tealin: (think)
I have pretty much always drawn while listening to the radio. From my first Harry Potter drawings, done behind the counter of a rarely-visited gift shop with mandatory country music playing, through a few years of film and musical soundtracks and half the Vancouver Public Library's collection of audiobooks, to the discovery of Radio 4 and all that. I need a chew toy to distract the verbal half of my brain and let the bit doing the spatial/fine motor work get on with it.

Once before I've had to make do without much to listen to: In 2007, long after I'd got used to having a computer at my desk with all its streaming and/or distracting opportunities, I interned at James Baxter's studio, the upper floor of an old warehouse and last preserve of analogue animation desks in LA. The other interns had laptops, but I only had my tiny iPod Nano, and after a week or two I'd memorised pretty much everything on it. But an odd thing happened when I ran out of external stimulation, and my Left Brain's clamour for distraction was perforce denied long enough: it shut up and went away to do its own thing, and good lord did I ever get a lot done.

I've been in the same position the last couple of days. I'm in Bristol doing a few days on-site at the studio for which I've been freelancing, doing rotations, the sort of work on which I most "need" something to listen to, and during which I get most of my radio listening done. I do have my laptop with me, just in case, but have not turned it on yet, nevermind accessed the WiFi. And my brain is doing the same thing. It's a little bit miraculous: I thought I was another casualty of our hyper-distracted age, yet here I am, doing relatively tedious work in a silent room, perfectly content.

It's made me resolve to turn off as much as I can when I get back home. I can't imagine going fully without the radio, as it does help to keep me on task when the infinite distractions of working from home (snacks, chores, errands, etc) come knocking, but I need to budget other distractions much more strictly. They aren't doing me much good, anyway – certainly less than what I'd gain with improved concentration and productivity.

Funny how these lessons keep coming back around every few years until you learn them ...
tealin: (nerd)
  1.  Go to your favourite pub
  2.  Order something indulgent
  3.  Scope out some interesting characters to draw
  4.  Write four pages logicking out the question of who it was who actually found the Polar Party's tent and why
I have a slight impression I may not be getting the hang of this whole idea, but, well, I had fun, so...?
tealin: (Default)

Twenty years ago today, the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves. I didn’t pick it up for another two years, but I could never have guessed when I did so what a life-changing reading choice it was. I already knew I wanted to be an animator, but Harry Potter gave a focus to my energies, and the compulsion to draw anything I could from the books gave my drawing skills a necessary boost before college. Putting those drawings online (starting with the one above) made me, weirdly, one of the first Internet fan artists, and the friends I made and the following I gathered from that have been blessings for which I can never be too grateful. For someone who was such a pariah in middle/high school, it still blows my mind that I’m ‘popular’ in another sphere – what might have happened to me otherwise? So hard to imagine … And yet, so many people out there have similar ‘there but for the grace of Harry Potter’ stories they could tell. What an amazing thing to have brought such a catalyst into the world. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a positive force!

And no, it hasn't escaped my notice that I am once again compulsively drawing a dark-haired pointy-nosed bespectacled young Englishman ... one might almost be tempted to have Thoughts on this.
tealin: (stress)
  1. Decide to clean the kitchen (It needs doing, and my brain doesn't really get up to speed until noon, so might as well.)
  2. Think: It'd be better to listen to some Francophone radio than my usual lineup of kitchen-cleaning CBC podcasts
  3. Fight crashy crashy iTunes to find/download a few new episodes of Aujourd'hui l'histoire
  4. Give up on crashy crashy iTunes and finally update it
  5. Update goes unresponsive
  6. Restart computer
  7. Run update again
  8. Meanwhile, finally get around to removing a bunch of programmes from running on startup
  9. Restart again when prompted by iTunes
  10. Download those episodes at last without crashing
  11. Plug in iPod, find it's chock full of podcasts from three years ago
  12. Hunt down, delete/uncheck existing podcasts
  13. Sync with new French podcasts (baladodiffusion)
  14. An hour later, finally start cleaning the kitchen.

My mum likes to call her mother tongue 'kitchen French' – amazing the lengths one has to go to, in this modern world, even to acquire that!
tealin: (Default)

My sister and I grew up without any extended family nearby, but we had these two cats who kind of filled that role in a funny way. We both remember them more as family members than pets, and like to call them our gay uncles.* I sometimes wonder if I've got cat faces mapped onto the part of my brain which is supposed to read human faces – at least, I have a much easier time relating to cats than people, generally; the role these two played in our emotional lives probably has a lot to do with that.

A friend has recently lost her childhood pet, who was also more than a pet to her, which got me thinking about the place these cats have in my life, and decided it was finally time to draw them as the people they were to us, inside. RIP Bushy and Tao; I'm glad we got to know you.

*They weren't actually gay – they were both neutered (if anything, one of them was a towel-sexual) – but they were bachelors living together with some affection, which makes them gay in the eyes of the Internet.
tealin: (introspect)
Disclaimer: I am writing this between long, decongestant-ridden naps. I cannot pretend it will be coherent or, or, anything. So there you are.

Sarah Slean's new album is out at last, and you can listen to it streaming here:

CBC Music First Play: Metaphysics

... until April 7th, when it comes available to buy. (I have already bought it.)

It was ten years ago almost exactly that I heard Slean for the first time on one of the CBC's Saturday morning shows, singing "Lucky Me", prompting me to find her Myspace page (MySpace!) and listen to it on repeat for literally the rest of the day. 2007 was a pivotal year for me, and the refrain of that song played no small part in my taking the opportunities that arose in it:
And you're sad, and you're sorry,
Let it all out – what are you running for?
This is your chance, be ready –
I'm taking my seat ... Oh, lucky me!
Bla bla blah ... )
tealin: (Default)
Tonight, I am at a crossroads.

I can either go out and get groceries (which means dinner, lest I go all night on the digestive biscuits with cheese I had at 4), or I can 'watch' Wolf Hall for the second time in a week while tying down animation until 1 a.m.

I think we all know how this story goes.


I'm actually hungry and my shoulders are stiff and I am foolishly optimistic that the newly-returned students have cleared out of Sainsbury's by this time of night. (It's probably the low blood sugar.)
tealin: (Default)
Completely unscientifically produced, from the data sets Confirmation Bias and Previous Experience.

United Kingdom, eastern portions
Chilly, then frigid, snow beginning around the 11th and lasting about a week, then clear and windy. Gradual warming with occasional snow turning to rain, until spring-like temperatures return around the 26/27th.

Vancouver and the South Coast of BC
Cold and snowy to start, then an unseasonably dry warm spell beginning around the 10th, with the return of an arctic high pressure system around the 18th and heavy snow the weekend of 25/26th.

Southern Alberta, western portions
Typical winter weather until the end of the month when a Chinook should see temperatures rise by 30°C

Los Angeles, California
A return to expected winter patterns early, with a building high pressure system that should bring in hot sunshine for the second half of the month. Possible storms late.

(In other words, I've booked my plane tickets.)

(And I'm genuinely curious to see to what extent this holds true. The Southern Alberta forecast directly contradicts the Farmer's Almanac.)
tealin: (Default)
Well here we are, at the end of another year, and what a year! As well as all other commonly held notions that it set out to shatter, it also disproved the idea that perception of time slows down to fit in more stimuli (e.g. why a long weekend of travel feels equivalent to weeks of sticking to your normal routine). This year was a non-stop news barrage, and my own life was filled with all sorts of things, yet it feels like just a few months ago that I was watching the last light of 2015 fade from the sky.

I have formerly been in the habit of writing a year-end blog post, but I didn't really know where to start with this one – it's pointless going over what made it a remarkable year because you were all there, too, and everyone is doing that anyway, no use adding to the pile.

In looking back over my own personal 2016 I realised that a common thread was starting things and not finishing them. This has always been something of a theme for me, but 2016 brought it to the fore, as I opened more and bigger boxes this year than in years past and none of them have been fully unpacked; some hardly started. Current ongoing business includes:
  • Ireland travel journal
  • Scotland travel journal
  • Academic article (going on two years now)
  • Something like a semi-official relationship with SPRI, only just begun
  • Lots and lots of information gathering with no synthesis or organisation
  • The Mini Big Project which took up most of the summer, which needs revisions before I can share it
  • So many thinky blog posts I've started in my head
... and that's just what I can think of right this minute. I will try to finish these before I open anything new in 2017, but who can say how successful that will be ...

On identifying that aspect of my 2016, though, I found that it could be applied to 2016 globally. It's been an awful year in lots of ways, but – hate to break it to you – lots of those ways are in fact just opening boxes of more awfulness, that will have to be unpacked and sorted in the years to come. A hurricane can sweep through in a day, but it takes years to recover, and the recovery can be harder than weathering the storm in the first place. We've had a lot of shocks this year, but the hard work is yet to come, and will require a lot from all of us.

If this notorious pessimist has any hope for the course of things to come, it's that finally the passionate, fierce, intelligent, interconnected rising generation has something to fight for and against – when things were going their way, they turned their energy on each other, but there's nothing like the unifying power of a common enemy to rally and motivate the troops. There's a lot of potential out there. Every so often humanity is tested on its progress: this appears to be one of those times. I'm no great fan of humanity, but I hope we pass.
tealin: (catharsis)
I made this three years ago – almost exactly, though I don't remember the precise date. It's finally time to leave it by the side of the road, lest I drag it through another year. 2016 may have been cosmically crappy, but 2013 was far more horrible on a personal level. Glad to dump the last of it, and leave it in a year that won't notice one extra turd.

The Rest... )

It was a very important thing to have happened, and I think I've processed it enough that I've refined it almost entirely into positives – there's a lingering emotional distrust, but let's be honest, that's always been there. Maybe it's just been reinforced a little. I don't know what to do with kindness, it's confusing.

The only lasting bitterness I have regarding this episode is that the parcel in which I sent this sketchbook home, to join the rest of my stuff in my parents' basement, before I moved to the UK, got lost in the mail. As my sketchbooks double as journals, and free me from having to remember my life at all, I feel like I've lost a whole six months – a pivotal six months – and will never get it back. I scanned all the drawings before I sent it, but there's a lot of writing that's gone forever. USPS!!!


Dec. 22nd, 2016 02:03 pm
tealin: (Default)
Today I have:
  • got up before 6 to defrost the freezer
  • made pumpkin pie (to bring to Christmas dinner, not just for fun)
  • plus little side pies involving custard which I also made, while defrosting
  • washed all the dishes
  • had a nap
  • tidied my room again
  • ate lunch and read another chapter of my book
  • made redcurrant/lemon/ginger compote (using up old redcurrants from the freezer, not just for fun)
  • done ABSOLUTELY NO WORK AGAIN (it is now 2pm)

I keep thinking 'just have to do this thing, then I won't have to do the thing anymore and can concentrate on work...' but every day there is a new thing. This wouldn't be a problem if it were work for someone else, but somehow I can't justify taking time on my own stuff when there is anything else to do –? Why is this so hard? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Surely this is what I want to do, not be a housewife ...


Dec. 19th, 2016 03:52 pm
tealin: (Default)
There are few things I dislike doing more than shoe shopping. Those who have attempted doing this with me will testify to the nightmare of a picky toddler I become when confronted with the need to clothe my feet and to do so from the selection available at retail outlets. It doesn't help that my feet are shaped like seal flippers and need extra space in any pair of shoes for arch support and cushioning inserts. On top of that I am ridiculously picky, and pretty much any pair of shoes I am presented with will have something wrong with them, such as:
  • useless buckles/tassels/studs/doodads stuck on
  • '80s spaceman puffy bits
  • honking great stomping soles
  • no discernible soles at all
  • wrong material for soles (too cheap, hard and/or slippy)
  • useless zips that compromise watertightness
  • stupid great heel seriously how do you stand in that nevermind walk
  • sparkles and/or metallic and/or shiny materials
Add a preference for real leather and some basic standards of construction, and a reluctance to spend more than a week's pay on basic footwear, and you begin to see the problem.

The sharp fall in the value of the pound this year is expected to hit consumer prices in early 2017, so I figured I'd better buckle up (so to speak) and do some shoe shopping before I regretted it. After some reconnoitering, week before last, I have managed to fill the gaps in my inventory, and now have the full complement of acceptable and practical footwear:
  • black boots
  • brown boots (wrong shade of brown, but I can do something about that, unlike items in the list above)
  • black Oxfords
  • brown Oxfords
  • hiking boots, light (inherited from an ex-housemate)
  • hiking boots, heavy (double as winter boots)
  • sandals
How anyone could possibly need more shoes than that is beyond me – and the trouble of acquiring them; how can you stand it?
tealin: (Default)
I can't deny I've had a rather odd life, in a number of ways. One of those ways is that, for the most part, I've lived in places where I am outside the dominant culture, and often in places with a dominant institution to which I do not belong.

It's certainly no different here in Cambridge – I love being surrounded by the University, and being able to take advantage of the opportunities and activities that arise from a high percentage of nerds in the population, but with no academic history of my own, or tangible connection to the institution, I'm once more on the outside looking in ... though, as I like to say, I like the view into these windows better than any others I've been on the outside of. It isn't often an issue, and the actual University people I've met have gone to great lengths not to be as exclusive as my brain is determined to believe the University is, but it does make for the occasional peculiar experience.

One of these happened just the other day, as news broke of an enormous donation of rare antique books to Trinity College Library. Old books, cool! History, cool! Hey wait a minute – don't I go to church with that guy?

Turns out the Sunday morning background character I have unofficially named Gosh He Looks Like Lupin* is in fact the librarian at one of the largest and most prestigious collections in the world. Golly.

*Not so much in the photo in that link, but in person, it's a little uncanny

Sunday Update: You'll never guess who was a bit of a celebrity at coffee and biscuits this morning!
tealin: (stress)

I'm taking [the rest of] the evening off. I need to buy some pasta.
tealin: (actually)
I have had a grand total of two conversations today. They have covered:
  • The American reluctance to tell sad stories to children (or indeed, anyone) and how this might engender a detached attitude to 'terrible things'
  • Who would be damaged first by a Trump presidency, the US or the rest of the world
  • Using cocaine as a topical anaesthetic for corneal sunburn during the Heroic Age of polar exploration
  • Correlation (or not) of crankiness with miniaturism
  • The atomic weights of carbon and oxygen and whether it's more humane to kill lab mice with CO or CO2
I think I'll stay.
tealin: (Default)
So the embedded targeted advertising on Tumblr this month appears to be British Airways trying to sell me on the U.S. as a tourist destination.

Yooooouuuuuu keep tryin' there, BA.


Jun. 17th, 2016 09:11 am
tealin: (Default)
A few weeks ago I uninstalled Firefox in an unusual fit of pique. It had been maddeningly slow to put together Tumblr posts at a time when I was lining up quite a few, and there were other minor grievances that, accumulating, and with the Tumblr problem as the final straw, prompted the rash removal of the browser from my computer.

It was only a few days later I realised that, with it, had gone years' worth of bookmarks, not only of convenience but of strange little back corners and obscure reference materials that I had bookmarked because I feared never finding them again. But I'd settled into Chrome for the time being (which opened up a bewildering new dimension of advertising, wow) and resigned myself to having to reassemble my bookmarks at some point in the future and learning a salutary lesson about backing up one's system.

This morning something ticked over and I decided it was time to get back on speaking terms with Firefox, so I reinstalled it, and when it opened – there were all my bookmarks! All my settings were preserved! My immediate thought was that I ought to be creeped out that this stuff was still on my computer somewhere despite doing a system uninstall – how would I find it and delete it for real if that is what I wanted to do? – but I couldn't manage to care about that no matter how much I felt I ought to. It was too nice to take the old girl for a spin. If the NSA wants to know about modern printmakers or the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica definition of "forlorn hope" they are welcome to it – maybe it'll make them better people.
tealin: (Default)
Me: I need to go for groceries and fix the grapevine and type stuff and generally function as an adult human being.
My nose: You are going to sit right there and wait patiently for me to siphon every ounce of liquid out of your body.

If this is hay fever, it's behaving very unusually.

If this is a cold, I cannot wait for it to move on at last to plain old congestion.
tealin: (Default)
Things I ought to do today:
  • Sketch hippies at Strawberry Fair
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Practise quick location sketching

What I am about to do:
  • Hang out in a cafe reading Going Postal
tealin: (Default)
This is what I have done today:
  • Cleaned my room
  • Taken delivery of a serious grownup scanner
  • Shopped for a new bed*
  • Visited the charity shop to make sure they didn't have the same bed
  • Bought new bed
  • Took apart old bed and took pieces downstairs
  • Made** appointment for old bed to be picked up
  • Took delivery of new bed
  • Built new bed (and reassembled bedding etc)
  • Installed serious grownup scanner
  • Cleaned room again, as the day's activity undid everything from this morning
This sounds all very positive and pro-active, but it leaves me in a bit of a crisis: I have somehow managed to take care of weeks of productive procrastination in one day.  My list of Things To Do That Aren't The Thing I Have To Do is growing dangerously short.  Help!

On the other hand, both the scanner purchase and bed pickup will benefit charities, and I am once again left gasping at the alacrity of deliveries.  This country!  It's really not trying hard enough to drive me away.

*This is related to the scanner: An A3 scanner is about the size of a Zodiac, so the only place I can realistically put it is under my worktable, a space which, as of this morning, was occupied by the boxes for my printer and auxiliary monitor; I had nowhere else to put them because the bed I inherited from my former housemate had a thoroughly useless 4" bottom clearance.  So to install this scanner I had to buy a new bed. (The new one is much better anyway.)
**Well, I did my bit to book a pickup; the people picking it up have yet to give me a time.


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