Category Archives: random

Checking in

Six months into the year. Half way through. Have I been making more? Do I care less?

Yup.

If nothing else, I’m still happy with my lunchroom.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself some goals. Run more, read more, make more. The goals were modest, achievable, and I started really well.

Running went marvellously. I started a 10k training plan and blasted through 70% of my 240 mile goal by about April. So I can afford the current hiatus due to a stunning combination of wonky hip, work stress, and It’s Far Too Hot To Go For A Run Let’s Just Drink Beer At Home syndrome. Also, douchebags on the prom who resent allowing runners any space. Nice weather brings out the worst in people.

Reading also has been proceeding at a good pace. I’m six books ahead of schedule, and my e-book queue is down to 77 books. cough. I’ve only ditched three books unfinished due to awfulness, and actually genuinely enjoyed a few extremely random choices from Before I Learned Not To Trust Amazon Reviews. I keep meaning to take a book and a couple of beers down to the beach and just hang out on my own but it’s like eight minutes away and I am a terrible lazy lump. Slumping on the futon and open a window is almost the same thing, right?

The only thing I feel slightly shamefaced about is the making. I stormed in with Galaxy and Little Birds, but then I got a mental block on the next project, MURDERPIGS.

(There is a story behind MURDERPIGS. It is long and complicated, and I will tell you one day. For now, you only need to know that it is a cardigan.)

Anyway, I made a slight miscalculation with gauge and ended up with sleeves wide enough to make off-colour jokes relating to wizards. Worse, I ended up with one sleeve wide enough etc etc and then made another one. Sigh. So it got screwed up and stuffed in the corner for a couple of months while I spent my time very industriously replaying Skyrim.

Yup.

I did eventually manage to kick myself into action and frog those sleeves. I then put the whole project in the knitting naughty corner so it could think about what it had done, and allowed myself to make some other things. To cleanse the palate, as it were. I may also have allowed myself to replenish my stash.

yarn

Just a little.

cough

Yeah. I kinda remembered that Etsy exists. And then there was a sale in a local yarn store and now I’ve found out about Unwind Brighton and soon I’m going to need a bigger house, let alone stash box.

As of right now, I’m on four FOs and three WIPs, which puts me just about on target for 12 items this year, if I ignore how much I have left on the WIPs. And the sewing project which is also sitting looking balefully at me from the corner. So actually, I think this has been quite a successful half-a-year. I hope you lot have been having a nice time of it, too.

New Year, New… something.

I’m not normally one for making resolutions. Too much effort. If I give myself a target I will immediately begin to procrastinate and sabotage myself. Or something will happen to put me behind schedule, and I start to feel resentful, and throw in the towel. So I give up some arcane craft or sport, with great success. I’ve still never gone hang-gliding, which is something I gave up in 1998.

But, you know, there are some positive things I want to do. I have a huge reading pile. I have a lot of running gear and gadgets. And my first pairs of hand-knit socks are developing holes.

So this year, to address those things, I want to:

  • read more
  • run more
  • make more

Obviously, those are not SMART goals. Doomed to failure from the start. Let’s see if we can make these better.

In 2014 I will:

  • read 36 books (same as last year, should be fine)
  • run 240 miles (200 last year, with biiiiig gaps of lazy)
  • make 12 things (only 8 last year, shamefully low)

3 books, 20 miles, and one crafted item per month. All easily trackable through Goodreads, Runkeeper, and here. If I reach them early, I can come up with stretch goals. And the bonus of only choosing positive goals is that I don’t to come up with a reward. Except for the running, which might need some bribery. 240 miles will be halfway to a new pair of shoes, so I guess there’s that.

I’ll leave you with an image from last Jan 1st. Back then, we were only visitors to Brighton. Now, the weather is hilariously bad so any pictures won’t have the same sort of… charm.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8504/8332512903_c155956be1_n.jpg

I LIVE HERE DID I EVER MENTION THAT OMG

Sunday is Run Day

Not all of you will know this, but I am a runner.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to evangelise about running. I’m not going to tell you about my mile time (embarrassingly slow), I’m not going to tell you about all the races I’ve entered (none so far, not looking likely to change).

I might just tell you a tiny bit about it, though.

I took up running about three years ago, maybe a bit longer. I was feeling unfit, unhealthy, and suddenly got paranoid about heart disease and dying alone being eaten by cats. DG (my other half) volunteered to take me out and train me, and as he’s an experienced runner, I said yes.

After the third ‘just run to this tree, oh no, I didn’t mean this one, I meant that one’ I fired him. I found the NHS Couch to 5k podcast. I discovered RunKeeper. At some point I discovered Fitocracy and that was that.

I kind of bobbled along, but running never really stuck until I was working on my Masters dissertation. It was nice to start my day with something that, even if it went badly, could still be spun as A Positive Thing. I might spend the rest of the day weeping into my keyboard, staring at a blank screen, but at least I’d done something good for my body.

Running in Birmingham was fun. There’s a surprising amount of green around.

Rainy walk.

My finest moments came after dark. I distinctly remember one evening, listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack, hitting the ‘sprint’ section of the training program and belting along with my arms outspread yelling ‘I AM THE BATMAN’. The road was not deserted. I have no shame.

Brighton, though, I tend to see at dawn.

Can't get over how awesome it is to run with a view like this. :D

I spend half my time running along with a dopey grin on my face because it’s so pretty. That’s when I’m not chortling at a comedy podcast, or gritting my teeth as I try to run directly into a ‘bracing’ sea ‘breeze’. Sometimes, if I come across a flock of seagulls and pigeons devouring trash from the promenade, I run into the middle of them, throw my hands in the air and yell FLY, MY PRETTIES.

I go a bit mad when I run.

Last week, actually, I had my favourite experience ever. A big shaggy dog, fresh from the sea, lolloped up to me just as I was turning round to start the homeward trot. “Hello, dogface” I said, my standard greeting for every single dog that comes within a hundred paces. It then ran alongside me for a few paces, accepted an ear-scritch, then disappeared back off to its owners. Made my run. Week. Hell, probably month.

Today, I ran six miles. I have new shoes. I have Dark Knight on the playlist again (NaNo is coming). It was a glorious day and I have such a runner’s high I can barely sit down.

One hell of a day for a run.

Totally worth it.

GIFS.

It is Friday. It’s past wine o’clock. And I’m going to take a detour from my planned blogtober post to sing the praises of GIFs.

I’m still pronouncing it with a hard ‘g’. Do you know what I think about what the inventor says?

I don't caaaaaaaaare.

GIFs are my favourite thing about the internet. I love memes, I love cartoons, I love being able to interact with other people around the globe without having to interact in real life. But I absolutely adore GIFs.

Sometimes they’re funny.

predator trolls alien

Sometimes they’re adorable.

doggy plays hide-and-seek

Sometimes they’re like looking into a mirror.

sobbing under the desk

I love reaction gifs so much that I actually have a bookmark folder dedicated to them.

Gifshot

They are synced between all of my devices. And you’ll notice that it appears before ‘essentials’.

I never watch videos, but I’ll scroll through 1000 pages of /r/gifs. They’re just so much more digestible and fun. I was so excited when I found gifvine and could make my own gifs.

What do you think? Do you have any nifty sources of GIFs or do you want to click away in disgust whenever you see them?

Blogtoberfest ’13

I’ve been doing some tidying-up of the old website recently. Fancying up my sidebar, tidying up my menus, cleaning up the tags. In the course of this very satisfying process, I noticed a long-forgotten event: Blogtoberfest.

The year was 2009. I’d had my blog for three and a half years, if we include the Geocities ‘zine which started the whole thing off. And why wouldn’t we? It taught me everything I know about HTML, most of which is now deprecated. Anyway; somehow, in this year, the notion of Blogtoberfest crossed my desk. ‘Write a blog post every day,’ I said. ‘How hard can that be?’

I made it two days. To be fair to myself, I did end up posting a lot that month, after the usual summer lull. And I was also participating in Socktoberfest, though I only posted about that in the initial OMG SOCKTOBER post so who knows what actually happened.

This year, I don’t need socks. I have a job that I like. I have at least one weekend away. So I probably won’t write every day. But I am painfully aware that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I have forgot how to write. To that end…

My logo for Blogtoberfest '13

You see, it’s orange, which is totally October-y. And knitting, very autumnal. And… ZOMGSPARKLEBUTTONS. I can’t help it, I love them.

So yes, I don’t know if I’ll post every day. But (to paraphrase Carl Sagan, possibly) this blog has never been in perfect harmony with my ambition.

I do hope to:
– get a bit of wording practice in before NaNoWriMo
– write several panicked list posts at 11pm
– make at least one graphic designer cry at my slapdash logo
– get some data into my Foofle Analytics account (I got a certificate, you know, but I have so little traffic I can’t do a damn thing with it :D)
– re-learn how to express myself through the medium of blog

Anyone else in?

the girl and the gull

It’s not like I’m new to seagulls. There were plenty of them in Birmingham, as far inland as it’s possible to go in this country. But there are just so many more of them around. It’s curious how smart and stupid they are.

They can tell when there’s food about. We lit a barbecue on the beach, and a few minutes later:

seagulls circling

Opposite my morning bus stop, there’s a shop with a flat above it. For the last couple of weeks, the window has been propped open, and someone inside has been leaving birdfood or scraps of food out on the window ledge. A seagull has been the happy recipient of these snacks, and has obviously gotten in the habit of dropping by that particular food source. Until Monday morning. The gull arrived at his favourite breakfast spot to find the window closed. He stood there for a good fifteen minutes, squawking occasionally, tilting his head and staring through the glass. I can imagine why the occupants had decided not to open up that morning, faced with that.

This morning, though, he was gone, so he obviously realised that breakfast bar was shut. Quick learners, right? I’m thinking seagulls are pretty smart, they’re not to be sniffed at (or ek-ek-ek-ed at as I pass them. I like to converse with wildlife.)

And then I read an article in the local paper featuring this line:

A crew from Brighton’s Preston Circus was called to rescue a baby gull stuck headfirst in a gutter last week.

Oh.

Well, I have my fun with them. This morning, on my run, I ran through a flock of seagulls pecking around a ripped bin-bag, spilling its innards over the street. I raised my arms, and yelled ‘FLY, MY PRETTIES, FLY’ as they half-heartedly flapped away, reluctant to move too far from their spoils. Yeah. Power. I have it.

quickfire: my stupidity with regard to dogs

There was a woman in the supermarket earlier with a tiny, gorgeous, edibly cute little puppy in a bright red pram. My first clue that said pram didn’t contain a baby was when the checkout lady leaned over and said “Aww, isn’t he cute. Does he bite much?”

(Second clue was when she replied yes to the question “are you scared of them?”, because I am pretty much the only person I know who openly admits to being scared of babies.)

The wee pup was lying on his side, mostly asleep, but still determinedly gnawing on a chew toy that was about the same size as he was. The owner said something to me but I forgot how to words because cute. I have no idea. I don’t even remember walking home. The world was tilt-shifted by my tears of cute.

I am stupid for dogs.

accidental daytrip: Brighton edition

I was extremely hyperactive after an interview the other day, to the point that the thought of a four-minute train ride sounded like too much sitting down. So I decided to burn off some of that adrenaline by going for wander through the town.

I first came to Brighton about 20-odd years ago. I was nine or ten, it was a sunny day, I had a camera with 110 film and an inability to stay still long enough to get a clear photo.

This time round, it was a bit less sunny, and I was armed with an iPhone and the power of Instagram to cover up for the fact that I still can’t hold a camera still.

I trotted past the Royal Pavilion, becoming very confused about what was the front or back because the gardens have changed a bit since I was last there.

Probably the more recognisable view.

I then followed the signs yelling SEAFRONT THIS WAY (trying valiantly to direct people to pedestrian crossings, I can only imagine the chaos in summer) and the scent of greasy snacks. Voilà. One pier. Seagulls everywhere, children crying because parents won’t let them have sweets/paddle/pet seagulls/whatever. A classic British seaside scene.

The classic British day trip, complete with craptastic weather and attack!seagulls.

I wandered the length of the pier, battered by the salty breeze, assaulted by seagulls, piped music, and the smells of a hundred varieties of fast food. I’d already had lunch but by the end of it, I could no longer resist.

And the classic British seaside snack; four over-greasy doughnuts and a coffee that tastes of stale cigarettes and regret.

Worst. Coffee. Ever. But oh, so right. I sat on the beach for a bit, decompressing after the interview, becoming at one with the ground and the sea. By which I mean, probably sat in some dead sea critter and got bitten by any number of sand-dwelling insects. But it was pretty relaxing, nonetheless.

Watching the sand flies try to chew on my ankles, denied of noms by a 60-denier force field.

Duly relaxed and full of grease, I continued to wander back towards Hove, tipping my non-existent hat to the West Pier as it looms sadly in the water. Fans of Harry Lloyd (I get a surprising amount of traffic from people searching ‘harry lloyd naked’. Hi guys! Sorry to disappoint.) may recognise this as backdrop to The Fear.

The West Pier has been  trashed since before I was born, but it's still a genuinely sad sight.

Slightly more cheerful image; I love the little beach huts. Love them. Even on as dingy day as this was, they really brighten up the seafront.

Gotta love the wee beach huts.

And that’s basically it.

And finally... Sparkles. Because... Sparkles.

You know what’s completely awesome about this whole series of pictures? I live here. This is no longer a once a year bundle everyone in the car and hope to bob it doesn’t rain gamble. I could do it every day, if I wanted.

Except for the coffee, because that was truly disgusting.

BONUS FIND

Most of my old photographs are currently lost; whether they’re in an attic somewhere or if I chucked them away in the name of progress, I have no idea. Somehow, three photos of that first trip to Brighton survived and ended up in my iPhoto library.

The entrance to the Pavilion:

Brighton Pavilion - 1993

The other side of the Pavilion:

Brighton Pavilion - 1993

And the pier, still at this point called ‘Palace Pier’:

Brighton Pier - 1993

I know for a fact that there were at least a dozen blurry pictures of starlings, seagulls, and other people’s pet dogs. We should probably be grateful that those have been mislaid.

the importance of fact-checking

A rather interesting incident occurred last night, which really brings home the dangers and pitfalls of the modern, hotlinking, plagiarism-friendly internet world.

Names omitted to protect the innocent ignorant.

I was browsing tumblr, and came across a post featuring a black-and-white photo of a semi-naked man, with some sort of lewd comment beneath it.

This happens quite a lot, on tumblr. Shameless, brutal objectification of the opposite sex. *tsk*.

Anyway this shining example of manhood was tagged with the name of the person in the photo. This means that anyone browsing the Harry Lloyd tag would see the picture, and be able to take part in said objectification.

Only… that’s not Harry Lloyd. This is Harry Lloyd.

You’ll notice the almost entire lack of similarity. OK, so he normally does have dark hair but really? Really? If you’re going to objectify someone, at least have the decency to know who it is you’re objectifying.

I had to find the truth.

Turns out there is a little known thing out there that people use to find shit, and stuff. It’s called Google. Google has this nifty little feature called Search by Image.

Simply copy the image address, and post it into the search box. Then, when it can’t find that particular combination of 87 characters, you can click on the search by image link, like so:

Facesearch

This then uses some sexy algorithms to identify every occurrence of that image.

It didn’t take long for me to scan through the compiled list and identify the guy in the picture. His name is Roberto Bolle, he’s an Italian dancer and model, including for Ferragamo. Not an English actor famed for his appearances in ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Harry Potter’, and soon to appear in Brighton crime drama ‘The Fear‘.

So. How did this sorry situation come about?

It seems to have begun in February 2011, after the two men appeared in the same issue of Drama Magazine (issue four, by the way, and the source of some of the more popular images of Lloyd).

Investigative journalism

Someone cropped the pics, tagged the posts with both names, and the rest is history. It’s sort of laughable, but it just goes to show how easy it is for misinformation to spread.

Moral time.

So; if you’re posting something that you didn’t photograph or make yourself, just take a few moments to do an image search. Make sure you’re identifying the right pair of wrists, and help make the internet a better place, for everyone.

(NB: no link to source on the top pic, since the original poster has deleted their post in embarrassment. Oops. But photo credit belongs to Drama Magazine, linked above.)