Review: Dracula and Frankenstein: Penguin Clothbound Classics

I spotted these Penguin Clothbound classics on Amazon, and I decided to take a look at them.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

I’m a voracious reader. I always thought I would be the last person to embrace the new trend of eBooks. I still write some of my books on paper before I type them up, and I do all my planning on paper, too, and type that up. There’s something reassuringly solid about a nice book, with pages that can be turned. However, there’s distinct advantages to ebooks when you read in the quantity that I do. If you only have 1 chapter left, you don’t have the dilemma about whether to cram 2 books into your handbag for the day, or whether to risk having nothing to read at lunchtime. Physical books take up far too much room if you can’t afford a large house. Before I moved in with my husband, I moved around a lot, because I didn’t really have anywhere permanent to live, which meant that about once every three months, I would have to fill up a stacking crate or two with books, and carry them (I didn’t own a car) to a charity shop. I feel sad when I think of all the books I no longer have, books I liked, and would like to read again, because I simply didn’t have the space to keep them all. I still remember dragging those heavy boxes of books, my arms nearly falling off under the weight, to make sure they found a new home.

I had a very strict rule, though; if I couldn’t carry it, I couldn’t keep it. That was borne from being homeless and destitute a few too many times, because when you get somewhere to live after being homeless, especially if some charitable agency donates clothes or books to you, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of things again in a short space of time, but not necessarily the most useful or appropriate things. You feel bad about getting rid of them, though, and so I wouldn’t. Then, every time I ended up homeless again, usually because my mother hadn’t paid our rent, or she’d threatened to stab the landlord/lady who owned the place we were living in, or she’d been offensive or violent toward another resident in wherever we lived, we’d end up homeless again. And when there were so many objects, it was hard to know what to take when we had limited space and only very short amounts of time.

As an adult, then, I held fast to that rule, and because I had to move so frequently for work, I found it difficult to let the books go, but sometimes you have to make hard decisions when you haven’t quite found a place where you and things go together (shameless Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference… another book I no longer have).

Then, one day, about six and a half years ago, I found a place where I and things might go together, only my husband had already filled it all with his things and there wasn’t really any room for me and I didn’t feel it was my place to say anything. So about eighteen months later, when we had to move to a different city for teacher training, we upsized and rented an enormous house, many times the size of the one we have now. That house had about 4800 feet of floor space excluding the garages which the landlord retained. It had two kitchens, a laundry, servants’ quarters (we kept the bunny down there), and the sort of staircase with a huge sweep to it. We accumulated a lot of stuff but I was still reluctant to indiscriminately bring things into the house. I will never forget the time I came home from a long day and found that my husband had ordered eight enormous bookcases to turn one of the huge rooms of the house into a library for his 2000 books. To match, he added a handmade wooden dining table which seated twelve. I was initially apoplectic at all this unexpected furniture, but I got used to it.

This was when we had money, and prospects, and all sorts of other wonderful things (like a future). Those things have all been in extremely short supply for the last few years.

We moved to this (much smaller, but still fine for 2 people, at 600 feet square) house in late 2013 and because we were both working 14 hours a day, five days a week, we had to move overnight (we did it ourselves as we had no money for a removal van) and we literally just moved everything with no thought as to what to keep. I put in a lot of hard work clearing out our house over the last couple of years to declutter it of all the things we had accumulated when we lived in that proper house. One of my hardest tasks was to read the first three chapters of every single book in my husband’s 2000-book library to decide which ones were worth keeping. I pared it down by about 60% (and ended up reading most of the books we kept). The thing is, those 2000 books (now about 800) were all sci-fi and fantasy novels, of varying quality and noteworthiness, so we didn’t have copies of quite a few very common books, but we did have duplicates of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, amongst other things. Since my husband came with such an enormous library, I haven’t felt able to buy books for myself. Ebooks came to the rescue, on that score, and before I got Kindle for PC/iPhone, I missed so many new book releases because I felt bad for adding to the unmanageable collection of books we already had.

So with all that in mind, it feels a little bit ridiculous that I recently realized the value in having a nice set of decorative novels around the house. So when I learned about the Penguin Clothbound Classics, I was very taken by the design. I took a look through the list to see which books had been clothbound, and imagine my surprise when I found they’d picked Dracula and Frankenstein.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Frankenstein is a book that made a big impression on me when I first read it at fourteen (ditch the popular version retold a thousand times in film). It’s about a construct whose story reflects the otherness and isolation of trying to live in a world which often seems as though it’s made for a different type of person.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

What I really love about this version is it has anatomical drawings on the cover, of hearts, but they’re not pretty puffy hearts, they’re biology diagrams of hearts. I thought that was especially appropriate for the subject matter.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a story I started reading on my Kindle for iPhone about a year ago. I love that you can get free ebooks of all the great classics, but the Kindle version of Dracula that I got was really badly formatted and I gave up after about 30 pages. I think some books are better suited to being in paper form, so I’ve bought this version. The cover is all black, and while the design is not as inspired as that on the Frankenstein, I still rather liked it:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Here’s the title page inside each book:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula bram stoker

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula mary shelley

Here’s a page at random from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to show the text size and layout quality:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula mary shelley

I’m really looking forward to reading Dracula next!

I’ve got a bunch more of these on my mental wishlist, but at £11.99-£14.99 I could only let myself have 2 this time. Perhaps I’ll have the whole set before we emigrate, which is very likely to be August now, but probably not. There’s about 40 of them all told, which is £800-£1000, and there’s no way I can spend that much money on books!! I can’t talk about where we’re emigrating at the moment because it’s all working out, for the second time in my life something is actually working the way it ought to, and I don’t want to jinx it all, but I promise I’ll tell you all before we depart.

Here’s Dracula on Amazon.com. Apparently Frankenstein is out of print in the US but it’s here on Amazon.co.uk.

The psychology of choosing a color scheme for your website

I was reading (as I’m sure many of you do, too) Neil Patel’s blog earlier today when I came across this interesting article about the psychology of choosing a color scheme for your blog or website. I quite like reading articles that go into psychology, because while I doubt they’re applicable to everyone, everywhere, I usually find something of value in them (unless they’re truly terrible).

Most of Neil’s article was very interesting, and I liked spending time thinking about how color schemes affect the way my readers feel when they’re on my site. I don’t want anyone to get distracted by a jarring or stark color scheme and I do sometimes wonder if my black-and-white format is too harsh for my usual content.

I found his take on the “color wheel” (part-way down that article, looks like a flower) and at first I was interested, then I felt I just had to disagree with the “meanings” assigned to color. Purple, for instance was associated with revulsion. It’s my favorite color, so of course, I don’t feel revulsion when I see purple. According to the color wheel Neil had posted, the exact shade of orange which is part of his own branded color scheme, was a color which evoked mixture of vigilance and rage. It just doesn’t add up, does it?
I decided to search for some more interpretations of how color affects people, and I found these:

This one has been done phenomenologically and it’s sounding very authoritative but it has no evidence on which it’s based its conclusions, which appears to be an endemic problem in this topic.

This article from Entrepreneur.com has a good summary of the debates surrounding the psychology of colour and highlights the need for more evidence.
There is no doubt that color plays a huge part in buying behavior in marketing, but no-one seems able to agree on which colors are best to do what.

Personally? I think the most important thing is to use a color scheme that goes together properly. The color blender color matching tool often gives surprising results, but overall I think it works very well. In some instances, the coloring might be obvious (this erotica author’s writing site, for example, is themed monochrome and pink, and it’s easy to tell that it’s a steamy romance author’s site with exciting books) but in other cases, the role of color is ambiguous and complicated.

Different colors mean different things to different people, but we can associate color schemes or sets of colors with the things we know they represent – for example, fire is orange, water is blue, so is sky. If we see those colors, with other associated colors (orange with brown for the logs on the fire or black for coals, and grey for smoke, for example) it will definitely ensure people make links between a brand and a concept or thing.

I have no idea how to apply any of this to Delight and Inspire, but it’s been interesting to research how other people have thought about the psychology of color.
Isn’t color theory fascinating?

This post was scheduled; I’ll reply to comments tomorrow 🙂

What actually happens when a content farm steals your handmade content

Today I want to talk about something that very regularly affects writers, beauty bloggers and photography bloggers, and occasionally affects travel bloggers too: Content theft. How does it happen and what can you do about it?

I am a moderate traffic website; according to both Amazon and Alexa, I am not yet in the big leagues (I’m in the top 1,000,000 websites, but so are 999,999 other sites). I do have some very good SEO, however, and I score first result on the first page of Google for at least 10 different search terms, because I work very hard to make my content relevant to what people are searching for. Because of this, I’m not blind to the crappy games some other sites play so they can rank higher in Google.

The past two days, however, my single most popular article has taken a nosedive. My traffic has plummeted and I have lost more than a hundred visitors a day. When investigating this, I discovered that a content-farm type website has basically stolen my top ranking article, reworded it and dumbed it down, and posted it on their site. They aren’t ranking above me, but they’ve got enough relevance that they’ve taken some of my traffic away. The thing is, despite the fact they’ve directly paraphrased my article, and added in some photoshopped snazzy pictures (that they also haven’t attributed), they’ve not actually said where they got it from. And they haven’t asked me if they could steal my stuff.

content theft statistics
Picture showing my most popular page; this page was most popular, day in day out, for months.
content theft how to tell
The stats for the blue circles page have increased, proving this shouldn’t have been a “quiet day.” It’s only my most popular page that’s been affected, and all the other stats were just the usual day-to-day fluctuations. That’s how I knew it was probably a content theft issue.

I get by solely on my income from this website and from the books I write (on my author website). This website (Delight and Inspire) generates 20-100% of my income on any given month. Needless to say, I don’t make much money. So when someone steals my personally researched and written articles, changes a few words to get past Google’s duplication penalties, and, by proxy, prevents visitors from finding my site, it makes me feel worried. If people took every article from my site and did that, I’d have no income. It would be like someone putting the PDF of my books on torrent sites, and it’s obviously not a nice feeling.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it because they haven’t just copied and pasted my work. So this is an exercise in pragmatism more than a solution. I am usually not remotely precious about copyright, and when people email me, asking if they can, for example, translate my articles into Italian, I am usually happy that the information is getting shared. But that’s the difference. The cool Italian guy asked, and I knew they were using my content in that way, and I’m happy with the result, which is that Italians can now read that information in their own language. I now get 1-2 emails a week from Italians trying to cross the Bering Strait (true story). Generally, I think sharing information is the way forward.

When someone does it without acknowledging the source material, however, they’re just trying to make themselves look good with other people’s hard work. And that’s not ok. I would bet money that the person who stole my content was paid by the content farm for “creating” my content. But since half the internet is run by automatic bots and computers these days, with little user generated interaction on sites like Livestrong (a content farm), there’s no-one I can contact about this issue (normally, you can contact someone and ask for the page to be taken down or attributed).

So after the initial infuriation has worn off, I am left with the truth of the situation. Someone stole my stuff, they fooled Google (and whoever paid them to “write” it) and my income has been affected. I cannot do anything about it, so I can either go crazy (crazier) with rage and fury at this daylight robbery and turn into a pathetic dribbling ball of tears, or I can choose to let it go.

Imma let it go, and looking to the future, I’m going to try to ensure that I keep producing fresh, relevant content for my readers that ensures I always rank first on Google for other things. Like my lip plumpers review or my eyelash serum comparison reviews that I have written.

How have you dealt with copyright theft? Let me know in the comments!

Amazon Prime Day, Rainbows + Bestseller Lists,

So the book I can’t tell you about on here has now made it (quite a long way) into the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List for a third week!! SQUEE I WROTE A GODDAMN BESTSELLER, BITCHES!! (…and my in-laws and assorted relatives still think I’m an unemployed layabout loser working occasional days as a substitute teacher. And I can’t tell them otherwise. They probably wouldn’t believe me if I did. It’s like being a superhero only my secret power is NSFW).

Oh and in case you’re wondering, the money doesn’t get good until you hit the top 5, so no, I’m still poor. This person had a #1 bestseller and still didn’t make anything. And I’m sure some sanctimonious middle class person will try to say “but that’s not why you should write” because you *should* write to be poor (which is fine if you’ve never had to choose between eating or paying rent I suppose), to be unappreciated (which is fine if you believe you’re Van Gogh or something), to be ignored (see prev. re: Van Gogh), because that’s the stereotype we imagine for writers and what we tell ourselves to feel better about the fact that some people are spending 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week doing something they actually want to do (yes, I actually do, come hypomania or depression, I work very hard and some days I only write 50 words but it’s 50 more than I had the day before, other days what I write makes no sense, but that’s okay because it clears my brain out, it’s like scraping the gloop out of the sink so you can wash dishes in it, instead of letting that gloop touch your crockery). Like we imagine that all the pretty people are dumb and all ugly people have hidden depths, instead of seeing that some pretty people are clever and some ugly people are very shallow. I will never stop appreciating being able to write. So I will look forward to writing being my full time income one day but obviously, the money I’ll get in several months’ time (bookstores pay s-l-o-w-l-y) is a LOT better than nothing and while it isn’t going to pay all my bills that month, it at least goes a long way towards it and therefore validates my Goddamn life choices. And I didn’t even have to take my clothes off this time.* 😛

*I am neither confirming nor denying having done this in the past although I do feel it’s high time my cat** wrote a guest post because it would make interesting reading.

**I don’t have a cat. That’s sort of the point.

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And apparently every year Amazon has some special deals that are only available to Prime subscribers. This year, that’s happening on July 12th. From today up to July 12th, Amazon has loads of special pre-prime day deals to get you in the mood (or something).

My personal opinion? Signing up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, including free shipping and loads of TV shows, makes a lot of sense if you want to do some bargainous shopping. This is a very good month to try Amazon Prime for free, just remember (if you don’t intend to keep it) to cancel before the month is up, and sit back and reap the rewards.

I had Amazon Prime for about a year but I cancelled it in favor of Netflix because they didn’t have such a good range of TV shows. I think I’d consider it again now that the Clarkson Hammond and May show (formerly Top Gear) is on there. Also did you hear about the BBC’s so-called “Top Gear” that they’ve been trying to flog as a replacement to the (not-quite-original but definitely best) Clarkson version? Chris Evans, the show’s main host, and seasoned TV presenting veteran, has just quit. They’re flogging a dead horse, and I’ve been saying since Clarkson got sacked, that nobody in their right mind would sign up to take the place of Clarkson Hammond and May, the audience for that show is too pre-prejudiced against change. They’d have been better off doing a total re-format, since Clarkson invented most of the stuff they did on there anyway. Those of you who know me in person know how much I appreciate Jeremy Clarkson’s contributions to journalism (oh God, the way he can get you from the opening sentence, I wish I could do that), he literally invented new ways to write/talk about cars, and no-one can really replace that. But you can watch Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond messing around in cars IN OCTOBER on Amazon Prime with the 30 day trial in the UK; the BBC was really shitty about copyrights on all the stuff Clarkson came up with while he worked for them, so Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have renamed their new car show “Grand Tour.” I wish I was eligible for another free trial of Amazon Prime now 😦

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Also, this rainbow wig is legit gorgeous I wish I could afford it, its so beautiful, and I wanted to show you all, but WordPress doesn’t allow image links from Amazon. Last time I accidentally pasted the wrong link onto a WordPress post, WordPress actually shut this blog down within seconds, not giving me a chance to fix the problem, and I had to email them 5 or 6 times over 2 days to get them to understand that it was an honest mistake. I totally don’t get the weird and wonderful policies that various blogging sites have regarding their smallprint. I think now I have my own domain I’m allowed to do more advertising, but I look at some of the sites that have come up in reader over the past few months, wall-to-wall advertising, and I simply want to vomit in disgust. The whole marketing model is messed up if they make money from that shit. It’s like those trees falling in the woods and concussing bears who are trying to take a dump.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Snapshots: The White Rabbit

Oh WOW this photo challenge was hard! I decided to do a photo story called The White Rabbit.  I hope you like the story and theme.  It’s only 250 words long (because the photos really tell the story) and it’s told with photos and in the captions. The photo challenge was Snapshots.

IMG_20150402_112303
She opened the gate, waiting for me, luring me into her trap, my White Rabbit.
distant staring pose1
Was she seeking something, or trying to show me? I was helpless but to follow.
stream tree bridge2
Off the path I strayed; I lost her, lost my way, lost myself. Chasing an image.
IMG_20150402_195624
I arrived at a wall, a boundary, a junction.  This was a place between worlds, between realities.  I wondered for a moment why I had given chase.
on top of the wall
There! The White Rabbit; was she leading me? Teasing me? Luring me? I pursued her through the ruined doorway, and everything changed.
long corridor
Nothing made sense here; games were being played.  Now I was hopelessly lost in her maze, wondering whether she knew where to find herself.
stairs
Deeply embroiled, I searched for an exit from this surreal game.
IMG_20150402_195155
I emerged into the land of portals, unsure which would return me to where I belonged. Could I ever truly belong, now I’d seen what lay on the periphery of my precarious existence?
mysterious big wall
The white rabbit watched me leave, mocking my departure. I wondered if it was lonely to only exist through the looking glass, between worlds, with no reality to call her own.
white hair elven in nature
As I escaped, running down the rabbit hole, she appeared again before me. Had I ever left her domain? With a sense of growing horror, I knew in the pit of my stomach that I was hers now. I had belonged to her from the moment I’d seen her. She never stopped running away. Not even in death could I ever escape from the eternal, endless, surreal maze of the White Rabbit.

Note on the story:

The theme of this story is Alice Through the Looking Glass, but only with the chasing a white rabbit motif.  I wanted the White Rabbit to be a girl, with ambiguity as to whether she’s chasing herself or whether the narrator is chasing her, like in the beginning stages of a relationship.  I wanted to combine a narrative of Alice with the bizarre surrealism of a Kafkaesque landscape that I found on a walk when I went to the Scottish Borders last year.  It is Border Country in a lot of different ways, the interchange between England and Scotland.  I wanted this to be ambiguous and open ended, to give it a sense of mystery and open interpretation.

I would appreciate any feedback as I don’t usually share my creative writing on here, although the words were really just to tie the pictures together to explain why I arranged them like this.

PS The pictures are of myself but for the purposes of the story, the person in the pictures is not the narrator telling the story.

The REAL Issues Affecting REAL Space Princesses: Part 2

So in today’s episode, The REAL Issues Affecting REAL Space Princesses Part 2, Princess Leia expresses her dissatisfaction with the fact that Akbar got her line:
It’s a trap!

Just a little something to brighten your Monday morning, it IS safe for work. 🙂

11 words British people don’t actually say.

This article is about the “British” words and phrases we don’t actually use in Britain, so if you’re planning a holiday to England, Scotland or any other part of Britain, and trying to learn some colloquialisms, scratch these from your list – the consequences of saying some of them can be a fist to the face (which, curiously, we tend not to call “fisticuffs”). This article has occasional use of the f-word etc.

This article about British words came about after an American blogger mentioned how if he ever came to the UK he’d be sure to tip a bob to the waiter. That was shortly followed up with someone (also American) commenting on a page on dialects with some sense of authority that British people said “sitting room” or “parlour” instead of “living room” or “den.” If you’re writing a British character for a book, these words will throw up a big red flag that kills suspension of disbelief for anyone British reading the book, and if you’re coming to Britain for a trip or travel, you will be mocked for using these words.

So here’s the words and phrases we just don’t say (or very, very rarely) in the UK:

1. British Accent – we rarely classify ourselves as “British” as opposed to our individual countries. For example, I’m English, my mother was Irish (which ISN’T part of the UK), my father was Jamaican (we say Afro-Caribbean not Afro-British, BTW), the man on my birth certificate was Scottish, my best friend at uni was Welsh. So we would start by saying “English accent” or “Scottish accent.” Then we’d get more specific, such as “Northern accent” for people from the north of England.

2. Bob – we call it money or cash, we use the word quid to mean pounds, or p (pronounced “pee”) to mean pence (multiple of penny). If you say “pennies” (multiple of penny) to anyone from the UK who speaks Polish, they will laugh at you because that’s how you pronounce the word “penis” in Polish.

3. Ta – Nowhere do people in the UK say “ta” for goodbye. That’s an Americanism you have imposed on us. “Ta ta” might be said by a posh elderly aunt (or a young lady with adorably misguided aspirations) from time to time, and “tara” (pronounced ter-rah with a long a at the end) is another word for goodbye, but we don’t say “ta” to greet someone’s departure. Ta is an informal way of saying “thank-you” in the North of England (as in, ‘ta very much’).

4. Cheero – Nobody’s said this since the second world war. Cheerio is sometimes used by older people, but again it’s dying out and it’s considered more old fashioned than roast beef. The last time I heard it was in the lyrics to a song in Oliver Twist, in the context “so long fare thee well, pip pip cheerio…” and we also don’t say “thee,” so it shouldn’t be considered an accurate representation of our modern language (it was made in the 1960s, after all).

5. Codswallop – Another old-fashioned term, we tend to say “bullshit” “bull” or “crap” (crap has three meanings – excrement, something that is really terrible, or something that is untrue). Our favourite, however, is “bollocks” when we want to call out something as untrue. The only time in living memory that a British person’s said codswallop was when Hagrid says it in Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (we call it Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, BTW) – and that’s set in 1991 (if you do the math from the gravestones etc this adds up).

6. On your bike (actually, it was always “on yer bike”) – Very dated to the 1980s. We tend to say “fuck off” these days or, if we’re being polite, “sod off” or “get lost.”

7. Fitty – this isn’t a word. I’ve lived in Britain for 29 years, I’ve travelled all over, I’ve voraciously devoured literature, and nobody has ever used this word in any context. It’s made up. Some people would say someone is “fit” meaning attractive (or “she’s well fit” or “he’s dead fit”), and there’s the very outdated and generally offensive word “totty” which again no-one has used for a very long time, but we just don’t have the word “fitty.” It even sounds made up. Referring to someone as “fitty” will probably have people wondering whether you think they’re epileptic. If they buy into fear-of-rape culture, they might even use this opportunity to make a scene.

8. Rumpy Pumpy – if you suggest having some ‘rumpy pumpy’ to any woman under 45, she will tell you to fuck off. AVOID! Nobody’s used this word since 1995, and even then it was only in an ironic sense. Nobody actually uses this word to describe sex that they have had or are going to have.

9. Sweet Fanny Adams – no, we say “fuck all” to mean the same thing. Nobody’s used “Fanny Adams” to mean “Fuck All” since World War II.

10. Toodle Pip – again, the only time this gets used is by people who are being ironic. It’s a joke. People are taking the piss when they say this.

11. Cack-handed – I got this claimed as “I’m not co-ordinated” from this page but actually it’s a derogatory term meaning left handed (the hand that you wipe your arse with if you’re right handed), from the days when schools were run by a certain type of nuns (and other pro-social psychopaths) who thought that left-handedness was a sign of the devil. There are plenty of British people out there who hate on lefties due to their subconscious cultural conditioning. Use it anywhere near a left-handed person and prepare to get bitch slapped. It’s as offensive to a left-handed person as the N-word is to most human beings.

12. Fisticuffs – another one from Oliver Twist, people tend to call a fight a “scrap” a “punch up” a “brawl” or a “fight.” Then they tend to call the police. Assault is a crime in Britain, and is defined as “any unwanted physical contact” but people still do it and the police are utterly arbitrary in whether they choose to enforce it or not, like most other things here. I know someone who got a criminal record for putting their hand on someone’s shoulder, and I know someone who got away with trying to kill their child after years of abuse. It varies.

Generally when looking at British words and phrases, when faced with the choice between a bigger or smaller word, we will use the smaller one. Water will always find it’s lowest level, and it’s the same with language – think about what the minimum is that you need to say to make yourself understood instead of trying to dress it up with loads of words or phrases that might be inaccurate. Communication is about understanding, and the only real rule of communication (at least, general communication, not specialized e.g. academia) is that if most people can’t understand you, you’re doing it wrong. I stated “most people” not “all” because you can’t please everyone and some people will just never understand you.

Keeping track of things

When I started Invoke Delight, I would read every blog post of everyone I was subscribed to, and I’d try to comment on them all, although sometimes I just didn’t know what to say (and I’m not so good at making up the “keep up the good work” type comments, they always sound stilted and forced coming from me).  But I’d still read everything, even though I didn’t always click like or comment.

More recently, I’ve still tried to read everything, but the output of some people is astounding, and as time goes on I’m finding it harder and harder to keep track of everything.

So I’m not going to.  I’m not going to read everything by everyone any more.  Sorry.  I’ve tried my best but I’m just getting fed up of constantly being behind and every day I go to bed just about on top of reading everyone’s blogs and I wake up and theres another billion for me to catch up on.  I can’t do it any more.

I will read articles that stand out as interesting.  I will comment if I feel it’s really necessary.  But I won’t catch up on every single post I missed every time I’m AFK for a few days because I just can’t.  There’s too many.

Sorry guys.  So if you want me to read an article, link me to it because I just can’t keep this up.  Otherwise I’ll just read what jumps out at me.

I feel really guilty about this because I feel like I’m letting everyone down by not reading every single thing you’ve written, but I know that I’m not getting time to update my own blogs enough because I’m spending too much time reading other peoples, which isn’t really right.

So please don’t be offended.  I haven’t stopped speaking to anyone or unfollowed anyone.  I’m just reading less stuff across the board and trying to feel less personally responsible for everyone else’s wellbeing.

Here’s a picture of some bunnies (Katie (ginger), Fifer (brown) and Sebastian (grey)):

Look at the bunnies... become one with the bunnies... the bunnies are all...
Look at the bunnies… become one with the bunnies… the bunnies are all…

I’m back, I’m back, SHAM-OWN! You know I’m back, I’m back, you know it (woo)…

First, the Seroquel saga continues as I await a pharmacy that actually stocks the dosage.  Apparently they should have specified time release on the Rx then I could have got it fulfilled at 5 different pharmacies.  That was my day wasted.  All else I did today was the school run (I would have sent him in with an apple for the teacher, but he IS the teacher and he detests apples.  I did consider putting ribbons in his little ringlets but he went with the Health and Safety ponytail which is fair when you’re in a room where you get to burn things).  And I had two different hours of therapy.  There’s the psychotherapy in the morning and the EMDR for PTSD in the afternoon.  Tuesday was a busy day.  And an expensive one.  But both approaches have their advantages and I’ll discuss them once I’ve spent more time doing them both.

Then, there’s the trip to London which I got back from yesterday evening.

Friday I bought myself two new camera lenses, an 18-250mm one for close and far stuff (the zoom is IMMENSE and the wide angle is BEAUT), and a 40mm lens for lightweight snaps, and for times I need a sharper image.  Such as when I’m making youtube vids.  The best things about the 40mm are a) it sounds like a James Bond gun. b) it doesn’t have an official Ultra Silent Motor, but it’s motor is the QUIETEST EVER and c) It’s the smallest lens that canon make.  oh and d) its aperture is the best I could afford and better than the other two lenses.

I’m so glad I tried the lenses out as I would have bought the 50mm on Amazon and it was WAY less good than the 40mm (and 50mm doesn’t sound like a James Bond gun, it sounds like a Duke Nukem gun: Hail to the KING baby).  I bought them from Park Cameras off Oxford Street in London (Tottenham Ct Rd end of Ox St), and they had a selection of new and quality second hands, and if you take your camera they let you try out lenses on your camera so you can see what you like.  I saved a LOT of money compared to buying these lenses online (like, I saved £300-ish).  The staff are all knowledgable about cameras too – so I also found out why my original lens was so crap – it wasn’t original to the camera, it was older, so whenever the previous owner sold my camera to Cash Converters, they kept the original lens to my camera and bunged their older, more crap one on it instead.  Bastard.  I wouldn’t have minded but it arrived WITHOUT A GODDAMN LENS CAP.  Who treats an expensive DSLR like that????  I’ll put sample pics up when my computer isn’t infested with some weird spyware or AIDS or something.
I also bought myself a camera microphone.  I treated myself to a RODE branded one from an audio shop off Tottenham Court Road and early indications are that it is going to be perfect.

My workshop was great on Saturday and I was really psyched to find out that the originator for this whole theory/technique came up with it as a way for traumatized musicians to re-find their voices after surviving WWI as conscripted soldiers in Germany (he moved immediately to France and later turned his efforts to helping traumatised Jews escaping the Nazi regime).

However, something must have hit a nerve or something because on Sunday I really didn’t feel well at all and I couldn’t go to the second day which was a shame because I was looking forward to taking it all further.  It took 4 hours, but I felt a bit better by the afternoon and went into the City and took some pics (which are travelly so I’ll devote a whole article to them.  I might do a whole nother article on the shops you can find in Mayfair because it’s an impressive collection.  There were TWO Maseratis illegally parked).

I then went to have an unplanned and therefore VERY detailed consultation at Victoria’s Secret in Mayfair, which is on New Bond Street, at the other end to Tiffany’s (which is where New BS becomes Old BS; and which I did NOT let myself near until I was certain it had closed for the day, and even then I only took photos from the other side of the road just in case I got tempted to go online on my phone and make a purchase.  Hells to the NO I didn’t set foot in there, because I has ALL OF THE WILLPOWER).

I did however go to Vic’s S. as mentioned above, and I did get a thorough and informative and friendly consultation whilst dressed top to toe in mens clothing (excepting underwear) and wearing men’s shoes (not intentional, just happened to throw it all on that a.m.).  So full points for professionalism.

ALL.  OF.  THE.  WILL.  POWAH.  Tiffany and Co Old Bond Street London.
ALL. OF. THE. WILL. POWAH. Tiffany and Co Old Bond Street London.

At Vic’s S. they don’t just wrap a tape measure round your squishies then truss you up in elastic, they start by taking your name, and introducing themselves (I know it’s like they buy you dinner first), then they ask what type of bras you like, then they measure you, give you some samples to try (that are kept for the express purpose of ascertaining which type of bra you like) then they tick on your personalized consult card to tell you what bras you liked, they write your size on the card, and tell you where (in the 4 floor store) to find the bras you’ve been matched with, where you find them in a range of colors, accents and lace options.  I chose to ignore all the advice from my consult and bought myself a nice front zipping underwired sports bra in black.  Because I almost exclusively wear sports bras (TMI, I know).  I also bought the AMAZINGLY SCENTED body lotions I’d been craving ever since someone brought me back a sample set from Florida about 5 years ago, and I’m so glad I did because now I can smell like that again EVERY DAY.  I haven’t used any of them yet, but occasionally I’ve popped the lids of one or other and just inhaled the delightful scent.

BRB.

Ohhh…..

Love Spell and Pure Seduction you both smell sooooo good!

*does that Homer Simpson drooling thing*

Must not eat them.

Ahem…

Anyway, my laptop was doing a strange thing when I got back so I’m not sure what’s wrong with it but both Hijack This and Malwarebytes are embroiled in fisticuffs trying to detangle why my security log and internet history have been edited while I was away.  HMMMM…

Also Banacek was apparently too lazy to get up to eat today, so he did it lying down:

That's right... he is the laziest rabbit.  If Winnie the Pooh came to visit, he'd have no trouble getting back out of THIS rabbit's house.  Banacek has actually chewed the entrances to his play boxes so he can fit better.
That’s right… he is the laziest rabbit. If Winnie the Pooh came to visit, that bear would have no trouble getting back out of THIS rabbit’s house (although I think they may fight each other to the death over who got to eat the Hunny). Banacek has actually chewed the entrances to his play boxes so he can fit better.

And speaking of Honey, as y’all probably know, it’s my middle name.  Jasmine Honeysuckle is actually the name my mother gave me when I was born, she was told by the Catholic priest at my Christening that this name was no good and that there had never been any Saint Jasmine or Saint Honeysuckle (he cancelled my Christening over this) so she changed it to something more traditional.  I am NOT having the word “suckle” anywhere in my name, so when I recently experienced name dysphoria (before I knew it was gender-related), I changed it (unofficially) to Jasmine Honey about a month before my mum died, then she died and I never got a chance to finish connecting with my new name and make it legal etc.  Honey Jasmine had been my preferred configuration but I wanted to eliminate Jasmine first since that was the way I was originally named.  And it’s all gone down the krapper and stuck.  My acquaintances (all except my ex-best-friend/unrequieted-whatnot) have all been very good with this, although when I started pinpointing major genderqueer-ies (gender queries?) I felt Jasmine wasn’t my best fit first name.  So for the past few months I’ve not really thought of myself in terms of actually HAVING a name.  Which I’ve been happy with, I don’t need a label, I know who I am.  But society insists on calling me words and medical types insists on repeating my full legal ‘name’ several times per sentence to show they know who I am (when they do this it really alienates me from them further).  So I’m thinking of swapping it around to Honey Jasmine (etc).  The only issues are, a) I’d have the same initial and part-last-name as my mum (and that’s a bit weird given all the medically-diagnosed-PTSD she caused me) and b) I feel a bit bad because my dad chose my legal, re-registered names but they’re terrible I hate them and don’t recognize them to respond to because all my life nobody ever called me my registered names.  Apparently it’s been so long since anyone last called me Jasmine, and I see people so infrequently that no-one uses my name to my face, that I don’t seem to be able to associate with it any more either.  That’s very sad.

People call me Honey a lot.  And it’s simultaneously stupidly gendered and still non-gendered.  Which kinda makes it more androgynous.  Like me.  And while it sounds like a porn name, go and google Jasmine Honey and see what comes up.  Or search it on Twitter.  There is a real porn star with my actual name.  Just saying.  It’s hard to rise to prominence on the internet when you keep wondering whether your followers are waiting for you to get your double G’s out, then they see your itty bitty C’s half hidden by a fake moustache and they send you hate mail (which, having received both, is very slightly better than wank-mail but still).

I know there are a few better names out there than Honey, but I’m saving them for when I have kids.  Plus Honey is familiar and comfortable.  Icons with the name being Honey Rider and Miss Honey from Matilda.  Or maybe I should keep Jasmine and stop over thinking this.  I’m considering something else as well, but I just don’t know right now.  Imma think about this s’more before I do anything irreversible like change my Twitter name m’kay…

And I got my manuscript completely edited (and somehow added about 5000 words to it in the process) and sent back to the editors to double check.  Now I’m waiting to find out if it’s getting the go ahead or needs editing further.  I canNOT edit without a list written by a responsible person.

And here’s the video that the title is a reference to:

So let me tell you once again – Who’s Back!

So that’s been my whirlwind of a past few days, how’ve you been?  Let me know in the comments!