Friday, December 28, 2007

Where's the knitting?

The last two posts are a bit of a hint as to where most of my recent time has gone. However there has been knitting. It is just the photo taking in the daylight hours that is lacking. So, as a teaser, I will promise to eventually share photos of:
-Dark Victory in action
-A hat or two (In fact a brought an Unoriginal hat as part of a Stingy Santa trade and the 18 month old who liked my pretty gift bag put the hat on (it fit nicely) and then wore it for much of the evening. Very cute. If I had remembered my camera you could do more than just imagine that, but oh well.)
-A convertible
- A Mr. Greenjeans, once again demonstrating my love of crazy colors. Still need to get to the yarn shop for yarn for the collar band...
-I'm working on a shrug sort of inspired by a couple other patterns out there
That's all my brain can come up with. Perhaps when I whip out the camera more will be discovered.

Signs You May Be Working Too Hard

You may have eaten today...
You are pretty sure you know what day it is because it says in the corner of the computer.
The writer's strike doesn't seem like so much of a problem.
You have fond memories of this place called the grocery store.
Laundry...isn't it easier to buy new clothes?
You are drinking tepid tea because to get hot tea would mean getting out of the chair.
You discover it rained outside by reading someone else's blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It All Makes Sense Now!

My apartment is a wreck. Working fifty to seventy hours a week might have something to do with it. You would think telecommuting would help, but no, it makes it worse. There are no elves or menehune who show up to vacuum and empty the trash. And it turns out eating more meals at home leads to more dishes. (Shocking, I know.)
But I was recently reminded of The Borrowers and it all became clear to me. I must have had some borrowers and all this stuff that seems to accumulate, well, they have apparently decided to return my stuff en mass which is very nice, but there is a truckload of stuff crammed into my apartment. So, please, little borrowers take some of it back. Well, maybe not the yarn. Or the books. Or - maybe I just need the menehune to build me some shelves. Come on, please, guys?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Romance Novel Fun

Saw this at Book Binge. I will try to cheat and not use stuff with The for T. But we shall see.
Tall Dark and Filthy Rich by Jill Monroe
Atlantis Rising by Alyssa Day
Red Heart of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu
Adios to my Old Life by Caridad Ferrer

Rogue's Salute by Jennifer Blake
All Through the Night by Suzanne Brockmann
Night Game by Christine Feehan
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
On The Loose by Tara Janzen
Maybe Baby by Lani Diane Rich
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter
Naked Truth by Amy J. Fetzer
Taste of the Night by Vicki Pettersson
Explosive Alliance by Catherine Mann
Ready or Not by Meg Cabot

Made it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Yummy Goodies!

So my cocoa swap prize arrived yesterday (how's that for speedy!)
Box of Fun
It contained:
Cocoa colored yarn - both Sugar 'n Cream and Peaches & Cream. (oooh).
Adorable stitch markers - they say "Hot Chocolate"
Stitch Markers
Chocolate Lotion and Chocolate Lip balm. Mmmm.
Post-its!
And lovely cards
Prizes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joys

Today, work wise was one of those days, where as I said to one person, you would think urgent issues were going out of style. I always say the fact that my day never quite turns out like I expect is the double edged sword of my job, today it might have nicked me a bit.
But - joys. I got packages today. (Including some goodies I will photograph and talk about...some day.)
I have now received all the presents I ordered for other people on line, and when you consider I didn't, erm, start ordering until last week, that's pretty good. (I may have thrown one in for myself.)
I will see various people I love and like over the coming week, even if some of them are being a little nutty, it will all be fine.
Yarn. There is yarn in this world. Right now that really excites me.
Books/words/stories - all very cool.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My DC Heart Goes Pitter Patter

Oh no, it isn't voting rights. But, still DCist is just chock full of great news for me.
First, almost a year later but DC is going to get a quarter. Yes, in monetary ways, we will pretend DC is part of the United States. Kind of exciting.
And now, they have resolved the little anthraxy issue (didn't know that was still a problem, did you) so that mail mailed in DC, wait for it, will have a DC postmark. I know!
And the needle exchange ban was lifted. I know that doesn't quite seem on par, but it ties into the whole city being allowed to pretend it makes decisions for itself like other cities thing. (The ban was put in by people we don't get to vote for after the people we do get to vote for allowed it. But happy, happy - we are focusing on the happy!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Big Block of Cheese Day!

For those of you who are not familiar with the Big Block of Cheese Day (BBOC Day), ALOTT5MA has all the linky goodness.
I loved these episodes for many things, but most especially, the ever popular (if the ALOTT5MA group can be considered any sort of representative sample) Cartographers for Social Equality. What did they want? A world map that was to scale. I don't want to rehash the episode for those who have seen it, but really, almost every classroom I was in in elementary, middle, and high school had a map. And yet most of them were that map we're all used to looking it, with Europe in the middle, Greenland looking larger than all of South America. It made globes look somehow off scale. And there's something twisted about trying to expose children to the world at large and yet presenting them with a constantly skewed perspective of it.
But the real message of BBOC Day was to grant an opportunity to groups that would normally not get such a spotlight. So, whether you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) by eating some yummy cheese or by reading about something you normally wouldn't spend your reading time on, happy cheese!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Little Shrug

I have been knitting. It's the photographing part where I have been falling down on the job. Anyway I saw this yummy bamboo yarn (Bernat - Bamboo Natural Blends) at the craft store and even though I was only supposed to be buying stuff for a specific project (ha!) I caved and bought one skein in Wicker.
I had seen the "Knitty Gritty" episode with the lace sampler shrug but I was too lazy to look up the pattern (or in too much of a hurry to cast on) so I cast on a bunch of stitches (two hundred possibly, it was a rectangle, I wasn't thinking too hard about it). And I picked a pattern out of the stitch calendar and started, and then got bored and picked another and I kept going until I was about to run out, and then I cast off. And I measured it and it had enough give (more the stitch than the yarn) so I sewed up the ends and viola - a shrug.
Bamboo Shrug
My apartment gets enough sun that it's usually pretty warm, this is perfect for the days when it's a little nippier.
As we head into more shrug like weather next year, I may whip up some more, since the sheen of the yarn makes it snazzy enough to go well with jeans or a dress.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Swap Break Over!


I heard about this here and here. Chocolate - yes! (And yarn - we can't forget the yarn.)

PS - Cutest prize announcement!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things People Should Know: Project Runway Again

(Warning - I am going to spoil some stuff if you haven't caught the latest episode.)
While I had gotten accidentally spoiled that Jack would leave, I was unaware that that would lead to Chris returning. And poor Jack, he had to leave so he could go get proper treatment that would require him to sleep and not work 20 hour days and stuff.
Meanwhile Steven - who I am fairly sure said he auditioned for last season doesn't work with polyester satin.
Have you watched the show? They have made clothes out of groceries, recyclables and flowers. None of those are things that are 'normal' or the choice the designer would make. You all have been lucky so far - sure you had to do menswear or make clothes for 'real' people but everything you have done so far involves actual material. (And yeas, Jillian also cheated and used mostly purchased material, but she did it in a similar color, she did it because the shirt's seaming presenting challenges (which - whatever) and her end garment was lovely). So don't talk about how you don't use polyester satin - that is your challenge. Work with it. Or go home. So, while I thought you might be interesting to get to know a little better - oh well. Perhaps there is another show where they only use the best fabrics.

ETA: The folks at BPR have schooled me on the potential horrors of working with polyester satin. I still think even the illusion of using it would have been wise. Especially since this was this woman's wedding dress. While obviously she offered it up to the Project Runway gods, one has to imagine she wanted some of it's essence preserved since they were wearing their 'favorite outfits'.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Books: Archers and Cats

Since Vicki Pettersson and Rachel Vincent are apparently dueling over recipes, I thought that meant I could talk about their books together. (Or I'm lazy - you decide.)
So, I first ran into the Sign of the Zodiac series when I picked up Holidays are Hell. I picked up the anthology primarily for the Marjorie M. Liu story, (yes, this does seem to have become a contest to see how many books I can cram into one entry). Interestingly enough, Liu's work was the only one of the four author that I was familiar with in that anthology and it is the only story of the four that isn't a prequel or sequel. So, I got to "The Harvest" (the Pettersson story) and was totally sucked in. Unlike the other two 'quels, I was part way through when I was thinking this better be part of something because I am not ready to let these people go. (The other two were enjoyable, but I could tell they were 'quels.)
So, I checked, discovered it was a prequel and that the series focused on Joanna (who is a background figure in the prequel). And I hunted the books down.
So, Joanna was raped and left for dead as a teen (the prequel occurs a few months after that). Daughter of a casino owner, she has ditched the socialite life and haunts the streets of Las Vegas taking pictures. Except now, as she turns twenty five - she is about to be hunted again.
Now, while I technically read the stories in chronological order, I recognize that my knowing the background about Warren and Zoe and even Joanna may have colored my perception. I started The Scent of the Shadows knowing more than Joanna did (at least about her Zodiac heritage) which may have actually helped since the places she was sent or people she met, I had a clue how it was going to help. (I tend to be impatient about book characters who ask stuff and get cryptic answers, no matter how well meaning. Although that is better than the book characters who don't ask.)
It may have been my mood, but I got super impatient over a timeline flaw that they acknowledged in the first book but then never fixed. And when I started the second and discovered six months had passed and they hadn't fixed it I was really annoyed. Now I want to point out that it didn't annoy me enough to stop and really, I recognize that with everything else going on - I was hung up on a teeny detail - one that had even been acknowledged in the storyline as an issue. And it did, in the second book (late, but seriously, they were busy) get taken care of. So, really, I should have trusted better.
I received Stray by Rachel Vincent as part of the Paperback Reader October paranormal stack. And what a good thing. I tend to avoid werewolf type stuff (clearly I have made exceptions for Liu's Dirk and Steele series (shapeshifters), some Nora Roberts (werewolf and a shapeshifter) and Day's Warriors of Poseidon series (lots of were-things)). Now, the folks (cats) in Stray are in fact were-cats. I picked up the book and dove in having done nothing more than read the front cover. (Having now read the back - it's pretty good.) Faythe is a grad student having chosen education over the family business of pride management for their territory. But a stray - a non-pride affiliated member attacks - and while she breaks the guy's nose, she also has to head home where they can keep an eye on her. I read one review where Faythe was called too-stubborn-to-live, which I thought was funny. I see the point, she is all about taking her first instinct to the mat, thoughtful analysis for later (and she's an English major, it's an interesting contrast). I finished the book really fast, but I felt while she was occasionally doing stuff and then seemingly surprised that decisions have, you know, consequences, it worked for me. Faythe did learn, if slowly, and try better tactics. She was also dealing with a bunch of alpha males, alpha cats even - and with the male/female cat ratio high on the male side - well the need to assert made sense to me.
So, I enjoyed it and now have to wait for the next.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookies!

I'm no master chef, but I did work for a kitchen supply company for a while and I'm pretty good at following a recipe. But, regardless of your prowess in the kitchen, the lovely Vicki Pettersson (author of the Sign of the Zodiac series which I recently devoured) - has a recipe that is guaranteed to get you some fun. It's a cookie recipe - you might even get cookies out of it.

Fun with the ISP

Day 1:
Hi, I have lost access to the internet.
I have a teleworker account so we determine that they are unable to locate it using my phone number, my address (my building is big) but can find it under my name. At this point we determine that the flashing modem lights are indicative of an outage in the area and that when the lights stop flashing I will know service is restored.
Day 2:
Hi, I have lost access to the internet and my modem just has flashing lights.
I explain that the account is not listed under my phone number but locate a bill with the account number. I am told there is an outage in my area, when the modem lights stop flashing, I will know that service is restored.
Day 3:
Hi, I have lost access to the internet and my modem just has flashing lights. (After waiting twenty minutes to get through.)
I give my account number and while the rep is pulling it up she tells me I need to unplug my router since it is not from the internet company. I explain that I can and will unplug the router, but since the modem that the router is attached to is not getting a signal I don't see how that will help. After I unplug the router she then transfers me to business services. (Aren't we glad I unplugged the router) where I give a second person the account number and they transfer me to tech support who tells me there is an outage. When the modem lights stop flashing I will know that service is restored.
Day 4:
Hi, I have lost access to the internet and my modem just has flashing lights. (While waiting the automated message tells me that there is a reported outage in Bethesda. If I lived there I could hang up now.)
I give my account number and the rep tells me to unplug the router. I do but also remind her about the modem. After pulling up my account I am told there is an outage in my area. When the modem lights stop flashing I will know that service is restored.

Okay, this is why people hate call centers. The call centers force people to work through a script even when it doesn't apply. Since every single time there was a reported outage, all I needed to do was confirm that they were aware of the outage and get an estimated time for repair (which I never did, but hope springs eternal). There was no need for me to unplug either my modem or my router.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Not Buying It

Things I don't believe even when the nice people on TV tell me:
Orange juice is bad for me.
That my life is better because cable can now provide internet access. (And if it is true why won't cable let the phone companies provide cable?)
That all those 'real' people weren't paid for that ad. (You can be paid to tell the truth, but still.)
That none of those people in all those skin commercials have ever used anything other than what they are shilling right now.
That it is still water after you add flavor, sweetener, protein, cheese, and so on.
That anything that only gets 20 mpg on the highway gets great gas mileage. (Great compared to what - a tractor trailer?)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Not Silly Statistics

I was over at R. L. La Fevers's blog and found the link to this site that breaks down the facts behind some of the things you hear about how dangerous teens are and how much danger they are in - or aren't or are not it. My personal favorite is the point that statistically church is more dangerous (from a sexual predator standpoint) than the internet. Hee.
Now, this is not to say that I think kids should stay away from church (or the internet) or even that they are saying that but it is interesting how our personal filters write off some incidents and focus on others. (Yes, the media filters assist in this, but if everyone was turning off the TV or putting down the paper every time they wrote a skewed article about this stuff - well, I won't promise they'd stop, but it would help.)
But next time the topic comes up about the dangers of the internet, I'm totally mentioning this.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gimme Books

Book Binge is running a contest, and we know how I am about those. So, here goes.
1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year?
I don't have a favorite that I pull out each year. But I recently read the Holidays Are Hell anthology and adored Vicki Pettersson's contribution The Harvest which - despite the fact that the title makes me think of a creepy "Buffy" episode - totally blew me away. And it's about Thanksgiving, but that's what I've got.

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show?
"Home Alone". I love the music. And I love the idea of a seven year old who is home alone deciding he needs to do laundry.

3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Gingerbread!!!

4. When do you start Christmas shopping?
I'm one of those people who usually makes some things, so I usually start getting materials for that around September and then they languish until December when I realize that time has just totally gotten away from me. The things I buy - I have discovered I am more efficient if I do it in one swoop near the holidays. When I start early I end up buying more.

5. Do you re-gift?
Yes. I have no problem trying to find better homes for things than mine, as appropriate.

6. What is your favorite Christmas song?
"Silent Night"

7. When do you get your Christmas tree?
I usually get a small live tree (bonsai sized) - don't have it yet though.

8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it?
If I plan appropriately, I actually enjoy the process. If I am trying to do it at the last minute - not so much.

9. Who is the hardest person to buy for?
My sister. She has very specific tastes and it's just difficult.

10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial?
I have an articial one somewhere (also tiny - I move a lot). I prefer live (not chopped) but recognize that's not very practical for a lot of people.

Thanks to fellow contest junkie Super Librarian for the link.

White, Fluffy Stuff

Today I woke up to snow. I live in area that gets snow regularly, but typically in little spurts. To wake up to snow on the first time in the year that they actually predicted it - wow. To have it continue to snow through much of the day - really wow. Of course now it's raining so tomorrow it will be a mess. But today - gorgeous.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

NaNo Reflections

My years are a bit in opposition. Last year work was slow for me - a project that had been expected for me got pushed off and the other projects did not fill up my time all the way. And I knew at the time that was incredibly unusual in my line of work and I should savor it to the fullest and so having finally gotten out in to the world enough to hear about NaNo I signed up. And I won - but man it was by the skin of my teeth on the final day.
This year work is crazy. I am working crazy hours, I feel guilty if I stop at five or six - even though I started at eight thirty. I was ruthless about taking a lunch hour every day, but lately even that has been slipping. So, I knew it was a recipe for insanity for me to attempt NaNo this year. I knew going in I probably wouldn't win. But I had been letting the writing slide and I had a story that really wanted to get out and so this would at least push me to start. And I won. I had to bust my butt the last few days to catch up, but I did.
This proves that whole thing about how you find ways to make time for the things you want to do. (Although I recognize that a bit like believing in a simplistic version of karma that is an attitude that can get you into a big guilt spiral if you examine it too closely.)
Now of course this story is a big mess right now, and it may never see the light of day. But it was so great to get it out of me. I have heard people snicker about how real writers are writers all the time, and, while I see their point there's a reason there are support groups for weight loss and smoking. There's a reason people head off to houses of worship each week. Because sure, you know what you ought to be doing, but it is much easier to do it in a group. Even if it's an online group just knowing that other people who have guests coming to visit or six kids or high powered jobs or a crazy amount of laundry piling up - they are out there plugging away and am I going to let those people beat me? Sure I know my life is my own and I have to do these things because I want to or am convinced it is worthwhile, but doing it with the group makes it seem real. That's why people run a marathons. You could run 26.2 miles any old day (I don't personally get it, but you could) but you do it on the specific day with a group gathered round and it takes on special meaning.
So, I made it. Now I have to polish it. Let me just get that laundry...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Books: Playing With Fire

For all my talk about how I don't read back cover copy, every once in a while as I do the quick scan to figure out if I have the right book, I get sucked in.
Gena Showalter's Playing With Fire was a perfect example. I was in the book store for one book (hee, even I didn't really believe that) which was not actually Gena's (it was not even that part of the alphabet but - you know book fumes, they take over). So, in theory I was just going to scan the back to figure out if Playing With Fire was related to the one I had finished recently. And it wasn't - but seriously - it sucked me in such that I could not leave this book behind. I think I waited three whole days or something before I read it but - scarfed, loved it, done.
So, what did that back cover copy say? I'm so glad you asked:
"Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days. Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye!
It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my Grande Mocha Latte.
Of course I got wicked sick.
Next morning I'm waking up with this total hottie bending over me.
He tells me 1) his name's Rome Masters, 2) he's a government agent and
3) I can control the four elements with a thought.
He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation than I am…. Because now he'll have to kill me."*
Seriously. It was a great read and I hear tell another one is in the works. It lived up to the promise in the back cover copy. It reminds me a bit of Christine Feehan's Game series in that we've got folks who used to be 'normal' and now are trying to figure out how to make things work. That said, I had a friend who felt the Game series moved a little too fast (most of them have been 'different' for longer than since this morning) so this might be more her speed.
Also, we all know there are rules - you know, the person who says, "I'll be right back" is doomed and all that. Well, there was one bit (since it occurs much too far in, so no details) where I was sure X was going to happen so I was reading quickly - braced for doom, and...nothing, it was all fine. So my guard was down and - bam! Totally got me. So, sneaky.

*All rights and permissions of course remain with all the right people

Friday, November 30, 2007

There Were Cheers!


Fingers and brain numb, but I did it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Intentional or Not - You be the Judge

Okay, I adored the menswear edition of "Project Runway" for many reasons last night. (I'm sure it says something about me that I was much more excited for the designers to meet Tiki Barber than Sarah Jessica Parker, not that I don't think SJP is lovely.) But, for me, the moment where I just lost it was with Elisa - who does have a special organic, let's just see where it goes and oh I imbued it with my essence kind of thing - but even so had produced really nice garments (okay the first had that fugly train thing, but if you took the train away...). But so while everyone else was really enjoying the opportunity to work with male models, Elisa, very sweetly mentioned that she was not comfortable watching him undress so she was going to turn away while he changed into her outfit. And in the interview she said, "I have a boyfriend, and he is actually the only person I've ever fitted on intimately." Now, most of me is sure she only meant fitted in the tailoring, garment making sense. But come on, the double entendre is just so...there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For Your Amusement

I really enjoyed the MTV showing of the Legally Blonde: The Musical. And while there are many wonderful moments, this one I find particularly amusing. It is the courtroom scene where Elle feels certain that the pool boy is gay (which movie watchers will remember) but it leads to this song about stereotypes (including the question - is he gay or European) that I just love.
Go - watch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Burgundy, Gold and Black

Sean Taylor was a safety for the Washington Redskins, a Pro Bowl player. He was also a twenty four year old man, a partner to his fiancee, and a father to a one year old girl, a son, a brother, a friend. My thoughts are with his family as they face this difficult loss.
The Washington Post story, registration required, is here.
The (morphing as news is receieved) Wikipedia entry is here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Like Potato Chips

As I said, they are like potato chips. This one was knit on 10.5's (Knit Picks Harmony Options) with Araucania's Patagonia Nature Cotton (201 I think) held double. I made the plain old cable bigger again, in part because 10.5 is a size down from what the pattern calls for and also because I have a big head.
Another Unoriginal Hat

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Always Check Under the Hood

I found this story over at Plot Monkeys, although my google checking skills have not turned up any verification, so I am assuming it is made up. But it's still funny.

A couple drove their car to Wal-Mart, only to have their car break down in the parking lot.

The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car in the lot. The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car. On closer inspection, she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis.

Although the man was in shorts, his lack of underpants turned private parts into glaringly public ones. Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up his shorts, and tucked everything back into place. She took a deep breath and stood up boldly to face the crowd. She looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband, who had been standing idly by.

The mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his forehead.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Power of Reading

Many of us feel that the radio DJ is spying on us because we will hear break up songs when we are heartbroken and love songs when we are not. I have heard that should you start thinking about having kids, the world seems to fill up with pregnant folk and folk holding tiny babies. God knows, you can be surrounded by the coupled at inopportune times.
Books often work the same way. You will find something in a story that just reaches out, possibly even makes you wonder if the author might have been reading your diary. And sometimes, reading about a character's story can help you with yours. That is of course why those of us who love reading spend so much time discussing it because we understand how these stories and their entertainment can have deeper meaning. (It is also why we get annoyed when something comes close and doesn't quite seem to make it.)
But really, all of this is to get you to click on this link, where someone else talks about how reading helped them. Go on.

Proper Thanks

Getting thanks is a bit like getting compliments. You graciously accept them all, even if some of them seem a bit automatic or even empty. (Don't look a thankful gift horse in the mouth - or something like that.) They are also like compliments in that it is typically not appropriate to demand them, even when they are deserved. But it can create some interesting tensions. If, for example, you gave someone a gift and didn't get acknowledgement of it's receipt*, it can be difficult. You may contact them trying to make sure they are okay, you may have conversations with them, you may even make sure that the gift was received - worried perhaps that it had gone astray. Now, Miss Manners says, after a few gifts, someone who continuously fails to acknowledge your gifts, may be removed from your gift giving list. (She also points out that there are some people in your life, that however right you may be, that for whom such a decision may cause more trouble than being right is worth and to consider that.)
But what are the legitimate - if not entirely excusable reasons - someone might not give thanks?
Well, as referenced above, they may have forgotten.
If it was an event that garnered a lot of gifts, there may have been some confusion over who was the gift giver. (Yes, there are steps to prevent this, but sometimes those detailed lists get lost.)
They may be trying to figure out how to properly thank you.
They may think they have thanked you. (One poor woman on "Oprah" had carefully written out thanks for every one of the wedding gifts and then gave her new husband the job of taking them to the post office. Two years later, they were cleaning out the garage and found the box of thank you cards - all addressed - just sitting there. Hubbie had put the box down for a second, got distracted and never got un-distracted.)
They may know full well they need to thank you but circumstances have taken up their time unexpectedly.
So, as we head into a season of thanking and thankfulness - may I suggest, say thank you to lots people, say it sincerely, and while you are giving thanks, give yourself an extra one (or two) for any that might have gotten missed.


*Note: I promise, promise, promise that this is not a veiled attempt to wring thanks out of someone. The holiday made me start thinking about thanks, and this is where my mind started to go.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Cool

A little late on this one, but Steven King says that Nora Roberts is cool. And who am I to argue with Steven King about cool?
But, it would also seem, that if you have been aware of the Nora Roberts cool before this official pronouncement, by having read many/most/all of her books (or even possibly owning a bobblehead) then, you too are cool. So, congratulations on being cool!
(And if that didn't make you cool - first, I'm so sorry, and second, check Steven King's list, maybe something else makes you cool.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Books: Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich

So, Jill Monroe had a little contest where if you stuck yourself in her bio (there's a reason for all of this, but anyway) you could win either her new book or Gena Showalter's next release.
So, I won - yay! And I asked for the Gena book because I had in my possession Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich.
Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich is part of the Million Dollar Secrets line - a group of co-workers won the lottery. Except a former co-worker who used to participate in the club wants a piece of the money, so none of them have it yet. This is the story of Cole, a TV producer and Jessie, a private detective. Jessie and Cole went to high school together. Even though I don't have a big high school crush I'd like to revisit I still love these. Perhaps because the book speed romance makes more sense to me if there's some history. But Jessie is brought in as a guest on the TV show, sparks fly, and the two are both fighting relationship since neither is in the right head space for long term right now. (Or are they?)
I have not read any of the others in the Million Dollar Secrets, and while there were references to some of Cole's co-workers and co-winners finding love, not enough for it to take away from this story. (The issue of the winning is however not resolved in this book.)
It was a really enjoyable (and hot- being a Blaze and all) read.

All Entwined

I loved the Entwined pattern - it is beautiful in its simplicity. So, I, erm, had to hit the yarn store and find some chunky yarn. I found this Farmhouse Yarns Lumpy Bumpy Yarn and it was perfect.
Lumpy Bumpy
Because it's a thick and thin I went down an size and added a few extra stitches, but the pattern is easily adaptable and knit on the long side (still my favorite way to make scarves). It was a fairly quick knit, taking only a few days (one was admittedly a weekend day). And now I have a scarf that keeps my hands warm and still lets me find stuff in my purse. (What, it's a big purse.)
Entwined

Monday, November 19, 2007

Football and Teen Disney

I possibly spend a larger than average amount of time watching the Disney Channel for someone of my young but not youthful age who is also childless.
Anyhoo, it made for some fun watching football this weekend (Redskins and Cowboys - nuff said - really - nuff said) listening to the announcers who somehow got on the topic of Hannah Montana. One made a comment about Hannah being it if you were a young girl and that it's pretty good stuff. The other announcer responded, yes, it's the best of both worlds. Hee!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Repost: Being Helpful

I got the same emails again this year, so I am reposting this with an updated link.

I figure anyone who reads blogs, probably knows about Snopes, but some things it doesn't occur to you (or me) to even validate and since I got this email from three unrelated sources in three days, I thought I would pass it on. There is an email circulating suggesting you send a card to a recovering soldier this holiday season. And while that is a fabulous and amazing idea, the postal service - for the safety of the military personnel - no longer accepts mail addressed generically to "A Wounded Soldier" or "Any Servicemember". However, Walter Reed lists on their site several organizations who support service members and their families, including America Supports You which allows you to email a service member. Also, the Red Cross is running a mail call where you send cards to them, and they distribute them to servicefolks. So, if you wish to do this, these are the ways that your support will actually get through.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Enjoy Your Fake Lawn While You Can

An interesting thing happened in Silver Spring, MD. A few years back the downtown revitalization that I remember people talking about for Silver Spring when I was in high school (you know, just a little while ago) started to actually happen. Part of all the construction was to include a civic center. But since the civic center had to wait for stuff (money, zoning, the whole rest of the area to not also be in construction) they put down this fake grass stuff. Now, those not in the know, just knew there was fake grass. And it was kind of funny - in a could they not afford real grass kind of way. But it was a nice expanse of fake grass, with a bench or two. And people, especially in nice weather, started to hang out there. Come down for the shopping or the eating or the movie-ing and then sit out on the fake lawn. People picnicked, they tossed around balls, they sunned, they read, they chatted.
So, as Marc Fisher pointed out over a year ago community was already enjoying the space. And so folks started to wonder, did we really want to spend all that money to close down the space in the hopes that it would later reopen as something for the community when it kind of already was?
Well the lawn's got a little while longer while they put together the construction bids, so enjoy it while you can.

Thanks to DCist for the link.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Proud to be Unoriginal

When I saw Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat - it spoke to me. Something about a quick project on big needles or something. Although I used skinnier yarn, so even doubled it wasn't quite as quick but it was just as fun and this may be this year's knitting potato chips for me. (I'm such a flitter knitter, who can tell.)
So - using yarn from my lovely swappers, I cast on.
I started with the Burgundy Cherry Tree Hill yarn and while I used the yarn doubled, I also doubled the stiches. I did this in stockinette for a little over an inch, then I did a purl row and one more knit row. The idea was to create a little itch preventing liner. Then I upped the needle size and did one row of all decreases to get the stitches back to normal. I did end up making the simple cable (compared to the, um, two part cable that separates and comes back together) eight across instead of four across because the Araucania Magallanes is a lighter weight, even doubled, and I have a big head. (Literally.)
Unoriginal Hat
I still need to sew up the brim (although its is cute with the roll effect, it does not help with the slight itch in it's current configuration).
So, I cast on Saturday evening while movie watching, and worked a little Sunday Morning and then again Sunday evening so it wasn't quite the one one movie sitting I imagine it would have been if I used chunkier yarn but it was still quick. And fun. And I like the end result.

Words People Understand

One of the ongoing debates I have with myself is about words. Because words have specific meanings, but those meanings do evolve. My linguistics professor talked about the word intercourse which now is so often linked with the word sexual that the sexual part is almost implied.
But, I also think people understand context and how that affects things. And while there are plenty of jokes to be made in the English language where we have homophones and homonyms and all sorts of things that can be so confusing, we seem to get by.
ChaliceChick had a discussion about words a while back, and one commenter gave the example that the word dike in the Netherlands has a perfectly legitimate and non-pejorative meaning that is unrelated to the possibly offensive or possibly reclaimed slang word for lesbians in the US.
So, while I recognize that the word ho right now is used pejoratively to describe women as whores I also have no trouble understanding that a person in a red and white suit using the word repeatedly is expressing what some might call holiday cheer. So, I am saddened to hear that a recruitment firm warned Santas in Australia that use of the ho, ho, ho might be found offensive and they might want to refrain. Seriously.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Truth in Labeling

You know how sometimes you label a file or folder something and then you come back weeks or months later and stare at it convinced that someone else must have broken in and left a funny named file on your computer. And then you open it, realizing that this is your file but why is it called that. And you read on, and slowly the thought process that led to the naming convention comes back to you and how it seemed totally obvious at the time and yet, now, it seems a little silly that you would have called it that.
Well, apparently (facts are still being gathered and all that) some folks at the DC Office of Tax and Revenue wanted to prevent that. And with setting up phony refunds to corporations, there were a lot of facts to keep straight, it seems. So, the company that received the fake refunds - Bilkemor LLC.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Victory Goes On

Everything I write is sounding crabby, so we are going to stick with knitting. Pretty yarn makes me happy.
Dark Victory
Dark Victory is almost done. I need to seam up the sleeves. I made the sleeves more of a 3/4 length which has nothing to do with my hating knitting sleeves (nothing at all). I also was a little worried about the neckline so I decreased a little faster than called for, which means it has more of a scoop neck than in the original (which I like).
I like the look of the twisted stitches and enjoy how that works on the yoke. I also think the ribbing on the sides - which looks strange when knitting because the ribbing is a little taller than the woven stitch - is so clever and may have to use this pattern as a guide for other sweaters.
And I cannot say enough how much I adore every fleck in the Terra yarn. It is soft and sproingy and nubby and each color is completely fascinating to me.

ETA: Over at Spincerly Yours I found the link to the errata which explains why my bottom looks different. I tend to just go on figuring I am personalizing the design but, you know, if you're into correctness. Or at least understanding why it looks different.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Not That I Mind My Age

I really don't mind being in my thirties. Sure, when I was thirteen I had grand plans for who I would be by now, but I am happy where I am. No, the thing that continues to get me is all these young people. And that each year the people who are younger than me - well there are a lot of them.
I called one friend (back in our twenties) and said, "Do you realize there are professional football players that are our age? Or younger?" (Now some of them who are my age are retired, but we won't even go there.) My friend had gone to a football school so she was quite aware of this, and not so impressed with my revelation.
I was in Starbucks with a friend who pointed to a group of teens seated nearby and said, "They could be our kids." No they could not! I mean okay, technically I am theoretically biologically capable of producing children, and have been so long enough that I could have produced a teen. But even my grand plans (not that those count for much) never had me parenting a teen at this stage of life.
And sure, there was the time they handed me the youth group list with all the birthdates and I realized several of them were born after I graduated high school.
But here's what I just realized. All those people younger than me? There are more of them born every day. Every day more and more people who are younger than me come into this world.
In some ways - it's a bit comforting. There are so many. It's the circle of life. And let's face it - I can't change my age, and don't want to. But man, there are a lot of you young folks. Now, get off the lawn.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Proof of Knitting

Not very artfully draped, but the ocean love goes on.
Ocean Love
I am actually making progress on the sleeves to - helps when you get to break out the big needles.
A couple of folks on Ravlery were flashing theirs without sleeves, and - it does not look as cute sleeveless on me - so sleeves it is.
I really have enjoyed this pattern and have some thoughts about trying it again.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

ROFL at a Tomato

This may be less funny to others. But today, this made me laugh and laugh. It helps that I knew about the fundraiser and the potential payoff, that I'm a big Television Without Pity fan, and a "My So-Called Life" fan, but in the end watching a tomato get on the subway - how can that not make you smile?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All the Pretty Pencils

I read a lot of blogs - journal blogs, knit blogs, television blogs, pop culture blogs, and writer blogs. So, I have run across a link or two or five about the writer's strike. I was reading Pamie when the significance of the WGA strike occurring during NaNo hit me. I don't mean that in the sense that they planned it that way. But isn't it interesting that at this time of year when writers, many of them not currently holding that as their official (ie paid) job around the world dedicate themselves to trying to write 50,000 words in a month (in addition to working those other jobs, and maybe cooking or cleaning or knitting or hanging with the cat, and sleeping too) that a group of writers have agreed to stop working until they can get a contract that includes things like the internet. (In case it catches on.)
I am working on owning the title of writer, and part of my struggle is that since I don't get paid for it (right now) it doesn't seem like my job. But that's silly, if all I wanted to do was make money I would have gone and learned to be a computer programmer back when. And I do write. Maybe not every day (I'm working on that.) But I have no trouble calling myself a knitter and I've been doing that for way less time than I've been writing.
But these people who call themselves writers with ease and dedicate themselves trying to make that their job every day (even though we all know shows get canceled at the drop of a hat and the next crop of shows doesn't come out for a while) they had to stop. So, while I sit there staring at the screen wishing it was as easy at it seems when I think about this stuff in the shower, other folks who had great ideas for stories to tell me, had to stop.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It Better Sparkle

Because really, not even exaggerating, this is the fourth time today they have vacuumed the carpet in the hall. Don't get me wrong, I am glad they are vacuuming it, really I am. But oh my god, what with it being leaf blower season and the neighbors upstairs and next door shifting all their worldy goods I am getting just a little bit cranky. (Can you tell?)

Book Obsession

Okay, be honest with me here, this happens to other people, right? Today is the release of Alyssa Day's latest warriors of Poseidon book, Atlantis Awakening and I get twitchy just thinking about. I need this book. Need to have it in my possession. I need it even though I have a book stack that's a bit high when you factor in the crazy work hours plus NaNo. I need it even though I am in the middle of a book and I just bought several books this weekend (signed even) that I want to read right now. (Okay not right now, but the second I finish what I'm reading now.)
And really, they will still have copies tomorrow or Thursday. I think. I'm sure the print run on this one was bigger so that I don't have to worry they will run out the way they did with Atlantis Rising.
It's like the yarn thing. As Yarn Harlot says, "What if some strange disease made all the sheep bald tomorrow?". Or wiped out the cotton plants. You wouldn't laugh at all the times you bought four skeins of something because it was too pretty to leave behind. You'd feel pretty smart.
And while the writer's guild strike doesn't affect book writers (unless they are also script writers, but they can and will still write books) it does mean I'll have a little more reading time. So really, it's totally normal to want to stock up. Right?
Just in case some strange occurrence prevents me from getting to the book store tomorrow.
Update: Twitching over. Got it. Read it. Loved it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Focusing on the Wrong Part of the Story

George Washington University has had reports recently of swastikas and other hate graffiti drawn on dorm room doors and/or white boards. What did I notice? GWU has a dorm called New Hall. Let me tell you, my university built a new dorm during my years there, and despite the fact that many of the dorms were named after a professor, they named it: New Hall. Personally I thought it showed a lack of creativity. If no one could agree on a professor in the university's last five hundred plus years of history worthy of having a dorm named after them then surely there was something else. And if no one could think of anything, well that's why there are naming contests. Because really, New Hall? What happens if they build another? Does it become Newer Hall?

It's Fun to be Erudite

Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.


Thanks to Lorraine for the link.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Synchronicities

In high school English we called them fabulous realities, stories you could almost never get away within fiction, because people would say it was too coincidental to be true. My mother and her husband were in town last week so we went out to dinner Tuesday and again Thursday. Both times my mother mentioned a gentleman from a neighboring town was participating in a solo ocean race. That Thursday my mother mentioned she had not checked today, but some folks had finished, so assumedly he was close. I got in the car to head home and NPR was airing "The World" and the answer to their GeoQuiz. As the source for their answer - they talked to Mr. Burkhalter. So, of course I called my mom and told her that he had finished and I knew this because he was talking on the radio.

Did I mention?

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that. And I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but things continue to be crazy at work, so I could not have chosen a worse time to add to my mental load, and yet, as another participant said, the idea of disappearing into my character's world for a while is so appealing I couldn't not do it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Scary Tale

A while back I had purchased an adult beverage (aka bottle of wine). One evening, I had grand plans for finishing out the day by partaking of said wine. I had placed the wine in the fridge for appropriate chilling. I gathered up my corkscrew and set to opening the bottle.
It was then that a terrible thing happened. The corkscrew broke. Part of it was still happily embedded in the cork, which was unhappily still in the bottle. The remainder of the corkscrew rested in my hand.
I used to have another corkscrew but have been unable to locate it post-move. A quick scan of the kitchen implements revealed no new information on that front. I considered getting a hammer (I knew where that was) and doing a controlled removal of the cork in the sink. I decided that seemed a tad extreme. (But I considered it for quite some time.)
So, it was for several days before I was able to acquire a new corkscrew and rescue the poor little cork with its poky corkscrew remnant from the bottle and get on to more exciting things (such as drinking the wine. So, in the end all was well.
cork

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Team Spirit

It is well known amongst Capitals fans that owner Ted Leonsis wanders through the different levels during the games, making himself available to fans. I have heard tell that he responds to all emails. And I have never seen such an outpouring of love from hockey fans, fans who boo the officials, as when Mr. Leonsis' face pops up on the jumbotron. (I can only imagine, in contrast what kind of response one might see if Dan Snyder showed up on the screen during a Redskins game.)
So, my brother, who in addition to being a Caps fan, also plays hockey (not in the NHL), told me this story. A fellow player has a tattoo of the diving eagle. He ran in Leonsis at the arena and showed off the tattoo. This was few years ago when there was early discussion of a change to the jerseys. Leonsis asked what the plan was if they change the logo, and said player responded he would have to get another tattoo. Leonsis told him, should they change the logo, the new tattoo was on him.
So, I asked my brother if with the jersey change this year, a new tattoo had been acquired for the player. My brother said yes, and pointed me to this article.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Words Can Change the World #2

Test your vocabulary and feed hungry people. Free Rice allows you to test your vocabulary. While you do this, the advertisers names appear on the bottom of the screen. This advertising helps pay for rice that is donated to hungry folk through the United Nations. So, it's a win-win, test your smarts and help others at the same time.


Thanks to the Cherry who sent out this link.

Friday, October 26, 2007

But My Story is so Much Better

I come from a family of storytellers. And as we all know, family members will embroider and embellish stories (right in front of you) and then, possibly, accuse you of being a stickler when you try to inject a little truthiness.
But families are special.
However, staffers in the US Capitol want to extend this more-fun-than-the
-boring-truth approach to the Capitol staff tours. Here's how it breaks down. Right now you can get tours of the Capitol from staff member (arranged by your congressperson or congresspersons, should you be fortunate enough to have more than one). There are also trained tour guides who would be easy to find once they finish up the visitor's center. So, they want to do away with the stafff tours. Now, to be fair, I am sure staff members would not be prohibited from showing friends or family around. But, the trained tour guides want to put this in place, in part because staffers tend to share stories that, while fun and pervasive, are lacking in fact. Their response - our tours are more fun.
And they may be, but it seems like if the staffers really want to keep leading tours they could:
*stop sharing the untrue stories
*and/or warn people that some stories are unsubstantiated
*and/or volunteer to go through a short training session that the professional tour guides to hold.
I'm sure there are other variations, but I find it fascinating that folks want to defend their right to mislead people, because it's more fun.
Now, I know it sounds like I'm being a big stickler, but if I travel from out of town (or even across the city) and arrange for someone to give me a tour, I don't think it's crazy to think that I have an expectation that they know what they are talking about. Or will be honest about what they do know. And if people don't want their tours cluttered up with facts, what do they need the staffers to lead them around for?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Vote for me!

Voting has finally opened in this year's Scarlet Boa contest. So, please go vote. In fact, please go vote for scene#26 which might be by someone you know. And please ignore the fact that I screwed up the html and stuck two paragraphs together.
Vote here. They ask for your address because one voter is going to win a prize. So, really, it's because I want to help you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Call Bull

When I was in college in the UK, we were on a trimester system. They were in the process of slowly moving to a semester system. And while everyone blamed Americans (I kept pointing out that there were plenty of American schools on trimesters, and really the switch had to due with European Union rules, but anyway) the thing that fascinated me most was how semesters - simply dividing the academic year into halves instead of thirds, was blamed for potential summer job loss, loss of courses in the catalog, changes to the grading system and many other things that were not at all related to how the year was divided.
I feel the same about DVRs. People, myself included, have been making arrangements to watch television at a time other than the original air date for years. DVR's have certainly made this easier but this is better for the TV people. It is better because when my show gets moved - whether due to a schedule change or if it gets bumped to midnight because of a basketball game - my DVR finds it for me (assuming the scheduling information was provided, but that's a separate issue). I have a dual channel DVR that lets me record two things so I watch more. And I can pause live TV so if there's a phone call or interruption, I can focus on that and get back to my programming when it works for my life. So, my DVR helps me watch more. And I know it makes it harder to count, because I may not watch the Sunday show until Thursday. But they have the ability to count that stuff. Sure, it's harder and more complex. But the ability exists. And let's face it, back when I was using a VCR - they had no idea. Now they know I recorded it and watched it. (Which is a bit creepy, but whatever.) So when TV folks try to tell me that shows are suffering because of DVRs - I call bull. The fact that I watch the show later than it's original time doesn't hurt them. It's the fact that I can pick and choose and design my own personal viewing schedule. So, I don't end up watching crap I don't like just because it's the only thing on. Especially with all the channels these days. Look, you can certainly argue that people somehow don't know about your show, or haven't been given enough information to believe that your show is for them. But the rising use of DVRs isn't stopping them from watching what they want to watch, it's helping.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Free Yarn!

Well, Ms. Howell (of "Knitty Gritty" and other such fame), promised free yarn for sticking this pretty on your blog. And really buttons and yarn are clearly things I love.

Now, of course the button has a purpose (excuse me, I am really tired and right now I am hearing the mouse from "An American Tail" say "puhpose" and it's really funny). The Powers That Be have decided the world does not need more episodes of "Knitty Gritty" and so this upcoming podcast will be the way to get new Vickie Howell content out into the world!

Ocean Love

Despite my stated love for cool colors, and ocean colors, I had not realized what a rut I was in. Don't get me wrong, nothing will stop me from thinking that blues and greens are awesome and flattering and pretty, but I may consider making an effort to expand my color repertoire. (My purchased wardrobe demonstrates better range).
I brought two projects with me on my short trip. Both new, in part because I had reached a crucial point with another that was already cast on that was going to make it a bad traveler and because I had pretty, pretty yarn!
The one that got the most attention was the Cherie Amour pattern. I had picked out some ocean colored Manos and a complimentary solid that I knew wanted to be something. The lacy bit is exciting enough to be fun, but easy enough to do while multi-tasking. (I was in well-lit areas, use your judgment for movie theaters and such.) It was fun on the plane. It was fun the next day when taking notes was overloading my brain but knitting helped me focus just enough. It was great when we sat in the library at the hotel chatting, relaxing, and later drinking. It was so great I paid no attention to the change to ribbing (where I had originally planned to change to the solid yarn) and kept going until running out of yarn on the first multi-ball forced me to stop. (So, it doesn't look quite as well planned, I am fine with this.)
Cherie Amour - In progress
The bottom bit is knit on big needles so the visible progress is really rewarding. And I love that most of the shaping is done by switching to smaller needles for ribbing.
The only snag I see up ahead is sleeves. I still don't like them. But maybe big lacy sleeves will be more fun. I started off thinking I could cheat on the sleeves, make them smaller or something, but I think the proportions would look funny with little sleeves. But that's a while.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cherry Con

I am going to do this in sets of five - partly to avoid a post that is tome length and partly to create a semblance of organization.

Five Things About the Goodies:
1. The decorations and goodies and freebies and all of that rocked.
2. Blinking Sunglasses
3. Flamingos - pens, headbands, table decor, key chains, and lollipops.
4. Bubbles!
5. Books - Oh my all of the books!
The Books I Got

Five Things About Cincinnati and Covington:
1. Lovely.
2. Incredibly nice people (with the possible exception of one bus driver who wouldn't let us all on even though the bus didn't look very full).
3. Covington really suffers from a need, in my opinion, for a Starbucks that is open on Sunday. Just saying.
4. The Levee was great fun.
5. Great public transportation (even if the routes seem strange). Seriously, I am very picky about public transportation (or lack thereof).

Five Things The Authors Talked About:
1. Just write it. Sometimes the stuff that you'll end up cutting later is an integral part of the process, letting you get to know your story. If you keep polishing the first chapter, you'll never get to the end.
2. You'll be able to do a better job of polishing the first chapter once you have written the end.
3. Fuzzy goals are hard for readers to follow. Concrete is better.
4. Lots of people will give you advice and rules - down to the kind of binder clip. Take what you need, ignore the rest.
5. Anything you can do - collaging, or a soundtrack to get yourself into story mode helps.

Five Things I Know About the Cherries:
1. Cherries rock! I may not remember your name - or I may remember that there was an XXXX and a XXXXX but was XXXX the blonde or the brunette - but I still know, you all rock.
2. Cherries know how to have fun.
3. Cherries know everything. (Clearly). Books, alcohol, football, religious symbols, the wonder of Veronica Mars and the joy of Manos Del Uruguay yarn.
4. There are all kinds of Cherries.
5. Cherries are wonderfully creative - write those stories, quilt those quilts, knit, crochet, make clay dogs, cherries do it all.

Five Things that Are Probably Less Funny in the Re-telling:
1. Krissie read a sex scene aloud (having been dared) and we made our blinky glasses blink to represent the hotness.
2. I made someone take a picture of me blowing bubbles because I was at a party last month and couldn't do it.
3. I tried to convince people that they wanted to give me the ARCs they won. (Okay, that was actually serious, I would have given them back though. I just want to read them.)
4. What is the button on the back of the tiara for?
5. What happened to that bridesmaid?

I'm Back!

I was at the Cherry Con, aka the Jennifer Crusie Writer's Conference for the last few days which means I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted (although in a totally different way than my day job gets me). I have lots to talk about and I did some reading, and knitting, in the middle of all the talking and the listening and the hard thinking. And then there's all the books I came back with. (My roommate for the event was astounded that I went to the bookstore while I was there. I had to get a present that needed to be signed. The other four books just fell on me.)
So, lots of stuff coming as soon as I unpack my camera, my thoughts and all that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Things I Don't Get

To each his or her own. Really, I do mean that. However, there are things that, to me, do not make sense. I understand that some people choose not to wear underwear. (Some people really want everyone to know they are wearing underwear but that is a whole other topic.)
And while, personally, I am a little more concerned about things like gravity and laundry and ending up on some website with parts of me I didn't choose to share with the world on display, I understand that others are less worried about this, and that's great. And some people find bras or underpants constricting, which I can also see.
But how is adhesive less constricting? How is having something stuck to you more comfortable than fabric? And now I learn that not only are people using adhesive in place of bras but there are bits for those who are sans underpants. Now, to be fair, those seem to be designed to stick to your pants, thereby alleviating my laundry concern, but I feel certain that some people are using these with skirts, and ew. Your choice, but, ew. And I am totally trying to avoid talking about the removal, because how is that an acceptable trade-off for anything?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My First Stitches

Let me apologize up front, things have been crazy enough that I have not been able to take daytime pictures of any of the purchases so, you will just have to imagine their beauty.
I went to my first Stitches this weekend - just the marketplace. I decided after reading last year that folks had travelled down from New York that it must be worth checking out, even though I heard rumblings it wasn't so interesting anymore.
And while I might take public transportation next year because parking in downtown Baltimore is pricier than I remembered (my Balto travels tend to be toward the edges), it was worth it.
I saw many people. I stopped and stared at the yarn of strangers. I saw the Blue Moon booth and saw Socks that Rock in person (and bought some, and some bamboo too - so soft).
I talked to folks from Cascade and Manos and told them how much I loved their stuff. I also told the person in the Manos booth that I was high from all the yarn fumes - classy.
I went to the WEBS booth where they had The Fibre Company's Terra which I had been lusting after ever since someone mentioned they were thinking of doing one of the Romantic Hand Knits patterns with it (an idea I have now totally ripped off). And they had a discount if you bought in bulk, plus no shipping - instant gratification.
I stopped by the Neighborhood Fiber Co booth to tell Karida I loved her stuff. (Any locals - new yarn launch!)
I ended up hanging out for an excessive amount of time at the Celtic Knot Yarn Shop booth where I determined that I need to go check out their store and that I need to (after some budget recovery) buy Storm Moon Knits yarn. So pretty!
I ran into the person who's Mystery Stole I had fondled at the Yarn Harlot event, so that was fun. (My mystery stole is in a time out, while it ponders it's bad behavior. I may be ready to face it by December or so.)
Anyway, I had a great time, saw some great yarn, got to hang with some great people. So, yes, it was worth it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

And More Yarn!

My Tea Swap package arrived, and oh, am I spoiled. Becky, is/was my lovely hostess.
Tea Swap Box
*Cocoa Chocolate Chip Scone Mix. (Just add water. I mean really, even my lazy/busy self can do that.)
*Tea Cup (lovely).
*Tea - Jamaica Butter Rum (Safe for drinking while working)
- Lemon Blossom - an excellent sounding iced tea mix
- Double Spice Chai Black Tea
- Wild Raspberry (for when I need more Vitamin c, less caffeine)
*Tea Tongs - to save my fingers as I chase those round tea bags.
*A Teapot shaped spoon rest
*Soap - Lemongrass and Green Tea (relaxing - it also has one of the funnier warnings on the back since it mentions I should not apply soap to my eyes or lips.)
*Yarn - Arucania hand dyed Atacama - it's alpaca and it's lovely pinks with red and plum bits.
*Dishcloth - Becky knit me a great moss grid dishcloth, inspired by the Mason Dixon handtowel. Check her blog for the details - here.
Tea Swap
(Please ignore the junk on the side, my camera batteries were rapidly dying so I didn't get a chance to crop out the - uh - organization going on there.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Yarny Footbally Stuff

Things are so crazy at work - it's totally that I have so much to do that I think I'll just sleep until it goes away kind of feeling. (Or is that just me?)
Anyhoo, a bright spot was that today I got a package. (I actually got two, but one is at the post office so I have to wait to see what's in that.)
Football Swap
It's my football swap package.
First, there is this gorgeous Burgundy Cherry Tree Hill yarn.
Burgundy Yarn
And then there are all the football goodies! Beads, Redskin tacks, inflatable football, football notepads and party goodies! Yay!
Football Swap Goodies
So, thanks so much to Liz!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Knitting Saves the Day (on TV)

Last night's "Pushing Daisies" (I'll be vague for those who still have it queued up somewhere) - one of the characters was knitting to relieve stress. (I'm going to chuckle for much of the day over the sidearm cozies.) And so, when the [bad person] trapped them, the knitting needles the knitter had in his pocket were integral in their escape.
I recognize this does nothing to help the "twee" that the show has been charged with, and I still have no idea if there is enough to sustain a season, but really, sidearm cozies.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Custom Ordered Free

I realize there is no harm in asking. I am a member of the local Freecycle - so that I can get rid of stuff. (I am currently not allowed to even look at the stuff marked OFFER until I get the remaining boxes in my kitchen taken care of.)
I check the ones marked WANTED since people might have something that I am not really using and can get rid of thereby speeding the destash of my apartment. (To make more room for yarn. Or books.) And there is nothing wrong with asking - that is in fact part of the established protocol. Perhaps it is just me, but while I see asking for "kitchen stuff" or "wall hangings", I find it a bit amusing to see "television 30" or larger with remote" or "tablecloth - blue only". I mean sure, someone might have a spare television or blue tablecloth. And - no harm in asking. But, isn't the idea of freecycle that we reduce waste? Making better use of the resources already out there by passing on things to others who need them rather than passing them to the dumpster. Now clearly, I don't know the stories behind these requests and there might be legitimate reasons that only these specific things will work for their needs. And you might as well see if you can get it for free before trying the next outlet (no pun intended).
But it seems a little bit like trying to special or custom order something and get it for free. I really need this exact thing, and I'm hoping you'll just give it to me, so I don't have to buy it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wish for Hair

Pantene has a program called Beautiful Lengths where they provide real hair wigs for those with cancer. If you go record a wish on the Beautiful Wishes site, you will be entered into a contest where they may select your wish for granting. But they will also donate one dollar to Beautiful Lengths for each wish. So, go wish.
It was interesting, the first wish they ask for is a personal wish so I felt all selfish wishing for something for myself when I should be wishing for world peace or textbooks for kids or something. But don't worry, you make a community wish after that, that's where you can get broader minded.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Readers and Knitters are Dangerous

Over at ArghInk, Jenny reviewed a book about being a female action hero (spoiler alert: she didn't like it). But things get even funnier when she asks for suggestions of what should have been in the book.
First, I did not know so many people carried condiments. (Not a typo).
Second, I knew knitters were dangerous. But I had not spent enough time considering that knitting gear might be useful in case of vampire attack or what yarn to use after garroting someone so as to cover up the bloodstains.
Or how to plan an escape with a crochet hook.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Far Be it From Me to Argue

(I know, but it sounded good, right?) So, for opening night (which usually falls around my birthday - astonishing I made it for so long without being a proper hockey fan) the Caps have asked via newsletter for folks to Go Red on opening night. Now, I understand that red is the dominant color of the new jersey. But guess who they are playing, the Carolina Hurricanes. Guess what color their uniform is? Nothing against showing the home colors, but it just seems like maybe blue would have better distinguished the Caps fans from the Canes fans. (Hey, it's not that far a drive, they will be there.)
After all, back when we had the black and gold on the dark uniform, I was accused of being a Penguins fan by a troublemaker in the food line. I know that just about every color is in use in the league (pink seems to be underutilized...) and so no matter what the uniform looks like it will be close to someone else's. But really, couldn't it at least be Go Red, White and Blue? Sure, it's longer. But come on. Don't make your fans look confused.

Gigi

I was unable to resist purchasing Romantic Hand Knits: 26 Flirtatious Designs That Flatter Your Figure by Annie Modesitt. Shortly after I was in the vicinity of a yarn shop and had to go in to buy some stuff for a swap package. The yarn shop kindly allowed me access to a copy of the book so I could make yarn purchases for myself.
And it happened. I saw this yarn that I immediately scooped up and hugged.
I'm Allergic to Wool
It was Farmhouse Yarns I am Allergic to Wool, and it is a cotton rayon super bulky yarn. It isn't cheap but it's so pretty and snuggly feeling. It's 150 yards in that skein to give you a sense of how truly bulky it is. I have done something clever with the tag, so I have no idea what the official color was, and the ones on the website all look more blue than turquoise to me. But I love every bit of the color.
I took the Gigi pattern from the book, although since it is knit with a much skinnier yarn, I modified it for one pattern repeat. I knit it on 10.5's (the options needles).
I also decided it would be nice to make a hooded scarf, so when the scarf went from fingertips to my shoulder, I started increasing (twice on each row) until I had enough for a second pattern repeat.
This is how far one skein got me.
One Skein also
So then, when the hood part made it around my head I started decreasing (twice on every row.
I really like this stitch pattern, it follows a fairly simple numerical pattern that was easy to remember and just eyeball, which made it a fairly portable project.
And this yarn is so bulky, progress was visible pretty quickly.
Here is a closeup on the pattern and how much yarn i had left over.
Leftover
And here is it what it looks like on.
Modeling Gigi
Pattern: Gigi by Annie Modesitt
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony Options - size 10.5
Yarn: Farmhouse Yarns I Am Allergic to Wool - 1.5 skeins.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Squee!

They are looking into remaking "Cupid". Alan Sepinwall has the scoop here. If you don't somehow believe that the show was excellent in it's original version, you can go to Rob Thomas's site and there is a script of one of the episodes that didn't make it there. (It helps if you hear Jeremy Piven's voice in your head as you read.) Or follow Alan's directions for the Youtube.

And....

Also at the Baltimore Book Festival, I met co-founder of Paperback Swap Richard Pickering. (I also had a lovely moment where he said, "Hi, I'm Richard Pickering" and I said, "You want my what name?" Yes, I am fun to be around.) They had a booth at the festival where they were spreading the word, and giving away free books (the Baltimore Book Festival definitely has more books than the National one). We took a photo together (his camera). And we chatted. I didn't have my number of transactions memorized (I tend to focus on the you have saved over $300 part) but for the record, it stands at 78 received, 86 mailed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Booky Weekend - Part 2 Baltimore

My plan was to stalk Tim Gunn. Oh, and check out the Baltimore Book Festival.
Due to some crazy traffic, I was a smidge late. And then I had to find the map (which is located in the middle of the festival, mmkay). But I made it and did not seem to have missed much. The tent was full to overflowing, but I managed to find a space behind that sound guy where I could see Tim pretty well, considering.
Tim talked about the book process and how he struggled with finding the angle. He spoke with Diane von Furstenberg who advised him that his voice as an educator was so much a part of him, he should hang on to that and that inspired him to approach it in more of a how-to fashion.
Gunn talked about the struggle to find time to write. He tried writing during the day, but his day job interfered. He tried writing early in the morning, but that didn't work. He took a sabbatical and tried writing from home. He said at the end of that period his windows gleamed and there was nary a speck of dust, but the book - not so much.
So, then the publishers kidnapped Gunn and trapped him in their offices, sequestering him until he had a book. It was in the midst of this that Gunn had a meeting with the Bravo folks who wanted to do a show that was more about him, and so he went to the meeting and mentioned that he was so grateful to be out and about, and the Bravo people found out about the book and thought that was a great idea for the show, and there we are.
Gunn had been unable to see the most recent episode of "Guide to Style" since the hotel he was in did not have Bravo. (I feel his pain.)
Gunn spoke of being on an "Oprah" episode where he was assisting in a "get better" process for twenty women. He said he arrived at the store to discover a stylist had preselected outfits for the women, but the women didn't feel the outfits reflected them. With the permission of the producers, Gunn took each of them out into the store and helped them find an outfit they liked. They ran into a bit of a snag since one of the women was a horse trainer so did not have a lot of need in her life for dresses. Gunn helped her find a great pair of jeans, instead.
Gunn also said that "Project Runway" season four would be fabulous. He mentioned that he says that every season, but said that the quality of designers who audition each year increases. Gunn talked about how for shows such as "American Idol" it was a little easier to just step off the stage and go; whereas for a designer it took a little more to get going.
He gave up a smidgen of scoop about the upcoming season to say that one designer had a little meltdown and when confronted confessed that they had assumed that the editing made the challenges appear shorter and more compressed than they really were.
Ha!
Gunn also mentioned that viewers may wonder about the judges. He said there was one challenge where one designer's outfit was so bad that Gunn was musing to himself that it was a shame for the viewers at home, since there would be no tension in the outcome. The designer in question had, in fact, packed up in preparation for being aufed. And then, the designer won!
In response to a question, Gunn spoke of some of the past contestants. Most of it has been floating about, but he did mention that Andrae has been teaching at FIDM, which I hadn't heard.
Overall he was just as lovely and charming as he appears on television. The tent was packed and they actually ran out of books for the signing.

A Booky Weekend - Part 1 DC

This past weekend was both the National Book Festival and the Baltimore Book Festival. I'm going to break them up to prevent a ginormous post.
Saturday I went with a friend to the National Book Festival. I had originally thought that there weren't a lot of people I wanted to see (since they had no representation for romance and the only paranormal was paranormal kids). But, looking back over the list I found that Gene Luen Yang was speaking, author of American Born Chinese (which now comes with two stickers).
(There were a bunch of authors scheduled to speak at four, including Mercer Mayer - who I saw as a child at the now closed Cheshire Cat Children's Book Store. However, I was pretty sure my stamina was not going to last out in the heat and wind that long.)
Yang spoke about wanting to be an animator as a child. He also had three reasons why being a graphic novelist was stupid. They are: it isn't sexy, it takes too long, and it won't make you rich. He suggested trying to hit on folks and saying first, that you are a novelist, and then (to different people) that you are a graphic novelist and seeing the differing reactions.
Yang is still working in the school system - as a computer science teacher and as a database administrator. As to the time graphic novels take, he said American Born Chinese took five years, although he was also working full time, getting a masters, getting married and buying a house.
Yang also mentioned that one of the great things about being a graphic novelist is that some time and a trip to Kinko's and - Voila - you are a graphic novelist.
He talked about how his mother, being artistic herself, had been fairly supportive of his dreams; while his father had concerns about the practicalities. Yang's father made a deal that if Yang majored in something sensible, he'd leave him alone.
So, Yang majored in Computer Science and then got a job working in programming. And then he felt the call and decided to become a graphic novelist and a teacher. (He had given up the animator dream when he found out that animation takes even longer than graphic novels, although they do get benefits.)
So, Yang started getting clippings in the mail about computer programmers and what their salaries were.
Well, so he wrote two graphic novels. And then started working on American Born Chinese which he said came from his desire to do a tale based on the Monkey King, and also to look at ethnic identity - both from the perspective of a kid growing up in the US and also with this "funny" character, so in the end he decided to see if he could do all three in the same novel.
Well, American Born Chinese was finished and published and Yang gave great credit to librarians who saw that this story would have resonance and really pushed it out there. And the Chinese Language newspaper published a story about American Born Chinese, and Yang said, since then, he has not gotten any clippings in the mail.

Making the Creepy Adorable

I know that there is a long tradition of children's entertainment parodying more adult entertainment. But, this, is awesome. Sure, parodying "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" seems creepy. And yet - oh just watch.

Thanks to ALOTT5MA for the link.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week. So, go read something other people think you shouldn't.

My Trip to Massachusetts!

Well, I went to Massachusetts this weekend, virtually that is. Yes, my Knitters Virtual Vacation Swap package arrived and what a trip I had. Thankfully, I have all these goodies to remind me.
KVVS Package
Brochures galore for all the sites I visited. Also, a postcard from Mt. Greylock - the highest in the state. Aimee took me to WEBS, where my brain overloaded and I now have no recollection. Thankfully, I have some yarn. And a catalog. (Aimee is such an enabler.) The yarn is yummy Berkshire Bulky in Fuschia, Colonial Blue and Amethyst.
I've got Maple goodies - some syrup, a lovely Maple ornament, maple covered peanuts and some yummy maple candy (disappears fast, let me tell you). Also a tea infuser and some maple tea. Ooh - I love maple tea. Also, some local soap which looks divine.
There is also a travel mug from Six Flags, but it did not want to be photographed, it kept rolling away and hiding.
I also have a Massachusetts magnet and a Cider Day recipe book. I flipped through the recipes, and the Hot Apple and Potato Salad - for example - sounds delicious.
So, thanks, Aimee for a great trip!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Needles

So, I have had the Knit Picks Options Harmony Needles for a bit now, so I feel ready to talk about them.
The Look
The colors are more muted, as others have pointed out. I prefer them as they are, but really, since once you are knitting you are looking at the kitting and not the needles so much, I didn't have a strong preference.
I knew going in that the needles do not have the size marked, which clearly puts them below every other needle I own on that front. Knit Picks does offer a sizer and also some danglies you can put on the cord, but, I think those are not the greatest solutions. The card, with the sizes marked, does fit in the case that comes with the Harmony needles, so that helps. I am also thinking of marking mine up with a a Sharpie. Because I know this will be a problem once I have all these needles engaged in projects.
The Feel
They are very smooth. The wood is laminated and shiny (although not in a distracting way). The Clover needles and the Skacel are my other wood needles, while these look smoother, in the end I think it's probably a wash. But they are very smooth.
They are pointy. I use the Denise's all the time which others have complained are not so pointy, so clearly pointy is not a big thing for me, but they are pointier than Denise or Clovers. The Skacel's I have are fours, so they are pretty pointy.
Needle Tips
I have never found the memory on Denise's to be a problem for me, and it seems to disappear after a round, but the Options clearly have no memory (for good or bad).
I have not yet had any issues with the Options needles coming undone. I did once have that happen with the Denise's - it was early on before I figured out how to twist them until they locked. The Options needles started to untwist a few times, on one project, but I used the cable key (comes in the package) and that seemed to take care of it. The Options needles come with a cable key. It's basically a thingie that you stick in the hole at the join to give you leverage to twist better. (Kind of like the extension thing on a car jack.)
I have heard from others that you can also make use of the hole to thread a lifeline through so that it is magically set up as you knit. I may need to make use of this for the Mystery Stole.
Both the Denise and the Options set come with little caps that let you turn the cable into a stitch holder which is great for victims of starter-itis (although you'll need more cables) and for projects where the knitting is started in the round and then split.
The Denise set also comes with connectors that let you attach cables together, thereby increasing the number of sizes you can achieve with the same set of cables. I have used this a lot for big projects or projects that expand. The Options cables do not currently have any cable connectors.
Even though they are wood, I think for air travel, I would pack the Options needles and take the Denise's on the plane. While I think most wood needles look pretty innocuous, somehow I feel that the Options set looks a little less so. (Who knows what the TSA might make of the cable key.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Customer is Not Presumed Innocent

I heard the story about the guy who took the sticker off of a low priced item, stuck it on the box for a flat screen TV, and went through self check out. So, I understand that these things do happen. And most, when caught will say it was accidental. And I do recognize that stores lose giant amounts of merchandise each year to shoplifting and retail shrinking (getting a lower price incorrectly).
And I understand that often the big box stores maintain those low, low prices by not carrying a lot of staff to assist customers, monitor them, or keep the stock in order.
My mother and I were shopping in a discount store and we were looking at golf bags, since she wanted to buy one for my brother. We noticed that one of the golf bags had been marked (by the store - this was an attached price tag) at a lower price than the others. So understandably, we bought that one. When the cashier rang it up, he was surprised and called for a price check. My mother politely pointed out that the price was marked clearly on the item. The cashier called for a manager. The manager looked at the price tag, agreed that that was how it had been marked, and had the cashier ring it up at that price. He also, very nicely, asked us if we had noticed any other bags marked with that price. (We had not.)
Errors happen. Things end up mis-marked, or in the wrong box or what have you. But, it seems to me the solution is to assume that while the customer wants a great deal, the customer is not necessarily trying to screw over the store.
This is why I am so saddened to read the story of the Wall Street Journal editor who was detained in Kmart after she placed a pair of flip flops in the wrong box. Now, I understand that by placing the flip flops in the box, it gave the appearance of retail shrinkage. And, the store didn't break any laws and apparently acted within its standards. But, it would seem to me that for a scenario where we are detaining someone who just bought $800 worth of stuff, that for the $8 difference it might be worthwhile to assume human error. But maybe I am naive. Perhaps they assume that the $8 of retail shrinkage is part of a pattern of behavior and that they are better off losing this customer (since they told her never to return) than taking the risk.
I think perhaps if the shelves were not so often in disarray, then it would be easier to spot customers who really are trying to ticket switch, but I guess it costs less money to get rid of your current customers than to hire more staff.