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Archive for July, 2008

Pesky Presentations

July 24th, 2008 3 comments

I had them complete. The two presentations for the FHP in August. I wasn’t thrilled, but they were acceptable. In some ways I haven’t left Harvard Graphics. Simple, clear and bullets.

Then I made the mistake of reading Simon Wheatley’s note on Great Presentations. Which led me to Lessing, with this excellent presesntation on the subject of Free Culture which fits right into yesterday’s thoughts. It is a bit long, so if you have only a few minutes, listen to the first portion. It is more about the ideas of open code/source placed in the historical context of copyright.

I am tempted to put together lectures solely of photo slides. It would be easy for the presentation on Disaster Prep/Military mission; and photos of RMAS for discussing this liaison position. But what do you think the attitude would be of the PAO/Security people who have to approve all presentations? They would want my notes. What notes? With boring bullets in outline format, it is easy to see the “lesson plan” and as long as it sticks to the abstract, anything close will probably wash. Blah!

This leads me to back around to thinking that the key determinates of a successful presentation are determined by the material (make the presentation suit the material) and knowing your audience (if it is military, the slides have to be in the proper format. Just like a story with a beginning, middle and end. Complete with a ? slide.) Boring.

I need to go find some new jokes.

Other Blogs

Bob was our oldest participant this past weekend at WordCampUK. I am glad he liked the photo.

Jon did a Geeky Picture Quizz for us on Saturday evening. My poor group did fine on the Cats, but not as well on some of the other people. I never knew that the Pac people had names…

Knitting

And then there are socks, Jeannie’s socks to be specific. Have you looked at them? Not your ordinary socks at all.

I am at a halt on the UFO front. I am out of grey yarn for the Walk-in-the-Woods. I have just sleeves to go on the Garter Baby Sweater (to be knit on the Ferry on Sunday) and I am just about to the bind-together on the first sleeve cuff for the Viking. Now, if the yarn had arrived, I would start the shawl for the eldest. Since it hasn’t and I will be away from the mailroom for 3 weeks, I might just change yarns.

Books &

Personal Demon – Kelley Armstrong. Maiden Rock – Mary Logue. In Audio – Time Bomb – Jonathan Kellerman.

Categories: Books & Tapes, computers, Knitting, military Tags:

Who has time?

July 23rd, 2008 4 comments

If you are looking for knitting, I have been distracted.

By a deer in the back garden before six in the morning that could move rather rapidly. Much more so than my ability to get outside with the camera.

Under the tree

Under the tree

taking off

taking off

By setting up SQL & Apache Servers on my laptop.  By noting a new (to me) WordPress Theme – Anvil which I found from Interconnect IT’s blog.  ( Dave has a nice example of it in use. )

And by dealing with the TV Licensing Authority which is having problems getting their minds (?) around the concept of a householder without a TV. They have escalated the tone and quality of their letters. Since I have the same phone number as the previous tenant the telephone harassment will likely begin any day.

BT got it when they called the other week to market their new package:

“We would like to tell you about…., who is your current cable provider?”

“I don’t have one. I don’t have a TV.”

“Oh, well then. Thank you very much for your time.”

And she rang off.

Tying the  concepts together: what I do with my time,  not having a TV, and all those comments we all receive about “I don’t have enough time for that.”

Clay Shirky has an interesting take in his Article Gin, Television, and Social Surplus in which he traces waves of social change and society’s investment of excess time. He does it with a look at critical technologies – gin during the industrial revolution, sitcoms in the later half of the 20th Century (we know where all that excess time went….) and the new social cooperative ventures of the Internet.

And what’s astonished people who were committed to the structure of the previous society, prior to trying to take this surplus and do something interesting, is that they’re discovering that when you offer people the opportunity to produce and to share, they’ll take you up on that offer.

All of us are engaging each other. In the fiber community, besides the thousands and thousand of blogs and websites there is Ravelery. Social networking and cooperation, perhaps at its finest: yarn is being mailed around the world to help someone finish a project; forums cover everything from particular garments, locations and yarns through technology and audiobooks;working relationships are being made that span the globe.

Me? I test and use open source software, listen to podcasts from around the world, cruise blogs, and knit.

Why would I need a TV?

What Now?

July 22nd, 2008 Comments off

My panic on waking this morning receded as soon as I figured out that it was 0515, not 0830. Rotating the alarm clock 90 degrees back to upright really helped…

The rest of the day, presentations, replacing the petrol cap and picking up mail from one of the other officers proved to be cake.

Which ended when the broadband went out.

Categories: computers Tags:

Nightlights

July 21st, 2008 Comments off

My nights are lit by the backwash of computer monitors. Changing patterns reflected off the wall or ceiling entertains while giving reassurance that the screen saver function is working.  Not quite as engaging as an infant entranced by a ceiling fan, but by far better a soporific than counting sheep.

Along time ago, I was compulsive about computer shut down in the evening. All the discussions about burning out monitors and over heating made sense. Then came my foray into OS/2 and a Fido-net BBS. That computer ran continually without problems or reboot for 18 months. The reboot only happened because of an operating system update; again it ran flawlessly.

After that, several years after that, stuck with Windoze, I got frustrated with boot up times and started just leaving my laptops running. It didn’t seem to make a difference in their performance. After all, that blue screen appeared often enough to force a shutdown anyway. 

I now have a MAC. I should probably think about shutting it down in the evenings as the boot up is so rapid it eliminates that excuse. Unlike my various Win laptops, this Power Book is probably going to last more than a couple of years, causing me to rethink the whole – computer as a door stop long before the monitor dies – theory. 

But then my bedroom might not have patterns dancing across the ceiling, leaving only the lights on the router to keep me oriented as to house and country of my current sleeping location.

Audio

A few more Arbiter Chronicles from PRT. I admit, i don’t enjoy them as much on my MP3 player as on the computer where I can easily move the slider and skip all the extra chatter.

Categories: computers Tags:

WordCampUK Day 2

July 20th, 2008 Comments off

I finally can wander from BackPackers to somewhere in the pedestrian zone without any unplanned detours.

Birmingham is not a bad city at all; I am still not used to the idea that stores, big stores and malls are open on Sunday. Too many years of living has definitely damaged my outlook. The Apple Store gave me a UK extension cord for my Mac. That is right, gave me that cord that goes from the transformer box to the wall.  Enabling me to change from my current system of unwieldly 2-prong German plugged into UK three prong.  Didn’t I mention that the three prong Swiss/Italian plug doesn’t fit into any UK adapters?

Overall – I got some major lightbulb knowledge out of the conference. The presentations especially on mobile blogging, ecosystems, plug-ins and subversion were worth the trip up. Some of the more technical sessions were well above my head…

End result? Over the next couple of weeks in my copious <not> spare time, I am going to migrate over both my book site and the family website. As one of the participants asked – what about the kid’s non-pages? Well, since they seem to be able to cope with live journal, perhaps they can handle having a real blog.  (while I get the advantage of running several WordPress branches). 

Along with that, there are some simple structural changes that I can make in my file set up on the server which will make updating and backup a snap.

Interesting Participants

Long enough list for today. More as I have time.
X-Country Trains and South West Train Service are not exactly timely on Sundays. About all I had time to do after getting home was crop a few photos, upload some to Flikr and crash.
Categories: computers, Travel Tags:

WordCamp UK

July 19th, 2008 1 comment

Up the streets, through the train station and out onto the pedestrian zone. Up Cannon Street is the Studio.

the studio


Now add 40-60 individuals with varying levels of geekness and you have a pretty good idea of the crowd sitting comfortably around tables in an upstairs conference room. Laptops on the tables hooked into the conveniently placed power strip under each, I found myself by luck sitting with five other Mac users plus the video/photo’er for the conference. (Down side – Benjamin is from Camberley, near the Jolly Farmer Round-a-bout and he drove. Nothing like finding out that if either of you had been a bit smarter, you could have had a ride.)

The venue is terrific; open, airy and a great coffee maker. Add in a variety of muffins and I was a happy camper. I didn’t even bother with lunch.

Topics today ranged from a run down of some essential plug-ins, SEO (search engine opitimization), through use and responsibility of bloggers vis a vis journalism and use of Word Press as a complete platform, not just as a blog.

An evening detour through the Royal complete with quizes and a bit of music topped off the day.

Now if I just had a clue about all the Twitter jokes …..

Knitting

Back completed on this garter stitch baby jacket and the right front now on the needles.

Baby Garter Jacket

Baby Garter Jacket

Categories: computers, Travel Tags: ,

Watchless

July 18th, 2008 Comments off

Thursday morning was the last time that I saw my watch. It is nothing fancy; a $20US Timex on a well worn velcro band. And that probably explains why it has gone astray. I have been meaning to buy a new band, as soon as I can find one that fits.

Yesterday, functioning in the office wasn’t all that difficult between the Brit Army computer and my own laptop, the time was continually on display. I didn’t start noticing world slippage till evening. Between the Northern latitude and daylight savings time ambient light can be quite deceptive.

Hunger certainly is not a good alternative driver for monitoring the lateness of the evening.

Today it became a completely different issue.  Digging out an alarm clock, I needed to be up early enough to pack. After all, it would not do to be too organized.

After the trip to Keogh, I turned into a civilian at the office. From then on, it was just follow the crowd and see when trains appeared. I might have a schedule, but I was an hour early and didn’t have a clue when it really was.

Reading was a bit of a challenge with a track change, delayed train and sheer luck on finding a seat.

Central Back-Packers is located in an industrial area below the BullRing and quite near the Coach Station. Almost but no quite what you would expect of the area around a Greyhound bus station in the US. Located in a former pub, they have managed to keep their liquor license but only serve those in house.

Backpackers

Backpackers

We had an informal get together planned for Penny Blacks – (not Penny Lane’s, the song which had me walking up and down the Mailbox twice till I spotted the pub)

Knitting

The Candle Flame Shawl is grafted (completed between Ascot and Reading).

I cast on the facing for the first sleeve on the Viking Sweater, taking away all question of UFO. Problem became managing it on dps. when I tried to move to circulars with Magic Loop, it was just not cooperating.

Which left me to cast on for a baby jacket – with the number of people producing additional off-spring I am sure that it will find a home.

Pictures? I have them on the camera, but haven’t conquered the Mac’s editing software….. end of the weekend, I promise!

Military

Turning around, I went back in the house and put on Class As, the proper uniform for the Environmental Health Tech graduation at Keogh Barracks. Between my vague time sense and worry about the traffic pattern generated by the Farnborough Airshow I managed to be 45 minutes early.

I find it quite interesting – the US, like most of its allies, had a relatively short course for training its techs. They are then assigned to work under supervision for yeaars, no one really expects then to know much of anything. The 2LT Environmental Science Officers are usually a new University science grad with a short course turned lose.

In contrast, the Britis have a 2yr. training curriculum which includes extensive academics, an extended supervised internship and a final academic phase (we will not talk about all the exams). The students who are graduating are privates -> corporals. with frankly the knowledge equivalent to most other armies mid-rank captains. But not the Brits, their Environmental Science officers, all of whom spent at least 10-15 years as a techs prior to selection to graduate school and eventual commissioning.

The graduation was a combination of boring speeches, presentations and some well executed ribbing complete with slides on the part of both the faculty and the students followed by a reception.

Arches

Pix to be uploaded at the end of the weekend – see above.

Rental Row

Rental Row


In case you don’t believe me – here is the sign on the entry way -
To Let

To Let

Pressing on

July 17th, 2008 1 comment

If you are on a self-hosted blog, WordPress just released version 2.6. I had been using one of the test trunks for a while and really like the new short cut feature that puts the categories back where I want them on the write page. If I can just get my sidebar unscrewed, I will be a completely happy camper.

When I decided that the sidebars were taking up too much of the page and went back to a single one, some of the widget fields got locked and the save button decided to not work anymore. Go figure, it didn’t go away with the update. If you were wondering why I had so much stuff down at the bottom, you now have your answer.

Also in that vein – I am headed to Birmingham tomorrow for WordCampUK. Maybe one of the smart coders there can help me figure it out

Candle Flame Scarf

This is where I am with seven repeats and and maybe 10 meters of yarn remaining.

Completed two halves

Completed two halves

the catch is, I am not quite sure that I don’t like the reverse side better than what is supposed to be the right side.

Reverse Side Flames

Reverse Side Flames

the proper front side on top

the proper front side on top

UFO Update

I went ahead and unraveled the seed stitch from the sides of the Sakiori Vest.

edging unraveled

edging unraveled

There isn’t enough yarn to do complete it. Of course, once I had frogged both sides I could take a good look at the yarn. I think I just might have a couple more knurls of the source roving hiding in an upper cupboard in Germany. Since I will be back home one night next weekend, rather than look for an alternative maybe I will just be able to spin some more. The vest really doesn’t work without the underarm panels and I don’t have enough on hand to even finish the neck, let alone the sides.

I have only 16 rows to go on the back of the Walk-in-the-Woods. There is obviously enough of the reds to finish, but I am rapidly running out of gray yarn. Hopefully I have some more tucked away some where, otherwise, I am going to have to frog the completed front in order for the two to match. Ugh.

Back almost completed

Back almost completed

Podiobooks

Double Share – completed. Very satisfactory ending. Now to load the rest of 7th Son (books 1 & 2) onto the MP3 player for my trip.

Head coverings

July 16th, 2008 6 comments

Leslie has written a great post on head coverings, traditions and the “to snood or not to snood” question. If you are not Jewish, I suspect it would have little relevance to you, except for her excellent research and photo documentation.

But then I have to wonder where the tradition of women covering their heads in Catholic Churches originated. I suspect it might also come from Micah (6:8) as part of the “but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly” showing the spread of oral traditional along many cultural lines.

Me? As a lose member not aligned with much of anything outside of our military Reformadox community in Heidelberg I feel free to accept or reject those traditions which make sense to me. When someone else has done the research, it is even better. I can see covering my head as a sign of respect. I can’t accept it on the basis of it being a problem to the men around me (hello? if I have to be responsible for myself, so can they. It flies in the face of the Judaic tradition of personal responsibility).

I like kippahs, and playing around with different patterns to make designs while using up a lot of leftover sock yarn.

Slip Star Kippah

Slip Star Kippah

Podiobooks

7th Son – Descent by JC Hutchins. Partway through, and other than a couple of technical errors on VIP procedures, it is interesting and certainly well written. (never mind that without the errors the plot could not move forward).

Audiobookstand has some great deals right now, and free shipping…. (no affliation, yada, yada).

Going on forever

July 15th, 2008 1 comment

There is a point in many projects where you think you have been knitting forever. Furthermore, the end of the knitting will never, ever happen.

Sitting here with both halves of the candle flame scarf, I was trying to convince myself that I was over half way done. I can’t tell. One half has five repeats completed, the other six. At 36 rows per repeat, that is 396 rows.

When I got totally insane, I knit another few rows on the Walk in the Woods…at this rate, I just might finish them both this year.

Books

The sunshine then called me and I sat outside reading Endless Blue – a complete departure from the type of story that Wen Spencer has previously penned. Tinker might possibly be SciFi – but the Uriah Oregon series is great Urban Fantasy that contains absolutely no romance between ancient vampires and the young, blond and stupid.

Podiobooks

Working my way through Double Share as Nathan Lowell posts new episodes. Perhaps it would be better if I had the discipline to wait till they were all posted, but hey, not me.

Categories: Knitting Tags:

Symmetry

July 14th, 2008 Comments off

On a Monday, I might be able to talk about all the work I had accomplished over the weekend.

That is if I had really accomplished anything. My husband apparently survived turning 60 and now just has to get through a major birthday bash being held on the 19th.

I still have to finish up an exam, two presentations and a number of emails. So, shall we just skip all of that and move onto a decent loaf of bread?

Tomato Chutney Herb Bread

Tomato Chutney Herb Bread

the beads on the shawl?

Blocking shows the pattern nicely

Blocking shows the pattern nicely

and a glint of silver beads on the edge

and a glint of silver beads on the edge

and my sudden realization that the Candle Flame Scarf was directional? Now why would this be a surprise? Candle flames burn up. If I knit the shawl in one piece, then one end has the flames going down. I thought about it. I thought about how it would look, and I didn’t like it at all.

Stopping with five repeats done on one side, I cast on a new starting edge and proceeded with my plan to knit both halves from the bottom up and graft them together in the middle. Leaving aside the wonderful challenge of knitting from both the inside and the outside of the ball – I comforted myself

Podiobooks

with the next five episodes of Double Share from the Solar Clipper Universe.

Books &

And also read Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb, borrowed from the library. I originally read a number of novels by her years ago when she was writing under the name Megan Lindholm. Her 1986 novel – Wizard of the Pigeons – is a most excellent urban fantasy. If you want to find a copy, I strongly recommend looking at the UK stores, much cheaper than the US booksellers.

Squirrel Bread

July 13th, 2008 Comments off

At first I thought it was my baking techniques that resulted in this 10 cm tall loaf that was dense and thick as a brick. Or maybe I could blame the new bread machine.

So I tried it again, faithfully following the directions as far as order and amount of ingredients.

It didn’t make a difference. The second loaf clearly resembled the first, complete with moist, dense, chewy center and the pleasantness of dining on horse pellets. Toasted was only marginally better.

Was it my fault? The third time rather than taking out the bag of mix, I carefully measured and added each ingredient. Only variation was throwing in some parsley, oregano and tarragon. Completely bland white bread is beyond me. Oh, and I tossed in an egg.

Worked wonderfully, a lovely sweet smelling loaf of bread which I gave to Beverley before we headed to a computer sales fair in Bracknell.

It was somewhere along the drive while I was explaining the challenge that I tumbled to the realization that none of it was my fault. The mix contained everything, including the yeast. Since it didn’t seem to rise at all, there was obviously an issue with the yeast in the mix. The package says to keep in the fridge once opened. Ok, and I opened it yesterday.

Meanwhile, the sunflower seed bread brick was really appealing to the squirrels.

Categories: bread Tags:

An Army Nurse

July 12th, 2008 3 comments

On 7 July, Stephie had her 45th birthday in San Antonio, managing to spend time with family and friends. She was also saying her good-byes. On the 9th she died after more than a four year battle with ovarian cancer. Medically retired last year with 18 years in service, Stephanie had survived numerous deployments, a severe head injury and an intermittently less than competent medical system.

There are those in life who seem to sail along, never touched by anything: those for whom everything in life always works out. Stephie was not one of those people. Her sardonic sense of humor and ability to face pain, the absurd, and idiot army leadership weren’t matched by anyone that I know. She overcame everything in her path by hard work and sheer determination. She was never an eager warrior, but she always did her job and did it well understanding that the welfare of patients under her care as a nurse anesthetist always came first. I had the honor and pleasure of serving with her, to call her colleague and friend.

She completed at least 4 rounds of chemo, each lasting more than 6 months. She under went multiple surgeries to no avail and an experimental protocol for intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemo which resolved many of her symptoms and gave her a decent quality of life for the last 6 months. Unfortunately her overall tumor burden was too great and she was fighting a long slow nutritional war of attrition.

Many friends whose path she had crossed flew in to say their goodbyes in person. Her mother and brothers were able to see her that week as well. She had a strong desire to live and only stopped chemo a few weeks ago, with just enough remaining time for everyone to see her one last time.

Her 45th birthday was on the 7th. Our mutual good friends who were there said she was able to sit up and joke with everyone for almost an hour.

The majority of funds from her estate will be given to a GYN-ONC clinical chair at MD Anderson. Cremated, half of her ashes will be interred at the US National Cemetery in San Antonio , the other half with her father’s in Heidelberg .

Her courage and honor were secondary to no one I know. She is sorely missed by her friends.

Categories: military Tags:

Number 60

July 11th, 2008 3 comments

When you are thirty, what is important is the present. The future is both right now and so distant that it seems inconsequential. Perhaps your perspective stretches out long than when you were a teenager. It might even make it a few months, looking toward the birth of a child. Or perhaps next year or the year after.

But at thirty, it is rare to think of what you are going to to doing, or where you will be at the point that your age doubles. You know that you have an infinite lifetime ahead of you.

Turn around suddenly and those years have just vanished. All that bright and rosey future is now the past. You have triumphed over obstacles, survived the births of your children, moved half way around the world.

Certainly, you are not doing what you planned all those many years ago.

When you turn 40, or perhaps 50, you take stock of your life. Where you have been, where you have yet to go.

60 somehow seems different. Most people can look forward just a few years and see the end of their work lives, plan on retirement, playing with grandchildren. Figuring out how to cope with an aging body and diminished financial resources.

I have to admit, I don’t exactly remember how we celebrated my husband’s 30th birthday, in 1978. I know that we were living in St. Paul Minnesota. His recollection is probably better than mine. I know that he planned a life-time commitment when we married; of our peer group then – all couples are still together. Certainly I think that everyone planned on being around for a long time – certainly another 30 years at a minimum.

Turning sixty is impressive (at least from the point of view of my 57) and he shows no signs of slowing down. I knew few runners when we met; he is still jogging regularly 30 years later. He learned a foreign language, started working in another culture, changed jobs numerous times as the army shifted me around.

I hope I have his grace when I turn sixty in 2010.

-Holly

Putting it off

July 10th, 2008 1 comment

I have been procrastinating. There is only so much that I can accomplish at the office. Much of what currently needs to be done, I must do at home since it involves printing, scanning and emailing. The British Army computer system currently at AMD only talks to itself; it is not connected to the outside world. This is wonderful in terms of computer security, but sucky when it comes to transferring documents.

And then there is the fact that I really should make a list of those things which I absolutely need to get done, just so I don’t miss any. But even the idea of that list is giving me the willies. If I acknowledge everything, it feels like it will be overwhelming. If I don’t make a list, something is going to fall and cost me more than just time and money.

If I group items, the list will be shorter. If I don’t, it will seem like I am making headway as I check them off.

What a dilemma.

So I solved it by driving to RAF Croughton. My putative excuse was needing to fill out paperwork for the new gas program card. And the mail, can not forget the importance of the mail run, especially when it nets lace weight yarn from KnitPicks.

Yarn

Agean Blue Gloss Lace

Agean Blue Gloss Lace

BlueGlass Shimmer

BlueGlass Shimmer

Berry Shimmer

Berry Shimmer

Happy Trails - Gossmer

Happy Trails - Gossmer

Audio Books

Variable Star – Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson. Read by Spider, it is a great story and the perfect blend between the old Heinlein juveniles and Robinson’s own great style. Perfectly safe for public listening, teens and adults (yes, there is mention of sex, no, none of it is described in detail in the script).

Poison Heart – Mary Logue is on the car CD player. It is an excellent choice for driving distances. About relationships, small town Wisconsin, and “how is she going to solve it” rather than “who dun’it” I was entertained but not distracted.

Arbiter Chronicles – Man walks into a bar by the Prometheus Radio Theater. Full cast decent production, quality really decent. There is a whole series of short stories in 3-6 parts available for download.

Mac Attack

July 9th, 2008 2 comments

I did it this past weekend. Converted from a PC to a Mac and am having a wonderful time. MacBook-Pro, lots of memory and a decent size hard drive. Screen bigger than what I needed. I would have gone with the Mac Air, but I know better. Without an internal CD/DvD it means an extra piece of equipment to haul, drop, lose or break. Now, it would be even nice if the lovely thing would agree to hook into the wireless network. It has twice, seemingly almost a random event. I have to get organized and get the Mole on Skype and see if we can figure it out together.

SKP2008

My Rattlesnake Creek socks are done. Knit out of one of the German Sock yarns, they are comfy and the cables do a nice job of drawing in all those excess stitches.

close up of Rattlesnake Creek Socks

close up

SKP2008 - pair 3

completed socks

Shawls

My second Evelyn Clark shawl is complete, only needing blocking.

 Front Side

Front Side

reverse side

reverse side

The beads on the edge (nothing like that last row taking forever) don’t show clearly. I will see what I can do when it is blocked.

The Candle Flame is making progress

  Candle Flame Scarf

And lastly, complete!

Garter Stitch Baby Jacket

Garter Stitch Baby Jacket

knit out of DK weight cotton in alternating stripes of red and blue. I have not a clue where the pattern originated. It would have been nice if I had been able to find the blue to continue the striping up the hood, but I really don’t think it looks all that bad with a solid colour hood.

Podiobooks

I started listening to the Arwen Series byTimothy Callahan. It really isn’t bad, and won’t interfere with driving or knitting. But compared to David Weber’s Honor Harrington or Star Trek:Voyager the main character is quite flat. Some men seem to be able to write good heroines and others should stick to heros. Never the less, I can see it appealing to most who like speculative fiction. The first book is the best, the second has real issues and I am not going to bother with the third. (Please note, I still contribute to all but the absolute worst of the books. After all, if I had purchased them in paperback there would have been a cost).

No Tour

July 8th, 2008 Comments off

As I read blogs (nothing like being completely without Internet access for four days), I keep noticing all the participants in Tour De Fleece. I played last year. This year?

Well, it falls right up there with the Olympics. One has to have a TV to really play along. And I don’t. It isn’t just that it would be a pain to haul the old beater out of the basement in Heidelberg, shove it in the car and drag it along to the UK, but it then mean that I would have to pay the TV tax here, and then pay cable on top of that. I don’t really think that it is worth the = of $500+ for the year to have TV.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in the last five years that I have watched the tube.

DvDs I can watch on my computer. But it seems stupid to sit and spin and pretend I am watching Tour de France. I am keeping up with the standings over the internet and I absolutely adore the route video clip.

So it is back to knitting and the freedom to spend an evening on the computer….

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting Tags:

Over London

July 7th, 2008 Comments off

There is London from the air

Along with

the infamous terminal 5

the infamous terminal 5

A colleague who was PSCing back to the states today took his family in my van to the airport. Smart man, he parked it right at the entry in the first row of long term parking. Worked well for both of us – they got themselves to the airport complete with suitcases and dog and I got home in 35 minutes rather than 90+.

Knitting

There are the SKP2008 round three Rattlesnake Creek socks which occupied part of my time this weekend getting from standing start to the heel of the second sock.

and a couple of repeats more on the Candle Flame Scarf.

Categories: Knitting, socks, Travel Tags:

The Manor

July 6th, 2008 Comments off

After check out this morning, four of us went out as tourists to take a step back in time. Completely self-sufficient, the >700 year history of this holding has included both private and religious ownership. For what should be obvious reasons, I was a bit more interested in the fiber aspects than the plumbing.

Since flash was not allowed, several of the photos are darker than I would really have preferred.

We met the rest of the group at one of the beach clubs for lunch, relaxation and water time for those who wanted a last swim before flying home.

Categories: Travel Tags:

On the water

July 5th, 2008 Comments off

After a lovely buffet breakfast out on the patio, we joined most of the group for a day out on the water. There were a few who elected a short round of golf followed by lunch. Looking at those who were headed to golf, we figured it was the lunch, more than the golf which was appealing (that and a couple of people wanted the afternoon off to go shopping).

A short bus ride and we were at the harbor

At the harbor entrance

From the water, it was easy to spot castles -

Castle over looking the city

Cathedrals -

the Cathedral

and just get a general overview of the city

City of Palmanova

City of Palmanova

Seeing both the old and the new

with both old and new

watch the plane loads of tourists taking off -

Taking off

or admire the boats of those who obviously have more money than they have sense.

City of Ship Masts

The Lady Moura

The Lady Moura

After a hour or so of cruising around, we dropped anchor near one of the promontories,

went swimming in the water and generally lazed about. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones out there.

The rest of the time, I took pictures of most of the group which I promised to send to the office manager. I think she is planning on using them for nefarious purposes.

Dinner at a seaside restaurant featured disco music (I could have done without this), tables with comfortable couches for seating, and a chef who really understood vegetarian cooking while providing the rest of the group with either fish or beast.

Categories: Travel Tags:

No fireworks

July 4th, 2008 Comments off

Much to the disappointment of the Brits with whom I am stationed – I bagged the 4th of July celebration at work (BBQ, Softball and Beer) in favor of the weekend outing with my husband. As a result, I sort of forgot about the holiday completely in favor of checking in at the Zurich airport after an easy S-Bahn ride, waiting around in the Senator Lounge (traveling with a gold frequent flyer has its advantages), and a smooth transition to the hotel.

Hotel Castillo Son Vida

Hotel Castillo Son Vida

Complete with outdoor patio and turret.

Patio

Patio

Tower

Tower

Dinner was served for the group on one of the terraces and it was as entertaining to watch the two solo dads try and round up their off-spring (ages 18 months and 5 years) as talking to most of the adults.

Audio Books

My MP3 player lasted through the plane ride and beyond – South Coast by Nathan Lowell.

Knitting

Candle Flame Shawl out of Wollmiesse provided me with an alternative to the even present socks.

Candle Flame Scarf - Debra Bright

Candle Flame Scarf - Debra Bright

Arches

which tonight are furnished by some of the hotel architecture.

Hotel Ceiling

Hotel Ceiling

and gazing down into the lobby

and gazing down into the lobby

Categories: Arches&Doors, Books & Tapes, Knitting, Travel Tags:

3 Minutes

July 3rd, 2008 1 comment

That is what the sign over the doors claimed at the South Terminal end of the monorail. One minute, 50 seconds to North Terminal.

Every three minutes turned into 45.Every three minutes turned into 45. Heathrow has nothing on Gatwick Airport when the monorail between the Noth and South Terminals decides to break.

Imagine yourself standing there in the crush of several hundred people, all of whom have been waiting and are getting anxious about their flight. Following repeated announcements with soothing words and “any minute now” blandishments, a transporter comes in along the rail and pulls to behind the steel doors. We hear pings, we hear grinding. Two minutes later, it happily pulls out on the way back to North Terminal.

You didn’t hear me say anything about the doors opening, now did you?

Most large airports no longer have a convenient way to walk between their far flung terminals. In the case of Gatwick, there are only two choices – one along a four lane highway without a sidewalk and the other along the tarmac where you can go only with an airport employee pass. It wasn’t the distance to walk, there was just no way to do it.

The airport personnel arranged buses as fast as they could. Unlike Frankfurt which regularly runs both, Gatwick doesn’t have a bus option unless you want to sneak onto the parking bus. The line for the bus was filling up faster than the buses were loading.

I am glad I allowed plenty of time at the airport.

Knitting

I have the first leg finished on the Rattlesnake Creek sock for SKP2008 and started a Candle Flame scarf with the Wollmiese that I have been hording since Fabienne sent it to me last year.

No pictures today, I am using my DH’s computer. I like duty free shops, no tax plus the rebate plus the sale Canon is sponsoring actually gave me an affordable price on a new camera lens. Almost made up for the fact that my MP3 players all were out of juice.

-Holly

Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

What is Real?

July 2nd, 2008 3 comments

In one of those Internet phenomenas, I found my thoughts converging between what I have written in the last couple of days, what Fabienne wrote on Monday and some concepts in the Podibook Beautiful Red by M Dursha Wehm.

I don’t find that real life is all that different between those I physically meet and those with whom I maintain an email/blog/phone link. But there are some major changes in how this community is defined for me. That difference I think relates to my age.

In my professional life, I have long been connected by phone with colleagues who I never met face to face. In 1986 when my organization added email capability, this extended to electronic communications. It was only with the advent of USENET and the early Fidob BBSs that this connection passed from the professional domain into the private where I could connect with essentially total strangers with whom I had common interests.

It takes a longer time to grow true friendships in the electronic environment than in a physical world in my opinion. Words can be deceiving and the lack of body language makes checking the veracity of our correspondent a bit trickier. For as many stories of finding soul mates and boon companions, there are balancing horror stories of fraud and deceit.

Sociologically, we haven’t kept up with labels, names or words that describe our new relationships, instead focusing more on what is real and virtual.. To say that we don’t need them begs the question. Definitions lead to common understanding and communications. In the knitting world – there is an understanding when someone says lace weight, fingering or bulky yarn for a project. A podcast is not the same as a YouTube Video.

What do you think? Should we work out words that fill those social gaps between “friend” and “acquaintance” in line with the old penpal which was a clear description of both relationship and method? English to start? Or perhaps to co-opt words from French, German, Hebrew or whatever to fill in those gaps? The fiber community has not been shy about creating and adopting new language (frog, tink, WIP, SIP, UFO). The tech community does it on a daily basis.

SKP2008

Round three was released last night. Since the release time was 1200 in the US, already there are a number of people with theirs completed. I cast on this evening, just completing the cuff of the first sock this evening out of Fortissima Colori.

My printer is out of black ink. I haven’t been able to print the pattern. Will do so in the morning along with my boarding pass and knit on the way to Zurich en route to Majorca.

the last room

The last mess to clean up.
a bit messy

-Holly

Categories: computers, Prose, socks Tags:

Memes

July 1st, 2008 3 comments

Memes have been around long before blogging. Being started, evolving and occasionally dying out, The advent blogging software rapidly spread the Meme phenomena to epidemic proportions. There is even The Daily Meme which provides a variety of entertainment from definitions to ideas.

Most of us participate occasionally, a few frequently. It is a shared social action that ties us together across countries and time zones. Since Ravelry seems to be more about discourse and databasing, I haven’t seen an impact on either the common posting or tag forms of memes and it just may have spread the quiz form that much faster.

You are all familiar with the Quizzes.  Several sites have a wide variety of choices that you take and then are provided HTML code to post to your own site. Most include a cute graphic describing you as a jelly donut or a cheesecake, or perhaps you checked to see if you were cotton, linen or wool.  The blogging effect is to increase traffic primarily to the quiz source and providing you content on a boring day.

The next group are the common or theme postings: Photo Friday, 365 Days, and the Alphabet are examples of this sort of meme. They draw a group together if it is a time limited meme and increase post reading among the participating members. The Webrings, brought over from static pages day are the only ones likely to increase outside readership.

Finally, there is the rampant meme that spreads with Tag.  The rules are simple – post the rules, leave messages on victim’s blogs to notify them of their tagged status, post your own answers, and link to whomever tagged you. The effect of these memes is to spread themselves to as many blogs as possible while increasing links between blogs, and [one hopes] increased readership as measured by hits or comments. The side effect of several of these is to spread personal information about one’s self. This information has as much potential to decrease readership as it does increase it.

It is obvious if you think about this in epidemiological terms most people actually don’t play. You are all familiar with the grain of rice and the chess board? Or the chain letter? The average meme asks you to tag five other bloggers. That is an R of 5. An infectious disease that has a replication value of 2 can easily become epidemic wrecking disaster on a population. The current models for pandemic influenza are actually in that range.

Now look at memes. What would happen if you actually tagged five people and they all did the meme? How long would it take to get around the world? Be on everyone’s board? How many cycles would it take?  I am sure that someone has done the modeling, maybe Fabienne who knit me the most wonderful socks in Sockapalooza4?

Why am I muttering around about this? I play only rarely.

Why? I find few which fit, are thought provoking or just so silly that I can’t resist. I have been posting architectural bits – Arches/Doors – for Photo Friday since I started blogging.  The following is not silly which means that it might fall into the thought provoking. Maybe. But mostly it might tell you more about me than you already know, a really scary concept.  Tagged by the Yarnarian – I lifted much of Carolyn’s intro to make my life easier:

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Commanding Task Force Med Eagle in Bosnia. Co-located at the Blue Factory with NorMedCoy, we provided the medical support for MND(N) including evac by ground and air, Prev Med, Vet, Dental and Mental Health teams and the Role 3 hospital. Foremost on everyone’s mind was the upcoming 4th of July celebration. Hot topics included such important items as
1) Hanta (the band) and what were they going to play
2) weather
3) food
4) what were the chances of being allowed civilian clothes for the day given the theater dress code allowed for BDUs or PT Uniforms only.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? Sick Parade, update my CV, finish writing up my notes from last week’s meetings, file all the strewn about papers in my office, and work on one of the UFOs.

3. Snacks I enjoy: Carrots, peanut butter, trail mix, diet sodas and herb teas.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: After I got done paying my taxes and the balance on the mortgage, I would grab one of the people in my DHs financial group for advice on avoiding any more tax; set up trusts (family, shul, and some educational institutions), a charitable foundation (hire the Eldest to run it – she has amazing organizational skills) and …….go back to work. I might buy a few toys that I don’t have but my life otherwise for the next three years wouldn’t change a lot.

5. Places I have lived: Minnesota (MPLS, Hopkins, Minnetoka, Chaska, St. Paul); Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Wuerzburg, Kaiserslautern, and Munich Germany; Camp Doha, Kuwait; Camberely UK (the high points including only those places where I was longer than 12 months).

6. Jobs I have had: Datapunch clerk. Night lab tech, strawberry picker, physician (couple of specialities) and 19 duty positions + duty positions with the Army (same employer for the last 27 years. Now how did that happen?)

7. Bloggers: 5 people who I hope are good sports:

Debbie

Kathy

Veronika

Ebony

Cathy-Cate

I realized as I looked at their URLs, that there are two blogspots, two WordPress and a TypePad person. All of them do an amazing amount of knitting but all have different tastes. I covered a couple of continents and several states. (For those of you who are breathing a sigh of relief, I try to spread the joy around!)

Knitting

The pattern is out for SKP2008. It is going to be my knitting this weekend as I head first to Switzerland then on to Majorca. Socks, cameras and the DHs office paying a good portion of the bill. What more could I want?

I decided to knock off the baby jacket first. Since I had to hang out at Croughton this morning, it just was the thing for a waiting room.

(imagine the picture – I will insert it as soon as I free up a USB port for uploading. This laptop only has two, one is tied up with the mouse and the other with the printer.)
Progress on the UFO

Books &

Good Blood by Aaron Elkins &
Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb – both from the library.
on the MP3 is South Coast by Nathan Lowell. Get it from him or Podiobooks

Categories: computers, Prose Tags: ,
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