Saturday, July 31, 2010


I can't think straight with the jackhammering bass coming from the adjoining apartment, so this photo is all I have today. (I left the apartment for the better portion of the evening because the thought of dealing with this seriously stressed me out.) I think I've figured out that it's a video game rather than music, which may actually be worse. I expect these younger guys will be playing it until the dead of night.


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Friday, July 30, 2010

Holding my breath

For a little more than four months the apartment next to mine was empty. The father and two kids that previously occupied the unit rarely made enough noise for me to hear anything coming through the one shared wall. That is how it should be.

The vacancy wasn't going to last forever, but you better believe I had been enjoying the little bit of extra quiet. I wasn't overjoyed to see someone (or someones) moving in yesterday, but it was inevitable that the apartment would eventually be rented.

It should be noted that aside from those who live below me slamming their door too often for my taste, I've been satisfied with the lack of noise in the other five apartments in this unit during what is now the start of my fourth year here. Worrier that I am, I fear that the relative silence may be coming to an end.

It started last night. Sometimes I sleep on the futon in my living room because the sun pokes through the blinds in my bedroom and into my eyes too early. Such was the case Thursday night. At 3:20 a.m. I was awakened by a barking dog in, you guessed it, my new neighbor's place. That was followed by someone opening and closing the door a few times. Seriously? Eventually the dog quit barking, and I fell back asleep.

Early this evening my neighbor (or neighbors) cranked their stereo so that the subwoofer was audible in every corner of my place. *%@! That low frequency thump is enough to drive me crazy. It did come down some to a level that, if not pleasing to me, is more like a steady rumble in the background than a pulse invading my head. I hate to say that if that's as noisy as it gets, I can deal with it, but it may be the consolation I have to make. The occupant (or one of them) would appear to be someone who likes it loud. His car has an aftermarket muffler that's more like an amplifier--it sends additional noise out the tailpipe--so I'm steeling myself for what I may now have to live with.

One of my hopes is that this new resident or residents will become aware of what kind of volume emanating from the apartment is appropriate. Having been in a bad situation before, I'm not optimistic on that count but we'll see. My other hope is that the people living on the other side and below will make their complaints heard if it comes to that. I certainly don't want to be the lone griper if it comes to me needing to do that.

I've been looking forward to getting out of town for vacation in the near future. That excitement may have increased due to this development. If the noise becomes a regular problem, my knitting productivity may return to what it was in my early knitting days, although I'd rather not return to that situation again.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Out of the past

The other day I received a message on Ravelry from an older lady wanting to know if she knew me. In one of the forums I must have mentioned where I'm originally from. (She must have been searching for that particular place because it certainly isn't mentioned anything I've posted recently.) Since my hometown is a small burg, chances are that she would be acquainted with me.

The sender's profile and the small bits of information in the message didn't give me the slightest clue if this was someone I knew, but I was certain that I would be aware of whoever this turned out to be.

I replied without including my last name, although the piece of verifying information was effectively as revealing. Why did I not provide my last name outright? I don't know. It's not like the message is searchable on the web. I suppose its absence allowed me to sustain that electronic distance between the public me and the secret knitter. I briefly explained my reason for the secrecy, primarily because I figured it seemed weird that I was beating around the bush.

Unsurprisingly, she did know my family. As a matter of fact, her family lived in the neighborhood where our first home was. (We moved within the same small town.) She promised not to mention about the knitting, although I really don't care about that. If anything, I'm probably just making questions multiply in her mind as to what my deal is.

Perhaps me writing "I really don't care about that" about her keeping the secret jumps out at you. Hey bud, look at your name, right? Let me clarify then.

At this point my interest in remaining secret pertains to my online presence and my job. I like the relative anonymity of writing about whatever under a pseudonym, although it's more about not having my name linked to this blog than what I'm saying. For regular readers and those at knit night, I don't think my identity is exactly a mystery, and I'm fine with that. The search engines and spiders don't need to know, though.

As for keeping it from my co-workers and the students, I've softened on my original hardline stance of complete silence when it comes to my knitting. That doesn't mean anything has changed. It's not something I've shared, nor do I plan to bring it up. On the other hand, it wouldn't be mentally and emotionally catastrophic if the secret were to slip. I think part of that is due to the mood of the place now, although if word did get out, I suspect it would just make me seem weirder. Then again, maybe I overestimate how offbeat I am perceived as being there.

Of course, getting that Ravelry mail from someone out of the past (and out of the blue) cuts straight to the reason for having a layer of secrecy. If I want the information divulged, it's on my terms. Please tell me that doesn't make me a control freak.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Afternoon drive

Growing up I was a big fan of Gary Burbank and his afternoon radio show on 700 WLW in Cincinnati. Listening to an AM talk radio station is probably a weird thing for a kid to do, but I thought Burbank was funny.

I worked at the family business after junior high and high school classes, so having his show on for those couple hours--add an extra one when I worked in the summer--helped make the time pass faster. The only problem, as I saw it, was getting pulled away from listening to attend to a customer.

Essentially Burbank did a comedy show. The program featured several bits with recurring characters. Satirical riffs on news and sports dominated the segments, but there were also sillier pieces, like Gilbert Gnarley ("G-n-a-r-l-e-y"), an old man character who made crank calls.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that this was my favorite and that I attempted my own version of this routine once for a college radio show. I think I called a hot line for Duncan Hines or Pillsbury.

My favorite feature on each day's show was Sports or Consequences, a sports trivia call-in show (sort of) at 4:00 p.m. If I learned anything from all those hours of listening, it was the words "minutiae", which I guessed was spelled "manusha", and "aficionado". The latter word I got to through the program's portmanteau "saficionado", which I'm going to guess was their word for sports aficionado.

I also was taught not to ask questions worded like this: "Can you name the all-time leading home run hitter in Major League Baseball?" Callers who phrased their queries in such a way received the correct answer--"yes"--and being on the receiving end of a sound effect blowing them up.

Some friends and I even visited the studio one day during Sports or Consequences, although there isn't much to say about the experience because we were seriously late due to getting lost. (We made it for the last ten minutes of a half hour show.)

These days I don't expect that there are very many people doing what Burbank, his co-host, and writers did. It's certainly easier to take calls or ramble about the hot issues of the day to fill the minutes than to prep all of the bits they did.

That being said, I've finally started downloading and listening to podcasts of The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling and have been delighted and amused by it like my younger self was by Burbank. The shows don't necessarily have much in common beyond the medium and focus on humor and entertainment, but Scharpling's show has reminded me what it is like to be riveted to a radio program. It's been so much fun this past week keeping the podcasts on heavy rotation while I'm in the car and even sometimes while at home.

If you're curious about who I've written about today, there are a few videos about Burbank and the show. Here's an interesting conversation about Burbank's influences, such as Bob and Ray and Monty Python, and his process.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open call

All right, so I've been sitting here looking for and turning over fodder for today's blog entry. I've come up dry except for one idea, but I'll need to be less sleepy to address it.

That means I'm throwing open the comments for your questions and/or suggested topics. Granted, they were never closed, but consider this an invitation to make your requests heard. (Disclaimer: the author reserves the right to answer only those things he sees fit.)

I don't expect this open call to produce an avalanche of queries and suggestions, but if so, my intention is to dole out answers over an extended period of time. I don't plan on being empty every day.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Where there's a will

It's amazing what one can find when pressed into daily blogging duty and not having anything of your own worth writing about. For instance, there's another celebrity to add to the list of knitters: Will Forte.

That interview is a few years old, but it would seem that he's stuck with it, at least a little. Who knew?

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Knit 2 together

Say you like knitting and want to incorporate it into your wedding.

Hey, if that's what you want to do...


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knits for a nephew

Knitted Newborn Hat

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic; worsted weight)
Colors: 14 and 16 (Baby blue and Silver Blue)
Needles: US 8 circulars
Stitches: 54

I've finished another baby hat for my brother and sister-in-law. Gotta get a jump on this stuff before the baby arrives, right?

I suppose baby socks are next. And maybe, just maybe, I'll actually knit a baby sweater.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer in the city

For the past year or so I've been reading about the food trucks popping up around Columbus. I've been curious to try them, but either I've not known where they are or am not usually in the areas where they set up shop when it's mealtime. A friend clued me in that one of these is in the vicinity of somewhere I frequently am, so I made a point to check out El Manantial Latino.

Although it was suppertime, I wasn't extremely hungry, so I just ordered two tacos, one with asada and one with pollo, and a bottle of pineapple soda to keep me fueled for the rest of the night. Total cost: $4.50. I took a seat on a stool at the counter, and shortly thereafter the tacos came off the grill as sizzling as today's high temperature and were placed before me. Yeah, it didn't take long to clean them up. Good stuff.

I still had some soda remaining, so I took the bottle with me as I made my way toward my destination. Walking in the steamy early evening with some hot, fresh food in my stomach and a cold bottle in my hand just felt like what summer in the city is or should be like.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

No joke

Gotta make this quick today. In this instance, four words say it all: toilet-themed restaurant chain.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg was pitching for the Washington Nationals in Cincinnati tonight, so that gave me an excuse to drive down to see what kind of stuff he has.

Complicating matters was the issue of potential inclement weather. The Reds and Nationals had faced rain delays the previous two days, and precipitation was in the forecast for this evening. I didn't mind the possibility of getting wet. After all, I take a poncho. What I was worried about was a very long rain delay, like the one in excess of two and a half hours on Tuesday evening. There simply was no way I could foresee myself driving two hours to return home if I wouldn't be getting to my car until nearly 1 a.m.

So I checked my preferred hotel and found that the rate was pretty good. Then I got to thinking, well, maybe I ought to go ahead and stay the night regardless. If I do that, I can go to the game on Thursday afternoon too! Thus began roughly 24 hours of mental seesawing.

Go ahead, you can afford it, and you know you want to do it. Plus, it's probably not a bad idea to get a hotel as a precaution rather than risk driving home tired. You know you'd like to see the pitcher the Reds are trotting out on Thursday. And don't forget, you could eat breakfast at that pancake place that you didn't get to appreciate fully last time because you ordered the wrong thing...

Yeah, but it seems kind of extravagant to do this so soon after being down here about a month ago for three games and two nights. Plus, I'll see the Reds again soon enough when I catch them in Chicago. While there is merit to the idea of checking into a hotel and getting to bed before midnight rather than arriving home really late, what if I'm not tired? And I shouldn't be eating the kind of breakfast I know I'll order if I go there...

Back and forth I went. I'll stay. No, I'll drive home. Well, maybe I ought to stay. Nope, I can make it back. I even did this throughout the game and on the mile or so walk to my car.

As it turned out, the rain held off, but the game did run kind of long. I reached the parking lot and got behind the wheel a little after 11 p.m. I was tired, but I also felt like I was probably alert enough that a hotel wasn't necessary. Fine. Let's head home. It's not like the Nationals are an attractive opponent anyway.

Truthfully, my internal waffling might have made the experience more enjoyable. The idea of having the freedom to decide on a whim that I'd take off work the next day was a pleasant one. I also liked knowing that I'd given myself pre-approval to stay overnight if the situation merited it. (It's been kind of an exhausting week, and I expected to be more tired.)

But I still wish I would be setting out for the ball park late tomorrow morning.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Second best

I really need to expand on this thought at another time, but it's late and I'm scrounging about for something to post today, so half-formed thoughts will have to suffice for the time being.

Maybe it's the non-conformist or contrarian in me, but I've always had a soft spot for secondary singles in pop music, especially if the artists aren't known for many hits. The song in question may be the follow-up release to a massive success, or it might just be one that goes mostly unremembered when a subsequent tune becomes a smash.

For instance, a-ha will always be known for "Take On Me". It's the song and video from the Norwegian band that you can guarantee will be played during any program looking back at the '80s. While their second single didn't duplicate a climb to the top of the charts, peaking at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 isn't too shabby. But do you know "The Sun Always Shines on T.V."?

I won't go so far as to call it superior, but it's a pretty good pop song in its own right. Through the years it just never had a chance to get out of the shadow of that first single and its landmark video.

And I haven't even mentioned their James Bond theme song. I had to stumble upon it to remember that they recorded it. That the song failed to chart in the U.S. probably explains why. I may not have heard it since 1987.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Radio shock

Anyone the least bit plugged into the Columbus music scene or local radio knew Andyman, the longtime CD101 DJ and program director. So it came as a complete shock to find out this morning that he died on Sunday at the age of 42.

For out-of-town readers, CD101 is a locally owned radio station that plays alternative rock. While I'm happy to quibble with what they play and don't play, I'm also well aware that in this day and age the station is a rarity. It isn't cookie cutter. It continues to play music in a format that has been abandoned by most commercial stations. It excels at localism, a concept merely given lip service by a lot of stations these days. By all appearances, the station is a labor of love.

That passion for the music and the community was best embodied in Andyman. He always seemed like a good-natured and generous guy. If the stories about him that people are sharing online and on the radio are any indication, it wasn't just an image. He was who he presented himself to be. Is it any surprise that he was one of the most visible and popular DJs in the city?

I didn't know him personally, but I did see him around town at concerts on a fairly regular basis. The last time I saw him he was standing at the gates saying hello to folks and (probably) passing out promotional stuff to those leaving the My Morning Jacket concert in May.

Even though I can't give an expansive remembrance of interacting with him, I do have a small story about Andyman that perhaps is a reflection of who he was. As you know, I was in a car accident while headed home after the canceled St. Vincent concert in February. I tweeted about the accident from the scene. Since I'm pretty sure Andyman wasn't following my Twitter account, I'm not exactly sure how he came across this news, but he sent a message to me asking if I was OK.

My best guess is that he was monitoring what the twitterstream was saying in the wake of the show being called off at the last minute--the station may have been a sponsor for the concert--and I just happened to use the magic words. (In this case that was probably the artist's name.) Still, what need did he have to follow up with someone he didn't know and about an incident he had nothing to do with? Apparently he felt a need, and I appreciated the gesture. I responded to let him know that I was OK, and that was the end of it.

There's no big, dramatic conclusion to the story, but I feel like this anecdote is at least a little revealing--the tip of the iceberg--about who he was. If he'd share his concern for a stranger in this way, imagine what those who did know him must have experienced.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Round and round

One more day of weekend full of blog filler...

I present what might best be termed a bicycle cozy.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Enjoy the silence

I have nothing to say today, so enjoy the silence.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

A quick one

Catching up with three films and some knitting in public...that was my Friday. So, since I'm nearly nodding off, let's be quick about this blog entry and tie it all together.

One of the films I saw was about street art and the elusive street artist Banksy. I happened to catch a little bit of knitting in one of his pieces. You may get a kick out of it.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot seat

As a partial season ticket holder for the local NHL franchise, I was invited to attend a private question and answer session with the new head coach, the general manager, and team president. The season ticket holders in attendance had the opportunity to direct questions to these guys. While I thought the event was unlikely to yield much in the way of information I didn't know, I thought it might be interesting to check out once.

One thing you need to understand is that the team has had very little success on the ice in its ten years. They've made the playoffs only once and followed that achievement last season with a large amount of backsliding and the fourth worst record in the league. The team has made it known that it is losing millions every year, something due in part to the way their arena deal is structured. (Voters rejected issues to build an arena, so one was constructed with private money.) Neither free agency nor trades have been used to address a couple of roster holes that have been present for years.

Needless to say, the fan base isn't exactly thrilled with how things are going, and boy did some of those people let these three guys hear it at this season ticket holder Q&A. To be fair, some of them have sunk thousands of dollars into tickets over the years, so I can understand where their pent-up frustration comes from. Their pointed remarks and questions were angry but basically civil, but I couldn't help but feel for the guys on the platform, especially the coach hired within the last month. At times they might as well have been facing a firing squad.

I don't know what the questioners expected to hear. Did they really think the front office executives would shift from answers given repeatedly to reporters? Did they really think that their opinions on contracts and player performance would make a bit of difference? It was, for a time, like a newspaper comment section or fan message board brought to life, with the lone exception being that some of the people being knocked about were there to accept the verbal lashes. (Actually, it was similar to what you'll see at school board and city council meetings when there's an issue that has an impassioned group up in arms.)

I'm a serious sports fan and want the teams I support to do well, but I can't imagine being so worked up to vent face-to-face to team officials or to think they'll be weighing my advice on personnel decisions. Maybe it's just reading what is written online, but sports fans in general seem disproportionately mad when things don't go the way they think they should, as though games and management are conducted by computer calculations that always match projections. I suspect fantasy sports has distorted perspectives and depersonalized what is already a great divide between those in the stands and those on the playing surfaces.

Not all of those asking questions were as accusatory or upset as the initial folks, and things eventually simmered down during the ninety-minute session. I have to give a lot of credit to the team's representatives for being unflappable under the circumstances and facing another round of season ticket holders the following evening. In the end, I did learn a few things about what's going on with the team that hadn't yet appeared in the newspaper, so it was worth the drive downtown.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stay positive

The songs of The Hold Steady are about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, yet seeing them in concert tonight felt more like attending a church revival. The crowd was shouting out Craig Finn's lyrics in sync with the lead singer as though following congregational readings from the bulletin. ("The sing-along songs will be our Scriptures" indeed.)

Finn's rousing performance was suffused with joy and a connection to the audience, the likes of which you'd expect from a preacher in a tent trying to whip the attendees into a frenzy and save souls. There were calls and responses and mirroring of Finn's motions. I would not have been surprised if one guy near me had started speaking in tongues. He was that into it, and he wasn't alone. Not to be overly clever, but one could claim The Hold Steady put on a charismatic performance in general and religious terms.

To be sure, this religious-like fervor doesn't emerge out of the blue. Catholicism recurs throughout Finn's writing, as does the redemptive power of music and communion with fellow rockers. ("Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor, and listen to your records" goes the song the gives their latest album its title.)

Nevertheless, it was fairly remarkable to be in an audience that was so passionately locked in on interacting this way with the band. I'm a bit of a latecomer to the group--I got on board with 2008's Stay Positive--and not as closely familiar with the three earlier albums. (I've not heard their debut at all.) The energy surging between musicians and audience more than made up for my knowledge gaps while enjoying The Hold Steady tear through their catalog with abandon.

It seems to me that "We Can Get Together", the song referenced two paragraphs above, condenses what appears to be the band's mission statement, if rock groups were to have such things. Finn--and I attribute this to him since he writes the lyrics--wants to experience the spiritual through rock music and make a space for others to share in that. If this evening's ecstatic concert is indicative of what they are capable of doing, The Hold Steady can consider themselves successful.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Knit flick

I came across the stop-motion animated film The Little Red Plane and thought it was worth sharing. While the short isn't about knitting, it certainly features a lot of it. The knitters even get special mention in the credits.

As the filmmaker notes on the short's YouTube page, she made it while at university, so chances are this was a project for class. I say, job well done.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Gourmet knits

Food and knitting intersect in some cute projects.

Is that all I have to say today? Yes, I believe it is.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby blue

Knitted Newborn Hat

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic; worsted weight)
Colors: 14 and 16 (French blue and baby blue)
Needles: US 8 circulars
Stitches: 54

OK, so there's an FO for the future nephew.

I do believe it's the finest baby hat I've ever made. No ladders, no obvious beginning of the cast on row, and no apparent spot on the right side where I switched yarn. Even the decreases and crown look a little better knit than can sometimes be the case.

I've knit a lot of hats. Getting reacquainted with the baby hat allowed me to put that knowledge to use and make a really nice item. I'm thrilled with it and I expect my brother and sister-in-law will be too.

What I'm less thrilled about is this notion of other people in my family calling me "uncle". When my nephew arrives and is capable of talking, I'm fine with the kid referring to me by that word. I'm not so cool with my dad putting it before my name. Maybe it's the way that he said it--OK, that's part of, if not entirely, the issue--but I didn't like what I heard.

It's sort of like having students address me as Mr. (last name). It doesn't sound right to my ear. That being said, few students do this, and those who do are informed right away that that there is no need to be formal.

This is a hang-up I'm going to have to get over, isn't it?

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Saturday, July 10, 2010


Knitted Newborn Hat

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

The pattern for this hat is lost in the corners of the internet, so this is my improvised version of it. I have made others, but it's been a couple years. Apparently, though, I knit most of the previous ones flat and then would mostly ruin them with the seaming. WHAT?! So this FO is a reminder of how I've improved through the years. It was an easy knit even without a pattern.

For this baby hat I decided to get rid of the garter stitch ornamentation. I'm not opposed to the detail; it just didn't interest me for this project.

My biggest questions were how big should I make it and how should I decrease. I checked a couple of other patterns and didn't come up with a consistent answer on length. I went with 3.75 inches before beginning the decreases. As for those decreases, I began by k7 and then k2tog. I decreased for two rounds and then knit a round. It's standard stuff, so I don't know why I thought I needed to reference anything else.

The pink yarn used for this hat and others is almost used up. (It also went toward a not-so-great pair of baby socks that I couldn't justify actually giving to someone.) I suppose it's irrelevant that I've almost run out because I learned today that brother and sister-in-law will be having a boy around Thanksgiving. I had known when the child would be arriving, just not what its gender will be. Now I can begin knitting for him. Maybe a baby sweater will be in the offing, finally.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

On the road

Inevitably, it seems, I do not take simple summer vacations, at least if there's any kind of travel involved. It's not like I usually have anything in end. More often than not a piece becomes clear, and then others are built around it.

For instance, the first summer vacation I took had me driving to Glen Rose, Texas, where I visited a friend. From there I went south to Austin, a city I'd been fascinated with but hadn't had the opportunity to see until I planned this trip. It was then time to turn around and head north for the two-day drive to South English, Iowa. My mom was out there working for a year. After ten nights on the road I returned home.

There have been other patently ridiculous journeys, like the one whose first stop was in Toronto and last destination was in the Washington, D.C. area. Last summer took me from Birmingham, Alabama to two Arkansas stops and St. Louis, Missouri before winding up with family in northern Indiana.

This summer's vacation was looking like a more traditional itinerary. I'm going on a week-long family vacation to northern Minnesota. There's an overnight stop in Minneapolis-St. Paul on the way up and a to be determined resting point on the way back, but otherwise we'll be in the same location for a week. How novel.

I've ended up tacking onto it, though. Since my parents live within relative proximity to the train to Chicago, I'm going to have a mini-vacation of my own before we all embark north. The way things have worked out, my dad and I are going to go over for the day and see the Reds and Cubs play at Wrigley Field. I'll return to Chicago the next day and meet up with a longtime friend--we first met in junior high--whom I haven't seen in several years. And just like that I'm going to one day of Lollapalooza.

But that's not the end of it. About a week and a half after we return from Minnesota I may be combining business and pleasure to drive to Maine. The details haven't been hashed out, but I'm fairly certain the northeastern leg of my vacation is going to happen.

I've reached the point in the summer when I'm beyond due for taking these trips, yet there's also enjoyment to be drawn from imagining what might take place during my travels. From this perspective it all seems so bizarre. In x days I'll be attending a huge outdoor concert in the middle of one of the country's largest cities, and less than a month from then I could be in the middle of Maine?

As with my other treks, I may ask myself, well, how did I get here? Of course the places I've visited have been planned destinations. I'm not driving and seeing where the road takes me. Nevertheless, the fun comes from not having a clear master plan at first and marveling how it all falls into place. I've definitely made memorable vacations out of unconventional itineraries.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Small updates

Keeping it brief today...

A couple commenters have provided answers I requested regarding toe up socks. I'm kind of feeling like starting them this weekend, but we'll see if that actually happens.

The Toe-Up Sock Pattern Generator looks like a helpful tool, although when I glanced at it the other day I thought it mentioned some kind of provisional cast on and one that's done with crochet. To that I say "boo", but I'm just being difficult.

The same goes for my question about baby hat sizes and decreases. I did check out a couple different patterns earlier today so that I could make up the rest of what I need to do. I just wasn't feeling like doing that last night when I posted. (And the help via comments is appreciated, especially since you all often have firsthand knowledge) Basically, it comes down to somebody is feeling overwhelmed, tired, and/or in need of vacation. That would be me.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I've started knitting a baby hat I've made multiple times. It's been two years since I last made one of them, though. Wouldn't you know it, the pattern is no longer online. It's possible I have a copy of it around here somewhere, but the chances of me finding it in the immediate future are not good. What to do, what to do?

Luckily my blog entries include the number of stitches and needles size. I know what the hat looks like, so I can wing it...up to a point. What I'm unsure of is size. How big should this be before I start decreasing? How do I decrease? (I know in the general sense, obviously. Maybe the question I mean to ask is regarding the type of decrease.)

Anybody have any thoughts or tips? I figure I have 33% finished. That last third could be a real adventure.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hot hot heat

You may know firsthand or have heard that it is hot in this part of the country. We didn't hit triple digits here, but the temperature tipped north of ninety, which is hot enough. The messaging signs above the interstate indicated that an air quality alert was the order of the day. That's just for old folks and kids, right?

I still wanted to get my exercise in, so even though it was 5 p.m., surely one of the hottest times of the day, I set out on the path around the park. Usually I'll do three trips keeping mostly to the park's perimeter. That route takes me around an hour to complete, including time walking to and from home.

I felt good after the first lap but also was cognizant of the heat. Mercy, it was hot. Not humid, just very warm. As I got into the second lap I could tell that the heat was wearing me down faster. Tired and soaking wet, I gladly called it quits after the second go-round. When I got home I saw that two laps had taken about the same amount of time as three typically do.

Moral of the story: pay attention to those air quality alerts. While I felt like I was functioning fine, I was going slower than usual to compensate. Also, although I prefer to carry as little as possible, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to bring some water along.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Toes up

Let's talk toe up socks.

I've made two pairs of top down socks, both of which are wearable but have some minor problems that could likely be fixed by going the toe up route. (The first pair is a little loose. The cuffs on the second pair are a little tight.) I have fingering weight and worsted weight yarn, so patterns for either are acceptable.

At this point I'm going to avoid knitting two at a time. I'm not that experienced at sock knitting, and those I did make were knit nearly two years ago. I expect there's going to be a learning (or relearning) curve with whatever I end up selecting. I'm more comfortable taking incremental steps with this than giant leaps.

I'm looking for a basic--read: boring--pattern. Maybe this tool is what I'm looking for, but I know I have some knowledgeable sock knitters reading who might know exactly what I am seeking.


Sunday, July 04, 2010


It's atypical for me to have the 4th of July off, but the Independence Day activity I have to cover every year was moved to the 3rd because the holiday fell on a Sunday. Or so I'm guessing. It's been weird to see how so many places just shifted their celebrations up or back a day as if the specific day was just a suggestion. Whatever the reasoning, I'll take the rare chance to enjoy the national holiday and rest up.

All in all, it was a pretty boring day from the outside looking in. I saw a mediocre movie, watched baseball on TV, went for an hour-long walk, and viewed a DVD from the stack of freebies I've accumulated. Actually, from the inside looking out it was fairly unexciting but that's OK. At least the day was mine to make boring.

Here's hoping you enjoyed the holiday and (at least for some of us) the one we're being extended from work tomorrow.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Steel City

I've spent very little time in Pittsburgh and can't say I have much of an impression of it other than the conventional wisdom of the Steel City being an old, run down industrial city. Imagine my surprise as I briefly walked the streets around the convention center and cultural district. This part of downtown has a funky, architecturally diverse look.

The old buildings stacked side by side are like books on a shelf, coming in a variety of appearances and sizes.

Weathered evidence of long-abandoned tenants give the buildings a lot of character.

Some parts reminded me of downtown Cleveland if it were better maintained. (In defense of my neighbor to the northeast, I haven't seen a lot of that city by foot.)

This little park was a beautiful surprise. It's just so incongruous with what's around it.

See how much more visually appealing and distinguished that old building is compared to its more modern neighbors?

Some new architecture attracts the eye, though. The building above has a different look lit up at night.

Who knew Pittsburgh has such an interesting downtown?

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Pitt Stop

When my dad mentioned that he and my mom would be in Pittsburgh for a church conference and that he was thinking of going to the Friday night Pirates game, I told him that I'd drive over to go with him as long as I could crash in their hotel room. Hard as it is for me to believe, it's been nine years since I last went to a game at PNC Park. (I attended the first official game there in 2001. My visiting Reds spoiled the party for the locals.) Assured that there was an available spot on the floor--my parents are sharing the room with another couple--I hopped in the car and made the relatively easy three hours-plus drive for what would be about seventeen hours in the Steel City.

For many people it's easier to park in downtown and walk on the Roberto Clemente Bridge to get to the stadium. Our walk from the hotel allowed me to get a brief glimpse of the interesting architecture and cool city views that Pittsburgh offers (or at least the cultural district that I saw). I'll leave those pictures and thoughts for Saturday's post, though.

Pittsburgh has a storied baseball history, but the past two decades have not been kind to the franchise. The Pirates are the owners of a dubious record. They've had losing seasons for seventeen consecutive years and look to be on their way to adding another to it. (Keep in mind that this is the longest such streak among all MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA teams.) With as much as the Pirates have rebuilt during these recent years, it seems unlikely that anyone on the field tonight might ever join the likes of the Willie Stargell with a statue outside the stadium.

The team's lack of success meant good seats could be had for great price. While waiting in the ticket line we were approached by a guy looking to unload tickets in the second most expensive section of the ballpark. Just like that my dad and I were sitting in the club level--padded seats, extra leg room, access to interior concession stands, restrooms, and lounges--or more than half off. Since the in-state rivals Philadelphia Phillies were the opponent and the weather was ridiculously great for being outside in July, the game was really well attended, but the secondary market was still in the buyer's favor.

PNC Park affords one of the best views in Major League Baseball. The Allegheny River, Clemente Bridge and the Pittsburgh skyline rests behind the outfield wall. If the game ever lags--we lucked out and saw a good one--you can always take a look at how downtown's appearance changes as the sun sets and lights come on.

With no vested interest in the teams on the field and no fear that the Pirates might make a run at my first place Reds, I decided to adopt the hometown squad for the evening. They sure could use it as the place sounded like a Phillies home game at times. Several clusters of red shirts dominated the lower bowl. The Pirates fans in yellow had a couple pockets up in the more distant corners of the park. That's liable to be the case when a team is this woeful.

Of the newer retro-style ballparks, PNC Park surely is one of the better ones. It's a shame the Pirates haven't been able to do right by their fans for such a long time because this is a really nice stadium with a stunning backdrop.

(Posted a day after the fact because I didn't have a computer with me and the iPhone will apparently only let me type in a title and labels.)

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Joan of Needlearts

News came across the ol' twitterstream today that Mad Men's Christina Hendricks is a knitter. Clearly this needs to be worked into the show.

While searching for articles that might have a little more than a passing reference to her knitting, I stumbled upon this days-old piece that reveals the actress is modeling a knit scarf for sale on Etsy.

But let me guess, this has been all over Ravelry for a long time, and I'm just out of the loop.

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