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White & pink tulips coming in under the apple tree! Pretty!


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Ready Player One

About a year ago, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t reading enough fiction. I’d plink away at a Terry Pratchett novel for a bit, but almost always went back to loading up on a bunch of non-fiction. I get weirdly obsessive, I’ll admit. The Other Half has to remind me, every so often, to take a fiction break.

We went window-shopping at The Mall this weekend and I had a chance to stop in at Indigo. I came out with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’d heard good things about it online.

I devoured it in one day.

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Apparently I ran out of tea and didn’t notice. This never happens.

The story is set in a near-future dystopia. The wage gap is severe, and an energy crisis has caused the population to crowd to the big cities. Online gaming has evolved to an immersive utopian experience known as “OASIS”, and most of humanity spends its time jacked into the system. One of the founders of OASIS has left an easter egg in the programming that will allow a lucky explorer to inherit his entire legacy. The trick is that the founder was obsessed with the 1980’s culture of his teen years. To go forward on the quest, participants will need to know the 80’s intimately.

We see the story unfold from the point of view of Wade, a teenage Egg Hunter (or “gunter”). He uses OASIS to attend school, socialize, and get away from the grim reality he would otherwise have to experience. His online name is “Parzival”, and we follow him on his personal grail quest.

My own teen years straddled the mid 80’s to the early 90’s, so this was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me. I get references to 80’s movies and music. I remember many of the different early computers and devices mentioned.

As a sidebar, my grandfather was a Ham Operator and early-adopter of technology. He gave us a Vic 20 with a tape drive so that we could play Frogger. I know he had one in his Ham Shack that he claimed was for translating Morse Code, but the plain fact was that he was so fluent at code that he would translate entire paragraphs before the program even started chewing through the dots and dashes.  So he, essentially, bought us two computers on which to play Frogger. One at our house and one at his.

I was also caught up in the early 2000’s World of Warcraft MMO culture. We would spend hours logged in, questing, raiding, and socializing. I still play occasionally, though I’ve mostly gone back to good-old antisocial single-player Sims. That said, I can see a future where an analog of Second Life takes over and becomes the worldwide GUI for commerce and entertainment. And as in the book, I can see that whoever takes over that GUI would, at its essence, control the world economy.

I think one of the things that amuses me most is how the author has blended the past, present, and future into his novel. Yes, there’s the obsession with 80’s culture and the overwhelmingly dismal future, but there are pieces of the present in there. Characters blog, marathon-watch TV shows, and shop. These are all things that we do now. People meet, fall in love, and marry online. They do that now. The future of Cline’s novel isn’t so far away that we can’t be a part of it now, even though we don’t have the hardware to fully wire ourselves into the internet.

The takeaway message that this is a possible outcome if we don’t get our heads out of the sand and look up once in a while is powerful. And every time you think that our hero, Wade, is getting it under control, the stakes go up.

I definitely recommend giving Ready Player One a read. And read it in hard copy. There’s a weird kind of irony, I think, if you read it on electronic media.

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There are pretty things growing in my garden!


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Home salad bar!


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Happy Tabletop Day!


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Using the good plates & glassware for a change! :-)


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Baroque goes Funk

And this is what skulking around on Youtube netted me today.

Amazingly enough, this is the kind of thing that goes through my mind often. It’s the same kind of musical sense of humour that has one track down a copy of “Bach ‘n’ Roll” because who doesn’t want to play Nights in White Satin in the style of Debussy?

I still maintain that Guns n Roses “November Rain” needs bagpipes in the instrumental solo at the end.   Seriously. Someone hook that up.

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Silly human… Of course it isn’t a picture of a truly finished object unless it includes a kitty!


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Lots of socks

January didn’t shape up as I expected.  I did knit quite a bit…just not on the things I had intended.  Somehow, though, you can either roll with it, or allow yourself to be steamrolled.

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I didn’t feel well over the first half of the month, which put a bit of a crimp in things. I didn’t really have much ability to concentrate, so I stuck to socks.

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I made a valiant stab at getting a pair of mittens done, but I lost confidence after having some difficulty with the liner. I’ve been making liners using fingering weight yarn. Kroy is a bit heavier than that. It caused a lot of bulkiness and extra stitches that I had to try and account for. It took about two nights to get the liner to a point I was happy with it. I’m also realizing that the thumb hole on the outer mitten was knit a couple of rows too high. It makes the mitten a little too tight across the thumb, and there’s no way I can easily repair it unless I want to rip back the liner so I can get into the mitten so I can start picking it apart at the fingertips and thumb, re-knit the mitten….I’d be better off just re-knitting the mitten from start to finish.

So….mitten drama.  I put the mittens aside and worked on…

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Socks!
I started these on Christmas Eve while during a family party. I cast them off on January 24th. We were “social” during the second half of the month, so the only thing I could work on was something portable and dead-simple….like socks. They aren’t the ugliest pair of self-striping socks I’ve worked on, but they’re close. They never seem to look like they’ll be bad when you see them in a ball under store lighting…it’s only once the sock starts to take shape that you realize you’ve had the equivalent of a yarny Rick Roll.

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I guess I figured correctly that these will make excellent Hallowe’en socks — they’re bound to scare anyone who looks upon ’em.

I have another pair of socks on the needles. More about those as we go through February.

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No spinning for January. As mentioned, being sick and then being out of the house isn’t conducive to spinning. The two nights I was setting aside for spinning wound up being taken up by laundry and fixing the mitten mentioned above.  February, however, will have spinning! I just have to decide which fiber to start working on, as I have some pretty wonderful bags of fluff to choose from.

Socks! Pair #1 is done.

My knitting output has slowed down a bit in the past month.  I’m blaming it on three things…finally having some time to relax, catching a cold, and video gaming.

The first one is easy…the big Yule rush is over, so I can take my time. No hurry, right?

The second and third?  Well, when I catch a cold, I don’t necessarily want to be sneezing into my knitting. I’m making handknits, not plague blankets. Last thing I need to do is to spread my winter cold to some poor, unsuspecting person who just happened to receive an item from my knitting basket. It just happened this year that I caught some tummy bug that manifested on the night of Christmas Day – and then just as I was recovering from that, I caught yet another cold that knocked me flat on my arse.

That said, there has been some knitting.

I’m not sure I should count these, however.  I’ve been casually working on these off & on for about a year.  Maybe more (yes, maybe more).  How is that possible?  You don’t totally fall in love with the yarn.

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Why does indoor lighting always have to have that weird yellow cast?

Yarn is Regia, I think. I can’t find the ball band, it’s been so long. I know this particular colourway was floating around a couple of different Calgary yarn shops. A quick check on Ravelry tells me that I made an almost identical pair a few years ago as a birthday present for my Mum.  Go figure. I seem to recall that I bought two balls of the yarn with the intention of making knee socks.  I think I attempted it, realized that there is no way I have the patience to knit knee socks, and used half the yarn on a pair of socks for Mum. This is the other half.  Sock is the standard vanilla sock – cuff down, 7″ leg, with a heel flap. I think they may be just big enough to fit me (and anyone with my foot size), and somehow I managed to get the stripes to line up.  Huzzah!

I realized sometime at the end of 2014 that if I just dug up a few old Unfinished Objects from wherever they were stashed, I’d have a pair of socks or a pair of mittens or some other finished project. This is one of those pairs that never was accounted for as being “cast on” as they were just a pair of vanilla socks. Nothing special about them, right? You can whip out a pair in a week or two, so why bother accounting for them. Just stuff ’em in your purse and go, because you can knit on them *anywhere* (except you never do, because something snazzier always seems to come along).

Anyhow, they’re first off the needles for 2015.  Better late than never!