Remember kids- When doing any calculations for traveling through time and space- if you have the time (you are traveling through time, so you always have the time) check your work. ALWAYS check your work- it’s really important!
Over Thanksgiving I purchased this absolutely beautiful tatted reticule at a small shop in Asheville, North Carolina. We were strolling along some streets we’d not visited before and this small bag in the Honeypot display window just jumped out at me.
The store is quite quirky and carries both vintage clothing and accessories and items from local designers. After rescuing this bag from the shop window, we spent some time exploring what else they had – unfortunately there were no other needlework related items but I’ll certainly make a return trip on our next visit to Asheville!
Those of us who do needlework often say that our hard work will someday end up at Goodwill or in a shop like this. When I see something this pretty it’s nice to be able to ‘rescue’ it to add it to my small collection of needlework treasures! Not only are the items beautiful and represent a lot of time and effort, they encourage learning more about different types of needlework.
This bag is about 6.5 x 8.5 inches, lined with plum-colored fabric which I’m pretty sure is acrylic. I should do a burn test on some of the frayed fibers at some point to confirm this. The tatting seems superior in quality to the hand sewing on the lining. Might the piece have been re-lined at some point? The drawstrings are a dark navy cording which came directly from a fabric store.
I’ve never learned to tat, nor do I know much about the art form besides that there are two different primary methods – shuttle and needle – but I do know a lot of work went in to this piece! Tatting is often an edging or a small motif appliquéd onto an item. This is over 100 square inches of work! Wow!
There are two other pieces of tatting in my little collection – both edgings. The first is a sweet little handkerchief with a tatted border. When I think of tatting, this is exactly what I think of.
The other I actually didn’t realize I had at first. At the Embroiderers’ Guild Merchandise Night this year I bought a bag of odds and ends of lace (for a ridiculously low price) to use as embellishments on various needlework items. When showing my haul to some friends, we discovered this piece of tatted edging!
Putting all three together gives an idea of the ambitious size of the bag.
In doing some research about tatting I may have also solved another mystery! A while ago I purchased this vintage sewing kit on Etsy.
It was constructed in Glasgow and contains a nice array of tools that a needlewoman would need. The only item that stumped me was the bone ring with a chain in the upper half of the photo. None of the stitchers or knitters I’ve shown the kit to have been able to enlighten me – well, possibly that’s because none of us learned to tat in the 1800s!
According to the very informative article Civil War Tatting by Virginia Mescher early tatting shuttles did not have pointed ends so, “Tatting pins, sometimes called purling pins, were usually mentioned in period publications and were apparently the invention of Mlle. Reigo. They were used to either form the picots or join the picots to one another and were made in four sizes, with No. 4 being the largest. The pin assembly included a ring of bone or brass, which was attached to a chain about three inches long, worn on the thumb of the left hand, with a small crochet-like hook or long, blunt tipped needle attached to the end of the chain.”
I found this drawing of a tatting pin and put it side by side with my mystery item:
Ta Da! My mystery item could very well be the ring and chain from a missing tatting pin!
Every time I think I know a lot about hand work I find I still have so much to learn. For instance, I have no idea if my items were made with shuttle tatting or needle tatting, or even how one tells the difference.
It’s been fun doing some initial research on my latest acquisition and wonder what my next rescued treasure will be!
While many people enjoyed the Episode “The Day of the Doctor” on Saturday, having decided to take what I was paying for cable TV and increase my internet speed I was without BBC America and a DVR so I patiently waited. I appreciate my friends who kept their Doctor Who posts to a minimum or at least removed me from those posts. *Spoilers* you know. I have purchased the 5Oth Anniversary Collection on iTunes but had bought tickets to see the episode in 3-D at a local theater. Yes, the same theater I saw “Into the Darkness” and they had some of the same technical glitches before they started the show. That said there are a few things I would want to add before trying to unknot a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.
First if you haven’t there are a couple videos floating around that you should take some time to watch. The first is a wonderful little parody in which the previous incarnations of the Doctor try to get into the production…
It is rather amusing with lots of in jokes…
The other video is a prequel which explains what happened to the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) and how John Hurt got mixed up in the whole thing.
This was a great way to explain what was going on in the time war an how it impacted the universe.
So the theater experience was great, a theater filled with Whovians all excited to see what was going to happen. They had two screens, one 3-d , one not. I still have no idea what the big deal is with 3-D, but that’s me.
Lights go down there’s a few yells about how there is no picture, but sound… that get’s all straightened out and the audience is ready for the typical, “silence your cell phones” stuff and instead we get Strax. Strax goes on to explain appropriate ettiquette and what will happen to you if you don’t in his own Sontaran way – the best part was as he describes the joy he has at the custom of eating popcorn – “remember popcorn can feel pain.” It got everyone in the mood. The screen goes white and Matt Smith appears welcoming us to the 100th anniversary in 12-D. David Tennant takes his place for a moment and then the 3-D is turned on the the story begins.
I’l just say you need to see it. While I will mention things that happened I’m not going to go plot point to plot point. If you’ve seen it you’ll understand if you haven’t… it will give away some stuff or confuse the daylights out of you. This is mostly for me to ask some questions that have been bouncing around in my head since coming home. Let’s start with what I was expecting-
At the end of the last season on Trenzalore they were battling the Great Intelligence and jumped into the Doctor’s time stream. This was what I was expecting. I was expecting the great battle through the various incarnations to save the universe and the Doctor. I figured that it would start a grand adventure… I’m not thinking that all that running and saving happened in the quick bits during the end of the episode. That the Great Intelligence was defeated off camera. Leaving us with only the mysterious Doctor played by John Hurt. It was like the whole danger played up about going into your own time stream wasn’t and how the doctor got out just happened – off camera. So first point of confusion- nothing to do with the actual “Day of the Doctor.”
The quandary about the fez- OK so we have the fez flying around in the time stream (because fezzes ARE cool). We see the fez being picked up by Matt Smith and thrown into the time stream at the National Gallery from the collection of Elizabeth I. It lands in England with David Tennant and Elizabeth I. Where it gets thrown to through the time stream to John Hurt, and makes it’s way back to Elizabeth… where’d the fez come from? Elizabeth put the fez in safekeeping in the National Gallery, after it had been thrown from the National Gallery where it had been stored for hundreds of years by Elizabeth I… Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey.
That was a minor spoiler… Now to the end. Did I miss something? Matt Smith is now going to find Gallifrey- huzzah! Didn’t David Tennant stop Gallifrey from taking the Earth’s location in his last episode (the one with the Master and Timothy Dalton- The End of Time)? So didn’t David Tennant already know that Gallifrey was in a pocket universe not bothering anyone since he sent it back to save the Earth? He may not have known HOW it got there, but he knew it was around… I guess I have some episodes to watch again.
These are the two little questions I have right now… I’m sure as thoughts bounce around in my head I will have more. All in all a great episode, lots of wonderful things going on and surprises. I’m looking forward to figuring out what is going to happen in December.
Please note that there probably are spoilers in the following and this is my recollection of the film Ender’s Game that I saw last night, way past my bedtime, so I may not recall everything is extreme detail.
Last night I joined some friends to see “Ender’s Game” I’m not going to go into anything dealing with the author of the original story’s rabid political rantings- I don’t agree with anything he has to say on those points, I really don’t want to discuss the person, I’d much rather go into the movie and the book Ender’s Game. As for Ender’s Game it is a story I picked up in 1989 after listening to the author speak coherently about literature and pop culture. Over the years I picked up a few other books by this author, but none of them really hit me like Ender’s Game. I even had gone back and found the published copy of the original award winning novella just to see the original format of the story. So for year’s I have been a fan of this story- which when seeing a modern film version of a story written around 30 years ago can be a bad thing… a very bad thing.
Some basics – the Earth has been invaded by the “buggers” they were fought off and now to prepare for the second invasion children are tested (Oh the horror of futuristic standardized testing) to see if they have military aptitude. Those “lucky few” are sent off to Battle School in orbit to learn the art of war. After initial training students are placed into armies lead by other students and compete in zero-g battles to put their leadership and tactical skills to the test. Those that succeed graduate. Ender Wiggin is sent up because he has a high midichlorian count and may be “the one.” He goes through various trials in order to test him and finally… well you know the hero’s journey. Originally a Hugo & Nebula award winning novella- the author turned it into a series of novels, and then another series of novels telling the story from different character’s points of view. Then he turned it into a comic series and started writing some of the missing parts and history… I’m not even sure how many books are in the series now.
I know many people who swore they wouldn’t see any of the Harry Potter films because it would ruin the picture they had in their mind of the setting and the characters. I found myself wandering around London on my first trip looking for the actual locations mentioned in the book so I could visualize it better. (Note that some places used in the Harry Potter films are not the actual locations sited in the book- just sayin’) So when it comes to Ender’s Game I read it when I first started teaching kids who happen to be around the age of Ender in the book. Ender (in the book) was always considered small and youngish. He stood out from the crowd in this way- or at least that’s the way I imagined him. The film does not portray him as such. I could nitpick through the film, but for me this was one of the major points that threw me- these are supposed to be children and while they were younger and were “children”, they were older than I had ever imagined. Tweens or even teens… is that the audience they are pushing for? While watching the film I kept waiting for Petra and Ender to have some childish romantic moment- something that never came to mind when reading the book.
The film itself seemed rushed- It was like they couldn’t understand that Ender was in Battle School for not just 30 days. He dealt with a bunch of commanders before being given his own army. (The novella starts with Ender training his army after first being given command, the character Bean is introduced there. The movie has Bean as his first friend on the transport to Battle School. Now I’ll admit Bean was an important character (important enough to have his own book or two), but in the book he was the one Ender picked on initially, he was the one Ender trusted in the end because (pardon the pun) they were two peas in pod. He suddenly appears in the the transport Ender is on?!? no no no no… this kills Bean’s backstory. Don’t even get me started on Ender’s first nemesis – Bernard. He was a minor character, he was a bully who Ender embarrassed and really wasn’t important after that. Having him become one of Ender’s chosen few? Bringing him to help Ender at the end? no no no no… I barely got to know, let alone care, about any of the characters before the film was over. and while many of them were important to Ender at some point in the book, with the exception of Petra, many of the characters considered Ender’s trusted few, were difficult to figure out how they formed such a tight bond with him.
So much of the book took place in Ender’s head (like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) that it is difficult to know the title character, therefore love the title character in the film. It also seemed like they tried to take some parts from the novel to “humanize Ender” but dropped an entire other plot line that demonstrated the brilliance of Ender’s siblings. Then again those plot points (let alone Ender’s siblings) don’t show up in the original story. The whole surprise ending really didn’t seem like that much of a surprise (but then again- I read the book), but then again maybe it was because this was the point of using special effects, where in the book they were dealing with 1980′s vector graphics.
I know I seem to be focusing on the issues I have with a beloved book being put onto the silver screen, as for positives- it was well acted, the special effects were glorious if you like explosions and spaceships. I just can’t say much about the story because I’m obviously too close to it. So as for the story, I recommend you not spend the large sum to see it in the theater ($12 for a movie ticket? Really?!?!) but go to a used bookstore or your local library and pick up a copy. If you absolutely want to see the film version because you are illiterate, or something like that- wait to see it on DVD or Netflix. I know if I decide to have a second viewing it will be when I don’t have to buy a ticket.
Ender’s Game is on a short list of books that I reread (& reread) when I need to escape kind of like putting on a comfy sweater. They are-
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Dream Park by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Another Fine Myth by Robert Aspirin
Harry Potter & Philosopher’s Stone By J.K. Rowling
The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas Disch
I’m sure there will be others and I might have missed a few- since I didn’t even list any comics.
As I may have commented over the summer (you know- those long summer breaks where teachers sit around on their yachts lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills they get from the taxpayers) I helped out at a Robotics Camp being put on by my local High School’s robotics team. I did this mostly because while I enjoy Technology, I am a consumer of tech, not a producer. I buy the cool stuff and use it, but ask me about the actual technical side of things and I have learned to be a great bluffer doing a lot of smiling and nodding. I wanted to learn something about how the tech works. What I don’t know makes me almost as dangerous as what I do know.
A the end of the camp one of the mentors mentioned that there was a robotics competition in Bloomington that I should look into. It seems the Bloomington Robotics Club sponsors this competition to promote robotics throughout the state. One way they do this is by providing grants to groups looking to start their own robotics program. I thought this would be a great opportunity for my kids (No, I don’t have kids, but all the kids at my school are “my kids”- you probably wouldn’t understand, it’s a teacher thing). So I put on my calendar the date when the application went live and applied hoping I would hear something quickly and put together a team in time to join the competition. Well, over Fall Break (while waiting for my valet to find the right pair of silk paisley socks) I received an email that a robotics kit had been ordered and shipped… this was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t heard anything back so I didn’t sign up of the competition! (Since my administrative assistant was on vacation) I contacted the club to find out what was going on, and my concern that when school got back into session I would just have 9 days to put together a team, teach the kids to build a functioning robot and program it… On Tuesday I pulled together three 6th graders who had attended the Summer Robotics camp, so they had background in the VEX Robotics platform we were using, and in three days we now have a fully functional robot! As “Coach” I used many sports metaphors to inspire them (“Tighten that screw for the Gipper” and stuff like that), and I ran around looking for a replacement “shaft collar” when the one that came in the kit wouldn’t tighten no matter how many metaphors I tried. I also suggested that we should at least have a proven design to start, so they should just follow the directions in the kit. Now the team has the week to consider any redesign of the initial kit, to practice “driving,” and to see if we can do anything with programming to have the robot actually do something autonomously.
So what is making me happy? Not only was I able to see three kids really excited about what a practical application of knowledge and nothing to do with some standardized test, but I was also able to see a few kids wondering how they could get involved. As a geek and an introvert being able to create a place where kids can “let their geek flag fly” is important to me. So many times kids who were like me don’t understand that while they are “a unique and special snowflake” they are not alone, that other people out there share in their interests and are “weird like me.” These three kids compete on November 2nd, I’ve told them I am happy that we have a functioning robot and we can compete. Everything else is icing on the cake. Once we finish this tournament, the goal is going to be to improve our skills, and include more kids and different projects, I just hope that they can help I guy like me, who dropped out of programming in College, to understand all this stuff. Is a PicoBoard really something you serve Raspberry Pi on?
I’ll post an update (with video) next week after the dust has settled.
So as Fall Break comes to a close I thought I’d at least share a bit about the adventures I had this past week. For those who don’t know about Fall Break in the midwest (or at least in Indiana) there has been a short break in October for as long as I have been teaching. It started off as a time for teachers to attend workshops and conferences, but slowly (because teachers have families- and therefore need to find daycare for their kiddos) it ended up being a four day weekend, until recently. Over the past few years many people woke up to the understanding that they no longer work on a farm the idea of “balancing” the school calendar had come into vogue. Ideally the calendar would be something like 9 weeks of teaching, then a break. I did my undergraduate thesis and graduate thesis on the advantages of a “year round” calendar and it finally might become reality. Sadly opponents claim this would destroy the time honored tradition of complaining that teachers get “summers off” it could also ruin the even more sacred high school athletics schedule. So many school districts have come up with a compromise, quietly extend some of the already community approved breaks and shorten Summer “vacation” a bit. This is why many people look at me like I have three heads when I talk about going back to school in early August. So this year my school district extended Fall Break to one week (many school districts have extended it to two weeks). We also have a week at Thanksgiving since attendance during that week is awful as so many people pull their kids out to travel over the river and through the woods.
What did I do this week? If you noticed an actual comic strip was published on both Tuesday and Thursday, a tradition I hope to continue. I also tried to relax… no really. I went to a game night on Friday, attended the Kokomo-Con on Saturday, and spent a lot of the week reminding myself why I hate doing artwork for other people, even friends.
Geek-wise I played Boss Monster, Ticket to Ride and Pandemic and had a great time with each. For those who have never played any of these a quick overview of each:
Boss Monster – A chance to play the evil villain in one of those old scrolling video adventure games. You construct a dungeon, room by room, and at the end of each turn you lure heroes to their doom (you hope). It was a Kickstarter project and the gameplay is pretty easy to understand. I have a few questions on the actual sequence of some things, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out if I play it more. – I lost, this time around
Ticket to Ride - Where have you been living? a cave?!? Sorry, Ticket to Ride is a train game in which you attempt to complete routes across the country (there are many versions of this game dealing with many continents the base game is mostly the U.S> with a few side trip into Canada.) It has been around for a few years and is a lot of fun to play, especially with more than two people, when it can get challenging, and a little cut throat. I won! trouncing my opponents with a route from Miami to Los Angeles and Houston to Winnipeg worth lots of points!
Pandemic - I don’t feel so good… Pandemic is one of those games in which it is the players vs. the game. A “cooperative” game. Which is a really cool idea. In this case you are trying to stop the human race from dying off from four different diseases. Each player has a role and therefore special abilities. The problem with many cooperative games is all it takes is one simple mistake, or a bad draw and it’s over…and yes, it was over, we lost. For kids Forbidden Island has a similar game mechanic and is a little easier to grasp. in that case an island is sinking and you are trying to rescue four artifacts and escape before it plunges into the depths forever.
I’ve been to many a comic-con- I started with Creation Conventions, then WizardWorlds, C2E2, New York Comic Con, and San Diego… and now I can say I’ve been to Kokomo-Con. Kokomo-Con does not compare with any of the other conventions I have been to, but that’s not a bad thing. It has a homey feel about that only a small convention can have. It was small, and it reminded me almost of pop culture flea market, but again not in a bad way. It was a lot of fun and I decided to go for a few reasons. First my friend Jim McClain who does Solution Squad a great comic to engage older kids in Math was going to be there and I had run out of books (silly kids & teachers “borrowing” them) and he had a new poster dealing with the four steps of problem solving which I wanted to get for the schools I work in. Then another friend of mine (from Geocaching and Lego) had posted he was going to attend, so we hung out for a bit looking at all the different things at the show. From rare collectible toys, to a fiberglass replica of the Bat-mobile. Booths stocked with comics & toys and folk art made from comics and toys. I did discover some cool things so it wasn’t at all a waste of my time. Then again, as a teacher, a lot of what I found was stuff that would be great for school. One thing I did pick up was a copy of Boss Monster, I know I’ll have a chance to play it again.
I started off the week with a long list of stuff, and after the first day decided to dump it all and do some drawing. So I spent most of the week doodling and inking (hence two comic strips getting posted). This reminded me how much I love to draw and just play with images. It reminded me why I can never do artwork for someone. You see MINI Takes The States is coming up next summer and I was playing around with the idea of creating “badges” for some of my friends who would be going. Making them official “Cecil MINIons” I did some artwork for MINI on the Mack and thought it would be fun to extend it. Unfortunately I forgot how difficult it can be to draw for someone, and not just for myself. I asked my friends to give their “MINIon Number” and I would create a badge for that. Now some of these folks I have known for years, and other are fairly new so what they got may be determined by how much time I had spent with them, or the geekiness of their MINIon number. So the person who asked for #42 was pretty easy, a monkey with a towel holding a yellow fish, others, not so much. Stupid me started with the ones I wanted to do, the fun ones. Then like any proud parent I posted them for the group to see… then the floodgates opened with requests- which drained the fun right out of the project. Then my friends started asking for tweaks to the drawing I had done, “Could you add this?” “Could you change that?” “I really want this instead.” Then they started to make requests for their friends… I have stopped working on this project for the time being. I will return to it, but not right now. I do appreciate the person who specifically asked how much I was charging for these badges, and seemed a little shocked when I said “nothing, I’m doing this for fun- it keeps me out of a straight jacket.” I know that many of my friends would help me in a heartbeat if I needed it, so it’s not like the favor will not be returned, but for now, I’m taking a break.
Besides that I worked a little on a Lego Project- taking the “Just like Beggar’s Canyon Back Home” to the next level, and seeing how I can add some kind of motion to it. I’m about 1400 bricks into my first draft so we shall see how it turns out. Fortunately I have until March to get it done.
All in all not a bad break, kept away from schoolwork unless it connected with something I was already doing, now I just have to figure out how I’m going to get up tomorrow in time to make it to school…