Archive for February, 2006

Knitting Olympics.

February 25, 2006

So I have been doing that “Knitting Olympics” thing, where you attempt to knit an entire project during the sixteen days of the Winter Olympics. If you are a knitter and you read knitting weblogs, you have probably heard of it, since 4000+ people signed up for it, so most knitting bloggers out there are either talking about how they’re doing it or explaining why they’re not doing it. So here’s my token post about my Knitting Olympics project, and why I will not be finishing it before tomorrow night.

I’m knitting “Happi” by Cheryl Oberle, and I’d love to show you a picture of the completed garment, but there’s nothing available online. It’s a lace-patterned, Japanese-inspired jacket–very pretty–and I’m knitting it in a gorgeous grape-colored wool-mohair blend. I received the kit as a Christmas gift, because, I assure you, there is no freakin’ way I could afford to shell out $150 for a kit, no matter how beautiful, when I’m about to mortgage my soul and the souls of all my future offspring in order to build a house.

I finished the back/body within the first week of the Olympics. I knitted diligently, every evening, while the Olympics played in the background. I didn’t take my project to work, or take time off work to knit–I just worked on it in the evening. Last Sunday, it was time to do the three-needle bindoff for the shoulders. I don’t hate finishing, but I don’t like it, so I decided that it might be easier to finish as I go rather than devoting a bunch of time at the end of the project to finishing the garment.

I’ve done three-needle bindoff before, always with crappy results. I used three-needle bindoff for the hood of a baby sweater that I made for a gift last year. This baby sweater was made out of a pretty-but-really-annoying-to-work-with yarn, and the three-needle bindoff was a pain in the ass because the yarn kept splitting. Also, I didn’t follow the directions properly and the seam ended up on the outside of the hood. It didn’t look bad, but it didn’t look the way it should look. When I tried to pull out the yarn and re-do the seam, the yarn wouldn’t budge, so I just left it. It didn’t matter in the end, because the sweater’s recipient is so stinking cute that she could wear a Hefty garbage bag and still look like the most precious little baby on earth.

This time, I didn’t want to mess it up, because I can’t pull off just anything, and because this kit was so expensive that I’d better make sure I can get my money’s worth (er, my mom’s money’s worth) out of the finished product. So I pulled out my Vogue Knitting reference, followed the directions to the T, and started my three-needle bindoff. I was kicking some bindoff ass, and then I noticed a hole where I had (apparently) dropped a stitch and not noticed.

I went back and pulled out the bindoff, totally messing up the last few rows of each side of the garment. I unraveled and picked up the stitches–something that I am not very good at–and re-knit what I messed up. Then I started the three-needle bindoff again, thinking to myself “I am going to be much more careful this time. I do not want to do this again.”

I got through the whole three-needle bindoff, and it looked good. I didn’t drop anything, there were no holes, just a nice, neat little shoulder seam. Good, good! Then I spread the garment out on the floor, and realized that, somehow, I had twisted the left side of my sweater into some kind of freakish Moebius. I farted around with it for a few minutes, trying to untwist it, and I quickly became frustrated. Tim was sitting next to me on the couch, so I thrust the sweater into his unsuspecting arms and said, “FIX IT!” as if he could work some super-special magic to untwist the untwistable. He couldn’t, so he handed it back to me, and I promptly had a very juvenile but totally necessary fit and threw the thing across the room in frustration. It sat there for a few minutes, until I realized how stupid it was for me to throw the sweater across the room, then I got up quietly and got back to work undoing my three-needle bindoff YET AGAIN.

The second time, I managed to not screw up the whole thing. I dropped very few stitches when I pulled out the bind-off, so I was able to pick up the top row without much hassle. The THIRD time, I was so careful and meticulous that it was just plain silly. But I got it done, and I got it done right. Needless to say, when I did the other shoulder, I paid a LOT of attention and didn’t make the same mistake. I got it right the first time, and yay for that, because I don’t think I could have handled another series of dumb-assed mistakes.

Once I finished the body, I proceeded to the sleeves, which are knit in the round. The first ten rows are in garter stitch, so I was able to zip right through that. I got to the third lace row of the first sleeve when I noticed that, yet again, I had managed to turn an otherwise lovely piece of knitting into a Moebius. I don’t know how I did it, and I probably couldn’t have done it if I was TRYING to do it, but I ended up unraveling the entire sleeve and starting over.

The following evening, I decided to take a night off from knitting. When I get to the point where I’m making mistakes like turning a sleeve into a Moebius, I think it’s time for a break. Since then, I’ve been taking it easy with the knitting. The truth is, I still have a hard time knitting without looking at what I’m doing, so it’s really affected my ability to actually watch the Olympics. I’ve never been absolutely committed to earning that little gold medal graphic for my weblog–I like to keep things kind of minimalist around here, as you may have noticed. I signed up for the challenge, and to see if I could really complete an entire project in sixteen days. Even though I probably won’t be completing the project by tomorrow night at 10 PM, I know that I could have if I had managed to apply myself a little bit more. It’s kind of like being valedictorian of my high school class or earning a 4.0 GPA in college–sure, I could have done it, but I wouldn’t have had very much fun on the way, so why bother?

I’ve enjoyed working on Happi. It was somewhat of a challenge, and it’s made me more confident in my mad knitting skillz. And I will finish it, and soon–it’s so pretty that I can’t let it languish in my pile of unfinished projects. But it won’t be done by tomorrow night, so perhaps someone can make me a tiny little “DNF” graphic for my weblog or something.

A cataloger’s humble plea.

February 24, 2006

Dear Someone Who Has the Authority to Update OCLC Authority Records,

Could you please update the authority record for Tupac Shakur, ARN# 3448530? He was shot almost ten years ago. Yes, there’s information about his death in the 670 fields, but the authorized form of his name is still listed as “Shakur, Tupac, #d 1971-“. I know there are people who believe that Tupac is still alive, but there are also people who believe that Elvis is still alive, and his authority record was updated at some point to include the year of his death. Also, the Notorious B.I.G. has a date of death in his authority record–granted, it’s in one of the unauthorized forms of heading, but still…at least it’s updated. Is this some kind of East Coast-West Coast thing? If so, I don’t get it, because OCLC is in Ohio, and last time I checked, Ohio was not on any coast. Unless you’re counting the coast of Lake Erie, and I’m not.

I tried to update and replace the record, and I got the infamous “not authorized to replace record” message. I can change it locally, but when our library system does its quarterly authority control, it’ll just get changed back to whatever form is currently on OCLC. And that form happens to be incorrect.

I think maybe someone should be assigned the role of updating authority records when people die. I think I would enjoy doing this–checking the newspaper and various magazines for high-profile deaths and updating the authority records accordingly. It’s a morbid task, yes, but it is a necessary task. Our users do notice that people tend to “live forever” in the catalog. It makes us look out of touch and foolish, like we didn’t get the memo that so-and-so is no longer alive. Like perhaps we were too busy shushing people or measuring the size of books (in centimeters) or constructing Dewey numbers to pay attention to popular culture.

Also, I know that Douglas Adams died several years ago, but in our library catalogs, he lives on! Eternally! With Tupac!

Please fix it. Seriously.

Your cataloging buddy,
-Nanette

Laffy Taffy: Shaken.

February 23, 2006

I learned a new choreography in my bellydance class tonight. It’s called “Arabian Spices,” and, though I cannot seem to manage to get my feet to go where they need to go, the arm motions look cool. Fortunately for me, there’s a DVD available, and a QuickTime movie of the choreography too, so I can practice at home. Believe me, I need all the practice I can get. I enjoy bellydancing, but I need to devote some time to practice so I can improve. One hour per week just isn’t cutting it, and I probably need remedial help when it comes to coordinating my hands with my feet. I am pretty kickass when it comes to playing the zills, though, and I was able to pick up the basic veil moves easily, so I am not entirely hopeless.

I love dancing in general, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but when I’m supposed to do specific moves at specific times, I have problems. I took a jazz dance class in college–I was trying to get some exercise (as if walking up four flights of steps to my dorm room wasn’t enough) and I thought it might be fun. It’s the only class I’ve ever come close to failing–well, aside from 8th grade algebra, but I blame that on the teacher. Fortunately, I was able to drop it three weeks before the end of the semester due to a weird administrative loophole, so it didn’t damage my fantabulous GPA. I’d chalk my failings in the jazz dance class up to my dislike of the music we danced to (Marky Mark, anyone? How about some Right Said Fred?) but I like the music in the bellydance class, and I’m still uncoordinated like you wouldn’t believe.

I know that I’ll catch on if I practice enough, though. Unlike jazz dance, bellydance is something I actually want to learn to do well. There are some possible performance opportunities associated with my current class, and I love performing–but only if I can do it well. I’m too damn old to make an ass of myself in public–I’ll leave that to the kids.

Laffy Taffy.

February 23, 2006

On the way home from work this fine afternoon, I heard a song on the radio that encouraged me to “shake that Laffy Taffy.” Since no parts of my body are reminiscent of Laffy Taffy (or Now ‘n Laters, or any other type of candy that was ridiculously popular among the students I taught back in my Catholic schoolteachin’ days), I decided to dust off my musty ol’ reference librarian skillz and do a bit of research.

According to the Urban Slang Dictionary, “laffy taffy” means ass.

So I am now off to my bellydancing class to shake my laffy taffy, which I will decorate with a jingly hipscarf!

Buy D.I.Y.: Some Recommendations

February 22, 2006

For Valentine’s Day, my husband bought me some cool handmade goodies. I love getting handmade stuff as gifts (and I love buying it for myself as well). There’s tons and tons of online craft businesses out there–here’s a few of my personal favorites:

Young and With It Industries is the “home of the chicken butt.” I have the chicken butt matchbook notepads (a Christmas gift from Tim) and the chicken butt stationery (a Valentine’s Day gift from Tim). Clint and Dixie are super-nice–they’ve included extra goodies in both of Tim’s orders, and they always send a very nice handwritten note as well. (This really impressed Tim, especially since they remembered him when he ordered from them a second time.) Really clever stuff, made by nice people!

Emily Martin describes herself as a “curiosity peddlar and picture scribbler.” I purchased a print from her (the Smiths Girl), and she created a fabulous custom painting, which was my Valentine’s Day gift to Tim. I gave her a rather sketchy idea, and she brought it to life, fabulously. She’s very sweet and super-pleasant to work with. Besides, what’s cooler than having your own custom-made piece of art?

I found Pixelgirlshop via someone’s link to their Lego Man Bracelets, which are super-funky. Because I have absolutely no willpower whatsoever, I also bought a set of hair clips (sorry, no link–they don’t have them any more). I ordered right after the holidays, so they were low on Lego Man bracelets and my order took a while to ship. Though it definitely wasn’t necessary–I was expecting the delay!–I received an extra set of hair clips with my order, along with a really nice note apologizing for the delay. Now that’s customer service! Pixelgirlshop has a diverse array of items for sale in a variety of price ranges. If you like handmade stuff, you’ll probably find something good here.

Yankee Girl Designs sells pretty jewelry. I found Lindsey through The Sampler community–she was having a sale, and I took a look at her web site, found something I liked, and sent Tim an e-mail saying “hey! Here’s a good gift idea if you were, uh, thinking about buying me a gift!” (Yes, he took the hint, and I got a lovely bee-themed necklace for Valentine’s Day.) I’ve got my eye on the bird’s nest necklace–maybe for my birthday. Lindsey is a fellow library worker, so that’s another bonus!

Emotion Lotion is the best (and, perhaps, only) place to purchase a set of buttons based on R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet.” I bought three sets–they’re great gifts for people who are amused by R. Kelly and his so-bad-it’s-brilliant lyrics. Emotion Lotion also sells a wide variety of non-R. Kelly-related merch, includng a number of buttons featuring Morrissey/Smiths lyrics and lines from the classic television comedy series Mr. Show. If you really want to advertise that “five-inch taint” you’ve got going on, you can get the button (or magnet, or ring) here. They’ve also added some buttons featuring quotes and photos from Arrested Development, which (in my not-at-all humble) is the best comedy since Mr. Show. I remember April and David from back in the Amplified to Rock days–they’re great people, and their store kicks ass. It looks like they’ll take requests and suggestions, and they can hook you up if you need custom buttons.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good grab bag, and The Sampler is a monthly grab bag of “samples” from various online D.I.Y. shops. Last time I subscribed (back in November), a 3-month subscription went for about $50. It’s been well worth the money, as I’ve received some real treasures. (And yeah, I’ve received some not-so-great stuff as well, but the good stuff makes it all worthwhile.) If you’re not so sure, you can check out the “sneak peeks” section of the web site–Marie posts photos of all of the contributions, as well as links to their web sites.

Still unsure

February 22, 2006

I am still not set on the title of this weblog. I may change it.

On CD cataloging, and children singing popular music

February 22, 2006

We are short one cataloger, so as a result, I’m picking up some extra cataloging. Since I don’t get to catalog all that much, and since I do enjoy cataloging, this is exciting for me. Not only am I cataloging, but I am cataloging audiovisual materials, which gives me ample opportunity to do things like insert added entries for every guest artist on a hip hop album. This sometimes means that there are numerous added entries on some of these records, which causes some irritation when it comes to controlling the headings, but you never know when someone is going to want the collected works of Bun B, right?

My pile of items includes stuff I have been waiting for (I Am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons, which was out of stock the last time I went CD shopping; Arular by M.I.A.), some stuff that I am amazed that our library does not own (What’s the 411? by Mary J. Blige), as well as some, uh, crap (i.e., the latest album by Silverchair). 

Also included: children’s CDs. Whenever I catalog children’s CDs, I start reconsidering my desire to have children. Especially when the latest edition of the Kidz Bop series passes through my dirty little paws. 

Kidz Bop, for the uninitiated (and you are likely one of the uninitiated if you do not have children under the age of eleven and/or a hankering for musical oddities) is a series of CDs featuring children (and, seemingly, one adult) singing the latest pop hits. Usually, it’s pretty typical top-40 stuff–some light R&B, a little bit of Ashlee Simpson, perhaps some Avril Lavigne. But every so often, they sneak in something so incongruous that you just think…wha? What posessed the svengalis behind the Kidz Bop series to select that song?

Kidz Bop 7 featured a chorus of prepubescent children performing…wait for it…”Float On” by Modest Mouse. Forget Sun Kil Moon. You haven’t truly heard a Modest Mouse cover until you’ve listened to a herd of kids (and some adult who I persist in calling “their handler”) performing “Float On.” It was so freaky that I couldn’t listen for very long. The newest installment of Kidz Bop (that would be Kidz Bop 8) features a cover of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand. And no, I am not going to listen to it.

Also, there is a Kidz Bop version of the One Tree Hill theme song. I am sure that it is not as good as my “Karaoke Revolution Party” version of the One Tree Hill theme song, which is truly epic.

All of this makes me terrified that I am going to spawn a child who somehow happens to get exposed to Kidz Bop through a friend (or through the television–they must be marketing this somewhere) and subsequently becomes obessed with it, thus sentencing me to several years’ worth of repeated listenings to sanitized versions of popular songs performed by children (and, uh, their handler).

It also makes me wonder how my mom didn’t go nuts when I was obsessed with the Alvin and the Chipmunks classic Urban Chipmunk. I almost wore that album out when I was eight years old. Hey, she bought it for me. Enabler.