paragraph planet – part 3

Spurred on by restarting my creative writing class last week, I decided to have another go at submitting an ‘exactly 75 word story’ to the brilliant Paragraph Planet again (see my other published efforts here).

I am absolutely ecstatic that it has been published today – probably happier than I should be 😉

You can see it featured on their front page today, but here it is anyway.

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paragraph planet – part 2

As per my previous blog post on Paragraph Planet back in January, I am very excited as I made another ’75 word story’ submission on Tuesday – and it has been published today!

Huzzah!

You can see it today on their front page, but here it is anyway 🙂

a disgrace to my gender?

I'm All For Girl Power!
I’m All For Girl Power!

I know that by posting something like this I am prone to open myself up for attack, but I am genuinely interested in hearing the ‘other side’ of my argument on this subject.

I don’t understand women-only groups.

I am quite loud online (I hate the word ‘prolific’ – I just think of myself as being noisy), I have met quite a lot of people in various circles.  Although I suffer from chronic shyness (ARGH! STRANGER DANGER!!), I have found that a swift couple of vodkas and a huge deep breath (and probably a little too much laughing) gets me through these initial meetings, and I then really enjoy myself, and love meeting such a wide variety of people.

Due to me spending so much time online, and often meeting people in ‘real’ life, I seem to be invited along to quite a lot of stuff.

Today is a case in point.  I received four email invites today.  One for a local group, one for a blogging group and two for general networking / ‘thought platform’ (??) opportunities.

And each one of these four was for a women-only group.  So, I wont be going to any of them.

I like women, I think they’re great.  I do think that in certain areas they seem to be over-shadowed by men or not taken quite as seriously, but I honestly believe that women-only groups in these situations serve not to empower women, but to prove that they ARE different to men.  They highlight the differences rather than proving the similarities.

I’m not saying that there should be no women-only groups at all – I can understand groups where women want to talk / act freely, especially for religious or cultural reasons, but for example one of the group meetings I was invited to today is supposedly to give women a stronger voice in media roles and has many ‘prolific’ women speakers.

Surely women already think that they need a stronger voice, so you’re kind of preaching to the converted.  Wouldn’t it be better all round if all of those women were just meeting with a group of people working within the media (apparently including bloggers I’m guessing, otherwise I have no idea why I was invited!) whether they are male or female?

If there is some kind of re-education about gender equality needed, then why aren’t the men being included in this?

Perhaps I am completely missing the point, but then I have never even seen the point of ‘girls nights in/out’ either.  As far as I’m concerned, if I fancy a party, I want to ask my friends along.  that may turn out to be all girls just due to circumstance, but I have never felt the need to seclude them from proceedings.

Come on – I would love it if someone could really tell me why I am so very very wrong on this matter.  I am totally for girl power (I’m in no way an anti-feminist) – but I’m all for boy power as well – if they’ve got what it takes!

customised shoes from gemsville at etsy

A friend of mine recently ordered some shoes for her daughter, and posted the photos on Facebook.  I was so impressed with them that I decided to get some for The Girl.

The Girl’s absolutely favourite film ever is Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli.  It is rather surreal, which completely appeals to The Girl.  Chihiro’s parents eat too much food, so an eil witch turns them into pigs.  Chihiro desperately tries to find help to return her parents to their usual form.  She meets a boy who is also a dragon-spirit (Haku). Together they encounter the evil witch and  her twin sister who is good. Another spirit they meet is No-Face who at first is a people-eating monster but his time with Chihiro and Haku has a positive effect on him!

As I said – rather surreal. A bit like The Girl.

After seeing the shoes that my friend had made up, I realised that the Spirited Away animations would be a good fit with Gemma of Gemsville designs – so after a few emails exchanged she sent me her proposed designs and rough drawings, and I happily paid my £25.

I think you can see how happy The Girl was with her surprise 🙂

Chihiro and Haku as a dragon
The good sister
Even the backs are pretty
Haku and No-Face
Happy child!

 

the world through my eyes (part 2)

Further to my previous post, here is another time that my (lack of) height always becomes an issue – in an ‘audience’.

This is my view of David Lammy MP last night at the House of Commons.

Just a teeny-weeny bit of David Lammy was visible to me!

Luckily, his voice carried incredibly well – which is good, because he had some good stuff to say about the riots, what had obviously happened in his constituency, some lovely words about what we had all achieved etc.

By the time Yvette Cooper came to speak to us, I had managed to move forward.  But to be quite honest, I think I would’ve preferred to hear David Lammy speak a bit more 😉

I could see almost ALL of Yvette Cooper! (ooer)

(PS – although this was in the House of Commons, I do NOT want to get into any political discussion (hate it!) this is purely meant to be about my literal view point, not my political one!) 😀

something happened yesterday

No wonder they're called the 'happy couple'!

I am on call all this weekend, which has been a great excuse to NOT do anything about something that was happening in London yesterday.

I have managed to avoid all things Royal Wedding, which has made me a VERY happy girlie indeed.  And what is making me EVEN happier, is the fact that the media (both commerical and social) can just go back to normal – hurrah!  I no longer have to cringe while I read or listen to anything at all!!

I have managed not to see the dress, not to see anyone’s outfit, not to see the apparently ridiculous hat that one of the Fergie princess’ was wearing, not see Fearne Cotton and not see how miserable they were looking – but unfortunatekly, I have obviouslymanaged to HEAR about all these things, thanks to Twitter & Facebook!

No, I am not miserable (as I said, I am actually very happy indeed – I will get extra money for having been on call for an extra Bank Holiday day, so thanks for that royalies) –  and I wish them all the luck, just like I would with anyone getting married (with a few exceptions), but I couldn’t give a toss about the royals, and I don’t ‘do’ weddings generally.  Although at least it was probably more interesting than when Charlie-boy married that God-awful bint 30 years ago!

Anyway, tomorrow night, I get to go to a party, which I am really looking forward to – and has nothing to do with any of it at all. Yay!!

Oh yes, and I finally finished watching Season 2 of House, so I can drag my arse into 2007!

the one where i finally solve an old mystery

Twenty years of annoyance with a ‘family mystery’’ came to an end a couple of weeks ago – and I finally laid it to rest this week.

When I was very young – probably about 7 or 8, my mum was very into electronic music – think Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield and the like.  That wasn’t ALL she was into of course, I was also brought up at that time on a pretty varied vinyl diet of Boney M (love), Beatles (hate), Rolling Stones (ambivalent), Simon & Garfunkel (love), The Carpenters (secretly love), Abba (indifferent) and The Soundtrack To Hair (hate!).

Anyway, there was one particular album that I remembered my mum playing quite frequently, that to my juvenile ear had a track that sounded just like aliens singing.  I used to love it at the time, and used to sing along in my bestest alien voice.

When I ‘left home’ at 17, CDs were just coming out and I gradually built up my collection, but there were a few CDs that I admit I bought simply because I used to put them on and think of my mum and childhood – I got War of the Worlds which was always a favourite, but I also got Oxygene and Tubular Bells simply for the memories.

So, at about 18/19, I asked my mum “What was that album you used to have with the aliens singing on it?” and she looked at me like I’d just murdered a family pet “Aliens?  Aliens singing?  Why on earth would I have an album of aliens singing?!”.  So, I tried to sing it…difficult to sing an electronic song that you last heard half your lifetime ago that doesn’t actually have any lyrics.

This obviously meant absolutely nothing to my mum, and she dismissed it with a well-rehearsed glare.

Over the years, I have heard this particular track in my head many many times, but never heard it anywhere else.  And even with the fantastic invention of the internet, how do you find a track that has no words?

There have been occasions when I have thought I am on the verge of remembering it, or finding it, and none more so than a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Dog Soldiers with The Man.

As we were watching, a piece of classical music started (just a piano) that was vaguely familiar.  I realised I’d heard it a few times – but then suddenly realised that in my head, I was hearing it electronically.  I sat up suddenly and reached for my laptop.

This wasn’t the aliens singing track of my memories, but…it was the track before it on the album!!!

I crossed my fingers and typed “Dog Soldiers Soundtrack” into Google.  Result!  I found a listing that included Debussy’s Clair de Lune.  Hmm, that sounded familiar.

I typed “Clair de Lune” into YouTube and found the exact piece of music that had been in the film.

So, from there I typed in “Electronic Debussy Lune” into Google and started sifting through the results.

I got a link to my favourite Last.FM of all things!  Isao Tomita meant nothing to me, but when I clicked on the sample, that was it!  That was the album!!

It was only a couple more clicks that helped me get to this video.  Listen to the whole thing for a taste of my childhood, but especially listen from 1:20 to hear what I believed were the singing aliens.

Obviously, the first thing I did was go onto Play.com and find the exact album that my mum had owned (I checked the track listing) and a couple of days later it was in my grubby little hands!

So, I took it away with me, and when my parents turned up for a couple of days, I sat them down and went through with my mum again “What was the album you used to play that had the singing aliens on it?”.  And then I tried the electronic music angle.  “Jean Michel Jarre?” she said, “Vangelis? Mike Oldfield?”

Nope.

So I put it on – and she happily joined in with all the various sounds, and remembered it all, but couldn’t for the life of her remember the name of the album, or who it was by.

"Mr Spock, bring on the singing aliens!"

Snowflakes are Dancing by Isao Tomita, you have caused me endless frustration, but you have been so worth it – even just to see the enormous smile on my mum’s face when we sat and listened to it together again yesterday – the first time in 30 years. 🙂  (and not only are there aliens singing on it, but the picture of him on the cover looks like Mr Spock!)

Mystery solved.  Case closed.

warn your folks!

Yes, I Googled 'Silver Surfer'. This wasn't quite what I was after...

Yesterday, I took my parents out for a lovely lunch as part of my mum’s Christmas & birthday presents.  More on that later though, first of all I promised them that  I would blog about something that they experienced recently as they were worried about someone else being scammed.

My parents are pensioners (as you would expect at my vast and lofty age).

So, on Wednesday, my dad answered the phone and a (foreign-sounding) man asked him

“Good afternoon, is that Mr P?”
“Yes”
“Mr P, I am calling from Gold something-or-other, affiliates of Microsoft and I am sorry to have to tell you that you have a virus on your computer”
“Do I?”
“Yes, we can see from here that there is a virus, but I can talk you through the steps of how to get rid of it”
“OK”
“Are you at your computer now?”
“Yes” (even thoguh he wasn’t, good old dad!
“OK, can you see the icon that says XYZ etc etc………..”

After a while, my dad cut him off.

“Look, you might as well just stop there, I’m not going to be doing any of this.”
“But Mr P, we need to get rid of your virus”
“Thank you. Goodbye”

And my dad hung up.  Immediately, the phone rang again.

“Mr P, you must not put the phone down on me.  This is very serious.  Do you not want the help with your computer?”
“No, I don’t.  Can you give me the name and number of your supervisor?”
“Yes, I can, but only AFTER I have gone through these important steps with you to get rid of this virus”
“No, if you do not give me your supervisor’s details, I am putting the phone down again.  I will not be talking to you, please do not call me again.”
“I can’t do that Mr P”

So my dad hung up again.  And the guy immediately called back again.

“Mr P, you are a bad, bad man, you must not hang up on me again.  This is vital.”
“This is harrassment, do NOT call me again.”
“I will keep calling you until you listen to me Mr P.”

So my dad hung up.  And the phone rang again, but my dad didn’t answer.  And the guy left a mesage saying what a bad man he was, and how the virus was very nasty and he didn’t know what he was doing.

The guy rang another 5 or 6 times, and then eventually got bored.  No number showed up, 1471 didn’t work, and my dad hadn’t caught the supposed name of the company.

I was horrified.  My dad said that the only reason he hadn’t actually fallen for it was because ages ago I’d told him about VPN etc and how you could access one computer from another as long as you entered codes and protocols etc giving them access.  I am SO glad I told him about that, as my dad does all his banking online and has a load of stocks and shares that he maintains too.  I am NOT the most tech-savvy person in the world, and I hate to think what they could get access to.

Then my mum said “This isn’t the first time either”.  A woman called in December and said that my mum had a virus on her computer, and to go to it now so that she could talk her how to get rid of it.  When my mum asked how she KNEW that she had a virus, the woman said “Well, when you first turn the computer on, do you get a little egg-timer appear before you are able to use it?”, “Erm, yes”, “Yes, that is how you can tell that you have a virus.”  My mum just said “Oh, go away.” and put the phone down.

Now, I hadn’t heard of this before, and all I can think of is that my parents are somewhere on a list of PC-user pensioners.  I really think that this is targetting older people who are more likely to be less tech-savvy than younger people, as I don’t know who would get away with saying that an egg-timer is the result of a virus!

I know that WE wouldn’t fall for it, and you probably wouldn’t either – but please, warn your parents/grandparents not t0o fall for such a scam!  I have promised my folks that I’d spread the word – and I have now done my duty, like a good daughter.

In my next entry – food!!! 🙂

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