Wednesday, December 27, 2006

the Holiday

Scott Adams on his Dilbert Blog, wrote about "Downer Ratio".  His mood mirrors mine today.

So... Jan and I went to see The Holiday (** Satisfactory) at the local megaplex. (The movie poster is a link to the NY Times review.)  It was everything the movie trailer promised.

This is a story of two women who trade houses during the Christmas holidays, each trying to escape their unhappiness at home.  Guess what, they find love and happiness on the other side of the world.  Surprise, n'est pas?

Cameron Diaz and Jude Law are beautiful to watch, and I think Cameron Diaz is funny.  Kate Winslet and Jack Black aren't as sparkly as the other two lovers, but they are more likable.

There is a part of the movie in which Eli Wallach plays an aged and retired Hollywood screen play writer.  When he's on screen with Kate Winslet, the movie is a pleasure to watch.

You can wait for this one on DVD.

On Vox: A Librarian and a poet

View Diane in Chico, CA�s Blog

Don Yarman wrote this poem:

I like my winter brewed black
with freshly ground desire
and poured steaming into sweet dry vision

Being a coffee lover, I think this poem is just wonderful

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sheryl's Tam

I knit another tam, almost an exact duplicate of this tam which I gave in a gift exchange at a work party.  Somebody else at the party liked the original hat and she and I worked a trade.  I get a sampler of her handmade soap, and she gets her own tam.

The original was done in Debby Bliss DK weight merino wool.  This one is done in Lamb's Pride Worsted, 85% Wool / 15% Mohair.  Of course the gauge of the two yarns is different, so I got to do the math all over again.  I finally created a worksheet in MS Excel for the next time.

This is the simplest form of tam o' shanter.   There are no color patterns or textured stitches, just 9 sections.  Well, I did add a round of purl stitches between the increase section and the decrease section.  The thing that I like best about this tam is the tubular cast on that I got from Mary Rowe's "Knitted Tams".

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day, 2006

The day here was just fine.  Presents were exchanged.  Several meals were eaten.  We watched "The Sound of Music".  And, we took a walk around the neighborhood...

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Queen

The_queenHelen Mirren is terrific in The Queen (**** Very Good).  We've been waiting for what seems like months for this movie to arrive in Chico.  Finally, it is playing at the Pageant, which shows reliably good movies and most of the foreign films shown in Chico.

The movie is one of the NY Times' Critic's Picks, and rightly so.  The Queen is about the week following Princess Diana's death.  It's as if the Royalty is caught unawares... people all over the world want to publicly mourn Diana's death, but the Royals want to shelter Diana's sons and choose to stay in Scotland hunting stags.  I think it's a sad movie.

The Queen, and the rest of the Royals (but Diana's sons are not heard from in the entire movie) think of Diana as an embarrassment and want nothing more than for her death to pass quietly and be done with her.  They are unaccustomed to displays of emotion, both privately and publicly.

The newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is instrumental in guiding the Queen out of her reclusive, private family time in Scotland and into a [cool] public display of mourning in London.  It takes him a week to get her back to London, and the movie is about this week.

See it in the theater if you like Scottish scenery :-)

Handknit for Chico

How could I have not know about this?  I would really prefer to give locally if possible, and knitting for local people is perfect for me.  I may have given a hat to this project, because I donated a hat to Heartstrings, one of the 4 local yarn shops sponsoring the event.

Next year!  There is a wonderful blanket in the current issue (Winter 2006/07) knit simple magazine.

Good intentions without follow-through are useless, but I'm sure I can manage one little blanket - maybe more.

The Jesus Center in Chico fed over 100 families last night, and gave them all hand knitted items as gifts.  I'm no Christian, but the Jesus Center does this very good thing every Christmas.  It's worth supporting.

Casino Royale

Casino_royaleThe latest James Bond is a hottie.  The movie, Casino Royale (*** good), is less playful than previous bonds... fewer puns, no naked ladies in the credits, no hit song in the credits (music over credits is a nicely arranged, familiar Bond theme).  NY Times doesn't list it as a critic's pick, but viewers give it thumbs up.

We were tired of waiting for The Queen to come to Chico, so this was the choice for our viewing pleasure during the holidays.

Daniel Craig plays Bond well, and he's a better actor than previous bad boy Bonds.  You can see on his face what he is feeling.  He has an emotional life and feels badly when the women he seduces are killed.  He even falls in love with one of them.

Dame Judi Dench is again superb as a tough, strong ruler of MI6.

There is no "Q" character, but our boy does receive an Aston Martin from "M".  The glove compartment has a nice collection of toys - even a blood testing kit that allows him to get medical help from HQ while he's in the middle of a poker game.

I get the feeling that this is supposed to be a setup movie which shows his beginning as the famous Bond, James Bond.  His very first kills and subsequent promotion to 007 are shown at the beginning of the movie.

I recommend it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

VOGUEknitting presents knit simple winter 2006/07

My last (i.e., not only latest, but also last) issue of VOGUEknitting's knitsimple arrived today.  It's the best one so far.  It's a young magazine and is maturing nicely, I think.  It covers knit and crochet subjects.

1) Knits + That ... things to buy that you don't need, plus books introduced.

The interesting book intro is Nicky Epstein's "Knitting Beyond the Edge".  I want somebody to give me this book for my birthday so I can knit the hooded shawl.  In my estimation, the most interesting thing to buy is the Options Needle Set from KnitPicks.  I have this set and I like it - the joins are good, cables small and pliable, and the points are sharp.  I have used this set more than once now and still like it.

2) fiberfacts : Know Your Naturals, but Edie Eckman

This is a good intro to fiber facts and uses.  There isn't a log of depth.  It's short enough that my eyes didn't glaze over.  The fibers covered are Wool, Alpaca, Mohair, Angora, Cashmere, Silk, Cotton, Linen.  It's just a paragraph about each of these.  Patterns for sample scarves can be found on

3) technique : size is just a (small) number, by Kathleen Power Johnson

A few pages for those of you who are thin and tall, short and average, short and plump, or short and thin.  It's 4 pages of design and pattern alteration information.  I have taken one class from K.P. Johnson and she is good with math, so this article might be worth a read.

    4) projects

There are various projects to make:  accessories, blankets, sweaters (jumpers), jumper (sleeveless overdress), scarves, hats, bags, mp3 and cell phone cases, pillows, socks.

There are two sweaters that look interesting to me:

polo solo, left (pg 34), and

sporty utility, right (pg 38). 

So, if the magazine is pretty good, why am I not renewing my s*bscription?  I get too many magazines (IK and Vogue Knitting are enough).  I don't look at the stacks of magazines littering my house, and adding yet another stack is not required.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Webshots finally comes through

Image I used to be a big fan of Webshots, until I started blogging.  Then I had a need to refer to my photos from my blog, like the one on the left.  Webshots wouldn't let me do it, so I let my subscription to Webshots expire and moved to flickr.

Yesterday I was looking for my favorite eCard facility that I used to use in Webshots and I stumbled on a new-to-me feature in Webshots that lets you refer to photos in webshots from a web page (e.g., the one in this blog entry).  Finally!

Now I need to take a serious look at both photo hosting tools and decide which one to keep.  If I keep Webshots, I'll have to change all the html references to photos in this blog.  If I keep flickr, then I have no work.  Webshots is going to have to be a lot better to make it worth my while!

On Vox: Toni Morrison

View Diane in Chico, CA�s Blog

Last night the library was slow, so I read this very short book (18 pages, double spaced lines): The Dancing Mind: Speech upon Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, by Toni Morrison.She talks...

� Read more on Vox

Circumhorizontal Arc

Circumhorizontal_arcThis is a beautiful sight!

It's pictures like this that make me want to go camp on the top of a mountain in Idaho this summer.

... then reality sets in.  Even if I were in the neighborhood next summer, there is no way I'd be outside and awake after about 9 o'clock at night.  I have turned into one of those people who wake up early and go to sleep early - a walking (or sleeping) example of old age.

Just recently I was smacked in the head with the realization that I won't live that much longer, maybe 20 more years.  I'll miss so many scientific advances - maturing nanotechnology, tiny computers, medical cures for today's dreaded diseases, space and time travel, etc.

I hope the future holds cultural advances as well -  an end to religious wars, and end to hate-motivated actions and government-sponsored repression, and end to hunger, a fair chance for anybody on Earth to excel.

On that hopeful note, I wish you all a happy holiday season.  I don't practice a traditional Judeo-Christian religion, but we do have a tree, decorations, and presents.  After all, we are US citizens :-)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Borack and Hillary

Can Borack Obama win the next US Presidential election?

He's rational.  He's believable.  He's attractive.  He's not Hillary.

I would have only 1 problem voting for Hillary if she ran.  I'm afraid she couldn't be effective because too many people hate her.  I think she has three strikes against her:  1: She is Bill Clinton's wife - still is after he acted badly again and again.  You could say that this is a good thing instead of a bad thing; 2: She is perceived to be a little too far left of center.  Left would feel good for a while; and 3: She wasn't particularly effective when given the health care problem when she was First Lady.  I think it's because so many people hate her.  The good news is that she's plenty smart.

And some people are talking about a Clinton/Obama ticket.  Which one would agree to be Vice President?

I guess it's time to start watching Obama.  He's not controversial on the issues, which is good.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ecological Footprint

Want to know how big your ecological footprint is?  Take this quiz.

I use 18 acres worth of resources, compared to the average of 24 in my country.  If everyone on Earth lived like me, then we would need 4.1 planets to support us.

What is my household doing that's good?  We drive a hybrid car that uses less fuel than most cars.  We keep the house cool in the winter and warm in the summer to conserve gas and electricity.

What could we do better?  Shop for local produce at the farmer's market.  Grow some of our own produce.  Eat meat less often.  Sell one of the cars.  Walk to the local grocery store.  Ride a bike.  Eat less.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

Today is the last day that Stranger Than Fiction (*** Good) is playing at our movie house, so we went to a matinee.

The story is strange.  The premise is that Harold Crick is a
character in Kay Eiffel's manuscript.  When Kay types words into her
manuscript, Harold hears her voice in his head.  The voice tells him
his death is imminent.  Harold is an IRS agent who is hearing voices
and falling in love with his current auditee, a baker, Ana Pascal.

Will Ferrell is very good as Harold.  Maggy Gyllenhaal is good as Ana.  Ema Thompson rocks as the author, Kay.  Dustin Hoffman is also good as Jules, a literature professor.

All through the movie you are waiting to hear how Harold will die, and wondering whether the book will be a comedy or a tragedy.

I recommend it.  The NY Times thought it was just okay.

Good Treo 680 Bad Treo 650

I confess, I love electronic toys.  A couple of years ago I purchased a Palm Treo 650.  I was looking forward to dumping my cell phone and using my new PDA as a phone/camera/organizer/email  all-in-one tool.  It didn't work!!  Anytime I left the phone turned on, it froze and had to be reset.  I had it replaced once and it still didn't work.  I am a bad consumer - I hate spending hours on the phone with a tech support person who doesn't speak English as a first language, and who is convinced I am an idiot.  Convincing them to replace the phone once was enough.  I gave up and bought a cheap cell phone and waited until the next Palm Treo was announced for Cincular.

The Palm Treo 680 has just been released and IT WORKS!!  I love my new Cingular Treo 680.  I leave the phone on all day and it doesn't freeze!  Love it, love it, love it.  Of course, it's not perfect.  The selection button inside the up/down/left/right control is too small for my thumb.  When I turned it on and pressed the selection button to select English as my language I mistakenly pressed the down control and select at the same time and selected Spanish as my language.  I don't speak Spanish, much as I would like to.

Which brings me to... the instructions for doing a hard reset to restore the factory defaults are not in the booklet that comes with the phone.  You have to search, and I mean search, for hard reset instructions on line.  I finally found them, but have forgotten where now.

The keyboard is fine.  I like everything else about the hardware and the software applications.  Well... I would like the list of missed calls to be the default list of phone calls, but I can't figure out how to do that yet (or ever?).  And the battery life is less than the 650, but good enough for my low-minute usage.

I give the Treo 680 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.  Compared to my dysfunctional 650, it's a dream.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Last words

The officer injured in this accident is probably going to be just fine.  I travel through this intersection on the way to work -- the drive through coffee place is here.  I got a free coffee because the accident knocked out the power for a few hours.

Can you imagine being stopped at an intersection and seeing a huge truck skidding right at you?  I sure hope my last words aren't "Holy shit!!". 

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Southern Purls Socks

I listened to podcasts today and knit a little on my Southern Purls socks.  I was supposed to go to a knitting get together at the yarn store today, but it's the holiday season and I would have been the only one there, so I stayed home with Brenda's Cast-On.  So far, I have heard through June of 2006, so I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

About the yarn, Southern Purls Sock Amethyst color yarn (wool & nylon, fingering weight)... I'm liking it.  It doesn't split and it is soft.  It knits up at about 9 sts / inch.

The pattern is a basket weave from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks.

Friday, December 1, 2006

AIDS Awareness

Aids_ribbonToday is AIDS Awareness day.

If you are suffering from AIDS, here's my love going toward you.  Take care.

If you have casual sex, BE SAFE.

If you have money, give some to AIDS research, education, and treatment.

If you have words, send some to your government representative.