Saturday, November 28, 2009

Snapshots from Thanksgiving 2009

First, the menu for the big day, which I made, for the first time. Usually Husband does the cooking.

1. 10 lb turkey
2. collard greens
3. sweet potatoes wrapped in prosciutto
4. cheddar garlic biscuits from scratch

That was plenty of food for 5 people. More than plenty.

Second the participants. Husband, of course, Sister, her fiance, and Brother Two. First Thanksgiving without Brother One who is in Taiwan with our parents.

Third, things I am thankful for, in no particular order.
1. Family
2. Friends. Those I see in person, those I see only on Facebook, those who have passed way.
3. Being employed, even as stressful as it is in these hard times. The unemployment rate in Atlanta is 10.4%. Thankfully, Husband's job is very stable and he's doing well.
4. Living in the new condo. I. Love. Living. Here.
5. Renting out the old house. The stress level would be even higher it we didn't have that taken care of.
6. Making pottery and knitting. I would be lost without some creative outlet.
7. Joss Whedon. As evidenced by many many posts on this blog, I have fallen down the Whedon rabbit hole. It had been quite an education in storytelling. He is incredibly talented and as I watch more of his stuff, the more critical I have become of TV and other storytelling. Critical in not a bad way. Critical in that I think more about what is going on and how. I have become a less passive consumer of popular culture. And the internet has led me to many blogs and websites that also comment on his work and other pop culture works that helped educate me more.
8. the Internet. Yes it's useful and informative, and you can shop! But it's also full of blogs of people who are interested in the same things I am. Blogs allow comments and encourage feedback and frankly I get a thrill each time I get an e-mail back from a blogger I've commented on or e-mailed. Or when I get a comment on my own blog. It's another sign that some connection's been made and I love that. And I like that a study has shown that the internet fosters connections between people, not isolation.
9. My iPhone. I love my iPhone. And not just because it allows me to read recaps critical commentary of shows I watching. I can also get on Facebook any time.
10. Facebook. I've reconnected with many friends and stayed in touch with many friends via Facebook. I really appreciate it because this year 2 of my friends passed away, and even though I didn't spend very much time with them, I was able to keep up with them via Fiacebook. And I was able to act as a conduit for a FB in NYC to offer condolences to the family of a mutual Atlanta FB friend when she passed away 2 weeks ago.
11. My health. People express thanks for it all the time, but it's true. Life is so much harder when you don't have good health. It's harder for you and for those around you. The only health issue I had this year was the 2 week cold and I felt like crap and able to do so little. I can't imagine what it would be like to operate like that all the time.

Fourth, the shopping. No early morning shopping trips for me. Sister, her Fiance, and I did go to Borders bookstore and Home Depot. At Borders, I got the Firefly DVD set for $20, normally $50. That was my big score of Black Friday. Later in the day, we went to Virginia-Highlands, an Atlanta neighborhood that's also where my favorite yarn shop, Knitch, is located. I spent an hours fondling yarn, but bought nothing. I was quite tempted, though.

So that was Thanksgiving 2009. I think it was quite typical of many people's Thanksgiving this year: time spent with family, eating, taking time to think about what we are thankful for, and some subdued shopping.

Hope everyone else's Thanksgiving was just as happy and peaceful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Atlanta sky reflected in facade of American Cancer Society building.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vacation starts today

Today, Sister, Sister's Fiance, and Brother Two come into town this afternoon. I'm taking the morning off and hopefully the afternoon too, but may have to go into the office to take care of some things.

I've spent the morning surfing the web, reading up on the links in my sidebar, and knitting on the Sunrise Circle Jacket. Right now, I am one row away from turning the hem for the right front. Then I knit the hem and all the knitting with be done.

Usually I will block the pieces before sewing them together, just to flatten out the rolled edges.
However, by blocking surface, AKA guest bed, will be in use. Maybe I'll put it away for now and work only on relatively mindless knitting. While the SCJ is all stockingnette, you do have to pay attention to the knitting because of number of stitches between Make 1s and the number of Make 1s varies on each row.

So, what to make? Options:
  • Modern Quilt Wrap with the colors here. Maybe the triangular shawl option I mentioned on that post. However, now that it's only one month till the California trip, it most likely won't be done in time for that.
  • Another scarf, a little triangular center-out fichu, from a skein of Soxie in the Blueberry colorway. I have a multidirectional Noro scarf going, but the yarn is very rough. I imagine it would soften with washing, but it's tough going.
I could also continue working on the Furisode Log Cabin blanket
Or add on a green border to the crochet blanket at top I started years ago. It's sock yarn from Mountain Colors, can't remember what color way. The burgundy yarn in Essentials sock yarn from Knit Picks. I also have ball of Essential in forest green.

As you can see, it's only the size of a sofa throw cushion. I have a long way to go yet to be a blanket, even a baby blanket, of decent size. Maybe Sister or Brother will want it as a cushion cover and I can quickly crochet a back to it.

ETA: Sister wants the crochet cushion cover. And I started a superwash wool scarf for Brother Two.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ups and downs, at least holidays are almost here

I've been blogging for a few years now, but it was only recently, in about the last year, that I've really gotten into it.

I use this space to write about the important and trivial things rattling around in my head. I've discussed issues like race, politics, gender, social justice, art, craft, TV, knitting, celebrity crushes.

This week has had more than the usual amount of ups and downs and the past few posts have been really serious. Can't get much more serious than death.

Friday was the memorial service for Errin which went from 11am to 2pm. Well, actually the service started about 11:45 but that was time spent sharing condolences with family, or reading the Facebook homages. After sharing my condolences with the family, I sat in the pew for 45 minutes, waiting. I watched other people in the "audience" share hugs, tears, memories with each other. I saw people I knew and could have approached them but didn't. I was shy. I was tired.

Husband wondered why I was hit so hard by the passing of someone he's never heard me talk about. Where to start? First, Errin was so young, only 35. Second, she was so bubbly, always so happy and upbeat even in times of stress. I mean, last time I saw her, she was just laid off, but still focused on the silver lining: she had her own consultancy business and had 2 job offers, even in this economy! Third, she did so much for the causes of women's rights and human rights (which is how I first met her) and did so much good in this world. Her being taken from us so soon is proof that the world isn't fair.

There were also the personal aspects that got to me. During the service people got up to share stories, memories. We laughed, and we cried. Whenever someone talked about how happy she and her husband were, it broke my heart. I love my husband so much and the thought of not having him, like Dana not having Errin anymore, just make me grieve for Dana. Or was it for my future self? At some point, Husband and I will be parted and I dread that day.

In other happy news (not), today is a board meeting where I'm going to ask the board to approve that we cut staff hours and hence pay, including my own. I know that I have the support of Husband so the impact on our household will not be as bad as in other staffers' households. But the fact is that the money just isn't there. Fundraising is just difficult across the board for all nonprofit organizations.

I am looking forward to this coming week, Thanksgiving week here in the US. Sister and her Fiance are coming, as is Brother Two. They arrive Tuesday and leave Saturday. I have the menu all planned out and will hit the grocery store on the way home from the office this evening. I wonder if that's wise...

This will be the first Thanksgiving without Brother One, because he is in Taiwan with our parents. The good news is that we will call for Father's birthday, which falls around this time of year. And Brother One has access to e-mail so staying in touch with our parents (and exercise their English comprehension skills) will be so much easier and cheaper than phone calls.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weird head space

Feeling weird today. Possible causes:

1. My friend Errin is dead, from a car crash yesterday morning. Having a hard time wrapping my head around that.
2. Had a couple of scotches from an impromptu memorial last night. Note to self, Glenlivit a much better scotch than Chivas Regal, my mom's drink of choice.
3. Trying to squeeze more money out of the work budget than is there.

Most likely, all of the above.

In a bit, I'll be off to meet a friend for lunch, then go to the pottery studio if it's open. I missed class last night for number 2 above. I waffled on coming to work this morning, but figured as long as I was up, I might as well. But taking the afternoon off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

goodbye Errin

Just found out my friend Errin Vuley passed away, killed in a car crash. She was 35 years old.

Errin always had a smile and she worked so hard for the rights of women and girls in Georgia. She fought for our reproductive justice: the right for a woman to not have children if she didn't want them; the right to have children if she wanted them; and the right to raise her children.

Errin livee her values of equal rights for all and was such a loving person.

I am going to miss her so much. I'm so glad I got to see her recently at a SisterSong conference. After the panel discussion, we sat in the corner at lunch and shared and giggled like girlfriends. She had just started a new job, had recently gotten married, was embarking on a new phase of her life.

And now it's all gone. She's gone.

So many thoughts ricocheting around my brain.

Husband's job as a lawyer is 90% about car crashes and he routinely talks about driving in Atlanta, or more specifically, being in a car in Atlanta as driver or passenger, being one of the most dangerous things you can do.

I haven't known anyone hurt or killed in a car crash, even as I've been in a few myself.

Also, just on Saturday I went to the dedication ceremony for the Phillip Rush Center: Supporting Atlanta's LGBT Community. Phillip was a friend of mine who passed away earlier this year. He was only 55. I wrote about it here.

I'm not religious, but I know that I've been really blessed to have known 2 such wonderful people, activists who really made a difference in people's lives.

I have so much to live up to.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wine and Knitting

Went to a wine tasting party last night, wore my Hermia sweater. Some one asked me if I had knit it and I said yes and it was so nice to have a conversation with another knitter.

We also talked about other things but mainly about knitting. We may have been the only people there who knew what Malabrigo, Noro Furisode, Ravelry, and Interweave Knits was.

The wine was pretty good too.

And I finished my Malabrigo Oceanos scarf. Just in time for the Atlanta 70+ deg weather.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Dollhouse Season Three

Yesterday it was announced that there will be no season 3 of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse and it just bummed me out. I've been trying to figure out why.

Yes, it's an uneven show but as I look back on all the shows I watch and even the ones that are popular, every show has it's ups and downs. On the whole I like it and want to know more about what's going on and explore the issue of identity, free will, and personhood.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, eh?

I think it's because I loved Firefly, it's still my favorite Whedon show, followed by Buffy. I just love the characters and the humor. I'm all about the smart and funny. Dollhouse has the smart, not so much the funny.

I'm in the midst of season three of Angel and and season 8 of Buffy so I'm just immersed in the Whedonverse. Thus I'm just bummed that Whedon's show won't be renewed.

I would like to see Dollhouse on Syfy or another a place on cable which is all about niche audiences. On the other hand, I would like the general discourse on network television move away from reality shows. I know, I know, network TV is a business, it's about getting advertisement in front of as wide an audience as possible. Dollhouse just wasn't making business sense to Fox and so they gave it 2 seasons and then will move on.

What I'm concerned about is what they will replace it with. Will it be more reruns/copies of Bones and House, 2 shows I don't watch? There is a ton of police procedurals and hospital shows on all the time. Do we really need more? Where are the new ideas?

Enter Glee which I finally watched last night. It is sweet and light and thoughtful too. Last night's episode focused on Artie the kid in the wheelchair and the fallout from the gay boy coming out of the closets. There were other subplots too that could have taken the show into "A Very Special Episode Of" territory but didn't.

Husband started off saying "it this show going to be crap, Crap, krap, or Krap?" this morning, he declared it not crap.

And from what I heard, last night's show wasn't really up to par with the other episodes. I thought it was pretty good, so I'm happy to find a show to enjoy, along with Leverage and White Collar, shows that I watch actually smiling.

Flashforward and Dollhouse I'll keep watching because they keep me thinking if not smiling.
ETA: I agree with this, from Time Magazine:
Don't get me wrong. I liked Dollhouse. I often loved it. And when I didn't love it, I loved what it was trying to do. It was the kind of very ambitious storytelling that TV should be encouraging. Through a difficult (maybe fatally flawed) premise, Joss Whedon told a complex story about the nature of consciousness and human (especially female) exploitation, and he did it in the framework of situations and characters far more morally ambiguous than any TV outside a few cable channels usually allows.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ebb and flow of marathon TV watching

Spent the weekend watching Angel the Series from Season Two episode 16 "Epiphany" where Angel sleeps with Darla but doesn't lose his soul to Season Three episode 4 "Carpe Noctem" where Angel's body is taken over by an old man.

That's 11 episodes of about 45 minutes each. All this while carving on my pottery.

I also read the liner notes from the DVD box set. Basically Joss Whedon says that they spun off Angel, but didn't really have an over arching theme like Buffy did. So they made it about anything and everything.

In this marathon watching, I liked Cordelia more and more. The pain from the visions are getting worse, and leaving physical marks on her, yet she's not willing to give them up. They give her a purpose and she wants to help the people in those visions. She's afraid that if she gives up the visions then her friends at Angel Investigations won't want her around. That a long way from the shallow vain girl at Sunnydale High School.

The side trip to Pylea was cute if a little cheesy. Fred's the precursor to River, the smartie who's a little scrambled in the brain pan. Cordelia's made princess, which she enjoys, of course, being restored a bit to her Queen C status of her Sunnydale days. And the Groosalug turns out to be quite the hunk and they fall in love. Still, in the end she gives it up to go back to our dimension.

In various episodes, people's loyalties are tested: Gunn between his old gang and his new gang; Angel fires Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn, goes dark but not all the way to Angelus, then comes back; Harmony comes to LA; Cordelia's tests have been discussed above; and even Lindsey makes a choice and leaves LA and Wolfram and Hart.

However, Lilah's still got a rival, Gavin Park, played by the gorgeous Daniel Dae Kim.

I'm liking this marathon watching and may try to do it with Lost, Battlestar Galactica, or Heroes. I've been reading reviews and recaps of those shows on Television without Pity or just other places. One of the benefits of marathon watching is that there's not a week in between each episode for me to wonder what's going on, how will it be resolved, or to nitpick because the next episode is immediately available and I get the answers soon enough. Plus the amount of info and details in the sheer volume of episodes pushes out the dumber details and what I'm left with is the overall arc of the story and character development.

I read the recap of this week's episode of Heroes on IO9 which was very snarky and read the comments too. The recap was pretty negative and some of the commenters said that it was excessively negative, as if the recapper was looking for things to complain about and not also discuss the good parts.

I think the general trend towards snarkiness makes it harder for shows because there are people out there who do write negative (and funny) reviews that can drown out the better reviews. In marathon viewings, the ups and downs of a show even out.

That's what I did with FlashForward. I went about 3 weeks without watching, then watched 3 episodes in a row on Hulu.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

carving clay

Husband's away to Pennsylvania for the Penn State football game, so I'm on my own this weekend. Last night, I stayed up until 3am carving on this bowl. Behind it is the inspiration for the pattern. I will choose a glaze that is translucent, so that the glaze that settles in the grooves will be darker.

I also really like how the clay gets lighter as it dries:

I was thinking of cutting a hole in the bottom to make it a flower pot, but I may keep it intact. Then it can be a bowl for serving food or holding yarn, or be a cache pot to hide the functional plastic flower pots.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Knitch, Atlanta's Purl

My favorite yarn shop, Knitch, moved to a new space, a storefront that's right on N. Highland. It's one big open space, with white shelves packed with yarn lining the walls. It reminds me of Purl in NYC.

Their inventory is a little thin right now. I imagine they held off on getting more yarn until after the move. Still, I had a 15% discount about to expire, so I got a skein of Malabrigo in the Oceanos colorway. It's a varigated blues and oh so soft, as Malabrigo is. I was drawn to the laceweight first, but figured I'd be much more likely to knit it up as a scarf before I'd make anything out of the laceweight. Still, the varigation in the laceweight was so, so pretty.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Civil Rights, But Just for Me

A must-read for anyone who cares about social justice and human rights. I posted comments on her blog, which I would have pasted at the bottom, but they haven't shown up on her blog yet. But do read the other commenters too, since not all of them agree with Tami. I originally got the post from Racialicious.

Civil rights, But Just for Me

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

I was going to begin this post be talking about Mohandas Gandhi. I was going to chastise Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and new leader of the civil rights organization Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), for her hateful pronouncement, recounted in The Guardian: “I know down in my sanctified soul that [MLK] did not take a bullet for samesex unions.”

I was going to point out that Gandhi, who is said to have inspired MLK, did not take a bullet for black Americans. His cause was the oppressed people of India. But the universal truth of his message–resistance to tyranny, nonviolence and the fundamental equality of all people–was as applicable on the North American continent as the Asian one. Bernice King’s father realized that.

How small and hateful and contrary to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi it would have been if, during the height of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, a surviving family member had proclaimed that “down in their souls” they were certain that Gandhi didn’t take a bullet for Negroes to ride on the front of the bus.

To my surprise, while doing a little research on the martyr known as “The Great One,” I discovered that, though time has cemented Gandhi in the public consciousness as a loving but determined champion for world equality. He may well not have supported civil rights for all marginalized people.

From Wikipedia:
Some of Gandhi’s early South African articles are controversial. On 7 March 1908, Gandhi wrote in the Indian Opinion of his time in a South African prison: “Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized – the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.”[14] Writing on the subject of immigration in 1903, Gandhi commented: “We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do… We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.”[15] During his time in South Africa, Gandhi protested repeatedly about the social classification of blacks with Indians, who he described as “undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs”.[16] It is worth noting that during Gandhi’s time, the term Kaffir had a different connotation than its present-day usage. Remarks such as these have led some to accuse Gandhi of racism.[17]


In 1906, after the British introduced a new poll-tax, Zulus in South Africa killed two British officers. In response, the British declared a war against the Zulus. Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts in order to legitimize their claims to full citizenship. The British, however, refused to commission Indians as army officers. Nonetheless, they accepted Gandhi’s offer to let a detachment of Indians volunteer as a stretcher bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. This corps was commanded by Gandhi. On 21 July 1906, Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion: “The corps had been formed at the instance of the Natal Government by way of experiment, in connection with the operations against the Natives consists of twenty three Indians”.[22] Gandhi urged the Indian population in South Africa to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion: “If the Government only realized what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.”[23] In Gandhi’s opinion, the Draft Ordinance of 1906 brought the status of Indians below the level of Natives. He therefore urged Indians to resist the Ordinance along the lines of satyagraha by taking the example of “Kaffirs“. In his words, “Even the half-castes and kaffirs, who are less advanced than we, have resisted the government. The pass law applies to them as well, but they do not take out passes.”[24]

I was wrong about Gandhi having a message of world equality. At least early in his life he believed that some people are more equal than others.

What is it about us that makes us fight for our own freedom and equality, but sit comfortably with the bondage and oppression of others? Even the man heralded as one of the world’s greatest civil rights leaders believed “all men are created equal”…but for those over there.

My discovery convinced me of two things:

The greatest battle for marginalized peoples may not be the biases of the majority culture, but the way those biases are embraced by minority cultures. How much stronger would all of the equality movements be if we were working together to cement the idea that EVERYONE, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, ability, etc., deserved basic human rights and respect?

Instead, we learn to hate ourselves, while fighting to demonstrate our superiority over other marginalized people. We fight each other over scraps. We fail to leverage our own dehumanization as a tool to empathize with the dehumanization of others. Instead, we seek to demonstrate, as Gandhi once advocated in South Africa, “See, majority, we’re just like you. The pair of us are equally better than those people.” I deserve rights; they do not.
The fight for equality and human rights might well be over if marginalized people worked together. But we do not.

I think, this is also true: it does not matter what Gandhi thought of black people or what Martin Luther King thought of gay people. For all the deification, they are both just men, fallible men–men of a different time and place (Mohandas Gandhi was born in the 19th century, for goodness sake.), men who were just as influenced by the biases of their day as any of us are, men like those who wrote “all men are created equal” and yet owned men, women and children as property. Do we even know whether MLK would have approved of a woman (his daughter or no) as head of the SCLC? His views and treatment of women were not exactly enlightened. That Gandhi did not believe in the inherent equality of all brown people; that King may not have approved of gay marriage–I couldn’t care less.

TODAY matters. It matters that we come to understand that “divided we fall” in the battle for human rights. It matters that we learn that if you are not about justice for all, you are not about justice and that a civil rights organization that does not advocate for across the board human rights is not a civil rights organization. (This goes as much for homophobic black civil rights groups as it does for gay rights groups that marginalize people of color and transgender people.)

And that a civil rights leader who takes time out from advocating for equality to call out who, in fact, should not be equal, is not much of a leader at all–pedigree be damned.

Charting Character Interactions

This is from, but I found it at

Can you imagine trying to chart out the character interactions from a book or TV series? Those charts would be huge.

I sent it to Sister who asked "Who has the time to do this?"

Answer: you could do it next time you watch your favorite movie for the umpteenth time. Or professional illustrators/cartoonists do it as their jobs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Flashforward back on

So I watched episodes 4, 5, and 6 yesterday (Black Swan, Gimme Some Truth, and Scary Monsters and Super Creeps).

I'm liking it more. The twists are coming out, there's some character development, especially Janis Hawk and FBI boss Stanford Wedick, or as Television Without Pity calls him "FBI Boss Dude Courtney B. Vance." They get to show some personal background and be badasses. Demetri sings karaoke and gets to crack some jokes for once. Good to see more than just the Bedfords.

My favorite characters so far are Demetri Noh, Janis Hawk, and Wedick. Janis got shot in the abdomen and now the chances of her getting pregnant are practically zero. But her flash forward shows her being pregnant. So are the flashforwards predetermination, one possibility out of many, wishfulment, or self-fullfilling prophesies?

Okay, the show's thrown in enough for me to keep watching. And I'm liking their use of music to support the story, especially in Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. Which shows blue hands. No other shout out to Firefly, though.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Castleberry Hill

Husband and I went for a walk this morning, going from our neighborhood to Castleberry Hill, another up and coming downtown neighborhood, on the other side of Phillips Arena.

It was quite the circuitous route because of the frequent lack of curb cuts. Yo, city planners: curb cuts are necessary at all 4 corners of an intersection, not just some. We would get to an intersection but since there was no curb cut on our side we'd have to backtrack to find another curb cut that would allow us to cross the street. At one point Husband had to roll in the street. Luckily, on Sunday morning, there's not much traffic downtown.

Still, we made it to Castleberry Hill and to No Mas! a well regarded restaurant. They also have a store, which wasn't open today because the owners are at Atlanta Gay Pride. And there's also a pottery shop which also wasn't open.

Just as well, because I've got a few pots in the works.

Before we went for our walk, I left the bowl uncovered on the balcony to dry. Alas, when we got home, it was too dry. I've covered it with a wet towel and wrapped it back up. Hopefully, in a few hours it'll be wet enough to carve without shattering. That would seriously stink if I broke the bowl.

In other pottery news, I used a masonry bit to drill a hole in a bowl (see above) I made years ago, to convert it into a planter. Worked out pretty well, I'd say.