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1/ For a long time you were the only other practising (or in my case semi- practicing) Christian larper I knew. Is faith/spirituality still important to you?

I honestly don't know. I blogged about a year ago about how I didn't tick 'Christian' on the Census form this time, though it was a tussle. I've been thinking a lot about it since, and I guess my current state of mind is that of practical agnosticism - I don't know that what I believe is necessarily important. What's important is what I do. If I do something nice for someone, then its irrelevant if I'm doing that because God told me to, or because Kant suggested it, or even if just because I like the nice warm fuzzy glow I get from doing it. The person in question still got something nice done for them.

Having said that, on the winter solstice in 2009 I wrote my own credo:

I believe that this life is a journey, and that the day I stop learning is the day that I die.
I believe that I come to truth through stories, and that by telling stories to others I learn.
I believe that I am from this land and of this land, and that the stories that teach me best are the ones that spring from the same ground as me.
I believe that love, light and warmth are three things to strive for, and to wish for, and to wish for others too.

I still hold that to be true.

2/ Was LT the only larp you were involved with, or have there been others which have grabbed your attention at times?

*grin* I started LRP in 1986 at a little club in Telford, and by the time the LT started in '92 was playing a lot with a group called Nemesis in Manchester. In fact, many of the Harts in '94 were Nemesis players. For fests, I also played Omega, and then I played in the 5 'NWO' freeforms - probably my favourite game of all.

3/ Have your political views changed any since first formed?

Yes - I'm far more left wing now that I ever was. I think there's a number of massive inequalities in society, and that I need to play my part in trying to reduce those inequalities. And I'm far more republican now (anti-royal rather than IRA :-)) that I was in my teens and twenties.

4/ Why tabletop RPGs?

The joy of collaborative building; stories and worlds. The fun of the game, and a good reminder that games don't have to be zero-sum (something, to my shame, I'm not always good at remembering). And sometimes, just a damn good excuse to hang round with my mates and drink beer and eat pizza.

5/ Would you recommend laser eye surgery following your experiences?

Yes, but my experiences have been all positive. I healed quickly, had great eyesight for 9 years after the surgery and am only now having to wear glasses in certain circumstances; driving, mainly.

Still think it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

6/ What fictional character do you most relate to, and why?

Horatio Hornblower / Nicholas Seafort (they're essentially the same character.) Because I like to think that even when I screw up beyond all belief, and I have, that it's not because of any malice. Most of the biggest mistakes I've made have been down to lethargy.

7/ What skill would you most like to acquire?

If by 'acquire', you mean magically, without any effort, then speaking languages. Japanese if I'm only allowed one. If I'm allowed multiple, then I may need to think about that some more. (Welsh, Gaelic, Latin, French, Spanish, German ...)

On the other hand, if you're not going to allow me a magic wand, and actually mean that I've got to do all that dull learning and practice, then it's either sailing or climbing.
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Usual meme rules - comment back if you'd like questions for yourself. (If you'd like to comment without getting questions, feel free, just let me know)

The delightful [livejournal.com profile] kt_peasant asked me these 7 questions:

1. Would you rather watch something done well, or do it yourself, possibly less well? Discuss.

Both. I love watching people who are better than me at things; its one of the best ways for me to learn. There's a guy called Nigel who climbs at Mile End who is just one of the most graceful people I've ever seen and he climbs in a way that makes ... jealous is entirely the wrong word. He inspires me to climb better, even though I doubt I'll ever climb half as well as he does.

So both - give me someone good at what they do to watch and to learn from and to inspire me, and I'll be happy.

2. What does the word 'cabaret' evoke for you?


At its best, cabaret is entertainment. Related to Q1 it's watching people good at what they do, up on stage, making other people feel emotion, usually very positive emotion.

And I get to stand at the back and watch the audience and be aware that I've been a part of making that happen.

Running an event is something like I've always imagined surfing to feel like - it's chaos and you're thrashing away and it could all end up with you flat on your back with the waves about to crash down on your head. But then you reach this balance point, where the chaos is going on around you, but you know that you're better than it. That you've got everything you need to make it through to the end, and that you're poised on top of the wave and that there's nothing coming that you can't cope with. When I got to that point in the evening with Planet Angel I used to go and sit on a speaker at the front of the room, face the dancing crowd and I would just burst out laughing with the joy of that feeling.

With cabaret, that would disrupt things rather too much, so I laugh on the inside instead.

Still get the feeling though.

3. Have you ever taken IC learning/development back into real life? When?

Not sure. Things like confidence? Definitely. But that's a gradual grow rather than specific instances. I once went into a work evaluation meeting as Jarane because they were trying to pull a fast one with The Code the HR Policy regarding bonuses. That was fun :-)

4. If you could be anywhere, with a forcefield beneath to prevent InstaDeath, what would you most want to climb?

I wouldn't.

There's two reasons. Firstly, for me, climbing is about the route, not the destination. It's lovely to be at the top of a rock knowing that I've just achieved it. Which rock it is isn't as important (at the moment. As I get more outdoor experience, that might change.)

Secondly, the challenge in climbing isn't really the fear of falling. It's "Can I make the next move?". I might not be able to make it because I'm scared to fall, but your forcefield isn't as reassuring as a stout rope and an alert belayer. But it's much more likely that I won't be able to make the next move because I'm too tired, or not quite strong enough, or my balance isn't right, or I haven't approached the hold intelligently, or I'm just not good enough.

And sometimes that all happens when I'm only 2 feet above the floor.

There's lots of places I want to go - many of them I want to go and climb. But no need for a forcefield. :-)

5. Are cities at night better in winter or summer?

Depends on the city. Prague at night in winter; you wrap yourself in the blanket that the bar provides and sit outside, drink the winter ale and watch the lights of the Old Town all around. London at night in summer. Walking through Bloomsbury when it's warm, and almost silent. The stones breath out and everything is calm; a side of the city that you rarely see.

6. Name five books you would want with you on a desert island.

  • Dante's Divine Comedy, if only because I might have time to make it all the way through.
  • The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Because they're beautiful, and if I'm going to be talking to myself (I do it at home, no doubt I'd do it on a desert island) I might as well have something good to proclaim.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary - as large an edition as you'll let me get away with. If it has the etymologies, so much the better.
  • The Times Atlas of the World - because even place names make my imagination fly.
  • Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. Just because ....

7. Which tabletop game have you found most immersive? Tell me a story from it.

I don't find tabletop immersive when I'm playing. I focus too much on the 'game' part of RPG. This is not something I'm very proud of.

But as a GM? 3 stories.

An Ars Magica game where an old Diedne came out of Faerie to negotiate with the characters about bringing his house back into the Order. They'd sent him because he was dying, and tough enough that the PCs wouldn't be able to force any information out of him. And he'd gone because he just wanted to sit in Snowdonia once more, and to die in Wales. As I was playing him, his voice kept dropping quieter and quieter as he slowed further and further towards death. And when I looked up, at least one of the players was crying.

A Buffy the Vampire Slayer game where a friend called Caroline, in her 3rd ever RPG, was playing a 'Cordelia' like character. She was walking through a vampire infested warehouse when another PC dropped a bundle of sticks near her and used magic to change them to snakes. Caroline said "I pick my feet up carefully and move slowly", whereupon the character who'd dropped the sticks shouted "Don't be scared. I'll command the snakes away from you." Without a pause for breath, Caroline retorted "I'm not scared, you stupid man. These are very expensive shoes!". For a handful of breaths, I honestly felt like I was watching a TV show being created in front of my eyes.

An Unknown Armies game, where [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject was playing an Avatar of the Architect, and he and his group had been sucked into a dreamworld where another Avatar of the Architect was trying to make Simon's character break taboo. The party were stuck at the top of a towerblock with the Chinese Triads coming in through the ground floor with lots of guns. Simon's character could change the building they were in to escape, but only by adding things to it. If he subtracted them, he broke taboo. He not only got everyone out, he got me (as his opponent) to break taboo because I honestly couldn't think of any other way to slow them down. Very few dice rolls, no preplanning, just trying to inhabit the mind of the architect faster and better than he could. And failing. It was awesome.
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It's the 5 question thing all over again - [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula asked, and I answer:

1. What will you be like at fifty?

I honestly have no idea - if you'd asked me at the age of 30 what I was going to be like at 40 I'd have been wrong in almost every aspect so I'm loathe to put up too many hostages to fortune. But that's not really in the spirit of the meme, so here's some guesses.

I think there's a more than reasonable chance I'll still be single, or that there won't be one committed relationship. The longer I remain single, the more comfortable I become with that idea. I'll still be in London, and there's a reasonably good chance I'll be in the same job, or at least, with the same organisation. Probably still enjoying it.

What will I be like? More content than happy. More relaxed than angry. More calm than alone. More experienced and less bothered about what people think.

2. You can make one permanent change/enhancement to London. What would it be?

A complete smoking ban in all public places. I've yet to meet a considerate smoker so bollocks to the lot of them. Cigarette butts are the piece of litter I see most on the streets because the fuckers can't be bothered to tidy up after themselves.

3. You can go back in time to any point in your life and either say or unsay something to someone. What would it be?

"I guess I wasn't meant to see that post".

4. You have to live for three months in a country that isn't in Europe (I mean actual Europe, not the EU). Which one would you choose?

Assuming I could get over my crippling monolingualism, Japan. Specifically Kyoto if I get the choice. It's just beautiful there, and I'd happily spend more time there.
If I can't magically learn another language, the USA. I've seen the tiniest part of it (New York, New England and Boston) and there's a massive amount of it I still want to see. I think 3 months would be my limit though because the stories I've heard of health insurance woes over there scare me witless.

5. You can have a brief romance with anyone living or dead, fictional or real. Who would it be and why?

That answer changes day by day. At the moment, Björk, mainly because I've been listening to a track of hers called "Vökuró" from Medúlla, which reminds me very much of 'The Summer Book' and 'The Winter Book' by Tove Jansson. There's something about gentle melancholy which appeals, especially with the heat of summer upon us. And it's very different from much of her music, and seeing an unexpected side to someone you think you know well is attractive to.
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How did you come to start your LJ?

It seemed to be the way that a lot of friends were starting to keep in touch at a point that I was stopping going to Lorien Trust events. Shamefully, I can't remember who gave me an invite code.

How did you find your first friends?

For a very long time, everyone I flisted on LJ was someone I knew in real life. Now I'm far less fanatical about that - I rarely write anything that's not public, and my LJ Flist has several people on it that I'm unlikely ever to meet, but who I enjoy reading.

Are those first friends still on your FL?

Mostly. Some aren't, just because they haven't posted in so long.

Do you have more friends or communities on your FL?

Friends, though I've also got more RSS feeds than communities.

Do you do a lot of friends cuts?

I used to cull my flist when I thought someone wasn't posting for a long time - I haven't bothered with that for a few years because they're not posting, they're not impinging on me.

I don't think I've removed anyone for any other reason.

What do you like in an LJ friend?

Someone who's part of the community - they both read, comment and post. Interesting comment is good. And, slightly voyeuristically, people who show me a little bit of their life.

What do you dislike?

Lists without explanation.

What would make you un-friend someone immediately?

I may have to quote Kath here - them being a dick.

Have you been caught up in a lot of LJ drama?

No. I'm very careful about what I post here, and I don't have a lot of drama in my life in that way,

Do real life friends and family members know you have a journal on LJ?

One of my sisters does; the rest of the family are vaguely aware, but I'd be surprised if they they ever thought to try and look me up.

Do you also have Facebook and if so, what do you prefer – LJ or FB?

Apples and Oranges; very different beasts.

What about Twitter?

I rarely look on Twitter.

Do you blog on any other sites?

No - this is enough effort.

How often do you check in on LJ?

At least daily.

What do you rarely or never post about?

I tend not to post about other people; their stories are theirs to tell. And there are aspects of my personal life that don't get mentioned because that's what personal means.

Why don’t you post about that?

Because I'm deliberately choosing what to publish - this is filtered through what I want people to read about. It's not stream of consciousness.

Have you ever thought about deleting your journal?

No. Why would I?

Have you ever changed your username?


Why did you choose your current username?

It's my initials. I rarely hide behind a more complex nom du clef.

If you’re looking for new friends, how do you find them?

Usually by reading their comments on someone else's journal, clicking through, and liking what I see.

Are you taking new people on to your Friends List just now?

Yes - got any suggestions?

Finally, tell us the reasons why you keep an online journal.

I like writing, and I like feedback on what I write.
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Nice to see [livejournal.com profile] quondam starting with an easy one.

[livejournal.com profile] maleghast was back at mine last weekend post V:Movie, and we shared a dram of a particular whisky called Dimple; it's a blend, relatively light - a good late night whisky.

That particular bottle came from my Uncle Jack; duty free of course, dropped off when I lived in Brighton and he was on a driving tour of the country, which for him meant visiting relatives and Masonic Lodges. He'd arrived from Germany via Dover, and while driving down the coast had got a parking ticket in Hastings. He paid it in Euros; just a small revenge for what he considered to be an unfairly small sign saying 'Do Not Park Here'. Jack had a hard life with illness after illness, as I've written about before. But he was always friendly, always cheerful, always inquisitive.

Jack died in November 2003. I still miss him. The bottle will empty, but memories remain.

"Dream a little dream" has just come on the radio. There's another whole list of losses.


I believe that changing our perceptions artificially is something that most human beings do. Generally they do that deliberately, and generally they do that by choosing to ingest something that has a desired effect.

Given that, I think the Government's role should be to make sure that the substances being ingested are as safe as possible, are labelled correctly, and that accurate information should be provided on the risks of over-indulgance, including (when known) the lifetime risks.

Prohibition does not work. It funds organised crime, it stops the necessary education of drug users, and it means that any substances that are ingested tend to be cut to maximise profit, with no oversight to make sure that the cutting substances are safe.

Prohibition doesn't stop people taking drugs - they rightly assume that the risks are far lower than the government chooses to tell us, and that the chance of getting caught is also pretty low. Prohibition is not a deterrance. In fact, in some cases it can be seen to act as an encouragement. Compare the use of drugs amongst teenagers in Portugal, the Netherlands and the UK.

People used to die or go blind from drinking 'Bathtub gin'. They don't, as a whole, do so any more (in this country at least). This is a good thing. Why can't that be applied to other drugs?


I may have turned into a climbing bore over the last couple of years.

It's a great form of exercise for me. It involves both my head and my body, so I don't get bored. It's got interesting levels of challenge; once you've mastered one route, you can try a different route, or you can try the same route but with more restrictions on yourself, or you can try the same route but quieter / more gracefully, and so on, and so on. It's also a very sociable hobby; people talk to each other far more than the gym denizens I was used to do.

I've been a bit slack in the last month; partially because my normal climbing partner moved to Germany (inconsiderate of him, just because they offered him a job) and partially because the summer is usually more full of things to do. But I'll get back to it.

And I technically did my first outdoors climb a couple of weekends ago. (Technically, because it was at the beach, climbing chalk, which you shouldn't really do for a number of reasons, and I was quite drunk. I blame the Pimms.)


One of the most important things in the world for me; I'm very grateful for the friends I have, and am getting better at keeping hold of them. I'm not in touch (except via Facebook) with anyone I knew when I was 20. I'm still in touch with many of the people I considered to be my friends when I was 30. This is a good thing.

I try to be a good friend; my friends are of such calibre that they are worth the effort.


We always had dogs when I was a kid - Cheetah the Springer Spaniel, Sniff the Corgi, Bill and Ben the slightly doolally Labrador crosses. They slept on my bed when I could get away with it. I never thought about getting a cat.

But then [livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead moved in, and she's very much a cat person. And a friend of a friend on LJ had a kitten that they couldn't keep, so we acquired Hideki - a little black kitten with about 30 white hairs on him. Only he didn't look like a Hideki. "He purrs like an earthquake" observed [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject. So Richter he was named.

I'm very glad he's here.
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From the wisest of all Baggies ..... again, as with [livejournal.com profile] kt_peasant I'm a little surprised at the selection, but gratifyingly so.


I think I believe in magic. By that, I mean the sort of magic most commonly described as 'laying your will upon the world'. It's in the same place in my head as prayer is, and what Dale Carnegie or the NLP practitioners might call having a positive mental attitude. I know that there are shapes I can get my head into where I know the world will change before I do.

It comes from the same root as my stubbornness and my loyalty, and it's the Square in the Aikido shapes. An unwillingness to bend. An unwillingness to change. An unwillingness to compromise.

Of course, it fights against my laziness, but that's how it should be. Yin and Yang.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw


There's something about firelight that changes us. It's a softer light than we're used to in this modern age, and a more forgiving one. I was re-watching Peter O'Toole in 'Casanova' last night and at one point, where the young serving girl has exclaimed at how ill he's looking, he says "Ahh, you saw me in firelight last night. I must remember that for future seductions."

Firelight creates stories; if primitive storytellers had lightbulbs when they gathered around to spin their tales, I doubt we would have had the tales of horror that we do now. Firelight flickers, and that creates movement, and movement creates drama in the darkness.

Some people are distracted by television, or the radio. Put me in a room or a field with an open fire, and I guarantee that you will have to drag my attention away from the flames at least once.


I'm naturally lawful, I think. Chaos seems like such hard work, and for such little gain. Related to that, I like things to work, and to work first time, and that usually takes planning. When I ran a murder mystery party for a friend earlier in the year, there were several appreciative laughs when I pulled out an envelope for each attendee with all their information in, with one friend commenting "John in overly organised shocker!" - but to my mind, I couldn't have run the game if I hadn't put that preparation in.

But I have my own shrines to Chaos in my flat - the books are defiantly not ordered, nor are the DVDs. It means I don't always find what I started out looking for, but I increase my chances of finding something serendipitiously.


I hope I'm a courteous person - I try to be; more now that I did in my 20s. I think courtesy and politeness are very important in creating harmony. However, I'm aware, especially when I'm discussing something that I'm passionate about that I can come across as quite arrogant; I'll state my opinions as if they were facts, because they're something I believe in. I hope with most of my friends that they realise that I'm not being rude, but realise that it's my responsibility to work on that. And sometimes, of course, I'm just plain being arrogant.

However, I deplore being rude by accident - if I want to insult someone, I'd rather it was deliberate, and considered.


I'm not sure how to interpret this.

Tied into my thoughts on will are an ability to ... push. To focus Ki, if you like to explain it that way. To move forward, brushing aside the obstacles ahead of you. It's the Triangle. Active, rather than the passive square. The square is willful like a lighthouse is. The triangle is a knife, cutting the air. You can shut someone down by pushing, if it's done at the right moment.

I know how to push. I generally try not to unless I think it's really important. Again, something that I hope I'm getting better at.

5 words

Jul. 31st, 2009 10:16 am
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Say "words!" in the comments and I'll respond with 5 words that I associate with you. Write something about them in your LJ.


[livejournal.com profile] lisekit gave me the following:



Where to start? I think that, to me, geekiness is more than anything else, a willingness to be enthusiastic about something beyond the bounds of the social norms for that subject. You might get terribly enthusiastic following a sports team; that isn't geeky. Geekiness is memorising scores, knowing history, remembering trivia and, most importantly, not being ashamed. Baddiel and Skinner were fans. Statto was a geek.

Most of my friends are geeks. But then, if you're willing to dig a little (and that means listening, which is not part of the geek stereotype) most people have something that enthuses them that much.


I sometimes lie to myself and say I wish I spoke more languages. The truth is, I wish there was a magic spell that would mean I just knew them all without that pesky learning. They don't enthuse me enough to put in enough effort to learn.

But I like listening to other languages. One of the things I like best about living where I do is that the bus in the morning is the Tower of Babel. And skill with outer languages is something I admire most in other people.

Political Activism

Like languages, I wish I were more politically active, but my fundmental laziness gets in the way. I write the occasional snotty email to my MP and go on the occasional march, but I'm drifting towards a political agnosticism as I age. More and more I think that the particular form of representitive democracy we have in this country is neither representitive nor particularly democratic. And the people in charge of the rules of the game keep acting in their own interest, not ours. We have a political class who expect to be in that career from the age of 18 upwards and I think that's a very sad thing, especially for the country.

I'm not sure that the fundamental changes we need in this country are possible through the ballot box. At least, not in my lifetime.


I'm not a great fan of burlesque. (by which I mean stripping, which is what the common usage is nowadays.) It can be funny, it can be graceful, it can be beautiful. Sometimes, rarely, it's all that and more. But generally, it leaves me a bit cold. That's one of the reasons we do a variety show for the Circus, not just a burlesque.

Having said that, I like the razzamatazz that goes with burlesque. I like formal clothing, on both men and women, and I like it when people make an effort to dress up.  I like dressing up too; something I don't  do enough of at the moment. So, I'm glad I'm involved (even peripherally) in the Burlesque scene. It's a good reminder


I'm still enamoured of this city, 8 years on. 8 years? That's longer than I've lived anywhere since I was 18. I've got a large circle of friends here, and a good job. I love the city and still feel that I've barely scratched the surface of being here. There's so much more to see, so much more to do.

it doesn't feel like I've been here 8 years.
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Like Harry, I think my absolute favourite Shakespeare quote, and one of the few I know from memory, is Henry V's 'St. Crispin's Day' speech.

But I've always had a very soft spot for the most beautiful put down in the English language.

Cousin, of many men
I do not bear these crossings. Give me leave
To tell you once again, that at my birth
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes;
The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
These signs have mark'd me extraordinary;
And all the courses of my life do show
I am not in the roll of common men.
Where is he living,--clipp'd in with the sea
That chides the banks of England, Scotland, Wales,--
Which calls me pupil, or hath read to me?
And bring him out that is but woman's son
Can trace me in the tedious ways of art,
And hold me pace in deep experiments.

I think there is no man speaks better Welsh.--I'll to dinner.

Peace, cousin Percy; you will make him mad.

I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
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I rarely get tagged in LJ MeMes - I'm not sure why; perhaps it's a sign that I need to write more. Anyway, just as I was thinking "Here's another meme that I won't get tagged in", both [livejournal.com profile] boglin and [livejournal.com profile] hekai tag me. I think that means I get to change two questions ....

1. What is essential for your happiness?

Time to myself and the company of friends. Something to read. That's about it, though music makes the world sweeter.

2 What clothes are you wearing at the moment?

Hawkshead boots (green), greenish gray cargo pants, a very old band teeshirt from when I was a student in Manchester, a blue jumper. What was the rule about blue and green not being worn?

3. What games did you recently finish?

Mind the Gap. An Unknown Armies / Neverwhere / Guy Ritchie crossover. Subtitled 'Geezers, Shooters, Monsters' it ran for 4 sessions and was okay, but like most of my more experimental games, needs some serious work before I run it again.

4. What is your favourite scent?

Coffee. I have a very bad nasal memory (if that makes sense?) and not a great sense of smell either.

5. What is your favourite recent memory?

On the train up to Shropshire last weekend, with mist in the fields. The train tilted as it was going round a corner, and something weird happened to the landscape to the port side. There was this moment where it felt like the train was perfectly level, but the land was just dropping away from it. It was like looking over a cliff. A magical moment, and one I'm not doing any justice to with this description. I laughed out loud with joy on the train.

6. What books are you reading at the moment?

Eric Meyer's More CSS. Cobra Trap by Peter O'Donnell (The last ever Modesty Blaise book and one of the few I've not read before.)

7. What do you drink the most?

Almost certainly black coffee, but less than I used to.

8. Do you trust easily?

Yes. And I'm trying to do so even more. People repay trust with trust, in my experience.

9. Who was your first big crush?

Probably a girl called Nicola Maiden at school; she was very cool and very very pretty.

10. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A monk - specifically a Franciscan. Then a librarian. Which I am, sorta ....

11. Do you have a good body-image?

Mostly, though it's taken a long while. I could still do with putting on about half a stone, I reckon, and I really need to work on my grip and upper body strength for climbing, but they're not things I beat myself up about. Generally, I'm happy with how I look.

12. What are you looking forward to at the moment?

My first training course of the year on Tuesday. A set of lectures that myself and a colleague are giving over this term - we've not done anything like this before. A friend coming to stay at the end of October. Planet Angel in November because I get to party instead of work. Going to Ireland next year with my Dad.

13. What websites do you visit daily?

LJ, Facebook, Planet Angel, Boing, UCL's pages and a few others

14. Random pet peeve?

I'm doing better at not letting the small stuff bug me, but people who meander on the Underground, especially if they haven't got their ticket out and ready for the barrier as they approach it are still pretty good at getting through my shield of zen-like calm.

15. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

[livejournal.com profile] boglin was someone I knew of through photos of her at Whitby long before I got to know her in person. She's lovely. I respect that she holds certain beliefs very strongly, but doesn't exude that oily superiority that some people do when they're standing on the moral highground. She looks great in a pink stetson too.

[livejournal.com profile] hekai - I only really got to know Pete when writing for the final NWO game, and it's fair to say that we butted heads on a lot of points about that game. I'll hold my hand up and say that it wasn't one of my finest moments. But Pete is a warm and friendly person, very intelligent, and very passionate about things. And once the game was running, I realised that I really liked and respected him, once I'd taken the Quaesitor stick out of my arse. We shared a beer at the end, and realised that when we said to each other "we'll have to agree to differ" we actually meant it; it wasn't just shorthand for "I can't be bothered arguing with you any more".

16. What's the last song that got stuck in your head?

I tend not to get songs stuck in my head, because more often than not I have music playing in the background, so that fills that gap.

17. What's your favourite item of clothing?

Either my Jed Phoenix tailcoat or a big grey snuggly wooly jumper, depending on how I'm feeling.

18. What do you like to give and what do you like to receive?

I like training people, which is giving advice, I guess. I get a real buzz out of getting someone to understand something that they don't, but really want to. I like receiving cuddles and hugs. I have very easy to satisfy tastes.

19. What's the book you've read most times?

Lord of the Rings; specifically the Scouring of the Shire chapter. I re-read that chapter a lot, even if I don't read the rest of the book.

20. Is there anything you want so bad right now?

Nothing that I can't easily satisfy.

21. What should you be doing right now?

Having a shower. Going to see [livejournal.com profile] ingenue_the and [livejournal.com profile] harold_chasen. Phoning my mum.


22. Whats the meaning behind your LJ username/name/nicknames you go by?

It's my initials. I've never really felt the need for a more complex nom du clef.

So - who to tag? Surely everyone who's likely to respond already has? Maybe that's why no-one ever tags me ....

I know! I'll tag [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife, [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife, [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife, [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife, [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife,[livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife, [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife and [livejournal.com profile] liz_lowlife!
jfs: (Default)
So where's it from?

It's not the same list as the BBC Big Read from 2003, which was voted for by the public.

As best I can tell it's nothing to do with the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read project; that doesn't have a top 100 list, let alone an assertion about 'average adults'.

Does it matter?

I hate 'list' memes generally; unless someone goes through to actually explain why they would highly recommend a book, or wouldn't touch another one with a bargepole they really don't tell you anything about the person who is doing the answering. Frankly, they're about as elucidating as the "Which Purple Power Puff Pony Are You?" questionnaires.

They're a way of keeping score? Well - I can see that. If we knew the provenance of the list, we'd at least know who we're keeping score against, and in what company. But this, with its vague attribution that doesn't actually hold up to scrutiny?

Each other, perhaps?

So here's a new Meme.

Pick one book from that list, and argue for or against it. Why should everyone you know read it, or why should all extant copies of it be pulped?

That's likely to be a lot more interesting than bolding, italicising and underlining 100 lines of text, neh?
jfs: (Default)
Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] mister_ed

1.) Go to CareerCruising
2.) login nycareers password landmark
3.) Take the careermatch maker quiz and list the top 10 responses...

And my results?
1. Professor
2. ESL Teacher
3. Foreign Language Instructor
4. Lobbyist
5. Computer Trainer
6. Criminologist
7. Curator
8. Association Manager
9. Director
10. Public Policy Analyst

So what can we learn from this? Firstly that Career Cruising don't actually ask questions about having jobs involving foreign languages, because there's no way I'd want to (or be qualified to) work in that field.

But Professor / lecturer? Not bad. My actual job at no.5, and curator (which is a librarian specifying in realia, broadly speaking) at number 7 which both make sense.

But that leaves the really interesting ones.

Lobbyist? Public Policy Analyst? Criminologist?

The site allows you to click through and shows you why it suggested those roles to you.

It's rare that a meme actually offers food for thought.


Jul. 16th, 2007 09:06 pm
jfs: (Default)
First, the rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You WILL update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

(I reserve the right to stop after 10, depending on how busy I am at work over the next few days :))

So - [livejournal.com profile] lisekit asked the following:

1. Which piece of writing has inspired you most?

This is the most difficult question you've asked; mostly because there's so many pieces.

  • The midwinter morning when Will Stanton wakes up to a world covered in snow in The Dark is Rising - there's a sense of wonder and discovery there that I remember from the very first time I read it, nearly 30 years ago.
  • "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky. And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to sail her by" because Masefield's sense of rhythm and ability to paint a picture with words is so strong.
  • "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." - Henry V is such a complex piece about bravery, duty, patriotism ... so much else. There's a marvellously horrid part where Hal has to hang one of his old drinking buddies, Bardolph, because he broke the rules, and stole from a church. And Hal can't pardon Bardolph, because he's now responsible for the safety and well being of all his countrymen, and to keep them safe needs to keep them disciplined. Without that, I don't think he could have made the St. Crispian's Day speech.

I'll stop with three, and I won't mention Kipling (actually, I will - Kim made me want to run away to India and become a spy, and The Flag of England showed me how it was possible to be a patriot without being a bigot).

Good writing is very important to me - ask me in a week and I'll maybe have a different 5 pieces.

2. What qualities do you seek in a significant housepet?

I like affectionate, intelligent animals, which is why cats and dogs are my chosen pets. I don't have enough time to look after the sort of dog I like at the moment - we had a springer spaniel when I was a kid and he was great, but he needed 2 hours of walking a day just to take the edge of his energy, and I don't have that to spare. So for now we have a cat who is definitely intelligent, and mostly affectionate (even if he does seem to be going through his sulky teenager phase at the moment).

3. Where has been your favourite place in the world to visit?

New York, I think, because it was like walking into a film set. I do wonder if that's why so many Americans like visiting London - somewhere you've seen images of all your life and suddenly you're in the middle of it. I have clear memories of so many parts of New York - the walk from the bus depot to TImes Square on a Sunday night; the wooden art deco wall panels in the ground floor of the Chrysler Building, the star studded ceiling of Grand Central Station. I'd love to go back.

4. What's the funniest thing in the world that you're thinking of right now?

:-) I'm a sucker for slapstick.

5. What's so bad about nested tables anyways?

You know, for a while I couldn't understand this question, until I realised you must have looked at my (very out of date) website.

Nested tables are an ugly kludge to allow people to lay out websites; they produce ugly code and they're awful when it comes to making a website accessible. They also let designers imagine that they can do very precise layout of their websites, which misses the point of the web. Designers don't control the end product when it's a website like they do when it's a print-artifact. And they waste far too much time thinking that they do.

I need to get better at CSS so that I don't use nested tables any more. Luckily, I've promised to run a CSS course for work next term, so I'd better get better.


Apr. 30th, 2007 05:39 pm
jfs: (Default)
As handed over by [livejournal.com profile] immerwhar, a double handful of 'aitches.

History: the only H listed on my Interests in Livejournal. I've loved history ever since I was aware of it as a separate subject at school - I still have fond memories of Mr. Cope at BRJ, and his term long project on how towns grow, which started with an a5 map of a piece of coastland in Celtic times, and to which we added houses, fortifications and fields. Each week, on friday he'd update the map, taking into account Viking raiders, wars overseas and the changes that would happen to our town dependant on the choices we'd made. I think we covered about 1000 years in the twelve weeks.

Hobbits and holes, I guess - a love of fantasy literature spawned by two people - Nici Hawkins, who's dad was a teacher and who was happy to lend books to Nici's friends, and Mr. Barnicott, who was my last teacher in Infant's School, and who spent each friday afternoon reading to us. You can get through an awful lot of good stories in a year - it was Mr. Barnicott who first introduced me to John Christopher (who wrote the Tripods trilogy) and to Peter Dickinson, who was responsible for The Changes.

Hippies: some of my best friends are :-) Like pornography, Hippies are difficult to define but easy to spot - they tend to have a casual approach to fashion, a desire to live ethically, and some of the best and worst taste in music; often at the same time. I have at times been accused of being one, but my mung bean sandals don't fit any more and my crocheted tofu hat is lost.

The Housemartins, and the Beautiful South, and all other purveyors of poppy wonderment disguising lyrics that are designed to wound. Lily Allen is much the same. Singing with their own accents rather than some mid-Atlantic drawl, and wielding "adjectives of annihilation" over a song that sounds like a summer's day. One of my favourite genres of music, though I really don't know how I'd identify it.

The Hounds of Love - still my favourite Kate Bush album, despite some strong competition. Beautiful videos, and a concept album about drowning on the B-side. How can that be beaten? Kate's still top of my list when it comes to female vocalists, and this is her at her ethereal best.

Hair - hirsuteness rather than hippies. I used to have long hair. I no longer do - the inevitability of genetics drifting from pater to pate. I will say that at my age, my dad was far balder than I am, but it's a phyric victory, really.  When I change my passport in the next couple of months, I will no longer have to know the French for "That photo was taken a very long time ago, m'sieur."

Happy. I mostly am, these days; far much more so than I was in my twenties. Scanning back through LJ postings, I notice just how many times I've felt the need to mark that fact - "I'm having a good day", "The sun is shining" ... and pretty much always the memento mori - "this too shall pass". It's as if, 5 years on, I still can't actually believe that I'm likely to have more happy days in the future. Sometimes I just need a slap around the back of the head.

HTML and the web. For me, one of the best inventions and the greatest wastes of time invented in the last 40 years. The web sucks time into itself far more than television ever can, because of its interactive nature. I love it.

Horatio Hornblower - an anti-hero who fascinates me. He's resurfaced in the Seafort Saga SF series by David Fientuch (the titles of which all contain the word Hope), though he's now called Nicholas Seafort. A hero who doubts himself continually, who cannot believe that anyone sees him as heroic, or likeable, or attractive. Hornblower is a seething mass of insecurities writ large, and in a measure of schaudenfrede, whenever I feel insecure or un-confident, I can always look at Hornblower and say "well, at least I don't have it as bad as him ...". In writing this I looked at Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling Feintuch correctly, to find out that the author died in 2006.

And, finally, Horoscopes. I don't believe in them at all. Never have, never will. Which is why I find it funny that I've run my date / place and time of birth through a number of online horoscope generators and they all put 4 - 5 planets into the same house - Virgo. And, as most of you know, I am very much a Virgo. What I find amusing is the nature of faith and belief, I guess. I know lots of people whose horoscopes are just plain incorrect - even the broad strokes that they're usually written in don't apply. Mine do, and yet I still don't believe. Faith isn't a matter of choice, you see. You can't choose to believe in something. You either do, or you don't.

Usual offer - you want a letter, ask in the comments.
jfs: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] lisekit posted an interesting meme - take a letter, name 10 special things beginning with it. When challenged, she gave me a 'G' to play with. So here goes ...

1. Games - so much of my life is about games; board games, role-playing games - games teach us how to play, how to interact; they give us a safe place to try out new things. And they're fun. I express my creativity through games more than anything else.

2. Glowsticks - and dancing, clubbing and changing my life. Sounds strange, perhaps, but it's true - when I was 33 I turned it all around and glowsticks were one of the catalysts for change.

3. Gokkyu - one of the weirder Aikido techniques - it's a reverse Ikkyo, and it's very rarely used. I use it primarily to allow me to mention Aikido - a foundation of my adult life, and something I've just got back into after 12 years or so. It's hard work, but I'm still going. So that's worth while.

4. Nancy Griffith - I know, I know. But I love music that tells a story, and I love female vocalists. I don't like schmaltz, but then not all country music has to be schmaltzy. And Nancy Griffith sings with heart-rendingly simplicity about everyday things.

5. Randall Garrett - a relatively little known author - Garrett wrote a series of short stories and novels called the Lord Darcy stories - an alternate history series set in the 1950's where the Plantaganet kings never lost the throne, and the Angevin Empire has been alive for nigh on a thousand years. Darcy is a special agent for the King, part Raffles, part Sherlock Holmes, a little bit James Bond. They're great stories.

6. Gorecki - specifically his third symphony. I know some of my friends (Hey Nick!) don't like it, but for me, it is one of the two pieces of classical music that speak most deeply to me. (Mozart's Requiem, of course.) (And yes, I know about the link ...)

7. Google - I've been teaching people how to search the Internet since before the World Wide Web existed - Google changed (and continues to change) how I approached that. Google was a breath of fresh air when it first appeared; a clean easy-to-use interface that did the most important thing - it worked. One of my favourite web applications.

8. Greenwich - London is a series of small villages, glued together by proximity. Each has their own distinct character, though, and Greenwich is, for me, the perfect mix of a place; lots of little shops and pubs with character, but close enough to the centre of London that the city is open to you. Where I'd really like to end up in London (should we win the lottery.)

9. Greenwitch and the other four books of the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Books that defined and shaped my childhood. I've never thought that I'm easily swayed by celebrity, but when I got to meet Susan Cooper a little while back, I was the archetypical drooling fanboi.

10. The Guardian - I admit it; I'm a vaguely left wing liberal, and for a long time, the Guardian was my paper. Even now when I read the Independent far more frequently, it's the Guardian website that I turn to for my daily fix of what's going on in the world. Still a good paper, but I can see their fnords just a little bit too easily for me to enjoy reading it regularly. The Observer is the best Sunday paper though.

So there you go.

Usual offer applies - if you want your own letter, just ask.
jfs: (Default)

2001: A Space Odyssey
A Bout de Souffle
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
All About Eve

Apartment, The
Apocalypse Now
Black Narcissus
Boyz N the Hood
Breakfast Club, The
City of God
Come and See
Dawn of the Dead
Donnie Darko
Erin Brockovich
Fanny and Alexander
Fight Club
Heavenly Creatures
Ipcress File, The

King of Comedy, The

Ladykillers, The
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
Lost in Translation
Mulholland Drive
Night at the Opera
North by Northwest
Pink Flamingos
Player, The
Princess Mononoke
Pulp Fiction
Raising Arizona
Royal Tenenbaums, The
Searchers, The
Secrets and Lies
Sexy Beast
Shawshank Redemption, The
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
This Sporting Life
Three Colours Blue
Touch of Evil

23/50 - assuming three score years and ten, I'm a little behind schedule. I'm disappointed that of my top 5 movies, only one of them (The Shawshank Redemption) is in there - no Some Like It Hot? No Seven Samurai?

I'll be interested in reading the justification for these choices. Lists are always a funny thing - they're either a popularity contest (and popularity is only one measure of value) or they're an increasingly idiosyncratic and individual choice. 

Anyway - if I can be bothered to follow the imperative 'you must see before you die' - I now have some choices ahead of me.

I take it with the FilmFour tie in, I'll be given the chance to see many of these over the coming months. 
jfs: (Default)
I saw the birthday meme that everyone else was doing, so off I hied to Wikipedia to see what went on the date of my birth.

And one of the deaths stopped me in my tracks.

September '77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619

I shared a house with a guy called Chris in Manchester, who was a massive Peter Gabriel fan. So I saw video performances of the POV video more often than I care to remember. When Peter Gabriel was singing this song, the chanting and the feedback from the audience were breathtaking.

But I remember something else, even more. When it came to the song "Lay your hands on me" there would come a point when the crowd would be singing, and Peter Gabriel would turn his back on the crowd, spread his arms out wide, and fall back into them.

When I try to sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead

It wasn't just crowd surfing, Chris told me. He'd been in the front row three or four times. Peter Gabriel was giving himself up to the crowd, trusting them to catch him. That's why he turned around. He couldn't catch someone's eye. He couldn't check that there were people there ready to catch him. All he could do was hope. Hope that people were listening. Hope that people understood. Hope that people were willing to catch him.

You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

Once he fell, Peter Gabriel was in the arms of the crowd - as long as they were chanting, and as long as they were supporting him, he lay there. And when they were willing to return him to the stage, he went.

Why do this? It's overblown, it's corny, it's crass. It's all the things we can expect of a rock star playing to an audience. But Chris told me that every time Peter Gabriel started falling, he held his breath, because he was caught up in the moment of what was going on.

The above came to me in a rush of images, sounds and words, when I read the line in Wikipedia:

1977 - Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist (b. 1946)

"It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die."
jfs: (Default)
Ganked from a few people ....
1. iain m banks score: 15
2. omega lrp score: 13
3. maelstrom score: 12
4. call of cthulhu score: 12
5. freeforms score: 10
6. iain banks score: 9
7. gaiman score: 9
8. omega score: 9
9. cult tv score: 8
10. forteana score: 8
11. lorien trust score: 8
12. nicholas hawksmoor score: 7
13. the yellow sign score: 7
14. getting inside people's heads score: 7
15. the king in yellow score: 7
16. marmite score: 7
17. mervyn peake score: 7
18. live roleplaying score: 7
19. old maps score: 6
20. cheese dreams score: 6

Changed by [livejournal.com profile] ouwiyaru based on code by [livejournal.com profile] ixwin
Find out more

Lets see ....

3, 11 and 16 - are you mad?! Do you actually read my LJ or know me in real life? (Well, no, obviously - you're a list generated by some interesting algorithym, but still ...)
2 and 8 - that old thing? Don't any of you update your interests?
4, 13, and 15 - I know who I'm blaming for those ...
1 and 6  - and those.
7 - isn't everyone?
12 - I'm reading (slowly) Ackroyd's Hawksmoor - does that count?
19 - Yes.

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