Friday, 27 January 2012

Things aren't what they seem...

Richard Wiseman (psychologist, magician, sceptic and general amazing funny man) made my day the other day. That's the second time he's managed that. The first time was when he came to my work and did one of our lunchtime seminars. Our seminars are usually science/research based - always very interesting but often a bit heavy on the overcrowded powerpoint slides of methodology, data and statistics. Richard Wiseman walked in and stunned the room with magic tricks. I have never seen a room of professionals light up quite like that before. It was He continued to captivate us with magic, psychology, ghosts and luck for the rest of the seminar and almost a year on his name is still whispered in the corridors in awed wonderment. We're an easy bunch to impress.

Anyway. I then started following him on twitter. (In fact, I joined twitter just to follow him, but this isn't the post for me to go into my stalking habits in detail.) The other day he tweeted "Like Magic? (yes) Like Knitting (you BET ya!)" and added a link to Illusion Knitting.

Oh. Em. Gee.


And wow again.

Being who I am, I went through my usual set of motions. I watched the videos. I wondered in amazement. I called my long suffering husband over and made him watch them while I wondered in amazement. And then I decided: "I'm doing to do that".

After some frantic googling, I found a free pattern and dived right in. Much to my long suffering husband's surprise (?) it took about 5 minutes of needle clicking before I was swearing. The first (ok, and second) attempt was unravelled in a blaze of expletives and I crossed-my-heart-and-hoped-to-die that it was the pattern's fault and not mine.

Never one to be defeated - well not for more than half and hour anyway - I soon found another pattern and got clicking.

OK, so it's not quite the Mona Lisa, but it's not bad for a first attempt:



My only regret is that I didn't try something more ambitious. Better rectify that.

And to give credit where credit's due:

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Welsh Lesson

We have a Welsh Springer Spaniel called Llewellyn, or 'Welly' for short. We collected him from a little village near Carmarthen in South Wales when he was an 8 week old fat tummy on stumpy legs. As a true Welshman, he's named after a long line of Welsh Princes, great rulers and war heroes, though I doubt many people got away with calling any of them Welly. As with all great nobility and gentry, there's something a little, erm, 'special' about him; in-breeding in the Kennel Club is probably as common place as it is amongst those of blue blood. Some people might say he's vacant, though, as adoring 'parents' we'd rather describe him as 'thoughtful' or 'pensive'- well, he is a Celt...

As anticipated, we had a few problems with puppy training - though we came to the obvious conclusion that he only understands Welsh and we only speak English:

Me: "sit"
Welly: puzzled head tilt
Me: "Welly, sit"
Welly: puzzled head tilt in the other direction, followed by a slightly confused look.
Me: "Welly...sit"
Welly: yawns. Plonks bottom onto floor.
Me: "Good boy! Have a biscuit."
Welly: puzzled look - but hey, here comes a biscuit, so his tail starts wagging.
And it's tricky to sit on a waggy tail, so he has to stand up again.
Repeat cycle.

We started a Welsh course a couple of weeks ago - only partly so we could communicate with the dog better, honest - and it now all makes sense.

The word 'sit', in Welsh, means 'how'. So, if we translate:

Me: "how"
Welly: puzzled head tilt = How what?
Me: "Welly, how"
Welly: puzzled head tilt in the other direction, followed by a slightly confused look. = No, don't get what crazy lady?!
Me: ""
Welly: yawns. Plonks bottom onto floor = ooh, this makes me tired! Better sit down and have a think about what you mean.
Me: "Good boy! Have a biscuit."
Welly: oooh! A biscuit, yay! Wagwagwag

We've tried this now:

Me: "Welly, eistedd"
Welly: sits

Biscuits all round.