Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arriving Late

I went to see Cowboy Mouth on Friday. As a semi-regular concert goer, I confess I usually time my arrival to be at or near the end of the opening band*. Yes, it sometimes means I miss an intriguing band, but more often than not it means I spend less time on my feet listening to something I am ambivalent about. So, I walked up to the 9:30 Club right as a cab pulled out and a guy with a wheely bag popped out of the cab. I took a closer look since the average concert goer does not bring a wheely bag (although I did see some people with some large purses and backpacks, and I say this as someone who often carries huge bags, even I trim down for a concert). I noticed the guy looked like the lead singer of Cowboy Mouth and even had the name Fred on his jacket. Just as I was thinking, how cool he marched up to three guys standing in front of the club smoking, one of whom was only wearing a thin t-shirt and said, "What are you doing out here? Where's your coat?"
The guy paused and said, "Well, I'm here to see you."
Fred responded, "Hey, don't blame me for you being cold."

*Yes, at larger venues the opening band is often pretty well established, I tend not to go to those as much.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's a Knitter to Do?

Say you're knitting. Maybe Citron. And you're even used the suggested yarn. You get to then last section, look over at your ball and realize you seem to have a lot of yarn. So, you pull out the scale and confirm that yes, you appear to have almost half the ball left. Unable to think of a plan for 200 yards of laceweight, you decide to follow the provided instructions to add a repeat.
Citron 1
And then you get to the end of that and realize, you still have enough for another if you do a smaller final section. So you do. And you measure out the amount you will need to bind off and realize, oops, halfway through that last row that you are now into the amount you need for bind off, and yet, tinking back 300 stitches lasts a certain appeal.
Citron Edge
You might dig around and find some leftover sock yarn that coordinates nicely. (This is where having a lot of yarn in a similar palette helps.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Book Banning You Might Not Expect

So, a school in California has removed a book from the fourth and fifth grade classrooms after concerns were raised that it contained sexually graphic material. The book - the dictionary.
Yes, apparently it was discovered that the word "oral sex" was in the dictionary and the definition states that it is, "oral stimulation of the genitals" (per the linked entry).
Now, I will confess that there was a stage in my life where looking up words about body parts was enough to get me giggling for hours. However, I would argue that the only reason someone would look up oral sex is if they were familiar with the term. (Yes, I suppose an enterprising child might read straight through. If, so they will also discover lots of other words and yay for them.) I think that "oral stimulation of the genitals" is clear without being lascivious and I have to imagine the parents found out because their kids told them which would have been a great opportunity to have a conversation about age appropriate behavior, and sex, which at the very least kids that age should have enough information to combat any misinformation someone tries to give them.
Instead this kid or kids has learned that if you mention the sex word, the book gets taken away. I'm betting they won't mention it again.
PS - I have a Merriam Webster although I'm not particularly brand loyal about dictionaries.
ETA: The dictionary has now been returned and the Toronto Star has five things which is why I like their link best(even if the dictionary is only one of them). Although you will now need parental permission to access the dictionary. Am I the only one reminded of the "Buffy" episode where her mom says takes away the library books concerned that the students might have gotten ideas?

Friday, January 22, 2010


Sunday I attended the Designer Scavenger Hunt at the O Street Mansion. We were divided into groups, and after testing out the delicious food, went on a bit of a wander to find the rooms the instructors were hiding in. (We may have gotten some assistance from a Mansion staffer. But really, we were encouraged to do so, so really, we were being resourceful.)
We got goody bags with yarn (Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Cotton and a baby skein of Miss Babs Yummy Toes Sock) and knitting accoutrement.
Goody Bag 2
(I might have done a little peeking and trading to get a different color of the Miss Babs yarn, not that I didn't also love my original color, but I really wanted to see what chocolate roses looks like knit up.What's that you say? Look on Raverly?)
Some people got Grafton circulars, but those people seemed less interested in trading or had tiny needles. (Again, the cable needles are beautiful, I just figured I might get more use out of circs.  Not that I don't already have many, many circs.)
I was in the Alpaca group and Wendy taught us Judy's Magic Cast on, which I believe lives up to it's name.
Cast On
It is used for socks, although someone else pointed out it would work for top down mittens and it is also employed in this sweater pattern which I am going to someday finish re-knit. Wendy declared us all prodigies. (The instructions on the Knitty link are great, it just happens to be something that tends to make more sense when you can watch the motions rather than reading along as your brain says, "You want me to what?".
Next we went to Tanis who taught us knitting without a cable needle (and also gave us a pattern for a wicked cable I shall have to try out).
Cables 3
After that we went to visit Cate and Courtney who went over provisional cast on (giving us a start on the Springtime Bandit) - we also got mini balls of Terra to play with. 
Springtime Bandit Start
Then we worked on a fair isle pattern and talked about holding two colors at once.
Colorwork 1
We also got a really neat hat pattern I will need to make.
Then last, but not least, Jared talked about tips and tricks for taking better pictures. And easy cheats for the amateur photographer to employ. So, if my pictures get much better, you'll know I listened.  It was a great way to spend a rainy day, in a mansion, with food, yarn and knitters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Farewell, Mr. Parker

Farewell, Mr. Parker
Seeing authors in person, is much like meeting radio personalities.  Or perhaps actors.  They often look a little different, particularly those who have been using the same author photo for twenty years or so. They often have different personalities than one might assume based on their books.  (Obviously some peeks through and all that, the storyteller always impacts the story.)
I discovered the Robert B. Parker Spenser novels after the TV show (which I adored, I also liked the short lived "Hawk" spin off).  I read the books almost entirely out of order, snapping up both used and new as I happened across them. When I finally got a copy of Early Autumn I saw why everyone always raved about it.  I also enjoyed the Sunny Randall stories which occupy a similar version of Boston. 
Years ago, when the DC "Shear Madness" was about to achieve third place in the longest running live theater shows (behind two other "Shear Madnesses") they invited some special guests.  My friend and I went, being "Shear Madness" fans and mystery fans both.  They had a local report and a DC medical examiner playing the parts of - well - local reporter and DC Medical examiner.  And they had Carol Higgins Clark and Robert B. Parker, who in the second act were encouraged to put in a plug for their favorite killer.  (The killer in the show is determined by audience vote.) Carol Higgins Clark was game and stated ehr reasons for believing it was one character.  Robert B. Parker got up and said that, well, he couldn't decide, they all seemed very plausible.  And really, that was much like a Spenser novel where a lot of people seem to have conflicting desires and Spenser keeps poking until someone finally tips the balance. 
So, I am saddened to learn he died at his desk.  Certainly, my thoughts are with Joan, to whom he dedicated almost (if not every) one of his books.
Link from ALOTT5MA

Friday, January 15, 2010

And Now to Get a Bit Lighter

(Yeah, I could just show you yarn. It will happen again. Soon even.)
I saw the link to this over at Do Nothing But Read Day - 10 in '10 Teen Chick Lit Challenge.
I figure it's a good excuse to get through the YA stuff that's been lingering in the TBR pile. While the list is subject to change, right now I expect it to include:
1. Oh my Goth by Gena Showalter
2. Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
3. Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White
4. The Wish by Gail Carson Levine
5. Ninth Key by Meg Cabot
6. My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent
7. Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
(Yes, I do notice a lot of fantasy on there.) I'm sure it'll shift/expand/contract. But that seems like a good start.

Save the Link

For knitters doing great things for Haiti and the world - go here. For authors and readers (not that these groups are at all mutually exclusive) go here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 - The Reading Stats

After freaking out that some really good books sales this year had gotten my tbr pile to never before seen proportions - I like to have enough stashed so that if I had to get through the next few weeks, or even months without hitting a bookstore I could, but what with people releasing new books on a near daily basis, I try not to have, say a year's worth of reading - it turns out while it is still higher than I normally like, it is less than a year's worth. Phew. I know you were worried.
In 2009, I read 127 books. A smidge more than last year, but still not as high as 2007.
Highest reading month was December with 19. Lowest was March with 4. (So, basically, year to year there seems to be no clear trend for high and low reading.)
I read 82 different authors (which matches 2007).
The author I read the most was Nora Roberts (if we include her J.D. Robb self, which I did) at 6.
66 were part of a series.
118 were released this year, making me a new release junkie.
E-books took a much higher percentage this year with 93 being e-books.
Well, now, back to reading...or knitting...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Dear TV Folk

Since I will be "Glee"-less for the next few months (it returns in the spring), I appreciate that "Better Off Ted" is back and "Project Runway", "Burn Notice" and "Chuck" are coming back. That should help. Especially, since Mr. Sepinwall said "Chuck" season 3 is both "fun and awesome".

My NPR Name is...

Taral Benbecula.
This made the top 30 posts for 2009 over on Monkey See.
I still think that "Geeks, Genre, and Why Fantasy Football is just D&D Without Elves" was pretty freaking awesome too. (I recognize awesome and most viewed and most commented are not necessarily overlapping things.)
ETA: link

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Aughts

I feel the need to mention that the Guardian is referring to the decade as the noughties, which makes me giggle quite a bit. I've been using aughts in those rare situations where one feels the need to reference a decade, but apparently there is confirmation that nameless things can exist on.
Also, I used numbers to make it pretty, there is no meaning to the numbers.
1. I joined Facebook. Lots of people did this, I held out for a while, having already seen some social networking sites come and go. I caved and am mostly happier for it even if it has taught me that some of my friends have a different idea of info to post on the web than I do.
2. I began blogging. My sister had suggested this way back in the day, amused by my commentary when I sent her my football picks for the week. (She was getting pummeled in the work pool and decide expert assistance was needed.)
3. I started knitting again. Heh.
4. I joined Ravelry. Ravelry was actually one of the reasons I resisted Facebook since it was already sucking up so much of my time, I hesitated to add something else to the list. The list of things that ravelry has done for me are too great to attempt to squeeze in here.
5. I discovered NaNoWriMo which got me the manuscripts I'm fiddling with and got me to go join RWA and really start working on this writing stuff instead of writing little snippets of things that should go into something someday.
6. I went to two author/reader/writer events and both were amazing and I got my current critique buddies out of cherry con. I also joined the cherries list and discovered the Will Write for Wine Podcasts (which I am behind on again).
7. I bought an Ipod. (Well, two, but really, let's move on from that.) And started reading ebooks and understanding why people might wish to cart around that much music at once and maybe buy a single song instead of a whole album.
8. I entered the DVR generation. This is not much a surprise considering previously I had multiple VCRs set up on a splitter so that I could deal with the inevitable logjam that occurs at least one a week. But the ability to pause and rewind live TV that I had not previously considered worthy of recording is so amazing that it annoys me when I go places where I can't do that. And the ability to stream movies magically there is really making my couch a cool place to hang.
9. I accepted the "need" for cable. My parents did not have cable growing up, we didn't have it in college, so it wasn't until the late nineties where I had roommates who it. I was still pretty much of the it's fun to have but not necessary until two things happened. "Project Runway" and "The Daily Show". Admittedly, "The Daily Show" well precedes the aughts, but I was introduced to it and eventually sucked in in the aughts.
10. I joined my church (which is now a congregation but it was a church when I joined it). And then I got asked to help with the youth group after someone bailed mid-year. And I ended up on a district wide committee and many many cool things happened. Most of which I can't tell you about. But they were cool.
11. I became a telecommuter (which I still have mixed feelings about) and also gave up my car which was related to both that and to...
12. Moving back to DC. (Technically, I did this twice in the aughts.) My intention had always been to make that happen but both times it worked out unexpectedly. I think I'm stuck in the city limits (happily) for a while this time.
Here's hoping the te(e)ns are as interesting.