allochthonous: (Default)
This weekend's mission - source all of the ingredients (or reasonable substitutions) for hot cross buns - has been successful, and I have Dan Lepard's recipe on the go. I can't stop picking at the dough, even though they still have another hour and a half left to rise, which I think can only be a good sign. Lazy day today with coffee, laptop, dark chocolate and new Doctor Who, with aforementioned buns to look forward to later on. Conveniently, tomorrow I switch from my old contract (Georgian public holidays) to a new one (Dutch public holidays), so Monday's a day off too. If I wake up early enough, I might go and have a look at the Stalin museum in Gori, although apparently they've taken down the massive statue there, which is a shame.

Although it isn't exactly tropical, it is bright and reasonably sunny here, the almond blossom is out, and spring is generally doing a reasonable impression of having sprung. I am glad for every reason to be two thousand miles away from the 100-year winter, which BBC World is getting enormously excited about. I find some of the reports very difficult to watch: the farmers with no insurance who have lost three-quarters of their lambing ewes under snowdrift, spending days and nights walking over their land trying to find living sheep to rescue. Five years of mild winters and early springs have apparently encouraged famers to let their ewes lamb outdoors, which backfired badly this year; interestingly, the melting arctic sea ice seems to be responsible for the greater extremes, both of warmth and cold, so this probably won't be a one-off. Even though I know academically that climate change is ongoing (hell, it's my job) and happening now, and has a strong link to the increase in extreme weather (hell, "how do we help people cope better with more uncertain and extreme weather?" is the question behind most of what I do at work), it's never not unsettling to be confronted with what it actually looks like.

So anyway, northern Europeans, I hope you warm up soon (please get it sorted before the end of April, as I don't want to have to bring back all my winter clothes with me when I visit). Now to go and pipe some flour and water crosses.
allochthonous: (i cannot rest from travel)
Lack of information on the job front (I know where I'm going, just not when or what I'll be doing when I get there is making me very bad company. Three people in the last couple of days have asked if I'm OK because I seem really distracted; mainly when they ask this I'm mentally calculating what is the shortest amount of time in which I can pack up all my life and head for the hills and did I order the next six months' worth of contact lenses yet (answer: no.). I am supposed to find out for sure one way or another tomorrow, but it is frustrating not to know.

OK, so *deep breaths* good things. I have been to the dentist and don't have to return for another two years (having seen what my mum has had to endure over the years, I will never be able to thank my dad enough for passing on the Good Teeth gene); I have climbed a lot this week and managed another 6A today (and also fell repeatedly off three 5s, so you can't have everything I suppose); I found a cashmere sweater and a Monsoon dress in a charity shop for under twenty quid for the two of them; David Tennant is going to be in Richard II at the RSC this winter AND they seem to be doing the other history plays as well. 

What are you reading now?

This Cold Heaven by Greta Ehrlich, in which she describes a number of trips she made to Greenland over several years, including a winter season she spent there. I will do a proper review of this at some point because it is fantastic - lyrical, poetic and full of absolutely fascinating stuff about the history and culture of the Inuit. Greenland still one of the strangest and most beautiful places I've been, and one day I would love to do a winter visit. A plan is germinating of heading back there with a couple of friends this summer to walk the Arctic Circle trail which will be ten years since I visited (Christ, I left school nearly ten years ago? When did I get so OLD?) and this book is making me want to leave immediately.

What have you finished reading?

I was staying at a friend's place, and picked up an Enid Blyton which I hadn't read - one of the St Clare's books I think? - and blew through it in a couple of hours. I couldn't get enough of those when I was about nine, but I was horrified on the reread about how awful all the girlsare to each other. Why did I ever think I would've liked to go to St Clare's or Malory Towers? I would have been mocked, sent to Coventry and made to play extra lacrosse.

What will you read next?

I found Crossing Places: Journeys among the Armenians in the Oxfam bookshop the other day so I might give that a go. Bread and Ashes is still looking at me accusingly, but it is hardback and quite big, so not very comfortable to read in bed.

Right, I am off do to my fifteen minutes of Memrise Russian and look at climbing harnesses.
allochthonous: (the great outdoors)
STILL NO CONTRACT. But the snow is snowing vigorously and I have high hopes that some of my friends will be having snow days so we can schedule a snowball fight this afternoon. At heart I am still a six-year-old when it comes to the white stuff.

In the meantime, I can't get enough of the #upgoerfive trend on twitter. Inspired by xkcd's Up-Goer Five in which Randal Monroe describes a Saturn V rocket using only the thousand (whoops, ten hundred) most commonly-used words in English, people are now describing what they do using the same ten hundred words. Most interesting are the scientists' (this one by a someone who's researching Titan is great) but it's actually surpisingly difficult even for those of us with slightly more prosaic jobs. Trying to do mine without climate, weather, disaster or sea is tricky, but it does bring a certain clarity (think I used the word "change" enough?).

The world is getting warmer and this means lots of things are changing. Some places are getting hotter and some colder, and some are getting more rain and some less. All these changes can make living in these places harder. I help people work out how they can change the way they live and the way they do things so that they can live in a world where things change more quickly and there may be less food and water. This is sometimes hard because we don't know exactly how and when things will change, but it is important because everyone in the world will feel these changes and will have to learn how to live and do things in a different way.

Anyway, there is a text editor here where you can try your own. Would love to see what people come up with (especially [personal profile] particle_person...).

ETA There's a good collection by scientists here - thinking boxes and space buses abound.
allochthonous: (communist party)
I am out of bed, bandages off and well and truly over being any kind of invalid. All my former teammates are enjoying a giant Christmas party in Vienna, and I am hobbling around the house picking disconsolately at a large block of marzipan which I am supposed to be putting on the Christmas cake.

But! The prospect of future employment has cheered me up no end (SO glad I had that conversation yesterday because I got a trickle of rejections today. I do wish that there wasn't a requirement to advertise jobs if organisations already know they're going to fill the position internally - it's such a waste of everyone's time. At least the emails I got today came right out and said that thye'd basically known who they were going to take all along, so I don't feel that inadequate). I still feel that saying anything about immiment Georgia-ness will jinx it as nothing's been signed, but if all goes to plan then I should be retreating to the Caucasus early next year for much eating of dumplings and cheese pies, drinking of dodgy homebrews and cheap red wine, and (if my boss has anything to do with it) being forcibly taught to ski in ex-Soviet ski resorts. Could be worse.

In honour of the prospect of my buggering off somewhere more interesting, here is something I wrote about Albania. Er, six months ago.

In which I have a Byronic moment. )

Now I am going to go and try and make some panettone. Possibly sacreligious, but I think it might work well with cranberries. After all, most things do.
allochthonous: (i cannot rest from travel)
allochthonous: (london)
Back from Croatia which was lovely, what with seeing people again and red wine and national parks and good news for future project funding, which means I have two very interesting job possibilities in fun places with good people. Neither are confirmed and both start next year, so I still have the usual cashflow issues for the next few months, but it's very much better than nothing. I am very excited about one of them in particular.

I don't care how overpriced, middle class and food snobby it is, I bloody love Borough Market. I rarely actually buy anything there, (see: overpriced) but wandering through you can smell your way through dozens of cuisines, taste all the cheese and olive oil you heart might desire, and then get a very nice coffee (although the queues at Monmouth are out of control. Flat Cap is just as good). I spent a pleasant half hour there this afternoon after being hauled out to Southwark for the launch of the World Disasters Report at ODI's swish new offices. It would've been better if they'd talked less and let the audience discuss more, but still interesting (this year's focus: forced migration) and you get a hard copy which is much easier to read than a 250 page PDF.

My mother has won Best Taste in Show at the local honey show for the third time (she also won second prize), which I assume means that it is only a matter of time before she is kicked out for bee doping. I am dead chuffed for her and it makes having to trip over bit of beehive in the kitchen all summer worth it. She first won it in her first two years of beekeeping, stopped entering out of embarrassment, and this was the first time she's entered since (so will probably never enter again. My family does not really consider winning to be playing fair). It's funny because the honeys that win usually aren't the ones we like best at home (the one that got it was an early lime honey that had a very unsubtle flavour that wasn't terribly interesting, and I can't believe I've actually written that about bloody honey), but Mum maintains that much of the criteria is based on how well you managed to remove every last bee leg from the jar, and she may be right. Anyway, her bees have done well this year, and it means that one of our family has a useful skill applicable post-apocalypse and we can barter honey for food when the waters rise.

I am making sweet potato and ginger soup for dinner, I think, and then tackling the Augean stable that is my bedroom desk. There's piles of paper on there dating back to my uni applications, I think, and recently a brochure for gap year projects made its way to the surface. I'm tempted just to set the whole thing on fire and salt the ashes, but that might be the kind of stain that is difficult to get out of the carpet.
allochthonous: (london)
Out last night with some friends from my MA course, one of whom had just got engaged. We made the mistake of ending up at a pub which, while otherwise lovely, had a house white which cost seventeen pounds a bottle. This did not stop us from consuming a bottle each regardless. I feel I deserve a medal for dragging my hungover butt to bootcamp at 7 am this morning, except I couldn't troll for sympathy because we're supposed to be off alcohol for January. I am comforted by the fact that Science (SCIENCE) is on my G7T-sneaking side, or at least not actively against me.

Today has been a good day for making concrete plans. I have been given a date to start in Belgrade (1st March!), a probable date for a "pre-mission briefing" In Vienna (I am possibly more excited by this than by the posting itself. It sounds so professional! It's held in a city that is known for cake! There is no way it isn't going to be amazing.), and now even a temp job for the next five weeks. Hey, I might even be able to buy new pair of jeans for the first time in a year! Baby steps on the road to functional adulthood.

Plan for tonight: dig in with the Sherlock season 1 DVDs. I lead a busy and exciting life, I do.
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