You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2008.

Roald got it right, and is hereby awarded ten points!  Yes, we were off to the big island of Hawaii, and part of the trip involved a visit to the Keck Observatory at 13,796 feet above sea level.  More about that later.

Greg was invited to be part of a brainstorming conference for a new online game project, Blue Mars, along with Kim Stanley Robinson, Donna Shirley, and the game developers.  First class tickets to Hawaii from Seattle in February — what’s not to like?

Ahh  . . .

The sock is from Cat Bordhi’s book New Pathways for Sock Knitters, the Rushing Rivulet pattern, in my hand dyed Sunrise yarn. I’ve been wanting to try a full sized pair of socks from this book, and I think the lace pattern gives the impression of fluffy clouds at sunrise that I was hoping for with this yarn.

The conference was at Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Ranch, the home of Henk Rogers, one of the developers. We arrived in the dark of Saturday night, but the morning revealed
Morning wear
an exquisite setting with a view of the Kona coast. At 2,500 feet, it was a little chilly in the morning, just the time to wear the Seascape Shawl.

There was discussion of avatars, game play, backstory, world building, the usual.  There was also

Sunrise flowers

time to smell the flowers

Cherry branch

and marvel at the coming of spring.

In the late afternoon we changed into our cold weather gear and prepared for the field trip to the Keck Observatory. Undaunted by discussions of the effects of altitude sickness, a hardy crew ascended to the visitors center at 9000 feet, where we had dinner and acclimated a bit, then proceeded to the summit to catch the very last of the sunset.
Icy Sunset

We dashed inside out of the cold and took a very interesting tour of the facility.  The coolest parts weren’t really photographable, like the inside of one of the domes as it was being positioned, rotating around us while the  telescope moved to a different azimuth  position, seen in the faint light from a flashlight pointing at the floor.  But, you might enjoy this list, found in a break room:


It’s important to keep that pixie dust under control.

We also got to see some of the mirrors close-up. 

Mirror, mirror

This one is getting ready to be recoated to make it reflective again.  Each telescope (there are two Kecks) is composed of 36 hexagonal mirrors, each of which is about 6 feet across, and weighs almost 2 tons. Over time, the very thin, perfect coating of reflective aluminum degrades, and has to be reapplied.


This mirror is recoated (it takes about one Coke can’s worth of aluminum) and Henk is getting a picture of himself in it. The recoated mirrors are so delicate and valuable (we’re talking millions) that only one visitor was allowed that close!

Afterwards, we headed for the cars (Keck-owned Suburbans) with a detour to walk around the outside of the dome to see the sighting laser beam shooting up sixty miles into the sky; pitch black night, lavishly scattered with stars, the vault of the Milky Way arching overhead.  Well worth standing out in 19 degrees F. with 20 knot winds — for a little while.

The next day had more discussions, and an afternoon free for silly drinks and snorkeling at a fancy hotel. The final day revealed

Sock and friends

good sock progress, and Stan and Greg being good sports about the whole knit blogger/sock thing.  The drive down to the coast yielded opportunities for more wool

Have you any?

but the lure of lunch and more snorkeling won out.

By the way, Hawaii is not without its mysteries.

A stately Lava dome decree

This lava dome seems to have a circular door on its side — a hobbit hole or a Hatch entrance?

Lunch at Fujimama’s with conference participants Kim Binsted and Sarah Rose, and snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach Park with the Robinsons, followed by dinner at Jameson’s with Stan providing color commentary on the performances of the boogie boarders in the surf  brought our trip to a beautiful close.
Surf’s up!

Aloha, Hawaii!

Packing for another short trip.

Tropical casual wear
Traveling sock to knit
Snacks, magazines, tickets, ID, credit cards, cash

And then:
Hiking boots
Polar fleece layers to go from head to toe
Hat and warm gloves

10 points if you can figure out where we’re off to! Hint: the tropical parts and the really cold parts are about about 20 miles apart, as the crow flies. With luck, I’ll have some fabulous pictures on Wednesday.

Among the many excitements associated with having teen-age children, perhaps the biggest is the vast world of activities that is the College Planning Process.  The SAT tests are big players in this, there are prep classes, books, test-taking strategies . . . it can be all-consuming, if you let it. With the permeation of the Internet into most aspects of life, it is not surprising that the College Board, creators and administrators of the SATs are, shall we say, down with it and Internet-savvy. One result of this is that I receive my daily “Official SAT Question of the Day” email — not that I am preparing for the SAT, but it’s a nice brain teaser every morning.  Most of them are English questions, and almost all of them I get right.  I’m very good at ferretting out subject/verb non-agreement, awkward transitions, incomplete sentences, etc.  The math questions, not so much.  A lot of those I just ignore, but some catch my eye, and even have the appearance of solvability.  Today, for example,

The Official SAT Question of the Day™
  Thursday, February 21
Read the following SAT test question, then click on a button to select your answer. (This would work if you were looking at the original email.  You are not.)

To make an orange dye, 3 parts of red dye are mixed with 2 parts of yellow dye. To make a green dye, 2 parts of blue dye are mixed with 1 part of yellow dye. If equal amounts of green and orange are mixed, what is the proportion of yellow dye in the new mixture?

A. 3/16
B. 1/4
C. 11/30
D. 3/8
E. 7/12

I really should be able to get this, right?  Not that I’m so big about the whole measuring dye thing, my color notebook is little scraps of paper that say things like, “2t. gold in water, stir, then 2 t. brown in water, stir.”

So I duly figured out the proportions of each mixture, converted to a common denominator, added the fractions together . . . and it wasn’t one of the choices. I looked at the fractions again, considered what the answer should be, roughly, and clicked on what made the most sense.  Bingo!  The College Board classifies this question as hard.  I feel good.

Bonnie’s socks being finished, washed, blocked, and praised at the Seaview meeting, there was nothing left to do but deliver them.

Here they are settling into place on Bonnie’s feet
Socks kick up their heels

and here is Bonnie, modeling them in her kitchen — she likes them!  In fact, she loves them.

These socks are made for wearing

Note all the lovely handwoven hand towels piled up on the right.  This woman is a serious hand towel collector.

Spending time with Bonnie always involves stretching the mind and doing some color work. 

So many colors

I got to choose just which shade of red is red to me to make my personal color wheel for the Gamp for All Seasons Horoscope Weaving that Bonnie prepared the calculations for.  Dare I say that I have a goal of getting this weaving done by the end of the year?  I have to get back up to speed on the loom first, and have a couple of small projects in mind.  Watch this space.

And speaking of weaving, click over to see the first issue of WeaveZine, Syne Mitchell’s latest online venture. Not content with having the world’s first weaving podcast, WeaveCast,  she’s also created the world’s first online weaving magazine. The woman is unstoppable!

Bonnie’s sock didn’t contribute the discussions at the caucus, because it was sadly uninformed about the issues on the table.  But if anyone had brought up needle neutrality, toe-up vs. top-down, or Merino vs. BFL, it would totally have been there.