December 2007


Amidst world chaos and a vague sort of thaw, we are now moved.  Go us!  (Though really, mostly what I did was packing–the moving was done by others as I, uh, tragically had to work.)  Pictures will be forthcoming, I’m sure, eventually, provided the people from the cable company do their job this morning and don’t skive off because it’s snowing today.

…which is why I didn’t need to come into WP and see it snowing here as well.  I’m sure it’s festive if you’re in, say, San Francisco, but considering our snowfall totals here in WI this December are substantially above two feet (and growing by the moment out there), I’ll pass.  And will hum Pete Seeger.

Anyhow, yours truly hasn’t had much happen besides the move–I’ve read a few books that I should tell you readers, the Nameless Faceless Masses (NFM), about, namely Charles Stross’ latest, which is still fantastic even though the plot has just twisted like a Klein bottle.  Foodblogging will be non-existent probably until February, as you don’t want to know what the kitchen looks like right now, unless I can track down somewhere in Glasgow that still does fried Mars bars. Everywhere I asked back in ’05 didn’t, it gums up their fryers–if you have a recommendation, please let me know.

On the knitfront, I bought some inexpensive goldenrod-colored yarn (Lion Brand–real wool, though, and on sale!) to sort out the detailing on my brother’s fingerless gloves, which he really liked.  The embroidery floss just wasn’t flying; I can knit socks, but anything with one needle is just too fiddly, and you have to do it neatly because it’s light on a dark background, and…ugh.

I also got some crystal beads so that I can whip up Ice Queen as a stashbuster,* though I don’t know if I’ll keep it as it’s not the kind of thing I wear.  I am not a bead person nor a cowl person.  Maybe I’ll give it to my grandmother as a belated birthday gift.

So, NFM, tell me about your plans for New Year’s!

* What else am I supposed to do with that one skein of  laceweight merino that I bought on a whim a year and a half ago, at a store that no longer exists?

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Despite being an agnostic, I must confess that I am keen on certain bits and pieces of Christmas; I was raised with it and it’s just…well, one of those things.  Maybe it’s just that I’m tired of eating off disposable dishware, but this Christmas is decidedly lacking in oomph.  Bah humbug.

The holiday knitting has progressed, by the by; I’m nearly done with the brotherly item (Lane, if you’re reading this, you better appreciate it).  Which is one of those four things that I learned this holiday season: how to do Magic Loop, how to make hot buttered rum, that there can be a version of ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ that is not putrid,* and how to have Too Much Crap.  Oh, and the pleasure of not going to the mall after the end of November.

So now I’m amusing myself by trying to think of movies, films, books, shows, theatre…any story that has a holiday as a substantial plot point but is NOT in the ‘holiday’ genre.  Mostly, I’ve come up with RENT (thus the subject of this post), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, A Little Princess, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter.  Can anyone think of anything else?  (As a kid who came of age with Home Alone, I don’t quite see that as a Christmas movie, mostly because it was so culturally pervasive, but I won’t list that here.)

As for explicitly holiday genre, A Christmas Story beats everything.  With a compass in the stock.

* John Mellencamp in the A Very Special Christmas series.  You won’t believe it ’til you hear it.

Things around here have been rather mad lately, between life and the weather, but I thought I’d get to answering the questions of You, The Readership before I completely skivved off on them due to the ungodly equation of S = (h+M) if M = (m^n).* So, without further ado:

Lism asks: If I wanted to take up a bit of knitting, where would be a good place to start?
I have to put in a plug for Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller as a great book for smartass feminist types to start to learn knitting. It’s good to have on hand for all the basics. Knitty.com has great patterns for people of all skill levels, and interesting articles as well.
For Lism in particular, the women in the Glasgow city knits group on Teh Rav note that K1 Yarns in the West End and John Lewis in Buchanan Galleries are the best and most accessible yarn retailers in the city.

Eryn asks: Have you ever scrapped the ice with your driver’s license/credit card/ID? and If train A leaves the station at 10:00 a.m. traveling 60 mph and train B leaves the station at 11:45 a.m. at 80 mph, what color is George Washington’s white horse?
Actually, I haven’t, though I did ruin my second college ID trying to card open my door, back in ’05. Calling Public Safety was far too much of a PITA.
As for the second question, African or European?

Yulinka asks: Will you be blogging about cold weather-worthy cooking?
Yes, I will, in due course, and my apologies for neglecting my foodblogging friends–December, however, has been a crapshoot of late. Actually, I’ve been meaning to blog about my recipe for hot buttered rum, considering our hellish weather lately. It has a soporific effect, so be warned, but it is quite tasty.

To make one mugful, melt together:
– 1/2 Tbsp. butter (7.5 g)
– a few cinnamon redhots
– 2 tsp. (10 g) brown sugar
Stir this to make somewhat of a paste in the bottom of your mug.
Heat 6 oz. (150 mL) of water to near boiling, then add to the mug and stir very well. Wait a moment or two so that the water isn’t too hot, then add 1 oz (25 mL) of spiced rum, e.g.Captain Morgan, and stir again.
Serve immediately.

LadyJayde asks both me and Eryn: Have you broken said license/credit card/ID on ice?
Fraid not, though the above-mentioned ID was in quite a state afterwards. It got to the point where the library staffers had to paste a new barcode on.

Thanks for all the questions, and feel free to ask more, or comment as you like.  Also, a happy holiday or at least day off to all (however many that may be) of my readers!

*Stress equals holiday plus move, if move equals mess to the nth degree.

Those who say they like snow or miss snow, and have never dealt with scraping windshields and driving on messy streets, have absolutely no recourse for their statements and should be subject to scorn posthaste.  And they can scrape off my windshield.  And deal with three, count them, three snows in a week-long period.

Milwaukee County totally fell down on the plowing thing.  I’m sorry, but the ‘there was additional lake effect snow at 4 AM’ bit doesn’t quite cover the rubbishness this morning.  They usually do really well, and I was disappointed in them.

Really, we here in the upper Midwest like to pretend we know about bad weather.  (We do.  Just not in comparison to say, the Yukon.  We tend to get a little righteous about it, too, hence the above.)  It seems to be worse lately, though, swinging from one extreme to the other, and if I needed more evidence that something like global warming is up with the planet, that’d be plenty.

I mean, if it’s not global warming or something we’ve done, then what is it?  Aliens?  The wrath of the Global Standard Deity?

Oh, and for fun: Comment and ask me a question.  If it’s within the bounds of propriety, I’ll answer it in my next post.  You know you wanna.

A grab bag today, because my generation has a notoriously bad attention span and I have nothing too extensive to say, but things that I want to say regardless.  Never mind that I myself really enjoy reading long blog posts.

– It is really freakin’ cold out and will be for the rest of the week.  Yesterday it was not.  There was also snow and rain and wet yesterday.  Guess what this means for the driver’s side lock on my car?  Hint: It’s a logical progression.
Fortunately, the passenger side wasn’t frozen at all, and the lock itself isn’t frozen either.  Just the key mechanism.  If anyone has any natural advice for warming those, let me know, because otherwise I’m totally going to invest in some de-icer stuff tonight.

– Speaking of chemical solutions, the book of last week is Twinkie, Deconstructed.  Unless you cook all your food from scratch, you’re totally consuming a whole bunch of ridiculously processed stuff, it seems.  It’s inescapable, really surprising, and terribly educational.  Also, Twinkies aren’t as bad as people make them out to be, compared to everything else we eat.
The best part was learning that the brown part on Twinkies is actually the Maillard reaction from baking, and not just painted on to LOOK baked.  This came completely out of left field, in my mind.

– Tom Petty is the Super Bowl halftime performer this year, which is very exciting to me, the fan community, and all the other 55 year-old white baby boomer males in America.  I might actually watch the Patriots slaughter the Cowboys, then.  (Yes, those are my picks.  I’d much rather see the Cowboys get creamed than the Pack, really.)

– Apparently my college is going through its periodic racism problem, followed by community not-quite-dialogue that does nothing much but accomplish nothing, add white guilt to the mix, and cause people to be bigoted and stupid anonymously on the Daily Jolt, perpetuating the cycle.
I’m of the opinion that this won’t be fully sorted until society gets itself sorted.  However, that doesn’t mean we can’t work towards a better society.  This whole thing just isn’t the way to go about it.  I don’t know what is, though, except maybe going around with inflatable bats and whacking people on the head.

– I am hoping…HOPING…to get Shan’s Baudelaire socks done by the end of the week.  Hoping.  I’ve begun to turn the second heel.  These are some great socks, by the way–they knit up wicked fast, and I just may be a Cookie A. convert.  You won’t see them in the progress sidebar, by the way, as I am too busy to recode the whole thing.  Does anyone know where that thing that imports info from Ravelry comes from?  It would make my life easier.

– I am so excited about The Golden Compass that I’m rereading The Subtle Knife, which I didn’t really like as much.  I wish I had wee ones to take to the film.  Also, has it been that short a time since I was wee myself and reading the book at age 11?  Apparently not, as we’re here, nearly 13 years later.  I don’t care what the site says: my daemon’s totally a hawk.