Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Real-time post

Well, the biggest thing I noticed on break was that my GI trouble cleared up 100% upon my getting up here. I'm hoping that it is a matter of time and maybe getting away from some of the stress I was dealing with....I hope it's not that there's something wrong with the water down where I live or that there's something I've become VERY allergic to in either my house or workplace. (The good news is, even if it IS something allergic, there's nothing "wrong" with any of the digestive organs....)

I've kept busy. I finished a pair of simple socks (made of some very old Opal....well, old in yarn-world terms, I've had it for maybe about a dozen years) in a bee-stripe pattern. And I finally finished Antarktis.

I also made a couple of "critters." One very tiny - from the Darby the Dragon pattern on Ravelry and one quite huge (a whale shark, which worked up to be about 20" long, and after Queen Chrysalis is the biggest crocheted stuffie I have made). The dragon wound up being named Strawberry - she was very obviously a GIRL dragon when she got done (from the colors). I was a bit puzzled by the whale shark as I don't even know for sure what ocean they are native to....but then when I got him done, I decided on Darwin, because I watched a lot of "The Amazing World of Gumball" while working on him, and Darwin is the name of a character on there (A goldfish that grew legs. It's kind of weird. It's kind of a more-family-friendly and less-topical copy of The Simpsons, many of the characters are similar, and yet it's cute and funny at times, so....)

The whale shark is surprisingly cuddly and would make a good sofa cushion.

I also made a dress. I had been hoping to find the old pattern for a button-front princess line dress I made many years ago, but I couldn't locate it, so I bought a new pattern that is slightly similar (but not button front) and used some of one of those quilting batiks (a solid color - a dark purple) for it.

I go back next Monday. I GUESS I'm ready though I'm not ready for the heat of summer and for juggling all my responsibilities again. It is kind of nice to have no meetings and not have to get up early to work out because there will be time later in the day to do it.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

US Highway 2

Memories of my childhood.

US Route 2 was the route we always took from when we crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula to my grandmother's house. Back in those days I had no idea it was part of a route that essentially connected the East Coast with the West, albeit with a gap.

I also didn't know that it was based on old (early 20th century) "auto trails" (and I have also been on M-12) and before that, parts of it were trails used by Native people.

It's a really beautiful drive. For parts of it you are running alongside of Lake Michigan (near Brevort). There are some high bridges - I remember Cut River Bridge being kind of scary, especially on windy days.

At one time I knew all the towns from St. Ignace to Rapid River in order - I knew about how much farther it was by what town we had most recently passed - but that knowledge has mostly faded. (I still recognize the names, Naubinway and Seney and Manistique and Garden - but I don't remember the relationships between where they are any more.)

There was a place we very frequently stopped for a meal at near St. Ignace. I THINK it was called Miller's Crossing or something like that? My parents would get pasties, which are classic UP food, but I always insisted on a grilled cheese (and my brother on a hamburger) because we didn't like pasties when we were kids (I think my brother still does not). Much later, after my parents had moved to Illinois and we would go up the "opposite" way (through Wisconsin), we would stop at a place called Schloegel's (which still exists!) By then, I was old enough to appreciate pasties and so I often got one - or if we were going through at breakfast, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.

(Oh, crikey. They sell 906 stickers for your car in their gift shop. 906 was the area code for most (all?) of the UP so it's nostalgic to me.)

But I remember the trip best during my grandmother's life, when we lived in Ohio and made the long, long trek up, first on the Ohio Turnpike (super boring, and you better hope you didn't get hungry or need a restroom), then on, I think it was 94? Or 75? Through the lower peninsula. Sometimes we swung over to Ann Arbor or Traverse City to see some of my dad's relatives (many years we stayed overnight in Traverse City). And then across the Mackinac Bridge, into the Upper Peninsula....and a couple more hours (? Maybe it was less than that but it seemed like a couple hours) to my grandmother's house.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Mystery Spot. This was one of those tourist-trap type places (you can see a little bit of it, along with the unmistakable sign, here.) We never went; I think my parents were way too skeptical and unwilling to part with their money but I admit it was pretty intriguing to kids. (My dad said, "they probably have some of those forced-perspective rooms where big stuff looks small and small stuff looks big, and one of those set ups where it appears water runs up hill" and he was probably right....but I still admit a tiny part of me wanted to have seen it.)

(Heh. Now having seen Gravity Falls, I realize that Mystery Spot was essentially a real-world Mystery Shack. And now, I think, if I were traveling myself in the UP as an adult? I'd consider stopping off there and maybe even buying a t-shirt, just for kicks and grins. Except that it's almost $10 to get in, not including minigolf or ziplining....)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A smiling song

I knew this one from a Sammy Davis, Jr. boxset I had, and also it was used (at least the chorus was) at the very end of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (when the Toons get their happy ending, after all)

So I admit, when I heard about Pinkie Pie singing a song called "Smile, Smile, Smile," I pictured it as being like this:

It actually took me a while to warm up to the more folky/pop style of Pinkie's song. But I did; I like it now:

And also, her song is more about being a friend to others and trying to cheer them up, than just exhorting them to smile.

She can also sing it in French (and despite my allegedly speaking French, I get something like less than half of this, I suppose it's the music and the slight accent)

There's also a very-imitative-of-old-Mickey-Mouse (though with "Foxy" and "Roxy") cartoon of Smile, Darn Ya, Smile:

Monday, May 16, 2016

some Pony things

* A while back, I thought of that "Bitter Apple" stuff (I think it's really called Bitrex) that's sold to paint on your nails if you bite them, to discourage nail-biting.

And then I immediately thought: Bitter Apple is the one relative none of the Apple Family will talk about, heh. (And now I kind of wish I were a better artist. I would draw him - yeah, I think Bitter Apple would be a him, a skinny older pony with a crumpled-up disapproving face)

* And every time I hear Ponca City referenced on the weather, I think of Pinkie Pie, because some of the fandom refers to her as Ponk or Ponka. (I have never BEEN to Ponca City, I don't know what it's like. I suppose it's small).

* I keep kind of thinking it would be fun, after I make the G4-ized Minty, to make a G4-ized Surprise: a white pony with curly yellow hair. (Surprise was apparently the original idea for Pinkie Pie, before she got converted to an Earth Pony). I would do the curls for her hair and mane as those spiral-curls, like how people used to make "worms" for bookmarks. (I think other crocheters will know what I mean).

* I have a Baby Surprise of the original G1 set: she was the first baby pony I bought. I don't know a whole lot about the G1 personalities as I didn't watch the cartoon when it was out or pay attention to the ponies but I've picked up a little from the various fan sites. (For example: Posey was kind of a gentle, maternal pony who often looked after the baby ponies. She's also the color-palette design for Fluttershy - though Posey is an Earth Pony).

Also, I am not sure of the origin of the "identical to the adult version" babies - there's a Baby Glory and a Baby Surprise and a Baby Gusty and probably a few others. And I wonder, how did they explain their origin? Storks? Magic reflecting pools? I suppose it was somewhere in the old comics/books/tv show. But I'm guessing it wasn't a situation of "Surprise actually gave birth to Babyt Surprise" because of (a) the dearth of male ponies (And in a show for children, yes, you'd have to have a "husband" for each of the ponies, and weddings, and all*)

(*reminds me of something my old pop-eco prof talked about, how when he was a boy he decided he wanted to raise chickens. He told his dad he wanted money for a dozen hens and a dozen roosters. "Why a dozen roosters, son?" "The hens each need a husband!" I think he said that was also when he got the birds-and-bees talk....)

* I got the Cheese Sandwich and Sugar Belle ponies I ordered off that Canadian shop site quite a while back. It turns out they apparently...aren't official MLP merchandise. No My Little Pony logos, no "licensed by" hangtags. Yeah, I feel a little bit bad about that....I have bootleg ponies. (Then again, arguably, the ones I've made myself are "bootlegs" - except no money was exchanged in their creation.)

That said: (a) these are ponies that none of the "official" channels seem to have wanted to make and (b) the Minky they are made of is actually NICER than the Minky that the "official" Aurora ponies are made of - very soft. So I don't know. Like I said, I feel a little bad Hasbro didn't get their cut, because it's the merchandise that keeps the show going - but then again, I have a hundred or so blindbags, and several of the Aurora plushies, and even all six of the Equestria Girls chibis. Yes, I decided that I "needed" all of them and slowly bought them one at a time as the local Wal-Mart had them. The Applejack one is particularly nice - and she has a hat! (Too many of the Applejack toys render her hatless). The Rainbow Dash one is the least cute, IMHO - she is just in athletic shorts and a top, and although I guess RD would not be the skirt type, they do show her in one of the movies as wearing like bike shorts under a v. short skirt.

The chibi dolls are SO much cuter than the 12" Equestria Girls dolls, which are fundamentally Barbie-like: proportionally too slim, uninteresting faces that don't look like the cartoon, sort of hot-mess clothing designed to appeal to six year olds.

(And yeah, if they made chibi versions of, say, Maud Pie or the Cutie Mark Crusaders, I'd probably buy those too)

Friday, May 13, 2016

a few posts

I'm gonna try to have a few "embargoed" posts while I'm visiting family, as I think of things to say over the next few days. (And internet connection at home willing.....)

It's weird, though, to be taking a break now after not really having taken one since Christmas. I took a couple days off on Spring Break but it was just "in town" more or less (and anyway, I still wasn't feeling 100% at that point). It's different making a big break where you essentially lay down your responsibilities and work and at church for a while and have to say "No, I can't do that because I will be Visiting Family."

But more and more, I think visiting family is important for me. My dad's trip to the ER in January really brought that home, even though it had an ultimately good outcome (and after a talk with his doctor, he was able to drop one of the medications that probably was involved in the interaction). But also, seeing my friend at church - who is about 10 years older than my parents - go through so much and having two separate instances where we all feared she wasn't gonna make it - that brought it home to me too that I want to spend time with the people I care about as often as I can.

(Also seeing other people dealing with issues with nursing home staff not doing what they are supposed to be doing....and if it ever came to it? I would either quit my job and move back up there to care for my parents, or I would send money (as much as I could) to pay for a home-worker to come in, or I would move them down here and set them up in a house (probably a rental, as I doubt I could afford to buy another house) near me and just watch over them. But I hope it doesn't come to that; it didn't really for either my grandma or my Aunt Chickie so I'm hoping my parents remain strong and capable until that last day....)

But yeah. Getting older stinks but seeing people you love a lot get older stinks even worse.

And I don't even have all that much family LEFT - my grandparents are long gone, my mom is the only sibling left on her side (she was very much a caboose-baby, and apparently a "surprise" caboose baby at that). I have two uncles and their families but my cousins are spread out all over the country - shoot, all over the world (I have one cousin who lives in Hong Kong, now). And we were never all THAT close once we reached adulthood; our lives took different trajectories. And my brother and his family live far from me but someday I do want to take an extended trip to see them - it will require saving up as they have a small house so I think it would be only fair to stay in a hotel for that time.

(I also wish I had more, what they sometimes call, "Honorary Family" - this is also another beautiful concept floated in MLP:FiM, both that all of the Mane Six are "honorary" Apples, and also that Pinkie and Applejack may be distant cousins or may not but does it really matter? They are close like family and that's what's important. There are still a few friends of my family around that would count but most of them are back in Ohio, and many of them are getting up in years....I have not pushed to form friendships while out on my own the way I probably SHOULD have.)

So I've got my patterns and my yarn and some books and plans to help my mom with any heavy yardwork that needs to be done or any household things that require kneeling down to fix (so my dad can't do them) and hopefully maybe do a little shopping - my dress shoes are about worn out and I ruined a pair of jeans fixing my roof and I really probably need another summer skirt or two....

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Verily, it's Cheerilee....

It was a push and I wondered if I would get her done before I need to leave town this afternoon, but I managed it:

Cheerilee face

This is Cheerilee, from the Nerdy Knitter pattern. One of my Ravelry friends bought it for me for my birthday LAST year, and it took me this long to get to her.

I used a hook one size smaller than recommended so she came out (probably) a bit smaller, I had to freehand the eyes and the "cutie mark" rather than using the provided patterns.

And oh, the cutie mark. This was one of the more annoying ones to make:

cutie mark

Three little flowers, with centers and with individual petals needing to be sewn down. (Yes, I know, I could glue them, but glue makes the felt stiff and also sometimes it tends to let loose later on. I prefer to sew). The "cartoon" Cheerilee's flowers have little smiling faces but I didn't feel like making faces on these little flowers.

(Cheerilee is one of those ponies that has been around for multiple generations. I know she was in G3 - I believe she was Scootaloo's older sister there, though that relationship has not been kept for G4. Also, in the comic series at least, Cheerilee has a twin sister named Cherry Blossom)

The finished Cheerilee has much more elaborate hair and tail than the other ponies I've made, and this took a lot of time to do.

She's just a bit bigger than the ponies I've made off the Elisabeth Doherty pattern, a comparison of her and Princess Luna is here:

size comparison

Her legs are longer and her neck, especially is longer. And her muzzle is shorter so she has a slightly different look.

And, for all the "shippers" out there who never got over "Hearts and Hooves Day," here she is with Big Mac, even if I will continue to insist the OTP is Big Mac and Fluttershy:

Cheerilee and Mac

And now I have to check to see if my train is anywhere close to on time.

(Edited to add: SERVICE DISRUPTION. Oh noes. Except, it turns out when I called, the disruption happens between San Antonio and Fort Worth, and when I get on things should be fine - they are "turning" the train in Fort Worth but busing people from San Antonio and related stops. So the expectation is everything will be fine for me, and the train will likely be on time. Apparently there was a minor derailment on the "down" train (which becomes the "up" train) and it took them very long to get it sorted, so rather than just having cascading lateness, they decided to bus everyone and take the train to Fort Worth, which is where I presume they "refit" and restock it)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

cleaning things day

Tomorrow I set off for a break to visit family.

Today is one of my furlough days.

So I decided to take today and clean the house. The bathroom and living room and home office are pretty much done, I need to go and arrange to get my mail held and then the kitchen (the biggest effort) is next.

Then I am going to try to finish the Cheerilee. I think I will be able to; I sewed all her anatomy together last night and just have her bangs and tail to do, and then it's her face and so-called Cutie Mark....and then I have another pony. And this was a nice pattern, it makes a smaller pony than the other Nerdy Knitter patterns I've done. (I also can see how, with a few mods, one could use it to make a Bon Bon/Sweetie Drops by using different colors and changing the hair up slightly).

(Actually, I with the designer would have an add-on pack, where once you had the basic pony pattern, you could buy additional hair sets, or a horn-and-wing pattern so you could easily unicornize or pegasusize the existing pattern.)

I also have to pack, but that doesn't take long to do.

Fortunately my stomach is better today. Yeah, over the weekend I had problems again. I think this IS either IBS or some kind of perimenopausal body-going-stupid. I really wish I could just be DONE with it - I'll get so much better I'll think, "Oh, thank goodness, I'm going to be through with this" and then my stomach is like NOPE and I get the discomfort again.

Oh, and the going in the bathroom thing during tornadoes: if you don't have a basement or a storm shelter, it is the next safest place. It's interior (sometimes they recommend an interior closet) and has no windows, and in a smaller tornado is the most likely part of the house to be undamanged. Also, you can get in the bathtub and cover yourself with a mattress or heavy blankets and get additional protection that way.

There are a lot of places now selling add-on storm shelter rooms that can be built into a closet space. I don't have  a closet I could readily give up for that (there's not much storage in my house), but I keep thinking if I could figure out a good place for one, it would be worth investing in. (Perhaps have my linen closet done away with, and put it in that space? I could always put shelves in and stack my towels on the shelves...). These shelters claim to be able to withstand an F-5, which is about the worst tornado possible. They are reinforced steel and are kind of on the idea of the "panic rooms" some upscale houses in areas that are higher crime (or are imagined to be so by wealthy homeowners).

I could possibly also surrender one corner of my bedroom and have it installed in there; I could always have shelves in it and use it for yarn storage or something.

Monday, May 09, 2016

tornado weather again

Big horrible one off by Wynnewood. (Which I now cannot spell right because I've headcanoned it into my version of Equestria as "Whinnywood" - it's where my OCs Folio and Scholastica live; Folio is the librarian and Scholastica is a researcher/museum docent).

Anyway, they called one for my county out of an excess of caution, so I grabbed my tornado kit (several heavy quilts and pillows for protection if it becomes necessary, a flashlight, a battery operated radio, heavy shoes, my purse....and also what favorite Ponies and other items I can grab quickly.

Say hi, Dr. Whooves:

Yeah. Really not a fan of tornado weather AT ALL.

I'm hoping if this keeps up someone calls me to let me know if CWF is cancelled. I did garage my car for safety in case of hail but could take it back out if the bad stuff passes.

Edited to add: there were tornadoes north and west of here but we didn't actually get any bad weather. CWF was cancelled and I took (most of) the stuff out of the bathroom. Hopefully this is the end of this for a while.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Pomp and Circumstance

Graduation was yesterday. I go; it's expected of faculty and anyway, several of our excellent students were graduating and I wanted to be there for them.

And I admit, that tiny, stereotypically-German part of me, the part that loves official titles and ancient traditions loves graduations and the associated fuss (Even if we don't do Latin any more, even if the ceremonies are stripped-down relative to what they are at, say, Balliol College of Oxford). Still, I love it because it does give me that feeling of continuity with something bigger than me and older than me.

(I own my own regalia - my father bought them for me as a "you got a tenure-track position" gift. So I don't have to mess with rentals and I understand in the 16 years or so since I've been at this gig, the price of regalia, like everything, has gone up)

Anyway, it is one of those things that is still kind of nice, I think, about academia. And it's good to celebrate the successes of students.

I saw several people I knew well graduate. It's kind of fun in that they go in before us, so those of us close to the head of the faculty line get to see and maybe wave to students we know.

And I had to smile to myself. When one fellow - this was someone who TAed for me for several years, and he was an excellent TA as well as an excellent student, and also just an all-around nice guy, as he was walking in, he gave a grin to the biology profs standing by the door. And suddenly my mind flashed to this:

Except for dropping a wink (he didn't), his expression was almost exactly like Applejack's there. (And at one time he used to wear a t-shirt with three blue diamond shapes on it, so I think he is not unaware of Ponies). And yeah, in a way it's a little like that - oh, there's no villain that's been defeated, really, but it's still a time that feels like a little bit of a triumph - several of our graduates, I know, have been accepted to professional schools, a couple have jobs lined up.

Another student that we smiled over was the woman - an immigrant from one of the African nations - who is heavily pregnant and we all were wondering if we'd have to give her Incompletes if the baby came any early. But no, she finished up well, and she was at graduation, and I joked to the colleague next to me that she needed to get a second copy of her graduation photo to give to the baby, seeing as she was present (in utero) at her mom's graduation. (This was a student who did very well in class but was concerned about her grade and would regularly come in for help from me, and I was happy to give it. I just wish some of the students NOT doing as well would come in....)

And yeah, in a world where there are a lot of not-good things, a graduation where you have students who worked hard and genuinely earned good grades - and therefore, their diplomas - is a good thing. (And despite all the talk about Millennials and about senses-of-entitlement and dumbing-down, the good students we get are fully as good as the ones we've always had, and that's one reason why I keep my standards high and expect people to come in and get help if they're not meeting them, because I want to keep high standards for those students like the African woman or the guy who reminded me of Applejack....)

And yes, they always play Pomp and Circumstance (Number 1, the one most commonly used at graduations in the US) as we are processing in. It's funny, how something that was written to essentially be martial (the title comes from a quotation from Shakespeare, about war) and to glorify the then-Empire is totally associated by us Yanks with stuffy auditoriums and the smell of gabardine that's been in storage for 6 months to a year...but I very much associate it with graduations, so much so that when I was waiting on the thumbs-up/thumbs-down on tenure I couldn't listen to it, because I found myself wondering, morbidly, "Will the last graduation I was at be the last one I ever participate in?" (My plans, had I failed at tenure, were to leave academia and either join up with a consulting firm somewhere or go back to school for something else - I had a vague idea of doing environmental law). Of course that didn't happen, and from a few things I've heard secondhand about myself and my teaching, it sounds like as long as there are funds to keep the university open, I probably will have continued employment - that is, I don't need to worry overmuch about my own merits keeping my job. But yes, I so strongly associate that march with trying to look sufficiently solemn but happy while keeping up with the longer-legged male colleague in front of me as we process in, that I can't detach it from all these years of memories of going to graduations. (I have been a faculty at far, far more graduations than I was a graduate: there was my high school graduation, my over-large college undergrad graduation which I would have skipped had I known, my Master's and my Ph.D. And yes, I went to both graduate degrees; many people skip their Master's but I felt like mine had been hard-won enough I wanted to go. I had come back from being asked to leave the first graduate program I was in, I had worked really hard on the project, I had JUST decided I wanted to go on for a Ph.D......and also it was at my dad's university, and he was going to be at the graduation as a department chair, so I didn't feel like I could skip it anyway). But since then, I've probably been to close to 30 graduations - two a year, except for a couple times I had to be traveling and got permission to skip....

Just gonna say

1. I'm really grateful my mom is still around and still in good health
2. I'm really glad I have a good relationship with her - I don't think I ever "rebelled" in the way that some girls do against their moms.

But, my mom is a pretty wonderful person. The card I picked out for her this year played on the old joke about how women eventually turn into their mothers, but the twist - on the inside was something like "So I'm lucky, because you're an awesome mom."

I liked the card because it was heartfelt without being goopy (I don't do the goopy sentiment ones) but it was also funny without being unpleasant-funny. And it's true - a lot of the better parts of my personality are things that were heavily influenced by my mom. 

I guess she was touched by it because she mentioned it a couple times when I called today to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

I also sent her a set of quilt-design printed microfiber cloths (for cleaning eyeglasses and the like. We all wear eyeglasses and I know how frustrating it can be to need to clean them and not be able to find a suitable cloth). And from the same catalog (Isabella), an "Angry Mom" microwave cleaner - a little silicone rubber figure of a cartoonish angry woman that you fill up with a mix of vinegar and water and boil in the microwave so steam comes out of the top of her head. (Angry Mom - get it?). I have one myself and besides it being funny, it does work well to soften up the "crud" you get in the microwave if something pops in there. And I suppose, you could use it after cooking something stinky to get the smell out, because vinegar is good for absorbing odors.

The last thing was just a silly thing - at one of the local chain places, I found a toy that was a cat's paw on a trigger mechanism. Pull the trigger slowly and it meows. Pull it fast, and it snarls like a wildcat. It was dumb and kind of funny and I thought she might find it amusing so I bought one for her.

I don't tend to do the "traditional" gifts - my mom is not big on chocolates, and I know my dad likes to get jewelry and flowers for her, so I leave that for him.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

"I ship it"

Two of my blindbags, presumably Apple relatives (but they obviously cannot be TOO close of relatives). Both of them with "atypical" poses - e.g., not just repaints of the existing molds (either the Mane Six or "generic boy pony")

I ship it

Apple Split (left) and Florina Tart (right).

I dunno, they seem to work well together. (My head canon is that the Apple family is truly immense and far-flung and there are things like v. distant cousins where a marriage between them would not be of genetic concern)

As I said: I wish they did more blindbags that weren't mere repaints of existing molds. I get why - it's expensive to come up with unique molds - but the unusual shaped ponies are more interesting.

(There's also been some fandom discussion of "should there be same-sex ships on the show?" I suspect, despite some of the stuff that has gone on in Steven Universe, that it's not gonna happen. Not unless it's VERY heavily lampshaded like the Lyra and Bon Bon "Best Friends!" thing. Because it's a kids' show, and honestly, seeing the freakout response to Derpy sounding "challenged" in the first time she was given voice, I could see a canonical same-sex pairing leading to the show being pulled. Even though there are some hints of same-gender pairing in Steven Universe....Gems are not "canonically beings," they are some kind of energy-thing rather than humans, so....

I don't know. I see both sides of the argument, I guess, but I can also see making a dramatic move leading to issues.

I will say I come down very heavily on the side of NOT shipping any of the Mane Six, whether same- or opposite. And especially not with each other! Okay, maybe as the very closing episode show Rarity running off with her prince or somesuch*, but once you introduce romance of any kind into what had been a friendship dynamic....well, I remember what it was like when someone in my crew of friends had a new "honey," or, even worse, when two people in the large mixed group started dating each other....it made things weird and changed the dynamic, especially when, as commonly happens, the couple broke up, and as much as that sometimes has to happen in the real world, it becomes harder in Ponyville to solve friendship problems (or to do things like fight off Tirek) if there's the whole mess of Twilight being with Flash Sentry, or the question of "are they or aren't they" with Rarijack or some such. I'd rather just see it left as a friendship show....also I tend to feel kids grow up too fast as it is and start worrying about things like dating and relationships too early as it is, just give them time to pal around with people, they have 60+ years to deal with adulthood stuff.

(*She expressed that desire early on in the show, but I wonder now with her career as a businessmare if that is increasingly uninteresting to her. Certainly being a princess would put a crimp in her designing)

Also, the whole question of representation does tend sometimes to leave out those of us who, for whatever reasons, have remained solo. Whether it's over-pickiness, lack of opportunity, lack of interest, whatever. Not everyone has to be paired up....Also I will note in real bands of wild horses, they tend very often to be a group of females (often sisters or a mother and several years' worth of foals) that hang together, and the males go off and form "bachelor bands," but those tend to be a bit less stable because testosterone. Also, usually there is a "boss mare" in the all-or-mostly female bands, often the oldest or most experienced mare....so it's kind of matrilineal, so I never had so many problems as some with Ponyville seeming to skew heavily female. Well, also, it originated as a way of selling pastel ponies with brushable manes to little girls, so it skewing heavily female makes sense from that perspective)

Friday, May 06, 2016

a good thing

I'm glad I made the mitts for my departing colleague. She opened them up and exclaimed, "It's my color!" (so I was right about purple).

She also mentioned that the previous pair I had made her - yes, I had made her a pair before - had "mysteriously disappeared" and today she let on what I suspected - that she thinks one of her grown daughters took them, or that she loaned them to her and forgot to get them back.

So I'm glad I did it. It was a small thing but I think it was meaningful to her.

And yes, she landed on her feet. She's now THE science person at a school district much closer to her home than we are....she has a big lab all her own, she's going to be teaching chem and biology and I guess physics (it's a high school). One of my colleagues joked she may be making more then than she does now (which could be true: the non-tenure full time people don't make a lot here). She still gets the same retirement benefits but her other benefits won't be quite as good as ours. So she'll be okay, and I bet her students at the school will love her; I know a lot of ours did.

Still, I'm sad to see her go. She was here longer than I have been! She's kind of a link to the old guard, because she knew a lot of people who have since retired, some who retired before I arrived.

At AAUW last night I wound up next to one of the retiring people who had been in admin and she expressed some outrage that people who were all good teachers - as my now-former colleague is - were let go simply because they lacked the protection of tenure. (Which is why I think we filled out that survey of how to prioritize who gets to 'stay' IF there are future cuts made - apparently this decision was made very unilaterally and a lot of people are somewhat unhappy). It's a lot harder to let a tenured person go "not for cause*" - a real financial emergency must be declared.

(*Despite what some critics of tenure say, there are clear guidelines about letting someone with tenure go - someone who fails to live up to their contract, who is insubordinate to higher-ups, who is abusive to students, who gets "involved" with a student (I mean in a sexual way), and so forth...they can be let go. Also, here, if you have two or three years in succession of "unsatisfactory" reviews (for teaching, scholarship, and service) you can be let go. Granted, in practice there may be cases of someone with pull or who "knows where the bodies are buried" who can get away with more stuff, but tenure is not the sinecure some think it is, which is why I keep pushing and striving. And anyway, I have exactly zero pull and I know where zero bodies are buried, so I have to rely on my own merits and my own hard work to keep my gig.)

I dunno. These are strange times we live in now. If you had told me fifteen or even ten years ago that some of the stuff going on locally (or nationally, or globally) would happen, I would not have believed you. (I just hope things get better budgetwise soon. Or at least that we get told straight up what's going to happen, instead of being kept in the dark. Another thing I talked about with the retiring person was how awful the not-knowing was and she agreed; the insecurity was the worst part because you can't plan - as I said, if they told me today, "Come fall, your paycheck will be 10% less than it was last year" my reaction would be, "Okay, I can budget for that now that I know." But it's the WONDERING that gets you - rumors are flying, everything from that several departments are going to be fused (I really hope it's not mine; within my department we all get along well but I suspect there would be some friction with any of the departments we MIGHT fuse with) to that full time faculty will be expected to teach half again as many hours as they do now (v. unfair to those of us with labs - we get 1 contact hour for every 2-5 hours in lab) to that there might be tenured people let go. And that is a morale killer, though I suppose on some levels, for some mindsets, the idea is that it keeps people "on their toes" or perhaps more properly "toeing the line." (I know I have pushed harder to do more service and research this spring than I might have in better times)

I have to trust that if God closes this particular door, He'll open another one for me and that maybe whatever future option happens - if it's not here - it will be better. But like so many things, it's the going-through-the-tunnel* that's the awful part - the waiting to come out on the other side and see what's there.

(* depending on the route the train takes through St. Louis, there are several tunnels it can go through *right next to the river.* It always makes me nervous when it does that; my brain blips to, "What if the New Madrid fault was to go at precisely this minute?" and also, it's just unsettling to be running through a dark tunnel where you can't see anything outside.)

As I said earlier, the sad thing about all this unsettledness is that I had some really great students this semester, people that I will miss. Across the entire spectrum: one of my students who burned through their "probation" (for poor grades) still told me, even though they couldn't return next fall, that they learned a lot in my class and enjoyed it. And another student - who was handily earning an A so I knew it was in no way a bribe - handed me a very nice thank-you card on their way out the door after the exam, a card that made me tear up a little bit because they said they came into the class knowing nothing about the topic (they were a pre-med) but that they appreciated how willing I was to answer all the questions they had and that they could tell I was passionate about my subject and about teaching. (Yeah, that one's going in the "You don't suck, after all" drawer - I keep a few of these things around to remind myself when I've had a really rotten day that I can have a good impact on SOMEONE'S life.)

Friday morning things

* The salmon (which I ordered last night) was delicious, but either I was eating too late (we were not served until nearly 7:30), or the cilantro in the "salsa" garnish on the side disagreed with me, or perhaps salmon slightly disagrees with me now (dangit). Something didn't sit too well in my stomach last night and I'm hoping it was just "too much food, too late"

* I went through and changed passwords YET AGAIN after hearing that there was some idiot who apparently breached Gmail and Yahoo and whatever Hotmail became's security. On the one hand: my account is so little and has such limited activity, why would someone want access? On the other: that's probably just the kind of account that could be turned into a malware account. So, dangit.

And, yeah, yeah, the two-factor security thing or the "get in via an SMS code sent to your cell phone" exists but it is a pain for those of us with "antique" cell phones. (I have a Motorola flipphone circa 2007. I haven't upgraded to a smartphone for three reasons: a. I'm cheap and don't feel like paying way more than the $25 a month I pay now. b. I don't NEED another device that allows me to waste time on the Internet and c. I suffer a bit of tech-paralysis with these: which one is best? Which one do I want? Which one will not be totally obsoleted and therefore require an expensive replacement in six months?)

I dunno. This is one of those little modern annoyances like telemarketing calls that should not be, but is.

(I also get annoyed at some sites that are so compulsive about password security, like, they want you to have at least eight but no more than fifteen characters, some lowercase letters, some capital letters, at least one number, at least one symbol but not certain symbols. And it's not even for anything very hush-hush like tax or medical records; it's for freaking viewing content. And the campus interface we use for enrolling students or posting grades usually does a "forced" password change RIGHT when you need fast access to the site, like a student is sitting in your office. I have taken to writing down the passwords because, dangit, if someone's breaking into my office there are bigger problems than their temporarily being able to access my campus connect account. And I've FORGOTTEN passwords in the pat which makes it bad when you need to change them)

* I'm having to get a tech out to look at my modem at home. It has started semi-randomly dropping signal: I'll be in the middle of doing something online, and suddenly: no connectivity. I suspect it's the modem because all the lights other than the power light will go off on the modem, and then it will slowly cycle back into life. (I usually have to restart my router, though, which is a pain....it's like my computer's auto-connect will not connect without a reboot of the router). I don't THINK it's the router, at least I hope it isn't, but it does seem the problem starts in the modem. They have told me at the "head office" that it is "not problems on [their] end," so I think a dying modem is the simplest explanation, and even though it's hooked up to a surge-protecting power strip, we have had a few weird outages that probably came with power surges in the last year.

They've told me it's a $30 service call UNLESS the modem is messed up, then the call is free (because I rent the modem, just another one of the little fees tacked on our bills) and they replace the modem.

It could also be the splitter and I hope that's not it because I think that's an extra charge. The guy I talked to on the phone asked me if there was any way I could avoid using a splitter and I was like "Old house, one outlet for cable" and I am SO not up to having to get someone in to pull wire. Then again - I have no problems with the cable tv, which is attached to the splitter, so I don't know.

(There is an old cable, I have no idea if it still works, from the opposite wall. It's hidden behind a table so I forgot it was there. I suppose if it looks like it's the splitter I could give a try of hooking the modem up to that - the only problem with that is there's not a super convenient power outlet with two open outlets (for the modem and the router) so I'd have to get yet another  power strip. But that might be a solution if the splitter's bad and it's not a simple matter of, "oh, let me put a new one in for you")

It does seem the dropouts are worst very early in the morning and in the midafternoon, though once or twice I've walked by late at night on the way to the bathroom and seen the lights out on the modem, so I don't know.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Thursday morning things

* You know? It's a relief to be done with the "accounting" of what I watch for the Nielsen thing. I sealed the thing up this morning and put it in the mailbox and am glad to be done with it. I admit, when I sat down to flip on the tv, I found myself thinking, "Do you really want to do this? Because whatever you find that you think is remotely worth watching, you'll have to write it down."

That's also why I hated the "write down everything you eat" diet plan....and actually it worked TOO well on me (I'd skip eating and get cranky because I didn't want to record what I was eating).

But yeah. I realize I watch more "local" (mostly the OKC channel) news than I realized. That and cartoons and an occasional re-run of Untold Stories of the ER and not much else.

* We rescheduled the meal, except now instead of a dinner at a restaurant it's going to be a potluck lunch here. Which actually, IMHO, will work better - it's easier to talk around our breakroom table without noise from other diners or waiters gently hinting that they NEED the table, would we finish up? One of my colleagues is making lasagna and she makes excellent lasagna, and anyway, I like that better than Mexican food (and won't have to worry so much about "will this upset my digestion?" even though I seem pretty much back to normal). Someone else is baking a cake. I think it's my turn to bring paper plates and stuff like that.

* Have been reading some of the food-news with dismay: apparently Fresh Market, which is a lovely upscale grocery chain that I always enjoyed going into when I visited my parents, is failing, and is closing many of their stores. (I commented, bitterly, on Twitter that it seems that what our culture gets - and maybe deserves, right now - is a messy, loud, poorly-stocked wal-mart. And yes, I get that Fresh Market is where people with "privilege" shop and wal-mart is where the ordinary folks shop.) But does wal-mart - or at least my local one - HAVE to be so awful? It is loud. It is poorly kept-up. They have aisles that are largely blocked by pallets of "special deals" that are never anything I want.  And restocking is glacially slow so sometimes they don't have what I need for a week. And they don't pull expired dairy products so you have to read every single label of every thing. (When I was a kid, stores pulled expired stuff and you didn't have to even think about it). I wonder if the future is going to be a warehouse full of pallets, and we're all issued blunt box knives and told to open up and get what we need, and then scan it, and then bag it ourselves, and then pay.

I wish we had grocery delivery. I know wal-mart allegedly does the "web to curb" thing where you can order online and pick stuff up, but given how poorly staffed my local one is, I'm not even sure they do it.

(Again: the Albertson's we're supposed to get can't come fast enough. Though now that the "letting grocery stories sell wine" bill has apparently been shot down, I would not be surprised if they decided NOT to come here, after all. I know wine and liquor are a big part of restaurant profits and I suspect the same is true of groceries)

* Also reading about the recall of just about every frozen vegetable, because they're all processed in the same plant that had Listeria contamination. So I guess I throw everything in my freezer out? Some of the stuff was bought a month ago in Sherman and I don't have a receipt any more, so I guess I'm out all that money. What do people on more restricted budgets do? For that matter, what do people who use SNAP benefits do when there's a food recall? Are they able to get a replacement/reimbursement without a lot of effort, or are they just out of luck?

Again, as I bitterly commented on Twitter: maybe a steady diet of Little Debbie cakes isn't such an awful idea after all.

* And some nutjob/criminal in Ann Arbor allegedly sprayed "fresh food" bars with something, apparently he claims a mix of hand sanitizer and mouse poison. Ugh. (Again: I think I'm only going to eat stuff that's packaged up, in the future). People are AWFUL, you know? I'm old enough to remember the big Tylenol thing in 1982 and how now we have to fight our way into packages of ANYTHING.....and I used to think it was a depressing commentary on our culture but now, I don't know. Like I said: I don't think I'd buy stuff off a fresh food bar right now. (And anyway: sneeze guards aren't adequate protection if you have someone brewing a case of Norovirus picking through the food). (But then again: frozen vegetables are apparently not safe. You can't win....)

* I dunno. I think this is the normal post-semester let down/tiredness. Grading exams takes more out of a person than you realize. Also being out of a regular schedule, having your mealtimes disrupted (I truly, truly hate the 11 am to 1 pm exam slot: usually people are done a bit early but if they aren't - it's too early to eat a proper lunch BEFORE, and AFTER it's kind of too late. And you wind up doing stuff like eating junk - I ate an indifferent grocery-store cinnamon roll someone had brought in before yesterday's exam and felt kind of blah the rest of the morning). And I need a proper schedule to feel right, anyway.

And something has re-activated my allergies: after a couple weeks of feeling GREAT, now I'm back to needing more sleep/having puffy eyes/being congested/having the weird allergy dreams I have. (Last night: for some reason I was working in an opthamologic practice as a junior doctor/intern. For the first time I got sent in to take the history of a new patient. It was a baby. The parents were there, they had the baby in a high chair and had an iPad playing a very violent movie, which she was watching. The mother seemed more concerned about "where can I get a cup of coffee" and the dad was sitting over in the corner blowing huge clouds of vapor from an e-cigarette and ignoring the baby and when I finally managed to get one of them willing to talk, their complaint was that the baby punched and bit people, and I was sitting there thinking, "Can I tell them it's because they let her watch horrible movies and they don't pay attention to her?")

* Tonight is AAUW, with another round of "who is going to be our new president" and it's also a meal at a restaurant and I hope there's something my poor teeth (no hard crunchy food any more) and digestion can handle okay. (Maybe they will have a pasta dish; that's often a pretty safe bet....looked up the menu online. Mostly steaks, which I'm not really in the mood for right now, but they do have a maple glazed salmon that sounds good. And I can get a baked sweet potato instead of a salad....).

Saturday is graduation, luckily it's at 2 pm so I won't miss New Pony. (It's the little things like that that make life worthwhile). Of course, graduation at 2 pm means the day is horribly broken up - can't really do anything before it, can't really do anything after it. (If I weren't for graduation, I'd probably go antiquing to the stores I skipped last week because of the "fest").

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

May the Fourth

Today is "Star Wars Day" as in, "May the Fourth (Force) be with you."

Heh. As many others have said, there's the knee-jerk response of many people raised Christian: "And also with you." (Though really, in its original conception, the Force really wasn't that far off from Spirit. Or at least I envisioned it, as a child, as being something like that).

Also, someone on Twitter noted that today is ALSO 5/4.....which can be a time signature, most famously used here:

So I suppose you could also call today "Take Five Day"

(Dave Brubeck was a really interesting guy. There were a lot of things about him I didn't know. I didn't know, for example, he wrote religious music until my parents talked about doing one of his compositions in choir. He also apparently became Catholic as a reaction to some of the things he saw while fighting in World War II - the idea that the things war pushed a man to do contradicting God's commandments. He started out to be a veterinarian but was urged to go into music because "that was where his heart lay" He was also married for a very long time (until his death, in fact) to the same woman, which tends to be a bit....unusual....in the lives of artists.

Also, his mentor was Darius Milhaud....which really brings home to me how long a career Brubeck had; I think of Milhaud being very much early 20th century....)

And tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, celebrating a Mexican military victory (over the French, IIRC - Napoleon III tried to take over Veracruz but was beaten by General Zaragoza and his forces)

I....hope it's not wrong to think this guy is combining the two holidays:

(That is one of the oddest, and therefore, one of my favorite, .gif images)

A "vanished" world

This is one of those things that periodically shows up on sites like Mental Floss: old footage from times past. (Not so long past, but still, not quite yet MY past):

Scenes from the first enclosed shopping mall.

This was filmed in 1956....which is still 13 years before I was born, but there is something familiar about it - the idea of the enclosed mall with a kind of ugly, kind of functional exterior, that made the interior seem more wonderful.

Just for round numbers, let's say I was visiting malls in 1976 (I would have been 7, so that would have been school-clothes shopping trips). That would have been 20 years later than the filming - and yet, things seem familiar. (Also, it would have been a different mall: "the mall" when I was a kid was Chapel Hill Mall, near Akron, Ohio). There were the big plantings and there might have been a fountain? I think? And there were skylights. And each of the stores had their own distinctive sign.

(There was a JC Penney's, and a Sears, and an O'Neils, as the big stores....and I remember Miller's Stride-Right and there was also a Woolworth's that had a lunch counter and there was a toy store, maybe a Kay-Bee toys? And a record store. And there was a small "cineplex," that maybe had three or four screens?)

Nowadays, 2016 - that would be 40 years on from 1976 and 60 years after the mall footage. I haven't been in an enclosed shopping mall in a VERY long time (I think the last was a quick run, just into the Kohl's at the Eastland Mall up where my parents live now, over Christmas break). The enclosed mall nearest me (Midway Mall) is totally moribund and depressing and I haven't been in there in a couple years; some of the other malls in midsized cities around here aren't always.....entirely.....safe....places to go. (Well, neither is the wal-mart; allegedly a woman was nearly sexually assaulted IN BROAD DAYLIGHT in the parking lot at the one in Bonham. Yeah, home delivery of groceries can start any time now.)

But it does make me sad, and makes the part of me that is getting old and little-c conservative say "This is how everything goes; everything gradually goes to crud." I look at the footage of that old mall and I see several things:

a. People dressed up to shop. I don't know that we did when I was a kid (though I was, at times, kind of a formal little kid and I wore jumper dresses a lot). But we wore decent clothes. ("People of Wal-Mart," as mean as it is....yeah, there are some people who don't dress appropriately for being out in public).

b. Everything looked just, well....nice. (Said in Fluttershy Voice). It looked clean, it looked new. I suppose the decline of a lot of the malls is that the buildings just got old and hard to keep up. (there was another mall in Sherman, the Sher-Den mall, but it was torn down  before I moved here; someone told me it was that there was asbestos in the building and it had to go)

c. Dayton's! And Red Owl (and the fact that there was a *grocery store* in a mall! I don't think Chapel Hill had one, not when I remember it, but the "mall" up near my grandmother had one). And all those vanished stores. (Does Woolworth still live? I don't think I've seen a Woolworth in years). O'Neils, which I've talked about before as the "nice but not too expensive" clothing store of my childhood is long gone; gulped down by Macy's and metamorphosed into it.

(Oh, and Red Owl did parcel pick up - you could buy your food, leave it, and then drive up and have them load it into your car. That sort of thing would be nice but I could see stores like Wal-Mart totally cacking it up - I know lots of people who have complained that if they don't look CLOSELY when the bagger loads stuff into their cart, sometimes a bag gets left behind).

(And yes, there is the standard YouTube comment about "but there are no brown people." Well, I will note that it was Minnesota in the 1950s....the town I grew up in, there was ONE African-American family that had kids in school. ONE. And yes, that low level of diversity is not a good thing, at least if it was low because "different" people were being kept out. Though frankly, I was kind of an outsider in my town despite being the "majority" race and faith....my family had less money than the norm, and class was almost as big a thing as race. But yeah.....more diversity now and more people feeling welcome more places now is an improvement. I will also note in passing that the prep school I attended was WAY more diverse - more African-American kids, a couple of kids with antecedents in India, a set of brothers from Egypt, quite a few kids of Korean heritage....compared to the local public school. Which is why I always chuckle when people talk about the stiflingness of private schools....)

And yeah, apparently Frank Lloyd Wright hated shopping malls, but you know? After having been in a conference center he allegedly designed, where the women's restrooms were terribly hidden, my opinion of Wright is not as great as some people's is.

And anyway: the enclosed shopping mall, as stultifying as some said they were, they served a purpose, especially in places like Minnesota, where it was miserable in the winter (or for that matter, Texas, where it's miserable in the summer): It's NICE not to have to walk outside to go between stores. Oh, I do it - because now the glorified strip mall (I don't know what else to call it, but that's what it is - stores in a line, each with a separate outdoor entrance, and they're HUGE stores so in adverse weather you have to drive between them and find parking each time). I suppose one of the things that killed malls were things like Wal-Mart and Target that claim to carry "everything you need" under one roof (they don't. Or the quality is severely lacking).

And maybe also the rise of online shopping? I know I can often get the book I want faster from Amazon than I can by making time to drive to the Books A Million and hoping they have it (despite their name, I doubt they carry a million books). And maybe just Americans' desire for the New Thing - which now is, like I said, those glorified strip malls. (I can only hope that the next New Thing is a revitalization of the downtowns; ours, after a few brief years of being lovely, seems to be dying). And maybe the enclosed malls became too much of an attractant to rude teenagers; I know one of the reasons I gripe about "hating" the mall is because of the packs of kids that roam around and are low-grade rude to some people. (And it's more than low-grade in some malls; there was one mall in Peoria where fights used to regularly break out between rival groups of kids).

But I look at the footage and I can nod a little and remember what it was like, probably what the planners HOPED it would be like, more than what it was like in the 90s when malls started dying....

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

another pony blog

on pink wings.... which talks about being "safe for work and all ages" (my favorite kind of blog!)

Lots of cute early-gen Pony pictures, and some G4 stuff too.

(More and more, I find my little round of pony blogs are a way I get through difficult days. Things that are just cute and uncomplicated....)

Is this on?

I can't see my blog from home; I get a "server not found" error.

I can get to Blogger - apparently - and can see other Blogspot blogs. (Yeah, yeah, I know, some of your answers will be "Buy a domain and use WP instead" but I've had it this way for 14 years and I don't have the energy to change now).

I hope this is a shortlived issue linked to the stupid periodic access dropouts I've been having at home.

(ETA: Switched browsers, it came up fine on Chrome, now it's back on Firefox. So who knows. But I have noticed this past week, more weird brief drops and things of connectivity at home. Also the local Vyve-advertising-itself channel on the tv has gone down so I wonder if Vyve is morphing into YET ANOTHER service.)

Finished "Traitor's Purse"

I finished Margery Allingham's "Traitor's Purse" the other night. It's going to be hard for me to talk about it TOO much without some spoilers - but I think the book is worth reading (even if it's a little spoiled), so I'll try to be careful.

This is one of the Albert Campion novels - apparently the eleventh in the series, so I am reading it out of order (for a while, was trying to read them in series, but some are hard to find in the US these days, which is a pity, because they are enjoyable).

This novel is much less a murder mystery (which many of the Campion novels are) than it is a novel of suspense. Oh, there is a murder, and the murderer is caught in the end, but that subplot, while it's tied in to the main story, is really secondary.

I alluded to the theme of the novel earlier: Campion wakes up in hospital. He remembers very little (it turns out he is concussed, and while the amnesia he suffers isn't quite medically accurate from what I know about post-concussion amnesia, it's not too far off). He gets the horrified impression, from overhearing a police officer and nurse out in the hall, that he has killed a policeman. He realizes, even though he does not know who he is or where he is, that that is enough for him to face capital punishment. So, he decides he has to get out of there. Which he does. And he steals a car. Later, when that car dies, he is picked up by a woman and a man. It turns out the woman is Lady Amanda (Fitton), who is actually his fiancee. (We have met Lady Amanda in one of the earlier books; I remember her - she is a smart, tough, clever woman and a good match for Campion).

Anyway. It gradually becomes clear that he's been drafted to do something of vital importance. (The book is set during the "phoney war" of 1940, and the whole plot that Campion stops is ironically rather like one the Germans tried LATER in the war....though Allingham could not have known of the idea when she wrote the novel, the real-world plot was not revealed until after the war). The number fifteen is important somehow.

And it seems that the survival of Britain and the British Empire hinges on Campion stopping....whatever it is. There is a very strong sense of "the barbarians are at the gates" and that there is a vital need to preserve the way of life ordinary Britons had enjoyed....and that that way of life is something worth fighting for and even dying for, if it comes to that. The level of patriotism might be....somewhat unfashionable in some circles today, but given the alternative that was brewing in Germany at the time, I understand the horror of "giving up."

(Also, without giving too much away: the big baddie is one of those megalomaniacal types who thinks if he were in charge of everything, how much better things would be - how he would be such a benevolent dictator, and fix things. And I'm reminded of the famous CS Lewis quotation about how a tyranny "for the good of its subjects" is the worst kind of tyranny, and presumably that was what this guy was angling for - so not only did Campion have to prevent something that could presumably lead to the Nazis winning, but also he had to prevent this guy from taking over)

So Campion knows he cannot fail; that the way of life he has always known, the way of life his countrymen and women have known, depends on his success.

But because he's concussed and suffering amnesia, Campion cannot for the life of him remember why it's important or what he has to do. This is what gives the first 2/3 or so of the novel its nightmare quality that makes it so suspenseful - you keep rooting for Campion, wishing he would remember more, wishing SOMEONE would let something drop that would help him remember. But it turns out that (a) the people who are his allies are very much in the dark on it, (b) Campion is fearful of admitting his disability, even to Lady Amanda, and (c) several of the characters who SEEM like "good guys" turn out not to be.

Eventually things begin to become more clear, but not without a lot of agony:
- Lady Amanda breaks off the engagement, because she is falling in love with another (who later turns out not to be the man most thought he was)
- Campion has to race around with a severe headache, with no food, with very little besides weak tea with sugar to keep him going
- Being taken into a hollowed-out hill/ancient fortification that is sort of like a guild hall and it being expected he'd know just what to do, but not.

Finally, he punches the policeman who was trying to help him (breaking the man's jaw, as it turns out), and madly flees in a sort of fugue-state. He turns up, not knowing why, at a small shop, is taken into the back......where there is a fat balding man with coal-colored eyes.....

and it gradually dawns on the reader, just as it does on Campion, that it's the wonderfully-named Magersfontein Lugg, his manservant. (And yes, I breathed a sigh of relief: "Oh, thank God, it's Lugg. Now things will get straightened out.") Lugg is a former criminal (cat burglar) himself, but he's reformed and has been a great help and friend to Campion.

But there are still some hours of agony - Campion has to go to a rickety hotel and interview the sister of the dead man. He then has to escape across the roofs (in his headachey state) and run for it, because "the rozzers" show up. Eventually he is caught, knocked unconscious, and....

.....when he wakes up in a cell, he has regained his memory. ("She fall down a well, eyes go crossed. She gets kicked by a mule, they go back. I don't know."). He realizes how badly he behaved before, he realized how close he came to totally funking what had to be done...and he has to get out of jail. Finally, through Lady Amanda's assistance (and the assistance of the broken-jawed CID, Hutch, who doesn't seem to bear much of a grudge), he does.....and the denouement happens fairly quickly, the plot is averted, the big baddie is led off in cuffs.

There is some collateral damage; Campion steals and has to use a grenade sort of object (which is actually, now I think of it, not that different from the "pinpoint bomb" Connie Willis speculated on in one of her stories). But order is ultimately restored, they are saved (well, for now....it's still the Phoney War, the Blitz will be later). And yes, Campion decides he and Amanda must marry THAT evening, and presumably they do.

I will say, the whole, "Oh, thank God, it's Lugg" moment is one of the reasons why I love these serial stories; the fact that I recognized him and realized that he would be a step towards getting everything right. It's nice to revisit familiar characters and see their further adventures.]

Oh, and as it turns out: he did not kill a policeman. A policeman was NEARLY killed - in fact, commissioner Stanislaus Oates, a recurring character - but not by Campion; he was severely injured in the initial skirmish where Campion lost his memory. And as it turns out: the policeman talking to the nurse that Campion hears at the beginning, he is sitting by Oates' bedside waiting to call for a doctor if one is needed - he is not, "out in the hall" watching for Campion to try an escape, which is what Campion thought. (One of the things I like about mysteries, especially the Golden Era ones: everything is put back right in the end. Campion isn't a bad guy who killed a cop! It was one of his police colleagues who nearly got killed, and by one of the bad guys! And he gets his memory back, fixes the problem, gets his fiancee back......and Britain is saved, at least for now.)

(I looked at my set of Campion dvds just to be sure: no, they did not produce this one for the series. On the one hand, that's a pity - it would be very interesting to see it filmed. On the other hand, this is definitely a much less "light hearted" Campion than the other stories - more suspenseful, more of a feeling that, not only COULD he fail, but the consequences of his failure would be severe.)

Monday, May 02, 2016

at loose ends

Well, tonight was to be the dinner for my departing colleague.

But her husband wound up in the hospital (If I understand correctly, it's an ongoing problem, not something new).  We're trying to reschedule, I hope he gets out and home soon (and gets better) and we can.

Luckily, I found that out before leaving for a "furlough afternoon" (yeah - we were asked to do our May furloughs before the 11th, despite the fact that I could easily have listed 2 days when I was out of town).

So I came home, did the workout I didn't do this morning, practiced piano. I'm faffing on the Internet right now but should DO something.

I attached the yarn and outlined the "neck" for Cheerilee this afternoon; I suppose I will work on that more tonight. (And I find myself wondering: at what point do I have so many Ponies and other stuffed critters on my bed that I no longer fit? My mom used to joke when I was a kid that they'd have to get me a larger bed (I had a double - I inherited the bedframe they used to have before they moved up to a queen) because of all the stuffed animals. And it's stupid and immature but having them around me makes me feel "safe." I can't explain it and I recognize it's illogical, but sometimes the way we feel isn't logical.)

I also feel at loose ends because it's the end of the semester. On the one hand, it's a relief to have a little free time coming up; on the other I miss the schedule I normally have and I know I will miss some of the students I had this semester.

There's a "suspicious package" in downtown OKC (I have taken to watching the channel 9 news because it's a bit less annoying than my local news). They said they sent in a "little robot." I tend to anthropomorphize stuff too much but my immediate reaction was, "I hope the little robot doesn't get blown up." (Well, also: I hope it's just someone's lost backpack full of textbooks or something so no one's in real danger). I think if they hadn't called it a "little" robot I wouldn't have felt the same way but I immediately felt a strange protectiveness towards the idea of a "little" robot.

I also came up against someone with some prejudices today.....someone who referred to a person that I don't think is as strictly observant as I am as a "fundie." And that just made me sad and brought up some strange feelings:

1. It's a form of prejudice. Yes, I am discombobulated when people try to indoctrinate me but the person dubbed a "fundie" really doesn't do that (and anyway, it's an offensive word, at least in some circles, to call someone that). But more, what I "hear" when I hear someone saying something like that, dismissing someone with one word, is: "I don't want to give that person a chance. I already know that person without knowing them. So I'm just not even going to give them a chance."

And maybe this is my upbringing; I wasn't "allowed" to voice dislike for someone I didn't know: my mother would ask me if I had interacted with the person I was talking about, if I had given them a chance. (And okay: if the person were known to be a criminal or a molestor, all bets would be off and I would not be expected to give them a chance BUT this was the sort of "they're weird and they dress funny" prejudice little kids have against other little kids). And I get protecting yourself against being abused.....but also, I think too many people in the world today are too quick to dismiss someone for whatever reason. I have friends I would disagree with politically if the issues ever came up; I have friends who have very different lifestyles from mine. But we can find something in common and sort of mutually agree, for example, that we disagree on politics so not to really bring it up.

2. More than that, the whole one-word dismissal brought up feelings from my childhood, of how I was on the outside of seemingly everything and how much I ACHED to fit in. (but, ironically: I was unwilling to change who I was in order for that to work. Partly because in some ways I couldn't - there was no way I could get the "right" clothes because I had next to no allowance and my parents would never pay what the "right" clothes cost. But also because I think I recognized on some level that I would merely be a poser and everyone would see through it). But I remember sobbing to my mother about how I didn't want to be more like the other kids; I wanted there to be more kids around who were like me. I was a little egghead who cried easily, and who had cheap (sometimes homemade) clothing and who wasn't allowed to watch "more mature" movies or tv and was out of step with pop culture (as I've said before, I grew up listening to WCLV with my parents....I actually 'forced' myself to listen to Top 40 radio in junior high to try to...."normalize" myself. (yes, as sad as that is, that's how I thought of it. But I hated most of the Top 40 stuff.) I grew up in a milieu where having the "right" clothes and "right" toys and "right" accessories and listening to the popular music and watching the same shows everyone else did was very important, it was how you fit in. And I didn't, and it made me sad, even as I didn't like Top 40 radio or the popular sitcoms or anything like that....

And yeah, I still kind of feel that way. A lot of my "human" interaction (such as it is) is online because outside of church and to a lesser extent, work, I don't feel like I fit in. I've tried going to a few things advertised as "family friendly" (because, hey, I like g-rated movies and all-ages comics) and got the stink eye because I was a solo woman without children. So eventually I kind of gave up trying. (I still hold out the idea of, someday, when I have more free time, joining something like a civic choir because I think I'd enjoy that. I'm far from a great singer but I'm also not terrible, so I'd probably make it in as one of the background altos or something)

But yeah. As I said over on Twitter, it was almost like a fairy-tale curse: the thing I wanted MOST (to feel like I fit in with other people) was the one thing I seemed to be denied. And that shaped a lot of my interactions into adulthood.....

And yes, I know, there's the whole Beatitudes thing, about how we should rejoice when others mock us for our faith......but I'm just not there yet.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Weekend in photos

So, I did go antiquing on Saturday. Didn't find any suitable shelves (I found a rather nice corner unit, but it was too big for the space and was more than I planned to spend, and I really wanted a SHELF, not another piece of furniture)

But I did find a few things:

new house pitcher

Yet another "house" piece of of pottery. This one is a pitcher, though it's a bit bigger than the typical tea-set cream pitcher. Maybe a milk pitcher for the table?

I admit I remain amazed at the variety of these I have run across. Most are made-in-Japan (not Occupied Japan, so either pre-1946 or post-1952).

I did also see (and was sorely tempted by) a little-red-schoolhouse cookie jar, but it was marked "$45 FIRM" and I didn't want to pay $45 for another one of those kind of things, and anyway, I'm running out of space for these. (The one I bought was like $15).

I also found two other things that fit in with collections I have.

more antique stuff

A plate featuring Ohio (I forgot I already had one - though the one I have is different - and was briefly excited to think, "I now have plates from everywhere I have lived!") Also, the little flaw you can see? Guess where the price sticker was.....but at least it was cheap for this kind of thing ($3). I'll just have to find a place for it.

Also, another one of those vintage cookbooks I love - this one was published in 1959 (ten years before I was born; the year my parents were married). It has some interesting recipes in it including a super-simple coconut macaroon (I love coconut and had been buying macaroons because I was under the impression you had to mess with beating egg whites for them - the one in this book is just sweetened condensed milk and coconut). Also, I just love the pictures - from such a vanished world but one that reminds me of the decor that was still around to an extent when I was a kid, the whole mid-century look (or the Americana look, which was huge when I was a kid and still inspires a certain nostalgia in me). There are also some "international" dishes. My parents talk about being young-marrieds and doing dinner parties with friends and learning how to do different styles of cooking, and also they had friends (they were grad students) from India and Japan and Eastern Europe (Hungary, IIRC) and their friends taught them how to do some of the traditional cooking.

(Sometimes I wonder if people were better at having simple fun back then. Oh, there were a lot of bad things about that era - more overt discrimination if you were in a minority group, fewer opportunities for women (I would have HATED being a secretary, I think), but from what my parents have talked about their early married days, it seemed like they did a lot of fun things and there wasn't the crushing load of work-expectations like there is now.)

I also went to the JoAnn's and learned they now no longer accept coupons for books. So their MO of "let's issue a really good coupon but make it only off of regular-priced stuff and then put most of the stuff people actually want on a weak little sale so they can't use the coupon" is even more annoying. (Having a 60% off coupon and finding everything you need is between 10% and 30% off feels really kind of crappy). Oh well, they've mostly replaced their actual craft-books with coloring books anyway, so I guess I buy through Amazon or Powell's or somewhere in the future.

But anyway. They were closing out some of the MLP blindbags they had (I think for Christmas?) and I actually took time to peek in the window on the back of them (this is the Apple wave). And I got this one:


Lyra, in her "alternate phenotype" (I have the solid-color Lyra where they used the Rarity mold; this one uses the non-alicorn Twilight Sparkle mold.) Neither one looks THAT much like her, as her hair is different, but I think the Twilight Mold is a little more accurate. And anyway, I kind of like the color she is and the fact that she's one of the glitter-embeds. (I also got - but didn't photograph - Apple Split, a male Apple Family relative with a unique mold. I wish they did more one-off molds for the blindbags but I understand why they don't.)

I also did some knitting, because Friday afternoon was a furlough afternoon.


I finished the gift-mitts. They are of an ombre striping yarn and I couldn't get them to line up, but I think it's okay. The reception (I don't think we can call it a party) is tomorrow night, so I'm glad I got them done in time.

I also finished another little gift thing, out of a new-to-me yarn:


The yarn is a plasticky nylon yarn called "Scrubby," designed for making dishcloths. (I have some in green to make one for myself; I think I'm going to pass this one on to my mom, her kitchen has blues in it). It's not the most fun thing ever to knit with but I think the dishcloths will be useful and they are fast.

And I started something for me.

Cheerliee head

This is Cheerilee's head. She's going to come out closer in size to my other ponies than I expected (I thought she'd be bigger, like Dr. Whooves). I am using a hook one size smaller than recommended, partly because I prefer tight crocheting for these things (so there's less stuffing show through).

Also, I am wondering if they ever did a Ponified version of something like "1776," if she'd be strutting around making rhymes from her name and talking about herself as Cheeri-LEE! Heh.

I also prepared a few more hexagons (basting the fabrics over the papers) and also added a few more on:

hexies 5/1

Friday, April 29, 2016

Heh. Star Wars.

I saw this on Twitter and I laughed, and then retweeted it with, "Or My Little Ponies, whatever"

Not that I was EVER tempted to even try drugs as a kid/teen....but yeah, early on I spent my money on toys, then on cassette tapes of music, and still later, on my doll collection. (And I also wonder if my parents' decision to give me a VERY small allowance had the unintended effect of my never getting involved in troublesome behaviors....)

Now, as an adult, most of my budget goes to keeping myself alive and healthy (food, prescription medications, etc.) and my discretionary funds (and if you've been reading here, I've backed off a good bit from the NO SPENDING ON FUN mode that I went into with the furlough days - I'm still being very careful but am finding I'm doing okay and the cut wasn't as deep as feared)....and yeah, some of that went to MLP stuff.

And yeah, I can see some folks equating wanting to buy Star Wars stuff (or My Little Pony stuff, whatever) with being an addiction similar to that to drugs....but at least I am never unable to do my job effectively because I just received a G1 pony in the mail.


Somehow I got recruited by the Nielsen people to do one of those tv diaries. And yes, I am being honest in what I watch. It will give them something to think about - local or local-ish news, medical shows, and then cartoons like My Little Pony or We Bare Bears. (And who knows.....maybe my input helps keep some of the shows I like from being replaced by stuff I dislike)

But it is sort of annoying to keep the diary; it's sort of like those diet plans where they tell you to write down everything you eat. (And does it count if you have the news on so you can hear the weather but otherwise mostly ignore it?)


I am tentatively hopeful that the roof-repair I did last week helped. We've had some rain - not driving, violent rain like what had seeped in before - but still, rain, and there's no water getting into the room. (Also, I suppose this means I periodically need to plan on going up there and brushing the accumulated debris off the roof; I am sure that helped. If I had a better ladder AND someone to hold it for me I'd do the same on the front roof, but it would take a longer ladder than what I have, and, as I said, someone to steady it for me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Downtime is coming....

It looks like the rain will clear out by Saturday morning, so maybe on Saturday (after New Pony, and I think this is a Trixie episode?) I will get to go antiquing. I don't have anything in mind that I need or want but that's kind of the point of antiquing - the serendipity of finding something cool you didn't know existed or you didn't know you could use.

(Though I will say, it seems with the rise of eBay and Etsy there are fewer small-town antique shops, and there seems to be less random stuff in them - back before I started my small collects of G1 ponies, I used to occasionally see them in the toy sections of the shops, but now no more. Am wondering if there's a collector/seller in the area who regularly combs the shops or who "picks" yard sales for them, so they don't turn up any more)

But I can still usually find an occasional interesting piece of cut glass, or one of those souvenir plates, or something interesting. Will try to remember to keep my eyes peeled for wall shelves - I need one that will hold my few G1 Ponies (Posey, Bubbles, Heart Throb, baby Surprise, Up Up and Away, Star Hopper.....and also on order, because my favorite shop had a sale - Twice as Fancy Dancing Butterflies and Baby Glory. But I really should stop with those.... though I kind of want one of the "first tooth" baby ponies now, because they are kind of silly looking. And the G1 baby ponies are SUPER cute - they don't have the creepy iris-less eye effect that the G4 ponies have, they are just much smaller and chubbier versions of the adults, and so they are super cute.  Though I'm not sure I like the so-called Beddy Bye Eyes ones, which have those open-and-close doll's eyes; I think I prefer the painted-on eyes that I think of as being "distinctive" of the MLP franchise)

I also need a larger shelf for my Monster High dolls, though I might go to Lowe's sometime and see what they have, because I think it will take a shelf that is maybe 2 1/2 feet long or so to easily house all of them.

It's just relaxing to go antiquing. It's not like clothes shopping, where you have a goal you probably have to meet ("need new jeans" "I have that fancy do to go to so I need a dress") and it can be extremely frustrating if you can't find what you need. And it's not like grocery shopping. Grocery shopping isn't BAD at good times (when the store is not crowded and they've just restocked) but I've found that lately - probably because of budget cuts meaning cut workforce - many stores don't restock very fast and more than once I've gone to the SOLE store in town (the Mart of Wal) that carries a product just to find an empty shelf. (And of course, no one around to ask "Hey, do you have any more in the back?"). But with antiquing - you don't HAVE to buy anything. If you don't see anything you want, you can just smile to the owner and thank him or her on your way out the door. And usually the stuff there is stuff you don't really NEED, but sometimes it is stuff that makes your life happier - like the vintage cookbooks that I like to flip through and sometimes even try recipes from, or the nice old embroidered dresser scarf, or a cute picture frame that will fit that snapshot you have and want to keep.

And yeah. I admit, I am very much a "clutter" person. I like having stuff around. I like having shelves full of books; it makes my house seem more friendly. I like having my toys around me because they cheer me up when I'm sad.

In a chain of clicking the other day, I wound up on an article (someone linked it on Twitter) where a book-lover was talking about this new "art of decluttering" thing where the person (the method is called the Konmari method) essentially tells you to get rid of 3/4 or so of the stuff you own. And that includes books - at her most extreme, she was telling people to dispose of books they hadn't read yet (which seems silly to me: the books I haven't read yet are the ones I will read sometime) and also to even TEAR OUT PAGES so you only keep "the words you like." WHAT?!?! (the person has since backed off of that but honestly? Tearing up a book is vandalism. If you only want a few pages out of it - say it's a poetry anthology - make a photocopy of those pages to keep and then donate the book somewhere)

But, yeah. I don't know. I think in some ways this is another indicator of how our culture tends to be bad at moderation - you have, on the one hand, all of those Hoarders shows (which make me twitch and yes, I really need to go back to my big closet and get rid of all the clothes that either are nearly worn out or that don't fit me well, and I also need to cull books again) but on the other you have people tell you to live in a sterile box and experience everything "virtually."

I don't know. As I said, I tolerate a certain level of clutter - in fact, I like some forms of it, I have stuff all over my walls - souvenir plates in the bathroom, family photos in the living room, inspirational quotes and stuff on the wall over my bed (and also, I think that's where my G1 pony shelf will eventually go). I don't like PAPER clutter - I pay my bills as soon as I receive them because I hate having stacks of those reminding me I have to do them. And as much as possible, once I complete any grading, I take it back to my office (I DO have a lot of paper clutter there, but I don't live in my office) so I don't have to look at it any more. And mail. I get tired of dealing with mail. (I have said more than once that I'd pay an anti-subscription to the publisher if I could stop getting that weekly 'Shopper' thing that's full of classified ads, and if I could put a stop to all the annoying junk mail from car dealerships and quickie-loan places and local furniture stores. Already I've stopped a lot of the catalogs, from places that actually abide by your request not to send things out....). And I can't leave dishes in the sink without feeling very uncomfortable about it. (Actually, having a messy kitchen and bathroom bother me more than clutter in the rest of the house. Germophobia? Maybe.)

Back to the decline of antique shops - I've read that in some parts of the country, the vintage-furniture market is crashing, because Millennials don't want it, or can't afford it. And that makes me a little sad (though I bet that there are Millennials who do like and care about it, just not most of them). I like vintage furniture and when I needed furniture* I tried to buy older stuff as much as possible, because it tends to be better made and prettier and is real wood. And often I find I can get a nicer piece than I could afford new. The "buffet" I use for storage in my dining room is a mid-century piece that cost me $250 plus a delivery charge and I bet I'd have paid a lot more for a comparable real-wood one that was newly made.

(Though maybe if the economy EVER gets better, and Millennials actually gain some spending power, some of them will discover the fun of antiquing....)

(* Except for upholstered furniture. I learned that the hard way when I got fleas from an old chair. I guess I should be grateful it was not bedbugs.)

Another thought: perhaps I find antiquing fun because the shopping represents "possibilities" and the consideration of same: looking at a vintage cookbook, I see the possibility of making some of the recipes in it. Considering an old printed tablecloth, I can think of the possibility of how it would look cool on my dining room table. Looking at a goofy piece of costume jewelry, I can think of the outfits I might possibly wear it with. And so on. And I don't HAVE to buy that thing, I can just think about how I might possibly use it in my life, and then decide if I want it, if I'm willing to pay what it costs or not and find a place for it in my home....

With regular shopping, so often it's "I NEED these things" (laundry detergent or new jeans or socks or vegetables or notebook paper) and so there's not that element of choice there - it's more "Is this detergent likely to contribute to hives" or "do these jeans make me look intelligent*" and there's not that element of possibility - it's more, get in, find what I need, pay, get out. Not as much browsing but seeing as I mostly wind up shopping in big-box stores (because that's what exists here), they tend not to be fun to browse in.

(*Heh, there was a news story - in the typical way science news gets misinterpreted - claiming that women with larger rumps were smarter and healthier, when it really meant that carrying more fat in your hips and thighs, as opposed to your abdomen, MIGHT have an effect on long-term health and possibly memory....so of course I thought of the gag of a woman asking her male partner, "Do these jeans make me look smart?")

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abstract is submitted.

I don't know why but it feels like more of a win to get to the EXACT word count allowed than it is to go one or two words under. It's like winning at Tetris or something.

Wednesday morning things

* Locally, we got lucky. There was a lot of thunder and lightning (I was awake for it) but as far as I could hear, no hail, and the rain didn't sound unusually hard. (I THINK my roof repairs held - I haven't checked yet but I didn't hear any dripping water). Of course, I haven't been outside and I know it was kind of windy. Hopefully there are no limbs down in bad places (like, a big one I can't move myself across my drive).

I think they are saying some of the north Texas towns (Howe, for example) got it a lot worse than we did.

* I'm essentially done with teaching for this semester. Today is student research presentations (which have to be graded, but I don't have to talk) and tomorrow I give a couple exams. And my final exams are written. This is good. This feels good. I mean, I will miss some of my students when they are done - I had a number of good ones this semester - but it's nice to have the pace slack off a little.

* Also, I'm done-for-now with a couple things - I sent in my little research proposal and in early June I go up to Tulsa to present it to the group that hopefully will fund it. It feels good to be moving forward on something. I also just have a few corrections and edits on the abstract for my summer presentation and I can submit that.

I guess the few weeks of crazy working where I stayed over later than I normally did or pushed myself paid off. I feel a little better about the whole post-tenure process that is coming up in the fall because having a paper come out, plus give an on-campus presentation, a presentation at a national conference, and be planning and searching out alternative funding sources for new research is pretty good on top of the teaching I normally do. (And I get pretty good teaching evaluations, and my chair told me that she has heard students counseling other students to sign up for my section of the intro class. I don't THINK it's that I am "easier" - my grade distribution is about the same as everyone else's and I do push to get in all the material (I hear rumors that not everyone does). So maybe I have a talent for teaching the intro students?*)

* I am tentatively considering taking Friday's furlough afternoon and going antiquing as a reward for getting so much done. Sadly, it's supposed to rain/storm again both on Friday and Saturday. I will have to see - if it's another late-night thing, I can still go, but it's not much fun to go out shopping in heavy rain.

* I had to go refill a couple prescriptions yesterday. One wasn't quite ready despite my having called ahead. I had to wait. They have magazines in their waiting area but my choice was to read about turkey hunting or to read about having type II diabetes. (I think they need a third magazine choice there.....) I just sat. (So far I have managed to avoid type II diabetes despite it slightly running in my family so I didn't want to scare myself by reading about it. I know exercise can help prevent or slow its development and exercise is one thing I'm pretty insistent about)

(*Edited to add: oh crud, does that mean I'm Miss Cheerilee? With three daisies on my butt? (even though there's a fan trope that she's actually a TERRIBLE teacher). Speaking of which, I want to start on the Amigurumi version of her some time: a friend on Rav bought me the pattern for her LAST year on my birthday and I've never started her! But I have to finish the gift mitts first)