Friday, September 29, 2006

Week 4 Picks

Arizona at *Atlanta - Both teams are coming off of a loss, but I think Atlanta will rebound first. Quite a rebound. 1-0
*Dallas at Tennessee - Dallas has had too much non-news this week, and after the bye are ready to get back to football. Yes they were. 2-0
*Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets - The Jets defense isn't quite ready for Indy. Tight but Indy got it. 3-0
*Miami at Houston - Miami will use this week to recover. Houston squeaked it out. 3-1
Minnesota at *Buffalo - This is going to be a tight game, but if the Bills stop dropping the ball (literally) - they should prevail. And they got it. 4-1
*New Orleans at Carolina - Another tight game with two great defenses. I think The Saints can keep their streak going. Oops. 4-2
*San Diego at Baltimore - Two undefeated teams, but I think be rested may help the Chargers squeak it out. Apparently not. 4-3
San Francisco at *Kansas City - Struggling after Green's injury, the Chiefs should find their groove this week. Quite a groove. 5-3
Detroit at *St. Louis - Both teams have been inconsistent, but the Rams should be able to take this. And they did. 6-3
*Cleveland at Oakland - Both teams are struggling, but Oakland is struggling a little more. Yup. 7-3
Jacksonville at *Washington - Another tough game, but the Skins should be able to pull it out. Hail to the Redskins! 8-3
New England at *Cincinnati - The Bengals are looking great. But not this week. 8-4
*Seattle at Chicago - Seattle is also looking great. Again, not this week. 8-5
Green Bay at *Philadelphia - The green battle, should go to the home team. Not quite as good this week, but enough to get me to the playoffs. 9-5
Updated 10/3 with results

Banned Books, Part Five

Additional Books That Have Been Banned or Challenged:
Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy
I am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Challenged)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Bastard by John Jakes
Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford

“We should build respect and understanding between the diverse cultures of the world. We should help construct communities where people of different backgrounds can live together as neighbors. Freedom is something for which we must fight, not by limiting it but by strengthening it.”—Alex Byrne, Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee

Updates-ish

Yes, I know - very little talk of knitting and swapping. I have in fact been knitting and have finished some more dishcloths, and still working on the Nina Shawl in between. I Have photos, but since my cord and a working computer are not currently in the same place, you will have to wait for proof.

On the swap front, I have my swapee's and am getting stuff together for them. I will be at a youth conference for the weekend, so probably won't get stuff done and in the mail until next week, but it will happen. Promise.

Oh - and I'm also going to knit a square. Check it out!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Banned Books, Part Four

Five More Books That Have Been Banned:
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
"Little Red-Cap" from Grimm's Fairy Tales, a version of Little Red Riding Hood.

“[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”—Judy Blume

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Something to Say

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. I can say whatever I want even if it's not true. (There are some restrictions, such as not yelling "Fire" unless there really is one.) I think sometimes we forget is that the beauty of such freedom is that it hopfully encouragess us to be interested but skeptical. For example I could tell you that grass is blue. In fact, I just did. Now, you probably wouldn't believe that one since you have likely seen grass and noticed that it is green. But what if I told you that grass is really blue (that's why they call it bluegrass after all), but our pollution has altered the atmosphere such that grass now appears green. Some of you might believe this. Some of you might start reporting this fascinating fact to others. Some of you would think it was ridiculous and stop reading my stuff because clearly I am a nut. And some of you - both skeptical and not - would do a little research. (At which point you would discover that my statement, however beautifully presented - is crap.)

As with all forms of media and communication, its accessibility makes it possible for anyone to say anything. This is great! But it does require a little vigilance from each of us. I have sufficiently annoyed a number of people who forward emails to me such that they have either started checking them or removed me from their list. (I am happy with either result). It isn't that these people were setting out to misinform me. They were quite surprised to discover the information they had passed on was incorrect. I myself forwarded something ridiculous. (I have learned the error of my ways). The same is true of things I read on professional looking websites, in newspapers, and on television. But sometimes you learn a lot in the research process to, even if it is on the way to discovering that tupperware does not cause cancer.

A few weeks ago, a gentleman uploaded a video on YouTube stating that he has serious concerns about ships that Lockheed Martin has refurbished for the Coast Guard. He states that he was assigned to the project (which Lockheed confirms) and discovered several problems. He relayed these problems to both Lockheed and the Coast Guard. He says they pushed it aside. (They state that they looked into it and found no issues.) Mr. De Kort was transferred off of the project and later laid off. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office is investigating and expects to have that completed in the next few months. Some of the ships are already in use.

The story indicates that he had contacted congressmen, but does not state which ones. But now they - or at least Rep. Bennie Thompson is interested.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I expect that we will see more of this, although it remains to be seen whether this becomes viewed as behavior of crazies or a legitimate threat. (I am also highly amused by the gentleman quoted in the story who says suing is more effective than being on YouTube. Because of course, only serious people sue.)


Link (WaPo - so registration required)

Veronica Mars - Season Three

Season Three of "Veronica Mars" officially airs next Tuesday - have you set your recorder of choice? Well, if you can't wait, MSN and the CW teamed up to bring you a few premieres early - including "Veronica". Yay! I have watched and can say it is good for both newbies and olbies. So check it out! (Go!)


Keith: Prepare to have your mind blown. Are you ready?
Veronica: Think back 18 years: small, blond, baby. Born ready.
Never Mind the Buttocks, "Veronica Mars"

Banned Books, Part Three

Five Banned Books:
Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Color Purple by Alice Walker

"Even to the present day, we so often condemn books that were written to fight the very things we claim to be fighting. Mark Twain's (Samuel Clemens') Huckleberry Finn is so often cited as being racist, when it was written against slavery and racism."
-Jamey Fletcher

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Unreliable or Lying Narrator

In fictional media, we are guided through the story by a character or series of characters. Sometimes there is a narrator who is speaking directly to us, other times we are peeking at the story by following the character. Any character is going to have his/her own history, perspective, goals and hang-ups that color their perception of the situation. The job of the author is to - within this framework - share enough information with us so that we can understand the character's slants so that we are in many cases given access to a broader picture than any one character has.

However, as has been pointed out, every story is a mystery in the sense that you the reader or viewer do not know how it is going to turn out. And so, often crucial (or even not so crucial) pieces of information are withheld from the audience to be revealed later. Sometimes this is done to draw out the plot, other times it is because we need to get the information in a place where it makes sense for the character to start thinking or talking about it.

The audience needs to trust certain things about their guide or guides into the story. But sometimes, the guide keeps even the audience in the dark. Wikipedia has this to say about the unreliable narrator:
"a literary device in which the credibility of the narrator, either first-person or third-person, is seriously compromised. This unreliability can be due to psychological instability or other disability, a powerful bias, a lack of knowledge, or even a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader/audience."

The caution with using an unreliable narrator is that you can lose the trust of your audience if they suddenly discover they have been led down the garden path. The flip side, is that, when done well, the audience will realize that there were breadcrumbs they didn't quite see, and that this new information makes everything clearer.

"Rashoman" (which I have not seen, although I have seen movies and television shows that borrowed on the concept) is often cited as an example. The same story is related several times from the point of view of each character. There are differences and similarities in each of their narratives, so the question is left to the audience to piece together what they think really happened.

I recently read two books that made use of this - to varying degrees and with varying success (in my opinion).

I recently read Oyster Blues by Michael McClelland. I had previously read Tattoo Blues which I enjoyed. I liked Oyster Blues too. But I had a problem with the use of the missing link - as it were - it felt a bit cheap to me. (Let me stress here, this is a small part of the plot, I am nitpicking, the rest was good, go read it.) I read Oyster Blues in multiple sittings which may have affected by feeling of disjointedness. We are introduced to one of the cast of characters - Jane Ellen Ashley and learn a little about her and her job. Later we discover she shared her shack - with a Nate. Further along we get a flashback - we learn that Nate drinks. Then we get a hint he might have hit Jane Ellen once or twice.

(Which brings me to another issue, Jane Ellen, we are led to believe, is unworldly, having grown up in a little island in Florida spending much of her time reading. And yet, when she goes to a free clinic and the doctor asks her if her injury was boyfriend-inflicted she is shocked. She even asks the nurse why the doctor would ask that. And yet - several of the many books or magazines should have talked about domestic abuse. Also we later learn she spent some time in a youth home - and I'm not suggesting the leaders there would have abused the kids, but certainly some of the kids would have been there as a result of abuse. And then, it turns out she was getting hit herself. So how is this a shocking concept to her?)

Yet it's not until past the two-thirds mark, after we have met Nate, that we find Nate is her brother. I assume this was withheld to create extra tension when he catches up to her with her new boyfriend - but its silly. Certainly I don't sit around and make sure to think, "Gosh my brother Nate is such a pain". But there were many places this information could have naturally been provided, so it ends up feeling really silly that we didn't get it until then.

In contrast was Tryptych by Karin Slaughter. This is one of those books that took me a bit to get going, but then it was so good I almost don't want to talk about it for fear of ruining anything for anyone. Tryptych is centered on a series of brutal rapes, that have now escalated to murder. We start Tryptych with homicide detective Michael Ormewood, who has just been assigned to the brutal rape and murder of a hooker in Atlanta. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, Will Trent, asks to observe the case, as he has been following a series of similar rapes that occurred in different juresdictions. The story then goes back in time about six months and we meet convicted rapist and murderer John Shelley, who has recently been released from prison having been convicted as a teen. Besides the obvious, it takes a while for the two timelines to merge and for the connection between the two stories to unfold. But it is a great story, and the pieces fall together wonderfully.

More Banned Books

Five books I have read that been banned (or challenged):
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Now that eighteen-year-olds have the right to vote, it is obvious that they must be allowed the freedom to form their political views on the basis of uncensored speech before they turn eighteen, so that their minds are not a blank when they first exercise the franchise. And since an eighteen-year-old’s right to vote is a right personal to him rather than a right to be exercised on his behalf by his parents, the right of parents to enlist the aid of the state to shield their children from ideas of which the parents disapprove cannot be plenary either. People are unlikely to become well-functioning, independent-minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble.
—Seventh District Judge Richard Posner, American Amusement Machine Association, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Teri Kendrick, et al., Defendants-Appellees (2001)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Banned Books Week

Today is the start of Banned Books Week, and the captains of irony are out in force already becuase a group of people are protesting the use of the work "banned" in speaking of Banned Books Week - they feel the word challenged better describes the process. That's right, people are trying to ban the use of the word banned.

Moving on. I have been reading a really long time - possibly close to thirty years at this point. I have read about all sorts of things - witches, presidents, vampires, lawyers, detectives, clergy, bookworms, royalty and boy who was flat. There's been sex, murder, addiction, war, magic, and love. While, I'm sure my mother influenced my early decisions, I do not recall anyone ever telling me what I could not read. Apparently I was fortunate. The people around me trusted me to read and still make good choices. Or possibly they thought that exposure to all diferent kinds of fictional people in different circumstances would help me make better choices.

I snuck into movies that were rated R as a teen, I drank alcohol before it was legal for me to do so (although I was careful only to do it when I was in for the night to prevent the who's sober enough to drive issue), but I never had to break any rules when it came to books. There was a post a few weeks ago on The Lipstick Chronicles about how banning books caused one child to read them, as if the list of banned books created a de facto reading list.

One of my many concerns about banning books is that the concerns sometimes seem raised by people who didn't finish them. I recall several presidential elections ago when a candidate targeted "Trainspotting", quoting the apathetic opening speech. Of course (spoiler ahead here) the central character goes through a change, realizing that he want's a different life for himself. And while, he may not choose the best method of getting to it, he gives a very different speech at the end of the movie.

Certainly, I have talked about books I couldn't make it through, books I put down unable to see if things improved. But I never suggested these books should be removied from the shelves. Only that these books did not resonate with me. I'm thrilled if someone else is getting something out of them.

I have no problem with people feeling certain subjects or topics are inappropriate for themselves or their children from a standpoint of age, morality or even simple dislike. But I do not understand why anyone feels that they get to make that decision for everyone else. And I also and saddened by the fact that often it is books with sex that seem to get people worried - not serial killers. Again, I don't think any books should be banned (or challenged), but it fascinates me that people get so worried about sex, which one imagines they expect their children will grow up to do one day, but serial killers that's fine.

Five Books That Have been Banned:
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

"Sweetie, those books have no place in a public school library. Especially now. Any student can waltz in there and get all sorts of ideas." Joyce Summers, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Friday, September 22, 2006

Week 3 Picks

(This time the home teams are listed second)
Tennessee Titans - *Miami Dolphins - Both teams are win-less, but Miami should be able to find enough rhythm against the struggling Titans. The first of many close games this week. 1-0
Jacksonville Jaguars - *Indianapolis Colts - The Jags are looking good, but not quite that good. It'll be tight though Not a bad show against Indy. 2-0
*Washington Redskins - Houston Texans - While the Texans are of course a team of dedicated people, I think we can take them. (Really.) Yay! Although the penalties we are racking up remain atrocious. 3-0
*Green Bay Packers - Detroit Lions - The battle for the bottom of the NFC north. Folks are counting out the Packers but the Lions are often victims to tradition and one of them is losing to the Packers. I'm telling you, victims to tradition. 4-0
NY Jets - *Buffalo Bills - This is Buffalo's first home game and the third division game for both teams. Buffalo's been a little stronger and a little more consistent. Just had to mess with my streak there. 4-1
*Cincinnati Bengals - Pittsburgh Steelers - I'm going out on a limb here, because Cinci had a few injuries last week. But I'm betting on them being so freaking sick of hearing about the last time they played the Steelers. That should take care of those memories. 5-1
*Carolina Panthers - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Great defense vs. struggling offense. It was a squeaker though. 6-1
*Chicago Bears - Minnesota Vikings - And here we have the battle for the top of the NFC North. Both solid defenses, but Chicago's got a rocking offense right now. Or just rocking enough. 7-1
*Baltimore Ravens - Cleveland Browns - Yeah. Closer than expected. 8-1
NY Giants - *Seattle Seahawks - The Giants had a great rally last week, so this'll be a tight one, but I think Seattle has better consistency. Oh yeah. 9-1
*Philadelphia Eagles - San Francisco 49ers - The Eagles have to be bitter after last week's OT loss. Very bitter. 10-1
St. Louis Rams - *Arizona Cardinals - Another tough battle that no one wants to lose. But Arizona is motivated and trying to create a home win streak. So much for that streak. 10-2
Denver Broncos - *New England Patriots - The snake had a bad week and going against the Pats isn't going to help. That snake is inconsistent. But the very nature of that means sometimes... 10-3
Monday
Atlanta Falcons - *New Orleans Saints - Should be a squeaker, but the Saints are rolling - or should I say marching. 11-3 Which puts me in a winning record - 2-0 overall
Updated with results

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Knitting - F and UF

So, I finally finished a dishcloth for the dishcloth KAL (entry posted here). Yeah, I had to get all fancy-like.

I have also been working on the Nina Shawl from Mason-Dixon - although it may end up as more of a throw. Here is what it looks like now. (Pictures to come - blogger's acting up a bit).

And I have signed myself up for the Grandma Purl stalker, I mean blanket project. I am going to knit a square for the blankets going to the Grandma Purl - grandma to Crazy Aunt Purl - and possibly others, since there are going to be quite a few squares. I'm playing with a mitered square with a slightly more interesting stitch. We shall see. (And hey, any squares that don't work for the blanket become dishcloths!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lost and Found

I imagine everyone who has a cell phone has misplaced it. Typically you call the phone - in the hopes that it has slipped under a couch cushion or some such and you will be able to hear the ring, or should you have left it elsewhere, that someone will answer and let you know where it is. Which is why a man in Italy called his phone, and arranged a meeting with the person who answered. The problem is, the man had left his phone behind when mugging a lady. She had turned the phone over to police. He also showed up at the meet on a stolen scooter, making things more delicious for the police when he arrived.

In Praise of the Superfan

As the Internet, this bundle of tubes, gets further clogged, as media changes, as the number of channels changes it seems daily, there are discussions. Discussion about many things, the fracturing of the market now that people have more than the three, four, five, six broadcast channels available to them. Discussions of the long tail theory as more people who never much liked what was on network television now have better options. Or people, like me, who thought [insert day here] was always dead have better choices even if all I want is something that doesn't annoy me chattering in the background. Yet, despite that, networks still rely on ratings to determine things like advertising costs and the success of a show.

Shows like "Veronica Mars", tend to have fairly low ratings compared to something like "Desperate Housewives". However the fans that watch are very dedicated. And I think sometimes that isn't taken into account because it's hard to measure. Studies showed that people who own DVRs tend to watch more television than those who don't. People who have fantasy sports teams watch more games than those who don't. When much loved shows such as "Arrested Development" are cancelled it is often rating that are blamed. The fact that the show was popular among the group that watched enough to make its way into the lexicon, that people planned their weeks around it is discounted. The sheer numbers were not there.

Now I understand you reach a point numbers-wise, where you have so many viewers that it matters little if some of them are casual viewers who drop in only occasionally. But there are many shows that survive without having the serious dedicated core. Where am I going with this? I am here today to point out that maybe - in some ways - the superfan or dedfan (dedicated fan) is worth more. Casual fans are great but dedfans are there - usually live. I own a DVR and yet, except when I absolutely can't plan around it I watch "Veronica Mars" live. No fast forwarding. Because I can't wait. So from an advertiser perspective, I am a bonus. Dedfans watch very carefully, as well as repeatedly, thereby increasing their exposure to the various messages displayed in the show. Even dedfans watching through a DVR see several of the commercials - as they sit in shock over the latest revelations, or because they are afraid to skip too far forward and miss a crucial second.

Dedfans follow shows through time changes, day changes and even channel changes. Dedfans show up to fan events, they blog about their favorite shows, and they tell all their friends. Dedfans risk teasing from other people who tell them they take this stuff too seriously (even if many of those same people do check out the show to see what has made this person so crazy).

Now of course the issue is how do you tell a dedfan from a casual fan? Certainly I would categorize myself as a dedfan for some shows, and casual on others. And some shows I was really committed to, have been bumped down the list if not removed altogether. Certainly networks are working on the seasonal storyline with the success of "24" and "Lost" convincing them to work towards shows with season long plots. In some ways, they are trying to encourage dedfans. Or at least fans that tune in every week.

Now there are dangers. Dedfans aren't afraid to let you know how they feel. The Veronica people have at times compared it to a wave of love tempered with papercuts, and being in a room full of ex-girlfriends. But, much like many teachers wrote on my report cards, it is because they know you can do better. Dedfans will also rent an airplane to fly over network headquarters, or start a drive to get DVDs of your show in every library. On their own!

I say this not to denigrate the casual fan. But I think, in many cases quantity is being counted over quality. And while - by its very nature - quantity is easier to, you know, quantify, quality should also be taken into consideration. Casual fans are easily distracted. (For example, the second the season starts up in full, I imagine I will no longer see any reason to torture myself watching "Vanished".) Casual fans won't worry if they miss an episode, will be drawn in by the latest trendy game show or reality show. Or they'll start watching the shows higher on their favorites list, already queued up on the DVR. And then where will you be. Reliant only on your dedfans. Do you have any?

Talk Like a Pirate

As you may have heard, it is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Now there are many ways to show your pirate, privateer or buccaneer love. You can talk like any kind of pirate you want. This kind, this kind, or this kind. There are even knitting pirates! So, don't let this day pass just because you think you can't do it. (You can certainly let it pass, I would just hope you would have a better reason.) So - arggh!

To Knit and When to Not

I have now read Mason-Dixon Knitting and was inspired by their brief list of places you can and can't knit. Also, while making my extravagant yarn purchase, I spoke with a woman who knits in movie theaters. Awesome! So, now I am looking at patterns with an eye towards movie theater-ness. And in fact the blanket I am working on now is good for that, since it's all garter stitch, just row counting needed for the pieces. So, some suggestions for those of you looking for places to knit and not knit.
My general rule of thumb is that a place where you can wear sneakers, is a place you can knit. This is not to say that one must wear sneakers while knitting, but simply that places where there is freedom of dress tend to be more open to knitting. The other two things to consider are attention and hand freedom. Attention comes in to play, both in your ability to knit and pay attention to anything that you need to be listening to or watching as well as other people's perception of your attention level while you are knitting.

At Your Office
(If your job does not have you in a corporate setting, chances are not even these scenarios will work for you. Unless you work in a knitting shop. In which case, knit on!)
DO - on a break
DO NOT - in a meeting. (I have a friend who knitted during a training session and was taken to task for it. There may be exceptions in some offices for this, but generally non-knitters view knitting as proof that you are not paying attention.
DO - on a conference call. I find knitting gives my multi-tasking brain enough to do so that I resist the temptation to start dome web-surfing, and yet I can still listen and participate as necessary.
DO NOT - when you are leading the conference call. Again there will be exceptions, but if you are leading the call, chances are you are taking notes and need full concentration.
Out and About
DO on public transportation. It's a great way to pass the time, and either scare or entice fellow passengers.
DO NOT on a date. Especially a first date. Once you guys know each other there may be opportunities, but again, you have to know the person well enough for them to understand that you can multi-task - as in listen and knit. (Then they might really like it.)
DO at sporting events. You may want a pattern that requires minimal counting, but go for it. Professional, amateur, football, hockey, go for it. If anyone says anything, sharpen your sticks.
DO NOT on a job interview. Unless you are applying for a job with a knitting shop, and even then - I would wait before whipping it out. (The knitting, I was talking about the knitting.)
DO at a coffee shop. Yeah, this one's pretty easy, but I think some people get so used to knitting at home or occasionally at a knit shop, they forget there are other places.
DO NOT in a car. Unless you are a passenger. (This should go without saying, but just in case).
DO knit in movie theaters. That way - regardless of the quality of the movie, you will have accomplished something. Again, this calls for a simpler pattern and this is over-ridden by the date rule above - as applicable.
DO NOT knit at the theater. I'm bringing the dress code rule into play here and theater, opera, or even your child's play count as places where your knitting may not be appreciated. Bring it for the intermissions only.
Do knit a lot. You have my permission!

Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm Not a Crazy Fan

I was reading the guest post by Shari Caudron over at Bookseller Chick about fans. (In the interest of disclosure, I have an entry about TV fans percolating). One of the things she said is that people - even people were at these fan events - would tell her that they weren't crazy like these other people.

Having recently finished Yarn Harlot's At Knits End (and also Knitting), I have been compiling my own list. So we have "Signs I Knit A Lot" and "Signs I'm not a Crazy Knitter and it is Totally Under Control"

A Lot because...
*Knitting is sometimes the first thing I do in the morning.
*I knit sometimes even when my hands hurt. (I'm working on this because I do know that's bad).
*I buy yarn without any idea what I am going to make with it.
*I have enough yarn to knit for the rest of the year and possibly part of next year without buying more.
*I drool when I get yarn sale announcements. (Even though I have so much yarn right now...)
*I have bought a second needle kit so I could have more projects on the needles at a time.
*I am a little sad that there are very limited selections of knitting jewelry.
*I blog about knitting.
*I have knit while on my stepper (a cheapo stairmaster-type thing.)
*I have turned someone's sweater inside out just to peek at how the knitting looked on the inside.

Under Control because...
*I have never bought seventy skeins at one store (as Yarn Harlot mentioned might have happened.) So see - I am in control.
*I have not acheived SABLE (stash aquisition beyond life expectancy).
*I don't buy new needles for every project (as one knitter I encountered said she did, to avoid having to track down the right needles each time).
*I try not to set a lot of deadlines around my knitting (eliminating the crazed knitting instead of sleeping because I decided to make everyone a sweater for the holidays issue).
*The people in the yarn store don't know my name (yet).
*I still buy knitted items.
*I have not found myself looking at items in stores and saying, "I could do that better!" (yet).
*I have established rules for the number of projects at a time and how to take breaks while knitting. And I follow them. Mostly.
*I Don't have yarn in my freezer.

So, see, it's totally reasonable and healthy. Really.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time - aka Week 2

Yep - football is back! And while last week didn't quite go off as I had dreamed, well now there's this week. So, my picks are:
*Baltimore Ravens - Oakland Raiders - Going with Baltimore here. Yay - starting well here! 1-0
Minnesota Vikings - *Carolina Panthers - The Vikings got lucky last week. I don't think that'll work this time. Fine, so they do well against teams with injured RBs. 1-1
* Cincinnati Bengals - Cleveland Browns - Some day it'll be the Browns turn, but not yet. Yay for me! 2-1
* Chicago Bears - Detroit Lions - Should be mostly defense, but maybe the Bear's defense is better at being an offense too. Another - it's almost a trend. 3-1
* Philadelphia Eagles - New York Giants - Philly's first home game and a division rival - should be a good fight though. I (as well as many people who saw this game) should have been right. If we just ignore the fourth quarter... 3-2
* Miami Dolphins - Buffalo Bills - Miami's first home game. (Okay it's half these teams' first home game). It'll be tight, but I think Miami can take them. Totally wrong about that! 3-3
Green Bay Packers - *New Orleans Saints-Should also be tight, but I think New Orleans can continue what they started last week. A bit of a barn burner, but the Saints took it home. 4-3
*Indianapolis Colts - Houston Texans - Please. Since the Skins go up against the Texans next, I will point out that they have some wonderful, dedicated players and Indy is a really tough opponent. 5-3
*Atlanta Falcons - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Tampa's struggling a bit, and Atlanta's coming back home. Poor Tampa. 6-3
* Seattle Seahawks - Arizona Cardinals - Seattle's got it going on. Yeah they do! 7-3
San Francisco 49ers - *St. Louis Rams- The Rams beat a decent team last week without scoring a touchdown. Apparently two in a row was too much. 7-4
* Denver Broncos - Kansas City Chiefs- I think Denver's really embarrassed about last week, I normally would say that's not quite enough to take the Chiefs, but the Chiefs lost their QB. (Of course if he suddenly gets better...) The wind makes a super low scoring game. 8-4
New York Jets - *New England Patriots-It should be a good battle but the Jets aren't quite consistent enough to beat the Pats. Not bad. 9-4
* San Diego Chargers * Tennessee Titans- The Chargers are playing well. More of a rout than I expected. 10-4
Dallas Cowboys - *Washington Redskins-It's really a question of who's madder about losing last week (since they were both dumb losses). I think the Redskins want it more. (And the Cowboys have that idiot playing for them now.) Apparently the Skins didn't know how to properly demonstrate their want. 10-5
*Pittsburgh - Jacksonville - The Steelers aren't sure who'll be in at QB, and last year the Jags pounded a back-up QB, but it wasn't this back-up QB. We1l, go Jax! 10-6
Updated with results.

Project Runway - Ep 10

I give Project Runway credit - while using what are fairly standard reality show twists, they still manage to surprise me. So this week they brought back the last two designers eliminated - Vincent and Angela. Just about any other year I would have loved this idea. Heidi reminded us (and the designers) that she had hinted there would be other benefits to winning challenges - and both Vincent and Angela had won a challenge, so they were getting a second shot. Except they would only get to stay if they won the challenge. All seems very fair.

Except Vincent and Angela were the two I felt were barely hanging on.* Vincent and Angela were the two I felt had survived only because other people did more ridiculous things. And they were the two I actually had questions about their wins. I didn't like Vincent's outfit and felt Uli should have won the Everyday Woman Challenge. And Angela's win was a team challenge. Sure - as she said when Laura mentioned to her that others might be a little resentful about her return - it was her design. But it was really a team effort and in many ways Angela was really fortunate she had Michael and Laura - both very strong - as her team members. Had she been working with Vincent again and Jeffrey, she would not have won. So, while I thought it was a great idea, I was really hoping to say goodbye to Vincent and Angela again at the end.

The challenge was to design a cocktail dress using black and white - the idea being that by limiting the palette, the dress becomes the focus. The twist was that they had to use all fabric purchased (which they were told before they made their fabric purchases. And while I understand the concern, and some of the designers were very clever in their use, I was surprised that no one seemed to consider lining all or part of the outfit with the excess. But, I'm not a designer.

And yay - Laura won! I adore her. I want to channel my inner Laura (and my inner Nina Garcia too). And I give her credit. Michael is really the only one in the competition who hasn't trash talked anyone. He has consistently said congratulations to the other winners (this shouldn't be standout behavior but it is) and consistently said heartfelt goodbyes to the ousted. But Laura is a close second, she and Michael worked together on two team challenges, and bonded early. She has been out there for him when she felt others were taking advantage. She has said things that weren't warm and fuzzy, but they were honest, in some cases honestly concerned for the designer, and not in the, "I'm just being honest" way that Jeffrey has.

And Kayne - I'm tempted to blame your model. Which I know is unfair, but there is one model in this competition who has worn more winners and I think your model has worn more bottom threes and twos than anyone. (This is an unofficial tally based mostly on my memory, so it could be wrong). But after that first challenge with Amanda, that's when your stuff started going a bit far. Now I thought your couture gown was lovely, and this week you failed to really incorporate white. (Of course Jeffrey failed half the dog challenge and he's still there). Love ya! I'm sorry you had to go but I'm glad you're taking Vincent and Angela with you.

For the remaining:
Jeffrey - I often wonder if people think being the jerk is a useful role or if they really are like this. Nonetheless, while I appreciated your ingenuity in using the excess fabric for leggings, I still thought your outfit this week looked trashy.
Laura - It was a great dress. And I really would love to see you in the final three, because I'd love to see you do a collection.
Michael - No matter the result (although I think you are a shoo-in for the final three barring a catastrophe of horrid proportions) - you have participated in a way to do yourself proud.
Uli - Earlier I said I thought you were showing range with a consistent point of view. I may have spoken to soon. While your cotoure-like dress was a stretch, I'm tiring of your stuff a bit. Although I do like that you are not afraid of prints.

*Let me repeat my earlier disclaimer here: I absolutely think that all of these designers have talent. But not all of them are cut out (sorry) to be reality show contestants. Or at least not on this show.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm a Swabbie Update

I wrote about the particular need of one SEAL Justin who needed a bone marrow donor. Well, he reports (posted on I'm a Swabbie) that he has found a match! In fact he not only has a primary match (who is apparently in Germany, our global community grows smaller) but also two backups. So thanks if you added yourself to the list. If you had been considering it, but hadn't gotten around to it yet, please keep in mind Justin is but one of the many people who need assistance.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cars: Old and Older

I bought my first new car in 1996. I was a Saturn, medium red (not to be confused with the regular red which resembles what is called fire engine red). My Saturn was manual - they had tried to talk me out of that at the dealership since my commute was, at the time, relatively short, but I had already been driving a manual and liked the control. And later it turned out when people I really didn't know thought they could ask to borrow my car, I could reply passively that it was manual. fortunately the combination of able to drive manual and willing to ask people I barely know if I can borrow their car, never seemed to intersect.

It had power windows and power lock (an improvement over my previous car). And it was mine. I drove that car to work. I drove it down as far as Williamsburg, Virginia and as far north as Providence, Rhode Island. It forgave me for that little problem when I didn't get the oil changed fast enough and was only in one real accident. We were rear-ended by a tow truck. Fortunately, we were at a stoplight so while it required some pretty work to get the trunk back to it's original shape, there was nothing too serious. I got harassed on the Beltway by a crazed Dallas fan, since I had Redskins stickers on the bumper (and later an antenna buddy). But really my car did well.

And then little things started. I don't want to focus too much on the negative, but there were some things. The speakers on the passenger side went out. The seal on the passenger side doors started to peel make things a bit breezy. The alignment was off just a tad. So, after ten years, I felt like maybe it was time for my car and I to part ways.

I announced this plan around February to my co-worker. Yeah, February. It took a little longer than I thought for the alignment of planets decision, price and money to converge. I had been thinking hybrid for a while. I talked to people who owned Priuses and Civics - all very happy. I noticed that the civic hybrid only came it what I feel are non-colors - silver, silver blue and silver green. Blah. Perhaps now is when I should mention that my brother and sister have both - independently - purchased very different cars that share one thing - the color silver. My brother of course commented at a holiday gathering, that really I should get a silver car. To which I responded, yuck, never gonna happen. So the fact that the Prius came in colors - blue and red - appealed to me.

Then I did some more research - I swung back and forth between Prius and Civic. I checked insurance rates - pretty comparable. I looked at car sites - narrowing it down to two places that consistently seemed to have them. (I had decided to buy used which narrowed my choices a bit. I had in fact planned to buy used when I got my Saturn but at the time ABS brakes and airbags were new and therefore optional, so it ended up making sense to buy new.)

All this led to me driving into a dealership last Thursday - just to look. And ended up with my driving away in my new (to me) Prius. It has all sorts of cool stuff - they have made great advances in design in the last ten years. Oh and the color - it's silver.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bad Carma

My dad had really bad car luck. Not tragic or anything, but pretty bad. He was once hit head on by a bus trying to turn left (my dad and his car were stationary at the time). But the story I remember most is this. My dad and a friend had gone to a local eatery to pick up sandwiches. (I can only assume that they were on their way back from somewhere because when I say local I mean three blocks away.) His friend had completed his transaction and moved out to the sidewalk to wait. While waiting he noticed a car trying to parallel park behind my dad's car. And then he noticed the car totally misjudge it and hit the door behind the driver's door on my dad's car. And then he saw the car stop trying to park and drive around the corner.
It was about this point that my dad exited the shop. His friend had gotten a good look at the car culprit, so they did some looking. Figuring that the person in question probably had business in one of the shops on that block, and that they may have decided to keep on despite the car mishap they took a look around. And found the car. So they waited until the shopper returned. And mentioned that they had noticed her hitting the car. At this point the driver fessed up. Apparently she had a teenager who had just involved the family cars in several incidents thus creating her fear of reporting this to the insurance company. And all was resolved. I thought of this as I read the lovely (and not at all boring) Heather's story about her car.
Some of the most interesting car stories do seem to happen to parked cars. Perhaps because they tend not to involve injury, and tend to involve people trying to get away with something. I had one friend who looked out her window to discover someone had parked their bumper on top of hers. That's right, they had parked so close that their bumper was actually resting on hers. Not knowing who the culprit was, they notified the police who came to document it. When the person returned he told her he had a friend who fixed cars and it would all be kosher. And it was, after she called a few times to remind him that he needed to pay for said damage.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Knit-Alongs

So, after the fun of Amazing Lace, I have signed up for two more knit-alongs (KALs). First, the Dishcloth KAL. Now a proud owner of Mason-Dixon Knitting, I have knit quite a few dishcloths. This was further enhanced by one of the craft stores having a sale on Sugar N Creme yarn. So, I now have quite a stash of it. (I am at this point, unable to leave either of the craft stores without some). So, my particiaption will help to provide purpose for all this yarn. Yay! Pre-KAL results to be photographed soon!


The next is the Knitters Tea Swap 2 - the first occurred earler this year, with fantastic results from what I saw. Combining two things that I adore - one long running (tea), the other more recent but not less addictive (knitting). In fact, this may help with some of the yarn purchases I've made recently. Or be an excuse for further shopping - so really, win-win!



And I just found another one that I am considering, so stay tuned!

Let's Talk

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. I can say whatever I want even if it's not true. (There are some restrictions, such as not yelling "Fire" unless there really is one.) I think sometimes we forget is that teh beauty of such freedom is that it hopfully encouragess us to be interested but skeptical. For example I could tell you that grass is blue. In fact, I just did. Now, you probably wouldn't believe that one since you have likely seen grass and noticed that it is green. But what if I told you that grass is really blue (that's why they call it bluegrass after all), but our pollution has altered the atmosphere such that grass now appears green. Some of you might believe this. Some of you might start reporting this fascinating fact to others. Some of you would think it was ridiculous and stop reading my stuff because clearly I am a nut. And some of you - both skeptical and not - would do a little research. (At which point you would discover that my statement, however beautifully presented - is crap.)

As with all forms of media and communication, its accessibility makes it possible for anyone to say anything. This is great! But it does require a little vigilance from each of us. I have sufficiently annoyed a number of people who forward emails to me such that they have either started checking them or removed me from their list. (I am happy with either result). It isn't that these people were setting out to misinform me. They were quite surprised to discover the information they had passed on was incorrect. I myself forwarded something ridiculous. (I have learned the error of my ways). The same is true of things I read on professional looking websites, in newspapers, and on television. But sometimes you learn a lot in the research process to, even if it is on the way to discovering that tupperware does not cause cancer.

A gentleman has uploaded a video on YouTube *stating that he has serious concerns about ships that Lockheed Martin has refurbished for the Coast Guard. He states that he was assigned to the project (which Lockheed confirms) and discovered several problems. He relayed these problems to both Lockheed and the Coast Guard. He says they pushed it aside. (They state that they looked into it and found no issues.) Mr. De Kort was transferred off of the project and later laid off. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office is investigating and expects to have that completed in the next few months. Some of the ships are already in use.

The story indicates that he had contacted congressmen, but does not state which ones. But now they - or at least Rep. Bennie Thompson is interested.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I expect that we will see more of this, although it remains to be seen whether this becomes viewed as behavior of crazies or a legitimate threat. (I am also highly amused by the gentleman quoted in the story who says suing is more effective than being on YouTube. Because of course, only serious people sue.)

*Registration required, since it's a WaPo link.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Someone Else's Article: Dating Fictional Characters

The Christian Science Monitor has guidelines for relationships with fictional characters. And with the new season started (in Fox's case) or about to start, this is good information for all of us.

Things People Should Know #10

Be careful who you talk to. Or text. For example a teen in Oklahoma sent several text messages to a friend. The messages referenced getting together to buy and smoke marijuana. Despite receiving no response, the teen continued sendin messages into the next day. Then a response came and a meeting was set up. Except instead of meeting up with a friend the teen was pulled over for a traffic violation. And then arrested when the drugs were discovered in her purse. Yes, the person the teen had been texting was, in fact, a police officer.