Monday, May 31, 2010

I'd like to get home in one piece, if that's not too much to ask

I have made the executive decision not to ride in the city anymore. My ride into - or rather toward - the city is fine - usually trouble free and rather enjoyable - but once I hit the CBD it feels like I am taking my life into my hands, and since I'd rather get home in one piece to the Grumbles and Galumph, it's not a feeling that I am relishing.

Now, I don't want to start a cyclists vs drivers debate (you know how it goes, both groups griping about how the other is worse) - all I will say is that I see of plenty of bad behaviour from both groups. But since winter has set in, and it gets dark so early, there seems to be a different mentality on the roads. Everybody is in such a frickin' hurry, which means that when they try and do that hook turn in front of the tram they don't necessarily look to see if poor old Jorthy is pedalling along.

I had such a near miss last week that the look of shock on the driver's face will forever be etched in my memory, as will the fright I felt as I realised that she hadn't seen me at all until I dinged my bell at her, and if I didn't slam on my brakes in a hurry then there would be a nice Jorth-sized crumple in her door, and me probabily in traction for a few weeks (if I was lucky). Then two blocks later, almost exactly the same thing happened. I was beginning to wonder if (a) I was invisible and (b) if I would ever make it home in one piece.

I'm not quite sure what I can do to make myself more visible to motorists. I ride - following every road rule perfectly, I must say - properly in the bike lane, give drivers plenty of indication and warning when I am going to make a turn, don my super daggy but highly visible yellow fluro bike vest when riding, and have uber bright lights on both the front and back of my bike. Yet it seems that as soon as I hit the city I am surrounded by some sort of magic fog that renders me completely invisible to drivers.

Part of me feels bad about walking my bike along the footpath instead of riding on the road, as the current wisdom says that the more riders there are on the actual road, the more drivers notice them and therefore drive with their safety in mind. But when you have so many near misses despite doing everything right, and you'd like to stick around to see your daughter grow up, then it seems that one has no options but to remove yourself for safety's sake - at least until you are out of the confines of the CBD.

UPDATE: Just like to say I'm not quitting riding my bike - ugh, that would mean waiting for the tram, and I'm far too impatient for that - I'm just not riding the last four blocks of my commute which are smack bang in the middle of the CBD. Give up riding? Never? I love the feel of the wind in my hair too much!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I love a piano (sing it with me!)


Two years after we purchased our piano I finally got around to beginning my piano lessons. Hoorah! I've always wanted to play the piano, ever since I was a wee slip of a thing. Family legend has it that when I was the ripe old age of four my Nanna sat me down and played a couple of tunes. I must have been watching intently, because I then proceeded to play the tunes myself, pretty much note perfect. Not too shabby for first time on the piano!

A few years later, when she was moving into a retirement village, she asked my parents if they would like the piano, but quelle horreur - they said no. So the piano went to my cousin instead, who had lessons for years. Despite this fact the only thing she can play now is the first few bars of the theme to The Muppet Show.

Isn't that the most tragic story you've ever heard? But don't despair - I shall be a thwarted piano genius no longer. Watch this space - I'll be banging out Bach in no time... or at the very least getting to the end of The Leila Fletcher Piano Course Book One (currently stuck in the middle... that playing with both hands bit has really got me confused!)

Monday, May 24, 2010



The Grumbles, it appears, is going through a growing phase. She's practically shooting up before our eyes! Only a few weeks ago, when I measured her for the Red Riding Hood jacket, she was 112cm, so I made it up in the 116cm size, as when I go to all the effort of making her a garment, I like to squeeze as much wear into it as possible.

Yesterday afternoon found me cutting out a pinafore for her, in the 116cm size. "Loverly!", I thought to myself. "With any luck she'll get two winters out of this!" But the more I cut, the more uncertain I became. It just looked too darn small.

Finally I called her over. I held the pinafore back to her, and came to the unfortunate realisation that it did indeed look awfully small. Not crazy small - it will fit for now - but I was beginning to suspect that we won't be getting two years out of it. There was only one thing to do, and so I did it - I propped her up against the wall and measured her height once more.

She came in at 118cm. Blimming heck! She's grown 6cm in the space of a few weeks! If I try and squeeze two winters out of the pinafore she'll be flashing her undies for the world to see, and I can assure you that there is none of those shenanigans going on chez Jorth. I sure hope she likes the finished product, because she'll be wearing it as much as possible this winter!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back, with news!

Here I am! Back in the world of blogging! After much mucking around, blowing dust from various pieces of hardware and the occasional bit of swearing, the Galumph has figured out that we have lost a hard drive, so now we need to spend money money money on getting either a new one or some sort of external device. Dunno, he lost me at hello. All I know is that the computer is precariously working now, but may give up the ghost at any moment since we are now operating with only one hard drive not two. Bored? Moi aussi, so let's move on...

In other news a friend who owns a cafe/catering business has asked me to take photos for their new website and corporate brochures. Eggggsciting! (Heheh, couldn't resist!) And the best bit is that I think I'm getting paid in food. I am insanely happy about this.

Also don't forget that Tessuti Melbourne is having their first birthday celebration on Saturday. I'll be there wearing my glad rags, so pop on in to say hello and enjoy some special birthday discount door prizes. Hoorah!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Puter problems

Hello friends! It appears that I have been inadvertantly AWOL this week. It's not my fault - our computer is sick. Very sick. Apparently, in computer-speak it has a corrupted RAID drive and the mirroring database isn't working correctly or some such. Does that make any sense to you? None to me whatsoever. All I know is the darn thing isn't working!

The Galumph has spent some time tinkering with it, and thought he had it fixed but alas, not so. I've managed to get it to work to post this, but it's GROANING like a fat old man running up a hill, and no matter how hard I whack the side of the CPU case it won't stop. That trick usually works but not today. Um, maybe don't tell Galumph that I do that. He might not be impressed.

So no photo today, and none likely until this poor thing has seen the computer doctor. If I even think about opening more than one program at once the whole thing will have some sort of electrical conniption and shut down on me. There's also some odd electronic chirping going on, so I'm going to shut down now before it blows up on me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Punctures become obsolete!

After getting two nasty glass punctures within a month on my bike (thank you, inner city dudes who smash beer bottles on Saturday night!) I decided to bite the bullet and get some snazzy puncture-proof wheels for my bike.

If anybody is wondering they go by the name of Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but that's all I'm going to tell you because I don't want to become one of those people who know waaaaaaaay too much information about each and every component of their bike/car/rocket ship and will spend hours droning on about it to anbody who is daft polite enough to listen, and then wakes up at 3am one lonely Tuesday and wonders why they don't get invited to parties anymore.

Especially the ones where you smash beer bottles on a Saturday night, because those are fun!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joy Cardigan

The reporters and paps were gathered around the door in a mad scrum, awaiting a glimpse of something that up until now was merely a rumour. Had Jorth really finished her Joy cardigan? Would it finally be unveiled to the world?

At the allotted time the door opened and Jorth stood blinded by the storm of flashes going off. Before she could even utter a word the reporters began to fire questions at her.

Jorth! Are you happy with the finished product? Why yes, it fits like a dream and...
Jorth! Was it hard to find buttons to match? Oh no, I merely went to Tessuti and picked out 6 nice shell ones...
Jorth! Will you get much wear out of the cardigan? Well it goes with everything, so I dare say so. You'd want to after all the bloody effort!
Jorth! Have you submitted the cardigan to Ravelry? Of course! It's right here.
Jorth! It is true that knitting the Rowan Demin gave you sore wrists? I can neither confirm nor deny without a lawyer present, but let's just say this boys: you won't be getting any jazz hands poses today! (much laughter)
Jorth! Did the cardigan survive the washing machine with no ill effects? I think the result speaks for itself, fellas! I'll say - maybe I should go for a spin (more laughter, but quite a few groans)
Jorth! Can you recommend the pattern to any knitters out there, and will you be making any more Kim Hargreaves patterns in the future? Yes and yes, lads, yes and yes!

With that the reporters packed away their notepads and recorders, tipped their hats and said goodbye whilst the paps took one last shot, and then the street was quiet once more.

Project Details
Pattern: Joy from Nectar by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: 10 balls of Rowan Denim
Notions: 6 blue shell buttons from Tessuti Fabrics

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood

Grumbles had a 'dress up as a character from your favourite fairy tale' day at school yesterday. Let me tell you, there were no stinkin' Disney Princess outfits for us. This, my friends, required yours truly to whip up a Little Red Riding Hood jacket and the Grumbles looks pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

Added bonus: she now has a jacket to wear all winter long to boot. Score!

Project Details
Pattern: Jacket from Ottobre 1/2006
Fabric: 100% wool from Tessuti Fabrics
Notions: Two recycled buttons from stash

I have wanted to make this project for eeeeevvvvvveeeer, but somehow never got around to it. There were always more important things to make, like jeans for Grumbles, or dresses for the school fete, or another Vogue 8184... ahem. But then inspiration struck, and we have a winner (which is good, because my sewing mojo totally felt like it had gone awol. It was pretty easy to put together - a nice Sunday afternoon job - and the hardest part was maintaining concentration whilst I hand-scalloped the edging. Still, it's a nice touch and what's a bit of RSI when your favourite gal needs a costume?

And Grumbles verdict? "It's really nice and beautiful and I really love it and it looks pretty and that's it full stop!"

Well! No higher praise indeed!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mums out there. I think it's the toughest - but most rewarding - job I've ever had, and I think we all deserve a great big whopping pat on the back.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It is really too much

I was, as you can imagine, apoplectic to discover that my husband had hijacked my blog again with his damn cat pictures and nerd speak. It took some sage advice from my divorce lawyer and a large dose of Kidsilk Haze before I calmed down again.

I really must speak to him about it. It's getting completely out of hand. Hoppo Bumpo was right - the poor man does need his own blog so he doesn't continue to contaminate mine with his dorky computer talk.

Even just writing this is sending the blood pressure up! Quick, pass the knitting needles... and maybe the Persephone catalogue so I can drool over books rather than fantasise about hitting my husband over the head!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

From the keyboard of the Galumph - The joys of web development

Manx, cool cat without a tail.

Jorthy is a little busy tonight and I've decided to blog in her place. I promised a software related post (in-fact serialization in dotNet) so here it is.

I'm a professional developer, I've spent 13 years writing, testing and managing enterprise software and teams. I've recently moved to a non-profit organisation where it’s back to hands on, no more staff managing, or yelling at staff that their quality is poor. My first project is sorting out the mess of an existing ASP.NET project.

As per most software projects you firstly tackle the low-hanging fruit like ensuring the software you write is the software that moves into Production and placing version numbers on everything. Beyond this you get down into the coal face and start sorting out problems. Crystal Reports versioning (yuk), Microsoft SQL database replication (fun!) and actually writing code. The language forced upon me is ASP.NET written in Visual Basic .NET.

The worst part of web based products is trying to trace any problem. Let me explain what happens when a web page you visit is rendered.

The below is server side code, relatively easy to write and debug.

1. The page is called. e.g. blah.aspx, or blah.php

2. On the server, the code is executed in order that the programmer decided. There are page initialisation, page load, control events and then closing events like page render.

3. From all this code a stream of HTML code is delivered to your browser with all the fields pre-populated from the database (of choice) and fields available for entry, nothing fancy, just HTML with some client side code (see below).

4. The gods then have a hand on whether the HTML your server has created is actually fit for the client browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and all their versions) to consume which it often isn’t - I'll save that for another time.

Next comes client side code (the magic!), hard to write and impossible to debug. As we have become accustomed to web sites behaving like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook (or any other Windows/Mac/Linux application) we expect instant gratification, so when I tab off this field I want it validated, or like in Google that as I type I want it to search for the keywords.

This, my crafty friends is the nightmare. You are as a developer in serious trouble if you want to 'step through' the code, or 'break' the code. Its back to programming 101 where you insert friendly 'I'm here' dialogs throughout your code to tell you what is happening, it can take hours searching for a stray ), or ;.

Where the 1st class language we’ve been promised? This unfortunately is why software development has become more labour intensive, not less. It basically comes down to the fancy things we want out of web based applications. If you wanted it on a standard Windows, Mac, or Linux environment it would be much simpler, but due to deployment and cross platform issues everything must be web... oh and don’t forget, make it run like Microsoft Word.

I love my job!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Tonight for dinner I am having soup. This will come as no surprise whatsofrickinever for those who know me, because at eat soup for dinner at least once a week. Ok, ok, thrice. But who's counting? I love soup. Soup is my friend. I am practically a soup addict but I am fine with that because it makes me souper! Geddit?

Ok, I'll stop now before your groans hurt my ears.

I'm also eating rhubarb and apple crumble. With organic cream! Holy smokes, dessert on a week night? Well, we were meant to be entertaining dinner guests, but they have cancelled. Boooooooo! Yea, cancelled they have done but the crumble - alas, the crumble! - had already been made.

I'm not actually that upset because that means MORE CRUMBLE FOR ME! And on that note I am outta here to stuff my face with souperish crumbly goodness.

Geez I love autumn.

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'm not really one for Sunday drives

We went and stay at my mother-in-law's place in the country over the weekend, and something that I had suspected for quite some time was confirmed to me: I simply cannot handle being in a car anymore.

Short drives appear to be fine, but I rarely do those as we don't own a car, and generally hop on the bikes if we need to go somewhere. But put me in a moving vehicle for more than 15 minutes and it quickly becomes chunder city. I sit in front passenger seat, furiously sucking on a Chupa Chup, willing myself not to be sick, and then when we finally get to our destination it takes a good half hour of hoarsly breathing in the fresh air before I feel quite myself again.

So Jorth + extraordinary mild g force = sickie. I guess that puts my dreams of being an astronaut to rest, then! On the bright side, whilst all the powers of my mind are concentrating on not revealing the contents of my stomach then I'm not thinking about my vintage dress disaster (yep, still bummed!)