29 September 2005


So, I'm having a hard time keeping track of all the little thoughts and ideas that keep whipping about inside my little skull. Things like "Do I want to spend $40 on novelty gifts for Their Royal Majesties and Theier as-yet-unknown Royal Highnesses?" and "Would it be worth it to post signs around campus advertising custom, hand knit socks as possible holiday gifts?" and "I really need to follow up on the Student Tracker option through the National Student Clearinghouse." and "I should block out time on Sunday to finish the alterations on the cotehardie I want to wear for Crown." and "The CDS forms should pr'bly be distributed soon." and "Need to find time to catch up on news - DeLay? Brown? Do I need to vote October 4?" and "Will Birch be finished in time for me to wear to the holiday party this year, and if so, do I want to get a new dress - I really need a new little black dress anyway - to wear with it?" and "I need to make the truffles into truffle form tonight, not to mention vacuum and change the sheets." and "When did my boss say she wanted me to have a proposed budget prepared?" and "Margaritas sound good."

There are more. But those are the ones currently closest to capture-speed.

Yes, Birch is coming along quite nicely. I think I'm through three pattern repeats now - haven't had as much knitting time this week as I've driven in twice (Monday because Jack was sick and today because I'm going to be here late) - and it's gorgeous and soft and beautiful and I can't wait until I can wear it. The ladies at the stitch-n-bitch yesterday were suitably impressed and petted the yarn and oohed and ahhed, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't just because it was my first time there. The KSH was initially troublesome, but I've figured out it's tricks now and haven't had to correct an error in at least the last three rows, so we'll count that as success. *grin*

My office is a sty. Granted, it's considerably more functional now than when I inherited it, but it's still not really *functional*. My filing system is really just stacks of things because I haven't had time and energy at the same time to go through what's left of the files I inherited and make them my own. So those that are my own are just.. stacked.. precariously at the moment. There's also that little bookshelf of Really Old Stuff(tm) that I really just need to pull out of the binders and recycle. We are, apparently, really (maybe) moving upstairs, so that might provide the impetus to get around to it. At least, it might if I can knock down the to-do list sufficiently that I won't be neglecting something else more than I should to do it. Oh. Art. I still need to figure out what art I want on my office walls, too. I wonder if Ursula still has the alphabet prints.. though something.. well.. more .. numbers or patterns than letters might be more appropriate. Escher is just so.. done, though. And I've never been fond of fractals and the like. I need to find some good prints of naturally occuring fibonacci sequences (sequenci?), I think. Something clever but still pretty.

The cold has, mercifully, been short lived. I slept well last night, even if I did manage to pick up a muscle-unhappiness in my lower right shoulder, and have not needed any kind of medication so far today and am not terribly stuffy. There is Gunk(tm) both in my upper sinuses and the back of my throat, but it's not.. well, doing anything. As in it's not obstructing my breathing or trying to creep (noticeably) into my lungs. Here's hoping this signals the end. Of course, Jack thinks that anything in a margarita will kill whatever's left, so I should be all good after tonight. *smile*

This random ramble has been brought to you by the color Octuran and the number z.

27 September 2005

Right then..

So.. next time I sleep that much in a weekend, it might be because my immune system is trying desperately to stave something off. Like the cold that seems to have invaded our household. *sigh* This is not a week I can be out for a day with a cold. I might - *might* - be able to sneak out this afternoon and work from home, where at least I can be in my PJs in bed or wrapped up on the couch in a snuggly blanket. But work must continue getting done.


25 September 2005

Lazy weekend..

I took many naps this weekend. It was good. And apparently much needed. It's my last quiet weekend in the next several so it was good to relax some.

I also started on Birch.. I have to pay more attention to it than I expected I would - the Kidsilk Haze is so fine that I've found that I catch miscellaneous strands when I don't want to. I also had to learn the trick of pulling down slightly on the work while doing the K2tog TBL or that second loop is near impossible to grab. But it's going fairly well - I'm one pattern repeat (8 rows) in with only a few minor mistakes that were relatively easy to repair.

Also made a batch of scotch truffles using the Phillips Union cherry whiskey in place of scotch. The cherry is fairly subdued, but overall I think they're still tasty. They're chilling in the fridge now and I'll scoop them either tonight or tomorrow and roll them in cocoa to have ready for next weekend.

22 September 2005


This week can be over now. Really. I won't be offended if it decides to skip tomorrow and end a day early. Even if it means we have to miss what will undoubtedly be a good time at friends' wedding tomorrow night.

I found out, through my husband's cousin, who also works at the University, that my praises have apparently been touted loud and clear. our interim dean of students has apparently been telling any of his staff who'll listen about "the 45 minute report," which was neither a report nor delivered in 45 minutes. Okay, well it might have been delivered in 45 minutes. But all he asked for was some simple trend data in a chart he could put into PowerPoint; I already had the data pulled in a table in Excel, so it was a matter of mere seconds to create the table. But this apparently impressed him Mightily(tm), so now there are all these folks on campus who want to talk to me about what data I might have that they might be able to use. Which is terribly flattering and quite what I'd wanted to have happen - the getting the word out that I'm here and responsive and all that - but this week.. yeah. I could have done without the three meetings to talk about non-urgent projects. But in some ways they've been nice distractions and have pr'bly kept my eyes from bleeding right out of my head from staring at numbers on the screen all day. Oh, and NSSE.. yes.. consortial questions should not be an issue to get territorial over, folks. Really. You don't get to include your question? You weren't planning to use the comparison data from the other schools anyway, so just survey your students directly and spare the rest of us the histrionics.


It doesn't help any that my sole knitting related project this week was a complete and utter failure. Twizlers whips simply should not be knit with. Sure, sure, everything goes fine and dandy, and after about the third try, you finally figure out how to join in a new strand without utterly destroying the previously finished work, but then you get almost to the end and it all just falls apart. *sigh*

But at least I get to wear the really, really pretty (and have I mentioned terribly comfortable) top that Birdkiller made for me for Rae's wedding again. I've discovered that worn with a plain black skirt or pair of dress pants (or I imagine even jeans.. might have to try that..), it looks smashing. And it's fun and pretty and makes me feel good. So I'm wearing it to the wedding tomorrow. With the wrap and the purse, because the purse simply must get more face time.. Yes, yes. All is right and well in the wardrobe area at least.

Oh, and Phillips Union cherry flavored whiskey..? Not terrible. Not something to drink straight (tastes like slightly contaminated maraschino cherry juice), but mixes *fantastically* with Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. And I'm thinking that the next batch of truffles will have to use it instead of scotch.

21 September 2005

Why I love my tablet.

In short, it's because I'm currently in a budget meeting, listening to a rather encouraging and so far civil discussion about an actual planning process for ensuring that budget cuts make sense and at the same time correcting a series of tables in Excel. Both tasks, on their own, are mind-numbingly tedious; but done at the same time, they're both much more tolerable. Unfortunately, the meeting is unlikely to last as long as it will take me to finish the tables, so I'm going to have to do some mind-numbing tedium later from my office.

I'm also trying not to be too annoyed at being more or less blamed for the reason our financial people aren't able to tell people whether we made our budget targets this term. I *sent* them the data they need yesterday, they have not asked for anything additional, or in a different format, so it annoys me that they're sitting there telling this committee that they're waiting on FTE data to complete the calculations when I know for a fact that they're not. *grumble*

My knitting task today is moderately amusing. I'm making 302 Calories for a friend's bachelorette party tonight. I was going to do it over lunch, but was concerned that the licorice whips would get too brittle before the party, so I'm going to do it after work instead. It will be a nice little diversion before I dive into the absolutely *gorgeous* Kid Silk Haze mamacatesent me with which I intend to make Birch. I've never, ever worked with such a fine yarn - at least not knitting; lace is another story - and while it's a little scary, it's also quite exciting. And when I get frustrated with it, I can always go look at her beautiful finished Birch for additional inspiration!

In other crafting news, I got an email from Lisa, who is the woman I have been "renting" pottery studio space from in Sparta the past several months. She was emailing to let me know that her pottery teacher, who lives in La Crescent and is therefore about 25 miles closer to me, would love to rent me studio time at her studio. She figured with gas prices the way they were, I'd appreciate going to a closer studio. And, as much as I'll miss hanging out with Lisa, she's dead right - I'm much more likely to go to the studio regularly if it's closer. So after this week is over, I intend to check that out in more detail.

19 September 2005

Here I go being idealistic again..

*grump* I'm annoyed, generally speaking, at whatever it is that's stuck in people's heads that says that the "answer" to the problems of high divorce rates and a general increase in the number of single-parent families is "marriage education". Despite clearly stating that "many government programs fail and that the evidence that pro-marriage programs will produce benefits is thin," a recent Brookings Institution Policy Brief (PDF) advocates for spending some gross amount of money on identifying those "marriage education" programs which are at least somewhat effective so that we can put even more money into implementing those programs.

While generally, I feel that proven efficacy should be a criteria for public funding of various social promotion initiatives (let's not discuss Head Start, shall we?), the utter lack of recognition that there are alternatives to marriage that successfully provide children the structure and support of two-parent families galls me. Instead of dropping 1.5 billion welfare-reform dollars on promoting marriage, why aren't we advocating for programs to support succesful co-parenting or looking at options for single parents to combine households? Why isn't there more outrage against the focus on the Judeo-Christian ideal of marriage, which, by the by, The Powers That Be(tm) seem to by simultaneously trying to limit to male-female couples only?

Yes, yes, I know.. the progressive in me is not reflective of the majority opinion of the nation. But it still angers the researcher in me that so many people can back a call for research-based programs only to hamstring the research by forcing too narrow a focus for possible solutions. The world would be a better place if we could set aside ideology and actually honestly explore what might be best for children and their families, whatever their structure.


We had quite a storm roll through this morning. It was gorgeous - lots of "fireworks" but little actual rain relative to the noise - and I would have enjoyed sitting out on the front porch watching it roll through had it not started around quarter to two and lasted until quarter past five. *sigh* As it was, the combination of the noise, a restless little black pig (she's afraid of storm and tries to hide under things, but no hiding place is ever satisfactory for very long, so she ends up pacing and being generally miserable; she also refuses to come snuggle under the covers or somewhere that we could at least placate our misery on her behalf by trying to comfort her), and a Starbucks pumpkin latte too late in the afternoon kept me more or less conscious for the duration of the storm. Not quite fully awake, but definitely not sleeping either.

As is usual for nights I don't get much sleep, I'm more or less functional today, but tomorrow is likely to be unbearable, made worse by the prospect of an all morning retreat to discuss our accreditation self-study report. Oh, and the fact that today is our Official Day of Record, so tomorrow I will have the data extracts to start publishing official enrollment and workload data. Not a good day to be zoned. I can only hope that an early bed time tonight will stave off the worst of it.

It was a bittersweet end to what had been a rather enjoyable weekend. I was fairly productive despite it being the first weekend I had pretty much totally to myself in months. Jack had a bachelor party Saturday night, so he left late Saturday morning to go help the groom and best man get things set up and didn't return until around noon Sunday. Despite the mild temptation to be a lump in front of the PSII all day, I managed to get the Honey Porter bottled (finally..and I somehow managed to get 32 bottles instead of the usual 26), rack the pineapple wine to a glass jug, make pizza crusts, clean the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, write up the stuff I needed to write up to send in for the Minister of Tournaments website, do something on the order of 5 or 6 loads of laundry (some of it was our camp bedding which needed to be washed before getting put away for the winter), and knit some.

I was annoyed to discover, though, that I must have cast on 6 extra stitches when I cast on for the second Padded Footlet (Summer 2005 Interweave Knits) because when I went to start the instep pattern chart last night, I suddenly had 6 more stitches than I need. So I get to rip that back to scratch, which might just have to wait until I'm less frustrated with that project entirely. In the meantime, I'm working on finishing the moss stitch Shapely Tank I'm making for my sister for Christmas so I can free up my US 7 circular needles and then start Jack's sweater, which I got the yarn for on Friday. The yarn (Cotton Rich) is quite soft and snuggly and appears to shrink lengthwise but not widthwise when washed, which will hopefully be easier to accomodate for. And assuming it's not been discontinued, if it knits up as nicely as I expect, I might have to use it for Rogue.. But then, I've said that about at least half a dozen different yarns in the last couple months and seem completely unable to commit to one of the bunch. *shrug*

15 September 2005

This is a test..

.. this is only a test. In the case of an actual emergency, good chocolate and strong coffee with real cream would be provided.

Today is September 15. To most people, this is not a date of any significance. It never used to be a date of any significance to me (in fact, I almost forgot about it). Until we moved to Minnesota. Which, in and of itself, does not make September 15 particularly significant. It's only when you work for the State of Wisconsin, which apparently is incapable of withholding Minnesota state income tax from employee checks, and are therefore required to file quarterly income tax returns that September 15 becomes significant. It is the day on which 3rd quarter taxes are due. Here's hoping they won't fuss too much if the check is a day late because, I mentioned above, I didn't remember that today was in fact significant for me until this morning. *sigh*

Wilcoxon (that's the moose, remember?) has a tag on his bottom, as is common among animals of his type. I am slight amused by this tag, though, which reads "Wishpets(tm) a Wish Come Ture!" It makes me wonder what was supposed to come be fore the "-ture".. like... miniature, or discomfiture, or ligature. Meanwhile, Wilcoxon seems just as content without his little tag as he was with it.

In other news, mamacate rocks, but those of you who remember my trip to San Diego already knew that. Turns out she was able to work her magic because she, too, is an IR person. Not only that, but she knows *more* IR people who are are similarly fiber obsessed. *squee* (I sort of feel like the Ugly Duckling who just found out that she's really a Swan! *blush*)

As I sit and ponder this confluence of things fibery, specifically knitting, though I imagine the same would hold for weaving as well, and number crunching, there's a certain .. something that connects the two. I'll try to explain, at least how it works in my head, but it might get tangled. Essentially, when I look at data, I'm trying to draw out the pattern, or the story, the data tells. Another way of thinking of this is trying to create the picture of what's happening by finding the strands and threads that weave the whole together. A single data item, like a single strand of fiber, may be beautiful, but is rarely complex. Only by combining it with others and teasing out the patterns does the larger picture, in all it's glory, become clear. Sometimes, like when working a delicate lace motif in a fuzzy mohair, the pattern stays diffuse and difficult to perceive until you set it off against some contrasting background. Sometimes, like when working cables in 100% cotton, you have to exert a fair amount of effort and a not-insignificant amount of force to bring the pattern out, but once it's there, you can't miss it. And sometimes, like when working with hand-dyed variegated yarn, you start out expecting a certain pattern only to find a completely different one emerging as you go. Of course, there are also the times, like when working with a luscious and soft wool in stockinette, when the pattern comes out exactly as you expected without an undue amount of effort. So, when I think about it that way, it makes a certain sense that data geeks are also commonly fiber geeks. It is, after all, sometimes easier to just follow the pattern than it is to find it.

14 September 2005

Slip 1 purl wise, SSK, PSSO

I'm not sure if I should be annoyed, frustrated, concerned or some combination of the three by the email from our System office informing me that our academic year degrees conferred count appears to be down last year from the year before.

The potential annoyance stems from a planned and purposeful decrease in student enrollment starting in 2001. If fewer students started four years ago than five years ago, it makes sense that fewer students will graduate last year than the year before. But, knowing what I know about our student body - namely that most students take 5 years to graduate instead of 4 - that pr'bly isn't really the answer; it might be the answer next year, though.

The potential frustration stems from the fact that I wasn't here at this time last year, so I not only have no idea what was reported, I also have no idea where the supporting documentation might have been filed (assuming, and I'm learning this isn't always the safest thing to do, it was filed at all). In fact, at this time last year, there was technically no one in my position - my predecessor had departed at the end of June, I didn't start until mid-November.

The potential concern is that we "lost" student data somewhere between here and the System office. That's unlikely, but given that they just did a major system upgrade there, it's theoretically possible. Another potential concern is that, well, we really did confer significantly fewer degrees last year than the year before. But given that I know that our graduation rates are more or less stable over the last couple years, that also seems unlikely.

Somewhere in this tangle is an answer. But I'd somehow rather untangle a badly mangled skein of mohair than delve into the details of data I never touched.

13 September 2005

I have a moose.

He's just a little moose and he sits on my desk with this ever-patient and sympathetic little tilt to his head that gets me through those afternoons when I'd much rather escape to some little parallel space time with sunshine and chaise lounges and a bottle of wine and a good friend to finish the second half of that second sock but must instead comb through SPSS output or format yet-another chart in Excel or even attend an interminably long Senate subcommittee meeting.

I haven't yet named him. I'm a bit torn between something appropriately surreal - like Marmoset because, well, he's not much bigger than one - or something fiber-related - like Niddy Noddy because that's what his antlers remind me of - or something number-crunchy - like ANCOVA because I miss them or even Wilcoxon because it's just a fun sounding name, even if I can never remember the difference between it and the Mann-Whitney U. At the moment I'm leaning toward Wilcoxon.