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December 24, 2004

Tidings of the Season

All is peaceful here, though my children and husband will surely arrive home soon. So this is a good time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. We sent two Christmas cards this year:

Santa Claus as an iPod person, with the message 'Wassail'

iPod Santa

A picture, drawn by Marianne, of animals in a forest looking at a Christmas tree

Marianne drew this picture for the family cards

And most of the cards also had a picture of the kids; taken in Epping Forest last month on a tree particularly well-optimised for climbing.

Hope you and all your families are having a restful and peaceful holiday.

Posted by Alison at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

The Better Mousetrap (Christmas edition)

So there was a big pile of Krinner Christmas Tree Stands in Homebase. "oh, yeah, that's a no-brainer", said Steven. It works just as described; open ratchet, insert tree, ratchet up levers, let go; total elapsed time about 8 seconds vs. 10 minutes or so for old tree. You only save 10 minutes a year, but goodness, it was a stressful 10 minutes. It also looks loads smarter than our old tree stand (and in fact smarter than the tree skirt we had covering the old tree stand). As for the tree, this year we have a Fraser fir, which smells divine, looks the right shape for a Christmas tree, and has branches strong enough to hang ornaments on and sparse enough that there's room to. On all these points it compares favourably with the incomprehensibly-popular-in-the-UK Nordman fir; we will have to see how the needle drop is.

Posted by Alison at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Dates for Your Diary

Anyone coming to the UK for Interaction next year and who likes the sort of music I do should note that Cropredy 2005 is definitely happening, and is the weekend after Worldcon. Gosh, I do hope they get Richard Thompson, Levs Acoustic and Jah Wobble.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a really good reason to come over to the UK (ie, not a Worldcon), then you might like the first Big Session Festival, which is 17-19 June. No website yet (we learnt about it at the gig last night) but confirmed are Oysterband, Eddi Reader, Eliza Carthy, Show of Hands, Martin Simpson and obviously more to come. Main stage is indoors I think (the De Montfort Hall, Leicester) and tickets go on sale tomorrow. We really enjoyed the last mixed indoor/outdoor festival we went to (Crawley). We will almost certainly be at both of these I should think.

Posted by Alison at 11:10 AM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2004

Back in the Groove

I've been neglecting the blog ; twas all covered with spammy weeds when I arrived this evening. But now, a quick dose of paraquat has sorted all. If you've commented recently, there's a chance you got torched along with a bunch of people quoting Shakespeare and selling stuff I don't want.

Meanwhile, Tibs writes to tell me that my previous entry is quoted in the pages of MacUser. I don't think this will be sufficient to make me buy the mag or anything, but they did give the URL, so if you're from MacUser then welcome.

Christmas approaches like the bottom of Wile E. Coyote's Acme Cliff. We have fallen into a pattern. Each morning I rise and walk to the post office to queue up with the previous day's batch of 'you weren't in when we tried to deliver a package' cards. Each evening I arrive home and swear at the colour printer while trying to print Christmas cards.

<neepy interlude>
There is so much that is good about this printer (It's a duplex printer that costs less than most duplex units, and it has very cheap consumables). But. The stock, shipped driver from HP appears to simply Not Work Properly in OS X. Symptom is randomly stopping in the middle of prints and abandoning them, and it seems to be quite common. Not just occasionally, but every time it's asked to print a graphics intensive document longer than a page or duplex. So yesterday, having struggled for a good while, I downloaded Ghostscript and HPIJS. This driver works. But it has an odd feature where it autodetects the paper being used. The card stock I'm using for the Christmas cards is slightly shiny, and the autodetect (I think) reckons it's photo stock, tips too much ink onto it, and muds up the picture. Randomly some of the time.

Luckily the ink is so cheap for this printer that I'm reasonably sanguine about it: to give you an indication, about 25% of the card is covered with a monochrome lump of pink. I've printed 50 sheets, and the magenta cartridge (the half-size one that came with the printer) has reduced by about 10% -- in other words, I've used about a pound's worth of pink ink on my cards. (I printed 200 text-and-illustration cards for friends last weekend, with lots of throwaways because of the problem described above -- they'd been quoted �80 by a copy shop, and I used �3 worth of card stock and hardly enough ink to bother with).

If this had happened with my first, grotesquely expensive, inkjet printer I would be beside myself with distraction.

Meanwhile the option to select any number of copies other than 1 is greyed out, and I'm completely baffled.

I want to tell you about all the cute Christmas present ideas we've had, and fine products we've discovered. But I think you'd better wait till after Christmas so as not to spoil anyone's surprise. We have only one present left to buy, and we've designed one card and commissioned a second (thanks, Sue!). We have five separate social engagements this weekend, and more the next. We are seeing nearly all our close relatives, at locations all over England and Wales, in the next month. Not to mention quite a few of our friends.

We have tickets to see The Polar Express in IMAX 3D as a Christmas treat, and a definite plan to get to Aladdin at the Hackney Empire, which surely must be the only theatre in London without online booking of any kind, not even through third parties.

And none of that is what I wanted to write about. What did I want to write about: music. But that will have to wait for another day.

Posted by Alison at 01:30 AM | Comments (1)