Monday, July 30, 2007

Ghosts of the past

Recently, at work, I've been going through books from the beginning of my 'Office' (which is how I think I'll refer to it from now on.). The Office has been around since the late 1800s, so these books are, to American-me, OLD. I've been going through them, counting the people involved in the Office at the time. A fairly important anniversairy of the Office is this year, and they wanted to do something special. So I've been going through the books, counting (and believe me, it's painful) the numbers of people in various catagories so they can be published and everyone can marvel about how the numbers have increased and blahblahblah.

I think they're doing it completely wrong.

I'm probably the only person in 2007 that knows that the guy who came first on the list at the beginning? He died in 1906. I noticed. His name wasn't there any more. And there was a HUGE dip in numbers during the First World War. One of the little notices said that they were wishing someone well, as he wouldn't be able to attend a meeting as his battilion was advancing to the front. Or the guy who was killed when the Germans torpedoed the boat his was on. Or the one in Navel Intelligence, who was killed in action.

I'm only up to about 1920, but there's just so much there! So much that you can't just see in the numbers. What was it like to live in 1899? Did they think the world was going to end at the turn of the century like we did? How did people get through the First World War? I've got the Depression (although I don't think it was as big a deal here as it was in the States) and the Second World War coming up, and I don't know if I'll be able to handle the dip in numbers again. There's just so much more to it than numbers on a bit of paper. It's funny how history creeps up on you sometimes.


Friday, July 27, 2007


I haven't yet managed to actually make anything more complex than a sock with the knitting (although, to be fair, socks are quite complicated. Lots of little fiddly bits.). I attempted Askew from Knitty, but that turned look! A big squirrel! Isn't it cute!

And there have been a few other things that I've liked the look of, but nothing really screamed YOU MUST KNIT ME NOW to me as I surfed the net or paged through IK. Yes, there were some thing that I thought, 'Hm. That's lovely. I'll have to knit that. At some unspecified point in time.' And then, oh and then. Then Knitty released their surprise patterns. And I've fallen in love. With this:

It's the Emerald Seas pattern by Hilary Engebretson, and I adore it. I adore it to little, bitty pieces, and want to immediately cast it on my needles and knit for a week straight and not go to work because I want it right now this second. However, I can't afford the yarn, especially with my plans for August - much travelling and dressing up like a ninja to hit my friends.

::sigh:: Life is just so hard sometimes. :P


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cable cable bo-babel

One of the things I find frustrating about knitting is that, well, I don't really know anyone who lives near me that knits. Most of this is because the majority of my friends are guys, and although there is photographic proof that there are men out there that knit none of my guys have been bitten by the woolly bug. Instead, they just look on with amusement when I whip out whatever I'm working on at our dnd sessions on Saturdays. So there are no experienced people around that I can ask when I'm unsure if I'm doing something right, or pretty sure that I'm doing something wrong.

Since I pretty much learned to knit from several books and being shown the knit stitch at college, this makes learning new techniques pretty interesting. Pretty interesting in that 'Someday, I will look back on this and laugh' way as I constantly have to destroy what I've done because I can't figure out why it's not working. The first pair of socks I made, I ended up having to make three socks to get two that, you know, actually matched. The second pair? I did the cuff on the first one approximated 26,579 times before figuring out what was going wrong. Which makes me a bit hesitant to attempt this:

This is Fifi from French Girl Knits. Now, I like a challenge, but those cables? They terrify me. And I still haven't decided if I actually like the top or not. There's something funny about it cutting off mid-boob. Is it supposed to make them look more pointy? Because that's what it seems to do in the photo. It's the current Sexy Knitters Club KAL (knit-a-long, for you non-knitters) and I think that I might have been so excited to be able to post pictures (before my camera died, anyway) and ask questions that I had a teensy MUST JOIN NOW reaction. So now I have the pattern and the yarn (Rowan Calmer, it's nice. Very stretchy. The yarn balls remind me of those squeezy stress balls.) but still haven't decided to knit it yet.

Partly because I'm a bit stuck on socks right now, and partly haven't made anything this big yet. I tried the Askew I mentioned earlier, and had to frog the whole bloody thing because I'm still getting the whole concept of row gauge. It looks like it could be a dress. Not so sexy. But mostly, I don't know about knitting it because of the cables. I'm working on some socks as a birthday gift right now that have cables in, and it's taken me SO LONG to figure them out without helpful pictures and help that the thought of trying to cable over more than one stitch freaks me out! So we'll see how we go. I have enough sock yarn to protect me for months, so maybe I can just ignore it. It'll go away if I do that, right?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Dripdripdrop little April showers

This is becoming ridiculous. It has been raining here for three months. I'm completely serious. There has not been ONE single sunny day where it was just sunny and nice and warm. We've had humid and overcast and warm, and pissing-down-rain overcast and warm, and torrential downpour with sunbreaks (and this is the only other place in the world, besides the North-West, where that word comes up in actual conversation), and warm and sunny before noon and then grey and drizzly after noon, and, my personal favourite, that week in early June that was so cold and rainy I actually considered breaking my black wool overcoat out from winter storage because it was just that cold.

And now they're saying that we'll have more of it.

The only way that I can survive winter in this country, in this city where everything is a shade of grey and only the buses and telephone boxes have colour, is the summer. For the last five years, it has been beautiful. Last summer, London languished under blue skies for months. It was so hot on the tube people were fainting. Summer in England is really like those old paintings - hazy, with people on rivers in boats or sheep eating grass under huge spreading trees in fields. It's sitting in a park, eating an ice-lolly, or trying desperately to find the one pub with both an outdoor space to sit AND good beer.

This horrible, crap weather that does not end - it's not summer. And it needs to go away, because if it doesn't I don't know if I can survive the winter this year.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

24 hour party people (or maybe just 5)

Matt and I ended up at the O'Neill's in Leicester Square at 3am last Saturday after a crazy night of live music and too much dancing. I'd done my usualy Saturday dnd thang, and was invited by A to go out for drinks with him and his brother and his brother's friends. B, and D (ha! Now all I need is for a dnd friend who's name begins with a C, and I'll have the beginning of the alphabet!) came along as well, which made a fantastic evening. It was wonderful, especially as I hadn't been out dancing since visiting Seattle last September for my best friend's wedding.

However now? My calves hate me. They hate me so much, they've decided to stop working in protest and I'm hobbling around like an old woman. At least my neck recovered more quickly from the tiny bit of head(cough) banging that happened...


Monday, July 16, 2007

A (small) rant, just for you Monday.

1. If you give one of my projects to someone else, no, I will not continue to do it.

2. No. If I CUT IT OUT WITH SCISSORS and TAPE IT TOGETHER, it will not look good enough for the presentation. Spend the £5 at Kinko's.

3. It does not matter what I press, I cannot print from inside that application. No. Turning it off then on again does not help. This has been happening for 3 months. No, the last twenty-seven billion times I turned it off, then on again haven't helped either.

Somedays I just want to stab something in the eye. With a pencil. With hearts on.


Monday, July 09, 2007

One of these things is not like the other...

So, two things that really don't go together well? Proofing a paper about legal issues while listening to Seether, Sevendust, Disturbed and others in a similar vein.

"Yes, I'm sure 'litigation' is spelled 'DIE!!!!' but maybe that's not entirely appropriate?"

Friday, July 06, 2007

More politics

So. Bush commuted Libby's sentence. You should watch this. Please. It's about 10 minutes long. He says it better than I ever could.

After you watch it? Visit here, and write to the people that represent you in Congress. I did. In Washington State, they're all Dems so maybe they'll be more interested in listening. I've included the text of my letter to Senator Murray below. If you like it, feel free to copy it. Although you might want to take out the first bit of the last paragraph if you live in the US.

"Dear Senator Murray,

I've selected the topic above, because I believe it to be the closest option offered to what I'm writing you about. I do need your help with a Federal Agency, and it is one that I don't believe I've had any control over or say in as an American citizen since the year 2000.

I need your help with the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. I need your help to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

I can't do this by myself and you, along with your colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives, are the only people who can help me do it. You are my voice in the government, and I am asking you, please, raise your voice. President George W. Bush and his government, with the pardoning of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, have finally passed a point which they cannot return from.

They lied to us about Saddam Hussein's connection to the tragic events of 9/11. They lied to us to drag us into what has always appeared to me to be the beginning of an endless conflict in the Middle East. They've destroyed any respect our country holds in the eyes of the world, painting us as bullies and liars who are willing to do anything to get out way. They refuse to act on global warming and environmental protection, destroying my country for my children and grandchildren. And with 'Scooter' Libby's pardon, they have definitively said that what the American people think about American laws does not matter.

The address I have provided with this form is my voting address. As an American living abroad, I feel that what little ability I have as a citizen to influence my government is further diluted by distance. Please help me. Please help the American people throw off an administration that has clearly proven it does not have our best interests in mind. We need your help. I need your help. I hope that as the voice of your people, you will be willing to speak for me.

Yours Sincerely,
Brooke A. Balza"

It is absolutely our responsibility to do something, and if we don't no one will. Stand up and demand to be counted.

p.s. I had a long post about screwed up knitting planned. Isn't this better? ^_^

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chocolatey but burning

Matt and I met up with several of my friends last Friday for drinks as it had been my birthday. We met up off Carnaby Street, and had planned to go from there.

The only problem is, and this is something I seem to magically forget every time I'm putting together a night out, is that...well...Matt and I don't really go out that much. In the year (!!!) that we've lived in London now, we have been to a total of two nightclubs. And that includes the new nightclub that we went to on Friday. We know of one good bar, and several more good pubs, but we don't really know any particularly wonderful places to go. So we just sort of wander from place to place, and end up in dives or crappy bars.

However, on Friday I had a blast. Simply because of the company. All of my girlfriends (yes, the two of them) couldn't come, one of my actor friends was on tour as were our friends that were his drinking buddies, but almost all my dnd group made it and so did one of my old re-enactment friends. And it was fantastic. It's been quite some time since I've really done anything for my birthday, as Matt and I kept moving and not knowing anyone, and it was great to go out with people I liked and drink strange drinks - like the cocktail I had with chocolate and tabasco sauce. Thanks for coming guys!