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Friday, 30 April 2004

it's just my allergies, honest



Time again for Ed and Martine's monthly monkey. This month: confess to crying at the movies!



Films that have made me weepy:

  • Au Revoir Les Enfants - it's an incredibly sad story, beautifully told (even with subtitles).

  • Truly, Madly, Deeply - I know most people think this film is utter soppy rubbish, but I saw this shortly after my Grandma died. Seeing a loved one coming back to someone else broke my heart.

  • Return of the King - It must have been hormones. Shaddup.

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's - the end bit when she loses the kitty makes me misty-eyed.

  • Dead Poet's Society - you try not getting weepy during the "Oh captain, my captain" bit. Go on, try.

  • Matrix Reloaded - but my god, was that an awful film.

Thursday, 29 April 2004

amityville office



I get the feeling that this building is trying to kill us. First a large pane of glass hovering over the front doors shattered into a bazillion pieces (it's still hanging there, suspended by some sort of force field) and now the stairs have been cordoned off because they're too slippery to walk on. These are the same wooden stairs that have developed large cracks and shake the entire building whenever someone walks too heavily (we have vibrating conference rooms! Whee!).



I'm just waiting for the walls to bleed and a loud, reverberating voice to tell us to "GET OUUUUT!!"

Wednesday, 28 April 2004

did you blink?



Well everyone, that was summer. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for playing.

Tuesday, 27 April 2004

picture perfect/fightin' fit



Right, all the pages containing photos are now back and have gone through a good Spring cleaning (see etc. links on the left). Now let us not speak of it again.



I am off to the gym tonight for the first time since January (that time of year when thousands of people vow to lose weight, go to a gym twice, and never step foot in a gym again.) Although I am going to try to stick to some sort of fitness routine, I still maintain that exercise is bad for you. People get sports injuries all the time, but you'll never hear someone say, "Ooooh my knuckles are really acting up after all that channel hopping I did last night" nor will you hear anyone on a nice comfy sofa declare that they are "feeling the burn". You don't get hurt by not moving around a lot and eating fine food (unless, of course, you choke on a chicken bone or eat bad clams). No one gets a hernia from sitting in the back garden drinking gin and tonics.



Still, I will go to the gym, I will feel the burn, and I will likely trip over something and/or pull a muscle. This is good for me...this is good for me...this is good for me...

Monday, 26 April 2004

it's like ground force, but with more alcohol



It was a gorgeous, sunny, glorious day on Saturday. We decided to tart up the garden this year (next year, we'll redesign and put in some decking) and headed out to our local garden centres. I should probably mention that although I can appreciate a nice looking garden, I enjoy spending time in our backyard, and I love wandering around looking at plants in garden centres, I know absolutely bug all about gardening. I have a basic understanding of plants, such as most of them require water and light to grow, but that's about the extent of my horticultural expertise. So most of Saturday was spent cutting back and trimming various things that I can't identify (if they just have leaves, they're "shrubs"; if they're bushy and have flowers, they're "flowery shrubs"), attacking weeds with a big fork, hacking back an enormous climbing viney thing, and playing a fun game called "Is That a Weed or a Plant?" We put down a layer of bark on the border to suppress weeds and make it look a bit nicer (I admit, I know a tiny bit about gardening from watching reruns of Homefront in the Garden and Ground Force), and Paul mowed the lawn. We bought a chiminea, which chucks off a lot of heat and adds a lovely atmosphere to the garden when it's lit in the evening. Top tip: don't place it too close to open French doors (or face it towards the house if you've got doors and/or windows open) or the ground floor of your house will become covered by a fine layer of ash. And your house will smell like a campfire.



Paul made us a delicious jumbalaya for dinner and to celebrate our first outdoor meal of the season, he made margaritas. What happens when you've worked really hard all day and you're very hungry and the weather's fabulous is that you may overindulge in food and drink. Although we thought one more margarita was an excellent idea on Saturday night, Sunday morning (and the rest of the day for that matter) we realised that it may not have been such a wise decision. A discussion has ensued about living on grilled chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, and nice big glasses of water for the next few months.



Yesterday, Paul found the energy and strength to relocate 8 massive paving slabs the size of tombstones from a path leading to the shed to the back of the house. In lieu of a deck (unless someone buys us one as wedding gift), we're extending the patio to fit our chiminea and a wooden table and chairs (an upcoming wedding gift from Paul's Mum and Dad). I stayed inside and decided that it would be a good idea to not jostle myself around too much.



Today I can barely lift my arms to drink my morning tea and can't climb the stairs very quickly. My allergies went ballistic yesterday from all the clipping, trimming, weeding, and crawling around pollenating things. But it's fantastic - I love having a garden. Even if it kills me.

i learn so much at work



I was waiting on hold for a telephone conference to start and suddenly...



*hic!*



I had big, loud, sounds like you've had a 10 martini lunch hiccups. Luckily, my workmate Jonathon had a surefire cure. Although I am convinced that most hiccup cures are strictly for the amusement of the sadistic friend or colleague who suggests them, this cure actually worked (and amused the people around me - everyone wins, really). I was instructed to hold my fingers in my ear and take a deep breath, hold it for as long as possible, and then release the breath slowly through my nose. I did all this while cradling the phone against my head and giggling like a loon. It worked! Am considering nominating Jon for the "Way to go Citrite" award.



Friday, 23 April 2004

the last word on hotlinking



Okay, some confusion still reigns. Let me explain this again, just in case you think I'm just being a miserable old hag.



This is NOT hotlinking:

Hey everyone, look at this fantastic image here!

It's a hyperlink to another site and it doesn't use anyone else's bandwidth. Everyone wins. Yay.


Hey everyone, look at this fantastic image I downloaded from someone else's site and am now showing on mine!

If you right-click on this image and look at its properties, you'll see that it's being hosted at this site (http://www.wittydomainname.com/MiniUs.jpg). I might have infringed on some sort of copyright law if I downloaded the image from, for example, a corporate site (I do apologise). It uses the bandwidth from my server, so I'm not using anyone else's. Yay.




This IS hotlinking:

Hey everyone, look at this fantastic image I found on another site!

If you right-click on this image and look at its properties, you'll see that it's being hosted at a site called http://ldmacdonald.tripod.com (don't have a cow - it's my tech writing site on Tripod. I'm just trying to prove a point.) Every time someone views this image here, the image's data is downloaded from the other site at Tripod. This uses bandwidth, which is something you have to pay for if you host your site somewhere other than Blogspot, Tripod, Geocities, etc. You are using someone else's bandwidth. Boo. In fact, you'll notice that Tripod has blocked the image (it shows the Tripod logo and tells you that the image is hosted there instead of the amusing graphic that's actually on that site - Tripod thinks hotlinking is bad, too.).




Okay? Okay.

Thursday, 22 April 2004

hotlinking, part 2



To clarify, here's a good definition of hotlinking:

Bandwidth theft or "hotlinking" is direct linking to a website's files (images, video, etc.). An example would be using an IMG tag to display a JPEG image you found on someone else's web page so it will appear on your own site, journal, weblog, forum posting, etc.



Bandwidth refers to the amount of data transferred from a website to a user's computer. When you view a webpage, you are using that site's data transfer to display the files. Since web hosts charge based on the amount of data transferred, bandwidth is an issue. If a site is over it's monthly bandwidth, it's billed for the extra data or taken offline.



A simple analogy for bandwidth theft: Imagine a random stranger plugging into your electrical outlets, using your electricity without your consent, and you paying for it.



[from altlab.com]

steal THIS, mate



I think I've finally sorted out a way to stop bandwidth thieving twonks from hotlinking to my site (the latest one being some feckwit on Ebay who used an image from my California pics as their logo). Hotlinking is the act of being a complete arsehole and not knowing how to right-click and save an image to your own server, and linking directly to the image, mostly because you have the IQ of a TicTac. For example, you see an amusing image of my mate Jack on this site shoving a huge hook through his ear and think, "Wow. I'd really like to display this picture on my IHaveNoLife.com site." Instead of right-clicking the image and saving it to your PC and uploading it to the server hosting IHaveNoLife.com, you merely hotlink to the image on my site by including a link like this in your HTML code: img src="http://www.wittydomainname.com/JackWithAGiantThingInHisEar.jpg". This displays the image on your site using my bandwidth, thus making you a rat bastard.



Please bear with me as I move my image files and recreate links. There might be a lot of red Xs about until it gets sorted, but at least I'll stop losing (and paying for) this extra bandwidth.

Monday, 19 April 2004

aaaaaand relax



Some virtual pond tranquility for you all to enjoy.



















Feel better now?

i will remember the little people





[a copy of this post is also on it's a dog's blog]



Jasper's blog is famous! Well, perhaps not quite famous, but it did get a mention on Lip-sticking recently. The site's author (a very nice lady called Yvonne who is a business and technology writer) found this blog via an article in Lifetime Magazine (the people behind Lifetime TV in North America). Now while I'm absolutely tickled that someone thought this blog was worthy of a mention in a magazine article, it's a bit odd that the author of the article never got in touch to let me know about it. While the Internet has become somewhat more personal thanks to blogs and other online journals, it can still be quite impersonal as most readers remain anonymous.



Granted, we don't often drop letters to magazines, newspapers, and television programs letting them know that we're out there and we're watching/reading (unless we're the sort who generally spend a lot of time writing angry letters to their MPs, complaining about things like those loud kids who are bringing down the neighbourhood). I suppose online writing doesn't necessarily warrant that kind of response either. It really is nice when people stumble across my blog(s) and end up enjoying their visit. If you're one of these people, please do leave a comment or send me an email. It's great to see comments left by new people, even if they don't leave a name or simply go by a nickname. The Internet might be impersonal, but it can still be interactive. Go on, Jasper and I don't bite.

Saturday, 17 April 2004

a new friend



I have just discovered an online tool called Fertility Friend. It's actually really quite interesting (if you find charting your temperature every day interesting - what can I say, I'm weird) and it's a good way to chart your monthly cycles. I've been jotting my morning temperature down in a chart next to my bed, but it wasn't really easy to tell what was going on (my aging eyes are failing me and all those little grid lines confuse me). Fertility Friend is pretty cool. It also provided a possible reason why I didn't get pregnant last month (I thought the timing was right, but it looks like we were a bit late), although I do understand that even if you get the timing absolutely spot on, you still only have a 20% change of getting pregnant each cycle.



Funny how us girls spend most of our lives trying not to conceive and when we do want to have a baby, it's like composing someone's astrological chart. Maybe the best plan is to pretend that you're 17, climb into the backseat of your partner's car, and imagine that you're late coming home and your parents are going to kill you. Guaranteed pregnancy, I bet.

Friday, 16 April 2004

the shorter weeks always seem long



It's sunny and warm and gorgeous outside, and here I am in the office. If I ruled the world, people wouldn't have to work on sunny, warm, and gorgeous days in the UK (and other grey, wet countries).



Pond update: we spotted Wayne today, but so far all I've seen is his tail as he dives underwater. He must be shy. There is some green hairy horrible stuff growing in the pond this year. Could it be algae? It's really gross, whatever it is. We realised that we can't revamp and clean out the pond until the tadpoles have grown into frogs. It's a lot like waiting for your kids to grow up and get out of your house before you can remodel, but on a much shorter time scale.



Even though I vowed never to walk 13 miles through London in my bra at midnight for charity ever again, I will be taking part in a much less strenuous (and during a more civilised time of day) walk for cancer research. A few of us girls from work will be doing the Race for Life 5k walk in Cambridge on July 4th. I'll post a link for online donations here soon, and we'll be harassing our workmates in person in the near future.



Have a lovely, sunshiny weekend, everyone.

Thursday, 15 April 2004

a little patience



After a good cry, lots of hugs from Paul, and cuddles with Jasper, I do feel better today. I was starting to get excited about being pregnant and even though I knew it was unlikely to happen, part of me was convinced that it would. Being logical about it all, it actually makes more sense to wait until after the wedding to start trying again. For the two weeks that I wasn't sure if I was pregnant, I made the appropriate changes (major alcohol cutback, stopped taking allergy tablets/ibuprofen, etc.) and spent much of the two weeks anxiously looking for signs of pregnancy. I don't think I want to go through that worrying every month along with all the wedding and honeymoon planning. Also, I don't think it's advisable to do long haul flights in the early stages of pregnancy, so the honeymoon might have become a problem. Between now and the wedding, we only have 5 opportunities to conceive anyway, so it won't be that long to wait.



Which would be fine if I wasn't the most impatient person in the world.

Wednesday, 14 April 2004

unexpected



My period arrived today. Although I kept thinking that I didn't feel pregnant, I was very much hoping that I was. I kept waiting for symptoms to arrive, but confusion came instead when my temperature went back down to normal this morning. I was feeling so tired lately and was even nauseous today, but it had nothing to do with being pregnant. I was just tired and nauseous, full stop.



We did discuss the possibility of waiting until after we're married to start again, so it looks like this is what will happen. It's just so heartbreaking, even after only one month.

Tuesday, 13 April 2004

pond life



Paul waved to me from the backyard, telling me to come have a look at the pond. Hundreds of tiny, gelatinous sacs floated on the surface, each containing a tiny black fluttering speck. The frogs have been by for a visit, and a good time was obviously had by all. We kneeled next to the pond and watched the floating orbs for a while, wondering if the goldfish would eat them all and trying to figure out where all the frogs had gone in the meantime.



A couple of weeks later, the pond's surface is rippling madly with the frantic squiggles that have broken from the eggs. During the day, they hide under rocks or latch themselves on to the pond weed. During dusk and dawn, they swarm by the thousands at the shallow end of the water. Paul's spotted a newt, which we have named Wayne (think Wayne Newton, and you'll see where we're going with this). A small brown fish has appeared this year, which we have very unimaginatively named Brownie. Paul's removed the wire fencing that kept small puppy Jasper away from the water, but Jasper hasn't really noticed yet and shows more interest in eating grass and staring at the birds that sit on our neighbour's aerial.



Today, the squiggles are bigger (they look more like frogs with long tails and no limbs) and some frogs have begun to splash around the pond. We see Wayne very briefly; more like a glimpse of his tail as he dives underwater. Brownie is very hard to spot because he blends so well into the murky water. We're still trying to figure out how a brown fish got into a pond full of goldfish. A goldfish sucks a tadpole into its mouth and quickly spits it back out again. I guess they won't eat them after all.



We stand in the sun and watch the pond for a long time, and we'll do this every day throughout the rest of the spring and summer. When people talk about hidden features they only discover after they move into a house, surely they must be talking about things like this.

Friday, 9 April 2004

like we need more blogs around here



Wedding related info, fascinating (*cough*) planning details, and other related stuff can now be found here. The wedding section will contain info for out of towners coming to the wedding, all about our adventures getting to the big day, and other stuff that'll bore the pants off of most of the readers of my main blog.



So all you blokes can stop looking at that picture of Carrie Anne Moss now. Stop it.

Thursday, 8 April 2004

look! behind you!



So I'm at Tesco last weekend and I decide to buy a pregnancy test kit...just in case. As I'm standing at the till, Pete from work comes bounding up to me congratulating me on our engagement (Paul was out front with Jasper and told him the good news). At that very moment, the cashier is trying to pry his way into the pregnancy kit, that's encased in several inches of bulletproof plastic. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch him pull on it, tap it against the counter, wedge it between his knees, and at same time, I'm showing Pete my ring and trying to keep his attention diverted from the pregnancy test. The cashier finally gets it out of the security casing, and the test trundles on its own down the conveyor belt towards Pete and I. Seeing the panic in my face, the cashier quickly picks up the test, and shoves it into my waiting hand so I can shove it in the bag without Pete noticing. Checkout relay at its best.



And no, I still don't feel pregnant.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

HELLO! I'M AT A WEDDING!



From the ever so helpful Cambridgeshire Registrar's Office site:

Please remind all concerned (especially the groom!) that mobile phones should be turned off before entering the building where a marriage is to take place, otherwise you could have the "Flight of the Bumble Bee" or "Old MacDonald" going off part way through!



If anyone plays "Old MacDonald" at me on our wedding day, they will quickly discover the discomfort of a little plastic bride and groom lodged in a random orifice.

Tuesday, 6 April 2004

doing it for the osteopath



I went to see my osteopath today and he asked me the usual questions every time I see him: how has my progress been since we last met, am I feeling any pain at the moment, am I on any medication, etc. "Oh, and I might be pregnant", I mentioned rather casually. His eyes lit up and a smile spread across his friendly face. "Oooh! This is good news! Have you taken a home pregnancy test?" No, it's too early yet. "Are you feeling anything? Any symptoms?" No, it's probably still too early yet. "I wish you all the best! Remember to take your folic acid and try to do some stretching, and I won't do any acupuncture until the baby is more fully formed..." and so he went on during my appointment, making a bit of a fuss about me. Am I okay with lying on my stomach? Please let him know right away if I feel any discomfort or pain.



If I'm not actually pregnant, I think it'll break his heart.

Monday, 5 April 2004

egad



Thanks (is that the word I'm looking for?) to Jack for pointing out this site, which is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.



No, we will not dress up our dog for the wedding. That I can promise you.

something for everyone



*Warning: I am about to discuss wedding plans because some of you have expressed an interest. For those of you who are not interested (i.e. male), here are some pictures for you to enjoy: a photo of Carrie Anne Moss in patten leather, a pint of Guinness, and a random result from yesterday's footie matches. Do not read any further if you do not want to be bored/nauseated/offended by talk about weddings. Thank you.







Just another word of thanks to all of you who've left congratulatory comments and sent messages to us. Makes me all weepy, it does. :)



We are meeting the wedding lady on Wednesday to have a look around the venue and discuss the sort of weddingy things one discusses with wedding ladies. The tentative plan is to marry on Sept. 25, 2004 in England. That's right, this year. I ain't getting any younger you know. The theme is small and simple (a bit like me, really): immediate family and close friends, ceremony and reception at the same place, lots of food/drink/laughs, and a wedding dress that doesn't make me look like a doughboy that has spent 15 minutes in the microwave. I don't think I'll have bridesmaids, but I will have flower girls (we've got two already eagerly awaiting) and Paul will have a best man. As feminist as I like to think I am, I do want my Dad to give me away or lead me down the aisle or pawn me off on the poor unsuspecting Englishman, or whatever you want to call it. We're thinking of going to Napa/Sonoma for our honeymoon following the wedding, and then we can also see Paul's grandma.



What's really important to us is keeping this as stress-free as possible and not doing something just to please others. And finding a way to smuggle Jasper into the ceremony and reception.

Sunday, 4 April 2004

spot the difference



How does a woman know she is pregnant (in the very early stage)? Apparently, she can experience any/none/some of the following: increased appetite, tender breasts/nipples, fatigue, nausea, moodiness, and cravings for certain foods. And this is different from the usual two weeks leading up to my period, how? Indeed. I know a few women who say that they knew they were pregnant almost immediately. I don't have that feeling, but I do have a rather large zit on my chin. My temperature went up the night of my birthday, then dipped back down again for the following two days, and has now risen ever so slightly (but not up to the usual temperature that tends to appear after I've ovulated). No, I have no idea what that means either. To be honest, I think the best thing I can do is just wait. No period in the next couple of weeks means it's time to pee on a stick and see what it says. Not very high tech, but sometimes it's better to keep things simple.



We wanted to be married before I got pregnant, but then changed our minds when we got engaged. The idea was to start trying now because it might take months (years, even) before I conceive. But now we're wondering what will happen if I get pregnant now or in the next couple of months. We're hoping for an Autumn wedding or sooner, and the last thing I want is to waddle down the aisle in a stretchy polyester muumuu. Do I want to be sober at the reception? Do I want to risk barfing on the best man during the ceremony if I'm suffering from morning sickness? Would we still be able to go on a honeymoon? Won't people think we're only getting married because I'm pregnant? What if our child grows up thinking the same thing?



But I do want to be pregnant and Paul will be thrilled no matter when it happens. This is going to be a long two weeks.

here's the scoop



Details of our engagement and holiday can be seen here.



Thank you all for the congratulations and kind words. Promise to spare you tedious wedding planning details in this blog, unless they are relatively amusing in an anecdotal kind of way.

Saturday, 3 April 2004

one giant leap for paul and lisa kind



As you already know, Paul proposed to me on Wednesday night. On Wednesday night, we also decided to throw Mr. Condom into the bin and start trying to conceive (which, when put that way, sounds very unromantic indeed - but it's not unromantic, truly). It's exciting and scary and thrilling and a million other things, but it's all good.



Fingers crossed. :)

i said yes