Knife Shoppe

Hi ya’all. I haven’t been very active here lately because I had some work to do. Including that after months and months of heavy procrastination, I have finally purchased web hosting and a domain and started a small webpage for my knives.

Constructive criticism is welcome.

The webshop interface does not allow me to display prices in other currencies than Czech Crowns (yet), but I do hope that anyone can convert it to USD or € or whatever should they need to. I will gladly sell anywhere in the world as long as it is financially feasible for both me and the customer, but selling outside of the Czech Republic must be done through individual arrangements and cannot be done simply via the webshop interface (not yet). The reasons are simple – additional currencies and shipping outside CZ are both available for an extra charge and I am not ready to dish out more money than is strictly necessary. Not yet, anyway.

I am thinking about adding a knife-making blog there, but I am somewhat discouraged by the amount of work that it would entail.

I will leave this post pinned to the top of the page for some time.

Teacher’s Corner: I Encountered a Karen in the Wild

Let’s gather around for a little story. Take a seat and have a cushion ready to bang your head against.

On Wednesday, one of my students approached me. He found a bank card on his way and wanted to hand it over (cultural info: in Germany everybody has a bank card, there are even special accounts for teens). I thanked and praised him. After determining that the card didn’t belong to any of our students, I called the bank and informed them. They were grateful for the information and said they would tell the owner.

Some time later I got a message from our secretary to please get in touch with this number, which I did. I’m friendly, right? And if that had been you, you would have been delighted that your card had been found, bought some chocolates for the kids and told a story about a good kid. But alas, I called the number and I met Karen.

Karen is the card owner’s mum. The young man himself works until 5 so he can’t do this himself. She started the conversation with insinuations. How did that card get found? How did it get to us, what were we doing with it anyway?

I told her that I don’t know and we started to talk about how she could get it back. I told her where we are, when the staff room is occupied for sure (our office is not where I usually work) and what to do in case it is not.

At this point she started bickering: Couldn’t I send the card to the bank? Now, I’ll fully admit that at this point I wasn’t inclined to go out of my way to help her anymore and told her that I could not book the posting in the school system.

Well, how about taking it to the police? I disabused her of the idea that I was going to drive around town on my own time and dime. Would you believe that she started going after my student again? Why didn’t he go to the police?

This was where I went from annoyed to slightly angry and told her that the kid had done everything right, that he deserved praise for being honest and caring and repeated when she could pick up the fucking card.

Thursday passed without any sign of her.

Today I got a message from our secretary to please call that and that guy from the police. Now, while rare, it’s not unusual. Our students don’t come from the best part of town, some have violent inclinations and so do their families, so we occasionally need to make witnesses statements.

But no, the guy told me that he’d been contacted by Karen, complaining that I had refused to give her the card without written permission from her son. Yes, that’s how I looked. I told him that I had no clue what the woman was talking about, that I had never asked for written permission and that she could come and pick it up right now.

The police guy said he wasn’t sure what her issue was either, but that she wouldn’t be able to get the written permission that quickly, since her son was at work. I repeated that I had never said anything about written permission, to which he replied “but I did”.

And this is how the Karen who wanted to sicc the police on a poor teacher and bully her into delivering the lost card got more trouble than she needed.

Project Phoenix – Part 5 – The Tail Finished

Here you can see most of the tail with most feathers finished.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The tail is completely finished now. Each feather, whether big or small, took me over two hours to make, so with all the prep work, etc. about twenty hours for the whole tail. The reason why small feathers took nearly as much time as the big ones is that what I wrote previously – the narrow long straight-ish part starts with eight bobbins but the ends are 16 bobbins of different colors so it is not exactly easy to keep track of them.

I started doing the wings too, but I had to stop the works for a few days again because I am depressed as hell and it is difficult enough to get out of bed and heat the house, let alone do something on top of that. I started the wings in red, did not like it, and had to undo it. So here is a picture of undoing the lace. It is the same as doing it, except going in the opposite direction.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I did not like the red color directly near the red body and I also did not like the weave being so tight. I have used a very tight weave on the head and neck, but I won’t be using it on the wings because I think the wings will look better with the thread pattern being more obvious. If I won’t like the result, I will have to undo it again.

I Started a Vicious Cycle by Accident (and will stop asap)

It’s one of those jokes that are funny because they’re true that many men are just as surprised about the gifts on Christmas as the kids. “Gifts” are so firmly in the “female” category that almost every girlfriend to a boyfriend for more than two weeks gets drafted into “shopping for gifts”. While my love is very much not a stereotypical cis het guy in many aspects, this is sadly none of them, and while I will fully admit that I’m whining from a position of privilege here, it still sucks.

We’re financially comfortable, so we don’t need to disguise necessary but expensive purchases like a new phone or new tires as “birthday gifts”. We’re also not in the habit of making expensive surprise gifts, as we’re both sensible people who think that buying something expensive for somebody without that person telling you what they actually like is nonsense. But still, occasionally I’d like to get a gift that shows the person thought about me and cares. Neither do I want to send him a link to a specific product and know exactly what I’ll get, where it was bought and how much it cost, nor do I want any more shower gel or scented candles. And it’s not like I don’t have hobbies.

To get to the heart of the story, I decided to give my struggling spouse some hints.

Me: Love, it’s your wife’s birthday soon, have you noticed how much she’s into Japanese cooking lately?

Him, laughing: Very subtle, very subtle.

Him, 5 minutes later: Do you know any Japanese restaurants where I could take you for your birthday?

Me, sighing: We already agreed on going to an Indian restaurant, do you remember? Also, I was more thinking about cooking boxes, tableware, tools. Obviously I was too subtle.

Him: Where do I get such things?

Me, slightly annoyed: You have a working internet connection and a credit card, figure it out!

About 30 minutes later, him, now definitely venturing into learned helplessness poor hapless husband territory: I really don’t know what to do!

Me, exasperated, pointing at kid #2 who was giggling next to him: ask your daughter, she can show you!


See what I did there? Yep, I passed the “taking care of gifts” bucket down the line to another female family member, teaching her that men are just too incompetent to do it themselves and women have to do that job, and I’m sorry. I swear I’ll never do it again. I’ll rather send him links for the rest of our days than teach my daughters to simply accept that bullshit.

Jewelry: Tales of the Raksura

The author Martha Wells has risen to fame during the last years for her Murderbot novels, but actually I discovered her long before when stumbling upon the Books of the Raksura, which have the richest worldbuilding I ever saw. It never feels like The Other Mother’s house in Coraline, just enough for a superficial layer, but you always get the impression that you could go deeper and deeper and find more.

For those of you who have not read the books (mild spoilers ahead), the Raksura are dragonish shapeshifters that live in courts, ruled by the reigning Queen, who has one or more male consorts. The books revolve around Moon, a very unusual consort and the adventures of him and his court. The courts are always named after a queen and a consort, often the founding couple of a court.

I’ve always admired fan art, but I’m useless with a pen, so I decided to put my other talents to use and make some earrings. Malicious rumours claim that I have a pair for every day of the year, but those are absolutely not true. I counted them and I will have to repeat them after June 20th. Though, seriously, if any of you fancies a pair, just let me know. Unless it’s my favourite pair, I’m happy to send it to you, since polymer clay always yields several pairs for one design. Anyway, let’s get started.

First, Indigo Cloud, the primary court in the novels

Blue and white marbled earrings

©Giliell, all rights reserved

blue and white marbled earrings

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I did a classic swirl here to get the idea of clouds in a blue summer sky. Look at that blue… [Read more…]

Crypto, Scams & Ableism

Since the Scam Banking Fraud fiasco in the crypto world, I have looked a bit more into cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Not much, just to satisfy some curiosity. That curiosity brought me to the YouTube channel Coffezilla (which I recommend). And today I would like to mention a bit unsavory and unfortunate thing that crops up in just about every discussion about cryptocurrencies and associated scams – comments along the lines of “People this stupid deserve to be scammed”. Sentiments akin to this are very prevalent and I must say, I disagree with them now although I do have an inner tendency towards such thinking too and I have to reason myself out of it in some specific cases and I would possibly say these things too about twenty-five years ago.

Why is that? I mean, why is this sentiment so prevalent? I do not know of course, but I can speculate.

I think it is in part because a lot of people in the west are conditioned to believe in the Just World Fallacy. In most fiction, the villains get their just desserts and the good guys more often than not win. We are taught that hard and honest work is rewarded and that crime does not pay. This cultural bias is everywhere and unavoidable. And it is inherently ableist because no matter how difficult it is to actually meaningfully measure intelligence, it does exist, it does wary among people and some people are innately, with no fault of their own, less capable and thus more susceptible to being hoodwinked. There is a reason why so many e-mail scams have appallingly bad grammar and spelling and why so many phone scams are targeting elderly people.

It is not all though. Another part of this is in my opinion that a lot of people enjoy the warmth of a slightly smug feeling of being superior to someone in some way. “Haha, how those poor suckers could fall for THAT.” This is understandable to some degree in insecure people who are still finding themselves but not appropriate for well-adjusted adults. As for myself, today I have plenty of personal experiences to put me down from my pedestal whenever I feel like climbing one – the most recently my tribulations of obstinately plugging the wrong cable into the wrong hole for two days and wondering why things do not work. I know I am not completely stupid and still, my brain sometimes does things that a duckling would deem daft. Not to mention the GIGO principle, which can lead even the best of the best minds astray.

And even when one knows that the world is not just and that smart people can do daft things for a variety of reasons, I guess many people also know at least someone who is definitively willfully stupid and simply cannot be reasoned with because they refuse reason on principle. The most egregious examples of these people are all those creationists, flat-earthers and Q-anoninsts out there. But is it OK to say that someone deserved to be scammed because they ignored warnings and information given to them?

I still don’t think so. If they really were given credible warnings and ignored them for example, then they are to be blamed at least in part for their misfortune in such a case, but they do not deserve it. Saying that someone deserves to be scammed implies that scamming is an act of justice.

It is not. It is an act of malice, a betrayal of trust, and nothing is gained by it. The victim may become less naive and trusting as a result, but that is only a good thing in a society where there are scammers. And whilst being naive and trusting is unwise in our world, it is not malicious or harmful, and punishing it thus makes no sense. A scammer deserves to be judged and locked up. A scammee deserves help.

I’ve Been Cursed, Surely

Last year my projector stopped working. That was unpleasant, but I can live without it, I haven’t really watched a movie for a while. Then the trouble with the processor. Yesterday my gaming headphones stopped working too, for reasons unknown – I haven’t been using them that much.

And to top it all off, I still cannot get the sound to work on my PC. First, the onboard sound card just refused to work and since that problem has been noted by multiple people on the Internet, I have decided to stop trying to solve it and buy a new sound card.

At first, the system did not recognize the new card at all. Then for reasons unknown to me, it recognized it and I could install it, but it does not work properly. I only have stereo sound. When I set 5.1 sound, only the front left and right speakers work, all the other ones remain silent. I am still reluctant to try a blank windows installation because I am not convinced it would help with this.

I am frustrated and tired and depressed.

Rough Start of a New Year

I was backing up my data on Sunday when my PC suddenly shut down. Then again. And again.

I identified the problem – the CPU was overheating because I was creating ZIP files which taxed it more than my usual work. No biggie, I told to myself, I will vacuum the dust from the case and apply new heat conducting paste between the CPU and cooler, that should solve it.

Well, it did not go as expected. When trying to remove the cooler from the CPU, it pulled the CPU from the motherboard. The conducting paste was so old and dried-up that the two components were essentially glued together. And when trying to separate them, I have broken off one pin from the CPU, destroying it. That has never happened to me, but everything is for the first time sometime, I guess.

That was a very expensive mistake to make. The CPU was 11 years old which means buying a new replacement was not an option. I might get my hands on a second-hand one if I searched enough, but there would be no guarantee of functionality. Thus I had to buy a new motherboard and RAM as well. I ordered the new components yesterday morning and I spent the afternoon using my notebook to extract sensitive data from my system HDD just in case I need to completely reinstall my system.

Today the components arrived, I have re-build the PC and after some false starts and learning some new stuff (last time I have build a PC was three years ago), I was able to successfully boot into my original system. I have lost no data and HW-vise the only remaining problem is to get the audio work. I wanted to make bobbin lace and instead of that this.

Well, it could be worse.

Happy New Year, have some Ma’amoul

First of all, let me wish all of you a happy new year. We’re all smart enough to know that things won’t magically get better, so I’m wishing us the strength to hold on and fight the good fight, since there’s no alternative anyway.

Last year I promised a post about cookies, so here we are, with a bit of a story. At the start of the school year, we did a project for grades 5-7 in order to welcome the new kids. The motto was “welcoming new things” with a focus on our diverse student body. I offered a cooking/baking workshop where we made things as “catering” for the party at the end of the project. It was positively exhausting. Come Friday afternoon I was completely done, but for the first time in ages in a good way. Obviously, having only one stove/oven and very limited funds (i.e. what I was willing to spend), our selection was easy stuff like Russian pancakes and American cookies, so some of the kids decided to spend the weekend baking treats from their home countries. I was particularly in love with the Ma’amoul and asked the kid for the recipe. Well, her mum didn’t just write me the recipe, she also gifted me one of her forms, which absolutely tore me up.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I expressed my thanks by making her a batch of traditional cinnamon wafers (without the rum) and the kid an I set to making ma’amoul. Though I didn’t ace the dough (it went too puffy, I think I didn’t get the instructions right), they were absolutely delicious and lasted maybe a week. Enjoy!

Some ma'amoul made with the mould. The pattern is not clearly visible.

Project Phoenix – Part 4 – The Tail

Originally, I intended to make the wings first but all those bobbins prepared for the tail feathers would be in the way so I am making the tail feathers first. Each feather starts with 8 bobbins – 4 golden for the edges, 2 red for the central line, and 2 very light yellow for the weave.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Towards the end broad section of the feather I ad 2 red, 2 yellow, and 4 orange bobbins. I had to use different knotting techniques for that part to get the pattern right.

I was a bit worried that I won’t know how to make the lace since it is two years since the last time I did it. My mother told me that it will come to me instantly and indeed it did and I seem to be a bit better at it than I was last time although that is not saying much. But I am using more advanced techniques for these feathers than I have used so far.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I finished two tail feathers today and they took me about 6 hours. I had to take a long pause after every two hours of work because my shoulders hurt something awful and my trapezoid muscle was stiff and on the verge of cramping. At this rate, it should take me approx three more days to finish the whole tail. I do hope that I have enough of the various colors, it is quite difficult to gauge upfront.

Project Phoenix – Part 3 – Beginning the Work

I printed the outline on two A4 sheets, glued it onto a thicker paper and pinned it onto the lace pillow (I think that’s how its called in Eenglush).

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I started with the head and immediately made a mistake despite checking the sketch several times before starting. The head was supposed to be orange, not red. But it is red now, I am not starting all over – I only noticed the mistake today when the neck and body are finished too.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The body was fairly difficult to make. This is the first time that I have incorporated a golden thread – on the outlines of each segment. I think the golden sparkle should work perfectly with a firebird. However the golden thread is a bit fiddly – it is rougher than normal thread and more brittle, thus it is prone to breaking and difficult to pull through a hole with a crochet hook when attaching new bobbins to existing structures.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I will show you the progress next time too. I got a small commission to sharpen about twenty knives so I have spent two days in the Worskhop sharpening and today I have been mostly resting and thinking about how to make the tail feathers. I have made the torso with eight pairs of red-thread bobbins. That way when I transitioned over to the triangular-ish tail segment, I put aside two bobbins whenever I reached the base of a tail feather and I only added one more red pair at the end (there are 9 tail feathers). I want to make the tail feathers from several colors with red lines running through the center. There are several ways to do this and I am mulling over which one to use.

This Year’s Gingerbreads

I almost forgot to publish my mother’s creations for this Christmas season.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Project Phoenix – Part 2 – Outline

Slowly (veeery slooowly) I have managed to draw the outlines in Photoshop, clean them up a bit, and arrive at something that I think is doable as a bobbin lace. I would probably mark even the positions for at least some pins in a symmetrical design, but since this design is not symmetrical anywhere, I won’t bother. My mother actually never marks the pin positions.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Now I will print it on two A4 sheets, and glue it onto thicker paper. However, I still need to do some work in Photoshop – to sketch some color schemes. For that I will also need to look into my thread drawer so I do not run out of some important color halfway through the work.