Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas knits

I've been having a second thought or three about not knitting Christmas gifts. Maybe my dad could use a hat that fits better than the one I made him two years ago. My mom really likes the dishcloths I've given her, but she can always use more. (No, dishcloths are not the only thing I'd give her.) One brother has requested a hat. Should I make something for his wife too?

I'm also feeling the itch to make another hat for myself. It would seem that I may be on the verge of being all about the hats very soon. There's also another couple things I need to whip up. Suddenly a month that's already full just got fuller.

Of course, there's no progress to be made on any of that until I finish my contribution to the Red Scarf Project. I've been an intermittent knitter, so this thing has dragged out a lot longer than it should have. The deadline is approaching, so I need to get my act together and finish it.

Something tells me I need to start blocking out time for everything I need to get done this month.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Things I learned over Thanksgiving weekend

-All my brothers do in fact use the hats I knitted for and gave to them two years ago. Not so sure about the scarves, but the hats have been a hit.

-One brother was even wearing his indoors pretty much all day.

-A blue reflector in the middle of the road indicates the position of a fire hydrant along the side of the road. My dad, who volunteers as an ambulance driver, pointed this out to me. I don't think I'd ever seen a blue reflector, but once I started seeking them out, I didn't have any trouble finding them. How long has this been going on?

-Clearly I don't get anything done when I go to my parents' for the holidays. None of the things I had hoped/intended to do were accomplished while I was there this time.

-Following the GPS's advice on the way to go home had me taking the fourth different route in the two years I've been going there. This way had its advantages (less likelihood of getting stuck behind someone on a two-lane road) and disadvantages (traffic lights in Lima; also, Lima). I think my preferred route is probably a little faster, but this way might be worth considering again.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009


Wii Sports bowling has been one of the main family activities while I'm here at my parents' home. Unlike most other video games, my dad likes to play and can usually keep up with us kids. I suspect that's the main reason why he's all for playing it.

I'm fairly good at this particular game, but as with real bowling, my performance is subject to being off just a little here or just a little there. I was in a pretty good groove today. I'd won two of two games, with the latter concluding with eight straight strikes in a 268 game. Of course, when a new game started, that streak was essentially meaningless.

Yet there I was throwing strike after strike and feeling like I'd found the right rhythm. If I'd been doing this in real life, the tension definitely would have been increasing as I approached a perfect score of 300. As a virtual bowler I didn't have nearly as many pressures. All I needed to do was move my Mii's position to the same spot where I'd been putting it and maintaining the same throwing motion I'd been making. Easy enough.

About halfway through I just took it frame by frame, but the heat was undeniably on when it was apparent that rolling a 300 game was within reach. On my eleventh ball the ten pin wobbled and was slow to fall. For a second or two I could feel the disappointment start to seep in, but the pin fell, which left me with just one more strike to throw. I probably threw that last one harder than necessary--I felt a twinge--but all the pins went down.

Game playing with the family can be competitive, so I've been very pleased at achieving this feat, which can only be tied, never broken, by my dad or brothers. At least in video game bowling I am and will be the kingpin.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Hockey night in South Bend

On a chilly night in northwest Indiana two of my brothers, my dad, and I headed to the nearby local university to take in some amateur athletics. Perhaps you've heard of a little place called Notre Dame?

We almost arrived too late as there was a line of prospective ticket buyers out the doors of the Joyce Center. It turns out that the game ended up selling out--standing room was about all that was left when we got to the window--but we were able to snag seats behind the students in their section. Fortunately an usher asked them to sit rather than stand through the entire game, especially because there were a lot of children behind them whose views were blocked.

I've seen my share of NHL games, although rarely from up close, so it was a lot of fun to be this near to the action and observe the speed of play. Being up higher can have its advantages, namely that play in the near side corners isn't obstructed, especially at the far end. Still, there is something to be said for sitting six rows from the ice.

The game ended on a Notre Dame goal with 2.4 seconds remaining in sudden death overtime. I didn't particularly care who won, but that was a pretty exciting finish for the home team.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Four hours on the road, lunch, nap, Wii bowling, card playing, and televised sports...that's been today's whirlwind Thanksgiving. There's plenty more to be thankful for, but for today I think it will suffice. Hope you had a good holiday too.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The gift that keeps on giving

Other than a couple little things, I was not intending to do any Christmas knitting this year. I don't really have any ideas, and I don't know that the gifts mean much to most of the recipients. Plus, I've slowed down considerably from the insane pace I kept when I first undertook learning this craft.

So I was a little surprised that one of my brothers mentioned needing/wanting a new stocking hat. Granted, he's been the one who has been most vocal in his appreciation for what I've made, so I wasn't taken entirely by surprise. I just wasn't expecting it.

He received one of the first hats I made, so it's probably a little tight on the cast on row. Last year I "re-knit" scarves for him and his wife because they got the first two I made. I was dissatisfied with them once I realized what I was doing, which wasn't until well after they were given them. It makes sense that I should replace that initial hat.

Hey, I have a next project now!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bridging the gap

Today was the unofficial last day of work before Thanksgiving. Offices are open on Wednesday, but I don't plan on heading in. (I have a movie to catch up on, for one thing.) Thus, with it being the final day of the work week and, basically, the academic quarter, I was just a bit busy. So I'm low on blog content and mental energy.

For your edification, though, here's a story about a giant, pink knitted bridge mad of PVC barrier tape. Is that duct tape? The more important question is this: where's the photograph of it?

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Suit up

If you are a superhero in need of a knitted outfit, might I suggest you turn to Mark Newport for your costume needs? His costumes for superheroes, whether traditional or imagined by him (or so I assume), appear to be just the thing for the discriminating protector of the public.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cold feet

I don't know if it's that the sliding glass doors at both ends of my apartment's main area leave a slight chill in the air or if the circulation in my feet isn't so great, but it's getting to be time for thick wool socks. Regular socks just aren't keeping my feet warm enough when I'm at home.

Perhaps my next project should be a pair of heavy socks. By the time the weather truly turns cold I might actually have them done. Any pattern recommendations?

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Going to market

I had to drop off some things on the southeast side of town Friday night, so I decided to meet up with some fellow knit night-ers as they visited Yarn Market in Pickerington. I didn't need any yarn or have anything in mind, but I thought maybe I'd be inspired. That's the wrong tack to take at this place.

Yarn Market is a local yarn shop in the sense that you can buy yarn there, but as the lead photo illustrates, this is primarily a warehouse that sells yarn and accessories to internet purchasers. The showroom features a sample of each kind of yarn in their inventory. Not all colorways are represented, just the different brands.

It's in here that one can try to make sense of what one might want to buy. Since I didn't have any projects in mind, nothing really jumped out at me. I kicked around the idea of getting something for a pair of socks, but I'll admit that the sheer quantity of yarn at this place overloaded my brain.

Wandering the warehouse will do that. Depending on the aisle, plastic containers are stacked up to six high (at least) and are in rows that stretch quite a ways. This is when you can dig around and find what colors the yarns come in, but trust me, unless I had a vague notion of what I was looking for, browsing is not the best plan of attack.

They don't just have yarn. Needles, hooks, books, patterns, and practically any other knitting and crochet tools are here in bulk as well.

I also saw the most expensive yarn I've ever come across. Nearly $300 a ball (and not a very big one at that)?!

Thanks to the folks at Yarn Market for staying open late for our group and letting us have the run of the place.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

The sands of time

The evening's plans did not quite go as expected, so at this late hour I must delay my blog entry about visiting a yarn warehouse.

In the meantime, how about checking out the Magritte and Dali-inspired video for Squeeze's "Hourglass". This peppy little pop song from my formative years came on the radio tonight. I hadn't heard it in a long time.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


Apparently all I had to do was mention the iPhone to summon it. I received mine today.

It may sound like an extravagance to be given one as part of my job, and it very well may be. Nevertheless, I do think it will be help me with my work.

How? One thing I've discovered with today's college students is that reaching them by phone is about the last viable option. I'll be curious if or when the school decides to pull the plug on landlines in dorm rooms. I seem to recall a report mentioning that they weren't recouping long distance costs because the service didn't get enough use. I've called student rooms and not been able to leave messages because the voicemail boxes have never been set up. I have better success calling cell phones, but even then it's uncommon for someone to pick up.

E-mail can also be hit and miss as far as responses, especially timely ones, are concerned. I've noticed more erosion in getting e-mail replies and have heard students talk about how little they check their inboxes.

No, the way to get in touch with and be accessible to them is texting. Their phones seem to get the most use from tapped out messages, and they struggle to pull their attention from them. Texting in class and texting while participating in academic-related activities is rampant.

To be sure, the phone's web access and synced campus e-mail and calendar will be helpful too. It provides flexibility and ability to work in a way practically unimaginable when I started the job.

And yeah, it's going to be a fun toy to play with as well.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So here's the thing... Yes, having an iPhone or one of these fancy-schmancy telephones/digital Swiss army knives would be nice, but I can make do with what I have. For Pete's sake, my cell is through my employer, so I can't complain.

A couple weeks ago a co-worker raised the prospect of getting iPhones since word is that the school can get a good deal on them and is approving them. Hey, sure, if they're willing to give me one, I'm all for it!

A week ago all the paperwork was completed to put the order in motion. Considering the short turnaround on our last phones, I was expecting, perhaps unreasonably, to have this smart phone by now. I talked to someone elsewhere at the school to find out what time period he got his in. i was informed that it may have taken three or four weeks for the process to wrap.

A month?! Ordinarily I'm pretty patient, but I've been going kind of nuts waiting for my iPhone to arrive. The expectation of possessing this gadget wasn't on my mind two weeks ago. Now I wait on pins and needles for word that it's here, it's here!

I'm not proud about this reaction.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't say that

Bad news is one thing. With any luck it doesn't come often and is delivered softly. Then there are the words you hate to hear. You come across these irritants all the time.

I thought I'd add a few to that writer's list. For instance, when someone says, "No offense but...", you can be sure that what he or she is about to say will indeed offend. Along these lines is the non-apology apology, the favorite of disgraced public figures who have stuck their feet in the mouths: "If I offended anyone, I apologize." Translation: I'm not really sorry, and you shouldn't be so sensitive anyway.

In any context I don't know that "we need to talk" can ever precede anything good, especially if it's followed up with vagaries about what needs to be talked about at an undetermined later time.

What words do you hate to hear?


Monday, November 16, 2009

You better shop around

My Entertainment Weekly subscription lapsed awhile back. Even though the magazine has become glossier and dominated by nuggets instead of articles, it's something I regularly read and makes no sense buying from the newsstand.

One of the card inserts advertised an outstanding deal--55 issues for $20--so with the thought of resubscribing on my mind, I decided the time was right. The telephone number for ordering was buried. Figuring the site would be able to handle my need, I went to the main page and clicked on the proper button. Here I found a "trial" offer of four free issues plus 36 more if I was happy. The cost: $15 for 40 issues.

Ordering through the site was thus slightly more expensive. The web price breaks down to 37.5 cents per issue. Mailing in the card insert or phoning in the order would snag a price of 36.4 cents per issue. Obviously the difference was negligible, but I knew what was the best deal, so why cough up half a buck more than necessary?

After a short hold on the toll-free line I told the operator that I wanted to subscribe and was quoted an annual price of approximately $61. Hold your horses! Granted, I knew that the price on the card was good and would be honored, but what an eye opener this was. Calling the subscription line, a number deep at the end of the letters to the editor section, earns you an offer more than triple the price on a card in the same issue.

As with any purchase, even one as frivolous as this, it pays to do your homework.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moving the sticks

Previous autumn Sundays were an excuse to knit while keeping an eye on the pro football games on TV. My team, the Bengals, were usually their hapless selves. At least knitting assuaged some of the aggravation of rooting them on in vain.

Apparently this fall is and will be different. The Bengals are in first place, in control of their destiny, and look to be a legitimate top team. Who dey? Historically this team has delivered disappointment and inconsistency, but this year's determined squad may be the best I've witnessed, including the two teams that made the Super Bowl.

I am delighted to no end that the Bengals are winning, but knitting during these games is out of the question. Between watching the game and following chatter online, not to mention occasionally turning on the home radio broadcast, my attention is fixed on the gridiron and my favorite team. The only moving of the sticks that interests me on Sunday afternoon is another Cincinnati first down.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Knits men want

Next year brings the book Knits Men Want: The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man~ Plus the Only 10 Patterns She'll Ever Need. Obviously it remains to be seen if this paperback, like so many others, features patterns that I'd actually wear rather than some of the nonsense that these books try to pass off.

One line in the description jumps out at me, though: "Men aren’t being intentionally cruel; they’re just not comfortable in knitwear made with bright colors, itchy yarn, or flashy designs." That sounds like a pretty good starting point to me.

Then again, the publication date is April 1st.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The end

I've got nothing to blog about today, but since seeing the disaster (in more ways than one) movie 2012 was part of the day's activities, here's a pretty funny clip of a couple sequences from the film with all of the special effects removed. It makes what's already pretty ridiculous even sillier.

Well, OK, there's one part in there that's not in the film.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talking PC

I drove over to the greater Dayton area to see John Hodgman reading from his books. Some of you may know him from his appearances on The Daily Show. Most of you will be familiar with him as the PC in the Apple computer commercials.

I don't think I've ever gone to a book reading until tonight, so I wasn't sure what to expect or how many people would be there. Although I was once a little familiar with the area where the event took place, it's totally different--read: developed--now. Like Easton Town Center, the shopping complex is constructed like a fake small town with large parking lots and parking garages. (Hodgman jokingly compared it to the village in The Prisoner.)

By my estimate there were about sixty to seventy people there to listen to the writer talk and read from his works. He proved to be a skilled presenter who is quick on his feet. There's a blurry line between John Hodgman and "John Hodgman", but whether he was in more of a character mode or as himself, he was consistently funny.

During the Q&A he talked about how anyone can be famous for an instant today, but the people who endure or succeed are those who make something. Clearly it takes no skill to attain a moment in the spotlight in today's media-saturated world, but to remain there requires an ability to make something. I don't know that it's an original thought, but it's something that bears repeating to my students, some of whom can be more interested in the allure of being in front of the cameras.

He numbered each book that he signed, with separate counts for paperbacks and hardbacks, which tickles my inner obsessive-compulsive. (I don't know if the counts are from this book tour alone or not, but I can tell you that there weren't 2734 people ahead of me.)

While I'm loath to place my photo on this site, I feel as though I need one from the event. Since my quickly snapped shots of him speaking are too fuzzy, I present one of me and a veritable talking PC here.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take a seat

"Puck's in play!" yelled the strong-lunged fan a row behind me at the hockey game. The oblivious targets of his repeated cries were walking up the steps to their seats while there was action on the ice.

Ordinarily I've found that the ushers will make people wait to go to or return to their seats while the game is being played. It's only when a break in the action arrives--a held puck, a penalty, a puck gets knocked into the stands, a TV timeout--that they will let attendees fill the stairs. Otherwise they're blocking the views of those trying to watch.

This sports etiquette was new to me until I began going to hockey games, but I really appreciate it. People who want to see the game aren't inconvenienced by those making repeated trips to the concession stands during the action.

I can remember going to Opening Day for the Reds a few years ago and having a nearly constant stream of people walking to and from their seats throughout the game. Since the wanderers were between my seat on the first base side and home plate, my view was obstructed a lot. I would have loved an unwritten code encouraging everyone to stay put until after a play was over or, better than that, between half innings.

If , like tonight, the usher isn't enforcing this commonly accepted practice, the fans usually aren't shy about trying to police it themselves. More often than not the offenders respect the unspoken rule when their error is pointed out to them. Miss Manners would be proud, even if she might request that the bellowing fan take a gentler tone of voice in his attempts at enforcement.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

As a bee?

You know I've been busy. It's been a running theme on this blog for what feels like forever. Yet there I was today in the midst of another long, packed work day feeling pretty good about what I'd accomplished and feeling pretty good in general. It's when I stop moving that the fatigue catches up with me.

Apparently I'm a shark.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Random things

You want to read a feel-good story about an 11-year-old girl who has a way with alpacas, don't you?

Apparently the limited availability of Tim Tams last winter was successful. I saw some on an end cap in the grocery store tonight and had to buy some.

I replaced my stolen car stereo a week ago and have been vigilant about removing the face plate so it isn't taken again. I just wish I didn't feel like I have to.


Sunday, November 08, 2009


Anybody out there read/flipped through Woolly Thoughts: Unlock Your Creative Genius with Modular Knitting?

A knitter profile--he's not one of the "so many silent ones"--shows a couple examples, and I'm suitably impressed. That cube blanket sort of blows my mind, especially since I picked up the habit of doodling three-dimensional cubes and such from my grandmother.

I'm not crazy about the colors, but seriously, look at that thing.


Saturday, November 07, 2009


-The Box
-A little grocery shopping
-Keeping an eye on some college football while browsing the internet
-Dinner in an Irish pub while watching Ohio State-Penn State football before walking over to the arena for a hockey game
-Blue Jackets hockey

Time spent at home (not including sleep): around five hours

Somebody's in serious need of slowing down.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Frantic Friday

It's a four film day for me--I'm heading out in a little while to polish off the last of them--and thus a busy way to bring another busy week to an end. If the weather wanted to dump an early snow storm on us and get me to cool my jets for a couple days, I'm for it. But advance warning, please. I don't really have much to eat in the apartment.

I've come to the realization that a big reason for my knitting productivity downturn can be laid on my purchase of an HDTV last year. I used to knit a lot more while watching (or listening/not watching) television, but with that crystal clear picture in front of me, I can't pull my eyes away as easily.

On Wednesday I finished the first skein of yarn for my Red Scarf Project scarf. If I can pick up the pace a bit, I'd like to have it done in a week. Keep in mind, though, that most of my knitting in the last month has been done almost exclusively at knit night.

It's been a busy fall work-wise, and for awhile I just wasn't feeling top notch, so the knitting wasn't a priority. The term is winding down, and aside from the time change still throwing me, I feel more like I usually do. A long weekend with nothing on the schedule would be welcome, though.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Knit long and prosper

Would you like to buy a Spock monkey?

A contest-winning knitter gets profiled on TV news for her Star Trek twist on the traditional sock monkey. My impression is that the show, movies, etc. is fairly popular with crafty types, so coming up with such a project is a smart way to help stack the deck in one's favor.

"But she does have a rather delicate hobby." Yes, thankfully there are plenty of fainting couches to go around in yarn shops and when I attend knit night.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Since I don't have anything worth writing about, how about hitting shuffle on the iPod and seeing what comes up? If you'd like to hear these songs, most can be found by using Google to search for the artist and song title and hitting play on the embedded Lala player. (It's a new tool Google offers, but it doesn't provide anything for me to link to.)

1. Laura Cantrell "Yonder Comes a Freight Train" When the Roses Bloom Again (2004)

I haven't given this theory much thought, but I'm going to propose that the best songs about forms of transportation are about trains. Sorry cars. There's something about how the engines chug that lends itself to the rhythms of these songs and conveys the feeling of riding the rails.

2. The Streets "Who Got the Funk?" Original Pirate Material (2002)

There's a left turn--from country to British hip hop--provided by the shuffle. This short track doesn't make much sense out of the album's context. "The day in the life of a geezer," repeats Mike Skinner, essentially summarizing the concept for album about British lad culture. The song is more connective tissue than a standalone piece.

3. The Black Crowes "Sister Luck" Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

The Black Crowes bring back memories of the heritage AOR station WTUE in Dayton. While they sounded like a lot of the classic rock bands, at the time they were a new group. I don't know if this particular song would have been heard on the air, although surely their debut was played at least once at midnight, which is when they'd play one side of an album, take a break, and play the second side. Yes, albums used to have two sides (or sides at all), and rock stations used to be worth listening to.

4. The Beastie Boys "Time for Livin'" The Sounds of Science (1992)

Surely I've heard this before,but this isn't one that stood out to me. Beasties more in punk mode than rapping.

5. David Gray "Easy Way to Cry" A New Day at Midnight (2002)

Can't say that this particular song stirs up any memories, but the album it's from is inextricably tied in my mind to hearing a single from it on WXRT while in Chicago for a high school friend's wedding. Come to think of it, is that the only high school friend's wedding I've attended?

6. The Velvet Underground "I'm Waiting for the Man" The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

This album isn't considered one of the most highly influential in rock history for nothing. Funny how it can still sound current all these years later.

7. The Beta Band "Al Sharp" Hot Shots II (2001)

Totally random fact (probably): I think I bought this CD in a Rhode Island Borders.

8. Guided by Voices "Gold Star for Robot Boy" Jellyfish Reflector (1996)

I was into the Dayton indie rock legends-to-be a lot at the time because they were from where I am from (generally speaking) and because I was able to find an internet e-mail list to feed my interest in all things GBV. I didn't have a computer at home, but I'd go to the library to check my freenet account--two hours of access per 24 hours, thank you--for the daily digest in my inbox. The album in question is a live bootleg (or semi-official release). Being hip to these kinds of records was like knowing a secret, which probably helped stoke my interest, although it didn't hurt that they were at their creative peak at this time too.

9. George DeVore "Standing Right By Me" Austin, Texas Through the Eyes of Terri Herbert (2001)

Yes, it's on my iPod, but I've never heard this before. I bought the album solely for a rare Kelly Willis track (a cover of Gene Clark's "Full Circle Song") and never bothered listening to the rest. (I don't remember exactly how I acquired it, but it may have been among several CDs someone was selling as a lot on eBay.) It was a bit difficult to come across. Since it was an Austin singer-songwriter's tribute to his girlfriend killed in an accident, I don't know if this was even sold outside of Texas. Collecting songs by downloading them just isn't the same.

10. Soundgarden "Switch Opens" Down on the Upside (1996)

Shuffle goes deep again. It may be twelve or thirteen years since I've heard this cut from Soundgarden's final album.

I don't know how representative this sampling is of my musical tastes, but it's certainly eclectic.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009


While I may knit in public--it seems like that's the only time I have for it right now--I know that spotting knitting men in the wild is relatively uncommon. For those of you who don't believe such rare creatures exist, here's a North Dakota news anchor trying his hand at learning to knit. (It's of more interest watched than read, but a text-only version is available too.) Doesn't seem like he enjoyed it much, though.

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Monday, November 02, 2009


It's been slow going, but I believe that things are finally getting back to the way they should be.

Today is one day shy of five weeks since I last had a radio in my car. Five weeks! (Sure, the insurance company didn't assign someone to the matter, but I added several days by purchasing the radio online and then not having the time to take it to get installed.) A new radio is where it belongs, meaning I can drive without humming or singing to keep myself preoccupied.

I came home this evening to find that the heat (or lack thereof) in my apartment was repaired. Initially a maintenance guy felt that there wasn't any problem, but Friday I snagged one who was knocking on a door to another apartment in my building.

I figured I needed to show someone to confirm that I wasn't crazy regarding the cool air that should have been warm coming out of the vents. He agreed that the heat pump wasn't operating as it should and wrote down my concern about the looseness of the thermostat. The heat pump (or whatever) has been fixed. Even better, the thermostat was replaced. I can actually set a temperature without a bunch of give/slippage in the bar used to do so.

I feel like I've been extremely busy and getting battered from all sides, but with these things taken care of, it seems like normalcy is returning. Not for long probably, but I'll take what I can get.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

The 25th hour

Last night or this morning, depending how you want to look at it, clocks fell back one hour. This is the greatest night of the year, especially for the sleep deprived. An extra hour!

The strange thing about this day is that I should be tired earlier in the evening but I'm not. Granted, I slept some this afternoon, but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't be ready to hit the sack when the appropriate hour arrives.

After a week of running hither and yon, it's been strange to have a deliberately uneventful day. The hustle and bustle not only has been quieted but also been replaced with sixty more minutes of inactivity.

My internal clock seems off. No time felt right for anything. For as odd of a day as it has been to experience, it has helped me get some much needed rest. Adjusting to this new rhythm? That will happen soon enough.