Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday Sky


Early morning Saturday Sky, taken about 7:30, before it clouded over and started raining. And as a bonus, since I can't seem to think of anything interesting to blog about lately, a Saturday Sunset picture.

Taken after the rain. Actually, during the last few sprinkles of rain. If you look closely, you can see drops on the lens.

Yeah, blogging has been slow lately. I dunno what the problem is. I just can't think of anything that might be interesting to anyone. Y'all don't really want to hear about me doing laundry then watching House on DVD all afternoon, do you?

Buck had a couple of interesting things to say this morning--especially the part where he talks about being terminally busy. We are programmed by society to believe that we always have to be doing something--that we have to accomplish things every day. We are made to feel guilty when we are resting, for rest is unproductive. I kind of long for the old days when things like knitting were considered admirable work rather than just a hobby. There were days in our past when if a woman didn't knit, her family went without socks or gloves. Nowadays, knitting is considered a leisure activity. A waste of time. Never mind the fact that hand knit socks are better quality and will long outlast anything bought in the store. Never mind the fact that my hand knit washcloths last far longer than store bought cloths. Never mind the fact that a hand knit sweater can last a lifetime. No, you should be up doing something useful, not just sitting there knitting.

Now, if you were sitting there idly watching T.V., well, that would be OK...

TV 2

Friday, March 30, 2007

Miscellaneous Stuff


Practicing eyeballing perspective on a table at work.

My brother and my nephew Joshua celebrating Josh's third birthday.

Only 5 months and one week until NFL kickoff weekend! H/T to Vera for posting this on her blog.

The school's band festival is this weekend. Cody's band played this afternoon. They scored top scores in both performance and sight reading. They played the same songs they did at last night's concert.

Monty finally ate, so the only snake still fasting is Slider. Hard headed rascal.

The art school that I finished this test for finally got in touch with me--rather my answering machine. It took them nearly a year and a half to contact me. I don't know if I will even call them back. I don't know if I can afford it now. Eighteen months ago I could have--but things have changed since then.

Ummm, I can't think of anything else, so I guess I'll get back to knitting.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring Band Concert

Once again I am amazed at the skill with which these kids played. This is the first band, or Symphonic band. The second band is called the Concert band. They are good, too. But not this good. But then, my child is in this band, so I'm a bit biased.

*If you can't see the videos, try again later. *

First up: Flourish



And then: In The Valley Of The Ancients. I've heard high school bands that don't play this piece this well.



Pretty good for a bunch of 12 and 13 year old kids, huh?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cody

Cody has a band concert tomorrow night. They are required to wear Sunday dress, which in my church is pretty casual. I decided he needed something a little more dressy than jeans, so we headed in to Wal-mart this afternoon. The intention was to buy some khaki pants and maybe a button down shirt. Cody, however, spotted the suits.

He wanted one. He really wanted one. And after being the one fussing a few months back that nobody dresses up any more, how could I refuse? We bought the whole she-bang--jacket, pants, tie, even socks and shoes. He had to go get J to teach him to tie the tie, but he caught on pretty quickly. And the shirt is a smidge too big, but it was the smallest men's size they had. He's long outgrown boy's sizes.

But doesn't he look good?
You know what he said when he got home? "If I had a cane and some Nike Shox, I could do House imitations."
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And It's A Pair

One of my socks is no longer lonely. I finished this pair last night.




I still have one more single sock that I need to knit a mate for. I did cast on for it this afternoon, but decided to spend my time working on my WIP list instead. I finally picked my Irish Hiking Scarf back up. I'm knitting it in worsted weight yarn with size 8 needles like the pattern calls for, but the resulting fabric seems so stiff and thick. Maybe it'll soften up after I wash it. Nevertheless, next time I make this pattern, I think I'll go up a size or two on the needles.



That's my cell phone, in case you can't tell. I am getting desperate for ideas of what to sketch. This is why I quit doing it last time. I just ran out of ideas.

Which Jane Austin heroine am I? Funny, I ended up being one from a book I haven't read:

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!


:: E L I N O R ::
You are Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though you are tremendously sensible and allow your head to rule, you have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

Karate was interesting tonight. We started off doing slow motion kicks. If you've never done that, I recommend it. All it is is doing your basic kicks in very slow motion. It's good for building your leg muscles and improving balance, in addition to refining your kicking form. We went from slow motion kicks to speed drills. That was an interesting switch. We finished off the class doing bag work and kata.

We have a new student--well fairly new. She's been coming for about 3 weeks now. Somehow I don't think she'll last. She seems more interested in the boys than in karate.

I asked sensei once again about the black belt class. He said, "Yeah, I need to get that started." Josh and Barrett test for their black belts on May 5th. He'll probably get it started after they get promoted.

Lastly, one more quiz. Are you Yankee or Dixie? Me? I'm 96% Dixie.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Exciting News!

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd boxed up some hats for charity. I actually sent them to the Yarn Harlot's Represent event in New York City, where they would be displayed, then donated to a charity. Imagine my thrill when I visit today's entry of her blog and see the picture of the hats displayed. Yes, there they were! My very own hats! I could see them! Right in front! Wow, what a thrill!!!!

Ok, you non-knitters out there may not think it's a big deal, but it is to me. She's famous among knitting circles.

Guess what happened today. I had some errands to run in town, so I told Cody I'd pick him up after school. I reminded him as I walked out the door this morning not to get on the bus. So after work, I drove up to the school and guess what. He didn't come out the door. So guess what I did. No, I didn't just drive home. I went looking for him. I didn't find him anywhere. I drove all around the school, and even went inside looking for him. No Cody. I figured he'd forgotten and rode the bus home as usual, so I went and ran my errands. By the time I got through, it was past the time the bus usually drops him off, so I called home. Sure enough, he was there. So I went on home. But I didn't just drive off when he didn't come out the door.

I thought the whole situation was strangely coincidental, considering yesterday's post.






Coffee cups have always been a favorite thing of mine, even though I don't drink coffee. You can drink anything from a mug--milk, water, diet Dr. Pepper....

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Heroes

or What I Find Attractive In A Man, Part 2


Ever since Cody was 3 years old and drew web all over himself and declared himself to be Spiderman, we have been fans. Ok, I am more of a fan by association, but Cody is a big time fan. I was really surprised that I liked the Spiderman movies. They were really good. In the first movie, Uncle Ben tells Peter "With great power comes great responsibility." Words of wisdom I wish our government leaders heeded more.

In the second Spiderman movie, Aunt May tells Peter,

"I believe there's a hero in all of us."

The Riverside housing addition was built down by the old Navy base back at the beginning of World War II to house the families of those stationed there. It was never meant to be more than a temporary housing situation. Once the war was over, it was supposed to have been torn down, but it wasn't. Some 40 years later, the houses were still there, and still occupied. That was where the poor folks lived. The really poor folks. It was also where the problems that always seem to follow poverty ran rampant--alcoholism, drug use, broken homes, prostitution, crime. We called those who lived in Riverside river rats.

Mike was a river rat. He was poor. He didn't have many opportunities to advance himself. He wasn't very intelligent. When class rankings came out, he ranked 274th out of 365 students. While he was not bad looking, he didn't exactly turn heads as he walked down the hall, either. He wasn't athletic. He was tall, but he was a bit on the chubby side. He wasn't academically inclined either. He was just in school to graduate then survive the best he could. He drank and used drugs. He wasn't exactly anyone's idea of a hero.

We were friends for a while. We didn't date or anything like that, just talked between classes. We eventually drifted apart. We had nothing in common. We couldn't even find enough in common to carry on a decent conversation.

One day, just as school let out, I was walking toward the exit where my mother usually waited to pick me up. Nicholas Demary grabbed my arm and pulled me into the cafeteria. He wanted to get his books, he said. Once there, he said he wouldn't let me go until I kissed him. For some 20-30 minutes, he kept me there because I refused to kiss him. Finally, some teachers walked by in the hall outside, and I was able to get away. My mother had already left by that time, so I had to walk home. I spent the whole time looking over my shoulder, afraid that Nick might follow me, but he didn't. When I got home, my mother asked me where I had been. I lied and told her I'd stayed behind to help a teacher.

Now, if I were picking up my child in a place where I knew he was supposed to be, and he didn't come out the door, I wouldn't just go back home. I'd go find him. But maybe that's just me.

After that day, Nick made my life at school a living nightmare. He was always threatening me, saying he was going to take me out behind the field house and teach me a thing or two. Or he'd get me behind the band hall and show me what's what. I dreaded going to school, but I was afraid to tell anyone. I was afraid it would get back to my mother, and of course, she would blame me. She'd say that I must have done something to give him ideas.

Mike's last class of the day was right next door to mine. We would sometimes stand in the hall talking until the bell rang. Since we had so little in common, we never really had much to talk about. "Look, there's my buddy Nick", he said to me that day. Mike turned around just in time to see the look of disgust on my face. "What?" he asked. "Has he been giving you a hard time?" I simply nodded.

The last thing I saw as I turned to go into my class was Mike charging across the hall and slamming Nick against the wall. I don't know what Mike said to him, but Nick never bothered me again after that.
Mike and I lost touch after graduation. I don't know what became of him, or what he made of his life. He may not have changed the world, but I'll never forget him for what he did for me that day.

The day he was my hero.

That's what I find attractive in a man.
Heart Beat





Saturday, March 24, 2007

What A Difference

What a difference a year makes!

Blaze is an almost 2 year old male, amelanistic corn snake:
Sunset is an almost 3 year old male, amelanistic corn snake:
Note that both Blaze and Sunset are in tanks that are 36".

You know how you can know something for a long time, then one day it just hits you that you know it? It hit me just this week how big Sunny has gotten in the last year. By this time next year, Blazie will be about the same size as Sunny is now. Corn snakes are generally considered adults at 3 years of age. Sunny is about there. Blaze is just entering what could be considered his puberty stage. He will grow about a foot in length and double his girth. Sunny, on the other hand, will slow down considerably now that he's reached his adulthood.

At last measurements, Sunny was 46" and Blaze was 34".




Snake Snake Snake





Friday, March 23, 2007

I Finally Finished

I finally finished what I had begun to refer to as The Neverending Scarf. I knit it from a ball of wool blend yarn I had leftover from making Joshua a sweater a couple of years ago. What I didn't realize was that this ball of yarn was an artesian ball. The yarn was reproducing itself at the other end faster than I could knit it up. Once I realized what was happening, I had to work at supersonic speeds to outknit its propensities of perpetual propagation. I succeeded, though I melted my favorite needles in the heat of my furious knitting pace, and finally finished the scarf.

Ok, not really, but it felt that way at times...Still, the scarf turned out nice.

Best of all, it is one more FO to cross off of my WIP list:

1. Prayer Shawl
2. Irish Hiking Scarf
3. Grey Scarf From Unknown Wool Blend
4. Red Heart Strata Scarf
5. Branching Out Lace Scarf
6. Texas Longhorn Scarf
7. First Time Socks
8. Socks using Magic Loop
9. Socks on DPNs using Knit Picks yarn
10. Socks from Red Heart Strata


I also finished the mid-month dishcloth--finally. I'd gotten two days behind on my rows, but yesterday I did both days worth and caught up. The big problem I'm having with these is that I don't like knitting at my computer. But at the same time, I don't want to print out 6 or 7 days worth of patterns and use up a bunch of ink and paper. I could wait until it is done and print the whole pattern out at once, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a knit-along.


Moving right along...



I actually got a good workout last night in class, for the first time since before I was sick. That was nearly a month ago. I was sweating buckets, breathing hard, and my heart rate was up. It felt good. After we did basics, sensei had James and me work with Barrett, Josh, and Blake on two man basics while he did other stuff with the rest of the class. Blake kind of gets on my nerves. James and I are trying to get Barrett and Josh through two man basics because they've got shodan grading coming up soon. Blake started whining that we weren't paying enough attention to him. I apologized, explaining that we were trying to get Josh and Barrett ready for testing. Blake says, "I'm testing, too, in April! I'm testing for my brown. That is just as important as black."


Only two things wrong with that statement, besides the obvious. 1) Two man basics isn't required for third grade brown. 2) Blake has been a purple belt for 4 years. If brown were really that important to him, maybe he should have been coming to class all that time. I don't think it's right that sensei is letting him test. For the last 4 years, Blake has been showing up maybe once every 6 months. Sometimes he'll come in and help teach the kids classes, but leaves before our class starts. About 3 weeks ago, he started coming back to class regularly, and sensei is going to let him test? If it were my dojo, he wouldn't be testing. He would have to show me that he is dedicated and committed before I would let him test.


But that's just me.

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Charlie Waters

Or What I Find Attractive in A Man, Part 1

I've never really understood why people get so spastic over celebrities. It just isn't my thing. On the way home from Wisconsin with the church youth group, somewhere in Missouri, the church van was filled with teenage girls. Suddenly, the girls all started screaming and jumping up and down--as much as one can jump in a van. They were all looking out the window, waving and taking pictures. And screaming. Being the clueless one of the bunch, I asked what was going on. One of the girls turned to me and said,

"It's Richard Gere!"

I didn't even know who Richard Gere was at the time, but these girls had spotted a man in a car and they were sure it was him. After we'd passed the car, the girls were all discussing whether it really was Richard Gere or not. Some of them insisted that it had to be because it looked just like him. Ever the practical one, I burst all their bubbles when I posed the question,

"Come on, what would Richard Gere be doing driving through Missouri?" and although I didn't say it, I could have added, "and being passed by a church van?"

That kind of carrying on has never been my style.

Backtrack a few years--to 7th grade. The girls in my school were all agog over Charlie Waters. I was all agog over him, too, but what I couldn't understand was why they weren't just as agog over Cliff Harris. After all, he was just as good a ball player as Charlie Waters. Why didn't they go goo-goo over him?

"You've got to be kidding! That old bald headed guy?"

I didn't understand how being bald affected his ability to play football. What did it matter anyway? Once he had his helmet on, you couldn't tell he was bald.

"Oh, Becky, you just don't get it."

I'll admit, I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to noticing boys as boys. It was late the next year before I really began to notice boys. Up until then, Charlie Waters was just the best strong safety to ever set foot on a ball field.

Now, let me set the record straight. Just because I was a late bloomer, doesn't mean I was blind.

Yeah, I thought he was cute. It just wasn't as important to me as the way he played football.


Charlie Waters played football with a passion and intensity that was rare, even in those days, and is almost never found among today's pampered pansy players--at all levels of the game. He gave of himself 100% in every game. There was no holding back. And he never quit until the game was done.

Charlie Waters broke his arm. Now, for most players, that would be a season ending injury. Even if it weren't, it would mean a big chunk of the season sitting on the sidelines for them.

Not Charlie Waters. He continued to play, even with his arm in a cast. Not only did he continue to play, he played with such passion and intensity that he broke his arm in two more places inside the cast. Now for most players, that would be a season ending injury. Even if it weren't, it would mean a big chunk of the season sitting on the sidelines for them.

Not Charlie Waters. Doctors inserted a steel rod in his bone, and he continued to play. Not only did he continue to play, he played with such passion and intensity that at times the end of the rod would pop out through the top of his shoulder.

Some people would say that is just foolishness. I don't think so. I think just showed how much he loved the game. It showed the passion he had for what he loved. It showed how much of himself he was willing to give for what he loved.

He carried that passion with him off the field as well, and kept it even after he retired from football. And he still gives of himself 100% in everything he does.

He was, and still is, involved in many charities and community events, including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the I’m Third Foundation of Kanakuk Kamps, the Boles Home for Children, The American Diabetes Association and the Cody Waters Memorial Fund. In interviews, you can still see the passion, the intensity, and ..and..and a joy shining through his life. It shows in his eyes. It sounds in his voice. It works in his actions. It sings through his entire being.


As for his physical appearance...

Well, he can still make guys like



and
hang their heads in shame.

Even at 58 years of age.
That's what I find attractive in a man.

Heart Beat





Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beats Me

Last week, or rather the week before spring break, I got a note home from one of Cody's teachers. Seems he has been violating the school's dress code. Some of the jeans he has been wearing to school have small holes in the knees. His knee skin was exposed. She taped the hole up that day, but if he continued to wear those jeans, she would have to refer him to the office.

But he can wear shorts to school and it's no problem. HUH? Maybe it's just me, but shorts expose a whole lot more skin than a quarter sized hole in his jeans. What a wacky world we live in.

Continuing in the same vein, my little man finished the essay I had assigned him. It was good. It was very good. It was so good, I'd like to share it with you. Here it is in its entirety.

Respect, as defined by Funk and Wagnells, is a deferential regard, or esteem, for someone. Respect is important in many ways and places. Respect is not just to be shown to authority figures, though. Respect is also to be shown to yourself and other people. Respect is to be shown to the snakes and the birds and the cats and the dogs. Respect is to be shown to your belongings. Respect is to be shown to other people's belongings. Respect is to be shown to the father, and respect is to be shown to the mother. Respect has a great impact on what other people think of you. Respect has a great impact on how you think of yourself. Respect is for well-known heroes. Respect is for the common, unsung hero as well. Respect is to be shown to those who die to keep the United States a free country to all its legal inhabitants. Respect is to be shown to those who support our troops. Respect is to be shown to those with strong moral values, and stand by them. One must show respect to one's colleagues, and one must show respect to one's boss. Self respect is an important factor in one's first impression of you. Many parts of your personality is defined by your respect. Your respect also has an impact on your attitude. Your respect also has an impact on how people treat you. Respect is an important factor in modern society and public relations today.

Courtesy is a genuine and habitual politeness. Courtesy is doing what is decent and right. Courtesy is another factor that will make people think better of you. One should be courteous every day in every way. Courtesy is a major part of one's first impression of you. One should be courteous to everyone they meet. If one is courteous, people would probably like to be around him. One should be courteous, not because people will like him, but because it is the right thing to do. Courtesy is being kind to people, and doing what you should do. Courtesy is helping people because you care, not for a reward. Courtesy is giving to the many people who have nothing of their own to support themselves.

Funk and Wagnell's dictionary describes manners as "polite behavior". Manners will affect every one's opinion of you. Without proper manners, one would become the outcast of any social event. Manners are being polite and proper. Once again, your manners will effect people's first impression of you. There are many types of manners. They range from not talking with your mouth full, to telling someone where you are going. Someone exhibiting bad behaviors only makes himself look like a fool. Manners should be exhibited everywhere you go. Manners often make someone look smarter, richer, or brought up in a better family or area. Manners can help make people thing much, much better of you. Manners are a very very important part of society in these modern times.

Pretty good, huh?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Happy Spring and Alan Alda



Happy Spring. I am amused at reading some people's blogs. While they are frantically searching for the first signs of spring, I'm rushing out to get the last of the spring flowers before they die back. I almost waited too late.

Something had been eating at me for a while. I said something that I really shouldn't have, and now it's bugging me. Several months ago, I said that I thought Alan Alda was ugly.

As someone who has been called ugly, both behind my back and to my face, I know how it can hurt. Truth is, I don't really think the man is all that physically unattractive. I don't find him all that attractive, either, but that doesn't mean he is ugly. He's just a little too baby faced for my taste.

What I did when I said that was to get Mr. Alda confused with his character--Hawkeye Pierce. The character of Hawkeye can be hugely funny at times, but for the most part, I found him to be arrogant, opinionated, and tremendously disrespectful to women and anyone who disagreed with him about anything.

The day I posted that first post, we had gotten a couple of series of M*A*S*H on DVD for Christmas, and I had just spent several hours listening to Hawkeye's blame America first anti-war ranting. You know the "This entire war is all America's fault and if we would just pack up and go home, the North Koreans would cease their aggression against South Korea, retreat back behind the 38th parallel, and restore to South Korea its territory and independence and everything would be all hunky dory" kind of thing. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? It was his character's attitude, rather than his physical appearance that made him appear ugly to me. So I offer my apologies to Mr. Alda and everyone who read that post.

But what do I find attractive in a man? Well, that is a whole nother post.

No sketch today. I found a newspaper and read it at lunch instead. Remember yesterday when I said Johnny Lindley was on a tear? Today his tear had escalated to a full scale rampage. I'm even tireder than I was yesterday, and am not even going to attempt my dishcloth rows. I need something more mindless and relaxing--like a sock or scarf.
Sleeping





Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Brain Dead

I've been sitting here about 30 minutes now trying to think of something to blog about, but keep coming up empty. Johnny Lindley was on an absolute tear today and when he is like that, it is exhausting just being in the same building with him. You never know when he is going to explode, and over what. Makes me want to take an extra vacation day, just to have a day away from him.

Then to top it all off, Cody comes in after school, throws his books down and disappears for 5 hours without so much as a how-de-do. Oh, I wasn't worried. I knew where he was. And, yeah, I could have called him and told him to come home. It's just the principle of the thing. So now, in addition to being grounded from life for a week, he's got to write me a 500 word essay on respect, courtesy, and manners. He's not the happy camper.

What I need is a good night's sleep...






Monday, March 19, 2007

All Bottles Are Good

John over at Martial Views has an interesting post up about different styles of martial arts. What is interesting is that in some of the comments, people refer to those who trash talk about other styles of martial arts. Seems there are always those who believe that theirs is the only style that ought to exist--that others are inferior to the point of being worthless. This is not a new thing. Master Shimabuku had to deal with this in some of his first gen Isshinryu students.

As the story goes, students usually stayed after class for a while, talking and drinking. During one of these bull sessions, some of the students began bragging about the superiority of Isshinryu, to the point where they were trashing other styles. Master Shimabuku then indicated several types of beverage bottles and asked which one was the best. Of course, the students had no answer to that, but the master did. He responded, "All bottles are good. They each serve a purpose."

All martial arts styles serve a purpose. No one single style is superior to the others. Each one has its particular weakness and strengths. Later, Sensei Advincula added to it by saying, "Knocking one bottle off does not make the others better." Isshinryu will not improve as a style if we suddenly were to make shotokan or tae kwan do nonexistent. On the contrary, cross training in another style (I generally don't recommend this until one has reached black belt in his own style, though) can actually improve your understanding of your primary style.

I'm normally not into discussing the deep philosophical meanings behind martial arts. But this topic deserved a mention.

All bottles are good--even acrylic ones.

Nice segue into knitting content, don't you think?

A completed sock. Wool blend, though. Not acrylic. But hey, all bottles are good, right?

I've gotten a day behind on my dishcloth rows. Here are yesterday's rows that were done today. I'll do today's rows tomorrow.




and this is my drinking cup that I carry with me at work.
Blog fodder has been lacking of late. I hope to get more interesting soon.
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