Monthly Archives: October 2009

Mixed Food Stuff

Wal-mart haters will like this, I suppose. No, I haven’t exactly joined you. As I’ve pointed out before, out here where we don’t have mile after mile of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s and other acceptable retailers, shopping at Wal-mart is not a choice; it’s a part of life. But I am thinking I should stop buying most of my groceries there. Wal-mart is supposed to be all about low prices but that is not true of their groceries. I’m not going to say how much I spent but… DA-AMN! And just so we’re clear that was a long, southern redneck two-and-a-half syllable “damn.”

I like to buy groceries at Wal-mart because their hamburger is fresher and they’re the only store here that has Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar which I can’t live without. (if you’ll pardon the hyperbole) But I guess I could change my shopping habits. I already buy groceries at Reasor’s sometimes, depending on what I’m planning to buy so I guess I could try to shop there most of the time.

I was planning to make this today or tomorrow “just because” but I forgot to buy the cream cheese so I guess it’s going to be tomorrow. I could go back to town today but it’s not urgent and I really hate to have to go back for just one thing. I’m sure my other half will think of something he wants in town this weekend so I’ll wait until then.

I bought a little bit of candy for Halloween even though we never get trick-or-treaters. It would just seem wrong to not have any. I usually buy a bag of the mixed bite-size Hershey bars but this time I bought the little Reese’s cups instead. Also, I saw this light and dark brown candy corn. It’s chocolate and caramel flavor. I had to get some to see what it’s like. I don’t love it but it’s okay. It doesn’t taste much like chocolate or caramel; it just tastes like candy corn that’s a little off. Of course, it seems like regular candy corn has been a little off for years. It’s just not as good as it used to be but it’s still an absolute requirement for Halloween.

And speaking of candy, I think this must be the treat of the week: a non-preachy food article in the NYT. It’s about a lean and healthy 51 year old guy who lives on candy. He does eat a few other things besides candy: bagels and breakfast cereal, dry, straight out of the box and he does not pig out. Part of me cringes at the very idea. I guess I’ve been indoctrinated because that just seems wrong and yet, I’m glad that there are rebels out there proving that the health police are not always right. (via)

Just to be cautious I’m going to wait until I reach age 100 then I’m going to change my diet to consist exclusively of pizza, ice cream, candy and pie. (update: Oops. I almost forgot about hot Tex-Mex food. Gotta have that at least once a week.)

Wearing Dresses

Yesterday was International Wear a Dress Day. Oops. I missed it. I probably wouldn’t have worn a dress even if I had known. I wear dresses in the summer and sometimes on “special occasions” other times of the year but I’ve thought about buying some tights and occasionally wearing a dress in the winter “just because”. Long sleeved dresses look so nice and (the truth comes out) I would really love to sew some pretty, long sleeved dresses – which I shouldn’t sew if I’m not going to wear them.

Erin has a list of answers to excuses for not wearing dresses. I have to admit that I do hate when people ask me “What are you all dressed up for?” or “My, you look nice today,” in that tone that suggests that I’m too dressed up. I wish I could think of something clever to say. Usually I just say something like, “I’m not dressed up; this is just what I felt like wearing.” I’ve been tempted to say, “I’m dressed normal. What are you dressed down for?” but that sounds a little too mean. Still…

I do like dresses but I feel more comfortable in pants. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable in dresses but I somehow feel more free in pants. It’s hard to explain. In a dress I feel like I have to be more careful and only move in certain ways. It’s hard to really feel relaxed in a dress. I guess that’s just habit. If I wore dresses more often they would feel more normal.

I particularly like this paragraph from Erin’s answers:

“I work in a male-dominated industry, and I don’t want to look too feminine.” Newsflash: I’m pretty sure they already know you’re a girl. If you treat femininity as something to apologize for, so will they. Do they worry that they are “too masculine”? I’m betting not. Acting like a guy means doing whatever the hell you want whenever the hell you want until stopped by force (as far as I can tell). So if you want to seem less feminine to fit in, try that first.

Yes! Be feminine and be proud! I have never understood how it is that some women think that behaving more like men will improve women’s position in society.

So anyway… there’s a Danskin store in the Nearby Small Town. I wonder if they sell cotton spandex tights in large sizes. (Every other place I’ve looked only has nylon.)

Mystery Zipper

This is bizarre. It must be a joke. Some Chinese designer is sitting over there having a good laugh about how he or she confused the Americans and kept us up at night wondering what the heck that zipper is for.

Quotes From Here and There

To put it as simply as possible, I’ve sought to write a narrative biography of Louis Armstrong that is comparable in seriousness, scope, and literary quality to a “definitive” high-culture biography of a great novelist–or a great classical composer. Very few popular-music biographies have aspired to that kind of standard, but it seems obvious to me that Satchmo was a figure of comparable artistic and cultural significance, and deserves to be written about in the same way.here

Little boys used to be given toy guns to play with, then grew up and never shot anyone. Now they’re forbidden from even drawing a gun on a piece of paper at school, and shoot each other by the hundreds in the streets.there

Not everyone belongs to a trendy little clique that spends all their time “dropping in” and drinking cocktails.here

Hardly anyone actually writes things on paper with a pencil anymore. Everyone else lives in the virtual world where Sibelius doesn’t mean Swan of Tuonela but rather the most updated notation software.there (via)

Just the Weather

It’s dark and gloomy out this morning. For a little bit the sky was that odd yellow-gray color you see sometimes, casting a weird, gold-green light on the world but it’s looking a little more “normal” now. Checked the weather and there’s a line of thunderstorms stretched north and south all the way across Oklahoma. And on the western side of the state there might be snow. Snow?! No no no no no! It’s too soon. We don’t want no stinking snow. We want our global warming. Just a little, for the next four or five months.

But the latest news is that the Earth might not be warming after all. Looks like there was a lot of cherry-picking going on there. A lot of people are still preaching the gospel of anthropogenic global warm… uh… I mean climate change.

I don’t know. Maybe the Earth is warming; maybe it’s not. I’m not going to jump on either bandwagon. All I know is that I have no respect for anyone who says it’s settled – that the debate is over. If you’re trying to shut up the opposition it seems to me that your position must be rather weak, or you fear that your position is weak.

But I meant to talk about the weather, not the climate. It’s not cold now but will get cold within the next few hours. It’s dark and gloomy (which actually looks sort of cool) so I need to hurry and post this before my satellite Internet connection decides to take a nap for the day. If I was going to say anything interesting I’ve forgotten what it was anyway.

Fur Before Green

I have recently run into a tragic side effect of the Earth Friendly movement. I have long been in the habit of giving my freshly emptied tuna cans to my cats as a treat but the local stores no longer have tuna in small cans. I don’t buy the large cans because I’m the only one in my family who likes tuna. Now it only comes in large cans and little pouches. Won’t someone Please Think of the Children! (Well, they think they’re my children and they would think it was tragic if they ever noticed that they’re not getting tuna cans anymore.)

More Andre Norton

I’m still on my treasure trove of Andre Norton. I have been procrastinating on this so long I’ve read five and a half books since my last Andre Norton post. I guess I should title this “The Andre Norton Discussion, Part II” but since there wasn’t any discussion on part one it felt too ironic.

I decided to read the Ross Murdock series because I liked the cover of the second book in the series, Galactic Derelict. The one I have has the last cover shown on that page, the 1972 cover. The colors are brighter on mine though. Mammoths, naked savages and a big spherical space ship – how could anyone resist?

There are seven books in this series. I read the first four. In The Time Traders delinquent Ross Murdock is recruited by a secret government agency whose mission is to go back in time to find ancient alien artifacts before the Soviets find them. In this first book the time agents go back to prehistoric Europe where they have exciting adventures involving primitive tribes, the Soviets, scary aliens and a mind controlling alien space suit.

My favorites in the series were Galactic Derelict and The Defiant Agents. In Galactic Derelict we meet Travis Fox who is an archaeologist and an Apache Indian. The time agents first go back to the age of mammoths and sabre tooth cats then in the “present” they accidentally take off in the derelict space ship and visit several planets where they find evidence of dead civilizations. In The Defiant Agents Travis Fox along with a group of other modern Apaches are sent to colonize the planet Topaz. Once there they find that the Soviets have also sent colonists and that both governments have given their colonists a drug that’s supposed to awaken their ancestral memories and primitive instincts.

In Key Out of Time the time agents are marooned in the past on the tropical ocean planet Hawaika and become involved in the war that apparently destroyed that world’s civilization.

A while back Jaquandor of Byzantium’s Shores reviewed The Zero Stone so I decided to read that next. I finished it a few days ago and I’m now well into the sequel, Uncharted Stars. I like these the best of all my Andre Norton reads so far. Click on the link for a good review.

These books are all much shorter than those I’m used to reading. I am attracted to long books with complex stories and lots of detail but these are the kind of books that originally got me interested in science fiction in the first place and reading them is like returning to the place where you grew up and finding that it hasn’t changed. It’s not a place where I want to stay forever but it’s nice to go back there once in a while.

Uh Oh…

I just got a message from Flickr telling me that I am nearing my 200 photo limit and inviting me to upgrade to Flickr Pro. Darn. I originally signed up for Flickr to avoid using up all my webspace on photos. I knew there had to be a limit but since I’ve never come anywhere near my monthly upload limit I assumed that the overall limit must be really huge. I know $24.95 a year isn’t bad but I am habitually reluctant to pay for stuff. (i.e. I’m a tightwad.) It would be cheaper to upgrade my web hosting package. That still wouldn’t give me unlimited storage space. Maybe I should start removing older photos.

UPDATE: Correction. Yes I knew it was a year not a month. Brain on autopilot this morning I guess.

UPDATE II Well, come to think of it, it would not be cheaper to upgrade my web hosting package. I really should wait until after I’m fully awake and sufficiently caffeinated to get on the Internet.

Smart

Saw this quote on Now That’s Nifty:

Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart,”
all I hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart.”

* * * * *

And then there’s this from the same site:

Researchers from the University of Toledo have reported the first ever case of someone using the internet while asleep

[...]

She then composed and sent three emails. Each was in a random mix of upper and lower cases, not well formatted and written in strange language.

Are they sure she was really asleep? That sounds pretty normal for what you see on the Internet.

Music of My Childhood

When I was a little kid I probably had even more eclectic taste in music than I have now. I think that’s pretty normal for kids. When you’re six years old it’s all just music. My dad was one of those “I like both kinds of music, country and western” kind of people so I heard a lot of country music in the 60s and early 70s. My mom has always had somewhat broader tastes and had a few pop albums and even one classical. It had The 1812 Overture and I can’t remember what else.

I listened to rock and roll during the 70s, like all the other kids. By the 80s I had stopped paying much attention to music and it became just background noise. Then, slowly, I started listening to classical music because I was tired of being bored with the music I was listening to and by the mid to late 90s I had stopped paying attention to everything else.

Living in Oklahoma it is impossible to avoid hearing country music even if one doesn’t listen to it but I still don’t know anything about what’s going on in the country music world these days. A few days ago we had the TV tuned to the local news. We were talking and not paying much attention when I heard country music on TV and saw an African-American face. I was surprised and a little sad that I was surprised. Is this still unusual? As I said, I haven’t been keeping up but it seems to me that country music is still very white.

The singer was Darius Rucker. Later I looked him up on YouTube. I listened to a few of his songs: It Won’t Be Like This For Long and Alright and Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It. I don’t have much to say about those. Typical country sound; not bad for country music.

Naturally, I started thinking about the only other Black country singer I’ve ever heard of: Charley Pride. I guess back in the 60s it was a Really Big Deal that he was “colored”, as people used to say then but I don’t remember any of the adults I knew being especially worked up about it. I remember some people saying, in slightly awe-struck voices, “That n****r can really sing!” but no one that I knew seemed to think there was anything wrong with it and they were happy enough to buy his records and listen to him on the radio. I have heard that at first his race was kept secret – his picture wasn’t on his album covers and he didn’t appear on TV – but I personally don’t remember ever not knowing that he was Black.

This was one of the songs I liked when I was a little kid. Very cute, a love song about wooden Indians.

Here’s another one; something a little more traditional.

Recently Completed Sewing

A while back I complained that I couldn’t find a pattern for elastic waist pants with the right kind of pockets – that is, normal pants pockets, not side seam pockets. I finally found one. It’s a scrubs pattern. I expected the pants to be too baggy and they are but that will be easier to fix than the wrong kind of pockets. It greatly annoys me though, that of all the dozens of patterns for women’s pants there are actually only two or three styles.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 2807. Here is a closeup of the pocket.

New pants, pocket close-up

Kwik Sew is my favorite pattern company. Their patterns are printed on opaque white paper instead of thin tissue paper. In some ways, tissue paper is preferable but the heavier paper lasts much longer, which is great for those “never goes out of style” basics. I have a Kwik Sew pattern for a simple pullover knit top that I’ve had for about 20 years and used many times and it’s still not even close to wearing out. The pattern pieces also fit back into the envelope more easily, which is probably the opposite of what you would expect. And the pattern envelopes now open on the side instead of the top which also helps make it easier to put the pieces back in. Kwik Sew has a lot of styles to choose from (at least in blouses and dresses) including simple, basic styles.

The fabric I used for the pants is stretch corduroy. This is one of my top three favorite kinds of fabric. It’s very soft and comfortable. Pants made from it are as comfortable as sweatpants and yet can look semi-dressy and it’s a little quieter than regular corduroy. I ordered the fabric from Denver Fabrics, which is actually located in Missouri, not Denver. I love this company because they have a great variety of fabrics, including lots and lots of stretch corduroy which is hard to find, but I also dislike them because they are slow. Missouri is geographically “right next door” but I get stuff from halfway across the country much faster. The wording of their confirmation emails is a little odd. I don’t have one saved that I can copy from but they say something like, “Your items will be shipped pending approval of your credit card.” Well, of course all purchases everywhere are pending approval of the customer’s credit card but that usually takes only about 10 seconds. That they would make a point of saying this makes me think that they have some kind slow, old-school verification process and that accounts for the slowness of their shipping. Another annoying thing about Denver Fabrics is that you can’t get sample swatches from them. But anyway, they have a lot of nice fabrics, including some that are hard to find so it’s worth putting up with their quirks.

I also recently finished this brightly colored flannel shirt. This is going to be one of my “brighten up a cold, gray gloomy day” shirts. Here it is with the stretch corduroy pants.

Modeling a new outfit

I love this fabric but I hate the pattern, which makes this extremely disappointing. I wish I had used my favorite big shirt pattern. (an old one that’s out of print now) Instead I used Butterick 5261. This is a very odd pattern. I used it because I wanted this shirt to have raglan sleeves and this is the only button front pattern I could find with raglan sleeves. (Hey, pattern companies: How about some variety, not just 50 versions of the same thing!) I straightened out the hem because I wanted a straight hem not curved. Otherwise I made it exactly according to the pattern. It turns out that the sleeves are not true raglan sleeves but sort of a hybrid between raglan and saddle shoulder and also designed for someone with way fatter shoulders than mine. But my biggest complaint about it is that the neck opening is too wide for a winter blouse. I’m going to have to use this as a layering garment over a lightweight turtleneck which was not my intention since the fabric is a nice medium weight flannel that is warm enough by itself.

Pumpkin Cookies

I made these pumpkin cookies this afternoon. They’re okay but not great. I used canned pumpkin and I think the recipe was probably designed for cooked fresh pumpkin with a much thicker consistency than canned, even though it says you can use canned. I followed the recipe and the “dough” was actually closer to the consistency of a cake batter so I added flour a little at a time trying to get it stiff enough and ended up adding another whole cup and it still wasn’t as stiff as the drop cookie dough I’m used to making.

I was afraid of adding too much flour so I went ahead and made the cookies using the still-not-stiff-enough dough. They didn’t spread out as much as I thought they would. They came out little cookie mounds so maybe they would have been okay without adding any extra flour. Anyway, they’re okay, just not as good as I’m used to making.

Almost anything made with pumpkin can also be made with sweet potatoes so I’m thinking about trying that sometime.

From Russia

Three irresistible posts on English Russia:

Matte Paintings – Fantastic! These are movie backgrounds. Some of them look like fantasy paintings.

Windows – Beautiful! Thanks to English Russia and I am starting to really love old Russian architecture. The details! I wish I could buy one of these houses and have it moved to my place and renovated. Here are more windows. And I love some of these buildings.

Tile murals – I want a ceramic tile mural in my bathroom. No, not the bathroom I have now, the huge bathroom in my dream house. I don’t want one like any of these. I don’t know what I want but I like the idea of a tile mural. Maybe I would be kitschy and have flamingos on my mural.

Doing What You Love

Brian gives career advice:

If you want to make money as a novel-writer, then here is my career advice: get a job, and write in your spare time, following the above plan (i.e. buying the above quite cheap literary lottery ticket). That way, you will make money as a novelist, although I agree not in the way you may have meant. Make that: make money and be a novelist. (When I career counsel, I often suggest that. It makes a change from “find a job doing what you love”, which is often disastrous, not least because there is no rule that says you will be any good or any use to anyone else doing what you love. Worse, you may just end up hating what you used to love. Often “keep your work and what you love separate” proves to be the catalytic suggestion which sorts everything out a treat.)

I think that’s what most people do anyway. “Making money doing what you love” is a dream everyone has but I think most people would be satisfied just to have more time to do what they love. Usually to do that you have to settle for making less money which can be a problem because what you love often requires money and that leads back to the dream of “making money doing what you love”.

A Glimpse of 1908

There’s something about this photo. The two girls look so old. I know that back then it was not customary to smile for photos as it is today but there’s more to it than that. They look old. What must it have been like? Being that young and having to work all day and knowing that was going to be your life?

Literature Map

I was going to mention this Literature Map (found here) but I forgot all about it until just a couple of minutes ago.

You type in the name of an author you like and it shows you other authors you might like. The closer the names the more similar the authors’ styles. It’s no surprise to me that there is quite a bit of space around China Mieville, compared with, for example, Samuel R. Delany who’s in a tight cluster of names.

It’s a fun thing to play with as well as being helpful. You can click on any name on the “map” and it goes to the center and the names change and rearrange themselves.

Quotes From Here and There

It’s good to be careful, but there’s a point at which you have to say, Stop, we cannot bubble-wrap the entire world.here

What fools these language moralists be!there

It’s a pity that “epicure” and “epicurean” have become more or less synonyms for gourmet – elite ostentatious foodyism – as this is a disservice to Epicurus (341-270BC). here

I don’t understand people. I like things to be a certain way, you see. I like my meals on time, doors to stay open, and my litter box to be clean. Is that so much to ask?there

Do Not Need!

[Talking to self] You do not need any more clothes right now; just stop looking at fabric; stop, stop, stop… Shut up. I’ve gotta have this fabric. And the other fabric in the picture at the bottom of that post. Thanks a lot, Charles!

UPDATE: Darn. The ruler fabric is out of stock.

Well, That Was Weird

I dreamed about Dark Shadows. Sort of. The dream was about two children, a boy and a girl. They were beautiful, blond children and much nicer and more well-behaved than any real world children. I didn’t know who they were, but after a while I somehow knew that the little girl’s name was Victoria Winters. I never did figure out who the little boy was though I wondered about it a lot. There was nothing at all Dark Shadows-like about the dream except that the girl’s name was Victoria Winters and while I was dreaming it I thought about Dark Shadows. It was actually a light, pleasant dream. So I guess I have a really weird brain.

Facial Recognition

In a study at MIT

Volunteers were asked to identify fifty famous faces, including that of former U.S. president Richard Nixon and actor Winona Ryder. The photos were digitally altered and shown either without eyebrows or without eyes. When celebrities lacked eyes, subjects could recognize them nearly 60 percent of the time. However, when celebrities lacked eyebrows, subjects recognized them only 46 percent of time.

Via Nag on the Lake

In the Woods

Here are three more photos from our Saturday trip on Talimena Scenic Drive. There are many walking trails (and bike trails and equestrian trails) along the drive. We got out and took a walk on one. This was in the Kerr Botanical Area near the eastern end of the drive. This particular trail was a loop, flat terrain, and took us about 45 minutes to walk.

A small creek ran through the area and there were several bridges. The others were all much smaller than this one.

Footbridge
view large

An interesting tree. I wonder what made it grow that way.

Unusual tree
view large

I spotted this very blue fungus beside the trail. I’ve never seen one this color before.

Blue Fungus
view large

Pardon the politics but…

Political partisans can be so amusing! Not to leave anyone out but at the moment the “Conservatives” are the ones who are amusing me the most. I’ve noticed that Conservatives are generally big fans of the Tenth Amendment or at least they always bring that up whenever Liberals or moderates in Congress want to pass new legislation. Now I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong. We have too many laws already. I don’t think we need to legislate everything. (Although, I often dislike state laws even more than I dislike Federal ones.)

So anyway… Conservatives think that states should be allowed to manage their own affairs without unnecessary interference from the Federal Government, right? So they must be happy about this decision.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws.

Regardless of how you feel about marijuana, medical or otherwise, let’s be clear on this point: The Obama Administration has decided not to interfere in internal state affairs in this matter. They have decided not to waste resources that could be directed toward stopping more dangerous criminals. This is not only a good decision, it is a conservative decision. Will Conservatives agree? I’m not going to browse all the Conservative sites to see what the general consensus is but I happened to come across this post on American Digest and experience leads me to believe that this will be the typical “Conservative” reaction. Come on, prove me wrong.

UPDATE: Yahoo link expired. Replaced with link to same story at Google/AP