Category Archives: Abridged blog

The early bird catches the lark

I’ve been giving Twitter a workout lately.

Although I’ve had an account since early 2013, the microblogging bug never really bit. The nomenclature alone kind of makes my skin crawl. I could appreciate its utility, and even consider the character limit to be a worthwhile challenge, but ‘following’ always gave me pause. I already follow people in the sense that if I like a blog, I’ll bookmark and revisit when the mood strikes. The Twitter way is to eyeball the ever-scrolling feed of tweets of your chosen ones. Surely when you amass a certain number of followees, this becomes not much more convenient as a filter (if a filter you seek) than googling randomly. It only really seemed to make sense for mass movements of people; following trends. I’m not so interested in that.

Anyway, about a month ago I tweeted thus:


The implementation was clumsy as I hadn’t yet figured out how to slide text onto a curve using Sketch, which is my chosen canvas since Photoshop ascended into the Creative Cloud. (Can’t say you’re Sketching, people would just get confused. And the clumsiness would remain. When it comes to image manipulation, I’m what you call an enthusiastic amateur.) But it was an enjoyable exercise, so the next day I dipped into the past again, simply doing a search of July 10 and throwing a few events in this time.

The first history tweet I actually felt æsthetically pleased with came on the 12th when I got to do a group portrait of the Stones with Caesar. Next Nixon made his debut – he’s very photogenic. The 14th was another multi-event, which was becoming the new standard even if the illustration was quite basic. On the 16th I got more ambitious; at this point I was hooked.

I don’t think anybody actually follows my Days except Twitterbots, but that’s not why I post them (else I’d widen my library of pop culture references). They wake up my brain. The only downside is that ambition is an insomniac’s dream; they take too long, eating into time when my brain should really be asleep. Today’s, for example


was accomplished in the peak REM hours early the morning of August 10th.

According to Wikipedia, which is good enough for me (as are some of the ‘Today in history’ sites, though I’m aware they’re not always strong on fact-checking), on this day word of the Declaration of Independence reached London. Also, “In 1793 The Musée du Louvre officially opened… In 1990 the Magellan space probe reached Venus… In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships set sail from Seville to circumnavigate the globe… And in 2003 came the highest temperature ever recorded in the United Kingdom – 101.3 °F in Kent. It is the first time the United Kingdom has recorded a temperature over 100 °F.”

The temperature thing was a surprising fact, but I didn’t have room for it, so never mind that. Everything else got slotted in like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, which is surely one of the handier metaphors.

This one was particularly irksome as my grey matter kept getting impacted with ideas [mental note: Breaking Bad. Ignore.] The character limit had forced me into ‘Dec’ of Independence, so in came Dec, Ant’s buddy. The lightning bolt was a flashbulb moment which naturally needed to be incorporated. As for the louvres, homophones stopped by the other day, and I grab continuity where I can find it, so… you get the idea. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
tiltingclock30I had to find a useable globe stand, as cleaning stuff up is a chore I can do without; my kingdom for a .png or .gif with a transparent background!

Almost all of the history images are scooped up without apology in image searches, though I try not to use other people’s personal photography [see apologia]. Been to the Louvre, so that one’s mine.

Images are only half the fun. The rest comes with snapping the various elements together, where possible, and writing captions. Words and pictures, pictures and words: that’s my life.

Perhaps I should thank Twitter for limiting me to 140 characters. Make that 117 – or 99 with intro. I am constantly reminded of the importance of 23, which is the number of characters a picture(s) is worth in this brave new world.


I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this up.* There’s the only-so-many-hours-in-the-night thing, which can be addressed by lowering the benchmark or redefining the mission. Over time it will become progressively more difficult for me anyway as history runs out. Ideally I will pass this sacred duty to the next generation, whose job it has always been to make new history.

* 3 months as it turns out. Now I just do them whenever the mood strikes.

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Green tongue

When V delicious came to Olympia, the gods decreed it a greens zone suitable for foraging.

The chatty confessions started almost immediately: “My name is Karen and I’m not a vegetarian. But I heard there was free food…”

No, food.

Sausages! That’s more like it. So, what’s the secret ingredient?

The secret ingredient is love? How sweet. Love and methyl cellulose.

The toothpicks were edible, too. And hygenic.

The helmet was for diving head first into the crowds.

Buskers were allowed as long as they were organic.

Workshops were available on how to make money from stretching.

There was brisk business from those who couldn’t afford myrrh.

Passive exercising is a real growth industry.

Admitting gluten intolerance proved joyfully cathartic for some, shaming for others.

Taking orders for personal hovercraft.

Research shows you can eat more in bed if you have a lap.

They have healing powers, but as a side effect they make you feel old.

What the vegan police wear when they walk their beat.

The Corrupt Sweet Potato, the stall across the way, was proving a bigger draw.

It was tacitly understood the judges could be swayed by a little extra frosting.

Too many burnt tongues.

Massage was available to those who could prove need.

VIPs got allotments.

More popular than the lima variety.

It’s not easy being green, as this once bountiful salad shriveled by an omnivorous public’s hostility shows.

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Year of the gored ox

The following has been crossposted as a public service to Generation Y, to help them more fully appreciate the decade which preceded their zygotehood.

Ah, 1973.
Richard Nixon is inaugurated for his second term.
The Paris Peace Accords are signed.
Ohio becomes the first US state to post distance in metric on signs. (How’s that going, Ohio?)

Pink Floyd, not satisfied that they have exhausted their creative potential with Bike, releases The Dark Side of the Moon.
The Godfather wins the best picture Oscar.

Picasso dies.
Pioneer 10 sends back the first close-up images of Jupiter.
Former White House aide Alexander Butterfield spills the beans about the president’s greatest hits collection on tape. As Watergate starts simmering, Nixon tells a pack of Associated Press editors “I am not a crook.”
O.J. Simpson becomes the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a pro football season; he will offer a similar plea some years later.

Elvis Presley’s concert Aloha From Hawaii is watched by more people via telecast than tuned into the moon landings. He wears the same suit that Buzz Aldrin wore.
Elizabeth II opens London Bridge III.
IDEAL Toys debuts the Evel Knievel stunt-cycle, a best seller.

Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes.
Wyoming (official nickname: ‘The Equality State’; unofficial nickname: ‘The most perfectly rectangular state after Colorado’) becomes the first state of the union of the year to ratify the ultimately unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment.
Papua New Guinea gives Australia the finger.

thefinger it’s on their flag

OPEC doubles the price of crude oil.
The Supremes decide in Roe v. Wade that privacy extends to the womb until the little blighter is feeling viable.
The Young and the Restless debuts on CBS. In Belgium Les Feux de l’Amour runs 3 years behind, so no spoilers please.
The existence of a 18½-minute gap is revealed in The Dark Side of the Moon.
The Soviet Mars 5 space probe is launched; discovers life on Mars.
The DEA is founded.

Tiny Tim goes a-wandering to a bike shop.

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Getting to Grips with Punctuation and Grammar
Faux pas no more. Apostrophes, hyphens, nouns, things that are subjunctive – it’s all here. Make yourself understood just as well as the greats of literature. Learn to recognise when spelling counts and when it doesn’t (more often than you might think!). Discover helpful mnemonic tricks for difficult-to-remember words for when it’s better to be safe than sorry. Particularly useful is a section on Googling for common usages, and grammar by consensus. There’s even a chapter on split infinitives hilariously interrupted by a digression into adverbial syntactic functions. Ends much too soon.

more book reviews

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TWES 18 years ago today


528 years ago King Henry VII of England was crowned. He had just one wife, the rather well connected Elizabeth of York. Oct 30 was also auspicious for Helena of Montana in 1864; John Logie Baird, who created Britain’s first television transmitter in 1925; Orson Welles, known for having no wine before its time and for broadcasting the Martian invasion in 1938


and birthday girl/actor Juliet Stevenson, who I first saw weeping copiously in Truly, Madly, Deeply.

In 1995 my wife and I arrived in England thanks to her Training and Work Experience visa [TWES], good for a year. It was extended for another. We managed to parlay that into a more useful piece of paper.

Apparently this weekend we’re celebrating by buying a new refrigerator.


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Dirty Qwerty



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