by Catriona Mills

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

Posted 3065 days ago in by Catriona

I know. I know. And I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.

Well, myself and a combination of the following:

  • my parents visiting this week, which necessitates scrubbing out the spare room: it hasn’t been slept in since they visited last December for my graduation, and the dust levels were fairly bad—as you’d expect from a largely unoccupied room containing some thousand-odd books. It also contained the entire contents of the office that I had to give up last semester, so cleaning it wasn’t just cleaning it, but also involved finding space for eight years’ worth of office clutter. But I succeeded! Mostly. I still need to dust and vacuum.
  • a hideous cold, which I suspect I caught from either the wizard or the other ranger at last weekend’s Dungeons and Dragons session—I don’t know which, so shall mutter mild imprecations directed at both of them until I feel better. [Slight update: the wizard blames the halfling, but I have my suspicions about the veracity of that.] In the between-mutter spaces, I shall panic about how I’m going to lecture tomorrow, and what the chances of infecting my students are.
  • technically, the weekend’s Dungeons and Dragons session was another interruption to ordinary blogging activity, but it was such excellent fun that it doesn’t count.
  • interrupted sleep patterns. I think I know, largely, what’s causing them, but last night’s bad night (I didn’t get to sleep until well after three a.m.) was down to this hideous cold’s first symptom, a sore throat beyond any that I have previously experienced. After spending hours trying to beat it into submission with hot tea and my other favourite sore throat remedy (hot water and honey with a tablespoon or two of vinegar), I eventually had to take Panadol—Panadol! for a sore throat!—so I could snatch some sleep.

So now I’m snuffling, feeling sorry for myself, and drinking enormous quantities of tea, but the tidying of the spare room has at least turned up some odd stuff on the shelves.

I see a real post in the future . . .

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Eleven

Posted 3068 days ago in by Catriona

ME: Friend was complaining (Note: playfully complaining, I hope) that I hadn’t updated the blog today.
NICK: Fair enough.
ME: I updated four times yesterday!
NICK: Well, you have an audience now. That makes a difference.
ME: Oh, god. You mean I have to update more often?
NICK: Treena . . .
ME: ‘Cause it’s a personal blog, and I thought . . .
NICK: Treena, put the bunny down.
(Pause)
ME: Pardon?
NICK: Had a bit of a Con Air moment there.
ME: I wouldn’t hurt a bunny.
NICK: No.
ME: Do you think of me as John Malkovich?
NICK: Yes.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Ten

Posted 3068 days ago in by Catriona

ME: Why are you so wet?
NICK: Because it’s hot.
ME: No, but your hair. Why is your hair so wet?
NICK: Oh, that. Because I had a shave.
(Pause)
ME: Honey?
NICK (distracted by moving objects on the screen): Yep?
ME: Your beard’s on the front, you know.
NICK: Yep.
(Pause)
NICK: What?

Light And Shade In The Garden: Part One

Posted 3070 days ago in by Catriona

Light And Shade In The Garden: Part Two

Posted 3070 days ago in by Catriona

My Day On Twitter; Or, How I Blatantly Recycle My Own Material

Posted 3070 days ago in by Catriona

I’m very new to Twitter: I’ve not been using it for much more than a week. And, like many people, I was driven to it by Facebook.

Not by the new Twitterised Facebook design that so many Facebook users are denigrating, but by the fact that I really enjoy writing my Facebook status update. I started worrying that I was changing my status too often, and that this wasn’t giving people a chance to comment—and the ability to comment on status updates is one of the better changes Facebook has made in the time I’ve been using it.

Twitter seemed like a useful alternative: I could minimise my rewriting of my status update and yet still indulge my desire to frequently describe what I was doing in 140 characters or fewer.

That’s what delights me about both Facebook status updates and Twitter: that severe restriction of the word limit. I’ve worked with restricted word limits before—almost everything I write has some kind of word limit. But never, ever as restricted as this.

And I love the challenge. I love the way it forces me to sharpen my syntax, to think of synonyms that are equally effective but shorter, to make my point clear while removing all the pronouns from a sentence.

Oh, I’ve seen the arguments against Twitter, but that challenge is why I’m enjoying it—like my live-blogging over the last year, it’s a form of writing like no other I’ve ever done. With live-blogging, I have to be able to write quickly but succinctly, to be accurate and descriptive but also to provide commentary, to be able to keep the shape of the plot in place, to decide immediately what can be omitted without losing the reader. With Twitter, I’m forced to think constantly about the shape of what I’m writing, to compress it to a smaller, neater form.

But what’s an argument without examples? Since I’ve been writing on Twitter more often today than usual, here are today’s tweets in chronological order, earliest first:

Wondering what the “remember me” button on Twitter log-in page does? (Except for reminding me of Futurama episode.) It’s not remembering me.

Forced by presence of giant moth in garage to climb into car through passenger side. Hand brake really inconveniently placed, in my opinion.

Then nearly hit garage door on way out, because was for some reason obsessively checking whether moth moved, even though was secure in car.

Couldn’t get parked at uni, and had to drive home frantically and try to catch a bus that would get me in for my AFS hours. Success!

But had to leave car in driveway because of running late. If anyone drives though fence, may implode like Jagoroth ship in “City of Death.”

Then sat on bus behind teenage boy who had exactly the same haircut as I do—only it may have looked better on him. Strange day.

No students have come to see me. Such odd work, this: hours of frantic marking activity followed by stretches of silence and self-doubt.

But at least I’m not pursuing either a real or metaphorical Minotaur through stretches of labyrinthine programming code beyond my ken.

Nearly sideswiped by red Mazda with “That’s so sexual!” decal. Feel presence of such a decal cannot but cheapen my tragic, untimely death.

None of this is great literature, of course. No immortal thoughts. No “Eureka!” moments. Just anecdotes about my day in 140 characters or fewer, each one a tiny, unique writing challenge.

Because Blogs Can Be Forces For Good

Posted 3070 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but a comment on an earlier post reminded me.

A number of people keep coming across this site while Googling for answers to puzzles in Professor Layton and the Curious Village—most often, but not exclusively, the solution to the puzzle about moving two matchsticks to make a live dog into a dead dog, and the solution to the puzzle about dividing seven pigs into their own pens with only three ropes.

They must be very disappointed, these frustrated people, to find only my complaining posts about how the game is doing my head in.

So, since blogs can be forces for good on the Internet, here is a link to the Professor Layton and the Curious Village walkthrough that I used when I was insanely frustrated by a puzzle.

It’s from Wiki Cheats, and I found it excellent.

So if you’re Googling “separate the seven prize pigs with three ropes,” or “matchstick dog hit by car,” or “move matchsticks to make dog look the other way” hopefully you’ll end up on this page.

I didn’t use it for every puzzle, but I think I certainly used it for the dead dog one. And for almost every problem involving probability.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Nine

Posted 3071 days ago in by Catriona

A direct sequel:

ME: Oh, you have nothing to complain about. I blog about how mean I am to you all the time!
NICK: Really?
ME: Yes! In fact, I just blogged about how mean I was to you!
NICK: Did you? I shall go read it. No, I won’t—we’re spending time together. I shall read it on my iPhone.
ME: No!
NICK: What?
ME: That is actually worse.
NICK: I don’t get you.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Eight

Posted 3071 days ago in by Catriona

You see, I just don’t have much sympathy left after a seriously horrible day like today, especially when I’ve carved out some time for just relaxing . . .

NICK (bangs his knee on the desk while getting up to spend time with me): Oh, god—ow! Nick have hurty pain death!
ME: Well, it wasn’t really death, was it?
NICK: Well, no. Not really.
ME: And the pain was a bit deserved . . .
NICK: What?
ME: For cutting into my time.
NICK: What?!
ME: My leisure time.
NICK: Oh. Well, fair enough.

He’s far too nice for me, sometimes—bless him.

(And no comments along the lines of “Well, yes,” thank you!)

Ada Lovelace Day

Posted 3072 days ago in by Catriona

I’m only aware that it is Ada Lovelace Day thanks to The Memes of Production, but there’s not much I can contribute to a discussion of women in technology.

Women in literature, sure. But technology and I don’t talk much these days, not since I bought my Mac and stopped going to technology singles bars to chat to—really tortured metaphors.

Sorry about that.

I do know a little about Ada Lovelace, though—only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron. And that’s how I know her, really: I know a little of her contribution to mathematics and science, but I mainly know her in the shadow of the famous father whom she herself didn’t know.

And that doesn’t seem entirely fair.

This has never been a link blog but here are some links about the woman herself for Ada Lovelace Day:

  • her Wikipedia page, if only because I admire a woman who can programme computers and look gorgeous in silver satin.
  • and, for further reading (if you have access to a scholarly databases, anyway), why not throw Ada’s mother Annabella Milbanke into the mix, in Judith S. Lewis’s examination of mathematics and gender in the nineteenth-century British aristocracy.

Happy Day, Ada. I’m sorry I don’t know more about you and I haven’t followed in your footsteps, but, if it helps, I always thought your dad was a bit of a prat.

Very Brief Strange Conversation

Posted 3073 days ago in by Catriona

A strange conversation that is more a strange monologue:

At half-past four this afternoon, Nick sent me the following message via instant messaging:

Just realised i had a clothes peg still stuck to my shorts

That man is a source of constant delight to me.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seven

Posted 3073 days ago in by Catriona

ME: Being irritated with people for no reason seems to be my default at the moment.
NICK: For you, you mean?
ME: Yes, darling, for me. Hence the possessive pronoun. That “my” tends to tell you who owns the default.
NICK: Yes, I see what you mean.

Nick’s default, on the other hand, seems to be “taking his life in his hands.”

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Six

Posted 3074 days ago in by Catriona

NICK: Looks like there’s a Mac version of BioShock coming out.
ME: You should get that. (Pause) Is that the one with the things?
NICK: Pardon:
ME: The things. The . . you know (vague hand gestures, with a hint of sinuosity in the wrist). You go through the things from the place and you come out at the other place. You know. (Increasingly frantic vague hand gestures.)
NICK: Oh, no: that’s Portal.
ME: Ah, Portal. With the portals. Obviously.
NICK: Well, yes.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Five

Posted 3074 days ago in by Catriona

ME: Honey, why is there a Chris Foss book under the armchair?
NICK: Well, I was looking for somewhere to put it.
ME: So you put it under the armchair?
NICK: Yes.
ME: I mean, you deliberately put it under the armchair?
NICK: Yes.
ME: Why didn’t you just put it back where you got it from?
(Pause)
NICK: Um . . .

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Four

Posted 3076 days ago in by Catriona

ME: You’re not listening to me, are you?
NICK: The thing is, Treen, the voice you use for holding conversations with yourself and the one you use for talking to me—they’re identical! I can’t tell the difference!
ME: Has it ever occurred to you, honey, that maybe they’re not conversations with myself? That they’re conversations with you that you’re not listening to?
NICK (pause): No.

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