Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Indoor gardening

Today I am showing off the new camera and the indoor Botanic Gardens started by Heather. We've a growbag with tomatoes and sweet peas on Nini's windowsill (illustrated, and black-lined tank of potatoes in the sitting-room (not illustrated). While R. and Heather started their toms at the same time, ours have made the best start with healthy, dense growth and even a few flowers already. Heather's been showing us how to nip the side branches, and recommends we use a paint brush to preferentially pollinate flowers. Since I have two varieties, if I want them to fruit true I suppose I'll need to use reproductive technology. It's artificial insemination, but for plants we like to call it managed pollination.

More pics of the spring bloom Heather brought into the house this week in cuttings from the abandoned millhouse's garden, in the fields over the road. We received fragrant lilac twigs she cut, with three shades of floral spikes, and another overflowing vase of our favourites, deep-pink rhododendrons.

Another rhodie from last weekend in full glory. And look- there's a juvenile monkey hiding in its branches.

Her Catness has been taking an unhealthy interest in the sweetpeas, which are consequently somewhat stunted, but she leaves the solanaceous tomato and potato shoots well alone. Does her feline gustatory system allow her to detect the alkaloids in these, or does she reject some unpleasant flavour she perceives? Would that flavour be the same as what I perceive as bitter, or different? I can understand her going for pea shoots since these are mild and sweet in flavour, but seem to remember reading once that cats have no perception of the taste of sweet. I wouldn't pick her as much of an experimental subject anyway, since she eats only one brand of crunchies (By Appointment to Her Catness) and had the temerity to reject a juicy fresh prawn earlier today.


Friday, May 26, 2006

IKEA and me

Know how you leave something so long that it becomes impossible to address?

I bought a kitchen from IKEA some time ago, when I had more money than now. There was a delay in delivery, things came up, trips intervened, my plumber moved away and I developed ambivalence about the floorplan I wanted. The flatpacks were never delivered and IKEA didn't contact me, and I just let things slip and slip... for 3 years.

Today was the day when I faced up to the embarrassment of taking my 3-yr old receipt back to IKEA customer services to try to get either a refund or a credit note. Heather and R. came with me for back-up, and we made a rather eccentric bunch. The manager was incredulous, and looking at my scruffy clothes, commented that he couldn't believe that anyone could just let £1600 drift for so long. He asked me whether I'd ever considered coming back over the last three years, which opened the floodgates for me. It was probably then that he clocked that he was more probably dealing with a nutter than a scam artist. He has to launch an investigation of the paper trail to establish that I'm telling the truth and this kitchen was neither delivered nor refunded. Should have an answer in a week.

A past incident of two years of unopened mail (the Guilty bag) is a similar example of a mental block now licked. I even have a la-de-da filing system- how do you think I found the IKEA receipt? Now, if I can bring myself to apply for reimbursement conference expenses laid out almost one year ago, the priority financial backlog will be sorted and I a richer woman. Hoorah!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

School reply

Dear (Headmaster),

While whole-heartedly supporting your long-standing dress code policy (drab trousers, polo shirts and school sweatshirts), I have to register a vote against the proposed new institutuion of ties and collared shirts for pupils.

In th 70's, collared shirts and tie knots formed their own uncomfortable underground dress codes which were as much anti-authoritarian as the dress infractions you now experience, with undone collars and exaggerated knots. The retrogressive dress code suggested implies that you are preparing a generation of call-centre operators and office workers instead of professionals.

No matter how you try, you can't eliminate rebellion. The current dress code of trousers and sweatshirt already fulfills objectives of practicality, identification of school membership, reducing parental uniform costs and inter-pupil fashionista competition. In addition, I foreswore the task of ironing as a useless waste of time some years ago, and have no intention of taking this up now just because you favour a Hitler Youth educational model.

Yours sincerely,


Lost chord

Since backing-up is not my forte, here's a record of youtube related songs, some of which have featured on previous driving tapes. Here's a compilation for an iPod, had I one (and I haven't), especially one with a video visor. Have they invented those yet?

Jimi: Wind Cries Mary

Muddy Waters: Mannish Boy

Happy Mondays: Step On

Robert Wyatt: I'm a Believer

John Lee Hooker: Gloria

Patti Smith: Gloria

Howlin' Wolf: Dust My Broom

Bob Dylan: Subterranean

Roky: Gonna Miss Me

Rolling Stones: Miss You

Rolling Stones: Under My Thumb

Jimi: Hey Joe

Buff Medways: Fire

Captain Beefheart: Booglarize

Joni Mitchell: Coyote

Cream: Tales of Brave Ulysses

Standells: Dirty Water

Small Faces : Whatcha Gonna Do About It

Dandy Warhols: Junkie

Cornershop: Brimful of Asha


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Evil eye

I'm a victim of domestic abuse... by Her Catness, who has run out of cupboard love for me just when I ran out of adult feline Science Diet crunchies for her. I know She's addicted to her Science Diet, but the petshop only had 'adult feline indoor' Science Diet in stock. Since She fits this description, I stupidly took on chance on it.

But no- She will not have it and is on hunger strike. The new crunchies are in the same flavour She demands, but must be slightly lower-calorie for your less active cat. They are also much paler than the old kind, a wheatmeal instead of an umber colour, and instead of being round are hideously triangular. What's a cat to do? The adopted solution has been to wake me early every mornings, and once given a fresh portion let me know in no uncertain terms that this is completely unacceptable. She trails after me, alternately begging (rolling submissively on her back) then patting furiously at my leg with an accusing glare and increasingly outstretched claws.

OK- I get the message, Noosh. I'm not as dumb as you think I am. A dear-departed cat of my dad's (Toute Suite, known as Tootie) was in the habit of registering her disapproval of bad food by scratching the treif out of her bowl. Dad admitted to deliberately buying sub-standard catfood just to make Tootie perform. For similar reasons, I'm keeping the indoor crunchies back for future use. Her Catness has given a spectacular performance of hunting behaviours and vocalisations the last two mornings- up on the sill at daybreak to see the birds flying, clacking her jaw, twitching her tail, her pupils enormous, and quietly saying 'eck, eck, eck' to herself.

PS I got a new camera


Friday, May 19, 2006

Dear Peter II

Dear Peter,

Thanks for your visit, and I appreciate you mobilising family hash orders, but do you need to stay for so long? Especially after I made a point of all the important errands and housework I need to do. Having every day spare is not a reason to hang out with me, and I do not wish to hear long-winded stories about people I have never met. It made me particularly uncomfortable when you described a friend's 16 year old daughter as a 'slag', 'tramp' and 'the village bike', particularly when you also say she's lost her mum and her father is dying of liver cancer. And it makes me squirm to hear your proud boasts that your cousin works as a gigolo in Edinburgh (yeah, right...). Worst of all, you had to tell me again about the discomfort in your ballocks when riding in rain on your enormous motorbike. That's when I showed you the door.



Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dear Peter

Dear Peter,

You may be a friend's partner, but that does not entitle you to phone me up at midnight, repeatedly, on both home phone and mobile until you pull me out of bed to make it stop. If I am not answering, I am fucking out or busy. Sleeping. I suspect you wanted to ramble on in a Korsakov's manner again about selling my roofbox to your neighbour. As I told you I do not care. Midnight calls are exclusively for family emergencies- no exceptions.

Furthermore, please excise constant references to your meat and two veg from conversation, especially when your partner is out of the room. I do not care how your Borders ballocks suffer in the rain on your big motorbike. Such gems of discourse are not sexy or alluring, but repellant, and I prefer not to think of them.



Monday, May 15, 2006

Youtube for D.

For D., who never pleads her belly when a groove gets on.

Mondays' Step On

and our favourite, their Kinky Afro

Son, I’m 30
I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty
And I don’t have a decent bone in me
What you get is just what you see

So I take it free
And all the bad preserves are things that feed me
I never help or give to the needy
Come on and see me

I had to crucify some brother today
And I don’t dig what you gotta say
So come on and say it
Come on and tell me twice...


The book on the train...

... was EO Wilson's 'Diversity of Life', first published in 1996. EO Wilson has been historically attacked by those critical of sociobiology or behavioural Darwinism because he used ant models for human behaviour. Although some try to deny it, sexual reproduction is a potent determinant of adaptations in applicable classes, such as angiosperms (flowering plants), Chordata (vertebrates) and other eukaryotes. This book was a refresher course of the diversity acquired, lost and radiated again over Deep Time, and the importance of ecologicial conservation, on firm scientific grounds. Abandon your prejudices against sociobiology, and start to see some of the patterns of influorescences of life over time.

One of the most original and impressive points EO Wilson made was about the serendipity that evolving topography over Deep Time promoted adaptive radiation.

The continents have never been so spread out as now, allowing a much greater shore to land-area ratio, a longer interface for evolutionary diversification. In Deep Time, a solid supercontinent called Pangaea was the only landmass, but subsequently separated into Gondwanaland and Laurasia, as you can see to the right.

Geological movement was an active force in increasing the diversity of environments available to entrepreneurial organisms, by increasing habitats. This in turn tended to produce both continental and geological islands, where saltational adaptation and speciation could continue apace.


Bad/ Good stuff

Bollox, this has been a nasty few days. And I'm not just talking about IBC vs Roberts, David Fuller, ML , PoV or the Guardian (which incidentally give me formication). In the real world, and I emphasise this term, Hackney Council is doing yet further horrible things to my friend D., and General John Reid is in charge of a Home Office that believes we're all terrorists. Iraq is a bloody mess and we're thinking to get tough with Iran, enough to make you just pull the downie over your head.

Furthermore, despite my self-justified rant against the rudeness of London travellers, my behaviour on the GNER train back from London last week was far from social. In a thoroughly bad mood, I abandoned my pre-booked seat between Chantelles for the vestibule between carriages to read my book, drink and smoke sly joints out of the window. The conductor warned me not to lean out too far. All these trains are now non-smoking, as they should be, and I should be ashamed of myself both for that and for requiring grudgingly-given help to locate my suitcase when disembarking.

Culture shocks-
  • To smoke inside pubs in London
  • Oyster cards
  • Mixed-race relationships and children
  • Walking geography of places known only in books or on maps
  • Pink horse chestnut candles
  • Clissold Park's aviary
  • Lubavich community in Stamford Hill


Sunday, May 14, 2006


There were a few books that I missed during my trip to London last week, and wished I'd packed; 'Lights Out for the Territory' by Iain Sinclair, Pepys 'Diary' and Ackroyd's 'Biography of London'. Sau and I had a wide-ranging pub crawl through central London on Weds, maybe an equivalent.

When travelling with D. (my pregnant friend and hostess) outside of rush hour she chose the Tube, but I preferred the bus to see local diversity and neighbourhoods. I became acquainted with the #73, including its lycanthrope night version, heading from Victoria thru' Oxford St, Kings X, Islington, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill, the kingdom of the Lubavich.

I said something about London manners on public transport elsewhere on PoV. I'm obviously spoilt by the gemutliche attitudes and manners on Scottish public transport, and became quite discomforted by a disregard and ignorance of simple social courtesy.

D. looks like a woman half her age- 35 weeks gone and despite the heat without any swelling and no stretchmarks except a big plump babby in her belly. She eats healthily every day and has everything ready including her hand-knitted babysuits, blankets, jumpers, trousers, mittens, booties and hats. That babby is a lucky one- no mistake.

I washed some windows while visiting, but D's man had already painted the frontroom and slathered over the mould. D. wants, not unreasonably, to be transferred to a modernised flat with post-1930's wiring and plumbing, inbuilt heating, more than one power point in each room, a hotwater boiler that works in summer, no sewage seepage in her backgarden and no mould garden in half the house walls and doors. The Council surveyor was booked in to visit on Friday, and hopefully condemned the place.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


Darwin's finches show how man harms evolution

This was a dumb headline and also a dumbed-down article. The contextual quotes in the headline alleged that evolutionary adaptation 'harms evolution', because two previously divergent Galapagos finch species are becoming morphologically similar in terms of beak length. Are these divergent species anatomically different in factors other than beak-length, and (most importantly) are they interbreeding, adding a genetic overlay to the adaptive picture?

Let's get this straight. Evolution no knows direction except that exerted by time and circumstance. It's a fallacy that evolution always results in more complex, more differentiated specialisms with time. It's a broad fact, generally true, that animals have complexified from unicellular to multicellular, and protistic to eukaryotic over 2+ billion years. But- the longevity and proliferation of the protists to this current day attests to a preservation of primitive characteristics when suitable. And the loss of specialised characteristics is not a new or earth-shattering finding, nor 'retrograde' in any qualitative sense.

Eukaryotic examples of the rule that adaptations can be lost when environmental conditions dictate have; fish, amphibians and arthropods losing the mechanical and cortical apparatus for sight and vision in subterranean caves. Sea mammals re-developing fused, webbed limbs, but in the same pentadactid morphology as their land-bound forbears.

The drive can pull towards specialisation or generalisalation, as the flow of time and environment dictate, but not necessarily in the linear or 'progressive' path suggested. To assume so is a fundamental misunderstanding of the laws of natural selection, and the fact that evolution in all it's forms only moves forward, forward.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I've been thinning and filing paperwork to have an efficient office for my administrative activities. which are many. All is getting in order now, thanks to poly-pockets and good influences, but two vital documents are missing- my birth certificate, and my notarised change of name to my step-father's surname. These were submitted several years ago for divorce proceedings and (quite probably due to my negligence and the Guilty bag) then lost.

Getting a replacement birth certificate from the US is going to be an ordeal. I was born under one surname, that of my biological father, then by family convenience and common use adopted my step-father's surname. To complicate matters, my sister and I have the same initials and surname. Just as well I didn't change my name again when married- that would just have made an already tangled identity worse.

My change of surname wasn't formally notarised till I was in my 20's, but I've been known exclusively by this name since age 8. That means I have little evidence of my original identity, apart from my family's say-so. Legitimacy- identity- reality- all become suspect.



Monday, May 01, 2006

May day

As if one could ignore it, from the profusion of bloom on tree-flowering species. The magnolias were mere precursors to the cherries, plum, lindens, maples, larches, birches, apples, pears and blackthorn trees of my acquaintance, esp in the Braidburn/Hermitage park. Green-fingered Heather took me to the garden centre to obtain a growbag in which to plant the tomato plants she's kindly given me. I added in a couple of sweet peas, for their scent. I have a feeling they won't do well indoors, and it may be the same for the Hosta whose blue quilted foliage was also irresistible. All of these plants are at the mercy of her Catness, who's already had a go at the tomatoes and sweet peas. She looks at me blankly when I shout and throw small objects to dissuade her, then calmly continues her vandalism.

My sister made a special trip today from Glasgow just to check in with me and kiddos on her public May Day holiday. Thanks H.- it was much appreciated, and I really enjoyed this visit from my only and favourite sister. My turn next to visit you, once the Kelvingrove Museum is reopened in July 2006. I'd heard the west had high temperatures last weekend, and H. was looking healthy, toned and tanned from her swimming, her week in Napoli & Pompeii and/or her day reading the Sunday papers in Kelvingrove Park.

Opted out of community May Day activities this year for no good reason but laziness, but my mind was on the immigrant demonstrations across the US. CNN were reporting 300,000 in Chicago this morning. In San Diego, it was reported that McDonalds were shut down for lack of labour, a localised riot occurred in Vista and some ugly anti-illegal comments were heard in the bars. It's the economy, stupid.