Crochet · Life

First Time Crocheting on a Road Trip

Over the weekend I went to Drumheller with the family. Up to this point I haven’t had a chance to go on a long road trip with my crochet. I started this ripple afghan a couple of days ago with Bernat Blanket Stripes yarn. This blanket is intended for my cousins’s newborn son. I guess he isn’t quite so newborn now but every baby could use a blanket regardless! I actually restarted this blanket once or twice but I finally got the hang of it while on this trip.

The drive to Drumheller from Calgary isn’t completely long, just under two hours, but I managed to get a decent amount of rows done. It was a very relaxing and productive way to spend my time other than just sleeping. I have to admit, there were times when I felt sleepy enough to pass out but I kept through with it! It didn’t help that it was lightly raining at one point as well. But I plugged in my headphones and played a little bit of The Strokes and some Utada to keep me awake.

Life

Stampede Food

Honestly, Stampede is synonymous with food for me. Stampede means free breakfasts for a week. Usually these breakfasts consists of pancakes and sausages. We ended up going to six of these breakfasts. Some of them were worth it, some of them weren’t. One of them actually ended up being $250 because my brother got fined for forgetting to validate his train ticket on the way to a breakfast. But still, a lot of pancakey goodness!

Since I was babysitting my cousin, we didn’t go to any stampede breakfasts since they required some travel. Instead, I cooked them up homemade stampede breakfast! Basically just Eggo waffles, bacon, and eggs. Instead of maple syrup, I just made some strawberry sugar spread.

waffles

Okay I thought I didn’t want to go to the Stampede this year but I did end up going with my cousin, brother, and mom. We just went for two hours. We ate a lot of food and bought home lottery tickets.

The different foods we tried were:

Reuben Corndogs
I didn’t take any pictures but this was a bit of a disappointment. A hotdog wrapped in one slice of Swiss cheese then covered with corn flour. I was hoping for more cheese but it under-delivered.

Fried Cheese Sticks
Oh. My. Goodness. I fell in love with these sticks. I cannot resist anything deep fried. All this cheese definitely made up for the lack of cheese in the corndogs. We bought cheddar and mozzarella sticks. The cheddar was full of flavour and very sharp. However the mozzarella was full of gooey goodness and was a lot more fried. I loved them both!

cheese sticks

Deep Fried Cheesecake
I am a cheesecake lover. I have said this for years but cheesecake is the way to my heart. Deep fried cheesecake wasn’t on my radar until my brother pointed it out and I knew immediately that I had to try it. It was pretty yummy but basically a cheesecake wrapped in a pastry and then fried. It fell a little short of my expectations but was still super yummy!

deep fried cheesecake

Until next year, maybe, Stampede. I will miss you and your glorious food!

Books

Book Review: God in Pink by Hasan Namir

Disclaimer: Topics of sexuality, religion, and spoilers for the book is mentioned in this blog post.

A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur’an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq.

With a lot of things going on nowadays in Iraq and surrounding countries, I find myself becoming a little more interested in the lives of a typical Muslim. I understand that being queer and Muslim isn’t exactly “typical” but it was a topic I’m drawn to being queer and somewhat religious myself. Namir takes a very different take on this scenario than from what I expected. This little novel takes on the perspectives of Ramy, a gay man wanting to find a way through being gay in Muslim society, and Sheikh Ammar is a preacher who does not not to even entertain the idea of homosexuality.

Although in his mid-twenties, Ramy seems to me like a young teenager. He is full of passion, extremely rash, idealistic, but also a little hesitant to fully break free. He falls for men somewhat fast and extremely hard. Although he longs for freedom, he sees around him in the closeted gay community full of hypocrisy and tragedy. His family keeps pushing for marriage not just because it’s expected but because on some level, they know Ramy is gay and they want to either help him keep it a secret or to convince themselves that he’s actually straight and not gay. While his whirlwind and bloody romances are expected, what’s not so expected is the supernatural twist Namir puts to this tale.

Sheikh Ammar begins to have hallucinations of a pink cherub, Angel Gabriel, and a woman donned in a Burqa, Abaddon. They act as opposite sides of his conscious. Angel Gabriel is gay and encourages Ammar to accept Ramy in all of his glorious gayness whereas Abaddon points out the Islamic teachings that say otherwise. This supernatural twist was something that seemed almost left field for me. I did not expect it. I can’t say for sure if I like it or not. I feel like I wouldn’t be missing out on much if Ammar’s storyline was cut out completely. I do like the turn Namir takes with Ammar however. In the end, Ammar turns to cross dressing and pretty much renounces his religion completely.

Overall, it seemed a bit of a rollercoaster going from one storyline to another. The moments when they intersected were disappointing. Both main characters had their moments of ridiculousness for me. What disappointed me the most was how little of Ramy’s life after marriage panned out. I’m not disappointed that the marriage happened because it is realistic, I could totally see it happening. But Namir got me invested in Jameela and I felt a twinge of sympathy for her marrying a man who could not love her as fully as a man who was interested in women was.

Somehow though, I liked it. It was quirky and a little fun. It wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be but I think adding the tinge of dreamy-like aspects made it a more enjoyable read.

Crochet · Programming

Starting a Nanodegree at Udacity

While I’m still looking for a job this summer (which is almost halfway over already… Blah!) I took a cue from Y who started to work on some side projects and I decided to be a little more productive. Since I have a free month of Udacity from the GitHub Student Pack. Udacity is basically an online learning hub where you can take courses that are related to the tech field.

Since I am an aspiring full stack web developer, I decided to go with the appropriately named, “Full Stack Developer” Nanodegree. I am probably around 20% completed the degree and it’s been pretty much a week since I started.

So far I have done some basic Python programming and responsive web development. I didn’t learn much with the Python programming part because it was all very basic and I’ve done a lot of Python programming. Basically I made a movie trailer website that is composed of static web pages generated with Python. The web pages are composed of movie trailers that are pulled from The Movie DB using their API. You can check out an example here or take a look at it on GitHub.

Right now I’m working on a responsive web design. It’s taking a little bit more time because I’ve been busy the past couple of days. I had my first counselling appointment with a new counsellor, went to some Stampede breakfasts, and hung out with family and Y. But I think I’m pretty much done it all except for making sure everything complies with Udacity’s style guides. I keep tripping up on them wanting being lowercase instead. It’s hard to break old habits.

One thing I really like about their format is that there are a lot of videos. That way I can take my time to weave in ends for my temperature blanket that I’m working on. July is turning out to be a rollercoaster for weather. I had my first solid colour square the other day. It was pretty rainy on that day which explains why it was so much cooler. Now the rain spell has mostly ended and we’re back to low 30s weather. I don’t know which I prefer the most…

A post shared by Edel Altares (@edelgraceme) on

Crochet

FO #6: My Second Granny Square

FO means “finished object” in crochet and knitter terms. So any completed project is a finished object!

After making my first granny square, I quickly made my second granny square. Both were made from Loop & Threads yarn of the wool variety. I can’t remember the exact name of the yarn.

I am not quite sure about the colour choices but they were the colours I had on hand of the same yarn. It is better than my previous one in that it uses more than two colours. I have been crocheting for a couple of months now but I am still intimidated with colour changes. Eventually I want to work my way into making a really pretty piece with different colours that all fit together!

Crochet

Winding Yarn Multitasking

Since I recently started making a temperature blanket. I bought a couple of skeins of yarn (Bernat Premium, they are so soft!) and decided to wind them into balls to make transporting them easier for when/if I’m on the go. Surprisingly, it takes a while for them to wind up. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to watch some TV shows while doing it.

I decided to finish up watching season 2 of Knights of Sidonia, an anime about a human space colony at war with alien-like creatures. I did get distracted midway through watching. I never did crochet or knit from the center of the skein so I decided to wind from the center. The perfect center pull hole in the middle of the skein was glorious to look at!

By the time I finished winding, I had finished Knights of Sidonia and then went on to watching The Man in the High Castle. I didn’t get to finish all of that series in that winding session, unfortunately. But I do really enjoy being able to kill two birds with one stone. There were some moments when I paid attention to one thing more than the other but true multitasking is impossible.

Websites

When Spam Isn’t Just Annoying

The past couple of weeks I noticed that the MySQL service on my server would routinely stop out of the blue. At first I suspected that it was because my 512MB RAM wasn’t enough but when I looked at the usage history, I never peaked more than 9%. I even tried reinstalling the MySQL server which worked at first but then it stopped running again.

However, I think the problem was due to bots trying to log into my WordPress dashboard. One thread I was reading suggested xmlrpc attacks were bringing WordPress down. When I looked at my logs, there was a dozen of attempted logins.

There are multiple solutions for this, mainly blocling xmlrpc but since I use third party apps that rely on xmlrpc, I didn’t want to block it entirely. Jetpack was another solution which is what I eventually opted for.

I’ve been wary of installing Jetpack, mostly due to the fact my server is not that great and I was worried about space and memory consumption. However, it does have a feature to block malicious xmlrpc login attempts that I desparately needed.

It’s only been two days now (as of writing this) and I already see that Jetpack has blocked over 25 login attempts. Now this doesn’t protect me from other attacks and on other sites on this server but at leaat I have that out of the way.

Crochet · Life

Day Out in Pre-Stampede Rush

I went to the first pancake breakfast of the season with my family the other day. It was close to home which was a great bonus because my dad had the car for work. The breakfast wasn’t busy at all but maybe being fairly early was a factor. They only served pancakes and sausage patties but they were pretty good! There was also a Tim Hortons truck giving out free coffee and hot chocolate. I’m not one for straight up coffee (my favourite is French Vanillas) so I just opted for some hot chocolate.

After that I went to the library to return a library book and just sat and wound some yarn for a bit while looking at craft magazines. Since there was a Michaels nearby, I couldn’t resist using my coupon for some hooks, stitch markers, and pins. All which I desperately needed. Who knew stitch markers could get so lost easily…? ALSO, libraries have magazines which is so cool! I was debating subscribing to some crochet, knitting, or general craft magazines but now I definitely won’t (sorry, magazines).

Then my brother and I went to Tim Horton’s for some lunch and I headed over to Y’s! While there I got to finish my July afghan square which was pretty relieving. I didn’t follow it to a tee but I made do with what I made. Expect a post on this square eventually!

We ended up going to the local museum as they offer free nights every first Thursday of the month. I regret not taking a lot of pictures but I did take pictures of my favourite pieces. All mineral related. I have a soft spot for rocks because when I was younger, I had a geology phase and would look at minerals literally all day. The ones they had on display were extremely gorgeous.

Above is a picture of a fossilized ammonite!

This is just plain old quartz but I fell in love with the colour!

What surprised me the most was the silver because I never imagines silver to look so dark! I also enjoyed the carvings made out of the rocks. The skill required to make some of them blows my mind.

There were other exhibitions, mostly pertaining to historical artifacts. A lot of weapons, clothing, models, masks, etc. My second favourite exhibit is the one of the old fashioned trains that would travel across the country. I really fantasize about sleeping on a bed on a train. It just looked so cozy. One of these days!

Overall, I had a pretty good day. The heat wave just started and Stampede is about to begin so I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy an outing until all that is over.

Programming

Udacity Programming Fundamental Lesson 5: Take a Break Mini-Project

Seeing that I am now unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands, I decided to utilize the free month of Udacity I received from Github’s Student Pack.

This mini-project’s goal is to create a simple program using Python to open a web browser at an interval of ten seconds three times in a row.

Here is my answer:

import time
import webbrowser

break_duration = 10
break_num = 3
break_count = 0

print("This program started at: " + time.ctime())

while(break_count < break_num):

    time.sleep(break_duration)

    webbrowser.open("http://edelgrace.me/blog")

    break_count += 1

First I will explain the first two lines. In Python, there are many different modules that you can utilize to achieve specific things. Think of them as apps that you use on your phone. You have apps for calendars, contacts, games, social media, etc. Just like apps, we don't really need to know how exactly modules works, just how to use them to get what we want. In this case, we use modules to get information about the time and to use the web browser on the computer.

import time
import webbrowser

Next, I initialize some variables. Think of this as giving something a name. For example, I am 22 years old as of writing this. This would be my age. In the code, I am declaring that the break_duration (how long to wait to open a web browser) is 10 seconds. The break_num determines how many breaks to take, which is 3. Lastly, the number of breaks taken so far, break_count, is 0.

break_duration = 10
break_num = 3
break_count = 0

This line will print out a message to the console with the print function. Inside print, it uses a function from the time module that we imported earlier. The function we use is ctime(), which grabs the value of the current time.

print("This program started at: " + time.ctime())>

The last chunk of code is a while loop. Think of while loops as a set of instructions to repeat until a condition is met. I will break this down line by line.

while(break_count < break_num):

    time.sleep(break_duration)

    webbrowser.open("http://edelgrace.me/blog")

    break_count += 1

The first line determines the condition. This loop will keep running as long as the number of breaks taken (break_count) is less than the number of breaks that should be taken (break_num, which is 3). When this condition is not met, the code inside the while loop will stop running.

while(break_count < break_num):

Then we use the function time.sleep() to essentially wait for the number of seconds and essentially do nothing. From the official Python documentation, we can see that this function will accept numbers in terms of seconds, which is what we are using in break_duration.

time.sleep(break_duration)

Once the 10 seconds has elapsed, the next line of code will run. This uses the webbrowser.open() function. It essentially does what it says: open a web browser. Here, we indicate which site to open. In my case, we open up my blog for a quick break. 🙂

webbrowser.open("http://edelgrace.me/blog")

After that is all done, we have finished a break. Therefore, we increase the variable break_num by one to indicate that a break has been finished.

break_count += 1

The code then goes back to the start of the while loop and checks the condition. break_count is now 0+1=1 which is still less than break_num (which is 3). This repeats two more times until break_count is 3 and then the condition fails and the while loop is skipped over. Since there is no more code after the while loop, the program ends.

Crochet

Canada 150 Temperature Blanket: First Colour Change

A post shared by Edel Altares (@edelgraceme) on

Since the beginning of July, I’ve been recording the highs and lows of the daily temperature through granny squares. The middle colour represents the low of the day and the outer colour represents the high of the day. The first three days of July were roughly the same but the fourth was a little bit cooler.

They say that Alberta is going to have a heat wave the next couple of days but I don’t feel it yet. I went to the gym this morning and there was a nice cool breeze. I’m sitting in my room right now and I’m not sweating one bit (TMI, I sweat pretty easily). I wish it would stay like this until the end of summer but I truly do anticipate the weather kicking up a notch.

I’m currently trying to think about when I should start joining the squares. I’m thinking maybe every weekend is when I’ll take the time to do it. Looking at weaving all those ends makes me a little bit nervous too. Ah, oh well. I find that once I start weaving in ends, it’s not so bad. Just getting started on weaving ends is where my mind goes, “Maybe later…”