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I don’t like to brag…

…but I mastered Mail Merge this morning.

If you don’t know mail merge, it’s the procedure for making data from a spreadsheet bulk print onto labels or envelopes or your latest Ponzi scheme letter. You take a Word file and an Excel spreadsheet and smash them together until labels dribble out.

Uncle B phoned and I told him what I was doing and he was like, “Mail merge? That’s something I did in Wordstar in the Eighties.” And, as far as I can tell, they haven’t made a single improvement.

I’d really hoped I had reached the point in life when I didn’t need to learn stuff any more.

October 17, 2022 — 6:49 pm
Comments: 15

Pulling a rabbit out of my

I just did the monthly newsletter for my job. That’s ten newsletters I’ve written entirely in the absence of news. I’m so tired of pulling PR out of my ass, honestly.

We’re shut. We don’t go anywhere or do anything. Everything is cancelled. What is there to talk about?

I tried to find out who the bloke in the picture is. Tineye turned up other copies of the pic, but a glance at the list didn’t indicate anyone knew who he was.

But it did turn up this interesting longread about the amateur magic craze that swept through young men in the early Twentieth C.

December 15, 2020 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 8

An elusive address…

My boss asked me to borrow a map off the internet today, so I got to explain the concept of trap streets. These are fake streets inserted into maps so the cartography company can tell if somebody is ripping off their stuff. Not just streets, any fake feature can be inserted as a copyright trap.

They hit us over the head with this when I worked in a corporate art department. You work for deep pockets; do not steal.

Bartlett Place above is a famous one from the A-Z. The A-Z (pronounced “A to zed”, naturally) is the most famous street map in the UK. They sell them everywhere here (or did before GPS, anyway). I believe I once read that there are 200 trap streets (or features) in the A-Z for London.

Ironically, you can’t copyright trap streets, at least in US law. See if you can wrap your head around this decision:

“To treat ‘false’ facts interspersed among actual facts and represented as actual facts as fiction would mean that no one could ever reproduce or copy actual facts without risk of reproducing a false fact and thereby violating a copyright … If such were the law, information could never be reproduced or widely disseminated.”

I think I got that.

p.s. I wrote to the man and asked if we could use his map and he said yes.

November 5, 2019 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 5

I had to buy 100 of these for the office today

They are finger cots, colloquially known as fingerdoms. Basically, rubber glove fingers. Somebody from the British Museum recommended we use them to handle medals because cotton gloves pick up junk and leave bits, and whole hand rubber gloves get sweaty.

I go to Amazon for this. My boss is watching over my shoulder. My boss is very old and very reserved. Sure enough, at the bottom of the page, Amazon cheerfully informs me “people who bought those also bought…” the biggest, purplest sex toy you ever saw.

I’ve never closed a page so fast in my life.

June 24, 2019 — 8:51 pm
Comments: 8


I have to clean some old wax seals for work. It’s tiny, fiddly work. “Woot!” thinks I, “my chance buy some new tiny, fiddly tools!”

Somewhere around here, I’ve got a student dissection kit (eh, you know me…I never dissected anything more sentient than fridge mold. I just love me some weenus little tools). Can’t find it, but they’re cheap enough.

Holy shit, my people, do not be searching for surgical instruments on eBay. Because they’re there.

Cat spay kits. Dental implant bone grafting instruments. Urethral dilators.

Who is buying this shit? And why? Don’t tell me clinics and med schools are buying their instruments used on eBay. Are they?

p.s. Don’t actually click those links. I’m just giving my bona fides.

p.p.s. The collection in the picture this one. I might actually bid on this one if it doesn’t go too high. Some of those instruments look pretty useful (and some of them are an enigma wrapped in a cringe).

April 24, 2018 — 8:36 pm
Comments: 11

Wish you were here


So, ya, I took a train up the coast for a work seminar today. Archivists and the law, mainly copyright law. It turned out to be not very applicable, not least because most of the documents we handle are very, very old.

And also because my main interest was working out if we could reuse some of our old photos and artwork as postcards. And since the time I started wondering, the bottom has totally fallen out of the postcard trade.

Seriously, we can’t give them away. Britain’s oldest postcard manufacturer has just gone tits up. And the murderer is: the selfie.

Well, the selfie, plus Instagram plus the cost of postage. Thanks, Royal Mail. We still sell some folding cards — you can tuck a fiver in there and a note and it’s nice and private in an envelope and it doesn’t cost any more in postage. But only the terribly old buy postcards, and they mostly buy them for souvenirs.

And that’s it for a tuckered weasel tonight. Have a good weekend, all!

October 13, 2017 — 8:03 pm
Comments: 15

Nuh-nut nuh-nut nuh nuhhh nuhhh


Well, well…owing to my splendid performance (and the retirement of my immediate superior), I am likely to see more work coming my way in the future.

Now, I know this seems improbable for an office worker at a historical society, but this is likely to mean I’m kinda sorta on call. Like, have to go into the office on short notice and take care of stuff.

To that end, I’m thinking of getting myself an electric bicycle. Any of you ever owned one of these things? I’m not entirely sold on the idea, and at £1,000 a pop, I’d kind of like to be first.

p.s. Poor old Margaret Hamilton. She was the nicest old lady in Hollywood, and children ran away screaming when they saw her on the street for the rest of her life.

December 3, 2015 — 9:42 pm
Comments: 24

Never let ’em know you Photoshop

My worst nightmare. Well, no, my worst nightmare involves strategically-placed papercuts and jalapeño peppers. But real close to that is folks finding out I own a copy of Photoshop and know how to drive it.

I usually get my revenge: instead of letting them run off the flyer (brochure/ad/letterhead) on a home inkjet I take it to the local printer and run it off proper-like, which isn’t so cheap. It cuts down on casually-repeated business.

Anyhoo, tonight I’m stuck putting together a program (or programme, if you’re gay) for work, thereby drastically reducing my chances of playing a couple of hours of Witcher 3.

Um, I mean composing a really meaningful and interesting blog post.

Yeah, that’s what I meant.

October 12, 2015 — 9:47 pm
Comments: 7



It occurred to me this weekend (as we were slinking through yet another Medieval relic) that I live in a complete cocoon. I wake up in the morning in my 16th Century farmhouse. I have a short, pleasant trip into town across unspoiled farmland. I get paid to shuffle ancient objects around in a scheduled monument. Then home to watch episodes of Antiques Roadshow or the Hidden History of Archaeology.

Weekends is all village fetes, church flower festivals and historic buildings.

My life. England porn. Week in, week out.

I probably shouldn’t say this bit, but I never see a Face of Color, except on advertisements, or if the chef from the local tandoori steps out for a cigarette. The South of England is Whitemanistan.

I didn’t plan it this way. I wasn’t, like, working toward this place my whole life. It was just a supremely happy accident.

The idea of repopulating this lovely corner of the world with ululating splodey-dopes fills me with rage.

September 22, 2015 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 18

Any tips, you miserable cheerful bastards?

I’m not a morning person. Mostly, I’m a sulky, sullen sort of person first thing, though I’m occasionally a if you clink that spoon against that cup one more time I’ll rip your goddam head off kind of gal. Usually, it’s not an issue — nobody sees me for an hour at least, by which time I’ve pulled myself together into the adorable friendly creature you all know and love.

Well, Uncle B sees me early, but he tiptoes real good.

Here’s the thing: I’ve got to be at work an hour early tomorrow, with my boss, to learn from a very expensive engineer how to do something complicated on the computer. Worse: our clocks changed Sunday, so I’m an hour behind as it is. So that’s two hours sleep deficit already.

I’ve got a choice between getting up three hours earlier, but having my usual hour to get a grip on myself, or getting up two hours earlier but inflicting myself on the world rabies and all. Also, I’ll be real stupid.

Yes, yes…I’m going to bed early tonight. Any other ideas that don’t involve getting hopped up on goofballs? How *do* you cheerful bastards do it?

March 30, 2015 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 25