real man should – Galactica, Firefly, Dollhouse, Trek.  All round, I’d say double thumbs up…

New band:
Oooh yeah, you’ll like this one.  They’re called Ardentjohn, and they’re BRILLIANT! I answered a Gumtree ad late last year – they were looking for a new violinist to help add to the beautiful string sound already created by their cellist.  I listened to their myspace and was pretty much hooked.  Then they gave me a copy of their new album, due for release later this year, and it was all I could do not to BEG to let me join up!

So, a few months and many intensive weekend rehearsal sessions later (I love bands who take every element of their arrangements seriously) we’re going down to London in a fortnight to play our first gig. Excitement much? I think so.

New bike!

Oh! I have a new bike, which you may have gathered from Twitter.  The second bike to be featured on this blog (the first being my beautiful but not very practical bike in China), and I loves it with all my heart.  I got it from The Bike Station – an Edinburgh based charity which accepts donated decrepit old bikes, refurbishes them, and sells them on to the public once a week, amid a mad Saturday morning scramble to be the first to find that gem of a bike.  The competition is fierce.  Doors open at The Bike Station at 10.30 am, but when J and I arrived there at 10.10am, there was already a queue of people waiting outside.  More arrived as we waited, and when the doors finally opened, they only let people into the shop 10 at a time.  Brits are very good a queueing, so it was all very orderly.

So I was let in with the second group of ten. I walked the line of bikes once, twice.  Not much there to grab my attention – they were either all too big or too small.  But then I walked it a third time, and lo! There she was.  A glimmering frame of purple mountain bike, complete with the lowered bar for girls.  Someone must have taken her out for a test ride, and then brought her back, dissatisfied.  But I wasn’t dissatisfied.  She was – IS – perfect.  She has 18 gears (every one of which is needed in Edinburgh’s mountainous geography) and she has “Born to be Wild” written on the side.

She’s a little rusty I guess, but personally, I like to think of the rust as laugh-lines.  She’s seen it all and is still giving good service.

And Edinburgh has never seemed smaller – I can get to work now faster than I would in a taxi.  And I’ve only been outrageously soaked by the rain a couple of times.

And that, my friends, is my news for now. Per-maybe-haps I’ll blog from the road about Ardentjohn.  Road trip down to London should be fun…

Much love petals!


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Feb 4

Yes we can!

Category: random chatter

OK, so I guess it’s been a loong while since I’ve blogged, and now I find myself blogging once again about that old chestnut, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  I just started rewatching the first episode today.  And oh my GOD it was good. And about 2 years before its time.  I vow and affirm to you, if it had have started airing in the Autumn of 2008 – or perhaps sometime in mid-November 2008, it would have lasted more than just the one season that it got.  Correct me if I’m wrong here, darling American friends, but my impression was that the US psyche (that same psyche whose ratings decide whether a show lives or dies) wasn’t feeling optimistic about change back in 2006, and Studio 60 didn’t get the following it needed to stay on the air.

But the unequivocal vibe that’s wobbling it’s way accross the Atlantic right now is full of hope and optimism for the future.  And Studio 60 has that vibe, at least in the first episode – “we’ve got something that needs fixing, and we’ve found just the right man [men] for the job – now let’s get to it!”

My advice? Revisit it.  You might just like it on second watching.  And don’t worry, they do at least get to finish out the season and wrap the stories up.


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Nov 13

oooh so precious

Category: random chatter

Nov 13

dont mess wif me

Category: random chatter

Some things are just a bit too precious not to share…

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Nov 4

Help me raise money for charity!

Category: random chatter

Hello lovely folks,

Here’s a “please sponsor me” request with a difference.  Some people run marathons.  Some people shave off all their hair.

Not me.

As some of you know, I’m taking part in the National Novel Writing Month this month.  It’s a challenge that some of my friends and I take up every year (ok, this year and last year, so far) to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.  Yep, 50k words – that’s about 1670 words per day, every day, for 30 days.  It’s day 4 now, and I’m on track to finish off my 6668th word this evening.

“But what’s it in aid of?” you ask.  Well, normally, nothing.  Normally it’s just a challenge we set ourselves.  But this year, I’d like to do it in aid of the charity I work for – Columba 1400.  The credit crunch has hit the whole non-profit sector pretty hard – many trusts and foundations which award funding are reliant on income streams from shares, and those income streams are looking pretty dry right now.

So, I’d like to help out in any way I can – by getting my friends and family involved.

Columba 1400 is a Scottish charity which works with young people from tough backgrounds – many of them have been in state care for much of their lives, or they could be carers for parents who have problems of their own..  It’s my organisation’s belief that these young people can achieve so much more than society traditionally leads them to believe, and it’s our mission to try to help them realise and understand that potential.

One of the phrases we use to describe our attitude is a quote from John Buchan: “Our task is not to put the greatness back into humanity, but ot elicit it – for the greatness is there already.”

Sponsoring me is easy – just whip out your credit card, visit and pledge a wee bit of encouragement – not just for me to finish my novel, but for this organisation that I work for, which sees such amazing potential in each young person who crosses our threshold.

And if you want to read the finished story when it’s done (the main character is a giant spider – who’s interested?) then just email me and I’ll send it on through to you.

From NaNo 08 images
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Sep 19

the “real” china

Category: random chatter

So Ubiquitous Jess’s boyfriend Tom is currently in Shenzhen on business [edited to add - he thinks this makes him sound very grown up and official and so perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, "tom's in Shenzhen playing with his techno junkie toys and getting paid to do it".  He prefers to think of himself "hanging in the Zhen"] and he’s been taking in the local gastronomic delights to be had there.  His comment last night was “if i have to watch one more LIVE animal being grilled or boiled…

Dot dot dot.  Tom is a gentle soul, I can’t imagine him doing anything too violent, though his sense of justice is also acute so I quite understand his disgust at throwing live prawns on a grill.  Ugh.

Anyway, he just sent me a couple of photos which he’s generously allowed me to publish here, taken in a posh “restaurant of the world” (self styled as such of course):

See, when I talk about the “real” China, I guess that I’m talking from a slightly warped perspective.  I lived in a very muslim area in the middle of one of the world’s biggest deserts.  No Fangs, No Claws is, I believe the rule of thumb in muslim cooking.  Also, crocks are kinda hard to come by when the Gobi Desert is between you and the nearest large body of tropical water.

Looks to me like Tom’s found the Real China right there…  Thanks for the pics Tom!

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Sep 9

reflections on china

Category: random chatter

So I’m at home sick today (not homesick, off work sick at home), and have been curled up in bed watching a movie on my laptop.  It got me thinking about being an expat in a non-western country.  The movie was a charming US/Bollywood indie film called Outsourced, about an American call centre manager who’s told that his whole department is being outsourced to India, and to add insult to injury he’s sent out there to train his replacement.

Anyway, this guy is pretty much the only Westerner in the town and at first feels totally out of his element.  Then he slowly begins not only to get used to his surroundings, but to quite enjoy his new life and the people he’s working with.  Just when he’s pretty much acclimatised, he has to go to another town to pick up a shipment, and it so happens that this other town is a tourist haven, with Westerners everywhere.

He makes a comment to his companion, “it doesn’t feel like India anymore!”

Suddenly I had this rush of memories of China, living in Dushanzi where there were just three of us Westerners most of the time, surrounded by Han and Uyghur and Kazak and Uzbek neighbours.  That to me feels like the *real* China.  When I visited my first major tourist spot in Dunhuang, it was so strange to see the place diluted by Western tourists.  And then even more so in Xi’an, like the “real” China that I’d grown to know whas somehow less China with all those westerners around.  And I had this wierd pang of “no, get away from this place, this is MY China!” Almost like the presence of other westerners reminded me of the fact that I was Western myself.  It reminded me on some level of that which I’d been trying to ignore – that I really didn’t fit in as well as I would have liked.

I still think a lot about China, and how much I’d like to go back there. Going there was an easy choice to make 6 years ago, my life was already in transition having finished university, without a full time job, and ready to try something totally different.  But here I am in Edinburgh and I can feel my roots going deeper and deeper here.  I sometimes wonder how deep they can go before I cease to even contemplate leaving, and on some level that saddens me, that I feel myself sinking into the comfort zone that is Edinburgh, rather than testing the limits of my experiences in strange new places…

Having said that… Hello?! This is EDINBURGH! The most beautiful city I’ve seen in my life. I’m really not complaining!

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Sep 5

social order of geekdom

Category: random chatter

Here it is folks, finally the best interpretation of the social order of the geeks, nerds, dorks and dweebs.  It’s not a hierarchy, it’s a venn diagram!  Enjoy:

See, at this point I’d like to think that I’m a Geek, but I fear that at times I might fall into the Nerd or Dork categories.  But I’m definitely not a Dweeb.  Where do you stand?

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