In need of a redesign since 2011.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Found on Flickr 6

116.365, originally uploaded by rebeca :).
My apologies for not updating last night, I wasn't home. I must make a mental note to plan posts in advance, or when I have to leave unexpectedly, I won't have anything to give you!

Previous FOFs:

FOF 2: the photo was sadly deleted, sorry about that.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Back to school

Well, what a week... on Tuesday, I had my first 'proper' job interview. I'd been saying for a few days that I felt really confident about it it, but as I took the 15-minute train journey to Penarth, I got increasingly jittery. The truth is, I had no idea what to expect. My good friend Tony had given me a few tips, told me what questions to ask etc -and I was racking my brain trying to remember them.
I arrived about an hour early, taking punctuality to new and unnecessary levels. Just as well I did, really, as I got lost. I managed to arrive a reasonable ten minutes early, filled out a form, talked to some people, and then was led into a side-room where I would either be murdered or interviewed. As soon as it became apparent that it was the latter, I relaxed, and answered every question confidently and with a smile on my face. They'll let me know in two weeks, and I'm quietly confident. Can you still be 'quietly confident' if you're telling everyone that you think you got it? Let's say yes.
The next day, I went back to university for the first time in almost a year. The second I got talking to a couple of lads outside my class, I knew that this year would be interesting. The one with a ponytail had perfected the sleazy wink that has been used (tragically, quite successfully) on me in the past, and one with ginger dreadlocks and a massive coat seemed like a generally lovely chap. The class itself was more or less what I expected, but I'll be honest, I was more interested in Mat and Ben, for those are their names. They made me laugh, they were friendly, and I ended up spending the day with them.
Mat was handing out CVs in town, and ended up getting an interview while Ben and I talked on the steps outside. It was fascinating to speak to someone with such a different philosophy to myself, who nevertheless seemed very much on my wavelength. I went back to Ben's and watched half of Dark City before I had to go.
Today was a much quieter one, but I'm delighted to say that I have made a personal breakthrough! Ohyes! It's a matter of record that I have never, ever managed to draw a man that doesn't look horribly deformed or like a serial rapist. Often both. But today, I drew this chap:

... and I'm really quite pleased with him.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Not for the faint of heart

So, you think zombies are scary? You know NOTHING.

It's no secret that some children's programmes freak me the hell out - the boohbahs in particular should never ever ever have existed - but, combine them with a zombie apocalypse, and you've really shaken me up.

A fair few of you have said that you have said that you visit this blog directly, without the use of RSS feeds, so for your convenience I'm going to post on a more regular basis. I shall go for Sundays and Thursdays to start with, and we'll see how that goes. I'm likely to post them in the early hours of the following morning, so hopefully I can provide you with a bit of monday-and-friday reading.

Also, I'm going to go through my list of Interesting Things in the left-hand column, and delete the ones that I feel haven't really stood the test of time. Hopefully this will make it better for killing time with.

Love and such,

Anna x x

Saturday, 19 September 2009

NHS, CSS, and other letters as well

Hello everybody!

Right, quick question: do you generally read this blog by:

a) Going to the website,

b) Checking your RSS feed (e.g. Google Reader), or

c) other means?

This matters for two reasons. ONE: If you've all been coming to the website directly all this time, then it's high time I switched to a regular schedule, and TWO: if you HAVEN'T been coming directly, now is the time to do so because I've revamped the CSS and would appreciate feedback.

Look at it shine so prettily.

In other news, a friend of mine asked that I blog about my experiences with the NHS. It can't have escaped your attention that The Powers That Be in America are contemplating reforming their health system. Instead of rebuilding from the ground up, Obama et al have decided to make (necessary and overdue) changes to their existing system. This has spurred hundreds of Twitterers to contribute to the hashtag: "We love the NHS."

There are doubtless hundreds of people better qualified to talk about the NHS than I. However, I suppose if I'm not an average person, who is? So these are my experiences:

When I had hearing problems at age 6, I got grommits, and we didn't have to pay.

When I developed asthma at age 9, they gave me inhalers, and we didn't have to pay.

When I needed stitches - when my periods went haywire - when I had a brush with depression - medical care was always available to me, and I never had to worry about cost. (Not everyone qualifies for free prescriptions, but I always have done.) I take it for granted. It's not until I talk to one of my friends in America and they mention some health trouble - back pain, or a stomach bug, or anything small - that I remember how lucky we have it. Because in most cases my friends are students or young workers, and they can't afford the hundreds of dollars it sometimes costs to get healthcare without insurance.

In the past few weeks I've learned more about how expensive it can be to get insurance in the US, particularly if you've got a preexisting condition. I've learned about the caps they put on their policies (so if your special needs child hits the upper limit, they cancel your insurance).

As luck would have it, I'm talking to someone in the UK right this minute who has bad ear pain. So what's he going to do? Go see the doctor, of course, it's a no-brainer. And he won't be left any poorer for it, whatever the diagnosis is. So, yes. The NHS is far from perfect, but I consider us blessed to have this system.

Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Learning to Read

Tracy BeakerWhen I was a young child, I had a very vivid imagination. This combined with a fairly sharp mind led me to develop an almost obsessive interest in books. I'd like to claim that reading is something I've always loved, but truth be told, it wasn't until I was told that I was very good at it - and taken off the primary school reading books to be let loose in the library at the age of nine - that I discovered how special it really was.

The first one I found in that library was the Story of Tracy Beaker, by Jacqueline Wilson: a book I chose entirely by its cover, and loved entirely for its imperfect, attitude-filled heroine. It took several years and several readings before I saw all the hints at just how biased she was as a narrator.

Young me

Between my newfound love of reading, writing, drawing, and staring out of windows, I viewed other kids as quite an inconvenient necessity - much like the set work our teachers gave us when I had better things to do.

Middle school was worse in a lot of ways. The constant buzz of other people in the background got louder, and it became clear that they didn't all approve of me. Naturally, my response to this was to spend more time alone in the library. I discovered Trillions by Nicholas Fisk when I was eleven or twelve, and that's how sci-fi got me. I read the Chronicles of Narnia (all seven, repeatedly), and that's how fantasy got me. I found that after a while, if you read hard enough, the buzz faded altogether and I could ignore the fact that I didn't really understand how other people worked.

In high school, however, there was no such refuge. The library was where people went to hang out, and even Discworld couldn't distract me from the fact that I needed to learn to interact. It took a couple of years and some very tolerant friends before I understood what 'other people' are at the age of fifteen. Teen me

It finally started to make a kind of sense when I read - I forget which book now, but it echoed my own realisation - that "everybody is 'I'." The baffling buzz of a thousand confusing students became almost comprehensible as the clamour of a thousand voices trying to be heard. And at the age of seventeen, I learned the golden key to unlocking a person, nine times out of ten: smiling, saying hello, and being interested. And that the remaining one time isn't necessarily my fault, and it isn't necessarily theirs.

Am I happier now? Yes, in a lot of ways. If I ever have kids, I'll try to teach them about people before I teach them to read, although both skills must be learned over a lifetime. I miss being completely swallowed by books, it doesn't happen nearly as much these days; and I still misread people a lot of the time - but I still stare out of windows and daydream. So that's alright.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

O hai!

Hello, hello! It's been over two months since I last updated my blog. That's a very odd feeling, you know. This blog is my baby, but I wasn't doing you lot justice by saying "I'll update properly later" every week or so.

Y'see, I do care what you think. Every new reader makes me smile, and every comment gives me something to think about. But even apart from that, I'd keep this just for me. You know I would! Just like I did four years ago when I began, and nobody read it but me and an American radio presenter called Les. (I liked Les. I wonder how he is now?)

It makes to begin this post, as I have done with so many others, with a recap of what I've been up to lately. Just over a month ago I went home to the Isle of Wight, my beautiful island that I'd been missing so much. It was exactly what I needed. Some valuable family time, including a family reunion with my gorgeous, newest cousin Josie. Doesn't seem like that long ago I was celebrating her birth (I know for a fact I wrote a post in honour of her arrival, but I can't seem to find it now), and now she looks like this!



So, yes, there was an element of "My Haven't You Grown" happening in my head. At least now, I know that when friends of the family said that to me, they were secretly thinking "Good Lord I'm old."

I was equally delighted to spend a fair bit of time catching up with old friends. We went bowling, hung out on a beach in the rain, went to the cinema - all the usual stuff we used to do back when we were 17-19! I'd particularly like to thank Lucy, on the off-chance that she reads this, for being my rock when I go a little bit crazy. She's like a big sister to me.

Oh, speaking of big sisters, my biggest (in spirit) sis just got engaged! I couldn't be more delighted for her. Very exciting times!

After that little refresher course in Reasons My Family Drive Me Crazy (But I Love 'Em), I went to Southampton and the cruise began... it was a Cunard cruise, which essentially meant that I was outclassed by everyone and everything right down to the tablecloths, but that I got treated like royalty. Here follow some pictures of what I got up to:

The pool at night

Pool at night

The stateroom

A welcoming sight

Danger in Italy


One sunset


Ape on Gibraltar

Ape posing 1

All dressed up

Straight hair!



I'm back in Cardiff now, getting on with all the stuff that needs getting on with when you've been away for a month. And looking for a job. There's just no avoiding it any more, finances won't allow me to stick my head in the sand, so I need to get out there and do an honest day's work like everyone else! So you can look forward to lots of complaining about a) not having a job or b) how my job sucks. Those appear to be my only options. Bummer. I'm also trying very very hard not to bite my nails, but you know the saying - old habits die hard. And this is the Bruce Willis of old habits.

And, just to leave you with some Interesting Things, I've had two songs stuck in my head lately - Coin-Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls:

and Surfin' Bird, which goes like this (yes, I curse Family Guy every time I get it playing on the mental gramophone.)