Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Brainwashing Has Begun

Lookee here:

That's Sr. Jr.'s knitting! On Sunday I took him over to the temple for his bar mitzvah tutoring. Normal Sunday School wasn't in session because it was Mitzvah Day, when people show up to do various volunteer projects like making sandwiches for the homeless or packaging food up for food banks. At one table, there was yarn, needles, and some 8 by 8 inch squares -- I knew where I was going. The knitters were making squares that would be joined up to make blankets to go to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. I sat and knitted while Jr. Jr. whined for a while. Then a little girl from one of his classes showed up, made googly eyes at him, and said she wanted to learn how to knit. All of a sudden, Jr. Jr. thought it would be a fun idea to knit. So we got him started. That didn't go very well.

When Sr. Jr. was done with his tutoring, he came to find me and decided he wanted to knit, too! So I got him going, and he did pretty well. He decided he'd like to keep doing it, to knit himself some hats and socks, and maybe make a felted kitty blanket or bed. I'm not going to discourage this.

When we got home, the kids ran straight for the stash and tried to get all grabby hands with the Wollmeise. Ha! At first I found some leftover Lamb's Pride for Sr. Jr. to use, but the fuzzy single ply wasn't easy to work with. Finally, I gave him a partial skein from the sweater I'm working on, and he went to town.

At one point, Jr. Jr. asked him to play a game, and Sr. Jr.'s response was "I'm knitting!" There were definitely some moments of frustration, and the 20 stitches he started out with have morphed into 28, but the stitches look pretty good. Neither one of us knows whether he'll keep going with this, but it's been fun to share.

Speaking of the sweater I'm working on, I've finished sleeve two and cast on for the sides:

Most of the major pieces of the bar mitzvah planning are done (for now), so I feel a little more relaxed. When summer hits and the actual date is closer, I'm sure I'll be frantic, but at least I can chill for now.

Meditations on E-Book Pricing

There was an interesting article in last week's New Yorker about e-books, the Kindle, and the iPad, mostly concerning the pricing of e-books. Apparently, when Amazon first introduced the Kindle it was selling e-books to the public for less than it was paying the publishers for the books. This established a price point in consumers' minds -- e-books = $9.99. As a Kindle owner, I can say that I thought $9.99 seemed a bit high, but acceptable. In my mind, e-books were nearly pure profit for publishers. E-books eliminate the physical costs of making and selling books, including the physical costs of materials, the labor costs, the costs to warehouse, ship, and accept returns on all the books. E-books also eliminate the uncertainty over how many to publish, since they're downloaded on demand. The article confirmed for me that publishers eat a lot of costs over unsold books -- over $5 of the cost of a hardback book is to counteract chargebacks from unsold stock.

According to the article, the publishers weren't happy about Amazon's move. They, of course, want to charge more for e-books. It was really fascinating to see how much of the cost of a book went to physical materials, chargebacks, etc. It only confirmed for me that e-books should NOT be priced higher.

Publishers: you will lose customers if you raise prices. I'm an avid reader. I spend a lot of money on books. When prices are low, I buy more. I'm more willing to take a risk on a book that seems iffy to me if the price isn't too high. It's one thing to charge a lot of money for a physical book. I can re-sell the book, lend it to friends (which costs you sales), donate it to the library or to a book fair. I cannot do that with an e-book. It is mine and mine alone. I am not willing to pay a lot of money for it, knowing how much of the price is pure profit to you. I am not against you earning money on your products, not at all. But there is a point at which the cost will cause me to purchase fewer books. That will hurt you and your authors more than lowering your prices.

Think about it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Remember the little seeds I planted, pictured in my last post? Well, they're springing up like mad:

I'm sure it's just a little bit strange that I keep wandering in there, rubbing my hands together, cackling and saying, "Hahahaha! I'm fattening you up so I can EAT YOU!"

I finished the first half of Elegant Empire:

Now all I do is make another one of these, Kitchener the two back portions together, and do a button band around the front and back neck. I hope the second half will go quicker, but I doubt it, given everything that's going on.

I've got the restaurant for Sr. Jr.'s bar mitzvah lined up, which is good, a relief, all that. Today I was going to go look at invitations. Alas, Jr. Jr. woke up with a sore throat and a fever, so I'm stuck at home. Apparently, he wasn't feeling well yesterday at school, but wouldn't tell me about it because he didn't want to miss his baseball game last night. To make it worse, he refused to wear a long sleeved shirt or sweatshirt under his jersey, even though it was cold and rainy, so he was out there shivering for two hours. While I admire his dedication to his team (they're 2-0!), I do wish common sense would pay him a visit.

I have a feeling that I'll be pulling out my hair, climbing the walls, and talking to people who aren't there by the time this bar mitzvah rolls around in August. By the time we get back from our trip afterward, I will *definitely* need a vacation.

Poor Mr. T will join me in my nervous breakdown, too, I suspect. He has been given a trial date on very short notice, so is working 16 hours a day at this point. It ruins Spring, basically, and will also keep me from going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Then he has another trial set for the Fall, smack in the middle of cyclocross season. So he's barely riding now, his Fall season is pre-screwed, and he's working like mad.

Look for some fun ranty posts from us as we get more and more stressed!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's April Already

::pokes head around corner:: Is it safe to come out now? No more snow? Are we done with the puking? I see sun. I see things blooming. It's 80 degrees. Whew. I think -- I hope -- the winter from hell is over.

We had a Spring Break which was not much of a break. We stayed here. I couldn't even get very much knitting done. But I do have things to show you, so all is not lost.

A little progress on Elegant Empire. You knit this one sideways, in two pieces. First you knit the sleeve, then you cast on stitches for the front and back and knit up one side, over the shoulder, and down the other. It's an interesting construction:

Yes, that's all I've managed to do. Sigh.

But I did start something else in the meantime. I wound up a skein of Wollmeise lace yarn because I was trading half of it with someone else for a half a skein of a different color (the skeins are so huge that you can get a nice sized shawl out of half a skein). Since I already had the yarn wound up, I went ahead and cast on for Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle, a pattern I've loved for a long time. It's a very easy knit, which suits me right now. I've just completed 4 repeats of the main pattern (8 are called for, but you can do more):

In real life, the color is a little more of a purpley red than the photo suggests.

I read a good book recently, too. It's The Girl With Glass Feet, by Ali Shaw. It's magical realism, but not cutesy magical realism. It's about a young woman who visits a remote island and finds her feet are turning glass, and the people who try to save her. The story moves along nicely, with interesting characters, but I really loved how the author played with the idea of glass as metaphor -- many metaphors, in fact. Some you think you know, like "heart of glass," for example. You read on, sure that you know what that means, metaphorically, making judgments of characters accordingly, until the narrator turns it around, and shows you another view. If you are turning to glass, do you need to be treated like glass? The first-time author is young (I think born in 1982, sob), but has a lot of promise.

And look:

We're getting ready to get the 2010 vegetable and herb patch up and running. We planted two different kinds of peas, sugar snap and sweet, as well as carrots, green beans, broccoli, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We'll just go ahead and plant the lettuces from seed when we transplant these. I've had good luck with lettuce growing from seed outside. We'll get some herb plants out, too. Sr. Jr. wants strawberries as well, but I don't know if we'll have room. Mmmm, memories of the fresh-from-the garden salads I had last summer are already making my mouth water...