Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Something to Consider

It's snowing right now outside my window at work. Real snow that actually sticks to the ground, in contrast to the flurries that has been all we've been getting here this winter. Not that it hasn't been cold enough, it's just been too darn dry most of the time that everytime it dips below freezing here in northern VA, it never does anything. Annoying, really.

The other night on the news, when the weatherman was talking about the precip that is currently coming down outside my window, he mentioned that we had been lucky so far in terms of winter weather. Which got me to thinking (I know. it's a dangerous habit). What, exactly, is "bad" or "lucky" or "good" weather and what makes it so?

Last year ('07 actually), in November, it rained for about four days straight -- a gentle, soaking rain that was absorbed (almost) completely into the ground. In addition, during those four days, the thermometer dropped about ten degrees, and we got about four inches of rain. And everyone complained about it. They complained that it was too cold and that it was too wet, and when was the sun going to come out again?

The reason that it was so baffling, though, was that the temperatures during those four days weren't all that cold. They were normal, average temps for November. What made them different was that it had been unusually warm throughout September and October. In addition, it had also been very dry. From June through September, we had approximately 3.5 inches of rain (Total. In Four Months.), ten inches below the average for that time of the year, and October wasn't any different. During that time, everyone grumbled that it was too dry. So why, when it finally rained and cooled down, were people complaining?

The same is true for right now. It's JANUARY, for crying out loud. That means that, in northern VA, it's SUPPOSED to be cold and snowy outside. If a person does not enjoy cold wintery weather, then that person can go and live in an area of the world that does not have cold snowy weather in the winter. Why in the world is snow (or rain or any form of precip, really) considered bad, simply for doing what it was made to do, which was fall to the ground? Don't we need precipitation as much as we do sunlight? And why, especially in the light of global warming, is cold weather considered horrible, particularly in January, when it's supposed to be cold?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Review

First -- some prompts:

One orange button

Glittering golden in the west

Blowing through the vents

And now, a review:
Today I realized that I'm not reviewing nearly enough books that I really should be. As a librarian and a writer, I think it kind of necessary that I keep on top of this, and it appears that I am woefully negligent on it. So this afternoon, instead of my boring musings, here's a review on a book I read today:

Our Country's Presidents, by Ann Bausum, published by the National Geographic Society.

What's good about it:
It covers all 44 of them, including Obama, and gives at least one full page of information on each one, as well as a full page, full color illustration of each one.

In addition to the highlights (and lowlights) of their terms, it also provides some interesting trivia about each President. William Howard Taft, for instance, enjoyed playing golf. James Garfield was left-handed. William McKinley liked to wear a red carnation in his jacket and would often give it away to strangers to whom he was introduced.

The lineage is often "interrupted" with information on the presidency in general, usually info that has to do with the president previous. Following Teddy Roosevelt is content on First Children. John Tyler precedes information on the Vice Presidency. Facts on the White House follows John Adams (the first one to live there). And after JFK comes content on the supposed Twenty Year Curse.

An appendix in the back provides information on the different election results -- all 44 of them, and includes info on who won, who lost, who belonged to which party, who the vice president became, how much of the popular vote each candidate received, as well as how many electoral votes each one received. It also includes the seven men who became president without an election.

What I didn't like about it:
Some of the trivia, particularly that in regards to First Offspring, lacks consistency. For George Washington, it mentions his wife's two children from her previous marriage, but it doesn't do the same for James Madison (Dolley Madison had a son from her first marriage). It also mentions that Willie Lincoln was the only child to die in the White House, but doesn't mention Cal Coolidge at all. And several children were listed as having "died young," with no real indication of what this means (none of Pierce's three children, and only half of Lincoln's four lived past age 11, but only two of them are mentioned as having "died young").

It includes the signature of each President. While this is a cool feature, I might point out that for Lincoln, the copy of his signature includes his full name, which he very rarely wrote out.

The amount of information on each president is extremely varied. I admit that it makes since to dedicate several pages to men such as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and not as much on the lesser known ones of Pierce or Hayes, However, the majority of the four pages on Grant is on his war-time conquests -- info on his actual presidency is limited to two paragraphs, the same amount, oddly enough, that was given to William Henry Harrison's time in office.

General conclusion:
The book is very comprehensive, has wonderful illustrations, and is full of unique, interesting facts on all the presidents. Most of the discrepancies are on the tiniest details. If someone is looking for general information on a particular president, or on the presidency in general, this would be a good source.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Really Quickly

Because I don't have a whole lot here, just some prompts. Have fun.

The lonely purple.

Abstract on a spoon.

A pair of fuzzy green slippers.

Just because...

The blue woolen hat.

Oh, and a picture of the partially finished argyles:

P.S. The cotton candy is half done. Although oddly enough, now that it is spun and plied, it looks more like bubblegum than cotton candy...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Eight Maids A-Milking

Yes, in fact, today still is actually Christmas. So on this beautiful sunny first day of 2009, I give you....

The Christmas Knitting.

First up?

The Doctor Who mitts, which I knit for H as a belated birthday/early Christmas gift back in November. These are the Rose's Wrist Warmers on Ravelry, and they were so much fun to knit

that I did another pair. This one was for my sister, and is out of the dark blue handspun, and after that, I still wasn't quite over my infatuation with the pattern

that I finegled the pattern into one for a hat, also out of the dark blue handspun. The wonderful V at my Wednesday Knit Night has told me that my sister had better appreciate these, because if she doesn't, V will come and take them away from her.

I think my sister will enjoy these. Although it did take an incredible amount of gumption to actually wrap them up. I was sooo tempted to keep them for myself. I may just have to knit myself a pair.

(Oh, and because my sister's birthday is in December, I thought I'd show you her birthday gift too:

The yarn for which I procured at Stitches and desperately need to buy more, as it is 80% angora.)

Then it was on to my mother, who was the recipient of this lovely cap made out of the green handspun...

The Narragansett Bay Cap, from Lisa Lloyd's A Fine Fleece, the pattern of which I enjoyed enough to transpose into another pair of fingerless mitts (also out of the green handspun).

And then there was enough of the green handspun left for her to receive another pair of mittens -- these with fingers.

See how nice and big and poofy they are? Well, maybe you can't, because of the angle of the camera. Maybe you can in this picture, which is a pair made for Little One (made with Cascade 220, not because my brother is not worth handspun, but because I don't know as he would actually care whether the yarn was some that I made or not -- he's weird that way).

They are nice and big and poofy because inside, they look like this:

(The ones for my mother look like that too, only, they're, you know, pink.)

These are thrums. Little bits of unspun wool that I knit into the mitten for extra lining. My mother has given her stamp of approval on hers. I think my brother will do so as well.

Oh, and there was also Big Green and Big Blue which you already saw when I showed off my Ravelympics projects. (Actually, I just realized that I haven't posted a picture of Big Blue yet, so here it is, seen posing at Rhinebeck. Complete with buttons.)

*whew*. Christmas knitting done. Now, it's just off to whip up a pair of Argyles (those should be interesting) and finish the cotton candy (one skein plied, three more to go...).

Happy New Year.