ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
What on earth is the sense in having a Kindle edition of books 1, 3 and 4 in a series, but not of book 2?

It's a particularly light-hearted, fluffy series. Book one had a proper ending, without cliffhangers or dangling plot threads. I hadn't even firmly decided whether I was going to read on or not, and, if I was, whether I was going to do so immediately, or leave it until next time I felt like a lighthearted short fluffy read. However, that ending was followed by a preview of book 2, and I ended up reading it. Thanks to the preview, book 2 is officially The Novel I Am Currently Reading. Thanks to the lack of a Kindle edition, I now have a secondhand paperback of book 2 winging its way to me, due to arrive tomorrow. Both of these facts means that book 2 is now officially The Book I Am Currently Reading, and thanks to the way that my mind works - I find it impossible to have two fiction books on the go at the same time - this means that No Other Book Will Do until I've read it. This is particularly annoying today, since I've got a 90 minute period in the early evening in which, for Reasons, which can only usefully be filled with reading.

And, yes, I know that most of these difficulties are of my own making, but I repeat my original question. What on earth is the sense in having a Kindle edition of books 1, 3 and 4 in a series, but not of book 2?
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
You know Shepherd Book's thing about the special hell reserved for people who talk in the theatre? Forget talking in the theatre! The special hell needs to be reserved for designers who think that fake pockets are a good idea.

Yes, I know I've ranted about this before, but fake pockets? FAKE POCKETS? WHY? I have been told that garments hang better and travel better if pockets are sewn up, so I can perhaps, and very grudgingly, accept that there might be a slight justification for sewing up pockets in garments destined for a life of stardom as a catwalk or catalogue model. But I'm talking about cheap, functional garments that will never look glamorous. I'm talking about garments that don't have pockets at all, merely useless little flaps - not even decorative ones, but boring, barely visible ones - that look as if they belong to pockets, but don't. WHY? WHY? If there was no pocket at all, perhaps I could learn to live with it; I do, after all, possess pocketless skirts and dresses. But why go to the effort of adding a useless little fake pocket opening unless you're doing it purely to deceive and enrage? Your eyes think there's a pocket there. Experience from other trousers tells you there'll be a pocket there. The useless little flap of fabric draws your fingers into it, only to make them come up short.

I have been told that men's trousers are immune from this plague. However, strangely, I have never yet heard a woman say, "Oh, I am SO overwhelmed today. I've got 4 pockets on my trousers, and it's such a lot to think about. If only two of them were fake!"

Give us trousers without pockets for those who want them. Give us trousers with pockets for those who want them. But don't give us trousers that say, "Hey, look at me! I've got 4 lovely pockets!" only to reveal once you've got them home that two of them are WICKED LIES!

And, yes, I KNOW that the moral of this story is "don't hastily buy trousers without checking the pocket situation," and "don't assume that, just because a pair of trousers appears to be UTTERLY IDENTICAL to the pair you bought from the same shop last year, it really IS utterly identical, and hasn't replaced perfectly functional pockets with fakes."

AND while I'm busy ranting about trousers... I'm five foot five and a bit, which is round about the average height for women in the UK. Something is very wrong in the world of women's trousers if trousers marked as "short" are 2 inches too long for me. Last year's pocket-rich well-nigh-identical-but-not pair were also "short" and exactly right. I suspect them of taking the fabric they saved from the pockets and sticking it on the hems.

Odd socks

Feb. 3rd, 2016 12:33 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today's grumble about something entirely trivial and unimportant concerns socks.

Some years ago, I was surprised to discover that most other people in the room I was in considered that wearing odd socks was behaviour as shocking and inappropriate as chewing gum with an open mouth while meeting the queen, even if you were wearing the socks in the privacy of your own home. Personally, I don't really care if my socks match or not, as long as the bit visible to the outside world looks the same. Bits hidden inside shoes or under trousers can differ all they like. I consider scouting underwear drawers and laundry baskets for matched pairs to be a chore that I am happy to be spared from.

Pellinor solves the Sock Issue by stuffing a drawer full of what seems like at least 152 separate identical plain black socks, which can be stuffed into the drawer as defiant individuals, and grabbed in the dark at random in the sure confidence that a pair will result. Problems presumably only occur if a charismatic leader sock, worn and washed and faded 50 times, is grabbed alongside the social outcast who is never picked for the team, who retains its unwashed, virgin status, but for the most part, it seems to work.

Since Pellinor's socks are all black, mine cannot be, since I refuse to spend my time peering at dozens of black newly washed socks, trying to work out whose feet they fit. I, therefore, go for black socks with flashes of colour on the toes. (My newest ones also have a cheery animal on the ankle. I like these ones, especially the happy tiger.) Worn with trousers and sensible shoes, they look identical to the world outside, and if five toes are wrapped in purple and five in orange, I don't really care.

This Christmas, my Mum gave me a three pack of socks that advertised themselves as having a special material at the top that doesn't dig in and leave marks. (They seem to do what's advertised, although sock marks have never particularly bothered me before, except when doing a long walk on a hot day, when I get a rash that sticks around for days.) All three pairs are dark blue. More specifically, all three pairs are a different shade of dark blue, but the difference is so slight that you have to hold two socks next to each other to confirm that you've got a pair. Searching for pairs in gloomy light while half asleep, you think you've found one, only for the true differences to reveal themselves when you get out in daylight, there for all the see. Pairing an entire laundry basket full of the things must be a challenge worthy of a medal.

Who would think that this is a good idea? Who?
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today's entirely-unimportant-in-the-scheme-of-things rant subject is automatic doors. More specifically, it's lazy automatic doors that perform their duty but slowly and too late. So there you are, brisk shopper, striding purposefully towards the door. (I always stride purposefully, even if my brain hasn't yet clarified what the purpose actually is. For example, on Thursday I strode purposely into M&S with the purpose of filling a bag with tomato and basil soup and nothing else. Fifteen minutes later, I strode purposefully out again, with a bag full of two pairs of trousers, two bras, 9 tins of soup and a packet of tomatoes, with the purpose of getting out again quick before I ended up buying a kitchen sink.) So, striding purposefully, you near the automatic door, confident that it will part before you and let you through without any check in your gait.

Then, with a few steps to go, you have this horrible realisation that it is not opening. It's doubtless standing there, idling, cigarette in hand, chatting about the pretty girls who have passed through its embrace. Your step falters, but you don't actually stop outright, because automatic doors always open, don't they, and SURELY this one will do so, too. Glass looms large in your vision, and you know that you're going to have to do a full-on emergency stop to save your nose from being squashed. Then, just at the last minute, the door realises you're there, throws away its cigarette, and sloooowly, idly, drifts the doors open with bored ungraciousness, and you can resume your purposeful striding and hope that nobody has noticed that, A, you have almost walked into a door, or, B, you have almost tripped over your own feet as you fought the conflicting urges of "must stop now!" and "carry on; it's bound to be okay."

I could blame the fact that I stride too fast for door technology to cope with. After all, when out walking, I've had random strangers berate me for walking too fast. (It's quite odd. If I'd been tailgating them on narrow paths, I'd understand, but it's people in cottage gardens that I pass, or people yards away on open hillsides who feel the need to tell me off for daring to having different tastes in country walking than they have.) But then there's the other sort of automatic door: the automatic door who is young, new on the job, and very very keen. Approach within ten paces, and the door will leap open, and stand there quivering with the joy of obedience, waiting for you to pat it on their head and tell it that it's been a very good boy. Stand and dither over tomatoes on the fruit and veg section near the door, and it's goes into a positive frenzy of opening and shutting, causing you to look anxiously around for the security guards in case they think you're trying to do a runner with a basket of veg.

Then there are those doors that have a very rigid mind and can only cope with one order at a time. Person A approaches it, and the door parts to let them through. The door then slowly drifts shut again, just as Person B is approaching it. However, the door is concentrating on its "Close now!" order with all its might, and needs to complete this order before it raises its head to look out for new customers. This doesn't normally end well for Person B. The door in our local shop sometimes gets like this. I haven't quite got squashed yet, but it's been a close-run thing.

Actually, come to think it is, it all comes down to magic. When approaching doors, I have a habit of putting my hands together and parting them in a magical way while saying "whoosh" under my breath, so I can pretend that I'm commanding them open with my awesome magic power. However, I only do this accompanied by Pellinor, since there's a limit to how silly I'm prepared to appear in public. However, thinking back, all the problems I've had with lazy or stupid or over-reactive doors have happened when I've been alone and have therefore failed to do the magic hand movements... Hmm... I think the clues are all coming together here, and forcing me to come up with only one conclusion...

Google maps

Nov. 6th, 2015 08:59 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today I will be mostly Grrring about Google maps. In particular, I am Grring about the extreme rubbishness of Google maps when you try to print a page out. (Or, at least, when I try to print something out. There may well be a trick to it that I've entirely failed to notice.) On Monday, I needed to walk from Waterloo Station to a place barely half a mile away. I therefore adjusted and zoomed the map so my screen showed both Waterloo Station and my destination, at a scale detailed enough to show the relevant road names. However, "print preview" informed me that if I printed it, I would get a completely different area, one that didn't include Waterloo Station, and almost all the road names would disappear. I zoomed in, reasoning that I didn't need to have the whole of Waterloo Station on my map. This time, every tiny little alleyway and lane had its name showing on the map on the screen. Print preview: almost all those names had vanished.

Other mapping sites don't seem to have that problem. I sometimes use Streetmap, but find the maps rather dense and busy in urban areas, due to the thick roads and black lines around them. A colleague recommended, which instantly managed to give me a map showing my start point, my end point, and all the relevant road names in between. I'm going to London again today, and this time needed a slightly longer route, from Waterloo to somewhere in Westminster, and again coped admirably. Google maps gave up entirely, giving me a river and some patches of green, with the rest of the page a desert of nameless beige.

Why is that, when asked to print a page, Google maps promptly erases all the useful information from the map? (This is a genuine question. There may well be a Good Reason for it that I am unaware of.) Do they assume that everyone using the maps is doing so on a portable device? By trying to print out a useable map, am I asking for something that is SO last century that it's ridiculous?

On couches

Aug. 12th, 2015 04:57 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Surely I can't be the only person who considers a couch (or similar) to be a vital component of a satisfying hotel room? Unless we're only using the hotel as a place to stay after an evening out, chances are we'll have several hours of an evening in that room, and I hate having to sit on the bed for computer use / TV watching / tea drinking / game playing. I also like somewhere to sit in the morning when I get up before Pellinor's awake.

But do hotel websites ever make it easy to find out if their rooms contain such a thing? No! I've looked at lots of sites where every room is listed separately, with a whole gallery of photos, allowing you to choose which room you want. Even then, they tend to show close-ups of ornaments, arty shots of hanging curtains and so on, but leave you entirely in the dark about what furniture is contained in a room. You can't even assume that this means there is no chair or couch. I've taken a chance on such rooms in the past, only to find that they're large and lovely, with both couch and armchair, even though the many many pictures on the website admitted to neither of these things.

Obviously I want to know how many it sleeps, and whether it's an en suite. I'd like the bed to be comfortable, but that's such a subjective matter than no hotel website can help me here. Tea and coffee making facilities are essential, but are taken as read. (However, if a hotel offers real milk instead of UHT cartons, they should shout about it. I've stayed in hotels that did this, and it was great, but they kept entirely silent about this on their website.) I want to know if there's free wifi - and that, too, is sometimes very hard information to extract from the websites of larger hotel chains. Ideally I'd like to know if it's quiet or not: if the hotel is on a busy road and each room is listed separately, it would be nice to know which rooms are quieter. It's not essential, but given the choice, I'd like a nice view: another thing hotel websites can be strangely coy about, even when they boast about their lovely gardens and setting.

I don't care if there are fluffy bathrobes. Why does every hotel website under the sun make such a thing about fluffy bathrobes?

I don't care what colour the decor is. I don't care who makes the soap; chances are I won't have heard of them, anyway. I don't care what colour the cushions are. I'll just chuck the cushion mountain off the bed as soon as I get there, and the cleaner will carefully pile them all back on again, and I'll chuck them off again. Why are hotels so obsessed with piling a million cushions on the bed? And what's with these funny little coloured strips of material they like to lay across the bottom of the duvet?

I just want to know if I'll have somewhere to sit that isn't the bed. Why are hotels so reluctant to tell me this?


Jun. 25th, 2015 08:49 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
A ritual is held around our work printer almost daily. "Stop!" the ritual participant shouts, as they prod every possible button that might convey an air of meaning "cancel." "Stop! Stop! Stop! WHY WON'T YOU STOP?" Taking the paper tray out is the usual first step, but that's only a temporary pause in the ritual. The participant still has to prod all the buttons on the printer, stalk back to their computer, and shout, "But I HAVE cancelled the print job!" then stalk back to the printer and prod the buttons again, then stalk back to their computer and scream, "WHY WON'T YOU STOP?" before yielding to the inevitable, and meekly letting the printer print out 100 pages of unwanted document, which they promptly offer up to the hungry gods who reside in the office paper recycling bin (who, come to think of it, are probably Behind It All.)

The same ritual has been happening all week at home. A week ago, when trying to print one chapter of a very long story, I forgot to choose "print selection," and chose the default of "print all." I realised almost immediately and clicked on "cancel," but nothing happened. I resorted to the "remove paper tray" ploy... and, one week on, this is how things remain. I have switched the printer off and on again. My computer swears blind that the printer has no active or pending jobs. The printer swears blind that its memory is as empty as a new-born lamb (or something like that) and that it has no active or pending jobs. Yet whenever I put the paper tray back in, it resumes its ongoing - and unwanted - printing of the epic Word file of doom: the one that both computer and printer swear blind was cancelled a week ago, and nothing now remains of that colossal wreck but lone and level sands. (Or something like that.)

EDIT: Print job is FINALLY cancelled, but only by jumping through lots of hoops. You really should not have to jump through that many hoops to do something as simple as saying, "oops, I shouldn't have clicked "print." Cancel that, please."
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Here's something that's annoying. It's when you get a box of chocolates or a selection box of biscuits, and on the back of the packet it lists all the ingredients for the entire selection, and it reads, "stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, THING THAT MIGHT KILL YOU!, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff." Inside the box, 20 different chocolates or biscuits stare innocently at you, and you know that at least one of them contains the THING THAT MIGHT KILL YOU! but you have no idea which one(s), or how many. Sometimes one draws your attention by waving dramatically at you, saying LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I'M COVERED ALL OVER IN NUTS! but maybe it's just a distraction. Maybe it's like all those people in movies who leap out and shout I AM A DIVERSION! FOLLOW ME SO THE HERO WITH THE McGUFFIN WILL GET AWAY! (and the baddies always fall for it! Why? It's always so obviously a diversion, yet they invariably drop everything and chase after these people who so obviously want to be chased. It's almost as if evil minions are invariably stupid, or something. Oh. Wait.)

Anyway, back to those innocent chocolates. One of them obviously has nuts all over it, and another has no obvious nuts, but is called "hazelnut crunch," which is a bit of a clue. But what about all the others? THING THAT MIGHT KILL YOU! was quite high on the ingredient list. Are two chocolates likely to account for it, or is there likely to be more lurking in a third chocolate, invisible and unlabelled?

In the end, you have to pass all doubtful chocolates to a tame Pellinor, who has to take a careful bite and report back on the likelihood of nuts. But can you trust such a creature? There is, after all, that incident in Bella Pasta in Oxford in 1993: that never-to-be-forgivenforgotten incident when you were suddenly stuck with Doubt about the white shavings on your pudding, so passed it over to him to take a tiny spoonful and report back. Then you got distracted by conversation with others, and when you turned back, the whole pudding was gone. "So it did have nuts in it?" you say. "No," says the brazen-faced unrepentant villain, quite cheerfully. "It was white chocolate."

Okay, so nuts won't actually kill me (at least, they haven't yet) but an allergic reaction is unpleasant and not nice, and there's always the fear that it will get worse. Others have it far, far worse, of course. So why, if you're going to make the effort of listing all your allergens in bold on the back of your packet, don't you make it clear inside which item contains said allergen, and which ones are free of it?
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Is it just me, or does food shopping get ever more complicated? I tried to buy tinned sweetcorn a while ago. Presumably we hadn't bought it for a long time, or maybe Pellinor happened to do the shopping the last time sweetcorn was on the list, or maybe the World of Sweetcorn, formerly simple, has recently acquired new complexities. I expected a choice between Brand Name, Another Brand Name and Own Brand. Instead, I found what seemed to my poor overloaded brain to be at least 127 subtly different sweetcorn choices. Which one is normal, old-fashioned sweetcorn? I wailed. Which one is the ordinary, classic, common-or-garden, original, newbie sweetcorn? No help was forthcoming.

It's even worse with toothpaste, where each brand name comes in about 105 different versions, all claiming to do something that sounds like a Good Thing, but none claiming to do all of them. Overwhelmed, I just buy whatever happens to be on special offer. And this week, I ended up bonding with an elderly lady over our shared Olive Oil Angst. Side by side, we surveyed the 20 foot wide display of all manner of olive oils, as we tried to work out which one was normal olive oil for cooking. I used to laugh about old ladies who stood around in shops loudly complaining about the price of carrots nowadays, or the shocking new-fangledness of the quiche. Now I seem to have become one.

What supermarkets need is some sort of walkthrough for confused newbies. ("New to tinned sweetcorn? Here's where to start!") Or maybe a clearly coloured shelf sticker that denotes the normal, regular, non-confusing version of a thing.

And while I'm busy grumping about shopping:

Why do so many clothes shops make it impossible to find clothes? Go into somewhere like Debenhams to look for trousers, and you have to look in 105 different places. At least it makes sense in Debenhams, because of the way the shop works: lots of different brands under the same roof. But M&S does the same thing now, with all their different ranges. I just want to browse trousers! I don't care if they're Per Una trousers, or Indigo Collection trousers, or M&S Classics trousers, or any of the other ranges they now sell. Why are they going out of their way to make things difficult? Well, yeah, I expect they're deliberately forcing customers to walk every inch of the shop in the hope that they get tempted by other items en route, but it's still very annoying.

As is the habit train stations have of only selling crisps in extra-large bags. After an early start and a long journey, I might feel in need of a small snack, but I don't want a large one. If they sold normal sized bags of crisps, they would probably get some money out of me. By only selling large ones, they ensure that I walk straight out again, feeling grumpy, negative thoughts in their general direction, and my money remaining unspent.


Jan. 23rd, 2015 02:43 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I've just come across one of those books in which some Opinionated Person rants about the way "people nowadays" use language. You see, after many centuries of evolution, the English language coincidentally reached its pinnacle of perfection on this man's eighteenth birthday, and all change since then is wrong and bad.

The page I opened at random was ranting about tautology. It is nonsensical (and wrong and bad) to say, "I'm currently at my desk," he declared, because the present tense is already implied by the verb. However, to me, there is a definite difference between, "Tim is Lord of All Hamsters," and, "Tim is currently Lord of All Hamsters." The latter suggests that Lord of All Hamsters is a distinctly temporary title, and if you come back in a year, you might find Tim's furry nemesis wielding the bejewelled feeding bottle of power, and Tim reduced to sawdust and memory.

"Delays due to an earlier accident," is also condemned as nonsensical (and wrong and bad.) "Well, it can't be because of a future accident," the author scoffs. To me, though, "delays due to an accident," and, "delays due to an earlier accident," are different. The latter suggests that the worst is past, although the effects of the earlier chaos have not yet fully dissipated.

Worst of all, in the Opiniated Person's view, was, "next year, we intend to make further enhancements to our service." He could not even begin to conceive how it was possible to make further enhancements to something. "Um, perhaps because they want to make clear that they've already improved the service in the past?" I shouted (silently) at him.

At this point, I closed the book, and stepped quietly away. It felt wiser thus.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
A Thing that has outraged me: Othello retold for young beginner readers, in a series aimed at children aged 6 to 8 or thereabouts. Othello? WHY? Cue my long and oft-repeated rant that delayed my book selection by a considerable time.

A Thing that has interested me: As soon as the 2 minute silence finished, and the sound of the maroon had faded away, I scurried to the dictionary to find the link between the colour and the distress signal. Apparently they come from the same word: the French for "chestnut." The colour is chestnut-coloured, while the firework pops like a chestnut roasting on an open fire. The verb "to maroon" comes from a different root, though: the Spanish for "wild." So now you know.

A Thing that has bemused me: I stumbled upon an old episode of Buffy on the SyFy channel mid-afternoon on Saturday. "The following programme contained paranormal practices," it said (or words to that effect), "and is intended for entertainment purposes only." I've never heard such a warning before, even in the days when Buffy was shown on BBC2 at tea-time, and then cut so badly that some episodes were incomprehensible. But what other purposes would anyone put Buffy to? A how-to manual?

Another Thing that has interested me: I'm reading a book on the history of the Tower of London menagerie at the moment, and it's full of interesting snippets. In the 12th century, Londoners were commanded to pay for a chain and muzzle so the King's polar bear could fish for its own dinner in the Thames. In the 15th century, the menagerie was opened to select public, who either had to pay an admission fee, or bring along a cat or a dog which could be fed to the lions. I wonder what delights later centuries will bring?
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I've posted before about how children's non-fiction publishing is almost entirely based around the school curriculum. "Leisure interest" books such as Scary Animals With Teeth!, HUGE trucks, Ahhh!they'resocuuuuuteandfurries and football are exempt, but history and science books, in particular, are published entirely with the curriculum in mind. Tudors are done in year 4, where they do Henry VIII and Rich & Poor in Tudor England, so there are no books on Tudors for 5 year olds or 12 year olds, and nothing for anyone at all on Elizabeth I.

Obviously, this is all very unfortunate for the 6 year old child who conceives a mad, burning enthusiasm for Tudors. It is also very unfortunate for schools and libraries when the curriculum goes and changes, and you find yourself staring at 450 books on Tudors for 9 year olds, when Tudors Aren't Done now, and all everyone wants is books on the Stone Age for 6 year olds.

Yes, the Stone Age. Primary School children now start history at the Stone Age, and work through the Bronze Age and the Iron Age until they finally reach Vikings by 11 - although they do depart from this chronology to do certain other themes and projects along the way. Unfortunately, the Stone Age hasn't been done in school for years, and there are literally NO BOOKS on it. Despite the fact that the new curriculum was announced a good while back, and went live in September, there are still NO BOOKS on it. This is causing considerable angst and despair in all quarters.

Personally, I can't really see what They were thinking to start the children off on the Stone Age. The previous curriculum started them off gently by introducing the concept of the past, and the fact that Things Were Sometimes Different Then, focusing on things like toys, houses, clothes etc.

But now children have to launch straight in to what is, in my opinion, a very hard period to understand. I still remember the shock of going from 19th century history for A-level (which is not at all my favourite, but it's what I was landed with, since apparently only Bad Boys did my preferred choice of the Renaissance) to the Anglo-Saxon invasions in my first term at Oxford. It was so hard to go from a period where documentary evidence abounds, to a period when we know so very little, and have to piece it together from archaeological finds and dubious documentary sources. Each new archaeological find could potentially overturn everything we thought we knew. How on earth do you teach this to 5 year olds?


Aug. 1st, 2014 01:56 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Does anyone have a pet peeve that, when you encounter it in a book or a film, it entirely, and unduly, distracts you from the plot? I'm not talking about unpleasant real world issues which you prefer not to encounter in fiction. I don't even mean mistakes, whether in the form of plot holes and internal contradictions, or in the form of research failings - anachronisms, offences against the laws of physics or whatever. No, I mean things that shouldn't really be contraversial at all, yet still bother you.

For example, I get unduly bothered when people who are doing dodgy or secret things, insist on doing them while standing in a window after dark, with the lights on and the curtains open. "Shut the curtains!" I shout, getting entirely distracted from the plot. When their secret affair or vile murder gets discovered, as it inevitably does, I feel compelled to say, "If only they'd shut the curtains!" every few minutes, and end up virtually incapable of watching the film.

But the big one for me, I think, is waste, in particular food waste. The characters sit down to dinner. Plot is discussed. Someone gets up and leaves the table, leaving their dinner untouched. Others follow. Cut to scene of lone remaining person tipping all the uneaten dinners into the bin. Into the bin! Not into the food recycling container! Not into the garden for the birds. Not into the dog bowl. Not carefully covering it with cling film and putting it in the fridge for later. Just into the bin. The whole meal! Thrown away! So disturbed do I get that I entirely fail to notice the plot for many minutes of outrage.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today's rant is about automatic taps in public toilets. I do understand that these have been put in to protect our newly-washed hands from having to touch the tap to turn it off, thus contaminating ourselves with the assorted nasties that were on the hands of the hundreds of people who have turned it on before us. However, the magical touch-free sensor approach is REALLY ANNOYING because it HARDLY EVER WORKS!

You approach the line of sinks, and wave your hands under one of the taps. Nothing happens. You move them nearer and wave them again, then further away. Still nothing. You wave fast, then slow. You do the hokey-cokey and you turn around. Still nothing. You intone magical incantations. You speak "friend." Still nothing, so you move to the next tap, and repeat the process, and continue down the line.

Sometimes you never find the way to persuade the mute and merciless tap to dispense its bounty. But sometimes - how, you do not know and never will - you accidentally hit on precisely the right method to summon the water. Did you put your hands at the precise 3.57 inch distance that is demanded? Was it something to do with the speed you danced the hokey-cokey? Either way, you suddenly have a huge gush of water... all over your cuffs, nowhere near your hands. It cannot be replicated.

Or sometimes, you get presented with a single hole in the wall, that dispenses soap, water and air in a pre-arranged sequence that cannot be interrupted. There will inevitably be far fewer of these things than there are toilet cubicles. The ones I queued (im)patiently for today were branded as "Wallgate," which sounds like some terrible wall-related scandal. This is apt. The machines insisted on dispensing what felt like two hours supply of air. Even customers who wanted to erase every last hint of dampness from their hands ended up walking away while the air was still blasting out, causing the next person to stand there, twitchy with impatience, waiting for the chance to wave their hands wildly in the void, mutter magical words, and be rewarded with a jet of soap on their cuffs.


Jul. 5th, 2014 01:41 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Apparently there's no point at all in losing weight, because you only end up being a size that nobody bothers to sell bras in. At my old weight, I would have been presented with a cornucopia of options. At my present weight ("Normal") I had precisely... none. Grump!

Also, apparently I'm not allowed to be allergic to pine nuts, in that ingredient lists that helpfully embolden every known allergen doesn't bother to tell me about the pine nuts, but sneaks them in furtively and doesn't breathe a word about it. Plus they call them "pine kernels," so I don't notice them when I do a quick scan looking for the word "nuts." Luckily I noticed before eating the sandwich, but not before buying it. Grump!


Jun. 25th, 2014 01:50 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Grump! I've been using the MapMyWalk app on my phone since January, and have used it to track over 200 walks, ranging from less than a mile to over 30 miles. Barring a few issues with battery use, I've had no problems with it.

Last week, I installed a big upgrade...

After a week of fighting with it, I have had to conclude that the upgrade has made the app unusable on my phone. I don't know if this is because my phone, although less than a year old, is at the budget end of the Smartphone spectrum? I've only managed one successful walk, and that was a simple A to B walk in Southampton, only 2 miles, with no pauses. Otherwise, it refuses to start again when paused. It shouts about not being able to connect to their website - something it never previously moaned about, which is just as well, given the lack of network coverage one tends to encounter on country walks. It sometimes freezes up completely, forcing me to restart my phone. It devours battery life at least twice as fast as the old one, if not more, even when paused.

Yes, I am using the free version of the app, rather than paying to get the more advanced version. I accept that this gives me very limited right to complain. I am not a paying customer, and they owe me nothing. But I'm still grumped about it. I'm 88% of the way through my "walk 1000 miles" target on MapMyWalk, so I don't want to move away from it until I've completed that. I can map walks manually - easy when you walk on roads; rather more challenging when you go cross country - but it's so much easier to have a magic device in your pocket doing all the counting for you.


No lunch

May. 5th, 2014 09:21 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Grump! This is the second week in a row that I have to dance between 12 and 2, which takes me out the house from 11.30 to 2.30, or so. Who arranges these things? Don't they believe in lunch? Yes, we often dance outside pubs and cafés and places that serve food, but you can't eat a sit-down lunch when you've got to get up every few minutes to do a 5 minute dance, and it's a bit cheeky to take sandwiches when you're on the premises of a pub that serves food. I know that some people are lucky enough to be flexible about meal times. Pellinor (and my Mum) can forget to eat lunch, and don't even notice. However I (like my Dad) get icy cold, dizzy and utterly pathetic if lunch is delayed. I can just about wait until 1, although I might have to wrap up warm to last that long. Any later than that, and I dissolve into a heap of sobbing uselessness.

So I'm going to have to eat lunch at 11, which will of course just set up problems later, since I'll then have to eat dinner early, too. Grr!

Besides, as we discovered last week, the audiences don't really turn up until 2-ish, anyway. Last week, we danced by the exit of a huge, touristy car park in a tourist honeypot, just outside a touristy café and a touristy gift shop. Barely a soul there at 12. Three coach-loads of tourists and a few hundred cars by 2, just as we were finishing. Grump!
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Has anyone else found that modern bags have mastered the art of being far, far bigger on the outside than the inside? I've noticed it with new suitcases and a new handbag, but it's particularly noticeable with our new small rucksack.

The old one had a single compartment, with two outer pockets on the side for drink bottles. It worked well enough, but I wanted to get one with a chest strap - I was often reduced to walking along with my thumbs hooked into the straps, trying to replicate a chest strap, but I did generally feel that I ought to be singing cowboy songs while doing it. I also wanted some sort of contraption that would keep the bag off my back, thus avoiding the unpleasantness of the sodden back scenario. Most annoyingly, the zips on the side pockets gradually work open, and more than once I stopped for lunch, only to find that my water bottle had made a successful escape bid miles back along the track.

So, anyway, we bought a new small rucksack that had all those things I wanted, including pockets that could keep even the most determined water bottle from escaping. All well and good, thus far. However, when came to use it, we found that it doesn't actually hold anything! The contraption that keeps it off the back seriously reduces its expansion possibilities, but that's fair enough. However, it's divided into so many mini compartments and pockets that you can't really fit anything into any of them. The biggest compartment can't quite hold our insulated sandwich bag when it holds sandwiches for two, plus an ice pack. It can just hold said bag when it has sandwiches for one, but only with a bit of squashing and squeezing and heaving at the zip. The second biggest compartment can just hold one folded up lightweight waterproof. I've found 9 separate compartments thus far, and we spent quite a bit of our round-the-island walk desperately zipping and unzipping, trying to track down the compartment that held the cereal bars/external battery/map.

How can something billed as having a 20 litre capacity struggle with holding lunch for two and two lightweight waterproofs?


Apr. 1st, 2014 12:46 pm
ladyofastolat: (Misty Glastonbury)
This morning was foggy. This morning was so foggy that I could barely see next door. It was even more foggy up on the Downs road, where road signs were invisible, the car in front was a vague ghost, and side roads remained vague rumours until you were right on top of them.

Why, then, do so many people driving in these conditions fail to put their lights on? I can better understand those who charge along far too fast in the fog without their lights on; they are making no concession at all to the fog, so although stupid, are at least consistent. But the roads today were full of people limping gingerly along at half their normal speed, their barely-glimpsed ghost-like faces giving the impression of desperate peeriness, yet were still driving with no lights. Grr!
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
(Dried) Egg pappardelle, "bySainsbury's" (ingredients: durum wheat semolina, free range egg (16%)): kcal per 100g: 372

(Dried) "Pappardelle made with free range eggs," Sainsbury's Taste the Difference (ingredients: durum wheat semolina, free range egg (24%)): kcal per 100g: 141

Something does not compute here! One would expect a slightly higher egg content to make some difference to the calorie content, but not this much.

But the plot thickens. Version 1 claims that a serving is 100g. Version 2 claims that a serving is 200g. Presumably, in version 1, 100g refers to dry weight, whereas in version 2, is refers to cooked weight, with the weight doubled by water. Nowhere is this made clear. And, in this case, version 2 is particularly unhelpful to me as I stand there with my weighing scales, measuring out a sensible portion size, since if I do it without measuring, it always balloons into enough to feed a hungry army. I don't often cook dried pasta, so can never remember what's a sensible portion size, so I could very easily have measured out 200g of dried pasta per person today, were it not for the fact that I still had a tiny bit left of the old packet left, and could compare.

I do appreciate nutritional information on food, but sometimes they seem to go out of their way to obscure what they really mean. Grump!
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
According to the internet, the average height of women in the UK is 5 foot 4 and a half. I am therefore exactly dead on average. Why, then, is it that trousers sold in normal High Street shops are always so long on me that their hems trail in the mud? I don't think my legs are unnaturally short, in proportion with the rest of me. Sleeves are usually too long, too.

Entirely unrelated to the above (unless ancient heroes wear too-long trousers), I'm rereading Rosemary Sutcliff's The Hound of Ulster at the moment, and am struggling to think of any "hero" of myth or legend who equals Cuchulainn in sheer obnoxiousness. He's a rude, selfish, bad tempered, self-centred brat. I wish he'd been torn to pieces by a hound at the age of 15.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Curse you, internet, for making information so easy to find! It's quite killing conversation! I often find myself wondering about the answer to something, and mentally composing an LJ post about it, thinking that it might prompt a bit of conversation. Then I Google it, and find loads of other conversations about it, and all my questions and debates are answered, and never get around to making the post.

A few minutes ago, I was chasing a childhood memory. "Does anyone else remember...?" I was going to post, before describing the half-remembered item. "Oh! I remember those, too!" people might have said. "Now what were they called...?" And there would have been nostalgia and memories and brain-racking, and then someone would have supplied the name, and there would have been gratitude and praise.

But Google has told me. They were Wade Whimsies. And I never really liked them much, anyway.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
It always irritates me when fantasy novels use italics for made-up words. I know this is standard practice. I know this is recommended practice when using foreign words that are not yet commonly used in our own language. But it still annoys me. I can't stop myself from reading it with a bit of mental emphasis, and it continually slightly throws out my reading of a sentence. You'd think I'd have got used to it by now, but no. I'm the same with italicised ship names. For me, nautical tales are positively riddled with confusing emphases.

Totally unrelated to the above, several recent spam emails have had very pleasing subject headers. I seem to have deleted most of them, but these two remain:

"The debt locates the jaded account"

"The grumpy company inspires the cook."

I fear that I have been mistaken for a spy, and my failure to reply with the correct countersign will result in Consequences.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I know it is hardly news that train ticket pricing is an arcane mystery understood only by a faceless, red-eyed cabal OF EVIL!, but I found a particularly egregious example the other day. I was trying to book my train ticket to Summerfest, in which both directions of my journey will be on trains departing at about 9.45 - i.e. counting as off-peak journeys. In previous years, I've booked the train separately online, and have bought the ferry ticket on the day, but this time I remembered that it's possible to buy both together, by putting West Cowes in as the starting point of the train journey, rather than Southampton Central. I've done this before, and the total price quoted is the same as the price quoted if you buy each separately.

This time, they quoted me £115 for a single ticket, with a variety of returns starting at £215.* Since I've done this journey a couple of times before, I knew that this was badly wrong. Last year, the train cost me £90-something return, and the ferry is around £20 return. I redid the search, this time starting at Southampton. Single was £49.50, and the cheapest return was £102.

So because the non-train leg of the journey took place in peak time, the entire journey was charged at peak prices.

* When I went to check the prices just now, I was still quoted £115 for a single, but this time they'd decided that I was allowed to get a super off-peak return for £143. The other day, this was only offered as an option on the later train, not the one I wanted. At least, I'm almost certain this was the case, since I remember saying, "Look! Look!" and jabbing an angry finger at the omission, though I do of course have to entertain the possibility that I'm wrong. *sigh* I'm really not good at this ranting business, am I. "Grr! Grr! Outrageous! Shocking!... but of course I could be wrong." Although £143 for an off-peak return including the ferry is still £20 more than it should be, so I can still do a mild, limp rant. A sort of... grutter, or grumple, or something.

Cold water

Mar. 13th, 2013 01:03 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today's trivial rant is about the impossibility of buying small bottles of water that don't seem as if they have just melted off a glacier. I don't often buy bottled water, but when I do, it is one of the following two circumstances:

- I have to eat lunch when en route from one workplace to another, so buy a sandwich and some water to consume in my car at a viewpoint. In the winter, this usually means that I am very cold, so I don't want a drink that feels as if it's just been harvested in the Arctic.

- I'm out being touristy or doing a walk in the summer, and have got so hot and dehydrated that I want to down an entire bottle of water in one go, and I can't gulp icy cold water.

It can also be pretty hard to persuade people in restaurants not to put ice in your jug of tap water. When I was in America, "no ice, please," seemed to be interpreted as "only 50 ice cubes, rather than the 100 you would otherwise have given me." But even in Britain, I've several times answered "no" to the question "do you want ice and lemon?" only to get no lemon - thus proving that they've listened - but quite a bit of ice.

I realise that I'm probably in the minority in not liking icy cold drinks, but I can't be the only one. I wish shops would house at least a small proportion of their small water bottles and fruit juices outside the fridge.

Book series

Mar. 1st, 2013 10:10 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Today's rant is about books that are part of a series, but refuse to reveal what number volume they are. It must be a deliberate choice by the publishers, presumably done to boost sales by conning people into buying whatever volume is in their hand, without putting it back because they can't find book one.

I'm reading the Dresden Files at the moment, and the first six volumes say "book X of the Dresden Files" nice and clearly on the cover, but from then on, the books - same edition, same cover design - just say "the Dresden Files." Granted, it's clearly a series that's been written on the assumption that people might be reading out of order - there are paragraphs of new reader exposition dotted throughout all the later volumes - but there is a lot of ongoing story arc that runs from volume to volume, so reading out of order would give you a lot of spoilers for earlier books.

In some series, the reading order really doesn't matter. My impression - not supported by any attempt to gather evidence - is that these books do indeed go out better in the library when they don't have prominent numbers of the spine. People can start with whatever book happens to be to hand, without being deterred by the absence of book one.

But I've also read trilogies that are really just one long story split over three volumes, and even then sometimes they refuse to admit even that they're part of a series at all, let alone what volume they are. I've picked up books that look exactly like a self-contained novel, and have scoured them all over in every possible place to find any evidence of a series, and found nothing. Then I to turn to the blurb and read, "After the shocking and unexpected SPOILER!, all the characters are doing INCREDIBLY SPOILERY THINGS! in an INCREDIBLY SPOILERY PLACE!" which sometimes makes me sigh sadly, and say, "That sounds like a book I would have really liked... were it not for the fact that you've just gone and spoiled it all for me! Grr!"
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
So, Peppa Pig's optician is Mr Pony. I realise that I'm not four and therefore Cannot Possibly Understand, but I refuse to accept that ponies can be opticians. Even in the most anthropomorphised of worlds, ponies cannot possess sufficiently flexible hands to deal with delicate implements or grind lenses (and you're probably going to tell me that opticians don't actually grind lenses at all, but have expert lensgrindy chaps to do this, but I don't care because I'm ranting, and nobody ever lets facts get in the way of a good rant.)

Why a pony? Why not an animal associated with good eyesight, such as a hawk (though I imagine he wouldn't get much custom from small furries) or even a rabbit (carrots, and so on.) Maybe it's a bold statement of equal opportunities - "if you want it badly enough, you can do anything," and all that nonsense that is peddled in children's books, in the context of dogs learning to fly just because they dare to dream, and slithery animals with no legs! becoming tap dancers, and the like...

But, no, I'm sorry, but ponies cannot be opticians!


Nov. 20th, 2012 09:35 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Here are some overdue rants, which I was seething madly over on Friday, without the internet access necessary to inflict them on anyone else.

1. The ferry gangway is wide enough for two people if they both tuck themselves in fairly close to the side. However, if someone walks slap-bang in the middle of the gangway, nobody can get past them. Why is it that very slow walkers invariably do this? They usually shoulder their way to near the front of the queue, so they can ensure that they delay the maximum number of people. An enormous gap opens up in front of them, so they must know that they're walking much slower than everyone else, but still they plod along, while hundreds of seething commuters are banked up behind them like water behind a dam. Grr! Rant! Rant! Rant!

2. How can anyone actually enjoy shopping? I had to visit John Lewis in the big shopping arcade in Southampton. The arcade is a sea of noise and blundering crowds, who cut in front of you, and stop at the top of escalators to dither, and meander around oblivious to their surroundings. Outside the arcade there is currently a market with children's fairground rides, all blaring out loud conflicting music. To get into John Lewis, you have to brave the hideous stench of a million perfumes. The whole place is set up like a labyrinth to try to trick you, and there isn't even a nice simple Coats department, but about a hundred million separate places where coats lurk, most of them colonised by inconsiderate browsers who have surrounded themselves with an enormous pool of shopping bags, and make no attempt to shift to the side to allow someone else to browse beside them. I am normally quite willing to accept that other people might love things that I detest, like raw carrots, but a busy shopping centre is so beyond enjoyable to me that I really can't comprehend how anyone might derive pleasure from being there.


Aug. 8th, 2012 01:17 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I see that David Cameron is calling for a more competitive ethos in school sport in order to create more champions. Thinking about my experience with school sport, I think I rather enjoyed it at primary school, when it was all about having fun. Although I'm sure I spent much more time inside reading, writing and drawing than I spent outside, I did quite a few physical things at lunch time and in spare time - playing swingball (badly), ran around pretending to be Swallows and Amazons, and did a lot of skipping games in the playground.

Then I went to secondary school, and it became all about competitive team games in which it suddenly mattered that I wasn't very good. I didn't mind cross country as much, since it mattered to nobody but myself if I came in near the bottom (and it didn't matter to me, either, since cross country wasn't something I cared about winning), but I hated being forced to play in a hockey game, when I had very little idea of what I was supposed to do, and even less ability to actually do it... but was horribly aware that the entire team would be let down if I failed to perform. This produced stress and terror, which of course created an even stronger barrier to learning and improvement.

Competitiveness is all very well, and is probably excellent for people who are moderately good at sport, but for those people who are never going to be that good, I don't think it's the answer, especially when it's done in a team. What is the goal of school sports? To create a few more Olympic champions and forget the rest, or to encourage millions of children to do a little more exercise and improve their overall health as a result? I think my attitude to sport at school would have been enormously improved had we been sorted into sets, as in maths, with only the top sets playing competitive team games. For competitiveness to work, you need to feel that you have a chance. When we played versus mode in Left4Dead a few years ago, and lost 70 percent of the close-fought matches, it was fun. When we were slaughtered in 100 percent, it quickly became no fun at all, and most of the team stopped playing entirely.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I think I've ranted about the milky part of this post before, but what's the use of a good rant if you can't repeat yourself?

Driving home just now, I heard that the Radio 2 lunch time phone-in is yet again going to lambast some politician for admitting that he doesn't know the price of a pint of milk. Apparently this is proof that he doesn't live in the real world, but presumably lives on a pink cloud and gets silver unicorns to buy his milk from the friendly neighbourhood grocery dragon.

It always annoys me when the ability to quote the price of a pint of milk (specifically milk, as opposed to bread, potatoes or whatever) is taken as proof as being part of the "real world." For one thing, politicians can just learn it by rote. But I don't know the price of a pint of milk, either. We have an old-fashioned milkman who leaves milk on the doorstep, for which we pay by direct debit, which is budgeted for but on a monthly basis. When we need to top it up - which is very seldom - we almost always buy other items alongside the the price at the time, and I notice the price when shopping and add it up mentally, but I don't bother to remember it afterwards. It changes from shop to shop, anyway - and, besides, I'm more likely to buy 2 pint cartons, rather than single pints, anyway, since they're cheaper.

EDIT: I realise now that the above paragraph could read as if I'm sitting in some ivory tower of affluence, failing to understand what it's like to have to make every penny count. For this I apologise. However, even when we were living on a very tight budget, I had no idea what milk cost, because Pellinor was unemployed so did all the shopping. The last time this issue came up, I asked a lot of people if they knew the cost of a pint of milk. These included several people who really really struggle to get through the month financially. None of these people knew, either - one because they never used milk, one because their partner did all the shopping, and one because they always bought 4-pint packs since they were more cost effective, or else looked out for special offers and "reduced to clear" offers. None of them could quote off by heart the price of very much at all, even though the cost of their shopping was very important to them.

I also have no idea what stamps cost. This is probably indefensible.

What is this "real world" that people are lambasted for not living in? What is this "real life" that people are attacked for being out of touch with? Doesn't everyone live lives that are real to them. Everyone has their own fears and worries and tensions, no matter what their outward circumstances. Why are some lifestyles more "real" than others? And why does the ability to quote the price of a pint of milk (as opposed to a pound of potatoes or a loaf of bread) have anything to do with any of it?
ladyofastolat: (Default)
So I decided that I wanted to see the Avengers movie one more time. Last weekend was out, due to coughing, so this weekend ended up looking like my last chance, since we're down to one showing a day now, and the weekday showings are too late for me to want to go to on a school night. I dithered considerably about whether to go this afternoon or not, since on the one hand, I wanted to see it, but on the other hand, I liked the idea of having an entire uninterrupted day to spend madly indulging in displacement activities to Write Stuff. I decided to go in the end, but the timing was very tight, due to a desperate rush to get to the end of a scene before leaving. If I was quick buying the ticket, I thought I should be able to arrive at the screen towards the end of the trailers, with a few minutes to go before the film itself started.

As usual, I went to the self-service machines, which have changed in the last few weeks, and now shout annoyingly out loud. (I don't like it when self-service machines shout at me. I like then to stay decently silent, except perhaps to chirrup a little to acknowledge receipt of my commands. When they talk out loud at me, I want to say, "Sorry! Sorry!" about any delays, and I half expect them to start asking me about my holiday plans, in a dead voice that conveys a hint of an intention to hunt me down and kill me on said holiday.) Anyway, I went through all the proper motions, selecting the showing I was after, but when I went to pay, the machine cheerfully told me that it was sorry, but it was too late for me to buy tickets for that particular showing from the machine, but there were almost certainly still tickets available, should I wish to wander over to the box office and ask the friendly humans there.

The trouble is, the cinema no longer has a box office. Apart from the machines - that nobody but me ever seems to use - the only way to buy tickets is from the refreshments counter. I looked over at the refreshments counter, where the only staff member on duty was putting together a popcorn feast for a large and unruly family, while about 30 other people stood in a queue that looked as if it was in for the duration.

"Oh well," I thought, "it looks like I won't be seeing the film today, after all." Stoopid cinema.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
- "Unless you've been living under a rock..." This phrase normally precedes some statement of "common knowledge" that proves to be something not particularly universal at all, but confined to one subject area or country (e.g. American football or UK reality TV shows or whatever). It annoys me very much, with its implied sneering at anyone who doesn't happen to share the interests of the writer.

- "Oh, but of course I'm a woman, so I can multitask." Every woman I've heard say this has been demonstrably very bad at multitasking, even as they trumpet how good they are. Interestingly, they invariably stop whatever they're doing in order to give their full attention to their announcement of how good they are at doing two things at once.

- Vilification of men who leave the toilet seat up. Yes, I do think that things should generally be left the way you found them (unless the way you found them is broken and bleeding in the gutter, gasping "Take me to a hospital!") and I suspect that over 50% of toilet visits require the seat to be down, which means that the seat down position is a fair default, but I really don't see why it's such an unforgiveable sin to leave it up. If someone wants the seat up and finds it down, they put it up. Why is it such a crime to expect those who want it down and find it up to put it down themselves?


Jan. 21st, 2012 11:05 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
We're planning to go to Portsmouth for a couple of nights next weekend (Sunday and Monday, since I'm working on Saturday), since when we stayed there for my birthday, Pellinor couldn't get the day off work so I had to explore it by myself, and the whole thing was rather overshadowed by the fact that I was worried about Precious. We must have spent about 3 hours to date on dithering over hotels. The presence of a couch in the room adds significantly to my enjoyment of a hotel stay, since it allows me to get up and go and read while Pellinor's still asleep in the morning, and also gives us somewhere comfortable to sit and chat. However, the presence of a couch seems to be something that very few hotels bother to list. Small hotels where every room is different sometimes provide photographs of all their rooms, so you can do search and locate operations in order to snare your couch, but very very few of them seem to think that this is something that anyone would be interested in knowing about. Surely I can't be the only person who considers the presence of a comfy chair to be an important feature in a hotel room.

A similar thing happened when I was trying to find a self-catering cottage in the Scottish borders a few years ago. The number one feature we were looking for was for the cottage to be within walking distance of a pub that served food, so we didn't have to cook every night. Walking distance of a small supermarket/corner shop was also a plus. Most cottages bombarded us with information about their facilities, but very few bothered to mention proximity to pubs and shops. I can understand why those out in the wilds would be cagey about it ("Whatevertown and its restaurants are a few minutes away," said those cottages that were in the middle of nowhere ten miles from civilisation) but even those that were a few hundred yards from a good eaty pub often failed to mention the fact.

In other Grrs, Pellinor solved my "My new MP3 player isn't working!" grr... by peeling off the protective film that covered the screen. Rather than making the film transparent, like any sensible person would do, they'd covered the screen with black film with green icons on, exactly copying what the screen would look like if unresponsive and with a low battery. As a result, I'd spent ages prodding buttons, going "It doesn't work! No matter what I do, it just displays this picture of headphones! And look! I've charged the thing for 6 hours, and the battery's still half dead!" Why on earth would anyone think this is a good idea? (Or was I just being spectacularly stupid?)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I very much dislike pointy ears. No, I'll qualify that. Pointy ears are perfectly acceptable when in their proper place, which is on cats and hounds and fennec foxes and rabbits and hares and all the many other species of animal that have the decency to clothe their pointy ears in fur. I'll even allow Vulcans to exist in all their pointy glory without snarling at them for their ears, since those ears are subtle and their points are delicate in flavour. However, I have spent far too many hours of my life encountering computer generated elves whose ears are a good nine inches tall, culminating in pencil-sharp points that stick out from their hair like horns. They never wear ear-armour, either, not even the most warlike of pointy-ear-possessors, which piles bother upon bother, since these ears seem such an obvious weakness in battle. (Much like Buffy's huge and dangly hoopy ear-rings, which make me cringe whenever I see her fighting in them.) I refuse point blank to play an elf in any computer game, because the ears annoy me so much. No doubt I'd get loads of lovely racial bonuses, but... urgh! Ears! No!

Yeah, I know it's a kind of trivial thing to be ranting about, but it's something that's been annoying me in my ridiculously petty way for years, and sometimes petty bothers have to spill out.

Phone grrs

Nov. 17th, 2010 08:39 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I mentioned last night that it took me around an hour to successfully locate and install the software that allowed me to get pictures from my camera to the computer. When I connected the phone to the computer, it said in huge red letters, "Update now!" so I said yes. Afterwards, I discovered that this process had somehow wiped everything on my phone and reset it with a new style. The first thing I noticed was that the background picture had changed, which seemed innocent enough, but then I found that all the had icons moved to different places, and most of the icons that I use had vanished, replaced with things I didn't want. Then I found that it had changed my home page on the internet, wiped all my bookmarks, and lost my saved passwords. Then I found that it had erased all my contacts. Since this is a new phone, and I use it mostly for the internet, I didn't have many contacts in it, and they're all replaceable, but lots of people keep their entire address book in their phone, and losing it would be an enormous thing.

I can only assume that when I said "update now!" I was authorising all this, but, really, wouldn't you expect something to say, "this process will wipe absolutely everything you have saved on your phone! Are you sure?" before doing it?

Oh, and one more annoyance: the new system played an annoying little pingy noise for every letter typed. Trying to get rid of it, naturally I went to the "sounds" category in the settings, but couldn't find anything there that allowed me to get rid of it. Pellinor found the control eventually: in the "keyboard" section. While it can sometimes be hard to find the right category for a setting you want to change, who on earth decided that "get rid of a sound" didn't belong in the "sound" section? Grr!
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I was supposed to be getting a new mobile phone today. Actually - and I know that many people will find this quite amazing - it's my first mobile phone. I've had a work phone for some years, and since I'm allowed to make personal phone calls if I mark them on an itemised bill and pay the cost back, I haven't seen the need for a personal one. However, the hassle of having to do this means that I very seldom do use it to make personal calls, and because it's a work phone, if often ends up on silent, or languishing in a bag, so I miss the very few calls on I get on it. I'm not a very phone-y person, really, preferring email and the like, but I've come to realise that I do really need a phone of my own.

So I've chosen a new phone, which is about the cheapest I could find that allows internet access. And it was supposed to arrive today, but I got home to find a note through the door saying they'd tried to deliver it, but I was out. Not a problem, I thought, picking up the note and preparing to head back out again to pick it up from the depot ten minutes away. Then I noticed that they'd ticked the "we will try again tomorrow" option, and provided no way for me to change this. I know that some people work part time, and some people make trips out but are at home most days, but I would be willing to bet that the majority of people who are out on a Tuesday are also out on a Wednesday, so automatically trying to redeliver sounds as if it will be waste of the driver's time more often than not.

I just wish there was some consistency. Sometimes they leave them with neighbours, sometimes they take them to the depot, sometimes they redeliver, and sometimes I get packages left under plants or behind pots in the back garden, usually with a note through the door telling me where to look, though once with no note at all, meaning that I only found it days later by chance.
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
On the basis that one of the main purposes of LJ is to rant about rather trivial things, I would like to offer up a rant about handwashing facilities in public toilets.

A few weeks ago, I visited some public toilets in a beauty spot. The tap was the sort of tap that requires you to press down hard to get any water. So stiff was it that I ended up using both hands to do the pressing. Water duly gushed out... only to cut off the very instant I removed the pressure from the top of the tap. What sort of idiot can design a tap that only produces water when your hands are nowhere near the place the water appears? I did manage to get water out with the pressure of only one hand, but even so, water that vanishes the instant you try to put two hands beneath it is very silly...

Or is it? Is it an exercise in community bonding and team work, since the only way to wash your hands properly is to work together with an ally? Is it an attempt to encourage the development of good strong muscles and a supple body, since the only way you can get water when alone is to contort yourself and use your foot? Or is it all some hideous practical joke, and the videos are even now being posted on Youtube?

Then, today, I visited some public toilets in a town. They'd done away with sinks completely, and installed two of those holes in the wall that dispense soap, water and air at prearranged intervals. These two holes in the wall served eight cubicles, so there was of course a queue for using them, far more so than when the washing and drying is separated.

When my turn finally came, I put my hands into the hole. Nothing happened. I waved my hands around. Nothing happened. I put them in deeper and waved them around... and suddenly a ridiculous amount of soap squirted out and landed on my wrists. Then came far more water than anyone could ever need to wash normal sized hands, as opposed to a giant's paw, followed by a blast of air. Mine went on for ages, and I always get bored drying my hands, so I wandered off with them wet, leaving the person behind me unable to start washing their hands until the machine decided to stop blowing air around. The person next to me must have annoyed their machine, since they got a tiny blast of air that lasted about two seconds. They weren't happy with this, so stayed there for another cycle, watching soap and water fall on stony ground, before attempting to dry their hands again. Meanwhile, the queue was getting bigger and bigger...
ladyofastolat: (Default)
As I librarian, I am, of course, very aware of the problems of classification, and I know there is no way on earth that a supermarket can arrange all its items so that everything is in exactly the place that every individual user would expect it to be, grouped next to the items they want it to be next to. I just above forgave them when I trawled up and down the aisles for twenty minutes searching for cream, only to find it on an end-of-aisle display not all that far from the milk. (I only went up and down. When I search and search for an item and fail to find it, it's always always on and end-of-aisle display facing the back of the shop.) I forgave them their hard-to-find tomato puree and dried onions, since I wasn't all that sure where I'd have put them myself.

However, I can not imagine any classification system in which stock cubes should be shelved on the end of an aisle of ice cream, just opposite the section devoted to pet food. I wouldn't have found them at all, had I not suddenly remembered that stuffing - a thing I'm inordinately fond of and therefore buy in great amounts - was shelved on the end of one of the frozen food aisles, miles away from all the rest of the room temperature food. (Pellinor's Catalogue Of The Thousand Pies tells me that the correct term for these products is "ambient.") Following this hunch, I charged off towards the stuffing, and found stock cubes on the end of the adjacent aisle, but I would have given up and gone out without them were not for this knowledge obtained as a result of my stuffing addiction.

Oh, and the other thing shelved on this end-of-aisle display between the ice cream and the cat food? Chewing gum. Analyse that, Mr Dewey.

Actually, I suppose the true moral of this story is that I really ought to ask for help, rather than trudge endlessly up and down the aisles in fruitless quests, but asking for directions is something that I don't do. And, yes, I do come out as categorically male in all those silly internet tests.
ladyofastolat: (probably ritual)
I watched Digging for Britain last night, which was about recent archaeological discoveries pertaining to prehistoric Britain. I found it quite interesting, and looked up some more information about it, only to find that it was episode two. What on earth could episode one be about, I wondered, if episode two started with the very earliest evidence of human habitation of the British Isles? Episode one, it turns out, was about Romans. Why? Why? Why? Why on earth would anyone want to make things like this out of chronological order? I find it quite baffling.

Anyway, the sunny intervals the BBC website promised me are finally looking imminent, and the rain has stopped for now, so I think I'll go out for a walk. I'd hoped to do an epic trek along the cliffs of the south-west coast, but I don't trust the rain not to return, so think I'll limit myself to the built-up coast near Cowes. I'm working tomorrow and dancing on Sunday, but the forecast for Monday looks more promising, so perhaps I'll tackle the cliffs then.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I was walking past a hairdressers' the other day, and saw their prices prominently displayed in the window. The cheapest women's haircut was three times the price of the cheapest men's cut. Even the most expensive men's cut was more cheaper than the cheapest women's cut. I realise, of course, that most women have hairstyles that are more complicated and time consuming to produce than most men's hairstyles. However, some men have very fancy hairstyles, and some women have very simple ones. When I was a child, the hairdresser used to cut my hair dry. Then I became a teenager, and suddenly the hairdressers swore blind that it was impossible to cut hair without washing it first, then blowdrying it afterwards. My hair was the same, and the style was the same, but suddenly the hairdressers insisted on all these extra expensive stages. It all seems like a bit of a con.

It was especially annoying since the whole washing thing was riddled with awfulness. I hated the feel of all the extra horrid things they insisted on putting in my hair so much that I had to wash my hair as soon as I got home, to get rid of them. They always used shampoo that I was allergic to - despite me warning them - and then sneered in a disapproving fashion when they noticed that my scalp was all red and irritated. ("Do you use a cheap shampoo?" they'd say, dripping with disdain.) I was paying extra money to get a dose of superior sneering, a dash of allergic reaction, and a whole lot of annoyance.

Which is why I did something rather rash and drastic with scissors.

In other news, I've often chuckled at those lists that reveal how many people each year were hospitalised because of clothing-related accidents, and the like - injured by killer socks etc. Today I was almost one of them. I forgot to pack any skirts or trousers when going to a folk festival last year, so borrowed a skirt from someone else, and rushed out and bought the first trousers I found, which were three-quarter length, with a decorative cord around the hem of each leg, held there by being threaded through a series of little loops. It's always looked a bit traily and messy, but today it almost killed me. I was going downstairs, when the big toe of one foot got caught in the cord of the other leg. I would definitely have fallen headfirst downstairs were it not for the fact that I've got cats. I never used to grip the bannister when going downstairs at home, but too many near-misses involving thundering cats have taught me always to grip onto it for dear life.

The cords have now been removed. The cats have ritually killed them.

Apart from that, I've spent most of the weekend playing Assassin's Creed 2. I killed the pope today, but he was evil, so that's okay.


ladyofastolat: (Default)

September 2017

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