Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If I ruled the world

If I ruled the world...

  • World government would be run with only 10 rules - the 10 commandments:
    1. Believe in doing good for people, forsaking power for its own sake;

    2. Take care of the environment;

    3. Tell the truth all the time;

    4. Everybody should have one day of rest each week and at least 3 weeks of vacation every year;

    5. Everybody pays the taxes at the same rate, no deductions, no exceptions;

    6. No killing;

    7. Don't steal anything - no empire building or invasion of your neighbor;

    8. Let all people decide for themselves how to express their love - do not legislate morality;

    9. Everybody has a place to live, something to eat, and health care;

    10. Everybody gets an education that includes literature, languages, and the sciences.

  • Cell phones would not function in a moving vehicle,
    including a moving bicycle.

That's all I can think of at the moment.  Let me know if you have something positive to add.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yahi Trail, Bidwell Park

Today's walk was on Yahi Trail in Upper Bidwell Park.  Next time we will try to walk further than the hour we walked today.

10 Things about today's walk on Yahi Trail

1) There were signs on the trail pointing out various kinds of trees and shrubs.  We only noticed one of the signs was missing its text.

2) Trail was rated "easiest" so there were no serious ups or downs.

3) Trail follows little Chico Creek and is wilder (is that a word?) than the same creek in Lower Bidwell Park.

4) There were hundreds of birds all singing at once.

5) There was a "granary tree" which is a dead tree that woodpeckers have used as a storage place for their acorns.

6) Before 10AM on Sunday the trail is not crowded.

7) The parking for the walk is right next to Chico's gun club.

8) If you want to you can ride your bike on the road, which parallels the trail, but you cannot ride your bike on the trail.

9) It wasn't raining.  Weatherman Dave was a little off in his 10AM rain forecast.

10) Chicoans are incredibly lucky to have Bidwell Park.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Match Point

Match Point PosterLast night it was a choice between Eight Below and Match Point (Very Good).  Jan chose Match Point.  Both the NY Times and Roger Ebert loved it.  Me too.  It is set in London, which was fun, and it was written and directed by Woody Allen.

It's nice to see a well made movie with strong characters.  This is Not A Funny Movie.  The lead character is a tennis pro Chris, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who wants to have something better.  The something better turns out to be a rich family with a marriageable daughter.

The fly in the ointment is the a young woman Nola, played by Scarlett Johansson, who wants something better by marrying the marriageable son in the same rich family.  Chris and Nola are attracted to each other, and the drama begins.

Jan was reminded of the story American Tragedy.  The NY Times reviewer was too.

While there are no funny bits there are some scary bits.  No blood, but
lots of fear.  I thought of Alfred Hitchcock, and at one point toward
the end of the movie the tension was so strong I had to leave for a
trip to the bathroom (wuss).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Chenille Scarf

This is a multidirectional scarf done with Berroco Chinchilla.  I'm happy with the results, and I think the intended scarfee will be too.

About working with chenille yarn.... I would prefer to knit with a yarn that allows me to see the stitches as I knit.  I think I dropped at least one stitch, but there was no way to find it. 

The care instructions say to dry clean only; however, I put it through the washer and dryer in order to get rid of some of the fluff that was falling off of it.  It doesn't appear to be any worse for the mistreatment.  I think I forgot an increase and did not drop a stitch, because there are no ladders :-)

Now I have only a hat on the needles.  I'll have to think of something else to start soon!

Sarah Vowell

Sarah VowellAlas, I see my initial worries about the current administration as the
greatest betrayal in my whole life by my old pal pessimism. I attended
the president's inauguration in 2001. When he took the presidential
oath, I cried. What was I so afraid of? I was weeping because I was
terrified that the new president would wreck the economy and muck up my
drinking water. Isn't that adorable? I lacked the pessimistic
imagination to dread that tens of thousands of human beings would be
spied on or maimed or tortured or killed or stranded or drowned, thanks
to his incompetence.

The NY Times published a guest editorial by Sarah Vowell in which she talked about reasons to be optimistic.  But her summary is quoted above.  She said that being constantly pessimistic means she is often pleasantly surprised.  Maybe that's an acceptable way to get along with one's constant low level depression (she called it low-key dread) - that pleasant things are a nice surprise.

I love Sarah Vowell.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Today's Almond Blossoms

Here is another picture taken on this morning's walk.  I'm posting it here because I'm testing the function of posting to my blog from flickr.com.

So far it seems to be working.  This entry is using a customized blog format.



This picture was taken at a neighbor's house this morning.  The neighborhood is a regular subdivision that was built on land that used to be orchards.

This man has an older house on a large parcel.  It looks like it used to be a house where the owner of an orchard lived.  He keeps chickens, plants vegetables, and proudly displays his gun control beliefs for one and all.

Butte County is a Red (conservative) county, but that is changing as more people from the more liberal parts of the state retire to this area.  For example, we moved here from Santa Cruz County.

I hope we liberals don't screw it up too badly.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My Stitches West 2006

Just testing new style statments ... no new content (2/20/2006).

Butte County Almond Orchards It takes about 4 hours to get from my town, in the middle of the blooming almond orchards, to the Santa Clara Convention Center.

When I stopped to take this picture a FedEx truck passed me by.  Maybe on his way to drop some yarn off at the Stitches Market??

When I arrived my room wasn't ready, so I browsed the market and picked up some yarn for a class on Saturday afternoon.  The people who were winding skeins of yarn into balls wanted either $3 or $6 US per ball depending on the size of the finished ball.  I figured I could wrap the balls by hand while I waited for my room to be cleaned. 

View from 13th floor

San Jose

All together it was two hours from arrival at hotel until arrival in room.  From the 13th floor my room had a good view of the area east and south (I think).  The photo on the left shows some of the cars parked for Stitches on Friday afternoon - yes, the market was very crowded and most classes were sold out.  The photo on the right shows San Jose.  It's a regular city now, and all of their orchards are gone.

My classes on Saturday

In the morning I took a class with Sally Melville, "First Choices", in which she talked about how to decide upon yarn and color.  Then she talked at length about pattern drafting, or as much as you can talk at length in a 3 hour class.  She said much of what she talked about in my class was in her book "The Purl Stitch".  I think I've taken most or all of her classes.  I recommend any class she teaches.

In the afternoon I took a class from Debbie New, "Cellular Automaton", in which she teaches how to develop a stitch pattern the same way Mother Nature does.  Each "cell" in a row is based on the building blocks that came before, so the pattern grows organically.  You can cause mutation when you make a mistake, or you can do some genetic engineering.  She is so smart I sat there with my mouth dropped open much of the time.  Cellular Automation is talked about in her book "Unexpected Knitting", which is a beautiful book.  I recommend Debbie New's classes for self starters, people who do not need to have their hand held but do appreciate being shown the possibilities.

Right after class Saturday afternoon I drove home and then promptly fell asleep.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Matador

Movie Review Today's film was The Matador (Satisfactory).  It was a little comedy, a little drama, a little entertaining.  The NY Times review is linked to the movie poster.

There are two main characters.  One of them is a dissolute assassin who is ready to retire and play with young girls.  The other one is a regular married guy who loves his wife and lives in the 'burbs.  They meet in Mexico City while they are both there on business.

Pierce Brosnan is not believable as the assassin.  He's not mean enough and his eyes still shine too brightly.  Greg Kinnear is better fitted to his role as the regular guy.

The Value of Algebra

There is an opinion piece in the Scientific American, which talks about the growing number of USA students who are choosing to bypass math in their education.  More corporations are going to India and China for people with the required skills... it's not so much the lower salaries as it is the lack of skills in the United States.  The summary of the piece said

No algebra=No calculus=No science=No technology=We're totally *&$#FRTDG!!!!!

It's scary.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stitches West, the hotel

I'm pretty excited about going to the Santa Clara Convention Center to take classes from Debbie New and Sally Mellville.  I made a reservation at the hotel months ago, when the hotel was a Westin Hotel.  After I made the reservation, Hyatt bought Westin.  Can you feel what's coming?  I called to confirm my reservation for two days from now, and my reservation has been lost.  The Hyatt Regency was not able to find me a room.  I am soooo pissed!

All is not lost.  I made a reservation across the street at the Hilton.  I'm hoping it won't be raining too hard when I have to cross a big road to get to the convention center for my classes.

I know... I should have called right after I got the letter from Hyatt telling me they had purchased the Westin, but I thought they had enough information to send me the letter, surely they wouldn't loose the reservation.  Never underestimate the opportunity for error when data is transferred from one computer system to another.

The Hotel Reservation, Part 2

I found an old email that I had received which had a different phone
number than the one I had been calling at the Hyatt to (not) confirm my
reservation.  I spoke to somebody who took it a little further than "we
don't have a reservation for you".  It turns out somebody had
transposed some letters in my last name and it took some sleuthing to
find my original reservation.

So, I had a reservation at the original Hyatt and a new reservation
at the Hilton, across the street from the convention center.  I
canceled the reservation at the Hilton, so now I won't have to walk so
far in the rain to get to classes and the market :-)

... and I have a new, valid Hyatt confirmation number.

Sometimes computers aren't all that much help, and it takes a thinking human being to solve a problem.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Something New

Click for NY Times Review Is it being prejudiced to want to be with people who share similar experiences to your own?  Something New (good) explores finding love outside of your race and class.

The movie stars Sanaa Lathan as Kenya and Simon Baker as Brian.

Kenya is an overachieving lawyer who has to work twice as hard as the white men she works with in order to overcome her client's uneasiness about working with a black woman lawyer; it's called "the black tax".  She's really, really uptight and shut down.

Brian is an easygoing landscape architect who falls in love with her.  He's the yeast that allows her to break out of her shell and learn to take some chances.

They are good together, but his very white presence makes her uncomfortable in front of her friends.  They break up, they miss each other, then finally (no surprise here) set out together on the road to happily ever after.  The interesting thing is how we live within our comfort zones, and what it costs us to do so.  The rest was pretty formulaic love story.

I have liked Sanaa Lathan since Love and Basketball, and I've liked Simon Baker since The Guardian (on TV).  Alfre Woodard is good as the class-conscious mother.

PS: I'm switching to a new rating system:  Poor, Satisfactory, Good, Very Good, and Extraordinary.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Moebius, Mbius, Mobius

However you spell it, a Mobius strip is a one-sided strip, conceived by August Mbius, a mathematician best know for his work in topology.  Physlink.com says a Mobius strip is a
non-orientable surface: you can build one with a strip of paper (twist the strip
and glue end together to form a ring) and verify that it has only one side: it is
not possible to paint it with two colours.  Keep that "non-orientable" in mind.

I began my Moebius-banded hat today, using Cat Bordhi's way of casting on from "A Treasury of Magical Knitting".  Cat's description, with pictures, is as clear as can be.  In order to make it work you have to Stop Thinking and just follow her instructions.  You start with a slip knot, and by the time you have cast on and knit a few rows that slip knot is in the middle of the piece - not on an edge as you would expect.  You actually cast on in such a way that, as you work around the coiled up needle, you are knitting from the middle out - in two directions at once.  Remember that "non-orientable" from the first paragraph.

Brilliant!  I recommend you buy the book just to read the first 16 pages.  So here's the chemo hat I'm making, and a page from her book.

Moebius Hat Photo

Hat Picture

I like the purple heather much better than the rust color in the book, but that's just my personal taste.

My hat is being worked on a 40" circular needle that is coiled up to create both edges of the strip.

It just blows my mind.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Bidwell Avenue, Chico


The flowers are starting to come out here in Chico.  Before the battery in my camera ran out I took these pictures this morning.  It was just beautiful outside today, in the high 60s (F).  It was warm and sunshiny.  You couldn't ask for a nicer day.

We've had a warm winter (global warming?), so some things that would normally come up later are starting now.  For example, the almond orchards are beginning a week to 10 days early.  Daffodils, Camellias, Quince, and Forsythia are just a few of the flowers we saw in a few blocks.

We walked on Bidwell Ave, which runs along Chico Creek.  There are some very big, expensive homes there, as well as older cottages.  It was all beautiful.  What could not be beautiful on a nice day in the Spring?  And don't tell me it's not Spring yet.

(Click on pictures to see a larger image.)

Multidirectional Sampler

I've been learning about multidirectional scarves.  I want to make a nice one as a gift, but didn't want to use good yarn for the learning process.  The sample in the picture was worked in Paton's Bohemian, which is an inexpensive cotton chenille.  I'll probably toss it now.

I learned quite a bit and want to thank Ted Myatt and Witt Pratt for their excellent tips.  I'm not a knitting technician.  I knit for relaxation and usually don't learn much along the way.  This simple scarf has been a fun learning experience.

I finished the multidirectional sample using a pattern from Karen Baumer.  In addition to Karen's pattern, I used some tips I received from Ted Myatt, a Canadian knitter/designer.

Wonky pointBetter Point

About the tip from Ted:  When you make a multidirectional scarf using contrasting colors, the points where the sections change color are wonky.  See the picture on the left?  The brown of the point isn't exactly pointed.  The picture on the right shows a better point.  The idea came from Ted while he was working on a scarf like this one.  (He says he might publish the tip at some point in the future.)  Ted, if you read this, I tried your idea and it works; but you already knew that :-)

Needle SizeSo, what else have I learned?  Needle Size.  I started the scarf on needles that were too small, and the further into the scarf I got the more I didn't like the feel (too stiff).  I switched to a needle two sizes larger and the fabric felt better.  The picture on the left shows the two ends of the scarf.  Two needle sizes makes quite a difference.

Mataching EndsThe final technique learned came from a tip from Witt Pratt, a Washington D.C. knitter/designer (Ted passed it on).   When Witt worked the scarf way back in 2004 he improved how the end of the scarf is done so that the ends come out the same.

If worked according to the pattern directions both end sections are not the same shape.  Witt's idea is to alter the way the last section is worked.  After you work 1/2 of the last section, you begin decreasing instead of increasing at the beginning of the odd rows.  The picture to the left actually has two end sections the same shape, but I ran out of brown yarn at the end and had to finish with orange.  The line on the right side shows how the brown shape would have looked if I hadn't run out of yarn.

One last lesson:  The area pointed to by the arrow on the left, which is the first join of contrasting color, isn't so good.  The fix for this is to use Ted's tips.

Now I can make the real scarf, confident in my ability to make something worth giving as a gift of love.

Sunday, February 5, 2006


The movie Capote was released at the end of September, 2005.   That's 4 months ago! It finally arrived at the Pageant Theater in Chico this week, so we went to see it.

Movie Poster This is another very good one (A+).  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is wonderful as the manipulative Truman Capote.  If I had to pick between Hoffman, Heath Ledger, and Joaquin Phoenix for best actor this year I would have trouble picking.  Too bad they can't all get a piece of the statue.

Capote (click on photo for NY Times review) is the story of the years Capote took to write "In Cold Blood".  "In Cold Blood" was the first True Crime book, and was the birth of the genre.  Capote made friends with the killers and used them mercilessly to get material for the book.

I think he sold his soul to get the story.  He never finished another book, and died an alcoholic.

Multidirectional & socks

Psst:  Don't right click on an image and display a larger version of a picture while you are composing a post -  you'll lose the entire text of your post.  Save often!

multidirectionalThis is a multidirectional scarf I'm trying out.  I wanted to try an inexpensive sample (Paton's Bohemian, cotton chenille) of the pattern first.  The pattern is Karen Baumer's Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. Next I'll move on to a slightly more expensive yarn (Berroco Chinchilla, rayon chenille).

I don't have enough of the sample yarn to make a very long scarf, so I'll have to find somebody that wants a really short scarf.  The sample is worked on US8 needles, much smaller than called for.  The fabric is dense, but there is no worming.

SocksAnd here are some recently finished socks ready to go to their new home. 

Ruso and I are both bored with socks for a while.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

John Cleese

We went to see John Cleese at CSU Chico last night.

He's a very funny man.  His show consisted of him telling stories about his family and his career.  He showed some very short film clips from Fawlty Towers and Monty Python.  He shot a cat out of a canon.  He talked to his mother in heaven.

His daughter, Camilla, was in the show and she is almost as tall as he... not quite as funny, but J.C. says she helped write the show.  She takes after dad.

When we got to Laxon Auditorium we saw a huge motor coach parked at the stage door.  After the show J.C. said they were off to San Francisco next - had been in Humboldt the night before.  Traveling and giving shows like this is very hard work.  He must have many ex wives to support!

It was a good show, worth the price of admission to see a funny superstar in person.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Nanny McPhee

Click here for movie review Today we saw something completely different from the Oscar contenders we have been seeing... Nanny McPhee (A+).  I loved it.  My smile muscles hurt by the end of the movie.  You can click on the movie poster (left) to see the NY Times review.

The movie is loosely based on Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books.  There is only one Nurse Matilda book in the Butte County library system, so I'm sure donations would be appreciated now that the movie is out.

The story in the movie is well suited to children... laughing, happy endings, and many lessons learned.  One of my criteria for deciding whether or not a movie is "good" is if the characters change during the movie (character development?).  The family in this movie does grow and change.

Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and plays Nanny McPhee.  Of course, she is very good.  There are many good actors and actresses in the movie - see the reviews.

Well done!

PS:  Today was my birthday, so I was treated to a wonderful lunch and the movie.  Thanks, Jan :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Creating a Painting

The above picture looks like a painting, but it was created with a Jasc's Paint Shop Pro.  Pretty cool, eh?  (Jasc was purchased by Corel, so now it's called Corel Paint Shop Pro.)  Corel sends an occasional note with hints, and the latest one was about making paintings out of digital images.

(This picture is Deer Creek on Hwy 32, Northern California, low elevation of Cascade Mountains.)

I tried to put the 'painting' in a document and print it, but it was so big my printer doesn't have enough memory to handle it, so it clogged up my print queue and won't print.  Now I have to figure out how to flush my print queue :-(