30 April 2008

Trouble for pigeons

Look at this terrible bit of news from National Geographic... someone is shooting darts at downtown Seattle pigeons.

One time last month I was downtown, and I saw one of these pigeons with a dart in him - it looked like a piece of wire or a needle, stuck under his beak right through the top of his head. At the time I wasn't sure if it was accidental or not, and I hadn't heard that other such case. He flew away before I could get a closer look, and he didn't seem impaired in any way. But it was a very unfortunate thing to see. It was on the first day of spring, too.

28 April 2008

That button on my messenger bag? Oh, just my diploma.

I just graduated, and I think I have to wait a few months before I get my diploma in the mail. I haven't seen them before, but I heard that my university's diplomas are small - like half the size of a standard piece of paper. A little scrap of credibility!

A while ago, some of my coworkers were receiving certificates from a training session they attended, on the subject of back health in the workplace. You know, lift-with-the-knees kind of stuff. I saw some of these rinky-dink certificates pinned up on people's cubicle walls, names printed in some swoopy font to simulate significance, and I started thinking they should get really heavy, ornate gilded frames to display them in. Huge frames, to completely dwarf everything else on the wall.

That's not the kind of thing I want for my diploma, though. I almost want to go in the opposite direction: if it's going to be small, why not pocket-sized? Maybe I want a little laminated card version I can keep in my wallet. I can't really see myself ever displaying my diploma in a frame if it's going to be small and underwhelming - but what if I had the kind of options a photo printing shop would provide? Diploma mug? Diploma keychain, diploma mousepad... diploma T-SHIRT? Exciting, utilitarian options!

27 April 2008

I'm just linktastic today

M. Giant over at Velcrometer posted this adorable account of his 3-year-old son's theatrical turn in a daycare version of The Wizard of Oz:
"M. Small came out, not crying but grinning shyly, sporting a silver snowsuit and an aluminum hat. He was supposed to say, "Oil…can" through frozen lips, but instead he came over and quietly hugged me in an egregious violation of both the fourth wall and his character's alleged lack of a heart, not that I'm complaining about either one."
OMG! My own heart just exploded.

25 April 2008


My last day of work at my old job was on a Friday. I practically skipped down the street on my way to the bus stop, I was so happy.

I am not usually the type of person who sings out loud, but that morning I almost couldn't help it. There was no traffic, no one around, so for no particular reason I started humming, then singing... "Islands in the Stream." At first I was thinking about the Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton version, then I started thinking about that episode of The Office and Michael's falsetto take on Dolly Parton (which I was sure I would find on YouTube, but it's nowhere to be found!)

I was giggling out loud to myself, and the street was empty - but then suddenly it wasn't! This guy on a bicycle appeared out of nowhere and slowly passed me on the left... as though he had been following me silently for a while, then decided it was time to speed up and move on. I averted my eyes as hard as humanly possible.

In a fictional, alternate version of this story that I would almost prefer: he should have come up from behind me and then joined in. It is a duet, after all! As embarrassing as it was, I can't help but feel he left me hanging a little bit.

24 April 2008

Collected thoughts on Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee"

Have you guys seen this fine series of Garfield tribute videos? I like a lot of these, but right now I think my favorite is this one...

I don't know how this happened, but the song got really, really, really stuck in my head. To the point where I had to search for the lyrics and information about the song online, and then download it and listen to it a million times. Over and over, like penance. And, the next logical step of course was to watch the music video. Here is a play-by-play of what I got from it, let me just get this all out so I can move on with my life:

- Alan Jackson is waterskiing in a cowboy hat and jeans with the knees all torn out. Concerned about safety? Alan Jackson is too - he has aviator glasses and an 80s-looking life vest. Cute!

- According to the lyrics, he is "learn[ing] how to swim and learn[ing] who he [is]." This is represented by an old man fishing from a rowboat, and a bunch of crazy young kids driving into a river in a manner that looks unsafe.

- "It gets hotter than a hoochie-coochie"? I don't know what that means, and the video isn't telling me.

- Stereotypical country song staples roll-call: Pickup truck? Present. Hound of some kind? Present. American flag? Present. It's in the background but I see it. I see it with my eyes... and with my heart.

- "We fogged up the windows of my old Chevy / I was willin' but she wasn't ready / So I settled for a burger and a grape snowcone..." Really? I kind of don't believe him. Actually, now I feel terrible saying that about him because he is the American hero who brought us the 9/11 tribute, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)".

- For a second there he wasn't waterskiing on skiis, but on the soles of his cowboy boots. Wait, he just totally topped that by playing his guitar while being towed in an innertube, wearing cowboy boots. And he acted like he was paddling with the guitar.

- There are a lot of things in this video that don't make sense, mostly because it's just a random collection of scenes with limited continuity. There's Alan Jackson, there's a younger version of him maybe, there's no one around him, there's a party, it's all over the place. There are a lot of things in the song that are straight-up descriptions of simple visuals that should be present but AREN'T - like foggy windows, and a pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight.

- Remember the guy fishing in the rowboat? At the end of the video, he catches a white cowboy hat on his line. For a split second when I saw that, I thought it meant that Alan Jackson was in trouble because his hat was floating around in the river. Remember in Oregon Trail when you tried to ford the river but your wagon fell over and someone's death was represented by that little hat bobbing along on the water? Nooo Alan!

But then it cuts back to Alan Jackson, who is still wearing his hat - a compelling twist ending!

22 April 2008

The knitting continues

I made a second R2D2 hat to match the one I made for C. - which he found out about, because he is a master detective! Or, because I put a bunch of pictures on Flickr, and he is on dry land now and has access to regular internet and looks at my photos.

So the first hat took me more than a week to finish, but this second one took me just two days. Yesss I am honing my craft. Hopefully this is an exponential process... Cornwell says he believes soon I will be able to make R2 hats in SECONDS.

Yesterday I went back to the store for more yarn, because I also have some hat requests from my friends to fulfill. I also wanted to get some double-pointed needles, because I have been knitting small circumferences (like the tops of hats) in a this super-inconvenient jerry-rigged manner using stitch holders, random implements, and prayer. But they were out of size 7 double-pointed needles! I left the store with just yarn...

Then I stopped at Salvation Army thrift store, and found a box of random mismatched knitting stuff. Down at the bottom, I found a number of double-pointed needles - not quite the size I need for this project, but I could see them coming in handy for future endeavors. They weren't marked with a price, so I went to the counter and asked how much they were going for... and the guy said I could just have them. For frees! He put his finger to his lips and Shhh!-ed in a stage whisper, to indicate that wrongdoing was occurring. Don't tell anyone, okay, Internets?

21 April 2008

On clemency

Senior year of high school, I was one of the five million people on yearbook staff. Yearbook was an elective class, and it seemed like a lot of people were loosely affiliated with it in some capacity. I don't remember what specifically I was on staff to do... I was skipping a lot those days. It was an end-of-the-day class, it was spring and graduation was nigh, I was in good with the teacher, and I just had bigger things to worry about. I did a little of this and a little of that... one thing in particular though, I remember pretty well:

I wrote up some blurbs and photo captions for the baseball team's page. Under one photo, I wrote that some baseballer was "enjoying the clement days of spring."

Fast forward to the end of the year, when yearbooks were printed and distributed. I turn to the baseball page, and find that the caption has been changed to read "...Clemente days of spring."

Apparently, rather than recognizing "clement" as a perfect fine English word, the yearbook editors decided to interpret my caption as some awkward attempt to cram in a reference to a well-known MLB player. Nice! I'm pretty sure the guy in the picture was a pitcher, too.

Today, I remembered this because I heard Roberto Clemente mentioned on PBS. I think about this incident every once in a while though, usually in the context of thinking about how much I don't miss high school.

17 April 2008

R2D2 hat - finished

R2D2 hat
Originally uploaded by illenion
Remember when I set out to learn how to knit? I did it, and here is the result!

Photos of the whole process here.

15 April 2008

Noooo Robert

My good friend Stu and I share an interest in the works of R. Kelly, an artist who “makes brave choices,” as my old boss once diplomatically said. Stu and I enjoy discussing/critiquing the motivations behind the man’s work... he makes profoundly poor decisions, but with an unshakable confidence. While I have a few of his songs and have seen some of his music videos, I’ve got nothing on Stu, who has albums and has been involved for years now. He is operating on a level of commitment that I can’t even begin to touch.

So there’s this R. Kelly song... “I Like the Crotch On You.” Stu sent this to me once, and I listened to it and was amused, then mostly forgot about it. Months later I happened to listen to it again, and I discovered that after the initial part about liking crotches and whatnot, there is a second part to the song...

Me: the other day i was listening to "i like the crotch on you" and i guess i had never listened to it the whole way through
Stu: haha, the end is the best part!
Stu: I was like "Man, this song is generic 90s r&b," but then that ended and the breakdown part started and I was like "Holy crap, this is amazing!" When he starts talking about asking girls if he can knock their boots, that's when I was hooked.

It involves Mr. Kelly talking and singing things like “They used to call me stank, but now I’m walking to the bank,” while studio musicians in the background pretend that they’re old friends hanging out with him and laughing in a raucous, forced way. I was hoping to find a transcription of it, but what’s weird is if you search for the lyrics online, the most you can find is the first few lines, then the rest of it is nowhere to be found!

Stu: Doesn't it bother you that you can't see the lyrics right in your face? I want to be able to read lines like "What's going on inside my pants, I can't explain."

Is everyone in the world too embarrassed to transcribe this song? I feel like that might be the case... I was actually considering doing it myself and posting the lyrics here, but then I realized there are things said in the song that I don’t want to be responsible for putting on the internet. I'm not brave like Robert Kelly.

07 April 2008

I have become the kind of person who knits

I've been holding off on making this post until C. is back on a ship, where he doesn't have access to blogs - he's been ashore in Guam and was catching up on his internet-ing, and was checking out my Flickr, etc.

A while ago we saw this amazing hat linked on BoingBoing, and ever since we have been joking about me learning to knit for the sole purpose of making one for him. The other day I was at the store and I randomly saw knitting needles on the cheap and I thought - Why don't I actually learn to knit?

So, I'm DOING IT. It's been kind of intense. Here's what I have been doing since last week:

Monday - Bought needles. I picked size 10 because... that seems OK? I have no idea. Went home and harnessed the power of The Internet to learn basic stitches, using some scrap yarn I had laying around. Knitting was going to be easy! I start thinking about how I am going to blog about knitting... before I even tell him this, my friend Cornwell anticipates it, and ghostwrites my first entry: "Dear diary: So far I have one small blue square. Soon, though... soon."

Tuesday - More knitting with scrap yarn. I have knit and purl stitches down, I learned how to switch between two different colors, I'm drunk with power. I feel like I am ready to tackle the real project, but I don't have my yarn yet.

Wednesday - I go back to the store to return the needles, because they are the wrong size and also just straight needles - I need circulars! I am dismayed to find no circular needles! I leave the store with NOTHING. I spend the rest of the day reading up on knitting on the internet so I don't lose the skills I have acquired over the past two days.

Thursday - More reading about knitting. I find a lot of helpful websites with pictures of how stitches should look, and how to deal with problems such as gauge and how to create a jogless join. I feel very Zen about the fact that I am learning to knit... without needles. I'm just visualizing everything very hard at this point... but I feel confident and ready. I am a caged tiger, waiting to knit.

Friday - I head to a fabric outlet store and purchase my materials - needles and yarn. I feel kind of creepy as I rub a lot of yarn on my face discretely, before I settle on one that is cozy-feeling and not itchy. When I get home and settle in to start knitting for real - I choke a little bit at the beginning. What if I'm not ready? What if my 4 days of training weren't enough? But then I start, and it's easy! I'm knitting along at a brisk pace. I realize that in my readings from the past few days, I have managed to teach myself stranded knitting without ever having actually done it. This involves using two colors at once, which the pattern does not call for (but it is mentioned by the author). I visualize it making the finished product look neater - so I do it. I feel like some kind of knitting savant.

Saturday - The hat is looking pretty great, but I start to realize that my knitting is becoming overly ham-handed and aggressive. I feel like I am fighting with the stitches at times, unable to loosen them. I look closely at what I am doing, and compare it to examples online - and I discover I have been twisting every stitch. Every single stitch. Since they are all twisted in the same way, it looks uniform and not terribly noticeable, but it has made the size of the hat smaller than anticipated, Also, I am kind of a perfectionist about this kind of work and so... I rip it all out. I once again find myself with no hat, just two ball of yarn.

Sunday - Knitting knitting knitting. Doing it right this time! Pictures to follow...