Saturday, December 31, 2005

Out with the old, in with the new

Yarn, that is. A lot of new yarn.

I went back to the yarn store today and bought some more yarn. I just couldn't resist the siren call of that sale. I bought more of the eggplant-purple Opal yarn because GPG made me second-guess whether or not I had enough yarn for arm-warmers, plus four more shades of Koigu! (The Koigu, it is lovely.) Pictures will come maybe next week. I'll try to pick a nice, sunny day so you can actually see what the colors are like.

As far as the old yarn goes . . . well, I'm just telling myself that I'm knitting through it on this winter break. Right.

Anyway, I hope that anyone who is reading this here little blog has a very Happy New Year. Celebrate safely and have an intrepid 2006!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Yarn sale!

Today the local yarn store, Yarns 2 Ewe, kicked off its two-day "Customer Appreciation Sale" where everything in the store is 20% off and books and clearance items are 30% off. Yowza! I went and browsed for a good two hours, just fingering the different yarns there and trying to decide what I wanted to buy. Just this past year, the store moved to a new location with more space, and there is a ton more exciting stuff there than before. Although I spent a fair bit of money today, I'm tempted to go back tomorrow to buy some more!

Before I show you what I got, I have a few (bad) pictures of what I've been knitting on this week. I took these pictures fairly late on a cloudy day, so the lighting is pretty terrible. Sorry about that.

First off, I have a My So-Called Scarf, knit for LawSchoolKatie, who likes pink and generally all things glittery. You can't really tell in this picture, but there's a bit of gold metallic stuff wrapped around two plies of wool, one gray (and somewhat roving, if you can tell by the color variations) and the other pink. The colors are really a lot more vibrant in the real thing, but again, bad lighting.

I also made two baby hats, but I sent one off in the mail today before I remembered to take a picture of it. Below is the other one. The hat that's en route at the moment is slightly bigger (I made it first and wasn't sure how many stitches to cast on) and made out of the same kind of yarn, but with some darker gray tweedy flecks. The yarn for both is nice and thick and machine washable.

One is for Clerk the First's new baby (remember CtF from when I worked for the Judge over the summer?) and the other is for the new little girl of a Duke law student whom I met while working for Big Firm.

And, finally, a picture of GPG's socks. Unfortunately, none of the pictures of him actually wearing the socks came out right, so you probably can't tell how big these things are. I knit them on US2 needles and they are 78 sts around, which is a LOT. Usually I only cast on 66 sts for socks for normal sized people. The foot alone is 80 rounds from the heel flap to the point where I start decreases for the toes. That was a LOT of knitting.

And, finally, all the yarn I bought! Very exciting stuff. First, I bought 4 skeins of Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK in a very beautiful lilac/lavender color (which is kind of washed out in the picture because of the light). It's really nice stuff--85% merino wool, 10% silk, and 5% cashmere. The Chairwoman picked it out before she left for Japan. I'm planning on making a cowl for her to wear around town while she's adventuring, since it's pretty cold over there right now.

Next is two skeins of GEMS Opal, which is machine-washable merino wool. It's in a nice bright red because this yarn is supposed to make up another cowl that the Chairwoman can wear while riding her bicycle. The red is for visibility and the machine-washableness is for practicality. We can't have her ruining the nice Kathmandu while she's riding her bike, right?

Since I liked the Opal yarn so much, I bought another skein of it for myself in a nice eggplant purple. I hope to make some arm-warmers out of them. There are often times when it's just cold enough that my arms and fingers are cold when I'm walking to school, but it's still warm enough that I get overheated in a fleece and start sweating. Those are times when I'd like to just wear a t-shirt so I stay cool while walking, but could use some arm-warmers to keep my arms warm. I'm not sure what they will look like, but I think I'll probably rib them to make them nice and form-fitting so they don't slouch on my arms.

Last but not least, I bought 4 skeins of KOIGU!!! The picture below doesn't really do them justice. Two are of a nice light blue with flecks of orange; the other two are of a darker orange and blue. Can you tell that I like the blue/orange combination? I think I'll make socks out of them if I don't decide to make the feather-and-fan scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which alternates two different complementary Koigu colorways.

I also bought some needles for the cowls and a pattern book. I'm so tempted to go back tomorrow. But I think I will have to bring GPG along so he keeps me from spending too much money.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

S l o w. And, an update.

I'm finally back after a long hiatus. Part of it was finals; part of it was a mad knitting frenzy leading up to Christmas; and part of it was gradually figuring out that Blogger doesn't like bitmap files and prefers JPGs. I had pictures ready to post after Christmas, but I only just figured out now that Blogger wouldn't accept them because they were BMPs!

So now I have a bit of posting to catch up on. First of all, let's start with the pre-Christmas knitting frenzy:

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm knitting on glittens for the Chairwoman while watching some DVD from the extended set of The Lord of the Rings. As soon as I finished finals on Dec. 19, I started knitting on these glittens to have them ready for the Chairwoman by Christmas. I barely finished at 2:30 a.m. on Christmas Day! Clearly, I am a very slow knitter. I didn't even get to finish GPG's Christmas socks until two days later because I spent all my free time working on those glittens.

And, unfortunately, I don't even have a picture of the finished product! I was sans digital camera at the time because I was spending the night of Christmas Eve at the Chairwoman's so I could take her to the airport on Christmas Day. So I was knitting furiously on these things all night long and have no picture to show for it. Sigh.

Anyway, I took the Chairwoman to the airport at 5 in the morning so she could head off to Japan to be with the Chairman. In a way, it was probably good to have been so tired from staying up late and knitting and then waking up in the morning, because otherwise I think it would have been a sad occasion. As it was, I was just tired and we were both in a bit of a rush to get the Chairwoman checked in on time. Anyway, now she's in Japan probably having all kinds of adventures, and that's what counts.

After dropping off the Chairwoman, I went straight back home and tumbled into bed. I didn't get to sleep for very much, but it sure felt good to sleep at least a little.

When I woke up, GPG and I had breakfast and then we opened presents:

We first opened presents that GPG's parents sent from Germany. (I opened most while GPG manned the camera.) The first gift was an "upside" down map of the world, with the Southern Hemisphere on top and the Northern Hemisphere on the bottom. It certainly provides a different perspective!

Above is a pretty small picture, so you can't really see the details, but if you look closely you can see the basic shapes of the continents. Keep in mind that I am looking at it right-side up, the way it's supposed to be viewed. So all the big continents are at the bottom of the map.

Next was a pretty awesome present:

They're Tempos! Tempos are basically little travel packets of German tissues. Yes, tissues like Kleenex. But so much better. One of the things that I love about Germany is that their paper goods are so much better than American paper goods. Paper goods meaning, primarily, tissues and toilet paper. Sounds like a weird thing to like, but it's something I've definitely noticed, especially considering that 1) everyone has to go the bathroom and use toilet paper; and 2) I got sick the past two times I was there and became very good friends with Tempos. Tempos are basically thicker and hardier than American tissues, and I'd been hoarding the two last little packets I had saved from the last time I was there. Now I have a pack of THIRTY. Yay!

I let GPG open the next present because it's definitely a "him" sort of present:

That's three bars of Toblerone milk chocolate. He loves the stuff.

GPG's parents also sent a very beautiful set of salt-and-pepper shakers covered with mother-of-pearl. They were lovely. Here I am reading a little card of information about mother-of-pearl after having opened the gift. You can see the shakers on my leg:

The next present GPG really should have opened, but he let me open it because we thought it was some more chocolate. It wasn't, which is why I'm laughing in this picture:

It was actually Haselmark, which is something GPG loves from Germany. It's basically a hard bar of honey and ground nuts. Hard to describe, especially since it's been a while since I've had it (we haven't opened this year's Haselmarks yet, and the last time I tasted a bit was, well, last Christmas). Here they are:

Then GPG gave me his present, which makes up a bit for the very little knitting content on this post (i.e., little knitting content in light of how much knitting I've been doing the past two weeks). We only got one picture of me opening a part of it:

It's probably hard to tell what it is, but it's a metal swift! And he also gave me a ball winder! Eeee! I love it! There's a big yarn sale at the LYS here in Houston tomorrow, so these babies are gonna see a lot of action. Plus I've got a ton of yarn at home that needs to be wound up. I'm so glad I'll never have to wind yarn into a ball by hand anymore!

Then I gave GPG his present:

Wusthof knives! GPG has been complaining about his bad knives for a while, so I decided to get him some really nice ones. They've already been put into use and I think he likes them a lot.

In fact, we used them to prepare part of Christmas dinner: hotpot!

Here's a picture of GPG and all the lovely things we cooked in the hotpot:

And here is a nice closeup of the hotpot itself:

We had beef, fish balls, two kinds of tofu, spinach, napa cabbage, mushrooms, and noodles. Not bad for a first attempt, and it was great. We stuffed ourselves. We're looking forward to another one.

Anyway, that was Christmas, and it was a good one. Since then I've continued knitting basically non-stop, which is actually exactly what I wanted to do after finals. (Finals were a doozie. I only realized halfway through that I was basically taking 4 tests in one week. That's, uh, a lot.) I'll post pictures of what I've done tomorrow. The tally since the end of school is one pair of glittens (for the Chairwoman), one pair of very big socks (for GPG), two umbilical cord baby hats (for babies born and to be born), and half of one My So-Called Scarf (for LawSchoolKatie). Sounds like a lot, but it's kind of not. I've discovered that I am a pretty slow knitter. During school, I attribute my slow progress to the fact that I really only knit on the bus rides to and from school. But now that I have most of the day to knit, I have to face up to the fact that I actually knit pretty darn slowly.

Oh, and as far as the running tally? I'm up to 12 miles. Last week I did 6 miles twice and 9 miles once. This week I've done 3 miles once and 12 miles once, and I hope to do at least 12 more (if not 15) on Friday or Saturday. Hopefully I'll get that mileage up somehow. At least the 12 miles (which I did yesterday) were not so bad. I managed it in 1:47, which I think is pretty respectable. We'll see how many more miles I can pull off.

More updates and pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Surfacing for a brief moment

I'm officially halfway through my finals and I'm officially exhausted. When I picked out my classes for this semester and saw the finals dates, I thought the finals were nicely spaced out and wouldn't present a problem. I didn't have any exams on the same day or any back-to-back exams, so I figured I would be fine. And, to be sure, I know people who have those killer back-to-back finals schedules, so I probably shouldn't be complaining. But, I do have two sets each of two exams within three days, and all the studying is definitely wearing on me.

So far this week I've had Evidence (on Monday) and Federal Income Tax (on Wednesday). I get a brief break and then I have IP on Saturday and Secured Credit next Monday. Bleah! Evidence and FIT were remarkably good experiences, insofar as taking a final exam can ever be a "good" experience. I felt like I knew how to answer all the questions and I didn't have any problems with time; I got to check over all my answers at least once during both exams. (And a good thing I did, too, because there were a couple of tricky questions I realized I had answered wrongly and I also found one instance where I just plain old filled in the wrong bubble on the scan-tron sheet.)

However, I have the feeling that IP and Secured Credit will be much less rosy experiences. For one thing, they are both supposed to be time-pressured (whereas Evidence and FIT definitely were not). And, my IP professor said he deliberately makes a hard test so he gets a nice curve. It's all multiple choice, too, so you can't make up for any questions you might get wrong because of time pressure or being bad a multiple choice by showing what you know in an essay. On the other end of the spectrum, Secured Credit is four short-answer questions and one longer essay. Despite what I just said about IP and no essay questions, here is where the open-ended, write-what-you-will format will probably bite me in the butt, because I'm definitely the least prepared for Secured Credit and could probably use the structure of a multiple choice test (pick one of these five answers) to help me along.

And in the midst of all this studying, I am reading knitting blogs and seeing all the beautiful knitting that other people are doing for holiday gifts or what have you, and I'm envious of the time that other people have to knit. So far my knitting has been severely limited to the time I'm on the bus, and since I'm knitting socks for GPG's Christmas present at the moment, it's slow going (he has big feet. Seriously big feet.). Once I finish exams on Monday I will have to knit like crazy to try and get the Chairwoman's present together. I haven't even started. I'm not sure if I'll have time to do it. Eek! GPG might have to wait for his socks.

Anyway . . . back to studying.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Finals' Eve

Here we are . . . the eve before the most irritating week of the semester begins.

The week of finals.

I remember this week last year, when I was a wee 1L. I remember being incredibly nervous before the first exam, which was a Contracts test for arguably the most notoriously intimidating first-year professor in the school. I had started studying for that sucker probably towards the end of October and crammed like mad, non-stop, for days before it actually happened.

Now I'm a 2L. What's different?

Well, first of all, there's a matter of quantity. At UT Law you only have three substantive finals to prepare for during your first semester, and the administration spaces them out pretty generously for you (I guess they don't want their 1L drop-out/suicide rates to be too high. Just kidding. Seriously: don't sue me, UT Law!). This semester I have 4 substantive finals, all spaced about 2 days apart. An extra test probably doesn't sound like a lot, but it really is, especially when your entire grade for the semester is hanging on this one showing.

Second of all . . . I'm definitely not as well prepared as I was last year. That may be for lack of trying, although I also think that there's just a lot more information that I have to remember this year. More information to remember means less information (proportionally) that I do.

Third of all . . . I think that maybe I've lost a little bit of my ambition. When you're a 1L, you have no idea how you're going to stack up against everyone else, so you bust your butt to make a super showing. I went all-out crazy studying for finals. This year, though . . . it's pretty clear (to me, at least) who's at the top of the class and who's not. It's similarly clear (again, to me) that I'm nowhere near the top. So I think that, subconsciously while I've been studying for this semester, I've resigned myself to being probably good--probably better than average--but not great. That's probably not the attitude to have, I know; I see some people who clearly study not to do the best they can, but to get the A+s in the class. There's a difference between the two, and perhaps I should study harder to lock in those A+s for myself . . . but even when I was a 1L I only studied to do the best I could--not to guarantee myself an A+. I think it takes a certain kind of person with a certain kind of personality who can study for the A+s so as to guarantee it, no questions asked. And I am not that kind of person.

But, the plan for this week is the same plan as always: do the best I can (and try to take over the world). I had planned to reward myself with something nice and scrumptious to knit after finals are over, but I think I'll probably try to stick with my yarn diet (stash gone by graduation is the goal). I'll have to think of something else to celebrate being halfway done with my law school career.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Wow, it is freezing down here in Texas. Literally and figuratively. When I picked a third-floor apartment (security reasons, noise reasons, etc.), I never thought that a possible disadvantage would be that freezing rain would coat the steps and make them icy. That kind of thing just doesn't happen here in Texas.

Well, it did yesterday, and school got canceled from 2 pm yesterday to 10 am today. I'm taking advantage of the respite from 8:13 evidence to stay at home until the apartment steps--and the roads--thaw out a little more. No one knows how to drive in ice here, and even though I'd be in the bus and not in my own car, I think it's best not to try my luck when I don't have to.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Marathons and law school don't mix.

Especially not when you're trying to study for finals.

Last year I was wise and bumped down to the half marathon after my training languished during the first semester of law school. On one Saturday morning near finals I had run around 15 miles--still the farthest distance I've ever run--and I was out of commission for the rest of the day. Literally. My head was fuzzy and I was run-down and utterly exhausted until the next morning, after a good night's sleep. Studying was useless that day. I stopped training for the full marathon after that.

Now, I'm trying to train for the full marathon this year, and training is still not going well. The most I've run is 10 miles, and the marathon is about a month and a week away. I'm trying to convince myself that I can do a bunch of training over the winter holidays, but who knows if that is really the smartest thing I can do to my body.

Anyway, with the goal of running the full marathon in mind, I tried to do a bunch of studying at school today and then left around 3:45 to get a run in around Town Lake. I figured I'd try one loop, and then if I had some daylight left I'd tack on a little more to try and up my mileage. Since GPG and I had run around Town Lake on Thanksgiving, and I had also done one other 10-mile run since then, I figured I'd be okay and would even be able to study Federal Income Tax this evening. You know, to prepare for the THREE HOUR REVIEW SESSION that the professor is hosting tomorrow.

Boy, was I wrong. About the FIT, I mean. I made it around Town Lake once and then stopped because I was super cold (I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, which were fine when the sun was out but not so fine once the sun started setting) and because it was getting dark pretty quickly. I tried to book it around the trail because I was worried about the daylight and the temperature, and although that was a smart move in terms of preserving my arms, which were about to fall off my body and shatter like the icicles they had become, I'm in no shape to study FIT this evening.

And, of course, I'm in no shape to run that marathon in January. I sense a nice symmetry going here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Oh, no. The weekend's here.

That means a whole lot of studying is ahead.

I started studying for my finals bit by bit in November, but this week (well, really, starting the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving) was the first truly hard-core week for me. I've been staying at school later than usual and trying to study more diligently at home. And boy, I am tired now this Friday night. Under non-finals circumstances, I'd be pretty happy about the prospect of a weekend. But as things are, the weekend just means more time to hit the books. Sigh.

I'm not as hard-core as some people I know, who are at school until 10:30, 12:30, 1, 2--that's just waaaay too intense for me. I wouldn't be able to function after the first night if I did that. But even with my wimpy effort--going home around 7 or 8, studying until 10 or 10:30--I'm pretty tired. I can't believe I have to sustain this kind of effort for over two more weeks!

How on earth did I do it last year? I'm not sure. In part, I do think that I'm responsible for a lot more material this semester, which means that I am trying to study harder now, but still feel like I have only the most tenuous of grips on all the information I need to know. (I've felt a weird dissociation from school this year: I go to class, I take the notes, but I still feel pretty unconnected with all the concepts. It's been strange.) The material overload stems from the fact that I'm taking four code- and statute-intensive classes this year, which means memorizing (or, at least, trying to be familiar with) a bunch of statutory text and code section numbers. All the numbers and rules are definitely wearing my brain out a lot more than trying to wrap my head around 1L concepts like consideration and state of mind and the rational basis test. It's not like anyone who's a 1L this year would agree with me, but I think that it's easier to wrestle with broad concepts and write nice issue-spotting essays than it is to memorize a bunch of detailed code and procedures and apply them in more concrete problems.

And, of course, I guess there's the fact that I'm not an eager-beaver 1L anymore. I definitely don't have the same kind of crazy enthusiasm that I did before. Admittedly, I did enjoy my first semester a lot--so much that the second semester was something of a let-down. The current semester is an improvement on the second, but it's not quite as good as the first. I think that unfavorable comparison stems from a combination of 1L-eager-beaverness last year and also the fact that I picked all my code-intensive classes for this semester when I thought I'd be more interested in transactional stuff. Now that I am much more interested in litigation stuff, I just can't muster the energy or enthusiasm to study for Secured Credit.

It's especially hard to concentrate when all I'd really like to do is sit at home, watch some movies, drink hot chocolate, make some cookies, and knit on my secret Christmas presents. I've been pretty good about refraining from such conduct so far, but as a result I'm getting a little concerned about finishing all my hoped-for holiday knitting in time. I suspect that some people will be receiving presents after the holiday.

Stupid finals. They get in the way of everything. Including sleep.