I’m taking the train today, too, on the first day of fare hikes

As though public transport isn’t already too expensive and inconvenient, rail fares are going up — above inflation. The Tories say it’s about forcing people off the train because planned improvements haven’t happened (I don’t know whether or not that’s true).

Train companies say the extra money is to pay for service improvements.

We do have a car now (and it’s already at the mechanic’s; nothing serious, just taking longer than needed because of the holidays), but we wouldn’t if the public transport system was better. It’s also already very expensive, and it doesn’t make sense to me that in this day and age they haven’t rolled out ticketing and fare collection systems like those in Singapore and Hong Kong (lack of political will?). In short, I don’t think there will be meaningful service improvements.

PS. First Scotrail doesn’t say if this country is affected, so I’ll see when I get on the train this evening.

As the year draws to a close, I’d like to say that this year I…

  • really learned how to eat (some) spicy food
  • visited a bunch of Shaolin temples in Fujian
  • moved countries TWICE
  • got a new laptop after five years with my old one — almost a record, I like to think
  • ended my relationship with a magazine I slogged to launch and run
  • learned to use our old sewing machine again
  • made my first sock monkey (and second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth)
  • crocheted a shitload of stuff
  • continued to suffer from chronic re-designitis
  • became an employed writer and professional blooger (not this site, of course)
  • was part of a Western-style family Christmas for the first time

Wow. Doesn’t look like very much when it’s written down.

Winter layout — the broken snowman

Here’s an experimental theme. I thought I wrote perhaps too much nonsense (but I can’t help myself), so I’m trying out this “one category’s posts in main area, the rest of the posts in the sidebar” idea for the index page. Everyone may not like this format, but I think it suits me for now. The layout is pretty much the same… except for the bottom. The bottom bit’s different.

Since I’m not an artist by any definition, that upset snowman is about the best you’ll get from me in terms of illustration, especially since my graphics tablet is still packed away in a box. I’m still waiting for full-on snow, so I can actually make a real snowman. Although I’ve been instructed to make it in the back garden in case the neighbours think Neil’s mum has gone completely potty. I have no idea what the fuss is about.

Um, I also refreshed Twisted Sockster a little as part of this general re-design. And that’s it.

We won, so go away

I’m actually quite mad to read that a Catholic bishop has rejected a request by Spain’s Islamic Board to allow Muslims to pray in the Cordoba cathedral. Sure, there are extremists, but they come from ALL faiths. A place of worship is a place of worship, I don’t think the Islamic Board is asking that Muslims put out a call to prayer during Mass or anything. A lot of people go into churches and places like that to think and maybe do a little navel-gazing — I think quiet contemplation is quiet contemplation, and spirituality shouldn’t discriminate based on professed religion.

It would be very galling if I went into a temple or mosque and wasn’t allowed to sit and be alone with my thoughts because I wasn’t a member of that faith.

They’ll probably also bring up ‘security’ concerns as a reason.

Organised religion is stupid. It divides.

Sage like a herb

Just you try it and watch me run away like a scared little girl: “This guy was like Tony Robbins for drunk guys trying to hook up.” — Johnny Triangles (via Gawker)

Is you is or is you ain’t my motor

Green PeugeotThis is not the car. It kinda looks like the car, though. So it shall be a reasonable representation of the car and I shall refer to it as the car for the purposes of the website.

When Neil told me he’d found a bright green Peugeot for sale, the first thing I asked was how bright it was. I do not want to be driving around in a French version of the QQ (“young, peppy and cool”).

My favourite thing about the car is that there’s nothing worth stealing. It runs, seems fairly efficient, and even people who don’t freakin’ drive are going to have better car stereos than we do (think fully analogue, dials, and a loose faceplate that rattles and annoys the living shit out of me).

I’m still thinking of a suitably tough name for my green mini-monster. Something along the lines of The Destroyer. 1124ccs of Pure Fury has already been floated a number of times, but it’s quite a mouthful when introducing the car to your friends. Mad Max? Conan the Barbarian? Gabrielle the sidekick? Hercules? Steroid Steve? Roid Rage?