Monday, December 31, 2012

The End Already?

Wow, time really got away from me. After Dozer passed away I then lost the African Grey parrot (Stormy) to a seizure and the next week one of the parakeets died (Skye).  What a crappy month.

Right now everyone is hale.  The indian ringneck (Kiwi) has been moved out to the computer desk & the play cage and I am trying to stuff her with food as she is thinner than I would like.  It is fun to visit with her, although I miss Stormy calling me "HEY! Girl! HEY!" all the time.   I also moved Wavey the parakeet in with Opal the parakeet and they seem to have come to a room mate agreement.  It is too early to say if they like each other, but the nitpicking has lessened. 

This year I read some books, knit some things and played some World of Warcraft.  I went to gardening every week I was supposed to.  I watched some movies, took an online class and adopted a dog that was pound-bound.

Next year?  Maybe finally apply for a new job, maybe go back to making soap, maybe get serious about honing my German language skills, maybe knit some things, read some books & play some more WoW.  Walk the dog more and do the dishes more as well. 

And blog more.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Moving Forward

I'm making it through each day, getting up, going to work, checking FaceBook & Ravelry and finding things to smile about. 

I'm taking pleasure in showing more attention to some of the other pets (Kiwi parrot particularly) to remind them that I love them and to remind myself all is not lost.  Kiwi is looking thin, but I am making mixed veggies and keeping the dish extra full and hope to see a positive improvement soon.  She has been a good bird for almost 10 years now and deserves to be spoiled.

Finished reading "The Hobbit" during a lazy Sunday in bed this morning; soon I plan to go see the new movie. 

The new term of the Harry Potter knitting group (soar, Ravenclaw!) starts on Jan 1 and I have spent a lot of time on the forums visiting, reminiscing and planning projects for the next term.  I have some lofty goals and a lot of yarn at my disposal.

Hope you are all well out there in internet land.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I just got back from the vet. I put my darling Dozer to sleep today.  I am so sad. I loved this dog so much. In addition, this is the third dog I had to euthanize this year and it does not get any easier. He has been my companion for more than 10 years and we went on so many adventures together.  He got his tooth stuck in a chainlink fence, he tried to get kicked by horses, sheep, donkeys and goats, he was a dog friendly dog who liked walks, overnight visits and the dogpark.  He was my rock through some difficult times these last few years and I would not have made it without his calm presence.

I do have some dog overlap; I got Holly a couple months ago so Dozer could teach her all his bad habits. She was a quick study.  Of course, I haven't told anyone about her so it is another whole issue to figure out how to present her to everyone. 

But none will ever replace Dozer; he was a gem of a dog and the last thing the vet said to him was "well Dozer there sure wasn't anything wrong with your heart" while he was listening at the end.  True words. I miss you, buddy.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


... and semiprecious.

Presenting the semiprecious scarf.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Very Cordial

The spinning wheel is fixed and I am finishing up some merino tencel roving in my own "cherry cordial" colorway.  It is smooth, shiny and gorgeous.  No in progress photos yet (Beaker chewed my camera cord), but here is the fiber I started with. 
I don't usually use colors this bright, so I have no idea what it will become (maybe socks), but it sure is pretty. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Up & Running

Monday I finally had the motivation to get my spinning wheel up and running.  It has been a dustcatcher ever since the drive band snapped 3 years ago.  I bought a new one last November, but progress did not... progress. 

Monday was a lovely warm day - one of the last of the season, I suspect - and I collected a rag, the drive band, a screwdriver and gave it a good going over.  It took only about 30 minutes, including repairing the scotch tension which I didn't even know was broken! 

Now it is good as new and I have been spinning some lovely pink / red / purple merino/tencel blend at a laceweight.  I am thinking of using it just as a singles yarn & not plying, but might have to do some experiments first. 

I forgot how much I enjoy spinning.  While I did do some spinning on a drop spindle in the intermission, it was not the same.  I love the treadling, the drafting, watching the bobbin fill up with lovely fine yarn. 

It feels good to have it fixed. I may have to fix some other stuff soon. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Tired Hand, Warm Neck

The Ophelia scarf is all done and is extremely soft. 

New scarf in the same pattern cast on and knitting away.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Soapy Monday

Making soap.  Eucalyptus and pumpkin tonight, and maybe some vanilla sheep for variety.  Then it will be time to work on my scarf - it must be done, photographed & posted before midnight on the 31st. 

Off to stir the pot!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There is Pansies, That's for Thoughts

I am knitting away on the Ophelia yarn - can it really be 4 years since I spun it?  The time has flown.  The scarf is The Prismatic Scarf and is going well. I fear it will be too short, but if it worse comes to worst, I can add buttons & I cord and call it a cowl. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Morning Mumbles

I've had a good couple of weeks. Work has become fun again, now that we have a couple more people trained up on problem files (my specialty) and because it is a slower time of the month.  It will pick up again at month end later this week, but I am enjoying the respite.

I am still knitting for my Harry Potter / Ravenclaw house knitting group on Ravelry.  I finished some fingerless mittens, some crocheted butterflies, a couple washcloths and am working on a scarf.  There is more I want to finish this month, but am pretty satisfied so far.

The pets are still falling apart: Fritti is sneezing again, Galen has a gross toe, Dozer's lump isn't getting better, Carrie has escaped & I haven't seen her in days and the dogs think Lizzie is a chase & bark toy, which is the most obnoxious problem.

Hopefully I will catch up with picture taking and make some more visual posts later in the week.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stash Thursday

Some beautiful blue merino roving / top I picked up at Lambtown last year.  Not a fantastic picture, but the fiber is really lovely. 

Hopefully at some point I will stop posting about stash fiber & start working with stash fiber!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Stash Monday

Today is the last day of vacation. Maybe I will finally  take an hour and get the spinning wheel back in working order.  There is stash to be spun! 

This is some yak roving that I got at Lambtown last fall.  It is grey-brown and amazingly soft.   I suspect I was thinking I could spin it on my charka, but a featherweight spindle would work well too. 

Friday, October 05, 2012

Vacation: Day 1

Yesterday had a definite knitting & TV theme to it, as most everything I did was knit and watch Hulu plus. I found a great show called Circus and watched the first few episodes.  It is heartwarming, fascinating, funny and poignant in turns.

I knit an Acorn for Quidditch. It was a fast and easy knit and I think I will make a bunch of them.  The pattern is so easy I can memorize it and make acorns every time I need to fill a little time with knitting or have a small amount of yarn.  I bet they would make great cat toys.

I also knit a Corgi washcloth for Muggle Studies class.  It is a washcloth for people which sports a corgi, not a washcloth for washing  your corgi.  Sorry.  It went surprisingly quickly (although not as quickly as my regular diamond shaped ones) and I bet I can finish the coordinating one (for Potions) today.

In the morning I finished Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire and it was a fun read.  Starting book 5 on Sunday!

Having a day where I didn't have to go anywhere was wonderful; I can't remember the last one.   I haven't had a Monday off in a while and I work on Sundays so it seems like I have to be "up and at ' em" every single day.  Today I think a dogwalk is in order if it stays cool. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stash Thursday

I love naturally colored wool and I love superfine fleece. Cormo  wool is the best of both worlds. This is 5 oz white & 2.5 oz natural grey roving from Cormo Sheep & Wool Farm (blog here)  It is certainly not enough for sweater, but would make a nice vest or hats or shawls or mittens.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gamification - Project 2

[The prompt: Create a gamified system for a city government to increase fitness & decrease insurance costs]

Most people realize that exercise and fitness are important to good health and quality of life.  No one likes to be sick or unwell, but sometimes the choices people make contribute to an unhealthful lifestyle and they need the structure of a program to make changes.  Creating a gamified system to provide extrinsic motivation and rewards is a way to encourage healthful habits, and when people start to feel the physical improvements in their lives, they will continue the behaviors for the intrinsic value.

For the employees of the city of Werbachia, I propose adding an activity reporting feature to the automated timeclock that the city uses to track attendance and hours.  This will be a low-cost, uncomplicated way for employees to report their daily physical activity and this data will be reported back to users in a weekly progress update that tracks their progress against themselves & against an average of the other city employees.

The game elements of this program include:
  • checking in
  • points for the different categories of activity (more for strenuous activity or muscle strengthening, fewer for light activity or cardio)
  • badges for completing activity goals
  • feedback (in the weekly report to track & compare progress)
  • quests (a monthly newsletter will give activity suggestions and directions for completion of goals)
At the outset, primary motivation to record activity and encourage increased exercise will be extrinsic. By linking the activity report to the automated timeclock, every employee will have 4 opportunites per day to log their exercise (clocking in & out for the day and in & out for lunch). Because the city uses the same system for all employees, this will relatively simple & cost efficient to implement and maintain.

Every week the employees will receive a progress report which will give them feedback.  They will be able to see their own progress over time and compare their progress to that of the group of city employees as a whole.  The individual employee can choose to share this information with their peers, and this gives the user flexibility and control over the "game". This feeling of engagement is critical to a successful gamified system.  Those who are motivated by self-improvement will be pleased and those who are motivated by cometition with peers and the main group will be pleased as well.

Physical fitness is, well, physical and the more the city employees utilize the system and work to increase their activity levels to progress in the "game", the more they will become fit and feel more healthy and energized.  This good feeling becomes an intrinsic motivator for the user to continue to progress.  What was once a requirement becomes a good and rewarding habit.  In this way, using a gamified system to initiate & encourage increased physical fitness using external motivation leads to the creation of a desire to continue the habit for the intrinsic reward of health and happiness.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stash Thursday

Amazingly, I am actually knitting a project with this stash yarn.  It is a skein of hand dyed, local grown, local processed alpaca.  I am making Celestine for my Ravenclaw knitting house.  It is a very fiddly project, but interesting, and I am practicing some techniques I don't usually use, like picking up & knitting to add a section.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Gamification - project 1

The prompt: Provide reasons why gamification could be a useful technique [to sell breakfast pastry].

My submission: Gamification can be a useful technique to reach the goal of increasing the market share of Cereals Inc in the breakfast ready-to-eat market. Incorporating game elements to our product can make the experience more fun for our customers and can increase consumption and brand loyalty.

A primary goal of gamification is to engage people in everyday activities (customer engagement). By adding the right game-like components to our marketing plan, users will begin to associate our pastry with a fun and engaging experience they will want to repeat (easy fun).  We also want them to share with their friends and family, which will encourage more people to try our product in addition to the positive feeling that customers will get from sharing the information (people fun).

Games appeal to men and women equally, and the majority of people in the young adult demographic are comfortable with gaming (broad appeal).  Finding game elements and techniques that will catch and hold the interest of the consumer is becoming the new normal and the product that is fun to use will have an advantage.

It is also possible to use gamification to recognize and reward good habits. This could be as simple as eating breakfast every day or a more complex idea such as enabling users to track thier eating, nutrition and exercise patterns.  A sense of satisfaction from posting progress or meeting goals is another element of fun that gamification can provide.

The applications of gamification are many, but our goal is a simple one: for our customers to feel that choosing a breakfast pastry from Cereals Inc is more than just a meal, but rather a fun and rewarding experience they would like to repeat.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Juggling Goslings

My plate is full, full, full here at Chez Pickyknitter. I'm trying to pretend it is not far too much for one woman to handle.

Work - We've been on full schedules (8 hours x 5 days, minimum) for a few months now and I am starting to miss the slow weeks when we had 6 hour days. It was a nice break after the week of 14-18 hour days during month-end.  However, I like the paycheck and won't complain too loudly.

Reading - I have several books partially started & then set aside (Don Quixote, The Awakening, & Bleak House all spring to mind) but my current pusher book is An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon.  It is a weighty tome, but good for dipping in and out of, unlike the classics which require my full attention (and often, my notebook).  In addition, I am re reading the Harry Potter series and finished book 1 this week.  I will exchange it for book 2 tomorrow.

SciFi & Fantasy class (online) - I am behind in my reading for this unit... I'm not even entirely sure who the authors are.  I need to "get a move on" as the next essay is due by Tuesday. I should at least watch the introductory video for the unit tonight before I go to bed.

Gamification class (online) - I am caught up in the videos and the quizzes, but need to prepare the exercise / essay for the first class which is due in, uh, 19.75 hours. Yikes.

Knitting - I am almost done with the Springy socks but mislaid the contrasting color yarn at the last minute and now they are on hold. I picked up a scarf in progress to keep my hands busy, but am quite miffed about the socks.  I am in a Harry Potter themed knitting team on Ravelry (Soar, Ravenclaw!) and am planning 6 small projects to be complete before the month is out, plus trying to keep up with all the chatter on the forums.  Chatter is my favorite part; my Gamification instructor would nod sagely and approve of the social aspect of Ravelry being a huge part of the fun I have there.

Things being squeezed out - Soap. I have got to make soap.  Washcloths. I have got to knit washcloths.  Pets. I have got to walk / wash / snuggle / groom the pets.  House. I have got to clean the house. World of Warcraft. I have got to catch up and get ready for the new expansion.

All righty, enough procrastinating. Time to do some reading for class! 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stash Thursday

I photographed part of the stash yesterday and organized it on my Ravelry page.  The idea is that if it is taring me in the face, maybe I will use it!

Today's selection is some of the fiber I have acquired from Red Fish Dye Works.  They have beautiful, reliable fiber & color. I just realized that two skeins of sock yarn escaped the camera, I will have to add them later.  One is blue and one is orange... I sense a pattern emerging.

Merino / Silk handspun 4 oz

80 Merino / 20 silk 4 oz

50 Merino / 50 silk 4 oz
Silk yarn, 2 ply 120/2
Silk yarn, 2 ply 120/2

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Thurs - no, Wednesday

It's a day, for the sun is up. Beyond that I am not making any claims.

It is cool & gray out.  Apparently our "June Gloom" has finally arrived. It has been burning off hot, but I like it right now.

I'm having a busy month, what with online classes, work, knitting for a class on Ravelry, fun knitting, guilt knitting, fun reading and generally being alive. 

The plan for today needs to involve some pictures, methinks.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Invisible Man: Clearly Curious

People are naturally curious, and in Wells' "The Invisible Man", he explores the different kinds of curiosity that we have.  He shows that the answers we get are not always what we expect.

The townsfolk of Iping are immediately curious about the stranger in their midst.  His dress, his manner and his overbearing tone all excite their interest and there are multiple attempts to discover his story. They seem to be curious purely for the sake of entertainment, but as the story progresses we see that had they known what the stranger was, they could have been prepared for his behavior.  However, they had little warning of his anger and desperation, or of the risk he posed. In their situation, curiosity is a method of self defense.

This story behind the stranger is eventually revealed when the Invisible Man retells his experiments & adventures to Kemp. We learn at last that Griffin had been curious about the idea of invisibility and this alone drove his research.  Like Shelley's Victor Frankenstein, Griffin became obsessed with the process leading up to his goal, and did not stop to reflect on the moral or practical implications until after the experiments were complete.

The townsfolk of Iping (and, later, other regions) continue to be curious about the events surrounding the Invisible Man and to discuss it amongst themselves. They are able to share information and work together to attempt a defense against his rampage.  However, the wages of Griffin's curiosity are death; his lack of forethought and the absence of any trusted confidante end in tragedy when he is killed.  His pure scientific curiosity is very real, but ultimately unsustainable.

Peer response: form
student1 → In general the grammar is adequate. The sentence structure is very basic. Simple and clear sentences are not wrong, but they are also not outstandingly crisp. I scored this a two.
student2 → Clear writing style; easy to follow.
student3 → good essay with good use of words and paragraphs
student4 → The presence of a man in a small town where is his a stranger is a curious matter. People are bound to be a little anxious about a bandaged stranger. However the theme of curiosity seems a little weak. People are alarmed by the unexplained occurrences. The invisible man before invisibility has suffered a kind of derangement of mind brought on by the use of drugs. His odd behaviors his course unnatural reactions to the death of his father are examples of who his behavior progresses in such a bizarre manner. Curiosity explains much of the behavior in Ipling but further abroad when the invisible man is perceived as a threat fear and hatred are the moving forces. More importantly they should be afraid. The grammar in this is good and you stick to the point. Every occurrence can be explained by curiosity if you want it to be. In fact you might say it is the quality of being observant and practical that makes people suspect and then fear the invisible man.
peer review: content
student1 → This essay feels very much like a retelling of a portion of the story. I do not believe you addressed different types of curiosity or its importance in the story. I scored this a one for content.
student2 → Suggestion for next time: the point you are making here ("several forms of curiosity are depicted and not all of them end well") is understandable, but - to me - not very original in content. What I'm saying: next time you might go beyond the general reflection upon a theme ("curiosity") and make a bold statement that surprises the reader and makes him or her ponder on it afterwards.
student3 → is a good way to see this story and how you do the comparison between this and the work of frankenstain
student4 → . The content seems a little light. I would have liked to see more examples of curiosity and the quality of observant skepticism. I like the idea that these qualities might be found in a number of key characters. I would have to re read the story looking for it which might be a good idea for the essayist.

Laboring Day

Well, it is a day off for me today, although technically it is my regular day off and I will still be entitled to a holiday day at some point.

It is beautiful out, sunny and clear and not too hot.  I should pack up a dog and go for an adventure, but many  fun options are here at home as well.

Will she clean the house?  Read for her class?  Knit like the wind?  Take a nap?  Weave that blanket? Make some soap?

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poe: An Ap-peal

In Poe's "The Bells" we hear a musical interpretation of the arc of a life. In "The Black Cat" we can see a prose version of one man's "wild yet most homely" journey from happiness to madness (p 223).

The short, happy time of youth is heard in the "merriment" and "crystalline delight" of sleigh bells (ll 3, 8). All is hopeful in the beginning, like the "docility and humanity" which Poe's narrator claims (p 223).

Married partnership lasts slightly longer and the sounds of wedding bells are "harmony" and "euphony" as the couple begin "in tune" (ll 17, 21, 26). Our narrator is "happy" with his wife as her attitude is "not uncongenial" to his own (p 223). Life is pleasant, if uneventful.

Calm is shattered by the "alarum bells" - our narrator begins to drink heavily and undergoes severe personality changes (l 36)(p 224).  He abuses his wife and disfigures Pluto. The bells' sounds of "terror" and "turbulency" are this household's soundtrack where "danger ebbs & flows" (ll 38, 60). The parallel is even seen in the fire that destroys the narrator's home, although the culmination is his wife's "assassination" (p 229). This is the longest stanza of the poem so far and the majority of the story - of a life.

That is, until the final bells - the "iron bells" - the bells of death begin to toll (l 71). No portion of a life is longer or more feared.  The bells' "melancholy menace" is nothing compared to the "Ghouls: / And their king" who rejoice in our demise (ll 75, 89-90). If the narrator is remorseful or lonely for his wife, it is barely addressed, and his undoing is the sound and sight of the one eyed cat, perched on his wife's head, howling and rejoicing in "consigning [him] to the hangman" (pp 230).

Looking at these works together shows that the melodic bells are accompanying the stages of our lives, and that a seemingly simple story is enhanced when you imagine them tolling the changing emotions in a household.

Peer reviews (form)
student1 → All correct for what I could see.
student2 → Most of the sentences are grammatically correct. There aren't important mistakes but the arguments could be laid out in a clearer way.
student3 → The argumentation is too hard to follow. The comparison of the two works is confusing and the similarities and differences of the two are not made very clear.
student4 → Your form is fine. However, the constant references to lines in the poems are a little distracting and make it difficult to follow your thought processes. Perhaps a few less examples and a little more analysis would have been helpful.
student1 → The way of exposure is not inviting for a reader. This is not an essay about an exact science. I would expect to read something like this in, lets say, mathematics.
student2 → This essay shows a deep understanding of the poems and helps us to get a good one to. Its arguments are persuasive and significant. There are many references so I think it deserves a 3.
student3 → The idea is original and it seems interesting to analyse the message of a writing through sensory information. However the argumentation is too confusing to make an impact.
student4 → Your analysis and connections between the bells and the arc of life is intriguing. It is a little harder to see your connections with the black cat-they are thrown in as though in an afterthought. Perhaps limiting yourself to the one story would have allowed more analysis.
student1 → Your essay is more an enumeration of facts then a structured flowing text. Good conclusion though.
student4 → An interesting contrast. Thank you

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Frankenstein: I cobbled it together

In Frankenstein, Shelly often states that the ideal state for the human is "to preserve a a calm and peaceful mind" (p53). In contrast, Victor often feels a "resistless, and almost frantic, impulse" regarding his work (p52).

Victor tries to turn to nature to calm his mind and find peacefulness, such as when he travels through the Alps following Justine's execution. The "whirlwind passions of [his] soul drove [him] to seek" solace in the solid, eternal mountains (p92).  But even here, while contemplating Mount Blanc's "awful majesty" (p96), the being follows him and asks him to take responsibility for his creation.  Victor's past has not been resolved and he cannot yet find peace.

One turning point of the story hinges on this idea and see that Victor's ideas about his creation have become more developed. He is in the Orkney Islands, sitting "idle" for the night when a "train of reflection" comes to him (p164). He goes on to examine his reasons for creating the first being, much less a second one. This is the first time Victor has stopped to reflect, and only in this state does he consider the implications of his work. There was no such moment before creating the first being when "every night [he] was oppressed by a slow fever (p54). Only in a moment of stillness, the "calm and peaceful mind", can Victor see the risks and responsibilities of his goal to reanimate life.

Victor ultimately decides the risks outweigh the benefits and destroys his work. This does not actually solve his conflict with the being, but it does put his heart at ease that he is not perpetuating the monstrosity. He asks the being "Shall I, in cold blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon...?" and is wholly immovable in his resolve (p166).

Victor Frankenstein is a man too easily caught up in his own passions and does not reflect on consequences.  But in a moment of stillness, reflection brings him to one of the most important realizations of his life.

student1 → The work is clearly split into paragraphs with separate introduction and conclusions. Easy to follow.
student3 → Clear and straight forward overall, with a definite thesis.
student4 → Good structure. A few times, the quotation marks are not closed properly making it hard to tell where the closing of the book quote and author's point ends and begins.

student1 → The argumentation is clearly stated with good examples. One can argue, however, that destruction of the second monster was not that good idea given the results.
student2 → I think you need to have a more concrete thesis to base our essay upon. I understand the point you make and the argument as is was is supported, I would have like it to have been developed more.
student3 → I appreciated all of the embedded quotes, which is much harder to do in such a short essay. Direct textual evidence makes an argument significantly stronger.
student4 → Content is good although maybe a few too many quotes from the book.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dracula: My Sucky Essay

I was hard up to express what I intended to in this week's essay on Dracula. However, I scored a 4 out of 6 which is still solid (points are 1-3 each for form & content).  Apparently it was not as sucky as I thought.  I do agree with all the points my peers made, but I was ill and short on revision time.  I will make a better effort in the next unit.

My essay:
The conflict at the heart of Stoker's Dracula is one of order versus disorder.  From the earliest pages of Jonathan's journal, the stage is being set for the reader to see that the British way is one of order, dependibility and safety. This is in contrast to the Eastern European way of disorder, superstition and wildness.  As Jonathan nears the castle in "one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe" (p3) , his interactions and experiences are less and less predictable, rational or controllable compared to his well ordered life back home with Mina.  When Dracula arrives in England, we see that he brings this wildness with him and we are forced to examine what the effect of this influence on the "normal" British existence is. Mina's shorthand journal is mordern, rational, scientific and she says it "soothes me to express myself here" (p61). She will need this comfort, for when the Count's ship comes into Whitby harbor "without warning the tempest broke" (p65).  Mina tries to forestall Lucy's sleepwalking, but she escapes and is attacked by Count Dracula late one night. As Lucy's illness worsens we see her fluctuating between a good, sweet English maid and a possessed creature.  She interacts with her friends and mother during the day as usual, but at night becomes a magnet for the huge & mysterious bat that flaps at her window.  She tries to behave normally, but is literally infected with the wildness of the east; a losing proposition. She must be destroyed and only after a stake is driven through her heart is she again the vision of "sweetness and purity" (p180) that a young English lady should be. Desperate measures are needed to set things right, and ultimately the only solution to the Un-Dead menace is to kill the Count himself.  It will not be possible to reconcile or adapt these two worlds; one must destroy the other.

My peer responses (form):
student1 → The essay is grammatically correct and the references to the pages doesn't complicate the reading, and that happens a lot in the essays. Besides, there are a lot of epithets and examples, that makes the whole essay be interesting to read.
student2 → No problem with grammar and usages. However, splitting the content into paragraphs would make absorbing the content and retaining it easier.
student3 → It would be easier to read if you separated your ideas in paragraphs. Quotations are suggested to be in the works cited part of the essay so they doesn't take that much space in your actual argument.
student4 → I like the style, but the lack of paragraphs to organize the text made it suffer. There is also a few mistakes that could be avoided if revised. 
My peer responses (content):
student1 → There are a lot of examples here. Well, may be too much examples from all the text. What I am trying to say is that the essay if full of quotes from every part of the book, so it looks like a retelling. But it was easy to read and had a very good conclusion.
student2 → The basic theme is good, but some of the examples are a bit long. Having read the book, I think you could have consolidated the examples a bit more. On the other hand, the conclusion is very short and a little too concise.
student3 → Your hypothesis is an interesting one but around the middle of the essay it got a bit diluted with the quotes on Mina and Dracula's arrival. I understand the examples were to make a contrast between the established order and the unpredictable of a storm but the point wasn't demonstrated strongly enough in the way it was written.
student4 → The content was well presented, even if it was bland. Nothing new, nothing deep, but well presented.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Martha's Zigzag Wanderer

Monday, July 23, 2012

School's In

I am taking an online class through Coursera and it started today. I watched 4 videos under 15 minutes each and am exhausted. Ironically, now that the instructor can't see me, I was not working on any knitting.  Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Monday, July 02, 2012


I brought home 2 live pets and a very large credit card bill today.  Fritti is wearing a blue satellite dish that sets off his ginger fur nicely.  Dozer's mystery lump is probably Very Bad News, but I don't have the $180 to get the lab tests done. The vet did not seem sanguine about our options, however.

It was a day fraught with alternating worry & guilt but for tonight I am happy to have them both home & in one piece.  The pressure bandage gets removed in 4 minutes and then I can go do laundry, buy cat food and give him some dinner and a pain injection at 8pm. 

I just wish I was off work tomorrow to play kitty nursemaid.


A big day for the furry residents of Casa de Pickyknitter today:  Fritti the cat gets ear surgery and his teeth cleaned and Dozer the dog gets a checkup, shots and hopefully an answer as to what the mystery lump on his back is.  I have started calling him QuasimoDozer but it doesn't really trip off the tongue. Fritti is 15 and I am somewhat worried about him coming out OK on the other side, but he is a stubborn cat and my vet has probably done this lots of times before.  Also, I paid for the bloodwork to be done and she didn't report anything that would make her think he will have an issue. 

Also on the to-do list: laundry. Luckily the laundromat & the vet are on the same block and there is a Dairy Queen right next door in case I need some comfort snacking.

Still not a lot of very exciting stuff going on here.  I go to work, come home, read, play on the computer, walk the dogs, read some more.  I made a nice spot in the backyard for sitting and enjoying these early summer evenings (noisy neighbors be damned) and it is very relaxing to watch the leaves on the tree sway in the breeze.

In fact, it has been so nice out I am thinking of finally fixing up the spinning wheel and spinning in the evenings.  It is almost time for the Tour de Fleece and I should start "training".  I still haven't made a dent in the fiber I bought last year at the fiber fairs we attended in the fall; I had the pleasure of buying it, the pleasure of knowing I have it, now it is time for the pleasure of processing it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flipping Pages

Not too much going on at Chez Pickyknitter these days.  I go to work, I come home, I play Diablo 3 with friends online, I talk to the parrot and I read.  I've been reading a lot this last few weeks and enjoying in immensely. 

In fact, I think I will sweep the house a bit and read some more.  I am back on Don Quixote... we'll see how long I can stick with it. I have it on my Nook (e-reader) at home and an analog (paperback) copy at work, so it is everywhere I go.

Monday, May 14, 2012

CB 6685

The most recent cockatiel babies were hatched back in February. Of a clutch of 2 I got one normal and one cinnamon pearl - so exciting!
Babies, appx 2 weeks old
Here the older chick is looking very self possessed.

CB6685 2 Apr 12
Today she (or he?) is out for some socialization on the playgym and on my shoulder. Wings are clipped now and s/he is quickly catching on to the idea that humans are not bad, not bad at all.
CB6685 14 May 12
S/He is looking for a new home. Because s/he is still so young (3 months) there is plenty of time to get bonded with a new family. S/he knows how to do "step ups" and loves to snuggle against my neck. So far, a very mellow bird that actually seems to observe and think before acting... imagine that.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Knit One, Walk Two

Tried to get some knitting done today while I was at the laundromat, but found a significant error in the lace about 2-3 rows back and packed it up for the morning. I was not in a good state of mind for lace surgery and didn't have any tools to aid the job.  I pulled out a crocheted doily-in-progress and made a few chains on that before the was was done and it was time to head home. 

Walked the dog twice today; a quick jaunt around the block this morning and then a two mile trip to the next big street and back. The evening was balmy with just a hint of a breeze and we had a nice journey. This is the 7th day in a row of walks (every day since I put Sunny to sleep) and they just keep getting better and easier.  My goal is to work up to at least 2 miles twice a day. So far I don't begrudge the time at all, and we will get faster as we get fitter.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Weekend End

Well, it is back to work tomorrow.  I will do some laundry in the morning beforehand. Maybe knit a row on the shawl.  Come home & take a nap.

It's a thrill a minute here.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Lazy Weekend, Continued

I think I will do a little knitting and watch a movie tonight, so perhaps there will be a picture of the shawl to post tomorrow. I really need to find a new knitting store or make knitting dates to reconnect with my old friends. My social world has shrunk to work-WoW-gardening Sunday and it is just not enough.  I saw a blog post from a knitter the other day and there was a picture from a knitting store of a work table & stock wall and a bunch of happy knitters. I felt an actual visceral reaction of longing for old times at Knit & Stitch. *le sigh*

Another beautifully quiet day today. Did some gardening in the morning, brushed Dozer until the lawn was white with underfur, took him for a jaunt around the block (5th day running) and then played some WoW.  The sparrows were out collecting beakfuls of soft clean fur within 5 minutes of the end of the brushing session.  Those undercoat rakes are amazing. 

Picked up my eReader to start something new and ended up restarting a book I have read twice already this year, The Winter Sea.  It is a romance & historical romance set in present day Scotland and 17th C Scotland with a dash of  inherited memory as a barely believable subplot.

Iris the baby cockatiel and Billy are still sort of cohabitating - he won't let her in his cage so she lives on top of it for now. She is flighted and talented at it and the birds are banished from that room now so they are safe... if a little lonely. Time to go inside, grab my knitting, pour a glass of water and find a cheerful movie.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Walkin' & Talkin'

No knitting content to report, sorry.  I am still chipping away at the Irtfa'a shawl by Anne Hansen, but one row twice a week is slow going.

Dozer and I got baths and then went for a walk this afternoon. I got some lunch and he got a new collar and lead - my birthday splurge.  I like giving him the freedom to walk on the 15' lead, but the trip back from the pet shop with the 4' lead was much more organized. I think he has slept under my chair for the entire time we have been back from our trip. He is still limping in the back; I am not sure if it is overwalking, a jumping off the bed injury or an issue from the mystery lump on his side. This is our 4th day in a row walking - not a huge milestone for some but pretty good for me.  I hope his hip feels better soon, as I will be very sad to have no walkable dogs now that I am trying to get back in the habit of walking.

I read a little, snoozed a little, ate some cake, walked for an hour, snuggled the parrot and played some World of Warcraft.  A pretty good birthday.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Day 2

Walked Dozer again tonight; it was a beautiful mild evening and perfect for a stroll around the neighborhood. I didn't get him brushed, I need to find the grooming equipment.

The cockatiels are in love with the back of my new desk chair. I had Billy (21) out for a while this morning - he shared my toast - and Iris is up there now. Billy proved to be very clever today.  I went in to the kitchen to get something and he flew in & around the corner to find me.

Oh dear, the downside is bird poop on the back of the chair. Time to log off & clean up.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Spring Routine

Today I finished a book! I would tell you all about it but it seems to have mysteriously vanished into the depths of the bookcases.  It was "Plainsong" and a very good read (especially for 50 cents 4 years ago at a library sale).  Several characters' lives converge in this tale of found family.   The writing style was precise, clear and left me feeling that I knew the best, most important things about the characters, as everything extraneous has been stripped away.

This evening I took Dozer for a walk and it was nice. I got to try out my leather jacket and found it warm and comforting. We used the 15' lead around the quiet neighborhood and no incidents worse than wrapping the slack around a lawn sprinkler or two.  Maybe tomorrow I will brush him before we go; it is spring and he is blowing his undercoat.

It feels strange to have only one dog to walk.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I miss my Sunny girl.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I woke up with the urge to do some chores around this place! On the list:
  • taxes
  • laundry (trip to laundrette)
  • dishes
  • pet areas
  • recycling (trip to recycling center)
  • gardening (weeding & garden planning)
  • tune up the bicycle

There is another list for "after payday":

  • 23,000 mile service on the car
  • gardening (trip to nursery for dirt & planting)
  • fix the washing machine

I think the list for today is long enough. I don't know if I will get through it all, but it is time to get started! Billy the cockatiel is helping by dusting off the bird playpen and preening the sisal ropes on his bird swing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weathering the Storm

We have had some rain, wind, hail and general chilliness here today. I love it! The critters don't seem impressed, but I turned the heater on for them as soon as I got home.

The clouds made for some amazing skies tonight on the drive home: black, yellow, white and gray all together. Add rainbows and glints of light from all the clean cars on the freeway and it was just beautiful. Plain blue skies get so boring!

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Hair Thieves

They came. They chopped. I love it.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


I love playing World of Warcraft, as you know. I am also in the beta test for the new content (called Mists of Pandaria). It is going to be a great expansion and worth every penny if all I do is sit on a rock overlooking the lake and listen to the soundtrack.

My sweet Baobei is nice to look at too.
In addition to the low level characters to try out the new race & class, I have brought a high level character over to try out the new "grown up" world and dungeons. It is all very cool, beautiful and exciting to see the working models of the new ideas.

Gaming cuts into my knitting time, but I do so enjoy escaping into another world.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Cheep Entertainment

The newest clutch of baby cockatiels has come out quite nicely. I found two fluffy yellow jelly beans in the nest box back on February 17th, long after I had given up hope for a clutch this spring. They grew up fast and suddenly these sweet faces: Had become these poised and sophisticated young ladies:

The lower pictures were taken just this past Monday. I am particularly excited to have a cinnamon pied in this clutch. The cinnamon in the last clutch was fantastic and this is even more beautiful. The poor normal grey looks quite dowdy in comparison, but she is a lovely shade of slate and recovered well from an accident a few weeks ago which left her missing a toe.

I thought I had some names picked out last night, but I seem to have forgotten them already. Perhaps Iris for the pearl and ... I have no idea for the other one.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

The Vernal Equinox shawl is done and all blocked out. It is still a bit small, but did a nice job warming my shoulders at a play on Saturday night. I should weigh it, weigh the remainder of the yarn and see if I can knit another... or maybe a matching scarf.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Totem Pole

I can see now where I rank. This was taken about 5 minutes after I finished installing and putting sheets on the new mattress. Clearly they wanted to be my product testers.

It is quite nice to have a full mattress, however. How did I live with a twin for 36 years?

Thursday, February 02, 2012


Yesterday was Imbolc and for the return of the light I lit a candle, made some incense and let the dog in / out of the yard a hundred times (well, 2). I resisted buying another rabbit, although they were very soft and on sale.

Progress continues on the Vernal Equinox shawl; at this rate I will have it done by then! I love the yarn so much that I may switch to it for every future project.

Finished another book, this time _American Gods_ by Neil Gaiman. It is a little difficult to describe, but was absolutely absorbing. If you like weird, Neil's your man.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Silk Shawl by Springtime

I don't have nearly enough projects in process, so I am going to take the plunge and complete a shawl for The Loopy Ewe's new challenge- silk.

I am going to make the Vernal Equinox Shawl by Wendy, and the yarn arrived today. It is a wool & silk blend in a lovely green.

The yarn has been made into a ball, some knitting needles have been selected, I read all the way through the pattern (well, skimmed) and am itching to get stitching.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

See? It's Cece!

My friend Martha needed a cardigan for work. I began the knitting before I put that cup on top of the car and drove off. Oopsie.

I knit.
And knit.And then realized I decreased the fronts too sharply (100% too often). I had to rip out the neckband, the yoke and detach the sleeves. The project hibernated for a bit.

I eventually got my act together and reknit the fronts, the sleeves and the neckband. I even bought a button and sewed it on. Martha is wsarmer now. But if she still gets cold....There is always a warm corgi available.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2011

Back in November of 2010, I picked up some dyed fiber at the So Cal Handweaver's show. This is a merino / silk blend dyed by Capistrano fiber arts. My plan for the fiber was to try and break out of my "rut" of using the same colors all the time. I wanted to ply two different colorways together and see what effect I got. I picked out one and Lori suggested the other.

Here is a picutre of the two colorways laid out in all their glory:

Then this July (2011) I decided to join the "Tour de Fleece" with the goal of spinning & plying these 4 oz into one fiinshed skein. It was a pretty respectable goal, as I done almost no spinning during the previous year, I wanted the project to be spun on a hand spindle and (not least) I began about a week into the tour, putting myself at the back of the pack. I started with the green / gold / purple first. I divided each colorway into 4 roughly equal sections to shorten the distance between color changes.

I managed to spin all of the darker colorway with no trouble and almost on schedule. Then I moved on to the sand / orange / purple. I did not enjoy this colorway as much, and it was quite difficult to stick with "the plan". The end of the tour came and went with this portion only about 1/4 complete. Into the project bag it went. I worked on it a little more later in November (a year from yarn purchase) when visiting with friends at this year's handweaver's show. Last weekend a friend hosted a spin-in and I brought it as my only project to try and get it finished at last. I almost made it, and finally finished the spinning Thursday afternoon.

I slid the two cops off onto knitting needles for storage and plied the yarns back onto the same spindle. After about 5 hours worth of work, here is approximately 4 oz of plied yarn. I wanted to make one skein with no breaks, and was successful. The spindle was quite heavy by the end, however.

The finished yarn, all skeined up. It needs a bath to set the twist and make it bloom, but the colors came out beautifully overall. Now I just need to figure out what project to make with it. Something knit, surely, and somewhat large. I may make a triangle shawl so that I can stop when I run out of yarn. A rectangle scarf would also be nice, or even a circular shawl. If I can't decide, I may get crazy and enter it into the county fair this summer.

I enjoyed spinning for the Tour and will do it again this year - hopefully with more planning and forethought. It feels good to finally finish a project and have a little more yarn in the "to knit" stash.

Friday, January 06, 2012