A Few Changes – new layout, new ‘about’ section, and a drawing

As you might have noticed, I have made a few changes to my blog page today and I thought I’d just point them out briefly.

The most obvious change is my layout. I decided to clean up the look of my blog, but have tried to keep the menus on the side because I like them there, to be honest. The header image is a local one – taken from Ettalong beach, on the beautiful Central Coast of Australia (where I live). The sea will always be a big part of me, and I will probably always need to live within driving distance of it, so I felt it was an appropriate image to put on what has become a much more personal blog (or at least, it’s a blog about stuff I like, rather than just books now, though I still like to focus on books).

Now, the other changes. I have updated the quotes page with a few quotes, but more importantly, I updated my “About” page. That page has long been one of my most popular (the old blurb is still there, under the new one), so it was hard to know how to “update” it. So I just rambled on in a silly fashion again. Surpriiiise!

Anyway, feel free to go check it out, and let me know your thoughts on the new changes – do they work? Be honest as well!

Because this post is a little short, I’ve drawn an awesome picture of myself, complete with totally necessary labels, just for you. I used Microsoft Paint, which I believe is what all the professionals use now? Except I don’t have a mouse so it was kind of hard to draw. Anyway, enjoy!

I know, I know. I'm quite the artist.

I know, I know. I’m quite the artist.

A lovely blog award

One word which could quite easily describe my blogging experience thus far is the word ‘lovely’. This very same word could also be used to describe many of the bloggers who follow me, and who I follow back; it could also be used to describe the often insightful and entertaining posts by many of these same bloggers. And it most certainly can describe how I felt to be nominated for the One Lovely Blog award twice fairly recently.

RebeccaV nominated me on her wonderful blog Friffle Thoughts, and a few days later I was nominated again by Coach Sue on her inspiring The Courage To Adventure Blog. Thanks ladies for the nomination – it really is appreciated, and it’s always great to have these awards posts to connect to other blogs too!

Now, the rules are fairly similar to other awards – link back to the person who nominated you, write seven random facts about yourself, nominate a bunch of people and remember to tell them. So, on to the facts (are you guys bored of my random facts on these posts yet? Considering I gave you 26 more of them on my personal timeline post recently too…):

1. The longest word I know how to spell is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. At 45 letters long, this word is 11-12 letters longer than supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (some versions of this word omit one of the last vowels, the ‘i’ I think?), and 17 letters longer than antidisestablishmentarianism. Sadly, I knew how to spell all three words by the age of 8. Why? I have no idea.

2. When I was younger I had a fear of swimming, a fear of heights, and a fear of spiders. My fear of swimming I eventually conquered by learning to swim, my fear of heights I think I beat when I realised that the view was worth the climb in most cases, and my fear of spiders has just been rationalised down to the question “is it dangerous?” (Which, in Australia, the answer is often ‘yes’, though my general fear has gone and I definitely don’t leap away with fright anymore – I can take care of getting rid of a spider if need be).

3. I’m right this minute wearing an old red sweater that I have owned for over 10 years, since I was a pimpley teenager (this is a lie, I never had trouble with pimples). My weight has gone up and down like a yo-yo over this time, yet, no matter what size I am, this sweater always fits just perfectly. I wish I knew how it did that. And I wish my other clothes would do that.

4. I’m good at sudoku. Really good. Frightfully good. Magnificently good. Maybe ever gooder than that (I’m heaps gooder at English though (gooder is totally a word (okay, maybe it’s not))). Speaking of sudoku… this week I’ve been decorating a little classroom that is mostly used for extension mathematics groups with different groups of students, some of which I run myself at the school at which I work. The kids had an awesome idea – we’re going to create giant sudoku posters, laminate them, put them up on the walls, and that way students (and teachers, for that matter) can use whiteboard markers to play the games, over and over again! As I said, this was one of my student’s ideas – I was very impressed.

5. While we’re on the topic of maths, I happen to be freakishly quick at basic arithmetic. I’m pretty good at maths on the whole, but for some reason I have always been able to crunch numbers in my head really fast, often quicker than the time it takes people to punch these numbers into a calculator (there are limits to my abilities though of course). I forget every now and then in front of my students that I can do this and that it’s not quite normal. An example: the other day I heard one student, while working out a bigger problem, ask her friend “what’s 7.5 times 25” and without the slightest hesitation I blurted out “187.5”. When the room fell silent, I turned around slowly to find the students staring at me in disbelief. I just told them if they keep working things out without a calculator one day they’ll be able to do this too (maybe).

6. I’ve just found out I have quite bad sleep apnea, and have realised I’ve probably had it for a while, which would explain a lot of other health problems I’ve had, not to mention being really tired all the time. It’s kind of funny though – it’s had me thinking about how we sometimes trick ourselves into thinking that the way we feel, physically, mentally, emotionally, is perfectly normal and healthy, that it’s how everybody else must feel all day, when it’s not. When things like this happen, I am torn between sadness that I have been struggling without being aware of this fact, and also excitement at the thought that if I can do as much as I have been doing with this, imagine how much more I can do when my health is sorted out and I’m sleeping normally again!

7. I prefer Winter to Summer. This is probably because I live in Australia, where our Winters are often the same temperature and climate as most of the world’s Spring or Autumn (if not as warm as their Summers), and our Summers just become scorching and sweltering and make everything uncomfortable and exhausting. Sure it’s great to go to the beach on those hot days (and I do live near some stunning beaches), but it’s just not the same as wrapping yourself in extra layers, sitting by a fire or heater drinking hot chocolate, and indulging in other clichéd wintry pastimes.

Now for the people I would like to nominate for this award (I have tried to nominate lovely blogs that I am pretty sure I haven’t nominated before for an award, but knowing me my memory will have failed me (I know I could go back and check my old awards posts, but…but…)):

Writer’s Block 

Embracing The Geek

The Preeminent Litterateur

Robin Coyle

Mediaeval Musings

Tracy Loves History

Lea At Sea

Throwing My Weights Around

Write, Aubrey, Write

Words Can Break Hearts

All of these blogs are fantastic, and blogs which I regularly visit, so make sure you drop by each one, as you’re bound to find something you like there.

I actually think for the first time in months I have caught up with all my awards posts! Coming up later this week, I’ll review The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, and write some other post I haven’t thought of yet.

Happy reading!

The Kreativ Blogger and Versatile Blogger awards

Last night I got a lovely little surprise in one of my comments – I had been nominated for The Kreativ Blogger and The Versatile Blogger awards. It is completely flattering and unexpected, and frankly it means the world to me to know that other bloggers enjoy what I have to say – it certainly motivates me to keep on blogging! Read on for the details, and some random trivia about me.

I was nominated by the lovely Roshni from Roshrulez’s Weblog – an awesome blog full of thought provoking ideas that I think you should all take the time to check out! Thank you Roshni, it means a lot, and congratulations on being nominated yourself, of course! 

So, there are rules with these two awards, which have seemingly become blurred into one set of rules over time, which is fine by me. Basically, I need to tell all of you ten random (and hopefully unknown for most of you) facts about myself, and then nominate some fellow bloggers for the awards, who then go on and do the same.

Without further ado, 10 random facts about me:

  1. I have epilepsy. I was diagnosed when I was 17 (despite suffering from it unknowingly for years), and when I had my big seizure which led to the diagnosis, I collapsed in my bathroom, hitting the ground with such force I kicked the tiles off the bathroom wall, and caused all the blood vessels in my face to burst, covering me in thousands of tiny little red dots. When I saw myself in the mirror later that day in the hospital, I burst into laughter.
  2. I had to learn to speak twice. When I was 2 years old, I had fits which nearly killed me, and also nearly gave me brain damage (yes, yes, go on, make the “or did they…?” jokes…I just did myself). I recovered almost perfectly, except bizarrely I had forgotten how to talk, and had to start from scratch, which resulted in several lisps that took me several years to lose. Now of course I speak confidently and probably too much.
  3. My favourite piece of classical music is the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I find it amazing that a single piano can be just as powerful as his most heavily orchestrated symphonies.
  4. I once laughed so hard while watching Monty Python that I actually lost my voice. I was babysitting for a family friend, and decided to watch the first Monty Python film, And Now For Something Completely Different for the first time in my life. I had previously only seen the other movies, and not a drop of the television series (which I have since watched multiple times), and so I was roaring with laughter at this film. Ten minutes into it, I went to talk to the kids I was babysitting, but nothing came out of my mouth when I tried to talk. Which in itself was quite funny, I suppose.
  5. I have never broken a bone, despite my clumsiness. However, when I was about 13 years old, I injured my middle finger on my left hand falling backwards onto it while playing basketball. It resulted in that finger swelling up to twice its normal size, and changing colour, and I couldn’t bend it properly for a couple of years. But to a 13 year old boy, not being able to pull down my middle finger was kind of funny, and I used it to my advantage. “But I was just waving hello…”
  6. The first story I remember writing was when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was 20 pages long, took me most of the school year to write, and was mostly about robots and outer space, ending not with someone waking from a dream, but with the universe coming to an abrupt end. My lovely teacher “published” it for me, typing it up and binding it together. This probably decided my fate as a writer (and perhaps a teacher) there and then.
  7. I like the taste of absinthe. I know it sounds odd, but I think it tastes okay, really. But people always think I’m really weird for this one.
  8. I like rain. I think Billy Connolly said it best when he said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, it’s just a matter of being appropriately dressed.”
  9. I spent the first 4 and a half years of my life living in England, mostly in Ipswich, Suffolk. I have spent the last 21 and a bit years living in Australia, on the Central Coast an hour north of Sydney. I feel just as English as I do Australian though, even after all these years.
  10. I can raise my left eyebrow, and both eyebrows at the same time, but not my right eyebrow on its own. What is that about?

Now, I would like to nominate the following blogs for these awards as well (this was really hard to pick, so even if you didn’t make this list, I probably still love your blog):

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the random facts about me, and hope you all check out these awesome blogs I have listed, all of which amaze me in different ways.