Archive for September, 2009

Nina Blackwood Makes Me Crazy

Posted: September 23, 2009 in Ramblings
 
This past summer I signed up for Sirius satellite radio so that I could have nonstop music in the car.  I hate talk radio, and commercials, and so on.  First let me say that I was completely misled by the Sirius ads; the music channels are NOT talk-free, but "commercial-free."  There are DJs blabbing away on there all the time.  But that is not my complaint for today.  (That was my complaint of June 25, when I emailed Sirius to register my annoyance – both my annoyance at the blabbing DJs and my annoyance at having been misled into thinking it was a talk-free radio situation.)
 
My complaint for today is the programming on the Sirius 80s channel.  I spend, and I calculated this, about 16-20 minutes each morning driving Alex to school and then coming back home.  Sometimes this is a little longer if I need to run errands, but generally 45 minutes is the top amount of time I spend in the car each morning.  Occasionally I go out in the afternoon for a little while.
 
Before I get to the actual complaint, let’s do some math to find out how many songs were recorded in the 80s.  We’ll use an extremely conservative estimate and say that only one album was released per week, which anyone who lived through the 1980s knows is ridiculous.  Duran Duran and R.E.M. alone seemed to release an album every week!  So…
 
Number of years in the 1980s:  10
Therefore, number of weeks in the 1980s:  520, which means 520 albums, going by our estimate.
Let’s say 10 songs per album…which means 5200 songs.
Estimate 3 minutes per song…which means 15,600 minutes’ worth of songs.
Divide that by 60 and you get 260 hours.
 
Conservatively, therefore, two hundred and sixty hours of discrete 1980s songs would need to be played before coming to a repeat.  (Not necessarily, but could also be, discreet songs!)
 
And yet, EVERY DAY I hear
 
  • an REO Speedwagon song
  • Tears for Fears’ "Shout"
  • Thompson Twins’ "Lies"

Seriously (ha ha), I’m so tired of the Thompson Twins (whom I never even liked much DURING the 1980s) that I’d like to quit my Sirius subscription.  Because I have a convertible, I can’t read the display on the radio properly to select a different channel – not while driving, anyway.  The 80s channel is the least offensive of all the early-in-the-list channels; for example, the 1950s channel may have one song in ten that I know, the sixties maybe 3 out of 10, but on the 80s channel, I know them all, and I sing them all (except "Shout" and "Lies" because I’m too busy yelling at the radio).

Please, please…take these out of rotation for a while?  At least in the morning?

On the positive side, it’s nice to hear Nina and Martha and everybody from the old days on MTV.

This card is obviously not an anagram card.  I just whipped it up out of nostalgia.

Industrial Espionage

Posted: September 18, 2009 in Ramblings

With Halloween fast approaching, I have picked up the threads of my abandoned steampunk movement and begun trying to knit them into a whole.  I never quite decided what type of character my girl would be (although some of you may remember the now-defunct Professor Edward Delamaine who was the male persona/ancestor I invented back in the beginning of my interest in steampunk).  Over the last few weeks I’ve been eying various costumic bits, and bidding on many of them, but never quite certain how I wanted my character to end up.  I kept waffling between an intrepid explorer (think Amelia Earhart but more gadgety) or inventor – whose garb I could never quite figure out.  Cargo pants?  Skirt with many pockets??

Today I realized I ought to have a good pair of gloves no matter what.  After dithering around ebay and Amazon for a while I remembered an old pair of olive suede gardening gloves I’d bought when we planted all the roses, which are nice gloves, good quality, but they don’t always prevent the thorns from getting me when I’m pruning.  So I was happy to abandon them to a steampunk makeover.

First I cut off the fingertips.  There was also a bright blue embroidered label on the outside of the right glove marked “Washable,” so I had to cut that off.  It was really, really hard to get rid of all the bright blue, so I decided to put some brass rivets on it.  While I was fiddling with the rivets, I thought, why not add some leather to make sure the blue is really covered?  I have a lot of brown leather around, so I cut a few strips and riveted them to the glove.  Repeated this for the other hand.

While I was putting away my tools (!) I spotted something purchased on a whim at the leather store.  It’s leather, thin rust-colored strips braided and twisted and knotted to look like barbed wire.  I took one of these 3-yard lengths and wrapped it around and around the cuff of the right-hand glove, sliding it between the rivets (under the new leather section, which acted like a belt loop).  When I tied it off it looked great, and I thought, “Why the hell would anyone steampunk have barbed wire on her glove?  It’s too goth!”  Inspiration immediately struck:  she’s an industrial spy, and needs this to defend herself!

Of course the other glove now looked silly without it, but I didn’t see the logic in putting more of the barbed wire on the other glove.  But I do have brown leather lacing around, so I took a piece and wrapped it around the cuff and under the new leather “belt loop” in a similar fashion.  Justification?  A spy never knows when she’ll need a spare bit of lacing.  (Just ask Harriet.)

So, the gloves are done.  The hat and goggles have been done for a long time, though if my character is going to be a spy then the Victorian hat is probably too much to wear on covert ops; maybe I’ll get an aviator cap.  The pocketwatch is here.  I have loads of miscellaneous buckles, leather, chains, rivets, snaps and lacing to be used as I see fit.  I’m going to minorly revamp my Ray Gun.  I just need the jacket OR vest OR this funky corset.  The black pants Mom made me last spring will suit; they’re plain, black, and will tuck nicely into my boots.

And yes.  You’ll see pics when I’m ready.

Why Things Happen

Posted: September 16, 2009 in Ramblings
 
OK.  I’ve had this problem with scissors and pocket mirrors.  I buy them; they go missing.  I can think of at least six pocket mirrors that I’ve purchased for my handbags, and can’t find a single one.  Ditto scissors.  It seems like every time I need to cut something, the only scissors I can find are the kitchen (food) scissors or my knitting scissors – I can never find the plain cheap ones we get from the drugstore for cutting twine, paper, etc.
 
Today I was rummaging around in my makeup drawer and I found the silver engraved compact that my parents had gotten me for my college graduation gift.  I instantly thought, "It’s a good thing I never carry THAT in my handbag, or I’d have lost it long before now!"  Followed closely by, "Perhaps I would stop losing compacts if I carried these fancy expensive types – because I’d be more careful about them."
 
So I am trying to figure out which of these is true.  Unfortunately I suspect my first thought was closer to the truth, and for that reason I will not test my luck by carrying the engraved compact.  I’m sure I would be heartbroken to come back and report that I’d lost it.  I can’t think of any other empirical way to test this scenario, though; can you?
 
Actually, the scissors scenario might hold the key to this.  I have a pair of gold-handled Solingen dressmaker’s scissors that Mom and Dad bought me for my 21st birthday.  I keep these in my knitting toolbox, which sits next to my knitting chair, and other than moving them from the box to my lap and occasionally from my lap to the shelf next to me, these never go anywhere.  And in all these years I’ve never lost them.  I also have upstairs two pairs of Gingher scissors, one small pair and one larger pair for cutting fabric.  These never leave the sewing room.  And then there are the kitchen scissors which we use for cutting up chickens or cutting open bags of food where we want the scissors to be clean.  These never leave the kitchen.
 
All the missing scissors have been toted around the house constantly.  They are usually in the kitchen drawer.  Alex uses them for art…then I take them to the front room to cut open a parcel…Chris may use them to cut open bags of birdseed or to slit open mail…so, they get used by a lot of people and moved around a lot.  This makes it easier to lose them, I think.
 
So…there’s my blathering for the day.  Here’s another Yu-Gi-Oh card for you to look at.  If any serious Yu-Gi-Oh players happen to stumble across these cards, please note that when I was making them, I wasn’t as involved a player as I am now, so I didn’t understand (for example) that "Normal" monsters are monsters without effects…or the nuances between spell cards & trap cards, for example.  Just roll with it.
 

Exeter H. S. and Friends

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Ramblings
 
Today has been a day simply brimming with high school memories.  I dug out my old clarinet because we’ve been discussing school orchestra for Alex.  This clarinet probably hasn’t seen the light of day in 20 years or more.  I gave up playing it in about 10th grade when my friend Lisa and I switched from Bb clarinet to Eb (alto) clarinet; Lisa later went on to bass clarinet and then contrabass (courtesy of the school district, not her parents’ wallet!).  I was able to easily play some stuff by ear today (yes! with a 20-year-old reed!).  The problem here is that while I can still read music, and while I can still play the clarinet, I have to bridge the gap between them, so that when I look at a printed note, I know how the fingering goes.  That’s my upcoming project.
 
So, while shopping online for reeds, a new ligature, etc., I spent a lot of time thinking about high school band:  those freezing parades, those idiotic white bucks…I really don’t know why I stuck with band all those years, because I wasn’t very good at it.  It was a social club, I guess.  Certainly Lisa and I had a lot of fun together.
 
Later I had a bit more high school memory brought to the forefront of my mind when Chris was watching an episode of "Doctor Who."  Normally the Daleks yell "Exterminate!"  But in this episode they were in Germany, so they yelled "Exterminieren!" (the German word for "exterminate").  Well, there are a LOT of German verbs that are like this, English-sounding + ‘-ieren’ on the end…"telefonieren," "explanieren," "studieren," – in fact I’m not even sure whether "explanieren" is a correct one.  My spell-check isn’t catching it at the moment, so maybe it is.  In high school German class I was known for blithely tacking ‘-ieren’ on the end of any verb…"refrigerieren," "delegatieren," "announcieren"!  Eventually everyone started doing this.  So, thanks to the Daleks, I have Carolyn in my mind too, because not only did Carolyn and I both study German all the way from 7th grade through college together (including our junior years abroad), but she went on to become the high school German teacher at our high school!
 
So, Lisa and Carolyn, if you’re reading this, Guten Tag, and have a memory-filled day!
 

I Go Pogo

Posted: September 10, 2009 in Ramblings
 
Most of my American family knows what a fan I am of "Pogo."  Been reading it for about 40 years, I’d guess.  So, the key problem here is that the political aspects of old Pogo strips are completely non-topical (even in the late ’60s when I started reading them – because I was reading strips from the early ’50s at that time).  Most of the time I can pick out the politicos being caricatured ("Fido" being Fidel Castro, for example; Khruschev being the Russian pig).  The faces on the political animals clearly represent the person they’re spoofing. 
 
Now, one character that I still don’t get after all these years of reading is Prince Pompadoodle.  Going by some of the poems in "Pogo Revisited," I have to conclude that this is a caricature of Georges Pompidou.  Certainly the name seems right; the timing is right for Kelly’s strips.  But Kelly portrayed Prince Pompadoodle as an overstuffed, clueless ruler.  I only know of Pompidou what I have recently read on Wikipedia, but there is nothing written there to justify the scorn that Kelly repeatedly heaps upon the Pompadoodle character.  In fact the Wikipedia article mentions the prosperity of France under Pompidou, the modernization of Paris, and other reasonable endeavors that have led him to be favorably remembered in France.
 
Can anyone confirm for me that Pompadoodle is indeed a caricature of Pompidou?  And if so, was there some Pompidou news item back in the day, which might have spurred Kelly on to the derision he shows in Pogo?  Perhaps there was something topical that irked Kelly, something newsworthy, which has failed to be recorded in Wikipedia?
 
I’m going to spend some time reading more about Pompidou to see if there’s something I haven’t learned about yet…but any help will be appreciated.

Now We’re Talking!

Posted: September 9, 2009 in Ramblings
 
All right!  Now you can finally see how this sweater is beginning to shape up.  You’ll notice it looks a bit A-shaped but that is because the front of the sweater (not shown) is on holders, which pulls it in a bit, while the back is being worked.  In this picture I am up to 3 strands of "10 Green Yellow."  My sweater is differing slightly from the pattern I wrote, because of the miscalculations mentioned in this morning’s blog post…happily I was able to devise a way to recover the design without any frogging.
 

Bad Days

Posted: September 9, 2009 in Ramblings
 
Wow.  I’ve had bad days before, and so have Chris and Alex, but here it is only 8:48 in the morning and it seems like we’ve all had a really full day of bad things happening!
 
First of all we all woke up late.  Naturally this resulted in a lot of rushing around.  Chris finally left for work and was back a few moments later to change his shirt because he’d gotten coffee on it.
 
I decided to take a peek at my online Spectrum Sweater project (to peek at the online pattern) and I discovered that what is online did not match the paper printout I’ve been working from.  Further investigation revealed that my paper is wrong, and that I will have to scramble to fix my sweater!  I ended up fiddling with the printout, the website, and the .pdf of the pattern so much that we became late for school.
 
On the way to school I noticed (a) Alex is wearing jeans that are about 3" too short for him and (b) he hadn’t eaten breakfast.  I had an emergency Balance Bar in my handbag but he wouldn’t eat it.
 
Dropped him at school; got home to find out Max had missed the litter box this morning and there was a puddle on the floor.  Cleaned that up.
 
Went into the kitchen; found that Alex had left his homework folder here.  I figured I’d email his teacher and ask if I need to drive it over, but I don’t have her email address, and it’s not on the school website!
 
However, there were some things that could easily have gone bad that didn’t:
  1. We drove to school with the top down, and while it looked rainy, it didn’t actually rain on us.
  2. Alex didn’t forget to wear pants or shoes or anything important.
  3. Neither did I.
  4. The cats are not sick.

So, I plan to hibernate in the house and knit the revised pattern in hopes of avoiding other issues!