Blue Witch



   Monday, June 30, 2003  
This is a super little quiz that will enable you to determine which hemisphere of your brain is dominant and whether your learning style is more auditory or visual (although it's not as simple as that, as many people are kinaesthetic learners - ie learn best by doing - this does at least explain the reasoning behind their categorisation of each answer at the end)

The pre-blurb says:

"Each of the hemispheres of our brain have prescribed functions or specialities. In this manner the brain avoids duplication of function. Our hemispheres always work together so that we will experience a combination of right and left hemisphere in everything we do. There is, however, a tendency for one hemisphere to be dominant. This dominance effects how we respond to new experiences and situations. Armed with the knowledge of how we use our brains, we are better equipped to know the style of learning most effective for us."

Learning styles are something I am acutely aware of in my work. Not everyone knows, or has even ever considered, how they learn best. In days of old, classroom teaching methods (rote-learning of facts, delivery via chalk-and-talk) favoured left-brain, auditory processors. Nowadays, supported by IT, multi-modal presentation of information is becoming the norm. Teachers are more aware of teaching and learning styles. Nevertheless, some children continue to struggle in school not because they are incapable of learning, but because what is being taught is not being delivered in a format they can naturally easily access.

I have tried this quiz out on a couple of children I have worked with and its results seem to support what is suggested by more detailed analysis.

Actually, my results are a pretty good summary of me too: (especially the fact that there is 1% of my brain that doesn't appear to work at all :)

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 64%
Visual : 35%
Left : 58%
Right : 41%

Blue Witch, you are mildly left-hemisphere dominant while showing a slight preference for auditory processing. This overall combination seems to indicate a well-working blend of logic and judgement and organisation, with sufficient intuition, perception and creativity to balance that dominance.

You will at times experience conflict between how you feel and what you think which will generally be resolved in favour of what you think. You will find yourself interested in the practical applications of whatever material you have learned or whatever situation you face and will retain the ability to refine whatever knowledge you possess or aspects of whatever position you are in.

By and large, you will orient yourself toward intellectual activities and structure. Though not rigid, you will schedule yourself, plan, and focus on routine and continuity of operations, rather than on changes and disruptions
When changes or disruptions occur, you are likely to consider first how to ensure that such disruptions do not upset your plans. The same balance is reflected in your sensory preference. You will tend to be reflective and measured in your interaction style. For the most part, you will be considered objective without being cold and goal-oriented while retaining the capacity to listen to others.

Preferentially you learn by listening and maintaining significant internal dialogues with yourself*. Nevertheless, you have sufficient visualisation capabilities to benefit from using graphs, charts, doodles, or even body movement to enhance your comprehension and memory.

To the extent that you are even implicitly aware of your hemispheric dominance and sensory style, you will feel most comfortable in those arenas which emphasise verbal skills and logic. Teaching, law, and science are those that stand out among the professions, along with technical sales and management."

* oooh yes, I always say, if you talk to yourself, at least you don't get silly answers :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:55 am....  
The Death of Common Sense

This one has just come into my in-box. I hadn't seen it before. I think it perfectly sums up so much of the frustration I feel on a daily basis.

If I had to list my personal attributes, "common sense" would be very high up my list. It seems to me to be something that is sadly missing in many situations, organisations, and people these days.

In fact, I've pretty much given up on bureaucracy. I just get on and do things now. Now that I don't work within a regulated environment I am much freer, and I have adopted the maxim "It's better to apologise than to ask permission."

"Today we mourn the passing of an old friend, Common Sense.

Common Sense lived a long life, but died in the United States from heart failure on the brink of the new millennium. No one really knows how old he was, since his birth records were lost long ago in bureaucratic red tape. He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes, and factories, helping folks get jobs done without fanfare and foolishness.

For decades, petty rules, silly laws, and frivolous lawsuits held no power over common Sense. He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn't always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and it's okay to come in second. In his day, "Because I said so", was never questioned. A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends including body piercing, Whole Language, and "New Math." But his health declined when he became infected with the "If-it-only-helps-one-person-it's-worth-it" virus.

In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of well intentioned but overbearing regulations. He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero tolerance policies. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, a teen suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition. It declined even further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but could not inform the parent when a female student was pregnant or wanted an abortion.

Common Sense lost his will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, criminals received better treatment than victims, and federal judges stuck their noses in everything from the Boy Scouts to professional sports. When a woman, too stupid to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, was awarded a huge settlement, Common Sense threw in the towel. As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding questionable regulations such as those for low flow toilets, rocking chairs, stepladders and auto emissions.

Common Sense finally succumbed when, while the United States was fighting a war on terrorism, a federal judge declared the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by two stepbrothers: My Rights, and Ima Whiner.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone and a lot of people, in this day and age, did not even know that he existed at all. Too bad."

All suggestions for Anglicising it welcome...

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:54 am....  
Thought for the day:

We need to notice those things that make us feel good about ourselves and do them as often as possible.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:26 am....

   Sunday, June 29, 2003  
Inner Strength

If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,

If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then you are probably a dog.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:33 am....  
Thought for the day:

"People think winners don't fall, but you have to fall to learn."

- Oksana Baiul
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:22 am....

   Saturday, June 28, 2003  
BW on BB

That is, Blue Witch on Big Bore.

Of course, one then has the letters HRT left over, so I'd suggest that the production team give them some hormone replacement therapy in the vain hope that things will liven up a bit.

Seriously, I think this is possibly the most boring and over-rated programme on TV at the moment. I could have gone out into the street, picked 12 people at random and made something more entertaining. I can remember, back at the beginning, saying that they were all too nice. And, sadly, nice people are often boring. If the half-hour they serve up on C4 every night is the edited highlights, the best bits, then I'm amazed the inmates haven't died of boredom in that house.

Tonight I shall be watching paint dry instead of watching Big Bore HRT.
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:29 pm....  
The 11th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

This week there are 3 contenders only.

I'm sure there were more out there, and I know that some one of you have has been trying very hard to make me laugh, but... It's not an exact science. I have hardly had a chance to breathe, let alone blog, or read blogs, since Wednesday. When I get stressed, I have a sense of humour failure.

And, now I am tired, tired, tired. All my joints ache, the glands in my neck are swollen, my arms keep getting pins and needles for no reason, I'm all photophobic and my head feels like it has a hangover, when it hasn't. As ever when I overdo things. Silly Witch, never learns the meaning of "pacing herself." So, it's back to bed soon.

Except that Mr BW has just informed me there are a couple of BT men up our pole ;) I think that was meant to be a little hint for me not to walk around the garden with only a nightie (or even nothing) on as I have been doing recently. I think I'm turning into a naturist actually. I just can't bear wearing clothes at present. Trouble is, sooner or later I'm going to forget I have no clothes on, be pottering about the garden, hear the doorbell and go and answer it... Could be a great way of increasing honey sales :) Can you get arrested for having no clothes on in your own garden - which, I hasten to add, isn't overlooked?

Anyway, back to what I'm meant to be going on about....

Contender 1

"After one of those bizarre 'I recognise you' moments in a tube station where I got to riffle through a friends supermarket shopping, good choices, lots of veggies, will so be round for ma tea...had a late lunch and several bottles of champagne with my sister and her friends, one of which is a dietician...see this ass? You won't for much longer *slides empty carton of Ben & Jerry's out of view* as from tomorrow I am on top of the whole diet thing for good."

Guess who? Yep. Oh, and it's "whom", not "which" Eloon dear, btw. Must give these aspiring writers a hand with the fundamentals of grammar, mustn't we? ;) (The phrase involving stones and glasshouses springs to mind here ;) )

Contender 2

Alan: "I wasn't going to buy Harry Potter and the Three Year Marketing Campaign."

But, I think I was laughing more at the fact that he'd fallen for the media hype than at his description of the book. Sorry Alan :)

Contender 3

Oops, Alan seems to have my number now (although I still haven't posted his honey, sorry Alan, I need a box the right size and two minutes to actually wrap it up and go to the Post Office):

"Today's office entertainment
I'm prowling around looking for geese. When I find one, I'm going to walk up to it, and say -
in a perfectly normal tone of voice - "boo"."

And the winner...

.....will be announced later, if and when I wake up again. Bloody good job I did all the bits n pieces for that bit in the middle as I went along this week, cos I just couldn't do tags and links right now. Please insert your sympathy in the comments box below. Please give generously.... :) Alan, for the goose one. Just to prove to certain people that I do laugh at things other than smut, occasionally ;)

Updated scoresheet is here.

   posted by Blue Witch at 12:29 pm....

   Friday, June 27, 2003  
Your job isn't this bad, surely?
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:48 pm....  
Thought for the day:

Sir Robert Chiltern: But may I ask, at heart, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Those seem to be the only two fashionable religions left to us nowadays.

Mrs Cheveley: Oh, I'm neither. Optimism begins in a broad grin, and Pessimism ends with blue spectacles.

- Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Related question: Do you perceive a glass as half full or half empty?
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:36 am....

   Thursday, June 26, 2003  
Thought for the day:

The more frazzled we get, the more we try to control our world. The more we try to control our world, the more failure we experience and the more frazzled we get.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:11 am....

   Wednesday, June 25, 2003  
The trouble with weblogs is.

"People used to worry about the government compiling a database of everything they knew about you and everything you did. But who'd have thought we'd be so keen to keep updating our own entries?"

There's always someone looking at you...

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:31 pm....  
This made me laugh earlier:

Things That Are Difficult to Say When You're Drunk:


Things That Are VERY Difficult to Say When You're Drunk:

British Constitution
Passive-aggressive disorder

Things That Are Downright IMPOSSIBLE to Say When You're Drunk:

Thanks, but I don't want to sleep with you
Nope, no more booze for me
Sorry, but you're not really my type
No kebab for me, thank you
Good evening officer, isn't it lovely out tonight?
I'm not interested in fighting you.
Oh, I just couldn't - no one wants to hear me sing
No, I wont make any attempt to dance thanks, I have zero co-ordination.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:00 pm....  
*Value Witch Mode*

Right, having now tried it for two months, I can confidently announce that, as suggested by my extensive research, for low and medium mobile phone users*, the best deal available is the Orange Value Promise Virgin Price-Match Tariff .

I believe that this is a *much* better deal than any PAYG package, and any other Orange (or indeed other network) package. Of course, it is identical to the Virgin tariff, but with the better coverage and customer service of Orange (who, incidentally, I rate in my Top 5 of Consumer-Aware Companies as they actually seem to care about sorting out customers' problems and offer you fair compensation for errors they make).

There is no line rental, no minimum contract period, and no top-ups required (so you never run out of credit at an inopportune moment and the £20 stays in your account not theirs). You get a monthly bill (payable by direct debit - so in the unlikely event that there is a problem, your bank is responsible for sorting it out).

You are charged only for calls made, and these are the same regardless of the time of day: 15p per minute for the first 5 minutes every day, then 5p per minute after that, and 10p per text (all prices include VAT). Orange to Orange calls are at the same rate, but cross-network calls are 35p per minute at all times. Plus they give you £5 in the account to start off with, and calls to retrieve voice-mail are free (unlike on most other Orange packages).

I used a 15-month pay-up-front Orange package for the past couple of years as that was the best value available then. This Orange:OVP Virgin Price-Match Tariff is even cheaper. I've been a mobile phone user for 10 years now, and this is the cheapest tariff I've ever found. Less than one quarter of the price of my original package back in 1993!

You can port your existing number from another network if you want, or change from an existing Orange plan just by ringing customer services (they will even forward date your change to the end of an existing charging period). Info here.

If anyone thinks they can better this deal, with no tie-ins, I'm listening...

* The sole exception to this is for very high-volume text users who don't make calls. There is a PAYG O2 package that gives you 300 free texts a month provided that you add at least £10 of credit a month.

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:31 am....  
Thought for the day

"Don't criticize what you don't understand"

- Bob Dylan
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:20 am....

   Tuesday, June 24, 2003  
If I ever found myself in a situation needing this sort of advice, I'm afraid I'd call an ambulance not frig about doing a Yahoo search... ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:25 pm....  
Just finishing writing a report here, needed to check something out. Intended to put "LAMDA" into Google and accidentally entered "LAMBDA". The first 3 results of the search return made me laugh....
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:27 pm....  
At last!

From December 1st 2003 it will be illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. The new offence will carry a £30 fine and 3 penalty points, and up to a £1000 fine if the case goes to court. The BBC website claims, "Studies by the Transport Research Laboratory have suggested using a hand-held mobile is more dangerous than drink driving". I can't find the original research anywhere at the moment, unfortunately, as I'm afraid I just cannot believe that. (Update - found more details, if not the original research - it was a study on 20 volunteers on a driving simulator - hardly a reliable or valid study. Aren't journalists wonderful in their juxtaposition of stories!)

Using a mobile hands-free will still be covered by the same careless driving legislation as smoking, eating and drinking, shaving and putting on make-up. And we've all seen people doing those... Never done them ourselves, of course ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:00 pm....  
Being ex-directory and registered with the Telephone Preference Service, I rarely have to deal with annoying sales calls. However, just now...

Phone: Ring ring, ring ring...
Me: Good morning, Blue Witch speaking.
Woman: Ah hello, can I speak to Mrs Blue Witch please?
Me: Erm yes, you are...
Woman: I'm calling from Yellow Pages to let you know that we have entered into a special marketing relationship with your professional association...
Me: Can I save us both some time? I don't want to buy advertising in Yellow Pages!
Woman: Can I ask why?
Me: Because I don't need to advertise in Yellow Pages, I have more work than I want already.
Woman: But advertising in Yellow Pages is guaranteed to bring you results!
Me: I said, I already have more work than I want, or can handle.
Woman: Yes, but if you advertised in Yellow Pages, you could expand!
Me: How? By cloning myself? The reason I'm so busy is because there are very few people in this area who do the kind of work I do, therefore there's no scope to expand. Even if I wanted to, which I don't.
Woman: So how do people know where to find you if you don't advertise in Yellow Pages?
Me: Sorry, the answer is no. You won't persuade me.
Woman: Well, I'll send you some information anyway as I know it will interest you.
Me: It won't, but I do have a large recycling box.
Woman: Well, good luck to you both, I'll call you again in a few months to see if you've changed your mind.

What the hell did she mean by both? Did she mean me and the large recycling box? Or did she think I have already cloned myself? Now there's a thought... I'll work on it.
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:51 am....  
Thought for the day:

"Women are a fascinatingly wilful sex. Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself."

- Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:53 am....

   Monday, June 23, 2003  
My aim is true

BW is reliably informed that these are being installed in men's public toilets all over the country in an attempt to, erm, improve standards of hygiene ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:39 pm....  
The fine art of Googling

Over in the comments at NB the answer to my question about how to stop Google searching BW has finally come to light, thanks to groc. It's to do with robots.txt. This is a useful file that keeps search engines from indexing pages you do not want spidered. However, unless you are running your blog through your own (remotely hosted) domain name, as far as I can see, you can't use it. And, if you run your blog through your own domain name, unless you got someone else to register the domain name for you, your personal details can be found by anyone who knows where to look up owners of domains (ie anyone who can use a search engine). Sort of self-defeating really?

And, for anyone who wants "inside info" on Google, there is Google Guy Says. Now, "GoogleGuy is a Google employee who is very helpful in responding to questions and providing information to webmasters in the forums at WebmasterWorld", but, this site (which has only been up for a week) quotes and interprets what Google Guy has said. (via link machine)

It's all way too complicated for a simple Witch like me. So, as my spells to make Blogger and Google behave have failed miserably, I'm planning to send the boys round to deal with them, once and for all. Well, the boy, to be exact. My brother lives 5 miles from their HQ in Mountain View, California. There is always a way to sort problems. Always :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:24 am....  
Please tell me why someone would search for "beetroot tinnitus"?

And, please tell me how there are 46 returns, and the one above me is Troubled Diva?

And do pop over to Planarchy and look at Nic's wonderful picture of daturas (do click to enlarge it to get the full effect). Even if you have no idea what a datura is, and have no interest in gardening, the light on the picture is wonderful. Nic kindly mailed me a full-size version and I just keep sitting and staring at it when I should be working. Magic.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:27 am....  
Thought for the day:

We flee happiness much more often than it flees us.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:01 am....

   Sunday, June 22, 2003  
BW on BB

Long-time readers may remember my post about bedding. I'm talking clean sheets here, of course ;)

Now, I only (sometimes) half-watch the daily Big Brother C4 summaries, so I'm hoping someone who watches rather more frequently or carefully can reassure me about this, but....

Do they ever change the sheets on their beds in BB? Or do the production staff do it? I'm just thinking how bad it must smell in that house otherwise. No windows in the bedrooms to open to let in some fresh air either.

And what about the tea towels and bath towels?

Witches do worry about the strangest things, you know.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:52 pm....  
The 10th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

I couldn't decide this week. So, it's going to Eloon, for sheer bare-faced cheek, perseverance and ingenuity. As well as making me laugh :)

2 points dear, but although you can proudly display the winner's trophy over at yours all week, you still don't have enough points for the yummy honey (unlike Alan, who is, no doubt, salivating already :) Plus, you'll have to extract your own honey when you do eventually get enough points. That's if, and when, of course ;) Extracting honey is a nasty, sticky, messy business, as some readers know from personal experience. No links there. Except for careful readers ;) I'll either deliver the beehive to County Hall (as you've already made ID passes for all of the bees, as you said the other day, it shouldn't be a problem), or you and your white pebbles can come to The Coven, where we have the proper equipment. Be afraid little girl, be very afraid :)

Note to anyone who thinks I've totally lost it today, she started it, honest :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:03 am....  
Thought for the day:

There is a gift in everything. The best gifts in life come badly wrapped.
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:50 am....

   Saturday, June 21, 2003  
Special Announcement

I am reliably informed that the new Harry Potter book is actually the OFSTED report on Hogwarts' recent Inspection. The "Order of the Phoenix" is a euphemism for the fact that the school is now in Special Measures.
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:55 pm....  
The 10th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

This week there are lots of contenders. Too many to count considering that I have nearly 3000 mosaic tiles (a total of 2.4 square metres) to randomly attach to the Mediterranean Garden seat today. Actually, I may have a way of avoiding that as Mr BW knocked a glass of blackcurrant over as we were making the bed last night having been to a very nice lady's posh pasta garden party and returned home drunk (me) and very tired having had no sleep on the plane the previous night (him). I've been putting off shampooing the downstairs carpets (nasty job), but think that it might just be a better option than doing mosaic. And I could spin it out a bit too as it's his fault I need to do it, even though I hate doing it, isn't it? ;)

I'm sure there must have been more contenders, but, with Mr BW having been away for most of the week, I haven't had as much time to look around as I sometimes have. I also forgot to cut and paste a couple of contenders. I know I forgot, but I can't remember what or where it was that made me laugh that I forgot. If I don't add them to my little MBWLA file as I spot them, then I'm doomed. So, you might have written a gem that will forever be "the one that got away". Sorry.

So, much later, carpets cleaned and mosaic finished (more about that another time). So....

Contender 1

A bit of a cheat this one. Eloon knows every trick in the book to elicit BW Points. And I fall for it every time. Sigh ;)

Contender 2

Regular consumers of BW will know how much I like comments boxes. One BW point goes to Ron this week for running the most unexpected chatroom on his site of an ostensibly different and serious tone. He used not to have comments, and I only discovered that he'd got them going this week. That is, the comments and his acquaintances. Tuesday's (16th) comment thread is a particularly good example. It was at well over 100 last time I dropped by. As you will see, I did attempt to get them on topic, but failed, miserably ;)

Contender 3


"J K Rowling has been particularly secretive about the plot, but she has released a couple of short extracts as a teaser. What might the adolescent Harry have on his mind in this new volume? Could it be any of the following?

"The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four."

a) "Oh my head," said Harry. "Even my magic powers are no match for three pints of Snakebite."

b) "I hope that's long enough in the sun," said Harry. "Hermione's bound to fancy me if I get a really good tan."

c) "I'm such a rebel," thought Harry. "But I hope Uncle can't smell this roll-up when I go back indoors."

"Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. 'It is time,' he said, 'for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.'"

a) "Good," said Harry. "It's about time we had sex education classes."

b) "It's Real Madrid, said Dumbledore. "They want to buy you for £25 million"

c) "Hang on", said Harry, "book one was set only four years ago, not five." "I know," said Dumbledore. "I always was rubbish at maths."

Contender 4

And then there was dave. He who needed to be followed around the comments boxes on various sites in order to fully understand this post. Just read the comments underneath and you (may) understand why this qualifies for the MBWLA :)

And it carried on the next morning...

"Oooh dave, touché methinks.
Blue Witch

Am I the first to notice that your relationship seems to consist entirely of comments to each other and the occasional mushy "I wuv woo" post.
Separate beds?

(This refers, of course, to dave and his other half)

steve - of course me and BW have separate beds! what would our rock hudsons say if it we didn't?

Contender 5

And, FINALLY, Alan gets the final point he needs for his jar of BW Honey with this (and do read the comments underneath too).

"Like Caligula, most girls want a pony.
Boys of a similar age want to be soldiers. They have Action Man figures to re-enact all the activities that Action Men encounter. Crawling through the jungle. Fighting corporate criminals and international terrorists. Changing in to each others clothes. Sharing a bunk. Communal showers.
Or was that just me?"

It's on its way sweetie. Just bear in mind I'm Value Witch and its coming economy to Ireland, so don't expect it too soon, eh? ;)

Contender 6

We all know those people who are always scrounging things, don't we? Peter has the ultimate answer. Sadly, not one I can use, or even adapt, but... it made me laugh:
"He asked for a pint, which I bought him. He asked for a cigarette, which I gave him. Then later, drunk as a skunk, he asked for a cigarette again. "Listen, honey..." I cautioned. "One pint and one cig are one thing. More than that and it becomes a bit rent-boy doncha think?" Big Al was in hysterics beside me. "I mean - what're you gonna do for this cigarette?"
I sat there, psychically beaming visions of fifty-six-year-old flesh into his unlined head. He paused, hand halfway to the cigarette packet, then withdrew it and never asked for a cigarette again.

Contender 7

And, Peter gets another point for this

"We touched on depression as we chatted. "I think depression is for special people," Louise opined. "People who can't burn that brightly all the time so they have sink down for a rest." "I always say depression is better than nothing, " I agreed. "It can actually be quite exciting - almost killing yourself but not quite. How edgy is that?".

But, I think you have to have been there to laugh at that :)

And the winner is: Who do you think?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:36 am....  
Thought for the day

"Bored by the tedious and improving conversation of those who have neither the wit to exaggerate nor the genius to romance..."

- Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:11 am....

   Friday, June 20, 2003  
A Tribute

On April 19th I started writing about the difference between acquaintances and friends. I put up a 'Thought for the day' that said,

What's the difference between a 'friend' and an 'acquaintance'?

How many people know the difference?
How many people acknowledge the difference?
How many people use the term 'friend' when they really mean 'acquaintance'?

(New Blogger appears to have eaten half of my April and all of my May archive so, despite my efforts to republish the lot, I can't link to the post and the interesting comments that ensued.)

I had intended to carry on from that 'Thought for the day' with my definition, but, later that day I happened to be looking in one of my photo albums and came across some dated pictures that made me decide to defer the post until today, the 5th anniversary of meeting a special person.

It is fair to say that I have a very low tolerance for people who do not treat me as I'd treat them. One of the personal values I hold dearest it that of respect. If you want me to respect you, then respect me. I am also a very honest and down to earth person. I rarely bitch about people behind their backs as I have enough courage in my convictions to say something that needs to be said to someone's face and live with the repercussions.

I don't need friends that I can't rely on, and I won't pretend to be your friend or to like you if I don't. I simply will not engage emotionally with you, although you would probably never know it. I think it's called self preservation. I can't be all things to all people, and I'd sooner invest my energies wisely, so to speak. Value Witch, me ;)

So, I have many acquaintances, most of whom think they're my 'friend', but, there are just a handful of people I know that I can say I would call my real friends. The majority of those are men.

So, how do I define a friend?

It's got more to do with personal qualities than anything else. Quite intangible ones, now I come to try to put them down, but I'll have a go:

Bright, quick thinking, challenging, good communicators, humorous, realistic, reliable, non-judgmental, open-minded, honest, trusting and trustworthy.

I'm arrogant enough to believe that I share all those traits with those select handful of people who are my good friends. One thing I don't have that, without exception, they all do, is stability. Being prone to extremes of emotion (albethey much better managed and controlled now than in the past), I need to have people around who won't fly off at me, or be critical, to give me balance and perspective.

I'm a great believer in fate. Or, more accurately, random chance occurrences that seem insignificant at the time, but later assume a meaning that, in retrospect, makes it obvious that they were actually meant to be.

5 years ago today fate crossed 2 people's paths, and more random events led to the creation of an unlikely, but enduring, friendship that has become important to me in all sorts of ways. With (more than) a little help and support from this friend, I've groped my way out of the black hole I was in when we first met, and found the different perspective that made enough of a difference to how I think to enable me to stop thinking that the past could be different, and to accept it and stop looking for answers that weren't there to be found. And to move on.

This person is also the most unassuming and optimistic person that I have ever met, and one person that I never attempt to second-guess. A very private, but very deep and genuine person, who can always be guaranteed to make me think, and make me smile.

You know who you are. I know how lucky I am.

   posted by Blue Witch at 5:07 pm....  
Thought for the day:

"Music is supposed to be entertaining, and if it touches you emotionally, so much the better. Or sometimes you do it to save your own life, not anybody else's. That's mostly why I write. I'm not trying to change anybody else's life or the world, I'm trying to keep from blowing my own brains out. That's the real point."

- Guy Clark, Nashville, 2001
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:01 am....

   Thursday, June 19, 2003  
BW on Big Brother (f*ck the 'BB' of the past, I need the hits, everyone else are losing their Google 6s and 5s, I don't intend to :)

Sorry, but Fed gets more and more Data every day IMHO. I'm just amazed that the rest of you have failed to spot it :)

And my comments on this week's shopping? Less protein for less passion ;) That's what I'd say to them all. Has that little bloke with the sandwich board stopped walking up and down Oxford Street yet? He was there every day that I was a student there. Bloody hell. That's 20 years ago. Is he dead?

   posted by Blue Witch at 10:30 pm....  
Life Stories

Ever since we went to see Steve Earle a couple of months ago, I've wanted to read his biography. I've had trouble getting it - several times I've tried to order it from cut-price places on the net, but each time what has supposedly been an in-stock item has soon turned into a non-identified-date-for-delivery item, and I've cancelled the order. So, yesterday I actually paid full price for it (and it's only in hardback). Yep, you heard right, BW paid full price for something :) Such was my need to read it NOW.

Steve Earle has long fascinated me. As it says on the cover, "A heroin addict since the age of fourteen, six times married to five different women, a man who took a four-year 'vacation in the ghetto', Steve Earle none the less survived. And he came back with an artistic and personal vision intact, determined to change society for the better even as he seemed set to live his life for the worse."

Most people I know have never heard of Steve Earle. It could have been different. Something I didn't know until I started reading the book was that back in 1992, Mercury and Virgin Records were making multi-million dollar rival record contract bids for him. He disappeared without signing. His attorney who was handling the negotiations said, "It was devastating - not because of the deal, but, emotionally for me. Because this guy who was so special was just killing himself."

Steve Earle's music really speaks to me. I played the Copperhead Road album in the car almost non-stop during the 1988-89 academic year, the year I did my masters/professional training, and in the process 28,000 miles. Many a time having the car window open and that playing loudly in the tape player kept me awake on the long late-night or early-morning journeys between South Somerset (where I was then living) and Swansea that I did two days a week, and the journey between South Somerset and Bristol that I did on another two days of the week, on top of a tough workload of full-time academic study and demanding casework. I was 26 at the time. I could never do it now. I really am Old Witch.

There are some wonderful passages in the first few pages of Hardcore Troubadour. Oooh, I can sooo identify with Steve's comment, "I have a low tolerance for mediocrity in music and life. I'm into pain and joy and the in-between doesn't interest me."

I'm off to read some more....

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:04 pm....  
Thought for the day:

Life is a series of cycles. When we have not worked an issue through, it will recycle. This is not a failure. It is a reminder of a new possibility.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:25 am....  
BW is still laughing...

Do you know, I've just done something I never thought I'd do. I've deleted my first ever comment, from an anonymous poster with absolutely nothing of value to say. I think he was looking for pictures of that breakfast presenter sans vetements ;) and was annoyed he ended up here... Tough titty pal. So to speak ;)

However, after an action-packed day of hi-energy and hi-velocity roaming around The Capital, which may result in me having less time for blogging from September, but more time for stimulating what remains of my grey matter, I returned to The Coven to find that the out-of-civil-hours caller had called again and left me a message. Apparently I have a duty to assist him with his bee problem, he's checked with his solicitor, and he'll keep ringing me until I agree to help him. I've just rung BT to report a nuisance caller. Luckily he was stupid enough not to withhold his number. If he calls again, I'll publish his number here, then you can all have some fun on my behalf. Sad, sad person.

Sitting waiting for the Central Line tube to leave Epping this morning, an old lady got on. "Is this train going to Loughton?" she asked. I initially said, "I don't know, is it?" but then felt sorry for her and assured her it did. Where else could it go? Epping's the end of the line...

And what exactly are those two giant blow-up edifices parked outside Tate Modern at the moment? And wasn't the promised sweetie shop inside the large black rubber one a let-down? ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:36 am....

   Wednesday, June 18, 2003  
Now, maybe it's because I'm Old Witch now, or that I live outside a metropolitan area so don't tend to operate around-the-clock, but I do think that it's rude to phone someone you don't know after 9pm.

Last night an old friend happened to ring me just before 9pm and we were on the phone for a good hour and a half. I was just finishing off a few things and getting ready for bed, when the phone rang. It was 10.50pm, and it was a person I didn't know with a bee-related problem. I was so incensed that I replied to their question of, "What should I do?" with, "Tell someone who gives a damn, at a sensible time of DAY!" and put the phone down.

At 7.50am this morning the same person had the audacity to ring back. The call woke me up. They said, "I thought you were very rude last night. Your phone had been engaged all evening, so I thought that you must still be awake, which was why I rang you about my bee problem then." My reply? "And you expect me to help you now, when you've just woken me up, and having said that?" I don't know how I was that polite actually.

Am I weird or something? I do ring people I know after 9pm, if I am sure they will be up, or have pre-arranged to call; I occasionally ring people I know before 8.30am in the morning, but, generally, those are my "Times of Politeness" for calls to people I don't know.

What do you think?

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:47 am....  
Thought for the day:

Going to church doesn't make you a good person any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:34 am....

   Tuesday, June 17, 2003  
DG suggested to me the other day that it was about time I provided you with a piccie of my bees. So, here it is :)

While on the subject of bees, I've been trying to persuade Mike of the benefits of honey on wounds. I've just found a couple of articles that I thought I'd share. A scientific study and a less scientific piece. There have also been articles in The Lancet (about 5 years ago) and Nursing Times, only I can't find where I've filed them at the moment.

A friend of mine who is a district nurse (well, she has a different 'trendy' title now, but that's what she does) uses honey on elderly patients with leg ulcers when conventional treatment has failed. She claims a 90% success rate. The other 10% die, but she says that is because conventional medicine failed for too long, not because of the honey ;) On younger people, honey, applied thickly to a graze, and covered with a gauze, will heal grazes in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks.

And I won't even get into honey as a hayfever remedy (a teaspoon of honey from your locality - NOT supermarket honey - a day all year round works on homeopathic-type principles and will desensitize you to the pollens in your environment, and dramatically decrease your symptoms), or hot honey and lemon juice for sore throats and chesty coughs.

Next week, the BW Shop of Honey Products will open at BW (only kidding!!).
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:55 am....  
Some of you may have picked up that Eloon was due to visit The Coven yesterday for some Blue lessons in being Green, to help with her new position.

Now, it has to be said that the arrangements were all a bit sketchy. I told her that I'd pick her up at the station at 7pm. She said she'd be wearing green wellies and a new barbour. The thought of being seen with someone wearing that attire horrified me (bang would go any remaining semblance of street cred I might have), so I deliberately went to the wrong station, and only waited until 7.02pm.

She wimped out too, as she said in her email:

"I got to the edge of Zone 2 and got scared. They had
funny accents and I didn't recognise the area code so
I rang my Mum and she said to go home coz if u woz a
witch you'd put me in a cage and make me eat sweets to
fatten me up, I said that wasn't a problem as I had
packed some sweets which I would eat anyway so you
didn't need to put me in a cage, but my Mum said I
wasn't to go if I didn't have a chicken bone in my
pocket, but I don't know what that was for coz I said
you was vegetarian and that you wouldn't like that and
I said you were going to let me play with the beez and
then my Mum got very angry coz she said I was allergic
to beez and waspz and that I mustn't play with them,
not even if you was to magik them to make them good so
I got the train back.

Sorry. Tell the beez that I will try and get my
allergy better if there is a medicine and that the
Dove must blink a lot to make her eye better.

Thank you for letting me think about coming to stay...

Eloon aged 31 and 1 month x "

I hasten to add that I have checked that Eloon doesn't mind me publishing a personal email. However, I do have to admit that I've had to agree to give her a MBWLA Point. Sigh. However, I only give them out when I am amused, so, that's OK then :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 10:58 am....  
It could only happen to Mr BW

Mr BW used to travel abroad a lot. When I first knew him he was away somewhere between a quarter and a third of the time. Nowadays, he rarely goes anywhere as he has staff to go for him. The tales he can tell of the flights he's been on over the years can fill many a dull lull in conversations with people we'd rather not be talking to, if you know what I mean ;)

Anyway, the email that came in during the night makes me think that his flight into New York yesterday probably ranks in the Top 5 of all time (I've cut the lovey dovey bits btw):

"Writing this on the plane because just had to do a bit of observational stuff.

Scraped getting to the airport on time. There was a big smash 4-5 minutes in front of us just after the M1. We were going on fine and just stopped; after about 10 minutes the sirens began and we crawled forward in a single line weaving through the coaches, a lorry (which had gone into the back of one of the coaches), a tanker of some sort and assorted cars. The coaches were some sort of school trip because there were 50-60 kids sitting on the hard shoulder all looking confused. Anyway, another 5 minutes later and I would put money on the M25 being closed for a couple of hours to clean it all up.

Anyway, one hour from JFK and I am thinking that I am on a flight to a mental hospital. The bloke to my right must weigh about 30 stone (other side of the aisle taking up two seats), nothing unusual there but shortly after take off he put on a dust mask (the DIY type) and has only lifted one corner to shovel food in. I think he is more likely to croak from heart failure than suffer SARS.

Stranger still, the man on my left (far end of the middle row of 5 seats, we have it between us as its not a full flight), looks (in my very non medical opinion) to have a 'medicated' condition and he perhaps is not keeping topped up on the medication. He has been getting stranger, moving things between the three seat pockets in front of him, one has half his dinner, the next has a roll that he carefully tore into 12 identically sized pieces and then stuffed into the pocket two at a time, the other has nothing at the moment, but is sure to get something added soon. I am just pleased it is only a 7 hour flight."

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:38 am....  
Thought for the day:

Sometimes we get addicted to the struggle, and the struggle becomes the end and not the phase through which we pass.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:06 am....

   Monday, June 16, 2003  
Here's an interesting article (thanks to Ron for the link) by Paul Carr, commenting on the rumour that Google may be about to remove blogs from its main search directory.

"...bloggers are not the scourge of the internet. In fact they are the internet"

" the web is drowning in a sea of crap, created partly by the less literate webloggers but also by biased media outlets, hate groups, pointless personal homepages, porn sites, multilevel marketers and out and out loons.

If Google really wants to improve its service then it should forget about trying to treat bloggers as one homogenous, problematic group and start developing intelligent search robots that are capable of separating the wheat from the chaff across the entire web. These robots should: a) look at the actual content of a site and decide whether the content is useful and worth reading, b) group it together with other relevant sites to give surfers a comprehensive overview of all the available information on whatever subject they're interested in and c) ensure that these handy packages of links and information appear at the top of the search results, above all the unfiltered rubbish. "

Maybe the solution to the search engine problem (if it is a problem?) is to get people to look more closely at the addresses of the links provided before clicking on them? I've helped about a dozen people get up and running with the internet, and almost the first thing I tell them is how to evaluate the returns from a search, and how to use the correct characters around groups of words in the search term to get good results. It's not rocket science to understand that if you're looking for something of a serious academic nature you don't click on "www.joebloggshomepage.somelittle internet" in preference to something ending "" or "", is it?

Google are getting quicker though, aren't they? I'm usually quite careful to avoid 'celebrity' names, but a certain female breakfast presenter's name did creep into my MBWLA feature on Saturday. That got posted late afternoon, and by the early hours of Sunday morning, I'd had the first resultant hit. Staggering.

Anyway, can't think about this for too long as I have to go and work on this for a searcher earlier... :) (Although how should I know how to be an official good witch? I *play* with Google, slipping in provocative little phrases, for a past-time, don't I?)

Update: And, if Google Watch is to be believed, Google is playing with me too as I have a Google Bar (scroll down the page to number 6), which, they say, is spyware and updates automatically...

Interesting info to a non-techie IT idiot like me on that site...

(link via Jonathan)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:33 am....  
Coven Life

Well, Mr BW has left me.

Blanche has pecked Blanco's eye in some sort of a girlie scrap over an egg and infidelity from Weiss. Poor Blanco has her eye half shut, and I'm not sure if it's OK to use Brolene or Optrex* on D'Oves. None of the vets round here know a thing about birds, and it doesn't look that bad, so I think I'll just keep an eye on it for the moment.

The strawberries are ripening beautifully, as are the blackcurrants, and there are good supplies of lettuce, rocket and broad beans, although the mange tout are coming to an end.

The new Mediterranean Garden is beginning to grow, and the new tree fern now has 6 fronds and more coming on. Still waiting for the 1" square mosaic tiles to arrive. there are 17 sheets of 169, or 2.4 square metres worth. That should be fun... Anyone for a mosaic laying party?

In case you're concerned by my first statement, it's OK, Mr BW has just gone off to the US to sort out his peeps over there. Whistle-stop tour of NY and Cincinnati and he'll be home on Friday. I had to stop him taking a brand new pair of shoes with him though. Only a boy would think that it was a good idea to take a never-worn (other than in the shoe shop) pair of shoes on such a trip. And only a boy would plan on taking such a pair of shoes without taking the labels out of the inside or off the sole. I've sat in meetings so many times with males who were proudly and unwittingly displaying their shoe size and the amount they'd invested in their footwear to the world. It's like people who buy plant pots and plant them up without removing the price labels. Why? I just don't understand.

Without Mr BW I'm going to be very busy as I'll have to do all the things he usually does every day. Like about an hour's worth of watering. Having lots of pretty flowers around in tubs and hanging baskets seems such a good idea when one doesn't have to be responsible for their survival, post-planting, normally. It just isn't feasible to rig up an automatic watering system for The Coven grounds, not least because the water pressure is so bad at this time of year that it wouldn't work. So, I'd jolly well better go and get on with it before it gets too hot...

*Oooh, that Optrex site home page is nicely designed, Witchy likes that :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:17 am....  
Thought for the day:

"Cry for the eye that has cried for you, and feel merciful for the heart that has felt for you."

- Gabra proverb
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:47 am....

   Sunday, June 15, 2003  
Thought for the day:

Dishonesty in our relationships with others requires us to hide the truth about ourselves from ourselves.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:38 am....

   Saturday, June 14, 2003  
Blogging is reassuring isn't it?

I am reassured that I'd never do a search like this. Really.

Or this. Honestly.

And I thought I'd made my position on this clear back in April?

And, Mr Wiz, here's one for you to think about... Do you think they need my business card or yours?
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:27 pm....  
The 9th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

Reading some of my contenders and awards, I bet that some of you think I have a really weird sense of humour.

I have :)

But, you need to understand, it's all in the context, pre-context and comments boxes. And in the sidebars. And occasionally in a little teensy weensy bit of personal knowledge. I do study your blogs carefully, you understand ;)

This week there are lots of contenders. Hang on while I go and count up...

10 actually.

For instance, pre-context:

Contender 1: on Sunday 8th - having just seen the original news item on Breakfast TV, drD's take on Prince Harry's possible bid to join the army when he leaves Eton this summer made me laugh, as required for the Award.

Contender 2: Peter, who's this week been trying to prove that Video didn't Kill the Radio Star after all:

"The odd bit is the total lack of feedback. I'm used to an audience of up to six or seven hundred - live, there in front of me. Rod the sound engineer was advising me on speed (that's how fast you speak, not the drug), and on timing. If you crack a funny you still have to pause, if only for mental laughter. Cling to the idea that at least one person will be listening It's awesome going up to wannabe famous acts and saying, "Hi, I'm Peter Russell - presenter of the morning show. Would you like to do an interview?" Respect. Hehe. Pro-active Peter. But it's just another mode. Switch that personality. The GAP jacket really helps. Showbusiness is the only reality. There's no point in saying anything at all unless it's on camera, as someone wisely opined."

Contender 3: DG:

"Bow Road is an Underground station, but only partly an underground station. That's because Bow Road is the station where eastbound tube trains finally emerge from their tunnel under East London and head off towards Barking and Upminster at surface level. Half the station is underground, and therefore has crap mobile phone reception. The other half of the station is open to the elements, and therefore gets wet when it rains. Pigeons appear to be happy to crap on either half."

And there was more:

"Please mind the gap between the train and the platform. Please mind the gap between the ears of the station planners, more like."

(Note to DG: I've tried to get Eloon to use her, erm, position and contacts, to get this sorted for you btw - 7 BW bonus points on offer Eloon - then you'd have enough to solve the honey problem you were commenting on earlier wouldn't you? Well, one of them anyway ;))

Contender 4: By some magic by Gert, I discovered this and this. What you might call a lightbulb moment ;)

Now, I should have learnt from others but....Peter Cuthbertson was funny:

"How many Iain Murrays does it take to change a light bulb?

A very reputable study by Statistofax suggests that the average light-bulb screwing is now accomplishable in 3.4 seconds - substantially lower than the 3.87 seconds their rivals Faxostatistics came up with in 1994! This means that if two men put the effort in, they can get a light-bulb changed in under two seconds. This radically alters our understanding of the world.

How many Stephen Pollards does it take to change a light bulb?

The mere fact that we exist in darkness, for however short a period, shames me more than anything else possibly could. The glorious light that emerges when the bulb is changed is quite simply spectacular. Get used to it - the light is perfect, and you are worthless!

How many British Spins does it take to change a light bulb?

It tekas trhee mne to chagne a lihgt blbu at otpimum eficenicy, btu ti cna be dnoe mroe caerfuyll by jtsu oen.

How many Green Fairies does it take to change a light bulb?

I shaved my head completely bald today and painted a bullseye on the top. Then I sewed my right eyelashes together with flourescent pink cotton and my left eyelashes with flourescent green cotton. Suddenly it was pitch black and I couldn't see a thing. So I went to the local shop to buy a light bulb. Someone even had the nerve to ask me why I did what I did that morning, suggesting there was something odd or wrong in my daringly unconventional and intensely original appearance. Unbelievable. I got back with the light bulb and screwed it in without any assistance from a man. None at all. Cunt. I don't need a man to live my life. As I said in every one of my previous posts, I don't need a husband, hell no. Fuck. Oh, and some children were run over across the road today, so I am in a better than normal mood.

How many Peter Briffas does it take to change a light bulb?

Yasmin, Moonbat and Polly could be given this job tomorrow and they'd still be working on it the day they died!

How many Emily Jones' does it take to change a light bulb?


How many Samizdatans does it take to change a light bulb?

Isn't it typical that whenever a problem arises we automatically look to others - the collective - for the solution? It never occurs that we might solve it alone. Our liberty is again being sold down the river for a mythical state in which bulbs never need to be changed.

How many Nick Barlows does it take to change a light bulb?

I see vile little Peter Cuthbertson mentioned a light bulb on his blog today. He even referred to a light bulb joke - but in fact, if I look back, I find that the joke he probably meant to tell involves tigers and was coined by a Japanese wood manufacturer. For most of us, that would be sufficient reason to apologise, but not poor little Peter."

Contenders 5 - 9: One point each to dave, tony, Sue, drD and Brick for their efforts in the comments box under my post on the would-be beehive thieves.

Contender 10: Those of you who read as carefully as me will have noted that I mentioned sidebars back at the beginning of this epistle. This week there is a special BW Award - The-Smiling-In-The-Face-Of-Adversity Award, for mr mal who, despite the tough time he is having of late (as his regular visitors will have deduced), still manages to put up funnies for the eagle-eyed to spot. Go see his current reading list :) Pecker up Steve (NB to my American visitors, I'm using this in the English sense ;)), you're missed, come back soon, and remember there's always room in my Bee Shed. There's even curtains in there ;)

So, that's 10 honey points I've given away already this week. A whole jar's worth!! My generosity leaves me speechless sometimes. Just as well that we've just finished extracting 220lbs isn't it? And delicious it is too, if I say so myself.

And this week's winner?

After no careful thought at all, it's going to DG.

And this little trophy, courtesy of Alan, is yours for the week, to proudly display on your blog. Or not. You know the rules - you can make your own, if you prefer. Or totally ignore the Award. Or satirise it. Hey, you could have another 2 points next week then, couldn't you? ;)

The Trophy

Current scores are here.

And, there's always next week for those of you who didn't quite manage it again this week (no names at all, Alan ;)).

   posted by Blue Witch at 7:38 am....  
BW on BB

Was a bit overcome last night by BB time, having just got back from a Private View of an artist friend's latest work. We only went to be polite, and for the free wine and nibbles y'know ;) We ended up buying one. Not the £700 one, fortunately, and we did get him to agree to change the frame. But we do love Provence. And trees. And it was number 17 (my birthday), so it was always going to have to be. We even got him to agree to deliver it to The Coven. What demanding and discerning Blue Witches we are :)

But, getting back to BB....

Oh ye of little faith and belief in my spells. I got Sissy out for hating hens, didn't I? :)

As a Witch with fine hair, of which the longest strand never gets beyond about 3", I didn't even know that there were such things as gas cartridge hair straighteners. Half the bloody world starving and I find it's a must-have item for today's 20-somethings. Oh gawd. I'm bloody glad I'm a 40-something. I couldn't bear to share a bedroom with those girlies you know.

Do you think they're going to give them back the hens? Who knows where they got them. Not a reputable source methinks. We've had ours at The Coven for 5 years now and never has one been ill. Touch wood, of course.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:29 am....

   Friday, June 13, 2003  
As if by magic... Another spooky co-incidence

Earlier I was making a comment about Mr Wiz's campaign to get broadband in the Village.

I've just followed a bus with an advert on the back for the East of England Development Agency, a campaign group demanding broadband for the East of England, where only 30% of people live in areas where broadband is available.

If you live in this area you can register here and join 13,500 people who already have. Two high-demand areas have already benefited and have broadband.

Together we *will* get this apathetic government to give back some of the 3G licence money to enable broadband to come to rural areas. It makes sense - the government want to reduce pollution and cut traffic on the roads, so give people in rural areas the ability to work from home! It's not rocket science, just common sense!!

I heard the other day on the R2 Business News that South Korea already has 70% of homes broadband enabled, because their government sees the benefits and has invested in the programme. In this country, it was said, only 60% of homes will, if current plans continue, *ever* be covered by broadband.

   posted by Blue Witch at 4:46 pm....  
Didn't he do well?

Tonight's Have I got News for You is going to be presented by Bruce Forsyth.

Apparently, "The 75-year-old showbiz legend emerged through glittering gold curtains before introducing a series of specially adapted games including the Brucie Bonus of Play Your Iraqi Cards Right.

He left the audience in stitches as he littered the show with his trademark catchphrases including, "Nice to see you, to see you nice".

During his version of Play Your Cards Right he called upon the show's audience to predict whether the next card would reveal an Iraqi minister "higher or lower" up the chain of command.

At one point team captain Paul Merton exclaimed: "I've been waiting 14 years for the show to be like this. I'm having the time of my life!."

As the topic of conversation turned to the cloud hanging over the government's failure to find weapons of mass destruction, Bruce asked: "Well it would be nice to see them, to see them..."

And the audience replied: "...nice".

Bruce went on: "This is fun. I'm enjoying it very much. If I knew what I was doing I would be enjoying it even more."

Before the show came to its conclusion both teams were then each asked to memorise the items on a specially-constructed conveyor belt before making the topical connection.

Joining Merton's team on the show to be aired tonight is BBC news presenter Natasha Kaplinsky. On Ian Hislop's side was Marcus Brigstocke.

An anagram of 'Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game' is "Embarrassing Ego of the Century". Perhaps he's mellowed with age.

Who else remembers Saturday tea-times as Doctor Who and Bruce? And here's a nice little image that might amuse one or two of the regulars ;)

   posted by Blue Witch at 4:16 pm....  
BW on BB

Exactly where do the Production Team go to get the Housemates shopping?

It's either Selfridges Food Hall or Fortnum & Mason.

99p for a kilo bag of sugar?
I could get *2* for that price...

And why make them buy chopped tinned tomatoes with what's left of their ration allowance? They could have bought twice as many cans if they'd been allowed to buy tins of whole ones and then chopped them up with a knife after opening the can and before pouring them out...

There's 10 of them, so why not let them buy catering sizes? Much cheaper. I'm surprised Gos hasn't pointed that out to BB in the diary room.

At least let's have some realism in the show...

Here starts BW's Fair Price for The Housemates Shopping Campaign ;)

Tell you what, I'll even volunteer to do their shopping and plan their menus for next week. Bet I could make a much better job of it than they will... Mind you, I reckon that I could make a much better job of most people's shopping than they do. But then I'm Value Witch :)

And Sissy, "I don't like hens cos they do this" [nods a sort-of hen impression]. Townie. Obviously.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:24 am....  
Yes, it's Friday 13th.

Firstly I woke up thinking it was Saturday.
Then I thought it was Thursday.

Now I've found that I have been magically migrated to New Blogger overnight, so that's bound to have caused something to screw up somewhere. I just don't know *what*, yet. That surprise is still to come.

At least I don't suffer from hayfever as the pollen count is going to be the highest it's been this year today...

300lbs + of honey to extract tonight - a nasty, sticky, hot job.

Maybe I'll just go back to bed.
Could be safer...
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:32 am....  
Thought for the day:

The choices we don't make are as important as those we do.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:25 am....

   Thursday, June 12, 2003  
Is nothing sacred these days?

Yesterday someone tried to steal our nice white traditional beehive from the verge outside The Coven. Sometime between 7.50am and 12.45pm. And I was at home all the time. We use it as a "Honey for Sale" sign, and, in the absence of any signposts or hamlet labels in this area, it's become a local landmark. When I explain to people where we live they often say, "Oh, near the honey lady then?" Yes, indeed, and, I am the honey lady :)

Such beehives are rather sought after now, after their use in various garden redesign programmes. They're actually called WBCs, after the man who invented them, William Broughton Carr. There aren't many beekeepers who use them now as they are of a double-walled construction that is time consuming to use and encourages wax moths. So, second-hand ones are in short supply. New ones are around £300 and lack character.

Realising its vulnerability, when we first put ours out on the verge some 5 or 6 years ago, Mr BW filled it with concrete blocks and other rubble, and used metal brackets to attach its legs to a thick paving slab. As the would-be-thieves discovered on ripping off its lid yesterday.

Fearing they may come back to empty the rubble and remove the hive, Mr BW has now added a surprise for them. A whole load of mucky gravel, over which he has poured the remnants of a large drum of bitumen sealant that we used to waterproof the planters incorporated into The Mediterranean Garden we have just finished (well, give or take a 2873 piece mosaic anyway).

However, I feel that we should also leave a little note on top of this unexpected hive filling. Mr BW reckons that they have no consciences and that it would be a waste of time, or, that if it was worded wrongly they'd just put a brick through the window or a nail down the side of one of the Broomsticks.

However, I'm *sure* there must be something suitable. I just can't think of it. Any ideas?
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:13 pm....  
Peace Announcement

Just reading out and about, it's clear that lots of us (those using NThelL) are having a quiet time today. No emails arriving :)

I've been aware that NThelL have been having problems since the weekend, and, indeed, was receiving emails sent on 8th yesterday. Also, I'm aware that I haven't received several emails that have been sent, and my own test mails from other accounts haven't arrived. In fact, the only one of my accounts that received any mail yesterday was the BW one (maybe they're scared of Witches?), and even that has had none today.

The NThelL server status line has been detailing mail server problems all week, but I had had enough of poor quality info so have just called a secret senior NThelL problem-solver's number (it helps to be a klepto and hoard pieces of paper with notes from past problems) and been told that yes, they do indeed have ginormous problems. The affect people on *all* NThelL packages. They cannot say when the problem will be resolved. And that a lot of mail sent into NThelL accounts over the past few days (so stuck in the system) will never be delivered. Outgoing mail is apparently less affected, but they are not prepared to guarantee that it has arrived.

Rejoice, or be worried, as the case may be. Whatever, be aware.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:30 am....  
What could I say?

Last night I was at a meeting. One of the ladies from the group appeared troubled. After a while (and a bit of jollity for it was a 'Fun French' evening involving French cheese, French wine, berets, striped tops and silly games) she asked me if she could share a problem with me. Her daughter, mother to 10 and 12 year old boys, had left the 12 year old on his own at home (but had ensured that her friend next door was around in case of any problems) and taken the 10 year old to play in a football match. When she returned several hours later she found said 12 year old and a 12 year old girl in his bedroom in "various stages of undress".

My friend wanted to know what advice she should give her daughter. I don't think she was too impressed when I said that, in my opinion, she should buy her grandson a large pack of condoms and tell her daughter not to get so het up about things.

It amazes me how people seem to forget that they were young once and that no amount of pep talks, pleading or punishment would have made a blind bit of difference to how they carried on when away from their parents' beady eyes. OK, so most of them didn't start having sex at 12, but things are different now. My feeling here is that if everything the parents (and wider society, including school) had done up to that point hadn't made any difference, there was not a lot that could be done now, after the event that would.

Am I wrong?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:52 am....  
Thought for the day:

Rabbit is clever. Rabbit has Brain. I suppose that's why he never understands anything.

- Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A.Milne
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:25 am....

   Wednesday, June 11, 2003  
Winey Witch

OK, I've done the moan, now the wine. No typo, this is my current top tip. Shared with me by a friend who is the father of a millionaire who knows a good bottle when he finds one.

This is an easy-drinking gluggable red that would be good value at any price up to £5 a bottle. At £3.43 a bottle (minus 5% if you buy 6 at a time - so £3.26 a bottle) I have stocked up The Coven Cellar.

Blended by Malcolm Gluck (wine critic and journalist) for Tesco, it's dry, full, soft and plummy. There are 2 bad things about it. One, the fact that it comes in a screw-top bottle (but, to my way of thinking that's better than those pesky plastic corks that you can't get out of the corkscrew) and the second is its given name, "Superplonk". You can get round both of those by decanting it. I think it also improves by being open for an hour before drinking it. I "think" that rather than "know" it because a bottle of wine has never actually lasted that long after being opened at The Coven :)

The blurb on the label says, "It is a light wine with a warm fruity character. It is a wine to drink by itself or to drink with pasta, casseroles, vegetable dishes and cheeses." It's Spanish, 12.5% and, as you might expect for that price, Vino de Mesa. But, a jolly quaffable one.

I had difficulty spotting it on the shelf in Tesco's. It has a basically white label which looks like a back of bottle (rather than front of bottle) label should. Black print with a small picture of someone sitting in a deckchair.

   posted by Blue Witch at 12:47 pm....  
More lateral thinking

The Newspaper

Jim and Joe were fighting so their mother punished them by making them stand on the same sheet of yesterday's newspaper until they were ready to make up. She did this in such a way that neither of the boys could touch the other. How did she manage to do this?
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:41 am....  
Moany Witch

This latest Customer Dis-Service Award is a bit recycled. However, I'm *so* p*ssed off about it, that I shall post it here too (I've already posted it in various other consumer discussion board places, so eventually I'll feel better about it I'm sure ;) )

The last 3 books I've had from have clearly been read before. One was a paperback, and, quite frankly, I could have got a less read copy from a charity shop. The third was a replacement for the second book, and in a worse state than the second. I got nowhere complaining to Amazon (standard dis-interested email replies and a refusal to refund my costs in taking the books to the Post Office to return them each time (an 8-mile round trip x 3) - which I didn't think was unreasonable in the circumstances - selling second-hand goods as new is illegal).

So I approached the local Trading Standards who told me, "We have had complaints from lots of people about the state books arrive in from Amazon. When we get to 200 names and addresses in our file, we will do something about it." I was *not* impressed.... 200 complaints? I asked how many they had already. The woman on the phone said, "Quite a few!". OK, so *do* something about it then!!!

Recently I've found Amazon to be very slow in delivering, very poor at answering email in a timely manner, and totally disinterested in sorting out problems. The only thing they seem to be able to do promptly is debit my payment card. Mr BW tells me that he's been reading that they are a business in trouble. I can see why.

Amazon have lost themselves a customer.

For books I shall in future be using Blackwells. The fact that postage is free makes them cheaper than Amazon in many cases anyway.

And, another plug for CD-Wow who are still the cheapest place for recent and chart CDs (£8.99 including delivery). Probably DVDs too, although I have no interest in them, so don't know for sure.

And, too late for me, but thanks to Daisy, who, seeing my original comment, supplied the following information:

Amazon Customer Services phone number (not available anywhere on the site): 0800 2796620 (Monday-Friday 08:00-18:00)

And I do so hope that Google is listening :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:53 am....  
Value Witch

Well it's either have a moan about a few things or do some Value Tips today. We'll see how the day progresses...

Much as I dislike Tesco, and Harry Potter for that matter, here's one that may be of interest to anyone planning to buy JK Rowling's latest offering, due out on June 21st. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, list price £16.99 is available from here for £7.64. Saving 55%. For delivery on Saturday 21st June, you need to place orders by midday on Thursday 19th June.

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:00 am....  
Thought for the day

I'm thinking about it.

I'm in *that* kind of mood...

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:24 am....

   Tuesday, June 10, 2003  
Frustration is...

Various permutations of Blogger, Enetation, Extreme and NTHell.

1 minute to do a post and 20 to get it published, and 15 to get into email. At present I have emails from 8th just being delivered. I am not a patient Witch. This is driving me mad.

At least the ieSpell has the right idea - it's just wanted to change "Enetation" to "Enervation". Yes.

   posted by Blue Witch at 10:16 pm....  
Sites using Enetation Commenting are (again, sigh) having problems - but, refresh the page if the comments boxes don't appear and, like magic, they do! (thanks to Eloon/Flo for the tip)
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:55 am....  
Lateral Thinking Problem 5:

On a trip deep in the Amazonian jungle, the explorer Alan Quartermaine woke one morning. He could feel something inside his sleeping bag. It had a head and a tail and moved when he moved. However he was calm and unafraid. Why?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:25 am....  
Lateral Thinking Problem 4:

When Gertrude entered the plane she caused her own death and the death of 200 people. Yet she was never blamed or criticised for her actions. What happened?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:23 am....  
Lateral Thinking Problem 3:

Why did a group of enterprising thieves steal the famous Mona Lisa and then return it undamaged a few months later?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:12 am....  
Lateral Thinking Problem 2:

An American tourist in London took a taxi. when he reached his destination the tourist paid the taxi driver his fare, but did not include a tip. The taxi driver was displeased and said something to the American that ruined his whole evening. The two men were strangers and had never met before. What did the driver of the cab say?
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:11 am....  
Lateral Thinking

One of my favourite subjects.
I just can't help myself doing it.
New angles invariably help solve problems.
New angles invariably add interest.
BW doesn't do uni-dimensional.

So, today, there's going to be a few problems to solve up here. I'll do one per post so it won't get confusing in the comments boxes.

I've done some spells, so we can hope that the comments won't let us down today.

Lateral Thinking Problem 1:

What happened on February 1866 that will not happen for another 2 and a half million years?
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:10 am....  
Thought for the day:

Be somebody you would be proud to know.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:39 am....

   Monday, June 09, 2003  
The 3rd level of consciousness

Not sure how I've missed this before as it's something that accords with my own thinking and beliefs. Also not sure where the original link came from - it was one of those links from links that you get to and then can't easily get back to.

Richard Brodie (who wrote the original MS Word) has also written 2 books.

Virus of the Mind (introduction here) is about the new science of the meme. Memes are pieces of mental programming or conditioning that people acquire throughout their lives. Viruses of the mind spread the (perhaps unwanted) mental programming among people the way computer viruses infect computers.

He says, "Memes are contagious ideas, all competing for a share of our mind in a kind of Darwinian selection. As memes evolve, they become better and better at distracting and diverting us from whatever we'd really like to be doing with our lives. They are a kind of Drug of the Mind. Confused? Blame it on memes."

Brodie's first book, Getting Past OK, is about what he did after he had achieved everything he thought would make him happy - but then he realised he wasn't. Oooh, I can so identify with that.

The book is the result of his voyages of self-discovery. As he says, "I explored numerous personal-growth groups with my unabashedly rational and critical mind and was surprised to find, among the hype and B.S., a few ideas so useful that they made a stunning difference in my quality of life when I applied them!"

There's lots on that site to interest anyone who feels dissatisfied with the shallow and self-centred way in which many people appear to function today. I like the bits on Status, Elitism, and Making a Difference and Life Purpose. But, I shan't be buying the books. All rather too obvious. I'm always amazed when I come across someone stating what seems to me like the bleedin' obvious and selling it as such an amazing and unusual thing.

   posted by Blue Witch at 4:28 pm....  
The Make Blue Witch Laugh Award Scoresheet

The scores so far are now available here. 3 bonus points to me as no-one else wanted them :)

Absolutely no expense has been spared, as you will see.
I am crap at Excel spreadsheets, as you will also see.

As ever, when I have Mr BW, why do I need to know how to do things myself? Learned helplessness :) He's brilliant at spreadsheets as he uses them all day every day. So I've never really bothered to learn. Usually when I need one knocked up for something, he does it in a flash. When I met him I had a complete toolkit. I also knew how to use everything in it and was better at DIY type things than a lot of men. Now, 10 years on, some parts are lost, some parts are damaged, some parts have been broken and thrown away, and I choose not to play with most of the other parts any more. But, I can do most things, if I have to. And here, I did. So I whipped up my own spreadsheet. It's not brilliant or beautiful, but it is functional. I think the scores are correct to date, and I've even put in the contenders so far this week (Week 9).

   posted by Blue Witch at 3:45 pm....  
For people who read blogs at work...

May I recommend this?
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:00 pm....  
After the frustrations of the last few days, I'm just hedging my bets in case Blogger spends any more time down...

If so, posts will appear in the comments box...
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:35 am....

   Sunday, June 08, 2003  
Thought for the day:

The worst isolation we can experience is being isolated from ourselves and having no awareness of it.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:08 pm....

   Saturday, June 07, 2003  
The 8th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

Now retrieved from the comments box where Blogger forced it to reside over the weekend...

Sorry it's late. I've given up waiting for Blogger to behave and let me post the results.
The Trophy

There are 4 contenders this week:

1. Eloon:

"Missy Witchy offered to distract me from my current problems here at the Office by sending me some work. I had visions of a buzzing bee hive turning up in the loading bay with a note saying 'here ya go honey, make some honey, thanks honey, Witch x'. As if that wasn't enough, that post ended: "And my sunburn is flaking off. It's not boobs itch and those flakes are precious layers from my small boobage area."

2. Also Eloon: (this one is a bit involved as it carried on in the comments box)

"And more importantly, after watched Big Brother's Little Brother last night, we now know the truth about Dermott O'Leary. He likes little boys. They had cub scouts on and he was all over the little boys. Kiddie fiddler. All those years of loving Dermott wasted. That's it! I'm saving myself for Lennox Lewis now.
*slams door*

creepylesbo @ 11:41AM | 2003-06-05

well dermot DOES keep doing interviews for attitude mag - that should have been an indication...

Eloon @ 11:42AM | 2003-06-05

I think he should be giving interviews for Peodo Today. Or Which Scout?

3. Jon:

"Who's your daddy?

You learn not to read the cards in the windows of local newsagents.
Barely a mile from my home, in the riotously expensive Dulwich Village, the cards advertise unwanted pine cupboards, school runs, piano lessons, properties to let in Tuscany, language lessons for the kids on vac.
My local newsagents cover French only. There are plenty of TVs on offer, but no videos. In the Village any of the elegant cards advertising massage will specify 'Women only'. I infer that the 'Male massage' offered in my neck of the woods is far from analogous.
I have spotted a new, professionally printed card in a couple of windows. It stands out among the felt-tipped index cards so much that I stopped to look:
Are you the father?
Don't get caught out.
Take our reliable paternity test.
Never forget there's money in knowing for sure.

Unrelatedly, I think, they restarted milk float deliveries in our area a couple of years ago."

4. DG:

"It's six months since McDonalds opened a new drive-through just a burger's-throw from my house. Today, opening just up the road from me, yet another fast food takeaway. Excellent, now I can have semi-digested food hurled onto my doorstop from two different directions. The new takeaway is called
Perfect Fried Chicken. Perfect? By the looks of the place I bet I could have them under the Trade Descriptions Act for that first word there. And, I suspect, for the last word too..."

And the winner is...
Roll of thunder, flash of lightning...

Eloon's first one just has it.

So, that's 3 points to her this week, and one each to Jon and DG. Sorry Alan, I tried really hard to give you another point, but, unfortuantely... There's always next week, of course :)

I have no idea who's got how many points now, cos I don't count.
But, I shall get round to whipping up a little Excel thingy soon. Possibly. Although if Blogger carries on being inaccessible, then it may be sooner than it would otherwise be.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:37 am....  
Thought for the day:

"You can bear anything if it isn't your own fault."

- Katharine Fullerton Gerould
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:35 am....

   Friday, June 06, 2003  
Warning: Value Witch says, blogging can seriously damage your wealth

I've been looking longingly at tree ferns for ages. I even found a source at a reasonable price. However, the man in the shed selling them told me that they only liked very shaded places and, as The Coven Grounds face largely south, I thought it was a bit of a waste of something costing *cough* to have to hide it away in the orchard with the bees. It's not as if bees appreciate tree ferns, after all.

Then Nic over at Planarchy started posting lovely pictures of them. Following a comment, he kindly sent me some words of advice and encouragement... and, well, to cut a long story short, this afternoon I went out and bought a 5 foot tall one.

At present it is reposing in the Blue Broomstick (now complete with a new driveshaft, after just 28,000 miles - luckily still under warranty) as it weighs about 10 stone and Mr BW and I aren't feeling strong as it is Friday night. It currently has one 9" curled up frond, but there are 3 more ready to grow and 4 down inside. Apparently. According to Mr Shed Man who had a good grope in its nether regions.

Apparently if I pour seaweed feed in the top night and day it will reward me.

Tomorrow it gets planted next to The Mediterranean Garden. Which has its official opening on Sunday when Mummy and Daddy BW-in-law and several of their friends are coming round for a Daddy-BW-in-law birthday treat. Thought we'd better make an effort this year as we totally forgot Daddy-BW-in-laws birthday last year.... Ooops.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:16 pm....

...the musings of a SAD psych(ic)

Whinge, moan and lecture are what Blue Witch does best...

email: blue-witch [at]

Philosophy of The Coven:
Wisdom begins with questioning. Sanity begins with "No."

Preoccupations of The Coven:
- Quotes
- Spelling & smiling
- Value
- Education
- Environment
- Memory



Blue Witch

Blue Witch's familiars:

diamond geezer
my ace life
coop blog

the brick
big n juicy
spell cnut
these moments that I've had
those wonderful people

somewhat, muchly
troubled diva
mad musings of me
a blogs life
bacon cheese and oatcakes
burnt toast
invisible stranger

rogue semiotics
santiago dreaming
language hat
rons world

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