Alan & Marty

I was amused that Marty decided to create a GreaseMonkey script to change the name on Alan’s blog. What I wasn’t expecting was the really long time it takes for Alan’s site to load. It took nearly 3 minutes for me to see what Marty had done. And so that the rest of my friends don’t have to waste their time, or install the script, I took a screen-shot.

What his blog should really say

What his blog should really say


I’m feeling sorry for myself today. It happens from time to time. I was looking forward to getting back to Tokyo but I spent most of today in bed. I have bronchitis. It’s not overly serious but I did manage to avoid it in the winter of ’07 and ’08. And I didn’t want to catch it again. What is it about going to Northern Ireland that makes me ill? When I last visited I ended up with a really painful sinus infection.

I’m going to try to motivate myself to go and see a doctor. The last time I had bronchitis I also managed to catch some sort of bacterial infection closely followed by a virus – the combined efforts of which left me useless for around six weeks. At the minute my hormone imbalance is making me feel quite useless all by itself I don’t need anything else to help it along!

One Response to “Illness”

  1. Chastity Says:

    Oh boy Karen! I’m really sorry you’re feeling so badly. I know how you feel though, at least about feeling sorry for yourself. I have nothing to feel badly about, but I’m moping anyway. This is why I hate winter. I hope you get well soon!

Mountains of Mourne

I spent a very enjoyable weekend at the Slieve Donard hotel with Marty’s family.  The hotel was beautiful but it’s the setting that makes it special.  It’s both on the coast and at the foot of the Mourne Moutains.  It really is the place where,  “the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea”.

View from the grounds of the Slieve Donard Hotel

View from the grounds of the Slieve Donard Hotel

After checking out we went for a drive towards Silent Valley and Spelga Dam.  I wanted to see if I could find a good place to take pictures of the choppy sea.  I didn’t manage that but we did find a couple of places to stop in the mountains.

Slieve Commedagh

Slieve Commedagh

Another Horrible Airport

Recently I attempted to make a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.  This is mostly complete but I was surprised by how few travel related items there are.  When I was younger travelling was the thing I longed to do.  And I know, that compared to many, I travel a lot but in many ways it has lost both its fun and mystery.

This morning I was in Schiphol airport in Holland.  I arrived in a mess of people all trying to get boarding cards in an area where they were checking in flights for 12 airlines.  When I finally got a machine it couldn’t find my reservation.  So, I went and queued for a desk only to be told it was the wrong desk.  I could go on but that would nearly be as boring as the hour I spent sorting everything out.

I finally arrived at the gate where they carry out a security check.  I wanted to take off my boots – as they make the machine beep – but they didn’t want me to do this.  After I beeped they wanted to do a body check.  This was really unpleasant.  They girl actually ran her hands all over my chest and then checked under the wire of my bra!  No-one has ever done that before.  And to make it even more uncomfortable the people sitting waiting to board were watching her do this.

It’s gotten to the stage where I really dislike airports.  I have started to dread going to them.  Not surprisingly this is putting me off travelling.

Brain Fog

Having a hormone imbalance is really affecting my short term memory.  I have lots of blog posts in draft but I get part of the way through them and can’t remember what point I was trying to make.  I’m having the same problem in conversations.

Getting ready to travel drove me mad.  I kept forgetting which things I had already packed.  I managed to pack my camera without its battery as I forget that I had put this on to charge.  I’m really glad that Marty spotted it before we left the apartment.  Normally I would make a list to help me pack things for going away but I really couldn’t cope with spending all my time looking for the list instead of actually packing.

Another Hospital Visit

Another Saturday morning spent at the Ito Hospital.  The hospital waiting room wasn’t as packed this morning though I arrived a bit later than I wanted to.  Mind you it was only 7 minutes after the hospital opened and today I got to be number 174.

I was really impressed by how quickly they can turn round blood test results.  I had my blood taken at 8.45 and when I got to see the consultant at 10.15 he had the results.  I was surprised by these as, even though I’m now on medication, I’m getting worse instead of better.   So he prescribed more medication.  I’ll need to go back for more tests – not something I’m looking forward to but something that I’m going to need to do regularly for the forseeable future.

I don’t like having blood taken but the nurses at the hospital are very competent.  I wasn’t overly happy, however, with the way they put pressure on the injection puncture once they finished.  At my Doctor’s surgery they use neat little plasters.  At the hospital they used a large wad of gauze and what felt like packing tape.

Too Much Tape

Too Much Tape

4 Responses to “Another Hospital Visit”

  1. Chastity Says:

    Getting all that tape off is often worse than the injection itself. There’s no way to remove it without also yanking off a layer of skin and hair. And I bruise very badly after blood tests, so ripping off packing tape from a bruise isn’t very nice.

    I hope they are able to get this all sorted for you soon. The uncertainty and waiting around is what would get to me.

  2. karen Says:

    It was hard to get the tape off. I was lucky though – no bruising from the blood test. First time ever.

    It’s going to be another two months before I know if the new medication is working. And if it isn’t – well this could all take a while.

  3. Norwin Says:

    The tape isn’t nearly as bad as what I saw at first glance – the black t-shirt made it look like they amputated your arm completely!! That’s a lot of blood to take in one go!
    As for the tape, the blood transfusion people are the best I know – they put a nice neat sticking plaster on, then wrap some kind of sticky bandage round and round your elbow until you can’t bend it for the rest of the day.

  4. karen Says:

    I think I would have been doing a lot more complaining if they had taken off half my arm!

Writing Tips

I would like to be able to write better.  This leads me to read various articles about the art of writing.  Today I read Russell’s article “How I Write“.  There are some things that worked for him that would never work for me.  He would think about a topic for a long period of time, let it simmer in his sub-conscious,  until he got to the stage where revelation hit.  And then he was able to dictate his whole essay or book.  I certainly need time to think but I prefer a cycle of writing and editing.

He gives three maxims to improve writing:

  1. Never use a long word if a short word will do.
  2. If you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences.
  3. Do not let the beginning of your sentence lead the reader to an expectation which is contradicted by the end.

My favourite piece of advice is directed at professors but would be useful to anyone who writes in a field filled with jargon:

I am allowed to use plain English because everybody knows that I could use mathematical logic if I chose. … I suggest to young professors that their first work should be written in a jargon only to be understood by the erudite few. With that behind them, they can ever after say what they have to say in a language “understanded of the people”.

5 Responses to “Writing Tips”

  1. writing tips Says:

    good writing tips..
    u can read setphen king on writing. i sure u can get more tips about writing.

  2. karen Says:

    I have read Stephen King’s book “On Writing” and also William Zinsser’s book “On Writing Well”. Both are excellent books. Maybe it’s time for me to re-read them!

  3. Ampersandrew Says:

    I have a tip for “writing tips”. Learn to write coherent, grammatical english before giving out advice on writing well.

  4. Richard Says:

    Hello Marty and Karen,
    How are you both doing, it being awhile since we chatted. I hope all is well with you both.


  5. karen Says:

    Hi Richard, we are both doing fine thank you. I hope everything is well with you.

Dry Air

Today’s weather advisory for Tokyo told me that there was going to be “Dry Air”.  I could guess at what this was but why would it be considered a problem?  I looked it up and it appears that breathing dry air can cause problems with asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis nosebleeds, and skin irritation.

It can also make the air feel cooler and make it harder to heat a room. The solution is to buy a humidifier.  I refuse to buy something to add water to the air in my apartment when I spend most of the year trying to get away from the overly wet air in Japan.

2 Responses to “Dry Air”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    I read today on another blog that most homes are not heated in Japan. It doesn’t seem like it’s true for your apartment – what’s the standard?

  2. karen Says:

    In Tokyo, because it’s nowhere near as cold as the frozen North, lots of homes don’t really have heating. Our last apartment had one air conditioner / heater in the living room. There was no heating of any kind in the bedrooms, kitchen or bathroom. The “heater” in the living room was really weak and much too small for the size of room.

    To keep warm we used hot water bottles in the beds. Blankets in the living room and a heated rug. The Japanese have heated rugs – a bit like electric blankets – that you put on the living room floor. At night I would have plugged in the rug, sat on a chair with no legs (to put me close to the floor) and wrapped myself up in a blanket. It was really toasty. I have to admit that the freezing cold bathroom was rather annoying and we did tend to dash between rooms as the hall was colder than the outside.

    Some people buy stand alone room heaters – and we got a couple of these last winter when it snowed as our house guests were freezing. And I know that some of my friends to the west of here use old fashioned gas heaters to keep warm in the winter.

    In our new apartment we have an air conditioning / heating unit in every room. We also have an air heater in the bathroom, that we have never used, and under floor heating in the living room. The under floor heating only covers part of the floor and in many ways it’s the modern replacement for the heated rug. I still spend my evenings sitting on a warm rug with a blanket wrapped round me. Now it’s powered by gas and not electricity.

    This means that I have never seen a radiator in Japan. And I’m thrilled about this. Because radiators take up so much wall space that could be used by bookcases. It also means that we use less gas / oil than I’m used to. As rooms aren’t just being heated because the central heating has been put on. I know that when I visit my mum again I’m going to find the heat inside her house uncomfortable.

Mystery Gift Giver

I received another Christmas present in the post today.  It’s a book entitled “How to be an Explorer of the World” and it looks really interesting.  It came in an Amazon parcel, gift wrapped and with a little note attached:

Sometimes I rebel against wish lists.  I saw a review of this, and thought you might enjoy it.

I am glad that I have rebellious friend and I do have my suspicions about who that friend might be.  But I would like to know for sure.

2 Responses to “Mystery Gift Giver”

  1. Norwin Says:

    Oops! Yes, guilty as charged.

  2. karen Says:

    I’m thrilled with the present – and you gave me something to blog about.

Introversion vs. Extroversion

I was reading Chastity’s blog post about a personality test she took.  She mentions that the results say she is an extrovert, which is not something she agrees with.  Although the test is not a completely serious one I decided to take it to see what my results are.  It also says that I am an extrovert.  The test is wrong.  I’ve have had to take some detailed personality tests when interviewing for jobs and I know that I am an introvert.

The words introvert and extrovert are often misunderstood.  When used in personality tests they usually refer to how a person gains their energy or motivation.  Does it come from within or from interaction with other people?

A lot of people think that someone who is an introvert is quiet and will avoid the spotlight whenever possible.  But actually it is very possible for an introvert to be comfortable in social situations and even to come across as the life and soul of the party.  They will, however, find that the experience drains them as they gain their energy from within.

My husband is often mistaken for an extrovert.  In company he is loud, noisy and entertaining.  But although he enjoys these social interactions he is an introvert.  And would, if you let him, spend hours and hours on his own without interacting with anyone at all.  He has a room in our apartment, which he calls his cave, where he spends a large part of the weekend.  I don’t disturb him as I know he needs to do this to remain happy.  It probably helps that I am also an introvert and that I am happy to spend a lot of time on my own.

I have tried a variety of personality tests but I think that the Myers-Briggs test is the best one for determining if you are an introvert or an extrovert.  I’m not sure what the best online one is but I took this one earlier this evening and it gave me the expected result.

One Response to “Introversion vs. Extroversion”

  1. Chastity Says:

    Thank you for the validation. I knew there was something wrong with the test because I’ve never tested as extroverted. It seems like on this particular test you will be considered an extrovert if you do things like throw a party, invite the neighbors over, have friends in other countries, or befriend a stranger etc. These are all things I’ve done and enjoy doing, but as you explained, social situations – for me – are fun though they are quite draining. Like Marty and you, I’m happy to sit for hours on my own with a book and afterward I will feel energized. Although, admittedly, I rarely get those several hours alone what with the circus I live in. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only one to find this test in error.

New Year's Reading

New Year makes me think about clearing things out. I need to get rid of a lot of old books – at least so I can make room in my bookcases for my new ones.  Though when I say old books I really mean books that I will never read again even if they were only bought last week.

This year most of the Christmas presents I received came from my Amazon wish-list.  This does mean I got to pick my own books.  (Though I did notice that people preferred to buy me DVDs over philosophy books.)  Presents included:

I read every day and I have been making an effort to add more non-fiction to my reading.  Today I read Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness“.  Not sure what I will read tomorrow but hopefully it’s something inspiring.

There are many sorts of books; but good ones are the sort for the young to read. Remember that. They are a great, an inestimable, and unspeakable means of improvement.

Mark Twain

3 Responses to “New Year’s Reading”

  1. Norwin Says:

    So if good books are for the young, are we all moving on to the bad books now?
    Does anyone have Jordan’s autobiography?

  2. karen Says:

    Ah no. I’m still young 🙂 And actually that’s no on both points as I don’t have Jordan’s autobiography either.

  3. Norwin Says:

    Well, that’s a relief on all counts!
    Excellent news!