... and I can still count on one hand the number of times I've felt the need for a coat this year. So odd.

Still no pictures, but dammit, I'm going to talk about knitting.

I've been just itching to cast on for my Olympic project, which would be Bad, and Cheating, so I'm distracting myself with all sorts of little stuff. I started a doily. I am so not a doily person, but I love knitting with teeny tiny needles and thread. Plus after this, the Olympic sweater will seem like I'm knitting with broom handles by contrast and will go speedily. I started and finished a hat. And I started a Secret Project which has had both positive and negative progress (i.e. lots of knitting and ripping) because I'm both designing it on the needles and using scrap yarn. I gave up last night after I realized that the yarn I was using just wasn't going to do what I wanted nohow, even after knitting and ripping it about six times, and I didn't feel like digging around in my stash closet in the dark. At least it was a small stitch count at that point.

I'm also ploughing through the mound of books I got at Dark Carnival during our lovely trip to Berkeley last weekend. I just finished Rats, which I'd been meaning to read for a while. I liked it, though I was hoping for something other than a personal "This is me in New York" story. I was expecting either an academic work (Rats, Lice and History) or a small specific story as used a springboard to broader themes (The Orchid Thief) and I don't think Rats was either.

But I couldn't believe the number of grammatical errors in the text! Either authors don't use editors any more, or the editors are getting more ignorant.* This was my favourite, on page 176:

"By 1952, a team of 14 men was exterminating rats, including Louis A. Lindecop, the port's chief sanitary inspector at the time."

I do not think that sentence means what you think it means, Mr. Sullivan.

Tonight we're playtesting some material for Deadlands:Reloaded, and the creator of the game is running it. This is definitely the upside of living here and R:tAG doing what he does; meeting the people responsible for all the stuff we love. Oh, and to link the themes of "knitting" and "benefits of living here" (not to mention the theme of "finally being gainfully employed"), Stitches West is soon. Squee!

Oh, and some links to stuff from coolhunting, which is a fantastic place to waste time:

A cool alarm clock
A cool USB stick
A cool guitar
A very very cool knitting project

And just plain funny (um, but adult content warning):
New Acronyms for Today's Discerning Freakazoid


* Or I'm getting pickier and more crotchety. What are the odds?

I told meself I'd include pictures with my next knitting post, and I haven't got 'round to taking them yet. R:tAG and I have been having very early nights these past few evenings; we've both been feeling tired and run-down.

So, a Conservative minority government. Prime Minister Harper. I found out first through blogs; the Canadian election got practically no coverage here (though I seemed to remember something about Frank McKenna on NPR this morning but I was 3/4 asleep. I checked on Yahoo just now, though, and it looks like I wasn't imagining things.) No surprise, though I desperately, desperately hope that this was a reaction against the Liberal scandals and their long term in office rather than an endorsement of all the Conservatives' policies (though to be fair, it looks like the Conservatives are attracting a wider range of opinion)

I was so proud to be from a country that actually practiced all the ideals that Americans are always going on about... life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness regardless of personal characteristics, separation of church and state, concern for the environment, tolerance and respect for all, etc. The same-sex marriage bill in particular made me want to run out into the streets singing "Oh, Canada." I've never had anyone be able to explain to me what is wrong about two people who love each other wanting legal recognition of their relationship. Any discussion inevitably ends with invoking the Bible (not on my part) which as far as I'm concerned in that debate has as much relevance as invoking Betty Crocker*. You disapprove of gay marriage? Don't marry a gay person. But how will two gay people marrying each other affect you in any way?**

Whoof. Anyway. In summary, stay good, Canada! I want to come back to a country that's just as great a place to live as when I left!

* OK, this is threatening to turn into a multipage rant, but I have to mention one of the odder arguments I heard; that allowing same-sex marriage is impossible because the government can't redefine marriage. Firstly, who exactly does get to define marriage? Secondly, the government has redefined all sorts of words, most in relatively recent history. Voter. Property owner. Legal drinker. In fact, the gummint and the courts are redefining the word "legal" in many ways, all the time, and have already redefined "marriage" by legislating an automatic common-law period in the 1970s. Where were all the marriage-definition-preservers then?

** A good article is here. I especially liked the sentence "It took more than 50 years of pitched battles before states fully recognized one another's divorces; it may well take that long before Boston marriages are good throughout the nation." It put this into a bit of historical perspective and reminded me that things really have improved over quite a stunningly short period of time.

Well, get used to it. I'm very excited about the Knitting Olympics.

Someone who I don't even know has volunteered to organize Team Canada, bless her needles. As part of my training, I've almost knit up all the lovely Luxury alpaca/silk yarn I got at Christmas. Wonderful stuff. Most of it went to Tempting II* and the leftover part-skein is going into some wristwarmers. I've made these for gifts a couple of times now, and each time I wind up wearing them thoroughly testing them until it's time to give them away. So these are for me.

I'm also almost finished Tubey, done in expensive (but sooooo worth it) Satori (Colour 8, the gray/purple/black) from Artfibers. I had a knitgasm with this yarn. No stripes, just showing off the wonderfullness that is Satori. I'm using smaller needles than Artfibers recommends (5.5 mm instead of 6.5) so I ran out of yarn, had to get more, found out the dye lots didn't match, undid about 15 cm of the body, and re-did it alternating rounds of old and new yarn to blend the dye lots. And such is my love affair with this yarn that I didn't even mind. Much.

Knittius, Altius, Fortius!

*OK, so I'll put this in a footnote since most of my friends' eyes glaze over when I go on about technical knitting details, but I've put this blog on the various Knitting Olympic sites so who knows, a few knitters might visit. With Tempting II, the instructions for the neckband seem to be off. The only way I could get it to work was to knit a neckband stitch together with a body stitch at the end of RS rows (SSK as written) and at the beginning of WS rows (P2togtbl). Otherwise the neckband was way too wide and flopped about horribly. I was using a slightly smaller gauge, so I knit a size up from normal, but the stitch counts and everything were the same. Anyone else find this?

As I was driving home (no traffic tsuris today) listening to the radio, I started wondering what everyone else was listening to in their cars. Then I started wondering what it would be like to be able to feel or even see RF signals. Because at work, I have an RF tag to get into and out of the parking lot, and another one for the office. I have a wireless network at home and work. There are a lot of radio stations here (I have a hard time finding a blank FM station for my iTrip when I travel more than a couple of km). Almost everyone has a cell phone. Almost everyone has garage door openers.

Imagine feeling or seeing all that. Weird.

Ah well. Off to paint minis at my home away from home.

(oh, apropos of nothing, check this out. And if you want an antidote for the wholesomeness of that, try this.)

So the commuting honeymoon is over. Apparently by coincidence, although I am not discounting the "schadenfreude of the gods" explanation, up 'til now the drive to and from work has been fine. "I don't know what the fuss is about," I naively said to myself, zipping along 85. And on the radio yesterday morning, there was a report that described traffic where I was as "stop-and-go" when I could clearly see that wasn't the case. All those traffic reports I've been listing to with horror, describing flaming wrecks, full loads of lumber spilled across two lanes, babies being born and people dying of thirst in gridlock... all lies?

Well, there was an accident today (not involving me!) and let me tell you, traffic backs up damn quick on a California highway. I'd already seen how traffic can come to a standstill for no apparent reason, but when there is a reason it takes even longer to restore the flow.

The radio traffic report didn't mention "my" accident (at least not by the time I actually made it to work) but they were focussed on the Bay Bridge, the state of which actually made the NPR guy say "I'm really glad I'm in the studio right now and not driving anywhere."

Ah well, work is going fine (and yes, I'm posting from work, but it's my lunchbreak. Nyah.) So now that the stress from unemployment is relieved, I'm at a stress deficit. And that will never do. So I'm participating in:

The Knitting Olympics
The Knitting Olympics
! Yep, you cast on after (or during!) the lighting of the torch, and finish when they put the torch out. 16 days. It's supposed to be a challenge for you but not impossible. So I'm doing Inishmore. Technically, I'm doing Inishmore again, because I did a longer (tunic length) version once already in a lovely deep red. But that's OK, I think. I mean, the Canadian Olympic hockey team has played hockey before, right? It's not the actual knitting that will be the challenge,* it will be the timeline.

Can-a-da! Can-a-da!

* Without blowing my own horn (toot toot!) I've been knitting long enough that I can't think of much knitting that would be a challenge for me mechanically as long as all the directions are clear. I remembered this technique I read about once where you knit two socks at once, one inside the other, using a double knitting technique. But you don't have anything to show off at the end other than two ordinary looking socks. Inishmore is much more impressive. And I also thought about something from Debbie New's Unexpected Knitting since that's the only knitting book I've seen that has stuff that I think I might not be able to do. But I want to savour that, plus I'd probably have to buy yarn and I should really use some of what I have.


The approximate schedule of events:

Jan 11, 12:15 PM: Phone rings. It's Conformia, a company that I'd applied to through Monster in mid-December. They want to know if I can come in for an interview. In four hours.

Jan 11: 4:00 PM: Interview. It goes really well. The people seem great, the work is interesting (interfaces for process control! Squee! Exactly what I wanted to do! And it's for making booze!), and I'm a good match as far as background and general experience. I don't have some specific experience that they're looking for (Web applications in general, DHTML in particular) but they seem very positive anyway. The place is about 12 miles away (spitting distance, by local standards... a 20 minute highway drive, a 30 minute non-highway drive (all depending on traffic of course)) so that's a big plus.*

Jan 11, 5:45 PM: I'm asked if an initial "contractor" period of two months would be acceptable (i.e. I'd be a contract employee instead of a full time employee, so no health care, 401K plan (like RRSPs), paid vacation, etc. for that time) while they make sure I can learn the specific stuff I need to. R:tAG's got us a health plan, there's only one holiday in the next two months anyway ("Presidents' Day"), and DHTML doesn't look like rocket science. I say sure.

Jan 11, 5:50 PM: They ask if I can come back at 11:00 the next morning, since the HR people have apparently all left for the day. I say sure.

Jan 12, 11:00 AM: I'm given a contractor agreement, an NDA and a request that today be my first day of work. I say sure.

So I'm employed. About freakin' time, you might say. :) The starting salary is low-ish, but at this point, I was really starting to worry about the huge chronological gap in my CV. I can only blame the US gummint for so much. Plus since I'm basically restarting my career I was expecting to get a novice-level salary anyway. Plus, at any level, it's income instead of outgo.


* It's a block from the Sunnyvale CalTrain station too, but considering that the nearest CalTrain station (College Park) is a 15 minute drive from our house if the highways are completely empty (haw!), that doesn't seem worth it.


Not only my brain is turning to cream cheese. I am terribly, terribly out of shape (not that I was ever really in shape). But yesterday we went up to The City (this was not us) and hung around with Dancin' Jen (now to be known as Cicada Jen, for her new fetish) and walked and walked and walked and went to a lot of cool places, and had sushi, and then I went to a dance class with her that was two hours of non-stop muscley goodness. And now I can't hardly raise my hands or feet. I think I'll check out the local studio to see if I can find my missing muscle tone.

Oh, and by the way, SQUEEEEEEEE!!! I can't believe it's taken this long for someone to get the idea that the Discworld books would make good movies. I just hope they don't screw it up (yeah, yeah, I know, "you must be new here...")


(I was getting tired of all the posts titled "Miscellanea.")

And welcome, Carla, to blogland! Unlike this site, her blog is all about deep and important thinky-type stuff. Whereas I talk about ants and knitting. My brain is turning to cream cheese.

Gamespot had a year-in-review thing, and a little-known game called Psychonauts got a rave review. So we were at Fry's checking out a sale, and picked it up. It's too 3D-reflexy for me to play so I kibitz while R:tAG plays, and sometimes contribute on the puzzle bits. But it is a really good game. Good interleaving of cut scenes, good story, a variety of challenges, and visuals that I never in a million jillion years would have come up with myself.* It's been more like watching a movie than a game. Of course, my experience with games is pretty limited. Maybe they're all this good now.

We also got the Myst collection (the first three games) for cheap. That's more my style. The game, that is, not cheapness. Though waiting until something cool has faded from the spotlight so that I'm not paying a trendiness premium... hmm. I guess that isn't not my style.**

* This is the same reason I love Miyazaki's movies. As I once said to a friend in a fit of pessimism, as I get older there are fewer and fewer good surprises left.

** There's nothing I don't like about double negatives!

Just to be clear, in case you've seen Ze Governator on the news frowning thoughtfully at waterfilled farms, there's absolutely no flooding in our particular part of California, so don't worry about us.

Oh yeah... welcome to T-ass entering blogdom. Old news, I know, but I'm usually the last one to know these things.

And in movie news, we finally saw the Narnia movie and The Producers, both of which I'd been quite looking forwards to though with some mixed feelings in the Narnia case. After all, the Narnia books are part of the furniture of my mind, to use Douglas Adams' lovely phrase, and I've seen with Lord of the Rings how someone else's vision and the vicissitudes of the movie format can clash with my own mental images. But The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a shorter, simpler book, and adapted to a movie really quite well. The main actors were great and the special effects were so good that you stopped thinking of them as effects (the animals especially; I realized that I wasn't amazed at the CGI, I was amazed that they'd found talking beavers). And Tilda Swinton rocks my world.

And The Producers is great. I think they really kept the stage play/musical feel of it (original "stagy" dialogue, slightly stylized sets, over the top acting) and it worked. Mind you, it's a movie based on a musical based on a movie about a musical, so it's going to be campy. It's been a long time since I've seen the original movie (which I don't think was even a musical? It's been a long time) but if my memory serves they even kept a lot of the blocking.* I can't think about neo-Nazis now without snickering slightly ("Don't be schtupid, be a schmartie! Come and join ze Nazi Party!") which I'm sure was Mr. Brooks' intent.

I recommend both movies. Well, all three movies, since the original of The Producers is excellent also. I mean, Gene Wilder. C'mon.

* There was a slight difference in the plot; the original movie had a hippie playing Hitler, I think. Though the whole "I broke my leg!" running gag seemed familiar, so maybe he just auditioned. I guess the whole hippie thing was edgier in 1967. I'll have to see if I can find the original movie. Netflix to the rescue!

It's raining here. A lot.

So, finally back and feeling sociable enough to even blog. It was wonderful to see so many friends and family again, and I know I missed even more people because of disorganization on my part (forgive me, please). But cramming basically a year's worth of socialization into two weeks left me feeling slightly crazy. Er. Crazier. Not that I needed more proof of my introverted nature.

And we saw more of Calgary airport than we wanted, on both ends of the trip and both times because of weather. On our return date, the San Francisco airport was almost completely shut down (only one runway open, and it's a big airport) because of fog, buckets of rain, and high winds. So we had a four hour delay in the lovely Calgary airport, after even the dubious attractions of Arby's and the Relay store were closed for the evening. Ah well. At least SFO was our final destination so we got home at 2:30 AM PST; I feel for those poor souls who missed connections and were delayed by a day.

But now that I'm home and refreshed by solitude* I can realize how much fun I had, with the wedding and the friends and the family and the hey hey hey. And I can start in on the massive amounts of yarn I brought home. Hey, it's hard to get alpaca wool in California! Don't you dare judge me!

I'm also catching up on everyone else's blogs, and webcomics, and e-mail, and everything... I didn't really look at a computer while I was away. But I was amused to see that someone also wished she'd done a quotes page for the week. There was something at the wedding reception that I kept telling myself "Ok, remember this, remember this, remember this..." and then I must have seen something shiny because I can't remember it.** I should stop wearing sparkly dresses, really.

I'm also very very happy that I got to see four people I wasn't expecting to, Mr. Too-Tall and Mr. Not-Quite-As-Tall-but-Tall-Enough from Calgary, Rob R. the rootless cosmopolite, currently from Malawi (give me your blog URL!) and Marathon Pam, who happened to be flying back to her hometown via Regina at the same time that we were in Regina and had a car. A brief meeting at the airport was all we could manage, but it was still a pleasure.

And thanks to R:tAG's generous family, who provided shelter and transportation and so much holiday food that I felt like a beachball.

And now I'm starting to sound like an awards ceremony. But really, thanks to everyone and we miss you.

* We didn't even go out for New Year's... how lame is that? If it weren't for the fact that we actually did stay awake until midnight, I'd say we were turning into my parents. :) But we split a split (hah!) of champagne and I got to have a whole jar of caviar all to myself since its combination of taste and texture is a double-icky whammy to R:tAG. Mmmm. I like caviar.

** And it wasn't "Monkey! Go!" Believe me, I won't forget that for a while. And it wasn't "Why is my bed on the lawn? Where's my canoe?" because that was after Christmas, not at the wedding.


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