September 27, 2010

More Than Meets the Eye

Remember what happened to the last Costco box?

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Soon after this picture was taken, that unwieldy clunker of a box went to the Big Recycling Bin in the Sky. But, as life would have it, I went back to Costco, bought larger amounts of sh*&$t, and came back with an even more unwieldy clunker of a box, a linebacker among boxes.

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Looks like just a cardboard box, no? But looks are deceiving, Dear Readers. It’s no ordinary box; it’s actually a Transformer Box! Yeah, just like those huge cars that turn into huge robots in the movies. Watch.

Pushing a button from my command center...aaaaand here we go. (Imagine clanking of metal on metal, grinding of gears, pounding of pistons, ominous whooshing and screeching sounds, arcing sparks, large puffs of smoke.)

From unremarkable box to...

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...Kitty Kottage!

And three...

two...

one...

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...occupied.

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 PM | Comments (6)

September 26, 2010

Latest Challenge

This weekend's "thing to do from my list of 43 Things" and cooking challenge: Making an artichoke and bacon quiche--or any quiche for that matter, since I've never made one.

Step 1: Learn how to cook bacon.

Step 2: Ta-da!

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Posted by Ryan at 05:56 PM | Comments (11)

September 18, 2010

Jigsaw Purrzle

Joon has recently discovered the top of the microwave which until now has been Benny’s domain. So they’re making do.

There’s the squash-together-facing-forward approach:

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There’s the squash-together-facing-backward approach:

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There’s the drape-miscellaneous-limbs-as-needed approach (Benny’s leg, in this case):

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And Benny’s favorite: Bite Joon until she leaves.

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(Um, yes, that is a particularly soft blanket on top of the microwave. What's your point?)

Posted by Ryan at 09:19 PM | Comments (9)

September 12, 2010

Villagers? What Villagers?

The villagers have solved all the game puzzles and now, well, I don't know how to end the game gracefully so I'm just letting them all die off. It takes a lot of effort to balance the “going inside” and the kids (who have special, necessary skills) and the adults (who have other special, necessary kills) and the training and the chores and the collecting of food and the building of huts and the finding of a new chief (because they die and finding a new one is An Unnecessarily Complicated and Boring Process) for no reason. Still, I’m feeling a twinge of guilt. Which is mind-numbingly stupid because They’re Not Real. In the meantime, while I practice benign neglect, I have two last images to share.

When villagers become 14, they need to be trained for a task. If God / Puppeeter / Madam is busy manically engineering sexual trysts, and the villagers don’t know what to do and get bored, they literally go into the middle of town and lie down.

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In general this makes me laugh, but imagine if real life were like this. We have a three-story atrium in the center of the building where I work, and I can see bored or unfocused employees wandering down to the first floor and lying listessly about under the filtered sunlight until a giant mouse cursor arrives and drags them back to their offices.

Speaking of lying listlessly about, hey, villagers! Am I the only one who sees the three skeletons?

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Macabre but funny, especially since in the game itself the Chief was giving a lecture and the villagers were dancing about with excitement. Very inappropriate behaviour while MeeMaw, PopPops and Auntie lie not three feet away.

Posted by Ryan at 11:44 PM | Comments (5)

September 11, 2010

Um, Ow?

Pruned the Urinal Cake rose again. Things were going swimmingly, and I thought it had forgiven me for last year until an unfortunate incident with a thorn and a nipple. I'm back in the house now, decidedly not gardening. Stupid rose. Die, die, die!!!

Posted by Ryan at 01:41 PM | Comments (3)

September 09, 2010

Virtual Villagers, Part Deux

A couple of other things I’ve learned while being God/Puppeteer/Bordello Madam to my virtual villagers:

• If an old guy and a younger woman, um, “hook up,” it’s entirely possible for the woman to get to the luv hut (there is one specifically for this purpose), go inside, linger, and come out carrying a baby long before the old guy even gets there. As a matter of fact, in my role as omnipotent God/Puppeeter/Madam, I can even interrupt his turtle-slow meander toward the hut and drag him off to do some lame-ass task (which I’m sure he’s not very pleased about because he’s hell bent on gettin’ him some, especially at his age) and she’ll still come out carrying a baby. Somebody needs to explain to these villagers how reproduction really works. Or maybe someone needs to explain to the programmers because there's a very good chance they don't know either.

• The swaddled babies look like insect larvae with human faces. Squicks me out a bit, that.

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• Don’t get too attached to any of the villagers. Easy come, easy go. The cemetery as of today:

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• The character with the unibrow and the Rambo headband has long been under headstone #13 in the cemetery, but we still have a winner in the guy who's balding but still insists on wearing red roses in his hair. You know what they say: It's a look.

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• Okay, since you asked so nicely, a picture of the luv hut. It’s the only one marked with flowers in case, oh, I don't know, the couples forget where to go to have sex.

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Posted by Ryan at 11:55 PM | Comments (3)

September 08, 2010

The Birds and the Bees Go Haywire

I’m long done with the video game “Fate.” Slashed and hacked my way through 50 floors of dungeon, won something pointless—or actually won nothing at all, just a pat on the back from some old caped and pointy-hatted dude and the option to port my character over into the next chapter of the game—abandoned Clementine and turned my attention to new things. That’s how we gamers roll, you know.

Under Erika’s influence (not her direct influence; just something that has floated through the ether from her more northerly location to my more southerly one), I’ve started playing a game called “Virtual Villagers” which is like Sims-Lite-Lite. Maybe even Sims-Lite-Lite-Lite. You have this mysterious island, see?, and these villagers that land on the island, see?, and you have to feed them and keep them healthy and have them build huts, grow trees, harvest edibles, make potions, and solve puzzles. No slashing or hacking involved, although your villagers shuffle off the mortal coil pretty regularly from old age, if you’re doing your job well, or starvation or disease, if you’re not. It’s a pretty tame game all ‘round. However, it’s wreaking havoc with my staunchly feminist morals.

I’m having trouble keeping the population up (no fault of mine; the game keeps popping out baby boys) and you need a biggish population in order to get anything done. Maintaining a healthy labor pool is not helped by the fact that some characters are too young to work, one character is a chief and is allowed to just schlep around, the nursing women don’t work are on maternity leave, the town elders get molasses slow, and then there’s that inconvenient death thing.

In order to increase your population, you have to make a baby. In order to make a baby, you have to drag a male character on top of a female character. Nothing untoward happens; they just—blush—“go inside.” (Which, granted, sounds untoward but it just means they go into a hut to do the naughty.) However, it’s a crapshoot whether or not this actually produces a baby. A lot of times there just seems to be a friends with benefits thing going on. The two characters skulk into a hut and...nothing. Sometimes it doesn’t even get that far because the female character runs away in horror (with me secretly cheering her on, but I may be biased). However, since, as I mentioned, I’m having trouble keeping the population up, out of desperation I sometimes frantically and pimp-like throw one man after another on top of a woman:

“Here, try this one. No? Well, then, try him. No? Well, maybe power does it for you; here, try the village chief. No? Daddy complex? Try this old geezer. Have the cougar thing going on? Here, try this young stud. How about this one? He’s your brother but what the hell. How about him? He’s the same one I flung on you a minute ago but maybe you won’t notice. How about this one? He has a unibrow and wears a Rambo headband but we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here, woman; work with me! Hey, come back here!”

Sometimes I get perversely single-minded about the procedure. If a woman is making a potion or building a hut, both of which are done in crowded spaces which make it hard to throw a man on her with precision, I’ll drag her into the middle of the village where there are no obstructions and start tossing men on her. It’s like The Scarlet Letter in reverse. Also, like some weird, fully clothed and highly unscintillating, tiny cartoon porn.

I finally learned that the women can only have babies between the ages of 18 and 50. Knowing this only helps somewhat because I’m constantly checking to see if some 14-year-old girl has finally turned 18 (time passes fast in this game; people are born, live and die in about three real-time days) and as soon as she does, I immediately drag her into the middle of the village. And if she gets knocked up, I do a gauche fist-pump.

This is all so wrong. I managed to save my soul from eternal damnation by paying for a seed pod on a dead columbine plant, only to succumb to this debauchery.

P.S. The way that people die in the game is not very subtle:

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And then there was this Very Bad Day. This is what happened when I went to the dahlia show and didn’t take my laptop with me:

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Posted by Ryan at 01:17 AM | Comments (10)

September 05, 2010

Les Fleurs

[Very picture-heavy post, Dear Readers. May take a while to load.]

Nothing blogworthy happened on my way down to Canby, although I’m always on the lookout. It was a little startling when, flush with pride at having gotten myself to where I needed to be, at the very last turn I discovered I had somehow arrived at the end of world. The road to Swan Island Dahlias was gone. Well, not so much gone, as blocked off with flashing lights and orange-striped sawhorses, and reduced to gravel and large piles of rubble. If Crazy Ivan had been a horse, he would’ve slid to a startled stop, reared, and pawed the air. However, thanks to some official detour signs and other decidedly unofficial ones saying “This way to the Dahlia Festival,” I found my way to my destination:

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It doesn’t look very impressive in this picture but, as you get closer, you get more of this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…and this:

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Requisite artsy shots:

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This one looks as if it had been stuck in a light socket—bzzzzzzzzzzzt!!!:

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They’re clever, those Swan Island people. This is very much a marketing event for the farm, and they sorely hope you will place your orders for spring tubers then and there. They give you an innocent-looking pencil and an innocent-looking pamphlet listing all the different dahlias and send you out to wander freely around the 40 acres of flowers. (Well, more or less freely. There's a small phalanx of terrifying, Nazi-ish young men who bark at anyone who steps one millimeter off the main path. I knew about this so I was spared but I witnessed a lot of carnage. Especially in the case of, as happened many a time, young men who wanted photos of their sweethearts’ faces surrounded by beautiful blossoms, and sweethearts who were too happy to oblige by wandering a good five feet into the dahlia beds and crouching down in the narrow aisles, crunching leaves, branches and flowers as they went. They didn’t last long in there. Yowch. I didn’t feel terribly sympathetic, though, since there were signs everywhere warning against just this sort of thing.)

Back to the pamphlet. You start with just one checkmark because you’ve found the one flower you don’t want to forget to order. Check. Oh, and then there’s that one which is completely opposite in color and petal shape from the first one. Check. And then a short one that would be good in a border. Check. And then an extra-tall one that would be good for the back of the bed. Check. And then the one that’s exactly the same color as the first one but the petals are lacier so you have to have it for textural contrast. Check. (You knitters understand. How many times have you said to yourself, sure, this yarn is the same color as that one but this one is merino while that one is a tencel-silk blend, so I need to buy both? ‘Fess up, now.)

When I was done wandering, there was quite the little forest of checkmarks in my pamphlet: an astounding $350 worth. Let’s see if I can translate that into knitting language. If this had been a fiber fair, and if I had been pre-ordering fibery things, I would’ve ordered enough for six entire sweaters and might have thrown in a fleece or two.

Fortunately, I didn’t order anything that day but brought my pamphlet home along with a color brochure, and spent a good hour or so whittling down my choices. Which wasn’t really that hard once I saw a pattern. Teddy, Nicholas, Andrew Charles, Crichton Honey, Amber Queen, Maarn, Gingeroo, Peanut Brittle, Koppertone, Azteca, Margaret Duross, Clyde’s Choice, Baarn Bounty, Honeymoon—every single one, a dusky, sorbet orange. And one tuber of Andrew Charles alone was $15 (think, qiviut). I am now down to just one sorbet-orange selection. (To clarify, I'm down to one sorbet orange selection of the sorbet-orange choices. This doesn't address the rest of the list; you know, the ones that aren't sorbet orange. Ahem.)

At any rate, if you’re ever in the Canby, Oregon, area (about 20 miles south of Portland) over Labor Day*, I strongly suggest a visit. Just don’t step off the paths.

*You can actually go any time during the season. It's just not as festive: no food booths or demonstrations.

Posted by Ryan at 07:55 PM | Comments (4)

September 02, 2010

Ryan Has a Sad

Warning: Eeyore-ish, woe-is-me kvetch below. If I've done my job well over the years, they haven't appeared often in this blog so, um, enjoy? (I think you will understand why this one.)

It pains me, literally and figuratively, to admit that my knitting days may be at an end. I know, right?

Apparently all the parts of my hands and arms that I use to knit have gone on permanent strike. The large muscle/ligament/tendon thingie in my right arm that I use to make the circular “pull the rabbit through the hole” motion has started to make a dull and palpable crunch…crunch…crunch every time I yank that frickin' rabbit up and out. It doesn’t hurt but it’s certainly unpleasant. And crunchy.

The first knuckle of my left index finger, which I use to manage the ins and outs of the points of the needles, has decided to bend only when it has a mind to and then only after making a small, ugly snapping sound. So gross. And then there’s the carpal tunnel. So I haven’t knit seriously in weeks. I’ve picked away at a couple of socks but have only been able to handle a few minutes of crunch and snap. (Add one more sound and I’ll be a one-woman bowl of Rice Krispies.)

Then there’s this, the disaster that had been the Recession of Ought Nine Sweater. After I reduced the depth of the Grand Canyon-like armholes, I thought I had still left plenty of room for an admittedly shallow v-neck, but there’s shallow and then there’s shallow:

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It's hard to tell but this thing would choke a flamingo. Imagine that the photo is life-size and you wouldn't be far off. Fixing it would require a lot of unseaming and reknitting since the entire sweater is done. Dee. Oh. En. Ee. Done. (I'm casting a highly disapproving look toward the heavens as I write this. Yes. You. I'm looking at You.) It has been lying on top of my bureau gathering dust for months. I now want to reclaim the bureau space for more bureau-y things so I need to think about what to do with it. Dust rag comes to mind. In the meantime, however, see Paragraph 1.

End of what will hopefully remain a rare kvetch. Crazy Ivan and I are heading to the Swan Island Dahlia Festival in Portland this weekend. 40 acres of nothing but dahlias and an overnight away from home and my horrible, horrible, no-good cats. That oughta cheer a girl up!

Posted by Ryan at 10:43 PM | Comments (19)