Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where's *my* €7 haircut?

I went into town today with my housemate. We had lunch and wandered around, running some errands. In Hodges Figgis, he got bored with me looking through the knitting section (they have Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks!) and said, You know what? I need a haircut; I think I'll go get it done now. I was all, What? Now? Just like that? Don't you need an appointment or something?

Apparently not. Apparently, if you're a guy, you just go down to Sam's (right across from the Stag's Head) and wait in their small queue. And there was only a queue because it was lunch time. Each haircut takes maybe ten minutes, tops. And it cost €7. €7! But no, they don't cut women's hair. We asked.

Every time I've had my hair cut in Dublin, it has cost at least €50. And that cheapest time was only because it was cut by a trainee. I don't mind that it costs so much, because I've asked for big changes to my hair those times. But I've been growing my hair out, and it's now the longest it's been in years. I don't want a haircut haircut; I just want a couple centimeters off the bottom to get rid of the split ends. Honestly, it would take maybe 10 minutes. I don't want it layered. I don't want it feathered or thinned or anything. Just two centimeters off the end. That's all. I refuse to pay €50 for this. But I don't know of anywhere here where I could just get a simple, cheap, quick trim. At home, I would have maybe gone to Supercuts.

I'm reluctant to let The Limey at my hair with a pair of shears, but it may come to that.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Crazy cat lady

A while ago, I wrote about the poisoned cat food in the US and my thoughts on making my own species appropriate, raw diet for my cat. Well, I've gone ahead and taken that one last step towards being a crazy cat lady and done it.

I looked up a whole bunch of stuff on the internet (as we all know, if it's on the internet, it must be true!) and found a few sites that seemed to be written by people who know what they're doing. I compared three recipes and found one that was do-able from what I can find in Dublin.

A couple of weekends ago, The Limey and I devoted a couple hours to putting the whole thing together. He got the raw end of the deal (ha!) and had the job of grinding the bones. He's now scarred for life and refuses to do it again. He says I'll have to do it from now on, and if I can't manage with the hand grinder, we'll buy an electric one. (Off topic: the hand grinder is so old-skool cool. It's all '50s steel, heavy and totally makes me feel like I should put on a pinafore and grind up meat to make sausages and hamburgers.)

We put in all the vitamins and supplements and mixed it all together, and the f*cking cat refuses to eat it!

My cat's not a picky eater, and takes to new food quite quickly. Still, I had done the control experiment and gave her a few pieces of plain raw chicken to see if she'd recognize it as food. No problem. Ate around the tinned stuff and picked out all the chicken pieces first, as a matter of fact. One of the websites suggests that the vitamin B is quite smelly, and maybe to put in half the amount at first, until the cat got used to everything. Whoops, should probably have followed that advice.

Anyway, no freakin' feline was going to get the best of me, so the past couple weeks have been spent getting her slowly used to the new food. I started with a bit of it in her old tinned food, then gradually increased the ratio of new to old. Now she's on a whole meal of the new stuff, with just a spoonful of the old stuff for the familiar cat food smell. Next batch I'll put in less vitamin B and hope to get her off the tinned stuff forever.

She handles the new food fine. Once she starts eating, she goes right for it. I think it's the smell at first that may put her off. She hasn't gotten sick or anything, and is frisky as a 10-year old should be. The absolute best part? Her litter box no longer smells noxious. In fact, it's nearly odourless since she started with the chicken stuff. Amazing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The saga continues...

This week was a bit different on the job application front. A recruitment person called on Monday and wanted to send in my CV for a science policy-ish type job here in Dublin. It would be absolutely awesome if I got it, but I get the feeling they're really looking for someone with more experience. I told her to go ahead and do it, but I have no high hopes for it. On Tuesday, I sent my CV to a specialist science recruitment company in the UK. Haven't heard back from them yet, so we'll see about that.

Also on Tuesday I had a phone interview with an HR person for the big UK company I applied to last week. I thought I did quite well, despite babbling on the HR-y questions like "Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker." I hate those questions. Just ask me if I think I can do the damn job! Anyway, I thought I did well, and the interviewer said she'd send the transcript to the hiring manager and they'd let me know. So the next day they e-mailed and said they wouldn't be "progressing [my] application". At least they were quick. I wrote back to ask why, and was really impressed when the interviewer actually rang me back to talk to me about it. Apparently, she'd had more details from the hiring manager, and they were really looking for someone with more food industry experience. Once again, a better written job ad could have avoided all this. However, she also said that I presented myself well and that the interview was good. Big whoop.

On Wednesday I had a phone conversation (she kept saying "This is not an interview") for an American-based research and consultancy firm. They're looking to hire some people in Europe for their Europe-based clients. It sounds very business-y and out of my league, but at the end, she said she would set up an interview for me with their research director dude. At one point in the interview, she told me she'd just Googled my name, and, despite being entirely a-religious, I started praying that nothing incriminating came up. Luckily, she only found professional things about me. Whew.

Yesterday I worked on an application for an associate editor position with one of the big academic science journals. It requires a writing sample in the style of one of their articles. It's the most work I've had to do for an application yet, and I don't know how successful I'll be with it.

The weird thing is, since I've put my CV up on-line, I've had a few calls from recruiters, and after some talking about what my background and experience are (do they even read the CVs?), they've all admitted to me, baldly, that there are really no jobs here for me in Ireland. Ain't life great?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hee hee

An e-mail from The Limey this morning, from work:
Hey - there were a load of tiny caterpillars hanging from my desk fan this morning. I've no idea where they came from. I reckon they were after getting at your yarn, through me, so I imprisoned them all in a petri dish.

Ha! There should be a title of Yarn Protector, or something.

Monday, May 21, 2007

WWKIP Day Dublin Promo flyer

You can download this flyer for printing from the SnB Ireland site here.

World Wide Knit in Public Day- Dublin

Here is the plan for WWKIP Day in Dublin.

This year, WWKIP Day is Saturday, June 9th.

There will be two main activities:

1) Knit in Public on the DART! Join us at either Malahide or Bray DART station before 11am. The Malahide group will take the 11:00 to Pearse St station; the Bray group will take the 11:08 to Pearse St station. Then grab seats and knit your way into town! Knit, chatter, be friendly to people, and tell them to come along to a SnB group! Once at Pearse St, make your way to St. Stephen's Green.

2) Knit in Public in St. Stephen's Green! We'll aim to be at the Summerhouse the whole afternoon. This will be a great chance to meet other knitters and crafters in the Dublin area. Even if you already come to one of the regular meetings, you'll definitely be able to meet more like-minded people here to talk, exchange tips and tricks, and- oh yeah- knit with! And while you're doing so, you can help raise money for Age Concern.

We want to show everyone that people from all walks of life knit; that it's a great way to show off your creative side; that it's fun; that producing something from your own two hands is a huge source of pride (bring some of your finished objects and show them off!); and that it's a great way to meet people.

So, please join us on the 9th. Even if you only have time for one of the activities, we'd love to see you there! And bring people- bring friends, bring your children and loved ones, bring random people you've met on the DART on the way over. We want to show people what a great community we've built around knitting and crafting.

A flyer to announce and promote the day is available to download here.

See you on the 9th!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Jackie left some interesting thoughts on a comment a while ago on my post about knitting blogs. I figure I'd answer here.

I wonder if it's that scientists are overrepresented in the knitting world (and vice versa) or that scientists are more likely to blog about it, as Jackie suggests. Huh. I wonder how I could figure out which it is. Could be both.

As for knitters/scientists not being bloggers. The numbers for online forums go like this: 90% of people are lurkers, and only read but never contribute; 9% contribute every once in while; 1% are regular contributers and basically write the majority of the content. If blogs are like forums, and we already know that the vast majority of blogs that get started are neglected pretty early on and hardly ever get regularly posted to (this would be the 9%), then multiplying regularly updated knitting blogs by 100 would get you the number of knitters around. I think this is a very conservative estimate, though. I think starting a blog has a higher activation energy threshold than commenting on a forum, i.e, it's more work to start a blog than to simply type up a comment on a forum. So probably the number of people who start blogs is much, much less than 10% of people who read them. So the number of knitters around is much higher than 100 times the number of regular bloggers.

Of course, then you have to add in the number of people who don't even read knitting blogs.

At least I'm trying

So the computery company with the consultancy job said no. At least they got back to me with the "no" pretty quickly. I asked why, and their HR person (by the way, their recruitment offices for Irish positions is in Hungary; bizarre) replied with a description of what the hiring manager was looking for. Which is completely different from what the ad asked for. So different that I double-checked to make sure I'd applied for the correct job. I had, so my guess is they really need someone else to write their job ads. Unless I'm totally and completely mis-reading ads? Self-delusion is pretty powerful, I guess.

My goal this week was to apply for one job a day. Which I was totally able to do. The whole process is just so tedious and demoralizing that I'm quite proud of myself for being able to do it.

I'd applied to a big company in the UK on Wednesday, and they called me yesterday to ask if I had permission to work in the UK. They called while I was on the DART (coming back from meeting Jackie at This Is Knit and chatting with the lovely proprietors there), so it was rumbly and loud. I kept having to ask her to repeat herself. I must have sounded like a right eejit. Not the best impression.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I made some tiramisu to cheer myself up, and I'm left with something I always have after making tiramisu: a teeny bit of mascarpone.

What does one do with ~2 tablespoons of mascarpone? I only ever see and use this cheese in the context of tiramisu. Presumably the Italians have other uses for it. What?

Gainful employment

So the two research jobs I'd found and applied for (yes, there were only two in the Dublin area) have told me they're not interested. (It's like dating!) It turns out that when they say "materials scientist" or "polymer scientist" or simply "research chemist" they really mean "organic chemist". I guess they must like wasting their time, and mine, because they could have, oh, put that important requirement in their ad! But, no.

A friend had also given me a heads-up on a consultancy job, based in Dublin, for a big computery firm. This has nothing to do with science or research as I know it, but it sounds really interesting. It sort of combines economics with a bunch of market and other research. It's for a new office of the company that is supposed to be their "publishing" arm- with publishing in the academic sense. They research and study different economic and business problems, advise on them, and write up the results. This is interesting to me because it combines problem-solving with an area of economics I've always been interested in: human behaviour-y stuff. What incentives and rewards make a person choose to do A instead of B? What could you change in your business/shop/marketing strategy that would change people's behaviour in the direction you want? More importantly, the job ad hinted that they would look favourably upon someone with an academic background.

I'd gone to the career open house for this company, talked to a few people, and was told to leave my CV with the HR person there, which I did. After a week of hearing nothing, I e-mail them, because maybe there's a more formal application process or something. Another week, nothing, not even a response to my e-mail. I e-mail them again and finally get an e-mail back saying I should apply on-line and that they don't accept CVs and applications any other way. I'm very tempted to write back a snarky e-mail about why the hell they asked me to give my CV to their HR person in the first place then, but I will refrain. Because I need a job.

With nothing new coming up in Dublin, I've started looking in the UK. I really would prefer to stay in Ireland for at least another year or two, but the job market seems to be conspiring against this. Plus, if we move, I can finally tell the Department of Justice to kiss my little yellow ass. Honestly, one big advantage of moving out of the country is that I can finally stop being jerked around by the DoJ.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ahhh, math

I'm trying to figure out how to knit set-in sleeves. I've already done the fronts and back of a cardigan, so I've got the armscyes all done. Now I just have to figure out how to shape the sleeve caps to fit.

I read through Knitty's series of articles on sleeves. I went over a bunch of different published patterns in the gauge I'm knitting at, to see how they do sleeves.

So I worked out the math for the first try at a sleeve last night while watching Eurovision. Hoo-boy. It's not the math. I can do math. The difficulty lay in making my brain concentrate on something intently for a longer period of time. All these months of not working means that I've gotten used to not having to think hard if I don't want to. It's terrible. I'm no longer adept at ignoring other things and paying complete attention to just one task. I better find a job soon. Luckily, most of the Eurovision contestants were so stomach-churningly horrible that my brain welcomed the opportunity to ignore it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Urghhh...I'm so old

The Limey and I had dinner at Chapter One last night with some friends. I think it's my first Michelin-starred meal. The food was absolutely gorgeous and we got the pre-theatre seating and menu, so it was totally a steal, as well.

I had one glass of wine with a three course dinner. One. A single glass. I started getting a headache almost as soon as we left the restaurant. We went to The Front Lounge afterwards (I mean, c'mon, gay karaoke, who's gonna say no to that?) and against my better instincts, I had some sort of sweet rum-based drink. (I had ordered a Cuba Libre, but no one is sure what drink the waittress had actually brought.) I sipped this for, like, two hours, and then had an orange juice. The headache just steadily got worse. When I got home, I took a couple Nurofen before I went to bed. Today, still with the freakin' headache! And when my headaches get bad, my stomach gets all queasy and nauseous, too. Just gross.

All this from two drinks. TWO drinks! Over a five hour period. Jesus, I may as well give up now.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Details, details

The Yarn Harlot's recent post about the ribbing not matching up on the back and front pieces of a sweater reminded me of something I've always wondered about published patterns: how many sizes are actually test knitted?

I think it must be incredibly difficult to knit one sample, in one size, and extrapolate to even one other size, never mind half a dozen different sizes. Don't get me wrong, no one respects math more than I do. I know scaling up or down is mostly a matter of math. However, as the Yarn Harlot has demonstrated, and as I've noticed in more than one commercial pattern, merely adding or subtracting stitches isn't the way to go! In the Yarn Harlot's case, obviously better tech or pattern editing would have caught the mistake. (And you would think, since this was a Rowan pattern, they'd have been on the ball here!) And a good pattern editor goes a long, long way towards making a pattern both easy to decipher and technically correct.

However, I firmly believe that the devil is in the details. I think even if you carefully match up the pattern repeats at the shoulders and side seams for every single size, there's always going to be some issue with, say, the armscye decreases not being symmetric with the lace repeats, or the hem ribbing isn't centred around the cable motifs. Basically, I think there's a whole bunch of details that you wouldn't even think would be a problem until you actually knit the damn thing, in all the sizes.

I don't know how many pattern publishers actually knit every pattern in every size. It would be incredibly time-consuming, and therefore expensive, I would think. So I generally check for errata and I google extensively before I start a project. (I won't live long enough to make all my own mistakes, so I may as well learn from others'!)

The Limey had a great idea a little while ago: a knitting simulator. You'd give it a pattern, and the computer would simulate how the finished piece would look. So you'd get to see, for instance, how your 2x2 ribbing will flow into your lace or cable pattern. Or how your pattern repeats will look where the body meets the sleeves at the seams. Or exactly how deep that v-neck is going to be.

Is there already a computer program that does this? I'm pretty sure not, as it would be incredibly difficult to write, I would think. But wouldn't it be great if it existed? The Harlot's ribbing would totally have matched at the seam then!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I have too much time on my hands

Since I'm not working, I can afford to spend a lot of time on the interweb (and today I learned that I'm not being considered for yet another job, so I have spare time to spare (ha!)). I probably read more than my fair share of knitting blogs. I notice some patterns, and some themes. Other than knitting, obviously.

1. Cats. That knitters and cats should go together is not surprising. I mean: knitters --> balls of yarn --> cats. It seems that no matter how hard people try to keep away from the stereotype of knitting as something your grandmother did (as if that was an insult!), some element of the "little old lady with her cats and her knitting" survives into the new generation.

2. Scientists. A good number of the knitting blogs floating around are written by scientists. Maybe they just stick in my mind more, but scientists do seem over-represented in the knitting blogosphere. I know that the things that drew me into science also informs my knitting to some degree. Like, I basically think of knitting as problem-solving. I have this one-dimensional piece of yarn, and I want to turn it into a three-dimensional object. I have my tools, and my arsenal of techniques. I just have to figure out how to apply them to the problem. Also, it involves lots of experimentation, and some math. It also involves loads of learning- if I can't get the result I want with my existing tools and techniques, is there another way to do it? Has someone done it before? (As we used to say: two weeks in lab can easily save you two hours in the library.)

3. Food. You expect yarn porn in a knitting blog, but there is a surprising amount of food porn, as well. Lots of close-up, macro pictures of food. It seems like a lot of knitters are also foodies. I'm not sure where the overlap is: a retro embracing of all things "homey"? A reclaiming of the formerly un-prestigious domestic sphere?