Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Finishing The Dance for Stanley

Stanley Almodovar III, a 23 year old pharmacy tech-in-training was one of 49 people killed at the Pulse massacre.

Finishing What He Can't

Stanley was in the bathroom when the shooting started, and this young hero ran toward the gunfire when he realized lives were in danger.  He pushed people out of the line of fire and saved lives before taking a fatal gunshot himself.

June 6, 2018 marked the 2nd anniversary of the shootings that killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. Kyle Kunnecke created The Finish the Dance cowl to celebrate the memories of these individuals, while also working to raise money for Lambert House, a Seattle, WA based nonprofit that empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth through the development of leadership, social, and life skills.

There is so much about this project that touched me deeply.
The pattern has a thumbnail photo of each of the 49 who died in the tragedy
The pattern also lists all 49 names
The initial kits for the cowl each had a numbered tag corresponding to the list of names
The kits all used Skacel-donated yarnsThe kits came with a hand-sewn bag from Erin Lane BagsThe kits also included a single bead to be incorporated into the cowl representing the sparkling memory of the deceased
The pattern repeats 49 times

The 49 kits sold out very quickly, and honestly, it would take quite a bit of work to put together the amounts of yarn that Kyle so lovingly created assembled, but you can buy Kyle's pattern here.  You can also contribute to the Lambert House here.  Or, buy all the HiKoo CoBaSi yarn plus enough glittery white yarn (Karat) to make the original of Kyle's pattern and support Skacel while you're at it!  If anyone decides to purchase the six rainbow colors of CoBaSi yarn and the Karat yarn, I'd be glad to try and put you in touch with someone that will purchase your leftovers for their own cowl!

Current Knitting

As you can guess, I was able to complete the Finish The Dance Cowl project.

One of the suggestions for the KAL for this project was that you lock in floats every other stitch, which I thought would have made for way too much work.  But I'm glad I followed that advice...I improved my stranded knitting speed significantly, and the back looks almost wearable!

You'll notice there were quite a few ends to weave in as well, but I really enjoyed making this project and will think of Stanley often because of it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Eating - Near and Dear to My Heart

What are your regular meals for a typical day?

What Are My Options?

Here is the list of meals I typically think of when I look at my options for eating throughout the day.

The first meal of the day. Usually around 6am-9am.
A meal eaten in the late morning, instead of Breakfast and Lunch. 
A snack (for example, biscuits and coffee). Around 11am. 
A meal in the middle of the day. Usually around noon or 1pm.
A light afternoon meal of sandwiches, cakes etc, with a drink of tea. Around 4pm. It is also sometimes called afternoon tea. The word tea can also refer to a cooked evening meal, around 6pm.
A light or informal evening meal. Around 6pm-7pm. 
The main meal of the day, eaten either in the middle of the day or in the evening. Usually when people say "dinner", they mean an evening meal, around 7pm-9pm.
My typical eating schedule includes:

Dinner - at noon - we eat our main meal in the middle of the day.  It is usually comprised of either a large salad with some combination of protein (bacon, sliced meats, sausage, etc.), eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, etc., or a standard protein, vegetable, starch meals, like lamb chops, ratatouille and sweet potato.  Sometimes it's even a large bowl of chicken soup with hominy, served like a pozole in Mexico), or a meal out at a local restaurant.

Tea - Small afternoon snack around 4:00 which sometimes includes tea or a latte, but often will be just a glass of seltzer water with cheese and pickles, or my most common favorite, peanut butter and crackers.

Supper - Usually around 6:00 or 7:00, we fix ourselves a small plate of cheese or sardines with pickles or relishes on the side.

I don't eat breakfast (unless you consider a latte breakfast) which I don't miss in the least.  I've found that even with little exercise, I can eat this way and maintain my current weight with minimal worries about what I eat.

What meals do you eat (and where do you live if you think that has an impact on your eating schedule)?

Current Knitting

The Finish The Dance Cowl is almost finished!

In fact, I'm on the very last row of knitting.  One of the things I had forgotten about stranded knitting is that I'm always pushed along to get to the next pattern row and before I know it, a complex and labor-intensive project is completed (or almost completed in this case)!

I've also finished my first pair of KAL slipper socks and started a second pair.

I think I'll make 3 or 4 pairs of these and either let one of the guys at the retreat wear them in September, or create a product label for them and donate them to Easton Mountain to sell in their store...we'll see how ambitious I get.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Apple Store Redeemed!

There is an Apple Store at Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrenceville, NJ that had me questioning what all the fuss was about with Apple Stores.

One Savvy Tech Guy

A poor experience with helping an older friend buy and iPad, a lousy experience having a battery replaced in my iPhone which required two visits because they broke the glass on my iPhone.  It was all about to result in a rant here on QueerJoe about what a shitty Apple Store this is.

Until, I met the Genius Bar tech guy who checked in my iPhone to have the glass replaced.

It looked like it was going to be a painful experience.  I had booked an appointment with central technical support and had it documented in the appointment that the glass replacement would be free. The tech guy started telling me it would be it was going to be $129 plus tax.  When I referred him to the notes in appointment, he apologized and told me I was would be replaced gratis.  He also did two other things which I really appreciated:

  1. He explained to me in a very non-defensive way, that he was surprised the store had agreed to replace my glass for free.  He said that he replaced a lot of batteries for the store and that they have an extremely sensitive device for removing the glass, and it's likely that my glass already had a small, undetectable crack before they removed it to replace the battery.  He was actually happy for me that I had negotiated a free glass replacement.
  2. But the best thing he did, was when he told me I could come pick up my iPhone in an hour he apologized for making me come in a second time and all the hassle that created.  An apology that was very much appreciated.

I honestly don't think this particular Apple Store is very well managed...their processes for picking up a repaired device is fraught with the potential for customer frustration.  And they have a couple of employees there that really don't understand how to speak with people, which indicates their hiring practices aren't the best.  But they clearly have some stellar examples of employees there too.  More so, I don't think I'll ever go back to this Apple Store.  I have an alternative in Bridgewater, NJ that has better Yelp reviews.

Finally, if you've made it this far into my boring story...when I went to pick up my iPhone, the Genius  Bar employee told me that they couldn't repair the glass on my iPhone and they'd have to charge me $129 for a replacement phone.  After arguing with him for a while about having to pay anything after they broke the glass, the manager of the store was brought in and agreed to replace my iPhone for free.

You can imagine how conflicted I was with this entire was a painful experience for both me and the store, and I eventually got what I wanted...but I definitely felt let down by the promise of these beautiful stores.  So, I'll choose to focus my thoughts on the brilliant techie who was so empathetic and helpful.

Current Knitting

With two WsIP on the needles, I have been making steady and regular progress.  The first WIP is the Slipper Socks (KAL) I will be wearing at the North East Men's Fall Knitting Retreat in September, since the retreat center asks us to take off our shoes in the main lodge building.

Does anyone else wear the first sock whilst they work on the second?

The second WIP (also a KAL), Finish The Dance Cowl is moving along quite nicely.

I'm almost finished with the yellow and have two more colors to go in this rainbow-like progression.  I also like this photo as it shows how neat my stranded knitting is on both the outside and the inside.  The HiKoo CoBaSi yarn is really nice to work with, especially for a cotton/nylon/acrylic blend.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bicycle Helmet or No?

The comments generated by these posts never appeal to me, because it either feels like I'm listening to advice from an alcoholic cousin who throws caution to the wind, or I'm hearing from the most anxious moms on the planet.

Pros and Cons

For the first year or so that Thaddeus and I were bicycling, we didn't wear a helmet.

Most of the research on wearing a helmet seems to indicate that there is no discernible benefit to wearing one, although there is a lot of personal experiences indicating folks were glad they were wearing one.

- Protection against head injuries
- Protects agains facial injuries
- Protects expensive eyewear
- Lightweight and easy-fitting
- Helps ease worries for people who worry like my mom

- Seems to be a little more sweaty and itchy than a cap
- Expensive
- Looks silly when I wear it
- Potentially offers little or no protection
- Baseball cap offers more sun glare protection
- Gives wearer a false sense of security

Almost all of our bicycling is done on the canal towpath with very little chance of being hit by a car or getting run off the road.  However, within the last few months, they've closed down a section of the towpath, requiring us to bicycle on about a mile of road that has a really bad shoulder.

Based on the new route, I opted to start wearing a helmet...for a different reason, Thaddeus has decided to wear one too.

Current Knitting

Two KAL's going on right now.  The Finish The Dance Cowl to benefit the LGBTQ homeless shelter, Lambert House:

And the North East Men's Fall Knitting Retreat Slipper Sock KAL:

Splitting my time between two projects has made for somewhat slower progress, but I'm loving both projects, so I'm enjoying the extended knitting time.

Readers' Comments/Questions

In comments, IndigoB writes, "The mail carriers I know are far from lazy even if they sometimes deliver less than stellar service. I'm sorry your experience has been different."

I agree completely with this assessment...our regular mail carrier is really very good and the one that typically fills in for the regular guy is very good as well.  This latest one seems to go to great lengths to not go to our doorway if the packages can be jammed in the mailbox.  Lazy isn't really accurate, because it's hard work even with shortcuts.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Flurry Turns Into Storm

Monday, I posted that there were a flurry of new knitting projects in my that's turned into a torrential downpour!

Mailbox Stuffed!

I live in a townhome complex where we don't each have individual mailboxes at our doorstep...we have clustered mailboxes.

Our mail deliverer jammed 5 catalogs, 7 letters, a box, a puffy-pack CD, and a tyvek package into the box yesterday.  Lazy bitch could've at least walked the 50 yards to my door to drop off the two packages like most of the less-incompetent ones do...but at least there was no damage.

The Franklin Habit Dolores Kit and the Kyle Kunnecke Finish The Dance Cowl Kit

Namoli Brennet's The Simple Life CD, USB with engraved wood case and sticker

So now I've got two KAL's going, finishing the secret/gift knit project and a few things waiting in queue.

Retirement can be exhausting!  Just's awesome!

Current Knitting

First of all, I finished knitting the gift object and I even finished the embroidery part (badly).  I still need to sew the embroidery onto the knitted object.  I will be able to post photos of this in a couple of weeks.

Then, being the competitive person I am, I had to start Kyle's Finish the Dance Cowl.

This is truly a well-thought out design...each comes with a hand-sewn project bag in beautiful fabric, is numbered out of the 49 kits (to match the number of people who died in the Pulse shooting) with yarn that was donated by Skacel and put together by Kyle to support the Lambert House and even the design incorporates 49 repeats...a constant reminder of those who died as I'm knitting this beautiful cowl.

Im on the second color of the rainbow, and it is done in stranded knitting, so I'm locking every other stitch float.  It's taking a little longer with all the float-locks, but I'm loving the result.

Finally, in addition to ignoring the Teddy Bear Baby Blanket (for now), I started my own KAL for the guys currently registered for the Fall Men's Knitting Retreat at Easton Mountain in September.

This is the start of a pair of Men's Slipper Socks I designed a while ago when I saw a similar pair for sale from a commercial store and I figured I could easily make's what the looked like way back then.

Simple and easy knitting that I should finish up pretty quickly and let me get back to doing some work on the Teddy Bear Baby Blanket.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Mid-Summer Flurry of New Projects

Every once in a while I worry that I may be finishing a knitting project and I won't have another one to immediately start when it's finished.


Today I find myself working on the Teddy Bear Baby Blanket, a new surprise/secret knit project, a part of the surprise/secret project that includes embroidery AND I'm expected to get the Finish The Dance Cowl KAL project in the mail.

First of all, I finished the latest row of Teddy Bears on the Baby Blanket.

I should probably have finished (or at least started) the next row of Teddy Bears, but I needed to start a new secret project more urgently than I needed to finish the baby blanket.

And yes, this new project includes embroidery...and let me tell you, just because I'm good at knitting, that definitely does NOT translate to all hand-stitching.  My embroidery skills are less than adequate for what I'm trying to do...but they are improving.

Finally, today is when my Kyle Kunnecke charity KAL kit arrives (or at least that's what UPS tells me).

Being a competitive person, especially when it comes to my knitting, I will definitely want to be starting work on the KAL as soon as it arrives.

Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of knitting projects for the hot and sultry month of July.