Saturday, February 05, 2005

Another first.

I am no longer a hooting virgin. Admittedly past attempts have only failed through not knowing where the horn was on my car, not from lack of motivation. But yesterday was special. Having left work a bit late (it's amazing how stuff invariably appears on my desk four minutes before I am supposed to leave), I managed to hit Notacity's one-way system whilst the gridlock spiralled out from it. Having navigated the double u-turn bit fine, and got fairly easily down the road that must originally have been two unconnected roads; I then had to try joining the one-way system, doing the usual rush across three lanes. Only the furthest lane wasn't clearing. At all.

Eventually I got lucky as the clutter of traffic trying to drive round the jam blocked the lights further up, and accelerate hard, steer hard, brake hard (and try not to drive over the pavement and into the building opposite). And it's gone solid again. The car which was behind me is still stuck at the junction, looking hopelessly at the logjam and torrents. The ripple of space moving back as the lights ahead change isn't as big as it should be. Slowly I get up to the lights, then across them, and the traffic is clearing, as the town centre road peels off, then the next road. And so to the next set of lights, which are red, all the while undertaking people who are going further round.

Oh joy of joys, the traffic for the turnoff after mine is near solid, and people joining the road from the left are edging across the junction, either driving at right angles through a hole to the spare lanes beyond, or sitting in the yellow hatched box and signalling forlornly. The traffic sets, with a small blue car blocking the far end of the yellow box, and so my lane. My lights change to green, but I don't move, as I have nowhere to go. Ahead there's movement far off, I get ready to move, and a silver car drives out from the left and sits in the box. Cue one long blast (although five short blasts might have been more appropriate, even though I was not unclear of her intentions).

The woman in the silver car looks shocked. I glare at her, as she has just managed to drive across a red light, and then stop on yellow hatching. She then tries to back out of it, and nearly hits the van that had followed her over (had both red light bulbs gone?). The traffic moves enough for the blue car beside her to creep out of the way, but she sits there still, letting the traffic to my left through. I resignedly wave her across as she's still watching me. The berk in the Merc beside me hoots, as she pulls in front of him. I drive off, and judging by the sudden cluster of horns behind me, I think the van on the left had also tried to pull out, ignoring the lights.

Which reminds me, I really need to expand my driving vocabulary beyond "oh go on then" and "come on", as well as learn to use more hand gestures than "thank you", "hi", "come on/out" or flashing my lights to indicate the same. So far I only know the language of what is known as "Christian driving". I need to pick up some movements of joint-popping intensity.

But I'm not sure how. I have once been part of a group, and don't ask how this started, who spent one afternoon attempting to make up Italian insults, with suitable gestures. But there were too many syllables, and not enough harshness to the words. I think in the end we managed to convert "ciao bella" into our most savage insult, but that was more to do with the movements and the intonation (just as a querying tone and a raised eyebrow, if you can do just the one [I can't], can make anything lewd, so too can suitable application of staccato, and powerful, whip-like movement transform mundane words into insults).

[Yes, I know "ciao bella" implies the girl is a cabbage or piano or something, as it uses the wrong ending (is the right one isimo? I can't remember, being more distracted by the photos of Mafia men trying to look subtle, and the notion of people treating cleaning up volcanic dust as a daily chore)].

The movement was incidentally cocking the wrist back so the palm faces the forearm, and then flicking it out so the fingers, palm, and forearm are all in line. For added complexity, start out under your chin, but this hurts if you get it wrong.

Anyway, the movement is very like a shortened version of the nail whip which one of my flatmates used to do. In case you have never come across this, it involves flicking out the full arm, and catching the victim (usually on a buttock) with just the ends of the fingers, so only the nails make contact. Small area, large mass, great speed, equals stings like many things which I have never experienced.

This is also the charming boy who left bruises and bitemarks over much of my body (and unfortunately he is charming). Which, other than the ache, I then tended to forget about, only to pull my sleeve up somewhere, and reveal purple Morse curving round my forearm. It's amazing the questions people won't ask.

Speaking of questions, isn't it great when one's boss walks up and asks "What did you do with the pile of paper I left on your desk?"
To which one can reply "You mean the letters I asked you about?"

Yes, I did the wrong thing with them, but I didn't know it was wrong, and well, I was only following orders. His very precise orders, which he'd spat out because he was annoyed I asked.

And permaradio is still as crap as ever. This time they managed to segue from Disco Inferno to Gold by Spandau Ballet. Only the latter song started with the famous chorus. Now I know, from bitter experience of umpteen balls and student union events, that there is a big long, couple of verses at least, introduction to Gold, which I never recognise. So that's another castrated song, with the leftovers presumably kept for future use in some intros game. Their current game was find the theme, and another of the songs was Burning down the house. I never found out what the link was, but I do hope that it wasn't the day before's lead news story of firemen dying in blaze in a tower block, or that fire in a Buenos Aires nightclub, news which of which became overwhelmed by the tsunami [and it's quite hard picking tasteful verbs: drowned out and swamped having rather too much meaning in this context].

In other news:
I have very dark negatives. How do I know? Photography course, and trying to make prints. We go through it all beforehand, but it isn't the most well organised course (and the tutor needs more confidence, said he thoroughly lacking in confidence). Trying a test strip, under f8 for 5, 10, 15, and 20 seconds. I suddenly realise I forgot to check which way up the paper was (rookie mistake, but hey I am). I go and develop it. Nothing.

Go back, repeat, but this time making sure the paper is shiny (and stickier) side up. I cheat and have 10 seconds as the baseline. Develop. Ominous feeling. Completely blank. I need help.

I do the helpless act in front of the tutor, and ask idiot questions about it being the right paper (well I wasn't sure I'd remembered). She comes in, checks. Plays with timer and light settings. Thick paper, the resin coated one, and the right way up. She suggests trying in 10 second pulses, so the maximum exposure would be forty. She does that.

I develop it, and there is darkness growing. Hurrah. Then to decide the timing for the print I pick twenty, as that brings the full range of greys. She overrules me with forty. I go and make the print, and then realise that the enlarger is still on f2.8, which we used to see the focussing. Damn, but there's not much I can do now.

I develop it, and remember that the bit I was looking at when I said 20 was the shadows under a roof. Everyone, except for one person, asked what it was. The one person knew what it was only because he knew that I'd overdosed on churches when using the film. Oddly he didn't mention the cherry blossom down the middle of the shot, and which is the bit supposedly in focus.

The print isn't great (well it's ok, and you can see what it is), but I'm not sure how much is the printing and how much is the negative. It's not quite in focus, but then there's obvious blurring round the frame, which I guess comes from the small aperture (and not focussing it exactly enough). The blossom also probably lacks detail because the print is underexposed. I'll stick it on Flickr when I get some scanner time. Like all my art (is photography art? Mine has it to be, as it pays scant regard to the laws of physics) it looks best from a distance.

The paper of the print is also curled, no matter how long I leave it under a great many textbooks (see there is a use for big books on biochemistry after all). This is due to a wonderful woman, who I've already dubbed HKA, managing to move the tray her print was on down a few slots, and thereby grind mine on the shelf below into a curled scrap against the back of the drying oven. Then just as it was dry, I took it out, and grabbed my stuff to leave. Someone else in a hurry took their print out of a bath and shook off the excess water. I felt it hit me. I didn't realise it was on the print up the fluff was sticking to it. Damn.

There were several other things, but this is long, and I'm putting off doing other stuff. A few final words about Casino Avenue. Inspector Sands mentions the ageing effect of Britpop, and then goes on in the comments to being rude about the Dum-Dums, whom he describes as proto-Busted. Which has the fortunate effect of reminding me that he is very much older then I am, simply because I saw them at the end of my first term of my second year at uni. A very good they were too, even if the place was half deserted, as everyone had already left for their holidays. Which is why I had a friend along, who decided Exeter on the post-term weekend would be fun, and I think was bit disappointed to discover all the student activities finished the weekend before.

We ended up going to a party in a flat, having hurriedly eaten undercooked potato, onion and sausage (which is gorgeous when slightly overcooked, but the damn thing refused to cook). Only we get there fashionably late, which wasn't that late, and it turns out our hosts are still waiting for the pizza their entire flat was going to eat, as it hadn't turned up (takeaway and delivered foods in Exeter are like that. Our flat once ordered chinese, only to discover, three hours later, that the shop's driver didn't feel like coming all the way over to us, and now had no food left). The pizza turned up, and I think the visiting friend and I went to hide in someone's room, having sat awkwardly watching other people eat. When we came back out, the party was in full swing. Unfortunately we didn't realise that that was about as interesting as it was going to get, otherwise we would have cut our losses. Several hours, and a half drunk glass of filter-through-the-teeth egg-nog later, we eventually get out from behind the table, where we have been pinned by a large bore on the end of the bench. Once the Californian girl broke the ice, by trying to dance on a table (or possibly she was just trying to hit the flickering fluorescent tube that had be annoying us all evening), I went under the table, and my friend over it. Adjourning to a room, myself and my host and hostess chatted, and my friend sat looking tired and bored (I did tell her nothing would be happening after the end of term). At the sound of someone vomiting copiously in one of the bathrooms, we left (the vomit remained untouched for about a month as cleaners and students alike all thought it wasn't their duty to scrub it out of bare brick walls). Sometimes Lafrowda parties don't quite live up to the reputation.

The next is a mention of Anchor and Hope Lane. Other than being named after a pub with a name which confused me for far too long, there doesn't seem much in it. Except somewhere way back when (the when in this case being when the branches of this family had sniggerable, unspellable, or unpronounceable surnames) some part of this family used to own it, and the other side of the family used to be the ones both anchoring and presumably hoping. That said I've never (knowingly) seen it, and only know of Charlton as somewhere probably near those four white tower blocks.

The final Cas-Av thing is in a post bashing yet another London England site. This time the hapless site carries a banner ad mentioning somewhere called MSG. The Inspector claims not to know of it. I'm now worried, because I read it as Madison Square Gardens, despite never having been there, or been aware of people referring to it as MSG. I suppose the word Knicks is a clue (even if the only thought that provoked was "is that how it's spelt?"). But still, it threw me to realise I hadn't even questioned the meaning (not that it could be monosodium glutamate from the context).

Which reminds me. Is it possible to taste 0.05 g difference in sodium content (per 100 grams)? Even when dealing with very small quantities of butter? One brand with 0.40 g Na per 100 g, tastes much saltier than one with 0.35 g. It surprised me to realise how minimal the difference can be. But then I suppose that there are quite a few more sodium ions swilling round. Worryingly, when I read the back of both packs, and discovered the difference, I realised I was automatically working out how many more sodium ions there would be. Fortunately I came unstuck on my 6.022 x 1023 times table, and so carried on eating the slightly saltier half of my teacake before it got cold.

Anyway, I'd better go, as...oh damn, it's too dark to do my homework. Oh, well, I have a very pressing, um, game of this (ooh, I didn't know they had Deluxe).

Actually, I'd really better go as the lights have just flickered again. The CD player in the lounge keeps having fits each time the power goes. I've no idea why the electricity is cutting out, nor why some things are susceptible whilst others are not. But I'd better finish this before the computer decides it is prone.

[MS Word Lunatic Grammar (TM) insists the electricity is not cutting out]


[No pic today, as I can't find any of Lafrowda which doesn't try to hide it. Which means I can't put as the title "You ain't got no alibi", and you can't wince at the reference].

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