Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rosellas reign

It was cheering to look out the kitchen window during breakfast and see that the Rosellas had dropped in to eat with us. My sister was especially pleased, since while she was in Melbourne she'd bought two large sunflower seed rings and had carried them home as part of her hand luggage.

She was glad to see it had been worth it. The birds munched away leisurely, often picking up a single seed in one claw to pop it into their mouths. Julie snapped a couple of pictures of them sitting on top of the clothesline after their meal.

Good to see them about again after a short absence.

The thing about them is that no colour photograph ever does justice to their marvellous hues. They are so bright they almost glow; I could watch them for hours in the bright sunshine just the other side of the window.

Monday morning I found myself gripped in one of those angst-ridden moments of panic that I thought I'd grown out of. Waking early, I pondered whether to have another hour's sleep or to get up and make an early start on the various things I had to do that day.

As it turned out I did neither. Instead I lay there for half an hour paralysed by uncertainty, trying vainly to think of all the tasks I had and to put them in order. By the time I finished I'd worked myself into a state that persisted half the day. And the worst part of it was that I couldn't explain why I was so anxious about everything. I just was.

Partly I suppose I was concerned because of some trouble at the office that had been caused by my forgetfulness. And you know how these things work: the more I worried about forgetting things in the past, the more likely I felt I was going to forget something again and the more worried I grew. One afternoon last week I thought I was losing my mind.

Fortunately towards the middle of the afternoon we had to visit an office supply shop to pick up some things for the office tomorrow. Half an hour wandering among labels, ink, pens and paper had a calming effect on me and I felt a lot more at peace.

It used to be that when I was stressed I would stop in at a second-hand bookshop and buy half a dozen paperbacks out of the 20¢ box. Apparently stationery has a similar soothing effect on my mental metabolism.

The BBC radio website continues to be a never-ending box of delights. It amazes me how much programming is devoted to the middle-of-the-road audience that loves the old songs and bands, especially on Sundays; here in Australia there is practically none of this sort of stuff outside the community radio stations that are the province of the enthusiastic non-professional.

In one programme The Music Goes Round, Desmond Carrington looked at songs about insects. There were more of them than you'd think! The problem of course was that for a couple of hours afterwards I had the Mills Brothers' "Glow little glow-worm" going round and round in my head all the time...

Not only are there links to all the new programmes of the week, but there is a special channel BBC 7 which specialises in running repeats of old favourites, especially comedy and drama of all types. Recently I've been able to listen to wonderful old shows like Just A Minute, Navy Lark, Many A Slip, and Round the Horne.

This week we're promised a special treat, radio adaptations of three of the pre-war novels of Leslie Charteris Saint Overboard, The Saint Plays With Fire and The Saint Closes The Case. My oh my – I remember reading all these when I was about 16 and Roger Moore's Simon Templar was the epitome of everything suave on television. I'll definitely be tuning in.

'Blog' Tops Dictionary's Words of the Year

BOSTON (Reuters) - A four-letter term that came to symbolize the difference between old and new media during this year's presidential campaign tops U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's list of the 10 words of the year.
Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks," was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year.
Eight entries on the publisher's top-10 list related to major news events, from the presidential election -- represented by words such as incumbent and partisan -- to natural phenomena such as hurricane and cicada.
Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster compiles the list each year by taking the most researched words on its Web sites and then excluding perennials such as affect/effect and profanity.
And, of course, our number one Word of the Year, 'blog,'" Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said in a statement.
Americans called up blogs in droves for information and laughs ahead of the Nov. 2 presidential election.
Freed from the constraints that govern traditional print and broadcast news organizations, blogs spread gossip while also serving as an outlet for people increasingly disenchanted with mainstream media.
A Merriam-Webster spokesman said it was not possible to say how many times blog had been looked up on its Web sites but that from July onward, the word received tens of thousands of hits per month.
Blog will be a new entry in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The complete list of words of the year is available at

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