The other day I mentioned a Christmas social event at the office: an organised crafting event for any colleagues who were interested to do a small cross-stitch kit together. Amazingly, in just over a week, I’ve managed to finish it. I would say that’s a personal record at finishing some sort of craft project for me, but it’s rare enough for me to complete one at all.
Personally I think it’s a bit scrappy; I can see lots of uneven and slightly wonky stitching, whole patches where the threads are making strange knots insted of neat crosses.
Moreover, if you compare this to the previous “in progress” picture, you can see I did get annoyed enough to go back and redo an entire section. Misunderstanding the instructions and the nature of the thread, when I started I started off stitching the red breast with only a single thread, not doubling the thread up as I was supposed to—my excuse is that each of the “single threads” are actually spun from two threads twisted together. Unpicking all the red also involved accidentally unpicking some of the orange too, so if you know where to look you can see a few places where stuff has been redone a few times.
Will I go on to do more cross-stitch? Well, it was a fun way to spend a few evenings. Maybe if I can find some more kits that aren’t irredeemably twee, I might do.
At the weekend, I did a bit more work on the papercraft pinhole camera I posted about the other week.
Can you see the mistake I made near the start, but didn’t realise until everything was set truly firm and solid? The dashed lines marked on the card are a bit of a clue. The entire central portion of the body is upside-down. Because the film passes through the body off-centre, this means that the frame mask is in the wrong place: it’s about 3mm or so too high. The photos this camera takes are going to have their bottom sprocket holes exposed, but (unless I take a scalpel to the frame mask) will have a black band along the top. Oh well: it’s not as if they were ever going to be perfect photos in any case. I did, at least, realise this before sticking on the film guide rails, because if I’d put those the wrong way round, with the fat one at the bottom and the thin one at the top, the camera would be completely unusable. As a 35mm film canister is handed, they have to be the right way round for the film to slot properly into place. Luckily, I decided to measure up the guide rails against the leader of a new film, and immediately realised what I’d already got wrong.
The next step is the takeup reel, which worries me because, even more so than the “shutter”, it’s the one part of the camera that’s made from card but needs to function mechanically. It feels as if the tolerances in this part of the machine are quite tight, which should hopefully help, so long as they’re not too tight that it takes a camera-destroying force to turn the wind-on knob. You can see that in these pictures: a hollow card hexagon which I would imagine is quite easily distorted if the wind-on action is a bit stiff.
Incidentally this camera has no sort of rewind mechanism. The instructions suggest you take it to a photography shop to get the film out again after it’s exposed. Luckily, I have a changing bag I can use to do it myself.
The next update on this project is here.
It’s dark outside. It’s not night, but rain-gloomy and grey. It feels dark. Winter is on its way. Soon, it will be dark.
Lots of things have come to an end in the past year; but lots more have begun. The year may be coming to a close, but the next one will be just around the corner. So much has changed for me in the past 12 months, that for the first time in a while I’m thinking like an optimist. I’m a changed person. I might not still be sure who I am, what I’m looking for, and where I’m going, but I’ve taken several steps along the path. I’ve made mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them.
I can’t say where I would be if I hadn’t done X, or Y, or Z. You never know how things would have changed if you’d taken a different path one morning. Driving to work today, I saw a car parked on a sharp bend, and slowed down. Its driver was stood by on the phone, and an unconscious biker was laid by the side of the road. The ambulance was still on its way. Maybe, if I’d left home five minutes earlier, it would have been my crash.
This isn’t meant to be a melancholic post, by the way. I don’t know what’s coming round the next corner, and I’m not sure I want to. I’m just going to see what happens, and make decisions as I get to them. I don’t have a strategy; I don’t have a plan. I’m probably going to make more mistakes at some point, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to stop anyone else making mistakes either, because they deserve to learn things too.
Samhain is coming up, so here are two vows for the next year.
Avoid getting close to people you don’t trust utterly. If you’re wary about somebody, you’re wary for a reason. The closer you let yourself get to somebody, the more you’re risking being hurt, even if neither of you realise it at the time.
Let people make their own mistakes. Some things can’t be taught; they have to be learned. Even if you can see they’re going to hurt themselves, sometimes you have to stand back and let them. If you try to stop them, they’re not going to listen, and you’re only going to make things worse.
This isn’t about you. Sometimes, when I post here, all I’m doing is talking to myself.
Owning up to your mistakes is almost always the best thing to do. In an hour or so, it looks like I’m going to be proved wrong about something.
Specifically, something I wrote almost a year ago,* when I said: “at the earliest, [Tony Blair is] going to resign in the first quarter of 2009″. It looks, now, that I’m going to be nearly two years out, and that he’s going to give up power before getting within a year of Thatcher’s longevity record. On the other hand, I’m not the only person who was wrong. According to the article that prompted the earlier post, this time last year most Labour MPs weren’t expecting him to go until 2008. I still don’t believe he would give up power willingly until 2009, if he thought he could get away with it. I think that saying “yes, I’m going to resign, but not yet” is a bloody stupid way to run any sort of organisation, to be frank. Moreover, I’m wondering just how many journalists who have previously said “Blair will resign in 2008″, or similar things, will admit that they were wrong about it.
There’ll be plenty more chances for my predictions to come true in the future, of course. In January this year I said that George W Bush will still be alive in 2009, despite the “Nostradamus-inspired” prediction of author Mario Reading. I’m betting that my own prediction there is rather more secure than Reading’s – or than my earlier prediction about Blair. We’ll just have to wait and see.
* fifty-one weeks ago yesterday, in fact.
You know that feeling you get when you’ve been away for a few days? By the end of the holiday it feels as if you’ve been away from the office forever; but when you get back, hardly a thing has changed.
My desk still has piles of useless paperwork on it, and Big Dave is still stressing about the amount of work he has to do. It doesn’t help that he still keeps getting “help!” calls from random people when he’s in the middle of urgent work, of course. From his mother-in-law, for example, who this morning put Dave’s stepson’s new £250 mobile phone through the washing machine, and wanted to know how to fix it. A full cycle, apparently, although I’m not sure if it was a boil-wash. Big Dave’s advice: “put it in the airing cupboard for a bit, and whatever you do don’t tell him about it until you’re sure it’s knackered.”
In the meantime, I have a big pile of mundane and tedious things to do, which haven’t been done since before I went away. Updating all those files that need updating every few days but don’t work automatically. Generating nice reports for the management. Doing the inter-departmental billing run. All those jobs that really don’t need any brain, but which for one reason or another can’t be automated very well, because of all the exceptions and special cases that go against the rules. Why they fall on my shoulders to do, I’ve never been entirely sure – possibly in an attempt to persuade me to work out how they can be automated, in order to avoid boring myself into a coma. If only they were so boring that I could daydream at the same time; but they’re not, that’s why they need a human to do them.*
This isn’t the sort of task, to be honest, that makes me sit and think “my god, I need another job.” At least this sort of task doesn’t involve inter-divisional politics, or any of the related nastiness. This is just the sort of task that keeps me bumbling away in “Room 3B, IT office” (as the new sign on the door almost says)** wishing I could turn off my computer and go and do something more interesting instead.
* We’re talking about jobs like: reconciling our internal phone system’s billing reports with BT’s billing reports. Which is a hard job for a computer to do because their clocks aren’t synchronised, and they disagree on how long each call lasts. I could write a program that would match on the phone number first then look for fuzzy matches in the other fields, but for a job I only have to do once a quarter it’s not worth the effort.
** that’s one thing that’s changed whilst I was away, a new sign on the office door. I have thought about editing the IT building plans so it is actually called Room 3B, but haven’t got round to it yet. We already have our own room numbering system for some parts of the building, because when it was last rebuilt the Facilities Management office didn’t get around to telling us what the official room numbers were until long after we needed to number the rooms ourselves.