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Diary of an opsimath
heleninwales
I haven't written yet today because most of the morning was spent working with G on the corrections to Chapter 16 of his Java programming book and then I spent a few hours in college seeing if everything works after the technicians have upgraded all the computers. But in a few minutes I will settle to 20-30 minutes of writing.

Well, it's not so much writing as re-reading the current draft from the beginning to get back into the story. I had hoped to be able to pick it up from where it left off and just write the ending, but that strategy has failed dismally, so back to the beginning I must go.

I'm also starting to get to like YWriter. I know people rave about Scrivener but I don't have a Mac and, yes, there is a Windows version now, but having always used just a word processor, I feel that it's overkill and I'm not prepared to pay $40 dollars for something that has a lot of features I will probably never use. Meanwhile, YWriter is much simpler, creates .rtf files that -- if the worst came to the worst -- could just be recombined in Word and is free, though you can give a small donation to support the programmer if you like or you can register the software for about £16, which I have just done because I like to support things that I like, otherwise they might disappear!

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heleninwales
34/52 for the group 2015 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: G is for Glass

I finally managed to go through the box of stuff I rescued about 18 months ago when we cleared my Dad's bungalow prior to him moving into a care home. I'm not a big fan of knick-knacks, so most of it is going to the charity shop, but this vase is a classic 1970s Caithness glass bud vase and I'm keeping it myself.

Glass vase

Current Mood: busy busy

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heleninwales
It is a very wet and drizzly morning, but I'm hoping to make some progress today. G has been into college, discovered that nothing much is happening there at the moment and has stopped panicking about the Java programming book. It still needs finishing, but at a more reasonable speed so today I can try to get on top of some of my own neglected tasks. I therefore finally made it out of the Habitica Inn yesterday (going into the Inn freezes the game) and did almost all my Dailies. Today I need to attack some red To-Dos.

I also need to get outside into the fresh (if damp) air and get some exercise at some point. It's supposed to dry up briefly after lunch, so that will be my window of opportunity.

Current Mood: busy busy

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heleninwales
Urgh! The house is looking dustier and dustier because G and I have been working solidly each day on the corrections to his programming book. It needs to be ready to upload to Lulu at the weekend, so I'll just have to ignore the house and catch up later.

Habitica is still working to help me keep on top of everything. In fact I now have 3 accounts. When I created the third account, I did wonder if it was overkill, but I was just so frightened of losing vital Day Job tasks in amongst all my Household and Daily Life tasks that a second account was vital. Then I realised that the things I wanted to do, like writing and taking photographs and reading, were being swamped by all the Must Do tasks, hence feeling the need for the third account.

I/We are all in a party together and it does make some things easier. For example I spent so much time on G's book today that I had to check into the inn with my main account, but the work account will actually hit the quest boss quite hard, so I will make some progress on my quest. Also, thanks to Habitica, I am keeping up with the most important tasks like the laundry, changing the bed sheets, washing dishes and swishing and swiping the bathroom (A FlyLady thing where you just clean a bit of the bathroom every day). I just hope it won't take too much work to catch up on the rest of the cleaning once the book is finished.

The book is for G's students and the college and it called Java Programming with NetBeans for A-level Computer Science. It contains lots of worked examples of programs explaining the main techniques the students will require.

If there was already a published book that was suitable for the A-Level course, G would probably buy it. But either there isn't one or the ones that exist don't teach the way he does. That's why he always ends up writing his own. But we've discovered that publishing on Lulu means that the college can buy copies for less then it costs to photocopy the pages and the students get a professional looking book that they can keep after the course ends. If you give them handouts, they just lose them! Also, having the book on Lulu and available via Amazon means that we do get the occasional sale to other people, which always gives us a little thrill. :)

Current Mood: tired tired but accomplished

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heleninwales
A little confusion may have arisen over this meme. It's not supposed to be any kind of "test of Britishness", it was simply a response to yet another US-centric meme (that I actually didn't see) that was mostly baffling or not applicable to anyone from elsewhere. So cmcmck created this to baffle USians.

1. Marmite- love or hate?

I wouldn't say I love Marmite, but every so often I get a bit of a craving for something really savoury and then Marmite thinly spread on buttered toast is just the thing.

2. Marmalade- thick cut or thin cut?

Thick.

3. Porridge- made with milk or water?

With water

4. Do you like salt, sugar or honey on your porridge?

Honey with full cream milk.

5. Loose tea or teabags?

I use both, but more teabags than loose tea if I'm honest.

6. Where on your door is your letterbox?

Set horizontally in the centre of the door.

7. What's your favourite curry?

I'm quite fond of chicken tikka masala.

8. What age is the place where you live?

If you mean the house, it was built in 1983 and we've been the only occupants. If you mean the town, well it began as a village in the twelfth century, but there are Bronze Age settlements just a few miles away and Roman coins were found by a healing well on the edge of town.

9. Where do the folks running your local corner shop come from?

We don't really have a "corner shop". There is the town centre and the surrounding houses. However, both newsagents, and the Spar convenience store are run by Welsh people. Some shops are run by English incomers and there is a Thai (I think) woman running a flower shop.

10. Instant or fresh coffee?

I haven't been able to drink coffee for years because it seemed to trigger my IBS. This is annoying because I used to love coffee. However, recently I've discovered that it's OK to occasionally drink a tiny bit of milky coffee after dinner. That's when I make real coffee. Otherwise G (who never drinks tea) gets instant. We use a simple cafetiere rather than a newfangled coffee machine. Which is the cue for this week's photo for the Weekly Alphabet Challenge. :)

33/52

This week's theme: F is for Filter

It was a bit of a rushed shot because I've been away for a few days and didn't spot a filter anywhere. So I've just gone for a totally literal interpretation this time.

Cafetiere filter

11. How far are you from the sea?

9 miles.

12. Have you travelled via Eurostar?

No.

13. If you were going to travel abroad, where's the nearest country to you?

I'm tempted to say, "England" which is about 56 miles away, but it would be more correct to say Ireland, which is 145 miles via ferry.

There are more answers behind here...Collapse )

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heleninwales
*Sigh* I have just frogged (ie unravelled) the sweater sleeves back to the start of the decrease. They were almost finished, but I finally decided they were going to be too short. However, I'm actually quite pleased with myself because in the past, this would likely have stalled the whole project, or I'd have kept going, but ended up hating the finished sweater. But I didn't put it to one side or carry on regardless. I bit the bullet and pulled the work back, so now I can make forward progress again.
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heleninwales
Hello everyone! I am back from a few days in Manchester, which is the city where I was born and grew up, but which I left a long long time ago.

So much has changed and we walked A LOT! I am now reacquainted with the bits that still remain from my childhood and have started to get used to all the new stuff. Like the trams. And all the new buildings. And some of the old buildings which must have been there when I lived in the city (because they are Victorian!), but which were just about still in use as warehouses or factories, or which were lying empty and abandoned and thus of no interest to a teenage girl visiting the city centre in search of a new book or some clothes, or a record or some sheet music, or whatever else I had gone into town to buy.

Should be able to post more about our visit tomorrow when I've sorted out the photos. Also, just wanted to say that I have been reading LJ, but only had my phone for internet access and trying to comment using a tiny virtual keyboard is frustrating, so I have probably been quieter than usual on the comment front.
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heleninwales
We enjoyed our previous Manchester mini-break so having realised there were still lots of things we hadn't seen, we ventured on another short visit. It's not that we're tired of London, but it's always fun to explore somewhere new. Of course Manchester is not exactly new. I was born there (in a hospital in the city centre) I grew up there (less than 2 miles from the centre), but it's changed so much that it's rather like being in one of those weird dreams where you know you're supposed to be somewhere you know, but it all looks different. Except suddenly you'll come round the corner and see a familiar building. Well, revisiting Manchester is like that for me.

Anyway, we had booked to stay in the same apartments as last time and because we were travelling on a Sunday, we reserved and pre-paid for the parking at Machynlleth. We also had to collect the pre-paid for train tickets at the ticket office because the trip was a fairly last minute decision, so there hadn't been time to get the tickets sent by post.

They're busy doing work to the footbridge at Machynlleth to make the station more accessible, but they have got both platforms open again (last time all the trains were stopping at Platform 1). The journey was uneventful with just one change at Shrewsbury.

It was too early to check into the apartment, but they were happy to let us leave our luggage and we went off in search of food and places to explore. Food ended up being a burger in Burger King where we discovered that one end of the upstairs seemed to be the hangout of choice for a group of black teens who were all (in best northern tradition) dressed in their best clothes. As we ate, we stared out of the window at the tramlines, trying to fathom how the points worked. Are the trams stuck on a fixed route? Is there some way of switching them from one route to another? It remained a mystery.

We then went for a wander around, with me keeping up a running commentary of, "That's new. That's new. I don't remember that. That wasn't there before. Ooooh! This bit is the same!"

The art gallery was familiar and we looked at Pre-Raphaelites and (what had always been a favourite as a child) an absolutely enormous painting of a Roman chariot race. By now we were feeling that we'd done enough for one day, so we headed back to the apartment via Waitrose to get food for dinner. We successfully negotiated the self-service checkout which, being country bumpkins, we still find novel and amusing. After dinner I caught up online using my phone and then watched TV. Tomorrow we have planned an expotition out into the Pennines which are the hills you can just see in the distance in these photos.

View from the apartment

The view is not quite as spectacular as the view from our hotel in London on our last trip down south. :)

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heleninwales
Despite having lived in Wales for 40 years, I had never been to the National Eisteddfod before. This was for various reasons, partly due to lack of time. (For the first 10 years after we moved here, the summer was our busiest time and it was almost impossible to get days off.) Also there was the expense of taking the whole family. And then later, when these things were no longer a problem, I had no one to go with. Also I do have issues with the whole competitive element.

However...

This year I decided that I would put all my reservations to one side and actually go. I bought a ticket in advance while I was still feeling enthusiastic after the Welsh summer school, and it was just as well that I did because on Tuesday morning, it was tipping down with rain. If I hadn't pre-paid, I would definitely not have gone. Thankfully, the forecast said it should dry up later and on the drive there, the rain did indeed ease, so that by the time I reached the Eisteddfod, it was hardly raining at all. My other dread of traffic queues and road congestion proved unfounded as everything was well signed and there was an efficient one-way system and traffic lights to keep traffic flowing smoothly on and off the maes (Welsh for "field" and used to mean the whole Eisteddfod site). The cars were shepherded onto the car park and soon I was entering the Eisteddfod itself.

The distinctive Pink Pavilion (Pafiliwn Pinc) is visible from far afield and proudly proclaims that the Eisteddfod is here!

Pink Pavilion

I arrived around 10 am and it was still fairly quiet. I wandered around, looking at all the exhibits. Just about every organisation and sizeable business in Wales must have had a stand there, including universities, colleges, the National Library, the political parties, the voluntary organisations, charities, and pressure groups like CND. After a quick exploration, I watched a demo on cooking lamb. This was actually bilingual, but everything else was Welsh only.

As the day progressed, the crowd increased and after a couple of hours I had seen all the stands and was ready for a sit down. I found a cafe and bought a cup of tea and a ham and salad sandwich. There wasn't much seating, but (in Welsh) I managed to ask a group sitting round a table which had some spare chairs if they needed them all. Chair acquired, I ate my lunch and then ventured out again. I spent an hour or so in the Pafiliwn Pinc listening to the end of a choir competition which was followed by some cerdd dant.

Cerdd dant

Cerdd dant is an esoteric Welsh art form in which one or more vocalists sing poetry to a harp accompaniment. Here is quite a nice example of a solo by a young girl.

More behind here. May be boring if you don"t like daleks...Collapse )

More wandering brought me finally to the Ty Gwerin (lit. "Folk house"), and I remained there for an hour or so listening to folk music followed by an interview with Twm Morys. Then there was just time for an ice cream (with flake) and a final look around before leaving.

And this was where it went wrong. I could not find my car. There were five fields of cars. At least five. All full. And no way to distinguish them. I was cursing myself for not having paid more attention to where I had left it, but to be honest, there were no landmarks in the car parks, seeing as normally they are just flat grassy fields out in the countryside. It took me half a bloody hour of searching and of course I found it in the last field I looked in. And by that I mean I had thoroughly searched all the other fields (some of them twice) until there was only one small field left.

So would I go again? Almost definitely. Would I spend time in the main pavilion again? Possibly, though next time I'll be spending much more time in the folk tent which was much more my cup of tea and didn't involve any competitions.




This walk formed part of my Eowyn challenge journey. I am currently following Frodo and Sam's journey to Mordor and Mount Doom.

Miles travelled since last update: 13½ (4½ of them at the Eisteddfod)
Miles travelled so far: 82 (2311½ from Bag End)
Miles still to go: 388

Percentage complete: 17%

Point reached on journey:

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heleninwales
I created a guild on Habitica (new name for HabitRPG) called Venture Outside Your Lair. There were already guilds for serious exploring and walking and cycling and fitness, but I wanted something to encourage people (me especially) to get up off the computer and step outdoors for a while and get a bit of natural daylight and observe what is going on around.

Unfortunately, my venturing outdoors has been limited recently due to pushing on with proofreading and testing husband's book -- and the weather's not helping! -- but I did manage a walk the other day. Our blackberries are still not ready, but I came across some wild raspberries in a hedgerow. There weren't enough to pick and do anything with, so I left them for the birds and wild creatures.

Wild raspberry

Tomorrow, however, I am off to the National Eisteddfod. Despite having lived in Wales for 40 years, I've never been to this major cultural event. There are various reasons for that which are partly about the nature of the event itself, partly about just not liking crowds and traffic jams, and partly lack of time and anyone to go with, but I do feel I ought to go at least once and see what it's really like and, of course, spend a day practising speaking Welsh.

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