I blame Yetzirah.

I’ve always liked the idea of organisers and planner-type diaries, but whenever I’ve gone to buy one I’ve been put off by the fact that what they organise has little relationship to my life. I don’t need to keep an expenses sheet, record my milage, or file business cards, but I do need somewhere to plan essays, record the titles of books I hear about and think I’d like to read one day, write shopping lists, and keep track of the books I’m releasing until I can get to a computer to make release notes. My solution to this problem has always been to use Outlook to keep track of work stuff (meetings, important deadlines, and upcoming tasks), use a cheap diary to record personal appointments, birthdays, etc, and use a variety of scrappy notebooks and bits of paper for everything else. This wasn’t particularly satisfactory – I was forever copying information between Outlook and my paper diary (otherwise I’d do something like book a dentist appointment on a day when I had an important meeting), I kept losing all the important bits of paper, and I seemed to spend more time entering tasks into Outlook than I actually did doing them.

Then a few days ago Yetzirah mentioned the DIY Planner site in her diary, saying “I have never seen a day planner that had everything in it that I wanted”. That immediately rang a bell with me, so I had a look at the site and came away stunned by the basic premise, which is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas: if you can’t find a planner that fits your needs, make your own.

I was immediately inspired, and after having a look through the templates the DIY Planner site offers, decided to have a go at designing my perfect planner. I knew I wanted it A5 size – small enough to carry around but big enough to write in easily – and I wanted it ring-bound so I could take pages out and add new pages as circumstances changed (e.g. if I’m going on a bookcrossing trip I need much more space to record releases than at other times). The DIY Planner site had some of the pages I wanted, but not all, so I decided to create my own. By the end of the week I had created all the pages I wanted, and just needed a folder to put them in.

The pages of my perfect planner (for now, anyway – I’ll probably make a few changes once I’ve used it for a while and know what works and what doesn’t):

  • A calendar that shows one week per two-page spread, has just as much space for Saturday and Sunday as for weekdays, and has each day divided into hours for recording appointments, with a blank space at the side for general notes about the day that don’t relate to a particular time (like “X’s birthday”, “De-flea cats today”, etc).
  • A year planner that shows me quickly when the university terms are so I can easily plan holidays without interfering with my studies, and where I can record how many days leave I’ve taken from work.
  • To Do lists, divided into work and home, long-term and more urgent.
  • Forms for recording releases, with spaces for title, BCID, date, time, location, and whether I took a photo.
  • Similar forms for releases using pre-numbered labels, with a bit more space for recording details about the book so I can complete the registration when I get home.
  • Forms for making notes about the book that I’m reading so I can make a journal entry later. While I’m reading a book I often think of comments I want to make when I write my journal entry, but unless I write them down straight away, by the time I come to actually make the journal entry I’ve forgotten most of them, and can’t think of much more than “I liked this book”.
  • Wish-list pages for recording books I want to find a copy of one day (I’ve got a bookcrossing wish-list, but that’s not much help when I’m standing in a bookshop trying to remember the name of an author), and other “one day” purchases (the kind of thing where you say “one day we really must buy a…”, but you never remember when you’re actually shopping). I’ll probably use these pages for ordinary shopping lists too.
  • Blank pages for writing free-form things like essay ideas that always come to you at times when you don’t have your study notes with you.
  • Addresses and contact details. I’ll probably keep a master copy of this on my computer, and reprint it when I need to add someone or if someone’s details change. That way I won’t need to keep 26 blank pages for the handful of people whose contact details I want to keep handy, just on the off-chance I meet someone whose name starts with X.

Anyway, with pages ready to print, today’s mission was to find a folder to put them in. Ideally, I wanted something with a zip or clasp to hold it closed, maybe with a few pockets inside for holding a pen and some release supplies, and preferably something that felt nice to carry round. Anyway, we headed into town, first stop Whitcoulls. Where I found what would have been the perfect folder, except it was $98!!! Spending that much money was definitely not part of the plan. That seemed to be the only type of organiser they had in stock, and the other stationery shops we tried were similarly lacking, so we decided to go down to South City to the Stationery Warehouse, which is often cheaper, and usually has a slightly better range than the smaller shops. And there we found… exactly the same type of organiser for exactly the same price, and no other options.

I was just about to move to Plan B (get an ordinary ring-binder and attach some ties to hold it closed and a pen on a string, probably to be closely followed by Plan C: forget the whole thing), when I spotted a nice little fake-leather writing case:

[album 128913 300906planner1.JPG thumblink]

It was the right size, had a zip to close it, and even had pockets. Best of all, it was only $25, a much more reasonable price. The only problem was, it wasn’t a ring binder, so there’d be nothing to keep the pages in place. But inspiration struck and I realised how a bit of good old kiwi ingenuity could save the day. I found a cheap plastic ordinary ring-binder with small rings, and later at home cut the covers off and trimmed the spine so that it would fit into the spine of the letter-case. A bit of glue, and voila, I had an organiser folder:

[album 128913 300906planner2.JPG thumblink]

Filofax eat your heart out!

Total cost, including a set of subject dividers: just over $30. And even better, because I used a standard 2-ring binder I can just use an ordinary hole-punch to punch the pages, instead of faffing around trying to punch 6 holes like the “proper” organisers had.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to printing off pages, cutting them in half (I printed them on A4 paper), and punching holes.

And here’s the finished product:

[album 128913 300906planner3.JPG thumblink]

(Yes, I did make a mess of punching the holes – I forgot that because the rings were smaller than normal I’d have to punch the holes closer to the edge of the paper, so had to go back and repunch most of the pages)

I’m feeling very pleased with my efforts. It’s not as decorative as Yetzirah’s, but it’ll do the job. And I have got a few ideas about improving its looks, but I’m still deciding exactly what I want to do.

Of course, it remains to be seen if having all this organisational potential will actually make me any more organised…

I took the opportunity to release a few books while we were wandering around town hunting organisers: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, Morons from Outer Space by Simon Bell, and New Woman New Fiction.

A pity I’ve got a Spanish essay to write tomorrow, or I could go on a releasing expedition to try out my new release recording forms. Maybe if I get the essay written quickly enough…

Currently reading: The Newtonian Casino by Thomas A Bass

Books and ozone holes

I remember at high school our principal giving us a talk in assembly one day about the dangers of ozone depletion. He predicted that within our lifetimes a day would come when we wouldn’t be able to go outside without protective clothing because the ultraviolet radiation would be so intense that we’d be burnt in seconds. If you listened to the more dramatic elements in the news media, you’d think that day had come today, with dire warnings about the dangers of going out unprotected while this “rogue” ozone hole is hovering over New Zealand. The way some of them were talking, you’d think that stepping outside even for a second would see you burnt to a crisp. A calmer view of the data, however, suggests that, yes, there is an ozone hole over the country at the moment, and it has increased the amount of ultraviolet radiation significantly, but because it’s still only early spring, the radiation is actually no worse than on a normal summer’s day. The real danger lies in the fact that it’s not as hot as a summer’s day, so you don’t realise you’re being burnt, and also because most people are still pale after the winter, so haven’t built up as much protective melanin yet as they will have by summer. But not exactly end of the world, lock yourself in your house with the curtains closed, as the more dramatic were implying.

As it happens MrPloppy and I did spend the day inside, but that’s because we decided to “weed” our (many) bookshelves, which were seriously overflowing. So we pulled all the books off the shelves, and then each went through the piles selecting the books we wanted to keep and putting them back on the shelves. All the books that were left once we finished are ones neither of us want any more, so I’ll register and release them eventually. Of course, in the meantime we’ve got two huge piles of books cluttering up the hallway.

[album 128913 240906books1.jpg thumblink] [album 128913 240906books2.jpg thumblink]

At least the bookcases are looking a bit tidier…

Currently reading: Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human by KW Jeter

Being honest and spending money

I think I’ve mentioned before the kitten in a tutu I use as my avatar on most forums I visit?

[album 128913 FutureCat.jpg]

I originally found it in the default avatar set of a now-defunct forum, and assumed it must be public domain, so kept a copy and have used it ever since. I’ve wondered a few times where it originally came from, but have never bothered to try and find out. Until yesterday, that is, when in an idle moment I did a bit of googling, and discovered the artist’s website, and that I had been breaching her copyright all this time. I suppose I could have just kept using the picture anyway, safe in the knowledge that the internet is a vast place and the chances of me being caught were pretty small, but after a bit of soul-searching I decided to come clean. I wrote her an email explaining where I’d found the picture and what I’d used it for, apologised, and asked her permission to carry on using it. It was a bit of a risk, because she might have said no, or even worse, sued me or something, but I knew if I didn’t ask my conscience wouldn’t let me keep using the picture, and I’m rather attached to my dancing kitten.

And the risk paid off. I got this email this morning:


Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you enjoy my work.

Yes, you may continue to use a picture of “Cat Dancing” as your avatar, with my blessings. I’m glad that you like it.

And yeah, a lot of places don’t understand copyright, and think that if they’re not getting money from it, copying an image is “Free Use.” That’s not the meaning of “free,” though, in the context of copyright.

But it’s a common error, and just an error, and of course I don’t hold it against you, especially since you corrected it as soon as you were aware of it.

I really appreciate that.

Just please do mention that it’s mine, and you have permission to use it, if there’s a place for it. (Perhaps in your profile, if there’s room, or something.)

Have a wonderful day, and thanks again for contacting me.

Robin Wood

So I’m now legally (and more importantly, morally) ok to keep using “Cat Dancing” (© Robin Wood, used with permission!). And I’ve bought myself a print of it from her site. The original picture is even nicer than the tiny avatar version, too – you can see it here.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been walking to work as well as walking home. I found a slightly quicker route, so it only takes me about 45 minutes to walk, which is not bad considering that the bus takes about 20 minutes (it takes a very circuitous route with lots of stops), plus of course when I take the bus I never know exactly when it will turn up, so I’ve got to be at the stop 10 minutes before just in case it’s early. And after a walk I get to work feeling a lot more ready to start the day than when I get off the bus. It does mean getting up 20 minutes earlier, of course, but that hasn’t been too much of a hardship now that it’s light earlier – I may have second thoughts in a couple of weeks when daylight savings starts!

Anyway, walking that distance (and back!) every day finally made me realise I needed a decent pair of gym shoes. My cheap canvas “commando” gymmies are fine for general mucking around, but they’re definitely not up to longer walks – my feet would start to ache about half way home. So this morning I bit the bullet and went and bought myself a good pair of walking shoes. And amazingly, it was a pleasant experience! MrPloppy and I went to Riccarton and went into the first sports shoe shop we came across, The Athelete’s Foot. We stood looking in bewilderment at the vast range of shoes, and almost immediately a friendly and efficient sales assistant came up and offered help. He asked intelligent questions about what I needed the shoes for, how much walking I did, what sort of surfaces I was walking on, where my feet had been hurting from my normal shoes… and then rather than just asking what size I was actually measured my feet properly and got me to stand on a pressure plate that showed where I needed support and cushioning. He seemed to really know what he was talking about, not just be giving a sales pitch, and when I told him what price range I wanted to go to he didn’t try to talk me up or anything. I was seriously impressed.

So many shops nowadays, especially the big chains, seem to forget how important that kind of service is for building customer loyalty. They employ kids who know nothing, give them the minimum of training, and concentrate more on selling the customer the highest priced item instead of worrying about what the customer actually needs. It was so nice to actually be served by someone who understood the product he was selling and was able to recommend me the right shoe straight away: it was a perfect fit and supported my foot exactly right. And well within the budget I’d given him. And that sort of service counts for so much. I probably could have found the same shoe elsewhere cheaper, and normally I’d have shopped around a bit. But because the service was so good I just handed over my credit card without a quibble. And I’ll be recommending them to everyone I know.

Of course, because the shoe shopping experience hadn’t involved price comparisons and shopping around, we had plenty of time to kill before the Bookcrossing meetup we had planned for lunchtime. So we made the mistake of looking in a few bookshops… we did manage to avoid the temptation that is Borders, but Whitcoulls had one of their lethal “5 for $20” sales tables (so of course you can’t just buy one or two books, because that would be a waste…). And then we went to the new St Christopher’s shop (St Christopher’s is the church that runs the big second-hand bookshop at the bottom of Riccarton Road with the famous 20c table. They’ve just opened a second branch closer to the mall which sells better quality books, but still very cheaply). We both ended up with an armful of books there too…

So even before I got to the meetup, I’d already acquired quite a few books:

  • Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani
  • Dressing Up for the Carnival by Carol Shields (I had a copy of this ages ago which I released unread, but when I read the journal entries others wrote about it I wished I’d read it first, so this time I will)
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (I’ve been wanting to re-read the Pern books again for ages, so I’m slowing collecting them together)
  • Losing Face: A Memoir of Lost Identity and Self-Discovery by Kathy Torpie (a NZ book by a woman whose face was badly damaged in a car accident, about the psychological effects she experienced)
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  • Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan by Giles Milton
  • Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic by Bart Kosko

That lot should keep me going for a wee while (like Mt TBR wasn’t overflowing as it is…)

Considering my moaning the other day about attendance levels at meetups, the meetup was surprisingly well attended:
me, MrPloppy, lytteltonwitch, TheLetterB, awhina and meerkitten, and gwilk, Mrs gwilk and gwilk jr. The three books I’d brought along (Legends edited by Robert Silverberg, The Reader by Bernard Schlink, and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer) were quickly snatched up, and I picked up Cat by Freya North (not really my kind of book, but I couldn’t resist the title :-)) and was given The Lecherous Academician and Other Tales by Ling Mengchu (to release at the university sometime) and a Spanish/English dictionary by lytteltonwitch. A very enjoyable meetup, and great to see so many there!

The flowering cherry in our front yard has burst into bloom in the last few days, and is putting on a fantastic display. Its flowering always coincides with the start of nor’wester season, so the blossoms don’t last long before being blown away, but for a few days at least it is a solid mass of flowers:

Currently reading: Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human by KW Jeter

Oh, go on then…

Did I say I never do these survey things? I must have lied 🙂

1. Initials:
FC :-p

2. Name someone with the same birthday as you:
I can’t think of anyone. But welshamethyst’s is the day after mine, I think.

3. Last thing you ate:
A chocolate coated freeze-dried strawberry (one of the goodies Fuzzle sent us).

4. Have you ever seen the movie Hairspray:
Yes, years ago.

5. Are you homophobic:
Definitely not. One of my best friends is a lesbian, and I work with several gay men, so I’d better not be!

6. Last person you hugged:

7. Do you believe in God:

8. How many U.S states have you been to:
California, if you count the transit lounge of LAX.

9. How many of the U.S states have you lived in:

10. Ever lived outside of the US:
For my entire life 🙂

11. Name something you like physically about yourself:
The colour of my hair in the sunshine.

12. Something non-physical you like about yourself:
I’m intelligent.

13. What is your dad’s name:
Dad :-p

14. Who filled this out b4 you:
I’ve seen it on at least three other diaries so far today.

15. Who made you angry today:
Nobody. Yesterday, on the other hand…

16. Favorite type of Food?
Chocolate. Or Mexican. Actually, that Mexican savoury chocolate sauce I can’t remember the name of is pretty much my ideal food 🙂

17. Favorite holiday:
Show weekend. (That’s Canterbury’s Anniversary holiday, and it also happens to mark the end of exams at my university, so a three-day weekend is usually much needed!)

18. Do you download music:
No, but only because I don’t listen to a lot of music.

19. What illegal things have you done:
I was technically an illegal immigrant in Germany. (If you visit Germany, if you’re going to stay for more than three months you’re supposed to register with the local police. I ended up staying for nearly five months, and never did get around to registering…)

20. Where would you want to go on a first date:
A park, probably.

21. Would you date the person who posted this before you?
I might, except MrPloppy might get jealous. And I’m not sure how keen they’d be, given that they’re all female, and all (I think) in relationships…

22. Has anyone ever sang or played for you personally?
My mother used to sing me nursery rhymes, does that count?

23. Have you ever cried for no reason?
Never for no reason, but often for stupid reasons.

25. Have you ever bungee jumped:
No, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

26. Have you ever white-water rafted:
No, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

27. Has anyone ten years older than you ever hit on you?
Does inviting you for lunch and making a point of mentioning while inviting you that his wife is out of town count as “hitting on”? (I turned him down, in case you were wondering.)

28. Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings:

29. Have you met a real redneck:
I lived on the West Coast for several years, so I met plenty of NZ’s version of rednecks.

30. How is the weather right now:
Dark 🙂 Actually, it’s overcast but warm because there’s been a nor’wester today.

31. What song are you listening to right now:
Nothing. The hum of the computer.

32. What are your current fav songs?
Can’t think of anything – it varies according to my mood, anyway.

33. What was the last movie you watched?
In a movie theatre, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, otherwise Farenheit 911 on TV the other night.

34. Do you wear contacts:

35. Where was the last place you went besides your house?

36. What are you afraid of?
Looking stupid. And spiders.

37. How many piercings and tattoos do you have?
Just one per ear.

38. How many pets do you have:
Three cats.

39. Have you ever loved someone:
Yes, of course.

41. What do you usually order from Starbucks:
Anything that doesn’t involve coffee.

42. Have you ever fired a gun:
Yes, many times.

43. Are you missing someone:
At this precise moment, no.

44. Fave TV show?:
Another thing that depends on my mood. Dr Who is a bit of a favourite at the moment… in fact, it’s about to start, so I’ll have to finish this later.

45. Do you have an iPod?:

46. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celeb?
Someone did tell me I looked like someone once, but I can’t remember who. It wasn’t very flattering, anyway.

47. What’s your mom’s name:
Mum :-p

48. Who would you like to see right now:
Nobody at this precise moment.

49. Favorite band of all time?
I don’t think I have one – see favourite music.

50. Dogs or cats:
Definitely cats.

51. Have you ever been caught doing something you weren’t supposed to?:
Who hasn’t?

52. Favorite flower:

53. Butter, plain, or salted popcorn:
Icing sugar. That’s what we always used to put on it when we made it. I was a teenager before I realised popcorn could be savoury.

54. What books are you reading:
See previous entry.

55. Have you ever ridden in a limo?:

56. Has anyone you were really close to passed away?

57. Do you watch MTV:
Not since we left London. We don’t get proper MTV here.

58. What’s something that really bugs you:
Oh, hundreds of things. Mostly involving lies, deceit and lack of consideration of others, whether on a personal or global scale.

59. What are some things you really like doing:
Learning new things, stretching my brain, and being creative.

60. Do you like Michael Jackson:
As a musician, he’s ok. I can’t judge him as a person because all I know is the media image.

61. Can you dance:
Yes, but only in a way I enjoy. It probably doesn’t provide much pleasure to anyone watching!

62. Favorite basketball team:
Why would I want one?

63. Favorite cereal:
Apfel zimt loops. We had them in Germany and they were wonderful. Haven’t seen them since, unfortunately.

64. What do you drive:
I don’t.

65. What’s the latest you have ever stayed out:
To see the dawn.

66. Last time you went bowling:
About 10 years ago, somewhere in Shropshire.

“The” doesn’t make sense in this context. I can tell you who a man is, if that helps?

68. Who was your last phone call?
My brother, letting me know Sister-in-law will be dropping in tomorrow to pick up their car on her way down to Dunedin (where her sister has just been taken into hospital 🙁 ).

69. Last time you were at work?
Just under 4 hours ago.

70. What’s your favorite state to be in:

Linguist heaven

I forgot to mention the other wonderful thing that happened yesterday: a parcel arrived from Fuzzle (Ming and Saffy’s previous owner, now living in the UK). In it were a few yummy things (like jaffa cakes, the main thing MrPloppy misses since moving here), and my birthday present (yes, my birthday was months ago, but Fuzzle has always had a random approach to sending birthday and christmas presents – they tend to arrive either months early or months late), which was accompanied by a note saying “every good linguist needs this by their bedside” – it was a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary!!! That probably sounds like a really boring present to most people, but totally fascinating to anyone interested in words – Fuzzle’s note was exactly right, it’s a must-have for anyone interested in linguistics (she studied linguistics too (in fact, we were in the same class for LING 101 – I just got distracted by other things for 15 years or so before I carried on in the subject), so of course knows how special a gift it would be for me).

I spent a long time last night browsing through it, looking up random words (yes, sausage is in there!). Of course, all the well-known funny ones are there (“Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge”), but the rest of the entries are equally fascinating, both for the information they give you about 18th-century life, and for all the wonderful words that have since disappeared from our language. Definitely linguist heaven 🙂

Currently reading: Legends edited by Robert Silverberg and dipping into the Dictionary.

The hug box and other mysteries

I got a phone call tonight from sherlockfan, very excited about the parcel that she’d got this morning, so I can now reveal the secret of the hug box. Recently, while on holiday in France, sherlockfan had a fall which put her in hospital. Her holiday was cut short and she had to be medevacced back to New Zealand. Luckily, she’s recovering well now, but for a while there all her friends were worried about her. So as a get well/glad you’re recovering/sorry your holiday was ruined/welcome home gesture, otakuu suggested we organise a “hug box” for her – a parcel filled with little gifts from all her bookcrossing friends. I volunteered to be the collection point, and everyone sent their gifts to me so I could make up a big parcel to send up to Wellington. And from her reaction tonight, I think I can say that it was just as wonderful a surprise as we’d hoped it would be.

It’s so nice to know you’ve made someone’s day a little bit brighter!

In other Bookcrossing news, I’ve been doing really well with catches lately. The other day I got a catch for one of the books from the Next Stop bookshelf which we’d registered with pre-numbered labels the first time we went down to the Regent booksale, and which was still sitting there a year later when we went back for this year’s sale. It’s not there any longer, though – it’s been caught by an English tourist who’s taken it back to Sheffield and is going to release it there.

And today I got a catch for Ancestors by Robyn Davidson, one of the books I released for the 150th celebrations. It’s been caught by someone from Canada, so hopefully it will be doing a bit of travelling too.

The third catch isn’t really mine, because I didn’t release the book, but it started off in my hands, so it’s still pretty cool: I sent Boy Overboard by Peter Wells to GoryDetails a couple of years ago, and after she’d read it she released it in a town in New York. Nearly two years later, it’s finally been caught!

I’ve almost finished the bottom half of the advent calendar cross-stitch! There’s just a bit more backstitch to be done at the top, but I need to roll the fabric on a bit to get to that part (I’m using a scroll frame), so I thought I’d take a photo now while you can see the bottom bit:

Once I’ve finished that section of backstitch, I can get on to the more interesting picture part again.

Currently reading: Legends edited by Robert Silverberg

An Unexpected Sunday Brunch

On Saturday night I got an email from lytteltonwitch letting me know that otakuu was in town and wondered if we wanted to meet for brunch the next morning. So yesterday morning I was up bright and early (well, early considering I’d had a pretty late night the night before, not having got lytteltonwitch’s email until very late (she’d sent it much earlier, I just hadn’t checked my emails all evening) so thinking I’d be able to sleep in…) to catch a bus into Riccarton.

We had a very enjoyable breakfast sitting in the covered outside part of Browsers (it has a sort of greenhouse arrangement of clear plastic over it, which makes for a very pleasant temperature at this time of year, plus has jasmine growing up the walls giving a sweet scent to the air). Otakuu had brought her DS2 along, who was very tolerant of all the Bookcrossing gossip and our gentle teasing about what exactly otakuu says about him in her Livejournal. I gave Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman to otakuu, and released In Custody by Anita Desai on our table when we left (only to be chased by one of the staff, who thought I’d left it behind (I had, but it was on purpose!)).

Otakuu made the mistake of mentioning that she’d been checking out airfares to Charleston, and found return fares for $2000. Of course, that got me dreaming again – I could probably scrape together $2000 if I really tried… but then reality crept back in – to spend that much money travelling half way round the world, I’d want to go for longer than a weekend, which means accommodation and food costs start adding up, plus I’d want to see more than just Charleston, which means adding extra travel costs… plus of course the cost of the convention itself – the Americans hold their conventions in hotels, which means much higher convention fees. So realistically I’d need at least twice that amount of money, probably more. Oh well, it was a nice dream while it lasted… At least I’ve got Wellington in February to look forward to.

After lunch lytteltonwitch and I went for a browse around Borders and Whitcoulls, and picked up a few more bits and pieces for the hug box, and then gave me a lift home so that we could put the box together. MrPloppy‘s going to post it for me today, so once it has arrived with its recipient I’ll be able to tell you all about it 🙂

Currently reading: Legends edited by Robert Silverberg

They’re here!!!

I know they’re a total rip-off and a blatent attempt by Lucasfilm to extract even more money from fans, but I don’t care. I’ve finally got my copies of the theatrical release versions of episodes IV-VI. I’m a happy cat.

Guess what I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend doing?

Feeling lazy

Saturday at last! And for once I’ve got no tests or essays due next week – so I can actually have a nice relaxing weekend without feeling like I really should be studying. Of course, the only reason we’ve got no assessment next week is because we had TWO tests this week – a short quiz on Wednesday, and a major test on Friday. I don’t think I’ve done too badly in either, but I was feeling totally brain-dead after yesterday’s test (luckily it was pretty quiet at work in the afternoon – if I’d had to stretch my brain any further I think I would have broken it!). I was supposed to be going to another games evening last night, but I was so tired when I got home that I piked out and instead spent the evening blobbed in front of the TV doing some cross-stitch. I’ve almost finished the bottom boring bit:

Currently reading: …I’m not sure. I finished reading Coming of Age in Samoa this morning, and haven’t decided yet which book to pick up next.

Where’d everybody go?

Second Tuesday of the month yesterday, so it was meetup night. Once again, it was just me, MrPloppy, lytteltonwitch, awhina and meerkitten. We used to get a really good turn out to meetups, but for most of this year it seems to have been just the same few people. Not that there’s anything wrong with lytteltonwitch or awhina (or the kitten, for that matter!) – they’re both nice people (but then I have to say that, because I know lytteltonwitch reads this diary ;-)), and we always have fun when we get together – but sometimes it seems silly organising a regular Bookcrossing meetup when it’s just us, and we could get together any time. I think the basic problem is that some of the old crowd have drifted on to other things, and we haven’t been making the effort to attract newbies. I really should start going through the member lists for Christchurch again and inviting new members to the meetups (that’s what Mothercat used to do, and it worked really well – it’s what got me coming to meetups!), but I just haven’t had the time this year. Plus of course, there’s always the worry we’ll inadvertantly invite a certain troublemaking local member who’s been known to set herself up new Bookcrossing accounts on a regular basis… I’d really prefer not to get into correspondence with her again (or even worse, for her to turn up to a meetup!)

The venue was a bit of a disappointment, too. We went back to The Coffee House (which was purely my fault, because I’m the one who’s supposed to post the details of each month’s meetup on our Yahoo group, and I completely forgot this month, so it defaulted to last month’s venue) and the service was even worse than last time. MrPloppy and I arrived and found lytteltonwitch already there. She’d ordered a drink, and the waitress brought it as we were sitting down, but didn’t bother to check if we wanted to order a drink too, and didn’t come back for about 15 minutes. When she did come back it was to bring a jug of water, at which point we managed to point out that we were still waiting to order drinks. When awhina and the kitten arrived they were similarly ignored. Eventually a different waiter arrived and took our food order (and a drinks order for awhina and the kitten). The kitten wasn’t keen on anything on the menu and said she just wanted bread, so awhina ordered an entree of a breads and dips platter for her, and the rest of us ordered mains. And then we waited, and waited, and waited… After a while, the first waitress reappeared and asked awhina if the bread had been delivered to our table yet. When she was told it hadn’t been, she bustled off as if she was going to bring it straight back… and disappeared. There were still no signs of awhina and the kitten’s drinks yet, either. Another 20 or so minutes passed before they finally brought the bread, by which time the kitten was getting very hungry and very agitated (she’s only 10, and not used to eating so late). Then finally the rest of the food and drinks arrived.

I worked out it took about an hour between awhina and the kitten arriving and the food being served – it’s a good thing we hadn’t ordered several courses! And even then they hadn’t got it right – they missed the sauce off lytteltonwitch’s chicken, and tried to claim that’s what she ordered, and left the avocado out of awhina’s bagel (to which the waitress said “oh, I didn’t think there was supposed to be any in there” until we pointed out the description in the menu – she then brought a plate with three thin slivers of rather brown avocado on it). I must say in The Coffee House’s defence that the food was really good (once we actually got what we ordered). It’s just a pity that the service is so terrible. They tried to excuse themselves by saying it was a new menu and they weren’t used to it, but I’ve been there three times now, and each time the service was erratic at best. Anyway, if you’ve got plenty of time, and even more patience, I can recommend the food at The Coffee House. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague!

Needless to say, we’ll be eating somewhere else next month.

Of course, here was the usual book swapping in among the waiting for food – I gave Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach to awhina (and finally returned the last of the Artemis Fowl books I’d borrowed from meerkitten), and picked up what look like a couple of good trashy reads: Gravity by Tess Gerritsen and Beware the Dwarfs by Terri Paddock. As exam time approaches I’ll be in need of a few books that don’t take a lot of brain power to read 🙂

A book that started off in my hands, Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, has been having some exciting adventures lately. After passing through a few controlled releases, it was wild released by linguistkris in an Australian backpackers. From there it’s passed through a couple of other backpackers, and now looks like it’s heading back to New Zealand.

Currently reading: Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead