Monday, September 27, 2010

doing it tough

Gosh, life can just be full of hardships can't it? DrH and I have taken a weeks holiday and are currently sitting on a terrace in the middle of Barcelona. It's been terribly sunny and warm and occasionally we've had to wait, oh, at least four minutes before the sangria was delivered to our table.

The suffering, I tell you.

Of course it has actually been slightly harder than normal to do the tourist route, what with my broken foot. We've had to curtail the walking somewhat, and do things at a slower pacer than we might otherwise have.

Take today. After waking up at 10, we read books for two hours until deciding to go for breakfast. We walked about 125 metres to the market, found a cafe and then sat and read for half an hour. Walked another 55 metres and found a lovely garden, where we sat and read for an hour. Walked 500 metres or so gawking at stuff, then decided to have lunch. We ate tapas and then read for another hour. A slow stroll back to our abode, stopping off to buy some antique earrings, and now we're reading again.

I've almost finished my second novel since holidays started yesterday morning and, for the record, The Wind-up Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi totally deserved its Hugo and Nebula awards.

Yep, this holiday thing. Really hard.

Friday, September 24, 2010

because europe is just a small backwater

Pretty much exactly a year ago I started looking at ereaders. Someone on twitter told me of the Txtr - a sexy looking little thing that was to be brought out by a local Berlin company. I was thrilled and waited about three months until I finally gave up on it as vapourware. As the same preregistration shit is still up on their site nine months later, I guess it is.

So I needed something else. For the previous year or so I'd been collecting the free ebooks that publishers and authors were putting out, and I'd reached about 150 of them. A significant amount to read, I figured, and worthy of an ereader purchase. But I'm unhappy with the idea of propriatary formats and I'm fundamentally aganist DRM, so the Kindle wasn't an option and neither was waiting for the then mystical iPad.

So I bought a Pocketbook 360 and must say I'm still really happy with it. It's small, light and robust and has a hard cover which is easy to remove. Readability is great and glare minimal. I use it in the simplest possible way - dragging and dropping ePub and pdf files and that's fine by me.

The biggest problem when I bought it was actually buying books. Open format, DRM free? Not so easy. But I found a few places that would. Then they started hammering in the geographical restrictions. And now it's almost impossible to buy books at all. Tor, a publishing company that put out a whole bunch of freebie ebooks as advertising has almost no ebooks available. Still. A year later. And those that are are only available to the US - with DRM of course.

Now I was very understanding of the whole copyright/different publishers/different countries thing for the last year but this has gotten ridiculous. They're destroying their own customer base. Who'll actually go back and start paying for books again when they've gotten in the habit of pirating them for free?

I've held off on the temptation so far - today I bought a huge number of books from Webscriptions, because now they're pretty much the only ones who will sell DRM free ePubs in Germany. Even thought the covers of most of those books are somewhat, well, cheap and off-putting, their sample novels given out via the Baen free library were convincing enough that I've now bought the entire back catalogue of several of their authors.

Y'know what Tor? I would've done the same for you. Only you don't want me to pay for your books apparently. So good luck with that whole surviving the demise of the publishing industry thing. I really reckon you're onto a winning strategy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So I've been limping around for a week and my ankle hasn't really gotten any better. We're flying to Barcelona on Saturday for a week so I figured I probably should see a doctor here before I go. You know, in case it turns into gangrene and falls off and I'm in a hospital where all I can say in the local language is "Una cerveza, por favor".

Yep, DrH is going to have to order his own. I haven't gotten as far as counting to two yet.

So I got an appointment with my favourite orthopaed who, when I normally see him, is working up a sweat throwing me around the room to try and fix my neck. He was quite impressed with the general level of bruising and soreness I had after a week, so I got a x-ray.

Of course I forgot my android was in my pocket so either smart phones aren't sensitive to that kind of radiation or the lead apron you wear to protect your ovaries also works for mobile devices.

The end of all this is that I've chipped the end of my fibula. This is officially my first broken bone and makes me rather proud. It took 35 years but I finally managed to crack one. Hmmm, maybe this is the first sign of osteoporosis.

So I'm wearing a splint for the next three weeks until it's hopefully attached again. Derby training is on hold and I'll be limping around on the tourist trek of Barcelona next week. I'm planning on rest breaks for a brief wine restorative, oh, every hundred metres or so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hobbling along

I twisted my ankle last week. Embarrassingly enough I wasn't even on skates at the time. I wasn't trying out some new moves or taking out the competition or trying to slip past a blocker at high speed. Nope, I was walking the dog on a deceptively flat pavement, where a slight dip between a grassy verge and a paved footpath reached out in the dark and dragged my ankle sideways. So I've been limping a bit pathetically for a few days. And whinging. I'm good at that.

Then I saw this derby injury and figured I should probably shut up with my pathetic little injury. Apparently there is much more in store for me.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Roll 'em

I think I may have done something stupid. At least, stupider than the normal things I do. Which makes it pretty goddamn stupid.

I signed up for a beginners course in Roller Derby.

I'd you're not familiar with this trend sport, it's basically chicks on roller skates beating each other up. At least that what it looks like the first time you go and see a bout.

Today I got onto skates for the first time in twenty years. I didn't embarrass myself too much, but I certainly no longer possess the nimbleness of youth. Or the basic fitness. Or endurance. Or flexible bones.

Nicely enough, the Bear City Rollers put a lot of emphasis into both skills training and fitness and so we did a lot of very deliberate falling today. Knees, hips, elbows, we landed on them all and I'm going to have one monster arse bruise from a fall I totally fucked up.

Three hours of training and every single muscle hurts. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to move tomorrow, but I'm planning on being on skates again on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

apparently I've become a housewife

I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen these days. Before I start ruining my reputation too much, I will let you know that I don't clean. I don't vacuum or iron or put the washing on - those are what you have a husband for and far be it for me to interfere with something he does with such obvious enjoyment. Dusting is my thing, and attacking the scale in the bathroom, but the rest of the housekeeping duties are not for me. It's a deal which works out pretty well for both of us.

Anyway, today I went shopping at a fantastic kitchen supplies place, Coledampf's, thinking I'd grab some baking stuff. You know, some muffin tins or cookie cutters or something which I OBVIOUSLY desperately need and please ignore the pile of supplies I already have.

But in one corner was a beautiful shiny pile of glass jars with rubber seals and clips all ready for jam and preserve making season. And they called to me with the beguiling voice of kitchenware.

"There's that relish recipe that Mum gave you which she had from that woman in the old folk's home where Nanna was..."

Moo's Relish. I'm not joking with the name. And this recipe has run riot through family and friends. It's famous, Moo's Relish, among at least twenty people of suburban Geelong. Man, is that some good relish.

So I grabbed an armful of jars, as well as the recipe book on display, and bicycled them home.

Brief aside: have I mentioned I got a new bike for my birthday? It's a classic Holland bike and I look exactly like the Wicked Witch of the West as she cycled off into the tornado. It may be that I cackled on my way home tonight.

I decided to build my way up to Moo's by trying out the new book and downscaling everything for just one or two jars. After all, I had to get the hang of sterilizing stuff without a handy lab autoclave nearby. And I kept wanting to do everything with full aseptic techinique under a bunsen burner but, surprisingly, the books instructions didn't include that.

So I've made a small jar of Lime Curd and a Peach and Date Chutney. The kitchen is a minor disaster area, but that's not my problem to deal with and instead I can admire these cute little jars filled with deliciousness. And next week I think I'll go and buy some more. We may have to build in extra storage space, now that I come to think of it.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I've been on a baking thing recently. I'm not entirely sure why, but almost every weekend, and many weeknights, I've found myself in the kitchen creaming and kneading.

No, not like that. Take your mind out of the gutter.

Last weekend I decided to go the whole hog and give sour dough a try. Honestly I'm not sure why it worried me- many years ago I was growing 15 litres of yeast a day and demanding much more of the wee beasties than just getting some bread to rise and that worked out. Usually.

So on Saturday I cracked out the baking book my mother gave me when I moved here and complained about the bread (yes, Germans, that complaint goes in both directions) and put the starter on. Sunday I added more flour to get the sponge going and the whole thing was looking pretty good. I got a little worried on monday as the sponge was looking a bit yellower and not smelling as yeasty as I'd thought it should and I know how bad a bacterial infection can be for a yeast culture.

But I bit the bullet and made the bread and damn me if it didn't just turn out delicious.

So now I've found a potato based starter online and think I'll put that on tonight....