Saturday, December 24, 2005

Homemade gifts

Laura and I give at least a few homemade gifts every Christmas. A few years ago, she made personalized scented bath oils and salts for the DK dancers, and we've made jewelry a few times. We're a good team for that sort of thing. She's the artist and I'm the techie, and our relationship reflects this. When we redid the dormer on the front of the house, I did the demolition, insulation, woodwork, windows, and siding, and she picked the colors. I don't mean to make it sound like I did all the work; she actually has the harder job. If it weren't for Laura, we'd live in a black, orange, and purple house. She's the reason we're tasteful. The jewelry is the same way. She arranges pretty things, I solder them together.
This year we're knitting. We both picked up knitting last New Year's Eve, so we've been at it almost a year. Laura's pretty good, and I'm not bad. We're making a few scarves and shawls and similar things for people this Christmas. Giving hand-knitted gifts isn't actually cheaper than buying gifts; good yarn costs a lot, even if you don't factor in the time it takes. I only knitted one thing for Laura this year. I made her a neck gaiter, but I already gave it to her. She loves it, and it keeps you surprisingly warm. I made it almost entirely at work during Mistletoe Music Fest performances.
I get a little crap occasionally for being a guy who knits, but it doesn't bother me; my repertoire includes welding, rock climbing, rigging, plumbing, wiring, carpentry, and badass martial arts, and I'm basically a roadie for a living. I figure I've got guy cred to spare. A few days ago at work I heard the best possible comeback for when guys give you manliness crap about knitting. A guy saw me knitting and came over to talk shop. We were talking stitches and patterns, and I asked him when he started knitting. His answer: "I started about two years ago when my court-ordered anger-management therapist recommended it."
This year I'm making candles for Laura. I made her six big pillar candles, and I had to do them all when she wasn't around. We've made candles together, so she'll know how much time is involved. I think the most impressive part will be how much scheduling I had to do to make sure she wasn't around; I'm not known for effective time management. :-)
And, I'm not worried posting on my blog about gifts I haven't given yet. I don't think Laura ever reads this. She may not even know it's here....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Great Ralphing Adventure

So, I got sick at mom and dad's Christmas party Monday night. I wasn't the first; my niece Amelia started it. But around 9 that night, I started feeling nauseous. Laura drove me home between bouts of ralphing, and I spent the next twelve hours in the bathroom. We figured out later that it was food poisoning; not only was I sick, so were my parents, my brother and sister, and both of her kids. A few phone calls later, we found out that around twenty of the people at the big Mountjoy family party Sunday got sick too. I'm suspecting the Cheesy Potatoes or the Deviled Eggs. I had to go to work Tuesday and run a performance, even though I still felt like crap. I actually hid a trash can so I could puke with privacy during the show if I had to (and, yes--I had to). It was just this morning that I really started feeling well again.
Laura was great; she took wonderful care of me. It's frustrating having a sick spouse. You feel like you should be doing something, but most of the time there's not much you can do. Laura made me Tummy-Tamer Tea, which didn't do much taming, and brought me pillows and gave me back caresses and was very attentive. Thanks, babycakes!
While I've been writing this, the back of my mind has been coming up with terms for puking. There's a wide variety to choose from, and I suspect most of them were invented specifically to describe alcohol-induced illness ("the technicolor yawn" comes readily to mind). Self-induced drunken sickness carries some comedy with it, and the vocabulary follows comedy, even though nausea itself is pretty unpleasant. If nausea were strictly a product of serious illness, I doubt it would have silly nicknames; I don't think there are many cute terms for, say, chemotherapy or rheumatoid arthritis.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

too old to game?

I'm running out of video games. I went shopping for a new game yesterday, and I realized that most of the new games are geared for multiplayer. They've got limited single-player playability, but lots of cool features for online play. I don't really do much of that; it doesn't appeal to me. I want to play games, not deal with attitude, and in my brief foray into online gaming I encountered a lot of attitude.
I think it might be a factor of age. I was in college when Doom (in my experience, the first non-arcade-style game) was released; I remember installing it from four floppy disks. And the first online multiplayer game wasn't available for another eight or nine years. But if you're in school now, you grew up with online gaming; it's part of your working vocabulary. And it's not part of mine. This might be similar to the fact that so many people over the age of 50 can't program their VCR.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas gifts?

I'm starting to put together my Christmas list for various family members who keep asking what to get me. In years past, I tended to write a fairly funny wish list; the last year or two, I just haven't had the time and energy to put into a cute, humorous list that only four or five people read (this is also the reason I don't update the webpage very often). And, coming up with serious items is getting harder the older I get. It's not that I'm reducing my wants as I age; I'm still too stuff-oriented. But everything I want falls into non-giftable categories:
1) things I want that are too expensive to ask for (big power tools, electronics, new glasses, etc.)
2) things I want that I'm trying to do less of, and therefore don't want as gifts (video games)
3) things I want that are small and ordinary, and therefore I tend to buy when I need (small tools, books, etc.)
4) things I want, but my taste is too specific for most people to buy for me (dangerous cutlery, new glasses, video games, etc)
Therefore, my list tends to come from the last two categories:
5) things I need that I hate spending money on (jeans, shoes, socks, etc)
6) things I want that I hate spending money on (music, movies, etc)
I'm thinking I have too much stuff as it is; one of my biggest house problems is where to store all my crap. So, in the interest of reducing the piles, everything on my list is either easily storable or clothing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Competing trends in video

I'm noticing a trend in video. Everything's moving to hi-def, crystal-clear, enormous pictures in surround sound. The bigger your plasma screen, the better.
Actually, this trend only applies to serious video fans with a low resistance to advertising, a deep-seated need to be cutting-edge, and too much disposable income. The other big trend among nerds and gearheads is for really tiny, highly portable video. Apple's introduced the video iPod, three or four companies are making video-compatible cell phones, and Sony's doing well with the PSP. The picture's small, the refresh rate isn't great, but you can take it anywhere. And, it seems to be finding its market faster than HDTV. I suspect I know why: HDTV is still pretty limited. If you bought them when they were first available, the only programming available consisted of a few sports games. So the market consists of the intersection of the sets of people with too much disposable income, people who are really into their sports, and technophiles. That's a pretty small market. Even years later, there's still not a lot of hi-def television that matters; the fact that you can watch a sitcom in hi-def is pretty irrelevant. Until people start agreeing on a HD-DVD format, hi-def video won't matter much. Portable video, on the other hand, serves an actual need: you can carry your movies with you and watch them anywhere. And the amount of content is impressive. You can convert your own, or you can purchase portable-format movies. And, the most expensive player for portable video still costs 25% of what the cheapest HD set costs.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No Novel

Well, it's officially December. And I didn't finish my National Novel Writing Month novel. Writing is hard; it's a good thing it's also fun. Laura and I were talking our way through another story while we were on vacation; I'm giving it a try too. I don't know if it's a good idea trying to keep two stories going at one time, but it helps that I can switch if I get fed up with one.
NaNoWriMo has expanded; there's now a National Novel Editing Month, a National Novel Writing Year, and, for NaNoWriMo successes, there's a National Novel Finishing Month. I like the idea.

Worse than a cover band

I just thought of something worse than "cover band" that you could say about Sinatra. How about "lounge band"?