Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Summer's almost over

* Well, for me it is. Yes, I know that "meterological" or whatever-you-call-it Summer isn't over until the fall equinox around September 21, but today is the first day of required meetings for me (classes start on Monday) so it feels like "summer" is over. Not that I had much of  a vacation and this summer felt harder than some of the ones in the past - I think summer teaching is something I'm getting a little old for. My classes were good and several of the students told me they appreciated my teaching "anyway" even though they knew I was getting paid little for it, but I'm still tired.

I will be happier once we manage to start getting a few real cold fronts through to give some change in the weather. Supposedly we will drop into the 90s (how sad is that that that seems like a relief?) on Saturday because of a "cold" front. The cold fronts I want are the ones more like those sometimes called "blue northers" that bring in not just MUCH cooler air, but drier air. The humidity really got to me yesterday; we had a dewpoint in the mid-70s.

* Horsey McHorseface has his front legs and I started on the first back leg. I'm still trying to decide whether to give him blue or green eyes. Also trying to decide what kind of manestyle a stallion would wear. Not bangs, I guess. (Horsey's backstory is that he is a sprinter/track-and-field star. He's smaller than the standard stallion, which is why he's so fast. So I don't know if a short aerodynamic mane is in order, or a longer, more "photogenic" mane - I also picture Horsey as maybe being just a tiny bit over-fond of his fame and the attention it gets him)

* In my re-reading of "The War That Ended Peace," I hit the part where they discussed the Dreyfus Affair. (They go back in time a couple decades before the war to trace some of the threads that led up to it). I remember first learning about this in high-school French, partly because of Emile Zola and J'accuse! but I think partly because the teacher wanted us to understand that anti-Semitism had been a thing throughout much of Europe and that it had started before the 20th century. Essentially, Dreyfus was falsely accused of selling French military secrets to the Germans (another man - Esterhazy - was the actual guilty party). He received a kangaroo trial, was sent to Devil's Island. This happened probably partly because Dreyfus was Jewish - and therefore, conveniently, an "other" in France, but also because he was Alsatian, and Alsace is one of those places that's ping-ponged back and forth between France and Germany for a long time, and so he could perhaps be seen as having ties to the Germans.

At any rate, what struck me was this: Dreyfus' family eventually managed to persuade the Powers That Be to bring him back for a second trial. At that time, French society - at least that part of it with the leisure to pay attention to such things - split into the Dreyfusards (like Zola, those who believed Dreyfus innocent) and the Anti-Dreyfusards, who believed him guilty (and generally these seemed to split out on left/right political lines, though there were other factors in play).  And apparently people were "expected" to take a side - for example, the book I'm reading noted that Monet was a Dreyfusard, Degas an Anti-. Of course the truth is that French society was *already* divided and this was more or less a symptom of it. (The Third Republic, the system of government, was weak and tottery, too). And even the second trial failed to acquit!

At any rate, at least justice was EVENTUALLY served here: Dreyfus was pardoned later by the President of France, who didn't want there to be a third trial. Dreyfus was reinstated to the military and actually served in WWI (though as a reserve officer; I don't know if it was due to his age or the fact that his health was somewhat broken after his time on Devil's Island). He survived until 1935....

But I got to thinking: how the Dreyfus affair would play out if social media (as we know it now) had existed back then. There'd be a #freeDreyfus hashtag activism movement, there might be doxxing of the Anti-Dreyfusards by the Dreyfusards or vice versa, there'd be a lot of name-calling. And because of how humans are, neither group would come off all that well, even though you could argue the Dreyfusards were the ones in the right and who had truth on their side....I still think name-calling and the like diminishes a person, even if they are on the "right" side of an issue.

And then I realized that sort of a proto-version of all that happened (Zola wound up going to trial for what some in the military claimed was libel) back then. And you know, I never know quite how to feel about that sort of thing - I feel much the same as I feel when reading Paul's letters, for example. There is a mix of relief and frustration. Relief, in that "We really aren't that much more awful now than we were then; people did horrible things in the past and the problems we have now aren't that much more complicated than the past" but also frustration: "Haven't we learned anything?"

(And yes, sometimes I do suspect that anti-Semitism is coming back - or perhaps, more likely, that the expression of such sentiments is once again becoming more tolerated. And I confess: the other day I was wondering if maybe in a few months I'd decide to give up my self-study of German lest it be taken as a signifier of something that I don't WANT it to signify. Sigh. Humans get me down sometimes, you know?)

There's also a good Paul Muni movie called "The Life of Emile Zola" that refers to the whole Dreyfus Affair - it was on TCM a few years back and I watched it.

* And I have to add: hooray again for Webs. I came home yesterday afternoon to a puffy bag in my mailbox containing the three replacement skeins. Same dyelot and all. So now I have enough for a cardigan, and I have decided that it's going to be Harvest (that's a Ravelry link but I think even non-members can view the patterns now). Yes, it's a "learn to knit" type pattern but I really like nice, simple designs. I MIGHT modify it slightly to allow for a button loop right over the bosom and get a single, large button so I can have it held closed if I want to. (The pattern shows it being held closed with something like a hairstick, which would be impractical in the classroom. Though then again, given the risks we teachers face, maybe having a pointy stick on my person might not be such a bad idea)

I'm working away on Raven and want to AT LEAST finish the back before I undertake something new, and I am contemplating using my 'quiet time' this weekend to start the second sleeve for Hagrid with a view to getting THAT done some time....and the little Alpine style vest I bought the blue yarn for a couple weeks ago is the next-up project....but eventually I want to start Harvest; I think it would make excellent invigilating-knitting as it's a fairly simple pattern.

And yes, I am decreeing Sunday afternoons from now on as "quiet time" - I am going to strive to stay off the Internet, to avoid news-type shows, and to use that time to either knit or hand quilt or sew on quilt tops. I have SO MANY supplies ahead and I really want to start turning them into Useful Things.

and yeah, both because of the customer service they have given me, and because they frequently have deeply discounted "special" yarn, Webs is going to become my go-to online store for "big" volumes of yarn (like for sweaters). I can get sockyarn myraid places (Quixotic Fibers, which I've decided is going to be a periodic destination because I need fun-out times and I want to help keep them in business, has lots of it, and also Loopy Ewe, and also Simply Sock Yarn, the last two being online sources I've used with great satisfaction over the years). It's a little harder to find a good source for worsted or dk and unfortunately with inflation, some yarns are climbing out of my price range in sweater-sized quantities. (Or maybe I make more fingering weight sweaters: they take longer to knit but also they tend to require less of a mass of yarn. Or so it seems: it takes about 700 grams of a dk weight to make a cardigan for me, and maybe 400 grams of fingering weight. And often fingering weight, as it's in 100 g put-ups, seems more economical to buy. (And sometimes IS, if you can find a really good deal). But sometimes you NEED a dk weight  (which can be hard to come by in just a regular craft store) or a worsted-weight. (There are a few OK craft-store worsteds: I can get Paton's Classic Wool, which isn't luxurious but is perfectly serviceable, and Wool-Ease, which I know some yarn snobs disdain but which I rather like and which is actually the yarn that got me back into knitting after years of only being exposed to coarse acrylics. And there are a few specialty yarns; I know for a while Vickie Howell had a line out that was at least partly wool and I have some of it in my stash, some for a cardigan that was in Simply Knitting....I really need to go through my stash and re-find the things I bought a couple years ago that filled me with delight then but that I tucked away and kind of forgot.)

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