Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Buffy Quiz



Once again, poached from martinimade because I'm not so much with the thinking and the posting right now, but I do love me some Buffy.

Be warned, this quiz includes pictures of The Gentlemen who not only freak me the fuck out, but look like my friend Harold, so is not scary, but is dapper as all get out.

If you take the quiz, tell me which character you are in the comments. It'll be fun!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Overwhelmed

I'm taking a class that started last week and I've been preoccupied with the homework. Essentially, I had to write an essay that fit certain parameters. I spent 24 hours carrying on like this guy:



His Awesomeness and I had repeated conversations that went like this:
Me: I suck!
HA: No, you don't
repeat 15 times

I truly do not know how the man puts up with me.

I had trouble sleeping that night because my mind kept racing, trying to come up with a good idea.

24 hours later, I landed on an idea and had trouble sleeping because I was just so pleased with myself.

24 hours after that, I sat down to write the thing and came back to earth. Parts of it were good, but it needed work. With HA's advice, I've got it hammered out and hopefully, I'll get some good feedback on it in class tomorrow.

Hopefully, I won't freak out as much over the next assignment.

Anyway, between that and the 15 minutes of novel writing a day, I've been neglecting the blog and will not bore you with excuses and apologies.

I've heard from Miranda, and she's chosen these notecards. Congratulations to Miranda and thanks to everyone who entered. I'll be implementing some of the suggestions, as soon as I can find the time.

In the interest of keeping you entertained, go look at these really awesomely decorated cakes. Link stolen from Adrienne Martini who stole it from someone else.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We Have a Winner!



I printed out everyone's comments and placed the entries in the suitable vessel (the steam tray from my rice cooker), making sure to give double entries to thems that posted on their blogs.

I brought them over to HA while he was putting on his socks and had him pick one. I don't think he realized what was going on, and I suspect that he may have thought he was picking from an assortment of love notes. (Note to self: Totally do that some time.)

And the winner is Miranda! When I hear back from Miranda about her choice, I'll let everyone know which image she picked for her fabulous set of notecards.

Thanks for all the great input. I have some ideas about how to proceed with the notecards and when things are more decided, I'll be making announcements.

And now for something fiber-y. Crocheted food and critters and stuff.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random Pop Culture Stuff

I realize that running a contest doesn't absolve me of writing blog posts. Since I'm still fighting off a sinus infection, I act on this realization by feeling guilty about not posting instead of actually posting.

The plan was to get a lot of cleaning done this weekend. The reason I haven't been doing WIP posts is the lack of uncluttered surface on which to place things to photograph. But first I was stuck on the couch and today His Awesomeness seems to have caught whatever it is. (We both had MLK Jr. Day off and marked the day by hanging out and doing the cute newlywed thing.)

So no cleaning, but lots of watching DVDs and getting caught up on the DVR.



If you haven't seen Flight of the Conchords yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. There are not enough ways to describe how hilarious these 2 guys are. The songs are dangerously infectious. It's not possible to have a bad day when you keep singing, "You're so beautiful, you could be a part-time model" in your head.



I finally got around to watching Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. I'd heard that the first 15 minutes of the movie are so great that it makes having to sit through the rest of the film worth it. This is a correct statement. If they had managed to keep up that level of madness for the whole film, it would've been a classic. But those first 15 minutes are so good that I made HA sit through them.



While I'm on the subject of things worth checking out, I can't say enough good things about Once. It's a sweet, warm film with wonderful music.

There's still plenty of time to join the contest. I'm really appreciating all the comments and suggestions. I'll be acting on some of them in the next couple of weeks. Details soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Contest!

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I've decided to run a little contest to promote my new CafePress store because, well, the only person who's bought anything so far is my mom. So I need to promote the thing.

Besides, who doesn't love a good contest? (Hopefully, this is a good one.)

Prize: 10 notecards from the shop, your choice of image.
How to Enter: Leave a comment to this post. Suggestions on how to promote the store would be appreciated. If you think that they'd sell better if I printed them out myself and sold them as sets with assorted images on etsy, say so (keep in mind that they'd be more expensive, then). If you want me to put an image on a different item so you can buy that, let me know. If these pictures aren't your thing, but you'd buy notecards with artistic photos of yarn, let me know.

To get 2 entries, mention my little store and contest on your blog and leave a comment to this post letting me know you did it.

You can get 3 entries by buying something from the store and leaving me a comment to this post letting me know about it.

Be sure to leave me your e-mail address (formatted like: jenumlas at gmail dot com to stave off the internet evildoers) so I can contact the winner. I'll have His Awesomeness pick a name from a hat, bowl or other suitable vessel. Possibly while blindfolded.

Deadline: Noon, EST on Saturday, January 26. Winner will be selected on Sunday, January 27 and announced once I've contacted the winner so they can select their prize.

What's so great about notecards and postcards? Well, they're less expensive and more original than greeting cards with pre-printed messages. I haven't bought a birthday card in years. I just go to my collection of blank cards whenever I need to send one. They're pretty, they're unique, you can hang them on the wall to look at, or give them away and send them out into the world. They make it easy to send Thank You notes, or a quick hello to a friend who could stand to get something in the mail that isn't a bill. A set of them makes a good gift. (The Holidays are past, but end of school year teacher gifts are coming up sooner than you think. And if you're anything like me, people's birthdays are always sneaking up on you.)

So, let's get commenting and spreading the word and stuff!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We Gots Mittens!

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments on yesterday's post.

Before I go into today's post, I have simply got to mention that I just got an e-mail from Sandrasingh.com announcing 40% off Lorna's Laces. Even though I'm on an unofficial yarn diet, that much of a discount on such scrumptious yarn has me lightheaded. I made my clapotis out of Lorna's Lion and Lamb and oh, dear god was it worth it!

OK, I'm off to the fainting couch. You read about mittens.

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I made these for my mom. She's a teacher at school that doesn't have a teacher's parking lot, but does have alternate side of the street parking. So she often has to walk a few blocks to get to and from her car. She complained of the cold. I said, "Want mittens?" and she said, "OK!" And then I made mittens.

I'm so glad I measured her hand myself. Her hand circumference is a full inch more than mine. The entire time I was knitting them, I kept thinking they were too big. But they're not and apparently, I have wee little hands, at least compared to what the genetic lottery could've handed me.

Details:
Pattern: Basic Mitten Pattern by Ann Budd from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Red Pepper
Needles: Size US 5 DPNs

I got them in the mail on Friday, so hopefully we'll be getting an on the model shot soon.

But wait! There's more!
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I made peek-a-boo mittens for me! This way my fingers can peek out and grab my Metrocard and I don't have to take off the mittens.
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Hello fingers!

Details:
Pattern: Basic Mitten Pattern by Ann Budd from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Ocean
Needles: Size US 5 DPNs
Mods: I loosely followed the instructions for the Lady's Work Mittens by Sarah Bradberry from Knitting-and.com. I knot a certain number of stitches onto waste yarn. When I was finished, I removed the waste yarn and put the live stitches back on needles. I did 4 rows of ribbing on each side and bound off, sewing the panels of ribbing down to make a flap.

After a week or so of use, they're working out just fine. I made the thumbs too pointy and I know from my Fetchings that the yarn will pill like a mofo, but they should keep me covered for this winter at least. And they match the leg warmers I made last year (or quite possibly the year before), so there's that.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Out to Get Me



That's the view from my kitchen window. When the 7 train goes by, you can see it peeking through the buildings. After I took this shot, I thought to myself, "Oh, hey, I should wait for a train to go by. That would make a much better picture. I could use the zoom. I wonder how long it'll be before a train goes by. Oh, right. It won't be until TOMORROW."

Last Thursday morning on the train, as we were a dead stop between stations, they announced that there won't be any express train service on the 7 train for the next 5 weeks starting the next day. Just when I'd been managing to get to work exactly on time, or even a little early. (There's also no 7 train at all over the weekend past my stop. I can get into Manhattan on the weekends, but anyone wanting to go further out is shit outta luck. Oh, there's shuttle buses and whatnot, but those are really rather quite unpleasant. And infrequent. Weekend plans can be adjusted (thank gods I don't work weekends). But I fear I may become mentally unglued over the no express train thing during the week.

A little context here. I grew up in the boondocks of Brooklyn. My commute in Midtown Manhattan from there required taking a bus to the subway station and then a train. The whole thing took 1 hour and 15 minutes each way. It could take even longer on the way home if I went out with friends afterwards and came home at a time when the buses were coming every 20 minutes instead of every 10.

When there were service changes lasting a couple of years while they did work on the Manhattan Bridge, my trip became an hour and a half each way. I decided enough was enough. I moved closer in. I was paying twice the rent, but my trip in was more like 45 minutes to an hour.

I've moved a couple of times since then, but it wasn't until HA convinced me that the Great Shacking Up of Aught Seven should be in Queens that I began loving and hating the 7 train. It goes straight into midtown! It connects with all sorts of other useful trains! It's above ground, so it doesn't flood when it rains!

But when it rains, something mystical occurs to the 7 train. Maybe it runs more slowly. Maybe more people decide to take the train instead of the bus. Maybe the raindrops hit the train platform and people spring into life, fully formed, with a soggy umbrella under one arm and a damp newspaper under the other. The trains come, but damned if I can squeeze in.

Most bosses in Manhattan know that the subways go all weird when it rains and cut their employees some slack. This includes my current employers, even though I'm an hourly contractor now. The one day I was 10 minutes late (thanks to a problem on the 6 train, of course), I worked 10 minutes late to make up the time and it was all good.

At my old job (where I was salaried), 9:01 was considered late. The kind of late that no amount of working late could make up for. The day last summer when all the trains flooded and half the people in the city were at least 20 minutes late to work, I actually got a talking to from my manager. Who lived a 12 block walk from the office. The day after I'd been screamed at by another manager, I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning (on account of not wanting to go to work) and was a little late because of that. I was spoken to again. It got to the point that I was biting my tongue from stress on the way in to work every day. Every time a train arrived in the station that was too full to get into, I'd consider taking a cell phone picture to show my manager. Every time I changed trains, I'd feel my manager standing behind me, bitching at me to walk faster. In fact, as I was going in to job interviews, or even going going into my job now, I can feel her there, unreasonably egging me on to beat the clock.

At my current job, they're very nice about all sorts of things, but I'm paid hourly and I'm brand new, so the least I can do is make every effort to show up on time. Especially since I know that at some point I'm going to start leaving the apartment just a couple of minutes later one week and then a little later the next. I want to be in as good a position as possible before I start backsliding.

And then the MTA scheduled construction that will mean no express train at all for 5 weeks. With one day's notice. As it is, to get in at 9, I've been leaving the apartment at 8. These changes mean I'll have to leave earlier. My commute could go back to 1 hour and 15 minutes! Even though I live within walking distance of the train station and am paying a helluva lot more rent than I was out in the boondocks. Honestly! It didn't take much longer than that to walk to work during the Transit Strike (which I did exactly once because I got sick from walking that many miles in the December cold and had to call in sick until the strike was over, so it's not really a viable alternative).

Clearly, the MTA is opposed to my getting to work at 9 AM. Not just me, of course. They don't want anyone to get in at 9. Why else would they make it so damn near impossible? Don't even get me started on the day I was 45 minutes late for a job interview thanks to major problems on not one, but both trains I had to take.

I wanted to cry when I heard the news, but I find that I don't have many tears lately. I'm less emotional and stressed because the wedding is over and done with, but I also feel like I've kind of had it. It's sort of a dull, burned out feeling. I'm trying to remember how I was ever able to leave for work as early as I did back when it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to get to work. Mind you, I started at 10 for many years, but when I was a young and energetic college kid working summers as a Kelly Temporary, I started at 9.

I can see why people are reluctant to take public transportation. I have no control over the situation. When I was driving to work in NJ, if I was late to work because I'd had to drive slowly because of bad weather, that was just safety. And my choice. And I worked for people who traveled to work the same way, so they understood. The day two tractor-trailers got into an accident on the Goethals Bridge and all traffic was stopped and I was a couple of HOURS late, the only people who said anything to me about it were the 2 co-workers who were stuck on the bridge ahead of me. But now they've decided to do incredibly disruptive trackwork and I have minimal warning and no way around it.

If public transportation is going to save us from the looming environmental crisis, it's going to have to get more reliable. And employers are going to have to become more laid back about punctuality. I suppose they already are, but after 4.5 months of working for people who thought that 9:01 was late (well, alright, 9:10, but I am long past the point in my career where it should matter), I'm still jumpy. I mean, even the spoiled-sounding girl on the train I had to listen to Wednesday morning works for a boss who doesn't care if she's a little late as long as she's in by 9:15.

Employers are also going to have to get more on board with Flex Time. Since most people have to be at 9, when I go in at 9, the trains are more crowded and uncomfortable and the trip takes longer. Aiming to get in at 9:15, 9:30 or 10 leads to a shorter, less unpleasant commute. (It's probably the same for people coming in at 8:30, but since I'm not a morning person, I understand that people might do it, but my brain refuses to accept the information.)

Friday, I made it in just on time despite the rain and lack of express train. I got an e-mail from my new manager discussing logistics, since we hadn't had the chance to discuss those yet. And the sun came out and angels began to sing. Because it turns out that I actually do have the option of starting my day at 9:30. It's a good thing the conversation wasn't taking face to face, because I could've kissed her and I'm trying to make a good impression.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It Never Even Occurred to Me

I'm still a sleepy zombie even though I got my 11 and a half hours last night, but I finally dragged myself off the couch long enough to do some blog reading.

This comes to us by way of Martinimade. It's title Best Wedding First Dance Ever. I'm not sure about that, but it's certainly the First Memorable Wedding First Dance Ever.



As I've mentioned, His Awesomeness and I went through several weeks of dance lessons leading up to the wedding. Our teacher had even choreographed a big entrance for us. We felt stupid doing it, so we did it in class and then skipped it at the wedding.

If we had thought to do something like the above, I'm 93% certain that we would've completely chickened out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Poke, Poke

I was all ready to dive into a rant about the NYC Transit Authority is out to get me, but I just don't have the energy at the moment. Since I will be attempting to haul my ass to work ON TIME without the benefit of a motherfunking express train for 5 motherfunking weeks, you will be getting all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in five part harmony at some point.

In the meantime, here's a useful site:
VotePoke

You enter your info and they'll let you know if you're registered to vote. Very useful if, say, just to pull an example out of the air, you moved and although your husband was magically re-registered under the new address with no intervention of his own, but you're still registered to vote in your old neighborhood.

Just f'rinstance.

If you're not registered to vote (are are registered under an old name or address), this site lets fill out the registration form online and you just have to print and mail it.

If you live in New York State and want to vote in the primary, you have to register by Friday, January 11. I'm hoping that means it has to be postmarked by that date, or I'm going to have to shlep to my old hood to vote. On the bright side, if it comes to that, I can swing by my old supermarket and pick up some of the things that I can't find at my new supermarket (same chain, different owner). For a while there, I was making HA do all the food shopping because I couldn't stand the disappointment.

Yeah, so anyway, make sure you can vote. And then make sure that you vote. Of course, I'd prefer that you vote for whoever I end up supporting, but one of my many pet peeves is people who don't vote at all. So, you get on that now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Call Off the Search Dogs

I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I had only fallen into a vat of my own mucous. Just a regular cold. I didn't cough up anything interesting, or lose my voice, because, you know, that only happens when I'm surrounded with my best and dearest and I'm being recorded for posterity

I also started a new job last week, so I'm a bit tired. It's not the overwhelming, exhausting sensory overload that happened when I started my last job, but I'm a bit tuckered.

But my, oh, my do I have some good blog posts planned. Just as soon as I can escape the vortex of comfyness that is my sofa. I'm just impressed that I've been getting my 15 minutes of novel writing a day done. (Chapter 9, you will be revised into submission by the end of the week, bwah, ha ha!)

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of some sock yarn from The Heathen Housewife, who dyes her own. (Scroll down to the December 30 post, titled, "Purging".) She's not loving the Superman colors, and His Awesomeness never met a comic book he didn't like, so he's getting himself some socks.

I've been wanting to learn to knit socks for a while now. (I said I'd never knit socks. Why would anyone do such a thing? That's just crazy talk--all those little stitches on those teeny little needles. I think we all know what this means for the I'm Never Going to Spin or Dye Yarn thing I have going on. Oh well.) But I only own one skein of sock yarn--Tofutsies, which I bought because the colors are yummy. But $20 sock yarn is a bit pricey for my very first pair of socks. Honestly, $20 seems a bit much for my 20th pair of socks, but at least by then I'll know what I'm doing and the damn things will be wearable.

Since I didn't have any other sock yarn and am/was avoiding yarn purchases (since there's so much of it in the closet that I'm afraid to open it), I was a bit out of luck for the time being. But then I got some Christmas money and I decided that I'm going to spend it on some inexpensive sock yarn.

After an eensy bit of research, it looks like Knit Picks Essential is the way to go. Inexpensive, machine washable, nice colors. But before I go ahead and buy, I'm throwing it out to you more experienced sock knitters. Can you recommend any other sock yarns that fit the bill? Any bad experiences with this yarn? (The peeps on Ravelry sang its praises, but that doesn't make it perfect.)

And for when my sock knitting skillz improve, any suggestions for mid-price sock yarns (maybe $10-$15 a pair)? Yeah, yeah, I know sock yarn doesn't count, but for several reasons, we're in Scrimpfest 2008 here at Casa de Fashionably Late, so even sock yarn splurges need to be restrained.

And since a blog post without a picture is like a Something without a Something Else, here's a picture of my one ball of sock yarn:
Tofu
Isn't it the cutest thing?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Paris Friday

On Friday, I started making HA take the notes, so that take on a different tone (and handwriting).

We had breakfast again at La Croissanterie. I had a cappucino and a beignet framboise (raspberry jelly donut, but even better) and His Awesomeness had a Chausse Pomme, which was a big ol' apple fritter. Breakfast of Champions, people.

HA's notes also say that we slept until 8:15 and that Jen did not want to get up. Grumble, grumble. Rotten morning people. Leaping out of bed in the morning just isn't normal. Feh.

We walked to Le Marais, which is the Jewish area, as well as the gay area. If you need to find an open restaurant on a Sunday, that's where you go. You can get fantastic falafel there. In fact, there are something like 5 falafel restaurants with 15 feet of each other on the rue des Rosiers. But more on that later.

Here's some interesting graffiti we saw.

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And here's a bookshop we visited.

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In case it's not clear enough in the picture, the name of the bookstore is Mona Lisait, or Mona Reads. It's a pun on Mona Lisa, which just proves that there's no escaping puns even on vacation.

According to HA's notes, this is where he bought the Barbarella book and not the other place. There were a few vintage embroidery books there, but since money was tight, I didn't buy any, since I didn't think I'd get any use out of them.

For lunch, we had falafel on the rue des Rosiers.

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That is not where we ate. HA's notes make it clear that we did not eat at Lenny Kravitz's favorite place. We ate across the street at a place that had more seating. His notes also say "gooood." I would probably add another couple of o's there. The falafel lived up to my memory and in fact, eating falafel in The Marais was on the Must Not Skip part of our To Do list and it did not disappoint.

We went for a walk around the Place des Vosges and discovered an overabundance of art galleries. There used to be some souvenir shops and such, but now every single business surrounding the square is an art gallery (except for one cafe).

After that, we walked to the Pompidou Center (the modern art museum). We stopped in a Salon du The on the second floor of a building that faced the museum.

Check out my pathetic attempts to kinnear the tea salon:

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I did a better job of kinnearing the view out the window of the museum.

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After I had my coffee and HA had his cocoa, we walked around to the famous fountain and took pictures from every angle.

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The Pompidou has an inside-out design. The escalators are enclosed, but only by glass (that's the tube in the picture above. No, the one above that.). My fear of heights was under control for the first few floors, but by the time we got to the top, I was petrified. Everyone else, including HA stood close to the glass and took pictures of the gorgeous view.

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Meanwhile, I stayed back where I was not in mortal peril.

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And even then, it felt rather perilous. We had to take the elevator down because I couldn't face the down escalator. HA's notes say, "Very scary escalators, but Jen was so brave!"

Apparently, he's expanded the definition of "brave" to include managing not to sit on the floor whimpering.

Um, yeah, there was art. We looked at it. It was all modern and stuff.

We walked back to the hotel by way of the booksellers along the Seine on the Right Bank. Since the sun was going down, they were all closing up shop. I did manage to buy an old book about Yuri Gregarin with lots of pictures. I gave it to my brother for Christmas. He and his friends used to have a whole business plan for opening a resort on the moon. He was an adult at the time. The plan was not entirely outlandish. So yeah, he likes the space stuff.

We had dinner that evening with my father's cousin Rick, who is a pilot and had just flown into Paris from the States (after doing a Colorado-Germany round trip earlier in the week). He took us off in search of a restaurant he'd been to before that had great beer and great mussels. He couldn't remember the name of it (except that it was monk-related) and wasn't sure of the location, but as we were walking along, we found it.

It's called Le Trappiste (as in Trappist monks) and they have belgian beers and mussels served in over a dozen kinds of sauces. The French, they know mussels. In the States, you'll usually find mussels about as big as your thumb. In France, they're much smaller--around the size of the top third of your pinky. They taste so much sweeter and tenderer that way. I got mine in cream sauce and they were sublime.

After we saw Rick back to the metro, we stopped into a discount bookstore and picked up a few things. We got some coffee table type books with sports photos to give as gifts. I picked up a pamphlet of Phildar knitting patterns and a book about the history of textiles. They'll get their own post.

On the way back to the hotel, we saw over a hundred people on rollerblades. We weren't able to figure out what was going on, but they did have a police escort, so it was clearly something organized and not a rollerblading flash mob.

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We were so stunned, that they were almost gone by the time we remembered that we had a camera with us.

Back at the hotel, we watched a competition reality show looking for the next big stage magician. There were 3 judges who were professional magicians and 3 who were amateurs. Apparently, one of the judges is Ed Grimley:
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Yeah, that guy still leaves me speechless.