Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Shiny things make me happy

I've been reading too much rubbish today. By all accounts the world is not a shiny place on the whole and it seems that I have lost the ability to spot the sparkle, at least for the moment. So in attempt to to correct this I have recently discovered, or at least rediscovered, my passion for the smaller earth creatures that twinkle in the light. I am constantly amazed by the things that I find in drawers in the museum. Yesterday I saw a grasshopper nymph that was mimicking a tiger beetle and it was the most amazing metallic blue. There are some Mantids from Asia that are bright metallic green and look as though they have been covered with tinfoil. Some of my favourite beetles are a kind of Leaf beetle that look like little knobbly nuggets of metal. They are normally pink or blue but if they could manage a gold then they would look just like a chunk of raw gold. There are some Chafers that have managed this. One I saw yesterday was a shiny leaf green on top but it had a metallic turquoise tummy and blue feet. You wouldn't even have seen it unless you turned it upside down. Others come in rich gold or silver, or more usually, green with shining silver strips so that they look like very expensive humbugs.
The scientist in me looks at these things and decides whether things have developed as sexual or behavioural characters, camouflage or mimicry. There will always be that little voice though that just emits a breathless 'wow' and happily accepts the ignorance and just wants to glorify the now. It makes the world seem so magical in a way. Images of jungles filled with sparkling whirring insects fill my mind.
And then I think some more.
I can almost see why people are so happy to accept that there must be a god because it does just seem so unrealistic that something could have evolved to look like this. Its such an abstract concept for most people. In order to study evolution you have to look back not forwards because all we have is our short lifetime and we will never know what comes next. Its so much easier to accept the now and try to look forward when reality is asserting itself in your life every minute of every day. Because we must go on. We treat life as a linear progression from birth until death. Independent and individual. I think we forget that we are a part of some bigger interweaving and so we forget where we can find the shine.
The shine is in the small things in life. I realise that not everyone is going to discover this in a drawer of beetles but I hope that people can discover it for themselves in something they love. I don't want to accept the idea that the world is full of so much darkness that we can't find some light. Am sounding very negative today I realise, and quite hippyish because I can't really find the words to express this idea properly but its been filling my brain for the morning and its all that I could think to write about. If I had any talent I'd find some way of expressing this so people could understand. Instead you're limited to my muttered ramblings. Oh well, I figure that my audience is more than intelligent enough to sort it out for me. I guess I'm just pleased that in amongst all the negatives there are some pretty special positives as well.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Knit speak

I realise that I am severely limiting myself with regards to potential audience figures by talking about knitting but it is one of the main reasons that I set this thing up in the first place. I have been threatening pictures for a while now and I finally got around to doing them so be pleased. First up for your delectation is the socks that I have been working on recently. As far as I am concerned they are frankly just wonderful. I was going to wait until they where done and handed over (they are meant to be a gift after all) but I'm waiting on a measurement so that I can finish them off and it seems to be taking for eveeeerrrrrrrr to come through and frankly I'm just too darn pleased with them to hide them from public viewing anymore. They are going to be wonderfully warm as I have knitted them out of pure wool so toasty toes are on the menu this winter. I'm just worried that they are not going to fit! If only I had access to peoples feet whenever I needed it all would be fine.
The other picture is of my fluffy green monster. I have already had someone comment that it looks as though I have skinned Sully from Monsters Inc. Well ha, ha aren't you funny and can I just point out that he was blue. Anyway, its actually a shrug (short cardigan for those who need to know) and it will look fabulous over a little black dress. If I ever wear a little black dress ever again that it is but look, the point is that it took FOREVER to make and now its finally done I'm going to sit back and take the praise. So get lavishing with the praise please :)

Just lock me up....

Oh dear, the adverts for Prison Break 3 have now covered the entire world and I can't stop dribbling every time I see one. I vote they keep them all shut up in there and I'll just drop by to deliver cups of tea and cake. I can't wait for it to hit terrestrial TV because of course, Sky has completely monopolised the series so all those lucky people who can afford to pay thousands of pounds a year on an extra TV service and all Americans who have done nothing to deserve the pleasure will get to see it before me.
I think I've missed one episode out of the last two series (due to extremely unavoidable circumstances) so am obviously deserving of special consideration for being such a die hard fan and should be shown it first. In fact, I should be on set to supervise production and check up on quality. I could have very strong opinions on such things as tightness of vest, shade of fake dirt to be applied on the biceps, number of shower scenes etc etc were anyone to bother asking.
Anyway, here's to hoping that they don't make me wait too long! Otherwise I may go mad....

Monday, 24 September 2007

Join S.A.A (Sock Addicts Anonymous)

I'm addicted to socks at the moment. I have always had a love of the old foot glove and have ferociously collected them ever since I was a little girl. I especially like socks with toes in, ones that are extra long or those with bright crazy patterns (stripes are an absolute winner in my book). Just recently however I have also begun knitting socks. My first pair weren't very spectacular despite the wonderful alpaca wool that I bought for them. The pattern was a bit difficult to work and the finished item just looked ugly as far as I was concerned which was just a bit disappointing after having put in all that effort. It took a while for me to get used to the look of hand knitted socks as they are really quite different from the shop bought type but after a while I decided that they appealed and so I have started a new pair for a friend. And I'm really enjoying it which I am quite surprised by. I got a new pattern that had a better heel to it (this was what I hated most about the last pair) and so far its been really good fun. In fact its been so much fun that I have done little else with time but knit my sock, think about socks and lust after sock wool on the internet. And I now have plans for about three more pairs of socks for other people. And I want to take the ugly socks apart and reknit the wool using the new pattern. And then I want to try some of the crazy sock patterns that you see lying around with space invaders, flying cows and snoopy on. Oh, if only there was more time!
So that's it. I'm officially addicted to socks now. Not long ago I was mumbling bitter remarks about how they are tedious and difficult and now look at me. The sock love has sneaked up and taken control of me. There's no hope now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Furniture remover in training

Today I have mostly been humping.
Humping cabinets around the department that is.
We are having a bit of a clear out at the moment and most of them are going off to be sold at the AES show tomorrow (very excited about this as it will be full of loverly bugs). I have spent three yeas at university and walked away with a first class honours degree to be allowed to do this, which as I'm sure you can imagine, I am really appreciating to the max right now. It's not too bad really. At least I get to talk people whilst I do it and there's copious amounts of coffee just to keep us going. But I do feel as though my skills are being wasted in some small way. Having said this I will have the best guns in town by the end of it all!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

How can he write if he's dead?

Have just had the horrible news that Robert Jordan has died. This is terrible! He hadn't finished writing the last of the Wheel of Time series. What are we going to do??? I am on the 4th book at the moment and completely addicted to the series. I know that there are about 15 books in total so I still have a ways to go but whats going to happen when I get to the end? No closure, no closure. Just characters left hanging in mid stream, flickering as the last pages flutter to a close and I'm left on tenterhooks for the rest of my life. With any luck someone will have the good sense to dig out all of his notes and work so far and at least make an attempt to patch the story together into something resembling an ending so that all of us will be able to put the story to bed. This is one of those series that just gets under your skin. Its certainly not the best written set of books I have ever read and they all work around the fantasy premise that you can introduce new characters, plot twists and improbable events at any point throughout a story. There's always going to be the inevitable addition of details which the characters themselves obviously knew all about throughout the previous books but have up until now, failed to mention. But that's okay because by page 50 you're so hooked on the story that you'd happily sell your granny for the next book.
Just beware though people, if you haven't started this series yet then I would have a good hard think before you do. Yes, its one of the most important and iconic series of the fantasy genre but IT WILL NEVER END!

I can't stop listening to this song

Hope there's someone
Who'll take care of me
When I die, will I go

Hope there's someone
Who'll set my heart free
Nice to hold when I'm tired

There's a ghost on the horizon
When I go to bed
How can I fall asleep at night
How will I rest my head

Oh I'm scared of the middle place
Between light and nowhere
I don't want to be the one
Left in there, left in there

There's a man on the horizon
Wish that I'd go to bed
If I fall to his feet tonight
Will allow rest my head

So here's hoping I will not drown
Or paralyze in light
And godsend I don't want to go
To the seal's watershed

Hope there's someone
Who'll take care of me
When I die, Will I go

Hope there's someone
Who'll set my heart free
Nice to hold when I'm tired

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

What are they thinking?

I feel like weeping into my coffee. I doubt that the husband is reacting much better and I can imagine that there are a few detentions being handed out as I type. I mean what exactly is going on with the Sox at the moment? Do they not want to win the division? Are they in fact, deliberately trying to blow it? Why? Why, why, why? If we win the division we get to pick when/how we play the next set of games and we would finally have a pennant to adorn the walls of Fenway with. If we bottle this and then somehow don't win the world series (stranger things have happened lets face it) then we will have nothing to show for this season and dammit we deserve something! We've managed to stay ahead of the Yankees for pretty much the entire season so why waste it now? It makes no sense!!
Bloody men, bloody useless, grr, grr, grumble, grumble.

Beetle tank madness

Urgh, have woken up with a headache. I am putting this down to the fact that I had to spend the better part of yesterday sorting out the beetle tank and this is no mean feat let me tell you. The tank in question is about five by 3 foot in volume and, you've guessed it, full of beetles. It is essentially a tank with a ton of soil at the bottom and branches on top which the beetles then handily decorate. We chucked a few cockroaches and things in there for good measure as well but 90% of everything you find is this one species of beetle in either larvae or adult form. And there are a lot of larvae in there, I mean heaps and heaps of larvae and I really do not like them at all. The big fat ones are the worst as they are about 3cm long and the thickness of my finger and they wriggle. Like horrible wriggly things. Ugh, gives me the creeps just thinking about it.
So at twenty past eight yesterday morning I was digging through this huge tank, desperately trying to avoid all beetle larvae, attempting to round up all adult and cockroaches before they flew away whilst watching the clock as there was a conference starting at nine and I had to be done, dusted and swept up by then.
It was a mission and a half and in the end I dumped all the soil into buckets and hauled it into the department to sort out in relative peace and quiet. It took all morning to pick out all the larvae (with a handy pair of forceps) and I had someone else helping me after about ten.
Why was I doing all this? So that we can sell the little blighters at the Amateur Entomologists Show at the weekend. What are we going to do with the money? I hear you ask. Why, we're going to buy more beetles!

Friday, 14 September 2007

That Friday feeling

Bliss, pure bliss. I get to leave a little early today as I have already worked my hours this week. All these early mornings are useful for something it seems. And what do I have to do when I get in?. Nothing, absolutely nothing.
I can sit back and watch the kittens rip my sofa apart whilst sinking into some sort of stupor where I can forget everything that has ever bothered me in my entire life. NCIS is on later (many thanks to my faithful friend for pointing that one out) which can only help and there are at least three ice lollies left in the freezer- of which two of them have my name on as I can eat more of them than the husband.
Does it get better than this? Well, technically yes, but its the best I've got right now and I can't expect anything else so really that would make it a no. No, it doesn't get any better than this. Well, maybe if a few friends turned up with a couple of cases of beer and some vodka as a 'surprise! we think you are wonderful' party but again, that is highly unlikely. Maybe I should just pretend and bop round the lounge to the music by myself.
Anyway, I hope whatever all you people out there have planned for tonight is fantastically fun and groovy be it sitting on your own sofa, cruising the local pubs or sampling some of that oh so good organic produce that you can get on the market nowadays. If any of you are up to anything more exciting than that then I would appreciate it if you could enjoy it as much as possible but then lie to me about what you where doing in case I have an outbreak of the green eyed monster. My bank balance is the major limiting factor in my own plans for tonight otherwise you can bet your ass that I'd be out there with you.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

We love you Dave Ortiz

Walk off two-run home run in the ninth.
Sweet as.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Noah's Ark

Hah! Am supremely chuffed with myself. One of knitting magazines is running a competition this year where they asked you to design and knit an animal for Noah's Ark. Last year they did a knitted garden which I saw at the knitting show and it was pretty awesome- they even had a knitted deckchair. I decided I was going to enter the one this year and after much deliberation over exactly what it was that I should design I decided it had to be an insect (like, dur). I was originally going to do some kind of beetle thing but seeing as how I have knitted very few toys I wasn't sure about how you would construct such a thing. Knitting toys is a real skill and has some technicalities to it that I have yet to explore so I figured something relatively simple yet showy was in order. I also reckoned that there wouldn't be too many other insect entries so I would stand a reasonably good chance of having the pattern published. The top five entries win a knit your own bear kit from a company that supplies alpaca wool. This is a pretty lame top prize in my estimation but anyone who manages to get their pattern published- and this was an undisclosed number of entries, would get £75 which is pretty sweet. And all the glory that comes from having your name in print of course. Also all entries will be shown at this years knitting shows so at the very least I would be able to visit one and see my entry on show to thousands of other people.
Hence the dragonfly picture. I only just got it done in time (there's nothing like pushing a deadline) as the closing date is this coming Friday but its now in the post and winging its way to the people in charge of the final decisions. Am pleased with the way that it turned out though there are of course one or two things that I would like to change with it. But then I figure that the standards aren't going to be super high as the competition is open to the general knitting community as a whole and I imagine that there are going to be some real shockers. I of course tried hard to make mine as life like and morphologically accurate as possible which has to count for something. I reckon there's going to be a few deformed pandas in there along with the inevitable sea dwelling creatures who technically wouldn't be needing too much space on the ark.
So now I just have to sit back and keep all my fingers and toes crossed that it will at least get published which would make me very very happy. You never know, maybe one day I will be a world famous knitwear designer and I will be able to look back on this as my first faltering footsteps into fame. Having said that , the amount of work it took to come up with a simple dragonfly design might be an indication that I'm still in need of a bit of practice when it comes to juggling needles and wool!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Salisbury visitation

I went all the way to Salisbury yesterday to meet up with my mum and dad and check out the Cathedral and guess what I found out this morning- that the Magna Carta is there, hanging on the wall for all to see. And I missed it! What a mupppet.
We went down to see a display of churchy cloaks that a friend of my mum makes (which where AMAZING! what that woman can do with some material and a sewing machine is just mind blowing. Plus she is now getting into bronze sculpting and that was great too. So much talent in one person. It just seems unfair really) but completely failed to see one of the most important historical documents inside of Britain. Now I'm going to have to go back and that is not something that I am going to relish. Salisbury was a little underwhelming to tell you the truth though it was a Sunday so I guess it might be a bit nicer during the week. We got to hear the choir practice which was nice and check out the lunar disc (which looks like a giant white smartie). They had a nice chocolate shop which we had a quick stopover in :) The drive there though is a bit of a pain and you have to use the hideous A34 with all the really terrible drivers that have collected into the sinkhole and now have to spend eternity getting in the way of normal people. Had a minor case of road rage on a few occasions. Joy. This was all made up for when I got home by the squeaky meows who are starting to learn their names and are therefore quite fun to mess with.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Freak out city

I guess most people know that I suffer from panic attacks by now- for any of you out there that didn't, well, now you know.
The reason that I bring this up is that I was watching a news article this morning on the good old BBofC and they had an interesting stat about people suffering from depression (okay lets ignore the fact that stats are mostly bollocks due to a whole plethora of geeky reasons and get straight into the afterthoughts on this). Apparently, 1 in 10 men will suffer from depression at some point in the their lives. For women, that figure is 1 in 5. This does not including general every day blues or high/low cycle throughout your life (everyone is less happy in the winter period for instance due to crap weather what we do get in this country).
Anyway, this in itself is a worthy topic of discussion but I mention it as a mere sideline to the whole panic attack thing as I hear people speak of this much less often than they do about feeling depressed. My experience leads me to believe that most people do not suffer from panic attacks or high level nervousness as much as they do with depression but I'm starting to wonder if this is true. Maybe its just something that people feel much less able to talk about. Certainly one of the symptoms of having an attack is not wanting to talk about it as you then have to re-live what has essentially been a very traumatic experience.
Its a tough one. Mine tend to go in cycles. When I'm on the up- up to panic attack city that is, then I'm very jittery about the subject. I find that I'm not able to speak about it in any great detail as it tends to trigger one but I also want people around me to know that it is potentially going to happen at anytime so that they are forewarned and hopefully won't assume I'm too much of a freak. When I'm on the way back down I really don't want to talk about it- but then that's around the time the depression kicks in so it's not surprising really. For the rest of the time when things are brighter I tend not to think about them too much. So I guess that there isn't really a good time to talk about this stuff. It's not the easiest thing to drop into conversation either and if I feel this way about it all then maybe its similar for other people.
Still I would be interested to see some form of stats on the subject. Panic attacks are quite an isolating experience and maybe just knowing that I'm not alone in it all- or at least, not as alone as I think I am then it may help a bit.
Of course the other option is packing a rucksack and moving to an island where the population total comes to 1 and my monkey. That would certainly go some way to helping though it would end up a trifle lonely me thinks (there are only so many games of scrabble you can play against a monkey after all).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Is Okajima getting tired?

A question that will be on the mind of many of you today I imagine.
For those of you who don't know, we have a Japanese reliever and starter on the team (Boston Red Sox- though if you didn't know that then you're no friend of mine) this year and both of them are starting to look as though they are running out of steam. Okajima has been performing amazingly so far this year and he is easily one of my favourite players but he does look a little tired on the mound and he's starting to give up runs (hah! if he was anyone else we'd over the moon with his era as it is at the mo). We need to be consolidating our position at this time of year to ensure that we make it to the playoffs, win the pennant and spank the yankees. But we don't want to be doing it at the cost of some of our best players who we will certainly be needing for the post season World Series section. Hmm, a tough balance to find I feel. What would certainly help is if we gave them both a little more run support. Not that we didn't try last night (Varitek was looking great- and he played some good ball) but overall our numbers have been down. Heaven forbid that we actually have to create some runs and drive people round the bases instead of trying to thump stuff over the wall for once. Not that I'd mind if we did get a bunch of home runs, its just that its not something we should be relying on.
Hopefully the fresh blood that we have just bought up to pad the roster out will be just what we need. We've already seen some good plays from them though they still have the 'fresh fish' look whilst they are running around on the field. With any luck they will have settled in and still be on a high streak when we get to the end of the season. If they can just hold off on their major league slump (something that all the newbies seem to go through at some point whilst they readjust to the new settings) until next year.... this will of course mean they are worth more to trade as well should we so desire :)

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

the BIG knit

It was so much fun last night. Our knitting group was hosting/helping out on a charity event where we had to knit lots of tiny bobble hats to go on top of innocent smoothie bottles. These will get sold in Sainsbury's and Age Concern gets 50p for each one sold. I was a bit nervous about turning up as I was worried that no one else would come along. We had tried advertising it a bit but its hard to get the message around to the right people but as it was the manager of the bar where we meet up had been contacting people left right and centre, organised free tea, coffee and biscuits and one of his friends turned up to play guitar for us. It was awesome. I even managed to persuade two of my male friends to turn up and have a go- I was expecting them to bobble make for the evening but they both tried knitting and they both completed their own hats. Totally awesome. I even have the photo to prove it (check out facebook for these. I'll put some photos of the hats on here once the camera lady has e-mailed me them).
We had a nice array of hats by the end of it as well. There must have been at least 50 which is a good start. I'm going to try and make a bunch more this week so that it ups the total a bit. Its completely distracting me from other knitting that I should really be doing instead but this only happens once a year and it is for charity after all!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Taxonomy is rock

Have just spent a rather happy half hour trying to work out the higher classification of Orthoptera (that's crickets and grasshoppers to the rest of the world). I was very pleased to find that it is just as confusing for this group as for any other- there are no good references and people seem to have a complete inability to just put things simply. It makes me feel a lot better about my scientific writing style let me tell you; they even manage to make my day to day typing look like shorthand. I also got to look at lots of pretty pictures of insects under the heading of work. Hah! What could be better? I just don't get it when someone doesn't understand the fascination.
For instance, take mole crickets. Not only do they have big splayed front legs for digging burrows, spend much of their time underground and are covered in soft velvety fur, but they also shape their burrows so that the sound is amplified when they sing. It took humans freaking ages to work that one out and there they are; tiny, preprogrammed and without any real brain, singing away through a home dug amplifier. Tell me that that's not awesome?
To cap it all off we are still trying to work out how these things are all related to each other. We argue constantly in the literature about whether something is basal, ancient, closely or distantly related, what a group is and what should be in it. So much work to do and no time to do it in! especially if you keep distracting yourself with pretty pictures like me... :)

Monday, 3 September 2007

The root of all evil

Hmmm, have been reading some terrible terrible websites today in an effort to gain more control over my overactive brain. The general hypothesis that I've been testing out is that if one is feeling emotional about something- anything in fact, then the solution to this is to apply logic to the situation, thus breaking it down to its component parts and making it easier to deal with as it removes uncertainties from the equation. So to facilitate this I have been reading around on human behaviour- an interesting topic in itself and one that I have never really explored from an academic standpoint before. I'm a people watcher by trade anyway so this is merely an extension of an ongoing daily practice for me. Thus I can figure out the reasons for specific human interactions and responses to not only other people but animals, food, inanimate objects etc. At least that's the theory.
Anyway, the point of all this waffle is that I did come across one important fact that I hadn't really appreciated before today. It's one of those things that we are all vaguely aware of but don't ever think about on a conscious level and that's the point that boys think that actions speak louder than words, whereas girls have a need to talk things through and think that words mean a lot more. Men make decisions, then act upon them and believe that this demonstrates everything that they have to say about something. Unfortunately for all us lady's this just leaves us second guessing as we like to talk our way through to a conclusion, even if we have a pretty good idea of what its going to be from the beginning.
Its no wonder that the sexes have difficulties communicating really is it? How do you take something like that into account without being consciously aware of it at all times? Hum, these things are just too difficult. Basically what it comes to is that we are all doomed from the outset. But I thought it might make a few of you feel a little better about the frustrations of communication!

Fenway, climber extraordinaire

This weekend I have mostly been sat on a bus, suffering from lack of sleep or drunk. Not bad I suppose though I do now have some rather strange bruises and a tendency to lean my head to the right. It was also the first weekend that we left the kittens on their own. I think they have forgiven us due to proffered gift of a catnip stuffed mouse but we're not really sure as they have been going scatty ever since. Fenway has been doing some awesome back-flips and pounces onto his sister- the higher he can get before starting these then the better. Hoshi has been taking the more long term view and has mostly just been looking for somewhere to have a bit of a snooze. The best new trick however is leg climbing. Fenway can now climb the entire length of my leg and get onto the work surface in the kitchen. He has established that this is where the good stuff is kept and seems to think its a land filed with biscuits and cat food with the occasional outcropping of porridge. We hate to disappoint him but he's going to find out one day I guess.