Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hello, anyone?

Anyone know what these are?

I'm still trying to figure out this 'Hello' thing with Mark.

Its becoming clear that the technotard here is not the user having trouble figuring it out, but rather the person who came up with this software, who failed to include any more detailed instructions than "Use Hello to share pictures with your friends!"

Here's their instructions on how to use it to get pictures on your blog:

How do I get started?
If you're already a Blogger member, just download and run Hello. BloggerBot will automatically be added to your friends list, and you can log in and get started posting pictures right away.

Oh, I get it. I just download and run Hello, and get started posting pictures right away. That's as much detail as they offer.

In truth, its just a teensy bit more complicated than that, and there are no step-by-step instructions. Thanks to those who wrote in with tips. I honestly can't see how you figured those things out.


I'm off to practice my piano.

I'm working on Beethoven:

Piano Sonata #8, first movement.

I'm learning the part with all the rapid-fire turns. Challenging, but fun

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Man With One Leg

a short poem I wrote on the way to work this morning:

He's amazing to see, the man with one leg;

He's older than me, though I don't know his age.

As I sit, stuck in traffic, he whizzes right by -

on his bicycle! His bicycle! And I

Am amazed and inspired by this man with one leg,

in his safety-green vest and grey hair.

He'll be at work before me, and on with his day,

while I'm waiting for cars to move, going nowhere.


Two questions for Hello Blogger users: 1. Is there any way around having to type in a caption before Publishing? 2. Is there any way to publish multiple photos with one click instead of publishing each photo individually?


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Thrift Store Score

Lately, I have taken to stopping by my local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on my way home from work on Thursday or Friday afternoons. I have those afternoons off under the present arrangement, and since work is a pressure cooker these days, its a fun little treat.

I think I have a similar relationship to my local St. Vincent's that some people have to Wal Mart. I'm talking about the people who don't like Wal Mart because they tend to drive smaller businesses out of business, but shop there anyway because they like the low prices. I don't personally have a problem with Wal Mart, being the lover of Capitalism that I am, but I do have a bit of a moral conflict with supporting the Papal [Evil] Empire. I'm not really sure that by shopping there I'm supporting the Evil Empire, but its hard to imagine that with a name starting with 'Saint' there isn't some kind of support going to Rome, even if indirectly.

This week, there was some good picking, even knitting related picking - read on!

First off, I found these cool oval restaurant china plates. They will be my new everyday dishes. [As if there were some other expensive dishes hiding in the cupboard for special occasions - HA!]

Oval Plates - They are big and heavy

Marked on the bottom - Tepco China

Also in the china dept., there were two cute round dinner plates to add to my fledgling cute round dinner plate collection. Both had a wheat motif, which reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa Dersch's fine china.

Cute Wheat Plate #1

Cute Wheat Plate #2

And finally, there was yarn! I've never noticed yarn there before, but they had some interesting stuff. The only thing that I liked and was of sufficient quantity to make anything with, was this:

1 oz. each of Unger Fantasia, 100% wool, made in Italy.

I saw it and thought it would make a cool 1x1 rib hat on #1 or #0 needles.

I don't usually just buy yarn on the spur of the moment, and I don't really have a stash of yarn to speak of. Since I learned to knit, it has been pretty much just buying yarn on a project-by-project basis. [o.k., except for a few balls of sugar n cream that I got on sale because I couldn't resist the colors.] I'm a little concerned about this purchase, because I feel like I have crossed some kind of line here, and I fear for the future of my closet space.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Test photo using Hello:

A favorite site in the San Fernando Valley. The big giant clown sign always makes me smile!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Busted by the Clapotis Police

I'm still shaking. This is one of those things you read about on other peoples' blogs; you never expect it's going to happen to you.

Last night [actually this morning around 2 a.m.] I was sleeping soundly, Todd was sleeping on the chair, Paul in bed with me. They both jumped up at the same time, they heard the footsteps before I did. Paul started growling and doing the 'agitated dog' thing, and they both barked and snarled when the sharp knock on the door echoed through my tiny apartment.

I opened the door and it was a well-dressed but tough looking guy in a suit and tie. He flashed some kind of badge but I couldn't see it very well; it was dark and I was a little bleary-eyed. "I'm the Deputy Inspector for the Knitters Blog Control and Monitoring District for this area."

"The what?" I'm not sure whether I said it or thought it.

"We understand you have been running a knit blog out of this address, is that correct?"

I paused. "Well, actually, the blog has a variety of content. Most recently, I blogged about my dog."

"But you do include knitting on the blog?"


"Our jurisdiction extends to any blog that contains knitting content. May I see your Clapotis?"

I'd heard about this sort of thing but didn't think it actually happened. It felt like a scene out of the movie 'Brazil.' "What exactly is the problem?" I asked.

"All knit bloggers are required to show proof of Clapotis. You know, its part of the new Blog Consumers' Bill of Rights of the Public Safety code. If someone's reading what you purport to be a knit blog, they have a right to know that you've actually made a Clapotis, and that you're not just some scam artist making up fake blog entries or something."

"But I could show you a Clapotis that might have been made by anyone"

"No you couldn't, sir." He said.

"But how does it have anything to do with Public Safety or whether or not I..."

He cut me off. "Sir, do you have a Clapotis for me, or am I going to have to write this up?"

My mind raced. What could I do? I've been making fun of people for knitting that thing [and its ridiculous name] for months now. Maybe I could pass off that burgundy and grey seed stitch scarf as a Clapotis. No, I gave that one to Phideaux. Damn. What about that black and grey scarf that Allison knit for me? That might work. It was kind of dark, maybe he wouldn't notice, or would decide to be lenient. "Just a minute, I'll get it" I said.

Finally, I found it in my closet. "Here it is." I draped it around my neck and kept my distance, trying to work the shadows to my advantage.

"Sir, I need to inspect the stitching."

I took it off and handed it to him. I held my breath. "This is just a regular scarf," he said.

"Look," I said, panicing, "I just made this really great sweater vest. Look how perfect the seams are. See how even the V came out on the neck? Doesn't that prove my skill?"

"Sorry," the inspector said, " I'm going to have to write this up. You have 30 days to present proof of Clapotis, or it looks like you'll face fines and jail time." Then he got out his pad and wrote me this ticket. I stood there, numb. He handed me the ticket. "Have a nice night." He said as he left.


So now I'm really screwed. I have to knit that stupid Clapotis that I've been making fun of all over blogland. At least Mom's birthday is coming up and I can palm off the finished Clap on her.

Oh well. Gives me a good excuse to check out that new yarn shop in Pasadena this weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Booby's Back!

Shout it out loud:


Paul Facts:

Breed: Pit Bull/Bassett Hound

Age: 3 1/2

Nicknames: Paul the Dog, Paul Baby, Mr. Booby

Likes: Chasing cats, catching mice, barking at mailman, sleeping on the bed.

Dislikes: Baths, shots, sharing the chair with younger brother Todd.

Favorite toy: Anything that causes humans or other dogs to give chase.

I had wanted a dog for a long time, but when I finally picked him out at the rescue shelter and got him home [and agonized and struggled and consulted a dog trainer and finally got him to stop peeing in the house] I came to realize that Dog really is Man's best friend.

I would do anything for that little guy.

My predictions of the veterinary emergency pretty much came true, except that it cost more than that. Oh well. I've wasted more hard earned cash on far less worthwhile exploits, and I'm just glad to have Mr. Booby back where he belongs.

And another thing: what was I thinking, saying that I would knit while I waited at the veterinary ER? First, there's Paul, hurt and on the leash but still curious about all the other animals and smells, then there's Todd, who is bigger than Paul, and younger and more puppy-like, [along for moral support, and because he has never been home all alone and I wouldn't trust him if I left him alone] and who's not hurt at all and is REALLY curious about all the other animals and smells. So I'm wrangling these two dogs and sitting there in this not unpleasant but still animal-smelling and animal-filled crowded waiting room, wishing that I could pull that brown and blue hat out of my bag, but knowing that it would end up in disaster if I tried it. Don't get me wrong, the two of them behaved themselves very well, all things considered. But knit? Forget it.

Anyone out there know of a really good dog sweater pattern?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Veterinary Emergency: Predictions

Well, as I was about to head into my final mini-project to round out a fine Sunday's gardening, I looked up and dear sweet Paul was sitting up looking at me rather helplessly with his right front paw in the air, in the 'ouch it hurts' position.

So, I checked him out. I've seen the vet do this enough times to at least perform the preliminary visual evaluation myself. No thorns or broken glass or sharp objects in the paw, paw moves easily and no objections from the patient. Wrist allows free movement. Elbow - YIPE - Paul withdraws and turns away.

OK, its the elbow. Well, I can fix a lot of things, but dogs' elbows aren't on my list.

Off to the emergency clinic. I called and tried to get the woman to at least give me some idea of how long the wait is this afternoon. Of course, since a car wreck can come in the door any minute, she refuses to tell me. She won't even tell me how long the last person who came in the door would have to wait, even if no more patients came in the whole rest of the afternoon.

I predict that after the $75 emergency fee to see the doctor and a total bill of $250-300, I will walk out with x-rays that don't really show anything meaningful, doggie pain pills, and a diagnosis of 'sprained elbow'. Thats what they always say when they can't figure out what's really wrong. Once we left there with the diagnosis of 'sprained tail'. Can you believe that? Sprained Tail.

I'll keep you posted. At least I can knit while I wait.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

PFO: Striped Sweater


- modeled by yours truly -

I figured it was enough to learn how to pick up and knit the neck and armhole edging, and how to sew up a seam, that I didn't need to add sleeves to the learning curve, yet.

Thus, the vest.

My genius little sister Al gave me a ball each of the colors in Lion Kool Wool for Christmas. [if she had it together with her website I would link to it here. Not that anyone's reading this, but what the heck. Let's all encourage her with that, ok?] I had started the sweater, and was almost all the way up the back, when I ran out of yarn. That was on the plane on my way home from our Christmas get-together at Emily's.

So, I had to order more yarn online, because no one anywhere remotely near me sells Kool Wool. You'd think you could walk into any Michael's or JoAnn Fabric and pick the stuff up, but no.

Anyway, it wasn't unitl I was on the plane again, coming back to L.A. from Grandpa Dersch's funeral about a month ago that I finished it. I walked onto the plane with an unfinished sweater vest, and walked off the plane wearing it.

Take Fountain

The new Wedding Present album [after an 8-year break] is called Take Fountain. The story goes that Bette Davis was once asked by a reporter if she had any advice for aspiring actresses who hoped to someday make it to Hollywood. Her reply: "Take Fountain - it's quicker!" Its still good advice. Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards are often jammed; at least Fountain moves you somewhat steadily across town.

So, when Phideaux and I set out for the Troubador, it was obvious what route to take.

We took Fountain.


The Troubador is really intimate. The main floor is an open rectangular room with no seats, you just stand and/or dance around. The stage is about 2 1/2 feet above the main floor and runs along the long side of the room. There is a bar at the back with a little gallery above, with bench seats. We sat up there, front and center.

The opening act was called Crystal Skull, a 5-man band from Seattle. They were two guitars, bass, drums, and a guy alternating between keyboards, tambourine, and more drums. Think: Police meets Oingo Boingo. The guitars were clear, smooth, and almost staccatto at times; strong bass lines and drums. Overall, their musicianship was superb.

Then The Wedding Present came on and played a long, loud, excellent set. I thought the sound levels were a little off, and it was hard to hear the vocals at times under the crush of guitars, but that was o.k. They played a mix of older material, and a lot from the new album. Several times they went into long, extended guitar jams that were a real thrill.

They didn't play an encore, they just ended, brought up the lights, and David Gedge ran out to the front area where they had merchandise set up for sale. When was the last time you saw that: the front man himself at the t-shirt table talking to fans and signing autographs. I got the distinct impression that he really appreciated his fan base, even during the show when he would banter back and forth with the audience between numbers.

When I got up to the table, I bought the new CD [especially happy to hand my hard earned cash directly to David Gedge himself, not some flunky behind the register of some mall store] and he opened his pen and signed away!

I brought four other CD booklets and he was happy to sign them all for me:

Watusi [1994]

Mini Plus [1996]

2,3,go [CD single, 1996]

Montreal [CD single, 1996]

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Wedding Present

You know, the rock band The Wedding Present.

I'm off to go hear them tonight at the Troubador in West Hollywood, and I can't wait!

David Gedge is sooooocoooool and I'm bringing all my Wedding Present CD booklets and sharpie pen. His autograph would rival Frank Black's on my CD shelf.

Complete concert review to follow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

PFO: Checker Scarf

Last night I cast on the blue and brown hat and was sitting in bed working on it, semi-watching the [lame] Miss USA Pageant when I dozed off. I woke up at some point and realized that the show was over and the few rounds I had done were in 2x2 rib instead of the 1x1 rib that I had swatched. The day job is a pressure cooker these days and it sure showed last night.

I think the last thing I remember was the swimsuit exhibition and being amazed at how humungous all the girls' boobs were. Completely surreal.

So, I managed to frog back, re-work my cast on, and get a few more stitches out before I went back to sleep, but I haven't looked at it since, so I'm not sure what I will find when I get it out later and try to get a few more rows on before bed.

Hopefully the hat will be in some kind of shape for photographing by the end of the week. Meanwhile, I present a Previously Finished Object: the scarf I made back in February for my friend Jim when he was diagnosed with cancer:

The scarf is about 7" wide and 65" long.

It is Cascade 220, knit with a double strand on 10 1/2 needles. I love the wide range of colors this yarn comes in, and I also really like the deep, luminous, solid quality of the color.

Here is a close-up of the stitch. If anyone knows a proper name for this checkerboard pattern please let me know.

This is more accurate with respect to color.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

2 New WIPs: Knitting and Welding

Sunday afternoon in a nutshell:

WIP #1: Knit swatch

Worked up a quick 1x1 rib gauge swatch on my trusty #7 dpns for an upcoming striped rib hat. I did this while watching 2 episodes of Coronation Street with Phideaux. He's really into British television, and CS is apparently one of the most-watched shows over there. Its basically a soap opera [episodic drama in industry parlance] but airs in the evening and has far better production values and writing than any American soap opera, at least from what we watched. I used to watch The Simpsons with my knitting before going to sleep, but since Fox 11 moved it from 11 pm to 11:30, [past my bedtime] I think I'll get Phideaux to lend me some CS dvd's to knit with before retiring. The episodes are only about 20 minutes each, which is just about how long I can stay awake and focused enough to knit before I have to turn out the light.

WIP #2: Patio Table Base

I got started on a glass-top steel patio table base that's been kicking around in my brain for about a week:

Now that we're having glorious spring weather I want someplace to sit outside and have my morning coffee; its the perfect excuse to get out the welder and whip up a nice patio set.

I already have a round glass table top that I scavenged off the sidewalk in Echo Park one day last winter.

I just need to add three more pieces of rebar sticking up from the tube to hold the glass, then have it sandblasted and paint it.

And yep, thats all free steel scrap from the jobsite. It doesn't get much better than that. Wait, yes it does. Selling the furniture I make from the free steel scrap would be better. Stay tuned for details . . .

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Structural Engineering Exam

This morning I took my 5th and 6th exams [out of 10 required] towards getting my license to practice architecture in California, the Golden State.

(Piece of an I-beam I scavenged from a jobsite)

The exam topics: General Structures, and Lateral Forces [lateral forces are earthquakes and high winds - things that push on buildings sideways as opposed to gravity which just pulls straight down]

I've been meaning to get my butt in gear and start wrapping up these exams and get the license overwith. I took and passed my first four a year and a half ago and then back-burnered the whole thing. So earlier this week at my day job, a junk fax came through from this guy who offers seminars and refresher courses for people like me who want to jumpstart their exam study effort. Bonus: there were seminars on General Structures and Lateral Forces on the schedule for Friday afternoon/evening. A quick phone call confirmed that there was space available and I could register and pay at the door. Great!

Then another stroke of luck: the testing center had appointments available for Saturday morning and I could take both tests. Excellent. Refresher course, some late night cramming from the study guide I borrowed from a friend weeks ago [which has been staring up at me from the table by the piano as I practice my piano or sit and knit instead of reading up and practicing how to size a wood beam,] then, get some sleep, up early, and go right in there and ace the exams.

HA! What a fun fantasy that was while it lasted.

After suffering through Friday afternoon traffic for an hour and a half to get to the seminar [at some hotel in Newport Beach of all places. I cringe when I have to go to Orange County, unless I'm driving through to go visit my cousin Ed in San Diego,] I arrived about 15 minutes late. No worries though, there was a parking space right in front. I love it when I get rockstar parking. Too bad it never happens anyplace its actually difficult to park.

So the guy had already started his presentation and said to come on in, he would get my registration info on the break. The setup wasn't too shabby. Coffee and tea in the back of the room, linen tablecloths and a pitcher of water with a stemmed glass at each chair, with little jars of candies and mints sitting around just in case you needed a little bump of sugar to help stay focused.

There were about 20 people there; 'this guy does ok' I thought to myself. It became clear that it wasn't a larger organization putting this together, it was basically just this guy with his script and his xeroxed study handouts and his fax list of architects' offices to whom he sent out his schedule a few times a year. At $150 for the whole evening per person, he was probably going to pocket an easy $2,500 after he paid for the room, and his instructions were to bring cash.

When I arrived he was reviewing the preliminary material on test taking strategies, the format of the exams, stuff like that.

Then he got to the actual material that I came there for, the structural problem solving. Thats the part that sometimes involves trigonometry, and always involves a complicated bunch of equations and variables that are hard to keep straight [for me anyway]. And he goes whipping through it like lightning! Wait! I put my hand up. Why do you multiply that by 10? Where are we in the book? His pages had been copied and copied over so many times that many of the page numbers were cut off at the bottom of the page. His explanatory text and sample problems weren't laid out together so you had to keep flipping back and forth. The equations crashed into one another on the page, see illustration.

In case you are having a hard time understanding the formulas in this picture, its not that you don't know anything about structural engineering, believe me. Its that the manual is crap.

Now I started getting a little angry. I drove all the way down to freakin' Orange County, and gas is expensive! The exam is tomorrow! This seminar was my ticket to passing the exams and now things were looking dire. The exams cost me $100 each. If you fail you have to wait 6 months to retake it, plus another $100. No way was I going to stay for part 2 of this garbage. My only hope was to pay my $80 for part one and ditch out at the dinner break, get home as fast as I can, and cram from the study guide.

Then he glossed completely over concrete construction, not even a sample problem, although he acknowledged that there could be some concrete problems on the test. Great.

It was when he started rambling, and I really mean rambling, about history, that I decided he didn't deserve a dime of my money and I was going to make a break for it as soon as he ended the session. The history lesson included such gems as "well, there could even be questions about pre-historic architecture, you know, like the Egyptians, the pyramids and such," and "I would say the historical period started with the Ancient Greeks" and then some really retarded comments about the Acropolis and the Parthenon that I can't even try to recreate.

Then he sort of ended with something about Sir Christopher Wren and St. Paul's Cathedral in London, although he admitted he couldn't really remember what its structural-historical significance was.


This morning, during the General Structures exam, with one hour, three minutes and eight seconds to go, my computer at the testing center crashed. I panicked. I called the administrator over.

I got to resume my exam from another computer.

If I don't like my score, I get to take a free do-over.

Occasionally, in life, there is justice.

Friday, April 08, 2005

She Looks Fabulous!

Well, doesn't she?

I actually did a u-turn and went back when I passed her on the road, a one-woman parade in a lavendar flower-petal-covered hat, walking along Sunset Boulevard, in Echo Park.

It was one of those moments that makes Los Angeles worth it. If just 5% of the population had as much style in their whole body as this lady has in her little finger, . . .

Click the pic for the whole stealth photoshoot.

I took these pics with the purpose of emailing them to my little sister, Allison, who makes fabulous hats herself.

Looking at them again today, I realized that since a] my life is really about the pursuit of those elusive, fleeting moments of glorious, aesthetic ecstacy (and this was one of those moments); and b] since the title of this blog is, after all, My Life Illustrated, then I really needed to share this fleeting moment with the readers.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Finished Object: Pink Baby Hat

Hot off the needles: Pink Baby Hat, knit for an unsuspecting friend who had a little girl last winter.

I was inspired by this hat, but made up the pattern as I went along, using #7 dpns and some pink no-dye-lot yarn from Michaels. If anyone ever sees this blog and wants the pattern just shout out and I'll post it.

I'm pretty happy with it, considering that it was a freeform experiment. I had to frog back once and rework the decrease but I think I got it just about right.

Shown here modeled by my trusty companion and buddy, Paul the Dog. His brother Todd would have nothing of me and my hat; he prefers playing with the yarn in the backyard to wearing it.

Paul wears it more like a pill box; that's just his style.