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These chickens are fish in a barrel

1. I watch both Elementary and the BBC Sherlock and I enjoy them both, and I’m not usually one to make a huge fuss over straying from canon, but in both shows I could really do without all the wishy-washy stuff about how Holmes really loves Watson deep down but has trouble expressing his feelings. Rot. Conan Doyle made it very clear (minus the psycho-babble) that Holmes is a sort of high-functioning borderline sociopath who has no need or desire for intimacy. I want my Sherlock Holmeses to be amusing non-fuck-giving assholes who solve crimes in clever ways. That’s it. I’m sorry but I don’t care how Sherlock Holmes is feeling. More code-breaking! Less soul-baring!

2. I’m the only person I’ve ever met who never plays any sort of games at all. Not at any time ever. I hate all games. I don’t play video games or card games or board games or drinking games (Jesus WHAT IS THE POINT of drinking games I am perfectly capable of putting alcohol into my mouth without bouncing a ping-pong ball into a Solo cup first). And I’m sure it’s an absolute riot but no, I don’t want to play Cards Against Humanity. It’s not just a mild aversion, either – on the odd occasion I let myself be press-ganged into playing Scrabble or whatever I’m fine for about twenty minutes and then I start to feel angry and resentful and trapped. There are just a million things I would rather be doing than arranging tiles on a board for points. Especially at social gatherings. Can’t we all just talk and interact normally? Isn’t that the whole point of us being here? Instead I have to do that and and at the same time concentrate on performing some stupid arbitrary task? NO. WHY. People are weird.

3. I very randomly ended up at a gig in Shoreditch recently and I saw these guys and they were amazing. Like, amayyyyyyzing. (They were also very gracious when I told them so afterwards.) How are they not super-duper famous? Help me correct this injustice!

4. I recently said to an English person that they had “lucked out” and they weren’t sure what I meant. They thought “lucked out” sounded like it should be a bad thing. After all these years I’m still coming across expressions that haven’t made it over the pond, or subtle differences like “blowing someone off” vs “blowing someone out”. If I broke plans with someone, I would say I’d blown them off. British people think this sounds hilariously filthy.

5. If you are a heroine in a Victorian novel who has married the wrong person, don’t despair! He will inevitably die. Here is a very abridged list of Victorian heroines whose ne’er-do-well husbands have conveniently snuffed it:

– Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch
– Mercy Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit
– Agnes Grey in Agnes Grey
– Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda
– Emily Wharton in The Prime Minister
– Bathsheba Everdene in Far From The Madding Crowd

Don’t mess with Victorian heroines is the moral here, I guess.

Long dark night of the sole

Still crazy busy with moving stuff (though the move to Bedford is now not happening – more on that later), but I had to share this because it is brilliant:

A colleague of mine told me about a classmate back in school who was meant to do a project on fishing equipment. For some reason he decided to take the piss, and instead turned in a wooden box filled with fish hooks. On the top of the box was a picture of a fish and the words ‘My Struggle’. Every time I envision this I just laugh and laugh and laugh. The guy got a failing grade on the project (and apparently there were some health & safety concerns about the loose fish hooks), but went on to be rather successful. Clearly he is some sort of genius.

Holiday photo roundup

Hello! I am BACK. The West Coast is so preternaturally, mind-blowingly pretty it made me seriously, SERIOUSLY question my life choices. Perhaps one day I’ll move back to BC. Though I’ll have to assemble a harem of English men to take with me. (Any takers?) I can’t be doing with the baseball cap brigade. Seriously: SO MANY BASEBALL CAPS. Baseball caps and pickup trucks, baseball caps and pickup trucks, as far as the eye could see.

Highlights of my trip:
The Dirty Dancing board game spotted in the window display of a charity shop (“Do not pass go. Proceed directly to corner.”)
The sign outside a church in Victoria reading “Forbidden fruit produces many jams” (sounds delicious!)
The garden ornament store called “Classic Rock”

…Oh, and seeing seals and whales and eagles and swimming in warm bays and mountain lakes and going sea kayaking and visiting with friends and relatives I haven’t seen in decades. But mostly the Dirty Dancing board game because CAMMAN. If I’d had room in my luggage I would so own that right now.

holiday luggage

But see? I did not have room. I had to take this photo because I am incredibly proud of how little I packed. I iz in ur airport, disprovin ur gender stereotypes!


On the ferry.

stairs to beach

We spent the first week on Salt Spring Island. Lousy with hippies, that place, but some pretty, boy. These were the steps down to our PRIVATE BEACH. Are there any two more beautiful words in the English language? (Besides “open bar”, of course?)

view from the beach

PRIVATE. BEACH. I went swimming here.

salt spring piano

There are public pianos all over Salt Spring.

otter paw prints

Otter paw prints! We were told that this guy passes through the garden of the holiday rental every day, but we never got to see him. Gutted. Probably for the best because I would not have been able to stop myself from trying to cuddle him and subsequently being badly mangled. (It would have been worth it.)

dock - vesuvius bay

On the dock at Vesuvius Bay.

ferry 2

Ferry from Salt Spring to Vancouver Island.

victoria marina

Victoria city centre. Not a bad lookin’ town, eh.

the gorge

The Gorge, which runs through Victoria. Our holiday rental in Victoria overlooked it.

totem pole

Totem pole, Victoria marina.

thetis lake

Thetis Lake. I went swimming here.

sooke potholes

Sooke Potholes. I went swimming here too.

chinatown restaurant

Shanghai City restaurant in Chinatown. So good we ate there twice.

bc museum

British Columbia Museum.

bc museum 2

British Columbia Museum. I love this room.

tim hortons doughnut

I couldn’t let the trip end without having a proper doughnut!

Don’t die, Hitachi-bot!

I had a bit of panic last week. It appeared that my Hitachi-bot (my affectionate pet name for my external hard drive) (What? Robots need love too! Don’t judge me, man!) had decided to go on strike. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if my files had been properly backed up. But they weren’t. They were all living on my Hitachi-bot.

I know, I know. I KNOW, OK? And I was so good for such a long time, all backin’ up regular like a champ! But then my laptop nearly died and I had to go back to using my old PC and I dumped all my files onto the Hitachi-bot, planning to copy them straight over to my hard drive, but then I never got round to it. The regretful refrain of procrastinators the world over.

Aaaaaanyhoodle, last week I started noticing that one of my folders wouldn’t load properly. And not just any old folder – the folder with all my public domain images in it. Probably the most irreplaceable single folder on my computer, containing several thousand files collected over years of patiently mining Wikimedia Commons – all my pictures of Victorian ladies in corsets and vintage cars and scientific illustrations and medieval woodcuts and old newspapers and diagrams of machine parts. My bread and butter, basically. When I opened the folder, I could only scroll down about halfway before everything would just freeze up.

There was some anguished self-recrimination going on at Rowan Tree HQ, I can tell you. Not to mention the pleading. “Noooooo, Hitachi-bot!” I cried, wringing my hands and shedding bitter tears. “Don’t do this to me! I’m begging you! Live! LIIIIIIIIIIIIVE, DAMN YOU!”

When this approach failed (heartless fucking robot) I tried a marginally more logical tack. First I backed up every single other thing on the hard drive. The problem did appear to be restricted to the one folder, which was promising. Then I started moving files into subfolders in small batches. Which took aaaaaaaaages, but I managed to isolate and delete about twenty corrupted files.

And then my Hitachi-bot slowly opened its little electronic eyes (no it didn’t) and took a deep metallic breath (again no) and looked up at me trustingly (hmm) and I knew that everything would be OK from now on (clearly I have some issues).

I’m properly backed up now, and I haven’t had any problems since (this bit is true). There’s nothing like a crisis narrowly averted to make you count your blessings.

Speaking of procrastinating, when was the last time I did a new collage sheet? Months now? Wow. I do hate to break a streak, but hey. Here’s a new collage sheet for ya. It’s maritime theme-y, with ships and anchors and octopuses and fishes and seashells and stuff (check me workin’ my SEO skillz!). Visit my Etsy shop or my Folksy shop for details.

‘Deep Blue Sea’ 3x1in Digital Collage Sheet

Hey, happy whatever

Joyous tidings to you all, &c., &c. My mood is much improved, thanks in part to a great evening out at the pub last Saturday, during which I made several new friends and was inexplicably hugged by a number of French rugby players in fancy dress. (Who wouldn’t find that cheering??) I tried out my mostly-forgotten French language skillz on one of them, who asked if I was Belgian. I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult (probably the latter). Another one was dressed up as a gift-wrapped robot (robo-cadeau!), and charmingly produced a flask of cognac from his sock: truly a (robot) gift that keeps on giving.

We’re off to Tom and Dawn’s for Christmas, where we will stuff ourselves to bursting with mind-blowingly good food (seriously, those two ought to tag-team on Masterchef) and plentiful vats of booze. I may not survive the intented orgiastic levels of excess, but at least I’ll die happy. And I wish the same to you.