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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars November wrap-up
Sunday 1st December 2019 7:36 pm

This month I watched How to Train your Dragon.

Before I saw it I knew nothing about it, except for the title and that it was animated. And it wasn't what I expected at first. Not least because the beginning of the film had a lot of loud battles and mumbling. But eventually it got onto some dragon training and I liked it.

I don't really have anything more than that to say. It wasn't that deep - it was a nice film you watch for an hour and a half without needing to engage your brain.

I don't feel the need to watch the sequels, though. I felt it ended in the right place and doesn't need any more story than that.

I'll give it a 9/10.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 6th November 2019 7:35 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Look Back in Hunger by Jo Brand. This is Jo Brand's autobiography, which came out in 2009. I was in the library taking some books back, didn't intend to get anything out but then I saw this. I was interesting - all about her childhood and how she ended up being a psychiatric nurse, and stops when she gets into comedy.

What I'm Currently Reading
Between the Stops by Sandi Toksvig. She mentioned this on The Last Leg last week. I paused it, looked it up, discovered it sounded interesting and it's on Kobo, so I bought it. It's facts about the areas of London she passes through between home and work, interspersed with stories from her life. Just the sort of thing you'd expect her to write really.

What I'm Reading Next
The Book of the Year 2019 by No Such Thing as a Fish. I've read the previous two books of the year and they were interesting and funny. But they are thick hardbacks, so this time I've gone for an ebook. We'll see if the illustrations come out just as well as on paper.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – November
Monday 4th November 2019 7:02 pm

We're down to the part of the year where I have no time, so this month I am going to watch a film: How To Train Your Dragon.

I don't know anything about it beyond the title, which sounds good, and that my sister told me I forget how many years ago to watch it because I'd like it. And I never got round to it. So this month, I will.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – October wrap-up
Sunday 3rd November 2019 4:02 pm

This month I learnt how to do stand-up comedy. Well, I went to a workshop on it. Which was four hours and I thought at first that was a long time. Turned out it was a very short time. The person who taught it usually does six week workshops and it would have been good to have gone home to write some jokes. Being given ten minutes to come up with some on the spot is quite hard!

In other words, I enjoyed it.

I particularly enjoyed learning about how jokes are constructed, It's a lot simpler than I thought it was. To understand, at any rate. Writing them is a bit harder.

I was less interested in the performing aspect, but then I am just less interested in performing anyway. But what we learnt in the workshop was backed up by something I read the other day in Jo Brand's autobiography where she said that people she knew on the circuit would do terribly and then suddenly break though. They didn't change their material, just the way they delivered it.

Since the workshop I have been working on my jokes. Maybe I'll inflict them on people sometime. If there's another (longer) workshop I'd probably do it.

I give the experience 10/10.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars October
Tuesday 1st October 2019 6:20 pm

This month I am going to learn how to do stand-up comedy.

I am not going to do any stand-up and I have no intention of doing it for real. But I do love stand-up comedy and it's an opportunity to understand how to write jokes and how to perform them. And maybe end up with a greater appreciation of stand-up.

I am sort of regretting booking it because I know I will be so nervous as I am terrible at writing jokes and hate doing presentations. I am just reminding myself that a) it's non-refundable and b) at least I'll be a bit less crap at the end of it.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars September wrap-up
Monday 30th September 2019 7:37 pm

This month I went to a murder mystery.

I really enjoyed it. It was science-based, so we got to do some forensics (although I was disappointed when I found the microscopes were fake). We saw some statements and there was some digital evidence. Then we had to work out whodunnit. Which was the hard part.

We got whodunnit right, but the people behaved in such odd ways that we thought that maybe the victim had been trying to kill the murderer. I'm still puzzling over some of the odd decisions. Although deciding to kill someone is also pretty odd.

When we left we got goody bag (like going to a child's birthday party, only with no cake). It included whodunnit and details of all the evidence. And it does all makes sense. But still doesn't make sense of some of the odd behaviours.

But I really enjoyed it anyway and would definitely do another one sometime. So 9/10.

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Friday 27th September 2019 7:00 pm

I keep meaning to post but I seem to spend all my time doing life admin and I spent half of August ill. At some point I will post about my washing machine saga. Most people don't take four weeks to go from buying a washing machine to having a washing machine, but I managed to.

I did write two fics.

One I found when sorting out my hard drive. I'd written a whole first draft back in March and was under 1000 words, so it didn't take long to edit. I ended up with Banned Books, an Ian/Barbara fic.

And then there was Remix, which I was determined to do this year as I didn't do it last year. Having recently watched Star Trek 2009 I put it down as one of my offers. And I very handily got someone who has written stuff that's good but isn't really my thing. Which is perfect for remix, because I decide generally what it's about and go off and write something that is my thing. In theory.

The first draft I wrote was 2100 words (or 21 kittens, since Written Kitten helped me with those words). And was a sequel. Which should have been obvious while I was writing it, because I kept stopping to check details.

My first idea had been to go epistolary, but discarded it because I didn't think I could make it interesting. But I decided to try it anyway and discovered that it would make an extremely dull fic.

Part of the problem was that the original was Kirk/Bones and I was trying to find a way not to write it. Once I stopped and asked myself why I couldn't write it I found there was no reason. And I also redefined the plot from "Kirk gets given a baby, he wants to keep it" to "Kirk gets given a baby, it comes between him and Bones" which gave me the opportunity to make one big change from the original and then the fic went a lot easier after that.

I ended up with Baby, Baby (Between You and Me), a remix of Engagement by celli.

The two other good things about the fic (aside from how much I love that title) is that when I was casting about for tags to add I discovered "Accidental Baby Acquisition" which is the best tag ever. And also I have a square on gen prompt bingo called "Georgia" - the name Kirk gives the baby.

sanguinity remixed Alien Estate (aka the one where Alan tries to sell his house despite aliens interfering) into No. 36 Bannerman Road which features more people discovering why you don't want to live over the road from Sarah Jane Smith.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 25th September 2019 8:05 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. It's been so long since I read His Dark Materials that I'd forgotten about daemons and how they worked, and had to look them up. Which did help me get into it. But I struggled in the second half of the book when it went really out there with the underground waterfall and fairies and other weird stuff. It was just a bit much of a stretch for me. Especially as the bits I like is that it's set in a world like ours but different.

Although the most freaky bit was finishing it Monday night and waking up Tuesday morning to it chucking it down, when the second half of the book involved a lot of rain and a massive flood.

What I'm Currently Reading
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. The ebook version, because the paperback isn't out until next year, the hardback isn't out until next week and is too heavy to read in bed. I'm not very far through but I am enjoying it. I re-read Carry On recently and I'm glad I did because now I remember the important parts.

A Jeeves and Wooster book. It's green. I am struggling a bit with it because they are just all the same. And I looked at my sister's bookshelf the last time I was there and saw how many there are to go.

What I'm Reading Next
I went on a bit of a book-buying spree. Having discovered there was a new Murder Most Unladylike book out, I bought that. And discovered the short books in the series are pretty cheap, so I bought the two I don't have. And I idly looked at my bookshelves and idly wondered if there were any more books in the Hero's Guide series by Christopher Healy and discovered there is another! So I also have that.

Not to mention some more of Mrs Beeton so I can get a bingo in LJ Book Bingo sometime this year.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – September
Wednesday 4th September 2019 7:20 pm

This month I'm going for another experience - this time a murder mystery evening. I've always wanted to do one because it sounds fun. I don't hold out much hope of working out whodunnit (I'm better at coming up with ridiculous theories than the actual murder when I watch murder mysteries) but we will see.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars August wrap-up
Tuesday 3rd September 2019 7:12 pm

This month I tried glamping.

It was over the bank holiday weekend and I was really lucky with the weather. It was hot in the day and not too cold at night (for the end of August) so it was the best weather for camping really. And I... survived it.

Some aspects of it were good. I was at a folk festival and it was good to be on the festival site so I didn't have to worry about getting back into town at night. It was good to be close to the rest of the team I was dancing with who were camping. And interesting to see how they did it and all the stuff they brought.

But I hated the change in temperature and how cold it was in the tent (colder than it was outside) and yet how hot I was when I woke up despite it being so cold I put gloves on to read in bed in the mornings while I warmed my clothes up in bed. I really hated the 15 minute round trip to the toilet at 5:30am while knowing I was never going to get back to sleep (dawn was pretty, but I'd rather have had more sleep). I hated listening to people in other tents snore, and the generator I could hear at night when the music stopped. And having to listen to music almost constantly.

I'm glad I've had the experience, so now I know what it's like. But I am happy not to do it again.

I'm giving it 3/10.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 21st August 2019 8:43 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
A whole load: I got a Kobo ebook reader so I can buy books on the Kobo site or get books from the library and just press a button the ebook reader and there they are.

Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller.
Despite being a Discovery book it's all about Pike's Enterprise during Discovery's series 1. I liked it. There was a lot in there that fed into series 2. It had a lot of Pike and a lot of Number One and a lot of Spock, what's not to like? (well, see below)

Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack.
The end of The Enterprise War mentioned that this book also had Pike and Spock in it. And it involved an incident that was mentioned in The Enterprise War. But I struggled to finish this one. I didn't like the plot and I disagreed with the characterisation of Pike in it. This book was written before we know some stuff in series 1, but I was fine with the contradictions, but even if the only thing you know about Pike is from The Cage, I just can't see him happily following orders to kill a whole load of civilians on a planet.

The book also involved the Shenzhou, which was weird because I was used to Emperor Georgiou. And it had a lot of Michael and Saru - the two characters I hate most on Discovery. Except that I actually didn't mind Michael in this. I think because her characterisation was consistent throughout and with her later mutiny. And also because she was very Vulcan, which she wasn't enough in Discovery (aside from the very first scene of the first episode, which was the only time I liked her).

Star Trek: Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack.
I wasn't 100% sure about reading this one because I don't like Tilly. But my main problem with Tilly is that it feels like the writers are saying "she's just like the sort of person who likes Star Trek therefore you will like her." Therefore, I hate her. But if I didn't feel like they were doing that, then I could maybe like her. I took a chance on this book because a) I thought Una could make me like her and b) it's set in Tilly's past so she'll be different and less likeable. And it turned out, I did like her in this. If I never watch another episode of Discovery I might continue to like her.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella.
This was alright, it was a quick read that required no brain. The only thing that got me about it was the man that the heroine ended up with had to be quite a bit older than her and I can't imagine that her housemates wouldn't bring that up, given the other things they say about men. And yet they didn't. And it doesn't say how old he is - I looked back to when he was introduced and there's not much of a description at all.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey.
I wasn't too sure about this one when I started. It's about a murder at a magical school. Although the school is a lot like an ordinary American high school. The main character is a private detective, who is not magical, but investigates. It took me a while to get used to the characters, including the main one, but once I did I really got into it and enjoyed it. I had no idea who the murderer was, or why, until just before it was revealed.

What I'm Currently Reading
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
Because I fancied something that didn't take much effort and it was available as a library ebook. And just so easy to borrow.

What I'm Reading Next
Mrs Beeton's Every day Cookbook, so I can finally finish LJ Book Bingo.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 7th August 2019 8:16 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Straight Outta Crawley by Romesh Ranganathan. This is his autobiography. I really enjoyed it. He had a way of telling all his embarrassing stories so they were funny. What I found interesting was when he was working at a boring, soul-destroying job he discovered that having a toilet cry helped (it was once he was having to do it regularly that he realised that wasn't sustainable and became a teacher instead). I didn't know the toilet cry was a thing that existed out in the world in general.

What I Am Currently Reading
Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller. I only discovered this existed last week - but then it did only come out last week. Although it's a Discovery book it's all about the Enterprise - Discovery people only get mentioned in it. I decided not to wait to see if the library got round to getting it and bought it. And then spent a whole evening trying to get it on my ebook reader because Adobe Digital Editions decided it didn't like it for no reason. I have now bought a Kobo, although I am reading this book on my Sony ebook reader. I can't compare them properly until I have the (red) cover for the Kono, but on balance the Sony is a better ebook reader.

What I Am Reading Next
Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey. This was a book mentioned in the podcast Writing Excuses. Their description was basically: murder mystery at a magic school, written for adults. I was sold. And it's finally at my local library, waiting for me to pick it up.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – August
Thursday 1st August 2019 7:54 pm

This month I am going glamping. Something which I am curious about but never done.

I've never even been camping, unless you count sleeping in someone's garden once as a child. Or going camping for the day (it was August, it was freezing).

I suspect that my enjoyment of it will depend a lot on the weather.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars July wrap-up
Wednesday 31st July 2019 7:54 pm

This month I was reccing at [info]tardis-library. I have done six recs, which is more than one a week, so that's pretty good.

At first I thought I'd rec some old favourites. And then discovered I couldn't remember any authors or titles, only bits of what might have gone on in them. But then I discovered I have favourited some stories on Teaspoon. So long ago that I've forgotten the stories completely, so I have really enjoyed re-reading them (they're still good!). So I have plenty of recs to keep me going.

I also managed to get three in a row on my bingo card, which is generally as much as I get on a row. We'll see if I manage to get a bingo.

I'll give this 10/10 and keep reccing - maybe try and post one a week. At that rate I have enough favourited stories on Teaspoon to keep me going for the rest of the year.

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What I’ve been up to
Sunday 21st July 2019 5:10 pm

I've been doing lots of coding. I have a whole list of projects because it's doing things that help me learn them. There was also tennis, until it finished last weekend 🙁

I signed up for [info]remixrevival. I missed it last year because it was just too hot and now it's about to be too hot again... But only for a few days and it'll have probably improved by the time assignments go out. Otherwise the evenings aren't too bad - this is the one time of year I am glad I live in a cold house.

And then there were the house-based sagas...

The toilet handle was loose. I looked in the cistern and found that the screwy bit on the inside that keeps the handle tight was loose. My toilet is the wrong shape and I couldn't tighten it, so decided I needed to take it off and start screwing it on again. So I unsecrewed the screw holding the handle in place, went to take the screwy bit off and then discovered I didn't need to undo the screw.

So I tightened up the handle, went to put the screw back on and dropped it into the cistern. I didn't fancy putting my hand in that water so I decided I'd flush it and pick it out when it was empty. After the flush I discovered two things:

  1. The cistern doesn't fully empty when it flushes
  2. I am an idiot

Handily, I had some random screws, so I used one of them to screw it down.

The other saga was with the smoke detector. I have two in each location (due to previous 3am smoke detector saga). One plugs into the mains (which came with the house), the other has a non-replaceable battery (which came from the fire brigade at 3am). One of them started chirping when I was frying stuff. Chirping means it was a loud beep, but not as deafening as the smoke alarm going off.

That was annoying, but then it started chirping when I was boiling pasta. It turned out to be the battery one and the way to silence it is to press the test button. Which deafens you with six beeps. Given that you can only do it ten times, and in total it probably only chirped six times, I only tried that once.

Looking at the manual, for chirping it said to check it's definitely the smoke alarm making the noise and check the location. Well, the location had been fine up until then and my hall is not that big and there's no a great deal of places to put the smoke alarm(s).

I thought maybe it was the cooker, so gave it a thorough clean. Not only did it not help but then it did some chirping when I wasn't even cooking. I looked online to find that it wasn't the battery, because then it would chirp every 30 seconds (it was more than a minute between chirps) and it was probably faulty.

So I got rid of it. It spent some time in my garage (where no one would hear it chirping, if it still did it when not attached to the base plate) and then got taken away with the electrical recycling.

I now only have the one smoke alarm downstairs, which is sufficient. And a look on Amazon tells me these fire brigade smoke alarms are terrible and often have a crazy short battery life (even though it's supposed to be ten years). So I'm looking forward to the other one dying...

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – July
Monday 15th July 2019 8:14 pm

Now that Wimbledon is over I have time to do something new this month. And it's going to be reccing something for [info]tardis-library. I have a bingo card, so I will rec things to fill squares on it. I'm not going to say I'll get a bingo by the deadline because it's me and I do anti-bingos. But I will rec something.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 10th July 2019 8:17 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton. I read this for the horror square in LJ book bingo. It was short, which was good, and the horror part didn't give me nightmares. Having said that, that part that was most horrible was, I suspect, not the part he thought it was, but the very first part when someone is executed for murder (totally legally, because it's set in USA).

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. I read this for the chosen based on the cover square in LJ book bingo. And it turned out to be a good choice because I loved it and got through the whole thing in three days. It's ordinary fiction, albeit with a ghost and the whole thing where only one person can see and hear another is something I love. Also there was an interesting mystery. I already have a hold on another of her books that looks like it has an interesting mystery (and I liked the first three chapters I could read as a sample on the library ebook site).

What I'm Currently Reading
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by PG Wodehouse. It's Jeeves and Wooster, all pretty standard stuff really. And so far, almost the same plot as the last one I read.

What I'm Reading Next
Mrs Beeton's Every Day Cookery for my last LJ book bingo square! Although since it has 568 pages of small, very densely packed writing, I expect it will take a while.

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars June wrap-up
Sunday 30th June 2019 2:38 pm

This month I've been trying pilates.

I started by going to youtube and trying something that was popular and not too long. And the first one I did bored me so much that I didn't want to do any more. It was just the sort of exercises I've done before and made me feel like I'm stretched now, time to do something proper.

But I tried again and was looking for videos that don't involve lying down (I don't know what I have against lying down exercises, but I just don't like them). I came across Cassey Ho. I like that she acknowledged that the exercises she was doing hurt after a while. And that she counted down to when we were going to end them - without that I tend to find that I give up just before the instructor does. She's also really positive and acts like she's in the room with you, saying that you're doing well. But manages for that not to be eye-rolly (which is a very fine line). I did also discover that the 3 minute workouts might be short, but are hard...

In conclusion, I ended up enjoying it and will continue to do it. It's just a case of choosing what exercises I want to do.

I'll give it 8/10.

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 26th June 2019 10:03 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Sun and Moon, Ice and Fire by Jessica Day George. I've read her other fairy tale retellings and saw this one and thought I should read it sometime. And then LJ book bingo has a square for fairy tale retellings and my library had this in ebook form. So I read it in about two days. It's based on a Norwegian fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I don't know how much like the original this is, but I really enjoyed it. And learned some Norwegian words.

What I'm Currently Reading
A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin. I started this a while ago and then stopped to read other books, but now I am going to finish it (I have less than 100 pages to go).

What I'm Reading Next
A few books to finish off my LJ book bingo squares:

Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton for the horror square. I wasn't originally going to do this square because I don't do horror. But it is short, the sample was interesting and the reviews describe it more as a campfire tale. I just need to pick the right time to read it, so it doesn't give me nightmares.

Animal Farm by George Orwell for the banned book square. It's one I've been meaning to re-read for a while because I've only read it once before and don't remember it that well.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella for the chosen based on the cover square. I can tell you that it's green and there's a modern girl and a 20s girl on the cover, but that's it. I will be reading it once the previous person in the queue has finished with it.

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What I’ve been doing
Sunday 9th June 2019 9:13 pm

A lot of programming stuff. I have found that learning things that I'm already using at work has been such a help - there are some things I never knew existed and now I could change them to make them so much simpler. So it's useful and interesting and fun, but also time-consuming.

Tennis. The French Open just finished, so I've been listening to that, when it's been on the radio/online. I watched it, on mute, for five minutes and that was enough - the camera work just does not do me any good. It was exciting and now we are on to grass, which mostly happens not on the radio during the day when I'm at work. Until we get to Wimbledon, then there's eight hours a day of it to listen to.

Singing and dancing. Choir goes in terms, so our end of term concert is during Wimbledon, then we have the summer off. Dancing is most weeks and some weekends until the end of July, when it becomes some weeks and some weekends. It was really cold at the start of the season (end of April/start of May), warmed up enough that I didn't need so many layers, now it's got chilly again.

Writing. None of this leaves much time for writing, but I have started a few things, but not got any further than a completed first draft. I am trying to put some effort into finishing something, if slowly, because it's been so long I've forgotten how to write.

Decluttering is also going slowly because I fit it round everything else. At the moment getting rid of things mostly involves moving them to the spare room, but in the summer when I have some more time, and when I have some days off, I will work on getting it out of the house. I did remember to take a bag of stuff to the charity shop this weekend, so that's a start.

For LJ Book Bingo I finally decided that I needed to assign my list of books I've read to squares. I've found I've filled most of them, but in a way that means I have no lines. It's a skill.

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