Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Stupidest Toys I've Ever Seen

Are these:

I mean...COME ON...Star Wars Transformers?

First of all, the packaging looks like something George Lucas created while having a seizure and dropping acid, simultaneously. My rods and cones are begging for mercy.

Second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth of all: THEY ARE FUGLY. Not to mention that combining two franchises like this --- ones with entirely disparate worlds, origins, and story mythos --- is absolutely retarded and downright insulting to us folks who grew up loving these stories, independently. George Lucas is a freakin' bajillionaire. I can't believe he'd stoop down to this to make more money. Well, actually, I DO believe it, but it's still disturbing.

Maybe it's his goiter egging him on or something: "Psst...PSSSST! Hey, George! It's me...your goiter. Listen, I have a R0XX0R idea: how about we combine your classic Star Wars characters with the Transformers and and release it in the market as some kind of eye-assaulting, fever-inducing toy? Kids will LOVE it! And we can totally capitalize on the money that the new Transformers resurgence will undoubtedly bring now that their lame-ass movie is coming out. What's that? NO? Oh, come on! I gave you that Jar Jar idea and look how well that turned out! Ok, I have to hurt you now; assume the torture position...."

If I were a kid and found these under the tree, I'd so totally make my parents go into the cornfield....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Whew. I'm Alive, Somehow!

Somehow I managed to survive Thanksgiving and the drive down to my sister's house in Wake Forest, NC and back to Philly. It was a very long, arduous drive down there: just over 9 hours. And I think it was something like 7.5 coming back. The drive should take about 6.5.

We had a great time, though, while there. We went to see a movie, The Prestige. You know, about the magicians? It was good. I'd recommend it. For the following 5 reasons:

5) Does Michael Caine EVER disappoint? No. Well, except maybe Blame It on Rio....
4) You get to see Andy Serkis do something else besides Gollum/Smeagol
3) Christian Bale. Crazy as all get-out in this movie. (Incidentally, I cannot believe Christian Bale is like 2 years younger than me. No way. He looks MUCH older.)
2) Hugh Jackman. Even crazier, if you can imagine it.

And the number 1) and best reason of all: David Bowie is in it. He plays Nikola Tesla. He like totally BURNINATES! Seriously, I think he's the best part. He does a fabulous job portraying the brilliant, somewhat eccentric, stoic Hungarian. A very controlled performance. Thumbs up to Ziggy Stardust.

So here's the latest kids' Christmas scarves update: 3 done; 2 to go! I will try to remember to take pictures of them all. Oh! AND my secret pal got her 2nd package! And she sent me a very nice e-mail thanking me for the goodies. I'm glad she's liking everything. I am such a worry wart about getting just the right things for people!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello friends:

Wishing you a wonderful, food-filled, fun Thanksgiving Holiday! If you are traveling,
please have a safe journey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Loading Picture...

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Moebius Scarf

Last Thursday I attended a knitting group with my friend, Marsha. A lot of familiar faces were there too : Katie, Beth, and Bobbi! At this meeting, we were treated to a special instruction on how to make a Moebius Scarf. The scarf is based on the mathematical concept of the "Moebius Strip."

Ok so what is the Moebius Strip, you ask? This. And here is some more info about it.

Well, there are several ways to achieve this in knitting. One way is to knit a long rectangle, then give it a half twist and then seam together the opposite ends. This is called the Transverse Method. The problem with this is that you have a seam. This is kind-of like the "cheater's" way of knitting a Moebius! Well, Pat, our knitting fearless leader, taught us how to do it the REAL way!

I could try to explain here how to cast on and knit a Moebius ring, but it would take me forever to do it. So you might find the explanations at the websites listed below helpful for this:,2025,DIY_14142_4894528,00.html

Just let me say that the casting on is very hard to understand in writing, yet so easy to grasp visually. You need to use a very long circular needle. I attached two 19-inch Denise cables together to size 8 needles, forming a 47" circular needle. I managed to cast on just fine. When I started to knit my first row, which is a BEAR, let me tell you, my connector piece in between the two cables came undone, and I lost a stitch or two. Ut oh. Well, by that point we were about 40 minutes from packing up and leaving, so I figured I'd try it again on my own.

The next day, I tried it using different yarn, different size needles and ONE 40" cable. What a difference! I don't know how I managed to retain all the information about the cast on, but I did! Let that stand as a testament to Pat's excellent teaching ability! Once you get beyond the first round of knitting, it's as easy as pie.

Here's a picture of it almost finished, still on the needles:

And this is a picture of the finished product. I used Knit Picks Suri Dream yarn --- only one ball! The scarf is about 8 inches wide and the ring is 36 inches around.

This was so fast to knit that I might make a few as gifts! They are SO unique and do have some other benefits besides just looking neat-o. If you make a really long one, you can double it up and make a double cowl with it! Also, because of the continuous line that the Moebius creates, this scarf folds against itself (as you can see from the picture) and lays nice and flat against your chest under a coat. And, the size that I made can also be brought down over the shoulders as a little capelet! How cool is that?

Oh and Christmas kids' scarves update: 2 complete, 3 to go. Official date of the party: December 17. I think I'm going to make it!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

In Pain From Laughing

Thank you, Nicole.

Friday, November 17, 2006

For My SP9 Hostess: Washcloth for Contest 2!

Well here it is: my first ever washcloth!

I used a pattern from the Dishcloth Boutique called "Waved Welt." This pattern is on page 5. Yes, there are that many dishcloth/washcloth patterns at the website! I really like this pattern. I will probably use it again. I think it's very fitting for a washcloth.

Since this was my first washcloth, AND I am not great at purling, you can probably see that my initial rows are a little more loose than the rest of it (the cast-on row is at the top). By the second go-round of the wave pattern, I was much more comfortable purling. And it shows. But all in all, not bad for my first effort.

With this variegated-color yarn, it's hard to see the wave pattern. So here's a close up:

And a big thank-you to Patty, my SP9 hostess, for making it a fun Secret Pal exchange by having these little activities! :-)

Oh, I See. So It's MY Fault Now?

I have an e-mail account with a place called Cashette. The idea behind it is very good: you won't get any spam in your inbox unless the sender pays you an amount that you set in advance. So if you set it at $.25, then that means that any spammer would have to pay you $.25 to have their e-mail make it to your inbox. I don't know how this works, or how the money is exchanged, but what I do know is that it DOES keep spam out of my inbox. This is a good thing.

However, Cashette often has problems. The server is often down or can't be found. Sometimes I can't move messages from one folder to another. Sending attachments is damn near impossible. The reply-to option is wonky, at best. Et cetera. This is a bad thing.

Today, I tried to log on and I got this message:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Apache/2.0.43 Server at Port 80

Ok, so, wait. Let me read that second sentence again: "Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error."

Excuse me? "Anything you might have done that may have caused the error?" You know what, Cashette? GO TO HELL! Do not blame ME for your crappy server. Geez.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

All My Children

Here they are, all in one place at the same time --- a rare event, to be sure. They are all looking out the back door into my yard. Oh, actually, I should write it as: "yard." Yes, in Philadelphia, your backyard is in actuality an 18' x 10' concrete rectangle, which contains your central air-conditioning unit, a trash can, and a few weeds and is enclosed by a chain-link fence.

I have no earthly idea why these animals (the boys in particular) are so intrigued by the yard. Todd has let them out there a few times. The girls choose to stay inside. Thus proving that girls are smarter even in the animal kingdom. But Titus and Hercules can't wait to run out there, especially Hercules. Sometimes, he cries and paws at the back door when it's closed because he wants to go out there.

One of us is usually there to supervise when they go out. We have to, because of Titus. See, the cold fact is that Titus is smarter than Hercules. When Titus goes out there, he scopes out the confines of the yard and examines the perimeter for any weaknesses he can exploit. Yeah. One time, he tried to jump the fence. I caught him, though, before he could do it. Hercules just wanders around sniffing the air. When we go over to him to pick him up and bring him back in, he runs over to us, tail all up, happy to see us. When we go over to Titus to pick him up and bring him in, it's another story entirely. He wriggles out of your grasp and out of reach, then he flips himself over onto the ground, completely stretches out, and stiffens up so that you can't pick him up without like jamming your fingers into his soft belly, which he KNOWS I won't do because I don't want to hurt him. See? Smart(er). Yet, as smart as he is, Titus is still too dumb to realize how good a life he has in my house. I let him get away with murder, seriously.

This morning, in fact, I discovered that sometime in the middle of the night he stole one of my nice earrings. I have no idea where he put it. He probably ate it. Sigh...I guess I have to keep an eye on the contents of the litter boxes during the next couple of days. Swell.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please...
Won't you please?
Please won't you be...
My neighbor?

No. Really. Please? I have the worst freakin' neighbors in the world. Seriously. It's the house right next door. And I live in a row-home, so it's OMFGRIGHTNEXTDOORWALLTOWALLONTOPOFUS.


I don't even know where to begin to describe the horror that is my next-door neighbor. About eight months ago, we started noticing some shady-looking people traipsing in and out of their house. Todd called them "hobos." It was actually really funny, at first. They DID look like hobos. One time, I saw one straggly guy go in there with a banjo. I laughed for about three days. They would play music and sing and laugh and whatever. Fine.

Then one night we noticed they had their stereo on REALLY LOUD, and I think it was Prince's Let's Go Crazy or 1999 playing. Odd choice of music for hobos, especially since I last saw them with a banjo and a harmonica. Unless...they were having a...


Oh yes. That's right. I couldn't make this up if I tried, dear readers. Yeah, so.... That's about all I want to say about that.

So we started calling them "Hobo Orgy" whenever we referred to them. Why? A) because it's funny and B) because it's so utterly bizarre! It was never really that bad, just kind of weird and funny in a shake-your-head kind-of way. So we spent all summer listening to their random acts of hoboness and such. Later in the summer, we started to suspect that some shady shit was going down in that house---way shadier than any hobo orgy could ever be.

Then one day --- a Friday --- in late August, I was off from work. I planned to go to a few car dealerships to look at some new, more fuel-efficient cars so I could unload my crappy car. (It's a 2003 Saturn Ion. I had a Saturn SL2, which I adored. These new Saturns leave a lot to be desired, let me tell you....) Anyway, I was outside spiffying up my car, which was parked right out front. This woman, who I'd never seen before, comes out of the Hobo Orgy house: a petite, slim woman with frosted blond hair worn up in a pony tail. She looked TIRED. I mean like totally beat. I cringed as she started up a conversation with me, during which she identified herself to me, but I am changing the name to protect all hobos around the world. So let's Here's the gist of the conversation:

JB: Man, that's a nice car.
Me: Yeah, thanks. It's ok.
JB: It's like a nice size and all. It looks brand new! What kind of car is that, anyway?
Me: It's a 2003 Ion. Actually, I am trying to get rid of it. That's why I'm cleaning it up out here. Heh.
JB: Damn, really? What's wrong with it?
Me: Nothing. Other than that it gets really crappy gas mileage.
JB: How much do you want for it?
Me: Well, I am still making payments, so I need to trade it in with a dealer.
JB: Ohhh. Yeah. How much do you owe on it?
Me: Hmmm...about $5000. But it's worth about $8200.
JB: Dang. That's a sweet car.
Me: [Wishing the skies would open and torrential rain or hail or a plague of locusts would come down so I can END this conversation!]
At this point, Jo-Beth got off her step, moved across the street, and sat on a step there, facing our houses.
JB: I wish I could afford to buy it from you. My name's Jo-Beth, by the way.
Me: Oh...I'm Gina.
JB: Yeah, see, I had a car once. A really nice car. It was a 2004 Ford Taurus. God, I loved that car....
Me: Why did you get rid of it?
JB: Well...I didn't. See, one night I got pulled over for driving erratically or something. And I was like FUCKED UP on drugs. So that caused them to search the car, and they found stuff. And I got arrested and put in jail.
Me: Oh...that's...a shame....
JB: So yeah, it was either pay like $5000 to get the car out of impoundment or pay for the lawyer to get me out of jail.
Me: Yeah, what can you do, huh? [I was actually incredulous that she was sharing this information with ME.]

Then after some more idle chat about cars, her cellphone rang, and she went inside. Thank Christ!

Later that same day, after a rather ho-hum visit to the Nissan dealership, Todd and I were playing Warcraft. It was about 2:00 pm, or so. Todd was in the basement and I had the laptop upstairs in the living room. We started hearing loud, crashing noises from Hobo Orgy house. It sounded like they were smashing furniture against the walls. That, or a herd of rhinoceros on crack was running through the house. I said out loud: "What the crap are they DOING in there?! Sounds like they are playing frickin' Jumanji." New nickname: Jumanji House!

Then we heard a woman screaming in tandem with the crashing and banging. Jo-Beth, I assume. Her blood-curdling screams were mingled in with the voices of at least two different male voices. We couldn't tell what was happening. Were they beating the living crap out of her? Or was she merely throwing shit around? Or were they, indeed, playing Jumanji? At any rate, I was scared for her. So we called the cops. The cops came and everything settled down in there for a little while, at least --- and by "a little while" I mean a couple of hours. By dinner time, they were at it again: banging, smashing, yelling, crashing, etc.

So we've lived for a few months now with Jumanji Hobo Orgy house. In the last month or so, things have gotten much worse. Yes, WORSE. I couldn't tell you how old Jo-Beth is. She could be 45, but she she could just as easily be be a really well-worn 25. The "man of the house," so-to-speak, also looks older than he probably is. We have him pegged at around age 45, but again, he could be younger. His name is...uh...Luke. Anyway, we've noticed several very young (say 18-23), very scary-looking guys going in and out of the house next door at all hours. Whenever they are in there, raging, incoherent arguments ensue, complete with Jumanji sound effects. We've put our ears to the wall with a glass to get a better listen to what's going on. Usually, we end up hearing mostly unintelligible yelling and cursing, peppered with some rather absurd words and phrases. For example, one time, Todd was sure he heard: "cursing...yelling...yeah, get that ass...cursing...blabber...get that condom on...blabber...cursing...stool softener...yelling...." No female voices. Not kidding. So then we were like, "Oh swell, it's...


Sigh. Then they do other bizarre things. Such as, run the vacuum for three hours at a time and/or at 1:00 in the morning, block the upstairs master-bedroom window by propping up a large picture and mirror in front of it, are awake at all hours of the day; they never seem to sleep, etc., etc. Lately, Todd has had to call them at the wee hours of the morning to ask them to lower their music or television, or both, since they often have both media going at the same time. A prime example:

A couple of weeks ago, we were kept up ALL night by their music, TV, vacuum, and general hoboness. At one point they turned the volume way up on both some Luther Vandross song and Me So Horny, playing at the same freakin' time! It was so loud it that it sounded like Luther had risen from his grave and was standing in our bedroom singing with full accompaniment. And did I mention it was 3:00 am? Yeah, it was three freakin' o'clock in the morning. Todd and I bickered about what to do about this intolerable situation for a half hour. He decided to call them. No answer. He went and rang their doorbell. Three times. No answer. We were at our collective wit's end. What's left to do? Call the cops, again. So we did. About three minutes later, our phone rings. It's Luke from next door. Our number showed up on his caller ID. The conversation went something like this:

Todd: Hey, it's Todd next can you PLEASE lower your stereo?
Luke: Oh, yeah, hey man! Well you know I'm just in here with my girl and we're getting romantic so you gotta play that Luther Vandross, y'know!
Todd: Um, yeah, but dude, it's 3:30 in the morning.
Luke: Oh yeah, sorry, man. We'll go lower it. How's that?
Todd: Uh...a little more. These walls are like paper-thin or something.
Luke: Ok, how about now?
Todd: Ok that's good. Thanks, man.
Luke: No problem, man!

We let out a sigh of relief, and settled into the bed to finally --- at long last --- get some sleep. Ahhh.... OH SHIT! THE COPS ARE COMING! Note for future reference: When you call the police, you cannot undo that action. Just remember that. They were coming. Todd said, "I gotta call him back to tell him." Luke was surprisingly calm and understanding when we told him that we called the cops on him. He actually said to Todd, "Yeah, it's ok. I've dealt with them before. They've come out here for other things...." I can only imagine.

Last night we were jilted out of sleep at about 12:45 am because Luke next door decided to repeatedly POUND SOMETHING WITH A HAMMER. I thought he was going to break through our bedroom wall. We waited about ten minutes, and he stopped. We fell back to sleep. About a half hour later, we were, once again, awakened from a sound sleep by the same hammering. Todd, fuming, gets on the phone and calls him:

Todd: Dude...
Luke: I know, I know! I just have two more nails left and then I'm done! I promise!
Todd: ...Ok.

What the fuck? I mean seriously? How can he think it is in any way justifiable to hammer nails into God-only-knows-what at 1:30 in the morning? Any normal person would know that this is unacceptable. That's why we think they are involved in some serious drugs over there. Their behavior is not only rude and inconsiderate, but also erratic, senseless, and bizarre.

Todd woke up one morning after a particularly rough night and while still laying in bed simply uttered, "Murder. Death. Fire." It was pretty funny, but also a real testament to the importance of having even just a halfway-decent neighbor. So if you who are reading this out there in blogland have a great neighbor, or a good one, or even an ambivalent one, then thank whatever higher being you believe in for that rather overlooked and unappreciated gift.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

YAY! Thank You, Secret Pal!

Well after a rather blah day at work today, I came home to find some packages waiting for me at the door, which always cheers me up. I ordered a bunch of yarn from a couple of places, so I was happy to see that it arrived so quickly.

Also peeking out at me was a brown, soft parcel from Canada. I was so excited to see that it was a package of goodies from my Secret Pal!

I am absolutely thrilled with everything contained in that parcel! Thank you so much for your very thoughtful gifts. I have taken some photos of my goodies! :-)

Here is a picture of everything she sent me:

Left to right: 2 BIG balls of gorgeous red yarn, a bag of coffee, magnets, a toy kitty, a notebook with a polka-dot, 4-way reversible cover (how cool is that?), a tin box of exotic teas and a really pretty card!

Ok that little yellow toy cat...could you just DIE from how cute is? I mean, really. Look at it up close! And guess what? IT WINDS UP AND WALKS! To the left of my new little kitty pal are really cute magnets!

I am so excited about trying the tea! They come in silken bags! How luxurious! I love tea, especially herbal teas, which these are. These are almost too pretty to use! Here's a close up:

And now, the yarn! First of all, it is a gorgeous, deep, rich red. Like a candy apple! Apparently this yarn came hot off the presses, so-to-speak, from my secret pal's local spinner! It's so beautiful and the skeins are HUGE. And, I am a very sensory person, so I tend to smell everything, even if it's something where the smell is not even a factor. Like, for instance, yarn. Who smells yarn? I do! I know, I know; I'm nuts. Anyway this yarn smells so good! So natural and earthy with nutty and cedar undertones. I love it!

How does that poem go? ...Nothing gold ever stays....? Yeah, well then the cats started swarming around. Here's Ophelia:

Then Titus. This is a funny photo because if you look closely, Titus is just about in the same pose as the little wind-up toy cat:

Now these next photos are of some of the yarn I bought. I decided to try Lorna's Laces. This is one of her chunky yarns in 80% wool and 20% silk. It's SUPER soft. Just gorgeous. The color is called "mineshaft," which I forever keep wanting to call "Drive Shaft." Damn you, Lost! But I digress. Anyway, the photos just do NOT do this color combination any justice. It's like a very light mauve into silver into charcoal into taupe. It so beautiful. And Titus thought so too...:

Oh and I just HAD to get it because...well...see, my main character on World of Warcraft is a Dwarf hunter named Lorna. Seriously. And well, this yarn is Lorna's Laces and the color is "mineshaft," and my Lorna is a Dwarf, after all, so naturally I gave her mining as a was just meant to be. Right? Ok, look, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Well, They Got It Right...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Northeast

The Midland

The Inland North

The South


The West

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Knitting: The Fast and the Furious

So, I finished the second market bag (the salmon and sage colored one) on Monday. It came out a lot better than the first one. Oddly enough, it's about the same size as the other one and, at the behest of Marsha, I made the handles a little longer too and I still have a bit of yarn left over. Why I ran out of yarn on the first one and not this one...well...who knows? Maybe one of the skeins was a few yards short. That happens.

Anyway, I will try to get a picture on here soon!

Now I have started what I like to call "the fast and furious scarf-knitting marathon of 2006." Let me explain. Every year at Christmas time, my good friend Julie hosts a holiday party at her house. She has a three-year-old boy named Gaetano. She invites a lot of people, mostly all female, mostly all with kids. Well, her sister-in-law has an eight-year-old daughter named Gianna. Then Julie invites our friend from grade school, Dana. Dana has THREE daughters, ages 9, 6, and 4, I believe. Names are: Kristen, Madison, and Alyssa? I think? I don't know. Whatever. All I know is every time I go to one of these get-togethers it makes me want to get on my knees and thank God for Margaret Sanger and Gregory Pincus....

The point is --- and I DO have a point --- that Christmas is for kids. And every year I end up buying these kids some random junk from Toys-R-Us, which they enjoy for all of about 4 minutes. Then they schlep it all back home and probably forget about the stuff until, say, Dana steps on one particularly pointy, plastic object sometime in February, causing her to exclaim, "Goddamn you, Gina, for buying them this stupid crap!"

So, this year, I am making everyone scarves. Oh yes. The benefit of this is three-fold. Gather and surmise:

1) I get to use up the boa, eyelash, and fun-fur yarn in my stash that, otherwise, I would probably never use for myself or any other adult. This makes room for MORE YARN. And any endeavor that leads to more yarn is ok by me.

2) The kids actually get something useful and each one will be different. I think their parents will appreciate this. There is no worry about sizing either and just maybe instead of cursing my ancestors in February, Dana would instead exclaim, "It's 14 degrees outside, thank God they have those rockin'-cool, hand-knit scarves that Gina made. Thank God for you, Gina. Thank God for you!" And what eight-year-old girl wouldn't want a funky, feathery, soft, purple, blue, and green scarf?

3) I don't have to spend any money. None --- well, none until I buy more (even nicer!) yarn to fill up the space vacated by the kiddie-stuff. But seriously, I have everything I need in my stash.

Now, will I be able to complete 5 scarves in about 5 weeks? I think so! They're kid-sized, so they don't need to be as wide or as long as adult scarves. And since I am using 2 strands of yarn: like a wool-type yarn with fun fur or eyelash, etc., I don't have to make any fancy stitches. The yarn does all the talking. Just garter stitch all the way, baby! And because I am using 2 strands, the scarves are being knit-up on big needles, too.

I just might have time to start cabling too! Maybe.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Coffee, Pastries, Knitting and Kicking Santorum Out of Office--- What Could Be Better?!

First let me just segue into this post by admitting to you that I am a complete moron for a) not bringing my camera and b) not remembering that I have a camera on my phone.

That said, let me tell you what a great time I had at the Starbucks on Rte. 100 in Exton, PA last night! Marsha, my friend who taught me how to knit, arranged a knitting-group meeting for a bunch of us knitting folk. Marsha thought a "first Tuesday of the month" regular get-together would be neat idea, and indeed, it was! Also in attendance were Beth and Katie, who I already knew and who are also SP9 participants, and I met two new awesome ladies named Bobbie and Linda.

I was, by far, the least-experienced knitter there. But I in no way felt discouraged or "out of my league," so-to-speak. These are some really super-nice, super-talented ladies! We were all having a grand old time discussing yarn stashes, needles, projects, and where the hell does mohair come from. Then, an employee of Starbucks approached our group. (We later learned that her name was Mandy.) I immediately thought, "Oh, crap. She's coming to put the smack-down on us. We're being too loud and/or not drinking enough of their coffee to keep us welcome here." Instead, we were pleasantly surprised by an offer to participate in a "coffee tasting" with free samples of coffees and pastries! Katie said, "Who would say 'no' to this?!" I agree!

So Mandy brought out 3 different coffees: House Blend, Yukon, and their 2006 Christmas coffee with three different types of pastry, which I think were a blueberry crumb cake, oatmeal cookies, and a cinnamon pound cake. Mandy explained exactly what the difference is between coffee brewed via French press and coffee brewed with percolator or a drip coffee maker. All the coffee she served us was brewed using a French press. She showed us the proper way to take in the aroma of coffee, and how to sip/slurp it through our front teeth to get the best reaction with our tongues. It's much like wine-tasting, except you don't spit it out. :-P

We also learned from Mandy that she was part of a special "coffee masters" program at Starbucks. She will be learning all about coffee: how it's grown; how soil, elevation, and harvesting processes will vary the flavors of coffee; how aging the beans changes the texture of the coffee, etc. She will eventually earn a "black apron" and be an expert on coffee. She already seemed very knowledgeable to me! And she was oh-so right about how the coffees we tasted had different bodies, flavors, undertones, and smoothness.

What a great experience! So we are planning to go do our little knitting group every first Tuesday of the month. Mandy said that she had more to teach us and more for us to taste! So Marsha is going to do her best to coordinate our knitting group meeting with Mandy's work schedule! SWEEEEEEEEEET.

Say what you will about Starbucks as a corporation. But they make DAMN GOOD coffee!


As if the day couldn't get any better, Pennsylvanians finally got their heads out of their asses and collectively said "go to hell" to Rick Santorum. How he managed to get elected in the first place and then to get re-elected six years ago will forever remain a mystery to me. This man is not only a misogynist but a complete idiot. A swell combination. To wit:

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.
--Santorum, 10/06, as quoted by the Bucks County Courier Times

OK. a) what the fuck is he talking about? and b) the fuck is he talking about?

Oh, what? Not convinced? Here you go:

"And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution."
-- Senator Rick Santorum, Republican from Pennsylvania, 2003

I guess he never took a class in Logic, Philosophy, History, Sociology, Political Science, or -- oh yeah -- the frelling United States CONSTITUTION. Why am I not surprised?

Anyway, it's all moot, and water under the proverbial bridge, and such and such, seeing that he's gone now, thankfully --- hopefully back to Leesburg, Virginia, where he really lives....

Monday, November 06, 2006

And now...

one of the greatest things I have ever seen:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Knitting Updates

So, I have not yet purchased that cube bookshelf thing from Ikea. But I succumbed to the temptation to buy more yarn! I KNOW! I bought some stuff from Knitpicks---just simple bulky wool yarn and cable holders---to try my hand at cabling. I'll start out simple: a couple of scarves.

When I was in NC, I got 2 knitting books that are done by the makers of Vogue Knitting magazine for 40% off at Barnes & Noble. Volume 1: Knit and Purl and Volume 2: Cables. These are outstanding books. Nicely done with very fine images. There really aren't any "patterns" in them for a start-to-finish completed project. They are more like ultimate reference books of stitches that you can incorporate into any pattern! Well the cabling book is just fantastic and very inspiring! I can't wait to get started on cabling!

I was so impressed with those 2 books that I told my friend Marsha about them. She said, "Oh yeah! I have that cabling book! Did you get the color one? I think that's volume 3." She showed me Volume 3: Color Knitting, and I knew I had to have it! Then Marsha said, "If there are a bunch of books you want to get, you might be interested in joining the Crafter's Choice Book Club." This is an amazing program. It sort of works like Columbia House or BMG does with CDs. Basically, you pick 4 books for $1 each. Then you have to buy 2 books at regular published prices over the next 2 years. But you have an option to buy 1 more book at 1/2 price right away, which means you only have to buy ONE book at full price in 2 years! And once you fulfill that commitment, then you don't have to buy anything else and you can even cancel your membership. So I joined! I got that delectable Volume 3 book and 4 others, including Mason-Dixon Knitting, which I am also excited about. I am stoked about those washcloths! With shipping and tax, I got 5 high-end knitting books for around $31. You can't beat that! Here's the webpage if anyone wants to check it out.

Currently, I am about 1/3 done the second market bag. I've taken some photos. The bag knits up inside-out. So the stockinette stitch is on the inside as you knit, but this is actually the outside of the bag. I think I like this color combo better than the other one. It seems to stripe better.

In the picture below, I turned the bag right-side-out so you can kind-of see what it will look like when it's done. This bag is SO easy and fast to make. The most tedious part is picking up and knitting the 100 stitches around that bottom part (square, garter-stitch piece you start the pattern with). Once you get going up the sides, it's super fast!

And I STILL want to buy that Eleanor Roosevelt hand-painted yarn made by Schaefer....Oh the temptations!