ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
As some of you may have already heard, last week my car decided it was going to finally turn the niggling little problem that we hadn't been able to nail down into a serious major issue that had to be fixed immediately. Of course, none of it was covered by the limited warranty, and repairing it involved a part that cost $500 all by itself and a complete tune-up, plus considerable labor to identify the problem in the first place, plus five days with a rental car since the aforementioned problem took three days to diagnose and the part had to be shipped from Los Angeles, and there was a weekend in there. When I have a problem, it's got to be a really weird one, of course. And not cheap.

So, hoping to raise a little bit to help ease the sting of this massive expense, I'm breaking out the Tarot cards.

- One-card draw is free.

- $5 for three cards.

- $10 for a seven-card full reading.

Everyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into a drawing. The winner will receive a hand-knit hat made by yours truly.

Feel free to signal boost, etc.

ETA: I am happy to provide answers via PM, or I can do live readings via AIM. (I'm zydratestarling.)

ETA the Second: I've had a lot of responses to this! THANK YOU SO MUCH. I'm working my way down the list, and I will get to everyone. If you have a specific question you would like a reading about, please send it via PM or email. Thank you!









ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
Look at me, all not being dead and stuff!

I have just completed working TEN DAYS IN A ROW, which seems like it should be a violation of some kind of law, but is not because of the way corporations get to define the start and end of a week. So, yeah, eighty hours, no overtime. FAIL.

Because of that, and because my job is a soul-sucking thing that leaves me not wanting to talk to ANYONE EVER at the end of the day, I have spent very little time actually interacting with the internets, and indeed have considered taking a break from reading my dreamwidth at all, because mostly it makes me stressed out.

So consider this an apology for my lack of communication with the world at large.

If there's anything you think I really need to know, please leave me a comment which I will then not respond to or send me a PM which I probably won't respond to either. Or send me a text which I will probably ignore. Except that now I get TWO WHOLE DAYS off that I will probably not spend online.

Really, if you want a response from me... you're better off messaging [personal profile] finch.

Sorry, guys.

Happy Thanksgiving, anyway.
ambersweet: Bubbles on her knees. (Bubbles)
My life in one sentence:

My birthday was wonderful, and the day following it was even better.

An announcement:

Who has two thumbs and a job?

THIS GIRL.

A learning experience:

Sport weight yarn and baby weight yarn are not the same thing, even though it seemed like they should be.
ambersweet: I need help. (Bat signal)
[personal profile] delight is facing some serious problems, including her mother's insurance company refusing to authorize a life-saving surgery, and living in an unsafe place. She is accepting Paypal donations, and [community profile] helpfordelight has been created to help her. I am offering a pair of fingerless gloves, and other people are offering other stuff. Go! Check it out! Bid! Or offer your own skills/creations/etc!
ambersweet: I love my big brother. (& Luigi)
He's singing in the shower. Singing, and when I picked him up after class he looked so happy.

He came up to the car and offered me the thing he'd made today. A twisted hook, that started out as a square rod. Making really is magic.

I'm so thrilled.
ambersweet: Kadaj smiles because he has no idea what's going on. (Kadaj has no idea.)
1. Basic understanding of how the library works AT THE END OF THE SEMESTER will make me happier to help you. If you CANNOT FIND THE STACKS, you are clearly too dumb to live be in college. Also and unrelatedly, how do you get to be in college and not know how to find information on a topic? If nothing else, at least two of the first classes you're required to take includes sections on how to use the library.

2. "First come, first served" means exactly that. It doesn't mean that special you gets a phone call when a room becomes available, even if you're "still in the library" just because you were "here first" when there weren't any rooms available. I assure you, you're very far from being the first person to ask about the study rooms since the last key went out. You want a study room, stalk the board like everyone else. Also, when the room does come in, it wouldn't hurt to be nice to me.

3. It never hurts to be nice to me. I'm MUCH more inclined to go out of my way to help you out, rather than giving you the rote answers, if you're nice about it.

4. Group study rooms are for GROUPS. That means I need to see that you're part of a group before I can check it out to you. Also, not to be a catty bitch, but it's 4:30 in the afternoon; try and wear makeup appropriate for the library in the middle of the day, rather than midnight at the club. Otherwise I'm going to wonder if you didn't wash your face when you came home last night.

5. Because I am not psychic to that degree, I don't know when we're going to have rooms available. I'm not supposed to tell you when they're due back, either, because would you want someone to know when YOUR room was due back?

6. The answer to your question is no. Because I'm really tired of you. Now go away.

Less than two hours into a seven-hour shift. Please kill me now.

ETA: 7. This is not a retail store, you can't request something be pulled and have it pulled within the hour. As it tells you on the web site, it can take UP TO A WEEK. Usually it takes much less than that, but give us 24 hours, for crying out loud.
ambersweet: (Default)
See subject line. We had Thanksgiving dinner with [personal profile] vigilantism, [personal profile] nightmachinery, and [personal profile] tuneinanytime. I made the turkey, they made everything else, which is actually not a bad division of labor at least as far as I was concerned.

I do turkeys Alton Brown style. There are actually two different turkey recipes out there with his name attached to it: one is from Good Eats and involves a huge list of spices in a brine that is mostly vegetable stock, and the other is from his book and is MUCH simpler. Of course, I'm running around like a crazy person last night, looking at the recipe online, trying to gather all the ingredients together, going I KNOW I MADE HIS TURKEY LAST YEAR, I MUST HAVE THESE SPICES IN MY KITCHEN. So I picked up a turkey, an onion, an apple, and a bunch of vegetable stock and then we headed back to the hardware section to get a five-gallon bucket. Last year we ended up picking up a disposable styrofoam cooler, which leaked brine all over my kitchen floor. Not repeating that mistake. We hunt all through hardware and camping goods, and can't find a bucket big enough. The only empty buckets we can find are mop buckets; this recipe calls for marinating the 13-pound turkey in 2+ gallons of liquid. We need a BIG bucket. The employee in hardware turns to us and very sadly informs us that they don't carry them any more. (Apparently they didn't sell? Whatever.) He says that another store had 8 of them in stock earlier, and if we go up to customer service they can call over there and have them hold one for us. I send [personal profile] finch up there while I look for a disposable roasting pan. (I am a big believer in disposable roasting pans. I cook turkeys once or twice a year; I am not going to invest in a real roasting pan that I will have to store 363 days out of the year. Last year I made EVERYTHING in disposable pans, so all we had to do at the end of the meal was throw the dishes away. This decision is why [personal profile] finch is still dating me.)

Anyway, while I'm hunting up the roasting pan, he has the brilliant idea to use a plastic storage bin instead of a bucket. We find one of an appropriate size ("Why are you putting your turkey in that plastic bin?" the woman behind us in the aisle asks. "Let me tell you about Alton Brown's turkey-making," I said. Apparently she roasts her turkeys upside-down to keep the breast from drying out. I can't imagine having to FLIP OVER a hot turkey.)

Eventually, we arrive home with our supplies, and I start hunting around my kitchen for the spices that should be there.

I can't find them.

Frantic, I pull out Alton's book (previously I'd been looking at the recipe online) and realize that he has a TOTALLY DIFFERENT recipe for turkey, AND I have most of the ingredients to make it. It calls for chicken broth rather than vegetable stock, and I have fresh orange juice rather than frozen, but this morning I put together a slightly bastardized version of the two recipes. I also roasted it with half an onion and an apple in the cavity (akin to the Good Eats version) and I rubbed it down with olive oil rather than canola. It worked beautifully.

Got a bunch more rows done on the Seafoam Shawl, a few more rounds on the Beer Gloves, watched pumpkins being hurled across a field on the Discovery Channel, and tomorrow morning I have to go to work. So for now, I'm going to bed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. You are all one of the things I'm thankful for.
ambersweet: Enter the secret garden of my heart... (Open the gate)
Dan Savage talks from time to time about relationships ending, and how our society basically teaches that every relationship that doesn't last For The Rest Of Your Life is a failure. It's unreasonable in several ways, not the least of which is that not everyone is looking for that, all the time, and also because it gives you the feeling when you're walking away from a broken relationship that you've invested "all that time" in something "for nothing."

That's really not true. Sure, you didn't get Forever, but you got other things. You learned stuff, about yourself and about what you need in a partner. You had good times. You had bad times, hopefully different than the bad times you had with other people, because every relationship treats stress differently. (And also the same! Which is why there are relationship counselors and advice columns, because you can extrapolate a little bit from your own experience, and from other people's.) You got time (weeks, months, years) spent looking through someone else's eyes at the world.

So that's far from nothing.

I can't say that I got nothing out of eight years, because I met plenty of people who are still good friends that I wouldn't have if I weren't with her. (Number one on that list is obviously [personal profile] finch! But there are a lot of you hanging out here with me who are ALSO on that list.) I learned things about myself, about what I need in a relationship to be healthy and happy and sane. I learned what would happen to me if I didn't get those things, or I didn't get them regularly, or I didn't get enough of them. I discovered I was capable of all sorts of things, some of them very good. And maybe most importantly, I learned the value of a good relationship.

There was more, about power and control, and creating the thing you fear, and how being afraid of losing something (or someone) can cause you to act in a way that brings that very fear to reality, and some stuff about being the person you are, rather than the person you think your partner wants you to be (so when you stop and go back to being yourself, your partner turns to you and says You are not the person I fell in love with), but I can't make the words go together and I've been staring at this for several hours now. So I'll post it, and you can all talk about it in the comments.
ambersweet: Ramona Flowers with blue hair drinking coffee (Ramona - coffee (blue))
At least I hope not, because I certainly don't have one. Except that I'm going to talk about knitting, because what else do I talk about ever.

Working on the Beer Gloves, and having some problems with the sizing, so I went poking around until I found someone else who had already resized them and I'm starting the second cuff with her adjustments in mind. If I like how it turns out, I'll rip out the first cuff and redo it; if I don't, I'll figure something else out. Knitting! It is a giant game of trying to figure it out as I go. I'm not thrilled with the way the pattern is written, and I'm thinking about writing it out in the way that I wish it were written. But I am lazy, so I might just make notes directly in the book. We shall see. If nothing else, the chart for the palm is driving me insane and I'm not sure I like how it looks finished (based on pictures I've seen), so I may get rid of that section anyway, or alter it a little. ([personal profile] crankyoldman, are you in love with the textured palm?)

Did some thrifting today, but didn't really find anything cool. Took a stack of books and miscellaneous stuff down to Bookman's and picked up the first and third book in Holly Black's faerie trilogy; I really liked the second, Tithe. Normally I don't read out of order but apparently the first one is mostly unrelated? (At least [personal profile] nepenthe told me so. If this is not true I blame her. XD)

We also went to two different yarn stores looking for the yarn for my boss's scarf; The Fiber Factory had Cascade 220 in a gold that I liked (California Poppy), but they only had one skein of burgundy, so we went up to Tempe Yarn & Fiber. They ALSO only had one skein of burgundy! So I ended up getting that skein and then trekking back to TFF to pick up the other. They're different dye lots, but Fred at TYF assured me that Cascade's dye lots were very consistent, and they look the same to me. So it's all good. I also picked up a darning egg, so I can darn [personal profile] finch's favorite socks, so he will no longer be heartbroken.

Afterwards, we went to a very nice coffee shop for some quality NaNo write-in time for [personal profile] finch and some quality homework-and-yarn-balling time for me. This week on Women and Crime: more reasons for me to hate the justice system! This time, it's inadequate health care, and how mandatory drug sentencing hurts children. I'm normally not into the Think of the Children!!! arguments, but when you have a non-violent first-time offender serving fifteen years for smuggling drugs for somebody else, and she has a toddler when she goes to jail? The person who's going to be suffering the most will be that totally innocent child, who cannot possibly understand why her mommy won't be coming home again.

As I certainly can't do anything about the inadequacies of the justice system tonight, I'm going back to knitting. The Beer Gloves, I can help.
ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
Wow, another Friday already? Which means it's time for the Friday Chicken. Chicken!

(For those of you who've played Zelda games, and who've chased chickens around? That's totally why the Friday Chicken amuses me so much. That mini-game in Ocarina of Time and Windwaker where you had to find all the chickens was the BEST MINI-GAME EVER. Throwing chickens, what more could you possibly want out of a video game?)

I'm still doing pretty darn good on all fronts. This week was a tired week, as revealed by my going home and falling asleep on Wednesday, and then taking a (much shorter) nap on Thursday before work. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that I woke up at 9 AM on Thursday because of Wednesday's marathon sleep session, but I needed it and I gave it to myself. Today I'm feeling pretty good, jazzed about going to [personal profile] starfleet's show tonight and meeting [personal profile] nightmachinery.

That glorious green sparkly sweater I bought at the thrift shop over the weekend matches my flowered skirt; I think I've found a new favorite outfit. Incidentally I discovered that I look really good in green. Shallow, but still a plus, and clothes make me excited.

I am glorying in my knitting; I worked on [personal profile] crankyoldman's Beer Gloves on the train, and I'm almost done with the cuff. Magic loop technique is breathtakingly easy, it would be easier if the joins on my bamboo needle wasn't so fussy and I'm pretty sure it's a little faster than fussing with DPNs. I have a couple of projects in the queue, enough to keep me busy, and every single one has a new technique. (Magic loop! Stripes! ARGYLE!)

I wrote a surprise paper, because I thought the due date was next week, but I'm pretty satisfied with it. I gave myself permission to panic about the surprise paper, and then I didn't need to, which was totally awesome.

I'm feeling happy and satisfied and working hard without being overwhelmed, which is fantastic.

Stumbling blocks?

- End of semester panic. That looming fear that it'll soon be over and I need to find a job in this economy and I won't be able to, even though I have actual concrete plans about what to do. Focus on concrete plans! I can always temp, if it comes down to it. I am a star and there is a job waiting just for me if I'm ready for it.

- I'm irrationally worried that I'm going to get myself in over my head and disappoint someone. Acknowledge that this worry is irrational, think about new tasks before taking them on, don't be afraid to say no, and don't make promises.

- Irrational Yuletide fear that I won't like my assignment or won't be able to do it. I think that's related to stumbling block #2. Don't borrow trouble, I'm not going to worry about the assignment before I have it, and last year's terrified me but I did a fantastic job with it. So.

Goals! Last week and next week, here we go:

- I read one chapter for my end-of-semester paper, so basic goal met. +!This weekend I need to do my Women & Crime reading and the reflection, read Bighorse the Warrior and write a journal, and put together some thoughts on "The Man Who Plugged In" (which shouldn't be hard, since I wrote a paper on it!) so that I can facilitate the discussion for Women as Healers. Goal: Get all that done, read two chapters for end-of-semester paper. Bonus goal: Write the critical essay for English.

- I didn't hit my grad school goals. Goal for this week: hit that goal for last week.

- I added to the Seafoam Shawl and finished Ribbed Sock #1. ++! Goal: finish the Seafoam Shawl (again). Bonus goal: Finish Beer Glove #1.

- Bonus overall goal: find/create a Friday chicken icon!

Three goal points for this week! That's something to be excited about.

So that's my Friday chicken. How's yours?
ambersweet: Hardcore knitters do it with DPNs. (Pink sock)
As I said, my Knit Picks package arrived, and the yarn is beautiful, and I've started on [personal profile] crankyoldman's Beer Gloves. I'm using the Magic Loop technique for the first time, which is a lot less confusing than it seemed to be before. Time will tell whether I'm going to stick with it or go back to double-pointed needles. I am one of those strange people who doesn't have a problem working with DPNs, probably because I'm an insanely tight knitter. Anyway, I had a couple of false starts - the first start cast on beautifully, but I used the number called for in the pattern, and I did a couple of rows and went, "That is WAY too big," so I cut ten stitches, which was an odd number when divided in half (that doesn't work well when you're doing a 2X2 rib), so I dropped two more and then proceeded to use the tail for the working yarn for the first row, so I had to pull it all out anyway and then decided that was too small, so I added four back. I've done a round and it looks good, so I'm going to keep going and try it on again in a couple of rounds to make sure it works. Fortunately Cendri and I have similar sized hands (tiny, with long fingers), so as long as they fit me, they should be fine on her.

The most challenging part of this pattern is going to be adjusting it from Man Size to Tiny-Handed Lady size, I think. I've got a couple of inches of ribbing to do before I have to worry about if or whether I'm going to adjust the cable size.

The other exciting knitting-related event was my boss picking the pattern he wants for the scarf he's commissioning from me, and giving me the materials down payment. Amusingly, it's another pattern from the book that the Beer Gloves comes from - an Uncle Argyle Scarf from Son of Stitch 'N Bitch. It's a great pattern book in general, a mix of knit and crochet projects for male recipients. I have several patterns in the book tagged to make for [personal profile] finch, and the Uncle Argyle Scarf was one that I loved that he didn't. So I'm excited for the opportunity to make it, and my boss seems to have a genuine appreciation for handknits that you don't usually see in a) non-crafters and b) men.

So, on the agenda for this weekend is a trip to at least one LYS (Local Yarn Store) to see if I can find some Cascade 220 in Gryffindor my college's colors. My life, it is so difficult.
ambersweet: (Default)
Mostly because I came home from work, lay down for a few minutes, picked [personal profile] finch up from work, lay back down, and woke up at 9:00 this morning. Some days the 3 hours of sleep thing works fine; other days, it doesn't.

In good news, I got my paper finished. Yesterday at my internship was a "hurry up and wait" day, so I re-read the entirety of Ethan of Athos and was thus able to include it in my paper. (If you erase women from your world, you suddenly feel the need to count child-rearing as labor. Amazing.) The paper, incidentally, was about mpreg un-gendering pregnancy, as represented in Junior, Ethan of Athos, and "The Man Who Plugged In," and how the intervention of science leads to the erasure of women. Everything leads to the erasure of women, really. That is my degree in a nutshell.

In even better news, my Knit Picks package arrived! It actually got here on Tuesday, but between my schedule and the office hours, I wasn't actually able to get it until this morning. YARN SO BEAUTIFUL. New needle so amazing. I can't wait to get started. Maybe tonight! We shall see.

Okay, that's all for now.
ambersweet: Kadaj smiles because he has no idea what's going on. (Kadaj has no idea.)
I finished the first Ribbed Sock and I'm now going back and forth debating whether to immediately cast on the second, or finish the damned Seafoam Shawl. After I finished the sock, I got three more rows done on the shawl. I really just need to be working on a project that doesn't feel like the most tedious thing ever. My Knitpicks order should be here tomorrow! So I can get started on that. Except that they'll probably leave the box at the office and I won't be home until after the office closes, so I'll actually have to wait until Thursday. THURSDAY CANNOT BE HERE SOON ENOUGH.

I'm in a weird mental state right now; I'm writing a paper for my Women as Healers class, and I'm still in the transition stage between reading the source material I'm going to talk about and the beginning of the actual writing process. This apparently means that I'm profoundly dissatisfied with every sentence I produce, because I've written this paragraph three times and it still feels awkward. Like I shouldn't be talking about a paper I haven't started? I'm not sure. But the paper is (going to be) about the medicalization of childbirth through the lens of a nurse-midwife's memoir and a science fiction short story about mpreg. (My degree requires reading the weirdest things!) Pregnancy is a very gendered thing, even when it's not.

Thinking about this story makes me wish I had enough time to re-read Ethan of Athos and add in commentary about pregnancy in the Vorkosiverse. Maybe I will do that on the train tomorrow; I'm pretty sure I have it on my ereader (which I cleverly failed to bring to work with me). Science fiction and pregnancy! A fascinating topic.

Poking around, I just found an article on Junior, and now I'm thinking about writing my paper about mpreg. I love this class.
ambersweet: Collage is a joy. (No, not college. Collage.) (Fashion Kitty)
Technically I guess it's Tuesday now, but my philosophy has always been that it's still the same day if I haven't been to bed yet. Otherwise work would seriously screw me up.

We had a good and productive weekend. It was Second Friday, which meant it was Mesa's art walk. We kept running into people we knew, and met the adorable boyfriend of our adorable gay friend, along with another friend of his who LARPs, so [personal profile] finch has a lead on getting back into gaming. The three of them had a briefly impassioned discussion about picking a system for running some sort of game, and whether River from Firefly should be a Slayer, while the boyfriend and I talked about Settlers of Catan and knitting. Everywhere I go these days, I end up talking about knitting; I don't even know what it is.

While we were down there, we discovered a new vintage/thrift/resale type shop, and so we headed back over there on Saturday to check it out. It turned out to be incredibly awesome, and very inexpensive - if an individual article of clothing isn't marked, it costs $2.99/lb. [personal profile] finch ended up scoring a couple of shirts, I got a gorgeous cabled sweater that I'm madly in love with. It's a lettuce-green, cotton/angora blend with a strand of shiny thread plied through the yarn, so it sort of glimmers, and once I get a couple of sweaters under my belt I'm going to try and figure out what the pattern is so I can make another one in a different color. It looks like the least boring sweater to knit in the history of knitted sweaters. There are cables on the sleeves, and the back is totally 2X2 ribbing; the only plain stockinette in sight is the 3/4 of the sleeves that don't have the cables. Plus, gorgeous. I also scored a pretty black Torrid pencil skirt with cherry blossoms on it in red, which was doubly exciting because usually when I find Torrid stuff it's way too big for me. Plus it's a size smaller than what I usually buy, which, when added to the fact that my jeans are loose enough for me to take off without bothering to unfasten them first, does suggest that I've lost weight somewhere.

The most amazing find, though, was a tea set in Zydrate blue. Four cups and saucers and a teapot, ceramic but all in a shiny metallic finish (it totally looks like Z, guys). I HAD TO HAVE IT. The owner almost didn't want to sell it to us because she loved it too. I probably shouldn't have bought it, but it was $15 and I will never see its like again. Also Jack spoils me like a spoiled thing that is spoiled.

The only reason we had any money at all was because we sold Edward the Wardrobe, because I was tired of it watching me while I slept the ex gave us another Expedit and I cleaned out my closet so Jack can actually fit his clothes in there, so everything that was in it got moved to somewhere else.

Edward the Wardrobe came from Ikea, and we bought it as a temporary piece of furniture when we moved into this apartment, because we just didn't have enough closet space. Ikea called it the Kullen. (Dead. Serious.) So, this hulking Kullen that lived in our bedroom got dubbed Edward before he even got assembled. But I'm totally Team Jacob now, so Edward had to go. In the meantime, we've both done quite a bit of decluttering and rearranging, so we really didn't need him any more. Jack put him up on Craigslist, and he went to his new home on Saturday. This is also how I got my Addi Turbo because, like I said, Jack spoils me.

We also made a brief appearance at the NaNo midway party, which was pretty much a dud as a party but was loud and distracting enough that I didn't really get any work done.

Sunday was the Light Rail Write-In, during which I tried out my Addis and got 9 30" rows knitted on the shawl. I worked most of Sunday afternoon and evening, and it was busy enough that the only thing I got done was homework, but today after class I got the last couple of inches on the Ribbed Sock and started decreasing for the toe. I am ALMOST done with the first sock, which is good, because the order I placed with Knitpicks is IN PHOENIX and should be delivered by Wednesday.

Okay, I should really go to bed now, and at least make an effort to get some actual reading done for tomorrow night's class.
ambersweet: Purple knitted scarf, in progress (Knitting)
If I have learned anything from listening to knitting podcasts, it should have been that when you try to knit for a non-crafter it becomes a much more massive undertaking than it should have any right to be. Non-crafters don't understand how difficult things are, so they don't realize when they're asking for something irritating or impossible.

I mentioned previously that someone essentially offered to buy the Seafoam Shawl as soon as I was finished with it. At the time, it was about kerchief size. Now, understand, the pattern for this project came out of a book called One-Skein Wonders. I expected it to take one skein. Granted, I figured out that the yarn was a bit bulkier than the pattern called for, and so it was knitting up denser (and thus making less fabric). I ended up buying a 24" cable needle (because it was the longest needle in that size that JoAnn's had). So, fine, I used 3 skeins on it, knitted until it was longer than my cable needle, fit comfortably over my shoulders. It was a small shawl, but undeniably a shawl. Also I was bored with it. So I bound off, as I mentioned, and took it back to the prospective owner on Friday.

After waiting for her for 45 minutes, she says to me, "Oh, it's lovely, I definitely want it when it's done." I look at her, I look at the shawl. No needles in sight, ends all neatly woven in, very obviously (to me, at least), a finished object.

"It's done," I told her.

She wants it bigger.

So I ended up having to buy a longer cable needle, and because [personal profile] finch loves me, he bought me a 40" #9 Addi Turbo. Addi cable needles are widely accepted as the finest needles on the market. They have the most flexible cable, the smoothest joins, the highest quality needles. Plus, the coating on the Turbos make them the most friction-free needles available - which means they're really damned fast.

Technical babbling about knitting )
ambersweet: Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush! (Go ahead! Panic!)
It’s Friday, so I’m at my internship, which is a non-profit organization that, among other things, contracts with the state government to perform certain tasks. The staff accountant sits next to me, so I overhear quite a lot. She’s really the go-to person to solve problems around here, particularly complicated ones, and I think in part it’s because she’s forceful enough to confront people when it needs to happen, and to point out (often energetically) when something IS a problem that needs to be addressed, yes, in fact, that’s totally wrong and get that taken care of right now. Women are socialized to not make waves, and in an office of mostly women, women in social services, people are willing to let things go even when they shouldn’t.

That’s sort of part of what I’m talking about, but it’s mostly context.

This morning there’s some sort of intradepartmental politics going on, and Accountant D. is at the center of it, identifying the problem, getting an explanation, explaining it to the unit manager (my BossBoss). I don’t know if that’s related to this thing that happened next, but I leave the room and come back about five minutes later, am working again, and Volunteer Coordinator B. comes in and asks D. if she’s okay. She says she’s called her doctor, and she’s going to call her right back. A few minutes later, D’s cell phone rings, and I assume it’s her doctor, because she grabs the phone and her keys and leaves the room. As she’s leaving, I hear her – clearly in tears or just out of them – say, “Oh, I’m – okay.”

OBVIOUSLY THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Also, you’re on the phone with your DOCTOR, who really needs to know if you’re not okay, whether they’re a physical or mental health provider, especially if you called them about the problem you’re having right now.

So I really got to thinking about the culture of “okay,” where you’re expected to answer positively to any inquiry after your state of being, even if you’re not. Maybe especially if you’re not. You’re also supposed to answer on the neutral side of positive; it’s bad form somehow to respond, “FANTASTIC!” to “How are you?” even if you are. This is why I called this the culture of “okay” rather than the culture of “good.” “Good” is still a neutral-positive response; we all have our automatic returns to that query, but it baselines to about the same area. How are you? Oh, I’m good. I’m well. I’m okay. Not so bad. Could be better. Comme-ci, comme-ca. So-so. Operating within acceptable parameters. Whatever.

I realize that “How are you” is a kind of generic small talk, along the lines of, “Sure is hot, isn’t it?” – the kind of thing you the checker asks you at the grocery store. A service employee (probably) doesn’t care how you are; they’re just making small talk while you’re standing in front of them. A customer likes to feel like you care about them even if you don’t. Really, not only does the checker doesn’t care how you are, it’s really none of their business, so a neutral-positive response is okay to give. Actually I like to tell service employees that I’m doing great, because they usually smile. It’s nice to hear someone give a non-standard response to anything, really.

But when you’re talking to a friend, or someone whose job it is TO care for or about you, and you still give that neutral-positive response when the answer is ANYTHING else – in either direction – you’re doing a disservice to both of you.

I could talk about the semi-competitive nature of casual friendship, (especially among the female-socialized; there’s a reason the word “frenemy” has to exist and it isn’t a good one) where a super-positive response might trigger jealousy or anger on the part of the friend – but if you’re worried that someone is going to be upset because you’re doing well, or had a good thing happen to you, even if their life is NOT going well – then they’re not really a friend. Or maybe you need to work on your communication, or (and!) they need to work on their emotional responses. In the polyamory community, they call it “compersion,” the ability to find happiness in someone else’s happiness. I am happy for you. The fact that you are doing well makes me genuinely happier. I wish I were doing as well, but I can at least take pleasure in the fact that someone I have a caring relationship with is happy.

What I’m challenging you to do, and what I want to do as well, is increase the number of people in your life that you answer that question honestly with. Eventually create a circle of friends where emotional honesty is actually not only valued but expected.

More about what this means and what I want to accomplish. )
ambersweet: Ramona Flowers with pink hair (Ramona - pink)
If the Glee cast performed songs like the cover of "Teenage Dream" all the time, I would watch it EVERY WEEK. WITHOUT FAIL. I wouldn't care how bad the writing was, or how problematic or tokenistic the plots were, or how much I hate Rachel Barry how uneven the characterization is. THE MUSIC WOULD MAKE EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT.

That's the kind of crazy I am about music.

My taste in music is catholic and eclectic, and I'm willing to give about anything a try. I have over 39 gigs of music on my hard drive, and that's not everything, just what I've stopped to rip or download. According to iTunes, I have 6,407 songs that work out to 17.8 days worth of music. The only demand I make of my music is that it has to use instruments competently. Not just musical instruments, but the noises you find in techno, and the most amazing instrument known as the human voice. If the band can't play, I'm not interested. If the artist can't sing, I'm - well, I'm actively repulsed. I'm willing to give a little bit of leeway to "quirky" voices - I like (more recent) Bob Dylan, for example - but Joanna Newsom makes me want to stab myself in the ears. (It makes me SO SAD, because her lyric writing is so beautiful. But Joanna, here's a bucket for your tune. Carry it to someone else, please.)

And if you do it right?

There is nothing more powerful in my world than a good song.

I love the way Jars of Clay handles their violins. I love solo piano (but not by Yanni), classical guitar, lots of strings.

I don't get crushes on actors, I fall in love with musicians. I would let Michael Crawford do anything he wanted to me as long as he was singing while he did it. I love bands who've been doing it a long time and are damn fine musicians because of it. Fleetwood Mac. The Eagles. U2. Green Day, after Billie Joe stole my heart at his concert. Jars of Clay, Counting Crows, Matchbox Twenty. Billy Joel, who is not a band. Meat Loaf. (He's also not a band, but who's counting? Well, stop.)

And all you have to do to gain entry to my polyamorous musical heart is get music. It's powerful, it's earthshattering. It doesn't have to be deep, either - I totally love Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry. Lady Gaga makes my heart (and my senses) sing. It just has to make me feel something (happy and wanting to dance? totally something). I love music that seems shallow but really has something to say, like Barenaked Ladies'.

Then there's my Philosophy of Covers. A cover is a relationship that seems familiar but isn't. I have feelings about the song, the way it is. Give me different feelings. Make me think about the song in a new way. Change the world, the song, the music. One of the things I liked about Glee (back to that!) was the way they interpreted the songs. The cover I hate most in the world is the Dixie Chicks' cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Why? Because it's virtually identical to the original. They brought nothing to it. At that point, why the hell are you even in the studio? I love Barenaked Ladies' cover of Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time." (The violins, they kill me.) Butch Walker did a cover of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" that totally changed the tenor of the song. (Normally I don't like covers that change the lyrics; I especially love opposite-gender covers that leave the lyrics intact. Antigone Rising's "Fat Bottomed Girls?" YES.)

I love a good mashup, too. (Especially when they have clever titles.) "Chasing Cars That Way" (Snow Patrol vs. Backstreet Boys) has changed the way I hear the originals. DJ Earworm's "United States of Pop" mixes are AMAZING. I didn't used to like dance remixes, but they grew on me. To be a good dance remix, you have to do more than just add a backbeat, but I've started to really love them. Some of them, at least.

Okay, I think I've rambled enough about music for now. Somebody else's turn.
ambersweet: Making it up as I go along. (Mature pink scarf)
I'm sure you're all bored by now.

Just as a reminder, I'm still taking commissions. They don't even need to be remotely geeky; I'm making some fantastic fingerless gloves for [personal profile] crankyoldman, who is totally my favorite person in the world today. (Sorry, [personal profile] finch. She bought me yarn.)

If you would like to become my favorite person in the world, plus score yourself some lovely handmade items for totally keeping for yourself gift-giving purposes, follow that link above, drop me a note, proceed to party.

Someone asked if they could provide me with materials, and the answer is yes! In that case, it would be 1.5 times the cost of materials. (If you can't remember how much you paid for the yarn, I can hunt it up and tell you what the going price is. If it's discontinued, we'll find something similar for pricing purposes.) (If you got it discontinued at Big Lots for $1/skein, we'll talk. I might use the words "fair market value.")

I'm excited because I'm about to do the last row and bind off the Seafoam Shawl. This was a stashbuster project that resulted from buying some of that aforementioned discounted-at-Big-Lots yarn, a Lion Brand mohair/novelty blend that is pretty to look at and kind of a pain to work with. I understand why they discontinued it. However, it was my first opportunity to work with mohair, so I snapped it up. (I admit that I bought it before I'd been knitting for very long and I also didn't know any better. Live and learn, produce a shawl, move on.) So later on this week, I get to find out whether the woman who wanted to buy it was actually serious about it. (I hope so; otherwise I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.) With this project, I learned some things about breaking the rules of the pattern and ignoring gauge - the pattern called for a worsted weight, and I used a bulky, plus my number of stitches per inch were half again as many as the pattern called for. I went with it anyway because first, a shawl isn't a fitted object; and second, I liked the results I was getting. The original Seafoam Shawl is an open, lacy pattern, and what I produced was a warm, dense fabric that drapes beautifully. I may be repeating myself. Anyway.

I'm also making good progress on my ribbed sock. The yarn is a fingering-weight superwash wool, and it's not spun terribly evenly. It's not difficult to work with, exactly, but the more tightly spun sections are a little more uncomfortable to slide over my finger. I like the fluffy sections more. It's even enough that you can't really tell by looking at it and [personal profile] finch will love it anyway.

I should be working on my icon scarf, but I'm not.

I'm ready to start some new projects!
ambersweet: Ramona's purse (Ramona - side shot)
[personal profile] finch being out of work for three weeks hurt us a lot, to be perfectly frank. We got some help from his parents, which kept it from being fatal, but we're still struggling to catch up, plus we have to pay them back. I'm working two jobs, but only one pays, and that one not much. (One of these days I'll write up my rant about the classism inherent in unpaid internships. This is not that day.)

However, what I can do is knit and crochet, which is something... not a lot of people do? I guess? I'm thinking about turning semi-professional, but I need to try it out a little first.

That's where you guys (and your respective networks) come in.

Is there a handmade project you've always wanted? (Say, a Jayne Cobb hat from Firefly or your VERY OWN Evil Wil Wheaton amigurumi? Sleeves for your Rinoa cosplay? A bacon scarf? A house scarf in Hufflepuff colors?) Do you need an awesome hat, mittens, or scarf for the impending SUPER COLD SEASON? Is your office cold enough to hang meat in, so a pair of fingerless gloves is all that's standing between you and frostbite? Do you need a gift for a family member or friend?

I'm taking commissions. I'll be charging approximately 2.5 times the cost of yarn, which means that it can really be as expensive or as cheap as you want. On the other hand, small projects like hats will use up a single skein (or maybe two) of yarn, so it's a good way to splurge on a nice luxury fiber without breaking the bank.

While my Ravelry page has everything I've done on it, you can only get there if you have your own Ravelry account. I do have a Picasa album that has a bunch of finished projects up, for your inspiration or motivation or to see that yes, I can produce finished objects.

If you want your project by Christmas, it should be either small or crocheted! (Or both!) I am a VERY fast crocheter.

One thing I'm really hesitant to do is sweaters, just because I've never made one before, so I don't want to subject someone else to my learning curve, but if you have something in mind and you don't care if it takes me a while to figure it out, we can talk.

I've noticed, since I've started knitting, that there are awesome (geeky) knit objects EVERYWHERE. I mentioned Jayne and Harry Potter, but did you notice the beautiful fingerless gloves Ramona's wearing in my icon? Penny has a beautiful pair in Dr. Horrible, and the Twilight films are FULL of beautiful knit items.

So, yeah! Drop me a note, feel free to pass this around (please?) to people you know!
ambersweet: This is my favorite book about zombies ever. (Feed)
So [personal profile] renay wanted me to talk about books.

I love books.

I still love books, though English is the degree where they take people who love to read and attempt to cure them of it.

I read all sorts of things, but what I tend to gravitate toward for first-time pleasure reading is YA urban fantasy. Twilight? Loved it. (Except Breaking Dawn, which was always in imminent danger of being hurled across the room.) It's not deep, it's very problematic in a lot of ways (ways that I've written papers and done presentations about!), it is NOT "great literature" by any stretch of the imagination. It's a trashy "beach read" sort of novel, the literary equivalent of impulse-buy candy. If you liked [personal profile] cleolinda's Twilight summaries, you'll enjoy the books. I was in it for the lulz, and there were many to be had.

If you're looking for extremely high-quality YA urban fantasy, I'd recommend Scott Westerfeld. I haven't read anything of his that I didn't like; I especially recommend the Uglies series.

Other books that I love...

My ultimate comfort re-read is Stephen King's The Stand. I do love a good end-of-the-world story. My new favorite post-apocalyptic story is Mira Grant's Feed. I loved that book and I don't even like zombie books. It made me laugh, it made me cry (more than once, and I'm talking great heaving hiccuping sobs, "I don't think I like this book any more!" and then ten minutes later I was reading it again. I got a hold of an ARC and the worst part about finishing was knowing that I had to wait an ENTIRE YEAR for the second one to come out. She makes you love the characters, and then she doesn't pull any punches, at all, ever. For anyone. I haven't re-read it yet just because I haven't had the emotional fortitude to go through it again - but I will. I will. It's sitting on my ereader, waiting for me to be ready for it.

Totally different things I love re-reading - anything by Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery's Anne series, Jane Eyre. Lois McMaster Bujold, especially the first two Vorkosigan books about Cordelia. She's my hero. There are others, but that's what I'm coming up with off the top of my head, and I'm stuck at work, so that's the best I can do.

Talking about books, I can also talk about my e-reader. I have a Sony Pocket and I love it.

Now, I'm a hands-on kind of reader. I love the feel, the smell, the experience of having a physical book in my hands. I never thought I'd want an e-reader. What actually convinced me to get one was school - I had a lot of professors assigning electronic articles, and I have a hard time reading .pdfs of more than ten or so pages on the computer. At the same time, I wasn't about to print all of them out. [personal profile] finch let me borrow his to test out, and I decided that I wanted one.

There are some books that I still will re-read my hard copies of - the Anne series in particular are tied into those physical books. But I'm also a reader. When I would travel, I'd have a bag almost completely full of books, and I'd live in fear that I'd finish all of them before I got home. Now, when I fly, I bring one physical book for take-off and landing, and then as many books as I want in my e-reader. THIS IS MUCH MORE COMPACT, GUYS. And when I'm traveling by car, or commuting, I just have to bring the e-reader. It's totally fantastic.

[personal profile] seventhe has a Kindle, and she talked about all the things she loves about her Kindle, so let me tell you why I chose the Sony.

- It's got an aluminum shell. This was actually one of the things that sold me on my MacBook, too. I like aluminum shells. I like sturdy (or semi-sturdy) electronic devices.

- It comes in colors. Mine's pink. This means that I can't accidentally pick up [personal profile] finch's book, thinking it's mine, or vice versa. (We have enough literary taste in common that this probably would not be an unalloyed disaster, but with my luck it'd be the day he's got his book full of manga or something.)

- It doesn't have wi-fi or instant connection to a store. This is a feature, for me and my wallet. I am not tempted to buy books I can't afford for instant gratification's sake. It's also big enough that I have well over 200 books on it and it's nowhere near full, so running out of reading material isn't an issue.

- Of all the readers on the market at the time, I liked the physical layout of the Pocket best. The page forward and back buttons are in a logical place, and I can't accidentally turn the page by touching the screen (a serious problem with the Kindle software on my iPhone).

- It isn't backlit, and it doesn't do anything but display books (or manga, or pdfs, or whatever). I have plenty of multi-tasking devices; this doesn't need to be one of them.

There are drawbacks to the Pocket - not the least of which is the fact that I can't read Kindle books on it, which is an issue when the largest, cheapest collection of readily available ebooks is on Amazon. But overall I'm pretty happy with it.

QUESTIONS?

April 2013

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