Thursday, January 31, 2008

In defense of TV

As someone who works in television and consumes his fair share of popular culture, I get a little perturbed by the scolding and self-congratulatory tone of those behind TV Turnoff Week and similar campaigns against the big, bad box. We can agree that obesity and childhood literacy are problems worth fighting. We can agree that there is a lot of garbage on TV. But is the solution to bad viewing habits to disregard an entire medium?

After all, I assume that these people wouldn't advocate a Closed Book Week. There's plenty of trash available on bound printed pages, and reading is just as sedentary of an activity as watching TV. Stop sitting on your tailbone and go for a walk, bookworm! Yet reading is perceived as being more noble. I love books and the written word, but those who want to encourage more reading don't help by elevating it to the level of lofty pursuit.

Those working to get people to make the TV turnoff choice refer to it as a fast. If the problem is poor eating habits, the solution isn't to stop eating, is it? No, it's a matter of eating less and eating better. To me, assessing what is being watched and how much is being consumed is a more sensible way to attack the issue rather than preaching the virtues of going cold turkey. Even then, junk food of the edible or televised variety is OK in moderation.

There's no pressing reason why I'm writing about this today. It's just one of those things that can get under my skin, and it came to the fore when coming home from work the last several days. I've been tired and not up for much more than watching TV. I'm sure that plenty of people feel the same way. If it's how one relaxes after a long day of work, what's the harm in it?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. University of Dayton Flyers basketball was one of my big obsessions growing up, due in no small part to the fact that our family had season tickets. UD has a rich basketball history, and Dayton is a college basketball town. The Flyer faithful regularly pack the UD Arena so that the school ranks among the top in the nation for home game attendance.

I loved going to the games with my dad. We listened to the pre-game and post-game reports on the AM radio station. Depending on how long it took to get out of the parking lot, we might hear some music--yes, on AM--before getting home. For some reason it seemed liked Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride" and Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" always popped up then. (Dayton assembled winning teams most of those years, so the latter wasn't being played as a musical response to a loss.)

Sports have always been something my dad and I can talk about. There were many nights spent playing ping pong in the garage while 700 WLW's Sports Talk, hosted by Bob Trumpy (and Cris Collinsworth later on), was on in the background. Of course I am a Reds and Bengals fan like him, but UD games were special because we went to the home games regularly and occasionally made the trip to Oxford when they played at Miami University.

I have no doubt that all of the great games and visiting teams and players I saw spoiled me as far as what I consider the proper basketball environment. UD was one of the few remaining independents when I first started attending games, so they played an impressive schedule to prove their post-season worth. (I'm fairly certain I saw Len Bias play for Maryland, if that means anything to you.)

The music was important too. "Gonna Fly Now", "25 or 6 to 4", and "Fame" were among the songs the pep band blasted their way through. Until a desperate search tonight to name the tune, I never knew the title of "Hot Lunch Jam", one of my favorites the band played then and still performs. Apparently I never heard the Fame soundtrack.

I kept score, at first in game programs and later in a notebook I brought with me. I don't remember if I bought a Marchele soft pretzel every time, but I loved them and probably got one more often than not.

UD Arena was a place where I felt at home, a spot that had a kind of magic about it. For a school assignment--fifth or sixth grade, perhaps--I wrote a short story about being locked in the arena overnight. The details of it are gone, but it was like having a gigantic playground to myself. Of course, I got to go on the floor, that hallowed area of Tartan, at one time, and then hardwood.

I made it onto the floor a couple times. I went to basketball camp, which was held at the fieldhouse, but I'm fairly certain we went to the arena once. In high school I interviewed the team's play-by-play announcer and one of the local newspaper columnists, which got me down there. My neighbor ran the scoreboard or the clock, but I don't recall that earning me a courtside view at any point. Oh yeah, I graduated from high school at UD Arena and was seated on the court.

If that isn't enough, my parents knew I needed glasses when I had trouble reading portions of the scoreboard.

I've tried to get to one game a year since I've been away, although that doesn't always happen. I went tonight, and I'm happy to say the place felt as comfortable as ever. The game was sold out, the Flyers stomped the St. Louis Billikens, and I got to eat one of those terrific pretzels. During the hour-plus drive home I called my dad and talked to him about the game. Since my parents no longer live near where I grew up, he had to listen to the radio broadcast over the internet. Both of us weren't able to be at the game physically, but whether he knew it or not, he was there too.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It's worth reminding myself that I shouldn't blog when I'm tired. I knew I was being crabby, and I didn't care. So, lesson learned...again.

If there's any benefit to the mini-purge, it is that I am finally facing what I have probably known for awhile: blogging exclusively, or primarily, about knitting is something I've exhausted. While I still have a lot to learn about knitting, I'm no longer the newbie documenting every misstep and minor success. It makes sense that I would have difficulty writing about knitting when there's nothing novel or troublesome about the projects on my needles. Contorting myself in search of knitting topics every day is not feasible.

So, here's the deal... I will try to write about knitting as much as possible, but I am releasing myself from feeling like I'm violating your trust when I don't blog about knitting every day. This should mean the end of non-entries like yesterday and an unseemly percentage of this month's output. Hopefully you're OK with this, although I've run across enough opinions about the subject on Ravelry to realize that some may be miffed that a knitblog will be adopting a more general theme. I believe you'd rather read something with a little substance than negligible knitting content for the sake of fitting the thematic construction. If I'm wrong, sorry.

That said, I don't foresee this being a major overhaul. This blog always has been who I am, for better and worse. That won't change, although I'll try to keep the "worse" to a minimum. Sticking to knitting was an artificial constraint and one I didn't observe all the time anyway. I guess this is my way of coming to terms that this place will be the same as it ever was, except now I'm dropping the illusion that it is only a knitting site.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for putting up with this internal conversation and meta blogging. The good news is I already know what I want to write about tomorrow.


Monday, January 28, 2008


Yesterday I forgot to post the picture of the yarn I'm using to knit my mom's hat. The color is deeper than that--deep purple, if I may say so.

I regret to say that that's all I've got. There's not anything to write about knitting-wise. Right now it's work at the office and work at home, so that's not much fodder for blogging either. I am capital b Boring these days. It's likely that is usually the case, but apparently I found some way around that in blogging days of yore.

You don't believe me? Fine. The big event of the day was brewing twelve ounces of tea and forgetting the cup on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow? I'm getting the serpentine belt in my car replaced. Scintillating stuff.

So there you have it, another blog post in a month full of entries as substantial as Styrofoam peanuts.

Post-publishing addition: It occurs to me that perhaps I should ask if it bothers you if I stray from knitting content on a regular basis. I know it's my site, but I also feel a certain obligation to keep this what it was intended to be. Also, it seems awfully indulgent to do that kind of writing about myself.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Knitting again

The slump is over...or so I hope.

Early this evening I cast on for the hat my mom wants me to make her. She bought the yarn--Cascade 220 in a purple colorway (8886)--and it's been up to me to knit it. Due to work and an increase in movie review writing, my knitting activity has been in a holding pattern for much of this month. It has been my experience that knitting loosens me up to be a more productive writer. The reverse has not been true, at least recently. Both are meditative activities, except the writing has been draining my energy and leaving me too wiped out to knit.

Although I had my share of problems, I'll take today's knitting resumption as a sign that things are back to normal. It's been awhile since I've cast on for a hat, so I forgot that I needed to add an extra stitch for joining in the round. I didn't realize the error until I was almost done with the first round. This was the second attempt at starting the hat after not allowing enough yarn for the tail during the first cast on.

The third time was the charm, sort of. I had enough stitches on the needles, but as I went to join in the round, I discovered that I had tangled the yarn around and through one of the magic loops splitting the stitches. Don't ask me how I made such a mess. I'm still perplexed. It took several minutes to sort out what was going on. Everything seemed fine until I got to the second half of the stitches. They started becoming harder to work because the cable was twisting quite a bit. Again, I'm not certain what happened, but I think I may have put one of the needles through one of the magic loops. I thought I would have some twisted stitches, but once I got the needles in the right places, everything was good.

It felt good to be knitting again. I was reminded that I really want to begin a scarf for myself. That's putting the cart before the horse, though. I need to finish this hat and get through February 11, which is when I can officially put awards season to bed. (That night we tape two shows , one related to the Oscars and another summarizing the best and worst of last year.) So hang in there with me. I'm frustrated that I haven't been able to knit and write as much about it as I would like, but I may have turned a corner today.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Knitting gossip

I couldn't care less about tabloid celebrity gossip and try to avoid reading it as much as possible. That said, it's near the end of the day, and I need something to write about so...

Who is trying to keep her knitting secret? The source says that the celebrity in question "is trying to keep her new obsession a secret as she thinks it’s seriously uncool".

As atonement for rooting around in the trash, I point you to Wikipedia's knitting entry for something of greater sustenance.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The man comes around

By no means am I old, nor do I feel that way, yet this was one of those days where I felt like an adult. It's not like what I was doing was especially grown up. If anything, going to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut and Rambo when most people were at work is more of an adolescent's pursuit even if it is part of my job.

What's strange about me saying this is that I was one of those kids whom adults regularly proclaimed mature for my age. (I would agree.) I think I was able to take the long view from a relatively early age and was more earnest/serious/introverted than the majority of my peers. That might be a surprise considering that I was consistently among the youngest in my classes in school.

I started working early too. I can't say for sure, but I may have been mowing the church's yard and lots my dad owned when I was in late elementary school. I helped out at the family business, the grain elevator, for a couple hours each day after junior high classes. While my dad was busy doing stuff I couldn't do, I was often the only one there to wait on customers, work the cash register, and carry feed bags to customers' cars.

So why, out of the blue, did I feel like an adult today? Beats me. Maybe it was doing "real" grocery shopping. I confess that I often will go unprepared and get just a couple things, which forces multiple, unproductive trips. Today I scribbled a list on the back of an envelope, got a cart rather than a basket, and bought enough food to keep me stocked for awhile. I might have spent an hour seasoning the beef, chicken, and pork that I put in the freezer. By my count I have fifteen meals ready to be put in the pan or oven at a moment's notice. I almost never do this, but I know I've put a little weight back on due to receding into convenience's bad eating habits.

Before shopping I dropped off some recyclables in the grocery store's bins. I only had a short distance to go and didn't put my seatbelt on. It was the strangest feeling. I've been conscientious about wearing it since what seems like forever. Perhaps this blast from the past jarred loose an old sense memory.

Or maybe it's that I'm here at home writing this blog entry rather than at a concert I was considering attending. The 9:00 p.m. start time and three opening acts unfamiliar to me screamed too much effort for something I wasn't that invested in attending. (I have become more of a homebody. Having a place again where I'm comfortable may be as responsible as anything.) That I would think about going to see Times New Viking makes me "younger" than a lot of people my age but still... (A warning to those going to the band's page: if you're not attuned to lo-fi indie rock, you may feel like the song that automatically starts is an assault on your ears. It sounds loud even with the volume low.)

What a weird coincidence that I finished reading Nick Hornby's Slam on this day. The author is known for writing about men-children, although his latest reverses directions, focusing on a boy forced to grow up before he's ready. The book was a nice change of pace from the heavier reading I'd been doing. It's also a nice response--even though it isn't intended as one--to the film Juno. I liked the Oscar-nominated comedy about teen pregnancy, but it struck me as awfully cutesy too. (The critical and popular love parade for it strengthens my opinion that the film is terribly overrated.) Slam treats the situation in a more realistic manner despite the fact that the main character solicits advice from his Tony Hawk poster.

Anyway, that's what was on my mind today. Time to pick up the needles after a layoff.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008


I hope to resume knitting tomorrow, thus providing content for this here blog. Until then, how about some links?

A couple weeks ago I recorded a podcast about the local film critics group's annual awards. It turned into a fairly lengthy session, so it was broken into three files. Links to all can be found here. I believe you can download these via iTunes as well. I haven't listened to it, but if I sound tired, I was. Ever wonder what I sound like? The answer is a couple clicks away.

A blog post about cake art yielded a link in the comments to these knit night cupcakes. It's amazing what some people can do. While I have enough trouble making a frosted cake look respectable, this woman knows how to "knit" marzipan.

I guess that's all for tonight. If it's cold where you are as it is here, stay warm!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Different for guys

I've had Son of Stitch 'n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit & Crochet for Men for awhile, but with as busy as I've been, it sat there being ignored with several other books I've been meaning to get to. Now it's time to weigh in on it.

The introductory section about knitting for men isn't intended for me, but the information about obtaining measurements for a sweater was helpful, even if after looking through this book I expect I'm a lot farther away from making one. Seriously. I look at the instructions, and my brain turns to mush.

I was glad to find instructions for how to wash handknits. I've been doing my own laundry for years, so I know my way around a washer and dryer. (Granted, I've shrunk some items because I didn't pay careful attention, and I prematurely destroyed a sweater I liked from drying it in a machine.) I have not been sure how to proceed with anything that yarn labels say must be washed by hand. Now I know.

As for the patterns, there is more in it that I liked or could see myself wearing than upon initial review. The first time flipping through it I must have been distracted by stuff I wouldn't waste my time on. I have no use for kitsch projects, such as pillows shaped like alcohol bottles and the dead teddy bear with a stinging bee stuck in its stomach (complete with a pool of blood). I have my doubts about how many men would wear knit ties despite them being adorned with robots or skulls and bones. The same goes for the sweater vest with an anchor motif. And a scarf with a stripper and pole done in shadow knitting? Really?

One of the book's best pieces of advice to women knitting for their men is to keep it simple, and a fair number of the projects stick to that maxim. I could see myself wearing the Speed Racer and High Fidelity sweaters and might attempt to make them if I can muster up the courage eventually. Mr. Stripey and the Ernie Sweater would probably be fine if done in colors different than the garish ones pictured in the book.

I haven't made anything from the book, but one potential complaint I might offer is how many projects seem to require sewing skills. I'm intimidated enough to attempt a sweater. Sewing in a zipper for the Cobra sweater? You must be kidding.

Especially considering the dearth of books with knitting projects for men, Son of Stitch 'n Bitch has enough worthwhile patterns for me to recommend it. OK, so it makes me think I'm not capable of making a sweater, but that's my problem.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


You know it will be or has been a long day when... know you did some serious dreaming the night before but can't recall any of it once the clock radio comes on. swore you saw that Norbit received an Academy Award nomination.

...less than an inch of snow apparently causes drivers who ought to know better to lose all sense and back up traffic during the morning commute. take out your apartment keys to get into the office and work keys to get into your home.'s 4:00 p.m. and you would swear that the previous seven hours took two minutes.

...the sun set a couple hours before you leave the office for the day. feel like you might like to knit except that you fall asleep around 9:00 p.m. and thus throw off an already askew sleeping pattern.

...your eyes glaze over while thumbing through the new Knit Picks catalog because it's too much to process. wasn't a hallucination: Norbit received an Academy Award nomination.

...this counts as the day's blog post.


Monday, January 21, 2008

At a standstill

All right, it is really starting to bug me that I'm not knitting. I've gone a week again without doing any. I've certainly done my share of procrastinating from what I ought to have been doing this weekend--writing movie reviews--but I just haven't had the burning desire to pick up the needles.

I'm not sure what the problem is. Sure, I have a bunch of other work that still needs to get done. (And I thought the year-end film stuff was finished now that the awards are over... Ha!) Putting those concerns out of my mind didn't seem to be a problem in the past when it came to finding time to knit.

Do I blame the writer's strike? I'm recording less television. Since I almost always have the TV on when I knit, the lack of new programming means I'm missing my background noise. (Yeah, that's just the thing to get the writers to cut a deal. I called their work background noise.)

I don't know what's going on. I feel distracted. I expect it will pass, but I'm irritated nonetheless.


Sunday, January 20, 2008


The single digit temperature must have brought out some hibernation gene in me because all I wanted to do today was sleep. The more I slept, the more tired I became, although I'm beginning to feel an energy surge that may keep me up into the wee hours.

It happened yesterday too, which ended up fueling a late night blogging binge in response to How to Read the Bible. The post is at my other site--a gateway to it can be found here--if you're curious. Depending when you go there, it may no longer be the top entry. (If not, scroll down or search for the book's title.) If the post is disjointed, well, that's what happens when I'm up writing until nearly 4 a.m.

So time is running out for my daily entry, and here I am looking for something to write about. I did what I normally do if I'm short on ideas: go to Ravelry. Doing so rarely helps me come up with a topic, but I found something tonight.

I haven't done any knit-alongs, so I thought maybe I could find one that would fit my skills and interests. That's when I came upon Knit 4 Lent: 4000 Hats in 40 Days (Ravelry membership required to view link). The idea is to knit a hat during Lent that the Seamen's Church Institute will give to mariners away from home at Christmas.

If ever there was a KAL made for me, this is the one. I've made six seaman's caps and have another waiting to go on the needles. I might as well put my talent to use where it is needed. A little charity knitting should be good for me too.

For non-Ravelry members interested in participating, the project's official blog should be up and running soon.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Loose ends

As promised, here's a picture of my mom's first FO. I fixed her mistakes while I was home. After that she was on her own. From what I can tell, it looks like she did a pretty good job, so I must have pointed her somewhat in the right direction. FYI, she used a variegated Red Heart yarn.

I've taken a step toward knitting again. I went through the tedious process of winding the hank of yarn she selected for a hat she asked me to make. I hadn't been feeling like knitting it, but now that this part is out of the way, I think I'm ready to get started. I need to check the cable, though. It seemed like one end was coming out of the join. Since I glued several of these at Christmastime, I'm going to assume it is the other end that is popping out.

I keep forgetting that I bought five skeins of yarn to make myself a blanket, so that's a mindless project I can begin anytime. I'm not feeling up to any knitting challenges at the moment. Although work is going well, it's taking a lot out of me. I also have a lot of writing to do that requires a good deal of thought. So I'm looking for knitting to be nice and simple.

Maybe I'll get some brain energy back now that I've finished a book that required a lot of it. I want to write an extended post on my other site about How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel because it provoked a lot of thoughts. It's fair to say that it has had a significant impact on me, both in confirming and challenging my beliefs about interpreting Scripture.

To follow up on my outrageous overachieving in filing taxes so early, it's something I'm able to do because mine are very simple. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that it takes longer to find my previous years' returns than to do them for the new year. (That would definitely be true if I did them by hand. E-filing takes me through more steps than I really need.)

I did them the same day my W-2s arrived in the mail, although I'm finding that the city taxes are going to take longer to complete. I need to file in two cities. Columbus has an incredibly convoluted form that I'm not sure how to fill out, not to mention that it's likely I'll probably owe them a couple hundred dollars because of the difference in city tax rates where I live and where I work. No rush there.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Mix it up

Although I've been busy lately, I believe I am in a knitting rut. It will pass, I'm sure, but if you have any suggestions for what might pull me out of it, I'm open to them. Projects that utilize leftover yarn could be especially useful.

In the meantime I compiled a mix CD for a friend and thought I'd share the playlist. (I'm amazed that I unearthed links for each song.) My favorite songs from 2007 is the organizing principle, but I tried to shy away from singles, although not in all cases. Track selection was also based on length, how the songs flowed together, and my friend's tastes. (For instance, I figured he probably wouldn't care for anything off the latest Bloc Party album.)

I did many airshifts at the radio station when I was in college and served as music director and program director among my responsibilities. Upon graduation my intention was to find an on-air job with an eye toward programming. That career was not to be--a bullet I didn't realize I had dodged at the time--but I still enjoy sequencing songs and finding interesting juxtapositions.

This isn't quite as handy as a CD, but hopefully you'll enjoy some of the music below. (Note: I haven't vetted all the links. NSFW content should be minimal, but I probably wouldn't go cranking the Kanye West track in the office, especially if you're sensitive to a racial slur commonly used in hip hop.)

1. Modest Mouse "Dashboard" We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
2. The Apples in Stereo "7 Stars" New Magnetic Wonder
3. Fountains of Wayne "Strapped for Cash" Traffic and Weather

(Go to the band's site for a higher fidelity version. Currently this song is the first one to pop up in the player.)

4. Hugh Grant "PoP! Goes My Heart" Music and Lyrics soundtrack
5. The Go! Team "Grip Like a Vice" Proof of Youth
6. Spoon "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
7. Kelly Willis "The More That I'm Around You" Translated from Love

(The free download of the album version shows off the girl group influence that isn't heard in the acoustic performance linked above.)

8. Rilo Kiley "Silver Lining" Under the Blacklight
9. The National "Apartment Story" Boxer
10. The White Stripes "Conquest" Icky Thump
11. Feist "Sea Lion Woman" The Reminder
12. The Arcade Fire "The Well and the Lighthouse" Neon Bible
13. St. Vincent "Apocalypse Song" Marry Me
14. Kanye West featuring Dwele "Flashing Lights" Graduation
15. Air "Left Bank" Pocket Symphony
16. Radiohead "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" In Rainbows
17. Lily Allen "Friday Night" Alright, Still
18. The New Pornographers "My Rights Versus Yours" Challengers
19. Wilco "Side with the Seeds" Sky Blue Sky

(Worth a listen for Nels Cline's solo starting at the 3:35 mark)

20. I'm From Barcelona "We're from Barcelona" Let Me Introduce My Friends
21. Jens Lekman "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo" Night Falls Over Kortedala


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Let me tell you how it will be. I won't be making any friends with today's entry, and I'm not referring to the recent unfortunate turns of one knitting entry for you and nineteen space fillers for me.

Nevertheless, when I have one of those days in which I don't have time to stop and think, I'm a desperate man come blogging time. So, today in miniature:

-Morning and afternoon: Work, work, work.

-Early evening: Hunt down last year's tax returns. Go to 27 Dresses screening.

-Late evening: Start writing 27 Dresses review. Stop writing to complete federal and state tax returns.

Yes, I've already filed my federal return and am ready to do so with the state return. Why not? The W-2 forms arrived in the mail today, and my taxes are pretty simple to calculate. Get 'em done and get the direct deposit refunds on their way.

The state's I-File program is acting buggy when I click the question marks for assistance, which is the main reason it isn't filed. Since I moved last year and live in an area where I pay city taxes to Columbus and call a suburban school district home (I think), I need to confirm what's what so I have everything correct.

I also need to untangle how many city tax forms I must file due to partial year residency in two cities. I think I'm probably going to get dinged on local income taxes since I moved to a city with a higher rate than where I lived and work. If that's the worst headache I get from tax season, I can't complain.

Yeah, I know. The filing deadline isn't until April 15. You hate me. I understand.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The daily grind

"Do something you love" is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to the college students who come to me trying to figure out their lives. It isn't an original or earth-shattering recommendation, but I believe that it is extremely important to find a job that makes one excited to go to work more often than not. With as much time as we spend working ever week, shouldn't those hours be used doing something that satisfies us beyond the paycheck?

Since I'm in the broadcasting/video production field, it's a practical consideration too. The hard truth is that many of these students will begin their careers, if they choose to stay in the industry, working bad hours and earning lousy pay. Enjoying the job will go a long way toward getting them through those early years in particular.

I'm not factoring money out of the equation. Obviously each person needs to decide what kind of trade-off is acceptable when it comes to work and wages. If you've found something that you love and that compensates you well, then you're a blessed person in my opinion.

As exhausted as I've been from work this week and last, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a job that I love. The last couple years have presented their share of office challenges, especially the past twelve months. While I wasn't looking to move on--a thought that is pretty high on the list of Things That Freak Me Out--I can't say that I was enjoying what I was doing as much as I once did. Issues outside our control at the workplace were having a very real effect that had all of us feeling frustrated and defeated.

The situation still isn't what it should be, but today I realized that I am beginning to feel recharged, motivated, and excited again. It makes all the difference in the world. Sure, I'm dead tired tonight and more than ready to relax this weekend, but this is a good kind of tired. I feel as though I'm doing something that matters to me and to others, that my working hours aren't futile and wasted. Although I didn't go anywhere, it's nice to be doing something I love again. Nice? Change that to essential.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More snippets

Some quick hits on various matters...

-It took nearly a month to get to South Africa, but the hat I made for Ruth's baby girl finally arrived. Check out her daughter sporting said head wear here.

-Per a question in the comments to yesterday's post, I'm using the long tail cast on to get the edge on the seaman's caps I've knitted. Perhaps it looks different than what others get because the cast on row is on the wrong side before the cuff is folded up. I don't think I'm doing anything unusual, so that's the best explanation I have.

-I couldn't be happier that my favorite college basketball team, the Dayton Flyers, is doing ridiculously well this season. They are 14-1, ranked 14th in the AP Top 25 poll, and winners of thirteen straight. I grew up a die-hard fan of the team. To see them having about as much success as they've ever had is a lot of fun.

I decided that I better get to a game this season before the remaining ones sell out--a fairly typical occurrence at UD--and was pleased to find that I could nab a seat for the January 30 game at the low, low price of $4. Plus an additional $5.60 in Ticketmaster convenience charges and service fees. It's still a good price, but like the Spoon concert I attended, there's something wrong when the fees cost more than the face value of the ticket.

-Yes, I'm aware that the more commonly accepted spelling of the word is "fliers", but I imagine the team's nickname comes from the hometown Wright brothers and their powered aircrafts.

-Thing I learned by accident: the gas cap really is important. I accidentally forgot to put mine back in the tank after getting gas and lost it. Then I forgot I lost the cap. My mileage was awful. New cap, everything returns to normal.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

The blues are still blue

Seaman's Cap

Yarn: Malabrigo Kettle Dyed Variegated (100% merino wool; worsted weight)
Colorway: Oceanos
Needles: US 6 and 7 circulars
Stitches: 102

My first FO of 2008 is a real beauty, if I do say so myself. The cast on row looks flawless. I was worried how the variegated yarn might pool, particularly the light, almost white sections, but the interplay of the various shades of blue gives a nice overall impression. I'm impressed and that doesn't happen easily.

This hat features some of my best knitting. There aren't suggestions of ladders anywhere in it, something that I have noticed slightly in the last couple I made. The decreases were superbly done and are not all that visible at a glance. The Malabrigo works really well and gives the hat a wonderful density that lets you know it will be warm before putting it on.

I used the same needle sizes as the last time I made this hat with Malabrigo. The hat is probably a more comfortable fit for a woman, the intended recipient in this instance, so I would suggest going up needle sizes if using this yarn and pattern for a man's hat.

Although I thought this was the last one of these seaman's caps that I'd be knitting for awhile, I have at least one more to go. My mom requested one and purchased Cascade 220 in a lovely purple for me to make it in. Now to wind the hank into a ball...

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Here's my current WIP in Malabrigo colorway Oceanos. I was having second thoughts about this variegated yarn before knitting with it, but I think the blues are pooling in interesting ways and should make for an attractive hat.

Looking for a heartwarming story of a knitter revealing her new hobby to her family at Christmas? You can't do much better than this.

My mom is getting close to being done with her first scarf. She has promised me a picture, so we'll see how well I pointed her in the right direction. (Honestly, I don't feel I did enough to claim a teaching credit.)

Since I don't have anything else to say, I'll interject that I feel like my equilibrium is back. I'm ready to go to work tomorrow, even if that includes a trip to the school board meeting. It's amazing what some rest can do for one's physical strength and attitude.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

A return to form

I am knitting again, but you'll have to be satisfied with this photo from my spot in the North Market. Blogger is on the fritz and wouldn't let me upload the WIP picture.

With this week's lack of sleep and the unseasonably warm temperatures, I felt out of whack, but everything seemed to be reset today. I felt rested, and winter-like weather returned. It just doesn't seem like it's January when a light jacket will suffice, if it was even needed on a couple days. So I welcome back the cold air and the sensation of not being run into the ground.

I was a little sludgy hanging around the apartment, so it did me some good to go downtown for the Blue Jackets game. I left earlier than necessary, but I wanted to grab my preferred, quick exit parking spot and go to the North Market to knit. Both tasks were accomplished.

I knitted for about an hour and enjoyed having that time to take it easy. Since I finished my last FO on December 27, I've hardly knit at all because of a jam-packed schedule. It's the longest dry patch I've had in months. I can tell that knitting is something I ought to do every day, even if only for a row or two, so I can slow myself down a tad.

Whenever I don't knit for awhile, picking up the needles again feels slightly awkward, as if I've forgotten what I have to do. I still remember, obviously, but the muscle memory needs a brief reminder.

I had been getting tired of knitting the same pattern repeatedly, but the layoff has been long enough that I didn't mind. Knitting stockinette in the round satisfied me for the moment.

The temperature inside the hockey arena felt colder than it was outside, so I pulled on my seaman's cap in an effort to warm up. What a remarkable difference it made! It is a wool hat, so I shouldn't have been surprised how well it held in the heat and made me more comfortable. Keep in mind, though, that I'm just beginning to understand yarn and fibers.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


Here's what I have to show for my last seven days of effort and an unhealthy lack of sleep: five movie reviews; the press release for and results of the local critics group awards, even if this site still got the name wrong (the problem of living in flyover territory); a podcast discussing said results (to be posted online soon); a week's worth of worthless blog posts here; and all the small but important stuff that has to be done at the office for the first week of classes. Oh, one row of knitting too...

Earlier tonight I picked up the needles for the first time in a week. I settled in to watch the hockey game on TV and knit an oft-delayed Christmas gift, but my body had other plans. I finished a row and then felt the deep, unavoidable need to close my eyes. Taking a nap at 7:30 p.m. is not the best way to ensure getting to bed at a decent time, but God knows I feel significantly better having done it. Knitting excepted, it's been a productive week, but it has come at the cost of the proper amount of rest.

It is a relief to be on this side of things, especially since there was a lot weighing on me. At work we were at a make-or-break point with how students put together newscasts. It's early but it looks like the messages finally got through and that the show might be on the right track. I've been dissatisfied with the efforts in that area for years, so it is nice to feel optimistic about it.

In personal matters, I got through my dental check-up unscathed. For a couple months I've been having occasional pain in part of my upper gum and teeth sensitivity. It has also radiated into headaches. Since I've had a root canal before, I assumed that this signaled the onset of the need for another. I was dreading the cost more than the actual procedure. It may sound foolish to have waited--certainly I worried more--but I was holding out until insurance refreshed for the new year. My dentist and the hygienist didn't see anything wrong and suggested that it could be sinuses or stress. Both seem like reasonable causes. I left the dentist's office mostly unburdened of this issue. Unrelated to this, there is some concern regarding my dad's health, although it sounds like he's fine but is in need of a procedure.

This week has had its challenges, but I feel like I've been able to fight my way through them without getting beat up. It's been interesting to learn that this site really suffers if I'm not writing about knitting in some way. That doesn't mean I won't have ruts or posts like this again, especially if the aim is to write every day but... I guess I don't know what the conclusion is. Knitting content tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. I promise.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

This title is a preemptive apology

It's been one crazy week. Despite only sixteen hours of sleep and being pulled every which way, I made it to this point and am still standing somehow. (Not literally, of course. I blog from a seated position.) Bring on the slumber.

I haven't knitted for seven days. Thus my blogging has been reduced to a bunch of filler that I fear has been dreadfully boring to read. I thought I had enough residual energy to knock out an entry tonight, but the act of typing these words is accomplishing what I've struggled to do all week: feel tired and sleepy concurrently.

So, I'm packing it in for the evening, regretting such a miserable attempt at tapping out a few lines of text, and not really caring because I could use a good night's rest. Back to normal on Friday, hopefully.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hipster alert

U.S. News & World Reports encourages readers to "Knit a Sweater, Hipster Style" among its 50 ways to improve your life in 2008. Poor, poor weekly print publication, don't you realize that "hipster" is used as an epithet online? That's old media for ya.

Plus, outside the knitting community, is it really something that's viewed as being hip? Are throngs of twentysomethings with asymmetrical haircuts squeezing into their skinny jeans so they can spread the knitting gospel around Williamsburg?

The two-paragraph article begins, "Somewhere on the way to kitsch, knitting suddenly became cool." It then proceeds to describe projects that make it sound like knitters are trying too hard to turn the needlecraft into something edgy. I suppose that suffices when a writer need an angle for a hobby that might seem lame to outsiders. If it was going to be positioned as one of the new "in" things, I would have preferred for knitting's therapeutic value to be highlighted.

Maybe knitting is a trend that will fade in popularity, but as someone who has been knitting for a little more than a year, I don't see it as a temporary thing. Those who pick it up because it is fashionable for a period may not stick with it, but the passion I see on Ravelry indicates to me that knitting is more than a passing fad for many. I keep hearing how market customization is where everything is headed. What is knitting if not an ultimate way of customizing? And there's no need for a middle man.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Capital A

If you can bear one more day of non-knitting chatter, I'll try to return to it tomorrow. I haven't picked up the needles since Friday, but I think I'm now through the worst of this week's brutal schedule.

Until then, I'd like to talk about art. Scratch that. I want to discuss Art. With its connotations of refinement, elitism, and the esoteric, it is considered, in many instances, a dirty word, especially when placed in opposition to entertainment. (No would dream of capitalizing that word, of course.)

Art is work rather than fun, cold rather than warm, of the head rather than of the heart...or so the thinking goes; however, I don't believe these things must be mutually exclusive. Sometimes art's pleasures are more cerebral than sensual, but the greatest melds the two qualities into something with unique power.

That's right, I saw a film tonight that penetrated the fiber of my being and invigorated my weary body and spirit. A great film can do that. Art can do that.

I had the chance to take another look at There Will Be Blood. I saw it about three and a half weeks ago amid the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas rush. While I enjoyed it quite a bit then, I wasn't able to devote my full attention to it. Since I got less than four hours of sleep last night, I wasn't sure that I could manage to stay awake in the theater this evening.

I did not have a problem remaining alert. I was transfixed while I felt the film working its magic. If it sounds like a spiritual experience, it was in the way that great art can lift us up and out of ourselves. Feeling this transcendence does not happen often when going to the movies (or reading, listening to music, etc.), but when it does, it is indescribable. I perceive more vitality in me, as though every cell in my body is buzzing.

Needless to say, this ended my internal debate of what film to name as the best of 2007. (Yeah, it can be more of a gut feeling than anything.) The challenge now is writing a review to do it justice. I do offer a caveat that the film is an acquired taste. I don't mean to draw battle lines between art and entertainment because I think both can be found wherever one looks. (For Pete's sake, Music and Lyrics will be in my top ten.) Still, I concede that There Will Be Blood may be slower and darker than some will find comfortable. It's not a film you want to hug.

I can think of other art that has provoked such strong responses in me, but I'm curious what you think. Does this sound foreign to you, or can you relate? If so, what grabbed you?

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Grasping at straws

It is a venial sin to post an entry in which the blogger apologizes for failing to write more often or for writing out of obligation--a Blog365 commitment, say--than having anything of substance to offer. With this site you know that I'm more likely to be guilty of the latter than the former. I suppose this is my confession.

I could have written in praise of naps. I succumbed to one a couple hours ago and feel much better after taking it, even if it means I'll be up late finishing what I'm working on. But who wants to read about that? Come on.

I could have written about Atonement, but that's what I'm supposed to be doing at the moment. A second viewing has been enormous help in firming up my thoughts on it. (I liked it before but have greater admiration for it now, if you must know.)

I could have written about my softening stance on Ohio State football and how, unlike a year ago, I'm not deriving pleasure from seeing them get pummeled in the national championship as I write this. Yeah, the local fanaticism and media coverage can still make my skin crawl, but I think a lot of my lost taste for the Buckeyes stemmed from enduring the other people in my building whooping it up from kick-off to post-game. Now that their cheers and stomps aren't coming through the floorboards and walls, I don't have to dread these games. Weaning myself from insipid sports talk radio hasn't hurt either. Maybe by this fall I can pronounce myself a fan again.

Hmm, I guess I did write about that.

I swear, I'll knit again when life is less crazy. I don't think there are many straws left to grasp at for my daily blogging.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Isolation drills

I can take satisfaction in all of the work I was able to finish this weekend, although it came at the expense of living like a hermit. I went to the grocery on Friday, a bad movie on Saturday morning, and opened the door to get my newspaper on Sunday. I've become more of a homebody since moving here, but this isn't typical.

Actually, it's been really strange, especially today. Time distorts. Rhythms are erased and restructured. (My sleeping pattern is going to be totally shot.) Eating habits become deplorable. While news headlines automatically scroll down in the computer's sidebar, it seems like I've been cut off from the world. The TV has been on occasionally as background noise, like a reminder that there's something outside my apartment's walls.

The upside of this isolation is that I cranked out four movie reviews, administrated everything for the critics group awards' final ballot, and squeezed in screeners of No End in Sight and The Savages so I'd be an informed voter on those films. It's been productive time that lessens the daunting workload that awaits this week. At the worst, if I only rewatch one film and write it up between now and Tuesday afternoon, I'll have done the minimum that I needed to achieve that doesn't involve time at the office. It could have been worse.

I'm grateful for the distraction because classes resume tomorrow. Even though I'm no longer a student, I tend to get nervous or antsy the night prior to the start of a new quarter. (Why is that?) I've been too preoccupied with the work in front of me to get agitated about the next term.

Sadly, knitting is one thing that has fallen by the wayside. I'd been trying to do a little bit each day, even if it was just a row, but I got sidetracked with everything else and have ignored the hat for two days now. I'd like nothing better than to take an afternoon to knit, but this is going to be a crazy week. I'll be lucky if I find an opening for it.

Is it next Saturday yet?

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

In a pinch

This weekend I'm living the life of a shut-in. It's by choice, although not a desired one. Among other things, I have a ton of stuff to get done with the local group's annual film awards. I estimate it's going to keep me up until 5 a.m., so I'm going to keep this brief.

I've done a fair amount of writing already today over at my film site. If you don't know where it is, a pathway can be found here.

The benefit (and potential curse) of writing as much as I have on this blog is the sheer amount of content here. So, for a blast from the recent past, check out last year's January 5th entry. At least one reader might be a little amused to read what's there. How far we've come...

While the comments are always open, I'll reiterate that I welcome questions, particularly for days like this where life is too boring to even have blogworthy material.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Coffee, tea, and me

Catching up on some old business on a completely uneventful day--work and napping--I dip into the nearly empty sack of reader questions. Donna inquires, "When you go knitting at the coffee shop, what's your drink of choice?"

I have a totally boring answer for this question, but perhaps the power of punctuation can jazz it up. When I go knitting at the coffee shop, my drink of choice! More often than not I'll order a dark roast regular coffee and add a little half and half to it. I try to avoid something bigger than a medium/regular/grande to keep me from getting the jitters. I can usually nurse one of these for an hour or so, which is plenty of time for a solo session of public knitting.

Occasionally I will get a hot chocolate, latte, or mocha; however, those drinks aren't quite as good once they've cooled, something more likely to happen if the beverage is poured in a mug for in-store consumption. Yes, I realize it's ridiculous that I've given this much thought to it.

It's probably been two months since I've gone to a coffee shop to knit. I've been busy, for one thing. Buying a French press (#24) and grinder have seen me making coffee and tea at home most of the time. (Currently I'm partial to Starbucks Christmas blend and TehKu's Earl Grey De La Creme.) It's a less expensive way of indulging in the good stuff. Right now the only time I'm buying coffee on the go is prior to seeing a movie at A.M. Cinema. The theater employees haven't raised any objections about bringing in an outside drink, but I figure that carrying in my own thermal mug might be pushing it.

I've developed a taste for coffee and enjoy it as a daily or semi-daily drink, but it's not something I need to get me going in the morning. Not usually. I didn't start drinking it until late in high school. Even then it was something I'd get occasionally when out with friends. (There was a 24-hour donut shop where we would hang out from time to time.) I didn't drink it regularly through college, although I imagine I had it more then. This was in the midst of the national coffee craze, when shops were sprouting like weeds.

I'm not sure when I started liking it without being dressed up with a lot of sugary syrups and such. Maybe it's when I had a decent cup of the stuff. The first time I remember drinking it was one of the many times my grandmother served the Rotary club. (She did this week in and week out for decades. She always made enough extra that my family would come and eat in the church kitchen or Sunday school classroom.) It was probably Folger's or Maxwell House coffee from a big percolator. Yuck. Coffee wasn't around at home. My dad doesn't drink it, and I don't remember my mom having it much when I was a kid. She keeps it around now, except it's always decaffeinated.

Fascinating, eh?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

With a little help from my friends

The coldness of today's weather caught me by surprise. Sure, I knew it was in the teens, and thus not exactly appropriate for shorts and sandals, but leaving work I could feel the chill seeping into my bones.

Before heading out this evening I traded my ISE5 scarf, which I've been wearing, for a bulkier one I knitted myself early last year. The garter stitching has stretched so much that I need to wrap it around twice to keep it from nearly dragging on the ground, although that's a a bonus feature on days like this. (Still, I need another scarf.) I put my hat on and was now prepared to face the cold.

There were a couple other things keeping me warm too. Earlier in the day I got an e-mail from a friend who received one of the many seaman's caps I made for Christmas gifts. He said the hat was great and that he's been using it in the frigid spell that has descended on this area. (Guess I better finish the one I'm knitting for his wife.)

This afternoon I had a friend pop in for an unexpected chat via one of the top 51 things in the world (2007). I'd been going a little nuts at the office because I was feeling like I couldn't stem the tide of all the work that needs to get done in the near future. The chat was a needed diversion and put the workload in perspective.

What I'm getting at is that it was the small gestures that meant a lot. A short note of thanks and a brief conversation to see what's going on were highlights of the day, things that made me stand up a bit taller. It is easy to feel the necessity to look for or supply the grand statement, the big arm-waving call for attention, that the little things go unseen or undelivered.

There's a time and place for the large gestures, but they are anomalies in everyday life. It's the small kindnesses and courtesies that hopefully maintain the steady pulse of day-to-day existence rather than relying on the defibrillating charge from loftier displays of generosity. They're less expensive to give and likely to be more treasured in the long run. I need to remember that as much as anyone when it comes to giving and receiving them. I'm glad today's reminders came the way they did.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Archies: The Top 51 Things in the World (2007)

Last year Donna started something she dubbed The Archies. I played along and kept this year's list in the back of my mind through 2007. (Unfortunately I didn't have the sense to write things down as the year progressed.) The beauty of this is that it encourages remembering the kind of stuff that enriches your life.

Donna has already posted her 2007 Archies and the rules, so check out her picks and list your own on your blog.

With no further ado, I announce my 2007 Archies, The Top 51 Things in the World.

1. "1 2 3 4"
2. $5 parking for hockey games
3. $10 Huntington Green Seats at Blue Jackets games
4. 3o Rock
5. Alexander Payne's "14th arrondissement" in Paris, je t'aime
6. Amy Adams in Enchanted
7. The Apples in Stereo "7 Stars"
8. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
9. Arkansas vacation hosts
10. Cascade 220
11. Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Gone Baby Gone, and Ocean's Thirteen
12. City Barbeque sweet tea
13. Columbus Gas
14. Down pillow I got for Christmas
15. FranklinCovey planner
16. Google Desktop
17. Google Reader (wipes the floor with last year's Bloglines nomination)
18. Google Talk
19. Gorilla Glue
20. Greenberg Smoked Turkey
21. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Funny how I'm OK with this now that I don't have to hear my former neighbors playing it all hours of the day. Only played it once, but it was awfully fun.)
22. Hotwire
23. I Am America (And So Can You!)
24. IKEA Kaffe (French press)
25. Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
26. Knit Picks Options interchangeable needles
27. Malabrigo
28. Mike's Place (best meal I had all year)
29. Minuteman Pizza
30. Nels Cline guitar solos on Wilco's Sky Blue Sky (especially great in concert)
31. New apartment
32. Nintendo Wii (probably just as well I don't have one)
33. The North Market
34. Norwegian films at the Cleveland International Film Festival (The Bothersome Man, Cold Prey, Reprise, and Sons)
35. Once
36. The Onion AV Club (the best gets even better with TV Club)
37. "PoP! Goes My Heart"
38. Radiohead - In Rainbows (bonus points for the "it's up to you" download)
39. Ratatouille
40. Ravelry
41. Roger Ebert's letter on the eve of Ebertfest
42. Scotch paper cutter
43. Sonic
44. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
45. TehKu teas
46. There Will Be Blood
47. Tim Tams
48. Toshiba Satellite laptop
49. TV shows available for free on network websites (even if it is a cause of the writer's strike)
50. Vernors ginger soda
51. Zout Action Foam

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 knitting resolutions

Happy 2008!

It seems appropriate that the first order of business on this blog for the new year is to set some goals. There aren't as many as my 2007 resolutions, but the bar has been set much higher, if you ask me.

-Learn how to do cables.

I hear they're not as complicated as they look, but I'm not buying it.

-Finish a pair of socks.

I'm halfway there, so this should be doable. Then again, I've been halfway there for half a year.

-Finish the knitting needle covers.

I feel terrible that these aren't done. Sooner rather than later, hopefully.

-Learn how to read charts.

You know those graphs with all the symbols in them? I don't have a clue how to interpret them.

-Design something.

What specifically? No idea. Maybe a scarf for starters.

-Figure out color work.

I looked in a book to see how intarsia is done. It made my brain explode.

-Knit a sweater.

With enough kicking and screaming, I think I can accomplish the other, more difficult resolutions. This one I'm not so sure about. It has to fit and look respectable enough to be worn in public. (At least sock mistakes can be hidden as long as they aren't visible between the shoe and pant leg.) And there's seaming. *shudder*

-Blog every day.

I almost did this last year. What's another seven days of writing? As added incentive, I signed up for the Blog 365.

-Take better care of myself.

After all, nobody else is going to do it. I carry this over from last year because it's something that bears remembering.

Too ambitious? Not ambitious enough? Time will tell. I'm surprised how much I learned and knitted last year. What's not on here that I should have as a goal? What are your knitting goals for a new year?