Saturday, October 14, 2006

On the move

Ok, I am going to stop being indecisive and move to WordPress. I feel disloyal [to a blog! - Help, I really do have an over-developed sense of responsibility], but I can't have two blogs on the go at the same time, and WordPress won, despite some trouble with images, which I hope will sort itself out.

So, from now on I'll be posting under the guise of Bookmouse. Please come and visit me in my new home!

If you have a link to me, don't worry about changing it (unless you'd rather). Hopefully people can find their way from here to the new blog ok.

My latest post

Which concerns photos and dogs, can be viewed somewhere else. Sorry for flitting, I just happened to be there testing things out, so I thought I'd write something there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Recipe: Pink Curry

  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • 1 red pepper
  • Curry powder
  • Chili and garlic sauce
  • Garlic (fresh or sauce)
  • Sliced courgette
  • 1 small carton of coconut milk
  • 75g of rice per person
  • Cooking oil


  1. Measure out rice and put in saucepan
  2. Boil enough water in a kettle to cover the rice. When boiled add to the rice in the saucepan.
  3. Set the rice on the hob at the lowest heat and leave to cook. Keep checking it so that it doesn't stick to the pan - make sure there is plenty of water in the pan.
  4. Heat oil in pan. Chop chicken into pieces and fry in oil.
  5. Slice and add courgettes and pepper. Fry with chicken in pan.
  6. Add curry powder to taste and stir in to chicken mix.
  7. Add garlic sauce and chili sauce to taste. Stir, and simmer for a few minutes.
  8. Add the carton of coconut milk and leave to cook on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  9. Check rice to see if it is cooked.
  10. When chicken and rice are ready, drain rice and serve with the curry.
  11. Eat!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Meanwhile, in other electronic and unimportant lands

Meanwhile, in TV-land, Ruth has left Spooks. I was quite disappointed by this, in a not very important, it's only TV kind of way. She was my favourite spook, for several reasons - she's wasn't blond, she wasn't pretty (although she was beautiful), and she was a bit crazy. Harry made a good choice.

Meanwhile, in blog-land, I'm thinking of moving to WordPress. Many blogging acquaintances use this, so I thought I would investigate. I've set up a little test blog there and it seems more user-friendly than Blogger. Stuff that's only in beta here is standard there, plus it has stuff that isn't even in beta Blogger. Oops I hope Blogger don't wipe my blog now I've said bad things about it. I do still like you! Anyway, I'm staying here for now, as I can't transfer stuff from here to there until the beta becomes alpha, or whatever the techie term is. I guess I could just start a continuation blog...I might do that, but I don't like change. It's a bit like getting my hair cut. I like the thought of it, but I never quite get around to doing it, and I might just be going through a phase. I'll try it (WordPress, not hair cutting) out a bit more first and see...

Taking criticism

Taking inspiration from the Singing Librarian's post on taking a compliment, I have decided to write one about taking criticism. Like him I am also not particularly adept at taking compliments, but my ineptitude in this area pales into insignificance when compared to my complete inability to take criticism well.

I have several stock reactions to criticism:
  1. Blame someone or something other than myself
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Self-pity (usually a bit later, when the critic has gone)
  4. Over-reaction (I did this wrong, therefore I must do everything wrong)
  5. More over-reaction (why is it always me who gets it wrong)
  6. Comparison of self to others (why are they always right/perfect etc)

It's not a particularly life-enhancing list, is it?

An additional problem is that often, the person I see as being critical and thinking badly of me probably isn't doing so at all. In reality they were probably just giving me some advice, or reminding me of something. Even if they are telling me I've done something wrong, nine times out of ten they'll be nice about it, but I can still react badly.

Like the Singing Librarian and his reaction to compliments, my reaction to critcism can worsen the situation, especially if I am defensive and snappy towards the person who I see as criticising me. Then I will feel even worse, because I've added a nice little emotion called guilt into the equation, as well as potentially being offensive/hurtful towards another person.

So, what is my problem? Most people don't like being criticised, but some deal with it better than others. Some people can think, 'oh, ok, so I did that wrong, but that's ok, now I'll try to rectify the situation and it's good that I know what I did wrong, I am happy and at peace with the world and myself' (or something like that). I have been pondering (for a few years) on why I don't like criticism and can never seem to react very positively to it. The reason is quite similar to the reason I find it difficult to take compliments, and is the root of many of my social problems - the dreaded low self esteem/insecurity/lack of confidence thing.

Or maybe I'm just grumpy.

Blogging for history

I thought you (anyone who's reading this) might be interested in the 1 Day in History day on October 17th. The History Matters campaign want as many people as possible to record their experiences of the day, which was chosen as it's not a 'special' day, for a mass blog to be archived at the British Library. You can read the Daily Telegraph article about it if you like, or visit the History Matters website for more information.


I'm feeling a bit braver today, so I've enabled comments again.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A very bad poem about stock management, with apologies to real poets

Oh books, in cardboard boxes,
What hopes must you have had?
What dreams may you have dreamed
That now will never come to pass?

Of influencing minds of men
And changing history
Of scholarship and pleasure
That never now shall be

Your lonely lives have run their course
And no more will you live
No one will learn the secret things
That you were born to give

But, yet, yet, hope may shine for you
In the gloom of library land
For if you catch librarians’ eyes
You may yet withstand

The onslaught that is policy
Stock management for you and me
And books, which in their hundreds lay
Untouched on shelves until today,

Are now to be destroyed, alas
Are now to be destroyed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The other side of The X-Factor

This might be a post, that, like the one about Elizabethtown, had more of a point when it was in my head that when it made it to the computer. Anyway...

I watched The X-Factor last night. It was round two, I believe, known as "Boot Camp" and people were getting thrown out quite regularly until each group was down to the final eight acts. This purging of contestants made me think a bit more about those who didn't make it to the next round. Unlike most of the contestants on "Maria", the people who enter The X-Factor competition aren't middle class graduates. A lot of the contestants, particularly those in the 25 (years old) and over category seemed to be people who had already had a hard time in life and wanted to win The X-Factor to make a better lives for themselves and their families.

One contestant particularly stood out for me. She wasn't the best singer, but it was what she said rather than how she sang that really made me think. She said that if she didn't get through [to the next round] she would become "just another statistic". She was in the competition with the aim of providing a better life for her children. She talked about the house they always looked at and dreamt about buying one day. Unfortunately, she didn't get through. It made me sad to think that she only saw herself as a statistic, and didn't seem to recognise her worth as a person, and an intelligent and articulate person at that. I hope that she can find some other way out of her situation, and that she will one day have a better life for herself and her children.

Other people in the 25 and over category included a Scottish lady who saw The X-Factor as her last chance to get out of the factory job she has been working in for about 20 years. She was quite emotional because she said that she didn't feel that she deserved to have got so far thought the competition. Happily, she got through to the final eight, and her reaction was great! I hope she has the confidence in herself to perform well enough to go on through the next rounds.

I do realise that the footage is edited, and that the producers can make people appear any way they want them to, if they want to draw people into watching the show. Even so, it made me think a bit more deeply than I expected to, which can only be a good thing, in my opinion (even if on 'paper' my thoughts haven't come out quite as clearly as I would have liked).


The story is quite simple: guy who thinks he's made a mess of his life finds some hope and love and learns to love life and realise what's important.

It didn't do very well when it was released and may not even have reached your local cinema. Many people said it wasn't very good, but I really like it. I can see why people might not have embraced it wholeheartedly - it's quite slow and a bit cheesey at times, and Kirsten Dunst can be a bit annoying. You might not like it if you are of a particularly cynical disposition. Having said that, I have been accused of cynicism many times, and it may be one of my favourite films. For me it achieves what I think is it's goal - it's a life affirming film that leaves you feeling better at the end of the film than you did when you sat down to watch it. Great soundtrack as well.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you watch the film after reading this post and hate it!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The students return

A colleague said to me yesterday, "You've been looking more and more stressed all week", which wasn't very reassuring, but didn't really surprise me. Nothing particuarly stressful happened this week, I think it was just a lot busier than previous weeks. It was one of those weeks where I had a list of things to do, and did some of them, but the last few things never got done because either something beyond my control stopped me from completing the task or something (or many things) cropped up and I never got round to finishing the thing I started doing. [Whoops that was a bit of a long sentence!] I realise this doesn't say much for my time management skills, which are something I should work on.

We were without a printer in our office for half the week, due to me thinking we had a spare cartridge ready and waiting, but this turned out to be an old cartridge wrapped up in a box. Oops. Totally my fault and very annoying, because we then had to walk halfway round the library (well, nearly) to collect our printing. Still, at least we could print to somewhere.

I had some appraiser training yesterday, which was helpful, but domintated by an academic member of staff who kept bringing round the discussion to suit his agenda. On the one hand, this was an interesting insight into the working practices and attitudes of academics, but on the other it was a waste of time when we were already trying to fit in six hours of training into a two hour session, and I was really anxious to learn what to do, as I've never appraised anyone before.

I have my own appraisal sometime next week (?), with our line manager who doesn't like doing appraisals and apparantly doesn't follow the proper procedure - despite being quite pedantic about following proper procedure to the point of annoyance at most other times. So, I'm not sure how much use my appraisal will be, but I'll fill the forms in and take them to him anyway, whether or not he wants to use them.

On a more enjoyable note, the office was alive with the sound of music this week - even more so than usual, I thought. We also had some ad hoc 'entertainment' from the garden outside, when a few students were gathered for an impromptu guitar/singing session. This varied in terms of levels of annoyance depending on what type of music was being played. I was quite irritated at first, but then mellowed when he changed from rock to folk and stopped yelling so much. My librarian tendencies were urging me to go outside and tell him to shut up, but I resisted.

Writing of unwelcome musical accompaniment (the student, not my colleagues), the most maddening thing about travelling on the train at the moment (even more so than the overcrowding, which is increasingly bad and getting to dangerous levels) is people who play their mp3 players/mobile phone out loud, so that we are all subjected to their taste in (mostly awful) 'music'. I don't know how can people be so inconsiderate. I have asked some lads to turn their music off before, and they asked, "Why?". Maybe that says it all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I do feel like dancing (maybe): What's playing today at Lilian's house

I'm totally addicted to the Scissor Sisters' single "I don't feel like dancing". It's the catchiest thing I've heard in a long time and I've been playing it on repeat all afternoon, much to Mr C's annoyance, I suspect. One of my favourite things about it is that it has the words "old Joanna" (as in piano, I assume) in it. That doesn't happen very often in a pop song. It also has little laser beam shooty synthesiser sounds in it, which are quite endearing. If someone played it at a party I might even consider getting up and dancing, which, if you know me, should indicate to you how catchy and dance-making it is. Anyway, you've probably heard it for yourselves, so I'll stop wittering on. [I know the picture isn't of the right album, but I like this artwork better].

Alas, my music player has gone kaputt, and is going to be replaced, so I have been music-less on the train for the past few days. I have no idea what happened to it, but it just suddenly stopped working for no reason that I could fathom, and none of the suggested trouble shooting methods worked. Actually it's so kaputt that it wouldn't even restore the settings. I suspect it is built in obsolesence, which is rather annoying, because I've had it less than a year. At least they are going to replace it, but the point is that it shouldn't need to be replaced yet! Never mind.

Also playing chez Lilian this afternoon is Seth Lakeman, who, in total contrast to the Scissor Sisters, is a folk man from Devon. I don't know much about him, apart from the fact that he was in the same class as at school as someone I know, and he sings folk/folk rock/acoustic rock (is this an oxymoron?) songs. I like folk, and he seems like a decent sort of chap, so I bought his album. I'm quite glad I did, as it's an enjoyable delve into English folk music. It's not too 'folky' though, so it would be a good introduction to folk music for someone who isn't sure whether folk is quite their thing.

I always find folk music strangely comforting. I think it's because of the traditional nature of the songs and the fact that some of them have been sung for hundreds of years without much change. I'm quite glad about the folk music revival of recent years, because I think it's really important that we in the UK don't lose touch with our musical roots. English people in particular have a hard time finding something firm to cling on to traditions/language/music/roots-wise (in my opinion, maybe I'm wrong), but there is a whole load of traditional music out there for the listening. I know it's not to everyone's taste, but it is interesting, and I think it's important that people realise what a rich heritage we have, music wise.

Here endeth the lesson.

Next up we have hits from Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, which are from Swing! The Ultimate Big Band Album, which is one of those compilations where you get about 40 tracks for £5.00. Big band music is the reason I learnt to play the bass guitar. In reality, I never made it to playing in a big band, but I did manage a concert orchestra, where we did occasionally play big band numbers (as well as endless film soundtrack music), so all was not lost, and it made me seem less geeky. Ok, maybe I just hoped it did. Anyway, I had some fun times with my bass, (as well as some not so fun ones involving lugging a large bass amplifier up and down stairs)despite possibly being the world's worst bass player. Anyway, Tommy Dorsey was a trombone player and band leader, and did a lot of collaborations with Frank Sinatra, that's about all I know about him, apart from the fact that he had a brother called Jimmy, who was also a band leader. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra still exists to this day, but is now conducted by Buddy Morrow.

I'm not quite sure what the point of this post was, but it took me rather a long time to write, for some reason, so I'll keep it for your reading pleasure.