Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lazy Post

I don't have much to say at the moment. On the way into work today, the ipod played Bellbottom by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Its still great.

Yay!, as Jon would say.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Sometimes life becomes all routine, so here is a list of things that happened to me for the first time last week:

  • I attended my first ever fashion press preview, courtesy of the Arcadia Group, on Wednesday, where I got my first glimpse of the new season's clothes for Topshop, Miss Selfridges, Dorothy Perkins and less excitingly Evans.
  • I bought my first piece of Mac make-up, a satin lipstick in 'Myth'
  • My mother came to stay and saw our new flat for the first time
  • I met the landlords/owners of the flat above us for the first time and they are reassuringly nice & helpful
  • I ate in Pitta Great on Portobello Road for the first time
  • We took a boat trip along the Serpentine for the first time
  • I dipped my feet in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain for the first time - it was actually the first time I'd seen it as I'd mistakenly thought another fountain in the park was that for the past few years.

And cheating slightly, the sun came out at the weekend for the first time in what seemed like ages.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Ultimate Supergroup (pt 2)

Now for my choices:

Starting with the easiest part - the drummer. It may be a huge cliché but I think it has to be Keith Moon. He inspired a Muppet for goodness sake! He was also the best looking member of The Who by a mile so imagine how good this band is going to be if even the drummer is attractive!

I’ve already said I’m happy with Hendrix, but if I had to choose another, then it would be Johnny Marr. I’ve seen Morrissey live and he played a few Smiths songs, and whilst they were good, without Marr there was something missing. I’m no musician so struggle to describe how good he is, but even other guitarists struggle to explain his greatness. Noel Gallagher said it was Marr that first inspired him to learn guitar and then said words to the effect of ‘Johnny Marr – he’s so good, that even he isn’t that good’

Keyboard is difficult as I’ve struggled to think of many. Someone on the radio had suggested whoever is the keyboard player from Kraftwerk and whilst their influence on dance music cannot be denied, they’ve always left me cold so I’ll be leaving them out. As a reformed Doors-fan I’m not letting Ray Manzarek near the line-up either. So I think it would have to be Rob Collins, from the Charlatans, which I’ll admit is a hugely personal choice. The moog sound was an important element of their early songs, and I don’t think they were ever as good after he died. Kurt Cobain was supposed to be the voice of my generation, but I can remember just as clearly finding out that Rob Collins had died – I was in the brief period between finishing university and starting work, and somehow it felt like it marked the end of an era.

My group is definitely having a bass player, but I’m torn between Peter Hook and Mani. Hooky’s low-slung bass is iconic and being in New Order and Joy Division means he’s played on some of the best records, but then Mani’s been in The Stone Roses and Primal Scream. I think Mani might just edge it because a) Peter Hook looks too much like the OH’s dad, and b) I’ve met Mani a couple of times over the years and he is great bloke & can be relied upon to give a great interview.

The singer presents an even greater problem. As the line-up is so far all male, I did consider a female vocalist – Martha Reeves, Dusty Springfield,, Shara Nelson, even Dolly Parton – all have sublime voices, but I’m not sure they’d work with rest of the band. Grace Slick might work but she's gone down in my estimation since I'd found out she had rejoined the band when Jefferson Airplane mutated in Starship.

Other contenders: Frank Black (Pixies) but you’d need Kim Deal was well; Mick Jagger in his prime but I fear he’s sullied the image by not having the good grace to retire; Morrissey perhaps but then it would really just be The Smiths reformed.

I like my frontmen to have swagger, which rules out the wet-boys fronting most recent bands. Everything they’ve done since the first album has been unremarkable, but really I do think Liam Gallagher is a good frontman – he has that arrogance – unfortunately Oasis are the band of choice of a generation of louts so I'm not picking him. Before my brain melts entirely, I'm going to pick Arthur Lee (Love) - he had a distinctive voice and was a bit of a lunatic, not afraid of a bit of self-mythologising.

So there you have it (eventually). Who would you pick?

The Ultimate Supergroup (pt 1)

This morning on the constantly awful Nick Campbell radio show on Radio 5 (why do we listen to this?), they had a feature on the ideal supergroup. I'm not sure who had conducted this survey or who they'd asked but the results were as follows:

  • Singer - Freddie Mercury

  • Guitar - Jimi Hendrix

  • Keyboards - Elton John

  • Drums - Phil Collins

With the exception of Hendrix, I'd rather gouge my eyes out than have to listen to that lot.

I hate Queen with a passion and am bewildered by their popularity. So far nobody has been able to explain their appeal to me satisfactorily. I've however heard some frankly ridiculous conspiracy theories from fans who refused to believe Mercury was homosexual and thought it was all lies spread to discredit him. Discredit him from what and how I don't really understand and it would suggest that a band called Queen attracts a surprisingly high number of homophobes.

Phil Collins I thought wasn't particularly famous for being a good drummer, just for being a drummer who became a singer (and after they treated Peter Gabriel appallingly).

Elton - I don't mind a couple of his old songs (Daniel, Rocket Man) but he's still wouldn't get in my dream team and hasn't done anything decent for decades.

Jimi, I've no problem with staying in the line-up, but I think it does him a disservice to just have him as a guitarist - he was more than just a brilliant guitarist, he was a great singer and frontman.

And why isn't there a bass player in this group? Unless the supergroup is being modelled on The White Stripes, I think a bass player is essential - the rhythm section is incomplete without one.

So having rubbished this selection, who would I have instead? This requires further thought and I'll be later with my answer.

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The tyranny of black shoes

It may be my imagination, but people seem to be dressing better these days. That may not necessarily be a good thing as it may be a sign of rabid consumerism, our increasingly disposable society, putting style before substance, signally the end of society as we know it. But putting aside any serious debate for now, one element of this better dressing that stands out as that we seem to be ridding ourselves of what I’ve termed ‘the tyranny of black shoes’.

In the past I’ve seen many a lovely outfit ruined by an inappropriate black shoe or two. A few years ago I remember going to an engagement party where the girl of the moment was wearing a summery pink and white outfit, finished off with a clumping great pair of black high heels. It quite ruined her look and the image stuck with me (I wouldn’t make such unkind comments really but she was merely an acquaintance and I was there as the plus one of someone else, and it was an awful do anyway).

These days I doubt that would happen as the shops are awash with shoes of every hue, and so much the better for it. Black shoes are a wardrobe staple, yes, but they are not the best choice in every case. If you have to just buy one pair of shoes (the average number of pairs owned by women in the UK is 16, so some people must only have one pair because I know plenty with more than 16), I may even be so bold as to venture that tan might be a better choice – it really does go with pretty much everything (as my frequently reheeled tan boots will testify)

Whilst you still have to tread carefully in white heels to avoid the WAG-look (I’m assuming you do want to avoid the WAG look?), other coloured shoes are now perfectly acceptable. I remember feeling slight risqué buying a pair of red shoes a few years back, but now everyone wears them. Walking around at lunchtime today, I spotted pink ballet shoes, blue heels, green sandals, gold flip flips A VIP visiting our office last week was wearing yellow shoes. Black no longer reigns supreme.

Living Online

The Internet really has revolutionised the way I live. I order my groceries online, email is definitely my preferred means of communication these days and some weeks I feel I’ve spent longer online ‘talking’ to people I’ve never met, via blogs and discussion forums than I have to actual people. I’ve got this blog, a Flickr account, a half-hearted Facebook entry and for some unfathomable reason, umpteen email addresses.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I spend too long online.

So what do I do about this?

Firstly, I’ve gone and got my self a freelance writing job with my favourite site RetroToGo. So not only do I get to indulge my passion for living the past further, I now spend even longer online researching stuff.

Secondly, yesterday I decided to revive the other blog I started last year, about my shameful passion for detective programmes. I don’t expect anyone to read – it isn’t very interesting to anyone except me.

Not exactly the best solution but I was starting to feel a bit unfulfilled recently and regrets over quitting the gallery work were starting to creep in, so at least now I’ve got a few more projects to keep me busy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Overblown Emotional Response

I have seen a bit of the first Harry Potter film one Christmas and it didn't seem that bad in an easy-to-watch-slumped-on-the-sofa-with-the-family-at-Christmas kind of way, but I have never read any of the books. It might partly be snobbery - there are so many books out there that I should have read that I don't have time to spare reading kids books. But mainly, its that I have no interest in wizards.

But I don't really care that other adults read them. I'm not one of those people who think that anyone over 14 caught reading a HP book should be sentenced to ten years hard labour and a crash course in Dostoevsky. Its good in this digital age to see that people can still be excited by books. Its just not for me.

I'm not even going to pass judgement on those people who camped out over night to be the first to buy it or the American girl I heard on the news who was on holiday for the weekend in London but said she'd be sitting in her hotel to read the book as it was more important. That's their choice - it wouldn't be mine.

But now we come to my problem with this.

I read yesterday that ChildLine is concerned about their switchboards being jammed with children unable to cope with end of Harry Potter. ChildLine provides an invaluable service for children who are being abused or bullied or feel they can't talk to anyone they know about their feelings, and I'm certain I read recently that the service was under threat due to underfunding. It will be a disgrace if their time and resources are wasted on kids upset over the end of book, if the lines are blocked dealing with calls about this so that a child who is in need of real help can't get through.

I'm sure many children will be genuinely upset if their favourite spell-caster is bumped off at the end (or falls nobly on his own wand), but surely this is something that their parents should be able to console them over? And if they really fear it is going to have this effect on them, why on earth let them read it in the first place? But I suspect in many cases it will be the parents encouraging this over-the-top response (like that woman who claimed her 4 year old had depression because she didn't get in their choice of school who was blatently using her child's feelings to gain attention for herself because really 4 year olds move on pretty quickly when it comes to friends). I think this will be an occassion for great one-upmanship at middleclass dinner parties and school gates, parents competing to see whose little darling was most upset - rather than distracting them with a Playstation and a bag of sweets, which for once does seem like a good option.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Personality Crisis

Apparently, I am a Considerate Artist. According to another of those online personality surveys anyway (as I spotted on the lovely Girl Next Door's blog).

Why am I such a sucker for these things? The thrill of nodding to myself and the computer monitor, thinking ‘Its so accurate’ and feeling slightly self-satisfied (especially with this result – an artist – how cool is that?)

But then the cynical side of me (or according to this survey, the part of me that “likes to look at all sides of a situation before making a judgment”) thinks that maybe it is rubbish. After all it is just based on my answers so perhaps that is just how I like to see myself and I answered accordingly. Secondly, I doubt that any of the descriptions would have been negative – if I answered differently, I doubt I’d come out as an Inconsiderate Drone.

The advice this one offered on how I might improve was pretty accurate however -
“don't be quick to dismiss the praise of others” and “you should try to be more outgoing in social situations, even when they make you uncomfortable”. But then I know this already – I’ve lived with myself for 32 years.

Oddly, according to these results, I am fairly low on femininity but even lower on masculinity, which I suppose is a relief, but does that make me genderless? I'll have you know I'm wearing a very pretty dress today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I’ve just discovered the salad bar, Tossed, on St Martins Lane. It may well have been there ages but its new to me anyway. The concept is simple – you pick what you want as the base of your salad (lettuce, mixed leaves, pasta), hand it over to the assistant who tips it into a large bowl, you pick out extra ingredients you want to add to it from the salad bar and your choice of dressing and they toss it for you. Its put in a container, you pay for it and take it away to eat.

A good idea in theory, especially for someone who loves salads as much as I do, but in practice it wasn’t quite right. The servers were pretty impatient so I didn’t really feel I had time to browse and make up my mind what I wanted. Which led to a rather random selection of things that I like but I’m not sure quite work together:

Mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes (I like tomatoes!), broccoli (OH hates broccoli so I have to grab every opportunity to eat it when he’s not there), walnuts (the woman in front of me seemed to know what she was doing and she had walnuts so I just copied), Roquefort dressing (very bad for me I know but again I panicked with my choice – actually it went well with the walnuts).

It made a change from my usual lunches but there were too many walnuts towards the end (do they sink?) and the dressing got a bit sickly after a while. Also I’m still very hungry!

I think the problem might be with me, and the British attitude in general towards food & customer service. I am woefully indecisive so these things are always problematic for me. I need time to consider the options, make my choices, dither, without the man behind tutting and the server banging the salad bowl impatiently. In this country, we are used to ‘getting what we are given’ ‘liking it or lumping it’ when it comes food. We don’t have the culture of requesting the way you want your sandwich made, the way they do in America. And actually, that was bizarrely probably the only thing I didn’t like about New York – you could have whatever you wanted to eat, but you had to make that decision yourself.

I will probably return to Tossed, but next time I'll go back with a plan, a salad strategy.

Make a Donation?

I heard on Newsnight last night about the Government’s plans to change the laws on organ donation – basically to make everyone a donor unless they choose not to be, rather than the other way round as it is now.

Now, I understand their reasoning for this, many lives can be saved if there were more donors. There is no hidden agenda, but still I find this rather alarming. Don’t get me, I would have absolutely no qualms about my organs being used after my death if they could be of help to someone. Equally, I can’t foresee a situation where I would prevent the use of the organs of my nearest and dearest, again if something good can come from something bad, I’m all for it.

But not everyone feels this way. Transplants go against many people’s religious beliefs, some believe the body needs to be intact for us to move onto the next life. Other people just don’t like the thought of themselves or their loved ones being cut up. Under these new rules though, we would be able to ‘opt out’ of being a donor. I think this is where I have a problem with it – unless we do otherwise, our bodies aren’t our own, they belong to the authorities! I don't think for a minute that we'll all be subjected to weird experiments by Frankenstein-like figures, but I think this is taking Government control a step too far.

And the choice of language here seems wrong to me. At work, I hear the phrases ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ frequently in relation to mailing lists, email newsletters and data protection. Strangely though in the world of data protection, it is now considered best practice to make such things ‘opt-in’. It is considered very bad form and legally precarious to just assume someone has ‘opted in’. But if this new law comes in, our bodies may have less protection than our email addresses!

Surely a big campaign to encourage more voluntary donation would be better? And in a grown-up move, I've decided that I will actually register as a donor now myself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What would Dick Whittington say?

I'm feeling uneasy about Boris Johnson running for Mayor of London. I think he might win. I worry people will vote for him for the same reason they won't vote for Gordon Brown - because he is funny, a loveable buffoon. Or at least that is what his public persona is, known to most from his appearances on 'Have I Got News For You' more than any political standing. He must be intelligent underneath that haphazard exterior, but he hasn't shown much of it to the public.

I'm not a huge supporter of Ken Livingstone - he has his faults, but he is inextricably linked with London, his spent his life and work here and I don't doubt that he wants to do the best by our city. Boris is MP for Henley on Thames, a constituency that is far cry from the diversity of London, a job he plans to keep as well as being mayor. He has also failed to vote on a number of key London issues in parliament recently so hardly seems that interested in the city.

He might prove me wrong and have a number of wonderful policies to rid London of its problems, but I'm not convinced. And I think, once more, the cult of celebrity may prevail.

Bloggers, We Have Company!

I read yesterday that David Beckham now has a blog. I'm not going to publish its address because frankly I doubt it will be as good as mine ;) (or yours for that matter). And his will be ghost-written - mine isn't.

I bet he has more readers than me already though.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Aesthetics of Death

Warning, a major rant follows.

As mentioned previously, I was rather concerned as to why the abduction of the little girl in Nigeria received relatively little coverage compared to the Madelaine McCann story. Thankfully, she has been returned to her family but that is besides the point. Yes, the little girl lives in Nigeria but her father is British and I understood she is a British citizen too. Plus, it was actually known what had happened to her, a terrible event, whereas as far as any of us really know, MM may have just wandered out of their apartment and fallen into a ditch/the sea (as I've read speculated elsewhere). Then there was the whole political angle about multinationals in Nigeria - plenty of stuff in the story worthy of coverage. But it wasn't given many colunm inches at all.

Then today's main stories. A beautiful girl connected to a posh school was murdered by a drug-addicted man also connected to the same posh school. She was a fashion-designer and alot of the print was about how beautiful she was, and her father said it was her downfall. This is debateable as the young man was having delusions so the same fate may have befallen her if she was ugly, but you can bet it wouldn't have got the same amount of coverage if she had been.

Next, on leaving work, I saw the newspaper heads ' Television Singer Murdered'. Who I wondered, struggling to think of many television singers - Lesley Garrett? Jane MacDonald? Howard from the Halifax adverts? No, it turned out it was a girl who had been on Stars in their Eyes. The news of her, her mother and brother's bodies being found should alone have been enough but the London papers decided to take this spin on the story, as if her appear on some television show somehow made it all the more tragic.

In the same way whenever there is the death of some young woman, whether by tragic accident, NHS cock-up or at the hands of a crazed ex-boyfriend, more often than not it seems she will have been a model or described as wanting to be a model (even when, not wanting to talk ill of the dead, they frankly had no chance of actually being a model). As if the loss of a potential model is somehow worse than if she'd wanted to be a nurse, teacher or even a secretary.

What happens to the victims who've never entered a televised talent show, are ugly and never wanted to be famous? Is the crime against them somehow lesser? It certainly receives less coverage. And do the newspaper reading public 'enjoy' these stories of death of the beautiful/talented, taking a voyeuristic pleasure in their demise, like Hitchcock making his beautiful blondes suffer?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Some Questions

  • Why was the little girl kidnapped in Nigeria not given the same press coverage as Madelaine McCann? Could it be because she wasn't white?
  • If you go to a wedding whilst unmarried but in a long-term relationship, you will spend all day fending off questions about when you will get married/why you aren't already married. Why don't people mind their own business?
  • Isn't Jamie Murray so much nicer than his brother?
  • I don't like heavy metal/rock but really enjoyed watching Metallica at Live Earth on the internet. Why is that?
  • My window box flowers are looking sickly. Is it because they've had too much rain or is it because I didn't water them at the weekend?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wedding Woes - the Jewellery

I need a simple bead necklace to go with my dress for the wedding. It should have been easy. It wasn't. I looked in every shop in the West End and no avail. You'd have thought a simple, elegant string of black beads would have been easy to find. But there were none to be had. Not without dancing plastic unicorns or disks the size of my hand attached to them. Not the graceful look I was aiming for.

I did used to have the right necklace but I fiddled with it too much and it snapped. Of course, I left it until the last day to try to find a replacement, but as I've said, I thought it would be easy. So now I've packed every necklace I own in the hope that one will pass muster tomorrow. Otherwise I will have to hope that my bare neck will pass as alluring, as if I'd done it on purpose, rather than been let down by shops again.

Wedding Woes - the Card

Its the first of my weddings tomorrow (as a guest that is). Today, I had to buy a card, so I went to Paperchase. It should have been easy. Paperchase has never let me down before, with its range of modern, tasteful and inoffensive designs. But not this time.

There was a woeful lack of choice - just 3 wedding cards. Traditional wedding cards have been squeezed out. They are now competing for shelf-space with same-sex marriage cards (Mr and Mr, To the Two Brides etc). Now I don't begrudge the civil ceremony partnerships (to give it the official title, not much used on the greeting cards though) and I can see why Hallmark et al must have been rubbing their hands in glee at the possibility of the whole new range of cards needed.

But that wasn't all.

There also wedding invite acceptance cards, wedding 'regret' cards (none of which had the honesty to say 'I'm not coming because I'm going broke with all these weddings') and a 'Thank You for being a great Flower Girl' card. Then worst of all was the 'Woo Hoo, the Divorce Came Through' card. Is there really a market for this? Would a 'card left blank for your own message' not suffice for this occasion?

Anniversaries however had twice as much space so perhaps I should have just waited and send them a card for their anniversary?

Thursday, July 05, 2007


If I was to be one of the Seven Dwarves today, it would definitely be Sleepy. An impromptu night down the pub with an old friend last night did not make for a good night’s sleep and keeping awake today has been a struggle. However, my Dwarf, on most other days would definitely be Sneezy.

I have an allergy to something and am constantly sneezing. I haven’t actually taken steps to find out what it is I’m allergic to yet or bought any medicine (its so expensive!) but I must soon as it really is getting ridiculous. My sneezes are pretty strong for a pretty small woman and today, one was so powerful it moved my seat forward a couple of inches.

The thing is I used to quite like sneezing, when it was a rare occurrence (is that very odd?). I found it quite thrilling in a small way. But now I sneeze about every ten minutes, I’m less keen on it and frankly bored with it.

I don’t think it is just regular pollen hayfever as I have it in the winter too. It happens more in London than anywhere else and has just come about in the last couple of years, worsening this year. It might be dust, but I’m thinking it might be something more exotic.

I’m hoping its an allergy to paper.

Admittedly I’d have to give up reading books and my beloved Sunday supplements, but it would be useful for work, if suddenly I had to be excused from certain tasks because of all of the paper involved. Its not that I’m lazy, but ours is quite somewhere off being a paperless office and I regularly have the contents of a small forest on my desk. So many bits of paper - its a terrible waste of trees so I'm thinking my allergy might hasten our move to a more digital age.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Love-Hate: The Shield

We don’t watch much television in our house. I don’t mean that in a bohemian ‘we don’t own a television, we’d rather sit around the piano’ kind of way. What I mean is that we don’t just mindlessly watch television all evening regardless of what is on and I don’t remember the last time I watch something on ITV (I’ve considered uninstalling it).

But what we do is get obsessed with a certain programme and watch whole series of it on DVD. It probably started with the Sopranos, but to date has taken in The Wire, 24 (just Seasons 1 & 2), Law & Order (in all its forms), Homocide Life on the Streets, Spaced, some West Wing, Black Books, The Mighty Boosh, Waking the Dead and Prison Break.

It has also involved watching the first three series of The Shield. This wasn’t by choice – the OH loaned The Wire to someone at his work who in turn gave us The Shield. Hardly a fair swap, but we watch it anyway.

The Shield, make no mistake, is dreadful. Especially after the intricate plots, sharp dialogue and general believability of The Sopranos and The Wire, it is pretty puerile stuff. But, it is addictive (like many things that are bad for you – like smack and Haribos as Pete Docherty will tell you). Yes, the main character looks like a baked bean , a very angry baked bean wearing a too-tight t-shirt, the plot is full of holes, the dialogue usually laughable, but I’ve found myself wanting more of it, if only because we’ve ran out of other things to watch.

So today, I bought Season 4 on DVD. I had considered buying a stack of arthouse films to hide it amongst to save my shame at the checkout but in the end just made sure there was nobody else in the queue when I bought it. But now I'm looking forward to getting home, curling up on our cosy sofa and shouting at the television about how rubbish The Shield is, what a dreadful actor Michael Chiklis and how unbelieveable the latest plot turn is.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Soup, Soup, A Tasty Soup

Due to bad weather and the on-set of a cold, I've not done much this weekend, except make soup! Not what you'd expect in the height of summer, but there you go.

It started with my sister's Weight Watchers No Points Vegetable Soup. No, I'm not dieting and nor to my mind should my sister be at Weight Watchers but that is a separate issue - I just wanted an easy-to-make soup.

2 medium carrots, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
500ml stock,
1/2 small green/white cabbage, shredded
100g green beans
1tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp dried basil & 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 courgette, diced


Spray a large saucepan with low fat cooking spray, heat. Sauté the carrots, onion, and garlic over a low heat untill softened, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, cabbage, beans, tomato puree, basil , oregano and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or untill the beans are tender.

Stir in the courgette and heat for 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.

I serve it along with a huge chunk of baguette which completely negates the zero points factor!

Then I discovered a recipe for a Tomato and Courgette Soup on the back of my jar of Basil, so I made that today.


1 onion, chopped
150g courgette, grated
1 can of chopped tomatoes
550ml vegetable stock
2 tsp of basil

Soften the onion in olive oil. Stir in the courgettes and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes and basil. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve, again preferably with a load of bread!

It was very easy to make even for a cooking novice like me and delicious. Perhaps now I'll stop spending a good proportion of my wages on soup from Eat every week and make my own more often.

Soup-eating is the only good thing about this awful weather.