fauxklore: (Default)
I put away the laundry, did the hand washing (e.g. nylons), and even changed the bed linens. The latter is a chore that takes about 3 minutes, but which I can procrastinate on for days.

I am almost caught up on puzzles (with just this weekend’s to do, though that does include a Hex cryptic).

I think I am ready to submit my 2019 ghoul pool list.

Most importantly, I made it to knitting group, which had rather high turnout. I made a lot of progress on an amigurumi project, though the face embroidery still needs to get done, which is always the pain in the ass part. I probably have to search for some suitable yarn or thread for that. (I am being vague because this is a gift for someone who sometimes reads my blog.)

I plan to spend another hour or so on newspaper reading before going to bed.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Ray Thomas sang and played flute with The Moody Blues. Jerry Van Dyke was Dick’s younger brother and acted on such television shows as My Mother the Car and Coach. John Young was the ninth man to walk on the moon and commanded the first Space Shuttle launch. Thomas Bopp co-discovered Comet Hale-Bopp. Interestingly, he was a hobbyist who worked at a factory, not a professional astronomer.

TCC Luncheon: Despite jet lag, I dragged myself out of the house to go to the Travelers’ Century Club lunch meeting in McLean on Saturday. There was a very good turnout and we had to move to a different area of the restaurant. I ran into somebody I met not long ago at Sixth and I there, too. It’s always interesting when different parts of my life intersect. Anyway, there was lots of good travel conversation. But the real reason to go to these things is to be convinced I’m not alone in my obsessions.

JGSGW: On Sunday I drove to Maryland for a Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington meeting. The topic had to do with blogging and how it can enhance your research. That was reasonably interesting, but I wish there had been more examples of content from various blogs and less on the mechanics of the speaker’s own blog. Anyway, I should do more writing about genealogy here and, actually, I will this year because I decided to do the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, which is worth separate entries.

Shopping: I did order both turtlenecks (but not a dozen, and not all black) and tights. I also ordered yarn for a specific project – a crochet-along blanket depicting the solar system. Of course, I am starting out behind, because I just ordered the yarn and it will take several days to get to me. But that gives me time to find where the correct size crochet hook is lurking in my place.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Burt Shavitz had bees (and a related business). James Tate was a poet. Ernie Maresca was a songwriter, notable for "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer." Omar Sharif and Roger Rees were actors.

Thing I Want to Make: I just discovered these toy animals made from sock yarn. They’re knitted in a tube and tied like balloon animals, which is just such a cool concept.

I also want to make these crocheted toys, which are done with hexagons and pentagons pieced together. The stegosaurus and the giraffe are particularly cute.

Of course, I should probably finish the three sweaters and two afghans I have in progress first. Come to think of it, make that four afghans. Or maybe five. Um, yes, I have a short attention span and a lack of time to spend playing with yarn. (I did get some stuff done at knitting group on Sunday, but I spent much of the weekend napping, reading the newspaper, doing a few chores, and did I mention napping?)

Reasons to Retire, Part 9753: The things that are frustrating are often things other than work itself. Today’s top annoyance has to do with telecommunications infrastructure, otherwise known as our internet being deadly slow. How bad? It just took me an hour and 17 minutes to get into my corporate website for long enough to enter my time in my timesheet, a task that normally takes about 6 minutes (and really should not take more than 2).

And don’t get me started on our VOIP phones. I am an old person who believes one should not ever have to reboot one’s telephone.

Weather Whine: We are in the midst of the annual block of 90/90 days (i.e. 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 90% humidity). I have, of course, set the air conditioning to stun, but it is still annoying.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
The Story Surge will get its own entry, but here is some general catching up.

Crafting 1: I did manage to make some hairpin lace. I am now slightly obsessed with it and engaging in a project that I cant yet talk about publicly. If you might want some of the results of it, let me know.

Crafting 2: Margaret Fisher taught an excellent freeform knit and crochet class in association with the Artisphere yarn bomb project. I ran into someone I used to work with there and it was fun to reconnect. (I have since seen her at the main yarn bomb get-together.) The interesting part was that I completely failed to recognize her out of the context of work, until she mentioned somebody else I used to work with.

Crafting 3: Looped Yarn Works was advertising that they'd do another Valentine's Day yarn bombing of Dupont Circle. I went a bit overboard and crocheted 32 hearts, strung together in various ways. That was mostly because this pattern is so easy and quick, with each heart taking me under 5 minutes to crochet. Then the weather sucked and they didn't put them up as far as I can tell.

Crafting 4: I did finish a giant orange circle (made with a doily pattern intended for thread) for the yarn bomb and am now working on knitting a rodent of unusual size.

Food Pornography 1: I went out to a Restaurant Week dinner at Lincoln with a few flyertalk friends a couple of weeks ago. I am attempting to try specialty cocktails and got a Shoemaker's Rickey, which was okay but not enough to persuade me to switch from G&Ts. The mushroom beignets were amazing. Beet salad was a bit disappointing, as there were too many dissonant flavors and not enough emphasis on the beets. Stuffed lamb chops were delicious but came out long after everyone else's third course. Fudge cake for dessert was excellent, as was the mocha custard with it, but the passion fruit gelee on the plate was too sweet. Overall, I would definitely be willing to eat there again.

food Pornography 2: I tried a Wild Ophelia Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips chocolate bar. The 70% dark chocolate was good, but the potato chips mostly added crunch without significant smoky barbecue flavor.

Antarctic Exploration: I went to a lecture at National Geographic. David Roberts was discussing his book Alone on the Ice, about Douglas Mawson. Having read Mawson's The Home of the Blizzard, I can't say that I learned much new, but there were photos and bits of film by Frank Hurley (whose first expedition it was and who, of course, took the iconic photos from Shackleton's Endurance expedition among others.) One new thing I did learn is that Hurley's mother tried to talk Mawson out of taking him along. Anyway, I remain impressed by Mawson's strength and accomplishment, managing to return to his base safely after both his companions died and most of his supplies fell into a crevasse with the first of them. I definitely need to check out the museum exhibit on him when I am in Adelaide in May.

Mileage Running: Yes, I did another trip to add another airport (and some miles) for that United challenge. That one was to Las Vegas. I stayed overnight at the Tropicana, which is now a Doubletree and was kind of a mixed experience. The room was okay but there are shutters, not blinds, and things don't get as dark as I'd prefer. And they charge a resort fee, which is especially obnoxious since some of the things it includes (e.g. free internet) I would get free as a Hilton elite member anyway. The casino there is small and not especially modern, but that is less of an issue since it is across the street from the MGM Grand. But I may try staying downtown the next trip I take out to Vegas.

Ballet: I have a subscription to the Washington Ballet this season. Thursday night (Valentine's Day), I saw L'Amour (love, baby). This started with the world premiere of a one-act ballet based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Laclos (which I read many years ago as part of a class on Evil and Decadence in Literature). The music was by Vivaldi, which is suitable in period but didn't really work in tone for me. The bigger sin - and one which is not uncommon in modern ballet - was sections in which the dancers danced to no music at all. Still, the ballet was reasonably true to the plot of the novel and Jared Nelson was an expressively wicked Valmont.

That was followed (after intermission) by a short piece called Opposites Distract which was my favorite of the evening for its matching of dance to the slightly jazzy, slightly Latin-inflected scrore by Ottmar Leibert.

Finally, there was a piece called Under Covers which featured dancers performing in and around beds to a variety of covers of pop songs. I had mixed feelings about this. Part of that was that I hated the concept of three young Asian women dancing in baby doll pajamas around an older white man. (There was a bit of balance with three men dancing in the dreams of a woman, but the costuming had them in tuxedos.) And, while the dance to it was fine, the cover of "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Johnny Cash was the worst cover of that song I have ever heard. (I don't normally hate Johnny Cash, but this was simply awful.)

So, overall, it was a mixed night, which is about what I expect for mixed ballet programs.

Theatre:I saw Shakepeare's R&J at Signature Theatre yesterday afternoon. This is a provocative play, involving four boys at a Catholic military boarding school who act out the forbidden play late one night. When this was originally written and performed in the late 1990's, the gay aspect would have been far more shocking. Seeing two young men smooching nowadays (as they play Romeo and Juliet) is less controversial, so the issue is mostly one of their setting and their own reactions to their emerging sexuality. The whole thing is done with a fair amount of humor. At times I did find it hard to follow since I got a bit lost as to which of the secondary characters was which. (It might help if I had ever actually seen the actual Shakespeare play.) I also had some issues with the ending, which deals with the aftermath of the night. Is one night enough to make someone reject his entire background? It seems too easy, too conflict-free for Student #1 / Romeo to walk away from his regimented life.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I keep meaning to write blog posts, but then I end up being too busy actually doing things.

This week included the yarn bomb get-together on Wednesday night, at which I completely failed to remember how to make hairpin lace. I looked at a tutorial when I got home and, of course, it is amazingly easy as long as you remember the hook goes in the loop from the bottom. This week for sure.

On Thursday night, I went to see The National Ballet of Canada's production of Alice in Wonderland at The Kennedy Center. It was an interesting evening, but I'd describe it as a triumph of special effects and puppetry, rather than dance. Not that the dance was bad, but the choreography was nothing particularly memorable, while some of the effects were (e.g. the Cheshire cat being done as several puppets animated by black-clad dancers). I also thought it was a bit longer than it needed to be. And I was puzzled by the transformation into a love story between Alice and the Knave of Hearts, which seems to be done largely to allow for a lot of pas de deux.

Saturday night was storytelling. The theme this month at Better Said Than Done was "15 Minutes of Fame." There was an interesting mix of stories, ranging from attempts at stardom to bad encounters with famous people. I told my Jeopardy! story. That got lots of laughs, so I'd say it went well.

And then I did a mileage run, hitting 3 more airports for that United challenge. I flew IAD to CLE (Cleveland) to TPA (Tampa) and back via JAX (Jacksonville). I remembered that my Star Gold card gets me into Lufthansa's lounge at IAD, which was handy since I was actually there during a time it was open. (It closes from noon to 5, so is usually of little use.) I was upgraded on all three of the flights I could have been on, also. (TPA to JAX was on a SAAB 340, so has no first class to be upgraded to.) The catch came on the last leg, when the incoming flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem, leading us to be 2 1/2 hours late. Then we had a long wait for someone to come to ramp and pull us into the gate. I'd taken the whole day off but had actually intended to get caught up on some stuff at home, so I was peeved. Still, I do want them to repair the planes I'm going to be on, so I can't really complain.

I can, however, complain about the shuttle to the Hampton Inn - Tampa. Hotel shuttles don't circulate at TPA, so you need to call. Which would be fine if the front desk clerk had not put me on hold, for 27 minutes. I need to figure out who at Hilton Honors to complain to about that.

Despite such joys of travel, I actually made some future travel plans. The near term one (well, April) involves going to Portland, Maine for Sharing the Fire. This is a storytelling conference I've wanted to go to forever and, for a change, it didn't conflict with anything else. The longer term and bigger plan is a trip to Turkey. Let's just say there are very very good fares to Istanbul right now. It will be on Delta, who I don't normally fly, but I can credit the miles to Alaska Air, which is even more of a win. Oh, I also finally bought my train ticket for the Indian Pacific for my post-OzFest excursion.

So that's the basic catch-up. Now to quietly collapse with exhaustion.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I spent last weekend mileage running. Star Mega Do 4 had this challenge for bonus miles if participants fly to or through 20 different airports on United. While the miles involved are realistically not worth it, its the type of challenge that appeals to the obsessive side of my nature and I decided to go for it. I'd already had three airports in January (since I flew JFK to IAD on United after my return from Israel on El Al and I flew to/from LAX on a business trip). Last weekend was close to a pure mileage run. I flew DCA to ORD to SFO to RNO on Saturday. Things were slightly risky because it looked like the first flight might get delayed, but they went with a shorter turn around time for the late arriving plane and I actually got to Chicago slightly early. I got to Reno about midnight and was flying out (RNO to DEN to IAD) at 6 a.m., so just got a taxi to the Atlantis and killed four and a half hours at the casino, easily staying within my gambling budget). Then there was a mechanical delay with the RNO to DEN flight, leaving me with about a 2 minute connection time, but United held the connecting flight for the 15 or so of us who were on it, so it all worked out.

This weekend was focused on errands. I did a used bookstore run, selling 31 books and acquiring 15. (Part of that was because I wanted to use up some previously acquired credit.) A couple of those books were even ones I had been looking for. I also had to run over to another bookstore to drop off flyers for an upcoming event. And there were less interesting chores like grocery shopping.

Today was knitting group and we were doing a destash sale. The idea was to bring yarn (and books and notions) you no longer wanted and try to sell them to other folks there. In the course of looking for things to destash, I uncovered a baby sweater that I think my mother must have knitted and given me for finishing. (I believe that because I have no memory of having knitted it myself. And because it is pink, though not a horrible pastel pink. And I have no idea who else would have given it to me.) I brought that along and did finish it, as well as finishing crocheting an amigurumi piece. I also knitted a hexagon for the Artisphere yarn bomb, mostly because I wanted to see how a particular pattern would work. I'd brought three skeins of yarn to destash, sold 2 of them, and donated the third (lime green muppet fur) to the charity pile at a local store. I did buy one skein and a pattern book, however.

I still have a ton of things to get done, but at least I had some productive activity. Which makes up for a work week where I felt like I was spinning my wheels, largely because of a couple of long meetings.
fauxklore: (Default)
amigurumiuterus2 by fauxklore
amigurumiuterus2, a photo by fauxklore on Flickr.

Amigurumi uterus. I crocheted this to give to a male politician who needs one of his own, so he won't feel obliged to try to control mine. The consensus of my knitting group is that Ken Cuccinelli (attorney general of Virginia) is the right person to receive this.

fauxklore: (baseball)
Celebrity Death Watch: I have three celebrity deaths to mention. The least famous is Dora Saint, better known as Miss Read. She wrote several novels of English village life. I admit that I haven’t read any of them, but the descriptions I’ve seen suggest I would like them and I’ve made a note to check for them the next time I’m at the library.

Second is Jonathan Frid, who played the vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. This was the only soap opera I ever really got into. One does have to wonder if they might stake him just to be safe.

The most publicized death was that of Dick Clark. Some of my friends may recall that I was on a current events trivia game show he hosted in 1991. Those things go by in a blur but the two things I remember saying about him at the time were: 1) he was much much more personable than Alex Trebek and 2) he wore about 2 inches of pancake makeup. (By the way, I came in second and won $1400, having missed a question about Woodrow Wilson’s second wife’s maiden name. Or maybe it was his first wife. I would not have known either at the time.)

Cool Washington Moment: The space shuttle Discovery was ferried to the Udvar-Hazy Center (the branch of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum out by Dulles Airport) on Tuesday morning on the back of a 747. They did a fly-over around the National Mall and up and down the Potomac. I (and everyone else in my office) watched the passes up and down the Potomac. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me so I can’t add to the plethora of photos on-line. You will have to trust my word that it was awesome.

Miami Baseball Trip: Having been to a game at every major league ballpark requires maintenance. It was easy enough to fly down to Miami to catch a game at the new Marlin’s ballpark. The actual travel down had all the routine annoyances – the inevitable hour delay for my American Airlines flight (though I did miraculously end up with an empty middle seat next to me), the bland (but cheap) rental car complete with poor ergonomics, and an Alamo clerk who was entirely unfamiliar with the local area and gave me directions that led to it taking me 30 minutes to get to my hotel 10 minutes away. A good night’s sleep at an above average Hampton Inn refreshed me and I set out to do some sightseeing.

I’d been to Fort Lauderdale a couple of times and changed planes at MIA several times, but had never actually gone to Miami. The obvious thing to do was to walk around the Art Deco District in Miami Beach and I had downloaded this walking tour from National Geographic, which proved to provide a good overview. My taste in architecture is more subdued, but I do think the style suits the climate and I understand why people like it. And, of course, I am all in favor of historic preservation. It was a bit windy and drizzly, which also cut down on crowds. The rain ended by the time I had lunch and I walked a bit more along the beach before leaving the area.

That left me time for a bit of random driving around downtown Miami before going over to Marlins Park. I prepaid for parking, which made it reasonably simple. I’ll have to rate it in the same group as the better modern ballparks, probably a bit below PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The retractable roof and retractable wall of windows with views of downtown are nice features. The home run sculpture thingy is horrible and wonderful in equal measures but qualifies as local character. I also liked the Bobblehead Museum except for them having Yaz in the top row where he was hard to see. There was a “taste of Miami” food court, though I am still unsure about the idea of ceviche at a ballpark. They get downgraded for having cheerleaders and for a lack of fan enthusiasm, which extended to about half the crowd not even bothering to get up for the seventh inning stretch. Admittedly, the team did not give them a lot to be enthusiastic about, with Carlos Zambrano walking three batters in the first and Heath Bell blowing a 4-1 lead in the ninth, aided and abetted by Logan Morrison’s fumbling of a fly ball. The only Marlins player who I was favorably impressed by was Emilio Bonifacio. Not that I was really all that impressed by the Astros, either. This was a game that fell into the “I don’t really care who wins” category, allowing me to focus on the quality of the play, which was barely up to major league level.

I also want to comment briefly on people watching, which is always entertaining. There was a woman a few seats away from me who appeared to be a poster child for bulimia. She was quite thin but ate three entire pizzas and some sort of chicken nuggets and fries. It was fascinating to watch in a bizarre and disturbing way. Another woman, sitting more or less in front of me, spent the entire game alternating between reapplying makeup and what I can only describe as attempting to arrange her boobs inside the very short dress she was wearing. I can only imagine what the (male) partners of these two women were thinking.

By the way, my flight home was oversold and I thought about volunteering to get bumped. But I had gotten up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport and getting home for a nap was a higher priority than a $300 voucher. I consider this a sure sign that I am getting old.

Knitting Activism: I did not actually take that nap (except for a brief one on the plane) because there was knitting group to go to. I finished the body of the amigurumi uterus and crocheted one fallopian tube, inserting a pipe cleaner for shaping. I figure there is about another hour or so of work until it is done. The idea is, of course, to send it to a male politician on the grounds that if he had a womb of his own, he might stay out of mine.
fauxklore: (Default)
I should be writing a quarterly update on the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, but I've made so little progress on them that setting that down would only frustrate me. Most of that is because of just having had such a crappy start to the year, between splitting up with Robert and dealing with a couple of health issues. I complain enough about other people kvetching that I have no desire to spend my time doing so myself.

My fundamental philosophy of life amounts to, "if what you're doing isn't working, do something else." And that is exactly how I have been trying to deal with all the stress of the past few months. I will also note the effectiveness of the heartbreak diet. That is, if you're too torn up to have much appetite, you can lose 25 pounds surprisingly easily.

My other way of dealing with things is, of course, to go out and do fun stuff. This weekend it meant a trip up to Philadelphia for an art-filled day with my friends, Megan and Jack. We saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was organized in an unusual way. There's a room for blades of grass, a room for wheat, a room for trees and undergrowth, and so on. I'd say my favorite piece in the collection was the final one, "Almond Blossoms." I also speculated on what Van Gogh would have done had he ever been transported to Iowa.

While at the museum, we also checked out "Nude Descending a Staircase" by Marcel Duchamp. This has some personal significance as seeing it (in a book) changed my view of modern art. I had the epiphany that the key word was "descending" and that, if you look at it as being about the movement, it makes sense. So seeing it in person was well worthwhile.

We also saw an impressive photographic exhibit by Zoe Strauss. Her photos cover a wide range of working class experiences and I was particularly impressed by her portraits. We then chased down a few of her billboards, which are being exhibited in a wide range of places throughout Philadelphia.

After a stop for lunch at a brewpub, we visited a couple of exhibits that are part of Fiber Philadelphia. The Handweaver's Guild show was relatively conventional, with my favorite pieces there being a few needle felted birds and a set of temari balls. An exhibit at the Crane Arts Building, titled "Outisde / Inside the Box" was quite different. My favorite pieces at that one included a story quilt by Jenny Iserman which told about women who had been murdered by their husbands and a set of humanoid figures by Brigitte Amarger that were made of x-rays stitched together.

Next came coffee at Higher Grounds in Northern Liberties. Finally, we went over to South Street and the Magic Garden, which is a fascinating mosaic project, before they dropped me back at 30th Street Station for my trip home. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

Today's artwork was limited to knitting group, where I crocheted half an amigurumi uterus.

And now I need to get caught up on household paperwork. I'm hoping the next few months will improve.
fauxklore: (baseball)
First, I did get around to uploading photos of the Dupont Circle Valentine's Day yarn bombing.

About the only significant thing I did the week before leaving was go out to dinner with the D.C. flyertalk crowd. Well, actually, there was someone visiting from northern California, but I see her on the East Coast all the time. There was one new person and I hope we didn't scare him too badly. We ate at BTS, by the way, which is a trendy burger joint in Foggy Bottom. I thought it was quite good and they have an excellent beer menu, including Big Daddy IPA. But the conversation is really the point and that was, of course, excellent.

I can get a piece of paper off my desk if I mention that my immediate reaction to seeing a "kangaroo wallet" in a catalogue was to speculate about what kangaroos have that they can't just carry loose in their pockets.

As for celebrity death watch, I can't say much for either Andrew Breitbart or James Q. Wilson other than that the latter was at least a more thoughtful and more civil Conservative pundit. But I can recycle a pun for Davy Jones and sing, "I'm a bereaver."

I have a couple of non-celebrity deaths to cope with, too - a friend's husband and a colleague. There is also the imminent demise of Melody Records in Dupont Circle, a place that has been way more responsible for exercising my credit card than I care to admit.

In more positive news, Fenway Park has been declared a National Historic Site! Yay! I should also mention the retirements of Tim Wakefield and of Jason Varitek. Tek, in particular, was one of my favorites for many years, probably because he played his entire major league career for the Red Sox. I wish him (and Wake) well for the future.

Speaking of baseball, I now have a ticket to a game at the new ballpark in Miami. No, I'm not obsessive, no, not at all.

Finally, I read today that the Grim Reaper walks at 2.4 miles per hour. (Before you ask, I've already forgotten where I read it, but if you insist I will claim it was an actual scientific reference.) I hope that is referring to flat terrain only.
fauxklore: (Default)
Let's see, I was halfway through the weekend before last. On Sunday, I went to see Really Really at Signature Theatre. This is a new play, written by a 26 year old wunderkind. It deals with the aftermath of a very drunken college party and is, essentially, a "he said, she said" date rape scenario, punctuated by the reactions of his and her friends. (More precisely, it was "she said, he was too drunk to remember what happened.") There are reasons not to trust any of the people involved, as well as implications that a difference in social class is a contributing factor. That was all pretty interesting, but the play didn't quite work for me for two reasons. One problem was that the ending removed the ambiguity and seemed to be done that way entirely for shock value. My bigger issue was that there was nobody to like.

Monday night, I went over to Looped Yarn Works in Dupont Circle. Along with The Phillips Collection, they were yarn bombing the area. We knitted and crocheted hearts (I crocheted four) and hung them around the area. You can see a little of the result at the Phillips blog entry. (I have some pictures but still need to upload them. And I am having internet issues at home, so it may be a while.)

And Thursday night was an MIT Club of Washington event at the Turkish embassy residence. The building is truly spectacular. It was built for Edward H. Everett, who made a fortune by inventing a machine to make crimped bottle caps for soda bottles. He gave free reign to the architect, George Oakley Totten, Jr. The result has lots of polished wood, marble, stained glass, original art, and pretty much everything you associate with rich people. There were the usual talks (one by the Deputy Chief of Mission, who was quite entertaining, and one by an MIT professor, who was less so) followed by a dinner of finger foods (miniature kebabs, domades, cheesy things, etc.) And, of course, the opportunity for conversation with intelligent people, which is the main reason I go to these things.

I went away for the weekend (to Las Vegas) but that will be a separate entry.
fauxklore: (Default)
Most of this delay was because one of the things I did this past weekend was take some pictures. See, there was a Volksmarch to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival and I braved the unwashed masses of tourists to walk around D.C. with a camera for a change. It was a particularly enjoyable walk, across the mall, around the tidal basin, and up to the Botanic Gardens and the Capitol.

After that route, I made my way over to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and (finally) took some pictures of the completed Smithsonian Community Coral Reef. I added them to my coral reef set on Flickr.

I was intending to insert some photos here, but that function doesn't seem to be working, presumably due to the DDOS attack.

I came home and got some errands done, then went to a story swap in the evening. I used that as an opportunity to rehearse one of my stories for the Kensington Row Story Salon. There was the usual wide range of material and good conversation over snacks afterwards. Ralph is championing the need to revive the art of narrative poetry and we discussed that, which led to talking about sequels. That, in turn, led to a discussion of Flanders and Swann.

The major event of Sunday was seeing And the Curtain Rises at Signature Theatre. This is the most recent product of the American Musical Voices Project, which funds the development of new musicals. The story involves the development of the first American musical, The Black Crook in 1866. The show starts as a dreadful melodrama, Return to Black Creek but the producer takes advantage of a ballet troupe (living in the theatre after being burned out of their own venue) to create a spectacle. There are a few love stories woven in. The show was reasonably diverting, with a few genuinely funny moments, but the music was utterly forgettable. Still, it's good to encourage new musicals to be written and, with some work, this could be a nice second tier show, i.e. the sort of thing that gets done by summer stock companies and high schools.

By the way, I renewed my subscription to Signature for next season.

As for the week, I've been surprisingly productive at work during most of it. Yesterday was the exception. Because I was telling stories in Kensington after work, I drove in to work. And Neptune decided he needed new shoes about halfway to the office. That is, my car (called Neptune because it's a blue-green Saturn and I am a space geek) got a flat. Fortunately, I was reasonably near Sears. And I knew I was going to need new tires soon, so I just got all 4 replaced. Given that Neptune is 17+ years old and the previous tires were only the second set, I can't complain too much. (I also got new front brake pads, while I was at it. I knew that was coming up soon and I figured it was easiest to do it while the tires were already off.) This is why I have a reserve in my budget for contingencies.

I also had a return of my phone issues at work. In short, our building manager has now managed to disconnect my phone twice. While there is an advantage to the phone not ringing, there are times when I need to call people and it is a lot more convenient to do it from my own desk. At least this time, she knew how to fix it herself and didn't have to wait three days for Verizon to come out.

Then there was the joy of driving to Kensington after work. I have finally figured out how to get there without getting lost. (Let's just say that Arlington road signs leave something to be desired.) But there was an accident on the GW Parkway and another slog on the Beltway. All of the times I've gotten lost getting to Jane's house actually helped me there, since I knew how to get across Bethesda on surface streets. That was important since it also let me buy gas. And I got to Kensington on time.

The storytelling went fine. Liz started, with a mixture of personal stories and Hindu myth, plus other snippets about creating stories. I attempted to be seasonal, with a bad pun involving baseball. I followed that with my piece about my father's less than literal translations of the Passover Haggadah. Then I did some material from my "Fortune, Fools, and Fowl" program. That included an Armenian folk tale, a Bill Greenfield story, "Why I'm Not a Millionaire" and a couple of short poems about chickens. And, yes, I had my rubber chicken out, as sort of a prop, though there was not really a good place to put it. Overall, I had lots of fun and got laughs in the right places (and groans in appropriate ones).

Not Cake

Oct. 18th, 2010 04:50 am
fauxklore: (Default)
This is one of my hodegpodge entries - basically everything but cake.

Follow-ups: Ron solved the mystery of my "303/357" note to myself. That's a battery size and I wrote it down when I needed to replace the batteries in two of my travel alarm clocks.

I solved the mystery of "3200-11" myself by (duh) googling it. It's a DoD Instruction having to do with test ranges.

I also did a bit of research on "boughten" and found it is northern U.S. dialect. I will note that I use it only as an adjective and almost entirely in relation to food items, though I could stretch to referring to a boughten sweater (as opposed to a hand-knit one).

Sometimes the headline says it all: "Car eating rabbits invade Denver airport." The story explains that the rabbits eat soy-based wiring found in some late model cars.

Weird thing to wonder about: Suppose a transsexual decides to convert to Judaism. What would an Orthodox rabbi do? I am, of course, assuming the person's history is known to the rabbi, but the question becomes harder in some ways and easier in others if it is not.

Fun with names: I was amused to learn that one of the largest manufacturers of glass for the defense industry (e.g. in night vision glasses) is Schott.

Celebrity death watch: I am slightly annoyed (though not at all surprised) that Barbara Billingsley (who played June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver) got a lot more attention than Benoit Mandelbrot (who did much of the key mathematical research on fractals).

Story swap: I went to the Voices in the Glen story swap at Michael's on Saturday night. There was a reasonably good turn out and the swaps are always fun. A particular highlight was hearing Eve's son, Jonathan, tell "Birds of America." I also enjoyed Bill's story about Elizabeth Bathory.

Coral Reef Update: The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit is open at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! It was supposed to open on Saturday but there was a water main break on Constitution Avenue, so the museum was closed. I saw the reef yesterday afternoon and it is lovely. The community reef is the biggest part of the display and is huge. I was able to find some of my contributions. And my name is spelled correctly on the plaque, which is always a plus. The exhibit runs through April 24, so you have lots of time to check it out.

USA Science and Engineering Festival: The inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival is next weekend. There will be booths on the National Mall and around Freedom Plaza and Wilson Plaza and in the Mellon Auditorium. I'm volunteering and will be at the Mellon Auditorium info booth all day Saturday, so stop by and say hello if you're there. And you should be there. It looks like there are a lot of cool interactive exhibits and plenty of performances on four major stages and several smaller ones. (In case you are wondering how I came to be involved, the call for volunteers went out to a local MIT email list. I went to the volunteer training yesterday, which is why I was already in the city to check out the coral roof.)

Amazing Race: I haven't been to Kiruna, Sweden, though I've been to Sweden and I've stayed at another Ice Hotel (in Quebec). My wrap-up is behind a cut since some people may not have viewed the episode yet.

Read more )
fauxklore: (barbie sweater)
There was a workshop at the Museum of Natural History this afternoon on curating the Community Coral Reef, which will be part of The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit. I went down and dropped off the last of my contributions. I saw a couple of people I know from the group at one of the local yarn stores. I also got to see some interesting pieces other people made, e.g. one made from yellow caution tape.

It looks like the process of putting together the community reef will be interesting and challenging. This has been a very fun project ot be involved in. And, as I have said before, how often does one get to make something that will be exhibited in the Smithsonian?

If you are interested in what my little bits of this look like, I've overcome my resistance to flicker and uploaded photos.
fauxklore: (Default)
I got an email from a local yarn shop in which they indicated a group would be meeting weekly there to work on
The Smithsonian Community Reef portion of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. I've been intrigued by the reef since I first heard about it a few years ago and how could I possibly turn down the opportunity to create something that will be displayed in the Smithsonian? So I went to the group on Tuesday night, crocheted a hyperbolic plane, and enjoyed it immensely. I will, of course, try the other two basic forms before experimenting further. It's a good way to use up bits of yarn, too, especially since cheap acrylic actually works best for this sort of thing.

I also got a request in my email today to review a storytelling fringe show for a journal. The interesting parts are that: a) it was a show I was considering seeing, but did not buy tickets to because my schedule is pretty full and it just missed the top 6 on my priority list and b) the editor of the journal is somebody I know quite well from my Los Angeles days.
fauxklore: (barbie sweater)
Last year, I'd taken classes pretty much the whole time I was at Stitches and complained that I felt rushed in the marketplace. So, this year, I only signed up for one class a day. I wasn't able to sign up right when registration opened, so some of the classes I was interested in were sold out. But I still found plenty of things I was interested in.

My Thursday afternoon class was Edie Ekman's Crochet: Buttonbands and Buttonholes. This was pretty straightforward and I could have learned most of what there was just from the handout (although it had a couple of errors). There were a couple of interesting ornate buttonhole / edging patterns, so it was worthwhile. The most useful part of the class, however, was her explanation of charted crochet patterns which I admit I've shied away from.

On Friday, I took A Sampling of Stitches from Margaret Fisher. I'd signed up for that class largely because I'd really liked her Entrelac class last year. This was also an excellent class. She went over four categories of stitches and we worked swatches in each. The smocking stitches were very straightforward and easy. The twisted traveling stitches were complex, but I felt like I came away with a basic understanding of how to follow the charts for them. The most useful part of the class was her explanation of brioche stitch patterns, which are written in a very non-intuitive way. Finally, she had us do some elongated stitch patterns, which turn out to be easier and more fun than I would have expected. In fact, the seafoam pattern stitch she provided is perfect for some yarn I bought last year.

Ann McCauley's Movement for Knitters on Saturday was disappointing. Other attendees seemed more into it, but I had been expecting more practical ergonomics instead of a bunch of new age claptrap about things like holding your fourth finger to alleviate fear. (The class was focused on a Japanese bodywork modality called jin shin jyutsu, which is related to shiatsu. Had that been clear in the class description, I'd never have signed up for it.) Overall, this just wasn't my sort of thing.

Fortunately, the class I took this morning (Laura Bryant's Fake Short Rows) was excellent. The technique is related to the elongated stitches I'd learned on Friday and looks like a good way to make interesting, drapy scarves and shawls (and edgings). It was easy and fun and I suspect it will be very helpful with using up some of my stash.

Speaking of stash, I did add to it in the marketplace, mostly because I can never resist buying small amounts of various exotics. In particular, I couldn't pass up a yarn made from silk and stainless steel and another one that contains jade. There's are also some bison, yak, and camels joining the sheep and alpaca herd in my den. And I bought a few patterns and a pair of square circular needles (which I've been curious about for a while). Overall, however, I was fairly restrained. For example, I did not buy any quiviut. And I bought only one skein of Lamb's Pride (my favorite wool yarn) despite it being just $4.50 a skein. (Admittedly, I have pretty much an entire box of it in my den already.)

Finally, I went to the Saturday night banquet and student fashion show. The food was surprisingly decent for convention center banquet catering. The fashion show went on a bit long. If I ruled the world, I'd limit people to showing just one piece, or possibly two. There were some beautiful items, but there were others that seemed fairly ordinary to me. And some things - like intricate lace - just don't show up well at a distance. At the end, they gave out bags of goodies to each table. You were supposed to distribute things in a particular order, but our table ended up trading amongst ourselves. Given my liking of exotics, nobody should be surprised that I traded a kit for fingerless gloves away in exchange for a skein of milk yarn (80% milk, 20% wool and, no, I have no idea how they make that).

Now, all I need is some time to actually sit down and knit (or crochet).


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