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Topics - Amie

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The Coffee Shop / Weird Christmas stuff
« on: December 19, 2017, 01:49:58 PM »
My husband and I are having a debate as to what is "normal" Christmas giving behaviour. I'd have put this as a poll, but polls aren't so easy to do on this forum anymore. So tell me, which do you think is normal:

A) your in-laws phone you a month before Christmas, asking what you want, and requesting cash for their kids (the item you request must equal the amount of cash you send to their kids, more or less exactly). They then continually harangue you until you come up with an answer ("it's okay, I don't need anything, and I'm happy to give your kids the money you have requested anyway" is not an acceptable answer)

B) you just buy things, and try to put some thought into it, and hope you pick something the other party will really like, but you want to surprise them, and don't want to put pressure on them, so you don't ask what they might want more than once (if at all)

C) you agree not to exchange gifts, because neither party really needs anything, and the purpose of Christmas is getting together and having a happy time, not presents

D) something else.

My position is that B and C and possibly D are normal, whereas A is a colossal waste of time and makes Christmas into a stressful chore. If I have to spend 30 on you, and you have to spend 30 on me, then why not just go for C and decide for ourselves whether we want stuff?

My husband's family are diehards for A. My husband says, "that's how everyone does it, don't they?". I said, "not my family" (they do B or C). So I thought I'd put it to the test: who are the raving freaks, my family, or my husband's family? ;)

The Coffee Shop / Stuttering
« on: April 27, 2017, 02:37:14 PM »
I know, a bit random - but it's tied to words/language and brain function to some extent, so I was a bit curious ...

I had a mild stutter as a child. It was very pronounced if I had to read aloud, as I struggled to coordinate my speaking and reading speeds with each other (like most people, I read much faster than I speak - hence stutter)

As an adult, I rarely stutter - but I do find that I do it if I have to give presentations. In my current job, that is a lot.

It's weird, because I actually quite enjoy giving presentations - so I'm not really quite sure what causes it.

So... I guess I was just wondering if others on the forum have similar experiences and know how to stop it! :)

The Coffee Shop / Fun games for families?
« on: April 16, 2017, 06:39:28 AM »
So... does anyone have any ideas for games (indoor) that are fun for families? We have friends with four kids, aged 5-12... and are trying to think of something all of them can enjoy.

The two eldest children (10 and 12) are very bright (sort f like adults with small bodies), but I don't want the younger ones (5 and 7) to feel left out.


The Coffee Shop / Most commonly misused English words
« on: December 22, 2016, 06:31:14 AM »
I'm surprised by a lot of these:

The Coffee Shop / OCD test
« on: December 20, 2016, 01:40:41 AM »
Just a little fun, if you are interested:

I scored 100%. Without my glasses. (I have mild astigmatism, which actually means I can't really focus on the page without them, everything's a bit blurry.)


Is this really so unusual, or is this a flawed test?

Writing Games & Challenges / Dream prompts
« on: November 24, 2016, 11:36:46 AM »
Hello my lovely writing colleagues :)

I wasn't sure whether to post this here or in the Coffee Shop, but thought this might be the better home.

A lot of my writing has been influenced by dreams, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. So, I thought it would be fun to either:

a) share any short pieces or poems that were inspired by dreams;

b) share details of dreams to serve as writing prompts for others;

c) post pieces (short! Flash or poems) inspired by the above prompts.

Any takers? We could set a limit of say.... 500 words? (I can change this if it's not right)

Here's an example of a poem I write that was inspired by a dream:

The Coffee Shop / Happy Thanksgiving
« on: November 24, 2016, 10:47:16 AM »
Happy Thanksgiving to the US-based writers here.

I will be having an honorary Thanksgiving dinner here in the U.K. - though, no turkey, since I don't like that stuff :)

But hub is out getting cranberry sauce as I type. And hopefully some pumpkin pie (if he fails, I will make a fake pumpkin pie using sweet potato)

I got a spam email a couple hours ago (ie, about 8am EST) from a salesperson saying they were STUFFED (by way of sales banter). I was just wondering how many of you had polished off your Thanksgiving day meals by 8am ;)

Hope all of you who are celebrating are having a lovely one :)

The Coffee Shop / "Post-truth" and the press
« on: November 21, 2016, 03:02:31 PM »
I read today that the Oxford English Dictionary has named "post-truth" the new word of the year. This got me started on a chain of thoughts around editorialising in the press...

many people blame the "post-truth" era on the social media and lack of quality control in news reports therein. But I think the mainstream media play a part as well.

I grew up in the US, but have lived most of my adult life (well, after the age of 22) in the UK. When I was in high school in the US, there used to be a mandatory class called "Comparative Political Systems" (I think I heard that this class was removed from high school curricula c. 1985). I used to jokingly refer to it as, "Don't become a Commie" class :) - but in hindsight I realise that I learned something very important from it, and I wonder if generations since have missed out on this.

What I learned was, how to spot when a journalist inserts their opinion into a news report, however subtly, as if their opinion were a fact. We used to have quizzes on this - parsing out which parts of statement were fact and which were opinion. Back then of course the fear was that we would be brainwashed by some rogue government or political agency... But it's been interesting to me ever since. Because I noticed from that point forward that a lot of the US press, particularly the lower-quality papers, but regardless of whether they are left or right leaning, has this kind of in-built editorialising. It can be something subtle like, "sportsman shamed by sex scandal" - and you have to read the detail of the article to find out what they mean by "shamed" and "scandal". But sometimes it can be shockingly blatant, as in "Mr Jones makes shocking statement!" (Really? What is the objective measure of "shocking"? Who was shocked, and how do you know their reaction represents all of even the majority of the population?)

I mentioned having moved to the UK, because one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was that the BBC seemed to be very skilful at avoiding this kind of editorialising (or, if they do it, they label it as an editorial piece).

I guess I was just wondering if they still teach this stuff in schools, and if they don't, can young people easily distinguish between fact and opinion in the press?

The Coffee Shop / "A great gift idea"?
« on: October 19, 2016, 08:18:15 AM »
I was searching on Amazon for a callus knife, and came across a tool for the removal of corns and verrucas (plantar warts).

After several lines extolling its quality and effectiveness (they've even CE marked it as a medical device), it ends with, "A great gift idea!"


I pity the poor Aspergers folk who buy this, thinking, "yes, I can see where this tool would be a wonderful practical gift for my verruca-laden friends... And Nan's birthday is coming up...", only to once again be accused of a lack of empathy...

Anyone else come across any particularly bizarre "gift ideas"?

The Coffee Shop / Newsflash: Amazon don't have packing boxes!
« on: October 10, 2016, 08:42:08 AM »
I am feeling pretty annoyed right now, no doubt compounded by a morning of watching the Clinton-Trump debate.

Anyway, back to my shocking discovery: Amazon "do not have a facility" to send out cardboard boxes. It is completely outside the parameters of their logistics.

I bought an under-counter fridge last week. When it arrived, it was damaged. This was only evident after we'd removed the external packaging - which, because it was so tight, required a fair bit of ripping to get into. So the packaging material was no longer viable to send the item back in.

I contacted Amazon and they said, "no problem, an item like that does not need to be packaged." But when dpd arrived today to collect it, they said they couldn't take an unpackaged item ("maybe Amazon don't need it to be packed, but we do" he said).

There have been several cock-ups with this delivery, so this is the fourth time I have waited around either to receive or hand over this item.

When I requested a call back to complain, the call centre person (who had a really strong Indian accent, and was on a bad line, so it was very difficult to understand her) made me explain FOUR TIMES why I didn't have the original packaging. Finally she got it, and then recommended that I go out and "buy a box". I said, "can't you just send me one? To be honest, if I were going to buy a cardboard box that size, the first place I would look would be Amazon. I have no idea which shop locally would stock such an item."

She kept insisting, "we do not have the facility to do that, so, please, go out and buy a box. We will reimburse the cost of the box."

I said, "why do I need to take time out of my day to find a box, when you have millions of them in warehouses around the country? Can't you just send me one? You must have had to find a box when you sent it to me initially."

Anyway, the conversation carried on like this for several rounds, and she didn't seem like she was going to get off the phone until I agreed that it was totally reasonable for me to waste a few hours from my day trying to find a box because Amazon's quality control did not prevent them sending me out a damaged item. So ultimately I had to hang up on her. I sent an email to complain instead. We'll see if a more helpful bot can come to the rescue on this, or if indeed Amazon might discover that they do actually have millions of boxes in their warehouses.

The Coffee Shop / Dessert ideas?
« on: October 07, 2016, 03:12:39 PM »
1. Does anyone have a stunning and amazing strawberry shortcake recipe?

2. Alternatively, ideas for a delicious dessert that does not require master chef status to achieve? (I'm a good cook, and reasonably competent baker, but I'm not in the Michelin star league ;) )

We're taking part in a "safari supper" tomorrow night and are doing the dessert (aka "pudding" in Brit-speak)

I quite like the idea of doing a trio of tiny desserts... But I couldn't get past my idea of strawberry shortcake and chocolate mousse (or even mousse cake). The third "pud" could just be a selection of fruits I guess... I also have some raspberry sambuca that needs a vehicle... (I was thinking raspberry mousse, but then that isn't enough contrast with star berry shortcake, so....)

any thoughts?

Creative cooks, your services are requested! ;D

The Coffee Shop / iMessage question
« on: August 03, 2016, 03:47:07 AM »
My husband swears he got an unpleasant message from a drunk person at 2:30 this morning. I remember him telling me in the middle of the night he couldn't sleep, and just now he told me why.

But now there is no record of the text (an iMessage, not any other app)

I've googled, and everywhere seems to suggest that it is impossible to delete iMessages once received and read. I wondered if he might have been dreaming, but he is sure he wasn't.

So... Do any of you know of a secret way that the iMessage might have been deleted?

The Coffee Shop / Companion discussion to Heidi's gratitude thread
« on: May 20, 2016, 09:57:15 AM »
No wanting to hijack Heidi's thread - but SpellChick reminded me of some reservations one might have about "counting one's blessings"

- one is, it's actually quite true, it can make you feel bad rather than good. Particularly if you feel it is an obligation to be grateful, rather than something you are doing for yourself.

- also, sometimes appreciation spills over on to what some consider arrogance. Not that I have any problem with this - but we're taught from such an early age not to brag, that it could feel quite awkward posting something like "I am grateful for my gorgeous healthy body" ;)


Okay, maybe most of the people on this forum write fiction, so this advice may not be of interest - but I read a lot of non-fiction, and since I've got kindle unlimited, I've started reading a lot of self-published non-fiction, so I am becoming acutely aware of the pitfalls in this market.

Table of contents I think is the biggie, but coming close on its heels is: check your facts. Even if you think it is just a cute throw-away line that isn't critical to the overall message (which then begs the question of why it's there, but let's not go there for the time being) - it still matters.

Very often I am seeing quotes attributed to the wrong people, definitions that are incorrect, references to scientific studies that mis-represent what the actual study was intended to show, etc. Today (prompting this post) I read someone refer to knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation via an oral or written tradition and accepted as fact without evidence - and the author said, "Carl Jung referred to this as the Collective Unconscious". Well no, that is not what Jung was referring to at all when he coined the term "Collective Unconscious", and the most rudimentary research would make that obvious.

Sheesh people, if you can take the time to write a non-fiction book, you can take the extra 10% and check your facts and quotes.

Mini-rant over :)

Writing Games & Challenges / I wonder...
« on: May 07, 2016, 10:52:31 AM »
No relation to The Smiths song (which starts with "well" :) )

So, the game I am proposing is: person A posts something they have wondered about. Person B can then either:
A) post something he or she has wondered about, linked in some way to the previous wondering. If the link is not obvious, he or she should explain it.
B) respond to the previous person's wonder with a plausible answer / explanation. In this case, Person B can either post a linked wonder of their own, or start on an entirely new track.

So, here's my starter-wonder:

How did we come up with 7 notes in the musical scale? It's so unwieldy - it would be much easier to read music if it were an even number of notes (and also if they didn't stuff any notes in between the bass and treble clef, so that they were basically identical, apart from the pitch). Often arbitrary demarcations are based on ten - so we can count it on our fingers. But then we get these odd things, like seven days of the week, twelve months in a year, 24 hours in a day... I had all of those explained to me at one time or another, but I never understood the allure of seven notes in the scale

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