Thursday, May 31, 2007



I'm back to nothing on the needles for my practice sock. Somehow I knit together stitches on separate dpns that shouldn't have been knit together. (I don't know how to describe it other than to say it was really, really wrong.) So, rrrrrrrrrrip.

Since I was starting over, I thought I'd try doing the long-tail cast on again. I was successful at getting the stitches on, although I'm not sure why it's necessary to hold the yarn the way the diagrams instruct and move the needle this way and that. Best as I can tell, I would accomplish the same thing by wrapping the working yarn around the needle and dispensing with the instructions. Of course, for all I know I'm doing it incorrectly.

Maybe that's the case. I'll be damned if I can keep those stitches on the needles when I try to divide them among three dpns. It doesn't seem possible. After two failed attempts, I've decided to give up for tonight. It isn't working, and I'm getting tired of spending all my time with nothing to show for it. I'll try again tomorrow or Saturday.

OK sock knitters, how should I be casting on? Does it sound like I'm doing the long-tail cast on properly? The cast on row may undo my efforts to attempt sock knitting.

In the meantime, it's back to dishcloths. It's not the most exciting thing, although I am going to try a different pattern. So help me, I may be tempted to knit a scarf despite the temperature hovering around 90. I want to work on something substantial and don't know what to do. Socks are bedeviling me, and I haven't even arrived at the hard parts.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let's talk about socks

First of all, thanks for the tips and suggestions in the comments to yesterday's post. Now I have a good starting point. I'm still skeptical, but I feel more grounded with the help on the pages where I was pointed. I also picked up Sensational Knitted Socks at the library. I haven't had a chance to thumb through it much, but it appears to be more along the lines of what I was looking for.

To start I decided that I ought to learn a new way to cast on. I only know how to do the knit cast on, but I've learned enough to know that it wouldn't be the best way to cast on for socks. The Knitting Answer Book suggested the long-tail cast on. The instructions and diagrams looked awfully complicated, but I think I figured it out. Keeping every stitch where it needed to be once I started splitting them among three needles was another ordeal entirely. I lost the last couple stitches and had to reposition the yarn in my hand to do them over. Happy to have done this correctly, although not without difficulty, I went charging ahead while forgetting that I needed to be working in rib for this baby sock pattern.

I knitted the eight stitches on the first needle before catching myself. Considering the length of time it took to get the cast on to stay, I chose not to undo these stitches. I didn't want to cast on again, and I knew that would be required if I undid those eight stitches. It's a practice project. Who knows if I'll actually give them to anyone? Forge ahead!

I worked the other sixteen stitches in rib but encountered additional problems. I was short a stitch on the second needle and then found that I had an extra one on the third needle. (I had counted correctly when I split them...I swear.) Since casting on and knitting one round had taken the duration of the second period of the Stanley Cup final, I scrapped my work and went back to the knitted cast on I'm comfortable with.

I've worked a few rounds in rib, so I haven't encountered anything I haven't done before. From the heel on is where it is going to get really dicey. I didn't have to buy any yarn or dpns to try socks, so I'm not out anything there. My patience supply might be another story when I get to the unfamiliar parts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I promised that once I moved to my new place I would begin the knitting of socks. I'm not nearly as confident as the rest of you that I'm capable, especially after perusing a Socks 101 tutorial. If I were to put a voice to what it sounded like in my head while reading the pages, then there's no better choice than Charlie Brown's teacher. Good grief!

I went to the library and got a book called, appropriately enough, Socks Socks Socks, but I don't know that it is any help. I hoped to find good instructions and a pattern that would be right for a first project. Once the heel arrives, I'm lost, and honestly, I didn't like anything I saw in the slender book. So I'm back to square one.

Slipping and turning and gussets...oh my. And how about some boring socks? I wear tennis shoes--OK, technically running shoes or cross trainers--almost every day, so it's white athletic socks for me most of the time. I don't need Technicolor hosiery or ornately designed socks. Boring would be great.

What I'm saying is that I'm at a loss for where to begin with this nonsense. I need to get the proper size of dpns and yarn, which I intend to do tomorrow, but I'm completely out of my element on socks.

After the cable repair person comes to fix my internet connection in the morning, I may swing by the library within a mile or two of my new home. Perhaps it will have a book more suited to my needs. But I expect not. If there's anything I know about socks and knitting, it's that variation is the appeal.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Closing

After three days of being busy, busy, busy, Sunday provided some measure of slowness. I trekked to the old place to do some final cleaning and pick up my few remaining possessions. Having lived there so long, it was nice to wrap up my time at the place without the harried nature of moving day.

I considered moving a few times, only once with any degree of seriousness, although you only know my time there being a major source of stress. The truth of the matter is that it was good enough for a long time because the building's other occupants weren't loud or weren't around. The last two years were different. I was unhappy living there but assumed that I wouldn't be able to find somewhere better in a similar price range. I hate moving and didn't want to think about it or do the work required.

I've only spent two nights in my new place, but already I feel like my head is clearer. I'm grateful to those who helped me make this transition, whether assisting with finding this complex, reassuring me that I made the right decision, or lugging my belongings from apartment to apartment. Sure, moving is a hassle, but I needed to do it.

Since I have turned over my keys and am officially out of the old place, it feels appropriate to reflect on the good and the bad.

What I'll miss about my old apartment


I could walk to work, the library, a few restaurants, and the auto repair shop. (Until a couple years ago, I could walk to the dentist too.) My new commute is approximately twelve miles. Almost all of that is interstate driving, so it's not like I'm that far away. Still, I enjoyed living in an uptown suburban neighborhood that was very convenient. The closeness to work kept me tied to the place much longer than I would have been if I had a commute while living there.

-Lower rent

The cheaper rent came with a toll on my nerves in recent years, and I think that some of my other expenses will be less here. Regardless, I did have a good deal on rent for a long time.

-A dark bedroom

The challenge of the new place will be getting used to a lot more light pouring in through the windows in the morning.

What I won't miss about my old apartment

-Paper-thin walls and floors

No more hearing every step taken in adjoining apartments or in my place. No more hearing conversations, stereos, TVs, bathroom use, and any other sound in the adjoining apartments. No more hearing slamming doors, stomping on the stairs, and every passing car. No more hearing police officers test their car sirens, especially in the early morning hours.

-The problems of an older building

The place was built in 1955 and is in need of some updates. In the grand scheme of things, two-prong outlets aren't a big deal, but I won't miss them. Supposedly the building has more than adequate insulation, but I swear that the place leaked heat like crazy. (I had some insanely high heating bills until I cranked the thermostat to a chilly level.) I had water leaking through my ceiling on a couple occasions in recent years. I have no evidence to support my belief that the electrical system is in need of replacement, but I have wondered how much of a fire hazard the wiring might be. (The lights in the stairwell burn out very quickly.) The narrow doors and stairwell made moving anything of any size very difficult.

-Living on a one way street off of a one way street

Traffic was always higher than you might expect for being on a one way street off of a one way street. It wasn't a major inconvenience, but having limited options for getting home was a minor annoyance. Also, I won't have to drive on brick streets. They might look nice, but they're hell on a car's suspension.

-Being unable to back out of my parking space

Assuming people follow the new signs, this problem fixed itself...finally...when the no parking signs went up a couple weeks ago. They cover more area than they used to. I had to deal with people parking right up to the signs or past them while trying to make a tight turn into my spot. Sometimes I couldn't turn in; sometimes I couldn't back out.

-Having to go to the basement to do laundry

Not a major thing. Having the washer and dryer in my apartment rather than two floors below me is a perk, though.

There are probably other things I will miss and won't miss, but now that I'm out of there, I don't feel like thinking about all of that.

So, going forward... I am writing from home. I split my cable signal and moved the computer to the middle of the floor in the living room until the repair person comes Wednesday. Something's wrong with the bedroom jack. I'd rant about my dealings with the cable company and how they now won't honor the highly discounted price a customer service rep offered on Friday. (I got a lower rate by $24 a month, but I was offered one that would have cut my bill by $41. Mysteriously they know nothing of this.)

Yesterday I made the quick trip up the street to JoAnn's and bought some cotton for dishcloth knitting. Look what I've made: my first FO in the new apartment!

Triangles Galore dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar 'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Potpourri
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 41

I was so excited to knit in the new place that I overlooked the instructions to knit four rows in garter stitch. Since there would be no border on the bottom, I skipped those rows on the top as well.

I forgot to mention that the rain held off for the move, and the heat subsided some too. It's been a strange weekend. With as busy as I was, the time has passed very slowly. (That's not been a bad thing.) I'm still tired from all the activity, but I feel rejuvenated in my new surroundings. And yes, I'll be getting to the sock knitting very, very soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moving mishaps and merriment

Moving day began with the uncommon occurrence of me rising before 8 a.m. I wanted to get some work done before my parents arrived. I knew it was the only time I'd have for some peace and quiet before the stress of moving subsided. I was feeling pretty good and expected it not to be as bad as I feared. I had done a lot of work the previous two days to take the strain off of my family helpers and to give me a sense of progress. This early morning state of calm permeated my attitude for awhile, which is a good thing considering what happened next.

I arrived at U-Haul at 9:15 for a 9:30 pick-up. Walk in, sign the paperwork, and swipe the card to arrange payment. If only it were so easy. The line snaked to the front door. There were approximately thirty people ahead of me in line, although some were together and waiting out what would be an absurd situation. At the best times only two of the four counters were being manned, and it took an extraordinarily long time for customers to get through the process.

What in the world could be holding things up? Why do they keep answering the phones and not dealing with customers who are here? What are all these employees strolling through the store doing? It's been a half hour, and no one has moved. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Don't let the all-caps fool you, though. I was keeping pretty cool about it. Like it or not, I was stuck. U-Haul assesses a $50 cancellation fee. Sure, I could fight it down the line, but from what I was hearing, rental trucks were in short supply in the city for the weekend. Those of us at the line's end began to get worried when we could see an exchange with one employee getting heated. The couple stomped out and claimed that their reservation was not being honored.

Perhaps they didn't supply the complete story as no one else left without a truck. We all left with a serious dent in our time, though. It took me two and a quarter hours from when I arrived to leave with my reserved truck. It gets better. The U-Haul manager refused to credit anyone for time spent in line, so I still had to have it back when I made the reservation. I only lost a third of the rental time waiting for them to fulfill their end of the bargain. Somebody's getting a strongly worded letter about this.

Needless to say, we had to bust our tails to get everything packed and loaded. It wasn't possible to get all of the stuff in the truck and move it before it had to be returned, so we got as much in as we could in the time available. Surprisingly this loading and unloading went relatively quickly, although it may have had to do with feeling pinched by the clock.

Complicating matters was that I was supposed to be waiting for the cable man to come between 4 and 7 p.m. It turned out not to be an issue, though. He called while I was waiting in line at U-Haul and said he was in the complex working on another order. If I could get there by 1:00, he would take care of mine too. I couldn't and didn't get there by that time, but he was still there when I pulled up. Luckily the cable modem and DVR were loaded and easily locatable, so he got everything set up a couple hours early. As it stands, the internet isn't working at home now. I unplugged some things to move them, although that shouldn't have caused any service problems. I'm going to have to wait until Wednesday for that to be fixed. Still, I have cable TV and the ability to fidget with the modem to see if I can get it functioning.

Generally speaking, the move went smoothly, especially considering the screw job with the rental truck. We used my dad's van and trailer to load almost the rest of my things. (I picked up the last of it this afternoon.) My mom was hacking like she had tuberculosis, and my left eye was somewhat swelled from allergies and dust. I got aggravated with my dad, who kept trying to get me to take a matching dresser set that he brought. I told him before they came that I only wanted and needed one. I didn't think I had the space nor the need for both. He insisted--it was brought into my place--but finally relented. I know he meant well, even if he was irking me.

The new place is a mess, and I don't know where a lot of stuff is. I'll be unpacking for weeks, or so it seems. Stacks of boxes fill the kitchen, so I may be eating out for a few days. (I also have practically nothing in the fridge.)

My brother got the futon set up, so I was able to lay on it and watch some television. At the end of the day, that's all I really wanted. My arms and legs are bruised and scratched, but it felt good to get up this morning after a solid night's sleep. I didn't hear every step I take or the neighbors in the adjoining apartments take. I didn't hear any conversations or stereos. Overnight my car got carpet bombed by birds relieving themselves, but it doesn't bother me. The hard work is over. I'm relieved to be somewhere that I don't have to be on edge most of the time. There's a lot to be done yet, but this was a move in the right direction. My old apartment was C; my new one is D. In musical scales going from C to D is a whole step up. Sounds about right.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This is my now

Pardon the header referencing the American Idol songwriting competition winner. It seemed like the right sentiment.

Moving day was quite the experience. There was a major headache with the rental truck, a fortuitous break with the cable company, and the distinct feeling of being overwhelmed. I am going to be unpacking boxes for months.

I still have a few things at my former apartment--I claim it no more--but I'll deal with them on Sunday. My landlord is going to help me take out the old couch to put by the curb for garbage collection. I'll give the living room floor a sweep and try scrubbing the tub again, and then I should officially have no more connection to the place.

I would write more, but I'm typing this from work. My internet service was working at home, but I unplugged some things to get everything set up how I want it. Now I can't get a connection. I'll work on it when I get home, but rather than risk not being able to post today, I decided to pop in here and slap up something.

I'll have a fuller report tomorrow. Furor at the rental truck agency! The mystery of where everything is! The excessively early cable man! For the hundredth time, no, I don't want that dresser!

For now it's time for me to take some more things out of the car and into the apartment. Then I can kick back and relax...for a few hours.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The last night in the old place

What else is there to say except that today was more moving, packing, and cleaning? While I haven't moved every possible item on my own, I've moved most of the manageable ones. My arms, legs, and back are sore, and my allergies are killing me. Still, it's been a good day.

When I picked up my keys, I got a packet with some information about the area. Included was a flyer for cable service. The rental agent told me to call him to see if he could get me a better deal than what I have. (I'm transferring service rather than establishing it.) He told me that they should have given me his information when I signed the lease because he couldn't do anything since I already have a Saturday appointment for the transfer. He did let me know that I was paying full price for everything and how I might be able to get them to give me the price he could offer. Long story short, I knocked about $40 per month off of my cable bill. That's serious savings.

My next experience with customer service eventually produced a good result, but it took repeat phone calls and long hold times to get the simple answer I wanted. I found a futon online that looked like it was what would work for me, but I wanted to make sure it was available locally. (I can't imagine what the shipping charges are for something that heavy.) After twenty minutes I finally got to the right department and was told that they had it in stock. I was also told that I'd need a truck, SUV, or van to haul it. I was still using the van from work to move things, so now was the time to get it if it met my approval. It did. I needed every last inch to get it into the vehicle. I snared the last one in stock. Someone else bought one at the same time I did.

So the move has been all right so far. Yeah, it's a major hassle, but I'm sort of amazed how much I've been able to accomplish without any help. It will be good to have my parents and brother pitching in tomorrow, although I know that they are going to drive me absolutely crazy.

It started almost as soon as they arrived. First they couldn't find the place. My mom yelled my name in the parking lot because somehow she'd lost track of everyone. Then my parents had to get all chatty in the stairwell. (It was after 10 p.m., and I know that I wouldn't appreciate people talking there at that time.) Also, my family members have heavy foot syndrome. They do not move quietly. Clomp, clomp, clomp up the steps. My neighbors will already hate me. My mom mentions that there is no toilet paper. That's true. Maybe it's because while they're sleeping they'll have spent more time there than I have. I bet I'll hear in the morning that there isn't a shower curtain. Hmm, I wonder why that is.

About now I should be prepping some things for tomorrow and getting to bed before too long. The next time you hear from me, which I expect to be Saturday night, I'll be established in my new home. Hallelujah.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

How soon is now?

What a stroke of luck to be permitted to borrow the van from work. I used it to make two trips to my new apartment and hauled approximately fifty boxes. It would have taken me at least six trips in my car to transport all of those cardboard and plastic cubes. Even better, the boxes are in closets except for those on the kitchen countertop. They won't stay there. I'll need to do lots of unpacking of books, CDs, DVDs, and clothes, but I feel pretty good about moving that much by myself and making it invisible in the apartment.

Although it was a warm, shirt-soaking day--the high reached 88--I'll take it over moving in the rain. Friday is supposed to be mostly sunny, and Saturday's forecast has been scaled back to scattered thunderstorms. I figure I can make one or two more trips on my own tomorrow, which should make Saturday relatively pain-free. Sure, it'll involve moving the bigger items, but it's not like I have a lot of those. And I will have help. I ordered the rental truck and got a bonus upgrade to a larger one, which should eliminate any need to make two trips with it. Plus, it has a loading ramp. That'll make life easier.

My first impression upon entering my new home was that it seemed smaller than I remembered. It is smaller than my longtime apartment, although considering I've only stored things in the second bedroom, the amount of space I use may be equal. After getting acclimated, it didn't seem too small. It has an open layout with the living room, dining room, and kitchen, so that should make it feel bigger.

I crossed paths with occupants of two of the building's six units, but I got the more serious examination from their cats. One was hanging around outside while three others vigilantly watched me from the narrow, door-length windows by the individual entrances.

I'm still staying at the old place. I'll let my dad or brother disassemble the bed on Saturday. As it works out, my family will stay a night in my new place before I will. They're coming in late Friday, and it'll be a lot easier to put them there. (I bet they'll also have a better chance of getting a decent night's sleep.)

So far, so good. I can't wait to be able to lay down and relax there Saturday night. I'll miss some aspects of my old apartment--I'll detail them in a future post--but once I made the choice to move, I didn't need any convincing that it was the proper thing to do. Today reinforced that decision. So did last night's nonstop video game playing below me. I heard the game with a persistent beat coming through my floor for hours. Now I know what it would be like to be in The Tell-Tale Heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Is This It?

Raised Triangles Washcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar 'n Cream (100% cotton)
Color: Pastel print
Needles: US 8s
Stitches: 42

Call it the last FO for my soon to be former home. I've had a lot of nervous energy this week because of the move, so this was a good way to try and settle me down some. I knitted most of it last night and was surprised how fast it came together. The photographed triangles may not show up as well on the white cotton, but trust me, they are there.

Just one error of note on this one. At the end of a row my needle must have gone through a stitch below the one I should have been working on. There's a prominent bump at the spot, but other than that, it was smooth sailing.

And that should bring an end to my knitting at the place I've called home for a long time. I expect I'll knit a bit on Thursday and Friday but not a lot. I get the keys to the new apartment tomorrow afternoon, and I've decided to move as much as I can then. Doing it Thursday should help me avoid the anticipated rain and hopefully give me a place to park the vehicle to load boxes. (Yep, my neighbors have taken all the parking spaces again now that the street is open.) And if it lets me sleep better, great.

If I choose to view it positively, the stressful living situation here is partially responsible for me asking to learn to knit in the first place. See, I can look on the bright side.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Moving Blues

...and exhale.

So I was a wee bit uptight last night. It has passed. Blowing off that steam was probably what I needed. Since I was stuck, I plopped down on the couch to watch the season finales of 24 (verdict: lame, just like the season) and Heroes (verdict: good but the show has yet to reach its potential). I even went to bed before midnight, which is not a common occurrence. I felt better this morning despite having three reviews in desperate need of writing. While I have misgivings about what I wrote, the reviews got done and might have a flash or two of worthwhile ideas in them. Can't say that for the show we taped. The afternoon coffee had worn off by then, and I could feel the caffeine and its energy-sapping property sending me into sleep mode.

As if you didn't already know, it's Moving Week. Officially there are four days until I make the transition, but I've decided that I'm going to do as much as I can on my own on Thursday and Friday. I got approval to use the van from work to transport my things, so that ought to allow me to double up on what I can take per trip. My tentative goal is to get everything in boxes to the new apartment before my mom, dad, and youngest brother arrive on Saturday. I will need assistance (and a small rental truck) to get the larger stuff moved. If that's all I have left, then I can get more help doing the requisite cleaning that needs to be done before turning in the keys.

Knowing that I can spread the move over several days makes me feel better. I also have more confidence that I won't have to return on Sunday to do any minor work, such as cleaning the oven and spackling nail holes. I'd like to spend the rest of the weekend reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union, knitting, and, above all else, relaxing.

One potential purchase for the new place is that functional piece of furniture for lazy college students and bachelors known as the futon. I have a couch, but I wouldn't shed any tears if I leave it behind on the curb awaiting garbage collection. It isn't what I would call comfortable. Getting it out of the apartment will be a good trick in its own right. (The narrow stairwell and alignment of doors requires several calculations with a protractor and compass and subsequent readjustments for moving any furniture of consequence. Thank you, 1950s architects.) Inexpensive is good. Any suggestions? And before you say it, the closest IKEA is near Pittsburgh.

Monday, May 21, 2007



Yarn: The Original Sugar 'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Sage green
Needles: US 8s
Stitches: 36
Stitch pattern: Seed stitch

As knitting projects go, this was not the most interesting thing I've ever made. In fact, I was sort of bored with it shortly after beginning. It was a a good start-stop project for diverting my attention from cleaning and packing. I would attend to moving-related activities for awhile, knit a few rows, and then go back to boxing things. It also didn't require my utmost focus while I tried to whittle down two months' of Lost episodes sitting on the DVR.

Closer inspection of my work would have tipped me off to the error I made. Apparently I lost track of what row I was on and ended up with a stripe of ribbing. A few rows later I noticed it, but I told myself that it's just a dishcloth, so leave it alone. I'm not sure if I should be disconcerted about this creeping attitude, but it works for me at this time.

Resigned acceptance of such mistakes can be chalked up to the fact that I'm tired. Recent months have been wearing me down physically and mentally, not that you can really separate the two, and I'm ready for the break that is nowhere in sight.

Getting myself moved will be a major source of stress out of the way (and hopefully a stress reducer as far as living conditions are concerned). I have a feeling that it's going to be a rough move. One of my brothers is unable to help because of health issues. The Friday and Saturday forecasts call for rain. I dodged one potential problem that arose today. A rental agent called to say that the office was going to be closed all day Friday for a meeting, so I would have to wait until Saturday to get the keys. Per my request, they're going to let me get them Thursday night. With all Friday available to me, I imagine I'll cart boxes back and forth in my car to try and cut down on what needs to be done before my family arrives on Saturday.

I'm ready to be done with the move and don't even want to think about unpacking stuff. I think I've done a pretty good job of staying on top of making address changes and remembering all the other little tasks involved with moving. Being vigilant about these details and all the uncertainty elsewhere this year is wearing me out, though. Sure the end is near with this move...and then it's time for the massive relocation of everything at work.

Conceivably things are looking up, so I shouldn't let this grind me down. Ordinarily the arrival of summer marks a slower period, but when school ends in about two weeks, I'm afraid I may be busier than usual at the office. It must be one of those days. The pressure of being ready to move in time is on, and I'm feeling the heat of having to write for tomorrow's show and not finding the inspiration. (I've even skipped tonight's screening with the intent to write and pack.) And it all results in being blocked. I don't even know how to finish here. So I guess I'll call it a post.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Seven Random Things

I could wait to write today's entry until I've finished the dishcloth, but Karen tagged me for the latest meme making the rounds and thus gave me reason to ramble about something else. Following in the tradition of six weird things about me, here are seven random things about yours truly:

1. I was an extra in the film A Reason To Believe. In summer 1993 some friends from high school and I went to visit another friend who had opened a record store near Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. While walking around the campus we were asked if we wanted to be extras in a movie. Who wouldn't? My thing was to stand in a circle of people talking, walk over with another guy to look at a poster on a wall, and then cross the street. I tracked down a videotape a couple years after it was released and don't remember it being very good, a memory supported by the Los Angeles Times review. I did make the cut, although I seem to recall being visible only from a distance and therefore unrecognizable.

2. I've driven in a Vice-Presidential motorcade twice. Both times it was when Al Gore made visits during the 1996 campaign, once to Columbus and once to Detroit. For the Detroit visit I also helped out with the advance team, which was a pretty interesting experience. I had no idea that I wouldn't be sleeping that night, so I ended up being awake for something like forty hours straight. That included a few hours' drive back home after all of this. Try having been up for more than 24 hours in a row, tearing down the highway at approximately 70 mph with policemen on motorcycles close on both sides of the vehicle, and the Secret Service agent cranking the radio. I was carting around media members, but I did get to go up on the top floor of the Renaissance Center and slide itineraries or something under the doors while the important people were there. It was pretty surreal.

3. In college I had two majors: Speech Communication and Psychology. The Psychology major was added "for fun" since I had completed most of the Speech Comm degree by the end of my sophomore year.

4. I took piano lessons from second grade through my senior year of college. If I were to guess, I was probably at an advanced intermediate level in my prime. I think I was better at being a technical player than an interpreter, something that would be different now if I weren't so badly out of practice. I still remember most of Bach's Invention No. 13.

5. Going by the IMDB's All-Time USA box office list, I have seen 336 of the 366 films to gross more than $100 million in domestic theatrical release. The exceptions: Ghost, The Sting, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Pocahontas, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Platoon, The Flintstones, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Nutty Professor (1996), Coming to America, Rocky IV, Smokey and the Bandit, The Birdcage, Rocky III, The Bodyguard, On Golden Pond, Rocky, The Towering Inferno, American Graffiti, Terms of Endearment, A League of Their Own, Love Story, Kramer vs. Kramer, Every Which Way But Loose, Porky's, The First Wives Club, Stir Crazy, Airport, Casper, and Jumanji.

6. Although I work in television and have been on radio and TV hundreds of times, at heart I am still a shy person or, to put it another way, someone not looking to be the center of attention. I suspect my parents are surprised at what I do for a living considering that I was not the most outgoing kid growing up. (This isn't to say that I was a social outcast or anything, just that I was more introverted.)

7. I enjoy baking, especially pies. It's something I picked up from my grandmother. I haven't had the time to do it lately.

Rather than tag the usual people to participate, I'll leave it open to anyone who wishes to do so. If you're a lurking reader out there, play along and let me know who you are.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A blanket entry

Diagonal baby blanket

Yarn: Plymouth Encore Chunky (75% acrylic, 25% wool; bulky weight)
Color: 450 (light green)
Needles: US 11 circulars
Stitches: up to 126

This blanket is definitely lighter than the first one I made, which is due to substituting the yarn. I've since come across some Lion Homespun in a color I liked, but I'm happy with what I chose to use instead. The Plymouth yarn didn't split as much, and it pulled more smoothly from the skein. I'd also wager that it knitted up quicker too, but that could have as much to do with my comfort with the pattern as it might with the yarn.

OK eagle-eyed readers, can you spot where the most noticeable mistake is in the baby blanket? There can be no attributing this error to a stylistic decision.

It doesn't look as bad as I feared it would when I first spotted it. I'm not sure how I got off like that. I assume it was one wrong stitch that perpetuated itself until I started decreasing. As much of a perfectionist as I can be, I didn't have the heart to undo all of those stitches and fix it. So does that make me lazy or rational? I suppose I can still get away with playing the novice card when it comes to giving flawed projects like this, but it kills me a little to see such an obvious mistake, as if it's something that would be sold for a discount in the irregulars pile.

Packing continued today after a well-placed nap in the early afternoon. I'm getting to hear and smell a greatest hits of neighborly annoyances and aggravations for my final week here, so I needed a lunchtime snooze. It really hit the spot.

I bought a larger tub to hold my growing stash and collection of needles. My stash is mostly yarn remnants from other projects. I have some Cotton-Ease and baby sweater yarn that hasn't been touched, but that's it as far as stockpiling goes.

Whatever time I have to knit this week may be devoted to dishcloths. I've been impressed how the one I made myself has withstood washing and drying kitchenware, so I figure I could use more. My new place will have a dishwasher--hallelujah--but I'm sure these will come in handy. The dishcloth I began tonight is in seed stitch.

Tonight marks the last Saturday I will spend in this place. It's kind of weird to think about that, but for now I'm not feeling sad about it. The neighbors are doing their part to quash any nostalgia.

Friday, May 18, 2007


And just like that another baby blanket is finished! My worries about an insufficient amount of yarn turned out to be unfounded. Although I don't have a lot of leftover yarn, it wasn't a nail-biter of a knitting conclusion for the project. I'll post a picture tomorrow.

As I usually do, I had the television on while working on the blanket this evening. I've already given up on the Reds for this season, so I didn't feel like I had any great obligation to keep the channel tuned to tonight's pounding. Instead I checked out what sounded like a magnificently terrible idea: National Bingo Night.

Honestly, I decided to watch for the kitsch factor than any genuine interest in the show. It's why I'll probably check out the first episode of this fall's surefire train wreck Cavemen, a race relations comedy featuring the Cro-Magnon characters from the GEICO commercials. Televised bingo? Seriously?

Several years ago while bored out of our skulls taping high school graduations, another guy and I came up with the idea of World Championship Board Games as a TV event. I had come across ESPN2 airing a Magic: The Gathering tournament, which inspired us to propose other brilliant programming ideas. (I think our other idea was Can You Grill It? The point of this hypothetical game was to guess if an item could or could not be grilled.) Little did we know that televised poker would become a big deal years later. Now a network is devoting an hour to interactive bingo. Unbelievable.

National Bingo Night is the perfect show to knit to. It requires paying very little attention to what is happening unless you're playing along. (Even then, I suspect you could manage both.) There's not much of a need to look at the TV, which is a benefit for those like me who still spend an inordinate amount of time watching the needles instead of the monitor.

It isn't a good show. The host's voiceovers are pretty obviously edited in after the fact and not something he's saying on set, and I could feel myself getting dumber being in the same room with a TV displaying it. Yet it was transfixing in a way that game shows can be. It isn't destination programming--I can't see people recording this--but it's a strangely watchable option if nothing else is on.

*shudder* Sitting at home on a Friday night knitting and watching bingo on TV...could I sound more like a grandmother?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Minor troubles

I'm down to the last skein of yarn for the baby blanket...and I fear I may not have enough to finish.

When I bought this yarn, a store employee calculated how much I would need. There's more yardage in the four skeins of Plymouth Encore Chunky than three of Lion Homespun, so I don't know why there wouldn't be enough. Stitches per inch were factored into the equation too. Maybe there's nothing to worry about, but it appears that I have a lot of rows to get out of this final skein.

I'm sensing that my college neighbors have figured out that I'm moving out. Either that or they must think I love bananas like nothing else. (I've brought home approximately 30 banana boxes for packing in the past week.) By their thinking, this gives them license to increase their obnoxious behavior. I'm leaving. They're leaving. What can I do about it? Nothing, probably. To be fair, they're not in peak irritation form, but the stereo is noticeably louder than it has been. How I also love being able to feel the force of the doors they slam.

I've kept busy this evening by packing more stuff. The all-too-appropriate listening was a segment about pack rats from today's Talk of the Nation on NPR. My parents' December move and some chats have helped inspire me to let go of a lot of stuff I've held onto, but I could understand where some of the people on the show were coming from. My hoarding isn't as bad as their examples. Still, I'm glad that I might have broken myself of that tendency.

The problem for the pack rat in this day and age can be summed up in one word: eBay. I don't mean from an acquiring perspective, although it's good for that. No, I mean that it leads you to believe that any old crap might have some value there. Somebody might give you something for whatever it is you can't bear to throw away. That may be true, but I'm betting that a lot of it requires more expense in time to post, monitor, and complete the auction than it nets in dollars. Sure, I have some things I'm going to sell eventually, but there was a lot that wouldn't have been worth the trouble to put up for bids.

Nine days until the move and eight until I get the keys to the new place. I plan on carting some boxes with me when I inspect the apartment, so I can get a head start on the 25th. Nevertheless, I'm not going to make a lot of trips in my car when one trip the next day with a rental truck should suffice. Gas at $3.29 a gallon (and certain to be higher for the holiday weekend) dictates that choice.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Booking it

Felted needle holder

Yarn: Lion Wool (100% wool; worsted weight)
Colors: Scarlet, goldenrod, winter white, sage, and cadet blue
Needles: US 8s
Stitches: 40

Items of note from knitting this needle roll... This was the first time I purled stitches and bound off. The pattern calls for binding off 17 stitches and knitting the next 23 and then binding off 17 more stitches and knitting the remaining six. I knitted and bound off for the first seventeen and purled and bound off for the next seventeen (and purled the six stitches left). It probably didn't make any difference since it was felted, but I was interested to see that the pre-felting, bound off edge looked consistent across the right side.

I also sewed in the ends as I was going along. Changing colors so frequently results in a lot of tails. Rather than wait until I was finished, I wove them in after finishing every couple stripes. I finally have the knack for weaving in ends that I'm no longer as wary when getting to that point in a project. I'm also a lot faster at it.

For the first time in almost a month I worked on the baby blanket. I'd been flying through it. Then the film festivals hit, followed by entering moving preparation mode. It took me a moment to figure out where I needed to start knitting. I nearly joined it in the round, which would have resulted in much anguish if I hadn't caught the obvious mistake in time. After knitting a few rows I decided that the tails were getting in the way, so I sewed them in despite having about a skein and a half to knit until I'm finished.

The plan after work today was to box up my books and, if I was motivated enough, the rest of the stuff in my living room. Before putting the books in boxes, I decided that now was a good time to inventory them through Library Thing. I probably missed a few that were in another room and already packed, although I unpacked some once this became a mission.

This is a handy tool for me and for anyone with a decent number of books. I've added a new feature in the sidebar to allow you to take a peek at what's in my library. My complete list of entries is here. I lost my enthusiasm for doing any more packing after cataloging these books. It was time well spent, though. Does anyone know if something similar exists for CDs and DVDs?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On and On and On

That's more like it. This is what I intended to knit the first time I made this pattern, except I couldn't find any red or yellow wool then. I don't have the energy to trudge up and down the stairs to check the felting process tonight, and I don't have the patience to sit in the basement to watch it. The final step can wait until tomorrow.

I could lay the blame on the flat, uninspired Shrek the Third sucking the life out of me, but I'm wiped out from more packing. It feels like that's all I've done today. Actually, it almost is. Following the lead of my co-workers, I began digging through my office since it will be relocating this summer. If there's a motto I'm living by at the moment, it is "throw it out". That's been a tough thing for me to do, but it's the only way I'll keep any sanity through this.

So I unloaded a lot of papers, press kits, and videotapes in the recycle bin and dumpster. As eager as I am to switch apartments, I am getting close to feeling the same way about offices. The unpredictable extreme temperatures at the station--arctic last week, muggy today--are wearing me out. Remember, I work indoors.

I came home and boxed up the rest of my DVDs. I know I've received a fair number for free, but it's ridiculous how many I have. And I still have to pack my CDs. Oh boy.

But progress is being made. It isn't easy or fun, but I'm accomplishing what needs to be done. With that said, I sign off for tonight ready to watch the new episode of Veronica Mars or the final three on the lackluster American Idol. And I need to take a serious listen to Wilco's Sky Blue Sky. A couple background listens makes me wonder why the prevailing opinions are that it isn't any good. At least one person disagrees.

One other thing... Just got a call from my boss. There's an agreement in place for our funding, so that's taken care of for the rest of the year.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Counting blessings

It's always worthwhile to take stock of the good things in life. Following Donna's lead, here are some of my blessings:

1. I have a job that I enjoy and that gives me a lot of freedom to do what I want. Work has been stressful in recent months because of funding issues, but all in all, I think most people would love to have the flexibility and variety in what I do on a daily basis. Hopefully the months of uncertainty about the place's future will be resolved soon.

2. More than at any other point in my life, I know who I am. Kind of a weird thing to say, especially because I never felt like I didn't know myself. It's hard to explain. I didn't set out to "find" myself, but the last fourteen months have given me reasons to reflect on the matter. A job scare followed by another one (the current situation) has put work into perspective. I like what I do, but I had invested myself in it too much as a way of ignoring my dissatisfaction with my personal life. I can't say that I've solved that puzzle yet, but at least I feel like I'm more capable of it than I was a year ago.

3. I'm thankful for friends who inspire me. With family and friends moving farther away in the past year, it's been a big help to make these new friends. They have introduced me to things I would have never considered doing, listened to me when I've needed a friendly ear, and been encouraging and interesting people to get to know better.

4. I also appreciate my readers, some of whom I've come to know. I write for myself here, but if it weren't for your responses and knowing that people take the time to read what I write, I don't know that I'd keep at it as earnestly as I do. I'll try not to bore you but no guarantees. :)

5. Of course I'm grateful for my health, and the same applies to my car's health. For the two-plus years I've owned it, I haven't needed to have any major repair work done, just standard maintenance. The car had more miles on it than I preferred, but it's been very reliable.

6. Who knows why I have it, but I'm glad that I have curiosity. Life is so much more interesting and amazing when you stop to consider the vast expanse of human knowledge and creativity. I'm happy that I have a sense that incites me to seek out what I don't know and to explore deeply what interests me most. For example, knitting is such a simple thing at its core, but it boggles my mind how all of its techniques were created and passed along. If there's one thing that frustrates me most about a lot of the students I encounter today, it's the lack of curiosity. Is too much information available too easily that there's no allure in looking past their noses?

This was a lot harder than I expected it to be. Six is a paltry number, but if I don't stop now, I'll sit here all night trying to think of some more. I thought I'd bang out a fast entry and get to knitting after spending the early evening doing more apartment cleaning. And the universe laughed again...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

These days it seems like whenever I call my parents they're on the way out. Good for them for staying active, but it's not quite the Mother's Day advertisement when the dog holds more sway than a phone call from me. (He was ready to go for a walk.)

They live several hours away, so there was no popping in for lunch or anything like that. Anyway, I had moving preparations to continue. My mom asked if the building residents know I'm leaving yet. I said that I wasn't sure and that they were probably more concerned about getting themselves relocated. She asked if I hadn't decided too quickly to move out--at least the second time I've heard this--and I explained that I needed to get out of here regardless of if these people were staying. (The landlord has been showing the apartments to other students, so sticking around would run the same risks as the last two years.) I understand that she wants to know that I've made the right choice--that's what mothers do--but it gets aggravating.

I must give her credit for telling me to go to the grocery store and get banana boxes for packing. They're sturdy and have handles. I obtained 21 boxes this weekend, and I think I'll make a morning stop at Meijer all week so that I will have enough on hand.

I'm finding that I can only clean and pack a couple hours at a time. The dust kicks up my allergies something fierce. I didn't finish packing up my bedroom, but I'm a lot closer than I thought I would be. I've reached the point where some of the stuff that's unorganized in plastic tubs after my initial culling phase is probably just going to move as is. I can go through it and toss anything else once I get in the new place.

Although I could have accomplished more this weekend, I worked hard at packing and feel like the worst of it is out of the way. My living room and kitchen should just involve packing things rather than deciding what to keep and then putting stuff in boxes. The end is in sight from a distance.

I still found time to get outside and enjoy the cool spring weather with some exercise at the park. This is a great time for walking and running. The air is light, and the sun shines without beating down. I didn't spot any deer, which are sometimes on the track, but I did see a garter snake and some squirrels.

I also found time for knitting tonight. I'm nearly done with another needle roll. Who knows what I'll move on to next? I still have an unfinished baby blanket. Sock knitting isn't too far away. I'm surprised to see how much knitting stuff I've amassed--yarn in particular--in the short time I've been doing this, so I guess I need to get creative.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Knitting in the round

Baby hat

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic)
Colors: 31 and 33 (baby pink and dark rose)
Needles: US 8 dpns
Stitches: 54

OK, so I made some mistakes knitting this in the round, but all in all, it turned out fine. I had some panicked moments as I approached the final decreases as I must have turned around one of the dpns and lost my place because the hat was being knitted together in an odd way. Fortunately I avoided a major catastrophe and got everything straightened out in time to get confused again while threading the yarn through to draw up the seams. I also thought I might have dropped a stitch in the process, but best as I can tell, it's OK.

I'm convinced that I should knit hats only in the round. It'll save me from my dissatisfaction with my seaming. When it's time to knit another hat for myself, I'll definitely do it on circs. Dpns aren't as difficult as I thought they might be, but I don't work as fast on them as I do with other needles.

Except in comparison to the other hat I made, there's no reason to believe I made errors in knitting this hat. Lesson learned. That will come in handy.

Two weeks until moving day... Faced with the reality that I need to get packed, I hunkered down and essentially finished packing everything in my spare bedroom. It didn't take as long as I thought it might, so I'm hopeful that I can get my bedroom packed on Sunday. The culling I did a couple months ago made a big difference in the work I did today. I threw out some more stuff, but for the most part the worst aspect of the job in that room was already done. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

My landlord agreed to buy my washer and dryer for $150. Not bad for something I got for free in the first place. Since my new apartment comes with the appliances, selling mine saves me the hassle of trying to get them out of the basement. One of my brothers who was going to help with the move may be unable to assist, so keeping the heavy lifting to a minimum is for the best. Plus, with this money, the security deposit (which I expect to get back after all these years), and the $150 Best Buy gift card I won at the end of last year, I expect I won't have to cough up too much more to purchase a laptop.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Don't cry

Including yesterday's aborted attempt to knit a baby hat on circs, it took three tries to get it on the needles without any issues. My first attempt using dpns had to be scrapped when I noticed that I was knitting the tail.

In preparation for knitting the hat on the circs I was overthinking things. I had the opposite problem knitting it on dpns. For some reason, I convinced myself that knitting the hat in the round on dpns required following the same instructions for knitting it flat. (That's how it is for the coffee cup cozy, but there's no right or wrong side with it.) So I happily knitted along and wondered why it appeared that garter stitch was being produced where stockinette should be. Hmm.

Of course, I understood the error when I paused to think about it. What else is there to do in this situation but to correct my flawed thinking and chalk up the wrongly knitted portion as a stylistic choice? Oh no, there will not be frogging. It should look fine, although I admit to being perturbed with myself for messing it up. I have a way of not doing anything right the first time.

None of this is anything to cry about, but speaking of shedding a few tears... When Donna temporarily relocated her daily entries from her primary blog to her craft blog, she piggybacked on "Songs That Make The AV Club Cry" with her own list of musical weepers and invited others to share. Since I've been in a grouchy mood of late and have another tale of knitting woe above, what better time to play along? I've listed them in the order in which they occurred to me or I found them in iTunes. By no coincidence, the words "cry" and "tears" appear in many of these songs.

1. Sufjan Stevens "Casimir Pulaski Day" from Illinois

The opening lyric ("Goldenrod and the 4-H stone/the things I brought you/when I found out you had cancer of the bone") primes the tears, and it's all downhill from there. This heartbreaking song mingles adolescent love and religious faith and confusion ("Tuesday night at the bible study/we lift our hands and pray over your body/but nothing ever happens") in a way that never fails to kill me.

2. Big Star "Thirteen" from #1 Record

A defining song of teen angst regarding first love and the generation gap. Elliott Smith's cover compares very well to the original.

3. Matthew Sweet "Don't Go" from Girlfriend

The simple yet urgent words pleading to a loved one on the deathbed are so direct that they're like a slap to the face. The dark melody and Sweet's desperate keening add to the sense of the world crashing in.

4. R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts" from Automatic for the People

All of the songs on this list are about death and/or loneliness, but here's an uplifting one. The exhortation to take comfort in friends and understand that no one lives a pain-free life seems obvious enough, but R.E.M.'s waltz serves as a lullaby for nights when that reminder is needed.

5. The Beach Boys "God Only Knows" from Pet Sounds

There's probably been more than enough written about this song in the history of rock criticism that there's nothing I need to add. Bonus points for jerking tears in a major key.

6. Son Volt "Tear Stained Eye" from Trace

Life is hard, and so is finding the purpose of it all. That's just the way things are in this country weeper. Don't go looking for help from above either ("Sainte Genevieve can hold back the water/but saints don't bother with a tear stained eye").

7. Bruce Robison "Travellin Soldier" from Bruce Robison

If you've heard this, most likely it was The Dixie Chicks' cover of this original from Robison's 1995 debut album. In this story song an 18-year-old being shipped to Vietnam asks a teenage waitress if he can write her while he's away at war. Predictably, he's killed and she's heartbroken. What makes the song so effective is how the lyrics evoke the simple connection between the boy and girl, the details of how they keep in touch, and the way she learns of his death.

8. Laura Cantrell "When the Roses Bloom Again" from When the Roses Bloom Again

A soldier promises to return to his sweetheart when the roses bloom again. He makes it back but not in this world. This song was intended for Billy Bragg & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue project but turns up on here instead. Cantrell's sweet voice and the vintage country arrangement add a delicacy that I'm not sure they would have brought to it.

9. Neko Case "I Wish I Was the Moon" from Blacklisted

Few can conjure the mood of late, lonely nights like Case can with her big, expressive voice.

10. Jeff Buckley "Lover, You Should've Come Over" from Grace

Buckley's operatic voice heightens the drama and emotion in this song of romantic longing and confessing shortcomings that have harmed his relationship, perhaps irreparably.

Bonus instrumental track: Michel Legrand "Générique" from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The main theme from Jacques Demy's musical (and one of my favorite films) swells with sadness, especially in the final scene. While it's impossible to hear the music without thinking of the film, Legrand's composition says everything in the melancholy notes. Images and words aren't necessary.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More projects

Another felted needle roll was not the anticipated project for the evening, but it was a nice and easy fallback plan when the first one didn't work out. I'm ordering the colors according to their places in the spectrum, mainly because I figured that was a surefire way of arranging them in a pleasing way. I've gone all wild and crazy and witched up how many rows of a particular color I'm using rather than following the pattern to a tee.

I lost count while knitting the yellow rows, so I ended up with two more of those than intended. No problem. I'm happy with it so far.

I was going to work on knitting another baby hat, this time in the round, but even a 16" cable was too long.

The cast on row is stretched to its limit. There is no way I could join this and knit in the round. I guess I'll have to get some US 8 dpns and give it a shot on those. Between your helpful tips and the online research I've done, I think I should be good to go.

I've learned how to knit this in the round on circs, although that knowledge will have to be filed away as it doesn't apply to dpns. It took some contemplation to realize that the reason I couldn't find any explanation for how to do seed stitch in the round is because it's the same as on straights.

The baby hat knitted in the round will be the inverse of the one I finished yesterday. I'll use pink for the contrasting color and rose for the main color. Babies are such fashion plates that I'm sure the recipient of these hats will appreciate being able to mix up her wardrobe.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Baby FO

Baby hat

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic)
Colors: 31 and 33 (baby pink and dark rose)
Needles: US 8s
Stitches: 54

Just like that, a baby hat. This is a little bigger than the first one I made. I measured incorrectly and knit two more rows than necessary, but rather than frog them, I left everything intact. I added two more decrease rows to the pattern as well.

As usual, the seam is kind of dodgy, although it's an improvement over my first attempt at this hat. Seaming stockinette can be a challenge. Since I don't expect I'll see the expectant parents for almost two weeks, I think I'll drop it in the mail.

How could I adapt the pattern for knitting in the round? That would eliminate my seam issues. Sure, I could stand to improve at seaming too, but this seems like a good project for testing my skills with circs. (I'm assuming this is big enough for circular needles and wouldn't have to be done on dpns.)

Dark Horse Yarns have been a favorite of mine, and I'm glad to see they've spiffed up their website since I last visited it. They've also added corresponding color names to the numbers, which I find helpful. I've used the Fantasy line for scarves, baby hats, and coffee cup cozies and liked the results.

Following yesterday's return to knitting after an unanticipated week's break, tonight I went back to the park to resume the walking and running regimen I began late last spring. Because of the weather and a hectic schedule it's been months since I've exercised like this. Luckily I've changed my eating habits as well, so I've been able to keep from adding the weight back on. Still, I needed the exercise, and some sunshine doesn't hurt either.

The 3.8 mile track provides a solid test. I walked the majority of it, but in two segments I ran about a mile total. My legs felt strong, even if those first few running steps seemed like I had lead strapped to me. Other than a stitch in my side and some tightness in my shoulders, running felt good. I've done it enough to know that the first day back is usually better than the second, but it's encouraging that I'm not in as bad of shape as I expected.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Actual knitting content

As promised, here's the lucky cat perched on the mat I made. Looks like just the right size. He's definitely stylin'.

Yes, honest to goodness knitting content. I know it's been awhile.

Tonight I picked up the needles for the first time in a week and started a baby hat. The expectant parents know they will be having a girl, which is why I'm using these colors. I'll have a lot of the yarn left over and no idea what to use it for, but I really like the color combination.

It was nice to knit again. I was reminded why it's good for me. I needed it to block out the braying laughter from one apartment and drunken shouting in another. So much for skipping a screening to take it easy this evening, but I'm out of here in eighteen days.

As I make preparations for the move, I run into the odd dilemma. For instance, I need to get new checks. For at least a year I've paid all my monthly bills via electronic transactions, but my new rental management company charges extra for this method. I've had no need for checks, but now I will, even if it's just one a month. I called the bank and explained that I need to order new checks and change my address. It's an either/or proposition over the telephone, though.

I can order new checks with my current address and receive them where I currently live. I can change the address and have them sent to my soon-to-be residence. I cannot change the address and have them sent where I am now unless I go to the bank. I suppose the policy makes sense, but it doesn't mean I'm any less irritated by it.

I've already scheduled an appointment with the cable company for move-in day. Obviously my priorities are in place.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday musings

Thanks to those who have submitted questions for the something like an interview meme. I don't have a time frame in mind for when I'll answer them, so add your own if you feel like it.

I had today's post done in my head after I got an e-mail with a picture of the cat enjoying the mat I made. I didn't open the file at the time, and when I tried tonight, I couldn't get the photo to load. I've requested that it be sent again, so maybe I'll have it tomorrow.

With that plan dashed, I'm scrambling for something today...

Donna and Jenn have given their own Thinking Blogger awards, so I encourage you to follow where they lead you.

Searches for "knitting" continue to rise, at least according to the Yahoo! buzz log. This guy is not impressed. In addition to the fact that I would dare knit, I have a feeling he'd take umbrage that as a fellow male I know he's made an error when he mentions "Longenburger". My mom was into Longaberger baskets at one time, and the main office isn't terribly far from here. Last I checked, such knowledge doesn't make me a betrayer of my gender. And yes, their corporate office building looks like a giant basket.

A screenwriter is attached to the forthcoming Julia Roberts knitting movie. I'm not sure why the article writer pegs Mike Binder as being best at writing about male relationships. The Upside of Anger was a far sight better than the good but flawed Reign Over Me.

I'm becoming convinced that the physical plant employees on campus are out to get me. Ever since the weather turned warm, I've had to wear long sleeves and a jacket in my office, and I'm still cold.

You know what I can't get enough of lately? Hawaiian Punch.

You know what I can't find at all? Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream. I really don't care if I ever eat it--I prefer Häagen-Dazs and Graeter's to Ben & Jerry's --I just want to see it at the supermarket.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Doing the unstuck

Occasionally creative desperation will provide the spark of inspiration. As I searched for something to write about today, I stumbled upon an idea that seems like a good way of stockpiling some ideas for days when my brain is in neutral. Yes, it's the meme, the go-to idea for the lazy and creatively bankrupt.

This one has a twist, though. Rather than me completing a standardized list of questions generated who knows where, you contribute the burning questions you'd like for me to answer. Post them in the comments, or e-mail them if you'd prefer, and I'll address them when I'm having one of those days when nothing comes to mind. It'll be just like one of those canned interviews you see in the newspapers, uh, except I'll be the interviewee. The sample I found used five questions, but feel free to submit more or less. Of course, I reserve the right to dodge any questions of my choosing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Gold soundz

So much for hoping the neighbors learned... The door was standing wide open on two different occasions today. Three weeks to go.

I got busy griping and forgot to include the whole point of that post. Yes, living here has been difficult for months, some more than others, but maybe the way to look at the situation is to appreciate that they've led me to make a change I probably should have made years ago. This hasn't been a bad place to live for most of the time I've been here, but a change of scenery in the area should do me some good. Cleaning in preparation for packing is not fun, but I'm ridding myself of stuff I didn't need to be holding onto. I'm looking forward to making a fresh start once in the new apartment. I've probably needed it for awhile.

That said, don't expect me to be passing out thank you cards to the building's other residents.

As for my periodic self-criticism regarding pointless/less-than-invigorating posts, I suppose that it's my nature to do that. Yes, I know I'm the only one holding myself to daily blogging and that there are likely to be far more duds than gems. Just ignore that moaning when I indulge it. I haven't knitted since Monday--haven't felt up to it with everything--so that has made updating a knitblog more challenging.

With today's arrival of Nad's letter from Germany, my part in the Knitterly Letter Swap is complete. Either it's a small world or word's getting around because she said that this here site (my approximation of southern speaking for effect, not her words) was already in her Bloglines. OK, who told? :) Seriously, though, Nad, if you're reading, I'd love to know how you got here in the first place.

I plan to keep up the letter writing with both of my pals. Earlier this week I received a second letter from my other pal Jessica. I love finding letters in my mailbox, but one advantage I have to give e-mail is being able to see what I wrote previously.

Today's letter brightened my day, and I'm feeling more with it after attempting to sleep for much of the afternoon (too much neighborly noise). I've finally listened to almost all of the third series of The Ricky Gervais Show, which has provided some much-needed laughs. I had some time to browse the stacks at Used Kids Records, something I haven't done in a long time. I found I'm From Barcelona's Let Me Introduce My Friends, a sunshine pop album from a 29-member Swedish group, and a good deal on the deluxe reissue of Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain that I couldn't pass up. I still find it ridiculous that an album that came out while I was in college is up for this kind of treatment, but it's been enjoyable taking another listen to it and digging through the b-sides and other rarities.

And in music news of interest to me alone (or so I feel safe in assuming), the press release on Amazon's page for the new Kelly Willis album has me even more excited for it. She is my favorite singer, and it's been five years since she released something new. The new album sounds like a departure--an Iggy Pop cover?--but that's precisely what has my interest piqued.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Let's just forget this week happened and move along. I'm sitting here blank and uninspired. The best thing would be to get some distance from it all.

Speaking of moving, 22 days and counting until the big day arrives for me. In January I thought the day would never get here, but now it approaches with a combination of excitement about being in a new place and dread that I'm never going to be ready for the move. My neighbors have been better since those really awful months, but there have still been plenty of aggravations. I think they're wise to me moving out. Since they are too, whether by their choice or the landlord's, they have no reason to be good neighbors, not that they've been terribly concerned about it previously.

Maybe they learned one lesson on Thursday. It irritates me a lot to come home and see the front door to the building standing wide open, something they do a lot because they don't want to open it each time their guests come over. It's not just that my apartment does the heating and cooling in the stairwell, although it steams me to see it in the colder months. I don't expect criminals to come sneaking in, but it is common sense not to have the main entrance inviting anyone and everyone to enter. Or everything. You see, a bird flew in, and I heard them trying to get it out. They weren't having much luck, but eventually it flew out the front door. They shut the door after that.

The big question for the move is whether or not the street I live on will be finished. It's going on two months that they've been replacing the sewer lines and rebuilding the sidewalks. The building's four parking spaces are still unusable since the lot has a foot drop-off from what little remains of the blacktop area and the excavated portion. The street is still dirt and rocks, although supposedly they are to begin paving next week. With the way my neighbors are, there's no guarantee I'll get a parking spot when this is finished, but a repaved road and reconstructed parking area are essential for getting a moving truck here. A morning or two where I don't hear construction beginning an hour before I get up would be nice as well.

Hopefully things will get back to normal in upcoming days, and I'll say something worth reading.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Personal movie quiz

If yesterday's meager excuse for a post wasn't an indicator, you should know that I am 100% fried. With that being the case, what better thing to do than answer this personal movie quiz meme that was on a film nerd message board I frequent? It's a better fit for my other site, but it'll allow me to share a little here and expend a minimum amount of mental energy. Play along on your site, if you like.

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

I can't think of any film I've seen that many times. Maybe there was something that played on The Disney Channel when I was a kid that I saw upwards of ten times, but I doubt it.

2. Name a movie that you've seen multiple times in the theater.

The Departed and The Prestige are recent examples. (I'll pass over those that I wouldn't have seen a second time but did as part of the festival last week.) For an unexpected example, I've seen Jacques Tati's Playtime twice theatrically in 70mm. A 27" TV is not big enough to make sense of this brilliant film.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Being a critic, there's not much choice involved in what I see. If it's opening and it's screening, chances are I see it. That being said, I'm happy to see Billy Bob Thornton show up, even when the movie isn't any good. Classics division: Cary Grant.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Tyler Perry (two Madea movies were enough for me), Rob Schneider

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

I can tell you who was in a movie, but I'm not very good at remembering lines. (Could it have anything to do with not watching the same movies over and over?) Let's say Office Space.

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

At one time I might have known all of the lyrics to Little Shop of Horrors. Other than that, A Hard Day's Night is the closest I can think of. Maybe Moulin Rouge!, especially with all of its pop song collages.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Can't say I've done this.

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

In theaters now: Hot Fuzz. On video: The Man in the Moon. (No, not the Andy Kaufman biopic.)

9. Name a movie that you own.

Just one? The randomizer selects Sullivan's Travels.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Dwight Yoakam. And he's not bad at that music thing either.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

The last I remember seeing was the Charlie Sheen movie The Chase at the Melody 49 Drive-In. If memory serves, it was close enough to home--three miles?--that I could pick up the movie audio on a radio. (A search shows that it's still open.) I didn't see a lot of drive-in movies, but I know the Michael J. Fox vehicle The Secret of My Success was another.

12. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't yet gotten around to it.

One of these days I really ought to see Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game.

13. Ever walked out of a movie?

Ordinarily, no. Two recent examples... I walked out of Eagle vs. Shark at the Cleveland festival because I was tired and irritated with the guy whooping it up behind me. I walked out of Celine and Julie Go Boating because I probably slept through half of the first 45 minutes, had no idea what was going on, and didn't feel like sticking around for more than three hours to see if I got it. Of the more official variety, Encino Man way back when. Some friends wanted to bolt.

14. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

The live-action Charlotte's Web was the most recent example.

15. Popcorn?

Absolutely not.

16. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

It's probably safe to say four times a week is average.

17. What's the last movie you saw in the theater?

Lucky You

18. What's your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

I don't know that I have one. It depends on the mood I'm in.

19. What's the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

I don't trust my memory on this, especially since I doubt I saw this in its original year of release, but I'm going to go with Gus, the placekicking mule movie.

20. What movie do you wish you had never seen?


21. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

The Happiness of the Katakuris

There may be weirder movies, but this immediately jumps to mind. This summary says all you really need to know. I thought it was hilarious.

22. What is the scariest movie you've seen?

Se7en freaked me out quite a bit. The Descent was pretty intense too. In the "not graphic but disturbing" category, I'd have to go with Rosemary's Baby.

23. What is the funniest movie you've seen?

This is Spinal Tap is up there.

While I'm at it, a personal not quite top ten, in alphabetical order and subject to change on a whim...

-The 400 Blows
-After Life
-Annie Hall
-Before Sunrise and Before Sunset
-Rear Window
-Stranger Than Paradise
-This is Spinal Tap
-Three Colors trilogy (Red is the best, but it's hard to separate it from Blue and White)
-The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Coming to a store near you

If a picture says a thousand words, maybe this hastily taken and poorly framed one will suffice for today's entry.

Cotton-Ease is back, at least in Champaign, Illinois.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

April knitting progress report

Just like that April is over. Where does the time go?

Two more goals can be crossed off my new year's knitting resolutions. I knitted a baby blanket and learned how to use double pointed needles. I also racked up my most FOs yet in a month (8), although most of these are small projects:

3 coffee cup cozies
2 baby bibs
1 baby blanket
1 baby hat
1 cat mat

Adding this to six FOs in January, six in February, and seven in March puts me up to 27 for 2007. I have a feeling that May will see a decline in my knitting output. I have a lot to do to be ready to move in 25 days. I'm excited that I'm almost out of my stressful living space and mildly panicked that I'm not going to be adequately prepared when moving day gets here.

Having used a planner for a month now, I can see that it is an indispensable item in helping me accomplish everything (or come close to doing so). It also puts me at ease because I don't have to carry around all of that stuff in my head. Plus, I can find the information I need more easily. I suppose I'm due to forget something important that I haven't put in there, but so far it hasn't failed me.