Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jen's Awesome Adventure

So I moseyed up the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to turn my iPod in for battery replacement. (If you've never been to that location, click the link and see how pretty the store is.) My iPod is 5 or 6 years old now and the battery only lasts about 2 hours before it conks out. So after hemming and hawing and comparing prices and weights, I decided to keep my iPod, but get the battery fixed. (The new ones are way thinner, but not much lighter and I'm not going to spend $200 to make my purse 2 ounces lighter.) But with the Apple replacement program that means they'll give me a refurbished model and whisk my beloved iPod away for refurbishing for someone else (or to use for donor organs). I've been feeling sentimental, since my iPod has been with me for so long, but I need the damn thing to carry me through a work day and a trip to the gym without my having to take a plug with me to the office.

It turns out that I had to make an appointment for the Genius Bar, so I'll be going back tomorrow. But today, as I was leaving the subway, ascending to 5th avenue and Central Park South, I had a celebrity sighting. Project Runway's Laura Bennett and her husband were also coming out of the subway. I'm glad I didn't forget myself and start talking to her because I was dressed a little shlumpy and she's all about the glam. Plus, I'm not sure how I feel about her. She dresses super stylishly because as a mom, it's just a few short steps to sweatpants every day. Well, yes, but some of us would rather be comfortable than wear 4 inch high heels while chasing after our 5 kids. Or 1 kid. Or no kids. I may have even yelled at her through the TV a few times because I really felt that she sort of needed to fuck off.

And then Tim visited her at home and we saw that she really does chase after those kids and their pet turtle while in a fancy dress and 4 inch pumps. I guess that may have made me like her a little bit more, even though I firmly believe that any day that might involve turtle wrangling should be faced in sneakers.

But then she designed a version of her little black dress for QVC that flatters many figures, was available in a broad range of sizes and wasn't too expensive. So does that make me like her more?

But then again wearing that dress in an everyday situation seems to require a commitment to dressing up every other day, otherwise people would keep asking you if you were on your way to a party when you were just picking up the kids. You can't throw on the little black dress for Tuesdays and then wear your lululemon track suits every other day of the week. Not unless you want the neighbors to think that you're an "escort", but only on Tuesdays.

But does the fact that she takes the subway make me like her more?

But does the fact that she wears 4 inch heels on the subway make me like her less? Because my feet hurt enough from standing on the train in comfortable flats.

So thoughts? Should we love the fabulous or hate them for their fabulousness and implied sense of superiority? Am I just mad because I can't wear heels over 1" because I had bad ankles and knees, but have trouble finding low heels and flats these days because of all the 4" heels out there? Am I just bitter because I am not fabulous and as a techie, if I walked into work wearing a little black dress, everyone would ask if I was going to a funeral?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gift Stash

I'm on the fence about having a gift stash, even though it strikes me as a really good idea.

Pro: Stash busting without worrying about finding the perfect project or recipient yet.

Con: I'd just be moving the yarn from one box to another, albeit in different form.

Pro: Less rushing at gift time.

Con: Would it be less special to give a gift that wasn't specifically planned and made for the recipient? I have some bulky yarn that would make a great baby blanket. It's gender neutral colors and inexpensive acrylic, so I could give it to anyone. But I feel like I should make it with a specific person in mind.

Pro: I currently have more yarn than I'm comfortable having. (Some stuff I inherited, some was given to me by a nice lady who I freecycled some stuff to.) With no specific plans for that yarn, it's weighing on me (like knitting through it all is just another chore) and I feel like I should just dive into the closet, grab some yarn and make something, anything with it.

Con: What if the perfect project for that yarn comes along later? While the gift is still sitting in my gift stash? Do I frog it to use the yarn for the newly found perfect project? That would feel like a waste of knitting time, but buying new yarn would feel like a waste of money.

Pro: More knitted gifts

Pro: Getting to make projects just because I want to instead of waiting for the right gift giving occasion and then not having enough time to make the project and I really just wanna make an amigurumi cheeseburger. And a baby kimono. (Ravelry links)

What are your thoughts on having a gift stash? Do you have one? Do you think I should?

I think the problem is that I'm having Dulaan withdrawal. A couple of years ago, I knit up a bunch of unfortunate yarn purchases and leftovers into hats to be sent to Mongolia. I didn't know who the recipient would be and so I just made whatever. The Dulaan project is still going on, but Ryan decided to call it quits because her Cuzzin Tom (who spent a lot of time doing relief work in Mongolia) said that his assessment was that the Mongolians' clothing needs were now covered and they needed other kinds of help. The people who actually sent the clothes over and distributed them disagreed and from what little Ryan was willing to report, they were really mean to her about it. So I'm not knitting for them anymore.

Other charity knitting projects I've found have specific guidelines that don't work for me (specific items, or specific fibers). Or they're about making people feel better rather than make them warm. A good cause, but for something like that I'd care more about making a good finished object than just using up some yarn. Though with knitting for a gift stash, I'd also be concerned about the FO more than the stash busting.

Any suggestions on charity knitting projects?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grown Ups

We all have our moments when we stop and say, "hey, I'm a grown up. When the hell did that happen?"

Maybe it's when we get excited about new windows. Maybe it happens when you're fighting with the kids over the car keys.

For me, it happened at jury duty. This had nothing to do with being entrusted with deciding the fate of another human being and everything to do with looking around the table in the jury room and realizing that with the exception of 2 retirees, the entire group was MY AGE. Different people with a variety of jobs and tastes and they were all (by appearances anyway) in their 30s. One guy was even reading Kevin Smith's book. Ten of the 12 people in that room were kids when Star Wars came out, wore oversized shirts in the 80s, did the grunge thing in the 90s and lived through the Y2K nonsense. Just like me.

This wasn't just a jury of the defendant's peers, it was a jury of MY peers. Juries are made up of grown-ups, ergo, I am a grown up.

I don't have to start doing other grown up stuff now, do I? Does this mean I have to buy a house and worry about cleaning out the gutters? Because that kind of thing sounds like it would really cut into my consumption of pop culture time and I don't want to get behind on my Venture Brothers and The Middleman.

Or maybe it's just that this Ozzie and Harriet image we all have of adulthood and all it really takes to be a grown-up is a modicum of maturity and possibly also the financial wherewithal to buy all the action figures and comic books you want.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holy Mole

Burritoville, we hardly knew ye.

I approach Mexican food in NYC the same way I approached Star Trek V. With low expectations. It cuts down on the disappointment. Texas and California transplants will always complain about the poor excuse for tex mex in this city, but for what it is, it's fine. I suspect there are many places in the US where it's even less authentic. And really, if you want the authentic stuff, don't eat the pale imitations in other cities. As a New Yorker, you won't see me eating bagels or pizza in other parts of the country.

S'anyway, I liked Burritoville. I enjoyed their Holy Mole burrito (chicken in mole sauce), but went a very long time without eating there because of my diet. The tortilla! The smattering of cheese! The dribbles of sour cream! How many WW points is mole sauce anyway? Oh, the horror.

But compared to a lot of other fast food, it was pretty healthy and low in calories. We all know the fast food chains are crazy, but take a look at the pre-made sandwiches in an sandwich shop sometime. You'll see the words "97% fat free" on a sign describing a sandwich and think it's a low-cal choice. But then you read more closely and realize that the chicken on the sandwich is 97% fat free and they're not saying anything about the fat content of the bread, the cheese or the mayo-based sauce involved with the sandwich.

But who even cares about that? I've sworn off dieting and depriving myself and making myself miserable. I've been wanting a Holy Mole burrito for a while now, but they're not that conveniently located, so it didn't happen. Two days ago, I tried to go there on my way to my writing group and it was closed. I thought it was just that location. And now there will never be another Holy Mole burrito again and I will always regret that I didn't have them more while I had the chance.

What's your favorite local food? Or non-local food that'll just have to do because you're not in the right area for that sort of food?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Guilty

Tonight while I made dinner, I thought about a young man and his mom and his brother and sister and his 5 year old daughter. Did Mom make his favorite meal to celebrate? Did they eat out? Have they stopped crying tears of relief yet?

As the trial began on Monday, hell, from the first few sentences of the Prosecution's opening statement, I wondered, "are they kidding me?"

I don't know what evidence they may have had that they weren't allowed to show us, but from what we saw, there was never really enough evidence to prosecute. There was a ridiculous amount of reasonable doubt for the first charge, and as for the second charge, well, someone threw that gun into the backyard in an attempt to hide it, but there's absolutely nothing to suggest that the defendant did it and not one of the other people who may have.

During the testimony, I was glad that someone as reasonable as I am was sitting on that jury. I went into deliberations prepared to have someone disagree with me about the tremendous not guiltiness of this guy, but no one did. We discussed it a bit and asked to look at some of the evidence again and finally someone asked for a show of hands and we filled out the verdict form and let them know we'd reached a verdict. Our hearts were pounding as we entered the courtroom, but nowhere near as hard as the hearts of the clean cut young man, his mom and family. His mom had been there for every minute.

Juror # 1 announced the verdict on each count and the young man's head sagged in relief. His mom wept. His brother smiled like he might burst from joy. The judge had the clerk ask each one of us if we agreed with the verdict and even the most soft-spoken of us said "Yes," confidently and loudly.

I wish I could say that at that moment, I was proud to be an American, but it was our federal government that had overstepped their bounds, threatening a man's freedom, spending my tax dollars and forcing this man's family to pay thousands of dollars to a defense attorney. All based on the testimony of one cop who was either very confused or lying his ass off. (If a black cop lies about a black defendant, does that mean we've moved past race in America?)

They thought that they could convince a jury that grabbing a gun away from your opponent in a fight so that they don't shoot you is "gun possession". According to the law as the judge explained it to us, it is because he had control of the gun. Except that the defense claimed justification because of that whole keeping the other guy from shooting him thing. It was obvious to the 12 of us that this was the case. But the federal government went ahead with the case anyway.

While waiting for the judge to call us in to read the verdict, we discussed recent examples of how overzealous the federal government has been lately. Listen to the March 28, 2008 podcast of This American Life to hear examples of the sort of things we were discussing.

So as the defendant's mom thanked us as we left the courthouse, I did feel proud. Proud that I could save someone from my own government.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me

I'm a big fan of Cass at Shut Up, I'm Counting. Hers is one of the blogs where I read the post right away when it shows up on my Bloglines because it's always so enjoyable. In her latest post, she says that The Knitting Curmudgeon has accused her of stealing the name of her blog from the tagline of the Curmudgeon's blog.

Get that? The Curmudgeon says that Cass took the name of her blog from the words under the name of Curmedgeon's blog. She seems to think that she has the right to copyright the phrase "Shut up, I'm counting". According to one of the comments on KC's blog, you can't do that. She was very nasty about the whole thing and it's ludicrous to think that you could stop someone else from using a phrase that's commonly used. I have to wonder if she's going to send me a case and desist order for saying that sentence to my husband on a regular basis.


So I'd like to encourage you to go visit Cass's blog, Shut Up, I'm Counting because it is always funny and a good read. If you agree that the Knitting Curmudgeon needs to grow up and back off, please feel free to visit her and tell her so. Cass's post says that she plans on changing the name of her blog, but all the comments discourage her from doing so because the KC has no right. I've visited the KC once or twice in the past when someone linked to a tutorial of hers, but didn't subscribe, I assume because her reading didn't speak to me. I found her nastiness in her post about Cass's blog so outrageously, unnecessarily unpleasant that I'm surprised she has any readers at all. We're here to read about knitting, not petty vitriol.

Does anyone else think we should all change the tagline to our blogs to "shut up, I'm counting" until KC backs off?

Updated to Add: KC has no deleted comments from people pointing out that she has no right to go after Cass, threatened to ban the person who was posting such things, posted herself claiming that she wasn't bullying Cass (read KC's post yourself and decide for ourself on that one) and put comments on moderation.

What. A. Jerk.

Updated Again to Add: Sorry for the repeated updates, but KC (aka Marilyn Roberts) has taken back her claim and apologized to Cass. She commented on Cass's blog that it was all because of her bipolar disorder acting up and she deleted the comments on her own blog because they were so nasty. As yet, she has not taken down the nasty comments about Cass in her own post. But since she's backed down, there's no longer any need to send her comments telling her to back off.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jury Duty

I'm scheduled for jury duty and since it was relatively good timing, I didn't attempt to get out of it. They'd already moved me from the federal court way the hell out on Long Island to the one in Brooklyn that I can get to much more easily, so I've felt it would be ungracious to ask for a postponement. Even though I fell 2 weeks ago and smashed up my knee and really should be going to a doctor this week now that the cuts have healed because it feels like there's something wrong in there and I'm still having trouble with stairs.

But I had deadlines last week, so I wasn't going to be able to get to the doctor anyway.

Up until a few days ago, I've been wondering why people are so reluctant to do jury duty. But now that I'm going tomorrow, I'm worried about getting there on time (8 freaking thirty in the morning) and will they be mean to be if I'm late and what if I want to get some coffee or a snack and I really hate not knowing what my schedule is going to be like for the rest of the week. I know I'm not allowed to bring in my cell phone, which means I'll be leaving it with security because I'll want it to check my email at lunch time and as soon as I leave. (leave your cell phone at home indeed!) I have no idea if they'd hassle me for trying to bring in knitting or a laptop, so I won't be bringing either. Armed with 2 books and 2 magazines, I hope to escape with my sanity and sense of civic duty intact.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Disorganized? Moi?

I'm cleaning my home office because I'd decided to buckle down and work on all the paperwork involved in changing to my married name. Y'know, because 10 months after the wedding, I've been used to the idea of having a new last name enough to be annoyed that I haven't made it official everywhere I'm supposed to. Like at work. (In my defense when I started in January, it was supposed to be a 3 month contract and I wasn't even sure I'd have the marriage certificate by the time the gig ended. (Maybe it's an NYC thing, but it took months and even then, HA had to go down there and get it himself so I could get on his health insurance.))

S'anyway, so I started on that (using the forms provided in my handy dandy Official Bride Name Change Kit), but then realized that I was going to have to actually find statements from my different retirement accounts if I was going to send them the forms. (That's been the biggest obstacle--avoiding the hassle of figuring out who I have to send this stuff to.)

Mind you, I have a file cabinet and could've just pulled out some old statements, but no. Some info could've changed. I needed to find the recent statements. Which meant addressing the pile o' papers waiting to be filed. Along with the stuff I needed, I found pay stubs from 2005 and health insurance papers from 2004. I had filed since 2004, but the last time I attacked the pile, I didn't get all the way down. I'm now looking at floor, but I wouldn't swear that there wasn't a basket of more papers. Bt let's not think about that right now.

Now that I'm on a roll, I'm tackling the rest of the clutter (mainly books and craft supplies). I opened the closet for some reason and saw the keyboard from my old Mac. I've probably looked at it every single time I've opened that closet since getting my new Mac.

About a year ago, we came home from work to discover a layer of construction dust over a large swath of our apartment. You know, the reason why everything gets covered in plastic tarps when work is bring done. It turns out that our building did some work on the roof and didn't bother telling anyone on the top floor that maybe they should close their windows. When we complained to the super, his response was along the lines of, "yeah, that happened to a bunch of people". My home office window was closed, but HA's was open. The dust was all over his computer, the guest bed and had somehow boomeranged around a corner to get into my home office and into my keyboard. After a good cleaning, everything was back to normal. Except my keyboard. I've spent the past year planning to buy a new one--I need to hit certain keys multiple times, etc. but I kept wondering if a little annoyance was enough to justify the expense.

Then today, when I opened the closet and saw my old keyboard for probably the 50th time since my current keyboard got ruined, my brain finally put 2 and 2 together. I'm typing happily away on my old keyboard now. Apparently, the left arrow key was and is busted, so I'm going to have to wait and see how much of a hassle that's going to be.

I'm so excited to be typing away on springy keys again that I'm too busy to feel stupid that it's taken me so long to remember that I already had another keyboard in the house.