Friday, April 28, 2006

Look! It's sleeves!

I tried to take a picture of the back and two fronts of Storm, but...well, you know, crummy camera. I realized, after I took the picture, that I had knit a couple of extra rows on the right sleeve, which is why they look uneven. That is a big advantage to knitting a pattern like this one, where you are adding pattern stitches in every few rows: you can see pretty quickly that one sleeve got a new pattern stitch and the other didn't. With stockinette or garter, I might have finished the sleeves and then found out one was shorter than the other.

Spam #4

This is the funniest yet:

From Lamont Hawk. Re: Your family, plague (is Lamont informing me of my family's plague, wishing a plague upon it?)
Message: the question aside. "We're on some planet, obviously, with a green sky. and It was, for him, as though the rock were a giant hard door into ordinary experience, and now, the special student of the Elder Himself, he through. I kept walking with my eye...


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Finished Philosopher's Sweater

It's done!! I'm planning on writing up instructions on how to finish this stupid thing, but for now, let me make one suggestion: do not use a plate to measure the neckline. It's a bad idea. Don't ask me how I know.

The Carrot

The Carrot and I met in 1987 (right?). I had transferred from the smaller University down the road to the University of Michigan (obstensibly because I wanted to major in French and there would be more classes available. I dropped the only French class I took at U of M and majored in History. 20th Century American History.) I was (and am) pretty shy, and while I didn't mind being invisible, all of my high school friends were gone. I don't make friends easily. My dad suggested I sign onto MeetStudents, which was a pre-internet message board. It was very cool in a nerdy kind of way. Carrot went by the monkier "Flaming Carrot" (anyone know, other than the man himself, know what the name comes from?) We met in person at a face-to-face sometime in the late fall. We became friends later, after another friend I met that day set up a much smaller message board, which included Carrot, me and 5 or 6 others.

We bonded. He was in the Engineering School (about to graduate, actually) and none too happy about it, and crashing with his friends M & R. The summer of 1988 we moved into a house on Catherine St. He had graduated, gotten a job and most importantly....a new car. A white Escort. I will never. ever. forget the sight of the Carrot rolling around on the hood of that Escort.

The summer of 1988 was HOT. Miserably hot. We sat around, watched MTV and tried not to melt. It was the best time of my life. Meeting and falling in love with Len has been great, but nothing compares to being 20 years old, with my only responsibility being a part time job (at Kinkos, I loved that job), hanging out with cool people in a crappy, really messy house, eating Raman noodles. Life was more complicated before that summer and got a lot more complicated after.

I lied. Instead of the Top Ten of 1987, in honor of that summer you get 1988:

1. Faith, George Michael Is it possible for George to be any hotter than in this video? I didn't think so.
2. Need You Tonight, INXS I always found INXS boring. This is no exception.
3. Got My Mind Set On You, George Harrison Maybe not his best offering, but better than anything else on this list.
4. Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley I'm happy to report that while I remember what Rick Astely looks like, I don't remember this song at all.
5. Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns N' Roses I hate pretty much everything else GnR ever did, but this song was played so much that summer, it's hard to hate it. Same with Def Leppard.
6. So Emotional, Whitney Houston Don't remember it, thank god.
7. Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle Wasn't she better with the Go-Gos?
8. Could've Been, Tiffany See #4, except I don't remember what she looked like.
9. Hands To Heaven, Breathe No idea. At all.
10. Roll With It, Steve Winwood I hadn't yet been introduced to the 1960's era Steve Winwood, so this didn't destroy any deeply held ideas about how he should have sounded. Had I known about "Can't Find My Way Home", I might have hated this song. I do think his voice mellowed nicely, though.

As an aside, I looked at the Top 10 from 2005, I didn't know any of those songs. I haven't even heard of most of the musicians (or whatever they are now). Who is this Kelly Clarkson and why has she taken over the Top 10?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spam #3

Biddy Delaney would like to inform PSC-Library of "pleat recoup".

There is an attachment which might explain what he or she means, but more likely will eviserate my hard drive. That would be bad. Pleat recoup will remain a mystery.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Songs From 1984

When I posted 3 Friends, I had intended to also post the Top 10 from 1984 (link curtesy of my friend Carrot):

1. When Doves Cry, Prince -- I blew out my Dad's stero twice on this song. I own the LP, CD and DVD. Prince rocks.
2. What's Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner
3. Say Say Say, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson -- I'm happy to report, I don't remember this song. At all.
4. Footloose, Kenny Loggins -- Come now, who can resist Footloose???
5. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), Phil Collins -- EEEEEEWWWWW, even in 1984!
6. Jump, Van Halen -- Too many pot shots. I liked Diver Down, though. Then they became a joke.
7. Hello, Lionel Richie -- See #5, both for the song and for the creepy Starburst commercial (which I will never be able to eat again, thanks so much).
8. Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Yes -- Yawn.
9. Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr. -- Would you believe I've never seen Ghostbusters? Haven't seen Close Encounters, either.
10. Karma Chameleon, Culture Club -- I saw them in concert. 'Nuff said.

Tomorrow, songs from the year I met The Carrot. Which was....1987?

Movie and books

We saw David Cronenberg's A History of Violence this weekend. Mom, despite every good thing I'm about to say about it, you should not see this movie. Seriously. It is graphic in it's violence, maybe even a little gratuitous. Very gratuitous, actually. But that is the point: movies (and television, for that matter) have gotten so violent that audiences, on the one hand demand more, and on the other are numbed to it. Where Kill Bill was operatic in it's violence, this is something else. It's so intimate, the director invites you to enjoy the scene then slams your face in it (you don't get to enjoy seeing someone's face get blown off without enduring the sight of bone and brain). It reminded me of Unforgiven, in that both Cronenberg and Eastwood use their chosen genres (action and western) to say something about the price of cinematic violence.

Strangely, Len and I disagreed a little about this one: he didn't like it nearly as much as I did. He, especially, didn't like William Hurt's performance ("too over the top and bad"), whereas I thought it was one of the best I've seen.

Viggo's performance is not in dispute. There is a moment when you can see that his character has changed personality completely, it's so subtle -- like a shadow passing over his face -- but so intense that you know he (and his family) will never be able to go back.

Seriously. See this movie (except you, Mom). Then tell me what you think.


I haven't finished many books lately. I succumbed to temptation and read Sense and Sensibility (I liked it better than the first time I read it; if you haven't read any Jane Austen, this isn't necessarily where you should start, but a great book nonetheless). I'm also still reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which is very funny and ambitious, and very dense. It's pretty fabulous, but reading from 10:00-10:30 pm every night, it's slow going. So, you know. I started another book (I'm consistent, I knit many projects at once, I read many books). This is The Kid by Dan Savage. I've liked his column for a long time (kind of Dear Abby for the sexually uninhibited), he's very smart and very funny. This is a chronicle of his and his boyfriend's (sic) open adoption of a son. It is as smart and funny as his column, and incredibly honest. I suppose he could tank it in the end, but I don't see the book going that way.

I may also have started K
nitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. But I can't confirm that.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some odds and ends

First up, we have a picture of Gwen (with surprisingly normal eyes). Gwen's been a little jealous of all of the photographic attention Judy gets, so I thought I'd better post one before she murders us in a fit of rage (she is actually much too afraid of everything to be murderous, also too fat).

In other feline fun. It had been warm enough over the last week to open most of the windows in our house, much to the delight of all of our cats. It rained Saturday night, and ended up being quite chilly so I closed them all. It took a while for this to sink into the cats' tiny little brains. Both Gwen and Judy smacked into the same window, Gwen didn't have much to say about it, but Judy was not happy. She still small enough that she won't jump into the window frame, she scrambles up to it (she puts her front paws on the sill, and then climbs the wall with her back legs, it's pretty dramatic under the best of circumstances); she bumped off the window and just howled in anger.

Bad gauge: I said this sweater was knitted at 25 stitches per inch. Make that to 4 inches. Amy, your 45 st. to 4 inches is waayyy more impressive! I have a hard time telling right from left, I can't remember my own phone number (but I do remember the one I made up to take it's place), and now I can't distinguish between 1 inch and 4 inches. It is, maybe, time for a head exam. Yeesh.

And a bit of trivia: there is a county in Alaska (I don't know which one) where more than half of it's population identifies itself as Quaker. It is the only county which is 50% or more Quaker. Go figure. Of course that could mean 12 people and a couple of bears. More on this can be found here. These are fascinating to me: look especially at where most of the Baptists are (kind of a horizontal line in the South) vs. where all adherents are (pretty much a vertical line just east of the Mississippi). The categories aren't very refined (they list several kinds of Lutherans, but don't break down the Methodists), but still interesting.

Why yes. I am a nerd. Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bad Mornings

Last Wednesday, my coffee maker jammed halfway through it's brewing job. This happens sometimes, usually when I've ground the coffee beans too fine (which happens on those mornings that the sound of the grinder lulls me back to sleep). The good news was that the coffee did not go all over the counter and I had enough coffee to get me to work without a major meltdown.

The next morning, after cleaning up the mess (yes, I was lazy enough to leave it to the next morning), I set the machine to brewing. I said to Len I couldn't help but feel something bad was going to happen with coffee. I was imagining a caffinated explosion. After my shower, when I stumbled back into the kitchen, I discovered. Nothing. No explosion. No. Coffee. The coffee maker was on, I had indeed put water in the reservoir, but. No. Coffee. These are the times that you discover the depths of your addiction. I boiled water. I swung the basket out and brewed by hand. And was late to work. Trust me, it better than me trying to drive to work without coffee. It turns out, when the coffee maker instructions tell you to brew a pot of vinegar once a month or so, you should.

This morning I arrived at work to discover coffee dribbles down my nice white t-shirt. After quite a production in the bathroom (involving water and goodly amount of paper towel), I decided to buy some bleach at the corner store. Which got the stains out (after a similar production in the bathroom), but turned my t-shirt blue where the bleach was. Another convoluted production in the bathroom, this time involving some nasty smelling soap, my t-shirt is white again.

Something or someone is maybe trying to get me to give up coffee. Life without coffee? Not really worth living.


...I knit, too. Yep, it's true. Waaayyyy back in November I posted a "knitting agenda" which included project #5, which I did not want to go into. In case the recipient, or more accurately the recipient's mother, reads this here blog (I don't think she does, but, who knows). This ballet sweater is from a Jaeger book: Jaeger Designs for Babies and Toddlers by Debbie Bliss. The yarn is the very first "real" yarn I bought as a knitter, and umm, I don't remember what it is. It's acrylic (machine washable and dryable, just the thing for a mother of new baby and toddler!), it has a gauge of 25 stitches to the inch (which is, I am convinced, the perfect gauge), and the color is called "chilled cream". It's a perfect yarn for this sweater. The pattern calls for knitting the ties, but who can resist the siren call of gingham ribbon?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spam #2

Aiden Reed asks: What is OEM software and why DO you care? (I've been wondering that myself)

Answer: By the time Scarlett had undressed and blown out the candle, her plan for tomorrow had worked itself out in every detail. It was a


First of all, what is OEM software? Should I care? And what does Scarlett have to do with it? Secondly, I love the passive voice in this: Scarlett didn't work out her plan, it worked itself out. Scarlett just had to undress (she does that a lot) and blow out the candle. I always hope I will find out what this plan is, perhaps it involves OEM software, but I never do. Oh well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spam Series

Today I have an e-mail from: [%from_name%] (pronounced ), to: "[%to%]"@gre.... The subject is: Hey baby, found this site and wanted you to check it out f... Because Outlook has a magic preview feature, I don't have to open the e-mail to see that it says this:

bottoms sick funeral before profit visited widows fatherless ready moletron invitation condolence constructive impressions

What's a "moletron"?

3 Friends

When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to have 3 close friends: Angela, Alice, and Grace. Oddly enough, these three girls didn't know each other and I didn't know their other friends all that well. Most high school kids were into cliques, but I was pretty oblivious. To this day, I have no idea who was popular in my school. It never occurred to me to care. Being a teenager wasn't much fun, for all the usual reasons -- the hormones, the pudginess, the social awkwardness, gym class, etc. I did manage to miss out on pimples, though, so that was something. But I also had my brother, and he more than made up for any advantage lack of acne might have given me. But I had Angela, Alice, and Grace. They made life bearable.

Angela was a year younger than me. She was friends with my "best friend" in junior high (Deborah. Feh.) She was in various choirs, musical theater and dance. She cultivated an image of ditzy zaniness, which was a front for depression and an eating disorder. Her father told her that if she became a lesbian he would disown her. We both thought that was hilarious, considering how boy-crazy she was. When she later did come out as a lesbian, he didn't disown her, realizing that his job is to love is daughter and preferring to leave any judgment to God. Our friendship never got over my revelation of a big secret I kept from her (which, in my defense, I kept from myself as well) and we drifted apart. I've seen her a few times over the years, but we have turned into very different people and the connection isn't there anymore. It's sad, but I don't think unusual.

Alice and I became friends in the 6th grade (though, we may have met in the 5th grade). I don't remember what we bonded over, maybe a shared sense of nerdiness, but we were friends from 6th grade through high school. Alice was steady, she was smart, she wasn't moody, she had two overprotective parents, an older brother and sister and a dog (of which I was terrified). Alice's house was safe. She was safe. And comforting. Alice has diabetes -- I think she was diagnosed with it in the 4th or 5th grade. I'm not a parent, but I would imagine that there is nothing like a serious, chronic condition like diabetes to strike fear into the hearts of parents and make them seriously limit what their child can do. Because my stepmother, Linda also has diabetes, I was the only friend with whom Alice was allowed to spend the night. She told me last year that, despite being afraid of our cats, my house was safe (which just proves that safety is relative, since my house wasn't safe for me. Obviously, my brother never hit her.) During our overnights, we would lay awake all night talking. We were both pretty aware of the world's problems, and, like all teenagers, we had the solutions. When we graduated from high school, I went to France for a year, she went to Michigan State University. I don't know that we saw each other again until last year. There was no reason that we stopped seeing each other, we just embarked on new lives. When we saw each other again last year, though, she was the Alice I knew all those years ago, and I was the Lee she knew. Unlike Angela and I, we grew the same way.

Grace moved down the street from us when we were Juniors in high school (I think). After months of walking to school in close proximity to each other, we finally started walking together and became close friends. I don't remember what we did together, but it involved a lot of talking (and maybe U2 and Billy Idol. Which gave me headaches. Because my taste in music sucked back then, and I won't admit how much). Grace was very kind and very understanding. I remember, too, that she was very sad. Not in a hard to be around kind of way (which I can be), but in a way that gave her deeper kindness and understanding. I think Grace understood what it meant to be hurt. She had the perfect name. I've seen Grace only once since graduating, either while we were in college or just after. She was either about to get married, or had just gotten married. I recently heard from her husband. He is planning a surprise party for her in late May and is hoping for a reunion of her old friends. So sweet!

How does it happen, that these three girls were so important to me, and then they slipped through my fingers?

Monday, April 10, 2006


Len and my third anniversary was on Sunday. Romantics that we are, we celebrated by ordering pizza from Aggies in Napoleon, watching the Sopranos and part of Big Love and then going to bed. I did make a cake, but we haven't eaten any yet.

Our first date was Wednesday, April 9, 2003. Len was working for his friend's delivery service and would bring the mail from our main building every day. At some point I decided he was cute. I had also decided I didn't want to date and I didn't care that I didn't want to date. But I wanted to know what his name was. I asked our secretary, Terri, who had just gotten married, and was in "everyone-needs-to-be-in-love" mode. She forced me to let her give Len my phone number. Looking back on it, I'm really surprised he called, anti-social as he is. But he did. We couldn't get together for a week or so -- I was in the middle of some big school projects, and his mother was out of town, so he was "babysitting" his father -- so we talked on the phone and at work. Easy. It was all so easy (except, you know, the day after he called the first time, and I freaked out when I saw him because I was so nervous. But you know. That's normal for a 36 year old.) By the time we went out, I wasn't nervous at all.

And I knew. You know that list you make, the I'd-never-date-someone-who-Shortcoming list? Forget it. Because you would. Because when you look in his eyes across the table, you will realize that none of the crap on that list matters. Because he is Right. He is the One. And that is what matters. He isn't perfect. But he is for me.

Then he took me home to meet his 4 pound, one-eyed, old as dirt, cancer survivor cat. And any doubts I might have had? Gone.

Judy Gets a Tan

We were all quite pleased at the arrival of Spring in Michigan this weekend. No one more so than Judy:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fun with Kool-Aid

Stef!-the-weaving-guru informed me last week that my deadline for the Philosopher's sweater is this Saturday. First I went very pale, then I went home and started knitting. A lot. I have 1.5 rounds to go. Expert or no expert, I will be done with the knitting tonight. I am not posting a picture because it looks an awful lot like the last one, but taller.

I took a couple of breaks from frenzied knitting and played with Kool-Aid. I've been hearing for years stories of using Kool-Aid as dye, for hair and for yarn. This weekend, I suddenly had the burning desire to try it; my hope was that I could use it to dye some of a massive amount of cotton that I have, but that is not to be. Despite the experience of parents everywhere, I read that Kool-Aid doesn't really dye cotton, so when I skeined up my (wool) yarn, I used natural colored cotton to tie the skeins, and none of those ties took the color. Go figure.

Left to right we have: Cherry, Orange (this should be brighter), Green Apple, Grape (should a little paler), and Strawberry. I was surprised that the Strawberry was more saturated than the Cherry. I'm thinking of a child's sweater using the Orange and Strawberry.

I had extra Grape, Orange and Cherry packets, so I played around with varigating a skein. It didn't turn out quite as nicely as I was hoping (a little pale in places), but Len thought it would make very nice socks. For him. Preferable to wear to some sort of formal event put together by his mother or sister. Freak.