Thursday, November 27, 2008

Are you experienced?

So there's a test I've seen on blogs and livejournals about life experiences; as usual it seems somewhat aimed more at teenagers and young adults than people my age, but I still found the results interesting.

The Life Experience Test

Overall, you have partaken in 110 out of 174 possible life experiences.
Your average life experience score is therefore 63%.

The average score is 49%, making your experiences more than 86% of the people who have taken this test.
The average for your age group (36-55) is 54%.

Broken down by category:
Art: 10/17 (59%)

Career & Work: 11/13 (85%)

Civics & Technology: 5/7 (71%)

Crime & Disarray: 3/11 (27%)

Education: 9/18 (50%)

Fashion: 13/15 (87%)

Fitness, Health and Sports: 4/7 (57%)

Life in General: 10/14 (71%)

Relationships: 13/14 (93%)

Religion & Politics: 1/4 (25%)

Social: 17/22 (77%)

Travel: 6/20 (30%)

Vices: 8/12 (67%)

Take the test and see how YOU compare

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Figuring it out for myself

I have knitted for four years now. I have knitted hats and scarves galore, a dozen or more pairs of fingerless mitts (knit in the round, with cables), a couple of baby sweaters, and some robots (like teddy bears but robots, get it?). I have cast on and knitted a couple of inches on a pullover sweater for me. But I have been completely intimidated by socks.

There's this complicated-looking thing you have to do to make fitted socks. Tube socks, sure, you just knit around and around until you like the length and you're done; but the sock on your foot probably has a right angle in the ankle/heel area with one arm going along your foot and the other arm reaching up your leg. It's called turning the heel: you knit a rectangle down the back of the foot and then turn your work to knit from there circularly towards the toes. I've read many sock patterns and I just couldn't figure out how it worked; even the most basic sock, which is just an inch or two of ribbing above the foot still needs that turned heel.

I finally found a pattern that I could make sense of, one with pictures and reassuring admonishments to just follow the directions and it would work. And I was pretty sure, after reading through the pattern a few times, that I could do it--I could follow the directions, anyway, and supposedly I would produce a sock.

So I measured my ankle and cast on some stitches to check my gauge, and plugged those numbers into the formula. I cast on and did a couple inches of ribbing and then...

I knit the heel flap. It hung down from the nice anklet-shaped ribbing, a rectangular flap of stitches waiting for me to do the next thing. So I did: I turned the heel, following the directions to knit short rows, picking up a stitch off the other needles at the end of each one to join the work. Joy! It worked! I had a little 90 degree cup at the end of the flap, just as if it were hugging around my heel to the sole of my foot.

So this shelf-shaped thing was hanging from the ribbing, and I had to turn the flat piece into a round one. This was where I lost my way. The instructions said to do something and I just couldn't make sense out of it. After counting all the stitches on the 3 needles and reading them through again, I had the "a ha!" moment and continued following the pattern. And here it is, so far:

The heel is at the top left; top right is the ribbing that would go around your ankle. The needles at the bottom are in the open section where I am knitting towards the toe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To make it safe

If you have to perform a long list of extraordinary precautions to make something safe enough to do, maybe you should reconsider doing it at all.

GirlHacker points to a story about a family home lost as a result of raging wild fires.

A barrel tile roof, boxed eaves, brick and stucco siding and clean rain gutters may have helped stop the fire, but an ember got in an attic vent and all was lost. The vent had a mesh with quarter-inch holes. An eighth-inch hole mesh is recommended. Other fire hazards that can set off a house: wooden patio furniture, ornamental plants, mulch, and palm trees.

When "normal" behavior such as having ornamental plants in your yard, mulching the flower beds, and having wooden patio furniture must be avoided to reduce the chance that your house will burn down, and when the difference between quarter-inch mesh and eighth-inch mesh allows an ember to destroy your home, you might have picked a bad place to put it.

Monday, November 17, 2008


There are duties defined in law for certain relationships: trustees of a fund have a fiduciary duty toward the beneficiaries, for example.

Why isn't domestic violence treated as a violation of a special duty toward a member of your household or family? It's not just ordinary violence against a stranger whose wallet you might want, it's violence against someone who had a reasonable expectation that you would treat them better than you would a random person, and so especially odious. And deserving of special punishment, more punishment or harsher than that applied to stranger violence.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's the big idea?

Armed Liberal defines the USA.

I told them that in my view, liberalism had become identified with a cosmopolitan view that denied the unique place that America has in the world and that wanted badly to reduce America to a country among others.

Steve offered the notion that America is an idea, and that that idea is inherently welcoming, and I chimed in supporting him; we are not a nation of blood or land, we are a nation of an idea, and possibly the first great nation that can say that.

He doesn't say what he thinks the idea is, which is the core of the difference between liberals and conservatives. A chance to better yourself is the idea I support: not guaranteed betterment, not even a level playing field, but a chance. This chance is supported best by a government that makes the idea choice field possible and stays out of the way most of the time, so that individuals can choose and strive for a life they consider good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How marriage is like boxing

Probably not what you think.

All this is reminding me of the time Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear off. Tyson was losing a boxing match, you see, and in desperation he bit his opponent's ear, hard enough to remove a largish section of it. Even in the world of boxing, this attracted some attention, but Iron Mike had an excuse. He was, he explained, overcome at the thought of his children having to see him lose. He had to do something.

"Yeah?" retorted Holyfield. "What about my kids? Their dad has an ear that looks like a damn doberman's!"

What,you may ask, does this weird little story have to do with same-sex marriage?

Good points all.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's not over yet.

The election isn't over yet, at least, not for me. One of the ballot measures I'm following is at 50-50 with a margin of only 35 votes as of 6:30 this morning, with 76% of the precincts reporting.

7 Nov 2008 edited to add: And it failed (good news) by well over the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A veritable angel!

My grandson in his Halloween costume last Friday.


I'm grateful for all the election workers (county employees in this state) who are running ballots through the counting machines and reporting the results. In my county there was a flood last night in the room where the ballots were, and they had to move everything (no ballots got wet), and they are cheerfully continuing to count. Some ballot measures are not yet decided; the margins are narrower than the remaining uncounted ballots. But even if that were not true, it's important that every ballot be counted.

We've done it again.

I rejoice that once again we have calmly and non-violently changed our government. Despite rancor, resentment, religious differences, and relationship issues, the repeated resolve and respect we demonstrate for our system of government by accepting electoral results is the best evidence for that system working even when we disagree with those results.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

For Oregon voters

Has your vote been counted?

You have to give your name and address (unsurprisingly).

Marriage, gay or otherwise

I don't believe in gay marriage.

I don't believe in traditional marriage, either.

Government sponsorship of particular chosen relationships through award of special rights and monetary rewards is pernicious. Like most government action, it perverts people's choices. I am only married today because I had a reasonable fear that if I moved my boyfriend in, some judge might decide my kids would be better off with their father. The only reason a judge could do that is because government has designated marriage as an acceptable relationship between men and women, one that does not call into question a mother's or father's fitness to have custody of their children.

Because I am heterosexual, I had the privilege of getting married to avoid that possibility--government gave my relationship its imprimatur and made my ability to continue parenting my children less assailable on moral grounds. That's wrong: I don't deserve special rights because I'm heterosexual, and my ability to parent does not depend on whether I'm married or just living with my chosen partner. It's just an easy shortcut to judge me by whether I'm married; it doesn't tell you much about me, certainly not enough to judge whether I'm a fit parent.

That's why I want government out of the marriage business all together. Maybe a simple registry whereby people could record their commitments and the ending of them would be okay, so long as there were neither rewards for registering nor punishments for failing to, and religious marriage is a matter for the particular religions (as it always has been anyway, each religion setting the rules for what marriage requires of its members), but in general it's rarely good when government interferes in family relationships, so let's keep it out of this one too.

Exercising your agency by making choices

Today is Election Day in the United States.

I voted last week, as did my husband and Twoson--in Oregon we essentially have all absentee voting. The county election clerks mail all the ballots to voters about three weeks before the election; you can either mail it back or hand deliver it, so long as it is *received* by election day.

If you are able to vote in the US, this is an opportunity to affect your life by making choices. Don't miss it! Don't be only a victim of other people's choices: vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'll still like you.

The Lord of All Fools speaks for me:

We argued for months about taxes and war,
Immigration, abortion, and the needs of the poor,
The bailouts and handouts, and moral decay,
What should we give, and what should we pay

But I’m still going to like you,
I’m still your good friend,
Even if that stupid ratfink
Wins out in the end.
I really don’t blame you
For putting him there
You’ve wrecked the economy,
But, bud, I won’t care.

Read the rest!

Not yet.

At least two of my acquaintances have, in the last year or so, opined that they would not be surprised should Bush declare martial law before the next election; or even stronger, that they expected it at least a little.

There's still time.

I won't be ridiculing them mercilessly when it doesn't happen, but I am still amazed that these people, who seem otherwise quite reasonable to me, could sincerely harbor (even enjoy) the thought of the truly catastrophic failure of our system of government that such a declaration would be. It makes me doubt my ability to judge whether others are reasonable, reasoning human beings.

It also makes me glad that if it were ever to be necessary, I would be ready, willing, and able to rise up in rebellion against an oppressive government.


Gender Analyzer claims to be using artificial intelligence to determine whether a given blog (you provide the URL) is written by a man or a woman.

For each of my blogs, the response was that it was written by a man. This does not surprise me; for years on UseNET many people (mostly men) assumed I was a man. Apparently I have a writing style that is interpreted to be male.

The blog also requests that you indicate whether the response was correct, and lets you view the breakdown. It's doing just barely better than random: 56% correct, 44% incorrect.

Try your blog at the link. What did you get?