Sunday, January 27, 2008


February 1990 was a very frustrating part of my life. My wheels were spinning. My Master's thesis was overdue but stalled, and it was blocking me from moving on in my studies. Although I lived with two other grad school guys, I felt lonelier than when I lived alone (loneliness without solitude). I was certainly on the point of admitting I was gay, but I had no idea how to begin to come out. And it was February in Ohio. Bleah.

Late in the month, an otherwise unremarkable "Calvin & Hobbes" cartoon was published with a panel that spoke directly to me. I cut it out and stuck it to my monitor. I've carried from job to job an enlarged but abridged version: "Why do things have to be this way? Why can't things be different?"

Periodically, I have a pang of grief over how much I miss "Calvin & Hobbes." When this happens, I might re-read all the books, troll the web for news and nostalgia, or change my IM avatar to that little picture of Calvin throwing an existential temper tantrum.

On one such occasion, I read that a comic called Frazz had a similar visual style, and I've been reading it ever since. I encourage you to check it out. I really liked today's comic. It's smart, and expects a lot out of the reader, referencing this classic Charles Addams piece.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My contributions to the bacterial apocalypse

Exactly two weeks ago, I came down with a cold. Sore throat, headache, cough. So that I wouldn't keep Mike awake, I slept on the couch. I took Friday off sick from work. Better Saturday, but worse Sunday. I tried to go into work on Monday, but went home after half a day. Feeling worse, I took Tuesday off too.

Wednesday I went to UrgentCare for them to confirm that it really was just a cold. Doctor said it probably was, but if I wasn't getting better in a few days, get a Z-Pak prescription filled. Also, here's some cough syrup with codeine. Increasingly miserable, I slept in the bed and Mike gallantly took the couch.

Thursday morning my eyelid was matted shut with pus from conjunctivitis. I took another day off.

Friday morning, I had an appointment to get blood drawn at my doctor's office. As soon as that was done, I passed out. (Well...almost. It was touch and go). After the dizziness and nausea passed, I elected to take yet another day off work. I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home, and started taking the antibiotics. That night, I finally began feeling better.

Did I need the antibiotics? Probably not. The whole thing was probably viral, and I've just helped create more drug-resistant bacteria.

The coda to this tale of antibiotic abuse: this week, I took Dodger to the vet because he has recurring upper respiratory infections. His doctor has put him on antibiotics too, probably long term.

A few things I learned over the course of this:
  • Even though DayQuil, TheraFlu, and such medicines no longer have pseudoephedrine in theme, you can easily replicate the effects by taking the old active ingredients directly: Sudafed, Tylenol, Robitussin DM. At night, add some Benadryl.
  • Robitussin started to make me sick, so I switched to vodka, which worked better.
  • It's enormously comforting to pop in a DVD of a television series and just select "Play All." In this way, I've watch two seasons of Arrested Development and reacquainted myself with Firefly and Wonderfalls.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Years Knitting

I began 2007 by casting on for a New Year Sweater, which I think makes a great tradition. Here's the 2008 New Year Sweater in progress:

It's another seamless hybrid pullover. I'm using Plymouth Tweed yarn. Once again, inspired by Brooklyn Tweed, I'm adding some accent ribbing on the sides. I think I'll rib the top of the sleeves too.

In sock news, the theme for January is pink, a color my mom had specifically requested. I had some pink/blue/purple striped cotton Sockotta in my stash, so I cranked out these.

I decided to try following the Queen Kahuna method to the letter. Pretty good results. Mom likes them, but they're not sufficiently pink, so she bought me a skein of Sea Wool, a blend of merino and Seacell.

I'm using the Coriolis pattern from New Pathways, and it's going very well. Love the yarn, love the needles (a new set of KnitPicks), love the pattern. The trick for me is to remember that both Queen Kahuna and Cat Bordhi socks will get 50% bigger, so I need to plan for that and start them a bit smaller than I would for Simple Socks with short-row heels.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Staple Free

Back in 1990, I stumbled upon a fun store in San Francisco that specialized in products for the newly revitalized ecology movement. (Remember 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth?) I bought a reusable linen coffee filter -- for years, I drank coffee that tasted like a t-shirt -- and a set of paper stencils and glow-in-the-dark paint to put an astronomically accurate map of the night sky on my ceiling. The store also had a really cool paper fastener, which punched and folded tabs on your papers to hold them together without staples. I was a grad student and the stencil was setting me back $25, so I didn't buy one. But then later, when I had money, I couldn't find one.

Then last weekend, I found this as in impulse item while waiting in line at the Container Store. I bought two. It only fastens 5 sheets of paper, but it's just so cool. It punches a little tab and slit in your paper, folds the tab back, and tucks it into the slit. Other models are available at the manufacturer, Made By Humans.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 in review

My best guess is that I knit 17 pairs of socks in 2007 (and the 3 single socks pictured here which probably will not get mates). While that's fewer than in 2006, they show a lot of experimentation. I figured out how to add gussets to improve the fit of short-row socks, and I worked out a modification that I really like for Judy Gibson's You're Putting Me On socks. I find myself turning more and more often to Bordhi and Beattie's books for inspiration. And ever since Mel wrote those bang-up instructions for the Sherman Heel, my devotion to the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts method has ebbed.

More notably, I made two successful sweaters: the red, seamless hybrid EPS and the green Cobblestone. And this is the year that I finally began to build a stash. (Damn you, Knitters' Market).

I read 48 books last year, a 65% improvement over last year. That's still far from my high point in 1999, when I recorded 92 books for the year (I learned to knit Thanksgiving 1999; the drop-off in reading has a clear explanation). The combination of working around books again and the continued presence of the LibraryThing widget shaming me from over there on the right keeps my numbers high. Still, they'd be higher if it weren't for knitting, Sudoku/Kakuro, and the Nintendo DS.

I saw 23 movies in theaters last year. My favorites were:
  • Breach. I love me some Laura Linney.
  • Grindhouse. Mike and I argued for weeks. He said the Quentin Tarantino half was better; I argued that there is no such thing as "half." But he was right.
  • Ratatouille. I love Brad Bird's work. Iron Giant is one of my favorite films. Bird's themes tread a thin path through Ayn Rand territory, but he makes it work for me.
  • No Country for Old Men. The story arc is flawed and unsatisfying, but the Coen brothers are at that the top of their game. They play the tension in a scene like it's a piece of music. It's just a shame that that tension has nowhere to go.
  • I saw one movie in a theater twice: The Simpsons Movie.
My best theater experiences of the year were for the Vamp and Camp Double Feature of "Cobra Woman" and "She Done Him Wrong," and for the documentary ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway. The double feature was held in the crowded Ohio Theater, while "ShowBusiness" was shown at the Frontier Cafe, in a small, digital theater that my sister and I had all to ourselves.