Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Convertible Mittens!

20131231_140623Amid all the other things I’m doing this winter, I finished a pair of convertible mittens for my friend and housemate, Suzanne.

The pattern is the Line by Line Mittens to Gloves pattern, by Knit Picks. The yarn is Louet Gems Sport (brown and teal) and a little bit of Shibui Knits Sock that I had left over.

I used a slip-stitch pattern for the stripes to give them a bit more interest. Each stripe is sl1 k1 around, then k around for 2 rounds. I think they turned out very nicely.

Tomorrow, I will post photos of the finished weather scarf, since I am 8 rows and some weaving-in from being done with that one.

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Krampus in Dungeon World, Part 1

377px-Gruss_vom_KrampusLast night, my Thursday night group got together for A Very Holiday Dungeon World Special. It’s a one-shot adventure (really 2-shot…. we started super late, plus there was the fire), which I wrote as an homage to holiday adventures.

We started with character creation and bonds. Our characters for the evening:

  • Alanna – a female human druid with mossy green hair
  • “Razor” (née Clement) – a male human thief, very athletic, kind of a tough guy
  • Mithrandril – a male elf wizard, with crazy hair and eyes

Some of their bonds:

  • Razor and Mithrandril are running a con, the “eccentric elven uncle,” on a nobleman.
  • Razor has a secret: he plans to set Mithrandril up for a fall if the con goes south
  • Alanna and Mithrandril have a kind of mutual-disdain going for each other. Neither one thinks the other is capable of much.

Continue reading Krampus in Dungeon World, Part 1

Running out of the 40’s

I posted about this on Facebook this week, but basically, the 2013 “My Year in Temperatures” scarf, which I have been diligently working on for 11 months, has ground to a screeching halt.

The color I use for the “41-50” range, Dale of Norway Lerke in “Petro” or “Petrol” (I remember it as “Petra,” but I may be forgetful on that one) is running out.

It is a nearly impossible color to match. It’s a blended yarn, which is a kind of blue-slate shade, with undertones of purple and teal. Seriously–I have tried to match this yarn in the past, and it doesn’t even photograph well (as you can see by the photo below, which makes it look teal, despite being photographed under an Ott light.
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I’m exploring some substitutes, including a shade of brighter teal that I got from a friend yesterday. Another option is to cave and buy a skein of this yarn for $13 ($8.75 plus  S&H). I have found one skein on Ravelry available for $5, but no idea when the person who has it posted will be online or look at Rav or answer messages, or be able to ship.

So. That project has ground to a screeching halt while I figure this out.

Meanwhile, I have started the knitting-on of the edging for my red “Joe’s Garden” shawl… a project I have had on the needles, but mostly hibernating, for the past 4+ years.

This, by the way, is why I don’t knit for money or under any kind of deadline. I never know when I’ll burn out on a project or technique and have to quit for a decade or so.

 

Achievemint: Linking APIs for Fitness and Profit

 

Back in April, when I started this whole “hey, maybe I shouldn’t die” kick (again), I joined a site called Achievemint, which connects to your various apps and websites, tracks your health-and-wellness activities, and awards you points. Points which, once you accumulate enough of them, translate into a modest little check ($25). $25 is not much money, but it’s motivating for things that I should be doing anyway.

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There are apps for sleep tracking, mental health, remembering pills, blood sugar tests, insulin shots, and so forth. There are apps I’ve connected but keep forgetting to use (FourSquare, I’m looking at you!) However, in 8 months, I’ve racked up 20,000 points, and am looking to hit 25K sometime early next year.

To connect, you either have a web-based app, like MyFitnessPal or Twitter, where you either go into your app profile or click the “Connect” button on Achievemint. For mobile apps, you open the app’s preferences, where there’s usually a place to enter your Achievemint username and connect both accounts.

Here are some of my favorite connected apps, and how I use them to reinforce the routines and habits that help me get healthy:

  • Monitor Your Weight – Everyone says “don’t weigh yourself every day!” Well, those people don’t get 10 points a day for doing so! Interestingly, I see this one isn’t available anymore in the “Discovery” area– I wonder if that’s going away soon.
  • Fitbit – I own a Fitbit. I bought it for $20 at the REI garage sale, which was totally worth it. I wear it every day, and it just tracks my steps/miles/calories expended for me.  It’s an extremely passive thing– all I have to do is clip it to my bra in the morning and remember to move it to my sports bra before I go workout. I still get a kick out of seeing my # of steps on Fitbit, though. In a way, my fitness journey has been a lot of “numbers porn.” Points are based on how many steps you take.
  • RunDouble and RunKeeper – depending on my workout, I will turn one of these on before I start, go for my run, and when I stop, the app automatically hits the Achievemint servers with my earned points, as well as cross-posting to Facebook. Points are based on how far you run/walk/ski/bike/whatever.
  • Twitter – Every time I have a fitness-related post on Twitter (like this one being cross-linked from my blog), it hits the Achievemint server and gives me 5 points!
  • MyFitnessPal – This one is relatively new to the Achievemint profile, but a very welcome addition! It’s a food tracker (web and mobile app) which I have used almost every day since August 1, even on the days when I ate (or, realistically, drank) over 2200 calories. You don’t have to eat at a deficit to get your points– just tracking is sufficient. 30 points, twice a day.
  • Foursquare – Oh, I have utterly failed on FourSquare. So, here’s how it was set up when I first started: You earned points when you checked in at the gym. That’s cool, except I didn’t have a gym. I linked and installed anyway, because you never know when I might get dragged off to a yoga class. In fact, I was dragged to a yoga class, but did I remember to checkin? No. About a month ago, I noticed that Achievemint had changed their guidelines, and I could have been earning points for going to the park to run! Or for going to the doctor! Or “a salad bar” (I can only assume they mean a place like Sweet Tomatoes). Or, of course, the gym. So I checked in at the UNLV Rec Center, except Foursquare on my phone hates my GPS  and it couldn’t find the rec center, so it checked me in as being at some completely random place. I’ve been to the gym since then, but again– I forget to check in. Oh, well– this might be one that I keep and never actually use. No idea how many points it’s worth– probably about 10-20 per checkin. Finally got this to work last night– 65 points for checking in at the gym. And I remembered why I hate it– the Foursquare app is abysmal and slow on Android.
  • Sleepy – I stopped using it, because my sleep problems can’t be addressed with an app that makes me click when I go to sleep, and click when I wake up. There is no real “insomniac” mode, nor is there a “my cat is a jerk” mode. 20 points per night.

So, the inevitable question is probably something like “don’t you feel uncomfortable having all your data mined like that?” I don’t know– on the one hand, Achievemint is probably selling my data– theirs isn’t a subscription model, after all, so if you aren’t paying for the product, then you are the product. And on the other hand, what is actually happening is that, over the past 8 months, I’ve adapted my routines and habits to include exercise, diet tracking, and regularly focusing on my health. I’ve lost a little weight, gained a lot of strength and endurance, and can run up the stairs and leave the last slice of pie alone. That might be worth being “monetized” for a while, yeah.

 

“I cannot prove I am sentient, sir… can you?”

coverbitThe Martians Are Coming is a new Fate game in a steampunk world, played between me and 2 of my best friends.

“I cannot prove I am sentient, sir… can you?” Abigail Stracht, serial # ST-18, voiced the audacious words in the midst of the Royal Academy’s audience hall. Professor Hatfield was leading a debate on the nature of the Awakened souls– the elusive quality that meant a machine had attained self-awareness. This sentience, vaguely threatening to the humans who had built the automatons, was equally confusing to those who had achieved it.

As she and the professor exchanged quick-witted remarks, the crowd of scholars, nobles, and well-regarded merchants in the audience seemed swayed between Abigail and Captain Winfield’s arguments– that no one can truly know the mind of another, automaton or otherwise– and Professor Hatfield’s– that all automaton actions are derived in some form from their creators.

The day had started much like every day for the past several weeks– business was slow and mind-numbing, due to local subway construction tearing up the major intersections near Winfield’s Bakery. In fact, if not for the dreariness of the day, they probably wouldn’t have accepted Professor Hatfield’s invitation in the first place. After all, what Englishman orders a cruller and then fails to eat it? Winfield didn’t trust the man, and had said so to Abigail.

As they stepped outside after the debate, Abigail was approached by FG-36, the head of the Automaton Guild and keeper of the Registry of Awakened Persons for the Queen. They exchanged a few pleasant words– civil and more pleasant than Abigail had exchanged with him since refusing membership in the Guild proper. And then an older couple approached her and Winfield.

“We were so moved by your words…” The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Mers, were merchants who seemed more emotional than an academic debate might warrant, and Abigail and Winfield listened to their plight. It seemed their automaton, Sally– not Awakened– had gone missing several days earlier. In fact, FG-36 confirmed that several automatons had gone missing over the past several weeks. “We hope that she Awakened and may simply be… lost.”

“It is a very confusing time,” Abigail agreed, recalling her own traumatic awareness. She turned to FG-36. “Perhaps you could lobby the manufacturers to include some kind of… instruction set, for use when one awakens? Explaining where to go for registry and to get help?”

FG-36 regarded her coolly, and nodded. “An excellent suggestion. I will take it up with the creators.” He bade them a good evening and stalked away.

“…and take credit for the idea, no doubt,” Abigail muttered under her breath. She and Winfield continued on their way home in the late New London evening. Not long after they parted ways from the Mers, Abigail suggested they pop round to the police station. “They must know a little something about these missing automatons, right?”

Whatever Winfield thought they were going to do at the police station, he soon found himself staring in shock as Abigail scaled the outside wall and let herself in through an upstairs window. Just as he was about to call down for her, a couple of police officers rounded the corner. He distracted the coppers while Abigail raided the offices upstairs, looking for clues.

When she descended, it was with a large wall map and a sheaf of papers, all carefully tucked under her arm. She handed the papers to Winfield and the two of them took off for Winfield’s Fine Bakery.

At the shop, they used the map and their own cunning about the city to figure out that, indeed, the disappearances appeared to be random and unconnected, but in fact, they were all located near sites of the new subway system that was being constructed. The pair went off in search of an access point in the subway– taking the papers with them.

In time, they found a closed access door and heard sounds of someone behind it. Cracking open the door stealthily, they discovered a long row of automatons, all metal, standing deactivated in a long row. Off to one side was a well-lit office with a curious gentleman– Professor Hatfield, of course.

Abigail approached the long row of automatons, eventually finding Sally’s designation (SL-32). Just then, Hatfield came out of his office and spotted her. The two exchanged words, then he ordered his automatons to attack!

Abigail fought a crush of automatons while Winfield focused on stopping and capturing Hatfield. Heroically, he shot the door handle off the access door, effectively locking the two men in with two dozen rampaging robots.

Indeed… the rampage was brutal and efficient, as Abigail tore her fellow metal men apart, ripping limbs off of carefully-crafted bodies, and eventually using a power supply to electrocute the entire dog-pile of machines.

As she crawled out from under the pile of bent, broken, and smouldering bodies, she heard a voice from deep within the dog pile. “Huh-hullo?”

SL-32, miraculously, had not only survived the attack, but seemed to have Awakened in the process. Abigail introduced herself and had a few words with Sally, who also remembered Mr. and Mrs. Mers and wanted little more than to go home to them.

When the police arrived, Professor Hatfield was raving about “his” army of automatons, and his papers seemed to also contain all the stolen investigation notes taken from the police station (however could that have happened?!?) Abigail took Sally to the Registrar before delivering her home to the Mers, who were overjoyed to see her.

They returned to the bakery to prepare a double batch of fried dough goodies for delivery to the police officers in the morning.

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