An Amish Experience

 Posted by at 23:09 on 19 February 2014
Feb 192014

I’d thought today’s WI meeting would be very hard. I had to go, though: my strongest memory of Phyllis is of her shaking her finger at me and telling me that I mustn’t miss any more meetings, after I’d missed a few in a row following some unpleasantness a few years back. That meant the world to me – knowing that, despite the unpleasantness, and my fear that my adversary had poisoned my friends and acquaintances against me, in fact I was still liked and my company was still desired by some, at least. Since then, I’ve fitted back in, and it’s a rare meeting where I get a chance to visit with everyone I’d like to. It’s a feeling of belonging, which has been entirely too rare in my life. I shouldn’t treat it lightly, and such things need nurturing. No, I shouldn’t miss these meetings willy-nilly.

So, off I went this morning – after a too-short night, as is almost always the case on these WI Days. I was interested to hear the speaker, as well as wanting to see my friends. His talk was entitled “An Amish Experience,” and since I know very little about the Amish, this promised to be informative and interesting. (I always love learning – not school with its tests and stupidity, but learning for its own sake.)

Wherein I provide more entertainment than the speaker (to some) …

After setting up his slides (actual slides, not a powerpoint presentation), our speaker began. He explained that his daughter’s lived in America for a number of years, and when she lived an hour’s drive away, they went to visit Amish country as an afternoon out. After she moved to upstate New York, his sister went with him to visit once, and she wanted to see Amish country – now some 300-odd miles away, so “not an afternoon job.” (He said the actual number, but I forget it now.) Then he told us about that trip down to Amish country – they stayed three nights – and showed us photos. Many of the photos came from post cards and brochures, so I imagine they were actors, but it gives you something to show what it’s like, so fair enough.

I’d arrived last, and grabbed a chair at the back of the room. Our speaker stood up and faced us at the beginning, to give the prologue, but the room’s situated such that any sort of projector needs to be placed about halfway back, in the midst of the crowd, so speakers often end up sitting there, facing the front, to change the slides. Thus, he couldn’t see my face; mercifully, I didn’t need to try to keep a poker face – always an incredible challenge for me. My face is incredibly expressive (it always has been), which is a blessing and a curse, like most things in life. It’s a blessing in that I don’t have to find the words to convey so very many things: sorrow, sympathy, glee, pleasure; the whole lot. It’s a curse because I give away what I’m thinking right there on my face, which is sometimes troublesome. Ho hum, it’s part of me, and always shall remain so, I imagine.

So he started to talk about their trip. He said 300-odd miles is a long way, so he rented one of these people-carriers for it: a seven-seater, with three rows of seats. He showed us a photo of a minivan. Finally! I’ve always wondered what the heck Which? has been calling a people-carrier or MPV (multi-person vehicle) — silly me, I thought that was basically anything other than a small motorcycle — and now I finally know! Anyway, so he and his daughter swapped the driving, and they rode up front*; his wife had one row of seats to herself, and his sister had another row of seats to herself. Because 300-odd miles is a long way.

(*My parents took us on many road trips when we were growing up, and they remain part of the fabric that is me: one of my great loves. I see the eminent sensibility in their system, though, that if you can arrange it, put the driver who’s resting in the back, as far away from being able to watch the road as you can. I find myself doing the same that they did way back then: when I’m not driving, I find myself watching the road just the same as when I am. Means you get no mental rest from driving if your off time is in the front passenger seat. This system of my parents’ also meant us kids learned how to read road maps early and well, so I advocate it to all.)

Three hundred-odd miles is a long way in Britain, mind: the congestion and crowding makes travel here massively more exhausting than the same distances in the US. Three hundred miles here would surely be a very long, hard day – akin to those crazy people I occassionally checked in to my hotels who’d made it 1000 miles in a single day. I’m gently mocking, however, because the speaker obviously discovered the difference himself: he put up a view of the road and said, “I’ve only put this one in to make you jealous. When was the last time you saw a British motorway with only one other car in sight?” About 1950, I imagine, if motorways (interstates, kind of) even existed then. I’ve always tried to tell my friends and family that driving in the US is vastly different from driving in the UK. I think the only ones who’ve understood have been the ones who’ve done both.

Anyway, our speaker went on to tell us that the speed limit was 65mph, and he dared not exceed it – it’s enforced by aircraft, radar, etc. Signs positively litter the highways in that part of the country warning about aircraft-controlled and radar-controlled speed limits, which are actually worded quite silly so always made Chris and I laugh. Our speaker told us that when a cop pulls you over in America, the first thing they do is get out of their car and get their gun out! So he would only go 63 or 64; he wasn’t keen to argue with a cop and his gun. His daughter would push it, having discovered that a smile and a British accent go a long way. “They love us there; we’re their biggest allies.”

I’m afraid my eyes rolled so hard they fell on the floor when he told us that American cops pull their gun on every speeding car they pull over. I swear I have a magnet inside me that makes cops catch me every time I speed – so I don’t anymore, but in my younger days I got pulled over quite a bit. Y’know, I’ve never had a single gun pulled on me. Methinks the speaker has been watching too many episodes of COPS.

It was about this time that the ladies around me realized that, as they announced loudly later, watching me was more entertaining than watching the slides, and they proceeded to do so, telling the others around them (who couldn’t see me) what expressions I’d made. At one point I had to shush them and tell them to let the man talk!

So the man carried on, choosing to not be bothered at all by the ruckus behind him. It was interesting to see how much gets misinterpreted. He thought the motel they’d stayed in was quite sizeable because the parking lot photo he’d taken showed a parking space numbered 122. Brits are used to numbering from 1, rather than the coded system Americans are used to, with a block number prefixing the house number, or a floor number prefixing a room number. Room 122 in an American motel is likely to be the 22nd room (or 21st, if they’ve skipped 13) on the ground floor, and this was just one story high; from what I could see in the photo, 20-odd rooms looked about right to my somewhat-practiced eye. I remember the hotel in Cardiff last year had what I’ve just called American coding of room numbers (floor number plus room number, so room 122 would be the 22nd room on the first floor), but I think they don’t expect that coding when it’s all on one floor, probably because the ground floor isn’t the first floor, it’s floor zero. The first floor is one above the ground floor.

He also believed the horses and buggies had their own lane on the main roads through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, saying they’re like the bicycle lanes we get here. Actually, that was the shoulder. The road markings are different: the solid white line at the edge of the road in the US always means it’s the edge of the road, it has a variety of different meanings here – like that demarcation of the cycle lane.

He also didn’t understand that the orange triangles on the backs of these buggies are a general requirement for slow-moving vehicles in many states, including things like motorized farm tractors; the state law mandating it wasn’t necessarily put in place specifically for these buggies.

Despite these few misunderstandings, he had a lot of interesting, informative stories and facts to share with us about the Amish, and was a good, engaging speaker, so I do highly recommend him and won’t spoil his talk by telling you what all he said, in case you’re a local reading this who might want him to come to your group. During the meat of his talk, thankfully I quit being so entertaining, and the others focused on him.

Towards the end, though, he told us of getting some pies from the farmers’ market just before they headed back out again. One was “just plain apple” and one was strawberry and rhubarb, and he’s never found that combination so good ever since. I was surprised the apple pie was plain – that’s the British way, not the American way (Americans tend to bake in cinnamon, for a start), but perhaps it did have the usual spices and he simply glossed over that point. He then told us that, though the Americans seem so forward in so many ways, they’ve never heard of custard!, which is what he likes to have with his apple pie. Of course, we have heard of custard – we call it pudding, and it is delicious. Most of us, thankfully, haven’t heard of the foul yellow goop he’s talking about, which bears absolutely no resemblance to custard. I never call it custard; I always refer to its brand name, Bird’s, because that’s what it is. It’s mixed from a powder that comes in an envelope labeled Bird’s, and that’s all we can really be sure of. His daughter had a large supermarket near her with an entire aisle given over to the “Best of British” food, though, where she’d found this abomination. My face was wrinkled with absolute disgust the entire time (not too long) he spoke about that strange yellow concoction, to much hooting laughter from those around me.

On that supermarket aisle, the daughter had also found Yorkshire Tea, and was grateful for that, because American tea is quite foul – this is very true. When Chris and I visit the US, we take our own tea with us, much to the bemusement of those we visit.

The laughter was spreading now, to the other end of the room. The speaker finally acknowledged all this disruption by saying that he hoped there were no Americans present. He received a chorused, “Yes,” and said something like “Oh.” Over the ensuing roaring laughter, I tried to project my voice, to put him back at his ease, by assuring all and sundry that yes, American teabags are quite foul. I left the discussion of Bird’s for smaller conversations later.

I thanked him before he left for a welcome trip down memory lane. I hope he wasn’t too bothered by the hidden American in the room; it was great fun for me. He was a dear; we talked briefly about the incomprehensible-to-British-minds heat that summertime in the Southern US brings (he does talks on the US Civil War, as well, and was blown away by the weather they were dealing with). I told him every August I’m exceedingly grateful to be here, not there!

On loss: the Why

 Posted by at 14:49 on 15 February 2014
Feb 152014


Phyllis was one of the loveliest ladies I know, and I will miss her greatly. Words will never do justice to her charm, her sparkling wit, her understated ways, her matter-of-factness, her straightforwardness, and so many other qualities that made her such a wonderful, lovely lady.

She left us yesterday, finally at peace after her struggles.

I don’t know, and will likely never know, what happened – why she’s gone. In the way of grief, part of my mind has become focused on this tidbit, convinced that if I understood why she was gone I’d be more at peace with it. The rest of my mind isn’t so sure, but would like the chance to find out.

Click for more …


I realized last night that for almost none of the deaths that have affected me since moving here have I ever been privy to the causes. The only exception was when my mother told me when “my” cat passed away. PC – Precarious Cat – always liked my mother best, so she stayed living there with her; besides, she was 17 by the time I married and settled here, and very set in her ways, so it felt wrong to contemplate uprooting her. Mom told me about coming home to find PC in a state, rushing her to the vet, what he said, and everything that happened next.

For every death that affected me before I moved here, I was privy to the cause of death. Not generally a blow-by-blow as with PC, but “he had cancer” or “he drowned” or “he was allergic and died of anaphylactic shock.” I suspect the difference is mostly down to the fact that these deaths local to me here have been of my friends and acquaintances, and I’ve not rated as someone worthy to tell what exactly happened; I suspect that the people telling me didn’t rate either. The deaths before were family members and kin (more distant family), so I rated then, and was automatically told.

Phyllis went into the hospital with a chest infection. I visited her a few weeks ago. She was tired, and weak, but she seemed okay. She said she was having trouble catching her breath, so they were trying her on different pills to try to fix this problem. I don’t understand why they didn’t try giving her oxygen. She said she was weak, and couldn’t walk too well; she lived alone, so this needed to be sorted out before she could go home. I knew from a friend who’d visited her before that she was having trouble eating, but there wasn’t a nutrient drip for her, or even a saline drip to make sure she at least stayed hydrated.

I listened to other mutual friends before and after my visit, and I heard, between the lines, them preparing themselves for her death. I didn’t – don’t – get that line of thinking; she was tired, and weak, but she hadn’t seemed anywhere near death’s door to me. I realized, back then, weeks ago, that this is probably a self-preservation measure of theirs, and that I have nothing like it; rather, I always experience any death as a great shock, because my subconcious assumption is that everyone will live forever. This is odd for me, given that I think a lot (relatively) about my own demise; I have a folder of instructions for my own funeral compiled already to save a bit of trouble for my survivors, for example. Yet, it’s true: death is generally a shock to me.

When I got the call, I let my poor friend tasked with telling me keep talking after she’d broken then news, hoping for some explanation. All I heard was the same anger towards the patient that I’d heard in the wake of these other losses (last year there were four in a four-month span): “She hadn’t improved at all.” “She wasn’t eating.” And so on. This victim blaming is undoubtedly done under the just-world fallacy paradigm. They’re blaming the patient for not doing what she was supposed to do, and thus they’re able to comfort themselves that the same won’t happen to them: they’ll do what they’re supposed to do, naturally. It’s the same thing many do with rape victims: they blame the victim for wearing the wrong clothes, etc, comforting themselves that they’ll never be raped because they’ll do what they’re supposed to do.

It occurs to me that it could be a cultural difference, rather than a relationship difference; if it is, then I bet it’d be founded on the biggest underlying difference I’ve noted between these two cultures: Fairness. In the UK, things are supposed to be fair: laws are written to this end, campaigns aimed at making things fairer succeed, and so on. In the US, it’s widely accepted that things are not supposed to be fair, that fairness is a myth. Fair and just go hand in hand, so if the victim-blaming is part of the just-world fallacy, then it’d be based on this notion that life and death are fair – when, in fact, the only fair about death is that it eventually comes to us all.

When I’ve asked (not yet in this case, but last year) what happened, why have they left us, I’m met with stock phrases such as “Well, she was old,” or “She’d been ill.” Those gems were regarding an acquaintance who’d fallen a height of some six feet and broken some ribs. She, too, lived alone, so needed to be able to function again before they sent her home (hospitals here are much quicker to admit and much slower to release patients than any hospitals in the US I’ve ever been around, in my limited experience), so she was in the hospital for a couple of months, I think. But before that? She kept up a very busy social life; she went line dancing every week – she was more active than me! Vera wasn’t old. As her son said at the funeral, “We shouldn’t be here.” No, we really shouldn’t have.

This belief that age is some sort of automatic cause of death really grates on my nerves. People don’t actually die of old age; I wish that myth would kick the bucket already. My friends are simply my friends – they never seem old or young to me; they’re people I can count on, people with open hearts and open minds, people interested in what I have to say, with things to say that I’m interested to hear. Phyllis was one of those, and she never seemed old to me.

This mystery of why she’s gone makes me feel as though I’ve stepped back in time, to the 1600s or some such, when we knew little about how our bodies worked, and you just had to cope with the knowledge that they’d died. I don’t get it; when the electricity or water goes out, the first thing other people ask is why, which is such a trivial, unimportant thing for the customers – something’s broken somewhere, and the company’s fixing it, which is the salient point. All these deaths I’ve been around, though, and no one asks or tells why. Coffins are closed, and it’s generally seen to be poor form to actually cry at a funeral (from what I’ve gathered); how are we meant to come to terms with loss?

Snow! – and how it causes chaos

 Posted by at 16:05 on 11 February 2014
Feb 112014

It’s sunny right now!

I do hope it stays this way. It snowed earlier, but didn’t stick on the roads around my house, thankfully, and the sun’s melting whatever little bits might have done. Elsewhere, it was thicker.

I really, really hate it when it snows here. Other places can cope, but this place can’t. I have vivid memories from childhood, from our winters in Michigan, of deep snow on the yards, but the road completely clear of snow – and once the sun would shine for a bit, even the wetness would evaporate, and the road would be completely dry and safe. I also remember having great fun with a pair of my old sneakers (trainers), a couple of sticks, and some knee-high socks: we stuck them in the mound of snow that the snow plow’d made, simulating a girl having gotten stuck in the snow. We watched from the kitchen window as people passed by and did a double take. Most laughed; it was good.

Click for more …

I also have an acquaintance who lived in Canada for three or four decades before emigrating; she assures me that the scraping noise of the snow plow on the road surface is one of the sounds of winter there. I wish it was so here. Here, the plow stays a good 2″/5cm or more off the surface of the road; the salt they spread behind that plow (one vehicle: pseudo-plow at the front, salt spreader at the back) can’t melt that much snow. Not clearing snow means it almost invariably freezes, making the roads perilous – when there’s no need for it.

Here’s some of the traffic chaos caused by this morning’s light snow:

  • High Peak Bus Company – serves most of the High Peak, the local borough I live in, including the road I live on:
    • 9:03am: Transpeak. We won’t be be serving Taddington or Chelmorten due to the weather conditions.
    • 9:51am: Cat and Fiddle closed in both ways
    • 9:53am: Service 199. Will not be serving Peak Dale due to snow
    • 9:56am: Snow is causing problems for services all across the High Peak
    • 10:46am: We have various road closures in the are affecting many services. Cat & Fiddle,Chunal,A515 and A623 are blocked. We are doing our best!
    • 12:23pm: The road conditions are improving but our 58 service remains suspended.
    • 12:35pm: Service 61. Will recommence full service at 13:00 from Glossop.
  • 11:33am: Cat and Fiddle Road:
    2014_0211 cat and fiddle
  • 10:30am: Update on the county council’s webpage about closed roads, etc:
    All these roads are open and passable with care:
    • A57 Snake Pass
    • A537 Cat & Fiddle
    • A53 Macclesfield Road
    • A515 Ashbourne to Buxton.
  • 10:50am: Disley Police: Please be aware that the Cat and Fiddle road has been closed due to snow. Other roads over the tops may be affected as well.

That’s the roads; the sidewalks don’t get cleared or salted, but do get walked on, so the snow there freezes into interesting shapes. You know, for values of interesting that mean “you take your life into your hands by walking on it.” Fun times!

How much snow was it? Here’s the top of one of our hills, at 10:53am:

2014_0211 kinder scout

More photos: Bottom of Mam Tor Old RoadTop of Mam TorView over Chinley (about five miles south of me) … Buxton town centre (about 15 miles south of me) … and lastly, the view Chris just saw from the train coming into Glossop:


It’s pretty up there on the hilltops. It can stay there, and stay off the roads and sidewalks.

Snow shouldn’t be so anxiety-inducing; it was fun once, I remember. If only it were managed better, it could be fun again. I know my brother who lives in Michigan loves getting out his monstrous snow blower and clearing his two-car driveway in about two minutes flat. Maybe one day I’ll buy a snowblower and just push it in front of me everywhere I go. Just have to figure out how to keep it secure when I go into each shop. Hm.

When I rule the world, I’m putting heating elements under all the roads and sidewalks!

UK Census Questions 2011

 Posted by at 13:28 on 9 February 2014
Feb 092014

Last night, I mentioned the UK Census as a sorce of data for a thing; it made me go look at the copy I’d typed up to see how that data could be gleaned from the census. I was so surprised at the intrusiveness of the questions on the census when I received it that I typed it up to share with a few friends. I’ll store this here now, so I can point to it in the future.

I’ve now filled out census forms twice – in the US in 2000, and in the UK in 2011. The US one was about a half-sheet of paper (A5), front and back, and took me about five minutes. The UK one was a 32-page booklet (A4), wanting each individual to answer separately. The household section is five pages with 14 questions; the individual sections are each four pages with 43 questions. UK law requires your response to every single question except only the one about what religion you are.

The questions …


(My comments are italicized and in parentheses; I’ve only typed up one person’s lot of questions.)

Household questions

H1. Who usually lives here? (Tick all that apply)

__ Me, this is my permanent or family home
__ Family members including partners, children, and babies born on or before 27 March 2011
__ Students and/or schoolchildren who live away from home during term time
__ Housemates, tenants, or lodgers
__ People who usually live outside the UK who are staying in the UK for 3 months or more
__ People who work away from home within the UK, or are members of the armed forces, if this is their permanent or family home
__ People who are temporarily outside the UK for less than 12 months
__ People staying temporarily who usually live in the UK but do not have another UK address, for example, relatives, friends
__ Other people who usually live here, including anyone temporarily away from home
OR __ No-one usually lives here, for example this is a second address or holiday home (if this applies, go to H4)

H2. Counting everyone you included in question H1, how many people usually live here?

H3. Starting with yourself, list the names of all the people counted in question H2 including children, babies, and lodgers.

H4. Apart from everyone counted in question H2, who else is staying overnight here on 27 March 2011? These people are counted as visitors. Remember to include children and babies. (Tick all that apply)

__ People who usualy live somewhere else in the UK, for example, boy/girlfriends, friends, relatives
__ People staying here because it is their second address, for example, for work. Their permanent or family home is elsewhere
__ People who usually live outside the UK who are staying in the UK for less than 3 months
__ People here on holiday
OR __ There are no visitors staying overnight here on 27 March 2011 (If this applies, go to H6)

H5. Counting only the people included in question H4, how many visitors are staying overnight here on 27 March 2011?

H6. How are members of this household related to each other?

  • Name of Person 1: First Name _________ Last Name ____________
  • Name of Person 2: First Name _________ Last Name ____________
How is Person 2 related to Person 1?
__ Husband or wife
__ Same-sex civil partner
__ Partner
__ Son or daughter
__ Step-child
__ Brother or sister
__ Step-brother or step-sister
__ Mother or father
__ Step-mother or step-father
__ Grandchild
__ Grandparent
__ Relation – other
__ Unrelated (including foster child)

(It then asks how person 3 is related to person 1 and person 2, and so on through person 6).

H7. What type of accommodation is this?

  • A whole house or bungalow that is:
  • __ Detached
    __ Semi-detached
    __ Terraced (including end-terrace)
  • A flat, maisonette, or apartment that is:
  • __ in a purpose-built block of flats or tenement
    __ part of a converted or shared house (including bedsits)
    __ in a commercial building (for example, in an office building, hotel, or over a shop)
  • A mobile or temporary structure:
  • __ a caravan or other mobile or temporary structure

H8. Is this household’s accommodation self-contained?

(This means that all the rooms, including the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet, are behind a door that only this household can use)

__ Yes, all the rooms are behind a door that only this household can use
__ No

H9. How many rooms are available for use only by this household?

Do NOT count: bathrooms, toilets, halls or landings, rooms that can only be used for storage such as cupboards

Count all other rooms, for example: kitchens, living rooms, utility rooms, bedrooms, studies, conservatories

If two rooms have been converted into one, count them as one room

H10. How many of these rooms are bedrooms?

H11. What type of central heating does this accommodation have?

Tick all that apply, whether or not you use it.

Central heating is a central system that generates heat for multiple rooms

__ No central heating
__ Gas
__ Electric (including storage heaters)
__ Oil
__ Solid fuel (for example wood, coal)
__ Other central heating

H12. Does your household own or rent this accommodation?

__ Owns outright (go to H14)
__ Owns with a mortgage or loan (go to H14)
__ Part owns and part rents (shared ownership)
__ Rents (with or without housing benefit)
__ Lives here rent free

H13. Who is your landlord?

__ Housing association, housing co-operative, charitable trust, registered social landlord
__ Council (local authority)
__ Private landlord or letting agency
__ Employer of a household member
__ Relative or friend of a household member
__ Other

H14. In total, how many cars or vans are owned, or available for use, by members of this household?

Include any company cars or vans available for private use

__ None
__ 1
__ 2
__ 3
__ 4 or more, write in number __

Individual questions, Person 1 start here

1. What is your name?

(You get 17 characters for your first name, and 17 characters for your last name; it doesn’t ask anywhere on the form for middle names.)

2. What is your sex?

__ Male
__ Female

3. What is your date of birth?

4. On 27 March 2011, what is your legal marital or same-sex civil partnership status?

__ Never married and never registered a same-sex civil partnership
__ Married
__ Separated, but still legally married
__ Divorced
__ Widowed
__ In a registered same-sex civil partnership
__ Separated, but still legally in a same-sex civil partnership
__ Formerly in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved
__ Surviving partner from a same-sex civil partnership

5. Do you stay at another address for more than 30 days a year?

__ No (go to 7)
__ Yes, write in other UK address below
__ Yes, outside the UK, write in country

6. What is that address?

__ Armed forces base address
__ Another address when working away from home
__ Student’s home address
__ Student’s term time address
__ Another parent or guardian’s address
__ Holiday home
__ Other

7. Are you a schoolchild or student in full-time education?

__ Yes
__ No (go to 9)

8. During term time, do you live:

__ at the address on the front of the questionnaire?
__ at the address in question 5? (go to 43)
__ at another address? (go to 43)

9. What is your country of birth?

__ England (go to 13)
__ Wales (go to 13)
__ Scotland (go to 13)
__ Northern Ireland (go to 13)
__ Republic of Ireland
__ Elsewhere, write in the current name of the country (you get 17 characters)

10. If you were not born in the United Kingdom, when did you most recently arrive to live here?


11. If you arrived before 27 March 2010, go to 13

If you arrived on or after 27 March 2010, go to 12

12. Including the time you have already spent here, how long do you intend to stay in the United Kingdom?

__ Less than 6 months
__ 6 months or more but less than 12 months
__ 12 months or more

13. How is your health in general?

__ Very good
__ Good
__ Fair
__ Bad
__ Very bad

14. Do you look after, or give any help or support to family members, friends, neighbours, or others because of either:

  • long-term physical or mental ill-health/disability?
  • problems related to old age?

Do not count anything you do as part of your paid employment

__ No
__ Yes, 1-19 hours a week
__ Yes, 20-49 hours a week
__ Yes, 50 or more hours a week

15. How would you describe your national identity?

Tick all that apply

__ English
__ Welsh
__ Scottish
__ Northern Irish
__ British
__ Other, write in (you get 17 characters)

16. What is your ethnic group?

Choose one section from A to E, then tick one box to best describe your ethnic group or background

  • A: White
  • __ English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British
    __ Irish
    __ Gypsy or Irish Traveller
    __ Any other White background, write in (you get 17 characters)
  • B: Mixed/multiple ethnic groups
  • __ White and Black Caribbean
    __ White and Black African
    __ White and Asian
    __ Any other Mixed/multiple ethnic background, write in (you get 17 characters)
  • C: Asian/Asian British
  • __ Indian
    __ Pakistani
    __ Bangladeshi
    __ Chinese
    __ Any other Asian background, write in (you get 17 characters)
  • D: Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • __ African
    __ Caribbean
    __ Any other Black/African/Caribbean background, write in (you get 17 characters)
  • E: Other ethnic group
  • __ Arab
    __ Any other ethnic group, write in (you get 17 characters)

17. This question is intentionally left blank, go to 18

(This question is for Wales only, asking the Welsh if they speak Welsh, and if so how well).

18. What is your main language?

__ English, go to 20
__ Other, write in (including British Sign Language)

19. How well can you speak English?

__ Very well
__ Well
__ Not well
__ Not at all

20. What is your religion?

This question is voluntary.

__ No religion
__ Christian (including Church of England, Catholic, Protestant, and all other Christian denomiations)
__ Buddhist
__ Hindu
__ Jewish
__ Muslim
__ Sikh
__ Any other religion, write in (you get 17 characters)

21. One year ago, what was your usual address?

If you had no usual address one year ago, state the address where you were staying.

__ The address on the front of this questionnaire
__ Student term time/ boarding school address in the UK, write in term time address below
__ Another address in the UK, write in below
__ Outside the UK, write in country.

22. What passports do you hold?

Tick all that apply

__ United Kingdom
__ Irish
__ Other, write in
__ None

23. Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?

__ Yes, limited a lot
__ Yes, limited a little
__ No

24. If you are aged 16 or over, go to 25.

If you are aged 15 or under, go to 43.

25. Which of these qualifications do you have?

Tick every box that applies if you have any of the qualifications listed.

If your UK qualification is not listed, tick the box that contains its nearest equivalent.

If you have qualifications gained outside the UK, tick the ‘Foreign qualifications’ box and the nearest UK equivalents (if known).

__ 1-4 O levels/CSEs/GCSEs (any grades), Entry Level, Foundation Diploma
__ NVQ Level 1, Foundation GNVQ, Basic Skills
__ 5+ O levels (passes)/CSEs (grade 1)/GCSEs (grades A* – C), School Certificate, 1 A level/ 2 – 3 AS levels / VCEs, Higher Diploma
__ NVQ Level 2, Intermediate GNVQ, City and Guilds Craft, BTEC First/General Diploma, RSA Diploma
__ Apprenticeship
__ 2+ A levels/VCEs, 4+ AS levels, Higher School Certificate, Progression/Advanced Diploma
__ NVQ Level 3, Advanced GNVQ, City and Guilds Advanced Craft, ONC, OND, BTEC National, RSA Advanced Diploma
__ Degree (for example BA, BSc), Higher degree (for example MA, PhD, PGCE)
__ NVQ Level 4 – 5, HNC, HND, RSA Higher Diploma, BTEC Higher Level
__ Professional qualifications (for example teaching, nursing, accountancy)
__ Other vocational/work-related qualifications
__ Foreign qualifications
__ No qualifications

26. Last week, were you:

Tick all that apply.

Include any paid work, including casual or temporary work, even if only for one hour.

__ working as an employee? Go to 32.
__ on a government sponsored training scheme? Go to 32.
__ self-employed or freelance? Go to 32.
__ working paid or unpaid for your own or your family’s business? Go to 32.
__ away from work ill, on maternity leave, on holiday, or temporarily laid off? Go to 32.
__ doing any other kind of paid work? Go to 32.
__ none of the above

27. Were you actively looking for any kind of paid work during the last four weeks?

__ Yes
__ No

28. If a job had been available last week, could you have started it within two weeks?

__ Yes
__ No

29. Last week, were you waiting to start a job already obtained?

__ Yes
__ No

30. Last week, were you:

Tick all that apply

__ retired (whether receiving a pension or not)?
__ a student?
__ looking after home or family?
__ long-term sick or disabled?
__ other

31. Have you ever worked?

__ Yes, write in the year that you last worked. Go to 32.
__ No, have never worked. Go to 43.

32. Answer the remaining questions for your main job or, if not working, your last main job.

Your main job is the job in which you usually work (worked) the most hours.

33. In your main job, are (were) you:

__ an employee?
__ self-employed or freelance without employees?
__ self-employed with employees?

34. What is (was) your full and specific job title?


Do not state your grade or pay band.

(You get 34 spaces for this one).

35. Briefly describe what you do (did) in your main job.

(Another 34 spaces).

36. Do (did) you supervise any employees?

Supervision involves overseeing the work of other employees on a day-to-day basis.

__ Yes
__ No

37. At your workplace, what is (was) the main activity of your employer or business?


If you are (were) a civil servant, write GOVERNMENT.

If you are (were) a local government officer, write LOCAL GOVERNMENT and give the name of your department within the local authority.

(You get 51 spaces for this one).

38. In your main job, what is (was) the name of the organisation you work (worked) for?

If you are (were) self-employed in your own organisation, write in the business name.

(You get 34 spaces for this one).

__ No organisation, for example, self-employed, freelance, or work (worked) for a private individual.

39. If you had a job last week, go to 40.

If you didn’t have a job last week, go to 43.

40. In your main job, what is the address of your workplace?

If you work at or from home, on an offshore installation, or have no fixed workplace, tick one of the boxes below.

If you report to a depot, write in the depot address.

(Blank for address).
OR __ Mainly work at or from home
__ Offshore installation
__ No fixed place

41. How do you usually travel to work?

Tick one box only.

Tick the box for the longest part, by distance, of your usual journey to work.

__ Work mainly at or from home
__ Underground, metro, light rail, tram
__ Train
__ Bus, minibus, or coach
__ Taxi
__ Motorcycle, scooter, or moped
__ Driving a car or van
__ Passenger in a car or van
__ Bicycle
__ On foot
__ Other

42. In your main job, how many hours a week (including paid and unpaid overtime) do you usually work?

__ 15 or less
__ 16-30
__ 31-48
__ 49 or more

43. There are no more questions for Person 1.

Go to questions for Person 2.

OR If there are no more people in this household, go to the visitor questions on the back page.

OR If there are no visitors staying here overnight, go to the Declaration on the front page.

Visitor questions

V. How many visitors did you include in question H5?

__ 1 to 3 – answer questions V1 to V4 below for each visitor.
__ 4 or more – answer questions V1 to V4 below for the first three visitors then go to or call 0300 0201 101 to request a Continuation Questionnaire.
Visitor A

V1. What is this person’s name?

V2. What is this person’s sex?

__ Male
__ Female

V3. What is this person’s date of birth?

V4. What is this person’s usual UK address?

OR, __ Outside the UK, write in country


Glossop Community Voice Meeting, 3 Feb 2014

 Posted by at 01:06 on 9 February 2014
Feb 092014

Went to my first Glossop Community Voice meeting this past Monday. I’d read about it in the paper before, and this time curiosity got the better of me and I went along to see what it was all about. It’s run by High Peak Borough Council (HPBC; our local level of government), quarterly. It was surprisingly helpful and informative, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Extra, extra, read all about it …

There was some discussion of what plans are in the works in various groups for World War commemorations (it being 100 years since the beginning of World War 1 and 75 years since the beginning of World War 2 this year). George Wharmby talked about the Royal British Legion’s plans for a drumhead service and parade. Glossop Peace Group emphasized the importance of commemorating, rather than celebrating, the wars, and the horror to be found in the 1914-1918 issues of the local newspaper. Some overlap of effort was discovered (namely, Glossop Peace Group and Write from the Heart are both researching the stories of the individuals named on our local war memorials – Write from the Heart is keen for anyone who remembers those individuals anymore to get in touch with them); hopefully there’ll be some adjustment now, leading to less duplicated efforts. I was surprised to learn that we have cenotaphs (war memorials with names) up on our surrounding moorland; I also learned that – possibly – the rose bushes in the Rose Garden of Manor Park originally numbered the same as the names on the Glossop Cenotaph. That’d make sense, since the signs there say it’s a memorial rose garden, but I’ve never seen a memorial (though I could’ve overlooked one, I suppose). Caitlin Bisknell, HPBC chair, who was chairing the meeting, said that HPBC will have a page on its website for local commemoration events – excellent!

I later realized that a page to collect any information about what projects in observance of the commemorations that local community groups are working on would be a useful thing, as well. Only whatever information is sent to them, mind: I don’t propose they should spend any time on gathering the information, but just type up a couple of paragraphs, send it out with their press releases, and then copy and paste anything they’re sent, along with contact information for the group in question. I told Chris about this idea the next day, but he banned me from pursuing it myself, seeing as I don’t have enough hours in the day as it is. I emailed it to Caitlin, along with a couple of other thoughts I’d had, and she replied swiftly to tell me that she’d fed my ideas to the appropriate departments, so we shall see.

There was also discussion of ideas of how to attract visitors to the Tour de France down into our town. Yes, it’s the real Tour de France bicycle race, starting on the Yorkshire Moors, and coming through something like three miles (total guess) of Derbyshire. I don’t have any idea why the Tour de France has moved to England this time; maybe they got bored of France, I don’t know. Anyway, one idea is to have large screens set up in the town, including at Manor Park where Glossop Carnival will be in its second day, for people to watch the race. Another idea is to have shuttle service based in the town. I do hope shuttle service is arranged, because the logistics of going to watch it seem a nightmare otherwise.

The focus really, though, was on community groups. About five groups had been invited to give a short talk about what they do and what their current projects are, which was very informative. The one thing that made me cringe terribly, though, was the implication that meetings mean progress. I’ve found far too many meetings to be complete wastes of time, so to hear the council and group representatives say that progress is being made because they’re having meetings with each other every few weeks felt akin to someone saying that roadworks are clearly making progress, since cones have been up for a few months now.

That niggle aside, I learned that High Peak Access is making progress with the developer and council on the dreadful state of Howard Town Mill (the problems are explained here, here, here, here, here, and here). There is some hope that some of the obstructions will be fixed, at least in Phase 2 of the development. I learned that Glossopdale Trust is working on acquiring the Town Hall / Municipal Building from HPBC. It’s only beginning stages yet, and Caitlin said that the library (Victoria Hall) will be dealt with first, so my guess is that it’ll be some years before the town hall gets dealt with.

(There’s one structure in the center of town that is variably called the Market Hall / Town Hall / Municipal Buildings, and more names. It’s one building, in actuality, so I use the names interchangeably – except I never pluralize Municipal Building, because there’s only one building.)

The gal from Glossop Volunteer Centre told us it runs a free community stall on Glossop Indoor Market for local not-for-profit organizations – though the flier says it’s the outdoor market, and the website says it’s the indoor market; the website further says it’s £5, so not actually free. Oh, and I see that they also don’t mention (it’s in the t&c linked on that page) that your organization must have insurance: Public Liability and Products Liability, each with £5 million cover; Employers Liability with £10 million cover. I know for a long time the market was running an offer of letting the stall for £5 so long as you had insurance; not sure if that’s still the price, but I’d check into it before involving another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy by giving the £5 to Glossop Volunteer Centre instead. But then, I do so detest unnecessary bureaucracy – and let’s face it, most bureaucracy is unnecessary.

Glossop is right on the edge of Derbyshire, and the transport links into Tameside and Greater Manchester are vastly superior to those going into Derbyshire. Ages ago, when the NHS was devising its local areas for management, it lumped Glossop together with Tameside; several other entities have done the same (not sure which was first). From a standpoint of being able to physically attend various hospitals and clinics, this makes a lot of sense. I saw some news item awhile back that said that our management is going to shift now to Derbyshire NHS instead of Tameside & Glossop NHS, though I can find nothing online about it now, and am now massively confused about the whole thing, given what I have turned up in my search. Hm.

At the meeting, there was a lady repeating that Derbyshire’s going to take control of Glossop’s NHS appropriations; she and her team are, as she put it, keen to learn more about what issues there are in Glossopdale, and what holes there are that maybe they could fill. See, they have the quantitative data from the census (a 32-page booklet which I found to be incredibly nosy and intrusive) to tell them about people who’re inactive and where they live, but now they want to get the qualitative data to tell them why those people are inactive: is it a lack of parks / playing fields / etc in their neighborhood? Is it a lack of awareness of such resources? And so on. Fair enough; hopefully they’ll figure it out. I don’t see how they’ve gathered that data from the census, myself, *shrug*. I put her in touch with one of the guys running WellFit Glossop – a group trying to help inactive people get active seems like it’ll be well-placed to know why people haven’t been being active.

A lady from Friends of Manor Park spoke up at this point to tell us that they’re lined up to acquire the second bowling green in Manor Park from the council soon, because it’s not used much apparently, and while they’re still very much in the early stages of thinking about what to do with it, one thought they’ve had is to make it into an adult exercise space.

I also learned that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) has apparently skuppered the plans that HPBC and Glossop SOUL (Save Our Unique Library) had for SOUL to take over Victoria Hall (in the same way that Glossopdale Trust is working to take over the Town Hall). HPBC says that DCC has assured all that the library will remain in Victoria Hall, and instead of spending £2 million on building a new library 100 yards away, DCC will now instead spend it catching up on the backlog of maintenance it should’ve been keeping up with all along. As such, HPBC says that there’s no need for an asset transfer to the community, so instead they’ll be figuring out how best to improve Victoria Hall. SOUL is taking the longer view of things, and would like to run Victoria Hall, taking money in from letting out other spaces in the hall (it has three floors; the library occupies one) to secure the library’s future in perpetuity, being able to subsidize the library should the need arise in the future. After all, as the representative rightly pointed out, administrations and budgets come and go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the asset transfer will happen. Hopefully SOUL will at least be included in the planning for the improvement work to the building.

I touched base afterwards with the folks from High Peak Access; when I was responding to the planning application for a new housing development here in Glossop, I was disturbed by the narrowness of the sidewalks (which should never be called pavements, because pavement goes on the road, and thus calling them pavements makes drivers think they should drive and park on the sidewalks). The first thing that leapt out in my mind was whether a wheelchair could even get down the sidewalk. I got the width of the wheelchair of someone I know (69cm / 27″), and found it to be just narrower than these proposed sidewalks (75cm / 29.5″). However, that’s just a sample set of one, so instead of citing that in my objection, I searched online for some credible source to tell me how wide paths should be for wheelchair users; I found one from the Irish government that said 180cm/71″ is the minimum for two wheelchairs or the-incredibly-numerous-in-Glossop prams (strollers) to pass each other, or 150cm/59″ is the minimum for when there’s an obstruction temporarily (like a tree). There’s a massive difference between 180cm/71″ and 75cm/29.5″!

Anyway, what I was hoping to learn was if there was a domestic thing I could point to in the future, and he readily helped me with that, showing me the BSI 8300 [pdf] British Standard. He also invited me to send my concerns about this development to the group, since he didn’t think they’d heard anything about it yet. I did, and was annoyed when I did because it involved re-reading my letter of objection to see that I’d urged HPBC to consult with this group – obviously that fell on deaf ears. To be clear, I’m actually in favor of the housing development; I will be overjoyed if any of the mold- and rat-infested abandoned factories in town ever get torn down. There are just a few niggles I have such that I hope the council puts conditions on the decision to make the development better – like appropriate-width sidewalks. Going back a few paragraphs: narrow sidewalks that are covered over with cars (because the roads are too narrow and there’s a dearth of driveways and garages) are probably not helping people get active. It’s one thing to have this problem where the houses and roads are 300+ years old, but there’s no excuse when you’re building a housing estate from scratch.

All in all, a good meeting; well worth attending. I look forward to the next one.

Trip to Manchester Art Gallery

 Posted by at 01:23 on 30 January 2014
Jan 302014

As I mentioned last week, I went to Manchester Art Gallery with Glossopdale WI, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Gallery of Craft and Design. I got completely absorbed in that section, and took a ton of photos.

Upon arrival, we stopped in the cafe for a drink first, and then made our way upstairs. Be sure to click on the photo & then the right arrows to follow the narrative.

First round of photos …

I’ve done what I can with these photos; they’re not brilliant, but these things are just too neat to not try to share. The lighting is absolutely terrible in that room – I was struggling to see many things with my eyeballs, forget about through the lens. Things behind glass are always difficult to photograph; moreso when they have no opaque backing, making the background difficult to control. I tend to prefer not to use my flash on old things, though I except certain materials like silver where I don’t think it makes a difference. And then, just for kicks, my camera batteries ran out at lunchtime, so the rest of the photos were taken with my cell phone – thankfully it usually takes acceptable photos.

Thoughts on Grayson Perry’s exhibit …

That’s all I had time for in the hour before we were meeting back in the cafe for lunch. After waiting an eternity to pay for a simple pre-made sandwich, I listened to the others discuss the tapestry exhibit they’d gone to see. I’m glad I did; one friend observed that she feels like the artist is trying to shake Britain by the shoulders and tell us to wake up and realize how petty and vanishingly small the differences that we latch onto are. Later, after I’d gone to see it myself, I found I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. Included in the exhibit was also the set of drawings A Rake’s Progress, which was very interesting (you can see the whole thing there at that link).

I found the tapestries, which are very garish and cartoonish, giving caricatures really, illustrative of what the perceived differences are between classes. When the mother and father feel like they’ve moved from working class to middle class, the cleanliness of their place is highlighted, particularly by the mother vacuuming the astro-turf lawn. Apparently everything being perfectly clean and tidy is a strong impression the working class has of how the middle class is.

I don’t expect I’ll ever understand the signs for classes here – in large part because I don’t actually care about social class, but rather whether an individual is a classy and decent person. I also find class is something that won’t be discussed, generally. Apparently there was a strong message put out in the 80s and 90s that modern Britain is a classless society, classes no longer exist, etc. It didn’t work, of course. Instead, now class simply isn’t talked about. When I raise the subject for possible discussion, I’m always met with the refrain that Britain doesn’t have classes anymore, and the conversation moves swiftly to some other subject. And yet, when I observe closely, I see that social class is very much still noticed and very much affects opportunities and people.

I do wish it wasn’t this way. I fervently wish we could just take individuals as they are, and not feel this need to put them into bins, stereotyping them in order to simplify and hasten our process of (mis)understanding them. This is what underlies all stereotypes, whether they come from class, occupation, sex, age, weight, color, height, proclivity to wear polka dots, or anything else under the sun. We won’t, of course, because there are many people and our energy is finite. *sigh*

After lunch photos …

After lunch, though, I went back to the Gallery of Craft and Design to pick up where I’d left off. I got to the Grayson Perry exhibit later on, and then to the Dutch paintings exhibit. More photos from the craft and design gallery:

I didn’t take photos of anything else in the building; I was tired of taking photos by then.

After gallery photos …

I left the gallery at about 3:30 because I was tired and because I wanted to make it to a shop to price fabric for a project I’m considering. I wandered through Chinatown, and then groped fabric, and then headed home. A few more photos:

Then I headed home! Hope you enjoyed my day out as much as I did!

Foodie … Saturday

 Posted by at 16:49 on 25 January 2014
Jan 252014

Yesterday I got engrossed in researching hospitals and specialists for this ongoing thing I have (no diagnosis yet), and pretty much everything else went by the wayside, including this post. Hey ho. So, what have we been cooking this past fortnight or so?

First, an aside about brining

Well, first up, there was that lovely turkey dinner I mentioned at the end of the last Foodie Friday entry. I’d said we were just putting the turkey in the brine. The brine makes such a difference; I highly recommend brining any bird you roast, and pork as well. It makes it far more moist. A brine is a saltwater solution; brining is putting something in a saltwater solution. Heat the water first so that the salt dissolves and floats about, or else it sits in an inert pile on the bottom of the container and the whole endeavor is useless. Of course, then you need to cool the brine before you add the meat so that it stays at a sub-40F temperature, which is useful for those who like to avoid food poisoning.

Many people I’ve come across think that the purpose of brining is to make the meat salty; it shouldn’t do that, provided the excess salt is rinsed off the surface when pulled out of the brine. What happens when you brine something? Fasten your seat belt: here’s the science of it:

Brining meat adds moisture to the meat through osmosis. Osmosis happens when water flows from a lower concentration of a solution to a higher concentration through a semipermeable membrane. In meat, this membrane is the plasma membrane that surrounds the individual cells. When meat is placed in a brine, the meat’s cell fluids are less concentrated than the salt water in the brining solution. Water flows out of the cells in the meat and salt flows in. The salt then dissolves some of the fiber proteins, and the meat’s cell fluids become more concentrated, thus drawing water back in. Brining adds salt and water to the cells so that when the meat is cooked and water is squeezed out, there is still water left in the cells because water was added before cooking. [Source]

The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating. [Source]

If your brine includes flavorful things (herbs, spices, etc), then that flavor gets sucked into the meat as well, just like in marinades.

Before I leave the subject of brining, there is this funny anecdote regarding brine (though of a different sort).

Right, your lesson for the day is over now – on with the recipes!

Tasty food!

First up, that roast turkey dinner:

  • Roast Turkey – We quite like Alton Brown’s recipe, though we’ve had to adjust it, of course, to suit our cooler & turkey sizes. We stick with the salt & water concentration and the time, but all the other ingredients are subject to change based on what we have on hand and what I remember to buy. A slice or two of lemon in the cavity goes quite nicely, I’ve found.
  • Green bean casserole – the bog standard one. We took my parents’ advice and added one cup of shredded cheddar cheese to it this time, and I liked it! Chris couldn’t tell a difference. We’ll keep doing it. 🙂
  • Smashed potatoes – always a favorite.

We had some plain vegetables with that meal, as well. It was all tasty. 🙂 Looking through the rest of the menu, some highlights are:

  • Ouefs Enterallies – The title is French, and I knew the first word meant eggs, but haven’t been able to figure out the second word. I thrust it at a friend who happened to be visiting the afternoon before we had this, because she loves to visit France, and she came up with some form of “whole” (y’know, “entire”) from it. You do start with whole boiled eggs, so I guess that’s it, but that’s very boring, so it shall continue to be known in our house by the amusing nickname it already had: Egg Entrails.
         Despite that unappetizing nickname, it’s actually very tasty, and pretty quick to put together, particularly if you’ve pre-boiled the eggs and keep bacon bits on hand in the freezer like we do. It’s a definite favorite here. It’s also almost a one-dish meal; we had some fruit on the side and it was fab. This would make a wonderful brunch, too.
  • Southwest Breakfast Scramble – I recently found this great blog, Budget Bytes; all the similar food blogs I’ve found before (trying to keep recipes as cheap as possible) have had recipes that really didn’t appeal, and of course the prices all vary by location so that bit’s no use anyway. But this one has recipes that appeal, so I’ve been trying them, and so far they’ve all been keepers – usually we decide we’ll tweak it a bit, but that’s fine.
         With some modification, this one’s quite tasty – and definitely gets an upvote for being very quick and easy!
  • Pot Roast – Everyone has a different way to make pot roast; we like this one.
  • Brown butter pasta – Always a favorite. As written, it’s vegetarian, but we like to add some beef to it. We had this the night after the pot roast and threw some of that in with it.
  • Taco pork bowls – We started with this recipe (another from Budget Bytes), but didn’t have the chicken on hand that I thought we did, so used pulled pork instead. Since it was already cooked, we didn’t do the slow cooking; we just heated it all through while the rice cooked. Tasty, so we’ll try it again as a slow cook meal – and probably have it again as a quick & easy meal this way, as well.
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – Finally got around to trying these, and they’re pretty good! They certainly won’t replace our usual oatmeal raisin cookies, but they make a nice change.

That’s about all of note, so I shall close here. Hope you’re inspired to go spend some time in the kitchen! 🙂

Web Wednesday

 Posted by at 22:59 on 22 January 2014
Jan 222014

Another roundup of interesting and amusing things I’ve found on the web. Nothing else in the last week because I’ve been working with Chris to create a separate Glossop Events website, which is up now, wooohooo! We also made other adjustments to the world of Glossop Events, which I’ll let you go explore if you’re curious, and quit boring you with it if you’re not.

I’ve been to Manchester Art Gallery today with Glossopdale WI, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Gallery of Craft and Design. I’d looked at the website ahead of time and found and read the tumblr (which is sort of like a blog) for the exhibit Home, Land, and Sea: Art in the Netherlands 1600-1800, which did bring that gallery alive to me. I had, however, completely missed that this museum was on the top floor, and only found it by accident (I’d heard wrong which floor the exhibit we were supposed to be there to see, A Vanity of Small Differences). I got absorbed on the top floor, but did eventually make it down to look at those tapestries. Anyway, look forward to a write up of that soon – hopefully some of the photos came out.

Onwards with Web Wednesday!

Not sure which caption is best for this octopus – “Come and live with me under the sea!” or “Sir, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Cthulu?”

Some butterflies to remind us that our antipodean friends are enjoying summer at the moment. The caption tells us what they’re up to – fascinating.

Telephone engineer high above the streets of London, 1930s. Health & safety? What elf’n’safety? 😉

I like Kim Kommando. I think more people need, still today, to be out telling everyone how not to blow up their computer. I still find far too much fear of computers among my friends and acquaintances.

Some of these Victorian slang terms are amusing and/or good and should definitely be brought back. My favorites include:

  • Bags o’ mystery – Sausages. Still applies, really.
  • Butter upon bacon – Too much extravagance. This meal we had shortly after looking at this list really was, because it calls for far too much butter.
  • Daddles – Hands. “Jazz daddles” needs to take the internet by storm!
  • Doing the bear – Courting that involves hugging. Courting is another word that should come back as well.

I love auroras. This collection of time-lapse videos of auroras is a lovely interlude.

The world’s largest reflection pool of sorts, found in Bolivia, created when it rains onto the world’s largest salt flat. They use this place to calibrate satellite altimeters!

A brewery in Missouri is run by a guy with common sense and a sense of humor, who replied in a brilliant way to a ridiculous cease and desist letter from Starbucks’ lawyers here.

Web Wednesday

 Posted by at 10:01 on 15 January 2014
Jan 152014

Welcome to another installment in this series. I’ll try a different format this time – just text with links, taking a page from my friend SilverAdept.

Click for more …

Trees made into art. I particularly like the living trees made into things – numbers 5, 6, and 7 on that list. You can see more of Axel Erlandson’s work (#5, my favorite) on the slideshows (click the right arrow just above the upper left of the photos to see the next photo) starting here, here, and here, and learnd more about what came of it here. Imagine the effort involved in growing a chair, a ladder, and all those other elaborate shapes!

For 91 Days – Two guys who live in a new city every three months, and write about it. They’re currently in the Yucatan (Mexico). I intend to give their Savannah blog a good read sometime.

When did Americans lose their British accents? The answer is more complicated than that, and more complicated than this short post tells us, as well, since there are myriad American and British accents, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

I’m waiting for the four horsemen to come out of this photo.

I really like this cutting board.

Here, have some cute kittens.

Now have some cats fighting over the heating pad. Ah, sibling rivalry.

I often struggle to understand what others say in loud situations; apparently it’s because I don’t lip-read (I prefer to look at others’ eyes). I also learned that talking to myself is a good thing, and 75% of Americans have admitted to using their cell phones in the bathroom here.

These pictures of a river of fog filling the Grand Canyon are stunning.

Have you ever seen light pillars? The caption tells you what they are, too.

This will only be of local interest, and even then not universally, but I liked the Glossop Gazette’s answer to Howard Town Mill here (or here is a screen capture in case the tweet’s ever deleted). For the backstory, read here and here, and if you’re still curious, just do a search on the Gazette’s website for Howardtown. It’s a lengthy saga.

For something happy, I quite enjoyed this: 11 Reasons to be Optimistic in 2014. We’re living longer, more of us are literate, we’re winning against various diseases, and we’re making strides against poverty and hunger. All good!

Bits and pieces of life

 Posted by at 00:28 on 15 January 2014
Jan 152014

I’m afraid you get no Travel Tuesday post today. On the bright side, my Glossop Events are all caught up, at long last! Perhaps I’ll do better and not let it get so far behind that it takes 12 solid hours to catch it up next time…. hah, that was nice wishful thinking.

Dribs and drabs …

In good news, Chris is making progress with his twitter post scheduler for me, so I should soon take far less time to schedule the twitter posts. The best option I’ve found so far takes at least 90 seconds to reload between each tweet – when it doesn’t spaz out and go blank and require me to relogin and start from scratch, which is a good 4 minute delay. This stretches out the job rather unnecessarily. And yes, this does mean the other options I’ve found were actually worse; topping that list is TweetDeck, Twitter’s own app. Thankfully, I have a Chris who’ll write me something that works properly, paring this job down for me immensley. I’m also developing a better system myself – good ol Excel to the rescue.

There’s an archery course starting next month in town, which I’m giving serious thought to taking up. It’s not that dear, and I’ve always wanted to take up archery. No idea where I’d have to go to continue playing with a bow and arrow – probably somewhere I’d have to drive to. Really need to focus on getting that UK car sorted out.

We had sunshine yesterday – all day! I made the most of it, enjoying my walk down to the post office to mail a package, to the store to pick up bread, and back home again – about four miles in all. That’s more than I’ve done in awhile; the dreary days of winter turn me into such a hermit. Happily, I’ve noticed it doesn’t go full dark now til about 4:30, instead of about 3:45, as it was doing. Hooray, longer days are a-coming!

We got some daylight-spectrum light bulbs recently to try to improve the light in our home. They go in any lamp with a screw or bayonet cap just like ordinary light bulbs, but the light is supposed to be much more close to the sun’s rays. Apparently sunlight is blue, because these bulbs are blue – and it does, in fact, match the daylight that comes through the window those precious few hours a day. It also gives much better color accuracy than our old lights, which are quite yellow: with the yellow lights, I can’t actually tell apart the gold and silver coins of the realm, should I need to do any change-wrangling at night. With the blue daylight ones, I can. So, win. But the blue trips me out in the floorlamp, so the one behind my computer stays a daylight bulb, and for now we switch the light bulb in the floorlamp between the blue one during the day (when it really works as an extra window, giving us that extra daylight) and a yellow one at night.

I’ve finally just about devised an Excel workbook that works for me for a budget. I’ve been trying for years, and finally the one I used in 2013 worked. I’ve improved it a bit, linking things up and so forth, but I think it finally works. At last! I looked back through old ones for some reason recently, and I was horrified by the first few stabs. It’s crossed my mind to make a blank version (of the good one, obviously) to post online in case it’s helpful for others, but it’s so personalized to what your exact bills are, I’m not sure that’ll work. A sample might be easier to do. Hm.

Tomorrow’s WI Day for me: a meeting in the morning and a meeting in the evening. We have seven WIs in Glossopdale, and five have their meetings today, tomorrow, or the next day. I’ll never understand why they didn’t spread them out more. Ho hum. Anyway, my usual day is generally shifted later than most peoples’, so a meeting that starts at 9:30am means a rather early morning for me. I am looking forward to seeing my friends, and also to this speaker. Faye Hartley is going to tell us about the old Finlay McKinlay’s, the old chemist shop (pharmacy) in the centre of town. I’ve heard so many little dribs and drabs about that place over the years; it’ll be nice to have one coherent talk. The speaker at the evening meeting will be sharing his experiences of being a mystery shopper; I missed the meeting when he spoke to my other WI, but heard rave reviews of his talk, so I look forward to that, as well.

I’ve recently dropped from being a member at three WIs to two. I found my attendance was very spotty at all of them, and realized it was that I was, essentially, doing the same thing over and over again. The format’s the same at all of these: a speaker for about 40% of the meeting, business for about 40% of the meeting, and informal chatting (and tea, you mustn’t forget the tea!) for about 20% of the meeting. The business is largely the same from one local WI to another – though when we have discussions, such as for the resolutions in May, it’s interesting to hear the different focuses the different groups take. The speakers make the rounds, so I have heard several speakers twice and some three times (and skipped some meetings just to not hear that speaker a third time). Because my attendance was spotty at the monthly meetings, it was spotty on group outings (since you sign up for those at the monthly meetings). The outings are where you really bond and spend time with the fellow members – where you make and maintain friendships. Since making and keeping friends is my primary reason for joining, I decided I needed to have less spotty attendance – and the only way I see myself actually doing that is to have less feeling of doing the same thing over and over!

Thursday night will be my book club meeting. I finished the book ages ago; I hope I can remember it well enough to discuss it properly! It was An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge. It was just okay; I wouldn’t recommend bothering with it. We’ve been struggling a bit lately to think of books to read; this one came out of my Book Lover’s Companion: What to Read Next. If you have any suggestions, please do tell me!

Anyhoo, off to bed for me!