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razor edges
reflections, predictable transformations, and barrier properties
If you give me topics in the comments, I will attempt to write about them. Because "every day" is a bit much for me, I'm going to put up 15 slots, and a further 10 as stretch goals, ie. for if I end up with writing energy left over when I've done the first set.

1. Art & science
2. Being a Quaker
3. Conversation
4. Is the trend towards urbanisation sustainable?
5. Trying to balance multiple factors in self-care (inspired by Soylent)
6. How I define artistic success, and how the gap between that and others' notions affect my art
7. Universal Basic Income
8. Interesting things in Derby


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OK, so Asylum of the Daleks was appallingly bad, but Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was actually pretty good apart from Matt Smith. (I don't have anything much against him, but he was just eclipsed here.)

I especially liked the way Queen Nefertiti followed the annoying hunter dude back to his own time with a dinosaur trank rifle. Ten minutes after the credits end, a half-dozen underpaid & underappreciated local blokes will find him unconscious with his trousers pulled down and some scornful comments in hieroglyphics painted on his arse.

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Once upon a time a young girl dreamt of a playground. It was filled with beautiful men and handsome women. They told stories not just with their voices but with the whole of their bodies. With fire, water, ice and a nipple tassel or two. Now, for one night only, she has taken over a beautiful, Victorian town hall to make it happen.

Alchemist Dreams present a narrative extravaganza at Limehouse Town Hall, with operatic circus skill performances, boylesque, "the myth of Medea... with a naughty twist", delightfully complex & unusual games run by spiker_uk, and their own artisan spirits & unique cocktails.

I'll be there with a stall (and with [personal profile] mirabehn as my beautiful assistant), selling jewellery, art prints, cards, and miscellanea, all at very reasonable prices and many with a storytelling theme.

I'm told the other stalls will involve delicious baked goods, fine corsetry, and interesting brass jewellery, but I don't have names or links yet.

Tickets are £10 early-on, £20 in advance, and £30 on the door if there are any - last time, everything went very fast, so I recommend getting in early!

[If you're on Facebook, there's an event here too.]

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Dear people who wear fascinators (specifically, but not solely, the kind which consist of extremely small hats) and other things in their hair:

Do you prefer the kind mounted on small combs, the kind mounted on Alice bands, or the kind mounted on those unnecessarily-complicated-looking metal clips?

Or some other method?

Thank you!

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So, I got some rather entertainingly creepy Twitter spam yesterday.

@Bravenewventure: @Eithin Good afternoon. A study of your profile has determined you to be a possible candidate for a role at #BraveNewVentures. Interested?

Turns out this is some sort of Shoreditchy ARG-cinema-thing run by Fabien Riggall, who does Secret Cinema (warning: website plays noise at you). So this is almost certainly very badly directed please-please-buy-a-£35-ticket-and-join-our-game marketing spam, but I wanted to see how far it went, so gave them a standard "sure, email me details of the role and we'll see" response.

Turns out it's not just marketing spam, but fractally stupid marketing spam! Somehow, they picked me, of all people, to offer an unpaid "job" posting spam on their behalf, presumably trying to recruit people to post spam and buy absurdly expensive tickets to their events. Also, apparently, they're offering everyone the "Chief Information Officer" title, which is a bit crap in itself. 30 seconds' research found four people claiming to be Chief Information Officer for Brave New Venture, which is just comedic. Also, once you've paid for your ticket, you get inside and get the opportunity to pay more for in-game money, buy drinks, and pay for food. Definitely only an evening for rich people!

Of course, I wouldn't be nearly so annoyed about this if it weren't for the catastrophic mistargeting (who pitches expensive event tickets to people who tweet about disability benefits?) and the fake "job" thing. As far as spam goes, "We have a job for you" is the new "You may already have won £10 million". I'm not about to fall for it, but that doesn't mean I enjoy having my poor-disabled-working-class nose rubbed in the fact that people who can afford to pay £35 for a ticket to a mysterious, undetailed event think that a) I'll do their advertising for the vague promise of a treat after I've paid up myself, and b) jobs and employment are something to play games around.

In fact, it's not just employment generally: what they're specifically "offering", within the game context (which I didn't agree to join, so having people try to talk to me within it is irritating in itself) is unpaid and stringently assessed tasks, with further "work" depending on performance. As advertising goes, this is really quite spectacularly mistimed. I'm trying very hard to avoid workfare in real life, so being offered it as an "opportunity" to pay for in a game (giving the organisers a real-life benefit at that) is pretty offensive. If something sounds interesting, I'll tweet about it; if I've been there and liked it, I'll encourage others; but as far as publicity on the basis of one generic, not-even-slightly-personalised email goes, this post is all they're getting. The good news is that I'm not going to invoice them for it.
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Recipe by [personal profile] mirabehn's suggestion, after I invented it to feed them the other day. Makes a very thick soup to serve 4, more or less.

Take 4 largish onions (I used two red & two yellow, because that's what I had): chop & sautee them until soft & tasty.
Open & drain a tin of black beans (black turtle beans) and make up 500ml or so of stock. I used gluten-free veg stock, but if you don't need that then beef stock works very well indeed.
Scatter thyme liberally. Turn up the heat, & slosh a generous, er, slosh of brandy in. When it's bubbled off and smelling lovely, tip in the beans and the stock, and top up with about 200 or 300ml of beer. I used Bombardier, but anything on the darkish end of bitter works well, or stout.
Cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes or so.
Put in noodles, let them cook, and it's ready!

If you want to eat it the traditional way, put a slice of soft white bread and some mature cheddar in the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup over.

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It's been nearly ten years since I disposed of books in any quantity (ie. anything approaching 5% or so of the collection) so it's time for another cull. They come in three main categories, and if any of you want any of them, sing out now! Otherwise, they'll go to a charity shop when I have the spoons. I don't want anything for them (unless it's really valuable to you for some odd reason, in which case mine's a pint of IPA) but I can't do postage. Happy to meet up and hand things over, if you're within range or we're going to be meeting anyway in the next month or two.

First, actual decent books I have duplicates of, or know I can find again in the unlikely event of actually wanting to re-read them. Read more...Collapse )
Second, half-decent tat and books I don't want but someone might. Read more...Collapse )
Third, there's a crate or so of things I have trouble imagining anyone, anywhere, ever wanting to read. (Not exhaustive, mostly listed for comedic effect.) Read more...Collapse )

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I went to a talk by Vinay Gupta last night, and have written up my notes over on Eithin. It's long, so I'm not going to copy it all here, but it was absolutely fascinating.

Important question to ask: whether the future actually is amenable to analysis. Strict rationality and utilitarianism will inevitably fail, so at some point you will have to make decisions on moral grounds instead (is it better to save young people, or older people, or families? People here, or people there? To consider QALY, local priorities, or ripple effects?) And the thing which informs the moral frameworks we use to make those decisions is aesthetics. Quert: choice of beauty. Also, EO Wilson’s use of “concinnity”. That’s how we get the title of this series: truth and beauty. “I’m an engineer, and I think have a pretty good handle on truth by now, but I’m getting to level 80 and it’s full of artists! My artist friends are laughing at me, finally asking lots of questions. Join the club, white boy. …Beige boy.”

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Joss Whedon is making a film of Much Ado About Nothing. With the people you'd expect to be involved. I expect a prevailing south-westerly Awesome, with occasional brief mizzlings of Fail. Also, women running barefoot through the gardens.

I can't find a proper DP online, but looking at the website, here's what I'd expect. Please feel free to disagree and provide alternate castings!

Amy Acker: Beatrice
Alexis Denisof: Benedict (These two are given top billing, so I think it's a Safe Bet.)

Nathan Fillion and Reed Diamond: Don Pedro and Don John.
Clark Gregg and Fran Kranz: Leonato and Antonio
Sean Maher: Claudio (yes, I know, too old, but just gay enough)
Tom Lenk: Dogberry (please)

I have no idea who any of the rest of these people are, beyond a brief look over IMDB.

Spencer Treat Clark
Nick Kocher
Brian McElhaney
Paul M. Meston
Joshua Zar

Jillian Morgese
Emma Bates (From their positions in the list, one of these two is almost certainly Hero, and the other Ursula)
Ashley Johnson
Riki Lindhome
Romy Rosemont

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It's (nearly) always a good sign when a beer is:

Named after a train or a railway
Named with some form of dreadful pun
Named after a butterfly
Named according to some other criterion upon which I shall expand below
In my glass


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As many of you know, I make & sell Christmas cards, and these are some of last year's designs; I'll be doing some new ones, but the holly leaf and at least one of the carols will be staying in the mix. (For those of you who got some, or one, last year these won't look precisely the same; I need to re-do the images for the professional print process, since I designed them to go through my own photo printer.)
Christmas cards, 2010
The cards are A6, made from matte white 100% recycled stock. The backs have my logo on, and the insides are blank for your own message. Since I do fine art printmaking, this disclaimer is important: these are not original art, like linocuts or giclee prints. They're just pieces of coloured paper like any other non-handmade Christmas card.

Since costs have gone up a bit, I'll be asking £1.20 per card (no minimum order) or 20 for £20, with £1.50 p&p if we can't meet up to hand them over in person. Unlike last year, I'll also include appropriately coloured recycled envelopes at no extra charge.

I'm entirely happy to do custom artwork, so long as you don't mind those being offered to other people too; if you want one with your name on it or something similar, I'd probably ask a bit extra. As regards licensing, all the digital artwork will be going up under CC:BY, but I reserve the rights to the finished print-ready files made from it.

What I'll also be doing for the first time this year is offering digital downloads - £5 will get you a print-quality PDF with two different card designs on (your choice from the standard range), for you to print out at home or take to a printer in your area, and you can print & send as many as you like from that. (If you want, you can even colour them in or add glitter and sparkles!)

I accept payment by PayPal, bank transfer, cash, artwork, food, or good beer.

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original design, for comparisonCollapse )

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So, that went well. Very well, in fact.

I was in charge of the lighting board for the 1400-capacity Concert Stage (a large blackout marquee) and [personal profile] mostlyacat was my deputy, which worked well for both of us. He picked up board op skills very quickly - it helps that he's an engineer, used to computer equipment, and has a pretty good eye for visual arts.

I was seriously impressed by how casual and trusting the organisers were with us - basically, the Stage Electrics contractors (Rebecca and Suzi) programmed in a few presets and showed us what was where, and left us to decide how to light everything entirely for ourselves. I'd been expecting a more formal setup, with cues programmed in for particular artists & songs, so this was a pleasant surprise.

People & groups I lit over the weekend, whom I'd already heard of: Home Service; Spiers & Boden (who performed New York Girls as their encore!); the Spooky Men's Chorale; Coope, Boyes, & Simpson; Emily Portman; Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick.

Ditto, whom I'd never heard of but can recommend: Tyde; Red Hippo; Moore, Moss, Rutter; David Ferrard (Scottish/American singer-songwriter); Kate Rowe (kooky, melodic, catchy Australian singer-songwriter); Saltfishforty. (More details about all of those can be found linked from here.)
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I've been thinking a lot recently about Uncivilisation, the Dark Mountain project, activism in general, the bardic tradition, and the imperatives of religion.

My feeling is that the way into this is mostly down to looking at the concept of doom in more detail, and decomposing it—working out what we mean by it, what social baggage comes with it, and what's actually going to happen.
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I'm fine - the riots have not affected me personally, thank goodness. I've looked out some old clothes & bedding (that I had completely forgotten I had) and will be taking them along to donate.

Stay safe, all of you in London.

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This is one of the rowan trees along my road; I took a photo, used Gimp to make it clearer & starker, chose a small section of the interlacing branches, and added a frame. Inkscape let me turn it into vector graphics, smoothing off the edges and eliminating speckles and inconvenient bits, and then exporting that as a DXF file let me feed it straight into the London Hackspace laser cutter. That worked to outline the image onto a piece of reclaimed hardwood (skip-dived, though not by me), and then I carved it out with my normal woodcarving tools; the laser lets me use a much more complex design than I've managed in the past.

It's now basically ready to print, or at least if I need to do any more work on it then I won't know until after I've inked it up and pulled a proof.

Veined nettle earrings 1

These are made from 300gsm recycled paper; the design is a vectorised & messed-about-with scan of an actual nettle leaf, from my garden. If you click through to Flickr, there are a lot of WIP images of the leaf in various stages; I'm entirely happy to let any of you have the SVGs if you fancy playing around with them.

I already have a customer for this pair, which makes me extremely happy! I've got two others on my worktable too, and they're quite quick to reify now I have the completed digital file. It may have taken me 8-10 hours of vector art to get the design right, but now I can just print off a dozen pairs, get out the scalpel, and apply a few layers of ink & glue. It's an interesting inversion of the printmaking technique, and it makes me very happy.

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[personal profile] mirabehn and I watched this last night, and I've posted a review as part of Fae Awareness Month. The short version is that I'd love to show it to all of you! You can read the long version here.

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1. I had my MRI results the other day: apparently, my brain is nice and healthy, with no shadows, atrophy, or reduction in brain mass. This is very good. When I get the copies I've asked for, I shall make them available.

2. I really need to finish more artwork, including getting back to printmaking properly. Part of the reason I haven't been able to do nearly as much as I'd like is lack of space. I'm considering setting up at the Hackspace for a studio session, but if I'm using proper ink then that means leaving a dozen or two prints to dry overnight/two nights there. Another part of the reason is that I don't have a reliable channel for disposing of the blessed stuff afterwards, other than letting it accumulate around the flat.

3. I really need to get more into permaculture, sustainability, and ninja hippy engineering. It makes me happy and saves me money and gets me better food, and does a lot to counteract the sense of worthlessness and irrelevance that the world often gives me. Part of the problem there, though, is a) that I'm a congenital generalist—I can do some of everything, and there's usually someone around who's better at any given thing than I am; and b) that I'm shy and nervous around strangers, and find it very hard to put myself forward.

Incidentally, I plan on visiting What will the harvest be? near Stratford on Saturday, if health & weather hold up. They have an open day, from 13:00. Anyone else interested in joining me, if you're not Slutwalking? ("Why I'm not doing that" would be an entire other post which I don't currently feel up to making. Suffice it to say that I'm strongly in favour of the event.)

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Peel potatoes (a mash variety) and a couple of turnips, chop them into small pieces, and boil them. While that's bubbling away, cook some leeks (steaming for preference; I boiled them lightly), chop a medium-sized onion into pieces about half an inch square, and grate some cheese. I used about 200g of firm white goat's cheese, but with the quantities I was making (based on about a kilo of potatoes) I really should have used more, perhaps twice as much.

At this point, it's also a good idea to start making the pastry. (I had the invaluable help of randomchris, so doing all these things at once was actually possible.) My pastry recipes are a bit slapdash, so if you're not confident then you probably want to look up a pie crust recipe and use that instead. Six large spoonfuls of wholemeal strong bread flour; a hefty shake of sea salt; a teaspoonful or so of whatever herbs look tasty; mix it all up, dump in a couple of large spoonfuls of butter or margarine (soya margarine in this case, since I was feeding it to [personal profile] mirabehn) and a hefty slosh of olive oil, plunge your hands in and mix it up till it's a nice uniform crumbly texture and barely sticks to your hands at all, and then slosh in some soy milk, squish it up, toss it around, whatever, till you get a squishy elastic ball which doesn't leave any mess on your hands.

Drain the root vegetables, and mash the cheese in with them - it doesn't need any extra milk or cream, but there's nothing to stop you putting it in if you like a creamier texture. Dump it into the pot you're going to use for the pie, and mix in the cooked leeks & raw onion. I added a splash of white wine too, because I had an opened bottle handy, but there's no need to worry about the non-liquidity of the filling.

Roll out the pie crust into a suitably sized thinnish blob, and drape it over the pie contents in a crust-like manner. Cut off the spare bits around the edge, make sure it's sealed down pretty well, decorate the crust in a semi-random and haphazard fashion, poke a hole in the middle to let some steam out (it doesn't have to be a big hole) and then shove it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 celsius or so.

Fed four, with everyone getting seconds and my cunning plan for leftovers-for-breakfast getting thoroughly thwarted, hurrah.

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I've two posts up at Fae Awareness Month now: the first is on Shakespeare's fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the second is an introductory post for my sequential re-reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I won't announce all of them here, or on the other blog, but there will be lots more of those, and if you know the book (or the play) I'd love it if you read & comment there.

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