by dichroic in knitting

Just a couple of photos of the knitting projects I’ve just finished:





nearly back to normal life

by dichroic in daily updates, photos, travel

We got back from the Galapagos just a week ago and I’m at the tail end of catching up: I’ve unpacked and done all my laundry; restocked the fridge and cupboards; caught up on email and news: set up a Google Drive and given access to all the other people on our trip so we can share photos; uploaded some of our own photos for them (everyone was eager to see Ted’s photos, because he brought a long telephoto lens).

I’ve also just about caught up on sleep; I never did get to sleep a night through during the trip. We were on the lower deck, toward the bow of a 12-passenger ship with no high-tech stabilizers. I can sleep through a ship’s rocking, but not through the bow whapping down after each wave, or through the anchor chain being lowered from right overhead. Then in Quito, our hotel room was noisy, then we had a red-eye flight that was a couple hours late so we left at 1:40 AM, one day off, and then back to work.

This weekend, I finished both the shawl I was knitting during the trip and the socks I’d left at home (after I frogged and reknitted the leg of the first sock four times before we left).

So now I just need to blog the trip – having selected our best photos already, for sharing, should help with that.

And then it’s time to be thinking about where we’d want to go for our next big trip.

Here, have a couple photos.





Turning protest to pablum: when will they ever learn?

by dichroic in musing

To the people who want to take “This land is your land, this land is my land” out of copyright: there’s really no need. I bet Woody’s heirs would be glad to let you use it if you just use ALL the verses he wrote:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

who will be left to speak for you?

by dichroic in politics

First, because I want to say a thing I think is important and I don’t want to be misunderstood: Black lives matter.

Of course all lives matter, but Black lives are at an unfair and unwarranted level of risk today in the US (and some other countries); that’s why we need the #Blacklivesmatter movement and slogan.

So I am trying to strengthen, not weaken, that movement’s ability to argue when I point out that some of its activists seem to have a far rosier picture of where society is right now on other issues than reality justifies.

In recent days I’ve seen people trying to explain why Black lives matter with claims like “You wouldn’t have walked into Orlando right after the shooting saying Straight lives matter!’ ” or “You don’t go to a breast cancer fundraiser and shout ‘What about other cancers?’ or ‘Heart attack victims matter too!’ ”

Sorry to say it, but yes. Yes, some people would say those things, because I’ve heard and seen them.

I’m not saying in any way that anyone should relax the fight to value black lives. I am REALLY not saying “You don’t have it so bad, other people have problems too.” Racism in the US is a real and desperate problem – I do believe we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got miles to go. (And backlash is a problem too, in any advancement in social justice.) What I’m saying is, bigotry is out there and it’s widespread – don’t underestimate how many facets it has. Prejudices are intertwined. That’s why the fight for justice is personal for all of us – because if you let hatred go unchallenged today, it’s coming for you tomorrow.

ETA: Thinking about this a little more, now I’m in a logical bind – because I don’t believe everybody has to fight every issue, every time. None of us have infinite energy, and we’re each liable to be most effective fighting for the cause that speaks to us. So I’m not trying to imply that every #BlackLivesMatter activist needs to put in equal time on queer rights or vice versa, just trying to say that none of us can get away with saying “that cause doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me”. I think it has to be more like “I choose to put my energy here where I think my efforts matter most – but I respect the people fighting this other battle; they are my comrades in arms and I will support them and speak up for them.”

a short sermon I need to get off my chest

by dichroic in politics

Black people.
BLACK people.

Usually when we(1) say that phrase we’re stressing the first word – the thing that the people it describes have in common, that brings them together. And they did come together last night, along with allies of other ethnicities, in cities across the US to march for peace and for an end to unjust shootings: in New York, in Minnesota, in DC, in Portland, in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia and other states … and in Texas, where 12 police officers were shot.

And that’s where that second word comes in: because black people are PEOPLE. And like any other group of humans, the vast majority of them are good and decent people who want nothing more than to be left alone, to live their lives in peace, safety and as much lovingkindness as they can muster around them. As much lovingkindness as we can muster around us … because I stubbornly believe that most people, most of us of any shade of skin, are good and decent people. But like any other large group of people, among black people there are a few that are just bad, that have chosen to do evil.

What it means to have equality – equality under the law as well as in our hearts and minds – is to just those people, not by the color of their skins but by the content of their characters, as shown in their actions. Go ahead and judge the sniper in Dallas who shot those police officers. Judge and mete out punishment to anyone who may have acted to support him and who survived last night. Judge them, because their own actions have rendered them liable to that judgement. But don’t judge the peaceful marchers they used as cover; don’t assume that people who just want to be sure their sons will survive random traffic stops will support the killings of other mothers’ sons just because they happen to have similar pigmentation to the perpetrators of evil. The shootings in Dallas were an evil done by one or more individuals who should not be judged as a representative of their race.

Also, until they release names and photos, don’t assume the sniper’s victims were white. Nearly half of Dallas police officers are minority (as of 2011, the latest numbers I could find that showed members of the force and not just applicants – their applicant pool is even more diverse. Sure, he said he “wanted to kill white people” – but just as his general actions will probably turn out to hurt other people of color most in the long run, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t so fussy about his actual immediate victims.

(1) Note: When I say “we” here I mean all Americans of any shade of skin. And I am not predominantly addressing this screed to Black Americans, because most of them already know this shit, viscerally and through experience.

(2) Some days I really do wish I had a pulpit. Stepping down now.

pray and hope for the peaceful, everywhere

by dichroic in daily updates

If you’ve had a sprained ankle, you might have gained some knowledge of what it would be like if you couldn’t walk. If you’ve been broke during college and didn’t have parents who could just send you money, you might have some idea of how it feels to be actually poor. If you’ve had a pet die, it might give you just a tiny bit of insight into the grief of someone who’s lost a child. In all of these cases, the situations are not the same – nowhere near the same – and sometimes the difference in scale is so great as to be a different thing entirely. Nonetheless, the more minor mishaps might just spur your empathy a bit, making it a little easier to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone with a bigger problem. Maybe you can’t really ever know what it’s like (and wouldn’t want to) but you are that nanometer closer.

That’s about how I feel about the bombing attacks in Medina yesterday.

Jewish women – women like me – have been physically attacked by Orthodox men for the crime of daring to be themselves and pray at the Western wall, in the “wrong” spot or while wearing the “wrong clothing”; as far as I know, none have been seriously hurt, but there’s that roiling mix of hurt and shame, to be attacked by those who are supposed to be our people, who claim to be upholding our holiest site. And obviously this can’t come anywhere near to the grief and shock of four deaths in Medina on top of a wave of killings in Istanbul, Bangladesh and Baghdad; I’m not making a comparison. All I’m saying is that I got burnt by a candle and it taught me just an infinitesimal bit about the heat of the sun.

My heart goes out to those who have lost someone they loved and also to those who are still in shock that groups who claim to be defending their faith could so defile it. I hope the killers and those who funded, trained and supported them will be brought to justice.

the young Darwin

by dichroic in daily updates

Reading Voyage of the Beagle in preparation for our Galápagos trip, I am finding the young Charles Darwin unexpectedly charming, in a sweet and very geeky wayk.

The man is (was, but as long as I’m reading the book he’s still alive and speaking) an absolute monster for detail; he can go on for pages being excited about the the structure of bits of plant floating on the ocean. Also, he is a ridiculous polymath; he appears to be familiar with every published book or paper of note dealing with any aspect of zoology or geology up to that time, and a lot of the ones about plants, though he claims not to be a botanist. (Part of this is cheating; after all, he spent a lot of time revising his diaries for publication after he got back to England, working with a bunch of emininent scientists – he might not have known all those publications while he was still out in the field).

But part of what makes him so endearing is, unless he’s got good grounds for a theory, he’s got absolutely no compunction against writing “I observed (this critter) do (this-and-such a thing), but why it does that I am completely ignorant.” And when he does have a theory he supports it with data. Sometimes he’s wrong (as with the idea that earthquake-prone regions have lakes of lava underneath a skin of rock, whereas more stable zones are on hard rock all the way down) but when he is, his hypotheses are reasonable or partially correct – not his fault if plate tectonics wasn’t figured out for another hundred-plus years).

He’s got the paternal colonialist attitudes you’d expect of an 1830s Englishman, but he never misses the chance to get in a dig at slavery and he’s absolutely gutted when, while he’s making wild gestures to get a local man to understand something, the man thinks Darwin is about to hit him and just braces himself to get hit without making any protest. (At one point he uses the phrase “people of colour” – I don’t know if that was a particularly respectful term at the time as it is now, but there were certainly a lot more pejorative ones he could have used.)

And also, without Darwin, I’d never have known that according to Dampier (who visited the Galápagos Islands in 1684), cactus used to be called dildoe-trees.

assorted comments while watching the House sit-in

by dichroic in daily updates, politics

  • Holy fucking shit. The US House Minority Leader James Clyburn has just said that he’s divided Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” into 46 parts, and they’re going to read it out loud in the course of the sit-in tonight.

    These are people intensely aware of their history and of the history they’re making. Just wow.

  • Twitter must be a very happy company right now (apparently they bought Periscope last year). You can’t buy publicity like having Congress members publicly praising you on live video feed!
  • OK, I’ve figured out how to get my Mac to sync to my Bluetooth headphones (I usually just use them with my phone or iPad). Because I need to erg, and it wasn’t going to happen while I was glued to the C-Span feed.
  • Granted I’m always open to excuses to procrastinate on erging, but “glued to the C-Span feed” is definitely a phrase I’ve never typed before!!!
  • Before I got home and could watch this, I was proud to find this photo of my Rep (Suzanne Bonamici) at the sit-in and to hear that both my Senators were there.
  • How cool is it that Senators are sending snacks??
  • OK, off to go erg – with headphones on and this screen sitting on the floor by my flywheel. I may add more comments to this post later.
  • Looks like this might just be a way for Ryan to get back control 🙁 I suspect the show’s over – but wow, while it lasted it was something
  • No, wait, they’re back! I have no idea what’s going on. OK, now the pirate feed is down, C-Span is back up, half the Congress is trying to conduct business as usual while the rest chant NO BILL, NO BREAK!

  • WIP and FOs, because why not

    by dichroic in daily updates, knitting

    I think it’s been a really long time, since I posted any knitting photos here. This weekend will be our third Black Sheep Squared knitters’ retreat – the ‘retreat’ is basically just me inviting people to stay at our lake house in order to attend the Black Sheep Gathering in nearby Eugene. I am hoping it will be as fun as the first one – last year got a little weird, as we had as many non-knitters (someone’s family) as knitters there.) So in honor of that, time to post some current and recent projects.

    This one is still on the needles, but has only a couple inches to go – it’s done when I run out of yarn. I’ll love wearing it, but am a little tired of knitting it – one thing about scarves, especially when knitted in fingering weight, is that they go on for a really long time. I’ve started another shawl (Antarktis, a simple pattern to show off the Abstract Fibers Alex yarn), and will reward myself with casting on a sock once I’ve finally gotten this scarf done and out of the way.
    image image

    The next is one of two squares I did for a group blanket project – the other was just a mitered square in blue and this same orange.

    Then there are the most recent socks – I loved this colorway in the skein, but I like it less knitted up. Oh, well.

    And two sweaters. The orange one (Wisteria, from Twist Collective), was a joy to knit all the way through. The blue is Cechetti, also from Twist Collective, and I got bogged down in the middle – somehow the body went fast and the second sleeve wasn’t bad but but the first sleeve took for-freaking-ever – and then I didn’t like the way it looked and decided somewhere during the second sleeve to frog the first one back and make them 3/4 sleeves. That’s better for a summer sweater anyhow. This sweater was the only Wollemeise I’ve knitted, and I think it’s a bit overrated – beautiful colors but it feels like string. I need a better picture of it. Ignore how the bottom arcs up – that was pre-blocking.
    wisteria2 wisteria

    cechetti2 cechetti1


    by dichroic in books

    Good heavens. I’ve just gotten a credit on Amazon from the Apple price-fixing settlement … for a hair under $250. The time span the settlement covers falls within my expat years; I bought a *lot* of books in those years. What I’d liek to do with it is to keep it until September in hopes that a new Apple Watch will be released then – I’ve wanted one since they came out, but have been holding off in hopes of getting one with better battery life.

    In some ways I’d rather be spending my money on paper books instead; I don’t really have any level of confidence that my e-books will still be with me and readable in 20 years. I have to admit, though, that I find reading on the Kindle a lot more comfortable than printed books, especially if I’m doing something else at the same time. (I usually am – knitting, eating, brushing my teeth.) Until someone invents a drone that will follow me around (that is, follow me one step ahead, like a cat) holding my book open and turning pages when I gesture, the Kindle seems like the way to go. Yes, I am in bondage to the Evil Empire of Amazon.