Monthly Archives: March 2010

Spring!

  1. Surprise! Look what somebody, sometime, planted against the front of the house!

  2. Birds.  There are Robins, folks,  twittering and hopping about.  And a flicker or two.  And Red-winged blackbirds trilling away in the marsh.  And geese standing around and flying over and honking away.  And some kind of wrens.  They won’t hold still so I can see them.  And a nuthatch out front.  And a bald eagle.  OK, that’s not really spring-ish, but I haven’t seen it since December, and yesterday I got a good close look.  And he got a good close look at me too so now we’re friends or maybe not. He was carefully stepping around on the ice in the marsh pecking at something.  I speculate it was whatever remained of the deer the coyotes took down at about that spot a couple of weeks ago.  And I guess that’s spring-ish because I was out for a walk, not cowering inside from the cold.
  3. Six gallons from this...

    ... plus seven hours of boiling yields just under a quart of this. It made the house bleed in a strange, haunted-seeming way. The drips looked like syrup, but they did not taste like syrup. I recommend not licking unknown substances off your walls.

  4. The ice is melting.  It’s mostly gone right now.  For the moment, the water is running in the river

    There was no dramatic ice-out in the river this year. Maybe next year.

    and it comes and goes in the marsh.

    Mostly goes.

  5. The garden is starting to come out of planning and into execution.  There are parsley and sensitive plant seeds sown (yes, sensitive plant.  I am willing to grow a few non-consumables). This is one hat made to protect a bed from varmints.  At least until stuff is about 19″ tall.  Next steps are constructing the beds, filling with soil, and constructing more hats and some vertical supports.  And sticking to the indoor seeding schedule, of course.
  6. Springtime got to our elected officials in DC, because they actually did something last week.  They must have been desperate to get outside and luxuriate in the sun.  What we need to avoid this type of thing?  Skylights in the capital.  And full-spectrum desk lamps.   Maybe tanning beds?  Get on it, folks.
  7. Rain gear for the kids is obtained.  C’s boots are way too big.
  8. There have been family visits, not very well documented.

    Abusing the visitors

  9. When I look up from my computer I often see this

    It's starting to affect my already self-conscious consciousness. Also affecting? The way I misspelled self-conscious first try.

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Bracketology

Let’s just get this clear right now: I despise watching basketball*.  There are many other sports I rather enjoy (though hockey is almost as high on my despised list as basketball, and for about the same reason).  I dislike basketball because it’s a bunch of guys running up and down and up and down the court.  I just … think it’s not interesting.  And I despise it just because so many other people seem to miss how boring it really is.  Sort of how I despise Bob Dylan — ew, he has the world’s most annoying voice ever recorded and then played endlessly on public radio stations.  Please, public radio, make it stop!

Anyway.

Despite my now-avowed dislike for spectating the game, every year I nevertheless make a bracket on ESPN.com.  I started this to see if my bracket, based on my own made-up criteria which are mostly unrelated to team quality, would beat Brad’s.  It did.  Since that first year, my brackets have never beat his, but honestly, his have been pretty dismal, too., so I have hope.

Here’s my criteria:

  1. North Carolina.  This is rule number one.  North Carolina schools always win the match-up.  An example from this year’s bracket: Duke over TBA.  Duh, TBA sucks.
  2. NC sub-rule:  If two NC teams are matched, and Duke is one of them, I pick Duke.  Otherwise, other rules must be brought to bear.
  3. NC sub-rule:  It rubs off on South Carolina teams a little bit.  It’s not absolute, but because of proximity to NC, and name-similarity, I have a bias toward SC teams.  Other neighbors of NC get no such benefit because their names sound too different.  I picked Clemson over Missouri.
  4. Climate.  Cold climates beat warm climates (New Mexico St vs Michigan St, I pick MI).  Very warm climates beat namby-pamby climates (Tennessee vs San Diego State, I pick TN — after I realize that SDSU is not in South Dakota.  Because namby-pamby climates like San Diego breed wimps).  Being a cold western or mountainous state, however, is not as strong as being a cold flat state.  There just aren’t as many people in cold mountainous states, at least not that are all that into basketball.  So I have Clemson beating Montana.
  5. Schools named after cities lose to schools named after states, because states are bigger than cities.  (For example, Georgetown vs. Tennessee, I pick TN).
  6. Schools named after states directionally lose to schools named after whole states.  Sometimes they might even lose to schools named after big cities.  (East Tennessee State vs. Kentucky, I pick KY).  This can potentially hurt West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  North and South Carolina are, of course, exempt from this rule.
  7. I admit a slight bias toward Texas teams.  TX is big, and I’m from there and thus it naturally has more awesomeness than other states.
  8. I admit a slight bias against Utah teams.  I love UT and all, but folks, it’s a small state, and I know that too well to trust it to perform particularly well on a national level.  These are not very strong criteria, but this year rules 7 and 8 both came into play in the Utah St vs. Texas A&M — I picked A&M.
  9. Land grant schools fare worse than others.  Farmers and miners, you know, just don’t smack of greatness in running up and down a court a lot.
  10. If I have never before heard of a school, I probably won’t pick it.  R Morris, I am looking at you.  How this rule works, of course, varies from year to year, as I have now heard of Villanova.  A few years ago, I might have just picked the name that sounded cooler.  Which is, of course, Villanova.  R Morris sounds like a sausage company.
  11. Just from being married to Brad, and now living in northern NY, I must admit a bias toward Syracuse.  That SURE affected my bracket THIS year.
  12. I don’t usually pick a school which I perceive as being a smart-people school.  That was a tough choice in the Temple vs. Cornell match, but eventually my unresearched belief that people at Cornell are super smart ruled against them.
  13. Other things being equal, I will pick the school in flatter terrain.

These rules run all over each other.  And I might have even forgotten some.  I’m okay with that.  I hate basketball.  But I do certainly enjoy idly thinking up ways to make my bracket more ridiculous.  Because if it is sufficiently stupid, and it still does better than people’s who really like watching basketball, well.  It warms my cold heart, I guess.
*I don’t mind playing basketball.  It’s not my favorite thing, but it doesn’t make me want to die.  I just don’t understand why anyone watches it.  Ever.

He turned six and there was a party

Here's how many children there were. At least how many pinned the backhoe on the tractor. Two didn't, I think.

I ruin all cakes. Brad handled this one, though since it was a brownie, I totally could have done it.

Heavy knitting content: Big ole heels

Look at me. I am stripey. But there's something else to notice!

This is one of the pair of socks I made for H to wear in the ice show.  Yes, it looks funny.  But most socks look a little funny when they’re not being worn.

What is interesting here is the heel.

It’s based on the boomerang heel that I found documented at ThreeSleevesToTheWind.  The difference is that I boomeranged like crazy — every right-side row of the short-row heel.  That funny triangle in there is where I knitted around each time to pick up the wraps.  Basically, I knitted one right-side short-row, wrap the stitch, turn, and purl the corresponding short-row, wrap and turn.  Then I knitted all the way around the whole sock, picking up both wraps as I went, first the one I’d created on the right side, then the one I’d created on the wrong side.  And then I continued along, knitting and purling the next short-rows, and then knitting all around, picking up the wraps.  I do so hate picking up the two wraps together when working a short-row heel, and it was nice to avoid that.  Also, if using self-patterned yarn, the heel and top of the foot will be the same color, so the color pattern doesn’t get interrupted as noticeably.

I did this for H’s socks because my first try was a bit short in the foot, and I was under a deadline and liked where the self-striping yarn ended (The foot is self-striping stuff, and the heel and leg are actual stripes from various scraps).  So I did this in an attempt to make the top of the foot a little longer and not have to change the way the colors were working out.  And to see if it worked.

Now, knitting the whole tube of the foot a little longer would also have been fine.  But making a crazy long heel worked all right too.  And I will be trying this for the next socks I make for Brad, whenever that happens.  Because he has a very weird bone structure in his foot, where his bones actually cross over top of each other.  So his foot is just enormous, and then his heel is correspondingly deep and enormous, and then his ankles seem like they’re barely there, after all this enormity.  This sock heel should give him a little extra room in the top of the foot and the sides of the heel without requiring any sudden decreasing for his ankle (which makes it a problem for him to get his socks over that aforementioned gigantic heel).

I could be wrong.

Ice show and turning six

Sorry, this video is pretty hard to see.  I think Brad was nervous (I was behind the curtain.)  Brad couldn’t actually see H during this video, so he is out of the frame a good bit of the time.  But he is there, in his red sweater and orange suspenders, sort of limping along on his skates!  He only skates on one foot and only pushes with one foot.  This is progress, people — that he will glide at all and not just hang onto the wall.  So, though it’s difficult to see his improvement, I’m proud of his accomplishment.  I think he will only get better, as he seems to enjoy skating.  (In case you can’t find him, he’s the last one on the way out to the middle, and he was the one on the very far right when they lined up and hopped.  He had big blue gloves on.)

I'm a munchkin. Can't you tell?

Here’s what he looked like, up close, at the ice show.

And today H is six!

I'm six!

He put stickers on his face and begged all afternoon to open his presents.  He was only slightly interested in the two books (not a surprise.  After all.  He’s six!)  But he was pretty stoked about the remote control car.  It’s amphibious!

MORPHIBIAN

I’m so glad you’re here, little guy.