Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2012)

Howdie folks!

I have exciting news!

I'm going to be taking part in the 'Blogging from A to Z Challenge' throughout April! Yes, that's what the link above is all about.

Feel free to go right ahead and click on the link to find out more information (and maybe sign up too!) but if that's all too much effort then read on and I'll explain what's going to happen.

- I (and everyone else who's signed up for the challenge) will post a new blog everyday of April.
- Sundays are the exception: no blog posts (except for Sunday 1st April).
- Each blog post will be on a topic beginning with a different letter of the alphabet (A on Sunday 1st, B on Monday 2nd, C on Tuesday 3rd etc.)

That's basically it.

Why not join in too?

See you on 1st April for something beginning with 'A' ...

*Edit: above is a link to other bloggers taking part in the challenge. (I think. I'm new to this.) If you've got a spare few minutes, check some of them out :)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

7 Simple Pleasures

Last week's bloglet (pet peeves) left a bit of a complainy taste in the mouth, so in order to cleanse the metaphorical palate, I've been thinking about all the simple things in life which put a smile on my face and have compiled them into a neat, little list. If you hadn't already noticed, I heart lists.

1. A consecutive clock
What the chickens are you on about, Groves? I hear you cry.
It's that magical moment when you happen to glance at a digital clock or watch and find one of the following:
For some reason 12.34 is the best of the three. Probably because it also offers the opportunity of seeing the time read 12.34.56. Of course, it could be argued that 01.23 is just as good since it also gives us 01.23.45 but I'm not waiting up until almost 1.30am just to see it. No sir.

By the by, repeated numbers (e.g. 08.08 or 19.19) are not as interesting. Mirrored numbers (e.g. 12.21 or 23.32) are pretty good.

2. New socks
If I were wealthy enough (and it wasn't so horribly wasteful), I would wear new socks every single day. I might even wear Christmas socks every day for a whole year. Madness.

3. Empty car parks
I'm not sure what it is about an empty car park that fills me with such joy. It's either the feeling that it's mine because there's no one else around that I have to share it with, or it's the fact that I can drive around like a lunatic and go OVER THE LINES.
It's one of the two.

4. Book smell
I got a Kindle for Christmas and, although it's brilliant and fun and convenient and beautiful, it doesn't have that yummy book smell that actual books have. It would be ace if there was a gadget which could be discreetly attached to my Kindle to give it the book smell. That would pretty much make my life. If any of you are technically-minded please drop everything and start working on it. Much appreciated.

5. Hugs
Oh good, finally a simple pleasure which involves other humans.
Yes, okay, I do seem to come off as a strange, hermit-like creature who sits at home clinging onto handfuls of new socks and books. But when I'm not running with reckless abandon through meadows with my new socks on (which I obviously wouldn't do: they'd get mucky), I do enjoy a good hug. Having said that, it has to be a hug with someone I know and like. The free hugs thing isn't really my cup of tea: that's just unwanted physical contact.

6. Etymological discoveries
I think I may have mentioned my love of Classics and etymology once or twice in this blog (once, twice) so I won't go on about it for long here, but just say that discovering the etymology of a word which I didn't already know makes me a very happy, flappy, clappy chappy. It fills me with such happiness that I normally HAVE to tell someone of my discovery, whether they want to hear about it or not. What am I saying? Everyone likes to hear about etymology.

7. Getting replies
I'm very into twitter at the moment and get genuinely a little bit excited whenever I have a new @mention (that makes it sound like I get them all the time: I don't. Sob). It doesn't have to be a profound or life-changing message; it's just the fact that someone has chosen to reply to something I've said that makes me smile. Similarly, it's nice when you comment on these little bloglets of mine (hint, hint). I can track how many times a bloglet has been read, or where people are reading from (quite a few from Malaysia this week, which was unexpected but nice), but I have absolutely no idea what you think of my inane little musings ...

Friday, 16 March 2012

Pet Peeves

So I'm perusing twitter and someone I follow writes,

True friendship is conversing with a bad English accent for a good hour without feeling like a fool. 

And although the tweet does not irritate me at all (in fact, it does almost the exact opposite) it starts me thinking about pet peeves. Don't worry, it'll make sense when you get to number 2 on my list. Honest.

Good old Wikipedia defines a pet peeve as:

A minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to him or her,
to a greater degree than others may find it.

Because I quite like this defintion, we shall gloss over the fact that I'm not particularly fond of the repetition of annoyance/annoying in that sentence and move swiftly on.
So, the idea of a pet peeve is that it's something which you  find particularly irritating. (I know you know all this already, I'm just mentioning it here so that I don't later get into trouble when my pet peeves are deemed ridiculous or trivial - same reason I underlined part of the above quotation too).
It's with that in mind that I shall make a start with my first (and peeviest) pet peeve.

1. Bad punctuation and grammar
Before you all roll your eyes and groan at me, let me explain.
I'm not talking about the complex stuff, like knowing when to use a colon rather than a semicolon, or understanding what the hell an ablative is, no, I'm talking about the really simple stuff which people learn well before they leave primary school, and then promptly forget for the rest of their lives.
There are many, many things which annoy me when it comes to the misuse of punctuation and/or grammar, but the three things which are guaranteed to nark me off are:

its or it's
People seem to use these interchangeably but THEY MEAN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS.
its = possessive, e.g. The snail carries its house on its back.
Both the house and the back belong to the snail.
it's = contraction of it is/it has, e.g. It's time for EastEnders, so I have to go. It's been lovely talking to you.
You're actually saying that it is time for EastEnders and it has been lovely talking, but because you're so busy these days it's far quicker just to squeeze out and omit the 'is' and 'has'.
That little apostrophe makes all the difference, folks. Use it wisely.

your, you're
Same as above, really.
'Your' is possessive.
'You're' is short for 'you are'.
Always. No exceptions. Once you've learnt the rule you just have to stick to it. Simple really. People just can't be bothered to stop and think about which one they actually need and it's so irritating!

there, their, they're
Slightly more complicated because there are three to choose from this time? Nope. Same thing again; some people just can't be arsed to get their heads around the difference and instead opt for a pot-luck approach. Hey? Some people? Punctuation and grammar came about to make our lives easier: they exist so that you don't have to guess.
There = adverb/demonstrative pronoun (had to look it up), e.g. There is no need to guess at punctuation.
Their = possessive, e.g. When will people get it into their heads that grammar is important?
They're = contraction of 'they are', e.g. Why can't people understand that they're pissing me off by not using punctuation properly?

I studied Latin and Greek at university, both of which are all about the grammar. In fact, they're grammar mad. They just can't get enough of it. Maybe I chose to study them because I'm subconsciously more interested in the stuff than the majority of the population. Maybe people are right when they call me pedantic or a grammar Nazi. Maybe I should just accept that language is always changing and developing and that me ranting about the misuse of an apostrophe here and there isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.

Or maybe I should ignore the grammar haters and instead point them in the direction of this rather fabulous book by Lynne Truss in the hope that, by reading it, they may join me on the dark side and become grammar Nazis too.
*Evil laugh*

2. The 'British' accent
I quoted a tweet above in which someone wrote about speaking in a 'bad English accent' with a friend. What jokers they must be. Anyway, the point is that she called it an 'English' accent, not a 'British' one and while an 'English' accent doesn't really exist when you consider all the regional accents you encounter around England, it's a hell of a lot less irksome than calling it a 'British' accent.
Technically speaking, you see, 'Britain' refers to the entire island which includes Scotland, England and Wales and however hard you try, you will never convince me that Billy Connolly, David Cameron and Tom Jones sound the same.
I have absolutely no problem in being called British: I am. I was born and live in Britain. I just don't speak with a British accent: it doesn't exist.

Of course, the only thing worse than calling it a British accent is calling it a British dialect.
Hey, dictionary? How would you define a dialect?
'A subordinate variety of a language with non-standard vocabulary'.
Yeah. I resent that implication.

3. The English character is always the baddie
Okay, who started this one? Because whoever it was, shame on them.
American television and film makers nowadays seem to love making the English character the bad guy (notice I wrote English and not British: the bad guy never has a Scottish or Welsh accent, does he?)
Some examples to illustrate my point? Okay, sure.

- Magneto (X-Men)
- Nizam (Prince of Persia)
- Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
- Stu (Mrs Doubtfire)
- Miss Trunchbull (Matilda)
- Lord Farquaad (Shrek)
- Boggis, Bunce and Bean (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
- Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
- Sark (Alias)
- Scar (The Lion King)

- Rex Buckland, Angel of Death, Mordaunt, Gideon (Charmed)
- Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
- Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

(If any of those are wrong, I apologise. Don't shoot me.)

4. Leaving piddly amounts of things in packets or bottles
You'll be glad to hear that we're finally moving away from the pedantic.
When I say 'piddly amounts of things' I'm generally talking about a tiny amount of milk being left in the bottle, or two crisps being left in the packet. My dad has absolutely mastered the skill of leaving piddly amounts of things. I think he does it out of concern that the next person to come along would be terribly upset if whatever they wanted had all been used up, which is sweet and very considerate of him. It's just unfortunate that I find it far more irritating when I think there's enough milk for my cereal and then end up with a pathetic puddle at the bottom of the bowl.

5. The Aptamil follow-on milk advert
To be honest, it's not even the whole advert that annoys me. It's just one line. This line.

Breast milk is the best protection for your baby and nothing compares to it.
If you decide to move on, we've created Aptamil follow-on milk ...

Okay, so that's two lines, my bad.
Now, I'm no expert, but I'm fairly sure that EVERYONE moves on from breastfeeding. There's no 'if' involved, otherwise you end up like the 'bitty' sketches from Little Britain.

And with that marvellous image now in everyone's minds, I shall bring this complainy little bloglet to an end and ask ...

what are your pet peeves?

Monday, 12 March 2012

New Year's Resolutions - A Revisit

At the start of the year I wrote a bloglet about my resolutions for 2012. Seeing as we're now sort of half way through March (is anyone else concerned about how quickly those 2.5 months went?) I thought it would be a good idea to have a quick catch up of how things are going.

1. Keep a weekly blog
I think I've managed to keep this up so far. Let me check ... bear with me a minute.

Ok, so there has been one occasion when it's been twelve days between bloglets HOWEVER, according to what I actually wrote in my new year's resolutions bloglet:

"I want to be able to look back at 2012 and see that I have added a new blog entry at least 52 times."

I'm still ok, or at least still on track. I reckon we're now in week 11 of the year (possibly 12 if you go from Sunday to Sunday) and I have posted 15 bloglets. *Mini victory dance*
What I'm now worried about is coming up with bloglet topics that are interesting and that you want to read. If there's anything specific that you want me to write about, then just say so in comments and I'll see if I can give it a go.
Otherwise you might end up with a Latin version of It's All Greek To Me.
Yes, I am threatening you with another etymological bloglet.

2. Learn 12 new songs on the ukulele
*awkward silence*

I've learnt one new song since the start of the year. Poor effort, I know. As punishment (probably both to myself and anyone who watches it) I filmed myself playing the chorus. It's not the whole song for two reasons:
1. I can just about get through the chorus without messing up.
2. I don't want to damage your ears.

Please excuse the complete fail of a first note.
Please also excuse the fact that you have to go all the way to YouTube to view this video. There were issues and tissues with me uploading it directly into here.

Grover Sings

3. Learn how to knit
*even awkwarder silence*

I can do a few stitches. Stocking stitch may be one of them ... moss stitch is possibly another. I am worse than useless at remembering the names. For my birthday last month I received a 'Knit a Friend' kit (insert joke about me having to knit someone to be friends with me) and so far I have approximately one hundredth of a knitted friend.
To be honest that's probably a rather generous approximation.
In my defence, both my mum and sister have said that the wool provided in the kit is difficult to knit with, so the lack of knitted friend isn't totally my fault. It's mostly my fault but knitting's so dagnabitly (yes, that's a word) hard!

So, in conclusion, I'm not completely failing to adhere to my new year's resolutions but if I'm honest, I could probably try harder. I'll write another update in a few months' time and see if I'm doing any better.

Someone give me a poke around May/June time, will you? In the meantime I want to hear how your resolutions are going!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Lyrical Love Letters

"What shall I write a bloglet about this week?"

"Write a diary entry using only song lyrics/titles!"

"When writing a diary entry becomes really difficult, can I change it to a series of letters/emails between two people?"

*sigh* "If you have to."


Tuesday 14th February (09.30)
Dear Layla,
Let's get together. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Why don't you and I combine? Let's get together, what do you say? We could have a swinging time!
Your secret admirer

Tuesday 14th February (19.12)
Dear secret admirer,
Who are you? Who-oo-oo? Who are you? Who-oo-oo?
From Layla

Tuesday 14th February (19.15)
Dear Layla,
I've got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby. Come with me Friday, don't say maybe.
Your secret admirer

Wednesday 15th February (11.32)
Dear secret admirer,
Oooh, you're moving too fast and I don't think it's right, I'm not giving you my love tonight. Now, ooh, you're moving too fast, better sit back that ass: I'm not giving out no love tonight.

Wednesday 15th February (11.40)
Dear Layla,
I'm going to run to you.
I'm going to run to you.
Cos when the feeling's right, I'm going to run all night. I'm going to run to you.

Friday 17th February (18.47)
LAYLA! You got me on my knees. Layla I'm begging darling, please.
LAYLA! Darling, won't you ease my worried mind?

Friday 17th February (19.36)
Just leave me alone, leave me alooooooone. Leave me alone, leave me alooooooone, stop it, just stop dogging me around.

Friday 17th February (19.46)
Girl, you really got me going: you got me so I don't know what I'm doing. Yeah, you really got me now: you got me so I can't sleep at night.

Sunday 19th February (12.19)
I aint freakin', I aint faking this.
I aint freakin', I aint faking this.
I aint freakin', I aint faking this. SHUT UP AND LET ME GO!

Sunday 19th February (18.41)
Dear Layla,
Can you feel the love tonight?
The peace the evening brings. The world, for once, in perfect harmony with all its living things.

Sunday 19th February (20.53)
When the outside temperature rises and the meaning is oh so clear. One thousand and one yellow daffodils begin to dance in front of you (oh dear). Are they trying to tell you something? YOU'RE MISSING THAT ONE FINAL SCREW. You're simply not in the pink my dear. To be honest you haven't got a clue.

Sunday 19th February (21.14)
Baby I want you: you give me something I need. Now tell me I've got something for you. I can't get enough of your love. I can't get enough of your love. I can't get enough of your love.

Sunday 19th February (21.20)
The lights are on, but you're not home. Your mind is not your own.

Monday 20th February (08.15)
Darling you've got to let me know; should I stay or should I go? If you say that you are mine, I'll be here till the end of time. So you've got to let me know, should I stay or should I go?

Thursday 23rd February (12.06)
I hate you so much right now. I hate you so much right now. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! I hate you so much right now.

Thursday 23rd February (17.27)
I think I'd better leave right now, before I fall any deeper. I think I'd better leave right now, feeling weaker and weaker. Somebody had better show me how, before I fall any deeper.
I think I'd better leave right now.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

10 Wonderful Things About Hannah

"What shall I write a bloglet about this week?"

"10 wonderful things about Hannah."

Ask and ye shall receive, Hannah.

Please note, this is by no means an exhaustive list: there are millions of wonderful things about Hannah.

1. Time and place of birth
Just as the Earth is ideally placed in its distance from the Sun in order to support life, so the timing and place of Hannah's birth was crucial in our becoming friends. If, for example, Hannah had been born too early (let's say for argument's sake in the time of the dinosaurs), we would never have met and become friends. Also, due to a distinct lack of humans at that time, Hannah would have been born a dinosaur and if, by some miracle of time travel, the two of us had met, she would undoubtedly see me as a snack rather than a potential friend. Similarly, if Hannah had been born too late (let's say in a time in the future when robots rule the Earth), our friendship would meet a rather large stumbling block inasmuch as I would have died before she had been born. So, in summary, Hannah was born at the perfect time in order for our paths to cross.
In addition to being born at just the right time, Hannah was clever enough to arrive on the planet in the same location as myself (namely England), meaning that the likelyhood of us meeting each other was much greater than if she had chosen to be born elsewhere.

2. Singstar
Many a happy hour was spent playing Singstar at university and in our house the provider of the Singstar was Hannah. Without this marvellous karaoke machine we would not possess hillariously embarrassing footage of us 'putting our pride on the shelf' at the YMCA, or being continually made to 'feel ill' because of Pink's pill. We also would not have the glorious memory of shout-singing so loudly that students from the next street came round in their pyjamas to complain about the noise.

3. Palindromic name
As well as rhyming with 'spanner' and 'banana' (it does if you say it right), the name Hannah is also a palindrome, which means it reads the same forwards and backwards. There is something intensely satisfying about this for me, not to mention the fact that the word 'palindrome' comes from Greek (palin = back/again, dromos = running).
Bravo on an excellent choice of name, Hannah.

4. Obsessive nature
That sounds quite bad and like I'm making some sort of strange diagnosis, doesn't it? 'Obsessive nature'. Don't forget, folks, this is a list of wonderful things about Hannah, so don't worry, this is a positive trait. Let me explain.
If Hannah likes something, she REALLY likes it. This is particularly true of television shows. This meant that we had 'Charmed' marathons at university (surprisingly we did find time to study between the lengthy karaoke and TV sessions and we both graduated). If you have never had a marathon DVD session of Charmed, Star Wars or whatever takes your fancy, I suggest you pencil in one for the weekend because it's absolutely ace.

5. Leadership qualities
Within our group Hannah is basicallly our leader. She might not know or wish to believe it but she is. She's usually the one to come up with the good idea and see it through. I'm fairly sure Hannah was the driving force behind our trips to Rhodes and Poland, both of which were fantastic, and I have no doubt that she'll be the one who comes up with brilliant ideas of places we could visit in the future. No pressure ;)

6. Tiffin
Hannah's mum makes the best tiffin on this (and probably any other) planet. Friendship with Hannah has blessed me in a number of ways, not least of which in being granted access to the tiffin. Hannah is also one of the few people who knows the secret ingredient (apparently it's not love: I've asked).

7. Video camera
As mentioned, Hannah was the provider of Singstar at university. She was also the provider of the video camera, which we took great advantage of during our time at university. Without Hannah's video camera we would not have:
- The Gareth murder
- Crotch hand and various 'special' effects
- Singstar footage
- Dangerous BBQ falls from the sky
- Death-defying stair stunts
- The calzone cookery show
- Flying jelly
- Falling down a hole at the beach
- G'day Bruce
- Ro-DAY-o
- And many more which I can't remember at the moment

8. Excellent taste in television
Who else can I discuss Sanctuary or Wild at Heart with?
By the way if you don't watch Sancutary or Wild at Heart you should. Sanctuary because it's ridiculously amazing and Wild at Heart because it's amazingly ridiculous.
See what I did there? Clever huh?

9. She knows about the BRAIN
Hannah studied psychology at university (yes, obviously she gains points for it being a Greek word - did you need to ask?) which means she knows tonnes of interesting stuff about the brain. Stuff which I don't ask her about often enough, actually. She understands why people act in a certain way when they've experienced a specific head trauma, she's read loads of fascinating case studies about real things which happened to real people (as opposed to reading epic poems which may or may not have been written by one person) and she EVEN knows the posh names for the bits of the brain, like the hypothalywhatsit.

10. She's one of my best friends
I can vividly remember meeting Hannah for the first time (Hannah doesn't remember meeting me: I just wormed my way into the friendship group until it was generally accepted that I couldn't be got rid of). At this first meeting I genuinely remember thinking to myself, 'I hope I can be friends with her' and wondering what I could do that would make her like me.
I know, 18 year-old me was weirdly clingy and needy, wasn't she?
I don't remember a single point in time when I felt like I'd achieved my strange, obsessed-fan like goal, but I do remember, a couple of years later, remembering the memory described above and feeling extremely grateful that we'd become friends.
I still feel exactly the same way today.

That was a really nice exercise. If you're having a bad day (or even if you're not), why not choose a friend and think of 10 wonderful things about them? It's guaranteed to put you in a good mood :)