Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Moment of Geekery

I'm a big geek, right? But a geek who's way behind, technologically speaking. I just made a website entirely in (x)html, and I am very excited. It's for a class, and we haven't gotten into CSS yet, so it looks like a leftover from 1998, but I'm still pretty thrilled.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Ah, America

Have y'all seen this?


I'm good, thanks. School's good, got a part-time job, met some lovely people. Finished a sock! Been checking out a lot of graphic novels from the libraries around. All is well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

TWC is both Santa and Satan

Okay, quick word here.

1) I have wireless internet in my apartment now! I can finally use my lovely Powerbook again, at my leisure. This means blogs, blogging, and picture uploading are again within the realm of possibility.

2) I have no leisure to speak of. And I don't even have a job yet. See this?

Manning Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill

This is school. Let's be honest, kids, a masters program is a butt-load of work. Interesting, engaging work, but work nevertheless. The job hunt continues, and when it eventually succeeds (pleasepleaseplease), I will have even less time.

This is not all to say that the blog is defunct. Oh no. But it is to say that it will be intermittent at best. Blog reading will be limited. Knitting will be rather limited. Geekery will abound, but perhaps not here. I will do what I can, and since I have to be up at an absurdly early hour on Monday mornings I will attempt to re-instate the funny bits ('cause I find 'em funny, whether y'all do or not), but I want to draw your attention to the "try" and "attempt."

We'll see what happens, hey? I'll definitely post a picture of my socks when they're done, and the Prepster if that ever finishes. But otherwise, have yourselves an excellent autumn, and I'll be seeing you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pictures and Whining


I'm starting to get caught up. I'm half-way down my list of blogs, and I did post an entry about the Fuji climb on my Japan blog. Also, those pictures are up.

I've turned the heel of my first sock, and am on the foot. Except for the gaping holes in the gussets, it's really not so hard. And self-striping yarn is just fun.

I have moved to Chapel Hill. YEA! I'm close to campus, just a short ride by bus from the stop that is about a minute from my door. My roommate is really nice. Tomorrow is SILS orientation, and school starts Tuesday. Now all I have to do is find a job, and I am set. Of course, the job might be the hardest part. But hey, what can you do?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Still Not Dead! Just Not Very Communicative!

Hey, kids. Yes, I am a terrible blogger. I am doing my level best to get caught up this weekend, because guess what? School starts next week! OMFG! After that, I certainly can't expect to be blogging much more often than I am now. Let's hope, however, that when things settle down a bit and I get a regular internet connection again (ahem), I can at least blog semi-regularly.


Anyway. Here I am. How are you? I'm so sorry I haven't gotten caught up on all of your blogs. Hell, I don't even know if anybody is still reading this besides my mom (hi, M). If you are, Hey! I'll get caught up on your stuff soon. Er, soon-ish.

Quick me update: I am now in North Carolina, trying to find a place to live in Chapel Hill, trying to find a job, getting freaked out about the start of school, feeling a bit (okay, a lot) out of sorts because of the lack of settled personal stuff. Once upon a time I would have thought that home was where my stuff is. I have now amended that to where my stuff is organized.

It's good to be home, albeit weird. I've mostly adjusted, I think, and done most of the immediate gratification things I wanted to do - hung out with the rents, sat on the couch with the dogs for hours on end, eaten Taco Bell, Burger King, Cuban food, Chik-Fil-A, Steak'n'Shake, gone to the movies (more on that later), bought clothes and shoes in my size, driven around 'til I was tired of it again... All that. So, acclimated, I guess. I just miss my friends. A lot.

Trip and travel updates and pictures are still pending on my other blog. I might get around to doing some of that tonight. If you're lucky.

Okay, enough about that crap.

Knitting update: I've made a couple of wristlets for my new tattoo, and I've put them on Ravelry but I haven't yet put the patterns on this blog, as I've meant to do. It's on the list. But they're coming, as are pictures of stuff. I have also gotten Anne Budd's book on socks, and just today I cast on for my very first sock! Squeal! I like the yarn, JoAnn Sensations Bamboo and Ewe in a variegated purple and grey, and I'm excited to see the sock unfold and figure out how to do the heel and all that. Yea! I'm hoping to have the pair done by the time the colder weather gets here, but since school will be starting I just don't know what will happen to my knitting time.

Geekery update: Wanna know what kind of geek I am? I'm a Star Wars novel geek, that's what. When I got to my parents' house, I discovered, amongst the large piles of things belonging to me that they have patiently kept, the X-Wing series book 5, which I vaguely remembered giving to my mom to take home for me when I finished it two years ago, in the storage-unit-already-closed-but-still-in-the-US time frame before I left. Well, it looked a lot more fun than The Brothers Karamazov, which I was ostensibly reading, so in I plowed. And I've been geeking out to those, or the ones that I own on the East Coast, anyway, since I got home. Yes, I know.

Also, I saw G.I.Joe. I expected it to be utter crap, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it immensely. It was so over the top it was fun, and I don't think it was taking itself all that seriously, which I appreciated. Now that absurd child fight scene - well, that was a little disturbing, not gonna lie, but it was also just so damn absurd I'm not even annoyed about it. Then again, I was so absolutely delighted to be in that theater that I may have been more charitable than usual.

All right, that's me. I'll be getting on that stuff I mentioned above, hopefully, but until then, sayonara! Oh wait, I mean, Bah! Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hilarity Monday: Good-bye Japan Edition

Oh, damn, has it been two weeks? Things have been crazy, as you might imagine. But I'm not dead, and I am home. In fact, everything is pretty peachy, except that it's in this weird in-between state.

Brief update, which will hopefully be embellished later: Mount Fuji was complete torture but we did it; Tokyo was cool but utterly exhausting; my flight was long but uneventful; I got to see my sister in Seattle, very briefly, which was great; Florida is hot and sticky but wonderful; my parents were delighted to see me, and I them; sitting with the dogs and cats is pure therapy and just delightful; there is no wireless internet at my parents' house, no way to connect my computer to their internet, and their computer is sloooooooow and annoying (sorry, M); I leave for North Carloina this weekend.

So that's it, in a nutshell. I hope to be talking all about Fuji and Tokyo and how weird and yet wonderful it is to be home in my Japan blog, but to do that I will need to spend yet more hours hanging out at Panera Bread COmpany or Barnes and Noble, since they are the nearby places with free wireless internet. Today was the first time I got to sit at Panera and I ended up drinking so much coffee my hands were shaking. And that was just getting caught up on correspondence and starting the UNC appointments and stuff! Just imagine the possibilities for caffeine overload in getting caught up on all the blogs and web comics and other things to which I became addicted over the past two years.

Anyways, my little Langoliers, I have not forgotten you, and I will read your blogs, will comment when appropriate, and I will update again soon, I promise. But for right now (and honestly, for the next couple of months, I think), I am in an odd, transitional limbo, with no real space of my own and no solid, constant internet connection for my little Powerbook. Hell, I'm writing this from my parents' computer, so I can't even give you pictures! So I am sorry, but have faith! This blog will return to its former, kind-of-interesting level of quality soon!

Meanwhile, here is your last Japanese-related Monday Hilarity. Well, it might not be the last, but you know what I mean. In celebration of the bizarreness that is Nihon, I give you: BINOCULAR FOOTBALL!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Good-bye Yatsushiro Edition

Oh, crap! Almost forgot it was Monday!

Spent the whole day cleaning and now get to hang out. I leave Yatsushiro in just 36 hours, climb Fuji in three days, and leave Japan in nine days. Yowza.

Here is another Japanese video, except that this one is only Japanese because I took it here. This week I am posting in honor of the amazing friends I have made here. This friend, who shall remain nameless in type, is one of the people I am so, so sorry to be leaving behind. During a group hangout one night, the star of this video read the warning "This Is Not A Toy" on the handle of a bug zapper shaped like a tennis racket. He took this to mean "I Am A Toy. Please Touch Me." While the rest of us egged him on, he decided to see what would happen, and I decided to record the incident just in case it turned out to be hilarious. See what happens!

WARNING!!!!!: Some silly girl drops the F-bomb in this video! I have no idea who such a potty-mouth could be.

Additional WARNING!!!: The star of this video is an intelligent, capable, awesome human being perfectly capable of reading and understanding the warning on an electric bug zapper. But he, like many of us, just wanted to see what would happen. I will be extremely unhappy if somebody leaves a comment insulting him for doing the kind of thing we ALL do from time to time. Please enjoy this charitably.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Teaching English Edition

Whoa! This entry's a bit late. But it's still pretty early Monday for y'all, right?

So, yes, this blog has been intermittent lately. Thank you to those of you still reading, and extra thanks to those of you commenting. Things have just been super hectic the past couple weeks, and they are only going to get crazier. This is my last week teaching classes, and I leave Yatsushiro early next week. After that, I'm just all over the damn place. So I will do my best to keep the blog going with at least one entry per week, but it's going to be a while before things settle down. I do hope you'll forgive me.

Haven't been doing much knitting, what with the crazy busy and the ridiculous heat. But Brenda's baby shower was this past Saturday and it went very well, in spite of all my last minute freak-outs. She loved the blanket, hat, and booties, and I hope to get a bit of time to finish the sweater before I leave. She also got some adorable baby things, and really one of the delights of shopping for this stuff in Japan is the great Engrish you can put on your baby. There was a onesy that had an illustration of two dolphins and the words "Struggle for a ball!", a bib that said "I <3 MEAL" (except with a real heart graphic, not the punctuation), and another bib that said "Funky Baby." Brilliant.

Yes, Engrish is just one of the many things I will miss about Japan. I'm drinking another right now, C.C. Lemon. It has 70 lemons' worth of Vitamin C in it, don't you know.

Another thing I will miss is the hilarious-ness of teaching, or attempting to teach, English. Perhaps you all know that the Japanese have some trouble with "l" and "r", often confusing one for the other, so that innocent words such as "election" and "clap" become ridiculously funny when spoken by some people.

Also, Japanese grammar is fundamentally different from English, and words can be translated in the dictionary that are used in totally different ways in the two languages. For instance, "enjoy" gets thrown around a lot because it would be perfectly acceptable to simply say that in Japanese, but in English it becomes weird - not always wrong, but not natural. Examples include "Let's enjoy studying English now!" or "I will enjoy this weekend." Sometimes they try to make it better but make it worse: "Let's enjoying cleaning time!" Some of us blame Coca-Cola for this, with their giant "Enjoy Coke!" ads all over the place since the dawn of time.

Sometimes the word for "enjoy" gets translated as "pleasure," so I get gems like this one on student papers: "This fall, we will go to Osaka as a school trip. I will pleasure USJ." USJ, by the way, means Universal Studios Japan. I got paper after paper of kids writing about how they're going to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, which are famous for USJ and takoyaki. It's just a different world, folks. Then again, they are teenagers, so they're going to have a different perspective anyway.

In honor of my last week of being a teacher of English to Japanese kids, I bring you this video. It is a bit long, but hilarious. At least I think so, but then I've been in Japan for two years. Once or twice a year there's this TV special, of which this is a clip. The special involves a group of four comedians who get put into some weird situation for about 24 hours, and every time they laugh they get spanked with a whip. You don't need to understand Japanese to find this funny, but I think you do need to be Japanese to have ever dreamed it up. In any case, this is a clip from the one where they had to pretend they were in school. Since the whole joke is to make them laugh so they can get spanked, the people who create the show do all sorts of bizarre things to them to make them laugh.

Now, my English classes do not involve the beating of children or grown men, but just take a listen to the accent and pronunciation of that guy in the video and feel a bit of empathy, kay?

Lotions, indeed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Independence Day Edition

Aaaaaaaaaand here's your Monday Hilarity. Robot Chicken, again. Sorry, but they really are just hilarious.

Happy Fourth of July! USA! USA! USA! Okay, I'm done.

Quick Knitting Post

So that we don't have yet another week with no knitting...

Here's the Prepster Librarian so far...
Haven't picked it up in over a week, though. Too hot. Too busy. But I have started shaping the arm holes in the back, so it is coming along.

Here's the baby hat, which deserves an FO post but won't be getting one:
Huge. Oh well, the kid won't be getting any smaller.

Did not finish the Not Quite Christmas gloves in time to give them to Emily, who was here this weekend and who left this morning. I won't see her again for probably a few years at least, and that makes me sad. Knowing that there are more and more of those good-byes coming up in the next three weeks, well... I don't have time to cry now, must teach a lesson on numbers and counting in twenty minutes. I'll mail her those gloves before I leave, though.

Have not gotten ribbons for the baby booties yet, because the child's gender is yet unknown. I guess I'll try to find something in beige to match the blanket and hat.

Have not seamed the sweater yet. Shower is this weekend. Have not actually planned shower yet, and have no idea how it will go. Am slightly terrified, not least because what with classes and farewell work parties and speeches to write which must be given at these parties, I have approximately six hours this week to plan and get ready for the shower. On the plus side, I have enough beer and hot dogs left over from my super kick-ass July 4th party this past weekend to keep me fat and happy despite the stress.

Anyway. Hope you had a good Fourth. Mine was brilliant. I have now joined the rank of stupid Americans who've burned themselves with a firecracker while drunk on Independence Day. It was loads of fun and highly international (England, New Zealand, India, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Cameroon, and Australia represented, as well as at least six states), however, and everyone had too much to eat. Perfect.

Pictured: Patriotism.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hilarity Monday

Although I am not at work today, Monday, I am bringing you your hilarity anyway, because you might be at work and need it. Why am I not at work, you ask? Well, for the simple reason that this job very rarely requires me to do anything actually resembling work, and sometimes even requires me to stay home. Okay, then, you say, why the hell are you leaving this job? Well, that is a complicated tangle of stuff best left out of a simple blog.

I meant to blog more about knitting this week, honestly I did. I even took a picture of the Prepster vest as it now is, and I finished the October Baby Hat and Booties, and I'm almost done with the Not Quite Christmas Gloves (freakin' finally). But I've actually been off work since last Wednesday and have been lazing around. I did a bit of preparation for moving, even had an apartment inspection, but really I've just been sitting around watching movies and tv shows, unwilling to sit with this stupid-hot computer on my lap.

So, to make up for the non-knitting, non-blogging nature of this blog recently (okay, to feebly attempt to make up for it), I give you this week's hilarity: goats.

Yeah, see, goats are sort of knitting related. They even mentioned angora in there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hilarity Monday

In honor of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, which I watched yesterday, I bring you this week's hilarity:

I can promise you, I found these 43 sounds vastly more entertaining, even on the third or fourth viewing, than all two-and-a-half hours of Transformers. Bleah.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An FO and Movie Talk

Yeah, I meant to write this earlier in the week. But I was attacked by an extreme case of "I'm SO bored! Therefore I cannot do anything I'm supposed to be doing and must go off in search of something new!" On the plus side, it did allow me to discover Dollhouse.

First, a Finished Object:Name: October Baby Blanket, for Brenda's baby due in (you guessed it) October.
Pattern: Janice's Easiest Ever Lacy Blanket, by Janice Helge.
Yarn: Wister Araeru Merino 100, in color #11, a very nice beige.
Needle: Bamboo Japan size 11 80 cm circular. 80 cm was a bit long, but I'm sure it'll come in handy later.
Finished Measurements: 22" by 27", roughly. The edge is scalloped, so it's a little hard to tell. I would've liked it bigger, but it should be big enough.
Pattern Mods: I added one extra repeat, casting on 108 stitches.
KIP/Movies Watched While Knitting: As previously mentioned on this blog, this blanket was mostly done while watching Battlestar Galactica. Brenda said she would be sure to tell the kid this when the time comes, and considering the dad's level of nerdiness, I have high hopes of geek vibes successfully rubbing off. I don't think I really brought this one into public, though.
Number of Times Frogged: None that I can recall.
Things I Would Change Next Time: I'd add another repeat or two to make it bigger. I didn't use up anywhere near the yarn I bought for it, since I wanted to stop knitting before it became a stole. The pattern didn't give yardage, though, it just listed a yarn, so I looked at the yardage for that yarn and purchased accordingly. It did end up being bigger than the pattern says, but still, I'd have preferred it larger. The pattern is really pretty, though, and I found it to be a quick, pleasant knit. I've even made peace with how much I stretched it, so I think all in all it's a great project.
I also have several WIPs: the Prepster Vest, a hat to match the blanket, and some booties. Prepster is coming along - I'm just splitting for the neck, and have realized what a pain it's going to be to do that in the round, since I will now have to do knit and purl rows until I get to the armpits, and that could change my gauge. The hat I found with a similar look to the blanket is nice, but it seemed to think that I could cast on 54 stitches and then join in the round on a 16" circular, so I ended up casting on loads more stitches and the hat will clearly be too big for a newborn (at least I think so, with my limited baby knowledge). The booties are the Moon Booties again, and after a slight screw-up I finished the first bootie and it looks much bigger than the last pair - the leg is freakin' huge.

Of course, my sense of proportion has been severely screwed up itself since living in Japan. Four-door sedans seem ridiculously huge, pants I hold up in the store that I'm sure will fit can barely be pulled six inches above my knees, much less hips, roads and corners that I'm certain could not possibly accomodate a car can be taken at speed, skeins of yarn with barely 70 yards seem perfectly normal, and I absolutely squeal with delight when there is more than one taller person standing next to me. Maybe this baby, being a child of tall white parents, will have no problem filling the hat and booties with robust Caucasian head and legs. We'll see.

Also, last week I went to see Terminator Salvation on its Japanese opening night. For once, the theater was pretty crowded - Terminator is big in Japan. I loved it. It was different, for sure, and not like the other Terminator movies have been. It wasn't just my appreciation of the plentiful eye candy, or the darling Anton Yelchin making his second appearance in Awesome Movies of This Summer, or even my obsession with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies. I thought it was a great story, interesting characters, and a great direction for the franchise. It seems I might not be in the majority in this view though - while the people I went to see it with also enjoyed it, a friend back in LA has said that everyone she knows who's seen it has hated it, and the internet reviews I've seen all panned it as "having no heart". Well, poo on them, I say. I completely disagree.

Two of the girls that came to see it in my group had never seen any of the first three, can you believe it? They didn't even mention this until we were in the car on the way home, and they were understandably confused about how Christian Bale's father could be some teenage kid he'd never seen. I gave them the ten-minute synopsis of the first three and now I'm dying to watch all four in a row. I would go back and watch #4 (or ST) in the theater again if it wasn't so stupidly expensive and so inconvenient to get to (going on my own would require a fifteen minute bike ride followed by a 25-minute train followed by a shuttle bus, plus the $15 ticket - oh God I want a car again).

Today we're off to see the second Transformers movie. I know, I can't believe I'm going to spend $15 on that mess either, but you just have to see Baysplosions in the theater, right? Also, if the movie pumped billions of dollars into the economy to be made, I guess I can do my part to pump back. And use my money to vote for ludicrous special effects, bad writing, Michael Bay-style entertainment - okay, this is depressing.

Last night in my intense boredom I called my friend Fumiko to see what she was up to, and she told me she was watching Dollhouse. I promptly invited myself over and we stayed up until 2:30 watching it. Damn, that's a cool show. And it has Helo! Hot.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hilarity Monday

Ugh, Monday.

Today we're going a little old school: Monty Python.

Enjoy. And up this week: my thoughts on Terminator Salvation (I want to have that movie's babies) and an FO!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Blanket

Hey, kids.

Lord, it's Thursday already. Sometimes the weeks just fly by - usually when you're going to reach the end of it going, "Oh, crap, how did I manage to let five days go by and accomplish SO VERY LITTLE?!"

Actually, this week hasn't been too bad. I'm behind, as usual, but I did get a chunk of my to-do list finished. Mount Fuji cabin - booked. Laptop loan application - completed (also approved two hours later, apparently based solely on my wizened, mature old age of 28. brilliant). Baby shower invitations - printed, cut, and awaiting glue, addressing, and handing out. Successor - emailed.
The October Baby Blanket is now sort of the Battlestar Galactica Baby Blanket. I knit the vast majority of it while watching the end of season one and the entirety of season two, and now that there are no more discs to be rented from Tsutaya I am having difficulty making myself finish, despite the fact that I have maybe three more pattern repeats. The pattern repeats, by the way, are four rows.

Heh. Somehow I just typed "despot" instead of "despite." Don't you wonder what goes on in our subconscious when we do stuff like that?

Anyway, blanket should be finished tonight or tomorrow, ends woven in and blocked this weekend. Score! I should even have time to make a hat and finally finish this stupid thing before the shower. The shower will be an experience, too. We're inviting sixteen people (including the parents-to-be), and of those, five are dudes, eight are Japanese ladies who are likely completely unfamiliar with western baby showers, one is an Indian friend who was also totally mystified when we explained this, and the rest are American/Canadian girls who barely know how to hold a baby, much less birth one (I fall into that last category, in case you're wondering). But I found a website that, aside from insanely obnoxious use of the word "mommy" to refer to the shower honoree, gives pretty useful info, so we'll see what happens.

But meanwhile, I am desperate to get a hold of more BSG. I am a proponent of renting or buying over streaming/downloading, because even aside from the legality and space-on-my-hard-drive issues, I firmly believe in puting your money where your mouth is. Or however you use that phrase.

However, --SPOILER ALERT-- season two ended with everyone on that crappy planet because Balthar is a douche, Starbuck married to that pro athlete hot guy when she was supposed to end up with Apollo (hello? am I the only one that realizes they're destined for each other?), and the freaking Cylons showing up to turn everybody into batteries or walking wombs or whatever! Adama and his freaky mustache and newly-pudgy Apollo jumped away! What happened to good-Cylon-Sharon (whose one-year-old baby appeared about six months old - how did nobody notice that?)? Why isn't Starbuck a pilot anymore? How could Cally and the Chief move in together after she shot Sharon and he punched her face in? How can I not want to immediately start on season three? This is also why I can't watch tv shows when they're on the air - there's too much time in between and once the initial excitement to find out what happens fades, I lose interest. If I don't start watching the rest now, who knows when I will? Once I get home there's school and moving and being flat broke and how will I manage two more seasons of a tv show? And then some jerk will probably tell me how the show ends and I'll punch them and end up getting arrested.

This is not to advocate illegal streaming or downloading. Oh, no. THAT IS BAD. YOU SHOULD PAY MONEY FOR THE EXPENSIVE-TO-MAKE ENTERTAINMENT YOU WATCH. All I'm saying is, I'm desperate. And if a friend tells me they have more episodes for me to watch, but I have to go to their house, maybe I just won't ask any questions. You know, if.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hilarity Monday

We are now back to our regularly scheduled Hilarity Monday.

First, a word: Yes, I've been knitting. The October Baby Blanket is in fact almost done. This was able to happen because I have been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica. In fact, yesterday I could not control myself and watched the last four discs of season two (a whopping two episodes per disc here in Japan - wouldn't want to overload anyone). About that, I just have to say OH MY GOD, DUDES, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Anyway, I'll update on knitting and give further, more lucid expression to my thoughts on the current state of human/Cylon relations later this week. Seriously.

But for now, I bring you today's giggle-fest. Can't seem to embed it, but trust me - go there. This one should be SFW, but someone will start asking you questions if they see it, just FYI. Hell, perhaps you've already seen it - I'm a little behind the times, after all, what with being on the other side of the globe. So if this is old news to you, go back and be sure to enjoy such classics as The Choker and Mommy the Pooh, and this is new news to you, please enjoy:

Awkward Family Photos.

Be sure to go back a ways - some of them are barely worth a snort, some of them had me struggling not to shriek at my desk.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One More Bit About Star Trek

This'll be a long one. I wanna talk about the movie, because this is a geek blog, and I am a geek. One of my geeky interests is Star Trek, and has been for a very long time.First, though, a few words about my love for ST: I don't remember what grade I was in when I discovered the re-runs of Next Generation playing in the afternoons, but I was fairly young. Fourth grade? Fifth? Old enough to know I was a huge geek, but entranced enough not to care. I even remember the very first episode I caught - it was the one where Data gets into a relationship with that woman who was not Tasha Yar, and he goes around to all the other officers asking their advice about relationships while they smile smugly at his innocence. It wasn't the relationship bit that drew me in, though, or the brilliantly writing (that episode was hardly a gem, if I remember correctly from the last time I saw it). It was space. It was aliens. It was the idea of this fascinating future where regular people flew around exploring space from the comfort of this awesome ship and with interesting companions in complex relationships (okay, I guess the relationship bit was important).

I was hooked. I would watch ST:TNG every day at four 0'clock, and sometimes the Original Series when it took TNG's place during the summer. I got my dad to rent some of the OS on video from 16,000 Movies down the street. I watched the movies - Star Trek IV, the one with the whales, was always my favorite because it was hilarious, but when I watched the Motion Picture on tv one time I was bored to tears. TNG is still the only television series I have ever watched to its conclusion, the only one I have ever committed to while it was still on the air (I know - if I can't commit to a weekly tv series, imagine how I am about everything else). I even read the books - because nothing says nerd like fan-fiction: official or not. And of course, I once went to a convention. I'd like to do that again.

I credit Star Trek with my interest in make-up, which has had mixed results but was still an important part of my life, and with my whole-hearted embracing of my geekdom. Well, Star Wars had a hand in that, too, but I think we all know which group has traditionally received more derision, and which therefore requires a more fearless embracing.

So. To put it mildly, I was excited about the new movie. It wasn't going to matter whether the movie was horrible or not. I would love it for what it was. But then the most amazing thing happened - people said GOOD things about it! All kinds of people! Even people like my friend Stacey, who thinks most sci-fi is crap and was dragged to see the new one by her fiance, reported that they liked it! Amazing!

Finally, last Friday I was able to see Star Trek: The Movie. Although I try my best to go into new movies, particularly ones I'm very excited about, with a blank, open mind and no expectations, it was impossible to shut out everything for this one.

But I was not disappointed.

It was good. It was genuinely good. At the same time, it was wildly different. It was new, exciting, not at all what I was expecting, extremely modern - and very good.

Not flawless. But very good.

Here come the spoilers!
Things I Loved:

1) Karl Urban. Note-perfect. Hilarious. Hotter than Dr. McCoy could ever reasonably hope to be. Proved that an actor I've drooled over for ages is also a talented actor. Mmmm, Kiwis...

2) The casting in general, with two notable exceptions (see Things I Did Not Love, below). Zoe Saldana as Uhura was fantastic, sexy, gutsy, and a great update to the role. Eric Bana as Nero was awesome and very, very sexy (then again, I like dudes with tats). Simon Pegg was as charming and wonderful as ever, and when he shouted Scotty's regular line towards the end I actually squealed. Anton Yelchin as Chekov was adorable - I wanted to wrap him up and take him home with me. Zachary Quinto was good - no Leonard Nimoy, but then, this was not your father's Star Trek. Chris Pine was excellent - at first I was disappointed to not see more Shatner in him, but then, it's hard to channel Shatner without looking like a jackass. There was one great moment right towards the end, though, where he walked on to the bridge, looked around and said "Bones!" with that little smile, so perfectly that all was forgiven.

3) The look. Again, at first my nit-picky brain was going, "No, no, no! That isn't what it looked like!" but I got over it. I do think it could have been modernized while still keeping it looking more like the OS ship, but everything was so pretty I just can't stay mad at them.

4) The dialogue, mostly. Snappy. Clever. Cute. Chekov's difficulty with the letter v was especially funny to those of us living in Japan - alas, the Japanese people in the audience did not see the humor. Kirk to those cadet thugs in the bar? Brilliant. Everything out of Karl Urban's and Simon Pegg's mouths? Completely brilliant.

5) The re-boot in general. I walked out of the theater asking, "Did they just re-boot the franchise? For real? Are we starting over, a la Batman?" Except none of the people I went with were nerdy enough to have realized how wrong the details were from the history, so I was talking to myself. As soon as Kirk's dad died, I started thinking, "Um, this isn't right." and by the time Vulcan blew up I was practically chewing the seat in front of me. By the end of the movie, I was already imagining a whole new series. Go for it. I can still love the originals.

Things I Did Not Love:

1) Two Terrible Casting Choices. Winona Rider and John Cho. I have nothing against either of those actors but Winona Rider was a bizarre choice (she is not that old, dudes, and I have issues with exceptionally recognizable actors in bit roles that aren't cameos), and John Cho, while cool, is not Japanese. In a cast of mostly unknowns, they did not need Harold for credibility.

2) James Kirk becomes captain for no discernible reason other than that his father was a hero. That is not how Starfleet should work. Cadets do not show up on ships, especially the flagship, and randomly take over the whole crew. Kirk would be a terrible captain, having never served as a junior officer and having no experience whatsoever. Then again, most of what he did on the OS was bang alien chicks and beat the snot out of people/creatures/alien chicks, so the movie certainly set up his experience in those areas.

3) We are left with Future Spock and Past Spock in the same time period. They talk to each other. WTF??

4) The Uhura-Spock romance. Where the hell did that come from? Everything else that was different from the OS characters and situations could be explained by the changes that occurred as a result of the Romulans' time travel. I was cool with that. Alternative reality, right on. That could not be thus explained. Yes, it was cool, and interesting, but unnecessary and odd.

In any case, the Loves outweighed the Did Not Loves. It was good. I want to see it again, especially because I was extremely stressed out the night I saw it for reasons that had nothing to do with the movie, and now I want to see it when I'm more relaxed. Also, because it was awesome.

Thanks for reading my novella. Live Long and Prosper.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Star Trek Edition Part 2

I meant to post another bit in the past week about how my knitting is progressing, but I had a hell of a week and a very full weekend, and didn't remember to take the pictures of my stuff until late last night as my computer was already right in the middle of a big back-up, and then I didn't bring the cord with me to work today...

Bleah. I'm just exhausted. But I'm still working on the Prepster and the October Baby Blanket, and they're both coming along, although I'm kicking myself over a couple things about the Prepster. I also finished a couple of the squares for the Warm Woolies group on Ravelry during my stressed out knitting-while-waiting-anxiously late Friday night, and sent a bunch more yarn home in the box with a bunch of books on Saturday. To top it all off, yesterday was a very long day involving a photo shoot with two of the girls here and a photographer friend. I'll let you know when I've gotten the photos and added them to my portfolio.

So, anyway. Star Trek. I loved it. I will discuss it in detail some other time, because I'm about to go to class. Meanwhile, please enjoy this bit of Eddie Izzard, a brilliant comedian, talking about Star Trek.

Edited: I am a dolt. Sorry that showed up twice for a while.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Star Trek Edition

In honor of the fact that I get to see Star Trek on Friday, this Monday's Hilarity will be something I may have actually linked to before on this blog, but which is worth viewing again because it is just that hilarious (to me, anyway). Since, like any good nerd, I love Monty Python as well as Star Trek, I find this charming as well as hysterical.

And yes, sadly, it is already Monday here. Suck.

Anyway, here you go:

Just reminds you how completely ridiculous the original series was, doesn't it? Yet so delightful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yarn and Piles of Stuff

Yarn! Delicious, silky soft wool!
This will shortly become the October Baby Blanket, for Brenda's firstborn, due in (come on now, you can guess this one). She hits five months very soon, and in two weeks she's going to find out the baby's gender, as long as the bouncing fetus cooperates for the camera. Either way, this color will go nicely with even the most gender-specific colors and clothes. And since the winters here in Yats are cold and the heating/insulation non-existent, baby will be happy with a wool blanket. I haven't discussed yet how much of a pain in the ass this is going to be to wash with Brenda yet, though. I'm saving that until it's way too late.So as soon as I got the yarn I had to try it out. The pattern calls for size 9s, and the only ones I have are the standard scarf-knitting length, which will clearly not work for a blanket. I cast on some anyway, because if I had to go buy new needles I wanted to be sure that 9 is really the size I want. I was a bit nervous that this yarn was a little too thin for that size, but actually I rather like the way it looks. And it seems to be a quick knit, which will certainly save my skin in the next two months.

Speaking of how much time I have left, I bought my ticket home! SQUEAL! I leave Japan for good on July 29th, stop over in Seattle long enough to make my sister and her husband drive all the way out to the airport to have coffee with me, before moving on to Orlando by way of Detroit, for some reason. Though I leave Tokyo at four in the afternoon on the 29th, I arrive in Seattle at 9:15 am on the 29th, so I gain a whole day - which I then immediately waste almost entirely by flying to Detroit, sitting there for over an hour, and then landing in Orlando at midnight of the same day. So in a way, it's like it only takes seven and a half hours to get to Orlando - by the calendar. In reality, it takes me twenty-three hours, and will seem interminable.

Anyway, I'm going home. Awesome. And once I get there - well, things are going up and down, and I am alternately seriously depressed/worried about finances and starting over, and incredibly elated/thrilled about everything else.

Someone was telling me (I forget who now, so if it was you, bear with me) that this isn't starting over, it's just moving on. This person should definitely be made to be in charge of the packing, throwing stuff away, and then re-buying, re-locating, and re-acquainting me with America, as well as making all my new friends for me. You should see the giant pile of STUFF I've made in the corner that will need to be dealt with. Hang on, actually -And that, my friends, is not even all of what I have to deal with before July. Bleah.

Well, anyway. The Prepster Librarian is coming along swimmingly, even if I am heartily sick of 1x1 ribbing. I've tried it on and realized I will need to make the 1x1 ribbing longer than I originally thought to make it fit the way I want, but that's okay. It is pretty and it will be nice and warm when it's finished.

In other news, Star Trek is coming to Yatsushiro! Yea! And that's what I'm doing next weekend.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hilarity Monday

We're trying a new feature here at Geek My Stitch Up, which I am calling Hilarity Monday. Let's face it, Monday sucks. You're going along, living your life, camped out on the couch or hanging with the pooches or taking your kid for a stroll or whatever it is you like to do, and WHAMMO! Monday comes around and screws everything up by making you work.

Well, with any luck your soul-sucking job allows you internet access. If that be the case, you can at least come here on Monday mornings and get a chuckle in before you commence the mind-numbing tedium.

Without further ado, I give you: Black and White People Furniture.

Also, please go check out Puff The Magic Rabbit's blog about the Boston AIDS Walk and donate if you can.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Finished Things!

Hey, maybe by the time this wee one grows up, she really will be able to walk on the moon. Here's hoping!
Name: Moon Booties, for Mary Kathleen, the daughter of Sheila, my infinitely patient friend.
Pattern: Christine's Stay-on Baby Booties, by Christine Bourquin.
Yarn: Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis in color 2, a creamy yellow off-white.
Needles: Japan size 1 metal DPNs. It was a tough fit - the yarn was a bit too thick for those needles.
Finished Measurements: Yeah, I forgot to do that for these too. I suck.
Pattern Mods: None.
Knitting in Public/Movies Watched: I do not remember. I finished these bad boys two months ago and only didn't do this then because I assumed I wasn't finished.
Number of Times Frogged: A few, I think. It took me a while to get the joining into the round going on this one because everything was so tight.
Things I Would Change Next Time: Nothing with the pattern. A better yarn/needle fit would be nice so I'm not hurting myself. Also, now I know not to bother with a i-cord and go straight for a ribbon, since i-cords and twist cords were both way too thick for the tiny little holes I made. But they were truly adorable, and I only hope they still fit.

I finally mailed those packages today, after struggling for some time yesterday to find the appropriate box from my collection. I keep wondering what the post office thinks I'm doing here - I receive and send packages pretty regularly, and customs has taken to opening all of my packages as they come in, and there was that incident with the sudafed last year... Oh well, anyway, I sent off the blanket and booties and my godson's birthday gift in one box, and my dad's extremely belated birthday gift in another. Now I have to get my act together to start the baby blanket for my friend here (I leave in just over two months, and given my record for the last two baby blankets I've done, I clearly do not have enough time), and I guess I should figure out my sister's birthday gift, since again, my record shows that I've got barely enough time to do so in a suitable time-frame.

Right now I'm trying to force myself to do things on my to-do list and delay starting the next Star Trek movie I have from the store. I watched number V last night (God, that one's terrible) and number VI today (possibly my favorite - I just love this one, and Christopher Plummer as a SHakespeare-quoting Klingon? Genius! "Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of war." Guh.), and I'm itching to start Generations, but then I'll only have two movies to watch the rest of the week, and what will I DO with myself?

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's the Ides of May, so Tracy must be blogging.

Hey, kids! Whoa, I have been gone a while. I am terribly sorry, honestly.

It's just that, for some reason, my job has suddenly required me to work. Like, the whole time. And when I'm at home, I have been way, waaaaaaayy too lazy to do anything, you know, productive.

So here's a brief report and I will attempt to do better from here on out, but I can promise nothing, since I expect the next two months before I leave Yatsushiro to continue being super busy. After those two months, of course, there's the whole "going home" bit, followed by the "moving" bit, succeeded by the "high school reunion," "starting school," and "working" bits (that last one is more of a hopefully), and so who knows?

But for now, a few loose ends.The Leaf Blanket. It is done. It has been done for over a week. It is still in my apartment. It moved from the blocking futon to the coffee table pile of stuff to ship, to a box, to the spot next to the door where I put things I need to take out of the house - so there's been some progress - but still, it's in Japan and Mary Kathleen, the very Catholic-ly named baby girl for whom it is intended, turns three months old today. Not in Japan.

Details, anyway.

Name: Leaf Blanket, for the daughter of my good friend Sheila, whose other child is my godson (and shamefully neglected as such).
Pattern: Lace Paneled Baby Blanket, by Sarah Bradberry.
Yarn: Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis in color #2, an off-white leaning towards yellow.
Needles: A Japan size 7 round needle. Maybe 40 cm? Not sure. For the edging, Japan size 7 straight needles.Finished Measurements: Um. What an excellent question.
Pattern Mods: None for the body - it was a really nice pattern, actually. My first few major failures in counting took place before the revelation of regularly placed stitch-markers. I cannot recommend those strongly enough. As for the edging, the pattern suggests a couple, and it became clear that the yardage for those was not included in the pattern yardage. I used one sent to me by my mom - something she scanned, so I don't know where it's from. But it was quite easy, and aside from the fact that it took FOREVER, is very pleasing.Knitting in Public/Movies Watched: Please. I worked on this thing for months. Most notably, though, I took it with me to the top of the 777 steps a couple of times, and while at first I could not watch tv while doing the pattern, I got comfortable and enough and only knit on the edging at all while I was watching something. Mostly, it's been episodes of CSI season 6, the first half of Heroes season 1, and the first season of Battlestar Galactica (and no, I'm not done yet, I've been sidetracked by Star Trek and will return soon).
Number of Times Frogged: Body, three times. Edging, once, when I changed to another pattern completely.
Things I Would Change Next Time: I think it's a beautiful blanket, in need of no changes as is except a better understanding of how to attach the edging, especially at the corners. I would certainly give myself a lot more time, though. This thing took me three and a half months from yarn purchase to shipping (assuming I do ship it today as fully intended).

Yar. That's that. The Moon Booties that go with it are also finished, now that I finally bought ribbon, and will go out with the same package, but I don't have a finished picture of those so it'll have to wait. I swear, I will update again next week.

Surely that's enough for one entry? Anything else I have to report is just about how I'm trying to get ready to go home - freaking out about packing and shipping and plane tickets and money and resumes and laptops and getting rid of furniture and having to buy new furniture and all that mess. Nasty. Oh, and Star Trek comes out here on the 29th, and it had just damn well better come to Yats. Else we will have a problem on our hands.

I've been re-watching the movies in preparation, and will get to watch my old favorite, The Voyage Home, tonight. Score!

Friday night at my house sure is kickin', ain't it?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Going Postal

Argh. I lied. I spoke waaaaaaayy too soon, as I should have known.

Last week my neighbor, who is way more skilled in Japanese, came with me to the Post Office to verify whether I could ship my trunk home. This trunk is something I got at the Container Store in Pasadena in 2007, before I went on a film shoot to the Philippines. I brought it to Japan because it's a giant piece of luggage, and it carried a lot of my stuff when I moved. But it is cumbersome, and since my plans when I leave involve a domestic flight followed by a week in Tokyo (during which I'll be climbing Mount Fuji) before my international flight home to Orlando, I didn't want to have to deal with it then. The perfect solution seemed to be to ship it home. I mean, hey! It's like, a big box! Ship it!

So when the Japan Post man, who looked, as they often do, terrified to be dealing with foreigners, confirmed that I could in fact mail something that big to America, and that it would in fact be cheaper than I had feared, I was ecstatic. Tuesday night I packed it, and Wednesday that same neighbor helped me haul it in to the PO. When we walked in with the trunk and I saw the faces of the two people behind the counter, I sensed trouble. First thing we were told was that they only ship boxes.

Of course.

I was very frustrated, feeling like that had to have been part of our first conversation. But apparently not. Of course, if I could speak the freaking language, if I was actually capable of basic communication with people in shops and businesses, this could have been cleared up immediately. But we all stood around trying to think of options, while my trunk sat on the floor and got in everybody's way, and everyone sucked their teeth and said it was difficult, and eventually realized that it wasn't going to happen. My favorite possibility was unpacking the trunk and sending the contents in boxes, then shipping the empty trunk EMS (not the trunk with stuff in it, oh no) for ¥8000. That's $80. Wanna know how much I paid the Container Store for it two years ago? About $30 (I think - now it's $40). So thanks, but no thanks.


Anyway. I'm going to unpack it and ship the stuff inside next week, and sit on the trunk for a while until I decide if it's worth the trouble to take it home. I mean, I know, for $40 I could get another one from the Container Store at Christmas when I go back to LA to pick up all my stuff from the storage unit. But this one has sentimental value! It has stickers from international voyages! Like caricatures of luggage have! I have that!


In other news, last night I began sewing the edging on to the Leaf Blanket. Wow, is it so much easier and quicker than I feared. And when I had one whole side, a corner, and part of the top done, I looked at it and squealed in accomplishment. The end is in sight! And the finished blanket will look good! I'll really have to block the hell out of it again, but maybe it'll be ready to send by next weekend when I ship the boxes. Sweet!

That's about all I have. It's Friday, thank God. Tonight is game night at Jon's - Settlers of Catan, woo-hoo! Tomorrow is poker night at Geoff's, after another couple rounds of the 777 Steps, and then Sunday is set for being Indian for a day. I'll get to wear a sari, apparently. I'll let you know how all that goes.

Also, I would like to apologize for the excessive use of exclamation marks in this post. Clearly, my writing skills have degenerated to an embarrassing degree.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hump Day, Slump Day

Ah, blog. I do love you, I really do. I've just been distracted. I will probably continue to be distracted for a while.

There's just a lot to do. Loan applications, class registration, packing and shipping, avoiding thinking about all the stuff I need to do by reading and watching movies. Why not the blog as a procrastination tactic? Unfortunately, sometimes it falls into the "things I need to do" category, and therefore becomes undesirable even though it's really sort of a pleasurable thing.

Anyway, I just wanted to post because I've actually attached progress pictures of the things I'm working on to their Ravelry details. The Prepster Librarian is progressing, and I'm just about ready to start attaching the edging to the Leaf Blanket. The edging is easy to do but interminable, and now the same goes for the Prepster, I think. 1 x 1 rib sucks. I'm bored of it, and am thoroughly disappointed in how uneven my stitches are appearing. I usually knit with a pretty regular tension, that first Bamboozled notwithstanding, but somehow there are a ton of stitches on the Prepster that have completely wacky tension. What gives? It doesn't bug me enough to start over, however I am concerned that it will fit. It seems very narrow, and narrow is exactly what my hips are not. I'm going to keep going for a while and then see if I can try it on somehow. Otherwise, I'm happy with the yarn and color.

Also, Battlestar Galactica is the awesomest thing to come along since Firefly. If only the DVDs had more than two freaking episodes each. If only I didn't already know the show is over, and that therefore my enjoyment will be limited. If only I could fly a space fighter.

Ha! They'd never let me fly anything, my vision is too crap.

Oh, and I finished the third ridiculous glittery vampire book. Not sure how I felt about it. I have the fourth and am forcing myself to wait until this weekend before starting it, as I know that once I start it will be very hard to stop until it ends. And then it will end, and my guilty pleasures books will be all done. I know, I have a bunch of quality books to read, but I like to switch them up with rubbish. Keeps me balanced. Three more months with nothing but genuine literature (Dostoevsky? really?) and academic type things might fatigue my brain before I even start school, and then where will I be?

On the other hand, perhaps it will allow me to speak two sentences together without any obvious grammatical flubs. That's gotten pretty rare these days.

Tonight I will be sending the first package home. A trunk full of winter things, souvenirs, the knit blanket my mother made me years and years ago (a blanket that implies she was on some very powerful narcotics at the time, though she wasn't), and yarn. Glorious yarn. Must go buy more while I still have a job, and send it on. It's light, it's squashable, it's delightful.

Oh, crap, I almost forgot! Yes, I went to the bachelorete (sp?) party. It was extremely weird. The stripper turned out to be another ALT from the next city, and I think that the #1 Rule of Attending a Party That Has A Stripper is that you are not supposed to know said stripper. I knew this dude's name and job (teacher, btw) and had a distinct memory of him hitting on my friend at last year's Christmas party. Eeeeeeewwwww. Then of course, there was the fact that the party was made up of five Japanese girls who spoke very little English and four or five Western girls with varying degrees of Japanese (I, at Level Really Bad, was the worst), and neither group actually knows the other. But it was fine, and the food was good. When I uploaded my pictures this morning I may have blushed a little, but then, I blush at anything.

Two more hours. Sigh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

10 Things I Want to Share


1) I am now caught up on all the blogs I read. Mostly anyway - I did skip over a few, but I will continue reading them now that I can just read the most recent one rather than have to wade through three weeks worth of blogs from a variety of sources.

2) I have posted some of my pictures from China and two little explanations of such. I'm not finished, but iWeb is making me want to hurt somebody. Those are available at my Japan blog. The reason that blog is separate, by the way, is because when I first got here I needed a way to post pictures and talk about what I was doing in a way that would be easy for my friends and family, but especially my mother, to access, and I started this blog much later. The Japan blog is unsearchable and only available to the people I give the link to, whereas this is available through Ravelry and is searchable (but who the hell would be searching or me?). I like my privacy. But iWeb is getting increasingly more slow and difficult, and access to that blog seems less likely to disrupt my life than it used to, so feel free to enjoy.

3) I bought hiking boots the other day. They are very pretty and I love them. I will wear them tomorrow when I do the 777 again, so I can start breaking them in at the same time I continue my quest to get in shape for Fuji-san. Last weekend I did the 777 twice right in a row, and I wasn't all that sore afterwards. Good sign.

4) I saw Watchmen, finally. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the book. Several of the actors were not just terrible, but terrible choices for the role. Rorschach was the notable exception - he was note-perfect, as far as I was concerned. The change to the ending made sense for the movie, but I was still disappointed. The fight scenes were great and very sexy, but all wrong considering the whole point was that these were normal people acting as superheroes. Anyway, if nothing else the release of the movie prompted me to read the graphic novel, and I loved it, so at least there's that.

5) I saw the Twilight movie, too, finally. It was even more terrible than I expected. Way more terrible than the books, and they weren't in line for the Pulitzer to begin with. Oh, well, now I know.

6) I am still working on the lace edging for the Leaf Blanket. The child for whom it is intended is now two months old. I feel sort of like a failure. In the failure vein, I also still have not mailed my dad's birthday present, even though his birthday was April 2 and I called from China and had a Chinese beer for him (several, actually), just as I said I would.

7) Just when I thought I was done with baby things for a while, another friend is pregnant, and for once it's a friend who I know will genuinely enjoy and appreciate a hand-knit item. Sigh.

8) I started the Prepster, because every time I looked at the lace edging and thought how I needed to work on it, I talked myself into doing something else instead, and I needed to get back into the knitting groove. Also, I needed to knit something for myself. I adore the yarn I'm using, because it feels so soft and squishy and slippery-in-a-good-way. Here's hoping I've done my math right, cause I'm doing it in the round.

9) I have decided to attend the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's School of Library and Information Science in the fall. This decision and process, and the financial implications that I am only now fully grasping, have caused me a great deal of stress and taken up a great deal of my time lately. I am excited, but also sort of feel like I might vomit. If anyone has a few spare tens of thousands of dollars lying around, I am a very worthy recipient.

10) I am tired of my job. Also, today I am extremely grumpy. There is a bachelorete party tonight for someone I don't actually know, but to which I am invited because I'm American and am friends with the organizer of said party. Part of me is insanely curious about the stripper that has supposedly been procured (this being rural, backwater Japan, I'm having a hard time with the visuals), the rest of me wants to just sit at home, knit, and watch the Full Monty (either way, I get strippers). Regardless, two and a half more hours of work and grumpiness. Bleah.

But here's some Engrish for you, from the Lama Temple in Beijing:
Oh, but I am excessively diverted.

Ed: Because I am retarded.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Aliiiiiiiive!

Yes! I'm back! Oh, Blog of My Heart, hello!

Sorry about that. I actually returned to Japan one week ago exactly, but there's just been so much to catch up on, and it feels like I was gone way longer than eight days. Did you miss me? (it's okay to lie to me, my ego demands it) because I missed you. Well, sort of. I mean, I didn't actually spend all that much time as I was climbing the Great Wall or prancing through the Summer Palace thinking about my knitting blog, but you know what I mean. Since I procured the pictures in this blog, you know that I was thinking about you!

Fetching in the Forbidden City

I've been trying to get all of my trip stuff up on my regular blog, but on Friday I was finally publishing the first round of pictures and commentary, and iWeb spent thirty minutes saying it was publishing (time during which I cannot do anything else on my computer because all there is is the Spinning Color Wheel of Supreme Frustration) but then at the last minute proclaimed an error and I was back where I started. GAAAHH!! I did not miss that bulls*** (sorry, can't curse, my mom reads this).
More Fetching at the Summer Palace

So, anyway, MLE was sweet enough to drop me a line yesterday inquiring whether I had been kidnapped and sold into slavery, so I thought I'd come by quickly and say hello. Okay, actually she just asked if I was coming back (and thank you for that!), but the kidnapping fear was one that crossed my mind a time or two before I set out to China all by my lonesome, so there you go.

Now, I promise to give you the link to my trip stuff when iWeb stops taunting me and lets me publish it, and to tell you all about the small amounts of knitting I've eeked out since I last blogged, in a few days. Meanwhile, I have somehow caught a cold despite the long-awaited arrival of spring, and am going to watch Battlestar Galactica and drink jasmine tea. Good evening, my little Langoliers!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sayonara and Ni Hao

Brief post, without even a picture, to let you all know that in eight hours (sheesh!) I'll be leaving for Beijing. I'm gone for just over a week, and while there will be plenty of picture-taking, a bit of knitting (I've got to knit at least a few stitches on the Great Wall, after all), and at least enough internet to call my dad on his birthday next Thursday, there will be no blogging. Rest assured, dear reader, that I will be having plenty of fun without you.

When I get back, reports on the trip, Watchmen, and that *@^%$#&@(@&$^%$% blanket. Later!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Progress Report For Those With Low Standards

Now for an actual knitting update.

Well, I've been... not living up to my own expectations. There's a big surprise.

On the one hand, I finished Brenda's gloves, a project I started back in January, I think. Way overdue.
Name: Not Quite Xmas Gloves, for Brenda here in Yats. A belated Christmas gift.
Pattern: Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath. Again.
Yarn: Ski Yarn Imperial Junmou Aibito, in color #3. Ski Yarn used to be Motohiro, the name that's on the label I have. I noticed the change in Ravelry and it made me wonder. Why in God's name would you make that change? It's possible that "Ski" is actually some mangled anglization of the Japanese word "suki (好)", which means "like" as in "I like this yarn" and is pronounced much the same as "ski," but so many uses of English words in Japanese products are so completely and obviously random that I can't be sure.
Needles: Bamboo DPNs, size 5
Other Stuff: Nothing exciting. Tried a new trick with the thumbs that didn't make any difference. Worked on these at Starbucks, at home, on the train, and most unusually, at work last week. I went and hid in a back room with my Japanese homework poised to cover it should someone walk in. While nobody has specifically said that I cannot knit at work, I know damn well that it would not go over well. However, I'm four months from going home and finding it hard to feel guilty. Most likely I'll be doing more of that.

Gave them to Brenda over the weekend and she loves them. Too bad it's already spring here and they are no longer necessary. Bummer. But there's always next year!Also, the Moon Booties are just about done. They're only waiting for some sort of tie-type thing to go through those little holes. I haven't made one yet because I need to finish the edging for the Leaf Blanket first, then I'll see what the yarn situation is like.

On the other hand, the Leaf Blanket... I'm not sure I can make myself go into that right now. Later, maybe, after I eat this pig-shaped cookie one of the other teachers gave me for some reason. I mean, how can you go wrong with a pig-shaped cookie, right? Oh, wait, this is Japan. The number of things that can go wrong is very large.

Thank you for your kind thoughts regarding my computer! It's nice to know that others are as addicted as I am. And really, what did people do at work before the internet? Knit, I suppose, or read, or chat with their co-workers. Take long coffee and smoke breaks. Maybe they even worked? Naw. If that were the case, wouldn't we all have flying cars and peace on Earth or something?

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Love My Powerbook

My baby

I would have updated sooner, but on Monday I spilled water on my beloved, my pet, my precious Powerbook. I was at work, goofing off as usual, and I knocked over my mug of water so it splashed onto my touch-pad and part of the keyboard. I freaked out a little bit, and the super-sweet teacher who sits next to me jumped up and helped me wipe up, and it seemed okay. I started using it again, intending to continue playing Lexulous on Facebook, when the touch-pad started wigging out. In turn, I wigged out, and immediately shut down the whole computer. For good measure, I took the battery out, since it's in that same corner that was drenched, and wiped everything down again. I decided to leave it all that way for a while.

Oh. My. God. Is work boring without a computer. I was at junior high and I had no classes and nothing to busy myself with but the school computer (looks bad if I sit there and use it all day. well, looks worse than usual, anyway). Suck. I emailed a few people for advice and was told by another Apple advocate about how he dropped his iPhone on train tracks in the pouring rain and just let it dry out for a few days, after which it continued working fine.

So I left everything off and apart until Wednesday night, when I pressed the power button with a pounding heart and a thousand fears. Thankfully, because Macs are awesome, everything was golden. I promptly did a complete back-up to the external drive and aside from checking my email, left it at that.

Now I'm in the process of making sure all my photos are double backed-up on DVDs and the EHD, since if I were to drop this thing down a flight of stairs tomorrow, those would be what I missed the most. And today is a holiday (Vernal Equinox, word), so I just spent a few hours catching up on all the blogs and Facebook updates and other useless stuff to which I have become so thoroughly addicted in the last year and a half.

You know, one can live peacefully without a computer. Tuesday at work was pretty mind-numbingly boring, but by Wednesday I'd wised up, brought a book and my knitting, completed my Japanese homework (bleah), graded a bunch of papers, and sneaked off into a corner in the afternoon to finish Brenda's gloves. I know, it's really wrong that I let them pay me to knit, but hey man, it is what it is. It's just that if you have a computer, and if you're used to amusing yourself for eight hours a day on a computer, and using your computer to talk to your family who are on the other side of the world, you kinda get used to having it work.

I've also been doing a bunch of knitting stuff, but I'm honestly trying not to let these posts drag on too long. I get wordy, I know. But I did want to share with you the saga of my brilliant, lovely, more than three year old Powerbook that's full to the brim with stuff and still works like a dream even after getting wet. Okay, maybe "works like a dream" is pushing it, but seriously. Considering I've schlepped this thing all over the world, not to mention to work everyday on a bicycle, this is an amazing piece of machinery. Thank you, Steve Jobs, thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flowers

Isn't Friday supposed to be for eye candy or something? I keep seeing that on other people's blogs. So I've got something for you.Last Saturday I went and climbed the 777 Steps. This is exactly what it sounds like - a giant staircase up a mountain. Saturday was a nice day, and after reading about the Great Wall and talking to Pantalones del Fuego about the hike from one section of the Wall to another, I reflected that I am sadly out of shape and decided to tackle the steps. I've done them twice before, since they're only a little farther than my school, and last fall a group of us did the 3,333 Steps that are about a half hour away by car. The 777 killed me the first time, not so much the second time, and the 3,333 crippled me.
Also, I've been trying to get in shape so that I can climb Mount Fuji in July, just before I go home for good. That hasn't been working out so well, in that I haven't been working out much at all.
Surprisingly, while I was wheezing like an old smoker by the time I got to the top, it wasn't as bad as I thought. It takes less than 15 minutes to get to the top, and there's a lovely view of Yats from there, and I sat for a bit, ate an onigiri, and knit a row on the Leaf Blanket. But it was a bit chilly at the top, my fingers started to freeze when I cooled off from the climb, and I left.

There was this dude, however, who was just coming down when I got there, passed me on my way up as he climbed again, then passed me again on his way down as I was still struggling up, and then did the whole thing over again twice more while I was at the top and on my way down. You should have seen him! Charging up and down the steps like it was nothing! Five times at least! He must be made out of rubber bands and iron.Anyway, back to your eye candy - on the way home (I biked, by the way, so that was extra exercise), I stopped to take pictures of these lovely weeds. Aren't they pretty? Spring is just about here, which is thrilling! There were bees absolutely swarming over these guys, which I didn't realize until I'd started snapping away. Tried to get some good ones of the bees, but they were zipping around too much.And that's all I got. Oh, except I joined Twitter, for some reason. Anyone on there? I'd be happy to follow you, since I clearly need more ways to waste my time on the internet. I'm Traky007.

Edited - whoops, hit publish WAAAY too early.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

These Boots Were Made For Walking... on the Moon.

The blanket is still blocking. Actually, it's probably not blocking so much as sitting, pinned all to hell, on the futon upstairs.
Wanted to show you the booties in progress. I no longer remember how or why I came across this pattern (that's the magic of Ravelry, isn't it?), but I fell in love with how it looks. Don't they just look like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or maybe the original Star Trek?
I'm making them out of the same yarn as the Leaf Blanket, but I think it's really too thick for them. I'm using size 1 needles, as the pattern suggests, and it's a struggle. My shoulders turned into extremely tense earrings during the first one, and I haven't tackled much of the second yet. Though really, the reason I haven't done the second one yet is because the Harry Potter books I ordered arrived and I realized that I needed to re-read the fifth one immediately or some sort of vortex of hell would swallow me up.
Anyway, the first bootie is so cute I could cry, but there were some difficulties. I found the instructions for how to shape the top of the shoe a bit odd, and then doing joining again in the round for the leg part left a small hole. Worst, though, is that I stupidly, stupidly did not do a looser bind off at the top. The pattern says 22 rows after the eyelet row, which seems weirdly tall - I only did 20 and it was very long. With a regular bind off, it tightened considerably, and while I don't know much about babies, my limited experience tells me they all have chubby little legs rather than twigs. I folded it over as in the picture, and here's hoping it fits without cutting off the circulation in her ankles. And then, how in the heck did it get all arched like that, and why are the top ribby things so much larger than the bottom?

Tonight I will try to make myself practice a crochet border and see about starting the actual border on the actual blanket.

Oh, and I do have the answer to one question I raised last time - that day's lunch was a typically bizarre combination of two dinner rolls, sauceless spaghetti with bacon bits and pieces of spinach, half a hard-boiled egg in some sort of meat shell, and fruit-and-yogurt salad. Ah, Japan, how I shall miss you. I'll have to try much harder to get my daily dose of weirdness back in the States.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby Blanket Blocking

Hagadaga! All right!The Leaf Blanket knitting is done. That bad boy is blocking in my apartment as we speak (type/read/whatever).

These pictures are terrible, and for that I am sorry. It's been raining for the past two days here, making picture lighting non-existent, and the only surface on which I could block this thing is white (and yes, it is a futon). So you can't see it well, but just use your imagination, that's what it's for. Alternately, wait until it's finished-finished, and you'll get a better picture (hopefully).Why yes, yes, I did pin the hell out of it. I'm nervous how it will turn out once I un-pin it and start the crochet border, because the yarn is mostly acrylic and acrylic doesn't block well, right? Making it not an ideal choice for lace projects. But there is wool in the yarn, and when I got it wet to block it there was a reassuringly wet-wool smell, so maybe that will help. Who knows?Now I have to figure out how to make a nice border. I had planned to do it in the same yellow yarn I used for the cabled baby blankets last year, but when I actually held up that yarn to this blanket, it was clear that would never do. Again, bad lighting = no picture, but since the blanket yarn is a cream in the slightly yellow range (you can't tell here, but I promise it's true), it looked atrocious with the rich butter yellow (sort of neon under florescent light) of the Fantasy yarn. A word popped in to my head immediately upon seeing it, and that was poisonous. Very apt.

I do have a skein of the Fantasy in pink, which I could do since the kid is a girl, but I detest that kind of gender-based color coding. The blanket took less yarn than I thought, and I have one skein of the Hamanaka left over. But is that enough? Am I going to get a tiny bit of border, run out, and then be forced to re-do or find my way back to Kumamoto to buy more? Is the border even going to work with my pathetic crochet skills? Will it take six years and inhuman patience? Will I finish and send it this month? Will Sheila and baby like it? What's for lunch today? What do you think birds think about when they fly? Are we alone in the universe?

The answers to these, and many others, probably not on this blog.

Edited for poor diction.