Friday, January 23, 2009

Playing hooky...

All work and no play make Diane something something. Boy has the day off from school and has graciously consented to go to a movie with me (despite there not being any action movies or Will Ferrell comedies in the theaters), so I need to spend my computer time writing assignments, not blogging. So in addition to playing a little hooky from work, I'm playing hooky from the blog, too.

Besides, I haven't seen a movie in 2009 yet, and I'd like to see more than one of the five films nominated for Oscar's Best Picture nominees. Maybe I can get a future blog post out of it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Confessions of a Knitwit

The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one, right? Well, I'm not so sure I really have a problem. Really, I'm just being productive. Keeping my hands busy. I can stop at any time. [Looks down at photo.]

Sigh. Hi everyone. My name is Diane and I'm addicted to knitting scarves.

Can you really blame me? Yarn is so colorful and shinee. Yarn is soo soft and fuzzee. Yarn is so cheap: I can make a scarf for under $10, and often under $5. And scarves are so easy to make. Unlike the sweater I started two (three? four?) years ago that is only half-finished, scarves require no thought, no row counting, no planning. Just knit knit knit (and occasionally purl purl purl) and before you know it, I have a scarf. (Or sometimes you have the scarf. I often get too much yarn and make an extra or two.)

It started simply: I thought it would be nice to have a maize-and-blue scarf to wear to Michigan football games, especially the really cold ones in November. I bought some feathery yarn—feather/fluff/chunks mean you can use big needles and thus fewer stitches—and voila! Matching M scarves for my mom and me. I picked up a couple of ombre patterns (the changing colors mean you get a multicolored scarf without fussing with changing yarn), and I was off! I'm particularly susceptible to clearance yarn: the scarf on the far left was only $1 a skein, and one skein was enough for a scarf. Well, after a bit of reknitting. I have been known to unravel everything and start over, changing the pattern or size. With my most recent addition, the extremely soft blue scarf fourth from the left, I used almost the entire 100g skein before deciding it was too short and I should start over with fewer stitches. So what if I ripped up all that work—I got to reknit the whole thing!

It's fun! It's cheap! It's pretty! So don't tell me I have a problem. At least not if you want me to knit you a scarf.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Word Nerd Sez: I is for ...


I haven't been able to escape this word for the past week, and certainly not today. It's understandable; a lot of people, myself included, are excited about the new president finally taking office. Then there are the crowds! The speeches! The ball gowns! What's really piqued my interest, though, is the etymology! Hearing the word over and over made me wonder: does it mean anything that inauguration contains the word augur* in it?

After perusing the dictionary for a while, my hunch was confirmed: inauguration is from the Latin inauguratus, meaning to practice or consecrate through augury. For those of you who aren't geeks for Roman mythology and culture like I am, an augur was a diviner, someone who purported to tell the future by reading omens. Sometimes those omens were found the flight of birds, or by looking at patterns made by casting animal entrails on the ground. Some speculate that the word "augur" itself comes from the Latin avis, meaning bird. Most linguists, however, think the evidence indicates the origin is from the Latin aug-, meaning to increase or augment.

I find it fascinating that the word we use to describe the ceremonial induction of the president is related to an ancient pagan ceremony. As I read further on the subject, the augur's role wasn't really to foretell the future, but to indicate whether a decision already made would find favor with the gods. I guess that's not too different from how our democracy works. We decide who should best represent us in the government, and then pray like hell they'll do the right thing. Hopefully our new president, with the help of the Congress and even ordinary people like us, will win Fortune's favor in the coming four years. We sure could use it.

*Not to be confused with the word auger, a tool for boring holes, which derives from the Old English word for spear.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photo of the Week--1/12/09

Here's the last of my Antarctica photos for a while (I have plenty of cold and snow around me, I don't need any more reminders). This is an iceberg floating in the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. One of our excursion was a boat tour among the icebergs, where we saw several varieties of seals sunning themselves. We also saw lovely colors and formations in the ice itself, and I love all the blues in this photo.