Greetings from Florida

The abnormally long blog absence is due (at least recently) to me being in Florida, visiting my parents’ new-ish home for the first time. A brief recap:

The flights were uneventful, I slept through everything and got in on Saturday morning. We went to an amazing brunch on Sunday, then to the Miami Seaquarium and South Beach yesterday. The seaquarium was fun, though the tropical fish tank was closed and more information would have been nice about the animals they did have. I did get to see my first manatee! And baby (they have a release program there)!

And we went to a fun little restaurant for a late lunch that offered boat drinks in a coconut carved as a monkey head (also a coin bank!!) that we could take home. We opted for the more sedate fluorescent orange plasticware.

In between the big events were some deck time (I’ve semi-lost that Seattle pallor), pool time, beach time, and serious wildlife viewing. My parents now live on a canal off of the intercoastal, and (possibly due to the full moon?) we’ve had major fish action. There are massive schools of bait fish that have been circling about, and then larger fish trying to eat them. Every so often you can hear either a cascade of little splashes due to the smaller fish jumping to flee (think the krill in Finding Nemo: “Run away!!”) or else one huge one that must be the jacks jumping. It’s quite cool. And then, to cap it all, they had an iguana (about 3.5 feet?) at the end of the dock:

Kevin gets in tomorrow, at which point we can start focusing all of our energy on wishing that Wilma would glide away from southern Florida without causing any hoopla. :-)

The pretty trees

The leaves have become spectacular in the last week or so. For my mom, who doesn’t get to see the color turn this year, and for anyone who thinks (as I used to) that New England has a claim on brilliant colors, some pictures:

Bright leaves on the UW campus, on the way to my morning class:

And, on the microsoft campus in the evening:

This picture was taken on the walk to the bus. You can see the major line of traffic at the light — the first of many on the ride home. I’m always happy to get to knit instead of fuming at the idiots in front of me. :-)

Microsoft’s trees were the first to turn, and have been holding their leaves well. They’ve just started to drop this week, but much to my chagrin, the campus is kept immaculate and so there’s been no chance to go stomping through the color. Getting off the bus has been incredibly disappointing, since I keep hoping that somewhere in the fifteen minutes walk from the stop to my building, there will be some chance to tromp through the leaves. Instead, I’m usually waved at by the cheerful, but excessively efficient, leaf blower people.

However, this morning, I was delighted to come across an as-yet-untouched 20 yards of sidewalk.

You can see the strict line that they’d blown up to, but for some reason, they’d left a lovely patch. :-) Yay, fall.

Tang Update

The tang seems to be adjusting. He’s still not entirely comfortable around people, but he’s frequently coming up to the glass when we’re nearby instead of darting away and hyperventilating. He’s been eating everything in sight, and you can see a green belly full of Nori at the end of the day. He also eats the formula one (frozen meaty food) and the cyclop-eeze (wee red creatures, also technically meat) with gusto, so clearly he doesn’t realize that he’s supposed to be a strict herbivore. We’ve had to be careful when we feed the yellow polyp to keep our hand in for an extra moment until the polyp has a good grip on it, because the tang keeps snatching his food away. I’m a bit worried about overfeeding, but he seems so desperate to eat that it seems like it would be cruel to deprive him. I’ve also read that tangs are constant grazers, so not having food available could do more harm than good.

He still has a few weeks to go in the quarantine tank, since he got black spot after about a week and that reset the clock. We had to do two freshwater dips (temp and pH adjusted) about three days apart, but he seems to have beaten it.

For the computer-happy wunder-geeks

Kevin just ordered a new computer, and the excitement at our apartment is palpable. :-P

Rather than order something prefabricated, he just bought a zillion little pieces off of newegg.com. He’s delighted because of the advancements in how cleverly they fit together and how well-made his case was. We spent the evening upstairs — he unpacked all of the components, and I knit and oohed.

For those who want documentation (and agree with my view that it’s fascinating to see all the innards, even if you like ordering your computers whole), here goes:

Case: CoolerMaster WaveMaster TAC-T01-EB Blue Aluminum
Power Supply: Antec NeoPower 480
Motherboard: Abit AN8-Ultra
CPU: AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+
RAM: 2GB OCZ Titanium PC3200 (2-3-2-5 timing)
Hard Drives: 2 x 250 GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 SATA (in a RAID-0 array)
Video: ATI All-In-Wonder X800XL 256MB
Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic
Speakers: Logitech THX Z-5300E
DVD Burner: Lite-On
Floppy Drive: NEC
Monitor: Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW
Tablet: Wacom Graphire4 4″x5″
Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Intellimouse Explorer
Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

(Plus, it’s worth noting that many of these didn’t come with the requisite cables. Kevin’s been collecting such occasionally-useful things since the early-nineties, and thus was able to fill in the gaps without a trip to the store or a wait for shipping, but those who find they have better things to do with their closets ought to order the cables at the same time as the pieces.)

And a play-by-play with pictures:

The motherboard is pretty. I would feel excessively girly for saying that, except that the colors were clearly designed to go in a case with clear sides. So, pretty it is:

Here’s a close-up of the cpu.

The gold fuzz is actually my camera’s rendition of the zillion little pins sticking out of it which plug into the motherboard. On the opposite side goes the special heat-conducting clay. It needs to be pressed on well — if there are any air bubbles between the clay and the CPU, it can create dangerously hot surfaces temperatures that then render that part of the CPU permanently unusable. After the clay is attached, the CPU goes on the motherboard and is covered by a huge fan, also for heat-reduction. Here’s Kevin pointing to the CPU (clay side up) on the motherboard before he attached the fan:

Next, a bright and shiny photo of the RAM:

Kevin actually has two of these, which attach onto the long, blue, horizontal parts of the motherboard.

The hard drive had some new slender wires instead of the massive flat ones — we were both impressed. The dvd drive came with interchangeable faceplates. (“ooh”) And here are the sound card and video card. Note the semi-nude woman on the video card — and we wonder who they are marketing to… :-P

While I still prefer (CS degree and relatively dorky work environment not withstanding), to buy a computer in one piece and selectively upgrade the hardware as needed, it’s fun to see someone who enjoys such things pull together all of the pieces into, as described by the boy in an email to a friend, an “AMD X2 4400+ (dual-core) with 2GB of wicked fast RAM, SATA RAID-0, and an ATI AiW X800 XL.” Ahh, dork-speak.

More fun with the Fishtank

Kevin went to the fishstore and came back not only with the desired lights and venturi adapter for the maxijet, but also with two little soft corals that we’ve been keeping an eye out for: green star polyp and a gorgeous loose green mushroom that cost $3. The green star polyp has a purple mantle with green star-like hands that emerge (unlike the xenia, no pulsing…). (See the first picture here for another view — they’re beastly hard to photograph.) They’re supposed to be very fast growers, which concerns me a bit. We have rather a bit of that already…

The mushroom is amazing. The green is a copper green color, in stripes radiating outward. In between the green is a mix of deep red and blue. I wish I had a better camera. (The picture on the left is under regular light, the one on the right is under just the actinics.)

I glued him to a rock, slightly under an overhang. Hopefully, he’ll do as well as the still-multiplying red ones.

Eagles and the White Sweater

During the Eagles game (why are they letting McNabb play? I would have packed him off to his operation so that he can be healed in time for the post-season… they might not make it there without him, but I certainly also don’t see them making it there with him, given recent results.), I finally managed to start seaming the white sweater. I finished the inseam of one arm during the four hour game. *So* impressive. Later in the afternoon, I seamed the tops of the shoulders. They are going to have to be redone (they look awful. fake grafting is really hard on stair-stepped-edged ribbing) but I was at least able to see that there is hope that the thing might fit. The sleeves are definitely long-ish, but I think will turn out to be just under the wire for acceptable lengths.

Then, I finally got the the edging done on the pockets. Third time was the charm. After blocking, it was easier to see that the pickup should be seven stitches for every ten, and on the second attempt for that ratio I managed a little spoken mantra that got me through all of them without too much pain (knit one, two, skip three, knit four, five, skip six, knit seven, eight, skip nine, knit ten, one, two, etc…).

If I was to knit the sweater again (not likely, but just in case), I would definitely cast on 9 more stitches at the edge of the front part of the pockets for the seed stitch panel rather than going through the hassle of picking up those stitches at the end. It’s a good thing to keep in mind for trim in the future. Seed stitch looks pretty much the same horizontally and vertically, and besides, the button band is knit horizontally with the rest of the sweater — there was no reason to make this a second step. I’m wishing that I felt a bit more confident about picking up the stitches around the collar. I wonder if I had used short row shaping instead for the shoulders if I could have left all of those stitches live instead of having to pick them up on a diagonal now…

New Sweater!

While I’m waiting for the white ribbed sweater to finish itself (particularly that seed-stitch collar!), I’ve been knitting away on the cabled cardigan from Vogue Knitting. I defied tradition and did the sleeves first, mostly because I plan to add the cabled panel on the sleeves to the bottom of the sweater (no cropped sweaters here!) and wanted to see how long it would be.

The reward of the efforts? Two lovely sleeves, blocking. Bulky yarn knits so fast, I love it. The yarn calls for #10.5 needles, and all I had were #10’s, so the fabric is a bit denser than intended. I think it will be lovely and warm, not suppressive, but it is still going through my yarn faster than I anticipated. The sleeves ate up three balls. I found an extra in my dye lot (#084), but that means that I still only have 4 balls to do the back and both fronts. This is going to either be a tight squeeze or a dismal failure — the jury’s still out.

Also, does anyone have recommendations on what to use to seam up the sides? It seems like the bulky yarn would make a terrible seam. I’ve heard of using dental floss, but that seems odd to me. Any advice??