Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hooray for Cool Weather

The temperature had dropped precipitously here - yesterday was downright cold with the wind.

The benefit? It's sock season.

The Poseidons debuted on Monday, the Monkeys today.

Monday was so delightful at Franklin that I hardly noticed the weather; I had two women studying for the citizenship test. I do believe that is my favorite thing to help people with while I'm there. We have such an amazing system of government and it's lasted so long.

Plus I had new socks to wear.

Yes, they were finished a while back, but not during sock season. Even Boy-child has dug his socks out.

And I received the most delightful thank you today for a pair I finished earlier but hadn't posted a photo of:
See the resemblance?

Also, today we stumbled upon the most amazing thing: The Master List of Nixon Political Enemies. Wow. He really was paranoid.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Next?

Ay caray!

The Next Stage of We'll-Give-Up-Any-Rights-and-All-Dignity-To-Fight-Terrorism

(thanks, Sarah, for the link)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


All the fuss over the flu.

Boy-child's just been diagnosed with a mild case of it. They gave us drugs 'cause it seems to be morphing into bronchitis and/or sinusitis and who knows what all. This after a meeting last week in which we were given a preliminary outline of what the plan for the University is - just in case such a large number of people are out that they have to start shutting things down. I still don't see how this flu is any more or less serious than any other year's flu but I guess the season is only starting so the real impact remains to be seen...

I really, really liked the doctor. She told Boy-child that my assessment was correct and that she was going by Dr Mom Instinct as much as MD knowledge to a certain degree which I loved because hey, there she was, totally backing me up.

May I also mention that I called Girl-child this morning and suggested that perhaps her plan to jump out of an airplane today was not such a good idea given that it's very windy. Turns out it was canceled because of weather.

Credibility is my middle name.

While we were waiting for our turn at after hours clinic we witnessed a truly pathetic young man so pumped full of self importance that he felt he could leave the waiting area and return as he wished without losing his place in queue. He learned differently. We were none the less relieved when he was finally called in to be seen, if for no other reason than because we wouldn't have to listen to his sighs and moans any longer once he left. I decided that he must be in for a case of The Clap and that he was going to be getting a big shot in the behind and be out in five minutes.

When he was seen on his way out five minutes later I couldn't help but giggle.

The waiting room at clinic did contribute substantially to sock progress. I've now got two heels turned and gussets started for Rosemary's mom's Christmas socks. Color is nowhere near accurate.

Girl-child and I went to the American Swedish Institute yesterday - she checked out museum passes from the library (such a smart girl). We also found copies of both of Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novels at (two different) libraries which is great since Borders doesn't stock them. They're spendy so special ordering could be risky. We did manage to spend some money on line though, for knitting books that are either not available or checked out of the local library. Hers is this one and mine is this one.
So overall, for me at least, it was a pretty good weekend. Hope yours was good too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Midnight Musings

This is the felted turtle - made by request - that I'm not so happy with:
I may or may not try doing another in a single color to see if it turns out better. Boy-child also suggested that the head and flippers should be thicker. Or maybe the body should be thinner. I don't really know.

I finished my first Wanida sock from Cookie A's new book:
I rather like it.
So at least I like the way something turned out.

Although we're not as bad as Sydney, we are in desperate need of rain here. It looked like we might get a shower this morning but the sun broke through a crack in the clouds:
By afternoon it was sunny.

I signed up for a knitting class with the hope that I'll get out of my rut.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Surrealism is Good for You

(UCSB Press Release)
Reading Kafka Improves Learning, Suggests UCSB Psychology Study September 15, 2009

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Reading a book by Franz Kafka –– or watching a film by director David Lynch –– could make you smarter.
According to research by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia, exposure to the surrealism in, say, Kafka's "The Country Doctor" or Lynch's "Blue Velvet" enhances the cognitive mechanisms that oversee implicit learning functions. The researchers' findings appear in an article published in the September issue of the journal Psychological Science.
"The idea is that when you're exposed to a meaning threat –– something that fundamentally does not make sense –– your brain is going to respond by looking for some other kind of structure within your environment," said Travis Proulx, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB and co-author of the article. "And, it turns out, that structure can be completely unrelated to the meaning threat."
Meaning, according to Proulx, is an expected association within one's environment. Fire, for example, is associated with extreme heat, and putting your hand in a flame and finding it icy cold would constitute a threat to that meaning. "It would be very disturbing to you because it wouldn't make sense," he said.
As part of their research, Proulx and Steven J. Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the article's second co-author, asked a group of subjects to read an abridged and slightly edited version of Kafka's "The Country Doctor," which involves a nonsensical –– and in some ways disturbing –– series of events. A second group read a different version of the same short story, one that had been rewritten so that the plot and literary elements made sense. The subjects were then asked to complete an artificial-grammar learning task in which they were exposed to hidden patterns in letter strings. They were asked to copy the individual letter strings and then to put a mark next to those that followed a similar pattern.
"People who read the nonsensical story checked off more letter strings –– clearly they were motivated to find structure," said Proulx. "But what's more important is that they were actually more accurate than those who read the more normal version of the story. They really did learn the pattern better than the other participants did."
In a second study, the same results were evident among people who were led to feel alienated about themselves as they considered how their past actions were often contradictory. "You get the same pattern of effects whether you're reading Kafka or experiencing a breakdown in your sense of identity," Proulx explained. "People feel uncomfortable when their expected associations are violated, and that creates an unconscious desire to make sense of their surroundings. That feeling of discomfort may come from a surreal story, or from contemplating their own contradictory behaviors, but either way, people want to get rid of it. So they're motivated to learn new patterns."
Thus far, the researchers have identified the beneficial effects of unusual experiences only in implicit pattern learning. It remains to be seen whether or not reading surreal literature would aid in the learning of studied material as well. "It's important to note that sitting down with a Kafka story before exam time probably wouldn't boost your performance on a test," said Proulx.
"What is critical here is that our participants were not expecting to encounter this bizarre story," he continued. "If you expect that you'll encounter something strange or out of the ordinary, you won't experience the same sense of alienation. You may be disturbed by it, but you won't show the same learning ability. The key to our study is that our participants were surprised by the series of unexpected events, and they had no way to make sense of them. Hence, they strived to make sense of something else."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Few Lists

Check out this blog post - A Book Lover's Guide to IKEA Seating.
The second example, a flowered chair, is described as being for readers of books written by women or homosexual men. It brings back memories of a place I lived in while I was in college that was occupied by communists and homosexuals. The furniture? Pink plaid. I didn't find my favorite type of reading chair or any titles of particular interest on the list, but I love the post anyway. I love this guy's sense of humor. I love the concept of seating appropriate to reading material.

This list predicts 50 Things That Are Being Killed By the Internet. I don't agree with a number of them, such as number three: Listening to an Album All the Way Through. Or am I the only one who still does that? And number twenty-nine, The Mystery of Foreign Languages is, I believe, a complete myth - BabelFish can't handle more than a word at a time in most instances and nothing will ever replace reading great literature in the original. Some are dead on, however, such as number seven, Adolescent Nerves at First Porn Purchase (see below), and others which we can hope are true, such as number four, Sarah Palin.

And finally, a list of Historical Fiction from Booklist. Any other lovers of historical fiction out there? Knitting has seriously cut into my reading time, but I have The Enchantress of Florence on my shelf and I love T.C. Boyle so I'll have to find The Women as soon as it's available in paperback.

With that I'll leave the blog and go knit or read a book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on Restricted Reading Material and, to Lighten Up, Some Knitted Things

Boy-child received his latest GQ this week. I think he's allowed to purchase this at his age - unrestricted. What does she look like she's waiting for?
I haven't seen a Playboy recently, but this vintage (1968) issue happens to be in the living room at the moment. The picture is blurry because it's wrapped in plastic. Now, imho, this is a much classier, less pornographic cover. Boy-child can not purchase Playboy himself. Of course, if GQ looks like the above picture, who knows what the current Playboy looks like. I guess I'll have to go to Schinder's and have a looksie.
On a much lighter note, after taking a dozen pictures and deciding that the color simply can not be captured, I've settled on this version of "Lavender Fields" by Paigewood Farms. It's being knit up into a simple sock for the mother of a friend for Christmas. I love the yarn.
As a gift for knitting up the gift (I guess we can call it that?) I was sent a second skein of Paigewood Farms in "Sky Blue Pink" which I am trying to make up into a scarf for myself. Pretty hard to tell at this point what it's going to look like. Color is also off on this one.

Did I mention I finally finished those pink socks for Boy-child? With orange reinforcing thread. They look pretty cool. He wants purple next, but that won't be started for a while.
This is a turtle I did by request. I felted it down and am rather dissatisfied with the results. The question is, do I knit up another to see if I can make a better one or just give her something I think is sub-standard?
And finally, the daughter of a friend stopped by with a hat-in-progress-in-need-of-help this morning. That girl has good taste in yarn - Misti Alpaca. We got her all set up and loaned her a couple of books and sent her on her merry way.

Banned Books Week

Most Frequently Challenged Books for 2008

Banned Books Week starts September 26th.

  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman. Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • TTYL; TTFN; L8TR, G8TR (series), by Lauren Myracle. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz. Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya. Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  • Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen. Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper. Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

When the kids were younger we used this list for ideas and inspiration - they tend to be well written (I'll say Gossip Girl notwithstanding even though I'll confess I've never read one of them) and they are always thought provoking.

Apparently the San Francisco Public Library did pull a book from the collection when the author made the request; He was afraid government officials were invading his thoughts. Not kidding. Read about it here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Shoes

No one can tell me my girl doesn't get her money's worth out of her shoes:
I delivered the new ones to campus yesterday. She was wearing the old ones.

They're the same shoe.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Percent

I feel like such a dork. I was annoyed yesterday with all the people who asked me what I'd voted on. Didn't they know there was a primary? Apparently not. Five percent voter turnout.
At least I didn't spend my morning trying to get out the vote like this guy. There is someone dorkier than I am. And working a hopeless cause (Well, Coleman did win, but it was only five percent of the population, so how much does it mean?)
I love these chairs. Boy-child had fun on the giant one recently.
And these are some of the decorated balloons that we've had hanging around for a while. I finally threw them out the other day. I don't know who did what because I wasn't here for most of the decorating, but I enjoyed having them around - they always made me smile:

I threw them out because I was cleaning. We had friends over. Our friends' nineteen year old son is going on a bike trip. To Argentina. Not kidding. If he makes it, he'll try to stop at our place in Chile.

I the meantime, I got a sock commission today - Pagewood Farms Yukon. One hank for the requested socks and one hank for myself. Yum! Love that yarn.

Speaking of knitting, I went to Knitters' Guild last night for the annual State Fair program; got to hear all of the comments and see all of the beautiful submissions from the fair this year. The woman who won the sweepstakes was particularly heartwarming. I was joined by a friend who's never attended before and it was fun to see the program from a new perspective.

Tonight was book club. There were four of us and we'd all read the book. Amazing. (We read The Outlander by Gil Adamson - a fun read). I took a bag full of socks with to work in the ends - everything I've finished since the weather got warm. I hate weaving in the ends. I made great progress and everyone will have new socks this winter.

Finally, after working on a seditious project at the office with very little hope of a positive result (I'm just that stubborn when I think I'm right) I found out today that we did, in fact, convice The Powers That Be that we were right. Vindicated.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week of Mondays

Although there was no Monday this week, it was a week of Mondays. Every day. By Friday I had to leave early; after finishing a project I found this list of Subject Headings and was laughing hysterically in my office. When The Boss looked at the list she told me it wasn't really that funny and I should go home because I had obviously gone over the edge.

I stand by the fact that the list is hilarious. How many people look for books under these subject headings, do you think?

  • Amicable numbers
  • Drooling (may subdivide geographically)
  • Garbage can models of decision making
  • Grudges (fishes)
  • Postmortem photography
  • Television in birth control
  • Urine dance

Also, it's interesting to note some of the subheadings and number of records at the Library of Congress for: Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946-

--Correspondence (1 record)
--Military leadership (4 records)
--Poetry (1 record)
--Public appearances (2 records)
--Public opinion (2 records)
--Ethics (16 records)
--Juvenile literature (25 records! hmm)

Students are back at the U, Boy-child is in a new school, work is busy, busy, busy.

Girl-child has finally found her perfect schedule. I think that electronic registration has good and bad elements; we probably didn't switch classes much because the process was so cumbersome. Students can now see what's offered, what's open and change their classes in less than five minutes. Girl-child fine tuned over the summer and then this week dumped the film-study prof who reminded her of Woody Allen.

Remember when people liked Woody Allen and thought he was funny?

Of course, modern living has its drawbacks too. After watching the bus race past her without even pretending to stop the other night (and she wasn't the only one waiting for the bus either) some creep stopped his car and asked her if she wanted a ride. Wow. She even said later, "I didn't know that really happened!"

There has been a lot of crime on and near campus in the past few weeks. I feel bad for the small town kids who don't have the skills that city kids have.

Anyway, on a brighter note, I've been knitting a bit. Boy-child wanted a hat, so I found this one. Looks quite plain from the side:
But has some nice shaping at the top:
I also unveiled my latest sock-monkey last night. He's been done for a while but was waiting for the birthday to be celebrated in order to come out of hiding.

On a rather sad note, all of the knit tags we have placed around town have disappeared except for one. My original tag and its answer were taken down recently when the handrail was painted. I've knit a new tag but haven't been able to put it up yet.

We have the post outside of Borealis knits to inspire us, though. I think they did a beautiful job:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Autumnal Musings

I love this time of year. Although we didn't have a hot summer this year, I normally welcome the end of hot weather plus I love the colors.
Girl-child and I went to see the monster in Lake of the Isles yesterday - see it? Peeking through the flowers?
Here's a better sighting:
The monster is quite friendly with folks in canoes:
Make Way for Ducklings (and ducks) is alive and well in Minneapolis:
I was surprised to see that several houses on the lake are on the auction block. I don't know why I was surprised.End of summer stuff has been keeping us busy at our house. We got a new roof last week. We're not sure what color it is, but we like it.
Girl-child moved into a nice little house in a lovely neighborhood. There are five girls - they all lived in the same dorm last year.
She's fixed up her corner quite a bit already.
It's fun to watch children spread thier wings.
Boy-child is starting a new school today. I'm not going to hold my breath (I could perish in the process), but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Makes it hard to knit though.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Have I ever mentioned that I love the Saturday Farmers' Market?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I had the most delightful company at lunchtime today:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is a Browser?

This makes me giggle:

Why do people have such a hard time saying, "I don't know"?