The morality of work

So, I am preparing to join the world of work. I’m in the enviable position of having two job offers, and I think I’ve made my decision. The main difficulty that I’m having is that I’ve started the paperwork for the job I’ve now decided not to take,  and I feel extremely guilty about that.

I know that I have to chose the job that will suit me better in the long term,  and that the job I turn down won’t be on my employment history,  but I feel that you should also honour your promises, and I feel I did make a promise.

The job I have started the paperwork on is highly reputable,  and interesting,  but the one I’ll accept has more responsibility and honestly,  a much better title.  It also already has 3 years of funding lined up, while the other only has one lined up.

I know what I’ve decided, but I have to work up the guts to turn down my first acceptance.

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Anathem

I started reading this book at my brother’s while I was visiting to meet my new nephew. The book really does go all over the place with math and philosophy and science fiction. But it all starts with odd religious over tones. A cloistered community with each member only having three possessions, which only interacts with the outside world every 10 years. So it starts out feeling very calm, and hushed, and almost dusty.

By the end though, there has been a trans-polar voyage, not-quite aliens, the most interesting space flight ever,  and parallel realities that converge, with individuals remembering those alternate truths.

Just remembering the story makes me so ire because as disjointed as it seems from the description above, it all flows in a very natural and believable way from the cloister to the conclusion.

Another interesting aspect is that at three points in the story, there are ‘scalas’ – diversions from the main story to a detailed lesson (between the characters)  about mathematical theories. I don’t know if they are fully necessary to the story, particularly the first one, though I read and enjoyed them.

I think the author originally wrote them into the text,  and the editor felt they were too much detail, so they compromised and put them as ‘optional reading’.

This is definitely a thinking book, and not a breeze through it just for the story. But definitely worth the time.

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Jay and Silent Bob Are Getting Old

So Dave and I went to a live broadcast of a podcast and Q and A with Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) last night.  This sounds sorta strange, but here’s the explanation. They were at the Scotia Bank Cinema in downtown Toronto (we wanted to go there, but it was sold out).  We were at a theatre closer to our place, and it was being simulcast to about 200 other theatres in North America.  I guess that doesn’t actually explain it better, but whatever. This is what it was:

These guys were so funny.  Extremely raunchy, and with lots of swearing, but so funny. It always amuses me that my mild mannered husband loves the most foul-mouthed humour. He doesn’t swear, but really likes it when others do that for him.

If I must give an overall description of the night, it would be about Snappy and Snipper and tortoise rape, or maybe just tortoise mating (“But maybe Snipper liked it,” Jay kept saying), and how Squeeky the hamster should have been named Pink Nuts – you know, cause he had huge pink nuts that he had to drag around with him.

High class?  No.  Not at all.  Amazingly hilarious? Yes, absolutely.  Remembering you got in using Scene Points?  Priceless

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The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin

Now,  I usually read books for their stories, rather than their themes.  But when reading this book, the comparison between the two settings – socialism (which was referred to as anarchism) vs capitalism – was so obvious and all consuming that I almost didn’t even notice the climax.

It just felt like the author had a point to make and then decided that the best way to make the readers think about it was to beat them over the head with it until all that there was was this social commentary.

It was an interesting premise – twin planets, with the older one being capitalist, and the more recently settled being isolationist and socialist.  And someone decided to go back from the isolated planet to their “home” planet – the first to person to go back in the 170 years of the colony.

The story goes back and forth between the main character growing up, and getting to the point of leaving his planet, and him being on this other planet.  All the rebellion that took almost 40 years to develop at home, he repeats within about 2 years being on the other planet, so it has some nice parallels.

But I didn’t much enjoy the book.  The copy that I got from the library had clearly been used by someone who was a student of literature, who was analyzing all the differences between the locales, and it distracted me.  But even so, I understand why I didn’t finish it when I tried to read it years ago.  It’s just too dry.

I loved LeGuin’s EarthSea Cycle (I think I will add it to my “To Read” list in fact…) but I felt that there was much more storyline going on there, and much less preaching.  Or maybe it’s still there, and I didn’t notice it because I was younger.

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Afghan update

So, the last time I mentioned my Forever and Ever Afghan, it was October, and I’d finished 3 squares.  I have been chugging along mightily since then, mostly since after Christmas.  I won’t give a blow by blow of when I got everything done, but there are 7 new squares finished, and I’m working on a beautiful blue cable square right now.

So, without further ado:

So, the purple one beside the blue has the same pattern, the camera just didn’t pick it up well.

I’m trying to decide if I should block and sew together pieces as I go, or just do it all in one painful swoop at the end. I think it’ll be more even if I do it all at once, but I think I might go crazy doing all that piecing together.

But I’m 20% done, more done than I’ve ever been before, and I haven’t run out of steam.  But I do want to do socks soon.  I may have to steal a needle from my mum.

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Tracks in the snow

Last week, as I headed out for a run, there was a dusting of snow on the ground.  It was my third run that week, I was feeling good, and I ready to do a nice 5km run.  The whole time I was out, snow was gently drifting down.  It was only -2 or -3°C, and there were very few people out, and I didn’t hit any traffic lights, and it was bright and beautiful out.

When I was coming back to my house, I saw my tracks from the way out in the snow on the path.  There were boots and running shoes, and then there were mine, that looked like footprints.

And I thought of the other people who had gone along that path, and wondered if they’d noticed, and thought that there was someone out there, wandering barefoot on a snowy Friday morning.

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Realistic

So, my husband has been at me for the past couple days to organize our hats/mitts/gloves shelf in our closet, and because I’ve been reading financial blogs, and they keep on saying you should “declutter,” I decided to actually take a look at what I have in there.

This is all the winter hats, mitts, and scarves my husband and I own.  Actually my husband has a pair of earmuffs as well, but they went with him to work.  Belonging to my husband are the Olympic mitts and the black gloves at the bottom of the page.  Everything else is mine.

I have 7 scarves, 7 hats, and 4 sets of mitts/gloves/hand warmers.  And to make it worse?  5 of the hats are associated with running.  FIVE!!!  I think I have to get rid of two right now just to make myself feel like less of a glutton.

Ok, down to 5 hats total.  I think that’s a bit better.

But the point of this is that I feel that I just have too much stuff.  I don’t need any new pants or sweaters or shirts.  I don’t need any new vases or appliances.  If I get something new, I feel that I really need to be getting rid of something that I already have.  I have a storage tub in the basement full of shirts that I haven’t worn since I moved here three years ago.  Someone else might want them, because I haven’t missed not having them.

But what do you do about items that you “can’t” give away? The extra appliances people get you for Christmas presents, or that ornamental clock that REALLY isn’t to your taste that you got at your wedding shower.

Is it realistic to just keep on collecting things forever?  For people to think that you’ll keep things forever?

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Finished, and what that means

So, I completed my thesis defence on December 6th, my thesis was accepted by my supervisor on the 16th,  I submitted my thesis on the 22nd or so, and I finished paying the last $1600 in tuition in early January.

Now, I’m unemployed.  The job market right now is less than fabulous, and I do have certain requirements for a job, so although I’m applying for jobs daily, there are only so many jobs out there that I’m currently willing to apply for.  This will probably change if it’s been 2 or 3 months without a nibble, but for now, I’m trying for research-type positions that are more (or less) within my field, and involve interacting with people, rather than just animals or cells.

It’s not that I’m opposed to animals or cells, it’s just that when you talk to them, they don’t reply.  Or at least… they shouldn’t reply.  Mice talking back to you is not a good sign (unless you’re trying to teach them human language…)

My biggest problem is that it’s sorta lonely and boring to be at home by myself everyday. Sure, I COULD go to a coffee shop, but I’d rather tea that I can get for cheaper at home.  I want to see people, but right now all my people are busy.  I guess I just feel a little lost right now.

I’ve set myself up to either go for a run or do some weight training everyday.  I’m trying to write here regularly.  I have a goal of applying for 2 jobs a day, and adding 2-3 jobs to my list every day.  But that isn’t enough to fill my day.

When (if) I start getting interviews that will start filling my days more, but until then, I have to keep myself optimistic and getting out of bed in the morning.  Before 8am would be really nice.

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Presents for myself

So much of what I knit last year ended up being given away.  I knit my first pair of two at a time socks, and gave them to my nephew.  I knit my second pair of two at a time socks, and in December, ended up giving them to my mum (they were too tight on my calves, so I was going to rip out the legs, but they fit her perfectly).  I knit two wedding shawls, and of course gave them to their respective brides. I made my husband a Domo-kun for his birthday (ok, that’s crochet, but close enough), and one of my best friends got “red is best” socks for hers. Then, I started on the baby stuff.  Socks for a cousin (the purplish ones, further down), and a whole set of things for my new niece or nephew. Finally, for Christmas I made my husband (and I) Christmas stockings.

What all this adds up to is that of the 14 items I finished in the past year, I got to keep two (my running head band and my Christmas stocking).  Well, I had my socks for most of the year, I’ll call it two and a half.  I decided that this year I have to be a little more greedy.  It was greed that was long planned for.  It is greed that is warm.

For my birthday last year, I got gift certificates to Romni from my mother-in-law, and a book called “Weekend Knitting” from one of my girlfriends.  I was immediately drawn to a brioche hat and neck warmer set.  But I had all that other knitting to do for other people, so it was put on hold.  But I found some fabulous discounted Noro Bonbori.  I’d been thinking of doing the Noro Scarf, but thought that combining the Noro colours with a brioche pattern was just too much for me to refuse.

Then I actually looked at the pattern, and realized that Brioche is sorta slow.  I found this video.  I was immediately in love.  After the colour work I’d been doing with the Christmas stockings, I’d already gotten the hang of knitting two handed.  The most important part is to complete a knit round (by itself), and then going on to the double dutch.  I also found that instead of actually wrapping my left hand (purling) yarn, I just left it in front of the left needle (because it’s a yo anyway) and knit underneath both strands with my right hand yarn.

Anyhow, I did the neck warmer first, because it has no decreases.

Nice straight brioche stitch, and look at this colour combination.  I was in LOVE

But because it’s Noro, you never really know what colours you’ll end up with, or which colours will end up together.  My warm and fuzzy masterpiece of a neck warmer!

I think I finished it in 3 days. I’m sure I cast off while watching Saturday Night Live, or maybe whatever comes on after it.  I just had to finish it.

I then moved onto the hat, which I finished in 4 days?  5?  Either way, the decreases have to be done one strand at a time, and when they say knit 8 inches for brim, they mean it.  I did less than that.  I bound it off. I cut the tail.  The hat didn’t cover my ears.  I had to carefully remove the tail from the top 8 stitches, tie the cut off end to the ball, and rip the entire thing.  I hadn’t thought to put a life line in before starting the decreases.

So I knit it again, and this time, there was much joy, because the brim was long enough to cover my ears.

So, although I love my hat, I thought I was buying purple and green yarn, not purple and PINK yarn. This became a bit of a problem at the crown of the hat, where you can see that I was knitting pink on red.

Now, even with a hat and neck warmer, I was not satisfied.  I wanted something for my hands.  So I decided to make myself some fingerless gloves – two at a time (works surprisingly well with brioche), and still doing that two handed technique.

I wound my two balls, and used the inside strand of each to cast on, and then added the outside strand from the OPPOSITE ball for my second colour. Cause I just like to make life difficult for myself =-) This worked really well colour-wise, but not so well tangle-wise.  Each round that I knit created an additional twist between the two balls, and I couldn’t figure out how to untwist them (if that was even possible).  At one point, I had to give up, cut two strands and untangle the mess.

I made thumb holes by casting off 4 stitches (in pattern), and then casting on 4 (in pattern, including the yo’s) in the next round.  My favourite part of these is that at the finger tips, the colours are similar enough to make it clear that they match

And I always wear them as shown, so that the colours are inverted.  I like that they match, but aren’t identical.  I guess this can be said of the entire set, I had plans, but the yarn, it had its own ideas.

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Since last time

So there has been a break in the updating, but to a certain extent that should be at least slightly expected during the Christmas break. I have the finishing details of my stockings to show, a new hat/neck warmer/wristy-gloves set done (which I love and am somewhat worried about washing…), and two more squares of my forever and ever afghan. But because this is going to be so image intensive, I want to make sure that they aren’t huge and taking forever to load, so I have to play with Photoshop for a bit first. 3Mb for a picture is just a bit much…

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Ok, so that wasn’t so painful after all. And uploading is SO much faster. And I think the colours will be better… and hey, I even figured out how to set my upload folder.  It’s sad that I’ve been doing that manually for so long.

So just before Christmas, I realized that with all the stranding inside the stockings, they couldn’t be used as-is. So I bought this massive red felt Christmas bag from the dollar store (it was actually cheap material unfortunately, very thin in some places) and ripped out all the seams. I folded it in half, and pinned the stocking to it.

I then did the very obvious cutting around the stocking (while being paranoid that I would cut all my hard work to pieces), and sewed the cloth into a sock liner.  I don’t have a sewing machine (seriously, where could I fit it in this house?) , so it was whip stitch to get it all together.

Once that was done, I turned the stocking inside out, and shoved it inside the lining.  I attached it at the top all around, and a couple stitches at the toe.  Fortunately the sewing can’t be seen from the outside.

And then I hung the stockings with care.  No fireplace, so just in the TV room.  This last picture is our house on Christmas morning, and all the gifts we were giving.  The stockings are hiding on the right.

The thing I’m most concerned about is the loop that I made for the stockings, I just don’t trust them to support their weights fully loaded.  And the plastic hooks we’re using might not support that much either.  Luckily, this year the stockings were not too heavy, but I do worry about next year.

I think I’ll end this part of the review with what has become a tradition in our house.  On Christmas morning, we have créme brulée.  I use a super easy recipe, but I’m thinking I’m going to have to upgrade to pre-warming the cream next year – we’re both starting to notice the grainy-ness.

Ok, so there’s my Christmas round up.  I promise, there will be something involving Reading, Running or Knitting next time.

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