Saturday, June 30, 2007


Well, whatever happens with the job, at least I got a day in London out of it.

(I was lucky and just missed the car bomb scare, so it seems a be going on about yarn and books, but everyone recovered admirably and went about their normal business. The West End that night was just as busy as ever, apparently. So I will just also go about my normal business as well.)

The interview finished up about two, and my first mistake was not using the bathroom before I left the building. The second mistake was thinking that it would be an easy walk from King's Cross to Loop, the yarn shop in Islington. It would normally have been fine, except that I was wearing heels. I always wear heels to job interviews, on the theory that taller people get paid more. Anyway, these heels are fine for normal, everyday walking around, but a 3/4 hour brisk walk, followed by another few hours wandering about a new town, not so much. My toes were killing me.

But Loop was great. I'm still keeping myself on something of a yarn diet, so I tried not to go overboard. They had a great stack of books that were on sale, and lots of new, interesting yarns. I reined myself in and got just three balls of bamboo, which I'd always wanted to try.
(See how I cleverly managed to include a picture of my fuchsias in there?) We tried, but we cannot get a picture of the yarn that shows its brilliance, shine and colour correctly. It fairly glows, I tell you. It's made by the Be Sweet people, and is hand-dyed by South African women living in a rural, economically depressed region. Which is nice and all, but the yarn! It's absolutely beautiful. It's not variegated, really. It's a single colour, but some of the yarn takes the dye up differently than others, so the result is a nice shading of different green-blues. It's like the colour of dragonflies- that's the perfect description.

Here's the yarn knit up:

I know those two pictures show completely different colours. The true colour is somewhere in the middle, but a bit more green. This stuff is soft. And drapey. It makes a beautiful, fluid fabric. I keep feeling up the swatch. I'd been knitting with some Debbie Bliss Pure Silk and I thought that gave a slippery, soft fabric, but this bamboo stuff? It kicks silk's ass. This stuff is slinky. I'm so looking forward to wearing this next to my skin.

Anyway, after Loop, I walked around London for a couple more hours. I tried to go to Foyles, but couldn't for the life of me find it. I've been there before, but I'll be damned if I could find it this time. After a couple of passes up and down Charing Cross Rd, I gave up and found the huge Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus instead. There I found a copy of Christopher Moore's novel A Dirty Job. I love Christopher Moore, and I can't ever find his books in the book shops in Dublin. His books are funny, articulate, and delightfully absurd. Sometimes he'll throw in a sentence or two that reminds me of P. G. Wodehouse. Seriously. I know that's a weird comparison, but it's true.

After an hour or so at the bookshop, I made my way to Heathrow. Well, I tried, but the Piccadilly line was experiencing severe delays. Welcome to London.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


So. The interview. I think it went quite well. But what do I know? I've never had to do these sorts of interviews before. This one had two parts: the first is your normal "Why do you want to work here?" "What are your strengths?" "Where do you see yourself in two years?" sort of thing; the second was another "editorial exercise" bit, kinda like what I'd been asked to do before.

I think I did okay on the first part. I mean, I tried not to make a fool of myself, I tried to answer their questions in complete sentences and tried to sell myself to them, basically. I got to learn more about the job, and it sounds really good. I wouldn't just be reviewing papers the whole time. They encourage you to do interviews, ask for commissioned pieces from the science world, and set up special issues if you have any specific interests and such.

The second part I kicked ass on. They gave me a couple of "typical" papers that get submitted to the journal. I had half an hour to read them and give my opinion on their suitability for publication, comments on the science, other info that may be needed to make a decision, whether I would send them out for review, etc. Stuff that I would be spending most of my time doing on the actual job, basically. Both papers were in the biology area, which is not my specialty (more about that later). I read them and told the interviewers that I'd decided that neither were suitable for publication, and gave my reasons. Then they said, Well, we have sent these papers out for review. And I thought, Oh crap, messed that one up.

But then they gave me the reviewers' comments, and here's the kick-ass part: the reviewers totally agreed with me! In fact, for one paper, the reviews could have been written by me- they basically said exactly the same things as I'd said a few minutes before. They raised the same issues and had the same problems with the paper I did, and didn't recommend publication either. In the second paper, I'd missed a couple of experimental problems, but the consensus from the reviewers was the same: they didn't recommend publication. So my decisions and reasoning were totally vindicated.

Now, about that biology bit. I specialized in chemistry and physical chemistry. Other than a couple of classes in college, I did no biology at all. This journal specializes in materials science, in which I have a vast and broad background.

Except for the bio bits.

But...the journal is looking to replace their bio person.

So you can see we have a bit of a problem. In their job ad, they did say they were particularly interested in those with a biomaterials background, but that they would consider other well-qualified people. During the interview, they kept asking if I was comfortable taking charge of an area outside of my field of expertise, and what new talent or experience I could bring to their team, and how I felt about having to learn about a whole new field. Basically, they really want a bio person. It's fair enough, the rest of their team leans heavily towards the physics and chemistry side already, so I wouldn't be adding anything new for them.

Mind you, I think I did well on the exercises with the bio papers, especially considering I had no background in the papers' subject matter. But it is very hard to judge if a paper is new and interesting, and it's even harder when you don't know what the state of the art in that particular research area is.

So I think there's a good chance they won't hire me. But if they don't, it wouldn't be through any fault of mine. It would solely be because they need to build a well-rounded team. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. I'm supposed to hear in a week or so.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ah, the Irish summer

I hope everyone had a good Pride/midsummer weekend? We had a traditional midsummer barbecue:

The midsummer party is a Scandinavian tradition, but the barbecuing weather was nothing but Irish. It was great fun. My housemate invited a whole bunch of her fellow Scandinavian co-workers. I now know why the Vikings no longer have an empire and colonies everywhere: they've drank themselves out the world-conquering sweepstakes. Seriously, these people drink a lot. I can't understand how most of them were managing to stay upright at the end of the night. Housemate had printed up Swedish midsummer drinking songs...there were fourteen of drink a shot after every one.

Also this weekend, an occurrence of one of those 'It's a small world' moments. I was at a friend's birthday celebrations at The Dragon*, on George's St, on Friday night. (To quote the birthday boy: May as well spend the first night of Pride weekend the way you intend to spend the rest of it- totally drunk and surrounded by screaming queens.) We were outside, saying good night when I mentioned that I might go to see the parade, since I'd be in town for my knitting group, anyway. And someone said, Oh my God! Do you stitch and bitch? To which I replied, I totally stitch and bitch! And he said, I love stitch and bitchers. Were you one of those people who were kicked out of Stephen's Green a couple of weekends ago?

Look at that! Our reputation precedes us! It turns out that this guy was having part of his birthday celebrations in the Green on the same day as we were having our KIP day, and he had been kicked out by the Guards as well. I wonder what excuse they gave to kick him out? I mean, surely he hadn't advertised his birthday party in the Times?

*I'd never been to The Dragon before, and it's a great bar: huge, beautiful, friendly, good hanging-out potential. But I have to say: I was served the absolute worst cocktail I have ever had in my life. The Limey had gone up to order and when he asked for my dirty martini, the bartender said, That's with the olive juice in it, right? This was a bad sign. The drink was disgusting. Maybe he forgot about the alcohol totally and just shook up a glass of olive brine with some ice? I don't know. I sent it back, and the replacement was just as undrinkable, so I gave up and had a Bailey's instead. The Limey's mojito, although drinkable, did not resemble any mojito I'd ever seen before.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More yoga breathing necessary...

...and not for a good reason this time. I have just about had it with the Department of Justice and the immigration people. I tried not to write about it, because it makes me dish-throwingly, wall-punchingly angry whenever I even think too much about it, but it's now gone way beyond ridiculous. This is going to be a long rant.

I'm allowed to come into Ireland because I'm married to an EU national. Now, the actual EU law (Directive 2004/38/EC) gives me a host of other rights: residency, permission to work, etc., etc., but Ireland has basically chosen to completely ignore all that. According to the Irish authorities, this is all I'm allowed to do: enter the country.

I've applied for residency and permission to work via their EU1 form, but the DoJ has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to require that all couples applying under this Directive have lived in another EU country first. Otherwise, no deal. You read that correctly. If you are an Irish national, of course you're allowed to bring in your family. If you're a work permit holder from anywhere else, you are allowed to bring your family into the country, and, in fact, they are allowed to work. If you are an EU citizen? No dice. How this can possibly be in line with EU freedom of movement laws and basic human rights laws is beyond me. It means if you're a non-Irish EU citizen, you are not allowed to marry a non-EU citizen and have your family come live with you. Full stop. They've been denying the EU1's of many couples because they can't show prior residency in another EU state. Of course, they do this after 9-10 months of deliberation and fucking around, despite the EU law saying it should take no more than 6 months. In another week or so, my six months will be up. I don't expect a decision so soon, of course.

From searching around the internet, I've found lots of people in this situation. People from Japan, South Africa, Brazil. It doesn't help that no part of the Irish administration knows what the other parts are doing. Lots of these people called up embassies beforehand, and even called up the immigration department here in Dublin. They were told: Oh, yes, come on over, if one of you is an EU citizen, the family has a right to live and work in Ireland. So they pull the kids out of school, pack up, sell the house, use their savings to move the family half-way around the world, only to arrive and be told, Oh, wait, can't live here.

After several months of banging my head against the brick wall that is the DoJ (their phone lines are open 6 hours a week, and are perpetually busy before they hang up on you; and their website achieves the amazing feat of holding not one piece of useful information in all its dozens of pages), I gave up. There were few jobs for me here anyway, so I looked in the UK and we planned on moving over there. The Limey is British, of course, so we can always enter under UK immigration laws.

Except...except, the Irish DoJ has still managed to fuck this up for me! You see, they won't stamp the passports of those people waiting for EU1 processing. They won't give me a GNIB card. They won't give me any proof that I am a legal resident of this country. I'm in a weird immigration limbo. The Limey and I went over to the UK in March, and when we came back into Dublin, it took half an hour to convince the immigration officer at Dublin airport that I was really allowed into the country. What has really just totally blew me away recently, though, is that, since the Irish immigration people won't give me proof of residency, I can't apply for a UK visa from Dublin. I have to go back to the US to do it. The British embassy here will only process applications from those who are legally resident in Ireland, but I can't prove my residency! EU law says I'm legally resident, but since the Irish DoJ prefers to leave us in limbo, I'm screwed on this matter.

I just cannot believe how absolutely fucked up this is. How can any first world country behave in such a cavalier matter towards immigration issues, and how can a whole government department be run so haphazardly?! I rant and rail, but there's nothing to do it at. Like I said, the DoJ is a brick wall. There's virtually no way of actually reaching anyone in it. Even if you could, they refuse to do anything and pounding against the brick wall hurts only yourself. I'm so totally tired of this situation; I've completely run out of patience; I'm so angry and upset, and it's salt in the wound to not even know who I could be properly upset at.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Deep breaths...

The science journal people want me to go over to London for an interview! Wheee!

It took a long time to get to this point. The initial application asked for a writing sample. Then they got back to me saying I'd been short-listed for the position and would I be able to do an "editorial task" for them as the next step. This basically involved judging several "typical" papers that get submitted to the journal, and I was to read them and say whether they were suitable for publication in this particular journal; why or why not...that sort of thing. I had a week to do it. It was like having homework! And the sad thing is...I quite enjoyed it. An assignment, like in school!

Today they wrote back asking if I was available for an interview next week. I've looked up flights already. As usual, they say that part of the interview is a chance for me to ask any questions I may have. I already know what I'm going to ask: Feedback on my assignments, please! At each step, they don't mention at all how I did on the last step. And I want to know. I mean, what's the point if I don't get any useful feedback? Criticism or otherwise. A plain "yes" is just as unhelpful as a plain "no" if you don't tell me why. Or maybe I've been in school too long?

I'm so excited! Hey, I'll get a chance to use those Rowan yarn vouchers!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

An old FO + an adorable WIP

I finished this late last year sometime. A very good friend of mine was expecting, and I thought the dear sprog deserved no less than Cashmerino. I've only just now got action shots of the sweater. Of course, she waited until the freakin' start of summer to fit into it! Who's gonna wear Cashmerino in summer, huh? Even a Portland summer. Well, she looks so cute in it that I will just hope for a crappy, cold summer so she can wear it lots. (Sorry, other Portlanders.)

Cabled baby pullover
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, either 2 or 3 balls (I forget) from This Is Knit, from way back when they had that little cubbyhole in the back of the Aladdin's Cave bit of Blackrock Market
Needles: 3.0mm or 3.5mm circulars (once again, I forget)
Pattern: Garnstudio pattern 13-7 (catchy name, hey?) in the 6/9 month size

Notes: Well, the Garnstudio people are great in that they put up lots and lots of free patterns for some really cool looking, styley stuff. In a variety of languages, no less. But the patterns are written in some kind of Scandinavian code. Okay, maybe it just seemed like it. When I made this sweater, I'd had a couple years of knitting scarves, hats, and simple tops under my belt. And I found that I had to work really hard just to decipher how they wanted me to read the damned pattern, let alone knit it. It seems like they write the patterns not for clarity, but to save space and wordage. Hello? You publish them on-line! Those are the least of your concerns. Plus, once I did figure it out, I found that there were errors in it. I had to rip out the ribbing and first couple of inches because the cable wasn't centred over the ribbing. A tiny detail, a matter of a couple of stitches, but glaringly obvious when you looked at it. There were other small things like that.

I think everyone knows by now that the Cashmerino Aran pills badly. I think some of the other yarn weights in the DB Cashmerino line stand up better. I knew about this problem when I made this sweater, but I figure the kid wouldn't be wearing it for more than a few months. Why not spend those few months swaddled in cashmere and softest merino, eh? And doesn't she look absolutely adorable in it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

See this?

This is the desk of a Lien at work. No, no, don't get excited. I haven't found a job. I have set myself a task, though: I'm writing up a knitting pattern. Not for any particular reason, just to show myself that I can do it. If I'm happy with it when I'm done, I may think about a way to make it public, but, mostly, right now, it's to show myself that my brain hasn't shriveled up and poured out of my ears, yet. I want to confirm that, if I put myself to it, I can still think up a project, work through it, and get a finished product.

I've already knit the cardigan. When I first thought about writing up the pattern, I figured it might be an interesting exercise. But as I thought about what would be needed to do it, I got more and more into it. The funny thing is, I don't actually like doing all the tedious math for figuring out all the sizes. I've always been one of those people who, when I've done something once, I kinda lose interest. After the one time, I know all the mistakes I made, I know how they could be improved upon in version two. But since I've already figured it out, I lose interest in the actual doing of the thing. Once the principles of how to do something, once the methods have been worked out, I kind of feel like my work is done.

This means that all my finished knitting (and sewing, when I did it) is imperfect. This also means that I think it would be good for me to push myself to at least write up what would be perfect. To pay attention long enough to finish the project. So that's what I'm doing. There's no one forcing me to do this; it's not a job. So when I get to the sleeve cap shaping for four sizes, I have to force myself to plow through it. It's just tedious math, I know I can do it. I don't particularly want to do it, but I know I can, and I know I'll be happy when it's done.

By the way, this is what my desks at my jobs have always looked like, too. Lots of books and references open to relevant pages, but my thinking, the actual working out of the problem, is always done on whatever random pieces of paper I find around me. This was really embarrassing at work when someone would ask me something, and I'd have to rummage through a pile of papers to find the envelope that I'd done the math on the back of.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More pictures

'Cause everybody likes pictures.

Saturday was a great day to be knitting in public. It was actually warm and sunny in Dublin, so everyone was out and about in St. Stephen's Green- there was lots of public to be knitting in. We got lots of stares and rubbernecking, I tell ya. Here are some...

Jackie had brought some samples of various fibres that she'd knit and felted. Some people brought shawls and scarves that they'd knit. Others wore their handknits. It was splendid. Everyone's handknits got fondled.
It was a great opportunity to meet other knitters. I only ever manage to make it to the city centre SnB meetings, so it was really nice to see people from the Rathmines group, the Dundalk group, the Wicklow group... not to mention knitters who'd heard or read about WWKIP Day and were showing up at a knitting meeting for the first time.

For some reason, at one point in the afternoon, people abandoned the "sit and knit" model and everyone stood up to knit and chat. Don't know why. It happened all of a sudden, too. Maybe people got tired of having to get up to look at other people's projects, so they figured they may as well stay up.

This picture makes me happy. Doesn't it look like the perfect way to spend a summer day?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What kind of knitting gathering would it be if law enforcement didn't get involved?

Thanks to everyone who made it out yesterday! It was a blast.

Those of you who left a bit early missed some excitement, though. A couple of the Park's gardai came by and I was given a stern talking-to about having a public gathering without a permit! One of them kept going on about not having proper insurance and the group not being in his "book". He has a book, see, that has all the permitted activities scheduled on it, and we weren't in it! Horrors! He went on and on about it, but I think his partner was more than a little embarrassed at the whole thing. He kept looking around at this ring of women, armed with pointy sticks, all craning their necks and listening intently to his partner's silliness. Anyway, we were given half an hour to clear out. The weird thing is, a few of the Park's people had been by earlier in the afternoon, and the most they'd said was, "Are ye making me a jumper?"

Well. When they gave us the half hour, of course everyone stayed to see what would happen. Even the people who had been preparing to leave before the gardai came by stayed. They never did come back. I think they realized they had maybe gone a bit overboard about a bunch of women sitting around knitting and chatting, though. With kids running about. I mean, it was a day in the park, basically.

This is what caused the trouble:

I'd written to the Irish Times to see if they could put World Wide Knit in Public Day on their 'What's Going On?' calendar in the Saturday magazine. They did better than that- they wrote up a little blurb about it and everything. Apparently, this is public advertising and a permit was therefore needed to use the Park. I wish the gardai had come back, because I wanted to ask what if one of the Saturday city centre meetings decided to decamp to the Park on a nice day? Would we really need a permit?

I missed the blurb completely when I first looked through the magazine. I saw Aileen's profile in the 'I Made It Myself' section, so was baffled when I thought they didn't take the opportunity to tie it in to WWKIP Day. Imagine my surprise, then, when people started showing up saying they'd seen our article in the Times Magazine!

Butting heads with law enforcement aside, it was a great knitting day. I met tons of new people, drooled over great new yarns and projects, and had a grand ol' time in the sunshine, chatting up a storm.

There was- duh- lots and lots of knitting done during the day. I loved that in my pictures of the day, there was none where almost everyone wasn't actively knitting.

More knitting...

They are winding up hanks of cotton cashmere here. Cotton cashmere. In a lovely pinky-peachy-sherbet colour. I tried not to drool directly onto the yarn itself.

There was also plenty of laughing going on:

We knitters are a riot, and don't let anybody tell you any different.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Okay, looks like the weather will actually cooperate, for once.

World Wide Knit in Public Day is tomorrow. Y'all better be there!

To re-cap: If you can (and of course you can!) meet up at Malahide or Bray DART stations before 11am and take the DART into town. Then go to the Summerhouse at Stephen's Green to knit the afternoon away. (The Summerhouse is the thing by the waterside that looks kinda like a big covered porch, only... without a house attached.)

I will try to get to the Summerhouse a half hour early or so to claim the space. I'll try to get The Limey to go with me, so if you see a long-haired guy in black looking kinda awkward, I'll be the small Asian chick next to him. It'll be easy, I'll be knitting. Come on by and say hi! Otherwise, I will poke you with the sharp sticks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Two things

1. I had a phone interview today with a director at the researchy-analysty-consultancy company I applied to a while ago. I'd already talked to their HR person a couple of weeks ago, and I thought that went well. Today, my brain refused to work. I knew what I wanted to say, but I kept not saying it. I had to "ummm...." a lot, and there were many pauses while I ran through my brain like a headless chicken, searching for the correct words and trying to put them together into proper sentences. Aaargh. So frustrating. Especially bad because this position would require meeting with clients and presenting work to people. He said I'd hear from their HR people. No clue whether it was good or bad or anything.

2. I got an e-mail from the European "Task Force" looking at the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 plan for Ireland. They'd sent out a survey last year to researchers asking about their careers and jobs and such. In this e-mail, they asked if I was available for a phone interview to talk about, among other things, my "personal opinion on the barriers and opportunities of a researcher career in Ireland." Note that the SSTI 2006-2013 people are the ones who want to double the number of science PhDs produced in Ireland. I think I may have talked about it some before? And I think my feelings on this are quite clear? I told them I'd be more than happy to talk to them. The only question I have now is: should I set a time limit on my rant?

Cue eye-rolling

For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing bits of organizing for the Dublin events for World Wide Knit in Public Day (we're no longer part of the UK on that site! woohoo!). I've asked various people around me for help- things like, "Does this flyer look okay?" or "Could you print some of these and put them up around campus?"

Oh my FSM, the eye-rolling I get as a response! It is proof we need a Knit in Public Day.

For some reason, even though most of my friends here know I knit and that I go off to these knitting groups every once in a while, they still persist in thinking that knitting is never done by young(-ish) people and that it is a deeply frumpy and spinsterish activity to engage in.

Whereas my thinking has always been:

1) I knit; and
2) I am obviously the very last word in cool,

therefore, knitting is cool. Q.E.D.

Hmmm...for whatever reason, this argument has never worked when I try to convince people of the wonderfulness of knitting. I wonder why?

Anyway, whether it's cool or not is beside the point. The point is that lots of people, women and men, young and old, gay and straight, girly and goth, white and yellow, mothers and spinsters, have found a way to express themselves, to pass their time creatively, to actively engage themselves in hand-producing something. And they're doing it through knitting! Which is great!

Friday, June 01, 2007

What? Knitting?

There's been precious little knitting happening lately. Job-hunting kind of sucks the joy out of life for me, and I haven't had the energy to pick up the needles. Plus, I got to a tricky part of a cardigan, and couldn't summon the brainpower and concentration to sit down and work through it. But I really want to get the cardigan done, and so have been neglecting other projects in order to do so. So everything kind of hit a standstill.

These are socks I started more than a month ago:

They're for The Limey. I wanted to knit a sock that took into account his pointy feet. The toes were started with a Turkish cast-on and then shaped by increasing more on one side than the other. They fit pretty well so far.

Print O' The Wave has been very sadly neglected for months now:

I've knitted the edging up maybe a third of one of the long sides. It's pretty simple to do, but I've been avoiding it because 1) I really want to get the cardigan done and 2) I have an awful, awful feeling that I may run out of yarn. I started the edging with maybe 2/3 of a ball left (I started with 2 balls) and I'm afraid. Very afraid. I got this yarn in New Zealand, so there's no way I'll ever find a match if I need more. And if it turns out I do run out of yarn, the only alternative is to frog all the edging and a few of the centre panel repeats. I took out the lifelines on the centre panel long ago (*bangs head on table*) so I don't know how that's gonna work. Aaargh.