Diseased (update)

I thought I was sick last week. I was. And I thought I was getting better. By last Saturday my voice was starting to get back to normal, the sore throat was easing up, and my blocked nose felt like it was clearing.

Oh, no it wasn’t. It was just revving up for a massive sinus and ear infection. On Sunday and Monday I was double-dosing Lemsip and Sudafed, but that wasn’t cutting through either the congestion or the pain. (Note to self: pseudoephedrine makes me nauseous. Avoid in future.) I saw my doctor on Wednesday and got tooled up with some antibiotics, which finally seem to be doing the trick. It’s only today that I’ve been able to get through the day using just paracetamol, instead of topping up with ibuprofen.

And I can finally smell again.

Hot, hot, hot

I didn’t know that the heat of peppers was actually measured scientifically in “Scoville Units” until Webword pointed me at this page of (extremely funny) reviews for “The Source”. This is a hot sauce, rated at 7.1 million Scoville Units. For comparison, a jalopeno pepper is somewhere in the region of 2,500 to 5000 Scoville Units, and 15 million units is pure capsaicin. The hottest pepper around is the scotch bonnet pepper, which weight in at about 200,000 – 300,000 units.

As one reviewer put it, “When I taste THE SOURCE I went into the epileptic seizure for 6 hours and I cried tears of liquid fire and blood. The sun turned black and the demons from hell came and danced around the dead bodies of my family, laughing and pointing at me. THE SOURCE is an evil demon from hell. It should not be!! It is el infierno manifestado.”

Alex and the dolls

Treasured moment of the weekend: yesterday evening after Alex’s bath we played around in our bedroom for a while. I went to the bathroom, and while I was in there I heard some scuffling and giggling. When I came back out, I saw that Alex had gone through to his own bedroom, climbed into the rocking chair, and pulled the blanket from his cot over himself. Completely over himself. When he heard me coming towards him, he pulled the blanket down from his face and went, “Boo!”

We both burst out laughing. He loves going to bed these days, and he loves playing night-night games.

He is also starting to role-play with his dolls. At Christmas he got three of them: a Teletubbies Po doll, a Tweenies Milo doll, and a soft plain baby doll. Recently he has been trying to push his noo-noo into baby’s mouth. And this morning, he insisted that Po should wear a bib, and should sit up at his little table to have breakfast with him. He was hugely amused by my attempts to feed her Weetabix.

The Po doll also seems to have another effect. He wanted to take it with him to nursery this morning, and he held on to it all the time while I was taking of his coat and handing him over to the nursery assistant. And he didn’t cry.

Alex has been going to nursery two days a week for over a year now, and every morning I drop him off, he weeps inconsolably when he sees that I’m leaving. As soon as I’m out of sight he cheers up and starts playing quite happily (he does actually love being there), but every morning he puts me through the emotional wringer in he hope that maybe one day I won’t leave him behind.

But this morning, nothing. He clung to Po and let me hand him over without a peep. He looked very solemn, and quite concerned about the matter, but he didn’t cry. I was amazed. I still am. I’m wondering if it was the Po doll, or if he was just too tired to protest (he did wake up quite slowly this morning, and seemed pale and sleepy all through breakfast). If he wants, I’ll let him take Po in again tomorrow to see if it wasn’t just a fluke.

I’d certainly be relieved to see him happier when I leave him behind in the mornings, but possibly a little sad as well. When he cries, and wants to hold on to me so fiercely, I feel the close bond of love between us very strongly. I’m consolde by the knowledge that he has a great time during the rest of the day, but it would be better for both of us (and the staff at nursery!) if he could be a little more relaxed about these partings which, after all, only last a few hours.

My little boy is growing up. I love him so much.

Smell (or lack thereof)

I can finally breath through my nose again, but my sense of smell still hasn’t returned. It’s only when you lose it that you realize just how much of the sense we think of as “taste” is actually smell instead. Ham and cheese toasties still have a wonderful mouthfeel, though.

In terms of child care, having no sense of smell has an up side and a down side. The good thing is that changing dirty nappies is so much less unpleasant. The bad thing is that you can’t tell when they need changing. Which vastly increases the danger of “creepers”.

(A “creeper” is a poo that rides up the child’s butt crack, emerges from the nappy, and keeps on crawling right up the back. If you’re lucky, the child will be wearing a shirt, which will catch most of the unpleasantness. If not, you end up with a brown sticky trail on the floor.)

John Sandford’s web site

I’ve been a fan of John Sandford’s for some time now. The Prey novels are excellent police thrillers, and Lucas Davenport is one of my favourite series characters–right up there with Elvis Cole, Spenser, Kinsey Millhone, and Miles Vorkosigan. But it’s only today that I stumbled across John Sandford’s web site–and it’s a cracker.

Looking at it in terms of my criteria for what makes a “good” web site, the Sandford site excels in a number of areas:

  • Content: lots of it. For most of his novels, there is a brief synopsis, the book’s first chapter, author comments (actually by the author’s son), and also pictures of the covers of all published editions. This is great stuff! Basic facts about the books, as well as insight from the writer himself.
  • Indexing/findability. The Information architecture for the site is beautifully simple and perfectly effective. On the left hand side of the page there is a sidebar with links to main page for each book, and links to the other key sections of the site (FAQ, author bio, etc.). This sidebar is consistent, and always visible on each page. On the book sub-sections of the site, there are contextual navigation links at the top of the page. These allow you to switch between the pages that are available for that book: synopsis, chapter, covers, etc. There is no search facility, but the site is simple enough that it doesn’t need one.
  • Community. The site has a message board. Nothing complicated, but it allows fans to interact.
  • Connectedness. All of the book pages are internally hyperlinked to each other, so if you’re reading the comments for Chosen Prey, and see a reference to Easy Prey, it takes you there. Simple and effective. There is also a links page, which hooks you up to a number of rare book sites and other author sites.

Another very cool thing is that the site is run by John Sandford’s son, Roswell Camp. I can dig the whole father-and-son thing. 🙂

There are a few things that could be improved, for example allowing you to navigate directly to a book’s comments page, rather than having to go via its index, but overall the site is just damn good. It also mirrors exactly what I’m planning to do with my Bob Shaw project.

For some years now I have been on a quest to collect copies of all editions of Bob Shaw’s novels. I’m up to about a hundred or so now, and am probably about half to two-thirds of the way there–for the English-language editions. (I haven’t started on the foreign editions yet.) My intention is to create an “Encyclopedia of Shaw” on the web, containing detailed information about each book, reviews, comments, and all sorts of other things.

I made an abortive attempt at doing this back in 1998 (for some reason Compuserve is still maintaining the page, even though I left them long ago). It was just plain HTML, it was a pig to maintain, and I didn’t really have the time to put into it. Now, in 2003 I still don’t really have the time to spend on it, but Movable Type is going to make it so much more functional (Comments! Trackbacks!) and easier to maintain when I do get round to it.

I really ought to buckle down and get to work on it. It would be kinda cool. And it would be a lovely memorial to a fantastic writer.