Monday, December 27, 2010

i guess this is good news

...no broken bones this time.

I didn't have a sonogram, so I don't know if I tore a ligament like before, or if it's just heavily overstretched. Whatever it is, I've got another air-cast on, this time on my left ankle and I'm considering spending the rest of my life in bed a la Sheldon.



Sigh.

2011 better be better.

Friday, December 17, 2010

rollin' and rockin' and sitting in the penalty box

I may have mentioned how awesome roller derby is once or twice, but just in case there is any confusion on the matter... it is AWESOME. Last weekend was the awesomest of awesome, with the first German Roller Derby Championships here in Berlin. Five teams, seven bouts and it was... wait for it.... awesome.

As I'm still not on skates due to the pain in my ankle which, three months later, still doesn't allow me to bend it comfortably in certain directions and therefore is not particularly suited to wobble about on the top of four wheels, I wasn't skating. Well even if I had been on wheels I wouldn't have skated as a) I suck and b) the Berlin Bombshells don't suck and therefore I wouldn't have made it onto the team anyway.

Maybe next year. Or the year after. Or once they perfect body transplants and I can swap out my broken specimen for some young, fit thing.

So over the last couple of months I've been doing Non-Skating Official (NSO) jobs, mainly sitting in the penalty box and trying not to be hit by derby girls flying in on their knees.

For the Championship, three full NSO/Referee teams were put together from all over Europe and, as a full team is eighteen people to run a single bout, there was a lot of us. TestosteRon Jeremy, a ref from Helsinki crashed out our place for the weekend and Leon Dog Wonder fell in love with him.

Personally, I think it was the moustache.


Photo by Michael Wittig

There was something about being part of that group. I think it harks back to my theatre years, where as a lighting tech you were part of a team that runs in the background. Tight-knit, functional, doing your job while others are in the spotlight. I still get a frisson of excitement when I walk into a dark, empty theatre and look up into the Gods, and this was pretty similar.

I'm sure most people who know me find it unusual that I enjoy the jobs in the background so much, as I think we can all agree that I do have an ego the size of a small planet. Of course, I do now have a hoodie with my derby name printed across the back in big-arse letters, so it's not like I'm trying to be particularly shy and unassuming.


Watch live video from euroderby on Justin.tv

Sunday, November 28, 2010

he found a bunch of englishmen and led them astray

"How're you going?"
"I'm drunk."
"I can see that. How much did you drink?"
"Well I had four beers but I poured half of one away so it was three and a half beers and then wanted a coke but he bought me another beer so I had three and a half beers plus one beer."
"So four and a half beers."
"No, it was three and a half plus one."
"Four and a half, then."
"It might have been seven."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

berlin street view

Well it's been a bit of a furor but street view is up and active here at last, meaning I'm not doing much else than trying to find interesting stuff happening in my town. This, I consider, is productive use of my lunch break.

Typically, I missed entirely the birth on the street in the neighbouring suburb and the naked dude in the car. Of course, the last one is understandable as he's not a Berliner. You can tell because of the lack of ironically worn retro-eighties clothing.

The most interesting thing I've found so far is this: a guy carrying an injured German Shepherd out of a vets near my place. Okay, so it isn't really exciting but give me a break. I only get half an hour for lunch after all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winding up somewhere totally unexpected


I found myself the other day, for wont of anything better to do at the time, following a Hot List link on Delicious and wound up in the middle of a story about two gay male ballet dancers called Eames and Arthur. I'm sure you can see where this is heading but I didn't. Not even with the word Inception in the title. Not even with the thin characterisation and overly navel gazing narration. Not even after I read all twenty thousand words of this story and then realised there were more stories of Eames and Arthur, but written by a lot of different livejournal bloggers. In fact it wasn't until this morning when it suddenly dawned on me.

Ohhhh, it was slash fic.

Now I've had really nothing to do with fanfic and its raunchier slash brother. Which is almost a surprise considering that I'm a scifi fan, a wannabe writer and as much a fan of well written porn as the next girl. The story I'd stumbled upon was more of a Mills & Boon than eastern european porn mag, which is why I think I'm excused from recognising it immediately.

Of course the other reason is that the story was about two gay ballet dancers in London. Aside from having the characters vaguely resemble Leonardo and Joseph it had nothing to do with the Inception characters or their world. I mean, what exactly was the point of it?

If the writer had tried a little but harder s/he could probably have created characters from scratch that would have been more complete and actually produced something unique. Or as unique as any love/porn story is I guess.

So, meh. I've stumbled into the world of slash now, but I think I'll head out again. There's erotica aplenty elsewhere and while I'm not averse to a little Gordon-Levitt fantasy, I think I'll just stick with the less slashy variety.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

so what do you think this post is about?

Twelve years ago I got off a plane from four months backpacking around the world and one of the first things my mother said to me was "You've gone grey!". Which wasn't exactly what you wanted to hear as a spritely twenty-three year old, living up the jetsetting lifestyle of hostel dorm rooms, two-minute noodles and overnight Greyhound bus rides.

Of course, I did get my own back a minute later when I told her I'd spent her lovingly bestowed emergency travellers check in San Fransisco to get a tattoo.

But I digress.

Since then it's been a fight with the grey invader. When friends tell me they've got their first few grey hairs I scoff in disgust. For my regrowth is silver and I'm forced into a steady attendance at the hairdressers. Hi Kerstin!

So I came up with the plan of dying my hair grey anyway. I mean, I can't fight it, I'm sick of having to be at the hairdressers every four weeks. And if I manage to make it LOOK obviously dyed grey, then no one will think I actually AM grey.

Huh? Huh? See THAT'S some clever thinking there, that is.

It took me a while to talk over my normal hairdresser, a woman that deals with me coming in every month and saying "What stupid thing can I do to it today?".

Hi Marina!

Today, however, she was willing to give it a shot. Unfortunately, though, it took a long time just to get most of the colour out and we've decided to put off the next step - dyeing it grey - until my poor scalp has had a little while to recover. So for now I'm a odd kind of golden blonde with strawberry highlights and I must admit, for something different, I kinda like it.

blondes gift

Friday, November 05, 2010

A small deception


A couple of weeks ago we had two teenage girls as guests and, as you can probably imagine, we were stressing out a bit as to how on earth we could make ourselves seem cool. Having been extremely uncool teenagers ourselves (although, to be honest, I'm not sure DrH actually noticed that he wasn't) it wasn't something we thought we could pull off.

In the end, I figured the worst we would come off as is middle-class, middle-aged folk trying to look cool, and that's at least one step up from old people still wearing tie-dye.

There is always further one can drop in the social strata.

So the night they arrived from their small town in southern Germany, we took them out to White Trash Fast Food, a bar-come-restaurant-come-club-come-tattoo parlour-come-burger joint-live band venue. It's full of native-english speakers covered in tattoos and kitschy chinese restaurant decor.

The gals loved it and, as an upside, a group of fifty-plus-year olds came in after us wearing North Face jackets and expensive hiking shoes, thereby officially making us NOT the uncoolest In the room. WIN.

By the time we'd gotten home, each had called their respective boyfriend multiple times and exclaimed on the coolness of the night and how much Berlin rocked over their teeming local metropolis of Koblenz.

Later, on our own in the bedroom, DrH and I totally didn't high-five each other on our success at pulling it off.

'Cause that wouldn't have been cool.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doc, doc, doc, doc


I swear I've spent more time with members of the medical profession in the last three months than in the previous thirty years combined. This is getting ridiculous.

So yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk talking to a colleague when my lower back twinged. Then twinged again. Then apparently decided I wasn't yet paying enough attention because it proceeded to grab every muscle in my lower back and give them a chinese burn that would make twelve year old every where go "Wohhhr" in awe.

I spent half an hour lying on the floor waiting for a muscle relaxant to kick in before I could hobble downstairs and get a colleague to drive me home.

And it was definitely hobble because, y'know, I still have that broken ankle thing.

Now you may ask why I happened to have prescription strength muscle relaxants in my handbag anyway. Well that's because my upper back was such a mess that I've been at the physio once a week for the past two months. Nicely enough I've an appointment tonight, so he'll get to work on all of my back for once.

I suppose it's a good thing that these have all been injuries as opposed to illnesses, but I'm feeling like an eighty year old. Hopefully I can heal in time to get hit by the real problems of aging.

Monday, September 27, 2010

doing it tough


Gosh, life can just be full of hardships can't it? DrH and I have taken a weeks holiday and are currently sitting on a terrace in the middle of Barcelona. It's been terribly sunny and warm and occasionally we've had to wait, oh, at least four minutes before the sangria was delivered to our table.

The suffering, I tell you.

Of course it has actually been slightly harder than normal to do the tourist route, what with my broken foot. We've had to curtail the walking somewhat, and do things at a slower pacer than we might otherwise have.

Take today. After waking up at 10, we read books for two hours until deciding to go for breakfast. We walked about 125 metres to the market, found a cafe and then sat and read for half an hour. Walked another 55 metres and found a lovely garden, where we sat and read for an hour. Walked 500 metres or so gawking at stuff, then decided to have lunch. We ate tapas and then read for another hour. A slow stroll back to our abode, stopping off to buy some antique earrings, and now we're reading again.




I've almost finished my second novel since holidays started yesterday morning and, for the record, The Wind-up Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi totally deserved its Hugo and Nebula awards.

Yep, this holiday thing. Really hard.

Friday, September 24, 2010

because europe is just a small backwater

Pretty much exactly a year ago I started looking at ereaders. Someone on twitter told me of the Txtr - a sexy looking little thing that was to be brought out by a local Berlin company. I was thrilled and waited about three months until I finally gave up on it as vapourware. As the same preregistration shit is still up on their site nine months later, I guess it is.

So I needed something else. For the previous year or so I'd been collecting the free ebooks that publishers and authors were putting out, and I'd reached about 150 of them. A significant amount to read, I figured, and worthy of an ereader purchase. But I'm unhappy with the idea of propriatary formats and I'm fundamentally aganist DRM, so the Kindle wasn't an option and neither was waiting for the then mystical iPad.

So I bought a Pocketbook 360 and must say I'm still really happy with it. It's small, light and robust and has a hard cover which is easy to remove. Readability is great and glare minimal. I use it in the simplest possible way - dragging and dropping ePub and pdf files and that's fine by me.

The biggest problem when I bought it was actually buying books. Open format, DRM free? Not so easy. But I found a few places that would. Then they started hammering in the geographical restrictions. And now it's almost impossible to buy books at all. Tor, a publishing company that put out a whole bunch of freebie ebooks as advertising has almost no ebooks available. Still. A year later. And those that are are only available to the US - with DRM of course.

Now I was very understanding of the whole copyright/different publishers/different countries thing for the last year but this has gotten ridiculous. They're destroying their own customer base. Who'll actually go back and start paying for books again when they've gotten in the habit of pirating them for free?

I've held off on the temptation so far - today I bought a huge number of books from Webscriptions, because now they're pretty much the only ones who will sell DRM free ePubs in Germany. Even thought the covers of most of those books are somewhat, well, cheap and off-putting, their sample novels given out via the Baen free library were convincing enough that I've now bought the entire back catalogue of several of their authors.

Y'know what Tor? I would've done the same for you. Only you don't want me to pay for your books apparently. So good luck with that whole surviving the demise of the publishing industry thing. I really reckon you're onto a winning strategy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Snap!



So I've been limping around for a week and my ankle hasn't really gotten any better. We're flying to Barcelona on Saturday for a week so I figured I probably should see a doctor here before I go. You know, in case it turns into gangrene and falls off and I'm in a hospital where all I can say in the local language is "Una cerveza, por favor".

Yep, DrH is going to have to order his own. I haven't gotten as far as counting to two yet.

So I got an appointment with my favourite orthopaed who, when I normally see him, is working up a sweat throwing me around the room to try and fix my neck. He was quite impressed with the general level of bruising and soreness I had after a week, so I got a x-ray.

Of course I forgot my android was in my pocket so either smart phones aren't sensitive to that kind of radiation or the lead apron you wear to protect your ovaries also works for mobile devices.

The end of all this is that I've chipped the end of my fibula. This is officially my first broken bone and makes me rather proud. It took 35 years but I finally managed to crack one. Hmmm, maybe this is the first sign of osteoporosis.

So I'm wearing a splint for the next three weeks until it's hopefully attached again. Derby training is on hold and I'll be limping around on the tourist trek of Barcelona next week. I'm planning on rest breaks for a brief wine restorative, oh, every hundred metres or so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hobbling along



I twisted my ankle last week. Embarrassingly enough I wasn't even on skates at the time. I wasn't trying out some new moves or taking out the competition or trying to slip past a blocker at high speed. Nope, I was walking the dog on a deceptively flat pavement, where a slight dip between a grassy verge and a paved footpath reached out in the dark and dragged my ankle sideways. So I've been limping a bit pathetically for a few days. And whinging. I'm good at that.

Then I saw this derby injury and figured I should probably shut up with my pathetic little injury. Apparently there is much more in store for me.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Roll 'em


I think I may have done something stupid. At least, stupider than the normal things I do. Which makes it pretty goddamn stupid.

I signed up for a beginners course in Roller Derby.

I'd you're not familiar with this trend sport, it's basically chicks on roller skates beating each other up. At least that what it looks like the first time you go and see a bout.

Today I got onto skates for the first time in twenty years. I didn't embarrass myself too much, but I certainly no longer possess the nimbleness of youth. Or the basic fitness. Or endurance. Or flexible bones.

Nicely enough, the Bear City Rollers put a lot of emphasis into both skills training and fitness and so we did a lot of very deliberate falling today. Knees, hips, elbows, we landed on them all and I'm going to have one monster arse bruise from a fall I totally fucked up.

Three hours of training and every single muscle hurts. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to move tomorrow, but I'm planning on being on skates again on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

apparently I've become a housewife

I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen these days. Before I start ruining my reputation too much, I will let you know that I don't clean. I don't vacuum or iron or put the washing on - those are what you have a husband for and far be it for me to interfere with something he does with such obvious enjoyment. Dusting is my thing, and attacking the scale in the bathroom, but the rest of the housekeeping duties are not for me. It's a deal which works out pretty well for both of us.

Anyway, today I went shopping at a fantastic kitchen supplies place, Coledampf's, thinking I'd grab some baking stuff. You know, some muffin tins or cookie cutters or something which I OBVIOUSLY desperately need and please ignore the pile of supplies I already have.

But in one corner was a beautiful shiny pile of glass jars with rubber seals and clips all ready for jam and preserve making season. And they called to me with the beguiling voice of kitchenware.

"There's that relish recipe that Mum gave you which she had from that woman in the old folk's home where Nanna was..."

Moo's Relish. I'm not joking with the name. And this recipe has run riot through family and friends. It's famous, Moo's Relish, among at least twenty people of suburban Geelong. Man, is that some good relish.

So I grabbed an armful of jars, as well as the recipe book on display, and bicycled them home.

Brief aside: have I mentioned I got a new bike for my birthday? It's a classic Holland bike and I look exactly like the Wicked Witch of the West as she cycled off into the tornado. It may be that I cackled on my way home tonight.

I decided to build my way up to Moo's by trying out the new book and downscaling everything for just one or two jars. After all, I had to get the hang of sterilizing stuff without a handy lab autoclave nearby. And I kept wanting to do everything with full aseptic techinique under a bunsen burner but, surprisingly, the books instructions didn't include that.

So I've made a small jar of Lime Curd and a Peach and Date Chutney. The kitchen is a minor disaster area, but that's not my problem to deal with and instead I can admire these cute little jars filled with deliciousness. And next week I think I'll go and buy some more. We may have to build in extra storage space, now that I come to think of it.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pat-a-cake



I've been on a baking thing recently. I'm not entirely sure why, but almost every weekend, and many weeknights, I've found myself in the kitchen creaming and kneading.

No, not like that. Take your mind out of the gutter.

Last weekend I decided to go the whole hog and give sour dough a try. Honestly I'm not sure why it worried me- many years ago I was growing 15 litres of yeast a day and demanding much more of the wee beasties than just getting some bread to rise and that worked out. Usually.

So on Saturday I cracked out the baking book my mother gave me when I moved here and complained about the bread (yes, Germans, that complaint goes in both directions) and put the starter on. Sunday I added more flour to get the sponge going and the whole thing was looking pretty good. I got a little worried on monday as the sponge was looking a bit yellower and not smelling as yeasty as I'd thought it should and I know how bad a bacterial infection can be for a yeast culture.

But I bit the bullet and made the bread and damn me if it didn't just turn out delicious.

So now I've found a potato based starter online and think I'll put that on tonight....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hair!

There's nothing like a fresh start, right? And nothing like a new haircut for a fresh start. I mean, let's face it, most of my internet activities in the last year or two have mainly been reserved for documenting the stupidity I've undertaken with my head.



Ok, so I'm not usually wearing it like this. But come on, this fringe totally killed it in 1987.

So I've once again chopped it all off in a move that I'm considering part of my mid-life crisis. Well, if I'm being honest, it's part of my eighth mid-life crisis, having had one a year since 2004, except for 2005 when I memorably had two-fer. But this one coincided rather neatly with my 35th birthday and so I'll take it as having particular importance.

Now the normal way I wear the new cut may not look terribly different to the photo of the old cut, but that's just because then I had it neatly tucked back and it appeared shorter than it was. In fact it was still about this length and had DrH already dreaming of me with long, flowing tresses whipping sexily in the breeze of U-bahn trains. Not to be, I'm afraid, as I've adopted a far more teenboy popstar look for its current incarnation.

Just for the joy of it, here's a slideshow for the public wonderment of Shit-I've-done-to-my-head: