Friday, August 31, 2007


My apologies for the last of posts for the previous week. I can only blame my inner geek, who took over and ran rampant over the last weekend.

You may have noticed a distict lack of knitting-related content over the last month or so, and there was a very good reason. I was sewing. I was in fact, sewing by hand, a hakama (samurai trousers) and a gi (samurai top). Now, why did I do this? Because I am a much bigger geek than any of you realized.

Last weekend, I went to this. And it was fantastic. I ran around in the woods, I hit people with fake swords, many people mistook me for a boy for one of the first times in my life (you really couldn't tell, especially when I had my helmet on. Layers of black leather and black linen? No way to tell what I was at all!), I got entirely too drunk on the evil that is mead and fell over, and generally had an absolutely fantastic time.

It did, however, take me until now to recover. I think I got abotu 10 hours of sleep the entire weekend, from Friday to Monday, and we drank entirely too much two out of the three nights. But oh, I'm going back. Now every time I stand up I automatically look around for all the things I need to take to the loo with me. know...someone might jump me and I'll need to defend myself. With my rubber sword.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Little boxes of goodness

Recently, I've been making a really big effort to take my lunches to work with me. This might not be considered newsworthy or interesting to most people, but for me - someone who hates the idea of just having a sandwich for lunch with some crisps (chips, for those of you back home) - taking lunch to work is an effort. It means thinking about what I want to eat all week on my precious weekend time, shopping for said food, and usually then cooking something.

However, I've also started right in on a new obsession. Bento boxes. And me being myself, someone who adores Japanese food, I'm attempting to create them using mostly Japanese food. Probably not as the Japanese would actually cook them, but as Japanese as I can get from the various stores in my area. So this week I've been eating onigiri with furikake, miso soup, little sweet buns with aduki bean filling, strange Hello Kitty gum, and I even attempted a daikon pickle. And it's great! I'm loving trying to pack everything into a little box, and have it look nice.

I'm feeding my obsession with the help of here, here, and here. So now in addition to all the knitting things slowly taking over my lone bookshelf, bento-making supplies are slowly starting to creep into my kitchen. This flat might not be big enough for more than one hobby...


Monday, August 20, 2007

Some days just need to die

I have been at work for two hours and sixteen minutes. I hate my job. This is a new record.

I arrived this morning to an inbox full of emails that all told me the same thing - basically, I'd screwed something up slightly (and can I point out that when given 15 minutes to do something that I'm not used to doing in a way I don't really know how to do, something is likely to go wrong?) that was then FIXED by the person who is supposed to notice these things. And then I got sent about 50 emails telling me, over and over in different ways (because obviously I'm not clever enough to figure out what I did wrong from the first page-and-a-half long email) what I did. And how I'm supposed to do it. And what I did. And this? This is how I'm supposed to do it.

Perhaps, maybe, if I'd actually been TRAINED ON THE BLOODY SOFTWARE in the first place instead of being sent on a crash-course two-day pile of pointless nothing which I then didn't use for three months, I might have known what I was doing. I am finding it extremely difficult not to name names, and run screaming through the internet badmouthing people and things. I actually punched a wall today. I have never done that in my entire life. I think I'm going to look for something else.

ps. sorry about all the yelling. Things are not going well.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Round in circles

I try to avoid shopping whenever possible, partly because I usually spend entirely too much money and partly because shopping in London is most likely worse than you can possibly imagine. Sunday I finally gave in to my lack of tank tops and forced myself to wander down to Oxford Street (Yes, I know this is the worst possible place to go if you hate shopping and live in London. It is also a gargantuan 10-minute walk from my flat.). I needed to go to 3 places, with a fourth added on because I'd been meaning to go there for months and still hadn't managed to. So after breakfast, I sighed and wandered down to Topshop, the first store on the list.

Now. Everywhere else in England, on a Sunday, the shops open at 11 am. I'm under the assumption that those on Oxford Street will be the same. I'm wrong. Topshop opens at 11:30. 'That's fine,' I think, 'I'll just go to Debenhams and get Matt's watch fixed.' Doesn't open until 12. Neither does the J-Mart, or Liberty's. So back to Topshop to wait for it to open, as it's now about twenty-past 11.

Outside Topshop, there are hundreds of people, waiting for it to open. I think this is stupid. The only reason I'm there is that I don't have the money to spend £20 per top, and I'm beginning to look a little scruffy, and I got the opening times wrong. These people, however, DESPERATELY NEED to get into the shop RIGHT NOW. There was a woman banging on the doors, people, banging on the doors. Finally the shop opens, and I shuffle in zombie-style with everyone else. I grab my things, try them on, and then make my way to the till where I'm told that although the shop is open, the tills are not open. They do not open until 12 when, legally, they are allowed to due to when they shut. After glaring at the tills, I find a seat and tap my foot until 12. At which point I do the whole circle of shops again.

This country is insane.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

A cheeky one over lunch

Yesterday started off as badly as it is possible for a day to begin. I woke up late, there was nothing for breakfast (besides I didn't have time for it anyway, and I hadn't seen the Starbucks guy since...the day before), I'm out of socks, I've run out of toothpaste, and I left the house with one earring in and without make-up on. It was the stressy-ist day of the month for me (second Wednesday of every month is my deadling day), and my morning did not go well. There's nothing like the combination of stupid+shallow+pedantic to make the world go round. There was actually a point where I had to go and hide in the loos for 10 minutes so I didn't start throwing things.

And then, then it was lunchtime. I met up with a friend who I hadn't seen in ages, and the first thing he said was 'Wow. You look absolutely knackered.' (Can I just take a second to say to all the men out there: This is not what you say to your girly friends when you haven't seen them in a month. It doesn't matter if they look like they've been making out with Death for the last hour and he's sucked their soul out through their mouth. Tell them that it's just so nice to see them. That'll make the world a much better place, and you won't be covered by weepy girl for the remainder of your day.) So obviously knackered me and not-obviously knackered him ended up at the pub for lunch. And I had a burger, and a pint, and talked not-about-work.

When I got back to the Office, everything was somehow better. It definitely had to do with the pint of Abbott Ale I'd had with my lunch, but I finished off my day without killing anyone. I never would have thought, working in the strangely-puritanical United States, that anyone drinking at lunch would be a good thing. But yes, oh yes, it does. Now I just need to start bringing a flask to work, and I'm sure the whole week will become a more entertaining place.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A new obsession

I got my Ravelry invite last week, and I've discovered a new obsession.

It's wonderful! Seeing all these beautiful FOs is inspiring, and makes me want to sit around knitting all day. Thank you so much to the guys who designed the site, it's fantastic. So all I've been doing the last few days (well, since I got my invite. And I was so excited that I finally got my invite I can't actually remember what day I got it. I just logged in immediately, after going 'Squee!' for several seconds.) is looking at knitted things. And yarn. And knitting patterns. And I've signed up for a sock club. And fallen in love with this beauty (I want to be this designer when I grow up). And, and, and.... Just so much more!

This is soooooo not going to be good for my credit card. Poor thing is going to get worn out soon!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Waving goodbye

In my second year of uni in Britain, I bought a medium format camera. I had absolutely no idea what kind of camera I was getting (as, regardless of the fact that I have a degree in photography, I know next to nothing about cameras), all I knew is that my teachers were being snooty about using a 35mm for second year work and I'd heard that they were particularly good for landscapes. My project was going to be about Celtic hillforts, so that was well within the definition of landscape. I found one on ebay, bid higher than I wanted to pay (getting caught up in the moment, and all that) and soon was the owner of a medium format camera.

My first experience with it was...well...not the best. It was the middle of winter, I was trekking up big hills with lots of heavy kit, I hadn't read how to load the film or even use the bloody thing before we'd left the flat, and it was freezing - something not fun when you have to take your gloves off every time you need to make an adjustment. I didn't have a light meter, and was using my 35mm camera, with its built in light meter, to judge what speeds to use. It was horrible. It was heavy, and unwieldy, and needed a tripod (something that was expensive), the film was expensive (at around £12 for 12 pictures? Oh yes it was.) and I didn't have enough money to be able to afford much of it.

And then I saw the pictures, and fell in love. They looked amazing. The level of detail, the square image instead of the rectangle, it was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to use the camera for every single project that I ever did. If there was a way to use it for holiday snaps, I probably would have found it. I did my final year project with the camera, and although didn't end up getting the grade I would have liked I was happy with what I turned in.

For the last two years, my medium format camera has sat in its box in my closet. I've taken it out several times, I've taken it to the States with me on holiday, and I haven't taken a picture with it once. I've been too busy, I've not been able to afford the film or developing costs, I don't want to lug my tripod around with me to take pictures of things that I see every day. There are so many reasons I haven't used it.

The point-and-shoot digital camera Matt bought me for Christmas several years ago suffered a fatal blow a few weeks ago when I turned it on to take a picture of my newly-finished knitted socks and...absolutely nothing happened. Nothing at all. It just sat there, a lump of metal and wires and glass in my hand. I took it to Jessops (a large photography chain store) to see if they thought it could be fixed. The guy looked at it, said 'Huh.', and told me that they could send it away to Canon who might be able to fix it for about £110. But that he thought it was pretty pointless, as it was an older model and I could buy a far better camera for £120 upstairs. Now, this means that suddenly I need at least £120 for a new camera, and when I really want the camera for is the last weekend of August. And there is no way I can find £120 by the last weekend of August without some serious begging, borrowing, and possibly stealing.

I walked home, fairly dejected at my lack of photographic ability, and told Matt. "Why don't you sell your medium-format?" he asked, glaring at his laptop which was not connecting to our wireless network as he wanted it to. "I mean, it's not like you've used it in years. Besides, you could get that digital one you've been talking about from Nikon. The proper one."

Standing there, blinking at him, all I could think was 'But I don't WANT to sell my medium format.' And I don't. Having that camera means that I'm not just this person stuck in a boring crap job where I do pointless things all day that no one really cares about. It says that I didn't get my degree for nothing, that I could still do something with it if I wanted to, and that there's more out there than this. This crap, boring life of working a 9-5 job that I don't love or even like most days. It sits up there and says, 'You're a photographer. You're creative and artistic and more than what you do every day, just because you have me.'

I'm going to sell it, I think. I'm going to borrow a crap digital camera from someone, and take a picture, and put my camera on ebay. I think. I don't know if I'll actually be able to, because it means that I have to give up that vague hope that someday, I'll be able to make my living by taking pictures of things. It means saying goodbye to that dream. And I don't know if I'm ready for that yet.