Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blackhawks Convention Thoughts

-My respect for (and crush on) Jonathan Toews just keeps growing. During the Olympic panel this morning, he gave a shoutout to the overseas troops, saying that he thought it was pretty cool that the Olympic hockey tournament could help give "the real heroes " a break from what they were doing over there and help make them feel a little closer to home.

-I'm wondering which is stronger from the players' perspective - the Hawks/Wings rivalry or the Hawks/Canucks rivalry. There were several shots at Ryan Kesler in particular and the Canucks in general during the above-mentioned panel. The general consensus was "we can't wait to beat them (up) again!" It seems like with the Wings, it's the traditional rivalry, and the Canucks, it's personal still.

-Real friendship between teammates is a cool thing to see and we don't see it enough in today's media.

-Sharpie (who, btw, is no longer Chicago's sexiest bachelor - he got married last weekend) will be "rigorously" interviewing his teammates in an attempt to find an acceptable new roommate who will help him continue the proud traditions of beating Seabrook at Wrestlemania and pranking Captain Serious on road trips. Possibly a new BHTV reality show?? I would ask where I could apply for this job, but I'm still sighing over the fact that he said his wedding, not his day with the Cup, was the highlight of his summer. Awww!

-I know I said this after the Olympics, but I'll say it again - the Hawks are some pretty classy guys. We need more guys like that around here. I don't have the money or time to keep going to Chicago! (Although I am working on it!)

Quotes of the Day
Fan: Soupy, are you going to be looking for some revenge on Ovechkin for your injury?
Campbell: Yup! See, what I do is hold this big huge silver trophy over my head and wear this Stanley Cup ring....maybe I'll cut a hole in my glove for that game so he can see it real clear.

Sharp: My dog Shooter ate breakfast and dinner out of it (the Cup, on his day with it). Then Tazer drank out of it the next sure to tell Toews that when you see him.

(BHTV's Convention live stream schedule is here. BHTV clips of the opening ceremony are here. The panel interviews that were streamed live today have not been added to the replay clips, sadly.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Who Are You Not To Be?

We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be?
- Marianne Williamson

I first heard that quote back when we were doing tablework for Godspell. It's kind of stuck with me ever since, in the back of my head, and lately it's been really prominent. I have no idea why, but it's been on my mind lately.

Several friends of mine, from various walks of life and in vastly different areas of the world, can often turn into chronic complainers. Life is never good enough. A relationship is in trouble, a job is lost, there's nothing interesting anymore. Most of my friends are people I would usually consider reasonably intelligent. They can see these things they don't like about their lives. They can describe them to you in depth. And I am sympathetic. Except for the fact that they don't do anything about it.

I do understand that we don't live in a world where we always get what we want, and we sure don't always get instant gratification. (Trust me. I understand this. If it were true, I'd be sitting in a fancy schmancy room at the Chicago Hilton being wined and dined by Blackhawks elite this weekend. And I'm pretty sure sitting in my sweats in my small-town California apartment typing a blog post with a slice of pizza and a glass of Jack & Coke is not the same thing.) Life is not fair. The economy sucks. Medical stuff happens. Money is tight. Jobs are scarce. I know. I live in this world, too. But you also aren't going to get anything if you just sit around and say "I wish" all the time. No one is forcing you to just sit there. No one has forced you down and scheduled your life to be miserable/boring/whatever. You have to play the hand you are dealt, no question. But you have three choices - hold, fold, or draw. And you can keep drawing cards until you get a hand you like. It's an unlimited deck. Maybe you'll never win the mega-multimillion jackpot, but you'll keep getting a better and better chance at it.

Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember. Make decisions. Make mistakes. If you fail, at least you tried. Dreams don't come true without action. Things won't always go the way you want them to (I clearly need to save up in order to hit the Convention next year), and there will be consequences, good and bad, for your actions. But I'm pretty sure life is for living, not just wishing.

Who are you not to be?

It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live. - Albus Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Wednesday

-40 inches worth of stitches do not fit on a 16" circular needle, particularly when you have to use said needle to pick up those stitches in the first place. So although all of the afghan squares are knit and seamed and it looks fabulous (and wow, is this warm!), I can't properly finish it until I get home.

-I leave Colorado on Friday morning. I'm hoping to be able to get home Saturday night, but if that becomes unreasonable or unsafe, I'll get home on Sunday at the very very latest. Can't wait! I might even try to make it to knitting on Monday!

-The Moon Dance Stole (Scarf) is a great pattern. Clear charts, easy to read knitting, fast to see progress.

-My ankle hurt a lot again tonight. I'm really over this whole "doesn't even twinge for several days and then BAM!" I want to go to classes next week, darn it!

-Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman promised that Patrick Sharp is "safe" from trade rumours this summer. Figured he would be, since they've been really using him in the media lately, but it's nice to know that I will be able to continue wearing both my jerseys next season without having a broken heart. Now about this goalie situation...

-On that note, my personal financial short-term goal is to save up money for tickets to both the Hawks/Kings game and the Hawks/Ducks game the weekend after Thanksgiving (assuming work schedule is clear, of course) and make an LA weekend out of them.

-California-bound on Friday! Gotta make sure to stop by the bank for cash and the pet store for portable litter boxes tomorrow.

-The cat has dug an end of the dark purple yarn from the bag and is chewing on it like it's a piece of spaghetti on a plate. All four paws are on the ground and it's just hanging out of his mouth. Quite amusing!

-Things I will miss about Colorado Springs: dry heat, thunderstorms, and easy access to a major city with professional sports teams.

-Things that I can't wait to get home to: a real kitchen oven, a decent stable internet connection, my big screen tv (to watch my new Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champions dvd on), cable tv with more than four channels, my friends, my squadron, and my dojahng. Even if classes are going to kick my butt for a while now because I'm so out of shape.

-Cubs manager Lou Pinella is retiring at the end of this season. Ryne Sandberg (probably my first professional athlete crush - I don't remember if it was him or Mark Grace) is "definitely interested" in taking over his spot and has done quite respectably as the manager for the Iowa Cubs. Lots of speculation going on as to whether this is a good idea or not, given Ryno's lack of major league coaching experience. I do understand that viewpoint. I really do. However, I say, a.) you can't get better marketing than that scenario right there and b.) how's he going to do any worse? Pinella is a good manager with an exemplary career. So was Dusty Baker, for that matter. If these guys who are tried and true can't turn the Lovable Losers around, doesn't it make you think that maybe someone who can grow up (as it were) with such a team might be able to do something different with it? Good thing they don't let me make decisions like that.

-I'm going home on Friday.

-I think I'm a more "social" person here in Colorado. Not that I necessarily hang out with more people or spend more time hanging out with people, but I have gone out a LOT more than I would/could in Santa Maria. Movies, baseball games, museums, zoos, just going out to dinner...heck, the idea of actually going out to a sports bar to watch a hockey game would not have even crossed my mind if I hadn't been stranded in a hotel where I couldn't get the channel. I've never had a problem going places by myself, but I am going to miss having the ability to keep doing that. Santa Maria just doesn't have that much to do.

-Unfortunately, it takes contract-dispute drama (the NHL/Gary Bettman v. New Jersey Devils/Ilya Kovalchuk contract) to get ESPN to remember that hockey is a sport. It got a whole one minute four seconds of coverage today on that station! That's almost more than it gets there during the playoffs!

-Bedtime for now, since painkillers for the ankle are kicking in and I do actually have class tomorrow and need to finish packing up. Did I mention I'm leaving Colorado on Friday??

Thursday, July 15, 2010

NHL Cupcakes

(aka More Hockey Humour)

Inspired by this post over at Puck Daddy, the online hockey community has spent the day coming up with NHL-inspired cupcakes. Here are some of my favorites (some created by me, some by Puck This Ravelers, and some from Twitter). A lot of these will only make sense if you follow (or are forced to follow by an eclectic Ravelry group) several hockey teams and players in order to know the back stories.

The New York Rangers cupcake - sold only in high end boutique bakeries, looks yummy on paper, but tastes, eh - only ok on ice. It coulda been a contender……

The Adam Burish - mouthy, but nothing overly offensive, unlike The Sean Avery. Has been partially rebuilt.

The Sean Avery - offensive, and comes in very expensive designer wrappers, and is beat up often due to the offensiveness.

The Devils cupcake: Unobtrusive but classic flavour, expires on April 15th.

The Duncan Keith - Angel Food cake , red frosting with black (or brown) sprinkles… and 7 gummy teeth.

The Jaroslav Halak – sampled and perfected in Montreal, then shipped out to St. Louis for mass consumption.

The Brooks Laich: looks too good to eat therefore you just sit and gawk at it. (I would change that to Patrick Sharp, personally)

The Red Wings - red velvet cake with white frosting, red sprinkles and a gummy octopus on top. A classic recipe that you either love or hate. If in the presence of a Blackhawks cupcake, both cupcakes will spontaneously explode.

The Jonathan Toews: plain vanilla with golden frosting. (General consensus adds a silver cup to the top of this one)

The Sidney Crosby: doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it will get crammed down your throat.

The Patrick Kane: only costs 20 cents and will knock out a cab driver.

The Antti Niemi: decent first impression, strong Finnish.

The Atlanta Thrashers: the '10/'11 cupcake tastes very similar to the Blackhawks’ '09/'10 cupcake. Possibly made with some of the same ingredients.

The Ilya Kovalchuk: Coming soon to a bakery near you! Or you… or maybe you over there..

The Philadelphia Flyers: devil’s food cake , orange icing with white sprinkles. Somewhat dirty, but goes the distance only to get a single nut slid in at the end.

The Chicago Blackhawks: one really superb made, not enough money to make another

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knitting Stereotypes

Occasionally knitting boggles my mind. Not the act of it, that tends to soothe the mind, actually, and there's something pretty cool about looping a piece of string around two sticks and ending up with something beautiful. It's more the stereotypes of it. Not the stereotypes that non-knitters associate with knitters - I'm quite used to it being implied that only old ladies or pregnant women knit, which is pretty dumb when I am clearly neither an old lady nor pregnant - but the stereotypes that knitters have created in and of themselves. Think about it. Here are a few that I can come up with off the top of my head:

Lace is hard. The second project I ever did was a lacy baby blanket. And trust me, it was lace. Lace is....lace. Lace is only as difficult as you make it out to be. It is knitting, purling, increasing, and decreasing. Period. I, never having been told that lace is supposed to be hard and that it was only for "experienced" knitters, had absolutely no problem following the pattern. There were times that I couldn't count right to save my life, but that has happened in pretty much every project I've ever done. We've started a "Lace 'Em Up!" support thread over in the Puck This! group on Ravelry, and it amazes me how many of the members have spoken up and said they are afraid to try lace. These people are some truly excellent intelligent knitters (well, there ARE a few Red Wings fans). It boggles my mind. Granted, lace does take a bit more attention (which is why I don't do a lot of it), and there are certain tricks that will make a project go more smoothly (stitch markers and lifelines come to mind, but, again, those can be used in pretty much any project, not exclusively lace ones), but when I am getting teased and consulted as a "lace oracle" by other knitters, it tells me that lace is not hard. It's just different.

Colorwork (of any kind) is hard. Let's see...I've done stripes, patches, squares, entrelac, intarsia, and fair isle projects. I've yet to see the "hard," but again, knitters seem to be terrified of trying them. Yes, entrelac does look really strange at first, and you really have to put your faith in the pattern starting off, and keeping an even tension is important for fair isle, but guess what? Your tension isn't going to get better if you never try it.

Sweaters (and other sized garments) are hard. Frankly, to me, a hat is harder than a sweater. I've gotten sweaters to fit great - I have never gotten a hat to fit quite right. A basic top-down raglan sweater in the round is just about the most mindless knitting project I can think of. You don't even have to keep turning the work like you do with a garter stitch scarf. The only thing you have to know is your gauge and row count.

Socks are hard. The Yarn Harlot, the ultimate sock knitter, can wax much more poetically about socks than I can. The reason I don't knit socks very much even though I LOVE sock yarn is because, well, I don't wear socks very much. I've done singles, two-at-a-time, toe-up and cuff-down. I've done plain socks, lacy socks, and patterned socks. I've used dpns, 2 circs, and magic loop. And I've only been knitting for a couple years. Now, turning a heel is something that is rather mind-boggling at first, but it isn't difficult to DO, just difficult to figure out why it works. However, if children were expected to be able to knit socks 100 years ago, I'm sure that today's educated adults can manage them quite easily.

Anyone can knit, but only women of a certain age (shall we say) actually know what they're talking about, the rest just knit because it's a fad and only use cheap yarn and/or fun fur. This one drives me particularly batty and is one of the main reasons that I really have to work up the effort to go to an LYS. I hate getting watched in a store as though I am a fascinating new species of humanoid. Particularly when I can ask intelligent questions about yarns and patterns and needles and actually seem to want to spend money on quality items instead of crap. And the only time I ever buy muppet pelt (aka fun fur) is when I'm making a hedgehog for someone. (Omg, felting! You can felt, too?!) Apparently even other knitters seem to think that one magically becomes an expert knitter at the age of 50 (I'm guessing) and until then, any one else is a prodigy or just blindly following a trend.

From the perspective of a 29-year-old single woman (okay, so I do have a cat) who learned to knit at the age of 22 backstage during a production of Hamlet (true story), ideas like this, which are passed and learned from knitter to knitter, drive me a little crazy. I don't consider myself a good knitter, or an experienced knitter. I don't think I'm particularly gifted over any other knitters I know - usually quite the opposite. But I guess the upside to being mostly self-taught is that what you don't know really can't hurt you. And ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


-I'm very very sick of hearing about Twilight (books and movies) and whose "team" people are on. They're FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, people! I've read the books (I refuse to see any more of the movies after I got suckered into seeing the first one - it was better than the book by the sheer fact that it condensed 300 pages of teen angst into thirty seconds on screen), and I can add that they aren't even GOOD characters! Edward is obsessive, controlling, and over-protective, while Bella is whiny, helpless, self-disparaging, and also obsessive. I spent the whole series waiting for at least one of them to grow up and they never did. Jacob...well, Jacob was okay, I guess, except for the fact that he liked Bella. Am I the only one who sees the sheer ridiculousness of this?? I mean, I've read lots of actually good books and never felt the need to declare my love for any of the characters. (I do, of course, like the Harry Potter series, and actually enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, too, so it's not just an anti-young adult thing.)

-For all the complaining people do about the Cubs (and yes, a lot of it is well-deserved and there need to be some changes made because this group of players really should make a better team than what we've seen so far), we're still only in third place in the division, and it's only halfway through the season. I.E., we may be terrible, but we aren't the worst team in the League and I'm tired of hearing that we are.

-Blackhawks, I love you dearly and, for the most part, have handled the off-season roster changes pretty well, I think. (Keep your eye on Burish, he would love to come back to Chicago, but it will be fun to watch him go after Kane and Sharp in the meantime!) I know we still have a core that any other team would kill to have and the guys in the system are looking promising. But Stan Bowman, if you seriously let Hjalmarsson go to the Sharks, unless you can give me a damn good reason, we will have words. I'm really getting tired of watching my boys leave Chicago, although I do appreciate the additional hockey games I will now be interested in next season. I might even have a whole Eastern team now. Should the Atlanta Thrashers change their name to Blackhawks Lite? =P

-People in Colorado need to freakin learn how to drive. An entrance ramp is designed so that cars coming onto the road have time to match the speed of the traffic they are joining, not so that they can come to a complete stop and then peel out. And if you see a car on an entrance ramp, common courtesy is to move over in order to let said car get on your road without having to drastically change its speed. Seriously, even LA drivers have figured this out! It's pretty bad when I have done more cursing on a small-town (relatively) Colorado highway in six weeks than in 7+ years dealing with the LA freeway system. (Not counting Friday morning, when I almost got ran off the road by a captain in my class. He apologized, though. After another captain made him confess.)

Friday, July 09, 2010

A Slightly Busy Weekend

I know I haven't posted much lately. There was a reason - certain people read this regularly and I had certain information that could not be shared and didn't trust myself to not say something that would give it away.

I might have mentioned that I planned to spend the Fourth by "going to a game with the guys." I just never said which game with which guys. Despite many understandable assumptions, I actually started off the weekend of the Fourth here:
Or, more specifically, here:
And these guys just happened to show up:
Okay, so my brother and I plotted this out several weeks ago. I knew I would have a four-day weekend over the Fourth but wasn't sure if I really wanted to go to Illinois or wait until my two weeks after this class and didn't want to get too many people's hopes up. Then my brother and I got talking and he had most of the weekend off too and the Cubs had a home series that weekend. And this year is my parents' 30th anniversary, and neither of us had had any idea what to do for them. So we decided to surprise them. We spread the word that I was not going to be able to travel over the weekend (military acronyms make a lot of things sound really official). He got tickets to the game on Friday afternoon and convinced my parents to take the day off for it (not particularly difficult, you might have figured out that we kinda like sports - 75 more days until hockey preseason, btw), and I got tickets for a plane and flew into Chicago late Thursday night/early Friday morning. Spent the night at the Hyatt Rosemont near the airport, and after a couple hours of sleep and a shower, grabbed a cab and headed to Wrigleyville. The initial plan, which we weren't sure would work, was to meet up for lunch at The Cubby Bear - I would get there early and then my brother and parents would come in for lunch and I'd be there with a table. But between a later-than-planned start and traffic, they weren't able to get to Chicago in time for a pre-game lunch. So instead, I crossed the street to the ballpark and made myself comfortable in my seat to watch the Reds' batting practice:
Excellent tix, btw, K! My parents were definitely surprised to see me sitting in what they thought was my mom's seat. The Cubs apparently were, too - so surprised that they forgot to play the seventh inning and lost horribly. I spent the rest of the weekend with my family in my hometown, and then went back up to Chicago on Monday to fly back to Denver. After spending the day here:
The Museum of Science & Industry! I got to see my Fairy Castle, plus a real space exhibit (they have the actual Apollo 8 and Aurora 7 capsules and a big old moon rock, not just some little sliver of one, sorry Denver!), a cool IMAX movie about the new 787 Dreamliner, and a bunch of other neat stuff. (Yes, I think we've established the fact that I'm a geek.)

It was a really good weekend. Made me remember how much I love Chicago. I really need to spend more time there. Too bad it snows and is generally miserable there in the winter. Not to mention the fact that I'd have no work there. Anyway, back to the weekend, the only real downsides were the Cubbies losing badly TWICE (although I do feel the need to point out that despite the fact that we're 10.5 games out of first, there are also three other teams BELOW US) and the fact that I did not get asked to run away with any cute professional hockey OR baseball players while there. Need to work on that. One of my online friend's responses to this was "What?? I assume the reason I have not been asked these things is because I moved to Chicago with my SO, but I would have figured someone eligible and awesome like yourself would have made it work. I’ll have to complain to Mayor Daley," which I thought was a brilliant idea. He needs to be made aware that the players in his city are NOT fulfilling my personal fantasies ;-) This was right before she chewed me out for being in Chicago and not meeting up with her and several others - next time I'm in Chicago, I now have to take out a full-page ad in the Trib announcing my presence and schedule. My social calendar is apparently much busier than I thought.

I did get some knitting in, though! In fact, I have two projects going now. The New Angle afghan has grown:
There's another four squares ready to be seamed together, too. Just ten more squares and the borders! The guys have been teasing me and saying that it has to get done before this class ends, because it has to be in our class photo. We have two weeks left, so I'm thinking that's probably not gonna happen, but I might try.

I also finally gave in to my recent craving to do some lace again:
This is the start of Melanie Gibbons' Moon Dance Stole (Ravelry link). Well, in this case, Moon Dance Scarf, since I know a.) my own attention span and b.) my pocketbook. (I didn't bring any laceweight or smaller needles with me from Cali, so I had to buy both.) The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, and is a darker, richer teal than in the photo. I am really enjoying this pattern so far and it's going relatively quickly. (It will look a lot lacier and less dense after blocking.) I've been working on this in the evenings and the afghan during class breaks. No timeline on this one, yay!

Class is going better. We've gotten to the point where we know each other well enough to razz each other (they have a LOT of fun with my ankle brace and that whole situation) and we laugh a lot. It helps that we know we'll be working together after this class, and we have a common enemy in one of the instructors. The enemy of my enemy, after all. (I actually have no problems with said instructor as a person, but she dropped too heavy of a hammer on too light of a situation and succeeded in putting all of our backs up. Since we don't have too much interaction with her, we've seen no reason to forgive her for it yet.)

Only two more weeks left and then I get to go back home! Yay! I can't wait to get back to classes, although I'm sure they'll kick my butt. My ankle is definitely still not up to it - it had been feeling better, and I'm technically off profile now, but the past couple days it's been hurting almost as much as it did when I initially sprained it, so I'm most likely going to try to get another appointment for Monday to get it looked at again. I think by the time I get back to California it should be okay, though. And I have orders at least through 1 October according to my flight commander - one more class and then probably a couple months of OJT - so getting paid regularly is always nice.

So I think that catches everyone up for the most part. I'm still plotting the adventures for this weekend. I'm pretty sure I'm going to hit up at Rockies/Padres game either tomorrow night or Sunday afternoon. The Padres are in first and the Rockies in a potentially close second, so that should be an interesting series. There are also a couple movies that I want to see, but I haven't decided which one yet. (On a TV sidenote, I did attempt to watch CSI again and it, again, failed miserably. But I am looking forward to TNT's new series Rizzoli & Isles series that starts Monday. Two of my favorite actresses star in it.) Before I leave the area, I want to go to the Cave of the Winds and go white-water rafting, but that's going to depend a lot on the ankle, so we'll see.

The countdown begins!