A while ago at E3, the trailer for the often-postponed, long-awaited new Zelda game was released. It’s called Breath of the Wild and it looks beautiful.

Listen to that music. It sounds like Ghibli, so beautiful. It really sounds like Joe Hisaishi’s “One Summer’s Day“, from Spirited Away. My favorite film.

My Twitter feed was very excited about pretty much everything about this game. And it does look gorgeous, and I love expansive worlds to explore – my favorite game is Wind Waker, and my favorite part of Wind Waker is that part everyone hates, where you have to go all around the ocean doing random puzzles to find things. I loved being allowed to explore, to fill up my map. I loved the sense of discovery each time I stumbled across a new island, the flutter I got when it’s flat silhouette on the horizon turned into a real bit of land that I could climb over and do things on.

So I should be excited. I want to be excited.

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A cuddly version of Renamon’s baby form, from Digimon Tamers.

One of the first things I did when I got home was plan a plush to make. I wanted it to be a warming plush that had a pocket for a hot water bottle, so that meant it had to be something vaguely oval-shaped. Recently, I  (re-)watched all of Digimon Tamers, and Renamon (one of the Digimon main characters, for those not in the know…) is a cut above the others. Sadly, her anthropomorphic figure doesn’t really work for a hot water bottle plush, so I went with her pre-digivolution, Viximon. (Who only appears, unnamed, in the final episode. So I get hipster points too.)

I’m too lazy to get out my sewing machine and make sure it works, and I also like sewing while watching TV (or video recordings of X-wing miniatures games…) so I put her together all by hand. I think it makes me feel a little more affectionate towards her, too.

This is also the first plush I’ve sewn out of minky fabric, and I was very pleased at the results. It’s forgiving for messy hand-stitches, although I had to take care when cutting out my pattern pieces so that the fur was all running in the same direction (so it’s pleasing to stroke her)! Her tail is made of some leftover faux fur from a plush Jumpluff (fluffy plant-pokemon, for those still not in the know…) I made a while back, and the inside of her pouch is made of the softest cuddly fabric I have ever felt. If you put a warm hot water bottle in it and then put your hands inside to warm them up… it’s probably what it feels like if you’re a god and you put your hands inside the pockets of your divine hoodie.

She’s a bit big… but maybe travel-friendly? You could use her as a travel pillow, and you could put a book or something in her pouch. Maybe. I don’t know. I think she’s very multi-purpose. Cuddles. Warmth. Storage.

The pattern was all made by hand as well. I think I’ve come a long way – she’s the third plush I’ve designed a pattern for, and I think I’m getting the hang of it. If anyone (basically: one person) is interested in the pattern… it’s not a formal affair, but I can make a post about the theory behind it.

Here she is, occasionally looking out at an autumnal lake, thinking of how warm she’ll make people.

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My desk.

My desk, in my room in Maine, on the morning of October 15th, 2015.

It’s been more than three weeks since I came back to the US.

It’s the first time in four years that I’m back in the country (and the house) I grew up in, with no plan to leave. (I mean, no plan to leave the country). I’ve been at university in England for those four years, and even though being back in Maine is comforting in a familiar way, it’s strange too. I’ve never really lived as an independent person in the US in the same way I did in the UK; I grew up here, but I’ve never been a real person here.

So: it’s strange. I miss my friends in the UK. I miss the places I’d go, the routines I’d have. A few days ago I showed my best friend (who I miss) in London (which I miss) some fabric I was using. He asked where I got it (a cute fabric store in Oxford, which I miss).

But the first morning I woke up in my room the light over my desk was pretty and made me feel a little glad in my heart, and there was a bright red tree in the yard that made me feel like everything was going to be okay. For the past four years I’d also been in the UK in October (starting the academic year), so I forgot how pretty Maine is when all the leaves are changing color. So it’s okay. I’m settling in, trying to find something to do with myself, thinking about moving somewhere more exciting than Maine, occupying myself with making plush animals and clothes-hangers, watching the world championships for Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing Miniatures Game, doodling ships, and doing all manner of other Star Wars things (I’m very excited about the new film).

I have a lot of thoughts and have been up to a lot of random things. Also I’d like to write more. Also I’d like to actually do something with the huge number of photos I take. So it seemed like a good idea to try to write a weekly blog post about some little thing or other! I am going to try to do that. Maybe every weekend. Now you know, internet. Hold me to it.

I visited my friend Margaret in Boston recently! (I am home in Maine for part of the summer, so Boston’s not too far.) We got up to a number of things around the city, one of which was thrift shopping: one of our favorite shared pastimes. We’re both very plodding and slow when shopping. This means that for a lot of people I am kind of a chore to go shopping with, but not Margaret! She may be the only person on earth who is even slower than I am.

SATURDAY

On Saturday we started the day in Cambridge. First place we headed was Oona’s, near Harvard Square, which is a small and classy used clothes store. Small and classy means a bit pricier than you might hope (not too pricy, though; ex. I was in the market for a new belt, and they had a bunch of nice ones for around $20. I did pass them up, but they weren’t unreasonable), but everything is high-quality and fun to look through. And because it’s small, it’s not overwhelming to have a look at everything.

I thought about getting a denim shorts-and-short-sleeves jumpsuit ($33 for store price-reference), but thought it was probably a little too crazy and I might not wear it. I did get a heavy silk shirt with poofy sleeves and tiny wristcuffs, which makes one look pretty princely.

Saturday's finds

(The shirt was $29.) The bag is from the Mass. Ave Boomerangs store, which was our second stop. Boomerangs also has some excellent quality stuff (though you might have to sift through a bit more… not too much though, it’s certainly not overwhelmingly large), though it’s not so curated. Some good vintage stuff, however, and mostly exceptionally cheap. (The bag there was $3. The vintage stuff is more expensive, but still usually in the <$10 range and It’d be rare indeed to see anything more than $20.) They have books and furniture, too! I saw Anathem and was tempted, but didn’t like the idea of carrying it around with me for the rest of the day…

Last clothes-stop of the day was The Garment District near the Kendell T stop. This store IS overwhelming. I didn’t get anything (which is surprising because they had a whole big rail of waistcoats.) The quality of stuff is good (and prices cheap-ish; $8-$20 or thereabouts), but especially in the contemporary section, there’s just so much of it! What I did love about this store was the dedicated (and also pretty huge) room dedicated to vintage stuff; there was lots I liked, but sadly nothing that fit me… but certainly worth a look, if vintage is your thing. Or you want to inexpensively expand your waistcoat collection.

SUNDAY

Margaret lives in Brookline, so we walked next to Jamaica Pond (which was pretty in the rain) over to a few stores in Jamaica Plain. Our first store was another (slightly bigger) Boomerangs. I hadn’t gotten a belt yet, so I looked around and found this one:

Belt

Which was a mere $3! After finding that, I didn’t bother looking around the contemporary clothes much and just went for vintage:

Sunday finds #1

That pink shirt was just a dollar! The green vest and red shirt together were $11. Excellent. The vest reminded me of my old biology teacher, Dr. E-G, who was a champion (clearly), and the red shirt will be a comfy everyday one.

We spent ages in here, because the lines for the fitting rooms were a little long, and Margaret had two goes in the fitting rooms… each time with LOADS of clothes (much to the chagrin of the other people in the store). She got quite a haul, also delightfully cheaply! The most ludicrous acquisition of mine were these shorts on the left:

Sunday finds #2

High-waisted, suede (they’re really heavy!), with that silver-zipped front panel and navy leather piping, they looked like something a post-apocalypse anime character would wear. Could not pass them up. The two items on the right were from our next stop: 40 South Street! A quite little place; I’d put this one in the “small and classy” category as well. (Although where Oona’s was more polished, this place felt more hip.) More expensive (the quilted jacket was $24 and the suede waistcoat was $35; casual dresses were mostly in the 20-dollar range) but TONS of interesting stuff, all very high quality and vintage-y (they have some fun gloves), very do-able to look around everything, and the owner’s super friendly. Highly reccommended.

Shorts #1Shorts #2CoatPink shirtPrince shirt - sleevePrince shirt - collar

I have recently started reading Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (his later philosophical thoughts, unpublished at the time of his death in 1951), and the preface reminds me of Mr. Norrell (from Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell), who says to his (former) pupil Jonathan Strange (chapter 39, “The two magicians”):

Be guided by me. Promise me that you will publish nothing, speak nothing, do nothing until you are quite decided on these matters. Believe me when I tell you that ten, twenty, even fifty years of silence is worth the satisfaction of knowing at the end that you have said what you ought – no more, no less.

Compare the preface to the Philosophical Investigations:

Up to a short time ago I had really given up the idea of publishing my work in my lifetime…I make [these writings based on 16 years of philosophical work] public with doubtful feelings…I should have liked to produce a good book. This has not come about, but the time is past in which I could improve it.

They are both so intent on perfection and clarity in their thought; so much so that it stopped them from publishing their (highly informed) thoughts at all. By the by, I seem to remember reading somewhere that Wittgenstein was largely unimpressed by the work of other philosophers, contemporary and throughout history, and the more he read of them, the more he was unimpressed, even by the best of them. (At least this was my impression.) Compare again, Gilbert Norrell in chapter 1:

“You expect a great deal of Belasis, and once upon a time I was entirely of your mind…But ultimately he is disappointing. He is mystical where he ought to be intelligible – and intelligible where he ought to be obscure. For myself I no longer have any very great opinion of Belasis.”

It seemed that it was not only live magicians Mr Norrell despised. He had taken the measure of all the dead ones too and found them wanting.

Or in chapter 24:

It seems to me that even the greatest of Aureate magicians miscalculated the extent to which fairies are necessary to human magic. Look at Pale! He considered his fairy-servants so essential to the pursuit of his art that he wrote that his greatest treasures were the three or four fairy-spirits living in his house! Yet my own example makes it plain that almost all respectable sorts of magic are perfectly achievable without assistance from any one!

Despite his arrogance and foibles, Norrell is my favorite character in the novel… and so I am immediately partial to Wittgenstein, too. (I like the almost poetic form of his writing as well.)

I also can’t wait to see what they do with the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell miniseries this year!

More title changes than content in this blog so far… unfortunately I think that is my traditional style.

Just that I am very likely to use this space to post my thoughts (both attempts at insight and shallow quips) about fashion, as well, as that has been much on my mind lately. (I have been lurking about a great number of lolita blogs.) So I’ve changed the title to reflect that!

(Obviously, I am not attempting to cater to an audience here. Though if there’s anyone about who enjoys philosophy of physics, lolita fashion, and education research, I look forward to making your acquaintance!)

The title of this blog comes from Paul Feyerabend, in a 1969 letter to the head of his philosophy department, Wallace Matson. The whole letter is brilliant, but here is the relevant paragraph (he has just been railing against the “withdrawal of philosophy into a professional shell”:

This means, of course, that a philosophy department must occasionally be prepared to accept people who to all intents and purposes are worthless as “professional philosophers” and who cannot be expected to make a single contribution to “contemporary philosophy.” It must occasionally be prepared to accept people who sneer at the professional standards of reading, lecturing, publishing, or even better, it must be prepared to accept people who are not at all aware of such standards. Should we now pick up every bum from the street who has something to say? Well, I for one would not object. I do not see much difference between the nonsense that such a person is liable to produce and the professional nonsense that comes out of Oxford. Most likely, his nonsense would be more pleasant to listen to than the constipated academic product.

I (a mere undergraduate student of physics and philosophy) have been thinking a lot in recent months about the relevance and state of philosophy. I love it, but it is sometimes frustrating, and increasingly I can see where the anti-philosopher scientists (and others who would call philosophy professional nonsense) are coming from. My thoughts about philosophy, physics, random issues, and life in general, will be (probably erratically) here.

(I am also an undergraduate at Oxford – so I feel the friendly complaining about my own university in the title is pretty okay..!)

EDIT (16/12/13): This post was made when the title of this blog was “Professional Nonsense (that comes out of Oxford)”. I have since changed it to reflect the more scattered nature of posts I intend to make here.