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This Year's Books [Dec. 31st, 2008|11:59 pm]
beyond square
(to be amended as required)

American Gods - Neil Gaiman (R)
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
My Family And Other Animals - Gerald Durrell (R)
Mr Phillips - John Lanchester (R)
The Cleft - Doris Lessing
In A Good Light - Clare Chambers (R)
The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella
Playing With The Grown-ups - Sophie Dahl
How To Survive In The Kitchen - Katherine Whitehorn (R)
Devil's Cub - Georgette Heyer (R)
The Adultery Club - Tess Stimson
Forever Rose - Hilary McKay
Q's Legacy - Helene Hanff (R)
The Editor's Wife - Clare Chambers
The Kite Rider - Geraldine McCaughrean
Travels In The Scriptorium - Paul Auster
At Large And At Small - Anne Fadiman
The Fox In The Cupboard - Jane Shilling (R)
One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson

as well as some or part of

Literary Distractions - Knox
Essays and Essayists - Newbolt
The Mystery Of Marriage - Mason
Seeking God
With Open Hands - Nouwen
The Five Love Languages
Creating Poetry
A Quark For Mr Mark
Marrying The Ugly Millionaire
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Another brilliant idea [Apr. 1st, 2008|09:16 am]
beyond square
Adding to its evolving list of useful applications Google now has a tune-search facility to identify elusive phrases of music.

Go to www.google.com/music and hum or sing what you remember of the melody (you'll need your microphone switched on).
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Find me another synonym for bland/dull/straightforward! [Feb. 25th, 2008|10:59 pm]
beyond square
(mainly for obandsoller)

"Real vanilla is heady, sensuous and jungle-sexy with a can't-quite-get-enough intensity that leaves the eater mildly unhinged with desire. It's too good, too dangerously thrilling, to be left to the kids. Wickedly dark and juicy, it lays down its spicy aroma of smoky-dates-with-a-hint-of-musk, adding lingering depth, breadth and warmth wherever it is strewn. And the telltale presence of those tiny black seeds gives a wicked visual tease of anticipation."

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, "Pod's Law" from Saturday's Guardian.
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beyond money [Jun. 3rd, 2007|06:59 pm]
beyond square
the_alchemist wrote a long and interesting post on charity, with further thought-provoking discussion in the comments. I've been mulling it over in odd moments since reading it; there are points raised by several people to which I would like to respond, but am not yet sure how to put my thoughts into words.

There did seem to be a general view that charity = making a monetary donation. That may well be because the main topic of the post was about giving your money where it could do the most good. But I also think it reflects a view which is widely held in society today - that by making a donation to a particular organisation (or organisations) you have done your bit.*

Of course giving money is important, especially if you have planned & researched it so that you feel it is being used in the most effective way possible. If this is seen as the *only* way to support charities or to fulfil your charitable obligations, though, two problems arise.

Firstly, there are those who may not be able to contribute a large amount of money. If you are not working, or have a low income, a tenth of your income may not be possible or may seem like an unfeasibly small amount. To say that charity is about money is to disenfranchise those who have time or skills or both to offer, and belittle their contribution.

More importantly, charity is about love; not an emotional love but a no-nonsense, practical regard for other human beings that asks "How can I help bear this other person's burden?" - not some mass of humanity elsewhere but those individuals - part of our community, wherever they may be in the world - who need our help. To send off a cheque each month to an organisation that works in a distant country and do nothing beyond that allows you to keep others and their needs at arms' length.**

People's problems can be messy, difficult, and time-consuming. Charity is about doing what we can to help them, in *all* the communities in which we live - work, neighbourhood, town, country and globally. This may involve time, chores, stopping to chat when we'd rather get home - but to reduce it to money alone denies a huge and important part.

*Please note that I am not saying that *everyone* thinks this.
**Or this.

(lightly edited to add links 14/06)
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Intermission [Aug. 22nd, 2006|11:26 am]
beyond square
When someone dies, normal conventions, up to and including time, are suspended; work fades into the background, we eat because we know we have to when someone puts food on the table, sleep at night is elusive yet we fall asleep randomly at other times. I'm not at home. Internet access is erratic. Normal communication has been replaced by ringing all the people who need to know and talking to well-meaning strangers.

In all of this, it's easy to believe that this isn't really happening, however many times you tell others what has happened. And then you start sorting out the house, all those odd bits of junk that we accumulate thinking that we'll sort them out someday, and the reality begins to sink in: they aren't coming back, not now, not ever.
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Literary dilemma [Aug. 7th, 2006|11:05 am]
beyond square
If you're making a list of your favourite books, is it odd/inconsistent not to include anything by someone you'd describe as a favourite author?
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Newton's Laws of Emotion [Aug. 2nd, 2006|02:53 pm]
beyond square
Wouldn't it be great if there was some kind of law of relationships -

"for every attraction, there is an equal and opposite reattraction"

Differing degrees of affection, crushes, falling out of love with someone while they were still attached to you (or vice versa) disappearing at a stroke!
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