Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sup y'all

Book Lover's Problems:

I want to read them both NOW RIGHT NOW. Have you seen the trailer for Beautiful Creatures? Fan-fucking-tastic. There are several movies I'm excited for in 2013:
Beautiful Creatures
The Host
The End of the World
World War Z
Side Effects
Plus more, but especially these.

Not that I have much time for reading these days. We finished hanging drywall in the living room last night, then promptly spent all night bailing out the sump well since the pump broke. Really. Phil and I both got two hours of not-sleep, and spent the rest of the night hauling the wet/dry vac around.

That is the newly empty well, with the newly installed sump pump, big enough to hold several bodies. I never thought it could be so awesome that Home Depot opens at 6am. I installed the pump myself! It wasn't that cool, actually, it was gross. But still proud of my handiwork. =]

And let me tell you, sump pumps are one seriously underappreciated piece of magic. There should be a Sump Pump Appreciation Day, where the world makes ritual sacrifices to keep the Basement Gods appeased.

This happened.

I ordered Doctor Who yarn from Etsy. There are so many beautiful handpainted yarns posted there. This one is from SeeJaneKnitYarns, it's called Mad Man With a Box. I'm really excited to get it. I also got fancy circular knitting needles for Christmas to help me with my double-pointed needle deficiency. Can't wait to make fingerless gloves!

Image via here.
Have a picture of my cat.

Odin. Also known as Odie, Dopie, Asshat, and Peanut.

Or I should say, my father's cat. Little traitor. He plays fetch, usually with little paper balls, but he figured out that if he drags the pouch of cat treats around someone will eventually give him one because that's just so damn cute. He also had catnip for the first time on Christmas. He was chewing his leg for half an hour.

I had a really fantastic pile of gifts from Christmas. =] Just trust me, they were fantastic. The annoying part is that they're spread between four houses right now, so they are never where I am. Still working on that. Other people liked the gifts Phil and I gave them too. I think families exchange gifts on Christmas so they hate each other a little less when they have to spend time in cramped quarters with no escape. It worked. Christmas was bearable, not as bad as I dreaded. Glad it's over though. Now I can enjoy my new knitting needles and boots and cookbooks with a clear mind. Except for that little house-overhaul. That takes up most of my brain power these days.

All in all, happy, and tired.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Control Won't Help

Despite the overwhelming evidence that people are stupid lugnuts without two brain cells to rub together (i.e., Christmas shopping season), people, in fact, are very smart. Have you ever seen a prison documentary where they show various shivs that have been confiscated? It is incredible the creativity and resourcefulness that went into obtaining and making these makeshift knives. All while they are seemingly under constant supervision. Preventing the general populace from owning guns won't prevent crime any more than Prohibition prevented alcohol comsumption. Adding software and DRM to dvds and cds did not and does not prevent people from ripping them anyway. No matter what the media companies come out with, some one out there is always smarter.

I am on the side of Mental Health reform. Because this country does shit to handle these things. I work in the city, and everyday I pass someone dirty and smelling of piss muttering to themselves and shambling down the sidewalk like a zombie. It's a horrible thing to see, especially when if someone, anyone, had taken any kind of interest in getting the right people the right help, it could have been prevented.

Most of everyone has already spoken about the Sandy Hook shootings, much more eloquently than I could. I only want to link to a few people who said it particularly well.

I Was One of the Scary Kids
How Close are we to More Killings?
Health Care, Mass Murder, and So On

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

There is this wonderful, rare feeling you can get when you open up certain books. That utterly happy, floating, lost-in-the-world-of-the-book feeling. When a favorite author publishes something new, or when the long-awaited final installment of a series is finally out... It's all the comfort of an old re-read, even though you are reading it for the first time.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore ( BN | GR ) by Robin Sloan did that for me. It's a book for book lovers. But it's funny. And heartwarming. In my whirlwind life right now, this was just the book I needed. When everything gets crazy I start reading a chapter and ditching the book, reading a chapter and ditching the book, over and over again. (The last book I finished was back in October. Terrible!) I have a bad habit of sticking to a reading list for way longer than I should, so that by the time I get around to reading a book my interest in it has already waned and died, and that is no way to read a book. The good thing is, I'm getting better at recognizing this, and am making an effort to finish a book, and then pick up the book I am most interested in right now. I knew I needed something great, and I'm glad this is what I picked up.

You can follow Robin Sloan at his website (sparse), twitter, and goodreads page, which has a live interview they did the other day. My Mom-sub-2 listened to the audiobook and loved it (great narrator). She's the one who recommended it to me. And after buying the hardcover and taking the slipcover off to read it, I realized the cover glows in the dark!! The meh-yellow-boring cover suddenly became awesome!

A synopsis, from BN:
A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore
        The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
        With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

It's all about the clash between new technology and old. E-books and print books. Secret societies. Quirky bookstore owners that remind me of Dumbledore. High-level computing and parallel processing and rudimentary books scanners made out of cardboard. Role-playing games and old friendships. Immortality, and that book about dragons you read so many times as a kid the cover fell apart (you know which one I'm talking about). And funny! It's the next installment to the fandom of books. If you liked Among Others by Jo Walton and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, you'll like this one too.

You can't break this book down into character, setting, and plot to analyze it. It won't hold up. Everyone aside from the main character is one-dimensional, the romance is wooden and convenient, the quest is traditional and herky-jerky. But, my friends, "the magic is in the creation." Focus on what this book is about. It's an homage to everything you loved as a child: the books, the video games, the boobs, the quirky old man who owned a bookstore. In no other book could "ERROR 404 PAGE NOT FOUND" make you laugh, or invoking your old Dragonlance character name make you nod in understanding.

It's so hard to describe this to you. I'm trying to break it down into something tangible and snarky when really all I have to say is READ THIS BOOK. Then you will understand. The magic of this book is not in any single part, but it's how it makes you feel and how it warms your heart while you read it. As a matter of fact, if I had to tie one word to this book it would be "heartwarming." Buy it for the book-lover in your life. Buy it for yourself and pass it around to all your friends, but make sure you get it back because you'll want to re-read it again and again.

I also want to mention: read this book with a pencil in hand. It is littered with underline-worthy gems you'll want to remember. They are a mix of contemporary and pop culture and just lyrical, beautiful writing. One of my favorites not included in the Goodreads Quote page (it doesn't stand alone as well as it is a zinger at the end of the chapter):

This is Mat's secret weapon, his passport, his get-out-of-jail free-card: Mat makes things that are beautiful.

Reading Next: The Time Traveler's Wife

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Goddammit, I WILL learn how to knit!

This skill just... eludes me. My fingers cramp and everything gets progressively tighter until I can't even get the loops over the needles and then I miss a stitch somewhere and there's a fucking HOLE I have to stare at for the rest of the damn project....

I bought the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern. Those cute little hexipuffs are damn difficult. And then I found this help video, which would have been great except her fingers look as clumsy as mine and that isn't helpful. I will figure it out eventually.

I really want to make fingerless gloves. They're awesome, and damn expensive in the store for something I only kindof like. I tried last winter, but it was a bit small and I only made one... so once again not helpful. I may try this pattern, easy and simple and a good thing to learn from, I'm sure. But "easy" is not really my style. I don't know how to jump into the shallow end of things. Because how cool are these gloves?! They have OWLS on them! And this pair would be my first choice, but yeah WOW way out of my pay grade. This pair is pretty neat too, I love the gray/blue pair.

This website seems to be the best from everything I've found. Clear instructional videos that tackle one thing and that I can actually understand, plus there seem to be videos on absolutely everything I could possibly want to know.

Decorative stitches!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why so silent?


I know. It's unbelievable. September 26th, I thought I was doomed to live at home forever. There wasn't even talk of moving out yet. I was trying to push for an apartment, but P was having none of that. September 27th, we drove by the most perfect house, called our friend's mom (who's a realtor) that very night, and said "Make it happen."

And it happened!

We are currently renovating. Three cracked layers of plaster and no insulation in the entire house. And wood paneling. OH, THE WOOD PANELING. In every color you can imagine. Let me tell you, it's a mess. The place probably had the same decor since it was built in 1940. And man, did it have the stains to prove it. But the house was filled with beautiful, sturdy wood, and the layout is great.

BEFORE - Left bedroom. I don't even know what to say about this wallpaper/carpet combo.
BEFORE - Right bedroom. If we had a little boy, the sailboats would actually be cute. But we don't. And the walls had to come down anyway. And the wood paneling could never be cute.
This is in the middle of ripping down the walls.

The rooms currently look like this, but at least the dust has settled since then.
 The living room is all ripped out as well. We are going to caulk all the bazillion little holes and spaces, then redo a bunch of the wiring (there isn't much light in the entire house, and the outlets need ground wires), then add some insulation, and walls, and then comes time to PAINT!!! (Guess which part I'm excited for.) But the whole house has wood flooring that's just been sitting underneath the carpet, so we plan to sand and refinish the floors.

Have I mentioned we're doing all of this ourselves?

Once the two bedrooms and the living room is done (and I'd like to paint the dining room as well, but we don't have to rip down the walls there because there is nowhere we need to add insulation, the only outside wall is almost completely taken up by a window) we get to move in!!! And then more renovations, like the other two bedrooms and the kitchen and the bathroom (and the basement, and the workshop...). It's going to take a while. But let me tell you, when it's done, it's going to be AMAZING. There are a lot of rooms, so there are lots of steps, but it makes the projects a bit more manageable.

The house is full of all kinds of hidey holes, for instance: there are SIX separate crawl spaces. Lots of storage space! Which is good, because there is not a lot of floor space. One of the reasons we are going all gung-hu on the wiring is so we can add wall sconces to all of the rooms for additional light instead of taking up the floor or tables with lamps.

And did I mention the workshop in the back? P has a great place for all of the brewing equipment him and his friends use, and their patron (an extremely patient sister of the brewing group) can finally get her shed back. He's really excited because the workshop has a little porch with an overhang, so they can brew if it's raining out (which they can't currently do).

Our frat house fridge, full of pizza and beer. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd get sick of my beloved pizza, but holy shit I'm so sick of eating it. It's not even fresh pizza. It's reheated. All the time. UGH.

Our new washer and dryer! And P, hiding in the back. They're BLUE! Bossman says You know you're an adult when you have a new washer and dryer and are EXCITED about it. :) So I'm all growed up now?
 All in all, it's going to be AMAZING. We want to move in by Christmas/New Year. It's definitely feasible. More pictures to come! *Excited!*

Monday, December 3, 2012


Kristin Cashore's handwritten manuscript for Bitterblue, and the four years of hair-pulling it took to write it. I love handwritten notebooks...