Wednesday, November 29, 2006


One minute ago I thought of a great blog, and in the seconds it took the page to load, I changed channels on the TV, thereby providing the necessary retroactive interference for my brain.

Meaning, I forgot the bally blog.


After Katja expressed an interest in the underwater lake from my last blog, I decided to do a bit more digging online. Not much apart from some student reports on, surprise surprise, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) - great acronym, isn't it...say it out loud and you will see why.

On one search, my Deep sea blog was 5th on the list, so that says a lot about how much you can find on the briny lake in the Gulf of Mexico.


Sorry to say that this week I have been having thoughts at work like, "Whew, only two weeks left." I will still find out if there is a position available there, as one discouragement might be the temp limbo I am in.

It might be nice to be properly accepted somewhere. Today I felt even more dissatisfied when the young grad who started a couple of weeks ago was installed in the newly furnished desk behind me, and today her business cards arrived.

I admit, I felt a twinge of envy. It started when the company secretary delivered them to her desk, she said, "Yay!", and he said "You're official now." It was when he said that.

Here she is, looking barely 23 and she's got business cards. Then there's me, barely 5 months away from turning 30 with no career, no man, none of the children I thought I'd have, still unfulfilled and faffing about like a fool.

I'm tired of being a late developer. Watching me grow up, my mother always said, "Born early, develop late" but this is ridiculous...

Sorry. I know you will all tell me off for not counting my blessings. I've really appreciated this job and even enjoyed it at times, know...


It has been a day full of signs, along with the discontent. One of the temps came by my desk without a word and glided away, having deposited on my desk a small cutout of an arts job in The Times. It set my heart racing, let me tell you. I have been updating my CV in preparation for applying. Wish me all the best that you possibly can.

Second sign, one of the senior partners was holding a beautiful publication in her hands as she chatted with my boss. I thought it was the catalogue from the current Holbein exhibition at the Tate Gallery, but she said it was actually a company report from the sole sponsor. Sumptuous covers and flaps entirely filled with portraits of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Rich reds, gold embroidery, crisp lace. To my rusty art eyes, it was like an electric shock. I was transfixed. I didn't hear what she was saying as she was explaining to me how touchable the painted fur stoles looked...

I didn't even tell her I had an art history degree. I just stood there gaping.

Third sign was the film I watched after dinner: Le Divorce (a Merchant Ivory production would you believe?) about a wealthy Frenchman divorcing his wife while pregnant with their 3rd child. (Main story: His playboy uncle has an affair with the wife's sister and buys her a stunning red Hermes Kelly bag.)

The wife's family wanted to sell the heirloom they believed was a Latour. The Louvre was not interested in a painting that came out of an American attic. They very Frenchly stuck their noses up at it. Stephen Fry turned up as the Christie's specialist. They verified its provenance and sold it for €3 million in a Paris auction. The museum bid hard and bought it. haha.

Three things - surely not coincidences.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Deep

"More people have travelled into space than have ventured this deep."

I watched David Attenborough's series Blue Planet, but my favourite episode by far was The Deep. Yes, a long-awaited educational piece! My first since the Pompeii or volcano post, I believe.

It is filmed around the Marianas Trench in the Pacific. After the continental shelf ends, the terrain levels out and gently slopes for 150 miles until it reaches a depth of 3,000 metres at the abyssal plain.

The team can travel up to 3 miles down in Alvin, a 2-metre wide submersible with a thick titanium skin and portholes no larger than your hand - any larger and the vessel would implode under the pressure.

The Twilight Zone, or Mesopelagic Zone (Middle Sea) extends from 450 ft (150m) to 3,300 ft (1,000m).

At around 600 metres, it all changes. The sunlight barely filters down this far, signalling the end of photosynthesis. The only colour of the spectrum down here is blue. Creatures you had not thought physically or naturally possible dwell down here, species never before seen, aliens on our own planet.

The pressure is 20-100 times that on the surface. Eyes as big as marbles, transparent squidgy bodies, bioluminescence - all the norm down here. The sealife lives in a floating world with no surfaces to come into contact with and are therefore much less durable than their shallow water cousins. (Hence it intrigues me as to how a soft squid can live here without being squished, while the bathysphere is protected by very thick walls.

The hatchet fish is so narrow that it is barely visible head-on:

but let it turn for its silvery side to mirror the blue light

...and it becomes invisible, even from below: it possesses a row of cells on its belly that duplicates the exact colour of the sea above its head.

I even saw an opaque fishy toddling about on footlike fins.

Much of the life down here produces phosphorescent blue light (like that on the HP laptop!), thanks to bacteria contained in cells or contained chemical reactions (much like in our light sticks). The hairy angler "angles" with its blue beacon. Others have photophore cells under their skin. Squid outline the contours of their bodies in blue dots. Shrimp exude a web of blue glue to slow down their predators and coat them with phosphorescence to make them visible to their own predators.

The transparent copepod (of which there are many species and it is the most numerous in the oceans) releases delayed blue-light bombs to confuse its pursuer so it can escape into the gloom.

Red light is filtered out by the water, so a few creatures produce their own, and this is invisible to the others - they look black. One fish (thought he said sniper fish but can't find it) lights its way with a red searchlight in its head, spotlighting its prey who are none the wiser. Some transparent jellyfish produce red light in order to camouflage the blue light of their latest meal. Imagine if your stomach lit up every time you ate. What an easy target you would be.

On the sea floor, the water is clear because there is so little organic matter to cloud it up. Most living down here are loners, feeding on the "marine snow", a sort of manna that floats down from decaying matter in the sunlit waters. A large tuna or a whale might hit the bottom intact. This will attract the six-gilled shark, a living fossil that has remained unchanged for 150 million years.

The carcass of the whale may take up to 18 months to be stripped down to the bone. Even then, it is teeming with bacteria which derive nutrients from the bones, and some eel-like creatures (starts with an h) are still around, finding flesh inside the head cavity. It will actually take years to completely run out of nutrients. When the team revisited the whale 18 months after it landed, the skeleton was laid out like a museum specimen, the outline of the body delineated on the silt floor by white bacteria.

Down by the hydrothermal vents, closest to the earth's skin, a new species is described every ten days. There are creatures that can withstand temperatures up to 80C. The hottest vents reach 400C (752F).

Aside: In the 1990s (a decade after the deep sea vents were discovered) 1/2 a mile under the Gulf of Mexico, far from any solar energy, scientists discovered an underwater lake. A lake underwater, you ask? Indeed. The "shoreline" was made up of shells, the "lake" consisted of briny water, much heavier than the seawater around it. The heavier water even lapped against the shore.

Now, I have seen pictures of people eating the postage-stamp-sized hatchet fish, and Japanese fishermen are able to trawl for bioluminescent squid when they come close to the surface once a year.

Question: would you eat a deep sea creature?

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Saturday, November 25, 2006


Some of you asked to see, so here is:

My Preciousssssssss...

The 17" lapdesk with Windows Media Center.

Intel Centrino Duo processor. nVidia Geoforce graphics card.

Even Lightscribe for lasering labels onto CDs!

Mirror-like black lid. Fingerprint Central. Fortunately, they include a microfibre cloth.

Shiny chassis too. The touchpad buttons are soft, so no clicking.

5-in-1 card reader, in fact that's how I transferred these pics. So fast!

All the little blue buttons above the keyboard are touch-sensitive controls for media.

The Altec Lansing speakers are better than the Boynq Vase Speaker I bought last year.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Crash and bum

What a day...Fell down twice! It was bound to happen, only a matter of time. Even when I left the house I wasn't feeling up to anything. Crammed in the Tube, it was a most uncomfortable journey. I was crammed in the middle - all day I have been the one person who didn't get a pole to hold onto, only I am usually pretty good at keeping my balance. It was a very jolting ride and, feeling faint (but not fainting!) I ended up landing on someone's shoe. I know, ow!

When I got to the office, my chair was in sight. I headed for it, went to sit, missed, and crashed to the floor. Again.

Even more shaken than I was before, despite having a laugh and providing a few seconds of amusement for my colleagues, I went to the kitchen to make my tea. So when I asked a colleague to to reach for the biscuits on the top shelf, I couldn't say "Digestives". Gigestives. Didestives. Gidestis. Gidiviges.

Bad morning. But everything was fine by 11. Mornings are always hard for me - sometimes I am just profoundly tired and don't regroup until about 2pm.


Our small department of 3 has increased for a couple of weeks to include two extra audiotypists during the crunch time. We are getting along well now. Midmorning my boss went out shopping and brought us back some Krispy Kreme donuts to "cheer everybody up". The four of us could not finish a dozen, though, so after lunch she put them in the kitchen for the rest of the office. I have never turned down a doughnut before, but seriously, that donut was my third breakfast of the day. I couldn't finish lunch. I had Cheerios and milk at home, tea and Digestives at the office, followed an hour later by a doughnut and more tea. See? Stuffed to the gills.

Don't worry, I had a fruit salad after lunch...

Anyway, we did all cheer up and have developed a rapport in our second week. In fact, once again we were the department that had the most laughter and conversation, only on a greater scale.


Righto, I know yesterday I thought of something to blog, but I can't remember what it was now.


Oh, I watched AI: Artificial Intelligence tonight. I will skip all commentary, except I really really liked Teddy! He was intriguing - a partly unappealing-looking robot bear with a deep monotone voice took all my attention if he was on screen. My favourite scene was when Martin had come home from hospital and he and David were competing to see who Teddy would go to when called. I missed the first half hour, so this was the first time I saw Teddy in full. He sat on the rug looking from one to the other, his mouth opening and closing in confusion. The mother entered the room with her laundry basket, and he was up and running to her saying, "Mommy, mommy", then he launched himself onto a small ottoman stomach first holding his arms up. Cute! So she grabbed his paw and walked off with him dangling.

I also liked the way he watched everything and sometimes did not speak.

Also like the way he looked up
(in surprise?) from sewing himself when Martin told David to cut a lock of mother's

I also liked how he would say when they were in the helicopter, "Be careful, David. This is not a toy."

Everything he said was slightly disjointed to the human conversation, but I wanted to hear more. It was almost as if he was a little voice of reason.

Forget the Pillsbury Doughboy. I want Teddy!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Laptop

Greetings from my new laptop. It is huge. The keyboard is so wide my fingers get lost because I have a 17-inch screen. It takes ages for the mouse pointer to get anywhere!

You do realise this is good-natured grumbling! If you don't want details, skip the next section...

Also, what I like is the piano-lacquer-type finish on every part of the chassis. They say it is taken from car manufacturing techniques. Let's see, what else...? Oh yes, so shiny they included a microfibre cloth for the polishing of it. Oh my darned fingerprints get all over the black cover!

I have a remote control that stores in the media card slot, also I have a 5-in-1 card reader so no wasting camera batteries when I want to transfer pics. I can do bluetooth exchange with my phone. I have a webcam built in to the top of the screen with two microphones. I had no idea infrared and bluetooth and wireless networking were built in to the new laptops, how cool is that!

I am blogging from a Firefox add-on called Performancing, which is cool as I don't have to log in to Blogger just to blog. Which means I will get even lazier as to tweaking my template, so apologies in advance to those of you who are waiting to get onto my blog links.

I've transferred all my music, photos, even passwords thanks to a fantastic Firefox add-on that transfers them as a little file.


At the moment, I am watching A Cock and Bull Story starring all England's familiar TV faces including Steve Coogan (as Tristram), David Walliams (as priest), Jeremy Northam (as the director), Stephen Fry (as a literary commentator). It is a film about the making of a film based on the of autobiographical novel Tristram Shandy and is actually quite entertaining on screen. There are many asides, like Mr Shandy pausing the action to step in and comment, with the addition of showing the director and crew with the actors between a few scenes, also in meetings discussing props and budget constraints, and even gossiping at dinner after filming. You might be tempted to think that this is where it gets lost as I was just waiting for it to get back to the book, but it turns out that it wades through a huge chunk of the book - and its narrative disjointedness - through this device, as those were the parts that can't be acted out. This works in the movie, but I must admit to getting bored with the book, even though I bought it because it was acclaimed as one of the first books in stream of consciousness. I suppose it was too ahead of its time in the 18th century.


Cross your fingers that I can blog for you next week. I was so exhausted this week that on Friday I was literally floppy, have had a variable 3-day headache, and slept for 12 hours on Friday night.

Let's hit the publish button now and see if it appears on Blogger....

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[EDIT] P.S. Some of you will be pleased to note Sunday's sidebar article:

Article of the Day

Aston Martin

The Aston Martin is a British luxury car manufacturer that is today part of the Ford Motor Company. The company's name was derived from Lionel Martin, one of the founders, and Aston Hill, the location where Martin enjoyed racing specials. The British glamour that characterizes Aston Martin cars has made them a natural choice for the James Bond series of action films. A silver Aston Martin DB5 appears in which four Bond films? More...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Small points

I wrote this on Sunday night in case I didn't have time to blog this week, which was certainly the case:

I have an issue with the Daniel Craig's new James Bond. Suave but powerful under the surface, yes. Slightly craggy, ok. But tall, blonde and handsome? No. Whether he proves to be a good Bond or not, the look precedes the reputation - in real life, I mean. In the Bond films it is the other way around!

Furthermore, the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that 7 rolls (of the Aston Martin) is a record. But I watched how they set up that stunt. The Aston was too solid to roll with a spin or even on road bumps, so they had to install a hydraulic pipe that shot out of the chassis on the driver's side. So this seven roll thing is cheating because each time it rolled it bounced off the pipe!

I tell you, it's scandalous, the number of luxury cars they demolish in action sequences!


Hm, I have forgotten my other rant. But I am pre-writing this blog on Sunday night in case I have no time during the week. I can just come in and hit "Publish"!

And despite feeling bad about not writing enough educational posts (that review in the previous post called my little asides educational!) here I am yet again not doing it. I guess it is because I can't spend an afternoon doing research...

So, here we stick to the recent fashion fare/fair:

Behold, my new watch. Or rather, timepiece. It is Swiss, and the Swiss don't make watches, they make timepieces.

Image hosted by

Thursday addition:

I ordered my new laptop this week. It is the HP dv9042ea, 42 not 22 so it must be a better version than the one in the earlier post.


Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

External attention!

Well, guess who got a pretty good rating on Soapbox Jury?

Yes, my blog has been rated a 7/10 by this site. I have no idea how I was found or why I was reviewed. Only thing is, why oh why did I have to get reviewed after slacking off on my educational posts and only a few days after I considered writing another one?

You can read my review here.

Perhaps you can leave feeback there, if you like :)


And now I have forgotten all the things I have been storing up to share with you!


I had a long day today. Went to see some old friends, so went to Richmond where Christopher of the previous post picked me up. There were hoards of people making their way home from the Lord Mayor's Show, and globs more on their way to the rugby in Twickenham, so he and I got stuck in quite a bit of traffic.

Chris's Mum (Joy) had laid on a generous spread of food, with the feature being chicken in coriander, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, spring onion. Yum and surprisingly tender. We drank claret with that, followed by some of the Eiswein I had brought along. It was amazingly full-bodied, ever so fruity, really desserty, and possibly even more fun for the tastebuds than Muscat. Dessert was a nice blackberry and apple pie, with cream. I had seconds...and then a cuppa tea :)

Joy and I chatted about how Chris and I were born. Part of the time I spoke on behalf of my mother - she and J met in the maternity ward at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. I was born in April at 27 weeks, Christopher in July at 25 weeks.

Then, brainiacs as we were, during the conversation about London, we got out the map. In the one about holidays, we got out the stonking great world Atlas.
Eventually, that led to Chris getting out his laptop and us spending the next hour AT LEAST, going all over the world in Google Maps, exploring all the places we've visited or lived in. We found the Sphinx in Eypt and we could even see the people walking between the pyramids, and the shadows they cast...!

Then we had more tea with cheese, fruits, and crackers. After that, Chris did the boy thing and watched TV while Joy and I talked more seriously - she and my mother both went through divorce ordeals within the past 4 years, so there was a lot to say. It is amazing: after you think you have gotten over something, you find that wounds will open in a moment, at a word.


I left there at nearly 10, and Chris dropped me off at the station. The District line took me to Westminster - so far so good, apart from the lights flickering and a hydraulic sound every time we pulled out of a station. At Westminster I made my way to the Jubilee line. A few seconds before the train arrived, the lights went out over one half of the platform. Then the train pulled in. I stood at the door ready to enter when it opened and a girl stood within ready to step out. Suddenly there was an announcement that, due to an emergency situation, the station was now closed and all passengers were asked to leave. The girl and I frowned perplexedly at each other and then the train pulled out immediately, with an air of abandoning us to our fates. We were all herded out, and I reached the surface in time to hear Big Ben strike 10.30 pm.

I got on a bus to Oxford Circus where I expected to walk to Bond Street, but then the driver announced that particular bus would be terminating at Piccadilly. There is no end to the joys of London Transport. I walked, briskly, to Green Park and then I was home without incident at a quarter to midnight.

Hot chocolate and dark choc cherry liqueurs rule!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Misty Monday

I went to the Arts & Antiques Fair at Kensington Olympia last night on short notice with Miss S. It was so lovely to be surrounded once more with special things. It was weird to adjust my mind, which had been immersed all day in financial matters, to identifying the objets d'art and furniture I once knew well. It gets harder every time...

We saw a former classmate, who has been working at Malletts (fine art & antiques) for a month, since leaving Bridgeman (picture library).

Hm! How does this happen?

Oh and there were such cute guys there! More of my types than Miss S and her surfer dudes. I keep telling her to move out to California or Australia. And I should move to Chelsea or Richmond. :)

Goodness. I thought I had more to say than this...

I am sure I forgot something.

Murphy's Law:
My childhood friend Christopher's mother texted me yesterday to say she would call me tonight to arrange my visit this weekend. I have been home all evening. I went downstairs at 9 to heat up some couscous and make some tea. Christopher called...when I was in the kitchen, of course, so I missed the call.

Bonne nuit!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My very own weekend

I have enjoyed a day at home, in my slippers :)
The first such weekend in over a month. No packing suitcases and catching trains, dressing up or spending money!

You may remember my weekends have gone like this:

1) Saw old school chum Haruko for the first time in 17 years
2) Spent intensive time with my mother
3) Went to a wedding in Surrey
4) and then the Halloween party

I like my slippers.

Laundry is overdue; there is more housework to do tomorrow. And I have been calling everyone I can to catch up with them.


I also watched Star Trek, after which nothing good has been on all day. I know it is said Star Trek was rubbish after the original, but still. It's good quality sci-fi and I watch it just to see them get into and out of scrapes, and to hear about all their weird infallible technologies.

They can beam in and out of nearly any situation - how convenient!
They can scan for anything on any ship or planet:
"Scanning for life forms, sir. Nothing significant found, but there is a mouse on board and it's got a flea."

I've also been indulging myself with a few episodes of Poirot and interviews with David Suchet about his iconic role. What a lovely, kind man he is.


Next week is hectic at work, so earlier mornings are in order and there may be one or two more temps called in to help, but we do thankfully still stop at 6. I really hope it doesn't tell on me again. I had finally struck a balance that ensured I still worked an 8+ hour day while not having any odd episodes like I was earlier, you may remember.

I don't know why arriving a quarter of an hour later than usual made a difference, but it did and my energy levels were much higher than they had been.


Yesterday I popped in at Fopp on Tottenham Court Road. It is such an amazing place. Most of the CDs and books cost between 3 and 8 pounds!

I went for Vangelis and maybe Enigma, but ended up coming out with 5 books and an Enigma trilogy and a Beethoven double CD set of late piano sonatas. However, I didn't want to spend a tenner on Polyphonic Spree when I can just download it.

The Enigma CD box is really cool. The CDs are held in a trifold that fits into a thin case. There is an eye on the front and a cutout of what looks like an ancient zodiacal star map that you can turn and it shows through holes in the case.

The books I bought are:
Two by Wilkie Collins: The Law and the Lady and Armadale
The Histories
by Herodotus
On Wine and Hashish by Baudelaire
The Complete Fairytales by George MacDonald.

I am so many books behind now that I have stopped counting. I am currently reading Billy Budd by Herman Melville, have yet to get to Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke, George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, and the countless other volumes I have acquired in the past year. I nearly got the Tale of Genji, yes! I had been talking about it this week as I haven't read it since I was in school, but I couldn't decide between the abridged and unabridged.


I am also finally looking seriously at laptops now, as I have been getting the Blue Screen of Death more frequently and it has been shutting itself off a lot more too. No amount of diagnostics and repair...
I wavered in the direction of Toshiba like my first was, but looking at the new HPs, oh my! I have enjoyed an HP for the past 3 years. I know which one I want too:

HP Pavilion dv9022ea

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


...the Party, remember?

Me as the Bunny, but sorry for not showing any more. I took a tank top and tight black trousers but it was too chilly and confusing once I got there to change.

Clicky here for a a quick photo show of the evening, courtesy of the techie Diva.

This is all I can do for now, as my computer ... is .... doing ..... everything ...... very ....... very ........ sloooooooowlyyyyyyyy and could shut itself off at any minute.