Saturday, April 29, 2006

retail therapy

Okay, fiber people! Everybody read this!

It's a busy week, and the real post is coming soon. But before anything else, you should know:

Loopy Yarns is having a sale today and tomorrow. 75% off selected yarns.

There is good stuff in there, and also some pretty shocking fuzzy stuff that my cats would rather eat than sleep on as a cat bed. Shiny yarn, ribbon tape for tank tops, some tweedy wool for next winter, railroad yarns for those fancy scarves everyone wants to make one of. Go see! Open Sunday from 1 to 5, at 719 S. State.

Now I gotta go out and socialize some more. On Monday I'll take this post down and tell you what I scored... (evil laugh)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

do you know me?

Kind of an interesting variation, I guess, on the "howareyou?" phenomenon.

I was coming into work yesterday from a site visit at about 2 pm. My office is in a mixed-use building, retail and residential, so when I come in the back door there's no good way to know whether I'm going to work or home. There were three people loitering outside the door by the dumpster, which isn't unusual. Sometimes they're sitting on the step and drinking their breakfast, and when it's cold they might tuck between the door and the dumpster to cut the wind. They're generally pleasant to the people coming in and out of the building, and I've never been asked for money there.

As I approached, carrying my bags and brochures and jacket and stuff, one of the women asked me, "Are you tired?" I looked puzzled and mumbled something about being fine. She said, "Oh, you're so tired, baby, you just got offa work and now you're all tired out. You gotta go upstairs and fix yourself a Lean Cuisine, now, don'tya?" She was neither sympathetic or mocking, just rolled all that out with an entirely flat affect. I had no idea what to say. I just went inside.

How much do we assume about people based on how they look or where they are? I assumed that she was probably drunk, and homeless or marginally housed, based on where she was and how she was dressed. Because of that I didn't feel like I had to pay her too much mind. But she was wrong about me on all counts; how wrong might I be about her? And why do we try to assume things about people in the first place? It was odd.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hi, howareyou? Good.

I'm becoming ever more distressed with the use of "howareyou?" as a greeting. I feel the same way about "how's-it-goin'?" when approaching someone. When I pass a stranger on the street, it's no longer appropriate to say, "hello," or "good afternoon," but "how you doin'?" is getting ever more popular. For months after moving here (and is it a city thing?" I tried to spit out some kind of, "Fine, thanks, how are you?" without entirely derailing whatever business transaction or trajectory I was working on. I've managed to get the response down to, "Good. You?" which lets me respond politely without breaking stride, or "Fine, thanks," which actually means, "I have no interest in talking to you or having you try to sell me anything." It's amusing to me that the more polite one makes far less grammatical sense.

I actually had a colleague use this in a phone message yesterday. He was talking to my machine and said, "Hi, this is Principal XXX. How are you?" And then he paused for a minute, perhaps expecting me to speak back to the voicemail. He then explained that he was tossing my carefully calculated schedule to bits and replacing it with something else. Argh. I am perplexed by the schedule thing, but the Laws of Propriety would still have me declare that I am "fine, thanks".

We need a better greeting than this. Who's with me?

Easter and gratuitous WIP photos
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Mr. Grobnik and I are quite fond of the Easter eggs.

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The rhubarb is 400% taller, and no less miraculous. I bought pie crusts today--just in case the mood strikes me.

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Here's the Garden Path shawl in progress; depressingly, I believe I am less than 1/3 done nowhere close to even thinking about finishing, though I am whaling on the chart pattern. The color here is fairly accurate; who'd of thought I'd be knitting in pink?

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In real life, the eyelet detail is not nearly this clear without blocking. Then when I look through my camera viewfinder, poof! All is made clear. Ain't technology grand?

Monday, April 24, 2006

For this, I will sound the alarm

Adam Felber also knows the pain of American emergency rooms. Just a few days previously, he outlined US-Iranian relations for us. Forget the Daily Show; I'm getting my news from this guy from now on.

If you don't like it, leave.

(cross-posted from the Tally Ho.)
As someone who moved a lot as a kid, I was generally in favor of letting states decide their own policies. It's a big, wide country, and every town we lived in had its own quirks and its own way of doing things. It just made sense to let the people who lived in each state decide what they needed, and those who didn't like the policy could move. Now, as an adult with a lot more stuff and a city that I love so much I refuse to leave, I am about to officially switch sides.

As you probably heard, earlier this month Massachusetts passed a bill requiring its citizens to obtain health care--a "universal health care" plan that was hailed as an ambitious and inventive landmark. It states that every MA resident will have health insurance; extremely low-income residents will receive health care from the state, those below 300% of the poverty level will recieve a subsidy to help pay for health care, and those above 300% of the poverty level are expected to be able to pay out of pocket for individual health insurance if they don't get it through work or family. Companies with more than ten employees will be required to offer health insurance or pay a fine of $295 per employee per year. The $295 fine was negotiated carefully with the business community, down from about $800 per year; Gov. Romney used his line item veto to negate it, but his vetoes are expected to be overridden by the state congress. Everyone seems to like this plan, from health care advocates to employers. I find it alarming, and other states are pretty alarmed at the idea as well. Romney says, "We insist that everybody who drives a car has insurance. And cars are a lot less expensive than people." This plan seems like it might be reasonable for someone who lives in suburban or rural MA. However, my friends in Boston pour most of their income to rent. As for Mr. Romney's comparison with car insurance, it's a bad analogy. People who don't feel like they can afford car insurance (especially those who live in an urban area) aren't required to own a car. No one who lives in MA seems to be exempt from this health insurance plan. And although the folks who crafted this legislation predict that insurers will lower their rates when more healthy people sign up, there's no evidence that anything of the sort will happen. In fact, if insurers know they have a captive audience in MA, why won't they raise their rates? I'm extremely concerned that this "universal health care" plan will give rise to more stripped down health insurance plans that fail to cover basic preventive care, particularly reproductive care for women. The bottom line: if you are a taxpayer in MA, you are now required to find health insurance.

More frightening (and far less likely to happen) is the recent drafting of legislation that would prohibit abortions in Ohio, and prohibit any Ohio woman from getting an abortion. The proposed abortion ban isn't really news, as 11 other states besides Ohio--Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia--are jumping on the bandwagon behind South Dakota. The unusual bit is that it would be a felony for a woman to seek to terminate a pregnancy, even if she didn't follow through, and she's just as liable if she obtains an abortion outside state lines. Anyone assisting her could also be charged with a felony. (The article doesn't go into specifics of the law, such as whether there's an exception for the woman's life or whether we would be like El Salvador and have to wait for fetal death or tubal rupture to fix an ectopic pregnancy.) Again, this is not legislation that describes a state's own action or prohibition, but directs the actions of residents. How do we determine residency in this situation? Would one of my college friends, paying taxes in Michigan, be bound by this law if she chose to get an abortion outside Ohio but lived there for much of the year? What about my mother, who retained her Ohio residency while the military was shipping our family to six different states? (And since my parents were Ohio residents, would I have been prohibited from obtaining an abortion even though I didn't physically live in Ohio until I was mostly grown?) Ohio seems to want to get one better on all the other states preparing abortion restrictions. Fortunately, this law is restrictive enough to jeapordize the rich folks who would otherwise be able to travel to IL or NY, so I'm hopeful that it has little chance of ever seeing daylight.

Aside from your views on abortion law or health insurance costs, these are shocking attempts by a state to mandate certain behavior from its citizens, both inside and outside state lines. Suddenly, my state residence seems much more important, and the phrase "if you don't like it, you can move" seems both more ominous and more probable from many of the states I've lived in and loved.

Why yes, I do live for this.

How much do I love my Cubbies? I love my Cubbies SO MUCH.

Not only did they play an incredibly slow four innings while we were detained in class, not only did Pat and Ron talk us through a lovely night at Wrigley, not only are they rallying from the loss of Derek Lee.

Not only did they make six runs in one inning. To take the lead and win the game.

But they avenged our 2003 team against the Marlins. It was spectacular. I sat there with my beer and my garden path shawl and counted down the outs.

Also making me happy this week: Kris Delmhorst. I went to see her last night when I was bleak and strange, and she helped rescue my soul.

Links roundup:
Ema (bless her) puts the mifiprex debate into a little perspective.
One of my mainstream feminist organizations sent me an email today telling me to "sound the alarm" and blog about the fake abortion clinics that are wrecking women's physical and emotional health. Little do they know that the real bloggers hit that topic on Saturday. However, Twisty's characterization of PP was less than generous.
And this little site is starting to become viable. Little by little, I'm moving. Hooray!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

No sympathy

This is the best news on the Dan Ryan reconstruction project that I've read... well, ever. Non-Chicagoans may be living in blissful ignorance; the Dan Ryan project is knocking the southern half of Chicago's 90/94 highway out of commission for the next three years or so, removing four express lanes and leaving only two lanes of highway during construction. The ad slogan proclaims: "There is a way out! Re-route!" Re-routing has indeed kept the construction from becoming a major crisis, as travel times are still within somewhat reasonable limits for most of the alternate routes. The transportation department has spent so much time scaring us about the inconvenience of this construction project that the reality is not so bad.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that some commuters are pretty miserable using public transportation, however. The lede states, I kid you not, "Commuters Bemoan the Loss Of Quality Time in Cars." When taking public transit, the miserable commuters say, they have to deal with crowds! And weather! And (gasp) walking to and from train stops! They can't lug around 45 pounds of stuff! Occasionally people walk up and try to sell them things! Oh, the humanity!

Ann Schue chokes up when saying that she misses her car. She has been driving to a faraway mall on the weekends, instead of the mall close to her suburban house, because she misses driving so much.
Frank Pierson lives five blocks from an el stop. However, he used to drive to work and pay $18 every day to park in the city. He's unhappy about the peddlers on the train.
Jack Sloan is a regular on the train and hates that there are so many new riders using cell phones. (Okay, I can feel a little sympathy for his plight.)

Suddenly I'm starting to see this project as shock therapy for some of our suburban neighbors: we live in a city, we have to accomodate each other, and it's incredibly wasteful and selfish to drive in a town where public transit is a viable option. The travel times have gotten much worse, yes. But if you really hate to lose another fifteen minutes of your commute, you could move into the city. There are still some big houses left on the Green Line going for pretty darn cheap.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Those dark fiber arts

PZ Meyers links to the blog of a child molester/murderer/cannibal. I don't love these stories, and I shouldn't have clicked because these are the stories that keep me awake for days on end. However, I figured there wasn't any harm in checking out the main page (stunningly normal) and the links (mostly odd science stories and wacky news) and then I had to jump into the comments. There are folks who sort of knew him, strangers condemning him, stupid relativists coming to his defense (!!!), and strident responses to the stupid relativists, many with less-than-intellectual religious overtones. My favorite comment:


Yes, satin will be the death of us all. We should stick with safe fabrics, like cotton and wool. (snerk)

I'm glad I got off that blog before I harmed my brain. Don't go look, just trust me. (And check out the rest of Pharyngula; he's got some smart stuff up there.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lovely and less-than-lovely quotes.

"Tax law should stop perpetuating the fairy tale that husbands and wives are equal partners." --The IRS's shotgun marriage, by Shari Motro, ass't professor at University of Richmond School of Law.

"I have no problem with the demonstration, but this is a business. Couldn't they have protested in the morning before work? Couldn't they have protested in their hearts?" --fishmarket owner in Florida, commenting on immigrant rallies.

And now to cheer you up:
"Scientists who undertake the work of theologians are as reckless as theologians who pretend to be scientists." --Raymond J Lawrence, Episcopal priest who is not surprised or alarmed by research indicating prayer does not improve medical outcomes.

Friday, April 14, 2006

No details, just pictures.

Thank you all so much for your support and your kind comments; they are much appreciated. I see that even my knitting friends are still lurking! Hi, knitting friends! Want some pictures?* I got a little detached during all the hospital stuff and didn't have very much to say, for those who are wondering why I didn't call. C is on an amazingly steep recovery curve, and even felt well enough to blog. Meanwhile, I'm feeling a little knocked out by all the excitement, and I'm having trouble putting together complete sentences. So in lieu of actual stories, I'll show you what I worked on while I was hanging around in waiting rooms.

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These are Knitty's Broadripple socks, in Fixation. This yarn was bought for the abandoned Sox Socks project, but I like them better in this pattern than the first one I tried. Knit while watching baseball, comforting myself while teaching at a very bad middle school, traveling to Madison, seeing my college friends, sitting in the hospital, and watching more baseball. I made them about an inch longer in the cuff than the pattern called for, and ended up using all but the last bitty bits of yarn. It's a little frustrating to work with the cotton elastic, but I just love the stretch in the socks. And yes, this is the project in my icon.

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Good night, all.
*I understand that some of you think I'm crazy and alone out here, but this is a cross-post. If you're early to the party, sit tight; I'll invite everyone else once the blogroll is halfway decent.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

radio silence

This is just to let everyone know where I went! My darling spouse had a bad appendix, and we spent all day at the hospital downtown, kicking it to the curb. El is out of surgery and recovering nicely; I am going to go hang out with him some more, because hey! I can. I am feeling some twinges of guilt about dropping my job and my life for a couple days, but one of the wonderful things about my job is that I can take a sick day and nobody dies. As for the internet, y'all will probably struggle along without me. Expect some delays while I put it all back together.

Monday, April 10, 2006

a photo entry

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Attack of the wombs! These are five of the seven wombs I've knit for people I know. Coworkers, relatives, everybody wants one. Since it's not my pattern, I can't even sell the durn things.

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Everyone says my hair looks lovely. Again, there seems to be consensus at work (both sites), at church, and at the knitting groups. It gets in my eyes, as you can tell.

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This is truly a miracle. This is rhubarb. It's coming back up from the cold ground. (This was more impressive on the day it was taken, which was at about 40F. Now that it's 70F, everyone will assume that this is a normal spring occurrence. But in the bitter cold? Miraculous.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

links roundup

Mostly so I can close my browser for the weekend.

Questions about Plan B, or that mysterious menstrual cycle in general? PZ Meyers explains it all for you.

Somebody better explain it to the North Mariana Islands, where they're not finding many choices about their reproductive health. Yes, women in SD are being forced to bear children, but women in the NMI are being forced to terminate. (I don't remember where I found this. If someone else finds this link, tell me where and I'll hat-tip them.)

Angry Black Bitch, generally fabulous anyway, attacks that hideous Duke rape/murder email and how the media response fits the pattern of just failing to care that much. (Can I mention how hideous it is that this story intrudes on my baseball-watching time, which--as a Cubs fan--is generally a land of happy fantasy?) The full email text is available over at Pandagon, though I'd recommend you not go read. I can't even look up the link, I am too horrified to read it a second time.


April fools! A bunch of girls in Ravenna, Ohio decorated the town a la Super Mario Brothers, with shiny question-mark cubes in the trees. And then some scared townspeople called the cops, alleging terrorism. Their letter-to-editor, complete with spelling mishaps, is priceless. And let's look at this from the bright side: if kids these days are supposedly more conservative and less liberal than the previous generation, at least they've still got a sense of humor. And the reaction of the freaky adults in their lives will hopefully teach them some common sense. (found via

Knitted nautiloid! and the rest of this season's Knitty is up.

Oh heavens, how much do I want to make this shawl? SOOOO gorgeous. I think I even have the yarn.

Cubs win! Grand slam! Cubs win! 8-4! CUBS WIN!

Thank you, and good night.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Debbie Stoller on WUNC

Great interview, particularly for NPR geeks.

Looking for grief

Gather 'round, kids, it's a sex story!

Sometime in the past week, I came across another article about the battle to ban birth control, which points out for the zillionth time that some folks (anti-contraceptionists?) preach that hormonal birth control could cause a very early abortion. The argument is that your pill could in theory not prevent ovulation but prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, causing the spontaneous abortion of a blastocyst. (This group rarely refers to the event as an early miscarriage; I suppose they believe that abortion is a scarier term.) The article refers to the ovulation/implantation debate as "scientifically unknowable", which is not actually true; we can study the effects of these hormones in mice and other mammals, and extrapolate the evidence we find onto human females. It's not perfect, but latest research suggests that Plan B does not affect embryo implantation in mice. That's neither here nor there today.

The first time I heard the theory that hormonal bc might allow ovulation, I was twenty years old and was just beginning to feel the slow descent into panic and anxiety (which I would later realize was the result of my birth control method). I was hiding in the women's restroom on the third floor of my college's student union, wondering whether I needed to take a pregnancy test because after several months on Depo, I didn't have anything that resembled a menstrual cycle. I can't remember where I heard the information about the Pill, but I spent several minutes wondering whether my shot (which I knew very little about) might act in similar ways and whether I might have been inadvertently flushing fertilized eggs out of my system every month for some time. I thought about those new combinations of DNA that might have been created and then never seen again, and I worried and wondered what they would look like. Then I asked myself if I would be willing to raise and feed any of those new DNA patterns, and I knew quite surely that I could not do that. I thought about my partner and whether I would volunteer to have any kids with him, and I knew immediately that he wasn't up to the task. I went over the barrier methods that I knew--condoms? diaphragms?--and realize that those options were unworkable. (Shockingly, I never asked myself at the time why I was sleeping with this lug that couldn't be trusted to use a condom and had some wacky ideas about consent. I'd love to reach back in time and dope-slap this young woman, but alas! alack! she was a slow learner.) Then I debated the differences between blockading a bunch of sperm vs. my body declining to welcome a couple of sex cells that had managed to entangle. I decided that in terms of intention, there wasn't much difference. In theory, I could mourn those clumps of tissue, but I was doing everything possible to prevent them in the first place and certainly didn't want them to stick around. I never (silly girl!) considered becoming abstinent, since I didn't think that was possible at the time. And that was that; hormonal birth control was back on my safe list. This moral debate took about twenty minutes. Then I took my pregnancy test, thanked God that it was negative, and went back to my dorm room.

I'm told that some women deeply grieve the idea that they may have been creating embryos and miscarrying them immediately. Because of my own circumstances when I considered this question and laid it to rest, I have to wonder: is it possible that these women are just looking for something to mourn? That some part of their life or their sexual relationship is so badly damaged that they need to imagine its disaster somewhere else? Or do their philosophical and religious views, their concept of fate, simply take them in a different direction than me? I'd like to put the abortion rhetoric to one side and ask them.