South Park Self

always take the weather with you

I think I'm getting better at this, possibly because therapy. The student can tell me about her depression and anxiety as a result of her mother committing suicide at the end of last year, and I can be sympathetic and practical and hold off dissolving into tears about it until the poor child has actually left my office. The other student earlier this morning was about her brain-damaged mother and death of two brothers, and I also managed to not actually cry even though she was. Empathy makes me, in general, pretty good at this job, but it's a bugger.

There was a Teaching & Learning conference on campus yesterday, around which I wandered for most of the day, attending sessions which looked randomly interesting. It was all a bit surreal as I had approximately 3 hours of sleep on Sunday night, owing to (a) the inexplicable and unprovoked insomnia which prevented me from actually being able to get to sleep until 2am, and (b) the cat incursions at 5am which woke me rudely up from an already slightly fitful slumber. (Wake up to characteristic "thump thump thump ... THUMP" which means the drug hedgehog is being tossed around and killed inventively, with acrobatics. Listen for several minutes, thinking, damn, Hobbit, must you truly discover your inner kitten in the middle of the bloody night? Gradually realise that, in fact, Hobbit is sprawled along my shin, and has been since I woke up, which means the bloody neighbourhood tom has broken into the house in order to play with Hobbit's toys, which is frankly just rude. Particularly since he clearly ran off with it when I erupted out of bed to chase him away, I found the wretched thing in the back courtyard this morning and was impressed, despite myself, by the fact that he somehow managed to elevate himself through the bathroom window with the toy in his mouth without dropping it. I shall have to lock up the toys as well as the food when I go to bed).

At any rate, being sozzled on sleep deprivation is not a bad way to enjoy a conference of this nature, the subject doesn't call for dense theory so I could follow the good presentations and it was pleasingly easy to switch off for the bad ones. (I took my Ipad along, and whiled away the bad presentations reading porn. Fanfic is dashed useful as it looks like bland text on the page if anyone sneaks up behind you and looks over your shoulder.) I think the lack of mental energy was also good for subduing the angst levels, which tend to elevate somewhat in the presence of all these amazing, engaged, reflective teachers who are paid to do it properly and have time to theorise it instead of having to tack small remnants onto the back end of the admin job. Sigh.

My car music system has finished up the Belle & Sebastian and is merrily engaged with Crowded House, who have the inevitable side effect of making me sing along to about two-thirds of the tracks. Also, to regress mentally to my Masters years, when I shared the digs with Michelle and Dylan and the former addicted me to Crowdies. Still a slut for catchy. Also, music is absolutely and inescapably about memory and association. As stv would say, context!
South Park Self

Another sunny day, I met you up in the garden

Oh, dear. In pursuit of watering the burgeoning and increasingly verdant collection of pots in my back courtyard, I seem to have accidentally watered the Hobbit. He is slinking about the house at half his usual volume and twice his usual density, looking matted and hedgehog-spiky and somewhat cowed. I would be feeling more guilty except he's amusing like this :>.

In the Department of Random Ongoing Fangirling: so it turns out that if you slow the Sherlock theme down it sounds like something from a Tim Burton soundtrack.

I am obscurely charmed by this. Particularly since it beautifully accompanies fanart such as, for example, that by La-Chapeliere-Folle on deviantart, which won't let me link to the image, phooey. The Sherlock/Burton crossover appears to be inevitable. I blame Sherlock's silhouette.

Random fanfic rec! surprisingly, not Sherlock. This is an exceptionally beautifully-written slow-burn Harry/Draco fic which does my favourite thing in Potterfic, which is to explore the manifest iniquities and logical flaws inherent in Rowling's Slytherin/Gryffindor stereotyping. She really doesn't do nuance or sophistication or real human impulse in her moralities. Fortunately many fanfic writers absolutely do. This one is set mostly in pub arguments and is amusing as well as true.

The subject line is because it's a beautiful sunny day and my car sound system is onto The Life Pursuit, the Belle & Sebastian album voted most likely to make me randomly happy. It's all catchy, boppy, whimsical tunes, and I am a slut for catchy.
South Park Self

tell me what the specials are today, I'm feeling special

I am Randomly Amused this morning.

  1. My lovely new car is a lovesome thing, god wot, but it has a rather cheap and nasty sound system. As a result, I can't persuade it to play music off my MP3 player in any format other than through individual tracks in one ginormous string. This means that when it randomly resets, as it does occasionally if I don't switch the car off in exactly the right order, it starts at the top and works down, playing my musical collection in strict alphabetical order by (a) artist and (b) album title. The last time it did this I thought, right, clearly the Cosmic Wossnames are trying to tell me something, let's just let it. In the last week it has thus played through Arcade Fire and Bed on Bricks in short order and is currently in the middle of the more than elegant sufficiency of Belle & Sebastian which characterises my music collection. I am thoroughly enjoying the resulting slight whiplash, as well as the chance to rediscover odd corners of my musical taste I'd forgotten about.

    The Rules dictate that I don't skip tracks or otherwise disturb the order, other than the obligatory repeat of "Crown of Love" and "Wake Up", because I'm physically incapable of listening to either track just once. (Other than that I have decided, on mature reflection, that "The Suburbs" is probably my favourite Arcade Fire album, possibly because "Wasted Hours".) I'd forgotten how much fun Bed on Bricks are - they're a local outfit of some maturity and skill, not to mention considerable iconoclastic whimsy ("large Nigerian..."), whose overall style is eclectic but sounds at times like Chilli Peppers circa "Californication". And, for no adequately defined reason I haven't actually listened to any Belle & Sebastian for months. They tend to land me on campus in the morning obscurely soothed regardless of how many actual BMWs have cut me off in traffic. Possibly it's the Scottish accents.

  2. I think I posted the gifset of the cute wol bathing in a previous post, probably accompanied by the horrible moist owlet pun with which it was doing the rounds. Someone in my Tumblr feed unearthed the YouTube video which spawned it, which features not only the full bath experience (bathing birds are ridiculously cute, I love the air of ferocious concentration), but the bit where someone dries the bedraggled wol with a hair dryer. This makes me obscurely happy because I have rather lovely memories of my dad doing the same to his peregrines, when they'd been sitting on their block in the garden during a highveld thunderstorm. They do the same thing the wol does, spreading their wings to dry under them. I do like birds.

  3. Obligatory BC content: the Sherlock fandom is currently all up in arms because Benedict Cumberbatch, in an interview, was somewhat patronisingly dismissive of fanfic. (Not that this is anything new, he's characteristically a bit tone-deaf to fanfic issues and tends to make pronouncements which are clearly based on extremely sketchy knowledge; I suppose the fandom will eventually stop having small volcanic eruptions about it on the grounds that exhausting). What's tickling me no end, though, is the beautifully in-character fan responses: the current meme is to pick up on the rather outrageous interviewer phrasing of fanfiction as something which turns Sherlock into "a lustful cock monster". Current games: strategically place "lustful cock monster" into Sherlock dialogue on the "in bed" principle. (On John's forehead in the drunken Rizla game scene. Replacing SHERLOCK in the opening credits. "William Sherlock Lustful Cock Monster Holmes. If you’re looking for baby names.") Design new and ever more pink and sparkly t-shirts, icons and banners declaring "LUSTFUL COCK MONSTER" in defiant capitals and sprinkle them across the internet. Summarise the fic elements he mentions in the article and write actual fanfic to match, claiming that you're allowed because Benedict did. Etc, etc, etc.

    I love this. Apart from the fact that it's given me the giggles all morning (particularly since I teach a Sherlock seminar on Wednesday afternoons and have spent most of the morning making screencaps and constructing a Powerpoint on "His Last Vow" in between internet noodling), this is the essence of fan production. Take an element in the canon text which is clearly not addressed to you (and this is almost always a female "you") and which is ignorant of your actual desires and interests. Appropriate the hell out of it. Comprehensively reject the version of you it enshrines. Recontextualise, reshape and reimagine it in ways which do authentically reflect you, and which incidentally comment somewhat trenchantly on the limitations of the original text. Share and enjoy.

    I keep saying it: fanfic is a political act. The fact that it's enjoyable is almost incidental.
South Park Self

a hand-me-down dress from who knows where

Home update: still happy, drifting vaguely around the house chatting to the cat and luxuriating in my very own space. It's slowly filling up with furniture to a rather pleasing extent. The nature of my impecunious grad-student existence for the first six or seven years of my residence Chez Evil Landlord meant that almost all of the large furniture purchases were his. Fortunately I have lovely friends with extraneous furniture, an amazing mother, and had managed to save a bit. I still only have one sofa in the living room, rendering it a little difficult to entertain anything other than one other person sitting side by side and staring straight ahead, but my nice new armchairs arrive tomorrow. I also scored a Welsh dresser, at least in principle and potentia, courtesy of said amazing mother, who stood me the price of it as a birthday present. I have acquired a rather friendly little specimen of same, filling the slightly limited space very neatly and just containing my cookbook collection. Viz.:

Photo0102 Photo0107

Also visible in the right-hand picture: dining room table, courtesy Claire; chairs courtesy jo&stv and reupholstered by mother; living room carpet courtesy Viola. (Tapestry also done by mother lo these many years ago, a favourite thing of mine). Visible in distance: front door, designated as "friendly" by someone visiting, I forget who. I concur. Still to arrive: armchairs, see above; tv stand, jo is making me one; bookcase for study (because several acres of bookcase are clearly insufficient); side tables for living room (we're going flea marketing this weekend). Bedroom curtain in process of construction. Comfort levels definitely in excess of acceptable.

I include for posterity and because of the Law of the Internet, a random Hobbit picture in a fetching pose. I like the crossed feet. Earthbound entrechat. Appropriately enough.


Life generally good, except that I'm being driven slowly demented by the latest post-viral afflication, which appears to be hallucinatory cigarette smoke. I can smell smoke. Almost continually. Regardless of where I am, but including closed rooms with no actual smoke in them, and spaces in which no other person can smell a thing. Apparently it's a fairly recognised post-viral symptom and is also associated with damaged sinuses, both of which apply rather too aptly, but it's surprisingly annoying.

I should also report that my copy of Parade's End arrived, and I'm several chapters in and to my barely-concealed horror am enjoying it really rather a lot, Modernism notwithstanding. I am confident that the aliens who have abducted me and replaced me with a slightly malfunctioning replica will restore the original any day now. I hope she likes her furniture. The cat won't notice.

(Subject line is Velvet Underground, "All Tomorrow's Parties", doubly relevant because now that I nearly have furniture I absolutely have to organise an actual housewarming.)
South Park Self

we must unite inside her walls or we'll crumble from within

That brief radio interview I did about fanfic a while back? The interviewer wanted some examples of good fanfic, because he didn't believe me when I said some fanfic was better than the original text. I never got around to sending him any recs, being as how I was somewhat depressed at the time, but this is one of the recs I should have sent him: dirgewithoutmusic's "We must unite inside her walls or we'll crumble from within" series. Harry Potter; meditations on some of the more marginal female characters and their House characteristics: a remedial, redemptive and deeply political project of enormous insight and sophistication. Beautifully written. The Andromeda one has just made me cry, although to be fair most of the rest of them did, too. If Rowling thought about her characters like this HP would be a great and profound work of literature instead of merely an enjoyable, apposite and popular one.
South Park Self


parades end landscape

So, Parade's End! In utter defiance of my usual desperate fidelity to nothing but the fluffiest of genre tv, I am suddenly and inexplicably hooked on quality BBC renditions of period Modernist novels, with extra side helpings of war, tragedy and emotional distress. I dunno. Apparently I actually have the mental energy, which is probably not unrelated to my recent post on being (weird, go figure) un-depressed and even happy. Which, I am happy to say, is still the case.

My sudden interest in Parade's End is not just fangirling, although the link is Benedict Cumberbatch and I ended up watching it via the fan process - my Tumblr feed is still all about Sherlock, and if fan activity does anything, it introduces you not just to the investment of articulate fans in the central text, but in all the other texts they love, too. There's apparently only so much exposure to beautiful English countryside and Edwardian costume in lovingly-captured Tumblr gifs I can take before I have to damned well see the series.

And wow, is it beautiful. The production has a sort of glow about it, it's exquisitely conceived and shot, with an almost heightened reality to the period detail. That gives, I think, a slight sense of detachment from all of the mental cruelty and horrors of war with which the story is concerned - they are tragic and horrifying without actually being visceral, which is possibly also why I'm managing to enjoy it. But the visual spectacle is really only a context for the characters, from whom one doesn't detach at all. Wow, I invest in these people. All so interestingly flawed, groping unavailingly towards abstract ideals, so utterly shaped and entrapped by their social contexts, structures, expectations, morals. Their own desires so suppressed. Vivid, real, sad people, caught in a terrible sort of inevitability - not just war, although that flings it all into relief, but the shape of their everyday lives. The series is amazing, but now I really want to read the book.

And, let me tell you, it's deeply weird to find myself suddenly impelled to read the book, because my loathing for the Modernists is a pure and burning thing, and Ford Madox Ford is a maddened Modernist with all the bells and whistles. They've always struck me as arrogant sods with this whole thing of My Consciousness, Let Me Show You It. Generally, as a self-respecting genre theorist I have no damned interest at all in someone's naked consciousness, unfiltered by respectable genre functions or narrative conventions. A lot of this distaste is irrational and probably exists because I was badly savaged, in my impressionable undergrad, by a rampaging James Joyce - I never even tried Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist did for me all on its own in first-year English. At the time my high levels of nascent feminism and innate girly swot caused me independently to make valiant but unavailing attempts to read Virginia Woolf on the grounds that the Girl version of Modernism may be more palatable than the Boy, but oh lord. (Except Orlando. I love Orlando, it's a romp, albeit an angry romp, and it appeals to those bits of me that are into androgyny and shifted gender boundaries, which I am coming to the conclusion are rather a lot more of me than I'd realised).

But a sneaking sympathy has clearly crept up on me, because the Modernist framing of Ford's writing obviously influences the way the series is made, and I utterly adore the way the series is made. Apart from its deeply internal positioning and fascination with psychology, it's all allusion and implication, fragmented narrative, half-told stories, time-jumps, unexplained free associations - it makes you work, it doesn't explain, you have to construct it as you watch. I'm currently re-watching because I feel that I missed so much the first time round, and it's an immeasurably rich pleasure on a second viewing, when you can feel the operation of each instant in the arc of the whole. This is intelligent television based on an intelligent book, and thus, by gum, I'll prove myself intelligent by surviving Ford Madox Ford, or perish in the attempt.

I should also possibly record for posterity that, apart from an uncharacteristic inclination to give Modernism a second chance, watching Parade's End’s upper class Edwardianism, in which people perfectly unironically say things like “Ripping!” and “old boy”, has had the weird and possibly inevitable side-effect of mutating my already slightly indefinably pseudo-British accent inexorably towards ever more cut-glass Full English enunciation. (Like a Full English breakfast, only less hardening to the arteries). Especially, for some reason, when giving curriculum advice. I can't work out if the bell-like clarity is desirable or pretentious as hell, but given that my next Cunning Plan is to break out the BBC Bleak House I haven't got around to watching yet, the linguistic shenanigans are almost certainly going to amplify rather than receding. But it's my favourite Dickens, and Gillian Anderson doing Lady Deadlock is an act of inspired and genius casting such as the world has never seen, and apparently I now have the mental fortitude, so my immediate environment can just deal with the Britishness. So there.
South Park Self

hobbitation, hobbitonium, hobbiton, hobytla, hobbitual, hobbyah cat


Hobbit is not really a cat of enormous brain, but he appears to subscribe fully to that curious cat-telepathy which allows him both to sense and to thwart opposable thumb thing persons' evil plots to, for example, stuff him unceremoniously into a cat-box and haul him off to the vet for the annual check-up, shots and admiration session. (My lovely gnomelike vet is more of a dog than a cat person, but he is part of the considerable and ever-increasing fan-club dedicated to Hobbit's general state of floof.)

Hobbit has distinguished himself by being utterly underfoot since I moved house, the summary relocation having rendered him clingy, overly affectionate and continually demanding of attention. This state of affairs remained firmly in place until Friday afternoon, approximately ninety seconds before the moment at which I planned to grab him, stuff him unceremoniously into a cat-box & etc. At this precise time, having been until then peacefully curled up on top of the piano, and despite me not having moved in any way indicative of imminent cat-grabbage, he jumped down and sauntered off into the back courtyard. I didn't actually register his absence, being engrossed in a particularly tricky Dragon Age battle, until he leaped madly off the wall into the empty vegetable-box, knocked it over with an enormous clatter and thump, gave himself a hell of a fright, and rocketed back through the house at mach speeds with his back arched and his fur up in a sort of bristly explosion in all directions. He levitated out through the open front window and, by the time I'd opened the front door to look for him, had vanished utterly into the convenient pocket universe occupied by embarrassed cats.

I didn't see him for three hours, during which I wandered up and down the road calling seductively to no avail, eventually giving up and phoning the vet somewhat shamefacedly to cancel the appointment on the grounds that the object of the exercise had done the magic vanishing trick. (I'm more used to this from Golux, who is a pro of note and has to be crept up on via a concerted campaign of leaving the catbox in the living room for a minimum of three days while resolutely thinking of something else entirely). The nice vet reception lady is, of course, utterly inured to the magic vanishing trick and only laughed at me a little bit. Hobbit is as yet unshot, I'll have to try again this week, possibly with a butterfly net after I've located the bag of catnip, which I stashed away so cleverly in the face of Hobbit's ability to sniff it out and chew through the plastic that I haven't been able to remember where I put it.

The very lovely artificially tiger-striped Hobbit-portrait above (sun through blinds) is, of course, by stv, who Hobbit-sat in sheer self-defence for a few hours on Saturday night while Jo and I filled his house with ravening hordes of LARPers. As the daughter of an animal scientist and a sturdy rationalist in my own right I do not subscribe to baby-talking any animal of mine any more than I subscribe to baby-talking babies, but my subject line reflects a sample of the affectionate apostrophes and linguistic innovations with which I am wont to address Hobbit when I arrive home of an evening and he greets me at the door. I should point out that in the ancient tongues of men "hobytla" means "hole-dweller", which I suppose explains the pocket universe.
South Park Self

there's no place like Plrtz Glrb

Things in life I will never understand: the graceful, erratic, inscrutable sine waves which map the patterns of (a) comments on my blog posts, and (b) student utilisation of my curriculum advisor skills. Honestly. I have abandoned commenting patterns as a lost cause and a mystery for the ages, but student advice still actively baffles me. It's been deader than the dodo for several weeks, possibly because I've been deader than the dodo for several weeks and only slightly on campus, which means they've all got out of the habit of being able to find me. But today I have seen a continuous, uninterrupted, unrelenting string of students since five minutes before my official advice times started, which makes for about an hour and a half of plaintive student meeping, like hungry baby birds. (I do have a proto-theory which says that weekends and public holidays are inciters of advice-need, because they all sit at home and brood on their curriculum woes. But other than that I can't account for it and am forced to file it under "Unsolved Mysteries", together with this morning's traffic patterns, which were sparse enough to make me actually wonder if I'd taken my public holiday adjacently rather than on target.)

The thing is, emerging from this couple of hours of advice-giving: when not actively sabotaged by illness, depression or institutional fuckwittery, hells but I'm good at this. I have been watching myself witter on for this session, being somewhat amazed at the way my mouth produces, apparently independent of cognitive agency, relevant words which delineate a nice and accurate balance between empathy and technical knowledge. Every single student I have seen this morning has been in some distress, entangled in a career or curriculum snarl-up of slightly above average complexity and rendered skittish by the looming approach of the end of semester. I have sent them forth into the world, if not entirely solved, at least with a clearer sense of their options and their implications. Every single one of them has been soothed enough to chat a bit about the personal issues and feelings behind the technical question; to trust me with their vulnerabilities, their sense of failure, their fears, their horrible first-year homesickness. Every one of them has left looking visibly lighter. Honestly, when it comes to job satisfaction, I could create another grateful sine wave by keeping a running total of variations on "I feel so much better" from students departing my office.

I can't say this job is always like this, but when it is, it's lovely. I make a difference. Validation is immediate and concrete. And it's been something of a revelation, this morning, to realise that probably my sense of accomplishment, of fitness for my purpose, is the simple result of being, in slightly more existential terms, happy. I'm weirdly happy at the moment. I'm loving living on my own: my own space, my complete freedom to drift around shaping my environment to my needs, is something I've clearly needed for years without really being aware of it. I have lovely friends who both understand my base state of "hermitage" and who hoik me out of it at well-judged intervals for, e.g., lovely spontaneous suppers at excellent restaurants. (Frère's, whose high-class French nosh is ridiculously delectable and unreservedly recommended). The thrice-damned bronchitis has finally departed, and the post-nasal drip which is its icky footprint is perfectly endurable. And, calloo callay and the Dance of Joy, my thrice-damned brain chemistry has obviously tilted its little pointer away from "World, loathing of and self in particular" to "World: nice place, and you're probably OK." Supposing I haven't utterly jinxed it by mentioning it in print, long may it endure.

(My subject line references, of course, Angel, more or less randomly because of Numfar and the Dance of Joy.)
South Park Self

as is my duty as the put-upon everyman character

I am once more computer- and internet-enabled! This has taken four entirely unnecessary days, given that (as usual) the problems were very simple and I could have sorted them out myself if I'd only known.

  1. The computer problem wasn't the graphics card, it was a boot-up problem which for some bizarre reason hinged on a defunct wireless card. If you unplugged the wireless card it booted up fine. Since I connect the desktop to the router with a cable, the wireless card is entirely redundant and has in fact never been used (mostly because I could never get it to work, making more sense in retrospect than it ever did at the time) and we simply left it out.
  2. I should have been able to tell that it was a boot-up problem because of the missing beep when it tried to boot up. It transpires, however, that for some reason my computer doesn't actually beep when you boot it. Something has cruelly silenced its beep. Or it has my bronchitis, one or the other.
  3. The internet problem was because the router randomly reset itself to my old Imaginet package rather than the new one. I have no idea what caused this. I'm perfectly capable of configuring a router myself, but couldn't do so because I had no functional computer to which to attach it. Next time my computer dies I'm going to check the router first, since it apparently has these random fits of self-definition.
  4. Hmmm. I don't ever appear to have named this computer. My old one, the one who got stolen after a service career of continual revolving upgrades over approximately a decade, like a dwarven axe, was called Mnemonsyne. My netbook, before she too was nicked, was Tiamat. I need to think up an appropriate female goddess stat.
  5. Having sorted out all of the above (except the name), I couldn't access approximately half of my usual websites without incurring a security warning. Which turned out to be for https sites, which it categorically refused to load on the grounds that Unspecified Evils (possibly the usual aetheric bears) would steal my data if I did. Apparently https sites consider you to be suspect anachronisms if, for example, the technician who diagnosed your wireless card problem managed in the course of it to reset your computer clock to somewhere in 2007. Updating the calendar made all the little security warnings and red padlocks go the hell away, with the result that I have now managed to subdue my rampaging Tumblr feed.

I am please to be imagined in a triumphant pose, with my booted foot on the neck of the technojixary beast. Like a questing beast, or more accurately the exact opposite of a questing beast. Far from questing after it, you rather wish this one would go away, as it breathes down your neck and muddles your technology until you manage to work out which end of the sword is the pointy one and slay it.

In celebration, please have some deliriously funny BBC radio satire (more accurately, a radio sketch show called “Lewis Macleod is Not Himself”) on the eternal nature of the Freeman/Cumberbatch cinematic duo. The one about The Office, The one about the moose, The one with the cocktail stick. *fairy tale harp chords* [medieval choral chant] Ben-ne-dict Cum-ber-baaatch!
South Park Self

techno-jinx rampant, sable, in chief three small thunderclouds

I suppose I'm due for an outbreak of my techno-jinx, it's been lurking in hibernation for a while, but the emphasis is on the "lurking" - it's an undead horror that will never truly die. I have been without home internet since Wednesday morning, my existence bound by the sad contemplation of that doomful little red blinkenlight on the modem. My helpful Imaginet geek checked all the widgety connection thingummies, and the problem is apparently Telkom doing "routine maintenance" on the lines in the area, by which I assume they mean they're digging up the perfectly functional network and replacing it with something they crocheted from palm fibres while high. Techno-jinx 1, me 0, Telkom their usual 32 956, while cackling.

They may well have sorted it out since Wednesday, but I have been unable to check, on account of how my computer monitor abruptly stopped being able to talk to the actual computer sometime on Wednesday night, right in the middle of a high-stakes Dragon Age battle. Intensive operations swapping out monitors and connection cables suggest that it's not either of them, so I somewhat amateurishly diagnose that my video card has died. Either that, or it's a more pervasive problem with either the power supply or the RAM or the hard drive itself, which is preventing the poor creature from booting properly at all. Since it can't get as far as talking to the monitor either way it can't tell me what's actually wrong, which is a horribly helpless sort of position to put me in. These days I can usefully solve a good 70% of my computer problems by the power of random semi-competent fiddle, creatively channelling the Evil Landlord and various ex-boyfriends, and Google. Not this time, clearly. Techno-jinx 2, me 0, Telkom still cackling in the background because still no internet, which means my perfectly functional IPad is useless for internet-withdrawal-placation purposes as the wireless doesn't work. Curse that cloud computing, anyway.

It's entirely possible that this dual techno-failure was a signal from the Cosmic Wossnames on high that I need to get my butt back to work after ten days of sick-leave - certainly I have been far more motivated to actually leave the house when I can neither noodle around on the internet nor play games. I am thus back in the saddle, placating the swirling black clouds of internet withdrawal by virtue of my work internet (although my Tumblr feed is pretty much out of control as reading it full-time is not compatible with student advice or doing any actual work), and plotting to take the hapless computer in to the nice Korean geekpersons at Cafe Viva this afternoon. I am also way ahead on my tv-watching and reading, which means I have finally cracked open Parade's End, of which I have been somewhat scared in my weakened state as it looked heavy and possibly tragic. In fact, it's both tragic and absorbing, and exquisitely made, and is providing a horribly addictive plethora of compelling characters and amazing set and landscape porn. Last night I also combined the high-class BBC period drama with a completely random and uncalled-for acquisition of Chinese takeout, all on my own, just because I was grumpy and could. It turns out that techno-jinxen, if not placated, can be more or less forgotten with sufficient crispy duck with pancakes and Benedict Cumberbatch being Noble in spades. Thus Techno-jinx 2, Telkom infinity, but me 1.

In the context of all of the above I record, for posterity, my delightful discovery in the course of looking up "blinkenlight" to confirm that it was in fact spelled thusly and did indeed mean what I though it meant. Namely, the Wikipedia article on same, which reproduces in its entirety that beautifully Goonish conglomeration of mock-German warning sign which is one of the most elderly of tech memes, and whose existence I had entirely forgotten about. When confronted with a rampaging techno-jinx, horned and clawed, it is as well to remember that DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FÜR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN! and to RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN. If I can get them to blink. News at 11.