Sunday, February 28, 2010

All Done!

Here you go! I finished in time, with enough yarn left over to crochet an edging around the neckline if I decide I want it later. Hooray!

I won a shiny Knitting Olympic medal just as the Canadian men's hockey team won their gold in overtime. Congrats, Canada!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Real Live Fresh Homemade Mayonaisse

I swear to you, last night, and you aren't going to believe this, I had honest-to-goodness mayonnaise that someone had MADE. Not a machine, not a conveyor belt, a person with a whisk, oil vinegar, and eggs.

And I don't think it was psychological, because I didn't know right away. That mayonnaise tasted better. It tasted really, really good.

It didn't hurt that I was having dinner with friends (putting me in a good mood to begin with) or that I was eating a BLT that someone had dubbed a "Heart Stopper" on the menu, or that the fancy mayo was accompanied by perfect kettle chips made right there in the little restaurant fresh for us...

That mayo was divine.

I have been known to love various condiments that will lead to my early death for the whole of my life. This is accurate. I will die earlier because I would mainline Devonshire cream, or clotted cream, an English topping (like lemon curd) that tastes amazing on anything. Like your finger. Or a spoon. Or out of the jar, using your finger as a spoon. Or, you could actually slather it on cheesecake with minted strawberries, on perfect bread with raspberry preserves...

I love that kind of thing.

And if I have to give up a vast quantity of my life span in order to enjoy it, I am all for it. If I die young, it will be because I ate my fresh, hand-whisked mayo spread thick on my sandwich (the bread of which had real live grill-marks like the chefs do).

I mean, that was glorious. Just plain glorious. And I think it is a crying shame that I will have to get back in my car and go all the way to Huntington if I want handmade mayo to be back in my life. I mean, shouldn't I live somewhere where I can go on purpose to the cafe down the street where they do that kind of thing? It would be nice...

Although I think it would be unrealistic to expect that kind of thing. We're lucky we have more than one little restaurant that puts forth extra effort.

But don't you notice, through life, that when you have something special, you get a little spoiled. Well, now I'm spoiled. I'm looking forward to more trips to the Brick House Grill...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Fix a Car

When the battery light finally went on, we were halfway to Huntington and well aware of our growing problems. Power steering doesn't just turn off, you know, unless something is really wrong. Plus there was the whole thing with the flashers, and how they didn't so much flash as not. And the temperature gauge being stuck anywhere between beginning red to as-far-red-as-red-can-be really gave us the confidence we needed to soldier on.

What you need to know about me and cars is that, in my life, I have had a lot of break-downs. I have been stranded loads of times, and I've gotten used to it. That's why we have cell phones.

Three-ish years ago, my Dad completely wrecked his car. So, our Car Guy lent us one. We also got a rental from Other Guy's insurance company, which I couldn't drive because I was under 25 and Mom didn't want to have to struggle getting my name on the rental agreement. The lender car was a Ford Taurus, and Mom took the rental up to see her parents, leaving me with that car to drive around.

As I drove, I noticed that the car was strange. I didn't exactly like it. Something was wrong.

I mentioned this to my brother. It was weird, that car. Something wasn't the way it ought to be.

Then, as I drove to Warsaw to pick Dad up from his Guatemala trip, I realized what the problem was.

I had never driven a car that didn't totally, absolutely suck in every conceivable way.

In fact, even cars I have thought were really nice, have turned to crap the second we bought them, because everything we touch turns to crap.

To clarify, I think everything I touch turns to crap, because I have had things happen to cars declared free of engine problems almost from the first moment I start driving them, just because if something has the opportunity to strand me at the side of the road, it will embrace that opportunity, leaving me sitting at a gas station in Warsaw, laughing hysterically because my car doesn't want to start anymore, then calling Dad again and again until he finally picks up, because my car always started again the second I called him to tell him about it.

Strange, how it worked that way.

Jennifer and I were going to Fort Wayne. We were doing this because she needed sock yarn and a long circular needle, because she wanted to get rid of her ladders between the double pointed needles she had been using.

Rachael, we got her Dream in Color Smooshy. Mmm....Dream in Color....

Of course, we got the yarn the following day. Because when we got halfway to Huntington, the magic belt that keeps things running stopped keeping things running, leading to our race back to Wabash, pausing only to let the engine cool down (which would have happened faster had we been able to turn the engine off, but we couldn't because if we had, we so wouldn't ever have gotten the thing started again).

Right as we reached the spot where we could see the Culvers Barn (which Culvers painted a logo on as a kind of barnyard billboard), we had to pull over again. Jen then looked over at me and said, "Is my engine even running anymore?"

The answer, of course, was no.

Poor Jen's Poor Car had died. And I knew the reason why.

Cut to Laura, driving the aforementioned Ford Taurus, on her way to Knit Night in North Manchester, because this was before Laura got her fabulous job (and her own Taurus).

It is dark. This is because it is winter, just like it is now. Laura is driving the Taurus because her own car's lights don't so much light things up. Also, the last time she drove the Honda, this car almost ran her over, which wouldn't have been that big of a deal except for the fact that Laura's mother had been in the car to witness it, and Laura's mother had no idea how often said almost-getting-run-over happened. I mean, a gubernatorial candidate did it. And now he's the governor, cutting crazy money from education.

Suddenly, the lights on the Taurus' console dim dramatically. Laura herself gasps, putting a palm to her forehead. Then she tries to move over, as 16 has begun to curve gently, but she cannot, as the power steering has gone out. Shockingly, various lights begin to go on, from the check engine to the ABS light that Laura still knows nothing about, the temperature gauge begins to rise, rise, rise until it borders on overheating. Laura struggles to turn the car around, then drives 20mph on her way home.

Meanwhile, one of those giant trucks with the four wheels in the back (why even have those? Really. They just would make your car have more trouble on snow and ice, wouldn't they?) begins to tailgate Laura. With its brights on. Laura, now on a cell phone, is relating to her mother what has happened. Then she tells her mother about Truck Guy, who is a total and complete jerk. Laura's flashing lights are on, after all. He should know better.

However, soon after pulling into her driveway, the truck giving two little hoots goodbye, Laura realizes her lights didn't work at all through the entire drive home. Truck Guy had been lighting her way, making sure no one ran into her from behind.

I love Truck Guy.

So when Jen's car began to display the same symptoms, I knew what the problem was. It was the big fancy belt that goes all over inside your engine, the one that makes everything that's supposed to happen happen. This, according to other experts, is the Fan Belt. However, since it now powers much more than just the fan, it has many other names, like the accessory belt or the serpentine belt or the v-belt, according to Wikipedia, where I get all my car facts. Take a peek.

Who even knows about this stuff? I mean, how does a person learn about things like that when there are five or more names for the same belt? That's like calling a book by five titles. That's crazy.

Needless to say, the car didn't get very far after that. The engine wouldn't start again. I mean, would you? Jen called her dad and he came, we feasted on Sun Chips in the meantime as we were both starving (I was really starving and those chips were amazing). Her father came, and cigarette in hand, bent over her engine, tugging on the belt which had totally fallen off due to those tension things being worn out. The belt seemed fine, but it would just have fallen off again if put back on.

Long story short, her car was toast.

We got in Jen's dad's car, went back to her apartment, and went from there to Kokomo. The next morning, Jen's dad and her brother-in-law towed the car back to her apartment and fixed it, just like that. As Jen read the abandoned instructions, she noted that one ought to drain the coolant (I think that was the liquid in question--Jen?), her father replied, "Instructions are for dumb***es," and the two men went on with their work.

And now, "Nellie" is totally fixed. They just fixed it. Like, on their own.

Coming from a family in which a key-ring is utilized to keep the toilet from running (ineffectually), this is insanely cool. They bought the part, they took it home, they ripped off the alternator and the old tension system and then, just like that, they put the car back together the way it was supposed to be, only better.

In my family, sometimes Dad will buy oil at the store and settle down to change the oil in one or all of our cars. When he's finished, he'll track some in, leaving stains on the carpet, and then he won't understand why Mom gets upset--he's doing her a favor! If he hadn't changed the oil, she would have needed to take the car in, after all, to have it serviced.

Then Dad will hand you your keys and report that your car is burning oil.

"No it isn't, Dad," you'll say, and you'll be right. I mean, your oil level doesn't go down, after all.

"It's dripping onto the engine and burning," he replies, and the next time you drive the car, you'll notice he's right. Only, your car didn't do that until he touched it. Then, after 3000 miles of dumping more oil into the oil tank-thing, you get your car actually serviced. Afterward, as you pick it up, you are taken aside by the Car Guy, who tells you that whoever did your oil change the last time didn't so much reattach your oil pan as they ought to have, leading to oil drippage. He then advises you not to go back to the same guy. And because your Car Guy knows your dad and you think this whole experience is hilarious, you tell him your father did it the last time, and the two of you laugh about it.

That's what kind of family I come from.

So imagine my shock when I discover that people I know just fix their cars. All on their own.

It's like magic, only with a toolbox. That is probably the coolest thing I've ever heard of. They don't fix cars as their jobs, they just can. Like, I'm not a chef, but I can cook a mean roast chicken. Or like I'm not a professional reader or TV watcher or knitter, but I do those things constantly and I do them well. They just know how.

I wondered, on our way to Fort Wayne, how a person learned to fix cars. I couldn't imagine someone just signing up for a class and learning all of it. It seemed to me that the people who could fix cars took those classes to learn how to fix them with special computerized equipment. Basic car repair classes are for people like me, who have hardly ever used tools to fix anything, aside from taking off the plastic covering on their dashboards to try and fix their car radios which only work when they put their hand into the tape deck and lift the whole radio assemblage up, which causes some kind of wire to touch as it ought to all along, so both speakers work instead of just part of one.

I did that a bunch of times. Never worked, though. Or, it only worked for a little while and wasn't really worth the effort.

In my world, here is how a person fixes their car:

1. Notice noise.

2. Turn radio up to hide noise.

3. Notice burning smell.

4. Buy air freshener you aren't allergic to.

5. Wait.

6. When car begins to have trouble starting, put a set of jumper cables in the trunk. In fact, keep them there. Also, don't drive beyond Wabash or North Manchester, just in case.

7. When car suddenly blossoms smoke, call Dad and beg for advise. When he tells you to call someone who knows what he's talking about, claim you don't have the number because you know it will take you at least three hours to find it anyway, so you might as well ask for it again before you start searching.

8. Discover car will no longer start.

9. Dial number for car guy, discover number is stored on phone.

10. Hang up in fear, due to the shame of having put off car repair for so long.

11. Car guy picks up car with his towing apparatus, car now gone.

12. Pick car up, paying for repair.

13. Forget car's woes, pretending that car cannot break and therefore you don't have to worry about it doing so ever again.

If I took a car class, it would be full of other people just like me. People who will never really learn to fix their cars, but they will learn where to go to get their car fixed, and maybe where to buy replacement wiper blades. To me, learning to fix a car seems a lot like learning a language, it's best if you start young and grow up around it.

Maybe I'm wrong about that. But I still don't see myself leaning over a car engine and saying the funniest thing I've ever heard a person say about a car, "What the H*** is wrong with this s***?"

And you know, I don't have an answer to that question. I don't think I ever will.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This is your brain off sleep

It's 1:47 a.m., and my normal insomnia has given way to the super-powered brain monster that is now playing out every possible life scenario that could happen for me.

Right now my grandmother is in the hospital, something I found out when I walked in my front door at 10:30-ish, even though Grandma actually entered the hospital at around noon. This would be something my grandfather decided not to mention.

We don't really know what's wrong, just some of the symptoms, and my brain combined with 5+ seasons of House and tons of ER--not to mention all my anatomy and physiology classes (high school and college) have sprung into action, detailing potential diagnoses, potential treatments, and their corresponding prognoses.

In short, this is not a good way to spend your Saturday nigh--morning, and there really isn't much hope of it turning around for me in the sleep department, unless someone were to stop by with some kind of sledge hammer, to knock me out.

To top it all off, I've been watching My So Called Life of late, and let's just say that isn't the show of choice to improve one's outlook and or world view.

On the up-side, Jen's car is fixed, we didn't die at the side of the road, and I've made some actual Ravelympics progress over the last two days. Also, I am sending this post out to all of you via our brand-new DSL, utilizing our wireless router to make it all happen.

Meanwhile, I keep sitting here, listening for the sound of Dad's Irish whistle--his phone's ring tone--so we can know what's happening in a hospital three hours away.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fictional Laura, Meet Real-Life Laura

When I walked upstairs a few days ago, my co-worker Bethany grinned at me from behind the circulation desk in the conspiratorial way that almost always means someone crazy has just walked in or left, and that she has a good story for me.

This time, I was the story.

Apparently, among the many books on our library shelves, Bethany had found one that reminded her of me. In fact, she went so far as to proclaim that she had found me in fiction-form, and that she thought I should take the book the second she was finished to see how similar I was to the narrator.

Whose name happens to be Lauren--Laurie for short.

I was skeptical. I mean, It's easy to think a person is similar to another person (real or fake) when they share almost the same name.

Then one of our student assistants came around the corner. She saw me and her eyes widened, "We found you in book form!" She announced, smiling.

Bethany pulled out the book, Miss Match by Erynn Magnum.

Chick lit. I'm chick lit. I was starting to worry a little. I mean chick lit? Then it occurred to was Christian chick lit.

After that, I got this sinking feeling in my stomach.

Did I come across as (to borrow a phrase from my grandmother) a goody-two-shoes? Did my co-workers see me as Miss Perfect, as a walking advertisement for living biblically? Was I a walking, talking scripture-quoting freak of nature, doomed to live in my happy little zone of impossibility until such a time as I was brought to earth by, like, death?

This was bad.

My brain imminently lept to the lunch line in high school, when Abra (not pronounced like the magic trick, put the stress on the first "a") came up to me with a sneer and said, "Do you know why I hate you, Laura?"

My response was, of course, no. But I didn't say it out loud. Because, clearly, the question was rhetorical. No one walks up to you in the lunch line in the seventh grade to announce their distaste for you unless they're willing to go the extra mile and tell you why you're such a freak of nature.

They assume you don't already know.

"It's because you're such a prep," she said. After that day, which I spent going from friend to friend in order to get myself an accurate definition of the word "prep" and the reason why a person described as such might be considered hate-worthy, I suffered silently through the remainder of seventh grade, until her parents moved or something, causing her to leave our school. For a little while.

Incidentally, did you ever wonder why I wasn't in choir after the first semester in seventh grade? That would be the reason.

Had she been right? Was I a monster? A freak?

Deep breath. Deep, try to keep that burning in your stomach from leaving it for greener pastures, you don't need stomach-acid burns on your liver, I cautioned myself. Wait until she explains. Just because you were traumatized beyond compare during your formative years by many varied and horrible people does not mean that others will join their ranks during adulthood. Remember: Bethany introduced you to Gilmore Girls. Bethany is a Kindred Spirit. In fact, I'm betting she knows what a Kindred Spirit is, because she's probably read Anne of Green Gables. Oh, and if she hasn't, I bet she would love it...I'll have to check.

See what just happened there? The brain thing, where you start with one idea and end up at another, seemingly totally unrelated idea?

Sometimes I'll be walking up the stairs at work, thinking about the conversation I plan on having whomsoever happens to be working the circulation desk when I get to the top, and my brain will say, "Gee, Laura, you'd better tell so-and-so about that thing with the barcode on that patron's card. It's freaking out, but you can't change it downstairs. But they'll need to know which patron. It's a new card, so I bet that patron was just up here getting it. Oh, and they look like Amy Adams from Julie and Julia, only I liked her better in that Disney movie. What was that called? Oh, right. Enchanted. I loved that movie, and it came out the same year as that Neil Gaiman one I loved."

Then I will get to the top of the stairs and announce, "Stardustwas a good movie. Especially parts with the dead princes."

And the person working the desk will say, "What?"

This is because the person working the desk does not live inside my head and was therefore not party to all the stuff going on in there. It's too bad, because my thinking seems kind of linear in here, it just doesn't seem that way from the outside.

I think my friends and relations must either be used to it by now or else know me well enough to understand how my brain skips around, because they don't seem all that confused very often. Rachael does sometimes give me a look like she wonders where certain things I say have come from, but she doesn't stop me talking to ask...

Bethany dropped the book off downstairs for me yesterday and I started reading it. Laurie does the same freakish conversational thing. She also lives at home with no immediate plans to leave, she wears her singleness like a badge, she has a guy best-friend who would qualify as a brother (I have a brother instead), she has a thing for food, she carries a giant backpack because she loathes purses on principle (me too, although having space for my knitting is the real reason I've got a messenger bag instead of a clutch--also for the walking pharmacy), she eats chocolate like there's about to be a shortage of some kind, she skips instead of walking, hops, dances, and although she hasn't gotten there yet, I'm betting she walks around talking to herself in the grocery store aisles.

The only real difference between us would be her rampant desire to hook her friends up with each other. This is because the author of the book clearly based this story on Jane Austen's novel Emma. Which I love. Did I mention I visited Jane Austen's house? And the other one, in Winchester? And the one in Bath? Oh--and her memorial in Winchester Cathedral? And that I have a loner copy of Pride and Prejudice which I hand out to unsuspecting friends so that they are forced to read it?

This brings me to two possible conclusions:

1. The author is as neurotic as her main character, and the book is semi-autobiographical in that it contains heavy amounts of self-mockery for humorous purposes. If this is the case, I think Erynn Magnum (which incidentally would make a fantastic name for an action heroine of some kind, if she was willing to wear black leather) and I, if ever placed into the same room, would laugh so hard that either one or both of us would die. I, of course, would go first due to the asthma that flares up every single time I laugh so hard I cry, which happens more and more now due to my unrestricted access to fast internet and the existence of Fail Blog.

2. The author has, Stranger than Fiction-style, written me. If this option is more accurate than the former, she'd better start writing me a love interest of some kind, or cause me to become wildly famous due to her ability to control my life using only her laptop. She could make me dance by writing it, although it wouldn't take all that much to make the dancing happen, I spent all last night dancing through my house when I found out I could download lectures on Old English (that's Anglo Saxon, for you non-English lit folks) from Oxford University for free, then play them on my iPod in waiting rooms. Of course, whenever I dance, I open my mouth, so I ended up hopping, skipping and twirling around the house looking like a large-mouth bass at Indiana Beach, out looking for the end of an ice cream cone or popcorn dropped in by bored Hoosiers who have, through the course of an afternoon, realized that if there is more than corn in Indiana, it's corn and soybeans, not entertainment.

Either option is freakish enough to compliment my abnormal lifestyle.

You know, the funny thing about the book, which I was so determined to disprove when I got my hands on it, is that now I find myself deeply emotionally invested in the Laurie character, as I have now replaced her with me. Because it's that close. So if she does something stupid or if she gets hurt, I am concerned that I will have a breakdown of some kind, and I was planning on putting the breakdown off until I have better health insurance.

As an added bonus, when Bethany brought the book downstairs, I wasn't at work yet, since it was my later day, and she gave it to the ladies in the Children's Room, telling them "This book is Laura in Fiction form," they responded with this:

"Laura is fiction."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teaching Dad a Lesson.

Yesterday, I called Jennifer and my mother in order to force them to talk me into purchasing a new iPod, something I had already decided to do.

The reason I had to call, aside from my deeply rooted psychological problems, was that I am still not used to having any money at all. I am used to being completely, utterly destitute, and still, every time I notice that I have more than three dollars in my checking account (enough to keep it open), I am surprised and pleased.

And disbelieving.

I mean, who would pay me? Who would hire me? It doesn't make any sense.

But here we are.

After both Jennifer and Mom failed to tell me what I'd wanted them to tell me, which was, "Go buy the iPod, Laura. Just do it," I was forced to push down my self-doubt (which is currently boring a whole through my stomach lining) and stride proudly into Walmart.

Okay, so I scampered. And avoided eye contact. But I did go into Walmart.

Since I have left behind my Green Phase and entered into my Purple Phase, I got the purple one, and now have over twice as much space for music as I did before. And a nifty camera.

I feel special.

Since I have done this, I have no doubt that Apple will release a brand new version of the iPod early next week, just as they did the last time I got one. Such is life.

I mention this to give background, just as I must add that my wool arrived from Simply Socks yesterday. This was a happy thing. Two happy things.

I went home. Dad was still at whatever board meeting happens on Tuesday nights. I can't keep track of these meetings, as they are many, so I just imagine him sitting in a room drinking coffee, which is likely the case anyway.

But when I went home, I was a dutiful daughter, and I chose to set up Dad's iPod instead of mine, and to wait to touch my new fancy wool.

This was difficult.

I had everything under control until Dad came home. He wasn't supposed to come home before ten. He never comes home until ten. It isn't an option for him.

He comes home, looks tired and angry, then goes to sleep. That's the pattern.

What I didn't know was that Tuesday nights had become Spanish class nights, making his arrival at home far earlier than the norm. His mood, however, remained unchanged. This was because he was freaking out about bombing a lab test, something I did often and with pleasure. See, when I was taking Spanish, the lab tests were just a fun way for you to find out how much you sucked. Then you'd find a way to suck less. It was a precursor to the actual test, which you paid attention to. The actual test mattered. The lab test? It was a way for you to answer questions without bothering to remember where the accent marks went. That's what lab tests are for.

Unfortunately, Dad has a different teacher than I did, and from what I can tell, along with changing what textbook the class uses, he made it so that the lab tests mattered. See, if that had been the case when I was still taking Spanish, I wouldn't have skipped all the labs.

Yeah, I had a thing about skipping Spanish lab. It was related to my hatred of sitting in the Lounge, waiting for Spanish lab after choir and band were both over and everyone had gone to their dorms. I didn't have a dorm. Plus, the commuters who stuck around had already gone home. So, I was lonely. And hungry. So I went home. Mostly. Pretty much all the time.

Poor Dad! His Spanish test-score weighed heavily upon him, so he was kind of preoccupied when I told him I'd set his iPod up already.

In order for this image to fully take shape, you should know that I fully and completely had decided to slay six tween-age girls who were loudly laughing and shoving furniture around in the lobby of the library. I didn't. I sent them home. But then, the child that everyone in Wabash hates came in through the door with other children that people don't really like too much either. The former hopped up on the stool we use to sit on since we don't have shelves high enough for us to need to use it to reach high things. Then the child pretended to be surfing (snowboarding?). Then he did a little dance.

It was a good thing that I wasn't the only adult in the children's area just then, because I would have flayed this child so quickly, his age-mates wouldn't have been able to run fast enough to avoid seeing the carnage.

I watch too much Buffy.

When I got home and started playing IT Girl, I decided it wouldn't hurt for me to wind a hank of yarn into a ball. This is Malabrigo Sock, folks. This is like the heroin of yarns. It is the best sock yarn I have ever played with, because there is enough of it for tallish socks with fancy cables and twisted stitches, it is a pretty color, there is no pooling (which is when your varying colors end up not varying at all, leaving you with a big giant blue splotch on one toe or something), and it is also nice to knit with. Oh, and cheaper than two hanks of Koigu KPPPM, which is always a bonus.

What you should know about Malabrigo Sock: It might be just me, but every time I wind this, I end up having to untangle it in some way. It is annoying, and no method seems to make it not tangle. I am also not the only one with this issue, ask Kathy at the Shuttle shop.

What you should know about me: I don't have a swift or a ball winder.

A swift is a device that holds your yarn out. It looks like this. When you have a hank of yarn, it is a giant loop which is then twisted, folded, and allowed to twist around itself. It looks like this. That's actual Malabrigo, so you can see it looking pretty. When winding it, you must untwist it, stretch out the giant loop, snip the threads that tie it in a loop-shape, then find the ends and wind it into a ball.

The swift holds it in its loop for you, eliminating the need for a friendly relative or innocent stranger or even the clueless friend who is gullible enough to be drafted into service. This is why having a fellow knitter in your house is a good thing, you hold their giant yarn loops while they wind them, and they hold yours.

If you have a swift, it is also good to have a ball winder. A ball winder is not so useful without a swift, in my limited experience. This is because if you start wildly turning the little ball winder handle, you aren't keeping any tension, and it tends to become a very freaky, loose ball. It then tangles unpleasantly.

Are all the non-knitters with me? I hope so.

Now, I don't have a swift, nor do I have a ball winder, because if I bought them both it would add up to over a hundred dollars, which is money I would far rather spend on yarn. That's a sweater, and a nice one. I'd rather spend my yarn budget on that.

I also have never had enough yarn in my "stash" to warrant the purchase of a swift and ball winder. This was due to the aforementioned poverty. My stash, at its height, was one extra ball of sock yarn. Those were good times, when there was extra. Usually I just had the one. Then, when I was out, I would use the remnants left behind from various socks to make baby booties, which I would randomly give away at church.

Now I have started getting actual yarn, putting it in bags and bins, but I am nowhere near the level of some people, such as the newly blogging knitwear designer goddess Ann Budd. Take a look at her stash. As you can imagine, yarn companies send her yarn hoping she'll use it to design and they will get a plug. So I'm betting she doesn't buy it all. But Ann isn't where her friend Bonnie is. Did you see all her yarn? That's insane. That's a legendary stash. I wouldn't know what to do with all that. I would have a nervous breakdown. Imagine the fear, the terror of moths you'd have, the phobia of carpet beetles. Rachael can tell you. She understands.

Since I have no swift and no ball winder, I knew I'd be sitting still for a while with the iPod thing and that it was a good opportunity to hand-wind. So I did. I sat and sat and sat, winding the Malabrigo. I did this alone, a feat accomplished by using my knees held at an odd angle to keep the yarn loop stretched enough that it didn't tangle. At least, it didn't tangle until the last 50 yards. The last 50 yards are the most annoying, I find, as that is when you've relaxed enough that you aren't actively preventing the tangling from happening.

This project took a long time. During the midst of it, Dad arrived home, depressed due to Spanish Test issues, and he wanted to sulk. However, when he saw me setting up his iPod, he wanted to learn about it, and he tried.

I was, at that moment, in no mood to teach. I'd put a few CDs of his on it already, he informed me he was sick of those and didn't want them on the iPod. I took them off. Then he was worried that one podcast would eat up all his space. I told him no. I got him the Celtic music podcasts I'd burned for him before, but he kept saying, "Don't I want to have other artists?" and "Have I used up all my money yet?"

No, I replied, because 1. those podcasts are released by this Irish cultural group that holds jam sessions and puts different artists on their podcasts each week and 2. that podcast was totally free. Free Celtic music, which should have been Dad's favorite thing. Except he was tired.

"How do I download music?"

You just did.

"How does it get on the computer?"

It downloads.

"What do I do to put it on my iPod?"

You plug the iPod in.

"How do I charge it?"

You plug the iPod in.

"How do I know what's on it?"

You plug the iPod in.

"What if I get new music?"

You plug the iPod in.

At this point, due to my strategic yarn-winding knee alignment, my posterior was completely numb. As were my legs. And toes. Also, there was alarming amounts of pain shooting up from my sacrum, a happy little bone in your lower back that attaches to your hip bones on either sides, your lumbar vertebrae, and your coccyx. I could no longer feel my coccyx. If it is even still there. When you fall down as much as I do, you begin to wonder if you've ground your coccyx to dust. It could happen.

I then began to subtly tell Dad that I couldn't teach him to use iTunes that evening.

"You're so tired, Dad," I told him. "Why don't I just put what we've got on your iPod, then show you how to use it. That way you can learn to play music on it, and later on I'll show you how to download new stuff."

"Wait, now, how do you do that again?"

I had just synced the iPod.

"This," I said, "Is something I'll show you later."

"I'm kind of tired," he replied. "I'm upset about my test."

"I know," I told him. "That's why I'll show you later."

"What do I have on there? Can you delete songs?"

"You can tomorrow," I explained. "When I teach you how. But you won't want to. Just uncheck it, and it won't be on your iPod anymore."


That was a loaded answer. That was, "Gee, Lor, I don't understand at all, but since you're telling me, it has to be true. However, I will continue to ask you this question repeatedly, eventually forcing you to write me a list of what to do with the iPod and what not to do, which you will fold carefully and put in a desk drawer, then you will ask me the same questions again and again, until I take out the list and shove it back across the table at you, with badly concealed rage."

"We should do it Thursday," he said. "I can learn iPod Thursday."

"You can learn iTunes," I said. "You already learned your iPod. It's in your hand."


"I need to teach you tomorrow," I said finally. "Or Thursday. I don't care. But my legs have gone totally numb, I'm in pain, and I can't let you touch the keyboard because I'm holding yarn that will tangle if I move, and you can't get to the keyboard from there."

"Can I take your yarn?" Paul asked kindly, from across the room.

"It will just tangle, at this point," I told him. "I'm on the last 50 yards."

"Right," he said. "Let me know next time."

I have a good brother.

"Thursday," Dad said. "We'll do it Thursday."

"Good," I told him. He left, right after I shoved the iPod at him. I finished winding my yarn. I set up my new iPod, and I spent the rest of the night getting new music for it, like stuff they've played during figure skating that I didn't have before, in arrangements that I like. Or think I'll like, since 30 seconds isn't a long enough time to judge a 10+ minute concerto.

Thursday. Thursday I will sit with Dad for three or more hours, long after he should have gone to sleep, showing him how to do one thing 10 to 20 times. Then, I will do it again on another day.

It will be just like the time that he called me at work, asking me how to copy and paste something into an e-mail.

"Leave the e-mail open," I said, "Then use your mouse to highlight the part of the website you want to copy, then go through Edit, Copy, then go back to the e-mail and hit paste."


This conversation lasted over 20 minutes. I kept trying to convince him that it would work, but I eventually discovered that he had not only closed the e-mail window, he hadn't even bothered to save it first, resulting in a blind rage on his end of the phone and my getting hung up on, not for the first time, by my own father.

That's cold, man. Real cold.

At that point, judging from the copy/paste incident and my earlier attempts at teaching him to make a slideshow on PowerPoint, I resolved that my years as a computer skills teacher would be at an end. But it wasn't and it won't be. I can never escape. This is because Paul refuses to ever, ever help Dad with a computer due to the screaming matches that would almost certainly result. Also, Dad now knows that I know how to do all these things. He also believes quite firmly that pressing the wrong button on a computer will cause it to crash and to be unfixable, meaning that he should never try anything without the presence of an expert.

He thinks I am an expert.

I solve problems by pressing random buttons until something good happens. Or by asking Rachael. She knows. She's been taught important things by various people over the years, and she remembers them. She's smart that way.

I just keep hitting "Undo" and then, if it doesn't work, I restart the computer. That helps, sometimes. Or I cry, and then try it again, which usually works.

I wonder what would happen if I never taught Dad his iPod...would he ever use it? If it wouldn't end up being tragic for Mom (who got him the iPod Shuffle as a Christmas present), I would check and see...but I want Mom happy. So I'll teach him.

I'll teach him good...

*See translation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grey Skies are Gonna Clear Up...

First I will tell you why "grey" is written "grey" and not "gray" the way your inner spelling whiz insists. Because "grey" should be spelled "grey" and not "gray" because we speak English and not American. I've become fed up with this difference recently and have decided to willfully disobey the rules of Webster's Dictionary in favor of the language of Shakespeare, Austen, various Brontes, and Dickens.

I will also stop correcting myself when I spell "color" "colour". Clearly "colour" is prettier, and it also more accurately represents the way I happen to pronounce it.

Moving on.

I got home last night only to discover that there was an all-out war, which in my family is demonstrated by silence and thinly veiled rage. Why was everyone angry? Because we now have DSL at my house.

Except we don't yet have a router.

This became a problem because Paul set up the DSL yesterday, so naturally he set it up on his computer.

That may seem self-serving, but understand that Paul's computer does not run on steam-power and is therefore the best choice for high-tech stuff. Since we didn't have any high-tech stuff, we decided to use it for DSL.

She pauses for laughter.

What? no laughter. Fine. Be that way.

I thought it was funny...

Dad, being home yesterday (Monday is his day off--yes, you heard "day"), found it horrific that the DSL was working on Paul's computer and not the "family" computer, by which he meant my PC.

See, about a year ago (I think it was longer, actually...almost two years, I think), Mom and Dad's computer crashed in a horrific and emotionally-scarring way. Because it was too much work and stress, or maybe because they didn't want to spend money on a new computer, they didn't replace it. Instead, Mom would come to me and I would boot up my PC and let her use it. Finally, I decided to just let them use the PC until they replaced theirs. But because Mom and Dad then had a computer, one that worked and went on the internet, they haven't ever gotten around to replacing theirs.

This is no real problem for me, as I have created a little profile for them that lets them do all their stuff while my profile is all "locked down" (or password protected).

The issue is that the PC is made of, well, suck. Instead of circuits, it has, like, suck. That's it. So, when you press a button, it has to get processed by the suck to make other stuff happen. This is why I can type two paragraphs before the first word in my sentence appears on the screen. I have become an accurate speller by simply guessing what I've written, since throughout college, I was unable to see what words I typed until I had three pages finished.

Why is the computer made of suck, you ask? Because we had dial-up. And because I got it second-hand.

So, I got all of the problems of the first owners passed down to me, the second owner. And because it came with some stickers and no software to speak of, I can't actually fix any of those problems without Windows XP discs, or an illegal copy of Windows.

Just by typing that, I've ended up on five Microsoft Watch Lists. Don't worry, Bill. My copy is totally legal, and registered to me. I just have no back-up discs for when Windows crashes. Which it will. I don't have to tell you that, now do I?

Should I say it?

Okay, I will...


See? Because of the crashing?

I'm not even a little funny today. It comes from having M.A.S.H. marathons instead of sleep. If you prick me, I now bleed khaki.

No, I'm not going to prove it!

So, when I got home, we were seconds away from Thunderdome. Paul glaring at Dad, Dad glaring at Paul, Mom looking nervously at both of them because she hates conflict even more than Evan Bayh.

Speaking of Evan Bayh, or rather to him: Thanks a lot, buddy. You just totally blew the election for your party, which now hates you. You handed your seat to the Republican party, and as earlier rants have shown, I have very little faith in Indiana's Republican party leadership. Or any Republican party leadership...It comes from the practice of looking for the guy that anyone can look at and say, "I could so totally have a beer with him and talk about guns and tractors." People like people who don't make them feel stupid just by being smart. So they vote for them. This is sad, because you don't want a beer-drinking tractor-talking gun-totin' buddy in your senate seat, you want someone who can put the beer down and get off the tractor, hand his loaded weapon to another man, sit down at a desk and make policy decisions that will determine whether or not your children can actually go to school, or whether they will have to be taught in a shack at the side of the road by one teacher who covers every grade, like what Laura Ingalls had back in the 1800's.

I had a much longer rant, but I got rid of it. It was long and ranty, and I've had that rant here before.

Here is the Cliff's Notes version: I think we need to stop looking for the lowest common denominator when we're electing our country's leaders. We should find candidates way smarter than all of us, they should be absolutely the most intelligent, the wisest person any of us has ever seen. We should accept nothing less.

I'm done now. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. I've been holding on to that rant for well over 24 hours, and that isn't healthy.

Back to Dad and Paul, burning each other with the lasers of rage shooting out of their respective eyes.

I tell you, I was at that computer, my pre-Windows Update computer, for upwards of three hours. We had to install Internet Explorer using DOS just to get on the internet to make the updates we needed. It's no wonder I spent 11 hours on Christmas day trying to download iTunes only to have it fail, we didn't even have the ability to play the add-on that started the download in the first place.

But I got stopped before I finished. By Service Pack 3. See, I'm missing a file, an important one. One that will make Service Pack 3 work, except since I don't have that file, it won't work, leaving me flipping through book after book of out-dated software from five computers ago looking for the start-up discs for Windows XP only to find that, while I have all the little key-stickers that tell me I have Windows XP in a legally-binding kind of way, I so totally don't have the CDs that came with my computer originally, before the office that decided it didn't want my computer because it was a whole year old sold it to me.

This is bad.

It is bad because it means Windows isn't happy. And when Windows ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And by nobody, I mean every other program my computer will every use.

If I picked up a Magic 8-Ball right now and shook it, the little triangle would say, "I see a five-week struggle with Microsoft in your future" or "You are about to eat a lot of Tums, stop sleeping, and still have stabbing pains from your stomach where you probably have an ulcer but you don't really know because you refuse to ask the doctor about it because if you asked him, he would tell you what you don't want to know, which is that you have an ulcer. Then you will have to give up dairy."

I have a headache.

The Magic 8-Ball is right, and not just about my medical prognosis. I will be on the phone with a computer for the rest of my life.

The plus side is, I can now be on the phone with the tech people (or their computers) while I am fixing the problem on my computer without having to pull the keyboard over to the window so I can plaster my face against it to get a cell phone signal while I squint at the monitor and type in commands.

That used to be bad.

Still, we have no router...this is bad. Bad, because it means that we can't use the internet all at the same time until it comes, and bad because we all want to use the computer now, because we can. Paul wants to run raids or dungeons in WOW. Dad wants to listen to people with real talent play the Irish whistle, then listen to them all again. I want to 1. get Dad's Christmas present (and iPod shuffle) working so I (a) can stop feeling bad about being the only one who can set it up and being unable to do so and (b) I can make it so that not all of us have to listen to the aforementioned Irish whistle music, because Dad can download it and play it on his shuffle. But I also 2. Want to play on Ravelry for real, something I have never done, because I could only load it at work and playing on Ravelry while at work is one of those things you don't want to get caught doing too many times and 3. watch all the television shows I could ever want while knitting, like the two episodes of Fringe I missed this season.

Meanwhile, poor Mom, who wouldn't stand up for herself and demand a turn, wants to use Ravelry. I signed her up, but she's never been able to really use it, because she's only ever been near dial-up, because your average PC isn't the kind of thing you can put in a bag and carry to Culvers for Wi-Fi.

Poor Mom.

We have got to get that router, if only because I am only home for a few hours every evening, and they tend to coincide with Paul's peak raiding time and the short span of time that Dad is home and still conscious. I can see only bad things happening, if this wait goes on for much longer.

I also can see only bad things relating to our setting up the router and getting it to work while Dad stands looming over us with The Furrow in his brow at full depth, as if to say, "I don't understand why you two suck at everything you try to do, or why you have to keep doing it and keep sucking at it even when I clearly want you to stop and go away, so I can do what I want to do, far away from either of you, because I disapprove of you strongly at this moment. Very strongly. In fact, I may just stare at you longer, just so you know that every moment I stand here is a favor to you, you sad, sad examples of human beings. If this continues, I will begin to disapprove of you even when you aren't in my way or inconveniencing me, because this is a failure I cannot overlook and will not forget."

The Furrow can say all of those things. In several languages.

We need that router now, faster than I need the yarn I ordered for the Myrtle Cardigan, which I just want because it looked pretty on the internet and I bet it'll look prettier in person if I could only see it for real.

If you read a news article in the coming days telling you about a family whose young son and patriarch were involved in some kind of spree-killing, starting aimlessly and ending with each other, you know it will be about our family. If you read about a seemingly sweet, caring girl would light the people she lives with on fire while they sleep, it will be about our family, and if you read about a Midwestern housewife that got in a car and drove away, only to vanish from the face of the earth, it will be about our family. We will be survived by one angry, hate-filled gluttonous feline and the sweetest little dog that ever lived, so I'm counting on you, my kind friends, to make sure they are cared for with love and kindness. Darcy likes chicken livers cut up in her din-din and those chicken-jerky treats you find at Walmart. Myst likes to eat the eyes of her prey and leave their remains on the back steps. She also likes to smell your eyes, which tells me that if any one of us kicks it, she'll have them out of us in a minute. Just so you know.

I really hope that doesn't happen. Is that the UPS truck? Maybe? Please?

We did finally get YouTube working last night, and I leave you all with the greatest hits of our family, the Fail Blog video that Paul says gives all environmentalists a bad name (Shannon will like this...)

This one that is sure to make those of you who are, shall we say, innocent in any way shape or form to projectile vomit.

You will be scarred for life if you watch this.

It is not for the faint of heart.

James, if the kids are in the room, make them leave. I'm being serious. This is for Mature eyes only. MA for Mature. I mean it. Adult Swim made this.


Those of you who don't think you should see it, skip down to the howling puppy. You want to see Howling Puppy instead. It's cute and no one has their head explode in it. Which is more than I can say for this next video.

Go on, skip to the next one...


Those of you who are still with me are those of you who have brothers, love The Simpsons and watched Eek the Cat as children. You're ready. You have stomachs made of steel, and you think the only thing funnier than cartoon violence is fake blood with live actors. Here we go:

See? Gross, violent, horrible, and Paul and I can't watch it without laughing so hard we cry.

Hey everybody! It's safe to come back now!

Now we have the howling puppy. He speaks for himself, is adorable, and the way his little mouth goes when he howls is so cute you want to adopt his whole litter. Except I bet he's all grown up by now, if he is a he and not a she.

That has to be the single cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Really. And the cute doesn't wear off. You can watch this video thousands of times, and I have.

April said I should watch this one just now, so take a look at the guy singing the puppies to sleep.

Okay. Maybe those two make up for the hideous violence I showed you earlier...

Monday, February 15, 2010

General Laura-Related Updates

Knitting Olympics: I've finished one of the two lace bands that I've got to knit. I did only one because 1. I got tired of knitting the lace of my first band back and forth and back and forth over only nine stitches and 2. so that I could just make some progress already.

And I did. So far I'm half through with the back stockinette portion of my Uhura tank top and 1.5 seasons into M.A.S.H. I found the first two seasons in a bundle for $20.00 at Walmart. A deal too good to pass up, considering that I don't have cable and have only the prospect of people firing weapons while on skis to look forward to during the remaining days of the Olympics and beyond (we have to wait until April for a new Fringe).

I also must ask all of you to focus good energy in Rachael's direction. See, Rachael thinks she might run out of yarn before she runs out of sweater-pattern (Myrtle cardigan). That's a bad thing. We don't want that to happen.

Funny things: Last night I was so tired when Paul came in to stare at my television that I ate my last bite of cookie, and while I was still chewing I walked across my room to put the plate down somewhere out of the way (I was tired--no way I was taking it back to the kitchen), then while still looking at the ground in the general direction of my dresser, I pointed at myself, mimed taking off my shirt, then pointed at the bed. This horrible attempt at charades (for changing into my pajamas and going to sleep) was enough to cause Paul to laugh so hard he started having trouble breathing. Indeed, it was worthy of the Buffy episode "Hush" in which Buffy pantomimes staking something by rapidly moving her fist back and forth, producing a gesture that could be easily misinterpreted as obscene.

Okay, fine. Watch it. Don't mind the subtitles.

See? Obscene. That scene is a great deal funnier when you watch the whole thing, but I couldn't find it. Apparently, Buffy making the staking motion is funnier than Giles' blood-covered stick figures (which is what I thought was funniest). But then, I am a girl.

Paul's laugh was quite good for him, as he'd spent the whole day in a rotten mood. Finally, I demanded that he tell me what his problem was. His response?

"It's Valentine's Day."

So there you go. I had chocolate, so I didn't care what day it was. I've always thought Valentine's Day was a bore. Except for the card-making. That's fun.

In my point of view, buying someone Kroger roses (or even DeBrand's chocolate and Hercule Poirot, vol 1) doesn't show them that you love them any more than you loved them the week before, when you brought home milk on your way back from work because you knew your loved one would have to go out early to get it so they could have coffee the next morning (my parents are so sweet to each other).

Tech problems: Not only did iTunes swallow one song-download whole, when I purchased the song a second time to avoid having to cope with tech support then took the computer to work to see if the internet speed-improvement would help, it swallowed the second copy of the download of Song One along with the copy of Song Two that had been just peachy up to that point.

Laura: 0

Computer Bugs: 50,000,000,000,000

[That's a record of all the times that computers have annoyed or inconvenienced me. It's an approximation.]

So instead of buying a song twice to avoid having to cope with iTunes tech support (it takes usually three days for them to get my issues fixed), I must cope with them regarding three songs and still wait three or more days. My question: why don't they just let you have say...five tries to download a song? You could download it only to the computer you originally downloaded it to or something, but if something happened, you would only need to click "download" and it would do it again? Could that work?

Wait. Of course it would work. That's why they aren't doing it. Life would be too easy if they just, you know, did the logical thing.

I quit. I quit life. Right now. Except for the Knitting Olympics. And work. And the other fun stuff, like books and Italian food. And listening to music on my iPo---crap.

Oh, well. In four to six weeks, I'll have those songs I want.

By then I'll have fast internet. That should happen this Wednesday, if the people really do what they told us they were going to do. But since they just sent us the router so we could go wireless once we have our fancy new DSL modem, it looks like they might actually come through...but I'm still not holding my breath. I've been crushed too many times while waiting for fast internet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dear Rachael,

Note: This is a true story about the perils of yarn fumes in the digital age.

Yesterday, I was bored.

So I went online, Rachael, and I looked at that pretty cardigan you're making for the Knitting Olympics. See, I'm making Uhura, and it's pretty and all, but it involves using the Patons Grace, and therefore my accomplishment will mostly involve me using the yarn and ending up with a finished product instead of me making something alarmingly complicated and time consuming.

But I want to knit something alarmingly complicated and time consuming. Also with long sleeves, so I can make it now. And then wear it.

In short, I was becoming obsessed with your project. Which happens, as we both know. It seems to happen a lot between the two of us, since we have similar body-types and we spend a lot of time together and shop at the same yarn stores. Also I think we look at our friend's activity on Ravelry a lot.

It doesn't matter how I got obsessed, though. What matters is that I am.

Obsessed, that is.

And while I have no intention of doing what we're doing with the Geodesic cardigan, which (for those of you who aren't Rachael) will end with a Stephen King-esque visual of the two of us in matching cardigans knitting and rocking in rocking chairs, looking freakishly alike with our dark hair and knitting needles. And cardigans.

Children will flee before us. Grown men will scream with their overwhelming terror. James, that could be you. Although your scream will sound better than most men would, because you are classically trained.

I do, still, plan on making Myrtle. Someday. So I bought the pattern.

In case you hadn't noticed, I went off on a tangent there involving horror-writings and a touch of horror-movie. I came back, though, when I wrote that last sentence. So, if you were to read the last two paragraphs without the tangent, it would read: "And while I have no intention of doing what we're doing with the Geodesic cardigan, I do, still, plan on making Myrtle." You may notice the alarming number of commas. I know. I like them. Leave me alone.

After I bought the pattern, I was still bored and in possession of a high-speed internet connection, so I started trolling Ravelry looking for yarn.

I love yarn.

I looked at the Louet Gem fingering weight. I looked at your yarn that you're using. It's pretty, Rachael. Really pretty. Then I looked at the yarn that the lady who wrote the pattern used, but I said to myself, "I'd rather not use that same yarn, because I kind of hate that yarn, as it annoyed me once while I was knitting a pair of socks with it," and I moved on. I told myself I wasn't going to use Malabrigo, because there were all these colors of Malabrigo that are many colors, and I wanted a semi-solid.

So I kept looking. Finally, I had kind-of decided on the Louet Gems in Dusty Rose. I figured I could go all out and get cones. Yeah. Cones of yarn.

That was the plan.

I went home. Almost dying several times along the way, and today I went back on the internet, being as bored tonight as I was last night.

I looked at people and their Myrtles. They had such pretty sweaters! I loved them all, and I really loved the fact that they were wearing them the way I wanted to wear my future Myrtle. I was so full of love that I looked at the yarns they used and clicked Malabrigo then opened Simply Socks and ordered Malabrigo sock and printed off the confirmation page and then smiled, because now I would have some of that love too, and it would be amazing.

Here it is, Rachael, Malabrigo Sock in 801 Boticelli Red . Can you imagine Myrtle in that?

The link is for the Non-Ravelers. So you can still see it.

Then I came down.

I realized that the wool fumes that convince us to spend inglorious amounts of money on bison or something called a qiviut and maybe even cashmere are equally potent through cyberspace.

I can look at pretty yarn online and be moved the way that I thought only touching yarn could move me. It's crazy. It's uncontrollable.

It could someday be a problem.

See, the people from the internet place called and said we'd get our internet upgraded on Wednesday. At that point, I will be able to look at yarn and buy it from my bed at home. This has already become a problem with books. Now it will be with yarn. I may have to get another job just for yarn.

I'm a little scared.

So, Rachael, as someone with good internet and a not-billionaire just like me, how does one manage to live in a world with access to online yarn and not have to sell off one's possessions or give up on paying one's various loans?

Does it involve self-control? Because that could be an issue.

I just wanted you to know before you saw me knitting it, Rachael, so you would know why I was knitting it. I really don't know what else I could have done, and anyway, it's too late to stop myself now.

Your friend and fellow knit-aholic,


The Knitting Olympics and Laura's Near-Death Drive Home

The Knitting Olympics. For those of you who think I'm making this're wrong. Just because I don't have to take performance-enhancing drugs and lie about it to become amazing and be-medalled, doesn't mean it isn't a big deal.

Wait--does Advil count as performance-enhancing?

I have already announced to those of you who happened to get cornered that day at work or later that night after I got home or even in the days following that I will be knitting Uhura from Twist Collective from the Curse'd Patons Grace, miraculously turning what was once a source of familial shame into a beautiful tank top I will wear for yea--well, summers--to come.

But here's the thing.

I need a size 6 circular needle to do this Uhura thing, and I'm using my size 6 right now on my Jen Cardigan from Kim Hargreaves' book Precious. This has nothing to do with the movie by the same name (based on the novel Push by Sapphire) nor does it have anything to do with Jennifer, my friend and partner in various crimes (one of which is the two of us being so single and so amazingly eligible at the same time).

I should add that I don't feel like spell-checking Kim Hargreaves' name, so I'm not. Rachael will tell us if I'm wrong. This is one of those things that she will know, because she is a genius.

So, in order to knit Uhura, I have to finish Jen (the cardigan, not the person, I have no desire to "finish" Jen, as it would involve my breaking several major laws end with my trial and conviction in a federal court). Henceforth (in this post) Jen will be the cardigan and Jennifer will be Friend-Jen. The one that walks and talks and plays her clarinet when the clarinet feels like it ought to be played. Which isn't now.

Let's all take a moment of silence in honor of Jen's broken clarinet.

Okay. Thank you.

I have been furiously knitting away. This began with my purchase of season one of the Gilmore Girls, because I managed to knit a whole glove on size one needles during season one and part of two when I watched the series the first time, my knitting-speed increasing exponentially as I became more and more emotionally invested in Luke and Lorelai's relationship.

But I had no more yarn as I left work on Wednesday, pulling out of the alley and recalling the two phone calls from Paul from earlier that day, calls made to tell me all about how deadly 15 was and how I would, if I drove upon it, surely die.

However, since hours had passed, I left town via 15. Then, moments later, turned back around and went to 24, because 15 had been closed off by emergency vehicles due to some kind of accident. That brought the accident count up to 3--two that Paul saw (not counting his own near-death near-accident) and one that I couldn't see because of all the police cars blocking my way with their flashy lights.

However, my alternate route was also iced over, and when I'd finally inched to my turn, I discovered that what Paul had suggested as a better option than black ice: drifts of snow, was actually a combination of black ice and drifts of snow.

The result? Laura had to drive fast enough to make it through the drifts and slow enough not to die when she hit the ice afterward.

This was the point when I considered turning back. The problem? Turning around on the one-lane road with all its ice and drifting.

Hey--guess how they told passing motorists where the ditch was? They dug a trench out on the sides of the roads so you'd know where to avoid. Everything in the middle was fair game! That road should have been a sporting event.

The real reason why I didn't turn around and beg Jennifer for a spot of floor to sleep upon was the knitting situation.

I didn't have an extra ball of yarn to work with, and I needed to get Jen the cardigan done before Friday and the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

So I inched home, got out of the car, and watched Criminal minds while I finished the ribbing of my front right panel.

Did I mention that I had to drop two stitches down the whole length of the sweater and pick them back up, adding buttonholes as I went?

Because one needs buttonholes. Otherwise, buttoning doesn't happen.

Oh, speaking of buttoning, I need five more buttons. Which means I have to order them, because they only had eleven at Knitting Off Broadway when I discovered the perfection of these particular buttons with this particular pattern. So, I have to order those.

Also, now that the thing is actually done, I've discovered that my brain either doesn't work or the pattern is wrong, because the sleeves are freakish at the tops with their uneven decreases that totally don't match the front or back of the sweater where they are connected.

They are supposed to match.

So I have to rip those out and re-knit the last three rows on each, something I don't relish doing, but am willing to endure if the result is a sweater that looks like the one in the picture.

But all that can wait.

Because when the torch is lit, my new project will begin. Those buttons can take their time coming...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day and the Glory of Kindle

When I went to sleep on Monday night, fervently hoping that we'd have a snow day, I had already finished How to Say Goodbye in Robot, a fantastic YA read. I envision it made into one of those great Indie films, like Juno or Garden State. That left me between books.

The snow had begun to pile up outside, and I settled into bed, flicking off the episode of Gilmore Girls (season one) that I'd been watching while waiting for my Tylenol Cold and Sinus PM to kick in, rescuing me from an inevitable cold. I noticed the time, 11:57 p.m. and smiled to myself.

Why, you ask?

Because I have a Kindle.

Flicking on the wireless, I waited, then as if by magic, watched as the little "Item Downloaded" announcement flickered at the top of my screen. Because, by then, it was February 9.

I didn't have to order my book and wait for delivery. I didn't have to go to Walmart and pray that they'd have it, or drive up to Barnes and Nobles on the weekend. All I had to do was curl up in bed with my heating pad crammed at my feet (right by the chilly window) like a modern-day hot water bottle, and wait. Then I could read my silly Ally Carter novel (Heist Society) in comfort and anonymity, as I am a lit-buff who should be above such things as chic-lit and spy thrillers. Or both in one volume.

I am not above such things. In fact, I think I enjoy them all the more, since I read a great deal of Misery Lit (otherwise known as Edith Wharton novels).

Do you see how cool that was? I was between books, and magically I wasn't. Plus, when I got my phone call at 7:00 a.m., I could take pleasure in knowing that I had an entire day with a new book and no work! It's like living in the wizarding world--or Star Trek!

That being said, I didn't read my new book at all yesterday, unless you count my reading through the first chapter through bleary eyes at 12:05 a.m. before I drifted off to sleep. I should say bleary eye, as by then I was contact-free, and I couldn't so much find my glasses. So I had to do the sad, sad thing I have to do--cover my left eye so I could focus on the page. I know. Depressing. Also kind of freakish. Don't act surprised.

Instead, I crawled back into bed at 7:15 a.m. and took more Tylenol Cold and Sinus PM, then I slept until 2:30 p.m. and woke up cured from my cold, or at least well-rested enough that I didn't feel sick anymore. Then I got dressed and prettied myself up before marathon-knitting something like ten inches of ribbing. Then I dropped two stitches all the way down the length of my sweater-front (the right side)and picked them back up, this time adding buttonholes.

I also watched Castle. Lots and lots of Castle.

Dad walked in late in the evening and said, "You've got to work every day before you realize how great snow days are."

"No, I said. "Snow days are just as awesome now as they were when I was eight." And I meant it.

Snow days are fun. I love them. I would say we should have them more often, but that would steal the magic and nobody wants that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Laura Will Be Doing at 12:01 Tomorrow Morning

To start this out, I have to say, I know nothing about football.

I once referred to football helmets as "Fancy Hats" during the last and only game I've ever watched all the way through. During that time, I also asked, "How do you score? No one's getting the ball through the hoop!"

It was then explained that the goal-post thingies are only one of several ways that a team can score.

From this I gathered that running to the painted part without your name on it and doing a Happy Dance means you get points.

I think you should get points when the whole of both teams land on top of you. But you don't get anything but bruises when that happens.

I think I may have fooled some people this year, because I repeatedly told my friends and family, co-workers, and passing strangers about how much I was looking forward to Sunday.

This was due to the airing of the final segment of Emma on the PBS show Masterpiece Classic (formerly just Masterpiece Theater, but now they have Classic and Mystery, just to annoy me, since it means they don't really show that cool intro to Mystery that I've loved for as long as I can remember.

My cover was blown, however, when I walked into the local branch of my bank on Friday to find everyone inside sporting Colts jerseys.

"Is there a game?" I asked warily.

"Yes," they answered.


"Sunday," the teller said, taking my deposit slip.


"Yes," she replied. "Sunday is the Superbowl."

"Oh," I said.

"The Colts are playing."

"I thought the Superbowl was later," I said. "Isn't it usually later?"

But the damage was done. I took my envelope and left, taking my ignorance with me.

In my defense, I knew the Colts were playing. But no one had mentioned to me when the Superbowl was, so I didn't know. I know it's usually in Florida, though. Maybe it's always there...Andy told me something like that once. Am I remembering right, Andy?

Late last night, Mom came into my doorway and knocked. I told her to enter (this was a thing yesterday). When she opened the door, she said, "The Superbowl was lost by us."

Then she left, as I began my hysterical laughter.

I wasn't laughing at the result of the game, or that it took us so much longer than the rest of the world to find out when we saw it on the evening news (I'm imagining--how late did the game go?). No, I was laughing at something completely different.

Jennifer knows. What was wrong with Mom's sentence, Jen?

Dr. Planer could tell us.

That's right! It's a passive sentence!

Mom ought to have said something like, "We lost the Superbowl."

Instead she gave me a good laugh and proved once and for all that I am a grammar nerd. That being said, I totally disregard grammar for the purposes of this blog. You may have noticed.

Normally I shrug off things like this. Or at least, I shrug them off when the result isn't funny. But this time it was hilarious. I think the grammar thing is the reason I love Castle so much.

I think the sharp contrast of the Superbowl and the Grammar Issue illustrates well the difference between me and other, perhaps more normal, humans. It shows you that I am, as I discussed with Jen the other night, a freak of nature.

In the spectrum of things I choose to care about, the Superbowl ranks relatively low. It might be closer to comets hurtling toward the earth (something that might be worrisome but that I have no control over) than to the state of my car (something that determines how I will get to the store to buy provisions for when the comet hits).

So while I can see why someone would be excited for the Superbowl, I don't share the sentiment. I would much rather be reading.

Oh, reading, you ask? Witness my smooth transition!

When Jennifer and I were out on Saturday, we discussed the several topics we always cover: The state of education and its effects on Jennifer's livelihood, how single the two of us are and why we think that is, and food.

We finished up our conversation about food by watching Anthony Bourdain talk about food.

We'd gone to the bookstore that night to get Jen a copy of The Lightning Thief--the first Percy Jackson book--so that she can get with the program before I drag her out to see the movie this weekend. And while we were doing this, I looked for a book that I could buy and read, or, failing that, a book I could read on my Kindle.

Here is where we meet with the greatest obstacle of library work.

I know all the books. All of them, before they come out, because I get those journals that tell me how many stars a book gets and if I should buy it, then we order it at the library, and I read it. This means I end up with tons of books to read, but it also means that I spend a lot of time doing something I really hate.

I wait.

John Green has a new book coming out. In March. Maureen Johnson's next one? Maybe 2011...we hope. Melina Marchetta? It's being sent in the mail right now, could be the weekend before it arrives. Laurie Notaro? April, and it's a novel not a collection of essays...and I live and die for those essays. I even have to wait for the next of the funny chic-lit spy books that I love--the next one of Ally Carter's series is due out in June. The Hunger Games III? August. Again, I hope. Patricia McKillip? Who knows. And several of those are just the ones for Work Laura. Not Fun Laura! Fun Laura has a whole different list of books she's waiting for too!

Publishers like to push back dates like that from time to time. Still, I wait, the receipt from my online pre-orders clenched in my hands.

The good think about my Kindle (aside from it's inherent coolness factor) is that when I preorder something I'm dying to read but think I'm only going to read the one time (or that I'm going to read dozens of times when I'm bored in waiting rooms so I should get paperback editions because they'll get devastated by knitting needles and normal wear-and-tear), I can get whatever book it is that I'm waiting for when I want it, which is the instant it goes on sale. No more waiting for books I want to read in an afternoon as they slowly make their way from the publishing warehouse to my house, first stopping in Indy for three days (with no real reason for the delay).

So at 12:01 tonight I'm waking up Mr. Kindle so he can download the new Ally Carter book. It might not be spies, but it's bound to be fun and I won't have to keep the hardcover on my bookshelf for an eternity when I need the room for my copy of The Name of the Rose and all of Patricia A. McKillip's books. Because this is one of those things I choose to care about. Or, more accurately, obsess about.

Meanwhile, I must say that I have less than a week before the Knitting Olympics begin. I have been training for years (ha, ha) and feel good about my chances. In order to better prepare, I've decided that tonight I'm going to Walmart after work and picking up season one of Gilmore Girls, because...why not? Mostly because I love the mom. She cracks me up.

If I seem cranky tomorrow, It's because I was waiting for 12:01 to download something and I decided that, after all the waiting, I deserved to read a chapter before i fell asleep, only to end up reading the whole novel when I ought to have been sleeping.

Try and diagram that sentence.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dress Shopping 101

Yesterday as I strolled through the mall, I came to several conclusions regarding me, the universe, and dress shopping.

1. When purchasing a dress, one ought to first do something strengthening, or perhaps bring a companion along whose sole purpose is to tell one that one is beautiful, regardless of how flattering garments appear draped over your frame.

2. Dresses are not made to fit you or anyone else. If you find a dress that both fits you and looks good on you at the same time, you are entering into a quantum disturbance and should hurl money at the cashier and flee before being caught in the event horizon.

3. Crying will not help you find a dress.

4. Neither will screaming.

5. If you are young, reasonably attractive, thin, and over 15, you should shop in the old ladies stores, because you will never find a dress in a store targeted to your age group. Why? Because stores you think are targeted to you are in fact hoping to ensnare 10-13 year-olds. If you have been through puberty, you can't shop there anymore. Confused? Ask your mother.

6. Pretty dresses are usually made of disgustingly cheap material that will shred once touched. Therefore, one should not expect to find a pretty dress. Or a well-made one.

7. If you can find skirts that fit you and shirts that fit you, you will be unable to find a dress that fits you. If you can't find shirts that fit you or skirts that fit you, you will be equally unable to find a dress that fits you.

8. If you think losing ten pounds will allow you to fit into the dress of your dreams, you are incorrect. In fact, you will need to lose a ribcage and both pelvic bones.

9. If you think shopping online will help you, you are probably wrong. You might find the style you want, but the construction will be dreadful, and the dress will not fit you.

10. If a dress fits you, chances are that all other women within a hundred yards of you actually hate you, even if they haven't realized it yet. If you model this dress in the fitting room for friends or relatives, strangers will hiss under their breath and look for an appropriate weapon.

11. If you purchase a constricting garment in order to better allow for dresses to fit you, dresses will still not fit you.

12. If you have broad shoulders, a sleeveless or strapless dress would be flattering. Such dresses, however, are not designed for your broad shoulders and thus will not fit you.

13. Dresses that look beautiful on a hanger will look like a smock on you, or...

14. They will look like a sausage casing, or...

15. They will position your hips at your waist and your waist at your bust, and be pornographic when you lean over.

16. Once you have tried on four dresses, you may as well go home. Failing to do so will result in despondency or self-loathing.

17. The models wearing the dress you like in the picture over the counter in the store are freaks of nature. They are raised on diets of gruel and water, then forced to throw up their meals, then they have their hip bones shaved down to prevent them from appearing visible when they put on a fitted dress.

18. If you have low self esteem when you walk into a dress shop, you will have no self esteem when you walk out.

19. If you know what you're looking for when you walk into a dress shop, you will never find it.

20. If you always see pretty dresses in certain stores, then go back for them, you will never find a pretty dress at those stores again.

And finally, if you sew or know someone who does, you're better off just buying fabric and making it yourself.

So I am!

Although I have no doubt this project will be taken over by Mom the instant I suggest it...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm So Proud of You!

I've mentioned before that I've been pretty girly lately, crying at nothing and so forth.

Today I haven't burst into random tears, but I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride, because my friends are doing such fantastic things. I also feel the urge to brag about their awesomeness, since they are such cool people and the things they do are amazing.

Firstly, my friend Erica just so totally had a baby! That's...big! Hooray for Erica! Hooray for baby Thomas! Welcome to the world! You can go look at how cute he is on Facebook, if you know us. If you don't...well, sorry. I don't want to put up pictures I didn't take and don't have permission to use, since a baby is involved. Also a super-tired new mom...

Then, and I must say I rank this as equal to the previous accomplishment, Jen just knit her first pair of socks! They fit! They look good! That almost never happens with First Socks, and I am so proud of Jen that I told all six people at the yarn store today the story of Jen's socks and how they grew, because everyone needed to know it. Her socks are named (these names were my idea--I have to say) Treble and Bass (Like treble clef and bass clef in music, get it?) and they were so named because Jen could say, "Laura, I'm really having treble with this sock!"

Although what would really happen, since I doubt very much that Jen would ever say that, would be me saying, "Hey, Jen, are you having some "treble" turning your heel?" This would be followed by hysterical laughter, and Jennifer would give me a look as if to say, "Get control of yourself, you human oddity."

Facebook buddies of Jennifer can go look at pictures of her socks in her "Knitting" album.

And, amazingly, there is more! Yes, more!

My friend from Spanish class, Rachel Lake, is totally a news reporter doing newsy things and she did a live report for the first time yesterday!

This one you can see, right here.

Are you back?


Doesn't she seem all professional? Didn't she do fantastic?

I am totally proud of her. She sat next to me in Spanish class, along with a multitude of other gen ed classes, and now she's on TV, doing the news.

Okay, I'm done gushing. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Falling for Shoe

Today one of my co-workers fell down the stairs at the library.

This was due to a tragic separation of the leather upper from the man-made lower portion of her shoe. I will illustrate using mathematics.

Solve for Z; when X = Leather Upper and Y = Man-Made Sole.


Leather Upper - Man Made Sole = Z

Because this isn't a real equation, or because this is theoretical mathematics taught by a girl whose only math accomplishments are listed in the category "Epic Fail," we must list possible variations instead of one answer to this equation. Z may equal either Painful Collapse, Bruises, Strange Noise, Damaged Appendages, Shoe Shopping, or all of the above.

Strange Noise, you ask?

Oh, yes. Because from where I was sitting, I heard a crash followed by the sound a stack of children's books covered in plastic dust jackets slipping off each other and then landing individually on the carpet-covered tile floor.

This is an interesting noise, and when we combine that noise with the crash, it doesn't sound like falling down stairs. It sounds like middle-school boys.

It took some time for me to realize what the noise might be, since I am usually on the receiving end of such noises, being that I am the one who usually falls down the stairs (rather than a witness).

I rushed to her aid, retrieved a first aid kit, and attempted to be of use. I provided a band-aid; I advised her not to hot-glue her shoe together, and I told her I had fallen down those stairs many times (but none of mine were that legendary). I also told recounted a story of my first stair-fall here at the library, including that one of our high-school girls had told me the instant after my collapse that I could go upstairs and watch it on the video camera if I wanted to. I didn't want to. My fall was also precipitated by shoe-malfunction, although mine were too wide for my feet rather than disintegrating during wear.

The moral of this story?

Check your shoes before you walk in them, especially if your workplace is scattered liberally with security cameras.

May it also be said that, on the three occasions I mentioned "mathematics", I misspelled the word three times. I spelled it "mathmatics" when it should read "mathematics". This may have contributed to my poor math grades throughout high school. I have also disregarded (due to not remembering) the rules of where punctuation and quotation marks ought to be placed. Those mistakes have been left uncorrected due to laziness.

A Simplified and Amusing View of National Healthcare

I could use this as an opportunity to rail against those who claim we don't need national health care plan, but you don't want me ranting about that, because there's a good chance that at the end of that bill I will have either called you or someone else a fascist, criminally negligent, or just plain ignorant. We don't want Laura to do that 1. because it is mean and 2. because it might not necessarily be true since 3. at that point Laura will have lost her temper, an inevitable side effect of people not agreeing with her.

Therefore I turn once again to John Green, who explains things so well and usually doesn't resort to name calling.

Click on the video if you want to read his answers to questions...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Public Schools

Jennifer and I have been talking about how miserable the funding cuts are for schools in Indiana right now, and she writes about it here and in other places all through her blog.

We talked about it tons on Friday night, right before she made me cry, and I remembered this when I read her new blog three minutes ago, causing me to go play on YouTube, which is what I do sometimes.

You see, I am re-watching all of The West Wing, or at least all of the episodes that Aaron Sorkin had part in making (as in, writing) because the show really did a nose-dive when he stopped writing all the time. The acting was still amazing, but the writing...well, Aaron Sorkin is amazing. Let's just say that.

In the first season, Sam (Rob Lowe) has an argument about funding for schools, and when I watched it yesterday, I was reminded of Indiana's horrible problem(s). One of the big ones, of course, being our idiot governor who tried to kill me. Personally. I'm telling the truth. Your Man Mitch almost ran me off the road with his campaign bus, causing me to pull off onto the grass/shoulder to avoid being crushed in my pavement-gray Honda.

Here it is:

I hope we can find a way to do this soon.

In Which Jennifer Makes Me Cry

She looks innocent, doesn't she?

A bit like Raphael's Madonna, right?

Except that she isn't. Oh, no. Jennifer is not innocent at all.Look at that picture of Jen again, up there. That is the face of the woman who made Laura cry.

I know, evil, right? Totally, totally evil.

See, Jennifer and I went out to dinner on Friday night after my near-death experience. During this dinner she had a mojito and became incredibly distracted by something. What, you ask? The teeth of a fellow diner.

While I listened in on the random conversation (involving shaving, pros and cons) of the rather-drunk ladies behind Jen, she stared in a blatantly obvious way at the man she dubbed "White-Teeth-Guy," an innocent man who kept getting this blank look on his face as he stared at the television screen in our general direction. He also was very fake-tanned, with abnormally-bleached-white teeth. We think radiation was involved.

Jennifer, having been disappointed by the disappearence of her mojito (she drank it), was amusing on the subject of this man's teeth. This beat our other conversation from earlier that night, which was made up of our lackluster existences and the cutting of school funding (including the loss of all Jen's school's do you have a school with no librarian?).

Jennifer was transformed for thirty or so minutes, then the two of us returned to our usual glum selves, discussing our Quarter-Life Crisis(es) with abject despair. For me, the misery is caused by 1. cold and 2. dark with a little bit of 3. chronic, nightly insomnia.

Maybe I should have had that mojito. Maybe then I would have slept that night. Maybe a little. Okay, I still wouldn't have slept a wink. But it would have been worth a try. Getting sleep might actually keep me from potentially falling asleep at the wheel, which almost certainly would lead to car damage. On the other hand, it may just have ended up with me crying.

Oh wait, it did. And I didn't even need alcohol. All I needed was Jennifer's evil.

Yes, for the first time in our friendship, Jennifer so totally made me cry.

Why? Because she's such a big meanie, being all mean to me, with her nastiness, and her deeply-rooted evil. Her Paint-It-Black heart, her abject cruelty, her--

Fine. I know, Jennifer is not evil. I'm just a big girl.

I was complaining about it earlier that night. I'm undergoing a transformation in which I become my mother.

My mother, I must tell you, is Snow White. Seriously. I have to say, this is a woman (I have a clear memory of this) who would hold out her hand with birdseed in her palm and birds would land in her hand and eat the seed! Really! This happened when I was little, before preschool, but it happened. Dad can vouch for me.

Mom, though, also cries at cotton commercials ("It's the fabric of our lives!") and James Herriot stories, and when I read moving passages to her from books I like.

There is an old addage, that we all become our parents, and I think that must be true. Like my father, I often think I'm funnier than I am (although I know better than to think I'm funny at all in person, I'm better on paper) and am often snarky. Like Mom, I baby-talk my dog and believe she has human emotions that lead her to do cute things repeatedly and that her behavior has nothing to do with the treat we plan on giving her if she does the cute thing again.

But above all else, I have always believed myself to be more like my Auntie Jean (it's a thing, the "auntie"), who Must Be Right, who plans everything down to the second, who knows a little bit of everything...except I'm wrong.

No, I am my mother's daughter, evidenced in the last year on several occasions.

1. I read Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl and burst into tears at the circulation desk.

2. I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman and burst into tears at the circulation desk.

3. I reread If I Stay and burst into tears at Culvers.

4. I watched the last episode of M.A.S.H. season 3 and cried on my way home from Jen's because Radar loved Henry Blake so much.

5. I watched the Buffy episode where her mom dies, and I cried. I also cry every time I've watched that episode since then. Which is like, five times. Buffy makes me cry. Also this one Angel episode...

6. I listened to "Half an Acre" by Hem with Jen, then cried on my way home.

7. Now I cry every time I listen to "Half an Acre" including that time on New Year's, although I managed to make it almost the whole way home before I did.

8. What happened on Friday night.

Now, I must say, the Friday night thing would never have happened if not for Jennifer. I would never have looked up old Johnny Carson stuff, nor would I have watched anything Jimmy Stewart. I don't watch things like that on YouTube. Mostly because I would never think to go looking for them.

But Jennifer isn't even content making me cry; she wants you to cry too. See? Click her link. Just do it.

Go on.

Watch it.

See? How can a girl take that kind of pain? He loved his dog! He loved him!

Fine. I know. It wasn't Jennifer's fault. But I'd like to know how I got to be this way. Is it working around little children? Because I will find a way to stop it, if that's the cause.

But I think it's a lot simpler than that. I think this was dormant in me all along, and it will only get worse as I get older and girlier, crying at nothing. I think it was in me all along, and that I am now cursed to cling to the fabric of my life and cry because little babies and old people wear it, because it is the fabric of life.

I think I'll blame Jennifer anyway, though. At least for the dog poem. I mean, she gave me no warning at all, and I'd just told her about the random crying. That was premeditated.

(Sorry Jen, I couldn't help it...)