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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Welcome to my Blogation Depot!

I am awaiting the delivery of new computational device for Andrew. It is due tomorrow. I received a lovely e-mail from Parceline telling me how to track the delivery.

"Click on this link and click Track It"

Well, that sounds easy. It wasn't, because there was no Track It link, but I muddled through and finally got to the tracking page.

Where is my computational device?

Apparently, according to Parceline, it is in their Sortation Hub.

Their...what now?

Sortation. It's a thing. I Googled it. It is the act or process of sorting. Which is funny, because as "sorting" is a verb, I rather thought that the act or process of sorting was EXACTLY THAT WORD. You know, the verb: to sort, present participle: sorting.

Anyway, I'm a little bit tired after staying late at work at a Rainbow Network (our LGBT network) event, so I'm going off to my sleepation centre, where I perform the act or process of sleeping.

Toodle Pip!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


I haven't really had any proper trolls on my Weekend Notes writing yet, just a random person who takes great exception to me publicising any fireworks events. Apparently it is the height of social irresponsibility to publicise completely legal events, and the best way to get these events banned is to publish random rants on community websites which aren't even actually organising the events. I get annoyed just thinking about their stupidity. I need a coping mechanism. Luckily for me, my husband is quite experienced in the mysterious and arcane ways of the internet.

Our conversation started after I was quite affronted the first time they commented, and leapt in to defend myself. I probably shouldn't have bothered. They didn't want to hear my views, or suggestions, they were just in "transmit" mode. Luckily, Andrew has moderated a lot of forum sites, so he was able to give some advice:

Lindsay: I've had an angry comment on one of my articles, and I'm not sure if I replied well.
Andrew: Hahahahahaha! You replied? First rule of trolls? Don't Feed The Trolls.

That's a remarkably cathartic phrase to repeat to oneself when assaulted by Someone on the Internet Who Thinks You are Wrong. Which this person most definitely thinks I am. I am tempted to reply, because I have many witty and biting things to say, and then I just think to myself:

"Waste of your valuable time; don't feed the trolls"....and relax.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Boss of the Lunch Hall Returns!

Lori: Josie, I had hardly finished my lunch when a lady told me to "Go away!"
Josie: What? Why? Mummy! Did you hear this?

I followed up with some enquiries...

Me: Is she a teacher?
Lori: No
Me: Is she a dinner lady?
Lori: No
Me: Is she a learning assistant?
Lori: No.
Me: Then who is she?
Lori: I don't know. She wears pink and purple.
Me: Could it be the boss of the lunch hall?

I said this jokingly. Josie used to complain about her heavy-handed lunch hall tactics when she was in P1. One day, she just disappeared, never to return.

Lori: Yes!
Josie: Yes! It is the exact same person as the lady who was the boss who used to put me in trouble.

Who is the mysterious boss? What role do they play in the school?

Nobody knows...nobody knows...

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Let There Be Light

Who are all the people in libraries, with their notes, and scribbles, and books?

We pop in to Stockbridge Library on a semi-regular basis. It's always filled with interesting-looking people, beavering away among the books. I always wonder what their stories are.

Today, there was one man with unruly hair and suede patches on his arms. He brandished a vintage wooden ruler, and was underlining what looked like lists of names. Was it a code only he understands? Was he picking a team? Some were underlined once, some twice, some were underscored quite firmly. It looked chaotic.

A grey-haired lady, smartly dressed in jeans, ankle boots, and a quilted jacket, had a book about Mary Quant on her desk. Arrayed around with notes, she was mind-mapping, a new shop venture perhaps?

Two young women sat in silent companionship, a wall of jotters sitting between them. Marking, marking, and more marking; they made a mockery of claims that teachers have an easy job with too many holidays.

Who are they all? I wish I knew, so I could say thank you to them for using the library. We need them.

Libraries encourage children to look up for knowledge, not for magical sky fairies.

Ah, my library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 595.789

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Redrafting and a Question

Here's the latest news on the book front. A few weeks ago I pushed down all the fear and anxiety bubbling up inside of me and passed over my first draft to a friend to read.

I felt a little bit ill. I take criticism very emotionally, and I was worried about how bad my writing was.

Good News: She gave very positive and helpful feedback to make the book make more sense. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. I can actually take feedback quite well, it transpires.
Bad News: She thinks that it needs to be a bit longer in the middle to make the ending more climactic.

So, now it's back to writing. First up is tidying up all the mistakes and typos and plot holes, and second is adding a bit more adventure in the middle section, third is redrafting the new bits, then fourth is handing it over to my second reading volunteer.

All in all, I can't help but feel that it's going quite well. In May, I had never written anything non-academic longer than about 2000 words. Now I've written 31,000 words of children's fiction.

Phew. I hope Josie and Lori like it!

Interesting Fact For Today: The name Irene is derived from Eirene, the Greek Goddess of Peace (Roman equivalent: Pax).

Eirene. She's the best.

Now for the aforementioned question of the blog title:

Can anybody tell me whether there's a statue of Peace in and around the centre of Edinburgh?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Do as I Say, Child, Not as I Do.

I offered to help Josie and Lori tidy their room, and then made the following statement.

"Right, Josie, let's go and see what we're up against."

She then took me on a tour of her room, with the following words:

"We're up against this. We're up against a little bit more of that. We're up against this. We're not up against that (points to the top of the wardrobe). I'm not sure about that or that. Basically, Mummy, we've got a lot of work to do. We're up against a lot,"

She is such an adorably literal child.

P.S. My room is even messier than theirs. It's embarrassing.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We're Back!

We're back home after a lovely week away in sunny Thurso.

We had walks on the beach.

We had lots of fun on our walks on the beach.

Andrew taught Josie the best stones for skimming, and how to skim them. I won the competition for the most bounces from a single skim (I counted 7, but Andrew said it was 9).

Lori ran around like a crazy cat who was scared of getting her feet wet. She won the competition for the least number of bounces from a single skim (0).

Basically, we did a lot of walking. Everyone had a wonderful time. Now, back to life.

Monday, 15 October 2012


There might be a dearth of posts over the next week, because we are on holiday in Thurso.

Yesterday was a fun 7 and a half hour train journey from Edinburgh - Inverness - Thurso.

Golspie Beach. Golspie Station did not look like this, because it was dark, and a station.
We stopped in Golspie, at about 19:30, to the announcement:

"The train will stop in Golspie for 5 minutes, should you wish to take the opportunity to step out onto the platform to get a breath of fresh air."

This appeared to be a euphemism, because we stepped out to see 13 (I counted them) other people who had ventured onto the platform not for fresh air, but for a cigarette, including the train employee who had done the announcement.

On such a tiny platform, it was quite difficult to get the advertised fresh air. So, instead, we jumped off the railway sleepers about 15 times until the 5 minutes were up.

The journey included the obligatory sheep, cow and horse-spotting, but we also managed to spy three sets of deer, and a llama. At least, I think it was a llama.

From Inverness onwards it was dark, so we didn't get much chance to spot anything except the occasional stars. The girls ran up and down the carriage speaking to a set of new "friends" and returning to us every stop. With 21 stops between Thurso and Inverness, that was quite a lot of running.

Andrew had packed pretty much everything perishable in the fridge, so while they ran, we ate. I don't think I'll need to eat for the rest of the week.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Tiens! Tea, Anyone?

In the Edinburgh office, we have to walk to the coffee cart to procure our own beverages. Yesterday, I heard some news that one of our London offices has a tea trolley.

A tea trolley?

Does this not belong to another era?

The only experience I have ever had of a tea trolley is Madame Cholet in the Wombles, who I am pretty sure had a trolley and a bell.

Thinking back, there was once an ill-fated trolley attempt at our Edinburgh office, when they built the Link Building and connected us to next door. Back then, I worked on the Lower Ground Floor. No-one from the canteen could quite work out the lift structure that would get them from Lower Ground Dundas to Lower Ground Fettes. Apparently it was complicated. So, the tea trolley remained a fabled legend known only by those on the upper floors.

However, despite feeling like a tea trolley is a mythical remnant of another age, I am reliably informed that the London office has one. It still has a bell. I am fairly certain that they also all wear bowler hats, but my contact refused to admit that.

I have determined that they need to be brought into the 21st century. The solution is obvious. Dispense with the bell, and create the Tea Trolley Tracker App.

Who says banking is old-fashioned?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Christmas is coming, along with an inevitable deluge of adverts.

It seems my post of yesterday, Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, was mildly prophetic. After enjoying weeks of glorious sunshine, normal Scottish October service has now resumed. Cue a dreich, rainy day in which I got soaked on the way home from work, to ballet, and back from ballet.

We've started rehearsing for the Christmas show (before Hallowe'en!) and that got me thinking about Christmas. Christmas, of course, means the launch of seasonal adverts especially designed to sell you stuff you don't really need. 

And the worst culprit of them all? Perfume adverts.

I saw today that Brad Pitt is going to be advertising Chanel No. 5. Seriously? Honestly? And he gets £4m  to do it? I had to watch a sponsors video before I could even watch the teaser clip. Adverts for adverts? Brad Pitt advertising a woman's scent? This is a new low even for perfumery.

I hate perfume adverts. They bring out an unpleasant, vitriolic side of me who yells at the TV when I see a woman in a red cloak chasing a wolf or something equally fatuous.

I cannot even think of a caption. The idiocy of this picture speaks for itself.

Every year when Chanel, or Lancome, or whoever, launch a new campaign I just want vomit, but most especially their celebrity "featurette" ones, like Nicole Kidman pretending to be an actress who wanted to be a dancer. What? Huh? Who cares?

They don't describe the product, they don't tell you anything unique about the product. They simply peddle in the equally fleeting assets of beauty and popularity to associate their brand with an aspirational ideal of a lifestyle, which buying their product will in no way entitle you to or provide you with.

Obviously I see why they can’t sell the product in an advert. Describing a smell is not going to get you anywhere. I also see why they have to advertise. If they didn’t there would be no brand awareness of their particular perfume, and their sales would reduce. As long as a perfume industry exists, it makes good business sense to advertise.

It’s just they're so vapid, and vacuous, and unrelated to a smell. To me they epitomise everything about the fashion and beauty industry I absolutely hate. They’re linking their perfume to an ideal of beauty and a lifestyle that has no relation to what you will receive when you purchase the product.

This is not going to happen to you if you buy this perfume.
Andrew thinks it’s funny when I watch television at Christmas time and launch into a tirade about how buying a perfume isn't going to give me a giant, long gold neck, or let me wade through liquid gold, or enable me to dance through a field of meadows in a negligee or render me suddenly appealing to Brad Pitt.

I’m sorry I can’t be more cogent. It’s just perfume adverts. I hate them.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

I've left it very late for a blog update today, because I've been catching up on the Strictly Come Dancing episodes that I missed at the weekend.


Not much going on in Linzertorte land today other than the glitterball and lycra. Yesterday I was at Parent Teacher Consultation:

Josie accompanied me for the first time (they're allowed to in P4 onwards, if parents wish). She was desperate to come, but so so nervous. She confessed to me that she was worried she'd get a bad report because even though she was usually good, that day she and another boy had had an argument about finishing their work. They're certainly right about her being a worrier.

I didn't expect Lori to be perceived as so articulate and expressive with her opinions, but it's hard to see her as that when she has an older sister who is such a chatterbox. Must remember not to put preconceived notions onto second child. They are invariably warped by faulty memory and the passage of time.

Anyway, to round off a good couple of days, here's a picture taken on the cusp of autumn.

I hope it makes you smile as you remember the joy of getting an unexpected ice cream.

I was going to have a competition to see who could guess the two ice cream flavours, but I couldn't think of a prize. Never mind. You can imagine you won. Awesome prize, huh?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Gamification of Life

Today, walking home from dancing, I noticed a poster for Weightwatchers.

It didn't say, "Join Weightwatchers" or "Come to Weightwatchers".

It said, "Play Weightwatchers".

It's not like a fruit machine, people.

"Ooooh....3 eclairs today, step on the scales and what will I roll? Will it be a lose, a hold, a gain?"

I'll have an e(clair) please, Bob.
Um. It'll be a gain. It's not a lottery. It's a fairly simple equation. More in than burned off? Gain. The reverse? Loss.

However, sarcasm aside, I decided to check the website. It is like a competition! They do win things!

I suppose I'll just shut up now. That's what I get for being smart.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Weekend Notes and Some Fun in the Autumn Sun

I've started a new venture writing for Weekend Notes. To begin with, I was just doing it for writing practice, but it's jogged me onwards at the weekends into new activities and fun with the children.

They're certainly feeling the benefit. One of my first reviews was of Stockbridge Market. We've just finished one of the pots of jam we bought. I say we...Lori was the prime consumer of the jam. It was blackcurrant. She loves anything blackcurrant, but especially juice and jam. How much do you think she enjoyed it?

I will show you.
What? I'm meant to be finishing my porridge first?

But my tongue is much better than the spoon.

Never mind. All finished now.

 She likes it a lot? Yes, you'd be right. To quote the little blackcurrant monster herself:

"A very, very lot, Mama."

We've also been out and about to local parks, Inverleith Park was one, George V Park another. That one's still to be written up, but I rather like the selection of pictures to go along with it, especially because it was another beautiful, golden autumnal day. Perfect for playing on the slide. Here's a taster of what's to come.

Yes, I am at the top of the slide.

Yes, I am about to slide down it and take a picture while I am doing so.

Yes, it was brilliant and you are all invited next week.

No, I have never really grown up and having children is an excuse to go to playparks without people looking at me funny.

Yay! Sunny autumn days are just my best.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bide a wee

My little girl is growing up. Today, she announced,

"I used to love the Singing Kettle when I was little."

I thought you were still little, Josie Posie.

Lindsay was confused by how quickly Josie seemed to be growing.
Last year, she told me she never wanted not to walk to school with me. I told her she might change her mind when she was a bit older. Three days ago, she asked to walk home on the other side of the road. On Thursday, it was walking to school over the road. And now on Friday it was a super, mega-sized teenage huff, because she was sent to bed before Strictly Come Dancing.

I watched this with sweaty palms and my heart in my mouth. It's only a climbing wall, for goodness sake!
It's by turns lovely and horrible to watch her growing independence.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Little Miss Muffet

A spider just descended from the ceiling onto my keyboard. I can't see him now. I'm presuming that I'm not clattering him to death by typing this, but I think he's going to be very confused by the earthquake right about now.

I watched him descend with some shock. As I didn't expect something to enter my field of vision from above other than my hair (which does that ALL THE TIME) I almost brushed him into oblivion (behind my ear).

This might have been my reaction, or not. You know, not that I would scream at a spider or anything.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try and extract him from the arachnid death trap that is my keyboard.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A couple of useful hints that will serve you well in life.

Mornings are always compressed around here. I get sick of the sound of my own voice.

"Lori, eat up."
"Porridge, have you eaten your porridge?"*
"Josie, stop reading, and get your shoes on."
"Josie, stop reading, and brush your hair."
"Lori, remember to drink as well as eat."
"Josie, while I'm glad you're reading, please don't do it while you clean your teeth."
"Josie. Put the book down!"

I'm sure you can sense the theme with both my children. One won't eat. The other won't stop reading. Both of these things cause our mornings to stretch interminably towards the 08:30 deadline, by which time we have to be out of the house, or we will be late for school.

My own routine sometimes gets a little side-tracked, and distracted.

Does yours?

If it does, then have two very handy and helpful hints for you:

1. Carefully inspect the aerosols that you pick up. Shaving CANNOT be substituted for deodorant. It will set you back quite some time in your morning routine.

2. Carefully inspect your make-up bag. It may be that a child has put something in it that will not work with your look. Like a glue stick, instead of lip gloss. Take it from me. This does not work, not even for constructing an on-trend high-shine glitter look.

Lindsay's workmates were impressed with what she could create using only the children's art supplies.
*One of Lori's nicknames. We used to call Josie, "Josie Posie, and then just "Posie". When Lori arrived we called her "Lori Pori", and then "Lori Pori Porridge", it ended up as "Porridge". Why? Who knows.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Soup, and other conflicting emotions

Andrew used to make soup quite often.

Yummy vegetables, ready to become soup.
He made it today for one of Lori's homework activities. We have just had the following conversation.

Lindsay: Mmmmmm. This is my best meal this month.
Andrew: It's just soup, and a roll.
Lindsay: No, it's your soup. And my roll has butter on it, real butter. I don't know why you don't make your soup more often.
Lindsay (following Andrew through to the kitchen): Your soup is the best soup ever. I hate you [for not making soup], I love you [for the soup].
Andrew: Well, you're just a whole bundle of conflicting emotions, aren't you?
Lindsay: Yes, yes I am.

For the record, it is the most delicious vegetable soup that you will ever taste. I suspect a flavour enhancer. Either that, or I am just very, very hungry today, and thus an easy lay [for the soup].

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Introspection vs. Extrospection

If you know me, then you'll know I sometimes tend towards introspection. Sometimes, when I'm reading, or thinking, I don't really hear anyone else. It's not that I'm ignoring them purposefully, more that I am ignoring them accidentally. Other times, I just drift away into a world of doodles and thinkings. That's okay when you're at home. Not so okay at work.

Lately, though, I've taken to thinking about diversity. Since I took the role of Focused Women Chair I've been trying to foment a strategy that will actually have a long-lasting impact on the organisation. I thought I'd start with Technology Services, the area I work in, and build from there.

I reasoned: there are fewer women taking Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) degrees, and even fewer who end up in SET jobs. Wouldn't it be great if women working in SET could get out and mentor the young women on those university course to encourage to utilise their degree in  the same field?

Role modelling is important for increasing representation of any group, and mind wandered...thinking about student mentoring schemes, and how we could deliver something that would actually be useful.

Then, I started thinking about what I'm going to say in St. Andrews. I was asked to speak about my dissertation, which was about women working in a male-dominated field, but I started to question myself.

Was it really still dominated by men? Was I making too much of this? Hadn't things moved on since I wrote it? Would the students look at me and think I was making it up?

I started to feel doubt, as though I was calling out something that didn't exist.

Then, tonight, I attended an event for Edinburgh University students. They had self-registered to come along and find out more about the Royal Bank. There was the opportunity to chat to people who worked at the bank already, and then they had to do some team games.

I chose my first three students at random from the 20 or 30 who were there.

"What area do you work in?" they asked.
"Technology," I answered.
"Isn't that where mostly men work, like, isn't it for men?"

Those exact words.

If perception dictates reality, then there was a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever I heard one.
Introspection: 0 Extrospection: 1

Looks like someone else might be prone to a little introspection too.
I then spent the better part of the networking session changing their mind about Technology, and why it might be for them.

I hope they listen.

As for me: introspection has its place.

It lets my mind wander away through flights of fantasy in which my work in diversity and equality changes not only the organisation, but also government policy, and builds a fairer, better future for my children and yours. It lets me run free from the shackles of what must be or should be, and lets me explore what might be and what possibly could be. In my dreams I reach far further than I ever can in life, but in aiming for that, perhaps I'll get just a little bit further than if I hadn't bothered to dream at all.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sentences I dread...

Josie: Mummy! Mummy! We really need to start working on an extremely complicated costume for Hallowe'en.
Lori: Why, Josie? I have a bumblebee costume [see below].
Josie: Because you have to have a complicated, home-made costume so that you can win a prize.
Lori: Oh yes, my friend Orla won a surprise. She was a cardboard box. A cardboard box! It was on her head, and her feet stuck out the bottom. She got a pens and pencils surprise. We need cardboard boxes.

Oh. My. God.

Children don't understand the concept that there are 120 children in P1 - P3, and only 2 prizes. When am I going to make a costume? What am I going to make?

Ideas, anyone?

This is what she means by Bumblebee, of course. A Transformer, not an actual bee.

A view from the inside

You might be interested in a view from the inside of something, but you're not going to get it.


Because I wrote that blog title this morning and now I have completely forgotten what it was going to be about.

Nothing to see here. Nope. Nothing at all. I look naughty? No. Not me!

Today was an interesting day. I'd share it with you, but it is all TOP SECRET. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to tell more, or there will be nothing to tell. One or the other! Let's hope it's the one, rather then the other.

I was hoping to be able to share some other exciting news, but it seems that that has started to fall through too.

Oh, and before anybody gets excited/worried, I am not pregnant, not do I intend to be. None of the news is baby related at all.

So, where does that leave us with regards to something interesting in this blog post today?

Absolutely nowhere!

Normal service will be resumed imminently.