Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Woman Behind The X-Prize

We all know about the X-Prize, but until today I didn't know anything about the person offering it... an Iranian woman named Anousheh Ansari. She wanted to be an astronaut (like I did when I was a girl), but was not allowed to be one, and now she's funding a prize for the invention that will allow her to fulfill her dream. What a great, classic American story!

Link via Master of None.

"Offensive" T-shirts

BYU, evidently still reeling from Stanford's mocking half-time show, is now banning ads for T-shirts that say "I can't... I'm Mormon".

BYU can ban whatever they want, but I'd like to clarify this point made in the WND article:
Many thought wearers of the clothing wished they could drink, smoke or have casual sex – but were prevented solely because of their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [emphasis mine]
Just for the record, membership in the Church discourages, but does not prevent, people from drinking, smoking, or having casual sex. Baptism does not provide any sort of immunization from the temptations of the world. People still have to decide for themselves how they will behave. However, when people around you know you have chosen to be Mormon, they have a tendency to support your decisions not to engage in those activities, even if they're not Mormon themselves; hence the T-shirt.

There is a public perception that Mormonism is some sort of ascetic religion because our list of vices is longer than that of other mainstream religions. Most Mormons who (with a good attitude) abide by the restrictions long enough to realize their benefits will tell you that giving up these things is not restrictive at all, but actually liberating. We constantly combat the stereotype of Mormons as people who live locked in small metal boxes. Coming on the heels of Stanford's mocking of another Mormon stereotype, this grates more than usual; hence the outrage over the T-shirt.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Things You Can't Say At Work

...but you can read them at QandO. Caution: drink alert.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Adventures In QuickBooks

My business is starting to get large enough that I feel I need to keep records in something more elaborate than a manila envelope in a frequently knocked-over drawer. (The fact that it is still a very, very small business doesn't speak well of my mental powers, then...) So I looked into getting some software. I got a free trial of QuickBooks 2004 and I liked it a lot... until I saw the price tag. Even at Sam's Club it costs nearly $150. Needless to say I could not afford that right now. I'm having to stock up on yarn to make enough goods to meet the increased demand at Christmas, and I stubbornly refuse to go into debt (I'm in enough debt already, thank you very much).

So I had an idea-- I'll get QuickBooks 2003, for much much less! Wrong. On eBay, QuickBooks 2003 is going for $100 or more. QuickBooks 2002? $80. And QuickBooks 2002 is being "sunsetted" next year-- it will no longer have tech support. I asked my dad, the Bargain Emperor, to keep an eye out for QuickBooks for me in his travels through the thrift store yard and bid sale scene. My dad was able to give me a copy of QuickBooks 1999. It was only the disk, though, with the serial number written on it.

I loaded it up on my computer and it wouldn't read the file I'd set up in QuickBooks 2004, but that was just as well because I'd already screwed up entering my inventory and would have had to do it over again anyway. I re-entered everything and now it is working fine-- for now. Unfortunately it did not come with a registration code, so it has only twenty uses unless I can register it at a website that, alas, no longer exists anyway.

The QuickBooks 1999 is only an interim solution. I will have to get a newer version sooner than I can afford it. So as much as I hate to beg shamelessly for money, I thought I'd put a donation link on the sidebar, and if any of my readers would like to donate a few bucks toward my QuickBooks fund, I'd sure appreciate it.

Educator Discounts, HERE I COME!!

I popped in at the market on Saturday to talk to one of the other vendors about collaboration, and someone stopped me and asked if the lady from Rumplestiltskin (a new Fiber Arts Supply shop in town) had gotten a hold of me yet. I said no, and the person who talked to me gave me her card and took my information as well to give to her. And during the day, while I wasn't there a bunch of people who all asked if the Rumplestiltskin lady had gotten a hold of me. It was kind of crazy, but intriguing.

So I called her yesterday when I remembered to do it. She wasn't there, so she called me back in the evening after I got home from work. Turns out she wants me to for sure teach the sock knitting class at her shop. She's already got like 5 people lined up for it and she's only been open for a month. Also, she's got someone who is considering, but not sounding very enthusiastic about it, teaching the Knitting 101 class. But she would rather have me teach it if the lady doesn't want to... or have me teach one section and have the other lady teach another. So yes... if the reluctant lady decides not to, then I will be teaching both Knitting 101 and Sock knitting. I was talking to the Rumplestiltskin lady (I really wish I could remember her name!), and she sounded really enthusiastic about the things I was talking about and the possibility of working up samples or things to sell in her shop out of her yarns. She's got a beautiful baby alpaca that I think I would give a few toes to try out and this way I wouldn't have to!! :D But yes... I'm very excited.

I'm gonna go home early because I don't really feel well, but I think that a few hours sleep will get me feeling well enough to get some stuff done. I need to go with my sister to open a business checking account for Curious Workmanship, and I need to go to Rumplestiltskin's and show the lady some of my stuff and get a plan worked up. I checked out Encyclopedia of Victorian Needlework again so I can work up some different heel turning varieties and some different toes. I want to try the star toe that's listed in there. It looks nice.

I will be officially able to get educator discounts on books and stuff too, since I will be a teacher. :)

Quote Of The Day

"All quotes are attributable to Winston Churchill."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Monday, September 27, 2004

Rant the size of Texas

I went to Border's on Saturday night to indulge myself in bibliophilia after a really evil day. I had attended the wedding of a good friend and a former best friend, and I was drained from trying to support the good friend while completely avoiding the ex-best friend. So with the money that I made from selling stuff at the Gardner's Market, I decided to buy myself a book (this one).

While there, I ran into some friends of mine, and we frolicked through the store picking up random books. One in particular caught our eyes. Confessions of an Heiress by Paris Hilton. The bright pink cover, with said Heiress sprawled on it was quite eye-catching, and we decided to have a laugh at good 'ol Paris' expense, so we took it to the cafe and sat down to pick it apart. Inside were an extraordinary amount of photos, some bordering on pornography, of Paris in her numerous skin-barring clothing catastrophes. Most of them brought to mind the phrase "I've seen more cotton in an Asprin bottle!". Interspersed between the colorful monstrosities, were maybe 10 pages (in a book of 192 pages) of text that read more like the diary of a sexually-active 12 year old than a 23 year old who will eventually inherit the Hilton empire. Little pearls of wisdom like "The subway smells like pee. Someone should do something about that.", were jaw-dropping. Maybe this magical "someone" who follows us around fixing everything should send Paris a text message on her multiple cell phones reminding her that the reason the subway smells like pee is because there are homeless people living there who don't have access to the same resources that she has.

This "book" was humorous in a morbid, sort of society-down-the-crapper kind of way, but mostly just vapid. But what can we really expect from someone who spends incalculable monetary sums on clothing, but who's goal in life is to "be more important than [her] clothes."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Time To Buy The World's Biggest Cube Steak And The World's Biggest Frying Pan

The world's biggest mushroom has been found-- and it's edible!

"Born To Buy"

I finished reading Born To Buy by Juliet Schor. Ms. Schor presents some compelling evidence that consumer culture in its current incarnation is bad for kids, causing mental health problems and social problems in children. But some of us already knew that, including most social conservatives. In fact, it is evident that Ms. Schor doesn't know very many actual conservatives. While the research exposition parts of her book are largely unbiased, she makes snide comments from time to time in the commentary parts of her book about how "conservatives" support the kind of predatory anti-parent marketing she decries in her book. Most of the conservatives and liberals I know favor the protection of children from such tactics. Favorite Husband's response to her idea that "conservatives" like him believe in corporate exploitation of children was to smile jokingly and say, "We gotta keep those kids on the couch and supersize them! Fatten 'em up so we can eat 'em!"

So what, according to Ms. Schor, is the solution to this clearly unhealthy situation? Of course... government, what else? She lauds one program, the Edible Schoolyard project from Berkeley, wherein the school runs a one-acre organic garden and the students learn lessons about all sorts of things biological and ecological, while at the same time raising tasty food. Maybe that sort of thing is new in other parts of the country, but here in Utah kids have this sort of experience at home. Half the residents here have food gardens, and the other half wish they had. Even people who live in apartments have balcony gardens, grow plants for food indoors, or buy fresh local produce. People routinely preserve food in jars. Culturally, it's the thing to do out here. And yet there's no government program compelling it, mostly because there are some people out here so right-wing that they think Clifford The Big Red Dog is a Communist plot. Like many liberals, Ms. Schor appears to suffer from the misperception of conservative people as wanting poor people to stay poor, kids to starve, etc. when in reality, they just don't want government to be the vehicle for the necessary remedies. Ms. Schor's book would be more persuasive to people on both sides of the aisle if it stuck to the cultural case for change in children's exposure to advertising instead of snarking at "conservatives" and advocating the belief that only government can enact social change.

Ms. Schor gives only passing mention to what I believe is the key non-governmental solution to the problem of toxic consumer kid culture: participation in the vibrant, wholesome aspects of local culture. Getting involved in local events makes you feel like you're part of a community, an actual community quite unlike the virtual community of hip kid consumers that advertising touts. I'm not going to launch into a "my kids exemplify this" speech because, well, my kids don't. They watch TV and movies (although they are only allowed to watch PBS Kids and parentally-approved movies, and a few network cartoons on Saturday morning). They see commercials for sugary cereals and violent toys. But our family is involved in our community, singing with the children's choir, participating in the Gardeners' Market, and patronizing the local opera. Their less-involved friends, whose parents feel church, school, and work provide enough socialization opportunities, all collect Yu-Gi-Oh cards and wear SpongeBob Squarepants merchandise, so my kids are exposed to these things at their friends' houses. But I've made it clear to my kids that certain messages tell us to buy stuff we don't need, and I try to model for them the decision not to buy things that are advertised because we just don't need them.

All Dressed In White

I came across this article on a charity that lends wedding dresses to indigent brides.

I think it's a great thing to do. Anything that promotes marriage is a great thing. And I'm sure these people have done a lot of good, and I don't want to take anything away from that. But there was one quote I thought I'd comment on:
"I have talked to many young girls who are longing to be a bride, a beautiful bride as they see in movies, magazines and on TV," said Hicks. "The girls will tell me if they can't get married as they had always dreamed of then they just don't want it. They can't face the let down of not seeing their dreams realized."
This is precisely the sort of girl who would not be well served by a wedding dress charity. It's one thing if you're planning on getting married and you can't afford a dress. It's quite another to throw a pouty fit and say marriage isn't worth it if you can't wear a thousand dollar dress and have a twenty thousand dollar party, As Seen On TV. People who can't cope with the let-down of unfulfilled dreams, or who think their lives should be precisely as pictured on TV, probably ought not be getting married.

Occupation Attitudes

Ays at Iraq At A Glance has a great post about the contradictory things the Iraqi man-on-the-street believe about the American occupation. It's reminiscent of Kerry's position on "Bush's war".

Friday, September 24, 2004

Songs That Should Never Be Sung

And now for a little fun. Have you ever heard a song that just should not have been performed by the musician or group who recorded it? In your opinion, what song should never be sung by what artist? They don't ever have to have been actually recorded. Here are a few of mine to get you started. Put yours in the comments.

"Silent Night" by Metallica
"Old Man River" by John Denver
"We Will Rock You" by Enya
the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings "Duke of Earl"

Great Lines

Sometimes I come across a really great line pr quote in an article. I didn't think any individual one was worth a whole post, and I rarely come across several at once, so I decided I would use the "Draft" feature of Blogger to make a collection of these and post it when I thought I'd found enough.

So here are this week's memorable lines:
"Seattle's 'Radio Equalizer,' Brian Maloney, has left Newsradio 710 KIRO-AM the same way he arrived – fired with enthusiasm." [Maloney was fired from his job.]

"You know how you always been fond a sayin’ you feel like a long tailed cat in a room full a rockin’ chairs? Well, seems to us like you’re startin’ to look more like the ground floor tenant in a two-story outhouse."
From the same article: "We heard tell when he was born his ol’ momma carried the little feller around upside down for a whole year wonderin’ why he only had one eye."

Repent, Florida!

OK, something must be seriously wrong with Florida, because it is getting ready to be smitten by Hurricane #4. The last hurricane to hit Florida doubled back and hit it a second time; who knows what this one will do? It's time to find the guy named Jonah and throw him overboard...

Guest Blogger

Please welcome my sister Mim (also known here on the blog as M) as a guest blogger at the Organic Baby Farm! I was going to introduce her, but my internet connection was down most of the day, so she beat me to it.

I told her she could post on whatever topic, so she'll probably be blogging about her projects. She also has a tendency to find the weirdest things on the 'net (she recently sent me a link to slideshows of Bible scenes done with Legos) so maybe she'll post a few of those too.

Thanks muchly Hermit m'love!

Wacky Hermit, my dear sister, has graciously consented to let me post to her blog for a bit to see if I like the format of If so, I will be starting my own. Now hopefully I an think of insightful things to say that will add to the intriguing content that already exists here.


No Whining

If there is one thing that gets on my nerves, it's whining. So when I read this article about how people in other countries are whining because they aren't allowed to vote in our elections, my blood pressure went up. Where on earth do people get this idea that they are entitled to vote on everything that affects them? Oh yeah... they get it from AMERICA.

You aren't entitled to have a say just because you exist. There are plenty of things in the world that we can't all be in control of. I bet there's millions of people who would have voted against Hurricane Ivan, for example. Unfortunately they don't get to vote on that. Fortunately for Americans, we do have a mechanism by which people get to vote on some of the things that affect their lives, and that is what makes America so great. If you want to vote in the elections of the greatest country on earth, frick'n move there and become a citizen.

UPDATE: I don't usually e-mail authors of articles I read, but this one had me so steamed that I sent this:

The world is not entitled to vote in American elections, Americans are. Therefore if you want to vote in American elections, it's simple: all you have to do is become an American. The nice thing about America is that we tend to accept just about anybody who wants to be an American, so long as they emigrate legally.

The Iraqis, I'm sure, would dearly love to vote on issues that affect their future. And now they can-- thanks to us damn lousy Americans. The British, French, Germans, and Japanese get to vote in their countries too, thanks to us lousy damn Americans. But I guess no good deed goes unpunished, since you seem to be whining that us damn lousy Americans are keeping a monopoly on American power. What, did you expect that after we saved you guys from fascism and defended to the death your right to vote, that we would then generously give you our right to vote as well?

The world is entitled to democracy. Americans are seeing to that right now, just as we have for the last 100 years. When you whine that it's just not enough, you sound like my four-year-old son whining that he's entitled to his sister's candy bar as well as his own.

[Wacky Hermit]
Proud American Citizen

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Interesting Theory

Belmont Club has an intriguing theory about the size of terrorist groups and Dunbar's Number.

It reminds me of a guy I tutored once, way before 9/11. He was an ex-Special Ops guy who had gone back to school. When he walked into my office he saw that I had a Sierpinski square on my wall, and he commented that it was configured just like a terrorist network: each cell reports to its leader, but doesn't know any of the other cells. The leaders report to their leader, but they don't know any of the other leaders or cell members outside their own cell.

Taking both these insights into account, I'm guessing that terrorist networks have a fractal dimension of approximately 1.5, which would make it about the same as the digits of pi or random uncorrelated noise.

On The Nightstand

On the nightstand this week (next to the vaporizer) is Born To Buy by Juliet B. Schor, about how marketing targets kids. It's all right, although she gets pretty damn snarky at times about how the Bush administration isn't doing anything to stop it. In Chapter 5 she seems to think Bush's "underfunding" of schools has somehow caused the greedy glee with which school administrations take corporate money. Aside from the inconvenient fact that the vast majority of school funding is state and not federal, I think the larger problems are that schools are so addicted to money, and districts are so good at siphoning it off from actual instruction. (Where's anti-materialism when you really need it?) And she seems to think "conservatives" are responsible for advertising being what it is. Yeah right, all those New York ad execs are conservatives. I bet New York City is just teeming with conservatism. But what do I know, I'm not some highfalutin' researcher.

I swear I'll stop reading the book if she snarks at Bush or conservatives one more time, though. I just have zero tolerance for that kind of nonsense, especially when I've already got the point of the book.

A Ray of Sonshine

Sonshine is sick with the croup that his sister had earlier this week. When Tiny Princess gets sick, she obediently takes her medicine and lays down to rest. But when Sonshine gets sick, he stubbornly refuses to do anything. If you try to give him medicine, he gags himself and pukes it right back out, even if he wasn't sick to his stomach. If you mix it in with food, you just get puke with food. And there's no persuading him. We tried telling him that all the bravest soldiers take their medicine, but it didn't work. Once, when he had a high fever that just had to come down before it cooked his brain, we threatened him with suppositories. He bent over. He would rather take his medicine up the butt than allow it to pass his lips.

It's gonna be a long, long day...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Damn Computer

Our computer is having hissy fits again. Favorite Husband said the hard drive was dying, so he bought a new hard drive. But the new hard drive leaks data like a sieve because evidently our motherboard doesn't like it and needs to be bribed with some sort of card before she'll get along with it.

That's always the way it is with computers. The new hard drive doesn't work with the motherboard, so you get a new motherboard. The new motherboard doesn't work with the video card, so you get a new video card. The new video card doesn't work with the CD drive, so you get a new CD drive. The new CD drive doesn't work with the sound card, so you get a new sound card. Then the power supply proves insufficient to power the new hard drive, motherboard, video card, CD drive, and sound card, so you have to get a new power supply and case. By the time you're done you've bought an entire new computer.

So spare yourself the hassle. Next time any part of your computer breaks, throw the whole thing out the window and buy a new one right up front.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I Feel So Special!

My post was selected for the Carnival of the Capitalists.

Blogchild Adoption

Someone has nominated me to be Harvey's adopted blogchild. I wonder who it was-- I have absolutely no idea.

I don't know if I'd make a good blogdaughter to Harvey. I'd dye my hair pink, wear his best suit jacket to school and get it muddy, steal money out of his wallet and not come home until three hours after curfew. And I'd make sure to let him know that he doesn't run my life, and I'd deliberately date a guy 17 years older than me just to piss him off. But hey, if he wants to adopt me...

Gunga Dan

Go read Doggerel Pundit's latest: "Gunga Dan". (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

I Love My Mom

I'm constantly quoting my mom on this blog: "My mom says [insert pithy but true statement here]." It's because I have a really great mom. My mom always gives me good advice, and she reads my blog too, which is kind of her considering that she's probably got fifteen lessons to plan at any given time. So I thought I should introduce you to my Mom.

Mom helps keep me on an even keel. When I get all hot-headed (a trait I inherit from my dad) and write nasty letters, I read them to her and she persuades me not to actually send them. Mom doesn't lose her temper and is a good example to me, since I often lose my temper with the kids when whining is involved.

Mom's advice is invaluable. Her best advice (outside of child-rearing and dealing with other people) is on the subject of bras. She has always advised her daughters to buy good quality bras. (Unfortunately for me, my budget does not listen to her advice.)

Mom always deals gently with me, but never mollycoddles me. Once when I had been complaining repeatedly about Favorite Husband, she just flat-out told me that I shouldn't speak about my husband like that, I should just go work it out with him and solve my own problems. It had a profound effect on me. Everyone else I had talked to had listened and nodded as I ripped F.H. a new one, so I just kept doing it. No one had ever told me I had crossed the line, but my mother did. I went home and did what she said. I have a great marriage now.

Mom quit school to be home with us kids. She was always there for us. I regret every time I mistreated her as a kid (although Dad helped me learn to regret some of the times). She always encouraged me to be whatever good thing I wanted to be. She never said a word about how I would put on my moon boots in the middle of the summer and pretend to be an astronaut. When I went through my architect phase, she let me want to be an architect. She bought me a horse-drawing book at the peak of my unicorn obsession.

Mom always saw to it that we had the best of everything that she and Dad could afford. We grew up reading Greek myths and Grimm's fairy tales (not the Disneyfied versions) and actual literature. She gave us real cheese to eat, not that "Pasteurized Process Cheese Food" crap, so we weren't fooled into thinking that stuff is actually what cheese is supposed to taste like. She cooked us yummy dinners and made us fun lunches.

The ultimate compliment I can give my mom is this: When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

Fly-Catching With Vinegar And Honey

Over at the new QandO site, Dale Franks rips into people who come all the way over to his blog just to criticize him for using particular computer stuff. (Don't ask me what kind of computer stuff-- I married a guy to handle all my computer needs!)
... what is it that compells you to go to web sites and publicly spout criticisms because they aren’t using your favorite technology? Do you randomly walk up to Chevy users on the street and ask them why they are so stupid when everybody knows that Fords are obviously better cars?
Dale has a very good point. I don't know why people do this, but there are always people who think it's their duty to give you their unsolicited advice or criticism. As my dad jokingly says, "Everyone's entitled to my opinion."

Perhaps they want to persuade other people to like the same things they like, so they won't feel so alone. I know I've been guilty of this. But at least they can be nice about it and invite instead of criticize. As my mom (the fount of all wisdom) says, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Rodney King: Peacemaker??

Rodney King says he wants to be remembered as a peacemaker? Not in my book. I know he didn't start the rioting, but he certainly didn't do much of anything to discourage it-- and he still maintains that the premise on which the rioting was based is a valid one.

I was in college during the Rodney King riots. Half the girls in my dorm suite had family in the Los Angeles area. When the riots broke out, we tried to call home but couldn't get through, so we were reduced to watching the TV, hoping to see if the riots were affecting our loved ones' places of residence or business. As we were biting our nails and watching news coverage, one of my suitemates (who was from Northern California and whose family was not in any danger) was jubilantly whooping it up about how "the revolution" was starting and white people were all going to get it stuck to them now. Our multi-ethnic group of TV watchers just stared at her like she was insane. People of all ethnicities were endangered by these riots. We tried to explain to her how insensitive it was of her to be celebrating the fact that our families were in danger.

Our college was not known for its activism, but there were rallies and sit-ins and such. Protesters blocked one of the major intersections, forcing the bus to re-route and making it necessary for me to walk across campus to get home. As I passed one of the rallies, a rock was thrown-- I don't think it was thrown deliberately at me, but it nearly missed my head. It was certainly thrown with reckless disregard for who it might hit. After that I only went out of the dorms when necessary, and I walked with my hand in my bag grasping my knitting needles, the only weapon I owned. Somebody else's perception of racism put me and my family, and my friends and their families, in danger.

Outside of "the revolution", the rest of us (again, people of every ethnicity) pulled together and supported each other. So when I read that Rodney King said "Race is the biggest problem we face in this country. I don't have to explain it, do I? We all know what's going on," I thought "Yeah, you and your five alternate personalities all know, so you don't have to explain it to them. The rest of us think the war on terror is the biggest problem."

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Avast, ye mateys! It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! What better way t' celebrate than t' translate your favorite webpage into Pirate talk?


"What a mystery is this, that Christianity should have done so little good in the world!
Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it?"
You are John Wesley!

When things don't sit well with you, you make a big production and argue your way through everything.
You complain a lot, but, at least you are a thinker and not afraid to show it. You are also pretty
liked by people, and pretty methodological about your life and goals. You know where you're going.
Some people find you irritating, so watch out for people leaving you out of things they do.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

link via Certus Veritas

"News" Stories

From the "Dog Bites Man" section of the news, this headline:

"Buckhead," who said CBS memos were forged, is a GOP-linked attorney

News Flash: Free Republic commenter Turns Out To Be A Republican! Gee, we all know Freepers come from both sides of the aisle in equal numbers, right??? Whaddya think the odds are on a randomly selected Freeper being a Republican?

Send that reporter back to class. And make him do his probability homework over, especially all those problems where you draw red and blue balls out of an urn.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Monthly Gripe

I'd meant to have the Gripe be a weekly feature, but I just can't get pissed off about enough things to post one once a week. But it's about time for a Gripe, as I don't think I've had one in over a month.

This Monthly Gripe is about customer service at chain stores. As in, what customer service?

The scrubbers I make have a nylon side which is made out of plastic canvas yarn. I haven't been able to find a wholesale supplier of this yarn yet, so I've been buying it at Michaels. Unfortunately Michaels, being a chain store, can only get in as much of the yarn as it is sent from the warehouse. So I was frequently having supply problems. Favorite Husband was happily willing to check the Michaels store out where he works and pick some up for me there... if they had it in stock. Sometimes there were weeks when neither store had the yarn in stock, and I couldn't make any scrubbers at all. I would buy them out whenever they restocked, but it would sometimes be a month before they got any more in.

To get around this I figured I'd special-order a dozen skeins of the yarn-- enough to get me through to the Christmas season-- and just keep it on hand at home. So I called up Michaels and asked if I can special-order a larger quantity of an item they normally stock. At first they told me I couldn't, but that didn't sound right to me since they encourage people planning weddings to come to their store. I used to work at a craft store like Michaels and we did special orders like that all the time-- 20 dozen bottles of wedding bubbles, 30 rolls of Sea Maid ribbon in peach, etc. Then they recommended to me that I just buy as many of the skeins as come in until I have a dozen. I explained to them that I'd been doing that already and the shelves were not being restocked fast enough to meet the demand.

I had to talk to three different people (one of whom had to talk to her supervisor) before someone took down my order. She told me it would arrive in two weeks. I figured that meant three weeks, so I planned accordingly. It has now been four or five weeks since I placed the order. Every week I go into Michaels (or call) and ask if my order is in. Every week they tell me either that they don't know anything about it and they'll call me when it comes in, or that they have no control over when it arrives. Well, I have a business to run. I can't wait for months for them to get a dozen skeins of yarn sent down from On High. If you'd placed a special order for your wedding supplies there, I'd bet dollars to donuts you'd be married before they came in (especially with all the six-week engagements they have out here).

At the independent craft store I used to work at, we ordered yarn from wholesalers. If we wanted more of one kind or another, we would just order more from the wholesaler, and it took about two weeks. If we couldn't get it from the wholesaler in two weeks (because it was back-ordered, say) we would call up the customer and let them know it was back-ordered. Michaels, however, is a chain store, which means they are more than likely supplied by a central Michaels warehouse. Their planograms come down from On High and if they sell out of an item and want more, they are just SOL because there's no more in their supply ration. It wouldn't surprise me if my special order never came in at all-- or had never even been ordered in the first place. Either way, I really don't want to deal with it, because I need the goddamn yarn. THREE WEEKS AGO.

So I think I'm going to mail-order the yarn from an online supplier. I really prefer to buy locally whenever I can, since I don't have to pay shipping; but in this case it just causes too much of a problem for me.

UPDATE 9/24/04: a locally owned craft store, which I contacted at the same time as Michaels, just came through with six skeins, albeit at a higher price. Still haven't heard from Michaels.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Rathergate: A New Angle

The Rathergate story has been covered from just about every angle, except for the baby angle. Nobody has, as far as I know, asked a baby what he thinks of the Killian memos. Well, Organic Baby Farm dares to bring you this opinion from what is arguably the world's most important and most often ignored demographic.

I asked Bagel what he thought of the memos, and he said "Goo." When I pressed him for further comment, he said "Ilka goo." and smiled at me.

I guess you can't expect much intellectual discourse from a guy who eats at Hooters ten times a day.

Referrer Log Fun

A few of the search strings that brought people to the Organic Baby Farm this past week (other than the usual searches for organic baby products and organic farms):

"Atwood electric typewriter"
"miscarriage in guppies"
"open sores from bug bites when scratched"
"mom OR dad OR mother OR father 'got a spanking'"

Happy Birthday, Constitution

Every year our town celebrates the day the Constitution was signed. There are pageants and presentations, assemblies and speeches. It is so great to live in a town where the Constitution is actually celebrated, not just invoked when convenient and ignored when not convenient.

This year a friend of mine, a new parent of children at the charter school, has gotten rather heavily involved with decorations and preparations for the Constitution Day assembly (new parent exuberance, I think). I already did the shopping for all the yellow ribbon and lent her my red, white and blue buntings, and I went over to her house and helped her make yellow ribbon pins for the students; nevertheless, I have a feeling she'll be looking for me this morning to tie yellow florist bows for all the school's trees.

Religious Discrimination at Washburn

We Mormons are a little touchy about other people not accepting us as Christians despite the fact that we believe Christ is divine and able to redeem us from our sins. We are often erroneously kicked out of Bible study classes, because for some reason people think we can't appreciate Christ or the Bible properly if we don't view them in exactly the same way they do. It hurts to get kicked out of a Bible study, but we cannot act out our pain on others. This guy took it a bit too far:
...Washburn law student Daniel Arkell cited university policy and filed a charge of religious discrimination in April against the school's CLS [Christian Legal Society] chapter.

Arkell, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had led a CLS Bible study earlier in the semester, where, the legal group says, he advocated religious beliefs that were inconsistent with CLS' statement of faith. Leaders of the chapter subsequently told him he would not be allowed to lead CLS-sponsored Bible studies in the future.

According to the statement, Arkell in his complaint detailed his disagreement with all five points of the CLS statement of faith. Following a hearing, the Washburn Student Bar Association acquiesced to Arkell and revoked CLS' funding on Sept. 2.

"Washburn's action is an outrageous affront to religious freedom," stated Gregory S. Baylor, director of the Center for Law & Religious Freedom, located in Annandale, Va. "Washburn is trying to force CLS to sponsor a Bible study leader who explicitly rejects CLS' religious message."
I looked over the five points and a Mormon who was in line with official doctrine would only differ with the first one, which could be construed as asserting a belief in a trinity (Mormons believe the trinity is actually three separate beings). So I don't know why Arkell would have taken issue with all five points. Maybe, like many people, he mistook a choice of words that differs with his own to mean a doctrinal distinction.

But it doesn't matter how many points he took issue with, because he was wrong to complain about it. CLS made it very clear that they wanted their members to believe in certain things. If he didn't believe those things, he should have just kept on walking. And I mean "should" in more than just a moral sense-- Article of Faith 11 tells us that not only do Mormons "claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience," but we also "allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Arkell was wrong to insist on being allowed to lead CLS' Bible studies. He could easily have started his own Bible study group, or barring that, studied the Bible all by himself like devout Mormons do every single day.

Washburn University also made a poor choice in closing down the CLS for "discrimination." I'm sure other bloggers will address the wrongness of Washburn University's actions, but I wanted to address the Mormon angle.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

OK, One More Bagel Pic

I just couldn't resist getting a picture of this:

This is Bagel doing his Kim Jong Il impression.

Where's the Quenya News??

The German network Deutsche Welle is now publishing web pages in Klingon.

The story just gets weirder from there:
[director Erik Bettermann says] "We should celebrate our 10-year presence in the online universe with a cross-border language. This should help users from other galaxies get an impression of Germany."
Um, except that Klingon is a language of our own galaxy. It was invented for the Star Trek series.

Now if they really want to publish news in a relevant language that can help us communicate with others, they should really consider publishing in Quenya (Tolkien's language of the ancient elves). The Bible may have been translated into Klingon, but Quenya has not one, but two scholarly journals.

Link via Random Nuclear Strikes.

Recipe of the Week: Bibingka

Bibingka is a Filipino coconut dessert, a favorite at our house. I'm making it this week for the bake sale at our school. It is insanely easy to make. It's a huge hit out here in Utah-- coconut is a favorite flavor here.

Bibingka also has the advantage of being gluten-free, so people with celiac disease or wheat allergy can enjoy. And if you use dairy-free stuff instead of butter or margarine, people with a milk allergy can enjoy it too!

Funny story: my kids often rode the bus last year with a fellow student named Beyonka. At that time I had been trying to get them away from valuing one skin color over another, so I'd been comparing skin colors to various yummy desserts (gingerbread, danishes, etc.) Beyonka was a light-skinned girl with dark blonde hair-- like the whitish color of bibingka with its browned top-- so my kids started calling her Bibingka. To this day they can't seem to say her real name...


1 lb. rice flour
6 eggs
1 c. sugar
3 c. coconut milk or milk
1/4 lb. butter
7 oz. shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients. Pour into 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool before serving.

Baby Cuteness

Here's this week's Baby Cuteness picture:

Sonshine and Bagel were sleeping in our bed and they just happened to take this pose. That's what brothers are for-- they've always got your back.

And just in case anyone was wondering what Tiny Princess looks like:

She looks a lot like me when I was her age, except she's got the darker skin that I wished I had. I always wished I had either lighter skin or darker skin (although I didn't particularly care which).

And yes, she always wears her tiara, although I did draw the line at wearing it to school and church.

Gardeners' Market Reports

I haven't put up a Gardeners' Market report in a while. I'm not sure anyone's really interested in reading about how we did at the market. If you miss the Gardeners' Market reports, please say so in the comments.

Last week was absolutely horrid for sales, for me at least. M sold a bunch of books and made some good trades. I still have that special order of 10 natural oven mitts and the other order of extra-large burgundy mitts that have not been picked up. I should get the phone numbers out of my cash box and call the people who ordered, to remind them to pick up their orders. I'm sick of hauling those things all over town, hoping they'll come get them.

I've made some profitable trades recently. I traded a pair of mitts for the wooden wand Tiny Princess wanted. I traded a mitt for those divine tomatoes (see post below) and I also traded for a rattle gourd and some honey bears full of local honey.

Tiny Princess doesn't know I got the wand for her, so she's trying to raise enough money to buy it herself. I got her some little organza bags which we filled with dried lavender for sachets. She sold a couple of them last week for a dollar apiece. It's never too early to indoctrinate your kids into capitalism! When I was a kid I used to make and sell needlework... kind of just like I do now... hmm...

Everybody Vote

Just a reminder that the days until the election grow short. In some places the deadlines to register to vote are coming up soon. If you are eligible to vote, be sure to register to vote so you don't disenfranchise yourself!

Even if every vote is not equal in power, it still counts for something. If for nothing else, it counts as a good example for the kids.

The World's Most Divine Tomatoes

Last weekend at the Gardeners' Market I traded an oven mitt for a sack full of slicing tomatoes. These tomatoes were in all sorts of pretty colors, orange and red and near-black. And the other day I cracked one open and put it on my sandwich.

MMMM! Divine tomato goodness! Just at the peak of ripeness, each of these meaty tomatoes had as much flavor as two or three pathetic storebought tomatoes. Each delicious slice tingled my tastebuds!

Maybe I should set a few of those out as examples to my tomato plants. "See? If you'd just ripen, you could look like this!! And it would be you I'm praising on my blog, instead of these other foreign tomatoes!"

Hell Skiing Passes Now Available

To shamelessly steal borrow a metaphor from The Rottweiler, pigs are flying over the frozen slopes of Hell! Dan Rather has finally admitted the memos might be fakes!

Money quote from The Dan: "If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story." Like the guy who walks into the party the morning after and rouses the sleepy revelers with a hearty "Hey guys, who wants a brewski?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Business License

It's official-- I got my business license! "Curious Workmanship" is now a licensed business in the state of Utah.

The good news: I now have a tax-exempt number that I can use to buy stuff for the business free of sales tax.

The bad news: I'm doing so much volume now that I order everything wholesale from out-of-state, which means I wasn't paying sales tax in the first place.

I have a funny feeling that I'll regret getting the license come April 15, but you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bloggers In Pajamas

There seems to be this stereotype of bloggers being people sitting in front of their computers in their pajamas. We as bloggers need to combat this stereotype. Blog naked!!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

In Memory of 9/11

An essay on appeasement by the indefatigable Sir George.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Random Thought

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is one of my favorite children's books. I checked the audio version out of the library (audio books are the only way I get anything read anymore, with kids and all) and I came across a passage that, when revisited in 2004, just jumped out at me like it hadn't before:

“Step right up, step right up — fancy, best-quality words right here,” announced one man in a booming voice… .

“Maybe if I buy some I can learn how to use them,” said Milo eagerly as he began to pick through the words in the stall. Finally he chose three which looked particularly good to him — “quagmire,” “flabbergast,” and “upholstery.” He had no idea what they meant, but they looked very grand and elegant. [emphasis added]
Reminds me of the mainstream media for some odd reason.

UPDATE: The Horrible Hopping Hindsight reminds me of Kerry...

Come ON, Tomatoes!!!

It is now the middle of September and I can still count on one hand the number of tomatoes I've been able to harvest from my tomato plants. I know I got them in late (being nine months pregnant at tomato-planting time was not conducive to gardening), but there have been nice, juicy, large, GREEN tomatoes on my plants for about a month now, and they show no sign of changing color! I think it's just been too cold for them to ripen.

This week looks like our last week of warm weather, and I was hoping the tomatoes would realize this and hurry up and ripen already. Next week it looks like we may have a frost! I'm beginning to think tomatoes aren't as smart as I've previously given them credit for...

Free Market Environmentalism

I came across some sites today (link via that I really liked and I thought were great for people who want to learn more about free market environmentalism-- the kind of environmentalism I support.

A Better Earth
The Commons Blog

These will be going on my blogroll next time I update it. (Sorry Ralph, it's going to be a while... kids have swim lessons every night for the next two weeks, but I promise I'm going to give you a link!!)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Forged Documents!!

It doesn't surprise me that people would forge documents to make Bush look bad. It shouldn't surprise me (anymore) that CBS would go to bat for them. But this was so obvious! CBS could only have missed it if they are (a) shilling for John Kerry or (b) entirely staffed by people under the age of 25.

I learned how to type in elementary school, in the early '80s, on a manual typewriter. When I got really good I was allowed the privilege of typing on one of those newfangled electric typewriters with the ball; if you wanted a different font you changed the ball. I used copy machines where you had to encase the original in a plastic sleeve and make copies one at a time; before that we had to use mimeographs. I used word processors when I was in junior high and high school, and printed things out on a state-of-the-art dot-matrix printer. I am not a professional text analyst. And even I could tell this document wasn't realistic; the elevated "th" gave it away. So I'm guessing that this was done by some real young'uns who had no clue that typing was different before the word processor.

I also caught some cheaters once, on a take-home exam. What gave their exams away as cheats was the way they broke their work into columns. I provide space on the exam to work the problem; usually students will work in one column down to the bottom of the space, then break and go up to the next column. (Anyone who does it differently than that does it in their own unique way.) On one of the exams (which coincidentally happened to belong to the girl getting the better grade in the class) the columns broke normally. On the other exam, the steps were identical and the column broke at exactly the same step as the other girl's exam did, even though the work was only about 2/3 of the way toward the bottom of the space.

Little Green Footballs shows that the spacing of this document is identical to that given by the default settings in Microsoft Word. Kids of college student age increasingly believe that cheating is not morally wrong. So I'm guessing that this was done by some real young'uns who had no clue that typing was different before the word processor.

Surely, though, there is someone at CBS who is older than me, who remembers the era of mimeographs and manual typewriters. If so, then he or she was so blinded by partisan politics that he or she would latch onto this greedily enough to not even perform the most rudimentary of fact-checks on it. It surely doesn't speak well of CBS.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fighting An Idea

Terrorism, quite simply, is an idea. The idea that you can get your way by terrorizing others gets embraced by people, who are then called "terrorists".

There are two ways to annihilate an idea:
  1. Kill all the people who have the idea, and destroy all the means they have of transmitting the idea.
  2. Replace the idea with a different, equally infectious, more acceptable idea.
That's it. There are no other ways to do it. Ideas are so easily transmitted that if you can't propose a better idea, you have to destroy any bearer to kill the undesirable idea.

And that is the whole point of installing democracy in Iraq. Democracy is a better idea than terrorism. It is a popular and contagious idea-- look how rabidly Americans support it. The craze of voting on things has even extended out to the United Nations. It is a fashion trend and the United States is a teen fashion magazine. We do it and then everybody else wants it too. But it's more than just contagious-- it's good. Democracy accomplishes a level of good for humankind that no other form of government can.

Iran is now surrounded on many sides by this idea of democracy. They have already been infected with it. How long will it be until the idea of democracy reaches critical mass?

Donate to Help Breslan Victims

Here is a site where you can donate money to help the victims in Breslan. If you donated to help victims of 9/11, then you should donate to help victims of Russia's 9/11. If you have kids, you should donate. Even if it's only a few dollars.

Movie Review: Osama

Osama, the first movie produced in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban, is an excellent film. Besides being chock-full of telling images and gorgeous music, it gives what is by all accounts an accurate picture of the hell that life in Afghanistan was under the Taliban. If you liked (or maybe "liked" is not the word) the dystopian alternate reality of Margaret Atwood's book The Handmaid's Tale, you'll also want to see Osama. But you will receive more than entertainment from Osama, because unlike in The Handmaid's Tale, the story of Osama is true to life.

Lance Cpl. Michael Allred

One of our own Cache Valley-ites has given his life in Iraq. Let's all have a moment of silence in memory of Marine Lance Corporal Michael Allred of Hyde Park, Utah (just a couple towns up the road from where I live).

In memory of Lance Cpl. Allred, I will be distributing yellow ribbon pins at the Gardeners' Market on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Oooh, Sorry About That Terrorist Attack, It Was Unavoidable

I'm just speechless at this non-apology apology from authorities in Chechnya.

I sincerely hope that what the man was trying to say was that he really thinks Russia should have handled Chechnya better, but it came off as more like "I'm sorry it hurt when you got hit with this fist here-- this random fist that is totally unconnected to my body even though it is connected to my arm." What????? My mother would never have let me get away with an apology like that.

On School Invasion In Russia

I've been wanting to say something about this, but my mom reads this blog, and I couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't involve language that would offend my mom. I've been praying for the community that must be devastated by this incident, and I know the Lord welcomed home His children who were sent home by the $#^@ terrorists. (see what I mean? I can't think of any non-profane words to describe them, but I can think of a whole bunch of salty terms that would make Favorite Husband blush!)

All I can say is, they want to do this to you. They want to invade your child's school and blow it all to hell. If it would make world leaders more afraid, they would want Tiny Princess and Sonshine dead, and Bagel too for good measure. I cannot imagine what it would be like for us if terrorists took over our school, but we should all at least try to imagine it, because this is what we're up against. Picture your child's school in smoking ruins and your child's body charred beyond recognition, along with hundreds of his friends and classmates. Imagine having to choose which child you can save from this intolerable situation. Imagine people with bombs strapped around their waists telling your child she can't have any water. Imagine watching your son drink his own urine out of his shoe.

And then look me in the eye and tell me that we just need to understand these people and give them more money and talk about them a lot in the U.N. That if we only have a candlelight vigil or an anti-war protest that they might back off and spare our school.

And then watch as I punch you in the face.

I've never thrown a punch at a person in my life, and the only thing I've ever punched (harder than a pillow) was a digital thermometer that inexplicably wouldn't stop beeping. But I am mad enough about this that I will punch someone if they do what I've described above.

UPDATE: Read the comments on Blackfive's post on the subject for some nice debate.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Only The Good Dye Yarn

Our shipment of 12 pounds of New Zealand wool arrived yesterday and we are already making plans to dye it. I did tea dyeing this morning, and coffee is next on the list. M collected a bunch of acorns, and I have a whole bunch of calendula petals. We plan to use the yarn for gloves, mittens, scarves, and hats. We'll also do some conventional, non-natural colors (scarlet and gold for the local high school colors, and an undetermined color for a shawl for me), but we figured the natural-dyed, 100% wool would be a selling point among the Gardener's Market crowd.

Friday, September 03, 2004

It's Not Worth Your Life

IKEA is a great store. So great, in fact, that people are dying to get in...

I love IKEA, but I don't love it that much.

Carnival of the Recipes 3

If you're looking for something new to eat, check out the latest Carnival of the Recipes. That Black Bean Chili looks nice! I might try it next week. I'm a huge fan of black beans.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Recipe of the Week: Manhattan Clam Chowder

Most people are familiar with New England clam chowder (the white creamy stuff that's served on Friday nights at restaurants around the country). Not many have heard of its tomato-based alter ego, Manhattan clam chowder. If you've turned up your nose at New England chowder (which is usually quite bland and sometimes bordering on hideous), you might want to give this one a try, as it's much more savory than the white stuff. My friend Alisa loves this soup so much that I have to make her a double batch!

2 to 3 oz. bacon or salt pork, diced
1 onion, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/2" cubes
2 6 oz. cans minced clams
1 cup water
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

Saute the bacon with the onion until the onion starts to turn transparent. Add remaining ingredients except for tomatoes. Bring to a boil; simmer covered 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add tomatoes and serve.

Blogosphere Political Compass Project

Everyone who has a blog should participate in Sandor's Blogosphere Political Compass Project. The results so far are interesting!

Schiavo Case: Courts v. Legislatures

I've been following the Terri Schiavo case off and on, and this morning I heard a real howler:
[attorney George Felos, representing Michael Schiavo] also argued that the role of the courts was trampled, calling it "absolutely extraordinary for the governor to argue that the Legislature in 18 hours and the governor in a matter of hours somehow possess some wisdom regarding the matter of Terri Schiavo that could not have been ascertained by the justices of this state in six years."

My gosh. How could the legislature possibly have power over the courts? I mean, aren't the courts the ultimate authority in the land? How dare we turn back the clock to a time when all three branches had checks and balances over each other! What arrogance, for a mere legislature to usurp the court's prerogative to overturn, in a matter of mere hours, things the people and their representatives have worked on for months and years!

I expect that with the attitude courts have taken in recent years, this appeal to their vanity and power will have a strong effect on their judgment.