On this day...
5 years ago: Twenty-eight months
10 years ago: Stuck

  • I keep being amazed by her English skills. She has reached the stage where she – like myself – sometimes uses English words when speaking to us because there are concepts that she only has English words for, from books or videos or whatever.
  • Knitting, lots of knitting. Easy patterns in thick, colourful yarn, for cool results fast.
  • Overwatch. She’s found an Overwatch friend that she plays together with, almost daily. He is of unknown age, nationality and name, but none of that matters when they can have fun together.
  • Warriors. I kind of forced her to start reading daily, when I thought there was too much Overwatch going on and too little of other activities, and she was happy to rediscover how much she enjoyed this series.
  • She tends towards worrying and anxiety, and craves predictability. She likes planning, and doing things the same way, in the same order, at the same time. If we want to play board games all together in the evening (which means she can’t play Overwatch) she wants to know this in the morning at least, and ideally the day before.

Winning is important to her. She takes games very seriously. Even with social games and board games it’s all about winning for her (whereas for Adrian, for example, the social aspect – doing something together – is much more important). It’s a good thing she’s a strong tactical thinker; she would be a very sore loser. She likes arguing and “winning” arguments, and it takes a lot for her to admit that she might be wrong, or just to let it go.

When she and Adrian have, say, an imaginary battle with imaginary laser guns, she always has an argument for why Adrian cannot hit her. She won’t concede a single hit, ever. Adrian “hits” her in the head – “But I had a shield!” Adrian hits the shield – “But it regenerates!” Adrian hits her from behind – “But I jumped away!” Adrian jumps after her – “But I teleported away!” and so on. There is always another “but” until Adrian gives up. It never occurs to her that getting hit might open new possibilities in the game (for a dramatic death, say) – it’s all about winning. Or perhaps simply about not losing.

In some ways she is so unlike me that she feels like an alien being, and other times I see myself in her so clearly. That way she forgot how much she enjoyed reading because she hadn’t done it for a while is so familiar I even blogged about it. That was ten years ago but I still fall into the same trap occasionally.

First swimming lesson for this term. Adrian is super pleased that he has the same great teacher as last term. With her, he feels safe and confident and has fun, so he learns a lot.

Ingrid was painting some crafts project, with a newspaper to protect the table from paint. The newspaper was way too black-and-white for her taste and she touched up many photos with bright purple paint. The secretary general of NATO got a purple hat and a moustache. A pretty blonde woman got purple hair. They both looked much better afterwards.

More colour to the people!

Ingrid finished the scarf she was knitting and immediately wanted to knit some more. So now she has advanced to mittens.

I introduced her to knitting a year or two ago but she never got beyond the basics and didn’t really get hooked. Now she is definitely hooked, already thinking of what she could knit after the mittens are done.

I remember knitting lots at when I was about the same age as she is now. Mostly mittens and socks of leftover yarns. I might still have a pair of those socks somewhere.

We were treated to dinner and a monthly meeting at work today, in what used to be the Luma lightbulb factory. The pre-dinner drinks and cake (it was tretton37’s eighth birthday) were served in a room at the top of the building, with windows in all directions, which is where the factory used to test its prototype lightbulbs. This photo is a view from that room.

Perhaps winter might still arrive this year, after all.

Playing a new board game. A new variety of Carcassonne, with lots of new rules to learn.

Ingrid has found an online friend with whom she plays Overwatch. They seem to have a lot of fun. It’s as much about talking about what they’re doing, what others are doing, what they could be doing – all with a lot of drama and theatrics – as it is about actually playing the game.

The god Apollo chases a nymph. Rather than submit to his amorous advances, she prays to Athene to be turned into a tree, and her wish is granted. Apollo is baffled. After a discussion with Athene, trying to understand what happened, he decides to try living as a mortal for a while, to understand this whole thing about “volition” and the “equal significance” of people.

At the same time, Athene is setting up a city where she and a bunch of people can experiment with living after the principles of Plato’s Republic, so that’s where Apollo-as-mortal goes as well. The city is populated – following Plato’s instructions – with elders and children. For elders, Athene brings people from various points throughout history who have read Republic and prayed to Athene to be taken there. For children, they purchase slaves. And then follows the experiment of actually putting Plato’s ideas about a Just City into practice.

I haven’t read anything of Plato, but neither have the children of the Just City, so it’s not a prerequisite in any way. We learn the principles along with them.

The results are mixed, and not surprisingly, in the end it turns out that some ideas look good on paper but when you get into the nitty-gritty details, life is not that simple.

This may sound altogether dry and philosophical, but it isn’t. There is plenty of interesting detail about everyday life in the growing, developing city, as well as actual story lines, interesting characters, relationships between them etc. Foremost among them is Simmea, one of the children brought to the city to grow up there. We see her traumatic arrival, her bright-eyed earnest efforts to become her best self, but also her doubts about some aspects of life in the city.

For some reason, Athene doesn’t bring Plato himself to the city, but she does bring Sokrates, after a while. He does what he always does in books and starts asking difficult questions, throwing everything into disarray. What seemed so clear and righteous and just now becomes uncertain, unpredictable and questionable.

This was a fascinating read. Thought-provoking, unlike anything else, but also very readable and interesting as a work of fiction, not at all heavy or dry as you might expect a philosophical thought experiment to be.

If you’re hesitating, here are two reviews that I liked, from The Globe and Mail and Russ Walton.

This winter has not felt like winter at all. We watched the fireworks on New Year’s Eve through rain, and there has been no snow in sight. The temperatures have been above zero for something like two weeks now. Until now – we had clear skies during part of the day, and the temperature was actually below freezing, by several degrees!

I like my winters a bit more wintery, thank you very much.

I’ve even been thinking of starting biking to work again, since it hasn’t actually been icy, but with the colder weather now I’m abandoning that line of thinking. Too lazy to buy and put on studded tires.