Blue Witch



   Sunday, November 30, 2003  
Natural justice

I am a great believer in natural justice. My version of it anyway. Rather than the legal definition, or Nietzsche's definition.

Slightly different to my understanding of karma (oooh, that's a good link!), I suppose I console myself with the idea that people who behave in ways that I wouldn't (so, by my definition, 'badly') will eventually reap the rewards of their actions.

I often tell people who are troubled by their perception of the unfair (in their terms) actions of others, or systems, that all they have to do is bide their time and watch and wait. Eventually they will see natural justice exert itself. This sort of explanation could, I suppose, be seen as a way of producing psychological congruence (and 'peace') in the short term, and a way of explaining random events in the longer term. Whatever, I don't care, it works for me, and I know it's been helpful to others.

I hasten to add that spells are, of course, an integral part of the process :)

Last Thursday, I had three examples of events reaching their conclusions in a way that follows my rules of natural justice. These nicely illustrate the varying timescales that can be involved. Or, that my theory is nonsense and can be randomly applied to make me feel better about things that annoy me, depending on how cynical you are :)

1. Six or seven years ago now we had double glazed windows put into The Coven. Now, Mr BW, being an engineer by training and a perfectionist of the highest order, spent a long time comparing and examining the quality of the various products on the market. He settled on windows from a local company called Kestrel. When the windows were fitted, there were several problems with the manufacture (eg holes for the handles had been drilled in the wrong place so that two handles together were over a centimetre different in height, mitred corners didn't meet correctly) and a major fault in one large pane of glass (that looked like one of those old round bulls-eye panes). We refused to pay the balance due on the installation until these faults had been rectified. The MD of the company came round to inspect the faults and then proceeded to totally lose it (verging on the psychopathic, and I kid you not) and shouted at Mr BW that these were 'acceptable tolerances', and insulted and threatened us. Mr BW then informed him that they were not 'acceptable tolerances' but, rather, sloppy positioning of materials into jigs by unskilled assemblers. It all got very unpleasant and ended up with us taking him to the glazing companies' professional association, who found in our favour (unsurprisingly), and they were made to complete the job to our satisfaction. You have no idea how long I made the fitters polish the windows after they said they'd finished :)

Anyway, we received a letter on Thursday from the sales manager who worked for Kestrel, informing us that they had now gone into receivership and that he had set up a new company with his son. I laughed. Lots. Serves the nasty MD right. Natural justice prevails. And I hope the MD is on the street and that the bailiffs have seized everything he owns.

2. You might remember my run-in with the RAC on the subject of poor appalling breakdown service. Well, on Thursday, a month after my second letter of complaint, I received a letter from Mandy J Love, another of their Customer Care Managers. Slightly more literate, and slightly less dismissive. "I am writing with reference to your letter addressed to my colleague Cheryl Grant, but unfortunately she is unable to respond directly to you due to circumstances beyond her control." Nothing trivial, I hope, I thought, or I won't be able to consider it to be natural justice :) Still not finished with that one yet.

3. On Thursday evening I was travelling back to The Coven up the A12 from London. I was just outside Brentwood doing within 1 mph of what you can get away with on a fixed penalty, if you get caught *coughs*, in the outside lane, when one of those nasty BMWs with the nasty eyes that I don't like came charging up behind me (he must have been doing 110mph) and sat, flashing his lights, about a foot off my bumper. Now, I couldn't go anywhere, as I was passing a stream of traffic. Usually, in this situation, I'd have flashed my brake lights at him and slowed down deliberately, until he dropped back. However, I thought better of it as he was being a total idiot, and, as soon as I could, I pulled over. A couple of minutes later the traffic ground to a total standstill. After another couple of minutes a lot of blue lights turned up. After almost an hour we all got to move again. And who was it that had caused the accident? Right first time. Natural justice triumphs again. Sadly, in this case, it had involved a lot of people being inconvenienced.

There are a couple of people who have p*ssed me of majorily that I am currently monitoring for signs that natural justice has prevailed, but, I know, it will, eventually, if I am patient. They will get their just desserts.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:24 am....  
Thought for the day

The fewer things you must do in life, the fewer things you own, manage or are responsible for, the fewer are the stresses that accompany them.

Ah, so, that's where I'm going wrong... :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:01 am....

   Saturday, November 29, 2003  
The updated MBWLA Scoresheet is here.
The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

   posted by Blue Witch at 5:43 pm....  
Which brand of consumer are you?


You would rather die than be forced to wear labels. An activist who genuinely despises consumer society, you will never be seen in supermarkets: you buy your food from local shops or grow your own. You believe in alternative therapies, self-healing, getting back to basics. Despite the cottage industry image, you are technically sophisticated, creating your own power sources (windmills for electricity) and organising protests via the net. This season, and every season, you are wearing overalls. Or clothing made from hemp."

It's almost true too.... :)

(Nicked this one from Random Mike)

   posted by Blue Witch at 2:33 pm....  
The 32nd Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

5 contenders this week.

Contender 1: "Tomorrow I have to write a document detailing all of the tasks that fill my working day," said Hans. "....I think danny had to do one of those recently - he just handed in a copy of his blogroll and told his boss that catching up with all those tended to fill his mornings," said billy.

Contender 2: Cacoa asked, "What's the biggest number of people you've dated/slept with in one year?" Pob commented: "How many? Not telling. How did it make me feel? Grateful."

Contender 3: My new dress maker Alan:

"I'm aware that the quality of the content here has slipped recently. I've got things to write about, but I guess I don't necessarily feel like writing them.

For example, for about ten minutes this morning I was going to write about the great dream that I had last night, except it was very morbid at the same time as it was life-affirming, in a very Louis-de-Bernieres-back-when-he-was-great way, so instead I'm going to write about the most exciting thing I did last weekend.

I rearranged a book case.

Well, three of them. I had all the books out, I moved them around, I moved the shelves around, and I'm left with a much better organised bookcase.

Contender 4: DG went tablog (note to self, remember to add that to the Dictionary of Blogspeak) on Thursday and also expressed some mild dismay about his "fucking awful data back-up skills." pop artist couldn't help but fall into an old role: " Language Timothy. Tabloids don't print words like that (they fill them with appropriate asterisks) even if the Guardian does."

Contender 5: Hans, even if in direct contravention of the "BW Kick christmas into January" campaign:

"Its nearly that time again..............

Must find 2 wire coat hangers and a load of tinsel, then burn the house down Blue Peter style.

I managed to see Blue Peter the other day, I cant believe that in this throw away world were you can get a camera for 2 quid, that Blue Peter even bother trying to tell addicted console kids how to make a pen holder for your Dad / Brother / Uncle.

Think I once attempted to make a cake for the birds which they didn't eat, I always liked the look of that cake they used to make for the dogs birthdays, rabbit and chicken with yellow icing.

So I don't think I'll attempt any BP decorations this year, besides I wont have the time as I 'll be attempting to keep up with the neighbours by hanging ten thousand fairy lights on the outside of my house and two dozen neon santas. Where has this obsession with turning your house into the Las Vegas strip come from, I've just flicked through the xmas catalogue and discovered that you can get a 8ft Illuminated inflatable Homer Simpson (dressed as Santa) for your front garden, no doubt I'll run this idea by mrs Hans who is in charge of xmas decor, and no doubt my idea will be declined as usual, she seems to have this thing goin on were the xmas tree is a fashion statement and must be in Peach and gold or Silver and Lilac. Is this a girl thing, I remember when xmas trees were all about multi coloured lights and chocalate snowmen and a daft fairy that was one of them cheap plastic dolls normally reserved for toilet roll covers. I've threatened to spray fake snow corners onto every window in the house when she's at work, I'm sure she'll get used to it. :) "

Winner coming later. Got to go to the annual exhibition of one of our favourite local artists and attempt not to buy anything, first. Leaving Heron Features cruising our pond. 3 fly-pasts already this morning. And there's some other birds I can't identify just passing through, obviously on their way home for the winter.

Oh hell. £525 for the painting (it is very lovely though, although we can't have it until tomorrow afternoon). Second most expensive one there. We always manage it. Came home and Mr BW decided that the price of honey had to go up 30p per jar. So, having sold one jar already, that's only 209 more jars to sell until we've paid for the painting... Our unit of currency is The Honey. For example, "What, four Honeys for that? No, bad value!" It's only a hobby - admittedly one that pays for itself - but it is a great reminder. Also had to pay the balance on the forthcoming 10th anniversary holiday last Wednesday. That's more than £5K spent this week. However, that is less than I have saved this year since playing the 0% credit card transfer / offset mortgage game. Free painiting, free holiday, less profit for the banks. Happy Witch :)

So - finally, the winner this week is Pob - well done, two points and the trophy for the week. I'm still laughing every time I think about that one :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:15 am....

   Friday, November 28, 2003  
I couldn't make it up...

*phone rings*

Voice: Morning, Mrs Blue Witch, it's the BT engineer from yesterday here. Just checking that the work I did yesterday on re-working your lines is OK?
Me: Well, the modem speed is up to 40,000 now, so that's an improvement over the 38,600 I had before I went out and left you to it yesterday, and very much better than the 28,800 I've had for the last 3 years...
BT engineer: I'm disappointed it's not more than 40,000 actually. I took it as a bit of a challenge and I was hoping to get you more than that. Hmmm. Are you busy right now?
Me: Um... why?
BT engineer: Well, I was thinking, perhaps if I came round, there might be a way of tweaking things to get it up.
Me: *Thinks - 'No, sorry mate, I'm out of your league' ;)* What had you in mind?
BT engineer: I just want to have a fiddle inside your box, and another look at what's on the pole.
Me: *Thinks - 'Are you playing word games or are you just naive?'* OK, if you think it might help...

An hour, a cup of tea with 4 sugars, and 2 digestive biscuits later.... I now have 44,000bps and his mobile phone number in case of further problems :) Now, I fully understand that most of you will not be at all impressed by this, but, considering that I have been told on three separate occasions that it was not possible to get any better connection speed as we are 7.6km from the sub-exchange, I think that this is a small triumph for the Power of Witchy perseverance. And a BW Customer Service Award to that BT engineer.
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:19 pm....  
BW says, BOYCOTT AMAZON this christmas!

I've had so much trouble with If something goes wrong, they don't give a damn. They are too large to care any more. Their website is unwieldy and slow and often doesn't find items that they stock on a search.

Instead, I'd like to recommend: as a good place to find the best deal on any particular book.

Personally I find to be excellent. Not always the cheapest, but I place Value on service, reliability, and a real person on the end of the phone if there is a problem.

For videos (and DVDs, although I must be almost the only person not to have a DVD player), I use (excellent, fast service, free delivery - they say things are sent second class, but I've always had things 1st class, within 2 days)

For CDs I use (£8.99, free P&P, excellent service, packages fit through your letter box).

Now, if I was sensible, I'd have associate accounts set up as click-throughs on all of those, wouldn't I? :)

Update: More reader-recommended sites in the comments.
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:33 am....  
Here's one that Purple Pen e posted earlier:

I have no idea how much is true.
More than isn't I'd think.
If not all of it.

" George W. Bush
The White House, USA



LAW ENFORCEMENT: I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

MILITARY: I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in

COLLEGE: I graduated from Yale University. I was a cheerleader.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected Governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favour power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any Governor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the Governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

I am the first president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one year period.

After taking-off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S.history.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.

In my State Of The Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips by a U.S. president.

In my first year in office over 2-million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any president in U.S. history.

I set the record for least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in war time.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people) shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I've broken more international treaties than any president in U.S. history.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I am the first president in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I am the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" (detainees) and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first president in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history. My political party used the Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

We garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later I made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I am first president in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to justice.

I am having John Ashcroft look into the scandal of illegally revealing the name of a CIA agent by a high administration official (an outrageous conflict of interest)

I am stealing from the Social Security trust fund at tremendous peril to future generations.

I am expanding the US Federal debt at an extraordinary rate, also at tremendous peril to future generations.


All records of my tenure as Governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed, and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-president, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

Please consider my experience when voting in 2004

Please consider my fitness to be the most powerful man in the world...

And if I disappear, you will know why :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:58 am....  
Thought for the day

Why do smoke alarm batteries always seem to start emiting their warning noises in the middle of the night?

(Spooky co-incidence - I was having a conversation last night about this very subject with someone else, about 8 hours before it happened...)
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:20 am....

   Thursday, November 27, 2003  
Just another manic Thursday...

Bit late today as I've had Little Computer Man here sorting out my modem problems. Only it was a bit more than that. Top quote, "That's one hell of a mess you've got that into in a week, isn't it BW?" I don't do technical. Obviously :)

LCM reckons that Norton Antivirus 2004 upsets around 15% of PCs. Mine seems to be one of them. He's now recommending who are offering a free year's sub to their new product to raise its profile. Does anyone have any informed opinion on this?

Second hard frost of the year here last night. All white and crisp and crunchy.

Mr BW got a rude awakening when he opened the curtains and found our old enemy the heron by the pond. We don't think he'd had any breakfast, but there is now a sheet over the pond as well as the usual netting and fishing line. He's sitting in the middle of The Heath behind us, staring at me as I'm typing. He's huge, about 4 feet tall, and quite magnificent when flying. But, feasting on our foot long koi (estimated value now £150 each) that we've nurtured from 2" babies (2 for a fiver) is definitely a no no.

Lots of mentions of dreams out and about in blogland just recently. As I've said before, I rarely remember what I dream about, but people are always asking me about the significance of their dreams, for some reason. I'm not a great Freudian, except when it suits me, or I need a giggle. However, as it says in the sidebar, one of my major interests is memory, and the overlap between memory, emotion and well-being. Dreams are all part of this process.

So, when I saw the Dictionary of Dreams by Didier Colin (it's a translationn - although you wouldn't know it - from the French. I only put that in as part of the French desensitization project ("Anti-Francovilia") I'm undertaking in certain corners of the blogworld :) recently (£12.99, but, being Value Witch I didn't pay that), I couldn't resist. There are many books about on this subject, but this one is really good. The book lists 1000 key words and offers almost 3,500 possible interpretations. Very easy to use. A bit of fun, not to be taken too seriously though methinks. Like life, actually :)

Oh - Heron Features has just flown right past the window sticking his wings up at me. 4 white D'Oves were in pursuit.... Where's number 5? Let's hope Heron Features hasn't eaten it...
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:46 pm....  
Thought for the day

The self is a calm stable center surrounded by a continuous changing sea. Merge with yourself and be ready for any emergent sea.

- Coretta Scott King

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:39 am....

   Wednesday, November 26, 2003  
Firstly, sorry to everyone for the huge massive breakdown in the internet last night. It was me, I admit it. I take full responsibility. I was doing a spell to sort out my new modem which is malfunctioning and it went (very) badly wrong. Ooops. I'm getting Little Computer Man out tomorrow to sort it instead as I obviously can't be trusted to spell correctly in this area.

For once, I have had cause today to thank my lucky stars that Mummy and Daddy BW didn't name me what Daddy BW wanted to call me. I was nearly 'Louise'. It has to be said that I've never been particularly fond of my name, but the thought of how common I would soon be (had I been called what I nearly was called) just doesn't bear thinking about.

I keep looking at a lovely objet that I bought yesterday. I don't think I've said very much about my love of objets (as in d'art), but I collect anything old and domestic (pre-electric kitchen gadgets, china jelly moulds, washboards, mangles etc), old and gardeny (galvanised watering cans and buckets, old sieves, old farm implements etc) and anything old and dairy-related (milk churns, butter pats, milk jugs, butter churns, ladles, cream pans etc). And occasionally the categories get extended. Like they did yesterday when I saw a wonderful old beaten copper tray in a junk shop. About 12 inches in diameter, with sloping sides about 2 inches high, and very very thick. It actually weighs three and a half pounds. It is beautiful. Most of my objets live in The Coven Grounds, or in the summer house, but this is definitely going to be used. Can't decide yet exactly how, but used it will be.

And that rain today - no, that wasn't one of my spells gone wrong. That was a genuine freak of weather. And it's snowing in North Yorkshire I heard on the news on the radio on the way home tonight.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:43 pm....  
Food additives

I had a dream I remembered last night! Amazing!

It was a re-run of a real experience, and one that I vividly remember.

I was 6 years old and had just started at a very progressive, 60s primary school. I actually started school at a more traditional one, but after the reception class teacher there let me fall off a PE bench and break my nose and then shouted at me to stop crying and stop being so silly and ignored me for the rest of the afternoon, my mother decided that I'd be better at the school at the other end of town. Except that she had to stop teaching there first, because she always said she'd never teach at a school where my brother and I went.

Anyway, I was made to have school dinners. I didn't want to have school dinners because they smelt bad from the moment you walked in the door in the morning. That cabbage smell, you remember? Until one day when I found a huge black curly lock of the head cook's hair in it. Not just a strand, but a lump. Only it was in my mouth before I found it.

I then got shouted at by one of the dinner ladies (only you can't call them that now) for spitting my food out onto the plate. All the other kids on the table recognised it for what it was, and I was then given a free lolly from the tuck shop in an attempt to console me. Only it didn't because it was a green lollipop and I hated green lollipops.

Other unwanted food additives that I have been served since include a large green caterpillar on a lettuce leaf, a blue plaster in a curry and numerous portions of assorted greenery not washed to my high standards (ie visible grit still remaining). The attitude of the Indians to the blue plaster in the curry (if you don't like it, eat somewhere else, and no, you're not having the meal for free) got the place shut down by Environmental Health for a week. I can be most persuasive when I have to be. A few days after I'd heard what happened, I couldn't help myself ringing up the restaurant, and asking the manager whether a weeks' lost takings had cost him more than one blue plaster free meal would have done. That was 13 years ago now. Now I might not be quite so petty, but I would still ring Environmental Health in such a case.

Have you ever found any interesting food 'additives'?
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:32 am....  
Thought for the day

It felt clear until I started thinking about it...
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:15 am....

   Tuesday, November 25, 2003  
So, I have now been told, officially, by my GP, that no-drinking month has to stop.

Now, it's important to understand that my GP is the same age as me, shares my world view on a lot of things (particularly bureaucracy, materialism, and waste in public/large organisations), and knows exactly where I'm coming from. We've known each other for probably 9 years now, and have a certain level of banter and shared understanding that probably exists in only a very tiny minority of doctor/patient relationships, and a mutual understanding of the fact that I do not believe in pharmacological solutions to the majority of problems, particularly those with a non-physical cause.

So, off I went to see him this morning, as I am commanded to do every couple of months.

"How are you today BW?" he asked me. "Oh, you know, mentally OK, better than sometimes, but physically totally wrecked." "Right. Bit unusual for you to be feeling 'mentally OK' in November isn't it? I guess one day your mind and your body will co-incide in an up phase?" "Where there's life, there's hope," I said.

"That's what I love about you BW, you can always see the funny side to every situation. Right. Blood pressure." "Yes," I said. "Well, what is it?" "Um, don't know, I haven't taken it for a while." (I prefer using bio-feedback to control my blood pressure to taking tablets, it works, when I do it, but often gets forgotten when I'm feeling OK. Then it creeps back up, until I start get headaches and feeling physically exhausted. Ah, penny drops....)

Doctor takes blood pressure. I note that he's now using exactly the same blood pressure meter as I have, despite having once told me that they were less accurate than the traditional types. I decide not to comment on this fact.

"Well, BW, that's way too high. Way, way too high. It's the usual choice, you get it down or I give you tablets. 2 weeks, that's all I'm giving you. Come back and see me then." "It'll be fine, come December," I stuttered. GP looked perplexed. "I know you frequently do things the opposite way round to most people BW," he said, "but most people get more stressed as christmas approaches, not less!" "Ah, but, on December the first I will not only be giving Mr BW a chocolate advent calendar (everyone except Mr BW can highlight that blank patch to reveal something secret), but I can start drinking again!" "You've given up drinking BW?" "Yes, but only for November, only to prove we could, and we have had 3 slips-ups..." "Bad idea BW, bad idea. It'd be like me giving up drinking. Not goood for us. But, 30 units per week, maximum, OK?"

I thought for a mo' - 30 units.... that's.... yes! Good. It's official. "Can I have that in writing because Mr BW will never believe me?"

Now, which bottle to drink first.... :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:43 pm....  
The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog

I've been on this planet nearly 41 years (well, to be honest, I've spent a few of them off this planet actually, but, I don't think we'll get started on that just now) and have only today found out that the phrase above is called a pangram.

The foxy phrase uses all 26 letters of the alphabet in a 33-letter sentence that make sense.

"Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs" is better, with one letter less. And "Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex" is better still, if less memorable.

There are several perfect pangrams (ones that uses just 26 letters), the best of which seems to be, " Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx."

There are loads more pangrams here and more info here.
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:43 pm....  
Thought for the day

And this above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow as night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.

- Shakespeare (Hamlet)
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:33 am....

   Monday, November 24, 2003  
The Meatrix

Another in the Witch on Film series!

A Matrix flash movie spoof.

Very, very clever.

It is so obvious to me that the food (fuel) you put into your body (machine) affects how you feel, how well your immune system works, and how long you are likely to live.

As regulars will know, I don't eat meat, and haven't for 33 years. During the summer months most of the fruit and vegetables we eat come from The Coven grounds. We grow them ourselves because then we know what has been sprayed onto them (or, rather, not sprayed onto them) or put in the soil (compost from our own heap). In fact, we're still (just) eating our own tomatoes and lettuce, as well as carrots, spring onions, garlic, beetroot, leaf beat, and the cabbages will soon be useable. Our hens produce all the eggs we need as antibiotics and growth stimulants given to hens are just not things I want in my system, thank you.

Most people don't think about where their food comes from, or how it is produced. The Meatrix shows just how factory farming is taking away consumer choice. Just as supermarkets have closed local shops and reduced consumer choice.

'Neo' is a pig living in a classic model farm, who meet 'Moopheus' (a cow) who invites him to take the red pill and discover 'the lie we tell ourselves about where food comes from'. The animation is funny, clever and informative. The site was the result of a grant from design company Free Range won by the Global Resource Action Centre for the Environment.

It's not the same old propaganda, and worth seeing just because it's clever, even if you choose not to believe in the message.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:10 am....  
Thought for the day:

"The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose."

- Hada Bejar

Sorry, bit late this morning, I've been trying to save another small corner of blogland. Message to you all: back up your data now - if your hard drive goes pop, so might your life, even *my* Little Computer Man can't work miracles. End of public sevice broadcast.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:25 am....

   Sunday, November 23, 2003  

This is me.

The hat's not quite right (they didn't do pointy ones) but the rest is fairly accurate.

You can make you here.

(thanks to drD for the link)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:30 pm....  
Witch on Film

(No, this isn't the long-awaited (in Northern quarters) confession that I am (or am not) Helen Mirren (or, come to that, Bert the Trucker). Sorry to disappoint boys :) )

What a difference a week makes!

Last Sunday afternoon the weather was gorgeous - warm and mild - and we dug out and spread 16 cubic yards of home-made compost.

This Sunday, as it was raining and Mr BW didn't fancy either finishing off tiling the cloakroom floor (a fiddly job as I've insisted it is done diagonally, and with a point in front of the loo rather than a straight edge along the back wall - if you ever get to see it you'll understand) or finishing off my Dalek (which, BTW, has turned out to be not a Dalek, but rather a raised fruit tree base - like a giant Dalek, but different)(oh, and while we're side-tracking, as we are, dave, Mr BW says that a blow-up Dalek, however nice, sounds rather, erm, gay; he appreciates the thought, but he'd appreciate another stick of rock more :)) we decided to go to the cinema.

Saw Love Actually. From the makers of Bridget Jones' Diary, Notting Hill and 4 Weddings (just in case there is anyone less clued-up on these things than me, which is highly doubtful).

Recommended under the following circumstances:

1. Inebriation
2. Bored on a Sunday afternoon
3. Needing to be cheered up
4. Wanting something to see after (or before) the office party

Would have been a U certificate (or whatever they call it these days) if it hadn't been for Tiffany's gob and some stand-in nude pseudo sex shots involving one of the blokes from The Office (or so Mr BW said, I have no idea, I hate that programme).

Definitely has a sell-by date of Christmas Eve (so that gives you 31 days to see it), no after-life on video or DVD and I can see it being trotted out for the next few christmases on TV. At least it will make a change from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Snowman. Oh damn, forgot about the swearing and the nudity, it'll have to be on later in the day.

Stuffed full of celebs and stuffed full of laughs. As usual, I managed to laugh in bits that others didn't, but half the time it was because I'd already worked out what was coming next.

Lovely line at the beginning about when you feel down you should think of the arrivals gate at Heathrow and all the love that is shown there.

And well done to them for poking fun at the current Government and the American 'Special Relationship'. I have a feeling that this one won't be a big hit in the US :)

Harmless fun, with some interesting sub-themes, which you might notice if you're sober enough, but it won't matter if you don't.
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:19 pm....  
Thought for the day

Either you reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow.

- Nietzsche

   posted by Blue Witch at 10:32 am....

   Saturday, November 22, 2003  
A tale of Down Under

When Mr BW was doing a lot of travelling abroad on business, he used to collect 'Hard Rock Cafe' t-shirts. Before he met me these tended to be originals. Latterly they turned into the ones you could get in the local market for a quid equivalent in the local currency :)

Anyway, today he subconsciously (so he says) put on the black 'Sydney Hard Rock Cafe' one (last seen about 5 years ago, if not longer). When I saw it I decided that that should be changed to 'Sydney Hard Luck Cafe' :) Anyway, that's all academic now as he's been laying the new ceramic tiles in the cloakroom in it this afternoon (why do men have to use decent clothes to do messy jobs?).

Still, something has just occurred to me - we are off down under on holiday in eight weeks. Do you think the memory will have worn off by then or are we likely to be unwelcome? And, something that has always puzzled me - do the Aussies call the northern hemisphere 'Up Over'?

And, sigh of relief, Mr BW has just proof-read the report I've spent half the day writing. Only one error. A comma instead of a semi-colon. Yippee! Although I must admit that the alcohol-free month did get broken for the third time earlier. Still, 3 bottles of wine between us in 22 days is probably about 20-odd *coughs* *hics* less than we usually manage, so I suppose we've done well...
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:09 pm....  
A couple of weeks ago we were discussing keyboard shortcuts.

Today I have come across one of the most useful documents I have ever seen - a guide to PC Special Character Entry. About 200 shortcuts in total. It lists the MS Word shortcut keys as well as the Alt key codes.

For example (note Num Lock needs to be on and you need to use the numeric keypad):

Alt and 246 to get a division sign (÷)
Alt and 184 to get a copyright sign (©)
Alt and 251 to get a superscript 1 (¹)
Alt and 135 gives lowercase c with cedilla (ç)

(no whining from non-PC users, please :) Although I wouldn't be surprised if your ways to access these symbols are easier than the other way of doing it on a PC)
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:55 pm....  
Now, I should be writing an urgent report for 30 minutes, then playing with my new dress for 15 minutes as a reward (yep, it's got that bad :)). However, my scissors are blunt and I ain't got no pins, so the new dress can't proceed until the senior dressmaker picks up his email :)

So, to compensate, in my 15 minutes off, I've been surfing around.... came across The Digital IQ Test.

Goodness knows how, but I got 103. In the category "You are average to above average in the business world; buy a few gadgets and you might graduate to guru." I don't think I guessed any answers either.

You can check your knowledge here.

Of course, I do realise the irony in juxtaposing those two comments :)

(and I don't think that irony is quite the right word either, but I think my brain needs a holiday...)
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:18 pm....  
The 31st Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

There was no MBWLA last week as The Coven was PC-less and it wouldn't do to have had the IT Department where Mr BW works looking at the logs of remote access and seeing him (me) posting to BW, now would it? So, this week there are 6 contenders, but the last two are a couple I'd found before my PC was wrested from me the week before.

Contender 1: dave put up a picture of a white cat, who introduced herself:

"Hi, I'm Blanche and I'm a reporter. Dave and Darren are out of town today and Edward is at the grooming salon so I thought I'd let myself in through the dog flap and have a bit of a spoach round spellcnut towers. What a dump! There's crumbs in the bed, mucky videos strewn all over the floor, dust balls in every corner, no cream in the fridge and a weird pong coming from the bathroom. Poor things, no wonder they have no friends.
Anyway, there's nothing here for a sophisticated cat like me so I'm heading back to Cat Town to be with my own kind.

P.S. I left a 'message' for Edward in the garden and I discovered that the horrible whiff from the bathroom was old spice aftershave *shudders*.

Contender 2: And then there was nic: Concerned about the number of 40-somethings still living chez mummy and daddy. I'm unsure whether he was feeling sorry for them, envious of them, or concerned that his own might want to stick around that long!

Anyway, Cheri commented that "I left when I turned 18... and never went back."

I added, "I left at 16 and only go back under huge duress.

Nic replied, "Indeed, but I read that as "under a huge DRESS" the first time.... "

Now look here, I think I know where that came from, but I would point out that size 16 is the average size for women in the UK these days, nothing to do with huge :)

Contender 3: Gert, talking about life this week in central London:

"Down Buckingham Gate comes the Queen's Rolls Royce, with Royal Standard on the front, and an elderly woman in the back."

And then, the next day...

"Circus: Or at least, that what it felt like outside Buck House. The crowds circled the Victoria memorial and crowded on the corner where Constitution Hill meets The Mall by Green Park. I guess the crowd was 20% pro, 20% against and 60% lunchtimers/ tourists/ bloggers."

BTW, am I the only one to notice the juxtaposition of the potential 11.6% average rise in Council Tax rates (because the Government have no money) with the story on the visit of Bush? I thought so.

Contender 4: Oh dear, dear, dear... Ron disclosed his Tuesday night dream. Listen Steve, if you were ever worried about your dreams, fear no longer :)

Anyway, this bit started me off,

"it was difficult to drink anything at all because all the glasses had been smashed right down to about 2 centimetres above the base, so everyone had tiny little bits of drink, only as much as they could successfully contain in these broken stubby glasses."

and it went downhill from there,

"I wasn't getting an award for anything but I knew someone who was. A load of young bespectacled teenage girls (all of whom were excessively tall and slightly ungainly, as if they hadn't yet learned to cope with their height) and lads seemed very keen to shake my hand, jostling with one another to do so. (Could this be Ron's nascent 'id' fighting to get into my conscious for the first time? Lets hope so...:-) ).

Anyway the ceremony ended, and it turned into a horrendous goth disco type thing with a mosh pit and everything, with loads of sweaty teenagers throwing themselves around, with that distinctive smell that I can only associate with 'Quiggins' in Liverpool, sort of sweat and incense and lots of poor quality black t-shirts.

The worst thing was, he ended up at mine in his dream! "At that point I indicated to the barman I wanted one last drink, in response to which he said I would have to go to the 'outside' bar(?). Having somehow gone outside I discovered I was outside a Country Mansion, made out of distinctive Cotswold sandstone, and it was a fine Summer's evening, nice and mild and not too busy at the outside bar.(?)"

Contender 5: Pob's Confession Number 2: a taste of which is....

“What the hell happened to you.” shouts Flatmate Frank.

I collapse in to the armchair, struggling for breath.

“She..never…said…anything…about…a …boyfriend.” I pant.

I delve into my pocket and pull out my handkerchief to wipe away some of the sweat dripping down my face.

“Oh, and Pob? Can I just ask why it is that you’re wiping your face with a pair of knickers?”

Contender 6: DG was concerned that he had been linked to by a safe-links-for-kiddies site:

"It's worrying to think that someone I've never met thinks that my site is safe for kids. I mean, it probably is, but who's to say I won't suddenly start discussing Prince Charles' sex life at some point in the near future, or dropping the odd f*ck in here and there? And what if I get round to revealing that Santa Claus doesn't exist or, even more dangerously, pondering that God may not exist either? Oh the burden of responsibilty I now face. So, given that I have a potential new audience of youthful surfers, I thought I'd better start performing a useful public service and offer some helpful advice on a pressing topic of national importance. What do you think?

Hey kids, are you fat?

Are you a great big wobbly lardbucket? Don't worry if you are, because new research shows that childhood obesity is solely the fault of nasty evil adults. You'll be able to sue for damages in the future, assuming you live that long after you've clogged your arteries with Happy Meals. Teeth, who needs them when you can suck fizzy sugar through a straw instead? And the baggy look is in, which is just as well when your waistline is growing faster than your height. Never fear, diamond geezer is here with ten top tips to help you lose that puppy fat, fast.

1) Vegetables may be good for you but they taste foul. So always dip your carrots and broccoli in chocolate to make them easier to swallow.

2) Sloshing fizzy drinks round your mouth every day reduces the amount of enamel on your teeth, cutting a few useful milligrams off your weight.

3) Ignore all those ads for sugary foods during the breaks on children's telly. Leave the room and go get yourself an ice cream from the fridge instead.

4) Always eat as much unhealthy food as you can because they give you special tokens that help your school to buy essential PE equipment.

5) Sport is not fun. Sport is dangerous. Nobody ever got injured sitting on their sofa at home eating popcorn and playing computer games.

6) The walk to the chippie and back every lunchtime uses calories you wouldn't burn if you stayed in school and ate pasta and salad instead.

7) Always use a sicknote to avoid PE lessons because you don't look good in shorts, and you look like a whale in the shower afterwards too.

8) Who cares if poor childhood health is cutting back on your life expectancy? Who wants boring old things like pensions and Alzheimers anyway?

9) There's far too much salt in all that processed food you eat, so remember to neutralise your meals by pouring lots of ketchup over everything.

10) Remember kids, the easiest way to lose weight is to saw one of your legs off. After all, you never use it to get any exercise do you?

BTW, have they delinked you yet, or didn't they notice?

Now that you have all finished being patriotic and/or ogling those rugby types in what Hans refers to in the comments just below as "the egg chasing event from Aus on Sat morning." (excellent terminology Hans, BW likes, Bonus Point :)), I can now reveal the winner. Actually, I think this is the hardest one to judge that there has ever been, but, as there wasn't an award last week I'll have two winners this week. So, two points and a trophy apiece to DG and dave. Well done to you all.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:59 am....

   Friday, November 21, 2003  
It's just occurred to me that the ideal time to go shopping, for anyone who hates crowds and shopping, like me, will be tomorrow morning :)

Judging by the amount of beer being bought in the supermarket while I was there earlier, some people are either going to be drinking at 8.30am in the morning, or aren't going to bed, or stopping drinking, tonight. I suddenly feel very old.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:51 pm....  
I've just found another person who understands about red milk, green milk and blue milk. Everyone I know laughs at me when I speak about levels of included fat in such terms. I'm happy now.

Except that I want a Dalek. I *need* a Dalek. I *deserve* a Dalek. I'm going to win a Dalek in this week's RT competition. Failing that, Mr BW is just going to have to get his tools out and make me a Dalek. He was only telling me the other night that when he were a lad he had the leaflet with full Dalek-making instructions that is shown in this week's special RT supplement (which will be joining my collection of christmas issues). Actually, I think he's dying to make a Dalek as Mummy Blue-Witch-in-Law wouldn't let him then. She said that the house was too small and he couldn't get the large sheets of plywood needed home on his push-bike. And besides, Value Witch isn't likely to want to pay £1,795 for a Dalek, is she? (although, that page made me laugh - it says, "For safety reasons the major difference between the Daleks that we manufacture and the on-screen Daleks is the omission of an internal seat. This is for customers safety as we do not encourage people getting inside.")

Please will everyone enter the Dalek-winning competition and give me the Dalek when they win? Thanks :)

(Oh, and in case anyone has missed it, DG has been doing a very interesting A-Z of Doctor Who this week. I make no comment whatsoever about overcoats of any kind, although I could because he's already given me my christmas present, so it probably wouldn't mattter :) )
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:58 am....  
When I get home after a day like yesterday, when I left the house at 08.45 and worked without a break at all until 19.15 when I got in, it's lovely to go out in the dark with a large lantern, crunch down the gravel path to the orchard and put the hens to bed (pull up their drawbridge) and walk round the D'Ovecote to check that there are 5 little white heads pulled into their shoulders, looking most indignant that I've shone a light into their eyes. Oh yes, forgot to say, while I was prevented from blogging last week, the 5th D'Ove came back! Actually, unless someone trimmed the black edge out of its tail, it's not the original one as it now has a totally white tail. It could be one of the second pair returned, or it could be another one that's found its way in. Either way, I don't care, I now have 5 again. 3 with totally white tails and two with thin black edges on their tails (rather than 2 white and 3 black edged). As Mr BW said, it will provide some genetic variance.

By one of those weird coincidences that are always happening to me, one of the students I saw yesterday at a local college (and yes, dave, before you ask, this time it would have been worthwhile :) - best not mention things like this as Mr BW might get the wrong idea and keep me locked up in The Coven with only D'Oves, hens and Fluffy the ginger familiar for company :) had a very familiar name. I'm very good at recalling names (give me a list of 1000 names and I reckon I could pick out those of kids I've seen in the past), and, after a few questions, ascertained that, had he actually been in school that day, I would have seen him (in my former employed by The System incarnation) when he was 15 and a non-school-attender. After a couple of hours, I went through the test results with him and confirmed what the Learning Support Co-ordinator at the college had thought after her initial screening. He stared at me as if in a trance. "Does that explain a lot?" I asked. "Yes, but it also makes me angry that I've wasted 10 years of my life in rubbish jobs earning rubbish money because I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed on the day when I should have seen you before."

What a difference a day could have made.

I do get very annoyed when I find children or students of any age who have slipped through the net like this. There is so much that could have been done to support him. Ability-wise, he is high average, but he has a reading age of just 10. Can you imagine the frustration this must have caused him? His spelling is so classically non-regular that it should have been shouting 'dyslexic' to any teacher who taught him after the age of about 6 or 7. Yet, somehow, the system failed him, no-one identified his problems, and he ended up bunking off school rather than sitting and feeling stupid. Who can blame him?

It's a worrying thought, isn't it, that in every profession there are those who just miss the bleedin' obvious. How do you know, when you are a learner, an ill person, a person in legal trouble, a person seeking financial advice, a person needing their washing machine mended (etc etc ad infinitum) that you are actually getting someone who is up to the job you are asking/paying them to do?

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

Patience is a particular requirement. Without it, you can destroy in an hour what it might take you weeks to repair.

- Charlie W. Shedd

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:25 am....

   Thursday, November 20, 2003  
I think I'm giving up on trying to edit the Dead Enders thing below (down a few posts), because it's all far too confusing. I am happy to say that, despite consuming it, as it's often on at dinner time, I obviously don't digest it, because a lot of it was news to me. Thanks to everyone who assisted :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:23 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day:

Financial Matters

1. How much has Bush's trip to London cost?

2. Why did Bush recently spend $180M advertising the launch of a new $20 bank note (very similar to the last one but with peachy, green and blue hues, but still no size or texture assistance for the visually impaired)? (I saw one, albeit in a pub car park, last night, and it wasn't that impressive at all, compared with what we have in the UK, and in Europe)

3. How much did it cost The Royal Mint (us) to reprint the new currency for Iraq?

4. Why have we not been told how much of UK taxpayers money has been spent on destroying / rebuilding Iraq?

5. On what would you prefer to have seen the above money spent?

And yes, the candle that burnt on BW throughout The War is out again today. If I hadn't got to do something that has proved impossible to rearrange, I would have been protesting too. And it takes a lot to make me want to join a public mass protest against anything, for the simple reason that I believe there are usually more effective ways of getting one's message across. In this case, though, I can't think of any...
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:27 am....

   Wednesday, November 19, 2003  
So far today...

1. A white van pulled out of a side road (from the right) just in front of me (on a main, straight, road), I hooted him to warn him that a Merc that had been parked (on my side, on the main road) when he last looked, had started reversing towards me (and therefore towards him, as he pulled across in front of me). His mate then proceeded to gesticulate and shout at me (presumably because they thought I was hooting because they were pulling out on me) and the driver was either also engaged in telling me they'd done it once or twice before, or was distracted, as the white van then hit the Merc rather spectacularly. Brassy blonde Essex female Merc driver (if you hail from hereabouts, you'll understand what I mean - if you don't, it's what I refer to as 'pots of money and no breeding'), got out and proceeded to give him a bigger mouthload of abuse than the white van man and his mate would have known between them. For once I couldn't be bothered to get involved (Posh Witches leave Classic Essex Types to sort out their own differences in their own way :)) and reversed back and just managed to squeeze past the debris.

2. I've poured boiling water all over my foot.

3. Nice BT Engineer in Manchester has managed to get my modem line up to 38,600 bps! From where it was at 28,800 bps on Monday morning, that is huge progress. Stop laughing all you broadband area people or I'll put a spell on you :)

And, he has discovered an underground fault somewhere in the 7.6km between me and the nearest sub-exchange that, if they can find it, will mean that I might get even more! Now, this would all be fine, and I'd be pleased, except for the fact that all this has (supposedly) been checked through on at least 3 previous occasions when I've complained about it...

   posted by Blue Witch at 3:17 pm....  
OK, Dead Enders, Omnibus Version, left over from the post I put up when I knew I wouldn't be able to blog for a while (which became an extended while, but I really should stop going on about that now, shouldn't I? :)

How many of the 30 dead bodies did you find then? (sadly I don't think that Queen Victoria, or dogs, or budgies count....)

If I've extracted these from the comments correctly, and put one or two together, and not made any errors (which I doubt) you got 27 between you (although it is worrying how closely some of you obviously watch :)) - well done! I've added an obvious one that got missed and now we're only two and a few names short.

Haven't there been any dead children? If not, why not?! And, weren't there any deaths connected with the Greek family who ran the caff at one time? Someone's memory is better than mine...
(Alan-birthday-boy-never-watch-the-show-honest-Witchy-'s was - I had a feeling that there was a connection between these two random thoughts - see below)

Come on, you can do it, let's get the rest. (now done)

Then, someone can put them in chronological order....
And I've noted who has been conspicuous by his absence by the way.
No doubt he had all 30 before the ink on the post was even dry :)

1. Tiffany Mitchell
2. Arthur Fowler
3. Ethel Skinner
4. Reg Cox
5. Eddie Royal
6. Grant Mitchell (?) Harry Slater (Zoe's Dad)
7. Dirty Den (?) Jane Williams (?) and Natasha Butcher (?) - any people with good memories to confirm if/who/what?
8. The bloke Clyde (?) got framed for killing
9. Gill Fowler
10. Him out of Spandau Ballet (Steve Owen (?))
11. Fireman Tom
12. Trevor Morgan
13. Andy the nurse
14. Lou Beale
15. Kathy Beale's tragic secret daughter Donna
16. Jamie Mitchell
17. Saskia
18. Ashley Cotton
19. Nick Cotton (?)
20. James Wilmot-Brown
21. The one Dennis shot recently in the woods Jack Dalton
22. Charlie Cotton
23. Angie Watts
24. Roy Evans
25. The guy who ran the Vic with the big nose who Nick Cotton stabbed
25. Cindy Beale
26. The tramp who got burnt in the car lot
27. Pete Beale
28. Pete Beale's girlfriend Rose died in the same crash as him.
29. Debbie Bates was hit by a car.
30. Hassan Osman died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

And, while you're thinking about who is missing from that list, I heard a funny on Terry Wogan while driving around last week. He reckons that Martin Fowler is the love-child of Pauline and the Young Mr Grace :)

So, a couple of missing names to go (8, 21, 26(?)), and the chronological ordering....
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:16 am....  
Aren't people stupid somtimes?

Take this Google search, for instance.

And, while trying to decide who had been looking for the 'calories in maltesers', I found the diet that dave is following. Yes? :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:10 am....  
Thought for the day

If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.

- Maxwell Maltz

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:03 am....

   Tuesday, November 18, 2003  
How to change the background colour of text in documents / screens within XP

As no-one was able to tell me how, now I've discovered, I'll share it:

Right click on desktop> properties> appearance> advanced> item> select 'window'> color 1> other> change to your heart's content either by playing in the colour grid or by playing with the numbers.

Most people who have trouble with eye-strain on a monitor when working for long periods (eg dry eyes, headaches, general fatigue) will be more comfortable with either a pale lilac/pink backgound or a pale turquoise background. The optimum intesity of colour for your personal well-being will probably change over time, so you'll need to experiment with settings every now and then.

When I get my screen back to my specific requirements, I'll post the exact numbers, in case anyone is interested in trying it. At present it's too dark, but better than black on white. You can also change the colour of the text, if you so wish.

More info on colour in the treatment of visual stress is available here.

Update: Just realised - the right slider bar in with the colour panel controls the brightness! So, the colours that I'm now using (but, these may be too bright for you as I've been using this method of enhanced working through reduced visual system stress for several years now), top to bottom, left to right, are 210/255, 240/223, 225/255. if you try this and find it horrendous, you're probably a turquoise preference person, so try numbers in that part of the colour spectrum. You can also alter the colours of almost every part of your system using the features you'll find here.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:39 pm....  
Essential Music

I've been very impressed with the CD sets that are out under the "The Essential" label.

A while ago I bought The Essential Steve Earle, and I've just been listening to The Essential Bruce Springsteen in the car. Excellent stuff, and excellent value - 2 CDs in each set, lots of tracks on each (not just the usual stuff you tend to get on 'best of's), plus a bonus CD with another 12 tracks on the Bruce one.

Bought from my favourite cut-price-music place, CD Wow! (low price, no P&P and excellent delivery times), that one was £12.99 for 3 CDs with 42 tracks. And a booklet with all the words so I don't annoy Mr BW by making them up as I go along :) (In case you're not aware, CD Wow! sell all Top 20 CDs at £8.99).

According to the insert, other artists that are currently Essentialised include The Clash, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Santana, Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Earth, Wind & Fire, Janis Joplin, Ozzy Osbourne, Leonard Cohen, Byrds, Dave Brubeck and Tony Bennett.

The perfect christmas present for someone, perhaps? (yes, well, as I've just seen christmas trees for sale already and a place selling 'American style christmas decorations' (don't ask, I didn't go in, I didn't want to know the depths to which tackiness could descend), I thought I'd best mention it, even though the campaign slogan goes... How does it go now, have you forgotten while the Blogger and PC rebuild problems prevented me from blogging? All together now....

BW says.. Kick christmas into January!
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:12 pm....  
Thought for the day

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the desk in front of him. When the final student was seated he picked up a large and empty glass bottle and proceeded to fill it with rocks...about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

He then picked up a box of pebbles and added them to the jar, shaking it lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. "Is the jar filled now?"

Yes, the students said.

But then he picked up a bag of sand and poured it into the bottle. The sand filled in everything else. Once more he asked if it was full and after some thinking they said that it was.

The professor then took 2 cans of beer from a bag at the side of the desk and opening them both, poured their entire contents into the jar. The students roared at this demonstration.

After the laughter subsided the professor spoke: "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things in your life; your family, your partner, your health, your children...things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.

If you put the sand into the jar first there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, rewire the lamp.

Take care of the rocks first...the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

After the impact of what he had said settled one of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

"I'm glad you asked. It just goes to prove that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers."

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:26 am....

   Monday, November 17, 2003  
Well, the BW PC is nearly back to how it was a week ago before the major upgrade/rebuild.

And don't let anyone tell you that XP has to have those nasty rounded corner boxes, tasteless bright colours and hard-to-find useful bits. Because it doesn't. We've just managed to get it looking just like it used to. And, touch wood, everything seems to be working OK, and there have been no software compatibility problems. Yet.

Oh, and for all you people who said it would be stable - OE has already crashed twice and proceeded to automatically send an error message to Microscam without giving me the opportunity to stop it first (as I usually would)(although that's now sorted too).

There's only one problem that I can't find a way of fixing. Because I find it very hard to read black text on a white background, I usually have the red/blue/green balance on the monitor adjusted to give a lilac/pink background. However, I can't seem to find the place to adjust the monitor colour balance on XP. Any ideas anyone, please?

And, after much moaning from me about the speed of my internet connection due to having my PC line DAX'd off my voice line (because, when they put the second line on 3 years ago, they had no spare lines in this area), BT finally turned up to sort the problem out this morning. Without letting me know, of course, and the engineer had just been told to take the DAX off the line (which would have left me with only one line). However, a bit of BW persuasion, and he managed to find a new line pair for me (a local chicken hatchery recently closed freeing up 3 lines), and, joy of joys, the connection speed has now gone up from 28,800bps to 36,000. I am so excited. Just think, I'll be able to download a 1MB file in 20 minutes instead of 25 now. Great :(

So, PC now back in functional state, now to start on the mountain of email which all downloaded into my main box rather than self-sort into 9 different ones. Once I've done that, I'll pop by to see you all...
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:11 pm....  

There is one thing that drives me absolutely mad and that is unreliable people. Little Computer Man (LCM)(who doesn't look like Darren anymore) promised me that I would have my PC back first thing on Friday morning. And then it didn't turn up.... And he didn't bother to ring me to tell me that he had a problem with getting some of the bits needed (the courier had managed to send them to the 'return to' address rather than deliver them to him).

So, I have only just got my PC back (LCM was here at 7.40am this morning - I think he's scared of spells!!). Having thought I'd be without it for 3 days, it turned into a week, and there I was on Friday, typing reports on a friend's PC in her laundry room, which means I now have a really bad back as she has one of these cheapy computer workstations which are at all the wrong height for sensible working. Grrr.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I got a free new modem out of it (because the existing internal modem card seemed not to be compatible with XP), so I was slightly pacified. So, a bill for a new modem, new hard drive, more RAM, XP upgrade, Norton anti-virus, of £138.19 was, I thought, not bad.

So - I now need about 20 hours to set up the system with all my little idiosyncrasies (if I can find where they are hidden on XP), reinstall all my non-important, but useful, software, and deal with a backlog of nearly 500 emails (plus reconfigure my 18 different mail rules).

Plus I now have to go out for the rest of the day...

I'll catch up with you all sometime soon, promise :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 10:08 am....

   Monday, November 10, 2003  
Dead Enders

I'm not a great one for soaps, but, as we usually end up having dinner at around East Enders' time, we generally catch that.

I was amazed to hear on the breakfast show on BBC1 on Saturday that there have been 30 dead bodies over the course of the programme's life.

How many of them can we think of?
(let's start with 2 per person maximum)

(If we're very lucky, once we've got them all, someone might just be inspired to give us the background to each demise :))

My PC is about to be wrested away from me by its creator/carer. Major upgrade and install XP. Wish it well. I'm feeling stressed. Probably not back until Friday, so see if you can get all 30 by then.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:02 pm....  
Hmmm. Just because I now have a registered domain name and it's all set up chez Mr Wiz, and plans are afoot for my new improved expandable dress (christmas is coming, the Witch is getting fat), Blogger have decided to let me post via Mozilla this morning (but, I won't speak too soon as I got the ongoing IE problem replicated in Mozilla after getting in once on Saturday). Sincere thanks to everyone involved in my reincarnation. Now all I need to do is manufacture some time to do the other bits...

It might be a sign that my spells have finally worked. If they have worked properly I'm afraid that there won't be anyone left alive in Blogger HQ, so, anyone still using Blogger, don't expect any support. Not that you'll notice the difference, of course :)

Still - I'll leave you with a funny from an assessment I did last week. 45 year old man (no dave, before you ask, definitely not worth it ;) asked to define the word "fortuitous", told me that it meant, "over 40". I liked it :)

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

Be patient with the faults of others; they have to be patient with yours.

   posted by Blue Witch at 7:13 am....

   Saturday, November 08, 2003  
The 30th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

As you may have noticed, this week hasn't been very funny for me. Not only have I been working flat-out to catch up with myself after a week away, but I have been prevented from blogging too. Posting by proxy is not the same, as the spontaneity and control are removed.

FINALLY, after numerous emails from me (on a regular basis since last Sunday) and standard, unhelpful and extremely frustrating replies from them, Blogger decided this morning that my posting problem cannot be fixed. This is a problem that occurs on 3 different PCs in different locations remember, and they cannot do anything about it, they claim.

Not only could they not be bothered to find someone with the skills to: (a) read the details in the emails I sent, and (b) solve the problem, but, worst of all, they couldn't be bothered to alter their standard email sufficiently when replying to me:

"We have tested your account and were unable to receive the error that you are reporting. We are aware of the problem and working to resolve it. Since we cannot recreate the problem, you may want to try to use a different browser to log into your account and post to your blog.

Thank you for your patience,
Blogger Support"

As a paying customer of their service, I think I have the right to be extremely angry about this "couldn't give a fuck" attitude.

So, although I haven't laughed at anything this week, I am making the 2nd ever BW Special Award to Blogger's Pathetic Customer Support Service:

I'm sure that they will want to display it on their ever-so-frequently updated front page with pride....
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:22 pm....

   Thursday, November 06, 2003  
I appear to have lost the will to blog.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:03 am....

   Wednesday, November 05, 2003  

Sigh. Blogger still won't let me post my own stuff. Support sent me a standard email saying they were aware of the problem and working on it. Since Sunday afternoon?

One of my favouritest places on the net is this one (or V2, this one), where you can safely create your own firework display to your heart's content, and for free (I'm a Simple, Value Witch, remember :))

Other than the odd packet of sparklers, you will never find me in possession of fireworks.

Quite simply because they are some of the most dangerous articles readily available on this planet (even if the instructions are followed carefully).

I don't even particularly like organised displays. This goes back to November 5th 1982. The year one of the organisers of a bonfire party at an agricultural college had his eye blown out by a mispeforming rocket. At that time I was hanging around with a lot of agricultural students (and yes, it's all true ;)). I arrived late to the bonfire party, having been in the local pub with a few others. Not realising what had happened, I just saw one of the exchange year students being carried off, past us, on a pitch black path, laughed and said, "Is Kiwi so pissed you're having to take him home already?!" I think that is probably the worst thing I have ever said in jest (albeit innocently) ever.

No, although I love fireworks, I also hate fireworks. Especially fireworks + alcohol. Bang goes the rest of your life. Please take care if you're handling fireworks tonight.

But, on a lighter note, I felt a small triumph yesterday when an 8 year old I have been working with for an hour every week (he came to me about a year ago, as a total non-reader, with no phonological awareness and limited oral language skills, totally turned-off learning, and having heard his teacher say to his mother, "I really cannot understand why he isn't capable of learning like normal children") wrote the following poem. I provided the title, we talked for 2 or 3 minutes about the subject, and I helped him spell two of the words. I think it's wonderful:

Autumn is...

A cold day
Clocks going back
Leaves changing colour
Cold hands
Fires alight
Guys on bonfires
People staying home.

I was trying to decide what I like best about Autumn. I think it's the low bands of mist hovering over the fields behind The Coven for a few minutes as dawn creeps upon the world. It only happens for a couple of weeks in the year, but it is truly magical.

What do you like best about Autumn?
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:00 am....

   Tuesday, November 04, 2003  
Blogger still won't let me post my own posts, so we are reliant on, and grateful to, the amateur sorcery of another once again...

Blogger tech support seem to be ignoring my requests for help too - considering that I first reported this latest problem on Sunday at 3 o'clock, not good I feel as I do pay for premium service. Still - only 8 weeks of my current year with them left, and there are other service providers.... and my newly acquired knowledge of html might just about extend to designing a new dress from scratch except that I don't have any time - only I do, really, because it's amazing how much time you can manufacture when you can't blog and you aren't drinking. So far this month we've defrosted and tidied out all 3 freezers, sorted and filed a huge box of papers, and made 30 pots of marmalade with honey (with seville oranges discovered in the freezer) (eat your heart out Paddington - lovely site that :)), as well as doing the usual boring things like work, washing, hoovering up leaves and changing the bed.

Extreme and Enetation have also been misbehaving. Although an end to the problems might be in sight as Haloscan have re-opened sign-ups (get in quick if you want an account - I missed out last time by dithering).

Value Witch says... don't assume that car servicing is standard price across main dealers - we just saved £20 by checking prices and playing the cheapest one off against our preferred one (and before anyone says that using main dealers is not good value, I'll just point out that you have no option for the first 3 years if you want to keep the guarantee).

Privacy Protection Witch says... am I the only one who is annoyed by people I've given my (usually highly restricted) mobile number to for contact-in-case-of-problems purposes (eg garages, dentists, opticians), sending me unrequested text messages to remind me about appointments? (as if I needed reminding!)

And, finally for now... here's a few things that have been said about me (within my hearing) recently:

"BW you are as obvious as a tablespoon in the teaspoon drawer." (Elsie)

"BW you are probably the funniest person I have ever met." (woman of about 70 on the course I did last week)

"BW that doesn't surprise me at all, I've always known you were different." (friend of many years after I'd just told her of a recent revelation that I am still considering the wisdom of blogging)

What's anyone been saying about you recently?
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:05 am....

   Monday, November 03, 2003  
See comments for details.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:40 am....

   Saturday, November 01, 2003  
The 29th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

Coming later.
Mr BW is insisting that he owns me for a while....
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:00 pm....  
Well, that was spooky. Blogger wouldn't let me post my own stuff last night (thank heavens for, and thanks to, Witch Substitutes who weren't thwarted by error messages on my posting page - has anyone else using Blogger had this problem?). Blogger Tech Support told me it was my PC and/or browser and I was all set to have to let BW die in a Halloween night accident (along the lines of the excellent one that FROG spotted :))

In attempting to solve the problem I did clear all the hard-to-clear places in the depths of Windows and found nearly 1500 biscuits dropping crumbs into my hard drive (I hate clearing cookies because I use different passwords for everything and despite having an index box of them all, it's still a case of fishing out the right card and I'm a Lazy Witch). Yes, I now know which bloggers are obsessed with info :)

I have been reminded that it was exactly 3 years ago yesterday that my last hard drive died, so I guess that it's a sign. It was also 3 years ago exactly that my last broomstick caught fire while marooned in a rising flood. It could only happen to me.

Lots more to tell about the time away, later, and I'll also have a scoot round for funnies for the MBWLA, also later.

Oh, and the BWs' second alcohol-free month of 2003 starts today. BW likes a challenge. And it is necessary.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:24 am....  
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:47 am....

...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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