Sunday, July 31, 2005

March of the Penguins

AAA We went to see the March of the Penguins at the Pageant Theater today.  It was short, so they didn't have to have an intermission to change reels.

It's beautifully photographed and the penguins are beautiful and tough little birds.  They live through -80 degree winters and think -50 degrees is balmy.  Morgan Freeman narrated it - what a wonderful voice he has.

The NY Times liked it, and so did I.  I'd give it an A- for beauty and education.

My Camera Broke

My refurbished camera, purchased last October, came with a 90 day warranty.  Now it's kaput.  Blast and damn!

It's an Olympus C-60 with the lens cover that slides back and forth to power on and off the camera.  The lens cover sliding back and forth also allows the lens to go in and out of the camera.  When the power is off, then lens hides inside the camera.  Right now the lens cover does not cause the lens to go back into the camera and allow the lens cover to go all the way closed.  I have to wait for Monday before I can call Olympus service to ask what I should do.

Oregon Foxglove So, I got out my trusty Olympus C-700 to make sure its battery was good.  I'm going on vacation soon and cannot leave without a working camera!  I found some pictures from a vacation to Oregon...  200 of them.

Anyway, the service info for Olympus is:

Telephone hotline:
Monday - Friday,
8:30am-7:00pm Eastern Time

I'm really hoping they can tell me some magic combination of buttons to push in order to resusitate my C-60, but if they can't I'll be happy to take the C-700.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Vogue Knitting, Fall 2005

Vogue Knitting Fall 2005 The Fall, 2005, issue of Vogue Knitting arrived in the mailbox today.  I'm liking the current colors.  They are bright and happy.

The picture on the left is not the cover photo from the issue I received.

As usual the models are drop dead gorgeous and very thin.  Note the collar bones on the model to the left.  Are those shoulder pads or are her shoulders so bony they make points when she poses?

There is one zip-front, hooded, tunic cardigan (page 94, pattern #29) that I liked:  saddle shoulders & pockets, designed by Mari Lynn Patrick.  I couldn't find a picture of it on the Vogue web site for this issue.  This is another sweater designed for wool, which is way too warm for me.  The pattern looks great in wool, and cotton might be too heavy for this one (well, maybe a sport weight cotton would work, but I'd have to do a lot of swatching to figure out how many stitches to use?).

The monthly Meg Swansen technique article covers Turkish cast ons.  The pictures are great and the article by Meg is, of course, well written and gives credit to others when appropriate.

There is an article by Leslie Petrovski which covers electronic knitting tools: photo-taking cell phones, PDAs, knitting-specific software, blogs, online magazines, and online knitting groups, etc.

I liked this issue.

Side to Side Sweater The sweater I liked the best is a side-to-side turtle neck from Filatura Di Crosa.  It's an advertisement with pattern included.  I like Filura Di Crosa yarns.  The yarn called for in this pattern is "127 Print", which is 100% wool (or a Polyamide, depending on whether you believe their web site or the printed ad/pattern in the magazine).  The reason the yarn is called Print is that each ball has a main color with some highlights printed on.  The sweater is knitted in stripes (pink, gray, turquoise, light green, purple, orange, red, olive), and since the sweater is knit side to side (cuff to cuff) the stripes are vertical.  There is an attached rib on the bottom with color going horizontally.  I like these colors.  Maybe someday in the future I'll live in a place where it gets cold enough to wear a wool sweater.  Note:  I hate the bell sleeves, but those are easy enough to fix.

PS:  Vogue makes their corrections easy to find.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Must Love Dogs

Must Love Dogs We went to see Must Love Dogs today at the local multi-screen theater.

It had dogs, love, and laughs.  I like the leads John Cusack and Diane Lane, both smart and fun to watch.  Stockard Channing plays a 61 year old woman in this one.  Is she that old?  I guess so... I found a biography that says she was born on 2/13/44 (another Aquarius, good people).  My how time flies when you're having a life!

Must Love Dogs is about finding love after divorce.  Diane Lane dates several people who are not right.  We always know that John Cusack is the right guy, but they don't manage to come together until the end.  I guess that's the formula for a romance book as well as a movie.

I give this one a B- because nothing about it offended me and it was fun.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Parasites in Cat Heaven

Today was a big day for the cats.  All three of them went to the Chico Hospital for Cats.

Ruso First Ruso went because he's been sick with diarrhea (need to find a scientific name for this that doesn't sound like 'poops a lot everywhere').  The vet, visiting Dr. Vicki Thayer, sent us home with medicine to treat the symptoms and instructions to bring in a sample for analysis.  Don't ask how, but very soon after arriving home Ruso provided a sample.  I took the sample in and later in the day received a call that Ruso's intestines were being visited by a common parasite... and oh, by the way, it's very contagious... were any other cats in the house having similar symptoms?  No, I said, and went to pick up medication for killing parasites in Ruso.

Persy Shortly after returning home I saw that Persy was indeed having symptoms.  So, I called back and asked if I could have some parasite killer for two more cats.  Sure I could, but I would have to bring them in to be weighed and examined.

Sammy I stuffed Sammy in a carrier first.  Poor unsuspecting boy didn't know what was coming.  Soon Persy was stuffed in her carrier and off we went to the vet.  Both were weighed and medicine dispensed.  I blame Sammy for this infestation because he's the one that wonders around the fields and stays out carousing all night.

At the end of the day I have spent $180 on cat parasites and neither the cats nor I have had a good day.  While I was reaching in to get Persy out of the carrier at the vet's I stretched in an awkward way and did something painful to my newly operated upon shoulder.

Notes on the photos:  The first two, Ruso and Persy, were taken in Aptos where it is cool all the time and cats can develop nice fluffy coats.  The last one of Sammy was taken in early Spring here in Chico, also a time when coats are fluffy and thick.  Now, July in Chico, their coats are thin and not quite so fluffy looking.  I'm having a moment of home sickness for the coast of California....

PS: Practice safe eating.  Always use condiments.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NeesiePie's Socks

I finished the heel flaps last night, so next is the gussets, then down the foot and finish with the toe... almost there!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

SF Giants vs FLA Marlins

Pat in Jack London Square Oakland Ferry TerminalWe went to San Francisco today to see the SF Giants play the Florida Marlins (Major League Baseball).  About a third the way we picked up a couple of friends, Pat and Donna.

We got to Oakland in plenty of time to catch the ferry from one side of the SF Bay to the other.  In fact we were a little early to the ferry terminal so we wandered around a craft fair in Jack London Square.  Eventually the ferry arrived and off we went to SBC Park in San Francisco.

Oakland Estuary
Relief Ship It was a beautiful day - not too hot!  The Oakland Estuary is a nicely sheltered harbor area.  There are pleasure boats (left) and relief ships all sharing the same area.

SBC Park Ball Field
SBC Park SBC Park is a great baseball park!  From our seats in the "View" section (i.e, way high up) we could see the ball field and also the bay and San Francisco.

These two pictures show the ball park.  The one on the left is taken from our seats.  The one on the right is taken from the ferry boat on our way back to Oakland after the game.  The ferry dropped us off right at the park before the game and picked us up in the same place afterwards.

One of the vendors selling BBQ (very good) is also a friend of Pat's, Donna's, and Jan's.  We stopped to say hi and pick up lunch.  Then we went to our seats to enjoy the game.

The game was actually a disappointment.  The Giants lost 1 to 4.  The Marlins even had 3 errors and we couldn't score more than 1 run.  The Marlins had 3 home runs.  Thank goodness they were all solo home runs or the score would have been even more dismal.

The high point of the day was spending time with friends, enjoying the weather and the view.

Friday, July 22, 2005

New Yarn Shop in Chico, CA

I found a new yarn shop in Chico yesterday.  Actually it's been around for over a year, but was at a different location for a while.  This shop is even within a long walk from my house!  It's called Heartstrings Yarn Studio, and the owner, Joanne Wilson, was very nice.  She has a large collection of good yarn as well as a nice collection of every day yarn.  Joanne says there are social knitting gatherings, as well as classes.  It's clean and well lit.  Very nice.  She will give The Yarn Basket, which is the old established shop in town, a run for their money!

Sirdar SnuggleSince one must always support the local yarn shops, I picked out some yarn for Kim-the-hair cutter's baby blanket.  It's Sirdar Snuggly Tiny Tots in kind of a lavender with pastel accents.  This is not a yarn I would have chosen, but Kim says she's going to have a fru-fru little girl this time (test done for verification).  I would probably have chosen a nice pink, but Kim is the kind of person who puts color streaks in her hair, so I thought she might like this better.

Bryspun Circulars I was careful to buy the yarn and finish my business before I browsed too much through the needles.  It was no use.  I found a new needle I haven't seen before and bought it :-)  It's a Bryspun Bry-Flex Circular Needle (4.0 mm, 29" long).  Bryspun needles are made by T.C. Forge, Inc., Salem, Oregon, and distributed by Bryson Distributing, Eugene, Oregon.  It's almost like supporting a local business since Oregon is just one state away.

These are supposed to be easier on the hands than metal needles, more flexible.  I'll use them for Kim's baby blanket.

PS: You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Dog Days

The Free Dictionary says "Dog Days" is "the hot period between early July and early September; a period of inactivity".  I guess that means that "Dog Days of Summer" is a redundant phrase?  Anyway, this is definitely a Period of Inactivity.

I did stir myself to go for a walk with Jan this morning before the sun came up.  Last night was cool, all the way down to the high 60's, so the walk was positively pleasant.  I would say that one could smell the summer blooms as we walked through the neighborhood, but all I could smell was my bug repellent....

Mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus, and we have lots of mosquitoes here in the North Sacramento Valley.  They hatch in the standing water in the local waterways, people's back yards, and rice paddies.  The evening news shows gross pictures of swarms of mosquitoes and warns, in very strong terms, of the dangers of the virus - especially for older people.  I would have thought that bats would be good mosquito eaters; however, the info I found says that if you have a bat house and bats, then you need to worry about rabies.  Jeez, there are just too many things to worry about!

PS: Walking and swinging my arm didn't bother my shoulder - more good news.

PPS: Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

War of the Worlds

We went to see War of the Worlds today.  Frankly, I'm sick of big budget movies with lots of special effects.  Steven Spielberg did a pretty good job with it, and Tom Cruise (should that be "Looney Cruise"?) did a good acting job.  Because of the negative press about him lately I was ready not to like him in this part, but he did well.  Dakota Fanning, cute little kid, played his daughter.  She screamed throughout.  Jan thought maybe she had to audition her scream.

There were some bad inconsistencies.  When the aliens strike, all electrical devices go out, even battery watches; however, somebody had a working video camera in the middle of one of the strikes.  How did that happen?

In case there is any doubt, the aliens do not take over the Earth, but we always new it would work out that way.  So, watching all the scary horror, running, destruction, death, etc., is kind of pointless if you know how it's going to end.

I give this one a C+.

NeesiePie's Socks

Knitting on the Road I'm making a pair of socks for Vanese.  The pattern is from Nancy Bush's "Knitting on the Road: Sock Patterns for the Traveling Knitter".  The Pattern is called Conwy, named after a town in Gwynedd, the medieval kingdom of Owain Glyndwr, in Northern Wales.  I'm working a special charm into these socks, just for Vanese, and I'm not telling what it is :-)

Conwy Socks I'm using Regia "Silk" sock yarn (55% new wool, 20% silk, 25% polyamide), purchased in Heidelburg, Germany, while on vacation this Spring.  It's really, really soft, and with the polyamide thrown in it will wear well too.  So far I have one sock top done, and I'm almost finished with the second.

The color on this picture is closer to the real thing than the next one.  In the next picture it's washed out so you can see the stitches a little better.

Conwy St Pattern The stitch pattern is called a "Twining Cable Pattern", which is a K3, P1 rib, with a cable worked in the K3 part.  The cable is just one stitch over the other and doesn't require a cable needle.  Barbara Walker calls these "Traveling Stitches".  To cross right you "knit into second st on left needle, knit first st, slip both sts of needle".  To cross left you "knit into second st on left needle through the back loop, knit first st, slip both sts off needle".  I've done socks like this before, but not this exact 3X1 rib.  They're turning out nicely.

PS: I tried knitting today for the first time after my shoulder operation... no pain!  So, it looks like I can go ahead and finish this project.  But... what will I do next?  Oh, yes, a baby blanket for Kim the haircutter who is having her Second child, a girl this time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stuck inside

The temperature on the front porch was 98 at 1:51.  Now it's 101 at 2:30.  The front porch is in the shade, so it's another scorcher.  I guess I don't mind staying in, as my shoulder is still recovering... 2nd day after operation day and I have quit the Narco pain pills and switched to ibuprofen (50 Narco pills left over - what a waste!).  I'm able to swing my arms and to raise them over my head, if I do it slowly and not too often :-)

I'm a little surprised that neither the hospital nor the doctor's office has called to check up on me, and I'm disappointed that the doctor's office didn't give me some physical therapy.  I had to go find my own, which is fine, I guess.   These exercises are very much like the ones the physical therapist gave me a while ago when I was trying to heal my shoulder without having an operation, so I'll just go with these and do what I can.  I'll talk to the doctor when I go in for my post-op appointment next Wednesday.

Good Luck Charms Since I'm stuck inside, I thought I'd share these good luck charms that sit on the loft's ledge.  The cat is jade. The rabbit is carved from a nut like the one in back.  The coyote, arrow head, and bear are all native American purchased in the Southwest on one vacation or another.  So far they have been doing their job, and I have had a lucky life.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Shoulder Work In Progress

I'm home from the hospital, and I brought pictures with me.  I even scanned them and thought about sharing them, until I decided that they are yucky pictures only an orthopedic surgeon could love.  The procedure is called a Right Shoulder Subacromial Decompression.

The operation was painless, and the Enloe Hospital staff is great. 

The check-in was at 5:30 this morning.  The check-in clerk thought I was an in-patient, that I was going to stay overnight, because my papers were in a folder color-coded for in-patient.  She had trouble finding me in the computer.  Oh no, I thought, and had visions of an old George C. Scott movie called "Hospital" about hospital screw-ups that cost people's lives.  When I told her I was an out-patient she found me and things went smoothly from then on.

The charge nurse that gave me the fetching hospital gown was named Steve and we made sure I was the patient that went with the papers.  We made sure the right name was on my wrist band.  He gave me a pen to mark ('X') the correct arm.  He put my own flowered robe in a bag to wear home later, said bag with my name on it..  Now I was feeling a little better about hospital procedures at Enloe.

Another person came by and inserted an I.V. and started dripping Ringers into me to keep me hydrated,  Somebody else painted all over my shoulder with iodine.  Somebody else wheeled me into the recovery room, where I would wait before and after the operation.

The anesthesiologist explained that he would give me a nerve block so my arm would be numb after the operation, which it was, like having a shot of Novocaine for my arm.  Then I was rolled into the O.R. and somebody started the anesthesia.  The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room.

I remember seeing the surgeon, very briefly, who told me it went well.  Eventually Jan rescued me and took me home, where I began reading "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and napping.

About 7:30 tonight the nerve block began to wear off and I took my first Norco for pain. 

Tomorrow I get to swing my arm a little. Whoopee....

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Shoulder Work Ahead

Shoulder Work Sign Tomorrow is my big day.  The doctor is going to do my arthroscopic surgery on Monday morning.   I should be let out of the hospital in the early afternoon, or even before, assuming no unforeseen problems occur.

I hope I'm doped up when I come home.  Drugs are a good thing.  So... I probably won't be taking or posting any pictures for a few days.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man We saw Cinderella Man today.  Boy that Russell Crow sure can throw a punch!

It's the story of James J. Braddock, a boxer from New Jersey during the depression in the 1930's.  It's a Ron Howard film, so you know it's schmaltzy.  Braddock is the underdog representing all the down and outers, and he wins - no surprise there.  Renee Zellweger plays his wife very well, and Paul Giamatti (remember "Sideways"?), plays his manager very well.  The final fight is against Max Bear, played by Craig Bierko, who looks positively murderous here.

Even through there was way too much boxing in it for my taste, I liked this movie.  I'd give it a B+.  The grade would have been higher, but I couldn't watch all of the fighting so I missed about 33% of the dramatic scenes.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Neighbor was Robbed

You read about people being robbed at gunpoint, but usually it happens in somebody else's neighborhood.  Not this time.  Last night the couple across the street woke up at 3 in the morning to find a young man pointing a gun at them.  He demanded cash, which they provided, and nobody was hurt.  It was definitely the talk of the neighborhood this morning!

The robber was a young white man in his 20's, and he didn't wear a mask, so he wasn't very smart the newspaper the next morning says he wore a mask, was about 5'2".  My neighbors had left their side gate unlocked and also had not locked their patio sliding glass door.  It's hot here so many people leave their windows open at night.  The funny thing is that my neighbors have a yappy little dog that never shuts up.  I wonder why the dog didn't warn his keepers?

I'm glad I have a security system and no side gate!  Selling this house is looking better all the time, but I don't know where I'd move to.  Salem, OR, maybe?  I'll definitely look around when I'm on vacation this summer!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Love Song For Bobby Long

Love Song Tonight's film was Love Song For Bobby Long (2004) (DVD from Netflix).

It's about a cast of characters in a rundown New Orleans slum.  The three main characters are Pursy, a young girl (Scarlett Johansson); Bobby, an alcoholic and charming ex literature prof (John Travolta); and Lawson, an alcoholic writer (Gabriel Macht).  They all share a house left to Pursy by her mother.  There are moments of happiness, sadness, anger, serenity, and love.  18-year-old Pursy shows up after her mother's death to claim her house.  She's surprised to find two drunks still living in the house.  The relationship of these three to each other, and how each of them changes or doesn't change over a year or so is what the movie is about.

The review (link above) in the NY Times is better at describing the movie.  They didn't like it as much as I did.  I'd give it an A-.

London Tube Poster

Simply Markets Poster

Here is a poster we bought while traveling in London several years ago.  I've always loved it because it shows humanity, flowers, and brings pleasant memories of trips on the London Tube back to mind.  I was taking pictures this morning because I have a new tripod and I wanted to see how it worked.  I took a picture of this poster and London came to mind.

Only this time it wasn't pleasant memories that popped into my consciousness, but images of bomb damage.  I hate terrorists that finance, plan and execute these attacks.  I don't think they deserve any civil rights or humane treatment.

But you know why we should give them humane treatment and protect their civil rights?  For ourselves... so we don't begin to resemble them in any way.  Revenge is sweet, but it doesn't make us better people, nor does it take away the pain most of us are feeling.

Tripod picture

Playing with the new tripod...

Double Delight Rose Picture Sunflower Picture

Since I'm zeroing in on "Senior", my hands aren't as steady as they used to be, so I ordered a tripod.  It does help.  I think these taken in the garden this morning are less blurry than some of the others I've taken recently.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Fantastic Four

onclick=", '_blank',
'width=270,height=400,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0'); return false" >The Fantastic Four... click for larger image.
We went to see Fantastic Four today.  It's based on the Marvel comic series of the same name, which I've never read.  The young boy sitting behind us in the theater was obviously a fan of the comics.  He asked a nearby young man which character was his favorite, and the tone in the answer was , "Huh?"

It wasn't a very good movie, but there were some good laughs, intentional or not I couldn't tell.

I'd recommend it for kids, but adults can pass.  I give it a C+.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Chico & Google Earth

Bird's eye view of Chico ... click for larger image. The image to the left is a satellite view of Chico.  You have to click on it to see anything, and it's a big image so have some coffee....

I downloaded Google Earth (free version) and played with it.  It's pretty cool!  It does require a current operating system and a graphics card capable of 3D.  I guess my graphics card is good enough, because it worked on my computer (WinXP Pro).

If you have downloaded the picture, you can see that I marked a few of my favorite places in Chico, and that my world is very small.  The things that are important to me:  In Motion Fitness, the Butte County Library, and Bidwell Park.  Chico is a wonderful little town even if it is really hot during the summer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

The Mother

The Mother ... click for larger image. We saw The Mother (on DVD from Netflix) tonight.  I can't figure out whether I liked it or not.  It was about a woman in her 60's who is suddenly widowed.  She didn't like her life before and wants to finally begin to find and enjoy herself.  The trouble is she chooses the worst possible way to break out... having a fling with her neurotic daughter's boyfriend.  It sounds funny, but it wasn't.

The NY Times liked it, but I'm ambivalent.

I guess I'd give this one a B.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

It's hot

05/27 Thermometer
I've been playing with ways to add a weather picture on my blog. So far I've had no luck. Both and will give you an image that displays the current temperature, but it's too big. For example, here is's:

It's too big and it doesn't format correctly :-( I finally decided to just add a link to the National Weather Service on the right under "Links" above. See?

Anyway, it's hot here in Chico today. Ernest and Malcolm came to wash my windows today. They finished just as it was really heating up. Both of them were pretty sweaty and I'm sure they were looking forward to cold showers. My windows are sparkly, and the screens are clean. ... and all the curtains are closed and the air conditioner is turned on, so I can't really see those sparkly windows.

Oh, by the way, Ernest told me that several of the seals on my double paned windows are failing. Jan says it's time to sell and get out while the getting is good. There is a neighbor in the next block who is trying to sell a house like mine for about $350K more than I paid for mine. So far no sale pending sign is displayed on his overpriced house.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Work, work, work

Today was another full day working at the library's circulation desk.

Bowels of the book drop ... click for larger image. The hours are 8 to 5.  When we arrive at 8, one of the first chores is to check in all the books that have arrived overnight.  What do you think happens to books you put in the library deposit box?  They land in a heap and this is what the pile looks like in the morning.

While the book drop pile is being disposed of, we turn on the computers, print due date stickers, put out today's newspapers, unlock the doors and prepare to meet the patrons.

Children's Dragon ... click for larger image. The children's library has a summer reading program whose theme is "Dragons and Castles".  A kind volunteer painted this dragon on the window looking into the children's room.

Circulation desk ... click for larger image.

Once we are open I stay at the circulation desk... "Check 'em in.  Check 'em out."

Thank goodness the day is over and it's a holiday weekend!

Friday, July 1, 2005

Batman Begins

Batman ... click for larger image. We saw Batman Begins today.  It was lots of fun, even with the fights.  Roger Ebert liked it.  The NY Times liked it.  I liked it.

It's directed by Christopher Nolan ("Momento" and "Insomnia"), starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, and Katie Holmes (engaged to Tom Cruise).  Everybody did an excellent job.  Casting was perfect.  Directing was mighty fine.  Screenplay was very good.

I give it an A... lots of fun, good comic book hero.

Two Rants

First... my Treo 650:

I received my replacement PalmOne Treo 650 yesterday.  The original was returned to PalmOne because the phone application screen kept freezing, stopped responding, took up all the processing cycles, and made the thing generally unusable.

I put my battery and phone SIM card in Treo #2 and turned on the phone.  I checked my phone messages... so far so good.  I took a picture of a rose on my desk and set that as my phone's wallpaper.  I left the phone on all night to see if it would live.

When I got up for my jog in the pool this morning I had a frozen phone!  I find it hard to believe that this is a hardware problem again.  It feels like a software problem.  During the night the Cingular signal is weak.  I think the phone application on the Treo looses touch with Cingular and then just loops and loops and loops waiting for a soothing touch from Cingular.

I guess I can call PalmOne again and tell them my sad tail, but I don't think I'm going to get much satisfaction.  I think I just spent $500 for a toy that doesn't work... a POS of the first order!

Second... the current administration:

During the prez's recent speech, "new directions in Iraq", he tried to connect 9/11 to Iraq in the nation's consciousness.

The current administration has a practice of repeating what they want
you to believe over and over again until they think they have you
convinced.  It's like advertising.  I don't like dumb advertising and I
don't like dumb messages from my president.