The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The circus comes to town

As it's been a beautifully sunny afternoon - and I'm still waiting for work to come through - I thought I'd wander down to the harbourside to take a look at the media circus that's landed on Bristol for tonight's leaders' debate, being hosted at the Arnolfini. When I got down to the city centre, I was actually rather surprised by how few people there were about. Ordinary people that is - the area was swarming with men in dark suits, armed police and media types talking into their mobile phones or doing pieces to camera along the waterfront. On my way down, I'd been half thinking of appropriately intelligent comments on politics and politicians just in case anyone with a microphone should come up to me, but I didn't bump into Brown, Clegg or Cameron and none of the media types seemed to want my woman-in-the-street opinion today. I enjoyed the sunshine though as I sat on a wall watching the police boat patrol up and down, machine guns at the ready in case of any false move from a passing swan!

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Power cycling"

All through yesterday, my internet connection was frustratingly slow and when I got started this morning, everything was still taking ages or just not happening at all. So I finally managed to get onto the BT website to see if there was some kind of problem at their end. There didn't seem to be a server problem, so I took a look at the Troubleshooter tips, top of which was "power cycling". It sounded very technical, but as I read on, I laughed out loud when I discovered that it just meant unplugging your router and plugging it back in again!! It is, of course, the oldest trick in the IT book, but I never realised there was actually a proper term for it! And unsurpisingly, after I'd crawled under my desk, unplugged and plugged back in again, all was fine and whizzy!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010


I'm sure there's a rule somewhere that says you shouldn't blog when you're bored and possibly another about whinging blog posts, but I'm afraid I'm going to break both this morning ... I'm bored! I finished and sent off a bit of work on Tuesday afternoon and have had nothing to do since. I did a few admin bits and pieces, caught up on some emails and vaguely tidied my desk and now I just really want some work to get on with. It's not that I don't have any work on my schedule, I've got a couple of projects on the go, but I'm just waiting on in-house people to pass on the next thing for me to do.

Keeping a steady flow of work is always a problem for freelancers. You try and take on jobs that will give you a constant flow, but there are always delays and changes that are outside your control. Up until recently, I'd handled this, like most freelancers, by just taking on lots and juggling it somehow. That meant that I always had something to get on with, but frequently had patches of too much. And that, of course, was one of the reasons for my RSI flaring up so badly last year. This year I've been more strict about only taking on what I can manage and turning stuff down when it looks like I could become overloaded. That means though that I'm now much more vulnerable to those delays. When I'm waiting on one thing, I can't just pick up something something else to fill in. And of course, you never know how long you're going to be waiting - something might pop into your inbox any minute or it might be a few days, so you don't feel like you can go off and do other stuff instead. So far this year already, I've had 14 days of waiting around, twiddling my thumbs and checking my email. That's a whole fortnight's holiday I now can't afford to take this year! ... hmm, maybe I'd better stop here before this turns into a rant!

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

The positive effects of sunshine

After endless months of cold and snow and rain, today is finally sunny. And I don't just mean a bit of brightness, but proper warm sunshine with not a cloud in the sky. And I can feel the mood has changed, even sat here at my desk I can see people walking by in t-shirts, smiling and chatting. Even the sounds are different somehow, with the window open next to me, it almost sounds like summer out there, something about the way sounds carry through the air differently ... or perhaps I'm imagining that bit!

This morning I spotted these workmen on scaffolding, high up at the back of a building nearby, out enjoying the sunshine. What you can't see in the picture is that they were all swinging their legs, just like little kids sat on the edge of a jetty!

Today also marked a milestone with my first lunch out on the roof terrace - hooray! A big bowl of salad nicoise, followed by the crossword, a cup of tea and a bit of a snooze in the sun - yes, it was really that warm! I'd have stayed out there all afternoon had the sun not moved behind a nextdoor building, leaving me in shade. I think I'm going to definitely have to get a table out there and an extension lead for my laptop or I'm never going to get any work done this summer!

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The joys of freelancing ... #3 Long lunch

Hmmm, looking back, it seems that many of the joys that I associate with the freelance lifestyle also involve food! Today, I had a yummy lunch inspired by Sophie Dahl on TV last night - a baked potato with the insides taken out and mashed with goat's cheese, creme fraiche, an egg and a spoonful of fresh pesto (my addition, not Miss Dahl's), then popped back in the oven with a few rashers of pancetta:

I love food - as regular readers may have gathered - and it's lovely not to have to make do at lunchtime with a snatched sandwich. I 'cook' lunch most days - sometimes it's a bowl of simple pasta, a hot salad, some stir-fried noodles or like today, a baked potato. Usually, it involves, and is often inspired by, whatever leftovers I find in the fridge (today's goat's cheese, pesto and pancetta all needed using up).

Not only is the process of planning, preparing and eating something different for lunch each day an enjoyable one, but it creates an important break in my day and gets me away from my desk for an hour or so. I think routine is especially important when you work from home - clear breaks and time away from your workspace are essential to keep the work-life balance. I try to switch my brain off from whatever I'm working on too, with the lunchtime news and the Guardian quick crossword - the only one I've got left today is 12 down "German capitalist", 8 letters, _E_L_N_R, I'm always better at the language clues than the general knowledge ones!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Good news and bad news

A couple of things have come up in the past few days that follow on from recent blog posts, so I thought I'd post some updates.

Libel reform: After my interest in libel reform was piqued by the Big Libel Gig last month, I was quite excited to see the latest ruling in the Simon Singh case. Very briefly, he's a Guardian journalist who was sued for libel after questioning some of the claims made by chiropractors. The latest court ruling isn't the end of his battle, but he has been allowed to use the defence of "fair comment" to justify his article. To use a well-worn cliche, it feels like a small victory for common sense.

Grafitti: On a less positive note, I was horrified on Friday when I walked along the lane and noticed that someone has painted over the beautiful typewriter grafitti that I featured in my late-but-one post. The whole section of wall has now been painted a rather boring grey. I know that grafitti is, by its nature, ephemeral and that's part of its appeal, but to destroy such a clever and inoffensive piece of art still seemed criminal. The only silver lining though is that after posting the picture on the blog, I was contacted by someone who runs a website featuring Bristol street art and asked to contribute my typewriter photo to the site. I don't think it's gone up on the site yet, but hopefully, it will be preserved there for others to enjoy.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

The end of publishing

I just came across this video on another blog I follow by a fellow writer - Shoo Rayner - and I thought it was amazingly clever. What d'you think?

Isn't language wonderful?! [Sorry, this is my first attempt at posting a video and I'm not sure how to get the size right!]

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