Friday, September 28, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In Law Enforcement, They Call it a Clue......

THE SETTING:
The city of Fresno is bisected by State Highway 99. This busy thoroughfare, which stretches nearly 300 miles through the central valley of California, is a well traveled route to many of the small towns and villages located between Sacramento and Bakersfield.

My husband, Dan, often travels on Highway 99 during his work as a detective with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. When he is on duty, Dan wears street clothes and drives an "unmarked" car. By "unmarked", I mean the car is plain white. It does not have a light bar mounted on it roof, nor is it painted with the distinctive green stripe and big gold star, like the cars in the patrol division.

It does not mean that it is difficult to figure out it is a cop car of some kind.

THE CLUES:Clue No. One -- The car has a "California Exempt" license plate. Also note the bracket surrounding said license plate which advertises "Fresno Sheriff's Dept. Recruitment" with a phone number.

Clue No. Two -- The car has been assigned a number and sports two bumper stickers. One bumper sticker asks if the person reading is an organ donor and the other is a D.A.R.E. sticker to keep kids off of drugs.

Clue No. Three -- Two guns (a shotgun and an assault rifle) in their brackets are easily visible through the rear window. Also visible is the cage protecting the driver from a violent passenger.
Clue No. Four -- The car is a white Ford Crown Victoria with the model name "police interceptor" clearly visible on both sides of the car.

Clue No. Five -- The car has a steady red light beacon (required for a traffic stop in California) mounted on the driver's side door and a spotlight on the passenger door which are folded forward when not in use. Also visible on the dash is the top of the mounted notebooks and other equipment required by the Sheriff's Department.

AND THEN THERE'S CLUELESS.......

Dan is traveling north on Highway 99 in the "fast" lane. Traffic is moving at a good clip with most cars moving along at approximately 70 m.p.h. (The speed limit is 65 m.p.h. along this stretch of the road). Glancing into his rear view mirror, Dan sees a gray BMW rapidly closing in on his bumper. The driver is obviously in a hurry and rapidly closes the gap between his car and Dan's Crown Victoria.

The BMW pushes its nose to within five feet of Dan's rear bumper and begins tailgating. Now, at this point, one might think that the impatient driver would begin to notice those aforementioned clues we talked about. But noooo, he appears to be oblivious to them. After tailgating for about a half mile, he then begins to flash is headlights at Dan, a signal that Dan should get out of his way.

His curiosity thoroughly piqued, Dan decides to pull to the middle lane and let the driver through. As soon as he is clear of the fast lane, the BMW blows by him at approximately 85 m.p.h. and accelerates away. As Dan watches, he begins to weave in and out of the fast lane, passing slower cars, then careening back into the fast lane.

Now, you have to understand Dan. He hates, and I mean HATES, to write traffic tickets. In fact, in the 16 years I have known him, the number of speeding tickets he had issued could have been counted on one hand.....until now.

Dan sped up and began to pace. When the GPS unit on his dash reached 110 m.p.h., he had had enough and hit the red lights. It took three more miles before the driver of the speeding BMW noticed that he was being red-lighted and finally pulled over.

As Dan walked up, the driver confidently told him that he couldn't be given a ticket because Dan was not in a "real" police car and he obviously wasn't a "real" cop!

Wait until he get to court and discovers he will owe a "real" fine of $721.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ravelry

There is a huge downside to Ravelry.

I started cataloging all of my stash and decided it would be easier if I had it all in one place.

Now, my husband Dan has never, ever, ever seen the sheer size my stash.......
He stood in shocked silence as he looked first at the piles of bright colored yarns waiting to be photographed.......

then slowly turned and looked at bags and bins stuffed full of twenty years of accumulated yarn acquisition.....
.........and finally ended with the stacks of roving waiting to be spun into yarn .

Poor Dan. He looks a bit shell shocked -- you know, that deer caught in the headlights look?

Which leads me to the question ---- Should I tell him that there is yet still more yarn in Washington?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Loaded with Preservatives

Ever wondered why airline snacks always taste like cardboard? I think I discovered the reason why during our last flight.

Look closely at the expiration date..........


Apparently, these chips are best when consumed before April 3007!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Fifteenth Square

This square is from the The Great American Aran Afghan and was designed by Meredith Morioka. It consists of an intricate center cable and a seed stitch and lace pattern as the side borders.
I finished this square last week but apparently I misread the instructions and used a needle size too large. Previously, all of the other squares I had knitted were fairly consistent as to size. In fact, all of them had blocked nicely at twelve square inches each. But this square was huge...... and I do mean HUGE! When I measured it, the tape measure revealed the thing was fourteen inches wide and fifteen inches tall.

After mumbling a few choice knitting words, I frogged the entire thing, reduced needle size, and started over. The re-knit version happily was right on gauge so I have added another finished square to the stack! Twenty five more to go!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Yarn Harlot AND Yarnhog --All in the Same Day!

Last June, Sanger High School had the temerity to schedule Justin's graduation ceremony without first checking The Yarn Harlot's tour schedule. Although I would have loved hearing her speak, you don't invest eighteen years into your kid and miss out of one of life's payoffs.
Consequently, I have been watching her "Harlot on Tour" posts hoping that she would be scheduled in California again before the end of the year. As luck would have it, she was the featured speaker at the Los Angeles Public Library on September 15th. When the schedule was posted on the Internet, I made reservations for two, hoping that Yarnhog would be able to attend as well.
Although I had never met Yarnhog (a.k.a. Suzanne), she and I had been commenting on each other blogs for several months and have an seem to have an almost eerie connection at times -- we are both fairly tall, we are both attorneys, we both have boys, we have the same make and model of computer, both of our fathers worked in the same field.......the list goes on and on. I emailed Suzanne, asked her to join me, and she agreed! The Harlot was scheduled to speak at 2:00 p.m. Suzanne and I wanted to get a good seat so we agreed to meet at my hotel at 10:30 a.m. She arrived right on time. We spent two hours getting to know each other. What a lovely woman. Then, since we wanted to get a good seat in the auditorium, we headed over to the Public Library.Even though it was only 12:30 p.m., there were knitters everywhere! It seemed Suzanne and I weren't the only only who thought arriving early was a good idea. We joined the line and did what knitters do best when confronted with a long wait --- out came the knitting needles, spindles and projects.
Suzanne sat down and started on her Icarus Shawl. Suzanne is knitting the shawl for a friend's wedding and her posts on it have been hilarious. She ordered the yarn on line. When it arrived she was stunned to discover that dental floss is thicker. She commented that she has completed 7943 rows and it seems to have increased in size by a whole inch. The wedding is rapidly approaching so she was working on it whenever she could. As we knit we chatted with other knitters/bloggers, including Cat Book Mom, Bee Bonnet and Dizzy Ewe.

When the door finally opened, Suzanne and I were delighted to snag front row seats! Next to us is Audrey, the lovely program director and librarian who set up the event.
The big moment finally arrived. Stephanie entered to a huge round of applause and immediately took pictures of the audience with the traveling sock.

Then she spoke to the assembled crowd. She was poised, charming and had the crowd in stitches (forgive the pun) with her offbeat sense on humor. Then, despite a grueling schedule which has her in seven cities in seven days, she graciously signed her books and chatted with the crowd.

This is Jean Roosevelt (goldenpurl.blogspot.com), the lovely knitter who collected the knitted hats donated to charity at the event.

And finally the requisite picture of yours truly with The Yarn Harlot herself. All too soon, it was time to leave and say good-bye. But what a wonderful day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

That's different.....

When I lived in Southern California, I hired a Certified Public Accountant named Mark to help set up my office accounts and prepare my taxes. Twenty five years later, he still prepares my taxes. Since I am in Fresno and Mark is in Los Angeles, I drive 200 miles each way when I have to close out my fiscal year. This morning, I headed south bright and and early. The day was hazy and traffic was light. All in all, the trip was boring until I saw a truck in the distance hauling a strange load.
It's not often one sees a giant toucan and parrot out for an early morning jaunt!
After meeting with Mark, I headed to The Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. I checked in, then headed for the elevator. A plaque just above "up" button noted that the elevator had been used when filming the movie "In the Line of Fire".
While I was standing there waiting for the doors to open, I wondered what the crowd in the lobby would do if Clint Eastwood suddenly ran through and jumped into the elevator. Then the door whooshed open and this got out.
And you know what? No one paid any attention.
Tomorrow, I have reservations to hear Stephanie Pearl-McPhee speak at the Los Angeles Library. She is a wonderful speaker and it should be fun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Block Party

This is what I did this afternoon.
Before......
......and.....

After!

It never ceases to amaze me as to the difference blocking makes!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Men....


Today is the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that have become known simply by the date 9/11.
I remember walking out to feed the horses that horrific morning only to be surprised by clouds and the distant smell of rain. Curious if the weather forecast had been revised, I turned on the television to witness a living nightmare. Television cameras were focused on the Tower One of the World Trade Center as billowing smoke poured from the raw wound where the plane had hit. I watched in confusion as the news man tried to explain what he was witnessing – and could not find the words to describe it. Then, without warning, a second huge jet came out of the blue sky and slammed into the other Tower and a fireball exploded from the facade. Then came the Pentagon.....the collapse of Tower Two....the collapse of Tower One, and word of the end of Flight 93 in that Pennsylvania field.
Throughout the remainder of that terrible day, my staff and I witnessed the continuous broadcasts and endless re-plays of the planes appearing out of nowhere, the slow crumbling of the towers, the raging fire at the pentagon, and the numbed faces of the survivors. Yet, despite seeing it over and over again, it was impossible to truly comprehend.
At the same time as I was watching the news on television, far away in New York City, one of my clients, a man named John was actually living the nightmare. John worked for Morgan Stanley and had been sent to New York City for a training seminar to be held on the 72nd floor of Tower Two. John had arrived in New York the day before and checked into the hotel across the street. He was issued a security key card to access the building and arrived bright and early on September 11th. John was standing at the window with another employee looking at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty when a dull bang reverberated through the building. Minutes later, papers and other debris began to drift down in front of the window. Neither John nor his companion knew what had happened. They were soon joined by other employees who wondered aloud if they shouldn't leave the building. Because Tower One was behind Tower Two neither John, nor the other employees could see the gaping hole and the billowing smoke. As the employees wondered what to do, loudspeakers in the building began to advise them to remain calm and stay where they were – Tower Two was not affected. However, John’s companion remained nervous and ultimately decided he would rather be on the street than in the building. John and he made their way to a stairwell and started down. It was a decision that saved his life.
As they reached the landing of the 50th floor, the building was suddenly rocked and the smell of jet fuel assailed their senses. At that point they realized they had to get out and hurried down the stairs, all the while being joined by more and more people all seeking the way out. After nearly thirty minutes of steadily moving downward, they reached the street, pushed their way onto the street, and raced toward the plaza. As he walked onto the plaza, John was confused by a large reddish spray across the concrete and what looked to be a bundle of paint covered rags. Slowly his brain deciphered what he was seeing and he turned and ran. As he neared a side street, a low rumble filled the air, distant at first, then building until his entire world was a defining roar. He turned and watched as Tower Two crumbled in slow motion. And as the building fell, a choking cloud of plaster rushed toward him faster than he could run. Blackness covered him and he fought to breath in the thick plaster. When the light slowly returned, John started to walk. He heard Tower One fall, but his mind was too shocked to totally comprehend it. He started to go back to the hotel, but it, too, was gone. John wandered for the next ten hours. He had no cell phone (it was back at the hotel) and no way to let his wife and son know he was alive. When he finally was able to place a call, he had no words to tell them what he had witnessed.
Three thousand miles away, in Clovis, California, Dave McDonald, the CEO of Pelco, Inc. (Pelco makes all those surveillance cameras we see everywhere) was deeply affected by the overwhelming loss of firefighters, law enforcement officers, soldiers, and the innocent passengers of the fated air craft. He resolved to help in any way he could. His company supplied the cameras that where initially used in the search of the rubble.
But Dave wanted to do more. He decided to build a memorial to those who sacrificed their lives. But he wanted to let the friends and families of the victims know that California cared about their lost loved ones and he wanted to honor those victims be remembering their families. So he invited survivors their families, and the families of those who had been lost, to attend the dedication ceremony at his expense. Dave ultimately paid the way for 1,150 New York Police Officers, Firefighters, Port Authority Officers and others to fly to Fresno via a chartered Boeing 747 and other commercial flights. A huge dedication ceremony was planned with California Highway Patrol, Fresno Sheriff and Fresno Police officers, Clovis Police officers and various California government officials and celebrities. The general public was invited. The ceremony on March 13th was a time for remembrance. Pelco continues to maintain a museum on site of artifacts and photos from the terrorist attacks.
Today it was only fitting that Kenny and I went to the Pelco Memorial and witnessed the laying of a wreath to honor those who lived through that day and those who died that day, never knowing why or who was behind it. My prayers are with them all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Identity Theft Alert

As many of you know, there has been a huge surge in identity theft over the past few years. Studies have shown that every person in the United States and Canada will have their personal information compromised at some point of their lives and some folks will suffer serious financial losses.
Dan recently told me about one of the latest concerns in the law enforcement community. It involves credit or debit cards and the use of a small, handheld device called a "card reader" very similar to the one pictured here.

The card reader plugs into a PDA or cell phone. The thief makes a deal with an employee of a retail or service business such as a waitress, retail clerk, or gas station attendant.

The typical scenario is as follows: The waitress brings the bill to the table, then tells the customer that she will take payment to the front when the customer is ready. The customer takes his credit card out of his wallet, hands it to the waitress, who then walks away. On her way to the cash register, she swipes the card through the card reader, which in turn stores all of the information from the magnetic strip on the credit card. The credit card is then charged and returned to the unsuspecting customer. He puts the card back into his wallet, totally unaware that it has now been compromised. At the end of the shift, the waitress meets the thief who pays her $25 or more for each card swiped. He then makes a duplicate card using hotel key blanks and uses it at gasoline stations or other locations which don't require a PIN number. The spending spree continues until the theft is discovered (usually when the billing statement arrives) and the original account is closed. In the meantime, the thief has had ample time to put significant purchases on the account.

Prevention is the key. No matter how many times you have been to a restaurant, store, service station, etc., NEVER allow your credit card to be taken out of your sight. Personally carry it to the cash register and watch as it is swiped through that business's card reader. Insist on a receipt and write the name of the cashier on that receipt. If unauthorized transactions do occur, those receipts will assist law enforcement in tracing back to the time of the compromise.

The bottom line is we all must be very careful of our personal information in the age of microchips, scanners, bluetooth technology and micro-processors.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Fourteenth Square

This square is the one I worked while on the road. The pattern is from The Great North American Afghan book. It is a combination of various Aran patterns which require careful concentration to avoid crossing cables the wrong way.
It also has lots and lots of bobbles which gives it a lot of texture. I was concerned that it was going to be slightly larger than the twelve inch square called for by the pattern but its final measurements was an acceptable 12 1/4 inches square. What a relief! I really did not want to re-knit it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Road Trip

Each year, Dan and I plan several "getaway" weekends. Everyone in our family looks forward to them. Justin gets to spend time with his friends, Kenny gets to spend the weekend with his grandmother, and Dan and I get a chance to spend time alone together.
Since Dan I and I both enjoy history and antiques, we chose to visit Humboldt County, California. Humboldt County is a county located on the northwest coast of California on the Pacific Ocean. It is about a eight hour drive from the Fresno area, so we had to leave early. The drive took us through San Francisco, up the Coastal Highway and through the coastal redwood forests.
These trees are truly amazing. There are so tall and thick in places that they block out the light of the sky. The dominant trees in coastal redwood forests range from several hundred years to over two thousand years. These forests are truly ancient. Their appearance has changed very little over time. Only a couple of trees per acre, per century need to appear to sustain the population.

Dan and I stopped at one of the Scenic Vista point to get a closer look. That's the back of our car near the base of one of the trees which gives you a sense of their immense size.

Situated along the spectacular Northern California coastline 280 miles north of San Francisco is the City of Eureka. The city is bordered on one side by beautiful and functional Humboldt Bay, and on the other by mountains lush with giant redwood.

Eureka has a population of around 28,000 people. Established in 1850, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Landmarks as Historical Landmark No. 477, It offers all the charm of a European village. Beautifully-restored buildings dating to the 1800s make up the downtown shopping area comprised of several blocks. Within an easy walk is the incredible Victorian Carson Mansion, one of the most photographed structures in the world.

The Carson Mansion was constructed in 1884-1885. It is a three story, eighteen room structure with a tower and basement. The house was designed by the Newsom Brothers of San Francisco, well-known architects throughout California. Perfectly situated to the south of his lumber mill, the Carson Mansion has become a local landmark.

The mansion is a fairy tale like structure, with gables, turrets, cupolas, complex windows, porches and pillars. It is adorned with Stick-Eastlake characteristics. The wide porches with large ornamental pillars make for a grand entrance. A complex combination of gables, turrets, cupolas, and pillars constitutes the exterior of the Mansion. The second story balcony has wrought iron framework with the Masonic Order insignia combined with his initials, W.C.

To the west of the Mansion sits another grand Queen Anne. This home was built in 1889 by William and Sarah as a wedding present to their son John Milton Carson. This house was also designed by the Newsom Brothers. The Queen Anne fa├žade is dominated by a large domed turret, so characteristic of the style. Layering, spindle work, and surface undulation also help to define this home as Queen Anne.

The pink and white color of the home has endeared itself to locals as the “Pink Lady.” The clustering of these two landmark Victorians at the foot of Second and M Streets, certainly helps to define the boundaries of Eureka’s Old Town which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Twenty miles to the south of Eureka is the town of Ferndale. Ferndale was the model for the small town under siege in the movie "Outbreak" starring Dustin Hoffman, Renee Russo and Cuba Gooding. Ferndale is known for well-preserved Victorian buildings. In fact, the complete town is California Historical Landmark No. 883 in part due to the Victorian structures. This is view of Main Street. The blue building on the left was built in 1901 as a commercial Victorian called the S.H. Paine Building.
This building was built in the Eastlake-Stick style in 1896 for P.F. Hart. It has been at various times a stagecoach stop, a saloon, a gambling hall, a house of prostitution and an art gallery.
Another famous Ferndale landmark was built in 1898 as the New York Cash Store in the Eastlake-Stick style. This building was designed by T.J. Frost, Architect.
At the corner of Main Street and Ocean is The Victorian Inn. It was originally built as the Ira Russ Bank Building in a style described as Eastlake-Stick. It was also designed by T.J. Frost in 1891. This building can clearly be seen in the movie "Outbreak" as it is the backdrop for the "hospital" in the script.

There is so much to see that it is hard to get any knitting done. However, I do have another square of the afghan nearly completed and should be able to finish it by tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Thirteen Square

This is what I did when I couldn't work on the computer. I picked out a fairly intricate pattern out of the The Great American Aran Afghan and I knit.
Contrary to the opinions of the knit critics in the house, this in NOT a pineapple.
Nor is it an decorated Faberge' egg on a pedestal. (What goes on in the mind of an 11 year old anyway?)
It's a fish swimming through the water! It's also one more square completed on the afghan. Twenty seven more to go!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Coke (and Root Beer Slushies) are bad for Computer!

It is amazing how much we take for granted until it is not around. Take, for instance, my laptop computer.
With the advent of microchips and Centrino processors, the lowly laptop evolved from a expensive plaything with limited capability to a powerhouse that competes easily with unwieldy desktop models. About four years ago, I made a decision to switch from a desktop to a laptop as my personal computer. I have been very happy with the decision. My computer goes with me to court, to seminars, up to Washington, on airplanes, in cars, and trains. Last February, I upgraded to a new Hewlett-Packard Pavilion Entertainment PC. It literally has most of my life packed into its hard drives.
So imagine this tranquil scene. I am sitting at the kitchen table typing on the computer. Justin and Kenny burst through the front door with a surprise for everyone. They had stopped at the local A&W and brought Root Beer Slushies home for everyone. Since it was 105 °F (40 °C ) in Fresno, the prospect of a icey drink was a welcome treat.
Kenny reached into the paper bag the boys had used to transport the drinks in the car, and grasped my Slushie by the rim of the cup lid. He then started to pass it over the computer to my right hand. Just as he was directly over the open keyboard, the lid pulled off the rim of the cup and the entire drink cascaded into the laptop!
I jumped up and quickly unplugged the computer. But the damage was done. I watched in stunned dismay as root beer slushie poured out of every port in the computer. The laptop made a sort of a sizzling gasp, then went dark.
Kenny immediately started a mantra of "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry..." as he tried to wipe up the spreading puddle. I tried to soothe him and deal with the electronic catastrophe at the same time.
The next day the computer was off to Hewlett-Packard for repair. I had purchased the "3 year - all inclusive" extended warranty on advice of my husband when I bought the computer (he envisioned that I would drop the computer, not test its capability to mimic a sponge).
The repaired laptop arrived Saturday. I plugged in the computer and opened the screen. Apparently the repairman was not amused at the sticky mess underneath the keyboard.
I spent the weekend reloading all my programs and downloading by backup disks. I’m back in business!