Tonight is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, but also the point at which we all start getting a tiny little bit of extra daylight in our lives. As much as I like nights and the dark, it starts to be really depressing when you go to work in the dark and leave your office in the dark, never quite being able to enjoy a little bit of sunlight in the way it should be enjoyed. But starting tonight, the light comes back, little by little.

For some reason, it's when I really think about "stuff" - Christmas and what it means to me personally, how lucky I am to have a warm, dry place where I can think about putting up decorations (even if it is pretty darn cold right now), and about the amazing people I know, both in real life and online. Generally, I come out of it feeling pretty good about my life, which helps in dealing with the "hibernating hermit" feeling I get every year by this point.

Today is also when I make my annual donation to Doctors Without Borders, because it feels right to make that a part of the above thought process (and because the Yarn Harlot reminded me of it so well a few years ago). Funny coincidence - today is the anniversary of MSF's founding (and this year is the organization's 40th birthday). Seems appropriate somehow.

I like MSF for a number of reasons: an equal access policy, complete lack of religious credo, independence from large drug companies. Because some of the founders were journalists, a part of MSF's mission is "temoignage," which is French for, I believe, "testimony," but basically means that in addition to medical and relief work, MSF has a responsibility to actively speak out about human rights violations and raise public awareness about issues like access to affordable medications for diseases such as AIDS and malaria. To me, that part is just as important as the actual medical care, because how can we improve things if we don't know they need to be improved?.

Would I love for you all to make a small donation to MSF as well? Sure would - US people here, Canada people here, others can find their country's donation page here. But really, the thought here is bigger than just giving some money to these particular good guys. If you can, give some money to your favorite good guys. If you can't, can you volunteer some time? Knit for charity? Read to underprivileged kids?

We've all said it: "I wish the world was a nicer place." Yup, I do too. And I think we all want to do something about it, but the problem just seems SO FREAKING HUGE that the initial motivation fizzles and dies after a really short time. And no, we can't all save the world. But we can make our little part of it a little bit better this year. And then do the same thing again next year. If everyone just picks one thing - one little thing that's not going to cost a lot of money or time - I don't see how that can not make a difference, somewhere, somehow.

Happy Solstice. Happy Return of the Light.
Yeah... braindead. I don't even really know why. Probably we went to brunch this morning (delicious, delicious, brunch), and I'm still full from that (did I mention it was delicious?), and my brain doesn't have enough of a blood supply to think.

It's cold. And wet. I've been staying inside as much as possible, drinking tea and knitting the edging on a blanket. I should really get that done so I can start working on the sweater I'd like to have done by December :-P

Still no word on a visa interview appointment. Having November 1 as a possible start date at New Job is looking more and more like it'll be stressful instead of a perfectly reasonable compromise. Oh well... where else would I get my excitement? :-)

The cat is screaming at me. I think that means you can see the bottom of his food bowl, which means he's this close to falling over from hunger. Never mind there's a ring of food around said visible bottom, and never mind there's another almost full bowl half a foot to the left. He must be fed this instant, or he may perish immediately :-)

Uhm... oh. Mystery dinner next Saturday, if I can still order tickets tomorrow. I miss websites that let me enter credit card info to pay for stuff... this whole German system is kind of ridiculous and convoluted. Makes me not want to use internet purchase options, actually, which can't be good for the businesses. But if it works, there will be delicious food, and probably also not-so-delicious absinthe again. How anyone can drink that stuff is beyond me... it's totally vile.

On Stashing

Oct. 1st, 2011 12:13 pm
I had a freaky realization a couple of days ago: I don't think I want to stash yarn at the moment.

Ok, so if you hand me yarn, I'll probably hug you (if it's cashmere, probably kiss you too), but while I used to go past a yarn store and think "I'll just take a look," which then turned into "but it's so pretty, and it's just one skein," for the past three months or so, I've been going past yarn stores thinking "eh, I don't need anything, it's ok." I wonder why that is?

Maybe part of it has to do with moving twice in a year and a half, and actually going through what yarns I have, seeing what cool stuff is in there, and looking forward to using that instead of the New Best Thing. I mean, I have awesome yarn. I just forget about it sometimes. So, no burning desire for new awesome, because there is old awesome already.

Maybe it's because German yarn stores just aren't as tempting. I don't think I've seen more than two skeins of handpainted yarns in the stores I regularly pass, and while I LOVE knitting socks (want some socks?), there's only so much self-patterning sock yarn one can have before even that becomes a bit stale. Ok, maybe not stale, but I have actually realized that there will always be more, which I can't say for people who actually want handknit socks. Also, no laceweight. I think I could actually stash laceweight at the moment, but there is none. So, no stash purchases.

Maybe it's because I am now actually thinking about knitting garments, which require much more organized shopping, and a larger outlay of cash. I know it feels weird to spend $60 on yarn for a sweater when I have loads of yarn at home, even if none of that would make a wearable sweater (in fact, a sweater like that would probably make you go blind). So, saving money for organized purchases later.

Really, I think it's about being unemployed and knowing how much money I'll end up spending on the move back to the US. And about knowing that there's awesome yarn stores in Columbus where what money I have will be better spent :-P I'm seriously looking forward to Knitters Connection and Wool Gathering, and I think those will be exceptions to the "no desire to stash" feeling because of the sheer selection, but for now, it's stash knitting and planning for work-appropriate knitwear supplies.

Did I mention I started knitting a sweater I bought yarn for the first time I visited Laura in South Bend? Where she no longer lives? Yeah. Stash knitting. It's pretty awesome right now.
I know, I'm way late, but I only downloaded the last episodes a few weeks ago :-) By now I've watched most of them at least twice, and overall I did like the season, the storyline had some great ideas, and it's good to know that Dean looks like he needs a serious hug at least once every season. I did have some issues with this season that didn't seem such a big deal with previous seasons - not sure if it's because Kripke isn't writing much anymore and the stories aren't plotted as tightly, or if it's simply because I've been out of the "Supernatural is superawesome" bubble for a while. Either way:

SPOILERS!

Ok, big complaint first: I know the series has had overall issues with how women are treated - Dean can be a complete chauvinist sometimes, and most of the female characters have been damsels in distress, evil witches (literally and figuratively), or cannon fodder. Ok, Ellen and Jo were awesome, but well, they're also dead now. But this time around? I don't know that there even was a truly developed new female character. Meg was, well, Meg, meaning pretty awesome, but she's a Kripke creation or at least was fleshed out (no meatsuit pun intended) in previous seasons. I still don't quite understand the point of Gwen... she was so nicely on the way to developing a backbone, and then she died. Just like that. I mean, I get that they needed to kill someone at that point in the story, but it still bugged me. My biggest issue was with how they used Eve... I mean, the mother of all monsters? I could write you at least five more episodes where that could be used for a monster of the week, plus a nice overall story arc where she tracks down Crowley and makes him sorry he ever stepped outside his crossroads. But no. Dead. I REALLY hope that one's a red herring and she's sitting back in Purgatory plotting revenge. Cause I want more Eve next season.

In fact, I hope a lot of stuff we saw this season was really just a setup for next season (although that would be one huge setup). Fate being pissed off at the world, for one. Death's random hinting at "it's about the souls, Dean" was kind of solved, but why would Death care where souls end up? People die no matter who's in charge upstairs, right? And I don't think we needed the hint that Castiel as New God is worse than it looks on the surface... he's quite clearly gone completely bananas with power.

And I know this is a small complaint and they needed it for the plot, but why would monster Alphas in general know where Purgatory is? I mean, humans don't know where the gates to Heaven and Hell are... I still don't understand where Crowley got that idea from. And that really makes the "monster Alphas" storyline another "I hope this makes more sense next season."

Ok, so maybe it sounds like I hated this season - I didn't. I laughed at Dean's parenting, I sniffled when they mindwiped Lisa and Ben, and I still happily called at least two monsters before they were officially named (I spent half of the X-Files episode going "Dude! Fairies!"). Everything I really want from the show. It just felt like something was missing. (I know, Kripke. Maybe it shows.)

Or maybe I just have too much time to think about television at the moment, what with not overanalyzing Doctor Who when I'm not overanalyzing Supernatural :-P
So apparently I can now post, and still don't :-P But there is an elaborate plan to discontinue that trend. Soon. Promise :-P

- Working for MSF was pretty good. I'm not the most talented at asking people to hand over their bank account info, but had a couple of really good conversations, including people who started by saying they weren't going to sign anything and ended by signing up anyways. Overall, I'd likely do another campaign if the chance arises, because the people I worked with were pretty awesome (and many of them seemed to be from around here, too), and it's definitely a great learning experience. Of course, I kind of hope I won't get the chance to do the fall campaign, since that would mean I got a real job, but trends do not point in that direction at the moment.

- Grandma's birthday was... well, it was good to see her, and to see some of my family. The conversation, as is wont to happen with old people, was rather uninteresting but improved over time, the food was excellent across the board, and staying with my aunt and her four cats was pretty amusing as well. They're weird cats. Even for cats.

- We're debating vacation plans for fall. So far it's between Africa and the Rocky Mountains. Stay tuned for more news :-P

- Did I mention I saw my first 3D movie when I was in Berlin? I actually didn't mind it as much as I thought it would, and it added quite a nice depth to the trailer for Transformers (which probably needs all the depth it can get).

- Yesterday we helped a friend's horse cross the Rainbow Bridge. It was immensely sad, of course, but at least he had a good long life and he wasn't alone when it happened. Call it weird, but I think it helped him to know that both we and his pasture buddies were there, as he was pretty calm the entire time. I'm still processing that experience, but it wasn't necessarily entirely bad.

- In a nice counterpoint, today I saw one of the barn cats with one of her kittens, off to hunt in the conservation area behind the farm. We were worried that the babies had died - the cat probably isn't more than a year old and simply miniscule herself - so it's nice to know at least one of them made it. We'll see if more show up, or if this one eventually starts coming to dinner like its mum does :-)

Honestly, that about covers it... life can get pretty monotonous when most of what you do is wait for people to decide about your future :-) It means time for more knitting and lots of podcasts, but I'd be rather happy about a more structured daily schedule sometime soon-ish. Oh well... soldier on I do. And apparently Yoda I channel. Maybe I should go rent the old Star Wars movies. Or see if there's an English language movie theater around here - dude I was on campaign with says there's one in Muenster.

OSU ended up saying no, not because they didn't want to hire me, but because the immigration process takes way too long once you have to start the visa process all over again. I could tell the lady I spoke to really wanted to make things work out, and she spent over a week making phone calls to try to arrange things so that they could hire me, but in the end they just didn't have time to wait. This is where I could go into a pages-long rant about the US immigration system and how it needs fixing, but that's for another day and a better thought-out argument. I keep thinking about that topic though, so it'll show up eventually.

So with job hopes pretty much crushed (none of the other job applications I was working through could wait that long to hire someone either, so I withdrew applications), and with some awesome help from my mum, I organized an overseas move in two weeks. Those of you who've helped me move before will hate me for this, but I've officially reduced my belongings to 13 moving boxes, two boxes of pictures, a suitcase and a backpack. Well, and two small parcels I mailed to myself because otherwise the suitcase would have been way overweight. It's kind of crazy what you're willing to get rid of when the alternative is paying for transatlantic shipping. Lots of stuff went to Goodwill and the local charity shop, and Jess took much of the rest of it, especially the furniture. I guess the advantage is that I can now start furnishing an apartment from scratch, with matching things instead of hand-me-downs and pieced-together bits. Yes, I already have plans, which happen to include buying the same sofa again :-) Hey, the thing was comfy. And I really want the matching armchair eventually.

Today was pretty emotional, which is understandable, I think, but still kind of exhausting. Packed up the car with stuff. Cried a bit. Dropped stuff off at Jess's new place. Cried a bit. Turned in my keys. Cried a bit. Got coffee uptown. Cried a bit. See a pattern yet? :-) I'd finished the last pair of socks I was working on in Athens (and gave them to Jess because they were her size and I didn't want to carry them with me), so I stopped at the Yarnmarket warehouse and got another skein to work on before the flight on Saturday. That place is awesome if you know what you're looking for - they actually allow customers in the warehouse, so you can check the storage bins yourself and pull out whatever colors you like of each yarn. Loads of good stuff too... I think they might even ship overseas :-P

I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and wandered the mall for a bit, which was boring because I was officially not allowed to buy anything because of the suitcase weight. It makes shopping malls boring, especially when there's good stuff on sale. At that point I'd pretty much exhausted the plans I'd had for the day, and it was only noon, so I went to Dublin to look around the yarn store there one more time. I didn't buy anything, even though there was Malabrigo sock yarn calling my name (I might have to go back tomorrow for that), and then hung out at Starbucks with some ice tea, since the hotel wouldn't let me check in until 4 anyways. Also had ice cream at Jeni's - goat cheese & roasted cherries, lemon blueberry yoghurt, and cherry lambic. Good heavens, that stuff is good. Way too much ice cream (I usually only get two half-scoops instead of three), but so worth it. That's also where I saw the best car license plate ever:



It's a Mini Cooper, the license plate is German for "tiny," and it's a Witt license plate. People probably thought I was crazy for taking  a picture of it, but it made me smile. Which was really the important part.

At that point I could actually check into the hotel, but ran away again to get some dinner snacks at Trader Joe's. Another store I'm going to miss, although a lot of the stuff I buy there actually has German equivalents. And I can get Orangina just about everywhere... I swear, that stuff is as addictive as Malabrigo.

I think I'll go to the zoo tomorrow, since I have nothing to take care of until I sell my car on Friday, and I haven't seen the new polar bear exhibit yet. So I'll probably have lots of animal pictures to share tomorrow :-)

Job Search: mediocre.

I found a number of openings at different places across the country, but sadly, most of those applications then disappear into the black hole that is university job boards. At least OU gives you an option for a contact person sometimes - a lot of other systems don't go beyond "info forwarded to department" in the way of status updates. I do have one interview at OSU on June 1 (fingers crossed for that one, it's pretty much exactly what I'm looking for), but otherwise things are quiet after two weeks of activity.

Got a very supportive (and pretty much expected) "no thank you" from the University of Chicago this morning, which seemed to be only down to a lack of certain basic qualifications they were looking for, not to any mistakes in the phone interview. I hadn't applied to that job posting to begin with because of those requirements, but the Director was given my resume by someone else and at least wanted to talk to me about the job, which was fantastic. Awesome program too, definitely worth the hour I spent on the phone with him.

Life: slowing down.

You know, having some extra time for fun stuff is fantastic. Lots of knitting time, lots of time for little things I've been wanting to get done but didn't have the motivation to do, lots of time to catch up on TV shows (Burn Notice is pretty awesome, for example). But guys, I'm bored. To the point where going to job hunting seminars in Columbus was a welcome way to spend a day. Rush hour from Canal Winchester to Powell, and I found it somewhat entertaining... well, except for that one day where it poured buckets and most drivers lost all ability to signal lane changes. But hey, it's adventurous, right? Yeah, we're just going to go with that.

Meeting random strangers I met on the internet: more fun than you'd think it would be.


I know I've mentioned the Harry Potter group off Ravelry before, but recently I got the chance to meet two of the other members in person, just to hang out and chat. One ended up having family in Athens, so we spent a couple of hours at the coffee shop chatting - she convinced me that looking for a job in Seattle wasn't a completely lunatic idea, among other things. She also lived in Japan and Germany for a while, so we had lots of stuff to talk about. The other girl is a grad student at the University of Wisconsin, in physical chemistry, who grew up in Columbus and was visiting her parents. So we had lunch after one of my seminar things, and had planned on going to a yarn shop in Powell afterwards, except it was closed. So we went to a yarn shop in Dublin instead :-P It is weird that it was the first time I'd ever seen that part of Riverside Drive? Probably... the only area I'd seen before was the bit between the freeway and the zoo. I think... my geography of that bit of Columbus is still kind of fuzzy.

Knitting: quite a bit.

Because it beats chewing my nails until they bleed while I wait for people to return my emails. And, well, because it's fun :)









Soon to come: ridiculously complicated socks, and hopefully a Dance of Joy.
Sadly, Tennessee players are huge. Like, all of them. And something was off with the 'Cats pretty much the entire game. Everyone at BW3's was awesome about it, even if there may have been large amounts of cussing coming from the O-Zone table behind us, but in the end I think everyone was happy with getting as far as we did. I mean, NCAA second round? Everyone was surprised when we made it through Game 1 of the MAC Tournament. What a run :-)

I can't wait for next year. Only one player is leaving (we'll miss you, KVK), and I'm really looking forward to seeing the current freshmen hitting their stride next season. It'll be fantabulous ;-)

Thanks for a great season, guys. GO CATS!

Speechless

Mar. 19th, 2010 07:08 pm

Did we play the right team? Did Georgetown get drunk the night before or something? That game was amazing. Absolutely incredible. Fantabulous shooting. I kind of love Bassett's "You won't let me get under the basket? Well, guess I'll just shoot from here then..." *swoosh* I kind of have no words. Neither did the Georgetown coach afterwards :-) Tennessee tomorrow!

And yes, Court Street was crazy. One broken street light, one riot charge arrest. We could hear people chanting from outside our house. Apparently a news crew was fanning the flames for some B-roll footage. And Athens PD had three officers on duty. I have a feeling they'll do better tomorrow.



PS Pictures like that make me glad someone invented spandex shorts. And I never thought I'd say that, ever :-P

The insanity that was this weekend is best told in stream-of-consciousness timeline fashion, I fear. Bear with me, it’ll be fun. Even if it basically revolves around OU basketball.

Thursday

5pm. MAC Quarterfinals are tonight. I wonder who the Bobcats are playing. Let’s check… oh crap. Kent State. Well, guess that means they’ll be home tomorrow.

10pm. Holy crap. They beat Kent State. By a good bit. Apocalypse at 11, watch out for horsemen.

Friday

3pm. MAC Semifinals tonight, against Miami. One loss, one win by sheer luck (and an amazing three-pointer). I wonder if this is going to be on TV… yes, it will be. Guess I know what I’ll be watching tonight, along with most of Court Street.

11:30pm. Wow. They kind of casually beat up Miami. They’re in the MAC Final. Which is in Cleveland. Hmmm…

Saturday

Jess: “Are you awake enough to think?”
Me: “Maybe?”
Jess: “Are we going to Cleveland?”
Me: “Are we? Sure!”

Thus begins the great hunt for ticket information. Blurry memory fragments make me think that I read something about getting tickets at the venue (which shall forever be known as Gund Arena, Quicken be damned). Except the page about last night’s game is totally broken, so all I get is a picture of Armon Bassett and a link to PDF game stats. Which is nice, but not helpful.

Jess calls the Arena ticket office, which would be happy to sell us tickets, but knows nothing about OU section tickets or MAC ticket numbers. Or about whether there’s even the slightest chance of the game being sold out by the time we get there, given it’s a Saturday and it’s the finals. Obviously, a new strategy is in order.

OU Athletics. Ticket Office – closed. Probably because they’re all in Cleveland.

OU Athletics. Switchboard – “would you like sports information?” Sure, automated computer voice. I’ll take that.

“You have reached the voice mail of Jason C, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations. I’m out of the office (otherwise known as “in Cleveland”), but here’s my cell number.” I take frantic notes, wondering who this guy is.

OU Athletics staff page. Mr C apparently doesn’t cover Men’s Basketball, but his colleague does. That voicemail tells me to call Mr C. While I would hate to assume wrongly and interrupt his Saturday, at this point it’s a reasonable assumption that he’s with the team in Cleveland. Call cell phone.

Mr C is totally awesome, laughs at me just a little for suggesting a sold out event, and tells me he’ll check with his ticket guys and call me back once he gets confirmation that we should be fine. I say thank you a whole lot of times. Jess is amused by me using the “media relations voice” while talking to the media relations guy. I drive her to work, get a call from Mr C. Say thank you a whole lot more. Hang up – “we’re going to Cleveland.”

Two hours later we’re on the road. Occasional outburst of “I can’t believe we’re doing this.” Also “This is such a Quad thing to do – wanna go do something crazy?” “Sure!”

The rest of the story might best be told in pictures… it was a fantastic thing to have seen live.

    
     

"I thought the timeout was over like a minute ago..." "Yeah, so did I. Guess they have no idea what that whistle means."



I have no idea what the final score was... 81 to 70-something. Not like it mattered - MAC Champions Baby!

Seven hours in a car, shredded vocal cords, sore muscles. Worth every minute. Thursday: NCAA first round. 3rd-seeded Georgetown Hoyas. We kind of don’t stand a chance, but it’ll be fun to watch.


Welcome to Snowmageddon, Part 2: The Iceman Cometh. Or something. Driving into work this morning really wasn't bad (I didn't even have ice on my car), but pretty much as soon as I got there, it started snowing, then raining, then snowing again. People started doing that thing where they collect in clumps by the windows (so basically right in front of my desk) and talk about going home, and how they were getting home. They even had a powwow with HR to figure out what to do about today's and tomorrow's production schedule, and offered to put people up at hotels so they wouldn't have to go home and come back. I usually don't get that worried about weather, but having that go on kind of freaked me out (in a "I am concerned" kind of way, not a "OMG I'm going to crash on the way home" kind of way), and when boss offered that we could go home, I decided it would probably be better - it's not like I can't work from home just as well as at the office.

So of course I drove home in rain/slush, had some tea while that turned into big fluffy flakes, and then it stopped snowing. Of course. Also of course, it totally wouldn't have done that if I'd stayed at work, so I consider it a public service to everyone else who has a longer drive home :-)

Tonight and tomorrow is going to be interesting - the weather reports are calling for a "flash freeze" tonight, which means our parking lot, and probably most side roads, will turn into a lovely skating rink. Of course, I hear flash freeze and get flashbacks to that scene in The Day After Tomorrow, where they all outrun the sudden and highly defined line of freezing air in New York. Like [livejournal.com profile] iko said: time to find the boring books to burn :-P

No basketball tonight due to said apocalyptic weather predictions (really, I just don't want to drive up Richland and down Court when they're icy), and also because I'm still sick and should probably just chill for a little longer. I've reached the "dried out nasal passages that nonetheless drain profusely" stage of the cold, and added a nice productive cough to the mix for today. Mostly I'm wearing lots of scarves and keeping an eye out for pneumonia symptoms... it's cold enough for it, and I'd like to avoid a repeat performance.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Nostalgia

Jan. 25th, 2010 01:30 pm
I really do miss school... Jess and I went uptown on Saturday to hang out at the new coffee shop and read (me about molecular genetics, she about wine). I love the people-watching you get to do at places like this, since so many people walk in and out all the time. Strangely enough, it's a great place for me to study as well, despite the fact that it's so busy. Not that I made it through even one chapter of the genetics book, but there's no syllabus to follow, so it's not like I have a deadline or anything (well, unless Jess wants her book back anytime soon). We're likely going to make this a Saturday ritual for a while, so it's a good thing the new coffee shop is comfy and inviting - it's really nothing like Perks used to be before the Frozen Custard Invasion of 2009, but it's got the same inviting feel to me, just with a more modern interior. Also, they make a traditional cappucchino that tastes exactly like the stuff my mum used to let me drink when I was a kid*, so good memories all around :-)

We also went to another basketball game, which was slightly scary - it was Dad's Weekend, so the Convo was pretty packed, and it was a really good game for OU, but towards the end of it, we were a bit worried that an opposing player was going to start a fight with the band, as they were heckling him pretty badly from the sidelines. One of the players also got kicked out of the game during the second half, for whatever reason... we have no idea what happened, but the referees reviewed tape for about five minutes (leading to someone in the sound booth starting to play the Jeopardy music - who has that on the playlist for a basketball game?) and then called pretty much the most severe defined foul in basketball, meaning there must have been shoving or fighting going on. But it was overall a really good game, with lots of good shooting and quite a few steals. Also the first conference game that OU won, so of course it was crazy.

In news I actually know anything about (as compared to basketball, where my knowledge extends to "ball in basket = good"), Knitters Without Borders has raised more than one million dollars for Doctors Without Borders since 2004. One million dollars, from a group of knitters who just happen to read the same blog. I think that's awesome beyond belief :-)

Last night the power went out to the apartment complex (well, and the motel next door), but apparently nowhere else in the neighborhood. Good thing we have candles and some glowsticks from the last big power outage, but even with that, we got bored around 8:30 and went to bed to read by candlelight. It was kind of annoying to see the lit restaurant sign in one direction and people's lit windows across the street, but I could see the power company guys working on the transformers, so it's not like we could complain about it. Of course, when the dishwasher kicked back on at 10, I almost had a heart attack, but at least the power was back on.
_______________________________________________________
* what? the caffeine addiction had to come from somewhere, after all :-P
White House Pushes Science and Math Education

Ok, I get not liking math, and not wanting to learn it. I'm still not a big fan, although I appreciate being able to convert currency and crazy imperial measurements without having to use the internet (much)... no wait, I learned that in chemistry. Anyways...

Programs like this are a good idea, but it always seems like they've either been done before, or they completely miss the mark. Sesame Street has had spelling stuff since I was a kid (and before, I'm sure), but people still don't know how to spell "a lot" or "desperately." When I was working on some things for a work charity campaign about literacy, I found a statistic (darn math again) that said that 40% of adults don't understand the label on their prescription bottle. You know, the stuff that says "take with food" or "don't take with milk." How do you graduate high school without knowing what that means?

But anyways, back to the "I don't like science" crowd. I hated physics. Still kind of do - I just don't get it. Never got past basic physics, like trying to figure out how much energy is stored in a spring or how fast a ball should roll down a carpeted hill vs a hardwood surface. And you know why I didn't get it? Because nobody told me why I should care. I didn't plan to routinely have ball races down different surfaces, and nobody said "well, but if you know how to calculate this, you can figure out what road surfaces are better for gas mileage, or what metal to use for train tracks so the train can go faster." (I just made that up - am I even close?) That probably wouldn't have made me any better at physics, but at least I would have known why I was learning this apparently useless stuff in 6th grade. Same with math - why do I need to know how to calculate a "log base 2" for some random number? Still don't know that actually... all of the biology calculations I remember were log base 10, which was much easier.

I guess my point is, if teachers told kids why they were learning stuff, and why they might need it later in life, or that it's kind of cool that they know this because the people who build computers and video games use the same stuff, maybe there would be less need to spend billions on TV programs that are supposed to make science and math cool. And then teachers could get paid more, which means they may not actually give up and go the "because I said so, and because you have to pass the test to get out of here" route. School being kind of fun? I know, it's the science geek in me talking again.
But it was successful nonetheless :-) Christmas goodies from World Market, supplies for a swap and some prize projects I promised to a Rav group, dresspants for 40% off, and some cozy flannel PJ pants for when I actually start noticing that we have yet to turn on the heat. Also, Panera breakfast and chili for dinner. Too bad tomorrow's Monday already... it could have been a perfect day. However, three-day week! Yay for Thanksgiving.

PS Yes, I know I fail at blogging every day. I try though :-P

20 Years...

Nov. 9th, 2009 06:47 pm
20 years since the Berlin Wall fell. I feel old :-)

I have vague memories of sitting in my grandma's living room and watching the TV coverage, but the clearest thing that popped into my head was this song. They played it constantly for the rest of 1989, and when I found it on YouTube today, I actually remembered some snippets of the lyrics :-) The song is called "We are without borders," which very much summarizes what it's about. And how's this for pathetic... I'm actually tearing up listening to it. I may not remember that much from when it happened, but this was a huge deal. Still pretty much is, really.



Today, they did a commemorative art event project in Berlin, where they had artists paint huge domino pieces and then let them fall all in a row (I believe along the same line where the wall used to be). There's not one good video of the whole thing, but YouTube's full of different views. I think it's a pretty cool concept :-)

Belize was lots of fun (why do I keep typing "Beliza", by the way?) - apparently of the countries I visited on this trip, it's the one everyone likes best, so yay for being a mindless sheep occasionally :) We had booked a "jungle river float" or something along those lines, which basically meant you get a big innertube (aka truck tire guts) and float down a river for an hour and a half. Most relaxing excursion of the trip :) Of course, yet another excursion surrounded by water, so I don't have pictures of most of it. But we got to see a Mayan excavation site (not one of the big ones, one that they're still working on), and learned that the Mayans were actually rather progressive in that the owner/head of the farm estate we were on was likely a woman. Of course, there was also talk of ritual sacrificing and cutting out of hearts - it wouldn't be a Mayan history lesson without it :)

We had to go through an orange plantation to get to and from the river, and at the end of the trip, we got ot eat oranges fresh from the tree. Best orange I've ever had, I think - also the ugliest orange I've ever seen, but who cares? It was delicious! For lunch we got rice, beans and chicken, apparently the traditional Belizean meal - no wonder, yet another delicious thing on the trip. Belize was pretty much all about food and nature for me - here, have some photos of that nature.

                         

And some photos of the jaguar they had (mostly so tourists could pretend they'd seen wildlife)

         

And some photos of Belize City, where we went onshore and back to the ship (on smaller boats, apparently you can't dock with heavy cruise ships because the ocean floor is too shallow). Yes, we also drove through a cemetery - apparently that was the only place the road could go, or something. I don't know how our tourguide was able to talk for like seven hours straight, but on the drive back from the park to Belize City, I kind of stopped listening. Not that he wasn't funny, I was just tired.

         

Yes, I know, for having been my favorite port, there's not much here... I guess I had too much fun to pay enough attention and take pictures -_-; Next up, Mexico. Which I still don't think is a great vacation destination.


Wow... I REALLY need to work on this blogging thing. Anyways:

We got a bus transfer from the hotel in Miami to the pier, which was nice because we got to see just a little bit of the actual city and were able to confirm that it still scares the crap out of mum and me. At least the port area looked semi-safe (and it was bright sunshine out), so that helped. We saw one of the Royal Caribbean ships, called Freedom of the Seas, which was absolutely ginormous. I mean, our ship was pretty big (and made in Germany),

         

but that ship was way bigger than that. Anyways, at the port, it looks like a huge mess, bags everywhere, passengers for four or five different cruise ships everywhere, and a line halfway around the building just to get on our ship (Norwegian Pearl). Cruise line people are handing us little surveys to make sure nobody has Norwalk virus (sort of the theme of the week really), yelling instructions about taking out all kinds of paperwork, shuttling people through security terminals, and sorting them into lines to check in with NCL people. I won't go into the reason why mum and I spent like 3 hours in that area, but let's just say I've never felt like a criminal when wanting to leave the country. This was probably the worst experience I've had with immigration - in Homeland Security's defense, these weren't actual immigration officers.

But, they let me through - finally - and we made it onto the ship. Where the first thing they did was make us sanitize our hands, followed by a glass of champagne. Positive reinforcement FTW! :) We even found our cabin without too much trouble, which was nicely located (low and centered - great location to minimize sea sickness). It was a decent cabin too, except for the part where they forgot to dust and vacuum the carpet, but they took care of that after we called housekeeping, and they were highly embarrassed by the dusty, icky coffee maker especially. By the end of the week, we figured out why they probably forgot to do a real cleaning... they have about six hours to clean cabins for 2000 people before the next group of passengers gets on the ship.

The big thing we learned about cruising on that first day is that everything is a party. A sailing away party when we left Miami,

         

a newlywed game show that night which revealed more than the poor kids in attendance ever wanted to know about their parents (it was pretty hilarious nonetheless though), and some really good - and really strong - cocktails wherever you went. While the pool area was nice, it was also always full of people, so mum and I tracked down padded beach lounge chairs on one of the lower decks. They were not only more comfortable, but also out of the sun to keep me from frying completely... it didn't quite work out, but way better than the full sun on the pool deck would have been. We really just had lazy days those two days at sea, and it was nice to just get into the vacation spirit while relaxing and listening to the ocean. The nice thing about it was that you get a complete choice in what you want to do on those days on the ship - there's loads of activities, but also lots of spots where you can just have piece and quiet if you want it.

Next time: Honduras, coral reefs, and ship wrecks :) Definitely picture heavy.
Over on Ravelry, there have lately been a lot of posts (or maybe it just seems like there have been a lot lately) from new knitters who are "afraid" of this pattern or that technique, or who just don't want to try this new thing they've never done before because they're "afraid to screw up." On the first couple of posts I just hot the ignore button and moved on, but seeing those new threads on a regular basis made me wonder: what are they actually afraid of? It's just string and sticks and a pattern really. If you screw up, you rip it out and start over, or you turn your screwup into something else. Nobody will arrest you if your yarnovers are twice as big as they're supposed to be, or if your cables always cross the wrong way, or you knit a hat that would fit a baby instead of a grown man, or if your sock heel is pointy instead of round. Actually, don't get me started on sock knitting posts - they're just as much bits of string as anything else, and no, they do not bite.

Last year, someone started a "Fearless Knitting" thing (I think it was Wendy of WendyKnits), and a bunch of people posted their goals for that year - lace, colorwork, first sweaters, first socks, etc. I think it's an awesome concept, but it made me wonder about two things. A) if you're happy knitting garter stitch scarves for the rest of your knitting life, why would you feel bad about it, and B) if you want to try something new, why don't you? That's how I learned to knit socks - get a pattern, pretend to swatch, and see what happens. The first sock was too big because my row gauge was off, but the second sock fit fine, and I've knit many many socks since then (I may have a bit of a sock yarn problem).

I don't know that I really have a point with this, and I may very well be rambling, but it bugs me when people are soooo worried about something that's really not that big of a deal. You want to knit a sweater? Get a pattern, swatch, knit. If it's horrid, you can rip it out and make a bunch of scarves. The world will not end, I promise :)

PS You people who are afraid of steeking? I'm right there with you. Cutting up that amount of knitting just freaks me out. But I'll likely still do it eventually :) Just need to learn proper colorwork first.

I really don't need another website to keep track of... in fact I already lost track of some of the sites I may be signed up for. So instead of Tweeting all of the random thoughts of this morning, here they are, possibly in more than 140 characters :)

It's snowing, apparently due to yet another Alberta Clipper. Is it an Alberta Clipper if it seems to be coming from Texas? Just saying.

The first snowplow was sighted at 9am. People around here have to be at work at 8am. Anyone else see a problem with that?

We have a Level 2 snow emergency. I want it to go to a Level 3 for tomorrow, just so I can see what it's like. In Cleveland, this would MAYBE be a 2 hour delay. But they have proper street crews in Cleveland.

Damn that snow driving experience. I don't even have an excuse to stay home because of the weather. Getting the sinking feeling that being more "girly" could have its advantages. Then I look at the furniture I can put together by myself, and I get over it.

I would like to curl up on the couch with tea and knitting and finish watching The State Within. My obsession with British TV continues...


Phew... Christmas is over :) Well, the official day, technically the twelve days of Christmas don't end until next Tuesday. But all the Christmas pressure stuff is off :)

I spent most of this past week in Akron with Jess, generally being spoiled absolutely rotten :) Dinner on Christmas Eve at her aunt's house with ham and cookies and pirogies (or however you spell that), dinner at her house Christmas Day with large amounts of red meat and cauliflower in cheese sauce (yum), more ham sandwiches the next day with more fun people... yeah, way too much food. And way too many presents too - a hoodie and a hot pot and yarn and candy and coffee and DVDs and stuff! Good grief, so much stuff :) But they all seemed to like their presents, so I don't feel quite as bad about the sheer size of my pile.

I called home Christmas Eve and Day as well and talked to everybody, although of course the annual Christmas package didn't show up until after I had left - and then I opened it when I got back and turned into a sobbing mess when I opened my mum's gift: she'd gotten a professional photographer to take pictures of the horses, and they made a really gorgeous photo book of my (1600 pound) baby... he might be an idiot sometimes, but I miss him. *sniffles*





My cousin also got me a DVD version of Dinner for One, our New Year's Eve traditional TV viewing, so now I don't have to search the internet for it every year :) In case you've never seen it, here's to sharing a German tradition!

 

It's back to Cleveland tomorrow for New Year's Eve and the weekend, and after that I'm going to have to get used to writing 2009... if you get things from me dated 2008 in March or so, don't be surprised... I do it every year.

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