It’s Deja Vu All Over Again*

Note:  This is a post from several months ago which I somehow saved to draft and thought I’d lost.  It’s still relevant to our current situation, so I thought I’d go ahead and post it.

Saw this, watched it, and it sounded strangely familiar . . .

She left out the bit about why the rats are such a big deal.  The rats are the reservoir for the plague, the fleas (which she doesn’t mention) that bite the rats and then bite people are the plague vectors, i.e., the way plague gets from rats to humans.  But otherwise, she’s got her facts straight.

She did not made this up. This is not fake news.   It is historical fact.  It actually happened.  This is why bubonic plague is now endemic in certain species of rodents native to the American southwest.  This is the reason why doctors who practice all over the western United States are still treating anywhere from 11 to 100 people for bubonic plague each year.

I wish Doughty’s tale of greed, graft, and corruption was an isolated incident, but guess what?  We must be on about the fifth or sixth verse of this same old song by now.

Like the man says:

Masks prevent COVID19,
but only if you wear them and wear them correctly.

*I stole the quote from baseball's inimitable Yogi Bera. I wish I was using it to be funny, but tragically, it's all too true.

This Is A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of folks out there are upset with WordPress for changing over to the new “block(head) editor.”   For those “Classics” like me who prefer the classic editor and are driven nuts by the “new way,” here’s my WordPress work around.

  1. Create a new post, give it a title, then save it as a draft and x out of it.
  2. Pull up the blog again, click on the “W” in the upper left corner to get a drop-down menu and choose “WP Admin.”
  3. From the “Posts” menu, choose “All posts” which brings up a list of posts.
  4. Find the one that you just created and select “classic editor” and go from there.

It’s called “The Columbus Method.” Going east by sailing west. I think WordPress changed things to make it easier to create posts using smart phones. By doing so, they made it harder for everybody else.  It’s the revenge of the millennials. Resistance is Futile.

(Of course, now that I’ve posted it, those yahoos at WordPress will remove the classic editor altogether.)

iPhones, iCords, iCicles and iGivup

It’s been interesting weather.  We got ice pellets, had thundersnow, rain, and the world was coated with ice this morning.  I could hear the pellets of ice hitting the window screen last night when I was at the computer.  It thundered several times last night, too, and once there was this terrifically loud BANG!! which was probably a utilities transformer going kablooie.   The lights have been flickering from time to time.  As much ice as there is on everything, including trees, I’m not surprised.  What is surprising is that I haven’t had a sustained power loss yet. (Touch wood!) 

We have a unique electric utility situation here.  For years and years, we had two power companies, a large, multistate private power company and a municiple utility company, competing for the same customer base, each with its own duplicate infrastructure, generator stations, etc.  People could choose which service they wanted to take from.  Then, about 15-20 years ago, the private utility company was bought out by Excel Energy and in the corporate restructuring, they sold their local infrastructure to the City. Whoever you were getting your electricity from at the time of the sellout, that’s the infrastructure your house remained connected to.  So, your neighbors’ power could go out, and yours wouldn’t, or an outage might only affect a scattering of four or five houses on the block.  It all depends on which infrastructure the outage is in relative to the infrastructure your house was connected to at the time of the sellout.  It’s really weird.

Just now, the lady in “B” called to tell me there was a branch that had broken off the stupid locust tree in my back yard.  It was hung up on the fence and the big end of it was hitting up against my cable wire.  But, it was wedged in between the fence pickets so tightly that she couldn’t maneuver it out by herself.  Actually, the  smaller branchings of it were straddling the fence, with most of them on my side.  I went into the back yard to see if we could get it loose/down so it wasn’t hitting  my cable “war.”  We managed to get the branch loose.  It was easiest to push it over into her yard, so that’s what we did.   There’s my excitement for the day.

The weather has warmed up enough that we’re melting now. Everything is dripping, and the ice that had coated the trees and wires is falling off in large chunks with every breath of wind.  it’s all over the yard.  Now and again I hear the Whump! of a wad of icicles falling off the eaves.

I’ve taken a viewer’s suggestion and scoped out some Bluetooth earbuds.  So now I’ll have to get one of those wireless charger disk doodads, too, but they’ll have to come out of next month’s budget.  Sigh.  I hate the shape of the corded iBuds that came with the iPhone.  They won’t stay in my ears worth beans.  The proposed Bluetooth earbuds are the kind that work best for me. The trick will be keeping them charged.  Now, if they could just make a wireless charger that works on people. . . .

The majority of my slacks have pockets, but most of their pockets are too shallow for an iPhone to fit into.  (Since iPhones first came out in 2007, that tells you what a clothes horse I’m not.)  When I go to cardiac rehab sessions, the car keys and the iPhone go in my pockets, and my purse gets locked in the trunk (boot) of my car.

Last night I got a wild hare to knit me an iPouch to hang around my neck so I will have a place to carry my iPhone when I wear slacks with unsuitable or no pockets.  I’m knitting it bottom-up using Turkish cast on (like you do with toe-up socks) to avoid having to Kitchener stitch the bottom closed.  Guess what the stitch is called that produces that long tail — it’s the iCord stitch.  Really.   I’ve still got about 10 inches of iCord left to knit.    It’s a really simple little pattern using not a whole lot of worsted yarn — You may recognize the color.  It’s an oddball I had left over from The Assassin’s Daughter shawl.  I like the way the colors are pooling

Everybody keeps saying that the iPhone is so intuitive.  How neurotypical of them.  My experience has been that it’s frustrating and counterintuitive  to the point that it causes me to iSwear.

The Dark Side of the Moon

A camera 1 million miles from Earth recorded this amazing video of the dark side of the Moon

I have one of those desktop apps that puts a graphic on your desktop that shows the current phase of the moon.  (No, you can’t just go outside at night and look because the rising and setting times of the moon change on a daily basis.) Apart from the fact that this gadget shows a graphic representation of how the real moon looks as it goes through its phases, which is cool in and of itself, the person who wrote the gadget I downloaded once upon quite a while ago called it “Werewolf Monitor” — which always makes me smile.

Tonight, all we can see is the dark side of the moon, which is also the title of a really great album by Pink Floyd. (IMHO, not as good as “Wish You Were Here,” which has to have the coolest album cover, but then, as Mr. Clemens pointed out, that’s what makes horse races. . . ) (. . . oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?)

While I’m here, I want to lay this on you.  Something nice to give your eyes (and head) a rest:

©2020 Lagniappe

If you’re into nature, or photography, or just like to look at nice pictures, slip on over to Lagniappe and give it a look.

And there’s my good deed done for the day. . .

. . . . one good deed deserves another:

Here are the two daughters of the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, carrying on their father’s legacy of giving music to the world.

(P.S. I was listening to the “Suburbs of Goa” channel of Soma FM the other day while I was playing games on my Kindle Fire, and they played this duet between Anoushka Shankar and violinist Joshua Bell.  Yowsa!)

Serendipity, Serendoogles, and Serendubes

The word “serendipity” is defined as something beneficial or desirable that is found or that occurs by accident or chance.  A while back,  I coined the word “serendoogle” (serendipity + google) for something cool/interesting you come across while you’re googling for something else.

And then there is  that glorious, bottomless *SEARCHABLE* Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole called “YouTube.” One of my favorite activities in these long days of isolation has become “channel surfing” YouTube for serendubes. (If you think about it, it’ll come to you. . .)

The other day, those arcane YouTubean algorhythms coughed up a video called  Art in Isolation.  The one I chanced upon was number 6 in a series, was short (around 15 minutes), and looked interesting.  Because I am well trained in the art of binge watching, instead of watching that one,  I naturally searched for episode 1 and watched it.

Turns out, they’re  a whole series of videos by this Brit art dealer guy geeking out about various pieces in his personal art collection, which is interesting if you are into that kind of thing, but, guys — his house!  Look at THAT HOUSE!  Only in Britain, where you can hardly turn around without falling over something historic*, could you have a house like that that!  By the time I’d watched back up to episode  6, I was like, enough about the art, dude**.  Do a tour of that house!

*As for history here in the flat lands of Tx, we have the Clovis culture,  followed by 11,000 years of hunter/gatherers wandering over bald prairie dropping the odd stone arrowhead until my town was founded in 1876.  No ancient neolithic monuments, no Roman ruins, or castles, or medieval stone cottages or stately homes.  NadaBubkes.  Zip. 
**which is why God gave us the mute function/button/icon.

Almost a Dozen of Quite The Best Geekery

There’s guy and their stats and geeks and their minutiae, and then there are guy geeks, which is a horse of quite another color.  But, never mind.  Just watch the drawing and let the sheer geekery of it roll over you.

And in case you need your memory refreshed, . . .

Oh, and did you remember what the dormouse said?

See also footnote 15.

Find a comfy teapot to snuggle into and fasten your seatbelts, kiddies.  It’s going to be a bumpy year.

Those Blooming Trees

Those durn ornamental flowering pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) are blooming again.  They may be pretty, but my sinuses are having a wall-eyed fit.  Commonly called Bradford pears.  I am not alone in my antipathy to them.  Invasive is right.  I counted over twenty of them in the five minute drive to my mom’s house.  My system is so full of antihistamines and decongestants I’m like the zombie apocalypse.  The picture at left was taken a couple of days ago.  Today was rainy and foggy.  So foggy, in fact, that when I was on the way to my mom’s house, two blocks away was like a fog bank.

Don’t know what these plants are but they’re wild and they’re all over some of the lawns around, including my mom’s.  The grass people use for lawns here is a species of Bermuda grass, which dies off in the fall and comes back from the roots in the spring.  Long about this time of year, people set their lawn mower blades way down and “scalp” off last year’s dead growth practically to ground level so the new growth can come out.  So, that whitish stuff is dead Bermuda grass.  The flowers on this plant are teensy and look a lot like snapdragons.

There’s this house up on 19th Street, the “main drag” that runs along one side of Texas Tech University — your classic southern style “mansion,” two storey, red brick with white pillars in front.  It was built in 1928.  Because 19th is such a large, busy street, and there’s no curbside parking on it, the people that owned the house had a semicircular drive put in.  They excavated a pile of dirt in order to do it, and instead of having the dirt hauled off and the lawn leveled out again, the lady of the house had them just smooth out the piles of dirt and plant grass because the berm of dirt deadened the traffic noise.  The landscaping people planted a bunch of early spring blooming ‘bubs’ (that’s Texan for “bulbs”) — crocuses, daffodils, narcissus, snowdrops, etc. — all over the berm.  They just scattered them about and mixed them up.  The bulbs come up and bloom and are done by the time the Bermuda grass comes out.  I think it’s a cool idea.

I binge-watched “The Witcher” ‘s first season on Netflix yesterday and worked on my “Mrs. Crocombe’s Braided Delight” shawl.  I had to fast forward through some of the monsters and a lot of the battle scenes.  (It’s very violent and gory.)  Yes, Henry Cavill is very drule-worthy and well worth watching, but I can do without all the flying blood, guts and body parts.  So if that kind of stuff bothers you, be forewarned;  it is very graphic.  Also, there’s nudity of both sexes front and back (although not full frontal male nudity), so if that bothers you, be forewarned.  (Yes, I did rerun the whole bathtub scene several times.  Bite me.)   If it is true, as purported, that Cavill did all his own stunts, I hope his costumes had a lot of padding.  He got thrown about and bounced off walls an awful lot.

I’m not sure if I can access Star Trek: Picard in a way that will enable me to binge watch it on my TV, but I think I can watch it on line.  The reviews I’ve seen of it are good.  I’m seriously starting to think it might be more worthwhile to just cancel my cable TV and subscribe to Netflix, Amazon, Starz and HBO.  The cost would be about the same.   All I need to get them on my TV is internet access.  Cable TV has so little worth watching, never mind anything I’m interested in watching, and I can’t see paying for something I don’t watch because it’s mostly utter junk.

I test-fitted the “Assssin’s Daughter” shawl and decided I’m going to use all seven skeins of yarn.  Both it and the Mrs. Crocombe’s shawl are now too big to work on at the computer, which is why I was binge watching stuff on TV.

I need to organize my yarn stash, and while I’m at it, I need to go through my embarrassingly large pile of WIPs* and do a FO or frog **.  I need to start knitting hats for the cancer center again, too.   I’ve got several hats that need finishing and a whole plastic storage tub full of donated yarn.

I think I’m going to have to haul my folding banquet table out from under the bed to block shawls on.  The floor is the only other place big enough, and I have no business doing any kind of kneeling on the knee I had replaced.  Because the shawls I need to block are all made from acrylic yarn and I plan to kill the yarn, there’s going to be a wet tea-towel and a steam iron involved, so that lets out my dining table.  I’ve got two boxes of the blocking mat tiles.  I may need to get more T-pins, though.   I’ve got several shawls that need blocking.  I’ll have to do all of them at once, and I should do it before the weather starts getting hot.  I’ll also have to locate a spot where there’s enough floor space to set the table up — preferably somewhere close to an electrical outlet .  Now, what did I do with those roundtoits . . . ?

*WIPs -- Works In Progress**FO or Frog -- either Finish the Object or completely unravel (frog) it and recycle the yarn into another project.

Fee, Fly, FO, Phooey

I finally wove in the ends on the fingerless mits that had been finished since months ago, got them photographed, and put the pattern up on my knitting blog.  This is the pair I knit in a navy DK weight yarn.

The Caron Simply Soft yarn also works very well.  (Caron says their Simply Soft yarn is a “Medium:4,” which is worsted weight, but it’s on the far end of the skinny side of worsted.)  (see at right)  I did change the pattern up from the way I knit these two example pairs in that the ribbing around the base of the fingers and the thumb is done in twisted rib to give it more spring-back when it’s stretched.   I’m doing another pair in some discontinued-brand snob yarn (cotton/silk blend) I got on sale in 2018.  They are 50 gram skeins and I’m going to see if I can, indeed, get two mitts out of one skein.  (I do have two skeins of this pewter grey — in case I can’t.)  (When in doubt, hedge your bets. ) I’ll do the twisted rib as (re-)written in the pattern on this pair.

My current digs are in a two-bedroom duplex.  The bedroom I’m using as a bedroom (I’m using the middle one as an “office”) is at the back of the house and has a sliding glass door from the 1970’s (as in ‘no energy efficiency at all’), and even with three pairs of drapes over the door, it still gets durn cold back there when the temperatures dip below zero.  I like to read in bed for the comfort and warmth, but that’s also where my knitting nook is.  When I’m knitting, a lap robe does for the legs and lower torso, but the fingers get cold.  Fingerless mitts I could both  knit and read in seemed the obvious solution.  Les voilà.

Of course, now that it’s half past winter (and only two years after I started it!), I’ve finally finished my “Malguri Morning” shawl.  (I made one for C. J. and one for Jane, and kind of got burned out on making a third one for myself.). It’s nice and big, just like I like a shawl to be.  Like a big warm hug.   I’ll be using it as a transition piece as the weather warms up — wear a long-sleeved, but lighter top, and wear this shawl over it in the mornings and evenings when I need a little extra warmth.

The Malguri Morning shawl is a very, very simple knit.  So simple a beginning knitter could make it.  All you need to know is knit stitch, purl stitch and knit front and back (kfb).  It’s made with bulky yarn, in garter stitch, with a two-stitch stockinette stitch border and doesn’t need to be blocked.   This one’s made with the Loops and Threads Charisma yarn, which is acrylic, but very soft and squishy.  This done in the colors “Northern Light” variegated and “Electric Blue” solid yarns.

“Mrs. Crocombe’s Braided Delight” is coming along nicely.  It’s in a bulky acrylic yarn that I bought in the early 1980’s that’s long been discontinued. (I’ve had it for almost 30 years — talk about deep stash!) Once I finish it, I’ll wash it and use (hair) conditioning rinse as fabric softener to alleviate the scratchiness, and then I’ll “kill” it when I block it to give it a nicer drape.  It’s going to be quite a long rectangular shawl as I want to be able to wear it with the right end thrown over my left shoulder.  I’ve got a couple of repro ancient Celtic penannular broochs, and one of them would be killer to pin it in place with.

The  off-center braided cable detail is understated, but elegant, and adds a nice texture against the garter stitch.  This is another one of my mindlessly easy shawl patterns.  This would be a good “intro to the braided cable” piece for a beginning knitter.  Bulky yarn on US15 (10 mm) needles goes fast.   Unfortunately, it’s at a size now where it’s almost too big to knit on it at the computer.

I am STILL being plagued by a fly.  Apparently, There Can Be Only One.  I kill that one, and the next day, there’s another one.  I’m durned if I know where they’re coming from, but I’ve had enough of the little buggers to last me til the peanut butter season, to quote a certain Possum. 

Well, only one thing to do:  Put on a Zepplin playlist, work on the right mitt I’ve already gotten about two thirds knitted and slide on into the weekend.  Valhalla, I am coming. . . .  plus ça change . . .


I Have A Finished Object! . . . Uh, . . . No, I Don’t . . .

I finished “The Assassin’s Daughter” shawl, using 3 skeins, but it was too small for the way I like to wear my shawls.**  But, I have 7 skeins total of that yarn, so I frogged out the top border, and I’m adding another two skeins (5 skeins total) and I’ll see how that goes.  If that’s still not big enough, I’ll go the whole 7.  Since I’m increasing two stitches every other row, and I’m adding to the top, the number of rows I can get out of each skein diminishes the more stitches I have on the needle.

I’ve been taking a leaf from the lovely Miss Bernadette Banner‘s book and attempting to suss out how a garment is made just by looking at a picture of somebody wearing it.  In this case, it’s that interesting olive green shawl being worn by Kathy Hipperson in the below video as she sits chatting with Ms. Banner in the pub.

Regular subscribers to Ms. Banner’s vlog might recognize Ms. Hipperson as the actress who interprets “Mrs. Crocombe” in the English Heritage “How To Cook the Victorian Way” videos.

In some of the comments, people were wanting to know about the olive green “sweater” she was wearing and how to get a pattern for it.  It’s actually not a sweater.  It’s a shawl with the ends crossed over her left shoulder.  My informed guess is that it is rectangular in shape, about 24 inches wide and at least 60 inches long. It’s done in garter stitch with a braided cable (3 sts x 3 sts x 3 sts) down the length, probably off center, i.e., closer to one edge than to the center.

It’s made from bulky weight yarn and worked on very big needles (possibly 9.0-10 mm/US13-15).  It would be pretty easy to copy once you had your stitch gauge. Knit a 5 inch by 5 inch swatch in your chosen yarn, with your chosen needles, measure the number of stitches to the inch, x 24 – 30 inches to get the cast on. Then allocate 9 or 12 stitches for your cable with a purl-stitch gutter on either side to give the cable a little more definition.  Put markers on either side of your cable. The cable stitches are worked per standard braided cable with 5 rows between crosses. The rest is garter stitch, and how hard is garter stitch? she asks rhetorically. . .

Of course, now I have to see if I’ve got enough yarn to make one for myself. . . . Sigh.  But it would be a fairly straightforward project, and bulky yarn in garter stitch on bulky needles goes quickly.

** There are two schools of thought about shawls.  Some people like to wear their shawls like a scarf or cowl, up around their neck.  Others like to wear their shawl around their shoulders like a cape.  Obviously, you wouldn’t want such a big shawl if you were wearing it around your neck.  On the other hand, a larger shawl would fit around your shoulders better .  Since I belong to the latter school, I’m going for a bigger shawl.

The Snowman

I know for the Brits in the crowd, this is probably a yawn, but I wanted to share this magical video with those who may not have ever seen it.  It’s been a favorite of mine for quite a while now.

The song:

We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below
Are sleeping as we fly
I’m holding very tight
I’m riding in the midnight blue
I’m finding I can fly
So high above with you

Far across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills
The forests and the streams

Children gaze open-mouthed
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below
Believes their eyes

We’re surfing in the air
We’re swimming in the frozen sky
We’re drifting over icy
Mountains floating by

Suddenly swooping low
On an ocean deep
Rousing up a mighty monster
From his sleep

We’re walking in the air
We’re dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us
Greets us as we fly