Week Thirty-Four: Disconnected

Over the past two weeks, my kids and I started to notice that our Internet connection was slowing down. Not everything was affected equally, but YouTube videos took an insane amount of time to load, and we gradually stopped trying to watch them. (Since a majority of The Teen’s waking hours are spent watching videos of other people playing Minecraft, this was a big deal for him.)

One night a friend sent me a YouTube link on Facebook and was saddened when I reported that, in essence, life was too short to permit its viewing. He then sent me a link to a speed-test site, which revealed that while my upload speeds were in the common parlance “slow,” download speeds were better described as “glacial.”

Image-001-735206

Maybe we can blame this on Scrat, too.

Now, water always wins, and glacial actions are powerful over time, but this is OUR INTERNET we were talking about, and we needed to see our STUFF. I kept promising myself I’d turn the router off before I went to bed some night and turn it on again in the morning, and everything would be fine. But I kept forgetting. By the time I woke up each morning, the kids were already at the computer and would not be prised off.

So, Sunday night after all the kidlets were in bed and presumably sleeping, I called our Internet provider. I figured it was a simple matter of walking through a modem reset, usually accomplished by following the instructions dictated by an automated voice, and then we’d be back to normal. However, to one of the simple questions I gave an answer that punted me to an Actual Person.

Uh-oh.

The phone tech, in the nicest possible American Southern drawl, asked me to connect a laptop (do you have a laptop? Baby do I have laptops!) directly to the cable modem, bypassing the router. She started running speed tests on her end while I started my laptop, shut it down, and started it again when I was asked to (oops). After a few minutes of my waiting for the aged iBook to launch Firefox (during which time I completely forgot that I simply can’t access the home wireless network while I’m using the landline, which I was [oops]), I heard her say, “Oh. Y’all don’t have to try to get the Internet. Ah can see a BIG problem from here. We’ll send a technician to your house as soon as possible.”

Good luck, Fred.

Good luck, Fred.

To her, “as soon as possible” means Tuesday morning between 8 and 10am.

I thanked her, hung up, and put everything back to the way it had been before… or I at least tried. I reset everything, and ran diagnostics twice, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.

Uh-oh.

If my home wireless network can’t connect to the Internet, my Kindle and my smartphone are going to have serious problems. Remember, I live on a former dairy farm in the middle of Seriouslyrural, Wisconsin. We do not so much have, how are you saying, The Signal.

I can probably make a phone call if I go outside and sit in the car. But until Tuesday morning, I can’t do Facebook. The Teen can’t watch walkthrough videos. The younger three can’t go online to create their own video games on the new gamebuilder site they just got accounts on. I can’t report half my email as spam. I can’t go on WebMD to find out that tweak in my left shoulder is some kind of ligament tumor. I can’t go to allrecipes.com and plug in the amounts of fresh peaches, pears, and plums I have on the kitchen table and find recipes to use them up ASAP. I can’t search unlv.edu to see if that’s where my mathematician-friend Craig will be teaching this fall. I can’t log on to Amazon.com and one-click order that  Cuisinart ice cream maker with which I can start trying out all those Jeni’s ice cream recipes.

We are DISCONNECTED.

I will make it clear that we are not Amish. We do have iTunes, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. And we do have the Wii, the brand-new-to-us GameCube, the PS2, the PS1, and the Sega Genesis. We have the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire, the old Kindles, the GameBoys, and the DS units. We have cable television and dozens of DVDs.

amishbikers

Frankly, I’m going to spend my disconnected time in the kitchen. (I do have those peaches, plums, and pears to make something of before the fruit flies consume us all.) When I’m not in the kitchen, I have knitting to work on, and a TARDIS bookcase to paint up in primer. My children may be the anti-Amish, but I do have my Mennonite tendencies on which to fall back in times of crisis such as these.

But the children! Think of the children! Will they remember how to ride their bicycles? How to keep journals? How to draw and paint? How to help Mom make chocolate–peanut butter fudge, poach pears, and make homemade pizza? How to read books? How to play in the park? How to read their library books before they’re due?

Right now, very early Monday morning, that amber light is still flashing on the AirPort, and I’m…concerned.

Blink on, blink off.

Blink on, blink off.

In the words of Peter Gabriel, “Dear god…what have I done?”

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Published in: on August 22, 2013 at 10:00 am  Comments (3)  

Week Seventeen: Needs More Macintosh

I’m not a person who tends to throw things out. (Michael, I can hear you laughing from all the way over here. Please pick yourself off the floor. You’re excused.) But lately I have had the need and the opportunity to go through my possessions and decide what truly needs to stay and what can go on its merry way to the trash bin (broken toys), the recycling pile (six-year-old shredded utility bills), or a new happy home (so long, dear Olympia manual typewriter!).

Now my surroundings are becoming more of a reflection of all my interests, and I’ve decided to enhance one of those interests with a conscious effort towards a minor-league collection of Macintoshes.

In 1988 I bought (with the assistance of my then-future-mother-in-law’s signature on the Apple Credit application) a Macintosh SE. It was a thing of glory that came with System 6.0.7, and I souped it up as much as I could. It had a whole 1 megabyte of RAM. Instead of a standard Apple 20 megabyte hard drive, it had a 45 megabyte hard drive shoehorned in there. Instead of the standard keyboard, I bought a DataDesk extended keyboard that had the same layout as the IBM PC with which everyone was familiar. (My roommate, a paper science and engineering major, especially liked this whenever she needed to borrow it to write up a report.) I had planned to buy an optical mouse (it worked via a special reflective mouse pad), but the store was out of those when I went shopping, so I had the standard mouse. And I bought the first of many Hewlett-Packard printers to go with it, a DeskJet whose model number I don’t remember. Somewhere along the line I picked up a 1200 baud modem, and I was good to go. No, there was no Internet yet, not that I knew how to get to — but there were university bulletin boards where we hacked into each others’ secret forums, moderated discussion groups of all flavors, and generally had fun outgeeking each other.

Somebody else’s Datadesk keyboard.

Several Macs later, one stupid day I sold that SE back to a computer store. I don’t know what brought me to that day, why I thought it was a good idea for even a second, or even how much money I made on the deal. It couldn’t have been much at all. But I must have been convinced that since I couldn’t upgrade it and keep it current, it wasn’t worth keeping around. WHAT was I thinking? I should have kept it. It was a fine computer and I had many good memories associated with it.

Since then I’ve hung on to each old Macintosh (my mother once chided me, saying there was no such thing as an “old” computer), each tired printer, each set of power cords and A/V cables, every mouse. Michael once teased me (don’t think I can’t HEAR you back there. I said you were EXCUSED) that I had a “Macseum” in the making. And now that I have cleared a little bit of space, I’m starting to develop that Mac Museum concept a bit. Thoughtfully this time.

Last weekend I was killing time by trolling eBay in the “vintage computers” category. The existence of this category on eBay is what makes it an extremely good thing that I can never remember my eBay account name and password, or I would have already purchased a somewhat random nameplate from a UNIVAC. (Just $7.50! It’s a piece of history!)

The UNIVAC operator console, with operator Joneal Williams-Daw .

Thinking locally, in large measure because of the shipping charges needed to make sure a $75 computer could make it to me all the way from Texas, or Florida, or [gulp] California, I turned to Craigslist and found such a deal. Within an hour’s drive was a Macintosh Plus that needed a new home. It worked, and it came with all the parts, plus software (on 3.5-inch diskette) and manuals. And… the seller would throw in a Macintosh Performa 6300 as a bonus. It worked too, and also came with software (on CD-ROM) and manuals.

I went with my teenage son to pick it up, and we were both thrilled. I can’t quite put words to why he was so excited to ride along with his mother to go pick up a couple of old computers, but for me it was a rediscovery of my original love for the Macintosh. Macs were not the first computers I had ever used or owned, but they were the first ones that worked intuitively for me, and the first ones that seemed to have personalities. I wrote on them, tried to teach composition on them, and eventually learned to fix them.

I set up the new computers and took a look around. In one room I had three Macs. In other I had seven. And upstairs…. four iMacs, donated by a friend? I had lost count. They were buried in the closet of a room shared by two very untidy boys, and I’d have to step on quite a few Legos to verify that number. Better keep it vague.

Mind you, other folks have significantly more money, time, and space invested in their Macintosh collections than I ever will. I have seen pictures of racks and racks full of computers that would give you chills. Full garages. Full basements. I’m personally hoping to have working Macs that serve as 90 percent décor, 10 percent “It’s time to play Duck Hunt!” And some of the models on my to-find list are rare enough that I wouldn’t insist they be anything better than a clean doorstop. That includes the original 128K Mac, as well as items like the Mac XL, the Lisa, and the Macintosh Portable, a 16-pound shoulder-stretcher from 1987. They would just be cool to have.

The Mac XL, or “Hackintosh” — Lisa’s body and the Mac’s brains.

And look at this SE — a one-of-eight prototype in a clear plastic case, designed for airflow studies!

While I was researching the technical specifications on the new Macs I’d brought home, I noticed a value called the “Gestalt ID.” This is a whole-number ID given to each distinct release of Macintosh. The original 128K Macintosh has a Gestalt ID = 1. My new old Mac Plus has a Gestalt ID = 4. The Performa 6300 has a Gestalt ID = 42. In real life, it was used to call certain sets of programming functions. For my purposes, it’s like a checklist that writes itself. And no, I don’t feel a need to collect them all. But a showcase of good examples of each of the early Compact Macs would be something to see. I might even sell off some of the mid-range Macs to fund the quest for the early survivors.

So Friday afternoon, I have a date. A date to drive to Monona and purchase a Macintosh SE FDHD. Three down, ten to go.

The first Mac to offer the 1.44 megabyte “SuperDrive.”

Published in: on April 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Week Six: Degrees of separation

I’m enjoying a more contemplative day today as the snow gently falls on the pines and the pastures. Having ignored the urgings of the weather service to heed instructions for French Toast Alert Level Orange, I’ve done my driving for the day without adding to my stores of milk, bread, or eggs. Quiet music plays from the TV’s music channel. Knitting is being accomplished; reading, contemplated.

Not taken from my house, but it might as well be.

As I was driving back from “town” this morning I was thinking about how people keep saying that the internet has allowed people to opt out of personal interactions, that we are not learning how to effectively interact with people face to face. I wonder about that. If you know me, you probably know I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I check in several times a day, sometimes for hours at a time. I post, comment, share, like, friend, and play a popular game using letter tiles.

Through Facebook I have been able to connect with interesting people, stay in touch with relatives, and reconnect with more distant souls. My Facebook friends range from my first friend (born two days before me to the family two houses down the street) to people on the other side of the planet, sometimes cyberfriends of cyberfriends. I can peek over the shoulders of my twin third-cousins as they work their way through medical school. I can look at the first photos of the first grandchild born to someone in my high school graduating class. I can witness the silly exchanges between two best friends, or between partners. I can see a list of the songs my sister-in-law is listening to on Internet radio, and with a click of the mouse I can hear them, too. These are the kinds of events I wouldn’t ordinarily witness. They are a view into ordinary life that a class reunion, a family reunion, or even a phone call or a letter doesn’t have a way to truly include.

Through Facebook I’ve been allowed to participate in more joy, anxiety, humor, pain, happiness, and sorrow than I thought my heart would have room for. Babies are born and celebrated, and babies die and are grieved. Kids say the darnedest things. Students study, party, win, lose, and goof around. Pets get sick. Friends make plans, issue invitations, meet up, and share the photos afterwards. Grandparents fall down. People have surgery. Prayers, positive thoughts, and (((hugs))) fly back and forth like electromagnetic waves. Funny jokes and silly pictures are circulated. People are poked. A classmate waits in vigil for her comatose sister to open her eyes and rejoin the world, and her classmates wait invisibly with her.

This is more connection, not less. These are the kinds of shared events that used to only happen within a family. Because of Facebook, our families have grown if we have allowed them to. And not only have I discovered things about my friends and my family — I’ve discovered more about myself. I could compare my accomplishments with those of others and be depressed, yes; I can also encounter unsolicited viewpoints that make me stop, think, reconsider, reaffirm, adapt, change, and grow.

I’m not indulging in these musings just to distract you from the paucity of my knitterly and academic accomplishments in the last week. While the variable weather and the resultant slick (and sometimes invisible) roadways have kept me from getting to campus to work on my math, I am 29 rows (1,218 stitches) away from finishing the dropped-stitch scarf. I have a shawl project all set to go that a real-life, in-person kind of friend is making at the same time. I’ve also initiated a Valentine’s Day cyberspace knit-along event involving a whole batch of friends I’ve never met in person. And I’m making bits of progress on my longer-term knitting projects as well.

This was not a stated goal, but I’ve gotten all caught up with both “Downton Abbey” and “Castle,” and I’m starting on “Top Chef.” Ten more episodes to go on that one. If I have a marathon I might be able to finish in time for the live finale, but I’m not sure. I also have a stack of interesting books I’m trying to make time for. I miss reading.

Two-point-nine of Ten

I’m still on track with Mitten Madness…. just need to finish a thumb at some point (later), and cast on for a mate (sooner).

What do you think, add the pawprints with duplicate stitch (which I’ve never done before) or a fabric marker?

The red yarn is Bernat Sox yarn, an acrylic/nylon blend with no wool at all. I got two balls of it for 99 cents each a couple of years ago and have been waiting to figure out what they wanted to be. I’m a little disappointed that it’s not wool, but it is machine washable and dryable.

In other news, it’s been terribly hot and humid lately. Only today has there been the arrival of some random thunderstorms that break things up a little bit. The main thing the rain is accomplishing is not allowing anybody to mow their lawns with any frequency. By the time the grass is dry again, we might be able to cut it for some very nice hay bales.

I’ve been working out again — found a new exercise plan which seems eminently sensible. I’m on the third week of the first six weeks and so far I’m losing weight, fitting into my clothes better, and feeling stronger and with more stamina. I’m trying to take walks for part of the cardio I need to do, and recently lengthened my standard walk from 2.8 miles to 3.6 miles. (I use www.mapmyride.com for this; check it out.) If I finish the six weeks well, I might feel brave enough to share the name of it. It’s nothing kooky like an all-cotton-candy diet; I just don’t want to jinx myself.

I’m also enrolled in an online course on Records Management, as a precursor to doing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences. Not only is it a confusing course, I’ve been offline for part of it, and unable to access some of the reading materials for a larger part of it. Catching up is going to be tricky. I did acquire a brand new PC laptop to help out with this overall process, but right now that’s like trying to learn French on top of everything else. (Can I just say that Windows SUCKS and Steve Jobs was right? Ah, I feel better now.) I’m trying to do a reboot to my inner geek so all this can smooth itself out.

Whew! Time to make dinner for the two little boys (the other kids are out of state at the moment; long story) and cast on for Jack Mitten Two so I don’t lose my knitting mojo. I can do both thumbs in the same session.

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm  Comments (1)  

I can’t believe I’m going….

So, like, there’s like, this spinning retreat, like, starting tomorrow — and I get to go!

Well, not to the whole thing, but something like two-thirds of it plus a little slice of Friday. It’s the Judith MacKenzie McCuin-led retreat held through Susan’s Fiber Shop. Getting there has been an interesting journey, what with date changes and roommate arrangements and hotel reservations — but it starts tomorrow.

On the one hand, the original plan was going to be *awesome* with all the things that a friend and I had schemed up. Nothing can replace the weekend that I had, briefly, in my imagination. But this one should be pretty good too, even though I’ll miss everything that happens in the daytime Friday session.

The best part of getting ready for it (have I packed a single thing? NO) has been clearing the spinning equipment so I can start fresh this weekend with spinning every freaking thing in my stash, with intelligence and intention. This week I made two new Wookie skeins totaling almost 200 yards of 2-ply, I updated my spinning records as much as I could without Actual Research, and I made little labels for the jars I keep my handspun in.

(No, I haven’t knitted a single stitch on any of my handspun. There are many reasons for this. But I do have a project in mind for my Wookie-wool once it’s all spun up. Right now I have about 25 percent of what I need. Wait and see….maybe by 2011.)

So. I emptied my bobbins, I reglued most of my bobbins, I printed out directions to the “field trip” portion of Friday…. 

Yup. Going to yarn camp, and I couldn’t be happier.

Wait till the kids find out.

Knitwise I’ve been a bit of a slug. I started working on the second Retro Rib Sock again, figuring if I did one pattern repeat a day I would eventually finish the sock and could get on with my life. That plan worked about as well as most of my plans do, but this time I’m going to climb right back on the wagon and keep trying to work it.

I got caught up on Logan’s Blanket tonight, too. It’s pretty easy to work twelve rows on that blanket — you just have to turn your back on teh drama of Ravelry and actually sit down to knit.

So. Let me know if you’d like me to blog from mid-retreat on Saturday night, and I’ll take the computer along with my collection of two-hundred year-old technology. Hey, maybe I’ll even take the camera!

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 10:01 pm  Comments (4)  

So, this one time, at Sheep and Wool…

…we had this little party, and about 40 people came? And had cheesecake? And won door prizes?

And then we all got massively tired and wished we could sleep for weeks and weeks. But we did take some pictures. They’re not great, but they’re pictures, and they’ve already taken Stage One of their journey and now actually reside on the computer rather than in the camera.

I’ve got a few things to do first (like shower, and run out for diapers and wipes) but I want to take advantage of this being a 3-child school day and put up a very nice blog post with some of those pictures and lots of words.

Here’s our display at the Country Store on Saturday morning. I don’t know why the camera was doing that! (Hi Brandy!)

Here are some sheep (including Shetlands). Check out the horns on that Jacob!

The lamb in this picture is 4 days old. It was soooo small!

Four-day-old lamb, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool

 

 

Shetland sheep, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool

Shetland sheep, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool

 

Jacob Sheep, horns and all![/Jacob Sheep, horns and all!]  

The feed is sweeter in the other pen!

The feed is sweeter in the other pen!

Here is the food at the Afterparty before anybody had some. Chocolate chip cookie pizzas in three flavors, pizzelles in two flavors, chocolate dipped pretzel sticks in four varieties, and two types of cheesecakes with three fruit toppings. Coffee, soda, water, etc. The wine was a door prize ONLY.

 

Chocolate dipped pretzel sticks

Chocolate dipped pretzel sticks

 

 

Cheesecake bar — New York style and chocolate mint chip

Cheesecake bar — New York style and chocolate mint chip

 

 

Chocolate chip cookie pizzas

Chocolate chip cookie pizzas

 

Here are the door prizes, almost all of them. Some people came to the party and dropped more items on the table.

And here is the TARDIS I made just for the party. You won’t believe how cool my children think this is, and where it is now.

Off to do errands, then I’ll fill it in later.

A tremendous thanks to everyone who attended, everyone who just stopped by the table to say Hi even if they couldn’t come, everyone who helped in any way, and especially to Cheesehead with Sticks, who really made it all possible. I really hope there’s an event like this next year, even if I’m not involved with planning and running it.

September 11: OK, I almost give up. Sorry about the formatting. If I can figure out how to fix it, I’ll do so one picture and caption at a time, saving in between. Meanwhile, I’m on with the rest of my life.

Ravelympics, Day Five

I was up until 2am last night this morning getting to this point on the wrist warmers. Then DH got up at 5:30 to leave for a business trip, and I had to be up since I had to ferry Eldest Son to his pickup point for Scout Camp. Of course the other three had to be brought along as well, at 7am. I’m a little sleepy. And I have plans for today that involve a craft store, so I need to make this short and get some caffeine.

But I have pictures!

RWW Day Five

RWW, Day Five

 

Rose's Wrist Warmer, end of Day Five  

Rose

Things got a little blurry after that. I didn’t have any problems with the pattern except that I was starting to fall asleep doing it. In the last row of the cable panel I didn’t have the right number of stitches, and was worried I would really F things U if I tried to fix it…. so I added a purl stitch in the right place. It should be OK, but I don’t feel sharp enough to look at it even now.

AND.

Now that I have The Ability To Add Photos Again, what would you like to see? I lost all my existing digital photos in the hard drive crash of June, but I’ve done some photo shoots of the items I still have. Did anything intrigue you? Interest you? Make you wonder what the heck it looked like?

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 8:32 am  Comments (5)  

Podcast me!

I now have a hand-me down iPod shuffle, thanks to Mr. Chocolatesheep. My music is all on CD in the car for listening while I drive, so I thought I would start listening to some knitting podcasts.

But I don’t know where to start! I have heard of a few…but don’t know what would be to my liking.

So, what’s your favorite podcast and why? Don’t put a link in your comment, as you may end up in the Spam Bucket and it’s been icky in there lately. Just give me the name of the podcast or who does it, and I’ll follow up with you if I need more information on how this all works.

Knitting update: doing the hand decreases on Mitten One right now. Did more of a Debbie Bliss demin square. Everything else is just sitting around.

Top Chef tonight! It’s Restaurant Wars everyone!

Published in: on May 21, 2008 at 9:33 am  Comments (7)  

Status report

Okay, everyone, get out your scorecards.

First, mark Big Tom at 50th percentile on everything measurable at the doctor’s office yesterday. One year ago this kid wasn’t *on* the growth chart. He was hospitalized for being underweight, for goodness’ sake. Now he’s smack dab in the middle of the chart. In fact, the doc wants to see him in six months to make sure he isn’t going screaming past the chart to the obese side of it. Hardly likely, but I appreciate the optimism.

For eldest son… tonight is the scout den party. End of the year for Bears/next year’s Webelos. Hmm, what will I take to knit?

My daughter decided yesterday that she didn’t need to go to school any more. She came home from school perfectly fine, no complaints, but in the late afternoon she was sobbing and screaming, “I don’t want to go to school any more! I already know my numbers and my letters and my colors. I ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING!!!!!”

That leaves the other half of the Wonder Twins, about whom there is nothing to report except that he wants to go to school and does not want to use the toilet. Love and Logic, Love and Logic…….

As for me? Welll…….

I messed up my impossibly easy knitting (noticed this during the Turkish GP and set it aside in disgust), but I have tinked back, fixed the problem, and knitted past it.

I am two repeats into my first lace project. I was given a PDF for a lace cotton washcloth. I bought two balls of pale blue Plymouth Yarns Shire Silk, and cast it on to size 15 needles. I have a bright red lifeline in it, which I am moving up for each repeat. I didn’t work another repeat last night because I was too busy watching David Tennant.

I also cast on for a bias square to use up my Debbie Bliss Denim Cotton Aran yarn. I have two skeins of it in black and white, and while I was thrilled to buy it when I did (Debbie Bliss! Wow!), I didn’t have any plans for it that worked out. So I’m going to buy it when I find it on sale, knit six-inch squares out of it, and make an afghan someday-eventually.

A couple of days ago I decided to make a scarf out of some leftover acrylic yarn, using a pattern I found in a book. If I can get pictures to load, it might make for a fun guessing game to see if anyone can Name That Pattern.

Haven’t touched Tyrone. Haven’t cast on for the second Panda Cotton sock. Haven’t picked up the Irish Hiking Scarf. Haven’t done anything with the Hufflepuff-colored leftovers from the beret projects — should I make a scarf or a pair of mittens?

Oh yes, and last night I think I became one of the new editors of knitcircus, a new knitting ‘zine that is produced and distributed in Madison, Wisconsin. (Thanks Jaala!) No pay, but it should be a fun and creative enterprise. Right now it’s an all-color, handbound print publication, but the future may hold an online version that everyone can access.

And today I fixed the DVD/VCR combo! Thanks, Tom, for clogging the works with a Ritz mini cracker sandwich. Because we already replaced it with a DVD player, now we can pitch the old VCR which works fine but whose remote control has gone to the Great Beyond.

I never got to the spindling I wanted to do on Mother’s Day, but as soon as I can find my wool leader, I’ll put it in a good place and I’ll be ready next time. Who knows, maybe I’ll start running that llama fiber through the hackle again. Or start washing fleeces.

Contest time!

Hi folks….sorry for the lack of posts. The Internet connection is continuing to be crap, but now that we have DH has rearranged the living room, it seems to be better. (I know, WTF. It’s like the “magic” sticker on the big VAX servers in the Olden Days. Don’t touch it and everything will be fine.) Not knowing when I’d get dumped has kind of tarnished the relationship, yaknowwhatImean?

But anyway…..I just looked at my blog stats and saw the Comments total is at 987. You all know what that means, a goodie bag for the 1,000th comment! (Nothing for you, Mister Spam. Move along.)

I don’t know for sure what the prize will be. Odds are high that it could be a styrofoam head on which you could pose your latest knitted hat. Or, you could pick What’s Behind Door Number Two: a classic Chocolate Sheep care package from good ol’ Wisconsin. This will probably involve both yarn and chocolate. I’m planning an intimate party for 200 during WI Sheep & Wool Festival this year, so maybe I can test some recipes on you. If that sounds good, comment away!

Back to the knitting. The brioche scarf got totally frogged and converted to a tube scarf so I can have something for my hands to do when my brain is otherwise occupied. So that’s grinding along. In fact, I think that’s how I’m going to use up all my acrylic: cast on for tube scarves on 16-inch circs. Merry Christmas!

I’m a few inches (6!) into the first of the Crystal Palace Panda Cotton socks. The pooling is fabulous, like a fractal swirl around the sock. I think one more inch and it’s time to knit me a heel flap. And now that the Yarn Harlot herself has annotated Page 144 of Knitting Rules for me, I’ll never forget how to slip those stitches again. (Hint: the needles are tip to tip.) But before I get to that point, I’m going to take someone’s advice and cast on for the second sock and work it up to the heel flap, too. Then I get to do two heel flaps in a row, squee! (That may also mean I have to buy another set of size 2 dpn’s, oh darn.)

I did one repeat on the IHS-with-cursed-yarn and set it aside again. Just not in the mood, I guess. There are still at least three skeins to be wound up, so it’s miles to go before I sleep, it’s for me, there’s no deadline, yadda yadda yadda.

The Packer Hat was mailed out, and I never heard from the guy again. I don’t know if he even received it. I think I’ll just assume he’s on vacation in Door County or something. Hey Brian, give me a shout out when you get back.

I haven’t been brave enough to pick up the Tyrone sweater yet — what is my problem? But in other Backyardigans news, my BY blog Backyardiknits just got a comment from a Spanish language Backyardigans fan blog. I just finished adding them to the blogroll over there. See how trusting I am that my connection will be stable long enough to do such things?

OK, I’m not brave enough to try to add a picture. I’m sure there’s something I want to say that I don’t want to lose in the inevitable failure to connect.

Top Chef related: I totally called out Nikki on this one, though I would have been thrilled to see Dale go home after this episode. Whenever someone’s this poisonous and they get the feedback and they get to go on to the next round, it certainly doesn’t discourage them or their tactics. And bravo Stephanie! And Richard for giving Stephanie his prize sight unseen. She deserved it.

What else is going on? Mr. Chocolatesheep has a state of the art iMac in the other room so he can make other magazines at home in his spare time, when he isn’t at work making magazines. It is freaking awesome. It is so freaking awesome I knew he wouldn’t mind if I snuck away and did a blog post. Mind? I don’t think he noticed.

Next thing to cast on? Maybe that can be what I judge comments on. What should be next on my needles. Socks for myself? My Dale sweater I actually bought the pattern and the yarn for? A knitted thing for my Birthday Buddy Swap on Ravelry? Or a mitered square for a Doctor Who afghan?

I’ll be in touch with you, number 1000.