One of those multi-tasking days today, Jenny still ill so worked at home while she languished (drew characters from Fruits Basket and later, when she felt better, continued with her 39-slide (so far) power point presentation of same). Carpenter came round to continue with shelves (have lived with asymmetric hole in wall for 15 years) and created dust, needed endless cups of tea with two sugars, etc. Did my analysis of articles in our manuscript tracking system to see if they would be good enough to transmit to the planned production tracking system. And it is Cathy’s 15th birthday. I read someone else’s blog today on the rss feed: he and his young son are expecting a new baby to be born today. Reminded me of 15 years ago. Cathy really liked her presents, especially Pride and Prejudice which came out yesterday on DVD, timely delivery (paid extra for the first class mail) today from Amazon ensured it was wrapped and in her hands by the evening when she was home from school and Malcolm from work. She is studying the book for GCSE and finished it a couple of days ago, making the DVD even more apposite. I see Frank Wilson has nearly finished War and Peace. Well done Frank. And now, good night.

Blogging is good for you

I am no fan of pop psychology or instant polling, and even less of Big Brother, but I have to agree with these conclusions on London Underground’s blog

"It’s official – Blogging can make you happy!On the 2nd February the Evening Standard published an article titled "Unhappy? Time to begin a blog" with the following observation:"Revealing your innermost feelings on the internet is good for you, psychologists said today. A study of the phenomenon of blogs – or online diaries – found people writing them feel happier and more organised."Feeling that you have a forum for expressing yourself can make a huge difference to your psychological well-being," said psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, a Big Brother analyst." "

I’ve been having trouble with the link to the whole post, but I’ll attempt to do it here.

The London Underground blog also has some nice examples of the current fashion for Google mash-ups: maps of the underground with a music theme (each line is one style of music and each station on the line a musician or group), fashion theme, etc.

Today there is a competition to vote for Britain’s "most loved design icon" (?!) — but nice pics of cat’s eyes, mini (skirt and car), and various others, including inevitably the Routemaster Bus.

Elaine Viets

Finally finished "Murder between the covers" by Elaine Viets. Crazy that it has taken so long as it is one of those books designed to be read in one sitting. This is the second of the "dead end job" series, and though I like it, I don’t like it as much as the earlier "Francesca Vierling" series. The premise of the "dead end job" series is that Helen, the protagonist, is escaping from having to pay alimony to a deadbeat ex-husband, so to aviod being traced she has to take the kind of jobs that pay in cash. Last book she was an assistant in an upmarket clothes shop, in this one she works in a bookstore. The premise is fresh, the writing digestible and the humour witty. However, the plots are pure formula — murder occurs, each character is suspected in turn until at the end the last permutation is revealed as the actual baddie. One reason I like Elaine Viets’ books is their authenticity. Helen’s jobs are jobs that Elaine V has done herself (according to her blurb). Francesca Vierling is a columnist for a St Louis paper, and I just love that character and plot: FV is an "old style" writer who goes out to do interviews and is interested in local characters and stories. The newspaper where she works has moved into the "modern age" of marketing, focus groups, etc. The books cover this conflict of the old and new, office politics and values, in a realistic and compelling way — again with plenty of wit. I find Francesca’s attitudes and values very supportive. EV’s other interest in this series (apart from the murder plot) is the "rehabbers", people who buy up and restore old houses in St Louis. The murders in each book intersect with the rehab theme, and Francesca solves them, sometimes more by luck than judgement, by the end of the book. Again, the murder is the formulaic element but the context of the murders is so well depicted that I find these books addictive. I was grateful to the Dorothy L mailing list (on which EV is a generous and active member) for alerting me to these novels. I do love books set in the publishing world. EV has also written another series of books about a "mystery shopper", which I haven’t yet embarked upon.