Archive for the 'blog' Category

Marsha

Why, hello there!

A friend* recently nudged me to post something new on my blog, so here I am. I know I’ve been neglecting this place lately, but the weird thing is that I think about my blog all the time. I compose posts in my head almost every day, but always when I’m not able to sit down at a computer and write them. And when I do find myself at a computer, well, the inspiration is gone (or at least hiding in the back of my mind, behind all the other-things-I-need-to-take-care-of-when-I’m-at-a-computer).

I’m finding that most of the “quick” things I usually would have posted here are instead finding there way to my Google+ page. I’m still staying far away from Facebook, but I am spending time on Twitter** and Google+***, and of course I still read lots of blogs. Each of these social media outlets has its own function for me: I use Twitter mainly for information gathering and sharing, Google+ for conversations, and blogs for in-depth reading. I like them all, though sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there. It’s a bit like drinking from a firehose. I’ve discovered that the only way to stay sane (and have a life that isn’t completely tethered to the Internet) is to take occasional sips rather than try to drink all that water.

Some people say that blogs are dying—or even already dead—especially in the wake of the arrival of Google+ on the social media scene. Last summer a number of prominent bloggers publicly announced that they were moving all their content to G+ (none of them were people I read, so I have no idea if they followed through on this). G+ does facilitate conversation much better than Twitter and Facebook do (and so far, I’ve been really impressed by the intelligent discourse and genuine interaction I’m finding on G+, as well as the lack of ads and Farmville updates there). But for longer treatises and for customizing how you want to present yourself, your images, your text, etc., to the world, I think blogs still come out ahead.

Unfortunately, many of the blogs I used to read that were written by friends and acquaintances (either from real life or people I’d met online) have fallen mostly silent over the past few years. People are migrating to different online communities (especially Facebook), getting busy with life, getting bored with their blogs.

Many bloggers, however, show no signs of leaving. One of my favorite bloggers, John Scalzi, tweeted while watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy the other night. I saw the tweets unfold in real time and spent much of the evening laughing my head off. Happily, Scalzi collected all of those tweets into one blog post, which you can read here. Trust me—it’s well worth your time.

After you’ve read through that list, look at this video, which someone created in response to Scalzi’s tweet “Dear world: I am deeply disappointed there is not a dubstep version of the Smeagol Fish Battering Song.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRYhLYY_pn4[/youtube] (via)

Some days, I really love the Internet.

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* Said friend is, unfortunately, blogless. I keep trying to convince him to spread his wit beyond the confines of Facebook, but so far he’s not interested.

** On Twitter I am here.

*** On Google+ I am here.

 

Marsha

SO MUCH BETTER!

I just made a massive improvement to my blog. Click here to see it!

Marsha

Would this embarrass you?

Personally, I think this dad is pretty freakin’ awesome.

Click here to see his blog with a photo of each costume he wore. I think he gives Shatner a run for his money.

Marsha

Consumed

Photos of everything one man ate during 2010. Everything.

It’s an overview of one person’s diet. Judging by the the appearance of the tag cloud (with things like “chocolate” and “tortilla chips” feature prominently), it doesn’t look particularly extraordinary. But seeing everything laid out, especially in the monthly views—that is pretty amazing.

Marsha

Straight talk

Do you read Margaret and Helen’s blog? If not, you should. They are two women who have been best friends for over sixty years and live in different parts of the country. They also have strong opinions on many current events–and they aren’t afraid to be forthright.

Marsha

Tech talk

Around the end of June, my tech life changed dramatically in two ways.

First, I became the owner of an iPhone 3G. Jan bought this two years ago and has used it pretty much nonstop every since. (We joke that it is his “auxiliary brain.”) When the iPhone 4 came out last month, he preordered one; it arrived (and was immediately activated) the day before it would have been available in stores.

Then the 3G became mine. I’m not using it as a phone, though. My cell phone use doesn’t justify this expensive; it currently amounts to about 400 minutes per year–so I use T-Mobile’s prepaid 1000 minutes good for one year for $100 deal. So the old iPhone is functioning as an iPod Touch*, which means I have Internet access whenever I have a WiFi connection.

So what am I doing with the 3G? Mostly gaming. It’s very handy for playing an asynchronous Scrabble-like game with friends, as well as Carcassonne. (If Settlers of Catan ever comes out for the iPhone, I will probably disappear for a while…) I’m also having loads of fun with Plants versus Zombies, which is exactly what it sounds like (and available for many platforms, for non-iPhone users out there).

The other big change is that I have pretty much stopped using Facebook in the past few weeks. I ranted here about Facebook several months ago, but ultimately still found it a useful place to keep in touch with people. But lately, I find that reading Facebook just annoys me: too much passive-aggression, too many “let me say something vague and negative so lots of people will ask me ‘what’s wrong?'” status updates, too much inanity. I started hiding people from my feed, and when I realized that I was hiding most people, I knew it was time to go. Oh, and there’s also that whole thing about how Facebook completely ignores any privacy concerns and aggressive markets users’ information to other vendors. Yeah, that.

(I haven’t nuked my Facebook account–still on the fence about that–but I’ve removed most of my personal information from there.)

So, aside from the blogosphere, where am I hanging out these days online? Believe it or not, Twitter, where I’m First Things; you can find me here. I’ve been active there only for a couple of weeks now, and so far it’s been…interesting. More on that later, though.

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*What a lame name. Seriously, Steve Jobs: Apple has excelled in the design and marketing department for some time now. This was the best you guys could come up with?

Marsha

Knitting updates

It’s funny that I originally started this blog to keep track of my knitting projects yet lately I’ve been lousy about posting knitting-related updates here. I’m still knitting these days–not so much with my knitting group (busy schedules and other interests and obligations have made it difficult for us all to get together as often as we used to), but mostly during times when I’m sitting around waiting somewhere or watching a DVD.Early last month I finished the hem on my Wallaby. I’d originally knit it with a rolled hem, but after test-wearing it for a couple of months I decided I didn’t like how the roll formed a “bump” that poked me in the lower back whenever I leaned back on it. So I picked up stitches all around the cast-on edge, knit a hem, and sewed it down. I’m pleased with the results.

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I also finished my squirrel and oak mittens to match the ones I knit for Sylvia a year and a half ago. She really wanted us to have matching mittens, and it took me a while to get the yarn and gauge right.You may recall that I knit Sylvia’s left mitten three times before I got the size right. I did not rip the failures but plan to knit their mates at some point. The small ones can be a baby gift for someone, and the larger ones will probably fit Sylvia this year.

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I had similar trials with my mittens. First I knit one in Knitpicks Palette, which turned out to be too small for me. Then I knit one in Knitpicks worsted Wool of the Andes on #4 needles. Too small again. Using #6 needles yielded success. Fortunately, I always start with the squirrel mitten, which has “20” at the top. Since it’s highly unlikely that we’ll start a new century before I finish the oak mitten, I’ll be able to knit the mates for these and give them away. (The Palette ones are likely to fit Sylvia in a couple of years.)

Happily, I had no gauge problems whatsoever with this baby cardigan, sized for 6-12 months. Two years ago I took a class with Margaret Fisher and was so inspired that a couple of months later I got her book, Seven Things that can “Make or Break” a Sweater™: Techniques and Tips for Hand Knitters (even though the capitalization choices and use of quotes in the title annoy me).

This baby cardigan project features all of the elements she discussed in that book: as you read the book, you work through the project, thus getting some hands-on experience with each technique.I knit this in Rowan All-Season Cotton from my stash. What a fun project! I definitely want to knit this pattern again. This particular sweater went to a friend who is expecting her first child at the end of July. I can’t wait to see photos of the baby wearing it this winter!

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Marsha

Hello goodbye

For now, at least.

invitations.jpg

The last few weeks have been super busy around here. Between preparations for Sylvia’s birthday party tomorrow, shopping for a new car, working on the garden, and getting the house in order for both the party and my parents’ visit, I haven’t had time for blogging. I’m got plenty to blog about, though–and hope to get to it next week or so, once the party/visit bustle subsides.

Marsha

A day full of knitting

I started this blog in early September 2005 (happy birthday, Blog!), originally intending it to be a place where I could keep track of my knitting by posting pictures and specs of various projects. Its scope quickly grew to encompass pretty much anything that interested me, but knitting still makes an appearance.

I haven’t written about knitting for a while, but I have been working on (and even finishing!) some interesting projects. I’ll write about those projects another time, but for now I want to write about an all-day knitting event I attended over the weekend.

Last year I attended Knitters’ Day Out (KDO) for the first time and had a wonderful experience, which I blogged about three months late. (D’oh!) I was able to go again this year and once again had a terrific time. All together, seven people from my local knitting group went; two went up the night before (they were teaching a class and had a free hotel room), and the five of us rode up together early in the morning.

Again, I took two classes.* My morning class was “Entrelac Basics” with Gwen Bortner. She is a professional knitting instructor–and boy, it really shows. She was very clear and very thorough, and she had the best knitting instruction handouts I’ve ever seen. I finally learned how to do entrelac, which isn’t as terrifying at it seems when you understand how it works.

And, even better, I learned how to knit backwards. OH MY DOG that is so cool. I can’t even begin to describe the coolness of it. Learning this technique alone was worth the price of admission. Basically, you do the purl part of stockinette from the back, so you never have to turn your work. This is handy for something like entrelac, where instructions might have something like “Row 1: K1. Row 2: P1.” All that flip-flopping your knitting back and forth can get annoying, but when you learn how to knit backwards, it’s all a distant memory.

(How is it that I never heard of backwards knitting before? It is so practical! And easy! Is there some Great Conspiracy to keep this hidden from the knitting community at large? Hmmmm!)

My afternoon class was “Double Knitting,” which was taught by one of the KDO organizers. (Each year at KDO they have three “celebrity” instructors, and you can take one class with one of them.) She was very nice, but the difference between her class and Bortner’s was pretty striking. When you teach knitting for a living and not just for fun, a certain level of professionalism and thoroughness isn’t optional. It also didn’t help that the afternoon class was full of people who just didn’t listen. I swear, in the ten minutes after the instructor told us to cast on twenty stitches (instructions that were replicated on the handouts she’d given us), at least half a dozen people asked how many stitches we were supposed to cast on. Argh!

Double knitting is pretty cool, too–and, like entrelac, not complicated at all once you understand how it works. It does move along pretty slowly, though, since you’re basically doing K1P1 across the length of each row–and across twice as many stitches as the row’s final length–so I’m not sure how often I’ll use this technique.

During breaks I visited the yarn market, which had maybe twenty or so vendors. Many of them sold yarn and notions that are available anywhere, but there were also quite a few purveyors of locally grown/spun/dyed yarn and fleece, and those were my favorite places to visit. When I stopped by the Bearlin Acres Farm booth, Linda, the owner, recognized me. “You’re the one who knit those mittens three times!” she exclaimed. She had enjoyed seeing the blog post and photos of those mittens–and was pleased to know that Sylvia loves them and wore them all winter long.

Linda had four skeins of yarn that she’d spun from Stansborough Grey fleece, and though the geek in me really really wanted to get these, I couldn’t justify the expense. These fingering-weight skeins were $30 each, but since I’d probably need two skeins to knit the socks I had in mind (which, for this yarn, would definitely be the Rivendell pattern), $60 for a pair of socks was just too much for my budget. (I should point out that rest of Linda’s yarn was very affordably priced; the price of this stuff reflects the cost of getting fleece all the way from New Zealand.)

I actually managed to avoid buying anything–well, anything for myself, that is. Toward the end of the day, I picked up something for Sylvia: twenty-five little felt balls in a variety of colors (with a bit more purple than anything else). She loves them! We are going to get some elastic thread and string them together into a necklace for her.
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*When I told Sylvia what I was going to be doing that day, she said, “So it’s like you’re going to knitting school!”

Marsha

Meta-blogging

So here’s a blog post about my blog. Specifically, about how comments are handled here.

I love when readers comment on posts here—partly because I think of this space as a conversation, not a monologue; and partly because it’s nice to know that someone else out there is reading this stuff. (If I wanted to write only for myself, I’d start a LiveJournal and set the privacy level on each post to “Just Me.”)

My own philosophy is that if someone goes to the trouble to read and comment on a post, I owe them a response. I’ve tried a couple of approaches to responding to comments, and until now haven’t been happy with either of them.

At first, I used to post my responses in the comment threads themselves. But unless the previous commenters come back to check the thread, they never see what I wrote. And because remembering to check back for follow-up comments can be a PITA, most people don’t do this.*

Next, I tried the approach of responding to comments directly by e-mail. This ensured that each commenter saw my response to what he or she wrote, but doesn’t do much to foster dialogue among readers. I’m not saying I expect commenters to write essays to each other. But it can be a lot of fun when one comment inspires another and the next thing you know there are interesting things going on that aren’t necessarily related to the original post.

So to make things easier for all of us—me, regular readers, people stopping by for the first time, anyone—to converse here, in early February I added a nifty plugin to this blog: Subscribe to Comments.

Subscribe to Comments lets you do just what its name promises. If you tick the box before posting your comment, you’ll automatically get e-mail updates about any comments that follow yours for this particular post.

Oh, and I’ve recently adjusted the feed for this blog so that all posts appear in their entirety in readers. I had it set to display just the first few lines before because I really wanted people to click over to here and see what other people (not just me) had to say, too, but with that new plugin in place I don’t think that’s necessary anymore.

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*It is possible to subscribe to the comment feed for this blog (just click on “Comments RSS” under “Meta” in the right-hand column on this page), but my hunch is that most people aren’t interested in reading every single comment that gets posted here—just the ones that follow their own comments.

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