Monday, February 22, 2010

Economy Seems To Be Improving

Whenever I get near the end of a project assignment, I'm often concerned with my company's ability to place me on a new project.

Is It Just Consulting?
I don't know if it's just my type of consulting, but there seem to be tons of possible projects available for me to go on in the upcoming months.

Is this because larger companies are doing better and able to make large project expenditures? Is it because larger companies are concerned about hiring regular employees, so they're transitioning into the new economy with contractors? Is it just a strange blip in companies needing to have work done on their HR/Payroll systems?

I really don't know the answer, but in addition to having a large number of opportunities in my own company's pipeline, it seems that I'm getting job offers to switch consulting firms as well.

I honestly haven't seen it look like this for over 10 years now, but I consider myself very fortunate indeed.

Current Knitting
I got some more work done on the Gossamer Lace wrap I'm working on.

I love this kind of fine you knit, it's all scrunched up, and looks like you've made very little progress, but block it out a bit...

...and you realized there's been quite a bit of progress made.

I'm thinking that I'll probably do one more repeat on this (after I finish the current 46 row repeat), and then do a simple edging of some sort.

Men's Knitting Books
Is it me, or are there a lot more men's knitting books?

I particularly like the look and title of Bruce Weinstein and Jared Flood's book, "Knits Men Want: The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man~ Plus the Only 10 Patterns She'll Ever Need". Not the part about "Every Woman," but about the only 10 patterns that are ever needed for a guy's sweater.

I personally think that's a brilliant idea...basic designs...because it's highly unlikely a man will ever wear anything that's not pretty classic in design.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Can't Even Hear The Message

Have you ever worked in a company where the vitriol was so high that when a very valuable employee decided to leave because they couldn't take the sniping, instead of mourning the loss, the snipers reveled in it?

Americans Are Losing a Great Man
With the decision to not run for re-election Evan Bayh has made an extremely important statement. He feels he can do more good in the private sector than he can as a senior senator of the United States.

Do people not understand...he's saying the system is SO broken, that even as a senior member of our senate, and even though he's considered a centrist (even by Indiana conservative viewpoints), that he is hamstrung in his ability to do any good for this country.

That's pathetic...and what's more pathetic, is that the news stories about this, are only talking about how this will affect the balance of republicans and democrats in the next election...the media is pathetic as well. They should be sending out a warning far and wide that something needs to be done to fix the system. Not trying to predict the outcome of a future election.

Democrats and republicans alike should be very concerned about this. While it obviously bodes well for republicans in the upcoming election, it doesn't get this country to where it needs to be, because a republican in that same seat will be equally, or probably more, ineffectual in getting the country back on it's feet.

The defeat of pragmatism by competitive nastiness in this country makes me very glad I don't have children to pass this mess onto.

People need to wake up and stop focusing on their selfish personal needs and realize why they're really electing officials.

Current Knitting
I'm onto another WIP, trying to cross as many off my list as possible.

Remember the Shetland Gossamer lace I started back in November?

I've picked it back up and started making some headway.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nice Weekend

Many folks know that Thaddeus' birthday is on Valentine's Day, so this weekend was a double holiday for us.

Just Pleasant
We've never placed a lot of emphasis on birthdays or Valentine's Day, so there wasn't a lot of pressure, but it turned out to be a delightful weekend.

Despite the ridiculous amount of snow and the even more ridiculous state of Delaware closing down roads, I was able to get home on Thursday.

Friday we had Thai food at our favorite Thai restaurant. We also got to see an amazing HBO movie about Temple Grandin called, of all things, "Temple Grandin." If you haven't seen it, it's really quite good.

Saturday, we had pizza at the best pizza place within an hour of our house and then went to see another great movie at our local arts cinema called "A Single Man." Colin Firth is wonderful in this movie and Tom Ford did an amazing job of taking his fashion/design sense and putting into a beautifully wrought movie.

We capped off the movie with a later dinner at a great little Indian restaurant.

Finally, on the big day, we exchanged cards/gifts and had lunch at another favorite restaurant (Mexican this time) with our friend Nora.

All-in-all, I couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable long weekend with my lover.

Current Knitting
This knitting section is devoted entirely to my sister-out-of-law, who claims I've had WAY too many pictures of my fat feet wearing hand made socks.


Evidently, I was able to finish up the Kureyon socks this past weekend. They turned out quite well (in case you couldn't tell by the minimal number of pictures).

I don't particularly like this yarn. It's rough for wool, it's painfully thick and thin, and this one ball came with only one knot in it, resulting in a complete change in the color-sequencing. I'm hoping that the first washing will soften up the sock fabric.

Monday, February 08, 2010

ADHD Knitter Strikes Again

Yes, attention deficit when it comes to focusing on one project, doesn't seem to be one of my strengths!

Oooh Look...Shiny Things!
It doesn't take much to distract me, and when one of my favorite Swedish male knitters puts up a free hat design on Ravelry, I have no power to resist.

Ivar Asplund, of AsplundKnits does some beautiful knitting, and his latest free pattern on Ravelry, Sigge Hat caught my eye and I felt compelled to pick up yarn and needles and cast on a new project.

It's a nice quick and easy knit, and although my choice of yarns didn't give quite such a clean, geometric look as Ivar's version, I still like how mine came out.

And now here's me showing off my one super power.

I used the leftover handspun yarn made by Dan (Brewergnome) during the last Fiber to Scarf event that Ted facilitated and a beautiful sock yarn from A Verb For Keeping Warm.

I'm considering making another one using the leftovers from a couple of sweaters, but we'll see.

Current Knitting
Knitting the hat did not stop me from also doing some work on the Kureyon Socks I've been knitting.

You can see I'm almost up to the same level on the second sock as the first. I'm hopeful to finishe this pair of socks this coming week.

Recent Reading
In anticipation of the upcoming Tim Burton movie version, I felt I should at least read "Alice In Wonderland" by Lewis Caroll first.

I was surprised to realize I had never read this book, and now having done so, I sort of wish I hadn't. I must admit I found it difficult to find any brilliance in the writing whatsoever, although I'm sure I'm missing some historical context or allegorical techniques that are beyond my grasp of understanding.

I'll have to google some literary analysis of this story to see what I've missed in hopes of appreciating the movie more.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mad Skills

Have you ever experienced this? Someone at work gets assigned a project or a task for which they are clearly not capable, and you get to realize just how broad your skill-set is in comparison to theirs?

Taking My Skills For Granted
I often times forget that some of the things I take for granted can be a valuable and hard-to-find set of skills. I'm not talking about my broad understanding of the software I help companies implement...I understand that there aren't many folks that can do that kind of work.

But simple skills, such as:
- not sounding like an idiot when conversing with an executive in an elevator,
- composing a succinct, understandable status report
- translating business jargon into English
- how to facilitate an effective meeting
- composing data into a presentation that makes it universally understandable
- arranging travel and navigating airports and hotels and local transportation

I often forget that these are very concrete skills necessary to do my day-to-day job. I only wish I could include these on my performance reviews!

Current Knitting
I just barely finished turning the heel on the second Kureyon sock.

Now I just have to get up to the same cuff height as the first sock and decide how I want to split the remaining yarn to finish off both socks.

Current Spinning
I also started work on another lapsed project...this time in the spinning arena.

It's not much, but I've re-started on the spindling of the lace-weight pink yarn using various drop-spindles. And it counts towards finishing up another WIP.

If anyone has ever seen some of Ed Lingenfelter's custom-designed drop spindles, and found that they were always sold out, he's got some great buys of his work out on his Tilt-a-Whorl site now. With all the time it takes for him to make one of these beauties, it amazes me at how low his prices are.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Johnny Weir show I saw on Sundance Channel, Fredda asks, "The film seems compelling; what's the title?"

It's called "Be Good Johnny Weir" and it's an eight part series on Monday nights on Sundance Channel. And if like Joe and Mel, you can't tolerate his views on animal fur, I have to admit, this series won't make that any better.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I Think I'm In Love

And he's encouraged should have seen this delightful rascal in his Sundance channel special.

Just Be Yourself!
Seems to be the motto that this young man lives by, and his honesty and enthusiastic energy seem to just pour out of the screen.

It really is nice to see a young man so confident in who he a way that makes him let know other less-than-butch guys can be funny, smart and delightful.

It was kind of painful to watch Johnny Weir, well, stressful, if not painful. I ached to see him succeed and win each skating event he competed in. I can't imagine being his mother or aunt or coach...or him for that matter...the intensity seemed just too much to handle.

If you get a chance to see this Sundance special, I'm sure you'll be enchanted as well.

Current Knitting
Got some more knitting done on the Kureyon sock this past weekend, and even the ribbing didn't seem to slow me down too much.

I decided that even though I won't be able to make two identical socks, that I wanted to make them look as similar as possible, so I put the first sock on hold when it came to the purple color so I could start the seond one. The top of the cuffs will be different on both socks, but given how nice these colors are, I'm okay with that.

Flea Market Find
Thaddeus has quite an amazing eye when it comes to finding interesting things at the flea market. Last week, he spotted this unlikely purchase.


It's a Toastmaster waffle iron made in the 1930's. He got it in his mind at one point that I wanted a waffle iron, and while I didn't yearn for one, I was really pleased that he found this lovely one. It's in extraordinary condition and I really like the simple styling of it.

We experimented with waffles this weekend, and the first one off the new iron came out extremely well.

The fact that it's not a complete circle is my over-cautiousness in not wanting batter to flow out of a too-full waffle iron, but the taste and the crisp, fluffiness were perfect!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Robert writes, "In the above picture, the one of the orchid in its natural setting, there's a painting in the background. It's beautiful! Who's the painter?"

She's my favorite local painter these days...her name is Jane Gilday, and this particular piece is a very early one of hers. We have about 4 or 5 other paintings by her, and I honestly think her work will one day be some of the most valuable things we own (at least based on some of her recent auction prices).