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31Jul/1293

Friendship bracelets

So one thing I learned to do this summer is make friendship bracelets. Now, it's really quite easy, and you may have been doing this as early as primary school, but I never have. I attended the first-ever DutchStarkids meeting just a few weeks ago, and one of the girls there was wearing a homemade Starkid bracelet. She later pointed us in the direction of this helpful tutorial and I have since made multiple bracelets of my own.

I've been wearing them out and about and getting some questions on how I made them. Now, I could go and try to explain to you how it's done, but really, that tutorial does a better job than I ever could. It has pictures and videos and everything. Instead, I'll show you what I've created so far.

This was my first-ever try, and it shows. I mean, for a first time it's not even that terrible, I guess, but you can definitely see the difference between the beginning and the end, haha. It starts out all messy and uneven in width in both directions (yes, the vertical line of that R is just a single row of knots, not a double one...) and then sort of gets neater and more straight as it goes on. :P The pattern is also very simple, just using the basic letter patterns from the tutorial.

Then I created this glow* bracelet. I created a simple pattern of lowercase letters instead of the uppercase ones from the tutorial, plus a little star type thing. I drew it out beforehand, but I didn't bother to save it, so if anyone wants to recreate this, let me know and I'll see if I can redraw it for you.

It bothered me that my first Starkid bracelet was quite sloppy, so I decided to make a new one. I figured while I was at it, I might as well create a new pattern rather than using the simple letters, so I created this one based off the Starkid logo. And yes, if you compare the pattern and the actual bracelet, you can tell that I made a mistake... the final two pixels of the R should be one row higher up. Whoops. :P

Finally, I figured that you should be able to create more than just letters or simple patterns this way... surely you could pixel-art anything you wanted, right? Actually make a drawing using little knots? This turned out to be trickier than I'd initally realised. Doing line-art with just one colour is easy enough. Shading with a single colour isn't that hard either - just use more or fewer pixels per cm2 to create the different shades. But when even those lines and shades/tones have to be the same colour, things become fuzzy pretty quickly. Still, I feel it worked out halfway decent, in the end.

Crappy lightning is crappy. Remind me to take a better picture of this at some point. This was easily the most time-consuming one* to do; creating the pattern alone took me over an hour, I believe, and then actually tying the 2728 knots to make it took me another ~10 hours, spread out over three days. :P (*This is way too big to even be used as a bracelet. I've been mentally referring to it as a miniature tapestry.) In case anyone wants to attempt my insanity, here's the pattern for that as well.

Filed under: Fashion, Misc 93 Comments
28Jul/122

Books I’ve been reading, part II

Back in April, I wrote a blog post on the books I'd read so far during 2012. I have read four more books since, so it's time for another update!

Okay, let me start off by saying I still haven't finished A Feast For Crows. In fact, I think I've only read one or two additional chapters since writing the previous post. As I said back then, it is a good story, but it can get a little complicated and long-winding at times, and I guess I got side-tracked by other books for a while.

I've actually been re-reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I originally read the first four books in this series back when I was like 9 or 10 years old. I actually read the Dutch translations back then, since I didn't understand English that well at the time. I happened to get my hands on a complete set of ebooks a little while ago, and one day back in April or May I got a sudden urge to start rereading them - in the original English this time - and then move on to all the sequels I haven't read yet. I'll admit the writing style threw me off for a little bit when I first started; these are literally children's books, not even Young Adult novels (I think they're intended for the 8 to 12yo age range or something), and this kind of shows in the way certain things are worded from time to time. However, the stories were still as exciting and entertaining as I remembered them from my childhood. So far, I have read Redwall, Mossflower and Mattimeo. The only other book left that I'd previously read (in Dutch) is Mariel, and then there are like 18 other volumes that I haven't read before, I think.

Just last week, I sort-of-read Fifty Shades of Grey, because I wanted to know what all the hype was about. I say "sort of read", because I read the first chapter in earnest, and then decided I didn't like the writing style much. (In fact, my actual thoughts were "seriously? this is the best selling novel of 2012? I've read fan fiction that was more well-written than this, and also, Anastasia and Christian are clearly rip-offs of Bella and Edward from Twilight." Then I saw this and, well, that explained a lot.) So anyway, after that first chapter, I'll admit I didn't read the rest of the book word for word... I kind of skimmed through the boring parts to get through the good stuff. Good stuff may be a euphemism for sex. Honestly though, I still don't get what all the fuss is about. I can't imagine people are actually buying this en masse because it's such a literary masterpiece, so pretty much the only other explanation I can think of is the fact that it is erotica. So, really? Is that it? Because this isn't exactly the first published novel that's had sex in it, you know. And even the sex wasn't that hot or well-written. You can find better smut online for free, honestly. I'm not saying this is the worst book I've ever read, but it's definitely nowhere near the best, either. So I guess in the end, I'm still not entirely sure what all the hype is about. :P

Right now, I'm sort of in the middle of three different books all at once. As stated above, I still need to finish A Feast For Crows. I've also starting reading A Wise Man's Fear just recently. And after seeing both my Twitter and Facebook feed blow up over it for the entire past week, I caved and kind of impulse-bought The Land of Stories on Kindle last night. I don't even own a Kindle, but it turns out there's a pretty neat app for Chrome, and I was curious now and didn't want to wait a week for delivery. I've only read the first few chapters, but it's pretty good so far.

Oh, and by the way, the combination of Kindle app + Amazon account makes it way too easy to buy new books. It's like being logged into your iTunes account, where you're looking at an album and then it literally takes two clicks to buy and pay for it and poof, it immediately appears in your iTunes library for you to listen to. I've had an iTunes account for less than a year, and in that time I've literally acquired as many albums legally as in the entire twenty-five years before, I think. Which, you know, is ultimately a good thing - just not so much for my wallet. And now I've suddenly turned the Amazon website into that same sort of money trap, because I can now buy, pay for, and have books instantly sent to my Kindle app in those exact same two clicks. Oh God, I think I need a time-turner. Not to undo my actions or anything - just so I can A) work two jobs at once and B) have a ton of reading time. Yeah.

Filed under: Misc 2 Comments
23Jun/121

Let’s Get Very Personal tag

Okay, I know I still owe you blog posts about products from May's Glossybox, and June's box actually already arrived two days ago. Whoa, where did the time go? Anyway, I'll try to get those posts up in the next couple of days. For now, here's one of those fun questionnaire type tags that I snagged from WeAreFashion today. (And translated, since the original thing was in Dutch. :P)

This is going to get personal! Are you ready?

Sure :)

When was the last time you had a complete emotional breakdown?

I love how the wording of this question sort of implies that having a complete breakdown is something you do regularly. I don't think I've had more than three major breakdowns in my life, the last one happening in the fall of 2009. If tiny "oh god $firstworldproblems are happening and I'm PMSing on top of that" breakdowns also count, then, like, last weekend. :P

Are you craving any food at the moment?

I just finished eating my pizza, so nope.

Would you rather have ten children, or no kids at all?

I've always wanted to have children, but ten just seems a bit ridiculous (not to mention expensive and impractical). So if those are my only options, I guess none at all.

What do you hear right now?

The birdies in the trees next to my house. Also cars driving down the road.

Is your bed adjacent to more than one wall?

Um, no. Is this some kind of psycho-analytic thing somehow?

What are you thinking about at this moment?

Answering this questionnaire. I mean, that should be rather obvious, right? In case you meant, what was I thinking about right before I started answering; why my stupid laundry was still damp after a full dryer cycle so that I had to leave it in for another one. :P

Are you always there for your friends?

I like to think I am. In all honesty, I don't think I'm the best person at actually spotting when someone could use my help, on my own, though... but yeah, if someone asks for it or if I do notice it, then I'll definitely try to help out as best I can.

Who was the last person to see you cry?

Huh, that's a tough one. See, I have this thing where I'm really, really embarrassed to be seen crying in public. To the point where even if I'm like, at the cinema and there's a super tear-jerky scene in the movie and half the audience is crying, I will still manage to somehow keep it together so the other people don't see me cry. I guess I just feel people will find it stupid or consider me a weakling or whatever? Even though this means I so rarely cry in public, even during rather emotional occurrences, that I can apparently come off as cold-hearted occasionally. It's kind of funny because the opposite is true -- I'm actually a pretty emotional person and cry at movies and TV shows and even music etc. all the time, as long as I'm home alone.
So anyway, this means that I can't even remember the last time I cried while other people were present, and thus, whom I was with. Umm. I actually can't think of anything more recent than when I was crying in shock along with several coworkers because another coworker had just literally died on the workfloor. And that was over two years ago. So yeah.

What do you tend to do when you're nervous?

If I'm a little nervous: eat. A lot. Also, fidget. A lot.
If I'm very nervous: don't eat. Also, get dizzy and/or shaky or possibly even, depending on the level of anxiety we're talking about, have an all-out panic attack. Though it's been a while since that's happened.

Be honest: do you like people, in general?

Yes. Though I also kind of like being by myself.

Is there anyone who understands you completely?

My mum.

Do you have any reason to smile, right now?

Yes. It's the weekend, the sun is shining, and there's only two more weeks until the summer holidays.

Has anyone ever told you they don't want to lose you, no matter the cost?

Yes.

Would you be happier if life had a "rewind" button?

Can I get an "undo" button, instead? It would be nice to be able to fix the occasional little mistake. As for major life events, though -- which I think is what this "rewind" button implies -- I don't think I would actually change anything. Yes, there may have been some things that could have gone better, choices I could have made differently, but all of that did turn me into the person I am today. I don't have any serious regrets.

Do you tell your parents everything?

Not everything -- but then, who does, right? ;) Nearly everything, yeah.

Would you care whether or not your boyfriend's a smoker?

Not really. I don't smoke, and I would prefer to not have to kiss anyone right after they'd smoked a cigarette, but other than that it'd be fine with me. I mean, if he doesn't smoke, good for him, healthy and all that, I certainly won't make him pick up smoking -- but if he does, I doubt I would try to make him quit, either. Fun fact: whether or not smoking is a turn-off, for me, depends entirely on the person. Actually, no, not quite, cause on girls it's always a turn-off. But with regard to guys, it can be either a turn-off, a turn-on, or a "don't really care either way", depending on the type of guy. On the right kind of guy, there can be something sexy about it? Yeah, I dunno. I'm probably just weird. :P

Do you suspect you will be hurt by someone in the near future?

Um, no? Thankfully?

Do you remember who you had a crush on, this time last year?

I may be off by a month or so, but I believe around this time last year was when I had that huge Matt Bomer crush thing going on.

Do you mostly think about the past, the present or the future?
(Note: the original question said something like "the past, the present, or the present time" which made no sense IMO, so I changed it :P)

This question actually made me realise that I should probably be more concerned with the present, haha. I pretty much divide nearly all my time between thinking about the future (probably more often in a worrying sort of fashion than is good for you), and thinking back on the past. Whoops.

How many hours of sleep do you get each night?

It varies wildly. Somewhere between 4.5 and 10? :P Usually between 5 and 7 hours on weekdays, and 7 to 9 hours on Sat/Sun, I suppose.

Are you an easy person to spend time with?

I guess so? I generally try to be as accomodating and friendly towards others as I can, so...

Do you hate the person you had your most recent conversation with?

Well, that was random? No, not at all.

What's the last drink you had?

A plain old glass of water.

What kind of bed do you have?

A bunk bed, except the bottom half isn't another bed, it's a couch. Which can fold down into a double bed. It's pretty awesome.

Rain: love it or hate it?

That would depend on whether I actually need to get somewhere. :P If I have to get to school or work or something, hate. If I'm returning home for the day, not that bothered. If I'm just sitting inside, I kind of like it, the sounds and smell it creates and everything. Also, as long as it's not too cold outside, I actually rather like running in the rain, for some reason.

Have you ever done anything that you said you'd never do?

When I got my driver's license, I swore that even though you're allowed to drive after drinking a single glass of alcohol, I would never do that ever. In the following years, I have occasionally driven home after having one glass of wine at a party or fancy dinner or whatever, though. I think I can count those occasions on one hand and I've definitely never DWI, but still, I'd set this zero tolerance policy for myself and broke it. I can't really think of anything else, though.

Do people consider you an optimistic or pessimistic type of person?

I suspect others probably see me as a pretty optimistic person, since I always try to see the bright side of situations, help others out if possible etc. But privately, when things concern only me, I actually tend to be kind of pessimistic, I suppose?

Who's the last person you made a car trip with, not counting family?

Umm. My last several rides were either solo or with my mum. Actually, I think the last ride spent with anyone else may have been when I visited the Elf Fantasy Fair with friends. Which was two months ago. Huh.

What's the last movie you've seen in the cinema, and who did you see it with?

The Avengers, with a couple of friends. Fun fact: I'm actually wearing an Avengers t-shirt as I write.

Did you ever get hurt by someone whom you'd least expect to?

Not really, I think.

Your parents are on vacation. Do you throw a huge party?

Probably not. This is assuming a hypothetical situation where I still live at home, to begin with. :P Besides that, I prefer smaller, cosy & fun parties over huge wild ones anyway.

Do you regret your last relationship?

No. We had a good time during those years we were together, it was a valuable experience and we parted as friends.

Would you prefer to spend the weekend at a concert or in a club?

Concert.

Do you feel like you always go for a certain type of guy?

To some extent, yes. And then every once in a while I'll surprise myself by developing a crush on someone who "shouldn't be my type at all, honestly". Also, I think my "type" is much more varied for girls than it is for guys.

Have you ever made a joke at someone's expense that ended up making them cry?

God, no.

Do you feel you spend too much time on your appearance?

Nope. This might come as a surprise given the nature of a lot of these blog posts, but I don't actually do elaborate make-up looks most days of the week. :P And my clothes are generally something quickly yanked together while still half-asleep.

Do you get jealous easily?

In terms of looks, possessions, accomplishments, relationships, etc., no. I do occasionally envy random people for living in the US, thereby being able to visit various events much more easily than when you'd have to spend upwards of $1000 on a plane ticket to even cross that ocean to begin with.

Did you buy any clothes this past week?

Actually yes: I ordered two new t-shirts. They have yet to come in, though.

Do you miss anyone right now?

No.

Who was the last person to make you cry?

Do fictional characters/actors count? In that case, it was Jaime Lyn Beatty as Sally in Me And My Dick. If not, umm. I honestly can't remember. See also: not crying with other people present ever.

Does thinking about your ex make you angry?

Nope. As stated above, we parted ways as friends, and still are.

What are you going to do tomorrow?

Homework. Housework. A work-out. Gee, so much for lazy Sundays. :P

Are you one of those girls who has a different boyfriend every other week?

Not at all. I was in a relationship with the aforementioned now-ex boyfriend for over five years, and that's been the only one to date.

Is there anyone you would like to see at this moment?

Yes.
(To anyone who feels this conflicts with the "missing anyone right now" question: I took this one to be more of an "If you could see anyone in the world right now, who would it be?" type question. In which case I could definitely think of someone. However, you can't exactly miss someone if you've never even met them to begin with, so, yeah.)

Did your ex ever cheat on you?

Not to my knowledge. :P

Do you like cotton candy?

I used to, as a kid. Now I think it's much too sweet.

Who's the last person you had a serious conversation with?

My mum, on the phone, just before I starting filling out this questionnaire.

Did you ever fall asleep against another person?

Obviously, yes. See: five-year relationship.

What was your week like? Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10.

I handed in a huge 22,000-word paper, which I'm quite proud of, but it was also a pretty stressful week. Overall, I'd say about a 7/10.

Do you have a friend of the opposite gender that you can easily talk to?

Sure. The aforementioned ex-boyfriend-now-friend, as well as a couple of other guys.

What were you doing last night at midnight?

Playing a tower defense game.

What is your current mood?

Still slightly stressed, I guess (I'm kind of in "how does summer vacation start in only two weeks no way" Hermione-mode), but overall pretty happy.

Who's the first person you spoke with today?

If IMs count, my friend (the ex-boyfriend one). If this applies to spoken conversations only, um, the cashier at the grocery store? :P

Did anything happen during the past month that made you exceptionally happy?

I've had a fairly good month overall, but nothing specific, I think.

Who did you spend the previous evening with?

Um. My cat? Other than that, no one. :P

Did you talk to anyone until you fell asleep last night?

Evidently, no. My cat is not the greatest conversationalist.

Who should initiate a kiss, the boy or the girl?

I honestly don't care -- just as long as it's not me. I'm generally much too socially awkward to pick up on the "this would be an appropriate time to start kissing" signs. ;)

Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Again, homework, workout, etc. Also, write some blog posts, and possibly, if I can find any time beyond the aforementioned activities, get a youtube video done.

Filed under: Misc, Personal life 1 Comment
8Apr/120

Books I’ve been reading

(I think this may win the award for most unimaginative title for a post on this blog so far.)

One of my goals for 2012 was to read more books. Well, this was actually a 2011 goal as well, but out of the 12 books I wanted to try and read that year, I only managed one. So, this year I aimed a little bit lower, and set my goal at 6 books. However, it's only March and I'm already in the middle of my fifth book. So, I figured it was time to do a blog post on the books I have been reading so far.

Part of the reason my book count is already this high is that I started reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins right in January. I'd been hearing good things about these books for over a year, but mostly in the sense of "vague internet hype" than actual personal recommendations. So I had acquired them as ebooks but not actually bothered to start reading them yet, partially because I figured it was probably mostly a bunch of teenage girls excessively fangirling something and might be a disappointment once I actually read them.

I went through a similar thing with the Harry Potter series, which I didn't start reading until the third book had already come out, because I saw them as overhyped kids' books as well. Then they turned out to be some of my favourite books of all time. And guess what? This was just the same. I finally started reading them, and was unable to put them down. They are really gripping and exciting. I liked the characterisations as well, the main characters are pretty well-rounded. Katniss, the main character, knows how to fend for herself but at the same time has plenty of insecurities. I also really liked that when Peeta (one of the main male characters) professes his love for her, she doesn't suddenly and spontaneously fall head over heels for him as well (as in too many other teen fantasy novels *cough*Twilight*cough*), but eventually pretends to love him back for her/their personal gain, then feels guilty about this afterwards, etc.

Well, actually, I call them fantasy novels, but they're technically post-apocalyptic science fiction, something I have to admit I was completely unaware of when I started reading. I thought they were set in a slightly "historical" setting, as many fantasy novels are, where some things "magically" happen, etc; but they're actually set an undetermined time into the future, only most of society is so impoverished due to previous wars etc. that they live a little more primitively than we do at present. Also, there's no actual magic, not even in the arena where the Hunger Games are fought, just more advanced technology than we have.

Anyway, I thought these were a really good read and would definitely recommend them. There are three books in the series (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay), and I think I finished each of them in two days, maybe three at the most, because they're just really hard to put down once you start reading. I actually read most of Catching Fire while doing bartending shifts at an eth0 event, and I think a few visitors may have had trouble getting my attention to order stuff occasionally. Sorry 'bout that. :P I would also advise you to go see the Hunger Games movie that's playing in theatres across the world right now, since it is, in my opinion, one of the better book adaptations that have been done over the years.

A week or two ago, I also read Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, from the Discworld series. This is essentially the Christmas episode of the Discworld universe; the Hogfather is the Discworld's Santa Claus, basically. I did actually get myself this book as a Christmas present last December, but then I went and read the Hunger Games trilogy first, and then nothing for a little while after that. Then the weather suddenly turned all nice and sunny, and I just wanted to read a nice book outside in the sun, instead of being cooped up behind my laptop, inside, and finally started on this. It didn't seem entirely appropriate, with temperatures climbing above 20°C for the first time this year, but oh well. :P

If you have read (and liked) any other Discworld novels, you'll like this one as well. It is full of typical Pratchett humour and seemingly unrelated storylines that suddenly start to interweave. Hogfather is part of the "Death" line of novels within the Discworld series, though this book focuses on Susan Sto-Helit instead of Death himself for quite a bit. The "Night Watch" line is actually my favourite within the universe, but since I have read all the books in that one by now, I'm working my way through the "Death" series now and find I quite like this one too.

And then I just recently started on A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin. I read the first three books (A Game Of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords) in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series several years ago, and actually finished the third book right around the time A Feast For Crows was released. I did buy that one as well, but then never actually started reading it. So this had been sitting unused on my bookshelf for about six years now. The first book has been adapted to a 10-part television series by HBO, and the start of the second season (an adaptation of the second book) is right around the corner happened last week. (See, this is what happens when you write blog posts but then don't actually post them. :P) I guess that's what inspired me to finally continue this series.

I do quite like these books, but they can get a bit long-winded and complicated at times, I'll have to admit. Each book is probably about a thousand pages on average, and contains ten or more different, partially interwoven storylines/perspectives, and literally several dozen characters. Add in the fact that a lot of these characters have one or more nicknames and are often simply referred to by one of these nicknames, and you can probably see why it can get pretty hard to keep track. That being said, it is a very good story, very well-written.

So, that's my books for 2012 so far. Once I finish A Feast For Crows (which will probably take me at least another week), I guess I'll continue with the next book in the series, A Dance With Dragons. Or maybe I'll go read The Wise Man's Fear (by Patrick Rothfuss) first. Or any of the other two dozen books still on my to-read list... :P

Filed under: Misc No Comments
23Mar/121

Bodyrock.TV February Challenge

As of last weekend, I have completed Bodyrock's February 30-day challenge! (Which, again, only includes 20 actual workouts, since we're not counting active rest days. :P) Since I only completed the last one midway through February, I did actually do this series in just the one month! So, since I shared my stats last time around as well, let's see how I did this time, shall we?

I've actually included notes like whether I did push-ups on my knees or toes, what weights I used etc. this time, as well as the occasional comments. The previous time I didn't really write any, since I wasn't planning on posting my scores at all when I was writing them down :P So hopefully things will be slightly less boring for you now. Still, let's do the important part first -- the initial and final fit test -- and then I'll post the full thing under the cut.

Day 1 - Fit Test

  • Squat Jump: 28
  • Push Ups: 15 (on toes)
  • Burpees: 10
  • High Knees: 118
  • Switch Lunges: 16 (step-out version)
  • Tuck Jumps: 18
  • Triceps Dips: 18
  • Straight Abs: 25

And the final one; included in parentheses are the percentage increase in reps as compared to January's and February's initial Fit Test, respectively.

Day 20 - Final Fit Test

  • Squat Jump: 32 (78%, 14%)
  • Push Ups: 20 (300%, 33%) (on toes)
  • Burpees: 12 (50%, 20%)
  • High Knees: 120 (60%, 2%)
  • Switch Lunges: 24 (33%, 50%*) (step-out version)
  • Tuck Jumps: 26 (100%, 44%)
  • Triceps Dips: 26 (n/a, 44%)
  • Straight Abs: 31 (63%, 24%)

(*I somehow managed fewer switch lunges during February's fit test than the initial one in January, so the total two-month increase is actually lower than the increase just during February :P)

Not too bad, I think! Some scores (like the Burpees and High Knees) didn't improve too much, but keep in mind that they had already gone up quite a bit between the beginning and end of January's challenge. Hit Continue Reading if you're interested in my scores for each workout :)