Rhymes With Fuchsia

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Today's Ten on Tuesday is ten favorite iPhone apps, a topic I am singularly ill equipped to address, since I don't own an iPhone. I've played with my sister's, and I've watched my friend Kathy use hers to zip through cyberspace, and it is definitely a very cool toy, but... I don't need one. I don't need one for business, and I spend most of my life in front of a computer or at any rate near one, so I can really live without an iPhone (or Droid, or Blackberry) perfectly well. The human race went tens of thousands of years without ever seeing an iPhone, or ever dreaming that such a thing was possible, and somehow managed to thrive anyway, so obviously what we have here is marketing and advertising yet again creating a "need" for something we don't really need.

Except for one thing: I want one. And I am too cheap to buy one. I refuse to buy an iPod, either, even after watching my daughter get lots of mileage from hers, and I am not about to get Tivo so that I can waste yet more time watching TV.

Hmm... there might be a theme here.

Ten Gadgets I Want But Am Too Cheap to Buy
  1. iPhone. Carole assures me that resistance is futile. I'm sure she's right. At least if I got an iPhone I wouldn't have to walk around with one of those earpiece thingies (I expect the arm attachment to be out any day now).
  2. iPod. Even though I could listen to Dire Straits 24/7 if I wanted to. (My husband and my daughter disagree on a lot of music, but they both abominate Dire Straits. Of course.)
  3. Tivo. See above.
  4. Wii. My SIL Ellen has one — actually she has quite a few nifty devices, her husband being a gadget freak. Watching my daughter play WiiFit games during our last visit I began to wonder if I might actually drop a few pounds if I had one of those things. No! I resist! We have a perfectly good exercise bike.
  5. Electric can opener. I really don't even want one, except that there's something mesmerizing about watching the little arm make its way around the can. Yes, I need to get out more.
  6. Direct TV. See Tivo.
  7. Call waiting on our land line. Since we all have cell phones, we could probably get rid of the land line and save some money, but I perversely cling to it like a security blanket, a connection to the good old days. And we have a phone with an actual cord, so we can make calls even if the power has been out for three days and all our cell phone batteries are dead, so there. (The fact that in the 15 years we've lived in our current house the power was once out for almost 24 hours has nothing to do with it.) I am still not having any of these newfangled contraptions. Besides, I hate being put on hold.
  8. Cuisinart. Well, actually we have a food processor; it's called an Oster Kitchen Center, it was a wedding present, and it's old and big and clunky but still perfectly serviceable. Kind of like me.
  9. Knitting machine. It would be a lot of fun to play with one of these, and once I got up to speed I could certainly make room for more yarn in a hurry, but, let's face it, my speed is one stitch at a time.
  10. Golding wheel. Or Norm Hall, or Lendrum Saxony, or... you get the idea. I have a wheel already. Several, actually. Quite nice ones. Not miracles of engineering, not stunning marriages of form and function, but still with a lot of good years left. Kind of like me.

You may notice that while some of these are relatively new on the scene, others have been around for a while. What can I say? I'm an equal-opportunity fuddy-duddy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Sky: Modern Art

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eye Candy Friday

This is Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard, formerly known as Gay Head. As my sister put it, how many times do you suppose that sign got stolen? I don't know what Aquinnah means in Wampanoag, but it's a prettier and mercifully less evocative name.

I believe the colors of the water will occupy my dye dreams for some time to come.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day to all! May we grow ever greener.

Do you know anyone with an Earth Day birthday? I do.

Miss B is 14 today. She celebrated by going to Vermont with her dad over the weekend and to Martha's Vineyard with me yesterday to visit her Aunt Becca. For someone who'll always be my little girl, she's gotten awfully big.

Happy birthday, sweetie! Here's to a great year.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gull of My Dreams

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

It's not that easy being green. Old habits die hard. In honor of Earth Day on Thursday, however, today's Ten on Tuesday is ten ways to be green. I don't have anything new here, and I do some of these, while I'm still working on others.

Ten Ways To Be Green
  1. Whenever possible, carpool in the highest-mileage vehicle available. Grant and I work about a mile apart about 15 miles from home, and we started carpooling about five years ago in an attempt to be at least slightly greenish. This also saves us money on gas, but not a whole lot, and gives us an hour each carpool day of uninterrupted adult-conversation time, which we didn't even think about but which turns out to be priceless.
  2. Better yet, work from home. Of course this one isn't feasible for everyone. My employer unfortunately frowns on the practice, but I do work from home a few hours a week, more at crunch times. Grant has been working at home on Fridays for a year or so.
  3. Don't eat meat, or don't eat red meat. When I went on the Diet From Hell I started eating red meat again; with all the dietary restrictions it was just too hard not to. Now that I've been able to bend the diet here and there it's probably time to stop again. I've read that chicken takes three times as much energy to raise as vegetables, and pork five or six times, but beef takes 20 or more times as much and also pollutes more than anything else.
  4. Buy local produce whenever possible.
  5. The rest of my items are relatively small potatoes, but, hey, every little bit helps. For example... Lower thermostats at night and when no one is home. We have a timer on one of our thermostats, and we should get one for the other one.
  6. Do laundry in cold water. Most of the energy used in washing clothes goes to heat the water, and most laundry doesn't need warm water. I save up stained items and whiter-than-whites until I have a full load's worth.
  7. Hang laundry out to dry. I don't use the dryer unless the snow is deep or we've had no sun for three days. (My son the Random Laundry Generator seems to pick rainy days to need five changes of clothing, but I suspect that this is the same phenomenon that makes it seem like you get stuck behind a Sunday driver only when you're in a hurry.)
  8. Unplug anything you won't use for a while. Apparently power strips and a lot of appliances draw some power even when they're turned off.
  9. Make as few trips as possible. We usually do shopping and errands on the way home from work.
  10. This one sounds really stupid, but it does count: use energy-saving light bulbs, and turn them off when leaving the room.

Now I have to go read what everyone else said and see what I missed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Musings

If you're a political junkie like me, or even if you're not, you may have heard about the hot water Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell got himself into when he issued an official proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery — and then compounded his error by explaining that, while slavery was an important issue in the Confederacy and the Civil War, he had "focused on the [issues] I thought were most significant for Virginia." He ended up apologizing and amending the proclamation to include a reference to slavery.

As a born-and-bred Yankee descendant of a long line of Yankees I've never quite understood the Southern fascination with the Confederacy and various attempts, some still afoot, to make the Confederacy and the Civil War somehow not about slavery. It was about freedom, independence, states' rights, anything but slavery.

The incomparable Fred Clark had, or I should say borrowed, another take on Confederate History Month. I followed a link in the comments to an Open Yale lecture series by Professor David Blight on the Civil War and Reconstruction, and I'm currently five or six lectures in. (I'm reading them; at some point I may listen to them as well, but I'm still fogy enough to prefer the written word.) In a lecture on the Southern point of view Blight quotes a Southern writer on why the South has such a long memory: "Because we lost the war." Apparently, as we approach the Civil War sesquicentennial, that still rankles, and not necessarily in a way-in-the-back-of-the-mind way. There is the Lost Cause, there are the Confederate flags, and there are local historical societies that seem a lot like the ones around here that glory in Revolutionary War reenactments (I grew up in a nearby town where one of the first battles of the Revolution was fought; by the fourth grade I was thoroughly tired of hearing about it) — except that these Southern historical societies refer quite matter-of-factly to the War of Northern Aggression. If the Yankees had just had the good sense and good manners to leave well enough alone, the feeling seems to be, in its own proper time everything would have worked itself out, slavery would have withered away, and we'd all have been better off.

As a Yankee I have a lot of trouble with this. The history I learned in school took it for granted that slavery was an intolerable evil and that, therefore, and regardless of any other issues, the Union cause was the right one, or at least the better one. While still believing this to be true, I wonder if it's too simplistic.

So, my Southern friends, help me out here. How does this look from the other side? What did you learn in school about the Civil War? Was the war mostly about slavery or something else?

Choose Your Weapons

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on last week's Monday Musings! I of course agree that both knitting and crocheting are noble crafts. I think Margene may be onto something when she notes that, for sweaters and other clothing, there are just a lot more and nicer options in knitting than in crochet. It is certainly possible to design and make a beautiful crocheted sweater, but it's definitely harder. At some point I may challenge myself to do this, possibly putting granny squares into the design just to up the degree of difficulty. Yes, there is such a thing as a beautiful granny square.

Another factor possibly limiting the availability of good crochet designs that just occurred to me this morning is that while it is possible to make a crocheting machine, it's not easy, and it's not practicable to manufacture them for home or small-business use. To make anything approaching a living designing sweaters, you have to be able to crank out a lot of samples, and, at least until you are well enough known to have a line of fast workers clamoring to test knit for you, it's easier to do that by machine — once you've mastered the use of the machine, which is an art all by itself. A crochet sample pretty much has to be done by hand.

Anyhow, not being easily discouraged or disparaged, I will knit and crochet steadily onward. I will also have a new Monday Musings up shortly, but since it's on a wildly different topic I'll separate it into its own post.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Today's ToT is ten favorite TV shows. This was a pretty easy one for me, even though I never got into Seinfeld or The Office or any of the big reality shows, and even though I don't think of myself as much of a TV watcher.

Ten Favorite TV Shows
  1. Criminal Minds. Some of the episodes are too creepy for me to watch more than once, and I can definitely see being ready to start a new season and suddenly saying no, I can't have all that stuff in my head again, but it's very well done. And Garcia knits. (I'd love to see Reid take up knitting. He'd probably end up like MMario.)
  2. Jeopardy. The classic quiz show. It's the only game show I've ever seen that often asks general-knowledge questions I can't answer off the top of my head — or I should say answers I can't question off the top of my head. Having been forbidden to watch TV during the 60s, and not being heavily into pop culture, I am terrible at the pink questions, and completely hopeless with anything like, "Who is Nicole Ritchie's hairdresser?" (I'm not even sure I'm spelling her name right. Or that she really exists.) But Jeopardy wants to know, say, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, or the name of Lincoln's secretary of state. I love it.
  3. Whose Line Is It Anyway? (either version). I don't much care for Drew Carey, and, yes, some of the gags get predictable after a while, but those people are funny.
  4. The Daily Show. If I wanted the straight story during the Bush years, it was either Le Monde or my pal Jon.
  5. M*A*S*H. It's dated now, and I never noticed the first time around what a sexist boor Hawkeye was (in my defense, I was a teenager at the time). But still funny.
  6. The Carol Burnett Show. I miss good old-fashioned variety shows. Mostly this one.
  7. Batman. Favorite expletive: Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, Batman!
  8. Monk. In real life Monk would probably have lost his job in the first five minutes. Favorite moment: Monk calls 911 when he has to change a diaper.
  9. Mystery Diagnosis. House (speaking of people who'd never hold a real job) with the medical mystery, hold the soap. Perfect.
  10. Mythbusters. I kinda wish they wouldn't blow so many things up just for the fun of it — do you know how many carbons that emits? me either, but it must be quite a few — but my daughter has probably learned more about the scientific method from this show than in science class.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Musings

Monday Musings is a new weekly theme that I just invented. It's a time for me to paddle gently down the stream of consciousness, to wonder as I wander, to ask questions in the hope that someone can concoct a better answer than I've been able to come up with.

Today's question: Why is crochet so often viewed as less classy than knitting? Granted, this question has been around for quite a while, but after reading some very long Ravelry threads I still haven't seen a good answer — by which I mean an explanation I find plausible, not a cogent case for why crochet is in fact inferior, because I don't think the latter exists.

Yes, we've all seen the 70s-vintage ripple afghans and the hideous plastic granny squares. I myself have never seen a Southern-belle toilet-paper cover, acrylic or otherwise, mentioning which seems to be the craft-wars equivalent of issuing a blanket condemnation of Chinese food by reference to MSG. (I'm not saying it's bad to dislike crochet or Chinese food here, just that it's unfair to imply that those of us who like them are weird or trailer trash, or weird trailer trash.) But I've also seen stunningly beautiful crocheted bedspreads, lace shawls, linen insertions, hats, mittens, scarves, and, yes, even sweaters. I've likewise seen knitted items covering the whole spectrum from gorgeous to garish.

I'll be the first to agree that crochet is different from knitting, and that each lends itself more readily to some things than others. Most crochet stitches are thicker than most knitted ones, which makes the fabric thicker as well; hence the popularity of crochet for afghans, hats, and anything else that should be warm. (It is, however, not true in my experience that crochet uses three times as much yarn as knitting. Half again as much, if that. Then again, I like cables and ribs and other dense knitted stitches.) Conversely, you can do things with knitted lace and openwork that are harder to do with crochet. But there's a lot of overlap, and indeed there are some projects that almost demand the use of both: it is possible to seam blanket squares together, for instance, but it's easier and more decorative to crochet them together.

So, what do you think? Do you crochet, knit, or both? Do you like one more than the other? (Don't be shy. Much as I love and respect crochet, the truth is that I do a lot more knitting.) If you're a crocheter, have you been snubbed by knitters or by LYS staff? (I don't think I ever have.) And why do you think some people, some of whom are knitters, put down crochet?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

So That I May Speak