Masterchef 2008

Congratulations to James, a worthy winner of this year’s Masterchef, although Emily was the outstanding star of the whole series and will no doubt go on to succeed in anything she attempts.

Still, I haven’t forgiven Torode and Wallace for sending home James the horse groom. He should have been in the final, and not sent home in favour of the policewoman who made all the gravy and custard dishes. 😦

Feeling shrewish

So there’s this ear-cracking, shrill shriek from the kitchen. A minute furry ball with a pointy nose and stubby tail is raiding the cats’ food, lugging from the plate a chunk of meat the size of its head. Utterly undeterred by our presence, it hauls its booty behind the waste bin. Obligingly it shuffles into a large glass jar, looking back wistfully at the meat chunk, then turning its attention immediately to some remnants of porridge oats in the jar. We hold it beneath the light, watching the little creature struggle manfully with the dry, dusty food for a few moments; then we give it a fresh chunk of meat, and release it into the garden.

My camera batteries were being recharged, and so we did not capture a photograph of our small visitor. Instead, here’s one from the Ranger’s Blog, a charming and informative UK blog about the wonders of nature and wildlife, and treating cane toads with haemorroid cream.

Easy-peasy partitioning software

Thanks mainly to Ed at Tech Throes, I now have a fully-functioning Linux operating system installed beside Windows XP on my laptop.

Along the way I had to do some work on partitioning my hard drive, something which struck fear into my heart after all the warnings I had read of the potentially apocalyptic events that could be unleashed by this exercise. Over the next 24 hours I watched in fascination and sometimes horror as my partitions grew, shrank, disappeared and multiplied mysteriously. But with patience and the help of several pieces of software, I have ended up with the partitions exactly as I wanted them, so I thought I would share the usefool tools I found in the hope they might help others.

If you have ever tried to defragment using the Windows XP supplied program, you may, like me, have given up waiting after 10 hours of very little progress. In that case may I recommend Auslogics Disc Defrag, an excellent free and very fast utility which you can download from here.

Do you want to know what is eating up all the space on your drives? Then download SequoiaView, which you can find here. Clever graphic display shows you where your memory is vanishing. I recovered 7 GB of disc space by using it. Free.

I used several packages to try and find the solution to my multiple unwanted partitions, and the one that worked best for me is called EASEUS Partition Manager, and is so simple to use that I couldn’t quite believe it had worked. You can download a free demo version of EASEUS, and the full version, although it isn’t free, is inexpensive – €29 to download from here. With all my various partitions lined up like railway carriages, it required nothing more than clicking on a carriage and either dragging it left to right, or right to left, to decrease or increase its size. It automatically swallowed up the mysterious “free space” and “unallocated” space plus all the other self-created partitions that I didn’t want, leaving just the two I wanted.

From there it was a piece of pie to install Linux PCLOS onto the hard drive with the “Use free space in Windows” option. Set-up did everything automatically, saving me having to do any more partitioning myself. Maybe geeks will pour scorn on this method, and tell me of “better” methods, but hey, I’m just a mere woman; it’s working perfectly, so I’m happy. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

And by the way, I have no affiliation with any of these sites, and nothing to gain by promoting them; I just want to share with others who may benefit from them.

Knowing me, knowing you

Oh Kylee, how could you, you naughty little thing? Here I was, ready to settle down on a peaceful, wet afternoon with Gerald Seymour and a cup of cocoa, and you have tagged me with this huge list. πŸ™‚ So, with apologies in advance I tag Mya, Suzie and Trish, who should only play if they feel like doing so, and should address any complaints to Kylee who started it.

Copy this entire list of questions and change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then tag and pass it along to other blogging friends. Let’s see how well we can get to know one another!

1. What is your occupation? Writer/editor

2. What color are your socks right now? No socks

3. What are you listening to right now? Rain

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Flapjacks

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Pale grey

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Denise, who is in the process of adopting a pug called Harvey

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Mais oui!

9. Favorite drink? Baileys and Dooleys

10. What is your favorite sport to watch? Competitive cooking, as in Masterchef.

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes.

12. Pets? Goats, dogs, cats, parrot, hens

13. Favorite food? Italian, Indian, Chinese, Greek, English, Cheese Fondue

14. Last movie you watched? The Kite Runner

15. Favorite Day of the year? Any autumn day

16. What do you do to vent anger? Shout rude words, throw things, slam doors

17. What was your favorite toy as a child? A tiny set comprising 3 bears, a table, 3 chairs, cups and plates. The whole set fitted into a box no larger than a matchbox.

18. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Fall (autumn in English English πŸ™‚ )

19. Hugs or kisses? Hugs

20. What kind of pie? Savoury – cheese and onion

21. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes, otherwise I worry that something awful has happened to them.

22. Who is most likely to respond? All of them I hope!

23. Who is least likely to respond? Ginni

24. Living arrangements? Old farmhouse, large, carpeted throughout with dog hair

25. When was the last time you cried? Last time I saw the cranes flying over

26. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and sewing machine

27. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Trish – but she’s probably too busy to reply

28. The friend you have known the shortest amount of time that you are sending this to? Suzie

29. Favorite smell? Sweaty horse

30. What inspires you? People

31. What are you afraid of? Losing those most precious to me

32. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Veggie burger, spicy, with cheese!

33. Favorite car? As long as it goes, has effective heating and is reasonably comfortable, I’m happy

34. Favorite cat breed? All cats

35. Number of keys on your key ring? No key ring, no keys

36. How many years at your current job? Lots

37. Favorite day of the week? Every day is much like every other day when you don’t have to go somewhere to work.

38. How many provinces have you lived in? Provinces? Lived in three countries: Kenya, England and France.

39. How many countries have you been to? Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, England, Ireland, Wales, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, France, Andorra, America, Barbados (is that a country?). That’s enough for now.

There, all that information, and nothing of interest. πŸ˜‰

A ray of hope?

Galgo News reports that Spanish police in the Toledo area have been using helicopters to track down galgueros. Several of these cursed creatures have been detained and will be charged with crimes against fauna and flora. Does this mean that the Spanish authorities are really beginning to do something about the shameful behaviour of the people who hunt with galgos?

And more good news – Noa, the galga puppy who was hit by a car and had both front legs broken is now on the mend, and living with her adoptive family in Atlanta, USA. Her story here.Β 

Nipples – why do men have them?

Yesterday I drove past a house where a strange and ancient couple once lived. He was a gentle old boy who acted as slave to his harridan wife who claimed infirmity prevented her doing anything physical like housework or cooking (although, once she had driven him to his grave, she found a new and active lease of life). Most of his mind seemed to have closed down, but he was willing with the duster, managed their microwave meals and could lay a mean tea-tray. With prompting from the harpy hunched in her armchair he would produce a plate of very sweet, hard biscuits which scratched the enamel off your teeth; a sugar bowl; a milk jug; cups, saucers, dainty plates, teaspoons, and a pot of boiling water. The tea bag always eluded him, but guests knew that and took their own, discreetly dropping them in the pot when his back was turned. I hope that he found his reward in the afterlife for his unfailingly patient acceptance here on earth of his shrieking, snarling, sarcastic spouse.

Passing that house reminded me of male nipples, because the aged gentleman was a compulsive nipple-twiddler. When we sat talking his hands were permanently on his chest, his fingers busily twiddling, his eyes fixed on my eyes which were fixed on his fingers. Although I found this quite strange behaviour with somebody he barely knew, it obviously gave him enormous pleasure; and who could begrudge him that?

So that’s one function that they serve. Here’s another: Men who breastfeed – Milkmen

Why I can’t believe in God

At first, I did. Going to a Roman Catholic school from the age of 5 to 12, God ruled much of my life, and I was very frightened of him. He was all-seeing, all-knowing and able to STRIKE YOU DOWN, and condemn small girls to Hell or worse if they were wicked – talked in assembly, ran in corridors, or didn’t pay attention. Yes, God scared the shit out of the small me.

It worried me greatly how easy it was to fall foul of God. Even newborn babies were not safe from his wrath: if they died, through no fault of their own, with the original sin on their souls (if he was all-powerful and could do anything, why couldn’t he have arranged for souls to be clean when they were first issued?) then they were automatically doomed to stay in Limbo.

If God who, it was drilled into us eight times a day at least, was loving, kind and merciful, I wondered why he wanted us to get out of bed of bitter mornings and kneel in an icy chapel with blue fingers, saying the same thing day after day after day. Why did he give me hay-fever every year? Why did he let let my parents divorce? Why did he let my friend’s father be killed in a car crash? Why did he allow these things to happen? Did he like making people miserable? What happened to the loving kind part? Or maybe it was personal – perhaps he just hated me? My fear of him developed into mistrust and dislike.

My God was a fearsome bearded figure who had me in his all-seeing, accusing eye and followed me with a perpetually pointing finger. As I grew up he faded into a vague being, towards whom I felt occasional resentment, and to whom in very rare moments in extremis I screamed for help. When life went smoothly, I didn’t think of him at all.

But recently I’ve thought about the concept of God a great deal. And that’s because the news is full, every day, of terrible things. Small girls kidnapped and never found. Old people abused and starved in nursing homes. Avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis, diseases, famines, forest fires, wars, all bringing immeasurable suffering to people who have done nothing to deserve such misery and must also scream for help that doesn’t come. Mindless hooligans kick and batter harmless people to death for fun. Helpless animals are tortured for entertainment. Popes, cardinals, bishops live in palaces, while people sleep under sheets of plastic or in doorways. I could rant on endlessly.

I can’t believe in an “omnipotent” god who can stand by and allow natural disasters or human cruelty and hatefulness full rein.