Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some Knitting--Finally!

No, this is not a knitted keyboard cover--it is the beginning of what I hope is a very masculine baby blanket in navy tweed yarn. Because of the angle at which I shot the picture, you cannot see much of the basketweave pattern, but it is there. This is for a baby boy, who will be child number four with three big sisters! I thought it was important that he have a "guy" blanket.
I have also finished a sock, almost. It is still on the needles because the toe is not kitchenered because someone tried to help me organize and now I can't find my tapestry needles. That is on my agenda for this week, I hope. I am also still knitting on a Wonderful Wallaby.
The truth is, though, that I have done very little knitting in the past few weeks. When plain knitting around and around on a circular needle is too challenging, I know I am sick. This has been an unusually rain-filled summer by Texas Panhandle standards, which those of you in the rest of the world would find laughable. That means that every weed in our arid environment is having a pollen party. I have had a terrible allergy attack, not the life-threatening kind, but the thoroughly miserable kind. I am coughing, I have headaches, and I lie down at night for awhile and then get up and sit in the recliner for awhile and then reverse the procedure in order to keep everything moving. My poor husband has been most kind. So, in two weeks I have accomplished nothing much besides breathing and playing some mindless computer games because sitting in the office chair is sometimes more comfy than the recliner. I am behind on laundry, on trash, on dishwashing, on bookkeeping, and on knitting. At least I retired so that I didn't have to start to school this week! I am, however, showing signs of being on the mend, at least for a few hours at a time, so I am returning to knitting. I am also reminding myself that my situation is truly fortunate when so many people are really ill.
I have not been entirely idle, however. If you check my Shelfari list, you will see that I have been perpetually listening to audiobooks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Point of View

Isn't it funny how your personal interests affect what you pay attention to when listening or watching? You know how when you are car shopping for a particular model, you seem to see nothing else around you? I sometimes have those experiences about fiber-related things. For example, over the 4th of July weekend, we were watching a series of programs about battles during the American Revolution. The theme music was a song called "Johnny's Gone for a Soldier," an old folk song. The refrain contained the lines, "I'll sell my flax, I'll sell my wheel," clearly a reference to a spinning wheel. Today while driving I was listening to Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts. I may not have heard the entire book, because it was described as "unabridged excerpts." Not being from one of the former colonies, some of the fine details about the Revolutionary War and its effect upon the citizenry are a often a little vague to me. For example, I never considered that when the colonists boycotted tea and other British imports, such as cloth, that meant that the women of New England in particular had to take up spinning again in order to manufacture cloth. There were evidently group spinning events. Do you suppose this in any way inspired Ghandi many years later? There was evidently a shortage of knitting needles as well. Martha Washington herself was evidently organizing some cloth production during winters spent with the army.

I found this audiobook, which I got with my card from the Philadelphia Free Library, to be an interesting and inspiring lesson about women's role in history. My only wish is that I had been in a position to turn the audio off after each character in order to reflect upon just that person's contribution a little more seriously. I may see if there is a version for my Kindle and do just that.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Progress, but Still No Pics

First of all, I managed to get my computer stuff moved back to my original office this week. It is absolutely wonderful. No television on next to me with something I don't want to watch or listen to. Room to have documents or a book at hand without having to do actobatic tricks. And, most importantly, the monitors at the correct focal lengths for my trifocals. I was thinking that I needed new glasses. Now I am fine.

I have also been taking time to enjoy my Kindle2. I like it so much that I'm sticking with it and not changing to the new model.

Knitting--too hot for the sweater. Sock 1 has progressed past the gusset decreases, and I'm merrily knitting away on the foot. Perhaps this afternoon I will have a quiet time with Pillars of the Earth on the Roku and a chance to knit awhile. This morning, however, I'm starting in on kitchen cleanup, not just the normal kind, but the leftovers from the computer switch AND the normal kind. It will be a pleasure.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Dear Mr. CEO,

My husband and I were the owners of a rather small savings CD with your very large bank. We did not bank with you originally, but you bought the bank we had this deposit in. About a month ago, I received an evening telephone call reminding me that this deposit was coming up for a renewal date and since I was a valued customer, you were offering me the opportunity to renew for a longer period at a special rate. You know, because my measly amount was so important to you, you offered me an interest rate that was only half of the going rate anywhere else around, and you were requiring a longer term for it! When I told the gentleman on the telephone that I was not interested, he became so insistent that I hung up the telephone. Technically, what you were doing is probably not an illegal practice, but deliberately trying to deceive customers in this way is, to my way of thinking, at least unethical.

Yesterday, I drove 70 miles to one of your branches to get the money out of your bank when it came due. I would like to describe my experience for you.

Have you seen the television commercials about the real people who go into the fake bank and are asked all sorts of personal questions? That was the situation I faced when I tried to withdraw my money.

I was directed from the teller station to a person in an office who proceeded to tell me first of all that the account was inactive, which it wasn't, unless the fact that the interest paid on the weekend and it was already Monday made it inactive. That gave her the excuse to inquire into my personal life in order to activate the account. Certainly, I expected to have to provide an account number and identification to get my money. I should not have had to answer other personal questions, including what I planned to do with the money. That is no one's business but mine. I politely dodged that question. Upon reflection, I should not have been polite.

I supplied my driver's license when asked. I opened my wallet and pulled on the little tape tab that I have on my license so that I can pull it out of the pocket more easily and handed it to the official. She proceeded to tell me that I shouldn't use the tab because it might leave gum on the license and it was hard to see. I should use a sticky note. Of course, you need one of the little sticky notes. After rummaging around, she decided she did not have a little sticky note, but she had a big one. Then she pulled her desk drawer out all the way and hunted for scissors. Finding that she didn't have any, she came up with a letter opener, which she used to saw the big sticky note into a rather ragged small sticky note. Then she pressed it to the back of my license, where it covered part of the magnetic strip. She also suggested that I tape it down so that it would be more secure. If I were going to put tape on the license anyway, why did I need the sticky note? And, what, pray tell, did this have to do with withdrawing my money?

Next, the computer program that she was entering my information into kicked up a credit card offer that she could not be persuaded that I didn't want. In spite of my telling her repeatedly that I did not want another credit card, she itemized how your card would be better than the cards she saw in my wallet when I removed the license. She wanted to know what banks issued the cards I was carrying. She pointed out that your card had an excellent interest rate. She said that I needed a card from a national bank if I were going to travel. (By the way, she needs to learn what a national bank is and what a state bank is.) She recommended that I get your card and take the cash rebate to travel because anyone can get online and find better airfares and your blackout dates for frequent flyer miles were a problem. I kept repeating that I didn't want a card until she finally gave up, although she did tuck a business card in when I left so that I could call her back for the card offer.

Now she moved back to trying to get my money out of your system. She apologized that she was having trouble with that because she doesn't get much practice since so few people take money out because it is just such an excellent place to have your money. Meanwhile, I learned about the misting system she and her honey had installed for their big furry dogs who were having trouble with the Texas heat. Unfortunately, I missed seeing "Honey," who was supposed to show up at any time with a new Jeep for her because she made him take back the Town Car he had bought her because she doesn't drive carefully enough to drive something close to the ground. Finally, she disappeared for awhile and then she printed out something and asked me to step back out to the teller windows.

After moving to teller number two, and getting a supervisor to come out and say it was ok for me to withdraw my money, the teller's system locked down because the code was not correct. Frantic hunt for someone who knew how to unlock it. Success! A cashier's check, and I could even have an envelope if I wanted it!

Contrast this with my experience earlier in the day. I stopped at my local STATE bank for 3 small cashiers checks that I needed to transact some out of town business. The teller who helped me is not a native English speaker and obviously still has a little trouble with pronunciation, but she knew her job. I did not have to find someone in an obscure office. No one asked me for personal info that was none of their business. No one tried to organize my wallet. No one tried to press me to take a credit card or offered me a below-market interest rate, implying that they were doing me a big favor by doing so. I was in and out in five minutes.

I notice that your bank is one of the ones coming in for criticism for not correcting some problems that you said you would correct when you got the bailout money. I am not surprised. I guarantee that I will never bank with you again, and I will discourage anyone else from doing so. I think you are not only inefficient but treading just barely on the legal side of the line from being unethical in your practices.

A Very Dissatisfied Customer

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Totally Random--No Pictures

I haven't posted in a while because life has been too disconnected to write about. Here's what's been going on--

  • DS and his family are moving to a nearby city because he has a new job. They have been househunting, his wife has been jobhunting, and I have been providing moral support and occasional babysitting. I hate to see them leave here because I will miss them, but they will not be far away, and they will be in the same city as his sister and her family, so that will be convenient for Grandma visits!
  • I decided my efforts to organize my life as a retiree weren't working with the "little bit here, little bit there approach." There was so much to do that any efforts on that basis weren't even noticeable. Therefore, I decided to really work on one area, so I have been moving my home office back to its former location, both to set up for plans that I have for later on and to get it out of the kitchen, where it had drifted over the last few years. It was causing a mess in there, and was totally inefficient. I am almost finished. I have to dispose of the outdated equipment tomorrow when I can drop it off for recycyling, and then I can move the current newer equipment into that space on Tuesday. This has been a slow process involving much sorting of paperwork, setting up new files, and filing.
  • I have been knitting. I'm going round and round on the body of a Wonderful Wallaby, and I am knitting a pair of socks that is giving me fits. The lace pattern on the socks is very easy, so easy that I think I have it memorized and then realize I've done it wrong--very frustrating. On the other hand, I like the way the socks are turning out!
  • I have been reading more. If you look at my Shelfari shelf in the sidebar. you will see that I have been reading kindle books and listening to audio while cleaning.