Saturday, June 30, 2012

Little Voices

When corporations or entire industries decide to spend money, they can persuade an enormous number of people to their way of thinking.  Little voices, like this blog, are the only ways regular people, like me have of trying to set things straight...so to speak.

Health Care
This issue is rather simple.  For-profit health insurance companies want to make money.  Health care providers (hospitals, doctors, etc.) want to make money.  Insurance companies make money every time they deny a claim for services...it is in their best interest to deny claims (how many of you have ever had to submit the same claim multiple times before it was paid...how many more of you have ever given up after the first or second denial?)  To make up for unpaid health care costs, hospitals and doctors increase their fees, so they can maximize what the insurance companies and patients combined will pay them.

So, the insurance companies don't want certain provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)...like exchange pools for the uninsured...so they trash the entire concept, and many people believe it's a bad idea.  Combined with the conservative/Republican hatred of anything-Obama, the public opinion of Obamacare is low.

That will change when 2014 rolls around, and the benefits start to become clearer and clearer.

I further predict, that the public will start to realize that government-sponsored health care will be a great thing (by taking the profit motive out of it), and eventually, Obamacare will be extended even further to allow Medicare for everyone who wants to pay into it.

Seems like a perfect solution...the insurance companies don't want to create uninsured exchange pools...let the uninsured buy into Medicare instead.

See?  Simple.

Current Knitting
I have been LOVING knitting the Milano blanket.




It's going to be an extended project to make the blanket as large as I want it, but I love the colors, the pattern is simple and enjoyable and the progression of colored stripes makes me want to make it to the next on and then the next one...and so on.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Benita asks, "So, does this mean you will be pushing back retirement now that you are your own boss? Or was this what retirement was supposed to be anyway?"


Retirement was originally scheduled for April of 2013.  It looks like it might take me a bit longer to reach my retirement goals (financial), but even so, being an independent contractor will allow me to decide if/when I want to work a lot more easily than being part of a consulting company.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fruition

I've been on the equivalent of paid leave since about May 10th.  Mostly it's been good, but there's been some worry and stress about what I would do after I was "rolled off" my latest project in Edmonton.

New Employment Status
For the last 14 years, I've worked for various consulting firms.  The sell project work, and I get assigned to those projects.  The companies I work for, and the skill set I bring to the project are worth enough that they can charge the client a lot for my services and pay me what I consider a lot in return.

Since I was between projects, I decided it was a good time to look at becoming an independent consultant...or in essence, working for myself.

I made contact with some other independent contractors I know and also some companies that were looking to do projects that would normally need my skills (PeopleSoft Benefits Administration, if you want to know).

After all was said and done, I start work as an independent contractor in a couple of weeks, and I am now my own employer.

It's both exciting and stressful...but mostly exciting.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Current Knitting/Sewing
I've done quite a bit of work on the Milano stitch blanket using various sock yarn.



It's only about 7 inches of knitting, but it's very wide.  I'm not sure how wide yet, but I'm guessing about 90 inches across.  I'm loving the way it's looking and I think the final blanket will be spectacular looking.

I also continued work on the Zara linen stitch pullover (up to about 11 inches).  I ran out of the blue yarn (I'm pretty certain I have a ball or two of it SOMEWHERE in the house, but I couldn't find it).  I replaced it with a slightly different color and and weight of yarn, but it won't be noticeable in the overall design (I don't think!).



Finally, I finished sewing the second neck tie using the Kaffe striped fabric I got from Liza at Glorious Colors.



The second tie is about 3 inches longer than the first, but they both look great, and I think they'll make an impressive gift.

Readers' Comments/Questions
PTKW3925 writes "Odd, it looks to me as though the "little metal twisty thing to tighten the joins" is there on the side with the smaller size needles, just above the right hand side end caps.  What does appear to be missing is the rubber gripper circle that you use in conjunction with the metal twisty thing."


Actually, the kit looks like it was supposed to have two of the "little metal twisty things."  Perhaps it's an older model that didn't have the rubber grippers, or there were supposed to be those too.  Regardless, the kit works, and I'm thrilled to have the kit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets

Recently, I saw the results of a survey showing whether people that think it's okay to pee in the shower.  The results were by State no less.

Not Far Enough
What I realized is, this survey left me wanting WAY more information.  Is it okay to pee in the ocean where swimmers are? Is it okay to pee in a swimming pond?  Is it okay to pee in a public swimming pool?  Is it okay to pee in your own swimming pool (assuming you have one).  Is it okay to pee in your bath whilst soaking?

I mean really...who was taking this poll anyway?

I was going to create such a survey, and link to it here, but the moment is passed, and a quick google search revealed others have done similar surveys anyway.

Cliff Hanger
So, for those that didn't know (and actually care) what was in the US$2 case shown on my last blog post, here it is.



Yes, as some of the comments noted, it is an interchangeable needle set (by Boye...not the Addi Clicks!...that would have been an amazing find).

The only thing missing was one of the little twisted pieces of metal used to tighten the joins (I think)...and come to think of it, it may have originally had some instructions.

Current Knitting
I did a VERY little bit of knitting on the Zara Linen Stitch Pullover.



You can see I added a total of 12 rows since last photographed on the blog.

I did start a new project based on a stitch I saw on Pinterest and looked like fun.



The stitch was in a Brenda Dayne podcast and she called it the Milano Stitch.

I thought it would make a great blanket, so I'm doing it VERY loosely with sock yarn, changing the colorway of the yarn every eight rows. 



It makes a very soft and cushy fabric.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fun Things

Lately a few more fun things have come into my life.  Two from the local flea market and one from a friend.

Collector or Hoarder?
Soon, it will become more difficult to draw the line between having a bunch of fun things in my house and being a "buried-alive-hoarder."

But for now, it all still seems like a lot of fun!

The first thing I've acquired lately is a great new knitting book, called Cache-Théière, Fous, Fous, Fous by Loani Prior.



This is obviously the French version, but there is an English version called Really Wild Tea Cosies. I like the French title better.

The book is chock-a-block full of brilliantly crazy ideas for knitted tea cozies (or cosies for the British and colonies thereof).  Prior's sense of color and whimsy is just brilliant and now I will have to both create a tea cozy for one of my many teapots, but I will also have to start drinking more tea.

Second thing was a great little piece of folk art I found at my local flea market.



This ingenious little sculpture has a little drawer to hold buttons or thread spools or other notions, plus it holds the scissors in the most clever of ways.  It also has little dowels for holding thread spools and the wings of the bird are pin cushions.  Even the old paint on the scissors handle is amazing.

Finally, I just picked this up at the flea market this morning for US$2.00.



Does anyone know what it is?  Recognize it?  I must say, I'm glad it was open, because I never would have known what was inside and I would have missed this amazing deal.

I'll do the "reveal" in my next blog entry.

Current Knitting
I've done a bit more work on the linen stitch pullover, and started a new blanket project.

I'll also update the blogs with photos of works-in-progress on the next entry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Perspective

I've read something like this on Facebook a few times lately "Everything will be fine in the end.  If it's not fine, it's not the end."


Calling All Open Minds in the U.S.
In my mind, democracy in this country is now officially a sham.  Rich and powerful people in this country have made a gamble and it's paid off big time.  They basically bet that they could influence the minds of most people if they threw enough money at advertising, lobbying, public relations, etc.  And many minds have been changed.

Don't get me wrong, eventually, most intelligent Americans will regain their moral compass and come to realize that greed, self-centeredness, and disdain for the less-fortunate are not the ideals they should be having.

It just scares me when I try to assess how long that will take.

I do have a request for anyone reading this...please stay active in the democratic process and make political decisions based on your personal morals...all of them.

I fear there are going to be some very dark times ahead based on the stage that has been set.  I'm also thinking that with Wisconsin taking away workers' rights to organize, we're going to have to start organizing more at the national level.


Current Knitting/Crochet/Sewing
Yes, I'm working on a lot of things lately.

Sewing - I've almost finished a second tie (looks VERY much like the first one, except a bit longer) and will post photos when it's finished.

Crochet - I started up a new idea of "crochet beads" to make a small piece of colorful jewelry for a friend of mine.







A very simple idea, but they crochet up quite quickly and make a great light-weight "bead" that could easily be used as a separator bead or even flat-face-front on an earring or medallion.


Knitting - Some of you keen-eyed readers may have noticed the background for the photos above is actually the Zara linen stitch pullover.   I've continued to make some progress  on the sweater as well.


I still have about 5 inches to knit before I get to the arm holes (and I have no idea what I plan on doing when I get there...but I'll figure it out).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ginny asks, "Having not made a tie before, did you use a pattern?"

I did...I found the pattern on Pinterest...here it is.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Recall Bought Off

I guess there isn't anything the Koch brothers can't buy.

Confound and Confuse
The strategy is brilliant.  I posted a comment about the Koch brothers expensive purchase of the election in Wisconsin, and a guy I grew up with commented something about how union employees should get unfair/unsustainable/socialist benefits.

So the conservatives were able to re-frame the recall so it wasn't about eliminating democratic campaign contributions from unions in Wisconsin and it wasn't about a Governor who did something no one asked him to do (or elected him to do).  It was about the unfair pension police and teachers in Wisconsin get.

The only hope we have is that people wise up a bit and stop being so easily swayed by millions of dollars in advertising.

Current Project
I showed some fabric I purchased from Glorious Colors (Liza).  Here's what I made with it.



I LOVE how this turned out.  I loved it so much, that I even tried it on.


Despite how I display it worn, the tie is a bit short for a 6 foot tall man, so I will be making another one for my gift to Charles.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Nasi Goreng???



Have you ever heard of this dish?  And if not, why not?

Food Imports
Most of the people of North America have had fried rice and many have tasted, or at least heard of Lo Mein or Pad Thad.  Some folks may even have had the pleasure of eating Mai Fun, or Singapore Rice Noodels.  I like all of these dishes, but when I was in Singapore, I got to try an Indonesian version of spicy fried rice called nasi goreng and I have been amazed that it hasn't been imported with enthusiasm to the states.

Any time I met and Indonesian person, I'd ask them if they think nasi goreng is incredibly delicious, and when they inevitably said that it was, I would ask why don't you ever see it in North American restaurants?

They would always seem as perplexed as I was (or perhaps startled by some American nut-case).

A friend of mine who was born in Holland (she's Hollish) and was raised by her grandparents knew all about this dish.  Her grandparents had raised four transported Indonesian children (not quite sure how that happened), and the grandmother learned how to make certain Indonesian dishes, including nasi goreng...and taught her granddaughter how to as well.

Two of the ingredients that I needed which I didn't have readily available for the dish were, Sambal Oelek , or red chile past, and Kecap Manis , or sweet soy sauce and (and pronounced like Ketchup Manis). I also purchased a packet of seasoning specifically for making Nasi Goreng.

I would highly recommend trying to make this dish...it's indescribably delicious and worth the effort of gathering the ingredients. Or try to wrangle yourself an invitation to my house or the house of any of your good-cooking Malaysian friends!


Current Knitting/Crochet
I've finished the Spiral Square baby blanket in Poem Sock yarn with the Trekking XXL yarn border.

Here is the blanket unwashed and unblocked.


And here it is machine washed, machine dried and steam blocked.


The machine washing and drying did very little to the knitted fabric (of either yarns) except make them a bit softer