2. However, I am sure my chair would be nicer still if I could have it at the proper height, but this included-in-the-supplied-furniture computer table is rather low and so the (great heavy 19" CRT) monitor ends up being lower than I would like. Accordingly, I'd like to raise the monitor so I can improve the chair position. I can buy a camp little monitor stand to go on top of the computer table for £30, which is much more than I'd like to spend. What I want is a 12" x 12" x 6" block of something solid with very low density; the table sags a bit under the weight of the monitor as it is, so a big old block of polystyrene or balsa wood would spread the weight out over a bigger footprint. Where does one get a solid half ft3 of polystyrene or balsa wood (or...?), though?
3. I did enjoy a bit of eye candy while the Winter Olympics were in progress; the lechery recipient was Japanese women's curling team captain Ayumi Onodera. I can't tell whether her face is beautiful or flawed-but-interesting; her other picture (fifth down) gives a better view of the blemish beneath her right eye, which was more visible still when she was curling. She also had a really nice smile and unnaturally-wide-at-the-shoulders anime-princess hair while she was playing, which always help.
4. Can I introduce rhysara, wordplay and xorsyst to each other? You're all lovely and you're all doing the Perplex City thing. Perhaps you should get together for card-swapping purposes.
5. Amusing spammer e-mail addresses, number 462 in a series of eleventy billion: firstname.lastname@example.org . So that's how they get all the superpowers they claim to sell!
6. The full disclosure department notes that in my review of OxCon 2006, I forgot to mention that I took part in the year's annual Fifteen-to-One-derived quiz. Even allowing for the fact that we were given three questions each in round one rather than the canonical two, I was out first with a whopping 0/3; there were 17-ish players, not the titular 15, and I was standing about 8th in line. I got questions wrong about Tierra del Fuego, ancient lights and naming who said "Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses". An enjoyable, well-written quiz and I don't feel too dumb despite being first out. Dave Percik has been running the quiz for years; once he's done it ten times, he's going to hang up his question cards like William G. and, as in real life, we're going to do Deal Or No Deal instead. (...perhaps)
7. One of the questions I am most frequently asked about my long-distance relationship with dezzikitty is whether I know good ways to get cheap flights. Other than assiduous collection of frequent flyer miles, the answer is sadly not. However, I was very pleased to discover SkyScanner, a very clever database for comparing flight routes and prices. It's excellent at intra-European flights and rather less hot at transatlantic ones, alas; I particularly like the powerful options which let you be particularly flexible about which airport in a specified country you're prepared to fly from, or fly to. It has revealed a number of BMI flights between Durham Tees Valley (MME) and Heathrow (LHR) where seats are on sale from £0 plus taxes and charges; this isn't a mistake, as the taxes and charges alone come to about fifty pounds for the return flight, leading to suspicions that the charges may be profitmakers for the airline.
8. Returning to the UK, one thing I miss about the US is not encountering nearly so many people who feel that the only way they will get any respect from innocent passers-by is to make the passers-by fear them. I'm sure youthful cheekiness is universal, but the bits of the US I saw didn't have nearly so many groups insulting other groups of passers-by (typically smaller groups, but groups of equal or larger size and less agression are also known) for fun; really, my policy these days is to try not to make eye contact with anyone underage. Terms like "chav" and "underclass" are unhelpful; there are enough newspapers which seem to rely on engendering fear among their readers. Heck, companies and political parties do it too all the time. Perhaps it's just being a tourist lets you forget some of your fears for a while? Perhaps this is a benefit of driving everywhere and so having a car's radius of personal space?
9. Another thing I miss about the US is the customer service. When I went to buy some antihistamines at the local independent pharmacy the other day, I went in and up to the counter, only to watch the two attendants behind the desk (one easily old enough to know better) continue their conversation and ignore me. Indeed, the only thing that distracted them was the entrance of a short-spiky-haired youth in a bright white shell suit, his lady and his lady's pram - damn, the assistants started talking to them quickly enough. Then they deigned to pay attention to me with a curt "Are you being served?" Well, actually - no, I wasn't. Naturally, being British and meek, I put it up to them having a bad day, didn't make a scene and am merely passive-aggressively blogging about it without any intention of (a) naming the store or (b) bringing it to the manager's attention. US customer service goes to the other extreme, perhaps even to a fault, but it was a contrast of which I didn't enjoy the reminder.
10. Not everything about UK shopping is bad, though. Finishing on a cheerful note, I picked up a four-pack of Simple soap at Boots (not the local independent pharmacy) and had it scanned as I paid for it, only to learn that they were apparently on 2-for-1 and I should go and pick up another packet on my way out. Accordingly I visit the shelf to pick up another pack and there is no notice whatsoever about the BOGOFitude of Simple. Evidently this is an easter egg, or possibly a random hidden promotion for Boots cardholders. Still: unexpected free soap, hurrah!