Category Archives: Books

In brief

I am going out to a book group tonight.

Mr Farli is coming too.


No time to blog at length, but thought I would check in for a minute.

Thank you for reading.

Retail Therapy

I had a very pleasing contact lens checkup today and I can now confirm that the world wasn’t blurry, I just was not focussing enough. Action has been taken.

While I was in town, I wandered to the bank to pay in a cheque (I tried showing it to the internet banking page, but there was no slot to put it in) and found Waterstones on the way. After a lengthy browse, I came out with a book on Tolkien’s Tengwar and other related linguistic bits and pieces and a gadget.

I like gadgets, particularly those which enhance the reading experience. It is currently velcroed to the top of my monitor, but I can confirm that it can also function on a variety of surfaces. Marvellous, and indisputably useful for studying, hence no disapproving looks from Mr Farli. The disapproving looks were saved for the Tengwar book.

This weekend, I have been mostly reading Douglas Adams. I discovered a Dirk Gently novel that I had inadvertently omitted to read and I am now following it up with The Salmon of Doubt. Marvellous.

[Editor’s note -Too many adverbs in this post. Could do better.]

Exciting book link

In my meanderings around this evening, I came across a link from Rhys’s blog to an article all about various ways of organising and classifying books, particularly using the colour (or rather, color) of the spine/cover. I know that book classification is a subject very dear to the heart of at least one of my readers, as well as being something I can get ridiculously excited about, so I thought I would pass it on. I will read the article in more detail and follow the links when I have time.

One of the joys of moving house was working out how all my books fitted in. (Easy answer – they don’t). I’m still not completely happy about their arrangement, but the broad strokes of the classification is there. I think that once I get them all onto Library Thing, I will be able to use tags more effectively. It is like a great big n-dimensional Venn Diagram. Mmmmmm maths and books, two of my favourite things.

Would I ever arrange my books by colour? I don’t think so. However, our DVDs end up being somewhat arranged by colour since colour often indicates genre: generally, romcom = white, action/thriller = black. A friend who has a large collection of videos arranged by colour first pointed this out to me some years ago and it still holds true in the most part.

Lectures today were very exciting, challenging and stretching. Learning is fun!

And that is all for now since I set myself a limit of 11pm for coming off the internet. Ooops, just overun. Sshhh, dont mention it, I might not have realised.

Just some quick thoughts on some books

I bought some books at Greenbelt.

Chasing the Dragon – Jackie Pullinger
I saw Jackie twice: at Last Orders on the Friday, and at the CMS worship on Saturday morning. So inspiring.
The book was an amazing testimony to part of an amazing journey. I would recommend it to everyone. I always find it easier to read biography than general information about something. I guess it is because, at a fundamental level, humans share so many experiences that when someone lives such a radically different life, it has more impact.

Jackie’s heartfelt call at Greenbelt was for the ‘normal’ Christians, to make the effort to go and help those working with people on the edge. How can people recover from problems like addiction without positive role models to help them?

A Universal Heart, The Life and Vision of Brother Roger of Taize – Kathryn Spink, updated edition.
Taize has been important to me for so long. I grew up in an ecumenical church and to see ecumenism happening in Taize on such a large scale was a real blessing. The music has also inspired me. One of my other memories of Greenbelt this year is sitting in front of the big screen, singing and praying with hundreds of people. It was beautiful.

The book is a biography, detailing much of the early life of the community and recounting some of the ecumenical journey they made, with a particular focus on Brother Roger’s role. Very easy to read and well worth it.

Still to read:
God’s Politics – can’t remember the author
Compassionate Community Work, Dave Andrews

If I stare at the screen any longer, my contact lenses will dry out completely.

What’s in a name?

Some people are nickname and shortened name people. Others are not.

My family have always been one for changing names. They call me many different things, depending on their whim at the time. I usually answer to anything that rhymes with my shortened name.

Different people are allowed to call me different things and every few years I will decide that a particular form of my name is my preferred option. Different groups of people know me by different names and that is fine. I tend to keep different groups apart so it doesn’t get too confusing.

There are times when it becomes more tricky – our wedding day was one. How should the vicar refer to me? In the end, I just picked the version that my oldest friends use (which happened to be the one that the church knew as well). The rest could deal with me being different. Sending out change of address cards last month was another. Mr Farli had amended our address database so each person in it was associated with a particular form of our names so we could mail merge it. In the end, that grew too complicated, so we just picked a form that is not too offensive.

Then there are pseudonyms – I have many different internet identities, some based on my real name, others not. Farli isn’t.

Well there was a pointless post – talking about my name, without actually saying what it is. Daisy might appreciate it, but to most people, it will be rather pointless.

Pop quiz – where does the name Farli come from? I’ll give you a clue – it is from a book.
Bonus points – where (ish) does the character from the book live and with whom?

Moving Part 3: Boxes – yay!

We have boxes – hurrah …

… All over the living room floor – not so hurrah.

Packing has begun and will be finished by this time tomorrow (blogging machine possibly excepted). I am determined to observe the Sabbath (even if it means getting up at stupid o’clock on Monday), so I can say goodbye properly to my lovely Church.

I have still got a bar and a bit of chocolate left, although it is left out in case it is needed. I have not turned the tokens into books yet since (thank you Daisy) tokens are easier to pack. I did, however, go and cash in my loyalty card at the local Christian bookstore and got 5 quid off Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (title may not be quite right – I have packed it).

Time for sleep I think.

The Tipping Point (1)

While camping at the weekend I read a rather interesting book which has provoked some thought.

The book was called The Tipping Point and, for the benefit of those who may not have heard of it, explains how things become popular using a kind of viral epidemic model. Sounds thrilling eh? Well I found it fascinating for several reasons: 1) It made me think about what type of communicator I am, 2) It made me consider the concept of cool and how I engage with it (or not, as the case is more likely to be), and 3) How Tipping Points relate to mission and evangelism.

Sounds a bit much for one post so I might spread it over a few. Hopefully, with the above to remind me, I will come back to the subject later with some recollection of what I want to say.

So, what kind of communicator am I?
Having discussed this with Sister, we agreed that, by the nature of our upbringing, we are both natural connectors, having a wide circle of acquaintances in many contexts. We grew up on a University campus, so there was a pretty constant turnover of people, particularly at church. We also had a holiday home we went to regularly, getting to know lots of people there. At church now, I will probably know the names and enough details to smalltalk successfully (mostly) with nearly all the people there, while Mr Farli knows only about half a dozen people.

A maven is an expert, someone who people come to for advice on stuff. Now I am not much of a maven, except in a very few areas like where to get the most books for the least money, or how to achieve something on a computer (mail merge is my particular speciality here – anything can be made easier with mail merge). I certainly like being an expert – it is good for the ego to be called in to help someone. It may, however, be bad for the soul for me to get too bigheaded about this.

I am not a salesman, (although I did try and sell double glazing once in a moment of poverty – it did not go well and I only lasted 2 hours) but I could probably do with being more salesmanlike – “a charismatic person with powerful negotiating skills” (from link, above). Something to ponder there, but I will come back to it another time.

So, anyone else read it? What did you think? What sort of a communicator are you?

This week I have been mostly…

1) Going on rollercoasters
Ow, ow, ow, ow. My muscles all hurt and I have bruises on the sides of my knees. I think I may be getting too old for rollercoasters. However, there is nothing quite like the sheer terror of being swung upside down many times. My screaming muscles are definitely well exercised.

2) Camping
A successful weekend all round. Lots of cake and alcohol, a barbecue, a trip to the beach, frisbee-ing and kite flying. The pound and a postcard challenge went down well: Each person in the group picked a name out of a hat and then had to buy an item of tourist tat costing no more than a pound, plus an appropriate postcard. The gifts were exchanged anonymously and we had a grand unveiling on the Sunday morning where we all had to guess who had been our benefactor. I received a postcard of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and a keyring with a steam train on. My sister had no trouble guessing that I had bought her a fridge magnet and an educational Captain Cook postcard. She recognised my handwriting, even in block capitals.

A welcome side-effect of the pound and a postcard game was that we all spent so much time trying to find that perfect item, that none of us spent any serious money on frivolous things, although there were second-hand book shops so I picked up a few items I had been strong enough not to buy new.

3) Remonstrating with removal companies
Hopefully, by the end of today, we will have picked the company with the lowest price. I spent some time on the phone on Friday morning chasing them up. One of the firms I filled in an exam paper for then said they were fully booked on that day so I had to find another one. Why they could not have said this 2 weeks ago when I first approached them I do not know.

4) Not filling in forms for college – I dozed and read books yesterday evening instead

5) Not packing, due to not having boxes yet – see item 3

I think I want to talk about NaCl, but I am not sure

I just wrote a really long post and clicked something which made it disappear into the ether. Lets hope that I can remember most of it.

Despite my earlier post, I haven’t yet posted anything about books. There are three reasons for this: firstly, I was saving it until I had nothing else to say; secondly, I haven’t been reading anything I would admit to recently and thirdly, I want to link to other websites, so need to give myself the time to remember how html works. Thanks to the wiblog FAQ, I think I have this last figured out. Time will tell.

Has anyone come across Library Thing? If not, make sure you have an hour or two to spare before clicking since it is the most effective procrastination tool I have yet come across. It allows you to create your own library catalogue of books you own, look at how many other people have the same books as you, and much, much more. The most addictive thing I have found is applying the correct cover to each book in your collection and then viewing them as a virtual bookshelf. I’ve not yet upgraded to a full account so I am limited to 200 books. This means that my collection at the moment is rather skewed towards books I want people to know I read. I actually read a greater proportion of rubbish than appears here.

Note: since starting to retype this post, library thing has been unavailable. Hopefully it will be back up again before too long. Thanks to Daisy, my regular commenter (commentator?), for the original recommendation of Library Thing.

Onto one of my favourite books from the last few years:
Salt by Mark Kurlansky
This is, no really, a book about salt, as in the stuff you cook with and spread on icy paths. It includes the history of salt making/harvesting/mining, the political significance of salt, the importance in food storage pre-refridgeration, some rather worrying recipes (take a barrel of salt, top up with X, leave for 6 months, pour into a jar) and other fascinating stuff. Kurlansky writes in a really engaging style, with stories interspersed with facts and information. I first read it on a train to Cologne, hardly noticed the channel tunnel and nearly forgot to change at Brussels. Since then, I have read it again on more than one occasion and found it just as interesting.

This book changed my life because: when I read fiction, particularly fantasy or historical fiction, I get distracted by working out how this community must get enough salt to preserve meat/fish etc. I also have a new respect for parma ham, one of my favourite things.

His other non-fiction is definitely on my wanted list.

On a related note, this is my favourite salt. It is nice enough to eat in small quantities straight from the packet and goes really well on a spinach and tomato salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Having just checked out the website, I can see that I am going to have to acquire some Maldon Pepper as well.

There, I think I remembered most of what I was going to say. One final question: Did I use the semi-colon in the first paragraph correctly? This punctuation lark is causing me no end of bother.

Moving Part 1: A deprived childhood results in some life lessons being missed

My colleagues have been asking me for the last month if I have started packing for the move. I haven’t, mainly due to a lack of information on various points, but also because I WAS CLEARLY NOT TAKING IT SERIOUSLY ENOUGH. I discover that this is not meant to be easy or fun, but a challenge to sanity and stress levels.

I have never moved house properly. I contrived to be out of the country both times my parents moved (not intentionally out of the country you understand, just conveniently) and I have always shoved stuff in the back of a car or van (driven by a parent). I now own a sofa, among other items of furniture, and so much random stuff that this approach will not work. I need complicated things like removal men and boxes. This scares me. Mr Farli is on holiday, so is excused from assisting at the moment. I am in charge.
[quantum leap] Oh boy. [/quantum leap]

My future employers are paying for the move, (hurrah!), but require multiple quotes to be sure they are getting a good deal. It took them a while to get their act together and tell me how to sort the paperwork, so I am left with only just over 2 weeks to organise. This is not enough time for removal men to come and look round to give a quote, so last night I found myself sitting an exam on my furniture and belongings.

Questions 1 through 3000(*): How many of X item of furniture do you have?

I had already made a list of furniture, so this was not too bad, but of 40 things I ticked, I had to item 10 of them separately, since they weren’t on the list. What is a “tallboy, normal” and, more worryingly, what is an abnormal one? Does it matter that I don’t possess one?

Question 3001: If a box for books holds 2 feet of shelving, how many do you need? Add in extra boxes for food and other small, heavy items.

Answer 3001, obtained after an hour of wandering around finding all the books and small heavy stuff (NB, maybe I should have paid attention in applied maths classes – this taxed me more than it should): 45.

45? Forty five? FORTY FIVE? I never thought I would say this, but I may have too many books. The trouble is that a lot of the shelves are double stacked, so I had to count them twice, and then there are the shelves where the books are stacked vertically. Then there was my current reading pile, which will require a special box all to itself.

Note to future self (1): Buy bookcases with shelves that are 1 or 2 feet wide, not 15 inches. Multiples of 15 inches are difficult when you are hot and tired.

Note to future self (2): You weren’t ever planning to move the bulk of your book collection out of Parents’ house were you?

I have been cunning: when the next exam paper arrives, I will cheat and use the answers from this one.

I can do this, no problem.

(*) An exaggeration? Maybe a little bit.