Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black & Decker Iron Fire Warning!!

If you have a Black & Decker First Impressions iron, I think I should probably warn you about what happened to me today.

(Also, I want to talk about it and my husband is out of town and my fourteen-year-old has banned me from saying, "We could have died!" again because it freaks him out. But seriously, we could have died.)

I was working on my cool colors Seattle Streets quilt tonight. (More on that later.) I'd reached the "sewing rows together" part, so I brought two rows upstairs where I could lay them out on the floor to pin them together. I didn't think twice about leaving my iron on in my sewing room downstairs, because it has automatic shut-off.

After I was done pinning, my husband called and we talked for a few minutes. Then I went back to my sewing room.

When I got downstairs, I immediately smelled burning plastic. Went into my sewing room and saw smoke pouring out of my brand new Black and Decker iron, with two-inch-high blue flames coming out of the center.

So of course I shrieked like a little girl. Then I unplugged the iron and blew on the flames like I was blowing out birthday candles. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but it worked. (Seriously, you don't reach my age without knowing how to blow out flames.)

And this was what was left. That melted hole there used to be solid plastic. That's where the blue flames were coming out, like a butane lighter.

It was all over in less than a minute, but I'm still pretty shocked by this. And extremely pissed off that this could happen! What if I hadn't been right there? What if I'd gone to bed? (Our bedroom is directly over my sewing room.) What if my son had been home alone?

Tomorrow I'm contacting Black & Decker, and I will never, ever, ever leave my iron plugged in when I'm not in the room again!!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canon Wars

So the other day I had an intense craving for Pachelbel's Canon in D. And if you've ever had that craving, you know you can't continue with life until you get your fix.

So I went to the first-choice source for all things musical and free: YouTube. Typed in "Pachelbel's Canon" in the search box. And got this progression:

Pachelbel's Canon in D Major - very nice version (5,337,800 views)

Johann Pachelbel Canon in D Major fantastic version, classical music (5,228,454 views)

Pachelbel's Canon in D -- Soothing music (best version)

So we're moving up the ladder. "Very nice" to "fantastic" to "best." What can possibly be next?

The "perfect" version, of course.

Interestingly, I think I'm bigger on "fantastic." Although "best" has better visuals.

(Also fun: "Original instruments" version, "guitar violin and flute" version and "string quartet" version. I'd love to hear the last two in CD quality rather than live performance quality.)

And for giggles: A hysterical (if you're a music nerd) comedic rant on playing the cello part.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ah, Old Spice

My father wore it.

My sons wear it.

This means I probably shouldn't find this commercial nearly as entertaining as I do.

But I do.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Help Me, Before I Squee Again!

I know I've done this before, but I am just addicted to the baby animal photo site, "Daily Squee."

Hedgehogs. They're hedgehogs.

And no, I have no idea what a "squee" is either.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That's Probably Not the Best Analogy

Years ago, my mom and I watched the movie "All that Jazz," a semi-autobiographical film by and about the director/choreographer Bob Fosse.

I didn't remember it that clearly, but I remembered the opening scene, played over and over throughout the movie, where he puts on classical music and prepares himself for the day.

Or I thought I remembered it.

The music has played through my mind over the last year or two each week as I prepare for my ESL classes. In case the connection isn't obvious, I guess my brain decided that teaching is in many ways like preparing for a performance, and his line, "It's showtime, folks!" was how this introvert always felt as I walked through those doors.

I just re-watched the scene I thought I was remembering. After seeing it again, all I can say is:

Um...yeah. I'd probably better pick another theme song.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When Soccer and Quilting Don't Mix

I was watching a soccer game today -- one of my favorite (smallish) French clubs playing against a huge, Spanish, win-at-all costs team. (They literally spent about a quarter of a billion dollars on new players in the summer transfer window. And that's not salaries -- that's just to purchase them from their old teams!)

My French boys weren't expected to do well. And for the first ten minutes they didn't. Then they found their stride, and the home crowd got behind them, and they started looking better. And better. And then in the third minute of the second half, they scored.

And then they held on by their fingernails.

This is always the worst time for me as a fan -- after my team has scored, but before a win is guaranteed. Before they score, I can think, "They're not expected to win, and a draw would be great." After they score, though, I get a stomach ache and regret drinking so much coffee before the adrenaline kicked in.

So today I left the room and spent the last twenty minutes of the second half quilting. Kind of.

What I actually did was feed fabric through the machine. Lots of fabric.

But no bobbin thread.

If you don't sew, this is something like starting your car and pushing on the accelerator for five or ten minutes before realizing you're not actually going anywhere.

But it did kill the time up to the final whistle, and I returned fifteen seconds before the end of the game. Just enough to see my French guys' euphoric hugs.

And now I have to go back and sew the same pieces. With thread this time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Moving Mountains (of Quilt Strips)

Do you ever start something that just takes on a life of its own? That describes the current state of my Cool Colors Seattle Streets Quilt. (Which will technically be "quilts.") I think right now I may have enough cut for a queen size (mine) a twin size (mother's guest bed in my old bedroom) and a lap quilt. (Mine. Mine. All mine.) Plus probably some for some charity quilts.

In fact, I could populate the entire Seattle area with charity quilts, all in the same pattern and color scheme. I'm not sure this is a good thing, but for the moment I'm happy.

See, what happened was, I realized a few weeks back that it was time to use up some cool colors. Meaning that my cool colors drawer would no longer close. And since

A) I created the Seattle Streets pattern because I selfishly love the way it looks, and
B) I absolutely love cool color quilts, and
C) this quilt uses up fabric really, really fast...

Well, it seemed like the obvious choice. So I started cutting. And sewing. And cutting. And sewing. And cutting some more.

I'm doing this in 15" blocks, of which I have about a dozen or so completed. Enough for that lap quilt. Blocks like this one:

But what I also have is a huge pile of strip sets (the 15"-wide sets of strips that are ready to be cut into strips themselves as a prelude to being sewn into blocks.

And then there's this:

The mountain of strips that are yet to be sewn into strip sets.

I think I've created a monster.

But I have to say, this is a quilt I love, in colors I love. So I guess that if this is a monster (or maybe it's multiple monsters...)

Well, it's my monster and I nub it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Parental Translations of News from the Legislature

We got the chance to chat with our Senate page son last night. As always when you're dealing with teenagers, there's a lot of reading between the lines.

Question: "How is being a page?"
Answer: "It's fantastic!"
Translation: "It's fantastic!"

Question: "What have you enjoyed most?"
Answer: "We get a full hour for lunch and we get to go walk around the city!"
Translation: "I went to Subway! With girls!"

Question: "How are the women who are running the page program?"
Answer: "Haha! Yesterday I came in and I guess my tie was crooked, and the woman yelled at me and said, "We're not here to make fashion statements!"
Translation: I am a fourteen-year-old who's never worn a tie before and am not quite sure what to pull to straighten the knot my dad tied for me before I left. Plus: What the heck does she mean by "straight tie"? But of course adults assume the worst about my generation.

Question: Did you get to meet the senator who sponsored you?
Answer: Uh...yeah. We talked for maybe...five minutes. And...yeah.
Translation: He's an adult. It was mildly awkward.

Question: So what did you guys do tonight?
Answer: Just hung out. We were going to go roller skating, but they had roller derby going on and wouldn't let us in.
Translation: Wait. Roller derby?!?

Question: "Did your other housemate show up? Where's he from?"
Answer: "Yeah, he's from Bainbridge Island."
Translation: "Whew. I'm not going to bring up the politics thing, but if someone else should bring it up? I totally have another liberal to back me up."

All in all? Sounds like a great experience.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Legislation, From the Inside, at Fourteen

Did you know that non-legislator adults are not allowed on the floor of the Washington State House or Senate? Security and press are, I believe, the only exceptions, and they're both relegated to specific, separate areas. This is to keep people from trying to influence votes as they're being taken.

This is why House and Senate pages are required to be under legal voting age; the assumption is that young people will not try to influence votes. They are the only ones allowed to actually be on the floor within earshot of the legislators while the House and Senate are in session.

(The humor here is that my fourteen-year-old son, who's currently down in Olympia serving as a Senate page, is probably one of the most politically aware kids I've ever known.)

If you have a teen in the fourteen-ish (but under 18) age group, I would HIGHLY recommend having him/her serve as a page. It's fascinating. We had the orientation yesterday, starting with a tour of the capitol building -- a place I've always intended to visit but never quite got around to.

Then it was the page orientation, where they get their maroon page jackets -- to go with the black pants, white shirts and black ties they're required to bring. They also run through the process of how, exactly, they hand things out to the senators on the floor. It's quite regimented -- Seat #9 follows Seat #10 to the rostrum, then they split, with each one going down a specific aisle and no other, one giving handouts to Democrats and one to Republicans. While the original #9 and #10 are moving, the pages in seats #8 and #7 immediately replace them in seats #9 and #10, so the two important seats are never vacant. Seven and eight are then replaced by the former five and six. I used to ride in horse-mounted drill teams when I was growing up, and this has the same feel.

Everything on the Senate floor is done the old-fashioned way. No computers or technology at all. (The kids are told that their cellphones will be confiscated if they even have them on their persons while they're working.) It felt like this was the way they did it back in the 1890s, right after statehood. It's kind of amazing to see your kid be a part of it.

My son's staying with a "host family" for the week, a nice couple on a small farm who have been doing this for twenty years. There were brownies in the oven when we dropped him off, so they obviously know teenage boys. My husband texted our son last night to be sure everything was okay. The text he got back was along the lines of, "These guys are great! We went bowling tonight and I totally scored 113!" I think he'll be okay.

They actually get paid for this, too, $35 a day; it's considered an actual job, complete with the requirement for a Social Security card. They're required to show up at the Senate, ready to work, by 7:45. They stay and work until 5:00, with an hour off for lunch. This includes two hours a day of "Page School" where they learn about the legislative process.

Too bad they can't require that kind of thing of all citizens, eh?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

It's the Obvious Name for a Goldfish

Conversation with my 14-year-old:

Him: Can I get a goldfish?

Me: Sure. We'll name it "Catfood."

Him: But the cat hardly ever comes into my room.

Me: She would if you had a goldfish.

Friday, February 05, 2010

If You Find Me Dead on July 26, You'll Know it was GMT

For the record, the mayonnaise I just opened goes bad on July 26, 2010 at 1:13 in the afternoon. I know this because the bottle tells me so.

Of course, it doesn't actually clarify which timezone, so I should probably presume East Coast, just to be safe. Because I'd hate to die from having a sandwich at 10:14 just because I live on the wrong coast.

Wait a second. They can't import mayonnaise from Europe, right? Because if so, I'm totally hosed.

P.S. When I went searching for a mayonnaise photo, I found one on a site called "Global packaging." So now I'm REALLY concerned. Because...GLOBAL!?!? What if... What if it comes from Australia?