Sunday, April 30, 2006

Oh, yeah...I still knit

I notice I haven't posted any knitting pictures lately. Here are the socks I'm currently working on.

Aren't they gorgeous? I've tossed the label already, but I think the colorway is called "Water" from Cherry Tree Hill. I love the feel of the tightly spun merino. Because Mom raved about the fit of the afterthought heel following Dawn Brocco's adaptation, I thought I'd also see if I could do Brocco's version of the star/round toe (but toe-up, of course). Pretty easy -- I just increase at six points every round until I got to 24 stitches on my needles, then increase every third round until I get to the desired circumference (in this case, 60 stitches on size 2 needles). I like it, and I think it will feel better on the toes than the more usual banded toe (here pictured, but since frogged and reknit).

Lead me not into YouTube

One of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life was my friend Russell and his roommate Jim lip-syncing to Whitney and Cissy Houston's duet "I Know Him So Well." There were moments of genius comedy: Jim holding his elbows tight to his sides, clutching the wooden-spoon-microphone, lips quivering artistically; Rus gliding in from stage right, snapping his head forward to fix us with a gaze so serious and earnest it almost read as hostile.

I was reminded of this when I read Sam Anderson's "The Neglected Art of Lip-Syncing" in Slate and followed the links to the work of the Two Chinese Boys. Their performance of "I Want It that Way" is magnificently funny.

I need to stay away from YouTube. If I'm not careful, I will spend all week watching amateur video.

Remember the Jello Obelisk of Sethi's Jubilee from this year's 10 Commandments Party? I've uploaded to YouTube the messy video of it being set into place.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Time to try a cardigan?

You have got to check out brooklyn tweed's amazing Urban Aran Cardigan.

Cardigans never appealed to me, but I think I need to make one of these. Paton should pay him for rights to the alterations and publish it as a separate pattern.

Unfortunately, it's not going to look as good on me. Too bad long, skinny bodies weren't all the rage when I had one.

When it absolutely, positively has to be there at a time convenient to us

What good is a blog if you can't bitch impotently about minor inconveniences?

First, the good news. Verizon doesn't seem to define "family" narrowly, so I upgraded to FamilyShare to combine my wireless bill with Mike's, and added a line (yes, they call them "lines") for his mom. I had the bright idea to get her a Migo since she wouldn't really be able to work the number pad. (Pause while I chuckle at the image of a legally blind senior citizen trying to text message.)

So far so good. Everything transferred fine; I see the two additional numbers in my on-line customer account.

I got home from work yesterday to find a FedEx tag stuck to the door. I can pick up the packages after 5:00 or they'll try to deliver it again on Monday. No problem, I thought, I'll just go pick them up on Saturday.


They're not open on the weekend. I can't imagine why not. I mean, it's perfectly acceptable to me that they won't try to deliver a low priority package on the weekend, but shouldn't I at least be given the option of picking it up?

As Little Edie says, "This is the worst thing to happen ever in the history of America."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wikipedia Birthday Meme

Duffy and Mel have piqued my curiosity, so I'll pass along the Wikipedia Birthday Meme. The chore is to visit Wikipedia, look up your birth month and day (no year), and post three events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that day.

On December 6, we find:

Give it a try. It's harder to narrow down to just three than you might think. And if you're introspective and given to such things, you might wonder what it says about you that you'd choose to list Endora over scientists, artists, religious leaders, and heads of state.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Kakuro: the next level

For the first time last month I saw a sudoku book that also included kakuro puzzles. I was not interested -- "Sudoku with the addition of math? Why would I want to do that?"

Well, I've just now completed my first two kakuro puzzles. The trick seemed to be starting with the places where two squares add up to 3, 4, 16, or 17.

Update: 4:40 pm

OK, now I'm hooked. I bought a book of puzzles from Borders and I've completed the first 9. And the trick isn't just looking for those sets of two that I mentioned before; you really need to be able to recognize the combinations of three numbers that make up 6, 7, 23, & 24. Or the four numbers that will add up to 10, 11, 29, & 30. Or the five numbers that....

Yeah. So I'm probably not going to stay hooked. I can solve the easy puzzles fairly quickly as long as I consult a chart of kakuro blocks first and make notes. If I don't do that, I keep wondering why I can't make 8+3+9 = 21.

Logic is easy. Arithmetic is hard. Still, if this keeps me from getting Alzheimer's disease, it's probably worth the private humiliation of not being able to do 2nd grade math in my head.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!

Mike had enjoyed watching The Ten Commandments at Easter/Passover before I met him, but I think it took the addition of me and our friend Julianna to turn this event into performance art. From the pompous introduction by Cecil B. DeMille to the reference to the Lost Ark of the Covenant at the end, this movie is one, long, participatory celebration for us. We eagerly await our favorite lines, delivered with gusto by this cast of brilliant hams. We cheer as Yul Brynner flourishes his cape, as Anne Baxter slinks and purrs and rages. We love how Charlton Heston over-pronounces his consonants when he says "God" (sounds like "ihGGahDDuh"). By the time we reach the Exodus, we're exhausted from laughter, and we usually watch much of the rest of the movie on fast forward. We pay no attention at all to the actual delivery of the 10 commandments; for us, the movie is effectively over when Rameses returns from the Red Sea, and instead of killing Nefretiri, drops into his throne, and the two stare blankly forward, defeated.

In 1995, Julianna showed up with a theme dessert: a Red Sea of Jello and Cool Whip, parted by a paper Moses standing at one end. The Jello creation immediately became the centerpiece of our holiday tradition. Most of these have been photographed,* so I have used them to create my first Flickr set. The exhibit is best viewed by scrolling to the bottom of the page and working your way up. Enjoy!

*Sadly, no photographic record remains of 2001's creation of the Hounds and Jackals board game, or of 1997, our one departure from "The Ten Commandments" to watch "Ben Hur" (Julianna created, of course, the chariot race in Jello).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Melpomene Socks

In her essay The Knitting Muse, the fabulous Brenda Dayne explores how each of the nine classical Muses watches over our knitting. So today, I want to give a shout out to Melpomene, muse of Tragedy.
She teaches humility, and will give you the courage to rip out large chunks of knitting, and help you appreciate that the best thing about knitting is that most errors are fixable. She wears a raglan garment that is knit from the top down, which she continues to rip out and rework, even as she wears it.
In honor of Melpomene, I wear this tragically ugly sock as I re-knit it.

Don't we experience tragedy because of our hubris? I thought I could cut out the short-row heel pick up the stitches, and knit an afterthought heel with no problem. I should've known better than to tempt the Fates with my o'er-weening pride. The first sock ended up too short, the heel instructions from the KnitPicks pattern resulting in a stunted little heel that clearly will not do.

Something went horribly wrong with picking up heel stitches for the second sock, and I somehow ended up with 70 stitches on my needles (instead of the expected 56). This would've left me with a bizarrely misshapen sock with a hunchback for a heel. Nothing to be done but start over.

But I think good will come of this. A new "Toe-Up Socks" class plan is forming in my head, one without the steep learning curve of my existing class.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another action alert

The Human Right Campaign is alerting its troops that Senator Frist, prompted by Senator Santorum, intends to force a vote on the "Marriage Protection Amendment" in early June. We are all asked to take action.

I did, but I'm tired of this crap. So instead of leaving the HRC boilerplate text, I wrote this:
I have lived with and loved a man for fifteen years. This relationship shapes my life and gives it meaning. I cannot understand why anyone feels that this poses such a threat to the social order that it must be legally negated in the very document that makes our country real.

If my government honestly believes that I should be singled out for discrimination in the Constitution, then I see no choice but to seek citizenship elsewhere. I find this unutterably sad, because I love this country and the Constitutional principles that I believe make it great. I even had hope that the Federal Government would someday undo the discrimination now written into Ohio's Constitution. But a "Marriage Protection Amendment" mocks the call to establish justice and to secure the blessings of liberty. I will truly understand, then, that I am not welcome here.
I don't know which is worse: that our leaders are ignorant bigots, or that they're merely pandering to ignorant bigots to win elections.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Marital status

Back in the 1990's, when I was the manager of the library's children's department, a patron requested that we get the controversial book Daddy's Roommate. There's a picture in the book of the eponymous Daddy and Roommate sitting on the couch, watching TV, with a bowl of popcorn between them. "There," I said. "That's it. That's the real picture of the 'gay lifestyle.' And do you know what's on that TV? Mary Tyler Moore reruns."

Today I bought the third season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show on DVD, and when Amazon offered me a three month trial to their Amazon Prime service, I took them up on it. (I'm not sure it's going to be worth $79 a year, but three months of free two-day shipping? Seems worth a try.) Amazon says the benefit can be shared with "up to four family members living in the same household," so I followed the steps to invite Mike into the service. I was momentarily fearful when I saw I was going to have to label our relationship from a pre-arranged list, but I'm pleased that "Unmarried partner" is one of the options.

I hate forms that ask me for marital status. It's almost never relevant information, and there is seldom a selection that applies. (No, I'm not married; that's unconstitutional. But you can't seriously think I'm single; Mike and I have been together for nearly 16 years.) So hurray for I'm almost grateful enough to pay them the $79 just for this momentary feeling of validation.