Saturday, April 29, 2006

Things That Make You Go 'Ewwww'

Here's an article that appeared in the science column in the 'Metro' newspaper.

If you think giving birth is painful then spare a thought for the hyena. Their birth canal narrows to about 2cm in diameter, and often rips as a cub squeezes through. The narrowing is caused by androgen - a male sex hormone - in the female's body during pregnancy, scientists have found. The mothers give their babies high levels of the hormone to make them more aggressive when fighting for food. US experts said; 'Giving birth through a penis isn't a trivial problem'.

I never thought I could feel so sorry for hyenas...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Clubbing and Chocolate

This is going to be a long post (because I can put photos in now!), so you may want to get a cup of tea before you start reading...

So, my weekend started on Thursday night, when we went to see Laugh Like Pa. They were great, and a lot better than the other bands playing that night. One of them looked and sounded like a performance at a church youth group, complete with tambourine and rather dodgy dancing. We wouldn't have had to see the other bands at all, if it wasn't for a confusion with the scheduling, not helped by a text from my mum which went thus...
Guy on Eighthsi
ring of nun
I had to phone her to find out what it was meant to say.
Me: What the hell did that text say?
Her: Well, isn't it obvious? Work it out!
Apparently it translated to 'Huw on eightish, ring me, mum'
She insists that the phone wouldn't let her say anything else.
Afterwards, we went on to a club called Genetic. My evening ended well when some man who tried to ask me out was enormously disappointed to find out that I'm married. It's a shame for him, but a much-needed ego boost for me!

On Friday Chris and I went down to play with Boo and Matt. We all went to the park to play football and frisbee. I won the 'throwing a frisbee over a traffic cone at very short range' competition but I really suck at football...You can have a surprising amount of fun with crisps too. (We're so grown-up, aren't we?)
Chris went out on Friday night, but it was to a club that I don't really like - the music's too roary and shouty for my delicate sensibilities (don't laugh) so I stayed home and played on the computer instead.

On Saturday I slept far too late and ended up feeling all tired and grumpy so I went shopping. Note to self: next year, don't leave it until the last minute to buy Easter eggs, because the shops are clearing the shelves by 6 o'clock on the Saturday, and you have to chase the shelf-stackers around to grab eggs before they put them away...
That night we went out to the Mission, a rock/goth club that's just up the road from Boo's house. I got all dressed up, in a long velvet dress with a satin corset over it and my high-heeled boots, which I don't wear often because I'm crap at walking in them. The smoking ban might actually turn out to be a good thing, as I only smoked three cigarettes during the night, instead of the 12 to 15 I'd usually get through and I didn't end up with a sore throat by the time we got home. We ended up spending most of the night upstairs at the gay-oriented club, so the only two songs I danced to all night were Erasure and Madonna. It was a lot of fun, though.

On Sunday, we got up in time to have lunch and go through to my parents' house for dinner and general Easter fun. They usually make clues for us to find our Easter eggs, but for some reason, this year they hadn't, so we wrote clues for each other. Then we also wrote clues for our parents to find theirs too. Trying to get a sensible answer from our mum can be like getting blood from a stone, especially when it relates to technology. We wrote a clue to lead them to our dad's mobile phone, and while he was checking, our mum got very confused. 'How did you get a clue near the phone?', 'Ooooh, are you going to call it? Oh, you're all in here...', 'What, have you put a piece of paper in the phone? How else could there be a clue there?' It took her ages to remember that there is such a thing as text messaging...

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This is the box of mini Easter eggs we gave my parents. I liked it because the text underneath the egg/spoon bit says
4 milk chocolate eggs and 2 spoons*
*Spoons not edible
I love warnings for idiots!

In the evening me, Boo, Chris and Matt went to DKY. It's the reunion night of a club that's not on regularly any more. I'm very fond of the place because Chris and I got together thanks to Boo and Chris meeting there. It was a good night, and I bumped into some people I haven't seen for ages. We got them to play Laugh Like Pa, and we danced even though most other people didn't. I asked some friends what they thought of the song, and they seemed quite impressed.
On Monday we finished off our extra-long weekend by going to the cinema to see Ice Age 2. It was absolutely brilliant. I was laughing out loud most of the way through.

Since I can include photos, here's a picture of my hand that shows all the stamps from my weekend's clubbing.

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OK, so this post has taken a lot longer to do than I had originally thought it would, due to my computer being about 300 years old and my own technological ineptitude. The only good thing about all this is that I can post a picture of Laugh Like Pa's gig a few days ago.

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Right, I think that's all I have to tell you. After all that, I hope someone actually reads this...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My weekend

I've had a pretty quiet weekend. Yesterday I went to the children's activities at the International Science Festival. My friend was taking her two children, so I said I'd go along to help mind the kids, and because I wanted to have a go at the activities too. It looks a bit funny, going by yourself.
We all had a good time, except for the younger child, who had a rotten cold and was all stuffed up, tired and grumpy. Sebastian (6) had great fun. He got to try out forensics while doing a CSI activity, and discovered how much fun soldering is when he made a lie-detector. Boo and I wanted to do the CSI thing too, but there weren't enough places. (Not that we minded, honest!)

Today we went shopping. I bought a t-shirt and a hoodie that I've had my eye on for some time. I probably can't afford them, but what the hell! We also got some more of my gran's birthday present. It's her 80th in June so we wanted to get her a big present, but we're rather broke, so what we're doing is making up a hamper of things relating to her interests. So far we've got birdfeeders and some little gardening bits and bobs. We also plan to get some nice teas, jams and biscuits, things like that.

So, as I said, not a desperately exciting weekend. Next week should be better - I've got time off work so we can go out more.

Latest book buys
Predator - Patricia Cornwell
A Necessary Evil - Alex Kava
Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve
Hippo Eats Dwarf - Alex Boese
The Starfleet Survival Guide (I know, I'm such a geek!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Books and more books

I like books that can teach me things, so it's not surprising that many of my favourite authors are experienced in the field about which they write. Obviously most authors can write accurately about topics by getting information from people who are in the field, but there's usually a disclaimer saying that details may be changed to fit the story, or due to author's error. The thing is, I like to know that what I'm reading is actually true, at least for forensic procedures and scientific facts, that kind of thing, but maybe that's just me...

Kathy Reichs writes about a forensic anthropologist who mainly works in Montreal, and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. The author is also an expert in this field and lives in those places.
Linda Fairstein runs the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Her heroine is a prosecutor within that department.
Jillianne Hoffman and her main character both work in the State Attorney's Office, Patricia Cornwell's heroine is a Chief Medical Examiner, as is she, and Jonathan Kellerman is a child psychologist, and this often comes into his books (slightly too much, if you ask me).
John Grisham is a lawyer, Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and many other scientific/medical thrillers (and creator of ER) is a doctor.

Nevada Barr writes about a crime/mystery solving ranger working in various US national parks. She describes the scenery and job very well, which makes sense, considering that she is a park ranger herself.
Abigail Padgett's main character is a child-abuse investigator who has manic depression. The author used to be a court investigator and is now an advocate for people with mental illness. She also has a strong interest in the deserts of the southwest USA, and this features heavily in the books.

One of my all time favourite series of books are the Earth's Children novels by Jean M. Auel. These books follow the adventures of a prehistoric woman travelling through ice age Europe. The best thing about these stories is the amount of detail in which everything is described, from animals and plants, to art and tools. She does an enomous amount of research for each of the books, contacting experts in every aspect of life in prehistoric times. I find all of her books (much as I hate this word) unputdownable, and I tend to get completely lost in them.

Latest book buys

Kathy Reichs - Cross Bones
P.J. Tracy - Dead Run
Tim Severin - Viking : Sworn Brother
Lee Child - One Shot
and two Buffy The Vampire Slayer books, Afterimage and Carnival Of Souls, but I won't mention them too loudly.