Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of touch

Each morning this week, I have had to start the day with a search for the meaning of a word. This morning, it was an acronym in an email message proposing a small group meeting at a conference. "Typical BOF format," the message said. Wikipedia to the rescue:
A BoF session, an informal meet-up at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.
OK, that makes sense, and I sort of picked up on that meaning from the context. But there were no contextual clues for yesterday's vocabulary word.

This is the central panel from Sunday's Unshelved comic. I had to keep staring at it. What is the verb in that sentence? "It's not a word," an IM buddy said. "It's 'pwns.'" So I googled. OK, a gamer thing, so no wonder I didn't recognize it. It seems unlikely to me that a cataloger (a knitting cataloger) would know and use this word casually, but I suppose that's the joke. Still, I found it disconcerting how far I had to go to get a joke written by and largely for members of my profession.

I'm glad I did, though. The Wikipedia entry on pwn is extremely interesting, especially (for me) the bit about pronunciation. It dredged up old graduate school interests* about how Internet communication is in this weird space between the spoken and written word.

* It floors me that crap I wrote on Usenet 14 years ago is out there to be found so easily.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Very early one morning in November 2001, Mike and I went outside to see the Leonid meteor shower. It was cold, and I was just about to head back in when Mike told me to wait, dashed back into the house, and came out with my birthday present: a silver ring with a Tree of Life design from the Abacus galleries in Maine. I'd loved these rings since the first time saw them, and it obviously meant a lot getting one from Mike (not just buying it for myself). For Christmas, I bought him one of the My Beloved rings in Hebrew that he liked in the "Signals" catalog.

One weekend this summer, when I got home from some outing I don't even remember, I took the ring off and stepped into the shower. I never saw it again.

I don't know if it fell down the bathroom sink, or got brushed into the trash while one of us was tidying the kitchen. I don't even remember where I took it off and set it down -- only that it wasn't on the nightstand where it normally is when I'm not wearing it. I knew it was missing within a day, but it was at least week before I could tell anyone except Mike that I thought it was gone. I felt its loss every morning when it wasn't there to put on when I got dressed.

It wasn't just something I could replace. A new ring would just remind me that I'd lost the old one. And besides, the artist had stopped making them (that's why the link above is to the pendant version of the design -- I can't find a picture of the ring). I'd thought maybe I would get a ring to match Mike's, but Mike came up with a better idea. When we were in Maine last week, we found a few remaining rings in the Abacus store in Portland's Old Port. They actually fit us (better than our old rings, in fact) and Mike suggested we replace mine and get a matching one for him.

He is a wonderful, wonderful man. He turned what could have been just a sad reminder of what a careless idiot I am into a joyous new symbol of why I love him.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair

The OSU Theater Department was performing Hair this past week. The production was pretty good, but the show, as you might expect, hasn't aged well. Meredith Lark (Sheila -- "Easy to Be Hard") and Jessica Podewell (Jeanie -- "Let the Sunshine In") were fantastic. But overall, rather than it being this groundbreaking, almost dangerous expression of youth identity and rebellion, it was more like some fairly engaging kids dressing up in their grandparents' clothes and playing hippie.

My biggest problem were the wigs. When people are celebrating their hair, they shouldn't be so obviously worried that it will fall off if they move too wildly. Most of the guys looked really uncomfortable.

You know what would work better? Not making it a period piece. Originally, "Hair" was like being in the presence of people "freaking out in the Village -- with music" (critic Leigh Carey wrote in "Rolling Stone"). I'd like to see college students making "Hair" their own, with their own hair. The themes are still relevant: racism, crushing inhibitions, the hypocrisy of euphemism, free but nevertheless unrequited love, the search (perhaps pharmaceutically-fueled) for meaning and spirit, and the very real threat of being sent to die for the society you're trying to reject. I'd like to see the students celebrating who they think they are, rather than celebrating with ironic distance who a previous generation thought they were.

(I should mention the lighting design. It was Jason "Scotty" Banks' MFA project, and it was stunning.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chain Reaction

There are times that I think the only reason we have cable is for GSN. We watched nearly every episode of What's My Line and got hooked on Lingo (we still miss Stacey and haven't accepted Shandi into our hearts). Now our DVR is set to record every episode of Chain Reaction.

The "Battle of the Sexes" format is odd, and occasionally the players have too much personality, but the game is fun to watch and play. And host Dylan Lane is a cutie pie.

You can play along with GSN shows while they're on the air, but I am perfectly content never watching TV shows at the time they're broadcast. WordLab (download or play online) is similar to Lingo, and I just discovered that GSN has a Shockwave version of Chain Reaction.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Problem with Sock Wars

I got the Socks-of-Doom-in-Progress for my next victim, and have discovered yet another troubling fact of Sock Wars -- it's hard to knit like another person.

I received in the mail one completed sock, and a few inches of its mate. Tension was really loose on the completed sock (looser than the pattern calls for), and I had to go up three needle sizes to try to match. Nevertheless, when I was complete, this was the result:

My sock, the one on the left, is clearly smaller than the original sock.

I'm not sure what to do. This is a sloppy kill, and I think it would be bad form to just send these on and call myself the victor. I think I should try to knit a third sock, maybe unraveling the first sock to create a better fit? [Update from later in the evening: that's what I've done, begun working on a third sock out of this yarn so that my victim will get two socks of the same size.]

The yarn, by the way, is Lion Brand Magic Stripes, superwash wool and nylon, doubled. It horrified me when I first saw it, but it ultimately wasn't too bad. I had to do some fiddling, however, to try and make the self-striping do its work. In this picture you can see several places where I had to adjust one strand to get the color to match up on the other strand.

Morning Project

Woke up early this morning, the night's post-nasal drip threatening to make me cough and wake up Mike, so I decided to walk to Starbucks and get some coffee. And because I need to get exercise, I took the long way around, getting in a short 1.33 mile hike.

Nifty little map, huh? I made it at CommunityWalk. I've linked the picture to the map, where I might experiment with adding notes you don't care about, like exactly where the Starbucks is, where I cut through a Self-Storage parking lot because the road doesn't really go where the map indicates, and where the AOL people won't let me walk through their parking lot around the picturesque lake, making me have to walk in the wet grass in front of their building or try to dash across Henderson Road to stay on the sidewalk.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cool Kids

One day last year, I got an instant message from one of the young luminaries of the library world. I felt very much as if the leader of the cool kids had just smiled and said "Hi" to me in the hall. I've just had that feeling again: Franklin liked my socks.

I like being liked. I may say that popularity doesn't matter much to me, but that's self-delusion. I crave being part of a group, and I thrive on the approval of others. Like Eve says, "If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights and wrapping you up. To know, every night, that different hundreds of people love you. They smile, and their eyes shine. You've pleased them. They want you. You belong. Just that alone is worth anything."

Belong. What a powerful word. Belong not to a person ("Belong to you? That sounds medieval, something out of an old melodrama."), but to a group ("She has had one wish, one prayer, one dream -- to belong to us.")

That's me: Yves Harrington.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


My doctor has told me something I already know: I should exercise more. This is what I prefer to do, but it's tough to squeeze this in 4 times a week.

What is it? The output from S.'s GPS on the 4.5 mile hike we took today in John Bryan State Park near Yellow Springs.

I will always choose to live in a city or suburbs, but I really do miss having woods to walk through in my backyard.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Toe-up Sock Patterns

Bibliography of Toe-Up Sock Patterns

Wendy Johnson's Generic Toe-Up Sock Pattern
Uses short-row heels and toes, like my pattern. A similar, but more detailed pattern, the Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula, was created by Amy Swenson for Knitty.com.

Kim Salazar's Sock Patterns
Salazar's method creates a toe that is more like the one you see in top-down socks. Many people prefer it, because there are no loops on the inside.

Judy Gibson's "You're Putting Me On" Socks
This was the first toe-up sock pattern I ever encountered, and it's a good one. Its one flaw is that you pick up stitches under the heel, and you can feel that ridge when wearing them. But the gussets help improve the fit for some people.

Brook Chenoweth Creel's Widdershins Socks
Very similar to Gibson's pattern. Heel is better, but trickier. To see how much trickier, check out Creel's blog. I recommend Mel Vassey's generic version of Widdershins since it's adaptable to different sizing options

Kelly Petkun's Two at Once, Toe-Up Sock
This sock uses an "Afterthought Heel," which is extremely easy and very attractive with self-patterning sock yarns. However, I think the heel cup in these instructions is too shallow. Dawn Brocco's adaption fits much better.

Mary Lycan's Sherman Sock
Another short row heel method, using stitch "encroachment." I don’t care for the final product, but it's worth trying for yourself. As with Widdershins, I recommend Mel Vassey's Sherman Sock Pictorial.

Strong Heel Socks
Published in Knitter's (72, Fall 2003). A toe-up variation is used in these patterns:

Short Rows
There are many methods for closing the gaps that form when you knit short rows. VĂ©ronik Avery wrote a great article for Interweave Knits (Winter 2004, p96) that describes them in detail. I thought the Japanese Method -- using a safety pin to mark the turning yarn -- looked the best, but all those pins hanging there make it cumbersome to do. Some online instructions:

Other Toes

Thanks to Gerry for suggesting that I take this section of my class handout and post it separately.

Revised May 20, 2007