The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wish You Were Here?

It's such a quiet evening. It felt odd to do a late night at work and not have Steve come and pick me up. Funny how quickly you get used to things, isn't it? Fortunately it was a beautiful warm evening, so walking hone wasn't too bad really, just knackering after a long day and I never did like arriving home at 7.30 and straight away having to cook. I still prefer to eat earlier if I can. I'm sure you're better off that way.

It's been a pretty standard kind of day. The management team yet again showed how little they value anyone who work's for them and at the same time managed to botch their communication yet again, when it came to Val's letter about how she'd been overpaid. She is normally a very easy going person, but today she exploded... I think it's getting to the stage where everyone has been pushed to the limit and they're starting to fight back. I only wish that it would do something to dent their seemingly impregnable sense of their own worth, but it seems not. They just don't care and it's as simple as that. They don't care that morale is lower than ever, that we feel put upon and miserable, that communication is worse than ever... well if they don't care why should anyone else?
I think I want to go when I qualify. The problem is, I don't think it's going to much different wherever I go.

Current Music: Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Current Drink: Tea
Current Fruit in Our House: Cherries, Papaya, Bananas, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Blueberries.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bank Holiday

It's been a nice weekend. Although I was working on Saturday, it's still nice to get the extra day off at the end of it and I don't feel as if I've squandered it away, which sometimes happens on Bank Holiday weekends.
Steve is busy at the moment trying to get his story finished for a short story competition, the closing date of which is Wednesday. It's rather good, but in need of some severe editing as it's 2000 words over length. It takes real skill and a simple premise to tell a good story in 2500 words, but I'm certain he can get it down to length and it'll still be good. I've read it and I liked the premise and the central character a great deal, so I hope it does well for him.

We had a lovely evening on Saturday, as our good friend Dave came over to watch Doctor Who with us. We had a great time having a few glasses of wine, and a good chat with him. He's a great guy, very friendly and out going (which I suppose you have to be if you work in the entertainment business trying to sort out the entertainment for cruise ships) and he always makes us laugh with his stories. I think he was a bit embarrassed the morning after, as fuelled by the alcohol, he'd asked us some pretty searching questions about our relationship and how it works... If they'd been that bad we wouldn't have answered them, so there weren't any real worries there.

We have, however, seemingly managed to upset several people on PS over the weekend. It's all so damn silly, with people taking offence at what we thought we fairly innocent comments. In some ways it stems from our reaction to this week's episode, which we thought was really very good, and when we went online at the end of the night of drinking, we found that people weren't quite as enthusiastic as we were. The next morning, we went back on and didn't really check the thread carefully, and Steve happened to mention the rather indifferent reaction it'd got.
Before you know it, some people rate posting to complain that we're encouraging a wholly positive outlook on the new show, and that you're not allowed to criticise the new series at all (which since we didn't like The Girl in the Fireplace and said as much on that thread, would be hypocritical of us) and a certain poster had a bit of a strop (sorry, but that's how it came across to us) saying he'd not bother putting up his comments on the thread anymore because of it. Well that of course is up to him, but it would be a great shame if he didn't.
So what we've ended up with, as far as I can see, is a silly little misunderstanding, over nothing in particular. We said out bit, and so did they. It's not even that we don't like the people involved (well apart from the one who gets on my tits fairly often, but that's another matter), it's just that I think everyone involved has overreacted somewhat. We're not perfect and sometimes we do say things that with a little bit more thought we might not do, but that's what happens on message boards. Ah well. It'll blow over soon enough and it'll be business as usual before too long I'm sure.

Current Music: Grandaddy: OK With My Decay
Current Most Listened to Band on Last FM: Super Furry Animals
current Most Played Song According to Last FM: Franz Ferdinand: Do You Want To?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

A few weeks back the conversation at work drifted to baking, and I revealed that I had baked a cake when we'd some friends to stay. That Carrot Cake hadn't been altogether a success, as due to the lack of a set of kitchen scales I'd guessed the quantities, and hadn't put in enough sugar, but despite that I was rather pleased with the way it'd turned out. Mentioning this, Carol and Annette turned to me and said "Well, you never bake us anything" and so yesterday afternoon I baked them all a cake. I wanted to do something to say thanks to them all for helping with my dissertation surveys, and this seemed the perfect thing to do.
It turned out really well, lovely and moist and sweet enough this time! I've spent the day basking in their praise! It's been a nice boost to be honest. I think we all like to show off a bit at times, and to show that I've got a few talents that they don't expect is always good! Of course, this now means that I'll have to bake them a few more, but I don't mind at all, as it's something I really enjoy and devoting sometime to baking isn't really a bad thing.

The questionnaires are being returned now, and I'm pleased with both the response rate and the results I'm getting from them. Despite my worries about it, I'm getting some material that's useful even if not all the respondents felt able to answer all the questions. One of the respondents even noticed the typos that had slipped past me, Steve and my tutor Jackie! Oops!
I have to admit I'm a bit worried about the follow up interviews. Fitting everything in might be tough and I'm wondering if two focus groups might be better than a few in depth interviews. I'm worried that some people might not have enough to say looking at the responses on the questionnaire and that if I've got a few people together then they might respond better and bounce ideas off each other. I'll have a think about it and talk to Jackie and see what she thinks. Is changing plan now a good thing? Can I justify why? We'll see!

We went swimming for the first time in weeks again last night. As I've said before, sometimes life gets in the way of everything else, and we've had things to do the last few Wednesdays. Still it was really pleasing to manage 40 lengths without too much difficulty, and do it in possibly our best ever time. It's good to see us push ourselves a bit more each time.

Current Music: Neil Finn: Sinner
Current Novel: Lance Parkin & Mark Clapham: Beige Planet Mars
Current Questionnaire Returns: 23/ 45

Monday, May 22, 2006

Weather With You

It rains every time we go down the A12 you know. This is probably just a coincidence though, as we don't go down the A12 very often, but both times we've travelled back from visiting Richard it's poured down and the journey hasn't been all that pleasant. It took us nigh on 5 hours to get home yesterday (although we did stop at Brent Cross for a cuppa and some shopping), but we did get to listen to the whole of the Quintessential Phase of the Hitch Hikers radio series.
The new radio series's were pretty good overall. There's always a danger that when you go back to something after so long that you might not be able to recapture all that was great about it in the first place, and here we had the twin problems of the deaths of Douglas Adams and Peter Jones, plus of course the main cast being a lot older too. Somehow it seemed to work though, probably through the familiarity of the voices that felt like old friends reunited... Simon Jones still is the authentic Arthur and always will be in the way that Martin Freeman never will be. I really liked the new ending. That's not something you hear me say very often, as I'm a bit of a stickler for accurate adaptations, but I'm glad the series had the happy ending it deserved rather than the rather downbeat ending Mostly Harmless had. Maybe resurrecting Marvin was a step too far (as his death had been rather poignant in The quandary Phase) but overall it was rather good.

We had a good weekend, despite the constant rain that followed us. Richard is a very good friend. Of all the guys I met from OG for the first time almost five years ago, I really did manage to become close friends with the best of them. He's very good company, and I always forget just how silly he is... But that does mean we always have a laugh when we're together.
We laughed a lot over the weekend, even at his bad jokes! We made Crumble (sticky fingers!), drank lovely wine, watched Eurovision and Doctor Who and we even managed a trip to Iken Marshes where they filmed Power of Kroll (you see, only the best for us) despite the best efforts of Richard's Tom Tom to take us the most indirect route at every available opportunity. Steve was delighted to the swamps of Delta 4 hadn't changed a bit... Well it is still a swamp, even now!
I hope it's not another 5 months before we seem him again, and it'd be nice to go and see him when it wasn't raining!

Doctor Who was great this weekend. The Cybermen showed their might, there was a bit more Cyber-Conversion stuff (and horrible it looked too, especially when the empty helmet was dropping down...) and Mickey found his place in the Universe... Even if it was the wrong one. Itw as the perfect way for him to leave the show I think. At least the Doctor finally recognised he could be a hero too. He was much undervalued by both Rose and the Doctor. Good stuff!

Current Music: (the much missed, died far too early) Matthew Jay
Current Doctor Who: Enemy of the World
Current Breakfast Cereal: Sainsbury's Apricot Wheats

Friday, May 19, 2006


I love Eurovision! Lats night, for the first time ever, I sat and watched the semi-finals. Depite the event lacking the Wogan touch, I still found the event great fun. There's just something wonderful about it, just watching what everyone comes up with, and some of the more outlandish singers, songs and costumes make it all a wonderfully worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours. Finland were brilliant, with the moment where the singer's wings unfolded and then slowly folded back up being my laugh out loud moment of the event! Iceland's bonkers song, with it's call to God got the only boos I can ever remember at Eurovision and Slovakia were cheated of a deserved place in the final, alas.
It's looking unlikely that I'll get to see this years actual final, as we're going away for the weekend (a long overdue visit to see Richard Beeby, who we've not seen for a fair while now) so I'll have to console myself with the semi finals this year, but I live in hope of one day sitting down with Gaz to watch it... it's been mooted many times, but we only managed it the once, back in 1996, the year of Gina-G's mirror costume! Last night featured the usual round of phone calls and texts between the songs and a lot of laughs. That's why I love it!

Current Music: Crowded House: Distant Sun (live 1996)
Current Doctor Who: Web of Fear (recon)
Current fruit with lunch: Bananas and Plums

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cyber Smackdown

One of the reasons that I'm so happy (in general) posting on Planet Skaro is that unlike on most forums there's room for some reasonable debate without it all turning nasty and personal.
Today is a great example of this. What started out as a few throwaway comments about why people like or dislike Revenge of the Cybermen (unfortunately most people are unable to appreciate it...) turned into several pages of reasonable debate about when the Cybermen were at their best. It's the kind of irrational argument that can easily get out of hand on a Doctor Who forum (believe me, I've seen it happen over far lesser issues!), because everyone tends to have a set view on the issue. What we got, however, was a well reasoned argument from all sides, defending every type of Cybermen, even the ones that ran away from gold arrows in Silver Nemesis!

The Eighties versions remain my favourites, if only because they terrified so much after Earthshock was broadcast. My Dad had, and indeed still has, the habit of turning off all the lights in the rooms of the house that aren't being used, and so going to bed after Doctor Who always meant going up to the dark landing upstairs... we had three big cupboards all the way along the landing where I was sure there were Cybermen hiding, ready to march out and take me away... It was always that feeling that they were hiding in the dark that scared me most, and when I grew up a bit and thought about what conversion would be like (thanks to David Banks Cybermen book) that feeling of unease grew! (for that reason I found the book Killing Ground and the audio Spare Parts very uncomfortable too). That's why they're my favourite Doctor Who monsters and why I'm enjoying the current story so much, because for the first time ever we're seeing some of the horror of Cyber Conversion on TV.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Plans and Schemes.

Days seem to pass by so quickly at the moment. It's a constant complaint in our house that there's not enough time to get everything done. Maybe we just take too much on, but just at the moment life seems to be a whirl of people to see, ironing to do (well for Steve anyway...), a dissertation, Doctor Who and so much more besides. We can't fit it all in, no matter how hard we try.
In the spirit of trying, however, Steve has headed back to Watford to rejoin the karate club. Having put off the Reading club as a bad idea (doing most things in Reading is a bad idea), this seemed like a slightly better one. I hope it works out for him. I think he's been at a bit of a loss without it... the plans for joining the gym stalled somewhat, possibly due to my complete lack of enthusiasm for ever being a gym member (I really enjoy the swimming, but I've always found the idea of going to the gym a really uninteresting one... I'd much rather be doing some exercise outside, like walking... I like walking and there's little that is actually better for you than that, but it's a matter of perspective generally) and I think he needs something like karate to focus on. Me, I'm happy ambling through life without beating myself up about what I'm not doing.

We had a packed and rather good weekend. After I'd finished work on Saturday we went up to Walthamstow to see Jonno. He's a lovely guy is Jonno, but it occurred to us recently that we've never really spent any time with him on his own... It's always been at PS meets or parties, and this was something we wanted to rectify. We had a great time, watching Doctor Who with him and going down the pub. Jonno is always good company and it was good to have a chance to get to know a bit more about him and to discover his love of the board game Talisman, which I played many times at university with Gaz... He's challenged us to a game sometime soon, which'll be good, as I haven't had the chance to play for a couple of years.
Doctor Who was great this week, though the reactions were puzzling in many ways... some choice comments included that it was too slow (despite most weeks people complaining that the show moves too fast and there's not enough time for characters to grow), there wasn't enough Cybermen (which was possibly fair, but in any story there has to be a build up the monster and in a creation story like this one, you want to build things up)... you just can't ever please the fans. I thought it was a very good episode overall, with a neat and logical progression. I think there'll be plenty of great Cyberman action this coming Saturday and that will hopefully change some of the reactions online.

On the way home we popped in to Ikea (if you can really do such a thing, it always takes a long time to get round, but that's no bad thing) and picked up a few bits and pieces we needed. It's easy to go overboard, but we were quite restrained this visit, mostly because they seem to have stopped stocking the DVD shelves we chose last September, which was very annoying.

And we even managed to do some gardening too! Mum and Dad kindly gave us their old lawnmower (the best guess at it's age is was 25 years... but it still works fine!) so Steve cut the grass at the front of the house (we don't have any at the back, thank goodness) and I did the sweeping up and a bit of weeding. I think this is something we're going to have to do more often than we've done so far, as the amount of dandelions I pulled up shows. It's not something either of us have really done much before, but I'm sure we'll get better the more we try. We've still got to do all those pots for the garden although with a draught order on the horizon, maybe we shouldn't bother, since we won't be able to water anything anyway...

Current Music: Neil Finn: Anytime
Current Doctor Who: Echoes of the Protii
Current shirt: checked like Davish Patel

Friday, May 12, 2006

Expanding Horizons

I'm not really a science person. Although I was pretty good at Biology and fairly good at Chemistry at school (though my Physics teacher did recommend that I gave the subject up!) they weren't the subjects that really excited me. I loved English and History and Geography far more, and with my imagination fired by what I learnt, those were the ones I went on to be pretty good at.
So it was a little surprising really that I went to a talk by Richard Dawkins the other night. Well maybe not, since he's married to the lovely Lalla Ward, my admiration for whom is almost legendary, and she was there reading with him. I wasn't really expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, expecting the subject matter to be a bit dry and over my head. I was wrong. he made the subjects he was talking about seem really rather exciting, and there were things I could relate too, when he talked about the way that science and literature have not always had a good relationship, particularly in poetry. That the passion and excitement he feels for his subject could make for great poetry is reasonable, and one that doesn't seem to be taken anywhere. The age old arts vs science prejudices tend to get in the way...
Anyway I was won over by his work. It was very accessible (I'm now reading one of his books too) and his arguments against the paranormal and astrology seem reasonable to me. It's an argument that we've seen often on PS, and I'm sorry, I'm with the scientists on this one I think... everything has an explanation, maybe we just haven't found all of the explanations we need yet. The paranormal make for some good stories, but I'm pretty much a sceptic when it comes to the existence of ghosts and poltergeists and the like!
And Lalla was great! Her accents were all very convincing and she does have a gorgeous and rather delightful smile!

We had a guy called Steve Rock in to talk to the writers group today. He was rather good and quite inspirational I think. It's always wonderful to listen to another writer talk passionately about the work he does, and thus get others enthused. I can't wait until the dissertation is over and I can get on and do a lot more writing. It's something that I haven't devoted enough time over the last couple of years, which is a shame as it's something I really enjoy.
I've always been a bit miffed really that Steve has never wanted to read my poetry. It's may not all be great, but there are some pieces that I'm really proud of. I don't know... I don't press the issue as there's no point making someone read things they don't want to read. Ah well! It's his loss I suppose!!

Current Music: George Harrison: When Was Fab
Current Book: Richard Dawkins: Unweaving the Rainbow
Current Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Horizons

I'm knackered! I've been on courses all day today and my brain feels like soup. That I've got more to go to tomorrow makes me feel even more tired. I've got to take it all in though, as I'm learning to use the new library management system, Horizon, and somehow I've found myself into he situation of having to teach to the rest of the team. As it goes I think it's going to be an ok system, not better or worse than the existing Dynix system, just different. I do think some for the library ladies will have problems with all the different windows and getting the hang of new ways of working. They're a conservative lot at the best of times... and more so when computers are involved... We'll see... I'm glad I won't be working the day the system goes live though!

Still, tomorrow night does have the attraction of going to see Richard Dawkins and his lovely wife Lalla Ward doing a talk in Reading. I'm really looking forward to that.

The first of my questionnaires for the dissertation went out today! Now the fun bits really begin. I hope that all those relationships I've cultivated over the last few years with all the older customers will finally pay off now... we'll wait and see!

David Bowie is the music of choice here at the moment. I can't believe there was a time not all that long ago that I really couldn't stand his work... I was blinded by the crap 80's period. It's a good thing Dan was there to put me straight. Hunky Dory is on at the moment, a particular favourite (maybe because it was the first one I heard, and in rather unique circumstances too...) and I'm sure Diamond Dogs (my big favourite) will get a listen this week too. I go through phases like this, where one artist gets a decent playing... it's not a bad thing, is it?

Current Music: David Bowie: Kooks
Current mood: Tired
Current PS Poster Who's Acting Like A Twat: Batman at the Controls

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lethargy on Sunday

I feel absolutely drained at the moment. I don't really know why, as I haven't really been doing anything out of the ordinary. I woke up yesterday with a sore ear and throat, which wasn't nice, and thankfully after a good night's sleep I seem to have shaken that off, but I'm still feeling very lethargic this morning. In fact I'd probably still be fast asleep if Steve hadn't called at 9.30 and woken me up. It's probably for the best that he did! (He's been off to Bristol to see Tim and James. I didn't go because I didn't feel up to it and I knew I'd have a miserable time if I did go. As it was I was in bed at 9.30 last night)

Everyone seems to be raving about last night's Doctor Who, and I don't know if it's because I was feeling a bit out of it or something, but I didn't think it was anything that special. I'm a bit undecided about it all really. There were some great moments in it, and some other moments that I really didn't like (although I was fine about the kiss, I didn't like the way the Doctor bragged about it afterwards, as that came across as a bit false and OTT to me)... but it does seem to be adding to the season's theme of loss and loneliness (at least that's what I think the season's theme is that... possibly leading up to the big revelation at the end from the Face of Boe that the Doctor isn't alone in the universe, perhaps? We'll see!). Maybe when I rewatch it with Steve later I'll change my opinion of it, but for now it stands as my least afvourite so far.

Current Music: Cocteau Twins: Calfskin Smack
Current mood: Lethargic
Current favourite fruit: Raspberries

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Last FM and Wednesday Stuff

Over the last week or so, I've become addicted to Last FM: (that's my homepage there!) It might not look like the most exciting website ever, but it's certainly intriguing. Basically what it is does is collect the stats from whichever media player you use on your PC and record what you're listening to, and make weekly charts of it. Your stats add into the whole and you can see what the most popular songs by certain artists are (it's usually something you'd least expect, of course!) and of course you build up your own list of favourites as time goes on. We're both members here, along with some of friends and it's quite nice to see what everyone is listening too and how popular your favourites are...

It's been a typical Wednesday here, lots of work got done (I'm now up to over 5000 words on the dissertation... that's a whole 1/4 done!), went to the shops, came home, did some more work, watched some TV... not awfully exciting, but quite necessary. We're not swimming tonight though.

Our current favourite old TV show on DVD is A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which I treated myself to on Tuesday. Brilliant stuff. It's aged quite well, since it's now 17 years old, and it turns out it's full of really brilliant material. I always liked the surrealness of it, and that still works... Damn it John! Of course, we've yet to get to the really great stuff with Jack and Neddy, a sketch that at the time made me giggle like a loon for ages, but hopefully we'll get it in time!

Current DVD: A Bit of Fry and Laurie series 1
Current Music: Queen: Killer Queen
Current Doctor Who: Web of Fear (recon)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Yesterday turned out to be kind of productive in the end. While Steve was busy working on his latest video (and very good it was too. I know I'm probably a bit biased, but I like his vids because they show some imagination, unlike some others who seem content to put random clips to random stories and stand back and wait for the applause) I came upstairs and got another 500 or so words added to my literature review. Three new useful articles arrived from the British Library this week, and they've really added quite a lot to the review I think. I'd like to get on with the data collection now, and since Jackie is back this week, I'll be able to get her to look over my questionnaires and hopefully we'll be set to go very soon.

I made some great juice too as we watched The Avengers at lunchtime. I think one of the greatest gadgets we've bought since the move has been the food processor. We enjoy all kinds of smoothies made in the blender (though we desperatley need some new ideas as we tend to put the same things in each time). Yesterday we used the juicer attactchment for a change and made a citrus one, with oranges, grapefruit and lime and it was very sharp, but really tasty and incredibly healthy. I think we eat really healthily these days... I certainly feel really healthy. My weight tends to fluctuate a bit, but at the moment I'm quite thin, I walk to work everyday, I go swimming most weeks and I feel really good about myself.

We went for a nice walk too. One of the nice things about Bracknell is that from where we live there's only a 10 minute walk (at most) until you get to some nice woods to walk through. There's actually quite a bit left not too far from here and so we spent a happy hour chatting away, getting lost and bickering about what was the way home... I was wrong this time!

Steve made us a big chilli for dinner and we had a happy evening rewatching Doctor Who with the commentary on BBC 3, and watching some of our new Bond DVDs (thank you eBay!). It might not sound like much, but it was a really nice day!

Current Music: Blur: Beetlebum
Current Doctor Who: Web of Fear
Current T-Shirt: Everlast Red No 10