Sunday, March 29, 2009

Basketball and The Agony of Defeat

We just returned home from three days at an annual Homeschool Basketball Tournament in which 3 of our boys were competing. We stayed at a hotel with at least 30 families from our homeschool group and caught as many basketball games as we could. While the adults filled the hotel lobby late at night following the last game of the day, the kids filled (and I do mean filled) the hotel pool for a party of their own. Our athletes ranged in age from 18 down to 8 with quite a few younger siblings in tow. One of my greatest pleasures is watching my older teens and their friends cheering for their little brothers during a game... and vice versa.

The kids had a blast... and I must admit that while the hectic pace of the trip is a bit much for me, I had a pretty good time myself. Until the final game... at which point I experienced a heartbreak unlike any previous sports induced experience of my life.

All of my boys had their share of wins and losses at the tournament, but my middle boy... oh man... his last game was something else. His tournament got off to a rocky start when the head coach and his sons (two of the starters) got stuck in traffic and didn't get to the game until half-time. DH helps coach so he got the boys started and they really rallied to comeback from a 16 point deficit to make it a game in the 2nd quarter... although they ended up losing in the end. And what does my 12 yo say when I tell him I'm sorry he lost? "Why? I had a great game. I scored 21 points Mom and had a blast!"

They fought hard and won their second game the next morning (in spite of looking a little fatigued from a late night of swimming). Then a couple of hours later, they got to play for 3rd place. They were down 13-0 in the first quarter, and came back to keep the score close for the rest of the game.

Then, with the score TIED and 20 seconds left, my son gets put on the free throw line... and sinks both baskets!! I have never seen so much joy on his face and our crowd was going crazy. Then, with 6 tenths of a second left in the game, the ball went out of bounds. The other team passed it in and a boy on their team turned around and, in what was I'm sure the longest second in history, sunk a three-pointer to win the game. And my happy little boy sat on the bench in tears... little trails made their way down his dirty face. And my heart just broke. (To make things worse, we soon found out that a time-keeping error had interferred and the victory shot souldn't have counted... but seriously, it's hard to fault somebody when you're talking about tenths of a second.)

He had poured his heart into every game and was the team's leading point scorer for the tournament. He and his teammates fought so hard and even some of the less skilled players on his team stepped up and played like champs... we were so proud of all of them. Then the head coach, without even talking to my husband about the other players, put his own son's name in for tournament MVP for our team. While my husband and I silently fumed because there were at least 3 other players including our own who should've been considered for the honor... and his preference would've been to let the kids vote as the other teams did, my son said, "I'm happy for him, he's a great player."

Sigh... he did not get that heart attitude from me... but maybe I can learn something from him.

But here is our little champ displaying the results of my basketball season knitting. At about 5 feet, it's now long enough to wrap around me while I knit, so one or two baseball games should get me to the end.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just Another Day

I swear, I have spent the last 48 hours driving in circles... classes, practices, home, repeat.

But I did finish my first Under the Sea sock. I probably shouldn't admit that I shaved my legs just to take this picture.

Under the Sea

And I started Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits. I have wanted to knit this since I got the book... I even had the yarn in my stash. I have no idea what took me so long.

Slinky Ribs

I'm using the suggested yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which I'm finding knits up much better on my Knit Picks Harmony needles instead of the nickle plated Options that I usually use. I am actually not quite this far since I made a lame mistake when removed the provisional cast-on for the shoulders that I'd really rather not talk about.

I was originally going to do the long-sleeved version, but I think this will be light enough for some summer time wear so I may do the short sleeved version.

Oh, and I have a friend who has just started the same sweater and we're racing! (She doesn't actually know that we're racing so I think I have a pretty good chance. Shhhh.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My First Sock Club Kit

Well, it just occurred to me that I promised you a glimpse of my first installment of The Loopy Ewe sock club awhile back but forgot to follow through... so, here it is.

Loopy Sock Club

The yarn is one of my favorites... Handmaiden Casbah in a special colorway. Also included was a pattern designed just for the yarn and a few other goodies. Check out those key chains! The blue thingy is a combination tape measure and pen! How cool is that?!

I'm almost done with the first sock so hopefully I'll have more pictures soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Living with a Short Fuse

Many years ago, our refrigerator broke. It just stopped working with no warning, no buzzes, no thumps, it just quit. DH and I made a visit to a local department store and after a couple of hours (I'm terrible at making decisions) we picked out just the right replacement. This was before stores actually got competitive and started offering same-day delivery and such... so we had to wait three days for our new fridge to be delivered. That would be three days living out of an ice chest and eating frozen foods as fast as we could.

Finally, day three arrived as did our fridge... somewhere near the end of the 6 hour delivery window for which I had taken time off work and waited pleasantly and patiently at home.

It was the wrong color.

They had their shipping dept contact me and began arrangements to correct the mistake. They could get it out in two days which I said would be fine as long as it was not between 12-1:00. They assured me it wouldn't be a problem.

So the next night I get a computerized call telling me that my new fridge would arrive Friday between... 12 - 2. I called their shipping dept. who insisted that no force of nature or computer could change the scheduled delivery and the best they could possibly do was to reschedule it for the following week.

Well, naively unaware that the shipping clerk really didn't give a hoot if I bought the fridge or not, let alone if I was happy or not, I decided to charm them with threats and told them to keep their stupid fridge. I would get one elsewhere.

So they cancelled the order and hung up.

I triumphantly turned around to my husband with a "see, I told them" expression and he simply asked, "So how are we gonna keep the food cold?"


This is not the only time my short fuse has been lit and I've let loose before reason has kicked in... self-control is not my strength and often I've ended up kicking myself in the end for reacting too soon.

But for once... for once... I can look back with relief that I reacted when I did because although I am suffering greatly with my friends, I have actually saved myself some grief. See, I got really angry last month with a few decisions made by the owners of Ravelry, so I decided to go through and delete the photos and details of all of my stash and projects as well as any posts I had made that included even the slightest of personal information. Then I fired off a note to Casey demanding that he remove me from the site.

Since then, there have been many moments of regret on my part because all my friends were still on Ravelry having fun and I didn't even know if I had enough Silky Wool for a new sweater without digging into my stash. However, Ravelry let the other shoe drop last night with a letter to all the suspended members with accusations too ridiculous for me to take time to defend myself against. (I'm trusting most of you who read my blog regularly regard me as neither vile nor prone to malicious intent. Although, now that I think about it, Lynn has called me a rabble-rouser.)

Within the letter from their legal dept (a guy named "Craig"), was the following paragraph:

At this time, your user account will remain in permanent suspension and you will be unable to access the Website for any purpose. If you have patterns that you have purchased and stored on the Website, we will email these to you within seven (7) days of this email. For people who have advertisements on the Website, they will be immediately removed. Since these advertisements are paid in the arrears, we will not be seeking payment for removed advertisements from advertisers who had their accounts suspended.

In other words, everyone who has been booted is unable to access or remove any of their personal project data, stash lists, images, or posts... although the data is all there along with their username, avatar and a message informing users that the "User is no longer active".

A couple of our members sold yarn on Ravelry through paid advertisements... their ads have been removed simply because they (or a family or friend!) were a member of our off-site group... even if they never posted or linked from our group to Ravelry.

We have designers who have been affected, but apparently Ravelry is still selling their patterns (we're not sure where this money might go if patterns are sold at this point).

Reputations have been smeared not only on Ravelry, but across the internet... and for many of these women, their reputation is part of their livelihood. (For me it just stings a bit.)

Anyway, for once I am relieved that I pulled my own plug before being given the boot... but more importantly, if you are using Ravelry, you should be aware of your risk as a designer, advertiser, or ordinary fiber lover. These women I'm talking about have been blindsided... they were not involved in anything improper (of that I can wholeheartedly assure you)... yet they have been banned and have lost access to their own private information. (And if any of you keep project and stash data on Ravelry, you know the time and energy that goes into keeping things up to date.)

Now I have said my last bit on the matter and am off to baseball/basketball practices with my knitting in tote.

Monday, March 16, 2009

FO: Ene's Scarf

On a much more positive note...

Ene's Scarf

I am in love with this latest finished knit.

Ene's Scarf

Ene's Scarf from Scarf Style
Apx 1.5 hanks of Malabrigo Sock in Alcaucil on size 6 needles.
(Alcaucil is Spanish for artichoke btw, and it does have a greenish tint in certain lighting.)

I loved every single minute of knitting this shawl.

Here's my best dealing-with-a-teenage-photographer expression.

Ene's Scarf

After the photo shoot, I proceeded to wear it the rest of the day... with my Levi's and Old Navy long-sleeved t-shirt. It feels wonderful... soft, squishy, and stretchy.

Perfection! (But making note to schedule appt. for haircut.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things you should know... and a few things I want to tell you...

I was so excited a couple years ago when I got my Ravelry invite. We had to wait weeks back then to get in, but once you were in it was like a knitter's heaven with access to patterns, yarns, finished items, and new friends to meet.

Thinking back, I guess my first clue should've been the personal profile page. It had all the typical questions: birthdate, years knitting, kids, pets, favorite curse word. Wait... that's not so typical. I blinked and left it blank... but in hindsight, it set a tone for the direction the site was heading. (Now, to be honest, that's not to say that I don't have a favorite curse word... I just try not to use it.)

Then came the day a few weeks later when my friend and I got our new t-shirts with the Rav motto, "Where my stitches at?" printed across the front. Fortunately, my friend's husband caught the derogatory play on words before we wore them anywhere and we were able to re-sell them immediately since everyone was dying to have them. But it occurs to me now that many women our age don't realize where that phrase comes from or how crude it is. (eta: for those who have asked, replace the "st" in stitches with "b"... nice, huh?)

Over time, I started noticing increasingly indecent avatars and it got to the point I couldn't go on the site with my boys sitting near me (you know... cracks and such). Then I started noticing groups that, based on language alone should be at the very least R-rated... and all this on a fiber site that was open to users as young as 12. All of this was became increasingly concerning so I began to avoid most of the groups and use it for the knitting resources.

Jumping ahead, last August or so, I joined a group for McCain supporters and subsequently became a moderator of the group. I'm not going to go into any details except to say that a lot of people did not like us being there and eventually managed to cause enough grief that, last month, Casey (the site owner) shut down our group (the first and only group to ever be shut down on Ravelry) and announced that he had to do so because we, the moderators, were doing a poor job. This was a lie, but I'll refer you to my friend EllieJane, who founded our group, if you want to hear our side of the story.

Needless to say we were hurt and angry, and I ended up leaving Ravelry (which you should know is almost impossible to do... and if you do get Casey to remove your account, all of your projects, stash, patterns, and posts still remain... fortunately I removed mine in advance).

The good news is that we were very blessed to have a member who was able to set up a private board off-site for us sometime ago so we could stick together as friends. However, this morning Ravelry decided to suspend the accounts of all members of our private board, (yes... the off-site board as he felt even it's existence caused him trouble) as well as any friends or family members on Ravelry who we might have shared a computer with at some point. There are more I'm sure based on the people who were former members of our group who have contacted me today to see if I knew what was going on. So I'm talking about 100 to possibly 400 people in all.

I never intended on saying anything about this until today. But now, beyond my reputation, Ravelry has now hurt, angered and embarrassed a very large group of people who I consider my friends. So I share this for all of them.

PS... The highlight of my day was stopping by a popular LYS in Burbank only to overhear two women complaining about the vulgarity and poor behavior allowed on Ravelry. I didn't say anything, but I did linger a few moments longer to soak up the complaints like music to my ears.

ETA: If you're on Ravelry, you should also know that there is a group of about 2000+ that exists solely for the purpose of seeking out drama, tension, disputes, or other things they find amusing among the Ravelry forums so they can link to the "amusing" thread and make fun of people behind their back. Since, according to my blogstats, they are linking to my blog through their own off-site board, I thought I should mention them too. Casey and Jess are well aware of their existence yet do not consider their behavior to be a problem at all. Just saying.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Too Low

Here's a picture that I've posted before, but it's one of my all time favorite pics of Son #2. It was taken... hmmm.... 6 or 7 years ago:

travis after first start

And here he is recently on his 15th birthday (he loves having his picture taken. not.):

T bday

DH was out of town so I took the boys out for a pasta dinner. They were all well behaved and I thoroughly enjoyed the time with them, in spite of the lady who sat across the room with her back towards us in her slightly too low on the hip jeans. I was hoping my dear 11 yo wouldn't notice but before we left I leaned over and casually asked him if his view was the same as mine. He nodded in the affirmative with a single word, "Crack". Sigh. So for my public service announcement of the day:

Please, for the love of humanity, keep it covered gals!

Anyway, I just received my first shipment from The Loopy Ewe Sock Club! I'm so excited! I've never been a part of a sock club before so it was great fun to open a package with a mystery yarn, pattern, and other goodies. I'll get pictures up soon, but don't want to spoil it for anyone who might still be waiting for theirs to arrive. (But I will tell you that the yarn is one of my absolute favorites!)

In the meanwhile, here's a peek at my Ene's Scarf which has me thoroughly addicted.

Ene's Scarf

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tea Anyone?

I'm boring. There... I'll just say it right up front. DH was out of town for a week, basketball season is in full swing, we've been enjoying some rainy days, and I've watched Mamma Mia at least a half dozen times. In other words, I've been busy.

I'm over halfway done with Ene's Scarf (and loving it!) and about halfway done with my Noro Clapotis. Both are great knits but not very exciting pictures.

Anyway, on a tangent here... Regardless of political affiliations, I've been talking to more and more people who are cringing at the debt that is going to be delivered to our children's generations by the mad-men (and -women... wouldn't want to leave Pelosi out... uh-uh) in DC who are living out the dream that money grows on trees.

So, I'm going to redirect you to the site of a blogging friend of mine who got out of her house to make a difference last week. She and her husband attended a Tea Party in their town to protest the DC pork and share their own story. She even got some national media attention!

Please visit TrafficKnitter... and Susan, I want to say thank you for speaking out!