Monday, January 28, 2013

My fascinating new afghan and bookcase

Sometimes I try to craft an interesting post title, but other times, I just want to warn people how mundane it will be.  This is one of the latter.

Larry needed a bookcase so I looked at the beat-up white cubes I was using and decided I needed one too.  The new ones came in pieces and were assembled with one screwdriver and much swearing.

There's no discernible rhyme or reason as to what's on it.  This is my dumping ground for books I look at or read over and over because I love where they take me, and some that I want to read -- unread books are EVERYwhere in this house, so that's just a selection -- and some research that's really not underway yet, and the growing Complete Peanuts collection because it outgrew its previous shelf. If you see a classic in this group, it's probably one I have NOT read, with the exception of Robinson Crusoe which I pick up for serenity.

Those white cube-shelves have had a thousand uses over the years since around 1998.  They're getting rather beat but are still useful for utilitarian purposes.  Maybe a closet.  Not sure yet. 

Dismantling the cubes provided Downyflake with a Shelf Cat opportunity.

The striped afghan is the new work-in-progress.  When I finished the previous afghan, my father dropped several hints that he wanted one.  This one is for him and is proceeding as fast as I can manage.  It's smaller, and it's not going to need a whole secondary project of sewing it together, and there is no pattern.  No plan.  Nothing.  I pick up whatever shade of blue looks like it should be next.  So what you see is only (I amaze myself!) 2 weeks' work and I hope to have it done in 6-8 weeks.

And that's the update!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We'll call it a Learning Experience

The First Afghan is finished.  It's the 4th one I ever attempted, but the first one I ever completed; in fact, it's the first one that ever got past 6 inches, before I abandoned them.

And it is beyond ridiculous.  Here I've spread it across a double bed so you can see that it's the Babe The Blue Ox of Afghans.

I know yall won't think it's stupid-looking, and if I had intended it be be as big as a DOUBLE bedspread, then that would be cool.  But I didn't.  I intended it to be about 5x7 feet.  But it somehow grew to double-bed size.  It took forever.  And never, ever again will I let that happen.  I'm also not entirely pleased with the pattern, but it's OK. I'd like to have inserted a couple more green squares and broken up that big dull medium blue expanse, but it's pretty nice, plus it taught me some things.

Meanwhile, here's a cool thing.  My grandmother's sewing cabinet, which was later my mother's sewing cabinet (even sewing-averse people have to put on a button or something at times) is over at Dad's/Mom's house, and in it I just discovered my great grandmother's crochet hook.

I'm making an assumption that it was hers, since my grandmother did knit and do needlepoint, but I'm not aware that she ever crocheted.  Either way, it belonged to one of them.

Back home in my own venerable junk, I also turned up a bundle of my own crochet hooks from circa 1970.  One of them, a "size 00" , is almost a duplicate of Gran-or-Granny's.

But not quite.  And I will never get the two mixed up because thanks to inflation -- something I'll probably never again have occasion to say -- they are clearly from different decades:

If you can't read the prices, the photo should enlarge enough for you to see them if you click and "view photo."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I. Will. Not. Be. Moved.

You missed the beginning, because I couldn't get the phone camera ready.

This is a little cat, half kitten, not over 5 months old, tops.

He and a grownup cat were at the side of the road examining that puddle.  Grown cat saw a large vehicle coming and sensibly dashed away.

Half-kitten sauntered to the center of the road, sat and faced the car down.

We played Chicken. He won. Carefully, we circled around him and drove on.

It's hilarious but it's not, in that many drivers would run him over. Is he too young to know danger, or is he the early landing of the Kzinti?

I dunno.  If he survives to adulthood, I bet he'll be a force to contend with.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trust but verify

Within one day, the issue of media reports and their trustworthiness came up twice for me, in 2 different venues.

Months ago, Dann Todd -- libertarian/conservative blogger, linked for you over on the sidebar in my list of good reading -- posted a blog entry about the filmmaker whose film trailer was at the time being blamed for the Benghazi attack.  Dann was referring us to another source, and I had some serious criticism of that source.  OK, I did also rake Dann over the coals for believing it....

A couple days back he posted a followup responding to some of my objections.  I'll let you read it for yourself, his original September post, with my critical comment, and the followup post.  They cover both our points, no need to go over it again, but Dann's willingness to take second looks and respond thoughtfully is engaged in by too few people and should be admired all the more for that.

He mentions the problem of responding to a current news story quickly, instead of letting response simmer for awhile.  It is difficult to juggle that.

Journalism has never been infallible, nor has it claimed to be, and it's always been important to take time with a piece and cast a critical eye on its points.  Nowadays with some bloggers being granted pro-journalist status by their massive readerships, it's even more important.

They can be full of it, liberal and conservative alike.  The instant "wisdom" of many liberal rant-ers after the Trayvon Martin shooting, and the Newtown shooting, was often jawdroppingly ghastly.  I'm not letting conservatives off the hook.  Ill-considered reactions are more about lack of professional training than about political leanings.  It takes education and experience to look at one's raw feeling and evaluate whether it has basis or logic, or is oversimple.

Hard to keep a blog timely, keep response heartfelt and not over-edited into blandness, without reacting early, while data is still coming in. If you're not a reader of Comic Strip of the Day, you should be because it often covers editorial cartoons and the issues they present, and Mike Peterson is a pro journalist and a fast sorter of wheat from chaff.

Dann also does that point-by-point unpacking in the followup entry, and casts his critical eye on the claim by the filmmaker's son that his father isn't tech savvy.  The no-computers terms of the dad's probation for bank fraud make that suspect.

Sometimes, doing that critical evaluation is absolutely all that I, as the reader, have to go on.

I speak of the other issue I had, a Facebook post I'd responded to the afternoon before.

There's a internet story that's been circulating for nearly a decade - a pastor named Mathes posted a blog entry almost 10 years ago, about an experience he claims he had.  In his account, he attended a state prison volunteer-training program conducted to discuss the three major religions and help volunteers understand inmates' various beliefs.

Mathes says that after the Muslim Imam spoke, he had some questions for that Imam about the instruction in the Koran to kill infidels.  In Mathes' account, the Imam sheepishly admits that, yes, they are called to kill Christians and others who do not convert.

That is assuredly one radical interpretation, but not the mainstream one. 

Mathes then answers the Imam, compares that concept of Allah to the God of love presented in the narrative of Christ, and is just made of win.

Many old classmates from my high school have friended me on FB, and show they've gone in a hard-right direction.  One posted this story, with a final statement that we should all "For  Christ's sake, pass it on!" because Islam was growing and would soon be a US voting majority (?) and elect a Muslim president.

Here is the assessment of Mathes' account. I tried to do my usual polite thing, but i expressed skepticism and posted a link to snopes in my comment on my old classmate's post.

The whole thing stayed very civil, but another commenter directed his comment to me, pointing out that each source -- the original account by Mathes and the snopes debunking -- was only a source. He concluded his comment with:  " 'Trust but verify' - isn't that what Reagan said?"

I acknowledged that, because it's true.

Snopes is a source;
the prison officials who say it didn't happen the way Mathes claimed are a source;
Mathes, who was there, is a source.

That leaves only us, and our ability to think critically.  So, no, I can't say that i take snopes as infallible. To their credit, snopes calls the reliability of the account "mixed," because Mathes did write it and DOES declare it accurate, while others who were also present differ.

I disbelieve the Mathes story because it sounds absurd.

That's what decided me.  It made no sense.  The program directors in a prison are unlikely to choose a radical jihadist Imam as their source for Islam info for a program.  Any presenter would be thoroughly vetted.

But sure, a radical could work hard to hide his radicalism and slip through.

Only, we're then asked to believe that he'd not only get through the vetting process, but that he'd come right on out with Kill The Infidel, there.  There, in a panel discussion, in a prison manned by state law enforcement types.  Not in whispered private discussion with somebody after the presentation, but in the panel.

I mean, that would be great.  The newly created Department of Homeland Security would be going through that Imam's phone records, financials, known associates, and bagged trash, as fast as a newly-created department could pull it together, but it's highly doubtful to me that he'd say this stuff even if he believed it, and it's even more doubtful that in 2003, after 9/11 and the same year that the Iraq War started, he'd be so unprepared to hide radicalism as to be that caught off guard by a question that was not even a trick question.

Between the implausibility of the Imam's response, and the accounts of prison officials who say that not only was there no Imam present (a Muslim inmate gave the Muslim presentation), but that the question did not come up  ... the 2 things together leave little room other than to call the pastor an intentional liar.

A lot of people default to trust in a minister.  Would a clergyman have such weak faith in Christianity's ability to prevail on truth alone, that he'd make up stories?  Or is it ego, a need to be a David-mops-the-floor-with-Goliath hero in the eyes of his readers?

If it did not happen as he claims -- and I do not claim it is objectively proven (that would need unedited one-take video or something) -- he both demonstrates a lack of faith in the Christian message, and he violates the trust --or what's left of it-- that people have in him and in the ministry.

Finally, he asks us to believe that the Imam was sheepish and shamed and head-bowed.  Do ardent Christians really need to believe a radical jihadist Imam would melt in the face of such questions like the drenched Wicked Witch??  For serious?

Come ON.  Logic.  Critical thinking.  Hello?

We do need to verify, but in too many cases, we can't do it.  We have to trust.

If varied, and even opposite accounts of an event do not reveal an obvious "no way" factor like this, it's a lot harder to sort them out.  This is why these journalists, writers and bloggers hold a sacred trust.

Sacred.  There are things we can sort with our mental abilities, but many we can't.

I dunno about Reagan's admired quote, because no media seems to be truth-driven anymore.  I
might prefer Agent Mulder: "Trust no one."


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Scenes from a Christmas

Sleep is very important. Always make sure you get enough sleep.

Artist daughter painted me this awesome homage to Lucy Van Pelt!

It will live in the Reading Corner.

That basket you see, currently collecting crocheted squares, is kind of a gift to myself.  They're made by a rural artisans in Bangladesh and sold by SERRV - click here to buy these or many other awesome Fair Trade crafts by rural farmers and artisans around the world.  You buy them in a bundle of three, and I gave 2 as gifts and kept this one.  The nifty M&Ms stress relief ball was a Christmas gift from my dad.

When in doubt, sleep.

The annual Scooter Calendar is always a cherished gift. The 2013 is its fourth edition.

Oh, and the dining table collapsed.

Fortunately Christmas dinner was over. It's done this several times, about once every 15-20 years. The repair guy picked it up yesterday.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!