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November 30, 2006

Need kitten advice!

Exciting news! I received word this morning that my baby kitten is just about ready to come live with me. I am thrilled, of course, but also rather nervous. See, I've never lived with a baby kitten before. And even when I've gotten adult cats, I haven't been the only person around. Scary. So. Some questions for all of you experienced kitten parents:

1. The kitten is almost two months old. How self-sufficient is it at that point? How much do I have to worry about leaving it alone in the apartment while I'm at work? (I'm referring to it as "it" because I don't know yet whether it's a boy or a girl.) For the first few days, at least, I can go home once or twice during the day to check on it. Should I leave it in one super-kitten-safe room at first, rather than letting it wander around? Hmm.

2. I want to get a book with general kitten care/development stuff, as well as first aid and, um, troubleshooting? There must be a better word than that. But you know, like "if your kitten is doing A, the issue could be B or C." Any book recommendations?

3. Are there kitten-proofing issues that I might not think of? For example, I'm planning to put the litter box in the bathroom, and it just occurred to me that there's a dryer vent pipe thing open in there that a kitten could probably fit in, so I should cover that up. Any other non-obvious things like that I should watch out for?

4. Ideally, I'd like to end up with an affectionate lap kitten. I know that a lot of that has to do with innate personality, but I'm sure that upbringing affects it as well. Any tips on encouraging that behavior?

5. And how about encouraging a healthy respect for yarn and knitting?

6. And a fun question: I know there are lots of patterns out there for cat toys, beds, etc. Any favorites?

Posted by Kat at 09:14 AM | Comments (27)

November 29, 2006

Wednesday Randoms!

How about some good old fashioned Wednesday randoms? Wheee!

1. An article I wrote for Knitty a while back is suddenly being linked everywhere. It was on a LiveJournal community the other day and now it's in the comments of a Fark thread. Weird.

2. My hair has apparently lost its mind. (Yes, I know hair doesn't really have a mind. Shush.) In the winter, I shower at night, which means I often go to bed with my hair at various stages of damp, and sometimes there are interesting results. But today I woke up with ringlets. Ringlets. WTF? Of course, they were somewhat uneven ringlets, so I brushed it out, which means that now it's mostly just... fluffy. But still odd.

3. My second to last assignment for the semester is almost done. (There are just a few things I have to look up on campus before I turn it in today.) Then I have one due in two weeks, and my penultimate semester will be done. Yay.

4. What is with this weather? My friends in Tennessee and Oregon are getting snow, but here in New Hampshire, we're having record heat and rain. Lots of rain. It is almost December. I do not approve.

5. I smell cough drops. Yum. Please tell me I'm not the only one who really likes the taste of Halls. Mmm, mentho-lyptus...

6. There was some interest in my idea of either resurrecting or ripping out one abandoned project per month in 2007. I'll host some sort of knitalong. Stay tuned for details. Do all knitalongs need blogs these days, or do we still like the "links on the sidebar" method? Hmm.

7. A grad student is doing research about how long it takes memes to get around. Post about it and then ping Technorati. I've seen it a bunch of places now and don't quite remember where I saw it first. Sorry.

8. Knitting update: Shedir is eking along, slowly, about a few rounds a day. I think I'm on round 36. Must hurry up. Gah. The second Knit Unto Others scarf, on the other hand, is going even more quickly than the first. It's going so quickly, in fact, that the guys in my D&D group, who are normally fairly oblivious to what I'm knitting (with the possible exception of The Magpi's husband, who is perhaps more used to being expected to pay some attention to such things), even noticed and were amazed. I'm glad it's going quickly, because I'm more or less hating every stitch. Remind me not to buy Baby Clouds again.

9. I would like to go home and knit now. Please? Thanks.

Posted by Kat at 09:51 AM | Comments (9)

November 28, 2006

Shouldn't targeted marketing be... targeted?

You know how Amazon periodically sends out those "You liked A so we thought you might like this new book/CD/DVD B" e-mails? They usually don't annoy me too much. Sometimes they're even helpful, if they mention a new book by a favorite author I'd somehow managed not to hear about. But today's was just bizarre:

We've noticed that customers who have expressed interest in books by L.M. Montgomery have also ordered A Pocket Guide to Epidemiology by David G. Kleinbaum.

Um, what? (For those of you who might not know, L.M. Montgomery was a Canadian novelist in the early twentieth century who wrote, among other things, Anne of Green Gables.) I cannot imagine how these things are possibly connected. I mentioned this to a friend and he told me that he got a weird recommendation from them today too. Anyone else?

Posted by Kat at 11:17 PM | Comments (8)


It seems that when I said that I only had three things on the needles, several of you thought that I meant, you know, that I only had three things on the needles. Which was quite reasonable of you, really, given that that's what I said. But I need to clarify. What I meant was that I only have those three projects that's I'm currently working on and considering to be "active." I probably have a few dozen things on the needles, either on hold or abandoned. And at some point I need to figure out what to do with them all. The vague plan is to gradually add them in among new projects and get them finished. Or rip them out, if I'm just not interested anymore. I'm not really sure when this is going to happen, though. I'm really enjoying only working on a few things at a time.

Maybe in 2007 I'll plan to find one UFO per month and either work on it or rip it out. Hmm. That could help. My other big knitting goal for 2007 will be keeping track of exactly what I finish. I was going to try to make a gallery or something, but it is occurring to me that it might be easier to make a "2007 Finishes" category here and do a post with pictures and specs for each project, and then just have a link to that category. I think I'd be more likely to keep up with that than a separate gallery. I'll probably also make a spreadsheet so I can easily sort and see how many of each type of item, etc., I've done.

Posted by Kat at 08:28 AM | Comments (11)

November 27, 2006

WIP Round-Up and Self-Bribery

Well, I'm not exactly on the one-at-a-time plan anymore. But I'm still keeping things nicely under control, I think.

1. Knit Unto Others I showed you the first scarf I finished yesterday. Today I started another: ribbed again, in Baby Clouds from the stash. It's driving me crazy - too many little loops and fiber bits getting stuck on the needles, too plasticky. But it's going quickly, sort of. Will try to finish by the third. I have D&D tomorrow night so I'm hoping a big chunk of it will get done then.

2. Shedir I love love love this project, but it's going soooo slowly. I'm on row 31 of 83. My friend is having surgery on the twelfth, so I want to get it in the mail by early next week.

3. A Cardigan for Arwen Self-bribery #1: I told myself I could start this when I finished my homework tonight. Just finished casting on, and now I'm alternating between it and Shedir. Pictures once there's something to see.

4. Wine and Roses Mitts No, I haven't started these, but I bought a skein of Seascoast Handpainted in Cherry Fizz the other night. I'll be starting them when I finish Shedir.

5. Victorian Lace Self-bribery #2: When I finish my work for the semester (December 13 at the latest), I get to start something from Victorian Lace Today. I'm leaning toward "Large rectangle with center diamond pattern" (p. 20) or "Melon pattern" (p. 146) because I have the KidSilk Haze in stash, but laceweight is reasonably cheap, as decent yarn goes, so I might just decide on a whim and get something else when I'm ready.

In summary, I only actually have three things on the needles, which isn't bad at all. And, perhaps most importantly, I am not stressing myself out over any holiday knitting this year. It just seemed like a better idea for all involved.

Posted by Kat at 09:03 PM | Comments (4)

November 26, 2006

Happy red scarf

My first item for Knit Unto Others. It's a simple ribbed scarf from Homespun (Candy Apple, I think) from the stash. It went remarkably quickly - sort of the opposite of that black hole effect. I'd knit sort of on and off for an evening, while playing D&D or something, and all of a sudden 20 inches would be done. Weird, but I'm not going to question it.

Posted by Kat at 05:18 PM | Comments (10)

November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday! I'm in CT with my family - I'll be back home tomorrow night. Enjoy your turkey!

Posted by Kat at 11:55 AM | Comments (8)

November 20, 2006

Progress Report

Let's see how I did on those goals this weekend...

1. Finish Shedir. Hah. Nope. I was thinking that hats are quick, but Shedir is a particularly fussy hat on small needles with splitty yarn. I think I'm on row 16. I'm really liking it, though.

2. Finish two Netflix discs to send back on Monday. Well, I finished one. Review soon.

3. Make a decent dent in my current homework assignment. Yup! Look at me, being all responsible and getting homework stuff done first. Aren't you impressed?

4. Pick out a recipe for a dish to bring to D&D next week and one to bring to Thanksgiving, and shop for the ingredients. Sort of. I realized that, since I'm traveling the day before Thanksgiving, it would be too stressful for everyone if I tried to cook or even warm something up in my mother's oven or my aunt's. So I'm bringing a few bottles of cider instead. Yes, that cider. Don't worry, I won't try to operate the ballwinder. Anyway. I did pick out a recipe for D&D (Mark Bittman's macaroni and cheese), but I didn't go shopping. I'll stop at the store on the way home from work today and cook when I get home.

5. Get to 28,000 words on my novel. HAH. No. I've pretty much given up on NaNo for the year. I will continue working on my story, but I'm not worrying about word count. I realized that it was keeping me from more important things, and that I was setting myself up to be distracted and irritable throughout Thanksgiving. And I was making myself sick from not sleeping enough. And it's just not that important.

6. Sit down and do some serious holiday gift/entertaining/etc. planning Yup. I'm not done, but I've gotten a good start.

7. Update the sidebars. Yup. But I guess you can see that for yourselves.

Posted by Kat at 09:03 AM | Comments (14)

November 19, 2006

Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I finished this one a few weeks ago, but realized that I'd never actually written up a review. Oops.

Twilight is one of the most-talked-about young adult books of the past few years, and it's one of those things that I'd been meaning to read forever. Well, I finally managed to read it, and it was definitely worth it. In some ways, it's a typical teen vampire romance: misfit girl moves to new town, meets alluring, mysterious boy, falls in love, finds out he's a vampire, etc. And I don't normally go for vampire romances. But this one was so well-written and atmospheric that it completely grabbed me. It's a nice, long, thick book, and Meyer does a great job of immersing the reader in her world. The other thing that I really liked was the complexity of the characters. Both the main characters as well as a wide array of side characters are well-drawn and truly complicated. And the vampire guy is, well, dreamy. Yeah. It's a great read for a cool fall or early winter weekend.

Note: There's a sequel, New Moon. I've heard mixed reviews, but I'll probably give it a try eventually.

Posted by Kat at 02:33 PM | Comments (5)

November 17, 2006

Weekend Goals

Whoa crazy busy. Again. Still. Whatever. Anyway. I decided I should post some goals for the weekend, in hopes that that will keep me focused and give me a feeling of accomplishment, or something. Or maybe I'm just short on stuff to talk about today. You decide. :-)

This isn't everything I have to do, by any means, but it's some things that I'd really like to get done. If that makes sense.

1. Finish Shedir.
2. Finish two Netflix discs to send back on Monday.
3. Make a decent dent in my current homework assignment.
4. Pick out a recipe for a dish to bring to D&D next week and one to bring to Thanksgiving, and shop for the ingredients.
5. Get to 28,000 words on my novel.
6. Sit down and do some serious holiday gift/entertaining/etc. planning.
7. Update the sidebars.

That's... well. Probably enough, huh? What are you trying to accomplish this weekend?

Posted by Kat at 05:58 PM | Comments (8)

November 16, 2006

Better Late Than Never

My ISP has been having issues this week, so I'm a bit behind. This week's Sunday stitching update:


Yeah, I know, not too exciting. That's why I wasn't too worried that I couldn't post it on Sunday. I'm going to wait and update my stitching pages this Sunday with both weeks' updates.

Now some non-Wednesday randoms:

1. I started Shedir last night. Well, by "started," I mean that I cast on last night and knit about half a round this morning. I'm using Jaeger Roma, and so far it seems a bit splitty but sooo soft. Although perhaps a bit more suedey than I anticipated when knit up. This is definitely a "pay attention" knit, though, so I will probably be starting a simple scarf for Knit Unto Others this weekend as well.

2. NaNo update: Still behind, but not irredeemably behind. At 17,000-something. My goal is another 10,000 between today and Sunday, which will still have me behind, but less so.

3. My copy of Victorian Lace Today is waiting for me at the bookstore. I'll get it tonight. Wheeee!

4. The local oldies station became "Boston's Holiday Music Station" yesterday. I'm actually happy about this - I love Christmas music. I'm just a bit frustrated that it has to be the one oldies station in the area that transforms. Why couldn't it be a station I don't normally like to listen to? Where am I supposed to get my oldies fix now?

5. I've been going crazy the past few days because they've been beta testing a new application in the empty cubes across from me. Which means they've been loud, and periodically standing in my cube, and plugging things in to my power strip, etc. But I think they're finally gone. Whew.

6. Have you listened to Lime & Violet yet? No? What are you waiting for? I'm rationing myself - one episode a day while I catch up. I can't believe it took me this long to find them.

7. Another recent podcast addiction: the BBC Radio Newspod.

I feel like there were a million other things I wanted to say, but of course I can't think of any of them. Hmm. Oh, I did want to make sure that you all were aware that I'm blogging over at Yarn Life now too. And please, if you have any ideas for Yarn Life, let me know!

Posted by Kat at 07:38 AM | Comments (5)

November 15, 2006

Doctor Who-related news (all Cate's fault)

Breaking news! San Diego Dispatches reports that our beloved Christopher Eccleston will be on Heroes later in the season! I was considering giving up on that show, because it just hasn't really grabbed me, but maybe I'll give it some more time...

(You all realize that it's all Cate's fault that I feel it necessary to blog each tidbit of Doctor-related news, right?)

Posted by Kat at 02:13 PM | Comments (3)

No more cold hands.

Wow! I actually finished something in a reasonable amount of time! I started these wrist warmers on Wednesday or Thursday last week, knit most of the first while watching the worst movie ever, worked on the other in bits on Sunday and Monday and then did most of it during D&D last night. Wove in the ends this morning. Wheee! Less than a week.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire in Forest, about 2/3 of a skein. I chose the color because it reminded me of the pine trees on my college campus (in the Berkshires).
Pattern: One Skein Wave Hand Warmers, free from WEBS with the yarn
Edits: I changed the location of the thumb hole on the second one so that the little jog at the beginning/end of the round would be on the palm of both hands, rather than on the back of one.
Time: about a week

Comments: This was a quick, fun knit. They're a little loose, but I should have anticipated that, since I have freakishly small hands. I don't really mind, because they're easy to get over sleeves or even over my leather driving gloves for extra warmth. I wore them while driving to work this morning and the texture seemed to help make them not too slippery on the steering wheel.

Here's one of them on a hand. (Try as I might, I could not come up with a way to take a picture of both of my own hands.) I think the color is a bit truer in this picture.

When I finished the knitting last night, I started swatching for A Cardigan for Arwen with the rest of the skein. I love the fabric, and the gauge is looking reasonable, but as I look at the completed wrist warmers, I'm not so sure. The yarn is a bit "hairy" and the stitch definition isn't great, so I don't think it will give quite the cable I'm looking for. And I'm considering wanting superwash for Arwen anyway. (Not sure. Thoughts?) I'll probably finish the swatch just in case, though. Maybe I'll even manage to attach a tag saying what the swatch is so that next time I'm looking for yarn for a heavy worsted sweater I won't have to do it over.

Posted by Kat at 08:00 AM | Comments (8)

November 13, 2006

Writing? I'm supposed to be writing?

My NaNoWriMo novel was going so well. Until it... stopped. Friday, Saturday, Sunday - not a word. Gah. I had a fun, relaxing weekend, but nothing got done. Tonight I wrote a little over 1700, so at least I'm very slightly less behind. I'm sure I can still catch up at this point. But I'm at the point of every NaNo when I start wondering why I'm putting myself through this...

Posted by Kat at 09:27 PM | Comments (4)

November 10, 2006

Wheee Friday Randoms

It's been an odd week. All yesterday, I was convinced it was either Wednesday or Friday. In this context, I was convinced it was Wednesday, and all set to do randoms, and then I realized it was Thursday. And then I signed up for the reading challenge and posted about that instead. Which is a long way of saying "Hey, how about some randomly timed randoms?"

1. Thanks for the comments on the scarf. Blocking. Huh. Hadn't occurred to me. (Really.) For those who asked: pattern here, yarn here.

2. What's next? Last night I started some wrist warmers, and I hope to have them done by the end of the weekend. (A friend and I are planning a lot of TV/movie watching and crafting.) Then I'm making a Shedir hat for a friend who's having brain surgery next month. Then... I'm going to start a sweater. And then I'm going to FINISH a sweater. Because, as we all know, I've never actually done that. What sweater? I'm still discussing that with myself. Stay tuned for updates.

3. From November 18 to December 2, I will be taking a break from the above to knit for charity as part of Knit Unto Others. Won't you join us? I will be knitting a few scarves and/or hats for needy patients at the inner city clinic where my mother works as a pediatrician. I may start a little early, because the Shedir pattern is pretty complicated, so I will need some mindless knitting as well. (Yes, I told you that a complicated pattern would be where the one-at-a-time rule would break down. I think two at a time is acceptable.)

4. Speaking of which, the "one book at a time rule" broke too. (Hah, like my grammar there? The rule broke. I didn't break it.) It wasn't the Winter Reading Challenge that did it, though. It was something even vaguely work-related. There's a particular book that the store where I work is pushing this holiday season, and I wanted to read it before I push it, so I know what I'm talking about. So I'm reading a chapter a day of that, and then back to Thunderstruck. Which is taking FOREVER. Possibly because I've been reading for about five minutes a day. But still. I've been reading it for a few weeks and I'm only on page forty-something. When I finish the other book, I'll probably keep going with the "a few pages of Thunderstruck a day" while I read the Winter Challenge books. Because otherwise there's just no way. So. Two books at a time, too.

5. For you local people: I have an article about Melissa Leapman in this week's Hippo. (For the non-locals, that's the name of the biggest weekly newspaper in New Hampshire. No, really. It's not short for anything, or anything. It's really called The Hippo. We're a little odd up here.) It doesn't seem to be online, but please pick one up if you see it! I'm proud. :-)

6. Look for a sidebar overhaul soon. Part of that will be splitting my blogrolls. I'm going to be taking knitting-related blogs out of my personal Bloglines account, because they're going in the Yarn Life blogroll and I read them there, and the regular one just gets cluttered with all these things that they're telling me are new but that I've actually already read. So. If it looks like I unsubscribe from you sometime in the next few days, don't worry. I'm still reading. Just consolidating accounts.

7. Once again, my weekend was supposed to be open and relaxing, but now I have plans for tonight (meeting a knitblogger! Want to check before I post much about it, though), Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday late afternoon/early evening. Plus my normal shift at the bookstore all day Saturday. Gah. How does this happen?

Posted by Kat at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)

November 09, 2006

Joining the Winter Reading Challenge

Yes, I'm joining the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. Who am I to pass up a good challenge just because I already have too much to do? Don't tell me you're surprised.

Now, I probably have hundreds of unread books in my house, so choosing five threatened to become a monumental task. I considered some sort of rules, or a system. (Again, don't tell me you're surprised.) Maybe a theme (all classics? History?), or the opposite - five from different genres. Did they have to be a certain length? Did I have to have owned them for a certain amount of time? etc. Eventually, though, I convinced myself to chill out and just picked. These are five books I've been wanting to read for a while that are particularly calling to me at the moment, for whatever reason.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Seriously, I'm into colonial history, and witch trial stuff, and the history of religion, and I like Hawthorne, and why haven't I read this?? So I will. Also, my little brother has read it, because he's now in the part of school I never did (junior/senior years of high school), so it feels doubly ridiculous that I haven't.

The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in 17th Century England by Antonia Fraser - I picked this up at a used bookstore a few years ago, but just haven't gotten to it yet. I like Fraser, and women's history, and I'm in the mood for 17th century England.

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming - I adored Spencer-Fleming's debut, and I got this, the second book in the series, as an ARC before it was even released. Well. The fifth in the series was just released, and I still haven't read the second. It's about time.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - Another classic I've been meaning to read forever. And I hate having to say "No, but I saw the movie..." when people ask me if I've read it.

Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides by HRH Princess Michael of Kent - When my aunt sold the home she had shared with my grandmother a few years ago, I wound up with lots of their books. This was one of the most exciting ones, but again, I just haven't managed to read it... but I guess that's the point of this challenge, huh?

I'm planning a sidebar overhaul over the weekend, so I'll get the button and the list of books over there then. I'm considering whether to rescind my one at a time rule for this challenge. Hmmm.

Posted by Kat at 05:46 PM | Comments (5)

November 08, 2006

Bush press conference bleep?

A friend and I just went out to her car to listen to the Bush press conference on NPR, and I swear they bleeped something he said. Anyone know what?

(Montana! Whee! Rumsfeld gone!! Is it Christmas?)

UPDATE (7:30pm): Wonkette's take on the bleep

Posted by Kat at 01:47 PM | Comments (8)

Another nailbiter, and an actual finish.

Once again, I stayed up way too late watching election coverage, only to have things undecided when I went to bed. And when I woke up. But I'm certainly not complaining. I am in fact very happy. And still refreshing Google News every 30 seconds, of course. (CNN.com is blocked at work. This makes me very sad.)

I'm very proud of my state. We replaced both our Republican incumbents in the House with Democrats - one of whom is the first female who New Hampshire has sent to Congress. Our Democrat governor was reelected, and the Dems took both state houses and, I think, the executive council. It's nice to feel like my vote actually did help change something.

I was basically in a news blackout from 5-10pm last night, which was rather stressful. Luckily, a wonderful friend called a little after nine to let me know about the first wave of good news: Santorum and DeWine and Bass out, Lynch still in (but we expected that). I listened to NPR from 10-10:25 while driving home and then was glued to CNN until one. Seeing Wolf Blitzer call the House was a nice moment, as were seeing the Virginia (I hope I hope) and Missouri races start to turn.

But, of course, it's not over. It probably won't be over until almost Christmas. Sigh. Something that is done:

My new scarf! Finally! I finished it during D&D last night and wove in the ends while getting my CNN fix this morning. I adore it (except for the weird puckering thing it does in a few spots). And, of course, now that it's done, it's warmer here than it's been in weeks. Figures.

Posted by Kat at 07:29 AM | Comments (4)

November 07, 2006


Just a reminder to those of you in the U.S. to go out and vote today.

I successfully registered in my new town this morning and voted. It all went pretty smoothly. I'm still amused that polling places around here have bake sales. And then I was reminded of why I usually avoid the center of town around rush hour: it took forever to get to work. Now to obsessively check news sites all day...

Interestingly, Garrison Keillor just told me that it's the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Hmmm.

Posted by Kat at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

November 05, 2006

Three Teacups!

Our Sundays are for Stitching update:


I stitched for almost five hours this week. Wheee! I'm hoping that this coming week I'll finish the ten hours for this rotation and start a new project.

Posted by Kat at 08:52 PM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2006

There are no words.

In what universe is telling single adults not to have sex a good use of government (a.k.a. our) money? I can't even... gah.

Thanks to Jessie for the link.

Posted by Kat at 02:56 PM | Comments (5)

Review: Marie Antoinette

Last weekend, a friend and I went to see Sofia Coppola's new take on Marie Antoinette. My opinion? The short version: as the credits rolled, the guy sitting in front of us said "Well, that was the stupidest movie I've ever seen." My friend and I laughed for about five minutes.

The long version: What was this movie trying to do? We couldn't figure it out. We didn't think it knew. It would go on for a while as a reasonably straightforward historical biopic, and then bam! A sudden montage of shoes (including sneakers) and candy set to rock music! What? The music was one of the worst parts - well. The music itself was fine, and actually quite good in places. But the choice of music was disjointed: it went from generic historical-sounding instrumentals to 18th century opera to modern rock music and back with no discernable rhyme or reason. It was very "Oh, look how high-concept we are!" without seeming to have much of a concept - unless it was supposed to be a very long music video? Apparently Sofia Coppola directs music videos. Anyway. I watched the first half of the David Tennant Casanova the day after I saw Marie Antoinette, and I think Casanova is much more successful with the modern music/montages/etc. idea. There, it was well-integrated and actually made sense within the story. In Marie Antoinette, it just seemed tacked on.

Should we even bother discussing the historical accuracy or lack thereof? Aside from the deliberate anachronisms, the history really wasn't much worse than that of most historical movies. There were plenty of things that were changed - notably, the number of Marie Antoinette's children - but we expect that. (It amuses me that the goofs page at IMDb is concerned with anachronistic champagne glasses when, you know, there were so many more obvious issues. See above about rock music.) The bigger historical issue was that things weren't very well explained. I mean, I'm far from a Marie Antoinette or French Revolution expert, but I've read a few books (include the Antonia Fraser biography on which this movie is supposedly based), and I knew the story. The people sitting next to me, for example, talked a lot, and so I could tell that they did not know much of the story, and they were very confused. My friend and I found ourselves laughing at entirely different times than did most of the audience. It seems that the movie carefully arranged itself to work with no audience: there wasn't enough narrative force or explanation for those who weren't history buffs, but those of us who routinely bring reference materials to historical movies (for the after-movie dinner discussion! It makes perfect sense!) were guaranteed to be annoyed.

The other main issue was the pacing. It seemed like the part about the beginning of the marriage lasted forever, without much really happening. And then it sped up, perhaps so it could get away with skipping all of that pesky explanation about why exactly there was a revolution happening in the first place, and then stopped. Abruptly. There wasn't even any guillotine. As my friend said afterward, "It's not that I wasn't wishing it would end by that point, but some closure might have helped." Too much time was given to shoe montages and Kirsten Dunst sulking, not enough to an actual story. There was one scene that consisted of Marie Antoinette sitting in a room at Trianon with a bunch of guys playing guitars and singing to her, and it seemed to go on for a ridiculously long time. I just read that those guys were Sofia Coppola's boyfriend and his band. I'm shocked.

I must admit that it wasn't all bad. The clothes were pretty. (Isn't that the real reason we go to historical movies?) Most of the actors, especially Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman (apparently Sofia Coppola's cousin. Huh.), actually did remarkably well with what they were given. The character of Marie Antoinette was, remarkably, shown as rather complex - she wasn't the villian she's often made out to be, but she wasn't just a victim, either. My friend and I make a habit of going to see bad historical movies, and overall we rated this one as even worse than Kingdom of Heaven but better than King Arthur. Cake, anyone?

Posted by Kat at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)

November 02, 2006

Random NaNo Thought of the Evening

I keep having to remind myself that my main character's romantic interest is not, in fact, a vampire. I am not at all sure that this is a good sign.


Posted by Kat at 11:08 PM | Comments (2)

NaNoWriMo Daily Incremental Goals Formulae

Note: This entry is very long, with lots of numbers and math. I promise it's not actually as complicated as it looks. If you don't care about NaNoWriMo and/or hate math, though, you might want to move along.

Over the past few years, I've developed1 a system for calculating daily incremental word count goals for NaNo. When sitting down to write, the day's goal can often seem overwhelming. It sounds like so much. Writing a list of smaller goals makes it all seem much more achievable. This system has two big advantages. Reaching multiple smaller goals allow you to feel a more frequent sense of accomplishment, which helps you keep going. And the goals are close together, so when one is reached, the next always seems so close that it seems silly not to try for it.

So! Ready to give it a try?

First, define your variables:

A = your current word count
B = daily minimum (1667)
C = your personal daily goal
D = amount you must write each day (including today) to get to goal: (50,000-A)/(31-E) [yes, 31, not 30. Math is weird.]
E = day of the month

Calculate the following:

The first five are the "reasonable" goals.

1. A + B (current word count plus today's minimum. This keeps you as ahead or as behind the NaNo minimum as you already are.)
2. A + C (current word count plus daily goal. This keeps you as ahead or as behind your own goal as you already are. If your goal is greater than the NaNo minimum, this helps you catch up or puts you ahead.)
3. A + D (current word count plus average you must complete to finish on time. Note: if you are behind, this will put you less behind, but if you are ahead, it will put you less ahead.)
4. B x E (today's NaNo minimum, regardless of your current word count)
5. C x E (today's goal, regardless of your current word count)

The next five are the "dream goals." They're basically the above goals plus an extra day. Because really, we all want to get a day ahead, right?

6. A + (Bx2)
7. A + (Cx2)
8. A + (Dx2)
9. B x (E+1)
10. C x (E+1)

Now make a list of goals.

Arrange the numbers in order from least to greatest. Add round numbers in between them - at least every multiple of 500. If you want more goals, add in multiples of 250 or even 100. Also add any of these round numbers between your current word count and the lowest number of 1 - 7.

I promise this isn't as confusing as it sounds. To illuminate things, let's make my goal list for today as an example.

A = 1744 (my current word count)
B = 1667 (daily minimum)
C = 2000 (my personal daily goal)
D = (50,000-1744)/(31-2) = 1664 (amount I must write per day to make it)
E = 2 (since it's November 2)

1. 1744 + 1667 = 3411
2. 1744 + 2000 = 3744
3. 1744 + 1664 = 3408
4. 1667 x 2 = 3334
5. 2000 x 2 = 4000
6. 1744 + (1667x2) = 5078
7. 1744 + (2000x2) = 5744
8. 1744 + (1664x2) = 5072
9. 1667 x 3 = 5000
10. 2000 x 3 = 6000

Now I arrange them in order:


And I add all the multiples of 250 between my current word count and the highest goal:


Now I write those numbers on a piece of paper and keep it next to me as I write. As I reach each goal, I cross it out. The beauty of this system is that the next goal is always so close that it's easy to trick yourself into writing just a little bit more. For example, today I'm planning to try for Goal 2 (current word count + 2000), which is 3744. But once I get there, I'll see that the next goal is 3750, which is ridiculously close, so I'll write another sentence to get there. And then the next is right there at 4000, so I'll probably keep going... etc. If you like to play mind games with yourself, give it a try.
1 I think I got the original concept from a fellow NaNoWriMo participant several years ago, but I've long forgotten who it was. The details, formulae, and explanations are my own.

Posted by Kat at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2006

Word count widget!

This will get into the sidebar soon, but I just wanted to check it out...

My Progress Report

Posted by Kat at 11:44 PM | Comments (2)

First Randoms of November!

Happy November, everyone!

1. As promised, Yarn Life is up! I'm excited! Let me know how you like it. And please, if you do like it, I'd love if you could link to it in a blog entry so your readers can find it too. Thanks!

2. It's NaNo day! I wrote about 50 words at midnight, so at least I've started. Now I'm working out some character names/ages/etc.

3. It's November, so can it go ahead and snow already? Just a little. Please. Sheesh.

4. I have a list of blog posts I want to write. At least four of them. Gah.

5. My boss is away this week. Therefore, everything is breaking.

6. I feel like I have been working on the multidirectional diagonal scarf for ever. Maybe I'll manage to finish it this weekend.

7. Can we add, oh, four hours to each day for the foreseeable future? That would be really helpful right now.

8. There were, indeed, trick-or-treaters at my friend's house. Some of them were extremely adorable. Fun.

9. Said friend has me wanting All-Clad now. She got it as a graduation gift to herself. So maybe next year I deserve some too...

10. I just read somewhere that Trekking can be machine washed. I somehow hadn't realized this. It makes me very happy.

11. And I feel like I need an eleventh because it's November 1. Oh, yeah. I'm on a quest to put "all" knitting blogs on the Yarn Life Blogroll. Any guesses as to how many I'll find?

Posted by Kat at 10:04 AM | Comments (10)

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