miss_s_b: (Self: Profile)
2010-05-21 12:17 am
Entry tags:

[sticky entry] Sticky: Introduction & Comment policy

Hello! There now follow some handy hints on how to make the most of your Reading My Blog experience:
  • If you don't like my colour scheme (I am aware that many people don't) add "?style=light" to the end of any url to get a different version.
  • If you want to know more about me, click here
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Comments Policy:
  • Anonymous commenting is enabled, although anon comments are screened before publication; please, if you comment anonymously, give yourself a name/pseudonym/some form of identifier. If you don't your comment will not be unscreened.
  • I don't censor comments from people I know unless pushed VERY hard. Red lines include racism, misogyny, homophobia, unjoking advocation of violence, and being horrible about (or to) people I love. Anons tend to get a lot less leeway and a lot less benefit of the doubt; sorry. My blog, my rules.
  • If you want to point out cock-ups I have made, please direct them to Pedants' Corner; likewise if you want to ask me something off the topic of the post please go to this entry - this saves readers' scrolling fingers.
miss_s_b: DreamSheep/Matrix icon (DreamSheep: Matrix)
2016-05-23 12:39 pm
Entry tags:

T-shirts to wear to Doctor's Appointments

For various reasons, a lot of my friends have issues with going to the doctor. In the comments to one of [personal profile] hollymath's recent entries, the idea came up that T-shirts could be useful.
"Yes, I know I'm fat. Telling me something I already know does nothing for my current problem."
"Of course my blood pressure just spiked, you're stressing me out!"
"Being trans has no bearing on microbes attacking me."
"Yes I have anxiety and depression. This did not break my bone!"
Any further suggestions?
miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-22 10:55 pm
Entry tags:

Expanded from a comment elsewhere: How did you get into fountain pens?

I'm a third generation fountain pen geek, my mum and her dad both did calligraphy with Osmiroid pens, so I can't really say when I first got into fountain pens because I can't ever remember NOT being into fountain pens. I wasn't allowed to have my own till I was 8 or 9 and could demonstrate to my mum that I could use it properly, though, and it was a BIG thing graduating from pencil to a Proper Pen. The first one that was actually mine was (I suspect like most brits) a Parker Vector. When I got to grammar school they insisted on us having fountain pens so I had a bit of a head start over my classmates. Mine had Beano comic characters on (Dennis & Gnasher) and I was GUTTED when someone at school trod on it and broke it. I still have a soft spot for the shape and feel of a parker vector and have several in my collection. This started off as a comment to a USian person and I don't know if you even get parker vectors that side of the Atlantic but they are (or seem to be) our equivalent of the Preppy. They're a lovely simple clean shape and a nice size for my tiny hands - most of the posh pens these days are too big for me.

Kids these days aren't made to use fountain pens at school the way I was (my daughter goes to the same school I went to and only knows about fountain pens because of me). As a liberal I kind of approve of kids using whatever writing implements they like... as a fountain pen geek I think it's a bit of a shame that most kids won't even try one. They make such a difference to both the legibility and the speed of my handwriting; because I'm not pushing into the paper (as with a ballpoint) but skating over the top of it, I can write for lots longer and lots more usefully with a fountain pen. This comes in extremely handy on candidate assessment days for the Lib Dems when I basically have to write down what someone is saying verbatim for a whole day.

I guess implied in the question was "why do you stay into fountain pens?" There is a lot less need for manual writing these days than there used to be, and certainly if I was writing an article it would be composed entirely electronically. But there's something very ephemeral about stuff written on the Internet, despite its longevity and ease of access and searchable qualities. Whereas paper and ink are so tactile and solid... I guess I feel that if you're GOING to write something manually these days you might as well make it as pretty as you can, and as nice an experience for yourself as you can. And choosing a pen, and a nib, and an ink that works for you in that moment? Creates more fun and more memories than grabbing a biro ever could.
miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-22 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 22-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-21 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 21-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Who: Six (Gorgeous))
2016-05-19 05:15 pm
Entry tags:

Subscription box review: Cheese Posties

Since I have got myself a proper job, I can afford the odd little luxury. One of the pubs I used to work in was the local posties' pub of choice, so I have a fondness for posties and keeping them in work. Thus I started getting some subscription boxes. This is the second in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't had freebies, and I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.

Today I am reviewing:

Cheese Posties.

What do they offer?

The ingredients and instructions for a gourmet cheese toastie, once a week, to your home or office (I rec office if you go for this one - every office has a toaster, right?).

What do you actually get?

A box slim enough to fit through the letterbox, containing two slices of bread, some cheese, some butter, and various other fillings depending on the theme. There are quite a lot of different themes; I've so far not had the same sandwich twice. Some are sweet and some are savoury; you can choose whether to receive just sweet or just savoury or both when you sign up. You can also notify them of any allergies, food requirements, or particular dislikes you have. IME they are good at responding to such things.

What's good about it?
  • Tasty tasty toasties, with well-thought-out flavour combinations. I've not had a bad one yet. Even the one with sauerkraut in, which just sounds weird, was nice. The spicy one was even actually spicy.
  • Ingredient quality. There's no Kraft-Cheese-Slices-Are-Calci-yummy here. You get named actual cheeses and artisan sauces and jams.
  • Value for money: it is roughly the same price as a sandwich from a sandwich shop. Yes, you have to put a little work in yourself, but you don't have to leave the office.
  • The little teflon bag you put the toastie in is a FAB thing, a great technological solution to a problem I didn't realise I had. Anyone with a toaster can make a toastie in this without setting fire to the house/office!
  • The packaging; every ingredient comes in it's own little packet so that there's no melding in transit. Anything which might leak or ooze is always double wrapped. It's clearly very carefully thought out.
  • The quirky, punning tone of the website and emails. Yes, I know some of you hate this kind of thing, but I rather like it.

What's not so good about it?
  • The number one problem is: not enough butter. You get one of those little plastic things with a foil lid you get for buttering your toast in hotels. Also the butter is often too cold to spread. I have solved both of the butter problems by using my own butter for the first couple of months; then when I run out of my own butter I can get a couple of the sachet things out the night before my postie is due, and they will be perfect spreading temp when it arrives, and because there's two I will have enough. But if I were running the place I'd put two little-foil-and-plastic-containers-of-butter in, not one.
  • The little teflon bag that you cook the toastie in is a VERY snug fit; this means you can't really use a fishslice or anything, and you really have no other option than to use your hands to get the buttered-on-the-outside bread into the bag. If you turn it over half way through to ensure even browning, you have to do this twice. I am ok with washing my hands twice per toastie, but I know many people won't be.
  • A small niggle, but it's always the same bread. With such variety in fillings, I sort of expected a little variety in bread too. A nice brown or granary would go really well with some of the filling combinations.

How easy are they to contact if you need to change something?

Email: very quick and friendly responses.
Social media: no response at all.

Value for Money?

Pretty good, I'd say, especially given the quality of ingredients.


Get this box if:
  • You like cheese toasties;
  • You want a once-a-week surprise warm meal;
  • you work in an office where the only kitchen equipment is a kettle, a microwave, and a toaster, and you want something hot but are sick of microwave ready meals.
Don't get this box if:
  • You can't cope with buttery hands;
  • you want to have a zero-effort lunch.

Marks out of ten: 8/10.
If the butter problem was solved by the company instead of me, and there was more than one style of bread, and the teflon bags were a little less snug to enable fishslice manipulation of the toastie, they'd be perfect. As it is, I'm certainly not going to stop getting them any time soon. The quality of ingredients and fun of getting a new flavour every week certainly makes up for the slight downsides.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
2016-05-19 02:49 pm

Subscription box review: Prudence and the Crow

Since I have got myself a proper job, I can afford the odd little luxury. One of the pubs I used to work in was the local posties' pub of choice, so I have a fondness for posties and keeping them in work. Thus I started getting some subscription boxes. This is the first in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't even had freebies, I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.

Today I am reviewing

Prudence and The Crow.

What do they offer?

Vintage books, once a month, for a set period or on a rolling monthly subscription.

What do you actually get?

When you pay for your subscription, you get a questionnaire, with free size text boxes. Fill it in as comprehensively as you can; this will be the basis by which the mysterious Prudence (or maybe the even more mysterious Crow) will choose your vintage book. They try to find you something that is 1, interesting 2, relevant to your tastes and 3, not one you've already got. The more information you can give them, the better. When I got my questionnaire I went on twitter and said something like "hah! They've not limited the box sizes! THE FOOLS! *fills in ridiculous amounts of information*" and almost immediately got the reply that no, they LIKE getting lots of info because it helps them to choose.

In the actual box you get a vintage book, a personalised bookmark, usually a little bag or sleeve for the book, some sweets, some herbal teabags and maybe some postcards or a bookplate. Sometimes a vintage cigarette card or an old coin. Maybe a badge. All of the little bits of vintage emphemera you get are usually relevant either to the book or your stated tastes. The instagram hashtag #patcbox will give you some idea of the contents of people's boxes, and also show you that each one is definitely different. There's none of this "buy in bulk and make five hundred of the same box" with P&tC

How easy are they to contact if you need to change something?

Some of the less salubrious subs boxes are very unresponsive to customers. I'm delighted to report that P&tC are not like that at all. Their social media presence is actually social, not just broadcasting adverts like some, and they are great to chat to on instagram and (especially) twitter. They're very responsive to emails with customer service questions too, especially when you're setting up a gift sub (I liked them so much I got my mum a sub for her birthday).

Value for Money?

Genuinely depends on what you value. The cash value of the box contents is not usually up there with the price of the subscription; what you're paying for here is the service. The infinite and very personal care and hard work that they put into selecting a vintage book that is just for you is really evident, and they are genuinely joyous when you report back that you liked their selection.

Overall marks

Get this box if:
  • you enjoy reading;
  • you want a lovely and genuinely surprising box every month, which is none-the-less exactly right for your tastes (assuming you filled in the survey sufficiently);
  • you find little bits of vintage emphemera interesting.
Don't get this box if:
  • you're one of those people who expects the trade-off for a surprise to be huge cash value;
  • you want a pristine, perfect, brand new book;
  • you find little bits of vintage emphemera annoying.
Marks out of ten: 10/10. Genuinely couldn't be happier, and I do a little squeak of excitement whenever I get the notification email that my box is on the way.
miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-19 12:00 pm

The Blood is the Life for 19-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-18 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 18-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-17 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 17-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-15 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 15-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-14 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 14-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-13 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 13-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-12 12:00 pm

The Blood is the Life for 12-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
2016-05-11 05:07 pm

How I would reform PMQs

Wednesdays always make me really depressed about politics. The unedifying spectacle of PMQs, and the journos frantically fapping about who "won" and "lost" when it's plain for everyone to see that everybody loses from this example of Westminster theatre. A parade of non-questions not-answered with added shouting and wankery... The entire British public and most non-Westminster politicians view PMQs as the horrific embarrassment it is. Some journos and Westminster politicians are dimly aware of this, but none of them seriously tries to do anything about it, Bercow's occasional chidings of the chamber aside.

Political gameplaying can maybe, sometimes, be justified as a means to an end (and I'd debate that most of the time). Political gameplaying to be enjoyed as an end in itself, for the entirety of PMQs, week after week, for entire parliaments? That's not democratic accountability, that's just being 650 arseholes shouting.

Luckily for them all, I am here to offer my unsolicited opinions like a sealioning mediocre cis white man. PMQs should be reformed in the following ways:
  1. If the PM doesn't give a proper answer to a question, the speaker should pull him up on it and not let him leave untill he has given a proper answer, even if it's "I don't know".

  2. Any shouty arseholes get thrown out of the chamber. Yes, even Cameron. The more shouty and arseholey they are the longer the sanction - several days of not being allowed to vote would soon stop this happening.

  3. Interventions should be taken by the speaker, so that lack of shouty arseholeness doesn't mean lack of challenge to lies at the despatch box. He's supposed to be chairing anyway. Chair properly, Bercow.
Now, that's probably not going to be a panacea, but it's a start.
miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-11 01:22 pm

Happy birthday [personal profile] nadriel

Many happy returns and such. Hopefully [personal profile] matgb will remember to give you a call or something
miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-08 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 08-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Default)
2016-05-07 11:00 am

The Blood is the Life for 07-05-2016

miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
2016-05-06 06:03 pm

So, the fallout from from #LE2016 in Calderdale and Beyond

We won Warley. Not only did we win Warley, but we won it with a stonking majority.
We held Elland. Not only did we hold Elland, but Pat's majority is something to warm the cockles of any lib dem heart.
We held G&S, despite the tories throwing everything they had at it, and despite the much beloved sitting lib dem councillor standing down.

We lost Calder. We lost Janet. We lost Janet at least partly due to blatant lies from a Labour candidate I had previously believed to be honourable - no more.

But: where we work we win... well, where we work more than any reasonable person can be expected to, and for several years, we win three times out of four.

We have Ashley on the council, and he is a man who knows his policy onions. We have Pat Allen still, and she is a lady who has more principles than you can shake a stick at. And we have a new mover and shaker in Paul Bellenger, who has the enthusiasm of ten men. We'll miss Janet, the hardest working councillor the Calder Ward has ever seen, but we'll survive, despite mourning her loss.

Outside of Calderdale: Wales is very depressing. Scotland is actually quite cheery. Rotherham is legitimately terrifying. Eastleigh is glorious. Watford? Oh Watford. I love you so much. And London? London has rejected the blatant racism of Lynton Crosby as passed through the prism of Zac Goldsmith and has elected its first muslim mayor. I don't approve of everything Sadiq Khan stands for, but he's at least competent, and London has a muslim mayor. I'll accept that. I'll accept that because it will make the racist arseholes REALLY ANGRY, and we're going to be seeing a lot of racist arseholes given the Labour>UKIP shifts.

My party hasn't made Justin Trudeau gains, but it's made gains, and it's made gains in council seats (albeit from a low base) for the first time since I joined the party. The tories are up for electoral fraud in a whole lot of tory/Lib Dem marginals, and I am ITCHING for the bye elections...

For the first time in a long time, it feels GOOD to be a lib dem. There's a lot of reasons for that; some of it is regression to the mean and some of it is us not being in coalition any more, but I actually credit a lot of it to having a steady, yet reliably liberal, hand on the tiller. So thank you to Our Glorious Leader, Timothy of Farron. And thank you to all the footsoldiers who pounded the streets for little thanks: I thank you all here, every last one of you. You're awesome.

Onwards and upwards, my fellow lib dems. And, despite the sad blight of the loss of Janet Battye (which will hurt the people of the Calder Ward more than they yet realise), it genuinely does feel like we've turned a corner.

Team Cockroach FTW.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
2016-05-05 05:38 pm
Entry tags:

Spoiling Your Ballot: A Guide

Look, you know and I know that I want you all to go out and vote Lib Dem, despite (or maybe even because of) any misgivings you might have. But I also know some of you don't want to do that. I equally know that there are a lot of you who are of the "You're all a bunch of bastards; I wouldn't trust any of you; a pox on all your houses" stripe, and that sometimes people who think that way don't vote.

If you're of that mindset, please please please go and spoil your ballot. I have two major reasons for saying this:
  1. If you don't vote at all, politicians call it voter apathy. They think you're lazy, that you can't be arsed, and that you don't care, and that they can therefore shaft you as hard as they like and you won't do anything about it. Spoilt ballots are counted. Show your dissatisfaction with the system.

  2. As a politician I regularly attend election verifications and counts. One of the best bits is when you get to see all the spoilt ballots. You see, the thing about a spoilt ballot is that all the candidates/agents in attendance have to agree whether or not it's a spoilt ballot - that no clear voting intention can be discerned from the paper. So if you write something on it, everyone from all the parties will see it. Labour and Tories tend to tut about such things, but as a Liberal I am fully in favour of voters expressing themselves however they choose, and also at the end of a long night some entertainment is always welcome.
So how do you go about spoiling your ballot?
  • It's important that no clear voting intention can be discerned. One way to achieve this is to put something in every box on the paper. A little drawing of some kind, perhaps, or make the ballot into an acrostic if there's enough boxes.

  • Draw another name and box on the bottom of the paper and vote for RON or "none of the above" or even "leave position vacant". In police and crime commissioner elections it has become traditional to vote for Officer Crabtree, Judge Dredd, or Commissioner Gordon.

  • If you have a postal vote you can tear it up; this doesn't work in ballot boxes on the day, though

  • Be creative! We get lots with variants of "You're all wankers" or little penises drawn in all the tickyboxes. Do something more fun.
You've still got almost 4 hours, if you've not been to a polling station already, to go and vote. It's not a lot of effort, and even if you spoil your ballot you'll still be making a valuable contribution, if only to the entertainment of tired politicians at the end of polling day. So please do.