Thursday, March 29, 2007

The smell of the nightmares, the roar of the stress

I promised a pic of my new glasses when they came in and here it is! I was hoping the jaunty angle would show the fact that, while the outside of the frames are black, the edges and inside are hot pink! Too cute! But it didn't really show up in the photo. And I colored my hair last night so I'm not embarrassed to be seen in these parts.

I like them. :)

Do you have anxiety dreams? You know, the kind where you realize that you've had to return to school and pass an exam, but you didn't know about it until the day of the exam and there's no way you can pass it and you run around freaking out trying to find a solution to this improbably dilemma? Or you find that you've come to work and forgotten most of your clothing so you try in vain to find some way to get home with no one seeing you? Yeah, those.

I've had many anxiety dreams over the years and they're usually something like what I described above. But now I have a new brand of anxiety dream. I've named them the "You're On!" dreams. Let me explain.

Last spring, I performed in a musical at my alma mater, Columbia College. It was a three-woman show called Honky Tonk Angels and it was great fun. We put it together in a week, though, so it was a particularly fast-paced, stressful kind of fun. We only had three performances and then it was over. After so much complete immersion, it was just gone. I like to think that maybe this is why it has begun cropping up in my nocturnal life.

Tuesday night (the day after that big exam), I had my fourth "You're On!" dream since I did the musical. They're all slightly different, but the general premise is the same: We're doing the musical again. Right now. Don't remember all your lines? Don't remember the words to all your songs? Yeah, you're totally screwed because you're going on right now. And the first lines of the entire production are mine. And I can't remember them for the life of me. And I keep hoping and praying that there's some sort of theater magic which will kick in and I will suddenly remember everything right when I need to and that it will be a bit like riding a bike or driving a stick shift. That maybe, maybe I have a deep, hidden Honky Tonk Angels Autopilot tucked away in me somewhere. So far, I haven't gotten to find out, because the dreams never get that far. They focus on the frenzy before I actually hit that stage; I wake up before I actually get there.

We could analyze these within an inch of their lives, talk about how I stress myself with procrastination and how this is my mind's way of telling me to stop it or it's way of dealing with the unnecessary anxiety I feed it with my bad habits. But let's not. Because, "Duh!" I torture my brain and it tortures me back. Let's just commiserate about how we all do this to ourselves and the fun and interesting forms these dreams take.

Wanna share?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Yesterday, Lady Linoleum showed us her crafting places and bid us do the same. I decided I would show my stuff, even though I needed to clean first, but I didn't! I'll just let it all hang out. Although, now that I see the pictures, it's not very exciting... Oh well, here goes!

This is where most of my stash lives -- in plastic totes in my front closet which is ginormous (the closet, that is -- this picture doesn't even show half of it):

There's yarn in all those, really there is:

These bags are going to be turned into plastic yarn one of these days...

There's a little more stash in one of my clothes closets (there's mostly fabric in those totes):

My books (when they're put away) live on the bottom shelf of this bookcase in the living room:

The crafting chair with crafting end table and crafting floor:

Growing up, this was the chair that my dad always sat in and fell asleep in every night in front of the news or Johnny Carson. It used to be a really skanky green color. Now it's mine and it's warm and cozy (and no longer skanky green!) and makes a really familiar creak if it rocks and swivels at the same time. It's an awesome crafting chair. :)

Okay, I've shown you mine. Who will show me theirs?


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I made a snowflake this week, it's just that with the exam and everything, I didn't get it posted. Well, okay, I didn't even get it blocked, but I suppose that's minor. So here, utterly unblocked and perched on my awesome lime cutting board (Target Dollar Spot, baby!), is this week's flake, one day late:

Ah yes, the exam. Well, it's over! Not the best exam I've ever taken, but not the worst either. We'll see what the grading is like. Everything else is going really well this semester. Even if I do poorly on this one exam, it certainly won't be the end of the world.

Totally off topic: Have you had your Cadbury Creme Egg yet this year?? I have a long-held tradition of having one every year before Easter (I guess I just can't wait until Easter, once I see them on the shelves). One. Because one is about all I can stand in a year's time. They're good but, egads, are they sweet. Do they make anyone else's teeth hurt?

Mmmmm... Sugary fondant fake egg yolk...


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Progress, with a side of procrastination

Some things never change.

I have a big exam tomorrow and I can't quite get in the mood to study for it. I'm sure it will be a long night, but I can't say that I'm overly worried about it. I'll save that for two o'clock in the morning. Ah, well.

The two days I was home sick last week were mostly spent sleeping and coughing while trying to sleep, but I did get some crocheting in there, too. I am now happily half done with the Crazy Quilt Coverlet! The second half will probably go slower though, due to hopeful non-sickness, though I do hope to get several squares done in the van next weekend to and from a conference. We'll see.

So far, it looks like this:

Doesn't it look right at home there? Alas, that's not its final destination.

Studying. Yeah. I'll get right on that.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

On the mend

My cold is getting much better. I went to school yesterday and didn't cough very much in the morning. Then I had a seminar class in which a friend was presenting. Of course, that was when I had a horrible coughing fit. And when I excused myself to have my coughing fit out in the hall, I twisted my ankle and slammed into the wall. Yes, I'm grace personified. The rest of the day I was fine. Of course.

It is hazy and foggy today. It's burned off a bit since I took this photo and the forecast is 59 F and sunny. We'll see. I have a huge exam on Monday that I must study for, so I won't get to enjoy the weather much. This school stuff is really cramping my weather enjoyment and handcrafting style. Galdarnit anyway.

In other school-related news -- even though there is another week left of my rotation, I have gone ahead and joined Dr. Karrer's lab. So, be prepared for five years of Tetrahymena updates. You'll feel so smart by the end, you'll want a doctorate, too.

Must study -- but first, Whad'ya Know?, coffee, and crochet. Then study.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sicky, sick, sick

It's just gotten worse around here. Yesterday was the worst -- I couldn't sleep more than an hour at a time because I would wake coughing, drowning in my own mucus. Yes, I know, it's disgusting. Thank god you didn't live it. Then I got a fever, probably because I wasn't getting enough rest, what with the drowning and all. So I stayed home, tried to rest and not hack up a lung, and am staying home most of today, too. Although, I present my findings at lab meeting tomorrow (such as they are) and I have many questions for my prof before I can do so. Argh.

It's warm and bright today. Wish I could enjoy it more.

I know. Pity party.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Artoo Update

If you'd like to know if there's an R2D2 mailbox near you, you can check the partial list of cities that the Star Wars website posted, or look at the Frappr! Map of R2 units that is constantly updated and completely unofficial, yet probably pretty darned accurate. Happy hunting, if you're so inclined!

Still coughing, but Look!! Artoo!!

Thanks to all the well-wishers regarding my icky chest cold. Alas, I'm not better.

But! Thank god for ADD! Look at what popped up on my campus and has totally distracted me from my misery! (Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, on my way home last night, I walked right by this and didn't notice it. Because in part of my brain, seeing a random R2 unit on the street just isn't that weird. Analyze it all you want.)

Had you heard about this? I had, and was way excited that there was one within walking distance for me to fawn over!

It's right by the engineering building on Wisconsin Avenue, which is only two buildings away from the life sciences building so, practically right by where I work!! Sorta!!

The boxes themselves bid you check this out. And there's this, too.

Happy. This just makes me so freakin' happy.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Crochet and coughing

I seem to have taken a chest cold. Harumph.

I did not leave my apartment the entire weekend (except when I took my Saturday Sky photo). I sat around, crocheted, listened to NPR, coughed, and watched some free movies on CinemaNow. I actually wasted a bunch of time trying to crochet a Tetrahymena keychain, but I can't find a way to make cilia that don't look like crap. A common crochet conundrum, I know.

I'm not sure that this is strictly how I'm supposed to do it, but I crochet my snowflakes for Snowflake Mondays over the weekend and show them on Mondays. So, while feeling sorta crappy this weekend, I crocheted Noel Nevin's #1 (the pattern does not have a picture). When I was done, I was surprised to find it was a five-point flake, as I had been expecting a six-pointer.

I looked at the pattern again and, lo and behold, it is a six-point pattern! My cough medicine-addled brain completely malfunctioned. After a heavy sigh and a little giggle, I tried again.

Oh, much better!!

I also took a little chunk out of one of my WIPs -- the Crazy Quilt Coverlet. I started this about two years ago and have never gotten very far. But I will be finishing it soon, galdarnit!!

Here's the progress so far...

I love the colors in the afghan. I think it's going to be really stunning.

Alrighty then. Must find expectorant. ::hack, hack, cough, cough::


Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick Sky

I couldn't sleep last night and finally gave up at 3 am and got up. I remembered that Hegarty's was going to open at 6 am for St. Patrick's day, so when I went down to take my Saturday Sky photo, I popped my head in to see if anyone actually showed up that early. Oh my. Yep, people were there, drinnking green beer or Irish coffee and eating green eggs and ham. Too early for me, kids. But I took my sky photo just as the sun was breaking over the skyline:

It promises to be a bright, if chilly, day for the St. Patrick's day festivities.

I don't have anything in particular to do this weekend. I'm thrilled beyond belief. I'm sure I'll need to nap since I didn't sleep last night, but otherwise I can do whatever I want. That will involve handwork, I assure you. Also, maybe some cleaning and working out.



Friday, March 16, 2007

Knit and basketball

I attend a "basketball school". Marquette has put itself on the map due to its inclusion in the NCAA men's basketball tournament over the past several years, and the subsequent success of Dwayne Wade in the NBA. So, when Marquette plays in the NCAA tournament, they throw a big party at the Union Annex. And because I want to get the most out of my Marquette experience, last night I attended this party.

We played Michigan State in the first round of the tournament and, how to put this delicately, we stunk it up big time. Michigan State whomped us. Although, I think we established the title of only team to ever score all of their first half baskets from the 3-point range. I think we only had about a half dozen two-pointers in the whole game. It was crazy. That, and we didn't score at all in the first 8 1/2 minutes. It was brutal. But! I got free pom poms out of the deal! There's always gotta be a bright side.

On an unrelated topic (yet sort of related, purely by chance), I have to rant for a bit about a certain type of fellow knitter. You see, I took knitting with me to the party. Just a plain cotton dishcloth, the kind I can knit without looking at it at all; the kind I always knit while watching sporting events or award shows. While we were waiting for our food, an older woman came around asking if we'd like our faces painted. When she saw me knitting, she immediately said, "Oh, you throw". Now, to the non-knitters out there, "throwing", also called "American" technique, means you knit by controlling the yarn with your right hand, and actively wrap the yarn around the needle during each stitch. It's the way most Americans learn to knit. The other main technique is called "Continental" and means that you control the yarn with your left hand and basically use the needle itself to wrap the yarn around for each stitch. There's a little waggling of the index finger for purling, but you get the general idea. Now, it may just be me, but it seems that many times it is implied that only novice dumbasses "throw", and experienced, or "real", knitters knit Continental. The face-painter was one of these. She went on and on about how Continental was so much better and I would never want to throw again once I learned it. I tried to be gracious while trying to get her to shut up -- I wasn't in the mood for a knitting lecture and tried to inform her that I just wanted to knit as I could without looking -- the whole point of bringing the dishcloth to knit while watching the game -- and that I could knit Continental, just not without looking. She finally gave up and moved on. But I was rankled.

I am kind of a solitary knitter and everything I know about it I have taught myself from books or articles on the internet and I like it that way. For the record, Continental does offer an economy of movement and speed over throwing, and I would like to become proficient at it, if only to have an alternate technique in my repertoire. But I'm not yet proficient at it, and I feel clumsy and awkward when I do it. Mastering it will require practice, and when I'm trying to watch a game while knitting is not the time for it. If I do master it, it may very well be that I prefer it to throwing. But as it is, I am a very proficient knitter and turn out some lovely items using my lowly little technique. And if I do switch to primarily knitting Continental and come across some other knitter who is throwing, I shall ask about her project, compliment her stitches, and generally have a nice chat with her (or him). I will not mention what technique she is using because who the F*** cares????? Knitting is a hobby, a form of relaxation, and a means to and end -- lovely handmade items to keep or give as gifts. It is not a competitive sport. I will not become a party to making it such.

Yarn snobs and technique snobs. I daresay the community would be better off without them. But then, I'm just a novice dumbass -- what would I know??


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oh, baby baby!

Last night I decided a little change was in order. Isn't the new layout cute and festive? I like it. :) Mad props to Mela and her creative template skilz. I could probably make a cute layout myself if I learned just a little more CSS, but I'd rather spend that time crocheting and knitting, so I'm really thankful that people like Mela offer such great stuff to the masses for free. Yay! Spring-y! Yes, I'll admit, I was sorely tempted by the Hello Kitty layouts.

I also made the second pair of baby booties last night. Same pattern as the last ones, different yarn. I like the contrasting cuff on this pair.

So, two cute gifts done. Now I can get back (again) to my WIPs. I swear I'm going to say that for the rest of my life.

I'm trying desperately to get some results that I can present at the Midwest Protozoology Meeting in St. Louis at the end of this month. I'm afraid it's not going to happen. I shouldn't be too upset -- it's extremely rare to have a poster during a rotation, but I was really hoping that my project was straightforward enough and relevant to Tetrahymena researchers that I could pull it off. Oh well. I'll keep trying for the next week. Maybe I'll be surprised.

Now my blog has little bugs like my lab does! Different bugs, to be sure, but! Bugs! Yay!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Almost forgot

Happy Pi Day!!!

March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14

Sorry. Thought I might as well spell it out. :)


Oh, baby!

Next week there is a baby shower for the two people in my department who just had / are expecting a baby. So I whipped out the baby yarn stash and got things together to make booties. I made one pair last night:

It's a pattern that I've made many times before, SLK Designs' Baby Booties Pattern. I like it because it's very gender neutral, quick to make without looking too simple, and I once had a mother tell me that they actually fit baby feet (which, let's face it, are more like little fat balls than anything remotely foot-shaped). I like these best when made with Bernat Coordinates because the boucle nature of the yarn kind of fills in the holes and adds some interest to the sea of rows of double crochets.

I don't want to make both pairs just alike, but I'm not sure I have a yarn I will like for this pattern as well as the Bernat (and I only have white in that). This evening I'm going to try a few things. I'll keep you updated.

I know you're trembling with anticipation.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Fancy Star Update

FYI, I found an error in the Fancy Star Snowflake pattern (in row 9) and have corrected it. I really do go over these things carefully before I post them; I guess sometimes it just takes some time away before I can see them. Anyway, it's fixed in both the blog post and the PDF. Sorry!


Too blind for modern convenience

No flake. I suck.

On a completely unrelated note, and as I mentioned earlier, my glasses broke a week ago. They broke in spectacular, unmendable fashion. Which was okay, actually, as I needed a new prescription anyway and this was merely incentive to just go ahead and take care of that. Today I finally had my appointment with the eye doctor. I went to one of those "glasses done in an hour" places because a) I don't have a regular optometrist up here yet, b) I don't know any optometrists up here yet, and c) I wanted my new glasses right now, immediately, today, thankyouverymuch. Plus, I come from a small town where we never had these new-fangled, big-city fancy-pants things like "glasses while you wait". It's a massive novelty.

Only, apparently, not for the likes of me.

See, kids, I'm blind. Okay, not service dog blind, but definitely "What is that slightly darkish smudge? My hand, you say? And it's right in front of my face? Hmmm." without my glasses. And while spectacles for mere mortals can easily be ground out in an hour, correction for nearsightedness of my magnitude requires ten days.

At least they gave me a pair of trial contacts so I don't have to wear the floppy, old, worn out pair I luckily found in a drawer so I could make it till the appointment. I'm very excited to get my new glasses, too. They're pretty cute. Of course, they were pretty cute with the demo lenses in them. It's always so hard to envision new frames with roughly an inch of plastic hanging out the sides, but I digress. When I get them, I'll post a pic.

So, the big city's not so fancy pants after all.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Egads, it's just about enough to make a scientist believe in para-crap...


Your Rising Sign is Aquarius

You are an interesting mix of introspective and outlandish.
Waving your freak flag high, you really do things your own way.

While you may seem distant, you care very deeply for humanity.
You just have no tolerance for fools, slackers, or dullards.

And while you're fairly misanthropic, many are drawn to you.
Innovative and clever, people look to you for new ideas and trends.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Science-y goodness

Did you know that Mr. Clean kills the most bacteria? Cokes rots your teeth the fastest? You don't run faster if you listen to "fast" music? That the five-second rule is bullshizz? That I'm too old to hear the silent ringtone?

These were the things I learned while I was a judge at a science fair last night. Of course, most of these experiments used far from stringent standards of evidence, so don't run out and buy some Mr. Clean right this minute or anything. But what fun to see 5th through 8th graders so excited about finding a way to answer a question!!

They were adorable, every one. I can't wait until next year.

Oh, wanna find out how old your ears are?? (scroll down on that page) Mine are quite a bit older than me. I'm going to view this as a good thing as it means there are apparently more annoying things I can't hear. Alright!

This is the sky in Beer Town this morning. Nothing too exciting. But I'll take the 48 degrees F that's forecast for today!! Woot!!

I'm off to the lab -- enjoy your day!!


Friday, March 09, 2007

Good as my word (don't get used to it)

In Monday's comments, I said that after I got through with my school-
related craziness this week, I would post the pattern for the
snowflake I made up last weekend. Well, I actually did, and did it in
a timely manner. This is not the way it usually works. Just so you know.

So here it is (props to Becky for the name, which I'm totally using
without asking her -- hi, Becky!!)! You can also get a PDF version here.

Fancy Star Snowflake


This can be made with larger yarn and a larger hook, or with finer thread and a smaller hook. The snowflake pictured was created with:

Size 10 crochet cotton
Size 6 (US) steel hook
sewing needle (eye just large enough for crochet cotton)

a good overview of stiffeners can be found at


Stitch guide:

Tr decrease: YO twice, insert hook in st indicated, YO
and pull up a loop, (YO and draw through 2 loops on hook) twice, * YO
twice, insert hook in next stitch nd pull up a loop, (YO and draw
through 2 loops on hook) twice, repeat from * once more, YO and draw
through all four loops on hook.

Ch 5; join with slip st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 6 (counts as first dc plus ch 3), (dc in ring, ch 3) 5
times, join with sl st to third ch of ch-6. (6 dc and 6 ch-3 sps)

Rnd 2: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc in next ch-3 sp, ch 5, dc in
same ch-3 sp, (dc in next dc, dc in next ch-3 sp, ch 5, dc in same ch-
3 sp) 5 times, join with sl st to first dc.

Rnd 3: Ch 4 (counts as first tr, now and throughout), tr in next dc,
ch 4, sc in next sc, ch 4, tr in next dc, (tr in next 2 dc, ch 4, sc
in next sc, ch 4, tr in next dc) 5 times, join with sl st to first dc.

Rnd 4: Ch 4, tr in next dc, ch 7, sc in next sc, ch 7, tr in next dc,
(tr in next 2 dc, ch 7, sc in next sc, ch 7, tr in next dc) 5 times,
join with sl st to first dc.

Rnd 5: Sl st in stitch to right, ch 4, * YO twice, insert hook in
next stitch and pull up a loop, (YO and draw through 2 loops on hook)
twice, repeat from * once more, YO and draw through all three loops on
hook, ch 9, sc in next sc, ch 9, (work Tr decrease in next tr, ch 9,
sc in next sc, ch 9) around, join with sl st to top of first st.

Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc in same st, ch 6, sc in same st, * ch 9, sc in next
sc, ch 6, sc in same st, ch 9, sc in top of next Tr decrease, ch 6, sc
in same st, repeat from * around, join with sl st to first st.
Fasten off and weave in ends using sewing needle.

Block and stiffen using a six-point blocking pattern.


Thursday, March 08, 2007


What is it about finishing a stressful project that makes me want to buy things? I don't know either. Well, buy things and eat. But my glasses broke on Sunday and I have to conserve funds for eyewear replacement. So, after I did my presentation yesterday and barely finished the big, last-minute homework assignment, NFVeronica and I went to Target (after we went to IHOP -- food is most important after all). Thank god for the Dollar Spot:

I got to indulge in totally unnecessary shopping that inclued 0% guilt ($1 apiece!!) and 100% cuteness!! The Hello Kitty makeup bag I will totally use, the little tote (made from the same stuff they use to make disposable lab coats) is just right for carrying around some handwork, and I have no use whatsoever for the little plastic whistle!! But, cute!!

So then we went to the mall (V's going to England and Morocco next week -- she needed some stuff) and I found a much cuter version of something I actually needed.

Problem: Too many keys that are way too similar.

Solution: Those little colored plastic things that slip over the tops and color code your keys. Right? Right.

But!! I found the totally fabulous product Monkeys!!! OMG Cute!!!

Now, not only are my keys color-coded, they are expression-coded (the gray one is for the workout room in my building -- lol!!), cuter than bugs in rugs, and I have the Monchichi jingle on constant loop in my head. Excellent!!

$5 for six. Not bad. So, for $8, and the price of and omlette at IHOP, I had a very fulfilling post-stress shopping spree. I am well pleased with myself.

Oh, and I didn't buy this last night, but I hadn't shown you. Hey, Sweetie, this is what you got me for Valentine's Day. You have great taste. ;)

Eyewear shopping will not be anywhere near as fulfilling.


Monday, March 05, 2007

I got yer flakes right here

I've been pretty busy with school, but I did manage to get some flakes done. The first one is #26 from 99 Snowflakes. I've done this one before and I rather like it. Simple, pretty, snowflakey.

Then I got a wild hair. I sat down with thread, hook, and no plan whatsoever, and just started in. The result is not fabulous, but it is a snowflake (even though I missed a picot -- oops!), as opposed to a big knot of crap, a mini-doily, or a zebra.

It's pretty geometric and not very graceful but, like I said, I just made it up as I went along. Maybe someday I'll make a plan and come up with something better. But I'll probably just stick with patterns for the most part. It was fun, anyway.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Weather for psychotic mimes

It's bright but snowy this morning.

Yesterday was all kinds of crazy windy. Great training for Shields and Yarnell, I'm sure, but icky for overly bundled-up students with big ol' backpacks trying to cross traffic. I would just get my balance for trudging against the gale and then, suddenly, it would change directions, causing me to stumble around drunkenly. Big hood and loss of peripheral vision did not help. At one point I inadvertently turned 90 degrees in the middle of the street because, while lifting it to take a step, my left leg was blown across my body and landed about two feet to my right, causing me to pivot towards oncoming traffic. You can't pretend you meant to do something like that. I haven't been outside yet today, but I'm hoping it's calmed down some. Yowza.