Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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September 2002
September 29 2002
The roads are slick. Be careful out there people.
Last night I took E to a graveyard shift. This morning I picked him up. Since then I've counted seven traffic incidents. Sure, they didn't all involve two or more vehicles, but enough did. It's raining. It hasn't rained for a long time. That means the oil used to lay down asphalt is drawn to the surface and guess what, the roads are slick. So be careful, people.

September 28 2002
Tracy versus the Vinca.
I hate the Vinca Minor. Oh sure it's a hardy evergreen ground cover with pretty white or purple flowers in spring. But it is evil and insidious. It spreads. I can cope with ivy, sending its runners above ground, making it relatively easy to pull. But vinca runners creep underground, shooting roots into the soil and binding the dirt into a thick mat. It's damned near impossible to pull. Vinca's worse crime to date? It tried to eat my azalea.

Today I had my revenge upon the vinca. I hacked and I whacked, I dug and I pulled. I succeeded in severely cutting back the vinca, making a clear demarcation zone between it and the rest of the garden. Take that, Vinca Minor.

September 27 2002
Who turned off the water?
The city, that's who. No I haven't fallen behind in paying my bills despite lack of steady employment for ten months. The city has finally finished laying a new water main and is executing the switch today. We will be without running water for 7-1/2 hours. We set water aside for washing, drinking and flushing. I was sure to take my shower before 8:30AM. It will be interesting to see just how much water we actually use during the day.

On to the Friday Five, courtesy of
  1. What are your favorite ways to relax and unwind?
    Knitting. Also drinking.
  2. What do you do the moment you get home from work/school/errands?
    Check for phone messages. Tend to the cats. If I've been grocery shopping, I put stuff away. I don't donsider the errand completed until everything is put away and I can move on to the next task. Then I can knit.
  3. What are your favorite aromatherapeutic smells?
    Wool yarn. Silk yarn. Vanilla. Sesame oil. Kitties.
  4. Do you feel more relaxed with a group of friends or hanging out by yourself?
    Doesn't matter as long as I'm knitting. Or drinking.
  5. What is something that you feel is relaxing but most people don't?
September 26 2002
"Hey Satan, how about some lovin'?" "No, Saddam, I'm with Chris now."*
I've been listening to the congressional discussions on whether how why when what use will it be what happens after we invade Iraq on NPR. I'm probably a politically naive wussy, but I can't figure out what gives us the right to invade Iraq. The best I can figure out is because we can.

We can agree Saddam is an evil man who is in bed with Satan. But what gives any one nation the right to demand a change of government in another country? I subscribe to the Confucian version of the Golden Rule: Do not do to men what you do not want men to do to you. What do you suppose would happen if some other country called for "regime change" in the United States for whatever reason, legitimate or otherwise? We'd laugh at them and say it's none of their business. Of course, in the US, we have the ability to execute our own "regime change" every four years, so it's not quite the same.

Still, it seems to me that this sort of activity should fall to the United Nations, not any single nation. Of course, we all know the UN is pretty toothless when it comes to enforcing its own resolutions against member nations. So it falls to the US to do the heavy lifting (*cough* Korea *cough* Gulf War *cough*). Coming back 'round to the Golden Rule, the US would never accept UN jursidiction over its internal and external affairs in the same way we expect other nations to.

Feh. I should pay more attention to history.

September 25 2002
How spam gets made.
Now when I get a crapload o' spam in my inbox, I'll know it's my own damn fault. I just registered on so I could get access to a nifty little utility called guestmap (see icon at left). It's safe for you to click on, don't worry. Go ahead. It's kind of fun. But for once I actually read the licensing agreement. By registering, I have just opted in with a bunch of affiliate advertisers. *Sigh*.

Despite what I wrote a week back, the rains of fall have not yet begun. I was wrong. We are enjoying a continuation of glorious summer into autumn. Despite what anyone else will tell you, this is *not* Indian Summer. Indian Summer is unseasonably warm and pleasant weather following the first frost. I used to have a roommate who insisted on calling every big pretty moon she saw a Harvest Moon. For the record, the Harvest Moon is the first full moon following the autumnal equinox. Look for it this year on Oct 21 Hunters' Moon is the second full moon following the autumnal equinox.

September 20 2002
Friday Five.
Can you name the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment? Most Americans can't. Answer here, you cheater.

Since 1997, the First Amendment Center, an independent affiliate of the Freedom Forum, has been surveying American's attitudes toward the First Amendment. This year's findings are frightening to anyone who believes that our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms (as opposed to Joy of Pepsi) are what make ours a unique and great nation:

For the first time in our polling, almost half of those surveyed said that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. About 49% said the First Amendment gives us too much freedom, up from 39% last year and 22% in 2000.
-, We lose sight of our rights when freedom and fear collide by Kenneth A. Paulson

September 19 2002
Arrr, matey.
Today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. It is also our 10th wedding anniversary. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Also, at long last, a link to baby photos for new nephew Alden, born Aug 2 2002. Notice the contrast between Ellen's expressions in the first and last pictures. Anticipation meets reality.

September 16 2002
Here come the rains.
The rains have begun.

Usually I look forward to the changing of the seasons. By the time a new season rolls around, I've gotten pretty sick of the current one. Not this summer. This has been the first year in several we had summer all summer long. Hot and dry, gorgeous weather. I thoroughly enjoyed it, being at leisure (read: unemployment benefits not yet run out).

My computer is so weird. Sometimes I think it is infected with a weird benign virus. Isn't Norton supposed to protect against that sort of thing? Just a few moments after I turned it on today, my "start" button in the lower left corner (I'm on a PC, running Win98) changed its appearance. Here's a fuzzy view: weird start button
I took this picture with my digital camera. If this were a Mac, I could do a true screen shot, instead of "print screen" that just takes picture of the current application window. Of course, if this were a Mac, it wouldn't do this in the first place. Any ideas? Anyone?

September 14 2002
To knit or not to knit.
That is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of The Knitting Guild of America, or to just bag the Handknitter Master Program?

I just got my submission for the TKGA Handknitter Master Program Level 2 returned with criticisms. I'm sufficiently irritated to consider whether I want to even bother with resubmitting the requested items. I'm not getting anything out of this beyond being able to say I met someone else's standards. There's nothing in the three levels of the program that I haven't already done several times.

What really got my goat was the criticism that I didn't follow directions regarding four book reviews. They were specified to be 1/2 page single-spaced or one page double-spaced. When you've got complete control over type point size, page length is a meaningless measure. Word count is more useful, though it does encourage wordinness. If I had just formatted my book reviews with 12pt type instead of 10pt, they probably would have passed muster. No critique of the content, just of the form.


September 11 2002
I am an idiot.
But I'm a lucky idiot. When I went through security for my return flight in San Jose, I realized I had packed my knitting in my backpack instead of my gear bag which had already been checked. Oops. No sharp pointy objects allowed, especially on Sept 11. No major hassle though, all I had to do was take my backpack to the Alaska Airlines counter to be checked through. Easy breezy, lemon squeezy.

Halfdome, Yosemite National ParkHalfdome. I got this shot of the Halfdome at Yosemite National Park from a small aircraft yesterday afternoon. Carol's boyfriend Tom is a small aircraft pilot. Tuesday we took a plane ride to Columbia, CA for lunch and a walk around that historic gold-mining town. On the return we flew over Yosemite. I got to "fly" the plane, which consisted of trying to keep the wings and nose level. It was a little scary, knowing that if I pushed the hand controls forward we would dive. That was a little out of my comfort zone, but thrilling nonetheless.

September 6 2002
Do you know the way to San Jose?
This is it, we're flying today for San Jose, then rent a car and drive to Monterey Bay for 4 days of all-girl butt-kicking fun. On the more serious side, you can read my essay on PAWMA, or visit the PAWMA web site.

I'll be back Wed, Sept 11, and will not be able to check e-mail until then. We'll see how well I can handle the withdrawal.

September 5 2002
Mutants in my garden.
mutant roseA close up view of a mutant rose in my garden. I suspect it is infected with some funky virus. That's a common source of flower mutations. Did you know that fancy tulips with color streaks and frilly edges are the results of virus infection?

Our garden faces south, which makes it perfect for growing flowers. A little too perfect, if you ask me. I've got an African daisy plant of enormous proportions. The vinca minor is battling the ivy for dominance. A few years back I planted cosmos that grew into five-foot tall trees. I've seen cosmos since in other people's gardens and they're not supposed to be that big.

If you think this is trippy, check out the source code. One line does it all. This psychofunkadelic op-art day trip brought to you by Ruben.

September 4 2002
PAWMA preparations.
In a couple days I'll be boarding a big airplane and flying with my kung fu buddies to an all women's martial arts camp, held this year in Monterey Bay at a New Age yoga retreat center. What will they think of us, shouting and fighting and waving our weapons around?

Since I'll be gone for a few days, I'm getting the house and garden in order. I've got a garden full of weeds that needs tending. Change the cat litter. Go grocery shopping so E has food while I'm gone. I'm sure he'd starve without me otherwise.

September 1 2002
Sunday serendipity.
My tastes must be changing. I've never cared for Indian food. It's not the spiciness - I love Szechuan, Hunan and Thai cuisines - it's the flavor of the spices. Today we went to Swagat for lunch. I kept my mouth shut, since everyone else wanted to go. When we walked in, I was struck with how good the food smelled. I helped myself to a wonderful buffet and really enjoyed it.

Everyone misspells sometimes. That's why we have proofreaders. So who approved an ad on the side of the Max light rail train describing a "panaramic view"?

And a Happy Birthday to my Dad who is 74 today.