Sunday, November 30, 2008

Curtain call

So how did I do?  Well yes, obviously I succeeded in the goal of posting every day.  And I am proud of that.  But did I actually contribute something worthwhile each day or was I "clogging up the internet for the sake of endurance" to quote the organizer of NaBloPoMo? 

Please keep in mind, I'm not saying videos of cute puppies and kittens aren't worthwhile, 'cause you know me better than that!  I mean, whose day doesn't get better when you add some of these:

(I think some people need 'em more than others and I'm not naming names but you know who you are...hmmm?)

Looking back at last year's NaBloPoMo I think it was easier for me because I was so new to blogging, pretty much anything was potential blog fodder.  Now I have to stop and ask myself, "Did I already talk about that?" or wonder "Does anybody really want to know about that?" You get the idea.

I am quite sure that I will never become one of those people who blog every day of the year.  To those who do - I salute you.  Because my life is just not that darn interesting (at least I don't think so) and any attempt I might make for daily blogging beyond one month would result in being one of those people who blogs about the tiniest minutiae of my days such as what I ate for each meal and when I last washed the dishes. Blehhh.

I think in the long run I'm better off aiming for quality over quantity.  And I think you'll be happier too.  To celebrate successfully completing NaBloPoMo, I might even take a few days off from blogging.  I've got some speed knitting to crank out and a few other tasks this week. So for now, I will take a bow...and exit, stage left.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Do you hulu?

No? Well, why not?  Maybe you just haven't tried it? Or maybe you've never even heard of hulu.

For me, it's not really about the current run television shows, I can watch those when they are broadcast.  Not like I have any scheduling conflicts with my terribly busy social life!  I think the fun is being able to watch shows that have long since gone off the air, even the cheesy ones. 

I know some people don't like watching internet television because they prefer the larger screen of their television set.  I have taken a quick photo to demonstrate why that is not an issue for me: 

Yup!  That is a side by side comparison of my laptop and my television set.  Not much of a difference, eh?  When I moved over to the island I lugged a bigger set across the channel with me, but when it died I wised up and realized that my life was leading towards smaller living spaces so it made sense to downsize my possessions also. Big television set replaced with smaller one, and a few years ago my ancient desktop computer was replaced by a laptop. Now after living in the same tiny apartment for several years I'm finding that I've accumulated an amazing amount of clutter. Definitely need to work on that.

Oh and I bet you can guess how I watch DVDs...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Egg Drop Failure

From today's xkcd:

Did you ever try this?  If you've absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, the egg drop experiment is a popular one for all sorts of science and technical courses, even engineering  or physics. The specific design requirements vary and usually include limitations on size and/or materials, but the main object is to create something that will hold a raw chicken egg and prevent it from breaking when dropped from a height of two or three stories. Obviously the egg represents a fragile entity (such as a human being) within a protecting structure (such as an automobile). Students compete to see whose design keeps the egg intact.  It's not unusual to have no winners and only varying degrees of failure!

I remember doing this project in my high school auto shop class. The only materials we could use to construct our egg holder were large sheets of paper provided by the teacher.  The paper was about ledger-sized and thick, and I think it was the kind we used for making covers for ourtextbooks. I can't remember if we were allowed to use multiple sheets for each design or what restrictions were placed on the use of glue or tape, but I'm sure there must have been some.  Otherwise many of us would have just coated the entire egg in glue or tape! The eggs were dropped from the second level of an outdoor stairway, onto an empty parking lot below.  I don't remember if we had any winners, or even if anyone came close, but as I remember, mine was a particularly spectacular failure and hit the ground with resounding SPLAT!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blessed and so thankful

Traditionally Thanksgiving is a harvest festival and a time to express thanks for the harvest and gratitude in general. Over the years I've been a guest at various holiday celebrations and participated willingly in whatever their traditions were, so I know for many folks it means a huge family gathering, a parade, piles of food, televised football games, and much more. But none of that really registered with me.

For a couple years I took a few extra days off in addition to the holiday and vacationed in Mexico. As Thanksgiving seems to be primarily a U.S. and Canadian holiday, you'd think that the day would pass by unnoticed. But still  - there was always a restaurant somewhere that catered to the American tourists and offered turkey and all the trimmings!

Earlier this week a new friend told me that he was planning to spend the day helping to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter.  His comment caught me by surprise, made me appreciate his charitable heart, and gave me plenty to think about.

Really, I feel so incredibly blessed and on any given day, have so much more than many people out there in the world.  Perhaps that is the best way to show gratitude for what you have - by giving something of yourself to others who have less. Worth considering when searching for your own Thanksgiving traditions.

As I said before, I am blessed and I am thankful for all of it.  But I'm going to borrow someone else's words to express it best:

"I've got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair.
I've got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I've got a car.
I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.
Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I should have brought the Palindrome

Truly, I should have.  But whether it was the really good coffee, or the surprisingly sunny skies, or just fleeting insanity - somehow yesterday morning before I left my apartment I decided that instead of the hat I'd been knitting on for the past few days, the one hour boat trip to the mainland would be the perfect time to work on a project I've been ignoring for quite awhile, one that actually does require focused attention.  Attention and the ability to count your own stitches.  You already see what's coming don't you?  Of course, I managed to screw up the stitch pattern, realized it about halfway across the channel, and then finally in a rare moment of clarity, put it away before screwing it up any further.  I spent the rest of the boat ride staring out the window and listening to the conversation behind me. (What? Like you wouldn't??) Without knitting, boat rides are loooooonnnnnggggg.

After completing my final exam (two mind boggling hours of which we shall not discuss) I headed over to the Big Box Office Supply Store for my most important purchase of the entire trip - paper.  Yes, that's right, while on the mainland I bought an entire ream of paper to lug all the way home. Because...wait you need to swallow any liquids and sit down for this...ready??? It would cost me over $11 to buy it at my local office supply store. Seriously.  I know, for that much money you'd expect the paper to be gold-edged or something, right?

Then I visited the Big Box Craft Supply Store, (not going back in there between now and Christmas!) which along with every possible holiday craft item under the sun and and potpourri that makes me sneeze, sells very inexpensive yarn.  And that is where I purchased a couple skeins of this:

The same Red Heart sock yarn I've used in the past for my Fabulous Fake Isle Socks, in a different colorway.  I really enjoyed knitting those, the patterning was nice and they turned out to be a great pair of socks. Since simple stockinette socks appear to be what I need right now, then why fight it? I cast on later that afternoon and did the first two rounds, knitted away happily in the dim light of the boat ride home last night, and by this morning:

A good start on what I believe I shall dub the "Attack of teh Stupids" socks. I expect these are going to go quickly and just in case, I also purchased another self-patterning yarn:

I've never tried Patons Kroy before but I've heard good things about it.  And I think this colorway, "Denim", will knit up into a very practical pair of socks.  Both of these yarns were purchased for less than a single skein of some of the lovely handpainted sock yarns I find myself admiring and now I have sock yarn to knit with for the next couple weeks, which should keep me from doing sad and unfortunate things to those pricier yarns already in my stash!

Of course, no mainland excursion is complete without one last stop, at one of my favorite places. Someone else can have the champagne dreams and caviar wishes...I just want all this:

Fresh salads, sushi rolls, pastas and my beloved stinky cheeses!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Away for the day

On the mainland taking my statistics final and then cruising the aisles of Office Depot, Target, and Trader Joe's.  Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it.  But I thought I'd leave you someone to keep you company while I'm gone:

Monday, November 24, 2008

When the big box is better

I want to support small business owners, truly I do.  I will go awfully far out of my way to purchase a product from an individual instead of a massive corporation.  I will put up with occasional inconveniences or shortages because in the long run, I believe it's worth it and the right thing to do.  But I have my limits.

If you truly want me as a customer, you're going to have to meet me at least part of the way.  I accept the fact that it costs you a bit more to get your product over to the island and this increases your overhead so when I buy it from you I may have to pay a little bit more. But not THAT much more.  I accept the fact that it is cheaper and easier for you to have your relatives mind the store instead of hiring and training someone properly so it may take a bit longer for my transaction to be processed. But not THAT much longer. I accept the fact that it is winter and with decreasing visitor traffic you will also cut back your schedule so that your store is open less hours.  But not THAT much less.

So tomorrow while I am on the mainland I will visit some of those big box stores that other folks take for granted.  I will walk in and pay a reasonable, real world price for my office supplies, clothes, yarn, food, whatever.  I expect that the stores will be clean, well-lit, and organized and if I cannot locate what I want, a helpful salesperson will direct me and answer any questions I might have about the product they are selling.  I am also sure that all of the stores I wish to visit will be open on a weekday between the hours of 10am and 5pm.  

You may think that I have high expectations, but truly -- I am an amazingly low maintenance customer. After ten years in this place I have learned to make do and do without so routinely it's a matter of habit. It actually doesn't take much to make me happy.  Like I said before, I'll do my part of keeping you in business -- you just gotta be willing to do yours.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I got nothin'

Truly.  I appear to be going through a troubling phase, one that is particularly notable for its shortage of functioning brain cells.  I don't think it has anything to do with NaBloPoMo and the pressure of daily posting, but I do think that the need to post every day has pointed out the problem and made it darn near impossible to hide.

I think this phase has more to do with the head cold I struggled with, studying for exams, and only leaving my home for the absolute essentials (mail, groceries, etc.).  It's entirely possible that the first two may have led to the third, but I'm willing to admit that my own sheer laziness is also to blame.  And obviously if I don't get my butt up and out of the house, there's a limit to the available blog material! How much do you really want to know about the tiny details of my life? Not that much!

But I wasn't kidding about my brain dead status.  It's even bled over into the knitting.  I still haven't frogged those bee-yoo-tee-full blue socks that had me swearing a blue streak, simply because I would need to focus attention on how tight they are, how much more ease is needed, and how to accomplish that while still maintaining the pattern.  The other socks in progress already showed themselves to require more attention to their stitch pattern than expected, clearly now is not the time to renew our acquaintance. But it seems odd not to have a sock project to work on, especially with an upcoming trip to the mainland.  One round trip boat is at least two hours of knitting time, even more if you include time spent just waiting to get on the boat. There's nothing I can do about it now, obviously I'll be knitting on my Palindrome hat this trip.  But while I'm over there I might just see if I can pick up another skein of self-patterning yarn.  Because I really like how well the last pair turned out and if there was ever a time for simple stockinette socks, this is it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Better statistics, better beer

I'm sure I've spent enough time ranting about my statistics course. Please keep in mind, I'm only taking the blasted class because I have to, it's a requirement, not an elective.  But that's not to say that the subject doesn't have its place in the world, and I thought perhaps the following info might be of interest to Didi or any others struggling through a basic stats course!

Did you know that the t distribution and the t inference procedures were both invented by  a man named William S. Gossett? Gossett studied chemistry and mathematics at New College, Oxford, and after graduation went to work for Guinness in Dublin, where he focused his attention on using statistical methods to find the very best varieties of barley and hopps for Guinness to use in their product. Along the way, he worked with a mathematician named Karl Pearson, who didn't really see the point of Gossett's work, but was willing to help him anyway!

Someone else at Guinness had previously published a paper containing trade secrets of the Guinness brewery so to stop any more disclosure of confidential information Guinness prohibited its employees from publishing any more papers. So when Gossett published his statistical theories he used the pseudonym "Student" so he wouldn't get in trouble. That's why his discovery is known as "Student's t-distribution". Gossett shared his work with an English statistician and geneticist, R.A. Fisher, who appreciated it and followed by developing the t-statistic and the application of t-distribution to regression.  As a result of his statistical work, Gossett was promoted to Head Brewer of a brand new Guinness brewery in London.

What does this mean to you? Well you probably still have to learn what a t-distribution is, along with the t-statistic, degrees of freedom, and t confidence interval. But maybe if you pour yourself a nice pint of Guinness it'll go down a little easier!

I'll end here with an end of the day Saturday Sky:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Apparently E is the new F?

I am so close to being done with my statistics class I can practically taste it.  (Mmmm....savory and sweet.) I take my final exam on Tuesday at my favorite testing center. (The one where they are friendly and mellow.) If it seems to you like it's taken me forever and a day to complete this class - - you're right.  If I had it to do over again of course I'd do it differently, and be done before now.

The course has three midterm exams AND a cumulative final (sick and twisted, that) and each one of the midterms has two sections, 1) the classic "multiple guess" questions and 2) the ever popular "show your work" questions. Section 1 should be a slamdunk except that these folks are terribly fond of using very tricksy wording s0 that what seems like the correct answer sometimes isn't. When I first enrolled in the course the school's policy was that you could take the two sections separately, on different days, which sounded great to me.  Take the first half, see how you did, study more where you were weak, and then take the other half.  Marvelous!  Unfortunately, between the time I started the course and the time I requested the first exam, the school decided to change this policy. Without informing anyone currently enrolled in the course.  Nice, eh?

Yes, they should have told us.  And yes, if they wanted to change the policy they also should have grandfathered the students already enrolled and applied the new rules to anyone enrolling after that date.  Like many distance education courses, this one is open enrollment, not semester based, so it would be tricky but not impossible.  And this is not a small college, this is a major university, one that certainly has the resources to accomplish such a task.  My panic button on the whole issue was that now instead of taking two smaller one-hour exams, I would now be taking a huge two-hour exam.  I can and do get A's on all the assignments but that's a whole heck of a lotta test to swallow in one sitting. And I have to say, with this material after the first 60 minutes I'm cross-eyed and by 90 minutes my brain cells start to dribble out my ears so two whole hours?  Aaaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhh!!!!!!!!

Anyway, on the first exam I got a B on the multiple guess portion, and a C on the other part. Perfectly acceptable.  Then on the second exam I only scored a C on the first section (did I mention the tricksy wording?) but earned an A on the other part!  And not just any old A, a bright shiny 100% A!  Which I would think supports my theory that the questions and potential answers are poorly worded, because when it came to the part of the test where I had to show all the computations to arrive at the correct answer, obviously I knew my stuff, right?

Here's something to consider though - the first part of each exam is worth 16% of my overall course grade.  But the second portion is only worth 1%.  So no matter how pretty that A is, it's really more practical to focus your attention on the craptastically worded questions and answers.  So that was my strategy for the third exam, and I knew when I turned in my completed exam that I had kind of taken a dive on the second half of the exam, but I figured it was worth it in order to do well on the first half since it counted for more.

About a week after completing that last midterm exam I logged in to check my grades and saw that it was posted as B+/E. I thought, "okay, great to get the B, that's what I wanted, but what the hell is E?" So I looked at the instructor's grading scale on the syllabus and realized that in fact, "E" means "fail".  Okay, no problemo - it's only 1% of my overall grade and averaged in with all the assignments and exams it will have very little impact so I really don't care.  I'm guessing in a more traditional classroom environment an instructor might take notice of a perfect score followed by a failing grade and contact the student to enquire if perhaps the student passed out halfway through? But I know that in distance education the individual students are a 1,000 times more nameless and faceless than in the largest lecture halls, so I don't expect that. The part that surprised me was that although of course I know that alphabetically "E" is the letter after "D", in any schooling I've gone through in the past, "F" is used to signify "fail".  Apparently that has changed?  Or is it just this one wacky university. Perhaps E is more Educated? Please, do Enlighten me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The day after tomorrow

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is sponsoring the 10th annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, which provides an opportunity for those who have lost someone to suicide to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment. Linking simultaneous local survivor conferences around the country and internationally through a broadcast from 1:00-2:30 pm EST, National Survivors of Suicide Day helps survivors express and understand the powerful emotions they experience, and connect with others who have survived the tragedy of losing someone to suicide.

In May of 2007 someone important to me chose to take his own life and in the time since then I have learned a great deal. While suicide is often referred to as a permanent solution to a temporary problem, I have come to understand that he was incapable of seeing the problem as temporary, and that he truly thought he was doing the right thing, not just for himself, but for everyone.

This is what else I've learned:
  • Over 32,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
  • Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States. An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. 
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • Every day, approximately 80 Americans take their own life, and 1,500 more attempt to do so.
Those are just some of the stats. What they don't tell you is that the loss of a loved one to suicide is very different than any other loss. I can't explain how or why, it just is. If you've experienced it, you know, and if you have not, I pray you never do. What I have also learned is that each person's grief is different, and as individual as their loss. We deal with it in our own way and on our own time - it just takes whatever it takes.

To find out more about this year's program and register to watch the webcast on Saturday, please go here. Created by U.S. Senate resolution and always held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, National Survivors of Suicide Day is part of a growing movement towards educating the public about suicide and its aftermath. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doritos + Cat Yodeling = Win!

Most people know me well enough to know that my interest in Super Bowl weekend is limited to watching Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. That, plus the Kitty Half Time Show, usually does it for me.

This year, Doritos has put together a contest offering folks a chance to have their commercial aired during the Super Bowl.  Contestants upload their videos which are available for viewing for a few months, and then in early January the five finalist videos will be posted for public voting. 

And still you ask - why do I care?  Because our favorite cat-hair covered engineer has chosen to give it a shot! I'll let him tell you:

As Paul recently mentioned, his video is doing fairly well, it's even ahead of a video that shows just boobs. (And the idea that we might actually live in a world where cat yodeling gets more attention than boobs just cracks me up.) But every person that watches his video helps!

So to see this award-winning cinematic triumph, go here. And if you are completely unfamiliar with the wonder that is cat yodeling and thinking, "who the hell is this guy in the red shirt and what's the deal with the cats?", then please check out An Engineer's Guide to Cats!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Palindrome Prescription

The beeyooteefull blue socks that made me swear a blue streak are still on a time-out.  I have not yet worked up the strength to frog them.  I just don't have it in me to start a completely different pair of socks either.  As a remedy to heal my broken knitter's heart, I have returned to my first love -- hats.

This makes perfect sense.  Hats are good, hats are my friend. And with as much hair as I have, occasionally my savior.  I still have plenty of hat patterns in my Ravelry queue, added back in the days before the sock knitting bug bit me in the ass. After checking the list, I decided to give the Palindrome Hat a shot.  I have plenty of hat-knitting yarn in my stash too, so I rummaged around and found this:

Amore from Lulu's Yarns in the Caterina colorway.  It's a single-ply worsted weight handpainted wool I picked up at Stitches West earlier this year. Since I'm starting to plan for next year's trip to Stitches West, it seems like a darn good idea to use up some of the yarn that's been marinating in the stash since that event.

I cast on and in no time flat had the respectable beginnings of a very pretty hat:

It's a blissfully simple pattern, perfect for the overworked brain swimming with statistical facts & formulas.  The cables get lost in this but I really don't care, I think they'll just provide texture and thickness to set the brim off from the rest of the hat. The colorway is great, it appears mostly pink/red but has a rainbow of other colors mixed in:

What's not to love about that?  

Of course, knitting with worsted weight wool while the temperatures are still in the 80's is certainly an interesting and perhaps not the most practical thing to do.  I'm sure making hats with cotton or cotton blend yarns would be much more enjoyable and appropriate, but I don't have any on hand. (Note to self for future stash enhancement - consider more variety in fiber.)  However, with the way the weather is going this winter, the odds that I will every get to wear this hat are not good.  So "practical" is basically going out the window here, it's really just all about making me feel better!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am NOT fat!

First of all - that is a horrid, misleading picture. Just taking the photograph is bad enough, but posting it on the internet? Truly unthinkable! Who do you think you are - one those nasty paparazzi that sneak up and grab the most unflattering shot possible and sell it to the highest bidder? I have already been in touch with both PETA and IDA, their legal representatives will be contacting you shortly.

Second - I do not know what that woman was thinking, greeting me with the words, "Hi there fat kitty!" Besides the obvious pot calling kettle black issue, that was most rude and unmannerly, clearly she is completely wack-a-doodle. This only serves to reinforce my belief that strangers cannot be trusted and should not be allowed on the property. I expect your cooperation in this matter.

I am not amused. There will be consequences.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Imagine a day without them

A few years ago I joined a friend in watching the movie "A Day Without A Mexican". The basic story is that suddenly, everyone of Hispanic background in the state of California disappears. A hilarious satire, the film sharply illustrates how strongly Hispanics are woven into the fabric of society, while poking fun at many long-held stereotypes. I don't know if some if it may be lost on folks in other parts of the country, but it's definitely worth checking out.

I thought of the movie yesterday when I first heard about the plans for an upcoming protest against the passing of Proposition 8.  Wednesday, December 10, 2008 has been declared "Day Without A Gay", when gays and their allies are encouraged to "call in gay" to protest passage of anti-gay constitutional amendments.  Instead, protesters are encouraged to spend the day volunteering for local gay and civil rights organizations across the country. Along with not showing up for work or school, it's also been suggested that protesters could refrain from making any purchases that day, as the event is designed to show the impact the gay community has on the economy. 

Lastly, I think this video has pretty much made the rounds, I've seen it on two blogs in the past week and I know it's a top play on YouTube. But it's really the best I've heard yet that fully expresses my feelings on the subject and I'm happy to share. So just in case you missed it:

Yeah, what he said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Strange Hazy Saturday Sky

I'm guessing this is a result of all the fires on the mainland.  I know what's going on, I see the news broadcasts and it's the top story on many news sites.  But I don't go searching for more detailed information, and what little I do see I try to pass by quickly.

It's not that I'm cold-hearted or unsympathetic, it's just that sometimes when I read the stories and see the pictures my stomach starts to churn and my throat tightens and I remember when it was us. And I'd really rather not.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sock Knitter Blues

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm really focused right now on trying to knit from my stash, and I only buy yarn when I have a specific project for it.  So when my love for the current sock in progress waned, I decided it would be a good idea to cast on a new sock, something that would be practical, and knit up quickly.

I dove into the stash and came up with this:

Hazel Knits sock yarn in the Denim Blues colorway.  Ever so practical for my lifestyle of blue jeans and sweats.

I set up my beloved Tilta Swift:

(Please note process properly supervised.)

Wound up the yarn and launched into what I thought would be the most marvelous sock.

It was an absolute joy to knit, the stitches just seemed to fly off the needles.  After the cuff and first few inches of the leg I tried it on and raved over its beauty and perfection. I noticed that it was a tad snug, but no more so than many of my other socks. (You see what's coming don't you?) Before knitting the heel flap I even pulled out another set of size 2 dpns and cast on the leg of sock #2, so I could have it just a section behind sock #1 and finish them close together. (The dueling dpns approach to avoiding second sock syndrome.)

I used a different heel stitch on the flap than I've used in the past, and it flowed so well with the pattern.  Then I turned the heel, knit a few rounds of the foot, put the stitches on waste yarn and tried it on to see how many inches/rounds until the toe. 

The ever lovin' thing didn't fit! (#$C@%&%!!! #@$%&#@!!!! #%&@#!!!)

It was way too tight. I have not yet frogged the beautiful blue socks in progress.  I just don't have it in me right now.  They have been stuffed into a bag in the closet, in another week or so I will pull them out and do what must be done.  I know the pattern I had in mind for them can still be used, it just needs a bit of tweaking to make it work. I can do that.  Just not right now.

But I figured something out.  Remember that Alki Reflections colorway that gave me so much trouble?  It took me three tries to find a pattern that suited that bad boy.  I admit, in the end it was totally worth the effort and I love the socks that resulted.  But here's the kicker - I ordered the Denim Blues colorway at the same time as the Alki Reflections. They were traveling companions. So I think we know who's to blame here don't we?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nothing to sneeze at...

in this house that has not already been sneezed upon in the last few days. Seriously.
I have sneezed:
  • in the shower (no biggie)
  • on a sink full of dirty dishes (again, no biggie)
  • on a drainer full of clean dishes (dammit!)
  • in bed (naturally)
  • on my Statistics notes (significantly)
  • on one of my Ethics textbooks (morally)
  • on my knitting (more on that tomorrow)
  • and on the cat (mrrroowww!!)
On that last one, I can sort of see why she'd be so indignant - if I had to use my tongue to clean myself then I suppose suddenly being showered with people germs would be offensive.  But when you factor in that this is a critter who regularly licks her own butt -- well, kinda hard to understand where she gets off being so freaking fastidious, isn't it?

While I've been staggering around swilling tea and scattering snotty kleenexes (pretty picture, eh?) the grade for the Spanish midterm I took a few weeks ago was finally posted. Much to my surprise I got a B+.  Apparently I do not suck at learning languages as much as I thought.  Or perhaps the combination of vacation vocabulary acquired from trips to Mexico ("Un vino tinto por favor!") and useful work-related phrases acquired from previous co-workers ("¿Usted quiere la mantequilla en eso?") finally added up to something useful.  Either way, it's very encouraging and certainly nothing to sneeze at!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hauling out the big guns

First of all - thanks for all the well wishes and support! I'm still struggling with this heinous head cold and while I get a few clear, lucid moments each day - this ain't one of them.  My nefarious plan, (using a basket of kittens to distract you from a lack of any actual content in the post), worked so well I'm tempted to try again.  But this time I think I better get serious and haul out the big guns.

So I give you -- puppies!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No eggs for you!

And the bread section ain't lookin' much better. But of course the beer coolers are fully stocked.

I took that shot earlier this week and to anyone familiar with our local grocery store it's a familiar sight. I'm sure those bright red sale price tags decorating the edges of the empty shelves might lead you to believe that they had just experienced a massive clearance sale or perhaps a swarm of grocery locusts? Neither is true.  Actually, they just upgraded all the equipment in the refrigerated sections, which as you might expect was accomplished during the night while the store was closed.  You might also expect there to be food on those shelves when the store re-opened the next day.  Or perhaps the day after that.  Or maybe even two days later? Or...?

Apparently even though this was a planned upgrade someone forgot to complete the last part of the plan. The part where the store that sells food has food to sell. This would be funny if it wasn't such a frequent occurrence.

It is not uncommon for our grocery store, which is part of a major chain, to simply not have certain items for a few days at a time.  I know it's a small store, and they face challenges that the mainland stores never have to consider, I take that into account.  I don't expect them to carry the variety of foodstuffs and delicacies available in large mainland stores.  But it just stumps me how they can run short of the most basic items.  Things that everyone uses. You know, staples like bread, milk, and oh yeah...eggs.

But like I said, the beer cooler is full.  Priorities I guess.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I thig I hab a code id by node

It sucks but on the degree of suckage I'm only giving it about a 5. Because while the timing isn't great, it really could be so much worse.  I'm on a break in between one exam and the next so coming down with a crappy cold at the beginning of this week means that by the time I'm ready to head back overtown and take the dreaded statistics final I'll be back to normal.

But I'm seriously phoning it in on today's post.  I should have done it earlier while I still had two brain cells I could line up next to each other. It's too late now - I just need to slurp down some Top Ramen, take a couple Nyquil and toddle off to bed early tonight.

So here's my suggestion - - take two of these and call me in the morning.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A year and a half later

I've been thinking about this over the weekend and trying to decide if I was going to write about it or not - but it's in my head and I figure, what else is the blog for if not that?

For a while after B. died I attended a survivor's group meeting.  It met twice a month, in a room at a very well-known church on the mainland.  It really helped, because I was still working during those months and had to spend most of my days keeping my grief bottled up.  Those meetings gave me a chance to release those feelings, and to learn that seemingly crazy thoughts bouncing around in my brain were actually normal under the circumstances.  Those meetings bring together complete strangers, all of whom have absolutely nothing in common except for the one horrible thing they all have in common. A room full of strangers sharing incredibly personal experiences, including details they would speak of nowhere else. And that his death led to me attend meetings in a room full of strangers with only one thing in common, where my turn in speaking began with the words, "Hi my name is..."? Well, let's just say the irony is not lost on me. He would have appreciated it too.

Like I said, I went for a while and then one day - I just decided I didn't want to go anymore.  It felt like it was hurting more than helping at that point.  As I had attended several meetings already and shared my story numerous times, others were arriving with their new grief still fresh and raw, and their stories were like ripping the scab off a healing wound. I couldn't help them, I was still to busy learning how to help myself and that needed to be my focus.  No big deal on leaving the group, I was told at the beginning that some people come almost every time, others just show up on key dates (birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc.), and some just stop when they decide they are ready. Like me.

On Friday morning, the leader of the group called me. Now, it's been more than one calendar year since I last attended a meeting and I haven't spoken to her or anyone from the group in all that time. So what do you think she was calling about?  Maybe to ask how I was doing?  Or to tell me that after so many years the meeting location was changing?  Or perhaps there was some sort of special program that she thought I'd be interested in?

No.  She had promised her 17 year old that she would send her over to Catalina for her birthday weekend, and just found out that no hotel or other lodging would rent a room to a minor.  So she was looking for my help in finding a way to make that happen. Nice, eh?

Okay - first I'm going to ask - do hotels where you live, reputable hotels, rent rooms to minors?  I just gotta know.  Because here it's part of our city code, but in general I've never heard of a place willing (or stupid enough) to do that.  Second, our city code also includes a curfew, so if your minor child is out on the streets without you after a certain time of night he or she will end up inhabiting a corner of the police department instead of a hotel room.  Third, and to my mind the most important - this ain't summer camp.  It's a town.  On an island. Inhabited by the same general assortment of personalities you find in any other town, PLUS a few hundred or so tourists in various stages of inebriation and up to whatever hijinks result.  I mean, would you send your 17 year old to Vegas for the weekend???

The message that was left on my machine suggested not to bother calling back unless I had some assistance to offer, so obviously I did not call, nor will I in the future. 

The timing was...."interesting" to say the least. This weekend, today in fact, marks exactly one and half years since he died. 18 months, 78 weeks, 547 days, 13,148 hours, 788,923 minutes, and counting.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Socks in the sun

I am very careful with my growing collection of hand-knit socks so all of them, even the ones made from yarns considered to be machine washable, get a nice gentle soak in a basin full of lavender baby shampoo suds and then hung up to dry.

This time of the year I only get sunlight on the ends of my balcony, so in the morning I can hang my freshly washed socks up in one corner:

Where they helpfully drip onto the plants and get to enjoy the ocean view at the same time.

Then a few hours later, when they are done dripping and angle of the sun has changed so that area is in the shade, I shift them over to the other end of the balcony.

And much later in the afternoon, I went outside to take my nice dry socks down and found this:

All together now...Awwwww, that's so cute! 

Of course - I had to wait to put away the socks, I mean, what kind of heartless person could disturb that perfect scene?

I'm going to end this post with an end of the day Saturday Sky:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sweet Summer Day

What do you mean it's not summer?

Of course I know it's November, but how else do you explain this:


All right then, we'll just agree to disagree.  But while I'm thinking of it, do you remember back in June when I told you about the part-time summer work I'd picked up?

Spending several weeks as an extra on a television shoot was interesting (and profitable).  If I lived on the mainland I'm sure I'd have considered spending the money to join SAG (I'm eligible now) and continue trying to get background work.  It'd be a great little source of income while I'm still in school. But here on the island there really aren't many opportunities for that sort of thing so it just isn't worth pursuing.

The television show still hasn't been picked up, but you can read about it here, and even watch a little trailer clip.  Something to keep in mind - the version of the island you are seeing is the one they created for television.  In other words, it's the right place but they've rearranged, dressed up, or just completely made things up.  But it's still fun to watch.  And yes, even in that tiny trailer I can find myself.  It's not easy though and I expect that even people who have met me in the real world won't be able to spot me in the crowd.  Feel free to give it your best shot!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

There are no words left

on this subject that others have not already said before me and so very well that I will refer you to them. Faith was very clear and logical including a guest post on Shakesville. Didi shared her thoughts on this issue and some excellent links.

As for me?  All I can come up with is:


For what it's worth, I am very pleased about the outcome of the presidential election and animal lover that I am, the passing of Proposition 2 makes me very happy also.
But...Proposition 8 is an attempt to amend the California Constitution to include discrimination, to deny rights.

It's wrong, people.  Just plain wrong.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Got my #2 pencil!

I'm headed over to the mainland today for a statistics exam. Prayer would not be inappropriate, and of course, to the deity of your preference. (And before you ask - yes, this time I did remember my calculator, thankyouverymuch.) This is my next to last exam in that course and I am so ready to be done with it.

If you haven't heard of the webcomic xkcd, it's worth checking out. Here's a recent selection - and the timing just so oddly appropriate for me!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

V is for Vote

Did you?  Of course you did! But if not - if you're on the west coast there's still a couple more hours.  So get thee to the polls!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prop 8 - on the night before

It's been interesting to watch as information about Proposition 8 travels around the blogosphere.  I'm not sure at what point it hit that critical tipping point, that moment when it transformed from just an item on the ballot of a California voter to an unimaginably enormous internet-wide collective WTF???

But it has, and I think that's a good thing.  It's a grand power the interwebs has, to connect people and allow them to share the information that affects their lives, and most particularly to impress upon them that it does affect their lives.  Whether they be gay or straight, single or married, residing in California or any other state.  Whoever you are, wherever you are - this is important, and when you are voting tomorrow, you have responsibility to make an educated decision. Not one that is based on television ads, or telephone calls, or signs decorating the lawns in your neighborhood. Know the facts before you head for the polls - that's all I ask.

You hear Proposition 8 described in so many ways - divisive, intolerant, discriminatory - but I think what strikes me the most about this particular issue, what circles around in the back of my brain, is that in this great big scary world of ours it is already hard enough to find someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, someone that you are willing to look straight in the eye and utter the words. "til death do us part".  (All the single folks are now nodding their heads - can I get an "amen"?)  I'll admit to a lack of personal experience on this subject, but marriage to me has always seemed like such an amazing leap of faith, somewhat akin to doing a bare-ass naked flying cannonball into the ocean on a moonless night. So if any two people have the guts to give that a shot, to make that jump together, for the love of little green turtles and all other creatures great and small under the sun - who cares whether or not they are the same gender?  Can't you just applaud their extraordinary bravery? I know I can.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wanna give some numbers for your noggin?

Here I go again - asking you to do something.  When all you want is a bit of light entertainment.

Designer Wooly Wormhead as taken on the formidable job of compiling a new, more accurate version of standard hat sizing.  There are websites out there that give examples of what small, medium, or large sizes should be, but many knitters (and crocheters) don't find them to be particularly accurate.  I've personally knit a few hat patterns that left me scratching my head in wonderment at whether the designer perhaps thought "small" meant "baby" or "large" meant "if you were planning to felt it".  So I can definitely support this particular endeavor!

But even if you don't knit or crochet, you might know someone who does.  Someone who at this very moment may be crafting a hat for you.  In which case - you certainly want to ensure that you get something that fits, don't you?

All it takes is a few minutes, a measuring tape, and a quick trip over here.  Thanks!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And so it begins...

National Blog Posting Month 2008

Think I can do it again this year?  I don't know, but I'm certainly going to try. I could use your help though.

Here's what you can do - leave me a comment.  Really, that's all I need.  Just a quick "hello", or a "nice photo", or even "I don't like that color" - whatever.  Just something to let me know that I'm not just talking to myself here.  I know you're out there, and I know you're reading, the site stats tell me so. But even if your general preference is to lurk and move on anonymously - please, for one month - help me out a little.

What I can do for you?  Well, I can't promise that every post this month is going to be chock full of scintillating content.  But I will do the best I can every day. That's all I can promise - my best.  Hope that's enough!

To close - today's Saturday Sky: