Tuesday, November 29, 2005

christmas gifts in the car

It's Knitting Day.

As noted previously, I finished The Sock - sock one of two for a friend for Christmas. I'm going to rip out the toe and reshape it because it's really pointy. I must say that I don't fully agree with the Knitty sock primer's opinion of toe shaping.

After the sock I joined a new ball of yarn and knit some more of the poncho. But on Thanksgiving, after casting on and knitting up a bit of a mini-sweater ornament (which is a WAY fun and quick project!!), my wrists hurt so bad that I told my family not to allow me to knit for 24 hours so that I wouldn't injure myself beyond repair. Thus, I didn't pick up any knitting again until Saturday.

Saturday in the late afternoon I got some more of the mini-sweater finished as I sat in the car in the middle of a snow-covered field that USED to be a parking lot. Last I knew, it WAS a parking lot. Obviously I was wrong, because after I had driven halfway across it, I got stuck in the extremely thick mud that was under the snow. I know this sounds completely dumb - couldn't I tell that I was in a field and not a parking lot? The answer is NO. There was absolutely no indication that the pavement-covered-with-snow turned into grass-covered-with-snow. I went with what this landscape had been for the twenty years I had known it...and was mournfully incorrect in my assumption.

Thus, as I waited for a tow truck to arrive to winch me out of the mud, I knit.

Of course, based on my car luck in the past week, I'm sure you guessed that the removal of my car from the mud was not quite as simple as it should have been. You see, tow trucks only have cable that goes out to 50, maybe 75 feet. My car was about 50 feet shy when you completely extended the 75 foot cable. Even when the tower added all the chains he could find in the shop, it wouldn't reach since I had somehow managed to get so far across the mushy field, upon which none of the tow trucks could drive without also getting stuck in the mud. Finally the tower ended up bringing over his own 4-wheel-drive huge pickup truck and pulled me out. However, as I found out yesterday when inquiring from his boss, he wasn't supposed to use his own vehicle, so it is highly likely that the destroyed back bumper that was left due to the ripping of the tow-chain across it will not be covered by the towing company's insurance, as I had been assured on Saturday night. Splendid. I also managed to majorly screw up my alignment while attempting to back out of the mud. The steering wheel now shakes so much that it'll make your arms go numb if you're not careful.

The lessons from all of this, I suppose, are a) Don't assume anything is how it used to be b) Don't take a person's word for anything - ALWAYS read all legal material, and ALWAYS inspect every document that you agree to sign for any sort of liability clause - even on the back of the document even if you didn't know there was a back of the document AND... c) Always carry knitting wherever you go - you never know when you'll need it to kill time or calm your nerves.

Friday, November 25, 2005

a thanksgiving trip

On Wednesday morning, after dropping by the lab to develop some Western blot film, I set off for Kentwood-via-Columbus. It was a lovely, sunny day as I traveled southwest past California, Houston, and Washington. I entered West Virginia and had one of the loveliest drives ever with the rolling hills of the mountains looming on either side of the freeway. Within an hour after leaving Pittsburgh I was in Ohio (3 states in one hour…wow) where it promptly began to snow.

I met my brother on the campus of Ohio State University, where he goes to school, and we had lunch. I had a brief tour of part of the massive campus (so like Michigan State University…ahh!...yay!!) and, while Jonathan was at quantum mechanics class (what big sister would not want to accompany her brother to that class? I know, what a silly sister I am.) I visited the main library (and this!). Then we set off through rush-hour-plus-we’re-afraid-of-snow traffic and went 60 miles in first the two hours of our trip out of Columbus.

Finally we arrived in Kentwood in not bad time at all, and the next morning when I awoke on Thanksgiving…the world around was covered with a blanket of snow. Perfect! The only non-perfect aspect of the day was that my sister is still in California and wasn’t with us.

As I traveled through the “tristate area” I decided that it would be a wonderful place to live. And I was struck by the realization that it’s fairly well agreed upon that certain things in nature are beautiful. Why is that? What is it that makes a sunset or a mountain or an ocean? Is it because it’s something we humans cannot create? Is beauty something that’s qualitative, or are there actually absolutes in beauty?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

yipes, stripes

This week I've been working exclusively on The Sock (probably a bad idea...my wrists are beginning to hurt, which means I should work on something else and/or stop knitting for a while. Boo.) and it is nearly done! I have about half an inch left to knit (that's about one stripe with the yarn and gauge that I have) and then it's time to shape the toe and...then I'm done!! Yipee!

Last night, however, my ball of sock yarn got nearly completely all unballed. I realized this as I was getting into my car. I was getting into my car because I was awaiting the arrival of a person to change my tire since the same tire (it's a brand new tire, but it's on the same wheel) is now flat again. When the tire went flat (which occurred as I parked my car on the street just around the corner from my friends' home where I was going for dinner), I left it where it was and went to the house for dinner. I called for a tire change (it's included in my car warranty - I know it's not difficult to change a tire on my own, but it's way easier when someone else does it for you!) and ate a little dinner and then went back to the car. As I sat in the car I felt a tug and saw that there was yarn extending from my purse.

I looked back from whence I had come and saw, to my horror, that my thin yarn extended across the sidewalk, through two yards, into a bush, and around the street corner...

Thus began my effort to find where the ball now was, inform passers-by that they might get tripped by the yarn (I missed telling one runner, who DID get tripped up by the yarn...), and untangle the yarn from the branches of a large bush.


I suppose you could say that I'm going through one of those streaks of bad luck, except I don't really believe in luck.

All I want now is for my tire to stay inflated until I get back to Kentwood and am with my parents and near tire stores whose reputations I know!!

Anyhow, here's a picture of the sock mid last week. It's much farther along now, but I have no digital camera.

Ooh, also today I am wearing the first sweater I ever knit. It's big and acrylic and purple. I think this is the first time I've actually worn it to somewhere that people know me...!

Monday, November 21, 2005


I've been working with the high school youth ministry at my church since the fall of 2002, and nearly every year I've gone with them on their fall retreat. I recall going on a few retreats when I was in high school, but oddly enough I've gone on more in the past 4 years than I have when I was in high school myself.

This past weekend was the youth group's fall retreat called J-Town, which is held at a retreat center called Jumonville a couple hours south of Pittsburgh. One thing I've learned over the years in youth ministry is that it's not just for the "kids" -- I often get lots of stuff out of the retreat. This weekend was no exception. Not only was it a great getaway from the pressures and worries of real life, it was also good to hear some great truths spoken about Jesus Christ, as the theme of the weekend is the gospel.

The speaker for the weekend was Brad Henderson of the Pittsburgh Youth Network, who happens to also be from Michigan (from my favorite beach city of all time, Grand Haven). On Saturday night he read from Mark 14:53-65 and 15:1-39, which describe Jesus's trial, torture, and crucifixion. He also showed a video montage of scenes from Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I have heard the story and seen the movie clips time and time again, but as I watched I realized that I never put much thought into what actually occurred during this historical event. I never really considered how silently Jesus took the slaps in the face, the spitting, the crown of thorns, the mocking, the flogging, the nailing of flesh. He did not protest. He could have resisted, and, being God's Son, could have easily escaped all of it. But instead he chose to endure all of the pain and humiliation. Why? In order for people - me, for example - to regain a right relationship with God. Jesus loves people that much. The more I think about it, the more I can't get over it. I wouldn't ever even dream of getting slapped in the face on behalf of a friend without some sort of retaliation. Jesus went a lot further than a simple slap.

Made me think. Made me cry, too.

Also made me love Jesus more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

the rest of the story

Wow. And I thought that yesterday pre-5 o' clock was exciting...

As I left work and was walking through the parking lot, a black SUV hit me. Head on HIT me. I somehow managed to semi jump up onto the hood of the car (while holding an apple in my hand...talented, eh?) and was left with only an achey right side. The poor driver was so shaken up. I seem to be fine. Last night I had one of the elders at church pray for me, and I know this sounds really weird, but I felt better instantly. Isn't the first time that's happened to me (the healing I mean; this was the first time being hit by a car. Hopefully the last).

I went home, went to Taco Bell for some comfort food, then Starbucks for some more unnecessarily expensive warm drink, and drove to Sammi's house. I drive Sammi to and from church sometimes - she's in the high school youth group. We had to stop by La Roche College where Sammi's mom works. I parked, went in with Sammi for a bit longer than we had anticipated but not more than 10 minutes, and I came back and had gotten a $100 parking ticket. I just had to laugh. Please, would this be the end of the terribly ironic day??

No, of course not. Sammi's mom, being a professor at the school, was able to get my ticket forgiven (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and Sammi and I went to church...where the sermon began quite literally with "Have you ever had one of those days...weeks...months...? It's not that totally horrible stuff happens, but something like...a flat tire." Oh boy. Not sure if the sermon exactly HELPED matters, but it at least reminded me that I'm not the only one who has weirdness occur all at once.

Sammi and I returned to her home without incident (after another cup of hot chocolate!!), and I just had to stop to pick up some groceries and return a DVD. Thought I'd give a friend a call on the way. We talked for probably and hour and a half, and the call suddenly ended with my friend being very mad at me all of a sudden. I wasn't really hurt by it at all, and it's nothing that I can hold against my friend, but it just added to the frustration of the day.

I do hope that today is not quite as eventful. ...And I hope there's some more S_N_O_W!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

can't bring me down

You ever have one of those days...?

I was planning to take my car into the Honda dealership for an oil change this morning. Last night after dropping off a friend and headed back to my house, one of my tires blew on my car. A nice guy came and changed my tire for me thanks to the Honda roadside assistance included in my warranty. Thus, after my oil change I headed over to Pep Boys to buy a new tire (of course, my tires are less than a year old, so it's quite sad that I already need to buy a new one. Bleh.). After they installed my new tire they informed me that two of the bulbs in my headlights were out. It was at this moment that I began to become suspicious... I've never been that big of a truster of car people anyhow, since every time I take it somewhere there's always something ELSE wrong with it, too, you know. I asked to see the burnt out headlights, and as I strolled over to see it I realized that HEY! the dealership was supposed to have just checked all the lights and other things - they even gave me a checklist saying that they had checked it out. Hmmmm...

Had Pep Boys figured out a way to bust two of the light bulbs???? Had the dealership not really done their inspection as stated???? Could it be in the three minutes that it took me to drive from the dealership to Pep Boys not one but TWO light bulbs, on opposite sides of the car, miraculously burned out???? I was pretty sure the third option was unlikely, so it became clear that SOMEONE was being dishonest with me.

Of course, you know the story - neither place would admit that they had either damaged or neglected to check over my headlights, so I was obviously stuck with the bill. Grr. It's so strange. I don't know quite what to think, but I'm pretty sure that my conclusion is that I will not go to that particular Honda dealership again. This is the same dealership that I boycotted for a couple years when they insisted that all I needed to do at the 20,000 mark was get my oil changed when the owner's manual clearly says that about 20 things need to be checked and changed.

I also feel kind of bad because in my frustration I was a bit rude to the Pep Boys person. He, very wittingly (but at the time very ANNOYINGLY!), replied, "Well, the place you took the car for the oil change doesn't check over things as thoroughly as we do here at Pep Boys."

The car things got taken care of FINALLY and I could get to work for the noon seminar that I was anticipating - Dr. Rafi Ahmed came to talk about CD8 T cells, which are one of my favorite things. I sipped a French vanilla cappucino thing and at a M&M cookie while I listened. I then proceeded to rip out the sock heel for the second time after having messed it up again after re-knitting it while waiting for my car to get fixed three times.

And...now, to make matters bad again, I just managed to get big grease streaks all over my jeans as I was moving some stuff around in anticipation of the great Washing of the Lab Floors scheduled for tomorrow. Ugh! I have NO time to wash these before the weekend, and I need to find some clothes to wear while I run around with the high schoolers on the fall retreat. This is not good. I may be doing laundry tonight at midnight. I don't know how in the heck I'm going to get my pants dry by tomorrow at 4p.m. as dryers are not an option because they shrink all the jeans that are hard enough to find in a length that covers my ankles. Perhaps I'll need to sacrifice my longest pair and hope they don't get too small.

BUT - can't bring me down, because THIS MORNING IT SNOWED!!!!!! It wasn't much, but it was LOVELY!!! Gentle while flakes that were hardly noticeable fell onto my windshield as I drove between car places and then to work. YAY YAY YAY!! Winter is on its way!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

good start on gifts

Between games and while lounging around with my teammates at the hockey tournament, I got a good jump on my holiday knitting, which, by the way, is now part of Alison's Holiday Knit-a-long.

My teammates gazed on as I brick patterned the poncho until I ran out of yarn (one ball finished!! Yay! Three more to go.).

Then I picked up the sock yarn and cast on "with Pickup Sticks" as one teammate teased - sock is now going nicely. I realized a little bit into the ribbing that it's going to be quite difficult to get both socks to look the same. It's self-patterning yarn, and sadly it doesn't seem that the two balls I bought start at the same part in the pattern.

Maybe Dobby's single-sock fashion trend will start to catch on...? (The fuzz in the picture is Zeke, who is currently very grumpy due to the appearance of a new food that is supposed to make him feel better since he's been showing symptoms of being allergic to his regular food. He has been eating around the new kibbles and crying a lot.)

And that reminds me - I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night! This is certainly worthy of being mentioned on knitting day since there is so much knitting in the HP books (and movies!) and since now that I'm not reading about Harry on the bus, I can knit on the bus. Those Christmas presents should be done in no time (in theory)!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

the tournament

I have just returned from the Strongsville Tournament! Unfortunately the team didn't do so hot, but I think it was a good experience for us - we were playing against teams that I know we have the potential to match or beat, but we (at least I) haven't been training with that in mind. I had a pretty good time, which is always what's most important, I think. Brett Hull, one of my favorite hockey players, once said, "If you can't play with a smile on your face, something's wrong."

The tournament left me a) hungery and b) tired. To satisfy my hunger, I went to my all-time favorite pizza place, Donatos, which hasn't existed in my neck of the woods for about 7 years, and ate nearly an entire medium pizza on the drive back to Pittsburgh from Strongsville. ! Back in Pittsburgh, I entered the house, put the rest of the pizza in the refrigerator, and fell asleep for three hours, during which time I had a dream that Mickey Mouse played on my hockey team.

Friday, November 11, 2005

a few funnies and a lesson

This weekend the hockey gals and I head out to Strongsville, Ohio, for a tournament. I was checking out the tournament website and found that one of the teams is called the Florida Beaches. I kept wondering in my head why in the world a team would want to have such a stupid name. Beaches aren't ferocious...they don't DO anything... Finally I said the name out loud and realized why it was accepted as the name for a women's team. Call me Slow.

The second funny things is that I finally found that Disco yarn I had lost. Last night about about 11 I realized that I need to go into work on Sunday night, thus I will need my access card...and I haven't been able to find THAT for several weeks, either. Thus began my search through my bedroom, my home office space, my mail pile, and my purse. As I was searching for the card I ran across tons of other things I've been wondering about...a knitting gauge ruler...my savings account record book...some lip balm...and the yarn! In the end, both the yarn and the card were in the places I thought they would be, although I know I had looked in those places for those items several times before and couldn't locate them. Now I have more yarn and am happy. And I have my access card and can work late. Not exactly HAPPY, but useful.

This afternoon I went to the PhD thesis defense of a classmate named Mike. I was very struck when his advisor said that Mike always had an optimistic attitude throughout his graduate career. It didn't surprise me that Mike did this, since he's such a happy and upbeat person. But it's also because he is always a happy and upbeat person that I was so surprised - I would never have guessed that his work had been frustrating and fruitless until January of this year!! What a lesson for me... I often advise people with that old saying "attitude is everything," but I very infrequently heed my own advice. My current attitude at work is that it's never going to work and this is a stupid project and why can't I have picked an easier thing to study. Mike would look at the situation and say "Here's a problem. I need to work that out. Go." So...c'mon, Ruth -- GO!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

i need your help: desktop vs. laptop

With the predoctoral fellowship I received earlier this autumn, I have been allotted money for a computer. I purchased a new laptop computer two years ago and thus don't have an exceeding NEED for a new one, but it would be nice to not have to transport the lappy back and forth between work and home. So I'm considering using the money to get a new one.

On the one hand I'd like a second laptop. It would be newer, so it could conceivably replace the one I have now when (if is more like it, I hope) it goes caput. I could keep the second laptop at work and then bring it to the places on campus where I would use a laptop - for presentations, mostly. I suppose I could also use it in the library, but I never go to the library anyhow. One thing the new guy would have that the current laptop doesn't have is a built-in wireless internet connection. That would be useful for those trips to the library or for at a scientific meeting where they usually end up having free wireless. I would want it to be rather small to aid in portability.

But on the other hand, a desktop would allow me to get more for the money. Obviously it wouldn't be portable, but it could have more memory, be faster, potentially have a DVD burner... Not that I really have much need for that. But...it would be nice, right?

I'm way confused. I want to make a good selection that will last me for several years to come. However, perhaps my current laptop will last me for several years to come! I haven't had any issues with it yet (knock on wood).

Oh, the wondrous readers of my blog, though you be few and far between, what thinkest thou? I like Compaq computers - but have you had a great experience with another manufacturer? The University can buy me a Dell or a Gateway for cheaper than the average person would have to pay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

uuuugh - work

Ah, work. I don't know what I'd do without some type of work, but there are many a moment when I would rather be in a different type of work than the current type.

The new "developments," if you would like to call them that, at work are as follows:
  • It appears that the protein blots I've been using to try to detect protein in the gut of mice were not working at their most sensitive level due to ancient reagents. This is semi-good news in that it is possible that all the negative data I've gotten since July is actually positive data if the experiments were to be performed with new reagents. The bad news is I need to do all those experiments with the new reagents. Not too terrible, but annoying. I sure hope that this gives me something useful!
  • The mice I've been immunizing for the past couple months have absolutely no immune response. The leading theory on why not is that the adjuvant that we are using is crappy. I have my doubts, but since when does my opinion count? I don't have a very good alternative hypothesis, either.
  • Another theory about why we don't get good immune respones to our vaccine is that our delivery vector contains so many of its own proteins that the vaccine protein that it is delivering is in too small a quantity for the body to see enough of to make a decent immune response. Thus, I will soon be starting a new set of vaccinations in which I compare the response to the protein itself versus the protein with the vector. I've often wondered what would happen if we immunize with just the protein, but it's never been done in our lab. I'm happy to finally be able to do it.
  • Currently I am testing mice to see what happens to the natural bacteria in their gut when we feed them antibiotic and then our vaccine vector, which is also a bacterium. I think that nothing will happen - that the vector won't colonize and start showing up in the feces, but...we'll just have to wait and see. I hope it does what I expect, otherwise we've got a couple extra issues on our hands with the whole vaccine thing.
So, if you were interested in an update on my work, there you have it. And update on my Sims: I haven't visited them much recently. Too busy or too knitting. Adam did manage to head off to college, though, and he is now a sophomore majoring in something like mathematics, I think, and keeping up an A+ average. Go him! He blew all his scholarship money on clothing, which was sort of stupid and could have gone instead to rent for non-dorm housing. Oh well.

Back on the homefront, Jimmy and all the gals are trying to make and keep friends so Jimmy can get a promotion at work. When he and Mackenzie got married, they had 17 family friends. Now, between the six family members in the house, they have a combined total of 8 friends - and one of them is Adam!! That shows you what happens when couples have babies...good-bye friends!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

knitting lessons and a second chance

I finished the scarf that will soon be shipped to my friend Angie in Colorado! I want one, too! But let me tell you something: knitting scarves is BO-RING!! I can easily see where people who learn to knit and then are shoved a ball of yarn and told to make a scarf would become thoroughly discouraged. It's not difficult by any means, but it sure is tiresome and not very exciting or daring. I am quite glad that my first project was NOT a scarf, because I probably would not have liked knitting so much.

However, even if I would have made a scarf at the get-go, I would probably have given knitting a second chance. I gave a yarn store a second chance. Remember when I had that bad experience where I felt extremely pressured to purchase yarn that was way out of my budget? Well, I considered staying away from that shop forever, but when I found out that the owner was a friend of a friend, I realized I should trudge back on in. So I set out - with the intention of really buying something - accompanied with birthday money and a desire to purchase yarn for friends for Christmas presents (some scarves, even, knowing that I don't need to make them in totally yawn-inducing garter stitch). I walked out with two types of sock yarn, some multi-colored natural-ish hued yarn for a poncho for a friend, more furry yarn for presents, and some fun tweedy pink for a sweater for me.

I am forcing myself to bury away the tweed until I've finished Christmas presents and the Starry Night sweater (which got zero work done on it this week) and I've given a bit more attention to the Aran pullover. I'm also saying adios for a while to the Brown Sheep Wildfoote purple sock yarn - will eventually become a pair for me! - and am instead going to focus on the Fortissima Colori Socka self-patterning yarn to make a pair of multi-colored socks for someone special for Christmas. I started a swatch with it yesterday and can tell I'm going to enjoy this yarn! I might have to go and buy some for me... (Note, this would give me a pair of many-colored socks that indeed WOULD go with many things and would thus expand my outfit options when I am down to the bottom of my sock drawer!) But not until after I've also finished the poncho, which will take some doing since I need to figure out what sort of stitch pattern I like for it. In the meantime, I also intend to squish out a couple scarves for gal friends from some furry and metallic something-or-other yarn I bought plus some Disco that I got for free in the mail and forgot I had until yesterday. I actually have a gigantic spreadsheet of what I'd like to knit for many different friends, relatives, and co-workers...but I think I won't be able to finish even half of them, so I'm not making any actual gift goals. If I get that poncho and even one sock (not the whole pair...) done, I'll be happy.

Do you know anyone who takes a day or two off work each holiday season to spend the day baking? I'm thinking I might need to do that for this gift-knitting.

Monday, November 07, 2005

a goose egg

My hockey team and I travelled to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a game against the Kent Twisters in one of my favorite rinks, the Kent State University rink. In truth, the rink's facilities really stink - for example, the locker rooms are ucky and half of them are up a flight of steps. But, I love the charm of the place. All full of old wood, paneled walls all over, and my favorite part is the amazing fire place in the middle of a sunken sitting area.

Good news - we won the game after a very long fight. The game was scoreless until the middle of the third period. We managed to score a second goal, and thus we ended up winning AND I got a shut-out. Hooray!! It wasn't the toughest of games I've ever played, but keeping mentally in the game was a struggle. It's hard to stick with it sometimes, especially in a long game, which this certainly felt like.

Yay for us, team!! We head to Strongsville, Ohio, this coming weekend for a tournament. Lots of games, lots of competition. Lots of fun???

Friday, November 04, 2005


Is it bad when you select your day's wardrobe based solely on the color of the only pair of clean socks you own?

On the schedule for this evening:
  • do laundry
  • knit scarf
  • read some more of "The Goblet of Fire"
  • attempt to do all three at once
Oh, and since I entitled this post "socks" I should mention that I'm considering learning how to knit socks. Might go sock-yarn shopping this weekend with some birthday money.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

feeling sad twice, once for no good reason

(I cheated a little and actually finished this on November 4, but I wrote most of it on the 2nd and 3rd so dated it as such)

So this might be a little long and not make a whole lot of sense, but bear with me...

Yesterday I mentioned some thoughts inspired by coffee on the bus. ...Let us look in at the scene: A tired but cookie-filled young woman sits semi-sulkily on the bus holding a cup of coffee in one mittened hand and a journal article about a new anti-viral drug in the other. Her stop is coming up, so she stuffs the article into her huge purse - she hasn't really been understanding the words her eyes passed over anyways. The bus stops. A young man enters the bus. He is wearing a faded coat, carrying a foil-covered dish, and looking pleasant as he puts bills into the fare machine. Don't ask what, but something about this man makes the woman pause...and want to cry.

Here she is, fairly grumpy over having been left by the previous bus, sitting with her warm cup of expensive and unnecessary coffee, taking the bus with a bus pass that costs her absolutely nothing except bearing the title of "graduate student," which means she probably works way less and gets paid way more than the man she has just encountered. Doesn't she realize that everything in her mildly enviable life has been handed to her? Money to spend on frivolous things, the option for laziness at work, a car, clothes, friends, a family that cares, an education.

I think of a song that came out years ago by Everlast called "What it's Like." It states, very wisely..."You know where it ends it usually depends on where you start." So true, so true.

Actually...let me pause there and reflect on that statement a little bit more. Excuse the tangent:
  • This is true for your socioeconomic standing. I (the one on the bus with the coffee in case you didn't notice) was born into a suburbian family, grew up with suburbian money, went to suburbian schools, long to live in a suburb again - basically, I was fortunate enough to begin with more than I needed for life. Other people are born into different situations - poor parents give birth to poor babies who grow up with in resource-poor homes and get educated in poor schools, etc. A generalization, I realize, but wouldn't you agree?
  • And what about religion. Recently I had this discussion with someone (I've had it before over and over again...) - a person grows up going to church or temple or synagogue or nowhere and tends to adopt the religious beliefs of his or her parents. I feel there comes a time in everybody's life when they stop and say "Hey, wait a minute - why is it that I believe these things I say I believe?", and upon further investigation they realize that they never really thought much about those things they grew up knowing to be true, never considered that possibility that they might be wrong or not the best possible way. But if people don't stop and think much about it...they'll often just jump back on and say "Well, it seems to be working okay, so I'll just keep doing it the way I've always done." I know, this isn't what always happens, but often 'tis.
Back to the point.

Instead of having a cushy life like our ungrateful "heroine," the man on the bus probably has worked hard all day, all his life. He probably is satisfied with the warm food he hungrily sniffs through the foil as he takes his seat on the bus. He probably is looking forward to arriving home so he can eat his hard-earned food - he hasn't been disillusioned into demanding that he eat it on the bus right then and there or been spoiled into being able to waltz into a talk about a line of work that has nothing to do with his own to grab coffee and cookies at 4 in the afternoon on any given day (I was cookie-filled because I went to a talk on predator-prey relationships between a few species in the Rocky Mountains...and there were cookies so of course I HAD to eat some). He has so much less, but he is wonderfully content. Not only that, but he is satisfied with himself because he knows he has done good work and has done it with integrity.

So, that's "the way it is" that was revealed to me on Monday. So what? Well, I was overcome with guilt about my disgusting ability to take everything for granted, for one. But, I realized it wasn't really enough to KNOW that unless it spurred some sort of change so I won't have to feel that way again. And so, in the end, I was stuck. Because what am I supposed to do? Work diligently, sure. But what else? Give away everything I own? Help inner-city kids with their schoolwork? Not drink coffee? Not eat cookies?

Is it possible to truly ENJOY the luxuries of life when you know you don't deserve them? I often would have answered that the answer is just the opposite - you enjoy them more when you DO realize that you don't deserve them. But what about that GUILT, that overwhelming sense of "this is not fair - I should not be enjoying myself when there are so many people suffering"?

That's the end of that thought. In the end, I supposed I decided not to think about it anymore. More questions than answers. And no, I didn't suddenly become disciplined and 100% productive at every moment at work.

One thing I really do not like about the internet is that people who communicate on it are very capable of not telling you so very much about themselves. For example, it drives me nuts when I find out from a website that something is deeply troubling somebody I care about, but they fail to mention what that deeply troubling thing is. Such is the case right now. It makes me worry and have a vey active imagination all of a sudden. "Maybe this happened, and that led to this - and then (oh no!) x, y, z occurred!!" or "Well, I'm sure whatever it is really isn't that bad, because if it was, the person would explain it more or at least call me and tell me about it." or "I wonder if I did something to make this person deeply troubled. Oh dear. What could I have done? How ever can I fix it if I don't know what I did?"

Probably when people do this online the rest of the story is known by the people who have caused the deep troubling (although sometimes I can't be too sure, since I've been involved in cases when one party is utterly oblivious to the other party's upsettedness), and they're just telling those people that they're upset. It's like an inside joke. But it's not a joke. It's serious. An inside-out joke?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Lots of fun working on the Starry Night sweater this week, especially as it has gotten cold (and then gotten warmer again, but it's chilly at night). I'm currently about halway done with the chest chart, which means nearly 75% of the front and back are finished. Doing some cheap math, I figure that's about 37.5% complete. Doesn't seem so great, to tell the truth. Suppose I'd better just keep on knitting!!

However, I started a gift for a friend that I gotta get done soon, so I will be working diligently on that instead. It shouldn't be too much work - it's a garter stitch scarf, but it still requires work. I wager I could get it done by the end of the weekend if I gave it some effort. I lost lots of time that could have been used for knitting it yesterday when an annoying series of events occurred...the bus I take during Standard Time (because it's dark and scary when I get dropped off on the regular bus) drove past me at 7:40p.m., which was already 15 minutes after it was supposed to stop and pick me up. The next bus wasn't due for another 40 minutes, so I stomped back to where the Daylight Savings Time bus picks me up, which happens to be right in front of a Starbucks. Being that I was angered at the unstopping bus and that it was Halloween and distinctly autumn, I dropped in for an overpriced pumpkin spice latte to soothe me. As soon as I stepped out of Sbucks, the DST bus arrived, and so I had to hold the latte on the ride home instead of using my hands for knitting. In the end, the latte did me good, and it was involved in another series of events within my head that I'll discuss later...

I'm thinking about stopping all work on the Monk Bag. A few other people have told me what a waste of time it is to knit. I do need a new bag, however, since mine is falling apart in several places. Guess I gotta pull out the sewing machine and fix up the current bag and wait for bag-making (or buying?) inspiration or motivation.