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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sarah Ovenall's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, April 15th, 2012
12:23 am
anti-Amendment One
This afternoon two friends and I went out canvassing against Amendment One. This is the amendment to the NC state constitution which says: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

They sent us to knock doors of Democratic voters, to inform undecided voters about the consequences of the amendment and encourage supporters to turn out. We also had to warn people to turn over the ballot: all the candidates are on page 1, and the amendment is the only thing on page 2. It could be really easy to miss the amendment.

They told us not to focus on gay marriage as a civil rights issue, instead to stress the unintended consequences: the loss of domestic partner benefits for straight couples, the risk to children whose parents aren't married, the damage that could be done to domestic violence laws. I wish that we could have talked more about gay rights -- I wish I lived in a town where I could be confident people would be receptive. But I think they made the right call.

My approach was to start out by saying the amendment is "too broad" and talking about children. If they sounded receptive I would say "I don't think our constitution should be changed to take rights away from people." I talked to several undecided voters, one I think I persuaded for sure. She said she hadn't known what the amendment was about and thanked me for "opening the issue up for [her]." That felt great! A couple of others didn't commit, but said they were going to think it over and sounded like they meant it. We had a flyer to give out (which focused on the harm to children) and they seemed like they really wanted the flyer.

We also talked to a few people who were strongly against the amendment. One has a gay daughter and asked if we could get him a yard sign. One was cagey -- he wouldn't say his position until I told him mine first -- then he talked about discrimination and thanked me for volunteering. One self-identified as a Christian, and sounded like she might be personally against gay marriage, but said she didn't believe it should be in the constitution. She kept saying she didn't think faith should be legislated. She was such a powerful advocate that I encouraged her to talk to her friends, and I hope she talks to everyone in her church!

Of course it wasn't all sunshine. I talked to a couple of people who said they were voting against, but clearly meant "What can I say that will get you off my porch faster." And the other people in our canvas group talked to someone who was strongly for. They said the person talked about the Bible being against homosexuality, and when they brought up the harm to unmarried couples said "You mean people who are shacked up?" Thank you for your time, goodbye!

On the way home my friend S. talked about how much easier the canvas must have been for us than for the volunteers who are gay. How painful must it be to, first of all, face the prospect of the entire state voting on whether you should have rights? And then when you volunteer, you're told to downplay your personal story and how it will affect you, because that might put voters off? I didn't like avoiding gay rights and talking mainly about the impact on unmarried straight people, but at least I wasn't having to pretend like I don't exist. There was a gay couple canvassing in the same neighborhood as us. I hope they didn't run into any Bible thumpers.

The canvas was organized by Protect NC Families. If you're reading this and you live in NC, why not contact them? Their Durham office has volunteer events every day from now until May 8. I think it's mainly phone banking, but I like canvassing better so that's what I'm focusing on.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
8:29 pm
Oath of Office
I, Sarah Ovenall, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States; that I will administer the duties of my office as Assistant of the 37th precinct, Durham County, without fear or favor, that I will not in any manner request or seek to persuade or induce any voter to vote for or against any particular candidate or proposition; and that I will not keep or make any memorandum of anything occurring within a voting booth, unless I am called upon to testify in a judicial proceeding for a violation of the election laws of this State.

[this isn't nearly as exciting as it looks; it just means I did poll worker training today. We get sworn in during training, I guess so they can get it out of the way rather than expecting each chief judge to administer the oath on election day.]
Sunday, July 24th, 2011
6:51 pm
i am a dj, i am what i play
So, I got hired to DJ a wedding this fall. !!!

It sounds like a great gig. The client is a listener of my show, who wants me to play Divaville Lounge music ("from Tin Pan Alley to the swing era") at the event. The venue is a fun place, I got plenty of notice, and best of all I'll earn enough that I can afford all the equipment I'll need. Which is:

--a big hard drive so I can digitize all my music
--mixing software and a controller, which will let me cue up tracks and fade from one to the next on my computer
--a sound card with multiple outputs so I can play one track through the speakers, and preview another on headphones at the same time
--various cables

I already have good headphones and a laptop, and the venue will provide the amp and speakers. I bought the controller and sound card from a fellow WXDUer who also works as a club DJ. Here's a photo of him showing me how to use them:
Learning how to DJ!

It's a Numark Stealth Controller for those who are keeping track. I ordered the software (Traktor Duo) and while I wait for it to arrive I'm working on digitizing music. It's tedious, but fairly easy to move along while doing other things: just go over to the computer every few minutes and stick another CD in.

I also did some googling for tips on how to be a wedding DJ. I found much more on how to hire a wedding DJ, which is also useful just to see what clients typically expect of a DJ. But I did find one good page for DJs with a couple of invaluable tips:

1. A wedding is not your opportunity to show off your hip taste in music. Put away all your obscure cool tracks and get used to playing Top 40 for a few hours.

The part about Top 40 doesn't apply to me since I've been asked to play Divaville Lounge music, but otherwise I had pretty much guessed this. At a wedding people want to dance and be happy and hear songs they know and love. They don't want to be figuring out music they've never heard before. The night I was offered the job, I said to Georg "At WXDU our mission is to educate and entertain. At this event my mission will be to entertain."

2. Don't ever play a fast song and then a slightly less fast song. This will make people feel sluggish. Each song should be slightly faster than the one before, until you get to something really fast. Then switch to a slow song, and start gradually building up tempo again. That will make them feel energized.

I would never have thought of that on my own, but it makes perfect sense. By "stair-stepping" up the tempo you can build excitement, get people dancing faster with each song, then drop back to a slow song to give them a break. Then start all over again!

I had been thinking that the beat-matching functionality in Traktor would be wasted on me, since I obviously won't be syncing the tempo of jazz standards. But it will turn out to be useful since it shows the BPM of every track. I can use that to make sure the segues have good flow.
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
9:03 pm

I used to have this thing called The Movie List. In which I watched a lot of old movies, and kept a list of them, and wrote a little thumbnail review of each one. Then last year I got a "real job" and didn't have time to even watch movies, much less write them up.

But lately I've been watching some movies again, and sometimes I even have something to say about them! So maybe it's time to bring back the movie list. Starting with today's movie: Conspirator. A post-war thriller starring Robert Taylor as a British military officer/Communist spy, and Elizabeth Taylor as his wife.

This movie falls into a subcategory of thriller which I call "The Dumbest Woman In The World." Because the protagonist of the movie is in fact The Dumbest Woman In The World. There would be no movie if she had even the tiniest bit of sense. But she does not, and the entire movie hinges on her stupidity. When our heroine realizes that her husband is a Soviet spy selling state secrets, does she flee and go to the police? No, that would be way too sensible. Does she stay to gather evidence? That would be courageous and clever, so she clearly can't do that. What does she do? She tells him over and over what she knows, allows him to destroy the evidence, threatens him with exposure, and taunts him in front of people who could arrest him if they understood her. All the while telling no one else what she knows, and doing nothing to protect herself. Why? Because she is The Dumbest Woman In The World.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011
12:57 am
not quite psychic enough
I'm researching a Sarah Vaughan tribute show that's a couple of weeks away. Which means, yay! A reason to buy music! Actually I already have a lot of Sarah Vaughan so I won't need to buy much. Probably just a few songs. But I did treat myself to an album I've wanted for a long time: a live album called Perdido! 1953, radio broadcasts by Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie. We used to have it at the radio station and I loved it, played it all the time, and then it got stolen. Well, I don't know for a fact that it was stolen. It just went missing, years ago. (XDU folks: I'm talking about the album with a green cover and a sexy photo of young Sarah Vaughan in a strapless dress on the cover.)

I saw it used on Amazon marketplace for very low cost, so I bought it this evening. Just after I placed the order Georg came in and I told him that I had started buying music for the show, and showed him the order page. He said it was a good thing I told him -- because he had come into the room to get his wallet so he could order that very CD as a surprise for me!

It was incredibly thoughtful -- and weirdly psychic. I've mentioned how much I loved and missed that CD, but not recently I don't think. Tonight all I said was that I was getting to work on the Sarah Vaughan show, nothing about that particular CD. On the contrary, I said I was going to buy Live at Mr' Kelly's. (Which I may still do, depending on how flush I'm feeling.) Just not quite psychic enough! He knew that was the CD I wanted, but didn't know I had already bought it.
Sunday, March 6th, 2011
11:17 pm
Welcome to the 21st century
Divaville Lounge joined the 21st century today! For the first time I played music from my computer on the air. It turned out to be easy -- i just needed an $8 cable and a little help from the tech-savvy dj who's on before me.

This was a trial run so it was only a half hour of the show. Then I switched back to CDs like normal. I don't plan to do this every week, just when I have a pre-planned theme show. Up to now I've been burning the theme shows onto CD. Which is first of all, a hassle. And second, a waste of CDs. I'm really happy about being able to save the CDs and run the music right out of my computer.

A couple of technical issues: the levels are a bit low, and when the track was also low I had to push the sliders all the way up, which caused some distortion. Next time I'll check the levels and use Audacity to amplify anything that's too low. Audacity also causes some distortion if you amplify too much, but it doesnt seem as bad as doing it on the board.

The other technical concern was that every time the computer went to sleep, when I woke it up there was an audible pop. Next time I'll be sure to set the computer to never sleep. And remember to bring the power cable!

The next theme show will be March 27, a tribute to Sarah Vaughan on her birthday. Which reminds me, I need to search the library website and see if they have a biography of her.

The show was busy aside from the tech stuff: six requests, two from people I haven't heard from before! One was a guy who asked for Spike Jones and said it was for "the guys in the shed." I have no idea what that means. Maybe some older gentlemen who work in facilities? I thought it was cool regardless of what it means so I played two songs for them. The other new caller was someone who clearly hadn't heard the show before, really dug it, and wanted to talk a lot. How did I start doing the show, where do I get the music from, etc etc. I felt bad about cutting him off but there just wasn't time. I think people have no idea what community radio is like. There's no engineer pushing the buttons for me while I sit and wait for the next talk set. It's all me and it can get hectic!

Speaking of hectic, another dj rang the doorbell in the middle of a talk set, which is how i discovered that unlike the old doorbell, the new doorbell isn't wired to the board. Meaning, it just starts beeping really loud, even if your mic is on. And it's too far away from the mic to turn it off, so I just had to let it beep while I finished the talk set. I ran down, let the dj in, ran back upstairs and the ding-danged bell got stuck! It just kept beeping and beeping, and it was over 10 minutes before I had time to go back down and fix it. I'm trying to cue up music while that stupid bell goes BEEP BEEP BEEP. It was insane. I found out later that this happens a lot in wet weather. Speaking of community radio and the way things are.
Friday, February 25th, 2011
7:20 am
a month of saturdays
You'd think abortion providers in North Carolina would be targeted all the time. But we must be especially lucky in the Triangle because the apparently the antis only come out for 40 Days for Life. Which is starting up again in a couple of weeks. This time they're targeting the clinic in Chapel Hill. 

Last time I was surprised by how calm and non-crazy the protesters were. No yelling -- well, except for one guy we called "The Angry Man." He was much more aggressive than the others. He kind of shoved me, though in retrospect I think it was an accident. Because when it happened I turned around and glared at him with my hands on my hips (hard for someone my size to appear menacing but I did my best) and he backed off. I think he was just trying to intimidate me by looming over me, and didn't realize how close he was. Later on he started yelling at one of the other escorts. We aren't supposed to respond to them so she just stood there while he went on a tirade that went on and on. She's tough and she didn't look scared, more like pissed off that she couldn't respond. I pulled out my phone and took his picture, and to my surprise when he saw me he stopped yelling. I was worried it might make him angrier, but felt like I had to do it because if anyone was going to cause trouble it was going to be him. And I didn't want to wait until after it happened to get his photo.

Anyway except for the Angry Man the antis were surprisingly calm last time. They mostly just stood across the street and prayed at us. Of course they tried to talk to the clients but didn't say hurtful things to them, just tried to give them leaflets. One of them even pleasantly waved goodbye to me when I left! I'm hoping this time around will be equally low-stress. Though the recent targeting of Planned Parenthood might bring the crazies out this time. 

So I'm volunteering to escort every weekend during 40 Days for Life. Except for one weekend when I already have a commitment. I realized yesterday that in March/April my Saturdays are going to be: abortion clinic, abortion clinic, abortion clinic, baby shower, abortion clinic. I better not get confused about where I am! That could get awkward.
Monday, February 7th, 2011
10:34 pm
baby names, clothing, cute stories and celebrity gossip
So, I'm cohosting a baby shower in a couple of months. I've only ever been to a couple of baby showers so I've been googling "how to host baby shower" guides for ideas. 

Some of them have excellent ideas, things I would never have thought of (like, ask one of the guests to stay till the end and help load gifts into the mother-to-be's car). What they all have in common is cheery suggestions in appalling taste. Like:

"Have a Baby-Que: A fun idea is to have families come to the baby shower as well as couples and have a cookout or what we call Baby-Que." I'm rather proud that the father-to-be and I had exactly the same reaction: first, "will we be serving real baby?" Then to make a list of all the juvenile animals that could be eaten at a Baby-Que. I got veal, lamb, suckling pig, and of course baby vegetables for the vegetarians. We could also make sugar cookies shaped like babies and bite their heads off. Many years ago I had an All Saint's Day party and made "martyr cookies" -- an angel cookie cutter, and red icing to represent the wounds of their martyrdom.

"Guess Mom's Tummy Size: (Materials- String or yarn and scissors) Have each woman pull the yarn to the size they believe would fit perfectly around the Mother-To-Be's center of her pregnant tummy. After everyone cuts their string, compare the results to the Mommy-To-Be's actual tummy. Give a prize to the woman who is the most close!"
The guest of honor at this party would never speak to me again if we did that. Because she is sane.

By far the worst are the suggestions for co-ed showers. Like: 

It is natural for men to gravitate to their friends and split off from the females. This should be seen as an appropriate behavior and should cause no stress. Use some baby shower games to bring the couples and genders back together for at least a little bit.
There are so many assumptions in there, it's hard to know where to begin.
--Men are not friends with women
--Men thrown together because of their wives/girlfriends will make instant friends with other random men 
--It's okay to invite men to an event you don't expect them to enjoy
--Men can't be expected to make nice at a party for two hours, but their wives/girlfriends will fulfill social obligations for both of them
--The men who hate your party and hate being around the wimmins will be happy to play "Guess Mom's Tummy Size" and "Baby Bingo." 

There will be a different dynamic at the baby shower with a co-ed group. Accept that it will not only be talk about the baby but also may lead to more roastings, practical jokes, politics, and sports. The women will be more focused on baby names, clothing, cute stories and celebrity gossip (yes this is a generalization).

*head desk*
Saturday, February 5th, 2011
5:28 pm
hey baby, wanna kill all humans?
 So I've been working on a variety of knitting projects, most of which I can't write about yet because they're unfinished gifts. I have a hard time working on one project until it's done & then starting on another. It's easier for me to have several things going at once, and turn to whichever catches my fancy at the moment.

Here's a project I can write about because it was finished and gifted a while ago:
BenderA Bender toilet paper caddy! I'm really happy with how he turned out. Made with DK yarn from Knit Picks. Usually I make toys from worsted and use tiny needles. That makes a nice firm knit that holds the stuffing well. But since this pattern had to fit over the toilet paper roll, it seemed important to try and match the gauge.

The pattern was easy to follow, though they have you make all the pieces flat and sew them together. I understand why with the hands and feet -- they have a flat plastic piece inside, and it would be kind of tricky to fit that piece in and then knit up around it -- but the body and head? Makes no sense. If I make another one of these (and I hope I do!) I would knit as much as possible in the round. Less sewing and no seam up the back.
Sunday, December 12th, 2010
10:18 am
frank sinatra tribute today
frank-sinatra.jpgToday is Frank Sinatra's birthday, and to honor the occasion Georg and I are co-hosting a two hour tribute on today's Divaville Lounge, 2-4 pm est.

By any measure Sinatra was one of the most important singers of the 20th century. We'll play classics from every era of Sinatra's career, including his early years with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey big bands; the Concepts series at Capitol; the Rat Pack years; songs from his decades-long movie career; live performances; radio and television appearances; plus some rare finds like an unreleased theme song to "The Man with the Golden Arm," and a duet with Groucho Marx (really! and it's not horrible!).

The Voice, Ol' Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board -- whatever you call him, we'll be spinning two hours of Sinatra this afternoon. Hope you can check it out! 88.7 fm in Durham or webcast at http://wxdu.org
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
10:47 pm
sittin' on a backyard fence
Just saw a great Busby Berkeley number in the movie Footlight Parade. It doesn't approach the dizzying heights of lunacy that his best numbers reach. (like the waterfall number coming up in this very movie, I can't wait!) But it does have dozens of women dressed like alley cats, Ruby Keeler vomited out the mouth of a giant clown face (? not actually sure what was happening there), and Billy Barty as a mischievous rat.

The embed feature is turned off in the video for some reason, so here's a link to Sittin' on a Backyard Fence.
10:01 pm
timing is everything
Last week Georg and I went to A/V Geeks. We had to meet there because he was working late, so I went to the Q Shack for dinner. They were a little crowded and I asked a young woman if I could share her table. She was studying, and though I didn't pry, I could see enough of her book to see that she was studying Chinese.

I wanted to say something to her but after 20 years, I remember so little Chinese that I didn't know what I would say. I can barely say my own name at this point, much less have a conversation. Besides, she seemed pretty deeply involved in her studies and I didn't want to interrupt. So I ate my dinner and websurfed on my phone, and she studied, and it was a nice quiet sharing of space.

Well we were quiet, but the restaurant was noisy. So much so that I didn't notice at first when she started very softly talking to herself in Chinese. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but it has a distinctive sound (and I'm guessing an American just beginning their studies probably has a distinctive accent, which made her speech sound even more familiar to me). It looked like she was reading out loud from the book. Practicing her lessons at just above a whisper. Adorable. I didn't let on that I could hear her; just kept enjoying my dinner.

Finally it was time for me to leave. I cleared my table, stood up to go, leaned over and said "zai jian" (goodbye). She looked so surprised! She said "zai jian" back to me, and we both laughed, and then I just ... walked away. I felt like the encounter couldn't get any better than it was right then. I could have stayed and had a possibly awkward conversation, maybe interrupted study time she needed, maybe made myself late for A/V Geeks. Or I could leave it at that, preserve the moment, and give her a good story to tell when she got back to the dorm. About this crazy thing that happened and the mysterious person who sat next to her all through dinner and never let on that they spoke Chinese too. At the Q Shack of all places.
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
11:26 pm
How exciting of a life do I lead? Well, the highlight of my weekend was spending Saturday evening organizing my sock drawer.

Really! Not just the sock drawer but the whole dresser. It had gotten all messy and overcrowded, to the point where the clothes I wear regularly end up sitting on top of the dresser because the drawers were full of clothes I don't wear that often. The sock drawer was especially a problem because I'm kind of into socks and have many pairs. It was getting hard to keep track of them. I sorted the clothes into four piles: 1. store for the winter, 2. give to Goodwill, 3. throw out, 4. keep in the dresser.

I didn't get rid of as much as I was expecting/hoping, but still managed to clear enough space that everything fits neatly into the dresser with room to spare. I had made a major dent in cleaning out my closet last month and now almost my clothes are organized! I can't remember the last time that was true. I still need to put away the sweaters. I used to put them in this hanging sweater thing in the closet. It was cheaply made and ended up being a hassle to deal with. I might try to find a nicer hanging thing for the closet, or I might be able to fit them all in the dresser now.

Penzey&quot;s store in Raleigh!The other highlight of the weekend was a trip to Penzey's. They have a store in Raleigh now! In Cameron Village. We'd never been there before, and now that we've had to deal with their parking I know why. Still, Penzey's is worth it (though I wouldn't go back before Christmas if I could avoid it).

It's a great place to shop. Nice displays, tester jars of everything so you can sniff before buying. The back wall had all the baking spices (cinnamon, extracts etc) in a cute display like an antique kitchen. I don't know their catalog well enough to know if every single thing is in the stores, but they had every single thing we wanted and then some. We had a shopping list for Georg's brother, and we got a couple of gifts, and we went a little crazy for ourselves. And even with as much as we bought, we only duplicated one spice that we already had. Oh well, it will keep. We buy bags, put a small amount in jars and then store the rest in the freezer.

Our haul from Penzey&quot;sWe had a nice chat with the checkout lady. She's on loan from Houston while they get the new store up and running. Coincidentally, that's the only store we'd ever been to before. When we were there for the art car weekend, Lee and Russ kindly took us. We told her that on our last trip to Houston we had made time in a busy schedule to visit Penzey's, it was the one thing off our itinerary that we had to do. She seemed to get a kick out of it. I heard her helping other customers & she seemed to know a lot about the product. We didn't need advice on what to buy -- I may have mentioned that we're kind of into cooking. Penzey's for us is like being a kid in a candy store. Much more exciting than a candy store.
Saturday, November 20th, 2010
9:24 am
gold stars all around
Last week at work I had to teach a short training session on HTML. Two sessions actually, because more people signed up than expected so I broke it into 2 classes. I have to admit that I was apprehensive, though I tried not to show it. I've long thought that I'm a bad teacher, that I just don't have the temperament for it. In fact I was told this years ago by someone I had to teach who didn't think much of my teaching ability -- I thought, and still think, that he was a terrible student, but that doesn't mean he was wrong about me.

So I went into this with the belief that I was going to be bad at it. (Why, you might ask, was I giving this training in the first place? This is what happens when you miss a meeting: you get volunteered for jobs no one else wants to do. After this one I stopped asking "Am I really necessary at this meeting? Can I skip it?") And in fact, if the training had happened when it was supposed to, it probably would have been bad. Lucky for me, scheduling issues dragged on for weeks. Which gave me time to settle in at my new job, develop a little confidence in myself, and realize that just because someone told me to put all my class materials in PowerPoint didn't mean I had to actually do that.

Yes, I came this close to teaching a technical class about HTML that was entirely in PowerPoint. I shudder to think of it! Literally the evening before the first session I realized that if I had to take my own class I'd be bored stiff. I also realized that the person who told me to use PowerPoint wasn't leading the class, I was. And therefore I could change the format if I wanted. I threw out the PowerPoint and worked late writing a new presentation. This one had a very short talk at the beginning, then an actual example HTML file that I would edit on the big screen so people could see how it really works, and much more time for questions.

I think it went well. People asked really good questions, and then would say things like "Oh, I get it!" That was kind of a thrill. After the second session someone even told me that the class had been "good development" for her because she needed to learn more computer skills. Wow. I just wanted to teach people how to do this one thing (send HTML email). It never occurred to me that anyone would see it as part of their overall development. I'm glad I didn't think of it that way; that would have been way too much pressure.

So I'm not planning a career change or anything -- being able to stand in front of a room full of people and teach day after day is a skill that I'm still in awe of -- but at least I won't feel quite so nervous next time I have to lead a training session.
Thursday, November 11th, 2010
8:17 pm
ode to ms. bento
Now that autumn is finally upon us, I appreciate my Ms. Bento lunch box all the more. In the summer I was eating a salad for lunch most days, and more often than not would use tupperware because Ms. Bento just isn't designed for a salad. It's actually designed for a traditional Japanese lunch: soup in the bottom container, rice in the middle container, vegetables in the top container. That's why only the bottom container is watertight.

Now that it's too cold for salad at lunch, I'm taking leftovers to work every day, and Ms. Bento is perfect for that. I thought the containers were awfully small when I first got Ms. Bento. Now I'm surprised to discover that, when packing richer foods like leftover casseroles or chili, I don't even need all three containers! Two is a lot of food.

I always fill the containers with boiling water to preheat them, then dump out the water when my lunch is ready to pack. Yesterday I had an idea that's pretty clever, if I do say so myself: instead of emptying the bottom container, I leave the boiling water in it and pack it like that. At noon when I eat, my lunch is still really hot! I bet if I were packing hot soup, it would work the same way.
Sunday, November 7th, 2010
9:54 pm
I've been knitting almost constantly lately. It's so hard for me to find sweaters I like in stores, that it just seems easier t make my own. Plus it's something to do that lets me feel productive while I'm watching television.

I just finished this sweater:
Sweater almost done
The photo is actually from right before I finished: you can see that only one half of the button band is done in the photo. It's a beautiful pattern with really nice fitted sleeves. I made it in a cotton from Knit Picks and I think it turned out really well. My only regret is I wish I had made it a little longer.

This is my next sweater:
new sweater
The colors in the photo aren't great -- it's actually light green and purple stripes.

Compared to the orange sweater (which was sport weight yarn) it's coming together so fast. I didn't really start knitting until yesterday! It's a pattern on Ravely called "Incredible Custom Fit Raglan" -- not even really a pattern so much as guidelines for designing your own sweater. I really like that it's top-down, so I can try it on as I go and make sure I like the fit.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
9:47 pm
rally to restore sanity and/or fear
So, we went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Well, sort of. The trains were so crowded that we couldn't get on. We went several stops the wrong way, until we finally got to a platform near the beginning of the line where the trains weren't as full and we could get on. Then the trains took longer than usual because at every stop, more people would try to cram onto the train, and they wouldn't be able to get the doors closed. So we'd go through this lengthy process of the lady on the intercom scolding us about standing away from the doors, but no one could hear her, and the people at the doors would argue with the people trying to get on, and eventually they'd either squash the extra people in or persuade them to step off, and we'd finally get the doors clear and move again.

So, the tour of Metro stations was fun but it meant that we got to the rally about 1. Hours after the allocated space had been completely filled and we couldn't even get close. We couldn't see anything, couldn't even see if there were jumbotrons much less where. We could hear that people were talking, but couldn't tell what they were saying. I don't think we ever made it onto the actual mall. We were on one of the side streets next to the mall, packed in like sardines.

I heard that the permit said they were expecting 60,000 people, and that's what they had planned for, and they actually ended up with at least 215,000. I believe it. The part where we were fighting to move through a solid wall of people was fairly un-fun. (And the part where I got separated from our group was downright terrifying.) But when we moved back and got to a less dense area, it was pretty fun. Just watching the crowds, looking at costumes and reading people's signs. We didn't worry about missing out on the actual rally because we had set up the DVR to record in. (In fact, we're watching it right now.) Kinda like going to a Grateful Dead concert and staying in the parking lot the whole time.

My sign was a big hit. Not only did lots of people comment on it, but it was an invaluable tool to help our group stay together when the crowding was the worst. Georg took photos of me with each side:
sanity sidefear side

Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo have good photo collections of costumes and signs. My favorite was one I didn't see on their sites: a guy dressed like Hitler standing on a crate. He was one of the first things I saw when we got to the rally. This sea of people, and whoa, there's Hitler! Holding a sign that said "No, I'm Hitler."

We left before the rally was over and didn't have any trouble getting on a train to go back to Chevy Chase. At first I was wishing we'd left early in the morning so we could have gotten close enough to see the actual rally. But as Georg pointed out, if we had gotten on the Metro at 9 instead of 11, we probably could have gotten a decent place on the mall. But, if we'd done that we would have been trapped behind 215,000 people all trying to exit at the same time. I heard that later in the afternoon it was as difficult to get on the Metro heading out of the city, as it had been to head towards the rally in the morning. Since we had to drive home last night after the rally, it's really good that we didn't get trapped in the middle of it.
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
11:16 pm
rally to restore sanity and/or fear
If you're attending the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, I'll be easy to find: I'll be the one carrying this sign.
rally to restore sanity

See you there!
10:02 pm
i voted
election day accoutrementsI voted today! Up at North Library. There was a short line, 4-5 people, and most of the voting booths were full. I saw my chief judge from precinct 37; she told me she's been working early voting every day.

In other election news, my barrettes arrived! They're super cute. A little bigger than I had expected -- that just makes them easier for the voters to see! The only drawback is, every time I remove the "VOTE" one, it catches my hair & pulls one or two out. Ouch! I just have to make an extra effort to put them in correctly and not have to adjust them. I guess considering all the painful things I _don't_ do for my appearance, this isn't so bad.

We went to A/V Geeks tonight at Fullsteam Brewery. Really fun. The theme was alcohol. My favorite was a 1970s movie where they got several volunteers to drive an obstacle course three times at the Catamount stock car track: sober, tipsy and super drunk. Drunk driving has never been so funny.
12:10 am
This evening was equipment training and exceptions training. Equipment training means learning how to operate the tabulator (the machine people stick ballots into), the voter assistance machine (it helps disabled voters mark their ballots) and the hand scanner. At the ballot table we have to scan the ballots and the ATVs (authorization to vote forms) to make sure everybody gets the right ballot style.

We broke into small groups to practice using the scanner. I was intimidated beforehand but it's really not hard. There's a little red crosshair that you hold over the barcode until it beeps. I guess if I'd worked retail in the past 15 years I would have done it already. They tried to make it relatively foolproof -- for instance it won't allow you to scan the same ATV twice.

The funny part was my small group. It was me, a guy and an older woman. We each took turns scanning a sample ballot and then we took turns starting up the scanner. When it was my turn, the older woman kept trying to yank it out of my hand -- I mean she literally grabbed my hand and tried to take the scanner from me. I didn't say anything, just didn't let her take it until I was done. While she took her turn I chatted with the guy. He's an ... I forget the term but he's an emergency judge. If someone's sick he fills in for them; otherwise he acts as a runner, delivering supplies to precincts throughout the day.

I thought this was really interesting so I was asking him a bunch of questions. Suddenly the older lady shouted at us, "I need help and you're standing there talking!" We were so taken aback we had a hard time not laughing. We thought she was reading the instructions aloud to herself, but apparently she was asking us for help. Without looking at us or phrasing anything as a question. Clearly we were remiss.

He apologized, which I thought was pretty generous of him. She just kept ranting about how we were supposed to help her and we were just talking. Then he said "Is that my job, to make sure you're doing okay? I'm sorry, I didn't realize that." The amazing thing was how even and pleasant he sounded. He really sounded like he was apologizing. But she took it at face value -- accepted his apology even.

I kept my mouth shut until after the session, then went up to him and congratulated him for handling that so well. He said he felt like he was being incredibly snarky! He must just be a super nice person. Even when he's trying to be sarcastic, it comes out kind and sincere. Not me -- if I tried to cut someone down, believe me, they'd know. Anyway we had a good laugh about it, and it wasn't until after he'd left that I realized I never even got his name. Oh well, maybe I'll see him at training again in 2012.
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