November 2007


by Suw on November 28, 2007

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. It’s been a bit of a strange year, work-wise, with a lot of meetings over the summer that came to naught, and the last month being a mad rush of new clients and new work. Of course, I’m very happy to be busy, but it does rather coincide with the run up to the wedding, so I’m rather short of time to write down all that’s going on. I really do want to keep as much of a real-time record of things as I can, because otherwise all this will be lost to the vagaries of my memory and I feel that I really want to chronicle the whole thing, not just the day.

I’m sure everyone on Twitter will be glad to hear that I have finally finished up the beading on the fabric that will be used as the inset for my skirt. Some people have expressed concern over whether or not it is bad luck for the Groom to see said piece of fabric, but in our flat it would be tricky indeed for me both work on it and hide it from him. (You know your flat is small when even the gas man says “Wow! This is a small flat!”) But there’s no way one can extrapolate from a bit of fabric to the finished thing, and as long as he doesn’t see that before the moment I walk down the aisle, I think we’re good. Kev, however, has said that if we have any bad luck after we get married, that’s my fault. Ah well, I’ll suck it up if it happens.

I’ve been told by my dress maker that the corset is now finished, and I will be collecting it tomorrow, when I hand over the silk for the skirt. Wow. Sounds like some sort of dodgy heist…

I bought 15 metres of ivory silk, enough for the skirt, the stole (which I will have to start beading soon – a beader’s work is never done), and a bit left over in case I decide I want to finish the edge of the veil with perfectly matching biased binding. That would, I must admit, be a right royal pain in the arse, but my perfectionism may yet drive me to it.

The corset will be hidden away, where no prying eyes can see it, but having it this early does give me a good chance to think about and experiment with jewellery and other decoration.

Honestly, shop-bought brides get it so easy. One of the things that drives me nuts is all the tiny little decisions that need to be made. As I’ve blogged before, it took me ages to decide on which beads to use, a decision that was tiny but important. Having to go through that decision making process again and again and again is wearing, and sometimes I feel quite jealous of brides who can afford to blow thousands on a wedding planner and whatever dress and jewellery they like. I’m trying to be stylish and inexpensive at the same time, and it’s really hard work. I want everything to be just so, but sometimes the most unimportant decisions are the hardest to make, because there is no clear reason to choose one thing over another. (The fact that I’m reading The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz at the moment is an irony not lost on me.)

I was explaining this problem to Kevin on the bus the other day, using the example of whether we have paper or linen napkins. Obviously if we have paper, then we can have them to match the colour scheme, but if we have linen they will be cream. Paper napkins come with the venue hire, so cost us nothing, whereas linen napkins are an additional £2.50 each. I was struggling with the decision, because linen would be nicer, but do I really want to blow 200 quid on napkins?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” was Kevin’s advice, but that really doesn’t help. The size of the decision is irrelevant, and to say that something doesn’t matter doesn’t make it easier to decide. In the end, Kevin pulled the rabbit out of the hat with a throwaway comment that linen napkins are probably better for the environment, so that provided me with a good reason to sway my decision in one direction. The fact that it swayed it in the direction that it already wanted to go was a nice co-incidence.

Honestly, though, making these trivial decisions is the hardest thing about organising a wedding. The really big stuff, particularly stuff like the venue, the food, the band and the flowers, have turned out to be pretty stress-free decisions, because I was already very clear about what I wanted and the range of option was pretty small. It really was just a matter of finding the right people to do what I wanted. Deciding whether to have round tables or banquet style tables, though, that’s a different kettle of fish.

We still have some big, outstanding matters to clear up, though. Kevin’s outfit for the day, for example. We really wanted something like the outfit Tristan Thorn (played by Charlie Cox) wears in Stardust, but have been unable to find anything like that out there. We looked into getting a frock coat made, but it’s really very expensive. The quality would be amazing, of course, but one has to ask if it is a coat one would wear for years and years after. (Although given that one of Kev’s proudest purchases is a $10 jacket he got from a second-hand store years back, even if the answer to that was yes, I suspect he wouldn’t want to splash out at this point in time. It’s not like we don’t have a lot of other expenses to cover right now.)

Kev has looked at vintage clothing stores but we can’t find anything that we think might stock that style. Much of the stuff up in Camden is more 40s/50s/60s. Costumiers that we’ve found online tend to be fancy dress suppliers, and quality looks a bit shoddy. So we’re rather unsure now what to do. Shame we can’t just borrow the outfit from the Stardust wardrobe.

I think finishing up my dress and getting Kevin and the other males in the wedding party kitted out are probably the two scariest bits left to do. That, plus finishing up the invitations, which we’ve been slowly sending out in dribs and drabs, and getting into the real nitty gritty of organising the big day, and the run up to it. Oh, and immigration. How could I possibly forget the joy that is immigration. I’ll blog more about that little chestnut soon.

Still, I have my to do list in the wonderful OmniFocus, and I have OmniPlan to help me organise the run up, so we’re all good.

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Wisdom tooth update

by Suw on November 21, 2007

It has been six days since Mr Bruce Gollings extracted my last remaining wisdom tooth, and I have to say that the patient is doing well. I had very little swelling, not much pain – I only had to take painkillers two or three times over the following three days, and none since then – and the bruise has only come up in the last few days. Indeed, I now have a nice green patch on my jaw, but even that’s fading fast.

Now that the swelling’s gone down, and I’ve had my stitch removed (although it was doing a good job of removing itself), I’ve been able to take a good look at the damage. You can see where the tooth was, if you look hard enough, which I don’t expect anyone but me will want to do.

My main concern is to keep the cavity clean and make sure that no bits of food get stuck in it. That was, after all, the main problem with the wisdom tooth itself – bits of food would get stuck just under the flap of gum it had cut as it erupted and rot. I’m now flushing it out with hot salt water after every meal (when at home), using the handy needleless syringe that my dentist gave me.

I am just so glad that tooth has gone, though. All those low-level infections I was getting really tired me out. I must admit, I feel much more chirpy and healthy now. All I have to do now is get rid of the vertigo that I was hoping was going to go away with the tooth,but which hasn’t.

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ORG Day!

by Suw on November 19, 2007

It seems very hard to believe, but it’s over two years since the Open Rights Group was started by myself, Danny O’Brien, Ian Brown, Rufus Pollock, Stef Magdalinski, and Cory Doctorow at OpenTech, on 23 July 2005. We rapidly brought Louise Ferguson, James Cronin, William Heath and Ben Laurie on board (and onto the Board), gathered a fabulous group of keen thinkers and technology experts onto our Advisory Council, and recruited Neil Gaiman as our Patron. Then, after many months of behind the scenes work, ORG took its first tentative steps out into the big wide world.

Today, ORG has published its first annual report (although I’ll leave you to make the joke about how ‘annual’ doesn’t normally mean ‘after 28 months’!). This is a really big landmark – this is a sign of how well ORG has matured from a wobbly-knee’d start-up to a real, responsible and well-governed organisation. Indeed, the Report of Activities follows hot on the heels of our recent recruitment of three new Board members, Vijay Sodiwala, Dan McQuillan, and David Harris, each of whom brings new skills to the table. ORG truly is growing up, and as one of the people to have been there from the beginning, I’m really proud of what we have achieved and am honoured to have played a small part in that success.

It’s amazing, how much we’ve done over the last 28 months. We cut our teeth on the Data Retention Directive, managing to get some much needed press attention for a directive that was marched through the European legislature with alarming speed. We’ve helped the UK Podcasters Association defend their rights. We’ve lobbied hard to have the term of copyright on sound recordings protected, as part of a wider project to respond to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. We’ve helped the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG, now APComms) understand why we are against DRM. We’ve been one of the first organisations in the UK to observe the use of e-voting and e-counting in England and Scotland, touring our report around the party conferences.

We’ve done consultations, white papers, MPs briefings, press interviews and briefings, radio interviews, TV news slots, events, meetings, conferences, and blogs posts galore. The ORG wiki has become a valuable repository of information on a wide variety of digital rights issues, written mainly by some amazingly knowledgeable volunteers who have given up hours of their time to make sure that the wiki is up to date, accurate and free of spam.

I hope you don’t think that I’m bigging ORG up too much – I’m just genuinely amazed at how much we have achieved in such a short time and with so few resources. But of course, it doesn’t stop here. There is so much more work to do on e-voting, as the government has failed to take on board the severity of the problems identified not just by ORG, but also the Electoral Commission. We are also working hard on the Creative Business in the Digital Era project, examining new and developing business models that involve giving away creative works for free (and also, sometimes, the rights to that work). And there’s a lot more to come – the list of issues we want to tackle just keeps getting longer.

So far, we’ve been funded by our supporters, who’ve dipped into their own pockets and donated a little of their hard-earned cash each month, and through grants from organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and the London Development Agency. Grants are important – they allow us to focus our efforts on campaigning. But the support from you, the public, is most important of all. Your money doesn’t just provide ORG with a dependable income, it also adds your voice to ours, ensuring that we are taken seriously by the MPs, Lords and policy makers that we seek to influence.

Originally, over one thousand people pledged financial support to ORG, but many did not keep their promise and we’ve never managed to recruit our full Founding 1000. Now, more than ever, is a good time for you to donate to ORG or, if you already are a supporter, to persuade a friend to donate. The Josteph Rowntree Reform Trust is offering us a grant, £10,000 of which is in the form of matched funds, meaning that we won’t get that money if we can’t raise an equal amount ourselves. JRRT will count both one-off donations and the full year’s value of a subscription, whether you pay monthly or annually.

The best way to support ORG is with a monthly donation via standing order. Whilst you can also donate via PayPal, that’s far from ideal, because not only do they charge a fee, but if your credit or debit card expires your subscription is automatically cancelled by PayPal. We have lost a lot of supporters like this, so a standing order really is the best way to go. You can set one up by sending us a standing order form, or using your own online banking (our bank details are on the form).

Danny O’Brien put it well:

So, here’s the most amazing thing. ORG doesn’t do that on a thousand people’s fivers at all. ORG does it on less.

To get our ballpark income, ORG would have had to have converted every single one of the pledge-signers. I think we got around 50%.

So to celebrate two years, I encourage everyone to try and push the membership up to the promised one thousand. No, two thousand.

If you’re an ORG supporter, pressgang two of your friends to join. Find that online pal who is even more fanatical than you in pursuit of digital rights. Tell the blowhards on Digg or Slashdot it’s time to put their pounds where their posts are. Heck, buy one in your mum or niece’s name for Christmas: it’s their Internet too. And check whether your own membership has lapsed (It happens – *blush* mine expired earlier this year, and I missed the memo – I’m back in the black now). Just click here.

Think what ORG can do in the next two years. Think what we can do with 2000 members. Think what we can do with 20,000.

Most of all, think what will happen if we don’t do something.

But giving money is not the only thing you can do. We need to spread the ORG word, so if you have a blog, please write even just a small post about ORG today. If you’re on Twitter, Jaiku, Seesmic, or any other social messaging service, please write or talk about ORG today. If you’re on IM or Skype, change your status to something suitably supportive. If you’re on Facebook, change your status and join our Facebook group. If you’re on Upcoming, there’s a group there too.

There’s so much you can do to spread the world – please be generous with your time and words.

Finally, there are so many people without whom ORG simply wouldn’t be the success it is: our current supporters and our cadre of committed volunteers. I can’t name them all, but they all deserve thanks and a big round of applause.

Support ORG. Help us keep your bits safe.

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Toothless wonder

by Suw on November 15, 2007

The deed has been done. The tooth has been pulled… or rather, pushed. I’m not sure how that works, but there seemed to be a lot more pushing than pulling, and finally the thing gave up without a fight. It wasn’t complicated nor did it take a long time, but was expertly and painlessly done.

I now have 4 hours without rinsing (takes me up to 16:30), then I have to rinse regularly with hot salt water. I have some antibiotics to take, as apparently there was a bit of puss there, which I had guessed there would be as low-level infection has been a theme over the last year or so. And Mum has some industrial strength painkillers, so when the anaesthetic has worn of, (which it’s working on doing now), I will have something to take to dull the ache. I also have some lint pads to use if it bleeds too much, but to be honest it doesn’t seem to be bleeding much at all.

My face is swelling a bit – although it wouldn’t be a proper wisdom tooth extraction if I didn’t end up looking at least a little bit like a hamster – and starting to stiffen up. I’ve had some soup for lunch, but have to be very careful not to accidentally bite my tongue or my cheek. I suspect that I’m going to end up feeling very stiff and achy within the next few hours, but it’s worth it. I’m so glad to get that tooth out. And I’m really hoping that this will clear up my vertigo too, which has been pestering me for the last six weeks or so. If not, I suppose I’ll have to go find a doctor in London to see.

Overall, though, I’m glad to get this done so far in advance of the wedding. No more worrying about whether I’ll get a big infection whilst travelling; no more having to travel with a stash of antibiotics; no more fretting about when it’s going to come out. It’s gone, and I’m glad to be rid of it.

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Gym progress

by Suw on November 14, 2007

It’s strange how much I’ve come to enjoy going to the gym. I never would have expected to be such a convert, but here I am, eight months down the line, still dragging my arse out to the leisure centre first thing in the morning, still using the pushy uppy machine, the squeezey thighy machine, the walkie walkie machine. We get to the gym probably three or four times a week, and it’s finally starting to pay off.

Not that I’ve lost any weight – oh no. I’m still the heaviest I’ve ever been, but at least that weight is more concentrated in muscles and less spread out in flab. I can tell, for example, that I’ve been focusing on my legs because they look a lot less like tree trunks now than they did. Indeed, my thighs no longer scare me every time I look at them (which, if I’m honest, I try not to). My legs still complain like hell when I walk up the stairs at Holloway Road tube station, but they cope better walking up the hill to Highgate.

My metabolism appears to be adjusting too. I’ll confess that I haven’t managed to give up Coke at all, but that seems to be mattering less – my body seems to be processing calories faster. At least, I think that’s what it’s doing, and whilst obvious evidence is thin on the ground, I can attest that I’m not getting wider even though I’ve entirely failed to beat my addiction to lovely yummy tooth-rot-in-a-can.

Overall, I’m quite happy to keep going as often as we can. I frequently grumble about it, of course, because in the back of my head I’m still expecting to hate it, but I’d hate it more if I couldn’t go (although not as much as Kevin). That surprises me, because I’ve never been sporty or outdoorsy, preferring to enjoy the countryside at a sedate pace, usually from the vantage point of a beer garden and with a glass of something alcoholic in my hand. (For some reason, I become deeply attracted to cider when in beer gardens, although not the brands of cider that come out bright orange and are served with ice, as seem to be the rage right now. No drink should be that shade of orange except for Lucozade, and that’s a drink for when you’re ill.)

I suspect the best way to come to terms with this is to just not think about it too deeply. Or, indeed, at all.

Of course, we’re now getting into tricky territory. The dress is under construction, and I neither want to put on weight – or rather, circumference – nor lose any, as the dress is designed and fitted to me as I am now. I don’t think I’m at risk of gaining girth, so long as I keep going to the gym, and if I unexpectedly lose lots of inches I’m sure I can flab up again pretty quickly just by spending a lot more time and money eating chocolate and drinking vodka.

There’s a bit of leeway in the corset, though, because I can adjust that to fit simply by pulling harder on the ribbons that do it up. Well, not me – it’d be pretty tricky to do up your own corset, unless you had some sort of complex winch and pulley system, and even then I think you’d need help. But if I lose an inch here or there it won’t be a disaster, as Kate will just have to reposition her foot in the small of my back and yank harder.

Still, it’s nice to feel that I may, one day, approach a condition that could be considered “fit”. Best not to rush it though.

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Vote for Neil!

by Suw on November 8, 2007

OK, we all know I’m a devoted fan of Neil Gaiman. Devoted, if possibly a bit rubbish at actually doing fan-like things, such as standing in line for signings, making it to any of his recent appearances in London, or buying everything he’s ever released. I hang my head in shame for that and hope that he’ll forgive me.

To make up for such shoddy behaviour, I hereby implore you all to go and vote for Neil in the 2007 Weblog Awards Best Literature Blog category. He’s doing pretty well so far, but Pepys’ Diary is creeping up behind, so he still needs your votes. It’ll take just a second of your time, I promise you, so go vote!

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These two sketches from Man Stroke Woman are just too true to be funny. I’ve complained about wedding inflation before, and these skits hit the nail on the head. Repeatedly. With a big hammer.

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Shock dress news!

by Suw on November 5, 2007

Today was my second dress fitting, and I have to admit that I’m now really excited about it. AnitaJane has done a mock-up of the skirt and the corset, so that we can ensure that it fits properly and do any tweaks necessary before making the real thing out of silk. So today, I tried on the mock corset and skirt, along with my test veil. Even unfinished, in calico, white cotton, and cheap nylon tulle, it looked amazing.

We discussed the beading, I’ve now come to a decision about that – champagne glass pearls with ‘Siam’ red Swarovski crystals. I’ve been agonising over the bead choice for weeks now. The fabric I’ve chosen comes with fake pearls within a metal spiral floret. It looks fine, but possibly a little washed out, specially as the fake pearls are pale and plastic-y. I decided pretty quickly, so replace them with the red Swarovski crystal beads, settling on the Siam shade. But what to go around them?

Pearls were my first choice, but the glass ones I had seemed a bit too big. I found some real, freshwater pearls in two different sizes: 4mm and 3mm. Up close they looked really good, but they aren’t cheap at £5 to £6 per string (of about 170 beads). I also tried clear Swarovski crystals, small metallic beads, glass beads, and tiny plastic pearlescent beads. I beaded a swatch and have been showing it to pretty much everyone, but it everyone had a different favourite! Looking at it today, from a distance (in the mirror), and in the context of the gown it became pretty clear that the fake pearls were by far the best. They caught the light in a way that the real pearls didn’t, and seem more Elizabethan. It’s going to take about 400 Swarovski crystals, and about 2000 glass pearls, but I love beading so I’m looking forward to getting started.

All I have to do now is go and buy the materials. The pattern requires a little bit more silk than I had expected and, of course, I’ve chosen a more expensive silk for the inset panel, but it is going to look stunning.

What was surprising, though, was the decision that AnitaJane and I arrived at about the lace. I’d been wanting to make the lace for the skirt and veil, but in all honesty, it’s taken me a week to make ten pattern repeats, and I’ll need to make about 180 – 200 for both skirt and veil lace. That would mean it would take me about five months to make enough lace, which would finally be ready a couple of months after the wedding. I could feasibly make enough for either the skirt or the veil, but to have one and not the other would look strange. So we have decided to skip the lace.

Emotionally, that’s a strange decision for me, as I had really wanted to make the lace to trim my veil, and it seems a shame not to use it, but I’d much rather the ensemble work than to force lace onto it just because I happen to be able to make it. So now I have a foot of lace that I, currently, have no need for. What I might do is put it away for now, and then when the wedding is over, remove the pearls from the corset and replace them with lace. Or maybe I’ll find something else to trim with it. Seems a shame not to use it now I’ve made it.

I suspect I’ll carry on making lace now, anyway, as a hobby. Kev and I, along with our friend Chris and Syd, went to the Victoria and Albert Museum yesterday. Syd and I went off to take a look at their jewellery exhibit and the renaissance/medieval display, only to find both shut. We did get to take a look at some of the old textiles they have, including some very, very old lace. It was stunning – the thread they used was so fine, it can’t have been wider than a human hair, and the patterns were so intricate. It made my lace look big and chunky and heavy. But my work looks amazing compared to the crap you can buy in the shops, which appears to have been made by machine and is all fuzzy and, at times, almost felt-like.

But this doesn’t let me off the craft project hook. I still have a metre of embroidered silk to bead, and I have to get that done pretty quickly so that Anita Jane can then make up the skirt. The skirt, stole and corset will need further beading after that. Then, of course, there’s the tiara, the corset swatches, the veil, jewellery… In the light of that, perhaps it’s better that I’ve nixed the lace.

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Getting there, bit by bit

by Suw on November 3, 2007

I think I’ve pretty much imported all of the old posts, including the old Blog-City posts that until now had been stuck on my laptop. The formatting’s all gone to hell in a handbasket, but when I have a quiet moment one day I might start trying to fix at least some of the more recent ones. The theme is temporary – it will do until I find one that I prefer. And there are still a few additional tweaks and changes, but overall, it’s come together much faster than I had thought it would. I’ve even got it all set up in Ecto too.

Guess you had better update your RSS feeds now.

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Hello world!

by Suw on November 3, 2007

Time to import old posts… the excitement!

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Slowly, slowly move-y bloggy

November 3, 2007

OK, so it’s time. I have to move away from Blogware at some point, and the pain may as well start now whilst I’m already too busy to blog much. I have disabled anonymous comments on old post, turned off comments on new posts, and set all other comments to “moderate all”, so that I […]

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