The Whale

Two friends and I are about to launch a “let’s read the classics we should have read a long time ago” project together. First up is Moby-Dick. Even though I dated a Melville scholar for a few years in grad school, I somehow managed not to read this (or any other Melville, for that matter).

It makes sense for us to read the same version of the text, so after some discussion we settled on the Norton Critical Edition (2nd ed.). I spent some time examining several other editions, too, and in light of that it’s pretty funny that Jan just happened upon this yesterday:




Grammar rules

I wonder if I should share this with my editing clients . . .



Knitting for the birds

Usually by the time some “knit [insert name of garment or item] to help out the [insert name of animal]” campaign gets widespread attention on the Internet, the organization that issued the original call for help has already reached it’s original goal. Also, some of those campaigns aren’t actually helpful. (Remember the “knit jumpers for penguins” thing? Here’s a bit of info on how that turned out. Hint: it was not a very effective way to help penguins.)

For once, I’ve managed to catch wind of one these campaigns while it’s in full swing! WildCare in San Rafael, California, is asking for knit and crocheted birds needs to help orphaned baby songbirds during baby bird season (i.e., NOW). You can submit your e-mail address here to get a link to the free pattern PDF. (They even have a Ravelry group, which was locked at the end of August when the 2014 campaign ended but will start again with the 2015 campaign.)

The FAQ is pretty interesting, especially these parts:

Is this like penguin sweaters? Do you really need nests or are you going to sell them for money?We really need nests. Our Birdroom director at WildCare says they’re like towels in a nursery, one can never have too many. Our commitment is that every single nest we receive will go to a bird rescue facility.

Why do you need so many nests?  Because bird poop happens. Nests get very dirty over the course of a day in the Birdroom. Each baby bird must be fed approximately every 45 minutes from dawn till dusk. Although the nests are lined with tissue, they still get dirty from food and poop and need to be changed. When your baby birds need to be cleaned, you just put them into a new nest and put the old one into the dirty laundry basket.



Last week we drove out to Illinois to visit my parents. They live just outside St. Louis, so every visit to their neck of the woods includes a day at the amazing City Museum. It’s an art-installation-meets-all-ages-playground sort of place.

There are climbing structures (concrete, wood, and rebar figure heavily in the construction), both inside and outside:

The outside courtyard.

The outside courtyard.

This connects to a giant, human-sized Habitrail mounted on the ceiling.

This connects to a giant, human-sized Habitrail mounted on the ceiling.

There are actually two gutted airplanes on towers on the courtyard—and one gutted school bus hanging over the edge of the ten-story roof!

There are actually two gutted airplanes on towers on the courtyard—and one gutted school bus hanging over the edge of the ten-story roof!

Heading up to an airplane wing. (Yes, you get to walk on a real airplane wing!)

Heading up to an airplane wing. (Yes, you get to walk on a real airplane wing!)

The climbing (inside and outside) is huge fun! Especially if you wear knee pads. (I am not kidding. You can buy a cheapo-but-adequate pair in the gift shop. Save your knees for only $4!)

There are also extensive “caves” (made of concrete) in the back of the first floor—most tunnels require crawling and a few are too small for more adults. (In other words, they’re a claustraphobic’s nightmare.) I didn’t take photos there because it’s really hard to capture images in a super dark place. (We usually bring headlamps when we come here, but this time we forgot.)

But I did photograph the slides! There are TONS of them at City Museum. Several are outside, like this one:

Super-fast twisty slide!

Super-fast twisty slide!

And there’s even a ten-story slide! It spans the full height of the building, which used to be a shoe factory. This slide was one of the chutes used to send stuff from the top floor down to the bottom. It’s not the fastest ride, but it’s TEN STORIES LONG so that makes it pretty cool.

Entrance to the ten-story slide!

Entrance to the ten-story slide!

There are lots of other cool things to see and do there:

It's a Ring of Death for running humans!

It’s a Ring of Death for running humans!

Funky chairs/stools/rockers that roll around. Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!

Funky chairs/stools/rockers that roll around. Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down!

No introduction necessary.

No introduction necessary.

Now THAT'S some good alliteration.

Now THAT’S some good alliteration.

One of my favorite areas is the architectural museum. It’s of less interest to the rest of my family, so I wander through there on my own when I need a break from all the climbing.

In this section are facades and decorative elements from old buildings that were torn down in the Midwest. In some cases, the demolition crews unofficially salvaged some of the pieces; in others, official preservation efforts were made (one Ohio school district found a home for all this stuff BEFORE tearing down an old building, for example). Most of the stuff is from the Chicago School of Architecture (lots of Louis Sullivan here) and the Prairie School (e.g., George Grant Elmslie).

Just a sampling of the collection.

Just a sampling of the collection.

City Museum is an extraordinary place. St. Louis has a lot of neat stuff going on (top of the Arch, anyone?). But if you have only a few hours in the city and can visit just one place, I think it should be this one.


The truth

My friends Pat and Steve have this very awesome sign hanging in their kitchen.


This was someone else’s book

We are a family of book lovers. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to maintain an extensive personal library at home, so from time to time we have to get rid of some books by selling some, giving others to friends, and donating most to our local library.

During these book sorts, I occasionally come across a book that catches my eye, such as this.


The content looks interesting enough (how about those illustrations!). I often see handwritten inscriptions or owners’ names, but this book actually has a printed nameplate:


A bit of googling led to me to his obituary on the Princeton Alumni Weekly website. He was born in 1929and died in 1998.

In between, “he was an important figure in the revival of scholarly and popular interest in the British Romantic period (1780-1830). He published critical studies of Keats and Shelley.” The obituary ends with this statement: “We have lost a major preserver of English literature.”

I can see how this book ended up in his personal collection. But how did it end up my hands, I wonder? I don’t think I can ever know.

I just came across this post in my drafts folder. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it earlier–maybe I was planning to do some big writeup about these items? No big writeup is forthcoming now, but I can share a few comments about these two projects

I made this Little Hanten (from Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders) for a friend’s daughter. My friend and I went to grad school together (I remember many late nights working on our research grant proposals together!), and she now teaches at the University of Toronto. Now that I’m seeing this photo again, I remember how much I liked knitting this sweater. Another friend just had a baby, so I think I may need to cast on for another one of these soon!

Several years ago, I purchased a British knitting magazine (one of those that costs $20 here in the USA) just so I could get this gnome pattern by Alan Dart. My daughter asked me to make this for her, and she loves it. It’s fun to make, but seaming and sewing together all the parts (which are knit flat in the original pattern) is a PITA. So the next time I make one of these, I plan knit it in the round as much as possible.


On executions

“If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

“If we as a society cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by a firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”

U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (a Reagan appointee)

I’d prefer to see no executions at all, of course.

But I do wonder how much public support for capital punishment would erode if the executions were not longer as “clean” and “sanitized” as they are now. Or if members of the general public were forced to witness the executions. Or if members of the general public were forced to pull the triggers.



Free lunch: Hats

I like how this pixie hat looks as a semi-slouchy hat with the point jauntily sticking up a bit in the back

This twirl and tie cap reminds me a bit of a barbership pole, with how the stripes just twist around at an angle. (Sizes range from babies to adults.)

When you’re in the mood to make a hat and don’t want to bother with figuring out gauge or fussing about yarn, you can make an any-gauge beret or an any-gauge earflap hat with any yarn you have on hand (and without having to do any math in advance). Just start at the top, knit each section until it’s the size you want, then keep going.

Hey, hey, it’s Mike Nesmith’s hat from The Monkees!

Finally, here’s a lovely hat with cabled owls all around it.

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