Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mending in Action

I was prepared this particular trip to New York: I packed five pair of shoes. That this meant that I came home with somewhere around 8 blisters per foot should mean nothing. Really, someday my feet will re-adapt to hiking around a concrete jungle.

Three weekends ago I had company, AudioGirl came up to spend a weekend, and then I dashed off for the Brunette's 30th birthday. In between I hustled myself in to work, whisking through piles of paperwork as quickly as possible so I wouldn't be behind at the end of May and my frolicking about elsewhere. My desk doesn't look too bad.

My knee, on the other hand, has started turning shades of cranberry. We're none of us really sure how I acquired this spectacular beauty, though popular theory is that I slammed into one of the tables at Kush.

Day After


Having AudioGirl here was delightful. We explored little restaurants, found a breakfast place no one had ever mentioned (a good one!!), and shopped. Somehow, between Sunday and Monday, it was decided I was buying a table we'd come across in the Antique Center downtown. I'd never considered "real" furniture an impulse buy, but when one finds such a fabulous wood table at half the cost of a similar laminate table at the nearby furniture store well..... The added bonus of someone to carry it up the stairs and wiggle it in and out of the car with me was there too.

And then a trip home. I spent a night out with the Blonde and ended up having a mini-college reunion while doing Karaoke. I blame my song choice of the evening on the pollen in the air, I didn't have anything like my usual voice and talked my way through a piece by one of the current pop princesses.

We went out for the Brunette's birthday and I spent the Memorial Day with Dee, reliving the last three years at high speed in front of a very confused and somewhat intrigued waiter. I don't think he had previously fathomed that we could maintain the rapidity of speech we held up for the entire meal. Why yes, everything's lovely and we'd adore another cup of tea.....

The only delay was coming home, Chicago was under heavy downpour, and I spent that portion of trip fully immersed in the only knitting project I'd taken with me.

In the course of the weekend I went through
2 mp3 players (forgot the battery charger, glad I took both!)
5 books (which meant I ran out of reading material on Monday)
1 journal (had to wait til I got home and dug out a new blank book)
2 editing projects (helps when you're out of reading material)
Many bandaids

As I kept muttering to myself while sitting on the plane from CHI to LSE--had I run out of yarn, someone would have been in trouble.

Can you believe tomorrow is June?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Customer Service IS Your Fault

I have an appointment with a Community Bank Manager at my current bank next Friday. Considering the email I sent her last night, I don't really anticipate it to be the best of meetings.

To say I've been disappointed with their customer service practices would be putting it mildly. Following a data breach in March, the bank shut down everyone's debit cards and issued new ones. Okay fine. Not telling anyone about it for 18 hours because the call had come mid-afternoon and they didn't want to work late? Not fine. I was seriously less than impressed when their website was never updated with the information of the breach.

Yesterday, armed with new card, I went in to change the random pin they had assigned. No one had ever told me that this wasn't an option and since WaMu was doing it 6 years ago, I figured it would be a two minute process. Not so much. No, I'd have to get another new debit card if I wanted to pick my own pin.

I pause now for you to say "Huh?" and reread that last sentence to make sure you read it correctly. You did.

It further troubles me that I was told that I couldn't even GET my pin number for 7-10 days (it was random and not something I'd remembered in the period since March, as I planned to change it. Tells you how often I go to the ATM doesn't it?). I was not pleased to find out this morning that, oh, well yes they could get it for me before I leave for NY tomorrow. It shouldn't take this kind of frustration on my part to get results.

And through it all I've been faced with a solid line of bank workers using the phrase "it's not our fault." I will be very interested to see if we can get through next week's meeting without using it.

I work in a public service position. We're working very hard to find new and improved ways to reach our patrons/customers/etc and make sure we're removing barriers to the access of information and dinosaur books. We're continually looking for ways that we can take "no" out of our every day.

I don't feel like my bank has the same policy. Which is why I'm looking for a new one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last Kids Knitting for Spring

Tuesday will be the last Kids Knitting Day for Spring 2009 and it's been a successful third round for me. I'm finishing with about 20 kids who have attended more than once or twice, with an average weekly attendance of 14.

Achievements for this spring:

We had crocheting lessons, and at least one girl took to it like a duck to water.
My lone boy learned how to do stranded colorwork.
We had a really successful competition.
The local newspaper featured the group in the paper.
I was interviewed for a local women's magazine in reference to the kids knitting group as well as the Knitting in Public Day.
I've taught several kids how to knit and myriad other tricks of the trade.
I now have a library of circular and double pointed needles I can use for teaching/loan as needed.
I've managed to acquire a swift (winder will be coming), so they'll be able to use the library one rather than mine.
I've book-talked huge piles of books, encouraging them to try new series, new titles, and to trust me to introduce them to new books. A number of them now seek me out regularly in search of something new to read, or willingly accept when I shove a book at them and say "this one made me think of you."

It's not a particularly aggressive program, which is one of the things that works nicely about it. I'm ready for a brief break after five months but am looking forward to a break as a chance to plan new and exciting things for them. This fall I'm scheduling two sessions of an advanced techniques course.

In the interim, I promised snacks next week. I have to figure out what we're having.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Taking Over Milwaukee

The Tech Sergeant (who is about to get a promotion and will have to be renamed) and I met in Milwaukee for a weekend of relaxation and exploration.

We both ducked out of our respective homes late Thursday, I driving east and he west. I had to beat him there as I was the one with the hotel reservation. I'd used Hotwire and we were staying at the Hilton City Center. We both chose to park at the hotel, coworkers had shared a couple of "scary parking stories" and we knew we'd have to pull the cars at least twice.

In true "watch us wilt at the same time," despite plans of immediately launching ourselves on the town, we both opted for beverages and catching up and a midnight bedtime. Painting Milwaukee red would have to wait.

Friday was absolutely perfect from a weather perspective, clear sunny and just warm enough. Armed with a map, we set off. We stopped at George Webbs for breakfast, good basic breakfast food and decent coffee. From breakfast it was off to the art museum. If you've never approached it, as you're walking east on Wisconsin Ave you wonder "Is that a boat? Oh it must be some kind of crazy yacht. No wait, that's a building, oh that's the art museum." Apparently Santiago Calatravas was to attempting to capture bird wings in flight--in steel. It's unusual. I wondered about trying to heat it (we were in Wisconsin), trying to clean the windows (no thanks) and what the acoustics were (it was too loud inside for me to get a clear sense of how higher pitched sounds would reverberate. TS thought my muted squeaking attempts amusing.)

We enjoyed the art museum and in grabbing beverages after TS discovered a lemonade that he would continue to drink all weekend, apparently it's locally made and tart enough to make his eyes water. I forwent the joy of my eyes watering too. We ventured to the war memorial, which was a little underwhelming, though we did like all of the historical war ads (Men! Join the clean plate club with your wives!).

From the museums we walked to the Historical Third Ward and did some shopping. He found an artist whose things he might purchase in the future and we "designed" two bathrooms and three kitchens. I like stainless steel accents, he prefers a warmer cozier look. Both of us like the idea of hidden fridges/dishwashers.

Then it was back to the hotel for a hat (coworker loaned me a Cubs cap for the trip) and to the shuttle. Out to the field and, loaded with beverages and hot dogs (later nachos) we took in the Cubs/Brewers game. Lots of fun with enthusiastic but not aggressive fans. A number of college student celebrating the end of finals. I did briefly wish I had some knitting with me but survived not having it. Despite the Cubbie loss we were able to go out and enjoy a couple of area bars.

Apparently neither of us were going to be able to sleep late on this mini-vacation, we were up and out early every day. First we took my car and headed north. I made him navigate to two yarn stores. He patiently accompanied me and we discussed the use of mohair as a fly-fishing tool, found some corn yarn that was pretty awesome, and debated different types of tools that I use for my craft. We also found a good bagel shop and I broke the "braces no bagels" rule. I've been good about following that directive but fresh bagels were not to be missed.

Then we got sort of turned around but managed to find our way to the Miller Brewing Company. We toured the factory, seeing just how many cases of beer they ship out each day. It was daunting to think of how much was shipped and consumed regularly from just that one location. Even more surprising: 40% of the products created there go directly and only to Chicago. I liked whatever they served us that had orange and coriander. Yes, I drink girly drinks.

We finished the day with dinner at Cafe La Scala. The food was excellent. And....we both overate on appetizers and salad and couldn't make it through our meals.

Back to the hotel and the TS asked me to show him how to knit. We had a couple of hours lag time so I walked him through the basics. Unfortunately I only had one set of needles with me, so we had to go back and forth but he picked up on it pretty fast. I agreed to learn fly-tying next time.

And then we took his car out late to see the new Star Trek movie. Being as I was without computer, I'd called the Milwaukee Public Library for help on who was showing it where. We ended up at the Oriental Theater. Wow--what a theater!! (sorry the pics are blurry, they said pictures were okay if I didn't use the flash) Huge, "theater" style rather than what I would think of movie style seating, red velvet curtain, 7' Buddhas, elephants....

Oh, and the movie was pretty awesome too! If you like Star Trek at all, I'd recommend that you go see it. It pays tribute without being super cheesy or trying to be too much it's own thing. And the cameo appearance elicited a couple of cheers.

Coming out of the theater we ran into people coming in for Rocky Horror, which was apparently being shown around 12 a.m. I could not convince the TS that we needed to stay for a late night double feature picture show, to have a toast, or do the time warp.

Sunday was breakfast and back to the Third Ward to hit the Public Market. I'd already loaded up on goodies from a local chocolatier but cheese and curds going home with the TS had to wait until we were ready to go. (No fridge in the hotel room). After Starbucks and watching many little ducklings swim around the river, we got on the road.

I made it home and promptly took a nap. Apparently he went by a Bass Pro shop on the way home.

We're already making plans for next year.

Monday, May 04, 2009

One Eye Open...

The Tech Sergeant rang early enough this morning that I was not yet out of bed. As many of you know, this is not a disturbance I take lightly, particularly when I wake up sounding like a frog courtesy of spring allergies.

Fortunately, as I later noted, he's on the short list of people who do not face full hedgehog wrath when I'm awoken in such a state. And if you have to ask, you're not on the list. But in case you wondered what hedgehog wrath looks like, I share with you my bad drawing skills.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

TechNO Changes?

While perusing a vanity search, I found Walt's post about TechNos and revisited my own list of things I don't do in this ever changing technological world. I thought it'd be interesting to do a comparison.

Last Year:
  • DTV: Wasn't worried about the transition
  • SQL: On the To Learn Better List
  • No Digital Camera
  • A little concerned about Blu-Ray
This Year
  • DTV, the transition came and went and many people still need boxes. Haven't heard any great fussing about it though. **ETA: Walt reminds me that we've not gone through DTV yet, though a couple of our local stations have. Still, it has dropped off the radar of late. Thanks Walt!
  • SQL: Still on the to-learn list, though my database work is thumping various aspects into my brain
  • I now have a small digital camera that lives in my purse. It's pretty awesome and I'm enjoying it. Still miss some of the film camera aspects, but being able to inflict all of my Ravelry and Friendfeed friends with pictures of my yarn and knitting projects.
  • Have yet to buy a Blu-Ray player.
New Things for This Year?
  • I'm still not an active gamer outside of the occasional round of Scramble or Word Twist on Facebook
  • I've not gotten into ebooks. With piles in my library basket, on my bookshelves, and on my waiting lists, it could yet be a while before I get to those.
  • My high speed internet doesn't play nice with my wireless, so I've never used Hulu
What things have changed for you over the last year? What things have you become aware of that you are choosing to not embrace or might embrace in the future?