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This is a very lovely city, even when its soft grey misty clouds are a lie and a delusion and only give us a tantalising trickle of the rain we so desperately need. We are on very serious water restrictions, I shower and wash my hands to a complicated system of buckets whose collected water is ruthlessly apportioned to the garden and the loo depending on detergent quantities. The days when I could stand dreamily under the hot water for unspecified aeons while my mind drifts happily, are long gone. I am losing plants in the garden, I don't have enough water for all of them and plants in pots don't have the root access which allows them to survive reduced watering. It's all a bit dire.

My subject line is Kermit the Frog, whose gentle optimism I do not currently feel.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
There's something particularly pleasing about an entirely self-indulgent holiday you really can't afford and are damned well taking anyway. Bartholomeu's Klip is a luxury farmhouse guest lodge thingy, where they charge you rather a lot for incredible amounts of superlative food, accommodation, game drives, and generally beautiful surroundings in which to lounge around doing nothing much (or, in my case, reading the new Phryne Fisher, which incidentally has tickled me pink by virtue of being unabashed BBC Sherlock fanfic) while minions bring you tea or gin at your command. We had two nights there, which is really all the average constitution can handle given their daily plan of pre-game-drive tea and muffins, giant brunch, high tea, drinks with snacks, and a four-course meal in the evening. It's also all I can handle financially, even at winter half-price specials, given a recent move and house-refurnish. But it's utterly, utterly worth it. We had enough of us to book out the whole house, which meant we didn't have to freak anyone else out by having drunken argumentative conversations and playing Gloom and Fluxx all over the show, or when reading the new Phryne Fisher caused me to lie on a garden chair and giggle like a maniac for the better part of a morning.

It's near Wellington, and the private game reserve is reclaimed renosterveld; I loved it on our last visit, when it was much more desert-like, but also loved it this time under rain and greenness. It's a very beautiful landscape.


The game viewing was really good - millyuns of buck, gnu, amazing bird life, and for some reason an unlikely and pleasing number of bat-eared foxes, which were running around in small packs all over the adjacent farmland as well as in the game reserve itself. I don't think I've ever actually seen one in the wild before, despite living in southern Africa my entire life. The small hordes of them made me very happy. We also scored a reasonably close, extremely grumpy and entirely fortuitous porcupine, which was also truly happy-making. I love porcupines, the way they trundle along. This is a truly terrible photo, because it transpires I shouldn't use the zoom function on my cellphone camera, but it gives you a good sense of the bat-eared fox's really nice line in pausing to look suspiciously back over its shoulder while displaying its ears.


This place has beautiful mountains and magical light. Also, in addition to the bottles of wine they give you Jedi cloaks on the game drives, which is fortunate, because they're bloody cold.


My subject line is from the Bee Gees, although it's a very weird, atonal and wistful little song that really has nothing to do with the lovely holiday. I have also successfully ear-wormed myself utterly with the Bee Gees, and have been singing them madly around the house all morning. I suppose there are worse fates.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Among the myriad ills my particular flesh is heir to, alongside dodgy knees, dodgy sinuses, stress-eczema, "really terrible breasts" and fatigue-with-glandular-wossname, is the lurking existence of moles. I have millyuns of moles. Seriously, I've never actually counted, but when the nice dermatologist lady mapped them last year there must have been over twenty which were significant enough to record. I am Heavily Dotted. There are whole constellations all over my back, and minor outbreaks on my arms and legs. I had a boyfriend once who used to get really stoned and play join-the-dots. I've mostly cordially ignored the moles, and they've got on quietly with their inoffensive high-pigmentation existences, occasionally appearing or disappearing to their own cryptic timetables, but they do have the potential to Turn Nasty, hence the mapping. Which, I have to add for the record, is another of those high-tech sciency things which is really cool, all computerised and dedicated-software and high-tech cameras, and more than compensates for the demoralising experience of seeing one's own flabby bod photographically exposed in high definition. (Moles are really odd in high detail close-up, incidentally. All patchy and constellated and complicated).

So, there are two potentially dodgy moles on my left thigh. The nice dermatologist lady ruthlessly excised them two weeks back, and sent them off for biopsy, leaving me with two cauterised raw patches, a slight smell of scorched flesh and a minor outbreak of dermatitis from reaction to the plasters. According to the biopsy, one mole is fine. The other is apparently edging into the territory where "non-standard melanocytic nevus" becomes "potentially moving into possible Stage 0 melanoma". This is all terribly potential and pre-emptive, but the standard, slightly "nuke them from orbit" response is to re-excise both of them for good measure, taking out an additional half-centimetre of flesh all round. This leaves slightly more of a crater than the original surface excision, requiring stitches and what have you, and the procedure is performed by a plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon in question is a lovely man, if completely insane and more than a little manic, and we had a lovely chat about the way he proposes to pump me full of rohypnol-like drugs which don't actually knock me out, but, in his words, "scramble your memories". You experience the pain, apparently, you simply don't remember it. I'm fine with this, surprisingly. Also with his confirmation of my personal sense that all anaesthetists are, in fact, insane. Which in my experience they have been.

So tomorrow I'm in hospital briefly, having moles subdued. Or, more accurately, pursuing a scorched earth policy on the area where moles have been subdued. This is minorly off-narking in view of the fact that I'd actually already applied for leave for actual holiday/break purposes before being told I needed this procedure, but hopefully I can re-purpose the leave. By way of consolation, Cape Town continues to be blissfully cool and damp, signalling that Autumn, thank FSM, is Here. Also, beautiful clouds. This was yesterday evening, at Claire's for Sherlock-watching and crispy duck with pancakes. While the speckled pattern on the clouds reminds me irresistibly of mole close-ups, I have to admit that life, despite having its moments of complexity just now, is certainly not uniformly bad. (The new season of Sherlock is not uniformly bad either, but I have Notes which I shall certainly develop at some length in a subsequent post).

My subject line is Spike Milligan, whose Cheetah is relevant on account of being heavily dotted and easily spotted. I do not, in fact, live in Tanganyika. I don't think I've ever visited, even, the closest I've come is Malawi or Mozambique. I do, however, rather like cheetahs.

waiting for the man

Saturday, 27 October 2012 06:19 pm
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I have discovered Chrome! It pains me to abandon Firefox, which has served me well for many years and whose cute logo and continued ability to not be IE I shall miss, but it was rapidly succumbing to the more noxious kind of bloat. Chrome is a new, fresh country in which clicking on a browser icon causes this useful contraption to load instantly instead of several minutes later in lead boots. I am, however, known proclivities notwithstanding, deeply suspicious of this "cloud" thing. It ain't natural.

Today I have done two loads of washing, written LARPs for two hours in the company of Jo (we have a mutual reinforcement pact in a desperate effort to actually finish something), diligently filed away the giant wodge of official-looking paper which has resided in the in-tray on my desk at home for upwards of a year, and submitted two tax returns. The dual tax return was necessary because, upon logging into the online filing site (which is madly efficient for a government bureaucracy and has my vote) I discovered that I never actually filed a return for 2011. Mature reflection suggests that this could be legitimately attributable to an ill-fated Australia trip, a life-threatening hospitalisation and several months of serious fatigue, but I don't know if that will hold any water with the jackbooted minions of SARS. I have no idea what actually happens to the evil defaulters who blithely file a tax return a year late: the Lawful Good part of me is subconsciously braced for the SWAT team to burst through the ceiling, waving paperwork. If I'm never heard of again, that's what happened.

The mad productivity and general organisation levels of the day would be terribly worthy, except that I have a dark suspicion I actually only did all of the above as a skilled avoidance of the marking pile. Essays marked today: 0. We're out at Overture for lunch tomorrow, so I suspect its score will be similar. Darn.

In only vaguely related news, apparently the result of spending two weeks reading Avengers slash is that I suddenly have a mad desire to ship Tony Stark with Kaylee Fry. The logic is both terrible and beautiful.
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I am not, alas, of the cellphone generation. My phone is not a prosthetic limb, it's an occasionally useful communication device on which I probably receive more spam/sales calls than social ones. I am capable of, as I did this weekend, turning it off for a meeting on Friday morning, and suddenly and vaguely recollecting its existence on Sunday afternoon, at which point it had accumulated about eight texts and missed calls, and had caused me to leave hanging several people who were trying to visit. For which, my apologies. Note to readers: I am very firmly of the internet generation, and will infallibly read email way before I'll remember to look at my phone.

It also has a camera. I occasionally remember this, and occasionally take photos with it, and then completely forget that I've done so, until the guilt at not looking at the damned thing for three days prompts me to dig around in its innards in a spirit of enquiry and reveals all sorts of images going back months.

This was taken at the Kingston-on-Thames conference, and is a rather conflicted combination of a truly beautiful river-surmounting evening sky rendered generally exquisite by London's insane and terrifying density of aircraft vapour trails, the contemplation of which invariably gives me a punch to the solar plexus with eco-fear.

This is a stitched composite which has a chunk missing as I apparently didn't take any photo which covered that patch of sky; however, it gives a much better sense of that amazing repeated bow effect than the better but narrower stitch which is also on my Flickr.
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I am home! words cannot express my joy. Kindly imagine me hobbling around in a pained but ecstatic circle dance, with gestures of relief and freedom. I have Earl Grey, I have a real computer with proper screen and keyboard, I have my kitties sitting off in the middle distance looking bored and unimpressed, which is their traditional response to me being away for any length of time. I also have my amazing mother, who has arrived for her mid-year holiday only to have to divide her time between assisting me to hobble around the house, and scritching Todal behind the ears. (Todal got bitten quite badly by some unspecified fiend-creature while I was away, and has a bald patch and umpteen stitches in her back, and a cone around her head which precludes her accessing her own itchy spots. The level of medical malfunction in this house currently is a bit scary. On the upside, Toad is making up for a lot of Hobbit-bullying by virtue of the fact that he's scared of her cone and runs away like a big wimp when she approaches. I fancy she's enjoying this.)

Apparently I can expect six months on warfarin (no wild diet changes, no anti-inflammatories, no more than a glass of wine a day), another month or so before this leg stops hurting, and a recovery period of up to a couple of weeks before I cease feebly wibbling to the point where I can venture back to work. This means that I leave the Faculty in the lurch in the first week of term, which is a change of curriculum period and one of the busiest of my year, full of responsibility for complicated advisor timetables, and infinite student queries. There are very few back-up systems to replace my several quite unique functions at this time, so it's going to be salutary for all of us, and will hopefully allow me to implement a campaign to rationalise and support some of the more exhausting requirements of this job in future. I am also pleased to report a really quite surprisingly low level of guilt at the whole leaving-them-in-the-lurch bit. This kind of drastic body-she-is-scratched thing happens to me because I'm exhausted and run-down, and the job is to blame for a lot of that.

Anyway. Languishing in hospital chatting to my mother in the last couple of days has resulted in an extremely happy-making random revelation, which I shall proceed to share in the interests of geek cred. Rampant atheism, skepticism and a hearty dislike of Tom Cruise have given me a serious loathing for weird cults in general and Scientology in particular, but this may also be genetic. It causes me untold joy to learn that my grandfather, my mother's father, was on the Board of Censors for Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, and he was apparently instrumental in having Scientology banned from the country. That was obviously reversed at some stage, the church is active in Zim now, but they booted old L. Ron the hell out in the 60s. My mother remembers my grandfather bringing home huge piles of info on Scientology to read through, and that he hated the cult with quite a passionate hatred and worked very hard to have it banned. I love this. It's a lovely bit of family history worthy of innocent pride. My grandfather was a difficult, introverted man, but he was a sturdy rationalist and could clearly kick butt when required to.

Obligatory Reverse Inside-Out Australia Blog photograph: Sydney was prone to really beautiful clouds.

This Is Not A Post

Sunday, 14 June 2009 11:06 pm
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... on account of how the four-day weekend seems to have shut down every last facsimile of brain in my skull, leaving me just enough to read, play computer games, drink and cook huge meals (roast chikkin and a multitude of veg. for the jo&stv, also muchly booze and hilarity), but precious little in the way of coherent sentence formation. Instead, this is a sort of postcard. More dusky mountain shots.

The dawn/dusk setting on this camera is purple. Extremely purple. Be the evening never so red and gold, it'll record it as purple. I think it's a frustrated poet of the more torrid and indigo sort. Anyway, this shot courtesy of pulling up a red traffic light on the way to a supper date and saying to the Evil Landlord, who was driving, "aarghquickwindowquickgivemefullwindow!" while scrabbling in my handbag for my camera. (His automatic window controls are broken and can only be operated by the driver, usually to the accompaniment of manic, Evil Overlordian laughter. Never give full control to a German). The evening was sort of blue/grey, but the camera, despite the overly purple wash, has the soft, teased solidity of the cloud formations absolutely correct.

luminous beings are we

Saturday, 23 May 2009 06:34 pm
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Gosh, the English language has some good words for light. Apart from luminous: lambent, effulgent, lucid, burnished. This is fortunate, since they become necessary at times in this city. The sun set this evening over a city which had spent the afternoon tucked under a low-lying softness of clouds, which refracted the sunset light into the most incredible peach-coloured glow. Driving home from Hout Bay was slightly surreal: my hands on the steering wheel were glowing slightly, all peachy-gold. It's the most amazingly pervasive light, it feels as though the air is actually holding a clear, glowing liquid like a cup.

Then I turned the corner at the Common, and saw this, which caused me (and the car immediately behind me, actually) to pull over in order to gawk:

(Stitched, as usual, with Autostitch, which is a dandy little utility capable of uncanny intelligence in knowing which bits of cloud match which.)

clouds got in my way

Wednesday, 3 December 2008 01:25 pm
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Cape Town is still vascillating about all this spring/summer nonsense. Yesterday was muted and misty, with beautiful clouds.

(a) this camera apparently takes photos straight in to the semi-occluded sun with reasonable grace, and (b) that darned Egyptian goose is back on its chimney-pot perch again. (And, apparently, headless).

Other than that, being as how the insomnia levels are making it difficult even to enthuse about Torchwood, I got nuttin'.
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  1. The Zombie Apocalypse Wall Decoration on boingboing this morning made me go "Cool!", suggesting I am a sad geek for whom there is no hope. I don't even like zombies.

  2. Loot seems to think, based on my previous buying habits (my ginormous and unrepentant buying habits, that is), that I'm likely to buy a CD entitled "100 Best Club Anthems". Their sales analysts are sadly doomed. Fortunately it also amused me enough that it's distracting me from clicking "Place Order" on the R400's worth of graphic novels in my shopping cart, which in my book constitutes almost superhuman self-control.

  3. Perfect bow on the way up to campus this morning. (Except that this is one of my patented "pretty clouds snapped while waiting in traffic" shots, and I only had time for four before the lights changed, and all of them seem to have chopped the top of the bow off. Sigh. On the other hand, points to the Common for panoramic photo utility). These two shots were stitched together with Autostitch, which appears to be a free stitch programme extremely useful for photographic idiots such as myself.

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Cape Town weather is always a bit weird, but at the moment it's truly weird. Last week was freezing cold and rainy. This weekend was warm. Berg wind warm. Muggy, humid warm with a side order of a mini-thunderstorm on Sunday morning. It's not bloody winter at all. Rotten swizz, if you ask me. On the upside, the weather forecast promises rain this week, and an "upper perturbation" on Thursday. I'm all excited. (Actually, they promise an "upper pertubation" - I'm not sure if this is a spelling mistake or a technical weather term).

Also, the clouds over the weekend were particularly beautiful. This shot taken Saturday evening, returning from my daily dose of having my ankles affectionately head-butted, aka feeding jo&stv's cats.

Other than weird weather I spent the weekend more or less horizontal, owing to exhaustion. Today's forecast: a bright, sunny outlook upon awakening is already starting to cloud over, and prospects will worsen throughout the day until a deep trough of tiredness causes a complete collapse around 3pm, right in the middle of a university exams committee meeting in which I will be entirely eclipsed by a thicket of Deputy Deans. Memo to self: doctor's appointment, eftsoons and right speedily. Bored now.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was helping my mother pack up the kitchen (full of random broken gadgets) in order to relocate from our island beachfront home. Then I was living in a garret in a faintly Victorian city, sneaking around backstage at a theatre, and trying to avoid the persistent swarm of black bugs tracking me as I flew through the city. I fiendishly overcame them on a legal loophole by virtue of the fact that my feet never actually touched the ground.
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Good grief. Today's completely surreal experience: shopping in the local supermarket, wherein a scheduled power cut (they're digging up cables in the road outside) had caused a total and absolute failure of interior lighting, although the emergency generators were keeping the vital areas of the store going, viz. the tills. Spurning the attentions of rather archaic shop assistants bearing lighted candles, I found my way around by means of the torch which lives in my Capacious Handbag o'Doom. I felt pleasantly superior, but ended up accidentally buying all sorts of things I thought were actually something else.

This post is completely and absolutely for [ profile] schedule5, who is reportedly champing at the bit somewhat, exiled as she is in the benighted North and away from the hot reproductive action. [ profile] wolverine_nun's baby shower was this morning. I took photos. They're here.

Caveat: I am locked in an unrelenting death struggle with my camera, which has its own, idiosyncratic ideas about settings, speed and light. I nonetheless feel, as the legitimate owner of the camera and despite my complete and absolute absence of photographic skill, that my own preferences have some right to expression. A certain lack of harmony is inevitable. As a result, this batch of photos was uniformly awful. The seven I have actually put up are the best of a truly horrible lot. They're all yellow-lit because of the walls in [ profile] first_fallen's living room, but the blurriness is all my own work.

I shall attempt to assuage my wounded artistic feelings with soothing clouds, spotted on the way to the baby shower this morning.

I feel better now.
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Gawsh. There are blisters on the soles of my feet, burns on my fingers and a sort of aching exhaustion in every bone of my body. It must have been a major SCA event. Have been cooking, or performing associated heavy lifting, since Thursday lunchtime. Am dead. On the upside, it was a good event, and the Shire evinced a gratifying tendency to enthusiastically inhale the pear cheesecake. On the downside, I got back at lunchtime today and have been marking *7%%^#&%^ essays all afternoon. The deadness is not assisting.

Two random happinesses which have resulted from this particular excursion:

1. In the supermarket on Thursday, while standing meditatively in the vegetable aisle contemplating the theoretical quantity of baby marrow likely to be consumed by 27 people as one fifth of a second course, a little old lady, of the tiny, genteel, birdlike variety, all pearls, immaculate white hair, and high Edwardian necklines, accosted me politely.
"Does that say R19.99 per kilogram?" she asked sweetly, indicating the superbly overpriced tomatoes blushing on an adjacent shelf.
"Indeed it does," I confirmed, switching my attention momentarily away from marrows.
"Well, stuff them!" she chirped. Then she gave this marvellously wicked and conspiratorial giggle, like a well-behaved schoolgirl who's suddenly been offered alcohol and sex by the curate they've been crushing on, and toddled demurely away.
I think I want to be one of those when I grow up. Except the word will be considerably more Anglo-Saxon than "stuff".

2. I'd forgotten how much I loved driving on the open road. I was alone in the car (except for food and cooking paraphernalia), and she went like a bomb. The trip up was in heavyish rain, fog and darkness, which for some bizarre reason I really enjoyed. The trip back was on a beautiful day, through the lovely scenery around Sir Lowry's Pass. I passed three Mercedes, two big gas-guzzling 4x4s, and a truly irritating road-hogging dude in a BMW convertible. It's a fortunate thing my car doesn't go any faster, I suffer from an unregenerate urge to drive like a bat out of hell. But it was one of those fated, magical trips, where speed and scenery coalesce into this little moving bubble of happy being.

My dad has been a maddened falconer since early youth, and exhibits a worrying tendency while driving to crane his neck out the window to look for falcon nests on passing stretches of likely cliff. I have a sort of weird semi-inheritance of this trait, except I crane my neck while driving to look at particularly spectacular displays of clouds. On extreme occasions, I celebrate the freedom of driving alone by stopping the car to randomly photograph them. Then I blog the result.


Wednesday, 6 December 2006 10:07 am
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I honestly cannot seem to get my subconscious out of Zimbabwe, and I still can't work out what these dreams are trying to tell me. Most recently it was a particularly surreal post-apocalyptic dream-Zimbabwe, with a pitiful remnant of survivors picking through the massive, brooding ruins of the city while mist wreathed their ankles and strange things threatened from the dark. Once again I was in my grandmother's house, although this time with half the furniture missing. The apocalyptic bit is clearly a straightforward reflection of the country's current disaster state, but why the preoccupation with the grandparents' house? Too odd.

Not enjoying this weather. I'm always slow and stupid in the heat, which is not helping this chapter much, although I think some kind of new, improved version is slowly emerging from the mass of verbiage and cobbled-over logic holes. In a vague, hopeless attempt to dilute this endless sunshine, here's a cloud. A metatextual word cloud, thus encapsulating several obsessions. Note the importance of tea, cats, moles and chocolate consumption.

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Someone let loose a really bad fantasy artist on Cape Town's sky this evening. It's all purple and pink, with clouds that are either fluffy, wispy or feathery, with occasional gilding. The light is gold. I swear, at any moment a herd of pearly white unicorns are going to come dancing through. Probably with hearts on their bottoms. Apart from the fact that anyone wantonly perpetrating the above skyscape in cold blood would be taken out back of the artist's convention and shot, it's stunningly beautiful.

In other news, last night I dreamed I was extensively kissing Dominic Monaghan. (Which is better than Ian McKellan, but still not a patch on Scroob, who apparently rates a nocturnal George Clooney). For some reason, ridiculous quantities of spit were involved. Possibly all this Lost is rotting my brain.
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I like Cape Town this morning, lots of low, slightly melancholy clouds and light rain, with a particularly pleasing fat, misty rainbow over Newlands and the university when I went shopping earlier. I am happy to report that I didn't actually meet an old man clothed all in leather, which is just as well. Openly flaunted fetish gear is always disconcerting in the aged. Or in anyone else, actually.

A good weekend, on the whole: jo's 30th birthday party on Saturday night, hosted by us as their flat is somewhat tiny; good party, and another outlet for my apparently recurring need to scurry around feeding the masses. Sunday night ended up as another of those impromptu braai evenings with jo&stv, by which I suspect my Evil Landlord is trying to annoy the Mad Old Bat neighbor sufficiently to bring her grey hairs in sorrow to the grave. I suppose we can hope. She deserved it, anyway, having "accidentally" watered a couple of our guests on Saturday night, presumably as her usual kind of passive-aggressive statement of outrage that we should dare to have a party of any sort. The braai itself was good, as usual, although being enlivened somewhat drastically by the sudden explosion (literally: loud bang and a rain of sparks) of the electric grill on which I was constructing garlic potatoes. Since it was about a foot from my head at the time (I was bending down to rootle in the cupboard under it), I was, to say the least, startled. Any subsequent heavy drinking was entirely on account of my nerves.

Dammit! I remember the second part of that misty-moisty nursery rhyme as ending with sadistic suddenness, with the phrase "I tripped up his heels and he fell on his nose", but searching Google insists that it ends with a lot of grinning and compliments and what have you. Although dodgy in its own right, mind you: "He began to compliment and I began to grin." Dirty old man. Further googling suggests that in fact I'm confusing two nursery rhymes: the mad martial arts assault one is about sadistic discrimination on grounds of physical deformity, not age and dodgy fetish gear. "As I was going to sell my eggs / I met a man with bandy legs, / Bandy legs and crooked toes; / I tripped up his heels, and he fell on his nose." It's the healthy pointless violence that tells you it's for the kiddies. Modern children's TV not so different, after all.

I like clouds

Friday, 24 February 2006 02:06 pm
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Clouds are deeply happy-making, and can be swopped with fellow cloud-fanciers like stv.

Word clouds are also vaguely interesting. (Or they were, once I'd googled the hell out of them). A word cloud for this blog looks like this:

There's a lot to be said for the representative power of randomness, which I suppose explains a lot about things like astrology and tarot.


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