Monthly Archives: March 2009

What Are All These Sites and Why Did I Bookmark Them?

Well… in most cases I know why but it’s slightly appalling how much stuff I bookmark and then forget about. Time to clean ‘em out again and since I can’t stand to throw anything away I’ll just throw them here. Some of these are old and I might have linked to them before. If so, here they are again.

FABRIC & SEWING:

Vogue Fabrics – striped cotton oxford cloth
Beacon Fabric and Notions
Quilt batting – including silk and wool
International Fabric Collection
Fabric Paradise – patriotic (USA) fabrics
Craftconn.com – more patriotic fabrics
Favorite Fabrics – more patriotic stuff
Robert Kaufman – still more patriotic fabric. Plus some military fabric
Hayloft Fabrics – guess what category
Toile fabrics
Tumbling blocks instructions
Hand sewing instructions – basic stitches
Bramblestitches – herringbone stitch hem
Saf-T-Pockets Patterns

FOOD:

20 Healthiest Foods for Under $1
Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Rice
Peanut Butter Banana Bread – Warning: highly annoying, hard to close pop-up

JUST FOR FUN:

Web Weirdness
My favorite Rubes on a t-shirt
Bizarre Links Page
“Motivational” Posters – a few with profanity and mildly NSFW pictures
Star Trek Does Windows 95 – way out of date but still funny

MUSIC:

Mozart Online – excellent
Article about opera and athletic skill
Mozart Home Page – another nice Mozart site

MISCELLANEOUS:

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Where to complain about Internet scams
Poison Ivy Prevention
Patriot Icon – USA flag graphics
USA Flag Site – history, FAQs, flag etiquette, forum, etc.
The Question of Global Warming – at the New York Review of Books
San Base Studio, Inc. – digital art gallery
The Lair of Fang-Face Dreamweaver – A personal website, pre-blogging style; censorship issues, fan fic and other writing
Presidential Inauguration site
Unusual Architecture
The “Dark Side” of the Sun – article
Charles Darwin – BBC article
Sci-Fi Sound Files
LucidDreamingInfo.com
How 10 Classic Toys Were Invented

BLOGS:

Archipelagoes – architecture
Random Thoughts
Housewife Savant
An Arkie’s Musings
Sciencetext – computers, Internet, blogging, various other tech topics

Dreaming

It seems like the best dreams are always rudely interrupted. This morning I dreamed that I was at a sidewalk sale or flea market. Everything was in lots and one lot was several wool quilt batts. The price for all of them was 74 dollars and some cents. I was trying to see what size they were when the telephone rang and woke me up.

A Few Links

Fascinating images – various images from the 1700′s and earlier. I especially like the two pictures of a fireworks display at the Palace of Versailles and the birds’ nest pictures. And the library picture.

Hong Konk sunset – a cool Flash toy. (via Bifurcated Rivets)

Heh – funny fake “vintage” ad (for fans of the TV series House)

Zapping mosquitos – This is a serious article but the headline made me laugh. My first thought was that it is possible for something to be both geeky and redneck at the same time. (via Dark Matter)

Victorian Flea Circuses – Fascinating

Modified paintings – Some are obvious; in others you have to look closely to see the modification. I like those more subtle ones better.

The Will Rogers Phenomenon – Interesting.

The Big Finale

I finally saw the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. I won’t give away the ending but I will say it was a good ending. For just a moment, when I first realized what was going on I was a little bit disappointed. I felt like, “No, no, this is not the way it’s supposed to be,” but only for a moment. Then I decided that it was a very good ending.

I feel like I sort of missed out on some of the impact of it because I was interrupted by a power failure after seeing a little more than half of it. I didn’t get any real feeling of awesomeness. But I don’t know… maybe there was no awesomeness.

To be honest, I’m sort of glad the show has finally ended. I’ve always had mixed feelings about it. Mostly it has been interesting but a little too soap-opera-ish for my tastes so the whole time I was watching it and mostly enjoying it I was also feeling like, “Okay, can we just get on with it? Enough of the deep, dark drama already. Let’s have a little more story.”

So now I wonder what’s next for the SciFi Channel. (or maybe I should say “siffy”) I still have the Stargate special to watch. I assume Dr. Who will be back eventually. But other than those I’m not aware of anything interesting in the works. (which might just be because I haven’t been paying much attention) You know… when I magically become a billionaire overnight I’m going to start my own SciFi channel that will feature only good quality science fiction programs – no wrestling or ghost hunters or any garbage like that. I haven’t decided what I’ll call it yet but whatever it is I promise I’ll spell it correctly.

Still Not Impressed With eBooks

Sony has teamed up with Google to challenge the Kindle in the e-book wars. [Yawn] Yeah it’s nice that you can read Google’s entire public domain library on it but the reader itself still costs over $300 dollars.

Look! These days, for $300 you can get an actual computer. Here’s what I expect in an e-book reader: I want one for 100 dollars or less that’s roughly the size of a mass market paperback and that will let me read any text file, PDF or any other damn kind of file that anyone in the history of the world has ever come up with for displaying words on a screen. And of course I want to be able to connect it to my PC and download stuff as effortlessly as using a flash drive. Until you (Sony, Amazon and anyone else who makes these things) can do that just go away and don’t bother me anymore.

Thanks, Glenn.

Quotes From Here and There

Are there any planets that are a guilty pleasure for Galactus, in the way that, say, a bucket of fried chicken might be a guilty pleasure for humans right now? As in, “Boy, I don’t eat gas giants all that often because they’re really not terribly good for me, but sometimes I gotta indulge!”here

…it seems that for many of us, we live in a time of unprecedented health – but instead of society being grateful for it, they look for new things to scare us about.there

It’s interesting that so many people today are abandoning “traditional” religions, but can’t seem to get by without replacing it with some woo-woo, new age mumbo jumbo about Mother Gaia and her sweaty folds.here

Anyway, the way these new writers talk you’d think it was still the “Golden Age” of scifi and there was nothing but rocket fic and stories about space princesses. All I can say is, would that it were!there

Whatever…

Busy, busy, busy. Most of my busy-ness is of my own choosing – things I have decided that I want to do and therefore I must do them. But I still feel the pressure of “not enough time.” Often, when I start feeling that I don’t have enough time that’s when I start slacking off and procrastinating. Strange.

I’m a little more than halfway finished with the quilt I’ve been working on. It’s about time to start the top for the next one. Cutting is the part of quilting that I like the least so I put off starting until tomorrow. (and tomorrow and tomorrow) A few days ago I started a regular sewing project using some fabric that’s been in my stash for a couple of years but since cutting it out I haven’t done anything else to it.

As Fillyjonk said about quilting, “The problem with these long-term projects is they don’t have attractive, photogenic “stages” you can capture and show as pictures.” I don’t like to post “stages” pictures anyway. I prefer to wait and show off the finished project. I’m not a craft blogger so I guess that doesn’t matter, in my case.

Here’s something unrelated from the same blog. It’s very funny but I’m sort of embarrassed about linking to it. It’s a little bit NSFW but too funny to pass up. And by the way, that shopping bag gives me another reason to never shop at certain stores. I have never been embarrassed to be seen carrying around a bag from Wal-mart or J.C. Penney.

* * * * *

We’re finally getting some rain. Unfortunately, this time of year the rain comes with cold. It’s dark and gloomy this morning and we’re supposed to get more rain and possibly snow tonight. And possibly thunderstorms. Just in time for the re-run of the Battlestar Galactica series finale which I missed the end of because of the power failure caused by thunderstorms!. What timing!

The weather is also delaying our big home improvement project. Our new windows arrived Monday. We got one installed – the small kitchen window. It took less than an hour, not including the trim. The weather is supposed to be better on Sunday so we might get a couple more windows in on Sunday afternoon.

* * * * *

I saw a sort of neat old movie a couple of nights ago. My Other Half had to go save the world as we know it (i.e. He was on call and had to go to work for a while.) so I was by myself surfing through the channels one last time before turning off the TV and came across The Bad Man, a 1941 movie starring Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore and Ronald Reagan. I had never seen Reagan in anything that old so I was going to watch just enough of it to see what he looked like way back then but I ended up watching the whole thing. It was totally ridiculous and very funny. Reagan was completely upstaged by Beery and Barrymore. Both were hilarious. Barrymore played a cantankerous and constantly complaining old uncle and Beery was the “bad man”, a stereotypical Mexican bandit complete with bad accent and rhinestone studded costume. The story involved the stereotypical “We’re gonna lose the ranch if we don’t pay the mortgage by 8:00 o’clock,” plot and the Bad Man and his gang arrive to complicate matters and ultimately solve all problems. I know, I know… it all sounds awful but it really was very funny and only 70 minutes long. If you ever get the chance, watch it. It’s not a bad way to waste an hour and ten minutes.

UPDATE: Chill Wills also had a small role in it. That was the youngest I’ve ever seen him. I’m used to seeing him as an old man.

Here’s the orginal trailer:

A Two-Year-Old Can Do It

For anyone who’s ever looked at an abstract painting and said, “A two-year-old could do that,” here’s your proof, I suppose.

I find the prissy art critic highly amusing. He apparently thinks the paintings are good enough that a two-year-old could not have done them without adult help. Personally, I like abstract art but it is a mystery to me, what makes one painting good enough to be considered worthy of display in a serious art gallery (and worth hundreds or thousands of dollars) and another merely childish doodling worthy only of display on the family refrigerator. On one level it is nothing more than smears of paint and I see no reason why a two-year-old child (or maybe an ordinary housewife) wouldn’t have just as much chance of creating an abstract masterpiece as an elite artist who has been “properly educated” and “paid his dues.” In fact, I like this little girl’s paintings much better than I like Jackson Pollock’s (for example) but I see nothing especially amazing about the fact that she creates paintings that are pleasing to the eye.

I keep thinking maybe someday I’ll give it a try myself if I can ever make time in between all the quilting, sewing, reading, pretending to garden and minimum required housework.

We’re Number One

Last week Brit Gal posted a list of What the UK Does a lot Better. Well, as a proud American I have to admit that I was a bit miffed, though I couldn’t argue since I haven’t been to the UK. And there are a couple of items that I can easily believe. One is cheese. I’ve heard before that there are more varieties of cheese available in Europe and I have to say that I am very envious. Another thing is irony. Yeah… I’m not usually a big fan of irony. I feel that it’s sort of like salt – you never need more than a little and you don’t need to add it to everything. But a lot of people here simply don’t get irony and sarcasm at all and it’s seriously annoying to have to explain to someone, “No, not really! That was irony.” And then once in a while you run into those very strange folks who refuse to accept it even after you tell them, always insisting that everyone literally means exactly what they say.

There are several other items on the list that I, sadly, have to admit that we probably are behind in. I’ve always thought multi-story parking garages at malls would be a good idea even though I hate parking in them. Just because we have a lot of land is no excuse for wasting it all on parking lots. Internet services – yeah, I know my Internet service isn’t what it should be. Some things are regional. You can get fresh fish if you live near the coast.

But what I really started out to write about is that this week Brit Gal posted about one thing that we do better in the US and it’s a biggie: Public Restrooms. I suspect that most Europeans would find us irrationally picky about our public restrooms. Let one be slightly less than hospital clean and we are outraged about how “filthy” it is. And I, personally, expect every business and public building to have one. There are a lot of businesses that don’t, of course, and I think really bad thoughts about those businesses, especially the bigger stores. I can sort of forgive small independent specialty shops.

I’m not too sure about all the automatic stuff. I generally like new-fangled futuristic gadgets but some things are better done the old fashioned way. Automatic everything means you don’t have to touch anything, which is good I suppose if you are fanatical about germs but they don’t always work. Apparently very few people realize that the automatic flush toilets can be flushed manually if they don’t work. I can excuse anyone who doesn’t know because it’s not that obvious. They need make the button at least an inch across and bright red and have a big sign with an arrow pointing to the button, saying, “If the toilet doesn’t flush automatically push the damn button! What in hell is the matter with you; were you born in a barn?” but instead they make them blend into the design so well that if you don’t realize there’s a button you never see it and most people wouldn’t think to look. Understandably, they just want to get out of there as quickly as possible. But now you know because I just told you so don’t ever let me catch you leaving an unflushed toilet.

I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do if the automatic faucets don’t work. Is there a secret button that I haven’t discovered yet? Another problem with the automatic stuff is that it doesn’t work well for little kids and sometimes scares them, as someone said in the comments over there.

Anyway, the revelation about the differences between British and American loos makes me feel a little less bad about the fact that I’ll probably never get to go over there for a visit. I’m afraid the old world restrooms might tend to spoil my enjoyment of all the old world charm.

Surfing and Puttering

It’s windy today. Very windy. It makes me a wee bit nervous when it gets this windy. I’m hoping our fair-weather Internet connection will cooperate long enough for me to find some fascinating things to link to so there’ll be something here to keep you wonderful people entertained for a while. And I just finished a book I’ve got to tell you about soon but maybe not for another day or two.

Yesterday we completely re-built one of our flower beds. We just put the same stuff back in it but it was in a low place so we moved a lot of dirt to make it higher then put a few big rocks around it. It has a lot of irises and a couple of daylilies and they’re not blooming yet. We probably should have done this in the fall or winter but I’m sure it will be okay. Irises and daylilies are as near unkillable as plants can be. I’ll wait until it’s more interesting before I take a picture. I need to add some stuff that will bloom later in the summer. One of the daylilies and some of the irises are “rebloomers” but the reblooming is very intermittent.

I need to work on the flower bed in back too. The cats think that one is their bathroom so I put down a few rocks where they wanted to go and that seems to have changed their minds but now I need to remove the rocks so I can plant some stuff there so I’m thinking chicken wire, which I really hate and don’t want to deal with but I don’t know what else to do. The chemical or herbal animal deterrents don’t work, the cats act like, “Hmmm, what an interesting smell. I think I’ll hang out here for a while and investigate.” Several of the catalogs have these cat scat mats which look they would be a really good idea if the stuff came in big rolls but it’s just these little 8″X7″ things and they cost over 20 dollars for just three of them. I’ve seen them for less but not enough less. I need acres of the stuff. Well, maybe not literally acres but a lot.

Another Quote

I saw this in the side bar over there and I really like it a lot.

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

– C.S. Lewis

I think that might be the perfect philosophy for a happy life. I’m not saying I’m there yet. I still haven’t entirely given up my wish to be grown up someday.

Worst Timing Ever!

Frak! Frak! Frak! Frak! Last night we were watching the Big Important Battlestar Galactica series finale. We noticed it had started raining a little bit and we heard distant thunder. About fifteen or twenty minutes into the second hour there was a big “oh wow” moment and then, as they normally do after such moments, they went to commercials. It was during that commercial break that our power went off. Frak! I hope they rerun the episode really soon. Until then I’m going to have to be very careful what I read on the Internet. No spoilers, not even hints, in the comments please.

Quote

“We’re all born strangers to ourselves and each other, and we’re seldom formally introduced.”

– from Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Random Linkage

I want! – Yes, I do already have those four symphonies but not by Charles Mackerras. On the same blog: clear things. That refrigerator is just about the dumbest idea I’ve ever seen.

A list of architecture and landscape blogs and a weird 16th century illustration.

The Renaissance Kitchen – includes 16th century illustrations, a recipe and a few links

Useful Firefox add-on

Timothy Atherton – black and white photography. (via Bifurcated Rivets)

Homer Simpson clock – No, I most emphatically do not want one. It’s just one of those silly things that made me laugh way out of proportion to its actual funniness.

Virtual Museums – Now that’s a social network I might be interested in joining.

Angel Food Cake – I’ve never thought of adding orange extract. I must try this recipe but I’ll probably “cheat” and use powered egg whites. They’ve always worked pretty well for me.

Dezeen – a design blog. Don’t miss the odd Japanese tea house

Dornob – an art and design site. New and old stuff.

Weird sculptures – a few slightly disturbing or NSFW

3 interesting tea or coffee mugs – Well, actually, only the bottom two are interesting to me.

Friends – several great photos

Immigration

You know… I know that we can’t make immigration too easy. We can’t let everyone in and we have to be careful who we do let in. But I can’t help thinking that if legal immigration is this hard it’s no wonder so many people are here illegally. Or, another way of looking at it is that if the USCIS wouldn’t waste so much time and energy making things difficult for people who are trying do it right they might have more time to do something about the illegals.

Quotes From Here and There

Actually, I’ll tell you what I really think about blog design. It’s main purpose is to amuse the blogger.here

People change their passions so often, it appears, that it’s probably not even worthwhile to bother listening to some people’s latest passions. For myself, I’ll stick with a few mildly interesting things. They seem to last longer. there (via)

Seriously, does the Oklahoma legislature have nothing more important to do than make sure that people don’t tattoo their eyeballs and that cowboys don’t work on their horse’s teeth. here

Stowaway

A bat took a ride into space

A small bat that was spotted blasting off with the space shuttle Sunday and clinging to the back side of Discovery’s external fuel tank apparently held on throughout the launch.

[...]

“Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist,” NASA officials said Tuesday. “The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery’s climb into orbit.”

No kidding, Einstein. I bet it was a hell of a ride while it lasted though.

What the frak?!

The SciFi Channel is planning to change its name to SyFy. Fans are understandably outraged. Me? I’m just sad.

I’ve always been disappointed with the SciFi Channel. They actually have very little science fiction. They have had a few good shows but it’s mostly bad horror movies, Ghost Hunters and wrestling. So they’re trying to rid themselves of the “geeks and dysfunctional anti-social boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that” type of fans. (note the comic strip) Do you get that? Even the SciFi Channel doesn’t respect science fiction fans!

So this is sad but not surprising. I don’t like it but the change is actually appropriate since it’s never been (at least since I’ve been watching it) really, primarily, a science fiction channel.

Thanks, Andrea.

Someplace Different

Here’s a lovely post. It’s always interesting to see a place through the eyes of a person who came from somewhere very different. The flat land, the miles and miles of “wide open spaces”, has always seemed very boring to me but that post truly makes it seem like a wonderful place.

I’ve never lived in a place exactly like that. I’ve only driven through the wide open spaces and maybe driving through it is the problem. You’re trapped in a car and there’s nothing to see and you don’t stop to look around because there’s nowhere that seems like a good place to stop.

For most of my life I’ve lived in small to medium sized towns, with just a few years in real cities. For more than ten years we lived in the “Hampton Roads” area of Virginia where there are several cities – Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach – jammed together so that you can’t tell where one ends and another begins and you can drive for two hours or more and never get out of town. When I was there it didn’t really seem much like living in a city though – more like a town that goes on and on and on with all the same stores and fast food places over and over again. It wasn’t until we moved here that I fully realized that the area where I had been living was a big city. And not just a city but an eastern city which makes it very different from Tulsa.

There was one particular moment when it hit me that I am now somewhere really different from where I had been. It was when I got my first Atwood’s ad in the mail. Atwoods is a farm and ranch store. They have tools, auto and tractor parts, gardening supplies, lots of stuff for horses, pet foods and supplies and western style work clothes among other things. There is nothing like it back east. I grew up in Texas and Arkansas so this wasn’t something totally new to me; it was more like realizing I was “back home” but still, it sort of took me by surprise. For a while, every time I went into Atwood’s I felt like, “Oh wow, this is cool; I can’t believe I’m in a place like this.”

For most of my life I was always a little conflicted about what kind of place I would like to live if I could live anywhere I wanted. I wanted to live in the big city but I wanted lots of space – a big, beautiful house surrounded by at least several acres, with lots of big trees. I guess what I really wanted was to be wealthy enough to have an estate on the outskirts of a major city. Well, now I’ve got the acres and the trees. (and a sort of crappy little house) I can walk around through the trees and almost feel like I’m living in a national park.

So, though this part of Oklahoma is different from Brit Gal’s Oklahoma, I totally understand the thrill of being someplace different. I do have close neighbors, there’s some traffic on the road, maybe half a dozen cars an hour, there’s never complete silence but I still have a general feeling of “peace and quiet”. We’ve been here for more than thirteen years (Wow… thirteen years?) so it’s not new anymore but still much appreciated and enjoyed.

The Dumb Slogan Everyone Wants

Wisconsin wants to register their new slogan – Live Like You Mean It – as a trademark. The problem is that several businesses already use that slogan and some of them are not happy.

The article doesn’t mention it but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard, “Live like you mean it,” on commercials for Cherokee Casino and Resort. If Wisconsin goes ahead with their plans to use the slogan I promise I won’t confuse them with the Cherokee Casino but it won’t make me any more likely to visit that state. Not that I wouldn’t. I understand they have a nice lake up that way. But that slogan has always annoyed me a little bit.

The Cherokee Casino commercials always show a lot of happy, beautiful people gambling, drinking, dancing and all sorts of other fun things that don’t look particularly fun to me. In the older commercials they simply said, “Live again.” More recently it was “Live like you mean it.” So… if I don’t do all those things they show in the commercials I’m not really living? If I don’t go cartwheeling (see the logo) across Wisconsin I’m not really living? I’m alive but I don’t really “mean it”, whatever that means?

I want to make my own “Live Like You Mean It” commercial. It would show people sitting around in their living rooms and on their decks and patios reading books or quietly talking with family and friends. It would show people sewing, gardening, woodworking, fly-tying and napping in hammocks and in recliners. It would show people surfing the Internet and even watching TV and it would say, proudly and without a trace of irony, “Live like you mean it.” Those of us who are not party animals are living and we do “mean it”. We like our quiet, ordinary lives and we demand some respect.

Is there a 12 step program for quilters?

Today my mother and I went to Sager Creek Quilts. What a great little store! So much wonderful fabric! That place is seriously hard on the willpower but I somehow managed to leave with only one item that I didn’t plan on buying.

I found, as I was hoping to, the perfect fabric for the border of a quilt for which I already have all the other fabrics. The impulse buy was a quilt pattern that I happened to see and to be honest, I’m regretting it now. I’ve never a bought a quilt pattern before. Usually I just see a quilt I like and figure out how to make it and it looks like that’s what I’m going to have to do with this one because for $10 I’ve got a nice color picture of two quilts, a little plastic triangle and a sheet of incomprehensible instructions.

I wouldn’t have bought it except I really liked it a lot and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember it well enough and wouldn’t be able to find it online. The company that makes the pattern does have a website – timetoquilt.com. The pattern is called “Think Inside the Box”. I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want to have to deal with someone who’s pissed off because I don’t like her quilt pattern.

I’m sure it’s just me anyway. I told you before that I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s probably really simple to more experienced quilters and the way I end up doing it will probably be the “hard way” but my way is the only way I can do things. So I learned a lesson today and I guess that’s worth something. What I learned – don’t buy quilt patterns.

Anyway, I love Sager Creek Quilts. This was my second in-the-flesh visit and it won’t be my last but I’m sort of glad it’s not any closer to where I live. When I look at their fabric I think not just about quilts but also clothes. I saw maybe two or three dozen fabrics that I very badly want for dresses or blouses (You have too many clothes already, Lynn. Too many clothes, too many clothes.) and lots of fabrics that would work very nicely for future quilts that I already had in mind, plus lots of inspiration. Actually, wanting so much helps with the willpower because trying to pick just one or a few from so many is so overwhelming that it’s easier to buy nothing and tell myself I’m going to go home and think about it. And fortunately thinking usually leads me to the obvious conclusion that I don’t need any more fabric.