Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another day, another mass shooting.

I posted most of this to Facebook, but I wanted to write about it here, too -- partly to make it a little more permanent than a status update, and partly because I keep going back and adding more and I keep thinking about the horrific mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that occurred last night. Nine more people lost to gun violence. Nine more black lives snuffed out by an avowed racist who said, in plain language, that he was there to kill black people. Hell, he left one woman alive specifically so that she could tell people what he said before he opened fire. 

And yet we have people like the talking heads on Fox News trying to spin this as an attack on Christianity. We have people claiming that "we don't know what Dylann Roof's motivation was!" Yes, we do. He said it himself. "I have to do it. You're raping our women and you're taking over our country and you have to go." (And then shot six women and three men to death. So much for that argument.) He wore racist patches on his jacket. He talked to his roommate about how much he hated black people, and how he wanted to kill them. His motive was hatred and racism. Period.
This mass shooting, this terrorist attack, was not part of Fox News' make-believe "war on Christianity." It was an attack on black people at a prayer service in a historic black church, by an avowed racist. Why is that so difficult comprehend? Why do they, and their ilk, have to try SO HARD to make it about something else?

Is it, perhaps, because people like the Faux News talking heads. and everyone else who is lamenting that "Oh, we don't know the shooter's motivation" and "It's an attack on Christianity" are desperately trying to find a reason to condemn what he did, because the fact that he was a racist isn't bad enough? Is it because you can't bring yourself to care about more black lives snuffed out? You can only muster up outrage if the people murdered are like you? If the mass shooting happened anywhere other than inside a church, would you even be talking about it? Or would you ignore it completely, since the shooter isn't black? (If he was, of course, Faux News would ignore it until it was convenient to trot it out as an example of how police violence is justified because of "black-on-black crime.") It has to fit the narrative, and heaven knows the tragic loss of nine people who happened to be black doesn't fit that narrative.

Black lives don't matter to people like this. They don't give a shit unless they can spin it to be about what they deem worthy enough. It's sad and sick. And if you find yourself agreeing with the arguments that this wasn't about race, it was about attacking Christians -- if you find yourself agreeing, stop and think about why. Really think about it. Think about why the loss of more black people isn't sufficient to provoke outrage and sorrow. Think about why that isn't horrific enough all by itself. And really think about why you feel the need to push the racial motivation for this killing away, why you feel compelled to deny it or gloss over it. Racism comes in many forms, and most of them aren't as blatant as wearing a white hood and burning crosses. It's as subtle as denying the fact that these victims were targeted for the color of their skin, period.

And if you still aren't convinced that racism is a problem, that it permeates this entire country, chew on this: the day after these nine black people were gunned down during a prayer meeting in their church, the Confederate flag is still flying high at the South Carolina state house. It's not even at half-staff, not that that would make it better, but still. It's there, a very visible sign of deeply-ingrained racism that cannot be denied, no matter how people try. 

Cynthia Hurd.
Susie Jackson.
Ethel Lance.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor.
Clementa Pinckney.
Tywanza Sanders.
Daniel Simmons Sr.
Sharonda Singleton.
Myra Thompson.

May they rest in God's peace, and rise in His power. And may we learn from this, please God, so that we can try to keep it from happening again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Oh, whoops, I forgot about my blog again. Hi! What's new?

What's new with me, hmmm... well, there hasn't been a recurrence of Migrainepalooza, which is good. I've had one nasty one, and a couple little ones, but nothing too awful. No emergency room visits, anyway. I have to have some minor surgery in a couple of weeks -- nothing huge, but I'm not especially looking forward to it. Mostly because I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 in the morning, ugh.

Knitting-wise... meh. My knitting mojo is on its annual summer vacation, I guess, because I'm just not getting anything done. The plain ribbed socks I'm working on? I ended up ripping the heels out at least three times on each one, because they just weren't coming out right, The sweater? In time-out until it stops messing with me with extra stitches, dropped stitches, etc. The socks are behaving now, at least, and are progressing very very slowly. (And yeah, okay, part of the slow pace is because of Skyrim. Oh, Skyrim, you make me stay up too late and never get anything done, but I love you anyway.)

I did manage to get out of the house this weekend, though -- we packed up Jasper and Oliver and headed out to Wellesley to the annual Pignic! The Pignic is a gathering of guinea pigs and their devoted humans at a lovely grassy park by the Town Hall. (The city doesn't use any chemicals or anything on the grass there, so it's safe for the piggies to run around on and eat. And oh, did they eat! Photographic evidence to follow...)

The volunteers, led by the woman who runs the Cavy Madness site, had nice big pens set up -- one for the boys, one for the girls -- with treats and hidey-houses and toys for the pigs, so once the boys were weighed and checked for mites (don't want to spread those to other piggies) we settled them into the Boys pen and let them run around. Jasper immediately decided that a wooden hidey-house was his, and wouldn't come out or let anybody else in:

"MY house!"

He'd poke his head out to grab a treat, and he'd touch noses and wheek with the other piggies, but he would not surrender his house. 

Oliver quickly discovered that grass is very very tasty:

A video posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on
Jasper lost his spot in the wooden house when we scooped him and Oliver up to have their photos taken by Joey from Salem Pet Photography (who does a great job, and if you're in the area and have a pet, you should get her to photograph it!). The pictures look like their school photos from Piggy Academy:

Oliver, a little uncertain about this...

Jasper and his green, green chin -- evidence that he, too, thought the grass was delicious! (Part of me wishes I'd wiped his face, but the rest of me loves the visual reminder of what a good time he had.)

And a shot of the two of them... Jasper is clearly thinking "Hey, somebody swiped my hidey-house. Get outta my house, you kids!"

After the photo session, the boys went back into the pen to play some more, and Jasper actually scampered around outside, since the wooden house was occupied:
A video posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on

Lookit those little butts waddling!

He had many admirers, and quickly learned that, if he approached people who were sitting near the pen and looked cute at them, they've give him treats and scritches. After a while, though, he found a nice spot under a little stool that was being used as a hidey-spot, and settled in to relax and watch the world go by:

And Oliver made friends with a piggy who looked a lot like him -- they spent ages chasing each other around, and then sacked out in a pigloo together for a nap:
A photo posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on

C. came along with us, and we sat enjoying the fabulous weather, nibbling snacks, and knitting while the pigs ran around and played. All in all, a perfectly lovely day. And Jasper rode home perched on my chest, chin resting on my shoulder, happily sniffing the breeze from the car window. (Not the safest thing to do, I know, but the two of them bickered all the way to Wellesley in the carrier, and I made sure I was holding him securely. He's an elderly little guy, I wanted him to have as much of a happy adventure as possible.) They both sacked out for long, long naps when we got home. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brain woes

So, where have I been? Dealing with my brain, which is apparently trying to kill me.

I get migraines. Always have, since I was a wee child. My mom gets 'em, her mom got 'em... my brother does, too. It's heredity, nothing to be done about it. When I was a kid, they were brutal -- really painful, endless bouts of vomiting, all that fun stuff. Miserable. When I was about 15 or so, they stopped! I was so happy! Life was good! And then, in 2001, they came back. Right in the middle of a lovely visit from some out-of-town friends. (Including an ex-boyfriend from college and his current girlfriend, who was deeply unhappy that I existed, much less was still friends with my ex, and made it ABUNDANTLY clear that she loathed me, and wasn't THAT fun.) They weren't as bad, though -- I get the lovely scintillating scotoma, which makes my vision go all wonky (there are animations on that Wikipedia entry. I can't look at them, because it makes me want to puke), and I get some weird language aphasia, but normally, the headache itself isn't that bad. It usually feels like someone has thumped me right above my left eye, and is unpleasant, but that's it. I can manage, especially if I can get a nap in right when it all starts. 

This past week, though, whoa. Sunday night, just as Jeff was making a lovely dinner, the aura started up, so I swore a few times and went to lie down. Dozed for half an hour or so, then got up and tried to eat a little something, but the headache was much worse than usual, and I felt nauseated, so back to bed I went, for another hour or so. It was a little better after that, but of course by then my sleep cycle was all off-kilter, so I got up for a little while and read until I felt sleepy again. 

Monday, I felt okay, except for the usual post-migraine drained feeling... until that night at around 9:30, when the migraine came roaring back. It was bad, so much worse than Sunday. Hell, much worse than it's ever been! Bad enough that I asked Jeff to call my mom and see if she thought we should go to the emergency room. By then, I had a fistful of my own hair, which I was pulling on hard -- I couldn't help myself, it just hurt so much. Mom said yes, go to the ER, so we went to the local hospital, which... not the best idea. They're not very good. At least not in the ER they aren't. We should have gone to one of the better hospitals, but those were at least 20-30 minutes away, and the local one is about 5 minutes, and I felt so ill that I didn't want to be in the car for any longer than was necessary. 

I kind of figured that going in and telling the ER desk-staff person that I was having the worst headache of my life would get me seen quickly. I could barely talk at that point, just sort of croak, and words weren't really working for me, but nope, I get sent off to the waiting room. For over an hour. At least they gave me a barf pan, just in case, after Jeff asked for one! It was the most miserable hour I've had in a very long time -- blinding pain, nausea, ugh. Finally, though, just as I had decided that, if they didn't see me within the next ten minutes, we were going home, they moved me into a room and gave me a lovely IV of saline, anti-nausea meds, pain meds, and, interestingly, Benadryl. The nurse said it helps with the tension that migraines can cause. Plus it knocks you out, so that was a plus. Once all that kicked in, we went home... at around 2:30 in the morning. Whee. Had a tiny snack, then crashed into bed and slept for a nice 11 hours or so. Woke up feeling okay, if even more drained then before, but otherwise okay. And then realized, while petting the cats, that I couldn't see out of my right eye properly. Another fucking migraine. Jeff called my primary care doctor's office while I sobbed in the bedroom, and they told him to just bring me right in. (The intake nurse was sort of bitchy at me when I didn't know what the various meds the ER had given me were called. I couldn't remember! And, lady, I AM HAVING A MIGRAINE RIGHT NOW. I'm lucky I remember my own NAME. Cut me some slack!) Got a nice shot of Tramadol in my butt, and then had a little lie-down in a darkened exam room, and went home again. (The weird thing was, that migraine aura was on the opposite side from the usual ones. Strange!) I'm sure the Tramadol helped, but at least that one wasn't so bad -- the headache didn't really take hold too much, so after a little nap, I felt okay again. And since then, no migraines. (Knock wood.)

The nurse practitioner I saw on Tuesday thinks it was sinus pressure from all the pollen. I don't, not really -- I always have allergies, and my sinuses were no worse than usual. I suspect it was the weather -- it was cycling between being fairly cool and dry to hot and muggy over the few days up to and during the Great Migraine Attack of 2015, and weather changes are always a trigger for me. Whatever caused it, I hope it doesn't happen again. 

There hasn't been much knitting, what with the headaches -- a little progress on the sweater, a little progress on a sock... but I did manage to make a present for my brother. Meet Gnorman:

He's a tiny gnome! He embarked on his grand adventure in care of the US Postal Service a few days before Migrainepalooza, and was a big hit with my brother. He was kind of a pain to knit, but I miss him, so I might have to make one for myself. Or two. Or 40. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A new crafty project!

Happy Monday! If you're in Massachusetts, Happy Patriot's Day! Jeff and I spent the weekend in Vermont visiting my mom and brother -- we finally got to have our long-delayed Christmas visit with them. (We'd planned to go up in January, but the weather was awful and Jeff had to have a tooth pulled, so we stayed home. Then we tried to go in February, but... it snowed a ton. Then we planned to go in March, but, well, remember this?

Yeah, we didn't go then either. But the snow has finally melted, so we made the trip up on Friday, and had a nice, relaxing weekend of knitting and talking and playing board games (I rule at Bananagrams, as it turns out). We exchanged presents -- Mom loves Trader Joe's, and there isn't ojne anywhere near her, so we brought a huge bag of various cookies and candy and body washes and whatnot for them to share. My brother really wanted a tiny ear of corn, so I knitted one up for him. Mom gave us some kitchen gadgets, some snacky treats, some lovely scented body washes and lotions (for me), some fancy seasonings and whatnot for cooking (for Jeff, he's the chef in this house) and this cute little guy for tea-making!

There was also yarn, of course -- since Mom knows my love of purple well, she'd picked up a couple of skeins of lovely sock yarn for me a few months back:

(Cascade sock yarn, very squishy!)

(More Cascade, this one with silk. Mmmm...)

My knitting was plagued by gremlins on Saturday -- first, the cable part of the circular needle I'm knitting my sweater with pulled out from the connector that joins it to the needle tip, and I couldn't get it back in, so we dashed out to Michael's so I could get a cheap replacement needle to use until I got home. Then, later that night, I pulled the sock-in-progress out of my purse to work on, and found that two -- TWO! -- of the double-pointed needles had snapped in half! I don't know what happened -- the project back was tucked into my purse, just like always, and I'm not in the habit of flinging my purse around or stomping on it or anything, That set of needles did feel flimsy, though -- they were Knitpicks wooden DPNs, and were very, very bendy -- more flexible even than some much thinner bamboo needles I've used. So I guess I wasn't that surprised that they broke, I'm just flummoxed by how two of them broke while in my purse. 

I borrowed a set of aluminum DPNs from Mom to keep the sock from becoming an unraveled mess until I could get home and swap to an unbroken set. Good thing Mom and I share the same craft interests! (The circular needle that broke was also a Knitpicks one. I'm becoming less and less impressed with their needles over time -- I know that, when they first introduced their interchangeable sets, they had a big problem with the cables coming apart. I had several cables replaced because of that. But they've been making these sets for quite a while now, you'd think they could figure out a more durable way to put the needles and cables together. And of all the different wooden DPNs, I've used, their are the only ones that have ever broken on me -- I had three break while I was knitting the various tiny things, a couple have had the tips splinter while knitting socks, and now these two breaking... I love Knitpicks' yarns, but I think I'll be buying needles elsewhere from now on.)

And now the new crafty project! The backstory: I have a couple of bottles of perfume oils that I love the scent of, but very rarely wear. I don't like dealing with the oils -- they feel messy, like I'm going to get stains on my clothes or something, and it's hard to control how much comes out of the bottle, so I always end up wearing too much. About three weeks ago, I decided to wear one of them, and when I opened the bottle, the plastic cap fell apart in my hand! So, I couldn't close the bottle securely, and I didn't really have anything else to put the oil in... and it occurred to me that I could probably make it into a solid perfume fairly easily. A little poking around online, a quick order from Mountain Rose Herbs, and voila, a few nice little tubes of solid perfume! 

(Exciting, huh? Looks like lip balm! But you probably wouldn't want to use it that way, I bet it doesn't taste good...)

I used equal parts beeswax and sweet almond oil, melted in a makeshift double-boiler, and poured into lip-balm tubes (with Jeff's help, otherwise I'd have spilled it everywhere). I got three full tubes out of my first trial run, and am already obsessed with getting more supplies and essential oils to make different blends. (The perfume oil I used this time was from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, the "Embalming Fluid" scent. It does not smell like dead people. It smells lovely, in fact. And now I'll wear it a lot more often! I have another of their perfume oils that I plan to turn into solid perfume, too, later on.) So now I have a new idea for handmade gifts! Which is always good! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sweater progress

The Kara sweater went to my knitting group with me tonight:

It's draped on the table, so the bottom edge is kind of in my lap. But you can see sleeves forming! Progress is being made!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Out of hibernation

So, the Bruins season is over. Ended with a whimper. Kind of like I expected it to. Let's talk about something else, shall we?

I took two sweaters out of knitting hibernation this week, in an effort to clean up some of the yarny chaos around here. The first one, my Rocky Coast cardigan, was supposed to be my Rhinebeck sweater for 2013, but it just wasn't really doing it for me. It's a lovely sweater, but the all-over cabling is just too bulky for my taste, I guess. So it had been sitting in a tote back, partly-finished -- I had the body and one sleeve done, and just needed to finish the second sleeve and pick up and knit the ribbing around the front, but... it just sat, collecting dust. So this week it went from this:

to this:

(The color in the top picture is closer to reality; it's very hard to get a good picture of dark blue yarn!)

At some point, I'll re-skein the unraveled yarn and wash it, since it's all crimped up and dusty. Then, it'll become another sweater.

The second sweater, the Kara pattern by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, has also been in stasis for a really, really long time, but it's meeting a happier fate (I hope!). I decided it really needs finishing, so I dug it out, figured out where I am in the lace pattern, and started working on it again while Jeff and I binge-watch Daredevil on Netflix. (Excellent show. But very very dark! And some parts are violent enough to make me cover my eyes, and I'm not squeamish!) Which is what I'm going to continue doing now. Happy weekend!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not-so-great health news, and a nice surprise

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday that I didn't think was going to be a big deal -- I really only made the appointment to ask her about possible solutions for the week of misery I have every month, if you know what I mean (and I suspect you do...*). So I was surprised when the nurse whipped out needles and vials and prepared to draw loads of blood! A few needle pokes in my arms (right arm decided it didn't want to play nicely, so she had to switch to the left, which bled quite enthusiastically, and now I have big yellow bruises on each arm) and a finger stick later, I finally got to chat with my doctor and... yeah, the instant blood test thing they do shows I'm diabetic. Not terribly severe -- an a1c level of 6.5 is the cutoff, and mine was 6.6. Alas. But not a big surprise, it runs in my family and all. So, I'm on medication, and working on eating less crap and getting more exercise. (Which will be easier once the goddamn snow melts. This winter was hellish, just walking to work was an ordeal, so any exercise outdoors wasn't gonna happen. I wish we had room for an exercise bike or something, but our apartment is tiny.)

I was worried about the new medication initially, because it was making me feel really sick to my stomach. Plus, I have a nasty cold and sore throat, so this weekend was less than fun. It all seems to be subsiding now, though -- I still have a whiskey-and-cigarette rasp to my voice, though.

I did have a nice surprise this morning, though: last night I noticed a giveaway from one of my favorite designers on Ravelry, one of those "leave a comment to enter" things, so I posted a quick comment and then promptly forgot all about it... until I got a message telling me I won! I'll be getting the pattern and yarn to make this lovely shawl. I chose a nice purple colorway for the yarn. I never win anything! Such a nice surprise.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Yarn Crawl!

So, this happened today:

This has been Boston's snowiest winter. 108.6 inches. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT POINT SIX INCHES. And it's snowing right now! I like winter, and I don't really mind snow, but for crying out loud, enough already!!

I did venture out into the rain/snow mix today, though, since C. and another friend and I went out to hit some shops on the North Shore Yarn Crawl! First stop was Seed Stitch in Salem, where there was a lovely table full of yarns by Dirty Water Dyeworks. I was sorely tempted by a skein of merino/yak/silk in a deep, intense purple, but it was more than I wanted to spend at our first stop... gotta pace yourself, you know?

Next up was a new shop in Salem, Circle of Stitches, which wasn't officially part of the Yarn Crawl, but we couldn't pass up a new shop! The shop wasn't open quite yet when we got there, but the owner saw us through the window and let us in early, which was nice. The owner dyes Toil and Trouble yarns, which I've been meaning to try for a while, and as soon as we walked in, a skein of her fingering-weight yarn in the Yeti Love Note colorway called to me:

The nice bright colors are so nice, after all the snow and ick.

Next up was lunch at Woodman's! They're known for their fried clams, but I'm not a big clam fan, so I go for the chicken strips, which are really good. And they have excellent onion rings. After lunch was our last stop, the wonderful Coveted Yarn in Gloucester -- my favorite local-ish shop. I picked up two skeins there -- first, a nice soft squishy skein of MadelineTosh Merino Light, in a colorway called Lepidoptera:

More nice bright color! It just glows in person, so pretty. And after browsing around, I noticed this skein hiding behind a few others:

It's Frabjous Fiber's Mad Hatter yarn, in a gorgeous purple called Phantomwise. The picture doesn't do it justice, it's just beautiful.

We headed for home after that -- the weather was getting nastier, and we'd been to all the shops we really wanted to go to. And a nap was calling to me, so after showing the yarns to Jeff, I crawled into bed with cats on my feet and slept for a bit. The Mollycat has the right idea:

"I'm not getting outta bed until Spring."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A tale of roommates past...

...because a post on  Go Fug Yourself asked readers to tell their Very Worst Roommate stories, which reminded me of my very worst roommate. This story usually "wins" whenever I have the "bad roommate" discussion with people. I swear on my life, this is all true. I wish I was making it up, but...

I went to Emerson College in Boston, and had two roommates freshman year: A, who was a stoner who really did nothing but lie on her bed and listen to the same Grateful Dead/ Jerry Garcia Band mix tape over and over and over and over (and is the reason I cannot abide that music to this day) and S, who was… well.

On the day she arrived, S. marched into our room and announced that she was a “Jewish American Princess,” and thus got whatever she wanted. No hello, no introduction, just that. Her favorite thing to do was to open the window (we lived on the fourth floor, facing the dorm on the other side of the street), sit on top of her desk, lean out the window, and scream the word “PENIS!!!!” at the top of her lungs, then laugh and laugh. She could, and often did, do this for HOURS. She made it her goal to sleep with one guy for each letter of the alphabet that year, and since I was dating a guy named Andy at the time, she decided he would be letter A. He stopped coming to our room because she would try to stick her hands down his pants, or tell him that if he got bored with me, she was available. She also had no qualms at all about having sex in the room when A. and I were there. Not while we were sleeping, mind you — I mean in the middle of the day. You’d be doing homework, hear suspicious noises, look up, and she and whichever guy she was with would be going at it. Sometimes with the door to our room open, so people in the hallway could see.

The best part, though, was this: (I advise you to skip this part if you have a weak stomach…) She and A. had the bunk beds in our room, while I had the single bed. A. was on the top bunk, S. had the bottom. S. got a steady boyfriend halfway through the year, and decided that, as a show of how deeply in love she was, she was going to KEEP ALL THE CONDOMS THEY USED AND HANG THEM FROM THE TOP BUNK’S SPRINGS. I wish I was kidding. She had one already dangling there when she announced this plan. She changed her mind about leaving them there when A. and I informed her that we would literally set her bed on fire if she did anything that disgusting. (I think she still kept them, though. I suspect they were in her desk drawer. I’m not sure.) 

S. also had a boyfriend back home, who she'd been with all through high school. M. was... oh, he was a very nice guy, but dumber than a bag of hair. He had some sort of heart condition, which meant he came to Boston a lot for medical appointments, and also to visit S. S., of course, treated him like shit -- she was on some sort of remedial program at Emerson, I think because her grades weren't good enough to get her in, but her SAT scores were? Something like that. Anyway, it meant that she never had morning classes, and didn't have classes on Fridays, and had, I think, a lighter course load than normal. Maybe she only had to take two or three classes per year, instead of two per semester? And they were special classes, too -- you could only get them if you were in this program, and they weren't anywhere near as challenging. (This also meant that S. would stay up partying with her one or two friends all night every night, even though she knew I had classes in the morning. I think A. did too, but she almost never actually went to class, so it wasn't really an issue for her. A. dropped out after freshman year to follow the Grateful Dead around... just a year or two before Jerry Garcia died.)

But back to poor M., who would often come to Boston on Fridays, wanting to spend the weekend with S., who would lie and tell him she had classes all day on Fridays. Andy and I would frequently arrive at our dorm on Friday afternoons to find M. forlornly sitting outside on the front steps, waiting for S. to "come back from class." Except she wasn't in class, she was upstairs in our room, probably screaming "PENIS!!!!" out the window, as was her hobby. We didn't want to lie to M., and were also thoroughly sick of S., so we'd sign M. into the building and bring him up to the room. I don't know what bullshit S. told him, but he kept coming around. (She would also make up reasons why he had to leave much earlier than he had intended, so instead of staying for the weekend, he'd end up going back home on Saturday morning or something.) I think the only reason she didn't dump him was because he gave her money every time he visited, and because she wanted someone waiting for her at home.

My freshman year of college was pretty horrible to begin with -- my parents split up right after I left home, and I didn't find out until I came home for Thanksgiving, since that was when my mom could no longer hold off on kicking my dad out of the house. And then Andy dumped me the day we all got back from Christmas break -- like, within an hour of my getting back, he did the "we need to talk" thing. Dude, timing. I was very nearly suicidal that year already, and then you add in S. and the fact that her antics kept me from getting more than a couple of hours of sleep per night... it wasn't pretty. And I'm still holding a grudge against the housing director who wouldn't let me change rooms, even though there was an empty space available in a triple with two of my friends -- their third had moved to an apartment -- because she had "already dealt with too many room changes and didn't want the hassle." My RAs were both appalled, and did the best they could, but alas, being a complete asshole isn't against dorm rules, you know?

S. was a horrible, horrible little troll of a person, and I still sometimes wonder whatever became of her. I stopped seeing her around after freshman, or maybe mid-sophomore year. And that is my sad, true story! Top that, if you can, in the comments!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Oh for crying out loud.

I was making such great progress on the mitts... until I realized I'd made two right-handed ones.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday library shenanigans

A Saturday library shift just wouldn't complete without a patron, when asked politely to take her loud cell phone call out of the Reference Room, losing her shit and declaring the following:

"THEY know all about this and are FINE with it, so you need to walk away." (Gesturing at the Circulation desk staff)

"You don't have ANY IDEA what's going on. This is A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH." (I'd expect an emergency life-and-death call to be less giggly and chatty, but what do I know? Of course I didn't say that, but I did tell her that, if there was an emergency situation going on, anyone on staff would be happy to help in any way we could, and did she need assistance? She ignored that.)

"You WILL be spoken to!!!" (O...kay? I asked her if she'd like me to give her the library director's card. She ignored me.)

"I HOPE YOU FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF!!!" (At the moment, I just feel confused...)

"I hope you enjoy LOSING YOUR JOB." (Yeah, good luck with that, lady.)

The patron in question had been sitting at a table with her late-teenage daughter -- the two of them seemed fine, just chatting and laughing together. It looked to me like the daughter was maybe doing homework, and Mom was just flipping through a magazine/ playing with her phone. I had spoken to them once, when the daughter's voice got a little loud while she was talking -- I just asked her to try to keep her voice down a little bit, while smiling, and while the daughter was all "Oops, sorry, okay" Mom was giving me an absolute Death Glare. So I guess it wasn't a huge surprise that, when I had to go back over 45 minutes later to ask her to take the cell phone call out to the lobby (and seriously, people, we have signs posted everywhere, it's a quiet area, and the lobby is ten feet away), she blew up at me. It was pretty bizarre, though.

On her way out, she beelined over to Circulation, and I followed to see what she was going to tell them/ give them a heads-up. Of course, the circ staff had no idea what she was talking about, in spite of her insistence that they were fine with her loud phone call. She got the director's card, demanded my name (which I cheerfully gave her) and then stormed out, leaving us all befuddled.

Clearly, there was an issue going on that didn't have anything to do with me -- obviously if either Mom or daughter had seemed upset in any way, I would have approached them differently -- I'd have asked if they were all right, and if they needed assistance, or if they'd prefer to use a more private area of the library. (We don't have many, but there are a couple.) Apparently the two of them had been in the lobby talking on the phone and maybe arguing a little bit earlier in the day, but still, nothing to indicate a LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION OMG. And really, asking people to quiet down or take a cell phone call out of the quiet area? Is no big deal. I usually just stop on my way past to do whatever, and very quietly and cheerfully ask the patron to try to keep their voice down/ take the call out. I only become Stern Librarian if I have to speak to the same person multiple times.

Of course, all this happened while the other librarian was at lunch, so when she came back, I told her that she'd missed all the fun, and filled her in. While we were talking, another patron who had been using a computer nearby came over and said that she'd overheard the whole thing, and that I'd been nothing but nice, while the angry woman has been completely out of line. And I spent the rest of my shift writing up an email to the director, letting her know what had happened just in case this patron contacts her. Fun!! And I'm working a Sunday shift tomorrow, so I hope the craziness all happened today, and tomorrow will be quiet.

In the meantime, though, I shall continue to knit away on mitts for Jeff:

They're fingerless, and will have a mitten flap that can be folder over to keep his fingers warm, or folded back. (That line of light-colored yarn is marking the spot where I'll be picking up stitches for the flap.) The pattern has been annoying me to no end, but I'll post more about that when the mitts are done.

I also finished my Giant Cowl of Warmth:

It's big and squishy and comfortable! Definitely keeps me warm on my walks to work. It's been so damn cold lately, I needed something to cover the gap at the top of my coat, that could also be pulled up to keep my face from freezing off. It's big enough to cover most of my ears, even!

And in closing, here is Finnegan being attacked by a swarm of Wild Socks. The horror!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I just can't with this weather anymore.

So, this is my path to work:

The snowbanks on either side are almost shoulder-height on me. (I'm about 5'9".)

This is also my route to work:

At least the city has come through and cut pathways along the sidewalks -- for a while, only some of the sidewalks were sort-of shoveled, so my walk to work was a lot of fun. (Walking on the street, with a wall of snow on one side and traffic on the other, praying that no one hits me...)

This snow pile behind our car in our driveway is at least ten feet tall. I couldn't get a better picture because I couldn't back up any further to get it into the frame -- my back was against a snow wall. 

The Mollycat has the right idea:

Oh, to be a pampered kitty:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cold Sheeping

Or, at the very least, trying to use up some stash this year. I'm not saying I won't buy ANY new yarn this year -- in fact I still plan to order the yarn I picked out as a birthday present very soon -- but I am genuinely trying to use up some of the yarn that has been languishing in my stash for years.

First up: some Malabrigo worsted! I have six skeins of the Indigo colorway that I bought years and years ago, and never figured out what to do with. What with all the snow and cold lately, I decided I needed a hat, so spent some time browsing patterns on Ravelry and finally settled on the Spiralini Hat. I'm fussy about hats -- I generally hate wearing them, because they're too snug, and make my forehead itchy, and do awful things to my hair, so I wanted something light and loose. The hat fits the bill nicely:

(Oliver the guinea pig helped me model it.)

That used up a little less than one skein. I'm using another to make the Bandana cowl, which I'm hoping will make a nice snug neckwarmer to tuck into the front of my coat, but that's also big enough that I can pull it up over my nose on really cold walks to work. 

I also want to finish some works-in-progress, including two pairs of socks, a scarf, and a sweater. Which means I should get busy knitting. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Suberb Owl Sunday librarianing, oh my...

Well. Since it is the Day of the Superb Owl, I was hoping for a nice quiet afternoon at the library, but we've only been open for twenty minutes and I've already had:

One elderly woman banging on the back entrance, starting around 5 minutes before we actually opened;

At least three different people repeatedly calling the Reference line, hanging up instead of leaving a voicemail, and immediately calling back, over and over and over, while I am either helping a patron at the desk or on the other line; sometimes, folks, your friendly librarian is BUSY, and cannot answer the phone. This is why there is a voicemail box on that line. If you LEAVE A MESSAGE, your friendly, yet frazzled, librarian will call you back as soon as he or she is able to. Hanging up and calling back over and over not only won't make the line of people who requested assistance before you called magically vanish, but it will, in fact, make the already-busy librarian even busier, since he or she now has to go through and listen to all the damn empty voicemails in the box, and delete them, one by one.

More "Do you have tax forms?" questions than I can count. Nope, we don't. Not yet. And when we do, we won't have many. Don't get pissy at us, get pissy at the partisan bullshit the GOP pulled in Congress that resulted in the sequestration, which cut lots of money to various government agencies, which means the local IRS offices can't afford to send us lots of forms. Also, you can get them online very easily.

One woman who was shocked and appalled that the brand-new, highly-acclaimed best-selling novel she placed a hold on recently isn't available for her yet. It's so new, we don't even own many copies of it yet, and there are nearly 300 people in the queue. If you placed your hold within the last couple of weeks, ma'am, I'm sorry, but... it's gonna be a while. A month at least, but probably longer. Nope, I cannot move you up in line, that's not even remotely fair to all the other people who want to read it just as badly as you do. 

And while it would be lovely if the library could have a copy available for every patron that wants one, instantly and with no wait, that's not possible. We own two copies, and have six more on order. With the super-popular best-sellers, we buy even more copies than that. And then, once the demand dies down, those books just sit and gather dust until we put them into the book sale... where they gather dust because nobody wants to buy a battered, dingy copy of, say, 50 Shades of Grey, so we give up and chuck the books into recycling, and then someone finds out that the library is throwing away perfectly good books OMG the horror! And there are news stories and people complaining that we shouldn't waste those wonderful books! We should give them to the homeless! Or to the schools! Or ship them off to Africa, because those people over there would LOVE to read those books! Because sure, the local elementary schools want 20 copies of 50 Shades of Grey that have been manhandled by dozens of readers. And it wouldn't be at all cost-prohibitive to mail those beat-up old books to the poor people in Africa who don't want them in the first place. If YOU won't pay a quarter for it, believe me, nobody else wants it either. Why do people assume that the people they deem poor (like they assume every single person in Africa is) want their trash? Ugh. 

(I would say don't get me started on the subject of people who don't understand that libraries have to weed their collections, except I sort of already did. Oops.)

Whew, okay, we're an hour in, and it's slowed down a tiny bit. Clearly the local schools have projects coming up due, because there are loads of kids in here looking for books on various term-paper-ish topics. Not many helicopter parents doing the research for their kids, which is nice! I'm really just looking forward to going home, curling up with my knitting, and watching... no, not football, because I honestly could not possibly care less about the Super Bowl (which is damn near heresy, since I live near Boston and all. But nope, I still don't care. Even more heresy? I wouldn't be even remotely surprised if the Patriots did deflate the damn footballs to get an advantage, because I get the impression that they'll skirt the rules in whatever way they can get away with. But I think every other team probably does, too, and it's the least of the NFL's issues). No, I shall be watching some gloriously awful movies on the Syfy channel: Airplane vs. Volcano, starring Dean Cain and Robin Givens!! Asteroid vs. Earth, with Tia Cararre, whose name I probably spelled wrong! And Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, starring a bunch of people I've never heard of, and which I am certain that Syfy doesn't hope people confuse with Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I have a deep fondness for guilty-pleasure Syfy disaster movies, the cheesier the better, so tonight will be fun. And then tomorrow will be another snow day, since we're supposed to get another 8-12 inches or so on top of the two feet we got last week. And then I think I really shall just take to my bed until spring.

In the meantime, though, there's now an hour and a half left of the Sunday Librarianing. Wish me luck. Happy Superb Owl!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


So, this happened:

The snow was up over my knees in our driveway. It wasn't heavy -- it was too cold today for the snow to be very wet -- but still. I shoveled a path around the car while Jeff worked from home, and once my arms decided that no, in fact, they did not want to lift the shovel again, I gave up and went inside. Leaving the house is overrated, right?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Attack of the Library Vigilante, or How Not to be a Good Library Patron

Sunday library shifts are entirely different animals from weekday shifts, or even Saturdays. We're only open for three hours on Sundays, but with fewer staff members on duty than weekdays, so we're usually pretty busy. Today started off busier than usual -- the phone was ringing off the hook, and the local schools clearly have a project due soon, because the Helicopter Parents were out in force looking for books for their kids' projects. (Seriously, parents: make your kids do their own homework.) And, as usual, the Internet Folks flooded in to use the computers as soon as we opened the doors. I spend a lot of time on Sundays telling people how to make a reservation for a computer, since they fill up so fast. And there are always, always glitches with the reservation system, or someone will reserve the "next available" computer, and then see someone else leave a computer and another person sit down and start using it, and then they'll be all upset because that isn't fair, and... there's nothing I can do about that, really. Computer use on Sundays is crazy.

Aside from being busy today, though, everything was pretty much fine... until the Library Vigilante came along. She was well-dressed and coiffed, seemed pretty comfortable in the library even though she wasn't a familiar face to anyone, and appeared perfectly pleasant... until about 15 minutes before closing, when she approached the Reference desk to complain that a teenage boy on one of the computers was being rowdy. She said he was playing a video game, and kept cracking up laughing and shaking the table, and it was disruptive. So I told her I'd check it out, and talk to the kid if necessary, and thanked her for letting me know... and then she said "Oh, I already told him to knock it off, and he didn't listen, so before I left I tapped him on the shoulder, told him to take the goddamned earbuds out of his ears and told him 'you know, you're a real son-of-a-bitch!'" Then she smiled, looking very pleased with herself. I was aghast, but tried not to look shocked, and explained to her that, if there is an issue with another patron being disruptive, she should let a staff person know instead of trying to handle it herself, and that it was very inappropriate for her to call another patron names or to use profanity toward them.

Well. She was displeased! She insisted that "EVERYONE over there was yelling at that kid and it didn't do any good!" Which... yeah, I don't care. It's not appropriate to scold another patron, and it's especially not appropriate to swear at them. She argued that the kid would just ignore me, too -- I explained that we have procedures and policies in place for such occasions, and that it's our responsibility to enforce the library's standards of conduct. That's what we get paid for! She was having none of it, and threw up her hands and announced "Well, YOU just lost a customer!" before storming off. (Which was surprising, because again, up until that point the conversation had been fairly calm and pleasant. I mean, I was telling her that she'd done something inappropriate, but I don't think I was remotely argumentative or strident about it. If fact, I was pretty proud of how calm I was, since one of the things I've been trying to work on is keeping my cool during less-than-pleasant interactions at work.)

I noticed that she was headed toward the Circulation desk, so I followed her over to make sure her story didn't change on the walk over -- it's amazing how often that happens! So, the two staffers at Circulation (one of whom is actually my higher-up at Reference! She just fills in at Circulation on Sundays) had, essentially, the same conversation with her -- she again proclaimed that we'd lost a customer because I "gave precedence to that kid over me!!" Which, no, that's not remotely the point. The point is, don't take it upon yourself to try to correct another patron's behavior, because you never know what issues that patron might have. Or the patron behavior you think is wrong is actually permissible.

I suspect that was actually the case here -- I had been in and around the area where this woman claimed the noisy kid was off and on all afternoon, and hadn't noticed any issues. In fact, the only people in that area that I'd noticed being a little loud were an older couple who were working on something on a computer together -- they were talking, loudly enough that I noticed them, but not loudly enough to be a problem. And while I did go over and speak to the kid who was using the computer over there, I did so gently, and the older couple didn't react at all. I really think that, if the Library Vigilante had been telling the truth about the kid being so loud and crazy that EVERYONE in the Art Department was telling him off, the older couple would have reacted to my talking to the kid with a nod, or a smile, or something.

I feel pretty conflicted about having spoken to the kid, in fact -- again, I did so gently, and didn't accuse him of anything, I just told him that we'd had a complaint, and that sometimes it's hard to tell if you're being loud when you have headphones on, and to just be aware of that. And I really only did that because my colleague indicated that I should. I honestly don't think the kid was doing anything that rose to the level of a rule violation. He might have been laughing, but if he had been disruptively loud, I'd have heard him, since I was putting out magazines on the shelves about two feet from him (and again, only heard the older couple talking quietly) and had been in and out of the area helping patrons, etc. As for shaking the table, well, that table is a little wobbly. It's old. And really, I don't care if the kid was swinging from the rafters, don't try to handle it yourself! And for crying out loud, don't cuss at people! (She said she thought the kid was 16. I don't think he was that old; he was tall, close to six feet, but his face and demeanor read younger to me. I think he was maybe 13 or so.)

Honestly, after the second time she told us we'd lost a customer, I wanted to thank her! And on our way out after closing, we were wondering what her actual problem was: was it that the kid was playing a video game? Because they're allowed to do that. In fact, there were at least a half-dozen adults whiling away the afternoon playing online games on Facebook and such. As long as it's quiet, we don't care. Maybe it was that the kid was African-American? If so, then I feel worse about talking to the kid if he really wasn't misbehaving. Maybe it was just that he was a kid? Maybe she was just a nutjob?

What would you have done? Talk to the kid, or not? I still can't get over how pleased with herself the Library Vigilante was after calling a kid a son-of-a-bitch. Who does that?!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Things that do not help job searchers, part 1

One of the things I do a lot at work is help people who are trying to get their resumes together and apply for jobs. A lot of people aren't terribly computer-savvy, and maybe have been out of the workforce for a long time, or they're just starting out, or whatever, and it's stressful for them, so I spend a fair amount of time talking people through the basics of resume writing, cover letter writing, showing them how to apply for jobs online, etc. And one thing I've learned is that the people out there who teach classes on job-hunting and resume-writing give out a lot of really useless information that isn't helpful and just bogs their students down, and it drives me batshit, because job-hunting sucks enough all on its own! Don't add more stress to the process by telling them to worry about things that don't matter!

Today's example: a woman in her 20s, fresh out of one of the vocational schools, who was trying to get her resume and cover letter polished up to send out. She needed some help with the computer, just figuring out how to get the files from her email to the computer, then to save them to a Flash drive, so I walked her through that. Then she needed to tidy up her resume, and we hit a little snag when it came to the formatting: she was worried that the headings weren't fancy, and thought her resume looked bad because of it. I assured her that no, simpler is better, and as long as the different section of her resume were clear, she was good. Plain headings in the same font are fine, as long as you bold them. So, she finished the resume, and then needed to re-type her cover letter, and that's when we hit the major obstacle that she just couldn't get past.

The cover letter example she had from her school had been set up with a specific template -- just the basic business-letter style, but with weird spacing in the address sections and such. she wanted to know how to do that in Word... and really, I almost never get into messing with templates in Word with patrons, because Word sucks, is non-intuitive, and half the time the templates just completely screw up what you're trying to do. And frankly, when a patron has trouble just managing to get to their email, I'm not going to muddy the waters with advanced Word stuff. And you don't need a template, anyway! It doesn't have to be complicated! So I explained that she didn't need to worry about using a template, she could just type it up: She could put her name, and then Enter for a new line, then her address, etc.

"No, that's not right. Look at the space between the lines. It's too big, and that's wrong." So I went in and showed her that she was typing single-spaced, and it can't go any closer together, but her best bet was to just type up the letter and print a copy, so she could see what it would look like on paper, and it'd be fine. "No! My teacher said it has to look EXACTLY like this! If it's not exactly like this, they won't read it!" Which, no, that's not true! Employers do not care if the line spacing in your address is single-spaced or 1.15-spaced. Double-spaced would be weird, but they probably wouldn't give a shit about that either. They care that you spelled everything right, that your grammar is good, and that your letter sounds professional and clear. They aren't taking a ruler to the margins, and they aren't going to throw it away if you use the wrong font. (Well, okay, don't use, like, Papyrus. Or Comic Sans. They won't ding you if you use, say, Veranda instead of Times New Roman. Or vice versa.)

She would not be convinced. And since I have no earthly idea how her teacher set up the sample letter, I'm unable to exactly replicate it. I was only at work for a couple of hours today, and so she was still trying to wrangle it into looking the way she thought it absolutely had to on the screen when I left. I hope she figured it out! But mostly I wish they wouldn't teach this stuff. It doesn't matter! Hell, most of the time now you apply for jobs online anyway, and they have you copy and paste your resume and cover letter in, or upload them as attachments, and then all the fancy formatting gets stripped off on the employer's end. Telling people to worry about the tiny details doesn't help. It makes the already-daunting task of finding a job even scarier, because it adds the fear that you'll be rejected for some tiny mistake you didn't even know you made.