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MUSIC, VIDEO (permalink) 01.28.2011
with 108 million views, i doubt there is anyone left who hasn't seen it.
that said, i find this to be one of the most mesmerizing and impressive videos, ever. and not just for the obvious reasons. i won't bore you with my reasons, just know that i have reasons, again, beyond the obvious ones.

KIDS (permalink) 01.27.2011
i am not an animal!!!
marty was putting medicine on anthony's legs before bed. he was resisting by twisting and crawling away from her because he wanted to rough-house with bella on the bed. seeing this as i passed by i went in and told anthony to hold still. he did not. so i grabbed him and held him on the bed so marty could put the medicine on. anthony told me to let him go. i said i wouldn't because he wouldn't hold still. anthony then told me as he struggled to get free, "you (squirm) don't (fight) treat (wiggle) people (twist) this way." marty and i did not reply as we were both trying to hide the fact that we were laughing from his effortful plea.

LIFE (permalink) 01.26.2011
this is going to make swimming the mile in three years look trivial.
for any of you who have deemed my current year's goal of knitting as less substantial or impressive than last year's goal of swimming a mile, i wanted to share a bit more about the endeavor. this time i have a teacher. this is unusual for my yearly adventures as i usually take them on alone. but a few things made me realize i would be better off with a mentor for this one.

in my first lesson i learned how to (1) cast on, (2) knit, and (3) cast off. my teacher would be proud to see me using proper terminology as she was quite non-plussed when i would say things like, "will you start my thing" or "look, i'm sewin' a coaster" or "can you do the endy thing for me". my love of repetitive, tactile routines like this made me a quick study. when i confessed to having mastered the first three elements, i received lesson two (below). i'm wondering if i should have picked something a more accessible like ascending everest or giving birth.

OK, here's another practice exercise:

Cast on 26 stitches

Row 1: (K2, p2) across to last two stitches, k2. This is a four-stitch repeat, because the bit inside the parentheses (which serve to indicate the pattern repeat) is 4 stitches wide - two knits, and two purls. So you'll just do that over and over - k2, p2, k2, p2, and so on, until you have two stitches left on your left needle. Knit those two stitches.

Row 2: (p2, k2) across to last two stitches, p2. This row is the opposite of Row 1. See what's happening? You're building narrow columns of stockinette stitches, two stitches wide. So your knits will always be stacked on your knits, and your purls will always be stacked on your purls. The fabric at this point is also, actually, reversible. Both sides look equally good, because the backside of the purls on Row 1 is a pretty column of knits, and the backside of the purls on row 2 does the same thing!

Repeat Row 1 and Row 2 for several more rows, or until you think you have the hang of it. You'll always be able to tell if you're on a Row 1 or a Row 2 based on what the first stitch should be - if you start the row looking at a purl, you're on a Row 2 (since it begins with p2). If you start the row looking at a knit, you're on a Row 1. Also - as an aside - this is called "reading" your knitting. And if you're a really proficient knitter, then you'll be able to read your lace or cables, find a mistake six rows down, ladder down to fix it, pick up the stitches in order, and no one will be any wiser. Or if you're me, you'll read your lace, find the mistake, throw the damned shawl across the room and cast on for a pair of socks instead.

A ribbing at its most basic level can be made from any alternating number of knits and purls - the cuff of your sweater, for example, is something like k1, p6 (viewed from the outside - "right" side), or p1, k6 (viewed from the inside - "wrong" - side). Most ribbings are described in shorthand as "__ by __" or "__ x __". For example, I often use 3x1 on sock cuffs. Any knitter will know what that means - k3, p1. And later there's twisted rib, and mistake rib (actually a deliberate technique), and lace rib and cabled rib, and even faux ribbing. But we won't worry about those for now :-)

Anyway, after you're tired of doing ribbing, you'll want to switch and do stockinette for a few more rows to help transition for your decreases. To make this switch, start after you've finished a Row 2 of ribbing (so that when you start the next row, you're looking at a Row 1 section). Instead of knitting and purling, you'll just knit all the stitches. Then on the next row, purl all the stitches. And so on and so forth, for another inch or two.

Now we're ready to learn how to do decreases. At their most basic level, there are two types of single decreases ("single decreases" are any decreases where you turn two stitches into one): left-leaning (the SSK), and right-leaning (the k2tog). Think of them as slash marks on the keyboard: one type of decrease will make your stitch look like this: / and the other type will make it look like this: \ . There are also many ways to do these decreases - I'm just going to show you one way of each - the most common way.

This decrease: / is done by making a "knit two together" (and is abbreviated as "k2tog"). It's just what it sounds like - when you're ready to make the decrease, instead of knitting 1 stitch, you will actually grab the next TWO stitches on your left needle, and knit them both as though they were just one. Once you've finished the stitch, those TWO that were on your left needle will become ONE on your right.

This decrease: \ is done by making a "slip slip knit" (and is abbreviated as "ssk"). This is a bit more complicated. What you will do is slip one stitch "knitwise" (poke your right needle in as though you were going to knit the stitch, but instead of knitting it you just slide it over to the right needle), then do the same thing to the next stitch - slip it "knitwise" as well - do this to each stitch one at a time, not both at the same time! Once both stitches are on your right needle, then you'll poke the tip of your left needle into those stitches, and knit them together. This has the same - but also the opposite - effect of the "knit two together": you're turning two stitches into one, but in this case you will notice that instead of looking as though the finished stitch is leaning toward the right, now your stitch appears to lean to the left. This is important in achieving symmetry in shaping! (for example, the neckline of a sweater will have SSK's on the right side and K2tog's on the left, so that the columns of decreases lean becomingly away from each other, rather than haphazardly all the same direction.

Here are videos demonstrating each technique:

OK, so here's what you should do, beginning on a right side row:

K3, ssk, K16, k2tog, K3

Now you should have 24 stitches on your needle, since you DECREASED two of them. Right? Yes.

Purl the next row as normal - decreases are generally (though not always) only done on right-side rows.

Next row:K4, ssk, K12 , k2tog, K4 (You should have 22 stitches now)

Purl the next row

Next row: K5, ssk, K8, k2tog, K5 (You should have 20 stitches now)

See what's happening? Your decreases are becoming visible on the right side (knit side) of your fabric, and they're starting to make a little pyramid shape! Like this:

  /      \
  /       \
 /        \

This is the same basic concept of how we will decrease stitches to shape the crown of your hat.

Carry on in this manner until you only have a few stitches left on your needle, and your pyramid is almost at its point - then I'll show you a double decrease :-)


KIDS (permalink) 01.24.2011
five dollars gas and a penthouse for my boy please
after alex's indoor soccer game this weekend, a coach of a team playing next asked if alex would like to play again as his team was short a player. we asked alex and, amenable as always, he said sure. i gave the coach the tip that alex was an outstanding mid-fielder and sent them on their way.

as marty has just spent the last hour wrangling anthony in the rec center while i helped coach alex's team, i said i'd keep anfer occupied. as we were walking to the bleachers to watch the game, a neighbor i haven't seen in a while stopped me to say hello. we exchanged pleasantries and when i turned to continue to the seats anthony was no longer at my side. my head panned around the large indoor arena for a sign of him amidst a sea of kids and parents. nothing. then i saw people in the stands laughing and pointing. i looked in the vicinity of their cheers and saw that moments after the whistle blew staring the next game, the one alex was playing in, anthony had climbed over the wall and was charging towards the goal. i immediately set out sprinting around the arena wall to where you could get on the field (by where the players sit). by the time i got there one of the coaches had run anthony down and handed him over the wall to me. i carried the fitful boy over my shoulder to the bleachers and sat him next to me telling him not to move.

after less then three minutes, he turned to me and said he was bored and wanted to go home. i told him alex just started playing in a game and we wouldn't be going home for an hour. he groaned. as i turned to address him further, i saw a colorful magazine under the bleachers. i told anfer he should go down and get that book and see if it was any good. it looked like a pokemon catalog or something but truth told only five minutes into my assignment of keeping tabs on the child, i wouldn't have cared if it was an x-rated anime catalog if i thought it would keep him within grabbing distance for the next fifty seven minutes.

MUSIC, VIDEO (permalink) 01.21.2011
proof that every man has a sportin' chance

PHOTO (permalink) 01.20.2011
snow day !!!

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.19.2011
a good quarter for dearmitt stock
when i talked about swimming a mile and shared the schedule, i commented that it looked less impressive on paper than it felt achieving the goal. a surprising number of people commented on my choice of words and said i was wrong and it did look impressive. but yesterday one fellow in particular, a friend i used to work with, took it a giant step farther than the other folks by vividly proving me wrong.

fact of the matter is, he was a bit astonished that i didn't graph it myself and instead used a pedestrian and mockable table to showcase the data. i have no defense but his email charting my effort put a big and excited smile across my face. thank you ryan b.

and he named his chart tdawesome.

more smiles.

KIDS (permalink) 01.18.2011
not exactly running with a surplus of common sense around here
it began with both boys choosing to get into the shower with their clothes on. it continued after they got soaked through and got out of the shower to walk around the house looking for me to ask if they could get in the shower with their clothes on.

glaring at the two boys dripping water on my hardwood floors, i chastised them both for their foolish choice. i sent alex back to the bathroom to take a proper shower and i stripped anthony's clothes from him and sent him to bed, crying (because he couldn't continue his shower).

then a partially informed marty who was downstairs when this took place brought a repentant and naked anthony before me to apologize and ask if he could return to the shower. she coached him through the steps of a negotiation prompting him at each turn. i smugly observed the teaching moment and said it was up to her but as far as i was concerned he should be sent to bed. marty vouched for the boy and escorted him to the bathroom. her first step onto the tile soaked her sock through as she experienced first-hand the boys' handi-work. it wasn't until then anthony wished he hadn't exercised the second-parent gambit.

following an episode like this i find myself whimsically contemplating how i'm going to spend our kid's college funds as it seems they may not have use or need for them.

VIDEO, MUSIC (permalink) 01.14.2011
in the event you haven't been one of the 2.6 million views

KIDS (permalink) 01.13.2011
dumpster briefcase, part 2
the night anthony slept with the briefcase, i had put him to bed. this meant that when marty went to bed, and was sleeping next to anthony who was in my spot, she had no idea his legs were propped up on a full-size, man's briefcase. he woke at one point in the night and complained that something didn't feel right. he reached under the covers and started tussling with something. she assumed he just had another erection and was trying to finagle into a more comfortable angle in his pants. then she saw him struggling with something and threw the covers back to see him fighting with a large, leather briefcase under the sheets.

her words to me in the morning, "i'm prepared for a lot of things in life but when he pulled that out from under the covers, i must say i was at a true loss."

i'd like to add that the sound that brought me from sleep that same morning was the loud spring release of the locks snapping open after anthony had un-scrumbled the combination upon waking, as promised.

KIDS (permalink) 01.12.2011
from a dumpster in the alley to my bed. lovely.
as i type this anthony is in my bed sleeping with his legs propped up on a locked, black-leather briefcase from the seventies. he knows the combo and plans on opening it first thing in the morning. this is why he has his legs on top of it right now. so he remember to open it first thing and so no one takes it from him while he's sleeping. after the initial opening in the morning, anthony will likely open it an additional forty to sixty times throughout the day. when he does open it, he will never take anything out of it, or put anything in it. he will just unlock it, open it, close it, and re-lock it by spinning the gold, number-dials. he may ask someone to scrumble the numbers for him. and if you say you're going to scrumble them so hard he'll never get it back open, he'll laugh hanging his upper torso over and doing everything but slapping his knee. when he composes himself enough to stand upright again he'll explain to you that you can't scrumble it too much because all he has to do is put all the numbers back on the circles (0's) and then he'll get it open again.

one of my kids pulled this briefcase out of a dumpster about four years ago.

who ever threw it out was kind enough to reset both the right and left flip locks so both sides were 0-0-0.

the combination thing reminds me of a friend of mine back in colorado-days who once found a bike lock on the sidewalk. it was one of those thin silver chain locks with a colored, usually blue or faded red, sleeve of plastic covering it. they had a four-number combination. after finding it he brought it home and over the next three months he and his three siblings would sit and try various combinations on the lock while watching television. they kept a notebook on the table with the lock and people would note the numbers they tried. they eventually discovered the combo. i don't recall how long it took them. it was in the months. and it was an impressive show of fortitude. (snake? do you recall?)

back to our briefcase.

there's always something in it. bella usually keeps her more personal journals in there. alex stores all sorts of random stuff in it which he re-discovers, with great fanfare, in later months and years.

approximately fifteen percent of our children's toys have been pulled, by them, out of dumpsters around our home.

as i think i've noted before, our hermit crab aquarium came from a dumpster. it still sports the red, raised-letter punch tape message that says PLEASE DON'T FEED THE ARTIFACT. we turn that message to the backside.

bringing things home they pulled out of dumpsters stands as one of my most vile, yet endearing, things my children do. in this father's eyes at least.

QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 01.11.2011
i can't help it that the boy is a walking sound byte.
i keep trying to sleep but i just can't get the hang of it.

anthony to me the morning after i had problems putting him to bed

COMPUTER (permalink) 01.10.2011
like a more scintillating game of clue.
there's a wireless network within reach of my home called "the pussy machine".

it seems i have a much more interesting, or deluded, neighbor than i previously knew i had.

MUSIC, VIDEO (permalink) 01.07.2011
a friday toe-tap

a great a cappella rendition of the king's rock with you

and the groovy original

and one of his most super, smooth bits of work back closer to his prime

KIDS (permalink) 01.06.2011
oh, well in that case.
anthony was standing in line at school. he reached forward and took something from the boy standing in front of him. the boy started crying. a teacher seeing this approached the boys and told anthony that we don't take things away from our friends. anthony looked at the boy and then back to the teacher and said, "but he's not my friend."

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.05.2011
the road to 40 laps
some more to yesterday's post about swimming the mile. below you will find what is essentially my buildup to a mile after i learned how to decently swim a single lap (without looking completely embarrassing). the telling thing about the below data is that once you get to ten laps, the world starts opening up because if you can swim ten laps, you can almost surely swim twenty. and then if you can swim twenty, thirty is just around the corner. and after swimming thirty, forty ain't much more than a drip in an already full bucket.

swim date
total laps swam
max consecutive laps in a row
09/08 15 2
09/12 20 3
09/15 20 3
09/19 22 3
09/22 23 4
09/25 20 2
10/13 22 5
10/17 26 6
10/23 27 7
10/27 30 8
11/03 35 10
11/14 22 20
12/04 35 30
12/12 42 40

sadly, it looks far less impressive on paper than experiencing it did. and i imagine the same will hold true for my twenty year effort to get my time from 54:27 to 29:59.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.04.2011
for any wondering
you may remember my earlier declaration to swim a mile. on december 12, 2010 @ 2:20 pm, i joined the club of humans who can swim one mile.

transcript of a fictitious interview of myself by myself in the head of myself as i pulled myself out of the pool just after.

for those not familiar, how many laps do you have to swim to swim a mile?
well, there are two schools of thought here. some people quibble over the exact distance and claim anywhere from 33 to 36 laps is the number, but non-tourist divined something called the pool-mile which is simply 2,000 meters and in a 25-meter pool is an even 40 laps, or 80 lengths. this is what i swam, a pool-mile.

and how long did it take?
the first time i swam it, it took me 54 minutes.

how did you feel when you were done?
giddy, great and grand.

how long did it take you to be able to swim the mile?
technically, three years, but i started not knowing how to swim. the first year was learning the stroke, the freestyle, which some folks call the crawl. the second year was spent learning how to breathe, while swimming the crawl of course. and the third year was mostly about conditioning and bringing it all together.

now that you've achieved this goal, what will you do next?
well, regarding swimming, i plan on swimming one mile, once a week for the rest of my life with the hope of getting my time to under 30 minutes. regarding the next thing i'm going to learn to do, i've named knitting as the thing i will focus on in 2011.

well, it was going to be drawing, but i was convinced (or rather cajoled and coerced) by a new friend to switch to knitting. actually she won me over with a cogent and spirited argument which i'm now glad and excited about.

and is there a knitting goal akin to the mile?
yes. to knit a sweater like the two jCrew ones i've been wearing for the last fourteen years.

and do you think a year is enough time to learn how to do this?
i'm told it is.

and if it isn't?
i guess i'll just have to then knit me a thong to wear while swimming my laps. this should properly incentivize my teacher to see that i make my sweater goal.

KIDS (permalink) 01.03.2011
the obvious
the first question i was to field in the year two thousand and eleven came from anthony. after waking in the morning, he came from his sleeping spot to snuggle between a still sleeping marty and i. after cuddling into marty for a bit, he rolled over, turning his open eyes to me. he brought his hand up and gently rubbed the stubble on my cheek, chin and upper lip. after several wordless moments of he and i looking at one another he broke the silence by quietly asking, "why is mom is getting older?"

grinning and unsure if marty was awake to hear him, i asked what made him think mom was getting older. he explained it was because she had a bump on her face. i asked about this bump. his clarification, while equally unclear, implied it was over her eyes which i took to mean a furrow or knit in her brow.

i took the time to explain that he was also getting older and that every moment of every day all living things are aging. he chuckled at this as if i were silly and explained to me that he wasn't getting older, he was just getting bigger.

after a few more moments of silence i asked him if i was getting older. without hesitation he told me i was not, i was already old.

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