Monday, December 29, 2008

Yarn, for a change.


So, I joined a new stash club. (Well, new for me.) Three Irish Girls has a stash club. Each month they have a semi-solid and variegated yarn to choose from. I joined in November and went for the variegated - Petit Fours.
3IG Stash November
For December, I found myself unable to choose just one, so I got both. Cinnamon Spice and Gingerbread.
3IG Stash December
ETA Picture - whoops.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

River Road

Growing up we used River Road a lot. We used it to go to the pool. I later went to a school on River Road, so the spent a lot of time there. One of my first jobs out of college had me traveling along River. And now my church is there.
Growing up, I couldn't figure out why it was called River Road, there were creeks and stuff along the way, but nothing I would call a river. You couldn't see the River from it, the way you can from parts of MacArthur. My mother told me it was because the road followed the river.
And yesterday, they broke into my morning television to show the road had become, well, river-like. A water main break occurred in a hillier section and created what one fireman referred to as the equivalent of class three rapids. Fortunately the incident occurred right near the fire station - and apparently one truck was headed up River at the time - so the rescue personnel was able to get going immediately to rescue nine people who were trapped in their cars.
WJLA had their news helicopter filming so there is footage of the helicopter and boat the personnel employed to assist.
It was fairly amazing to watch.
DCist has the link to some of the footage. And the WaPo has the story also.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Arm Warmers

I tend to go on little project kicks in Winter, which is weird because I tend to decide to knit sweaters in summer, but whatever, it's a hobby and it's supposed to make me happy. And I am working on a sweater, but I have hit the dreaded sleeves.
So, I cast on for what - in retrospect, are much like sleeves. (Yes, I see the irony.)
The yarn is Woolarina, a merino with some silk and cashmere thrown in, that I picked up at the Crafty Bastards fair.
The pattern is the Arrowhead Arm Warmers from Interweave Holiday 2008 issue. If I made them again, I would probably throw in a thumb-hole, but they are lovely as is.
Since I was using a slightly chunkier yarn - I knit it on fours, I cut off some of the space that is supposed to occur at the top, but otherwise left the pattern pretty much as is.
Arm Warmers

Monday, December 22, 2008

Legally Blonde

I love the movie "Legally Blonde". It's one of those things that I watch anytime it's one TV. So, I was intrigued when I heard they were making it into a musical. I watched when MTV aired (a truncated version, but still excellent) of the musical. And I watched the MTV reality show as they searched for a new leading lady. (I am actually a little bitter about how it ended, so we'll move on.) So, when I heard the touring company was headed to DC, you can imagine my excitement.
Tickets went on sale while I was on jury duty, with limited internet access, but fortunately tickets did not immediately sell out. (In fact, for locals, I believe there are still some available.)
My friend and I went last night and it was amazing. The cast was fabulous. And two finalists from the reality show are now part of the touring cast, so it was great to see them. (Rhiannon and Lauren, for my fellow reality junkies.)
And as with everything, it's so much cooler when you're there, rather than watching it on TV.
And, while I feel that the songs grow on you - improve each time you listen - as all good musical numbers should. The one that always cracks me up, remains "There, Right There!", which you can see here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Soda Adventures, Part 2

So, when last we saw our heroine, I mean, me, I was standing face pressed against the glass of the soda machine that held the Dr. Pepper I craved and yet was stuck on some kind of error.
Okay, not quite, initially I huffed away. The next day, same error. Later that day, I decided, it was a computer, it just needed to be rebooted. So, I pressed cancel, return change, and a bunch of other buttons. The machine was unmoved. And then, it occurred to me to actually pay attention to the kind of error. The error was "Retrieve Soda". So, I decided, someone had not made it all the way through their transaction. So, I tried making a selection. And then I tried opening the fancy compartment the soda gets placed in. No soda. But there was a ticket. Someone airplane stub to be exact. I have no idea how that ended up in there, unless it fluttered out of someone's wallet. I took the stub out and do you know what?
It worked! The error disappeared, and it let me buy my soda. Now, of course my problem is that I keep buying soda. But that sounds like a 2009 kind of problem.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Soda Adventures, Part 1

Once upon a time, I was a soda addict. Dr. Pepper to be exact. They sold it in the soda machine at high school and I used to get one every day. One of my friends from high school and I bonded over getting our daily Dr. Pepper (DDP). I used to keep 2 liter bottles in my room (away from others who might wish to drink them) and take slugs directly from the bottle - even warm.
When I was in Scotland, I gave up soda for Lent* one year, and had to make an exception when I discovered a place that carried Dr. Pepper.
I discovered, once I had my own fridge, that I could not safely keep it in the house, because I would choose Dr. Pepper over all other choices, so forcing myself to leave to go get it was an attempt at control.
And then the building I worked in took it out of the soda machine. And I started thinking that maybe I focused a little too much energy on soda - acquisition and consumption. And that I should focus on other drinks - that while sugary possibly contained some nutritional value. So, I started weaning myself off.
And all was well. Until I went to Salt Lake City this past winter. It's not their fault they're a couple time zones behind. But I turned to the soda to assist with the jetlag.
And like the siren call, it all came back to me. So I gave it up for Lent again this year. And yet, it still calls to me.
So, it is quite rude that the machines in my building have been out of Dr. Pepper. Sold out. For almost a week. And worse, one machine, the glass fronted kind, has been restocked but is broken. So I can see the pretty sodas, hear them calling, but I cannot get them out. Don't these people understand? This is not the time of year to be playing with me like this!

*I know, but I like Lent. So I have appropriated it for myself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stupid Clause

Earlier this year, I went water tubing. As part of this, I was been given one of those liability forms so that, should something happen they can say they warned me. I always read these things. (This has annoyed people in the past, and I just don't get that. Did you really want me to sign and not read it?) So, in the list of risks for participating in water sports, along with wind, sun, water and the possibility of getting wet they include "The presences of insects and marine life form". Really? People have to be told that when you go out into the outside, especially on a river there might be bugs and marine life? Really? I have to sign proving that I understand that I may encounter a mosquito? And, while I generally take the view that the stupid clauses are a result of something happening, I cannot imagine what exchange or threatened action has resulted in the need to clarify that people who go outside might encounter bugs or marine life. In fact, the more I think about it, that must have been some scary bug. Or something.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Books and More Books

There's all sorts of booky goodness afoot.
Book Binge mentioned the Buy Books For the Holidays Campaign which has a bunch of suggestions for great gifts.
I have long been a big book giver for various occasions, in part because I like books, and also because they are easy to wrap.
Also, if you are feeling especially kind, libraries often have online wishlists at places like Amazon, so you could donate one. (You can even do it on behalf of someone you are struggling to find the right gift for. Just saying.)
Alison Kent is giving away quite a few things over on her blog. Actually, never mind, I want those.
Super Librarian talks about the increase in borrowing in her district, suggesting that while people still love a good story, they are spending a little less of their pennies that way.
And Smart Bitches, among others, have contributed to the various ebay auctions to support author Jo Leigh, who has some hefty bills in the wake of her husband's death. The auctions include books, ARCs, manuscript reads and the chance to name a character in a future book, so quite a range.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Books: Maximum Exposure

Alison Kent offered to send ARC's of Maximum Exposure to anyone who would blog about them, and we all know I'm a sucker for a deal like that.
Maximum Exposure follows several people in Florida. Olivia owns a designer boutique and also has a predilection for exhibitionism. Her friend, who owns an art gallery, has suggested she find a photographer to take pictures of her revealing herself for a gallery showing.
So, when a handsome guy with a camera shows up in the cafe across the street from the boutique, it seems like Fate. Said guy, Finn, is actually a PI, who has been hired to find some info about Roland who works at the boutique.
The story is both hot (I discovered quickly it did not make for good metro reading) and interesting. Finn's investigation uncovers some dangerous information. Also, his attraction to Olivia and his naturally inquisitive nature lead him to want to find out more about why Olivia chooses to expose herself.
I enjoyed reading it, and the story stood up to the crazy nature of my shrinking reading time this month. I enjoyed watching Finn and Olivia figure out how they felt about each other and also liked that it existed within the tangle of other people instead of them being in their own special bubble.
The intrigue is not super intriguey, which is to say that this is a book to read for the relationships (and the sex) with a dash of intrigue. It is not a choice for breakneck suspense.
I have a teeny little nitpick near the end, but it is teeny, so not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, it was a good read. I look forward to more.
Cover Copy and Excerpt available here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

7 Things: NaNoWrimo

1. It's not a race. It seems like it sometimes, but other than trying to achieve 50,000 words, it doesn't matter how you get there. Some people will write 3000 words a day and steam right through it, others will do marathons the last few days. In the end, if you survived, it's all good.
2. Sometimes you just have to write something, anything.
3. Sometimes, in the middle of the stuff you are sure is filler, you will find little bits that you didn't even realize - little plot bits you didn't even realize you had come up with.
4. NaNo forces you to break your writerly procrastinations.
5. Stupid tricks do work. Word wars, sprints, using a silly word, it all helps.
6. It is amazing how much writing I can do when I put my mind to it.
7. It is amazing how freaking exhausted I am at the end of November.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FPSA

As we enter the holiday season, I want to talk a little about a group that is often forgotten. The poor, lonely yarn.
Some are skeins, some are balls. Some have traveled long distances, some have been stretched, pulled, tugged and even dyed.
They are sent to foster homes, where some watch their siblings get sold off while they get left behind. They huddle together each night, telling themselves that tomorrow will be the day they get to find a real home.
So, please, think of the lonely yarn. Adopt one today.

Monday, November 24, 2008

And More Yarn

I also picked up this gorgeous Brooks Farm Yarn - Ellie, a thick and thin blend.
Brooks Farm Ellie
And some Storm Moon Knits Twilight Sock Yarn.
Twilight Sock

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Inaugural Excitment

Having lived in DC and it's surrounding areas for most of my life, I have been hear here for approximately eight presidential inaugurations. I do not recall this level of excitement. The only thing approaching it is my recollection of the first Reagan inauguration, but that is in part because that was the first one that my mother and her friends decided to take their kids down to and while I sort of remember the parade, I remember that the crowds were nuts afterwords and we got separated from one of the families and ended up trying to find our way home via bus (the metro was not as robust at that time.)
So, all of this is build up to say that I don't know if the 24 hour news cycle has increased the perception of the hype, but that anticipation is nuts. Nuts. My friend has about four family members coming to crash in her one bedroom apartment because hotels from Frostburg, MD to York, PA are booked. Booked solid. People are renting out their apartments and couches for crazy amounts of money. It makes me simultaneously thrilled and ready to hibernate for January.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Yarn

Also picked these up at Stitches East.
I could not resist this yummy yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon. I was, ahem, talked into getting two skeins so as not to limit my options.
Gaia Lace

And this gorgeous Malabrigo worsted.
Malabrigo Worsted

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Think of it as Cosbyesque

I purchased some Noro Taiyo, a yummy cotton blend that I loved immediately. It's a bulky yarn and, as it happens, I had the Abrazo pattern queued up. The Taiyo knits up a bit smaller, so I put more stitches between the cables and followed the instructions for a larger size.
I also shifted the cables just a smidge in the chestal region in what was originally an attempt to place them a little wider, but actually I think creates a slimming effect. (And if it doesn't don't tell me. La, la, la.)
The lighting in these photos is not the best, but I am too lazy to fix that right now.
At one point, possibly later than I should have been knitting, I discovered I had screwed up one cable on the left side. A few cables ago.
Bad Cable 1
So, I did this:
Taiyo Cable error.
And re-crossed it and knitted back up with the help of some DPNs.
But the end result was worth it.
Taiyo Vest 1

Taiyo Vest 2

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yarn

Yeah, so, deep into the writing now...


So, I brought you yarn. These are from Stitches East (last one in Baltimore, at least for now) purchases.
Aruacania's Ranco Yarn never ceases to thrill me. I love the variegated (or multy as they call it.)
Ranco Multi
And the solids (which are what I would call semi-solids).
Ranco Solid

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fun with Web Filters

So my company uses a web filter. They block things like blogs*, pRon, and social networking sites. And now - yarn. Why yarn? Okay, well it's not all yarn, but the other day I was trying to get to Three Irish Girls** and got this:

I am so highly amused by this. I can't decide if some sort of trigger word on the site has caused this or some web person somewhere decided all sites with girls in the name must be about sex or how this has happened. I am tempted to contact them and tell them that while really nice yarn, in my opinion, it is just yarn. The pictures - yarn. But perhaps there are undiscovered yarnies in my company and the bandwidth got to be too much. Let's hope this isn't a trend.

*Thank goodness for pre-posting abilities.
** Yes, I know, ideally I wouldn't be on yarn sites at work. As soon as my job stops interfering with my nights and weekends, I'll work on that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm a Katherine

Saw this quiz over at the Chaliceblog.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Katharine!


You are a Katharine -- "I am happy and open to new things"


Katharines are energetic, lively, and optimistic. They want to contribute to the world.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seen on the Street

I was headed toward Columbia Heights last night and passed a condo building that has an enclosed grassy area often in use by various dogs and their owners. A woman was in their with two dogs, who were bounding around off leash. A woman and her dog were walking by on the sidewalk when one of the dogs in the fenced in area decided to assert his territory running over and barking at the dog walking by. It sufficiently concerned the walking by dog such that he* decided the other side of the street was a better place to be. Unfortunately he was going fast and hard enough that he yanked the leash out of his walker's hands before bounding across the street right as a car turned from the main road onto the street. Fortunately the car noticed either the dog or the distraught walker and stopped immediately and the dog and walker were reunited. The person with the barking dog had grabbed collars on both her dogs and apologized (I thought rather nicely, especially considering it was fairly normal dog behavior on all sides.) So, a happy ending for all.

*I did not make any effort to properly determine the gender of any of the dogs.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Habitat Hat

I got this yarn and pattern from my lovely rubberswapping pal and cast on pretty quickly for it. I ended up ripping back because I ignored a crucial three rows of the chart, but after that things progressed pretty. The pattern is challenging enough that it's not a great choice for knitting and talking, but works well for when you are half-watching a show.
The yarn is a bit scratchy, but a head test determined that it was not bad when worn.
Habitat 1
The color is closer to the second picture, but the cables are more visible in the first.
Habitat 2
Pattern by Jared Flood
Needles - 8
Yarn - Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed

Flat Stanley and the President-Elect

I have spoken of my love for Flat Stanley before. That is part of the reason I find the story of the letter a child got about Flat Stanley's adventures with now President-Elect Obama so lovely.

Hat tip to Chalice Chick for the link.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

No Lines

I voted. (Yay me!) And since I had a new phone to play with, a stocked ipod and a knitting project to assist me through any delays, there were none. Of course it helped that I arrived at 2:30 - post-lunch pre-most folks after work times - even the various folks out to last minute badger me were mostly gone or on their cells. (One guy made a suggestion which I ignored, although he was very polite about it. Sorry, dude.)
One election worker was too shy to tell another voter to remove her button, but another worker stepped in and did it.(The voter had forgotten it was there, and happily placed it in her bag.)
DC has machines this year, though I opted for the handy dandy pencil version. (Hey, if it's good enough for "Eureka"...)
In case you haven't heard, donuts, coffee and ice cream are available today if you mention voting specials. Yum.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fabulous Realities

The book we used for our high school creative writing class encouraged the search for what it called fabulous realities as an exercise to open the writerly side of the brain.
Since I am NaNo-ing again, here goes.
I was listening to the Halloween edition of "This American Life" while driving down the highway. One story featured a woman attacked by a raccoon who they ended up having to, shall we say, take care of. And as they are describing this, I notice the road is looking bloody. In fact an animal had been hit (sadly, some time ago from the, um, spread) and the road was now coated with remains.
It added quite the touch to the story.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Chuckle

So folks write a sign. They need it to be in two languages. They email a guy. They get a reply. The reply gets posted on the sign. Only, the reply apparently says, "I'm out of the office right now..."
For real. The sign has been taken down, presumably for adjustment.

*Thanks to the fellow Raveler who provided this link

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proper Emails

So, here's the thing; you might not be surprised to hear that I can often take a breezy tone in email, even work emails. However, I usually try to establish a rapport with people before loosening up. Which is why I was surprised to get an email with the subject, "Dang". Now I recognize dang is a pretty tame word. But the email was sent from a non-profit who has me on their list as a potential volunteer for their annual fundraiser. Now, I have yet to meet the volunteer organizer, and I did not participate (as a volunteer or guest) in this year's fundraiser, although it apparently went well. (Yay!) But I thought sending the whole list an email headed Dang, was, shall we say, interesting. And the response a co-worker sent just reinforced my suspicion that they had forgotten all the volunteers on the list and possibly meant to hit reply rather than reply to all. Now, no harm done, it was just an interesting moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Further Delays for Your Safety

Between DCist and the Washington Post, there is fairly good coverage of this, but here are my two cents anyway.
WMATA has announced that they plan to introduce random bag searches to look for explosive devices. I pretty much hate this idea.
I, of course, am in favor of no one blowing up the metro, particularly while I am on it. But this seems like just the policy to tick off a lot of customers for very little gain. (A little like making me put my liquids in a plastic baggie.)
Now people have gotten accustomed to allowing extra time for security when traveling by plane and even, to a certain extent train.
But WMATA plans to implement these searches at random locations at random times. That means that for three months your trip to work or school will take X, and then the next day it will take X + five minutes*. And anyone who has ever worked an hourly job where you get docked for being five minutes late, or tried to pick up their kid at day care five minutes late knows that this can make a huge difference.
I know plenty of people who refuse to take metro or buses because they think they are weird, or sketchy, or expensive or unreliable. Adding this as standard procedure just reinforces their belief. And it will tick off some of those who have other choices enough that the remaining customers will be primarily those who are subsidized or have no real choice.
I get it - if something goes boom, metro will lose a lot more customers than they will by inconveniencing people. I just think there's a better way. Possibly focusing on the crimes that already occur in stations would help.

*I know WMATA says the searches will only take seconds, but y'all haven't seen my bag.

ETA: There's some interesting discussion over at Prince of Petworth on the same subject.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Books: Any Given Doomsday

I received an ARC of Lori Any Given Doomsday from Library Thing.
Elizabeth Phoenix is a touch psychic. She used to be a cop, but being able to figure stuff out without supporting evidence turned out to be problematic. Also, something happened with her partner, which I imagine will get more fully explained later.
Liz's foster mother is killed, her fellow foster child and first love Jimmy turns back up in town and it turns out that her foster mom was a seer who could sense the various monsters roaming the earth and Jimmy was one of the folks who took care of such monsters. And Liz now has her foster mom's job.
So, the doomsday thing? Well, the story uses a mishmash of Judeo-Christian and ancient Greek mythology with some other stuff thrown in. (This is not to imply that the story seems familiar, these pieces are used well and as foundation pieces.) So, the texts proclaim that when the leader of the light (Liz's foster mom) is killed, next is doomsday. So, Liz is now replacement for what looks to be the period that decides the fate of all humanity, so no pressure or anything.
And so Liz needs to get up to speed quickly, which involves paying a visit to the guy her foster mom sent her to as a teen to get better in touch with her psychic gift. A guy who, even at fifteen she found both creepy and strangely hot.
Liz is a big smart ass who can't resist needling those around her. This might be annoying if she wasn't constantly surrounded by obnoxious and stubborn males trying to tell her what to do. She does resist her gifts a bit, but also adjusts well considering we dive into her life during a pretty crappy few weeks.
I liked it and look forward to the next installment. I had some quibbles, some of which happen much too late for me to discuss, but nothing that totally killed it for me.

Sign up to receive a free copy of the prequel here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spotted in the Wild

So, I saw a grown woman spank a grown man. Where was I, you might wonder. I was waiting to cross the street. Some folks on the other side had decided not to wait, despite the fact that the segment of street they were crossing had the green and there were in fact cars coming (violating the rules of jaywalking, according to me). The man was texting, which I don't think I made a rule of jaywalking, but I probably should have. And a car approached and was kind enough to honk at them rather than running them over. It was at this point that the woman spanked the man. I'm not sure why, since she was jaywalking too, and certainly something, like, the word, "Car!" would have been more useful than spanking him. But, perhaps I simply don't understand their dynamic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Book Meme

Stole this one from Beck.
What was the last book you bought?
Hee. I can't remember the last time I bought one book all by itself. But, I'll pick a particular one and say Sandra Brown's Play Dirty. I heard her talk about it at the National Book Festival and was intrigued.

Name a book you have read MORE than once.
I can name a few. Kathryn Lynn Davis's Too Deep For Tears got read many, many times in high school. Also Madeline L'Engle's Ring of Endless Light, Nora Roberts' Birthright, and Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me. (This is really a partial list, I reread a lot, but I'm capping it here. For now.)

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
Torey Hayden's Murphy's Boy, which I read in middle school, profoundly affected me and I was inspired to become a child psychologist. While that did nto end up being my career, that is one of those decisions that set me on the circuitous path that got me where I am.
Gorman Bechard's Second Greatest Story Ever Told gave me the language to start talking about the kind of spirituality I wanted for myself and the hope that other people out there wanted something like that too. It's also funny.

How do you choose a book? By cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews.
Yes. I look at Amazon suggestions, suggestions from friends, I read a bunch of booky blogs, and yes, just as often a cover or title will call to me and I'll take a chance.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction. I have trouble getting through non-fiction. It may be that I'm not as good at picking non-fiction for myself but usually it takes me trapped on an airplane with nothing else to read before I finish most of the non-fiction.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
I'm going to nitpick the question a bit here. The plot has to appeal to me in some way, but beautiful or well-crafted writing will help carry me through a lot more.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book).
Okay, for this moment, today, I am going to go with Zoe from Vicki Pettersson's "The Harvest". I know the series focuses on Joanne, but I read "The Harvest first and was so sucked in that I was ready to be really mad if this wasn't part of a series. (Fortunately it was. Crisis averted.)

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
I am changing this to what's about to fall between the couch cushions, and that is Gena Showalter's The Darkest Pleasure. Unless the question was meant to determine what I am reading now, which is Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
It was either Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn or Susan Mallery's Irresistible. Both were finished right at the end of September.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Yes. I used to try a lot harder, now I figure after 100 pages (60 of it's a real slog), that's enough to see if it will work for me. Not everything will.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ode to Eva

We often like to think of ourselves as people of our own creation, completely different from those we came from. Until you start to see the patterns and threads that contributed to who you are. My grandmother Eva lived her life in Hawai'i, so was separated by distance from my immediate family, but the threads still remain. Grandma and her brother were raised by their mother Lucille (my middle name is a tribute to her) after their father killed himself.
She worked as a nurse for many years, and also met and married my grandfather, policeman Eugene. They had a simple wedding, the Catholic version of eloping, and had their wedding brunch at Woolworth's.
Together they had six children, the eldest of which was my father Frederick.
My grandmother read romance novels - categories were a particular favorite and loved to work with her hands. As children, my siblings and I received quilts, Christmas stockings, felt advent calendars, and fairytale inspired ornaments from her.
Her six children led to sixteen grandchildren (making all the above all the more impressive since she had a lot of grandkids to spoil). There is also a growing number of great and even great-great grandchildren.
Eva lost her husband Eugene, her partner for over fifty years, a decade ago. Her son Frederick predeceased her also. But last night, at the age of 94, she went to join them, after finally giving up the fight against congestive heart failure.
So, thank you Eva, for the love of reading and crafting, both of which have served me well.

Aloha 'oe, aloha 'oe...A ho'i a'e au
Until we meet again.
"Aloha 'Oe" written by Queen Lili'uokalani

Edited, because I forgot to count myself.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Interesting Note

In my ever so humble opinion, the selection of sympathy e-cards is pretty crappy. Now I recognize that sending a sympathy e-card, is in and of itself, skating if not landing on tacky, but there are situations and circumstances where something like an e-card seems swifter, although certainly timeliness should not be the greatest concern when it concerns someone losing a family member.*
Now, in general I avoid super treacly cards, because that's just not me. But I can't imagine why I would want to send someone a card in such a sad time, on which they would have to click play. Perhaps I am overreacting, perhaps by the time you are ready to face any such thing, like opening an e-card, clicking play is hardly a big hurdle. Then there's the sad, sympathy music, and the scrolling graphics. There's reason I tend to end up using blank cards for these things. I just, ugh. I know some folks probably worked really hard on crafting these cards, and I am sure they have worked for some people, but really, I looked through and thought, I can not send any of these. Not one.
Do you think my Monopoly cards or my Candyland cards are a better choice? (Kidding. Really, I just thought I needed to end on a less depressing note.)
*Point of clarification, I have not recently lost any family members. Please don't worry.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Liesl

I saw Ysolda Teague's Liesl pattern over on Amy Singer's blog and loved the pattern, especially since Amy made hers with Patagonia Nature Cotton which I happen to have a bit of. The pattern is top down feather and fan and offers several options (all shown in the photographs) for creating your top. Samples are shown in several different yarns. I ended up making this one in Malabrigo Worsted. It was great fun and I ended up using the shell buttons so as not to detract from the colorway. It's been a great transitional piece as we head into cooler weather.
Liesl

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Double Sided Scarf

I purchased Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard in part because, thanks to Ravelry, I noticed quite a few Wendy Bernard patterns in my completed projects. And I immediately queued a good number of them (The rest may follow, I was trying to be a bit reasonable.)
Both Sides Scarf 1
The Looks Good on Both Sides Scarf was one of those great, easy to memorize patterns, and also really portable. I had some Plymouth Royal Bamboo in three different colors that I wanted to use.
Both sidesNow, I love the finished project. However, this is some of the splittiest yarn I have ever used. I really think this is the yarn that people who think bamboo is wimpy used for their first bamboo. So, I love the scarf, but I don't know that this yarn would be a good choice for something like a sweater or gloves.
Both Sides Scarf

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jury Reading

Yeah, I know, I finished jury duty a bit ago, but then with the dive back in to work it took me until now to get this posted.
First, I did not plan this - all of these books were in my TBR pile already. However, it is quite amusing to me. These are the books, in order, that I read during jury selection and the trial. (Obviously I read during the trial breaks, not the actual parts I was supposed to be listening to.)

Here's the ones I thought were amusing titles to be reading during a criminal trial. The full list (with subtitles) is below, in order.
Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann
There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell by Laurie Notaro
Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire
Turbulent Sea by Christine Feehan
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Full List:
Neptune Noir edited by Rob Thomas
Into the Fire: Extras for Readers and Writers by Suzanne Brockmann
The Wild Road by Marjorie M. Liu
There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble by Laurie Notaro
Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire
Turbulent Sea by Christine Feehan
Meet Phoenix by Marcia King-Gamble
A TV Guide to Life by Jeff Alexander
New Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Sizzling by Susan Mallery
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

RubberSwap

What is a Rubberswap? Well, there are a group of Ravelers known as Rubberneckers and we are having a swap. You were encouraged to utilize a theme regarding something from the group discussions. So, I got my package today (and yes, it does appear that my mail carrier really likes me this week).
Rubberswap package
Contents are:
Altoids
2 Alaskan Chocolate bars
2 skeins of Hacho
2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed
1 skein of Blebbie Diss Kashmerino(that's what the label says) that warns it may contain animal fibers. And that the yarn contains two ends.
Alaskan Blueberry Herbal Tea that made the whole package smell yummy.
And a Sooper Excloosive Pattern that's so exclusive I can't even tell you what it is. (It might be something like Habitat, but don't tell anyone.)
So, thanks snowmagnolia!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer's (Almost) Over

My final Summer of Yarn swap package arrived.
SOYS
It includes:
Two Skeins of DiVe Teseo yarn in sand.
4 adorable magnets
Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love
A tin of orange pastilles
A little garden gnome
Vanilla dinner lights.
Thanks so much to Britnlind!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please Don't Send me Threats

I have a couple people in my circle who are fans of the chain emails. I have worked very hard to set myself up as someone who sends annoying responses and should therefore be removed from the list. I have no problem with cute stories or a joke or two. (I did however send a gentle reminder to someone who sent me the same joke twice.)
However, I object to the following:
1. The untrue. Look, we have all fallen victim to one or two of these. But if you are net savvy enough to open an email, you are net savvy enough to do some checking. And if you don't know how or can't be bothered, then don't send it. Please. The fact that your bestest friend sent it does not do anything to make it more true.
2. The political. Last election year I got slanted crap from people on both sides of the spectrum. Here's the thing, either I agree with you politically, in which case email persuasion is unnecessary or I don't and you have pissed me off. And I have yet to see a well reasoned political chain letter. They may well exist, but please err on the side of caution and leave me off your list.
3. The religious. It works similarly to the above. If I believe what you do religiously, then I might appreciate a cute anecdote. But chances are, you don't actually know what I believe religiously. Now I say this not because my ideas are so fabulous and complex, but simply because most of us don't have deep theological discussions about out religious views. Why that wall breaks down when it comes to email I don't know. Chalice Chick had asked if anyone had any great suggestions for this when she was getting them from co-workers. The general consensus seemed to be that the delicate nature of the subject meant there was a greater chance of offending someone by trying to explain why you didn't want such emails and it was easier to delete them. But, please, save your friends and co-workers from having to have these discussions by not sending the emails.
4. The threatening. Now, I am being a tad facetious here, but whether they are little wee fairies that threaten to harm those who don't pass them on to exactly ten people or the various scare mails (this is the new way the crazies will kill you - watch out for parking lots) or combinations thereof - why? Why send this? If you like the wee fairy, it takes seconds to remove the text that threatens your friends. (And really, why would you send threats to people you say are friends?) And as for the scare mails - let me live in ignorance please.
So, what spawned the rant? I got an email listing people who made fun of God and/or Jesus and died. It also told me that I had to pass it on to get my miracle. I can't decide if the spirit of the email is intended to cement my righteousness for not mocking God or shame and scare me should I have been mocking God or to convert me so that I can escape untimely death. I understand that some people are superstitious and certainly I want my friends to have miracles, but I am so flabbergasted that this would be sent to me. After some time I have calmed down a bit, but I still am at a loss. At this point just as much of my frustration is wrapped up in that fact that I can't think of anything I could say about this that might not result in hurt on the part of the sender. And yet, I really never want to receive anything like this again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If It Were Up to Me

If it were up to me, metro stations would only be allowed a maximum of two names. First of all, all you folks out there lobbying to tack this, that and the other on to a metro name are kidding yourselves. Other than the poor metro train operators, no one is using the entire name of the station as they chat about getting off at U Street or Archives. In this day and age when people are abbreviating one syllable words, I have no idea why you think a long station name makes sense.
Secondly, I think we don't give people enough credit. If I want to go somewhere and the website or guidebook tells me to go to this stop, I am going to go to that stop. I am not going to say, "Gosh, that can't be the right stop, it's not called [place I want to visit]." As an example, the Zoo is between two metro stops. One stop has the zoo in the station name (Woodley Park - Zoo). However, a lot of people have figured out that the nice downhill walk from Cleveland Park is preferable. In fact, the station manager has posted signs about how to walk to the zoo, since enough people show up at Cleveland Park who are headed there.
In many cases the add-on names are misleading. My personal favorite is West Falls Church-VT/UVA. Now, having been the designated ride for someone back visiting from Virginia Tech, I actually understand what the designation means. However, doesn't that naming seem to imply that one can get to UVA and Virginia Tech via metro? Actually at specified times there is a bus that goes to both campuses (which are each several hours away).
But it's not just the implication that all these things are right at the top of the escalator that bugs me. After all Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter refers entirely to things that are visible from the top of the escalator, but it is still crazy long. (They actually abbreviate it on the metro map.)
So - stop with the long names.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If You Like Sand in Your Prayers

As a young adult who is an active in her spiritual community, I applaud any effort to try and think outside the box, and make participating in a spiritual community a little easier. And yet, I find myself a little flummoxed by the idea in Italy of an inflatable church.
Yes, some lucky beaches in Italy are getting inflatable Catholic churches where attendees can take a moment out of swimming and sunbathing, to pray or confess their sins.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Superficial Observations Again

So...I think, in addition to the "I'm so-and-so and I approved this message" bit, if it's a negative ad, the candidate should have to appear on screen (live or staged photo) with their tongue sticking out. None of this trying to look all serious and thoughtful while you trash your opponent.

No Large Groups Please

I am often astounded at the response that knitters sometimes* receive when attempting to use a a place a a regular meeting place. The two knitting groups I attend regularly have received responses including bad service (which I recognize is not a knitter problem, but I would hope that regular customers would get slightly better treatment), having the lights dimmed to about cave level, and actually being told to leave since they wanted to change the atmosphere. (In that scenario we were told we could come right back in, but they wanted us to "re-make the decision to be there." Guess what decision we made?)
Now I want to stress, in all of these scenarios we had all ordered and/or purchased food and/or drinks, so we were not just taking up space. And in all scenarios, the place was not packed and there were not others looking for places to sit.
Well, I am here to tell you, that this is not limited to knitters. I also am a member of a women's club that meets about monthly for girl's night dinners and other fun events. About a year ago, we had a gathering at Oya during restaurant week. There were about twenty five women in attendance. It was my first Oya experience, and it was awesome. The food was good, their service was good, and they set aside the large table for us, so we could all be seated together.
I have been to Oya since and had great experiences.
Our club met at Oya again recently, and the first sign of trouble came several weeks prior when the organizers called to make the reservation and were told that large parties could only make a reservation if they agreed to do a private menu that would come to about $50 per head. (Oya offers a standard prixe fixe menu that offers three courses for $28.) Otherwise the largest reservation accommodated would be six.
Now, I respect any restaurants ability to make their policy, but six? Really? What if your family is dining together and you have more than three siblings? Or your siblings have spouses? Again, I don't own to wish to own a restaurant, but it seems to me that eliminating yourself as a special occasion restaurant is, well, limiting.
So, the organizers made four reservations of six, and were assured that attempts would be made for the group to sit together.
When we were seated one table was over near the large table (which sat empty the whole evening). The table I was at (which was for four, not six) was about three tables back from that one and perpendicular to the round table that another six were at (we were close enough to see each other but not to actually converse across the aisle). Then they had what they called the 'overflow table' for the remaining two folks.
When our table discussed the fact that not only was the large table empty but there were several tables near the first table that were empty that they could have seated us at in an attempt to keep us in the same section, the host appeared magically to tell us that they had a large party who had cancelled. And, while it was a little creepy how he appeared, I understand, however, if they had cancelled, I don't understand why we weren't seated there.
Now I do want to say that the food was fabulous, our server was great. But it does seem that Oya doesn't wish to have large parties, so it may not be a good place for our club to eat anymore.

*I am also aware of several places that have been extremely welcoming to knitters - Adega and the Saloon, come to mind.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Starbucks and Yarn Swap

I got my package!
Starbucks and yarn goodies
It includes:
A gorgeous bag knit and felted by the lovely Catherine, known on Ravelry as cm6321.
A Starbucks gift card.
And three yummy balls of Sublime Soya Cotton dk in Ginseng and Indigo.
Thanks, Catherine.

Dear Folks #17

Dear Men Who Wish to Attract Women via the Internet,
Don't lie. Sure, in dating people tend to reveal layers slowly. However, dating profiles establish some basic facts. Note the use of the word facts. So if you are separated but check the divorced box, you are not close enough. If you have kids, but your ex looks after them, it is not cute to check childless. And if you are 45 but select 39 as your age, no matter how young you look, it is still lying. Thanks for playing, and best of luck,
Sincerely,
Doesn't Understand the Appeal of Setting Yourself up for Failure

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Food Meme

A fellow Cherry sent me to this here.
Bold what you have eaten, cross out what you would not consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
.6. Black pudding- I have had white pudding and that is as far as I will go.
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl-I don't like shellfish. I know I checked off oysters, but that's partly how I know.
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac
with a fat cigar - asthma, no cigars for me.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects-not intentionally
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more-I don't like whisky, so the expensive stuff is wasted on me.
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone-Shell thingies again
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini-not a fan of gin either
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin - not sure, since it's apparently in some medicines and toothpastes
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
-once was more than enough however.
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail-More shells
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom yum - I wonder if this is as good as Tom Kha soup...
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee-no coffee for me
100. Snake

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

7 Things: Jury Duty

My jury duty experience is limited to DC and once in Maryland (where I was never even empaneled).
1. I realized as I arrived for jury duty, that while I had read my summons, I had made a number of assumptions about the room based on my last time serving, and had not allowed for the possibility that the room had moved or any such things. As it turns out, that was not a concern, the room is in the same place. The business center is still tiny.
2. One thing that did change, there is now wi-fi. Woot!
3. They are however still showing the same fuzzy how to be a juror video hosted by Renee Poussaint, from back when she was a local anchor. (I say this with certainty since she still was a local anchor back when I first saw the video.)
4. I clearly don't know everyone's reason for being in a courthouse today, but I found the varying styles of dress interesting. (The jury summons does specify that appropriate dress is required. I have no idea if others involved in cases are given similar instructions.) In particular I saw several pairs of raggedy shorts, quite a few jeans, and one bare (and adorned) midriff.
5. I was asked to my job title on the jury survey. Apparently my use of the word consultant was entered into the system as construction, which I found quite a deviation from benefits, until I figured out how the mix-up occurred.
6. Jury duty always reminds me that working downtown must be so cool. Someday I will make that happen for me. (I did have one job where the office was downtown, but I was a contractor who worked primarily at other locations. Interestingly enough, part of that office is now a bar.
7. I find the selection process fascinating, in part because you, as a prospective juror, only get to see part of it, not knowing what conversations the lawyers and judge are having about you or others. I have been on a number of panels, in my time, both for civil and criminal cases. Unsurprisingly, criminal panels take longer as the vetting is more involved.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Water, Water

There is an interesting synergy in that yesterday my church held their water communion, as water, in the form of Gustav is working to demonstrate it's power on the barely recovering Gulf Coast. Since several congregation members had been to assist in the New Orleans rebuild in June, there was concern that the work they had done would be undone, setting the residents they were trying to assist further back. My hopes are that the damage to people and things (including the still under construction levees) is minimal.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Superficial Observations

Okay, I know I keep saying I don't want to talk about politics, but I just wanted to make a note that on the one side we have Biden, from the smallest state and on the other side we have Palin, from the largest state. I'm sure there are other fun contrasts (in addition to their genders, which are also in contrast), but that's really all I wanted to share right now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Panda Friday

As we head into a long weekend which I will follow up with jury duty (so Tuesday I will either have lots to say or nothing, hard to say,) I leave Tai-Shan, resident 'baby' panda at the National Zoo, taken April 2007, napping in a tree. I totally wish I could do this. (Without worrying I would roll over and fall out.)
And more Tai-Shan

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Authors and Blogs

Jennifer Crusie posted about some potential issues with author blogging, and on the author/reader relationship.
I've talked about this before, but, first I like and enjoy blogs (particularly author and book blogs) but I think it makes no sense if it isn't something that works for you.
As a reader, I have discovered new authors first through their blogs. I have also, through blogs and the internet at large, learned about various forms of bad author behavior. As of now, there are quite a few authors for whom I went from blog reader to book reader. So far, I have not stopped reading anyone solely on the basis of their internet behavior. (Unless you count plagiarism, but I don't count that as internet behavior, that's general bad behavior.)
Let's face it, there's a lot of an author in any story, so reading books you do feel a certain closeness with the author. Blogging can enhance that, as can other internetty gathering places. But, I think it ends up being like a lot of stuff. Sure it can be upsetting to learn that an actor or an author is not quite the person you built up in your head, should things go badly. But, I can disagree with something a person did and still think they write, act or sing beautifully. If they were on the bubble for me anyway, I may take my time getting to the bookstore. But, so far, my stopping reading choices have been made by the books, not by the people behind them*.

*Except for plaigiarism, but I still think that's a book issue at heart, even though it is perpetrated by a person.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Knitting Olympics

My Knitting Olympics strategy unfolded like this. I am such a flutterby when it comes to projects, that I hated to try and determine a specific project the I would feel like knitting a few months later. After all if I really loved the project, wouldn't I want to knit it right now? So, I picked the shawl relay because I figured that I could accomplish it in the allotted time, and could reasonably guarantee that I would be willing to knit a large rectangle with some sort of pattern. I also signed up for WIP Wrestling because I knew the likelihood was that I would need a little something else to distract me, so I thought if I made it part of my schedule that would cut down on the guilt.
And then I realized that the Knitting Olympics would start a day before a knitting retreat my knit group was participating in, which meant I was already planning to make a shawl - the Woodland Shawl. Sort of serendipitous. (It also alleviated my half-hearted thought that I should knit something Chinese, or in some way referential.)
So, then there was yarn. We had originally talked about using something like Schaefer Heather yarn, but then I started to panic. What made me think doing a stole on sock weight yarn was reasonable. Even though this was smaller than the Parthenope, that took longer. The Lili-uo shawl took longer. Was I setting myself up for failure? I started wondering what larger weight yarns I might have on hand. And then, in San Francisco I found the gorgeous Ming yarn. (See? Ming! That's Chinese! And it has silk which China is known for.)
And I had the Prismatic Scarf which was turning out to be an excellent all-my-other-knitting- makes-me-think kind of project. (Also a silk blend, since I was using Manos silk blend, so woot!)
So, I was all set. I cast on and knit four rows during the opening ceremonies of the Woodland Shawl, before returning to the scarf.
I worked on the shawl much of the weekend and was making great progress. In fact I was starting to think it might be finished really soon. And hey, I might even have time to finish up a second WIP or something, since the scarf was going well too.
Woodland Shawl - In Progress
And then, Wednesday night, after the yarn traveled to knit night, tragedy struck. No more shawl. I - just - oh, it was terrible.
I continued working on the scarf and finished that up Friday.
Prismatic Scarf 1
And faced the inevitable, and recast on for the Woodland Shawl. This time, I used Brooks Farm Willow (a wool/bamboo blend,no silk, but hey, China is known for bamboo too!). And I used 10.5's. (I had done Knitty math to determine repeats and needle size and 10.5 was working well, but I was unable to find any other 10.5's, so made do with a 10. It still works, and this yarn has a higher wool content.)
Woodsy Shawl 1
And I finished. So, phew!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics, Again

Great Non-athletic moments:
Michael Phelps telling a fellow swimmer he couldn't find his mom in the crowd. (She stood up and waved.)
Dara Torres letting everyone know that a fellow swimmer had ripped her suit and would be out in just a minute.
Michael Spearman and Usain Bolt teasing each other in the tunnel.
One American runner (who's name I have forgotten - sorry) pausing her interview, to congratulate a fellow runner.

Sports I was Unaware (Until Now) were Olympic Sports
Racewalking
Trampolining
ETA: Beck is right, it's Lolo Jones.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dear Folks #16

Dear Beach Volleyball,
I want to apologize a little. I never outright or publicly disparaged you, but I secretly thought you were not a proper sport. Oh sure, it takes mental and physical agility to play the game (or so I imagine, I think the last time I played volleyball involved a high school gym). But, I was finding it difficult to take seriously a game that gets played in bathing suits. (Yes, I also am working on water polo acceptance. Also, while we're being parenthetical, why do the women play volleyball in bikinis and the men play in clothes? What's up with that?)
But I have long said, that one of my issues with baseball is that it doesn't get played in the rain, thereby classifying it - according to my special rating system - as a wimpy sport. And while this rating system had not made an official ruling on games played in the sand, it was leaning towards, if not wimpy, at least, less serious, even though I know that sand actually makes
it more difficult.
But, the matches continued in the rain, coupled with the sheer number of matches two people (with no substitutes), I have come to the conclusion that beach volleyball is definitely not a wimpy sport. And while it won't get the full contact serious rating, still, you have to be pretty freaking tough. So, congratulations.
(I know you were worried.)
Sincerely,
RandomRanter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Isn't Exotic

Okay, I was trying to stay away from the dreaded P-word. No, politics I mean. But, here I go.
First, a disclaimer, I am really grateful that I am not a radio or television commentator. Because stick a microphone in front of me and I am sure I would say stuff that people would pick apart. However, I think we can agree that Cokie Roberts is an experienced commentator, and while that makes her no less prone to saying something that didn't come out quite like she intended, I feel that she knows what she is getting into.
So, Cokie Roberts was talking about Barack Obama's visit to Hawai'i to see his grandmother. She said, "I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there, but he has made such a point about how he is from Kansas, you know, the boy from Kansas and Kenya, and it makes him seem a little bit more exotic than perhaps he would want to come across as at
this stage in the presidential campaign." Now, my second disclaimer is that I happen to be someone who has family in Hawai'i, so I confess, it seems quite normal to me. But I understand that with the economy the way it is, and with plane tickets (and airlines) being what they are, that Hawai'i is not a place that everyone has had the good fortune to visit. (Although, as Jon Carroll pointed out, there are quite a few people for whom it is the state next door.)
So, I imagine that possibly what Roberts was trying to say is it seems exotic in the sense of extravagant. Exotic in the sense of wow, my life doesn't quite shake out like that.
But, of course, people, like me who have family in Hawai'i feel like visiting your family is not such a strange or exotic thing. And while I live inside the Beltway, as it were, and therefore resist the idea of a Beltway mentality, I have to say the claim that Jon Carroll and others have made about this statement seems pretty founded to me.
First, there's that whole thing that I think people in Kansas (and other places) are probably a little tired of being told they can't understand stuff. I'm sure people in Kansas (not picking on you guys) understand that visiting family is, you know, normal. And while we all might wish our family lived somewhere that was also a hot vacation destination, it's still family.
And then there is the unfortunate use of the word exotic. Now, I can't speak for Roberts, but I imagine at the time the words left her mouth she didn't see the unfortunate multiple meanings of that little word. Because exotic can also mean foreign. And Hawai'i is a state full of native Hawaiians as well as Pacific Islanders and those of Asian descent. So, it starts to sound like she's implying that Hawai'i was an unfortunate place for Obama's grandmother to be, because of the
proportionately smaller amount of white people. Again, I don't think that's what she intended, but again it made the statement all that more unfortunate.
I have been to Hawai'i quite a few times, and sure I've seen many of the sights there. I have also attended birthday parties and anniversary parties and holiday dinners and funerals. You know, family stuff. Because Hawai'i is a place that over six generations of my family have lived. It is the place that my father grew up and the place where we spread his ashes. It is the place that many of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. And it is the place that my grandmother lives.

Hat tip to the Rage Diaries on this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

7 Things: The Olympics Make Me Wonder

1. The men's diving suits are very small. Do they ever fall off? Don't get me wrong, I am not wishing for this per se, it just seems like when you dive from a really tall place, this would be a concern. After all, my dad lost his wedding ring diving off a rock. Sure, it was an ocean, not a pool, but still.
2. With all the technology out there, is there a reason all the bikinis, leotards and suits for women (other than the full body ones) seem to fall mid-bun, rather than offering full coverage. And kudos to all these athletes for not constantly picking at them, as I would be. (This is, of course, not the only thing holding me back from being an Olympic athlete. Or any kind of athlete.)
3. I read up on it, but I'm still not sure it makes more sense for baseball and softball to be out of the Olympic games (at least after Beijing, for now) and table tennis to still be there. But that may be my American-ness coming to the forefront there.
4. I still subscribe to the theory that anyone who just lost (and in the Olympics we are going to call not medaling losing) should not have to talk into a microphone for at least thirty minutes. (I also wish we could employ this in other sports too.)
5. I also think we should employ the rules of the courtroom, as I have learned from my TV watching, where leading questions can not be asked. For example, "So, having achieved the goal that you worked on for the last eight years, how happy are you?" Or, "How much of a blow was it to discover that after all your hard work, that you won't be getting a medal today? Do you feel you've let down your country?"
6. Aren't we all grateful that there are no acceptance speeches for medals? Just saying. (I know they get interviewed to death, but still.)
7. With the possible exception of the "Chariots of Fire" theme, I still think "One Moment In Time" remains the best sports song. (As far as inspirational moments, sure, there are plenty of beat heavy songs for the other moments. Although raise your hand if it seems a little weird that they are playing "Get Ready for This" in Beijing? I know it's become the go-to arena song, but I just found it a little strange. Not bad strange, more of a huh.)

Give me one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity

"One Moment in Time" by Albert Hammond and John Bettis

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Books: Magical Books

Dear Fictional Characters,
If someone gives you a magical book that has been passed down for generations, waiting for your appearance, don't wait to read it. I don't care how freaking boring the book may seem. Please read it right away. Or at least skim it. Please work on the assumption that this book contains information you will need. (After all have you ever heard of a scenario in which someone was given a magical book that turned out to just have - say - bread recipes? And if it's just a bread recipe, then go make bread.)
Sincerely,
A Concerned Reader

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer of Yarn Love Swap Package

SOY Swap Package
Wow!
Contents include:
An adorable card.
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A skein of Manos Silk Blend in a gorgeous colorway.
Two skeins of Cascade in pretty pink.
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A bottle of Eucalan. (I love this stuff. In fact, I also take it on vacations, in case you need to throw a shirt or something in the sink for a wash.)
Cat toys. (My cat doesn't know how lucky she is.)
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And a Yarn Harlot book! And a green tea sampler. So, thanks so much to my spoiler!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

7 Things: How to Be a Good Passenger

1. If you must wear perfume or cologne or any sort of strong scent, please make sure that only people who are, say, sitting in your lap can smell it. Or stick the stuff in the magical plastic baggie, and apply upon arrival. Don't make the people next to you (and later everyone else, since the air gets recirculated) smell your scent no matter how awesome you are convinced it is.
2. Please remember that the seats are attached. This means if you kick the footplate beneath your seat, your fellow row-mates can feel it. So try not to.
3. Please remember that you will be raising your arms when you stow your bag in the overhead compartment. So, please plan your outfit accordingly, keeping in mind that seated passengers will have their eyes at about waist level when you do this. I, personally, did not need to know that you were, for example wearing playboy bunny boxers. In fact, I really wish I did not know this.
4. Please make sure your headphones do not have a big sound leakage problem. Understandably your volume will be high to drown out the engine and passenger noise, so, try not to add to the noise for the rest of us.
5. Please don't get into line with only part of your party if you are all planning to board the plan together.
6. Please be kind to the flight attendants, and remember, generally they do not make airline policy, they just get to tell you about it.
7.Please remember that we all want to get off the plane. (Really). While I'm sure your need for quickness is very important, if we all disembark row by row, it works quite well. It also prevents me from thinking mean thoughts as you leap over armrests trying to jump a few spaces in the exit line.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics

Oh yeah, since I just finished updating you on last week, I feel like it's progress for me to be talking about something that started Friday.So, the 2008 Summer Olympics started in Beijing on the date of 08/08/08. (You may have heard.) I am participating in the Knitting Olympics having promised to work on an existing WIP and some sort of shawl. (Yes I do theoretically know which WIP and which shawl, but I reserve the right to be copy as long as I end up to to FO's at the end of this). The reason for two was that, other than a brief period with the Parthenope, knitting monogamy is something I struggle with, so b picking two projects when I just can't freaking look at the main project, I can still knit and not feel like a slacker. At least not a Knitting Olympics Slacker.

But I really wanted to take a moment to talk about China and the Olympics. I visited China in 2004 (I can hardly believe it was so long ago.) It was a fascinating trip in a number of ways and I won't even begin to try and capture it in a blog entry now. But, even then, you could buy Beijing 2008 wares everywhere.

The Olympics are such a fascinating thing for me, who is generally non-athletic. But I still have pursuits that take time, patience, money and energy, for what to others seems a fairly brief return. So, I understand the passion, even if my passion doesn't have me flipping around a mat or jumping over obstacles.
And just because I love it, the athlete's Olympic Oath:
In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last Sunday

Sunday was supposed to be a laid back day. But then I experienced a failure to check my travel arrangements. I incorrectly remembered my flight departure time (having mentally pushed it back two hours) and I was so sure of my imaginary time that by the time I realized my error, it was no longer physically possible for me to make the flight. I called the airlines, the gentleman told me my best shot was to continue to the airport and throw myself on the mercy of the agent there, who could put me on standby somewhere. Which is what I did. The lovely agent scrolled through my choices, found one with a different connection (but that returned to the same airport - very important - are you listening stupid airline that screwed me over a few years ago?). She grabbed my bag, handed me my boarding pass and told me to run. I managed to make it through security without a diva moment (I am in a hurry guy taking his sweet time getting the laptop into the tray!). And I was not quite the last person to hop onto the plane. It was a middle seat, but I was not in a position to complain. (Although I will have some thoughts on how to be a good passenger later). And I had my books. And a functional ipod. However, the rush and all that had meant I had missed my lunch. Or getting a drink past security. So, it was a really crappy time to discover that in the six days since I had last flown with them, US Airways had started charging money for beverages. All of them. (Yes, they were lovely and accomodating, so I am over it, but really. Thank goodness I had some dried fruit in my bag.)
The changeover in Charlotte went fine, and I did find food. And I made it home to discover that my secret dream for a new suitcase had been answered, sort of. Because, the handle on my suitcase, which usually collapsed with some careful jiggling, had apparently not collapsed or extended somewhere on route. So, the bag was tossed around with the handle extended, and, well, it bent. So that the handle had a perfect forty five degree bend in it. It is now bent and shredded such that the handle is never going to collapse again.
And since I hate to leave things on such a note here are some random observances from the streets (and halls) in San Francisco.
-At one point I surmise I am near some sort of vet or animal kennel because in quick succession I see a woman with a (leashed) cat balancing on her shoulder and another woman with the cat carrier strapped to a shopping cart.
-It was easy to spot the tourists who had assumed that California + summer = hot, because they would be out in their shorts but wearing their matching San Francisco sweatshirts and hats. (To be fair, I read up and still couldn't believe. But I also left the shorts at home.)
-Panhandlers were quite creative with their stories - requesting money for journeys home, for alcohol research and for ransom for the dog. And while I certainly don't know all the circumstances, I did notice that one panhandler who had been seated in a wheelchair left the wheelchair there while he took a break.
-Over by Coit Tower I paused before crossing as an SUV had just pulled up to the roundabout and then paused. Then the windows popped down and three cameras popped out as they all tried to capture the view of the city below. (At that point I felt it was safe to cross (I was not in their picture line).
-I was asked for directions. Sure, it was by someone who was clearly not from the US, but my directions were pretty good. I was, however, unable to tell him where all the good clubs were.
-And at one point I watched three people who were clearly together cross the street. Two of them were wearing I heart NY t-shirts and the third had on a scripty NYC t-shirt. Had we not been going opposite ways I would have loved to ask if they were from there or (more likely) that was their previous spot on vacation.

Food; Chai, fruit and cheese plate, chicken pesto sandwich, smoothie, iced tea.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Last Saturday

Saturday was a little more reasonable. I went to another agent-focused workshop. Then I went to the theft of creative property workshop (moderated by Smart Bitch Sarah, and featuring Nora Roberts, Dear Author's Jane Litte and John Barrie from turnitin.com. It was really interesting to hear from each of the panelists Nora spoke first and promised to come after folks who stole her work and passed it off as their own like the wrath of freaking god. Jane spoke about the difference and overlap between copyright infringement and plaigarism, and the need for a cultural shift to get people to realize that this isn't a little boo-boo (although she said it more eloquently than that). And Barrie spoke about how the concept behind turnitin.com came to be and working towards that shift in academia.
Afterwords, I ran off to find lunch and returned to camp out a bit in Starbucks adjacent place with yarnagogo and various other cool peeps. I ended up hitting some of the signings and picked up some stuff for people. I also shipped a box home and can I tell you - they had to cut down the box because I didn't have enough books to fill it. I could have gotten more.
(Actually I did, but I had brought a big purse so that I could avoid additional luggage charges.)
I grabbed dinner at a little cafe and was thrilled to discover something called the London Fog Latte which is a Latte made with Earl Grey. Wonderful.
I then headed back to the hotel to rest up and change for the awards ceremony. I ran into some other folks headed that way and we shared a cab (cute shoes) to SFM. I glommed onto Melthegreatest who had stationed herself on a chair in the hallway to avoid the pre-door-opening line, and get a good chance at pictures of the processing folks.
The awards happened, where apparently having been in a workshop with me or my having read your book was a bit of a curse (except for honorary cherry Anne Stuart and Kristan Higgans). It was lovely the number of people who thanked their spouses for supporting them through potentially unlucrative career.
And then there was chocolate and cheese and wine. Yum.

Food: Chai, curry chicken salad, turkey sandwich, London Fog Latte, cheese, crackers, mini eclair, fruit tart, fruit napoleon.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Last Friday

Friday I got up much too early and it's Lisa Gardner's fault because she was having a great workshop where she talked about revision. I started the day with a low grade headache, but thought I could soldier through it, and it seemed to be working as I made my way to the next workshop on the 21st Century Heroine, where I ran into Yarnagogo. Then I was off to a workshop about agents (where I successfully stalked introduced myself to an agent I had targeted). I restrained myself from jigging (or jiggying) on my way to lunch (free books). And about lunch was where my headache decided to speak up. So despite being seated at a fabulous table (including the lovely Melthegreatest), a woman who's husband had sent her a great button after her luggage was misplaced (I have a story and I'm not afraid to pitch it) and the president of the Washington chapter (of which I am not, erm, a member, yet), I was hurting. I made it through the food. And the speechifying began and I snuck out. (Sorry Connie Brockaway, I'm sure you were great.)
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I ran into Sandra Kitt in the hallway, and expressed my love. (I am unstoppable like that.) I then texted the friend who had first given me one of her books.
I got some caffeine and stuck around for the Harlequin signing which was, interesting. They were really trying to herd us in a specific route, which I'm sure someone thought would prevent backups or rushes to one author over others. In actual fact it just created one giant jam with unhappy people who couldn't get where they were trying to go. I finally broke ranks, and went to the folks I wanted to see. I'm sure I missed out on discovering some new people, but I'll find them later, it will all work out.
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And I headed back to the hotel for some R&R.
I ended up eating in the lounge at the hotel, which was interesting. The food was great (and I was feeling well enough to appreciate it.) I was seated by a window where I had a great view of the hotel across the street. There were two guys, on different floors staring down at the street - for quite some time. There was not a lot to look at. Perhaps it was better than TV. Perhaps they were unaware that their windows were not tinted and they were really visible. But it fascinated me as I wondered.

Food: Chai, salad, rubber chicken, tuna tartare and ratatouille.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Last Thursday

Thursday I had a lazy morning (having checked the schedule, I knew Friday would not be so, so I was taking it where I could.)
I arrived over at SFM later, having hit an alternate cafe place, knowing the hotel one was getting slammed. I wandered, I knit, I played with my Ipod, it was all good. I spotted some pretty felted pins in a gift shop window just outside the hotel, but they didn't open until later. In my wanderings I ran into Yarnagogo and Lala. Lala had to get to work, so Yarnagogo and I went and staked out a table in the hotel atrium cafe.
Then there was lunch (free books), which was okay, and Yarnagogo and I broke out the knitting for the speech. Victoria Alexander was wonderfully entertaining and afterwords it was time to start with the workshops. Yarnagogo and I went to one on pitching and then I went to one by the Buzz Girls, of whom I was not that familiar, but I think I'm a fan now. (And I won the RITA nominated books from Simone Elkeles, so it was all good.)
I ran into famous author Christine Merrill hanging out in the lobby and told her that I had met her at Cherry Con - my you don't know you know me, but you do speech (I'm getting really good at that).
I went to the Red Sage social and got a cupcake and a book out of the deal.
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I hung out for a while in the lobby, annoyed Robin D. Owens because I knew I knew her name and couldn't place it (could it be because I read Heartmate. She was very gracious, although she did move shortly after (not that I blame her.) Cherries began gathering in the lobby for the big Cherry dinner at Buca di Beppo. As we were congregating, a lovely woman who was having trouble sorting out the various stimuli in the lobby planted herself amid the group. People asked her name. She seemed confused. (She did give us her name, not that kind of confused.) We asked if she was a cherry - no response. We continued chatting, and she was still there, looking at us. I told her we were all very nice, and we could convert her to cherry-hood. (It's not that hard. There's not even a test.) Around then she decided to wander away from us. People accused me of scaring her.
Dinner was fabulous. Some local cherries had made arrangement for a pre-set meal so that simplified things. And yet, (or perhaps because) the staff was amazingly solicitous of us throughout the evening. We wandered back to SFM for Moonlight Madness where I bought a cute pin. This woman had cut possibly naughty sentences out and put them on pins. Mine says, "It's a little bit scandalous."

Food: Earl Grey, pesto salad, salad, chicken with risotto, cupcake, more salad, pizza, ravioli, fettucine alfredo, pesto salmon and chocolate cake.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Last Wednesday

(Now with pictures!)
Wednesday was the day I switched hotels to the conference approved hotel, although it wasn't the conference hotel. In retrospect I could have just stayed where I was and all that but, the contrast of a busy street overlooking hotel where you step onto the sidewalk into swarms of people to the JW Marriott where once inside you felt you might be in a bubble, was kind of interesting. And considering the mayhem that was the lobby at the San Francisco Marriott (where the RWA conference, plus some management conference, and a good number of airlines crew, as well as some of the union folks, to say nothing of your regular smattering of tourists) - I was quite happy to stay elsewhere. (Yes, I'm sure the rooms at SFM were lovely and tranquil.)
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I registered fairly early in the morning (free books) and then stationed myself - knitting visibly - in the Starbucks where I was meeting some fellow Ravelers. My plan worked as Knitterary immediately said, "Are you one of the Ravelers?" and then Yarnagogo and Twistedandwarped arrived too. So, Yarnagogo took us first to Artfibers. You head up a windy staircase, lined with knitting drawings and then - cones and cones of yarn. (If you want smaller amounts, they will wind you a ball. They also ship - which may be very dangerous information.) They also have a whole giant setup for yarn tasting, should you want to swatch up a bit.
So, deciding that special, San Francicso yarn, was just what I needed, I did manage to restrain myself to two cones. (What? There was a lot of pretty and shiny in there.) (PS. Poking around their website, they sell undyed yarn to. You're welcome.)
After that we went to Imaginknit, which had some gorgeous yarns also. I wandered about stroking the pretties until I discovered they had a yarn named after me, it was even spelled correctly, and it was on sale! So, grabbed two balls of that and discovered they had the other yarn named after me, the one that's spelled wrong (Dear Fibre Co, I kid becuase I love.)
This led to quite a discussion with Kurt, who worked there and had even put up a sign declaring the Terra to be his pick. So, I grabbed a skein of that too. And maybe found a skein of Nature Cotton.
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Then Yarnagogo took us to the "best burrito place in San Francisco" where we were treated to yummy veggie burritos. After that, we headed back to the SFM.
I dropped my yarn back at my hotel before wandering back for the Literacy signing. Having heard stories in the past, I decided to be in line crazy early. I had narrowed the list down to people I really had to get to, and then bonus people. Some (Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann) either didn't have their newest release at the signing, or I already had it all because I get twitchy, and/or I already had signed books from them. (I did not buy anything released the week prior to the signing, but that was about as restrained as I get, bookwise).
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Chatted in line with various folks before they opened up the doors and we swarmed in.
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I made a beeline for Marjorie M. Liu such that the poor woman was still seating herself as I rushed up and said something like," Hi! IalreadyreadTheIronHuntanditwasreallygoodandIloveyourblogandnowIneedTheWildRoadandcouldyou-
signitplease?" She did.
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I wandered past the Suzanne Brockmann line and talked to the author's mom (who I had met in Atlanta, I'm a little stalker not a big stalker, and I did re-introduce myself.) And I talked to some authors, telling them that I had their books, but was a big fan. They were all very gracious. (In fact Roxanne St. Claire signed a bookmark for me.) I told Anne Stuart I had met her at Cherry Con and she gave me a Dogs and Goddesses bumper sticker. Lisa Gardner's daughter was helping her sign (aw!).
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I got the anthology with Cindy Gerard's latest. I got Cindy Dee's latest - a new suspense series (yay!). I fawned politely over Christine Feehan. Some folks who had lines I decided to not pressure whoever was already there talking to them. So, I was pretty restrained on the purchase front (for me) and I was done in a reasonable amount of time.
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Food: Chai, Banana bread, Vegetable burrito, jicama salad, chile rellenos, tostadas, strawberry marguerita.