- Broadband. We have *finally* achieved broadband status in my office, after having to deal with a no-name ISP that umm-ed and aah-ed every day on whether it would allow us to connect or not. We are now ADSL'd to the hilt and my Outlook Express polls all 12 email accounts in under 3 seconds. It also means that uploading to my blog from work takes a hell of a lot less time with a lot less keyboard-slamming on my behalf. Passers-by on the high street beneath my window now enjoy a highly reduced likelihood of having my computer flying out and landing on their head.
- Critique partners. I have never met Nell, my CP, even though we've been working together for about three years. In that time we've shared illnesses (of both ourselves and our loved ones), hospitalizations (ditto), submissions of work, crises of faith (mine), rejections of work, job dramas, requests for work (Nell's), and even a few wonderful sales (1 of mine, 2 of Nell's). We share moans, happiness, hopes, wishes, gripes, ideas, plans, stories of woe, and dreams, and on a number of occasions I have been known to seek solace in her knowledge of relationships. This week I bought and sent her a romance by one of her favourite authors because all her local outlets were sold out, and as thanks she sent me by return another romance (signed!) with one of her gorgeous new author notecards. We've already got each other's Christmas presents under our respective trees, and flowers have been sent and received by both of us on numerous occasions in recognition of birthdays and book sales. Nell, I frequently thank God (and the eHarlequin bulletin boards) for you!
- iTunes. So easy. So quick. So hip! The other night I browsed for and bought a bunch of songs than I had lost over the years. They were on cassette tapes I listened to repeatedly in the late nineties (or thereabouts -- essentially, my teen years) on my battered 'mega bass' Sony walkman that I hand-decorated with glittery nail varnish. The songs had usually been recorded off CDs I'd borrowed from friends or taped straight off the radio (I became an expert at hitting the pause button before the DJ could resume speaking -- if you hit pause instead of stop you didn't get loud click-off noises). As there is no godly way I know of getting something off a cassette and on to a CD, let alone an iPod, I bought almost all these songs off iTunes this week. Some were quite random and probably quite hard to come by in the shops, but for a beauteous £8.69 (or thereabouts) I managed to create for myself a no-skipping-required playlist that I would never have found on any compilation CD: "Naked" by Reef / "Runaground" by James / "If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next" by Manic Street Preachers / "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers / "If God Will Send His Angels" by U2 / "Kiss the Rain" by Billie Myers / "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies / "Higher Than Reason" by Unbelievable Truth / "Secret Smile" by Semisonic / "Driftwood" by Travis / "Sometimes" by James / "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush... *However*-- iTunes is still missing a lot of tracks (lots of notable exceptions in the movie score section), and among those I am waiting for to complete my walkmanesque playlist are "Come Back To What You Know" by Embrace and "Drinking in LA" by Bran Van 3000 (the former of which could quite possibly become the title for an idea I have been brewing on recently...). Apple -- you still have some work to do!
- Sainsburys. Every one of their own brand products in the health and beauty department is guaranteed fully cruelty-free by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. So when we stopped off at a moosive Sainsburys in Oxford the other night, I stocked up on shampoo, body wash, hand soap, bubble bath, etc. I especially couldn't resist the Cookie Dough shower gel. Yes, it's from the kids range, but *you* try smelling it and then putting it back on the shelf.
So... there. I know I'm about a month late for Thanksgiving, but I felt like showing my gratitude for a few things, whatever they may be. Obviously I'm grateful for other things too, but do you *really* want me to continue...?