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It's taken a while for the words to come.

[livejournal.com profile] furzepig is the reason I don't LRP anymore.

No. That's not quite right.

[livejournal.com profile] furzepig is the reason I know I'm not a LRPer anymore.

I've known D. for a very long time. Memory* says 'The Dome' which would place it around '95 or so; bonding over LRP and web design in a virtual room pretending to be a castle in an imaginary world. I'm aware it doesn't get much geekier than that. Though she won. My webdesign was for a university. Hers was for a comics company. Orbiting around each other at games the length and breadth of England. Always having a good word to say to each other when we did.

Then, post Millenium, I stopped going to the same games that she did. Well, I stopped going to games, mostly. She was at the first NWO game, and we had a few seconds to chat - there was far too much going on to spend time on real life interactions. And the games which did have that time, I was no longer attending. She played Maelstrom, and had a whale of a time. I took up clubbing, and it was pretty good, all things considered. But we fell out of contact.

But the modern gossamer thin strand was there. D came relatively late to LiveJournal, and then there was Facebook, and the myriad ways that it's possible to keep in touch without much effort in this modern age. I'm a great believer that friendships are sustained by trivia - if you see someone infrequently, then you get to hear of the highs and the lows, but all you know of their life is the top and bottom of the sine wave. For their life to seem full to you, for it to seem real ... for that you need to know what they're having for lunch, or that they stubbed their toe. That can be by seeing them day to day in person, or online.

So, thanks to Facebook and LJ, D and I became real to each other again.

So, LRP. D. persuaded me back. "Come to Odyssey", she said. "Play a snooty Roman. Kt and Iain will be there, and some other people that you won't have seen for a very long time. It will be fun."

And it was. I think, of all the games I've played, it was one of the best. Great company, fantastic costumes, an immersive world. The weather held, the wine flowed freely, the laughter rang through the trees. There were no strops OOC (in our group, anyhow), no hardships.

And if I can come out of a game like that with no desire to return, I think it's fair to say that this is no longer my hobby.

D. gave me a gift (as did Kt, Iain, Sarah and everyone else that game). She gave me the best possible way to draw a line under something that had been a major part of my life for 10 years, and a minor (but still important) part for another 5.

That wasn't the last I saw of her, which is of course even better than the gift of a game. She was making more effort to visit London and to socialise when possible, and my work took me to Glasgow occasionally, so we'd meet up for dinner and drinks when we could. (Even though it was a 3 hour round trip for her.) I'm not sure I could tell you now what we talked about over Glaswegian sushi, but cabbages and kings were certainly involved.

And now she's gone.

Ave Atque Vale ...

By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drenchèd with a brother’s tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!

Aubrey Beardsley, translating Catullus.
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Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things
no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.

You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.

The Ways We Touch, Miller Williams
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Madrid fashion week, one of Spain's most prestigious shows, is banning underweight models on the basis of their body mass index (BMI). UN health experts recommend a BMI of between 18.5 and about 25, and some models may fall well below the minimum. The Spanish Association of Fashion Designers has decided to ban models who have a BMI of less than 18.

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'If someone cuts themselves getting into your garden, we can send a forensic officer to collect DNA,' adds Bob. 'Weave old bramble through a trellis and you achieve what you would do with the worst razor wire. We're talking defensive planting. Climbing and rambling roses,pyracantha, smilax, thorny chaenomeles, sharp-toothed Berberis 'Blenheim', viciously spiny Ulex europaeus. The garden strikes back -naturally - and there's no obligation to post any warning. But if it's razor wire you choose, legal warnings don't need to be at regular intervals. Just one small cigarette packet-sized warning will do.'

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So, for the first time ever, I've handed in two resignation letters within 12 months. On the 18th September I start my new job as IT Trainer for UCL, back in the centre of London (and within 5 minutes walk of the place I left last year). It's ironic - the main reason I'm leaving UEL is because there isn't enough work for me to do - but the timing of the job offer has meant that I'll be leaving them at their busiest time. And with one of the team likely to still be in hospital when I leave.


Anyway - the various bits of paper are now flying around the world to move me smoothly from one role to another.

Weirdly, I'm even looking forward to the commute again.
jfs: (penalty)
I may have lost my degree certificate. This is annoying, but the last I remember seeing it was 4 years ago, just about the time I started at SPH, and in the middle of my move to London.

It's probably in a box in the basement somewhere, but hey ho.

So, just in case, I mailed MMU (which used to be Manchester Polytechnic) and enquired about getting a replacement copy.

I received a somewhat terse reply, written by someone who's really not very good at communicating electronically - they'd changed the subject line of the email such that it almost got caught by my spamtrap, and hadn't left anything in the body of the email to give me any context. However, that's not so big a deal - I've communicated with enough poor communicators not to worry overly about it.

I was informed that I couldn't get a reprint of my certificate. Well, I'm guessing that's what I was informed. What I was actually told was something that I was very well aware of, which is that "Your certificate was given to you at the 1991 Awards Ceremony" which I'm choosing to interpret as "We're not going to print you another copy". Again, not particularly cause for confusion, despite the fact that Manchester Polytechnic degree certificates were about as ornate as some of the swimming certificates I received when I was a child - as I recall, there was the tiniest amount of gilding, and a photostated signature. The sort of thing it would be reasonably trivial to forge with Photoshop and a good quality printer.

What was confusing to me was being told that "You can obtain verification from the Open University" - apparently there's a form I need to fill out, which I'm going to be sent.

Anyone out there in Academia have the slightest clue why I need to apply to the Open University for verification that I passed a degree at a bricks and mortar university 15 years ago?

Hmmmm ....

Jun. 16th, 2006 03:37 pm
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Are you a Nice Guy or a nice guy?

Very interesting post from [livejournal.com profile] divalion, ganked from [livejournal.com profile] mister_ed.
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It was my niece's birthday earlier in the week, and given that we're travelling home today for my Dad's 65th, I thought I'd take the present up for Jade rather than posting it.

I've gotten her five old books - actually taken them off my shelves and wrapped them rather than going to the shops and buying new ones, even though I know they're still in print.

You see, in a conversation with my sister, it emerged that my niece has not read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence.

Those of you who are regular readers of this journal may have an inkling of how incredibly happy I am at the present moment.
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"Norah Vincent spent 18months disguised as a man. She relives the boys nights out, the baddates - and what happened when she ended up in bed with another woman"


Safe for work, and it's made me want to pick the book up too.
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is that when insomnia strikes, you have something to do.

Another thousand words for a character sheet for NWO, bringing it up to a shade over 8,000. I should finish it tomorrow, which is a good thing. Then on to the next.

It seems to be a tradition with me that I screw my sleep patterns over Christmas - for a few years we went away with friends and conversations that started at midnight carried on until dawn, and I returned to work going to sleep at 4am and dragging my self out of bed at 7. Eventually, with a hammer, my bodyclock reset itself and I could sleep before 1 am.

This year, I didn't think it would happen. I was up late for the New Year, but other than that I've been in bed before 1am most nights, and before midnight on some.

So why, now that I have to go back to work tomorrow, am I still awake at 3am?

There's no justice.
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A few weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead and I went to the Isle of Wight with some lovely chums, and much fun was had by all. The only slight cloud on the horizon was the weather which caused significant damage to the tent that we'd borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject and [livejournal.com profile] westernind.

So, when we returned, we started investigating getting it fixed. The main problem was that the whole tent's structure depended on an aluminium star joint which was, frankly, a little bit fragile. When part of that snapped off mid storm, the resulting strain caused two of the carbon fibre poles to snap also. The poles are easily replacable. The star joint was obviously going to be the difficult part.

Step 1. Ring the manufacturers for a spare star joint. Milletts, the camping people, were lovely on the phone. "No, we don't have any star joints spare for that tent. Yes, that's because they kept breaking. Actually, we did a product recall about 3 years ago on the tent because of the star joint. The recall is still in force, actually. If you'd like to take the tent into your nearest Milletts, we'll give you vouchers towards another tent."

At this point, there was much gnashing of teeth on my part, because what [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject and [livejournal.com profile] westernind would prefer is their own tent functioning, not a new tent. They like the style, know how to put it up, and so on.

[livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead is the brains in our cohabitation. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

"What if we bought the same model tent from Ebay?" She said. "We could replace the broken bits on [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject and [livejournal.com profile] westernind's tent and then take the broken tent to Milletts and get vouchers."

A plan, I think you'll agree, of sheer brilliance. Breathtaking in its simplicity. How could it possibly go wrong? A quick trip to Ebay showed 4 tents of the right model, all ripe for the plucking. What could be the problem?

Ebay snipers.

I knew of the situation previously- people who dive in at the last minute (or often, the last few seconds) of an auction to drop their bids in. Suddenly, an item which had no interest shown in it for a week can have 10+ bids in the dying seconds. There's apparantly even sniping websites where you can put in your Ebay details and the site will do the sniping for you, with reflexes faster than the human eye (but still, amusingly, limited by bandwidth ... the more things change, the more they stay the same ...). But in my limited Ebay usage, I'd never really encountered Ebay snipers. The things I was used to bidding on didn't tent to garner a lot of attention. Ebay snipers weren't really part of my world.

Until the buggers sniped all 4 tents from under me.

On each occasion, the auctions went to £50+ (when you include the courier charges for the delivery) which is far more than anyone should want to pay for a 2nd hand tent that the manufacturer has recalled. Either these people didn't know about the recall, in which case they're in for a nasty shock, or they do, and they're trying to capitalise on that the same way we are.

It's our plan, damnit. Gerrof!

Luckily, at approximately 11am this morning, I won one of the tents in question. It's at the high end of what we were looking to pay, but it is within the budget.

So [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject and [livejournal.com profile] westernind get a functioning tent, and we get Milletts vouchers.

I love it when a plan comes together ....
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And I saw some beautiful buildings of all ages; Tudor half timbers next to Victorian mansions next to 21st Century towers.

And I saw a gaggle of Muslim girls in headscarves and with Estury English accents, walking through their city and discussing whatever it is that teenage girls discuss.

And I saw people with maps offering help to people without them.

And I saw high-visibility jackets everywhere, as police and emergency workers and London Underground staff stood by their posts, ready to help.

And I saw posters with the Olympic rings flying high, exhorting the people of London to "Make Britain Proud".

Yesterday I walked home from work, through a city I swore for many years I would not live in and now find it difficult to ever think of leaving. I walked home from work and I enjoyed the walk.

And I made a pledge to my self, that as best I can, I will not hate.

The people who plant bombs on tube trains want to be hated. They want to be attacked. They want to be feared. They want us to lash out in anger at anyone who has a funny name, or the wrong coloured skin, or an accent that isn't our own. They want us to push more young men and women into their arms, to opress them so that they see their only redress to take up arms and hurt the people of my city and my country.

They want us to hate, and I will not give them the satisfaction of my hatred.
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A few people have posted about giving blood, and it's a fantastic thought, but if this crisis is like the others that we've faced in the past, the time to give isn't now, when there will be a rush of people doing so because they want to help; the time to give blood is in 2 weeks time, or a months time, when stocks will be low, when people won't be able to give because they gave this week.

I'd urge all of you, if you don't give blood already, to think about popping in next week to help.
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and one of the interesting things that the Guardian mentions in a report on the vote, is that one of the failings of the legislation being put forward is that Irish citizens living in the UK will not have to carry ID cards.

Apart from my own obvious self interest, given that I've got joint citizenship, how's that going to work then?

Imagine the situation; in 5 years time, I get stopped by a member of HM's Constabulary.

Copper: "ID card please, sir."

Me, with a distinctly non-Irish accent: "Sorry officer. Don't have one. Irish Citizen don'tcha know."

Copper, with sceptical look on face: "Can you prove that?"

Me, relishing the irony: "No. Because I don't have to carry around proof of my identity."

At this point, I'm expecting to get arrested. A lot.
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The Streets: A Grand Don't Come for Free is a great album, but it's awful to write to - he's far too engaging a writer and poet to do anything else to. Once this track is finished (Blinded by the light - yup - been there. Definitely been there.) something more melodic is going on and the keyboard gets a workout.

Camden is hell on a Saturday, hot saturdays doubly so. Having said that, the genius on the Morrocan food stall saw me coming - I now have a big bag o' perverts food ((tm) the Aetheaneum Club) - olives, artichokes, feta cheese, wrapped vine leaves and the most amazing marinated wild garlic - it's like all the best bits of onions, garlic and spices. Just the smell of it made my mouth water and then the dealer vendor offered me a toothpick and said "The first taste is free ...."

Sarongs make great clothing. Sandals stop your feet burning on the stone. There's not a lot else necessary (and that may constitute TMI ...)

This flat is a little cold in winter but oh, my lord I reap the benefits in Summer. The basement is still pleasantly cold.

[livejournal.com profile] boglin and [livejournal.com profile] lupercal - you left a beer in the fridge. Thank you. :-)
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I was reading the 'Ask Jack' column in the Guardian yesterday, and someone asked him about setting up a blog for personal use, and keeping in touch with relatives. And Jack, bless him, didn't mention Livejournal at all. I'm not surprised, to be honest; regular readers of the Online section will know that Jack Schofield's prejudices get printed every week; for years Macs were never mentioned because Jack doesn't like them. So whether it's by ommission (he doesn't know about LJ) or commission (he doesn't consider it to be proper 'blogging'), we don't get a mention.

What's proper blogging? Sure, LJ can be full of psycho drama; badly written juvenile prose (or worse, poetry - I'm glad we don't get video journals because then some fool would express themselves in interpretive dance and I'd have to burn down the Internet.) It has the minutae of people's lives, and these things go uncommented, and unread.

And Blogger has all that too.

The best of blogging, for me, falls into one of two categories; it tells me something about a person that I didn't know before, or it changes the way I look at the world. Livejournal is just as valid a blogging tool as anything else, from that perspective.

[livejournal.com profile] westernind posted earlier today about Zach, a US teenager being forced into a re-education camp to 'cure' him of his homosexuality. Zach is 16.

"And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."
Mark 9:42

Teach people to love, and they will love. Teach people to hate, and they will hate.

I'd like to add the following:

Fighting fire with fire: how to argue with a Conservative Christian

God Hates Stupid Homophobes - a scary post gathering together links to a world I wish didn't exist.

With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] westernind and [livejournal.com profile] cavalorn for the links.
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As some of you know, the upcoming weekend is ... full. Yes - full. That's a good word for it. Anyway, we are celebrating many, many things, and if you're reading this, you're welcome to get involved.

Here comes the madness.

Friday, 10th June

Saturday, 11th June
  • Ilford, 8pm. Chinese meal to celebrate the birthdays of [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject, [livejournal.com profile] westernind and Roo WINOLJ, If you'd like to come to this and you haven't already, please let [livejournal.com profile] westernind know so she can make sure to book enough spaces in the restaurant.

  • Whirl-y-gig  8pm - 2am, near Liverpool St. station. Bounchy happy people listening to world music and the funkyier side of dance in a beautiful converted church. There will be a posse going from the Chinese meal to Whirly if you'd like company.

  • The Ilford Pimms society - for those not wishing to dance the night away, there will be Pimms or mulled wine (weather depending) on Green Lane in Ilford. Good company and conversation guaranteed.

Sunday 12th June
  • Mozart's Requiem at the Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm. For those of you I'm holding tickets for, if I haven't seen you by then, I will be at Royal Festival Hall from 6.45pm to 7.15pm outside Books Etc. (Main Foyer, Level 2). I'll be posting contact details in a locked post in a little bit.
  • Chilling and chat will happen somewhere on Sunday afternoon before we head in to the Requiem. Don't know where, aren't planning on planning. But you're welcome there. :-)

Please be aware that unless you've already sorted crashspace for the weekend, it's very unlikely that there's any going spare in Ilford - there's officially no room at the inn at ours, for example.

This is going to be a good one, people - I'm really looking forward to it.

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"Only a small proportion of the World's five billion people are engaged in acts of violence. The overwhelming majority are engaged in acts of loving, caring and sharing"

(Edit: I went searching: http://www.tibet.com/DL/vilnius.html - it's from a speech he gave to the Parliament of Lithuania in 1991 - and I changed the quotation to what he actually said.)

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