So far

Things I like about my new phone

  1. I can talk to it!  And it knows what I’m saying (mostly – there’s a few NZ vowel sounds it struggles with still (setting an alarm for 10 pm is something I’m yet to achieve – that lovely NZE [e] vowel in ten just confuses the poor thing…)) and does things when I tell it to.  There’s something so satisfying about waking up and saying “Hey Google, what’s the forecast” to find out what the weather’s like (yeah, I know I could just look out the window, but where’s the fun in that?).
  2. Google maps knows when my next bus is going to arrive.  And even better, it can tell where my nearest bus stop is, and tell me which buses will arrive there next, so I don’t have to try and find the bus stop number.   So I don’t have to do the “The timetable says a bus should have passed here 3 minutes ago, but they’re often late, so there’s a chance it could still turn up, so maybe I should wait, but if it’s already passed then the next one won’t be for half an hour, so it might be quicker to walk” calculation I’m constantly doing at stops that don’t have an arrivals indicator (which is most of them).
  3. I can download e-books from the library!  And audiobooks! (I could do that already, but I was limited to the ones that were in the correct format to play on my little mp3 player, so this opens up the range of audiobooks I can borrow enormously! Technically I could also download e-books before, but (because Amazon’s complicated licencing agreements) I couldn’t read them on my Kindle, so my only option was to read them on my computer, and you can’t cosy up in a comfy chair with a computer.)
  4. I had lunch with Jacq yesterday and they showed me a magic trick: you can write a text by swiping across the keyboard instead of typing each character individually.  I have no idea how it manages to figure out which word I meant from my vague swipey motions in roughly the direction of the right letters, but it does (mostly – it gets a bit confused if you like to make up words like swipey).
  5. My search for a protective cover (it took me about a day of carrying it around to realise the chances of me dropping it/banging it into something/crushing it by having too many books in my bag were very high, and that this would make me anxious if I didn’t do something about it) led me to the discovery that there are very many very cool phone cases out there.  I settled on this one for now (well I had to – it’s a cat wearing glasses and drinking hot chocolate (yeah, it’s probably supposed to be coffee, but I don’t like coffee), and as a bonus, the cat looks like Parsnips!), but I suspect my phone will end up having several outfits it can change into according to mood.  Who knew a phone would have so many options to decorate it?
  6. I can take photos (like important photos of my phone case to put in my blog) even when I don’t have my camera with me.  Which is a good thing, because my big camera is big.  And heavy.  So I only carry it when I’m going somewhere I think I’ll want to take photos.  Which means when spontaneous photo opportunities happen, I’ll actually be able to take photos of them (and yes, I know everyone who has a smart phone has been telling me this for ever, but it wasn’t a big enough reason to buy a smart phone.  But now that I have one, it’s a nice bonus.)  The photos aren’t as good as I could take on my real camera, of course (I would hope not, given how much I paid for it!), but they’re good enough for quick snapshots.  My big camera will still be accompanying me on my travels and to places I know I’ll want to take real photos, though!

Things I don’t like about my new phone

  1. It’s very distracting.  Because it can do so many things, the temptation is to be constantly using it – I can understand now why teenagers are constantly on their phones.  I’m hoping the novelty will wear off soon though and I’ll stop finding excuses to play with it.
  2. My pockets aren’t big enough.  I could carry my old phone (which was tiny) around in my pocket if I needed to, but this one won’t fit (or, it will, but it hangs out of the top and I’m scared it’ll fall out).  So if I want to take it with me, I have to either carry it in my hand, or in my bag, which means I always have to carry my bag (which I generally do anyway, because my bag is where I carry books, and being stuck somewhere without a book to read is my worst nightmare).
  3. It doesn’t understand the difference between ten and tin in a NZ accent (see above, although honestly, I’m impressed it can understand a NZ accent at all – voice recognition has come a long way!)
  4. Having an actual app to read library e-books and audiobooks means I have to return them on time.  I’m so used to uploading a few at a time to my mp3 player (which isn’t sophisticated enough to have DRM, so keeps playing them even after they expire), and only removing them once they’re finished, instead of at the end of the loan period.  I’m sure I’ll cope, though.
  5. If I have it too close to my bus card, it starts beeping at me (presumably it’s trying to read the RFID in the card?).  So I can’t use the card slots in the nice new case I bought for it as intended (because if I keep my bus card separate to my other cards, I’m sure to forget to bring it with me, and I never have the right change to pay cash on the bus).

Yeah, pretty minor complaints, really.  So on balance, I think the phone was a good purchase.  (All of you who’ve spent the last several years telling me to get a proper phone may now say “I told you so”)

But isn’t my new phone case cool? :-)

And we’re back!

DD was down for a couple of weeks, and it’s amazing how much the urge to blog strikes when you don’t have a platform!  Of course, now that it’s back, I can’t remember any of the stuff I wanted to write about, so I’ll have to content myself with pretty pictures of crafty things I got up to over the past couple of weekends.

First of all, I finished the banner of birds for the back of my Birds in Flight quilt!

Now I just need to add the rest of the backing, and then figure out how I’m going to quilt it…

In the meantime, I ignored all the other half-finished projects piled in the corner, and started something new. This one was a pretty quick project – I managed to sew the (lap-sized) top over the space of a couple of days.

The technique is called “disappearing nine-patch”. It starts with a “layer cake” of 10-inch squares (this is not strictly true, it could actually be made out of any fabrics, but the layer cake was one of the ones I’d bought on sale and wanted an excuse to use, and it happened to have exactly the right proportion of light to dark fabrics).

The fabrics sorted (approximately) by colour (to try and keep the distribution reasonably even) and cut into 5-inch squares:

And then arranged into sets of 9, alternating dark and light:

And sewn into nine-patches:

So far, so boring. But then, you cut the nine-patch into quarters, and get much more interesting blocks as a result:

Which can be put together in all sorts of interesting ways, but the one that most inspired me was matching the small corner squares to give the illusion of a third large square hiding behind each pair of bigger squares:

This was as far as I got the first weekend. It sat on my design wall for the rest of the week, and every time I went into the study I’d tweak the blocks a bit more, trying to move them around so the colours were well distributed, and there weren’t too many identical fabrics in close proximity. Finally last weekend I got it to a point I was reasonably happy with, and finished sewing the top together:

I’m quite pleased with how it’s looking. The fabric line is called “Holly Wishes”, so presumably it’s intended to be Christmassy, but it feels more like autumn to me (in person, it’s a little bit less yellow than in the photo – I took that late in the afternoon on a grey and rainy day, so it’s half artificial light). It was a really quick fun technique too – I might have to experiment with doing it again with other fabrics (I’ll add it to my very long list of quilt ideas I’m going to try one day…)

Of course, now I have to quilt it… or just add it to that growing pile of half-finished projects…

Off with their hair

Those of you who know me in real life (TM) will know that for the past year or two I’ve been muttering about how one day I’m going to suddenly cut off all my hair.  Well, one day arrived…

Yeah, bit of a drastic change :-) (Although in photos it doesn’t really look all that different, because I always tied my hair back anyway, so you couldn’t really tell in photos just how long it was).  It’s still not exactly the way I want it – I’m going to go back in a few weeks to get the top cut even shorter, but the hairdresser wanted me to leave it at this stage for a few weeks while the follicles relax back into shape – having had it long for so long (and almost always tied back in the same way) has stretched them into weird directions, so I still have a very noticeable part down the centre of my head at the moment, which would be emphasised even more if the hair was even shorter – hopefully it will disappear as the follicles realign themselves.  But even so, I’m very happy with it.  And a bit nervous about what everyone’s going to say when I go into work on Monday… (I didn’t tell anyone what I was planning :-) )

Harvestbird accompanied me to the appointment (mainly to make sure I didn’t chicken out at the last minute :-) ), and documented the entire process (the hairdresser was having a lot of fun demonstrating various cutting techniques and hairstyles from the ages as he cut it steadily shorter), so once she’s uploaded the photos (and video!) I’ll post them here for everyone’s amusement.


Sorry it’s been such a long time between posts.  Work was stupidly busy for a while there (it still is, but at least I’ve got my two new staff now, which has taken some of the pressure off), so I’ve been getting home at night and just crashing, and haven’t been feeling inspired to write.  I really should try and get into the habit again though – I’ve actually been having all sorts of non-work adventures, but haven’t had time/energy to write about any of them.

Most recent was that last Tuesday Dana and I went to see a talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which was amazing (even if I did have the odd moment of wishing he was Carl Sagan instead (hashtag geek-child of the 70s)).  For a start, it was at the Horncastle Arena (where graduation was), which is Christchurch’s biggest venue, and normally reserved for big international music acts.  That a scientist was speaking to a sold-out audience in that venue was an amazing thought – rock-star scientist indeed!

He spoke very inspiringly and entertainingly too – I was so glad I went.  At the end, they had an opportunity for audience members to ask questions, but we were sitting so far up the back in the cheap seats (which were only relatively cheap – rock-star scientists command rock-star prices!) at the top of the arena that there was no way we’d have made it down to the queue for the microphone in time (not that I would have been able to think of a decent question anyway, even if I’d been sitting right up the front).  The first couple of questions were of that non-question “Here is a long rant about my favourite hot-button topic, what do you think?” type, but then people started asking really complex and interesting questions about astrophysics (some of the best questions came from kids!), and deGrasse Tyson gave wonderful answers that managed to be non-technical enough that everyone in the audience would understand it, without dumbing down any of the really deep and interesting stuff that made the questions so fascinating.  The Q&A part went way over time, because deGrasse Tyson kept saying he was going to make his answers briefer so more people would get a chance to ask a question, but then would get caught up in the complexities of the answer, and it would be just as long as the previous one.  The compère kept suggesting that maybe it was time to wrap things up, and deGrasse Tyson would agree, yes, just one more question, and then carry on :-)   By the time he finished, the security people were herding everyone out the door almost before the applause had finished – I think they wanted to get home!


I haven’t made a lot of progress quilt-wise, for similar reasons to the lack of blogging (plus it being too cold in the study most evenings).  But I managed to get a few more rows sewn onto the little squares quilt:

Although I’m loving how it’s turning out (I think it’s my favourite one I’ve made so far), I’ll be so glad to get this one finished – matching all those seams is hard work!

So, about those photos

Having been unsuccessful at figuring out which wire to wiggle to get my second hard drive working again, I gave in and paid a professional to look at it.  And it turns out that the reason my wire-wiggling wasn’t working this time was because the hard drive had entirely failed.  So, unless I want to pay vast amounts of money (like, nearly $1000) to a specialist data-recovery place to try and get the data off it, all my photos are gone :-(

The good news is that I never got round to deleting the files from two of the three memory cards from last year’s trip to Greece and Italy, so I’ve still got those.  The third memory card I did delete (because I needed space on the card for graduation photos…), but the deleted photos should still be reasonably easily (and cheaply!) recoverable, so computer repair guy is going to try and get them for me.

The bad news is that all of those photos I never got round to uploading from America, and Ireland, and Australia are gone.  And even the ones I did upload to Flickr are only low-quality versions – I kept the original high-quality versions on the hard drive in case I wanted to print them one day.

There may well have been other things on the drive that I’ll regret having lost, but I can’t think of anything major – the software is easily replaceable, and anything really important I kept on the main drive (or, in the case of my thesis, on my computer at work, which is backed up to the university’s servers).  It was just the photos that I stored on the secondary drive, because they took up too much space on the main drive.

Oh well, a lesson in backing up my data, I suppose (and in not putting off sorting and uploading photos for years!).  And even though I’ve lost the photos from my travels, I’ve still got the memories.  Which is what’s really important.  So I won’t be paying vast amounts of money to get the data recovered – I’d rather spend it on another trip :-)

Redecorating

You might have noticed that things look a little bit different around here.  I’m still not completely happy with it – the background is just a random copyright-free one I downloaded, and the header image could still do with a bit of work, but for something thrown together over a couple of lunch hours, I reckon it’s ok.  (I just realised, I really should have taken a screenshot of the old design, for posterity, but too late now.)

I toyed with many different names for my blog re-branding, but in the end “The Cattery” sounded like the most likely place for a FutureCat to hang out in, so that’s what stuck.  It’s a terrible name in terms of Googlability, but I’ve never worried about that in the past, so why start now? :-)

So, welcome to The Cattery.  The name may have changed, but it’ll still be the same random collection of posts about crafts, cats, books, travel, and life stuff.


Edited to add: The clever Discoverylover found a cached version of my old blog design and screenshotted it for me. So you can now do a proper before-and-after comparison:

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

I basted the flower garden quilt yesterday.  Which is just a fancy way of saying I pinned the top, batting and back together so that it’s ready for quilting.  Which means you’ve got to spread out the fabrics somewhere you can lay them completely flat before you pin, otherwise you get wrinkles in the backing.  Except I made the quilt just a little bit too big for the biggest bit of floor space I have:

I think I need a bigger room. Or maybe I could just get rid of some furniture – I don’t really need a couch in my living room, do I?

I did manage to get it basted in the end, by leaving the edges until last and then moving it around a bit, but the thought of getting that massive quilt on my little sewing machine is a bit daunting!  (And as quilts go, it’s not actually that huge – it’s a bit less than queen size).

In the meantime, to get my FMQ muscles back in shape, I quilted the hedgehog.  I decided to try a spiky sort of quilting design, and I think it came out really well.

It even looks cool on the back. I used more of the orange fabric for the backing, and the spiky stitching on it came out looking like a cross between flames and an autumn leaf pile:

Just got to put the binding on, and it’ll be done (that’s the nice thing about mini quilts – they don’t take months (or years, in the case of the bird quilt!) to finish :-) )


I haven’t just been using my days off to sew (ok, mostly I’ve been using them to sew, but I have done some other stuff, honestly!).  Yesterday I met up with some old friends of Mum’s for afternoon tea.  They moved up to Christchurch a couple of years ago, and actually live in the next suburb over from me, but I hadn’t got round to getting in touch with them.  However, the other day I ran into them unexpectedly, so we made arrangements to meet up.  It was great catching up with them (I think I’ve seen them in person only a couple of times since I was at high school!), and they’re really lovely people – they kept insisting if I ever needed any help with anything to call on them, and they’ve promised to invite me to their next barbecue – you’d think it was me who’d newly moved into the area, not them! :-)

And yes, Mum, I passed on your news, and they’re totally thrilled for you (though they’ve already probably rung you to tell you that – I think P. was going to ring you as soon as he got home!)


In other news, I think it’s time for a rebranding around here.  This blog stopped being primarily about bookcrossing a long time ago, so it seems silly that the name and theme is so bookcrossing-focussed. So I need a new name, and a new decorating scheme.

Except for I don’t know what to call it!  Any thoughts?  I’d like to get FutureCat in the title somewhere, but I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound cheesy.  Maybe I should just follow Yetzirah’s lead and just make the title my name?  Any ideas greatly appreciated!

2015 in review

2015 is hard to summarise.  I learnt a lot, I took on some huge new challenges, but mostly it’s just been incredibly busy, and has raced past in a blur.  So rather than try and write anything meaningful about it, I’ll use my usual trick of recycling bits of blog entries :-)

So, 2015 in first sentences:

January: It’s 2015 here in New Zealand, even if most of the rest of the world is still to catch up, and has dawned a lovely sunny day after yesterday’s rain.

February: I decided to use this weekend to skip ahead a bit in the In Flight quilt-along, in an attempt to have the whole thing finished a few weeks ahead of schedule, and avoid that nasty clash with the start of semester.

March: Ok, so Tartankiwi calls it a cormorant, but I’m a New Zealander – it’s a shag :-)

April: Parsnips has obviously been out hunting today, because when I got home and walked into the kitchen, I felt a lump under my foot.

May: Yeah, I know, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  Can I use as an excuse the fact that I’ve been really tired, AND that I have a medical excuse for being tired, so it’s not just laziness, honestly it’s not!

June: Lytteltonwitch and I spent the weekend in Oamaru, where they were holding their annual Steampunk Festival.

July: Christchurch people (and anyone else who just likes to help preserve cool historic things): If any of you have fond memories of visiting the telescope in the Arts Centre Observatory on a Friday night, you might want to contribute to this fundraiser to help restore the telescope.

August: First term of the semester is over, and I handed my first big assignment in yesterday, so I can pause and relax – well, for a couple of days, at least.

September: Just very very busy.

October: There is a type of tiny quilt that is commonly called a “mug rug”.

November: Hmmm, according to my calendar, the last time I actually took a full weekend off was in August.

December: January and the start of my masters is looming large, so I’m trying to fit as much as I can into the rest of this year, before I have to be head down over the books again.

The internet here is playing up tonight, so I think I might have to leave the year in pictures part until tomorrow, when hopefully it won’t take 10 minutes just to load a page…

Excuses, excuses

Yeah, I know, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  Can I use as an excuse the fact that I’ve been really tired, AND that I have a medical excuse for being tired, so it’s not just laziness, honestly it’s not!

Ok, so the not writing a blog post thing has been just laziness, but I really do have a medical excuse for feeling tired – when I was at the doctor’s the other day I mentioned that I’d been feeling a bit run down, and asked him to check my iron levels, because I suspected they may be a bit low (which has happened from time to time in the past).  And lo and behold, a blood test revealed that not only was I a bit low on iron, I was seriously low (like, when I rang the nurse to get the results, she actually gasped when she saw the number sort of low).  And seriously low on haemoglobin too, which probably means I’ve been low on iron for a long time, meaning my poor body hasn’t had anything to make the haemoglobin out of.  So no wonder I was feeling a bit tired!

Anyway, because it’s so low, my doctor wants me to have some more tests just to make sure there’s not anything more serious going on than a combination of having a 40-something year old female body and being prone to low iron anyway (which is the most likely explanation, so I’m not feeling particularly concerned about other possibilities), but in the meantime I’ve got some nice iron supplements to take which should help a bit.

Of course, despite having felt no worse than a bit tired before I got the blood test, now that I’ve seen the numbers I’m suddenly noticing all the symptoms (dizzy spells, shortness of breath, headaches…) that previously I’d been dismissing as just imagination – is there such a thing as reverse hypochondria? :-)  So as a result I’ve been feeling worse since going to the doctor than I did before…  Oh well, the iron tablets should hopefully start kicking in soon, and then you won’t recognise the new super-energetic FutureCat :-)

Oops, broke it

It’s been a tiring week, that’s my excuse.  So I got home last night, had dinner, crashed in front of a mindless video for a while, then went to bed.  And completely forgot I hadn’t written a blog post.  So my streak of (if I’m counting correctly) 244 days is now over.  I missed a day, and not even in a “it’s just after midnight so this totally still counts” sort of way.  This is now well and truly Saturday morning and there’s no way I can pretend not to have missed a day.

Actually, I’m kind of relieved it’s over.  It was an interesting exercise, and definitely got me back into the habit of blogging, but it had got a bit silly at times, when I’d realise late at night that I hadn’t written anything, so even though I really needed to sleep I’d still sit down at the computer just so I could say I’d written something every day.

I’m still going to try and blog every day, but now if I miss the odd day here or there I’m not going to stress about it (and certainly not going to leap out of bed in the middle of the night to write something if I forget!).

#TTPANoWay

(I really did post this yesterday, it’s just DD was playing up again so wouldn’t let me post, so I had to put it on LiveJournal instead.)

Bother, looks like DD is down again :-( So another daily post that I’ll have to post on LJ instead, and re-post to DD in the morning once it’s (hopefully) back up.

Another anti-TTPA march today (or series of marches, really – there were 20-odd held all over the country), repeating the message of the ones before the elections: if this trade agreement is so great, and really truly doesn’t threaten our sovereignty in any way, then how come the NZ public aren’t allowed to see the details before it’s signed? Yeah, even if it was a party I liked in government, I still wouldn’t trust them on something as big as that.

Despite the rain, there was a pretty good turnout in Christchurch (somewhere between “hundreds” and “several thousand” depending on the biases of who was doing the estimating – I’d guess given the range of estimates somewhere around a thousand is probably the closest to reality). Lytteltonwitch came over to my place and we took a bus into Riccarton to join the march (rather than her having to find parking). When we got to the start of the march it was raining pretty steadily, so it was a bit damp and chilly waiting around for the various speeches to get done so we could start marching (I never quite see the point of the speechifying at the beginning of marches – we already know why we’re there, and obviously all think the issue is important enough to come out on a rainy day to protest it, so it’s very much preaching to the converted…). But once we got moving it improved, and it was a fun walk down Riccarton Road, stopping traffic and chanting slogans of varying degrees of cleverness. There was a lot of support from passing cars and people watching from the footpath (in fact, I think more support than last time) – so much for John Key’s “silent majority” wanting the TTPA…

We didn’t bother staying for the speeches when the march reached its other end in Hagley Park – although the rain had eased off, it was still a bit damp to be standing round, and it looked like there’d be the usual degree of chaos before anyone got round to starting the speeches anyway, so we just carried on walking into town to catch a bus back to my place.

As usual, I’m pretty cynical about whether the marches will have any effect, as it’s obvious the government has already decided its course, but I still think it was worth marching. That’s what democracy is about – not just electing governments, but letting them know when they’re veering off track. And if you don’t speak up, your voice will never be heard.