Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Strangers in the night....

The yeast cells of strain A14 were just hanging out on their agar plate, minding their own business, when they were suddenly scooped up and put back down on another plate. No sooner had this happened when they were joined by the yeast cells of strain I15, and swirled around on the plate. At this point the A14 cells did what any other self-respecting "alpha" cells would do when at a mixer with "a" cells--they sent out their schmoos and had themselves a little orgy. A scientific observer was able to take a this picture of the event:

Tomorrow, when they have happily combined into alpha/a cells, they will be transfered yet again to another plate and allowed to sporulate. What more could a yeast want out of life?

Don't judge me. It's 9:33pm and I'm still at lab. Permit me my little yeast humor.

The great thing about using yeast for experiments (yes, the same yeast that you use to make bread) is that they are capable of sexual reproduction which means you can do all kinds of genetics with them. It would take too long to explain--just trust me on this. The yeast come in two mating types: "alpha" and "a".

No, I am not at lab for yeast voyeurism. They can have their little orgy just fine without me watching. I'm actually doing a different kind of experiment and if you're really nice to me, I might show you some pretty pictures from the microscope in a few days.

Still no blocking

I ended up getting out of lab earlier than I thought, but instead of blocking my socks like a good girl, I started to create a How to Knit brochure. The Hyde Park Art Center is moving from it's present location (right next door to me) to a few blocks away. This weekend, they are having a grand opening party/open house with music and food and artists and midnight ceramics and my SnB group. We are bringing some needles and cheap yarn to teach people to knit if they want. And I thought, wouldn't it be nice if we had something to give to people about knitting that they can take with them? Thus, the brochure.

You know, my hands know how to knit, but trying to describe it on paper was a challenge. I would have to pick up my knitting, knit or purl a stitch, and then describe that action. The hard part is going to be the diagrams. I'm going to try to do close-up images of my hands casting on and knitting and purling, but I'm afraid the photos won't photocopy well. And I can't fathom doing drawings. And it's probably illegal for me to steal diagrams from websites (though I would reference them on the brochure--I swear). Anyway, I wrote the descriptions for casting on, knitting, purling, casting off and some simple fabrics--garter, stockinette, seed, ribbing. We'll see if I'm able to get it done by Sat. If I don't, it'll be a good thing to have around anyway....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Quickie

I don't have a lot of time today because I have to do this ridiculously long experiment, but I thought I'd pop in to say that I K-stitched up the toes and I made the wire blockers for the sockapaloooza socks, but I haven't done the blocking yet. Maybe tomorrow (tonight I'm afraid I'll be in lab).

Also, last night at the SnB meeting, I collected the last of the items our group is sending to the newborns for afghans for Afghans and I shipped them out today priority mail. Here is a pic of the fruits of our labors:

Hats and socks go to the newborns, but the stuffed animals are staying with me (I'm generous, but I'm not "give-away-all-my-stuffed-animals" generous). Altogether, we made 21 hats and 3 pairs of booties or socks!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The knitting is done!

I finished the knitting on my sockapaloooza/cirque du socks socks yesterday. I could've completely finished them and started blocking them last night, but I decided to watch Memoirs of a Geisha (which I enjoyed by the way) and since I'm still not the world's best Kitchener Stitcher, I decided to wait to do that until I could give them more attention. I stitched up one this morning. I plan on doing the other tonight at SnB, then sew in the ends and maybe even give them a bath and block them tonight after SnB. I normally don't block socks. I just wear them, they're naturally the right shape so they fit my foot fine. But since I'm sending these away, I decided to try blocking them. I'm going to make a pair of blockers from wire hangers. I'll let you know how that works out.

So, what did I work on during the movie (because you know you can't sit through a movie without knitting, it's just wrong)? I started the second sock of the pair I'm making my grandma for Mother's day. I'm using Cascade Fixation and making up the pattern as I go along. Grandma complains that her socks constrict her ankles too much, so I made a garter stitch cuff. These are short socks, so there shouldn't be a problem with them staying up, and anyway, the elastic in the yarn should help with that a little. It took me practically no time at all to make the first one, so I should be able to get this done in time. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to make socks for Mom in time, so I think I'm going to make her a pair of fuzzy flipflops by crocheting eyelash yarn around the tops. If you haven't seen a pair of these, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about--don't worry, I'll post a picture when I'm done.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Feeling a little overwhelmed

I think I could handle the million other things going on in my life right now that are scary, but there's something wrong with my cat. He's doing this odd behavioral thing where he kneads for several minutes at a time, alternately standing up and laying down and when he's laying down, he shakes his leg a bit. This goes on and on and on until he finally gets comfortable and lays there. But, if he gets up to lay down somewhere else, it starts all over again. This is completely abnormal behavior for him and he's becoming obsessive about it. I took him to the vet, and we thought he might have some kind of infection that was making him uncomfortable, so I started giving him antibiotics and now he's not eating. So the vet wants me to stop the antibiotics and see if he starts eating again.

You know, I stood by the bed while my grandfather died without falling apart, but whenever my cat gets sick, I start to go crazy. Really crazy. Anxious. I had to call my shrink. Who recommended tranquilizers. Yes, that's how bad it is. And I'm not at work. Why? I just can't make myself go. I know. I should go. Get my mind off the cat. But, I'm sleepy. So, I think I'll take a nap instead. Or maybe I should knit. That is usually soothing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oil change

Today, I have to take the car to get the oil changed. Sadly, in the almost 5 years we have owned this car, this is the first time _I_ have taken it for an oil change. John almost always does it, but he's out of town (on a job interview--wish him luck!), and we're way past due and he can't do it on the weekend because I have to use the car to get to the Stephenson Co. Fiber Art Fair (it's good to have priorities).

So, I'm bringing my sockpal socks to knit on and a book. I am starting to feel like a real Knitter because I just did a search to see if there were yarn stores nearby (there weren't--at least not close). This has become a habit with me; if I'm going somewhere novel, I'll check to see if there is a yarn store nearby. Some might call this a sickness, but others....well, okay, they would also probably call it a sickness but one that they suffer from, too. :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Can't resist

I found a contest: name five places you've knit besides at home and a yarn shop (I've never actually knit at a yarn shop).

1. In Church (Chartres Cathedral, France, St. John's in Independence, IA , Bond Chapel, Chicago, IL; the church where my brother-in-law got married)
2. BV's thesis defense
3. My sister's high school graduation
4. the Lyric Opera House during Rigoletto (and another opera I can't think of right now)
5. Conferences: Yeast Cell Biology, Cold Spring Harbor, NY; American Society for Cell Biology, San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

No religious content at all

For those of you who stepped out during the Easter marathon, I've gotten all that out of my system (for now) so it's okay to come back.

I have been having one of those days--you know, where everything seems to be conspiring against you. It's 9:16pm and I'm still in lab. That's the kind of day it has been. The good news, though, is that I actually might have data! Yes, that elusive goal. Something for once worked like it was supposed to.

Sockpal socks: I am still knitting both on 1 circ. I've got 5-6 inches done on the foot--only around 3 more to go! I may actually get these done! I really like how they are turning out. I tried really hard to make them identical, but alas, they will be fraternal with regard to the colorway. I'm not real worried about it, though. I'm really liking this baby cable rib. It's easy and makes a nice pattern.

Did I mention I'm still at lab? I think I will correct that by going home now.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Holy Saturday is almost a non-event in the cycle of Holy Week. It is the day that Jesus lay dead in the tomb. He was busy, of course, decending into hell to gather all the good souls who died before he did (Abraham, Moses, etc.--you didn't really think God was just going to leave them there, did you?). However, all the potential witnesses were off observing the Sabbath, so there's really no information in the Bible about what was going on that day.

However, on Holy Saturday, in the evening, we celebrate the Easter Vigil. Properly, it should end just after midnight so that you are actually celebrating Easter on Easter day (though, as Kristen pointed out, if you are Orthodox, you're there until dawn--that's dedication for you!). However, it depends on the parish whether or not you make it to midnight (it's sort of like "midnight" Mass on Christmas Eve; it does seem ridiculous to call the church to ask what time midnight Mass is, but in some churches, it starts at 9pm and only lasts an hour, and therefore isn't really at midnight). I just got back from Vigil Mass, so obviously we didn't make it to midnight. However, it is Easter for us now, no matter what the clock says (which is good because now I can have cookies and candy)!

The Vigil is pretty amazing, as far as Masses go. We start off with a fire and if the church is big enough, they'll actually have it in church. Tonight, we had it outside. Then, the Easter candle is lit. This candle will be lit during the entire season of Easter--yes Easter is a season, it lasts 50 days--and at baptisms and all baptismal candles will be lit from it. Then we all light little candles and process into the church and the priest chants "Christ our Light," and we respond, "Thanks be to God," and we all take our seats and blow our candles out and sit in darkness during 7 Old Testament readings which take us through the history of the Israelites and through some of the prophesies and 6 psalms--one between each reading. Then, we get to sing the Gloria! We have not said the Gloria prayer through all of Lent, and now the lights come up and we belt it out, Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on Earth! Then, there is a reading from one of the letters of Paul and then we sing the Alleluia (which we also haven't said all during Lent) and we have the Gospel reading. The priest gives the homily, then we get to the really special event--the initiation of the catechumens.

In the very early days of the Church, only adults entered the Church and only after a long period of study. They received the sacraments of initiation--Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist--at the Easter Vigil Mass. This tradition is upheld by the adults who enter the Church today. We had several baptisms, one guy who was already baptized and received first Eucharist, and a bunch of confirmations. It's so wonderful to see people come to the Church of their own free will. I have heard enough anti-Catholic sentiment that I am always amazed when someone who wasn't born into the Church joins the Church.

After the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we have the Liturgy of the Eucharist--just like we usually do--and the newly baptized and confirmed receive their first Eucharist and then the rest of us come up for communion. Then, there's a final prayer and the closing hymn, which inevitably is "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."

Easter, the commercial holiday, probably has more pagan symbolism than Christmas. The bunnies, the eggs--symbols of fertility. And, of course, the holiday itself gets its name from a pagan holiday. But, Easter is the soul of Christianity. As it says in one of my favorite books, A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, "Anyone can be sentimental about the Nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don't believe in the resurrection, you're not a believer." And it's true. It's easy to believe in a baby being born. It's unfathomable to imagine the kind of love that could cause someone to allow himself to be tortured for hours and hours, then executed, but it's unfortunately easy to believe that someone can be tortured in that manner. But to believe that someone came back to life after death.... And it was a real death. A true death. His body was no longer alive and His soul was separated from his body (making that little trip to hell). That is the Mystery of Easter. And if you can't believe that, then you can't call yourself a Christian.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Good Friday memorializes the day that Jesus was killed--at 3:00 in the afternoon. The scripture indicates that people were surprised that He died so quickly. Crucifixion was not a short death but a slow agonizing one. The Bible says that they sent people out to break the legs of the people on the crosses. I never really understood what that meant, and as a kid, I thought it meant that they took them off the crosses then broke their legs so they couldn't go anywhere. The reality is more horrifying. Apparently, after awhile a person's arms could no longer hold them up properly, but if they sagged, the person would start to suffocate because they couldn't breathe properly. They used their feet to push themselves back up into position so they could breathe. Breaking their legs prevented that, so they died more quickly by suffocation (though many people preferred a quick death by suffocation to a slow one, so if your family had money, they might pay off the soldiers to break your legs).

Because of the terrible nature of His death, the cross was not used as a religious symbol for a very long time. Think of it this way, if your religious hero had been killed by hanging, would you want to wear a little noose around your neck in rememberance? Now, of course, the cross is such a powerful symbol of Christianity, a little cross by a person's name on a tomb indicates their faith. People wear crosses--I myelf have three. However, most Protestant denominations prefer the empty cross while Catholics prefer the crucifix--a cross with a corpus (body). I think it shows a difference in the emphasis placed on the events of the Passion--are we saved because He died, or are we saved because He rose again?

The cross plays a very important role in Good Friday services in the Catholic Church. I say services, and not Mass, deliberately; Good Friday is the one day of the year that Mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world. Mass is a celebration and Good Friday is not a day of celebration, it is a day of repentance and mourning. It is a day of fast and abstinence. There will be communion, but it will be eucharist that was consecrated yesterday for the purpose of using it on Good Friday. Much of the service will focus on the cross. The priest will process in and lay prostrate in front of it (face down on the floor). When this happens, all of the congregation kneels. You kneel until the priest gets up and there is no proscribed amount of time for the prostration. The Passion is read and when we come to the part where it says, "When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit," we all kneel again until the priest decides it's been long enough. Finally, there is the veneration of the cross.

I had never attended a Good Friday service until my sophomore year in college. I had absolutely no idea what it entailed. Therefore, I was not at all prepared for the veneration of the cross. A friend of mine described her first experience once by saying her first thought was, "My God, my Protestant friends are right--we are pagan--they're kissing the cross!" That's pretty much what I thought, too. Frankly, I can't think of anything Catholics do that more closely relates to paganism than the veneration of the cross. Like the statues in our churches, however, we are not worshiping the cross. We are worshiping Jesus and remembering his sacrifice for us and veneration of the cross is showing our respect for the instrument of his death which brought about our salvation.

Not all that long ago, there was another ritual on Good Friday: as one, the assembly cursed the "pefidous Jews" who killed our savior. This has never happened in my lifetime--it was discontinued as a result of Vatican II--and I was honesty shocked and ashamed when I found out about it. Having been raised post-Vatican II, I was taught to respect the Jews and I was absolutely never told to blame them for the death of Jesus. It was made very clear to me that Jesus's death was necessary for our salvation, that He planned for it, knew it would happen, and did nothing to stop it, so great was His love for us. It honestly never even occured to me to blame anyone or anything other than the depravity of humanity that had made His death necessary.

Which was why I was terribly confused about all the bruhaha that surrounded Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." To me, it was simply an enactment of the events of the Bible. I couldn't understand what the Jewish community was so afraid of. It seemed like their primary concern was that they showed the Jewish leaders as orchestrating the crucifixion and I didn't see how Jews could expect that to be altered since that was what was written in the Bible.

Poor, naive me. I had no idea that my Church had a history of staging Passion plays during Holy Week, then going out in mad, angry mobs, storming the Jewish ghettos, and beating Jews to within inches of their lives (or to death). Granted, this was hundreds of years ago, but it's not the kind of thing you forget if you were of the people who were being beaten. I had no idea that my Church had a history of cursing Jews every Good Friday, of promoting the idea that Jews murdered our savior, that every great cathedral in Europe has some sort of statue or painting or stained glass window to symbolize how terrible Judaism was. I was in for quite a rude awakening. I found all of this out because I had Jewish friends who got me involved in interfaith dialog groups and seminars--one specifically about the movie. To say that I was shocked and horrified is an understatement. It reminded me of how I felt when I left the holocaust museum in DC--terribly ashamed.

The Church has made some amends. And certainly future generations of Catholics will be just as naive about the persecution of Jews that the Church engaged in for so long, so they will never have that model to emulate (although it is not the best policy to conceal the mistakes of the past). I feel though, as a member of the Church, I should offer some penance for this travesty. So, I tell every Jewish person I know about what is taught to us about the crucifixion. I also tell them the current official doctrine, so that they can defend themselves against crazy Christians who tell them they murdered Jesus. To all the Jewish people who read this (if there are any), here is what you should say,

"Because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, there was a rift between humanity and God. According to your scripture, Jesus came to heal that rift and that could only be accomplished by his death. Therefore, if Jesus had not died, humanity would not be saved and would not be completely reconciled with God. A small number of Jews at the time were made to be the instruments of the death that Jesus himself planned. As it is, we have done you a favor, and you're very welcome."

Then run like hell.

Alternately, you could address a completely ridiculous accusation with an equally ridiculous answer, "He did rise again, you know. It's not like we did any permanent damage."

run like hell.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Holy Thursday

Having not done much introspection during Lent, I've decided to take the next few days to do so. If you hate reading about anything religious, please come back on Monday when I will likely have this all out of my system by then. :)

This evening we celebrate the Last Supper. Which, incidently, was a Passover meal (happy Passover to Jews everywhere, I hope you had a wonderful Seder last night!), Jesus having come to Jerusalem for Passover. At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the disciples feet. This was to symbolize that he was their servant. Therefore, Mass tonight will have some foot washing component. In large parishes, perhaps the priest might symbolically wash the feet of a few people. Or maybe they will have the catechumens (those adults who are entering the Church at Easter Vigil) wash the feet of their sponsors. In other parishes, a few of the Church leaders will wash the feet of the entire congregation. I've been to services where everyone participates in foot washing--you wash the feet of the person in line before you, then sit down to have your feet washed by the person in line behind you. This is symbolic washing, by the way, just holding your foot over a basin, having a little water poured on it, then having it toweled off.

Symbolic or no, I don't like it. More because I have issues with strangers touching me than because I don't want to pour water on someone's feet. And I feel self-concious about my feet in particular. And they are ticklish. Perhaps if I had gone to this Mass as child, I wouldn't have a problem with it as an adult because it would just be The Way It Is, but alas, I am neurotic about it.

I wonder how the disciples handled it? I am thinking what it would be like if I went to dinner at my advisor's house and suddenly, he says he's going to wash our feet? I can picture me and my lab mates all looking at each other like, "What the hell is he thinking?" and in the meantime saying things like, "That's okay, B--you know what, I just washed my feet before I left the house; if I had known beforehand, well, anyway it's perfectly okay, I get what you're saying, I understand, no need to go overboard here." To my recollection, there's no account of what the desciples thought about the whole thing.*

Of course, the evening ends with Jesus being betrayed by Judas (that's where the term betrayed by a kiss comes from--Judas tells the authorities that the man that he embraces is the one) and hauled off to jail. So, after the foot washing and communion, the altar is stripped in preparation for Good Friday. Every bit of ornamentation is removed (Protestants might say ornamentation is from the devil anyway, but we're not going to go into that here)--everything. I've seen parishes remove the altar table itself! The blessed Eucharist (which Catholics believe is the actual body of Christ, also a topic of discussion for another day) is removed from the tabernacle (a little house where it is usually kept) and placed in the "altar of repose" which is usually some side chapel--not part of the main church. There is usually time for adoration of the blessed sacrament, perhaps even for the entire night (I know that might sound a little pagan, but since the sacrament is Christ, it is actually adoration of Christ). The altar is left bare and empty, ready for Good Friday services which usually features a very large cross.

I have not yet decided if I'm going to go to Mass this evening. It depends on how I feel about the foot washing and how guilty I feel about not going.

Oh, right, knitting. I finished the heels on both of my sockpal socks and have actually put both socks on the singular circular needle and am knitting them at the same time. It's a little complicated, but I can manage.

*The Bible often leaves out potentially interesting bits of conversation. For instance, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, it says that Abraham brought his son to the place of sacrifice and then tied him up and was about to kill him when God stopped him. But you don't get to hear the story from Isaac's perspective. Did Abraham have to chase him around a bit before being able to tie him up and put him on the altar? "Father, why are you tying me up? Father, what are you doing with that big knife? Father, are you out of your mind???? Hey! Help! My father's trying to kill me!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

G is for....


I adopted Ghiradelli and his sister, Godiva, (I named them, btw, can you tell I have a thing for chocolate?) from the Chicago City Pound in Jan. 2002. Neither of them was in very good shape and I sincerely think my vet thought neither one of them was long for this world. Ghiradelli looked especially bad--emaciated (you could feel his vertebrae when you pet him) and his fur was all funky; it was not particularly pleasant to pet him. Both of them had rotten teeth and Ghiradelli eventually had 7 teeth removed and needs to have another three pulled in the near future. Ghiradelli had a heart rate that was half that of a normal cat. And these cats did not come in off the street--their owner brought them in.

This entry would've been called Godiva and Ghiradelli, but in the fall of 2003, Godiva became very, very ill. She was having difficulty moving around and when I took her to the vet, I found out she had Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). There is no cure. She was suffering and so with a heavy heart, I had her put to sleep. My eyes are tearing up as I write this. She was a good kitty and had just finally opened up to me and then she was gone.

Poor Ghiradelli was left alone and I could not get him a new kitty companion. There is no doubt he was exposed to FIP and he remains a carrier of the disease. I did get him vaccinated, but the odds of that working are very slim. So, the virus lays dormant inside him and one day may arise and I will lose him, too.

But, enough of this sadness! Ghiradelli is here now and he is a wonderful cat. He is incredibly laid back and relaxed and very friendly. When new people show up he comes out to check them out. He'd probably lead a thief straight to the family silver. He is a "mature" kitty; I'll never know his exact age, but when I got him, he was probably about 10 years old which would make him 14 now. But, he's still very playful and active and he will get those damn pigeons who sit on the windowsill if it is the last thing he does. He's useless with bugs--he just plays with them, he doesn't eat them. He's not so into catnip--he could take it or leave it.

Ghiradelli and my hubby have something resembling a sibling rivalry. John refuses to let the kitty sleep on his pillow and Ghiradelli defiantly gets up on the table no matter how much John yells at him (though it might work better if John didn't just come into the dining room and point at the cat and say, "Hey! Yes, you!" [because G will look over at him like, who are you talking to?] "Shoo! Get down! Bad kitty! Shoo!" while G just lays his ears back and pretends not to notice until John gets right up to him, then G will proceed to walk across the entire table before getting down). But I know he secretly loves the kitty. Once, while I was at a conference John told me over the phone that he didn't sleep very well because, "kitty was snoring" (he never uses G's name--it's just "kitty"), and he "tried poking him a few times to get him to stop." I guess it never occurred to him to put the cat out of the room.

Ghiradelli has grown quite attached to his people and definitely notices when one of us is gone for a few days. He's been known to sit and watch the door in the evenings, waiting for the missing party to return home. G likes to be in the same room as me, wherever that is (including the bathroom). He really likes to be on me, especially if I'm reading something (he'll be on the reading), or knitting (so he can bat at the ends of the needles and get tangled up in the yarn and generally be a pest), or eating, or well, just about anything. He particularly likes to eat his dinner (I give him a small amount of canned catfood twice a day in addition to his dry food--it's hard for him to eat the dry food because of his teeth) when we are having our dinner. If I come home late, having eaten dinner somewhere else, he has often not eaten very much of his dinner, so I'll go sit in the dining room so he'll eat.

My family has always had cats and I have always found them to be great companions. I've never had a cat that wasn't friendly; I don't know if that's something to do with me personally or if I've just been really lucky.

I know that my time with Ghiradelli is limited. Even if he wasn't a carrier for FIP, he's getting up there in years. But I'm going to enjoy every minute he's a part of my life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I am actually making progress on my sockpal socks. I finished the leg of the 2nd sock and started the heel. Then, I'll do the heel of the first sock and move on to the foot. I've decided to do them in parallel because I have a leeetle problem with 2nd sock syndrome. I just wish I had two circs of this size so I didn't have to keep putting the stitches on scrap yarn so I can use the needles on the other sock....

Tonight, I got to play around with an inexpensive ($80) digital microscope for a museum project I'm working on. It's a cute little thing and works amazingly well for the price. It even has image capture software and video recording. I'm thinking about putting it on my Christmas wish list. :) That reminds me, as a kid, I always put a microscope on my wishlist for Xmas but I never ever got one. :( My parents really weren't into educational toys and I think they thought I would get tired of it. Boy, I bet they feel stupid now! This little toy is nothing compared to the scopes I get to use at work, but it's still pretty fun. Besides, I can't take random crap and put it on the scope at work (okay, I would, but it doesn't belong to our lab--it belongs to a group of labs and we have to pay for the time we spend on it). Hmmmm....I wonder what yarn looks like magnified 200 times......

Monday, April 10, 2006


I am going forward with my sockpal/cirque-du-socks socks in the baby cable rib from Sensational Knitted Socks. I've gotten the leg of one done and am working on the cuff of the second one.

I'm getting a little neurotic about these socks. I really want my sockpal to like them and I especially want them to fit. I've ripped them out about a dozen times by now and I'm still freaking out about the fit. If these were for me or anyone I actually knew, I wouldn't be so obsessed. I guess I want to make a good impression on the knitblogging community, so these socks are taking on a lot more importance than they really should for my own good. Last night, I was worrying about them again (and seriously considering ripping them out yet again and starting over) and Roommie told me to stop obsessing and keep knitting--they are fine. I guess I needed that.

I wish I could show you a picture but I stayed home from work today because I was still feeling ill this morning so I am stuck at home with a standard dial-up connection and don't feel like waiting the 2 hours it would take to upload the picture. I will post one later in the week.

Holy Week

In the Catholic Church Calendar, this is the most sacred time of year. Yesterday was Palm Sunday when we commemorate Jesus's entry in Jerusalem when the people welcomed him by waving palms and saying Hosanah (as most of you know, it all went downhill for him from there).

Palm Sunday also involves the reading of the Passion (the events surrounding the death of Jesus) which can be quite long depending on how the priest decides to do it. As a child, we spent this time making things out of our palm fronds--crosses and so forth. A friend of mine once said she never kept her palms because it was, "too much responsibility." See, having been blessed, the palms can never be thrown away. You can, however, burn them, and a parish will burn their leftover palms to use as the ashes for Ash Wednesday the following year. My grandmother says that her mother used to burn bits of palm during storms, and my grandmother still does this. I guess this was done to somehow keep your house safe, although I'm not sure how.

Holy Week is when the Church pulls out all the stops. It is ceremony and ritual as never seen during the rest of the Church year. It is during this week that the holy oils that will be used for the rest of the year will be blessed. All Catholics are supposed to be preparing for the great Triduum--Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday which is when the Easter Vigil will take place.

As a child, my family never went to the Triduum services. This was probably a wise idea because no small child could ever hope to sit through the long and solemn services of those three days. Once, when I was in high school, we went to Easter Vigil and afterward, my brothers and I turned to my mother and swore we would never again attend a Mass that was three hours long.*

Now that I'm older, however, the services of the Triduum appeal to me, even if they are long. They remind me of Catholic heritage (if there is such a thing) and I am happy to go to them (provided I don't have to participate in the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday which still creeps me out).

Unfortunately, because I have been sick, I didn't make it to Palm Sunday Mass. However, I will do my best to make it to the Triduum services.

*I now know that in some Protestant denominations, a three-hour service is the norm. A typical Catholic Mass, however, is 45minutes to 1 hour; three hours of church feels excessive to the average Catholic.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

New game plan

After fiddling around with different needles and patterns, I've decided to not do a fair isle pattern for my sockpal sock. I don't like how it looks with the larger needle size and I'm convinced I won't be able to get a complicated pattern done in time. Better to have a simpler pair of socks than a late pair of socks. So, I'm using just the Lorna's Laces yarn and doing the baby cable rib from Sensational Knitted Socks. I'm still working on the guage. Basically, I want to use this one set of circs and I am trying to get the right number of stitches to make the proper sized sock. I worked on it yesterday and last night while watching Pride and Prejudice, the miniseries version (all 5 hours at once--whew!).

So, I know you are all dying to know what I thought of this version of P&P, so I'll tell you. I liked the newer version better. Not just because it's shorter, but because I felt the characters were more real and it was more romantic. Oh and the mother in the miniseries version got on my last nerve. Her voice was too piercing! I know she is supposed to be constantly complaining but the screeching was just too much to handle. In the newer version, the mother has a lower pitched voice which helps, I think. Anyway, I felt that in some ways, the characters were caricatures of themselves. Caroline Bingley, for instance, looked unreal. I blame part of this on the makeup and costuming. This is not to say that I didn't like it at all, I did. By nature of it being longer, it had more of the book in it and I do think that added something to the movie. In the newer version, there's not so much of Wickham, so I don't think you get the best sense of how vile he is and how disturbing the situation is. I thought this version also did a better job of pointing out the real travesty behind Lydia's running off. The newer version made it seem as though the only problem was the ruin of Lydia. But, really, it meant the ruin of the entire family and that the other sisters would have very little chance of marrying well. Also, I liked the miniseries Mr. Bingley better, the newer version made him far too silly.

However, the newer one was less, oh what's the word I'm looking for? The houses were quite dark at night, as it would have been. The Bennett girls are not going around in immaculate dresses all the time. The farm is a real farm. It gives you a better sense of the difference between the Bennetts and the Bingleys or the Darcys.

Of course, Colin Firth was to die for, though I do like him better with shorter hair ala Bridget Jones (also, I can't figure out what was so amazing about him swimming in the lake that Bridget and her pals were playing it over and over again in the 2nd book--which of course doesn't show up in the movie for obvious reasons; I always thought it was amusing that they got him to play Mark Darcy). And he doesn't look nearly as good in sideburns as Matthew Macfadyen. But his features are more handsome. Right, enough of that.

So there you have it. If you want to rent only one version and get the basic gist of the book, I say go for the newer (and shorter) one. If you want to watch something that portrays almost the entirety of the book, then go for the miniseries one. Handsome men abound in both so you're pretty safe with either one if that's what you're looking for. ;)

Friday, April 07, 2006

avian flu

Call the CDC, I think I have the bird flu. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I sure as hell ain't going anywhere for awhile.

Perhaps it's simply a reaction to ripping out my sockapalooza/cirque du socks sock totally and completely last night. There is nothing left. I was in denial. It was so not going to fit on anyone over age 10. The problem is that fair isle is not in the least bit stretchy. I was deluding myself into thinking it would fit my sockpal. I'm not sure it would've fit on my arm. So, it had to go.

I was considering giving up on the fair isle given that I have to send this to my sockpal by the first week in May and because the sock will not be stretchy so I'm terribly worried about it not fitting. But, I decided to try it again. It's going to go faster this time because I'm using larger needles so I will be getting 7 stitches per inch and not the 11 spi that I was getting before. Gotta love the bigger needles.

So, if I can manage to stay awake for awhile today and not be glued to the toilet throwing up as one of my friends did with this latest bug, then I will hopefully make some progress on the sock. It's now been moved to highest priority. I'm even going to take it with me to seminars and stuff. I don't care that I won't be able to concentrate on the seminar so much, the thing has to get done.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm in love...

...with Mr. Darcy from the new Pride and Prejudice. Shhhh! Don't tell my husband, I don't think he'd take it very well even if Mr. Darcy is a fictional character. I've looked at some of the Matthew Macfadyen websites and concluded that I really only like him with longer hair.

I have always loved Pride and Prejudice, ever since I first read it. I realize it's a bit of a stereotype for a woman to love Pride and Prejudice, but I have always had a special affinity for books where the heroine's name is Elizabeth (I forgive them for spelling it wrong, it's not their fault). I always find it much easier to relate to the character if we have the same name. I must've read Little Women (another book with an Elizabeth) a million times and cry everytime.

I've never been one for having crushes on tv/movie personalities. I think I was the only girl my age who was not in love with Mike Seaver from Growing Pains. I could never understand what all the fuss was about. People found it odd, so I would profess a devotion to someone or the other just to keep them from bothering me. Michael J. Fox was a good one. Patrick Swayze was another (sidenote: my advisor is related to Patrick through his mother--no, he hasn't made an appearance in the lab, I'm not even sure they've met). Notice these were older men. I never found teenage boys very appealing, even when I was a teenager.

So, my infatuation with Mr. Darcy comes as something of a surprise to me, but I suspect it has something to do with my love of the book coupled with a handsome actor and the feeling that my husband and Mr. Darcy have a few things in common (a tendency to avoid small-talk, people misunderstanding his lack of conversation for condescension). But, I have to say, I especially like him at the end of the movie when *SPOILER ALERT* he tells Elizabeth he loves her for the second time. I loved this movie so much, I watched it twice in two days, then went out to buy it. I really feel like I could watch him propose to her over and over again.

I have yet to see the mini-series with Colin Firth (who I really adore from Bridget Jones), but it should be arriving from netflix today! Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch it tonight because I have a SnB meeting at my apt. :(

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Daylight Saving is the Root of all Evil

Twice a year I am brought to my knees by a completely unnecessary observance called Daylight Saving. First there is the ridiculousness of the name, there are the same number of daylight hours in a day no matter what you do and there is no way to "save" daylight unless it's by some solar paneled device. Second, my body knows when the sun has come up and really doesn't care what time the clock says.

Some people claim that Daylight Saving was instituted for farmers. This is ridiculous. As I said, the number of daylight hours is the same no matter what you do. Therefore, if a farmer gets up at the crack of dawn in order to get everything done, he's going to continue to do that whether that time is 6am or 7am. As far as I can tell, the real reason is to save energy. And while I applaud our legislators for their dedication to energy conservation, I am a bit resentful of the fact that for most normal Americans to get this screwed up in their sleep schedule, they have to travel to Europe. At least they get to be somewhere cool while they are adjusting to a new schedule!

You might think that a change of one hour is so small it can hardly make a difference. That's what I keep saying, too, but my body is just not listening. It seems to think I have subjected it to some sort of cruel and unusual punishment and now all it wants to do is sleep. Yesterday, my eyes were watering with the effort of keeping them open. I am not making that up. Today, I am slightly better, but still groggy and relatively nonfunctional.

So, what does this mean for my knitting? Well, folks, it's just not getting done. According to my schedule, I'm supposed to be done with my first sock for sockapalooza/cirque du socks and I'm starting to think this is very wishful thinking. I did manage to get the heel done last night. I like to do a wrapped short row heel instead of a heel flap + gusset (the link is to a toe-up sock pattern with a short row heel but I am doing my socks cuff-down--it's exactly the same procedure either way). It just looks nicer to me in the end. I know you'd love to see pictures and one day, I may even have some. Anyhoo, I still have about 8 inches to knit on this sock and with the way my body has been trying to make me sleep all the time, I'm not sure I'm going to get there by Sunday. We shall see.