Something just clicked

Blogger can e-mail-to-blog automatically, can’t it?

So, what happens if I subscribe an e-mail-to-blog address to my pre-existing yahoogroup — I get an automatic website based on the contents of the yahoogroup. Since it’s configured so that only I can post, it should be reasonably secure. The only slight concern is the format of the post — adverts top and tail the messages, and something a bit screwy is happening with linefeeds.

But hey, it’s better than nowt.

And is now available here: www.niles.org.uk/jokes

Oh, and you’ll have seen the blogrolling thingy on the sidebar — now I can put links on my blog simply by clicking a toolbar. Cor. Wow.

A week passes

So, I’ve seen a few more films: we saw The Grudge at the flicks onWednesday: a few well signposted adrenaline rushes, the kind of nasty jump you know is coming but that makes you jump any how. It was our third choice film but everything else was sold out.

Last night was Predator, courtesy of LoveFilm. Didn’t know quite what to make of it — have always assumed it was in hardcore SF, but it seems to better fit generically speaking with army-buddy, Nam movies.

This weekend Paul’s in Cardiff visiting friends. Diary mix-ups meant I agreed to go leafleting this weekend and missed out on the trip to Wales — but did manage to be still in Nottingham when old uni friends came up for a visit. Which was nice. Paul phoned from outside the Cardiff Millennium Centre to let me hear massed voices singing Guide Me O, thou Great Redeemer. Not sure what the good people of Clover Green thought to hear their Lib Dem councillor singing a bass line into his phone whilst delivering leaflets.

I took delivery of a new computer and printer during the week; accessories should arrive on Monday. There is now a network of three computers on my desk — this has got to stop. The new computer has a problem with its network card and won’t connect at 100 speed, according to the blinky lights on my crappy router. The denizens of Cix, Out and the Acer call centre have pronounced: problem with onboard LAN. Acer want me to ship the machine back for repair, which might take 10 days. I think it might be easier to spend a couple of quid in Maplin for a new PCI NIC…

I signed up for SmartStamp despite my scathing review of it, and have been happily printing my own stamps for a few days. Paying for the privelege, of course.

This week I learned about Jainism from two sources: our new MP Parmjit Singh Gill mentioned in his maiden speech that Leicester has the only European Jain temple. Meanwhile in a conversation about dhals in cix:\gourmet, discussion on how some people didn’t like onion brought up the strict dietary habits of Jainism: eat no living thing. Including onions. Some Jains sweep the ground before them so they don’t accidentally tread on insects, and wear veils to stop flies going into their mouths. They are experts at cooking lentils.

Tony Banks has been rude about his constituents, according to a an interview on the BBC website
. Their complaints are “tedious in the extreme,” he says. Dealing with the correspondence that elected representatives get is a big job. I have a small amount of experience on MEP and MP casework, and of course I get some myself as a councillor. The council queries are of course entirely up to me; but I’m glad I’ve never been the key person responsible for fielding mountains of queries for representatives at higher levels. It has however been fascinating participating in the process. It does strike me as churlish to stand for election, and then complain about the mailbag that goes with holding public office. Answering letters and helping with people’s problems is a big part of the job.

Unanimity II

I posted a month ago that I’d sat through a full council meeting where we spent the day agreeing with other. I said then how unusual that was — but today, it happened all over again. All four parties agreed on every substantial bit of business at today’s full council.

They weren’t topics about to take lightly: some basic business in setting up consultation on renewing the city’s public drinking by-laws; reviewing the accounts following a discrepancy highlighted by the district auditor; changing our committee nominations because one of our councillors has taken on a directorship of the Arms Length Management Organisation looking after council housing in Nottingham. (Actually, I’ve done that too.)

And finally, a really weighty debate about the problems of gun crime in the city, rising directly from the murder of Danielle Beccan a few weeks ago.

All this taking place whilst campaigners for Fathers 4 Justice (a group a colleague in Wales has started calling Fathers 4 Misogeny) were staging a sit in on the roof of the Council House, having climbed up there on ladders at 3am the night before.

Busy day!

Roasted Tomato Soup

Since Paul’s tooth surgery he has to eat mashed up smooth stuff. So I asked the wise people of cix:/gourmet for some suggestions, and Helen posted this fabulous Roasted Tomato Soup recipe.

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

Ingredients
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
1kg plum tomatoes, halved
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 fat cloves garlic, halved
2 small sprigs each fresh thyme and basil
1 tsp caster sugar
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock or water
2 semi-soft sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp barbecue sauce

To serve:
Small clusters cherry tomatoes on the vine
Some small leaves fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat the oven to 220C, Gas 7. Pour the oil into a roasting pan and heat until almost smoking. Carefully tip in the tomatoes, onion rings and garlic, then mix into the oil. Top with the herbs and sprinkle with sugar and seasoning.

2. Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice during roasting, until nicely caramelised.

3. Remove and scoop into a saucepan. Bring the stock to a rolling boil and pour into the pot. Return to a boil, add the semi-soft dried tomatoes with the barbecue sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Strain the vegetables, reserving the stock, and blitz the solids until smooth, gradually adding the stock back in. For an extra smooth texture, rub the mixture through the back of a sieve with a ladle. Check the seasoning. Cool and chill.

5. For the garnish, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Snip the tomatoes on the vine into clusters of three or four and fry them, still on the vine, for about a minute.

6. Reheat the soup to serve and pour into warmed cups or small bowls. Top each with a cluster of pan-fried cherry tomatoes and any pan juices drizzled over. Scatter with the basil leaves.

5am again

Body clock, aargh.

I’m looking for web dev programs right now. Anyone got any bright ideas? Nvu looks like it might hit the spot…

Some pointless facts to wile away the time. We haven’t had bullet points here for a few weeks.

  • I’ve redone the network in my office so that all the main machines use the same 100 speed switch. Much quicker for moving huge files around.
  • I’ve finished watching Alias series 3. I liked it, but it’s not what you might call intellectually stimulating.
  • Paul came back from the dentist exhausted. On a selfish note, I am so glad that my teeth were sorted with a brace when I was a child, and my wisdom teeth don’t need attention.
  • I’ve joined an online DVD rental scheme, lovefilm.com, courtesy of friends. Watched The Day After Tomorrow. Schmaltzy crap.
  • If you want in on the DVD rental thingy, drop me a line–both of us can get a free month that way.
  • I’ve been playing with the Royal Mail‘s SmartStamp trial software, and am coming to a similar conclusion I did last time I looked at it a few years ago. Basically, “They want a fiver a month for that pile’o’crap?!?” Yes, being able to print your own stamps has its advantages, yes, being able to use a variety of different franking logos would be fab, BUT the software is not good, and seems to rely on you paying a sub to use it, AND using expensive, strangely shaped Avery labels, or a limited range of envelope sizes. It wouldn’t be so much work to include basic Avery sizes, or custom shaped envelopes, now, would it?

Stuttering

Something strange is happening to me: I can’t speak in public any more. I used to be OK at it, was on the school debating team ten years ago, but now I can’t get the words out or express what I mean unless I’m really comfortable with the people I’m with or I have a text written out in full.

Twice in committees over the last week I’ve bumbled through my list of points, faltering, stumbling over the words, badly making my point, and ending up redfaced and sweating whilst the officers and councillors I was addressing nodded politely and pretended to have understood what I was driving at.

In a group meeting earlier in the week, it wasn’t a case of failing to talk in sentences, it was actual, bona fide stuttering. Couldn’t get a word out. Very frustrating. Talking is not difficult in group, because there are not many of us and we know each other well. So I don’t understand why something that came so naturally not so very long ago is now causing me trouble.

Sleeping times have been particularly strange this week: Monday, I forgot to set my radio to come on the night before and then slept through the alarm I did set. What with it being a dark day, and in any case little sun gets to the back of our house where we sleep. I didn’t come to til 3pm, and then, of course, it was a race to get things done in time for a meeting at 7.30pm. Paul has been away much of this week, staying at home with his parents whilst he has hospital appointments to fix his teeth, poor lamb. When he’s here, I try(largely unsuccessfully) to keep normal hours, because otherwise it’s not fair on him. The days he’s not, I’ve still been at my computers at 5am. Watching Alias on one, working on another. I’m fortunate that much of my job can be done in the wee small hours.

As you’d expect, every gay mailing list and group I’m in has mentioned the passage of the Civil Partnership bill; I was reading last night that la reyne le veuylt — it’s now the Civil Partnerships Act 2004. Gay rights is what got me into politics eight years ago, by writing to my MP at Stonewall’s suggestion. A bit later on, I joined the Lib Dems after reading DELGA’s page, then maintained by St MYM, after I felt they agreed with me on gay issues, and reading around a bit, and discovering they agreed with me on issues like Europe and funding higher education. I was a member who didn’t do anything until I saw a poster advertising for volunteers in Nick Clegg‘s office, which I signed up to and helped out, until eventually I was offered a job there. Working exposed me to councillors, who said they were short of candidates, would I let my name go forward? And in 2003, I got elected to Nottingham City Council. It’s a convoluted leap from lobbying my MP on the age of consent to devoting 90% of my waking life to various bodies of the Lib Dems, but hey, it passes the time.

I’m wondering now who amongst the people I know will get CPed first? Is it going to be a year of fabulous parties? Having spent the last few years barely going a month without another wedding, are we set for a really expensive year…?

West Wing

Well. I’ve just sat here and watched the two most recent episodes of the West Wing back to back. Most recent in America, that is. Very few people in the UK seem to be watching series six and it’s killing me not having anyone to talk to about it. The events that have just unfolded are storming, the most interesting things I’ve seen on WW in years — and Channel 4 is still on series 4! Argh! I shall mosey on shortly to see what TelevisionWithoutPity thinks of the most recent ones, but they were unjustifiably a little sniffy about the first two, for reasons that I have to be vague about here in case my avid readers construe my pearldrops as spoilers. TWP hits the spot more consistently with Alias, I think.

It’s perhaps not healthy being quite so involved with the senior staffers in Bartlett’s Whitehouse. I spent the first part of today in Long Eaton at a real political meeting; it would be nice if the Regional Exec fired me up as much as the West Wing does. Amongst other things, I was given the planned running schedule of some training I’ll be helping to deliver in the New Year. It’s good to get a chance to put into practice some of what I learned in London last weekend.

What I learned involved some very brief looks at NLP (but didn’t find out what kind (V/A/K) of communicator I am) and some Honey/Mumford Learning Styles work (apparently I’m a ‘top-tips’ kinda gal, a pragmatist). It was an exhausting two day course, with less than ideal chairs which meant come the end of it I was acheing to get out. Literally. Maybe my introvert side was showing through also, having to spend an entire weekend in close proximity to people with no time at all to myself, not even the evenings, since I was cadging a bed from my brother and spent the evenings catching up as best we could before he flew to Stornaway in the early hours of Sunday morning. Introvert, one part of Myers-Briggs INTP, which apparently is me. Google it yourself!

But there were some real high points to the course, and it was certainly useful. I’m strating to have flashbacks to the six months I spent delivering other people’s IT courses and wondering what I put my former students through.

A little technology update: I think I mentioned the new phone, a shiny Nokia 6230, now updated with Shell Island wallpaper and thanks to the kindness of eBay, a swanky bluetooth headset. I was discussing artwork with a PPC whilst chopping garlic last night. Seamless. Although of course reaching to click the button meant I got root vegetables in my hair–something that would not have been a problem only six months ago, but now, with my flowing golden locks, something I should take more notice of. The kind vendors of eBay have also furnished me with some killer Christmas presents, of which more later. ie after Christmas.

I’ve just downloaded a new killer ap — a POP3 client for my system tray, to bolt onto my increasingly complicated mail arrangements. It now sits there, on my permanently connected desktop, flashing in hideous colours to remind me when I should check hit ctrl-U in AMEOL and ctrl-E in Agent on my laptop. Lordy me. Right now, there are 169 mails waiting in three accounts. I’m not even going to mention the 13,000 unread messages in rec.travel.europe that I’m probably never going to read. And now is certainly not the time to do anything about the 120,174 unread messages in 93 conferences on Cix. Oh dear.

And one day, I’m going to get this office tidy enough for me to hoover it.

Book meme

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 23.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal…
…along with these instructions.

Were Warwickshire’s funerary suppliers capable of a bilingual pun? wondered Pascoe.

Saw the idea in Etrigan’s journal.

London for the weekend

Well, yesterday’s election not so good for us as we lost a held seat to the Conservatives by a fairly hefty margin. Ho, hum.

I’m down in London for a night or two at a Lib Dem training event all day both weekend days, and staying at my brother’s well-appointed digs near Aldgate. Rather nice flat, costing him not more than his last hall of residence did.

Tomorrow is Training 4 Trainers. Oh, joy unbounded.