bookmark_borderThe Hunt

Ready, prepared, weapons in place,
the fresh stench of aftershave fills the air,
a clean shirt buttoned,
wallet checked, protection an annoyance.

On the bus, eyes everywhere,
bodies chat and vodka laughs,
the vehicle vibrates week long sexual energy,
the weekend hunt is on.

She with the warpaint camouflage,
ready with her lures,
lurid nails on glowing screen,
there in 10, get the drinks in.

Pools of light illuminate busy tables,
empty glasses to catch vapid souls.
You have to shout at the bar staff over indie classics,
to order your next round of avoidance.

People congregate, merge and flock,
friends and colleagues bellowing at shared jokes,
while the hunters quietly circle,
waiting for the herd to break, weakness to reveal.

Across the room a separate herd moves,
pristine feathers shine on Instagram,
gaudy money reflected, tasteless bling,
they are our screaming false gods.

Avoid the vain, they expect to be hunted,
Target the approval seekers,
the ones with the quiet laugh,
the scanning eyes, desperate to be seen.

Elsewhere lipstick is slowly applied
and she sees a reaction,
eyes met and the hunter moves,
her prey static, silent in headlights.

Eyes roaming over downed drinks,
watching for a split in the pack.
The hunters are patient,
and praised in this ritual.

Chat up lines miss at first,
circling to land later in addled ears.
A smile, a touch, not my place, yours,
agreement willingly coaxed, doused in want.

Later they wake in quiet places,
and fake their way home.
All they have are empty sofas and the ritual ends,
still alone, still empty, unfed and unloved.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment
    We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description.
    What is now? When is then? Etc etc. A notable addition to my recent post.

  • How Mountain Biking Is Saving Small-Town
    From Nevada to Minnesota, hollowed-out mining towns are seeing economic revitalization on trails and tracks that attract mountain bikers from far and wide Photo: Nearly 50 years ago, the iron mining companies that were once the backbone of Crosby.
    And the world evolves.

  • Pet Project
    The semester is almost over and the rain is only supposed to hold off for a couple more hours, but a group of Campbell University golf management majors are stuck in Principles of Marketing instead of out on the course.
    File under “Only on the internet”, also “DOGGIES”!

  • If Raw Fruits Or Veggies Give You A Tingly Mouth, It’s A Real Syndrome
    If you have ever noticed an itchy or tingly sensation in your mouth after biting into a raw apple, carrot, banana or any of the fruits and veggies listed here, read on. People who are allergic to pollen are accustomed to runny eyes and sniffles this time of year.
    Touch wood, but I don’t have any allergies, other than a dislike of bell peppers … which might be an allergy as it turns out.

  • ISIS Has A Strategy To Create A Media Frenzy And News Outlets Are Struggling To Disrupt It
    It’s 2017, and the world is shaken by another depraved mass murder, carried out and claimed in the name of ISIS. This time, it is children who are targeted.
    Amidst more horrific news I read this article. We ALL need to change our behaviours in the aftermath of these things, we are feeding the fire, even though we don’t always realise it.

  • Roger Moore Was the Best Bond Because He Was the Gen X Bond
    I heard about Roger Moore’s death during a walk in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning, when a young father looked up from his phone and said, “The worst James Bond ever just died.
    A colleague of mine always insisted Moore was the best bond. Maybe he was right?

  • Forgotten Women Writers: A Reading List
    For every Edith Wharton and Jane Austen, there are numerous women writers whose works aren’t found in the typical literary canon or school-required reading list.
    I don’t usually pay attention to the gender (or race or any other ‘category’) of authors, but good to get a steer to spread my horizons a little more.

  • What If We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa
    This is Role Monsters, a series on monstrous female archetypes by Jess Zimmerman. Myth and folklore teem with frightening women: man-seducers and baby-stealers, menacing witches and avenging spirits, rapacious bird-women and all-devouring forces of nature.
    The relentless pressure on women, once you are aware of it, is horrific and far uglier than any person.

  • Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer
    Welcome to Mossberg, a weekly commentary and reviews column on The Verge and Recode by veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg, executive editor at The Verge and editor at large of Recode. This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere.
    Final column from Walt. Looking forward to Ambient Computing being a reality, right now it’s a fuckin shambles!

  • The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuts
    At 11:22 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2013, an orange Freightliner tractor-trailer arrived at Crain Walnut Shelling in Los Molinos, California. The truck’s driver, a man in his mid-thirties wearing a gray T-shirt, introduced himself as Alex Hernandez.
    Everything is big business. Even nuts. (So proud I didn’t make any reference to testicles!!)

bookmark_borderBreathe and stop

It’s easy to get swept along by life, to grab on to things and go where the current takes you but that’s different from choosing where you want to go, even if that means you have to let go of some things and work hard to keep to your own course.


The above sentence is a wordy way of saying that my counselling is going well and I’m learning more about my own personal motivations, behaviours, and drivers, and that I’m working on changing the ones which are in the ‘not happy making’ camp.


Part of that is to stop. Congratulate myself on my achievements, big or small. Some days that achievement is not putting off the hoovering again, some days that achievement is brought by losing weight in the last week, and some days it is simply the fact I existed. I have my own set of rules, internalised, for how I believe (my) life should be lived, and whilst I am slowly picking them apart I’m also stepping back.


It probably started when I first went along to the guided meditation session. Being in that environment made the ‘pause, calm, step back and reflect’ process much easier to get to, but with some practice I’m much more able to achieve it myself these days, I just need to remember to breathe.


Baby steps they may be, but I’m still learning more about my own triggers, about the ways I sabotage myself and how my critical self is always waiting on the wings to point out my failures, and slowly I’m finding ways to keep that voice much quieter these days.


On weeks like the one I’m in the midst of this week – from Monday to Sunday I have something on every day and evening – when I get tired and my ‘not happy making’ behaviours creep more and more to the forefront of my mind (for those are the behaviours I’ve been using for a LONG TIME to function in the world) it’s telling that I am much better able to cope without getting (too) stressed.




bookmark_borderWhy I am not quitting Facebook

Sometimes when I’m writing for this blog, it feels like there is a conspiracy going on to make me think about, and write about, a particular topic. So with that in mind I will happily concede that this post was inspired by Lipstick Lori (who is writing some great stuff at the moment!) writing about How I Quit Facebook, Sort Of, my own ponderings around the question of Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?, and this piece by Jason Kottke (uber-blogger) My Social Media Fast.

It’s a slow pull, a subtle trick. It starts with a brief desire and is soon a constant drain. They know what they are doing, they’ve spent a long time designing it to be this way, to game you, to manipulate you, and as it gets larger and larger so it becomes harder and harder to fight.

My Facebook account currently gets the most usage of all my social media accounts. Granted a lot of the things I post are pushed from Instagram, but more and more I will share things into my timeline from elsewhere on Facebook, trapped in the bubble. I find myself idlly scrolling through post after post after post, hardly pausing to digest, a stream of stuff that amuses, annoys, adds to the FOMO, or makes me smile.

I do not like the amount of time I spend using Facebook.

I have books I want to read, TV shows I want to watch, and on sunny days I want to disconnect and enjoying being alive and being present with myself.

I did manage to wean myself off Facebook pretty well a while ago, right up until my niece was born; my sister posts pictures and videos of her almost every day, and oh my heavens she is as cute as a button and fills my heart with joy and love and that gorgeous little thing was the gateway, the lure back into the Facebook universe. I tried to tell myself I was only gonna check it to see if there was anything about her, you know just a little bit now and then, and then I could totally give it up later. Yes, that’s right, I’m blaming my Facebook addiction on my 1 year old niece, what of it!

I have tried to maintain some level of discipline. I had previously uninstalled the app but it’s snuck back on to my phone now BUT – and this is an important BUT – it sits deliberately in a folder on the second screen, right next to its time-sucking sister Twitterific. The thinking was that would remove the urge to ‘just have a quick look’ and for the most part it’s starting to work, which is just as well.

I know what some of you might be thinking, social media is fun! So say the adverts at least, but as always there is a deeper, unadvertised, cost.

There are many meme-able acronyms that surround Facebook; but it is the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) being the one I most associate with it, after all it’s so obvious that everyone ELSE is leading lives far richer than mine and whilst seeing people I care about having a good time is totally awesome and happy making, it can be not to compare and contrast; my lonely sofa to the photos of an afternoon out, all laughter and spilled drinks. And there’s the rub, the mixture of joy and sadness, happiness and melancholy.

And yes, I am well aware that social media is a but a filter, and the most people post the best of themselves, not the worst, but having that knowledge and sensibly processing that knowledge are two very different things. And that’s before you consider that I do this as well, contributing to the very problem I’m trying to avoid. Ironic, isn’t it? (shut up Alanis).

I honestly do love reading, seeing, and hearing, the wonderful things my friends and acquaintances get up to. You lot (I’m presuming, dear reader, that we are connected on some platform or another) are wonderful, quirky, funny, thought provoking, attractive, heart warming, caring and just down right good peoples. But, as Lori points out, that comes at an emotional cost. It’s not always a negative sum game, but emotions need to be processed regardless and it can be tiring.

I’m not completely away from Facebook or Twitter, but it feels more manageable. Instagram remains front and centre though, as I find it so much easier to scroll photos than dodge the diatribes, crap adverts, and all the other noise that Facebook adds.

The flipside to all of this, for there is always a flipside, is that I will have fewer chances to see things that others post. Fewer chances to like or comment on their achievements, fewer chances to laugh with them (or at them if the moment warrants). And to all those people I wanted to echo the sentiment of a wonderful message I recently received (the irony (again!) of having received this message on yet another social platform is not lost on me).

I enjoy seeing what you post, and I see you around on various social media channels. I may not like or comment as often but I see you, and I care about you.*

There is joy to be found in social media, and for me that joy and delight has been found in the connections it has allowed me to make, I have met people I genuinely call friends (for they are not acquaintances) thanks to social media, and there is no doubt that it’s very useful for keeping in touch, however remotely, with many people.

For those connections, those new friendships that I wouldn’t have made any other way, I will always be grateful to social media (ht: this blog of mine which started it all for me) and I can’t see a time when some form of social media or another won’t have a place in my life. It’s just not on my homescreen.

* the person who sent this knows, but wanted to call this out again, it was a simple message that had a big impact on me, and gave me something to strive for in my interactions with others, to make them meaningful, not just another LIKE.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

Two notes on today’s post.

  1. I’m finding it harder to wade through my usual sources and avoid the T word. Especially this past week. It’s depressing stuff and shows no sign of abating.
  2. I tend to leave the order of the links in these posts unaltered. They are presented as I discovered, oldest to latest. But the news about Chris Cornell hit me really hard, largely because grunge was the ‘music moment’ I identified with growing up.
  • Chris Cornell Was a Rock Star for the Ages
    Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, died Wednesday night in Detroit, a few hours after a Soundgarden show. He was 52. He died by suicide, a medical examiner determined. Cornell was one of the giants of his time. You knew it from the first time you laid ears or eyes on him.

    See also: Chris Cornell: 8 Great Acoustic Covers
    A sad loss, one of THE great rock voices.

  • Pilgrim at Tinder Creek
    In 2013 I found myself simultaneously single and on the academic job market for the first time. I was thirty, several years into graduate school and at work on a dissertation about nineteenth-century poetry and pleasure. Literary studies, my dissertation argued, was blighted at its core.
    Imagine being a time traveller, coming from the distant past of 1990 and reading this.

  • A Time to Kill iTunes
    Okay, so the quote above isn’t actually a quote. Well, I said it on Twitter, but it’s not a famous quote. Nor does it technically make sense. But it is, of course, a play on a famous quote. It was and remains a great line. But times have also changed.
    WWDC in June, no rumours but I struggle to believe that this isn’t on a ‘list’ of things Apple know they need to sort out. Right?

  • How Pixar Lost Its Way
    For 15 years, the animation studio was the best on the planet. Then Disney bought it. A well-regarded Hollywood insider recently suggested that sequels can represent “a sort of creative bankruptcy.”
    Inevitable? Reversable? The early Pixar movies will remain some of my favourite movies, but Toy Story 4 just ‘feels’ wrong.

  • The Amazing Dinosaur Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada
    Clearly more fake news.

  • ‘Fat but fit is a big fat myth’
    The idea that people can be fat but medically fit is a myth, say experts speaking in Portugal. Their early work, as yet unpublished, involved looking at the GP records of 3.5 million people in the UK.
    Don’t worry, in August there will be an article from experts saying that bacon is better for you than lettuce.
  • Why Did a Chinese Peroxide Company Pay $1 Billion for a Talking Cat?
    Inside the strange courtship between industrial behemoths and Western video game studios. Samo and Iza Login were Slovenian high school sweethearts who studied computer science in college and then decided, in 2009, to get into the business of apps.
    One more step towards MegaCorp!

  • Dutch king reveals double life as an airline pilot for KLM
    For 21 years, King Willem-Alexander has taken to the skies twice a month to ferry passengers around on short-haul services for the Dutch airline KLM.
    Yay for the Dutch. No doubt if this had happened in the UK it’d be Prince Phillip and we all know how well THAT would go…

  • Two candy giants have spent years in court fighting over the shape of Kit Kat bars
    Two of the planet’s largest food companies have been locked in a bitter, multinational, decade-long legal saga over the shape of a chocolate bar. At stake is whether Kit Kat’s “four-finger” shape is distinctive enough to be protected by trademark. And the fight may be reaching its climax.
    I had no idea!

  • The Petticoat Rebellion of 1916
    Please warmly welcome our newest contributor, Jennifer Colton-Jones. On a December morning in 1916, the polls opened in the small town of Umatilla, Oregon, for a municipal election. As the day stretched on, the town’s men drifted in and out, casting a ballot here or there.
    Food for thought for the upcoming General Election? There must be some loophole somewhere that would let this happen, right?

  • Comic Papyrus, A Complete Font Designed as a Mashup of Papyrus and Comic Sans
    Graphic designer Ben Harman combined the two generally loathed typefaces Papyrus and Comic Sans into the font Comic Papyrus. We previously featured the same concept from Barth and Co, but Harman has made the complete font, including a special character set, available for purchase for $5.
    I feel sorry for Ben. Clearly has some weird death wish.

bookmark_borderSix by Nico: Childhood

Six weeks have past, and it’s time for a new menu at Six by Nico!

They announced this menu the same night we visited last time, and after such a stellar start I was keen to get back but a little nervous in case it wasn’t quite up to the same standard. Mind you, it’s tricky to judge a restaurant when they’ve changed their menu, although I’m still not sure if I was being overly critical or more lenient given that the entire premise of Six by Nico is to do just that, regularly change their menu. This is their idea, but would it measure up to our previous visit?

While the menu hints at what was to come, on this second visit I at least knew that it would be the cooking, presentation, and overall execution of what is on offer that would make, or break, the evening.

And yes, this ice cream lover was excited to see TWO ice cream dishes on offer!! (sort of).

  1. ICE CREAM ~ Chicken liver parfait / Spiced pear/ Ginger bread
  2. EGG & SOLDIERS ~ Smoked haddock / Asparagus / Confit yolk
  3. FISH FINGER ~ Sea Trout / Sesame / Avocado / Radish
  4. MAC & CHEESE ~ Summer truffle / Sprouting brocolli / Glazed chicken wing
  5. HAMBURGER ~ Pork cheek / Brioche / Charred gem / Burnt onion jus
  6. VIENNETTA ~ White chocolate parfait / Rhubarb / “Pick n Mix” toppings

Ohhh and it was good, very good on the whole but we all agreed it didn’t quite hit the same heights as the previous visit. I’d still recommend it

As well as the six courses there is also the option for a ‘snack’ starter which obviously we took. It included truffled popcorn, a chicken nugget, and beans on toast. Not a fan of popcorn, and the beans on toast was ok but the start of that plate was the single chicken nugget made from tender chicken thighs (I think) with a lovely spicy tomato sauce. On reflection this set the tone for the meal, it was all tasty enough but I wasn’t WOW’d by some of the courses.

The first course was definitely a hit. Arriving in a thin pastry cone, smooth whipped chicken liver parfait was complimented by a thin smear of spiced pear, just enough to cut through the rich creamy parfait. And then in the first little moment of ‘ohhhh that is clever’ the bottom of the cone has crumbs of ginger bread, instantly transporting me back to those childhood cones when the bottom is nothing but wafer. Clever and delicious.

The next course arrived in a little toy soldier egg cup, with a little spoon attached. A whispy foam flecked with smoked haddock and crumbs of confit yolk was our egg, with accompanying asparagus ‘soldiers’ . The egg was wonderful, each mouthful revealing different flavours and textures, and whilst the asparagus was perfectly cooked, the dish felt a little disjointed. Should we ‘dip’ the asparagus (which was cut into small bite sized pieces) and where did the little side salad fit? Wonderful ingredients, great cooking and presentation but a not quite as ‘fun’ as it purported to be.

Fish finger time! And this, for me, was the stand out dish. Marinated sea trout covered in mixed sesame seeds, on a bed of brown quinoa, with an avocado puree, radish slices and wonderfully sweet pickled onions. The sweet sour combination was perfect, the sea trout was wonderfully fresh, and whilst the quinoa was a little out of place, the entire dish was perfectly executed. Heaven!!

Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? I’ll be honest, I enjoy it but it’s never my first choice so I was hoping to be swayed! The Mac and Cheese portion of the dish, two small cubes worth, was delicious and perfectly unctuous and cheesy, the glazed chicken wing pieces were tasty as well, the bbq sauce helping pull the two components together. The broccoli and pea puree helped keep it fresh and light but it didn’t have quite the range of flavours to keep my tastebuds guessing.

It’s just as well the portions are small because next up was a hamburger! Made from pork cheek, topped with cheddar, on a circle of brioche with celeriac coleslaw and charred gem (and a sneaky bit of tomato too!) it looked very tasty, and the hamburger itself certainly hit the mark with the tender, almost pulled, pork cheek that melted in the mouth. Alas the burnt onion jus didn’t really have enough oomph to join the party, and the celeriac coleslaw was… well if they hadn’t told me it was celeriac would I have know? Probably the weakest dish of the night then (but that pork cheek though!).

As a dessert and ice cream fiend, I was excited to see what they did with a Viennetta and I was not disappointed. Definitely an ‘in the spirit of’ style dish, the white chocolate parfait was accompanied by a wonderfully sharp passion fruit foam, a thin slice of meringue textured white chocolate, and a hidden surprise underneath, little chunks of what tasted like the inside of a mint Aero! I think with out the surprise element this may have been a little sweet and cloying but the hit of mint really made it sing.

Overall six great plates of food, and whilst it fell slightly short, it was still worth every penny (and yes we are booked up again for the next menu, which has yet to be announced).

There is something giddily thrilling about dining like this. You don’t get to choose from a menu, so you are never quite sure what will arrive and whilst that can mean that some of the dishes aren’t quite to your own tastes, it is still a wonderful adventure!