September 29, 2008
As I may have mentioned before, my job is a little odd, and full of interesting sights and smells. This week I’ve been working in Booking, where I kindly usher Weld’s fugitives of justice from the warm embrace of their arresting officer to the crushing reality of life with a criminal record, a frightening booking photo, and a bad night in a room cell 1. Cell 1 regularly houses 15 inmates and when my mad human Tetris skills are at work has been known to house 21-28. Stacking alleged offenders like cordwood has its disadvantages, most notably the smell – as one can only imagine – but this is not the smell that struck me the most this week.
As I was taking one of my breaks in the staff lounge this week, I was hit with a familiar and not unpleasant smell that one doesn’t normally associate with the men’s room at work. In my umpteenth trip, my brain had finally cataloged the smell and alerted my consciousness to what it was – the scent of fresh baked French bread. In some sort of Star Trekian vortex or Stargate-like worm hole, the men’s restroom in the officer’s lounge at the county lock-up smells like a Parisian patisserie (bakery for you simpletons out there).
In the past week I’ve booked in a grandmother, an active deputy sheriff (from another county), and almost got to book in a few nuns, which is a story for another day, but nothing I saw, read, observed, or experienced had the gross juxtaposition of a latrine mixed with the odor of a crusty and delicious conveyance of meat and cheese. Well, with that work done, I think I’ll go the bathroom and make myself a sandwich.
September 26, 2008
September 25, 2008
Yesterday afternoon, I had sometime to throw up a few mild ideas that were moderately well received. Reading it this afternoon (I had over five hundred posts to catch up on), I realized that only one conservative woman was posting her ideas, and she was being debated by about twelve more liberal women. It was interesting to read--I lurked, but chickened out of really getting involved. I was a bit shocked to read this vitriol from women who love to knit, but apparently I've picked up a habit not quite in keeping with my more conservative self.
Should I have spoken up? Shouldn't we all just agree to disagree? Is the election invading any of your "comfort" spots?
September 23, 2008
I have to admit to some election fatigue myself, but as November 4th creeps up on us, I realized I hadn't checked out the candidates' education policies. If you care about education as well, please check out each candidate's ideas before you make your choice. Keep in mind, though, that the total American mindset toward education may need a change. The Quite Cool educational policy would involve changing our entire way of schooling, and perhaps moving away from a liberal arts education for every student. Harry Potter didn't take English I-IV. Maybe we should only give students a liberal arts education through grade six, and then allow them to make a choice about their future education.
Anyway, I have many more thoughts, but I also have some grading to do, so without further ado:
Barack Obama's Education Policy
John McCain's Education Platform
September 22, 2008
September 20, 2008
A phrase one hears a lot in the blogosphere is "guilty pleasures." People regularly list various things they like under the heading of guilty pleasures. Why the guilt, I wonder? I suspect it's because of one's self image. People develop an attitude and perspective, and when they like something outside of that image, they feel shame and guilt.
Life's too short for guilty pleasures. I think if you like something, you should enjoy liking it. Any guilt or shame is built on what other people think of you, and that shouldn't be a concern. If a person really likes the new New Kids On the Block singles, they should just enjoy the music. No shame or guilt at all.
September 19, 2008
September 18, 2008
So, it was with great excitement that I found some humor in the election today: some wonderful person has created the Sarah Palin baby name generator. You see, Sarah's kids are named Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. Not your normal, everyday names. Wonder what your name might have been had your parents had Sarah's creative gift? Head over, and check out your name.
If you do go, please comment with your name--I want to see what other people get! Thanks much, Crutch Camp Palin
September 17, 2008
So, I have a test coming up. We've just finished The Most Dangerous Game, a thrilling short story by Richard Connell, and we're finally ready to test. Just a short test--it was a short story--so I'm cheating. I'm not carefully writing my own perfect test. I'm heading down to the copy room to run off the book test.
Most teachers don't have any qualms about this, but I do. Sometimes the materials we get that go with our textbooks are loads of help, but about 89% of the time, they are rubbish. The exact sort of rubbish, I imagine, that the testing folks want our kids to write. I like to create my own materials, not just blindly copy what the good textbook folks want me to.
But this time, I'm copying. I've been so stressed and overwhelmed that all I want to do is run off a few copies and relax. I don't have the time amidst all my other duties to write a focused and challenging test. (You might be noting that I have found time to blog.) So, here I go, off to the copier. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Do you have any fond test memories? I miss blue books, and wish I could use that with my Honors kids. Do they still use blue books in college? Sigh. Probably not. It's probably all digital.
September 16, 2008
September 15, 2008
When I first moved to Greeley, there were no Starbucks places. There was a delightful bagel shop that served great coffee. Now, there are (pause while I add them up) at least eight Starbucks locations in Greeley, CO.
I can't lie, I've had a Starbucks on occasion. My favorite coffee place in town, though, was Dazbog, where I could enjoy a delicious sugar-free peanut butter latte. Mama Cool loved to get a cinnamon-coconut latte when she visited. I had a long-running Bible study that always met there. Dazbog closed this summer.
My knitting group has been meeting at Red Roasters, a locally owned coffee shop, that seemed to have a good crowd and a lot of buzz. I just heard from a fellow knitter that it closed down. Where do we meet now, we wonder? We've considered a lot of local places, but not a Starbucks.
Most mornings, my car pool stops for coffee at the Human Bean, a great, friendly drive-thru shop, with no place to stop in and gab while sipping an addictive Cafe Mocha.
So, today, I ask for a moment of Silence for all the Coolest coffee shops in Greeley, slowly consumed by a monster of, dare I say it, Moby Dick proportions.
September 12, 2008
To be honest, I've voted the bottom of the ticket twice in my limited presidential voting career--I was more excited about having a VP from Wyoming (Dick Cheney) than I was about George W. Bush. When you're the smallest state (population-wise), it's pretty cool to have the VP hail from your state. I imagine some Alaskans will understand where I 'm coming from at this point. Thinking about this led me to an interesting observation--Republicans, in the last few elections, have chosen VP candidates from states with very few electoral votes to offer, states that typically don't figure in D.C. political power polls.
So, I'm offering a few Alaska/Wyoming parallels this morning:
Population: WY 515,004 (#50)
AK 670,053 (#47)
Size: WY 97,809 square miles (#10)
AK 591,004 square miles (#1)
Electoral Votes: WY 3
Citizens w/College Degrees: WY 22%
Registered Democrats: WY 59,000
AK 53,000 These are rough numbers, data difficult to find.
Top Google News Story: WY Fallen Wyoming serviceman honored in Iraq
AK Palin and Gibson re-enact 'High Noon' in Alaska
I could have added a lot more, but I think we begin to see a pattern--small states in population, large in size, with similar numbers across the board--and I have to admit, I think it's pretty cool that the Republicans will choose candidates from our "not nationally important" states.
September 11, 2008
Life is good. Has anything simple filled you with joy and accomplishment recently? I hope so.
September 09, 2008
September 08, 2008
"We'll buy more yarn," he said. When I protested that this was special, he suggested I just wait until next year's Wool Market. I stared blankly. Plainly, he does not know the inherent stubbornness of the women in my family. So, nine hours of carefully picking out knots, threading the growing balls of yarn through loops, and wailing at the sheer mangled tangles, I have two nicely wound balls and a scarf started. Four of those hours involved me staying up past midnight on a Friday, picking trance like through the knots.
There's a metaphor in all this--perhaps that I won't settle for a tangled life, perhaps that I am simply too stubborn. I could make a metaphor about Jesus gently picking through the knots in our lives to leave us clean and smooth. Maybe I could focus on the irony of untangling yarn only to carefully tangle it back up through the process of knitting.
An ancient form of meditation involved labyrinths, and this yarn became to me a maze, a way of breaking down all worries and struggles into following a single thread through each loop and knot.
Hmm--this might be a bit too philosophical, but I had to get something more than balls of yarn out of my weekend.
September 06, 2008
Why do I bring this up? One of the attacks on Sarah Palin has been that she hasn't travelled enough, that she first got her passport and left the U.S. in 2007, to visit the Alaskan National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. So what? Not many of us have the resources and time to travel the world. Besides, she lived in Alaska, a place most people have pretty high on their travel lists. I think the media needs to wake up a bit--for Americans, travel has always been a bit of an elite proposition. We live in a big, fantastic country, but it's all one country. A person could visit all fifty states, an impressive feat, and apparently not have travelled enough. Perhaps this criticism stings because I haven't travelled nearly enough in my life. My chances aren't very high to travel around the world any more, unless Mr. Cool finally wins the lottery, and I would hate to think that if my latent political ambitions spring forth, I could be derided for not travelling enough.
Well, enough Election 2008 ranting for today. Check out this nice piece in Newsweek from a liberal woman who still likes Sarah Palin.
September 04, 2008
I've just finished my Queen Bee hat, and my sense of accomplishment is pretty big. I first saw this pattern a year ago, when I was still teaching myself to knit, and I wanted to make it. I tried even, with cheaper wool, but I had no idea what I was doing, and it has since been frogged. This time, I got it right.
Pattern: The Buzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Yarn: Goldenrod Lamb's Pride Worsted, from the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, NE
Buttons: lovely wooden bees from My Sister Knits in Ft. Collins
Modifications: I shortened it up a bit, so the top isn't quite as bee-hivey. It's a bit tricky to photograph, but if you ever see it in person, it looks like a beehive!
A close-up of the bee buttons--I saw the buttons at My Sister Knits and instantly thought of this hat. I then rushed around the store looking for the perfect golden honey yarn, and found this. It was wonderful to work with, and I am very happy with this hat. It's a nice, loose, cover the curls hat. Where's that first freeze?
September 03, 2008
My school is desperately trying to improve, with new schedules, new teacher demands, new rules and regulations--and I am exhausted every day. I simply do not have the energy to do much more than come home and read or knit.
And I have been reading--Mama Cool also gifted me with Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet, one of her Crosswicks journals, full of L'Engle insight; for my knitting anniversary I purchased a historical tale of Knitting in America, and I've been learning just what and how they knit in the past. The incredibly tiny gauge and needles and L'Engle's wisdom and honesty are blowing my mind.
And I have been knitting--I've finished my Queen Bee hat, so it's just waiting for buttons; I'm knitting in circles on my plain socks, and I tried to wind up my Plain & Fancy yarn for a lovely scarf last night, but tangles ensued.
So, I'll leave you with a Star Wars feminist thought: as I watched A New Hope last night (Han Shot First!), I realized that to Obi-Wan and Yoda, Leia was more important. Think about it--she was much more protected, having been adopted, sent to a completely foreign to Darth planet, and having no name connection to him. Meanwhile, Luke's last name was Skywalker, and he was hanging around Tatooine with Darth's step-brother. Maybe this is interesting, or maybe when watching a movie for the billionth time you lose all sense of reality. (This also happens to me when I read Romeo and Juliet.)
So, can America handle a regular gal as VP? Can you be a conservative and a feminist at the same time? Have you ever read and loved a L'Engle book? Is Leia more important to the rebellion?
September 02, 2008
September 01, 2008
Approximately one year ago, I took a gift of yarn and needles from Sista Cool, a book called Knitting for Dummies and started knitting. That above is my very first bit of knitted fabric. There are errors, holes, the size changes, the cast on is wonky, the cast off quite neat, and the experience of creation a mix of pleasure and pain. As I look back on my life, I realize that knitting is just about the only thing I've ever taught myself. My parents taught me to drive, my mother to bake, cook, and clean, Mrs. Seifert taught me the art of the piano, and UNC, on some level, taught me to teach.
I remember strongly the experience of teaching myself--holding the needles awkwardly, bending over the open book while sitting cross-legged on my bed--getting more and more frustrated while staring at the directions and pictures. I sought more help--printing off an online tutorial and purchasing Debbie Stoller's Stitch & Bitch: A Knitter's Handbook. This last book turned the tide--suddenly, the knit stitch made sense, and I was off.
I've joked in the months since that knitting saved my life, which is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Knitting has led to me to my own form of creation, a way to keep my hands moving, something to write about, research, and learn. Knitting has also led me to new friends and a very pleasurable new ritual--meeting every Saturday morning to drink coffee and knit in fellowship. Even Mr. Cool is happy and impressed that I've stuck with this--and it's fun to have a hobby that comes near in cost to his shooting and carpentry.
So, I think I'll consider this my one-year anniversary with knitting. Since the one-year anniversary is paper, I think I'll buy a new knitting book to celebrate.