Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you and yours are well and enjoying each others company.

Friday, 21 December 2007

2008 Knitting Resolutions

I don't normally make New Year's resolutions - I am much more of a "I should do ______" and then I resolve to do it - regardless of if it is the middle of the year or December. But there are a few things that I would like to do in terms of crafting, and since this subject has been a subject of other people's blog posts (started with Texas Purl Gurl) I will post my fiber related resolutions.

This year I resolve to:
1. Learn to crochet
2. Knit a sweater that I will wear
3. Learn to spin a consistent thickness on my drop spindles
4. Use my knitting magazines/books for patterns more often (I think I stole this from someone... oh well, it works for me too)

Non-knitting my resolution is to keep in better contact with people, both those in town and out of town, in the country and out of the country.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Christmas Ornament

This was just finished and so before I forget to post...

It was an empty basket on our tree, now it is a full knitting basket on our tree. It contains a hat, two scarves, two small skeins of one type of yarn, and a ball of the other. There is a spare set of needles - so three sets of needles, which are toothpicks with beads glued on the ends.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pictures From Yesterday's post

Blogger decided to let me upload the pictures I talked about yesterday. This first image shows how far I got before ripping back - I had forgotten chart A completely.

This second picture shows the lumpy bumpy nature of my fabric - I was okay with this since these mittens are my first stranded knitting project with the exception of the Lindy Bag.

And here you can see how far I ripped back. Zoie was staying still for a bit so I included her in the image. It is a bit rare to have her still while you photograph her... And a kitty always adds a nice atmosphere to a picture.

And this final picture is to add some festive cheer to the blog. Ellie likes to get the ornaments sometimes so we keep the soft non-breakable ones near the bottom. Happy holidays everyone.

Monday, 17 December 2007


I finally started on my Strikke-along project. It is NHM #3 from Selbuvotter by Terri Shea. I knit quite a lot of it yesterday as you can see. Well you would be able to see if Blogger was behaving. I will try tomorrow, and you will see also how much I had to rip out. I call it practice (and a bit of colour work addiction). You see, I missed a whole chart (that had 5 rows and was small-ish) and while I was prepared to live with the uneven-ness of the fabric, missing a whole chart was too large of an error for me to accept. So I took pictures and ripped the sucker back to the ribbing. The second time around is going quite well, still uneven though I think it is less so then the first try. A problem that bugs me even more is the uneven stitches. I'm not quite sure what I am doing wrong but I have to go back every now and then with a needle and pull the stitches up so that there is a crisp boarder where it is needed. And some stitches are too large/small. But I will keep knitting this pair, and when I finish them I will likely start another. They are addicting, and living in a place like Calgary you can always use a couple pairs of mittens.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

And Now For Some Knitting

I've had these scarfs done for awhile now but not blocked. I completed most of the two scarfs while at the SFN conference - thank goodness that I could knit on the planes too. It made the actual travelling bit go by very fast. The hat was recently completed. This means that my final thing to do is ********** for my mom. I don't know that these will be sent in time to get to the recipients by Christmas but they WILL get them before the end of January.

The first is for my husband's Nana, she crocheted me a stocking for Christmas so this is my thank you to her

Branching Out Scarf from Knitty
Rowan Kidsilk Haze

This one if for my mother-in-law

Razor Lace Scarf from 101 One Skein Projects
Rowan Kidsilk Haze

And this is a hat for my husband (we are big Firefly/Joss Whedon fans). I don't do stealth knitting so he has tried it on etc.

modified Jayne Cobb hat
Lamb's Pride Worsted (held double)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

But is it Scientific?

No. The study of psychotherapy, paranormal events, and spirituality - to date - are not scientific. By its very definition science is repeatable objective observation of a phenomenon. And those topics do not easily lend themselves to an objective study. The nature of these topics there is some undefineable quality, something we know is there but cannot measure. Does that mean that they are less valid or true - nope. But in our current culture it seems that we value science over just about everything else. And unfortunately in my area of work and study, if I don't order my values this way I tend to be thought of as someone who is in the wrong field. One of the professors even said that yesterday at the talk - the presenter had people who believed in a higher power or something bigger than themselves to put up there hand, and some of us (me included) did. And the prof essentially said that although our beliefs were up to us, we should think hard about whether we were in the right field. I know I am where I need to be - perhaps not the right area of research, thus I am switching, but in academia. I feel a sort of calling - I am good at what I do and when I'm in the right lab I feel really passionate about what I do. When teaching I get a sort of excitement that I don't get from other work interactions. So the professor is wrong - I am in the right field and these beliefs can co-exist if we want them to.

I hope this makes sense because I am quite tired. I didn't sleep very well or solidly last night. But now I am going to a PhD thesis defense that could last 2 hours. I am glad - my job is to sit and listen and show my support of the student (who is a friend/acquaintance).

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The Gift of Physics

I'm going to go a bit philosophical now, just to warn you.

Today I heard a very brave and smart man speak about spirituality to a group of neuroscientists. We invited him to speak, knowing that what he had to say would be difficult to accept, much less understand. He knew this too - we are a group of skeptics who have different beliefs - and this is why I call him brave (though you could see that he was nervous). He spoke of a mind and a soul where most in the room believe that the mind is just another word for brain and that human existance can be reduced to neural impulses in the brain. His arguements were interesting, if a bit poorly supported by our standards. I loved his lecture and I have never seen someone generate so much discussion even after he left the room. It was an automatic reaction by the majority of listeners to devalue what he had said and find the holes in his theories so that they could go on with their beliefs (there were some holes but perhaps they were not as critical as his general message of communciation). But the amazing thing is that it meshed perfectly with the book I am reading right now - and even more amazing - with the chapter I am reading. The book is Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Why Medicine is Not Enough by Elio Frattaroli, M.D.

I bought the book out of an interest about why my current mode of depression treatment is working as well as a traditional antidepressant therapy (which I had been using for at least 8 years). What concerns me is not that I was treated with drugs but that I didn't even know that there were other options. These options were likely not presented to me because of a lack of research (as opposed to a lack of efficacy as I now see) which is another matter that pisses me off - that there is no funding for alternative treatments because there is no money in treating people with vitamin C - no patent is possible. But the book isn't what I expected - it is a lot about psychotherapy and Freudian techniques, which I am highly skeptical about. I am a hard core scientist - we are among the most skeptical people you will meet. But dispite feeling that I was reading mumbo jumbo I have continued reading the book - if only to force myself to see a different view (another supposed quality of the majority of scientists: an open mind - not that all of us have this quality...). But in reading the book I find that some parts are speaking to me about life and how we approach problems.

Frattaroli speaks about how "the end is in the beginning". By this he means, if I understand correctly, that what we see in the end depends on how we approach the problem. An example he uses that is outside of psychotherapy is a physics problem (the gift of physics to humanity). It is the phenomenon of light. Depending on how we choose to observe it, light can appear to be made of particles or it can appear to be made of waves. If we only studied light in one manner we would only see one quality of light - perhaps that it is made of waves. If having studied it this way we are presented with the opinion that light is made of particles we would then reject the opinion because of course light is not made of particles, it is made of waves and we know that. So by looking at neuron firing in the brain we see what we expect to see - that the brain is the foundation of conciousness and that there is no internal world - there is nothing that cannot be explained by neuronal firing. But what if the problem is that we are looking at the brain and seeing the light waves when there are also light particles in the brain? What if we see the physical part of existence and not the spiritual (not necessairly religious though) part of existence. If you think about it neuroscientists have not proven that the brain is all that there is, but they use the arguement that we can't see or measure spirtuality - there is no proof that it is there thus it isn't there. Well that is a false presumption if I ever heard one. And in the end we may not be able to measure it now but in the future we might. Before microscopes we didn't see cells - now no one doubts that cells exist.

I hope that I am more than neural firing in a highly evolved moist sack. And I am religious, so I feel that there is more. This can't be all that there is. But perhaps that is just the neural firings in my brain telling me that. This is another point that Frattaroli makes, and perhaps where I will end today with my psychological philosophical ramblings, if neuroscientists can dismiss religion as a shadow of neural firings, what is to say that science is not a shadow of neural firings. If we cannot trust the shadows of one, why should we trust the shadows of the other? I trust them both, I think. But what we need is communication between and within departments - more guest lectures - to open our minds. Just because what we research is easier to measure doesn't mean that the other research is not as good or worthless.

It is a hard position to be in. I am surrounded by people who were trying to be open to the presentation but who reacted at least a little defensively. And I feel torn between what I know and what I feel. What I have proof for and what I don't have proof for. You don't talk about God to the majority of neuroscientists - it is unscientific. So there is this dichotomy of what I show people at work everyday and what I generally keep to myself because I don't have explanations for the latter.

I liked the presentation and wanted to thank the guy personally but he left very quickly after the question period. After he spoke my brain was sore, the stretchings have given me a lot to think about. Any comments on todays post?

PS: I have been knitting I will tell you about it another time with pictures. But breifly, I have blocked the two scarfs for Christmas knitting. Knit a Calorimetry and a Palindrome hat and have started another Jayne Cobb hat for Cory because the last one is too big and so is going to a friend that has a larger head than Cory. I will write to you soon I hope.