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.
And lovely cards

Thursday, December 20, 2007


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


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?

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