« May 2003 | Main | July 2003 »

June 21, 2003

Splitting Headache

I'd had some wine with dinner. "Somewhere between moderate drinking and completely blotted," as I explained to the doctor. Lilian and I took advantage of last weekend's Patio Improvement Project, and sat out till midnight. It started to get dark about ten, and I used the rope light in earnest for the first time; it's much, much nicer than the security light that previously provided all our ambient outdoor lighting. When we reorganised the study, we freed up a pair of active computer speakers. I plugged in the iPod, set it on 'random', and we had music. "It's just like a party!" declared Lilian. Followed quickly by "you should have a party". True enough, and we're thinking about dates. It was a beautiful evening.

I walked through the living room on my way up to bed, and turned round for some reason. Stepping backwards, I tripped over the rocking dolphin, fell backwards, and hit the side of my head against the fireplace. Or the grate. I'm not sure. And then I lay on the floor for a bit, reeling. Steven asked me if I was all right. I lifted my head just long enough to decide that I had better put it down again if I wasn't going to faint, and to notice that it was dripping on the floor.

Now, I remember from my brother's childhood that even quite minor head injuries produce startlingly much blood. But it's different when it's your blood coagulating in pools. I comforted myself with the traditional unguent of the fan editor: "At least I will get a fanzine article out of this." After a couple of minutes it stopped bleeding so much.

Of course, we went to casualty, leaving Lilian asleep in charge of the kids. I made several bids for freedom; first arguing that it wasn't really bad enough to take to casualty, then asking the receptionist if there was any point staying. An hour later, when we saw the triage nurse, I asked if I could go home and sleep, and come back in the morning if I needed stitches. The answer was clear; my head injury was serious enough that I couldn't go home without seeing a doctor, but trivial enough that they were going to deal with everybody else in the room first.

Friday nights are traditionally exciting at Whipps Cross A&E; but in fact, it was entirely calm and I was well-looked after. The only thing that would have improved my visit, apart from being treated more quickly, would have been some means of lying down. I really, really wanted to lie down.

By about 4:30, the crowd had thinned out, and I saw a doctor, who checked far more things than I'd have thought of, sent me for a skull x-ray, ordered me stitched up, and sent me home. We were home by six.

Just in time, in fact, for the children to wake up, excited at the prospect of going to Marianne's school "Fun Run"; a more peaceful, lower-stress version of a Sports Day. Steven was, astonishingly, even more shattered than me; so I took them. I instructed Marianne on what to do if I suddenly keeled over, showed her the Head Injury aftercare card the hospital had given me, and walked slowly around the fair, mustering all the delight I could in the bran tubs, tuppence rolls, ping pong ball tosses and duck hooks.

Posted by Alison at 07:03 PM | Comments (3)

June 20, 2003

Accessible Representative No. 2

The second MP's blog; and this one hand-codes his HTML on his Red Hat box at weekends. Richard Allan is the Lib Dem IT spokesman and sits on the Information Select Committee. Posts so far have eschewed the political in favour of explanations of parliamentary procedure and the trials of multiple-browser website design. Richard conforms to the rule that only MPs younger than me are allowed to have blogs. Update: Turns out Richard Allan and I share something in common; unease about overly enthusiastic implementation of electronic voting. Apparently it was possible, in Sheffield, for many people to vote twice (though there's no evidence that anyone did):

The lack of security was introduced as the lesser of two evils when compared with the alternative which would have been to turn people away from any polling station that was offline or make them wait during the evening slowdown. It would have been unacceptable to keep turning people away or make them wait hours.

Posted by Alison at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2003

Happy Father's Day

Marianne and Jonathan climbing all over Steven

Posted by Alison at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2003

A Ton of Fanzines

We were still dithering about the coffee machine when the gas barbecue turned up its toes. This was not something we could leave till we were back in the black again, so we've bought this very cheap one. Some Assembly Required, so we haven't had a chance to try out the cooking yet.

Meanwhile, we've fine-tuned the grinder for cafetiere, so our coffee is no longer gritty. But this is not a long term solution. My anti-consumer principles are being sorely tested.

I note that DWP has acquired two new Ministers of State; but as I wasn't in the office yesterday, I don't know which one is Minister for Work and which is Minister for Pensions.

I was chatting idly to intercontinental traveller Damien, who was considering what to do with a ton of fanzines. I wondered if I had been responsible for a ton of fanzines, but in fact I reckon only about 7 x 30 x 250 x 5.625g = about 300kg. We'll have to have some sort of celebration when the cabal has distributed its own weight in fanzines.

Things Keeping Me Using Windows Dept: Popcap has released the deluxe, Windows-only, version of Typer Shark, the new name for Word Shark. This is my all-time favourite typing tutor.

US Cultural Imperialism Out of Control Dept: The other day, my resolve slipped and I bought coffee at EAT. As I paid for it, I noticed 'granola bars' by the till. What on earth? It's a UK company, and we have a perfectly good name for that combination of oats, butter and sugar: they're called flapjacks. I've emailed them to complain, so I'll let you know what they say.

And we've spent the entire day today Feng Shui-ing the dining room. Or, rather; tidying it up, ruthlessly excluding everything that doesn't belong there, and installing an indoor fountain that we were given for Christmas. That last has a bit of a mathomy feeling, but never mind.

Posted by Alison at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2003

Major Domestic Tragedy

After several years of good and faithful service, our filter coffee machine turned up its little toes last night, going postal and blowing fuses all over the kitchen as it went. We could, of course, just buy another filter coffee machine. But when researching options for doing so, our heads were turned by the discovery of domestic beans-to-cup machines.

Wow. What better way to spend my latte-free-lifestyle money?

Of course, they're roughly the size and price of a solid office laser printer. And we're supposed to be back in Anti-Consumer mode, after the troubling discovery that the amount of money on the currently-interest-free-credit-card is somewhat greater than the amount of money in the savings account that's supposed to cover it when the interest free period runs out. (And it's a *lot* of money, too.)

In other news, I read a little about Buddhism; and in particular the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, full of people who don't enjoy the simple pleasures of life because they're always faunching after the next consumer good.

Posted by Alison at 10:19 PM | Comments (7)

June 01, 2003

The Last Day of May

A hot Saturday morning; almost too hot for pancakes (but not quite). After the whiny spell where the kids demanded to know why they aren't allowed to stay inside watching telly in beautiful weather, we settled down to a few hours of hanging around. Then over to Bridget Bradshaw's vacated family home (location for Farber Day), for a house cleaning and pizza party as they get the house ready to sell. We counted up our pennies, but it turns out that a large four-storey detached house in Hampstead is just slightly beyond our means.

We travelled to Hampstead by train assisted bike; we've not done much cycling this year and it was rather too hot to go the whole way. Instead we cycled to Queen's Road, and picked up the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, which we took to Gospel Oak. This is a bit of a Cinderella line; as it goes round London it's not useful for many commuters, and it spent many years being unloved. But now there's a cycle ramp at our station, and help points, and, most astonishingly, a special carriage for bikes and their owners, with tip-up seats to tie your bike to and enough space to turn a tandem inside the train. This line is unusual for London in that you can take bikes on it at any time, even during weekday peak periods.

Of course, when we arrived at Gospel Oak we discovered that cycling isn't allowed on any of the paths leading onto the Heath from the station. One in particular is road-width and would be a perfect shared path. So we walked our bikes up onto the Heath, picked up one of the few cycle paths, and then cycled over to Bridget's. Cycling is a great way to discover things you never knew; the Hampstead Heath Lido is right by Gospel Oak station, which means it's entirely practical for us to take the train over to the Lido on one of the rare days in which outdoor swimming seems like a good idea in London.

Posted by Alison at 09:17 AM | Comments (1)