Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Promotion Time

Sensei promoted three students tonight--two to their green stripes, and one to purple belt.

Those not in the know think all karate is the same. Soon after I got my black belt, a co-worker asked me if I could do the splits. No, I can't do the splits.

"How can you be a black belt if you can't do the splits," he asked? People think that karate is a single, universal thing, and every black belt knows the exact same thing as every other black belt everywhere in the world. It just ain't so.

Each sensei sets his own requirements and time frame for promotion. Sensei follows the requirements our association uses. Still, sometimes it doesn't seem fair. Barrett and sensei were telling me about a TKD dojo in the next town down the road. I'd said something about my nidan test, and Barrett said, "You should have gone to Winona Saturday. You could have gotten your nidan then."

Puzzled, I asked him what he meant. Seems a certain dojo down there will put you on the fast track to promotions. Pay your money, drive to the next window and pick up your black belt. The student being promoted to nidan had gotten his shodan in March. That's right. March.

This March.

Sensei had recently been approached by another student from that same dojo about joining our karate club. The student was preparing for his shodan test. He had just begun training in October. That's right. October.

This past October, and he was testing for shodan. In less than a year. It just doesn't seem fair.

For them, I mean.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Ruined--And A Rant

Today was my fourth day off work in a row. I'd taken a vacation day today to get Cody's school ID made and his schedule and such like. I didn't know at the time that we'd be getting Friday off as well. Of course, Cody is not happy that school is starting back next week. And he's really not happy that they have to wear uniforms this year. Yes, this is a public school. I think I'm one of the few parents in town who is opposed to them wearing uniforms.

Probably the biggest selling point the board used is that uniforms are cheaper. I'm going to have to throw the B.S. flag on that one. Maybe if you normally shop at Sax 5th Avenue or Macy's, you will think they are cheaper. But for us normal folks--well for me at least, they are much more expensive.

Another selling point is that uniforms will cut down on teasing and bullying. I'm afraid I'm going to have to throw the B.S. flag on this one as well. Cody has been teased and tormented unmercifully while in school, but seldom about his clothes. If kids are going to bully, they will find an excuse. They don't need clothes as a reason to bully. Uniforms will not stop the kids from throwing apples at other kids, nor will it stop them from tearing up schoolwork or throwing personal property out of the bus windows. Cody told me this morning that the only thing about his clothes he's been teased about is not covered by the uniform regulations--his socks. They are allowed to wear whatever shoes and socks they want.

The board also said that uniforms create a better learning environment. Not when the quality of teaching is so poor. Cody's 6Th grade English teacher didn't even know English herself. All of her notes were filled with spelling and grammar errors. Now, don't get me wrong. There are some really good teachers in the schools. But there are also some really bad ones, with most teachers being merely mediocre.

Finally, they say they just can't afford nor do they have the time to bus home every child who violates the dress code. What???? Bus them home???? Why do that? Just call their parents. They never seemed to have any problem calling me when Cody was causing trouble. I guarantee if the parents have to leave work enough to go pick up their kid, they will make sure they wear proper clothing.

Ahhh, but I didn't mean to get off on that tangent. The idea of requiring kids to wear school uniforms just doesn't set too well with me. I guess I'm just too independent minded.

Abrupt change of subject. I went for my consult appointment with the dentist who is going to pull my teeth. He seemed to think that I was making the right decision in having them pulled. He said that if I got my broken teeth fixed, then I would most likely end up having to have my wisdom teeth pulled. Since I'd end up having to have one or the other pulled, I might as well pull the bad ones. We set up an appointment for next Thursday to have it done.

He said, "Now there are 4 ways I can do this. I can numb you with Novocaine. I can give you Novocaine and laughing gas. I can give you Novocaine, laughing gas, and Valium. Or I can hook you up to an IV drip that will make you so drunk you don't care what I do to you."

I was telling this to Sensei, who also needs a tooth pulled, and his eyes lit up and he asked, "Which dentist is this?"

I've had 4 days off in a row, but now my time is coming to an end. Just so this blog entry isn't a total waste, I leave you with a gratuitous cute puppy picture:

Rylea and her favorite puppy toy. July, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another Dilemma

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that back in September, I bought a new mobile home.

A while back, my cousin Mike brought a guy by who said he was interested in buying my old mobile home. I told him it wasn't quite cleaned out, and I would call him when it was ready. That's what I did.

When I got the old home cleaned out, I called the guy and asked him if he was still interested. He said that he was out of town, but would get back with me on such and such day.

Such and such day came and went, and I never heard from the guy. It has now been many days since such and such day, and I still have not heard from the guy. J says I ought to keep calling him, pestering him until he agrees to buy the house. I say that if he were really that interested, he would have gotten back to me.

In other words, I take his silence as his answer. I don't think he's really that interested, and I want to advertise the home for sale. Keep in mind that we made no agreement, nor did we sign a contract. No money has changed hands over this.

What do you say? Should I keep calling the guy? Or should I take his silence as a "no"?

Big Black Socks

The big black socks are finished! They seemed to take forever, even though it was just shy of two months. Now I just have to find a suitable charity to send them to.
Yarn: Knitpicks Essential
Color: Black
Needles: 2.5 mm Knitpicks DPNs
Gauge: 10 spi
Pattern: Generic sock pattern with K2 P2 leg and slip stitch heel
Now to get some of my other socks finished before starting on the next pair.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Socks and Skies and Snakes

WARNING: This post contains photos of a snake. They will be at the very end of the post, and I'll give you fair warning as to when to stop reading. And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog entry.

We'll start with the socks. My second BBS is almost done. I've only half an inch to go before starting toe decreases. Since I am so close to being done, I'm going to wait to post a picture. Frankly, I'll be so glad to be finished. These are like the socks that never end.

The sky started off perfectly clear--one of those solid blue rectangles. By lunch time, clouds were beginning to move in, so I snapped this picture. By late afternoon, the sky was completely clouded over.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog entry by an Australian who was at the time in the US. She was going on an outdoor adventure of a kind which I don't remember, and mentioned that one of her acquaintances had warned her to watch out for poison ivy. The blogger mentioned that she had no idea what poison ivy looked like. I wish I could find said blog once again, because poison ivy grows in abundance in my yard.

Yes, that is all poison ivy, and here is a closeup, for easy identification:

My little man was quite proud of himself. He was finally allowed to mow the yard:

He mowed all 3 acres, and did a right good job of it, too. If it had been up to me, he'd have been mowing years ago, but the lawnmower belongs to J.

One last item before I get to the snake.

I'm not normally a bag person. My definition of purse has always been "a handy way to lose everything at once." It follows that I don't scream and squeal over them. I've carried the same denim fanny pack for years, and it replaced one that looked just like it. That's why it came as such a surprise, even to me, that when I saw this camo messenger bag, I actually liked it. I bought it, thinking I would make a knitting bag out of it, but I decided it was big enough to hold my wallet, checkbook, and a sock in progress.

Now, if you don't want to see the snake pictures, stop here.








Ok, if you are still reading, I'm going to assume you have no fear of snakes. I was out walking Rylea this afternoon when we stumbled across this little beauty:

As my luck would have it, I didn't have my camera with me. Naturally, I did the only thing I could do in that situation. I tied Rylea to a tree and caught it.

I'm not sure what kind of snake it is. It looks like either a kingsnake or a sub-species of rat snake. I even went to the Mississippi State University snake identification site, but none of the snakes there quite matched this one. The solid grey head and relatively unmarked belly is what is throwing me as for identification.

I do know that it is nonvenomous. I am quite familiar with the venomous snakes native to this area, so I had no fear in catching it. Good thing, because it took a little nibble on my thumb. It didn't hurt, and barely drew blood, but gave me a nice little bite pattern.

As for my own snakes, it was feeding day for all but one of them. Everyone but Slider ate. I swear, I think that snake is trying to starve himself do death.

How does one make a smiley for pulling your hair out?


Friday, July 27, 2007

Don't Take 'Em Too Seriously

Lots of sites on the net have these cute little quizzes you can take--what color are you? what type of knitting needles are you? What kind of kisser are you? Almost any subject you can imagine has been made into a quiz. These quizzes can be both fun and frustrating, and most of the time, they are wrong--at least about me. The problem is the format. They usually consist of a question followed by five multiple choice answers. Too many times, there is no correct answer. For example, in the first quiz below, one of the questions read something like this: You are eating lunch and someone approaches you and demands you give him food. He doesn't appear to be starving. What do you do?

Well, the last thing I would do is to give him my food, but on the quiz, the only answer that did not involve giving in to him was the one that said to hit him in the face. Now, I wouldn't do that either, unless in self defense, but neither would I give him food. Nevertheless, that is the answer I chose, since it is the only one that didn't involve appeasing the villain.

Another quiz I did had the question: What are you most likely to order? The answers consisted of five different flavors/blends of coffee. I don't drink coffee. None of the answers would have been an accurate reflection of my personality or tastes. So what's a person to do about these quizzes?

Have fun doing them, but don't take them too seriously.

Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

And above all, don't let the answers bug you .

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm A Star

Sensei has always relied mostly on word of mouth for dojo advertising. He'd occasionally print up fliers, or run an ad in the newspaper, but mostly word gets spread by friends telling friends to come check the dojo out. But what with the new building and all, he really needs to get students into the club. This time, he decided to do a commercial.

It costs less to do a TV commercial than any other type of advertising--at least here locally, it does. Newspaper, surprisingly, is the most expensive, and radio is in between them. Tuesday was commercial shooting day, so he cancelled all regular classes and asked everyone to be there at 5:00 PM. The film crew showed up around 5:30--which is when they were scheduled to get there, as sensei wanted the first 30 minutes to rehearse.

Well, I'd like to say it was a big, exciting do, but pretty much all we did was karate, while the camera man moved around and shot what he thought would look good. Most of the commercial will emphasize the kids programs, because, as sensei said, it's the kids who will keep us in business. I told him we needed to have more me in it--you know, to show that it isn't just for the guys. He said he can redo the commercial up until his contract runs out. It's a six month contract, and he said he might make a new commercial each month. However, he is having them do two months at once for the first month. That means, instead of the 15 plays per day per channel each month, they will play it 30 times a day per channel for the first month, which will be August. Sensei feels it is necessary to do this to get the students into the dojo.

I'd be interested in seeing the commercial, but since it was the cable company doing it, they will only show it to cable customers. On the upside, it will be shown over the entire viewing area, which covers quite a bit of space.

After the shoot, we had an open workout. Brian, Brian, and Tim are testing tonight--Brian and Tim for stripes, and Brian for his purple belt. Tim didn't stay, and sensei worked with Tom on his next kata, so I quizzed the two Brians on some history and tradition. It was actually kind of hard for me to remember what they need to know at white belt level. After a bit, sensei asked me to start Brian on seisan kata. I taught him the first three steps and the pivot. He caught on pretty quickly, and I don't think it'll take him too long to learn the whole kata. I told him that Tim shouldn't have left because now he'll be behind.

Then Tom wanted to show me his Wansu kata. He did pretty well. Tom is older, and not the most coordinated, but he works very hard. He'll be ok.

Finally, before I left, I ran through all my kata, and that was Tuesday's class.

We didn't have Black Belt class on Monday, because sensei's brother in law had been killed in a car wreck and he had to leave. Tonight is rank test for the three--Brian, Brian, and Tim. Cody doesn't want to go because we have to wear white on rank test night, whether we are testing or not. It's tradition. Cody's white gi doesn't fit him too well any more, and I can't afford to buy him a new one right now.

Oh, yeah, we are back on 4 days a week at work.


Energy What?

Rachel had stopped on the way to work this morning and gotten one of the new Jeff Gordon energy drink. She was telling me that she really liked it, and brought the can over for me to look at it. Naturally, the first thing I do is read the ingredients to see if there's anything I'm allergic to in there. About the time I was handing the can back to her, our production superintendent (he is over the shift supervisors, and thus the shop floor employees) Jake walked up.

"What have you got there?", he asked.

"It's an energy drink," Rachel said as she showed him the can.

"Oh, ok," Jake said. "I thought maybe it was a beer."

"They do make an energy beer, "said Rachel.

Sez Jake:

"Well, when they come up with an energy bourbon, I'm all over it."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How We Met

Sez Buck:

One of the most common questions a couple, any couple, gets is “Well, how did you two meet?” It’s not the first thing you ask someone, but the question always comes up in the process of making friends, at mixers of various sorts, and so on. It’s good, safe, polite conversation.

So how did ex and I meet? Well, I'll tell you...

The year was 1992 and I was not far into my second year of duty in Naples, Italy. I'd just ended a 9 month relationship with a man I absolutely hated. Suffice it to say that the Navy ended it for me. He transferred and I was never so glad to see anyone leave as I was him. It was a bad relationship from the beginning. He just sort of bullied his way into my life and at the time, I didn't have the gumption to make him go away and stay away. I've grown a lot since then.

It was country music night in the enlisted club, and we were all decked out in our boots and jeans. I was with my usual crowd of friends, and we were chatting and laughing and having a good time. In walks a group of Marines, including one guy in a cowboy hat whom I had never seen before. He was tall, and he was handsome, and he was striking enough to make me sit up straight and say out loud, "Who's that guy in the hat?"

None of my friends had ever seen him before either. I wondered aloud if he knew how to dance, and told my friend Denise that I was going to go ask him.

When the next song came on, me being the shy type, I kind of pretended I hadn't said that, but Denise gave me the stare, and said "Well?" Even in my shy days, I seldom backed down from a challenge.

He was sitting on a stool at the bar, with about 6 or 7 marines standing around him. I approached them and said, "excuse me," and they parted like the Red Sea. I walked right up to ex, looked him dead in the eye, and said,

"Do you really know how to dance, or do you just wear those clothes?" (How's that for a pick up line?)

"Oh, I know how to dance, " he assured me, but when I held out my hand in invitation, he said, "I just don't want to right now."

"Uh-huh," I said and went and sat back down. After much elbowing and nudging by his fellow marines, he finally came and sat at our table with us. We talked a good bit, but we never did dance that night.

A few nights later, I saw him again at the club on the NATO base. I was there with my usual gang of friends, and he came in with some marines. I determined that I wasn't going to be the one doing all the flirting, so I just waited to see what he would do. He sat at another table with his marine buddies, but after only about 15 minutes got up and left. The other marines followed him out, and I saw a brief tussle outside the door. They basically shoved him back into the club, and over to my table.

"I was wondering if you were going to come speak," I said.

"I can't help it. I'm shy," ex responded.

"Well, if you don't have the b@!!$ to come and at least say 'hi', then I don't need you."

After assuring me that he did indeed have all of his male anatomy, ex finally asked me to dance. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today's Pic: Ex and me, late 1992. I was standing on a box.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stupid scanner.

I was going to post about how my ex and I met. I even found an old picture of him that I was going to scan and upload. Only my scanner has an error message. Problem with the print cartridge, it says. I don't want to print. I only want to scan. But it won't let me scan until I get a new print cartridge.

Stupid scanner.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The problem is that I don't have enough room in my mouth for all of my teeth. The fact that I have to buy a child sized mouth guard should have been a clue...

Nevertheless, I have too much tooth and not enough mouth. The result of this is that my back molars on my bottom jaw never fully emerged from my gum tissue. Said gum tissue is covering the back part of said teeth, making it nearly impossible to clean those teeth. A plaque trap is what the dentist called it.

So the gum tissue is pressing against my tooth, trapping plaque and causing decay. The more decay it causes, the more the gum works its way into my tooth structure, causing more decay, causing my gum to work its way deeper into the tooth, causing more decay....and so on.

The dentist wants me to do a root canal and have crowns put on. Naturally.

But I say that if there isn't enough room in my mouth, wouldn't it make more sense to pull the teeth out? It has gotten to the point that something has to be done. The molar on my right side is very nearly split in two. It hurts, but my primary concern is that it may affect the tooth next to it. I want to get it pulled before it starts messing up that one.

I called the dentist today and discussed it with him. He was reading the note he had written in my chart: Mumbling "we were going to send you to an oral surgeon and while you are sedated have all four teeth cut out."

Four???? What four????

Oh, the other two would be your wisdom teeth. They've never come out, but they're there and we might as well have them out at the same time.

But my wisdom teeth aren't bothering me. I don't want to pull them if they aren't bothering me.

Well, when you get these other two teeth pulled, they might come on out and they may be fine, or they may cause problems later.

Well, then we'll deal with that later. Right now, I just want the one that is hurting pulled. The others aren't hurting me, so I want to keep them as long as I can.

Just to summarize the rest of the conversation, he referred me to another dentist in town for a consultation and said that if it is something he feels comfortable with, he will pull my tooth. I'm wondering why he wouldn't feel comfortable pulling a tooth. I'm also wondering why my regular dentist couldn't pull it. My only thought is that he is not set up for the kind of sedation usually needed for something big like a tooth extraction.

I have an appointment for next Monday. It's the soonest they could get me in without me having to miss work. I'm trying to miss as little as possible, and I'll most likely take the whole day when I get it pulled.

But if it starts hurting too bad, I'm going to call them back and change it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's One of Those Days

when I have absolutely nothing to say. I was watching Miss Marple on PBS, and frankly, that's the most exciting thing that has happened today.

There is an interesting discussion shaping up on the Girlie list--uh the Isshinryu Women's list. I'm waiting to see more responses, but I probably will comment here on it. It follows a familiar theme: how much control should a sensei have over your personal life? I'll give my answer when I get my thoughts together.

In the meantime, here is the June mid month dishcloth that I whipped out yesterday and today:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Socks and Skies

This morning's sky was beautiful. Good thing I got this picture when I did, because just an hour later, the clouds had cleared off and the sky was clear. It makes for a beautiful sky, but a rather dull picture--that rectangle of solid blue.

I finished the July mid month dishcloth:

I've decided to go back and finally do the June mid month cloth, the pattern of which has been languishing in my inbox for a month, now. I always intended to do it. I just never got around to it, until today.

The second black sock is coming along nicely, with 9" of leg knit so far.

Unfortunately, all my work may be for naught. I asked Cody to try them on, and he claimed he couldn't get them over his heel. I was able to get them on with room to spare, and they fit over a 2 liter coke bottle. Hopefully, there'll be some skinny legged soldier wherever these are going who will be able to wear them.

Pay no attention to the pasty white leg above the sock. It was a gift from my Swedish ancestors.


Friday, July 20, 2007

A Trick

THE TRICK IS TO FIND THE MAN AMONG THE COFFEE BEANS:This is bizarre - after you find the guy - it's so obvious. Once you find him - it's embarrassing, and you think, Why didn't I see him immediately?

Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!!! And, yes, the man is really there!!!
I found him almost immediately. How long did it take you?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


When people find out I train in the martial arts, the first thing they invariably ask is--well, the first thing they usually ask is "Are you going to beat me up?" as if the only reason we train in karate is to bludgeon our fellow man. But the second most common thing I am asked is "Can you break a board?"

My answer?

"I don't know. I've never tried."

In some dojos, breaking boards--and later bricks--is a requirement for promotion. Some schools have entire classes that center on nothing but breaking. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The thing is, there is nothing magical or mystical about breaking a board. It is not an end in itself, but a training tool. Do it right, and it is surprisingly easy to break a board. Do it wrong and you could break your hand.

In my dojo, we seldom, if ever break in class. I remarked to sensei just Tuesday night that I've never broken a board in my life.

"You haven't?" he asked. He didn't even realize I haven't done it.

We do have some PVC rebreakable colored boards from Century, and Cody and I played with them a bit after class. I cannot punch through the brown one, but I'm going to keep working on it. Yeah, those are supposed to be for the men, but someone recently told me

being that you are an established black belt, you might be able to do the brown, which equals two boards. ;-))

Given that encouragement, I wanted to see if I could, so I decided to try it. I didn't get it to break, but I did get a pretty good crack in it. And besides, the others just seem so easy now. There is no challenge left, because I've broken them so many times.

What I like to do is to take the yellow board--I know, the easy one--hold it in my right hand, then let go and break it with the same hand. I'm getting better. I was able to do it 5 times last class out of about 10 tries. I also did another first Tuesday night. I broke the orange board by holding it by one corner and punching it. Ok, that's not a first, but what is is that I broke it with my left hand! Woo Hoo!

Sensei says he doesn't like those things. He'd rather hit a real board.

I don't know. I've never tried.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

First Class

First class in the new dojo. Black belt class. Just Barrett and me there.

Josh is still on vacation, and James hasn't been there in weeks. He did show up last Tuesday, but didn't participate in class. I really wish his parents would speak to him about his personal hygiene. I pulled up to the dojo, and Cody got out and went inside. James got into the passenger side of my SUV, and he smelled so bad that I went out the other side. Anyway, Barrett told me that James is going around telling everyone that he is going up for his full shodan at the next testing. Sensei said, "Not unless I recommend him." He said that if James shows up expecting to be tested without sensei recommending him, he will be black balled by the board. Unless he starts coming back to class and working out, sensei won't recommend him.

Barrett hadn't seen the new building yet, so it was his first time in there. "This place is awesome," he said. Then he told me he'd driven by the old dojo before coming to class. "I felt kinda sad," he said.

"Yeah," I agreed. "That's how I felt when we moved out of the first dojo." The one we just moved out of was Barrett's first dojo, so I knew what he felt.

"Did Mrs. W---------- give you any trouble?" I asked sensei. She is the lady he leased the old dojo from. He still had 5 more months on the lease.

"Yeah," he said. "She's gonna sue me. She said if I'd given her 30 days notice, it would have been ok, but I didn't have a choice."

"The health department didn't exactly give you 30 days notice," remarked Barrett.

I drove by there today and there is a big For Rent sign on the window. The place right next to the old dojo was empty for two years. Mrs. W--------- is such a stinker that nobody wants to deal with her.

Class consisted of sai work and niahanchi kata. Sensei had us get on the bottom step of the stage and do the kata.

"Did you notice any difference doing it that way, " he asked? I did. I noticed I was having a hard time keeping my balance. Barrett said his heels were kicking the second step, but I noticed my toes were hanging off. It was interesting. I want to do it that way again.

The rest of the class was niahanchi bunkai. Sensei again apologized for not having class planned out. He was busy moving.

Next week, they are filming a commercial. That ought to be interesting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Huh? II, Or Like Mother Like Son

But first, The Heathen Housewife is having a contest. Go on over and check it out. If you do enter, be sure and mention that you got there through me, and I'll get my name in the hat an extra time.

We were driving through town, when Cody read a local business marquee out loud.

"Hug a vet."

"That means you need to hug your ol' mama."

"You're not a vet!"

"I am too a veteran!"

"Oh, that kind of vet. I was wondering why they would be telling us to hug a veterinarian!"


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Acrylic and Shotguns

Acrylic yarn is one of those hot topics in the knitting/crocheting world. Just the mention of the fiber evokes a firestorm of emotion, that frankly, I just don't understand. I mean, I don't like green beans or bell pepper, but I would hardly condem anyone for eating them. Yet there are those in the fiber world who would do just that--condem to everlasting damnation those who knit with acrylics.

Not just the rant I posted about yesterday. Recently, a similar rant was posted on another knitting list I used to be on. (Ok, technically I'm still on it, I've just switched my membership to no e-mail. That way I can still acess the patterns and links and such, but don't have to wade through this biased tripe.) Basically, this rant can be summed up as saying that acrylic isn't really yarn, it is icky stuff sold to the lower class masses that no serious knitter would even remotely consider using.

What's the big deal? I mean, if you don't want to use acrylic, don't use it. But why the vehemence against those who do use it? It's just another fiber. I happen to prefer acrylics and I'll tell you why:

1. Acrylic is affordable. This is key. Face it, there are those of us who just can't afford to drop $200-300 on enough wool to make a sweater. The same sweater can be made from acrylic for a tenth of that price. Even the $20 spent on a ball of sock yarn can be pushing it for some of us. We won't even begin to talk about the cost of yarn needed for a wool afghan.

2. Acrylic is available. For some of us, having to drive the 85 miles to the nearest yarn store is both expensive and inconvenient. Yeah, there's always online ordering, but when you do that, you don't really know what you are getting. The yarn you end up with may not be exactly what you saw on the screen, and if you just spent $300 on what you thought would be something else, well, I'd be upset.

3. Acrylic is durable. Sure, it pills a bit, but then so does wool. But it lasts forever. I still have an acrylic afghan that was knit by my grandmother for my 10th birthday. It looks just as good now as the day she made it. The afghan on my bed is 14 years old, and it looks just as good as new, in spite of the fact that I actually used it as an area rug for 6 months in my living room in my apartment in Italy. One of the common myths floating around out there is that acrylic will stiffen up over time. This is not true. If your acrylic is stiff, then you probably just need to wash it. Which brings me to my nesxt point:

4. Acrylic is washable. When it gets dirty or spilled on, just toss it in the washer and dryer. No need to worry about it shrinking or felting. It is naturally stain resistant as well. And if it does get stained, well, at least you're not out the $200-300 a wool sweater would cost.

5. Acrylic is cooler than wool. I know, I know, I've heard all the claptrap about wool insulating heat out as well as in. As soon as I can find a wool sweater or socks I can wear without burning up or being itched to death, maybe I'll change my mind. But until then, all my sweaters are acrylic. There is another common myth out there that acrylic yarn does not breathe--that it would be like wearing a plastic bag. This is also not true. There is air space between the fibers of acrylic yarn, just as there is in wool yarn. There is also space for circulation between the knit stitches, just as there is in a wool product. So acrylic does breathe.

6. Acrylic is unappetizing to moths. Several years ago, my sister sent me a lambs wool scarf from Iceland. Imagine my dismay when not too much later, I found moths had eaten huge holes in it. The fact that the dumb thing was too coarse and itchy for me to wear anyway is irrelevant. It was a gift from my sister. I didn't appreciate it becoming some creature's lunch.

So there you have it--my top 6 reasons why I prefer acrylic yarns. I'm not saying you should use them if you don't want to, but don't insult me and call me names because I do.

Cody is mighty proud of this:

J gave him an old gun rack that he wasn't using any more, so Cody was finally able to bring home his shotgun. It had been in J's gun safe for two years. Yeah, it's hanging on his wall, but there's not much he can do with it because J still has the shells in his gun safe.

In regards to my little problem of yesterday, I was searching over at the PatriotPost website, followed a few links and found an entire list of organizations that send care packages to the troops overseas. I've been looking through the list and bookmarking those that accept socks. Once I am done, I will have to decide which one I will support. If anyone has any experience or knowledge of any of these, feel free to pass the info on to me.

A bit of good news! I actually got Monty to eat a mouse today! Yeah, he should be eating rats, but I'd thawed a mouse for Onyx, forgetting that he was in shed. On a whim, I decided to offer it to Monty and he ate it! This is the first time since March that he's eaten anything, so I'm happy about that. Now, if only Slider would eat...

One last thing, if you want to stop "Global Warming", then teach your cows manners!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Socks and Skies

My first black sock is finished.
I've even woven in the ends! I haven't really worked on any other socks this week. I'm trying to get this pair done.

One of the founding principles of this country is freedom of speech. Our forefathers recognized that the this freedom is paramount to a free society. Without it, there is no liberty. Period. One of the first things a tyrant does when he takes over a country is to restrict the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. Only those who agree with him are allowed to speak freely. Others are eliminated, in one way or another.

On a smaller scale, an e-mail list or message board is basically the same. The free exchange of thoughts and ideas is necessary to a flourishing, growing community. Heavily moderated message boards or groups are nothing more than mini-dictatorships. I am having such a problem with one of my groups. I've posted about it before. I am posting about it again. This will be the last time.

The group has had a long standing policy that they don't knit socks with acrylic yarns given the tendency they have to melt in when exposed to flame. All synthetic fabrics do this--acrylic, nylon, polyester, etc. They melt in extreme heat--such as that given off in a roadside bomb incident--and therefore for the soldiers' safety, they shouldn't be used. I have no problem with that. I fully understand.

Just yesterday, a newer member wrote in and asked if acrylics could be used for soldiers in non combat situations for items other than socks. Instead of simply reminding the poster of the no acrylics policy and saying "no acrylics, please" she went on a long, ranting tirade against acrylic yarns and by association, those who use them calling them, among other things, junk yarns. She then listed several reasons why we couldn't use acrylics. The only legitimate reason in the list was that they melt. The other reasons were her personal opinions presented as if they were facts. Her final reason why we couldn't use acrylics was: "I HATE ACRYLICS!!!" Again, personal opinion given as if it were a legitimate reason not to use them. The entire post was hostile, belligerent, and insulting.

When I read that, I wrote back a pretty hot response, saying she had insulted me and my preferred yarn, etc. etc. But then I read over my response, and decided it was a bit too hot, so I deleted it and wrote a shorter, cooler response. I figured even that one wouldn't be approved to the group, and sure enough it wasn't. This morning I received a response from my "designated moderator" stating that she would not approve my message because she had decided that I was being combative and trying to pick a fight, etc, etc. At first, I was a bit confused because my post wasn't any more combative than any of the other responses that had been approved to the list. Then I re-read them. The approved comments. Yes, they were combative, but--this is key here--they all agreed with the list owner! Every one of them.

Well, when I read the moderator's message, I immediately fired off a response, but haven't sent it yet. I probably won't. I'll wait a bit and send something a little cooler. But I will leave that group. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't make this decision lightly or flippantly. This has been building up for a long time--almost since I joined the group. It's not just the restrictions on my freedom of speech that's triggering this either. There are lots of things about the group that I have difficulties with. I won't enumerate them here, but I will say this one thing. It isn't the group's mission. What I have issues with is the way the group is run.

I'll return the watermelon yarn I "won" and find some other, less dictatorial group by which I can support the troops. Operation Gratitude, maybe. That's the one my church sends stuff to. I'm sure those soldiers will appreciate hand knit items just as much.

And I will pin the flippin socks together any way I want to.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Moving Day (Picture Heavy)

I mentioned once that sensei was talking about moving the dojo into a larger building. He had decided that we just couldn't do it at this time. He had been scheduled to do a women's self defense seminar up in Memphis, and he was going to use the proceeds from that seminar to pay the lease and stuff to get the new building. Unfortunately, the seminar was postponed, so he was unable to get the building at that time.

Enter the State Department of Health. Some of the local day care centers had turned sensei in, trying to say that he was running a day care, instead of a karate dojo with after school classes. The DOH said that he would have to install an additional restroom, plus an additional exit, and have covers on the lights or they would shut his dojo down. Sensei only leases the building, and he was sure the landlady wouldn't want to do all that, so he had to move fast. He borrowed money from his parents and leased the new building. He has spent most of this week moving stuff in.

The building used to be a church, and there is a lot of work that will need to be done to it to make it what he envisions, but that will have to be done later on down the road. I went out there last night to see the place, and this is what I found.

This is the main room. This room by itself is much larger than our old dojo. Notice the ceiling fans. Sensei will really have to work us hard to break a sweat in here.

This is the same room, but the other end. Sensei is going to take the top two steps of that stage out and put a boxing ring up there. The rest of the space will be for workouts. Sensei thinks we can get 30 students in here easily. The acoustics in this room are fantastic. I told sensei that if 30 adults kiaied in here, we might break out the windows. No, Cody is not abusing that child. They were playing tag.

This is the other big room. It is pretty well unfinished.

Here it is from the other end. There are several rooms in this part of the building. We will have our very own weight room:

One of sensei's private students is a doctor from Memphis. He is donating a Bowflex machine to the dojo. That will be in there as well. We can go early and get a workout before class.

This will be sensei's office:

And this is the kitchen:

It doesn't have a stove or refrigerator in it. I don't know if sensei will add one later, or not.

Judging by the looks of things, I think this big room was the nursery, when the building was a church. I don't know what sensei has planned for this, but I thought it would be a good waiting area for the parents. He could (at a later date) cut holes in the walls and add one way mirrors, so the parents could see the class, but the kids wouldn't be distracted by the parents watching them.

This is the same room from the other end:

I have my own bathroom. The door says LADIES, and since I'm the only one, sensei said this one is all mine. I said, "Good! No more pee on the seat!"

Here is the men's bathroom.
Sensei wants to eventually add a shower area, also. I'm thinking he was wanting to do that in one of the upstairs rooms, right above the two bathrooms.

Upstairs? Yes, there is an upstairs:

Ok, if it were me, I'd replace this carpet, too. There are 5 additional rooms upstairs, which were most likely Sunday School rooms. Sensei is going to make one of them his own room, and one will be designated for private lessons. Most of the rooms are unfinished, and even the ones that are, aren't done very well. Finishing them will come later on down the road. Right now the important thing was to get into the building.

Sensei has a lot of plans for the new building. In addition to karate, he wants to have a boxing club. Another lady will be teaching cheerleading and gymnastics, plus, people have asked about tai chi, pilates, and tae bo classes. And he is taking seriously my suggestion to have a women/girls class.

Sensei said we almost didn't make it. He told me that no sooner had he signed the lease and gotten the keys, the building's owner had just driven off and someone else showed up wanting to lease the building. He asked sensei if he would be willing to rent it, but he said no.

Sensei is in the red shirt, and the other two guys are Brian (in the tank top) and Tim, two new white belts. They had brought their trucks to help sensei get some of the bigger stuff moved.

I was upstairs when I took this picture. There was a storm just beginning to move into the area. When my camera flash went off, Tim ducked and Brian hollered. They thought it was lightning. Tim laughed, and Brian said, "We'd thought the lightning done got us!"

Before we left for the night, I went back into the main room, slipped my shoes off and did sunsu kata--the only real Isshinryu kata.

It was appropriate.


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