Wednesday, November 12, 2008

National Adoption Week

This week is National Adoption Week (10th – 16th November). I was adopted as a baby and am a huge advocate of the system. I only wish more people were willing to raise a child that doesn’t share their DNA. In my opinion, what makes a parent is the love and support they offer a child and the sacrifices they are prepared to make on the child’s behalf.

Sadly, however, shared DNA is not a sure sign of parental ability. This week has been full of the most horrific stories of child abuse involving parents deliberately harming their own children. The case of ‘Baby P’ suggests that local authorities must be more vigilant and aware that the family is not always the best place for a child. Most social workers do a very good job in extremely difficult circumstances, but something has gone horribly wrong here.
Meanwhile Shannon Mathews’ mother (along with a friend) has been accused of drugging her daughter and kidnapping her, in order to claim reward money for her safe return.

How this can happen is really beyond me.

Despite this (or perhaps because of this?) there are many children being adopted by wonderful parents and hopefully the good work done by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering in helping to create new families will continue.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Entertainment or Education? pt 2

I had to just add, having seen this on the BBC website, how can the BBC justify some of its current content in light of its 6 public purposes?

In order for the BBC to fulfil its mission to inform, educate and entertain, the Royal Charter and Agreement sets out six public purposes.
The BBC Trust has set remits for these public purposes, and BBC management has responded with its plans for delivering each purpose.
Go to the following pages for details of the six public purposes and the BBC's plans for delivering them:
Sustaining citizenship and civil society
Promoting education and learning
Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities
Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK
Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services

See the BBC Trust for the purpose remits in full.

Entertainment or Education?

I’ve tried very hard to avoid the controversial topic of the BBC-Ross-Brand row, but having come across not one, not two, but three articles on the subject in Marketing Week, I just couldn’t help myself.

Now I’d like to point out that I don’t read Marketing Week for pleasure (apart from this week) but it is necessary for my job (and a very useful resource). I do read the BBC news website, however, and I have been following the row with interest.

While I agree that the BBC is in part an entertainment service and while agreeing that most of the complaints came from people who didn’t hear the original broadcast, I find myself on the side of the people saying ‘how did this happen?’. How did the BBC, an organisation supposed to entertain and educate, allow such puerile attempts at humour to be broadcast?

Yes, ‘cutting edge’ British humour is expected to push the boundaries. Yes, Monty Python did the same. Yes, by clamping down in a knee-jerk reaction the BBC may be more cautious over the content aired during shows like ‘Have I Got News for You’.

Yes, this is a rant.

But I personally have no problem with the people effectively paying for the BBC to be allowed to have some input as to what their money is spent on. I totally agree with Ruth Mortimer in Marketing Week where she says that

“…anger about Jonathan Ross’ salary – reportedly £18m over three years – has a lot more to do with this zeitgeist rage than anything else. He is employed by the BBC, which is funded by consumers paying their licence fees. People resent someone funded with their millions gratuitously offending old men while they worry about the next mortgage payment.”
I also agree with Iain Murray’s opinion that
“..for humour to advance beyond the naughty things that make children laugh, and to enter the realm of adult wit, you need an educated, literate audience able to appreciate allusion to a wider world that that of the nursery and the potty.”

We obviously don’t have that kind of audience in Britain…

Rant over.

Quote of the Day

"Apparently Baz Luhrmann suddenly said, 'this is crazy, we haven't got the iconic sound of Rolf Harris's wobble board on the music, we must be mad'.

Apparently Rolf has recorded a wobble board track for Baz Luhrmann's new film 'Australia'.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain"

William Faulkner

Can I choose nothing please?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Samhain!

Samhain blessings to everyone (and a happy new year...).
Apologies, I had fully intended to do a nice little post similar to the one about Autumn Equinox, explaining a little about the Sabbat, but I've run out of time. Busy busy week at work. Hopefully I'll have time to do something next week. In the mean time, however, there is a nice little article on Samhain on the BBC Religion and Ethics website here. Enjoy.

Fittingly, also in the news today is this article on a petition. It requests that all those executed in the witch trials of the 16th and 17th century (in the UK) to be granted a royal pardon. Go sign the petition!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We really can get along

Having read this interview of Gus diZerega by Jason Pitzl-Waters on the Wild Hunt blog (a personal favourite for all things Pagan), I was so impressed that I went out to buy the book (Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue). Having not found it in the first 4 bookshops I tried, I eventually tracked down a copy in Borders on Oxford Street.

From the interview, Gus diZerega said this on the validity of different religions:

“Spirituality puts everything we experience not only into a bigger context, it is a context characterized by meaning, compassion, beauty, and love. Such has been my experience anyway. So the self ceases to be the centre of our universe once we begin to grasp this larger context.

Paganism does the same for religion by demonstrating one can be genuinely and deeply religious without saying my or any other path is best, and that every religion as we practice it illuminates only a portion of the whole divine picture. We free ourselves from equating genuine spirituality with a particular path or expression of the sacred. Instead, it is a quality of engagement found within many paths.

Think of your family. You are likely very devoted to your family without thereby thinking all other families are inferior. They are simply not your family. Same with religion. Now think back how grim the world was when people honoured and trusted only their families. Where such attitudes survive, as in Southern Italy, they contribute to suspicion, violence, and oppression.

Religions are different recognitions and celebrations of humankind’s encounter with that which is superhuman. They are perhaps the most fulfilling expressions of human creativity in this world, bringing together all of our arts, our philosophies and theologies, our hearts and our minds, all in a recognition and honouring of the sacred that underlies and manifests in our reality.”

It is definitely worth reading the full interview and I will let you know what I think of the book!
But the idea of a Pagan and Christian having so much in common (although not suprising) is nice to see in print!

Quote of the Day

"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
Death thought about it.
"Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

Terry Pratchett - Sourcery


Numbers are my version of hell on earth. If there actually were a hell of course, but as I don’t believe in the devil then I don’t believe in hell. But you get my point. I hate numbers. They make my brain ache and my eyeballs shiver. My hair starts to frizz like an electrocuted mad scientist’s and I lose the ability to construct coherent sentences.
Numbers. Gnnhh.

Spreadsheets full of numbers – they’re even worse. Especially when they have all kinds of functions and auto-sums and other such nightmares.

Quote of the Day

Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant "idiot".

Terry Pratchett - The Colour of Magic

I would like to be... a pelican

I would like to be a pelican. Living in St James’ Park, being fed by the tourists (despite signs imploring them not to). Having my photo taken, like a red-carpet celebrity, as I wander the footpaths causing speeding cyclists to swerve into pedestrians. With my own little island on the lake – a haven of peace and quiet away from prying eyes.

But it might be a bit cold in the snow.

I would like to be... drinking coffee

I would like to be drinking coffee. I’m falling asleep at my desk. Tired, my mind is being powered by a one-legged gerbil, hopping round a wheel. Caffeine. A quick and easy fix, but banned. Sleep tonight is more important that alertness at work.

That can’t be right.

Sleep tonight is less important than alertness at work?

Not right either. To caffeinate or not to caffeinate?

Too late. Decision made. Someone has just brought me a cup…

I would like to be...

A new theme of posts! Yes, apologies for the lack of posting recently – been a bit busy...
Anyway, this theme will be ‘things I would like to be’ and in honour of its newness I offer 2 things (to follow).

Another theme in its planning stages is ‘Places I Love’.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carefree sex kittens

I considered making this a 'Quote of the Day', but felt it deserved its own, proper post.
This is another dollop of joy from the genius who is Charlie Brooker at The Guardian.

"...anyone with more than four atoms of cranial glop in their skull already knows that adverts don't provide a realistic field guide to the genders. In adverts, women are carefree sex kittens. In reality, they're just annoying. Especially the ones who whine on and on about gender stereotypes through the strange flapping hole they use for expressing simple-minded notions which is apparently located somewhere above their chests. (The Guardian has asked me to point out that this is a joke. Which indeed it is. Although, cleverly, it's also an optical illusion, because to uptight enemies of fun, it doesn't look like a joke at all, but a heinous slur. Still, at least complaining about it will give them something to do before they all die early of joylessness, leaving the rest of us to swap off-colour gags at their spartan little gravesides.)"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Politics lite

Something to make you chuckle amidst all this seriousness of the U.S. elections. Although unfortunatley reading it at work led to me attempting to snort quietly into my mug of hot water. Unsuccessfully. My keyboard is now damp and my co-workers think I have a problem. Well, we know they're right....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

“Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

Terry Pratchett

“Remember in elementary school you were told that in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file from smallest to tallest? What is the logic in that? What, do tall people burn slower?”
Warren Hutcherson

Fearing Fire

I’m a pyromaniac. I admit it. I love things burning. Lighting matches and candles, bonfires and barbeques, incense burners and lighters. I love it. The smell of a log fire, the flickering light of candles, the crackle of incense on hot charcoal. It gives me a little thrill every time.

So I was more than delighted to be offered the chance of fire-training at work today. We had an excellent instructor who used to be a senior fireman and now specialises in fire safety and prevention in historic buildings. We watched some truly horrifying films on how quickly a blaze can spread and how apathetic people can be to a fire or a fire alarm.

And yes. We got to put out real fires. I did three – two in a ‘waste paper basket’ (water and CO2 extinguishers) and one in a pan (with a fire blanket). Hugely exciting. I want to do it again.

More important, though, was our instructor’s point that people aren’t afraid of fire any more. And the more I think about it, the more I think he’s absolutely right. Fire is our friend. We light fires in our houses every day and think nothing of it. But if your smoke detector goes off, what’s the first thing you think? Fire? Or do you think: ‘someone’s burnt the toast again’?
When the fire alarm goes off at work, how many people just sit there, assuming it’s a false alarm. I know we did when our went off last week. And we’re on the top floor of our old building with one narrow, winding staircase between us and the street.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Quote(s) of the Day

The Assassin moved quietly from roof to roof until he was well away from the excitement around the Watch House. His movements could be called cat-like, except that he did not stop to spray urine up against things.

Terry Pratchett - Night Watch

"Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos was lightning, he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'."

Rincewind discussing Twoflower from
Terry Pratchett - The Colour of Magic

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

'Miss million-to-one chance comes 9 times out of 10.'

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A missive from Liz

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:


1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').


2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'


3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.


4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.


6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.


9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.


10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).


12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.


14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).


15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.


God Save the Queen!

12 Days of Samhain

Oh dear. Its October 7th already and I haven’t posted since September! In my defence, I’ve been on a mini-tour of Britain (well, the eastern half of it anyway) and haven’t been near a computer in aaaages.

Having returned, however, I was delighted to find this, courtesy of Patti's Paganism / Wicca Blog
It may be a little early for Samhain – I swear it gets earlier every year – but its brilliant. Although for those of us who are British, I would suggest ‘two carved pumpkins’. And for one or two of us, I might even suggest ‘Charlie cat in a spooky tree’…

The 12 Days of Samhain

On the first day of Samhain my true love gave to me
a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the second day of Samhain my true love gave to me
two jack o lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the third day of Samhain my true love gave to me
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the fourth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the fifth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the sixth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the seventh day of Samhain my true love gave to me
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the eighth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
eight ghosts a-haunting,
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the ninth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
nine dead men dancing,
eight ghosts a-haunting,
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the tenth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
ten bats a-gliding,
nine dead men dancing,
eight ghosts a-haunting,
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the eleventh day of Samhain my true love gave to me
eleven spiders crawling,
ten bats a-gliding,
nine dead men dancing,
eight ghosts a-haunting,
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

On the twelfth day of Samhain my true love gave to me
twelve brooms a-flying,
eleven spiders crawling,
ten bats a-gliding,
nine dead men dancing,
eight ghosts a-haunting,
seven skulls a-grinning,
six owls a-hooting,
five pointy hats,
four séance spirits,
three crooked headstones,
two jack o'lanterns
and a black cat in a spooky tree.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

William Shakespeare - The Tempest


Conversation overheard in Hyde Park:

"Are you born again?"

No, actually. Reincarnated.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Counting Sheep

Sleep. Its so easy to take it for granted, until you don’t have it. Then all hell breaks loose. Not really – if you haven’t slept, then you wont have the energy for hell. In fact, burning to a crisp in the fires of damnation might sound like a good way to go. It would probably be more peaceful.

One person that doesn’t take sleep for granted is Lucy Kellaway, as she documents in A Point of View on the BBC website. I seem to have a frighteningly great deal in common with her. Apart from visiting Chinese doctors. I haven’t had that pleasure…

‘I went to visit a Chinese doctor. Ah yes, he said, insomnia. Very serious. He looked at my tongue and shook his head. Was I worrying about anything, he asked. I said I was worrying about not sleeping.
By way of reassurance he told me that insomnia had already made my hair dry and skin wrinkled and would in time lead to organ failure and early menopause, and would also destroy my relationships with my family and colleagues. Even my mum, I think, wouldn't have gone that far.’

The really frustrating thing is there isn’t really anything you can do about it and lying there worrying just makes things worse. I find that getting up for a while and doing something else, before going back to bed and trying again to sleep sometimes helps. But often it doesn’t.

‘Alternatively one can give up trying to use the time productively and count sheep instead. Yet this didn't work for the singer Robert Wyatt. In his song Heaps of Sheep, the animals, once counted and over the stile, refused to go further and piled up creating a vast writhing heap, causing the sleepless singer to be so traumatised he could no longer even close his eyes.’ Lucy Kellaway
Being without sleep is like torture. In fact, it is often used as such. It wears you down, leaving you more and more like a gibbering wreck. Unable to think, unable to do anything but sit, staring like a zombie, but with your mind still whirring like the exercise wheel of a gerbil high on sugar.
And heaven help anyone who tries to talk to you. Ratty (or gerbilly) doesn’t even come close. Hyper and running on adrenaline one moment, close to tears the next. You know what’s worse? ‘Missing out on sleep may cause the brain to stop producing new cells, a study has suggested.’

Well, that’s just bloody great. How very typical of my life. I can’t sleep, my brain cells are giving up and I’m going slowly mad.

Ok, ok, those of you who know me know I’ve been mad for a while. But still. Going slowly madder.

Withdrawal symptoms

So, glossing over the fact that I just tried to spell ‘withdrawal’ with a ‘c’ ('witchdrawal'? don’t ask…) I’ve just realised I haven’t watched any Time Team in aaaages. Other than about 5 minutes last weekend when I was being distracted by people talking to me, which doesn’t count.

How has this happened? Well, I know why – no access to a TV for the last, oooh, couple of months, has prevented me from watching that glorious programme.

So what can I do? Um. Not a lot. *cries*
Does anyone know if Time Team is available on DVD? Is there even a market for Time Team DVDs? Other than me, of course…

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quote(s) of the day

Cole: Why would I ever not want to talk to you?
Phoebe: I don't know, you know, just in case you thought I was a drunk or a lunatic, or a drunk lunatic.

Don't you think you're being a little paranoid?
Phoebe: With my demon ex-husband from hell?

from Charmed (Seasons/Episodes unknown...)

Autumn Equinox

It’s nearly the autumn equinox, one of the eight Sabbats (major festivals) of the Pagan calendar or ‘Wheel of the Year’. In honour of this, I thought I’d explain a little bit about the Sabbat (sometimes called Mabon).
The Autumn Equinox is one of three harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year (the other two being Lammas at the beginning of August and Samhain at the end of October). It is a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, of celebration for a (hopefully) good yield and a time of slaughtering livestock and preserving food for the winter ahead.
It is also a time for relaxing and enjoying the ‘fruits of the harvest’ (although with this year’s credit crunch, we may need to be doing more storing of fruits than enjoying…!)

The change from longer days to longer nights as dark conquers light is closely associated to the Sun God’s journey from strong (in the Summer) to aging and dying (in Autumn) until his eventual death (at Yule) before his rebirth and growth (in Spring). This is middle age transforming into old age with its declining strength.
This change is mirrored in the turning of the Earth Goddess’ year: she is changing from Mother (maternal, productive, warm and caring) to Crone (symbolising wisdom, healing and rest) before her death and rebirth as Maiden.

Autumn Equinox traditions are primarily based around the last sheaf of the harvest. This was sometimes woven into a large man or woman (a la ‘Wickerman’ but minus the human sacrifices) and burned in celebration. The ashes would be scattered on the fields to ensure next year’s fertility. In some areas, the last sheaf was stored safely through the winter and ploughed back into the field in the Spring.
Small corn dollies were sometimes made from the last sheaf and kept in houses during the winter as a protection from evil spirits.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Groom me...

Its official – stroking causes humans to feel pleasure
And hugs, of course.

So will I be taking it too far if I purr?

End of the world/weekend

Why, oh, why do Monday mornings have to happen? Can we not just skip straight to Monday afternoon? Or how about Tuesday? Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if we went to bed on Sunday night, dreading Monday morning and instead woke up and it was magically Tuesday…

There’s something about that moment of dread as you drift off to sleep: ‘No, no, damn it! Must…. not… sleep… must… postpone… Monday…’ There’s that little knot in your stomach, that utter misery of the weekend being over. Even if your weekend hasn’t even been that great (and for the record, my weekend has been pretty close to perfect) you still don’t want it to end. And it has nothing to do with your enjoyment of work/school/uni/retirement/other existence.

I think I know why. It’s about control. Well, it is for me anyway. I love having the flexibility of suddenly deciding to read my book for half an hour. Or go shopping. Or stay in bed. Or have a drink. I don’t like being told what to do. Yes, I’m a typical woman. Stubborn as hell, and for no good reason.

So what I really dread about the week (other than not being able to be in a small village in Hampshire) is not being able to do what I want, when I want. I’d happily work into the evening, take 30 minutes to wander around Hyde Park, 5 minutes to do the washing up etc etc. And you know what? I’d probably get more work done…

Or perhaps not. Perhaps what I really want is a 6 day week – 4 days working, 2 days off. Much better.

Quote of the Day

Britain’s most famous fertility symbol is having an epic makeover. Volunteers are to re-chalk the 180ft Cerne Abbas giant. Warden Rob Rhodes, of the National Trust, which owns the site, said: ‘He is hard to pick out.’

from The Daily Mail
Am I very childish that I find this funny?!

Friday, September 12, 2008


So I’m planning on starting a new semi-regular topic called ‘Conversations Overheard on The Street’ or COTS. Or possibly COOTS, I’m not sure yet.
It amazing what you overhear as you wend your merry way along streets, roads, paths and bridleways. Some of them can stop you in your tracks by their sheer stupidity, some because they sound so interesting you wonder if it would be considered strange to strike up a conversation with the utterrer…
This will be a fairly rarely updated topic, due to my habit of wandering around with headphones stuck in my ears. But occasionally I go out ipod-free, and sometimes I hear things….

‘I’m so fed up with all these good-looking guys with less personality than a hamster. I’m switching to interesting guys - I don’t care if they’re ugly.’

And today's award for least-shallow person in London goes to…..

Quote(s) of the day

A definite Pratchett theme today:

This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?" When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, "We're going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts..."
Terry Pratchett – Hogfather

It is said that whosoever the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. In fact, whosoever the gods wish to destroy, they first hand the equivalent of a stick with a fizzing fuse and Acme Dynamite Company written on the side. It's more interesting, and doesn't take so long.
Terry Pratchett – Soul Music

One of the universal rules of happiness is: always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.
Terry Pratchett – Jingo

A Pagan in hell

For Richard...

A Pagan dies and, to his great surprise, he finds himself standing before some pearly gates. The Pagan asks, "Where am I?"
Peter says, "You're at the gates of heaven."
The Pagan says, "But I don't believe in heaven."
Peter frowns at him. "You're one of those Pagans, aren't you?"
"Yes. I believe I'm in the wrong place; I'm supposed to go to Summerland."
Peter looks a bit shifty and says, "Sorry. We, uh, took over Summerland, and it's temporarily closed for remodelling."
"What should I do now?"
Peter says, "Well, since we don't allow Pagans in heaven, you have to go to hell. Sorry. Just follow that path that leads downward and to the left."

The Pagan walks down to hell, where the gates are standing open. He walks in and finds beautiful meadows, happy animals, and clear streams of water. He walks on in and begins exploring, and after a few minutes a courtly gentleman walks up to him and bows politely.
"Hello, I'm Satan. You must be the guy that St. Peter phoned me about. Are you a Pagan?"
"Yes, I am. What's going to happen now?"
Satan says, "Well, the fishing's pretty good, if you enjoy that sort of thing. There's a little refreshment stand down the road. And I believe the Pagan meeting grounds are right over the next hill." The Pagan starts to relax, thinking things might have worked out ok.

Suddenly, a hole opens up in the sky above, and a yawning chasm opens directly underneath it. The stench of sulphur fills the air. Hundreds of screaming, tortured souls drop down into the flaming pit, which immediately closes up with a thud.
The Pagan nearly has a heart attack, and hardly believing what he just saw, thinking he’s just found the catch in the deal, asks Satan, "And what was THAT ???"

Satan rolls his eyes. "Oh, just ignore them. They're Christians; they wouldn't have it any other way."

Death. Part 1

Continuing my recent ramble on life, here is death. Not literally of course (well, I hope not) but certainly a ramble on and around the topic death. Suitably cheerful for a Friday afternoon, I feel.
Now, I can’t promise this wont turn into a rant. Rants seem to creep up on me unannounced when I’m blogging. Nor can I promise this wont end up completely off-topic. But so what? It’s my blog, so, nye-nye-nye-nye-nye.

What is death then? Is it really the end? Do we just disappear from the planet, leaving our bodies to rot in a hole? Having recently re-watched the episodes of Torchwood season 2 dealing with Owen’s ‘death’ (Dead Man Walking and A Day in the Death – sorry if you haven’t seen them yet…), the idea of there just being nothing but darkness is quite a disturbing thought.

But is death terrifying because we fear the unknown? Have we created various myths of an afterlife to stave of those moments in the middle of the night when you sit there, pondering your existence and wondering if it’s ever going to get any better?

Or is it a very Pratchett-esque situation, that whatever we believe happens comes true for us? In which case, I’m going to be resting in the Summerland for a while before reincarnating (hopefully not as a frog this time – that’s another story). In short: Paaaartaaaay! Care to join me, anyone?!

I’d like to think there is something after this life, and not just because the thought helps me to sleep. I just like the idea if there being something more to it than ‘wake up, get up, eat, work, eat, work, socialise, have a bath, eat, drink some wine, go to bed, try to sleep’. Because if there is nothing beyond that, no afterlife, no heaven, no souls or spirits going on to a better place, then what does that say about gods and goddesses? It seems to me that you can’t really have one without the other. You can’t have a spiritual entity if you have no spirit. If you have a spirit, what happens to it? Does it just dissipate at death? And if it does, then what’s the point in having one?

So, I believe in an afterlife. In fact I believe in several. I honestly believe that in the same way that we have different gods (see ‘What makes you more right than me?'), we have different afterlives and it’s up to us where we go. So, I might see you there, or I might be in the heaven next door. Bang on the wall if we get too raucous…

What makes you more right than me?

It’s a question I’ve often been asked. Most frequently when ‘passive leafleting’ for my university Pagan Society. ‘Do you honestly believe you’re right?’
Well, duh? Yes, I honestly believe that paganism is right. Some of my friends may not realise how strongly, how passionately I believe that, mainly because I tend to keep it to myself. I’m a quiet religious-nut (and no, that’s not a contradiction in terms).
But the difference between me believing I’m right and, say, a stereotypical, fundamentalist Christian or Muslim believing that they are right, is that I don’t believe that I’m exclusively right.
Yes. That’s what I said. We can ALL be right.

How can I think this? Surprisingly easily… It helps that, as a Pagan, the idea of multiple deities is not a problem. But it also links to what deities are and what they do.
In my opinion, there is a celestial force. Something greater, wiser and more powerful than us (note that I’m not saying all-powerful, all-knowing etc – who says the gods are infallible?). We don’t know what it is. A pagan creation-myth I particularly like just calls it ‘TheOne’. I don’t know if it’s male, or female, or either. It just is.
And all deities are parts, or avatars, of TheOne.

Why do we have different religions then? Well, we have different music, we have different styles of art. We all see colour slightly differently. If we can approach these rather mundane things from completely different perspectives, why not religion? Why can’t one person feel more drawn to one belief without it being ‘better’ or ‘right’? It just feels better or more right for them. And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. It would also mean that all religions are a valid path to The One, as a part of the whole. All religions are incomplete, imperfect ways of understanding something that is so much bigger and greater than us – something that we can never even hope to understand, let alone really conceive of completely.

But if we accept that no human can ever fully understand that powerful thing, then who has the right, who can honestly look inside themselves and say that their way is the ONLY right way?

And if you can…. Good for you. Just don’t try and persuade me.

Landlocked Americans

To the particular person whose family does not come from coastal America, I apologise – you are, in fact, loved.
You don’t fall into the stereotypical ‘redneck’ category. Or the stereotypical ‘non-coastal’ group. Why? Because you have travelled widely, lived and studied away from the US, and you’re an engineer. :P

Besides, you’re half-British anyway.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fried cupcakes anyone?

I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea. I'm not anti-American. I have some American friends who I love dearly. Some of them are my age, some my parents' age. Admittedly, all of them have one thing in common - they come from 'coastal' America and they've travelled the world.
The problem I have is with the stereotypical 'redneck', and having read this article, my fears seem to have been completely justified. The author, Joe Bageant, seems particularly proud of his redneck tradition/heritage/outlook.
In particular the influences on the American ethos:

  • Belief that no law is above God's law, not even the US Constitution.
  • Hyper patriotism. A fighting defence of native land, home and heart, even when it is not actually threatened: ie, Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Haiti and dozens more with righteous operations titles such as Enduring Freedom, Restore Hope, and Just Cause.
  • A love of guns and tremendous respect for the warrior ideal. Along with this comes a strong sense of fealty and loyalty.
  • Fealty to wartime leaders, whether it be FDR or George Bush.
  • Self effacement, humility. We are usually the butt of our own jokes, in an effort not to appear aloof among one another.
  • Belief that most things outside our own community and nation are inferior and threatening, that the world is jealous of the American lifestyle.
  • Personal pride in equality. No man, however rich or powerful, is better than me.
  • Perseverance and belief in hard work. If a man or a family is poor, it is because they did not work hard enough. God rewards those who work hard enough. So does the American system.
  • The only free country in the world is the United States, and the only reason we ever go to war is to protect that freedom.

All this has become so deeply instilled as to now be reflexive. It represents many of the worst traits in American culture and a few of the best.
And that has every thinking person here in the US, except perhaps John McCain and Sarah Palin, worried.
Very worried.

BBC 'Today' website

Yes. I'm worried. Shouldn't we all be?
EDIT: I would like to point out that self effacement, humility, personal pride in equality and perseverance and belief in hard work are very noble attributes and to be applauded. The rest of them, however...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Quote of the Day

Love to me can be hard, it can torment you and it can be the best thing in the world as well.
You can not take love for granted and you have to work at it like anything else. It is precious and not everyone finds it so when you have got it, enjoy it.

To drill or not to drill?

Well, Mrs Palin has come out with a great one:

Mrs Palin - who supports drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - said that while drilling "will not solve all of America's energy problems", that is "no excuse to do nothing at all".

BBC website

Oh yes, I like that logic. It wont solve the problem, but lets throw lots of money at it and do it anyway. Surely the words 'National Wildlife Refuge' should mean something?

A little exploration/Googling comes up with the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) who have a great article on the issue, ending with:

The solution to America's energy problems will be found in American ingenuity, not more oil. Only by reducing our reliance on oil -- foreign and domestic -- and investing in cleaner, renewable forms of power will our country achieve true energy security. The good news is that we already have many of the tools we need to accomplish this. For example, Detroit has the technology right now to produce high-performance hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs. If America made the transition to these more efficient vehicles, far more oil would be saved than the Arctic Refuge is likely to produce. Doesn't that make far more sense than selling out our natural heritage and exploiting one of our true wilderness gems?

NRDC website

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Life, elephants and an A+ in creativity

The whole ‘abstinence programme’ thing has got me thinking about life. To the extent that it preevented me sleeping last night. Which in turn has made me irritable and grumpy. But that’s a whole other topic.
Anyway. Life. What is it? When does it start? What makes it special? What happens when it’s over? As you can imagine, hardly contemplations conducive to sleep.
I would like to make it clear right now that the following musings were born of insomnia and hardly scientifically based, nor are they fair and balanced, or even logical. Just thoughts, with the occasional ill-considered opinion thrown in for fun. I probably won’t tackle all of this all at once, but you never know. I might have a slow day at work!
Now, with that out of the way….

Conception or birth or somewhere in-between?
I once met someone with the most bizarre view on when life begins. Her view was that life has begun either when you realise you’re pregnant, or when/if you decide to get pregnant. Which could theoretically mean that life has begun even before you’ve had sex. Because the intention is there. Odd, but in a funny kind of way, I can see where she was coming from. It links into the idea of control by intention (or magic by intention and purpose). But does that mean that because I want to have children in 4 or 5 years time, then their lives have already started? A terrifying thought…
Personally, and I guess this is a bit of a cop-out, I think life begins at conception. However, for purposes of termination, I think that ‘sanctity of life’ begins when the baby/foetus/whatever it is could survive (relatively unaided). It‘s a tricky one for me as, having been adopted, I can think of very few situations when I’d advocate not carrying a baby to term (and then giving it up for adoption if necessary).

Accident or design?
What is life? Is it just the result of millennia of evolution? Are we plankton swimming in a universe of tepid water? Or is there someone/thing/things out there shrieking ‘woohoo! Look at what I did!’ And possibly a larger entity looking on approvingly saying ‘who’s mummy’s clever creator-god?’ Or ‘A+ in originality. Shame about the quality of the work though.’
But seriously. Is life for us simply ‘pink, supple and breathing’? Or is there something inside us that causes us to exist, to be aware, to act and react. Do we have a little spark inside, a little glow, a tiny bit of something that isn’t flesh, that doesn’t wobble when poked, or break when hit. Is there something more to life that respiration, reproduction, and other long words beginning with ‘r’ (any suggestions?!).

Which brings us nicely to what makes us special. (Yes. Slow day at work).
Personally I don’t think we’re anything special. Yes we build, we communicate, we use tools, we go to war, we’re technologically advanced (air conditioning for tanks? That’s just for starters…), we appreciate art and can create music, we conserve our history, we have a concept of time and space, we have religion and politics. And so what? Many of those things exist in nature (ie not human). Think chimpanzees, ants, bees, ravens, dolphins, birds, hummingbirds, orca whales, elephant graveyards, prides of lions…. Given that nature seems to achieve all that (with the possible exceptions of religion and deliberate art, but hey, who needs those?) without destroying half the environment in the process, are we really to be admired for those achievements?
If we aren’t special, then we have no right to ‘dominion over earth’. As ‘guardians’ of the planet, we’re doing a pretty crap job. It’s easier to jump in the car than take the bus and in reality, compared with the long distance flights people don’t hesitate to go on, what difference will a 20 minute bus ride make? Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth doesn’t change the gallons of water lost each day from leaky pipes. Turning off the lights (which I’m becoming quite obsessive about) saves nothing when compared with the office computers left on standby all night (and only wastes electricity if they’re energy saving lightbulbs. I know….)
Ok, how has this suddenly become an environmental rant? Ahem.
Anyway, I think what I’m trying to say is that we have an over-aggrandised opinion of ourselves. And we shouldn’t because we don’t deserve it.
But given that some of us in the world are aware of this, perhaps that is what makes us special. The ability to think beyond ourselves, not in terms of ‘preserve our young/pack/colony/hive’ but thinking beyond the good of the species, to the good of the future, maybe the fact that we can, and do, do this, we go some way to recovering our moral integrity.
And of course it’s always possible that the gods prefer us. After all, what’s not to love…?

Death to follow ;)

Kitty preview

One, two, three, aaaaaawwwwwww........ Just adorable!
And one of these lovely kitties will be coming home to Dorset with us on Friday.

I'm just too excited! :D

Quote of the Day

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who dont believe in magic will never find it.
Roald Dahl The Minpins

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ill-advised comments or 'No still means No'

Another rant. Dame Helen Mirren has suggested that not all rapes can and should be reported to the police or rapists taken to court. What kind of support does this give to women (and men) who have been victims of rape? I’m very disappointed that such a well-thought-of celebrity considers such public statements to be appropriate.

Blind faith?

Is it just me or is the policy of ‘abstinence programmes’ rather than safe-sex education misguided, blinkered, narrow -minded and downright stupid?

‘in 2005, presidential candidate John McCain, who picked Mrs Palin as his running mate, opposed a Senate Democratic proposal that would have spent tens of millions of dollars to pay for pregnancy prevention programmes other than abstinence-only education, including education on emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill, AP reports.’

BBC website

To me, this is a basic failing of adults and people in power to put the wellbeing of the young ahead of petty political and religious agendas. It shows a blind faith in outdated, unrealistic views (that hormone-charged, young people will happily wait until they’re married if you tell them that God will love them more) which are completely out of place in the modern world.

In short – grrrr.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Anticipation of excitement

Well it’s almost the bank holiday weekend (hooray) and I’m sitting in a very quiet office, listening to strange musical sounds from St James’s Park. And I’m really excited about the weekend. Because yes, it’s the annual BBQ party – known by some, dreaded by many… Wait, is that the right way round?
The costumes have been made, the shopping lists have been written, the sleeping arrangements have been planned and the parents have been shipped out for supper.
The only teeny tiny problem is the male/female ratio. Why do I seem to have so many male friends? Alternatively, why are so few of the female friends free? Could be worse I guess. The gazbo could be about to collapse, the forecast could be for rain and the grockles could be about to strip the supermarkets like locusts before I get a chance to get near them. Hang on a moment…. Damn.

It'll be fine. It will all be fine. *remembers to breathe*

Monday, August 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

There is a place you can touch a woman that will drive her crazy. Her heart.

Melanie Griffith

New Starts

New starts and new leaves turned and all that newness. My life has suddenly become terribly exciting, starting with a new job in London, a new kitten heading to Dorset and new wonderfulness... You know who you are ;D

So what to do with all this unexpected happy? Its not what I'm used to! First thing was to paint my toenails black - suitably balancing the happy with at least some token un-happy. Its all about the balance. But now, still lots of happy! *remembers to breathe*

Anyway, I am now planning to think about happiness and spread it around a bit. Or I might be totally selfish and keep it all to myself. *cackles*

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Opinions on blogging

Great article by Shalom Auslander in yesterday's G2 on blogging and why people feel compelled to do it. Besides his (very true) rant, he is also comes up with the following highly amusing 'discussion' about American politicians:

One of the most personally distressing developments of the current American presidential campaign has been the near-daily use of the phrase "throw under the bus". Barack Obama was accused of throwing his pastor under the bus. John McCain was accused of throwing his economics advisor under the bus. Hillary Clinton was accused of throwing Al Gore under the bus. As someone who spends a large portion of his day graphically imagining throwing people under buses - the surprised look on their faces, the squeal of the bus brakes, the scream of a passerby - I truly wish this would stop. Imagining throwing people under buses is one of the only ways I get through the day without actually throwing people under buses.

The violent homeless man who shouts obscenities at me? Shove. The arrogant CEO on his cellphone walking along as if the sidewalk belonged to him?

Shove. Mom? shove. I know I shouldn't let these people bother me, and that I'd be a happier person if I didn't, but over time, I've accepted that I'm angry. I've accepted that I'm somewhat negative. I've accepted that I have a propensity for imagined ultra-violence. But now I just feel like ... a politician.

A warning to us all....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

[Inara cannot find work because Mal is avoiding central planets]
Inara: Right, you're a criminal mastermind! What was the last cargo we snuck past the Alliance to transport?
Mal: That was a little dif—
Inara: What was the cargo?
Mal: [pauses, embarrassed] They were dolls.
Inara: They were little geisha dolls with big heads that wobbled!
Mal: Hey! People love those!
Inara: Well, since I can't seem to find work as Companion, I might as well become a petty thief like you!
[An uncomfortable silence descends for a moment.]
Mal: Petty?
Inara: I didn't mean petty.
Mal: What did you mean?
Inara: Suo-SHEE?
Mal: ...That's Chinese for "petty".

From Firefly: Trashed

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

House: Depression manifests in lots of different ways. Some people can't get out of bed all day. Others have serial relationships and become oncologists.
From House Season Three: Resignation
Dr. Wilson: (being questioned by House about taking anti-depressants) It's personal.
House: How long's it been personal?
Dr. Wilson: It's personal.
House: The yawning's recent so either you just started or you changed prescription.
Dr. Wilson: This is why I take them.
House: They're anti-depressants, not "anti-annoyance-ants."
From House Season Three: Resignation

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

False teeth, unconsummated marriages and hugs

This is an article that I read when it was published in the Observer Magazine. I cut it out and kept it, because she comes across as the most amazing woman.

"Life might be about nothing, but it might be about something. ... Love is the key - it's the only thing that matters."

When I grow up, I want to be Rose Hacker.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Will life ever be the same again?

He's top of our 'shouldn't but would' list, he's a bug-lover (which is forgivable) and generally a great guy. And he's leaving...

How will we survive?!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bush's departure to be commemorated

Apparently some patriotic US citizens have decided that its important to commemorate President Bush's imminent departure from office. How? By naming a sewage plant after him...

"In President Bush's case, we think that we will be cleaning up a substantial mess for the next 10 or 20 years," said Mr McConnell.
"The sewage treatment facility's job is to clean up a mess, so we think it's a fitting tribute."

Genius. Why didn't we do this for Blair?

Monday, July 07, 2008

'No' always means 'no'

Abuse done in the name of religion is still abuse. No still means no, even if your abuser thinks a demon said it, and separation of Church and State doesn't mean religion is above the law or judgment. No religious faith should be a law unto itself... From 'A Troubling Legal Precedent in Texas' - The Wild Hunt

A brilliant article from The Wild Hunt... definately worth a read.

Half the world's Christians can't be wrong?

The 'Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans' apparently represents half of the world's 77 million Christians. While I'm very open to other faiths and respect their views, it does rather concern me that this new organisation is so fundamentalist.

With their (admitted) conservative views on women priests, their homophobia and desire to proselytise, are we seeing the 'new Christianity'? And if we are, should we be worried?
Could a possible schism lead to further tensions between Christians and other 'world faiths', notably Islam?

And what would it mean for smaller religions? Will we be subjected to even more evangelists stopping us in the streets (one of my pet hates)?

*Some useful information from the BBC website on the debate about women bishops.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pigs might

Fly? Pigs? Why not? Why haven't pigs evolved with wings?

In fact, why don't more creatures have wings? And why does being a mammal with arms and legs seem to preclude us from flight? The world would be a better, perhaps even a happier, place if more creature could fly.

Imagine it. Sheep somersaulting through the air (think Monty Python). Zebras able to reach top branches of trees. Pigs floating gently through the sky. Cows dive-bombing innocent ramblers...

Next time the universe is re-set, I hope the gods will give this some consideration.

On the nature of beds and duvets

Why is it that at 1am, my bed is uncomfortable, my duvet too hot and my pillow not squishy enough, when at 6.35am (2 seconds after my alarm has rung) the aforementioned bed is heavenly, the duvet cosy and the pillow snuggly?

Is it a cruel joke by the gods? Or is it something inherent in the bed/duvet/pillow that actively prevents comfort and sleep, and then evily tempts you to stay in bed when you really really need to get up...

Bring on the weekend lie-ins.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What is Paganism?

Something I wrote a few years ago. I'm sure some people would disagree with it, but most pagans I've spoken to don't!

So what is Paganism?
The word pagan comes from the word for villager or person from the country. These villagers were traditionally closer to nature and still maintained the old religions long after Christianity became popular with the elite and rulers in the cities.
Today, pagan or paganism is used to loosely group together many different paths of 'alternative' religions. Often these religions are linked to beliefs older than Christianity – such as the modern worship of Egyptian and Roman pantheons. Many of these religions are closely connected or concerned with nature and the Earth, or with natural cycles and seasons. As there are such a variety of traditions linked with Paganism, it is difficult to describe or explain exactly what being a pagan means, as each tradition is extremely different. Hopefully, however, the information given below will help dispel many modern misconceptions and stereotypes of Paganism.

What many Pagans believe:
A Close Relationship between the Individual and his/her Gods - In most pagan traditions, the individual is the priest or priestess, coming to know their gods personally, rather than via someone else. Most pagans have no intermediary priesthood or tradition, each person has access to the deities through ways such as meditation, prayer and ritual.

Pantheons of Deities - Different gods do different jobs. Or alternatively, different aspects of one god and one goddess are responsible for different parts of our life. For example, the Celtic goddess Brigit can be worshiped as a goddess of protection and healing.

Reverence of Nature - Pagans hold the world around us as sacred. In it we can find the gods, and with it we can reach greater understanding of creation. Many pagans are 'green', or environmentally friendly. Some pagans feel very connected to nature, becoming expert in the recognition of wild flowers and herbs, and their uses. Pagans are usually very aware of the rhythms of the earth: tides, phases of the moon, and the cycles of the year.

A few stereotypes that just aren't true!
Old hags flying around on broomsticks - A broom, if used at all, is used for sweeping, symbolically cleansing an area, and some pagans are quite young!

Satanists - Pagans do not worship satan, and usually do not have a concept of evil. Actions are right and wrong, and there is sometimes a karmic/threefold law or equivalent that whatever you do comes back to you three times over. Satan is a Christian concept, but the notion of satanic worship by pagans or witches probably stems from the pagan god figure, often portrayed as a man with the legs of an animal, representing his closeness to beasts; the body of a man, showing his closeness to man; and the antlers of a stag, representing kingship.

Murderers who perform human sacrifices - Although we cannot know how the pagan traditions were celebrated hundreds of years ago, modern paganism has no place for human or animal sacrifice. Any 'sacrificial act' in worship or ritual will be symbolic – something given up to demonstrate reverence or worship. For example, it is tradition in some parts of England for pagans to cast wine and bread into the sea as a libation or homage to the goddess.

Cultists - As each person is their own priest/priestess, it is not necessary for a pagan to ever join with others in order to worship. We have no central authority making decisions for us, and although some pagans may choose to work in groups or covens, they are usually free and open.

Crazy - We may seem strange or different, but we are not crazy! Many pagans choose never to tell their friends and family of their beliefs. No one usually guesses.

Anti-Christian - Most pagans accept all religions as a valid way of approaching the creative power that we cannot even begin to understand. Few pagans attempt to convert people as the view is that people will find their path in life in their own time, whatever religion that path includes: Paganism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Islam.

Why 'nemeton'?

What is a nemeton? In pre-Roman and Roman Britain (and Gaul for that matter) a nemeton was a sacred grove where rituals were performed.

Ooooh. Fancy that.

Well, I'm pagan and my degree was in archaeology, so I wanted a suitably pagan (and yet suitably obscure) and archaeological name for my blog. Rather than something overt like 'pagans-r-us' or 'getchorewitchesere'.

Got it? Good. Onwards and upwards.

First Post!

My first post on this, my beautiful blog...

First of all - why the blog. Well, everyone else is doing it, right? And who am I to not follow such an exciting and entertaining trend...

Secondly - I have no life. Seriously, I'm a hermit. And so instead of continuing my hermit lifestyle, I feel the need to spread the love. Although I'm sure I won't have anything much interesting to talk about.

Thirdly - I'm fulfilling my deep need to witter on about anything and everything in an insufferable-know-it-all kind of way. No apologies. Its a blog, what did you expect?!

Fourthly - oh never mind, it isn't interesting anyway.