29 March 2009

Twos -- icord, frogs, step counters and sweaters for the 44

On Friday, I got the leaves into the mail and then went walkabout through Balboa Park and the hood.

I was knitting icord. The idea was to create lovely green icord frogs for the all but done Something Sunny for Stacy sweater.

About a third of the way along, I got one strip of about the right size done, tucked up into the outer pocket of my bag, and started on a second.

When the second was reaching maybe the right size, I dug into that outer pocket only to discover that the icord had escaped. Okay, it is just icord and only an hour or so's knitting but aargh never the less.

So I found myself wondering what someone would make of about 14 inches of icord on the ground.

My best guess was that it had hooked itself to the camera strap and flipped itself free when I stopped to take a shot of some tree lizards cavorting over by the police stables but since I was outside TJ's when I discovered it missing, I wasn't going to track back.

I did roll through the same area yesterday and, believe it or not, the icord was where I thought it would be with just a bit of dirt to show for its time on the ground.

Both icord bits got a hand wash but I'm not loving the frog closure idea because even 3 stitch icord seems a bit too big for a kid's sweater. One big flower would work for me but two frogs are a big not so much. So I'm back to digging for buttons and "auditioning" stash yarn for possible floral options.

While digging about, I found two hanks of Paton's Melody in a pale pink. It's an uber-bulky acrylic just right for a fast kid knit and a good change it up to prevent injury for my knitting health. Cast on today with Yeti from Berrocco as my general guideline.

I'm not getting gauge but I am getting fabric I like and because I'm not getting gauge I'm also getting more at the three month size instead of newborn which is a good thing. I won't have enough to make it a hoodie but I'll adjust.

Friday's walkabout was mostly to make myself move after an unintentionally sluggish day on Thursday courtesy of that little cell phone network problem and to figure out how many miles I put in on Wednesday when the pedometer reset itself.

I'd forgotten that the cell phone has a pedometer feature. This puts me back into the two sources of information that don't agree situation.

27 March 2009

San Diego Circuit -- shorted

Yesterday I got all excited because I got an email telling me that one of the books I want/need for one of my term papers was available for pick up.

Great timing since this week they are at the county annex -- Kearny Mesa. Hmm, easy enough noon to 2pm simple run and I can be all HIB (Human Information Behaviour) all weekend.

So around noon, I head out and, as I did, it struck me that I hadn't driven the truck in about 10 days so it was sort of strange to be behind the wheel.

Although I used to know that area fairly well, it has been awhile, so I went the Mapquest route. As it turns out, Mapquest is not quite mesa savvy with directions.

But I got there. Found the bookmobile. Found a parking space. Got my library card out and we're all good right? Not quite, ooops, my book's not there. And there's not a way to check on where it might be -- pish.

With a bit of luck and a network fix from AT&T cellular, I should get a call later today about whether it is sitting in Vista seriously MIA and/or how we we want to go from here. No news on the inter-library loan on the other title.

Eight out of 20 fish now attached to the fish afghan. Lots of ends of blue Comfort being carefully concealed inside the now double sided fish other ends/strands of blue Comfort will still need to be woven into the blue background but the number is shrinking so the task is less daunting.

And yes, still ignoring the grafting gorilla question.

Bit of bad news in that the nice little yellow fish I knit the other day are just a wee bit smaller than their fellow fish so I may be doing more still.

Meanwhile, as soon as the camera battery charges up, I'm off to the post office with the eight leaves bound for Huntsville as in
Jennifer Marsh's International Fiber Collaborative Tree Project. Seven out of the eight are knit in Comfort so that's Seven Southern Comfort leaves.

26 March 2009

The Bs double Ds and AT &Ts

Not sure what's up with the blogger thing. Email to walkabout knitter account informs me that I need to ask for a review to avert the dreaded blog deletion.

I think I already asked for and even perhaps got a review/reprieve already since I'm able to publish new posts but I've nothing to confirm that fer shur so I'm wondering if I shouldn't back up and archive three years of postings as a JIC like I did when I opted to mirror my positively polygonal virtual seminar class for the old KBTH's Way Beyond The Hebrides Fall 2004 Virtual Conference.

Perfectly good SIM card sacrificed only to discover that the reason I was having intermittent can't reach me issues with the cell phone was, in fact, an AT&T network outage -- gnashing of teeth and not happy noises.

'Specially not happy since now I'm locked into two more years of the sort of cock-up that put me here.

Oh well, any one with an old and also useless SIM card, get in touch, I think they'd make great earrings/jewelry and I currently only have one useless one. . . mutter, mutter.

Found all this TMI about AT&T while trying to track down and contact another San Diego local knitting group that seems to be otherwise disconnected from the larger corpus of knitting groups.

The B is Barbie who is buried in run up to 1L finals. The double Ds -- Dana and Deidre who couldn't come out and knit at Urban Grind tonight. All Ravelers.

Urban Grind, I was late since I was in endless and not terribly useful on the phone with the wonderful folks at AT&T. Nothing really against the folks I spoke with but lots against the escalation and public communication model they are working with.

So late and solo but it was good. I tore through a couple of chapters of the bodice ripper/page turner that is Chowdhury's Introduction to Modern Information Retrieval (several references btw to yesterday's Ada Lovelace Medalist btw including one to a paper I've been reading recently).

I did manage to get another three fish sewn onto the back of the fish afghan that's 5 out of 20. Minor accomplishment but I'm okay with that.

25 March 2009

I'll take crazy people in the alley for 200 please Alex

The pedometer reset itself while I was on walkabout.

n the pedometer reset I'll just have to take another long way round Balboa Park circuit tomorrow and see what the rest of the step count was because I'm pretty sure that I walked a little more than 2291 steps today.

Some of those steps were empathy steps as a fellow Knit@Nite knitter was having a key crisis in the Uptown Shopping Centre parking lot. Since I've been through the same thing with the cell phone recently I can so relate.

With nothing but school work in my evening, I opted to play the second go through the bags, retrace steps commiserate, talk about something else, calm and comb the space.

There were two walkabout and skateboard tie-ins today. The first was a young boarder ('bout 9 or 10) hanging by the organ pavilion who was just blown away by my walking and knitting.

He was waiting for his family and very interested in knitting. He didn't really believe I was knitting a fish shape until he saw one of the finished ones I was carting about as a template for knitting new fish.

I really hope he follows through with his grandmother and or with Kid's Knitting which I strongly suggested as a resource.

The other boarder moment was one of my fave TJ's dudes who caught grief from me and everyone else about a boarding wipe out that wall over his face -- scab city on forehead and nose and I know how much that had to bleed.

He's a good guy and I still haven't really done enough to design a kewl hair containment headband solution. Since I'm 'tween projects right now maybe I should noodle about with that. Fixation and/or illusion knitting were early days impressions and I think that's still a good vision.

Rambled home around 8pm and although it was too early and way too Wednesday for it, within minutes of turning the key in the lock, I got an anonymous soap opera high drama of people who were either crazy or crazy drunk arguing and crying and otherwise carrying on outside my windows.

Blogger's you might be SPAM so your blog is locked has kicked itself into an erroneous false positive for this here blog so if and when this is going to get published is anyone's guess.

If I were more poetically inclined I'm write an ode to an
annoying algorithm.

It may have tagged me that way because I publish, check the layout, adjust and republish in relatively short order sometimes.

I would happily stop doing that if the cute little code monkeys could you possibly work on kicking in coding that will give me a true preview of the blog post based on template changes I've made. You know, something difficult like reading the blog's column width settings and showing that rather than some erroneous default as a preview. Read and apply -- probably not a tough task.

I've asked for that little feature at least once or twice and I don't think it is unreasonable since you allow me to make those template changes so why not honour them in a preview?

What can I say? I care about layout and always have. Whether doing newsletters, newspapers, ads, brochures, books, magazines, menus or web pages -- layout matters.

24 March 2009

Computing is too important to be left to men

In a blast to the past, I'm looking at a job that does tech support for legal software. Shades of Legalsystems and schlepping systems to law firms to install and overcome staff resistance to technology.

It has a been awhile since I did tech support for money rather than just for stuff I know and can't really resist just being helpful. It isn't exactly my niche or my career goal but it could fit nicely into what I've done, what I know and where I'm going.

And in another could be good experience for career path, having finally heard from them, I'm trying to decide whether the California Ballet Internship is something I really want to apply for or not.

On the one hand, I am a former (modern) dancer and ex ballet mom so that background and reference point will help a lot with the cataloguing part of the long term goal but the task looks to be very long term indeed and I'm not sure about their expectations.

I don't currently necessarily have the online/web database experience they specify as required but if that database is a goal, I can obtain that skill set while slogging through the task of assessing, indexing and cataloguing the materials and the further assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the current database.

Database design is sort of in my blood going back to when I used to develop them for people in the early 80s and if they take a long haul picture of the task/goal then I could probably acquire the web database current skill set during Summer session.

Speaking of databases and cataloguing, my homage to Ada Lovelace day comes in the form of a nod to Karen Spärck Jones (1935-2007) whose slogan is the title of today's posting.

She also said "I think women bring a different perspective to computing; they are more thoughtful and less inclined to go straight for technical fixes. My belief is that, intellectually, computer science is fascinating - you're trying to make things that don't exist."

Spärck Jones is so far the only female winner of the Ada Lovelace Medal. Initially she read history at Cambridge. When she was recruited to the Cambridge Language Research Unit supposedly her only qualification was that she had read philosophy. She later pointed out that reading philosophy was, in fact a good qualification for studying information processing and language.

Spärck Jones had one year reading Philosophy, but she is the woman you should thank every day that Google and other search engines and retrieval systems return relevant results by using specially defined thesauri, natural language processing and inverse document frequency (IDF) weighting.

I think that one of the barriers we've established in recent years to women in technology has come about by specialisation. In the last twenty years or so, increasingly, there's been a narrowing of the path to careers in technology that has created a narrow focus funnel.

I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to push back a little and start embracing systems understanding or a more holistic vision of tech that often comes from someone with aptitude but not necessarily the credential. Some one with aptitude can get a credential but the inverse is not always true.

Some indicators are that women in tech peaked in the 80s but based on my experience that peak included women who had not necessarily come into tech through the now established funnel and some talented individuals may have been essentially forced out or under utilised because of assimilation process that is part of that funnel.

Think about it, someone (another female pioneer, Margaret Masterman, saw her potential) and brought her into the research. Google would not be your friend but for Karen Spärck Jones.

Meanwhile, back at the me side of the house, I got some of the personal web page bits updated and will need to tackle the pdfs for both events and shops.

The Sunny Something for Stacy's 44 sweaters is drying and I'm still undecided on the closure treatment.

Right now I'm leaning toward a three stitch icord frog but I haven't really raided the button supply to see if maybe icord tabs 'round buttons would be a better choice.

While listening to some lectures and working away on a couple of school projects, I also started down the applique the fish onto the other fish and weaving of endless ends on the fish afghan front.

That is an amazingly tedious process -- 20 fish and way more ends. So far I've only two fish done and I'm trying to decide whether I want to do a direct one to one (like fish to like fish) treatment. If I do I'll need to knit another yellow fish.

In other got things done, I finally managed to get the EDD web page not to just seize on me in mid application process. What a remarkably annoying interface.

California taxes are the next fun with state stuff on my plate although that's really only because I'm putting of a day at the DMV as long as humanly possible.

DMV and laundry, some of my favourite things -- NOT.

23 March 2009

File the sunny sweater for Stacy under almost done. That seques nicely into today's exercise in trying to get stuff done.

Turns out that the county library card I got means that I can borrow books
from local Universities using the San Diego Circuit with my county card. These are books that I would only be able to get with my city library card through inter-library loan or from the universities themselves by paying for borrowing privileges.

That's handy considering that trying to get some resources when you are a distance learner is way harder than it needs to be.

After much fuss, one of the books I want/need for a project is heading my way via San Diego Circuit and the other is hopefully coming via inter-library loan.

Getting this all sorted involved lots of clicking and cursing about on a variety of highly unhelpful web page and also a number of lovely conversations with librarians and library workers at a number of organisations. The conversations were lovely, the web pages not so much.

It was the late open day at my nearest branch library so I took the nearing completion sweater on a little walkabout to pick up California tax forms and do the inter-library loan thing.

Just to get some mileage in, I continued on into University Heights for a bit of a ramble and the semi-inevitable slightly lost search for the bridge that crosses Washington.

Why I can never seem to remember that it is Maryland to Lincoln to Vermont is a mystery. But that just means I get to walk around an awfully nice neighbourhood.

Finally found my way with a little help from a local dog walker and checked out a cute little house for rent (not for me, for some searching friends) before crossing the bridge back into Hillcrest.

A stop in at Trader Joe's and I wandered home just as I was finishing the last of the yellow part of the sweater.

Next up, knitting/purling in the green and picking up stitches to create a and for this little gem. While I had the sleeves curl forward, I'm thinking this edging will roll back.

Still haven't decided how I'm going to work the closure on this. I'm pretty sure that I am not doing ties but that's about the only decision I've made so far.

Photos on the day are manly men who can be seen in and around Park Boulevard near El Cajon Boulevard.

21 March 2009

So you wanna see a sweater?

No shock to hear that my faithfully following a pattern went out the window.

I like the sunny yellow but I couldn't see it as a sunny yellow and lace so I pulled the bright yellow/green comfort into the mix.

When I polished off the first sleeve I did the four rows of purling that the pattern called for. I let it sit until I finished the second sleeve. On that sleeve I knit four rows.

The difference between the two methods is that the purled sleeve rolls back and under and the knit sleeve rolls up and over.

I'm definitely in the rolls up sleeve camp so I frogged the first one back and am on my way to making my next decision about the rest of the sweater.

Not sure whether I'm going to add more colour to the body or just leave it plain yellow and only use the green for the trim. I'm leaning toward the latter but could be seduced by some stitch pattern or another and yes, that does mean I've been browsing them.

The sleeve looks a bit puckery but it doesn't really pull in much at all. The tension is pretty even so I think it will flatten out with a wash.

Although I think it would be great to have it done by Monday I'm not going to push it too much and risk a knit related injury.

When I was on walkabout with it today I could feel the weight of it in my shoulders.

I suspect that the shoulder thing is probably less weight than about knitting on 4.25mm needles and not mixing it much in the last few weeks.

20 March 2009

The fun just never stops

About four years ago I was taking classes in programming and Linux administration with an eye toward changing the career path back to writing code rather than writing about code.

The programming side of things was to sharpen old skills and the latter more to get the course credit than the skill set. Although I was prepping with community college courses, I'd already received a go ahead from UCSD to waive some of the prerequisites on the C classes I wanted to take based on my ancient assembler programming experience

That whole effort derailed when I had to go 'cross country to clear out my mother's apartment as her health was fading. The rest of that year was an emotional roller coaster not very conducive to success in school and that's without even touching on the less that helpful info about my work/life balance options.

'Round about the same time. There was noise about condo conversion. Back then it freaked me out because I couldn't really deal with the prospect of having to move on my own and all the disruption. Add to that the fact that at my income level I could neither afford to buy nor was I going to be seeing any help from the City.

Fast forward, I'm doing my master's (doing well so far btw thanks for asking), I've been laid off and the condo conversion is back on the horizon. Pish.

The fun news here just doesn't know when to quit. My initial reaction was uncharacteristically emotional and yeah, I'm thinking that that's a context thing and the fact that I've been in crazy hunker down mode for the last couple of days.

I've calmed down a bit. It isn't a must move now notice but it is another reminder that I need to manage the time and options before it all becomes crisis mode.

Finally reached sleeve division on the Something Sunny for Stacy front, and my faithfulness to the pattern has, as expected, already fallen by the wayside.

19 March 2009

Interesting stuff or hmmm

I need to make some changes on my personal and the guild's web pages.

On the personal page side of the house that's usually code for Liz at Needlecraft Cottage changed shop hours again. I usually wait a tick or six to see what else Liz is going to change.

Because of Ravelry I know that there are a few more group knitting events/groups going that I don't have up on my listing so it needs an update.
Even though I know that I'm never going to have a completely accurate list, it is worth taking an effort from time to time.

On the guild side of things we had some great ideas to invite the LYS to connect up a bit more with us and use some of the resources on our site to cross connect (or co-citation). I missed a couple of those (didn't make the queue) and others are not exactly the special e
vents announcements I think we were trying for.

In other LYS interesting moments, there's a strange mis-perception among some people (well, some people on Ravelry) that somehow Whistlestop Knitting is associated with The Grove.

The only way that's true is that they are within spitting distance of each other and the knitting connection is a secondary part of the underlying business model of both places but that's about it.

The Grove was, at one point, somewhat affiliated with the charity knitting group that meets on Sundays at Rebecca's (aka the coffee shop on the corner of Fern & Juniper).

What's really weird, is that apparently, The Grove has recently discontinued (yet again) their Thursday night knitting salons (original controversy was that they wanted to charge for the event) and moved them to Sunday afternoons and more specifically the first and third Sundays which just "happen" to be the same Sundays that Whistlestop knitting happens.

Is this a coincidence or crazy under cutting of other -- seriously within eye sight -- local group knitting events?

Yes, I know that The Grove has ardent fans that will pimp it/pump it up as the bomb of a knitting shop (all San Diego LYS have a core fan-actic base) but if those people are honest they will acknowledge that the shelf stock has been steadily dwindling and that lately, it barely has any yarn to speak of.

Some of us, self included, barely think of it as LYS anymore.

If you're a die hard The Grove lover -- make your case.

Convince me that they really are a LYS and committed to growing San Diego knitting beyond their bottom line. Heck, convince me that they are actually a LYS and with stock/inventory.

With this latest cut into someone else's gig, I just don't get it. Why wouldn't you outreach instead of compete? The obvious answer on that actually is that you think that your branding can trump the competition and lure that market segment into your realm.

Somehow I'm thinking that it isn't that well defined but it might be a blunder in dumb marketing moment that still might have an end result of hurting and subverting local knitting groups.

Then again, I'm not really getting the whole de-centralisation of San Diego knitting that's been happening over the last decade or so and maybe this is just part of that trend.

Photos on the day, a sweet little house from last Saturday's walkabout and another under the nose change. The 17 January blog entry showed a picture of someone's abandoned glass on a newspaper vending machine -- that vending machine is now gone. I honestly couldn't tell you when and seriously it is just under my nose.

18 March 2009

Something Sunny for Stacy

There's been a lot of gloom, doom, strum und on this here blog of late and it is long since time to get with the knitting and get back to my generally sunny personality.

To that end, this will be a light and fluffy blog entry.

First up, my new cell phone.

Other than the cost of the upgrade it's a zero cost item for me. Isn't it pretty? Nice photo, maybe Sony Ericsson should pay me for the image -- okay, maybe not, the phone's a discontinued model -- still nice snap eh?

Given the fact that I had my lost at TNNA phone for the better part of four years, I expect that this one and I will be together for a long time.

While I would normally recycle my old phone to battered women or other worthy projects I'm hesitant with the currently being retired phone since the reason it is being ditched is its unreliability, I'm having a not so much moment with that plan.

Current idea is that maybe I'll just hang onto it and the SIM that came with the new phone as a JIC (just in case) personal back up should the new phone walkaway from me unexpectedly.

I'm still not crazy about the whole icon interface and some of the functions are not going to be used since they will use services/charges that I'm not interested in paying for at this time.

I do plan to use the MP3 playing functions and the step counter and I'll learn to like or at least tolerate the icon interface eventually. For now it is just slog through getting contact numbers into the phone.

So if you know me and you think I have your number -- think again. Plenty of minutes on my plan so phone it in and help me get reconnected.

Moving onto the title of the posting there's this nice little snap of the Sunny Yellow Comfort Cardi for Stacy's 44 Sweaters effort. It is based on the Tater's Cotton Cardi from Marie Grace Designs but, as I said before, whether I will stay true to the design is anyone's guess.

Still, if you're thinking about doing a sweater for a kidling and especially a charity sweater for a kidling, free patterns are the bomb and this one is working up nicely.

Yes, there could be diagrams, there could be stitch counts, there could be place marker (PM) explicit instructions and I probably would have knit rather than purled the central seam stitch YO to make it an even more obvious marker (oy how she edits) but it is a free pattern and it works.

At 6" from cast on and on its way to 7.5", it is in semi-perpetual not growing, not growing, not growing mode as I work my way toward dividing and working the sleeves.

As any knitter will tell you this also means that it will also likely magically get too long and need to be frogged/ripped mode.

17 March 2009

Go Ko a go go and something about the date

I understand the need to be frugal in these tough economic times but I'm trying to figure out whether this sign indicates a less than effective reuse of a flyer from 2007, a reuse of 2007 calendar or if there's some other date problem at play.

Whatever the case it gave me a chuckle when I saw it posted on the footbridge that crosses Washington Street behind Trader Joe's.

Other photo on the day is just another oddity seen along the way home from the bank on Saturday the 14th of March.

I've had my Goko for two years now and the honeymoon isn't over yet. The Goko may have found some new admirers after tonight's road trip.

I am involved with an informal
knitting and crochet group that meets in the homes of the members in the North County Inland area of San Diego County. A number of the members are also former co-workers of mine.

One of the newer members of the group is a software engineer and crochet enthusiast who came home from a Oz/New Zealand trip with several hanks of 2-ply wool and no ball winder/swift to make them crochet ready.

The hostess of tonight's knitting night is a ball winder and swift owner, so Jess was in luck with that whole winding thing.

When I decided that I would, in fact, make the trip North to attend, I took the Goko with me to show it off and put it into service.

There was a nice spread of Saint Patrick's day appropriate nosh and background music on the day and that went well with the arrival of my new green cell phone.

Once the crochet Walrus project ran into another bump along the creation process, the winding was on.

We actually made pretty good use of it and I was doing pretty well hand winding a hank of Knit Once Crochet too Second Time Cotton until I dropped the hank off my shoulder and it snagged the chance to snarl.

Detangling was on order for the rest of the evening with one to four participants and lots of head shaking in the mix. Once Vicki was involved, well then we had a project manager and lots of laughs to boot.

The link is to the Goko product page at Village Spinning and Spinning and Weaving in Solvang but I actually bought mine from the marvelous Morgaine of Carolina Homespun. Not that I'm a fibre pusher or anything, or okay, so maybe I am.

16 March 2009

Grafty fishes, trees and sweaters

Nice close up shot of the completed graft that joins the two main panels of the fish afghan.

Pinned out it is about 41" by 35" so picking stitches to knit a unifying border treatment is still going to be an important part of the project.

Weaving ends is also still on the near horizon.

I'm reconsidering the double sided idea as possibly too ambitious and maybe also too heavy.

An old idea is coming back round to consideration and that is to deal with the problem of the individual fish ends (original inspiration for the double-sided solution) by sewing the other fishies on to them making only the fishies double sided. It's a cheat, but it is a good cheat.

In fact, had I gone down that path in the original construction, there would have been no fish ends to deal with as I would have done a joined two fish module, folded them and picked up stitches through both fishies.

I think that's how I will write the final design of this project.

How I will treat this prototype is still undecided. If I decide to abandon the double sided choice, then I have some live stitches on the back that I'll need to either bind off or frog back and graft.

Grafting, of course would be the better reversible and texture friendly choice but that would be 744 stitches to graft.

Somehow weaving in ends doesn't seem as tedious a task.

I am staying amused rather than annoyed that at every twist and turn with this I've circled back round to an earlier design solution.

The last of the leaves for the Tree Project are drying and waiting for a few ends to be woven before they are shipped off to Alabama.

The project got a little bit of a time extension so a few more leaves will be leaving from this little corner of California as a result.

The noise from the start up of the Saint Patrick's day parade carried across the canyon as I wandered home from doing the pension and 401K rollover paperwork on Saturday. I snapped the tree gate photo along the way.

Procrastinating on the picking up of stitches and end weaving part of the fish afghan, and not wanting to knit yet another leaf, I started looking round for the next project.

Needing something portable on the needles, I turned to the 44 sweaters project and cast on for a top down raglan in bright yellow Comfort. I'm actually knitting someone else's design for a change. How faithful I will be to the design remains to be seen.

15 March 2009

Fish Ides

As opposed to fish heads, rolly polly fish heads. Actually more about fish panels -- grafted. Started before the trek to Whistlestop and finished after the walk home -- all 372 ever loving stitches.

Almost didn't walk over because I got a text from the beautiful Barbie with regrets due to law school and I can relate because I was still struggling with a few assignments of my own but I needed the break and I thought that if the crowd was light I'd be able to spread the afghan out and gut through it.

It was a light crowd but I was delightfully surprised with an unexpected and very welcome North County visitor who also got to see yet another leaf in progress, a photo of the drying ones and the fish afghan in all its glory.

The ides, after are all one of my days -- the always emotional, never know quite how I'll feel day couple of days.

13 March 2009

State of California, I'm terribly sorry that your offices are overwhelmed but your citizens are even more overwhelmed -- 'effing fix it.

Close of biz today I'm officially a statistic and I might be a basket case before too long.

In case you haven't heard, the very broke state of California and the Employment Development Department have made a complete cock up of the process for the 10% of the population now unemployed. Nice huh?

I've already tried once this week to contact/figure out the nuances of filing for unemployment.

I was so stressed out on Wednesday that I forgot to ask for a copy of the paperwork before I left my former office.

Suddenly that matters because I'm supposed to know (and gods know I need to know) when the severance pay is supposed to kick in.

The online form has "help" for things that are pretty obvious and no help for things that are more confusing. I have several degrees, proficiency in English and I can't figure out the damned thing and worse still, the form informs me that if I get it wrong they may deny my claim -- terrific.

Maybe I'm over thinking but how am I supposed to know if you are asking how much a made full tilt over the last 18 months or how much per week or what. There's no explanation for this field. Then there's the severance thing total lump amount? Weekly amount? My I don't know what date it starts issue. Sigh.

The toll free number is overwhelmed so all you get is a recording that cuts out and drops you off.

Oh, and BTW, tax dollars paying literally a nickel every time that recording plays and directs you elsewhere.

The ever so helpful web page's Find an EDD Office link takes you to a Google map of Sacramento -- so helpful if you happen to be living in San Diego.

You can get it to give you San Diego but even then the EDD office types you can actually locate are for Employers doing the payroll tax issue, Disability Insurance Offices and One Stop Career Centers -- none of which, as far as I can tell, can offer any how do I fill this out help.

If you click around you can find a list of "EDD Workforce Services Offices" but those locations don't track to the map office locations and none of them are sensibly convenient.

Apparently, they closed most if not all local offices back in 1995 so now it is all telephone hell and bad web applications that may well lead you right back to telephone hell.

It's all getting reported but no local idiot news team or other bodies are taking the initiative to sort it and act as ombudsman. Based on the reporting I've seen it may be a big YMMV story of whether going to a local office, if you can find one, will make it better or worse.

Remember how I said I liked the IRS? Perfect case in point, you can find an answer to a federal question. State of California? Not so much.

Photos on the day are other signs of things not working, broken or otherwise lost along the way.

BTW, remember the tree that fell in the rain back in January and then got a reprieve? It's gone.

Didn't think it could survive, hope my roots are stronger than its and I can survive and maybe even thrive from this latest knock down.

12 March 2009

Not a nest egg

For fun and excitement today, I went off to my dentist appointment and came to a place of peace about the way forward with that little unexpected financial fun news.

And no, it wasn't even nitrous oxide induced peace, just a decision.

Not hearing from the DOE people, yesterday I had another special conversation with my friends at the IRS about whether using an early distribution of the pension and or 401K to settle the little unexpected debt would be considered a legitimate education expense that would not trigger the additional 10% penalty. That got a no based on an interpretation that the debt is not a current education cost.

So I have to go a different way with it.

BTW, I really do like the IRS. I know that sound crazy to people but they are actually remarkably reasonable and fairly transparent compared to many other agencies. I even have an application in with them.

It may well be that there's an accounting error on the DOE end and that I will be making a duplicate payment but I can't prove it and I can't spend the energy when other things need my attention and when everything else is just so raw.

It feels a lot like being sucked back into a very dark time and it is crazy making because I had no clue.

On top of it all, I've been hiding in plain sight and at any point, certainly within the last four years since I buried my mother, there have been many, many opportunities for them to have contacted me, done offsets or even seized assets and we would have been done and I could have long since absorbed the hit.

Coming in as this lovely surprise, it is very different situation but I need to make it go away even if that cuts hugely into what little I have to work with.

So another call to DOE, a different body on the other end and a settlement number.

Rest of the day studying, resumes, and sorting out the phone story.

Photos on the day from walkabout earlier this month. The continuing theme of utility box art and changes of note in the hood.

The shop window snap has quite the story.

In very recent years this storefront has been a vitamin/supplements shop, Amonite Beads, a real estate office, and now it is a boutique that looks to mix new and vintage/resale.

If memory serves, at one point this shop may also have been a retail shop sort of connected with the nearby Corvette Diner.

Other shop changes along 5th come in the form of what used to be The Irish Shop. In its newest in incarnation there's a tattoo parlor. Not entirely sure what Tommy Nolan would make of that.

And no, I still haven't woven in ends or grafted the fish panels and we will not be talking about swatching in Comfort Chunky.

11 March 2009

Return to RB -- loose ends and last looks

Today was the drop of equipment and paperwork to get through the process.

More importantly it was also deliver duck & blanket day. That part at least went well and Lucy looks great.

Like everything else since this all came down, my time line was not the factor because being sans badge, I had to escorted and the whole we'll put a lunch together just sort of went sideways. Oh well.

Running LAU and already on the road when I realised I'd forgotten some library books I had from the company library -- aaargh.

Raced back, and of course, I was sure I knew where they were, they weren't where I thought they were.

Actually more correctly, they were but I was so frazzled that I kept looking right next to where they were not where they were.

Finally snagged them and hit the road.

I can assure you that I haven't missed the drive. Just getting past the post office most days is a real experience.

And then the phone's getting worse. I was pulling off the freeway and thinking that I should phone to give an ETA even though in theory there was a 2 hour block of time reserved for the exercise and -- pish -- I'm off grid yet again.

So I had to twiddle my thumbs a bit waiting for my escort to return to desk and come fetch me.

Visitor badge not really working with the wardrobe choice for the day and all things considered bit of a blur or hugs and hellos and some not hellos -- odd that.

But a lay-off is a lot like death and divorce.

People just aren't comfortable so they react oddly. If they are in the same stressful environment you've been laid-off from the strangeness is all the more.

I don't know if the etiquette elephant could help with this but it was too good of a tie in not to include this photo of a sticker I saw on walkabout earlier this month.

It's remarkable how many people had no clue that I'm gone. Oh well, I had cards, I had resumes. I didn't an opportunity to get them to everyone or even chance to talk to everyone before it was time to roll South.

I stopped at the TJs in Carmel Mountain and started obsessing about getting the sticker off my truck windshield. Dunno why but it was fighting with me and it's still only half on and half off but for some reason I just want it gone.

Then I rolled over to the Post Office to send off the silly little "duck-aid" tins to my group project team members.

Those are photos on the day. Well, that's the first photo. I painted out some Mintz tins with chrome metallic paint. Add a devil duckie pirate pencil topper and a couple of devil duckie adhesive bandages and you've got silly bit of whimsy.

The other duck photo is of the 50 cents each super mini devil duckies from the bins at Babette Schwartz. I used a push pin to pierce them and when I can find my stash of head pins they will become devil duckie earrings.

10 March 2009

Leave-ing it at that and more sidewalks

Weekend wrap up.

Still not sleeping well.

The draft got done.

The assignment got turned in.

The term paper topic was proposed and blessed (mixed feelings on that one),

I got a couple more reasonable walks in.

I picked up supplies for the silly group project gift for my team members.

Sounds great right? Actually not too bad.

Although I didn't go to a party that might have cheered me up because I was feeling a lot like little miss rain cloud considering how the week is going, I'm seeing the weekend as a good one.

One of the orange leaves is somewhat over the size suggested so it may get replaced before the lot get shipped off to Alabama.

I did discover that I truly detest Microsoft Word 2007. My current how to cope with it is to save stuff out as XML so I can do the real edits in Open Office and pull it back into Word only at the end point.

I've had to use Microsoft Office for years now and every new version is an exercise in productivity hit since whatever you were used to, whatever you were proficient at, has probably been moved, changed, abandoned.

Long live open source, long live Open Office.

Most of of my Monday was about waiting, still waiting on a point of clarification I had about the RIF plan and release form. The call finally came in very close to COB so it was a more or less wasted day on the walkabout side of things.

I did, however, breathe a lot of paint fumes while painting out tins to house the group silly stuff.

Tuesday's highlight was hearing from one of my dearest friends but the low light was pretty amazing.

Started out with a roll out the door and try to connect with my money guy to discuss the pension and 401K choices. I thought was going to be at one branch but no joy there so I rambled down to the other and managed to miss him. Phone dropping out of network really starting to get crazy making through this.

But we did talk and discuss some numbers, some choices, some general catching up since obviously things have changed from December to today and set an appointment up to work a strategy based on my school focus etc.

In while I'm not doing school stuff, I've been number crunching and trying to figure out what has to get cut now, what's on the table for next and generally trying to figure out how I can keep afloat and stay on the path with school and all not go through what I went through back in the early 80s when I originally wanted this degree.

When I embarked on this degree programme during such shaky economic times I noted that, well, if I lost my job I would at least be able to get some financial aid that I would not have been able to receive before. So I dutifully went along and started the online form to get that going.

Little unexpected gotcha. I am confident that my mother was sure that she had, in fact, fulfilled her promise to me and paid off my student loans. I had no reason to doubt her and frankly, when I buried her four years ago, finding paperwork to document that was not even on my to-do list since it was common knowledge that she had.

Well, turns out, not quite and I found this out today.
Could the timing be worse? Not much.

Does this feel like a total sucker punch? Well, yes, yes it does. Am I having an extreme emotional response? Well, yes, yes, I am.

09 March 2009

Political Signs and Sidewalks

On Friday, I was trying to work on some additional guidelines and rules for data entry for the group project as I think that's an area where we sort of relied on terse comments and an expectation that we'd be working with a "reasonable" cataloger who would have some knowledge of the collection.

I found myself falling down a bit of a rabbit hole as I tried to hack out rules for every decision point so when I went walkabout and really pushed myself to get in some mileage.

I had yet another leaf in progress and I was making some changes to the ad hoc pattern that would help increase for the border icord when the piece got to the size when it was time to split the sections.

It was mostly working until I realised that I needed a different positioning of the increases for the sides and the centre -- duh, frog central.

For some reason or another all the sidewalk signs in the last couple of days seemed to be have a lot of political stuff going on.

I'm sure I must have walked by this Dick Cheney stencil many times without triggering on it or maybe I just always walked by when the whole stop and take a picture would not have been a clever move.

Then there was the clear buy local theme of the tractor stencil.

I've actually seen one or more of those stencils around and have even tried to get a decent shot before.

I've often found it amusing how close this stencil is to the Tractor Room. I'm not suggesting that the country boy had anything to do with the art but I like the positioning.

Not sure whether the wake up call on the utility box was related to the strange little creatures on the nearby sidewalk and wall and I'm not sure what they are all about but I like them.

They look familiar but I'm not sure whether that's because I've "seen" them but not really noticed them before or if they are a from some other reference point that my brain is refusing to serve up right now.

It's been that way lately.

My good intentions of just knuckling down and concentrating on school could only last so long before the sheer reality of all the up in the air questions and bubbled up and had to be confronted.

It isn't that not I'm taking steps and taking stock, I am but the racing thoughts and pure stress of it are had to surface at some point.

Now that the relief over the other stresses associated with just how toxic things were feeling at work the last couple month is fading, the stress of not having that job are slamming into me.

In today's other annoyance, is the fact that the replacement cell phone is behaving less and less reliably. It seems to always be fine when I'm home but other places less so.

While I was rambling over into Mission Hills, I kept getting the dreaded "no network coverage" which is pretty much an off the grid status and the turn it off and on and other work around not happening.

This is very not good when the number is the number out there for job opportunities and such.

And I need my exercise not just for the see less of me more often factor but also for mental health so the phone has to keep me connected.

I had noticed this occasional trend up in the wilds of RB previously but it is now getting worrisome.

On Saturday, I started the day with a empty the truck run to Old Town Recycling where I gave some of my stuff away and got some stuff from other fellow recyclers then I ran an errand over in the Morena area.

Along the way, I caught sight of this little bit of commentary right in the middle of Old Town and had to flip back around to catch the shot.

In another my that's interesting, how did I miss that Old Town moment, I noticed that there have been some changes at the Mormon Battalion building. Looks like a major renovation is in progress.

05 March 2009

Labels aren't everything but I like these

A few years back, my day job went on a big Introvert/extrovert define Myers Briggs types kick and, while I found it interesting, I also found it terribly flawed on several levels.

What I recall most is that, while it was supposed to be team building and instead you had those who defined themselves as introverts expressing a bit of aggression at those they defined as extroverts for tiring and/or wearing them out.

I found the whole experience to be a bit disturbing and this whole us versus them business to be a serious facilitator failure.

Perhaps because I've always been a serious borderline personality on such intro/extro silly scales, I just don't get all wrapped up in types and labels -- too much like shorthand that keeps you from actually paying attention to the person in the moment.

Sometimes I get energy from people and sometimes they drain me. Some people drain me more than others.

And for those of you just convinced I'm such an extrovert, how come I can literally go for days without uttering a single word to another living soul and be okay with that? The answer is that I'm not that much of an extrovert but I'm also not that much of an introvert either

So mostly I don't think that labels make much sense and they should never be relied upon as predictive of behaviour.

I can pretty confident that I've always had some if not all of the behaviours that earned me the need and geek labels but I also know that very few people would have believed I had any of those inclinations or labeled me as such when I was in my t-decades.

On Ravelry, one of the few groups I belong to is the GeekCraft group and that's where the series of silly tests came into my life.

I may be a total computer freak but I am more nerd than geek and I'm not much of a dork.

Here's the first test result:

78% nerd, 35% geek and 9% dork.

On a peer to peer basis, I was:

88% more nerdish
46% more geekish
03% more dorkish

So does this mean that most women my age are more dorky than I am? I feel so socially adept.

Second round:

I am nerdier than 98% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and talk on the nerd forum!

And the latest:

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd Queen.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!