Friday, April 30, 2010

Summer's Here in PA

So glad to see the temperatures are going to be in the eighties this weekend where I live!


Warm Weather Friend
I have always much preferred hot weather to any other. And I truly hate the cold weather, and hate it more and more with each aging year.

Throwing on some shorts and a short-sleeve shirt today was my dream come true. I only went out shopping and to run a few errands, but I loved being out in this weather.

Keep it coming Mama Nature...you've definitely got a warm-weather friend.

Current Knitting
I got some more done on the fingerless gloves I'm doing as a thank you gift.



Finished the first glove and started on the second one (a few ends to weave in as well you can see!).

The pattern is a free pattern from Knitty called Broad Street Mittens by Janis Cortese. I'm not doing the mitten-top part, and I'm not knitting a full thumb as it calls for in the pattern. Overall, the pattern is very detailed and very well designed. The one issue I have with the pattern is that with all the detail Janis gives with the left-hand glove, she makes the knitter figure out the right-hand glove.

It takes a bit of figuring out too...but I still think the design creates an amazingly well-fitted glove.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Sue asks, "Will you be doing the same type of thing in your new job as your old one? How long were you in the old one?"

My new job is exactly like my old job, except with a different logo on my polo shirt. I will travel to client sites and help companies implement their systems. I was at my last company for only 8 months...they acquired my company after my company of 12 years went bankrupt. Fortunately, there is lots of demand for what I do, so moving between jobs was easy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Computer-less

Going from one extreme, of being totally connected at all times through my laptop, wireless access and my BlackBerry, to having to fight Thaddeus to get access to my e-mail, has got me jittery.

Is It A Sign of Addiction...
...when I twitch and grab at my pocket, trying to see the latest e-mail or Facebook entry that has come through, only to realize that I'm BlackBerry-less for at least 2 weeks?

No need to answer this question...I think I know the answer.

My new job starts on May 10th, but today was my last day at my old company. Since I relied entirely on my work laptop and BlackBerry, I'm feeling a bit disconnected and disconcerted now that I've had to turn both in, and won't get them from my new company for almost two weeks.

Just don't get too irritated if I'm slower to respond to a critical e-mail than I used to be.

Current Knitting
I am finally finished with all the color-blocks on the Zaire pullover...both front and back.


Now I just need to do the shoulders and sleeves and collar, but I have to admit, the instructions for the shoulder have be a bit perplexed. They just don't seem correct, but I will re-check once I get back to this project.

I did start on a little thank-you gift for one of the staff of the retreat center where we have the Men's Knitting Retreat. He has been extremely helpful, and I thought he might like a nice pair of fingerless gloves, so I started on them today.

I'll post a picture of them when they at least have finger holes.

Belated Kiwi Gifts
My adorable friend James sent a lovely package all the way from New Zealand. I'm sure he sent it prior to my birthday, but it just arrived last week...it's a long way from the other side of the planet.


He knows how appreciative I am that I actually got one of the give-away bags for his New Zealand Mens' Knitting Retreat. The project bag is perfect, and the amazing amount of stuff he filled it with is incredible.

He also sent along a hank of his own hand-dyed sock yarn (sorry, no picture), but it's in my favorite colors of deep, saturated blues and greens and reds...just gorgeous.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my Microsoft love-post, Marilyn writes, "SharePoint is one of MS's finest products. Have you ever used it?"

I don't think I have, although I have used a number of content management softwares at various clients, and it seems like one of those programs that corporations re-name when they roll it out, so I may have used it under a different name, but I can't be sure.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Horizons

I can finally announce this publicly...I'm starting a new job on May 10th.

Well...Not Really New
It's actually the exact same kind of work I've been doing for about 13 years now, except I'm leaving my current company and starting up with a new firm.

Mostly, it seemed that many of my talented co-workers were heading to this new company. With a few of them already there, I feel as though I have a pre-established network that I can rely on to help me through the transition and start being productive on day-one.

I'm very please at how everything worked out. They hired me starting May 10th despite the fact that I'm off the following week for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat. You gotta love a company that understands a man's priorities!

Current Knitting
Made a bit more headway (although it's not exactly clear in this photograph.


I've added another 2 squares (almost) to the top row of squares on the back of the Zaire pullover. Two more squares to go, then the shoulders and the sleeves and the collar, and it'll be done!

Current Spinning
I finished up the first bobbin's worth of spinning and started on the second one, spinning up this lovely natural colored Cormo roving.


The final yarn will be a lofty fingering weight yarn, or perhaps a light-weight DK. I'll look forward to seeing the final result of this wonderful fiber.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my shameful admittance about liking Microsoft Office softwares, Formerly-No-Blog-Rachel asks, "So....how do you feel about Outlook?"

I actually like Outlook...or I should qualify...I like it MUCH better than my current e-mail system, Lotus Notes...which I absolutely HATE.

Keisha follows up with, "I have to ask this: Even Office 7.0?"

Yes, although the transition to the new navigation has been a bit difficult. One of the things I like about the new version is that it's more consistent between software...it used to be that you could do certain things in one application, but couldn't do a similar thing in another, like Excel used to be limited to just a few colors, whereas PowerPoint and Word had virtually unlimited color choices. So I like the consistency. Once I'm used to the navigation, I'll be a little happier with it.

Fredda writes, "THAT's your ugly shame?? Try harder!"

Okay...again, I need to qualify...that's my ugly shame that I'm willing to announce publicly. I'm not trying to make readers completely hate me after all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

QueerJoe's Ugly Shame

Every once in a while, I find myself saying this to prospective clients or in job interviews...

...I Love Microsoft Office!!
I know, I know...how could I love the non-Applie, bug-ridden software of a company like Microsoft?

But I do.

I can make Excel do things that would make an accountant blush. Create a vlookup and then display it in a fantastic pivot table...insert a nested "if" statement that makes lesser men go cross-eyed...sort, filter and create distinct lists of individual data with blinding speed.

And I can do amazing things with Word, PowerPoint, Project and Visio as well.

I started my PC life with Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect, and I thought I would never love any others...I raged against the ever-popular Word and Excel when they started to become the standard. And now, I have clearly been assimilated.

Yes, I know shame.

Current Knitting
I finally got a burst of knitting done, and I am on the last row of squares on the back of the Zaire pullover.


This means, I have four more squares to finish before doing the shoulders, collar and sleeve. I'm hopeful to have a bit more time over the course of the next few weeks, so I should be able to power-knit through the remainder of this garment.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Just wanted to point out...any readers that haven't read Carol's blog in a while, her latest Blog Tour book review (on Knits Men Want) is partially written by her husband, Tom...If you haven't stopped by lately, it's worth the mouse-click to check it out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Movie Recommendation

It's not often that I see a movie that I think is exceptional in many ways that I think others will enjoy as much as I did, but the other day, I saw one of them.

Caveat
For folks that can't tolerate very personal violence portrayed in a movie, this one is definitely not for you...even I found a couple of the scenes to be quite shocking.


The movie is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo...a Swedish film (original title Män som hatar kvinnor, which I think means "Men Who Hate Women," which I also think is a MUCH better title...in fact, the English title of the movie was the only thing I objected to about the movie).

The casting and acting was exceptional, the story was...well, thrilling...it is a thriller after all and the cinematography was nothing short of perfect. In addition to having all the excellent components, the movie comes together into a masterpiece.

If only my sweaters were as superlative.

Current Knitting
I finished the last square on the front of the Zaire pullover, and have really only just started on the upper two rows of squares on the back.

I also decide with some recent travel to finally finish the Asherton Scarf by Smariek on Ravelry. I got about halfway through one of the 36 row repeat and realized I had misread the instructions so I had to rip it all out.

I have no knitting progress to speak of!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mark (BklnQ) writes, "Sour cherries? Where do you find sour cherries? Don't they come in a can?"

Yes, they can sometimes come in a can, and they are getting harder and harder to find fresh anymore. Shortly (in May, I think) the sour cherries are harvested, and we are able to find fewer and fewer of them at our local orchards here in Bucks County. I was glad to hear that one of our favorite orchards just told Thaddeus that they planted 20 more sour cherry trees...just not sure how quickly they'll yield cherries!

Shauna writes, "Please don't lump us (conservatives/Republicans) all in with the radical fringe who don't represent the majority of us."

Thanks Shauna...I know there are very concerned and civil citizens who also hold conservative viewpoints. I appreciate your response. It really just frightens me that so many of the conservatives seem to be encouraging the hate...glad you have not been swayed by them.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Lead Paint Eaters - Revisited

When Jag wrote in comments the other week,
"So much for civil discourse, someone has to stop the stereotypical generalizations. As a gay man I thought that you would have endured enough of that to not inflict it on people who don't agree with you.
"Time to stop pandering to the lead-paint-eating rabid teabaggers"
"Republican whiney-babies"
"that only the most insane crazies seem to get any play in primary elections"
You should be ashamed of yourself."
I was going to ignore it...I don't agree with him/her...but I certainly have no problems publishing opinions other than mine.

What Is Stereotyping Anyway
Stereotyping means to me, painting all of the people in one group as having similar attributes. So for instance, if I had had written, "All teabaggers are lead-paint-eating." or "All Republicans are whiney-babies." I could have easily been accused of stereotyping.

What I did say, is that it appears as though candidates like JD Hayworth are pandering to the worst types in those two groups, and the news organizations are focusing widely on what I would consider a radical fringe element.

And Jag, when some of the hate speech as described in the video below are getting more and more prevalent, it may have me start actually stereotyping:



Current Knitting
At this point, I'm almost done with the front body section of the Zaire pullover.



Unfortunately, this sweater doesn't travel well on planes (it's a bit unwieldy), so with a couple of flights scheduled this week, I haven't got a bunch of knitting finished.

Current Spinning
A while ago, I bought a Cormo fleece at Rhinebeck, with all sorts of good intentions of scouring it and carding it. I found that Cormo isn't the best type of fiber to process on a drum carder (or hand-carders for that matter!). When I threatened to throw the whole fleece out, Ted stepped in to adopt this fiber-mess. He was able to successfully have this fleece carded (beautifully, btw) by a local wool mill, and he generously gave me back some of this awesome roving.

I've started spinning this, and I'm loving it more than I can say.


Readers' Comments/Questions
RonHuber writes, "Does Thaddeus keep his cherry pie recipe a secret? It looks divine. What does he use to thicken the fruit filling?"

It's not a secret, per se, but like any pie, it's more technique than it is ingredients...and he also adapts the recipe based on how juicy the cherries are, etc., so I don't have specific amounts. He does pre-cook the cherries (sour cherries) and he uses corn starch as the thickener. He doesn't use a lot of sugar, as we both like a more tart pie. His crust uses one stick of unsalted margarine finely food-processed into the flour, and then one stick of unsalted butter coarsely food-processed in, followed by just enough very cold ice-water to bring the dough together. He wraps the dough in cling wrap and refrigerates it before rolling it out.

Another recipe-related question from Anne Marie in Philly, "Perhaps Thaddeus would kindly share his bread recipe with your adoring fans?"

It's actually not his recipe...it's the "Italian Batter Bread" recipe from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. He's modified it slightly to rise in two longer loaves and cooks it in one of those French loaf pans, but either way, the bread is awesom.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sorry To Have Gone Missing

It's hard enough to squeeze in a blog entry when my week is crazy and not on an ordinary schedule, but it's even harder when you have no knitting to blog about.

I Like Routine
As someone that does project-related work, you'd think that I'd adapt more easily to changes in my routine and schedule, but that's not been the case.

I finished up a 3-year project a couple of weeks ago, and now as I await my next assignment, my days are filled with last-minute requests to help out on presentations, instant messages from co-workers, spontaneous trips into the Philadelphia office, etc., etc. Nothing is scheduled or routine, and that makes it very difficult to fit in both knitting and blogging about said knitting.

I'll try to be better.

Thanks to all the folks that wrote, worried about what had happened to me last week.

Current Knitting
I finally got back to work on the Zaire pullover.



You'd think it would have gone even faster, given that the front an back are now being worked separately, but alas, I only got three additional squares layered onto the garment in the last week.

But I'm liking how this is looking more and more

Birthday Celebrating
This past Easter Sunday was also my 51st birthday. Part of the celebration including eating Thaddeus' baked goods...he makes an amazing batter bread which I could easily eat for the rest of my life, but I also got birthday pie.


Thaddeus made his famous cherry pie, and it was just sublime. I can't think of any better way of celebrating the aging process than eating awesome cherry pie.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Zaire, Seanna Lee asks, "Are you going to do a couple of rows of the diamonds (squares, what have you) and then go back to a solid color, or do you think you are going to keep the square motif all the way up?"

Since I'm unfamiliar with the shaping of the arm holes and the neck, and I don't want to have to re-invent them, I'm going to follow Ms. Isager's pattern, and do mitered squares all the way up (on both the front and the back).

Marty asks, "BTW did you see the video of Bush and Clinton in Haiti? After shaking hand with Haitians, Bush wiped his hand on Clinton's sleeve."

Yes, I actually thought it was quite funny. It gave me the distinct impression that Bush thought he had that kind of relationship with Clinton, but Clinton didn't think the same thing. Here's the YouTube video for those that didn't see it.



Back to the Zaire pullover, Kerry asks, "Joe, that green at the base of your sweater is lovely. What brand is it?"

It's actually an ancient Shetland yarn from Jamieson yarns that I bought when I used to work at the old Tomato Factory yarn store in Lambertville, NJ. The owner had big heads of Shetland jumper weight yarn that I could buy in lieu of getting paid to work there. It was a no-brainer, but I have no idea what the color is, or whether they still make it.