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Sunday 31 March 2013

On a Happier Note ...

Someone in San Francisco is sneaking around under cover of darkness, installing miniature doors. I've no idea why they're doing this, but I like it. Anything that makes people smile, even if just for a moment, is fine with me. I particularly like the one with the 'Closed' sign in its window. It makes me wonder where the miniature shopkeeper might have gone on his day off.

April Fool?

I thought I'd stumbled across an early April Fool's joke this morning, but the story is appearing across the internet, so I'm forced to concede it may be genuine. It's the story of the female police officer who is suing the owner of a garage for failing to ensure her safety. The man had called the police to report a break-in, the WPC was sent out in response, but she tripped over a kerb on her way into the garage.
Anyway, I'm now trying to think of all the people I can sue, because I trip over all the time. I thought it was my own fault for not watching where I'm going, but I now see the error of my thinking. I could make a fortune! (As a cautionary note: should you hear people breaking into your property at any time, please make sure you put all the lights on, remove all trip hazards and affix suitable warning notices around your premises before you call the police. Apparently crime victims are there to protect the police.)
I'm still fervently hoping this will turn out to be a collective April Fool's joke - it can't be real, can it?

Thursday 28 March 2013

Free(ish) Holiday!

A woman holidaying in Hawaii lost her camera whilst diving. Annoying, upsetting, expensive, - maybe, but it's led to her being offered a round trip to Taiwan. Apparently the ocean's currents carried the camera to a beach at Taitung, on the east coast of Taiwan, where it was found by an employee of China Airlines. He found the still intact memory card and was able to use it to find the camera's owner. His bosses then offered her a free round-trip ticket to go and collect it.
Now, I've checked the tides and currents and have worked out that if I lob my camera into the sea off the south coast of the Isle of Wight at 1:32am on the 14th July this year, it should reappear on the shores of Florida (or possibly the Philippines -the calculations involved in this experiment are pretty complex and maths has never been my strong point) some time in 2018. Then all I need is for it to be found by a tech-savvy airline employee whose bosses are looking for some good PR and that'll be 2018's summer holiday sorted!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Happy Easter

With Easter looming it's hard to escape chocolate at the moment. The shops have been crammed with Easter eggs for months, so even if you've only gone in for a pint of milk you find your mind wandering to that first delicious crack of chocolate, fresh from the fridge. Mmm ... sorry, lost my train of thought there. Bizarrely enough, I don't even really like chocolate these days, but I still find myself hankering after Easter eggs. It's that crack that does it.
Anyway, the Telegraph has a video for die-hard chocolate fans: Britain's Best Chocolatier, William Curley, has put together a video showing us all how to make our very own chocolate egg. Okay, it's unlikely any of us are actually going to make our own, but it's fun to watch.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Mmmm, Caaaake!

I can't think of many things better than a house filled with cake, though granted it might not be the best idea for my waistline. One day I'm going to enrol in a course to learn proper sugarcraft, and it'll be a story like this that inspires me to do it.
I'd be happy just to be able to recreate that treasure chest!

In another 'food' storyline, it emerges that Israel is currently in the grip of a locust invasion. The Israelis have adopted a novel approach to dealing with this modern plague - they're eating them!
I think I'll take a slice of the treasure chest cake, thanks.

James Herbert

I was very sad to hear of the death of the great James Herbert. I had a collection of his books when I was younger, purchased from the local Woolworths whenever I had some spare cash. They made a deep impression upon me, though it's true to say he's to blame for my abiding terror of rats. Both he and Stephen King were heroes of mine, their knack for turning the everyday into something terrifyingly different was an inspiration to a young aspiring writer.
Rest in peace, James Herbert. You'll be greatly missed.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Dangerous Sports

I've always thought that golf looked such a gentle, relaxing sort of game. The sun beating down on a beautifully manicured course, the etiquette and manners of the participants, the stroll from hole to hole. I'm having a rethink after reading the story of one golfer at a course in Illinois.
It would seem he encountered an unexpected additional hole: the ground opened up beneath his feet and swallowed him. Worse, his golfing buddies didn't even see it happen. They turned around to see, well, nothing. He was just gone. Thankfully they heard him moaning and eventually found him at the bottom of an 18ft deep sinkhole.
They managed to rescue him after twenty minutes, but he sustained a shoulder injury and has expressed a certain reluctance to return to that particular course.
Reading whilst sitting in a deckchair in the sun - maybe that's the sport for me.

The Café's New Home

Café Three Zero has a new home, the CTZ Writers Club, which is a collection of forums all to do with writing, and it's now open to new members. It's already pretty lively in there with challenges and discussions, perfect for anyone with an interest in writing.

Friday 15 March 2013

New Story!

There's a new story on the QT website today! It's called 'The World Famous Queue of Good Rissington' and it's the story of the queue that grew and grew.
Hope you enjoy it. Happy Friday!

Thursday 14 March 2013

Quirky Cat in Need of an Update

I've just realised, the Quirky Cat is still reading Book One of the Boldre Wood Trilogy. He's a very slow reader, poor chap. I blame those pesky birds. Nevertheless, I think it's time he moved on to a different book. That'll be a job for this weekend, perhaps once we've escaped the clutches of the Keith the seal!
Work continues on the third anthology and Book Three of Boldre Wood. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many stories I've begun and not yet finished lately. I seem to be having something of a concentration issue.
Must stop getting distracted by stories of seals, and cute dogs, and dream houses and dream jobs, and funny PR campaigns, and ...

Messing About on the River

I'd been wondering what to do this weekend. The solution came to me from an unlikely source: The Telegraph. The plan is, dig the inflatable canoe out of the loft, dust it down and repair any punctures, then cart it over to Gloucester and go for a paddle. It might seem like an odd thing to do in the middle of a chilly March, but if you take a look at the video on the Telegraph's weird news page, you'll see why I'm tempted.
So, if you happen to be near the River Severn this weekend and see a couple frantically bailing out a deflating canoe, pursued by a curious seal, it'll just be me and he who fixes the computer wishing we'd found something more sensible to do.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Reason to be Thankful

A few months ago I wrote a very excited post about the latest version of Sim City, which was released on the 5th March. I was so excited I was even planning on purchasing a new laptop with the required processing power. However, after a few weeks of rather more rational thought I decided this was a ridiculous expense just so I could play one game. I'm very thankful for that.
What I hadn't seen in all the prelaunch build up was that Sim City 5 is designed to be played online, always. I hate that! I don't want to play online. Not only are there security issues (let's face it, games companies don't exactly have a great record there) but access to the internet is not always possible. Worse than that, EA were caught flat footed and apparently hadn't provided sufficient server capacity, so all those hardened gamers who bought the game found they couldn't get online to play it.
Worse still, I gather the online gaming is designed to be socially interactive with other players, meaning their play can influence the life of your own city. So you might have built a perfect little city, overcoming all the obstacles, everything's going well, then the nuclear reactor in a neighbouring city being played by a complete stranger blows up and takes your city with it. No thank you. I like to keep my gaming private.
Thank goodness for those few weeks of rational thought. Instead of buying an expensive laptop and a game I couldn't stand playing, we bought the Samsung Note. We already have more games on there than we can possibly play, and it's more than proven its worth as a work tool too.
Sometimes in life you look back and realise that what might have been the wrong decision turns out to be very much the right one. It happens rarely enough so I'm allowing myself a moment to gloat, oh and be thankful!

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Excuses, Excuses

I've had a complaint about the lack of posts. I apologise, things got a little busy around here last week and I've struggled to fit everything in. Besides, there hasn't been much in the news worth blogging about. Added to which, it's perishing cold and I think my synapses may have frozen.
Okay, excuses out of the way, here's something to keep you going while I pick my way through the rest of the news sites. Be warned, it will take you a few minutes, and I urge you to stick with the challenge of not 'aww'ing at all (I failed dismally - it was the dratted dolphin that did it).

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Dream House Part ... Eleventy Threight (sorry, I've lost count)

Ooh, ooh, ooh! Forget living in a fort, or a treehouse, or a hobbit house - that's all so mediocre! I want to live in this apartment in New York. I could do without all the white paint and glass everywhere - I'm a mucky pup and I don't particularly like cleaning - but this apartment comes with its own slide! For adults! Admittedly, the apartment is arranged over four floors, so they have room for it, but can you imagine? No more boring commute down the stairs, no, no, no! I'll take the slide thank you!

Warning: Very Cute Dog Alert

I've been wittering on for some time now about wanting a dog. The wittering goes unheeded because the devastating logic of the matter is that having a dog wouldn't be terribly practical, but I still dream.
But then I see an article like the one on the Mail's site today and I start to think I might just have to stick two metaphorical fingers up at logic. The dog in the story somehow managed to get his head stuck in the plughole of a discarded sink. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, his owners took photos and now they're all over the internet - the poor chap may never live it down.
Thankfully he and the sink were separated at the vet's, but take a moment to imagine that journey: one fluffy puppy wearing a rather large sink - just getting him through the door must have been quite a manoeuvre.
There's a photo of him sitting on the floor of the surgery, minus his unusual neckware, looking rather bemused by it all. That's the photo that does it for me. So, what are the opening times at the animal shelter?

Tuesday 5 March 2013

And They Pay You Too?

A few years ago I saw the advert for 'the best job in the world' working for Tourism Queensland taking care of a beautiful island and acting as a guide for visitors. I'll admit, I indulged in a private daydream of living on a paradise island and being paid for it, but I figured I was probably lacking in a few key skills.
The winning applicant was Ben Southall, who put together a video extolling his virtues as the perfect man for the job. He's now put together another video, advertising another six 'best jobs in the world' working in Oz such as taking care of wildlife, or being a park ranger, or an outback adventurer or even being chief 'funster' in Sydney.
The pay looks good, the work looks amazing, and it's all a fantastic advertising campaign for Australia. They really know how to do PR down under.
Now, I may have to get a little creative with my CV. I mean, swimming to me barely gets beyond floating around a nice warm swimming pool on my back and I'm terrified of spiders and I think bungee jumping is utter madness, but I wield a mean camera and I like koalas! I wonder what my chances are ...

Monday 4 March 2013

Exploring the Galaxy

Not the large and rather dangerous spacey kind of galaxy - I refer, of course, to my continuing explorations of the Samsung Galaxy Note. I've already been using the Polaris Office suite for writing and story planning, but after a degree of practise I'm beginning to realise the potential of SNote. The tablet comes with a 'pen' which allows the user to handwrite or draw, much as you would with paper and pencil. The Note can then take your handwriting and convert it to text. It can even match basic shapes, so a roughly drawn circle, for example, can become a perfect orb. It's a little buggy, and sometimes strange things happen, but it's entirely possible that's due to user error!
I've now realised SNote can help me with my hobby of making greetings cards. Not the flowery, oh so pretty variety so beloved of the card making magazines - I'm just not that sort of girl. The cards I make are fairly specific to the recipient and normally involve a degree of research and sketching and thrashing out of ideas. I used to plan my cards by drawing, sketching and scribbling ideas on scraps of paper, which I would then lose, but now it can all be done in SNote. I can hunt down inspiration online, use the pen to 'lasso' an image, or part of an image, and import it as a screenshot into my document in SNote. Once there, I can annotate it with scribbled notes or strange little doodles over and around it. It's revolutionised the R&D phase of my card making. Another tick for the tablet.
Furthermore, we've been using it to create info books for our summer holiday, downloading maps and images from the internet, listing local attractions and important information on the areas we'll be visiting. I know, that may sound a little anoraky, but experience has taught us that information can be harder to find once on holiday. Besides, all this planning is fun!
If only I could learn foreign languages so easily! No doubt the Galaxy could do that too, if only I could figure out how!