On stubbornness

(please assume all references to ‘men’ mean people)

Once upon a time there was a dirt road between 2 small villages. The villages were pretty and the fields inbetween were pretty too.

A man stood in the middle of the road, between the 2 villages. He was admiring the view.

Another man walked along the road. He stopped where the first man was standing, because he couldn’t get past. He asked the first man to move. He wouldn’t, so the second man shook his head, walked round him and carried on.

A little while later the first man grew tired of standing up and so sat down. Not long after that a third man walked along the road. He also stopped, asked and walked around. This happened many times with many people. Occaisionally someone would try to persuade the man to sit somwhere else. Sometimes an argument ensued, sometimes there were fights. Ineveitably the persuader would realise the pointlessness of wasting more time and would go on his way leaving the man sitting where he was.

The first man put his tent up in the middle of the road. More and more people walked around him. The grass next to the road soon became trampled down and before long, no one stopped to ask him to move. This upset the man. He wasn’t going to move, whatever they said or did, but they ought to at least ask.

As time went on, the first man built a house on the patch of road where his tent had been.

A new road was built around the house, so that the cars didn’t have to drive on the grass.

The villages grew bigger. They became towns. People moved to one and worked in the other. The traffic between them increased. Houses appeared close to the first man’s house.

The first man made a garden around his house, digging up some of the road to do so. When anybody asked him what he was doing, or told him not to, he shouted at them until they went away.

Later, when the road was widened, the road around the first man’s house (and his newly claimed garden) was widened too.

By and by, people forgot there was ever a road under the house.

One day, someone new came to the area with a map and a book. They walked up to the first man’s house and asked him to move, because the road was going to be made into a motorway, and motorways don’t have curves. Besides, according to the book, he had no planning permission to be there. He refused to move, was incredibly rude to the man with the map and slammed the door in his face. The man’s neighbours came out of their houses to see what was going on. The man-with-the-map told them. They laughed at him and said;

“But you can’t make him move now – he’s been there 60 years! You’ll have to wait until he leaves before you can build your motorway.”

On Power – of chocolate and of people (the lost and found version)

(I was just looking though my posts and found a draft version of Wednesday’s post. I thought it was competely gone, but apparently not. Here it is.)

I don’t know why I give either as much power as I do.

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. As well as losing my halo, I also lost my good mood.

However, it did show me something I didn’t want to see: I am easily swayed by external influences. More so than I’d like to admit.

  • My glass didn’t want to co-operate. At all. In any way, shape or form. Pretty much everything that CAN go wrong, did.  It broke, twisted, cracked, went cloudy, refused to melt, melted too much, looked ok until it cooled down and then broke. Whatever. If you think of something that could happen it quite possibly did. I even contemplated (not for the first time) quitting and becoming something else. I won’t. Mostly because I have less than no idea what I would be better at, but also because some crazy part of me loves a challenge and thinks I have more than a snowflake’s chance of improving.. And because glass is the best thing since.. Since what actually? It’s been around for 7000 years. That’s a whole lot longer than sliced bread. But I guess that’s irrelevant. There’s something therapeutic about watching it melt (except when it’s not supposed to, and even then it’s pretty cool). As they say, “only glass is like glass”.
  • There are some people who have the ability to make me want to hit them (or failing that then a wall) just by existing (in my vicinity, I doubt I’d mind them existing elsewhere). I obviously don’t, haven’t, and hopefully never will, but I dislike the aggression that builds in me when they appear on my radar. Noticing my aggression makes me cross. Being cross doesn’t exactly help get rid of the desire to hit things.
  • I would have had an argument if I hadn’t picked a monologist to argue with. Having listened [politely] to half an hour’s ranting about how awful I am, I find being told to ‘leave well alone’ when trying to defend myself, sucks more than arguing would have done..
  • I would have probably taken my bad mood home and had a rubbish evening if I hadn’t been brought chocolate by a thoughtful person – who didn’t even know I needed it until afterwards – just because. (Thank you, even if you will probably never read this). I’m not nearly grateful enough for the people who make life better.. I spend too much time and energy trying to pacify the people who make it worse, instead of concentrating on the good ones.

Why?

Why is my happiness and my good mood subject to things, situations, other people and chocolate?

On perceived productivity

Why is it, on some days getting out of bed counts as productive already, and others -like today- I can wash my hair, help out at Sunday school, clear and sort my kitchen, sort out a folder of certificates and ‘important’ papers, think about Christmas presents for people, decorate a pinboard, write 3 emails (one of which was long overdue), cook and eat, and allow myself to be tortured by my favourite ski-training-woman, and still feel like it was a very unproductive day??

On fireworks and busfares

I went to watch the advent fireworks in my town just now. They went off at 11pm. I caught the bus down and was there just in time to glance around the bargainboxes in MediaMarkt (late-night-opening tonight) and make my way to the square.

The fireworks were spectacular in the sense that all fireworks are spectacular, but not in the way some shows are just breathtakingly astounding. I could probably have seen them from my house – I live on a hill and have a pretty good view of the town – but if someone’s going to sponsor them, I think showing up is the least one can do. Besides I didn’t want to miss them, just supposing I couldn’t see them from here.

As I was waiting for the bus back home, a slightly drunken elderly gentleman joined me at the bus stop. He peered at me and announced that he’d seen me before. I hadn’t really looked at him until then, but when I did, he did indeed seem familiar. There ensued a short pause followed by a bout of questioning while we figured out the connection. He shares an allotment with a guy who works in the same building as one of the people who used to work for someone who spends a lot of time sitting in my workshop. At some point during the summer I had been invited to a barbecue party in the allotment and had presumably seen him there. What was that about less than 7 connections to anyone?

About then the bus came. I had my buspass with me this time so I just got on and sat down, expecting the half-stranger to do the same. He got on, but the busdriver wouldn’t let him pay with a 50€ note. So I bought him a bus ticket. :).

At some point (assuming he remembers once he’s got home and slept and sober), he’s going to give the money to the guy he shares an allotment with……

On raking up old leaves

Usually people turn over new leaves, especially at the beginning of the year. I’ve decided to rake up a few of my older ‘new leaves’, the ones which have fallen by the wayside over the course of the year. Hopefully some of them will stick this time round and I’ll have a headstart on next year 😉

– this practically killed me in February when I started it, but then proved to have been incredibly effective when I went skiing.

The first time I went, I skiied for ONE day and was unable to move for about a week afterwards because everything hurt so much. A friend suggested I follow this crazy woman’s regime pretty dedicatedly until I go again. So I did. For about 3 weeks. The second time I went skiing, I was fit enough to dance around the car park at the end of the second day and although everything still hurt for a few days afterwards it was nothing like the first time.. I’m hopefully going skiing again over new year which gives me 4 weeks. I think I’m less fit than I was at the start of last time, so this may prove interesting. I’ve decided to motivate myself to actually do it, by saying I can’t post (or surf much) until it’s done.

  • Eat more sensibly.

– For some reason I find this incredibly difficult at the moment. I’m either not hungry, or I’m hungry NOW but have no interest in cooking (in which case I eat something ‘stupid’ like chocolate)

  • Sleep more (=at least 7 hours, better 8-8 1/2) …
  • … so I can be on time for work.
  • Walk at least a mile per day. This is something I read on someone else’s blog and thought was a good idea. On an average weekday I walk to work and back which is about a mile each way. On most Sundays I walk to church and back which I suppose is just over a mile total. Saturdays are a problem. Today I walked into town and round the Christmas Market 🙂 Was pretty cold, but dry and not really windy. And the market was nice.
  • At least 1 other ‘sporty’ thing per week; swimming, iceskating, cycling, dancing.. whatever. For an hour. Ish.

And that’s it. 🙂

On the upcheeringness of good music when nothing works out

I can’t work well at work.

I have a problem with people watching me, and since a lot of people seem to want to spend their day sitting at my workbench I spend a lot of time not working at my best. It’s not my workshop, so I can’t banish them, but I can’t work with them either. Sometimes I’m actually glad of their company – it helps spread the load my colleague can be. I don’t have such a problem with making easy stuff with people looking on, so I save the ‘easy’ tasks for when they’re there. When I don’t have anything tricky to do, or a deadline to meet, it doesn’t matter so much. It’s the stuff that needs to be in the oven today and which involves concentration and perseverance that gets me. I officially start and finish an hour later than the rest, but they regularly stay to talk and drink (less hassle than going to the pub ;)), which doesn’t help much. I often find myself staying on once everyone’s gone home in order to get things finished.

Having the workshop to myself doesn’t always make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.

I hate it when my glass doesn’t co-operate. I hate having other people watch it not co-operating. And I hate said people asking questions about said non-co-operational glass. As if that wasn’t enough hate for one paragraph, I also hate them giving advice.

This rant is for everyone who wants to watch me work:

At the risk of sounding incredibly stuck up; I generally already know what I SHOULD have done differently, or how it was supposed to work. Sometimes it just doesn’t. I don’t need to hear it from backseat glassblowers. Or other pestilential nuisances. I don’t need to hear the tutting noises as you watch the piece I’ve been working on for an hour fall to bits. I don’t need the sharp intake of breath or the sideways “how-could-you-be-so-stupid” glances. I don’t need you to start a lecture, only to have you interrupt yourself to tell me there’s no point telling me since I’m not prepared to be helped. I don’t need the sighs of supposedly long-suffering teachers. I don’t need you to watch me forget to put corks in the tube ends and then laugh as I blow through, instead of into, my glass. I don’t need you to helpfully point out that the glass is bending while I’m holding one end between my teeth, balancing the other on some precarious pile of boxes, and struggling to put the graphite-paper back into a joint-holder that’s just come loose. I can’t simultaneously pay you and my glass 100% of my attention. I probably don’t need reminding that I still have something to finish for tomorrow, I probably know and am waiting until you go elsewhere so I can start it. I don’t want you to ask me if whatever I’m currently struggling with is Meister-worthy. I don’t want to talk about whether my jeans are in or out of fashion while I’m melting frits into tubes. To be honest, I don’t think I’d care much even if I wasn’t trying to concentrate at the time. I don’t care that you know all-there-is-to-know-about-glass. I don’t care that you ‘have-my-best-interests-at-heart’. I don’t care that you get goosebumps from watching me being so rubbish. I don’t care how much you feel for ‘the poor maltreated glass’. I don’t want to know. If you’re so great, either go and do something useful with your greatness, or make me feel great enough to attempt something more demanding in your presence. Making me smaller doesn’t make you bigger. And the more you have to tell me you’re great, the less I’ll believe you actually are. The people I consider great are great without telling me (or anyone else) about it. You can’t help but notice greatness.

Sometimes I need to be left in peace to figure it out. I need the space to test things out without anticipating your reaction.

Rant over.

Today.

I spent most of the day faffing about, leaving the tricky stuff for after work. I was accompanied into my evening by one of the non-glassblowing watchers. He didn’t stay long, maybe half an hour or so.

I had a complicated glass filter to repair. I did the main work yesterday but had forgotten to melt the broken ends of the spring-hooks. The oven wasn’t full enough to turn on so I hadn’t yet tempered it. Frits are temperamental at the best of times so I didn’t want the gas-air flame to accidentally reach the frit while warming them. So I didn’t warm it at all. Neither before nor after. Idiotic really. Thing is, I wanted it finished by Monday, so I took the risk. Idiotic, like I said.

Moving the shards of several hours’ work aside, I started on the next task: replacing an NSK14,5 with an NSK29 on the end of a 3 way tap set at an angle to a litre flask. Not easy to hold, but not [very] hard to do. I wanted to make my own flask though. The one I altered was made a couple of years ago by my colleague to show me how they were done. I’d made one afterwards and given it to the Doctorand who needed it. This one was kept in reserve. I knew I had been able to make it, this attempt was to see if I still could, and to give my customer something I’d made and not just adjusted.

I made all the preparations. Then I remade the central piece because I’d forgotten the Kernel needed an extension. ARGH. Then I reshaped the top of the central piece because it was too wide. Then I started putting everything together. So far so good. Litre flasks are heavy, and I’m out of practise. I’d also used a holder that was far longer than necessary for the right hand. The main join was okay, could have been neater, but as 30mm Einschmelzungen go it wasn’t bad, especially when you consider I haven’t done one in months. The problem was the tube on the other side. After fighting it for a while I decided to take it off completely and join a new piece on. In the time it took me to prepare a new join, the old join had got cold enough to break when I reheated it. ARGH. I tried to mend the ever lengthening splits, but it was a bodge-job and not a worthwhile one. I finally gave up when the glass pulled itself together and holes appeared. I tried rescuing the groundjoint but it fell off the holder and onto the floor where it smashed.

At this point, almost 3 hours after I could have gone home, I had had enough.

PendantI turned the radio off, put a CD on instead, and spent a good 3/4 hour swivelling on my swivel chair watching the walls whoosh past. (random thought: I have no idea if anyone else remembers this but back in secondary school, we said “go swivel [on a duck]” when people were stupid or annoying or whatever, haven’t heard it said in ages but I had to think of it while spinning). By the time the CD was about halfway through I was a lot happier. When I finished spinning, I mixed some coloured glass ready for next week, made a pendant and went home. I guess I could’ve gone home as soon as the flask broke, but I was too wound up.

Like I said, having the workshop to myself doesn’t make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.

On what we say v. what they hear.

I’m too sleepy to write as much as I’d like to on this, but it’s been a theme running through several conversations this week.

If what we say isn’t always what they hear, then maybe what we hear isn’t what they said…….. (/what they meant)

 

On Power – of chocolate and of people

Okay. I add ‘and of Mozilla’s moodswings’ to that.

My post was pretty much finished and now it’s gone.

The gist of it was that I am easily swayable by external factors: things, situations, people…and chocolate.

That and the fact that I spend too much time and energy trying to placate people who make life harder than it needs to be and not enough time being thankful for the ones who make it better.

 

[Edit: I have since found the post in question, you can read it here)

On leftovers, menu-planning and how not to roast parsnips

I can’t see how menu planning is supposed to work.

The idea is great – decide what you’re going to eat when and then buy the ingredients for those meals. Super. You don’t buy ‘extras’ or ‘rubbish’, you have a plan so you don’t have to decide what you’re going to cook when you’re too tired to think, you have everything you need when you need it, you have balanced meals and balanced weeks, and all manner of other delightful benefits.

My problem is what happens when life strikes?

Like last Sunday when I just wasn’t hungry, or when things work out differently to the way I thought they would. What happens to the food planned for those days? Do you shift everything along a day (ie, Sunday’s dinner is then eaten on Monday)? But what if you have to make something easy on Monday so you can go out? Do you wait until Thursday when you have time? Leaving all the ingredients until then might mean they go mouldy in the meantime and you’re no better off than with no plan. Do you ignore Sunday altogether and carry on with Monday as per plan? Sunday’s food is then effectively scrapped before it’s had a chance to think about mould.. Do you incorperate the ingredients in the rest of the plan, thereby in effect replanning the week (making the first plan redundant)?

As I said, I haven’t figured it out yet. I try to buy things I can use in more than one meal and then use them up as and when, preferably before they run (or ooze) away of their own accord.

Whatever. I still had parsnips in my fridge from an idea I’d had a week ago. Parsnips are pretty rare over here and one of my favourite vegetables. Occasionally they’re to be found in fruit&veg shops, but they’re certainly not as widespread as in the UK. I found these in a supermarket which really surprised me. I would hate for them not to be eaten, but I somehow hadn’t got round to doing anything with them.

This evening was a stay-at-home kind of evening so I decided to grill them. It’s like roasting only quicker. And more exciting if you use baking paper. I am incredibly lazy as far as washing up goes.

What’s left of the paper..

However, I don’t think there’s a way around washing the tray when grillling. I set my oven on fire while putting the tray-with-paper-and-parsnips-on in it.

I decided washing the tray was marginally better than burning down the house (MY HOUSE!) and took what was left of the greaseproof paper off the tray. I added some peppers, cheese and ham, waited for just the right degree of burnt and settled down to a feast.

🙂

On complaints, halos and air conditioning

(- or “apparently it does work” -)

I have been bemoaning the state of the air conditioning unit at work for about the last 3 years; pretty much as long as I’ve been there. I don’t [think I] moan much, but when I do find something I consider worth moaning about, I’m pretty consistent. In this case I feel especially justified. I work with glass and gasflames and have my nose directly over the resulting noxious fumes. But, and this is a meaningful but, we do actually have an air conditioning unit, which is more than some workshops, and for that I ought to be eternally thankful, despite thinking it’s situated too far over my nose to be any use.

Naja.

Today I found out that it works, at least part time.

My halo was apparently sucked up into it, and is now gone. 🙁

I hadn’t actually noticed, no idea how I managed to miss something that catastrophic, but luckily my colleague was good enough to tell me.

I’m left wondering how I’m going to deal with this monumental loss. If anyone has any ideas, or has seen one floating around looking lonely, please let me know. Thanks.

On the danger of over-eating on a Saturday.

I ate LOTS on Saturday evening. I hadn’t had much lunch apart from the cake at the sale, and there was a galoptious potfull of leftovers to eat up. We didn’t quite achieve empty, even with 15 of us, but I did my best ;). Not sure to what extent my stomach would agree with me on that – on top of actually eating too much, lentils seem to expand once you’ve eaten them. I went home with the feeling I’d narrowly escaped exploding.

I tend to eat too much, then curl up to digest, a bit like a snake. This meant that I wasn’t really hungry on Sunday, in turn meaning I didn’t really eat (apart from yogurt, the most amazing chocolate muesli and the left over crisps from my ‘party’).

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my meanest alarm clock blaring in my ears. I have several and the mean one’s really only for emergencies – I usually wake up to one of the milder ones and turn the mean one off before it wakes the whole street up or someone calls the fire brigade. This morning I’d slept through the others and even this one had somehow managed to work its way into my dream and escape detection.

The reason for my ‘out-like-a-light’ sleep? Not sure, but it probably has to do with not going to bed early enough. I was trying to fill in a form. Or, more accurately, trying to write my CV so I can send it off with the already-filled-in-form to the nice lady who wants it. I probably haven’t done many more exciting/relevant things than the average person, but the manner in which we moved around while I was small, means I went to a LOT of schools. Then, despite changing schools again in order to do my selection of A-Levels, I ended up attending yet another school parallel to the first (eighth) because they cancelled the course after AS. But I digress.

Being a Brit living in Germany generally confuses things anyway, but in this case makes things especially complicated because I don’t have the same sort of report as they do. We have a final exam/coursework based grade and a certificate for each subject, they have a report with the result of every test they’ve ever taken on it. Someone works out the average overall grade, based on how many hours over how many years were spent learning which subject and [probably] what the headteacher eats for breakfast. At least I think that’s what they do. What sort of school you went to, and in which county, determines what people think of the number produced at the end of all the calculations. Whatever. I don’t have one. So I have to explain what my string of letters mean to the official people who are expecting a solitary number.

Oh yeah, and I spent a year ‘dossing’ between sixth form and starting my apprenticeship. At least on paper I dossed. In reality, chasing after small children didn’t feel much like dossing.

I haven’t figured out how to fit all that on one side of A4, so that it’s still readable, and fits the requirements of being in reverse chronological order. Yet.

I would be quite happy to spend the next few weeks working on it (like playing Tetris), but it should already be lying on the nice lady’s desk. And it’s worth something like 1500€. *sighs* With a price tag like that it ought to be at the top of my priority list. Which it was for about 3 minutes, and then life happened. Which is why I was still up at 12:30 last night. At one point it looked quite hopeful that I was going to have something to show for my lack of sleep, until my printer decided it was going to have a headache and print one stripy line a minute. ARGH.

I gave up, washed my hair and went to bed. I did admittedly sleep remarkably well, until the lorry reversed into my room anyway.

I left the house at least 6 minutes too late, realised it was raining, rushed back upstairs for my umbrella, rushed back down my stairs and then up the next flight of steps to the street (oh the joys of living on a hill ;)). I arrived, with wet feet and my jeans a couple of shades darker than usual, 1 (or 3) minutes late, depending on which clock you go by. This remarkably didn’t translate into decibels, but rather into a scowl which, while not being particularly upcheering, was at least gentler on the ears.


The connection to the title? Pff.. Isn’t that obvious? I didn’t eat much yesterday, and didn’t leave myself time for breakfast. Running while hungry is silly, and much harder than it ought to be. The rain didn’t help, but I can usually make the journey in about 9 minutes if I run compared to 17 if I walk, today I needed 14 despite attempting to run between alternate lampposts.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overkill, but I need something to blame 🙂