Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On to less depressing things

Sort of, anyway. The scream some of you may have heard last night was me, realizing that when I dropped my digital camera over the weekend, I may have actually hurt the poor thing. It's been a tough camera, an Olympus C-3020. I've had it probably 5 years now and it's been everywhere, including three weeks in Ireland. But since the weekend, it's been a little flakey. When I first turned it on after the fall, it was throwing the occasional error message (no card, card door open, etc). Now, it has the occasional problem of not taking a picture when I press the shutter button. There's noise, it focuses, but no actual picture. That only happens maybe 20% of the time or less, so it's not a big problem, but it still sucks. I emailed Olympus for a repair quote, but I'm expecting them to laugh and say it's not worth the effort to fix something that old. And I was finally starting to get most of the features figured out and remembering to use them most of the time. On the other hand, the Olympus line that replaced it, which is what I'll probably get, is about $100 or so less than I spent for this one, twice the megapixels, and 10x zoom instead of 3x. Pretty sweet, even if I do have to switch from my obsolete SmartMedia cards to the tiny, easy-to-lose xD cards. For that price, I may also get a smaller refurbished Olympus that I can keep in my purse.

In other news, it's snowing here again, although not much accumulation, and darned cold. Single-digits at night, but still above Zero, so it could be worse. I can't find the pencil case with my crochet hooks, which is making it hard to finish the Acorn hat. And I've still got 1300+ emails to work through in my Yahoo inbox. That number does not include the emails I've saved in other folders.

And the Gilmore Girls episode last night was possibly my favorite this year. The only down sides were the insanity of the Sookie/Jackson story, and the lack of Lane or the original Marty. (The recent psycho-imposter-Marty doesn't count.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Requiescat in Pace

Sadness everywhere this week, it seems. I was online briefly this weekend and was reminded that this is NASA's bad week - the anniversaries of the Apollo I, Challenger, and Columbia losses. It's a bizarre coincidence that all three of NASA's major disasters have happened in this one seven-day period. Then I woke up Monday morning, got online, and read the news that Barbaro had been euthanized. Not an auspicious start to the week.

It's been 40 years since the fire on Apollo I, so I wasn't around at the time, but I've read about it and seen documentaries. I do remember when Challenger and Columbia were lost, though. It's very strange to realize that it's been 20 years since the Challenger explosion. I don't feel that old. I was in junior high then, I believe, and I guess we were too old to watch the launch on television with the younger kids at school. Our school must not have made any announcement to the junior high and high schools (we were all in one building), because I didn't hear about it until the bus ride home. One of the younger kids was talking about the explosion, and I remember thinking that he must have mistaken the launch flames for an explosion. I didn't find out until I got home that the Shuttle had exploded. I still get chills when I see footage of the launch. The Columbia, 4 years ago, I remember more clearly. I woke up, and DH was already awake and getting his daily news f ix. I walked in and he told me that Columbia had disintegrated on re-entry. It was a very numb day, we watched the news footage of people searching on foot for debris.

Every time one of these accidents happens, people start with the arm-chair quarterbacking, saying that space travel is too dangerous, and we should stick with unmanned missions. Space travel is dangerous, don't get me wrong, but life is dangerous no matter what. The astronauts knew about the risks, they're not stupid. Any sort of exploration has risks. Heck, getting in a car or a bathtub has risks - I've had two car accidents in parking lots. I found this quote from Virgil (Gus) Grissom, one of the astronauts who died in the Apollo I fire in 1967, and I think it says it all:

“If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.”

Virgil I. Grissom, after the Gemini 3 mission, March 1965

Then, Monday morning, Barbaro was euthanized after a serious setback. He'd survived 8 months after his accident in the Preakness Stakes, and until last weekend, things were looking up. The original injury to his hind leg was almost healed, and the vets were thinking that he might be released from the hospital soon. Unfortunately, his other three legs were not doing well under the stress, and an abcess in his other hind foot was apparently the straw that brought the whole house of cards down.

And already people are saying that the owners left it too long, that Barbaro was suffering needlessly and the owners were just in it for the money that he'd make at stud later on. I don't agree. If they were just in it for the money, they probably wouldn't be in horse racing to begin with. There's an old joke: How do you make a small fortune in horse racing? Start with a large fortune. Sure, it's a joke, but there's some truth to it. From a strictly financial (and non-emotional) point of view, the owners would have been better off putting Barbaro down on the track at the Preakness and collecting the insurance money.
Because I haven't heard even rumors or chat about the vet bills, but I can guarantee it'll be a large enough number to make me pass out from shock. It would take a lot of stud fees to pay that off. Even if he had survived, there was no guarantee that he'd ever be sound enough to breed (a), or that if he could be bred, that he'd be fertile at all (b), or be enough of a success at stud to make a profit (c).

(a) - from what I read, it was a tossup as to whether Barbaro would ever be sound enough to breed naturally. The Jockey Club doesn't accept artificial insemination, so if Barbaro couldn't breed naturally, he couldn't make any money as a TB sire. Other options would be breeding him to produce Appendix Quarter Horses and cross-bred sporthorses, but I doubt whether those options would have the same level of stud fees.
(b) - it's not unheard of for TBs to have fertility problems.
(c) - and even if they are fertile, they're not always a success at stud. Secretariat, one of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century, wasn't raking in the money at stud and never produced any offspring that matched his records. However, he was a good broodmare sire, and I believe his grandkids outproduced the first generation.

I was really hoping that he'd make it, even if he was just a pasture ornament for the rest of his life. He was a beautiful horse, and a tough nut to the end.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Such a tiny dent

The dent in my car (see yesterday's accident) looks so small. Not like last time, when I was rear-ended and the whole stinking bumper was dangling. But, according to the repair estimate, it's not so small. Over $500, for crying out loud, including labor. I guess paint blending is a slow job. Oy. On the up side, if they repainted the whole door, they would take out probably 20% of the door dings. You can tell that Blue spends a lot of time in parking lots.

So, it's Friday. It's amazingly warm outside (forecast says 50 degrees tomorrow, 30 the next day). Snow and ice are melting like crazy, and I'm sitting here drinking hot chocolate. Swiss Miss English Toffee, from a box with no date on it, and I don't remember when we bought it. SM used to make a yummy raspberry truffle hot chocolate, but I haven't been able to find it again. I guess I didn't buy enough to make it profitable. And I'm sitting here with more than 1,300 messages in my Yahoo inbox, which isn't even my main email account. Sheesh. It started when El Burrito was born, and may never get better. I used to keep the inbox below 50 messages, back when there was limited storage. Now, you get 1GB, so I've got less incentive right now to keep it cleaned out.

In other news - new television shows tonight. Monk, Psych, and the repeat of Monday's Heroes on Sci Fi. So nice of USA and Sci Fi to run staggered seasons. It's been a nice week, TV-wise. Tuesday's Gilmore Girls was one of the better episodes this season. The end of the Lorelai/Christopher run may be in sight, although poor Keiko Agena was wearing the most unbelievable pregnant-with-twins costume I've ever seen. Plus, new Veronica Mars and NCIS, Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, and another disc of the Murphy Brown DVDs.

But television isn't my only entertainment. I've been working through the stack of library books. I managed to finish the latest Tony Hillerman, Shape Shifters, although I seemed to finish this one f aster than I used to. Possibly I'm just reading faster and not paying as much attention to detail. But still a good mystery, even though I haven't read the series entries immediately preceding this one. Also managed to get the first Dresden Files novel, Storm Front, from the library (thus leading to yesterday's little problem) and finished it this morning. It was pretty good, so I'll probably end up finally buying the rest of the series from Amazon. As soon as I figure out for sure which I already have. Lets just say I've got a lot of books, 80% in boxes for a hopefully-impending move. Hence, the Mega Spreadsheet, listing almost every book I own, by author, title, ISBN, and more. It's big.

And next week my yarn order will arrive, so I'll have to try and finish the Acorn Hat this weekend. Then I can start on the next project, whatever that turns out to be.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An interesting day

It was an interesting day, we'll say. Managed to get myself and El Burrito ready to go out for lunch with DH - it only took 35 minutes to get everything dressed, packed, and out to the car. And we didn't forget anything for the errand-running after lunch.

The down side of the day - a very minor accident at the library parking lot, where I (my car, actually) managed to be in the path of another car that was backing out. So much for the quick 2-minute trip while DH entertained the little boy. Only a tiny dent in the front-side panel (that we know of), but still. I seem to have lousy luck with parking lots. Sigh. Less damage than the Toys R Us parking lot fender bender, though. That one was just a crazy thing, since another woman and I managed to back into each other. Talk about rotten timing.

The upside of the day - some nice deals on socks and shirts for El Burrito at Old Navy, thanks to their 8 pairs for $10 socks and a 10% off coupon I got last time I shopped there. And I got another 10% coupon today, so if he needs more socks, we know where to go. Then it was a silent moment in the parking lot while we watched the old Walmart being demolished. This was the next-to-last non-SuperWalmart in town. I loved it. I could find everything, including my car when I was done shopping. It closed last October, and I was honestly betting that the demo team would be there the next morning. I'm shocked that it took 3 months. After the farewells, it was a quick stop at the PO to mail a book I sold on Amazon, and a detour to Gymboree to take advantage of their price adjustment policy. The things I bought on sale Monday were marked down again on Tuesday, so we got $7 back (about 15% of what we spent). Woo hoo.

And now, thanks to idiocy on Yahoo!'s part, I'm searching other TV listings to find out when a few shows are on. Their TV listings were very handy, until a recent "upgrade" that pretty much hosed any functionality they once had. I'm still looking for a good replacement. And trying to figure out what to have for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Even further behind

At least as far as "projects" go. Don't ask about the list of unfinished or unstarted projects. It's not a pretty sight. But I just ordered some yarn from, to take advantage of free shipping and a yarn sale, plus the fact that they have some things that I can't find locally. (More on that later.) Of course, I was in a bit of a hurry and forgot to order the stitch markers, but I guess that's an excuse to visit the local Joann store.

I ordered:
  • 3 skeins of Lion Suede, two Mocha, one coffee - for the crochet stick horse mentioned earlier. I'm changing the colors, so it'll be closer to a buckskin than whatever color the original is in.
  • 3 skeins of Patons Canadiana, which I think I've seen once locally, maybe. I can't remember. But they have some colors that look gorgeous on the computer screen; we'll see how they look in real life. I got Misty Mountain, Bright Royal, and Really Green. Don't know what they'll end up being used for, though.
  • 4 balls of Sugar N Cream cotton from Lily - Country Sage, Landscape, Rosewood, and Swimming Pool. These will end up being gifts, at least in part. I found some patterns on Lily's site for bath mitts, placemats, and the like. And there was a pattern in a book at Barnes & Noble the other night, for a crocheted ball. El Burrito would like one, I'm sure. Didn't buy the book, but it was pretty simple, so I plan to give it a shot.
Back to the local yarn thought. I don't really like ordering yarn sight unseen online, because I never know what it will feel like, or what the colors really look like. Right now, my local choices are pretty much limited to the big chains - Walmart, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc. Not much in the way of "nicer" yarn, and even their color selections in the more common yarns are limited. It stinks. Of what I ordered today, I've seen the Suede in person, I've seen the Lily in person but not in the colors I wanted, and I think I may have seen the Canadiana once at a local store. There may be a local store or two, but they're out of the way, and tend not to be set up for someone with a stroller. (Neither are some of the mall stores, either. )

I'd love to order some of the really wild stuff online, but I'd probably get stuck with a ton of expensive yarn that I don't care for. Right now, I've got mostly acrylic and cotton, and one skein of clearance Lion Wool. Some people don't care for acrylic, because of the "cheap" connotation, but it has its place. I'm making hats for El Burrito, and since those will tend to get chewed on, dropped in puddles, urped on, and quickly outgrown, I'd really prefer that they can be tossed in the laundry without being hand-washed. Acrylic is good for that, and there are some nice soft yarns now. Wool might be nice in the future, but until we know about any wool allergies and get past the hat-chewing stage, and until someone quits outgrowing the hats in three months or less, I'm disinclined to put a lot of time or money into "nice" hats. Later, it'll be time to hunt for a wool that doesn't make me itch. Until then, I'll see how the Lion Wool works. There was some adjusting to do when I switched from acrylic to cotton last fall, and probably more of the same for working with wool.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Random Thoughts

A big day today - I packed up El Burrito and we went to the library. I try to go on Tuesday afternoons, so we can hit the Friends bookcarts in the lobby. They have a little weekly sale, a bigger sale on the first Tuesday of the month, and a huge sale 4 or 5 times a year. The weekly sales are usually good for a book or two, and they usually have a cart of childrens' books. Cheap books are good, and the money goes to support the library, so it's a nice thing all around.

Today, we hit the 25-cent CD jackpot. For $1.50, we came home with country, bluegrass, jazz, Hawaiian slack-key (sounds interesting), and some random names that sounded familiar. That plus a couple of 50-cent hardbacks without dustjackets, and one paperback, all for the low price of $4.00. Nothing for El Burrito's shelf today, but last week was his jackpot - Giggle Giggle Quack and How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon, among others nifty finds. How Do Dinosaurs. . . was especially good, since his aunt sent him the Spanish version of that one. I read it to him already, but my Spanish is rusty and I had no idea what I was saying half the time.

But the book sale luck kind of made up for the fact that all the library copies of the first Dresden Files book are checked out, except for one copy that was hiding somewhere. Sad, that I own the book, but it's boxed up along with 80% of my books, and I can't get to it. So I'm on the waiting list now, and hopefully a copy will come in soon.

This afternoon, if possible, I need to order some yarn from - suede for the stick horse, and a couple skeins of other things for a couple of projects. Need to order soon, the coupon expires tomorrow.

Monday, January 22, 2007

More progress

Kind of, anyway.

I figured out the "pineapple" stitch for the Acorn hat (which every other book and website calls a puff stitch). After I figured it out, it went pretty fast, and I got two of the three rows done over the weekend. Then I looked at the hat, and I think three rows would make it too big, and I also think that the two rows I did finish are too long, so I'll probably end up ripping them out and starting over.

But hey, now I can do a puff stitch, along with single, half-double, and double crochet.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Progress !

My first big crochet post.

The background: I learned how to crochet when I was young, but I don't recall ever progressing past square objects. Didn't crochet for years. Then, last May, we had a baby (known here as El Burrito, for reasons to be explained later). El Burrito takes after DH's side of the family, and is in the 95+ percentile on head circumference. Note the "+" after the 95. That means that the 9-month size hats? He outgrew those at 6 months, if not sooner. He had newborn hats that wouldn't have fit him when he was born. Finding a winter hat for the boy has been practically impossible. I had to pass up dozens of adorable - and cheap! - denim hats on clearance at Gap and Children's Place, because even the 12-month size won't fit the boy next spring when he needs it. Broke my heart.

So, I decided to make his hats myself. He came home with a too-cute hospital hat that was crocheted, which ended up being the pattern for the second hat I made. (The first hat was a hit-or-miss conglomeration that I did while trying to figure out crocheting in the round. It's pretty ugly.) The third hat was the candy-corn hat he wore for Halloween and Thanksgiving. It turned out pretty good.

The fourth hat is the Acorn Hat. This is a pic from the pattern book of what it will look like, although I'll probably chicken out and not do the leaves, which require a picot stitch among other things. I meant to have this one done for Thanksgiving. Didn't happen. Oh well. I started on it last weekend, when we were cooped up by a nasty ice storm. I ran into a snag early this week, when the hat was turning out bigger than it should, and the book wasn't any help as far as adjusting the size. Which, as a book full of patterns for baby hats, is silly. Their advice was "make the hat too big, the kid'll grow into it." That's paraphrased, but you get the idea. Not helpful if you need a hat now.

After the last disc of the Good Neighbors DVDs, and most of a disc of Murphy Brown, I figured out how to fix the size issue. Math was involved, as well as lots of measuring, counting, and re-counting. Last night, I finished the light brown part of the hat, although I accidentally ended a row early. Hooray! Then I got out that Ugly Hat and started trying to figure out a stitch that the aforementioned book calls a Pineapple stitch, but which other sources call a Puff stitch. I think I've got it down, so later tonight I'll start working on the brim of the hat.

This is what the hat looks like at the moment. It's done in Lily's Sugar 'n' Cream yarn, 100% cotton. Not the acrylic I'm used to, but now that I'm accustomed to it, I kind of like it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I just set up this blog, so there's not a lot to say right now. Check back later for possibly-interesting things.

This is possibly my next crochet project - a stick horse done in Lion Brand Suede.