Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moving the mountain

So today is the final day of November. I know December is going to be insanely busy and already feel like there isn't enough time to accomplish everything on my mental list. I'm going to try not to sweat it.

This time of year should not be when everyone gets stressed out, so how about I not add to it but rather accept that there's only so much that can be done? Sure, it won't hurt to set goals, but many of the items that I'd like to cross off the checklist aren't essential. I can set the bar high, but as long as I make progress, that ought to be good enough.

Yeah, I know that embracing such an attitude is easier said than done, but it's probably a healthier way of attacking the mountainous list. Care to join me? I bet we'll all feel better a month from now.

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Monday, November 29, 2010


I wanted a second opinion from my dad about what I believed to be a leaky front rear tire on my car, but other than that I was ready to hit the road and return home this morning. Then a funny thing happened. Click click click. The car wouldn't turn over. The battery was dead. Sure, it had been chilly the previous few days, but it wasn't that cold.

The mechanic in my parents' small town is only a few blocks away, so we jumpstarted my car and took it over to be checked out. Answers: the battery was bad, and the tire I had refilled on Thanksgiving was low. So the morning hours I intended to spend on the road found the car getting an oil change, a new battery, and a patched tire. All three were needed, but before this morning I was only certain of the first.

Walking to my parents' house and back to the mechanic's, I felt a twinge of longing for the small town experience. I also felt it when briefly strolling the streets of Blackduck, Minnesota this summer or walking the main drag in Cooperstown, New York.

I grew up in a small town with its short Main Street and sense of self-containment. As a kid that was an appealing quality. I had a small, set aside place that I could wander without restriction. There was a feeling of belonging somewhere that sort of existed as an island among the fields of corn and soybeans. What was great for me as a kid probably would feel stifling as an adult.

There's a reason why movies and TV (and politicians) tend to romanticize such places. At a time when people in general feel like they have less control over what happens in their lives, wouldn't it be great to live where everyone knows one another and pulls together with a cheerful, harmonious community pride? Wouldn't it be great to be able to walk out your front door and get a bite to eat at a small, local restaurant where you are known by name and lineage and where you can pop into the single screen movie theater that's a mere stone's throw away?

Yeah, that would be great, but that's not necessarily what small towns are but what they're idealized as being. I've seen the movies and know how these places are portrayed is mostly bunk, yet there I was still wanting to believe the beautiful lie.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that small towns are terrible places. I'll likely always have some affection for these little burgs and dream of their imaginary perfection. Visiting, not residing, allows such charms to remain rooted.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010


And so the Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end. I can't say that I did much of anything, but that was what I needed. Between napping and watching football, there wasn't a lot else I accomplished. OK, you can include playing with the dog in there too. Overall, though, it was alternating between dozing off and staring at football on TV.

Sleep has been a precious commodity the last two weeks, especially since my cough has made it difficult to get any at night. I've finally purchased something that seems to be controlling the dry cough much better, so perhaps I will shake this bug in the next couple days. I'm more than ready to.

Since I arrived on Thursday morning, I'd barely gone outside, let alone ventured far from my parents' home. (For one thing, it turned awfully chilly here.) My mom, dad, and I went to South Bend for lunch today. Other than that and walking a few steps to church this morning, it was a shut-in sort of holiday. Sometimes that's what the doctor orders, metaphorically speaking.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010


It isn't Christmas yet, but while here at my parents' home for Thanksgiving, two of my brothers and I received an early gift. (We'll be flying to and from our Christmas destination, so bringing extra stuff back won't be convenient.) My mom made blankets for each of us with some patterned fabric featuring Bengals or Reds logos.

I could tell that she was proud of her work and was eager to give them to us. I regret to say that before I started knitting, I don't know if I would have appreciated the gesture as much. I now know what it means to be the person making something for someone, and I know what it means to see the item being used. This weekend I noticed my dad and one of my brothers wearing the hats I made for them a couple years ago. That gave me a sense of satisfaction. My brother has clearly worn his quite a bit--it's pilling--so I may make him another.

Therein lies the magic of handcrafting. I could have just bought them hats, and my mom could have merely purchased blankets similar to those she made. Yet if it's the thought that counts, what could be more valuable than something one took the time to create on one's own?

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Friday, November 26, 2010


I've been following the dog's lead today. There's been much laying on the couch, watching football on TV, and taking it easy in general. There will be plenty to attend to next week, but for now, I'm just going to relax.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


I got up early and drove west for four hours to reach my parents' home on this foggy Thanksgiving. The trip was an easy one, with the only intrigue being mild concern over what may be a leaky tire and my boredom emerging about halfway into the drive. I'm thankful that that was what passed for drama, and I'm thankful that it was time to eat within a half hour of when I pulled into the driveway.

This Thanksgiving I feel like I should be extra grateful even though, or because, it has been a tough year. Sure, I can gripe about the car accident and the lingering injury or the workplace drama, but at least from how things appear, it's all worked out in the end. The accident may have freed me from a car that had the potential for being a money pit. The whiplash that seemed like it wouldn't go away ultimately led me to realize that I ought to get some other health issues checked out, which proved to be nothing serious. I'm certainly not thankful for the hell of the uncertainty around work, but that trying time may lead to some answers that have been needed there for awhile. Whatever the case, I still have a job, and it doesn't look like it's in the imminent danger that it seemed like it might be in for a month or two.

So I'm thankful I've survived what has felt like a difficult year, and I'm thankful for the bright spots in it that I surely can't ignore. I reconnected with an old friend, enjoyed a week-long, out-of-state family vacation, received a new nephew, saw a lot of great live music, attended baseball games in four cities with my dad, went to my first Reds playoff game, traveled to places I wouldn't have expected visiting when the year started, and learned some new technology that has made my job easier.

I'm thankful for my health, even if I've felt less than 100% for most of the year. I could have been in much worse shape after that car accident than I was. I'm thankful for the security in my life, perhaps even moreso after reasonably believing for a bit that it was threatened. I'm thankful that for as beat up as I feel I've been, I'm still in a relatively good situation. I can dwell on what I'm dissatisfied with or wallow in my unhappiness, but all in all, I'm fortunate to have what I have. I'm thankful that I'm able to see that.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holding out

Since I imagine that most of you reading this have a general idea of why I blog under a pseudonym, I'm not going to bother with the set up for all of that. It isn't necessarily pertinent to what follows, but the name might seem like it has something to do with it.

You might remember that I was a longtime holdout of grocery shopper loyalty cards, but eventually circumstances wore down my resistance. I don't have my name attached to the two that I hold, so I suppose I miss out on some of the benefits of having them. Still, it's an uphill battle or fool's game not to have them and receive the discounts, whether they're real or phony.

I fear that my lengthy resistance to another thing that I've consciously chosen to avoid may be close to falling by the wayside. What is this opponent? Facebook.

Unlike everyone and their grandmother, I'm not on Facebook, have never had an account, and have never seriously considered signing up for it. From time to time I may think that my objection to being on it is worth reevaluating, but I've always firmly sided on staying off of the site. I have my reasons, which are largely due to where I work and an incident there, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the site's notions of privacy (or lack thereof) and ownership of an individual's data.

Am I missing out? Probably. Not being on Facebook means being a nonentity. The company is deviously clever in making themselves the one-stop shop for much or all of what people do on the internet. If you want to know what's going on, chances are your best bet to stay informed about people is to be on Facebook.

For instance, I received an e-mail from my brother directing me to a photo gallery of my new nephew. One of his friends had taken the pictures and put them up on--you guessed it--Facebook. Since I'm not on Facebook, I'm shut out. Is it the end of the world? Of course not, but I'm also aware that this is something that's likely to go on (and it doesn't have to pertain to this particular issue). When does it reach the point when I stop being told whatever because I'm not on the site, so it's no use informing me in the first place?

I'm not going to sign up before I go to bed tonight, and I don't intend to do so in the near future. Nevertheless, I can see that the writing is on the wall. Like it or not, I'm probably going to have to submit to Facebook eventually. All we're bartering over is when.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I've had plenty to keep me busy at work these past two days, but the relative quiet around the building is unmistakable. We're in finals week, so it's natural that fewer people, both faculty and students, are in and about. It's liable to be a ghost town there on Wednesday. I certainly don't intend to stick around the office all day.

Rather than join the throngs on the road tomorrow, I'll be heading to my parents' on Thanksgiving morning. I don't really desire driving the two and four lane roads in rural Ohio and Indiana on one of the year's busiest travel days in the dark, and I sort of need the time to get ready for the trip home. It's been go, go, go as the quarter has wound down, so being a little leisurely before departing feels necessary.

I'm not dreading going home for the holiday. To the contrary, I'm looking forward to getting away for a few days. This has been a very stressful three months work-wise, and I felt less than good for much of it. Thankfully, things seem to have righted themselves as far as the work situation is concerned. (Of course, now I'm trying to shake the vestiges of some bug.) So a few nights away--I'm hoping to avoid the Sunday night mess and return Monday morning--should be the medicine I need, especially since who knows the adventure that will be this Christmas.

So, safe travels to you and yours. I plan to enjoy the extended holiday weekend. Maybe some knitting will fit in there, finally.

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Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm not in love with expanding on any of these ideas, so here's a mishmash of topics:

-I've recovered from whatever bug I came down with a week ago, but the vestiges of it continue to wear me down. I'm talking about the cough, especially at bedtime. In the past week there's only been one or two times that I've fallen asleep before 3 a.m. I think that's been worse than anything else.

-The high today was around 70. In late November. With the way the temperature has been rising and falling the last month, it's no wonder I got sick. Just get around to typical seasonal temperatures, please.

-I was hesitant to sign up for Twitter--I'm not on Facebook--but I've now been using it for close to two years. As I checked it during intermissions at the hockey game I attended tonight, it occurred to me how much I enjoy the service and how big of an impact it makes on a day-to-day basis. (File this under a potentially expanded idea of how radically things have changed in the last ten years.)

-It's not a major point of emphasis, but two characters are seen knitting in the new Disney animated film Tangled.

-I'm not pleased with the latest changes the TSA is implementing at airports, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the traction that objections to the backscatter and "enhanced patdowns" are getting. Just hurry up and affect some change by the time I hop on a plane a month from now.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

New tricks

Do you have some tissues handy? You're probably going to need them for this story about an 89-year-old man who has learned to knit. I recommend watching the video rather than writing the transcribed story.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


I don't know why it took nearly a week of often unproductive coughing--and thus extremely spotty sleep--to remember that there's a product that tends to keep it under control. After another night of getting little rest, I had to find a solution to the constant hacking. That stuff has kept the coughing more in control and permitted a lengthy afternoon nap, so maybe I can finally shake this bug.

So, while I continue to recuperate here's a local story about a professional soccer player who gets together with some old women to make hats for those in need.

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Friday, November 19, 2010


My nephew arrived this week, so I have to show him off, right?

Here he is modeling a hat I made. I am pleased to know that being a knitter means I can make things for him, at least while he's little.

Welcome, little guy.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010


As is my strategy when I feel I have nothing to write about or don't want to put the effort in that day, I'll search for knitting stories or videos. You'd rather come across that than me writing about how much I hate coughing when there's nothing to cough up. (That's been the focus of my day and night.) Then I came across this video.

Hey, it's my friend Donna talking about a knitting outreach project she led as part of a university class she teaches! Blogging duty fulfilled!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Say uncle

Enjoying yesterday's sick day caught up with me last night. I had a terrible night of not sleeping and felt lousy in the morning. Sick day number two hasn't been quite so much fun.

But there's reason enough for me to post today. I'm now an uncle!

The little guy was born last night. Since he made his debut in Dallas-Fort Worth, I won't get to meet him until a few days before Christmas. Can't wait!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Under the weather

Should I feel guilty about enjoying my sick day too much?

I don't get sick very often, and when I do I'm not always very good at identifying how incapacitated I should be. I rarely missed a day of school, especially from junior high on, and it's been uncommon for me to take sick days at work. I can recall some times when I probably should have stayed home but didn't for whatever reason. Those are more plentiful than days I remember calling in sick.

My main goal in staying home was simply to rest up, and that's basically been what I've done. I've watched a little TV, done laundry, browsed the internet, and replaced a light bulb that hasn't been convenient to replace. I haven't done anything taxing or all that exciting, yet having a day in which the clock never came into play was freeing and relaxing. It's been fun, strange as that sounds.

I'll still probably have this dry cough for a few days, but other than that I feel like I've mostly recovered from this bug. Consider it a day well spent.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Sick day

If I didn't have something important to do at work today, I wouldn't have bothered going in. (Isn't that always the case?) I slept fitfully last night and wasn't feeling very swift come morning, but I slugged through most of the work day before knocking off a couple hours early. That's sort of the plan I told myself on the way into the office.

The rest of the day has been napping or digging through the season one episodes of Modern Family that I hadn't seen. It's been a decent enough way to get by when not feeling that great. I'm probably going to take Tuesday off. I have an overabundance of sick days, and I figure it wouldn't hurt to have a full day of rest to beat back this cold, or whatever it is.

With a full free day ahead of me, maybe I'll finally get started knitting those slippers I want to make...unless vegging out wins out.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm feeling a little under the weather today, so I thought I'd use this space to follow up on some comments left on recent entries. I'd reply where the comments were left, but I've dragged my feet doing so, and I figure my replies are more likely to be seen here.

I am amused at how my entry about leaving behind a knitting pattern at a crafts store was interpreted. I didn't verbalize a stance on the matter, but as I understand the comments, there's a reading critical of the store.

That's not exactly my take on it. What happened to the woman who lost her pattern is unfortunate, but this line leaps off the screen:
This is a pattern I bought in Scotland 30 years ago, so it can't be replaced and the store shouldn't have mixed it up with their own inventory.
Maybe this sounds unsympathetic, but it seems to me that she shouldn't have taken this unreplaceable pattern out of her home in the first place. Yes, it's a shame that the store employee promised to keep the pattern but failed to keep track of it. Still, if it was so important, perhaps she should have arranged for someone to pick it up for her in the week that passed between leaving it behind and returning to reclaim it. (It probably doesn't help her cause that she comes off as somewhat entitled/snobby in the first line of her complaint.)

So, in summation, it stinks that the pattern was lost, but I don't necessarily think that this reflects poorly on the store.

As for my stats work at Ohio State, this was a one time deal, although as long as they were happy with how I performed, I could be asked back to fill in. When the initial request came in, I was also needed for a women's game today, but between the first e-mail and committing for Friday, the Sunday slot was filled. As long as my schedule is open, I'd do it again.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A study in scarlet and gray

Ohio State football is practically a religion around here. (After all, "Carmen Ohio" is set to the tune of the traditional Christian song "Spanish Hymn".) People around the state take it pretty seriously too, but in Columbus things seem to grind to a halt when the Buckeyes are playing. Just ask anyone who decides to go to the grocery store when a game is going on. You won't encounter crowds in the aisles.

I was an Ohio State fan growing up, became somewhat disenchanted with the madness around town (probably from the regrettable mistake of listening to local sports talk radio), and have been working my way back to rooting for the team while ignoring the other stuff. It's amazing how much more I can simply enjoy the games when blocking out the talk show hosts and newspaper and TV reporting and analysis.

Until today I'd never seen an Ohio State football game from the stands. I've worked two games in the press box, but that doesn't provide the fan experience whatsoever. I've seen the long gone and forgotten Ohio Glory (of the long gone and forgotten World League of American Football) in the venerable Ohio Stadium. I also saw a decent number of Columbus Crew games when they called the Horseshoe home, but they play the kind of football we Americans call soccer.

So I jumped at the opportunity to attend this afternoon's game against Penn State when offered a free ticket. They were playing a traditional power and decent team, which was better than could be said for the two games I saw from the press box. Oh yeah, I'd never been invited to go before.

We parked in a nearby neighborhood, thus avoiding the outlandish parking charges various lots were requesting, and hoofed it to the stadium along with the other 105,000+. The seats were perhaps not quite half the way up in C Deck, but suffice it to say that getting there required climbing plenty of stairs. We were near midfield, which made for a terrific vantage point on this lovely, unseasonably warm day.

It took awhile for the stadium to get hopping as Penn State had a 14-3 lead at halftime. The way the Nittany Lions shredded the Buckeyes' defense had people justifiably concerned. Then the tide turned and the party began. C'mon, when have you ever been in one place with that many people, not to mention that many with the same rooting interest? (Penn State fans were sprinkled among the sea of scarlet and few in numbers.) It certainly is something to experience firsthand.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Big time

You know how in movies when the small time performer, be it an athlete, singer, or actor, marvels at being on a big field, court, or stage for the first time? Perhaps the reality and magnitude of the situation puts some doubt in him even though he's doing something that he's done many times before. That's what I experienced tonight as I took my seat courtside to keep the official statistics for the Ohio State University men's basketball game.

I've been keeping official stats for Division III teams since the fall of 1995, so I've had more than my share of practice. I've worked NCAA Tournament games, high school tournament games, and a nationally televised high school basketball game. Nevertheless, none of those quite compare to sitting two people away from the Ohio State bench with a section of jumping, cheering students directly behind me.

My experience with the stats program is apparently a gift that keeps on giving. (Over the years that extra money adds up.) It boggles my mind how a school as big as OSU didn't have anyone available to input on the primary and backup computers, but that's why I got the proverbial call to do the job this evening.

Although I last used the program nine months ago, I wasn't all that concerned about being able to perform. Then I walked around the court, found my station, and realized how much was riding on my accuracy and speed. My work would be displayed to all media and on the scoreboard. (Now that I think about it, it also went out to everyone in real time on the web.) At TV timeouts I'd need to print multiple copies of the stats for the teams and assorted press. The tasks themselves were nothing I couldn't handle. Being in a bigger spotlight was something I was unaccustomed to, though.

I just sort of inherited the duty of running the primary computer. The other guy didn't seem eager to jump in there and take it, so he took the backup while I had the main one. I figured that I'd be fine once I put on the headset and the game began, but I was a little nervous. The computer's desktop and the process were slightly unfamiliar from what I'm accustomed to. Plus, OSU is ranked #4 in the nation, and this game, as lopsided as it would be surely be, was easily the biggest I would stat.

Luckily the spotters were experienced and made it relatively easy, even if it was kind of intense. To my dismay, about a minute in the person running the shot clock inadvertently reset it, so the referee turned to me to ask when the last missed free throw was. I've never had this happen before--mostly because at the other place I'm not courtside--and the spotters said they'd never witnessed it. I quickly pulled up the answer, but that was a wild way to start off.

Despite the boisterous students a foot or two behind me and being shielded from the action by Ohio State's head coach when the action was at my end of the court, I was able to lock in, press the right keys, and get the job done well. The spotters fed the information to me rapidly and accurately, and I was a machine in punching it into the computer.

In the end I had a good time and didn't feel as pressured as I anticipated in the minutes leading up to tip-off. It helped that I didn't make any massive errors (or am unaware of them) and was intently focused in the midst of the chaos.

Oh yeah, Ohio State cruised to the win.

(And obligatory knitting content: a woman in the front row on the other side was knitting before the game. I didn't notice her doing so during the game. Then again, with as fast as everything went, I honestly couldn't tell you how much of the game I saw that was mere feet in front of me.)

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pop quiz

You go to a store to purchase some yarn. You take the pattern along with you but absentmindedly leave it at the store. What do you do?

Here's one way of handling it.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coffee, tea, and me

About a month ago I decided to stop drinking coffee. I was stressed out and feeling kind of panicky, so I figured I didn't need the caffeine working on my nerves. I thought I might be so sensitive to its effects at the time that I decided to pass on decaf too. I think I've had coffee once in the last thirty days.

It isn't necessarily a long term or permanent choice, but it was something I felt I needed to do for the time being. In its place I've substituted hot tea. At first I favored chai tea, but I assumed there was probably still more caffeine than I wanted. So, for the most part I have been drinking decaffeinated tea and have become quite fond of Bigelow Constant Comment. (This video explains the reason for the name of the orange rind and spiced tea.) A nice cup of hot tea goes well with the cool mornings of late, and it's even something I've turned to in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe those cultures that have tea time are on to something.

I am consuming less caffeine than I was, although I should point out that I would only have a cup of coffee (or whatever size fits in one of those porcelain cups that look like that paper one you'd get from a shop). I didn't throw it back all day long like some do. I didn't go through any withdrawal symptoms, so it wasn't something I was hooked on. As much as I enjoy having coffee, I can't say that I miss it.

Eventually I imagine I'll resume drinking coffee with some regularity, but for now I've found something that is serving me quite well in its place. I am less anxious, although that most assuredly is due to getting answers that alleviated some worries. Still, I think that cutting back on that daily cup of joe was probably a wise move.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Never enough

Crushed by the first two days of work this week. Right now it seems like there's never enough time. Where has it all gone?

I was going to try and be clever by tying in the post's title with a video for The Cure's "Never Enough", but finding what I wanted on YouTube proved to be trickier than expected. So instead, for no real reason other than it's The Cure and that's who I was going to feature, enjoy "Fascination Street".


Monday, November 08, 2010

Cuckoo for Coco

Conan O'Brien returns to hosting a TV talk show this evening. My years spent invested in late night television were back when David Letterman was on NBC and eventually moved to CBS, but tonight's occasion can be observed by pointing out needlecraft Conan items.

First, there's a pattern for a crocheted Conan amigurumi. Then there's the (presumably) crocheted Conan yarn blimp.

So there you go.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010


What's on the needles? Currently nothing, although I have decided upon a new project. As the temperatures have dipped, it has occurred to me that I could use a pair of slippers to wear around my apartment.

I made some in my early days as a knitter, but those have had their share of problems. I decided that I should try a different pattern. I haven't searched for patterns on Ravelry for awhile, so I was surprised and pleased with the flexibility its search offers.

I won't claim to have done a very rigorous search, but I mostly like how this pattern looks. I'm not big on the cuff, but I suppose I can alter it if I object too much. It sounds like the pattern shouldn't take long to knit, so be on the lookout for an FO around these parts, assuming I can find the time.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010


Holiday creep seems to arrive in stores earlier every year. It used to be that Christmas stuff wasn't out until the time around Thanksgiving, if not after it. Now we're lucky if retailers wait until Halloween has passed to prime the pump for it. If you pop into a grocery these days, you'll already see that merchants are ready to get us in the Christmas mindset.

The weather insists that it's time for it as well. We haven't exactly had much in the way of fall temperatures this year. Either it's been too warm or too cold. That in-between that defines autumn as a transitional season has been virtually skipped. The past two days my mom has e-mailed pictures of the snow received in northwest Indiana.

It was a nippy couple of days here, more like something from December than early November, so I feel like I'm adjusting more for the winter. I stopped at the grocery today and observed how it was decked out for the end of the year celebrations. Usually I would try to pay it as little attention, but for whatever reason, I'm ready to jumpstart the holidays this year.

Maybe it's a desire to put a lousy fall behind me. Maybe it's a sentimental streak coming to the fore. Maybe it's just a matter of the shorter days having a physiological effect. Whatever. Bring it on.

Of course, it's supposed to be in the sixties this upcoming week.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

The sound of silence

I arrived home around six tonight, and I haven't turned the television on yet. I'm likely to watch something once I'm done with this blog entry, but so far this evening I've been enjoying listening to something: silence (for the most part).

This fall I've written about the bass coming from my neighbors' apartment and reverberating in mine. It would seem that my request for them to turn it down has been successful. The volume has been reduced. That said, I still can hear the thump-thump-thump pretty much whenever they have their sound system on. The low frequency finds it's way through the wall.

I'm hesitant to say anything else simply because I don't want to press my luck. The fact of the matter is that subwoofers weren't made for apartment living, especially for people who like to listen or watch at loud levels. I can mostly deal with where they keep it now, even if I prefer to receive less of it or, ideally, none of it.

Tonight, though, they've either not been home for stretches or are keeping the stereo/home theater system off. That means I can sit in my place and not need to manufacture offsetting noise. (I can somewhat block out the current doses of low frequency I get by having my TV on at what is a low to average volume for most people.) You don't know how much I appreciate simply sitting in my apartment without any auditory intrusions.

Even without the noise from next door, I've probably been prone to turning the TV on as background noise, even if I'm not watching it. I'm not necessarily trying to fill the silence, not in the obnoxious way that so many public and private places do, but it can be comforting to have it droning within range while I'm doing something else. (The exception would be while I'm reading a book.)

But for this night, it's been calming to unwind at home and soak up the silence. With my neighbors, who knows how precious this time may be?

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

At the movies

Those who know me know I see a lot of movies. If there's a level beyond heavy moviegoer, I belong to that classification. Sure, I've been able to fold my moviegoing into my job--indeed, it's fed and stoked it--but my voracious viewing habits can't just be chalked up as work I have to do. In fact, I see far more films than I cover. (Not that I didn't try at one time. That guy spent far more of his free time writing for fun than I can muster the energy for now.)

I see plenty of bad films and many more that are mediocre. So why do it? Why spend time doing something in which the distribution of films on a bad-to-great scale likely resembles a bell curve? The easy answer is that I like going to the movies, but I don't imagine that explanation is satisfactory. Instead, let me provide an example.

Tonight after work I went to see Conviction, a fact-based drama about a woman who spends years going to college and then law school so she can reopen the case of her brother, who has been convicted of murder yet who she maintains is innocent. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from it. The reviews have been mixed, and it looked more like awards bait than anything else. Like it or not, chances are it wasn't going to be anything essential.

As it turns out, it wasn't. I enjoyed the film. It's nothing fancy and doesn't really contain any surprises, but overall it's a well-acted and well-made movie. As an earnest and determined character, Hilary Swank gets a role in her wheelhouse--I much prefer her in serious parts--and performs wonderfully without overselling it. Likewise, the filmmakers don't apply the sentiment thickly.

Conviction isn't a great film, nor is it a manipulative tearjerker, yet I spent stretches of it on the verge of crying. Something about the intense love and devotion that this sister had for her brother really touched me. I don't think it would have made any difference if the story were a complete fiction. (I'd also wager that I'm more inclined to cry at movies with purity and goodness on display than sad scenes. Is this similar to those who cry at weddings?)

I've been stressed a lot lately, and while that wear and tear has eased some, I'm still kind of wiped out from everything. Nevertheless, I was with Conviction pretty much all the way and left the theater feeling better than when I walked into it. I suppose that is what, in some manner, I'm seeking when I watch any film or television program...or read a book or listen to music.

Art can provide catharsis via identification or enlightenment or entertainment or escapism. Maybe my seeking it in these places is reflective of deficiencies elsewhere. All I know is that sometimes it is necessary to go outside yourself to get a better understanding of the internal and the external. If that means getting choked up a bit at a solid prestige film, so be it.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hold music

Just feeling somewhat overwhelmed, tired, etc. I simply need to slow down. Circumstances haven't exactly cooperated, though. Hopefully back with something more meaningful tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Slide away

Maybe I could write about.... Nope.

How about... Nah.

(The promotional video features a better vocal performance and is a really great clip, but it's not permitted to be embedded.)

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Monday, November 01, 2010


Today the air was crisp and provided a reminder that autumn is here. The weather this season hasn't quite lived up to what I usually expect from the fall, so it was nice to get something more representative for this time of year.

At the grocery store I saw pumpkin pies and was tempted to purchase one. I resisted but the seed was planted. So I made one tonight. It didn't quite turn out. In an effort to make the healthier choice, I opted for the fat-free evaporated milk. The recipe called for sweetened condensed milk. Let's just say the pie could stand to be sweeter, even if it means more calories.

But a chill in the air! Pumpkin pie! Apple cider! Fall is here!

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