Thursday, August 31, 2017

Furballs, Including My Own

I went a'visiting tonight!

I saw a pig, and took a picture. Pigture?
(Actually, I saw two pigs, but only got a photo of one.)

I was inspected. Sniff, sniff, sniff.
I was listened to.
And invited to admire a belly.
"Admire it!"
Up close and furry.
When I got home, I had to deal with someone whose nose was out of joint.
He purred very loudly, though, so I think I am forgiven.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ups and Downs

I would say that my mental state is better after a quiet evening last night, getting things done (though it inexplicably took a long time to fall asleep; I felt relaxed, so I don't know why that was), and an uneventful day, enlivened by the usual editor things (I'm pretty sure that you meant irritable bowel there, not irritable dowel...). But tonight I heard about a friend's bad news, and it has me down a bit. (Not "Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston" bad, but pretty awful.)

So, not bringing the funny tonight. Or much of anything, really.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


It hasn't been the greatest day. And believe me, I say that with the full awareness that for people in the storm-slammed area, my day, when I am dry and safe and have all my loved ones and possessions, is something they would love to have. Awareness of the awful, terrible storm and what it is doing is contributing to my mood, really.

(There are many suggestions for donating to help, if you are in the position to do so, and if you are, even a few dollars helps. I went with two that a friend suggested, Portlight Strategies [which helps the disabled] and the Texas Diaper Bank [which, you can guess].)

But it also wasn't a great day in more mundane ways. (I mean, honestly, yesterday was better, and that included a checkup at the gynecologist, so. If that doesn't speak volumes.)
  • Started the day with a minor work disappointment.
  • Went on to a still-minor (unrelated) work you-can't-do-that, how can you think you can do that.
  • And just at that moment, I was told of a work-related annoyance-thing in a way that really, really annoyed me; it was one of those times when I'm glad to work from home, as I could loudly blow my top until I could calm down enough to act* like a team player in electronic communication. I mean, I get that it could have been worse, but the fact that you're "thrilled" that it isn't makes me doubt your sanity, boss.
  • At around the same time, the nearby roadwork started repaving near me. For several minutes, my building and everything in it (including my head) was rattling. Even once they moved down the street, the smell of fresh asphalt coming in the window turned my stomach.
  • So it wasn't all that surprising that midday, I got one of the rare-to-me migraine auras, and spent an entertaining half hour or so trying to see, in order to work. (Fortunately for me, not only do I not get them often, but as long as I quickly take some excedrin, they will typically go away in under an hour, rather than leading to disaster. But it is like trying to look at something after someone took your photo with a flash, times 1000.)
  • And of course, it being mostly cloudy, and not hitting 70 degrees, never helps my mood.
*My dad used to say, "The key to success is sincerity; learn to fake that and you've got it made." He would laugh, but he was only sort of kidding, you know?

So, since my head is better but my stomach is still rolling, I gave myself permission not to go to swimming tonight. I will do a few things around the house, and get to bed early, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dryer, Dumped: Baffling, Mysterious, Resolved

On Thursday, I was sitting at my desk, working, with the window open. I didn't get up the minute I heard a vehicle outside, but after a minute, I heard an odd sound that I couldn't quite figure out, so I went and looked. (Just call me Gladys Kravitz.) There was a red SUV in front of the building, engine running, and a woman had the back end open and was pulling something large out. I went through three stages as I watched:

  1. What on earth is that?
  2. It's a clothes dryer?! Isn't she afraid of damaging it by dropping it? I expect they aren't really all that heavy, but it looks so awkward for one person to move.
  3. (As she got it to the ground, and started shimmying it closer to the sidewalk.) Hey, she's leaving it there, isn't she? I mean, she isn't from my building, and if she was going across the street, she'd have a cart or a dolly, or ... I can't believe she's dumping a dryer outside my door!

By the time I realized the truth, I didn't have time to grab a camera, but I tried to read her plate number (which I couldn't clearly see, due to the angle from the second floor) and hurried to write it down before I forgot. Meanwhile, she got in the car and drove away. Well!

I wasn't sure if the police would/could do anything if I called (the non-emergency number, obviously), but in the end* I did call them, and the officer was very nice. Unfortunately, the plate I thought I got did not come up for him, but he said he would call the DPW and see about having someone come out to get the dryer. I told him that I would appreciate it, and that I just couldn't believe someone would do that, and he said people do it all the time. Which I agreed was true, but that as a rule-follower myself, I just can't understand it, though of course his job would be easier if everyone followed the rules. He laughed and said actually, he probably wouldn't have a job in that case!
*After putting the question to Facebook, and emailing the property manager for her opinion.

(Later, I thought about the couch that was dumped across the street, was that last winter? I assumed at the time that it was someone in that apartment building who dumped it ... but I suppose it could have been anyone.)

I made a note to tell the blog about it, and hadn't gotten to it when, this afternoon, I heard a noise outside and looked out to see a man loading it into a pickup truck. It wasn't a DPW vehicle, though I suppose it still could have been them. Probably not on a Sunday, though; perhaps it was just a rover looking for scrap metal. Which would be great! Usually you have to pay them to take things, so I am not complaining. It's just weird and inexplicable, on top of weird and inexplicable.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Good Week, But Busy

It has been a good week, but a busy one; even when it's all good things, I'm not actually fond of weeks when I'm out every night (even if they're not all late nights; I really need my recharge time). For that matter, Carlos isn't fond of it when I'm out that much, either! Still, it happens sometimes, and it works out.

  • Monday: The usual, meaning the chiropractor and stitch and bitch. 
  • Tuesday: Swim class, and a stop at the grocery store.
  • Wednesday: Errand, and went to a vigil my town had (against hate, the whole mess in Charlottesville, etc.). 
  • Thursday: After an errand, out to dinner and a movie with a friend. We saw Wonder Woman (which was good!) in Arlington, which is one of those places that I think of as being farther away from me than it really is. Even in rush hour, the drive over wasn't that bad (though there was a long stretch where every traffic light I came to turned red, which was annoying). We had dinner at Otto, which was yummy, and I did some shopping at Maxima, a quirky little store that is great for killing a little time, and finding things you didn't know that you (or someone else) needed.
  • Friday: Free Shakespeare in the Park! Hamlet, outside Assembly Row (a shopping area in Somerville). They do a different play every summer, and I haven't gone to one before (getting me into Boston is like pulling teeth), but this year it's my favorite, and when I checked the locations, there it was! Decently close to me! And they did a really good job, too. (And fortunately for me, I had checked the weather, and knew to wear jeans and sneakers and layers; August or no, it got quite chilly, and there was a little breeze off the water, too.)
Then there was the trip to the vet this morning to have Carlos weighed. I thought that perhaps, since he hates the car so much, he wouldn't mind walking (me walking and carrying him in the carrier, that is), but in fact he wasn't too happy with that, either. And I got quite the workout! But it was good news: he put on three ounces in 7 weeks. Anything up is good, but I honestly was hoping for it to go up by one, maybe. Three is excellent! They do want us to go back in a while and recheck, but sufficient unto the day is the worry thereof.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Not Just Any Water Bottle

On Sunday, when I was out with my friends, one of them bought a special water bottle, an enormous one, for her sister, who is pregnant and supposed to be extra-careful about staying hydrated. She was pleased to have found it, as it's the same brand of bottle she has herself, one I had never heard of*, called Corkcicle, and the idea is that a cold drink really stays cold in it--as in, ice won't melt in a hot car all day long, etc. Supposedly, the effects last for 25 hours. And truly leak-proof, and no condensation on the outside, also supposedly.
*Not that that means anything; but I do appreciate a recommendation from someone I trust.

At the time she bought the bottle for her sister, I was drinking something I had just bought because, though I still had water with me, I needed something cold. And later, when she showed us her own bottle, I was drinking my own, now-warm water*. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I was interested enough to order a Corkcicle bottle to try for myself.
*I still do like my Tervis water bottle, it's cute and it doesn't do a bad job. But the ice melts well before the end of the day, that's for certain.

I went through Amazon, since it was cheaper for me (and faster) with Prime than through the company's website*, and it arrived on Wednesday. (I got the blue one, of course.) I really like that, instead of being perfectly round, it is flat on two sides, which makes it easier to hold. It's a large bottle, and if round would be a challenge to pick up easily (at least with my hands), but the flat sides help.
*Even with the 20% intro coupon they offer; if you don't have Prime, YMMV.
At that point, I was ready to have some nerdy fun with it!

Test One: I filled it with ice and cold water Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday morning, there was still ice in the bottle, and the water was (duh) still very cold.

Test Two: I put in a bit more ice, to make up for the water I had drunk in my first testing, and at 9 Thursday morning, put the bottle in the car for the day. At 9 Thursday night, so that's after 12 hours in the car on a hot day, there was still ice clinking. Friday morning, I poured out the contents into a glass, and there was still ice; not a ton, but still. Ice, 23 hours later. Color me impressed.

One thing to note is that the opening of this size bottle, the 25 oz. (and also, I believe, the smaller ones), does not fit regular-size ice cubes (though my friend mentioned that the enormous bottle she got for her sister does). I found that by filling the ice tray about halfway, I got smaller cubes that did fit. If you have an ice-maker in your fridge that will crush ice, I imagine that would work, along with some kind of funnel. If I decide I like the bottle, and will be using it a lot, I can also get the kind of ice-cube trays that make ice better shaped for water bottles (like this one [there are many different kinds and brands, but I'm guessing that Oxo's would be well made, which isn't always the case with others]).

For that matter, if I really like the bottle, they make a 9-ounce and a 16-ounce size, which I may decide I want (one or both) for more everyday-but-not-all-day hydration. The one I got is large, and when full is somewhat heavy. This is not a surprise, but still a factor to consider.

Do I need other sizes? No, but sometimes a little fun money is well spent.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Of Books and Audiobooks

I am delighted that goosefairy wants the copy of Vanity Fair I offered up; putting the right book in the hands of the right person is so satisfying. Normally, my book-matchmaking is more like when I tell a friend with compatible tastes that I've read something they're going to love (like Nevermoor, which I immediately told a certain friend about, as well as generally recommending it), but this is good, too. I do love old books, and couldn't bear the thought of throwing this lovely copy to the winds of fate, simply because I don't want to read it again.

Next: Just in case any of you know someone* who has any pull at Audible, I'm spreading the word that I really want them to make book five of the Raksura series by Martha Wells, Harbors of the Sun, available along with the first four books of the series.
*Or know someone who knows someone ... and so on

I have been greatly enjoying listening to them--it makes me slow down, unlike when I race through the print version because I Have To Know What Happens, and I catch much more detail--but when I got book four, I realized that book five isn't there, oh noes, and according to the author (who responded to my plaint on Twitter), "As far as I know, there's no plans yet to do an audiobook for 5. Absolutely nothing I can do about it." (I was delighted that she replied to me, and I do understand it isn't up to her, but still, sad news.)

It's probably quite the long shot, if not Powerball odds, but I decided an all-channels* message couldn't hurt. Put it out to the universe, see if anything comes of it.
*Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blog, and email to Audible. What else?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fun with Friends

I didn't take many photos on Sunday, when I was down in southern New England (Mass/RI) with friends; I spent most of the time basking in the wonderful day, not commemorating it, which is how it should be, sometimes anyway. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and a good group of friends with compatible ideas about spending the time.

I did get a few shots, though. The view from the restaurant where we ate lunch.
Seen in a cheese shop: Single Malt Scotch flavored caramels. I can't decide if my father would have been intrigued or repulsed.
Beach view.
I was trying to catch the light through the breaking waves.
And didn't really get it, but look: action shots! See the wave breaking.
A fun car in the parking lot, leaving the beach.
In general, I am not a fan of getting home late on a Sunday, but once in a while, it is totally worth it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Love Vanity Fair? No, the Other One

I've been going over my bookshelves recently, pulling out more that I can live without having in the house (or paying to move to Florida and put in storage for a while), and I snagged on this one.
It's a beautiful copy of Vanity Fair, by Thackeray, and it was published in 1884. Just 133 years ago. It feels good in the hand, if you know what I mean.
It's not in perfect shape; for instance, the first little section has separated from the binding.
The back binding is slightly cracked, too. 
But overall, it's in remarkably good shape for its age. (133 years!)
The thing is, while I have read it, I don't love the story. I don't want to keep it for what's in it. But I can't stand to throw it into the donate pile; I want it to go right to someone who would love to have it.

Is that you? Let me know!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Knit Details

As I mentioned, I made/am making some baby things, for a friend of a friend. I promised details, so here we go.

I pulled out some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky that I had on hand (stashing for the win), and got hatting. First, the Close Knit Tiny Baby Hat.
(All pictures are before washing.)

It came out pretty cute, I think. I did a bit more I-cord at the top, in order to tie it off that way.

I also wanted to do a ribbed hat, since they're so nice and stretchy for varying sizes of heads, so I cast on a Little Boy Blue Baby Hat in the same yarn. The first version was too big: I could tell about an inch into it, and when I pulled it off the needles, I found I could stretch it over MY head! That was 64 stitches, so I tried again with 44, which worked much better.
In fact, it was perhaps a little on the small side, and not quite as stretchy as I was hoping for. So I cast on for another, with 48 stitches, and on size 9 needles instead of 7s. I like it better, and it gives the parents more flexibility.
Meanwhile, I dug around in my stash for some yarn I remembered having, that I got at Webs a few years back. It was marked way down because of having parted from the labels, but it's a good match for Ella Rae Amity, so I decided it was as close to worsted weight as makes no nevermind, and cast on a Hoodie Baby Blanket. I'm doing in in garter, not stockinette or anything more patterned, just a simple striped blanket.
I like how it's coming out, and am having fun deciding when to switch colors back and forth. I'll have to get more pictures: it's much bigger now, and the "wrong" side is as fun as the front!

Friday, August 18, 2017

I Just Can't

Tomorrow, there is a "Free Speech" rally/thing in Boston, which would normally sound like a good thing, right? but in this case means something like what happened in Charlottesville last weekend. They don't mean what I do by free speech. Nazis. Consider my mind blown.

Which further means that various groups are getting together to counter-protest, and I've been back-and-forthing in my mind all week about going.

The thing is, with all the other marches and rallies I've been to this year (women's, anti-immigration ban, trans rights, science), I've felt like I should go, emphasis on the "felt." I wasn't really able to articulate why, not clearly, even to myself; it just felt in each case like something I wanted to do (even if I didn't want them to be necessary in the first place).

In this case, the emphasis feels different. I feel like maybe I ought to go, or ought to want to go, but ... oh, words are failing me, I hate that. I keep thinking about this, and my thinking doesn't come out any clearer than it did days ago.

It isn't even just that some idiot* could run his car into the crowd**. There's the possibility of violence, and conflict, neither of which I am comfortable with (there's white privilege; I get to decide if I'm comfortable with it). Perhaps it's partly the confusion, the arguments for going (stand up to them) and not going (don't give them the attention they want), even for standing up to them with humor***.
*"Idiot" isn't enough of a word, but I can't come up with one word to encompass that.
**I think Boston is going to be pretty prepared to shut things down. Not saying "it can't happen here," not at all, but still.
***How in the world, in 2017, in the New York Times, is there actually an article headlined "How to Make Fun of Nazis"? How is this reality?

I can't make this coherent. I'm going to put it up as is. Sometimes that's all I can do.

I got an email from the ACLU about tomorrow, and they had this photo at the top.
I put it up on Facebook, and a friend said she had seen one like it in the area, but that it concluded with "WATER IS WET"; I have to get me one of those.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Voices From the Past

Boing Boing shared an old story from the news in 1999, when recordings made in the 1940s had been digitized, so that interviews with people who were once slaves could be heard again.

Amazing, and chilling.

It reminds me of three things. One is of what I wrote about recently, about going to the MFA to see the exhibit of photos from a Nazi ghetto in WWII, and how, well, moving it was to see the photographer and his wife in the video, not just the still photos but the real people, moving.

Second, a video I saw on Facebook recently, showing people walking around England in 1900, and how much more real they seemed, in motion, than still photos can convey.

And third, something that happened to me many years ago, when I lived in Charlotte, and I had one of those NPR driveway moments, sitting in my car to hear the end of a piece. It was part of a series called Lost and Found Sound, and was a recording of a man who had, as a child, heard Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address.

All these years later, I still get chills when I think of it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seeing the Unexpected

This morning in the shower, I noticed that my new bottle of shampoo needs a translator.
When I bought it, I only read the big print, but see underneath?
That is ... not English.
Polish, maybe? Anyone?

Also unexpected was this display at Petsmart tonight.
I am kind of horribly fascinated to know who would buy pumpkin spice flavored treats for their dog...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


This isn't today's news, it's from last year, but I ran across this world map today and was fascinated by it.

I grew up seeing the standard Mercator map, of course, though I had heard of the Peters (or Gall-Peters) projection map before The West Wing covered it (you should still watch that clip, it's fun). The continents are suddenly all long, right? And weird?

Well, just wait. Look at the AuthaGraph World Map.

Now, I already knew that Greenland was way off in the Mercator, but look at Brazil! Sticking way out of South America!

It's brain-twisting, but in a good way.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Little Reality, But Mostly Yarn

I don't think I can bear to go into The Whole Thing With the Nazis right now (Nazis, marching in American streets, I just can't even); my brain is still struggling to process it. In the shower this morning, I realized I was humming People Are People, the lyrics to which did not seem quite so loaded when I first heard it in 1985.

However, before I get to the fluffy topic of the day (fiber! and knitting!), I will share this image here, as I did when I saw it on Facebook. You've heard the expression, "Be the change you want to see in the world"? Well then.
(It turns out the photo was taken in 1985, in Sweden.)

Now, back to Saturday, and the Fiber Revival! Since Mary Ellen and I have gone for a few years now, I finally made a Fiber Revival tag here, so if you click on that label at the bottom, you should be taken to all the posts about it, if you want to revisit past years.

This year, I was afraid that my post would have to start with my disappointment about the weather, since earlier in the week some rain was forecast (in the afternoon! no, in the morning!), but in fact it was dry, and although mostly cloudy, was still so much better than I was expecting that I was quite pleased. I mean, look at it.
Gorgeous weather, no, but surprisingly decent. As always, the key to happiness is low expectations.

As to the near view, well. I mean, really.
It wasn't what I was expecting to get, but it was definitely a can't-put-it-down purchase. And yeah, I know. Blue. You've heard it all from me before. I do buy other colors ... but not as much as blue.

When we arrived, we put our chairs down under a tree and walked along the booths, seeing everything there was, and then each making that one key purchase. Got lunch, and sat down to eat, knit, commune with nature surrounded by knitters and fiber folk, all that good stuff. (You may think you don't see a lot of people knitting in public, but I guarantee you, you see more of them than you do spinners. Lots of people at their spinning wheels is not something I'm used to, either, but I like it.)

At one point, I looked up to see a line at the beer truck; apparently, one of the baseball teams all chose to spend their break the same way.
There weren't any alpacas there this year, sadly, but we did wander along saying hi to the horse, donkey, and other animals near and far.

And a tree that was rather dramatic about a lost limb.
And, that's it for Saturday!

I got a lot of knitting done last week; it helped that I spent the majority of the work week on a task that mostly involved looking at a document, reading through it and not having to do a lot of typing, which goes very well with simple knitting.

For a friend who has a friend having a baby*, I made some hats.
*The list of people for whom I will do this is very limited ... but she's on it!

One like this:
And two like this: they look very similar, but one is slightly larger, and so stretches out more.
And I started a blanket, with yarn I picked up on super-sale some years ago. Stashing for the win!
Details about these will have to wait; I'm out of time!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are You Familiar with the Term...?

If you want a good example of the concept of a backhand compliment, read the second quote that accompanies this book:
Um, guys? That is not a quote to sell this book. That quote says this book will make you appreciate Jane Austen...Ow.

(No time tonight to cover the Fiber Revival from Saturday, but I'll get to it!)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

So What Is This?

If you didn't know what I was knitting, you might think I was making a sweater from the sleeve up. Or maybe just gauntlets.
Though off my arm, it looks less like those, maybe.
Here, does this help you see?
Baby hat. Pattern here, if you want to see how it will look. May be too small, but coming nicely. Baby knits can be so quick; it's very satisfying.