It’s not every day you get a chance to call back to a blog post from a decade ago, and this is the last day like it for a while, so...

Read More · 12 December 2012

Whenever I get an email from 38 Degrees I inevitably think of 43 Folders. They should combine forces. 38 Degrees of Folders: the angle at which an avalanche of paperwork happens.

25 October 2012


Uh-oh. I have one hour to write 160 words, or I fall off the yellow brick road at Beeminder. Which, given that I’ve adjusted my 100,000-word target down to 66,666 (without actually mentioning it here; I’ve been planning to nudge it up again at some point), would be a pretty feeble performance. So I’d better write something.

Read More · 11 September 2012

On Melbn

Elsewhere on the web, people have been arguing about whether pronouncing “Melbourne” as MEL-BORN in Melbourne is rude, or whether thinking as much is chippy. That’s Melbourne, Victoria, not Melbourne, Florida, which makes all the difference, because the former is MEL-bn and the latter isn’t.

Read More · 15 August 2012 · x2

Began another Twitter diversion today: #globalwarmingfilms.

Read More · 25 May 2012 · x2

While I’m buried in marking and moderating and things are relatively quiet here, I thought I’d put up a page I’ve kept under wraps for a while. One of my areas of limerick writing (which itself has been pretty quiet lately) is a series of brief biographies of fine artists. When I was writing most of them in 2006 I intended to do enough to cover a representative sample, from Ansel Adams to Zurburán, and collect them into a small book aimed at museum and gallery shops, with each limerick and biographical note facing a page showing one of the artist’s key works. In early 2007 I approached some publishers with a book proposal along those lines called There Was an Old Artist from Ghent, and hit the usual wall of indifference facing any author of light verse.

Because of these plans I kept the limericks in question out of my own pages, although they were all at the OEDILF as usual. Five years later I have to admit that the idea isn’t going anywhere soon, so rather than leave them on the hard drive or bury them in other pages I thought I’d put them on display here.

There was an old artist from Ghent
Who loved painting wherever he went.
His colours were fine
And his subjects divine—
Once you knew what the devil they meant.

23 May 2012

No wonder the UK economy is sinking fast. The Governor of the Bank of England has sent me a Personal Email announcing that there’s only twenty million left and nobody’s even claiming it.

Read More · 23 May 2012

Tweet Nothings, Part X

I’m not sure if this is still worth doing now that third parties fill the gap, but here’s another batch of Twitter archives (see previously). I only started archiving them because I didn’t trust that Twitter would last, and maybe in the long run that’s still true. I’ve been using it mainly as a links blog anyway, and have posted many of those links here this year, but not everything has made it across. I couldn’t be bothered checking for link duplication below, but have omitted a few course-related tweets and some featured in earlier posts. Either way, there’s bound to be a link or retweet here worth a look.

Read More · 28 April 2012

Twitter Serendipity

Onion vs Murdoch

16 April 2012

Just started a new game on Twitter: #appstorefilms.

Read More · 30 March 2012


I wandered past some daffodils
One sunny afternoon,
A pleasant sight that always thrills
A chap who’s prone to swoon.

They danced and fluttered in the breeze
Like golden hummingbirds,
A host of flowers bound to please
All fans of florid words.

I photographed their laughing forms
In macro, in a crouch,
And now a glimpse of sunlight warms
My cockles on the couch.

Of all the blooms, the daffodil
Is one that I have heard’s worth
Pondering at length, until
One gets one’s eighty words’ worth.

27 March 2012

I Will Cut You

Nagging conundrum of the week was courtesy of a knife manufacturer who confounded all expectations by replacing two kitchen knives with cracked handles that J. had sent them under warranty on the off-chance. They recommended not putting their knives in the dishwasher in future, as (to paraphrase, because we’ve thrown out the letter) “although our knives are dishwasher-safe, they are not dishwasher-proof”.

I’ve spent days wondering what the difference could possibly be. If they’re safe from the dishwasher, surely that means they’re dishwasher-proof? Aren’t the terms synonymous?

But I think I’ve solved it: by “dishwasher-safe”, they must mean that the dishwasher is safe from the knives.

These knives will not cut your dishwasher; they are gentle, dishwasher-safe knives. But your dishwasher, in a cruel role-reversal, could well scald them to death.

17 March 2012

They Can’t All Be Gems

I shouldn’t have blown all those links in one post last night, should I. Now it’s late, there’s a blog entry to do, and I’d rather go and watch telly. Here is a photograph of some moss.

Some moss.

15 March 2012

Delayed Gratification

The Holga D [via Mefi] isn’t a real product, but even as a concept there’s something irksome about it. Oh, here it is—how it supposedly “brings back the joy and delayed gratification associated with good old analog photography”:

In the age of digital photography many photographers agree that the anticipation and delayed gratification of analog photography made the overall experience of photography even sweeter!

Do they, just. I remember the excitement of getting my photos back from the developers, but I don’t attribute that to some romantic idea of delayed gratification: I attribute it to getting my photos back. When that process went from taking weeks to seconds, I was still just as excited; actually, no, I was much more excited. Now I take it for granted, but haven’t forgotten what a pain that “delayed gratification” really was.

Read More · 9 March 2012

No Future

Western Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has attached some awe-inspiring lines of self-penned verse to a 30-ton iron ore boulder [via Mefi], which is a waste of a perfectly good boulder, not to mention 171 perfectly good words. I don’t know who’s cringing more, the Australian in me or the occasional poet. If the world hadn’t noticed Rinehart and her staggering wealth before now, it will surely notice her staggering way with rhyme.

This demands a riposte from an Australian with an empire with an estimated value of A$0.0001 billion.

Read More · 17 February 2012 · x1

Of Cabbages and Kings

Can cabbages really converse?
So it seems, though their blabber is terse:
They confer using gas,
Warning others, “Alas!
Things look bad, and about to get worse.”

The irony is that, once beaten,
And shredded, steamed, buttered and eaten,
Their gases again
Serve as warning—to men.
“He ate cabbage: consider retreatin’.”

8 February 2012

You know those stories of great scientists who wake up in the middle of the night with a dream image in their heads that provides the answer to a problem they’ve been working on? Like that chemist who dreamt of Ouroboros and came up with the structure of benzene?

I woke up in the middle of the night with two words burnt into my brain, convinced at that moment that they were incredibly significant:

Cat flip-flops.

Read More · 21 January 2012 · x1

Behind the Musk

My Australian sister-in-law is visiting with her German boyfriend, and the conversation turned, as it does, to the subject of Aussie food that you can’t get in Europe. Exhibit A: musk sticks. I’d forgotten all about these, but they’re a key component of bags of mixed lollies in Oz. You can get them in the UK, too, provided you’re prepared to pay £3.75 for a measly 200g bag of Black & Gold ones. But the Internet always provides: turns out you can make your own, as long as you can find some musk oil. So, all you have to do is boil down a passing musk ox, and you’re in the pink.

7 January 2012

Whatever in 2011