Monday, January 23, 2012

Knit picking



Someone gave my daughter a small knitting doll for her birthday in October. It was an odd little wooden spindle thing that had metal hooks on top that you wound the yarn around to theoretically knot things. The instructions were vague at best and there was no way my five year old was going to figure them out (especially since she can't read). So I set out to master the damned thing.

After several failed attempts, I was rewarded with a tube of knitted yarn shooting disturbingly out of the bottom of the doll. The useless instruction provide no information, however, on what you are supposed to do with the knitted tube once you produce it. So cool as it was to knit something this way, it left me curious about how one actually knits something with real knitting needles that don't involve yarn shooting out of a wooden doll's butt.

So I bought myself a "teach yourself to knit" kit and began to teach myself how to turn a ball of yarn into something useful. Fortunately the instructions were a bit better than the ones for the knitting doll that poops out yarn. I sat down with my needles and a ball of yarn while I was in the playroom watching my children and started following the lessons in the book that came with the kit. I felt pretty smug when I "cast on" the first few stitches. It took me awhile to realize that this was only the prelude to knitting. The next lesson was actually learning the "knit" stitch. This was followed by the "purl" stitch.

For days all I did was practice casting on, knitting and purling. Finally I took the plunge and started actually knitting something. And the simplest thing to knit seemed to be a scarf. So that's what I'm doing, knitting a red scarf for my 5-year old daughter because she wanted a red scarf and she is very forgiving when it comes to what it will look like when it is finished.

I have been working on it for about a week now. And although my speed is picking up as I work on it, I still don't anticipate it will be done for a couple of months. But I have to tell you, as unmanly as knitting a scarf sounds, it is a pretty therapeutic activity, especially when you are doing something like watching your kids fight or watching television.

I watched the NFC and AFC championship games yesterday while knitting and the irony of watching football and knitting did not escape me. Though I remember watching football great Rosey Grier on talk shows openly confess that he knitted in his spare time. And at the time he was a pretty hefty and aggressive lineman. So that gives me some cover.

I also knitted while I was watching the first episode of Spartacus, Vengeance on Starz last night. And if you aren't familiar with the Spartacus mini-series, it is about as violent and pornographic as you can get on mainstream (albeit premium channel) television. The only real downside to knitting and watching football of gladiator shows is remembering whether the last stitch was a knit or a purl. But in the long run, my daughter won't know or care.

Once I've completed the scarf, I may tackle knitting a hat. But I'll probably have to knit another scarf. When my 3-year old son saw I was knitting one for my daughter he demanded I knit him a blue one. Maybe I knit one for his birthday. That will give me about a year to work on it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Buddha


Some would say the Buddha is meditating on the state of enlightenment. I kind of think he was wishing he was in Hawaii instead of in my back yard. I know that is where I wished I was. Well, maybe not Hawaii. Maybe some place in Mexico or the Caribbean. I don't mean to diss on Hawaii, but I wasn't overly impressed when I visited there several years ago. Apparently the Aloha spirit only applies to mainstream tourist parts of the state. If you wander off the beaten track you risk being beaten by the locals who pretty much resent everything about the tourists but their money.

But I digress.

Two days of snow has fallen and is now in the process of melting. And melting snow is about as depressing as a Christmas tree the day after Christmas. It has lost most of it's appeal.

I stayed home the second day of the storm. It snowed the entire day. Fortunately we didn't lose power so we stayed relatively warm except for the hour or so we ventured out to play in the snow and take a photo of the Buddha hunkered down in a snow bank. My kids were thrilled. Though it wasn't the good kind of snow that you can bring a Frosty to life from. This snow was powdery and icy.

After several hours of sitting inside watching children's video tapes and breaking up fights, cabin fever began to set in. I began to really understand the Donner Party.

There is a certain irony in the fact that we feel trapped and isolated when we can't jump in our cars and drive to the local supermarket. Forget that we have telephones, the Internet, television, DVD's, MP3 players and countless other diversions. Human nature is to dwell on the one thing they can't do in a sea of choices.

I would not have done well had I been born pre-20th century.

To show my independent spirit, however, I fired up the grill and cooked steaks and chicken on my deck. Fortunately the snow had stopped falling by that time so all I had to contend with was the freezing temperatures and my kids throwing snow at me while I turned the meat.

But now I am back in the office watching the aftermath of the storm melting and morphing into gray slush on the streets below. Hopefully this will be the only snow storm of our winter in Seattle.

But again, at least we don't live in Chicago. What would we have to talk about except for unseasonably warm weather if it wasn't snowing.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter of discontent


In the land of rain, snow is the great boogeyman. We cringe at the frozen cousin of our normally liquid nemesis. A single flake can shut down schools and reroute buses. A snow storm is the stuff of legends here and the news media scrambles to give them names like Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon.


Everyone here says they know how to drive in snow and the problem is everyone else. The reality is no one here knows how to drive in snow beyond pushing the button on their all wheel drive.

If you really know how to drive in snow, you don't. Because the main rule is don't try to drive up or down a hill. And everything in Seattle is either on top of a hill or at the bottom of one.


Since I work for public transit and take a train into work every day, I don't get the luxury of staying at home because I am snowed in. I can walk to the train station from my home, so unless the trains aren't running, I have no valid excuse to stay home. If the trains aren't running when it comes time to go home I will truly regret my dedication.

I am also regretting my decision to watch a movie last night about mutant cannibals living in the subway tunnels in New York City. It is just a little too similar to what it is like being on a train platform with a bunch of snowbound commuters panicking that they may be stranded in downtown Seattle. I checked the lunchroom refrigerator to get an inventory of what lunches have been left in there in case I'm forced to spend the night and need to ration food supplies. If that happens, there is a jar of olives in there that has my name on it.

I do wish I could be at home with my wife and kids building a snow man and enjoying the fun side of Snomageddon instead of watching buses jack knifing on the roads outside my office window. Chances are the rains will return by Friday and I'll be lucky if I can put together a slush puppy.

Oh well, at least I don't live in Chicago.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm with stupid


The heck with news about the economy, war and disaster, I honed in on breaking news on Yahoo about  a "Man with incredibly weird name arrested in Wisconsin." Now granted, the man, Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, did have a stupid name. But it wasn't as if it was given to him. He changed it from Jeffrey Drew Wilschke.

The man was arrested not because he had a stupid name, but for being drunk, possessing drugs and carrying a concealed weapon. But the real stupid thing about this stupid story was that the journalist (and I use this term loosely) goes off on a tangent about a study out of Canada that shows people with stupid names don't do well in life.

I suppose Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop would probably agree. I can only imagine what he goes through trying to make an airplane reservation on line. Though I don't imagine Zopittybop-Bop-Bop has ever been out of Wisconsin.

I would have never read this story if it hadn't have popped up on Facebook as an article my nephew had just read. So I have to marvel at how the Internet has truly changed my life. A few years ago I would have had to had read about this while standing in line at the supermarket staring at the headlines on the National Enquirer. But I might have missed it even then while being distracted by a story about a boy trapped in refrigerator eating his own arm or a photo of Elvis appearing on a meat locker in Australia (happy belated birthday BTW to Elvis wherever you are).

Speaking of stupid, I wonder what Harold Camping is up to these days.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Another 365 days


Technically 2012 is another 366 days since it is a leap year. But in the grand scheme of things, a year is just an artificial constraint established by mankind to keep track of how long they have before they expire. And come to think of it, it would be nice if we came with an expiration date so we'd less likely fritter away time like we have all of it in the world or horde it for some indistinct time in the future when we think we can enjoy it better.

I imagine there are a great deal of television programs and movies I wouldn't watch if I knew exactly how much time I actually have left. 

But I digress.

I used to do a year in retrospect blog post with snippets of various posts I have written throughout the year. But that was back when I still fancied myself a blog superstar and still harbored the fantasy that I was a hair away from being discovered and going big time. I'm not sure what big time in the blog world actually is, but I was sure it was my destiny.

Ironically, if I were to look at my 2011 year in blogging statistically, I would discover that my most read post was A great authoritative new and positive blog post about you that you can retweet for free. It was merely a semi-scathing review of a book about social media marketing and the top ten words you should or shouldn't tweet to get reposted. And I'll be damned if using those words apparently worked. The post outdistanced my most read post ever about whether or not clams were really happy.

Now I've come full circle to my original comment in this post about people frittering away time like we have all of it in the world. Google, the primary way people end up reading my posts, is a perfect example of people with way too much perceived time on their hands.

One thing I didn't achieve in 2011 was writing my thousandth post. I fell 25 posts short of achieving that milestone. I'm thinking if I time it right, I could write my thousandth post on February 29 and see if I can cause a rift in the space time continuum. Or at the very least I can hope to cause a minor skin abrasion. I doubt it will get the headlines that a chimp claiming to be Tarzan's Cheetah did when it died.

Oh well, one must at least aspire before they expire.