Tuesday, March 30, 2004

woo hoo!

If you're someone I know in real life or you've been keeping up with the infrequently updated news on the front page of splateagle.com, you'll know that I recently rolled out a personal advertising campaign of sorts as a new approach to my on-going job hunt. Well in under two working days I've got further with this than I have in six months of conventional job hunts, and on Monday I have an interview!

The company in question has made it very clear that they're not sure they have anything for me (in fact I think I have them a little baffled!) but they are hiring and I've certainly got their attention, so that's a start!

As promised here is a .pdf copy of the main part of my mail-shot (it's 72kb and if you don't already have one, you'll need some kind of .pdf reader like Preview or Acrobat to view it) - there's a little yellow insert with my contact details that I haven't included because it's kinda fiddly to make into a .pdf file, and because I'm not asking you lot for a job! also the file as it stands won't make a lot of sense unless it's printed out and folded in six (in half lengthwise and then into three making it an even square) but it gives you an idea what I'm blethering about.

Monday, March 29, 2004


I'm feeling short today. I have no idea why, but I am (and before certain people start, I am not short, I just feel short - OK?)

I used to get this a lot when I lived in Aberdeen where periodically the streets would be filled with oil rig workers on leave - all of whom seemed to me to be implausibly tall! I'd be walking up Union Street, and find myself standing at a pedestrian crossing at only shoulder height with all the other people on the pavement! I'm really really not short. I'm not particularly tall either (about five feet nine inches, or one hundred and seventy five centimeters tall, which is a perfectly respectable middling sort of height) but I never really feel like my height - my mental image of myself is a good couple of inches taller than his real-world counterpart on most days, so it's doubly unsettling when I have a short day... especially when there aren't any big strapping riggers about to gawp at by way of compensation ;)

Monday, March 22, 2004


Something in the Library has started making a low whining sound and if it carries on for much longer I might well go insane.

Had a great weekend with Mum and Dad who came to visit, we didn't really do anything because - as always happens when my parents visit me - Scotland decided to rain all weekend (of course now that it's Monday and they've gone home the sun has been shining from a crystal clear blue sky all day. bah.) However we had fun sitting about and being the Bears who Stayed Indoors as Mum put it.

... must go and locate the source of this crazy-making noise...

Thursday, March 18, 2004


here are some photos from my trip to Newcastle last weekend, I'll see about linking them properly from the pictures page later on


Last night after picking up the week's shopping in Sainsbury's, I got back to the car to find one of my back tyres had completely deflated - the culprit seems to be a splinter of stone-like material embedded in the tyre itself... I wasn't impressed, not least because my spare is one of those wee emergency ones which limit you to 50mph, but on the other hand I had been thinking I needed new rear tyres anyway.

The two bright-sides to having to go and get it sorted out this morning (you can't keep driving on an emergency spare for long) were firstly the very lovely mechanic I dealt with at Kwik-Fit. We liked him! (by which I mean I did): he was sexy in a very straight-forwardly Scottish way, and he had a lovely voice which made me calm down about the whole thing. With being so much later into town than usual I hit lots of very bad traffic, and then got to Kwik Fit to find I'd left my walet in my other trousers (which of course I'd changed a wheel in and couldn't wear to work.) So all in all I was more than a little stressed, but he had a calm and capable air to him and made me feel it was all alright...


anyway... The other thing just made me laugh. One of the other customers waiting was a friendly middle aged woman - one of these types who needs to keep finding things to talk to people about in waiting rooms. I'm just the opposite: I can happily sit quietly the whole time, but I'll also (usually) make the effort to be friendly...

After another lady she'd been talking to left Talky Lady and I chatted happily away about nothing in particular for a while, and then kind of ran out of things to say. Like I said this is fine by me, but I don't think she enjoyed silence - she kept leafing through the papers and engaging me in short conversations about bits of news. After a few minutes of this she reached a full page article (with pictures) about a gay screen-kiss that apparently aired recently on Coronation Street (the paper in question was 'the Sun', and you can always rely on it to cut right to the really serious issues... *rolls eyes*) anyway it was on the little table between us so I could see both the article and (via the wrinkle of her nose at seeing it) what was coming. This isn't a word for word transcript but it's pretty close (tone of voice is in brackets)

Talky Lady: "ugh..." pushes paper about a bit, like a finiky child might with sprouts on her plate. Flips pages back and then forward, then returns to offending photograph (declarative)"I don't like all this stuff on TV nowadays."
Patrick: (friendly and neutrally interested) "what's that?"
TL: "Well there's all this..." pause (disgusted) gestures at paper "... gay stuff!"
P: raises eyebrow (non-committal with a dash of surprise) "oh?"
TL: (more declarative) "it's just disgusting seeing it on Telly."
P: eyebrow edges higher (amusedly questioning) "really?"
TL: realisation dawns that's she might have misjudged this (pre-emptively defensive) "of course I don't mean gay people..." shuffles paper again "... I don't have a problem with gay people but"* (adopts tone of one describing the smell of vomit) "seeing it..."
P: involuntarily pulls the "hmm" face (adopts tone you'd use to say 'that's nice dear') "I see."

... At this point she'd picked up that this wasn't a line of conversation she was going to enroll me in and some idea of how she sounded. So she began frantically back-pedalling, embarrassedly covering for her exposed bigotry like someone who's just realised their knickers are showing. I managed not to laugh.

A long-ish monologue followed about how there was just too much kissing on TV really and of course it really didn't matter if it was a man and a woman or a man and a man she "just didn't need to see that"... (perhaps I'm maligning her and she really has reacted with disgust to all the billions of straight screen kisses she's seen screened in her life... but I doubt it.) after a few minutes of which I took pity and threw her an exit line about most programs just using it to be sensational anyway (which is true) and it often having nothing to do with the plot. This let her off talking about it any more, much to her apparent relief.

What amused me was the way in which, without saying or even really intoning any direct disapproval, I'd managed to make it abundantly clear just how far out of line her "disgusting" comment was... (and that part is quoted verbatim.) From then on the poor woman remained quite uncomfortable, and when when the mechanics waved that they'd finished patching up her Mondeo, she had the look of one released from death row!

* Incidentally why does anyone ever bother saying this? it's the conversational equivalent of strapping a big flashing neon sign to ones self which reads "homophobe in denial"

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I am doing the photo album, I just didn't get round to it last night...

oh and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

weekend update

This weekend I went to Newcastle with Hamish to visit my friend Abby and set up a few things on her shiny shiny new computer, which is very impressive! Mostly what we spent our weekend doing though was walking on beaches (along Tynemouth beach from Whitley Bay on Saturday and then up the beach at Bamburgh to the castle on Sunday.) Later today when I'm at home and can ftp, I promise I'll put up a little photo album for you all but if you're reading this before Tuesday evening you'll just have to be patient and use your imagination.

Beyond the impending photos I'm not going to do a "what I did at the weekend" type entry because it would be very long and probably not all that interesting to read. I'll just say that I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends and exploring more of Newcastle.

What I am going to post about though is the sea: I miss living within walking distance of a beach, much like you might miss an old friend. In my first year at Aberdeen Dad used to joke that the beach was my best friend and he wasn't far wrong at the time: I spent whole days down there just walking or sitting or reading... just being... and I loved it.

Even after I got over my own shyness, and had places other than the sea to go to from my isolated little self-catering hovel - and even people to go and be with! I'd still visit the sea as often as I could. In the early days of first-year I quickly found that everyone I wanted to be with, lived away down in the catered halls on campus. The self-catering student village I'd chosen to live in seemed populated entirely by noisy nocturnal creatures I had nothing in common with except (mercifully!) my sleeping patterns. Not living where 'everyone else' was it took a couple of months of being alone most of the time, before I really had any kind of social circle in Aberdeen.

As the city warmed up socially I found many of my new friends were as infatuated with the sea as I, and we'd go in twos and threes and twentys down to walk on the sand as often as Artic Circle weather would permit (which is more often than you might think!) My best memories of that city have as their sound track the music of friends' voices against the precussion track of sea on sand...

After I moved to Edinburgh the sea and I became the kind of old friends who only get to see each other on weekends and holidays, but every time I'm near it I feel charged, especially when it's as animated as it was this weekend. One day I'll live by the sea again, but in the mean time I must make sure to visit it more often.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

on Dreams

I just had a very strange dream. I fell asleep without meaning to earlier in the evening and had one of those very vivid and specific nap-dreams. This one involved going shopping for a car with my Mum. We were in a shop that was a sort of cross between a giant B&Q Depot and the little Emmaus flea-market place near my folks' house in France... anyway Mum was convinced that she wanted to buy an old 'C' reg* Peugot 309 that had been kept in a shoebox since new and had 0 miles on the clock...

I spent a lot of time and energy trying convince Mum that firstly the 309 is a grim little car that she shouldn't buy, and secondly sitting idle for 18 years inside a shoebox really wouldn't have been good for any car, but she wasn't listening to me... in a typical dream-logic way the store suddenly went from very busy to closed and deserted, and the whole 309 thing was left unresolved while we (me, my sister my Mum and Anita) went home to a village resembling one of the ones near here only far far noisier (everyone in it shouted, a lot.)

then I woke up and spent a good hour or so being very very disoriented, then I wrote it all down for you lot and now I'm off to make pasta, eat the pasta and then go to bed, where hopefully I won't dream of french hatchbacks...

*I'm somewhat disturbed to find that my subconscious is so stuffed with pointless car information that it knew the 309 dated back to 1986 and could put an appropriate registration plate on this fictional vehicle, oh and the caption for the linked photo says "1997" even though the 309 was discontinued in '93 (see, I'm a lost cause when it comes to auto-trivia) but it's almost exactly what the car in my dream looked like... except it isn't dusty and inside a giant shoebox of course

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

bouncey links

I've said before that the counters built into these pages simply seemed to be a mechanism for telling me how little traffic this site gets, what I haven't mentioned is that since then that's ceased to be even remotely true, and that I appear to have a fairly broad ranging international readership, so just a quick note to all of you out there who I've never met:


I've also said before that I didn't know how to do bouncey links, refering to a specific entry in one of my archives, in response to which one of you kind people-I-don't-know emailed me a short tutorial on exactly how to do that, so now I do (as you can see if you follow the links in this post) neat eh?

which reminded me to mention that while I did take out all the 'mailto:' links from this page (on account of evil spam-bots) I do welcome email from anyone about anything on the site, the address is dead simple, site related mail can be addressed to mail[at]splateagle.com


that's the sound of a happy splat: I'm really very happy about several things today, but beyond announcing that I don't feel like elaborating just this minute, so ner. ;)

Monday, March 08, 2004

weekend update

so that was fun.

I had another great Friday night out with the gang, in spite of being felt up by a disturbingly grabby drunken OAP in Greyfriars before the show. The pub was unusually busy and the only spot free happened to be next to a loud (and patently rat-arsed) party mostly composed of middle aged men - it looked like a retirement bash of some kind, so I guess they had good reason for being plastered, but they were so rude: sprawling across twice as many tables as they really needed in a very crowded bar, blowing smoke everywhere, shouting at each other and all the while poking, prodding and generally bumping into us at roughly three second intervals... I'd already planned to leave ahead of the others as I was meeting a new friend Frank who (understandably) felt that being dropped into the midst of our Friday crowd from a cold start was a somewhat daunting prospect. Just before I left I was quite unashamedly groped by the elderly man who appeared to be the guest of honour - I'm told I turned a very strange colour but I just about kept my cool. I'm happy to find that someone eventually retaliated but after all girls can get away with that easier than boys.

The Improverts were on good form, and afterward we adjourned to Whistle Binkies which seemed like it'd have been a great place to be were it not for all the noise - we really need more quiet Friday night places.

On Saturday Hamish and I worked on a self-promotion project I've been playing with which is now very nearly finished (actually it is finished I just don't have the right materials to produce it yet, something I intend to rectify tomorrow afternoon if possible.) and then watched Betty Blue with Anita, who was seeing it (incredibly) for the first time and didn't quite keep up with the subtitles.

After the movie (and after discovering that I'd got Iain's phone number wrong) Hamish and I set off to Glasgow for Iain's party, stopping briefly at Tesco in Lanark to buy the wherewithal for making ourselves 'tequilla rapido' because it looked like fun in the film on arriving at Iain's we spent about half an hour talking to people in the kitchen before pitching right in to the party as a whole... well Hamish pitched in, I sat in a corner and caught up with Iain, at whose instruction I ducked getting involved in the drinking game Hamish lost, (which I was surprised by because he'd seemed to play quite well) and ended up drinking some evil concoction from the navel of a lovely young woman called Amy whilst barking like a dog - no it didn't seem much like losing to me either.

The party wound down around midnight I think, but some of us stayed on talking and drinking, and I think Iain and I finally gave up and went to sleep at about 4am. Predictably enough I did almost nothing on Sunday. Pretty good weekend really.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

and now...

... for something completely different.

my good friend Theresa has been saying for ages now that she wanted to put up an online journal, and now she has. Yay!

welcome to blog-land T!


When I started working here I had no car and I walked everywhere, including the 45 minutes here and home each way each day, rain or shine... and I loved it. The place I stayed then was rented, and (Edinburgh property prices being what they are,) when it came time to buy my first home I moved out of the city. I tried my damnedest to find somewhere where I wouldn't have to own a car - my house is two minutes walk from the nearest train station, but I tried commuting by train and it drove me mad: getting in is fine, but I have to wait until 7pm for the first train back home (plenty pass the station before then, none stop.)

So I bought a car (which I car share as much as possible with my housemate,) it's a low-emission compression diesel that averages about 55 miles to the gallon (and which incidentally would be even more environmentally friendly than it already is if biodiesel were commercially available) and I still walk whenever possible in town.

In a couple of years Edinburgh city Council will introduce road tolls for those of us who drive into the city, a move I whole-heartedly support, but not one penny from which will go toward increasing the public transport available to me (South Lanarkshire isn't on the list to get any of the funds raised by the Edinburgh tolls, it's almost all likely to go on the city's proposed internal tram network with the remainder going to the Borders, West Lothian, and Fife transport authorities)

This week a colleague of mine has organised 'eco-week' at work: a week of events aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues among pupils and staff. Today it's transport day, and as part of this the parking facilities have been halved with a fee imposed on staff to park their cars for the day (the idea being this would encourage us to find alternate means of transport)

Unless I'm prepared to extend my already long-ish working day by two hours (which I'm not today) there is none, so I brought the car as usual and (somewhat grumpily) resigned myself to coughing up a few quid to park it... only I pulled into the campus to find almost every one of my car owning colleagues (most of whom live in the city, and many of whom could easily have walked in or taken the bus) had done the same! there was nowhere to park but on the street, so I'm even grouchier about this than I was expecting to be.

I was already annoyed about this Transport Day thing: the principle is sound, and if it were being done well I'd be happy to put up with being inconvenienced, but the colleague in question is putting a very complex issue in black and white terms, as well as presenting a small and sketchy sample of alternatives: there's a cycling advocacy group on campus today, an example of Honda's loss-making hybrid petrol-electric car (a two seater? how practical! and how's that electricity generated? oh yes, burning fossil fuel...) and a rep. from Lothian buses. That's it. Nothing about organising car pools, or the development of hydrogen fuel cells, no mention of means to make existing cars less harmful to the environment (biodiesel I've already mentioned, but what about LPG gas conversions?) nothing about presenting drivers with well funded and thought out alternatives before taxing us all through the noses...


so I'm being demonised, penalised and put-out today all in the name of raising environmental awareness, which I guess I wouldn't mind if real awareness was being raised but it plainly isn't so I'm cross.

Monday, March 01, 2004

and now, a word from our sponsor

well OK not quite but the nice people at creative commons ran a competition to describe what they do in a short film and this is the quite brilliant winning entry. (might take a while to download if you're on a slow connection)

on marriage

With all the hoo-hah going on in the sates just now about same sex marriages, and with our own government lumbering toward a compromise of sorts, I've been doing some thinking about the issue and trying to figure out how I feel about it, so since this thing is a mechanism for a) helping me do just that and b) soap-boxing the results to the world, I figured I'd be topical and actually talk about something rather than nothing for a change.

When I was young me and my sister (who in those days lived happily in each others pockets) would often talk about the future. I can remember marriage being one of those big Important Future Things we'd talk about sometimes. I remember us each testing out our thoughts on the other, and engaging in long and ernest discussions about them - some days we were just like that... I came to the conclusion pretty early on that (unlike my sister) marriage didn't really matter to me for myself, while at the same time wholly accepting that it did for her: we were after all brought up to be pretty open minded individualistic little philosophers. Back then there were a few pieces of the puzzle missing for me in my grasp of the arguments (details like the gender of my hypothetical partner for example) but I think the fundamentals were there all the same. I also think I had it utterly wrong.

My argument always ran that marriage wasn't important to me, because I didn't buy into the institutions surrounding it as necessary validators of my own personal feelings (no, I probably didn't use those exact words but that was the gist) Of course if it mattered to the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with I'd happily go along with it, but I felt that I didn't need or want it. What I think I was doing then as a kid trying to figure out the world and my future in it, is what I think the US administration are doing now: namely confusing marriage with a particular set of personal values and religious ceremonies rather than the broader universally human idea those ceremonies were created to service.

This morning I was reading 'round the few blogs I sometimes read which belong to people I've never met, one in particular struck me as accidentally summing up for me exactly what it is that I've been uncomfortable with in this discussion - Meg isn't talking about this particular issue but what she says resonates all the same because just as marriage isn't about the specific religious beliefs attached to it by any one group and their ceremonies, it equally isn't about the 'civil union' aspects of legally legitimising a relationship, it's not about any of the external reasons at all - it's about two people being in love and wanting to announce and cement that among the people who matter to them. Denying any one group that basic civil right is plain wrong, just as Wil so elloquently explains.

who'd have thought that it'd be politics that'd turn me into a romantic?

So marriage does matter to me after all, and not for all those "fundamental institution" reasons that Bush is getting so agitated about having devalued, or for the "equal under the law" reasons which seem to be at the foreground in the public debate. It matters because when and if I meet someone and fall in love with him, I want to be able to share that with the people who matter to me, in the same way that I was so sure I wouldn't need to when I was too young to understand what exactly it might be when I found it.