Monday, 28 December 2009

Away In Pret a Manger...

This made me smile - hope it does the same for you...from the very funny Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas 2009!

A happy Christmas to all my readers!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ah! The Magic of Christmas

Pinched from under the tree of the venerable Archie, discover which unwelcome Christmas gift you really are:

You Are a Fruitcake!

You taste like nothing else in this world.

And get ready, you're about to get tossed!

Ah, the wonder of Christmas...which will you be - the lumpy hand-knitted scarf and gloves or the celebrity autobiography?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Which Language are You?

This looks rather obvious, but:

You Are English

You are easy to understand, and most people are able to communicate easily with you. You say things simply and clearly.

You are flexible and not too hung up on rules or customs. You can go with the flow and change as needed.

You can speak simply or you can exercise your vast vocabulary. You customize you communication style to whatever setting you're in.

You are a very cosmopolitan and worldly person. If you like something from halfway around the world, you try to figure out a way to incorporate it into your life.

Mind you, it's very flattering to think that I have a VAST vocabulary, and that I am both cosmopolitan AND worldly. Are you as wonderful as I am???

Friday, 27 November 2009

We Are (Eighth Grade) Scientists

Well - nearly... I thought this was quite hard and was pretty relieved to pass. How will you do?

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 6/8 correct!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

It's Lego Puddock!

This is so much fun - found it over at casa az. Create a Lego you at Mini Mizer

Saturday, 5 September 2009

...Made of Mahogany

Five minutes after posting the musical instrument quiz, I found this great quiz over at casa az:

You are Mahogany

Stable and decisive, you lack the hyper energy of most orange colors.
To the extent that you are hyper, you save your energy for getting the important things done.
You tend to project a peaceful, relaxed vibe. You enjoy kicking back.
You love to feel cozy. You often rather wrap up in a blanket than go out for the night.

I am a Piano...

Morning everyone! Here's a fun quiz for a Saturday morning...or evening if you're in Oz...or Friday night if you're in the States...anyway, enjoy!

You Should Play the Piano

You are a true music aficionado who loves many musical style and eras.
You find music to be an escape. And you'd like to be relaxed and comfortable when you're making it.
You're very innovative, and you have a unique way of knowing what may sound beautiful.
There's a strong possibility that you could compose some of your own work songs quite easily.
While you have a lot of creative energy, you are also serious and conscientious.
Your musical talent needs time, practice, and lots of privacy to flourish.
Your dominant personality characteristic: your painstaking attention to detail
Your secondary personality characteristic: your natural tendency to be whimsical

Friday, 4 September 2009

Fun for Friday

It is absolutely chucking it down here in soggy Scotland, and making me feel very gloomy, so I was delighted to find this over at Archie's place - hope it brightens your Friday too...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Specks in Space

"Profound and humbling" is how this video describes the image that the Hubble Space Telescope came up with when pointed at a 'dead' part of space for ten days, and I couldn't put it any better. These two images of deep space have as big an effect on me as did understanding evolution for the first time. They make me feel insignificant and yet at the same time joyful at the amazing Universe we inhabit.

Enjoy and wonder!

Pinched from too many tribbles.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Shatner Does Palin

Pinched from the ever-talented toomanytribbles, here is William Shatner doing what he does best - bringing poetry to life...

Friday, 31 July 2009

Inspiring Quote of the Week

"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."

Jean Paul Sartre

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Cat or Poltergeist?

Pinched from the estimable Archie, here is the latest from Simon's Cat - pure genius and a salutory warning against cat ownership.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

So What Kind of Body (of Water) Are You?

Oh yes - it's quiz time again. This is so accurate I'm thinking of changing my name to Biscay...

You Are a Bay

You are a blissful, peaceful person. Some might call you spiritual.

You are easy-going and tranquil. You take solace in life's sweet moments.

You are sentimental and open-hearted. You love many people, places, and things.

You try to live an enlightened life. You are benevolent, noble, and intuitive.

He's Not My Brother...

Pinched from the fantastically talented toomanytribbles, here is Richard Dawkins doing what he does best - explaining science to us in a clear and understandable way:

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Truth and Beauty, Maths-style

In honour of my son, who has just graduated in maths, much to his mother's shock (if I've got a son old enough to have a degree then I must be really really old - aarrgh!) here is the perfect maths joke from the excellent xkcd:

I'm especially chuffed at actually getting this joke - unlike scientific proof, which can always be altered in the light of new facts, mathematical proof is absolute, immutable and eternal...gotta love it!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Don't Call Me Stupid...Unless I Am, Of Course

Pinched from the radiant Dorid over at the Radula, this is hilarious and at the same time rather disturbing. Geography's not my strongest suit - I'm not sure I could exactly pinpoint Iran on a map but I sure as hell wouldn't be getting it mixed up with Australia!

My favourite line from this vid has to be, from the guy trying to distinguish between the Israelis and the Palestinians - "Which ones are throwing the rocks?" Gotta love it.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Tilting at Windfarms

The other scientific thing that caught my eye over the weekend was a very well-written post over on Black Sun Journal about global warming and the future of energy use.

I have to admit that I am instinctively a bit of a global warming sceptic. On the one hand, I've always worried about using up resources of the earth that took millions of years to create - seems a bit reckless. On the other hand, I hate bandwagons and I dislike the fact that it is now socially unacceptable to question global warming as a fact, or the effectiveness of alternative energy sources.

So a good, well-reasoned argument in favour of the case for alternative energy production is very welcome, in this corner of the pond. Sean makes a good case for wind energy, for example. The only thing I wonder about is if wind energy was widely used throughout the world, surely weather patterns would be affected? If the wind is being turned into energy instead of powering its way round the world, it must have an effect. Anyone got any answers?

I like the sound of the halogen replacement bulb though and will certainly give them a go when they come down in price. It's the disposal of all our stuff that I think is as important as the energy itself and silicon sounds a lot better than mercury.

Right, that's enough clever stuff - my brain hurts. As an antidote, xkcd, as usal, has the answer...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Flares Are Back!

I'm feeling very scientific today so I thought I'd bring you a couple of items that I found in the blogosphere. First - flares are back! Well, actually it's sunspots that are back but flares make a better headline.

Over at Black Holes and Astrostuff Bob had a great post bringing us the news. Sunspots go through cycles of activity and inactivity, in pretty regular 11 year cycles. Our Sun has been in a period of inactivity for more than two years and scientists were beginning to be concerned. But they have just found out why things have been so slow - a large solar jet stream has taken longer than usual to reach the critical 22 degree latitude. Previous observation has shown that it is when the jet streams reach this point on the Sun's surface that sunspot activity begins.

Now, at last, the slowmo has reached sunspot central and, sure enough, the first significant sunspots in several years have appeared. Sunspots are useful because they help us predict solar activity, which in turn can affect telecommunications. It is also thought that they might have an effect on longterm climate change. It has even been suggested that sunspot cycles influence flu mutations and epidemics.

Anyway, it's good to see that they are back and that the Sun hasn't stalled. Here's a nice pic from Nasa to show what all the fuss is about:

Incidentally, you can observe sunspots yourself, using the same projection method that is used for looking at eclipses. I bought a Solarscope a few years ago and have used it for observing transits as well as sunspots. Or you can see the Sun remotely by checking in on the SOHO website. Happy spot spotting!

By the way - NEVER look directly at the Sun for more than a second or two, even if you are looking for sunspots and NEVER EVER EVER! look at the Sun through binoculars or a telescope - you WILL suffer serious eye damage...and then you wouldn't be able to see sunspots ever again, would you?

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Witty Blackboard

I don't spend all my time lurking round at Archie's, honest, but I couldn't resist burgling another brilliant jewel from him. To admire the other loot I have recently pinched, have a look at Saturday's post.

Anyway, Surviving the World has been going for a few years but it's new to me. Almost as wonderful as the mighty xkcd, here are a couple of funnies that caught my eye - this one is far too close to home, as I am getting about five hours sleep just now with all the damn daylight. And don't get me started on winter here...

And this one is for my Trivial Pursuit snob son:

My son may be 21 but he still tantrums if he doesn't win at Trivial Pursuit, especially if his mother wins by knowing the answers to all the pink questions...hee-hee.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Officially the Cutest Thing on the Web Today

Pinched from the usually curmudgeonly Archie, this is the cutest thing you will see all week. So long as you ignore the soundtrack, I defy you not to go "ah" yourself, especially near the end. Bliss! Thanks Archie!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Turning Gear Boxes Into Plant Pots

My father, who was affable but whose political views were somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, used to say, when anyone under the age of 30 came out with some liberal view on the world, "You'll grow out of it". This, of course, would send the victim into paroxyms of furious frustration and effectively put an end to any sensible debate, my father grinning with unconcealed glee at another argument won, another young pretender defeated. He was firmly of the opinion that people might start out as left-wing, wishy-washy liberals but, as they grew up and 'matured', the common sense appeal of conservatism would work its magic and everyone would ultimately come round to his way of thinking. Those that didn't were weirdy-beardies or feminists and thus, apart from being good for an entertaining debate, could be ignored.

Maybe out of spite, my views have gone in the opposite direction. I was very conventional and establishment as a young woman, and find myself becoming more radical the older I get.

For example, a few weeks ago, when I was in my non-blogging state, I saw this news item about a government proposal to charge companies, and possibly individuals for using their own workplace parking spaces. Initially I was outraged at this further interference by the Government in our everyday lives. In fact, I decided, if I ran one of the companies I would rather get rid of the car park altogether and turn it into a nice garden before I paid them a penny to park at my own place of work...and then an outrageous idea began to bloom in my head. What if all the car parks in cities were turned into public gardens? Would that be such a bad idea? In fact, wouldn't that be an absolutely gorgeous idea?

We have become so used to the idea of car as king that we seem willing to sacrifice everything in its name. Don't get me wrong, I love my car and I love the freedom that it brings. But just imagine what it would be like if we reversed the trend to pave paradise and turned car parks into gardens. Isn't that a lovely thought? Didn't it put a smile on your face, just for a second? Why couldn't we do it? And pay some attention to the pedestrian - the old, the young and the poor - give them something back to say thank you for putting up with our fumes and our noise and our speed these last thirty years. We'd all benefit because, after all, we are all pedestrians some time.

It makes me smile to think of the furious arguments I would have now with my father, if he was still around, knowing that his now well-into-middle-age daughter was letting him down by having such juvenile thoughts.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

This Quiz is Even Better...

Okay, okay, I'm doing anything to avoid writing a proper post. But I really, really like this Blog Things quiz. Based on the Enneagram system of personality typing, the questions are interesting but not too testing

You Are 4: The Individualist

You are sensitive and intuitive, with others and yourself.

You are creative and dreamy... plus dramatic and unpredictable.

You're emotionally honest, real, and easily hurt.

Totally expressive, others always know exactly how you feel.

At Your Best: You are inspired, artistic, and introspective. You know what you're thinking, and you can communicate it well.

At Your Worst: You are melancholy, alienated, and withdrawn.

Your Fixation: Envy

Your Primary Fear: To have no identity

Your Primary Desire: To find yourself

Other Number 4's: Alanis Morisette, Johnny Depp, J.D. Salinger, Jim Morrison, and Anne Rice.

Any other 4s out there?

Yes, But What Do You Look Like On The Inside?

The thing about being away for such a long time is that you have so many stories to catch up with. I can't decide which one to start with so I've given up and gone for a quiz instead, courtesy of Blog Things.

Your Soul is Welcoming

You are a warm hearted and open minded person. It's easy for you to forgive and forget.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you as larger than life and important. While this is true, they also think you're a bit full of yourself.

Your near future is still unknown, and a little scary. You'll get through wild times - and you'll textually enjoy it.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

These quizzes are complete tosh, of course, but this one was scarily accurate...maybe I'll try it again, answer completely randomly and see how I come out...How's your soul?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Puddock's Back!

Hello everybody! After a break of, I am surprised to see, nearly three months, I am dipping my webbed toe back into the waters of Blog Ocean.

It seems that many of us need to take some time out from blogging every now and then, either because real life intervenes, because we want to think about the direction of our blogs, or we are disturbed by the weirder side of the internet knocking on our cyber door. My reason was all of these and none of these, if that makes sense. I guess I just wanted to test whether blogging was still as important to me as it was when I first began, when it was, almost literally, a life saver.

A blogging buddy had written an interesting post in which she said that a cyber hug was never going to be as good as a real hug, and she really hit the nail on the head, I think.

Anyway, I'm BACK! I was going to post the most life-affirming, stick it to the man, antidote to the thieving political class thing I've seen in months - the Susan Boyle audition for Britain's Got Talent but Youtube won't let me embed it. Here's the link instead, in case you are the last person on the planet not to have seen it or you just want cheering up.

Susan Boyle Cheers Up the Nation

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Gone Fishin'

I'm taking a break from blogging for a while but I will still be lurking around everyone else's blogs, no doubt, so I won't be completely gone. Happy Spring everyone!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

All Around My Hat...

I have finally given in and accepted that I am middle-aged and gone out and bought a hat.

Not a glamorous feathers-and-froth wedding hat but a sensible, waxed cotton, keep-your-head-warm-whatever-you-look-like hat.

And, do you know, I'm already in love with it. I wore it to walk the dog yesterday and was completely snug in the cold wind. I fully expect to be signing up for a Saga tour, buying one of those cosy foot warmers, and ditching the frothy nightwear in favour of red flannel any day now.

The mad thing is that I don't mind. Could it possibly be that I am growing old gracefully?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Which Star Sign SHOULD You Be?

I am a Leo but really...

You Should Be An Aquarius

What's good about you: philosophical and idealistic, you are a great thinker
What's bad about you: you require a lot of space - it's hard to get close to you.
In love: you're quirky and playful, but you hate to be smothered.
In friendship, you're: likely to have many acquaintances and very few good friends
Your ideal job: pilot, snow boarder, or science fiction writer
Your sense of fashion: unconventional, unique outfits that turn heads
You like to pig out on: anything with garlic or unique spices

I agree with almost all of this - not sure about the snow boarding but everything else IS or SHOULD BE me!

Death Wish?

I have decided to move this post to my other blog, Rosehip or Prune? I felt that the things I was saying in it were too upsetting for the young and the normal who read this blog. Most people cannot bear to think about death, theirs or their loved ones', and I forgot that. I also wanted to develop my thoughts further and would have felt constrained here, so mosey on over to Rosehip if you aren't scared to peer inside my brain, otherwise here is a lovely picture instead...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Too Old, Too Thick or Too Boring?

Well, that little dream was nice while it lasted. After weeks of excitement and nervousness, waiting for the universities to decide if they wanted me as a student, the oracles have spoken and it is not good news - 4 rejections out of 5.

You can make 5 applications through UCAS, so I applied to three Scottish universities, two different courses at two of them, plus the third one. This last one has offered me a place but I don't think I'll take it. It was my third choice and I've had a couple of months to think about the reality of attending each Uni every day for four years. To get to this particular place, I'd have had to live in the city or have a pretty long commute - not what I'm looking for. And I really wanted to go either of the other two.

I am gutted. I knew that the courses are always heavily oversubscribed and that there were no guarantees. Nevertheless, it is dispiriting to know that my degree, my school grades, my Open University points and my passion for philosophy were not enough for them, especially as I am studying a distance learning module in that very subject with one of the rejectors at this very moment (not any more, I'm not - I've just withdrawn.)

So it's back to the drawing board. You'll forgive me if I go into a corner with my dog and a tub of ice cream for a while...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Protecting My Tribe

I've been struggling with a dilemma recently, now resolved, and I thought it was worth sharing with you all.

I now live alone, except for my little old dog. Pets are, as anyone who has them knows, a tie at the best of times. At holiday time, you either bung them in boarding kennels or take them with you. Even working can be an issue, as leaving them shut up in the house for eight or nine hours every day does not seem like a great way to treat a dog. Most of my friends who are out at work all day choose not to have dogs.

I've been lucky enough to based at home for many years, so have got used to fitting my needs in around those of husband and child as well as dogs. But now, it's just me and the dog, and I've been getting extremely itchy feet.

My dog was diagnosed with doggy dementia last year and so cannot be put into kennels any more. I was delighted that we got several short trips away last year, either to wonderful, understanding friends or to the rare hotel that takes dogs.

But I want to do more than have an odd night away. I want to go on proper holiday. I want to explore. I want to find a new place to live. The latest frustration was when I passed an audition for a radio quiz show - very exciting! Then I discovered the recording was to be 500 miles away and would need two nights away. My lovely son could dogsit for one night but not two. My dog is too batty to leave with any of my friends - what to do, what to do? I racked my brains for weeks.

I went through all the options. I talked it through with friends and family. And this is where it starts to get difficult. Almost everyone was of the opinion that I shouldn't be allowing the needs of a mere animal to be outweighing my own. I'm not sure what they expected me to do. Mind you, I'm pretty sure one or two of them would have had her whisked down to the vets before you could say Jack Russell. It was put to me that I was being overly sentimental about her or even that I was using her as an excuse for not going to the broadcast.

I was pretty confident that neither of these was the case. All I was facing was the same issue that any carer faces - restrictions on one's freedom because of the needs of the beloved one cares for. I decided that I had only two options - either take her with me on this long journey and try to turn it into a mini holiday or withdraw from the quiz and have another go another year.

I decided to withdraw. The journey would have been stressful for both of us and having her with me would have distracted from the experience of the quiz. I can enter the competition in a year or two so I am not losing anything. In the meantime I can keep on giving her as calm and happy a life as I can.

I haven't had a moment's regret since I withdrew. And then yesterday, by way of reward, I saw this scene:

After the dark depths of winter, the Sun had at last crept above the hill and was shining full into the house. My little old lady of a dog lay curled up in its warmth, sleeping contentedly. What a wonderful sight. I knew then without a doubt that I had made the right decision. She may 'only' be a dog but she has a right to a full and decent life. She is part of my tribe. I'm doing for her no more and no less than I'd do for my granny. There will come a time when her life no longer brings her pleasure and I will have to make the dreaded decision but in the meantime we'll carry on as we are, living a little more quietly than I would like but still enjoying walks and cuddles and licks and the occasional magic moment in the Sun.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Atheist Slogans

Found via the talented toomany tribbles, here are the latest tools in the Atheist Bus Campaign.

The campaign was begun by Ariane Sherine as a response to a bus advert she saw with the slogan “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on this Earth?”. Although the slogan was in itself harmless enough, when she visited the website referenced in the ad, she found the somewhat more disturbing announcement that, as a non-believer she was "condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell” and decided to do something about it.

A piece she wrote for the Guardian website quickly attracted moral and financial support and this month buses in London are trundling around the city with the energising slogan " There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life".

So much money was raised that an Underground card campaign has also been funded. There are four cards, with quotes from Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson and Katharine Hepburn, as well as the classic Douglas Adams observation above.

I have mixed feelings about such an in-your-face atheist campaign (I'm far too polite) but I love these cards. I'd love to see them as bumper stickers - I'd buy one.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Which Country Matches Your Sexuality?

Pinched from that scalliwag Archie, this racy quiz.

Your Sexuality is French

The average French person first has sex at age 17.

And the average number of partners is 8.

53% of French people are happy with their sex lives.

And 50% of France feels confident asserting themselves in bed.

I was pleased but surprised to match up with France as it more than flatters my (lack of) sex life, which has been much more that of a Womble than a breathy chanteuse.

How's about you lot?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A Philosophical Life (Student Version)

I have been pretty quiet the last few weeks, so apologies for that, my blogging buddies. What with all the domestic disasters (central heating, power, car accident, burst pipes) and feeling grotty too, my mind has been taken up just getting through the day in one piece.

However, through all the gloom (stirring music beginning to play in the background) I have been trying to make plans for the future. And thus I find myself a student-in-waiting!

I knew that I had to do something new with my life. Wafting around the house like Miss Havisham was not an option. I tried it but the cobwebs got up my nose. I thought about opening a bookshop (a long-held dream) but decided that the financial risk was too great. Then one day I was sitting in Costa reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus and I thought, "How I would love to do this every day". And the brain began to work and I thought "Why not?" and so, on Monday, I finally got my application sent off to UCAS.

I've applied to study philosophy and/or maths at various Scottish universities and I am very excited at the prospect. I have no idea whether I will be an attractive proposition or not. If I don't get in then I will have to find something else to do. But the main thing is that I have tried. I've reached the age where regrets are beginning to outnumber hopes for the future. I am glad that this at least will no longer be in the regret pile. And I'll get to be the girl in the cartoon above - bliss!