I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

31 January 2008

21st Century Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist

1. Do you take my insurance?

2. Do you have 24-hour service?

3. Is it easy to transfer my prescriptions?

4. Can you tell me where my pills come from?

(China, you say? Hmmm. I think I'll pass. I've got a great recipe for a mustard poultice I've been wanting to try. Thanks anyway!)

29 January 2008

My Christmas Loot

My Moo order has finally arrived! So I can now record for posterity my Christmas loot. Back before Christmas, Trixie emailed all my relatives and told them that she knew I would love a Williams Sonoma gift card for Christmas, so did anyone want to pitch in for one? (I knew nothing about this, and I was touched by my baby putting all this together on her own -- that was actually the Christmas gift part for the mom in me). She got such a great response that instead of tying me down to one retailer, she gave me the collected offerings in a card and told me I should just buy whatever I wanted with the cold, hard, cash (this was a wise suggestion from the Consort). The deal was, I had to spend it all by my birthday (January 17), so that it wouldn't just fade away into regular purchases.

The first thing I did was get a chicken pitcher. I first came across this at a local Italian restaurant. If you chose the 2-person prix fixe menu, it came with a "chicken-pitcher" of wine. Chicken pitcher? Yep, chicken pitcher. They are a traditional Italian pottery, and come with a story of attempted betrayal. I could have purchased this at Williams Sonoma, but the restaurant was selling them, too, so I went with the local merchant.

Then, because I'd really like to start baking sourdough, I bought one of those wicker brotforms (later in the week, we'll see if mine turn out as lovely as the ones in that link!). I'm taking advantage of the fact that we live right by the headquarters of King Arthur Flour this year -- so again, a local purchase rather than a Williams Sonoma one!

In the fall, I learned about postcrossing from Marsha. It's an international postcard exchange project, and it's been a lot of fun participating. I bought a pack of New Hampshire themed postcards to use, and I was almost out. So I decided to order Moo postcards made from some of the photos I've taken during our summer and fall escapades. (Nope, not local -- they're based in England.)

I also bought the Jake Shimabukuro CD from iTunes. Have you heard of him? He's a ukulele player from Hawai'i (of course) who has revolutionized the instrument. No longer just for Don Ho-style "Tiny Bubbles", we can now hear ukulele versions of things like While My Guitar Gently Weeps (blows your mind!), Ave Maria (glorious!), and, believe it or not, the Star Spangled Banner. Really. (So I guess you don't have to believe it or not, 'cause I just told you.)

And lastly, do you notice that skein of yarn in the bread basket? Yep, I bought some more sock yarn. I made a shawl with Noro (a Japanese yarn) a couple of years ago, and they've just come out with a sock yarn. The colors are, ummm, pretty vibrant, but I figure, if you're making hand-knit socks they might as well be visible! Another local purchase (in the sense that I bought it from a local shop -- but Noro itself is pretty distant!).

So, for those of you who participated in this Christmas gift, I say: Thank you! I'm very pleased with the things I chose with your cold, hard, cash. ;-)

28 January 2008

FO: Monkey Socks

Can you believe it? I'm blogging a finished knitting project!

I've had this yarn with me since late last spring. I loved the orange colorway, and I enjoyed knitting with Trekking sock yarn before, so I bought it without a moment's hesitation. Then I got busy with the move to New Hampshire. And I didn't really have a pattern I wanted to use. And I got sidetracked by other projects. So the ball of yarn was tossed in the back of the one knitting/sewing drawer I have here.

Over Christmas break, I had a hankering to start a sock project. Perhaps because I had put the KnitPicks sock sampler on my Christmas list. (I won't post a link because they've discontinued it, but it was an assortment of sock yarns, enough to make 6 pairs, that you could get in warm colors, cool colors, or neutrals. I said on my list I'd be happy with either the oranges/reds or blues/greens, but not the browns/blacks.) I was the one thing I was absolutely positive I'd be getting, seeing as it was a quick and easy gift to get. Surprise of surprises, I didn't get it (no worries, I got lots of other cool stuff!). But because I had expected it, I still had the sock-making urge. I pulled out the ball of Trekking, downloaded the Monkey Sock pattern that was all the rage a year ago ('cause I'm about 13 months behind the times, on average), and started knitting while the rest of the family was busy adventuring in WoW.

Now in the past, I have found that my hand-knit socks are a bit on the loose side. They always ended up too long. This time, I decided I'd make them on the short side, to take the yarn "give" into account. That part worked like a charm. From now on, I won't make a pair bigger than size medium, even though I have a size 9 foot, and Impera has a size 8.5.

Something else I learned, though, is that some projects are made to be completed with circular needles. I'm a dpn* gal when it comes to tubes like socks and mittens. When I walked into my local yarn shop in Iowa a few years ago and said I was interested in learning to knit socks, the owner brought me over to the double-point rack, handed me the Patons Pull Up Your Socks! booklet, and told me to follow the directions word for word, even if it doesn't seem to make sense! I had no idea what she meant until I got to the turning the heel section of a pattern. (If you've ever made socks, you'll know what she meant, too.)

Back to the Monkeys: In many rows, the pattern repeat begins with purls. I remember reading in a Nancy Bush sock book (yes, I read it, but found all the patterns too scary to look at, so I returned the book to the library, post-haste!) that one should never begin a needle with a purl stitch, as we have a tendency to knit purl stitches looser. I stored that fact away, and realized the wisdom of her words when knitting these socks. You can definitely tell where those loose, first-stitch purls are. I would take a picture, but it seems that Impera** must have worn those socks today, as I can't find them in her room.***

Darn flash is way too bright!

For most of the sock, I couldn't switch where the needles began because if it wasn't at a purl stitch, it would be at a yarn-over, which seemed particularly scary to me. (I could very easily see me consistently dropping a stitch when that stitch isn't a real stitch but just a half-loop of yarn. Because sock knitting is supposed to be a multi-tasking endeavor for me -- done while listening to a podcast, or chatting with family -- I couldn't imagine enjoying it for very long if I was constantly dropping stitches and having to count, over and over again.)

In the end, I'm glad I got the Monkeys out of my system. But I don't think I'll make this pattern again. It's OK, but I don't feel like buying a bunch of small circulars, and this pattern really isn't appropriate for knitting in the round with dpns.

And once again, I made a lace pattern with variegated yarn. I wonder how many times I have to tell myself that variegated yarn ends up hiding the lace pattern? I'm hoping three times is the charm. But lace patterns are so fun to knit up. And variegated yarns always catch my eye. We'll just have to see, I suppose. I am an official old dog at this point, you know.

Official specs: Monkey socks from knitty winter 2006, knit with Trekking XXL, color 38.

*double-pointed needles
**Yes, I gave them to Impera. I'll explain why tomorrow.
***Although I realize that with the MOUNTAINS of clothes and random items strewn one-foot thick about her room, it may just be that they are hidden too well for me to find.

23 January 2008

Return to Normality

  • Thank you all for your birthday wishes
  • As Marsha recalled, there are in-laws visiting, and so I decamped to DC for some birthday frivolity this past weekend
  • Hugs from nieces and nephews are wonderful welcomes
  • An evening with the Capitol Steps is a great way to get birthday frivolity started
  • (You really shouldn't miss their Lirty Dies [unfortunately, the one they performed Friday night, with its talk of licking your peader and keeping soap in your hole, is not available online -- but others are!])
  • Even pinko-commies like me will accept and appreciate manicure/pedicures and hour-long massages now and then (when they are gifts from other people)
  • Starting an evening with cosmopolitans at a local pub makes younger sisters chatty
  • Continuing an evening with delicious Indian food, and free wine from the waiter, is never bad
  • Choosing to see a movie filmed with a hand-held camera (a la Blair Witch Project) is not such a good idea after said cosmopolitans and wine.
  • Returning from a trip and seeing two large packages from clients on your desk typically means there won't be much post-frivolity blogging
  • Normal blogging routines will resume next week, I am sure

  • 16 January 2008

    Environmentalists Can Put Together a Slick Video, Too

    The Consort sent me this link today.

    What Are They Waiting For?

    Watch it. You'll laugh. And then you'll feel sick to your stomach.

    Candidates, PAY ATTENTION!

    15 January 2008

    I Knew This Was Going to Happen

    Yeah. I'm expending too much energy at the Daily Photo Diary.

    I am even posting things that rightfully belong here, there. But, they asked! And others have said this much better than me, blog-wise.

    I really want to post here, but I'm trying to get a bunch of work done early this week.

    Because big changes, they are a coming.

    11 January 2008

    Linky Links

    Yeah, let's just ignore that bullet list in the top left. No way a "better" post will be written today. Instead, may I bribe you with these?

  • Quiz: Famous or Unknown Artist? The most interesting part is finding out who the unknown artists are.

  • PLA. At least they're being honest?

  • Video: Taylor Mali's The Impotence of Proofreading. And when you've watched that one, scroll through and watch his others. I wish my high school English teachers had been this cool. But they were all nuns.

  • 10 January 2008

    Dear Dave Melton

    Dear Dave Melton,

    I just read the article about your Domino's franchises in Manhattan. It is so refreshing to read about good management, for a change. And secret to your success? Treating your employees with respect. Seeing them as people, rather than cogs in the wheel of your own enrichment.

    I have not eaten a Domino's pizza for years. You know, the whole religious conservative/homophobic owner thing is a big turnoff for a liberal, leftist, pinko-commie like me. But if I'm ever in Manhattan, I just may make an exception and eat at one of your restaurants.

    Yeah, I'm that impressed.



    09 January 2008

    Yesterday's News: I Am Shocked

    I don't know what to say. That's part of why I didn't post earlier today. It's not at all what I expected to hear here in New Hampshire, and I'm not sure I know how this will affect the future.

    But, life must go on, and so I won't dwell on the weirdness of it.

    It is weird, isn't it? The engagement coming only three months after the big brouhaha of a divorce. Crazy.

    What? Why are you looking so confused?

    I'm talking about Sarkozy's announcement yesterday that he is engaged to supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni.

    What did you think I was talking about?

    But she does have a sexy voice, doesn't she. Click on track no. 3 to listen:

    07 January 2008

    Consumer Goods: Poor Design

    Yesterday, when I got out of the bath, I had a hard time getting enough moisturizer out of the bottle. It had been warning me for a few days (with sputtering) that there soon would be no more moisturizer, but I had ignored it. Which meant that I ended up taking the squirty top off and shaking out what I needed so that the winter dryness wouldn't be too itchy on my skin.

    After drying off, I upended the bottle into a plastic container, so that I might be able to collect enough moisturizer to make it through a day or two, until I had the time to run to the pharmacy.

    This morning, I checked on what gravity had done. I was shocked and awed at the amount of moisturizer left after the bottle implied it was out. Look at this!

    That may not seem like much, so take a look at it next to the original bottle:

    You might notice the sloppy tape job. That's because I didn't think gravity alone did enough, so I cut the bottle open to scoop out every last drop of the moisturizer.

    What does this say? It might say that I am not nearly as frugal as I think I am sometimes. In the past, I've assumed that a day or two of shaking the bottle removes the last little bit of moisturizer. But I like to think that it says many bad things about corporate responsibility. The Vaseline Co. (not just them, of course, it's just that I happened to have Vaseline right now) would love it if you bought new product sooner than you needed to. So they don't put much effort into creating spigots that suck out most of the moisturizer. Should we as consumers really have to go to such shenanigans? No! Says I.

    Hmmm. And this is where I peter out, because that dinnertime glass of wine is hitting me harder than I expected. I know I had all sorts of consumer advocate indignant anger, but it's just *poof!* gone.

    So how about I leave proving this post as an exercise for the reader, okay?

    03 January 2008

    Game Playing at Imperatrix's House

    Snippets occurring during a game of Rhymation the other night. Time is of the essence; the sands are falling!

    Consort: OK. Your character swims too far out in the ocean in World of Warcraft, you have...



    Impera: Right before Frodo tossed the Ring, he did this.

    Imperatrix: Stumble?

    Impera: No.

    Imperatrix: Hesitate?

    Impera: No!

    Imperatrix: Pout?

    Impera: Mom!**


    Impera: Another word for not sharp.

    Imperatrix: Dull!

    Impera:No. ... Let's see... It's also a way to use marijuana.

    Imperatrix: ???

    Imperatrix: ???

    Impera: Mom!***

    * Fatigue. She sees it all the time on screen when having her character swim rather than take the boat between cities, and would mix up the letters as she would try to say the word.

    **I can't remember what this one was. Maybe when the girls get home, I can edit.

    ***Blunt. I have never heard that term. Others, but never that one. What? So, I'm a nerd who doesn't like cigars. Sheesh! And what's up with Health class? I think they are going too far. Having my daughter know these terms so well it's second nature to use them in a family-friendly game. I tell you!

    02 January 2008

    We try to do most of our grocery shopping at the local food co-op. I've noticed a certain type of person three times there, and although I checked with the Consort, he says he hasn't noticed this (although sometimes he can be sort of oblivious, you know, so his not being able to back me up on this means nothing, whatsoever). Perhaps it's because I'm one of those look-in-the-windows people (if it is dark out and you leave your curtains open, I'm looking in -- if you wanted privacy, you should have drawn the drapes!). Looking in car windows is not much different, I suppose.

    This is what I see: an elderly man, sitting in the passenger seat of a car, reading a paperback. The first one I saw was in the fall, so he had the window open. The next two have been in the winter, so the window is up and the car engine is on, to keep them warm, I imagine (those energy wasters!).

    And yes, these are definitely different men, not the same one three times.

    In talking it over with the Consort, I've decided that what probably happened was this: One man was dragged by his partner to run errands ("You need the fresh air!"). He knew he wouldn't win the argument and be able to just stay home, so he agreed to come along. But! He refused to leave the car when they reached the grocery store. "I'll just stay here and read my book, which I just so happened to have brought with me," he'd have said. His partner might have argued a bit at first, but no one wants to waste too much time bickering with a stubborn so-and-so, so the driver got out of the car and went ahead with the shopping.

    And this became their habit. A one-couple habit.


    Another retired man, being dragged hither and yon to run errands ("You need the fresh air!"), and cranky from all the chit-chatting that goes along with making the rounds in a small town, happened to glance down into a car as he and his partner made their way through the parking lot into the co-op.

    "Hey!" He'd have said to himself. "That guy is reading a book in the car! That lucky so-and-so! . . . What a genius idea!"

    And the next time he was hauled all over creation -- hearing the same gossip time and again, having to make small talk with people he preferred to ignore -- he would make his stand at the co-op. As his partner turned off the engine, and made sure the shopping list was in hand, he would turn to them and say, "I'll just stay here and read my book, which I just so happened to have brought with me. You go on ahead."