Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday morning things

* I still have a couple things I finished over break to photograph and post, I just haven't take the time, I guess.

* I've had something odd happen in my sleep pattern recently: I'll go to bed at a reasonable (for me) hour, go to sleep, and then very early in the night have....I guess "oppressive" is the best descriptor? dreams. Dreams full of random imagery, sometimes things that are worrisome (e.g. one from last night: riding in a car with someone, coming up on a railroad crossing as the arms are just starting to go down, they decide to try to "beat it" as the train approaches). I suppose it's another one of those "brain sorting its recycling" things but I also have the weird sensation of waking up and thinking, "Wow, it must nearly be time to get up" and then looking at the clock and seeing that it's only 1 am or so. (And it's hard to get back to sleep).

* I went ahead and ordered the appropriate USB cable (USB on one end, the little box-shaped thing that I think is called a "B attachment" on the other) so I COULD plug my printer directly into my computer if it ever loses its connection to the router again (like: in a power outage). Because I don't trust that I set it up right, and I also don't trust that I'd remember how to do it again. And I kind of hate feeling that way but at least the cable will prevent me from worrying "what if I need to print something some Saturday evening and the printer won't talk to the computer through the router?" The cable was about $8, which is cheap for my peace of mind. (Also I could still print even if my home internet is out but the electricity is still on....that happens rarely, but it can happen)

* I'm gonna try to run to Pruett's on the way home this afternoon (complication factor: they're next to a school, so if it's "pick up time," it's very hard to get into their parking lot). I need to just cook a piece of meat - gonna see what their chicken looks like, or, failing that, if there's any decent cut of beef. I've done too many 'quick pick-up' meals lately and I need to start thinking about cooking again.

I'm also going to get a couple of "quick meal" things - there's a kind of frozen macaroni and cheese that is not too bad and is also not too high in sodium, and sometimes you just want an EASY bowl of mac and cheese.

I find I am in a cooking rut. I don't think of what I *could* cook. I probably need to look at my cookbooks again. I get sort of in a rut of "heat up a couple different kinds of vegetables" (which makes me sad after too many meals) or "zap some Applegate Farms chicken nuggets" (I am not eight), or, if I'm really ambitious and have the stuff on hand, I either make those cabbage pancakes or black-bean burgers and both of those are good and are nutritious, but I run the risk of totally burning out on them by making them too often.

Also my Seabear salmon packets came, so I suppose once in a while I could quickly make a salmon burger with one and a few breadcrumbs and some onion and an egg, or I could open a packet and use part of it in an omelette (especially the smoked salmon) and then put the rest in the fridge for a snack the next day (I *think* they will keep a day or two if you refrigerate them after opening)

I also have to make sure I have sufficient stuff on hand, at least for a day or two: hard to tell how bad the "winter weather" is going to be (at first they were saying "Ice, then snow," now they are saying "maybe a dusting of snow" but it doesn't build confidence in me when the weather forecaster says "this is the 'most correct' model" when the weather has not yet occurred).

* I have Martin Luther King, Jr. day off. Yes, once again my campus is promoting "go out and do volunteer work" with the day but....I dunno. I already do a lot through my church (and last week did Meals on Wheels), so maybe that counts? It would be just nice to have another day at home to sleep in and to do what I wanted - maybe finish sewing together that quilt top. I do feel vaguely guilty but I also tell myself that just as some people go all-out on days like Mother's Day when they treat their mother badly the rest of the year, maybe the Volunteer Day is for the people who never do it. Maybe? The other thing is, the big volunteering days often get a glut of people....so if I'm willing to, say, go out some random week in the summer and deliver meals to people through Meals on Wheels, maybe that's more effective than showing up to paint a fence or something when fifty other people are?

Yes, I am trying to justify taking the day off to myself and still feeling slightly guilty.

* My "advanced biostats" student met with me. It turns out she has not much background in stats at all (and *probably* should have been counseled into a regular stats class this past fall to make up that deficiency). On the other hand: this buys me time to catch up. I handed her my spare copy of Molutsky's "Intuitive Biostatistics" and told her to read the section on hypothesis testing, and then to come in next week to discuss. My plan is to try to find short published papers (in wildlife science; that is her interest) using the various tests and have her read them to see how they're used with 'real world' data, and then also a couple times a month go into the computer lab with her to show her the techniques on SPSS.

Like I said on Twitter: maybe God really does watch out for fools and drunkards. (I am not the second but I will cop to being the first for this situation - I said "yeah, yeah, sure" to teaching advanced biostats, because I was under the impression it was for the *coming fall* and I could use part of my summer to refresh myself on stuff. And then I panicked when I found out it was for this spring, and I had the idea of someone coming and going "Yeah, I had up through basic linear regression but I really need to know ANCOVA, so teach me" and I'd be like "uh...buh...I have a book that *defines* ANCOVA...")

Still, that's one of my summer plans: refresh myself on those techniques and also learn how to do them in SPSS. (Heh: I don't need to get my "s" together for this, I need to get my SPSS together)

* I also found out that the student I was slightly taken aback by last fall when they asked, point blank, one day "so how did you get your job?" and I interpreted it as slightly-hostile in the sense of "are you really qualified for this" IS ACTUALLY just a little awkward and abrupt because I have them again in another class this spring, and when I did the activity (which I joked "that I know all of y'all hate, but I'm gonna do it anyway") of asking them to introduce themselves to the class and also maybe talk a little bit about what their "dream" job would be, the person said it was "I want to teach college....like [Dr. fillyjonk] does" so I guess actually it's sort of a compliment.

It's kind of nice feeling like maybe you're a role model for someone, but also it reminds me to stay on my toes with being prepared for class and ready to answer questions and all of that.

* And I am slowly circling around to thinking about writing up last fall's research for a paper - I need to e-mail my student to see how she's progressing on her part, but at least I can find papers for the introduction and start working on what I think it should be, and then we can mash-up her paper and mine.

* I also had a student (who I suspect is an athlete based on his schedule and what else he's taking) come up after class to introduce himself (he came a moment late and also wanted to apologize for that) and he shook my hand. That's a nice thing. Even if it's something his coach may have told him to do, it's still a nice thing. I am happy to see it when students have good manners.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Knitting, crocheting, quilting

Hopefully back to normal life. (And it wasn't Dave who helped me with the computer stuff...where did I get Dave? It was Phillip. I know that because Canon sent me one of those surveys and they name-checked him. And yes, even as much as I hate those and I hate the "grade inflation" aspect, I also know enough that giving Phillip 10/10 on everything might favorably affect his pay or continued employment, and he was really good, so...I did the silly survey and gave him 10/10 on everything)

But anyway.

I have decided to implement the "finish the stalled projects, or at least pick them back up in 2019" resolution

I have several bigger ones:

- Celestarium
- The owl sweater
- The quilt in the frame
- The hexagon top
- A smaller top I am machine sewing, but need to finish setting together
- The Color-Bar Blanket (crocheted).

In the interest of that, I pulled out the quilt-in-the-frame and did a couple hours of work on it this weekend, but yeah, hand-quilting takes a while. (Though of course I am already thinking of "What quilt will I hand-quilt next" and right now I'm leaning towards the one I am jokingly calling Crossfire (after the old political-discussion show where there was someone on the right and someone on the left and they kind of verbally fought it out. I guess I was more tolerant of that back in the 90s because I used to watch it occasionally; I think these days it would drive me to tears).

Yes, it's one that might lend itself well to machine-quilting but I'm also a little worried about all those bias edges and what the pulling of the longarm machine might do to it. And I can see a simple way to hand quilt it without having to mark the top heavily, and marking is kind of a  pain.

But it will be a while before the current one is done. (it's the one called "Knickerbocker Glory,", and yeah, I had that top done for a LONG time before I decided to quilt it)

I am also knitting a bit. Right now I'm working most on the two pairs of socks I *just* got started towards the end of break - I have most of the first sock from the Vintage Fairy Lights pattern done. It's a good pattern, at least thus far - very clear directions. I'm using a MadelineTosh yarn that is in one of the speckle colors - something like Cosmic, maybe, as the name?

The bobbles are not nearly as much of a pain to do as most bobbles are.

I also have a pair of Socks for the Deputy Headmistress but I have just finished the ribbing and haven't even started the knit-purl pattern. (I am using a sparkly pink yarn. Yes, as I said, I doubt McGonigall had a sparkly pink side, but I do, and I'm going to be the one wearing the socks)

I dunno. I feel inspired to knit socks again even though I look at my several storage-bags (I have a stack of three small zipper-storage bags to keep them in: it protects them in case I ever have another outbreak of carpet beetles, though it's been a while since I saw any of those) and I think "You have too many handknit socks, especially given that you wear dresses or skirts and tights nearly every day at work" but then again, a lot of it isn't so much the having, it's the making.

And I do periodically wear them.

I was delighted to find a missing member of a pair the other day: I had a pair of socks I knitted from a Felici colorway called "Sugared Violets" or some such, but I thought of them as my Twilight Sparkle socks because, well, they LOOK like her colors. And they were nice socks, too - as I remember I knit them on smaller needles so they were denser and more snug than some socks I made. And then I couldn't find one. And that was about the time I was having some rodent problems, and I thought "Oh no, did one of the mice get into my room and the sock was on the floor or something, and they dragged it off for a nest?" and I felt very sad looking at the mateless sock and I admit I was on the point of (gasp) throwing it away...but I didn't, and good thing I didn't, because Saturday evening, looking for one of my little thermal undervests to wear under my low-cut nightgown, there it was, tangled up in a pair of underpants. I can only presume I washed them at the same time (it was one of the pink pairs of underpants) and I didn't sort carefully (I often don't) and just shoved stuff in the drawer, but...

as I said on Twitter, reunited and it feels so good:






Really, what has re-inspired me to socks was that pair of garter-rib ones, where I just found a stitch pattern I liked that I thought would work with the yarn, and went with it. I should do more socks like that, where I take a 64-72 stitch standard sock and plug in a stitch pattern I like (I have many, many dictionaries of them) and just kind of figure it out as I go along (like: shifting the numbers in the instep so the pattern is "balanced"). Or digging out some of the sockyarn I've had for a long time, and just hunting through my different patterns on Ravelry or in my books to find one I like for the yarn.

And finally, crocheting: I am wearing genuine Old Crocheted Stuff today - I needed a shawl or something for a bit more warmth in my office and I pulled out an older one, a crocheted one from I THINK a free Lion Brand pattern years ago (may even have been one of those "on the ball band" patterns; back in the late 90s and early 00s, the different colors of Wool-Ease all had different patterns on the ball bands, and so you got a free pattern when you bought yarn - or more than one, if you bought multiple colors)

I remember working on it in the crummy little apartment I lived in when I first moved down here so it's got to be close to 20 years old now. I rarely wear it because it's a little more boho/hippie chic than my usual style (and it is a dark cranberry "tweed" yarn with little neps in it), but with the brown dress I am wearing today it seemed to work, so I pulled it out. And yeah, that is one of the nice things about making stuff and having a good memory: you remember where you were when you were working on a certain project, what was going on in your life. (I was so young and innocent then....)

And of course, the other nice thing about handmade stuff, if you do a good job and use good materials: it lasts forever. I have 20 year old sweaters I knit that I still wear, and socks close to that age. I have a few dresses I have sewn that are closing in on the 20 year mark, and one that might even be 25 years old. (Yes, you also have to not change size too drastically. If anything, I'm a bit smaller than I was 25 years ago)

But of course, because

I have to find new stuff I want to start. And yes, it's yet another toy, and yet another MLP toy at that:



Ocellus!.Yeah, I bought it.

Next time I'm headed out somewhere with a fair selection of the various acrylic yarns (so: next trip to JoAnn's, probably in a couple weeks), I think I'll pick up the yarns I need for her. (I don't have any of the colors listed, and acrylic yarn is cheap enough, and it's important to me to get the colors as show-accurate as I can).

(I kind of hold out hope that designer does more, and maybe make a Smoulder pattern; I'd really like to have a stuffed Smoulder. Well, I'd like to have a stuffed Yona and a Silverstream, too...but Smoulder could be fun, especially if she were sized to wear doll dresses - because remember her secret fondness for girly things...)









Though next up on my "get back to work on stalled things" may be the Color-Bar Blanket, starting with sorting out the pieces I DO have done, and maybe starting to attach some of them together (which is going to be a job in and of itself, unless I can figure out some way to single-crochet them together that looks good, or something)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

At last, success

But at a cost of several hours and a lot of stress on my part.

So, when we left our heroine (yeah right), she was preparing to run down to the nearby computer shop in hopes of them either fixing the broken Belkin router or being able to sell her a nearly-identical one.

Apparently service has....gone downhill a bit...since I last used them. The guy was like "Uhhhhhh....it could either be that you reset something in your computer that throttles the signal* or maybe the thing is, I don't know, losing signal?"

(*Oh, I don't THINK so. For one thing, I haven't screwed with anything on the computer, for another, when I was hardwiring in, there was no signal loss)

And I, just wanting the problem FIXED already, asked if I could replace the router.

"Yeah, you can go to wal-mart, they have lots of them."

"So, you don't sell them any more?" I asked, looking at a cabinet full of them (???) behind the guy.

"No, if we need them, we usually...uhhhh...just order them."

Okay, FINE.

So then I said: "So is Belkin the best brand or what?" And he kind of grudgingly said yes, though that was the brand in the case behind him, and the one I got LAST time.

So, FINE, okay, I go to Wal-mart. You don't want my money, small business? FINE. Anyway, I needed milk, it's supposed to be crappy this weekend so I need food on hand.

So I went to wal-mart. Walked over to the electronics section. Saw not only just one brand of router, just one KIND of router - a NetGear.

Surely, surely, they have more than one type of router?

So I waited for The Guy who worked there to finish up with someone else, when he did, I stepped forward and started to ask my question....

And an older woman - older than I am - PUSHED HER CART BETWEEN WHERE HE WAS STANDING AND I WAS STANDING (like, three feet apart) and stepped in front of me and ASKED HIM A QUESTION ABOUT CELL PHONES.

I think he saw the look of bewilderment-shading-into-anger in my face - I had, as I noted, hung back and waited to be sure he was finished helping the person before me - and he managed to send her off quickly.

But yeah, great. I know I'm freaking invisible, world, and I don't matter, I don't need it emphasized to me.

(Yes, charitable explanation: she couldn't hear me; sometimes I am a bit soft-spoken for my own good. Or she was really deeply worried and needed help with the phone NOW and decided to push forward. I don't know)

But he took me over to The Wall and showed me what they had - mostly souped-up things for gaming or those kind of smart-home things where all your appliances do stuff like say, "Dirty feet, muddy feet, wipe your feet, please, be neat" to you. I have one (1) computer and one (1) printer that I want to network. That's it. I have a dumbphone and a dumb thermostat and my fridge is from 2001 and my washer and dryer are even older than that and I don't want appliances that spy on me any way.
And then he said, "But, I don't really recommend these if you want it just to connect a computer and printer to the internet" (which is what I had said I wanted). And he pulled out a smaller, plainer one- NetGear brand. (Like the ones they had on the endcap, the ones I saw first, but a bit better and nicer).

"I should be able to set this up myself, right?" I asked. "Oh yeah," he responded, "It's largely automatic and there are also onscreen directions. But you probably need to call your ISP; one of my friends bought a new router and it wouldn't work until they called them up and told them to add it."

Okay, that sounds hinky, but whatever, I don't know.

And I got my milk and a few other things (very few, it seems wal-mart more and more is going to only selling the most-processed of processed food, much of which I cannot eat because of the sodium content or other additives) and ran home.

The router was $60. I am not happy about that but I need easily-accessible home internet.





At this point, it was nearly 2:30 but I thought, "Fifteen minutes and I'll have this set up, and I can go back to campus."

Yeah, RIGHT.


It took a *little* doing but I got it to talk to my computer.

Couldn't figure out how to reset the network name: my ONE consolation in all of this was assigning a new and goofy name to the home network. My old one - the name of the dead router, at least in my mine, was Unicorn. But I wanted something clever.

No, not "FBI Van #323" or even "Car 54," everyone does stuff like that. And not "Abe LinkSys" (and anyway, it's a NetGear.)

A bit of thought - I saw Bilbo Laggins online and liked it, though one thing I will say about Vyve is it doesn't seem to lag....so I thought "Bilbo Logins" and then a better one popped into my mind:

Logins and Messy-na. Because I am a child of the 70s and also my house is usually a mess. (get it?)

Anyway, I called Vyve. The helpful woman at the "all other questions" line said "Oh, no, ha ha, no you don't need to tell us about a router" and I laughed and said "I thought not but the guy was really insistent" and I explained I was trying to set the whole thing up and was a little shaky on it.

"Oh," she said, "I can transfer you over to a tech if you'd like"

Yes, I would like. So I talked to José, who was very helpful, and after a few moments I said "Oh, hey....I have full bars, I'm connected to the internet!"

So anyway. At 3 pm-ish where we were: computer was talking to the router, I could get online.

But the printer. First, I hoped somehow it automagically connected, but no such luck. So I tried, with José's help, to connect to the printer....we tried quite hard and he was VERY patient (my stupid Canon is stupid slow to do ANYTHING). I know the funky password for my router by heart because I must have typed it in (using a stupid keypad-like setup on the printer) eighteen times. Nothing we tried worked. I felt bad using so much of José's time so finally I signed off and said I'd try to find out using the Canon website.

I tried. I tried really hard through the Canon website. Found a wizard that might have helped, but it stalled out at the very end, and said it didn't recognize the printer. I could get just so far, and then everything acted like the printer was not turned on, and I KNEW it was on. (The lights were on. But nobody was home, I guess).

It kept asking me to depress the WPS button - implying it was on the router. My router has two buttons: "power" and "reset." Neither of those seemed like a "WPS" button.

I tried EVERYTHING. I was on the point of going out and buying a freaking USB cable and just tethering the printer to my computer every time I wanted to print (which means I'd have to return to my office to print; the printer is huge and it lives on a file cabinet in my home office).

At a friend's suggestion, I called Canon. I didn't hold out a LOT of hope, because in my experience those big-corporation helplines are seriously useless. But my choice at that point was to: figure I had a nice, large, expensive Canon-shaped brick, buy a darned USB cable and live with the inconvenience, shanghai someone who could fix it (I don't know anyone off-hand; I don't think Mike is super computer competent and none of my colleagues are, and certainly no one else I know at church is), or call Canon.

First of all, it didn't look promising. Punched my way through a phone tree only to be told the equivalent of "Thank you Mario! But the princess is in another castle!" ("Our help number is 1-800-for-Canon")

I called, with one apprehensive eye on the clock: I think they're in the Eastern timezone, and that means soon I'd get a "We're sorry, but we're closed for the day, please call back tomorrow" and I don't have TIME tomorrow, it's a long teaching day.

But, I got lucky - I got Dave. (And yes, his name was almost certainly actually Dave; he sounded as Midwestern as I do). I explained the problem. He walked me through a few things, agreed that it seemed stupid there was no WPS button on the new router. We tried a BUNCH of stuff and again I felt bad taking up his time but then again, I guess that's his job.

Finally, he said, "Well, if you're willing to try it, you can uninstall and reinstall the printer, that might fix the problem of the computer acting like the printer is off." We did that. He had me re-run the wizard. It hung up but asked if I wanted to try to 'redetect'

"Oh, good, good," said Dave. "All you have to do now is turn the printer off, then turn the router off, then turn the router back on and then the printer. That should do it"

He stayed on the line (again, I felt bad about it, but at least I was being more polite to him than some of his callers? So maybe spending an extra 10 minutes helping me was better than moving on to the next person who might be a jerk to him?).

I turned the printer off (no great loss there). Turned the router off. Waited a moment. And you better BELIEVE I held my breath upon turning it back on, praying the little lights would all light back up, because at this point my trust in technology was sorely shaken.

They came on.

I turned the printer on.

The wizard finished wizarding.

"Okay, now try printing something," Dave said.

I opened my last week's Sunday school lesson (the first thing to hand) and tried.

It printed. Success. I thanked Dave for all his help and patience, and signed off, but yeah....it took from about 2:30 until *just before five p.m.* to do that. So, not going back to school to work on stuff this afternoon.

Oh, and incidentally, in the chain of waiting to be connected or for stuff to happen? I figured out how to rename my home network "Logins and Messy-Na" so at least there's THAT.


I'd feel really proud of myself for powering through and getting everything set up (with help), but I'm just sort of tired and bummed-out now so it's hard to feel *too* joyful about it...this is often the case with anything that is a hard slog; it's harder for me to be happy over accomplishing something that is hard-won for me than something that comes easily.


heh heh, nope.

So the router started doing its blinky light thing again overnight.

Dangit. I tried doing the power cycle - even left it unplugged for a couple hours in the middle of the night - and that didn't fix it. So I can't even get online long enough to try to download new firmware (which was an issue I didn't think about until late last night).

I assume this means I need a new router.

I'm steeling myself to gather up the old one, go into the computer shop a couple blocks down from me (where I bought the laptop from and who provided the original router) and there are four possible outcomes, from best to worst:

1. "Oh, that's a known issue with these, here, we have a fix" or they do something like manage to get it working and do the firmware patch

2. "Yeah, it's dead, but we sell one that will work as a replacement" and either "We can make an appointment to come out and set it up for you" or "there's step by step instructions, you should be able to do it, call us if you have a problem."

3. "We don't sell these now but this model is the one you want and you can get it locally at this place, and you should be able to figure it out, call us if you need help"

and worst

4. "We can't help you, try the wal-mart."

I mean, I KINDA know what I need and I KINDA think I can set it up on my own but it helps to know someone has my back (the biggest worry being "how do I get my printer to recognize the new router" - it's a wireless printer. Though maybe that's automatic once I get my computer to talk to the router?)

My other big worry, one of those late-night "oh woes, what would I do then?" was "what if the new router requires Windows 10?" I have, thus far, been a Win 7 holdout. (My dad has 10, and....it's kinda ugly but I could get used to it if I had to, I guess?)

Then again: I looked up Belkin routers (my current brand) on Amazon (reverse showrooming, heh: look up the specs on Amazon because it's easy but buy locally if I can) and it said "Requires a minimum of Windows XP, so, I guess I should be good. (Anyway, computer dudes can tell me. I know they gave me 7 back in 2014 or so because "8 really sucks and you'd regret getting it"


But, ugh. I would just "jack in" to the computer with the ethernet cable (I can become comfortable with inconvenience) EXCEPT for the wireless printer and even if I could find a cable to connect my printer to my laptop and print directly, sometimes I need to be online AND printing, and I can't do both of those, not with a lot MORE inconvenience than trying to get a new wireless router.

Ugh. First world problems are first-worldy.

That said? I changed the cartridge on the laser printer here at school (because I had to shake the old one yet again to get it to print for me this morning). I left the old cartridge and box in the room with the printer, and when the colleague who had complained about the not-printing yesterday came in, I told him, and added, "I left the cartridge and box in there so you could box it up if you want to send it for recycling, I'm a little too busy for that right now" and he said "Or you could" and I kind of sighed and repeated "I'm a little too busy right now" and maybe I should have been more explicit about BECAUSE I WAS THE ONE WHO WENT AND GOT THE CARTRIDGE AND SUITED UP IN MY LAB APRON LEST I GET TONER ON MY BLOUSE AND READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND PULLED OUT THE SILLY TAB AND PUT THE NEW CARTRIDGE IN THE MACHINE, YOU CAN DO THIS RELATIVELY SMALL THING SINCE YOU USE THE PRINTER TOO but I forget that not everyone comes from a background where saying "You could do this thing (with: after I did this other task left unsaid) because I'm busy right now" really means HEY YOU PULL YOUR WEIGHT BY DOING SOME OF THE WORK INSTEAD OF LEAVING IT ALL TO ME.

At any rate: I'm good at overlooking the kind of "clutter" that the cartridge and box are in the printer room, colleague is someone bugged by that kind of thing, so if this becomes a standoff, he'll blink long before I do.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Solved problem #2

1. The router at home is still working normally, so I don't know. Some kind of weird power blip overnight? It got too loaded up with aether and I had to unplug it in order for it to all leak out? ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.")

2. One of my colleagues was griping about how the (shared by everyone on my floor) printer was refusing to print, throwing a code, because the toner cartridge was low. ("It says there are 2000 pages left, how wasteful is it we have to throw it away at that point? And now I guess I'll have to send it to the downstairs printer and WALK ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE" [n.b.: this is not someone with a disability of any kind])

I looked at him, and silently opened up the printer, took the cartridge out, inverted it, shook it a couple times, put it back in...

"That's not gonna work!"

....closed the printer, it started printing. I just gave him a LOOK and went back to my office.

No, I didn't hear a "thank you" but whatever.  

***

It was a long day. First days always are. I am tired and ever so slightly grumpy and also am in one of those moods where all the various sillinesses/smugnesses/burning-hot-takes/hectoring/lecturing I see from other people online are super annoying me.

And yet, I don't want to log off, because I'm also kind of longing for a little bit of positive feedback, hoping one of my "mutuals" will come on and say something nice. 

(I also have CWF tonight and in a moment I have to run out for a couple things)

But yeah. I'm kind of tired and a little bereft and am hoping tomorrow goes smoothly.

On reaction images

A couple people I follow on Twitter have taken the tack of "If there's some controversy going on, and I want to say something but I know it would just stir people up/be unproductive, I'm gonna post A Thing" where the Thing is some kind of an image (one person does giant statues, the other does ducks).

And I thought, you know, the world seems so very pointy right now, that maybe I need to do that. Instead of feeling my feelings, I post some kind of an image, which will also take the place of me saying something (because sometimes you know nothing you can say will help, or you don't have the energy for dealing with the blowback you might get).

My problem is, what do I use? I mean, the most on-brand thing for me would probably be a Pony rolling her eyes:

(And there are more ponies out there like that.  I am partial to the Rarity Side-Eye:)

(Oh wow, it's even a .gif - Rarity blinks. This one is from Derpibooru)

But there are other things I could use.

I thought of hobbits, because hobbits are peaceable until they are pushed beyond the limit, and there are some pretty nice images of hobbit-houses out there.

(This one is apparently an image from one of the movies)

And there is something nice about that. The finality of the closed door. ALMOST but not quite an implication of "I'm takin' my marbles and going home." And hobbit-houses are about comfort, and controversy makes me uncomfortable, so...


But also, I thought of Grumpy Homer in Bed. This is an image - I think I first saw this as a reaction image somewhere and I laughed out loud of it because who among us has NOT felt this EXACT way:

Oh man. Those eyes. Big mood, as the cool kids say.

But there are other good grumpy characters; I have much love for the various grumpy Pingus that are out there:



Hah.

So I dunno. Maybe random grumpy cartoon character for "what someone is saying makes me mad/sad but I'm not gonna give anyone the satisfaction of knowing" and maybe side-eye Rarity for "This argument is so feathering stupid I want to say something but I don't want to descend into the stupidity"

But then there's also this .gif, which also works in some situations: where you get tricked into reading what starts out looking like a blogpost or even a reasoned argument, but winds up with "Buy this book at...."

Oh man. That's one of my favorite lines out of the whole movie.






That was weird

So I got up around 2 am, as seems to be my style at this time*. Walking to the bathroom, I can see into my living room, especially the power-strip area where everything is plugged in.

The wireless router was doing its "I'm broken!" cycle-thing: blue light (which indicated "Everything's OK!") then no light then orange light ("Everything's NOT OK!").

I groaned inwardly and thought, well, maybe my ISP is doing some weird overnight maintenance; sometimes they do that, though usually they push-notify a popup ad the day before.

(*No, I don't wear an onion on my belt)

Got up again somewhat before five. It was still doing that. "Cool, cool," I thought, "I'll start my workout and when I do a water-break I'll also unplug everything and do a power cycle**"

(**Which I will forever hear in my mind as "power suckle," because of a now-ten-years-ago phone call I had to make to the company that was my ISP two companies ago, and got someone with a very deep-Georgia accent, so "cycle" sounded like "suckle" to my Northern ears)

Did that. Also hit the tiny reset button on the back of the router after everything had powered back up (And I HATE that reset button. I get that it has to be tiny so people don't hit it inadvertently, but I have to find a tiny crochet hook or small-gauge knitting needle to depress the recessed button)

Nothing. Still doing the light-show.

I finished my workout and wondered: okay, so, is my modem borked? Or my router? Or the whole connection?

I figured: something's wrong with the signal coming out from the ISP was most likely, and also was the thing that would require the least input from me - I'd just have to wait it out for them to fix it.

So after finishing the workout and washing up, I called my ISP (they have overnight help-desk people, and often it's easier to get someone very early in the morning). The woman I got was helpful, but she regretfully said: "No, I'm sorry, it looks like the internet is totally up in your area. Are the lights all on on your modem except for the last one?" And darnit, they were: "I hate to say this but it's probably your router."

Dang. So, I thought: where do I go to buy a new router and am I smart enough to set it up all by myself with appropriate security so no one can leech my internet or see what I'm doing? (The last time I got a new router was when I got the new laptop and the nice dude from the computer shop set it all up for me)

And I thought: dang, no early-morning internet for me.

But then I thought: wait, couldn't I just "hard-wire" it? As in, take the cable connecting the modem to my router and plug it into the port on my laptop? Nothing's lost if it doesn't work....

It worked. I had internet. So I did my few minutes of early morning surfing (and did Duolingo for the day) but still felt unhappy that I'd have to "jack in" until I could buy and set up a new router (today is going to be a long day. I might have been able to tomorrow....). The modem is in my living room, but I like to use my computer sitting on my bed at times, or at my dining room table. And the charger is buried under a ton of stuff (so I can just plug the laptop in to the charger, but can't easily move the charger, not without moving a bunch of crap) in my office. Definitely suboptimal.

So after I got done with that, I thought, "Hell, I'll unplug the router again and see what happens if I leave it unplugged for a longer time" (Even though I thought five minutes was what a power cycle took, and the lady on the phone said "unplug it for at least 1 minute")

So I unplugged it. Left it unplugged while I retrieved my clothes for today and put them on and put my makeup on and ate breakfast and packed a lunch. And plugged it back in after all that, not holding out much hope.

The light turned blue.

It stayed blue.

I turned my computer back on; it connected to the Wifi no problem.

Routers, how do they forking work?



That said, I'm glad it's working for now but this might be a warning I'll have to replace it soon. At least I know on an emergency basis I can hardwire in with the cable....and if I really had to I could tear up my office to get access to the plug and charger and plug it in to the powerstrip and just work from there. Awkward, and it's darned nice to be able to "roam" about the house with my laptop, but it works.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Some random things

* They say deaths come in threes. I dunno, but:

- Retired Baptist minister who had been a very good friend of my (Disciples of Christ) congregation.

- Glenna, the woman I wrote about yesterday

- The sister-in-law of our organist.

As our secretary said in church today: "It's been a WEEK."

* Dr. G. (the retired minister)'s memorial service is next Saturday. I had gotten an e-mail from the secretary midmorning yesterday saying "2 pm Saturday" and I thought it meant yesterday, and not only was I in slobby clothes (flannel pajama pants and an old t-shirt) and I had a headache and I so didn't feel like going out, so I wound up saying to myself "there will be hundreds of people there given who he was; you won't be missed" but felt slightly bad (I had worked somewhat closely with him on a few things after the church split in 2003). I will probably go next week; I can schedule it in and also I have the following Monday (the 21st) off because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

* I think I found a sort of New Year's Resolution: to try to finish up some of the longterm projects I have going:

- The quilt currently in the frame
- Celestarium
- The Owl sweater
- The handpieced hexagon top, or at least work more on it (I keep buying bits and pieces of fabric for it, but haven't sewn on it in a long time

* I started up piano practice (on my own; lessons won't start back up until March). I tried a bit refreshing some of the pieces I had played before but that felt unsatisfying so I pulled out my book of Mendelssohn pieces and looked around. I started on the VERY LAST of the Songs without Words in there, one dubbed "Faith." (Apparently Mendelssohn didn't name most of his pieces but they have picked up names through the years from various publishers.) I like it. It DOES sound hymnlike; some of the chords and how the tune progresses is reminiscent of a hymn.

(Mendelssohn was born to a Jewish family but when he was fairly young his parents converted to Lutheranism, though I have also read this was more to avoid the prejudices others had at that time or his father's rebelling against his grandfather, than out of a deep conviction. I don't know. Then again, Mendelssohn apparently wrote some music for not just the Lutheran church (which he was baptized into) but the Anglican and Catholic churches. However, apparently he was seen as "too Jewish" in Germany of the 1930s, and his music was not played. The stupidity of prejudice: Mendelssohn has over time become one of my favorite composers and some of his piano compositions are great, because they are not overly-complicated for a not-very-advanced pianist, but are still interesting and meaningful to play)

* And one of those storm-in-a-teapot things. Not gonna go into too much detail, but naive blogger writes about an impending overseas trip to a culture different from ours, and presumably (I could not read the whole blogpost, it was very longwinded. And for me, that's saying a lot) she dipped into sort of what would be called Orientalist attitudes, and....well, hackles are up all over the place. From what I did read? I got the sense of someone who was somewhat naive and maybe provincial and...didn't intend malice.

And you know? I try hard to be a person of good will but at times I fear that I may say something someone may be offended by, when I don't intend offense, but because I am awkward and maybe naive about some things....and, I don't know. I'm not saying this well but I think in our concern about avoiding insulting people that we don't drive away people who misspeak when there are people out there who are speaking in ways meant to be intentionally hurtful....and I don't know. 

I've also known people who "talked a good game" in the sense of saying the currently-accepted thing, but who also had a cruel streak in how they actually treated individual people....and I'd hate to see people like that getting a pass because they know the "right words" while someone who said something "the wrong way" while having no ill-intention in their heart gets driven out of a community before they have much of a chance...

I don't know the answer to it. I feel like our culture is going through a crisis right now where some people who might be people of goodwill are a little afraid to speak lest they bring offense, even inadvertently, and yet at the same time, some people who have a history of being quite terrible to others feel even more empowered to lash out and cause hurt, and it seems to remind me of the old line from "The Second Coming" about the best lacking all conviction and the worst being full of passionate intensity.

("The Second Coming" is one of those poems that I learned young and that keeps finding its way into my brain over the past few years)

* Classes start tomorrow. You might ask, am I ready?

I dunno. Not real eager to go back to the "very early to rise and early to bed" schedule, not real eager about all of a sudden having to deal with lots of people again.

(And apparently this (nb: a few swears) is the origin of that meme)

Gonna have to be disciplined tonight and try to get into bed around 8:30 or so, and also read something restful (I restarted Butler-Bass' "Gratitude" last night - it had been long enough since I had stopped reading it I had lost the thread, and I really wanted to think about it more). I'm also reading "The 12.30 to Croydon" which is one of those vintage British mysteries - it's an odd one, because unlike most where the murder happens and you're in the dark (unless you guess it) until the reveal near the end, here you see the murder but then WHAT LED UP TO IT in the sense that you know the murderer long before the police do. And while I find it an interesting trope, and it's definitely different - I find the whole thing gives a very nightmarish and claustrophobic sense, which may have been the author's intent.

I mean, once or twice in my life I've had nightmares about killing someone - in both cases, unintentionally (once: I dreamed I hit someone who ran out in front of my car, in the other, it was having fed someone something they were allergic to without my realizing it in time. In both cases I tried to cover it up because....I don't know why. If someone runs out in front of your car and you hit them, it will ultimately go better for you if you stop and try to get them help than if you keep driving) and that was bad enough. But here, the murderer knows what he's doing and plans it out (poisoning his rather-awful but rich uncle, because he needs money and figures his uncle won't die in time and also knows said uncle won't give him money) and all the terrible things leading up to it (all the precautions he takes to avoid detection, and you KNOW they're all going to be for naught). Right now, it's at the point of his uncle having died, and he's going through the psychological torture of "wait, do the cops really suspect me?" (the poison was found) with a side-order of "I did this horrible, horrible thing" and yeah. Like I said, an interesting book but not exactly *enjoyable* or *relaxing* reading (and again: "do books always have to spark joy?" heh.)






Saturday, January 12, 2019

and kind of sad

One of the women at my church died this morning.

I mean, on the one hand, it wasn't unexpected: she had Parkinson's disease and likely the beginning of dementia, her husband died a few months back.* She had been in long-term care. I know they had said last week "she's stopped reading," which I took as a bad sign, knowing her, and I guess late this week she stopped eating.


(* It seems very common in long-term couples that when one dies, the other dies shortly after. Though by contrast, my maternal grandmother outlived my maternal grandfather by some 20 years, and my paternal grandmother outlived my paternal grandfather by 8 years or so, so I don't know)

People had been visiting her as regularly as they could (she was at a place in Sherman so most commonly, it was the minister driving back and forth from his home on Fort Worth, who did).

On the one hand, I suppose it's a relief to know she's no longer suffering; on the other - this was one of the couples who welcomed me here when I moved down here in 1999. I knew them pretty well when they were in better health. They were both extremely nice and kind people. They had a lovely house and for a number of years - until their health started to decline - the Christmas party CWF had was at their house.

I dunno. It's just hard. So many of my good memories are now just that at this point: memories, things that can and will never happen again. I suppose that's the curse of getting older.

I try to hold out hope for things in the future - who knows, maybe someone will move to town who will become a good friend (or, dare I hope, even a romantic attachment?). Or things will improve even more at work, we'll be able to hire not one, but two full-time tenure-track replacements and no one will wind up stuck with unpaid overload. Or some new group or club - an evening knitting circle, a weekend Volksmarcher group, a real, local Sigma Xi chapter - something - will start up here and I will have more socialization opportunities that are not me running a meeting or doing some kind of work with the socialization kind of a fringe benefit.

I hold out hope, but little of that happens. I don't know. Sometimes I feel kind of stuck.

And I admit, this is also an old, old fear of mine, stemming from the fact that many of my friends are a good bit older than I am: that everyone I care about will die. Or they will move far away (and yes, I know: internet, but it's NOT THE SAME. As good as my Internet friends are it's not the same as a person nearby that you can go grab lunch with occasionally or something). Or they will get so caught up in their own lives (spouses and/or kids or grandkids) that they won't really have time for me.....and I'll be all alone. And yes, I know: I need to go out and try to make new friends but it's hard, and I feel awkward in a lot of situations, and a lot of the local socializing-opportunities don't work if you're not a mom with kids, or one of the "upper crust," or similar. And I don't know. I just find it hard any way because I've had enough rejection in my life, and enough early peer-training that "you're strange and we don't want you around us" to feel like either any mild and unintended thing that feels like a brush-off is a "we really don't want you around" (when the person may not have meant it*) or I look at the already-closed circle of the group and go "Nope, they won't want another one" and don't even try.


(*I have also had situations where someone was flirting with me and I didn't realize he was until HOURS later, and I may have been colder to him than I might have been if I'd known. I am not good at Relationship)

But I don't know. I was feeling kind of....down to begin with. (It's complicated, but: apprehension about a new semester. Worry about this new advanced stats class where I feel like I'm set up to fail completely in teaching it, but I still have to do it. Feeling not-listened to. Feeling like I'm the "task donkey" because everyone else seems to assume I have more "spoons" than everyone else for doing additional work. Feeling ignored....)

What I probably need to do now is do some piano practice and then find something fun and nice as background noise and either knit or work on the quilt in the frame (one of my low-level resolutions for 2019 is to finish the stalled projects - the quilt in the frame, and Celestarium, and the owl sweater, and the color-bar blanket, to really clear out the backlog of projects so I can start fun new things).

What I would want? To go somewhere where there are people who will pay attention to me and be nice to me. But it's cold and it's wet and I've spent too much money recently already and I don't really have anyone local I'd be comfortable calling up and going "hey do you want to come over for lunch" (and also my house isn't as clean as I'd want for having guests in)

On "sparking joy"

A LOT has been written* about the new Marie-Kondo-based Netflix series. I don't have Netflix, so I haven't seen it, but I'm kind of familiar with the concept behind it: some influencer (apparently in this case, Kondo herself) shows up at people's houses, and tells them how to live their life, what they need to change in order to be happy.

(*Heh. Maybe some of those pieces need to be Kondoed).

And, I don't know. I mean, I totally get getting a consultant in if your stuff has gotten away from you, or if you're having to clear out the house of a relative who owned far more stuff than you do (I am kind of dreading the eventual downsizing/estating of my parents' stuff. When I am up there at less-busy times, I do try to help do some sorting and disposal, but I promise you: the 30+ years of geology journals stored in the garage? If I can't quickly find some location willing to take them - increasingly unlikely in these days of everything available through JSTOR and similar - they're getting either recycled or landfilled.

And yeah, I admit I worry a little about my own stuff. If I knew I were gonna shuffle off this mortal coil in advance of the exact date (like, I knew I had months left), I'd do my best to donate my unused craft supplies to either a school or some kind of self-help program where they could be used. And I'd arrange for my books to be sold and the proceeds support libraries, or, if any of my books were desirable for the library collections, have it absorb them. And friends of mine, if they wanted one of my Ponies or similar to remember me by, they'd be welcome to take one.

But. I have no plans for that event happening for *at least* 30 years, so I want to hang on to my stuff and enjoy it.

And I do have issues with the one-size-fits-all-ness of minimalism. It may be a great choice for some people, but....just like a lot of other "minimal" choices, sometimes the practitioners of it can be a little...smug. Smug in the "It worked for me so you need to do it to!" mindset of some of the more-extreme weightloss diets.

And I suppose, in a way, minimalism or Marie-Kondo-ing or whatever is a form of a diet, just, a diet for stuff instead of a diet for food. IDK. And yeah, I can sort of see how stuff is like food: I know at times I "buy my feelings" (what are blindbag toys but a sop to my "Today was a lousy day and I'm sad" feelings) just as at times I want to "eat my feelings." And I suppose in a way the whole willpower involved in dieting is the same as the willpower involved in not buying stuff you don't absolutely need....just as weight loss efforts (calorie restriction and exercise) are similar to purging stuff.

But the other thing is: for a lot of us, we don't have a lot of sources of comfort in this life. And that's one of the problems I have with the "live in a clean white box, only own one book at a time*, don't have anything not necessary for your daily use" mindset - it denies the fact that for some of us, for example, having "useless stuff" - whether it's the little group of china rabbits your grandmother collected and passed down to you, or 5,000 books, or a fancy teapot you rarely use - may provide some level of comfort against the hardness and coldness of the outside world. (And yes, I guess in Kondo-style, these things would be OK to keep, provided you cold prove they brought you enough "joy").

(*Yes, this is an exaggeration)

But as I've said before - and I know many others have written about - minimalism, where you only own what you need *in the immediate time* is a privileged position. If you ever lived in a position where it would be hard to afford, I don't know, twine or aluminum foil, or parts to repair something, you tend to be more prone to keep stuff. My parents are kids of WWII (rationing) and also my mom grew up in a family with not-much-money, and my dad grew up in a household where sometimes employment was shaky, and then, once he got older, his parents owned some cottages where there were ALWAYS repairs going on. So having jars of random nails and screws was a thing when I was growing up. And my mom STILL saves clean aluminum foil (like, what is put over the top of something and doesn't get the food on it) to reuse.

And in some ways - that's probably a more environmentally-friendly way of doing it.

And I also admit: living in a town where finding what I need is at times challenging, I often do hang on to stuff because I know it might be hard to buy another one without either a drive to Sherman or hunting around online (and waiting for it to arrive). I remember when I first moved here, you couldn't even get some pretty basic ingredients (e.g., hoisin sauce) locally, and you always had to plan "what might I possibly need in the next month*" when planning a trip to Sherman.

(*My first year here, prepping three classes from scratch and trying to get my dissertation published, I only got to Sherman once every month to six weeks. I wonder now how I managed to do all that work but I was nearly 20 years younger than I am now)

And so I do come from a background where you do stuff like have bits of twine in a drawer, or you have some extra canned goods ahead on the shelf (and probably more than you'd need for a day-or-two inability to get out on the roads during adverse weather)

But to me - and this may be, as I've said else where - "my stuff" - but a lot of the Marie Kondo type stuff feels to me like it has an element of, if not bullying, hectoring - the "Man, how do you LIVE this way?" directed at the person who has multiple junk drawers or seems slightly disorganized or seems to have "more" of a particular item than what the commenter thinks is quite cricket - and there's the unspoken "It worked for me so you should do it, too."

Most of the reactions I've seen are to Kondo's pressure for people to divest themselves of books. And yeah, I get that - people have FEELINGS about books. And for most book lovers, the idea of getting rid of books you've already read - especially if you liked them - feels like anathema. And so a lot of electrons have been spilled over this - Jaquandor has a post on it, where he takes the neutral stance that he doesn't particularly care what you do with your books. And suggesting that "sparks joy" is a pretty undefinable concept....

and it occurs to me, some of my revulsion with the whole Marie Kondo mindset may be tied to that phrase, and related to my own perfectionism. Because, what IS "sparks joy"? What is "joy"?  I may be expecting too much of "joy." Because I can look at my bookshelves and feel a certain contentment ("I have lots of interesting books") or maybe even something like hope ("Yes, someday I will have the time and brainspace to read Proust, or to read "Gödel, Escher, Bach")

But that's not *joy,* not as how I would define it. Maybe I expect too much? Maybe it's like my definition of "friendship" - I consider someone an 'acquaintance' unless they're someone I feel like I could count on to drive me to the hospital late at night if I needed to go to the ER, or who would help me move house, or who would hold my hair back when I had food poisoning and was throwing up...

But what struck me was the article Kelly linked to - from the Guardian, which is usually (in my mind) the Eeyore of newspapers (but sometimes, it's kind of entertaining to listen to Eeyore, if you don't let his attitude drag you down). Anyway, the author of the piece takes on the Kondo mindset about books (and allegedly, at one point, she had advocated tearing out the pages of books that you liked, and throwing the rest away, and honestly? Loose pages make a lot more mess than nicely bound-up-into-books pages - my work-office attests to this. 

But anyway, one pull quote

"We live in a frantic, goal-obsessed, myopic time. Everything undertaken has to have a purpose, outcome or a destination, or it’s invalid."

THIS, as the cool kids used to say (and still might, I don't know). That's one of my biggest things - fearing I'm "wasting the time I was given" when I do stuff that doesn't have a set purpose. Looking at the socks I am knitting and telling myself "You have too many pairs already and you don't wear them that much since you usually wear dresses with tights, why are you working on this" and the whole goal-obsessed thing, that gets SO MUCH in the way sometimes of just simple happiness. Of just doing stuff because it makes you happy.

Because for me "goal-obsessed" means stuff like the "You Should Be Writing" comment that one of the academic twitter feeds I follow posts (jokingly, I think) periodically. Or my knowledge that there's always something MORE work-related that I could be doing - more prep-work, more reading of background or current papers, more thinking about research - it could occupy my life 24/7. And while I like my work and all.....I don't know. I think of something I saw on one of the many re-runs of "The Incredible Dr. Pol" I watched over break, one of the dairy farmers he regularly visited saying "This isn't really a job, it's a lifestyle" and I know from talking to people who raise beef cattle that dairying is HARD (which is why they do beef cattle: they need less constant care) and it's almost impossible to take a vacation and your work is your life is your work. And I can't live like that. (And of course, me being me, it makes me wonder: Am I doing this wrong? Do I not love my work enough if I have to take time off from it? Should I have picked a different vocation?)

But yeah - maybe the thing about the "does this 'spark joy'" that annoys me, other than the slipperiness and ambiguity of "what does that even MEAN" is the idea that I kind of feel like it's okay to have stuff that doesn't necessarily serve a purpose - the things that a friend of mine once derided as "dustcatchers," for example - the little china animals, or my Pony collection, or yes, more books. 


Friday, January 11, 2019

today I learned

So my mom called me this afternoon. (Long story, but: she doesn't use the internet, my dad, with his bad back and knees hasn't gone down to the computer for weeks). They needed more of the medical-grade honey dressing that he's using on a small wound.

Anyway: the last set of this they had, my sister-in-law ordered off of Amazon over Thanksgiving break. But, as my mom said: "I don't want to bother her with it right now what with her not getting paid"

(So yeah: my sister-in-law, who works for the feds, is going to work and hoping the shutdown ends soon so she gets a paycheck. They will be OK; my dad has already told them that he will help them with bills if they need it and I think they have some savings. But yeah, the whole thing is a mess).

And yeah, yeah, I get it. It's like $60 and even though my mom is paying back for it, maybe adding $60 on their credit card right now isn't so great but....yeah. I'm trying not to be a little cranky about this but there are two of them and just one of me. (And I admit, over Thanksgiving, the little things *they* did around the house seemed to generate a lot more thanks and praise than the little things *I* did. Difference between sons and daughters, maybe? IDK.)

Anyway. I got it ordered okay (and yes, it's not a big effort on me, except she did call when I was in the middle of doing the workout I didn't get up to do this morning. (Another long story but: my bad shoulder has been griping me - probably arthritis, so I do need to keep up with the workouts - and I didn't sleep well last night, so I slept in and decided to do the workout this afternoon*)


(*And one good thing I realized: if I move my laptop to right next where the cross-country ski machine is, I can hear Pandora while I work out, meaning I am untethered from the horrors of listening to radio news - because the choices of radio I have are news, talk, country music, or current pop, and none of those make me want to ski to nowhere for 40-50 minutes)

And also, I admit these days when my parents call at an "odd" time, my heart sinks at first until I learn what the phone call is about....it was a Thursday afternoon when I found out about my dad being in the hospital, for example.

I'm trying not to be petty about this but it does seem often the little things I do (not just in my family) are kind of taken for granted, and things other people do get roundly praised. And also lots of people seem to expect I'll cheerfully do extra stuff. And yeah, yeah, I will....but sometimes I do feel a little taken for granted. (I suspect it's a curse of being a responsible person. When you're someone who doesn't need to be asked eight times to do something, you get asked to do more. And if you can do that thing correctly without screwing it up, you've just bought yourself a ticket for more stuff. And yeah, yeah, it's good to be useful and also "God help me but I cannot do otherwise," but I admit sometimes when I do something and nobody seems to notice, but someone else does a thing of equal size and difficulty, and they get lots of praise....well, I admit, I notice. Petty of me, but I notice.)

something I realized

Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands: I needed a couple of things from Ulta, I wanted to make a Target run, I wanted to go to the natural-foods store. The weather today was supposed to be (and is) crummy, and Saturday is also supposed to be cold, so I decided to go on a Thursday.

Guys. There is something almost-decadent and wonderful about going shopping on an ordinary (i.e., non-holiday - so people are neither off work nor are rushing around to prep for some future holiday) weekday midday.

There was NO ONE around. Parking was simple. The clerks in the stores were more relaxed and happy, I presume because they weren't peopled-out and hadn't had to deal with the "I want to speak with a manager [over some petty inconvenience that doesn't deserve such]" brigade.

I took a lot of time at Target because there were a number of things I needed, and some (like unscented tealights and the stickum that holds throw rugs in place) were a little tricky to find, and also I kept thinking of things not on my list but that I could use and that would be convenient to get then - a fresh package of athletic socks for working out (somehow, I seem to keep losing these, and usually wind up using a mismatched pair because that's all I can locate). And some school supplies for the coming semester. And all that.

And I took some time at the other places, just looking, because I rarely have the luxury of doing that - my usual Saturday runs are more "I'm nearly out of powder, so I need to just grab that and scram" and most of my time in the Ulta is spent waiting on line to check out.

(I didn't go downtown, though I did toy with the idea of going to the little yarn shop. Good thing I did not because there was apparently a kerfuffle where a "suspicious envelope" was mailed to some Representative's office in or near the courthouse there, and traffic got snarled, and they may even have tried to chivvy some people out of the shops out of extreme concern for their safety)

I was able to get everything I needed, pretty much (I couldn't find the right size furnace filter at Target - it takes an odd size, 12 x 20 - but I know I have a spare one at home).

Perhaps one of the future marks of luxury is being able to do things like avoid the worst of crowds? I once opined that the future mark of luxury, instead of having the newest fanciest new-fangled cell phone* was to be someone who didn't *need* one because they are not someone at the beck and call of others.

(*I am old enough to remember the days of "Trading Places" and similar movies, where the big, old late-80s brick-type cell phones or car phones were the absolute hallmark that This Guy Is Very Rich and Very Important)

And yeah, I stand by that. I have heard too many stories of people in the Hell Economy of some forms of retail where they would get called in the morning if they were "needed" (and were going to get paid) that day. Or, some or the worse sorts of for-profit online colleges where supposedly the "faculty" are supposed to be reachable 24/7.

It used to be being "on call" was for people like general practitioners or obstetricians. And even then, there were times when they weren't "on call," at least in practices where there was more than one doctor. (And also, I guess, people like firefighters, but then again: there are times they are "off call" and cannot be called and someone else would cover for them).

I make a point to my students that "if you e-mail me after about 4 pm on a day, I will respond the next morning, usually before 8 am." I think that's fine, and I think it's fair to set boundaries about when you can be reached.

(Something I read elsewhere: "The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the people who felt entitled to your constant time or attention before" and I think that's true)

I also tell people I need 24 hours lead-time on things. (Well, there are a very situations where it'd be enough of an emergency that I'd be okay with dropping everything for a meeting on shorter notice, but those situations are so rare I don't bring them up, because I don't want people thinking their minor inconvenience is actually a major emergency, and WHY DOESN'T SHE SAY SHE CAN COME TO THE MEETING I CALLED IN THE NEXT HOUR?)

But yeah. I think the future hallmark of "luxury" will be "my time is more or less my own, and other people cannot call me up and tell me 'you have to be in a particular place two hours from now to deal with  my problem'"

And that includes things like - being able to set your own schedule (I have a little leeway on my teaching schedule. I usually go along to get along with what's proposed, but I'd give a hard no to being asked to teach a 8 pm to 10 pm lab, for example). And not having to dance like a puppet when someone else has a problem they could solve themselves, but they want you to do it. And being able to go home for meals, at least some of the time. (And of course that also includes the luxury of living close to your workplace. There are a few things about my house that are not ideal - not enough storage space - and about the neighborhood I'm in that aren't ideal, but being 5 minutes from campus IS pretty ideal).

And also stuff like being able to run errands when not-everybody-else is. Man, that's nice. I forgot how nice that was. If I could get over  my feeling of "obligation" about being on campus during "business hours" every week day, I'd seriously consider taking the occasional Tuesday afternoon (I get out of class at 12:15) and running my Sherman errands THEN, and maybe coming in a couple hours on Saturdays to make up. No one would say *anything* to me if I did that, but still, I feel the sense of obligation to be here.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

This and that

A couple more finished items:

soccer mitts 2

This is the second pair of Soccer Mitts from Erica Lueder's pattern.

I know I said the other day that I didn't recommend that unicorn pattern because of errors. Well, this is a FREE pattern, and I DO recommend it. It's a very nice pattern: easy to follow, simple, works up well, and the finished mitts are aesthetically pleasing to me in their proportions. I knit one pair of these for the AAUW gift exchange (they were well-received) and this pair for myself; I would totally use it again to knit a simple pair of mitts for a friend or if I wanted another pair like that for myself.





They are a *little* big on me but I knit these on 2s. I would use 1s for another pair (that is what I used for the AAUW gift mitts). I have fairly small wrists and my hands are about 7 1/2" around.

The pattern says you can get it out of one 50 g ball of sockyarn if you don't care about matching the stripe pattern. I used a 100 g ball (one of the String Theory colorworks ones) and did try really hard to match the stripes.

I also finished the Honey Cowl. I had forgotten to do the "four rows stockinette" at the beginning of this (so I didn't at the end) but I like it just as well without:

honey cowl

The yarn is a Life in the Long Grass dk weight in the colorway called "Nestle"

And here it is on:
I knitted it a *tiny* bit bigger (130 sts rather than 120; any multiple of 2 should work, I think) because I was concerned about getting it over my head. I'm pretty happy with it. (Even though right today it's not really cold enough to need it.)



I also opened the accumulated "crates" (a Sanrio, two Gachapon, and a Doki Doki). And here are my favorite things from them:



recent crate favorites


The little pig (really: a boar) is from the Doki Doki crate. This coming lunar year is the year of the boar in the Chinese horoscope (which I guess some other Asian countries use) and so they sent a little boar stuffie (and also, there was a boar-shaped dish sponge in the crate). I haven't named him yet; I can't come up with one I like.

The Hello Kitty pillow is the flat snowman pillow in the Sanrio loot crate that I talked about. She is nice to hug but also makes a good sofa pillow as well.

The last item is a "big headed" Daisy Duck from the Gachapon crate. Hands down, this is the favorite thing I've gotten out of these crates so far - so cute. And it was funny: you get the head, and then you open it up and all the other "parts" (the body, the beak, the tail, the bow, and a little "lock of hair" shaped piece that goes on the back of her head) were inside, and you put her together. And I'm happy I got Daisy - she's probably my favorite character design of the "big 5" (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy) characters from Disney.

In a few minutes I'm heading out to Sherman - I need a few things from the Ulta and I also just want a day out for self-care related things today. (Tomorrow I will go back and work on the stats stuff more, and maybe even put in a couple hours on it Saturday. And Monday, classes start). I also need to pick up my house a little (this afternoon, after I get home) and wash sheets and towels.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

"The big unicorn"

This is the biggest single thing I made over break - really, one of the bigger things I've made that's not a sweater.

It's from the Midsummer Magic Unicorn pattern, which I got free when it was being offered for free, but now is a paid pattern. IF the designer hasn't changed up the pattern from the free version, I DON'T recommend it - the pattern for the ears is missing (I was able to come up with an ear pattern, but if you're paying almost $8 for a pattern, it shouldn't be missing that) and the butt part seems to truncate too abruptly, so I knitted a few more rows and worked in some decreases to make it look more "right." (Even at that, the body looks a tiny bit short in the front-to-back direction to me)

Sugarplum side

All that said, I'm happy with how she came out. I used Lion Brand "Hometown" - Houston cream for the body, and Billings Chocolate for the feet, and Honolulu Pink for the nose. (I actually ran short on the chocolate color and had to sub in a similar-colored Bernat bulky - turns out Michael's doesn't sell this one, or at least the one near my parents doesn't).

And yeah, this is a BIG unicorn; she takes up most of my armchair when she sits in it. (This is an armchair that fits me comfortably):

giving an example of how big Sugarplum is

Her name is Sugarplum. I wanted some kind of Christmassy name because I finished her on Dec. 24, and Holly didn't seem quite right, nor did Snowflake.

I wound up having to tie her legs to the handles of my duffel bag (the carry on) to take her back; she was too big to fit in either that or my suitcase and there was no way I was consigning her to the vagaries of the US Post Office. (I did send a box of books and some of my turtlenecks, so I had room for other stuff, but all those things would have been easily replaceable - and the box came intact today, so I don't have to worry about that)

The original one had lockwasher eyes, but (a) I didn't have any that big and (b) they're not as interesting and expressive anyway, so I used the standard "appliqued felt bits to look like My Little Pony eyes" to make her face. (Her only other feature is a couple folds stitched in the muzzle to look like nostrils; I didn't want to try to put a mouth on)

sugarplum face

And maybe here's a better view of just how big she is, by comparison with me:

You can also see one of the Christmas presents I received in that photo - a berry-colored nightshirt (I came home after working for a few hours today and did the workout I couldn't make myself do this morning - I slept funny on one shoulder and it was bothering me - and then washed my hair and got into pajamas)

Tuesday midday things

* I opened a couple of the packages (and my cards) last night:

- Thank you for the Sunshine Family booklet! A few came with the set I bought but not that one, and that's one I kind of remember having as a kid, because I remember my mom helping me make a baby bed out of a strawberry basket like the booklet directs.

- And I got two Moominous (!) presents (photos to come later, maybe, when I have a bit more time).

First, from a friend in the UK, a bag and book of two short stories that Oxfam did as a fundraising thing (centered around the story about the Invisible Girl).

Second, from a friend in California, a little "rotary candle holder" (hard to explain but: this is that thing, you often see them at Christmas, where there is a little horizontal "windmill" of sorts mounted on a pivot over a candle, and the heat from the candle makes it turn) This one has Moomin characters (I have one for Christmas with angels and a decal of the Holy Family behind where the candle goes). But the Moomin one I could have out all winter, and I think I will set it up with my other candles.

And another friend - in Ohio- sent me the promised signed-to-me Louise Penny novel and it delights me to have a book she signed (she has become one of my favorite authors and is perhaps my favorite living author).

I also opened the Sanrio crate. Even though these are spendier than the Doki Doki crate, they have quality items. This one had a very sweet Hello-Kitty-as-a-snowman pillow (about the size of my Clawhauser) that amusingly came packed in a vacuum sealed bag, so it was all flat when I took it out (and I was like "What on earth is this?") but it puffed back up when the bag was opened. And a really nice mug, with a pleasing shape and weight to it (perfect for hot cocoa, I think). And a pair of cute socks. And a scarf with Little Twin Stars on it, though I'm not sure....it might be a little juvenile for me to wear and also I have many nicer scarves I've knit....so I may see if I can find someone who loves Little Twin Stars and pass it along to them.

I also opened my "thank you" parcel from LeekFish - I didn't expect this at all, but she did it because I had sent her a small gift off her Amazon wishlist. A couple of nice big prints, one of Pinkie Pie (I think it is) with a strawberry soda, and a really super cute one (my favorite of the three) of Dr. Whooves, and one of Vaporeon (one of the water pokemon). And a Cutie Mark Crusaders sticker. And a couple of buttons....

I still have the Doki Doki crate and the Gachapon crates to open, that's for this evening.

* Unfortunately, cocoa from my nice new mug may be either a rare, or a not-until-later thing; I am once again trying to reduce (as I said on Twitter: it seems unfair - eat reasonably and exercise for 11 1/2 months, take 15 days off of watching your diet, and bam, you're five pounds heavier than last year).

I'm trying to do the simplest diet for me: basically - eat lots of vegetables, because they are high in nutrients I need and low in calories, and eat smaller amounts of fruit, lean meat, cheese, eggs, and grains. And largely cut out sugary things. But I always go overboard the first day or two with the EAT ALL THE CABBAGE! sort of things and this morning my digestion kinda went "nuh-uh, we're not having any of that" so lunch today was a small carton of yogurt and a little fruit and (I confess) a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie (because I didn't eat all that MUCH fruit and was afraid of being *starving* before dinnertime).

(And no: I can't really do non-sugar sweeteners; all the synthetic ones make me ill in some specific way, and stevia is only good on a limited subset of things (mostly fruit or other, strongly-flavored things, and cocoa made with stevia is kind of nasty. So it's easier for me to just go *almost* cold turkey on sweets and do things like sub a serving of fruit in the place of "dessert" or have a cup of herbal tea to finish off dinner)

One thing I do find: seltzer water (the kind that is lightly flavored but has no added sweetener) is kind of a boon when you're trying to reduce; it's not "just plain water" but it doesn't seem to alter anything in terms of what you're taking in. Right now Bubly cherry flavor is the one I'm drinking.

* Midday today was spent delivering Meals on Wheels. The woman I used to lead Youth Group with was my partner on it, so I knew her, and she drove, being more familiar than I am with the south side of town (where most of our people lived). We delivered to seven people - a few just came to the door, took it, and thanked us. A couple asked us in for a minute to talk and I know people get lonely, so we did. (It's not like that Subaru ad, where the person delivering has time to sit down and play dominoes with the person they're delivering to, and you take to different people pretty much every time, so there's not that "relationship" there. Maybe in some localities it's more like the Subaru commercial, I don't know).

One person was VERY slow getting to the door - we waited like six or seven minutes, and I was on the point of calling the RSVP service (the group that runs Meals on Wheels here) because we were told if someone didn't answer the door, they needed to know. (I presume they call the EMTs or whoever). I was nervous because the last time I did this, the person I worked with told me about HER first time delivering - she couldn't get someone to come to the door, and when she peeked in a window, she saw him lying on the floor. (I *think* the end of the story was happier than it might have been, IIRC - he was a diabetic who had passed out from lack of glucose, and the EMTs were able to revive him when they got there). But still, it would give a person a turn to have to deal with that.

And yeah, I suppose one important service Meals on Wheels serves for people who are really isolated: it's a once-almost-every-day welfare check on people who might have no one looking in on them. (Then again: two of the people we visited had home-health people in either doing a blood-draw or checking their vitals, something like that. Home health seems to be a great thing; I know of people who have been able to stay in their homes pretty much ONLY because of home health visits and I suspect it's cheaper for someone to live in their home, but have a nurse or something come once every couple days, than for them to go to a nursing home, and for most people, it's probably a lot nicer, too)

Also, even though people love to malign the Internet these days, I can also see how it could be an anti-isolation device for people: I know people who Skype regularly with their kids or grandkids, or who have a whole network of people they "talk" with regularly. And hopefully in the future, "virtual visiting" or "virtual tourism" will get even better and more immersive. I think it would be wonderful, for example, to be able to take a virtual-reality type tour of places I'd like to see, but don't have the time/money/energy to go to: Hadrian's Wall, or scuba diving in a coral reef, or riding a burro to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (I am actually probably too heavy for that; I remember years ago I think they said there was a 200 pound limit for you plus all your gear, and kitted out for a day in the Canyon, I'd weigh more than that).

And not even for older people who might be confined to their house: I cherish that I have a small group of what I call "mutuals" on Twitter (people I follow that follow me back) that I can communicate with - I've gotten advice from them in the past, or traded jokes, or commiserated, or just shot the bull when I'm bored. Being a slightly-weird person with slightly-weird interests and a weird schedule who lives in what really is a small town, sometimes socializing is hard, and I often feel like have more of a "tribe" among my "Invisible Internet Friends" than I do among the real people I interact with daily....


* This was linked on ITFF, and I'm leaving it here, largely for myself (when I have time and want some "slow TV" - It's the Great Knit Off, from Denmark. (It has English subtitles).

Man, we need a channel that does stuff like this in the States. I doubt we'll get it, though:





Monday, January 07, 2019

Plethora of packages


reference, for those unfamiliar (NB: That movie may not have....aged very well.)

 I picked up my accumulated mail this morning. There were, as I expected, a couple of bills needing urgently to be paid, and lots and lots of junk mail and some magazines I will need to make time to read. And a number of boxes. You might say, a plethora of boxes:


plethora of packages

Some of that is stuff I paid for myself (two Gacha Gacha crates - December's didn't come before I left town, and January's Doki Doki crate, and the quarterly Sanrio loot crate) but a couple of the things are gifts (One I know: a friend from Ravelry was going to a Louise Penny reading-and-book-signing and offered to get a copy of her newest book signed for me).

But now I have a dilemma....do I open them all up at once, and have a brief but glorious moment of Second Christmas, or do I save them and open them slowly over the next week, and try to spread it out? (I admit, I'm leaning towards doing "Second Christmas" after dinner tonight....)

Also, two other things: Seems I have new neighbors in the rental house to the south. I am hopeful as they have a birdbath out and two fancy urn-like planters, and rocking chairs on the porch. But I also just heard a VERY loud boom car and dear God, I hope that's not them, or if it is, that they always come home like that early in the day.

And another - last night, I woke up to the sound of something that sounded....weirdly like gulping. And I froze, my head up a few inches off the pillow....was the furnace going to explode? Was a pipe somewhere getting ready to burst?

Then I heard an earsplittingly-loud VROOOOOOM and I realized it was some dude revving a very, very loud motorcycle* at 2 am. Honestly, people, can we not: can we agree to not be excessively loud in residential areas between, say 10 pm and 8 am? That's the one thing I really loathe about in-town living; all the late-night random noise. It's worse when it's warmer out like it is now; it seems unseasonably-warm winter weather brings out something in people where they want to make whatever motors or audio equipment they have AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE and then drive around with it blaring.

(*Yes, I know, motorcycles have to have a certain level of loudness because motorists tend not to pay attention to them, but this was obnoxiously loud, even given that it was late at night and quiet otherwise.)