Happy New Year!

Project in Progress: Neck Warmer

Despite the start of winter, I'm still working on my knitted neck warmer (with yarn from Portland, OR!) Just as my summer scarf was ready for winter, does anyone want to place bets on my winter neckwarmer being ready for spring?

I laughed out loud (which collected a few interested glances, since I was on the train) when I saw this picture online with a neck warmer pattern. Despite the coziness of their necks, these fellows still seem pretty cold. And odd. Really odd.

I went with a different pattern, from Knitty Keen, not only because her model (and husband) looks far more cheery. I look forward to adding my own neckwarmer to the album...maybe in July.

Favorite Things

One of my favorite things is a bagel that's so big and doughy that it's cooked shut.

I think in general, the smaller the middle of the bagel, the better.
No bagel hole is best. Makes you wonder if they shouldn't just purposely sell them like this.

If it's also an everything bagel? My cup overflowth!

Chris' Craft

Since dinner was cooking hands-free in the crock pot on Christmas day, I was open to work on little projects in my work room.

First, there was the Gingerbread Man Ornament. With a terrifically wicked streak, since he has already been nibbled.

It looked even more sinister when I was pinning him together.I think he might work very well as a little wine bottle topper hostess gift, too. My second project was a living room couch pillow, of fabric I picked up on the swap table at a Chicago Craft Social. The black part of the design is velvety! A new cell phone holder made of felt, which should help with the Droid's habit of ejecting its battery door every other day. The lace also came from the swap table. I hope this makes it easier to find my cellphone in my bag too.

Christmas Dinner

I'm a little suspicious of crock pots. That whole "turn it on, leave the house all day and come home to dinner" just seems to spell housefire to me. Come home to the fire department dousing the final embers of your furniture, maybe.

Since we'd be home all day on Christmas, it seemed an ideal day to keep an eye on the crock pot and test the faith that homemakers across the country put into this appliance. Pot roast was our Christmas meal. Well, really kind of beef stroganoff, since we put it over egg noodles.

It's hard to make brown meat, in brown mushroom sauce look appetizing in a photo, but here it was cooking away. To brighten the plate, brocolini and green beans.To brighten the table, little Christmas balls and a favorite little family Christmas angel. (She's supposed to be holding a candle, but...eh, it was just the two of us.

Ship's Summary

Our last stop of our cruise, and my last post on the matter, centers in Honduras. Our excursion this time was to visit with monkeys.

There was a beautiful scenic drive through lush green vistas. A friend told me he'd read that Honduras, and Isla Roatan where we were, is a beautiful untouched land with the exception of when cruise ships stop to disgorge their passengers. That was us.

Being our last day of cruising I confess to feeling very cattled about, stuffed into little vans with the same people I'd been trying to find mental space from on the ship. Then being toured around in a small little circle through a park made me a little impatient because we were really there to see some little monkeys! Over an Indiana Jones-like rope bridge.They were mischievous and we were advised to remove sunglasses and jewelry, else they be stolen. Monkeys also have about a 3-second attention span so they hopped about quickly. We had a terrific lunch afterwards on the balcony of an open-air restaurant and a nice view of the mountains, and the ship in port.

That was our last stop on the cruise before our day at sea sailing back to Florida. It was Monday at work that I realized how relaxing the week away had been because there hadn't be a single headache or any tension in my shoulders.

As to whether we might cruise again, I'm not sure if we fit the character of the serial "cruiser" but this was a very nice way to get a taste of places that we might visit again, for a longer time and maybe not accompanied by the other 2,000 people on the ship. The benefits were having everything set in terms of where we'd sleep, that'd we'd always have a good meal at night, and how we were to get to each stop.

Merry Christmas!

Favorite things about Christmas: shiny ornaments, houses lit up at the darkening time of the year, an unexpected stocking surprise, peppermint bark, and everyone finding a moment to breathe and take in the tree, or maybe the snowing falling quietly on the cars outside.

Peace on Animal Earth

If this doesn't make your heart go soft on Christmas Eve... then expect coal in your stocking tonight!

An adorable Chapter 2 to the Unlikely Friends from National Geographic!

Coming Up: Roses

I have not even finishing recounting the tales from our last trip, when it's soon time to start packing for the next. We are going to the Rose Bowl to see Ohio State play Oregon. As many of you know Jason's blood not only runs scarlet like the rest of us, but there's surely Ohio State grey in there too.

I am going for the parade (I love flowers!), the energy of the game ("It's older than the Superbowl!" Jason exclaims), and the promise of a visit to the Getty Art Museum.

Our Grand Marshall will be "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.I hope it's not an insult, but I'm sorry to have missed Kermit in his turn leading the parade. Since the parade is broadcast on HGTV on New Year's Day, as well as many of the network channels -- making it nearly impossible to avoid -- look for me in the crowd!

Inherited Wealth

The new car decision brought up a debate that I think people split adamantly 50/50 over: leasing versus owning. At one point Jason insisted, "You know my dad's as cheap as it gets, and he believes in leasing!"

I countered, "You never met my dad, but boy, was he frugal - and we owned every car."

Over lunch today with coworkers we were musing about the habits you inherit from your parents, like attitudes towards debt, and point of view on what time to leave for the airport.I realized that our dad was so thrifty and disdainful of debt that when he taught me and Juliet how to play Monopoly, he never mentioned that you could mortgage your properties. Landing on Park Place spelled financial collapse to rival Lehman Brothers if Juliet had hotels. Even if I owned the entire railroad system, if I had no cash, it was over.

I think we didn't figure out the mortgages well into adolescence.

I Do Live Under a Rock

Because I only just read about this viral video. (And I read about it on my commute to work in the Wall Street Journal!)

Then other day, Jason and I heard the same story on NPR about this band, Rey Fresco, and we both thought they were really cool. Time was, I thought anyone who was just hearing about something from NPR was clearly old!

I may be changing my position.

Snerkling in Belize

This is our very best swimsuit photo from the cruise. And by far, the cheapest photo we bought the whole trip. We quickly learned that a primary revenue stream for cruise ships consists of snapping your photo while disembarking for excursions - once three times! - as well as at dinner, on the deck, on the water slide, and well, everywhere else. Posed portraits are an evening activity in and of itself. An after dinner entertainment was not only looking for our own photos, but sometimes mischieviously snickering at those of others, or pointing out folks we'd met.But once the ship stopped at our most anticipated port-of-call, we were eager for snorkeling in Belize. We'd heard much of the beauty of this country as well as the quality of the diving.

On the boat out to our snorkeling site, the guide briefed us on our life jackets and fins. "Snerklers! This is your life jacket!" His accent totally bastardized the pronunciation of the word "snorkelers" which became increasingly funny, since it was how he repeatedly addressed us during the orientation.

"Now Snerklers!" He called our attention for life jacket strapping procedures, "Snerklers, this strap goes up between your legs. Snerklers, this what we call the wedgie strap!" Giggles. And a running joke for the rest of cruise.

Snerklers waiting to diveSnerklers in the waterAfter snerkeling for about an hour or so, we were offered rum punches and ferried over to a little private isle for beach time. This was the picturesque relaxation that every vacation brochure offers. Me & Jason at the beach bar. For future reference, a slushy drink with tequila in the middle of day is not such a terrific idea. But I did have a lovely nap before dinner.

What Did I Do Without These?

A brief product endorsement, especially for anyone who spends anytime traveling: GoToobs.
They are terrific for any product that doesn't come in the TSA-approved size.

Previously, I'd been "interviewing" the free shampoo and lotion bottles at hotels to see if any might be repurposed for filling with my favorite hair product. Remembering that the bottle was not filled with shower gel as the label suggested wasn't too hard, but it was a chore to squeeze my product into the very narrow opening.

I'd tried buying a plastic travel bottle from the drugstore designed for this purpose, but it leaked and was very hard to push out the product.

GoToobs were an ephiphany. They have nice big openings, are really squishy for pushing out liquids or gels, and even have a suction cup to hang onto the mirror in bathrooms. (Haven't needed this feature yet.) There's also a dial to turn to help you remember whether the contents are shampoo, lotion, etc.

Maybe there's enough time to make these a stocking stuffer? They are terrific. I love them almost as much as my Pan Am bag.

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!

R.I.P. "Baby A4." And we are taking to the road with our new vehicle.

"Baby A4" was so-called because I purchased it at just the same time good friends had their first baby. The new mom was explaining that any time they heard a gurgle or noise from the baby's room they'd rush to peek in to make sure the little one was ok. Without thinking of the potential insult of comparing a new car to a new baby I said, "Me too! Whenever I hear any noise on the street, I pop out of bed and peer out the blinds to make sure my new baby is ok!"

But Baby A4 is gone, sooner than I'd hoped. Le Roi est mort.
But new to the family is our VW Tiguan, a crossover in black. Vive le Roi.

Stopping in Mexico

One of the most anticipated and eventually most-loved stops of our tour was the Mayan ruins of Tulum.
It was a wickedly hot day, and our tour guide took a painfully slow, deliberate pace to his tour. He was kind and informative, but standing in the heat I often wondered, like an impatient East Coaster, if he might just get to the point. "My friends, amigos, may I share something with you? May I tell you something of my country? Of my people?" "YES! What is it!?? Tell me!!" I silently demanded in my head.
We enjoyed watching our fellow tourists chase the iguanas and lizards for photos.
When the tour was over we had the choice to head out for lunch, or down to the beach. I asked Jason for his preference and his reply, "I could do with a splash," made me laugh.
One of the very peak moments of our vacation was climbing down to the beach and splashing into the clear blue waves of the cool ocean. It was the best. If it hadn't been for the need to get back to the bus, and the outstanding matter of lunch, I could have stayed there all day. The waves were tall and salty, but yet perfect for washing off our salty sweat.
We might go back to the "Mexican Riviera" sometime in the future.

iGo to the supermarket

Since the car fairy did not leave a nice new vehicle with a big red bow in our garage while we were away (although I confess I haven't actually checked yet), I signed up for iGo.
iGo is a car sharing program where you go to a website, find the car nearest you and sign it out for a couple hours. City folk may know about this, but my guess is that it's not practical in all locales.
I drove myself to the supermarket as well as to Target to replace a bum strand of Christmas lights. After a week without a car it felt like freedom! Although I've already decided that it may have eliminated a Toyota Matrix from consideration as my next permanent vehicle. Mighty touchy brakes. Jason agrees, since he is forced to be a passenger since he can't remember his driver's license number from three years ago in Ohio. (A requirement for iGo participation.) He accuses me of being the only driver who accelerates through turns like I am on the race course. It's more fun that way!

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

If only this rooster in Grand Cayman could have advised us, we might have come home from our cruise much wiser.
Instead, while walking around town we learned that a primary objective of cruising is shopping. To the extent that there is a channel on the tv in the room with our cruise Shopping Director coaching us on the preferred merchants and how to best negotiate. I confess, we smugly mocked until Jason was admiring a watch for purchase and she happened past us. Before we knew it she was beckoning for the manager, seizing the watch in hand and heading to the back with our salesperson. We shrugged at each other and concluded that Jason might be buying a new watch.
We later sought air conditioned comfort, and fruity drinks inside, before heading back to the ship. An easy first day ashore.

Bon Homage

Instead of 'bon voyage' we say 'bon homage' I guess for our return home today. (I know that's not even near correct!) There are many pictures to share, as well as the thoughts of the first time "cruiser."Tonight, although I am looking forward to the comfort of my own bed, I will miss not being greeted by a cheeky towel animal. Here are a few scenes from our bon voyage last week, including stone crab legs at my Aunt Marion & Uncle Glenn's Tampa kitchen table the night before.Luggage waiting to board.
The view from the top of the ship.
The waiting deck chairs on the lido deck.

Physics: More Useful than Calculus

There were two subjects I loathed in high school, two paths of academic pursuit that I was dragged down only by the belief that my college applications would look weak without them: Physics and Calculus. And I kind of thought that once I got into the college of my choice I could just erase the nightmares of trying to understand X approaching the limit of Y.

But as my friend (with a car) and I were pulling the old maps, ice scraper, and CDs out of my crumpled car in the tow lot I got my first daylight look at the other two cars involved in my accident. The first SUV that caused the rear-ending chain reaction accident was entirely smashed in front, with the driver's airbag deployed. My car, on the end of the chain...well, you've seen it. But the SUV in the middle, the one that was hit and then smashed me, looked like it hadn't even been in the same accident. The back bumper was damaged, and the front bumper was broken... but it was really minimal.

My friend and I marveled at this. Was it because the Jeep SUV was just so massive and sturdy? Or... was it Physics?

So I consulted the same person that I would have asked if we were in high school study hall. James explains it as follows:

You know those desk toys with the clicky silver balls? You know how you lift a ball at one end and drop it so it swings into the stationary balls and then the last ball on the chain flies up? Well, sadly, that's basically what happened to you. As for the ball (or SUV) in the middle of the chain there are 2 pertinent properties that effect what happens to it and you. The first is how rigid it is. In the desktop toy the balls are very solid, which means they transfer force very efficiently (those bastards). You can imagine that if you replaced one of the middle balls with a very soft, foam ball, it would collapse when hit and the ball at the end would barely move.

The second thing to consider is how freely the balls can move. Imagine if you nailed one of the middle balls in place so it couldn't swing at all. Again, the ball at the end would barely move (this one's a bit harder to imagine because in the desk toy the middle balls don't appear to move, but trust me, if you nailed one down the ball at the end wouldn't move).

So with that in mind, we can figure out what happened to you. We know that SUVs are rigid, so that just leaves the question of brakes. Sadly it looks like the SUV had the brakes only partially applied at the time of impact (or the brakes weren't strong enough). If the driver had their foot firmly on the pedal and the emergency break applied then you would have been spared from most of the impact (and the SUV would have taken more of the impact).

Or to directly answer your question, yes, most of the force was transferred through the SUV and into your poor car. This is partially due to the middle car being the strongest and partially due to it being able to move (relatively) freely.

Turns out Physics has real-life applications, unfortunately pertinent in an unhappy way. At least Calculus has not come back to haunt me. Unless calculating how leasing a car works will be more complicated than I can imagine. (I'll hopefully know tomorrow whether the insurance company is totalling my car.)

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