Links and work insanity

To add to the debate on whether to get flu shots and which ones to get comes this: Does the seasonal flu vaccine increase the risk of catching swine flu?

On the one hand, it’s preliminary data that hasn’t been rigorously tested yet. Even one of the researchers admits this. OTOH, is it worth the risk given that I don’t plan to get the H1N1 vaccine? Of course, it could all be moot if the Canadian government really does cancel the winter vaccination program in favour of an all-H1N1 program.

In more cheerful news comes this: Anglo-Saxon treasure horde bigger than Sutton Hoo found

I really hope that after it is analysed, this find goes into either the British Museum or a big tour. It will be fascinating to find out what they learn from it.

In other news, the event tomorrow that is supposed to improve understanding, cohesion and communication within the company has so far only succeeded in highlighting the uncooperative, competative nature of the IT department. We are supposed to be creating a poster that describes what our department does (which will be judged for prizes) and providing some kind of treasure hunt or quizz. Then the departments will tour the building, visiting other departments to see their posters and take their quizzes with tokens given out for each department you visit. Then there will be a staff BBQ and prize draw.

Sounds like it should be fun and a good way to meet the people we’re working with, right? It’s pirate themed so we should be dressing up and having fun, blowing off work completely.

Instead the three teams within IT had a meeting last week to decide the ‘joint’ poster and so on. By yesterday lunchtime two of the teams had decided to do their own thing because they wanted to win the prizes and be the best. Even within IT. So now my little app dev team is scrambling to do some stuff that’s bigger than we originally thought it would be (because we’re on our own rather than contributing to a big group) and there is masses of resentment, irritation and growling focused at the other teams.

Yes, we know how to foster the team spirit here! Most of my team is off trying to draw a boat on brown paper (don’t ask) and I’m just trying to stay out of it due to all the aggro and stress flying around. At some stage tonight I need to iron a transfer into a T-shirt. In the mean time, I’m trying to get some work done so that when I have my big status meeting on the Zombie Project on Monday we can at least say some things were acheived beyond getting overly stressed about Pirate Day.

To add to the confusion, people are being encouraged to bring their kids (it’s an in-service day for the schools tomorrow) yet we’re supposed to get back to our desks and work after the BBQ tomorrow. Oh, yes, there is no confusion and potential for further melodrama there!

The motives behind this were good and I’m sure some departments are having great fun with it. The move to the new building has provided more space but because we’re no longer living in each other’s pockets we don’t know people outside our little areas. The aim was to reverse that trend. Sadly, my team is swamped with work and the IT department appears to be unable to work out how to work as an actual department. Part of the problem is probably the personality types that are attracted to IT work in the first place, but it appears that a bigger issue is that the team managers are the ones instigating all of this. And my team manager (and team) didn’t know about any of the splits and plans until yesterday afternoon. Gah. This is why I hate work social things.

I am so glad that I have my knitting group tonight. I’d planned to be good and eat at home, but I’ve decided that indulging in lasagna at the pub sounds like much more fun (I need comfort food!). The weekend cannot come soon enough.

Perhaps this is the weekend when I need to experiment with baked shrimp toast. Or just make a batch of cheesy herb bread and eat the lot.

Tunic progress report (and other non-knitting things)

OK, the shoulders of the tunic have been shaped and bound off. I’ve joined one shoulder and knitted on the garter neck border. This involved picking up 112 stitches. I *hate* picking up stitches. It’s the only thing I hate more than knitting button holes.

Wanna know what I get to do now? Down each side of the front and back of the tunic, I have to pick up 188 stitches to knit garter stich edging. That’s 188 stitches four times. So in total, for this tunic, I’m going to have picked up 864 stitches. I may well hate picking up stitches, but I’m going to be good at it by the end!

To give you an idea of how many stitches that is, each border needs to be squashed to fit onto my 32″ circular needles. Yowch.

Thing is that I can’t just not to do. The tunic design has vents at the bottom that will look quite terrible without those nice garter borders to neaten up the edging so I’m going to be doing it regardless. My plan right now is to get that all done and the tunic seamed before I leave for Denver. I had been cheerfully planning to take it before remembering that I still need to knit the belt for it and there’s no way the belt will be done in time. Not with all that stitch picking up to do. So it’s not going with me to Denver. Hopefully it will get debuted soon after, though.

Last night I was putting the yarn away for the blueberry hat and happened across the yarn for my next project. I’d forgotten just how pretty the shade of purple that I got looks – now I can’t wait to start that! The good thing is that the only stitch picking up will be around the neck. So perhaps 100-200 stitches, rather than 800+. Although it does have a lace pattern…

In other news, I’m starting to see why Roger Mortimer betrayed the king. He stuck with Edward II even through the worst of the Gaveston affair, but the Despencers are interferring with the government of the realm and removing capable men to replace them with their own cronies. Mortimer had just spent a couple of years wresting Ireland back from the Scots, law and order were being re-established and everyone in Ireland agreed that he was an excellent governer as well as military commander. Removing Mortimer from that position was an utterly stupid move and it was all done because the Despencers were out for vengence against his family. Yes, I can see why he sided with the 90% of barons who revolted against Edward II at that point.

The frustrating thing with the book I’m reading is that, although he’s explaining a lot of things really well, he got very vague about the Despencers. I know from other reading that there is the Elder and the Younger – father and son. The Hugh the Younger is Edward’s favourite (whatever you want to read into that) and Hugh the Elder is Hugh’s father. I honestly cannot remember which of the two it was that married one of the Gloucester heiresses and attempted to buy himself into the Earlship. Problem is that the book doesn’t make this clear. For a large part of the last chapter it was “Hugh Despencer” this or that, without making clear that there were two of them. Then there is occasional reference to it being the younger that did something while his father did something else and then we’re back to one Hugh. For anyone with no knowledge of time (although why anyone with no prior knowledge would be reading a biography of Roger Mortimer is beyond me, I admit) or only hazy recollections, this is incredibly confusing.

And it’s frustrating because in all other areas, the author explains the people and policies so well. Gah!

Anyway, I’m getting a better picture for how loyal Roger Mortimer eventually came to help overthrow the king. As I suspected, it’s partially thwarted ambition but largely because Edward II was the worst king in the history of English monarchs. That really says something about him when he has King John for comparison.

Tonight my knit group is going for sushi. I am already very excited and really want my make, nigiri and tempura yummies *drool*

Knitting and other news

I’ve finished my lace shawl! Hooray! Bound off last night using a nice, stretchy K2tog bind off that was new to me but worked a treat for this project 🙂 I need to block it, so that’s a nice evening project later this week, but it’s done with more than a week to spare and no mad knitting sessions required.

For the interested, I’ll take before, during and after shots of the blocking process.

In other news, I’m becoming increasingly bemused by the expences row. Jaquie Smith (sp?) is now stepping down? And the Chancellor is ruined, according to one news source? Seriously?

Um. I am boggling.

Canadian politics is largely boring, but at least we don’t have the rest of the world boggling about arguments over comparitively small amounts of fudging the books compared to other countries where politicians make off with millions. Hey, ho.

I am currently reading a biography of Roger Mortimer. Leaving aside the fact that Alison Weir provides the front-cover blurb and is coincidentally mentioned on page three (historians incestuous? Never!) it’s very interesting. I suspect that there is a certain amount of bias going on, but so far he’s not actually the monster that history paints him. He apparently loves his wife (well, they had 12 surviving children and she travelled with him more than many medieval wives), he’s actually a good military commander and so far he’s stayed sensibly out of most of the politics and squabbling surrounding Edward II.

I’m interested to see how all of this changed later because so far he’s coming across as one of the more decent, sensible people in a terrible, chaotic time. And, um, Edward II still comes across as a total louse and possibly the worst king England has ever had. I’m not sure that anyone can redeem him.