Sunday, February 21, 2010


Over here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What I do when it snows.


The snowstorm came and went, leaving a lot of snow in its wake. I haven't actually been out of my apartment since Friday night, so it didn't affect me that much. Saturday morning I cleaned and did a new (to me) exercise video, which seriously kicked my butt. I took a nap in the afternoon, watched junk on the computer, and knit on my seasilk clapotis. The snow stopped late afternoon, but I wasn't that motivated to get out and go. Sunday I woke up to beautiful weather. It was gorgeous, and I should have been up and about, except for the fact that I was (for 3 days) so sore from the video that movement was challenging.

Now we're in the throes of another snowstorm, and the view from my window looks like this:
Sorry for the blur - my camera isn't that great for nighttime photos taken through a dirty window. Everything appears to be closed for tomorrow, but I'll be walking in to the lab regardless, as I have some things to do. Luckily, it's not a difficult walk, just a mile, but it will be kind of messy out there. I don't have to stay too long, and then I think I will be back home to enjoy some quiet time to myself. My neighbors all seem to be very excited about their unexpected day off, and are up late and being really loud, which I'm not excited about. I probably would be if I was staying home too, frankly.

Knitting has been sporadic, as usual, and I'm fighting the urge to cast on for about 10 new things. Tonight I took advantage of not having as many urgent tasks to deal with and updated my stash page on Ravelry. Over the weekend, I finished my first two knits of the year - one that had been languishing, the other was a quick and new knit.

The oldie was finishing my striped Opal socks started back in November when I was evidently looking for a simple mindless knit. I don't typically knit with the self-striping yarn, but it does seem to go faster. I was also quite amused that my socks ended up almost identical without my trying. I think they are about a row off. I now have only 3 pairs of socks left to go, and hopefully I will have less trouble with second sock syndrome.

The quick knit was a replacement for my sadly misplaced hat. I found this pattern, the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret on Ravelry, thought it was cute, and whipped up a hat while watching a movie on Sunday night. I like the hat better than I liked the movie (Notting Hill). I'm not sure it's entirely successful - the cables make an interesting texture, but I don't think it reads that well in this hat. It is, however, cute, and I think the slouchy berets are kind of flattering. I used about a skein and a half of Tahki Yarns Tweedy Alpaca, which is also a nice yarn. The tweedy bits aren't very tightly incorporated into the yarn, so they will fall out, but the stuff was soft, pleasant to work with, and not bad elasticity. I knit the brim with a twisted rib so that it would hold shape better. This is one thing I have learned from making this kind of beret a few times.

I don't have photos of either of them, but I also put some time into my clapotis and into a lace scarf that I have been working on since March of 2008. I think that scarf is on the top of my list of things I want to finish. It's a simple pattern, just a matter of plowing through it and getting it done. I'm not doing any Knitting Olympics, and I'm not making any promises regarding my knitting promiscuity, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of ongoing projects, so I'm trying to wrap a few up before I start anything new.

Like Minions. Or Endpaper Mitts. Or a chevron hat. Or another beret. Of course I'm not looking at patterns. Really.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I lost my favorite hat.

Last weekend I was out and about on Sunday, taking advantage of living in a city and ignoring the fact that I had no heat. I've been grumbling about that a lot lately, but it's been a recent major frustration in my life, as now I never know if my apartment is going to be too hot or freezing cold. (At the moment, it's too hot. In some ways I prefer no heat.) Anyhow, a friend and I were wandering about and we went to a restaurant to get pho, and I think I left my Selbu Modern hat there. I'm a bit sad. On the other hand, hats are relatively quick, it's an opportunity to knit something new, and I definitely have the yarn to knit a hat. Plus, despite the fact that I loved that hat, it had room for improvement, and this time I know I should switch the contrast color to the other hand, and I've got the opportunity to pick out two new colors to play with.

In the meantime, I have too many things on the needles, and not enough time to finish anything. We're under a snowstorm warning for the weekend, however, which means I have made few plans to do much, leaving me plenty of opportunity to knit something. I'm woefully behind on the cleaning, plus there's always laundry piling up, but generally, I think this weekend might be an opportunity to get myself together again and back on track for a number of things. I've got photos in the camera, so a post may be in the works.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It may be a sigh of relief.

winter beach

After a lot of procrastinating, and a lot of thinking and reading and rewriting, I think my grant application may finally be done. It's almost 2am, and I've sent the (hopefully) final draft (it just needs to have references added in and my reference software is being defiantly uncooperative) in to my PI and to two friends for added eyeballing. I would go to sleep now, but I had coffee with my dinner, at about 8, and that was not a bright idea considering how little coffee I'm typically drinking these days.

I am somewhat ashamed at the amount of procrastinating I indulged in while writing this. Clearly I'm out of practice writing, but I also feel like I'm out of practice thinking. Just goes to remind me how much MORE work I really should be doing, most of the time. And that's just frustrating sometimes.

Anyhow, that's the not-so fascinating stuff going on in my life. In the rest of my time, I've been doing the usual - playing Bejeweled 2 obsessively, cooking things, watching CSI:SVU and occasionally knitting things. I am still in the grips of a wicked bout of startitis and fighting yarn buying urges. I went to a knitting group gathering on Saturday, where we worked on sock yarn blankets. I now want to buy tons and tons of mini skeins and swap them. I also restarted my blanket, as I didn't like the 13 squares I knit on size 3 needles, and decided to go down to size 2 needles instead. I now have 3 squares knit, but I'm in no hurry.

Today I also got the bug to knit a hat, and grabbed some Koigu to cast on for a new Purl beret, as the last one I knit is larger in the crown than I really wanted, due to the fact that I am a surprisingly loose knitter on size 3 needles. I started the hat, then realized that although I love the colors of this yarn - absolutely adore - they're knitting up like clown barf. I am thinking that I might make another chevron scarf with it instead, even though I know it's not the most exciting knit in the world. I tried gloves, but that was a disaster.

In the meantime, I have no shortage of things to work on. I'm loving knitting Clapotis again, this time with Handmaiden sea silk in a solid orange color. I'm also trying to finish a pair of fake isle socks, just a mindless knit but cute socks. They're especially timely as I had to darn two pairs of my oldest socks out of Knitpicks yarn. And yes, by darn I mean hold it over the garbage bag and say "darn." If there's light tomorrow, I may try to take some photos.

Speaking of tomorrow, my plan for the day is to go to the gym, check my email, and take the morning off. I want to go to the LYS to get some additional needles. I broke another 1.5 needle, and I need 2's in a smaller size. If there's yarn there, I might get something to make a hat. The afternoon is probably lab again, although if I don't have to be there, I'm going to go back home. This weekend didn't feel like much of a break, despite my not getting much accomplished.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Science and Momentum

I just read this and really liked it. It points out something I think people are woefully unaware of - scientists don't control their creations normally, and the public has to play a role in guiding the use of discoveries. If we take grant money, technically, we're working for your interests.

In other words, if it's important to you, speak up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Must be a blue moon, because I'm blogging...

blue moon
and there are pictures.

I got through the first week back from my vacation. Things are slowly picking up again - there's a bit of a lag from things shutting down, and I'll be back up to full speed in another 2 weeks. During the slow time, I'm working on a grant submission and we're cleaning and rearranging in the lab. I'm trying to readjust to being back here.

One of the strange things is that winter at my house looks a lot like this:


When I left my apartment, there was snow. (No complaint here - just strange to go from the ground covered with white stuff to the ground covered with leaves.)

Over break I worked on a few things, including some Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks.

Gent's closeup

It's a straightforward pattern, but with the usual nice little touches that Nancy Bush puts into her designs. Very clean, very clever refinements that no one would ever notice. Of course, I ran out of room in my suitcase and had to leave this behind. Hopefully it will be shipped back to me soon.

And for New Year's, I cast on for a new pair of socks. Neither the yarn nor the pattern is new to me, but the combination was novel. (Sanguine Gryphon Eidos, and of course Monkey.) I love this green.

monkey monkey

Knitting? There's tons of that going on. At least the starting part. I'm doing a KAL with my local group, and yes, I'm knitting a Clapotis again, this time out of orange sea silk. When I cleaned up my apartment, I found a scandalous number of things that are in progress, and if I get more organized, I might blog about them or even actually finish them... But I'm still working under the constraint of having little time for knitting. This isn't getting better any time soon, either. I'm still working long hours, plus I'm really trying to cook more meals for myself, and find time to read. Plus, my sister and I are having a bit of a competition - we have a pretty healthy sense of sibling rivalry, and we're trying to use that for good. Both of us have some weight to lose, and so we're competing - not for number of pounds lost, but for consistent weekly losses. There's money at stake too, but I think bragging rights are the key. In my case, that means I'm now trying to find time to exercise daily (in addition to walking to work.) Stuff will get finished, but it would be great if I could find a way to comfortably combine reading and knitting in the evening.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ranting and raving.

I uploaded photos to my computer last night, but ran out of steam before I wrote anything about them. The knitting can wait until later, however, as I have a rant.

This morning, I logged on to Facebook (a nasty habit, and one I really would give up, if it wasn't for Scrabble) and read a post by a colleague of mine. She's a fitness enthusiast, a fighter, actually, who is in enviable shape. As you might imagine, she is a regular attendee at the gym. Her post was about how she just laughs at the people who show up at the gym for 2 months before falling off the wagon and becoming fat and lazy, and how these people had no motivation.

On one hand, I understand her point. If you are a regular exerciser, it probably is very annoying to have more people at the gym, using the equipment you normally have all to yourself. However, I think it's really unfair to say these people don't have motivation. And frankly, it generates a hostile attitude at gyms, particularly for people who are making a genuine effort to try to get in shape. It's not easy to be on display, doing something that's hard, and nobody needs critical judgements when they are working out. (This is why I don't like the gym, and why I prefer running. When I'm on the street, and I pass another runner, I've never gotten anything other than a smile and a wave, regardless of how quickly or slowly I'm moving. Unfortunately, it's cold, and I need to run, and the treadmill is my only option, so I am waiting for my spanking new gym membership to activate.)

I don't necessarily agree with the idea of making grand New Year's resolutions - but at the same time, I think it's reasonable to take some time at even an arbitrary starting point to think about your life, figure out where you are, what you want, and how to get there. I think taking any steps to meet your goals is also a reasonable action.

There's another underlying point here, that I'm trying to get to. Last night I watched Michael Pollan's interview on The Daily Show. As a food enthusiast, I've been following the discussions about vegetarianism, sustainable agriculture and suchlike with a fair amount of interest. (A disclaimer here - I have not read Pollan's books, nor have I read Jonathan Safran Foer's latest book. I am also neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, and I am not, have never been, and will never be a member of any animal rights groups.) Again, I agree with some of the points that keep being made. We all should be eating more real food, less processed crap, and we should be engaging in much better animal husbandry and agricultural practices as evidenced by the increasingly more common outbreaks of food-borne illnesses (salmonella and E. coli O157 being obvious examples). BUT - and there's a big but here, we should also be aware that there is a class issue at play here.

Yup, I'm playing the elitist and classist card here.

Purchasing "organic" meats and produce (I'm sorry, my science background makes me hate the term) costs more money. Processed food costs less. We subsidize crap food, and it's cheaper to purchase and takes less time to prepare than real food. Pollan touched on this last night, and suggested we should stop the subsidies, without providing a real solution. I keep hearing people saying we should accept higher food costs, and try to live in a more sustainable way. Which is great - but a) we can't make enough affordable food for people that way, and b) there are a lot of people who are having financial troubles now as it is. What's the solution for people who aren't in the upper middle class or above? If you don't live in an urban area, it's not that easy to have access to the healthiest of foods. Plus, the urban folks I've met who suggest that Walmart is always an option have not lived in some of the rural areas I've been to. Walmart isn't always there, and a lot of them aren't like grocery stores. And finally, growing your own garden isn't realistic either - it's a matter of time, cost, and presumes you have access to land.

I think that we as a society have become increasingly more critical of the obese and overweight. It's always been an issue, but now greater negative commentary has become justified by health reasons and discussion of the "obesity epidemic." Time to exercise is not necessarily a given for all people - if you're working 2 jobs and taking care of children, it's unlikely you're going to have a lot of time to hit the gym, or even have the extra money to pay for a membership. My concern is that people are engaging in these discussions without considering the greater societal commentary they're making - it's not just about weight, or appearance, or what you're choosing to eat - it's part of a larger discussion about financial worth and societal status, and there are some much bigger issues that really need to be addressed.

I've been rambling here, and it's well past time for me to stop and get on with my day. Thanks for sticking with me.