Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things I Don't Get

Braille on drive-through ATM's.

Decaf espresso.

Lo-carb peanut butter.

Kosher salt on pork barbecue.

Why, if global warming is such an issue, incandescent bulbs are not made illegal, all automobiles aren't required to be hybrids, and all newly constructed buildings aren't required to use alternative energy.

How it can be this !@#$%^& blasted cold when it isn't even winter yet.

Friday, December 10, 2010



Mainly just flurries, and it didn't do much besides dust the walkways, but still -- it was snow!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Celebrate

Yes, my friends. I have successfully written a 50,000 word novel in the past 30 days. I thought it would be extremely nervewracking and involve blood, sweat, and tears, but I found that as long as I made my 1700 words a day, it wasn't too bad. All that is left now is to write a little introduction. Maybe this is something that could actually get published someday...

Happy Saint Andrew's Day!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hickory Dickory Dock

Pros about this month:
I have finished the Noro sock and have started another one out of Cascade Heritage.

I have approximately 29,000 words in my Nano at the moment.

I believe I am exactly where I need to be plot-wise in my Nano at this point in the month.

The first part of the last Harry Potter movie has hit the theaters.

It is exactly seven days until Thanksgiving.

Cons about this month:It is a typical cold, dreary November day.

The sun is not shining, and the wind is blowing.

I am behind on Mr. Greenjeans.

I may be coming down with another cold.

It is a month before Christmas.

My Christmas knitting is nowhere near completed.

Right now, the mouse is partway up the clock. Where's yours?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Don't Let It Hit You on Your Way Out

The universe, I have decreed, is out to get me.

I can tell that you don't believe me, but it's true. This week has been such a stressful doozy that if I could go back in time and just skip these past five days, I would. Really. I've spent the said past five days struggling with a MAMMOTH head cold -- one so horrific that I've seriously been tempted to call in sick every day this week (and didn't only because I would have felt unjustifiably guilty doing so for just a cold), and all I've wanted to do when I get home is crawl into bed with a cup of tea and some Motrin and SLEEP. And to cap it all off, it happened to coincide with a certain time of the month when my hormones are all out of whack.

I've been participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and really I've been so wiped out that the only thing I've been able to get done this week is make my daily word count. And when I say the only thing? I mean the ONLY THING. There has been no housework done. There has been no cooking done (other than the brewing of water for the tea). There wasn't even any KNITTING done until last night (See? I told you this cold was a doozy).

The upside to this whole week is that I have 6800 words written and the toe of a sock.

The downside to this whole week is that I have 6800 words written, the toe of a sock, and a house that has officially reached its capacity for disorganized filth.

This weekend is going to be busy. First on the list? The dishes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

To Do List

1. Start packing for MM

2. Do laundry. Presumably so I can pack for MM.

3. Try to determine whether or not the pile of dishes in my sink is large enough to warrant washing them.

4. Attempt to get over my frustration that two championship teams, who are supposedly the best in their respective leagues, would commit SIX ERRORS (including two in one inning), hit two batters, and throw a wild pitch all in the same game.

5. Continue working on the Ravensong sweater.

6. Vacuum.

Somehow, I'm not seeing all of these things happening tonight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Never Mind

Recently, coworker of mine got married, and a bunch of us brought in goodies in celebration. One person (who is allergic to wheat), brought in gluten-free pumpkin blondies.

I asked her for the recipe, and she said that it was just a mix that she added pumpkin to -- because it was too much of a hassle to make gluten-free flour herself. When I asked why, she said it was because there needed to be a whole bunch of different flours that needed to be mixed together. Otherwise it wouldn't taste like wheat.

Which got me thinking: Why does it need to taste like wheat? Granted, wheat has certain properties that provide a finished baked good with a certain flavor and texture, but so do other grains. And those other grains might create a totally different flavor or texture that is favorable to that of wheat. Corn has one flavor and texture. Rye has another. Wheat has a third. None of them are "better" than the other -- they're just different. They taste differently, they feel different in your mouth, and they provide different nutrients.

I have an angora sweater in my closet. It is one of the softest, warmest sweaters I have ever owned. I absolutely loved making it, I love the way it feels against my skin, and it has an unbelievable halo of fluff that adds to its beauty. But angora has other properties besides being soft and warm and fluffy. It sheds like there's no tomorrow, it's not very elastic, and even though I've always hand washed it, there are areas of the sweater that have begun to self-felt -- just from the friction of everyday where. I knew this would end up happening when I knit the sweater, because THAT'S THE NATURE OF ANGORA. My wool sweaters do not do that. But wool is not nearly as soft or as warm as angora. And it usually doesn't create a halo when it's knit up either.

My angora sweater does not have the same properties as my wool ones. That's because angora is a completely different fiber, and therefore creates a completely different fabric than wool. But I knew when I began knitting the sweater that it would turn out different from my other sweaters -- that it would shed, that it would self-felt, and that it would not be very elastic. That's just the way angora is, and when I knit with it, I accept those properties and try to find the right pattern that will accomodate them. And it doesn't mean that I have to go around combining it with a whole slew of other fibers, just so it will feel, act, and look just like wool.

Grain is like that. So corn doesn't have gluten, and tends to create a totally different meal than wheat. That doesn't mean that it doesn't taste good, or that it is unacceptable to bake with, or that it can't be used by itself. When I bake with cornmeal, I understand that it is different than flour -- that it has different properties, and will therefore create a baked good that tastes different than if I use wheat. Which is why, when I use cornmeal, I look for recipes that will take advantage of those properties.

In the beginning of her book No Sheep for You, Amy Singer says, "Though these fibers are novel, there's nothing novelty about them. They're seriously yummy and worth getting to know and knit. No fiber will ever duplicate everything wool does naturally. Scientists have spent more than a hundred years trying, and the best they've done so far is...acrylic? Never mind. I've got a book full of gorgeous fiber to share with you, and none of it squeaks. NSFY is not about us against them. It's about having great stuff for everyone to knit with."

So why can't we do the same with grains?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Contribution


Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Angel (58% Merino, 30% Mohair, 12% Nylon, 366 yards), 1 skein
Needles: 5 mm, US 8
Gauge: Flexible (it's a scarf, not a bikini), but try for 15 stitches to 4 inches in stockinette
Suggested measurements: 11" by 85"

Techniques required: Provisional cast-on, yarnovers, decreases, chart reading

Notes: Only Right Side rows are included in Charts A and B. Do not forget to work the wrong sides.
Chart A is repeated twice across the row; Chart B is repeated 5 times across the row.
The charts are included at the end of the instructions. Click to enlarge.

Merino Angel is limited edition, so it may be difficult to procure. Any heavy fingering or sportweight mohair or mohair blend will work.

Using a provisional cast-on, Cast-On 50 stitches. Knit one row.
Row 1 (RS): K2, work Row 1 of Chart A across, K2
Row 2 (and all other WS rows unless otherwise noted): K2, p to the last two stitches, K2
Work Chart A a total of 21 times, ending with a Right Side row.
Transitional Row (WS): Knit all stitches, increasing once across, 51 stitches.
Work Chart B once, ending with a Wrong Side row.
Bind off all stitches Purlwise.

Pick up the 50 stitches from the original Cast-On edge, and make certain you are ready to start a Wrong Side row. Knit one row, increasing once across, 51 stitches.
Work Chart B once, ending with a Wrong Side row.
Bind off all stitches Purlwise.

Wet block to desired measurements. Toss one end over a shoulder and parade through the streets of town like the diva you are.

Chart A

Chart B

Chart Legend
o yarnover
/ k2tog
\ ssk
^ sk2p

(c)2010, Bethany Hait. This pattern is provided free of charge. As such, please feel free to make a copy for personal use, or make this scarf as a gift or a charitable donation. Please do not make copies of this pattern for others, sell the scarf or pattern for profit, or redistribute or reproduce it for any other reason.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I just read this article on Yahoo! News.


First off, there's a difference between deciding that Book X does not support the mission or policy of the parent institution and therefore should not be included on the library shelves, and banning it. Lauren Myracle probably wouldn't end up on the shelves of the local college library, or in the library of the local law school, but that doesn't mean that the book is BANNED from either of them, just that it doesn't support either institution's curriculum. Peter Spier, Norman Bridwell, or Margaret Wise Brown probably wouldn't end up there either.

Secondly (and more importantly), NO ONE, not even parents, has the right to ban a book for someone else. If this parent truly feels that strongly about this book, then she can make the decision about it for HER CHILD (and she should be strongly encouraged to do so). If her child brings it home, it is her right (and responsibility) to say, "Honey, I don't want you reading that book right now, because I think it deals with issues that are more appropriate for older children. Let's take it back to the library so you can pick out something else, and in two or three years, you can check it out again."

But to say that she doesn't want ANY child who is the same age as her child to be exposed to the book is NOT within her rights. She does NOT have the right to say, "I don't believe that this book is appropriate for any child under the age of 10, and therefore, I do not want any child who is under the age of ten ever to have to come into contact with it." And it isn't her decision to say whether or not the book supports her school's curriculum, either -- and that would be the only reason why the school librarian would decide not to put it on the shelf.

Not every book in every library is all sugar and roses. There are some really racy or violent or disturbing tomes out there. There are books in my library that (if I had children) I would not want them reading. Mein Kampf comes to mind most readily. There are also books that, if I had young children, I wouldn't want them to read until they were older. Like Twilight. But if someone else were to pick up either Mein Kampf or Twilight and decide they wanted to read it, that's their right to do so, regardless of their age. And regardless of what I, or ANYONE ELSE, thinks.

So lady? Learn to do your own darn job and review the books your child picks out. And let other parents do the same for their kids.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Musings

1. Do people in Greece ever wear winter scarves?

2. Today is the first day of fall. So why is the weather forecast for tomorrow slated to be in the 90's?

3. What in the world is "gator gumbo"?

4. NaNoWriMo's coming up!!

5. This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. I'd go...except I have to work. Bummer. Maybe I can bribe someone to shop for me.

6. I cannot believe the sheer number of books that urchins can pull off library shelves in the space of a couple of hours. How fast do kids read?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Celebratory Randomness

1. Today is the first day of school, which makes me want to go running out in the streets tossing pennies to anyone who comes by in celebration. (And I totally would, except for the fact that yesterday, I celebrated by going with M to a Nationals game (they won), and, despite the fact that I used sun block, came back with some significant redness on my chest and face, which I'm pretty sure has contributed to the headache that I've had all day today.)

2. I'm looking for a good way to make boucle yarn (that's just an example). I'm not finding the article in Spin-Off very helpful.

3. Note to all you parents: The public library does not have a section specifically dedicated to "AR books." ANY book is an AR book. It may not be on your child's school list, but it will probably have a value assigned to it all the same. And we probably don't have the most up-to-date list from your school, and no, it isn't connected to our catalog even if we did.

4. I'm seriously sick of all the Chef Boyarde commercials about people getting in trouble by mentioning vegetables. For pity sakes, what is wrong with kids knowing that there are vegetables in their food??? Isn't it better that kids learn to enjoy their vegetables and know that not all veggies taste bad than to LIE to your children?

5. Four children came up to me tonight to ask about school reading lists. Ah, the joy of working with children who start their work early.

6. Why is the batter who is right behind the dude on deck referred to as being "in the hole?"

7. I really need to get back to work on the cabinet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This is just about the funniest think I've seen in a while. Beats even the hamsters. I've been trying to embed the link to the video itself, but somehow, I'm missing something. So here's the link anyway.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Reading

Is now OVER.

Now, if we could just do something about the school year starting earlier....

Friday, July 23, 2010

It All Goes Back to a Lack of Woods

So we're getting into the time of summer when kids are coming in Mongal hords to come and check out the stack of books that they have been assigned to read over the summer. Most of them are checked out, and of course, it all will lead, in the end, to someone (usually either me or the mother) saying, "Shouldn't you have started this two months ago?"

But it's gotten me thinking. What's the point of school summer reading assignments? To stimulate thought and mental activity when school is not in session?
To get children to read when they're not being forced to do so? To keep them out of trouble? To start the school year with some of the work done?

I think educators will say that it's a combination of all those answers, but really when it comes down to it, I think the reason for summer assignments is thus: A: to make the job easier on the English teacher in the fall, and B: to ensure that the children are not bored.

But what's the big deal about being bored? BORED children climb trees. They build treehouses. They explore the great unknowns of their backyards. They rig booby traps for their neighborhood rivals. They write dark and vampant poetry. They take bike rides and go for walks. They draw and paint. They build mud pies and make flower jelly. They sort rocks and collect flowers and steal from beehives. And they read books of THEIR OWN CHOOSING.

I could go on here, but...well...My friend M would say that it all goes back to the fact that kids are no longer playing in trees anymore.

And because they aren't bored.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Is the number of days until school starts up again.

I think I can do it.

I think.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Impressions

How do you determine what goes into the very first line of a short story or poem or novel? How you decide what you want the first impression to be? And how do some lines become famous almost to the point of cliche, while others, even on popular books or famous classics, remain comfortably in obscurity?

There are, of course, the cliches:
"It was a dark and stormy night."
"There was once upon a time..."

Then there opening lines which don't become cliche, but do end up so well-known that pretty much everyone knows where they came from:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
"Call me, 'Ishmael'."
"Marley was dead, to begin with."

And then there are works which have no real punch to their opening lines at all, yet the greater work still retains enough punch to render the book a classic:
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents."
"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head."
"The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it."
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
"Unemployed, at last!"

So what goes into the thinking up of the very first line?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vocab Lesson

Because I was really ticked off when I saw the Haines commercial last night about their new "Lays flat collar." Uhhh, People? The stranger dude was correct. It really is LIES flat, not lays.

So let's go over the definition of the two words again, shall we?

To lay: a transitive verb, requiring a direct object. It means to put, to place, or to set. It is conjugated thusly: I lay the book down today, I laid the book down yesterday, I have laid the book down in the past.

To lie: an intransitive verb, requiring no direct object. It means to recline, to repose, or to be situated. It is conjugated thusly: I lie down today, I lay down yesterday, I have lain down in the past.

Not to be confused with the completely different word meaning "to tell an untruth."

So just to be VERY CLEAR about this (because really, it isn't all that difficult), if something or someone is reclining or is situated in a certain way, the word to use it LIE. I lie down in my bed. The collar lies flat. The word LAY is used only when one wishes to say that something is BEING placed or set onto something. I lay the book on the desk. She lay the silverware down on the table.

So Haines? I realize you think you were being funny, really? You weren't. Please use your words correctly.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lest We Forget

It's interesting how sometimes the most profound statements can be found in mundane places. The following is from a song by Lee Greenwood:

at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

Memorial Day has been celebrated here in the US regularly since 1866. It wasn't called anything then. It was just a day when people would go to the graves of all the men and boys they knew who had died in the Civil War. After a few years, it was called Decoration Day and established to be on May 30. It wasn't until later that it was called Memorial Day, and later still when it moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May .

(This would be a good time to point out the fact to all my Canadian friends that, while November 11 is indeed an important date, and that we would never try to downplay the sacrifices that Canadians or anyone else made during WWI or any other war, it's important to note that the reason November 11 is not as big of a holiday here in the US is because by the time WWI ended, we Americans had been celebrating Memorial Day for almost fifty years.)

But regardless of how it came to be called what and when, it's still the day that we Americans take the time to remember all the heroes, fallen and standing, of all of the wars in which we've fought. Because there's precious little in this world that's more important than remembering. Because the men who fought for freedom and liberty deserve to be remembered -- even if we don't remember their names, we at least remember what they did. Because without them, none of us would be where we are today. the words of Abraham Lincoln: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

Or in the words of Billy Ray Cyrus: "Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died"

Either way? Never forget.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Are We Afraid to Disturb the Universe?

So the Harlot has a debate going right now over the definition of lace. She is offering her readers four choices:

A) Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition, which is "a series of yarn-overs with accompanying decreases used to make holes" (or something like that).

B) Holes are holes, regardless of how they're made, so even if they aren't stable and are simply a result of knitting at a loose gauge, the result could be defined as lace.

C) As long as the holes are stable, intentional, and create some sort of design, the resulting fabric can be called lace.

D) Some other definition.

It's amusing to read through all the different comments -- to read about how "real lace" has to have patterning on both sides and how it must be accompanied by tears, angst, and language unbecoming a knitter, or how maybe we are really too rigid in a lot of our definitions.

The comment that really struck me though, was that a lot of people chose the first definition because, well, that's Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition, and who are we mere mortals to go against the great Knitting Goddess of Elizabeth Zimmerman?

Personally, I'd go with the third definition (because I don't think that yarn overs are the only way to make stable holes, or that knitting is the only way to create lace), but all those comments left me wondering...and marveling at the irony of it all (is it actually irony? I'm never certain). EZ was, truly, a knitting goddess. She made knitting cool before it was cool, and she authored many books throughout her lifetime that provide great, helpful information for many a knitter.

But most importantly (and here's where the irony(?) comes in), she disturbed the universe. And she dared other knitters to disturb the universe. Her definition of the perfect length of a border is "until the knitter is sick of knitting it." She constantly told knitters not to be afraid of doing something new or different (her motto was "knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises"). The first paragraph in one of her books talks about her "unventing something." She believed that there was no such thing as a mistake in knitting, only new things or deviations from a pattern, and that the correct way to create a long-tail cast-on was just to pull out a bunch of yarn until it looked long enough and go from there.

Now, I don't have any problem with any of those people who chose the first definition of lace if that's truly what they believed the definition to be. But to choose it just because it's Elizabeth Zimmerman's definition?

In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Roberts' character pulls out a Van Gogh paint-by-number and says to her students, "Ironic, isn't it? Look at what we have done to the man who refused to conform his ideals to popular taste. Who refused to compromise his integrity. We have put him in a tiny box and asked you to copy him."

I couldn't say it better.

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Thoughts

You ever notice how some patterns take forever to do, and then others you can get done really quickly? And not for any particular reason, either. I wonder why that is...

I'm working on the Francis Revisted sweater. Now, granted, it's knit on big needles, and there's virtually NO FINISHING. But still, I started it seven days ago, and I'm almost done with it. Normally, it takes me about 2-3 weeks to do a sweater, and this one will be done in about eight days. Weird.

And that's not the only one. Monkey socks are lickety split, too. Why is that, especially when other patterns out there are slow as molasses? It can't be the actual pattern: Francis is done in plain stockinette, and Monkeys in fish-scale lace. And it's not necessarily the needle size either, because I have another sweater on the same size needles as Francis that I just frogged because it's been on the needles , so what is it about certain patterns?

What other patterns out there are uber fast?

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

You ever wonder who the old man is in that rhyme?

So, in April, it got up to 90 degrees in the first week. Now, it's May, and it's back down to the low 60's. Huh. Maybe the temperature can't decide which month it is.

I'm trying to decide whether I can swing Summer's End with my Lion Cotton.

I'm going to go with the Boys vs. Girls series. Hopefully that will generate interest on both sides of the fence. But if any child comes home with ideas, I'm denying all knowledge.

Today is Gary Paulsen's birthday. Read Hatchet if you get a chance.

Friday, May 07, 2010


I'm looking for a series to do in the fall. It needs to be appealing to both genders, and for kids in the age range of 9-12. Anyone have any ideas? Here are the ones I've been thinking about so far:

1. Oz, by L. Frank Baum. It's fantasy adventure, which would appeal to boys, and it has plenty of strong female characters, which appeals to...well...girls. But would the fact that the protagonists are mainly female put the boys off? Also, how would I get around the fact that the program wouldn't be about the movie?

2. The Last Apprentice, by Joseph Delaney. Again, lots of fantasy adventure and great character development, but we're talking DARK here. And SCARY. Some kids might be put off by that. And then there's the fact that most of the girl characters aren't exactly the ones we want to root for.

3. Boys v. Girls, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. A different take here with present day, good-natured humor that's equally divided between girls and boys. A definite appeal to both genders...but is it old enough? The older kids might not be so into the younger siblings.

4. The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley. Horses with a male protagonist -- you can't not appeal to boys and girls here. And there's loads of adventure, with each book just a little different. But would some of the kids be put off by some of the datedness of the books?

So that's what I have so far. Anyone have any other ideas?? Comments?? Questions??

The Monkeys are done!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random on a Friday

1. The people at Home Depot grossly overstimated the aount of dirt I needed to garden. Either that, or I need more plants.

2. Gardening is hard exercise.

3. I hate wasps and carpenter bees.

4. One Monkey sock -- DONE! I need to start the other one though, probably tonight, soas not fall victim to Second Sock Syndrome.

5. Here's hoping that Purplicious will be dompleted by MDSW a week from tomorrow. (Is it a week from tomorrow. Wow, time flies.) That, and the ugly bumblebee socks.

6. I saw a tiger swallowtail today!!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Could We At Least Pretend?

You probably all have your favorite sports team. When I was in University, the team that everyone cared about was the Toronto Maple Leafs. In grad school, it was the Steelers. Back home, it's Penn State and the Phillies.

But even though those were The Teams to support, the news stations at least pretended that a) there are other teams and other sports out there, and b) that there are other things happening in the world that don't concern them. Like, oh I don't know...maybe an extreme weather situation, or a local crime, or some big festival going on, or a natural disaster.

The day the Eagles traded DM to the Skins, there was an earthquake in California, a local police officer was killed in the line of duty, and we were in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave. Moreover, the trade took place the day before OPENING DAY in the baseball season. But were ANY of those stories the ones the news broadcasters cared about at the top of the news hour? NO. All anyone cared about was this (apparently) shocking trade.

Mind you, this is also the same network (whom I shall not identify) who claimed that Abraham Lincoln was born in Illinois, but still. Come on, people. There is a time for sports stories in the newscast, and unless this story is so huge that it affects other parts of the news (Shawn Johnson's murder, for example), the very top of the news hour, overshadowing everything else going on in the world, is not it. And while I will admit that this was a big story, when there are other things going on in the world of other major league sports, like one sport's Opening Day, or the start of another sport's playoffs, it should not take up the whole amount of the time devoted to sports.

In addition to the Skins, there are five other professional major league sports teams in our area (at least. There may be more, but those are the ones I'm aware of). And for those of you who are not aware, of those five, guess how many made the playoffs for the 2009 or 2009-2010 season?


That's right. One. Three others finished dead last, and the fifth finished somewhere in the middle. The Skins? I would say their performance was mediocre. They didn't make the playoffs either.

Now, any NFL team is certainly entitled to make whatever trade they wish, as long as it is within NFL guidelines. But you know, maybe if the local news stations pretended to care a little more about the other professional teams in our area, do you think those teams might, JUST MIGHT, perform a little better?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random on a Wednesday

Spring has sprung. Although, the weather these past two days has been much cooler than the weather over the weekend. The library has cooled down considerably.

I have 12 rounds left on my Cap Shawl (that's a Ravelry link). Then I get to the border. It is going slowly.

There are three cherry trees in bloom outside the library. It makes me happy to look at them.

I am trying very hard to get my other pair of socks done before the weekend.

I am not going to discuss the new health care bill. Unless you have actually been in need of medical care in a foreign country where the hospital was willing to treat you, no questions asked and regardless of insurance, OR unless you have been on the other end and have been somewhere and denied treatment because of a lack of insurance, really, I do not wish to discuss it.

I need to get ready for storytime.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

An Idea

Firstly: in light of what happened recently in Chile, I'd thought I'd reiterate my previous post about how lucky we are. Since some of the links point to Haiti, here are the links for the Chilean Embassy in D.C. and in Ottawa.

On Sunday, the Olympics came to a close, and we all went back to our normal everyday routine. It looked like quite a party, but it got me thinking, particularly in light of the hockey game Sunday afternoon.

I didn't watch the hockey game, just the brief moments that were retold later that night during the nightly news (congrats to all my Canadian friends, btw), but then I saw an interview with an American player afterward. The player was saying how disappointed he was for being forced to settle for the silver medal. He wouldn't even accept the reporter's congratulations.

Did you know that more silver medalists are depressed than anyone else who compete in the Olympics? Gold medalists are always happy. Bronze medalists are just happy to be on the podium, and everybody else who doesn't medal just feels sad that they didn't medal. But silver medalists, time and again, are depressed. If they only flew higher, jumped farther, ran faster, stopped one more goal, landed one more jump. Their lives are full of "if only's" and "what if's."

Which is a shame really. Because silver medal? That's pretty good! It means that out of everybody else in the world competing in your sport, you are better than all of them except for one. I don't see why people who win the silver medal are treated as though they had to settle for something.

Do you think that Meryl Davis and Charlie White are disappointed with the silver medal they won in ice dancing in one of their first international competitions ever? That Jaret Peterson is disappointed with the silver he won in men's freestyle aerials (he was quoted as saying that it tasted pretty sweet)? That Julia Mancuso is disappointed with the two silvers she won in women's downhill and the super-combined (she danced on the podium with a grin as big as B.C. on her face)? Or that Johnny Spillane is disappointed with the three silvers he won in men's Nordic combined (the first medals ever for any American in the event)?

And that's one of the reasons I didn't watch the hockey game (another reason is that I'm still quite bitter over the way I was treated by certain Canadians after the 2002 gold medal game, but that's a post for another time). I am not a fan of any sport, be it hockey, basketball, curling, volleyball, whatever, where the gold and silver medals come down to playing a game. Where in order to win the silver medal, you have to lose. Where athletes don't win silver medals but lose gold ones. No wonder the hockey player was down in the dumps about the game.

I feel like the awards for gold, silver, and bronze in these types of sports should be determined using some other method. In 1980 (that's the last time the US won a gold medal in men's hockey, and to all you Canadians out there? Regardless of how many medals we may or may not go on to win in future Olympics, none of them will ever top that one), the last game the US played wasn't against the Soviets, the team that ended up with the silver medal. It was against Finland, who finished fourth. So maybe we should go back to whatever method was used back then. Maybe then, the athletes can return home and feel like they've actually accomplished something, instead of feeling like they had to settle.

Ok, rant over, peace out. I'm going back to rooting for Alex Ovechkin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

First off, the question of the day: Did anyone ever notice that during medal cermonies, the flag for the silver medalist is raised opposite the bronze medalist and vice versa?

Now on to the interesting stuff.

Just saw this quote on CNN. It's apparently from the Russian newspaper Pravda and is offering its opinion about the Olympics so far:

"The utter incapacity of this country to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, [is] born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom."

Huh. I guess the 29 medals the Soviet Union won in 1988 and the 125 they won in 1976 were all won by Belarusians, Ukranians, and Georgians.

For the record, here is a picture of a Cossack glove...

And the above quote was the sound of it hitting the floor. I've always wondered what that sounded like.

I'd love to see Evgeny Plushenko on Dancing with the Stars. And I cannot wait for Sochi.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's online smut good for?

Scotty Lago won a bronze medal in men's halfpipe on Wednesday. A few days later, a couple of pictures show up on a tabloid website that cause a bit of a stir. One of them shows an unidentified fan kissing Lago's medal as it hangs just below his (fully clothed) waist. The other shows the same fan biting the medal as Lago holds it in his hand.

Apparently neither the USOC nor the USSA were amused. Lago formally apologized and left Vancouver shortly after the pictures were made public. But the tabloid that published the photos is crying foul. They're saying that Lago should have been cut some slack. More exactly, "He's a snowboarder for cryin' out loud. They should have cut him a break."

They should have cut him a break because what he did wasn't all that horrible....or because he's a snowboarder?

Does that mean that if a ski jumper or a figure skater did the same thing, they shouldn't be given any slack?

And does that mean that if the photos had been originally published elsewhere, the tabloid would still be indignant?

I don't understand how being a snowboarder excuses someone from inappropriate behavior. And I don't see why the tabloid is up in arms about it. First of all, no one is denying their right to post the photos. Nor is anyone denouncing the photographs, just the actions portrayed in them. Secondly, I might suggest to this tabloid that they check out the USSA's code of conduct, which, by the way, does not differentiate between skiers and snowboarders. And if the USSA has decided that the actions in the photos are in violation of said code, then they should have the authority to act accordingly.

*sigh.* If this were a print tabloid, I'd say my normal rule about tabloids being good for only one thing applies. As this is online, I'll have to come up with something else. Any ideas?

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Take it Back

Global Warming IS a myth. Because clearly, the four and a half feet of snow we've received this month would not have happened if it weren't. We have now received a total of about 6 feet of snow so far this winter, breaking all previous records. And there's still a month of winter left.

On to other things:

Bella is progressing rapidly. Although the pattern is not written out as clearly as I would like. Evidently, the solution to this is to take notes. But it will get done on schedule. (Probably ahead of schedule, actually.)

In my humble opinion, EP is being a sore loser. I wish I could tell him, "Dude. You just won a silver medal. So it isn't gold. Get over it. The fact is, you didn't skate as cleanly as EL. Even a muggle like me could recognize that. Be a man and accept it graciously."

I love watching sporting events on tv. It equates to great knitting time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Channeling Dr. Seuss

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? I realized as I was driving home tonight that after putting up my rather sparkling and witty post about the upcoming Newbery awards that there is another topic out there that is much more important.

Here in the US and Canada, we are incredibly, incredibly blessed. We live in one of the richest, healthiest countries in the world, and our quality of life is incredibly high (doesn't matter if it's the US or Canada). And I can gripe all I want about some of the problems in my life, about what I can't afford to buy or where I can afford to go, or what I am able to do, but when it comes right down to it, I have it easy. Regardless of how poor I feel sometimes (and believe me, there are days), I have never truly lacked for anything. I have always had food in my cupboard, clothes on my body, and a roof over my head. Even with the economy falling apart like it has, I have never truly worried about how I was going to pay for groceries, or where I was going to sleep at night. And I know that a lot of you can say the same. We are blessed -- truly, incredibly blessed.

Since Tuesday's horrible news, I've been thinking about ways to make a difference. The situation in Port-au-Prince is NOT GOOD. Orphanages and hospitals are among the buildings that have been destroyed. Doctors and emergency personel are among the dead. Officials estimate that casualties are possibly in the tens of thousands. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in North America to begin with, and the people there need our aid desperately.

So I'm putting out a call for help. I know that a lot of us put aside some money each month for little luxuries -- whatever they are. The next time you find yourself pulling out your wallet, ask yourself, Do I really need this? Is this an actual necessity that I absolutely MUST HAVE in order to survive? Starbucks/Tim Hortons is not a necessity (I'm not saying coffee -- I'm saying expensive or fancy coffee). Yarn is not a necessity. Books (sob) are not necessities. That dinner out? A fifth pair of shoes? That fancy haircut and dye job? Seeing Sherlock Holmes, It's Complicated, Leap Year, or whatever other new flick that just hit the theatres? NOT NECESSITIES. And at the end of the next week or two, whatever money you save, could you send it on to someone whose home just got destroyed? Here are some places where you can share some of the love:

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers in the U.S. and international (a word about this? if you give to this one, could you please e-mail Stephanie and let her know how much you gave? She's keeping a running total.)
The Red Cross in the U.S. and abroad
World Vision
Haitian Health Foundation
Haitian consulate in Washington and in Montreal

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I know we have it in ourselves to do so much good in the world. We are so incredibly fortunate. Let us give to those who are not.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Announcement on Monday

The Newbery and Caldecott awards (along with all the other ALA children's lit awards) are going to be announced on Monday. As such, many libraries around the country have been holding mock elections to choose there own winners.

When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Interesting. I had trouble following the plot a little, but I think it was one where you just have to suspend your imagination, particularly where the physics are concerned. Good character development. I wonder if it will tesser well.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
If it wins, it will be the second Newbery for KDC. The writing style is similar to Despereaux, which may or may not be a good thing. I liked it in Winn-Dixie better, but perhaps others will like it. Lilies indeed.

All the Broken Pieces by Anne E. Burg
I'm not fond of novels written in verse, but hey, it worked for Out of the Dust, so it could work here too. It seemed sad to me, and I couldn't help wondering if Matt ever did find out what happened to his biological father.

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me
by Nan Marino
The plot was easy to follow, and the characters were believable and well-developed. But I couldn't stand Tamara, and the 1960's/1970's historical fiction was a little much coming on the heels of When You Reach Me and All the Broken Pieces.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
So far so good. It was a little fantastical, and kind of reminded me of The Underneath or The Eight with all the different plots and stories. But I haven't finished reading it, so I shall have to see.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
I haven't read this one yet (it's on my request list, but it hasn't come in yet), but from its reviews, it kind of reminds me of Caddie Woodlawn. But I shall refrain from passing judgement on it until I actually do finish reading it.

Did I miss anything?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Global Warming Is a Myth

Actually, it's not, but don't tell the people in the southeast US that right now. They won't believe you.

Average temperatures for Atlanta in January are in the 40's. Average high is 52F, and average low is 33F. January is the city's coldest month, so that means that if the temperature ever dips below freezing there, it's pretty darn cold.

Last night, the base temperature in Atlanta was 23F, with wind chill of 14F. Tuesday morning, it's to get down to 19F. And that's without wind chill.

19F (-7C) in January is moderately normal in New Brunswick. It's an average low in Pennsylvania, and on the chilly side in Virginia. But in places where it's not supposed to get down below freezing EVER?

Dudes. That's cold.