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Archive for the ‘Biased Liberally’ Category

I hope you are all enjoying your Thursday, whether or not you celebrate July 4th. For those of us who do, it’s a day that’s larger than life, with an idealistic focus on patriotism, often viewed through a filter of nostalgia for things that might or might not have ever existed.

My own view of this country has lost its soft focus, as I see how large sections of our society – once purported to be the model of freedom in the world – are embracing blind corporatism and racism and sexism and nationalism and extremism. I’m dismayed and confounded when I see how many people support the very -isms that will enable their destruction… and that of their children and grandchildren.

Examples of the ideals that I wish our country actually stood for – freedom, fraternity, prosperity for all – are depressingly difficult to find. When I find them, I embrace them and share them with my friends and loved ones, to give us all hope. And while this has led to accusations that I am relentlessly cheerful, it’s not because of the path I see our country accelerating down. It’s because I choose to be happy despite it all and because I reject fear as a basis for my life.

My granddaughter (a,k.a. la petite princesse) is one of the sources of happiness and hop in my life. This was two weeks ago, and she's almost 3 1/2 years old.

My granddaughter (a,k.a. la petite princesse) is one of the sources of happiness and hope in my life. This was two weeks ago; she’s almost 3 1/2 years old.

Look, I’m a working-class, white, college-educated middle-aged woman who is living paycheck to paycheck in a job that hasn’t raised its base pay in more than 6 years. I am the sole support for my family of three, driving a POS van (because I don’t want to work yet more OT to be able to afford a car payment) and hoping a major illness or injury doesn’t keep me home from work (because I can’t afford to drop down to the base-pay rate of my accumulated sick leave while I recuperate).

I know I’m lucky in so many ways and my life could be so much worse, and my heart breaks for those who truly have it worse. If I were living in a developing country, if I were not white, if I had no education, if I and my children were younger, if I were not employed or if my job didn’t have sick-leave benefits, I’d be in much more dire straits. After all, my problems are first-world problems, and a great many people would trade places with me in less than a heartbeat.

That said, I want so much more for my country, for my family, for humankind.

I want us to embrace one another as equal human beings.

I want us to look out for one another, to really care about one another.

I want us to be healthy and fed and educated and employed.

I want us to have enough physical and societal security that we can turn our energies to enriching our minds and spirits.

I want us to be a nation of thinkers and artists and loving souls.

And I want us all to want these things for the entire world, so that the whole of humanity can leave behind fear and hatred.

So happy July 4th, everyone. And thanks for joining me in my yearning for the ideal, no matter where you live.

As for me, I’m headed to sleep, then tonight I’ll work a little of the aforementioned OT and hope that the 911 lines don’t have reasons to light up like the fireworks some of you will be watching.

Good night, kittens!

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Let there be hats!

First, the hat I designed (or “unvented,” as Elizabeth Zimmerman used to say) to go along with the Not-a-Peapod sweater:

Disregard the red peeking between stitches at the top of the hat. It’s a ball of red yarn I stuffed inside the thing to round it out for the photo.

The two pieces are definitely not matchy-matchy, but I think they go well together.

(The “pattern” is on the FO’s page. I’m calling it the Blue Cabled Baby Hat, for obvious reasons.)

I made the set for my friends Alexis and James (and I gave it to James at work last night) for their first baby, an adorable two-month-old boy named Jaxon. That’s the same Jaxon who received one of the unpierced boobie hats I made this summer. And Alexis (finally) got me a photo of him wearing it. Check it out:

A beautiful baby in beautiful lighting…

I’m hoping she’ll post or send me a photo of Jaxon in the new set in the next couple of days. After all, with nighttime temps dropping into the 30s and 40s this week, she won’t need to wait long for a chance to use it!

And the hat is bit and stretchy enough for use throughout the winter here. (In our part of Florida, winter ends in late February… sometimes earlier.)

Next up: a baby girl’s cardi for my friend Daysha’s littlest one.

On a non-knitting note: It’s the University of Florida’s homecoming this weekend, and I’ll be working all three nights. Wish me strength? Thanks. And Go, Gators!!

On a liberal note: Whew!

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I finished the back section of the mystery baby sweater and joined the shoulders.

Wanna see?

Oooh, it’s a pretty plaited cable indeed!

As I mentioned in the last post, the pattern calls for you to cast off all of the top edges, then sew them together, but I prefer to use a 3-needle bind off for shoulders, so that’s what I did. In practical terms, it means I put the right sides together and bound off the first 11 stitches (as that’s how many stitches are in each of the front sections at the shoulders) of the front and back together (yay, 3-needle bindoff!) to form the left shoulder. Then I cast off all but 11 stitches on the back section, which forms the neck edge on that part. Then I bound off the front right shoulder stitches with the back right shoulder stitches, again using the 3-needle bindoff.

Here’s a hint to make the 3-needle bindoff easier: Use a crochet hook to “knit” the live loops together, as the yarn is much less likely to slide off a crochet hook than a knitting needle when you’re drawing that yarn through the loops. And after you have both stitches “knit” onto the hook, you can just pull the one on the left through the first “knit” stitch on the right, effectively binding that stitch off. Continue for the entire bindoff section. (If that is poorly stated, I apologize. If you’re doing it, you’ll see that it makes total sense.)

Actually, I’ve been known to use a crochet hook for binding off in general. That way, when it’s time to “lift the stitch on the right over the loop you’ve just worked,” I just use the crochet hook to pull the loop on the left through the one on the right. So much easier and faster.

Since the photo above was taken, I have cast on the collar and worked the first 3 rows, with only 5 more to knit there. Once that’s done, I’ll knit the sleeves and do the finishing, including finding and attaching the perfect buttons! (I love that part!)

Here in north central Florida, which escaped Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, we’re dealing with unusually cool temps. Last night, it went down to 45 degrees F and is projected to top out at 65 today. That’s not ridiculously cold, I know, but it’s pretty early in the season for us to drop into this range.

The timing couldn’t be better for me to finish the mystery baby sweater, so Jaxon can wear it before it warms up again.

That said, I hope you all stay safe and sound while Mother Nature is playing the bitch.

[WARNING: liberal mini-rant ahead.]

Also I hope you have taken advantage of early- or absentee-voting opportunities, as power outages from Sandy could play havoc with the elections, and we can’t afford to let this chance to vote slip past us… especially those of us/you who live in blue states and plan to vote that way. We need you to keep this country moving forward, because I have zero interest in moving our society back into a mythical “better” past which was instead a time of repression and prejudice and institutionalized racism and sexism. Thanks, but no thanks.

I voted via paper ballot (an absentee ballot, no less) last week, thereby avoiding poll problems, challenges, etc. It was a satisfying feeling to drop it in the mailslot at my county’s Supervisor of Elections office and to hear it thunk into the box. (It’s a big ballot and it definitely thunked.) I wish you all that same feeling.

Stay warm and dry, kittens!

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Long live the Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson, aka Jenny Clause)!

If any of you are having problems getting in touch with the true spirit of the holidays, if you have been despairing at the ever-increasing commercialization of the season, if you have felt that generosity to strangers had gone the way of the dodo (and of the Democrats-in-power’s spines), you should– no,  you must – click this link and then this link and see what a truly amazing movement one blogging superstar has started and what its effects have been.

As I warned on my FB page, you should have tissues or hankies handy when you click over, especially if you tend to cry easily. The two posts themselves are touching, but the comments (from truly needy people and, perhaps even more, from truly generous people) will get you.

I should also warn you that you may get addicted to them, so don’t start them when you have anything important or time-sensitive to get to. You will want to read them all. And you will find yourself checking back over and over to read the new comments. (Ask me how I know. Ahem.)

That experience, of reading all the comments and of watching them grow (more than 1100 between the two posts, so far), will move you. (Unless you are dead inside, in which case it’s highly unlikely you would be reading my blog, so I feel fairly safe in my initial assertion.)

It’s like watching a miracle grow.

I don’t know how long Jenny will keep the comments open or continue to match people up with donors (see, you’d know what I was talking about if you’d already clicked the links), but it may be long enough for you to join the movement. If you are able to help someone, let Jenny know. If you need help or know of someone who could use the help, let Jenny know.

If your inner Scrooge is bah-humbugging, “It’s a scam,” let me assure you it is not. I posted early Saturday morning (using a pseudonym) a request for help for someone I know and love very much (someone who is not homeless or starving, but who was not going to be able to afford to get any Christmas gifts for his tiny family) and received a link 7 hours later to an amazon.com giftcard for that person. I forwarded that e-giftcard to the amazed and grateful recipient, who now gets to play Santa himself this year. The donor chose to remain anonymous, but his or her generosity to total strangers identifies him or her as one of Santa’s truest elves.

On any given day, Jenny’s blog is a laugh-out-loud, profane treat (with sidetrips into “Oh, no, she di’n’t”). I love reading it and following the links she provides to all kinds of madness. She’s a hoot, and her commenters (often hundreds of them per post) are as clever and witty as she is. I highly recommend it, while suggesting you take as gospel truth the “profane” part of my description. That said, if you like a little (or a lot of) salty with your sweet, you should be reading the Bloggess.

OK, you’ve spent enough time on my fangirl gushiness. Go on and click the links to the Jenny’s blog posts. Just make sure the tissues are handy.

And you’re welcome.

(Thanks again, Jenny and anonymous-donor-angel! Hope your own holidays are as warm and wonderful as the ones you have brightened for others.)

On a completely unrelated note, but one that nonetheless warms my heart, in that it gives me hope that the day may arrive when people on this planet will finally accept one another and stop living in fear of “the other”, I want to give a heartfelt WAHOO!! at the news of the repeal of DADT.

Perhaps there’s hope for the aforementioned spines after all.

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I’ve always found 13 to be a good-luck number. Good things happen to me on Friday the 13th, I’m always happy to stay on the 13th floor of a hotel, and I didn’t run out of yarn on FO 13 for 2010 after all.

It was a near thing.

This morning, I finished knitting sleeve 2 of the blue WIP, a Baby Einstein (Albert?) sweater for my MAT’s coworker’s unborn son, and stitched up the two shoulder/sleeve seams with the yarn tails. Looking at the three almost-footlong strands of yarn I had left from earlier sections of the sweater, I fretted that I would have to crack open my backup skein of yarn (the one you all know I went and bought after I logged off my last post) just to sew on the three buttons and make closure loops.

I know it seems silly to fret about a thing like that. After all, that’s what I bought the thing for, right? But it just seems wasteful to start a whole new skein just to sew on three buttons and to crochet button loops for them. Even when I know I can use the rest of the barely touched skein to make a baby hat and mitts and booties, especially if I make them several sizes smaller than the sweater, which is about a 12-month size (I think).

In fact, that’s a great idea. That way the li’l tyke will have the hat, etc., to wear while he’s still a fresh-from-the-mom baby (which make sense in a gift to a newborn, I know) and will have another handknit to wear next fall/winter. (Like a two-fer gift, doncha see.)

Still, the thought of starting that virgin skein just because I hadn’t planned ahead sufficiently, well, it irked me.

I decided to use what I had for as long as I could.

I used the three not-quite-one-foot-long sections to attach the buttons and quickly snapped a photo with the camera on my new phone. (As you will see below, it’s clearly not an iPhone, or surely the photo quality would be much better.)

Buttons found at my LYS when I bought the backup skein

I was pulling out the backup skein when something blue in my supplies caught my eye. I sorted through some assorted yarn scraps in my knitting tool kit and saw a couple more pieces (about 2 feet long each) of this yarn. And after digging, I found a third. I was saved!

I decided to make simple button loops by doubling the yarn from a fold and crocheting the doubled yarn (on a Boye size I hook) into 12-stitch chains. I folded the chains into loops and used the tails to secure them to the front right buttonband. Here’s another craptastic picture, this one showing a bit more detail of one of the buttons post-loop:

I love these buttons!

I apologize for the poor picture quality. Once I have a decent camera at hand, I will take a better photo and post it. Promise.

So, except for weaving in the button-loop ends, a task I shall attend to forthwith, FO 13 for 2010 is done. And the third skein remains intact.

Whew!

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The amazocam has gone missing, thus the use of the cellphone camera above. I think one of the men in the house left the van unlocked while the camera was in it, thinking surely no one would have the cojones to burglarize the car while it was parked right in front of the house. Surely not.

I have, on a couple of occasions recently, walked out to the van and found it unlocked. On none of those occasions had I been the last one in the vehicle. Sometimes not for hours.

Both my fellas deny any occasions on which they have not locked the van, which is not possible, really, given that I have “caught” the BC14 leaving it unlocked in the past and castigated him roundly then. It’s something I am downright anal about, working where I work and knowing what I know about crime rates in the area.

I have left my camera bag in the van for short stretches, when I was in-n-out of the house or work or a store, to avoid carrying it with me every moment. At those times, I doublecheck to make sure all the doors are locked and the windows are all the way up. And I make sure the camera bag itself is always out of sight, so as not to tempt a bad guy into smashing a car window and ripping me off. After all, most thieves/burglars are opportunists, in that they would rather find a vehicle with an unlocked door or open window than have to “break” into one. Some even think their victims are just getting what they deserve if they’re stupid enough to leave the car unsecured, like “What did you expect, dumbass?” or “That’ll teach ya.”

The fact remains that the camera bag is gone and with it, the amazocam. It’s not in the house. It’s not in the van. It’s not at work. The last time I remember having it in my hand was when I put it in the car, so I would have it handy while driving, ’cause you just never know when you’re going to need to document something critical, like a suspect fleeing the scene of a crime right in front of you (it could happen!) or a cool/funny/weird bumpersticker, right?

So, until we “find” the camera or I get another one or borrow the hub’s, these photos are the best I can do for now.

And while the camera loss/theft isn’t lucky, at least it didn’t happen on the 13th of the month.

Although it did happen while I was working on FO 13 and after I had knit my 13th charity “square” of the year.

Pure coincidence, surely.

Now pardon me, I have six ends to weave in and some salt to toss over my shoulder. (Hey, whatever it takes.)

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And if you’re reading this in a location that’s holding elections and have not yet done your civic duty, get off your duff and go vote. It’s the right (and left, in my case) thing to do and you’ll feel better afterward.

Promise.

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Sleeve two: 27/76ths done.

Then it’ll be time to stitch up the two seams, affix some closure devices (probably not buttons) and weave in the ends.

Et voilà! The Baby Albert (Einstein?) sweater will be done!

Sorry, no new picture of that particular WIP, but I do have another photo for you, ’cause everyone knows posts without pix are b.o.r.i.n.g.

A blast from my pre-blogging knitting archives.

I knit this in February 2007, for a little baby named Kiara. The hat is from a different pattern than the sweater, but I can’t recall what that pattern was. I do remember that it was a bitch to knit, with lots of P3tog or P3tog thru the back loop or some such nonsense. Made my hands hurt.

I got the sweater pattern from this adorable book that’s filled with sweaters presented and patterned two ways: as pullovers and as cardigans. I’ve made both versions of this sweater before, so you’d think I could recall the name of the pattern or the designer, but alas I do not.

The book is on my bookcase in the “office”, but that would require me to get dressed (it’s no-pants-Friday-morning here!), put on flipflops, haul myself outside to the office (no inside or connecting door), find the book, make my way back inside and then post it here. Um, maybe later, ‘kay? I’ll post it when I find it.

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Ha! Guess who found a way to totally cheat and get the book info without putting on pants? If you guessed moi, you guessed right!

Amazon.com had the book in its archives, under baby knitting books. Have I ever told you now much I love amazon? Love. It.

The book is Double Knits: Pairs of Patterns for Babies and Toddlers by Zoe Mellor.

Alas, I didn’t find the info about this particular sweater pattern, but I will. And, yes, I’ll let you know.

And, yes, I’ll find the hat pattern info, too.

Yeesh, you folks are tyrants, with your needing to know and all!

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In a totally unrelated note: I voted this morning! I love, love, love early voting. I was in and out of the polling station in about five minutes, from signin’ in to gettin’ my sticker. What a great idea this early voting thing is. And with no lines, no fuss, no muss, no eligible voter has an excuse to avoid doing what’s right. (Or left, if that’s the way you lean.)

So go vote, already. You’ll feel better after you do.

And if your area doesn’t allow the early voting, see if you can’t get that changed, why doncha? You’ll be glad you did.

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Just went and added a photo of the Kiara sweater only to the amazon.com page that the book is on, as one of the customer photos (or whatever it’s called). If you click the link above and here, you’ll see my project photo, just underbeneath the picture of the book cover. I wasn’t going to put it up, but I really don’t like the one other customer photo there, which has something scary and funky done with the sleeves and collar. I didn’t want that version to scare people off the book, as it’s a good book and totally worth buying and knitting from, especially at the unbelievably low price being asked. Have fun!

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(11/30) Updated to add: I found the hat pattern. It’s Lion Brand’s pattern 655, a.k.a. Buttery Soft Baby Set. The hat is listed as a tam. And I found the thing that hurt my hand: 1 out of every 4 rows includes these directions ” *yo, p1, p3tog, p1, yo, k1; rep from *”

I mean, really! Even a free download shouldn’t hurt you, right? Right.

–––

Updated again to add: Ooh, ooh, ooh! I found the sweater pattern! It’s called Lacy Sweater and Cardigan and it starts on page 87 of Zoe Mellor’s Double Knits. (Whew!)

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So I signed up again this year to participate in Blog Action Day, which means I agreed to post on Thursday about the need for the world to address seriously the dangers and effects of what is now politically correctly called “climate change,” but what I call “global warming.” I mean, let’s be honest, most of the changes in the climate (drought, elimination of species, flooding, shrinking polar ice caps, deglaciation, etc.) are caused in large part by the rising temperature on Mother Earth. Climate change is this year’s focus. Last year, (I believe) it was global poverty.

But, with my skewed personal clock (which cannot be blamed on global warming, but is the fault of night-shift work), it is now my Thursday. In fact, it’s my Thursday night off, so I logged on and prepared to do my part to spread the word.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the world, it’s now 2 a.m. Friday, which means officially I’ve missed it.

Now, the part of me that’s really embarrassed by my bad timing is tempted to try to spin my lapse as a deliberate plan, one in which I stress that every day could and should potentially be BAD (as I like to think of it). There are so many problems that deserve our attention that one day and one theme just don’t cut it. And anyone who’s read my blog for any amount of time surely knows already that I am a liberal almost-tree-hugger who thinks we need to nurture our world and each other, so I could try to assert that I have unofficial BADs periodically throughout the year, every year.

The truth, however, is that I crapped out on BAD. Last year, I nailed it. (So I’m only half BAD, right?) And I’ll try to do better next year, and in the 12 months intervening.

Here’s the official stuff: The world is heating up. Droughts are leading to starvation and escalating political unease and diminished potable water supplies. Species are being killed and/or failing to thrive. The low-lying parts of the world, some of them the poorest places on Earth, are in danger of (or experiencing already) rising ocean levels, leading to devastation and displacement. The ice caps are shrinking and breaking up, leaving less of a reflective surface on the planet to bounce back solar rays and keep the planet’s temperature stable. Glaciers are melting, endangering the people, plants and animals that count on them for fresh water supplies every year.

Etc.

As for the question of too late, I can only hope the folks who organized this year’s BAD will think “no”.

As for the planet, well, the case hasn’t gone to the jury yet. After all, to follow that analogy a bit, the “crime” is still in progress. We can still act to mitigate the severity of global warming, perhaps changing the outcome, perhaps turning this thing around. For species that have already been rendered extinct, we can do nothing. For land that’s already been devastated by flooding or drought, we can do little. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything.

As individuals and as citizens of the world, we can stop kickin’ the shit out of the planet. We can stop raping it and telling it to just relax and no one will get hurt. We can stop looking the other way while others do the kickin’ and raping, getting rich in the process. We can stand up and yell, “Stop!” We can refuse to stand down or give way.

We know right from wrong. Let’s act like it.

And to all those who refuse to acknowledge the reality or the causes of global warming, I ask this: What harm is there in polluting less, in protecting more, in caring for more than profits or power? The steps to make our lives on Earth more sustainable will not hurt you. And, if you’re a smart investor or innovator, you may still get rich by being part of the solution this time, rather than by maintaining the status quo.

Hey, someone (else, for sure, ’cause it won’t be me) is gonna rake in the dough. Someone (else) always does. Why can’t it be the good guys this time?

And wouldn’t you rather be one of the good guys?

Yeah, I thought so.

After all, it’s not just my grandchild who will inherit this world.

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Via Hulu.com, I finally got to watch the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. Thank the gods, it was a good ending. I know some other folks have been unhappy that the Galacticans turned out to be early ancestors of homo sapiens, interbred with the locals, but I thought it was a neat twist.

Via NBC’s website, I got to watch the last half of this final season of ER. I have loved this show since its inception, but haven’t watched much of the last 2-3 seasons (due to shiftwork, largely), so I’m a bad fan, I guess. It’s such a high-quality show, with great writing, amazing acting, pathos and humor, and it has been a part of my life and consciousness for 15 frakkin’ years, and I am deeply saddened that it is no longer being produced. (Yes, I had much the same reaction when MASH went off the air. I grew up on it and it had a strong influence on the development of my sense of humor and on my bleedin’-heart liberal, anti-war consciousness.)

Via Fox’s website, I got to watch the last half of this past season of Bones. I missed almost all season, what with working and/or sleeping when it was on, and hoped to catch the whole season online, but only found the last half. Oh, well, better than nothing, right? And they were such fun to watch! I’m glad there’ll be another season… and I hope there will be several more after that. (I’d hate for it to go away, too. Sigh.)

Also via the Fox site, I watched the last half of this year’s House episodes. I feel the same way about it that I do about Bones, so you can just reread the preceding paragraph for my opinion there.

And I discovered Lie to Me via the Fox site, too. Only 13 episodes, all worth watching.

I watched American Idol’s final show live, rather than in snippets online, voted many times for Adam, then went to work. The next night, I got up in time to watch the last 45 minutes of the results show. While disappointed that Adam Lambert didn’t win, I wasn’t incensed (like I was a few years ago when Daughtry got robbed), ’cause I recognize that Adam will be as big a star as he wants to be… and he’ll owe the AI production mafia less of his soul than the actual winner will. So it’s all good there.

At the cinema, I saw Terminator: Salvation and liked it very much. Not as much as the new Star Trek, but very much, nonetheless.

Still haven’t knit a damn thing, not another stitch since the cast-on row of that sleeve on the baby aran sweater. And, as you can see from the sidebar, I’ve been reading a bit.

You might ask why I haven’t been knitting while watching all the above stuff online, and indeed I asked myself that same question. The answer, strangely enough, is that the chair I sit in at my desk just isn’t a good knitting chair. And I don’t have a laptop, so I can’t just plop down on the couch… although I can’t see how that would work, trying to hold a laptop and my knitting stuff at the same time. I mean, I’d have to prop the laptop up on some pillows off to one side or the other and my neck would hate me if I had to sit with my head turned to watch the shows for that long. (Arthritis in the neck, y’all.)

As for work, well, I’ve been doing it a lot these last months. Last pay period (2 weeks long), I worked 100 hrs. This pay period will also have 100 hrs on it. And, no, we’re still not allowed to knit or read or do anything extracurricular online. All we’re allowed to do is eat and talk to one another, which means we’re all getting fat and bitchy. And tired, what with all the overtime. Oh, well, beats unemployment, right?

Right?

Right.

Sigh.

More later and sorry for the long-ish silence since my last post. I’ll try to do better.

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That’s right, the correct term is TREKKER. The name Trekkie was coined and is too often still used to belittle and deride fans of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a universe where people (all sorts of people) can coexist and thrive in peace and cooperation. It’s an optimistic view of the future, one that spreads a message of hope in a world that can be frightening, no matter what century it’s set in.

It should be no surprise to you that I, a relentlessly cheerful and openhearted liberal, am an ardent Trekker. I’m not sure how much of my mindset was predestined by genetics and character, but I know it was influenced by my childhood as an Army brat and by cultural experiences in my formative years.

I spent my childhood (until I was 13 years old) moving from base to base, both in the U.S. and in Germany. I saw that the world was big and rich, filled with people who looked and thought differently than I did. These people included local townsfolk in the cities around the military bases and also enlisted men from all over the U.S. who were in my dad’s company. These men were black, white, biracial or Asian-American, mostly young, working and living together in peace and friendship. They were single, married, occasionally divorced, widowed. Their families were sometimes biracial, usually because black American GIs were married to women who were German or Korean or Japanese or what-have-you. (It was rarely the other way ’round.) Their children were my friends and playmates. To me, they were just people.

This viewpoint is part of my core now, as it was then. I believed differently than did most of the kids I knew and went to junior-high and high school with.

My dad retired when I was 13 and we moved back to his small, north Florida hometown. It was a closed place then, with racism and extreme nationalism (to the point of xenophobia) and a claustrophobic’s need to believe that it was the best place in the world, with no mental space to admit that there might be value in things “other”. If you were one of the white heterosexual conservative locals, your life was relatively peaceful, if not often prosperous or adventurous. If you were black, gay, liberal or foreign (like from out of state… or, god forbid, Miami), your life was often a trap of poverty and discrimination. Its motto could have been “Fit in or get out.”

Those of us who chafed at these restrictions, who had dreams of being part of a bigger world, who believed there was a better way to live than in tradition and fear of change? Well, we got out.

I got out.

What does this have to do with Star Trek? The original series was one of my formative cultural influences, as I watched it on TV and dreamed about visiting “strange new worlds” and lusted after Spock (such passion under that cool surface, surely) with all the intensity an adolescent can bring to bear. I couldn’t figure out why Kirk always kissed those alien women (who usually tried to kill him before the episodes ended) or why he always had to be the one to fight the alien bad guys, but I liked the mutual respect and affection between the crew members. I was sad that there were no more episodes being made of such a stellar (pun intended) show, while many crappy programs were still being produced.

When it came time to choose a college, I had offers from all the major Florida state universities (with honors scholarships to boot). The closest was in the state capital, which I’d been to many times, as it’s less than an hour from the aforementioned hometown, but I just didn’t think I’d fit in there. It was a much larger version of the hometown, with all the attitudes and atmosphere and issues I didn’t like at home… and politics to boot.

I chose the University of Florida, which I’d visited with two boyfriends who were students there while I was in high school. I liked the openness and pace and warmth of this much smaller city (a large town, really) and felt I could be my own person, whoever that might turn out to be, in Gainesville. It’s a decision I have never regretted.

Don’t get me wrong. This no panacea, no paradise, no Starfleet-in-Florida. There are pockets of this town and county that are as backward as the town I left so many years ago. There are people here who are as xenophobic and, yes, backward as the folks whose philosophies and attitudes I rejected as a teen. But there’s room here (physical and mental) to be yourself.

And it’s home.

Over the years, I have remained a Trekker. I loved The Next Generation and Voyager and lamented both loudly when they ended. I read all of the novels in their respective series – in order. I saw (and saw and saw again) all of the movies. I wondered why I couldn’t seem to get into Deep Space 9’s grittier and more stationary world. I rejoiced when Enterprise hit the airwaves and wept when it was canceled.

I wanted more.

Imagine my excitement when the previews hit the theater of the new Star Trek movie! They were gorgeous, exciting, promising. So promising. I couldn’t wait for this very week to arrive, when I could finally get another dose of Trek.

I was working on opening night (my regular worknight) and on Friday night (OT to cover for a coworker who got married that morning), but last night?

Last night, I took the BC19 and hit the 10:55 p.m. show.

OMG, what a fun movie! What a glorious reimagining of the early days of the classic (original) Trek crew! What hot actors! What great effects! What a blast!

If you’re a Trekker, you have to see this movie. Go with an open mind and just let it happen. The entire story line (which significantly changes the traditional Trek timeline and universe) is possible because of the time-travel premise introduced at the beginning of the film. True Trekkers have already accepted paradoxes and the idea of parallel realities, so you should have the mental space for this plot device. Don’t fight it, or you’ll spend the whole movie analyzing it.

If you’re not a Trekker, but you like action-adventure films, you have to see it, too. J.J. Abrams (also not a Trekker) has created a fun rollercoaster ride you’ll be glad you got on.

How much do I love this movie? Enough that I’m going to see it again in about 3 hours (the 9:45 a.m. showing) with the BC19 (who is also seeing it again), the BC12 and his dad, right after our Mother’s Day breakfast en famille.

And when it comes out on DVD, I’ll buy it… all the while hoping that Abrams makes a sequel with this cast (love them! especially Spock, who is every bit as hot as I always suspected) and that the franchise stays alive at least as long as I do.

And that Star Trek’s vision of a galaxy of hope and adventure and potential never dies.

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… I hear it’s warm down there.

Seriously, folks, it reached 33.2 degrees F this morning (at about 6:45, 15 minutes before I got off work). That’s, like, 0.8C.

That’s cold, y’all! Maybe not as cold as it was chez vous, but nearly freezing is nearly freezing, no matter where you are.

In fact, when I started my car and tried to clear the windshield of the dew that had accumulated in the 12 hours I’d been at work, the smeared water FROZE! Un-frakkin’-real.

Let’s all knock on wood that it’s the last cold snap of the 2008-9 winter season, okay? I’m sure you’re as tired of Mother Nature’s persistent frigidity as I am.

And, frankly, with global warming (which is real, today’s cold notwithstanding) causing ocean levels to rise, I’m about as far south in Florida as I feel safe moving. The rest of it’s going to be underwater one day.

On a completely unrelated topic: Go Vermont and Iowa! Way to underscore your support of human rights for all humans. I’m proud of you!

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