Tuesday, June 27, 2006

But I wanted to be Wonder Woman

Your results:
You are Superman

You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

(In point of fact, it's a tie between Superman and Spider-Man. I took the test again to see if I could get my Wonder Woman score up -- or at least my Green Lantern score -- and ended up 70% Superman. Must be the cape).

Fibonnaci Socks

As Jerry mentioned, I started a pair of socks for my mom at XY Knitting last week. She'd asked for socks with contrasting toes and heels. So I bought some Plymouth Encore to make purple socks with yellow toes.

The socks were proceeding nicely, but they just looked so boring. So I decided to copy Hugh Mannity's idea and add some accent stripes at fibonacci-inspired intervals.

I'm generally pleased. I've mostly hidden the color jogs on the accent stripes (if you expand the picture, you might be able to spot them). Those accents look a little wonky when the ribbing starts, but not bad enough to frog back.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Mike and his former roommate coined the term PRAM -- perfectly responsive audience member. They used it pejoratively for someone who laughed at stupid, obvious jokes, got choked up over manipulative sentiment, cheered for unearned victories, etc.

But I think it's important to be a PRAM. Performances require good audiences. The energy of appreciation provides fuel to the live performer. I've seen professional productions of the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood fall flat because the audience was too passive, while an amateur production came together brilliantly through the willingness of the audience. But it's not just about audience-participation shows like Drood or even live performances of any kind: books and movies are better when you put yourself in the spot of the intended reader or viewer. That role may not be to your taste; I'm not interested in being the intended audience for the latest Adam Sandler movie, but if I were forced to see it, I would certainly hate it less if I met it on its own terms.

Today I'm celebrating Gay Pride by being a good parade watcher. I've thought about being in the parade (I'd love to get a group of librarians together to do a Book Cart Drill Team routine). But I get a bigger kick out of cheering. I'll meet family and friends downtown later this morning. We'll try to stake out the front window of Barley's, drink lots of good beer, and then go outside and watch the parade. Despite the heat, Mary will have her rainbow boa (yesterday she referred to it as a "down jacket, inside out") and I will have my bubble machines. And if I can find some at the drug store, I want to bring little bottles of sunscreen to give to the go-go boys and topless lesbians.

Post-Parade Update, 3:30 pm

No problem getting the front table at Barley's. (We've had trouble with this in past, since the restaurant doesn't take reservations, but staff members have reserved the table some years). Some of the bubble guns wouldn't blow, but the Turbo Bubble Generator I bought last year was a huge hit (as was my "I'm a librarian. Don't make me shush your ass" shirt). I ended up giving the bubble machine away. There were people with air horns following the homophobic Christian protestors, blowing the horns every time the protestors got on their bull horns. I gave them the bubble machine in exchange for the promise to keep blowing bubbles on the fundies until they left. (Reviews of these types of machines suggest that they don't last long anyway).

I didn't find sample-sized sunblock, but I did buy some of the new Coppertone aerosol, which is a great product. (Yes, I'm keenly aware of the irony that the reason we all need to wear sunscreen all the time is because we've depleted the ozone layer by using aerosols). I couldn't get close enough to the people who needed it, however. Next year, we need samples to throw out to people (I'm surprised companies haven't thought of this already). And many more bubble machines.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

I love how the stories of science can sound like myth. DarkSyde writes in Daily Kos (it's worth quoting extensively):
A billion years ago our home planet was unrecognizable. On land there was virtually nothing but barren rock, scoured by howling wind and pelting rain. The air was a poisonous yellow-orange haze of nitrogen and carbon compounds with only the barest presence of free oxygen. But the oceans bloomed colorfully with swarms of single-celled critters. It was the golden age the of Proterozoic Eon, a world ruled by microscopic creatures of dazzling diversity.

Some zipped around like tiny jet aircraft, powered through the viscous media by rows of cilia or a single whip-like flagella. Others lazily poured themselves into one advancing pseudopodia after another, moving and engulfing their prey like the blob. A few found safety in numbers and grouped in bulky mats, preserved to this day as stromatolites. And here and there, perhaps a handful had organized into groups of burgeoning specialized cells--the first metazoans. But there's an even more exciting change in the works and it will become all the rage: We're talking 'bout sex!
It goes on to talk about the evolution of sexual reproduction and the creation of dads. Like a Walt Whitman poem, the essay takes us from the dawn of life on the planet to the life of DarkSyde's own dad.

I miss my dad. It's been nearly 25 years since he died of a heart attack while fighting a fire. I've lived more of my life without him than with him, and yet, I can't write these sentences without being overtaken by sadness. I was glad to read that the volunteer fire department he gave his life to has a strong leader and hope for the future, but that news, on this weekend of this particular year, makes it hard for me to stay ahead of the grief I've spent most of my life trying to outrun.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Head Hugger Hat

A friend recently told me she no longer has to fix her hair, having lost it to chemotherapy. We're not close, but I care about her a lot, and wanted to make her a hat. One of my favorite patterns is Danny Oulette's Easy Head-Hugger Hat.

Noro Silk Garden
This is a bit too big, but I think it can be washed and blocked to a smaller size.

Top viewDespite the name "easy," the pattern has some tricky elements. I never have mastered the technique of grafting it together at the end, so there is a seam.

The pillbox/fez shape isn't to everyone's taste, but I think it will suit her. I hope she likes it. She's an amazing woman, and she's beat cancer before. I'm confident she can do it again.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Martha's Vineyard Socks

Last fall, Sarah and Joe brought me some yarn they picked up on their vacation on Martha's Vineyard. It was locally produced, and came with no label. I liked it, but I've had a lot of trouble making it into something. I first tried a Matt Shepard scarf but it felt too stiff. Then I tried iPod mittens, but I had trouble controlling the gauge.

Yes, it shows a severe lack of imagination, but of course, in the end, the yarn became socks.

Plain, thick, brown, wool socks. Knit toe-up with a star toe and PGR heel. Circumference is 42 stitches, so that took a bit of thought on the heel (I don't usually work heels on an odd number) and on the ribbing, since 42 isn't divisible by 4. The ribbing is K2, P1, K2, P2. Neat effect.

The socks were intended for Joe, but I incorrectly guessed that his feet were the same size as mine, and these will be too small for him. If I pick out and reknit the toe, I can make the sock shorter to fit Sarah. Or I could keep them for myself. These ~are~ kind of a cruel gift: socks that have to be hand-washed and laid flat to dry.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


A couple years ago when stuff was stressing me out, I ran across the notion of "mindfulness meditation" as stress-reliever. Mike and I signed up for a 6 week course at WiseWays, and I did some reading about mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism.

I like meditation, but I don't regularly practice. I like that, at the core, nothing is really required but attention to the present. Our teacher would spread a cloth and lay out an altar with a stone, a candle, a small dish of water, and some sage. Nice props which appealed to my inner Wiccan, but mindfulness meditation doesn't need them. It doesn't need fancy postures, special pillows, mantras, or mandalas. It doesn't need faith, scripture, dogma, clergy, the divine feminine, or the crucified Lord. All that is required is attention to the breath and to the present moment, which is by its nature manifested here and now.

So of course, I did like Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs. Since reading Franklin's post about how Buddhist practice has been subtly enriching his everyday life, I've been thinking I should set aside some time to breath, and maybe re-read Batchelor's book. I periodically look around to see if he's written anything else, and I'm happy to have discovered that Stephen Batchelor now has a blog. In his initial post, he says, "The view of reality disclosed through the natural sciences evokes feelings of awe incomparably greater than anything religious or mystical writings of any tradition can inspire." I can dig it.