“Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me!”

“You aren’t supposed to be able to find me. This is my safe spot.” -Mayhem*

“But since you did, are those scary thunderstorms over yet?” -Mayhem

They are indeed, Mayhem! You can come out now. Have a great holiday weekend to those of you in the US and Canada and a great regular old weekend to the rest!

*She’s between the head of my bed and the wall. The end of the baseboard radiator is to the left and there’s a bookcase blocking the end off to the right.

In which I report on a lot of reading and a very little bit of knitting

People frequently comment on how quickly I read. Part of that is just me – I’ve always been a voracious and relatively quick reader since my mom used some flashcard program to teach me to read when I was three. (I had library priviliges in kindergarten and was sent to the library while the class was learning to read because I was disruptively bored.)

Another part of it is a class I took in community college to fulfill a requirement. That class, Efficient Reading, used the technology of the time (1986) to improve our reading speed, comprehension, and retention. (Efficient Reading and Typing were the two most useful classes I took in community college. I’m so happy to be free of my two index finger typing.) The final part of the speedy reading was grad school – after slogging through textbooks and academic treatises, reading popular literature and nonfiction can’t help but be faster.

If you’re interested in improving your reading speed and retention, you might try a program such as the free SpeedRead (Windows only).

Reading Update
Stars: Hidden Star & Captive Star (Book 1 & 2 of the Stars of Mithra Trilogy); Treasures: Secret Star (Book 3 of the Stars of Mithra Trilogy) & Treasures Lost, Treasures Found; and River’s End by Nora Roberts. Truly, the woman has written a seemingly infinite number of books.
The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman. Audio. I love Alice Hoffman’s style of magical realism and listening to this book made the trip to and from the cabin fly by.
Cry Wolf: An Alpha and Omega Novel by Patricia Briggs. First off, don’t even bother reading this book unless you’ve first read the short story in On the Prowl, because that short story is really the first chapter or two of this book. It was a decent read – there is some character overlap between this and Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.
Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4) by Stephenie Meyer. I was equally annoyed with Bella and Edward during the early parts of the book, but the last third of the book redeemed it all for me.
Storm Born (Dark Swan, Book 1) by Richelle Mead. This is an extremely compelling, well-written, and racy paranormal romance. Highly recommended, although I must admit that I’m a little afraid of how the series will develop, as the heroine seemed a combination of Meredith Gentry and Anita Blake. But, hey, CarrieK, there aren’t any vampires! 😉
Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich. These are always fun, but they also feel sort of stuck in a holding pattern…

Knitting Update
Back in May,  I won some lovely Wollmeise from Cathy-Cate; I started knitting a pair of Tidepool socks from it at the beginning of August.

“Gee, Mom, you sure haven’t made much progress on those socks in nearly a month, have you?” -Mayhem

Um, no. I started the sock on my usual KnitPicks 0s and realized the yarn was thinner than your average fingering weight. A-ha! A chance to try my Addi Lace 00s!

Ouch. Within a few days, I had poked painful holes in the tips of both my index fingers with the brutally sharp points of those needles. And then I started the Noroesque socks, which have occupied my somewhat limited knitting attention since (I’ve started the second sock!). I know I’ll get back to them, because I love how they’re turning out.

“Sure you will, Mom. I’ve heard that before.” -Mayhem

Bullet post

  • Lisa’s having a contest – send her an email guessing whose home is pictured and you could win enough yarn for a small project. Send your emails by August 29, 6 pm EDT.
  • Over the weekend, I biked 15 miles on Saturday, then walked/wandered five miles. On Sunday, I biked another 20 miles. I’m slowly getting more comfortable on my new bike, but my legs are not very happy with me right now.
  • Last week, I ordered a few things from amazon.com, using the free shipping. They shipped my stuff in two separate packages. No big deal, right? Except… the first package I received said “1 of 51.” Eeeek!!! Fortunately, there weren’t any weird charges on my credit card, nor have 49 extraneous boxes appeared.
  • Remember my Bake Neko (oldschool ipod shuffle) woes last month? It still plays, but when I skip ahead to the next song, it goes dormant for a while. In frustration, I bought a SanDisk Sansa Clip 4 GB mp3 player. My only complaint (which I knew before I bought it) is that the Clip doesn’t play m4a/aac (a common ipod music format, besides being what of a lot of my music library is). I do have plenty of mp3 music – but the main reason I bought it is because it should be NetLibrary compatible (and I have free NetLibrary access via my local library system). (I haven’t verified this yet!) It also has an FM receiver.
  • Apologies to those who friend me on GoodReads, as I’m nearly inert there. Most of my time is spent on LibraryThing.
  • I’ve been seeing a lot more people on bicycles and scooters since gas prices went up… but I’m not seeing a lot of people with helmets. You won’t get me on a bike with out a helmet. If you need some reinforcement on the importance of helmets, maybe Kellee’s photos after being hit by a bus will inspire you.
  • Remember my sheepy water bottle? I’ve been using it, and I have to say that this Laken brand bottle has the least metallic taste of the bottles I’ve tried. (The others were Sigg aluminum and Enviro stainless steel.)
  • I never followed up on the whole internet dating thing, did I? One word sums it up: meh. I went on four or five first dates and even a few second dates. The only guy I found really intriguing (cyclist whose best female friend is married to the guy who was the best man in my wedding 19 years ago – how weird is that?!) got back together with someone he had dated in the past. Ah well. My backup plan of becoming a crazy cat lady seems to be proceeding apace.
  • If you’re really bored, you can wander through my Google Reader shared items. They aren’t in my blog sidebar because I haven’t found a way to format the snippet (the five most recent items) so it doesn’t look horrible. Dang, you can also subscribe to a feed of them, if you are really, really bored. Who knew?!
  • Chaos and Mayhem continue to love their ScratchScroll, although I’m not sure how much actual scratching they do. They play with the feather toy, crawl through the tunnel, and sprawl on it far more than they scratch it.
  • I think I need to clean Chaos’s teeth (see below). Alas, I can’t see that happening without bloodshed (mine). I don’t think the vet will try cleaning the Chaos Kitty’s teeth again unless anesthesia is involved (for Chaos, not the vet!), although it didn’t look like his hand would scar too badly…


Roadside “sculpture”

Did you know I have a weakness for roadside “sculpture”? It isn’t a new thing, either – the picture of me below is from 1999.

And this is from 1998:

I think spotting these myself is the most fun, but if you like to be less serendipitous, Roadside America (“Your Online Guide to Offbeat Tourist Attractions”) is a great place to start.

“You are all under my kitty stare power, so I send you forth to find a giant black kitty roadside attraction!” -Mayhem

Friday, Friday

Susan’s giving away a copy of Casual Elegant Knits – if you’d like to win, leave a comment with a question for the authors. Plus, Susan’s birthday was yesterday, so you should wish her a happy birthday if you stop by!

If you like to read fantasy or urban fantasy, check out these cool book giveaways.

Head on over and vote in the 2008 Knitter’s Hunk contest!

Can anyone recommend a good ftp program that works in XP SP3? I had been using SmartFTP, but suddenly they want $40 for it. I’d pay $10 or so, but not $40. I’m using FireFTP, but it doesn’t remember the last connected directory when you reconnect. I tried FileZilla, but can’t remember why I uninstalled it – probably because, like CoreFTP Lite, it doesn’t have a nice right click to copy the file path. I just tried WinSCP and I think it will work! Thanks for the recommendations!

“Where is dangly thing??!!! Dangly thing! Dangly thing!” -Chaos

“Get a grip, big kitty! It’s at the other end of the bag, on the zipper. Have you no shame?” -Mayhem

Since I know there are those amongst you who actually like to see unobstructed pictures of the knitting… 😉 I mostly like how my graduated dyeing experiment is coming out. However, if I do this again, I won’t make the color sections so long (i.e., I’ll have more colors) and I’ll increase the overlapping/graduated sections. While I only have four colors, Jeanne has six colors, so it could be perfect! (No pressure, Jeanne…)

A new bag… or two

I think you’re all well aware of my weakness for bags at this point, right? And you might remember that a few months ago, I got rid of two tote bags that just didn’t work out for me. Of course, that meant I’ve had my eye out for a new bag, since I really am tired of the piece of REI carry on luggage I’ve been lugging around. A few weeks ago, I picked up a Case Logic canvas messenger bag and I love it! It has a laptop sleeve that works well for carrying books and work stuff, too. I also picked up a new hardshell camera case for my Olympus 1010 to protect it while it’s in my messenger bag. (You can almost see the camera case under May’s tummy below.)

“Out of my way, May.” -Chaos

“As if! You’re not the boss of me, big kitty!” -Mayhem

Fortunately, before that could devolve any further, I pulled out my newest sock project bag, which completely distracted Chaos.

“Hmm, what is that little dangly thing?” -Chaos

“This dangly thing rocks!” -Chaos

“I love you, dangly thing!” -Chaos

*nom nom nom* -Chaos

Tails that pass in the evening

Identify the location in the last picture of Tracey’s post by August 22, 10 pm EDT, and you could win a $25 gift certificate to Blue Moon Fiber Arts!

So how amusing is it that I, known for captioning cat pictures, win a paranormal romance novel, which I am known for reading, by… captioning cat pictures?! Mine is the caption on Photo #3. 🙂

Reading Update
The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman. A grad student inadvertently invents a time machine and his life gets very, very strange. Not as powerful as Haldeman’s Forever War, but an entertaining read.
Irish Dreams (Irish Rebel & Sullivan’s Woman) by Nora Roberts. Older stuff, so ok, but not great.
Drinking Midnight Wine by Simon R. Green. So-so urban fantasy set in Bradon-on-Avon about a bookstore clerk who follows the wrong (or is it right?) woman in the train station one evening.
A Vintage Murder: A Wine Lover’s Mystery by Michele Scott. The latest in an ok mystery/romance series usually set in Napa Valley, although this particular book is set in Australia.
Bedlam, Bath and Beyond (World of the Storm Ravens, Book 1) by J. D. Warren. A surprisingly good paranormal romance that really can’t be judged by title or cover, as neither of them seem to be related to the content!
Angel with Attitude by Michelle Rowen. It’s harsh to be a fallen angel dropped naked into the shark tank at Marineworld…
Bound to Love Her by Esri Rose. A Boulder woman finds a hunky unconscious elf in the woods while she’s out walking her neighbor’s dog. Started out strong, but I thought it lost steam near the end.

As accidental exposures go, I like this one a lot. 🙂

Back from the north country

Post about the Red Scarf Project, in which knitters knit red scarves for orphans, and you could win a special skein of Scout’s sock yarn, plus a $25 gift certificate to her shop. Post fast, because this contest closes at August 18 (aka today), 6 pm, MDT.

Nicole’s giving away a copy of Lynn Viehl’s paranormal romance Evermore: A Novel of the Darkyn. Leave Nicole a comment by August 22 for your chance to win.

Guess how many pictures Eva’s going to take during her trip to Amsterdam and you could win some of Meilenweit’s new merino sock yarn. Contest closes August 22, midnight PDT.

This sheep chair boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Hmm… Chaos or Mayhem?

Pao thought of me when he saw this picture… aw, thanks?! 😉

The two full days I had at the cabin were wonderful. I didn’t knit a stitch, but I did pick wild blueberries (yum!), help build a deck (mostly by holding things so my brother could attach them), lounge about talking, drink a few beers, and read a little. Ahhhhh…

“It’s nice that you’re back, Mom, but the big kitty said I have to be mad at you and pretend to ignore you.” -Mayhem