Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plug the d*&^ hole!

OK, so that's allegedly (at least according to Katie Couric) what President Obama said in regard to horrific-beyond-words total destruction of the Gulf coast along Louisiana.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario, and I will be the first to say I'm no expert. But even the experts can't seem to figure out how to "plug the d--- hole."

And is it only me, or is it a bit like the fox watching the henhouse to have BP in charge of this screw-up, since they're basically the ones who caused it?

If I ruled the world, here's what I'd do. I'd get every oil expert from every oil company in a room and tell them, "You don't get out of here till we get this figured out and stopped."

And as for BP? Well, no stock dividends, no executive pay till this is done; and all that excess cash (because BP's profits are obscene anyway) will go to pay the people whose lives you've ruined.

I have no idea how to shut the blasted thing off. All I know is that both BP and the previous administration screwed up. Nobody was watching as MMS cavorted with oil executives - or worse, they did watch and nobody gave a rat's rear end. Off-shore wells were being built willy-nilly and nobody bothered to ask, "Hey, what if this blows up?"

I mean really. I'm no scientist, but I do know that oil and water don't mix. And I do realize how flammable oil and gas are. That would be enough for even my limited experience; it'd give me cause to pause. But nope, not those brave (?) souls at BP. Profit, baby, profit.

Who cares what it may do to the land? We think the damage will be "minimal." Yep. There ya go. As long as BP and its investors get theirs, they don't care what the rest of us end up with.

And by the way, is it me or is everyone else astounded at the rush of countries who've come to our aid? Yeah, I thought so. Because of the position we've put ourselves in - or let me correct that: the position we've allowed our politicians to put us in - it's no wonder we've got nobody running to help us. They're all sitting back and watching.

As we implode.

For the sake of corprate greed.

I feel nauseated. And powerless. And I don't like it. I hope I'm not alone in this feeling. Because maybe if I'm not alone, those of us at the bottom of the power-pile just might be able to do something. No, I don't know what. But something. I'm open to suggestions, as long as this remains at the forefront of your thoughts: This was not a "natural" disaster and it didn't have to be inevitable. Someone - some corporation or corporations, since we know there are more of them involved - needs to not only pay for this but be prosecuted.

For blatant disregard of the planet. At least.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Diaper Rash Doggie...

Yeah, diaper rash. Well, not actually, but close enough. Our middle elkhound has been spayed and she was not leaving her shaved area alone - but she was leaving the stitches alone. She ended up with abraded lips and some sores. We put the "inner tube" back on her neck, got a stink-eye that you'll recognize, and then used Dr. Boudreaux's Butt Paste on the open sores.

Yes, that's the name of the stuff. It's like A & D Ointment, but it's creamy and less greasy. Since she now thinks that the couch is her personal space (who's idea was that??), even though we put a cloth on it (the couch, not the dog), we figured that going with a less-greasy ointment would be better.

Today, the rash looks much better. We were concerned, because we were afraid she might have been allergic to the sutures. She has about a week left till she gets them clipped. And also, since the vet felt that there were signs of another infection, she's on yet another round of antibiotics. We think that part of the issue is some clipper burn. I think the vet tech got a little over-zealous.

You can see she's got a little bit of a belly. Poor girl has had 2 litters in quick succession (not our idea - we adopted her AFTER that, and are fostering one of her pups, too) and we joke that she "needs a tummy tuck." She's within her correct weight range, and as soon as she's better, she'll be out running in the dog park again, which will help her fitness level and certainly will help her mood. Which has been pretty crappy lately!!

So we're also using something she just loves: plain yogurt. The active cultures will help her poor little tummy get all its good bugs back. She loves it - to the point of "I like this more than canned dog food."

Luckily, this is the last one in this Pack who needs to be spayed. We're all fixed now, and her next task is obedience school, on her way to getting her Canine Good Citizen, and then certification as a therapy dog. It'll be a long road, but I know she's got it in her.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another WIP...

I finally got my hands around the "thin-to-thick" yarn, Tokyo. Like an idiot, I bought the yarn (well, THAT isn't idiotic) and though, Ok, this is a simple project to get my knitting fingers back.
Ha. Hint: after hand surgery, just do something simple like an afghan square or a wash cloth. Do not - repeat, not use specialty yarn for anything till you have a reasonable grasp on the needles and the coordination. I ripped the sucker back three times. Almost tossed 'em but for 3 balls of the yarn, and for the fact that I really, really like the way it looks when it's done, and for the fact that, for cryin' out loud - it's straight knitting - I'm just going forward. The Tokyo was an impulse buy. (Go ahead, snicker here) I had come back to the LYS and was sitting around while my friend/owner was whipping this wrap up. So how hard can it be?

Well, now I finally put it back on bamboo needles. I'd started it on bamboo circulars, which was one of my more idiotic ideas. Got it onto aluminum needles till I got my fingers back in action, and now it's back on bamboo, but straights, not circs. As you can see, the yarn makes an almost lace-like pattern in itself. You kind of have to tug it a bit, because it scrunches up till the fabric gets a little weight on it. But completed, it's got a lovely look and a nice drape. It's great with a little black dress or anywhere you'll need just a little "something" to either dress up an outfit or outwit a sneaky A/C vent.

I'm told it comes in a silver and a white - I think either would look lovely, but all they had was black, so I went for it. You can see the texture here, where I've fluffed it out a bit. You have to be careful - it's really too easy to pick up too many stitches, because you don't always see the bottom leg of the stitch. I've k2tog a couple of times!! It looks a little sloppy, and I think that till I get more on the wrap itself, it'll look like I don't know what I'm doing. Wait; I don't claim to know what I'm doing, but I do like to think my tension is usually good, even if I do say so myself. This will be pretty once it's blocked a bit and with maybe a nice shawl pin or stick. I haven't decided which, but either would dress it up and keep it on my shoulders. This is an outstanding "tv project" or "waiting room project" because it's plain knitting, but also, when you KIP (knit in public) with this kind of project, it gets people to asking questions. It looks more complex than it is, and the self-patterning is lovely. And seriously, this kind of project in the doctor's office is virtually guaranteed to give you a good blood pressure reading - it's just so relaxing to knit while you're waiting for the doc to come into the exam room and you don't have to worry about setting it down mid-row. What kind of KIP projects do you like to do? What's been the most successful KIP experience you've had? I love it when the older ladies come up and cheer on the fact that I'm knitting, though it makes me sad that they say, "I used to do that but I gave it up." And it's great to see the teen girls sneaking a look. Maybe they'll get inspired, or maybe they think I'm a crazy silver-haired woman with sticks. Which I may be.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Coming Along...

Well, the shawl is coming along. I've got about 5" done (and what? 5 FEET more to go yet??) and I can't say I'm disappointed in the yarn.
Actually, I really LOVE the yarn. The pattern is at least even. Maybe it'll take another 5" before I'm comfortable with how it looks, because it doesn't look that way in the Knit-a-Day page. But then, this is a different yarn and probably bigger needles than what that swatch was completed with.
I can say that at least it's consistent. And it's draping beautifully. If I can get the picot edge to straighten out the ends, I'll be a happy camper. The top shot is just the shawl on the needles; not stretched or blocked or anything; I weighted down parts with coasters and a glass egg... Hey - I'm using what I've got here!!
This picture is up close. You can "kind of" see the arrowhead design; and the holes are regular, which gives the piece a general lace-ish look. And at this point, consistent is where I want to be. I'll block it when I'm done and we'll go from there. Either way, my friend will love it and I'm not going to freak out because it "doesn't look like the picture."
This project is one of those leaps of faith that every knitter takes at least once. In my mom's case, her first leap was her last! She told me that she knitted a pair of argyle socks for my grandpa. And that "everyone in my high school class" was doing it, so she went along with it. And hated every stitch! She's an outstanding seamstress, but can't and won't pick up another pair of knitting needles in spite of my grandma's being a very talented needlewoman. I kept telling my mom that at our LYS, there are women her age who "got past the socks" but she's not budging.
Mind you, I've never knitted socks. So I may hate them. However, at least with this project, I will have conquered rudimentary lace. And YO. And PSSO. And a good hearty mix of LOL with it!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I See Nothing Wrong... requiring illegal immigrants to pay fines, back taxes, perform community service and become proficient in English in order to earn citizenship. I may have my "liberal" card revoked, but here are my thoughts on the whole "immigration reform" thing. First off, in full disclosure, my great-grandparents came here via Ellis Island. At least I'm certain of my mom's side. Still working on finding out about my dad's side, since there aren't any oldsters alive. So. Arizona passes what I call a "Walking While Brown" bill - nothing much will convince me that it's going to lead to profiling. But I can sort of see their side. When CA enacted their crackdown, illegals just moved over a bit. And from what I understand, the crime rate in AZ is rather high, and the "mafia" and drug stuff going on in Mexico makes it pretty scary. There's much talk about "what to do" and "people's rights" - folks hollering about how the people come across the border "because there's no work" or because they're trying to provide for the families they left behind. Fine. But they're STILL illegal. No matter if they come from Mexico or Poland. Illegal is illegal. And amnesty is not a good tool. It's a whack in the chops for those who did go through the process. The law proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is just in its infancy. Part of it includes: biometric identification cards for worker verification - would stop illegal hiring at its source; stronger enforcement of the laws; and a pathway for the illegals already here. And that's where the first paragraph here comes in. According to an article in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek, "Some aspects seem overly discouraging to illegal immigrants, such as requiring them to pay fines and back taxes, perform community service, and become proficient in English in order to earn citizenship." Would you rather spend the time being deported or jailed??? Come on. Get a grip. You are here illegally. In English, that's called "a crime" and you can be fined, jailed or deported. Here's what I call my "Grandma Rant" --- when my great-grandparents came over, there was no bilingual anything. No "Press One for Polish." They learned English. They paid taxes. They worked. They were sponsored by relatives or friends. My great-grandparents were treated as "ignorant immigrants" but all of them knew at least 3 languages. Not too shabby for "uneducated" folks. One thing that doesn't seem to be making much of a wave is the whole sub-standard wage thing. The rallying cry is that illegals "will do jobs most Americans won't." Well, tell that to my unemployed kid who had to move back home. It's not that he won't do just about any job he can find. It's that he can't even afford gas at $6.50/hour - which is what a recent job in our town was paying. How about this? We make EVERYONE get paid a decent wage. That will be a double-win for everyone. Those who've been unemployed will have a shot at a job that actually pays a wage they can live with (i.e. pay for gas, rent, etc.) and those who are hiring people specifically to under-pay them (i.e. "exploit" them) will be forced to hire people at a regular wage; and will be fined for not doing so. Politics will likely intrude, as it always does. But if the Feds don't do something quickly, other border states will continue these types of ploys. Eventually, we'll either become a country known for its inhospitable treatment or we'll be known as a country that can't get anything done.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"America's Chernobyl"

...and no, I can't take credit for the title. It was from some caller on a talk show. And he's right. The BP "It's not OUR fault" spill is going to be a huge disaster. Built on a pile of lies. BP says they leased the rig out to one company. Halliburton (remember, Cheney's "retirement plan" company with all the no-bid Iraq contracts??) made the concrete thingies that failed, and BP says it "only owns the land upon which the rig was built." Not their rig, not their crew, not their baby. This makes the Valdez screw-up look like a sneeze. This is gonna ripple all the way up the East Coast and it's going to cost the Gulf states in terms of tourism and industry for decades. Let's see. The Supreme Court says that a corporation now has the same rights as a person. So they have the same responsibilities. At least there are littering laws. And at most, there are charges of murder that can be filed. Somewhere in between there, there's gotta be some "assault and battery" that can be said to have happened to the people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods. I know - it seems far-fetched. And BP is already up with the conciliatory statements of "we're willing to do everything we can to help." Well, you could've bought the shut-off valve they use in Norway and other European areas. Oh, hang on. That cost a few thousand bucks more. The object of a corporation is to increase shareholder wealth. Don't bother with that couple thou' - nobody'll notice if we use a cheaper shut-off valve. This rig was designed to withstand a hurricane. Well. Apparently BP never heard of the idea of a fire on an oil rig. There's no contingency plan, folks. This wasn't even on the radar for the corporation in a "worst case scenario" play book. Another caller said he wondered if "Someone was trying to tell us something." Let's see: Financial crisis; housing crisis; off-shore drilling approved. BOOM!! Off-shore rig catches fire. Corporation takes no overt responsibility, and people say the government (of which some want less) "didn't do enough" in the first days. What? The Coast Guard "isn't enough??" People can't have it both ways. This is a mega-watt spotlight on how we can't allow corporations to duck their responsibilities. The Administration needs to submit a bil to BP. And BP must - absolutely must - "man-up" and pay for this. If it's their oil, it's their problem. Period.