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February 18, 2005

Whipped Butter and Bagels
life, log

fresh bagel smell on the air
the goodness is everywhere

Wombat! We have a three day weekend ahead of us, and boy is it delightfully packed! Saturday, the crew team is up bright and early to head to an erg pull, where each of us will attempt to yank a chain at break-neck speeds in order to trounce (or not) the rest of the crewing community. After that, a few of the crewbies and some noncrewbies will be heading back to school for the first "rehearsal" of the Scottish play, where we'll attempt to prevent certain members of the cast from decapitating anyone. I'm quite looking forward to the rehearsal, as it has, of course, been a year or so since the last play, and I can't wait to dance about under a borrowed face once more.

We also have sketchbook exercises in art! And they wouldn't seem to be very onerous; no paper-shading this week! Nope, this time we get to design and color 3 outfits. Ought to be interesting, although most of mine will probably end up being either fantastical or just really weird designs which I'd love to wear but which I'd have to make myself if I'm to have them. They'll probably mostly be male too. I'll likely stay away from female figures so that I might prevent myself from massacering either the anatomy or the outfits themselves, although some nifty colorful billowing clothes might work well enough on a female frame.

Speaking of art, I'm becoming rather amorous of watercolor. Although I'm loath to try anything complex yet, like a duck *cough.* or a marsh, at least with any high expectations, it seems rather fun, and the patterns the paint sometimes makes in the water can be quite delightful. The water can also be a curse though, as if you put it on an already-dry surface of paint, it can splotch, forming a downright ugly and as far as I know unfixable water-mark.

We're currently doing the previously mentioned clay tiles, though, which work well enough, although I'm a bit wary of the kiln's destructive powers, and my clay didn't want to get properly wet today– it was either too dry or too wet all period. The sword handle is also frustrating me, as the period before last I crafted a nice little sword, but I spent all of this period to little avail. I almost had it once, but the scale wasn't right. I'll have to do a computer version of my personal crest/coat of arms/etc thing and post it soon.

I noticed today that the acronyms for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (MSWF) and Macworld San Francisco (MWSF) are remarkably similar. Knitting and Apples seem to be more closely related than the first glance might indicate! Maybe the two events should merge; never mind the fact that they're located on opposite shores, surely some dimensional magic can solve that problem.

Finally, I just opened up and toasted the first of a package of Thomas's blueberry bagels, and boy did they smell good. Pure happiness they didst contain the pheromones of. They didn't taste quite as good as they smelled, and I had a time with the whipped butter (golly is that stuff messy), but they served their purpose. May your weekend prove delightful and filled with the smells of happiness!

[Yes, this was posted on the 19th &ndash you haven't gone insane – but only because I hadn't finished reading over it the day before. Oops.]

Posted by Trevor Savage at 8:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

life, thing

happiness that can not be deflated
	happiness that can not be improved
the happiness floats, unwaning, above the discordant seas
	a steady star amidst the dusky night
written after the homecoming dance, october 16 2004

Dancing. Oh, hail, most glorious of activities. There's quite possibly nothing better than when you're in the midst of friends, music's pounding through your veins, and, more than merely moving your limbs in sync to the sound, the music having entered your ears commands your limbs to move. In addition to music, sugar and caffeine seem to play large parts in this process – prior to such being ingested, my movements tend to be much more reserved, generally restricting themselves to my arms. The only other person I've seen describe dancing in this way – that is, as simply moving to the music – is one Eddy.

I got into dancing this summer at CTY when, after skipping the first dance in favor of Risk, I hoped into the second with a group of friends. By the end of the night, thanks to the great dancing of Nijimaru, a hallmate, I was hooked. The next dance I miss will be the one which takes place the day after my funeral. The dances at Franklin and Marshall (where the camp was held) were quite nifty; conducted outdoors, there was always plenty of air, and, with a quick twirl into a nearby dorm, you could easily obtain water. It was pretty easy to keep dancing pretty much continuously, resting mostly in between songs. And the music played was quite the delight – I think noting that homestarrunner was played should make that clear enough.

At our school, however, we only have around 3 dances per year. As you might imagine, this isn't very conductive to either dancing practice or enjoyment. In addition, they are typically held inside a stuffy gym, and sometimes the serving of water is neglected, which can make dancing quite difficult. Regardless, I've quite enjoyed the dances we've had here, having made copious use of the ice which is typically available. Dancing for 4 hours on end, even if a lack of air keeps nirvana at bay, is exceedingly enjoyable. I'll skirt the topic of the musical choice of the DJs and/or the organizers, except to say that I don't think I've heard a single song I own – or, for that matter, that my parents own – played at a school dance. I don't mind bad music at dances too much though – with enough sugar, I'll dance to anything.

In addition, where I live the only dance classes which are available are those of ballet – which, I believe, is a choreographed style of dance, while I'm interesting in more creative ones. No ballroom (or, for that matter, breakdancing) classes for me. The quantity of people who really dance here seems to be quite small as well; most either stay far away from the floor or don't fully get into it, merely moving repetitively, although at least these people try.

As it's been 3 or so months since the last dance (woe is me!), this account unfortunately isn't as detailed as it could be, so I'll probably revisit the topic afore too long. But, despite living in a dancing wasteland, this activity constantly floats to the top of my list of hobbies, not to mention to the top of my mind itself, and I await with baited breath the next dance I'll be able to participate in.

On a slightly different note, I was looking tonight for a symbol to represent dancing. There doesn't seem to be a very obvious one, so I've been looking for gods of dance. The two main ones I found were Shiva and Terpsichore. Terpsichore is more of an actual goddess of dance, and is also a part of Greek mythology, so she appeals to me more. Unfortunately, the only symbol she yields is that of the Lyre, which isn't too bad, but is a bit difficult to integrate into a crest. We're doing clay tiles in art and I decided to make mine into a display of my crest – I have a rather nifty design incorporating a pumpkin (happiness), a knitting needle (creativity), a sword (justice), and a closet (me), and also wanted to depict dancing in it, perhaps representing selfexpression.

Dance on; who cares if you look silly, what matters is that you're expressing and enjoying yourself. If nothing else, I guarantee you you'll earn my undying admiration. And don't say you don't know how. Just start moving any old limb to the music, and the rest will follow in time.

Posted by Trevor Savage at 9:54 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2005

geekage, thing

storage for scrumptiousness
so stupendous for sharing sweets
stunningly sorted with simple strategy
waiting on infinite shelves to be seen

del.icio.us is quite the nifty utility. In the past, when I've found a killer awesome site, I've usually either forgotten to bookmark it or thrown it into a random folder, too lazy to decide where it should really go or to create a new category for "salmon surprise recipes". And when I actually do bookmark something properly, the folder tends to get swamped with hordes of articles and forum posts that I want to read, the bookmarks to the actual killer sites getting lost in the muck.

del.icio.us solves this with it's delightful posting system. All you have to do is enter the URL, a title, some comments if you wish, and a few tags to categorize it under. No messy folders to create, no URLs to memorize, and you can still use your bookmarks for the common muck, or, if you wish, just tag the muck properly on del.icio.us.

In addition to providing a great bookmarks platform, del.icio.us is useful for it's social capabilities. If you're looking for a nifty site to read, a quick perusal of the frontpage or of a topical tag will certainly yield some glance-worthy material. It's also quite the delight to post your newly found gems, only to come back and see that other people have added them to their del.icio.us, people who you know have enjoyed your contribution. Finally, with the addition of mt-rssfeed, some tweaks to prevent mt-rssfeed from downloading anytihng more than once every hour or so, and some cron magic, del.icio.us makes a great linkblog! Just look over to your right.

In summary, del.icio.us is every bit as scrumptious as a good, chocolatey brownie. If you haven't already, check it out!

Posted by Trevor Savage at 6:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

Knitting: Scarves, Pouches, and Hats
log, yarn

Just before Thanksgiving or so, I started knitting along with a number of my fellow crewbies for the purpose of creating fundraising scarves - my contribution to the effort being happily sold afore the scarf-selling was through. Becoming hooked upon the craft, I then went on to buy a surplus of needles (tip: you don't need to buy 3 sets of needles to knit one pair of socks.) and forge ahead, needles poised. A modicum of yarn later, the clack of needles can be heard as I do battle with a 21 inch long rectangle, also known as a hat.

Prior to starting the hat, I also knitted a nifty little pouch, albeit with a good number of modifications – I ended up with a much smaller flap, and a nifty little button loop instead of a hole.

The "hat" (or is that a new breed of caterpillar?) poses next to my stylish duct tape wallet.

The hat, based on this pattern, is knit on straights, "around" one's head. I would've knitted it from the brim to the crown, but I wanted vertical stripes. I took out the increases/decreases from the pattern to eliminate the spiral, and switched to 4-row wide stripes. I'm using black and neon orange acrylic yarn, selected based on color. At first, the acrylic felt a bit oily after using Wool Ease, but that feeling soon disappeared.

At first I was cutting the yarn at each color change, but that would have resulted in 84 ends to be woven in. Looking into the nifty-nifty Vogue Knitting book, I found the simple twisting method of carrying the yarn, after trying the weaving method also found in the book. Twisting seems to work quite well, although I suppose it makes the edge a bit messy, but it's a lot better than either of the other options I've tried, and is quite easy too. I'm currently twisting the two colors at the beginning of every knit row – I'm using stockinette stitch – which seems to work alright.

I'm a bit worried about my gauge, since it seems to have varied a bit since I started. Moreover, my tension when purling is much looser than when knitting, which is a bit wonky. I'm hoping that it won't matter and so I'm just continuing on, making efforts to equalize my knitting and purling tension as I go.

At any rate, I'm about 3.5 inches from the end of this thing - I'd best hurry up and finish it before the cold disappears. After finishing the knitting I get to sew it up, add a pompom, figure out how I'm going to do the black brim I also want it to have, and start some yummilicious socks! Tube socks, that is – I don't think I'm quite ready for the complication of real socks.

Posted by Trevor Savage at 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

geekage, thing

Recently, as mentioned below, I've been trying out Firefox. After the first bout of surprise at how much better it'd gotten in the last 2 years, I got down to customizing it, fixing it up until it seemed almost perfect in appearance, or as close as I could conceive of. A few weeks of browsing later, and the pretty facing which was tied to "Firefox" in my mind had expanded into the third dimension, filled in with knowledge of the interface's workings and certainty that the web is, after all, contained within it.

So, what makes it better than Safari? First off, there's it's feature set, both by default and when expanded by extensions. The ability to search your history, to set your cache size to a large number and then use the Work Offline feature, which I had previously missed when I switched to Safari from iCab due to it's great use when someone else is using the 56k line, and to create a handy live bookmark of your del.icio.us links all make the browser quite useful.

On the topic of extensions, there are several which fill in the features which Safari has but which Firefox is lacking. SwittTabs is one of these, adding a (configurable) key command for tab switching, a feature which is quite useful, particularly when you bind the key command to your mouse, which I became addicted to in Safari. SmoothWheel also serves the purpose of filling in functionality present in Safari – the default mouse wheel scrolling in Firefox is extremely jerky, making large movements, and the default "smooth" mouse wheel scrolling isn't really very smooth. SmoothWheel, however, while not quite as smooth as Safari, makes mouse wheel scrolling quite usable. Finally, User Agent Switcher, like the user agent submenu of Safari's debug menu, allows you to sneak into those pesky websites which try to regulate browser entrance.

There are also some great extensions which add functionality not present in Safari and which I've become hooked to. ForecastFox adds the weather and forecast to the browser, and when it's placed in the lower right corner of the status bar, it's quite unobtrusive and yet easy to reach when you want it. I personally find WeatherPop and the like to be too obtrusive and yet not particularly easy to reach when you want to view them. Crash Recovery is another indispensable extension, providing instant restoring of your tabs upon Firefox's crash, and, optionally, when you quit and relaunch Firefox. No longer do you have to make constant bookmarks of your tabs for fear of loosing them! ChromEdit is also a useful extension, allowing you to easily modify your profile's .js and .css files without you having to find then and open them up in a text editor yourself.

clav.mozdev.org has some very nifty extensions as well. Stop/Reload, when combined with some additions to your userChrome.css should you use a nonstandard theme, gives you some additional room on your toolbar. Fusion gives you the yumlicious Safari-style progress bar, although it doesn't work quite as well as Apple's; occasionally it'll jump backwards. And, despite making one skeptical of the bloat of one's browser, Cards, which adds a whole bunch of solitaire games, is rather irresistible.

I've also recently become hooked on Translation Panel, which makes translations of words or phrases a snap with it's contextual menu item or side panel, and which can access 4 or so different translation services online, as well as Context Search, which works great whenever you need to look up anything on a webpage in depth.

Finally, Sage, LiveBookmarkThis, del.icio.us and Amazon.com Sidebar are all potentially useful, although I haven't gotten fully into them yet.

Perhaps the best thing about Firefox is it's constantly improving nature and it's generally great customizability. There are a small handful of things which I dislike about it, but thanks to the fact that it's being improved daily I don't have to worry too much about these things, as I know that afore too long it's likely they'll be fixed– or I can try to delve into it and fix them myself. With a mainstream commercial browser, it's more likely that my desires wouldn't even be near the todo list, and even if they were I'd likely have to wait a half a year before I could get the new features in the first place. And with it's customizability, one can also fix many bothersome things via .css files or extensions.

As far as appearance goes, Firefox has good and bad aspects, although it can certainly stand up to Safari. The themes here are excellent, particularly the "pro" ones, which feature Safari-style tabs. Personally, I find that changing the spacing to 0px for the toolbar icons makes it look much nicer, and makes the toolbar about the same size as Safari's to boot! In addition, while using the Grapple themes and ForecastFox, it's very nice to copy Grapple's pinstripe.png to your profile's chrome directory and add this line: .forecastfox-panel { background: #FFFFFF url("pinstripe.png") repeat !important; } to your userChrome.css, so that ForecastFox's background is pinstriped instead of the ugly white which it usually has. When using the Stop/Reload extension mentioned above, adding this code to your userChrome.css will make the button work with Grapple's small icons.

Also in the appearance department, Firefoxy and the widgets that it applies make it easy to switch from Firefox's oddish default icons to ones which, as others have said, don't look like fake OSX widgets but don't look ugly either. The main downside to Firefox's visuals as compared to Safari which I can find is the lack of antialiasing- some pages, thusly, look quite a good bit better in Safari than Firefox. There are also a few very minor annoyances, such as favicons tending to flash when you mouseover them.

On the down side, Firefox is missing a few of Safari's features, and some of it's components don't work as well as they might, or as they do in Safari. Most of these downsides are minor problems which make it seem a bit unmaclike – for instance, pressing the up or down arrows in a text field doesn't always move the cursor, and right clicking in the extensions window doesn't change the selection, but instead displays a menu for whatever extension is already selected. Another goodly portion of these problems have to do with general usability – tab switching is a tiny bit slower in Firefox than in Safari, just noticeable enough to be a small annoyance, and if the cursor gets into the URL bar you can't switch tabs via keys. In addition, the cache seems to reset itself when Firefox crashes (or when the power goes out...), as I discovered when trying to use the Work Offline feature.

Firefox is great; with the help of extensions, it has almost everything which Safari has, baring super speed, perfect Mac integration, and complete freedom from bugs and idiosyncrasies. In addition, it has a number of features which Safari lacks, and if you ever have need of something which isn't included, all you need to do is find or write an extension. And for a 1.0 release of an application which is in constant development, I think the flaws which it does have are quite acceptable. Although I have some remorse at having abandoned Apple's porch, Firefox has quite won me over to it's shores.

Posted by Trevor Savage at 8:07 PM | Comments (1)