Musing Mondays: 10th February 2014

Monday Musings

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a bookish meme created by MizB of the blog Should Be Reading. This is a weekly event which gently encourages us all to think about our interactions with books and our feelings towards them. Anyone can join in, so let’s have some fun!

What to Do:

  • Describe one of your reading habits.
  • Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
  • What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on and why?
  • Tell us what you’re reading right now, what you think of it so far, why you chose it and what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying about it.
  • Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it!
  • Leave a comment on MizB’s Musing Mondays post (here) and include a link to your post.

My Musing:

I like to read at least one chapter of my current book each night, just before I go to sleep. Sometimes I can’t stop with one chapter and end up reading far too long and going to sleep way too late.

I haven’t been able to buy many books lately, but the most recent one was Damia by Anne McCaffrey. I have read it before when I was a teenager, but started re-reading the series and Damia was the next consecutive book, number 2 in the Talent Series.

The book I am currently desperate to obtain is Lyon’s Pride by Anne McCaffrey since it is number 4 in the Talent Series, which I am part of the way through reading.

Damias Children

Damia’s Children by Anne McCaffrey

At present I am reading Damia’s Children, book number 3 in the series by Anne McCaffrey which I actually bought last Summer. I wanted to read all the books in order though, so had to wait until I got the first two and read them. I have read this before, but it’s nice to revisit something from my youth. I really enjoy the portrayal of characters in this series and find that is something Anne McCaffrey is very talented with. There are probably flaws with the writing as many reviewers have mentioned, but I get too caught up in the engrossing story to really notice. The story flows so nicely and I think it holds wide appeal – I enjoyed it as a youngster and experience that enjoyment once more as an adult.

L.A. Miles

www.Goodreads.com
Latest Book: The Stone Dragon

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Telephone Invasion

Phone Talkin

Those annoying phone calls, the ones which always happen right at the worst possible moment and are about something completely irrelevant or useless to the person answering the phone. Nuisance calls, they have been dubbed. A nuisance is what they are.

In 2010, my husband and I were receiving at least ten nuisance phone calls a day. That is just a ridiculous amount. So when we found out about the Telephone Preference Service, we opted in, full of hope that unwanted phone calls about PCs needing fixed or fitted kitchens were a thing of the past.

Over the last few years, we have seen a massive reduction in the amount of unsolicited calls from unknown companies. We still get the surveys calling up and once, when we had received six survey calls within a week, I asked if they were not bound by the Telephone Preference Service. I was told no, because they don’t sell anything. I have no idea if this is true, but now I just say straight away that I am not interested. The problem is, the phone call still has to be answered, it still interrupts the tranquillity of your privacy.

Recently I saw an article about the Telephone Preference Service on the BBC News website and found that it was not only us having an issue with companies flouting this authority. Apparently it is a widespread issue, and TPS do everything they can to hold companies accountable. The article suggested that anyone who is a member of the TPS should take details of callers that seem to be ignoring the rules and pass them along to the company who runs the Telephone Preference Service.

This seemed like good advice. So I thought, right then, if we get any more nuisance calls then I’ll make sure to report the companies responsible. It was not so easy as I imagined. First of all, you need the company name. A lot of what we’ve been getting lately is recorded messages, which unfortunately do not provide a company name. I found this strange, since surely the point of these calls were to get people to take up a service or buy something from the company – who is going to do that from an unnamed, faceless company? The second problem I ran into was with the calls that had living people at the other end, where unfortunately very few actually seemed able to understand English. Asking these people for the company name and where they were based generally produced some worried repetitions of their script, or failing that, they put down the phone.

It would seem to me that despite the efforts of certain organisations, laws and regulations, companies still seem to disrupt the peace in the home. Heaven alone knows where they get your information from; considering both my husband and I are always very careful not to give permission to anyone to pass along our details, it surely must not be done legally. Is it too much to ask that people can relax in their homes without having to deal with the irritation of sales calls? Will mothers with sleeping babies always have to turn the phone off in case some faceless organisation rings during nap time?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know if I required any of the services offered by these nuisance callers, I would contact a company myself and not wait for them to call me.

Halloween!

So recently my husband and I got together with a few friends to celebrate Halloween. We all wore costumes and went for a drink down the local pub. One person dressed as a vampire, one as Catwoman, my husband dressed as a steampunk villain and I wore a steampunk vampire hunter costume (we both like steampunk).

The internet is fantastic for finding items to put together a costume and mine involved:

  • Some ultra-skinny jeans from New Look in dark blue with a high-waisted brass button fastening
  • A Victorian style cotton blouse from Peacocks
  • Calf-high brown boots with front lacing detail and very high heels (I got these years ago from Next)
  • A brown bakers boy cap (bought from Asda about 6 years ago)
  • Goggle-style sunglasses from eBay
  • A tesla medal purchased from Etsy
  • An awesome corset from Corset Deal
  • A vintage necklace watch from Claire’s Accessories

The ensemble was quite brilliant, and I also wore my military style green wool coat which I got from Next a few years back and a lovely long fudge coloured scarf. All together, we were dressed very well for the occasion.

After a few drinks we adjourned to our house, our intention to play a very complicated board game called Last Night on Earth. Since this game involves hero players pitted against zombie players, we thought this quite an apt diversion for a Halloween get-together. The premise of the game is very simple, but the rules are quite complicated with so many factors effecting the gameplay that players must keep their wits on the game (so don’t drink too much!) and the easiest way to learn how to play, is to actually play.

To make the evening a bit more atmospheric, we crafted some spooky nibbles and treats. I made brain cakes (muffins with pink icing) which are a recipe from the book A Zombie Ate My Cupcake by Lilli Vanilli. Meringue bones were also an idea I took from this recipe book, although the temperature given in the recipe was sadly too high for our oven and the bones went slightly coloured, giving them a fossilised appearance. Some Halloween chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and some sausage mummies were also on offer.

To decorate the room, we bought some LED balloons; orange ones with a pumpkin design from Sainsbury’s and white ones with a ghost design from Tesco. And of course, the required carved pumpkin was placed on the table where we played Last Night on Earth with lit a tea light inside.

To conclude, everyone seemed to immensely enjoy the evening and the effort my husband and I expended as hosts was very much appreciated. I love themed gatherings since an element of fun is added and I relish any opportunity to be creative.

Brain CakesMeringue BonesBrain Ice Cubes

Halo 3: The Sun Temple

Halo 3 has to be one of my all time favourite games; I met my husband playing Halo 3 and many of my best friends, so it holds very strong sentimental value. Using the bumper jumper control setup, I was not bad at murdering people either.

I spent many hours happily toiling over new map variants to create interesting custom games. The one in the video was named the Sun Temple and had a story behind it. As any Halo 3 player will know, Sandbox is a brilliantly flexible map, but it is surrounded by a field of death. Giant pillars in the distance will fire upon (and usually kill) any player who enters the restricted zone, which gave me an idea for a story.

In the centre of a dessert valley, human explorers discover what they believe to be a temple, which has a holographic sun suspended at it’s peak. Inside the temple structure is a tunnel which leads straight down into a hidden underground cavern. Upon exploring, the humans discover many underground structures from a long-dead alien race. What they don’t realise, is that while traversing the corridors and investigating structures, they have inadvertently stirred up a contagion – a zombie virus.

The entire map was actually an ancient alien scientific facility, and the giant pillars were part of a quarantine program. As soon as the contagion was detected once more, the quarantine program kept all disease within the boundary to prevent its spread. This meant anything inside of the facility was unable to leave, including the human explorers. Slowly, they all became zombified and hid among the ruins for months.

The video shows the arrival of the Spartan rescue team. They enter the area without trouble, unaware that they will be unable to leave the quarantine zone. Upon investigating the disappearance of the exploration team, they come face to face with the zombies and the survivors are trapped underground. This is where players of the game would then be placed; they are the Spartan rescue team trying to fend off the zombie horde with limited ammo and supplies, with zombies dropping in from the surface.

It was a fun map – enjoyable to build, exciting to play and creating the video was a blast. It became a favourite map to play whenever custom games were on the agenda and was possibly the best map I created.

If you would like to download the map and try it for yourself, please visit my fileshare.