Dataclysm

I hear a lot about the dangers of all that personal data we’re feeding the internet these days and I’ve always been a bit perplexed. Sure, be careful what you put out there but it’s hard to imagine being able to pull much sense out of random clicks, let alone use it for nefarious purposes. (I have to concede it does work though. I see a lot of those targeted ads for craft stuff and travel. Y’all, the internet knows me creepily well.)

So I found Dataclysm by Christian Rudder fascinating. Hey, I guess you can get some sense from those random clicks. A lot of his examples are from OKCupid but there are also some from Twitter and Google. In case the prospect of online daters being representative of humanity worries you a little. (Not that I’m opposed to online dating; I think about it sometimes then I remember how many jerks apparently live on the internet.) And it’s a nifty change from all those coin flipping, dice rolling, card shuffling examples you see in most general interest math books. (A person could start wondering if all mathematicians have gambling problems.)

Seeing as I’m such a nerd, I kind of wished there was more detail about the data and methodology, but I suppose that would be wishing it was a different sort of book. It’s aimed at non-math nerds who aren’t sure how the internet is spying on us. Many charts and few equations.

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Winter Light

I was sulking the other day (uh, week, whatever) about how the November gloom was harshing my sweater photography and lo, the sun came out for a little while.

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A sweater picture! Is the universe taking complaints? Because if so I have some more.

This is #13 Yoke Detail Sweater from an old Debbie Bliss Magazine (don’t you love when they go all out with the names?) Except I knit mine in the round because I cannot understand why you would ever knit a yoke sweater in pieces. Now the original is knit in silk so I can see the wish for some stabilizing seams but I feel like the actual answer there is to make something else with your silk. I subbed Rowan Felted Tweed which gave me an almost preternaturally light and airy sweater. I think maybe this is what ghosts would wear if they needed sweaters.

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with the yoke:

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(Although perhaps less pleased with the T shirt underneath. Layering is hard!)

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Oh, November

You know why Canadians have Thanksgiving in October? Because surely no one can be expected to summon up much gratitude in late November. Black Friday is surely more aptly named. It’s dark and grey and not yet Christmas, whatever the mall may want you to believe. I’ve been meaning to show y’all my new and improved no longer strangley sweater but naturally there’s no light ever and I can’t get a shot that’s not full of November Gloom and Woe.

Instead I took this shot of my new sweater in progress with some Hudson Bay stripes to liven things up.

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Racing stripes and cables make everything better! Even dark November evenings.

Pattern is Loden, which is not difficult as such but requires attention every. single. round. We’ll see how long I can keep that up.

Wishing y’all a dark and sombre Black Friday tomorrow. (Maybe I could get a deal on one of those sunshine replacement lights?)

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My Real Children

Have I ever told y’all how I love Jo Walton? In a non-creepy way, of course, where I swoon over her books, not where I skulk around outside her house with binoculars. These are for, um, birdwatching.

Anyway, I’ve been busy reading My Real Children and swooning. I don’t know how to talk about the plot without without making it sound kind of out there, but part of my Jo Walton love is how she can make a WTF-sounding premise work. So we have Patricia who has two lives; one where she marries a guy who sucks and is an unhappy housewife and one where she is a lesbian who writes travel books and owns a house in Italy. It kind of seems like the moral is going to be “Don’t marry that guy” but of course it’s not that simple. Because in the Woeful Bad Marriage universe the wold is mostly doing okay. But in the Happy Lesbian Italy universe things are going badly wrong in the background. Like, nuclear bombs kind of wrong.

I love, love, love when the world seems bigger than what the story strictly requires and I love here how so many things are clearly happening off-stage that get passing mention. I was almost trying to shush the characters to listen to the news. What moon base? Nuclear strikes where? When? President Kennedy what now? Shush guys, this is important.

The premise also appeals to the indecisive part of me that always wonders about my alternate lives where maybe I majored in Geology or moved to New York or took up archery or something. One life just doesn’t seem enough sometimes.

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Front Burnered

I generally have some kind of back burner knitting going on, something I can pick up without doing a whole lot of thinking and counting. Vanilla socks, a plain sleeve, something like that. Thanksgiving weekend came with a long train ride and nothing on the back burner so I started a yoke sweater the night before, instead of packing or whatever normal people do.

It cruised along in the background, on the bus, in front of the TV, until last weekend when I was seized by the desire to actually finish the thing.

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Success! That’s a bit of the yoke? Pretty, no?

Alas, I may have gotten a little carried away and bound off really. freaking. tightly. So tonight I’ll be ripping out the neck and building my character. (Is it still character building if I drink while doing it? I’m, uh, asking for a friend.)

Impending new sweater! Stay tuned!

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The Cure for Dreaming

The other day I stepped into a coffee shop and pulled out my latest library book, The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters, with the intention of reading a couple of chapters and being on my way. Then it completely sucked me in. Was I going to do errands or something? Nah, I’ll just keep reading.

It starts off at a hypnotist show in 1900 Oregon where Olivia is celebrating her birthday after being pelted with eggs at a suffragist rally. (Incidentally, I realize egging is A Thing but I don’t get it. So wasteful. Think of all the omelets and angel food cakes they could have made with those eggs instead.) Word about the suffragist portion of the evening gets back to her father, who is a perfect example of why old timey dentists are scary. (I need to stop procrastinating about making a dentist appointment. At least my dentist doesn’t use leeches.)

Anyway, the father decides it would be a genius idea to hire the hypnotist to “cure” his “rebellious” daughter. (Pro-tip: if you need to hypnotize people into agreeing with you it’s probably time to rethink your argument. Also, you are deeply creepy.)

While it seems a bit unsporting to nitpick a book after such an awesome coffee shop date, I did find myself wishing it was a little less black and white about suffragist = awesome and anti-suffragist = evil. It’s pretty hard to sympathize with someone who opposes votes for women, but I’m willing to cut a bit of slack for people in the olden days who might be misguided. Otherwise there would just be so much evil floating around, considering there was controversy about this. That can’t be right surely?

On a brighter note, it kind of has me wanting to get my bike out again. Maybe that’s what I’ll do instead of calling the dentist.

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The Demon in the Freezer

Y’all! How have you been? I’ve been off gallivanting. I meant to take a bunch of fabulous pictures to show you, dutifully packed my camera, then … never used it once. Um, how about we say I was busy doing top secret spy stuff? Sounds plausible, yes?

Anyway, while I was out being photographically negligent, I was also reading The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston in keeping with the spirit of Halloween. It’s about smallpox with a side of anthrax, not the supernatural kind of demons but I think perhaps infectious diseases get some bonus marks on the scary front on account of being indisputably real.

If I have occasion to think of smallpox, I generally think of it as an old-timey thing like slide rules or ladies’ evening gloves. I seem to recall a couple of conversations where I brought it up a a hazard of time travel since we have fuck all immunity nowadays. (Are time travellers ever quarantined? I can’t believe science fiction has overlooked this, but I can’t think of an example offhand.) I hadn’t really thought what a stellar accomplishment eradicating smallpox was but it absolutely is.

Then I had to answer Ebola screening questions to get back into the country. Scary stuff, indeed. (While I’m not personally worried about catching Ebola, it’s worrisome nevertheless.)

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