Friday, May 30, 2008

Adventures in Riding Da Bus

So, last week I was riding the bus. I was reading an e-book. (Have a reader, will eventually remember to talk about that). A gentleman sat down next to me with and sipping from his 24 ounce can of beer. (Side note: How is it that I can't get on with my Starbucks but beer is apparently fine?) So, while this is totally from my memory it works best if we recap in conversational form.
"Hey, what's that?" indicating reader.
"It's an electronic book reader. It lets you read electronic books."
"So, it reads the book for you?"
"No, it just shows you the book."
"Oh. You read a lot don't you? I can just tell."
I nod.
"Yep. You a teacher?"
"Really? Huh. Have you read that book? That book, oh I can't remember the name of it but it's that one? The one about the guy? It was written by the guy from England."
"Yeah, possibly. But you know the one I mean, that one, I can't think of the name right now, but it's that one about that guy...You know...The guy who learned magic."
At this point, there are two teens on the other side of me who have been leaning in close because clearly this conversation has potential. One of them suggests, "Harry Potter?"
"Yeah, that's the one. Did you read that?"
"No, I haven't."
"Why not?"
"Just haven't gotten around to it."*
"Really? You know what? You have kids?"
"Oh. Well, when you have kids, you'll end up reading it to them."
"Trust me you will."
I give a Hmmm-I-will-keep-further-thoughts-silent nod.
"So, where you from?" He asks, after another sip.
"Really? You lived here your whole life?"
"You never been to New York?"
"I've visited."
"Couldn't hack it?"
"I just didn't want to live there."
"Never been to California?"
"I've visited."
"Couldn't make it out there?"
"I just didn't want to live there."
"Huh. I been all over. I was in the Army. I got my card if you don't believe me."
And this was about the point that the gentleman arrived at his stop. Much to the disappointment of some of my fellow passengers, I am sure.

*For the record, I have nothing against Harry Potter. I has been given to me, I just never got around to reading it. That may or may not change at some point.
**So, I left out college. And suburban Maryland. I wasn't really trying to get into a big discussion. Bigger.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Books: Bobbie Faye's (kinda, sorta, not exactly) Family Jewels

I got another Library Thing ARC - Bobbie Faye's (kinda, sorta, not exactly) Family Jewels by Toni McGee Causey.
It took me a while to catch the rhythm of this story, but it was well worth it. I tend to enjoy madcap adventures and yet be annoyed by those that either require a larger than normal suspension of disbelief or the intervention of too many crazy and annoying relatives to make it work (which in some ways is the same thing). And while I have a bit of a nitpick about part of the mystery, overall this worked and was a great ride and I'm looking forward to the next.
Bobbie Faye, and I imagine many others, appeared in a prior book, which I have not read. I think this book picks up pretty clearly without prior knowledge, but if you want to ba a stickler for order you may wish to start with the prequel. This particular episode has Bobbie Faye, who is fortunately beloved by her town because these adventures have a lot of collateral damage, being tasked by her cousin to assist in locating some diamonds that were apparently wanted by her aunt (the cousin's mom), and are desparately wanted by her uncle (who is also in the mob), some rival terrorist groups, Homeland Security, the FBI and an increasing number of other folks. Adding to the cast, we also have Bobbie Faye's recent ex - a local cop, her current possible love interest who is posing as a mobster, Bobbie Faye's boss who's voodoo spells seem to have interesting results, and various estranged family members. (There's actualy quite a few more characters, you may want to make a list.) So there's searching, voodeo casting, explosions, shootings, a Bible beating and a little lust too. I think this story qualifies as a great pool (or beach or picnic) read. I read it over quite a number of sittings and was able to jump back in easily and enjoyably. And I may have to hunt down the previous one now too.

Monday, May 26, 2008


You may recall a while back Stitch Marker put together this exhibit with meathead hats. Well, she's at it again. Back in February the call went out for dishcloths, knit in a cream or natural cotton, any stitch pattern. And hey, I can do that. So, I sent one off. (If you look at the gallery linked here, I'm 109.) And now they are all packed up. It's such an exciting thing, and I am honored to be involved even in such a tiny way. And I have to say, if you look at that gallery, it's amazing what happens when you tell people make it about yay big and just see what they do.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Seven Things: Fighting Fair

Disclaimer: For the purposes of fun, and so no one out there think I am picking on them or their fight (because I am not) we will imagine that Fluffy and Fido are fighting about whether or not unicorns. I have no official stance on unicorns.
1. Don't call names. We all joke about using I statements and the like (or is that just my friends), but if you call someone names, instead of discussing the issue you have taken it to a new level and bad things will happen.
So, if Fluffy calls Fido a big, stupid, fizzy idiot, it does not help the discussion. Even if (especially if he does it in the middle of a brilliant point.)
2. Just because someone else started name-calling does not make it okay for you to do it too.
So now that Fluffy called Fido a fizzy idiot, it is not okay for her to call Fluffy a stupid dumbhead.
3. Telling someone they must lead a sad life or not get enough sex or [insert unnecessary judgement about their life here] is really the same as name calling.
So, it is not a good idea for Fluffy to respond by saying, "Wow, I'm sorry you are such a lonely person that worrying about unicorns is such a big deal to you." It adds nothing to the discussion.
4. Things that seem funny in your head, or even when you're sitting on a couch with a friend, often do not come across as funny when done in public, be that in person or on the internet. Read carefully.
So, if Fluffy and Fido always call each other idiot and dumbhead but Sparkles overhears and gets upset that they are being mean, things also might escalate unnecessarily.
5. Telling people to calm down rarely works. More often it is seen as patronizing - you telling them that they are taking it too seriously.
So if Fido says, "Geeze, Sparkles, unicorns aren't that big a deal anyway," - again that helps nothing. Most likely it just ticks Sparkles off more.
6. Don't answer or respond just to respond. That almost always lead to saying things you haven't thought through well. (I know, that one's really hard.)
So, if Sparkles says, "Yes they are!" That's not useful. If Sparkles doesn't have anything new to say, it - hard as it is - is better to say nothing.
7. And sometimes, no matter how well you explain your position, people will still disagree with you. It's weird and shocking and strange, yet true. Continuing to explain the same thing with the same exact words, will not change their mind.
So, Fido might have all sorts of evidence gathered and Sparkles might still not believe Fido. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. Trying to change that makes Fido and Sparkles unhappy, and really the longer the discussion goes on, the less likely it is that either Sparkles or Fido will change their mind.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Things People Should Know: Websites

Here's the thing I don't get. If you have a business and you're out there spreading the word, trying to develop a customer base, why have a crappy website. It's almost better to have no website. At the very least have the basics - who, what, where and how to contact you. I had this conversation back in the day with one boss - she had me put our website on business cards prior to a national convention. Here's the thing. I left the company six months later, the website still wasn't up. If you drive people to you and they don't see anything, the chances they will keep obsessively checking are slim. It is very rare that you will do something that no one else on earth does. If you've got me - keep me. Or at least make it worth me bookmarking you.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Fair warning: This entry will talk about sex. Why am I telling you this time? Not sure.

So, some scientists wanted to see what orgasm looks like - from a neurological perspective, of course. So, they stuck folks inside PET scanners and watched the results. So the sensory bits (yes, that's a technical term) - the parts that register touch, light up. The other parts of the brain - thee parts that register tension, stress, judgement, decision making, inhibition, fear and anxiety all stop. This happens to a far greater extent in females as compared to males. So, women turn off their emotions during sex.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Whine

Mostly, everything I want to say, has been said. But really, who whines about the hardship of winning a Nobel Prize?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Best Non-Spam Email Title? You Decide.

I am on the email list for I got this email title in my inbox the other day: Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale.
Hee. The full story is here. I don't really have a horse in this race, as they say, but some thoughts.
First, there is a guy who says he really likes the articles.
I remain unconvinced that looking at naked people makes those who were previously unlikely to do so, more likely to commit sexual assault.
I think while catchy, the title is misleading, since there are fears it would affect a spectrum of magazines aimed at men, including ones that while racy, are generally agreed to not be porn.
I am interested to note that there is no discussion of how this might affect women, nor is there any discussion of how this might affect sales of magazines aimed at women. Perhaps the bases do not currently sell these. (There are women quoted, but they are quoted as to their feelings about men not being able to buy the magazines, although admittedly were they buying the magazines, one imagines they would not be able to tell.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Really Fast Talking

I think sometimes people forget how instantaneous so much of our communication can be. Certainly there are plenty of emails or blog or forum posts that sit there for ages before there is any sort of response. So, sometimes people put it out there that something is done figuring that by the time people read it, it probably will be. Forgetting about time zones and insomniacs or those of us who spend inordinate amounts of time on the net.
So you do that, and that's the time that people start emailing or posting back that they can't see it and are you sure you did it. And in the ways of the internet sometimes people then gather around and start wondering what happened and why you would say that it was done when it wasn't.
And I think in most cases the person who said it was done didn't mean to lie or mislead, but they set an unrealistic expectation and now people are mad. Often if you say, I'm really sorry for the delay, I am working on that now and hope to have everything done in the next week, people will be fine. Okay, some people will whine, but it will be less people than in you say it's already taken care of and then everyone goes and looks and sees that somehow it isn't.

And You Thought I Was Done With Ocean Colors

(Or did you?)
Arauacania Patagonia Nature Cotton
Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton. And did you know there is also a Pima Cotton?
I didn't either!
Pomaire Pima Cotton.
Araucania Pomaire Pima Cotton
Oh, I have great plans...

Monday, May 12, 2008

7 Things: About My Weekend

Yeah, I'm finding myself a bit entranced by the seven things bit. So, here we go.
1. Got to hang with knitters. This, of late, happens a lot of weekends, and yet - doesn't get old.
2. Made some good knitting progress.
3. Great food. I actually ate no meals at home. Between hanging with the knitters, family in town, advisor gatherings, very little food was consumed where I lived. (Unless you count the cat). And of course great food can occur when I cook it, if I do say so myself, but somehow eating out is often more fun.
So there was Shanghai Village (my family are long time customers, having followed it from it's original location and name)
There was Dino which I have converted some of my family on. (some were already converted, ha, ha!)
And there was Hard Times Chili, which seems the great way to end a partially gluttonous weekend.
4. Family was in town since my brother is now a college graduate. Woot!
5. I started reading a great book. (Not meant to be a tease, will talk once I finish.)
6. I made some good progress on my NaNo WIP. I'm almost afraid to talk about it, but am trying to be zen in the - it matters that I get the story told, not so much what happens or doesn't happen to it after way.
7. I have now played "Guitar Hero". And while I only attempted one song and was booed off the stage by the people (interestingly, I was only a little embarrassed by this and really wanted to know if the audience gets really rowdy, but apparently booing is as far as they go.) I also am now considering my need for a gaming system. Hmmm.
Not even the single tracking on the metro got me down.

Friday, May 09, 2008

So Good, You Have to Stop

I'm going to get a little dark and heavy here. First, a little background. I was in Civil Air Patrol, the Air Force auxiliary in high school. I have relatives who are or have been members of the Army and the Navy. So, while clearly I do not have combat experience, I understand a lot about how the military works on a protocol level.
When I applied to the Air Force Academy, my dream job was to be able to become a fighter pilot (with a major in psychology). In 1991, the Air Force was the only branch where that was a possibility, although the Navy opened up fighter pilot positions to women later that year.
I have read a lot about World War II and the various fights that went on about letting women into the military - when at that time they weren't even leaving the US, they were just ferrying planes around since they were getting shot out of the air faster than they could be built.
So, I understand that at the time, when women were finally allowed to attend military academies, finally allowed to serve, that the decision to keep them away from combat was a compromise. But, I think the time has come. I think now we are putting more people in danger by trying to, adhere to this, to say nothing of creating a glass ceiling that limits women's advancement in the military. Everything I have heard and read about the combat situations the military typically faces today indicates that situations that seem non-combative, rapidly and unexpectedly become so. And particularly when we are in cultures where it creates problems for men to question or examine local women, having women on the team is an asset. (Yes there are also accompanying challenges too.) But is it realistic to expect that any females in a unit can just stay back should things get dicey? Is that fair to the team (male and female)? And is it realistic?
I think not. And I present to you the following story. Army Specialist Monica Brown serves as a medic on her team. They are currently in Afghanistan. Brown's team was travelling when a bomb exploded under one of the Humvees. Insurgents began firing on the team. She was instrumental in gathering and treating wounded team members, and dragging them back to safety, earning herself a Silver Star. And then, the publicity surrounding her heroic actions, led to her being pulled from her team since she had been in the proximity of combat.
One of the concerns raised is that females would present a more special target for kidnapping. I assume that is because either it is assumed that a female's team would feel especially bad or because of seeming higher risk of sexual torture. I would argue that it is a little insulting to members of any unit to assume they don't feel badly when any team member is captured. I would also suggest that, unfortunately, it is not any easier or harder to sexually torture anyone. That is why we hope that people don't get captured, and that if they do, those who hold them will follow the rules established by the Geneva Convention.
So, back to Brown. Here we have someone who was doing their job with excellence. And her excellence earned her recognition. And that recognition led to her being given a promotion, an award, and a new assignment. Unfortunately, the new assignment is somewhere else. She was not given the opportunity to stay with the team she had been working with, since they had experienced combat.

Thanks to ChaliceChick for the link to the story.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Haul

{Warning: Picture heavy post ahead!}
So, the aforementioned haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool. First, I would like to say that while I did not set a budget, I did try to stick to stuff I could not get the rest of the year (or at least not at that price) and I brought a bag, a big purse, and a backup bag, but everything fit in the bag. See?
Bag of yarn
I first made a beeline for the Fibre Company booth. They had mill ends of Savannah Bulky. (Sadly, a very limited selection of Terra, which apparently produces less mill ends.)
Fibre Company 2
And then I saw a colorway I had missed, so I got more.
Fibre Company 1
Some Rowan Summer Tweed.
Rowan Summer Tweed
A little Debbie Bliss Pure cashmere.
DB Cashmere
I got some Socks that Rock in the Knitters Without Borders colorway.
Brooks Farm has a new yarn - Willow - a wool bamboo blend. And there was some Four Play on sale that goes with the stuff I picked up last year.
Brooks Farm
Her is is all together. See - not much at all.
Big Haul

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

O Parthenope!

I finally finished. I have to say I really love this shawl. I had intended to make it a bit smaller but misunderstood that pattern directions (by a lot) and thought I was finishing early, but no. It was probably just as well, since thinking I had much further to go, probably spurred me past my normal malaise. In the end I love it.
Random Notes:
I found these garden kneeling pads in the dollar section at Target and they worked great for blocking. They are rubber foam so fine with being wet and jabbed with pins. Great find.
The pattern kind goes like this \ then this / then this \ again. The second \ moves over a bit creating a staggered effect. The pattern says to go to 19 tiles I was counting one whole succession as a tile so thought I had only made it to ten. However I think, what it meant was you have 19 bobbles per side - which I do. I did notice I didn't have as much yarn as one might think if I still had all this more to go. And I misplaced a partial skein so freaked out and bound off three quarters of the way through the lotus edging.
Blocking Parthenope - Lotus Edge
I am happy with the final look, so it's all fine. All in all, it's a great pattern, but I would suggest this is better suited for someone's second or third lace shawl, rather than their first. Or something they do in a class.
Parthenope Shawl

Monday, May 05, 2008

Travel, Partying and Yarn!

Short version of my weekend:
*Went to Ireland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Romania. Yes, the European Union members all had open houses at the embassies this weekend.
*Went to the Ravelry party - got buttons, but sadly no raffle prizes. (That's okay, I soothed myself with yarn.)
*Went to church - we had a great discussion in youth group about racism.
*Went to Maryland Sheep and Wool - bought a little yarn. Sadly, was unable to track down the deep fried Oreo.

The embassy tour was fun. Ireland had food, Bulgaria had food, wine and dancing, and it was neat seeing some of these amazing residences. For the locals, the non-EU embassies will be doing something similar in a two weeks, plus there are additional events in between. Check here.

Ravelry party - I wore my Parthenope Shawl (More on that another day, promise.) Miss Karida herself walked up to me and asked me if I we had met. I flashed the shawl and said yes. She cooed appropriately and showed it to her non-knitter friends so they could the the yarn in action.
I ran into someone who had been near me in line to see the Yarn Harlot in Annapolis. Stared at Casey and Jess (they were busy chatting and while I know you don't host a party like this and not expect people to talk to you, I opted for leaving them with those who had found them already.) I bought Ravelry pins. I found Westerly Whimsies - my former swapper. I did not win the amazing raffle prizes for the party or from Ravelraiser. (I'll survive.)
Youth group was an open topic day, so we ended up talking about racism and it was really interesting. I am constantly amazed by how thoughtful all these kids are.
Then I hightailed it up to West Friendship where I went to Sheep and Wool. I think I did a better job of covering stuff this year. I brought a big purse, a bag for purchases and I had a backup bag. No need to break out the back up bag, everything fit in the tote. So, really, I was very good. (I also - with the exception of some STR, bought only stuff that was mill end or not available online.) So, for all you people who think there isn't yarn left on Sunday - pshaw.
Ran into a Raveler from the party. Met up with some knit group Ravelers - some were better influences than others. (To be fair, I am probably the worst influence.) Saw Casey and Jess walking around (it was post-Rav meeting, so we left them in peace). Met a fellow Raveler who has sadly lost her voice. She was accompanied by a translator who was able to convey the story and the sadness, and spare her writing hand a bit.
I was unable - after tireless searching and a bit of asking, to locate the mythical deep fried Oreo. A couple people who had heard of my quest were very concerned for my health. First, my cholesterol is fine. Second, I was planning on having one once in my life, not a regular weekly thing, so I think even my doctors would agree that in such moderation, it would have been fine.
Ah, well, at least I have a little yarn.
(Pictures to come once my computer cooperates.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Different Kind of Sport

In another kind of synchronicity, on the same day I heard the story about the softball players, I played the episode of Food Network's "Challenge: Surprise Engagement Cake". For those of you unfamiliar with "Challenge", four teams compete over several hours in front of a live audience to create some sort of cake or dish. In this challenge, a gentleman had convinced his girlfriend to attend with him, telling her they were going to participate in the challenge, perhaps as assistants. In fact, he proposed to her and the challenge for the teams was to create an engagement cake - at least three feet tall - for them. As regular viewers know, sometimes the most interesting part can be when they have to move the cake to the judging table. Anyway, one of the contestants Marina Sousa, was looking pretty flushed and mentioned not feeling so well. Everyone kept commenting she looked a little stressed out. And then, a few hours in to the event, she passed out. The other contestants stopped, medical assistance was called for, and she ended up be taken away in an ambulance. Since they were teams of two, her teammate Dawn Nemec remained and the judges kindly asked her if she felt able to go on. She did. And Jason and Joshua Russell - from a competing team looked at each other and went up to her together to say that they could help. Their cake was mostly completed, and as one of them said, they were tired of looking at their cake anyway. So they helped Dawn complete the cake and get it carried to the table, in addition to finishing up their own.
In the end, neither team won, but it was a lovely example of how teamwork and generosity can extend outside the ballpark.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Being a Good Sport

If you ever wondered what it means to be a good sport, I have a story for you. (Warning, this made me cry.) Being a good sport is not just playing according to the rules. It is not just about not throwing a tantrum when you lose. It is about wanting everyone to play their best, even if they are on the other team.
Sara Tucholsky, a member of the Western Oregon University softball team, was at bat with one strike and two runners on base, while playing Central Washington University last Saturday. She whacked her first home run clear over the fence. The teams had been tied at zero, so it was even better. In her excitement, she missed first base and as she turned to go back and tag it, Tucholsky fell to the ground, with what turned out to be a torn ligament. Tucholsky managed to crawl back to first base, but it was clear she was not going to make it further. The rules state that a pinch runner can be called in, but when that happens the play is considered ended, which means that her hit would only count as a two-run, and not a three-run. Tucholsky had to make it through the remaining bases and then across home without assistance from her team. (Any assistance from her teammates would be considered an out.)
So, two players from Central Washington, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, picked Tucholsky up and carried her around the bases, dipping her down so she could properly touch each one, and across home. They did this despite the fact that this clearly allowed the opposing team to score in a game that was going to help decide who made it to the playoffs.
I don't want to take too much away from the wonder of this story, although I will share a link to an article that ponders the likelihood of seeing something equivalent in men's sports. In the end, it is just a great story about people who didn't want to win on a technicality. People who didn't want to watch a fellow player lose out on a great moment. Tucholsky had already hit the ball over the fence. Touching the bases was almost a technicality, though clearly a requirement. And although Holtman and Wallace did not know at the time that their team would lose (although not by a single run) or that Tucholsky was a senior and this was her first homer, they just wanted to see her complete it. And really, isn't that why you play? Because you love the game so much that you want to see people do well at it? I hope so. As Western Oregon coach Pam Knox said, "It kept everything in perspective and the fact that we're never bigger than the game."
Holtman said. "Because granted I thought of it, but everyone else would have done it...And it's kind of a nice way to go out, because it shows what our program is about and the kind of people we have here."