Friday, February 19, 2010
Mens figure skating
posted at 4:51 PM | Permalink | 25 comment(s)
A kind of answer to the article I mentioned yesterday is here, the point being that if jumps are to be the defining action in mens skating, it would be like asking international pianists to play only Chopin instead of excelling in several kinds of playing. Just because human beings can train themselves to do wildly acrobatic stunts on ice doesn't mean that's the only thing they should do or for which they should earn approbation. Any more than a "merely" graceful skater would be sufficient. Skating, like gymnastics, is a mixture of two quite different approaches and it is exactly that juxtaposition which makes it both challenging and interesting.

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Obama, commencement speaker
posted at 8:53 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
Imagine. Wouldn't that be something to remember?! According to a CNN news report, the White House is accepting suggestions for high schools that are working toward Obama's educational goals as indicated in this statement:
Public schools that encourage systemic reform and embrace effective approaches to teaching and learning help prepare America's students to graduate ready for college and a career, and enable them to out-compete any worker, anywhere on the world. . . . This is your opportunity to show me why your school exemplifies the best that our education system has to offer.
Applications are due by the Ides of March and public voting will narrow the field to three, from which the White House and the Education Department will choose the winner. Awesome idea except that schools can't very well be demonstrating effective systemic reform in only the year since Obama took office so it will partly be based on previous performance. And since far too many schools do not do well at creative out-of-the-box learning or developing and encouraging individual strengths and talents, it will be fascinating to see which schools are mentioned, let alone which ones are finalists and which one wins.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010
2-18
posted at 11:50 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
What a shame that there has to be this kind of nonsensical discussion about figure skating and that the silver medalist was such a poor sport that he felt he had to denigrate the gold medalist because - sneer, sneer - he's too artistic and not gung-ho athletic enough to attempt a quadruple jump (although he did seven triples and landed them all smoothly, more smoothly than the silver guy landed most of his doubles, triples and the revered quad), when it's patently self-evident that figure skating is hugely athletic (imagine the strength and endurance required to do axels and triples and doubles and spread-eagles, etc., etc.) as well as artistic (. . . and where on earth does anyone get off suggesting that artistry minimizes athleticism or do they want to make the same argument about gymnastics and synchronized swimming and even, in a way, dressage, because artistic expression in athletics in simply displaying prowess differently than less flat-out but no less actually).

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
2-16
posted at 10:04 PM | Permalink | 3 comment(s)
The twenty-something daughter of one of my friends jetted off yesterday to spend a year in Taiwan teaching English and although of course it's hard for the family to have her half a globe away, and hard for her to be so far away, I'm sure, I'm so glad for her because it will be an exciting adventure as well as fascinating because it's such a different culture and useful because of the people and knowledge of people she will accumulate for whatever she'll decide to do afterwards, as travel and unpredictable experiences almost always are.

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Monday, February 15, 2010
2-15
posted at 11:00 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Bright and sunny pleasant and fun day off in which I got a lot of knitting and neatening done and watched/played Jeopoardy at the laundromat with the two teenage sons of the owner.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010
2-14
posted at 7:45 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I want to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone even though I know it's a greeting card holiday and not "real" the way Thanksgiving is . . . but wait . . . all the holidays that aren't celebrating a specific event are contructs and not anniversaries so what's the fuss all about anyway so I hope everyone has a wonderful loving friendly smiling day.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010
Knitting Olympics redux
posted at 10:53 PM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)
I am happy to hear that Yarn Harlot is hosting its knitting olympics this year (hat tip to The Village Sheep)!

Ravelry is hosting Ravelympics, but in my opinion it's rude for them to set up a competitive game vs. the founder. There is a point of view that says the world can handle more than one but wouldn't it have been far more gracious for Ravelry to work with YH and have a joint enterprise? I mean, other areas of the world don't set up games to compete with the athletic Olympics? They sometimes put on different games but they don't call them olympics and they don't compete. Why didn't Ravelry just joined forces with YH?

Anyway, here's the YH Knitting Olympics form and there's still just time since the opening ceremonies were yesterday. I'll post a photo of the finished project and the medal, when it's done. Happy knitting!!

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Blogs <=> Coffeehouses
posted at 3:19 PM | Permalink | 6 comment(s)
Blog friend Ligneus commented, at a post at blog friend Alan Sullivan's, that
Isn’t it amazing how personal it gets and how close you can feel via the net and blogs to people who are otherwise strangers?
I’ve seen the internet compared to the eighteenth century coffee houses where people would meet to discuss the events and ideas of the time. So we miss the coffee, ambiance and physical presence of our companions, but we have a vastly increased number of people and exchange of ideas, on balance we win I think.
I agree, for one thing, but also am heartened to have an explanation that makes it seem acceptable to enjoy reading and contributing to blogs that are not simply rants and raves. I love the analogy to olden day coffeehouses especially since even modern day coffeehouses are some of my favorite places in the world, particularly if there are people willing to ponder, aloud. It's a relief to have a socially and intellectually acceptable reason for liking blogs!!

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2-13
posted at 9:07 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Pleasantly busy and very enjoyable Saturday with some work, some errands, some hanging out with friends, a fantastic conversation with a young reader (we exchanged recommendations for books, including The Phantom Tollbooth and The Mysterious Benedict Society (me to her) and The Book Whisperer and Walk Two Moons (her to me), among others), dinner at a bookstore, browsing through a bunch of books and magazines, wonderful phone calls with t3tccitw, my sister, and a long many-subject conversation with my brother and sister-in-law, and lots of knitting.

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Friday, February 12, 2010
2-12
posted at 11:44 PM | Permalink | 3 comment(s)
Since at the moment there are hardly any subjects of interest other than snow and weather, I want to mention that at this moment, this year, early in 2010, there is visible snow on the ground in all fifty states - even Hawaii which has snow atop two volcanoes - and I think that is awesome although I'm wondering if someone misread something about "global cooling" and thought it said "global cooking" and, in order not to plagerize plagiarize, said "global warming" by mistake. . . .

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Thursday, February 11, 2010
2-11
posted at 11:21 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Alas they charge $15 for 24 hours of wifi in the hotel and they don't have a shorter or hourly fee so I did not log on this morning to begin the day with a diary sentence and it was too busy to do so during the day; the snow was minimal in NYC and north, I am personally happy to say and when I got home after the previous two days in the City, my lovely neighbor had snowblowed my driveway so I needed only to park and go into my house!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
2-10
posted at 11:16 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Spent last night and will again spend tonight at a pleasant boutique hotel in NYC and enjoyed last night and expect to enjoy tonight despite our rooms not being ready for almost an hour after we got there seven hours after check-out and then there being no hair conditioner or mouthwash or free wifi (hand to forehead and deep melodramatic Sarah Bernhardt sigh) - the enjoyment being partly because of the good company for our snow-bound pajama party and partly because dinner was delicious (watercress and light cheese on a turkey burger) and partly because the rooms are spacious and clean and smell nice and the tv worked (although I had to watch in real-time - I miss TiVo!) and the bed was very very comfy indeed....

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Charlie Wilson
posted at 4:33 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I don't mean to make light of it but teasing about it feels better than talking about being annoyed when it's not about me and not very polite to say my reactions matter at all. But I am tired of feeling slapped every few days recently and very sad that another person has died who was a compelling, complex, interesting character, a person who added so much in so many unpredictable ways to various corners and aspects of the world. More to the (self-centered) point, another person who profoundly influenced my awareness that grays are very important to see in people - as opposed to blacks and whites.

Charlie Wilson has died and the world is a quieter and less amusing (read: wild and crazy) and less intriguing (in all the meanings of that word) place as a result.

Charlie Wilson's Peace - Washington Post article, 8/2008

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Birthdays
posted at 11:02 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Bertholdt Brecht and Jimmy Durante would be 112 and 107 today, respectively. A pairing only a very detailed astrologer could love.

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Knitting olympics
posted at 6:39 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
I'd really like to do the knitting olympics this year, as in 2008, but Ravelry co-opted it from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and that seems downright mean so I'm not sure I'll do it. I'm curious as to how that came about since I didn't think the upper echelons of the knitting world were particularly known for back stabbing or anything similarly nefarious and since it's kind of sad actually.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
2-9
posted at 5:45 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Will be spending tonight and tomorrow at nearby hotel on account of the rumored snow emergency and because my firm wants to be sure of a staff to cover the most intense of any needs (we operate 24/7/366 as they say); it certainly is a generous way to assure themselves and give us a treat in the process.

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Blizzard of '10, continued
posted at 9:44 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
There may be quite a snowstorm in the so-called northeast corridor, tonight and tomorrow. My blogger friend, Allan, is well-versed weather aficionado and he says (here), that this storm has the potential to be a real humdinger, possibly adding a foot or more to the DC area and contributing a foot or a foot and a half to NYC. It will be amazing, if true. I'm not sure if the snow managers in DC know how to make those interesting walls of snow that they used to make in Maine and Vermont in the winter. Meanwhile, it looks as if the middle part of the state will again get the least amounts. Funny weather year, this.

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Sudden sleepiness
posted at 8:57 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Do you ever just -poof- go out like a light? I find that, fairly often, after about 15 minutes at my desk in the morning, I could put my head down and go to total sleep. It doesn't happen at home or on the train or in bookstores . . . only at my desk. Since I love and enjoy my work, it's not a question of disliking being there. I can see the screen perfectly well so it isn't a question of eyesight. I get enough sleep to be alert (everywhere else) so it's not sleep deprivation. Also it seems connected to a recent change in the air conditioning/heat which is a bit higher than it used to be (a/k/a warmer) so I wonder if there's something less than ideal in the air. Food helps, too, so I must remember to eat more! (Ha ha, just kidding.)

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Monday, February 8, 2010
2-8
posted at 11:50 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I want to sing the praises of a thoughtful and generous friend of mine who had bought some yarn that she wanted to use for a skirt but she didn't like the way it knitted up - a bit holey and not as pretty as she'd anticipated - so she tried a couple of alternatives (smaller needles, tighter knitting, etc.) but to no satisfactory avail - so, rather than trying to sell it on eBay or Ravelry, she gave it to someone who quite liked it and will enjoy making something with it.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010
2-7
posted at 11:15 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Spent a couple of hours about an hour away from home having a quick bite and afternoon tea and, as always, absolutely loved the vittles but I do have to wonder what they're thinking of with their early hours on a weekend and their unwelcoming and slightly surly attitude about "we're closing soon so the kitchen is closing so let's hurry it up," when you consider that staying in business is, presumably, their goal.

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Birthdays
posted at 11:12 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
It's astonishing that Charles Dickens would be 200 years old today. (And that Jane Austen's first book was published 199 years ago, but it's not her birthday today so she's a subject for some other time.) One does rather hope for some kind of eternal consciousness, in general and personally, of course, but specifically so that people like Dickens know the hugeness of their impact and the many many generations of very different and changing people who have read and enjoyed their work. May we all be living in the best of times even if it occasionally feels like the worst of times - which he would say was appropriately balanced, I think - and may our houses not be bleak yet our expectations always great.

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Blizzard of '10
posted at 11:08 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Where I live there is nothing to show for the Blizzard of '10, not a drop, not a flake. But 300 miles south, round about Washington DC, they got 20-30 inches, hard though it is to imagine. The Washington Post has a terrific slide show of scenes from all over the area. I especially like the shot of M Street in Georgetown....

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Saturday, February 6, 2010
2-6
posted at 7:05 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Thanks to free wifi at a Borders bookstore, I spent the better part of the afternoon with a huge cappuchino and a bagel, doing work remotely on my (new and fantastic) netbook (thank you, Santa), headphones plugged in and listening to the opera streamed on WQXR, and switching off to exchange emails with friends and a relative getting ever-more inches of snow in Maryland (at last count it was over thirty inches, astonishingly); awesome afternoon.

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Friday, February 5, 2010
2-5
posted at 11:50 PM | Permalink | 3 comment(s)
Having majored in philosophy and studied religious philosophy, I must say I find it heartening that Obama is a fan (for want of a better word) of Reinhold Niebuhr, author of the so-called Serenity Prayer, at least according to this CNN article.

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Snow
posted at 11:27 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Hoping the DC/Maryland/Virginia area gets through the deluge of snow (can you have a deluge of snow or only of rain?) without too much anxiety or difficulty. If they really get 30" in places, it will be record-setting which will make it good to have endured but I hope everyone is all right. And how odd is it that in NY we are getting nothing, this time?

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Thursday, February 4, 2010
2-4
posted at 6:47 PM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)
Two dreadful news items, for very different reasons: one, that ten missionaries - if that's really what they are - have been charged with kidnapping Haitian children in the midst of the worst catastrophe that country has ever known and that's saying something in their case - which inevitably makes me wonder if the Haitian government is simply taking advantage of a juicy newsy item (children + orphans + parents *are* alive . . .) to keep itself on the front page or if a group of creepy people were making financial and personal hay out of the situation and operating a child trafficking enterprise cloaked in the almost untouchable cape of religious do-gooders; and two, that the MTA may raise fares despite having duplicate books (not according to rumor but according to a judge's finding) in an economic time when lots of people who need public transportation are out of work or unable to work overtime because it's been cut back and there are few if any raises even of the cost-of-living kind and there was a not-inconsequentially large fare hike only a year ago.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010
2-3
posted at 11:55 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
It's one of those sentence-a-day moments when I don't have a clue what to say but I vowed to do this so I have to say something so I guess I'll mention that I'm enjoying "Little Couple" on TV even though it made me cringe that they even had it on because it seemed exploitive but it turns out that Jen and Bill are interesting and smart enough and compelling enough personalities, that it works in that you completely forget the initial reason for it being a show in the first place and just become involved in what they're doing and thinking.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010
2-2
posted at 10:32 PM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)
The evening train was quite crowded tonight which makes me wonder if the economy is inching back to something approximating where it was in recenet heydeys (sp?) which would be nice considering that the undercrowding made me think a lot of people had quit or been laid off when I think it maybe just mean there was a cutback on overtime.

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Oscars
posted at 9:01 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
The televised ceremony will be on March 7th. The story and headline nominees are here.  Why did they expand the best picture list to 10, I wonder?  And will box office success once again dominate the winners?  And do you think the Oscars should award quality of performance or box office appeal - as in, is it meant to honor the business or the art?

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Monday, February 1, 2010
2-1
posted at 11:03 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
One gripe, one observation; gripe: wheeling bags are absolutely a boon to the health of the people wheeling them along who no longer need to lug pounds and pounds of stuff and hurt their backs and joints . . . but they are a true menace to people trying to walk anywhere nearby; observation: on account of the place that the earth is in its yearly traverse around the sun, the full moon yesterday and today is at its lowest in the sky and therefore is surprisingly and extraordinarily huge, mesmerizing and lovely.

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Good question
posted at 8:56 AM | Permalink | 3 comment(s)
A train friend was musing and thinking out loud. He asked me a question for which I have no better answer than to say that I have observed the same thing. This is the question: why is it that if a relationship starts to sour, it is precisely the personality traits that attracted the two people to each other that make them want to beat their heads on the wall and plead, "Stop!!" This guy's current significant other was charmingly outgoing, smart, chatty, inquisitive, always in motion (his words) but now he reluctantly describes her as pushy, bossy, noisy, nosey and never calms down. It's an intriguing and interesting point partly from seeing opposite nuances of adjectives and partly from the personality and relationship points of view.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010
31
posted at 12:55 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I started doing yoga about four months ago and I love it - it feels fantastic both from a a calming point of view as well as major stretching and a mild workout points of view (my hands and upper body become truly hot during practice, which amazes me because it doesn't seem as if we do anything strenuous enough to work up heat!) - but I'm getting discouraged because I have made no progress at all with a couple of poses (sun salutation - the throw-leg-back part - and tree) and, in fact, feel weaker and less steady in them than I did at the beginning so I'm not sure how to press ahead and not get so discouraged that I stop (which I very much do not want to do).

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Saturday, January 30, 2010
30
posted at 8:58 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Pat Boone is 76 (he'll turn 77 on June 1st) and, although his voice isn't quite as agile and able to hit all the little grace notes as it once was, you can see how startlingly handsome a young man he was partly because he still radiates enourmous charm and a sense of humor about his crazy success and his fortuitous ability to withstand the insanity of the decades that ate and chewed up his main rival, Elvis - and he still wears bright orange jackets and ties!

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Advertising
posted at 8:11 AM | Permalink | 8 comment(s)
Not sure I understand the logic behind accepting the "I didn't have an abortion" ad but rejecting the "gay dating" ad. If "free speech" and "they handed us a check" are the bases for accepting the former, why isn't that the same reason for accepting the latter? It's not as if they're not both subjects that would be difficult for parents to explain to very young children, if very young children in the audience is the concern, but other than that, what's the problem? Many of us don't like all the medical ads - the endless, endless medical ads - but certainly don't expect them to be pulled even if I assembled all kinds of documentation to show that drug companies cause ill health (and plump up their bottom lines) by focusing on illness instead of wellness (not to mention the assault on our personal attempts to stay healthy). The point is that advertising is first and foremost a business transaction: you pay, you run your ad. I guess you can't espouse the overthrow of a government or anarchy or whatever, and shouldn't show truly horrible things, but otherwise, what the heck.

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Friday, January 29, 2010
2 Shakes of a Lamb's Tail
posted at 5:02 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
We were talking about the origins of cliches and wondering where "two shakes of a lamb's tail" came from. This is the most detailed page I found but there may be more esoteric or compendious answers as well. Isn't the internet fun?!

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Books
posted at 12:57 PM | Permalink | 5 comment(s)
What is your considered opinion of - and what is your favorite book by -
J.D. Salinger
Louis Auchincloss
Robert B. Parker
?? I'm re-reviewing lists of their books and will add mine in comments, soon. And, she said wryly and with just a hint of petulance, I find it difficult to think that a kind and generous deity would pull all that energy from the world in one week but perhaps the pickings were getting slim wherever they all are. (Please, no hate mail - I'm trying to be vaguely amusing instead of saccharine or sentimental.)

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29
posted at 12:13 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Observation: my home office / studio is getting out of control as far as stuff that needs shelves and organization but I need to get containers that I can stand to look at, or make shelves in the (very small) closet and I hate taking the time away from doing things I want to do more.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Bye, Tai Shan
posted at 4:44 PM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)

I suppose it would be too much of a (dare I say it?) zoo to bother going, but it might be fun and there is always the panda cam.... Tai Shan is leaving Washington National Zoo and going to China. Read about it here. Seeing a live panda in person is one of the more delightful things ever.

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28
posted at 9:06 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
A short but surprisingly severe snow storm hit parts of NY and CT this morning without any warning or little drizzly snowflakes on the Weather Channel forecast - nothing - and it makes me a little crazy that the omnipresent "they" can assiduously stir up trouble and anxiety for days on end before many storms only to have us get maybe 4 inches and not be buried alive or incapacitated, but then they don't even notice or mention an early morning storm that had enough ice (black as well as visible) to cause dozens of accidents and actually kill at least one motorist.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010
27
posted at 11:15 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Watched the first part of the new PBS "Emma" that was broadcast on Sunday and I have to say that I think it's pretty good, partly because Jonny Miller is refreshingly rude as Knightley (he's usually played too sticky sweet for my taste) and Romola Garai is charming and substantive as Emma (instead of flighty which is often how she's played) and the Los Angeles Times review - while written far more peppily than my note here - says essentially the same thing, I am happy to report.

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Looking for Will
posted at 9:08 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I'm loving In Search of Shakespeare which was originally broadcast on PBS in 2004 (can that be nearly six years ago??) but which was marketed so oddly that I avoided it like the plague. I'm quite enjoying its sense of excitement and fun due to the host/writer Michael Wood having such a good time exploring new documents and figuring out how WS got from the countryside to Lancaster to London…. I recommend it although you do have to put up with a few Shakespearean pompous academics now and then.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
26
posted at 11:03 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I've been knitting a little girl's tank top - in sock yarn so it has some stretchiness, and it's really looking nice - from a pattern a friend designed; the periwinklie color is lovely.

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Monday, January 25, 2010
Yarn blogging
posted at 9:51 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Yarn Harlot has posted her sixth anniversary essay - her posts are often more essays than posts and she's almost always interesting, intriguing, funny and provocative. I wish I could write like her. No wonder her blog morphed into several popular books and she's so popular that posts commonly garner 200-300 comments apiece.

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Rain rain rain
posted at 9:46 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
It's pouring like a deluge in NYC today. If this were snow . . . .

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25
posted at 8:57 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I love doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, which I think I've mentioned before, and I don't want any criticism I ever make of it to suggest any diminishing of my enthusiasm which I'm mentioning because sometimes when I say critical things about things or people I like, some people think I'm saying that I actually do not like them which is very annoying since nuance doesn't seem impossible but apparently requires more nuanced awareness (heh) than I would have thought.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010
24
posted at 11:21 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Store proprietors would do well not to outright lie to customers (assuming they want repeat customers) as in the knitting store owner who replied, "no you can't test our needles" when I asked to try a 16" circular because I wanted to be sure I could work in that small a circumference on a small size (2.5mm) (and was set to buy four if I could) and then, rather than just stand by her pronouncement, added that "our needle packages are all glued shut and I can't open them unless you buy them" except that when I did buy one (I really needed at least one and no other store would have been open by the time I'd have arrived), it turned out - surprise - to have the usual zip-lock closure of the Addi plastic bag seal and was in fact NOT glued.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010
23
posted at 11:07 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I've mentioned it before but it's interesting that TiVo apparently has a few-second delay built in which I discovered because when two tvs in my house, both on the same station, were proved the point, so I decided to experiment tonight and found that at least one show (Red Eye, in this case) has nearly half a minute delay while most are a few seconds - and I wonder where one could find documentation about this.

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Friday, January 22, 2010
No way
posted at 8:56 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
The New York Times will charge for "frequent users" (whatever that means) of their online paper, beginning in early 2011 (read about it here). Given the success (a/k/a failure) of their fee increases in the last few years, measured by the precipitous drop in sales, one wonders what the heck they're thinking. People such as myself want parts of the paper (arts, crosswords, sports, business) but not necessarily the whole paper and some of us have suggested charging for sections. They do offer the puzzles for an annual fee, now. Can you imagine paying forty or fifty dollars just to read it online? (Or is this just me?)

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22
posted at 8:04 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Thought for today: organizing one's home office - even thinking about organizing one's home office - is daunting and overwhelming.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010
21
posted at 11:50 PM | Permalink | 4 comment(s)
I am amazed at how difficult it is to select the right words to convey the myriad of aspects of a personality and that leads me to pose a question to any rare readers (and myself): how would you describe yourself or someone you know well - accurately - with merely three words?

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Parker
posted at 2:04 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Good summary and compilation of tributes, here.

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Mystery books
posted at 1:46 PM | Permalink | 4 comment(s)
The focus of this coming weekend's bookstore visit is pretty much determined now as to what I need to peruse. No problem, since I like mystery stories' tidiness and the sense that you're engaged in a game of hide and go seek where the solution is hiding and you just have to find the right hiding place. Some mysteries are too gory for my apparently wimpy sensitivities, however, even on the printed page, and if events are too harrowing or heart-string-pulling, I cannot deal with it. But that being said, I find them satisfying and almost always more enjoyable than other genres. Here are this year's nominees:

Nominees for Best Novel
The Missing by Tim Gautreaux
The Odds by Kathleen George
The Last Child by John Hart
Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

Nominees for Best First (Mystery) Novel by an American Author
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Nominees for Best Paperback Original (Mystery)
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
Havana Lunar by Robert Arellano
The Lord God Bird by Russell Hill
Body Blows by Marc Strange
The Herring-Seller's Apprentice by L.C. Tyler

Nominees for Best Critical/Biographical
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak
The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret
Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar
The Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent

The winners will be announced on April 29th at a banquet at the Grand Hyatt in NYC. Now *that* could be a fun evening.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
20
posted at 11:58 PM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
It would be amazing if Brown is - really - what he seems, namely, a mixture of points of view, not a tool of either party, not beholden and not indebted, just a regular guy who says what he means and actually does what he said he would do, someone with points of view and a sense of humor and a sense of balance and a sense of fair play.

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Love means never having to say.....
posted at 4:41 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Writers of novels, songs, screenplays and academic tomes all died this week. Three of them. Two men who moved and entertained millions of readers: Robert Parker yesterday and, on Sunday, Eric Segal, and a woman who wrote and sang lush music and poetry, Kate McGarrigle.

I wrote about Parker yesterday and will write more in the near future. He and his characters have been an influence and companions for me and several friends, for years.  Here's a nice piece on him by the proprietor of The Rap Sheet.

Segal, a scholarly classics professor at Yale, author of many books in his field and member of an Oxford college, was also the author of the monumentally popular Love Story and Oliver's Story and, surprising to me, screenwriter of the Beatles' The Yellow Submarine. One of his obituaries called him the progenitor of "bereavement fiction," something with which we are now entirely familiar. He had suffered from Parkinson's for years but refused to be bowed by it or anything else, evidently. At his funeral, his daughter, Francesca, paid him marvelous tribute by saying that "[at] the core of who he was [was] a blind obsessionality that saw him pursue his teaching, his writing, his running and my mother, with just the same tenacity."

Meanwhile, Kate McGarrigle, sister of Anna and one half of the McGarrigle Sisters, and mother of marvelous Rufus Wainwright, died earlier this week as well. She had learned to play the piano from nuns in the small Canadian town where she grew up. Her son's moving tribute is on his website.

A sad week.

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Is it just me?
posted at 9:26 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
The images in "Toddlers and Tiaras" scare me. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise but it seems to me as if the whole enterprise derails childhood by making it almost impossible for a child to be carefree or to understand instinctive preferences and tastes because by essentially artificiality and smoothing-over.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010
19
posted at 10:18 PM | Permalink | 4 comment(s)
As if it isn't enough that we have to absorb the profoundly sad event of Robert Parker's death, a very strange thing happened in politics today when a 57-year assumed fact was upended and one of Massachusetts' senate seats (the one seemingly owned by Democrats because it had been occupied by only two men - Kennedys - in all that time, since Jack defeated Henry Cabot Lodge in 1952 despite the Eisenhower landslide, and passed it on to his brother Ted after he was elected President) will now be held by Scott Brown, a Republican, the completely clear and competely puzzling reasons for which will be debated over cups of coffee and bottles of wine and mugs of beer (since water coolers are presumably long long passé) for days and weeks to come.

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Robert Parker
posted at 5:44 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
NO NO NO! It's wrong and it's years - decades - too early. Robert Parker died this morning. We have lost a friend, a companion, a correspondent, a truly joyous part of our world. How can there be no more get-togethers with Spenser, Susan and Hawk or Jesse or Sunny? And their friends and the people in their lives. It's just wrong. And so sad.

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Maine
posted at 9:18 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)

It's Acadia National Park's 81st anniversary today. Acadia is, bar none, one of the most serene and beautiful places on earth and I only wish I could wiggle my nose and be there to celebrate. Since I can't be there in person, these will have to suffice.

The winter photo by Kurt Repanshek was in National Parks Traveler. The summer photo is mine, looking down from Cadillac Mountain at Frenchman Bay and the three Porcupines.

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Monday, January 18, 2010
P.S. to 18
posted at 11:43 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Since I wouldn't dream of disobeying my conceit of the one-sentence-a-day format, I must write this separately. When I got on the Parkway leaving Chatham, I knew I'd need gas before I got home but I didn't realize it was quite as low as it was. I didn't see a station in town at least in the direction I went (there may be one the other way, of course) and I didn't see any cute little tank icon on any exit sign as I drove along muttering to myself that I'd go to the first one I came to. It was going to be about 40 miles on the highway til I got to my own exit - I was on the Taconic State Parkway (or Takanak, as my GPS's voice pronounces it). And then up popped the dreaded lighted gas tank sign. I looked it up one time and my manual reassuringly says you have 20-30 miles after the light goes on but mile after mile went by and no gas sign or station. It wasn't until around 27 miles from when the light went on that a sign indicating gas at an exit and it nearly made me jump up and down except that it's hard to drive carefully at gas-conserving 55 mph while jumping up and down, if you've ever tried it. Anyway, lovely day despite having to hold my breath so long. And I do wonder what impressively powerful group that cherishes pristine countryside holds so much sway in all those nice towns that there's absolutely no cell reception for almost the whole distance from Clinton to Austerlitz and not one single gas station.

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18
posted at 11:30 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
This was supposedly Blue Monday - the saddest day of the year - (who comes up with these things?) - but I proved it could be anything but. I took a pleasant drive to Chatham, NY and found a positive slew of fantastic charming, hip and fun stores including a terrific yarn and many other things store, The Warm Ewe; Ralph's Cafe whose coffee is delicious and where they make their own chips and even asked if I wanted foam in my coffee and when I said yes enthusiastically offered me a "dry cappuchino" (a/k/a tons of foam) and thereby earned my undying fanship; The Chatham Bookstore that combines small with independent with modern with cool; a store called American Pie with tons of both useful and decorative stuff that will require time to explore further; an awesome pottery store; a bagel store; clothing stores for sports and chic; on and on and on.... and I cannot wait to go back for a whole day instead of couple of hours partly so I can also visit the Old Chatham Sheepherding farm and cheese company.

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Book <--> film
posted at 8:28 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Just finished reading "Up in the Air" by Walter Kirn. It's a profoundly sad story with very little moments of charm or levity to break the unremittingness of the main character's ennui. The only good news is that he is making huge changes as the book ends but, on the other hand, disaster may be about to strike; I suppose it's a little like old-fashioned romantic comedies that leave it up to viewers/readers to decide if the ALmost reunited couple will get back together or be forever separated.

What puzzled me a great deal and sent me researching on the Internet was that one of my favorite reviewers, 5 Second Reviews, had indicated the movie had an interesting and absorbing storyline but one that didn't remotely sound like what took place in all the gazillion endless musings of the characters in the novel. (Did I mention that it's not only unremittingly miserable but also very very very very very very (sorry) long? or that it's all told as an inner monologue and that it's often nearly crushingly nasty and mean, and almost always tedious with only a few few exceptions?)

So I was relieved to read an interview with Walter Kirn himself (here) in which he says that the screenwriters and producers (and Clooney, one assumes) invented some new characters as well as quite substantively different story threads for the movie. Enough so that I kept wondering if there were two books because the one I was reading had only the airplanes and million-mile goal and his job and the tedium of his job in common. In the interview, Kirn says he liked it that Ryan was saved/revived by the moview and I guess I would feel the same about my gone but not forgotten fictional offspring, although why anyone saw chose to bring this miserable guy back to life is beyond me; I have to assume the movie Ryan Bingham is not anywhere near as miserable as his book counterpart. And maybe I'll even like the Reitman character a bit (it would be hard impossible to like him less).

But I'm hard pressed to figure out how it isn't copyright infringement, even with the author's agreement, to use a title and characters but utterly change activities and, in fact, the whole story line. I suppose one could argue that disenchantment and misery are the core point of both and, therefore, that nothing fundamental has really been altered; in that case, why not just recite Sartre's "Being and Nothingness" or any of Nietzsche's books over and over?

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Sunday, January 17, 2010
17
posted at 10:13 PM | Permalink | 8 comment(s)
Another nice tea day with my sister in extraordinarily pleasant places in Tarrytown that have delicious food, nice atmospheres and are cool with people hanging around for a long time (well, except the last one which always makes us feel adolescently amused that our our job seems to be that we annoy them), beginning at Silver Tips Tea Room and moving on to Coffee Labs Roasters around the corner and ending at Lefteris; how lovely to share current thoughts and events in our lives as well as recent and hoped-for achievements, questions, concerns, etc. while downing Earl Grey and jasmine tea along with salmon sandwiches and scones, following it up with cappuchino and topping it all off with red wine, humus and eggplant dip.

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Haitian report
posted at 10:29 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I recommend this blog - he's working with a mission that's been working with Haitian children for the last five years. Reading his hourly reports has the obvious impact of immediacy and is quite compelling.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010
Unusual and grand
posted at 11:16 AM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)
News conference with Obama, Bush and Clinton - amazing images for those of us who live in the conviction that differences can sometimes be set aside in the service of important things. Each patting the others' arms, patting and resting hands on the others' shoulders, smiling at each other. (And Obama didn't even use a teleprompter!) Wait, what's that? ah, I hear . . . oh yes, it's my mother intoning yet again that "God writes straight with crooked lines" and yes, okay, sometimes it is so so true.

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Question
posted at 9:18 AM | Permalink | 3 comment(s)
Isn't it just as ridiculous to assert that the earthquake is a blessing - special love from God for those in the path of the devastation - as to say that it's the devil getting his due in exchange for extricating themselves from French rule?

You can't make up things like this. First there was Pat Robertson's inane commentary and now there's the other extreme (which I heard this morning spoken aloud - I am truly not making this up). One is reminded of being told in elementary school by the nuns that misery and suffering such as childhood leukemia, polio, being beaten by your parents, etc. all show God's special gift to those who suffer. Seriously that's what we were told. Wear a hairshirt and add to your suffering because the more you suffer with grace and sweetness the more God knows you love him and then he'll love you more and will show his love by giving you . . . yup, more suffering.

The fact is that horrible horrible things happen sometimes. It completely s^%&s and it's terrible and it would be great if each bad thing provided impetus to figure out ways of preventing bad things in the future. But I cannot believe it's a devil getting his due or a deity seeing what people can endure so as to give them extra special rewards like testing them further with more bad things nor to give them extra special rewards in heaven.

And why exactly is this kind of thinking different or sillier than suicide bombers who believe they'll gain forty virgins in heaven?

I know there is an intense, vital, passionate urge to explain things but sometimes a cigar an earthquake is just a cigar an earthquake.

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Update on Haiti
posted at 8:16 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Nearly $7 million has so far been raised by the 90999 texting effort. In $10 increments. Amazing.

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16
posted at 7:15 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
The cold that started assaulting me with sneezes on Thursday was survivable yesterday and now has dissipated to be annoying only when I lie down so I must give thanks Coricidin as well as to sleep and and orange ginger tea, and then rejoice because I can do today's work and also enjoy the three-day weekend in ways other than just thrashing around staying in bed and thinking "get over it, get over it."

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Friday, January 15, 2010
15
posted at 11:49 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
Words one rarely says: recent trips on my commute on Metro-North have been quiet and relaxed, more or less on time and only slightly jiggly; I felt I had to mention it.

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Massachusetts
posted at 8:55 AM | Permalink | 1 comment(s)
I have no idea about either candidate's qualifications or merits in general but this article is one helluva scary thing to read and if this is how Martha Coackley thinks and functions, she would not seem to be a good choice. It's really astonishing to me how often simple logic and reason fail to bring people up short in such intense and important situations. I mean, is there real and reliable evidence? If so, why not use it instead of hyperbolic and outrageous statements? Abusers should not be allowed to see the light of day, no one quarrels with that, but what is to be gained by both building and jumping upon a bandwagon?

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Wonderful story
posted at 8:44 AM | Permalink | 4 comment(s)
It's a year later. Hard to believe it's been a whole year since that crazy, frightening, wonderful day. It's so cold this winter and I don't remember that it was this cold - maybe it wasn't and maybe that's partly why they all made it. The captain has proven to be as judicious in his choices of where to lend his name as he was calm and leaderly in the crisis. And none of the passengers or crew has capitalized in a bad way, as far as I know. Now there is another nice twist. Read this and weep - well, I wept because the story is so nearly tragic but is instead miraculous. Best wishes for Laurie and Ben and thanks for them telling their story.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010
14
posted at 11:54 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
The mid-January winter cold got me - not the environmental kind of cold although that's ongoing at the moment - the internal, stuffy head kind that I swear my body demands every year like clockwork right about this time and you can look at my time records if you don't believe me.

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Whew
posted at 11:52 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Appallingly and unkindly and altogether unChristianly, Pat Robertson said some things about the Haiti earthquake that are inexcusable and simply beyond any pale. Amazingly and wonderfully, so-called extremists supposedly on his side of the political fence, among them Michael Savage, have excoriated what he said, and I give them credit for being willing to verbally take a stand outside their obvious boxes.

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Haiti
posted at 6:48 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Many thoughts, many things I'd like to say. Basic point at the moment is that it's ghastly. And the apparently dauntless optimist in me (she surfaces every so often) is thrilled at this partly because I did my 90999 part and it's so incredibly easy and yet, apparently, incredibly effective.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
13
posted at 11:46 PM | Permalink | 2 comment(s)
Procrastination is a tool of the truly gifted.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
12
posted at 11:43 PM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
I suppose it would be really bad, only 12 days into this (a/k/a 3% of the way), to chicken out again and say I can't think of a anything interesting to say but I committed to doing it, so there.

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Monday, January 11, 2010
11
posted at 8:55 AM | Permalink | 0 comment(s)
Too tired to think of anything particularly interesting to say but I committed to doing it, so there.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010
10
posted at 9:35 PM | Permalink | 6 comment(s)
Am reading (well, audio reading which means my female offspring would have me say "reading") Walter Kirn's "Up in the Air" which has been made into a movie starring George Clooney and which seems light-hearted and cheery if you watch the trailers or looked at the cover (which would mean you were judging a book by its cover which I'm sure us good guys would never ever do) but which is a dark and gloomy and nasty story about dark and gloomy and nasty people whose lives are on a dark and gloomy and nasty path to a collision with each other that sure seems as if it's going to make everyone's lives even more dark and gloomy and nasty; I hope I'm wrong; I wish I could stop "reading" but I'm hooked now since I'm halfway through.

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