allochthonous: (Default)
Have an easily accessible injury is the worst. I am unable to stop myself from taking off the bandages every few hours and poking it to see if it's better yet (it isn't).

Oh, we landed on a comet! I follow space exploration somewhat less obsessively than I used to, but this is a major, major achievement and I got rather teary watching live footage of mission control during the landing. Ten years. xkcd as usual is on the case.

I loved this article about The Knowledge, the test all London taxi drivers must pass before they can drive a black cab which requires the memorisation of all 25,000 streets within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross. I defy anyone to watch the video in the article of an aspiring cabbie calling a route from Rotherhithe to the Natural History Museum and not be impressed. Puts my language-learning tribulations into perspective.

What are you reading now?

Racing through Foxglove Summer, the latest Rivers of London which turned up on my kindle this morning. Enormous fun so far, but the rural setting means I am missing Peter's geeking out over London.

What have you finished reading?


Dave Hutchinson's Europe in Autumn, which I think someone on the flist read recently and I thought sounded interesting. It's set in the near future as Central and Eastern Europe have splintered into dozens of tiny polities, and an organisation called the Coreurs facilitates the transmission of people and things across the new borders. It's mostly set in and around these new statelets, and Hutchinson clearly knows the region well - the world building really works, and there's a sympathetic protagonist. But it starts off (and continues for most of the book) as a pretty good spy story, then takes a left turn into something awesome, and then the book abruptly ends. I will pick up the sequel if there is one, but it would have been a better book if (twist) had happened earlier and the implications had been allowed to play out a bit more.

What will you read next?

I am hearing good things about The Goblin Emperor, but the kindle edition seems weirdly expensive. Otherwise I have a whole bunch of actual meatspace books from the frankly eccentric collection that ends up at our English bookswap that I should probably get around to tackling.

In Real Life, I am having to make decisions about my future and I don't like it. Georgia is wonderful and I have a pretty good job, but I'm getting a bit too comfortable here, and I want to move on (God knows what it says about me that getting comfortable somewhere makes me immediately want to leave). But to where and to do what is a little more difficult to work out. Real life is hard.
allochthonous: (then you can tell if it's summer)
It is so disgustingly hot. The warm water dripping from air-conditioning vents makes it feel like even the buildings are sweating and everything is flat and heavy and there is squashed fruit underfoot everywhere which normally I find charming but now is just yuck. In protest I have holed up in my flat with three books of Russian grammar and a bottle of wine in an attempt to crack Russian dates. No luck so far, but a lot of Sebastian Stan (I have finally worked out what tumblr is for).

I was briefly in London the other week, which meant (almost) All The Theatre.

Julius Caesar, The Globe )

The Crucible, The Old Vic ).

Titus Andronicus, The Globe )

I had a ticket for Antony & Cleopatra the day before I left, but sadly had to go emergency shopping instead (stupid Sunday opening hours). My annoyance at missing Eve Best and Clive Wood is mitigated by the fact that the Globe now DVDs everything, and they usually do it quite well too.

The forecast is for 37 C tomorrow. I am so ready for autumn right now.
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: (gin o'clock)
I am not totally convinced about this Barclays Front Row business at the Donmar Warehouse. They release a bunch of ten quid tickets for their curret production every Monday morning, but the damned things sell out in a couple of minutes. Previously I haven't been able to get any for Julius Caesar; today I got a couple in my basket, then the site jammed and they didn't go through. I know the previous system of day tickets discriminated against people with actual jobs which might look askance at their employees taking the morning off to hang around in Covent Garden, but it was quite sociable and you could go on coffee runs to Monmouth. They still do standing tickets, so I think I'll just get one of them. Fortunately this production of JC seems to be fairly heavily edited.

Celebrated Twelfth Night (or possibly Thirteenth Night, depending if you see Christmas Night (which may or may not be Christmas Eve) as First Night or 0th Night. Tricky.) with a readthrough of Twelfth Night with [personal profile] kerrypolka and [livejournal.com profile] hoshuteki  and various other lovely people and a superb dog. I drew the spotlight part of the Second Officer, whose crowning moment in which he arrests Antonio (allowing him to break off for a monologeue or two en route) is surely a highlight of Elizabethan drama; also, Sebastien who has not a brain in his pretty little head and is marvellously unfazed by strange women dragging him in off the street and marrying him, and also unable to recognise his twin sister in drag and Maria, who is all about the Witty Banter with Sir Toby & co., but this is a little obtuse when you do not have an annotated edtion, which we did not. Ah, Shakespearean comedies. Still, fantastic night sadly brought to an early close by the vagaries of Sunday public transport (one day, Berlin). I am liking the date-appropriate readthroughs. Julius Caesar on the Ides of March? Henry V upon St Crispin's day? The possibilities are endless.

I am trying to obtain Caucasus books but there does not appear to be a whole lot of travel literature around, and what there is is out of print. Gap in the market? I THINK SO.
allochthonous: (london)
January 1 is traditionally the one day a year where the people of London get to discover what it is to have a civilised public transport system that doesn't close at midnight, before spending the rest of the year fuming when they get stranded at Bank at 11.32pm on a Sunday evening having missed the last Central line train west. It took me a quarter of the time to get home from London Bridge (excellent houseparty with heavily port-spiked mulled wine. Photographic evidence indicates that the macarena may have been involved) than it would do via night bus at 4am. Two girls next to me were marvelling breathlessly "It's like living in Berlin!". For one night we can dream.

Today was also the first clear day for weeks, and so we went down to Richmond and walked back along the river, dodging an alarming number of small children on Christmas bicycles and scooters on the way. Riverine London is always good value, and even the slightly boring bits at Brentford looked lovely in the sunshine, adorned with flocks of herons and parakeets which is a combination one is unlikely to find elsewhere. Finished off with a (pretty good) flat white from the brand new posh coffee place that opened today down the road from my tube station, and now lounging on the sofa with a cat on my stomach, anticipating a(nother) roast dinner this evening. 2013 is going well so far.
allochthonous: (Default)
The weather is terrible, but this is OK because I am sitting in bed eating a Lindt father christmas and writing thank you notes (I did very well in lovely new stationery this year) with the aid of a thoroughly neurotic cat who still isn't over all the Christmas comings and goings.

Boxing Day is Brisk Country Walk Day whatever the weather, so a couple of friends and I had a wonderful muddy walk in Surrey which was made even better by my friend's dog, who was having one of those days of complete doggy joy, and ran and ran and ran and jumped into flooded streams and shook herself all over us and then did it all again, and it improved everything no end. I am normally a cat person, but you have to admit that they can't really compete with dogs in the exuberance stakes; they have too much dignity (she says, as her feline assisstant accidentally rolls backwards off the bed for the second time). Boxing Day is also Ham and Cheese day, and my dad's festive treat to himself involves buying up a considerable amount of the stock of Neal's Yard Dairy, so we had ten British cheeses to stuff ourselves with over dinner. Cornish Yarg wins for its name alone, but there was also a very nice mild one from Orkney and something called stichelton which is like stilton but not quite as aggressive. I had some very odd dreams last night.

Another fine BD tradition is rewatching the Doctor Who Christmas special to try and work out what the hell is going on when my brain is not fugged by several tonnes of champagne, roast beef, parsnips and brandy butter. Happily, it was the first Christmas special in quite a while that I was actually keen to see a second time.

'Good evening, I am a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife.' )

Oh, and I've barely had a chance to look at Yuletide yet, but I did crack up at this Invisible Cities fic (is texting fic now a Yuletide Thing?) I found via [personal profile] newredshoes. Marco Polo really is kind of an ass, and the worst person ever to take travel advice from.
allochthonous: (Default)
Presents wrapped, Christmas cake iced, cardamom bread in the oven and cava in the fridge. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and a fabulous, food-filled day to everyone regardless. Now have some Bach.
allochthonous: (spirit)
There have been so many mornings when the idea of staying in bed for the whole of the rest of the day would have been absolute bliss, but I can now report that it gets pretty boring pretty quickly. I had an operation yesterday (they yanked a good couple of feet of veins out of my legs and I got to donate them to SCIENCE, which I was pleased about. Also, they looked like spaghetti in tomato sauce. You're welcome.) which went fine and came with a free cup of tea and a mince pie (all hail the NHS). However, for the next couple of days I am obliged to lie around with my leg in the air, a cat on my stomach and a dog with its nose pressed hopefully against my hip in case I may be able to produce cheese from somewhere about my person (a triumph of hope over expectation), with only the internet to keep me entertained. Which it is unaccountably failing to do (where's a fandom meltdown when you need one?) so I may be forced to resort to writing Christmas cards. If things get really bad, I may end up organising my travel photos from the last three years and even *gasp* sticking them in albums. I hear it's a things some people do.

I am worried that the bright orange disinfectant ("Camouflage for your next trip to Essex!" said my surgeon brightly) they use does not appear to be coming off my legs any time soon. It may be time to break out the BBC Pride and Prejudice box set.
allochthonous: (communist party)
Happy Thanksgiving to my American flisters, and happy Thursday to everyone else! Thanksgiving is really the best kind of holiday, and I am always sad there is no British equivalent, but that doesn't preclude you from eating delicious food tonight anyway.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving the First, with a group of old school friends (some of us more convincingly American than others, but all capable of a cracking pie when need arises - which reminds me I need to get E's buttermilk pie recipe, it was excellent cold for breakfast), and usually the only Thanksgiving I attend, because it's very rare my entire family is ever on the same continent at the same time so we normally don't bother beyond a token pie (or two). But this year we are hosting a minor invasion of the Real American branch of the family, so Thanksgiving Proper is occurring for the first time in years. My work is cheerfully accommodating about "cultural holidays" so I have the day off, and I am using it to make pies and then try and instagram them, which is what most of twitter appears to be doing, and we have that West Wing episode with CJ and the turkeys in the background, and many bottles of fizz in the fridge and all is very right with the world. It will be even righter if the cranberry upside down cake doesn't stick to the tin, but as of this moment, hope is a wonderful thing.

And on an entirely unrelated subject *cough* Grace Jones advises how to get wasted elegantly. "Someone please fetch my knickers, I'm leaving now".
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)
When I was away I had a vaguely drunken conversation with a Parisian expat about how living abroad makes you appreciate your home town more, and about how when we go home we stand on bridges and love our cities. And that is exactly what I do when I come back to London, I come out of Embankment and cross the Hungerford Bridge and look at St Paul’s and the Eye and the Gherkin and the Shard (which has certainly come on a bit since I last saw it) and Tower Bridge in the distance and think that there are not many places so beautiful. I estimate it will be at least a couple of months before the usual irritations start welling up and I shall want to be elsewhere again. But for the moment, wandering around my town which I love with a pretentious coffee in my hand (a cortado from Notes tastes just like burnt caramel, it really is outrageously good), I am perfectly content and know I will always come back here.

I am also going to the theatre a lot too (by which I mean the Globe, because £5 tickets are a wonderful thing).

Henry V, BBC (contains a lot of ranting) )

Henry V, The Globe )

Richard III, The Globe )

So that’s my life at the moment: theatre and London and seeing people who I haven’t seen for months (if you are in London and I haven't seen you then I should! Let's go to the pub!) and also jobhunting (that is a lie. I am not jobhunting at all). I have no idea what's going to happen next (in which respect I haven't advanced much since graduating four years ago, which is not an encouraging thought), but no doubt something will turn up. In the meantime, London is awesome. That is all.

Snoooow

Dec. 1st, 2010 03:09 pm
allochthonous: (secret shakespearean boyfriend)
I came out of the National yesterday evening to see snowflakes billowing like smoke in the blue and yellow spotlights lights over the side of the building and spiralling up the windtunnels create by the theatre's rather peculiar architecture. None of it is settling, exactly, but the sheer joyof being in a heavy snow shower, of looking upwards and feeing the whole sky falling into you is something I've never seen enough to get tired of. If I had a time machine one of the first places I would visit would be one of the winters when the Thames froze and frost fairs were held on the ice (maybe 1814, when there was an elephant). There is a book in a shop near uni full of beautiful Dutch pictures of Thames frost fairs and I am having winter envy. Someone needs to rebuild old London Bridge so it slows the river flow and the Thames can freeze again.

I was seeing Hyntner's Hamlet, which I thought in general was very good (Kinnear was great, though a touch on the old side), but wasn't totally sold on all of the casting (dubious about Polonious, and Horatio was basically just there - the guy next to me said that he might as well have been Hamlet's imaginary friend, given he doesn't talk to anyone apart from the guards at the beginning). The fnal scene was dead good though, one of the most convincing and least silly-looking duels I've seen. Also, Shakespeare directors: please find some way to indicate Ophelia's madness other than having her take her kit off. Sheesh.

No more snow today. I would mind less if I didn't keep getting texts from my sisters about sledging and snowball fights.

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