Wednesday, 30 May 2007


In another example of the bureaucracy trying to prove I'm just a figment of my own imagination, my pigeonhole has been deleted.

At least when they did it with my phonebook entry, I knew who to contact. Admittedly they didn't believe me when I said "Yes I DO exist, I am HERE, PLEASE re-instate my details", but at least they listened.

I don't think there is a pigeonhole services department. I am thinking I should start using actual pigeons. It would be more efficient AND I could house them in some of this random furniture I have lying around.

And since they'd be working birds, I wouldn't even technically be contravening the No Pet Policy...

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

having trouble thinking of a title.

As usual I've tried to use the picture cover from the actual version of the book I read, so sorry it's so small - this one has a photo by Georgi Zelma which I really quite like, but I doubt it's available anymore. In any case, I've read that there's a couple of translations floating around, and I don't think this one is the best. Apparently H.T. Willetts' is the one to go for, and is the only one Solzhenitsyn himself actually authorised.

I seem to be reading a lot of Russian Literature (big 'L' intentional) these days, and although it's not really my cup of tea, I'm enjoying it and getting quite a lot out of it though. Tom suggested I read 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which kind of surprised me, because I wouldn't have thought it his cup of tea either, but then he surprises me quite a lot like that.

It's quite a short read this one, a novella really, and quite easy too. Halfway through, I mentioned to Tom that I was finding it interesting but wasn't sure where it was going, and he pointed out to me that I was being a bit dim, and it's all in the title. Der. So that's basically what it is - one day in the life of a political prisoner in a Soviet labour camp. Solzhenitsyn himself spent a lot of time in labour camps, so this book is based on his experiences. I found myself wondering exactly how much of himself is in the main character.

One interesting thing about this book is that, although it's obviously not a barrel of laughs, it's not really that depressing or melodramatic. Learning about the life Denisovich (or Shukov as he is mainly referred to in the book as - I really don't get the conventions of Russian naming, it's always so confusing) and political prisoners is kind of shocking, especially the numbness with which Shukhov has accepted his fate, but on the whole it's not a down-in-the-dumps book. Actually, as Tom said, and I agreed with, what's interesting is the way that Shukov has accepted his life and gets on with it, finding clever ways to make his life a little better without compromising his morals, and learning how to get on with the different people around him. For example, he always saves the crust from his breakfast slice of bread to mop up his lunchtime soup, making sure he gets every last drop. On the day in question, Shukov cadges himself an extra serving of sludge, and an extra slice of bread. This makes it a good day.

All in all, I doubt this book will rock your world, but it is a really interesting and relatively easy read. And it does have a great last line.

Monday, 28 May 2007

getting larger.

I forgot to mention, Elsie sent me a box of Frangos for my birthday. They're a local (like Fruchocs here) peppermint flavoured chocolate (as opposed to a mint filled one), and absolutely delicious. Visitors to Chicago take note. They're quite little but you get stacks in one box, and I powered through them like nobody's business. There are two left that I'm saving for Tom to try, and they're taunting me like you wouldn't believe. 'Just EAT us Emily, Tom will never know...'. Well now he will, because I put it on the internet. HA to you little voice in the back of my head.

On the upside, I wore my new dress yesterday and it is so comfy. And because it's a wrap one-size-fits-all, I can eat as much chocolate as I want. Goodbye 'no eating rubbish unless there is a good reason for it' diet. (Gee, that lasted a long time, hey).

Carousel is slowly killing me with its irritatingly catchy tunes that won't get out of my head when I get out of the pit. I am getting a lot of knitting done though - my new Carla is very much underway.

I went looking for sweet bean curd at the markets, and went through three Asian grocers before I got anywhere. Here's how it went:

Me: "Do you have any sweet bean curd?".
Shopkeeper: "What?
"Sweet bean curd."
"What's that?"
"It's like silken tofu, but with sugar comes in plastic tubs in the fridge..."
"For eating?"

Which makes me wonder what kind of sweet bean curd they carry NOT for eating? What else would you do with it?

At the last one, I got to talk to the old shop owner, after the young shopkeeper had no idea what I was talking about and pointed me in his direction. He had one left, but then the lady at the counter wouldn't sell it to me. I'm not sure why. She said come back Friday. Guess where I'll be Friday?

Friday, 25 May 2007

thinking about stuff.

APPARENTLY you can buy sweet bean curd from the asian grocer - just like at Yum Cha. Woooo!

Crumpler's new catalogue is in the form of alphabet postcards. They have advertising on the back, but if you can be bothered sticking paper over it, they're totally wicked.

On the upside, the laptop salary-packaging FINALLY worked. On the downside, the health insurers apparently still want the head of my first born child.

I have a new French teacher. Her name is an exercise in diacritics.

In French: 'I brushed my teeth', comes out as 'I have myself brushed the tooths'. SO cute.

Yesterday the escalator was broken at DJ's, so I had to walk up it like stairs and I felt really unstable, like the escalator was actually moving backwards. Realising there's so much classical conditioning in life is a little bit scary.

Wants for the winter: mustard yellow and grey, wooly stockings, hats.

My friend Sarah is coming over from England on Sunday!

The word for 'mother' or 'mum' seems to be pretty similar in a lot of languages. I wonder if this is universal, and has anything to do with the first sounds babies are able to make? Maybe I should ask my friendly local speech-pathologist...

I'm on a new régime as of Tuesday: it's the 'no eating rubbish unless there is a good reason for it' diet. Not good reasons include: 'there are Tim-Tams in the cupboard', 'I'd better eat it before my brothers do' and 'healthy food will take 30 seconds longer'.

I am sad that Veronica Mars has been axed.

linked to this video the other day. It's the funniest thing I've seen for ages.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

eating fruit gone wrong.

I completely forgot to mention that I finally tried Casa Del Gelato on Lygon St - purportedly Melbourne's best gelato. The range was certainly extensive, and a lot of the flavours were listed only in Italian, but all the shopgirls were Asian, which disconcerted me a bit. Maybe it's not reasonable in a globalised world, but I tend to judge regional cuisine by the number of locals in the place. Anyway though, they had lots of fancy pants flavours - these seem to be all the rage these days, so in addition to my order of chocolate and pear, I added durian!

I keep hearing people say of durian 'oh it smells AWFUL, but it tastes pretty good'. I've never tried it, and never been tempted enough to invest in a whole big fruit, so ice-cream seemed to be a good way to dip my toe in the water. As it turns out, the ice-cream version smells fine, but tastes absolutely foul. It was so foul in fact, that after I'd finished giggling at myself for ordering something so horrendous (and making everyone else have tastes of course) I toppled that layer straight off into the bin. I really don't understand how anyone could like it. Some flavours, I know are just a matter of preference (like liquorice), but it seems to me that anything that literally tastes rotten, would be universally disliked, as a result of evolution.

After I'd knocked the top layer off my cone, I found they'd forgotten the pear layer and I just had chocolate left. Luckily, Tom had gotten the pear too, so I got to try it and a few other flavours. They were all very good, but only comparable to other ice-creams I've tried - not above and beyond like I was hoping. Natura's still reigns supreme.

Update: Oh MY. I just found that two years ago Natura's had an ice-cream eating competition. Where on earth was I??? I totally would've cleaned up, and probably would've eaten my prize straight away too! My tummy would've been happy for a week!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

back from the Melbuns.

In Melbourne I
  • Miss Saigon (very good, but the story made me cross).
  • 'My Cousin Vinny' (watchable, but I can't believe Marissa Tomei won an Oscar).
  • the Australian Impressionist exhibition at NGV (Huge. interesting and beautiful, but ultimately not my thing).
  • 2 identically dressed 10 year old identical twins, and one OCD mother.
  • A WHOLE SHOP of teapots.
ate/drank at:
  • The Richmond Hill Larder (part-owned by Stephanie Alexander, excellent potato soup with floaty melty blue brie bits, except I ordered tomato soup).
  • Somewhere Italian on Lygon St (very ordinary, but lots of freebies, including a surprisingly good red; a fun experience [not to be repeated] because of all the restauranteurs [literally] cornering you with deals to get you into their restaurant).
  • Cafe e Cucina (Tobie Puttock from Jamie Oliver 15 fame used to work here. We just had [spectacular!] hot chocolates, but I'm convinced it would be an excellent [if expensive] dinner choice. At 4pm on a Sunday it was full of Italians).
  • Canteen (lovely breakfast, if a bit nippy. Lukewarm coffee in a good way, and nice views).
  • Bar None (Old-Fashioned - my new favourite drink. Amused by the two stock-brokers we were obliged to sit with - unbelievably obnoxious and arrogant, but hilariously self-deprecating with severe foot-in-mouth syndrome).
  • Chinta Ria Soul (on Acland St. Great laksa!).
  • Thai Saffron (Riversdale Road, good cheap Pad Thai).
  • delayed at the airport on the way home due to a broken spring on the plane door
  • accidentally on the wrong tram once or twice...
nearly bought:
  • the same boots I ummed and aahed about last year, 50% off (still not quite right).
  • the most beautiful brown leather Camper mary-janes in the world (out of my size).
actually bought:
  • Spacecraft 9-way gray wrap dress, hand-printed with peppercorn tree pattern
  • Fibre Red green skirt (reduced becuase it's a [near perfect] second), and brick laceweight headband.
  • Nick the Rose clear resin necklace/pendant, with red thread scribbled inside.
  • Lord of the Fries (walked past at least 3 times, and restrained myself. Unbelievable).
  • Great Wall of China exhibition at the Museum.
  • The place up in the hills we tried to go to that was booked out (can't be more specific, sorry).
Today I had to turn down a $90/hour gig because I'd already agreed to a $10/hour one. How annoyment.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

being fed.

The other night my mum made this yummy yummy excellently good lamb tagine. She did it on the stove top and near the end added some chopped carrot and zucchini. It looked pretty easy, and made enough for dinner for 5, two nights in a row!

To go with it, I made some of my favourite Jamie Oliver spicy couscous. It went really well with the tagine I thought. My suggestions for this recipe would be: cut the onion and bash the spices first. Sherry vinegar works better than red wine if you can find it. Use instant couscous and just put the lid on it and turn the heat off for 2 mins after you've added the liquid. To save a pot, be dodgy and use stock cubes (Did I say that? La la la...) - crumble them over the couscous and add boiling water straight from the kettle. Use real butter not marg!

I'm off to Melbourne tomorrow for a fun-filled long weekend. Hurrah!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

watching the ducks.

I'm sitting on the South bank of the Torrens studying, just West of the Footbridge, or perhaps I am doing my best not to study. Although there is a little chill in the breeze, it's a lovely day, and I'm enjoying being outside on the grass, in a sunny spot. It is Autumn, and the leaves are changing colour on the trees - the European trees on the banks that is, the gum trees are blue-grey and spindly, as they always are. A mother duck pops up out of the water and on to the bank near me, and I smile as I see a raft of seven little yellow ducklings scramble their way up after her. They trail behind her in a straight line and walk right in front of me - I marvel at their audacity, to come so close to a human with no fear whatsoever. Then one little duckling peels off from its siblings, crazy with freedom, or just a little dazed and confused perhaps. It comes across my left knee in the middle of its path, and promptly climbs up and wanders across my lap. I am transfixed, and want more than anything to touch its golden down with the tip of my finger. For all its daring though, it is a wild creature, so I hold my breath and watch silently as it muddles its way down from my right knee and back into the fold. The mother duck has been watching me intently, more wary than her baby has learnt to be, but soon forgets me, and they continue puddling their way along the river's edge, before tumbling back into the water one by one, and paddling off down the river.

Last week, while crossing the footbridge, a plump of ducks came flying toward me and split in two, going over and under the bridge and joining back up on the other side. They fly so fast, but they are so elegant and controlled in their effortless coordination. I watch them go, and remember that day a few years ago, when the little duckling pattered across my lap. I wonder if he could be amongst this grown-up flock. On the other side of the bridge, on the North river bank, two black swans and their five babies are eating from a lone student's hand. Two black swans, four black cygnets, and their beautiful white sister.

Monday, 14 May 2007

making soup.

This weekend I started to make trifle, but ended up with Zuppa Inglese.

'But Signorina Emilie - Zuppa Inglese and trifle are the same thing, the two names are synonymous' I hear you say.

'Whatever' I say to you (with obligatory hand gestures). Unequivacably, what I made was Zuppa Inglese, not trifle. I can tell you this because although it tasted like trifle, the jelly didn't set, the custard was too runny, and I had to serve it with a ladle and soup spoons. It was truly 'English Soup'. You may say I made Pink Failure Trifle, but I know I made Rosa Zuppa Inglese for I am an exotic and worldly cook. (And no, I wasn't nipping at the cooking sherry...)

I also made some chai 'properly'. One of Tom's friends made some chai syrup to flavour tea with, by making a sugar syrup and then infusing it with spices. I couldn't be bothered waiting for that (Josh makes his own bread too - from scratch NO breadmaker - so clearly he has more patience than me), so I made it the real way, using this recipe. It took over half an hour, and I ended up with half a glass of thick tea, that unexplicably tasted salty and kinda gross. I wonder if the Italians have a romantic name for that?

Sunday, 13 May 2007

getting philosophical.

My grandma yanked these
She thought they were extensions.
Must let my hair down.

(Someone has photobooth.
Someone has a paper to write.)

Thursday, 10 May 2007

a bit bitsy.

Fire training was fun. I still don't have a red hat, but I got to try out two fire extinguishers (a water one, and a CO2 one), and go into a smoke filled room. Being already paranoid about everything, I came out a bit freaked out by the whole thing, but at least the main points were basic and consistent enough that I'll remember them (as opposed to say, First Aid training where there was so much information that I felt like it went in one ear and out the other. Fyi - don't get hit by a bus near me). It seems to me the important information for dealing with fires is: 1. If it's small, put it out. 2. If it's not small, get away from it. 3. ALWAYS KEEP DOORS SHUT. I can remember that. Also, I now know that technically, the alarm in our building is 'your standard beep-beep whoop-whoop system'.

In the phonebook department, things are going wrong again. Mine hasn't changed again (yet), but my boss' entry seems to have disappeared entirely. He's been rationalised it seems, and the office ladies upstairs took a few days to realise they could come down and TALK to us about stuff, rather than just assume that no phone listing meant we'd stopped existing. This is a crazy place.

Apple are still stuffing me around re. the salary packaging saga. I'm very happy with this little laptop (sorry 'we don't call them laptops - they're personal computers'), but their customer service leaves a fair bit to be desired.

It seems most of the chocolate in the world is made from cocoa produced on the Ivory Coast, and most cocoa on the Ivory Coast is produced by child labourers. The large chocolate companies (M&M-Mars, Nestle, Hersheys etc.,) argue that even though they control most of the world's demand, they can't change things because they buy through middle-men. (Incidentally, this is the same reason that clothing manufacturers give for employing workers in sweatshop conditions IN AUSTRALIA). In the US, manufacturers promised to start eradicating child labour by 2005 - and it didn't happen. BBC stories on it here and here. How upsetting to find something as excellent as chocolate is tainted by the greed of big business! I'm really excited to make David Lebovitz's Chocolate Idiot Cake. His is my new favourite, blog, and the cake looks amazing (ingredients: chocolate, sugar, eggs, butter), but I think I will be shelling out the extra buying fair trade chocolate after finding out about this.

Ah, and this video has been languishing in my sidebar for a while now, and I thought I should mention it before it's forgotten forever. I randomly saw most of it when it was shown on TV a month or so ago, and it was completely hilarious. Everyone likes to make fun of science-fiction nerds, and some of these were extreme nerds (in some cases, to the point of having their ears surgically altered), which makes them easy targets. One of the great things about this doco though, was that it makes fun of these trekkies, but it's not in a mean way. All of the people are depicted to be nice, normal people (beyond the Trekkie thing at least), and the doco does show that the strength of the communities developed around this particular brand of fandom is quite extroadinary. To me, this film was one of the best comedies I've seen in ages, but I suspect to the Trekkies, this is a film about themselves that they can be proud of. And that's quite an achievement.

Adelaide Fresh Pasta makes a great eggplant-parmy, and I've been wanting to try making my own for ages now. Last night I made this one and it was pretty good! I'm not very adept at frying crumbed things (I think it's something you get a feel for over time), so I think it will only improve. I used the Sugo again from the fruit shop - I love that stuff. And there's leftovers. =)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

driving over lemons

This is the second book I've read with an endorsement from Peter Gabriel on the cover, and the second that I've enjoyed. I never thought I'd say that.

Heidi lent me this one, and said that her family had read it on holiday and had all enjoyed it. I'm not surprised, partly because it's quite good, but mostly because it's a good holiday book. It won't make my all time top ten, but it's interesting and funny and easy to read; not so compelling that you'll wish you were reading when you're swimming, but it's not depressing either.

It's a non-fiction (again! What is the world coming to!) account of a man who relocates his family to Andalicia in Spain. It charts his first visit to the area, his purchase of a property, and the way he develops this land to make a home for his wife and baby daughter. He talks a lot about the people he meets and makes friends with (both locals and foreigners), and you also get a lot of description about the landscape, animals, farming methods etc.

I think this would be a great book to have lying around when you're on holiday - especially a sunny holiday. I enjoyed it on a wintery autumn weekend, but it didn't blow my mind. But I did read it in less than a week, which tells you something at least about how pleasant and easy a read it is.

Also, I think there might be a couple of sequels, so if you read it and like it, you can continue the story, which is always nice.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

coming around to it.

I hate fish. But I don't really like hating things, especially food. Especially when it's something that people rave about, because then you feel like you're missing something. So with fish I try occasionally.

When Tom was over the other weekend, we made some fish, because Tom cooks fish good, and he's made it his mission to wean me onto seafood. We went to Angelakis and asked Tom's mate Monte what he recommended that day, and he suggested some snapper. We bought the recommended amount, which turned out to be twice as much as we could eat. Oops! That's ok, the freezer can have it. One useful tip we picked up is that 'fresh' actually has meaning on the labels at the fish shop. We've been desensitised to it because of Woolies and Subway, but if the label at the fish shop doesn't say fresh, it means it's been frozen. Good to know.

We (and by 'we' I mean I chopped the veggies and Tom did the fish handling) made the fish the way Guo Yue demonstrated at Womad (you can find my review of his book here, and another of his recipes that I tried here). I must say, it was quite enjoyable: it didn't have an overly fishy flavour, and the sauce was great, although the bones did freak me out a bit. I would say that if you actually like fish, you will really really like this recipe, and it's not that much harder than just battering and frying the thing, for a much more impressive result.

Guo Yue's Fish

1. Cut a lot of spring onion (up to a whole bunch) into matchstick sized slices (use the green bits too).

2. Make some cuts in the fish (maybe 3 or 4), and wedge some slices of fresh ginger in them.

3. Shallow fry the fish in a little oil (we battered it with some flour too, and cooked it in a wok).

4. When the fish is nearly cooked, chuck on a clove or two of crushed garlic, and a similar amount of grated ginger. Cover with a lot of spring onion (ie. lots - enough to cover). Add a cup or two of white wine, and a small dash of soy and a little sesame oil (a dessert spoon or less I would say). Put the lid on, and let the sauce reduce as you steam it for a few minutes, or until you’re ready to serve.

(You may need to cook the fish in a few batches if you have a lot).

Monday, 7 May 2007

girly. But just briefly. Bear with me.

Not being a big makeup wearer, lipgloss is my bestest friend. I can feel like I'm wearing appropriately grownup makeup (25 bring it on!) without worrying that I've somehow got it wrong and look like a pork chop.

Therefore I like clear lipgloss the best (it goes with everything, and with minimum risk of pork-chop-age), which is shiny-shiny-shiny! (I am still a girl, after all).

So here are a couple to road test. I bought the Natio one (above) last week, and I'm not sure how I came about the Model Co. 'Glass' one (below). I suspect someone gave it to me (Margit?), or I got it as a freebie somewhere.

Both are very very shiny and glassy and liquid looking, without having sparkles. This to me is the most important factor. Tick! You could probably wear both over lipstick.

The Natio one actually tastes watermelon-y, although it does have that ubiquitous waxy flavour (I can't believe I just worked the word 'ubiquitous' into a post about lipgloss), and has an easy to use angled applicator. The Model Co. one only says it is watermelon flavoured - I can't taste anything other that wax, and the applicator is a little hole on a domed tip. You get a lipgloss worm like with cheese sticks in primary school. Both are equally slippery and slimy. But I guess if you want liquid-looking, there is a certain amount of liquid-feeling you just have to put up with.

The Natio one is $10 for 15mL, while the Model Co is $25 for a 5 x 8mL pack of various colours and 'flavours'. (I'm not sure if you can buy them separately, but I have only the one so I guess it's possible.) Therefore, if you want variety and quantity, the Glass is the better deal, but if you're not even going to make it through one tube in a hurry (like me), you're better off with the Natio. Although the Glass has the advantage of being that little bit smaller to fit in your purse. So small in fact, that it's lucky they give you five, because you'll probably lose them quick smart.

Basically, they're pretty much the same. The Natio one has the better taste and applicator, but the Model Co is pocket-sized and is arguably better value .


Thursday, 3 May 2007


Yesterday on my way home, I heard a funny noise over my ipod. It was hundreds of white cockatoos flying out of the tree that I was passing. There were so many, it was just amazing.

I'm very excited to watch my new Father Ted DVD. It's got my favourite episode, 'A Song For Europe', where Ted and Dougal enter the eurovision song contest. Some helpful person has put it up on YouTube in three parts - here is first part for your enjoyment.

Someone else likes the Daim! chocolates I mentioned. And as much as I like Ikea, this post on the megastore and their Swedish sweets is hilarious.

Last night I made stewed apple and rhubarb, and this morning I ate it for breakfast with some honey Paris Creek yoghurt. Yum! I also watched the Cook and the Chef, and Maggie made a caponata that looked delicious. And actually do-able at home! I may just try it. Speaking of eggplant, the new Traveller's Lunchbox recipe looks great too.

Tomorrow I'm going to fire warden training. I think I get to try out a fire extinguisher! Still no sign of the silly hat though. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007


Miss Heidi lent me this one; she was really excited about it, and recited anecdotes with such enthusiam that I didn't realise when I appropriated it that she hadn't finished reading it yet! Ooops! Sorry Heidi!

Catharine Arnold's 'Necropolis' was an interesting read for me, because I don't usually read non-fiction (except for the Wikipedia of course). 'Necropolis' is a history of London's burial culture and practices, going right back to Roman Londinium. She takes her story through medieval, Elizabethan, Victorian and modern times; through cremation, burial and embalming; through morgues, churchyards and cemeteries; and through plagues, wars and disasters. She uses these points of departure to additionally comment on burial practices throughout Europe and the world, but also, more importantly, the history and development of London.

I found this book really interesting, as you really do learn a lot about the history of London outside of the specific topic; for example, you get hints of information about the development of certain diseases and the way they were dealth with, the way hospitals operated at various times, design and architectural aesthetics at different periods, the layout of the city, religion, land rights, as well as specific events in history. In this sense, the book uses death as a focal point for a general discussion of the development of a city: thus I found I have a much better broad understanding of British history from reading this book.

Of course the book does focus on death, and it's full of gory stories from the ages. Like the people who opened a coffin from a vault and found that the body had emitted a large amount some kind of liquid, so in the true spirit of the Enlightenment and the scientific method, they tasted it. omigod. SO. GROSS. And like the gravedigger who literally suffocated from the fumes of his overcrowded cemetery. There are also slightly less disgusting fun facts, like the reason why the Piccadilly line curves on its way out of London: because the straight course would run through an old burial field, with bones too dense to tunnel through. Or that the modern concept of the community park began through the development of common land burial grounds with a dual purpose. The book takes you from Roman cremation, to city churchyard burial, to overflowing city burial grounds, to the development of grand suburban cemeteries, to the Victorian culture of mourning, to World War monuments, to modern displays of death (eg. Diana's funeral), to new and environmentally friendly interments.

Considering I don't usually read non-fiction books, I really enjoyed this one, and considering its subject matter I had no problems reading it before bed (and I'm pretty squeamish about many things). It's rigorous enough to be interesting in an academic way, but light enough to read for fun. That being said, the main problem that I had with this book is that although Arnold tries to be quite thorough, she's so familiar with her subject matter that she occasionally forgets to spell out quite crucial elements to her non-expert readership. A few times, she would introduce a new concept, and only at that point would I realise I had been assuming it all along. For example; I realised only when she started to talk about their development, that headstones (at least for universal consumption) are a relatively recent invention. I'm still not quite sure when they were first invented, or when they became commonplace. Another example would be the embalming of the body. I didn't realise that this is standard in modern burials, and thus wasn't assuming it for the past either. And I didn't realise that coffins are built not to decompose. These are obviously such basic elements that Arnold takes them as assumed knowledge; however in light of our relatively closed modern attitudes to death, I personally would have found it helpful to have the spelled out a little more.

On the whole though, 'Necropolis' is a really thorough and informative book though, and in a broader sense than just about death. If you feel like a bit of non-fiction fibre, then I think you're likely to find it really interesting.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

moving up in the world.

Ever since I've worked here, I've had this problem. We've got an online phone directory, and my details are wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. For a while I was in admin, then I was in geography, then I had the wrong phone number, wrong office etc etc etc. I know I'm a bit of an anomaly in the system, but I must've rung the phone people 5 or 6 times over the last year and a half (unsurprisingly, the've got an easy phone number to remember); I've even spoken to the big boss of the phone people, trying to get them to put my details in correctly. But every time I give them the correct details and they promise to input them, I check the directory a couple of days later to find they've inputed all new wrong details. Why would they assume that I don't know where my office is or what I do when I spend 29.4 hours a week in there doing it? Why do they feel compelled to ignore my instructions and find the 'right' details? The best I can figure is that my details are terribly wrong in some database somewhere that they have to cross-check the phone book against.


Anyway, the last time I went through this rigmarole, I thought they'd gotten it pretty close. I spoke to the big boss of the phone people, and she said she would override all the mistakes. I checked the directory, and it was almost right. I still had an imaginary fax machine, but since no-one's likely to need to fax me, I thought I could live with it.

But last night, I looked myself up, because I couldn't remember my phone number (I don't call myself that often, and nor does anyone else). And lo and behold, apparently I'm now half way through a PhD. Aren't I clever!

Now I'm beginning to think I'm going about this entirely the wrong way. Instead of asking the phone people to fix my directory entry, maybe I should ring the scholarship people to find out why my funding's not coming through.