Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not something else

I thought I'd turned a corner in my woeful tale of automotive aggravation. The adjuster took a look at the car this morning and told me what he could give me for some superficial damage--minor nicks--on the dash because of the radio theft. That was a pleasant surprise as it's money unrelated to replacing the radio. Someone else will be contacting me about that.

So I was feeling pretty good about how the situation is being handled. Then late this afternoon/early this evening I was sitting in my apartment and heard a car alarm going off.

Don't. Tell. Me. It's. Something. Else.

Sure enough, that's my car horn bleating and the lights flashing. I turned it off and took a look around the vehicle. I don't notice anything out of the ordinary or anyone around. Truth be told, it would be pretty bold for someone to be attempting to break into it in broad daylight when most people are returning home from work. I don't think that's what happened.

Instead, my fear was much deeper. This triggered alarm surely means that something electrical is wrong. Whether it's related to the break-in or the new instrument cluster, I can't say. I didn't know if the thief fiddled with the alarm, but I thought it might be worth having checked out. I had no clue where to look, so I thought it was a question worth raising to the insurance company. Better to raise the potential for it now than a week or month down the road.

The person I talked to in claims didn't have an answer for my question and thus directed me to the adjuster. I left a message and expect to hear from him in the morning.

In the meantime I thought about it and wondered if there was the off chance that the arrangement of keys in my pocket might have set it off. I wasn't exactly close to the car, but maybe I was close enough for it reach? Yes, by now I'm completely paranoid about what may go wrong with the car.

I headed out for knit night and took along the GPS, not because I needed directions but so I could listen to the voice periodically. The eerie silence when driving without a radio leaves me listening to every little creak and noise. This feeds my currently anxious state. The voice navigation was to be my distraction.

I shared the story of this latest development and my theories as to what might be the cause of the phantom alarm with one of my fellow knitters. She called her fiancé, who shot down most of my theories. The rational explanation, which is testable, is that somehow I unknowingly pressed the alarm button on the key fob.

I'm feeling better about this being the most logical answer for what happened, although tonight I may sleep restlessly with an ear cocked toward the parking lot. At the rate which this car has generated drama, I feel like I need to be doubly prepared for something out of the ordinary to occur.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Let's review:

-September 9: Car's dash displays flickering lights and intermittent chime sounds. Car dealership technicians cannot get the problem to replicate and thus are unable to do anything.

-September 22: Car's odometer readout disappears and is replaced by a service code. Problem goes away next time car is started and cannot be replicated at car dealership. In the meantime, trunk latch breaks and needs to be replaced.

-September 23: While sitting at a stop light behind a truck, the truck backs up toward me. Honking the horn prompts the truck to stop just in time to avoid ramming into the front of my car.

-September 25: Trunk latch replaced. Dash weirdness has worsened in the intervening days. Problem is identified as bad instrument cluster. Dealership must keep the vehicle until the repair is made but a loaner car is provided at no charge.

-September 28: Repairs finished, car returned. Past week's work amounts to almost one thousand dollars of unforeseen (and unforeseeable) repairs. Majority of the cost is in diagnostics and labor. (Diagnostics to determine faulty instrument cluster, which I expected was bad, cost nearly as much as the part.) Most I've ever paid for a single car repair, perhaps the most I've paid for car repairs in any year. Mind you, I bought this car about two months ago.

While the car has driven fine while I've owned it, suffice it to say that I've had some pretty bad luck with it so far and was nearly on the receiving end of some more with that truck in reverse. Which brings us to today...

So I walk around to the passenger's side of the car this morning to put my things on the seat and can't believe my eyes. There are some things you see every day and expect to see. When reality doesn't match, it's almost as if it takes a little longer for your eyes to construct the images that don't conform to your expectations.

The passenger's side window had been smashed. The majority of the glass ended up in the car. The radio, which I had installed shortly after buying the car, had been stolen. The storage compartment between the front seats had been cleaned out of the approximately five dollars in coins therein. (Actually, a penny remained, as did the coffee sleeve half punched toward a free cup at a local place.)

Nothing else was taken. I don't believe the glove compartment was ever opened, not that there was anything of value in it. The GPS holder that I stick under the driver's seat was still there. There was a scuff on the back of the passenger side mirror and what look like scratches from an attempt at prying that door open. Since the alarm wasn't blaring, I'm assuming it never went off due to no door being opened.

Rather than anger, I felt a wave of defeat and feared that this might mean more electrical issues in the car. I called the police non-emergency line and was directed to another number that took me through a series of automated questions. Nobody was going to be coming to collect evidence. I called my parents to vent and the insurance company to put in a claim.

This was the coldest day in months, and one threatening rain too, so I had a chilly ride to work. After arriving I taped a couple garbage bags in the hole so the interior wouldn't get soaked in the event of precipitation.

The window was replaced while the car was in my employer's parking lot. I didn't owe any deductible, which was at least one victory. It doesn't appear that much (or any) damage was done to the dash when the radio was swiped. (The way the window was smashed and clean removal of the radio suggests this was done by someone experienced.) Things could have been worse, although I'm still feeling a little beaten down about it, especially with the timing.

I'm not sure how I won the luck of the draw in the parking lot. It doesn't appear that anyone else's car was robbed. Mine certainly isn't the nicest, and the radio wasn't anything super fancy. (Note to self when radio is replaced: remove faceplate every night from now on.)

A couple apartment complex maintenance workers were walking through the lot this morning when I was photographing the damage. They mentioned that someone else in the lot had something similar happened recently. The former occupants of the apartment below me experienced this a year ago or so. (Also learned from the maintenance guys: the reason they became former occupants about two months ago is because he died. Shows how much contact I have with people in the unit. And I'd probably talked to those two more than any of the others here.)

All of this, not to mention the minor recurrence of kidney stones this month, has me more than ready for September to end. No, I don't believe in curses, but I could use a few breaks right about now.

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Monday, September 28, 2009


Woke up feeling tired and couldn't really shake that sense all day.

Got my car back but not before paying more for a single repair than I've ever plunked down. Sure, I've known since Friday what it was going to cost, but accepting it doesn't mean I was happy about it.

Yeah, I've had better days.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain

Yarn: Noro Kureyon (100% wool; worsted weight)
Colorway: 178
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 28
Pattern: 1x1 rib (first stitch slipped with yarn in front, last stitch knitted)
Size: 5" wide, 78" long

The project I took up because I needed something to do and then ended up setting aside, leading to a months-long period of little knitting, is finished. Except for a difference in colors, it's essentially the same scarf I made for my mom last year. I'm happier with what I made her than this this one, but I think I'm pleased enough with this to wear it.

I've taken to using the names of films for projects that don't have patterns. Due to the rustic colors, which remind me of levels of soil with hints of grass and the sky, Cold Mountain seemed like an appropriate name. That film's crisp and earthy cinematography, or how I remember it, seems like a good match with this scarf. The colors are suited to the fall-like temperatures that have arrived this weekend, although I certainly won't be needing this until it gets a lot colder.

I have little yarn remaining from the third skein and would have used it all up if I hadn't already knit 78 inches. Kureyon had much less vegetable matter and fewer knots than Silk Garden, so it was easier to work with.

One improvement I made with this scarf is not flaring the ends, which has been a common problem of mine. I'm guessing that I cast on and bound off looser than usual to get rounded square ends.

More than anything, though, I'm just glad to have it done. It wasn't a bad knit, just kind of an uninteresting one.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Updates and a leftover from this week's blogging...

I intended to drop by the local yarn shop when I was in Nelsonville. I had e-mailed the shop owner to confirm the store's Thursday hours but didn't see the response until after I returned from the trip. On top of that the store either moved locations from when I was last in the town or I misremembered. The storefront where I expected to find it was empty. Of course, I hadn't bothered to check the address. Oops.

As for the dashboard issues I've mentioned with my car, it's not good. The dealership technicians finally were able to identify that the instrument cluster is bad. According to them it's not a matter of moisture or a leak ruining it, which I suppose is good. It's just a bad break that I bought a used car in good condition with low mileage that had this sort of failure shortly after the purchase. Still, I'm none too pleased about this expensive repair on top of fixing the trunk latch this week.

I will be writing to the manufacturer to complain. Something like the instrument cluster shouldn't be failing this soon. Web searches have turned up this problem in the same model, so I figure it's worth voicing my displeasure. I'm not expecting to get anything, but it can't hurt to try.

I'm one knitting session away from finishing the scarf I have on the needles. Yes, it should have been finished already, but being out of town one night and dealing with the car a couple times this week got in the way.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Epic performance, unlikely location

Ordinarily I wouldn't drive to a sleepy southeastern Ohio town to see indie rock legends perform in a small theater. That kind of band plays Columbus, not Nelsonville. The 400-seat Stuart's Opera House doesn't usually book an act like Yo La Tengo, but this is the place that landed Arcade Fire for a special show during the run-up to last year's primary. Clearly they have a reputation of some sort.

So there I was, heading into the Hocking Hills region to attend last night's concert. I wanted to see Yo La Tengo, a group I'd never seen before, but I also was curious to get a better look at Stuart's. The place, which opened in 1879, is not a location one comes across every day.

The second story performance space isn't anything fancy, but it's been nicely restored and maintained. The room feels somewhat like my old elementary school auditorium if it had more money sunk into it. For an old place, there's plenty of leg room in the seating area, although I suspect that was not an original feature. (FYI, I took the above photo pretty early on. Most of the seats for the concert were sold.)

As for Yo La Tengo, wow. I could stand to be more familiar with their discography--their latest, Popular Songs, is terrific--but I lucked out because I knew most of what they played and was blown away by everything. There's the fuzzy pop of "Tom Courtenay" and "Sugarcube", delicate and sweet tunes like "My Little Corner of the World", and extended, atmospheric, feedback-drenched blasts so loud that they seemed to render my ear plugs useless. While they have a distinct sound, their music is varied enough that they can sound like completely different bands from song to song.

Typically they're compared to the Velvet Underground, which probably explains why they've had more critical success than widespread commercial appeal. It's a shame that a band that's been at it for 25 years is only playing to a few hundred all these years later, but apparently they're able to make it work.

When applied to artists who are still creating, the "legend" tag often implies that their best work is behind them or, at worst, that the new art is passable but not vital. Last night Yo La Tengo often dipped into I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, a favorite of mine, but the new stuff and their outstanding talents as a live band prove to me that they deserve to be hailed for their artistic longevity and ongoing abilities as a band worth hearing on record and seeing in concert.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

I got it

Having arrived home at nearly 1 a.m. and needing to be up early to take my car in for a repair (and hopefully finding the source of the electrical issues), I have to delay my blog entry on tonight's Yo La Tengo concert in Nelsonville, Ohio.

The short of it: totally worth the drive. Socks knocked off.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Artist Terry Bender has made a promo video for the book featuring his bent wire art. (I can't really think of another way of describing it.) It's creative stuff with a sense of humor that I expect crafters can appreciate.

Knitters should pay attention at the 1:03 mark in the video because needles and a ball of yarn come into play. Check it out.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Repair despair

Returning to knit night has given me a set period of time to work on projects, but outside of those evenings my knitting hasn't been terribly frequent, save for fleeting moments of inspiration. Mainly it comes down to feeling like I have so much going on that I don't do anything.

Tonight I made sure to sit down and knit for a couple hours while listening to not-so-good commentary tracks on the 30 Rock DVDs. I needed to blow off some steam and improve my mood because my car threw a couple more surprises at me today. Keep in mind that I purchased this used vehicle slightly more than two months ago--it's the newest car I've ever owned and has the least mileage on any I've driven--so unexpected repairs are not welcome.

While out during lunch I noticed that the miles on the odometer had disappeared. In its place was a service code of some sort. Per my dashboard issues a couple weeks ago and the rain the last couple days, this wasn't exactly a surprise, but it wasn't something I was pleased to have happen.

Then, after putting some things in the trunk, I found that it wouldn't latch. What the...?! I took it to a dealership again. Once more they couldn't tell me anything about the electrical issues in the dash because the service code was not displayed and they didn't know what it meant. They won't do anything until they can see the symptom themselves.

The latch? They were more than happy to fix that at a deflating cost...and oh by the way we don't have the part and probably can't do it until Friday. At this point I'm hoping the car will show this stupid electrical issue so they can take care of it then too. I'm not happy about the money it's costing and was in a foul mood after leaving the dealership--the appalling cable TV news in the waiting room didn't help matters--so I knew I needed to knit to get over the repairs.

While I did have the knitting in my messenger bag and could have worked on it in the waiting room, I confess that I chose not to take it out. Right or wrong, I feel like doing that would peg me as a sucker to get taken for a bigger ride on repair costs. I could have used the stress relief then, though.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

The agony of da feet

This entry is going to make me sound like an old man and a product endorser.

One result of the miles I've walked this summer is feet that hurt. I haven't given much thought to it and just pushed through the pain, even though some mornings I feel like I'm a bit gimpy at first. Recently a shared post that popped up in my Google Reader recommended the Foot Rubz Massage Ball. As my arches continued to hurt, I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to give this thing a shot.

It arrived in the mail today. While stepping on this thing probably feels not much different than planting one's foot atop a rounded Lego--yes, it can hurt momentarily if applying a lot of pressure--it's produced results. My feet feel a lot better.

Having just now done some web searches, it occurs to me that perhaps I ought to get some arch supports in my shoes. Well, that and the possibility that my dad has passed on his susceptibility to plantar fasciitis to me.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

All that work...

...and so much ugliness.

Another slow day at the blog headquarters, but my quest to find something worth posting here yielded someone else's entry about sweaters that are real doozies. Not to be missed.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009


Some queries while I work on a scarf but have nothing worth writing about it...

I've noticed that my Knit Picks Options US 7s are looking a little tarnished. Is this normal wear and tear, or is this a flaw with the needles? I know I know at least a few of you also own these needles.

I haven't added any Ravelry groups in forever. Any absolutely worth keeping tabs on?

Knitting blogs worth reading?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

They don't use jelly

Call it an unofficial end to the summer. An outdoor concert by The Flaming Lips seemed like a good way to cap a sort of rough week and say goodbye to summer. The show didn't achieve what I'd hoped, mainly out of the huge similarities to what I'd seen two previous times in the past six years and a somewhat obnoxious fan base where I stood.

These days one of the benefits of indoor concerts here is the smoking ban. That isn't in effect for outdoor performances, and with this crowd in particular, that meant plenty of puffing of the legal and illegal variety. Having smoke blown in my face for a few hours isn't what I'd call my idea of a good time. (Moving isn't really an option when there's barely enough room to lift one's arms up without hitting anyone.)

The headlining act's performance was fine, although the lead singer has a bad habit of wasting time by imploring the audience to sing along, yell, etc. and flattering those in attendance. Yeah, yeah, yeah, get on with it. I'm here for the songs, not stage banter that's almost identical to what I last heard three years ago. (For that matter, the setlist could use some freshening. I don't know, how about playing more than two selections from the double album coming out next month?)

All right, I'm sounding more negative than I felt about the concert. The Flaming Lips try to maintain a fun vibe with streamers, confetti, lasers, and a giant hamster ball fit for a lead singer, and they generally succeeded. Tonight's show just seemed awfully familiar--because it was--and the crowd-generated smoke, not to mention the pushing and yelling, made it a bit of an ordeal.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wound up

I've got nothing today, but look, it's a knitting toy bear!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One of those days

Woke up feeling somewhat congested.

Turn on the monitor to my work computer and see a screen telling me there's been a fatal system error.

Tired from a busy week.

No clue what to blog about tonight.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guys and purls

Today's front page of the local daily's Life & Arts section features an article about men who knit. Having read my share of such reports, I must congratulate the writer for putting together a really good piece. It's probably the best one I've come across.

I read the article wondering if I'd come across my blog or pseudonym. A mention of the potential story was on the Ravelry group forum for this LYS. (I've been to the shop once but never to this knit night.) Last week I noticed that my blog received a hit from someone with an ISP labeled with the newspaper's name. The reason for the hit: a search for "does Russell Crowe knit", which happens to be the title of one of the most popular blog entries I've written. (It's currently the fourth result in a Google search.)

I've been anxiously awaiting the feature, largely due to my conflicted feelings about possibly being quoted. Having the blog publicized in the local paper isn't the best way to lay low.

If you've followed the link--and why haven't you?--you know that I'm nowhere to be found in the article. I would like to believe, though, that what I wrote about the flimsy evidence for Crowe as a knitter eliminated the repetition of it in his particular piece.

I'm heartened that currently all but one of the online reader comments attached to the newspaper story don't find the idea of men knitting questionable or unusual. Not that I'm planning on revealing my knitting secret anytime soon or anything.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to school

Yes, as late as it seems, the new academic year started today at my place of employment. Apparently most of the students must have Tuesday/Thursday classes because the building was relatively quiet, which was just as well since I was feeling rotten in general. (My guess for my malaise: a minor recurrence of kidney stones. Guess who needs to be drinking more water.)

Now I can't say I was ready for school to resume, but it was good to have more purpose in the day than I usually have during the mostly easygoing summer. There were more things that needed to be done and actual interaction with people. Recently I've noticed how talkative I've been when given the opportunity, which is a definite sign that there's been little in the way of conversation at the office the last three months.

This was a long day. Tuesday proves to be an even longer one. Still, while I'm sure there will be plenty to grumble about over the upcoming days and weeks, a school isn't really a school without the students. I may not have been feeling very recharged today, but we'll get back into the routine together.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Onward to intarsia

Ohio State Block O Dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Colorways: Black and Red
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 41

The main reason I've avoided colorwork is because it seems confusing. Managing multiple strands sounds like a headache. Mistakes seem inevitable and an enormous mess to fix. To that I say, no thanks.

Yet there I was, glued to the chair, knitting this dishcloth in two extended sessions using intarsia, a term that makes the technique sound like a foreign land. To complicate matters, the pattern isn't written for two colors, although it's a measure of my ability to read it that adapting it for my purposes was pretty easy. Well, that and the fact that it is a straightforward pattern.

Assuming that I did the intarsia correctly, all I needed was pages 248 & 249 of The Knitting Answer Book to set me on the path. I jumped in not exactly certain of what I was about to do, but it was of supreme help that this method made logical sense to me when plotting the project.

The bobbins were a hassle, perhaps in part because I had no clue how much to cut and sometimes was dealing with far too much loose-hanging and unwinding yarn and too-long ends. Keeping five bobbins from tangling was a chore, although I most assuredly did myself no favors by having the yarn dangling in an unorganized manner.

Adding yarn was fairly easy, but I wasn't sure what to do when I needed to get rid of bobbins. Correctly or not, I decided to knot the bobbin yarn with the working yarn when the latter reached the last knit bobbin yarn. It worked, as far as I can tell.

I only had one significant hole in the knitting. Unsurprisingly, that was produced at the spot where I did my first color change. I quickly learned to pull the discarded color's yarn tight after knitting the first stitch of the new color. That took care of gaps. Weaving in the end at the hole filled it in satisfactorily.

I did most of the colorwork in one sitting because I just wanted to get it done. I don't know that I'd say I enjoyed that knitting, but the three or so hours I spent working on 75% of the block O saw my speed increase because I got the hang of it better than if I'd done a little from time to time. The primary improvement came in managing those darn bobbins, which I tucked between my legs and the armrests.

The wrong side, pictured at the top of this entry, is what I prefer as the right side. The stockinette O is my preferred right side because the sewed-in end are less noticeable. I don't think there's any way of eliminating the line of black purls between the red stitches--they're on both sides--but I suppose I could claim it is a creative way of conveying depth.

If I knew anything about blocking, I'd try to stretch this so the block O isn't quite as square. Still, I think it's a respectable looking FO, especially for my first time trying my hand at intarsia. Whether it's my last remains to be seen.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

This time I mean it

It's been awhile, but I have tried doing colorwork before. The technique didn't really take those many months ago. After a few days of thinking about and trying to visualize how this project could be done, I decided to sit down and give it a shot again. Surprisingly, I think I got it.

With the big game against USC taking place this evening, it seemed like the right day for tackling an Ohio State block O dishcloth. The pattern was done all in one color, but I thought it would look better with the red letter on a black background. You know, like the Woody Hayes cap.

Intarsia appeared to be the best choice. With bobbins to and fro, it wasn't the easiest technique I've ever used, but once I thought I understood it, I was able to make headway. In fact, I've finished the dishcloth, but considering the late hour, I don't feel up to writing everything I'd like to say about the experience. So yes, this entry is a tease, but unlike previous professions of attempting colorwork, this time my results produced an FO.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

For my consideration

Project updates on a slow news Friday...

At worst I'm two-thirds of the way finished with my 1x1 ribbed Noro scarf. I've produced about 52 inches of scarf from two skeins, so I don't think I'll need all of the third. It's been good for keeping me busy knitting, but I'm ready to move on to something else.

I found a pattern for an Ohio State dishcloth that I'd like to knit in two colors for a friend. I'm kicking around some ideas for how to do the colorwork without figuring out intarsia or Fair Isle. Since the block O is symmetrical, my crazy way of doing it might work, but I have to think about it some more.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Knitters and other crafty types might want to keep an eye out for the documentary Handmade Nation. Here's how the official site describes it:
Handmade Nation documents a movement of artists, crafters and designers that recognize a marriage between historical techniques, punk and DIY (do it yourself) ethos while being influenced by traditional handiwork, modern aesthetics, politics, feminism and art. Fueled by the common thread of creating, Handmade Nation explores a burgeoning art community that is based on creativity, determination and networking.
It appears that this isn't likely to show up at your local arthouse (and certainly not at the multiplex), but film festival and craft show attendees may run across it. Current screenings are listed on the film's blog.

For a taste the stop-animated opening credits and about an eight-minute excerpt are available online for viewing. (FYI, some may consider the excerpt Not Safe For Work.) I haven't seen Handmade Nation, but it seems like something that might be worth putting on your radar.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Here comes the rain again

I like the rain. It's relaxing to listen to the steady fall of water when trying to get to sleep. When I've run in races in the summer I've hoped for a light rain to keep me cool.

But rain and I have been at odds too. There are times when I tense up and worry when it rains. The ceiling in my old apartment developed some pretty serious leaks, including several in one spot. Eventually my landlord had someone come to repair it, but wouldn't you know that the rain started leaking through again? It was fixed a couple more times and finally took, but sure enough, leaks in other parts of the apartment appeared. This went on for well more than a year.

After the problem was fixed for good, it was still common for the sound of rain to provoke the tightening of my upper body and and intent listening for dripping water. That response--rain PTSD of a sort--even carried over to where I now live. I don't worry about it as much now, although last September's windstorm, which sheared plenty of shingles from the roof, revived old fears.

Worry about leaks extended to my previous car. Water would get in around the doors and sun roof. I thought such problems were behind me, but it would seem that may not be the case.

For now the rain gives me a new cause for concern. The past couple days have brought some decent rains. This morning I pressed the remote entry button to unlock my car but nothing happened. The car started fine, but when I arrived at work and turned it off, an in-car alarm sounded and lights on the dash flickered. This is without the key in the ignition. It wasn't displaying any signs of stopping.

I took it to my mechanic, who mentioned that this particular model is known for water getting into the dash at the windshield and around the air intake and pollen filter. (Hmm, my car did have a lot of condensation on the windshield while the one next to me in the parking lot at home had none.) He recommended taking the car to a dealership for repair and suggested that a recall might be out regarding this problem. Sure enough, a quick search online showed that this appears to be a common problem, although no recall exists.

I took it to a dealership near me so I could be at home while they tinkered. Of course I fretted about the expense and the aggravation of this happening with a recently purchased car that is not under warranty.

Here's the thing: the car would not replicate this aberrant behavior when the technicians looked at it. The good news is that whatever was wrong is no longer occurring, everything seemed to check out, AND I was not charged anything for their explorations into the problem. The bad news is that now any time we get sufficient rain I'm going to worry that this will crop up again. Indeed, blame it on the rain.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Scarf in progress

I started this 1x1 ribbed scarf awhile ago. It must have been March because I figured I could work on it during downtime at the film festival in Cleveland. I didn't have much in the way of free time then, and I seem to remember the weather being warmer at film fest time. The urgency of finishing a scarf was pretty much nonexistent by the time April rolled around.

This scarf traveled with me as I drove around the south and midwest, but it's only been in the past couple days that I've finally resumed knitting it. I forgot that I'd been slipping the first stitch knit-wise until I noticed that the edge of the scarf looked a hair different than what preceded it. The change is essentially imperceptible, especially since I corrected course and went back to slipping knit-wise.

I'm on the second skein of Noro Kuryeon and have one more to go. I liked how the Noro colorway knit up in the scarf I made my mom for Christmas last year, so the idea here is to make something in colors I'm willing to wear. It may be flashier than what I'd typically don, but I think it is turning out acceptably. I haven't come up with a movie-themed name for it yet. All in due time. The scarf is probably just halfway to completion.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy birthday to me

Among those celebrating birthdays today: Michael Emerson, also known as Benjamin Linus on Lost; Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders; and me.

The effects of yesterday's athletic endeavor made me feel like a year was added to my age, so what better excuse was there to spoil myself all day? I had lunch at my favorite barbecue place in town and received a free piece of Texas sheet cake for my birthday. The sandwich and fries were sufficiently filling, so the cake came home with me.

I took a refreshing afternoon nap, knit a little, watched the Reds on TV, went for a walk, and watched the first film from one of my favorite directors. I suppose one could say that I pretty much do what I want every day, but I tried to treat myself today. Thus, I went and got a pint from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. If "splendid" is in the name, it has to be good. (And it is...but no, I'm not eating all of the ice cream in one day.)

I've always enjoyed that my birthday can fall on a national holiday, like it has today, so I've tried to observe it as a day of rest. It would have been nice to have spent it with family or friends, but with that not possible, getting the day off work and acknowledging it as my day has sufficed.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

The boys of summer

I spent the better part of Sunday on a baseball diamond playing a modified version of wiffle ball with nine other guys. (The primary differences: a tennis ball and wiffle ball bats sliced and crammed into another bat to give it sufficient heft.) Including the warm-up/batting practice, we were out there for four hours and ten innings running around like kids playing a game.

I haven't put on the cleats, swung a bat, or shagged flies for three years, I think, but stepping onto the field again seemed like a familiar place. I was a bit surprised to find myself tracking down fly balls with more (relative) speed and accuracy than I anticipated. The ball made a satisfying thunk in the webbing as I raced into positions to make catches.

Connecting the slender yellow bat with the small ball was more of a challenge, although I can take pride in not striking out. I hit respectably during the game, although I was miffed that the best contact I made--a solid drive to the left field warning track--resulted in an out.

It was a fairly warm day, and the length of the game took its toll, although I didn't notice the time or aches and pains in the midst of the action. After the extra inning affair most of the players and their families went to get something to eat. It was after getting up from my chair that revealed the cost of all that running, throwing, and swinging. Sore feet, sore legs, and sore back. The arm feels all right, which is a surprise considering one throw I blazed--and felt immediately thereafter--trying to gun down a runner at the plate.

I expect I'll be sorer when I arise in the morning, but the pain was well-earned and justified. Having a long afternoon to play and rub some skin off your hands and trash talk and spit and get dirty doesn't come along to often as an adult, but every once in awhile it's nice to be reminded of what it can be like to be like a kid and do what you did then.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Putting the d'oh in dishcloth

Homer Simpson dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Colorway: Yellow
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 42

The designer calls this the D'oh Dad Dishcloth, but let's not beat around the bush (or skirt copyright lawyers?). It's Homer J. Simpson. The yarn is a brighter yellow than it appears in the photo, which is as it should be for rendering the animated character.

Knitting this dishcloth has me feeling like it may be time to design a follow-up to my first pattern. I have some ideas but haven't chosen anything yet.

And just because I know everyone loves yarn photos, here's what I bought for my Red Scarf Project contribution. The colorway is Red Wing.

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Friday, September 04, 2009


Sign #1 that I'm serious about resuming knitting on a regular basis: I went to a LYS for the first time in months and bought two skeins of Lambs Pride Superwash (100% wool) for my Red Scarf Project contribution.

Sign #2 that I'm serious about resuming knitting on a regular basis: when I'm done with this blog entry I'm turning to my current WIP.

Sign #3 that I'm serious about resuming knitting on a regular basis: I'm browsing Ravelry multiple times per day.

I think that serious knitting rut may finally be licked.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


Checkered Dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Colorway: Swimming Pool
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 40

I wasn't trying to knit something with a big Z or an N across it, but it's kind of cool that the variegated yarn knit up this way. I like to think of it as something Team Zissou would have on their ship.

I finished this at knit night, newly moved to Wednesdays, and cast on a new project: a Homer Simpson dishcloth. I have a friend who will love it, and I can see myself making a couple more for my brothers. Another dishcloth may not be a test of my knitting skills, but you know, I like making dishcloths and need projects to get me knitting regularly again.

Since I had two FOs and a WIP to add to my Ravelry page, I finally updated it. Apparently I'm approaching the limit of 200 free Flickr uploads. I don't really want to shell out money to have a hosted place for my Ravelry pictures if I can help it. (I don't use Flick for anything else.) I've been so out of the loop with that site that maybe there's an alternative to Flickr?

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gone, or almost gone, but not forgotten

The Beloit College Mindset List comes out every year as a reminder of the cultural reality of entering college freshman. For instance, one of the items on this year's list is, "They have never used a card catalog to find a book." (I will take issue with #51: Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations. I think they meant pop/Top 40/CHR/whatever the format is called nowadays.)

Going along with that, I also recall hearing something on NPR a couple years ago about sounds that will be lost to history, like what you hear when a dial-up modem is connecting. I can't find specifically what I wanted, but perhaps it was part of a packaged collection that is being sold.

In the spirit of the list and that radio piece, I've been trying to think of things that are obsolete and will vanish in time or on the verge of disappearing. I've come up with:

-The sound of turning the radio dial. I was thinking in terms of cars, where digital tuners have reined supreme for a long time, but I guess that standalone radios may still have dials. Tied to that...

-The sound of a tube radio warming up. Growing up my dad had an old radio with AM, FM, and shortwave bands. In the morning I would hear him turn it on, which was usually a signal that I needed to get up (or would need to soon) for school. You could hear the voices go from deep and distorted to the warm analog sound when it was properly warm.

-The rotary telephone and the sound of dialing it.

-A dial on a TV for changing channels and the sound of turning it.

-The wired TV remote. When we first got cable TV at home, we had a keypad remote control with a wire running to the box.

-The console TV with wood paneling.

-The Cassingle.

What else should be on such a list?

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Still arch

Following up on yesterday's post comprised of pictures of the Gateway Arch, today's features photos from inside it. The above photo is in the museum and visitor's center underneath the monument.

After the ride to the top in a tram that's resembles, and is as big as, a space age egg, you enter the cramped quarters at the peak.

As you can see, the windows aren't very big for taking a peek at the city and taking photos, but you can still get some nice shots. Frankly, I don't know that I'd want big window to look out of. It's mighty high. While I didn't feel the arch sway, I've been told that it does if the wind's blowing sufficiently.

Here's a look across the Mississippi River at Illinois.

Part of downtown St. Louis, including the ballpark that was my next destination.

And more of downtown St. Louis. It really is a great view and was very much worth seeing. If you're claustrophobic, though, you might think twice about visiting. Those trams are awfully small, and as you can see it can be packed up top.

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