Movable Type 3.2
December 31, 2007
Books for November
Books for October
Apparently I was on an alphabet kick in October. (And apparently I was doing something other than reading much, though I can't remember what. Actually, I think I started some books in October that I didn't finish until November. Or didn't finish at all. Or something.)
Books for September
Yes, trying to catch up a bit before the end of the year. I know I still won't have posted about all the books I read, but I at least wanted to mention some of them from the last part of the year. I'll try to do better next year! :)
December 28, 2007
My wonderful parents gave me a new digital camera for Christmas! It's a Nikon Coolpix L11, and it's exactly what I wanted - small and light enough to carry without really noticing the extra weight in my purse, better photo quality than my old camera, and enough options to do what I want without so many that it's overwhelming/confusing. Here's the very first picture I took with the new camera, of my dad lacing up his new Christmas boots:
December 27, 2007
Dishcloth Set #1
I made these dishcloths for my grandparents - there's the state they live in (FL) and the states where their children and grandchildren live (NH, CT, IL). (Sorry, again, about the picture quality. You'll be happy to hear that my photos will be improving soon!)
Hello! Obviously, I didn't manage to post over the holidays. Sorry! I hope everyone who celebrated had a great time. Today I'll start posting pictures of the handmade gifts I gave!
December 22, 2007
Bye for now!
I'm off to my uncle's house now and then to my parents tomorrow. I'll try to check in as I have time; regular blogging will resume on the 27th - with lots of pictures of Christmas gifts I haven't been able to show you!
Good luck with the knitting, everyone! I still have hopes of finishing. I'll let you know how it goes.
December 21, 2007
What was I THINKING?
So I'm working on a project at work, and I had started it a month or two ago, and today I finally had time to get back to me. And I cannot for the life of me figure out how I was doing it. I see what would be the "right" way - to write a SQL query - but, given the fact that it's taking me so long to write the freaking query, I'm pretty much positive that that's not how I did it last time. I even asked my boss if he had any idea what I had done, and he didn't. Neither of us have any clue. But this was much easier last time.
December 20, 2007
The school at which I volunteer did indeed have a snow day today, so I celebrated by going back to bed for a little while. It was lovely. It feels so weird to just check a Web site to see if schools are closed - through elementary and some of middle school, we listened to closings on the radio. In high school, we started watching them scroll along the bottom of the local network affiliates. It wasn't until grad school that I looked for them online. Odd.
My Christmas cards are all mailed. Whew. I am still behind on the knitting, but not irredeemably so. I've pretty much trashed my knitting schedule, though, because I realized that if I worked on and finished one thing at a time, as planned, then by the time I started hanging out with family (on Saturday) I'd only have one or two things left, and if those recipients happened to be around during good knitting time, then I'd be stuck. So. Everything that is "due" on Christmas Eve or before is done, and I will work on the things for Christmas Day about evenly for the next few days, so that I can finish things up at my parents' house by either hiding in my room or working on things for one family member while spending time with another. (My poor mother has to work on Christmas Eve. While this is unfortunate, obviously, it also gives her the best chance she's had in years at having her gift actually finished and under the tree on Christmas morning.) I think it should work.
December 19, 2007
Politics Links (12/19)
An interesting take on Meghan McCain and her blog.
Andrew Sullivan endorses Ron Paul for the Republican nomination. (On the other side, he made clear his preference for Obama a while ago.)
Iowa entrance polls and why they might or might not be helpful. (But would certainly be interesting, I'd think.)
I don't want to say this too loudly, but things are going shockingly well. I survive the post office, which means that my packages are all sent. The shopping is done.* Half of the cards have been sent, and the other half will be done tonight. Baking is on schedule. Knitting is about 1/3 of a hat behind schedule, but that's not to the point from which it's unrecoverable. And last night I found out that I will have more knitting time than I'd anticipated - my parents will both be at a party on Sunday, and my mom is working on Monday. Loads of time. I'm trying not to let that ease me into a false sense of security, though. Must stay on schedule.
* I do have to go to the grocery store for ingredients for crockpot cider for the office party, but that doesn't really count as shopping, right?
1. Do you ever get those "knitting emergency!!" messages? I love those. My lovely cousin (hi Liz!), whom I taught to knit a few months ago, sent me a text message last night, along the lines of "I don't know what I did to my hat! Call if you're awake." I called (of course I was awake. It's the week before Christmas. I was knitting.), but I think her hat is a bit far gone for over-the-phone rescue. I'll help it in person when I go to her parents' Christmas parade party on Saturday. (Christmas parade party! Doesn't that sound like fun? I'm excited.)
2. I got an e-mail from MoveOn yesterday with a subject line along the lines of "Bush defeated on illegal wiretapping." I totally read it as "illegal giftwrapping." Hee.
3. On Tychus - do we think it's worth it to do a provisional cast on and then graft it, instead of seaming? Discuss amongst yourselves and get back to me. Thanks.
4. I started a Banff a few months ago, to be a big "pull on over anything and wear around the house" sweater, and then put it aside to do the Christmas things. This morning, I was thinking about how I was looking forward to getting back to it in January, but then I suddenly became very worried about all that ribbing on the bottom. I am not sure I will actually want to wear something with that much ribbing. Do we think it would be okay with the whole thing stockinette? (Yes, I know it would roll, but I'm not convinced that would be bad in this case.) Just a little ribbing? Other thoughts?
5. We're getting yet another snowstorm tonight! I'm particularly excited because Thursday mornings are when I usually volunteer at a local elementary school. It's not that I don't want to go tomorrow, but it's been so long since being able to check for a snow day actually meant anything for me!
6. Six days. Status update on the various Christmas stuff later.
7. I'm venturing to the post office at lunch. Wish me luck.
December 18, 2007
A week until Christmas? How did that happen? I'm floored. I don't know why I'm so surprised, but I am. Odd. It really seems to have snuck up this year. I am starting to realize I need to let go... no, not of the Christmas knitting madness, don't be silly. I'm still trying to do everything that affects others. But I have let myself recognize that it's really okay if I don't put up all the decorations I'd planned to put up, read all the Christmas books I'd planned to read, etc. It's supposed to be fun. Going through a mental checklist of the "essential Christmas movies I need to watch" is not necessarily fun, and if I want to spend an evening letting Buffy accompany my Christmas knitting instead, that's totally fine.
I did have that Moment last night. You know, the Moment when you realize that all this stress and all these deadlines aren't a thing in and of themselves... that when it ends, it's actually going to be CHRISTMAS. Wheee! And that's why I started getting really excited and feeling Christmassy. (And feeling like I really shouldn't have to go to work for the rest of the week. Alas, that part is not true.)
One thing that is making this week feel particularly Christmassy is the amount of snow on the ground. Now that I've forgiven the snow for ruining my plans last weekend, I'm completely loving it. I always think there should be a lot of snow for Christmas, and there very rarely is. But at the moment we've got about a foot and a half on the ground. There are mounds in my driveway as tall as me. It's great. I hope it lasts. (You know what's not great? The way people are driving. People! You live in New Hampshire! You have seen snow before! This isn't a surprise!)
You know what, guys? I realized last night that I have finished making 38 Christmas gifts thus far. THIRTY-EIGHT. 25 of them were needle-felted ornaments, and therefore quite quick, but... still. Oh, and I have a follow-up on yesterday's musings about how long it takes to make dishcloths. In the interests of Science, I decided to investigate this today. During my two 15-minute breaks at work, I took my knitting to the breakroom, checked the clock, and knit for exactly 15 minutes. I got ten rows done each time. Not quite the "minute a row" pace I was hoping for, but fairly quick. (I think. I actually have no idea how quickly most people knit, and am somewhat insecure about this.) Amazing how much more quickly these things go when you're sitting in a barren breakroom just knitting, and not watching TV, reading blogs, and/or checking e-mail. Huh.
Okay. Twelve gifts to go, all knitted. Two for the 22nd (one in progress), seven for Christmas Day (two in progress), one for the weekend after Christmas, two more (one in progress) by January 6th (the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, and therefore my self-imposed absolute deadline for Christmas knitting). How's everyone else doing? Keep knitting. We can do this.
December 17, 2007
What is it with time?
Time doesn't seem to be working the way I think it should. Take dishcloths, for example. Say they're 38 stitches across, 60 or so rows. Half those rows are often straight knitting. The other half are just knitting and purling. Doesn't it sound like that should take about an hour? Why doesn't it? I don't get it. In hopes of getting everything actually done, I've taken to writing out schedules for my evenings this week. I have allotted a whole two hours for a dishcloth tonight - and I'm already eight rows in. Of course, I'm hoping to get ahead of schedule. (I also seem to have the idea that I can write and address thirty or so Christmas cards in an hour. We'll see.)
Speaking of dishcloths, want to see a few? (No, I still have not learned how to take decent pictures of them, but I think I'm getting a little better.)
Pattern here. Red Lily Sugar 'n Cream.
Pattern here. Green Lily Sugar 'n Cream.
These were supposed to be a hostess gift, but plans went awry and I ended up staying in a hotel, so I'm not sure what I'll do with them. (Yeah. Two of the gifts that I managed to finish I didn't even end up needing. Yes, I noticed that.) I may keep them around through the holidays in case I need something last minute, and if not, just keep them. I don't have any Christmas-themed dishcloths.
December 16, 2007
I've had a productive day while being snowed in. I made four pans of the above shortbread, plus a batch of fudge, so I am officially ahead on my holiday baking schedule. Actually, I'm hoping that by bedtime tonight I'll be ahead on both my baking and knitting schedules. I have a few knitted things to show you over the next few days, and then the rest will have to wait until they've been given at Christmas.
(I can't believe I actually did this.)
moar funny pictures
If you click on it and go to the LOLcat site, you can click the little cheeseburgers to vote for him to get onto the main site.
December 15, 2007
Silent Night TV cartoon?
Does anyone remember that cartoon about the writing of "Silent Night"? I think there might have been mice or something involved. What was that called??
Review: The Nativity Story
I know this came out last year, but I got it from Netflix and finally managed to watch it last night. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was! The scenery and costumes are impressive, and the very international cast is quite good. (And attractive. Oh, Alexander Siddig as the Angel Gabriel...) What I liked best was how straightforward the storytelling was. It managed to walk the fine line between being overly preachy/syrupy and being "a new radical retelling!!" as so many religious-themed movies end up. It had the feel of a faithful adaptation of a classic piece of literature (which in one sense it is), while remaining respectful but not saccharine.
I had a few quibbles with it - there were a few wink-wink moments, such as when Joseph bemoans the commercialism of the temple, and the ending seemed rushed - the Magi arrived Christmas night, and Herod's soldiers seemingly arrived to kill the innocents only moments later. The movie was only about an hour and a half, and I thought it would have been better were it a little longer. The climax of the movie was really the birth, though, so I see why they didn't want to belabor the following days. Oh, and I couldn't help but think that Joseph would have gotten a place to stay - or at least a woman or two to help - if he had told any of the people in Bethlehem that his wife was actually in labor. Ah well.
The acting was particularly impressive. The magi were hilarious and provided the main comic relief. Herod and his son were delightfully evil. The villagers in general, and Mary's family in particular, made clear just how hard life was for this culture, without really hitting us over the head with it. And Mary and Joseph were amazing. Their emotions and interactions were complex, and really made it clear how horribly difficult the whole process was for both of them, and what strength they both had to go through with it.
I'll definitely be buying this one to watch each year! It's on HBO several times this coming week, including today at one and Christmas Eve at eight, or you can get it through Netflix (or, I'm sure, a rental store).
My extremely clever, accomplished baby brother called me last night to tell me that he had gotten into his first choice of colleges. I'm so proud. Congratulations, Dave!
(And I think it is a sign of immense personal growth that I managed not to immediately add something in Colby colors to the Christmas knitting list, don't you?)
December 14, 2007
Well, that was unexpected.
Remember how Stephanie said the other day that maybe we should all call in sick to get an extra week for Christmas knitting and stuff? And we were all talking in the comments about what a good idea it was? Well, apparently Santa heard, because I suddenly have three whole unexpectedly free days - my travel plans were canceled due to weather. It's bizarre.
It's good that I'll have more time for cleaning and baking and knitting, but I'm sad that I won't be able to see my dad on his birthday after all. And it's one of those nice round-numbered birthdays, you know? And two days ago was my mom's birthday (not as significant a number, but still). So I got what we were all saying we wanted - unexpected free time in December - but I'm really just bummed that I won't see my family until next weekend.
Since I won't be there to do it myself, would you all like to help me wish them happy birthday in the comments? Let's see how many comments for them we can get. Thanks!
December 13, 2007
Now it's feeling like December.
The transcription project is done. Done! DONE!
And it's snowing! A lot! Wheee!
So this means that I can go home tonight and, after trying to clean my house and pack for my weekend trip, curl up with my Christmas knitting, tea (or maybe some adult cocoa), and Christmas specials on the TiVo. Yay! The Christmas knitting is... going. I'm sure it will go more quickly now that the transcription is done. And really, all I want to do is knit right now, so at least that should be helpful. Tonight I have to finish a hat and attach some hanging loops to some felted ornaments. Over the weekend I'm going to try for two toddler hat/mitten sets. (The hat for one is started.) And maybe a few dishcloths? Hm. On Sunday I'll post some pictures, I promise. I realize some of you may be wondering whether I really do still knit, as there has been scarce evidence of it around here lately. (That's one of my New Year's Goals - I do those instead of resolutions - to post knitting pictures at least once a week.)
After the charity hat deadline this weekend, the next deadline is Thursday the twentieth, for things that need to be mailed - the aforementioned toddler things and a whole bunch of ornaments. (Plus some things that are already done! Aren't you proud?) Then I need another three dishcloths by the 22nd. Two more ornaments for Christmas Eve. By Christmas itself, I need to finish the projects for my parents (both well underway), another hat, and another four dishcloths. Oh, and another ornament. Then a hat for a friend I'll probably be seeing the weekend after Christmas, and then a few things for local friends - they've already graciously offered for their gifts to be last on the list, as I see them all the time. Oh, and they gave me my birthday presents about two months late, which I really didn't mind at all, but am totally leveraging into justification for the delay of their Christmas things. My personal goal for those is January 6th (as I've already started planning other things for January), though they won't mind if they're a bit later.
Whew. That's totally doable, right? Right?
Sanity Update, 2 Hours Later: Wait, two hat and mitten sets this weekend? In Friday night and Saturday, while visiting my family and putting up the Christmas tree? (Oh yeah... I wasn't counting Sunday, after I get home, as part of the weekend. I'm counting on that time to work on other things.) No. No way. One set. One child will get a hat (because it's already started) and the other will get mittens (because his mother requested them). And really, probably neither are expecting anything, so it's not like they'll miss it.
I like him better now that he's retired.
December 12, 2007
Look, it's a knitting encoding schema! My little knitterly librariany heart is racing with the excitement.
Unfortunately, this is not from the Onion.
Congress votes to say that Christmas is important. Seriously?? Don't they have better things to do? Plus, even though I'm Christian, I don't necessarily agree with all the things they state that Christians believe or do. And, really, not all Christians in the country celebrate Christmas on December 25. Do those churches not count? Sigh.
December 11, 2007
Two weeks? Seriously?
How did that HAPPEN? I'm back from my trip and starting to realized just how much I have to do. Yeah. Goals for this week: Finish transcription project; Clean house (after neglecting it for said transcription project); Finish a few knitted gifts. We'll see. I do have some knitting and snow and kitten pictures to show you, though! Soon. Maybe tonight, even.
December 08, 2007
I'd really rather be asleep.
I finally finished this batch of transcription at about 8:30 last night. Toward the end, I had reached some sort of transcription nirvana* mindset, and had just accepted that I was going to be sitting at my computer transcribing these interviews for the rest of my life. By the end of the week, I was dreaming about transcription. I would be sitting in meetings at the day job and find myself translating my coworkers' words into text in my head (not that I don't do that anyway), complete with figuring out where to put the ums and uhs and punctuation. It was exhausting. By last night I could barely type; my fingers were rebelling, and letters were being transposed all over the place - but, interestingly, just in my personal typing, not in the transcription itself. Words, other than the most basic, are just not coming to me; even thsi (see?) morning, I wrote a short e-mail in which I used the phrase "or something" at least five times. See? I'll probably get back to normal just in tiem (there it is again) to start the next batch of transcriptions on Monday.
And in the meantime I'm flying to Ohio, to see friends and go to a Christmas party. I'm excited, even thrilled, about this in the abstract, but I woke up with a raging headache, the house is trashed after spending all my evening time transcribing this week, and the Christmas knitting is so far behind schedule it isn't even funny. (I'll be knitting a hostess gift - for this trip - on the plane today. I can knit 1.75 dishcloths during an hour waiting at the airport and a two-hour flight, right? Sure I can.) So I can't help sort of wishing I could spend the day napping and cleaning and drinking tea and knitting. Ah well. I'm sure that once the trip actually starts, it will be great, but convincing myself to leave the house is going to be a little tough. (It helps that I already paid for the plane ticket.)
Oh, and look where we're going: Jeni's. Home of Goat's Cheese with Cognac Fig Sauce ice cream. (I think that's the one I'm going to get, but I haven't entirely decided.) Yeah. No way I'm going to miss that.
* I mean the Buddhist definition, "...characterized by the extinction of desire and suffering and individual consciousness," not the common "a state of complete bliss" definition. In case that wasn't obvious.
December 06, 2007
It's beginning to look a lot like...
On my lunch break today, I went to the Wal-mart down the road from my office. Now, I don't go there often - Target is my discount store of choice - so I'm not familiar with the store layout and what it's usually like. But wow, it was difficult. There were lots of people - I can only imagine how it is during peak shopping hours - and it seemed practically impossible to find anything. It took me quite a while to even find the Christmas section, which you'd think would be, you know, bad for business.
Although I went in looking for a Bratz comforter (my gift for the church Giving Tree) and some ingredients for shortbread and a tin to carry it in, I of course found a variety of other things that I did vaguely need but hadn't really been looking for: small slippers for my trip this weekend (I'm going carry-on only), a snowflake turtleneck to wear under a sweater, things like that. And when I finally made it through the lines and got it all out to my car, I realized that I hadn't been charged for the $3 salt and pepper shakers I'd picked up. Sigh. It was only $3, but I knew I'd feel bad every time I saw them if I didn't go back and rectify this. So I went all the way in, and luckily was able to do the transaction at the customer service station instead of getting back in line.
Speaking of guilt, the Salvation Army bell ringers are really bothering me this year. Now, I know it's a good cause. I do. But I plan out my charitable giving, and I simply cannot be donating to them every single time I go into or out of any store. (Today, for example, I was in fact at the store to buy a gift to donate in the first place.) If I have change in my pocket, I will usually drop it in, but otherwise I am just left feeling guilty and un-Christmassy. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Is it just me? It seems like there should be a better way.
Update on posting situation
So, as you see, I eventually managed to post that post from the other day. It worked from home, so perhaps it was my work connection being wonky? I'm not sure. We'll see if it happens again...
Politics Links (12/4)
This is from a few days ago... I was having posting issues yesterday.
Tracy gets Obama to hold a sock. I am in awe.
Giuliani made cops walk his mistress's dog. Why is this guy still the "frontrunner," again?
And Romney will talk about his religion (a la Kennedy?) on Thursday, at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, no less.
The Union-Leader endorses McCain. (That's one of the main newspapers here in NH, and it's known to be conservative.)
Chris Dodd just needs to stop it with the fake e-mail already. Yes, I got this one as well.
December 05, 2007
The new Knitty is up! I haven't looked all the way through yet, but I'm very impressed so far.
I can't seem to post my politics post from yesterday, so let's see if this works...
Update: Apparently I can post new things but not that one post. Not even if I copied and pasted it into another post. Weird!
December 04, 2007
In praise of Latin
A very interesting opinion piece: A Vote for Latin
December 01, 2007
Saturday Morning Baking
It's cold and windy out, so I got up this morning and started baking. First, chocolate chip muffins, just because I'd been wanting them for a while:
I substituted whole wheat flour for half the regular flour, so that makes them healthy, right? ;-) They're yummy for breakfast with a piece of fruit, some milk, and a big mug of tea. This morning, I had a mug of Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet Holiday Tea while I was baking and then some Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea with breakfast.
And then I made some holiday M&M brownies to bring to a friend this afternoon:
I'll admit I "cheated" on these. I usually like to do my baking from scratch, but I do keep a few mixes around for when I'm rushed or need something last-minute, as was the case today. This was a Ghirardelli walnut brownie mix; I just scattered the M&Ms on top before I put them in the oven.
Okay, now I should actually get some work done...
I would just like to announce that Rachel is officially my favorite person of the week, for pointing me to Express Scribe transcription software, and thereby saving my sanity this weekend. It's almost alarmingly easy to install and use, and so very very helpful. (Plus, Rachel and her husband just bought a house! Go congratulate her!)