Friday, June 27, 2008

No Free College For You

I applied to something like seven different universities when I was in high school. I combed through college guides (the internet was not quite the resource it can be today, I shudder to think how much bigger my list might have been. Or conversely smaller.) I watched laser discs (ah, remember back when that was the format that was going to make video obsolete?) - essentially virtual campus tours and I read almost every brochure that came through the door after I took the PSATs and SATs. All of this is to say, that I starting making lists early on as a high school junior, and while certainly I was standing in the post office the day some of my applications had to be postmarked getting everything into the envelope, but I knew when all my deadlines were well in advance. And I knew that to apply to the Air Force Academy (which I did) I needed a nomination.
Yes, Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and West Point still work on a nomination system. (Coast Guard uses a more mainstream process.) So, in order to apply, you first have to be nominated. There are other routes, but the most common is to get a nomination from your congressperson. And there's the rub, because as a DC resident, there's only one for you to turn to. So, I went downtown and met with then Representative Walter Fauntroy and a panel of folks representing the academies for my interview, wrote my essay,trained for the fitness test, and waited. I received the nomination, but if I hadn't, I had very limited other options.
But, as it turns out, right now, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton isn't using the full amount of nominations available to her. Why? Lack of applications.
Now certainly, folks today are possibly more aware that joining the military means, you know, serving in places where you might die. But, there are still people enlisting. I hear of kids going from high school and enlisting. And certainly some of them are doing this, in part, to get a free education. So, what if they could do the education part first? Wouldn't some of them want to?
Now, I know in recent years, there's been a lot of effort to make sure that military recruiters don't get undue access to high schoolers. And certainly the free academy education comes with a commitment to serve, so it should be weighed carefully by students and parents. And sure, some students may be enlisting because students don't get salaries. But, free education, certainly that should get a little better press.
The live chat (while certainly not a representative group of people, but still) showed some varying views on military academies, but also some insight from at least one person who claimed to have worked in academy recruiting comparing DC to other regions. Apparently, some of the disconnect is an expectation that DC public school are not able tor produce enough qualified candidates. However, as was mentioned throughout the chat, while no one denies that DCPS needs to serve its students better, there are DC students going to other top schools, so that is certainly not the only factor.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So That's Why All the Crime

Now, I recognize that taking one little statement out of context, can be mean. Or misleading. But, heck the staff of "The Daily Show" have made a fine living at it. And, really, as much as I try to be open and imagine other surrounding words - nope, still not working for me.
So, I had this entry I was cogitating on about the whole having things on the sidewalk along Connecticut Avenue issue. I was torn. After all if you are supposed to have a permit, then you're supposed to have a permit. But, on the flip side I'm not sure why Comet needs a permit to have a ping pong table in front of their business. Or why their neighbors need a permit for tables or a bench. Perhaps I am naive in the ways of government, but this seems like the nitpicky thing that makes people hate bureaucracy. Especially if some of those things had been there for a decade.
I recognize that time does not negate the need to follow the rules (except for statute of limitations stuff, but that's for another day.) But again, I ask why we have this rule? Is it because some benches or tables somewhere else are a problem. Is it so I don't try to stick a crazy bench outside my window. Does the permit then result in any sort of inspection or evaluation of the space? Or is it just a way to collect money? Because, look, I know the city needs money. But pissing off local businesses (and their customers) doesn't seem to be the way to get it.
Yes, well, it turns out the reason we need to regulate such things, is to prevent this section of Connecticut Avenue from all the rapes and murders. Color me still confused.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stitch and Pitch DC

So, I dragged a knitting challenged friend of mine with me to Stitch and Pitch. In my defense, she was fine with being surrounded by yarny folk, and, like me, she had not yet been to a Nationals game. After a pitiful comedy of errors involving me being exceedingly late (and sadly my friend is a Luddite when it comes to cell phones) because I had forgotten to print out the tickets only to go back to my apartment and realize I had no clue where the email was (fortunately they were able to resend it to me quite quickly) we did find each other and get into the stadium before the game started. (Barely.)
First, the food at the stadium, while pricey (something my stint as a hockey ticket holder has inured me to), was good. Hard Times chili was the direction we went, but in addition to the normal stadium fare, there were other local options. We found our seats where it turns out we were right next to two people who bought their tickets unaware they would be surrounded by yarnies. They wondered if we all knew each other from some sort of group - a feeling that was enhanced when it turned out just a row below me was a part-time staffer at one of the LYS's who recognized me due to my frequent patronage. And I saw someone from knitting group. (Ironically the two people I knew were going to be there, I did not see. Ah well.)
I brought the Elinor Tunic (more on that another day) to work on. I did end up with a bag, despite my lack of effort in obtaining one. And I scored a ball of Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton in Aquamarine, along with some, er, interesting needlepoint patterns and a hat pattern. All in a nice Nationals Stitch and Pitch bag.
I knit through most of the innings, despite the fact that our seats were right underneath the lights, which attracted a lot of moths. Many moths died for their interest, and we were underneath that particular funereal path.
We noticed people leaving around the seventh inning stretch. (It was a highly defensive game.) When the ninth inning ended in a tie, my friend and I decided we would hold out until at least the thirteenth inning or midnight. We originally meant whichever came first, but somehow we decided to see the fourteenth inning through. Just as well, since that was the winner for the Nats. All in all, a good night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And another

I could not resist the Starbucks and Yarn Swap. In fact, I am hosting one of the blends. (Yes, I do see the funny in me being in charge of a group named after coffee.) Still spots available...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Too Girly

Let's start with the disclaimer. I, of course, respect everyone's right to wish for things that are different. I even respect that have different options makes this world a better place. However, apparently people, mostly female people, are complaining that the iphone (and one imagines, the ipod touch) is hard to use if one has fingernails. Let me explain, unlike most touch screens that one encounters, the iphone responds to the charge in your finger rather than the pressure on the screen. So, if you poke the screen with just your fingernail, nothing happens. Now, certainly if you are accustomed to other touch screens, this is an adjustment. Especially, since, fair or not, there is the illusion of more specific pointing when you use your nail, instead of your finger. However, as a relatively new owner of an ipod touch (I caved), I can tell you that it works really well touching it with the pad of your finger. (Now, I do disagree with the Popgadget suggestion if just trimming your nails, I don't think gadgets should require different grooming habits>) Now I have nails. Long enough that people often ask me if I can type. I'm not sure what kind of job they think I have, but anyhoo, I can type. And play piano. And dial telephones. And use touchscreens. And sure, in some of these things my nails touch the keys or buttons. But it is not a terribly difficult adjustment to understand that for the ipod touch or the iphone, the nail tap doesn't work. So, work it out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Unfinished

So, I've been thinking about writing. In part because I've been working on my Nano piece, getting it together, entering it in contests, trying to have something cohesive, having set the somewhat arbitrary deadline of RWA for myself. And I had come to the conclusion, that in some ways, it must be like raising kids. How could you ever feel you were finished I mean, I'm sure there are days where you are ready to hand off the task to others, but as a parent, it seems likely that you always can think of other things you wish you had more time to do.
Actors often talk about being unable to watch their own performances, and while certainly many of us non-actors have trouble looking at photos or videos of ourselves, it seems that part of that might also be the actor's inability to see past the things that could have been done differently.
So, writing is like that. And now I have set pieces out there for people to look at. I have in fact requested that people tell me what they think. And it's scary. And part of me wants to snatch it all back and tweak it some more or rewrite it or make it better or just pet it all by myself. Oh well, it's out there now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Electronic Readers

So, back in the day, I had an old school e-reader. I had seen it on "Oprah" and loved the idea of freeing up more suitcase space for things like clothes, shoes and souvenirs. I only got it partially set up before leaving on the trip I planned to use it for and then I moved and misplaced the cradle and so on.
So, this year, it seemed time to dive back in to this technology. I did a lot of online research, but found the entries over at Dear Author spoke to me most about the things that I cared about. (I'm linking to this one, but follow the tags, there are plenty.)
So, I purchased the e-bookwise. (The reader is available, through other outlets also.) It's a bit bigger than a paperback, and a bit heavier. It does count as an electronic device so, you are supposed to turn it off during plane takeoff and landing. However, since I am always paranoid that I will be stuck on a plan or in an airport without reading material, having a backup book for those takeoff and landing moments was fine. But I only needed one, since I had ten books on the e-bookwise. The e-bookwise has an adjustable backlight which makes it great for reading in darkened conditions (be it in bed or on a plane where the cabin lights have been dimmed). It is not great in super bright conditions, such as direct sunlight, but changing the angle or finding some shade, helps with that.
I did notice that people on planes or metro are fascinated and ask about it. A couple people asked me if it was really worth the money. (I think so.) You can also write notes in the margin, if you will, and make or remove other notations or highlights. And you can also download your own documents so that you can read papers. And I have a dictionary on mine, so you can look up words. (It will actually look up a word you highlight, which is very cool.) It remembers your place in your book or books. It has in fact turned me into a poly-reader. Reading was bout the only thing I was fairly monogamous on, with some minot exceptions for non-fiction, but no more. Being able to access the next book with a single click has made me a poly-reader.
So, all was sunshine and yarn, until I had an issue. My reader stopped charging when I plugged it in. I contacted the company and it turned out it was an issue with the charging cord, so they sent me another. But that took a while for my impatient self. (The cord has now been received and did resolve my problems).
So I got a pocket PC. The advantage of the pocket PC is that you can download multiple reader programs and you also have a device that does other things*. So, I have tested it out. I am primarily using Mobipocket which does allow for you to read on more than one device, although there are limits.
You can buy a dictionary to use similar lookup functionality with Mobipocket. Also, since Mobipocket works primarily on devices that have internet functionality, it is fairly easy to look it up other ways, should one be in range of a wi-fi signal. Markup and bookmarking functionality works similarly. On my pocket pc, the page background is white on Mobipocket rather than the grey/green of the e-bookwise. This works a little better in bright light situations, but can be a little harder on the eyes. (Kindle and the Sony reader us e-ink, which is apparently nicer on the eyes, but requires a book light in dark situations, so it's trade off.)
The screen on my pocket pc is smaller, so I get about a paragraph less, then on the e-bookwise. But it is also smaller and lighter and fits in a smaller purse. So, again trade offs. Reading the more current formats like mobipocket and such means there are a few more titles available. There are also programs that will convert additional formats to make them readable on the e-bookwise. In the end, I like both. So, we'll see which one ends up getting more use. )They are about neck and neck right now).

*At the time the iphone and ipod touch were not officially allowing for such. I understand there are some good programs that do that for those devices, plus Apple is working with some of the e-reader programs. I might have gotten over my general non-Appleness for that, which is not to say that my pocket pc doesn't work very well for me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Another Weather Post

I don't plan to make it so much of a habit, but it's hot here. Temps have been in the high 90's with humidity amping up into the hundreds. Fun. And the pool in my building is closed Mondays. And my weekend involved lots or pre-planned outside stuff what with Walking for the Cure and a birthday party on the Mall. So, it's hot. I'll recover, the weather will temper (and we'll all acclimate) but right now - hot.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Stormy Weather

My internet has been persnickety, so we're going to go in the way back machine to Wednesday. Wednesday I was telecommuting happily. I got an IM from a co-worker letting me know there were tornado warnings afoot and I should probably be careful. This was followed by an email warning that with the storm we might see co-workers losing power and unable to connect. (The irony is our old office always lost power during storms, although it did typically get returned fairly quickly).
I checked the weather and sure enough there were major storm warnings plus a tornado watch. And then outside as I watched, in short order it went really dark, and then the sky opened up and rain and wind worked together with such force that the cat jumped off the couch (which is near the window) and ran and hid in the closet.
Mid Storm
It was furious and thankfully fast, because twenty minutes later it looked like this.
Storm 20 minutes later
And then by about an hour later I had birds chirping and this.
Storm 1 hour later
However the multiple personality aspect continued through the rest of the evening, since it alternately stormed and lessened throughout the night.
The good news is that, in the DC area at least, while there were reports of funnel clouds and even a touch down or two, there does not appear to have been any tornado damage beyond big storm damage, although one person was sadly killed when a tree fell on the car.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not Enough Hype

In the interest of full disclosure, I will start by mentioning that a friend of mine is a teacher at Patterson High School. So, I get it that business are, well, in business. I get it that you only get to keep having a business if you make money. I get it that advertising is a way to do that and that charitable things are often, in essence free advertising. There's a reason that stadium rights go for so much money.
However, sometimes things get lost. So, a local car dealer promised a scholarship for four students who would be attending Baltimore City Community College. As part of this they wanted to invite media to the graduation (one imagines to interview the lucky recipients) and hang a banner at the ceremony and such.
And then, an instructor at the school collapsed in the parking lot and later passed away. The school decided the graduation ceremony would also become a de facto memorial service, so should take a more somber tone, and nixed press or banners. So, the car dealership backed out and refused to give the money for the scholarships. They are, apparently going to give the money to Community College of Baltimore County.
But there is a happy ending. Several staff members at Patterson got together with other local businesses and staff and alumni and got the money for the students.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Summer of Yarn Love Swap

1. Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft?
Knit. I tried to crochet, I'm not very good at it. I learned to knit in high school, but I have been actively knitting for about three years.
2. Do you spin? What type of spinning?
No.
3. What are your favorite yarns/fibers? What are your least favorite yarns/fibers?
I like many things. I'm a big fan of yummy soft yarns. Not so much with the scratchy.
4. What are your favorite colors? What are your least favorite colors?
I'm a huge fan of blues and greens. Oranges and yellows are trickier - there are those I love and those that are not for me.
5. Are there any yarns/brands that you are dying to work with but never have?
I think the only big one I have left (that I know of...) is Malabrigo. But I'm sure there's lots I haven't tried yet.
6. What is/are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?
I'm on a scarf/shawl kick right now. But I am a big distracted knitter, so who knows.
7. What are you currently working on? Anything you plan to work on this summer?
Heh. See above. I have a shawl, a top, a blanket, and some other things I'm ignoring. Plans for more shawls, tops, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
8. What is your favorite FO? (Post a pic if you would like.)
I'm really proud of the Dark Victory sweater because it got the you knit that? response. And there's the Parthenope, my first gigundo lace.
9. What is your oldest UFO?
Are we countin gthe first scarf I cast on for that involved three kinds of acrylic and sparkly fun fur? Not sure why I never finished that...
10. Are there any techniques that you want to learn?
Hairpin lace. I have a loom and I've noodle with it a bit.
11. Are you on Ravelry? What's your ID?
RandomRanter.
12. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
No. made one sock, no desire to repeat it. Fingerless gloves, on the other hand...
13. Do you collect anything?
Dust. (Kidding). Books.
14. Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes.
15. Do you love sweets? What are your favorites?
Yes. Chocolate works. And licorice or cookies.
16. What are your favorite scents?
I like lighter fruity scents like apple or cucumber.
17. Where do you keep your needles/hooks?
Many places. Most of them are in the Knitpick Options case.
18. Do you have a wishlist (Amazon, Etsy, etc?)
Yes on Amazon under Tara.
19. Having a birthday this summer?
Nope. Fall baby.
20. Are you allergic to anything??? Please let your pal know!
Nothing Fiber related.

The Irony is Just Amazing

Really. A reporter decided to do a story about photographers getting hassled at Union Station. As those in the area are likely aware, there's been a rash of hassling folks trying to take pictures by various people claiming that the area in question is forbidden for picture taking. This would be sort of understandable were these places not all, you know, open to the public. So how is a person with a camera more or less dangerous than a person with a purse? Not sure, but apparently in some places it is. Anyhoo, the reporter - wait for it - got hassled. For taking pictures. While interviewing an Amtrak representative who was explaining that picture taking is allowed in Union station.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Stupid

Go here for a funny.

Thanks to a fellow Raveler for the link.