tealin: (Default)
When I lived in LA, was making money, and tried to make myself happy by being generous with it, I was a member of the local NPR station. As such I had a card and was on their mailing list, and even though I never went to any member events or even really listened all that much, I was still nominally included.

When I moved away I cancelled my membership, and all that stopped.

Well, just in the past week, I've somehow ended up back on the mailing list, because I've got two emails from them about things going on around town and a backstage tour of the station.

Now, there may be a simple explanation. Chances are they have just resurrected a bunch of dead email addresses to remind ex-members how much they liked being in the in-group, to encourage them to re-pledge ...

Or someone has gifted me a membership for some obscure reason and not told me ...

... Or, an identity thief has used my credit card to pledge to a public radio station, and the email address associated with that card automatically went on the mailing list, in which case I am the victim of some very peculiar fraud. I'm not even sure I'd want them prosecuted, if that's the sort of thing they're going to do.

This world, man, I dunno, it's getting less real by the day.
tealin: (introspect)
Another year, another Québecois song leaps out from the bush and flattens me. This one is ... basically my family history but written by complete strangers??

Video behind cut as the sample image is obnoxiously spoilery... )

Paroles en français )

English lyrics )

So I guess I'm not the only one, then.

(Definitely more on the lopin de terre side than entourée d'enfants, though – happy to leave that much behind.)

Pub Lyfe

Aug. 30th, 2017 11:23 pm
tealin: (Default)
I didn't get to the pub last night – spent it all getting a Patreon reward put together – but I did tonight, which was a good thing as I got to eavesdrop on a running club who arrived there shortly after I did.  The first great thing about them was that they all had nicknames: Duracell, Fondue, Irish, Walkie-Talkie, Coppertone, and Bag Lady were the ones I jotted down.  Also these exchanges:

"There are lots of good things about the Mormon church, though, for example they encourage exercise."
"So did the Nazis."

"Billy Graham must be pretty old now ..."
"Well ... he's younger than God."

Much later there was a small group picking sides in the football league tables.  For a while the conversation was the usual numbing sports babble, but winnings came up, and someone asked "what would you do with £100m?" which started a lengthy discussion of debt ("I can't imagine what you'd do with that kind of money if mortgages weren't in the equation"), taxes (if you give money to someone they have to pay taxes on it, but if you buy something for them they don't, apparently), pensions, past experiences with gambling and not gambling, and simply the imaginative exercise of parceling out your hypothetical £100m.  It was the sort of conversational flow I thought was normal, from living in Canada, but which I missed terribly in the States, and I keep trying to figure out why it should be so different – we all speak the same language and have many of the same cultural influences, but Americans tend to talk in straight lines using concrete ideas, whereas others wander all over the place and pull in material from any direction, and use imagination, abstraction, and analysis, just as much as recall or opinion.  What's behind that?  I can't help thinking it has something to do with roadmaps; American highways and grid systems vs older countries' web of organic lines.  But that's probably unquantifiable, so a hunch it will have to stay.

Mr Keohane is proving to be very stubborn, by the way, even after a pint of cider.

tealin: (introspect)
I like to tell people I live in a shared house, even though at this point in my career I could, theoretically*, afford to live alone, because if I don't have the moderating presence of other people, I "go the full Sherlock."

This week, one housemate is in Italy and another is in Korea – the third is technically around but she effectively lives with her partner and just keeps her room here for, I dunno, storage? appearances? – so I've had the house to myself, and aside from an hour or two of café time, have been more or less on my own with the mountain of things that need doing. Many of which have been done! Gold star.

I've been led to believe that normal people, in this sort of situation, would start going stir-crazy and be desperate to get out for a bit of social fresh air, but I find the opposite tends to happen with me: after four or five days, the walls get taller and I find it harder and harder to think of compelling reasons to go through the front door ... This probably comes down to a childhood spent in isolating circumstances, where I learned quite well how to keep myself company but not how to do anything else; it continued unchallenged through most of adulthood, which is why there are large parts of Vancouver I've never visited and touchstone events both there and in LA which I've never attended. It's not so much agoraphobia as agorapathy – not afraid to go out, just can't be bothered.

Of course, without keeping them in shape this leads to a breakdown of the social skills I've gone to great lengths to acquire, and as I pull deeper and deeper into my own head I am less aware of how I come across outside it, and then ... Sherlock. A very popular character on television but not, I can assure you, well received in real life. Especially when not played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

So here I sit, tonight, a week of solitude behind me, and a week of solitude in another house next week (albeit with coworkers during the day, which helps), knowing that I ought to take advantage of a gorgeous summer Saturday night in Cambridge but not quite knowing how, and pondering some pub drawing in a context I can only describe as medicinal – and I can't decide which pub. They're either too busy or not summery enough, and there's plenty of the year for visiting winter pubs. It's so much easier not to decide and just stay home again – but I cannot let myself do that! I refuse! But what?

If nothing else, this week has taught me an important thing: I am formed by nature to be the crackpot old lady in the woods, but if I follow temptation and wind up in a cabin on the Inside Passage, all the progress I've made is forfeit. I've been thinking a lot about what direction to take if I'm sent back to Canada next year, and that had been an option, but for my sake and everyone else's I think I have to close that door.

*Assuming I were working full-time at my level of experience and seniority, and not swept up in some mania for which I've more or less taken early retirement, without the pension
tealin: (stress)
Well, all good things must come to an end ...

The image hosting site I've been using for this blog since 2004 has suddenly gone full rapacious jerk, and decided to charge over ten times its original pro fee for the privilege of embedding one's images in third-party sites, i.e. what I do here. As I'm grandfathered in from my last payment, I have slightly under a year to figure out what to do with the thousands of images I've accrued over the years, update img tags, etc., but frankly right now I'm looking at it all and going 'uuuuuuuuurrrghhhhh'. Such an awful lot going on this year, and now this on top of it, and for what?

Since 2013 or so, I've mainly been embedding images from Tumblr, which is also dying but might have a few years left at least; I ought to get another image hoster but I haven't found any I like as much as Photobucket, so if you have a suggestion that's not Picasa/Google I'd love to hear it.
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.


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