Wednesday, April 30, 2008 chocolate chip?

So while sweatin' through a sudden heat wave and dining almost exclusively on Ben & Jerry's, I cast on this:

Looks like Mint Chocolate Chip to me! What do you think?

I'm using the Waffle Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks and although you can just see the beginnings in this picture, I think it's doing a great job of breaking up the color runs so it doesn't look to "stripey". (That's a word, right?)

The yarn is A Swell Yarn Shop's Duet sock yarn.  The really neat thing about the Duet yarn is that it's sold as a variegated yarn along with a coordinating solid yarn to use for the heel and toe.  I'm not sure if there's enough of the solid yarn to also use for the cuff, but I thought that would look really cute so I just used the solid for half the cuff and then switched to the variegated.

I had a vague idea how and when to switch to the solid yarn on the heel flap but just be sure I knew what I was doing and to work through the process I quickly did this:

I know, I know.  Altogether now.......Awwwwwwwww.

Okay, moving along. It was definitely a good test and I'm happy I did it.  Because what I hadn't figured out before was how to have the variegated yarn ready to pick up and start with again after the solid brown heel and at what point that would occur.  (This could be important, yes?)

And this little girlie sock experiment won't go to waste.  Sometime over the next few months it'll acquire a little girlie sock mate, and probably a matching little girlie hat.  Which should be perfect for this fall's donation to the annual PLAY craft auction. 

Hmmm...maybe I'll even knit up a little adipose baby to go with it.  It's never to early to get 'em started on the right path!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

H is for Hazardous Waste

Well the point of the ABC-along (as I understood it) was to post photos that had some sort of meaning to the photographer.   In a recent post I mentioned an ongoing project that has me making regular trips to the town's Hazardous Waste Dump. Which is separate from the regular 'ole dump Dump, because this is where for free we can legally dispose of things like televisions, computers, cans of paint, moter oil, batteries, antifreeze, insecticide, and any other nasty scary chemicals. It certainly isn't an attractive place and you won't find this:

in any of the visitor brochures!  Until someone invents the wonder of Smell-O-Vision I can't really share the full errrr..."flavor" of the experience, but trust me, a visit to this location will not be added to any of the scenic or historical tours any time soon.

I emphasized the word "free" because it costs absolutely nothing.  I also emphasized "legally" because that's a big problem here.  With the exception of maybe once a year on Earth Day, I know when you live on the mainland you probably don't spend a whole heck of a lotta time thinking about where your stuff goes when you get rid of it.  It just "goes away", right?  Well, when you live on an island, it really has no where to go. 

It's one thing to deal with our own trash, but when you figure that during the height of the season the population explodes from approximately 3,500 year-round to 10,000 visitors per day - it's a bit much. (Don't 'spose y'all would like to take your vacation trash back home with you?  No?  Just think of it as a special souvenir.) Not too long ago the city incinerated trash.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this wasn't going to be particularly healthy, the pollution and what not that resulted wasn't helping our air quality and again, it really has no where to go. So in an attempt to deal with some of the problem, in 2002 a recycling program was started.  For residences - this has got to be the most easy peasy thing ever - you pick up a big roll of free blue recycling bags at City Hall, fill it with all your recyclables, and put it out with the regular trash pick up.  No sorting of glass from plastic from paper into different colored bins or any of that - it's all sorted at the facility for you. (Yes, businesses have to sort but they have a greater quantity so that seems fair.) It couldn't be easier.  

So why don't more people do it?

Of course besides the traditional "trash" trash, there's all the other stuff I mentioned at the beginning - with nasty hazardous chemicals that you don't want getting into your soil or your water.  There's also the big stuff - old furniture, broken appliances, construction debris - you get the idea.  Despite the fact that the city and it's contracted company provide facilities for disposing of these things and make it as easy as possible, including offering to come and pick up the stuff twice a year for free, illegal dumping is still a huge problem.  

Not long ago I was driving away from a friend's storage container and saw this sign:

You think they're kidding about cameras and prosecuting?  They aren't.  I've been on the receiving end of someone's illegal dumping more than once, and wow did I wish I'd had a camera to catch the little crudballs.  It's just so aggravating!  I have enough of my own crap to get rid of, I don't need someone else's too! And when it happens, you know darn well that it's not out of ignorance.   Yes, this isn't really published in any of the tourism brochures so a casual visitor to the island may not know.  But for residents, the general info on what to do or not do, where to put it, when, what, and how - is readily available.

So I think the answer to my question above and the reason for the illegal dumping is the same.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Passionately Purple Friday

It's Friday and the Purty Purple Rogue Socks are finished:

Aren't they awfully purdy?  They fit perfectly and I just love love love them madly.  I love them with a purple passion! (Sorry, I just had to say that). Wanna take another look?  (I know you do).

Someone else told me that these really aren't proper "first socks" because there's no little hole at the gusset join, the stitch pattern continues onto the foot, and did I mention they fit properly? The theory is that with many things in my life, when I make up my mind to do something, I just go do it and get it done. (Hey, I think I'll quit my corporate job and move to an island!) I decided to knit socks. Therefore - I knit socks. Done deal.

I'm not arguing with that theory in general, but I think I owe some credit to such overwhelming success on this project to:
A) Starting with a pair of baby socks.  Wendee's pattern and mini-skein of yarn in the goodie bag I picked up at the Bobbins Nest party on Stitches weekend was put to good use.  I made all my mistakes on those, ripping back and reknitting rows is so much less painful in only 32 stitches!  I continue to promote the idea of starting with a good baby sock pattern in all the Ravelry sock groups, it's my stock reply whenever someone posts that they want to learn sock knitting, but aren't sure where to start.  (And if you want Wendee's pattern and your own little mini-skein, visit her shop, where she sells it in a very inexpensive little kit!)

B) Having a sock knitting guru.  Seriously.  Which not only means that when I have a sudden question/doubt/panic attack there is someone very close by to render assistance, but that I have been surrounded by socks in various stages of being knitted for the past several years. And these socks have their own special language, of "gussets", "heel flaps", and "toe decreases", just to name a few.  (I know you think I don't pay attention, I do.  It just takes a little while to sink in.) It's not surprising that constant exposure to the world of sock knitting for several years should result in a reasonably well knit pair of first socks.  Don't believe me?  Fine.  Go see for yourself.

So, even though there are other projects hibernating quietly in a bag in the closet, I am very quickly starting another pair of socks.  (Although, I did hear something fall over in there last night. They could be getting restless.)  And I think it's going to use this:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

standard deviation of worm lengths

Just a little fragment from the two-hour exam I took yesterday. Really. 

The problem went something like this: "Tank A has one large worm, two medium worms, and four small worms. Tank B has one large worm, two medium worms, and nine small worms.  If one medium worm is moved from tank A to tank B, how does that affect the standard deviation of worm lengths in tank B?"

It was accompanied by a nifty little diagram, which I have attempted to replicate:

(Of course, my worms are smiling.  The ones on the exam were not and can you blame them?)

The correct answer? Hmmmmmm.  But the true answer?  That's another story.

With the extra space created by the departure of a medium worm, the inhabitants of tank A decided to remodel and convert the space to a home gym.  However, all is not so happy in tank B, where the medium worms have declared that while two is company three is definitely a crowd, and the small worms are suing the tank owner, claiming discrimination on the basis that because they are horizontally challenged, they are not allotted the same amount of space as the of other worms and forced into population dense accommodations.   The large worm has declined to comment at this time but will issue a formal press release after his agent has completed negotiations for his latest book deal, "My Life Behind Glass: A Megadrile's Search for Self".

I hear a major motion picture studio is interested in optioning the story - stay tuned. 

Monday, April 21, 2008

A week in a blink

Sheesh I've slacked off on the blogging.  I can't believe that last post was almost a week ago.  Lo, how far we have fallen since the heady days of NaBloPoMo.

On the one hand I really haven't been getting out and about much lately.  But that would fail as the full excuse, because even when I'm home all day - something's happening.  Less interesting and less photogenic, but something. Cats do cute stuff, various objects are knit on, and life spits out random bits of weirdness.

But a nice long juicy post will have to wait for another day or two. I have to go overtown tomorrow to take a Statistics exam and I'm so thrilled I just wanna hurl.  I'd have to say that and the dental appointment later in the week are just about equal on the joy-meter.

So I'm going to chase the cat around for a bit and then settle down in front of the latest episode of Bones and cast on something to take on the boat tomorrow. ('Cause really, a bad boat ride gets even longer if I don't have something to distract me.)  I'll try to be a good little blogger after I get this stuff behind me, but in the meanwhile, if you haven't already seen it, check out one of my current faves - An Engineer's Guide to Cats.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

hair cells of a guinea pig's cochlea

What I said when someone asked me what I was reading about. (Really.) And seriously, why would you walk up to a complete stranger with their nose stuck in a fat textbook, minding their own business, and ask?  And you at the laundromat - I'm sure I was perfectly polite (which in retrospect may have been a mistake) and completely clear when I said I was trying to study for a midterm exam the following day - so why are you still standing there talking at me about how your family comes over here every year and how much the town has changed?  I don't know you from Gustav Fechner, and quite frankly, I don't give a tiny rat's butt.  (Or even  a guinea pig's butt.) If you'd like to discuss the Gestalt theories of perception - great.  Otherwise, please go away.

Most days I do my schoolwork at home, on the couch in my living room or in good weather, out on my balcony.  But occasionally I grab a book or something and take it with me when I'm going somewhere and think I'll end up with time to kill.  Honestly, I'd much rather be knitting but if I haven't put in that day's allotment of school time, I'm going to feel guilty!  Plus, I've still got so much left to complete, it feels a bit daunting sometimes.  Moving those progress bars across keeps my spirits up and my sanity intact. (And if anyone figures out a way for me to get university credit for knitting - contact me ASAP).

So this takes me and my various subjects of study out into the world where random strangers can be blessed with valuable tidbits of information concerning Vygotsky's theory of learning, how to conjugate "tener", whether David really did snub the papacy or it was all Napoleon's doing, how to find the standard deviation and the variance, and of course, the aforementioned hair cells (of a guinea pig's cochlea).  Mind you, I only share these special nuggets with those brave (or foolish) enough to enquire.  Having been so blessed, these worthy souls depart my presence swiftly, surely with the desire to share their newly acquired knowledge with the world.  That must be it, right?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

G is for Graffiti

On the front corner of my frickin' house.  Can you believe it?  In my town?  And I know that was just some of our local kids thinking that they were being badasses.  We don't have actual "gangs" here.  Heh - can you picture a drive-by in a golf cart? (That any child can outrun.) Or rival gangs holding turf? (In a town that is one square mile.)  Hilarious. But cleaning it up - not so funny.  

The sheriff that responded and took a photo along with the report actually recommended using hairspray to dissolve whatever the little punks had used.  He said that a friend of his owns an arcade, and buys that el cheapo ozone-layer destroying AquaNet stuff by the case to clean the graffiti off the machines.  Sounded crazy but I gave it a shot (actually a spritz) and you know what?  It really works!  I sprayed half with hairspray and then started scrubbing.  The hairspray treated section was coming clean so much faster and easier I stopped and treated the whole thing with several doses of hairspray and then finished scrubbing it clean quickly.

And to clarify - it isn't really MY house, I don't own the blasted thing.  I don't even live in that portion of it.  See the bright blue stairs and white railings on the right?  That's my little back apartment, my little shabby chic seaside cottage with a slice of view.  I've lived there for several years now and along the way inherited the property manager's job. So in return for cleaning up graffiti and other assorted tasks I get a break on my rent that makes it possible for me to live here and afford to do wacky things like say...quit my full-time job and go back to school?

I also inherited a mountain of broken furniture, bits of plumbing, cans of old paint, and plain ole junk.  All stashed in the unfinished storage area/crawlspace under the house by the previous property manager, tenants long gone, and possibly even generations of the owner's family for all I know.  I've been given the go ahead to clear it all out and as much as I'd love to just get rid of it all at once, that would actually cost a fair amount of money - laborers, truck, dump fees - and I know that's not going to sit well with the owner.  So it's sort of an ongoing project, weather and time permitting, and it goes out in bits.  A broken washing machine, microwave, and furniture hauled out for the free bi-annual large item pickup, some lamps and vacuum cleaners to the local thrift shop, and last Saturday, a television to the city's household hazardous waste dump.  It's a nice little drive, up until the last few feet of the road, when you reach the sewage treatment plant!  Please pity the man who works at the hazmat dump when the wind blows in the wrong direction.  And yes, I could have so easily gone with "G for Garbage". But you just don't get the full impact without the smell.

In digging through and hauling out the junk I did find one nifty item:

It's an antique Perfection oil heater. A little googling got me listings for these made as early as 1918. I sent this photo to a guy who deals in restoring these and other antiques and he was able to tell me that it's from the early 1930's, which is about when the house was built.  He also told me that with just a little work, it could be made functional again.  However, in an old building with hyperactive cats, that just doesn't sound like a wise idea to me!  (Ya think?)  Fully cleaned up and restored Perfection oil heaters are selling for decent money on eBay, but the ones in this condition don't seem to sell for even as much as it'd cost me to ship it.  So I think I'll hang onto it.  Actually, scrubbed up a bit, it could make for a perfectly nice looking planter!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sweatin' in the shade

That's a post title meant for August, right?  But last time I checked, this is April.

We were forecasted for a heat wave this week, and when it didn't start on the predicted day, someone who will remain nameless mocked the idea of such a quick change in the temperature for a Santa Ana to occur this weekend.  I believe the weather man now has a couple of words to say on the subject..."neener neener".

'Cause yeah, we are sweatin' in the shade today, same expected tomorrow. Craziness.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The winnah! By a beak!

On Sunday I was walking down Front Street heading towards the mole and saw a much larger than usual crowd of people on South Beach. And suddenly I remembered, it's Ducky Derby Day. Yet another annual Avalon event that the tourists wander by and through with their eyes swiveling every which direction and cameras clicking.

The duckies are set at the beginning of the course and given occasional assistance from the Harbor Patrol to keep the water flowing in the right direction:

Volunteers in kayaks watch for any strays as the duckies continue to travel along the racecourse:

Towards the crowd of people waiting and watching eagerly from the shore

For the first ducky to hit the beach! Can you see him?

Friday, April 4, 2008

To 'splain...

Why I choose comment moderation instead of those fun little random letter combinations. Someone asked me this recently.

No, not that kind. This kind.

It sucks, but I do get it regularly.  And the kind I get would not be prevented by word verification.  What amazes the frack outta me is that I've been blogging for less than a year.  I only started in the beginning of September (blogiversary is 9/5 if you're inclined to mark it on your calender) and as far as I could tell, I was basically talking to myself for the first few weeks.  I didn't get any comments at all until the F-word post.  (Big surprise, eh?) But seriously, less than a year online and you wanna drop your garbage in my comments?  Dudes - I am really not that popular, you are wasting your efforts and if I can take a moment to apply a little Force persuasion...move along.

If the frequency increases or moderating the comments becomes a hassle, I'll explore additional options. But at this point in my life I'm enough of a geek to be on the computer almost every day, sometimes all day.  I've even been known to travel to the mainland early in the morning, run about all day like the Energizer Bunny on crack, head back to the island on the last boat, and after finally arriving home, crawl into bed with my laptop for one quick online fix (email, google reader, ravelry) before passing out.

So I generally see a comment within a few hours and deal with it appropriately.  Real comments get published.  The others?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Purty Purple Progress Report

With only one small, fixable mistake, in the last few days I successfully turned the heel and am now zooming up the foot:

I remember the first time I saw someone try on a sock they were knitting and how hysterically funny and bizarre it looked to see little pink toes sticking out in the middle of a strange framework of dangerously pointy little wooden skewers. Since that time I've seen that same foot, and my own, projecting out from a variety of socks in progress. But this is the first time, the very first time, that I was the one knitting the socks! Huzzah!

Along the way, the sock in progress received a companion:

Simply because I was invited to a potluck dinner party of sorts at a friend's house, and although that wasn't the best timing for starting the heel turn, it seemed like a fine opportunity to get through some of those mindless rounds of cuff and leg ribbing. Not to mention yet another chance to demonstrate just how weird I am to the non-knitters in my world. Surprisingly, the initial reaction when I...ahem, "whipped it out" was very mild. I think this is a good sign - they're coming along nicely. However, this was in a private home with a small circle of friends. Next lesson: "Knitting In Public" or "Yes, We Do Knit in the Local Bar".

(Hint: I already have. But these folks are KIP virgins, so better buckle up, this could get a little bumpy!)