| Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Despite everything else that happened this month, I still managed to meet my Southern Summer of Socks goal of one pair per month. This pattern is "Retro Rib Socks" from Interweave's Favorite Socks. (More photos are on Flickr.) I've now made FOUR pairs from this book; I love it. What I didn't love was the yarn: TOFUtsies. It's a blend of wool, cotton, "soysilk," and chitin. (Yes, ground up crustaceans.) Sounds interesting, right? I had a hell of a time getting it to behave.
My first problem was that I tried casting on from the center of the ball, thinking I'd do my usual "knit two at once" trick. Right away I ran into difficulty. This yarn is so loosely spun and apt to split that I just couldn't make any headway with it. A single strand would always be pulled loose from the rest and I just couldn't get it to sit properly. I tried about three different patterns before giving up and going to the outside of the ball. That worked a lot better. (Of course, it also meant I had to knit them one at a time, so I had to battle a little Second Sock Syndrome.) Also, as the yarn has very little stretch, I had to cast on over two needles to get it loose enough to go over my leg, even though I'd already gone up to my usual 2.75mm needles.
Okay, so that's all the negatives. In the positive column, it certainly feels very nice to wear. I even made the Snook try them on to gauge the prickliness factor, and whether I could use the fiber for him. (He likes them better than pure wool but still finds them itchy. Weirdo.) The other nice thing is the meterage. I had heaps of this yarn left over, and I didn't make them deliberately short or anything. You'd defiitely get a man's pair out of a single 100g ball.
Next up: Jaywalkers! I've finally given in to the temptation, seeing as how everybody else in the known universe has knitted them.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
A few months ago over Ravelry, I floated the idea of a "secret pal" exchange on the Australian Knitters group. Lots of folks were onboard, and we hammered out a plan for a "Tea Cosy Swap." Everybody was to knit a tea or coffee cosy for their pal, along with $20 or so worth of related treats. My secret pal was Jen, who occasionally comments over here. I made her three crafty things, along with homemade brownies, chocolate-covered coffee beans, and a pack of Japanese cookies. She got her package today, and despite a near tragic dog-related incident, she really liked it!
There are more photos over on Flickr. Read on for descriptions and pattern notes. (Man, this'll be a lot easier when I can just link to 'em on Ravelry.) [more...]
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Me: It's me. WHAT is he wearing on his legs?
Amy: AHHHHH! DON'T TELL ME! We're timeshifting and we're behind! AHHHHHHH!
Me: Goddammit! Catch up! You're gonna get spoiled in 15 minutes anyway!
Five minutes later...
Amy: Okay, I'm caught up. Dude, those were velvet leggings.
Me: I know! I was thinking he looked okay from the waist up, and then they pulled back, and I VOMITED.
Amy: It's back! Okay, call me when it's over.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
* For my own future reference, it is NOT POSSIBLE to go through the largest IKEA in the Southern Hemisphere in one hour. Must remember to schedule at least two in order not to feel rushed.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Me: What are you talking about?
Her: This guy came in to do some shopping, and he had some bags in his hands, and he asked me if he could put them behind the counter. And I said "Sure," and he handed them over. And then he said that he had to make sure not to forget it or lose it, because it was his sister's ashes, and he'd just picked her up!
Me: YOU'RE. JOKING.
Her: I had a dead person, right in my hands!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I've just finished reading Clive Barker's Abarat. I picked it up at the St. Barney's Fair book sale for $1.50 last winter. I knew nothing about it and the cover was pretty boring (in fact, the font on my copy made me think it was called "Ararat" until I actually cracked it open), but I remembered enjoying Barker's The Thief of Always so I thought I might give it a shot. I'm glad I did. It was great! Well, except for the first chapter. I understand that it'll probably pay off later, but man, it's completely different in tone to everything else that comes afterwards. It felt very "Wizard of Earthsea" (i.e. BORING) to me, so it was a relief to turn the page and meet Candy Quackenbush from good ol' Chickentown, Minnesota. The story reminds me of Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland, and it's got some extremely memorable characters. In fact, one of my only complaints is that it introduces so many of them, and oftentimes Candy's only with that person for a chapter or two. That got a bit frustrating and repetitive. I was so glad to see John Mischief and his brothers return to the tale. (I want a John Mischief action figure. Seriously.) So there I was, grooving on the story and not having any idea where it was going to go, when suddenly -- it ended. Whaaaat? Yep, the last, like, twenty pages of my copy were just appendix. What the hell? So I go to the Internet, and it turns out that this is the first book in a SERIES OF FIVE. I feel a bit sucked in. Nowhere on my copy did it indicate that this was a series! And while I did enjoy it, I'm a little annoyed that I'm now hooked for four more books (only one of which has actually been published so far). But anyway, if you like fantasy but you find a lot of it boring and humourless, this is a great story.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Update: No news! It's 24 hours later, and she's still hanging in there at the hospital. They're trying to forestall labor as much as possible right now to give the baby's lungs a little more time to develop.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Look well, Sis, for that is your future!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Guy: Hi, this is Rob calling from EB Games about your pre-order--
Me: EEK! IT'S HERE, ISN'T IT?
Guy: Yes. Your copy of High School Musical: Sing It is here.
Me: Sweeeeet. hysterical laughter Am I the only one who pre-ordered it?
I've been reading the reviews, and they're pretty much what I expected. Still, I think I'm gonna have fun with this. I was also excited to pass this tidbit along to the Snook: "If you have a friend who doesn't want to sing, he or she can use the d-pad to rotate between percussion instruments -- cowbell, drum, etc. -- and then shake the Wiimote to use the instrument as you sing." I CAN SING AND HE CAN PLAY THE COWBELL. (It's like we'll have our own band!) And it comes with a microphone in case anymore Singstar type games come out for Wii.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I've had Dire Straits stuck in my head all day. This morning was to be the final big push of the move, the day that we moved the last of the heavy appliances. I had a brainwave last night and called up a nearby secondhand whitegoods store. "Hi, I've moved into a new house and I've now got an extra washing machine. Do you want it? And as long as you're here, can you help us move a fridge?" (That's what you call putting your feminine wiles to work.) The guy agreed to come by this morning "between 9 and 10" to pick up the washing machine and help us move stuff. By 9am the Snook and I had emptied the fridge into a cooler, unhooked all the washer connections, and shifted all three appliances into place near their respective front doors. Then we waited. And we waited. And he didn't turn up. At 10am I rang the shop again to find out where he was. The guy who answered didn't know: "He hasn't gotten in to work yet." He asked if we could stay til 11:30. "Uh, we've both already taken time off to be here NOW. That really sucks." So as I stood there, fuming, something snapped. "F*** IT. WE'RE MOVING THEM OURSELVES." Thus, fueled with the kind of adrenaline that only comes of being screwed by a service professional, the Snook and I got to work. And folks, we moved both washing machines and that fridge (up six stairs!) with only a two-wheeled trolley and the sweat of our own brows. It was glorious. I'll probably be sore tomorrow, but today I feel like a superwoman.
Oh, and the washing machine guy finally turned up 45 minutes late. He took the old washer and gave us $100 credit at the shop. Better than nothing, I guess!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Me: What is it?
Him: Idol sighting!
Me: No way! Who?
Him: All of 'em! I think they must be staying around here.
Me: What were they doing?
Him: I dunno, going to breakfast probably. I saw the Jazz Man; he was wearing a hat and sunglasses but he wears those on TV so I recognised him. And then I saw this little girl, and I was like, there's another one! So I looked around and then I saw Bad Haircut going up the street.
Me: Nice one.
For what's it worth, I want Natalie to win. Holden's pulling out all the stops for a Matt Corby landslide though...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
This week was our highly-anticipated dinner with Iron Chefs Sakai and Chen at the Observatory Hotel here in Sydney. I was kicking myself the whole time that I'd forgotten to print out the photo of me and Snook dressed as Sakai and Kaga. (And of course, I couldn't print it out at work because the site was down. *grumble*) But that niggling annoyance aside, I was excited and rarin' to go. We met up with Toast and Shan and headed in. We had a small table for four in the back corner of the Globe Bar with a big TV screen right beside us (for watching all the kitchen action). Shan and I took photos of every course, but I'm not going to bother posting them because Not Quite Nigella has written it all up way better than I ever could. Seriously, if you want to see and read about what we ate, go over there. I will say that my favorites were definitely Chen's mud crab soup and his signature mapo tofu, but that my least favorite was the soup that went with the mapo tofu. Afterwards, we all rushed out into the lobby for a chance to get autographs and photos.
Neither of them spoke English very well, so I chose my words carefully. "Chef Sakai, do you know 'Halloween'?" I asked as I approached. "Halloween, yes!" he said cheerfully. "I WAS YOU!" I blurted out. "And him," pointing at the Snook, "he was CHAIRMAN KAGA!" They laughed and laughed.
Final tally of weird/unfamiliar stuff that I ate that I never would've eaten five years ago: salmon mousse, braised carp, caviar, jellyfish, calamari, sea urchin roe, foie gras, kinugasa mushrooms, mud crab (with roe), lobster tail, and shark fin (we guessed there was some in the soup I didn't care for). And while all that sounds really exotic, the dishes weren't really "out there." It's not like I had a pile of any of those things; they were mostly used in tiny amounts as interesting flavours or textures. I had the definite impression that the Chefs were toning down the weirdness factor for Western palates. (Case in point: Sadly, no fish ice cream.) Anyway, I've posted a few more photos from our table after the jump. [more...]
Friday, November 9, 2007
Man, that was annoying. I got up Tuesday morning and opened up my site to see... nothing. Forbidden errors everywhere. You know; you saw them too. I fired off a quick support email to my hosting provider asking what was up. I got a reply back pretty quickly informing me that my site had been the target of a DDOS attack for the previous 72 hours, and they'd eventually been forced to shut it down because I was knocking all the other sites off my shared server. The support person claimed that access was now restored. This was not the truth. Not only could I not see the site, I couldn't ssh or ftp to it either. I was able to get to the access logs though.
There are some assholes in this world, let me tell you. Some person (or persons) is hitting my comment submission page upwards of 70,000 times a day. Luckily my little "captcha" question does a great job of keeping them off the site. Not a single one actually made it into the database. Unfortunately whoever has turned on this firehose doesn't actually care whether their comments make it through or not. I've been explaining it like this: Say someone is prank calling your house every ten seconds. You've got caller ID so you know not to pick up the phone, but your phone line is still tied up the entire time. Plus it costs you time and effort to look at the number every time it rings. My php script was filtering them, but it was using up too much processing power to do it. I needed to block them before they got to the filter. Unfortunately they were changing IP addresses every couple hundred requests (mostly using open relays in Bulgaria and Turkey) so I couldn't just block them outright. Finally the Snook and I hit upon a solution. It involves mod_security, an Apache module that allows me to set rules and kill bad requests before they tie up my system. So far it seems to be working. They're still pointing the firehose at me, but hopefully I'm deflecting the worst of it.
So the upshot is - I've changed to Quadra Hosting, which is based here in Australia. I don't begrudge my old host for turning off the site, but I am annoyed that they took 72 hours to give me access to my files. (No, I didn't have a recent backup. Yes, I know this is stupid.) That's why commenting is still restricted; even though they gave me ftp access, they've still locked down that particular file. Anyway, we seem to be back in business. I'll hopefully have commenting back on as soon as possible. Thanks for hanging in there!
Monday, November 5, 2007
* You're going to get a lot of these, because I have nothing else to talk about until IRON CHEF on Wednesday night...
So I write this on the couch from the new house, having spent our first night here. It was weird. I still can't believe this place is really going to be ours, and theoretically we could live here for the rest of our lives. There's still so much more to do. But the kettle is boiling, the cat just pooped in her litter box, and I've got to get ready for work. We're adjusting.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Moving Day has finally arrived, so I thought I'd tell all you little children the magical tale of how we found the house. On September 1st, the Snook and I headed out for another day of looking at apartments. I was still a little bummed out about losing the (first) Google job, but I was trying to be optimistic. We had a list of half a dozen places to check out, and we thought we might swing by an auction in the afternoon (just to get an idea of how they work). One of our first stops was at Renwick Street in Redfern, to look at some new flats that had just been built. They were fantastic. (I can't find a link now; looks like they've all been snapped up.) Huge 3 bedroom flats, very modern, all very cool. And the price was definitely right. (Under $600K.) It was tempting. We spent the new couple of hours trying to decide whether we wanted to live in Redfern. The location wasn't great (right off Regent Street), but supposedly the 'Fern is going to be the next big real estate hotspot. We debated. After lunch, we decided at the last minute to check out the auction in Chippendale. I noticed as we walked over that there was an older woman ahead of us that seemed to be going in the same direction. The three of us rode up in the lift together, and all three of us got the same cold shoulder from the agent when he discovered we weren't there to bid. I heard her asking him what he expected the property to sell for. I thought it was a decent flat, and if we'd known about it a month earlier, we might have gone for it. Anyway, we decided not to stick around and headed back to the elevator. The woman was in there with us. "So, are you two looking to buy?" she asked conversationally. "Oh yes," we said. "How many bedrooms?" "Welll... ideally 3, but whether we can afford that in the area is a different story." "We're selling a 3 bedroom," she said. "Would you like to see it?" So she led us back down the street... and straight to our own apartment. Or rather, the apartment RIGHT NEXT DOOR. We looked at each other. "You're JOKING." [more...]
Friday, November 2, 2007
Last night I finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (as recommended by crumpet). Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT! I tore through this immensely fun story in less than a week. I liked it way more than American Gods, mostly because that story was so full of obscure mythological figures that I was constantly worried I was missing references. Anansi Boys, on the other hand, is fairly self-contained and I could just enjoy the story. I really liked that it was set in a world that I could recognize (sometimes too well - hello London!) yet there are other realities only a hairs-breadth away from us. Stuff is just constantly! happening! and then it all comes together neatly at the end. I heartily recommend it, especially if you like a little bit of fantasy. I just have one question though - what the hell was the deal with the lime? :)
Also note: Wikipedia says that the BBC World Service will be broadcasting an adaptation on November 17 starring Lenny Henry and Matt Lucas. Now I just have to figure out how to record it.
Confession: I've been playing World of Warcraft. I know, I know. I tried it last year but didn't get hooked. Rodd plays it all the time though and, well, I enjoy spending time with him. So when he recently griped about the lack of smart players in his guild group, I put my hand up and volunteered. So far I'm just playing once a week. (We refer to Thursdays as "Pew-Pew Night!") We got our characters up to level 10 last night, which means that you can now see me on the online "armory". No, I have no idea what any of that stuff means. I just let the Snook (aka Droso) lead me around so I can blast stuff. I told him my only requirement is that I don't want to do anything insultingly girly, like be a healer or a cook or something. (Which is why my chick is learning "skinning.") Oh, and her name is "Cynara," which comes from that stupid book.
Edited to Add: They're heeeeere! Ranco Solid and Ranco Multi. Unfortunately the colour cards we have don't do the yarn justice at all, so you really need to see them in person to fully appreciate how pretty they are!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
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