#amwriting

Friday, 30 September 2011 20:37
strange_complex: (Snape writing)
I'm afraid I am completely rubbish at livejournal at the moment, because I am busy trying to meet article deadlines - and this state of affairs is guaranteed to last until at least November. Still, the good news is that I submitted one article today, bang on the required deadline. This is a Wordle of the final product:


Betcha can't guess what it was about! (There's a clue in my tags).

Meanwhile, I have finished implementing all but one of the editor's suggests on another article (actually submitted several months ago), but I still need to arrange the illustrations for it. I'm less panicky about that now than I was a week ago, though, as I have discovered a nice chap in the University's Print and Copy bureau who can draw plans better than I can, and have already been working successfully with him on the illustrations for the article I submitted today. This means I feel confident about asking him to do the illustrations for the other article as well, which will cover all of them except for one photograph that I will need to go through the tedious process of tracking down permission to reproduce.

And I've now at last started work on the written version of the paper on the clustering of workshops in Roman cities which I delivered in Oxford in July - rather later than I'd have liked to, given that it is due for submission on November 1st ARGH, and term has started ARGH and I have two guest talks to deliver during October ARGH and how will I find the time ARGH! But I guess I will just have to, and I have at least managed to plan it out properly and write the first 500 words over the last two days. Evenings and weekends will clearly be things that happen to other people while I keep on writing for the next month... but there's a reasonable chance I'll have at least something to submit, along with another set of illustrations, by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, here are two things which pleased me immensely (for quite different reasons) on reading through the OUP style guide which we were sent for the book of which the clustering paper will form a part:
  • "A hallmark of our house style is the serial comma [otherwise known as the Oxford comma, natch], the comma before ‘and’ or ‘or’ in lists of three or more items: ‘red, white, and blue’, ‘feminine, masculine, or neuter’."
  • "Please make every effort to avoid any form of language or expression that might be interpreted by a reader as racist or sexist, derogatory of a particular religion or creed, or otherwise offensive. The gender-specific pronouns ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ should be avoided in any reference relevant to males and females; to achieve this, pluralize the reference, repeat the noun, use the passive voice, or use both pronoun forms (though the last solution is clumsy and undesirable for more than occasional use)." - exactly the point I made myself at the actual conference!
Apologies in advance if I'm now completely silent, or post only about work, for the next month or so. Once this batch of articles is finished, I will pretty much have my REF submission in the bag - everything will have been written, although one long-delayed article will still need chasing, and possibly rescuing and submitting to an alternative publication outlet if necessary. I'll then be able to concentrate properly on developing exciting new projects, like my work on the upcoming bimillennium of Augustus' death in 2014... and, yanno, maybe have a life a bit as well. But for the moment, I just need to jump over this final hurdle.

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Oh, FFS!

Friday, 19 November 2010 12:05
strange_complex: (Penny Dreadful)
So, remember how last Friday morning I woke up to find out that my fence had blown down? Well, this Friday morning I've woken up to this:



It seems not unreasonable to start feeling a little put-upon at this stage.

Thankfully, unlike with the fence, there is no ambiguity this time over ownership or insurance issues, so I have already made all the necessary phone-calls, and a very friendly-sounding chap from Autoglass is coming to replace the window at some point within the next couple of hours.

But I really don't have much in the way of spare time to be mucking about dealing with these sorts of things at the moment, given that I have an article due for December 1st and am already working every single evening and weekend in a desperate attempt to get it finished.

It is also galling to recognise that I could probably have saved myself the trouble of this particular incident. I did know that one is advised not to leave even the suction pad for a Sat Nav visible in a parked car, since it alerts thieves to the fact that you own one, and encourages them to break in in the hope of finding it in your glove-box. Given that I'd blithely ignored this advice (on the grounds that it's inconvenient to keep detaching and re-attaching the pad), and given where the window has been smashed, I'm pretty sure that is the story here. I'm not keen on victim blaming, so I'm trying to avoid doing that to myself in this particular situation. But I think I've learnt a hard lesson there. I've certainly taken my Sat Nav suction pad out of the car this morning, and will make sure that I don't leave it in there again.

Going back to the fence, I have made some progress, in that my gardener has said that he (and some contacts he has) can do the work to fix it. He's great and very reliable, so I'd entirely trust him to do it and charge fairly for the work. And I've also established that my own buildings and contents insurance does not cover me for fences blown over in storms. :-( But the issue of exactly who is responsible for the fence remains unresolved - and I'd value some advice here from the legally-trained types on my friendslist. I have found the following paragraph in my land registry title:
"The walls fences spouts and fallpipes separating the property hereby conveyed from the adjoining property of the Vendors or from property formerly forming part of the Vendors said Moorfield Estate or used or enjoyed jointly therewith or with any part or parts thereof are mesne or party walls fences spouts and fallpipes and shall forever hereafter be upheld maintained repaired and enjoyed accordingly."
Does that actually mean that the fence is the joint responsibility of the owners of the two properties which it divides? It sounds a bit like that to me, but I could be wrong. If you're in a position to confirm or correct that impression for me, I'd be really grateful.

If it helps, 'Moorfield Estate' is simply the name of the land on which the 1930s Art Deco houses that make up the development where I live were built. It's pretty obvious that the ruling concerns fences that stand either between houses within the 1930s development, or between the edges of the 1930s development and any adjoining land still owned by the original vendors. But does the phrase 'mesne or party' indeed mean (as it seems to me) that responsibility for maintenance and repair is joint? Tell me if you know!

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Excess baggage

Thursday, 14 August 2008 11:37
strange_complex: (Leeds Parkinson building)
About a year ago, the University library here at Leeds started selling coloured canvas bags with the word 'Sshhh!' printed on them, for people to carry their library books around in. For the sorts of unfathomable reasons that I suppose usually lie behind such fashion trends, they became a massive hit, quickly selling out and having to be re-ordered in vast numbers. It's unusual to walk across campus without seeing about twenty of them, hanging from people's hands, sitting on desks or lying on the grass in the (rare) sunshine.

Now, the library have set up a website which is charting the travels of these bags across the world as people take them on their summer holidays. They've got to Japan, Finland, the Cayman islands and sub-Saharan Africa. As yet, however, none seem to have been photographed in Belfast, Vienna or Bratislava - all cities which I will be visiting in late August and early September. So today I am going to buy one (in purple, natch), and be sure to photograph it in distinctive local venues when I go.

I am, incidentally, massively behind with LJ, because I have spent far too much time recently doing interesting things or having guests round, and far too little writing about it. Probably the right way to lean, really, but it does mean I won't then have records of the interesting things in the future. So this is me trying to break the ice and get back into the habit.

strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
OMG, why am I reading an article which contains sentences like this:
"Sahlins' argument is thus for a dialectical relationship between externally generated events and localized actions"
when I could be doing this Who meme taken from [livejournal.com profile] snapesbabe?

Who's game? )

OK, I'm working now...

strange_complex: (All roads lead to Rome)
I'm finding it rather hard to concentrate on article-writing this weekend, because the deadline is too far away, and I already know my basic arguments for most of the bit I'm writing up at the moment. In some ideal academic world, I would be writing like a demon anyway, getting it finished so I can get on to the next thing, and maybe even enjoy some free weekends later this month. As it is, I'm having to chivvy myself along using the promise of little breaks to motivate myself. So it's all, 'If you can get this paragraph done by X o'clock, then you may break up boxes for recycling / email so-and-so / cut your toe-nails'. This break, I get to write up another Doctor Who story. Woot!

First Doctor: The Romans )

strange_complex: (Snape writing)
I seem to have rather good work mojo on at the moment. Not in an achieving incredible things sort of way - but just in a rather satisfying getting on with it and ticking things off the 'to do' list sort of way. I'm in a run of busy teaching weeks which will last for another fortnight - but I'm keeping on top of things in a way which suggests that once things slacken off a little on the teaching front, I should be able to get some Actual Research done. Y'never know.

While this is clearly a Good Thing, it does seem to mean getting behind with my LJ. So, in order not to accumulate an overwhelming backlog of stuff which ends up preventing me from posting, let's have some bullet-points:
  • I went to a lovely concert in Chapel Allerton on Saturday with [livejournal.com profile] big_daz, featuring northern-based choir Renaissance Voices singing a rich programme of Monteverdi, Palestrina, Gabrieli and the like. It was very beautiful, and Daz and I had a grand old time drinking and chatting in a nearby pub afterwards.
  • I finally chose a bed! And Argos are delivering it tomorrow. I look forward to this immensely, as I deliberately chose a super-comfortable mattress for it, and am pretty sure it will be a great improvement on my current cheap single mattress.
  • All week long, some Tibetan monks have been creating an amazing multi-coloured design out of sand in the University's Parkinson Court. I thought they were painting it at first, but when I looked closer, I realised that they were actually very slowly and carefully releasing a stream of sand-grains onto the paper from thin conical tubes. It's incredibly intricate and amazing - and tomorrow afternoon they are going to destroy it, to show the impermanence of things. Their work, and the associated exhibition of photographs, trinket-stall and information stand, has triumphantly outdone a similar photographic exhibition which the Chinese society put on in the same space a few weeks ago, and which I'd forgotten all about until [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau reminded me. In the Parkinson Cultural Propaganda Wars, it is China: 0, Tibet: 1.
  • On Sunday, I shall be going along to the opening rehearsal of a non-auditioning Leeds-based choir, The Sacred Wing. Basically it's for LGBT people who like singing sacred music, and this year they're preparing Vivaldi's Gloria, Handel's Zadok the Priest and a few carols for a Christmas concert. This is very cheering to me after last week's experience - not having an audition is a very promising start, and I'm assuming they'll be more than averagely receptive to the idea of a woman singing tenor. Plus I looked through my score of the Gloria, and the tenor line doesn't go below the E below middle C, so NO-ONE can tell me I don't have the range for it!
That's all of note, really. But at least I can post from fresh next time.

strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
I attended the first meeting of the book group I've joined at work today - the one I read I'm Not Scared for. I hadn't been too sure about the group previously, but actually I really enjoyed the meeting. Having a good old chat about the book was fun, and I'm getting to like the other people in the group more, now that we've interacted a bit. There are some quiet folks, but also plenty of people who are prepared to speak up with interesting opinions, while at the same time being keen to listen to other people's contributions.

So I shall certainly be going along to the next meeting, and have already snagged the only copy of the next book we'll be reading (The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón) from the University library - mua-ha-ha-hah!

Meanwhile, I took the 'Which Doctor?' test that everyone else has been taking. Last time I did one, I came out as the First Doctor - but then that was three years ago, the new series hadn't started up yet, and there were fewer options available. This time, despite this little exchange on [livejournal.com profile] nhw's journal this morning, I took it without aiming for any particular result at all, but simply answering all the questions as honestly as I could. I suspect that my result hinged largely on my answer to the final question, which I found really hard, dithering between two of the four options for ages. Was my ideal doctor a Victorian gentlemen, or an eccentric and perpetually curious thinker?

Well? )

strange_complex: (Snape writing)
1. Last Wednesday - went off for the day with Mum on the Severn Valley Railway. We saw partridges, pheasants, rabbits, butterflies, great crested grebe, elephants, bison and gazelle. Although I suppose it's only fair to explain that the last three were in a safari park visible from the railway. Enjoyed a lovely picnic at Arley, then walked along the river a bit, glorying in the warm weather. All the way there and back, I examined properties along the route with a buyer's eye. I can't help it now - force of habit.

2. On that note, I'm still waiting to hear about the house. My first offer was rejected; I raised it to what was my absolute upper limit and said so; the seller relayed that it was rather less than she wanted but she'd think about it; I enquired again of the estate agents on Friday, but they said she still hadn't decided. I do know that no other offers have been made, though. So ideally she'll wait a bit longer, see that no-one else is offering and accept my bid. Two people saw it over the weekend, apparently, but I know a lot of people have seen it by now and very few have offered, so I'm cautiously hopeful.

3. Thursday to Saturday saw me attending the annual Classical Association conference. Well, actually it carried on this morning too, but I decided to bunk the last part for the sake of a lie-in and some more relaxed parent time. I must say it was probably the best CA conference I've been to (out of three altogether) in terms of papers and general conviviality. Logistics perhaps not so great - it was in a fairly second-rate hotel, with not wonderful food and tedious queues at the lifts to move around the building. But I spent the conference dinner last night (in the much nicer surroundings of the University of Birmingham's Great Hall) with a big grin on my face, feeling on a high from the whole experience. There's too much to record now, of course, but highlights were the comedy caretaker during John Henderson's opening lecture, some cracking panels on Roman cities and all flavours of Classical Receptions (including Buffy and Achilles / Patroclus m-preg fanfics), and all the lovely people I got to catch up with.

4. Did some enjoyable shopping in Brum on Saturday afternoon - scheduled as excursion time for conference-goers, but I'd been to all the places they suggested visiting many times before, having grown up here. Surprised myself slightly by buying some baseball boots - not my normal style, but I really was desperate for new shoes by this stage, and I think they can become my style. Also got CivCity: Rome, which I've wanted for about a year now, ever since I first heard it was coming out, and was reminded of by a great session on Classics in computer games at the conference. And I enjoyed just generally wandering around Birmingham city centre, experiencing the weird combination of things which haven't changed at all and things which are totally unrecognisable, and exploring the various memories which streets and buildings threw up in my mind. I'm proud of my roots here.

5. Term starts again tomorrow. Wah! Only two weeks of teaching and one of revision classes, but they're going to be pretty tough. I'm more-or-less ready, but have a lot to do over the next few days.

6. Haven't seen this week's Who yet, as I was out at the dinner last night, and now my parents' cable box is broken! So that will have to be squeezed in over the next few days too. Have been reading people's online reactions, though. It seems to have provoked quite a lot of discussion and some division.

7. I am travelling home first class in the train tonight, because there was a cheap weekend upgrade available, and I've always wanted to try it out. It'll be a bit different from the Severan Valley Railway, where we were in a third-class compartment!

Easter weekend

Monday, 9 April 2007 14:31
strange_complex: (Cocoa beans)
On Saturday, my Mum and I went shopping in Solihull - an extremely posh suburb of Birmingham which likes to pretend it has nothing to do with Birmingham whatsoever. There, I noticed that both John Lewis and Beatties sold miniature morning coats and pinstripe suits for tiny little children - presumably so that they can be page-boys at weddings and so on. SO CUTE!

My main mission was to buy shoes and bras, since I'm getting dangerously close to having no wearable examples of either. Since I was effectively going to have to start my bra wardrobe again from scratch, I got myself measured up, figuring I might as well do it properly. For years, I've believed I was a 34B, but it turned out I'm actually a 32C - a significant (and rather pleasing!) difference, as female readers will realise. So I'm now feeling a lot more comfy in the bosom region.

Pity I can't say the same for my feet, though. Of course, when I say 'shoes', I actually mean 'ankle-boots', since that's all I ever wear. But there are next to none in the shops at this time of year, and what there are are all hideous. So I gave up in the end, and consoled myself by buying a posh frock for my cousin's wedding in June, instead.

In the evening, still in my old, nearly-dead shoes, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's parents' house, where she (like me) was spending Easter weekend at the family homestead. We watched Doctor Who with her two-year-old daughter, who was allowed to stay up for it specially, and then ate yummy kebabs and played Trivial Pursuit with her parents. The game never quite got finished, as everyone became very merry and eventually had to toddle off to bed, but it was lots of fun, and [livejournal.com profile] hollyione and I as the last two players agreed to declare an honourable and amicable draw.

Sunday was mainly Verulamium-article-writing, but there was a bit of chocolate-egg-exchanging too, while in the evening we ate a delicious juicy duck. I then wound up the day by rewatching Doctor Who, as there were quite a few bits of dialogue I'd missed the previous day while [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's daughter was trying to decide whether she was scared of the witches or not!

It definitely rewarded a second watching, though. I got the chance to notice things like the conversation over the TARDIS console at the very beginning of the episode, where Martha is asking how exactly the TARDIS can travel in time, and the Doctor replies with something like, "Oh, you've got to take the magic out of everything haven't you - it just does!", thus establishing the magic / technology issue right from the opening scene. And how cool that Queen Elizabeth is his sworn enemy, even though he's never met her! I can't see an obvious episode in the coming series where that will be resolved, so I take it as a long-term promise for an Elizabethan story involving her as a character - ideally while we still have David Tennant, to explain how she recognises him. And I like that we're dealing with a series which troubles to set up long-term plot elements like that.

Oh! And a thought: since Shakespeare is set up earlier in the episode as being so very perceptive (noticing how old the Doctor's eyes are, and how Martha looks at him as though she can't believe he exists), does this mean we are to take him 100% seriously when he says to Martha that the Doctor will never kiss her? (Excepting, of course, the fact that he already has - I mean kiss her in lurve?) Or is it just a corny line to get himself a snog? Discuss!

Meanwhile, in the realm of the scarily-real, I have made an offer on this house. But not heard anything back yet. Wah, the frustration! I'm on tenterhooks about it all the time, waiting, and wondering, and trying to second-guess what's going on in the seller's mind. It's like waiting to hear about a job interview.

Well, you'll hear about it here when I do!

All in a day's work

Wednesday, 7 March 2007 11:00
strange_complex: (Cathica spike)
Yesterday, leaving work at around 7pm, I realised that I had spent three hours of the day teaching (lecture on sources for Julius Caesar; lecture on Roman houses; seminar on issues and problems with Pompeii) and three and a half learning things (2-hour Italian class1; 1.5 hour Leeds Classical Association lecture on ancient entertainments as illuminated by inscriptions from Aphrodisias and Ephesus). And I wasn't even going home, either - I was going to have dinner with some colleagues and the lady who had delivered the Classical Association lecture, Prof. Charlotte Roueché.

I'd not met her before, but wow! She was amazing. A firebolt of energy, fantastically interested in everything and everyone around her (related to her subject or not), extremely insightful and superbly well able to communicate her specialist area in all its complexity to non-experts, and have them laughing along and utterly absorbed in what she had to say. That's what I want to be like when I grow up, please.

It was a great day, though. One of those where you feel wrapped up and stimulated by everything going on around you, and it's all so exciting that you don't feel tired at all. Well, not until the end of our meal, anyway, by which time I had faded like a wilting violet, and was fighting unsuccessfully to suppress yawns...

Now today I have just spent the whole of the last two hours writing important emails and filling in a rather silly risk assessment form for the trip I will be taking students on to Lincoln: "Is the area politically stable?"; "Are at least two members of the party competent in the local language?"; "Have the local police been consulted?". Um... I know Lincoln has its dodgy areas, just like any town, but seriously - the most dangerous thing my students will be doing on the trip is crossing the road... just like they do every day.

Time for a bit of lecture preparation, I think.
---------------
1. During which we made origami penguins and told each other how to make our favourite recipes.

strange_complex: (Anas Penelope)
Today has been mainly about settling in. I learnt to use my new washing machine, did a proper shop at Morrisons (conveniently situated only 5 minutes from my flat), and got stuff ready for work tomorrow. And, more importantly, I started meeting new people.

[livejournal.com profile] stompyboots pointed me in the direction of a Leeds-based LJer named [livejournal.com profile] gillywoo soon after I got my job here, so we've been getting to know each other online for some months. And once she knew I'd arrived safely, [livejournal.com profile] gillywoo very kindly got in touch yesterday to invite me out for Sunday lunch with a few of the local goth / geek types. We went out to a pub in Wortley, where I was able to put faces to some of the names I've been meeting through live journal, and eat a nice big roast dinner to boot - bargain! Everyone seemed like good, genuine people who I could get to like a lot, and I really appreciated being invited along.

Incidentally, for [livejournal.com profile] big_daz and [livejournal.com profile] glennkenobi, who were interested when I mentioned it at lunch, I include here the link to the Surname Profiler Project, which I saw originally on [livejournal.com profile] poliphilo's journal. Just click on 'Start a surname search' in the top right-hand corner to find out where in Britain your surname was most common in 1881 or 1998, its frequency in the population and the ethnicity of first names associated with it.

The week ahead seems very full of long events I have to attend - mainly induction-type stuff. But it's all about finding your feet, isn't it, and I'm sure it'll be useful. Plus it looks like I'll be having lunch with another new resident of the city, [livejournal.com profile] themonkeypolice on Thursday, and it's one of the local goth nights, Friday Flock on, well - Friday!

So, all in all, I can't complain.

strange_complex: (Lady Penelope)
Woot! I have prepared two classes' worth of stuff for the summer school today. That plus the fact that there isn't a class on Wednesday morning means I now don't need to do any more work on it (other than teach the actual classes, natch) until Wednesday itself, when I shall begin preparing Thursday's class. And there are only three classes this week anyway (four is more normal), so by 9:30am on Thursday morning, I'll be done for the week. Should stand a real chance of getting some of my own stuff done this week, then.

Backtracking a little, Smell tests in Warwick )

Purcell's Fairy Queen )

Framing, furnishings, chocolate and Dr. Who )

So, quite busy, and I'm pretty tired (as ever!), but feeling much better about things now. The summer school nearly got on top of me the week before it started, but I've turned things round now, and I'm definitely back on top of it. Now time for an early night, so I'm ready to teach again tomorrow at 8:30(!)...

School's in

Sunday, 2 July 2006 22:00
strange_complex: (Snape writing)
The summer school began officially this evening, with a faculty meeting for us tutors, followed by an opening dinner for all. This took place in St. John's college hall, with faculty members sitting on high table, and the rest of the hall completely packed out with students. With welcoming speeches, wide-eyed newcomers, and a healthy scattering of the sort of eccentric academics that I think only Britain can really produce, it all had a rather Potteresque feel to it. And I certainly enjoyed the thrill of eating at St. John's high table in an official academic capacity - even if only temporarily.

Now things are really kicking off, I'm feeling quite whipped up in it all. The students are all American, mainly from Rhodes College, Memphis and Sewanee, Tennessee. Those I've met so far all seem very keen - mainly in a freshly-scrubbed, jacket-and-tie sort of way, but I was pleased to spot one young lady with purple hair and all dressed in black at dinner! I hope she is on my course.

Meanwhile, my colleagues all seem very nice so far, although I do stand out a bit by being blatantly the youngest, and also the only one who hasn't taught on the programme before. Still, we had an interesting conversation about drag over dinner, which took in Bugs Bunny, Lily Savage, Vesta Tilley, Benny Hill and that 'yeah-but-no-but' girl from Little Britain. Got to be a good start.

Should I choose to, I can go on an almost infinite number of pre-paid trips and excursions over the next few weeks, taking in plays at both Stratford and the Globe, early cathedrals, Cotswold villages and even a weekend excursion to Ghent and Bruges complete with choral concert! How much I'll get involved in that side I'm not quite sure yet, since too much of it will very quickly soak up the small amounts of free time I still have left to do my own things and, y'know, actually see my friends a bit before I move away from Oxford. But I'll probably be tempted along for a few of them. And I'll certainly be attending the swanky black-tie dinner they're having on Tuesday to mark the Fourth of July. Time to get out my big purple ball-skirt, I think. :)

Living as a hermit

Saturday, 8 April 2006 13:22
strange_complex: (Penelope)
I've just been on a round trip to the post office and Sainsbury's. This is worthy of note, because it is the first time I have left the house at all, for anything, since last Saturday evening. That makes six whole, complete days as a hermit: quite possibly the longest time I've been without leaving the house ever before.

It must be confessed that I fall a little short of true hermit status, because Fleur WINOLJ came round for a whole two hours on Wednesday night, and I have also been talking to people occasionally on the phone, as well as reading and commenting on people's LJs. Still, I've definitely been spending an unusual amount of time with no company but my own.

Damn fine company, too )

A bright spring morning in Oxenmaford )

My new trousers )

WOW! )

I'm always nervous about the fit of clothes when buying online, but these don't just fit me well. They fit me perfectly - like they'd been growed for the job (as my Dad says). They are also incredibly flattering to my figure, and will go very nicely with some chunky black and purple ankle-boots and a funky industrial black and purple jumper which I already own. I cannot, of course, attend Intrusion on Tuesday, due to the continuing hermitage. But you can bet your boots I'll be there for the May 9th one, and that these trousers will be with me. Oh, and I should warn any fellow attendees that, according to the label, these trousers are called 'Lust Pants'. Beware!

Well, I guess it's back to the grindstone, then. I'm currently writing about baths in the urban periphery - why they were built there, what they were like and what people did with them. Cheery comments to help me on my way much appreciated!
strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
Nothing spectacular - just one of those days that you feel good about at the end of it. So far, it has gone like this:

Morning - made good progress with chapter four. Finished the process, started yesterday, of collapsing the first 3000 words of it into 2000 better words. If things continue at this rate, of both speed and reduction, I've a good chance of finishing according to my current schedule (i.e. by April 18th).

Lunch - ate microwaved remains of last night's Taste the Difference goat's cheese and red pepper pizza. Yummy.

2pm - met [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots for coffee. Chatted about Leeds (which for some reason I kept calling 'Liverpool'), book, laptops and her current crush. It felt like a high-quality, well-deserved break after a productive morning - rah!

3pm - headed for the library. Continued to be happily productive. Tracked down useful and interesting references easily and efficiently. Left feeling I'd made significant progress.

5pm - bought tasty things at Sainsbury's and took them home.

And now, [livejournal.com profile] davesangel will be arriving shortly to stay over for the night! I haven't seen her since December, and am really looking forward to spend the evening eating some of the tasty food I bought earlier and chatting together.

So, in short - hooray!
strange_complex: (Oh Penny!)
Man, it's a good thing that when I finish writing lectures on my home computer for use at Warwick the next day, I not only upload them onto the University server over their intranet, but also email them to myself, just in case.

Because it means that when I do something completely and utterly stupid, like upload two copies of my lecture notes onto the server, instead of one copy of the notes and one copy of the handout, I still have another place where I've put the files, and another chance of having got it right. Which, thankfully, I did.

*blood pressure slowly normalising*

Commuting

Tuesday, 17 January 2006 12:48
strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
I can, on occasion, be heard complaining about the three-hour round trip I have to do when I go in to work at Warwick for the day. But, y'know, it's not all bad.

For one thing, the journey time is actually only about quarter of an hour longer than it would take to drive to Warwick from where I live, assuming good driving conditions. This is partly a factor of me living so close to the station, but hey! I do live very close to the station. That's the way it is, so I may as well take advantage of it. Taking into account the smugness I can feel about my environmental friendliness and the utter absence of driving stress, the slightly longer journey time is easily compensated for. Also, in the morning, the trains are extremely reliable, so that I'm not at the mercy of traffic, and don't need to blow my top about whether I'll arrive in time for my lectures or not. This is not the case on the way home, which can be extremely irritating when you've had a long day and just want to crash. But I've learnt to be philosophical about it, and I'd certainly rather they were unreliable on the return leg than the outwards one.

There is also the matter of my morning cup of coffee, which I purchase with great enjoyment from the AMT kiosk in the station, and then sip dreamily as I sit in my favourite seat (all regular commuters have one), gazing out of the window across an early-morning countryside. That coffee really cheers me up, in that disproportionate way that only the small things can. It's the main reason, in fact, that I leave the house with a spring in my step when I go to catch my train. It's sweet, and flavoursome, and always served just right and quickly enough for me to make the 8:00. It sets me up, and sends me off on my journey with a positive note. It is also frequently served to me by a very good-looking young fellow called Ruben, who likes to give me a charming smile and ask how I am each day. I do not actually fancy Ruben, but it does a girl no harm in the morning to be gently flirted at by an attractive gentleman who is also giving her coffee.

But best of all, once on the train, my time is my own. I can sit back and relax, I can get work done, and I can enjoy the charmingly English landscape which slides by on either side. I see some genuinely beautiful sights out of that train window, which I would be sad to miss. For example, in the last fortnight:
  • Pale pink sunrises through the haze
  • Stark, silhouetted tree-tops emerging from successive layers of mist, retreating back layer by layer into the distance
  • Sparkling, frosty fields which look for all the world as though they're made of sugar-icing
  • A sole swan lazing around on a perfect oxbow lake
  • Three deer tip-toeing delicately through a field
  • A fox nosing around in undergrowth
  • A group of cows with two little calves (quite a surprise in January, but there they were - a nice precursor to the lambs who will appear in another few months)
  • Hearty people walking their dogs who allow me to think, "Gosh, I'm glad I'm curled up on a warm train with my coffee, and not out there yomping through the fields like you!"
  • And of course all the usual sheep, horses, cows, canal boats, rural churches and ruined abbeys that I normally see on that route
Yup, it could definitely be worse.
strange_complex: (Urbs Roma)
Happy 2111st birthday to everyone's favourite embodiment of dignitas and humanitas: Marcus Tullius Cicero!

Meanwhile, if I am a little quiet myself at the moment, the start of term tomorrow is the reason. Back on full form by the weekend, I swear.

strange_complex: (Latin admirable sentiment)
Some random recent things:

1. Yesterday, a man came round and raked all the leaves off my lawn! I'd been meaning to do it myself, but I'm glad I didn't now. He's the gardener for the communal parts of our flats, and has no obligation to do anything with my patch at all. But I ain't going to be the one who goes out and explains to him where the communal parts end and my own garden begins.

2. Yesterday evening was Cat WINOLJ's birthday, and what a lovely time we had. Luscious cocktails in Raoul's, followed by dinner in a place called Big Bang. Not, as Hitch-Hikers fans might assume, a burger bar, but a place which specialised in sausages and mash. I had two deliciously rich venison sausages on a garlic and rosemary mash and swimming in a gorgeous red wine 'jus'1, followed by Jam Roly-Poly - yay! Definitely a good choice of venue, to which I hope to return in future to explore some of their other options.

3. Book stuff seems to be happening at the moment. I've got lots of other bitty tasks to do, so I'm setting a pattern of working solidly on the book in the morning, and sorting out other stuff in the afternoon, with a return to the book later on if I'm not going out in the evening. Progress is being made this way on all fronts, and it feels good. It is also amazing how much time there turns out to be in a week when you're not spending 10 hours of it commuting.

4. I've now posted my letter of complaint to the manager at Dukes Hotel. Sorry it took a few days, chaps - my printer is being rubbish again, so I had to get a friend-of-a-friend to do it. But it's on its way.

5. I'm starting to feel reasonably Christmassy, but I'm not cracking out the Xmas music until I do my cards - probably tonight and / or tomorrow. Big thanks to those people who have sent cards to me already!

6. That's probably enough for now.
--------
1. Since when was a perfectly good word like 'sauce' universally ousted by the word 'jus'? That's what I want to know.

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