Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wound up

I had the best of intentions. If I'm going to make a pair of socks for myself with this yarn, I will need to do the unthinkable and knit a gauge swatch. First, though, I need to convert it from skein form into a ball.

And that's where I made the first mistake.

After a half hour of trying to untangle it and making an unholy mess of knots, I put it aside and tried with another skein. This one was more cooperative, at least at first, but before long the knots began to appear as I wound this by hand. In other words, I was doing this without a ball winder.

The folly of my efforts devoured the late afternoon and early evening. Eventually I had to make a cut in the yarn because I didn't have much wound and might literally spend hours trying to finish it if I didn't make a judicious snip. I should also point out that with the skein draped over my knees, the winding ball to my right, and the other end of what I was working with to my left, I was in no position to get up. I needed to turn a light on, but I didn't dare get up and create more tangles. If the phone were to ring, I wasn't going to get it.

After cutting the yarn, the next bit went easier, although it would still periodically bunch up and require me to be careful in pulling the strand through and not make more knots. As I got close to the end of winding 492 yards of sock yarn, the knots came back in full force. There still more to be wound to finish this skein, but I couldn't do it any more tonight.

In total, I spent about three and a half hours winding. One skein is mostly wound. Another is a disaster zone. You could say that I lost my desire for doing any knitting tonight.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Second verse, same as the first

The story is pretty much the same. Man knits in public. People look on with a certain degree of amusement. Man doesn't really care what the others think. Oh, by the way, did you know that knitting was originally a male activity?

All right, so I've read more than my share of men who knit stories like this one. There's nothing inherently wrong with this piece or the many others like it. I'm just amused by how all of them unwittingly follow the template.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eight-legged freaks

Since it's Halloween weekend, why don't you check out this octopus that dresses up as other sea creatures? Truth is stranger than fiction yet again.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or treat

Has Halloween always been a big thing for adults, or is it a more recent phenomenon? I ask on what is Beggar's Night in most local communities here. (I was at a hockey game, so no, I was not home and giving out candy or keeping the place dark to avoid trick or treaters.)

The last time I recall dressing up for Halloween was in junior high. I went trick or treating with some friends. I seem to remember feeling vaguely embarrassed that we were too old to be doing this. I don't think I've ever put on a costume for the holiday since.

When I was a college freshman I went to Athens, Ohio to see what the hubbub was all about for the infamous Halloween party that fills the streets around Ohio University, but I didn't dress up for it. (I also was probably one of the few without a drop of alcohol in me.) Honestly, seeing that mess once was plenty for me.

It seems like I'm behind the curve on Halloween for adults, which appears to be something of a big deal, not that I really feel like I'm missing out. Do I not have the "right" friends, or am I too lame? Possibly. But I don't recall my parents or other adults doing Halloween stuff when I was growing up. Then again, that might not be the right sample.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I admit that I usually don't do a great job of keeping my place in a pristine state of cleanliness. Add it to the list of shortcomings.

Anyway, there is some motivation to pick up when a note from the rental office is left on the door that someone will be in my apartment to change the furnace filter the next day. I found that on my doorknob today, so my energies have been directed to literal housekeeping this evening.

I really wish I didn't have to go into emergency mode in these situations, but I haven't learned yet. Maybe next time.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For small feet

Super Quick Baby Socks

Yarn: Dark Horse Yarns-Fantasy (50% nylon, 50% acrylic; worsted weight)
Colorway: 15 (Silver Blue)
Needles: US 7 dpns
Stitches: 24

The sock on the left doesn't have holes at the ankle, but I sort of horsed up the toe. I forgot that I knit the first three stitches to put half of them on one needle when preparing for the Kitchener stitch. Instead I slipped stitches until the yarn was at the end. That resulted in more of a vertically stitched toe.

The sock on the right has the toe fixed, but I didn't pick up the stitches quite as well. Thus there is the appearance of holes of a sort at those spots.

These baby socks are otherwise fine. Still, I promise to do better next time.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Unconventional frogging

Cats left alone + knitting project = catastrophe. (OK, or cat-astrophe.)

The scale of destruction caused by the cats in this video is impressive. Surprisingly, the owner sounds pretty calm about it.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An eye toward the holidays

My brother and sister-in-law are expecting a baby boy around Thanksgiving. For my family this means Christmas will be spent in Texas. I look forward to seeing my first nephew and getting out of town for about a week. I'm also steeling myself for the trials I foresee on the horizon.

This week I booked my flights into and out of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Aside from finding a ride to Port Columbus to leave town, I've taken control of what little is in my power. There's a whole lot that isn't.

Since there isn't room at my brother and sister-in-law's place for the five of us heading south--it isn't big enough, and her mother may be staying there anyway--we need to find a hotel. I've pointed my parents toward a couple places that can accommodate us at a reasonable price, will be close to my brother's condo and the airport, and permits pets. Yes, my parents are bringing their dog on the drive from Indiana, even though I know my brother and his wife wish they wouldn't. (In fairness, it would be difficult to ask someone else to watch after the dog over Christmas.)

Of course, what do they care if the dog won't be in their home or near the baby? Maybe they have no vested interest, but it turns out that I do. Hotels won't allow a dog to be left alone in the room, so this means at all times someone would need to hang back at the hotel. The latest I've heard is that my dad is now looking into cabins for our lodging, primarily for the ease of leaving the dog behind, although who knows where and how tight those quarters might be.

While the family vacation I decided to go on this past summer generally got by without everyone getting on each others' nerves, I'm already sensing that this Christmas trip is going to be different. I have half a mind to talk to one of my two other brothers and book a room where I want with him, although I know that won't fly. Plus, neither of us will have a car.

Whatever happens, it should be interesting. Let's just hope that it is in a positive way.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan are better known with their previous groups rather than as a duo that has now recorded three albums. Campbell was in Belle and Sebastian when the Scottish indie chamber pop collective was burnishing its cult reputation. Lanegan fronted Screaming Trees, which was one of the Seattle bands that gained prominence when there was an appetite for everything grunge. Belle and Sebastian means more to me than Screaming Trees--their albums Sweet Oblivion and Dust deserve fresh ears, though--so I was more excited to see Campbell in what promised to be an interesting concert Thursday night.

Their vocal contrast is quite pronounced. Lanegan possesses a gravelly voice capable of hard rock bellowing. Campbell's hushed, wispy voice sounds as if she's trying to tell you a secret and not let anyone else hear. The stage lighting emphasized this lightness and darkness, with Campbell in a bright spotlight and Lanegan looking like a younger Tom Waits shrouded in the dark or painted with red light.

Their approximately 90-minute set plus encore featured the slinky, often dark-toned songs that would feel at home in a lounge late at night. Backed by four musicians--Campbell occasionally played her cello and added some percussion--the two had their sides of the stage staked out, yet the physical distance between them vanished in their restrained and intimate singing. It was a striking example of how affecting the quiet can be as sheer power.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm going to postpone today's intended blogging topic until tomorrow. In its place is something that has been on my mind.

I've written about the intense amount of stress I've been under for about the last month, so I won't go into detail with all that again. Suffice it to say that the work uncertainty and pressures coupled with the noise from the neighboring apartment was a bad combination.

It wasn't enough that I felt lousy. I was also letting my tendency to worry get the best of me. Some pains had me half convinced that maybe I was having some heart problems. A couple spots on my chest surely were indications of some kind of skin cancer. Did I really believe what I would let my imagination concoct? Not necessarily, but I was concerned enough to schedule an appointment to see the doctor. I probably haven't had a regular appointment--in other words, not a follow-up--in something like twenty years. That should say all there is to say about my fear.

My two main concerns proved to be unfounded. My EKG was described as textbook. The doctor's conclusion--and my suspicion when I was being rational--is that muscle tightness in my shoulder is responsible for the pain I've had off and on. The moles (or whatever) are nothing to be worried about. We'll see if the blood work results turn up anything, but my expectation is that they will not.

I had already started to feel a little better after scheduling the appointment, and gradually I've been feeling more "normal" as the work news became less worrisome (which isn't to guarantee it will remain that way). I've had three days where it seems like I'm OK or like I expect to be.

The obvious conclusion then is that I worried myself into feeling bad. I'm not surprised by this--I felt like a wreck long enough--but I am taken aback that my state of mind can have such a profound affect on my physical comfort. If ever there was a lesson about fretting, this was one.

Obviously it's easier said than done when it comes to acknowledging that I should worry less. Old, deeply ingrained habits are hard to break, but if there's anything I've learned today or in the past week, it's that I need to let go of those fears. I'm not doing myself any favors otherwise.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Work in progress

Last Wednesday marked four years since I learned to knit. Today marks four years since I started this blog. Wherever has the time gone, and do the thousands of words typed during these years amount to anything?

When I began I posted on a consistent basis, and it wasn't long before I was blogging every day, sometimes more successfully than others. I've been publishing content every day on the calendar since March 25, 2007. What has it been good for? Maybe not much more than letting me empty out my brain, keep track of what I've been working on, and getting questions answered. This isn't art. It was started as an outlet for my secret knitting and remains an outlet, just not entirely one that it was envisioned to be.

I do feel an obligation to stay "on topic" even if there are stretches when it may seem that I don't. Hopefully you find that stuff interesting (or not actively annoying). Heads up. Friday I'll be writing about the Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan concert I attended tonight.

The nom de blog remains because it grants me more freedom than if I wrote under my given name. The only secret knitting I do these days pertains to the office. They don't know there, although even that compartmentalizing may no longer be as essential as I once felt it must be. If anything, this blog is a bigger obstacle to revealing my knitting secret than the needlecraft.

Anyway, thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Say cheese

Yesterday at work my photograph was needed for a brochure. No big deal, right? Well, I guess it's nothing, other than the fact that I am not crazy about having my picture taken, especially when it requires lining up as in front of a firing squad.

I was going to try and track down a photo of myself that I could live with, but I didn't have the time and had to have a new one taken. I insisted that I didn't want to see the shots and would leave the decision of which to use to the person who snapped the pictures. Is that jerk-like behavior? Probably.

I'm not sure when or why my aversion to being photographed began, but it isn't a recent development. I can recall this being something that extends as far back at least to the day of my high school graduation.

I suppose this hang-up has something to do with vanity and lack of self-confidence, which would seem to be a contradiction. Factor in an aspect of what I do for a living to make this even more irrational. Yet there I am, preferring not to have my picture taken if I can help it.

Maybe it's as simple as I'm uncomfortable having to pose for the camera. It doesn't feel natural to me. In turn, this probably doesn't lead to good photographs. And so the vicious cycle repeats.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I want the world to stop

Too tired to blog today. I can totally get behind the sentiment expressed in this Belle and Sebastian song title.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 18, 2010


See? No hole at the ankle! There's no hole on the other side too.

How did I do this? When I picked up stitches, I picked up high on the side but not from the strand being stretched between needles. It occurred to me that picking up there pulls down on it and thus creates a hole. I'm no genius for figuring this out--and it remains to be seen if I can repeat this success--but it fixes a problem I've encountered in sock knitting.

The toe is a little wonky because prior to doing the Kitchener stitch I moved three stitches from needle 1 to needle 2 and three from needle 2 to needle 3. (Needles 1 and 3 were then combined to have two needles for grafting.) I did this because you're supposed to stop knitting after needle 3, but that leaves the yarn hanging between the three stitches on one needle. I couldn't remember what I've done in the past--knit the three remaining stitches on needle one before doing the Kitchener stitch?--so I thought I'd try this out. I'm not sure it was the right idea.

But no holes at the ankle!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Smothered in hugs

There's a pretty good chance that I've seen Guided By Voices in concert more than any other band. The indie rock legends hail from Dayton, which is why they were on my radar fairly early on despite the fact that I no longer lived in the area.

Their story was a good one. Lead singer and main songwriter Robert Pollard was an elementary school teacher, and with members in their late 30s when the band broke on the underground scene, they were already "old". They arrived as alternative rock, whatever that is, was flourishing and carved out a small but passionate fan base that obsessed over the unbelievably prolific group's releases on a LISTSERV.

I was in college when I first saw GBV. A friend and I drove back to Dayton in the fall of 1994 to see them playing at a place being run as a dinner theater. It was a pretty surreal experience. We both got to meet Pollard and have him sign our purchases. Kim Deal of The Breeders, a local band (sort of) that was hot on the national scene, was in attendance and went on stage to sing on a couple songs. I'd never been to anything quite like this, or heard anything as catchy and noisy, so of course I was hooked. Local pride didn't hurt either.

So I was in on the ground floor, more or less. The so-called classic line-up played together from 1993 to 1996, and I saw them quite a bit, not the least of which was due to Columbus being a regular place where they performed. They were a terrific live band whose short songs were packed into epic concerts, at least when they weren't too drunk. (Their capacity for consuming alcohol was also part of their legend.)

When it was announced that this iteration of GBV would be reuniting and doing a short tour, there was no question I had to see them play. I wasn't alone. For a group whose name would draw blank looks from most people, this was a hot ticket. A local alt-weekly called it one of the most anticipated concerts of the year--it sold out right away--and tickets boasted asking prices of 2.5 to 6 times face value from online sellers.

Could any concert live up to that level of anticipation and nostalgia? In this instance, it did. Reports from some of the first shows on the tour claimed that the reunited GBV's playing was uneven. Whether it was having some time to get it together or extra focus with virtually a hometown crowd, these five guys came out and crushed it. Pollard, now in his 50s, still did his scissor kicks. Bassist Greg Demos strutted around the stage like a maniac with a purpose. Mitch Mitchell threw in some windmill guitar moves. Tobin Sprout's softer songs were nice counterpoint to the rockers, although his were beefed up more than I remember. If anything, they may have been tighter than back in their heyday.

The main thing that stood out is how many great songs this band produced. (And did they ever write songs. They've put out three box sets, each with 100 unreleased songs.) This was an audience of hardcore fans, so everything was already going to be greeted as a smash hit. Nevertheless, the hour forty-five minute concert was like a long greatest hits show, even if a couple rarer tracks made it into the mix. Welcome to one knockout punch after another.

I don't know if it was because I was close to the stage at the front of a deep room or the intensity that the band stirred up (or a combination), but this was as physical of a audience experience I've had. Packed shoulder to shoulder and front to back, it's sort of a miracle that a pumping fist or slamming head didn't connect with my face. At times there was a fair amount of pushing. I made sure to sharpen my elbows and have them pointed out to defend myself from the people bouncing off other attendees like golf balls ricocheting off a racquetball court's walls. I can't say that I enjoyed this aspect of the concert, but it definitely fed an energy into the room that enhanced the evening. I just could have done without some of the aggressors.

Shoving aside, I couldn't have asked for a better trip back with one of my all-time favorite bands and one that led me to a lot of music that I otherwise never would have come to hear. I imagine the band members will be too old to do something like this again in ten or fifteen years, and I don't know that I'd want to be trapped in the pit again with those years on me. If this was goodbye, what a way to go.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A salty salute

I'll save my in-depth thoughts on tonight's Guided by Voices classic line-up reunion show for tomorrow when I won't have to stay up as late to type them out.

Suffice it to say that this sold-out concert found the veteran Dayton, Ohio rockers ready to put on a show for what was virtually a hometown crowd here in Columbus. It was a rowdy night of rock 'n' roll. I feel at least a little fortunate that I didn't catch a pumping fist or headbanging head with my face.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 15, 2010

No holes

Maybe it was a lucky break, maybe I've figured it out. Whatever the case, I'm finally working on a sock without a hole at the ankle.

I'm making another pair of baby socks for my future nephew. I was frustrated with the holes at the ankle in the last one I started that I ripped it out entirely and began again. The best I can figure is that when I need to pick up stitches, I shouldn't pick up at the spot directly between the needles because it creates the holes. Obvious, perhaps, but it isn't something I've cracked until now.

Yes, a photo would be helpful in this case, but let's wait until I'm finished with them. I'd like to see if this is repeatable.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A break in the clouds

Lately I've been feeling like Charlie Brown being followed by a storm cloud. I've been on the receiving end of a lot of discouraging news regarding work. Today it appears that all the doom and gloom may be lifting.

OK, how can I tiptoe around specifics while conveying the information...

My boss's conversation with someone at the place that ended the contract was surprised that we were unaware of this matter and claims to be working on a new contract. (This sort of contradicts something a higher-up there said in another conversation, but I have no reason to expect this individual is playing games.) In the event that an agreement isn't worked out by the end of the year, this person understood it that things would continue under the old terms until new ones are determined.

While this isn't set in stone, it certainly seems that we are no longer at DEFCON 1 level. That in and of itself is an enormous relief. I suppose things could collapse, but for now I'm going to take this as a positive sign. It's beyond time for one.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Four years

On the way home from knit night I realized that today is the fourth anniversary of when I received my first knitting lesson. Four years?!

I don't know if I'd say I've come a long way since then. I've gone through knitting slumps and not stretched myself very much. Regardless, I'm certainly a lot better now than the guy whose early efforts were not so great, even though I didn't realize it at the time. I have done things I doubted I could do--knit socks, for example--so maybe I'm being too self-critical.

I started knitting at a time when I was stressed out about work tensions and living conditions. Here I am four years later and both those stressors are doing a number on me. (Granted, the work situation is a lot more immediate and serious now than in 2006, and the noisy neighbors are a secondary worry rather than a primary problem.) I haven't been knitting a lot lately, mainly because I've been busy and worn out, but with knit night giving me an excuse to work on something, I was reminded of the important role knitting has played in my life during this time.

The self-consciousness of being a male knitter is essentially gone. OK, it's still something that I keep compartmentalized from work, but that's due more to my desire to have a separation than any concern about what people, students in particular, might think. Maybe it's maturity, maybe it's confidence, maybe it's apathy that I don't care what the reactions there might be to news of that I knit.

I'm grateful for those who have helped me learn and improve over the years. I'm also thankful for the community of people I've met online, offline, or both as I've been on this journey. I never could have expected how a seemingly small decision to learn to knit would have a large impact on me. It has changed me in some ways, hopefully for the better. I've received all of this from just knowing how to manipulate two needles and a piece of fiber. How wild is that.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Indie rock knits

Today sees the release of new albums by one of my favorite bands and the artist who made my favorite album of 2005. Belle and Sebastian have occasionally made knitting references in songs, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the sprawling group wields the needles. Until reading a piece about Sufjan Stevens' latest, I had no idea that he knits. Of course he does.

Hey, I'm not knocking the guy. Obviously. I was just unaware that he knits. Sufjan's image as a sensitive folkie plays right into what some might characterize as the male knitter stereotype, so I'm a little amused to find some truth in it.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 11, 2010


I've been waiting a long time to attend a postseason game that the Cincinnati Reds play in. I had tickets for a 1999 series that they ended up not qualifying for. I've watched them fail to make the playoffs since 1995. So while the Reds entered last night's game in the best of five series down 2-0 via a no-hitter and an embarrassing display of defensive collapse and loss of pitching control, I was still happy to be heading to the ballpark to see my team compete. It's the playoffs! I still believe despite knowing better!

It may have been a lucky break that had me there in the first place. I read that 250,000 e-mail addresses were submitted for the lottery to select those in the general public who would get first crack at buying playoff tickets. Out of my family, my name was the only one drawn for the NLDS (effectively the quarterfinals). I was also the only one to be picked in the second chance drawing for tickets to the NLCS games (semifinals). Come hell or high water, I was going to be at the playoffs.

I ordered tickets for my dad and two brothers, so going to the playoffs was to be a family affair and a fully day. We met at the hotel and went to a sports bar to watch the first half of the Bengals game before returning to the lodging to watch the rest. (The banks of monitors and noise was a little overwhelming for my dad.) That game ended with an unexpected but all-too-familiar disaster--the Bengals found a way to blow it late--but my enthusiasm for the Reds game remained high.

We arrived early on the riverfront and walked by the crowd milling around the stadium on our way to find somewhere to eat downtown. Wendy's was one of the few places open within a couple blocks of the ballpark, so it had a long line of fans waiting to grab a bite before the game. Everyone knew the uphill battle the hometown team was staring at, but the playoff atmosphere had people jazzed regardless.

The weather could not have been much more perfect. Here it was October 10 and one temperature display read 94 degrees at 5:30 p.m. There wasn't any humidity, though, so the heat wasn't felt nearly as much as it would be in July. With it being in the mid-70s for the game itself, who could ask for better this time of year?

The steamboat music playing over the stadium PA was a little strange--it's the Popeye theme!-- albeit appropriate considering the ballpark's location near the banks of the Ohio River. Almost everyone was decked out in red, and it was something to be a part of as the game neared and people waved their rally towels and cheered. To be in a big crowd--the 44,599 attending set a ballpark record--and root for the Reds with something on the line was why I wanted to be there. This wasn't an ordinary game. A loss meant the season was over.

Unfortunately an error led to an unearned run for the Phillies in the top of the 1st, which sort of broke the illusion that perhaps this game might be different. Still, being part of a crowd booing in unison at various members of the opposition and cheering when something went right was a lot of fun in spite of the outcome we all feared and anticipated.

The mood was generally pretty positive, save for the guy in front of me who booed Michelle Obama when she appeared on the scoreboard for a public service announcement about welcoming home veterans and later yelled at a worker collecting recyclables late in the game because he thought it was rude to ask him to pass along the empty bottles under his seat. At least where I was, the ratio of good, respectful fans enjoying themselves to boorish ones was about as good as I've witnessed at a baseball game.

And fine, if the Reds weren't going to win or really even threaten, at least the team turned in the most respectable effort of the three games and featured the Reds hard-throwing phenom (pictured above) nicknamed the Cuban missile. The fans still applauded the Reds on a successful season even when their elimination was complete. A loss wasn't the outcome any of us wanted, but the playing of this game represented a season of wins and hope for the future. All in all, that's not such a bad consolation.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One way of trying to get a ticket

There will be plenty of time later to write about the experience of attending a playoff baseball game. Now is the time for crashing at the hotel. Anyway, isn't this picture I took outside the stadium sufficiently entertaining?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 09, 2010


I won't be blogging about neighborly noise tomorrow--I'll be in Cincinnati for the Reds playoff game--but humor me one more day on the topic.

Yesterday I wrote about asking my neighbors to turn down their subwoofer. All was generally good for most of the night, or as good as I figure I can request, until the later hours hit. Sure enough, I'm in bed and an additional set of walls away when the booming sound of the bass punches through. It's going after midnight. It's going after 1 a.m.

I went into my living room, and to be fair, it wasn't as loud as they've had it in the most objectionable instances. The problem is that the low frequency carries very easily. Do they now think that because they've turned it down that they can keep it on all hours of the night? Were they trying to provoke me, as it did seem like it would go up louder for a moment and then return to still audible but softer level? (If you think I'm paranoid, you didn't read about when I tried to deal with a similar problem four years ago. Addressing the issue made it several times worse.)

Since I have Monday off for a holiday, I've been at the office most of the day finishing the large amount of work I needed to do. I'm still here writing this now, in part because I worry about going home and having the same racket going on. I'll be gone the next day or two, leading to who knows what kind of sound system blasts that may be deemed acceptable in their minds because I don't say anything. Already ground down, this is turning me into a powder.

I don't need this, especially on top of everything else. Yes, I should stand my ground, but it seems like doing so doesn't yield positive results. I'm just bitching at this point, but I need to get it out. Sorry for all the melodrama.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 08, 2010

The talk

After getting some advice about how to deal with the neighbors and noise problem, I decided to attempt a face-to-face conversation rather than printing a letter and putting it on their door. I dreaded it for the better part of the day and practiced what I was going to say as I drove home. I wanted to pick my words carefully and feel less nervous by having a script of sorts.

I knocked on their door and...of course no one was home. It wasn't much longer after that when I heard them return, and I deliberated over whether to make another attempt. I decided I needed to do it, much as I didn't want to.

Best as I can tell, there are two young women who live there. I'd guess that they are either in college or recently out of it, although it seems like they're around all the time, which goes against all assumptions. At first I didn't think anyone was going to answer the door, but finally one of them cracked the door about as wide as her face. (This could have been to keep either of their dogs from getting out or a reflection of her uncertainty about this stranger outside.)

I introduced myself, apologized for bothering her, and rushed through my piece. She didn't say more than a couple words and didn't introduce herself. "OK" may have been the extent of it.

Early results seem to indicate that while it may not be possible to keep the throbbing bass from my ears completely, at least it seems like they are keeping it to what I'll call a tolerable level. I can hear it, but it's not dominant in my apartment like it has been for the past couple months. I can watch TV without feeling like it's breaking my concentration. In other words, it's at least semi-ignorable. I don't imagine I can get it lower than that. While I don't want to hear it at all, I realize that is an unreasonable stance.

I know I bring my stress from the noise issues at my previous apartment, not to mention the other stress weighing me down. I jumped in my place this evening when I heard another door shut. I'm on pins and needles. I don't need additional aggravation in the form of a combination jackhammer-jet engine in the neighboring apartment. Please be gone.

So the commenter and Twitter followers persuaded me to change my approach, and it would appear that they recommended the right strategy. Now we'll see how long this lasts or if my car doesn't end up keyed.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 07, 2010

That guy

So apparently I have to be that guy.

Look, it's been a rough few weeks with the job uncertainty, and I haven't been feeling great. After what felt like a late Tuesday night panic attack--it certainly seemed like one--I've felt somewhat better. On top of that, I've come down with something. Not realizing a couple days ago that I'm sick made it all the worse.

And then there's the neighbors with the unspeakably loud subwoofer. I haven't said anything because it tends to come and go, although it usually picks up around 10:45 p.m. Sometimes it's loud enough to be extremely annoying, and sometimes it is intolerable. (Seriously. I can't go anywhere in my place without hearing it and/or feeling it.)

I'd put off writing a letter to these relatively new neighbors because I didn't have the energy for it, and I knew that I ought to wait until there had been a night that was on the worst end of the scale. That night was tonight. I went back into the bedroom where the pounding bass was a slightly duller thumping and fired up the old desktop to write a letter to them.

I'm pretty pleased with what I wrote, but I can also see it making me sound like an insufferable jerk, especially since I've had no communication with them. (I accept the blame for not mentioning how disruptive the noise is. Notice I'm blaming the noise, not them. Or is this just me running from confrontation?) I've not mentioned this problem to the rental office and don't intend to on this occasion, but after the letter, going to them would be the next step. I'm the victim, yet whatever I do, I come across as the bad guy, even though I believe they have to know at times they have things up way too loud.

I mentioned on Twitter that I was writing such a letter, and two people responded that they thought a face-to-face interaction would be better, that a letter may escalate the problem. So I've put it to my followers, and I put it to you too. Would I be better off knocking on their door tomorrow and saying hey, I'd really appreciate it if you'd turn down the subwoofer, or should I stick to my letter? Choose carefully.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Knit your own pet

Want a dog but unable to have one? You could always knit yourself a dog.

(This is what's going to pass as today's entry because you don't want me and my bitter disappointment writing about today's playoff game.)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oh boy

Today I'm feeling some like Cooper, Draper, and Pryce (and Cosgrove and Campbell) and some like Sterling. That makes more sense to those of you who watch Mad Men and saw the October 3 episode. The rest of you certainly don't have any idea what I'm talking about, so let me explain. (And yes, you should take that as a spoiler alert if you watch the show but haven't seen the most recent episode.)

Of course it's about my work situation. In Mad Men the ad agency partners are blindsided by news that their biggest client, one that is critical to sustaining their operation, is terminating business. This development seemingly comes out of the blue. Actually, Roger Sterling was aware that this was on the horizon but had begged for (and received) time to do what he could to salvage the business relationship. In the past Sterling had had to suck up his pride and do whatever the client wanted to keep him happy, yet it still wasn't enough.

How does this compare? I don't know why key people didn't know--no one I directly work with knew--but the agreement with our biggest client, so to speak, was ended on their part three months ago. (They are still responsible for fulfilling their financial obligation for half a year after delivering such a notice.) Needless to say, while we anticipated that this was the direction it was heading, little did we know it's where we've been and are.

Apparently the short term solution is, in essence, to grovel for a phasing out scenario over a year, which will give us more time to locate and implement alternative funding. If that is rejected, who knows?

There's more that is unclear than clear. Really, it's all pretty muddy, but as far as I know, I'm at least "safe" through the end of this calendar year. I may be OK through the completion of the school year. After that? It's anybody's guess.

Sterling had to eat a lot of crap in his situation, and he had to plead to dine on more of it so he could keep afloat. We're certainly familiar with that, and we now may have to increase our consumption to stave off elimination, at least in the short term.

This could finally put in motion what's been necessary for some time and be an enormously positive turning point. Or I could be out of a job and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Yikes.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 04, 2010


Although I have good reason for focusing on the bad news that's come my way in recent weeks, I ought to keep in sight the good things coming up this month.

For example, the Cincinnati Reds will compete in the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time in fifteen years and I'm going. I'll also be attending if they advance to the NLCS. I've waited a long time to see the Reds return to the postseason and a longer time to witness it in person. Now let's hope their performance isn't a complete letdown and that it isn't too chilly.

It could be too much of a good thing. There's the potential for the NLCS games to conflict with the concert tickets I have to see the reunited "classic" lineup of Guided by Voices, a band on my list of all-time favorites, and Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. I'm look forward to those shows, but I'll have some decision-making to day if games and concerts overlap. I saw GBV plenty of times in their heyday and could probably clear some pretty good money scalping the ticket, but then again, the more likely conflict is with the Campbell/Lanegan show. As a big Belle & Sebastian fan, I'd like to see their former member with the former Screaming Trees front man. Still, if all problems were like this...

Movies ought to start getting better this month as the awards contenders begin to trickle out. Exhibit A: The Social Network.

Tomorrow I hope to have a better feel for what the future may hold. Fingers crossed that it's positive. Toes crossed too.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Super scarves

When it comes to the NFL and the Super Bowl, the last things I'd associate with them are handmade items. Of all the games played during the season, the championship is certainly the least friendly for the average fan to attend. Tickets are not easy to acquire, and if you can, they are prohibitively expensive.

Imagine my surprise to see that one project for the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis is knitting eight thousand scarves for the event's volunteers. What a neat way for the host city to keep these people warm and give them a unique memento for their efforts.

OK, so it's not knitting for those in need, but it's rare to see something on this scale favor handmade donations over mass production. If you want to contribute to this blue scarf project, there's more information here.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Something's in the air

It seems like we jumped from summer to the colder part of fall, from shorts and t-shirts to long sleeves and jackets. A week ago we went from high 80s/low 90s to high 60s. We seem to be on the verge of things turning even cooler.

The change in weather definitely makes me want to knit more. Granted,warmer temperatures aren't what have kept me from picking up the needles of late. Being busy and being tired have been more than effective obstacles.

I still need to get to work on my contribution for the Red Scarf Project. The chillier night air also has me wanting to make another scarf for myself, not that I really need one. Everything has seemed like it's been in a holding pattern the last couple weeks, so maybe progress on any knitting project, no matter how small, will make me feel like I'm getting somewhere and have a little bit of control over things. Now to make the time for it.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 01, 2010

Light and dark

Honestly, I wasn't much in the mood to go to the concert I had a ticket for tonight. I hadn't lost interest in the band. Work stress had simply taken its toll on me. So bless the openers, local band Super Desserts, whose sunshine pop lifted my spirits at the end of what has been a rough week.

Super Desserts - On Sunday from Ohio Sessions on Vimeo.

This was my first time seeing a show at The Basement, and I was a bit thrown by how small it is. The "pit" in front of the stage might comfortably accommodate roundabout forty people. More can fit in between the fit and the soundboard and around the sides of the stage, but still, this is a smaller venue than I was already envisioning. It struck me as a more spacious version of Stache's, a fire hazard of a small club that is long gone from the scene.

It turns out that a significant percentage of the people milling around before the music started are in Super Desserts. A mere seven band members took the stage. Apparently they were short at least two others.

Cello, viola, ukulele, bass clarinet, melodica, and xylophone made their way into the mix during the 45-minute set of cheery pop. A musical similarity to Belle & Sebastian exists, although Super Desserts' compositions didn't sound as intricate, at least in a live setting.

Their cover of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" was unexpected and sort of exhilarating, because who in the world is going to try to put their own stamp on that Pet Sounds classic? With nearly enough people to field a baseball team on stage, it was worth them taking a crack at it, and I thrilled when they transitioned into the bridge. They also did a fine job on Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Our House".

The airiness of Super Desserts, an appropriately named band if ever there was one, contrasted nicely with the brooding songs of headlining duo Wye Oak. They made a mighty racket, and I enjoyed hearing them. They were, after all, who I'd come to see.

So, for a night out that I wasn't feeling up to, it hit the spot. The lightness of Super Desserts and darkness of Wye Oak was an inspired pairing, and I departed in a better mood than when I arrived. I even left with one of the local band's CDs, and I almost never do that.

Labels: ,