Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fellowship Revisited

This past weekend was the annual American forum of the Europe fellowship thing I did this spring. It was great to see almost everyone again. I was one of 16 people and 10 of us showed up for the forum.

The forum was kind of like the fellowship: going to meetings all day, not all of the topics were interesting to you, so you had to figure out how to stay awake (surreptitious stockingnette knitting in the round, which I can do without looking, under the table really helped), lunch meetings, and late nights.

The forum was held in my city, so at least I could go home, spend some time with my husband, and sleep in my own bed every night. I had to leave every night at about 11:30 so I could be home by midnight. I know I missed some partying, but that's okay. Some times I felt like "But I'm gonna miss something fun! I don't want to miss anything good!" But then I realize driving home dead tired would be really stupid and dangerous.

Besides, these forums are held annually in the US and in Europe, so I'll see these people again, and to see new people too. It's not like this is the one and only chance I'll ever have again.

All in all it was a really good weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The week's not getting any better

Just got the call from the temp agency that the accountant they had been sending us turned out to have a criminal record, regarding fraud.

Let me repeat that: the accountant, who deals with our money, who had access to our social security numbers, who had access to the bank information, has a record of fraud, of cheating people or governments out of money. Gah!

This is just too bad. I really liked her, and she worked hard, and she gave me answers I was looking for, and I had thought about hiring her permanently.

The temp agency will be sending someone else from now on.

And I will be looking to hire someone permanently and will be sure to conduct a background check.

Since I'm working on the budget, I'll add a line item to pay for background checks.

I'm going home, going to have a beer, do a little knitting, and then go throw pottery.

The week started by reading in the paper that someone I know in a similar work situation has been arrested for fraud. Then I spent Monday with the treasurer of the board who wants the budgets presented in all different kinds of ways. By the way, the fraudulent accountant came through with all the answers. Then yesterday I got a call from a funder placing severe restrictions on how we are to spend their money. Then this morning was spent defending the budget to the full board (at least it was only a handful of people). And now this. And it's only Wednesday!

The week isn't over. I wonder what's next. I'm buckling up for the drive home today.

"Lesser" Harry Potter character quiz

Take the survey and find out which lesser character you are - I turned out to be Bill Weasly - "I'm cool, really cool"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Got my Ravelry invite!

Finally got my Ravelry invitation and set up my profile over there as redisforpassion.

From what I've heard on knitting podcasts and blogs, Ravelry has real potential for becoming a real time sucker. I have a little trepidation about that, but I've started anyway.

I envision using Ravelry mainly as a place to see how other people's knitting has turned out, to see if I really want to make that pattern or not. And to see how other people have used X yarn. Maybe it will help me figure out what to do with all that Manos I bought in DC over the weekend.

It couldn't last

Long story short -- A situation that I willingly turned a blind eye to for a year has come back to bite me. Now I will have to figure out a solution. Which will require more money, of course. Sigh.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fell down and went boom

I had a great time hanging out with Sister. We stayed up past 1am talking, drinking wine, and looking at magazines. She's renovating her condo, so she was all into the Blueprint and Real Simple magazines I bought.

Food summary:
Friday dinner: Korean. Saturday brunch: leftover Korean. Saturday dinner: Chili's. Sunday brunch: Dim Sum.

I so need to get back to the gym.

I had my knitting going of course. I really cranked on My So-Called Scarf, and have almost finished one ball:

Saturday we were going to have the Korean massage but we decided to go shopping instead. I wanted to visit a yarn shop and Sister wanted to go to Ikea to scope out living room furniture.
Before we went, I drew out a floor plan with measurements, taking into account things like location on A/C unit, height of window sills, etc. I also took measurements of her existing furniture. She didn't buy anything and was rather disappointed that the perfect piece wasn't available.

As for the yarn shop, we went to Aylin's Wool Gatherer, the only yarn shop listed in Sister's town's yellow pages. It was very well hidden, and I have to say, the staff gave lousy directions over the phone. But once there, I fell down and went boom. They had a 15% off sale, so I went nuts buying:

2 skeins of Manos del Uruguay 119 Adobe: 4 skeins of Manos del Uruguay colorway 111, Eclipse. You might be able to tell that 2 skeins are lighter than the other 2. Here's one skein of Malabrigo Purple Mystery (it's really darker than seen here) and 2 skeins of Manos del Uruguay 117 Violets 1 skein of Malabrigo in Tiger Lily: 2 skeins Wildfoote sock yarn in the Bluegrass colorway 1 ball of Jo Sharp Silk Tweed in color 124 Jewel. I had taken a stack of my knitting books, mostly from Interweave press, and told Sister that since Bi-colored Cables cardigan wasn't working out so well, that I'd make her something else. She liked the Paisley Shawl from Folk Style, but wanted it in a deep eggplant or russet red. I told her to pick out a color she'd like and I'd use it as reference when buying yarn for her shawl. So she chose the Jo Sharp. Maybe Knitpicks or Elann will have something appropriate.

I also offered to make Sister's boyfriend something and he liked Ela's Favorite Hat from One-Skein Wonders. He was wearing dark red and grey at the time, so maybe I'll make it for him from a skein of Manos in Bramble, like My So-called Scarf above. He doesn't use scarves, which is too bad because then I'd have one winter present done. Ah well.

What will I do with all that yarn? I don't know. Maybe a bunch of scarves. I'm really enjoying My So-Called Scarf. I'm also thinking of making another Argosy scarf. I told Husband that I went to a yarn shop and bought a lot of yarn. He said he erased that message as soon as he heard it.

All in all, a really fun weekend. And in 2 months, I'll be seeing them again for Thanksgiving. Perhaps I'll have fixed Bi-Colored Cables by then.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sister's Birthday -- Pig!

Tomorrow I fly to DC to spend the weekend with Sister. It's her 36th birthday, meaning she's done 3 Chinese zodiac cycles (12 years each), so that's something. But the 60th birthday's the really big one. It means you've lived 5 cycles, and back when the average life span didn't quite reach that far, doing 5 cycles was really something special.

I'm not sure what's planned other than going to the spa on Saturday. Sister warned me that it's a Korean spa which is really, really exfoliating. Hm.

I'm taking her Bi-Colored Cables cardigan, gorilla sleeves and all, to pin up how it should really fit on her arms. Then my options are to cut and sew up, as if steeking, or to re-knit. If the cutting and sewing doesn't work, I may end up reknitting anyway. At least I'll know how many stitches wide to knit it.

I'm also packing the Manos So-called Scarf in Bramble and the Pagewood Farms sock yarn in Crayon (much more pastel than shown on the site, even more than the Pretty Pastels colorway) I got at Knitch last night. I'm playing around with it now, doing a So-Called Scarf swatch on size 8 US needle.

By the way, it's the year of the pig.

Heard the Yarn Harlot, finished Honorine

I tried to explain to Husband who the Yarn Harlot was, and why I was going to see her. She doesn't teach people how to knit, but it's more knitting commentary, like all those sports analyst shows where 4 guys will sit around and talk about sports and not actually play the sports.

Yesterday the doors to the Hilan Theater opened at 5pm. I got there at 5:30ish and there was a line out on the sidewalk. It was all women, all white women, as far as I could tell. Out of the crowd in the theatre, I saw only one black woman. And there was me.

Before Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot came on, Knitch raffled off some prizes. As I knit on Honorine, I balanced my raffle ticket on the knitting and tried not to knock over my wine. I was concerned that someone in the row in front of me would win, jump up, knock over her chair at the thrill of winning 2 skeins of Malabrigo, and knock over my wine. Didn't happen. Nor did I win anything.

The Hilan Theater seems to be more set up for live music performances because there were three levels, 2 bars in the open space, concrete floors, a rail for putting drinks, and they had to set up rows of folding chairs for us. I sat in the upper level, three rows back, and couldn't see anything. Which in the end was fine, because most people had their eyes on their knitting, not on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. The e-mail from Knitch said that there were 700 confirmations sent out, but it looked more like 250. But I'm no gauge of crowds.

I'm looking forward to seeing what she posts about on her blog about her trip to Atlanta. She did mention at that the Atlanta airport, in the ladies' room, she ran into Vickie Howell of Knitty Gritty. Makes me wonder what she was doing in town.

YH was funny, and talked mostly about how people don't understand knitting and knitters. A lot of what she talked about has been covered in her books and her blogs, so I won't discuss too much of it here. One of my favorite lines was "There are no machines that shear sheep, so every single skein of yarn started with a man with a seriously pissed off sheep between his legs. In my mind, he's a sweaty, shirtless Australian named Mick."

I really liked her discussion about the ability of knitters to change the world, using the example of Knitters Without Borders, her effort to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. It brought tears to my eyes because as the primary fundraiser for my organization, I really would love to be able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual donors, as she has.

And I had to laugh as she compared fundraising to knitting, each requiring small gestures repeated over and over and over, ad nauseum, to create a beautiful, useful, and larger whole.

The first shift of book signing was changed to occur at the theater and the second shift at Knitch. I was in the first shift, but didn't get her to sign my books. It was getting late, I hadn't had anything to eat, the space was crowded and confusing with people trying to line up for the book signing, people trying to leave, people trying to get to the bathrooms. I got crabby so left. To go to Knitch to shop.

The store was full too, which didn't help my mood. What did help was fondling all the yarn. I did buy some hand painted sock yarn (don't remember the company now) to make another So-Called Scarf, nevermind that I haven't finished the first one. I'm really liking the stitch pattern. Mainly, I was there for some bamboo circular needles, which they keep behind the counter, so if I have to stand in line for needles, I might as well buy some yarn and make the wait worthwhile. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

When I got home, I showed the yarn to Husband who saw that the skein of 450 yards of machine washable, hand painted yarn was $20.50 and asked what are you going to make with that? I said a scarf. The colors are pale but not pastel, mostly light blue with some pink, light green, and then blips of chocolate brown. I'm trying to branch out from my usual jewel tones and primary colors.

Then I finished Honorine before bed. Now all that remains is to send it through the washer and dryer and it'll be ready for wearing. Pictures next week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yarn Harlot tonight

Going to see the Yarn Harlot tonight, as arranged by Knitch. I have Honorine with me and My S0-Called Scarf. I started the scarf last night with Manos del Uruguay in Bramble just in case I finished Honorine and needed something else to work on. Not likely, but I am prepared.

Congrats to Natasha

Just got the e-mail from my friend Natasha had her baby, Ava. Natasha was three months pregnant when we did our Europe trip and it must have been the world's easiest pregnancy. She didn't have any morning sickness and managed to stay awake during all the meetings. And some of those meetings were really boring.

Her due date was September 20, so yesterday I mailed off the orange and ivory baby blanket I made for her, a children's book about Georgia O'Keefe "My Name is Georgia," and a sticker depicting a Portuguese hotel. Natasha had gone to Lisbon as her southern city, when I went to Rome.

By the way, I love those Laughing Elephant stickers. I have several packs. I keep thinking I'm going to paint papier mache or wooden boxes and decorate them with the stickers. I have the boxes already. But between the knitting, crocheting, and pottery, don't know when I'll get around to it. However, they work well as that little extra something when giving gifts.

I had forgotten how nice it is to shop for gifts and package them up. In this day of online shopping (which I love, see the link), it's still such a nice thing to go to stores to shop, wrap them in paper, handwrite notes, slipping in a little extra, etc.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still tired

I took yesterday off from work and just slept in until 10:30. Such bliss.

The afternoon was spent throwing pottery. I would start with 8 or 10 pounds of clay, but would lose at least a pound during the centering process. The clay comes in rectangular blocks and I cut smaller blocks from it. Well, it takes a lot of upper body strength to smack a corner-y piece into a relatively rounded piece. Once on the wheel, it took even more strength to squeeze it into a centered cone, scraping off a pound or so of clay in the process. Then I could begin to open it up, pull it up, and shape it into a bowl or jar.

During my four hours there, I've made a couple of tall jars with lids, a medium bowl, and another big bowl, but I'm thinking I'll have to cut about an inch off the top (there goes another half pound). It's thin and weak with airbubbles. When I trim the bottom, I'll have to turn it upside down while leather hard and let it rest on that thin rim. Not a prospect I want to consider. I left the bowl on the batt so next time I go, I can pop it back on the wheelhead and it'll still be centered.

I've got about 5 pounds of clay scrapings that I'll harden up and then wedge (knead) up. Then I can throw it again.

Today, I'm feeling it in my pectorals, biceps, deltoids, and elbow joints. But I'm happy. Any day throwing pottery is a good day.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sooooo tired

The board meeting is over. It was pretty good, we've set direction for the next 5 years, with good achievable goals, blah, blah, blah.

And now I am sooooooo tired. But I need to type up all the notes from the last couple of days before I forget everything.

The flip charts are taped up all around the room, and I'm going to just sit in the middle and just transcribe them.

But first, I will reset my brain by reading the news and knitting on Honorine a bit.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What's so funny about peace, yarn and pottery

My apologies to Nick Lowe.

I've finished the baby blanket for a friend and am still feeling the crochet vibe. So I've swatched these, using the "Big Round" pattern from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks:
The cluster stitches in the middle make me think of cupped flower petals.

One of the things in my Knitpicks order is a yarn guide that you wear on your finger. It's supposed to help stranded color knitters keep the different yarns separate. However, I'm going to use it to keep the yarn off my skin. When I crochet for a long time, the yarn sliding across the top of my tensioning finger gets to be quite uncomfortable and eventually a little groove gets indented into the top of the finger.

In other news, I've made progress on Husband's afghan, finished one more blue stripe and have wound the yarn for the next blue stripe. Then I will sew the stripes together, pick up stitches on the left and right and knit the side stripes.
In the past, the sewing together was not fun for me, but now I rather like it.
And I've cut off ridge row at the bottom of the Honorine sweater and have begun knitting down. It's just stockingnette in the round, which some people hate, but I love because it's just mindless knitting. I wonder if I could get away with knitting at the board meeting this weekend.... Maybe I'll work on it during lunch and they'll see that I can talk while eating and knitting, and then it won't be so bad during the rest of the day. I did knit during a Georgia Progressive Summit meeting while one of my board members was there...
Anyway, next Wed, Sept 19, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, will be in town to speak. Honorine will the be perfect project to take along.
Wednesdays are my pottery class. I have been loving it. We are learning to make very large wheelthrown objects. Usually my pieces are about 8 inches tall, and use 5 pounds of clay. In the first class, I threw a jar at least a foot tall, using 8 pounds of clay, and yesterday I threw a huge bowl (that's me, the bowl lady) using 10 pounds. And all 10 pounds put up a fight, but I got it done. The bowl's at least a foot tall and 15 inches wide. I wanted to make my mother-in-law a huge salad serving bowl and I think I got it.
I really like Mariella, the instructor. She's got a lot of energy and not very rigid. I've had instructors who say there's only one way to do this or that, but Mariella's not that way. She thinks imperfections show that these pieces were made by an individual artisan, and not stamped out by some machine. I like that attitude.
I'll miss the next class because of the Yarn Harlot, but I'll go to Mariella's Monday afternoon class instead. Because this weekend will the weekend of work so I'm taking Monday off. I'm going to sleep in, have a cup of coffee, and then go do pottery for as long as they'll let me. I have some pieces from the spring quarter that have yet to be glazed. And I'll have to buy another bag of clay, since I've used up the entire 25 pound bag in just 2 sessions.
It will be bliss. There is nothing better than throwing pottery. You have to focus just on centering the clay on the wheel, and that centers you. Then in pulling up the clay and working on it, you have to pay attention to what the clay tells you. All your motions have to be smooth, deliberate, and slow. You have to feel the clay and make sure you don't push it too far that it weakens and collapses. One instructor said "the enemy of good is better."
In the end, if you do it right, which isn't hard, you get a piece that's beautiful and useful, and peace in your day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekend of work

This weekend is my organization's board meeting. I'm actually really looking forward to it. Last year, the board of directors started a new strategic plan process and this week we will pick up where we left off.

I have high hopes that it will give the org a good, strong direction, especially regarding advocacy. We're often asked to participate in coalitions to create social change, but until the organization, that is the board, lays out an advocacy agenda, I can't confidently step up and say Yes, my org will do this, or sign that petition. I have my own opinions about all these issues, but I know that they don't always coincide with the opinions of the board of directors.

The thing is, the people who made up the board last year, that set the general parameters of the strategic plan, are all gone. Either their terms ended, or they resigned. So we kind of have to back track and make sure that the current agree with what the previous board did. Certainly, the new board members were recruited because their past activities showed that their values aligned with the strategic plan.

As part of the orientation for this weekend, I'm going to give a longitudinal review of our programs. I've asked the staff to review their programs from whenever it started and summarize in one place all the activities and successes. Then I'm going to put it on flip charts and we can see if all our activities align. This may be the first time that we've done this in 12 years.

The poor advocacy staffer has been on the job about a month, and already she's reading through old reports and trying to make sense of past activities that she has never participated in. Complaining Employee of course is complaining about how hard it is to dig through old reports that admittedly were not recorded very well. That's pretty typical of grass roots organizations -- record keeping is not a priority, doing the damn program is. And frankly, don't we all avoid doing paperwork when we can?

All the staff are digging through old, incomplete, and disorganized records, not just Complaining Employee. So suck it up! There's a drama queen in very group, I swear.

At lunch one day, we were talking about friends who aren't really friends, and everyone had stories about friends who are self-centered and drama queens who stress you out, to the point that you have to sever the relationship. I said There's a drama queen in every group, very studiously not looking at Complaining Employee. And Complaining Employee agreed, talking about one of her clients as an example. I wonder if she got the point.

Anyway, the other big thing I'm hoping for this weekend: a renewed and committed board that will grow to include more members. Our goal was to grow the board to 9 people: 5 in Atlanta, 4 nationally. What we have now: 4 members, where the board chair is the only one not in Atlanta.

One big obstacle for some potential board members is the requirement that they raise funds for the org. And yet they have all these ideas about what the org should be doing. Where do they think the money will be coming from? It doesn't fall from the sky! I have to go out and find it! I'm the only one who does any fundraising for the org!

When I was the fellowship for the European exchange trip, I was like "Really? Little old me? Are you sure? I didn't do a national youth get out the vote campaign and speak at the Democratic National Convention like the other fellow. I certainly wasn't smarty-pants valedictorian and now professor and director of university think tank. Wow, I'm out classed here."

But now, especially as I'm developing next year's budget, I think "Hey! I raised over half a million dollars! Every damn year! I stepped in when the org was floundering and kept the doors open. My plan was to straighten out this org, institutionalize a lot of the things that were done ad hoc, get a record keeping system in place, and make it strong enough to continue for the next 10, 20 years and beyond, and then hand it off to the next person. Damn straight I deserved that fellowship!"

The fellowship is on my mind because at the end of the month, the org that sponsored the fellowship will be having their annual stateside conference and I've been finding speakers for it. Half the people I did my trip with will be coming and I'm really looking forward to seeing them again.

But first, I have to get through this weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Red shoes

I still want red shoes. I want red, high heeled, look-at-me shoes (not to be confused with f-me shoes). Some thing work appropriate, fun, and comfortable.

Instead, I bought more yarn ($45.28 worth from KnitPicks and qualified for free shipping!) in yes, red, and black, and the new Folk Style book. Dare I make and wear the red skirt on the cover? We shall see.

The Honorine sweater continues apace. One elbow length sleeve done, the other almost done. Then pick up and knit the neckline, and then lengthen the bottom. It's just too short, so following Grumperina's advice, I'm going to cut off the bottom few rows, pick up the stitches, and knit down.

I remember reading about her doing this to something she made and e-mailed her to ask. And she was so sweet to e-mail me back. So I practiced on my swatch and now feel ready.

Off to a meeting. I wonder if they would mind me knitting. It's an afterwork meeting, with progressives, they should be okay with hand crafts, right?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fall shopping

It's still above 90 degrees, airconditioning weather, but I started pulling out some of my fall staples: wool pants. They need time to air out before wearing. I've actually been wearing my silk and cotton sweaters and wool skirts all summer.

After mowing the lawn, then recuperating by watching 2 hours of the America's Next Top Model marathon, I was inspired to do some fall fashion shopping.

I started at Kohl's to scope out the new Simply Vera line by Vera Wang. Nothing I would wear, other than the black skirt, but I already have several. I was really looking for flat front pants I could wear to work. Being petite, finding pants is hard enough already. I guess I'll just have to go back to Talbot's for that.

I was hoping Vera would come through for me, but she didn't. Well, Simply Vera just started. Maybe in the future, she'd remember us shorties.

Next up: platform shoes, which I've been wanting for a while. Well, I tried some on and came to the conclusion that platform shoes look ridiculous on me, as I secretly suspected. First of all I looked at myself in a full length mirror, which you know never lies. Secondly, they were not comfortable. So that's that.

I comforted myself by going to Ross next door and getting several silk/cotton V neck sweaters for $15 each. I got all my usual colors: red, medium grey, black, and white. If only they also had cobalt blue, emerald green and lemon yellow, too, I'd be set for the rest of the year!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Brothers on the Move

Brother One and Brother Two are 2 living examples of this NY Times article about Gen Y's mobility.

In August Brother Two moved from Baltimore to New York City. This weekend Brother One will be moving to Los Angeles. Brother Two found a job in NYC before going. Brother One's first task in LA will be to find a job. They are 31 and 30 years old, smack in the middle of the demographic discussed. Both are unmarried, not dating, no pets, just themselves. They have absolutely nothing tying them to Baltimore or Atlanta, so why not move?

It's such an American thing to do. If there's no opportunity here, move on.

What Do Young Jobseekers Want? (Something Other Than the Job)

EARLY this summer, Joshua J. Pelton decided that he was meant to live in Orlando, Fla. So he quit his sales job in Detroit, packed his car with all the belongings that fit, put the rest in storage, and drove southeast daydreaming about sundrenched winters and packed nightclubs.

“I didn’t have much of a plan, but I knew I wanted to be here,” said Mr. Pelton, 24, who, in his emphasis on where he lives rather than what he does there, is typical of his generation.

Time was when applying for a first job meant papering the country with résumés and migrating wherever the best offer might lead. But this latest generation of graduates has already shown itself to be a peripatetic bunch — traveling more widely and moving farther from home for college.

Add to that the emphasis that Gen Y puts on quality of life — perhaps more than any group that has come before — and it would follow that Gen Y looks for work differently, too.

“To our generation, it doesn’t make sense to have a great job in a crummy city,” said Mark Van Dyke, 25, describing his decision to move three years ago from the suburbs of Chicago to Bellingham, Wash., where he worked low-paying retail jobs before finding one in marketing, at Logos Bible Software. It was all worth it, he said, because his new hometown is “on the Pacific Ocean but driving distance from snowboarding on Mount Baker.”

Sixty-five percent of 1,000 respondents aged 24 to 35 who were asked by the Segmentation Company, a division of the marketing consultant Yankelovich, said they preferred to “look for a job in the place that I would like to live,” rather than “look for the best job I can find, the place where it is located is secondary.”

They also told researchers that places must be safe, clean and green. The most-cited quality was tidiness and attractiveness (78 percent) followed by “will allow me to lead the life I want to lead” (77 percent).

Urban leaders are increasingly courting young workers, because as baby boomers retire, Gen Y will have to fill the gap. Across the country, cities are scrambling to become the place that recent grads want to be.

In the last decade only 14 urban areas nationwide saw more of these workers move in than move out: Las Vegas; Austin, Tex.; Phoenix; Atlanta; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Salt Lake City; Portland, Ore.: Denver; Orlando; Nashville; Dallas-Fort Worth; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; and Greensboro-Winston Salem, N.C.

How to join that list? “That’s the question all our members are asking,” said Carol Coletta, the president and chief executive of CEOs for Cities, a Chicago-based association of urban leaders.
Her group financed the Yankelovich study, titled “Attracting College-Educated Young Adults to Cities.” Its advice? Spread the word that you are, in the words of the report, “clean, safe and green.” Those qualities won’t seal the deal, but without them, this age group won’t even look.
This philosophy is leading cities to market themselves aggressively to young workers. Orlando, for instance, paid for its own investigation to find out what they want. The results convinced the city council to authorize $1.1 billion in July to build an arts center, an event center and to upgrade a sports arena.

Boston’s mayor set up a task force to poll young adults about their needs, and intends to have their answers inform his development plan. Memphis and Philadelphia, in turn, have created programs (called Mpact in Memphis and Innovation Philadelphia) that woo college students and young professionals, in the hope that they will feel socially welcome and politically connected, and stay.

Those who set their sights on a particular city, however, are not always looking for something that can be built or marketed. Many choose on a gut feeling.

Joy Portella had a “life epiphany” about two years ago, at 33, and decided to leave Manhattan, even though it is the center of her profession: international development. If she were deciding on just a “career move,” she said, she would have stayed in New York or moved to Washington, D.C. Instead she chose a counterintuitive path and headed for Seattle.

Her move was “liberating,” she said. “Before, all my moves had been initiated by things I had to do — jobs or academic programs.” She decamped to Seattle out of desire alone, and now has a job she loves as the director of communications for Mercy Corps.

Ms. Portella knew little of Seattle when she decided to make her move. But she did have a job offer, having spent a year searching from 3,000 miles away.

That is not true of everyone. Mr. Pelton arrived in Orlando with no job prospects. He had sent out résumés while still in Detroit, but received no response. “I found that it’s much easier to find a job when you are in that city,” he said. He now works in group sales for the Walt Disney World Resort, and said the city fulfilled his hope that he could reinvent himself there.

“I can do my regular job, then I can go be a pirate at Magic Kingdom, or watch fireworks every night of the week if I want,” he said. “Growing up in Michigan and staying there, I had an image. I was the good quiet kid who did well in school and was always responsible. Here, I like to be a little wild on the weekends and go to the clubs.”

Casey Blalock, 24, is about to take the same leap any day now, moving from San Francisco to Seattle without a net. “I’m not looking to reinvent myself or find the meaning to life by moving,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “But I do think I’ll get to know myself better. I plan on finding a new job, volunteering, cooking, reading, hiking and enjoying a crumpet down at Pike Place Fish Market.”

If it doesn’t work out, she knows she can always set her sights elsewhere. Because an age group mobile enough to pick up and move once is just as likely to do so again.

Alan Caudill, now 31, moved from Pittsburgh to San Francisco five years ago, when the Internet start-up that employed him was floundering and he and his wife of two months realized they had never loved Pittsburgh.

“San Francisco culture was more us,” he said. “I haven’t been to an Applebee’s, eaten fast food or drank a Coors Light since we moved here (and I’m finally able to get a real burrito).”
While Mr. Caudill has found a job he enjoys, in software management at another start-up, he has also found that he enjoys the adventure of starting anew.

“We’re thinking of doing it again,” he said. “In the next few years we’re debating moving either elsewhere in the country — we love D.C., and Manhattan, and have family in Cleveland — or Europe or Latin America.”

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Found my waist

It may seem strange that I've lived almost 37 years and just discovered my waist. For some reason, I thought my waist was where my belly button is, in the space between the bottom of my ribs and the top of my hips.

Then I started knitting the Honorine sweater with waist shaping and really looked at myself. Most patterns are not made with petite, short waisted people in mind, so I knew I'd have to amend it. I also borrowed How to be a Budget Fashionista by Kathryn Finney from the library. She had a tip that to find your waist, bend sideways, and where your body creates a crease, that's where your waist is.

That's when I realized that my waist was actually right at the bottom of my ribs, about 1.5 inches above where I thought it'd been. Hmm.

So what does all this mean? It means that I really am very short waisted and should really only shop in the petite section. It means that empire waisted dresses really are my friends. It means that I should shorten all the tops I knit, and don't have to buy as much yarn.

Now I wonder what else I've been clueless about.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What price art?

Went to the art fair in Marietta Square today. It didn't seem that good this year. I saw a lot of artists from the other art fairs this year, including the Folk Art festival from last weekend. Didn't buy anything.

There was a lot of pottery, but I didn't buy anything, since I'll be starting pottery classes next week. I've been making pottery for probably 5 years now, but really, all I ever make are bowls. At the art fair, I was mostly drawn to the bowls, but I did see some raku boxes that were very cool. I had planned on going back to that booth but forgot. Probably just as well.

There was a weaver, which was new. And 2 knitting vendors. One sold scarves, ponchos, and shawls from ladder yarn. She was asking $90 for a scarf. She said the yarn was from Italy and Germany. Okay. I've gone to Michael's Arts and Crafts and gotten one ball of nylon ladder yarn for about $7 and made the same kind of scarf.

Of course, I'm not counting my time, which is actually the biggest cost. I don't know how many hours I spent actually knitting, because for me, the actually process of knitting, of making something with my two hands, is the biggest pleasure for me. However, let's use the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts as an example.

The book estimate that the scarf takes more than 8 hours to make, so let's say it takes 10 hours. So 10 hours of knitting x $5.15 an hour minimum wage = $51.50. Then add in the $7 for the yarn, the $5 for the needles, and we're up to $63.50. The vendor has to add in some more cost for ice packs and aspirin from knitting too much. So let's bring it up to $70. There's also the cost of renting the tent, the display booth equipment, a bit of the cost have to be built into the price of each piece, and then in the end, the vendor has to mark it up to actually make a profit.

Hence the $90 scarf. Which I won't buy. But others will, because they either can't knit or rather not knit that and use their knitting time on something else. Certainly I have bought pottery, even bowls, because I know that even though I could make it, I probably won't.

I have learned that lesson. Just look at my knitting queue, which I add to all the time. I just won't have time to make all the things I want to. So either it doesn't get made at all, or I go ahead and buy it, actually get to enjoy it, and support an independent artist.

The other knitting vendor sold felted purses for $100+. They were nicely lined with inner pockets, a key holder thingy, nice straps, etc. But again, I thought "I can make that! And I have made felted purses." And I'm thinking of making another, bumping it to the head of the knitting queue. It'll be easy portable knitting.

After Honorine gets done. More than half way there. Progress pictures later, when the sun it out.