Thursday, March 31, 2005

In the news...

What goes up must come down:

An Edmonton woman had a rude awakening Thursday morning – when a bullet tore through her bedroom ceiling and hit her in the chest.

Guns are *not* toys.

Seven Degrees of Separation

Or considerably less, to tonight's episode of CSI. I'm not sure how 3rd Tech scored that blatant plug, but it was pretty cool to see technology from my department on prime time network tv. :)

Am I a geek to think that technology counts in the "seven degrees of separation" thing? Well, there's probably a trail of less than seven people that provides the associated human link. ;)

I knew to watch for it beforehand, but I wasn't sure if I could blog about it or not. The set photo that was passed around the department wasn't for public distribution, so I knew I couldn't use that.

Hmmm... I seem to be rather post-happy today. I suppose I should include something fibery?

My turquiose socks are coming along, and I'm nearing the heel for the second sock. I've restarted Bob's socks, and have about 1/3 to 1/2 a foot done. The black looks okay as stripes, but not as good as charcoal would have. I guess I should have bought that charcoal yarn when I had the chance, so I wouldn't have to guestimate based on web pics. The black matches, but is rather stark. The swatch looked kind of "charcoally" on, but I think I must have actually wanted "black heather".

*sigh*. I *love* Lang Jawoll Cotton Blend Superwash. I love all their heathered solids. :) I just wish it were cheaper. Sockotta feels really nice too, and has fun variegated colours, but they don't have the heathered solids that I can stripe together. However, since Sockotta is about half the price of Lang Jawoll, I'll probably be buying more Sockotta before I buy more Lang Jawoll. Of course, given how much sock yarn I have, I really shouldn't be planning any more purchases for quite a while anyway... except, it *would* be nice to have more cotton blend socks for summer. I only have five pair now, which is 3-5 short for a week, depending on humid summer air drying time. I have one pair worth in my stash, and can probably make a pair from the leftovers from Bob's socks... that leaves me only 1-3 pairs short. Hmmm...

No! I will be good! I will use more stash yarn before buying more yarn! (If nothing else, I'll use up the cotton sock yarn that I have. ;) ) Given the recent rise in temperature (enough that I debated turning the air conditioner on, and have been wearing shorts the past two days), I should probably bump up the priority of my cotton socks.

Hmmm... I think this will be the order: finish my turquoise socks (they're so close to done anyway), then make my blue cotton socks the commuter socks. Bob's socks will have evening priority until my sock pal's plain socks return, at which point I'll rework those pronto. I imagine I'll finish Bob's socks around the time I'm done my blue cotton commuter socks, and thus the remnants of Bob's socks will become my following pair of commuter socks, and my evenings will go back to being non-commuter projects. Non-commuter projects include my throw, my afghan (if I ever get it out of limbo), and non-memorizable patterns such as snowflakes. I'm not sure why I started doing Bob's socks as a non-commuter project, except maybe I was feeling guilty at them sitting undone for so long.

I think tomorrow evening I'll do the "flash your stash"... I've lost some scrap bits of sock yarn that I want to use for a fun idea I have. I seem to be able to locate most of my scrap sock yarn, except for the baggie containing the specific colours I want. I'm beginning to suspect I left those bits in Winnipeg last Christmas. I think if I haul out my stash, I'll be able to rule out the bits being here. I have a backup colour, but I'd prefer to use my first choice if it's around.


The squirrels are fatter down here. I like to call them fuzzy-tailed rats, because they're constantly getting in the garbage cans in my neighbourhood. Just how fat are they? Well, as I was walking to the grocery store just now (I was out of salad dressing), I looked across the street and thought "gee, that's a fat squirrel". Then I realised it had long ears... it was a bunny rabbit. So the squirrels aren't quite as fat as bunny rabbits, but they're close. Either that, or I need to get new glasses. (Which is very likely... my current pair are at least two years old.)

Another difference I noticed this morning, as I was putting some recycling out before dawn. There are *way* more songbirds down here. The dawn chorus reminded me of the chorus in Barbados... except this morning's chorus lacked the screaming monkeys and chickens. (No, I never needed my alarm clock in Barbados.)

Of course, I rarely got up before dawn in Winnipeg (winter doesn't count... not many songbirds around then in Winnipeg), but I did sleep with the windows open up at the lake. At dusk I'd hear the loons, but the only dawn chorus I can remember involved the kingfisher whacking minnows on the roof to stun them before feeding them to the chicks cheeping outside our window. Very cute, but rather annoying. Dawn comes *really* early in Flin Flon in the summer.

Origami Math

This morning I taught zillions of grade seven students how to make modular polyhedra.

Um, well, maybe only 125 grade seven students, and I taught them the unit... only two groups in the last session were fast enough to create a cube.

*But*, they enjoyed it immensely, so did the teachers, and I gave one teacher a one-on-one tutorial afterwards so she can help any students who want to make something more exciting than a cube. Yes, I had them so excited about math that even after I left, they kept folding units in the "dead time" before their next class. Pretty impressive, huh? Grade seven students that had *fun* at school?!? I'm impressed with myself, if nothing else.

My head should shrink in the next day or so.

Of course, it could just be puffy because I had to get up at 5am, in order to be ready to leave the house at 6:20, in order to get to school for 7:30. 7:30?!? That's the time I got *up* yesterday. Schools around here start looney-early.

Flash Your Stash

Oooo... tomorrow is "flash your stash" day. Sounds like fun. ;)

In the news...

A new United Nations report says we are using up our natural resources too fast and are in danger of destroying about two-thirds of the Earth's ecosystems.

"They don't support the troops in Iraq"

Various people were talking about the AARP (American Association of Retired People?) on NPR this morning. I don't remember the details (it was 5am), but they were discussing how the AARP has opinions on different issues, like privatizing social security. Well, one of the people criticizing the AARP listed a bunch of the "bad things" about the AARP, culminating with "they don't support our troops in Iraq."

Huh? Where'd that come from?

One of the things I've noticed living down here is that "you don't support our troops in Iraq" has come to mean "you are unpatriotic/unamerican and a *really* baaaaad person". Criticizing Bush or the war usually equates to "you don't support our troops". And, well, the AARP dares to criticize Bush.

I'll file this under "differences". Up in Canada, criticizing the government is normal, and considered healthy. We do it all the time. Regularly. Without, I might add, a huge amount of backlash. After all, if we don't criticize our government, how will we make sure it doesn't go and do something stupid? (Like, um, start a war with a random country?) The US supposedly has freedom of speech, but good luck if you try to use it!

I keep wondering if the FBI has started a file on me yet...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

WOW Wednesday

Tomorrow I'll be teaching 125 grade seven kids about origami, math, and science. Luckily, not all at once. They'll hit me in four mobs. If I remember grade seven correctly, "mob" is the correct term. We're going to make modular polyhedra. Is that the right level for grade seven? I seem to remember we did polyhedra back when I was in grade seven. Anyway, since I just finished turning 400+ sheets of coloured office paper from rectangles into squares, I'll share my tip of how to get reasonably good squares with a standard office guillotine paper cutter.


Mass Producing Origami Squares from Office Paper

First of all, ignore the lines on the paper cutter. They are nowhere near accurate, and will only produce bad squares. (aka near-square rectangles.)

Lift the guillotine arm about half way, so that the midpoint of the arm is in contact with the base. Take a piece of paper, and rest it against both the arm and the guide at the top, with the long side against the arm. (We'll hope the guide at the top is at least square and not skewed.)

Take a scrap piece of paper, and butt it up against the first piece of paper, on the opposite side from the guillotine arm. Tape this scrap piece to the base, but don't place any tape along the edge in contact with the good paper. This scrap of paper will be your paper guide, and you will be able to use it by touch. Lining up by touch is much faster than by eye.

Now, taking a few sheets at a time, make sure they're aligned, and then butt them up agains the paper guide and top of the base (this time with the long edge along the top of the base), and, while holding the paper firmly to the base, bring the guillotine arm down.

You don't want to cut too many sheets at once, because the guillotine arm will pull the paper and you wont get squares.

I'd include pictures, but I left m camera at home.

In the news...

Hmmm... this sounds interesting:

An Inuit-owned company in northern Quebec is getting into the cruise
line business this summer.

I've been thinking it would be neat to see some more of the north. I think my interest would depend on whether the ports of call remained relatively traditional, or simply became tourist traps.

Fair Warning

This thread may or may not be a hoax, but I completely support the actions (supposedly) taken. Fair warning: if you try to get me to help you cheat, I will report your sorry @$$ to the head of your department (literally), and dance on your grave (figuratively). This is no idle threat... I have done so in the past, and will continue to do so.

Links found on Ernie's 3D Pancakes. Another good link (same source) is that ACM will publicly humiliate you too!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Six Minutes

I have six minutes before my self-imposed bedtime, and typing is slow with my wrist brace on. Yes, carpal still acting up. All my dishes were clean, so I had a nice dinner tonight. Now I have dirty dishes again. Go figure. But, I did ride my exercise bike for 40 minutes. :) I just thought I'd stop in and say hi. :)

My thread came today! Wow, there's a lot of thread in that box! I think I may be set for life. I'll post a picture eventually. For now, just imagine an office paper box filled to the brim with pretty thread. ;)

No news from my sockapalooza pal (giver) on whether the socks will stretch, or whether I should send them back to have the toes made bigger. Luckily, they're ankle down socks, not toe up!

Time's up. Good night!

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Niftiest Socks Ever!

Well, there may be niftier socks out there, but these are the niftiest I've ever owned! My sockapalooza socks arrived today! Aren't they awesome?

Here's a feet-in-socks shot:

Unfortunately, that last photo was a bit difficult to take... my feet are clunkier than the socks:

Yep, you see what you think you see. Pointy toed sock, and clunky, square toed foot. In fact, the purple sock is a left-foot-only sock. My big fat right ankle wouldn't fit in the purple sock, but the slightly wimpier left ankle just barely managed. Although I got my feet in, they're very tight. I need to e-mail my sock pal to see if I should expect them to stretch, or if I'll damage them trying to wear them. :( I really don't want to hurt my nifty socks... they're sooooo pretty, and must have taken *ages* to make!

Thank you sock pal! They're gorgeous, and I love them! I just wish I could wear them...

More good news tonight... my cousin Margie sent me a really nice card (to go along with her nice phone call), I ate a real dinner, *and* I washed all my dishes! I didn't get on my bike tonight... but I did ride an hour yesterday. (Although my scale still had nasty words for me this morning... even worse than usual!)

Well, I should e-mail my sock pal, and then head to bed. I made some proposal progress today, so I should get up bright and early and make even more progress tomorrow.

Dishing the Dirt

I repotted an office plant today. It's a nice big ficus that someone was strangling in a teeny tiny pot. Well, it was probably an 8-10" pot, but the tree is taller than I am. There was basically nothing but roots in the pot. I got a pot from a friend who had found it discarded (perfectly good!) and splurged $5 for a bag of dirt. Outrageous price for dirt, given the size of the bag. (Dirt is cheaper in Winnipeg, although still not dirt-cheap.) As I suspected, there wasn't quite enough dirt in the bag. However, if I buy a second, I'll have way too much. Why's that always the case with dirt? I've got a bit of old stuff sitting outside (it was for my outside planters, not my indoor plants), so I'll have to see if it's full of bugs. There are way too many nasty bugs in NC. I wouldn't mind having leftover dirt if I were expecting to need it at some point, but I'll be moving back home soon... and will have no need for dirt between now and then.

Repotting was kind of fun, though. There was a great big root coming out one of the holes in the old pot, and since the old pot was cracked anyway, I decided to sacrifice the pot rather than the root. I tried to break the plastic pot with my hands last Thursday, but it wasn't cooperating. So today I brought in my hammer and a few other miscellaneous tools. It's hammer time! I'm not sure I found all the pot shards that went flying, but I definitely enjoyed the depotting process. :) Thankfully no one lost an eye. I'm feeling considerably more cheerful and less frustrated than I did about a half hour ago.

Now if only I could hammer out this dang proposal!

Good news on the oven: I called to check, and they were able to replace the element. So I'll test it out tonight by baking up the remaining pita dough that's growing in the fridge. (Hmmm... I wonder how this'll work?)

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Recently I've been pretty good about remembering to take my magnesium supplement, and my headaches went away. I remember marvelling on Thursday that I was headache free, and realizing I had been that way for a while.

Yesterday I forgot to take my vitamins.

Today I have a headache.

I'm pretty convinced now that my headaches are caused by a magnesium deficiency. (My mom dug up that potential cause after they started to be a regular problem for me.) Now... what's causing the magnesium deficiency, I wonder? I know I don't have great eating habits, but I'm wondering if any of my medications could be causing this?

I can't wait until I'm off the antibiotics for my zits. I can't take my vitamins at the same time as the antibiotics, so now I have a hard time remembering to take my vitamins. :P

Oven Excitement

Today was "bake my pita bread" day today... but it became bake 3/4 of my pita bread, and burn out the element in the oven.

Taking the third batch out, I noticed a bright spot on the element. As I prepared to put the fourth batch in, I discovered the bright red spot was now bright white. I turned the oven off, and it didn't seem to go out. I closed the oven door, and came back a minute later. Still there. The stupid cover for the circuit box is being stubborn and won't open. I call maintenance, and ask them to find someone to come tonight, if possible, since the glowing spot was still glowing. After I hang up, I manage to get the circuit breaker box open, figure out which one is the range, go unplug my computer in case I'm wrong, then turn the oven off. I test by turning an element on, and the "element on" light doesn't light up.

After a while the glowing spot goes out. While it was bright, though, it moved about four inches, and all along the space where it had passed there's crumbly ash on top. Here's how it looks:

I called maintenance to let them know they can come tomorrow. I stuck the remaining pita dough in the fridge. If my oven doesn't get fixed tomorrow, I'll try alternate cooking methods. (BBQ? Frying pan? This should be interesting. Reminds me of baking at the lake.)

Moon Pies and Wagon Wheels

I think this one should be filed under "similarity".

Karla blogged about a southern treat called Moon Pies on her blog, so I asked her what they were. She described them, and I thought, "gee, those sound a lot like Wagon Wheels." It turns out they are... here's a BBC article with a bit of history on moon pies, and how they were copied and sold under other names, like wagon wheels. Neat!

Wagon wheels bring up two memories for me.

The first is a trip to a candy making plant in Winnipeg. My grade 6 class went there on a field trip. It was fascinating! We got to see the assembly lines (are they called that for candies and cookies?), and saw how gummies were tumbled in a big barrel (cement style) to apply wax to make them shiny. Have you eaten blue gummi whales? I've seen them made! Well, at the end of the tour, they gave each student a box of goodies. One of the treats inside was a wagon wheel. That was one of my favourite school field trips. I'm sure the teachers weren't too thrilled with our sugar high, though. ;) (In addition to giving us take-home boxes, they also gave us samples along the tour.)

The second memory is of a fairly unique feature of Winnipeg.

Most cities have problems with their (original) main streets being too narrow. Winnipeg doesn't. We've got nice, wide, six lane plus boulevard and sidewalks streets. It's not because someone thought about massive increases in traffic way back then. It's because of the Red River oxcart.

A Red River oxcart is a two wheeled cart that is pulled by a single ox. From the cart, there extends two rigid poles, and the ox is tethered between these poles. If you ever complain about the turning radius of your car, try an oxcart. You will never complain again. The main streets in Winnipeg were planned so that an oxcart would have enough room to make a u-turn.

Now don't you wish your early settlers had oxcarts? ;)

I tried to find a picture of an oxcart for you, but my dial-up connection today seems as slow as molasses in January... in Winnipeg, not Chapel Hill. ;)

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Up north in Canada there's a great sport called curling. Like many Canadian sports, it involves ice. I won't bore you with the details. Back home, I enjoyed both playing and watching curling. It's one of the few sports I enjoy watching. Although I occasionally get a few headlines in the e-mailed news:

Canadian skip Jennifer Jones was shut out of the medals at the women's world curling championship after losing a playoff match Saturday in Paisley, Scotland.
FULL STORY:'s not the same.

This reminds me of a great episode of Due South. Well, the whole series is great, but I'm remembering the episode where the Chicago detective is forced to stay at the Canadian embassy with the weird mountie (not Benton Fraser) while the curling playoffs were on. If I remember correctly, by the end of the episode, the Chicago detective was yelling "SWEEP!!!" along with the rest. ;)

I wonder if they have Due South on DVD? Paul Gross is cute! ;)

Googling... oooo! They do! Um, and it'll only set me back $150 CDN for the first three seasons, with the fourth season expected out some time this year. For some reason, they're about $50 bucks each on, and $100 US on Could someone remind me why the American dollar is supposedly worth more?!? :P Hrm. Well, all that more incentive to graduate and get a high paying job. ;) Until then... reruns in my memory.

Weighty Issues

Cabbage weighs a lot. However, cabbage as cabbage costs less than cabbage as coleslaw. So my bank account prefers cabbage as cabbage, even if my arms and shoulders prefer coleslaw. A single head of cabbage by itself wouldn't be a problem... if it weren't for the other $60 worth of groceries I carry home from the grocery store.

I've discovered a small problem with my crocheting... I now own more socks than will fit in my sock & underwear drawer... and the socks keep coming.

I decided to buy some more Emu Superwash DK yarn. I calculated that 18 balls should be sufficient for a sweater or cardigan. I also ordered some more of the other colours for my afghan. My bank account wasn't too happy with me, but it'll survive.

I once again need to wash dishes before I can eat. I think I'll go have some coleslaw... I've got clean dishes for that. ;)

Happy Surprises

Today seems full of happy surprises... and I haven't been awake all that long!

At first it seemed like another dreary day... the sun is hiding behind the clouds, making it that much harder to get up, and noises coming from my neighbours apartment woke me up earlier than I wanted. (I stayed in bed for a while anyway, but it's not the same.)

Then I decided to check the mail. (I was actually intending to put some mail out, but it turns out the mailman was early today.) I got three fun things... all of which were expected, but not necessarily today. One was my National Geographic magazine, one was a big envelope from my mom (containing both my Canadian tax forms and a Gallery Glass window clinger she made), and the last was the Rowan Harry Potter sweater pattern that Johanna picked up for me!

Then, as I was about to have breakfast (lunch?), my cousin Margaret phoned! I almost never get phone calls! (Well, except for my dad on Fridays, and my mom on Sundays.) She called to tell me that she was thinking of me, and had faith in my abilities. (I'm doubting my abilities somewhat these days.) It was such a nice phone call. :)

Maybe this day won't be so gray and dreary after all!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Alison Echo

Hmmm... interesting:

I seem to have an "echo". The hits from Alison's site have fallen off. I noticed two interesting things in my site statistics, though. The first is the "echo" above... looks like some of Alisons readers were interested enough (or had nothing better to do) than to catch up on a bunch of my old posts. That's the only thing I can think of that would cause the number of page views to spike like that. The other interesting thing is that I seem to have a lot of "random" site referrals... and when I go to the site, there's no link to me. I'm guessing that Blogger noticed my brief increase in popularity, and increased the frequency with which it supplies my page as the "next blog". I imagine that will fall off too.

Don't worry... these graphs won't become a regular feature of my blog. I'm a bit of a graph geek (ooo... pretty graph!), but I'll restrict myself to those times when seomthing interesting happens. ;)

Crochet-A-Day Calendar

Hey, Annie is looking for more patterns for a 2007 calendar! Hmmm... I see she has an earlier deadline this time... I wonder if that's partially because of me. (Oops!) Hmmm... well, if I volunteer more patterns, I'll have them done *before* I ask her if she's interested. That way I know I'll actually have them for her by the deadline. ;)

Differences and Similarities

We both have "Sesame Street". Except, in Canada, all the Spanish portions are replaced by French portions. I'm not sure if there are any other differences. Of course, things may have changed since I was the right age for Sesame Street. I seem to vaguely recall something on the news about funding cuts and the French portion. Maybe they just show reruns these days.

I was watching the news the other day, and the sports people were talking about basketball. I'm not sure which of the current tournaments they were talking about, but it was one that involved local teams, and "Yukon". I couldn't for the life of me figure out what some Canadian territory was doing sending a team down here to play basketball, especially since I didn't know of any other Canadian teams playing. Then, in tiny text, I saw the letters "UCONN" on the box showing the score. So, we both have a "Yukon", but the Canadian version is much larger, colder, and probably has a smaller population. I haven't been to either, so I'm not sure how else they compare.

In Canada, Cadbury sells chocolate all year long, not just at Easter. Mmmm... I *love* Cadbury chocolate! ...Although I prefer Jersymilk over Dairymilk. But Dairymilk is still better than Hershey's any day. Cadbury Caramilk is one of my favourites. Other (not necessarily Cadbury) favourites include Easter Creme Eggs, Crunchie, Aero, Mars Bar, Smarties, and Kit Kat. I can actually buy Kit Kat down here, but it doesn't have a lot of chocolate on it (same as in Canada). If I'm going to shell out for a chocolate bar, I want *chocolate*.

Milky Way is *almost* like a Mars Bar, and is what keeps me going when I need a chocolate fix down here. If I'm not eating them side by side, I can forget the difference.

Smarties are completely different things in Canada and the US. Canadians: you know "rockets" candy? Well, Americans call those Smarties. Americans: Canadian Smarties are kind of like M&Ms, but better.

Oreos are different too. They're made by Christie in Canada, and by Nabisco in the US. Canadian Oreos have more calories, and are worth every one. American Oreos taste rather like chemicals, and are not worth their calories. At first I thought they were okay, but now I can't stand them. :P

Up north the sun may set earlier in winter, but it stays up much later in summer. I'll take a northern summer over a southern one any day.

In Canada, we also call a "parking garage" a "parkade"... so if I ever tell you "I left your car in the parkade", you'll know where to find it. ;) (Again, I'm sorry Paulina... back then I didn't realize you wouldn't understand my e-mail!)

In Canada, another "polite term" for "bathroom" is "washroom". I always forget that people around here haven't a clue what I'm talking about, so each time I ask where the washroom is, your blank looks baffle me. It's not like I'm talking about a parkade, or anything! ;)

A chesterfield is a couch, an ottoman is a footstool, and if you come in my office asking for these definitions, please explain yourself before wandering off. I feel rather baffled otherwise.

Back when I was in Canada, I thought Canadians and Americans spoke the same language, just with the occasional different spelling. It turns out I was wrong.

I'll leave you with a true "funny American" story. Waaaay back when, a friend of mine was playing in a street in Winnipeg when an American couple pulled over on their motorcycle. They said they were driving to Alaska for the weekend, and asked for directions.

(PS: To find out why that's funny, pull out an Atlas and a ruler.)


I have bad-news-burn-out. I think I need to switch to the music NPR from the talk NPR. I wonder... do they have organ music Thursdays like CBC? But then, waking up to the sounds of a funeral home can't be as bad as waking up to Terri and Iraq.

Although I've had enough with the fight over Terri, I rather like this website. I saw the link on Ernie's 3D Pancakes.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Well, I was halfway good tonight. I washed my dishes (and ate a proper meal!), but didn't get on my exercise bike. :P

I'll get on tomorrow. I promise!

I didn't ride tonight because I didn't have dinner until 8 (needed to wash dishes first), and I wanted to watch ER at 10. But I can't ride while watching ER, because then I'd need to have a shower after 11:00, and then it will be late when I get to bed. I'm trying to improve my sleeping habits. (Yes, I'm still up, but I'll be in bed momentarily.)

Tomorrow is Good Friday, but I'm not religious. I thought there was no bus service, but it turns out they're running a Saturday service. (From my area to campus, that means once per hour, from around 9-5.) I can't afford to take a holiday, because I didn't get very much done this week... and my eventual graduation depends on me making progress this term. I'm trying to decide if I should go in, or work from home.

I think I'll go in... I have a lot of trouble making myself work at home these days. However, I'll have to remember to catch the last bus home, or I'll have a 40 minute walk carrying my laptop and books and stuff. :P

Crochet progress: I did the heel twice on my sock today... I finished a very nice heel, and then realized I had forgotten to do my modification at the front of the ankle. Riiiip.

Smells of spring: rotting fish. Yes, spring around here occasionally smells like rotting fish. Why? There's this tree called a "Bradford pear". It has beautiful white blossoms, and berry sized "fruit". Thus, you don't have a big mess from the fruit. However, this tree has two major pitfalls: (1) the branches are brittle, and break easily (*great* for hurricane country... yeah, right), and (2) the blossoms seems to pick up the scent of whatever fertilizer is used on the tree. At least, that's the explanation someone gave me for why blooming Bradford pears stink of rotting fish. Blech. I don't know why people around here insist on planting this tree. *sigh*


No walk for me today. K's swamped, so I said I'd walk by myself... although I changed my mind when she e-mailed me this: "Be careful - there are crazy people out. Some guys just came in here chasing other guys with knives, and T had to call the police." Good for T... she told the bad guys they had to "take that out of here", and then called the police. That has to take some guts, telling guys with knives what to do.

But yikes! What's this town coming to? From the hallway discussion, they caught the guys with knives (mostly black with one white), but the guys being chased (latinos) were unarmed, and looked rather beat up when talking to police. Was it gang related? Racism? Whatever it is, it happened in the middle of the flipping day in a good part of town, not late at night in some back alley!

I'll just enjoy the sun streaming in through my window, and get my exercise tonight on my in-a-locked-house bike. (It's still "that time", but my scale said some very nasty things to me this morning.)


This is a result I didn't expect... although I guess the description fits.

You Are 55% Normal
(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

Teeter Totter

I'm having a bit of a tug of war with myself. I really like the Emu Superwash DK I got recently for my wool afghan. It's not *quite* as soft as the Filatura di Crosa, but I like how it's working up. I'm having visions of a sweater or cardigan in the sage colour... plus I think I should get some more balls for my afghan.

  • I like the fabric it makes, and think it will make a nice sweater or cardigan.
  • It's a good price ($2.75/50g ball).
  • It's machine washable
  • It's wool.
  • I could use a few more sweaters
  • I'd really like another cardigan, less baggy than my previous one.
  • The yarn is on sale, and may disappear soon.

  • I have a bunch of "projects in waiting" that should be done before I buy yarn for yet another project.
  • I may find another nice yarn at a similar or better price.
  • I've been spending too much money lately, especially on yarn.
  • I don't know how many balls I'd need for this unknown sweater/cardigan.


So, my friendly readers... if you're buying yarn for your stash to eventually make a sweater, how much do you buy?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Alison Effect

The Alison effect is very definitely short lived:

(Unless, of course, I get a couple hundred hits in the next half hour... but I doubt that.)

Bye Alison's readers! Thanks for visiting. :)

Ring Around The Rosies

This ring ain't no posie.

Last time I ran out of toilet bowl cleaner, I decided to give that Chlorox "teflon" stuff a shot. Well, it hasn't been that long, and I've got a nasty ring around the bowl. Even after cleaning it again tonight, the top still isn't pristine. I think I'm less than impressed with this "teflon" stuff. The question is, do I shell out now for another new bottle of cleaner, or do I continue using this stuff until I graduate? I'm cheap... I guess I'll keep using it, even if it means having to clean more often. :P

Tonight I made pudding! (My milk was due to expire... use it or lose it. ;) ) Mmmmm....

Oh, and that Yooper bar had an extremely short shelf life. I tried a corner the first night, and it didn't survive the second. Oops.

I should have gotten back on my exercise bike tonight, but it's "that time", and there are certain discomforts I'd prefer to avoid.

Hmmmm... this is not the most pleasant post. Well, how about I post crocheted stuff.

Here's my latest afghan squares:

The third one (the completely plain one) isn't finished... it will have some embroidery similar to the heart square, but this time in a floral motif. Also, I couldn't stay away from socks:

I'm calling this pair my turquoise socks, but equally good names would be "subtle stripe" or "Monet's Irises". I love how they're turning out. I'm using two very similar colourways of Lang Jawoll (not cotton this time). The plies seem to like to separate and "bunch", but I love the colours. :)

Back to the bizarre... I'm wondering if maybe my carpal tunnel is also acting up because it's "that time". I know my knees, hips, shoulders and elbows have been whining occasionally the past few days as well, and one day those whines in my legs felt kind of crampy. Any of you other ladies with carpal tunnel notice a pattern?

Well, I had thought about doing my dishes tonight (that would make two nights in a row!), but I think an alternate "being good" idea would be to go to bed now. I was up too late last night, and subsequently slept in too long this morning. Good night!

In the news...

Remember to pay taxes on *all* your income:

A Winnipeg woman already serving prison time for embezzling money from her employer has now been fined for not paying income tax on the cash she stole.

WOW Wednesday

It's that time of the week again.

Let R be the set of people that read my blog, let C be the set of people with carpal tunnel, and let L be the set of people with a latex allergy. Oh, and let A be the set containing me.

Even though the cardinality of (R ∩ C ∩ L) - A is probably very close to zero, I'm going to do this WOW anyway.


Carpal Tunnel vs Latex Allergy Solution

I have carpal tunnel that acts up sometimes. I find that wearing a wrist brace (or two) at night helps. However, all the commercial wrist braces at my local drug store contain latex, and I have a latex allergy. Wearing a latex-containing wrist brace overnight isn't fun. I found a quick and easy solution... all you need is a piece of polar fleece.

Here is my (inexpensive) wrist brace:

Ignore the white bit around the thumb opening... that was a failed attempt at reducing latex contact.

Cut a square of polar fleece that is a little taller than the brace, and somewhat narrower. Cut an "x" just big enough for your thumb:

Put the brace on, with the fleece between you and the brace:

Make sure the fleece sticks out everywhere, especially around the thumb. Voila, a brace that keeps me happy. I hope it works for you too.

This WOW is brought to you by the letter A.


I stopped in at the campus bookstore to mail some yarn to Deneen, and discovered their sale book rack was now a "buck a book" rack! Yay! I treated myself to five books:
  • Art Techniques From Pencil to Paint: Light & Shadow by Paul Taggart
  • Braid and Knot Theory in Dimension Four by Seiichi Kamada (I have no idea if I'll understand anything in it... I have trouble in dimensions higher than three, but for $1, I couldn't resist.)
  • Betrayal: The Dhamon Saga, Vol 2 by Jean Rabe (In the DragonLance series. I haven't read volume 1, but, again, it was only $1)
  • Thai Bodywork by Niclaire Mann and Eleanor McKenzie (Looked potentially interesting... especially with my sore back.)
  • Quilt Style by Lucy A. Fazely

Um... I do sort of have a wide rang of interests, don't I?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Alison Effect

Site statistics are fun.

After Jeff linked to me, I got a bunch of hits coming off his blog, or blogs that found me because of his blog. I didn't have the site statistics the day he posted, but when I got them a few days later, I think around seven of the first ten hits were because of him.

My thoughts at that point were something like: "Whoa... look at all the hits I'm getting! I wonder why Jeff's readers find a geometer talking about yarn interesting."

The percentage of hits resulting from Jeff dropped after that, although I still do get some.

What I have now, I'm calling the Alison effect. Here's a graph:

Thursday is artificially low, because I didn't add the site statistics until Thursday evening. Friday through Monday's hits are pretty even, although people, fortunately, mostly have better things to do on a Saturday than read my blog. ;)

Tuesday is when Alison mentioned me in her blog.

Hi all of Alison's readers!

I'll keep you posted on the "half-life" of the Alison effect. I expect it should drop off fairly quickly. ;) After all, I crochet rather than knit (although I'm trying to relearn knitting), and I talk about boring things like how often I wash my dishes. Speaking of which, I washed them tonight, and used my new RAOK dishcloth. :) (Thanks fairy! It worked great!)

I've been bad and didn't ride my exercise bike yesterday or today. I was going to go to bed early tonight, but then didn't wash my dishes until after 11, and now look at the time! Yikes! Good night, folks!

(One last item: I finished two more afghan squares. I'll post photos eventually.)


Oooo... look at all the *adorable* bunnies! Just in time for Easter. :)

Who am I?

I am

AndrEMetallic A

You, too, can spell with flickr. I found this link at Kelli's blog.

In the news...

It doesn't pay to be a heavy sleeper:

A sleeping senior at a B.C. extended care facility was sent to a hospital morgue on Saturday, after being mistaken for her dead roommate.

Pay attention to those signs that say "don't touch":

Greek police have arrested a Canadian teenager, accusing her of removing a piece of marble from the grounds of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon on the Acropolis Hill.

Terri seems to be in the news a lot these days. Too bad she didn't have a feeding tube (or something appropriate) back when she was bulemic, and maybe they wouldn't have to have this debate now. I can't help but wonder how much money and effort is being spent on keeping Terri alive when she doesn't want to be... and how many other lives could have been saved instead. I hope that when it's my time, I get to go with dignity, rather than bickering. No, once again I don't know all the details. But somehow, I don't think Terri's husband would have won all the court cases if Terri's parents had a good argument for their side.

And isn't this just a blast:

The federal government has hired a private explosive-decontamination company to remove unexploded bombs the American military left behind in Churchill.

Personally, I prefer to think of carpets of wildflowers when I think of Churchill. (I wasn't there during polar bear season.)


Hmmm... I wonder what it is about microwaving yarn that makes it puff up.

No, I'm not insane. This is what Woolflowers says to do. No, I haven't tried it yet.

Happy feet

Now don't these look like happy feet!

These are my sock pal's feet in the pair that actually fit. ;)

Coming soon (hopefully) to a blog near you... my sock pal's feet in blue socks that fit. ;)

Update: I've had a few people ask what pattern I used. I used the South Bay Crochet "Toes Up Crocheted Socks" pattern with a modified heel.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Good Day

I would say great day, but there were a few downs to go with my great ups. :) I think I'll skip the downs, and just talk about the ups. ;)

Up: I made it to school today by about 9:15. Pretty good, given how tardy I've been getting! I'm trying to keep to getting up early, like I did last week for the workshop. (Okay, last week I was making it in for 8:15, but 9:15 is still pretty good... especially since I beat my officemate by several minutes. ;) )

Up: I went for my lunchtime walk with Kelli. We didn't manage to walk last week, so it was nice to get out again today. There won't be too many more days before the allergies keep me in. :P (Oops, that was a down... and I'm sticking to ups!)

Up: I got *fun* mail today! No junk mail, no bills, but *two* RAOKs and my latest BCBSNC exercise reward! Here's my mail... with all my other RAOK postcards as well, since I haven't posted photos of any of them:

Today's RAOKs were both from a wonderful "fairy" in Michigan. I got a postcard, and a package with a lovely note, a "Yooper bar" (chocolate... mmmmm!), and a dishcloth! At first I was tempted to convert my dishcloth to an afghan square, since it was exactly the right size, but I'm not sure how well adding a cotton square to a wool blanket will work. And, if I use it as a dishcloth, I can remember my friendly fairy every time I have to wash dishes! :) Thanks fairy, you're yooper! (Um... make that super!)

The mug is the exercise reward I chose. Now I'll have a great travel mug for my Adagio teas. :) Now I just have to decide which one I prefer hot to cold... I seem to prefer most of them cold, for some reason.

Since my wrist is acting up, I continued to work on afghan squares instead of snowflakes. The first one turned out a perfect size, so I went with a theme, as you can see:

They're all the same size, even though they don't look it in the photos. I modified the design from square #19 in the 63 squares booklet. I used my Emu Superwash from Ram Wools. It's softer than I initially thought it was. :) I think it must be somewhat thinner than my Filatura di Crosa, because the squares seem, um, "flimsier". Tomorrow I'll do a square in sc (striped, of course), for a better comparison. (I'm going to continue with squares for a bit, to give my wrist a break from socks.)

Up: Speaking of socks, another piece of good news! My sockaPALooza pal got her socks, and loves them! Now I can let the secret out of the bag... my sock pal is the Alison of the blue blog. Now you know why I was a bit nervous? But she loves them!!! Both of them. Yes, I made her two pairs. Which is good, given that I did indeed make the blue pair too small. (Oops! I overcompensated for my formerly loose gauge!) But she's sending the blue pair back, and I'll make them bigger. (I wanted her to try them on before I totally frogged them down... no sense frogging if I don't need to.) Anyways, here they are (sans feet):

I think it's neat the way they fit inside the yarn labels. ;) I don't have any "with feet" photos yet... I'll post some if I get some. :) Oh, and the pair on the right is blue, they just look black in the photo for some reason.

Thanks for all the well-wishes on my wrists. :) They aren't as bad as they were last fall, I just have to remember to take care of myself. ;)

Oh, and one last thing. On those progress bars, if you don't put the text in the bigger box, your boxes might get stretched. Examples of unstretched boxes:
primary socks

primary socks

Example of stretched boxes:
primary socks

primary socks


Argh, my carpal tunnel is acting up again. I think it was all those socks I did last week. That, and finishing off another ball of LB Homespun on my throw. Both of those tend to be harder on the wrist than other crochet I do. :P The socks I understand, given how tightly I crochet them, but the throw? Maybe it's because I tense up having to deal with all those snags. :P

I wore my wrist brace last night and the night before, and didn't crochet at all yesterday, to try to get it to calm down somewhat. For some reason, right now it's twinging just to say hello.

Bus-ride-crochet this morning consisted of another wool square... much easier on the wrists than socks. I may have to put off Snowflake Monday until next week... I'll see how my wrist feels tonight.

Waiting Patiently

Vivi let me know that my GISBE sender expected to ship her package on the 15th, so that should be coming soon. Goody! I wonder where my sender is from? This is fun! My recipient hasn't received hers yet... I hope she likes it when she gets it!

Alison let me know that there was a bit of a delay with my sockapalooza socks. I'm so excited to see what I get here too. :) No word yet from my sock pal whether she got hers and likes them... but they should be arriving very soon! I mailed them last Tuesday.

Well, that was my break. Back to work! Later...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Who links to me?

Someone recently was wondering how to find out who links to them. I found a site called "Who Links To Me", so I thought I'd test out there service. (This site also showed up in my site statistics as having directed someone my way.)

Who Links Here

I think that if you click the above link, it may tell you what code to add to your own blog.


No, not that big, in-the-news-lots country, I'm talking about fragile, stored-in-a-closet dishes.

Yesterday I was looking at my site statistics, and noticed someone had googled me (well, they "yahooed" me) with the search words "Alfred Meakin Osiris Solway". For some reason, that name sounded familiar, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out who "Alfred Meakin Osiris Solway" was, or what he had to do with my blog. So I googled that name myself. (I use the real google. ;) ) Then it all came back to me.

Way back in December I asked if anyone knew anything about some china my mom had inherited. This china, made by Alfred Meakin, was the Osiris Solway pattern. Duh.

Well, another useful thing came of my search yesterday. I noticed that someone had posted on a board that they were looking for an Alfred Meakin Osirirs Solway teapot. Hey, I thought, maybe this person knows something about the pattern. It turns out she did! Here's what I now know:
There isn't too much information around relating to this stuff as the Stoke Potteries Museum tell me that there was a fire in the Meakin Factory many years ago which destroyed much of their pattern records for this design.

The china is from Staffordshire (Tunstall works of Alfred meakin) with Osiris being the shape name (sometimes called Harmony for the US market) and Solway being the design and dates from 1928 - 1937. The design uses classic Imari colours in a combination of transfer print and hand painted features. The pattern is available both blue and green colourways.You can check the age of your pieces by visiting where there is a list of backstamps used and when.

This stuff isn't terribly valuable and changes hands for a few pounds only but is very appealing. If you want to have some indication of current values try Ebay. They usually list a few pieces to give some indication.

Thanks Paula Nicholson! She says this information is easily available from the Stoke Potteries Museum, Staffordshire, England. However, I'm not in England, and all my previous google searches turned up was not terribly helpful eBay listings. I just tried checking the museum's page, and although I did find Alfred Meakin, I didn't find this particular pattern. Maybe I just need to look harder. I tried the search, but it appears to be broken.

I checked the back stamp against the site Paula gave me, and it looks like our china is from 1930-1937, since it doesn't have the "Ltd". None of the stamps shown matched exactly, though.

Paula also told me not to worry that the gilding was wearing of, as "it is prone to wear and doesn't seem to be very robust." The gilding is wearing of her dishes too.

Thanks again Paula, for the information, and thank you for letting me post it here. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Back in the saddle again

Yay me! The repairman came yesterday and put the new parts on my bike... and so both yesteday and today I got back on and rode for 30 minutes! (Yikes... I've got some bicycle butt telling me it's been a while... oops!) Well, let's hope I can keep up with this pattern. :)

Writing Course

If anyone is interested in the writing course I took, the textbook version is Expectations: Teaching writing from the reader's perspective by George D. Gopen. Don't let the word "teaching" scare you off... this book teaches the method, and then has the last section devoted to how to teach this method. A couple of his ideas are a bit "out there", but most are extremely useful. (And the "out there" ideas can be easily ignored.)

Here's a quote from the introduction that I feel describes the course pretty well:
Substance without structure is interpretable but not effectively communicative. Substance with a misleading structure is highly likely to be misinterpreted. Substance with a helpfully instructive structure may not be interpreted in exactly the same way by all readers; but the likelihood of shared interpreteation increases greatly.

The introduction also mentions an article that I think I'll go look up:
Gopen, George D., and David A. Smith. "What's an Assignment Like You Doing in a Course Like This? Writing To Learn Mathematics." College Math Journal 21 (1990):2-19.
I think Gopen's method can be effectively used to improve my proof writing, and I suspect this article will expand on this.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Here's my latest socks:

The cyan/magenta/yellow pair are my KnitPicks socks, and the other pair are what I was formerly calling "primary socks" on my sidebar, but have decided to call "red sprial socks". Two reasons... orange really isn't a primary colour, and my KnitPicks socks come closer to being primary colours.

The red spiral patterning is rather interesting. Oh... and Josie, that store clerk was right. This particular brand needs three balls. :P Oh well... ankle socks will do. ;) And with this pair, I tried out a new modification that I really like! I've added a few increases to the top of the foot opposite the heel... it really helps with what was formerly a tight band.

Now... do I start a *new* pair of socks for me, frog and restart Bob's socks, or wait for my sockapalooza pal to send her socks back for modifications? (I think I may have made them too small, so told her to send them back if they don't fit.) Oh... sock pal... if you send them back, I'll also add my latest modification which is really nice! (Assuming you don't like them the way they are. I do want you to like them! I will do any modifications to make them great!) Hmmm... I mailed them on Tuesday... I wonder when she'll get them?

Speaking of sockapalooza, I've been feeling like it's an unknown Christmas around here... someday soon, I should be getting my sockapalooza socks, as well as a GISBE package! I've been seeing lots of nifty socks in progress... I wonder which is my pair? All of them are so pretty!

And here, finally, is fuzzy wuzzy:

(I edited the picture slightly from the original... just in case you can't tell. ;) )

Thursday, March 17, 2005

More useful information

In attempting to get the statistics counter added to my site, I found the following two blogger articles that have useful information on stuff I recently blogged about:

Blogger has all sorts of useful articles... I just rarely remember to check there. (If I had, I wouldn't have had to pester people to find out how to add a statistics counter!)

Speaking of useful stuff and adding the statistics counter, I'd like to mention Pithhelmet. It's a great little plugin for Safari (the browser I use on my mac) that blocks pop-ups, controls annoying animations, blocks advertising, and lots of other useful stuff. Web browsing has been *much* nicer since discovering Pithhelmet. Why was I reminded of this? Um, well, because it seemed my statistic counter wasn't getting added to my site. I kept trying different methods, and looked for help articles (which is why I found the two links above). I finally realized Pithhelmet was blocking the site counter. (Okay, I guess it's not perfect.) I reloaded unfiltered, and there was my site counter. :) It's hiding waaaaaay down at the bottom of the page, where the wizard for assisting html-impared users decided to locate it. Yes, I used the wizard, but only after adding it myself didn't seem to work. I thought about moving it, but then decided it is just fine where it is. After all, who really cares how many people visit my site? ;)

Memo to Self

I thought I had lost the e-mail containing this information... luckily I didn't. So that I don't lose it for real, I'll post it here. (Maybe others will find this interesting too.) I got the following tip from Jofrog, on how to find out how people come to your webpage:

Do you use anything to track your statistics? I, and many others, use From that you can see how many people view your site every day and see "Referers". This will either be "unknown", people that type you in manually or have you bookmarked; a URL, somewhere that links you; or a search engine. Using the free version of Sitemeter you can't see the search terms, but if you click on the search engine referal link or mouse over it, you can see what people searched for to get to you.

St Patrick's Day

Your Irish Name Is...

Michaela Kennedy

Hmmm... I think my mom did consider calling me Michael if I was a boy. I'm not sure I want to be a Kennedy, though... they seem to have exceedingly bad luck in the US. ;)

Differences & Similarities

I think St Patrick's day is pretty similar in Canada and the US. People wear green... except for the large fraction which either don't care or forget. There's a fascination with shamrocks. Beer drinkers go green for the day.

I noticed one difference on the news this morning. Bush invited over a bunch of Irish sisters, but not some Irish politician who is in town. (I forget who... it came on before I was fully awake.) Apparently there was a bit of a fluff over this. So I guess this is a day to make political statements about Ireland down here... I don't believe I've ever noticed this in the land up north. Of course, I could have been too asleep to notice. ;)

Snowflakes keep falling on my head...

Thank-you, northern friends! So nice of you to send a few my way. :) Too bad it's too warm for them to stick to the ground. *sigh*

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fertig. Fini. Done.

Sweater patterns are now done. Both have been sent to Josie and Annie. I would say "as promised", but then I promised to have them done long ago. You both have my permission to be exceedingly annoyed with me.

I think I will now stop promising sweater patterns. Although I enjoy designing, I don't particularly enjoy pattern writing. I may attempt it again sometime, but on my own terms, and without anybody waiting for me.

I will now go to bed with a somewhat easier heart. Good night, and please don't ask me to write any patterns. Not tonight, at least. ;)

WOW Wednesday

It's that day of the week again... WOW Wednesday... where I give a little pearl of "common knowledge" that may not be common.

Washing Dishes

Yes, everyone knows how to wash dishes. Very few wash the way I do, judging from the strange looks I get from visitors.

I learned how to wash dishes at the lake. We frequently had lots of people at the lake, and there's no electricity, and thus no dishwasher. No one person wanted (or deserved) to be shackled to the sink washing dishes. Thus, everyone took turns. If you were tall enough to reach the sink (possibly with the aid of a stool), you were old enough to wash dishes. No one was too old. One person washed, one dried and put away. Anyone not volunteering often enough was told when it was their turn. I quickly learned that it was a good idea to volunteer at lunch time... not as messy as breakfast (which involved porridge), and not nearly as many dishes as dinner. But this is beside the point.

This is how I was taught to wash dishes.

Treat the dishes like an assembly line. Start by rinsing all the dishes (best done when food still soft), and ordering them by dirtyness, with the cleanest dishes closest to the sink. Fill the sink with hot soapy water (as hot as you can stand to have your hands in), and fill a basin with hotter water (hot enough that you can only stick your hand in briefly). Place the basin on a bar stool beside you, on the same side as the drain rack. The drain rack, of course, directs the excess drip water back into the sink.

Start washing with the cleanest dishes, and work your way to the dirtiest. This way your water stays as clean as possible for later dishes. Partially fill the sink with the first batch of dishes, so that some can soak while you work on others. Never put a bunch of sharp knives in the dishwater... you can cut yourself on the unseen blades. Instead, dunk them individually, keeping ahold of the handle.

Once you wash a dish (using a washcloth), put the dish in the hot water basin to rinse the soap off. From the hot water basin, the clean dishes are transferred to the drip rack. (Around here, this is where I stop... dishes need to thoroughly air dry around here: any remaining dampness not caught by the tea towel will cause mildew in my cupboards.) To dry the dishes, use a tea towel whose only function is to dry clean dishes... you don't want to get those clean dishes dirty!

My mom taught me that it was very important to get all the soap residue off. She claimed it was poisonous. I'm not sure if it actually is, or if that's just one of the things moms say. (She also told me wallpaper paste was poisonous.) I'm pretty trusting, and take her at her word. The dishes end up clean and sparkly this way, if nothing else.

I was good and did my dishes tonight. I was also lazy, and ate junk food for dinner. That's a problem I have... I get hungry before I clean my dishes to cook. (Unlike at the lake, I only do dishes here when I run out.)

The Joy of Being Anonymous

How to start. Hmmm... how about the whole "15 minutes of fame" thing. It seems many people think it would be neat to be famous. I think most of us harbour secret dreams of being the next JK Rowling, Monet, Survivor/Idol/whatever winner, or something similar. I must admit I have secret dreams too... although I've always been a bit strange. I'd like to be anonymously famous. So if I, for example, ever wrote a novel, I'd use a pen name, and not do any publicity. Or, maybe I'd attend publicity events as a "friend/relative" of the famous person... so I could see what people think, without having to have those comments directed at me. Why? I guess because I'm really shy. If I were a superhero, I'd be one of the ones with a mask. I could do my "hero stuff", and then go about my everyday life, keeping the two completely separate.

Whether I want it or not, I haven't had too much anonymity. In grade school I was "known" because my mom was a teacher in the division. By the end of grade school, I was known because I was a top student.

Starting university was really nice... I was nearly completely anonymous (besides making a few friends)... for about half a term. *sigh*

I didn't get to be anonymous when starting grad school. When I moved to UNC, except for not existing for half a day (that was horrible), I still wasn't anonymous.

I got to be anonymous on my blog... for about half a term. Yes, I've been found out. I had thought by not using my last name I'd be fairly safe... yes, anyone who reads this would know who I am (I wouldn't be able to say *anything* about myself if I wanted to stay hidden that way... I'm in a pretty small community), but I would think this blog would be pretty hard to find. You'd have to try searching for me without using my name... which is pretty pointless, given how easy I am to find (academically) if you use my name.

Well, c'est la vie.

I guess I'll have to watch my tongue. Or, rather, my fingers. No more free therapy here.

I understand now.

The writing workshop I'm taking is awesome! I've finally figured out why I struggle so much with technical writing and essays. I wish I had had this workshop back in grade 10, right when I started honours English! I'm so impressed, I even shelled out the $50 for his book. (I assume it's one I'll actually read... it should be well written, at least. ;) ) I think, after I've read his book, that I'll recommend it to my high school teachers. (I want to read it first, just to make sure it's as good as his workshop... it's not a cheap book.)

Basically, now I understand why I had trouble making my writing "flow", and understand better now how to get my point across. I thought about not getting the book, and just using what I've learned in class, but this is such a breakthrough for me and my technical writing. I think maybe I won't even be struggling as much when I write. (I can blather along fine here, but when it comes to papers, it's like pulling teeth.) I know that if I don't get his book, I'll forget something, and then when I look at my notes, I'll wonder what I meant by what I rapidly scribbled down. Even if I don't end up continuing on in an academic field, just knowing that I *can* write will be worth it. If I do become a professor, guess what my students will be learning! ;)

Also accomplished this morning: I finished my knitpicks socks, and started again on my primary colours socks. (I frogged what I had, since the first attempt was too loose, and am now a wee bit further along... although not really enough to update my progress bar.) I'll post pictures tonight... or when I get around to it. ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Table Time

This seems to be a popular post, so I'm upgrading it to a "WOW". I've also added links to all my WOWs in the sidebar... after adding site statistics, I discovered someone actually googled "noricum WOW". All I can say is "wow". ;)


Table based progress bars

Here's a little tutorial on the progress bars I use. I'm going to make this pretty basic so that everyone can understand. If you're already familiar with html, just cut & paste & make the appropriate changes. Ignore my long rambling instructions. ;)

My progress bars are simple html tables, but the html can look a bit scary if you don't know what's going on. Here's the example progress bar I'll use:

primary socks

Nice, simple little table, right? Here's the scary html:

<table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" frame="void" align="center">
<td align="left" valign="middle">
<table border="1" cellspacing="0" frame="border" align="left">
<td align="left" valign="middle">
<table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" frame="void" align="center">
<td width="10" height="10" align="center" valign="middle" bgcolor="#99CCFF">
<td width="90" height="10" align="center" valign="middle">
<td align="center" valign="middle">
primary socks

Okay... let's start with the pieces. Html stands for "HyperText Markup Language", and is how we communicate with the browser. We tell the browser what we want by using formatting "tags". These tags are enclosed in angle brackets ("<>") so the browser can recognize them. The tag that tells the browser we want a table is called "table" (see... it is straightforward, when broken down). To start the table, we use <table>, and to end the table, we use </table>. You'll notice that the vast majority of html tags have matching open and close tags, where the close tag is the tag with the "/" character. The extra stuff in the open tag specifies how we want the table to look. Border specifies the size of the border in pixels, cellspacing is the amount of space between cells, and cellpadding is the amount of space between the contents of the cell and the border of the cell. (Assuming I didn't get the last two mixed up.) "Frame" specifies what kind of border we want.

A table is broken down into a set of rows (<tr>, short for table row), which, among other things, can have a horizontal alignment (align) and vertical alignment (valign).

A table row is then broken down into a set of cells (<td>, short for table data). We can specify the cell width, height, horizontal and vertical alignments, and background colour (bgcolor), among other things. In the above example, I set the background colour of the "percent done" bar to be light blue, which, in hexadecimal (base 16 numbers, rather than base 10), is 99CCFF. The "#" character indicates that the number should be read as hexidecimal. This number represents the amount of red, green, and blue to use for the colour, where 00 is the least, and FF (=255) is the most. If you are unfamiliar with specifying colours in this format, you can find some web safe colours here. (These tables are everywhere... this is a random one that google gave me when I searched.)

Oops... it's past my bedtime now... I'll finish this post up later. (Hmmm... I'll figure out the funky vertical spacing then too..)

Whee... I figured out the vertical spacing thing... I remembered last night that blogger "helpfully" adds <br> tags at each line break... and thus my table was filled with these tags, which, in this case, weren't very helpful. I'll finish this post later... I have stuff to do, and this is a long post to finish.

Continuing on...

You'll notice from the html that I have tables nested within tables. I do this to achieve the exact formatting I want. Let me turn on all the borders, so you can see where all these tables are:

primary socks

The innermost table consists of the two cells representing the progress, 10% done, and 90% not done. Since the 90% box is larger, I've added the text "90%" to this box, so that the 10% doesn't get "stretched" by the text it contains. Note that when you specify the size, you only specify the minimum size, and the box will stretch to fit the text it contains. This also explains why the 10% box is taller than it is wide, even though I specify each should be 10 pixels. The text in the row (contained in the 90% box) is taller than 10 pixels, and thus the row height is stretched to accomodate this.

The "middle" table exists to add a border around the progress bar. I do not use the border feature on the innermost table, because that, as illustrated, includes a line separating the "done" and "not done" areas, which is an effect I do not want.

The outer table is to make sure the progress bar and associated text are formatted nicely with respect to each other. HTML interpreters automatically add space around tables, and thus, if I didn't have both elements in a table, the text for the progress bar would be separated from the progress bar by more space than I want. The easiest way for me to control the space without affecting other tables is to do as I have done. It is probably also possible to use css, but I'm more familiar with tables.

Now we know what the different tables are, we can figure out how to change the alignment of different elements. Setting the table alignment to left, center, or right, controls how the table is aligned within the element that contains it. Thus, having the outer table set to have center alignment centers the table within the area of the browser that it is displayed. I prefer to have my progress bars in the sidebar left justified. Setting the cell alignment controls the alignment of the contents of the cell. So, by having the progress bar left justified, and the text centered, if the text is narrower than the progress bar, it is centered underneath the progress bar, otherwise the left hand sides of the text and progress bar are aligned. If you center your progress bar in the sidebar, it will look better if both the progress bar and text cells are set to be centered.

Spinning Links

Here's some more spinning links:

Those first two links I got from the great people at Crochetville. :) The Yarn Harlot links are ones I forgot to put up on my last post. (Yarn Harlot is *awesome*!!!) That last link there has something I'll try next time to see if I can make my yarns somewhat less fuzzy. (If this fuzzy wuzzy was a bear, fuzzy wuzzy would have lots of hair.) Speaking of fuzzy wuzzy, he's dry now, and exists as two very tiny balls of *real* yarn! Kind of hard, and a wee bit scratchy, but very definitely yarn. I'll add a picture when my camera battery is done charging.

In the news...

It's about time:

Haircuts, dry cleaning and clothes could soon cost the same for men and
women in Ontario if a bill currently before the legislature passes.

And the exciting news around here? I messed up my swiss army knife:

I was opening a new bottle of wine to cook with. Hmmm... maybe it's time to invest in a real bottle opener. *sigh* It was such a nice knife, and I can see it snagging on my pocket all the time now. The bottle opener is important, too... I normally use it to hold my eyeglass screwdriver. Maybe my dad can bend it back when I'm home next. I tried bending it myself, but my toolbox (or imagination) is currently insufficient.

In the news...

This is just wrong:

Canada's two biggest brewers, Molson and Labatt, think they've found a
way to bring a much-needed jolt to their market shares and bottom lines.
Both have announced plans to market beers infused with caffeine.

Of course, I'm not a fan of beer or caffeine.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Snowflake Mondays

I can't resist Julie's button:
snowflake mondays
Starting next week, Mondays are for snowflakes! It's too late to start today... I have another early morning tomorrow with the writing workshop.

Update: my thread and snowflake book are ready and waiting on my coffee table. There's also a snowflake crochet-along going on at Gina's, and it looks like she has a good list of links there. (I haven't checked them out yet.)

Good night!

Dog hands

I have dog hands right now. My officemate brought his dog in so I could pet her for a bit, to see how allergic I am to dogs. His dog is a wirehair fox terrier, and he got her from a rescue shelter for the breed. She's very cute, and smaller than I thought she was. (Which is good, since I want a small dog... and she's on the big end for her breed.) She tends to be easily frightened, though, because of her rough past. She's getting better, though.

Anyway, we walked around outside and I pet her a bunch, and now I'm sitting here with dog hands, to see if I have a reaction. For a thorough test, I let her kiss me to. It's very strange to go from avoiding pets to purposely immersing myself in their allergens. All I can think about is washing my hands, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the visit.


Hmmm... it looks like blogger might be cranky again today, but I'll give this post a shot.

I have a FO to report! You might notice something missing in my sidebar... what would that be? My sockapalooza socks! Yay! I'm done my absolutely, completly, utterly plain socks. :) (Well, I need to weave in the ends, but I don't have my yarn needle with me.) Right on time, to send out in the mail tomorrow. I hope my sock pal likes her plain socks. I'll post a photo after she gets them... then maybe I'll have feet-in-socks photos, to go with the socks-on-couch photo.

I also redid the heels (after making the feet longer) on my knitpicks socks, so they are now back up to 60%. (I didn't bother ratcheting their progress bar down when I frogged the heels.)

This week looks to be a productive sock week... I'm taking a writing workshop every morning this week. It's a workshop to help you write from the reader's perspective... so that our technical writing is more readable. (Did you know it's not the reader's fault that we can't understand what we read? It's the writer's fault!) I must admit, it made me think of the question of how one should be writing a blog, if one is writing it for themselves, rather than the readers. ;)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nota Noddy*

*The title will make sense (mostly) by the end of this post.

Here's my spinning post. :)

Here are some links I found useful:

The second link listed is the one I used for instruction while spinning my singles.

I think I've already described how I spun my singles.

To ply, I was initially going to use the instructions as given by that second link, but I didn't really have enough singles to make two balls. I tried wrapping them in two sections on my spindle handle, and letting the overtwist do the spinning. That didn't work so hot either... the yarn had been on the spindle long enough for the twist to "set" somewhat, and it also didn't keep the tension right for the two plies.

I tried to think about whether it mattered what direction the yarn was pointing... to visualize, I used proteins, where one end is the N terminus, the other is the C terminus. I then visualized alpha helices, and what happens when you look at them from different directions. My bizarre visualizations weren't sufficient, so I took my "tube" of blue roving, and drew a spiral on the paper wrapper. I then looked at it one way, lined up my hand with the "twist", and then reversed the direction. Same twist. Okay, N vs C terminus doesn't matter. (Hey... I may be crazy, but this terminology helps me.) So I used the "table-leg" method of plying. I took one of my singles, grasped one end in one hand, passed the spindle around a table leg, and then held the spindle loosely with the other hand. I then backed up until I was holding both ends of the single in my hand. I then attached these ends to my spindle, and proceeded to spin in the opposite direction than what I had done for the singles, working my way towards the table. (Obviously, I'm going to need to modify my methods somewhat for longer singles, but this did the trick.) Once I reached the table leg, I unhooked the yarn, and spun up to the end. I used the "plying a balanced yarn" link to determine how much spin to add.

At this point, I had both some singles and some doubles wound on my spindle. (I hadn't bothered removing the singles before plying the other bit.)

Finally, I need to set the twist. This is apparently done by winding the yarn on a niddy noddy, getting the yarn wet, and then letting it dry. (Think of having a shower right before bed, and then going to sleep when it's wet. Your hair will set in whatever way the pillow presses it, producing spectacular bed head. In this case, we're setting the twist.)

Aside: I was going to post a link here for reference, but now I can't find one that agrees with this... maybe I'm halucinating. However, it's too late to change what I've done.

I do not have a niddy noddy. After thinking about it for several days, I realised I have something else... what I have is not-a-niddy noddy... which from now on I'll call a nota noddy. Here's a photo of my nota noddy with my yarn wrapped around it:

My nota noddy is manufactured by Yaffa, and I bought it, if I remember correctly, as a four-pack at my local campus bookstore, where they came in an approximation of Carolina blue (known as "baby blue" outside of NC), and a frosty white. I took my wrapped yarn in the shower with me today (along with my Koigu socks, of course), and I'm now using the convenient hanging feature that came with the special nota noddy to drip dry my yarn. I'll have to unwind the yarn to get the hank off, but how much can you really expect from a nota noddy?

Well, I can't remember what else I wanted to say in this post, so I think I'll go noddy off and bake my pita bread. (No visitors again today... I think the ritual night-before-visit clearing of the coffee table must be scaring them off.)

War of the Weasley, Part 1

I want to relearn how to knit. The Coronet at is calling to me. I got the appropriate needles (dpns, cable needle), printed out the instructions, and bought two knitting books... a basic how to knit booklet, and "The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques", in order to relearn how to knit.

Then I decided that a project involving both double pointed needles and cables was perhaps not the best starter project.

I also really want a Weasley! Hmmm... miles of stockinette... sounds like a good practice piece to me! (Assuming the miles of stockinette don't drive me batty.) The pattern was a problem... it's such a simple, basic pattern, but it's no longer being published because the royalty fees were too high. I tried searching ebay. No luck. I tried posting a comment at the blue blog, to see if any knit-alongers wanted to part with their patterns. Also no luck. The only place selling this pattern now is as a kit, and is located way over in Britain. Oh... and the kits are only in kids sizes, too.

If I had more knitting experience, I'm sure I could have just figured out the pattern. However, I have very little experience, and that all consisted of scarves back when I was in elementary school. Figuring out how to get the hem to roll, etc, was beyond me.

So I did a little calculation, figuring out just how much this kit would set me back. I decided it wasn't too bad, and I could just purchase the extra yarn to make the kit an adult size. Yeah, the dye lots would be different, but I would put the extra yarn in the sleeves, and work in a bit of striping to make it look intentional, if the colour was too off. I bit the bullet, and placed the online order. (Normally I don't have any problems with placing online orders, but this was overseas, and a store I wasn't familiar with... and to top it off, their website isn't exactly super-professional.)

My package arrived Friday. Yay!

But, um, the contents are a little strange. The pattern isn't an officially printed pattern... it's a photocopy of a photocopy (I'm not sure how many times) of a hand typed pattern. I do believe it is the same pattern... it's just not quite what I was expecting. And the yarn... not a single ball has a label. It looks like it's probably Rowan Felted Tweed, but since I've never seen RFT in person, I couldn't say for sure. It's a really pretty yarn, certainly. However, I'm not sure I'd be able to find a match for it. What makes me think it *isn't* RFT is that the pattern claims the yarn is 90% wool and 10% silk... a nice blend, but not the same as RFT. Oops. If I understand their measurements, there will *not* be sufficient yarn here to make myself a Weasley, even though I ordered the largest kit size. (Gee... at 29, I'm bigger than a kid, for some reason. ;) )

That's okay... I can handle this. I have a cousin who's still in grade school, and has Weasley red hair. The navy blue will look great on him. His mother (my aunt) is a librarian. I'm sure this cousin would *love* a Weasley. I'll just have to make two... one for him, and one for me. I'll still make the largest size... he's pretty small, but growing, and I have no idea how long it'll take me to knit this thing. (Hopefully not too long... I'm not sure how much stockinette I can take.)

I check what size needles I need, and pick up a selection at Wally World while I'm there anyway getting my mattress pad. Since I know I never achieve gauge in crochet, I got one pair the right size, one pair a size smaller, and a pair each of the two sizes larger. I had hoped to get circulars rather than straights, but they didn't have circulars in the size I need. Well, at least the straights were pretty cheap. (Although they're also the same brand as the hooks I don't like... hopefully I'll like their needles better.) I also got some other items while I was at it... point protectors, ring stitch markers, stitch holders, etc. And, because Wally World has an amazing ability to suck up all my money, I finally picked up a copy of "Pirates of the Caribbean"... it was down to ~$13 for the dvd.

On the bus ride to and from Wally World, I read the knitter's book of finishing techniques, to see what kind of cast on I should be using. (The Weasley pattern didn't specify which.) Since I know I crochet tight, I chose a cast on that was easier to make too loose than too tight, and also said it tended to roll.

When I get home, I recheck the pattern, and discovered that I mis-remembered what size needles it called for. I discover that instead of saying 3.25 like I thought it did, it said 3.75. So now I have three pairs which are too small, and one which is too large. (They didn't have the exact same size.) Oh well... I'll just use the too-large size.

I pop in my new DVD, and cast on for the back. 100 stitches. I didn't want to waste valuable yarn on a swatch. I need practice casting on anyway... so even if I have to re-cast on, it won't be too bad. About half way through the first purl row, I wonder if the movie distracted me into making a mistake... I purl a few more stitches, and then look at what I have. I realize that, whether or not I did make a mistake there, I'm knitting too tight, and my stitches on the needle look funny.

I frogged what I had. (I forgot to take a picture first.)

I then crocheted for the rest of the movie. My first knitting attempt will obviously take more concentration and attention.

I may have lost my first skirmishes, but I will soldier on. I will not lose the war of the Weasley. If nothing else, I will make this first one for my cousin... *before* he gets too big for it!

Oh... and if there's any Weasley victors out there reading this, would you be willing to send me a snippet of RFT in midnight and/or corn (assuming you used either of those colours). I'd like to compare, to see if I actually do have RFT. Thanks!

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I'm tired... I'll write my spinning post later. Basically, I'm planning on describing how I plied, what I've learned, and give links to useful sites. But, since I'm tired, I don't feel like doing that right now. I'll leave you with a picture of my plied yarn, though:

I think I might have a mild allergy to that new mattress pad... my eyes prickle a bit when I go in my bedroom. I think I'll take an antihistamine before bed. The smell should dissipate in a few days... around the time that pollen season kicks into full gear. ;)