Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Folks # 22 - The Pretzel Edition

Dear Pretzel Slim Inventor,
Awesome idea - a pretzel without a middle (aka a flat preztel - better for dipping.)
I am thoroughly enjoying your lovely product and cannot decide if the fact that I
have to travel three miles to get them (I know, the horror) is good or bad.
Probably just as well. I just have one tiny complaint. The bag states that there
are approximately eight servings per bag, and I am not finding that to be the case.
I feel it is more like two or three. You may want to check on that.
Thanks sincerely,
New Pretzel Slim Addict

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Because It's All About Me

I have particularly enjoyed the locations of the last two legs of "The Amazing Race" since I have been to both Guilin and Beijing, although Beijing's construction pace (and the Olympics) mean that the skyline has changed drastically since I was there. It was particularly amusing since I got a foot massage (although in Guilin, which our tour guide assured us was known for it's massages) and I will tell you that it does kind of hurt, although my reflexologist was a bit kinder. (The ones in the detour seemed a little more focused on the pain aspect. Although my friend - who opted for a full body massage in Guilin, had a therapist who did not seem familiar with the words ouch, or softer, and she did end up with actual bruises, small though they were.)
And yes, my focus on the location is partly because we have reached that sad part of "The Amazing Race" where I dislike at least one person on all of the remaining teams. (Yes, if I went on a reality show people would dislike me too, especially if I had been travelling for two weeks straight. Doesn't help me like them more.)
Along the Li River

View From Elephant Hill in Guilin

Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Folks # 21 - Stupid Ads

Dear Cruise line,
While I appreciate that your ads are likely meant to inspire longing for warmer weather, I think perhaps by suggesting people wish to not have to wear pants actually makes we wonder if people are, well, bottomless on your cruises which does not make me wish to be there at all.
Is is Spring Yet?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Books: A Certain Strain of Peculiar

Gigi Amateau's A Certain Strain of Peculiar is the story of Mary Harold, a thirteen year old girl who has decided to take charge of her life. Having become the outcast at her school in Virginia, she decides to drive herself to her grandmother's in Wren, Alabama.
Once there, she begins learning to help with her grandmother's cattle,along side farm manager and next door neighbor. Mary Harold also befriends Dixie, Bud's daughter who believes she is a horse. And Mary Harold learns that things are hard for everyone, but that learning to be strong and having the support of friends and family can help.
Due to a package mishap, I received this book on Friday, and despite a busy weekend, I still had it finished by Sunday. It's not an easy read, it's a little like broccoli with hollandaise sauce, you know it's good for you and it's pretty, so you eat it and then discover it tastes pretty great too.
The title comes from Mary asking her grandmother why Bud's kids, Dixie and Delta, are the way they are, and getting the answer that there's a certain strain of peculiar in that family.
As a quick note, Mary and many of the characters within this book are Christian. While I don't recall any specific mention of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is called on several times.
Mary Harold is thirteen, which means there are parts of the story where she seems wiser than her years and parts where she seems much younger. I think the story has appeal for children*, teens and adults and would be a great fit for fans of Joshilyn Jackson's work.

*Officially the book is listed as middle grade fiction, appropriate for grade 7 and up.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Rave #8: Don't Be Icky

So a book rave, if you will. But first, some back story. Once upon a time I had a friend we'll call H*. H had a boyfriend who liked to stay over. But H knew that the vents in her bedroom transmitted sound pretty clearly to one of her roommates. So, she and the boyfriend moved to the other roommate's bed for greater privacy.
Except, she never told the other roommate. So when the other roommate returned I asked her if the sheets on her bed were the same ones from when she had left. She confusedly responded that they were. So, I suggested she might just want to change those.
In Erin McCarthy's Flat-Out Sexy two of the characters (and this happens early on, so only minor spoilage) make use of another's bed. (The bed owner was aware that the bed was being used, thought perhaps not fully aware of all the usage, let's say.)
So, one of the bed users changes the sheets. See, it's a tiny detail but it makes me like the character even more. (And by the way, I really liked the book, scarfed it up in no time.)

*Details changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Alan Sepinwall over at posted a letter to NBC indicating why he thinks "Chuck" (season finale airs Monday) should get a season 3. I agree. Sure, it's got some plot holes. But it's a fun show and I really, really want to know what happens next.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I first heard of zero-tolerance drug policies in local schools at a family dinner. My cousin, who was in high school at the time has allergies. However, if they get bad enough that she has to take a cough medicine* or a decongestant she had to either stay home from school since most need to be taken every four to six hours, or go to school and if things got bad, call to get an early ride home. (Fortunately her father is a telecommuter, so works at home most days.)
Now, I understand that between the growing list of substances people take in an attempt to get high, and the risk that a student will unintentionally cause an adverse reaction by sharing a pain reliever with a friend that schools felt the easiest rule was the so-called zero-tolerance policy which states that students may not have any kind of pill (or apparently pretend pills, according to the WaPo article).
However, a Fairfax County student is in danger of being expelled because she took a birth control pill on school property. (She did have a prescription for it.) Now, yes, she broke a rule. However, here's why zero tolerance ends up hurting more than it helps - the punishment she received (two weeks suspension, the expulsion is under review) is exactly the same as what she would have received if she brought in heroin. See, the zero tolerance policy not only forbids all forms of drugs it treats them all the same. Yes, being in possession of a drug you got from a doctor with a valid prescription is the same - under the school policy - as having or using an illegal drug.
But the good news is, the same article mentions that now Maryland students can use sunscreen without a doctor's note.

*Fairfax County does allow for cough drops, although I imagine that does not include cough medicine.
**Hat tip to DCist for the link.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretty Beret

Another good portable project was the It All Comes Together Beret by Christianna Wincek (who I happen to have the good fortune to know.) I used the Live 2 Knit Joan in the Alchemy colorway. I have to say the yarn, even in a hat pattern really stripped beautifully. And the beret pattern was fun and disguised my failure to read directions (and, ahem, adjusting the sprinkle stitch a bit) very nicely. And I love the purled crown. So, now you get the knitter-in-the-bathroom shots so I could show you the back in action.
Beret Front

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Rant: Babies in the Backseat

Remember how annoyed "Jesus Take the Wheel" made me. (Hey, ChaliceChick agrees with me.) Well, I have found another level. I was reading book in which the baby's father and only caregiver had the baby in the car in the middle of an ice storm as the father was driving up a mountain to make a delivery. (It was, of course, medicine to create some sort of justification for why the child's only caregiver would risk both himself and the child in such dangerous driving weather.)
Recognizing that the chances that this drive would be successful going both up and down the mountain were slim, the father decided to drop the baby off at a house he spotted from the road because God told him that this person was a good person and it would all be okay.
Now I am not saying that God or Jesus or whomever can't talk to you. I'm just saying that whatever divine powers you believe in might want to to take a little more care in deciding who looks after your child.
I have to confess I did not make it far through this book, so I do not know if later there was some explanation for why when the father got the call to make the delivery he didn't say, "I'm sorry but road conditions or treacherous so I cannot make this trip today risking both myself and my child." Or why he didn't arrange for proper childcare before he left. Or why, realizing that road conditions were treacherous, he decided that his child was better off with a random stranger.
(And honestly, had the point of the book been that he returned to the house to discover the stranger and the baby had disappeared, twisted person that I am, I would have found that interesting.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dumb or Dumber - You Decide

One can only imagine that this gentleman was trying to top the dude who punched the crime mascot.
A guy walks into a bar...okay, kidding, he walks into a hotel. Pays no attention to the sign welcoming the Pennsylvania Narcotic Officers' Association conference. He heads into the men's room and decides to rob the next guy who walks in with the help of the trusty gun he brought. You might say he was a tad lucky that it was a retired cop that walked in next (as opposed to an active or on duty cop). Or you might not, since as soon as he left the bathroom with the stolen wallet and cell phone, said victim pulled out his own weapon and followed the robber. Other conference attendees noticed and helped apprehend the suspect. My favorite part, happens to be that as he was led from the courtroom Mr. Blanchett (accused robber) was asked for a comment and responded with, "I'm smooth."
Apparently there is some new slang definition of smooth I am not familiar with.

*Hat tip to Surviving the Workday for the link.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Geometric Lace

I wanted a good travel project to take to Vegas and back, and found the Interlude Lace Wrap by Sharon Brown worked well. I used Schaefer Laurel in the Billie Holliday colorway and decided to knit it horizontally rather than vertically, but otherwise left the pattern essentially unchanged.
Interlude Folded Again
I think it turned out pretty well.
Interlude Wrap - Close

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

7 Things: Sex and Seniors:

Yeah, not high school seniors, senior citizens. "The Daily Show" segment poked some fun, but as the segment showed there are rising STD rates in the senor citizen population right now. Here's why.
1. Senior citizens are not concerned about pregnancy.
2. Senior citizens often did not get any sort of comprehensive sexual education. (In the "Daily Show" segment, one of the seniors asks if genital warts are really an STD and says he doesn't think they are contagious. Wrong.)
3. Many senior citizens had one partner for so long, they are unaccustomed to having discussions about safe sex with their partners. Or even to ask if they are their partner's only partner right now.
4. Since in the US males tend to die sooner than females, the senior citizen population, particularly in retirement and other senior-based communities, there are significantly less males than females.
5. This does not mean that less female seniors are having sex than male seniors.
6. Many senior citizens are operating under the belief that most of these diseases only happen to other people or, if fatal, probably wouldn't harm them any faster than anything else.
7. Many senior citizens are embarrassed to talk about sex. Leading to them being embarrassed to attend any classes their community might host and to be too embarrassed to discuss safe sex practices with their partners.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Walt Whitman

Most people know Walt Whitman as an American poet. He was born in New York, moved to Washington, DC during the Civil War, he wrote "O Captain! My Captain" (which I bring up since many know it from the climactic scene in "Dead Poet's Society"), and later he moved to New Jersey.
There is a stanza of "The Wound Dresser" carved into the north entrance to the Dupont Metro in DC, a high school in Bethesda, MD and a rest stop in New Jersey. (I'm sure there's a lot more than that, these are off the top of my head.)
Yes, well, apparently the speculation that Walt Whitman may have been gay or bisexual has created an issue. Now, I tend to try very hard to ignore people who I sometimes think try extra hard to be controversial just to be in the spotlight a little more. (Although apparently one of the last times I broke this rule was for a related story a few years ago.) But sometimes things get a bit difficult to ignore.
The congregation where I attend and am also a youth group advisor is in Bethesda. A number of the students attend the Walt Whitman High School.
Apparently, the Westboro Baptist Church has announced that they are planning to protest outside the high school since it it named after a (possibly) gay person. They have apparently announced protests in the past that they didn't actually follow through on. However, the school is ready. They have taken the opportunity to talk about civil rights, and Walt Whitman himself in various classes.
There is also a counter protest planned. And there is a group accepting pledges to raise money for the gay/straight alliance for the length of the protest. (Other local targets past and future include George Mason University for having a Pride Week and Roland Park Country School for performing "The Laramie Project" as their spring play.)
And Chalicechick is finally going to go to a protest (counter though it may be.)
And let's end with this snippet from "Song of Myself":
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Sucker for a Book Contest

Well, you may know that I'm a sucker for a book contest. HelenKay Dimon, Alison Kent, and Jill Shalvis all have current and or upcoming releases. They are offering great prizes to those who help spread the word. (Wait. What am I saying? They are terrible prizes, so don't bother to enter, just go buy the books.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Sign of the Times

I currently have about four bottles of moisturizer in my bathroom. All the same brand. No, I am not particularly worried about facial moisture. However, I had noticed my current bottle was running low. The bottle has a pump top that seems destined to leave a quarter inch in the bottom of the bottle, but I undo the cap and scoop out the remainder. But that's also a good sign to line up the next bottle. Only, when I was in the store I noticed that while the price hadn't changed, the bottle size had - from 4 ounces to 2.5. So, I immediately went across the street and found an old size bottle and bought that too. And I found another at another store. So, now I have four. The moisturizer has sunscreen so there's a limit to how many it makes sense to stock up on. But yes, I am now stockpiling moisturizer as a sign of the economy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

TV and Book Sychronicity

I coincidentally had three stories in my lineup that I read while in or on the way to Vegas that mentioned Vegas. (I did not plan that. Seriously.) Although, now that I've been there, plus having watched all those episodes of "Vegas" as research, people calling it LVPD ticks me off. As much as people calling it DCPD. (It is the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department respectively. Yes, I see how that can be confusing to readers. But not using it ticks off people who know better.)
And, tying in to "Dollhouse" I am partway through a story that involves both Las
Vegas and human trafficking.
And there has been knitting synchronicity since after knitting several patterns with
multi-wrapped stitches, I have now ends up with two patterns that used arrowhead
lace. (Promise, I will work on catching up with knitting blog posts.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Most Things Don't Stay in Vegas

So, I went to Vegas last week.
First time trip and I went with another first timer. We statyed in the MGM Grand (Yes, just days before the ACMs, but no I did not notice anyone famous.) The guidebooks had warned that the first visit (which this was, for me and my friend) is about sensory overload, and subsequent visits can be used for getting a little more out of it all. We also made a side trip to the Grand Canyon, which was as amazing in person at you might hope. We went to the west rim, where the skywalk is, and then to Guano Point where we were assured the best views were. (No, I do not know who decided such things.)
The other days we walked. Walked up and down the strip. In and out of a good portion of the hotels. (Neither of us was much of a gambler so, we each stuck a 20 in a poker machine, had some fun and stopped.) We went to Starbucks a lot. We did a lot of window shopping, and then finally some real shopping. We agreed to listen to a timeshare presentation and were rewarded (upon our escape) with dinner and a show (Trader Vic's - yum and "V: The Variety Show" - funny). We saw the fountain show in front of the Bellagio. We tried out various restaurants in our hotel in particular (the almond crusted lemon chicken at Pearl is everything you could wish for) and we took in the sights.
We hit almost everything we really wanted to and have a good list for next time (Neon Museum, yarn store, more food).