Thanks for all the help...

January 26, 2007

... both in the comments, in person, and by email. You're all an amazing resource.

As an addendum to the last post, I'm sorry for the slow responses to your comments. I managed to randomly sprain my right wrist last weekend, and since then everything (brushing my teeth, lifting glasses of water or tea, driving, writing, reading, and predictably, typing) has been a challenge. Some coworkers scared me into thinking that I had RSI (repetitive stress injury -- common forms of this are carpal tunnel, "tennis elbow" and assorted versions of tendinitis). I went to the doctor, who confirmed it was a sprain. I've never been so excited to have a one-to-four week injury. RSI would be plausible, giving my 7-11 hours a day on the computer and that knitting habit. It would also be wildly career- and life-limiting. About a third of the people I work with have permanent nervous injuries that prevent them from typing, gardening, using knives for dinner prep or forks for eating, driving, etc. I'm always pretty neurotic about ergonomics and taking frequent breaks, but this has been a good reminder to be vigilant.

That said, in the interest of healing, I've been typing and writing as little as possible. A friend lent me the Hawaii guidebook that she used for her honeymoon. I've been soaking it up, but it's hard not to make lists of cool things as I read. Instead, I bought some of those little tabs (I love office supplies) and have been merrily sticking them.

Yellow is "things to do", red is "things to avoid" (samples are rain, cold, and shark-infested waters), blue is maps, and green is interesting information (did you know that Mauna Loa, the biggest mountain on the Big Island, is 100 times the volume of Mount Rainier? Crazy!). I'll summarize them in written form once I have my writing hand back. It's a pity that I'm so right handed -- my coordination on my left side is embarrassingly limited.

It's seeming like we're narrowing things down to Maui and the Big Island. A volcano is too cool not to visit, and the Maui snorkeling seems exciting. This site was a find. Oahu sounds so nice, but I suspect that we'd be frustrated by the crowds, traffic, and homogenization. Kauai looks beautiful, but very remote and not quite touristy enough, if that makes sense. I have a fear of showing up somewhere where they expect you to prepare food and entertain yourself -- while that's ideal at home, it's not quite what I'm going for on this trip. Any disagreements?



January 22, 2007

So, the wedding planning is continuing apace, and with it the honeymoon planning.

If you were going to spend a week in, say, Hawaii, where would you go? What would you do? On which islands?

We're excited about snorkeling, volcanoes, hiking (in the Larry-described "baby hike" genre -- a few hours, a few miles, prettiness), happy hour, beds and breakfasts, and beaches. Any recommendations?


January 19, 2007

I wrote all of these posts last night, catching up for the week, but the dumb new blogger photo software didn't work and all of the links didn't come through. I can't fix it until I get home tonight, so in the meantime, here's a funny, quasi work-relevant video from youtube to cheer your friday. (Definitely use sound.)

Update: Finally fixed with an annoying work-around. The new blogger is definitely buggy for IE7.

Haven't I touched this already?

January 18, 2007

Woot! I'm done with the first sock, and all cast on for the second! Casting on took fortitude -- the picot-like double-long-tail cast on was very, very tricky for me. The first sock took many do-overs and lots of concentration. The second only took two starts, but I'm still not sold on the edging for the amount of work, even if it is fussy and pretty. Now that I'm done the first sock and able to try it on for real, I'm wishing that I'd gone down a needle to 1s. The sock is very loose. It feels nice, but so delicate. These socks wouldn't have much elasticity, so better too loose than too tight, but I think one needle size smaller would have been ideal. I'll have to remember that if I buy the yard again.

This yarn came with a spool of reinforcing thread. This is only my second pair of socks, and I could see how that might be helpful, but it just seemed like way too big a pain to actually incorporate into my knitting. I'm not a spinner, and I'm not a "holding two threads together" sort. Now that I've started the second sock, though, I'm appreciating my reluctance. The two spools are not only completely different sizes, but totally different colors.

I'm glad I didn't bother.

Now that I have one sock done in about three weeks, even if it has been my only knitting, I'm starting to get all sock-yarn-happy again. My knitting group had an exchange last spring, and I was essentially gifted some awesome Lorna's Laces* (generally way outside my budget). Here it is cuddling with the completed sock.

Since socks actually seem to actually move along for me, I wonder if this is my next project waiting in the wings? :-)

*(Kevin is deeply unimpressed by sock yarn, even Lorna's Laces, and credited with the title quote for this post.)


Some of the dudes

January 17, 2007

It must be the pressure of demonstrating that the clowns are happy and healthy, but I've been completely incapable of taking a good picture of the dudes since the storm. I'm officially throwing in the towel. If you can't see that they're wriggly and charismatic from this, I have nothing helpful to add other than a reminder that my photography *truly* is not representative.

The tank really has bloomed since the storm. Part of my brain wonders if the difference is the tang -- they're known to be time- and resource-intensive fish, and 55 gallons is the bare minimum for keeping one. I wonder if the water quality is so much better without him? It's also possible that we've been more attentive since the averted disaster, and that's made the difference. The tank really is preoccupying.

In that vein, here's a great picture of one of the two turbo snails.

Isn't he neat? I know he's a snail, but really, he's captivating. I ought to try to bend youtube to my advantage, and then maybe some of the tank-doubters out there would understand? You just have to see him in (surprisingly fast) motion, and delight in the suspense of whether he'll eat the nearby annoying algae or take a different route... you'd understand, in person.

In other snail news, we're seeing a lot more "naked" snails, again. When we first saw these guys, we almost wondered if we'd managed to develop a new species of unpreyed-upon shell-less snails. The moniker "naked snails" stuck long after we learned that they already existed, were named, and were commonplace besides. They're exactly like snails, except that they only have a backplate (my term) instead of a shell. But they come in a beautiful, velvety black as well as the less exciting snail-color, and they're interesting. However, I don't think I've ever seen one as big as I did last night.

To the left, you can see a turbo snail on the back wall. And to the right: do you see that naked snail? Enormous! In other interesting news, the blue SPS coral in the mid-foreground has completely recovered from the storm, and can be seen growing like mad between the two. Neat.


More respect is due

January 16, 2007

The weather has impressed me in the last week. Generally I see Seattle as a place with abysmally repetitive weather, dark clouds, and (no offense) sort of weather-hysterical residents. YET, way after rush hour, we had real snow today, and actual snow clouds in the sky. True, work attendance ran at 50%, but people are getting so much more resigned to snow.

My car, decked in snow:

The snow is practically typical at this point! I also took a picture of my view after I turn out of the driveway in the morning. See those snow clouds, all yellow at the horizon? So pretty. It reminds me of driving down Winter Street on the way to swim practice in high school, only with the addition of a lake and major mountains. (Even if I can't see them, I know they're there.) Usually at this time of year, it's just slate gray, with no glitter in the lake, and deep darkness in the sky. I loved the snow clowds, and they lasted for a full day.

The interesting part of the day was actually via email once I got to work. Kevin was all worried whether I'd arrived intact. His mustang (visible beyond the corner of the 4WD Matrix in the top photo) is not ice-worthy given the hills (it's really heavy, really powerful, and doesn't have the tires to be a snow sportscar.) Despite several antilock brake incidents, I really didn't have a problem taking the backroads to work. Snow is snow. But after he sent a video of the situation in Portland (and I heard that he'd seen two accidents while waiting on the corner for the bus to work), I understood the concern. The Portland home video had been taken off someone's apartment balcany, and it looked like some sort of car ballet, as all these vehicles slowly slid down hills, off each other, and accelerated downhill offscreen. It looked so controlled, until you realized that there was someone inside recognizing that they had no control at all and were essentially sledding an SUV. Especially with multitude of hills and the lack of plows and sand, it really is dangerous to drive here in certain conditions. Duly noted.


Win some, lose some

January 15, 2007

The football viewing continues. Going into the weekend, we were both psyched -- three teams in contention: the Eagles, Seahawks and Patriots. Despite our loyal viewing, however, the results weren't stellar -- only the Patriots made it through. :-(

That aside, I had a lot of couch time, and made major progress on the sock. By mid-Saturday, it looked like this:

Can you see what that is? (Aside from the high-def football, now that Kevin has a new power source and his computer and media center are back up!)

It's a heel turn!! A *major* mental victory, if not a real (sports) one.

Labels: ,

Astronomers for a day

January 14, 2007

On Thursday, we had yet another snow day following the evening ice and snow. The upside (aside from the obvious prettiness outside and cozyness in) was that we were home at sunset, and able to climb up the hill to try to get a look at Comet McNaught. There'd been a blurb in the paper calling this the brightest comet since Hale-Bopp, and which instructed you to look more or less "at" the sun right after sunset. For the first twenty minutes or so, we didn't see anything. It was a gorgeous, cold evening though, and Kevin and I spent a good while at the top of the hill admiring the scenery. Kevin got some great Olympic mountain photos - click for a bigger, prettier version where you can see the snow on the peaks.

Just as we were assuming that the comet was hidden by the hills, it got dark enough to see it. It was clearly visible to the naked eye, though if I hadn't known where to look, I probably would have missed it. The photos were a little bit harder to see. Try clicking on this photo to enlarge it, and then look in the center of the photo. (To the left of and above the three slim branches on the horizon)

See it? Here's a zoom-in:

Friday and Saturday were both cloudy, so it was fun to have the chance to see it while it was still around!



January 11, 2007

For those not living in the Seattle area (who would find this a statement of the obvious), it snowed last night! It had flurried a bit all day, and then finally started accumulating just before four. The roads were already clogged with everyone who left work at three to beat the storm, and the weather reports were daunting (and mostly wrong), calling for plenty more snow, a brief warm spell, and then freezing temperatures starting around eight. Everyone who wasn't already sitting in their car decided to beat the ice, and joined the traffic mess. People are so disfunctional about the weather/traffic vortex here.

Kevin was very impressed with the traction control on his mustang, but still couldn't get up the short hill that exits his parking lot, so I went to pick him up a few miles away in Redmond. The drive took an hour and three minutes. There was about two inches of snow on the ground (almost enough to cover the grass), but people were very intimidated by it, and the typical gridlock was complicated by a lot of poor decision-making. I had NPR on, the snow was so pretty on the trees and blackberry brambles, and it was fascinating to watch people, so blood pressure stayed low and I got there to pick him up faster than I expected.

I had my camera with me, so here's the pretty snow on the trees by Marymoor park. That area is extremely well lit, so I didn't use a flash. The pink tinge is from all of the brakelights in front of me.

And then here's the tree outside our front door once we got home:

Today, the snow has been melting, but everyone's working from home to be "on the safe side."

The heel is turned!

January 09, 2007

Wow, now I just have a foot's worth of continuing in pattern, and I'll be done sock #1! This has been going way faster than I remembered. Likely a combination of using magic loop instead of dpns, and knitting for my size seven foot instead of Kevin's men's large...

I can actually see the progress each time I put it down -- how cool!

Volunteer xenias

January 04, 2007

Given how precarious the tank seemed after the storm, leaving it for a week to visit my parents in Florida made me very nervous. It must, however, have been in better shape than it seemed, because we came back to find the fish happy and hungry, the corals growing, and several new surprises in the sand.

Kevin took this picture of the Pom Pom Xenia a few days before its demise.

It was about four inches wide, pulsing constantly, and had recently started climbing. We were both so sad when it didn't make it through the storm, and tried to save it by removing the parts of it that were clearly dead. After two days, it became clear that none of it was going to make it, so we pulled it out.

Apparently though, the xenia had been dropping its hands -- xenias will do this when they're stressed, and the hands will blow away until they find a better place to settle and grow. We've never seen this -- ours have always propagated by growing and dividing. Nonetheless, when we came back we were delighted to find little hands in the sand, pulsing away. They're teeny (a quarter of an inch or less), so we may have missed some, but we counted at least seven. Some of them are in great shape, like this one:

(You can see two of his "fingers" touching together -- he alternates full hand pulses with pulses that only use one or two of the fronds.)
Others are regrowing fingers that were damaged. This guys is pulsing and has a nice strong stem, but only has one full length finger.

(Note the gorgeous orange zoos with their blue and brown centers! Plus you can see one open green mushroom under the rock to the left, and one mostly-closed green mushroom on top. The shiny green globes are bubble algae -- a mild nuisance, but pretty in small amounts.) For a similar shot partially blocked by a curious clownfish, click here. They're definitely feeling better if they're swimming over to see the camera.

And then some of them are barely even recognizable as xenias, but are growing by the day and have little nubs for fingers.

I'm cheering all of them on.

PS. An aside, when I told my mom about these, she wrote, "It makes me think of all of Charlotte's babies hatching to keep Wilbur company at the end of Charlotte's Web." What a great analogy. :-)

Happy Old Year

January 02, 2007

As much as I keep considering all of the things that look to make 2007 great (we're getting married, love our families, great friends, great job, nice place to live, so many things on the list to knit...), I keep coming back to how much I liked 2006.

I finally made decisions about a career path, applied to grad school, got a wonderful job instead, competed in the Olympics, bought kayaks, learned to plumb things, went to Brown dinners, got engaged, was sucked into fantasy football, knit a lot, read a lot, learned a lot, tracked real estate obsessively, and generally had a happy year. Given all of that, my cup is rather full.

So, this year, these are my hopes:
  • See the world, especially the world nearby. More weekend trips to interesting places!
  • Become a habitual gym-goer.
  • Subject of course to the winds of fate: buy a house that we can paint, tile, and plant things around.
  • And, since the shoe thing worked out so nicely, learn to buy stylish pants, to match my shoes.

:-) Happy new year!

Home Again

January 01, 2007

The major downfall of living on the West Coast is that we end up flying back to the East Coast about four times a year for assorted vacations and holidays. Neither of us is exactly an enthusiastic traveler, especially given the exertions of the TSA. It's such a pity that the red eye flight is the short one (when you actually wouldn't mind having longer to sleep), and that the way back home is the long one. So, here's a "we love planes" smile, as we boarded flight #2, and clocked hour 8 of ultimately 16.

The only consolation in spending a full day traveling is that it was completely devoted knitting time. Taking off, I only had about an inch and a half of progress on the sock, despite having put in a good seven days of what felt like consistent work. (I had a much better picture than this, but you could read the chart perfectly. It seemed like sort of a copyright violation, so I nixed it in favour of the overexposed version.) As an aside, look how much leg room there was! A new, four-seats-per-row plane, and we were in the exit row. Thanks, Jet Blue!! Excellent for early-trip morale.

Six hours later, we boarded flight #2, and I had this much to show:

And by the time we landed, I had made it 8 rows past four inches, and now the pattern is only on the front half of the sock, and the back is all stockinette -- so speedy and nice!

At this rate, I may actually finish this pair in January -- a stunning accomplishment.