Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I wrote an article on balance in spinning (the fiber kind) about a year ago and sent it to a couple of places. I got no responses, and that was pretty much that, because as you might imagine the audience for articles on spinning is fairly confined. However! I got an e-mail today saying that one of the places is interested in it for publication in the spring. I was quite pleased with the article and its combination of fiber geekiness and physics geekiness, and I'm excited it found a home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jennifer Writer frets

I have a DBA! And business cards! I would feel all professional except that I'm having terrible trouble with this article I'm trying to write. On the plus side, I totally want to write an article about corsets based on Sunday's historic fashions seminar. The article is going to be too short and too vague, I can tell, and I should have insisted on recording it. Ah well. I'll finish a rough draft tonight, and polish it tomorrow and ask for another conversation via phone call.

I was poking through my old school files, looking for the first PowerPoint presentation I ever did (I didn't find it--I'll have to see if it's on a floppy and I can save it; it's from 1998), and found a draft of a grant proposal. I think it was an assignment from grad school, but I'm not sure. However, apparently I have a little grant proposal writing experience. There are always grant writer ads around, and I'd kind of like to look into that, so that was a nice find.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to not to do

I am totally, totally, totally uninterested in writing. This includes the article that I need to get done by Tuesday so that I can send it to the interviewee as promised (I already know that was a bad move, but I promised) and finish it and turn it in after Thanksgiving.

I have finished all the pieces for this baby sweater I'm knitting for my friend C. I designed it, and I'm pleased it's turned out well so far. Except I started matching pieces up and discovered that one of the sleeves is slightly but noticeably yellower than the rest of the sweater. I was pretty sure I got all the same dye lot, but apparently I was wrong--or deceived.

I have done about a third, maybe two-fifths, of the quilting for James's quilt. This quilt totally rocks. I'm still considering keeping it and making him a lesser one. (Actually I'm not, but it amuses me to say that. And I'm very, very pleased with how it's turned out. I can already see where I should have improved things, but that's all right.)

I have discovered I don't really like spinning silk because its staple is so long. I have some silk-camel that I'm planning to make into some decadent handwarmers for me and the spinning isn't bad, but it's not as fun as pure wool is, or even the Shetland/angora mix I was working with previously.

I have that historical sewing seminar tomorrow from noon to 5. I'd completely forgotten about it when drawing up my plans for the weekend. So I've got writing and quilting and all my garden clean-up and canning apple pie filling scheduled. This is unfortunate.

At present I'm planning on doing garden clean-up as soon as I get up in the morning, since I can't wait until after I get home because it'll be dark; and working on the article and quilting afterward, and maybe putting off the canning, depending. The quilting has to be done by the end of Monday at least so I can use Tuesday for attaching the binding, which I can then finish on the plane and at Mom and Dad's house and leave the quilt there--though first I've got to check what airline we're flying and whether it would be cheaper to mail it, depending on how much we're packing. Fiction writing doesn't technically have to be done; article writing does. Sleep does. Off I go to do it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

To do

This weekend:

-finish James's quilt's quilting (which requires reteaching myself to stipple)
-attach quilt binding (preparatory to finishing the binding on the plane ride over, which I know perfectly well is what I'm going to end up doing)
-do laundry (to have clothes for packing)
-clean the house (so we come back to a clean house)
-finish cleaning the garden (because otherwise the rabbits will stay all winter)
-make sourdough bread (to use up the extra starter I have)
-get Shoelace to 70K (because I've been in the 60Ks too long for my liking)
-attend Metroparks historic sewing seminar (because why not?)

It has been a weekend full of not doing much, in the dark. I forgot that I dislike winter. I think I'll feel better once the garden is fully put away and the house is cleaner. And I'm packed. We're leaving Wednesday for Seattle, coming back Sunday. I won't be seeing my family as much as I'd like during this trip--Mom and Dad are both working part of the time--but there will be mornings and afternoons (and coffee spoons), and Thanksgiving with all the family (to which we'll bring my potato-cheese casserole, because Eric loves it and he didn't like the mashed potatoes the last time we were out there for Thanksgiving), and cookie-making, and musical-watching, and relaxing. Someday I want to take a vacation that doesn't involve family, but I do like holidays with the family. And then it will be post-Thanksgiving, and the Christmas lights and music will not irritate me quite as much as they currently do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eat my vegetables

We have a holiday party at work this year, and I, naturally enough, inquired as to whether there would be a vegetarian entrée. This was the reply:

We are still working on the menu; therefore, I'm not sure if vegetarian food will be available. While, it is difficult to tailor the menu to meet each persons specific request, the meal will include several vegetables.
Whereupon I e-mailed my department coworkers telling them that my drink tickets were up for bid, and a really good bid would get double the tickets, since spouses are allowed this year and I could bring Eric along for the two minutes it would take to show up, get the tickets, give them to the appropriate person, and leave.

Seriously. I acknowledge that vegetarianism is not the standard American diet and requires a little bit of accommodation. However, it's not that uncommon, and anyone who could eat a meat dish could eat a vegetarian dish, so it wouldn't be funneling food money for the benefit of just one person. (Or however many there are in this company. I don't know.) "Several vegetables" gives me no confidence at all: no one wants to eat just crudites; just vegetables is generally not a good entire meal (and when it is, the vegetables are generally an entrée, which these obviously aren't); there's no guarantee that these "several vegetables" won't show up under gravy or swimming in beef broth or accompanied by bacon or shrimp.

We had a company picnic at the zoo this summer. My choices were a cookie and a bag of chips. (I had a little of both, but neither were very good.) I wanted to stay at the zoo, but I left early partly because I was hungry. I am not pleased. My coworker offered to ask for vegetarian food too, if that would help. I'm tempted to get up a movement, but I don't want to cause real trouble. I think.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dance with me

I'm taking a dance class on Mondays--cha cha, rhumba, and swing. I'm mostly in it for the swing, but we're getting two sessions' worth of cha cha and rhumba and only one of swing. Figures.

I came home pleased and energetic and swinging my hips a little more than I usually do, and I asked Eric if he would try coming to a Friday night general dance with me--they have an hour's lesson beforehand and then the floor is open to everybody. And he got all sad and mopey and said no, but--no, sigh--but--sigh--arrgh--"Every Monday," he cried, "You come home all happy and excited, and I hate to bring you down from your high. But I always do." And I wanted to smack him, because why is he blaming me for feeling happy which makes him feel bad? There's a vicious circle we skirt, wherein making the other person sad makes us feel sad and so on and so on. But I'm not going to feel bad about asking him to do something I enjoy. I'm disappointed that he won't, but it's not a big deal otherwise, and I told him so. I'm allowed to be disappointed. I'm allowed to dance with other people if he won't, too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's so elegant/So intelligent

Bridger: You know who's not fazed one iota by all this?
Westphalen: Lucas.
Bridger: His generation grew up expecting this. It's not a revelation; it's a confirmation.

That's from an old show that nobody outside my family admits to liking, SeaQuest. (Yes! I am old! And no, I did not have a crush on Lucas because he was kind of annoying, though I always had the vague feeling that I ought to. Ahem.) In the relevant episode there are aliens aboard the ship (okay, maybe there are reasons nobody admits to liking it) and, as the characters are discussing, everyone's shocked and amazed except for Lucas, the teenage genius on board. He's not shocked and amazed because this is the way the world is supposed to be.

This is how I feel about electing Obama president. I'm getting uncomfortable, progressing to slightly irritated, about all the happy, weepy, I'm-so-proud-of-our-country, it's-so-historic, my-children-will-never-know-what-it's-like-not-to-have-a-black-president (which doesn't even make sense, but I know what they mean) posts and essays and letters-to-children I've been seeing in the past several days. I'm glad they're happy, but I think their reason for happiness is kind of weird. In this way, I am not old. I know it's historic, but I don't honestly feel any amazement that we've elected a black ("black") president. There's nothing wrong with that. This is the way the world is supposed to be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't want no hard cash

I'm liking that hospital more and more. "Do you want me to send you a financial assistance form?" the woman who answered said when I told her I'd received my past-due bill and wanted to set up payment installments. I was dubious, since we make a decent amount of money and I doubt we'd qualify, but she insisted that it wouldn't hurt, so I agreed. "How much do you think you can pay a month?" she said.

"Seven hundred?" I said, since I calculated we could spare that much and I hate debt.

"Are you sure? I don't want to stretch you too tight. They're willing to work with you, that's the great thing. And with the holidays coming up, I don't want to strap you. What about, say, three hundred? And if you have the seven hundred you can send it, but this way you're not tight on cash through the holidays." I agreed, mostly because she was being so kind. They charge no interest, so I’m feeling about as good about paying this charge I shouldn't have to pay as I can be.

Incidentally, Eric's student loans have now come due, but the minimum payment is something ludicrously small--$145 or something--so that's not a big deal, either. Our current plan is to pay the minimum on the student loans until we've saved up $6000 in emergency money--we're at $2000 now and our end-of-the-month sweep into savings should be around $1000--and then start paying extra to get rid of that debt as soon as we might without wrecking our other plans. Luckily we're not as concerned about investing in stocks or 401ks because that money will only disappear anyway.

Actually one of my coworkers is buying up extra stocks and contributing more to his 401k because he figures lots of shares while they're cheap is a good idea, and intellectually I agree this is sound; but I don't think I'm really doing it. In seventh grade Humanities we were told to take X amount of imaginary money, pretend we had bought stocks with it, and track the stocks over the weeks to see what we had earned or lost. I kept some of my money instead of buying stocks with all of it. Imaginary funds, and going against the actual assignment, and I didn't use all the money because I thought it was too risky. (I did end up losing money. But I didn't get my grade docked, though the teacher looked at me funny.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventures in infertility: IUIUIU

(TMI alert. Also, length alert. Sheesh.)

So the IUI was last Thursday. Actually it was last Friday. Let me explain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up. No, I'm lousy at summing up, let me explain:

I had my ultrasound/follicle study Wednesday. The technician said, "Whoa, you responded well to the Clomid. Almost too well," and said I had three ripe juicy follicles but all in the side with the blocked tube. She sent me off to the scheduler, who sent me off to the check-out, who said, "Was that all for today?" and I remembered I was supposed to get a Profasi shot as well. Since the office had totally forgotten about it, they had to send me out to the local pharmacy to get the Profasi itself. It's damned expensive stuff--the generic is $64, but the name-brand was all they had and it was $109. It contains two months' worth of medicine, but I'm not seeing that as much of a selling point.

Before I would surrender the Profasi I asked the shot-giver (that seemed to be her only function, at least that day) whether it actually made sense to go through with this, since my eggs would have nowhere to go, and she checked with a doctor who said that yes, it was worth a shot since eggs can migrate. I let her do the shot (it ached for days afterward) and looked it up later. The key is that the ovaries aren't actually connected to the fallopian tubes, just very close to them; the tubes have fimbriae that capture the eggs as they emerge and sweep them into the tube, but it's possible for the eggs to escape the nearest fimbriae. I don't know how often this happens--I only read about the migration bit on a couple of forums, secondhand from posters' doctors, and one said a 10% and the other a 70% chance. I also wonder how often an egg wanders off and is never recovered, and I can't imagine it being all that often.

Regardless, I got the shot and we scheduled the IUI for the next day, when Eric would go to the fertility clinic at the hospital during his planning period to, er, do his part, and I'd come by a few hours later to pick up, er, his part, and bring it to my gynecologist for the actual procedure. Wednesday night, he mentioned that he wasn't sure exactly where in the hospital the clinic was, but neither of us looked it up, me because I figured I'd do it at work before I left, he because (as it turned out) he thought I knew, though he didn't ask me for the directions then.

Thursday, I had a blood donation appointment with the bloodmobile at work for 10. At 11:30, Eric left school to find the clinic. He couldn't find it. He called me. I wasn't there because the bloodmobile people were, aside from being discourteous and not very gentle, running extremely late, and I didn't get out until 12. Eric shouted "Where have you been??" and then told me that the hospital had sent him to someplace that said he needed to go across the street, and the people across the street had told him he was in the wrong place, and now what? I got directions from the gynecologist and relayed them. "Then it's too late," he said, and yelled at me for not being around my phone at all times "when you knew I didn't know where I was going!" and for giving blood when I was supposed to be getting pregnant.

He went back to work. I called the clinic and the gynecologist and was told that we could reschedule for the next day. The scheduler, whom I've talked to a lot in the past couple of months, was upset that I asked if that would do any good. It turns out Profasi stays in the system for around 36-48 hours and the eggs don't die until it's gone. This was going to be a little over that time limit, so I was dubious, but we'd already spent most of the money we were going to spend this month and I scheduled it despite Eric saying he'd given up for the month. Later he called back, and we made up and he agreed to try again on Friday.

Friday, armed with the new improved directions, he had no problems at all (except in locating the porn, he said--it was discreetly tucked underneath a towel, and he didn't find it until afterward). I accordingly arrived a few hours later, tucked "the boys" into my bra, which gave me the giggles, was told by the technician "Good luck--I hope I never see you again!" and drove off.

At the gynecologist's, everything went fine except that my cervix is apparently severely tilted, so the gynecologist had to shove the catheter to get it in the correct place and I therefore bled quite a bit more than I'd been led to expect. Also, they should have warned me to bring a book or grab a magazine. Their ceiling was not interesting enough to entertain me for the requisite 20 minutes on my back.

And now, we wait. I am now doubly hoping that it worked, because I saw that ThinkGeek now carries solar system mobiles and how totally awesome would that be for a nursery?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Two sides of the same coin

"What's that?" Eric said when I was looking at this. I scrolled up to let him read the start. "Does it go into gay people eventually?" he said.

"No, it's just black and white," I said. "The other issue of today."

"But it's not a different issue."

"No, just a different group," I agreed. We're donating to this, too. Giving for causes we believe in it so much more fun when there's sarcasm and ribbing of appropriately ribbable people involved.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You can't go to bed on Election Night

Ohmigod, we're going to have an intelligent and articulate president! Hooray!

In other news, 55% of Californians (11% reporting) are pathetic, shriveled, bigoted wastes of people. Dammit. At least Colorado was sensible.

I like that Obama didn't downplay how bad things are right now. I'm liking the "spirit of service" theme in the speech. Sensible and realistic and good. Great speech. McCain's was good too. Eric said, "Where has he been for the last four years?"

I must go to bed now; I have an ultrasound in seven and a half hours. I'll look up how to donate to the get-rid-of-Proposition-8's-results fund in the morning. Eric was looking up comments on Free Republic about Obama. Please, Secret Service, do your job well!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And while we're at it.

She's a female candidate. FEMALE. She is NOT a "woman candidate." "Woman" is not an adjective. Get it right, people!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Gas, and also hot air

Gas is $1.99 outside work. The gas in my tank is $0.49 per gallon more expensive, and I bought it a week ago. Wow.

I remember the first time I bought gas for over $2 per gallon. It was in Dayton, so no later than 2004, and I was driving to Columbus to catch a plane for work early the next day so I didn't want to take the chance on finding something cheaper on the way. I found a receipt in my car for $4.07 per gallon gas from July. These are funny times.

I'm anticipating that very late tomorrow people will start talking about "our first black president," so I shall say now how much that annoys me and get it over with. Unless he identifies completely with black people, Obama will not be our first black president. He'll be our first mixed-race, partly-black president (or at least I hope he will).

I do realize that to most people in this country, any black means black. He's not white enough for most white people. I also strongly suspect that at least when he was growing up, he wasn't black enough for black people, either. I have a book at home that examines mixed-race children in America. It's mostly on black/white mixes, since that's the major, and most emotionally charged, mix around here. At the time I was vaguely annoyed by that because I was looking for something that related to me, and that doesn't. But now that I live in a city that concerns itself with this kind of thing, and hope to shortly live under a mixed-race president, I'm glad I read it. And it says that a mixed-race child is too white for the blacks, and too black for the whites, and generally only finds refuge in the people who actually see him or her as an actual person. I've long since forgotten the race issue except when reminded because I know enough about Obama now to consider him as a person. I wish more people could do the same.

Eric and I talked recently about how his dad routinely talks about his black students and his white students and how that bothers me, and Eric's stance is that though he personally doesn't use the same language, he doesn't see his dad as wrong because, statistically speaking, there are differences in the two groups. --But then he went on to discuss theories of teaching, and how there are theories that a group of mostly females should be taught differently from a group of mostly males, and he doesn't believe in that either. We were also talking about how I grew up always believing that "liberal" was a good thing, and that Republicans were mostly wrong, while he grew up thinking "conservative" was a good thing, and that Democrats were mostly wrong. "It's like we lived in different countries," he said. There are no black-white issues in Seattle as there are Toledo. The major minority (hmm) there is Asian, and there isn't as much tension, or the same kind of stereotypes, so it's a different dynamic--and as far as I ever noticed, a nonissue.

People who say they're afraid that Obama will "take care of his own people first" don't know what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "He's black, so he'll give special favors to the black people." Presumably they believe the same is true of McCain but in reverse, but that doesn't bother them because they'll be the ones being taken care of. Maybe they assume the candidates would act as they themselves would--or implicitly realize that that actually is what already happens, with the people in power--mostly white people--taking care of their own.

Probably there are lots of people in the country about whom that would be a reasonable fear, but none of them would become the likely winner in the American presidential election. There's an old saying that women have to be excellent just to be recognized as competent, and I expect the same is true for black, or partially-black, people. I'm hopeful about having Obama as president because he's had to do very well in everything else in his life to get where he is, and he has the intelligence and capacity to keep on doing it. I'm not very hopeful that America's race issues will get significantly better anytime soon, which depresses me very much. "Maybe when that generation is dead," I think, but then I assume that people my age--or even most intelligent people--are like me, and that's not true either. Eric's mom says, "Obama scares the shit out of me, and I don't know why. There's just something about him." I think I know what the something is, but it's something about her, not him.

I'm glad I can cast a vote in a swing state, but I wish I didn't live in a city with such a divisive attitude. Alternately, I could wish I had a "people," but I don't, other than the friends I choose and the family I love. I'd have to ask him to be sure, but I don't think Obama has a "people" either, any more than I do, or than most people do. (If I am ever elected president, all left-handed half-Asian non-high-school-diploma-possessing master's-degree-bearing vegetarians named Jennifer shall get preferential treatment. I don't think this will tie up much of my presidential time.) He has a family, and a hometown, and a country, and so do we all. And I hope that in January he has a presidency.

(With that said, I am not voting tomorrow. I voted two weeks ago. Eric voted yesterday and the line was three hours long.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On knitting and juggling

I have, at last, deployed the ice cream yarn. This is some dark green wool/silk/something-else fiber I picked up at the Spinner's Flock Fleece Fair last February. (Or the one before? I forget.) I spun it up into a thick, fluffy, three-ply yarn that seemed to incorporate as much air as yarn, thus the name ice cream yarn. I knit it into a clever hat, with intertwining cables, with exactly no yarn left over. Unfortunately the hat made me look stupid. The hat itself looked nice, but my head looked like a bowling ball with an IQ of 34. (I suppose that would make it an unusually intelligent bowling ball. Unless the IQ was based on the bowling ball population rather than the human population.) So I unraveled it and knit a Calorimetry, which forced me to bind off about six rows before the end, but luckily it's knit such that that really didn't matter. I'm pleased.

We had a Cheap Candy Day (aka Bring Your Own Excuse) party yesterday, because we felt like having a party, and it went very well. My father-in-law complimented my cooking and seemed overall more pleased with me than he has in the past, which was nice. My mother-in-law got het up about an incipient political discussion (there were several of us in the room when somebody said "Nobody here is a Palin supporter" and apparently she is) and left in a hurry, but otherwise everything went very well. Eric did mention his Klein bottle hat at some point. I knit this for him in 2004, long before the Knitty pattern came out. "Oh, yeah, I've got one, Jenny made it for me years ago," he assured one of our friends who mentioned it. The thing is, I also unraveled it about a year ago, because he never wore it because it didn't fit properly. I'm wondering if I shouldn't start working on that again.

I have the picture part of James's quilt top almost finished. It's gorgeous. I'm loving it. The plan is to finish the entire quilt top by the end of this week, then baste and quilt next week, and have plenty of time to bind by the time we leave for Thanksgiving. We'll see how that goes, of course. I've got part of Dad's first sock to finish; after that two more socks, one of Mom's and one of Dad's. Plus a baby sweater. Plus maybe another quilt. Plus a hat for me. Plus curtains and baby stuff and whatever else comes up. Plus I signed up for a dance class (cha cha, swing, and rhumba) on Mondays.

The fiction writing is still going well, remarkably; but the nonfiction stuff not so much. Jen's post on the same subject got me thinking about all my activities and interests, and how life used to be much simpler back when I was in grad school but I definitely get more done now. Also Dad sent me some job listings for right near his work, and one of them is really intriguing, even though it's in research rather than writing and I had said I wanted to pursue the writing, so I'm thinking about how determined I need to be to stick to one course, or if it's okay to deviate from my plans as much as I often deviate. I'm feeling like I can juggle all the different activities I've got, but that means that something is always out of my hands. I think that's okay, but I'll have to wait and watch and see.