...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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February 15, 2007 || 8:41 pm
In the kitchen

Some of you might remember my sadly neglected food blog, which was initially titled 'Kitchen Fascist', a label that the boy had given me for my bossiness in the kitchen and insistence on very particular ways of doing things. So I read this and found a new label for myself - "alpha cook". Read and laugh, or weep, depending. I'm just glad I buck the trend in that article by being a female alpha, not a male one.

I'm off on holiday for a week. See y'all.

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February 13, 2007 || 12:57 pm
Joining the herd

OK. I resisted it for a really long time. But now I've given in to myspace and can be found, currently looking like Billy No-Mates, here. I really hate having something owned by Murdoch owning stuff about me, but in pursuit of my alternative career path as a hillbillly fiddle player (someone, make me a star, please!) I've gone and done it. Please can you add me to your friends, though, so I don't look so sad and lonely...

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February 12, 2007 || 10:51 pm
Amish-built modular homes

Sadly they are neither eighteenth-century in style, nor zippy modernist masterpieces, but nonetheless, I thought this article on how an Amish family makes ranch-style modular homes without using electricity, computers, phones or even billing customers until the house is done, was quite amazing.

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February 07, 2007 || 2:40 pm
London Pedestrian Map

Via diamond geezer, I found this current Space Sytax project for a London pedestrian route map. AS DG says, London isn't always that hard to navigate on foot, and the Underground map means plenty of non-Londoners have a warped sense of geography and proximity, so at first sight this seems like a great idea. When I look at it, however, it struck me that this really isn't the answer. Well, an answer maybe - but what Space Syntax have produced - through an entirely logical methodology - is essentially just a very simplified version of a street map with only the main roads marked. There is the addition of some park paths and the riverside walkways, but apart from that, it implies that the easiest walking route from Marble Arch to Holborn is along Oxford Street, and so on.

These routes are indeed the most direct, and currently most people do walk along main roads, but that doesn't always make these the best routes. For a start, they aren't quicker, because they are so crowded, and if you are elderly, disabled, or with a pushchair, they are virtually unnavigable. You would be better to duck up and along Wigmore Street than go along Oxford St, for example. Secondly, the air pollution of all those cars isn't great, either. Thirdly, by only highlighting what are essentially the very simplest routes around town, the map isn't showing what you really want to know on foot - how to go diagonally from, say, Kings Cross to the British Museum. Sticking to the main roads is not the most time-efficient route for this. Space Syntax are right when they say that "people tend to choose simpler, more accessible routes"; but this only increases pedestrian congenstion along these routes. Couldn't we - like the cycle route maps - map the easy back routes (that, like Wigmore Street, are often almost as simple as the main roads), the pedestrian-only footpaths, the fume-free alternatives?

I love walking around London and go everywhere by foot if it is within a half-hour walk (and frequently, further.) During this I have found back-routes, short-cuts, alleys that do actually lead somewhere useful, flights of steps and useful tunnels. Like many similar striders, I walk fast and almost obsessively try to trace the shortest possible route from A to B. I would love to have a map that is maybe simpler than some of my tortuous routes but also allows people to find that neat route from, say, Liverpool Street to Farringdon via the Barbican and Charterhouse Square, Bloomsbury to Angel via Lloyd Baker St and the postmen's pub, or how, as in DG's example to get from Covent Garden to Temple. Well, I will have to wait until I make as much money as SS to have time for that project.

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February 03, 2007 || 4:31 pm
VAT rage

For my sins, I have had to register myself for VAT as a self-employed person. All very well, except that it takes a hugely long time for the registration to process. Finally, yesterday I got it through and with it, a CD called 'Getting started in VAT for small businesses'. Great, I thought, that'll be really useful for me as I don't really know much about VAT accounting. So I put it into my laptop, and what do I find?

Our great government buereaucracy seems to have forgotten that some people use Macs. The damn thing just has a Windows-compatible .exe file. I can't really believe it: I live in a functioning democracy which discriminates against Mac users, and the people at HM Customs and Excise are smart enough to figure out all sorts of difficult math problems, yet hire ICT marketing guys who don't know about Macs. I pity all small businesses who work in design, media, music. Back to the unintelligible online guides it is; don't blame me if I get my accounting wrong.

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