Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jenn vs. Kevin

J3nny Benny: 3400
Germoid: 3955

Boo-urns.

Name Game

Over the last couple days, I have written a personal greeting at the top of 357 letters. These letters are going to schools all over the province, and it was agreed in the office that it was important to personalize them whenever possible (357 are personalized, 445 remain generic). The one thing that made it interesting is seeing how common certain names are.

Among female elementary school staff, the most common names were:

1. Carol
2. Barbara
3. Marilyn
4. Rita

And among male elementary school staff:

1. Scott
2. Mike
3. Doug(las)
4. Brian/Bryan

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jenn vs Kevin

According to my XBox's blog, I have gamed 11 days in a row. My achievements aren't going to achieve themselves and I can't beat Kevin if I don't keep at it. Thanks to Fallout 3, Halo 3, Lego Indy, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, and most especially Monopoly, I have managed to not fall too far behind Kevin. Current scores:

J3nny B3nny: 3400
Germoid: 3450

I fear my planned coup d'├ętat won't have the impact I want it to. I'm afraid that it's going to take so long to achieve it that Kevin will have built up his score so much that I will merely be pacing him.

Papercut season

I just spent $567 on 1000 postage stamps and $35 on 1000 envelopes. I have five boxes of brochures stacked in the middle of my office. The GM wants all of the generic promo letters signed by hand and personalized when possible.

It's that mailout time of year.

Take a ride on the Reading!

While I like them as a concept, I don't care for many board or card games because I'm traditionally not very good at them. While it's not supposed to be about winning, it's supposed to be about fun, it's not very fun to go into something where I feel like I don't stand a chance. I like simple games likes Sorry, Uno, snakes and ladders. Games with no strategy to them. I really hated Settlers of Catan, though I feel I gave it a very fair chance. Monopoly is another one I hate. Monopoly and I go way back. It was one of the few board games we played in my family, along with Battleship and Scrabble. There's just something about Monopoly that brings out the worst in people.

Recently I've been playing Monopoly with Brody, and I don't mind it. We're not at the stage of making deals and trading properties. That's the element I don't like. There are some matters in which I'm not very smart, and the wheeling and dealing of property trading is one of them. I'm also very poor at doing quick math in my head. In the past I've always just been taken advantage of which is what soured me on the game. But playing with a six year old who really takes the game at face value isn't bad at all. We just roll the dice, buy or pass, pay rent, and keep going around the board until bedtime.

Although I've hated Monopoly with real people, I have conversely always enjoyed it electronically. I used to have a PC version of it that I got out of a box of cereal (prizes sure have changed since I was a kid), along with The Game of Life. I like playing against the computer because I never feel dumb. The computer doesn't judge me when I make an unwise decision. I also expect computers to have the advantage, so I don't feel bad when I lose and I'm a little extra chuffed when I win. I was asking David if they make Monopoly for the DS or PSP that I could maybe play on the bus. He didn't think so, but did find Monopoly for the XBox 360 for $20 at London Drugs.

We were up until 1:30 in the morning playing Monopoly. I was bankrupted early and the computer player was a filthy cheater, but overall I enjoyed it. I also really enjoyed the 150 gamerpoints I got in one sitting.

Ennui de tricotage

After the disappointment of having to frog my sock, I haven't touched any knitting. It was a week ago that I unravelled my cuff to make it back into a ball of yarn. I really thought I would cast on a newer, smaller version of the sock again right away, but it's been a week and there's nothing. I have three projects on the needles I could work on, but nope. I have not knit a stitch in a week. I know it's not over between me and yarn forever, but I may start a crochet project while on the rebound before casting on another sock.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fallout 3 Update

Fallout 3 is so good. I'm regretting that I don't have more time to play. The lack of progress is starting to get frustrating. It just happened in the course of the game that I'm playing a character with very good karma, which means that some bad people don't like me and have put a bounty on my head. Whenever I fast travel to a subway station, there are three or four mercenaries waiting there to kill me. Only once was I able to prepare myself and get in a sneak attack. All of the other times they got the drop on me and I nearly didn't make it out alive.

I'm getting a healthy amount of experience from killing them, but after each encounter I have to go back to my house to unload the equipment I looted from them and sleep to heal my injuries. In about 30 minutes of playing I didn't manage to make any progress at all to side quests or the main storyline because of the mercenaries. I know they're going to keep coming, but with the increased experience (and one really good new weapon) it will get easier to deal with them.

I wish I could call in sick and play Fallout all day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Le sigh

Once in a while life just gets embarrassing. First, on Thursday, I was treated condescendingly by a store clerk because I didn't have ID. I don't care what anyone says about age perception and flattery. I'm halfway between 28 and 29 years old, and there's nothing flattering about waiting in line to be refused for service and treated like a teenager who is trying to get away with something, especially in front of other customers.

Then today I knocked over a full cup of Sprite at one of the stand-alone Edos. Sprite all over the table, chairs, and floor. I did my best with napkins then went and apologetically asked for a rag and a mop. They cleaned it up (though I offered to do it), and even kindly refilled my drink for free.

It's hard to feel like a grown-up sometimes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Almost as sweet as he is


I was promised a surprise and David advised that I should be in my office in the early afternoon. It turned out be a lovely surprise indeed. It's a bouquet of fruit, with pineapple hearts, grapes, and strawberries (some are chocolate covered). Yum!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This won't mean much if you don't play Fallout 3

But it sure makes me laugh.

Apocalyptica

I finally started playing Fallout 3 on David's recommendation. I'd watched him play it last fall when he first bought it and I didn't think I would like the game mechanics. David encouraged me to try it out a couple weeks ago and I did because of the promise of achievements (see post below).

It turns out that I love the game. I'm hooked on the story, even if the mechanics are strange. It's an alternate reality post-WWIII story set two hundred years after nuclear war. My character, Jennifer (original, I know), was an inhabitant of Vault 101, a large fallout survival shelter. Mysterious things happen and I end up going to the surface which isn't what the Vault leaders taught us it would be. David is also playing through it and he's started a great blog that journals his experience from the point of view of his character. Tales of a Vault Dweller is just starting out, but it's a very good read so far.

This game is huge. There's so much to do and explore that I found it overwhelming at first. The game has been lauded for how open it is, but personally I could really use a little more linearity. It's very easy to get distracted from the main story by side quests, and also easy to get so caught up in side quests that you get burnt out and never finish the story. Also, some side quests have an unannounced time limit. For example, you can agree to help a friendly town out of a jam, but taking too long will turn them hostile towards you. I'm trying to balance both the side quests and the main story so I can get it all done. It's a really good and compelling game.

Perhaps I will learn my lesson from this and try out games a little sooner when David recommends them instead of waiting six months.

The gauntlet has been thrown

Somehow I've ended up in a competition with Kevin over Gamerscores. For those who don't know, XBox 360 games come with a list of tasks or goals called Achievements, and each Achievement is worth a certain amount of points. For example, it might be 20 points for finishing a level, 50 points for completing a major story milestone, 10 points for killing a certain number of bad guys, 100 points for finishing the game, etc. All of the points earned are called a player's gamerscore (mine can be seen to the right in my Gamercard).

I've built my gamerscore up over the course of the last year. Kevin, who only got an XBox about two months ago, has already surpassed my score. I don't care for it. It may be silly and it may even petty (though it is good natured), but the competition has begun. I've stepped up the amount of time spent gaming. I'm not achievement whoring as much as I could; while I may be putting games into circulation that have easy achievements, I'm limiting it to games we already own, that I enjoy, and that I'd play independent of this competition. This is merely incentive to make more time for gaming I've been wanting to do anyhow.

Microsoft policy is that all games must have 1000 points in the base game, the title may ship with less than that provided that later additions are available free, and up to 250 points may be added later through downloadable content. XBox Live Arcade games have 200 base points and up to 50 points allowed to be added later. I doubt I'll ever max out the achievements of any game. It's not that I think I can't do it, because for some games I'm sure I could, but it's just too much of a time commitment.

Currently Kevin has 3210 to my 3140. I narrowed the gap a little last night and I'll hopefully narrow it a bit more tonight. Slow and steady wins the race, and as such I'm working towards a coup d'├ętat that I hope will set Kevin back enough for me to maintain a lead.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boo-urns, the second.

I've made the difficult decision to frog and restart my sock. I knew several rows ago that it was going to be too big. Then the cat got ahold of it and chewed through the yarn in such a way that it will be tough to rejoin without having to unknit a bit, and also in such a way that it will be difficult for the stripe pattern to turn out identical in the second sock.

I think I'm going to start doing lifelines for socks. No more flying without a net for me.

Victory is mine!

A couple weeks ago there was some contention in the office over a client who was getting upset and telling some untruths about my efforts to help them. There were two people in their office in contact with us, playing good cop/bad cop. The good cop dealt with me in a friendly manner by email while the bad cop telephoned the manager to yell. They tried to bully me into offering a spot on Friday that didn't work terribly well on my end, and threatened to cancel and blacklist us if they didn't have confirmation by the the end of the day. I gave in and offered them Friday, which is when they came back "You know, Wednesday or Thursday might work better. Give us a couple days and we'll get back to you."

What? They give me an unreasonable deadline then decline my efforts to help? I don't think so. After consulting with the GM, I ended up offering them an immediately confirmed spot on Wednesday. If they wanted to hold out for another spot, that was fine, but I would be unable to make any confirmations or promises for two weeks. They fussed about Wednesday simply not being possible for them and opted to hold out for something else. Last week I told them that there really was no other option, they had to take Wednesday if they wanted us at all. I wasn't really sure if I'd be told to go [censor] myself or if they would acquiesce. I was smugly delighted this morning to find an email saying that Wednesday works just fine, they're so looking forward to it, and thank you so very much for all the help.

I win.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shoddy workmanship

I finished my second sock. It was different, but not better. Rather than a fraternal twin it was more of an ugly younger sibling. But I think I've gotten a bit better at the technique which was the whole point. I washed the socks and laid them out to dry, then was wearing them a bit today. Suddenly I realized that it felt a bit drafty around my toe and looked down to see that my toe stitching had come unstitched. Boo-urns to that.

A couple days ago I cast on for my second pair. I'm using a self-striping sock yarn, small metal DPNs, and keeping track of every row. It's finicky working with the smaller needles and finer yarn, but I'm getting the hang of it. While I like metal needles for everything else, I don't like them for socks. I'll definitely be getting a set of wooden DPNs from KnitPicks.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buzzkill

I happily went to Ravelry to update my sock progress. My euphoria was brought down a peg when I had to accept that I wasn't 100% finished, but only 50%. I must not succumb to Second Sock Syndrome!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

LOOK

Know what this is?



(I sure wish my floor had been cleaner when I took that picture.)

Yep, it's a sock. Know who made it? ME! It's ugly, bulky, full of gaps, and has a weird toe because I was making such a mess of Kitchener stitch that I just gave up and did a gathered bind off. But it's my first sock, and for that reason alone it is beautiful and I am very proud.

I've cast on its mate, which I know will not be the same. I intend for the second sock to be different, to be fraternal. My goal for the second sock is not to make an identical twin, but instead to correct and avoid the mistakes and refine what I learned the first time around.

It's really difficult to resist the urge to spend a grip on sock yarn. I will, however, go ahead and buy DPNs from KnitPicks. I just need to decide between metal and wood.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Positive Pete

I decided that 2009 will be the year of taking on knitting projects that I would like to do but haven't tried yet because I'm afraid they are too difficult for me. To heck with that. If small children in sweatshops can do it, so can I. I'm going to be a Can Do instead of a Can Don't! Or something.

In the last couple weeks I learned how to knit in the round on DPNs (previously labeled as too hard) so I could knit socks (impossibly difficult). As seen below, I can knit socks. Maybe not very well yet, but it's still a sock. I didn't even do garter stitch very well when I first started but now I can do some pretty cool lace knitting without any trouble. When boiled down, it's all just knit and purl and I know how to do both of those.


I've been working on a modified version of the Chunky Braided Scarf as the project to learn cables on. I'm extremely happy with how it's turning out. This is currently my favorite thing I've ever made. And it's really not nearly as complicated as it looks.

Yarn!


Yesterday I had a little free time after work, so I took the train to Clareview to go to Michael's craft store. I wanted to buy DPNs, but I was profoundly disappointed at the selection available. I did okay when it came to yarn though. I bought four balls of Patons sock yarn in two colorways (I wasn't sure if one ball was enough for two socks), and five balls of Bernat Satin. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the Bernat, but it was on final clearance for $1.50 each, so I bought all that was left. I know, I've gotten into trouble with clearance yarns before, but this stuff seems pretty nice.

I made it myself

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rock and/or Roll

Played a little Rock Band last night. It's not nearly as much fun alone. I did some old favorites on guitar and some new songs on bass. I'm definitely out of practice.

Afterwards it was time to kill more zombies with David and Joey. I've now completed all four campaigns of Left 4 Dead. Highlights were David and Joey killing Bill (the obnoxious NPC) while I stood idly by; me setting David on fire so I could get an achievement; and David throwing a Molotov to block Joey and I from the safehouse. That last one is a highlight because as soon as he did it, the zombie hoard rushed him and he was caught between the zombies and his own fire. WikkidKarmic retribution!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just so he's not left out

Soulja Boy the fish is doing well. His move to a nice 3 gallon tank with a light and filter went well, though he was a little stressed about it for the first couple days. He's a lot more active than when he was in his dark little bowl on the bookshelf.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There they are a-standing in a row...

A while back I bought a coconut on a whim because a few days earlier David had mentioned wanting one. I was in a produce market and there was only one coconut in the whole store, sitting among the mangoes, with no price sign (turned out to be $1.48). Once David cracked it, we soon discovered that hamsters love coconut. Hamtard actually tossed a seed she was working on to grab some coconut. Normally she stuffs whatever food she's working on into her cheek pouch before taking something else, but once she smelled that coconut the seed ceased to exist.

Today I bought two more coconuts. David got a crack in it by dropping it on the driveway, then split it by throwing it down on the front steps. Happily, one half of the shell remained a rough dome. We had read about coconut shells being used as hamster huts, so we put this one into the cage. Once Hamtard finally woke up and went down for food, she discovered the shell. It's hard to read a hamster, but I'm pretty sure she likes it. She has a favorite little compartment in her cage that can only be accessed by a tube, and she tried with great determination yet no demonstrable progress to drag the shell into the tube.

Watching a hamster try to drag something bigger that it is into something smaller is one of life's small joys.

Thalia's Great Adventure

Thalia once again made good on her escape. Earlier today she enjoyed some time out on her leash, got to walk around the yard with David, and even spent a few minutes off her leash with supervision.

And then between 5:05 and 5:20, when either David or one of the kids was coming or going, she escaped unnoticed. Her absence wasn't noted until around 6:00 when I realized that she hadn't been fed. She didn't come when David or I called her or to the sound of the can opener (which is unlike her). Around 6:20 David went out to look around for her, and there she was creeping along the sidewalk, dirty and frightened. No idea where she was or what she got up to. David carried her, I wiped her muddy paws off, and she then wolfed down her food while looking around anxiously. Once the kids were downstairs and the kitchen was quiet, she sat down to a vigorous bath. Poor thing. She doesn't do well in the outside world.

A sock is afoot!

I have a cuff. I have a leg. I have a heel. I have a gusset. I just have to knit a few more inches for the foot and make the toe. By jove, I think it's a sock!

It's bulky and has gaps where I don't want them, and I didn't keep track of anything except the number of stitches I cast on so I'll never be able to do better than a fraternal twin, but that's all okay because IT'S A SOCK AND I MADE IT! HAHAHA!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Is it a sock yet?

Not quite, but it's getting there.

Making the heel flap and turning the heel? No big deal. It's 10% math, 10% guesstimating, and 80% decreases, and if using a pattern the math and guesswork are removed. Decreases are nothing to be bothered about. I can already p2tog and ssk like nobody's business because of the lace knitting I've done, so the heel wasn't this elusive mythical magical task for me.

Joining the heel flap back onto the rest of the stock to create the foot, however? *choke* *sob* Holy profanity! Between some books and youtube videos I think I have it figured out. Maybe. I had to give up and go to sleep last night so I'll have to wait until after work to get back to it.

Part of the trouble is that there seem to be a few ways to do it and that's messing up my learning process. One book said start with right side facing, one video said wrong side facing, a tutorial page was doing something weird with an extra needle I didn't understand. I pieced together a method that I may have just completely made up, but there are no knitting police and I've long since decided that don't care if it's wrong. I only care that it becomes a sock.

Friday, April 3, 2009

But will it be a sock?

I have a tube! This is my first time knitting in the round. DPNs are fiddly and awkward, but I have about one inch of 1X1 ribbing and one inch of stockinette. I'm still pretty sure the sock is going to be ugly and full of gaps, it might be a bit too small for me, and I may never make the second one, but I'm okay with all of that as long as it's a sock.

The yarn is really nice. It's Knitpicks Swish Superwasher wool. It's a brown colour, I think called Truffle. I have two balls of it and I have no idea what I originally bought it for.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Excitement!

I cast on something last night that I'm hoping will turn into a sock. I dug through the stash for some yarn, made a swatch, measured my stitches per inch, measured my leg, multiplied, and cast on what the calculator told me. It's not even a tube yet since I'm also just now learning how to knit in the round on DPNs and I needed a break after one round. I'm pretty sure it's going to be bulky and full of gaps and look terrible. All of that will be okay as long as it's sock-shaped.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Zombie Dream Invasion

I was once again up just a little bit too late killing zombies with David, Joey, and briefly even Joey's mom. The game is starting to creep into my dreams now. They're not specifically zombie dreams or even violent dreams, but rather chase dreams about being pursued by some unknown, unnamed, out-of-the-ordinary something of which we ran afoul. Last night I was having a vivid dream that David and I were in a strange place trying to escape whatever it was. It was intense, but we were careful, we knew what we were doing, and we weren't panicking. We were doing so well that I was a little annoyed when I woke up for no reason and didn't get to see how we would fare.

On one hand, it might be time to take a short break from Left 4 Dead. On the other hand, it's a lot of fun. On the third, disembodied hand, 245 gamerpoints in three days is verra verra nice and there are several more achievements I should be able to get with little trouble.