March 2010


I haven’t posted in a week because I’ve been working frantically on some thesis research. I need some results that I can present next month in my conference presentation and not look like an idiot. Many of my activities that are not GIS-related have fallen by the wayside, including editing Chapter 3 and exercising. The one thing I have kept up with is my knitting with a few new projects on my needles.

I’ve been working on a Springtime Bandit scarf/shawl for a few weeks now, although I haven’t touched it the last few days. I’m on the last chart, so the end is near. Just need to finish it up so I know how much of that yarn I’ll have left. There should be at least one skein and probably most of another left. I’m thinking about using the rest of that yarn to make a pair of Rose’s Fingerless Mittens as a gift for a friend. I hunted down the pattern after seeing the last episode of Doctor Who season 2 this week.

While I’ve been watching Doctor Who with my husband (Netflix Watch Instantly has all 4 of the new seasons) I’ve been knitting a Clapotis.

This is a mini-Clapotis and not full-sized because I don’t have enough of the yarn for a full one. The pattern is simple once you get used to knitting on the diagonal and either increasing or decreasing every row. My favorite part is when I get to deliberately drop a stitch and unravel it down the scarf. I find that unraveling very cathartic.

Yesterday I started knitting an Urchin hat from the Fall 2007 Knitty. This hat is knit flat using short rows in 8 wedges. Once I looked up how to do a wrap & turn for the 5th time I haven’t had any problems with the pattern.

I have one and a half of the wedges finished, mostly while waiting for processes to finish in GIS. The green yarn on the end is the provisional cast on and will be taken off so I can use those stitches to graft the hat closed with the other end of the hat. The yarn is bulky, so it’s a very fast knit.

The Clapotis and Urchin will probably end up as gifts for friends. I’ve been thinking about what else I can make for the friends I’ll see while in Greece this summer. That’s more fun than thinking about restarting (for the 3rd time) the FLS I’m making for my mother. I’m trying to bribe myself into knitting that FLS  before I knit this Peasy sweater for myself. A few people have made it as a pullover, which I’m planning to do as well, so I can work on the bottom in the round. But I’m not even going to allow myself to buy the yarn before that darn FLS is finished. I just hope that I can buy the yarn and start the sweater before I leave for Greece in May, because I think it would be a great airplane knit, once I get to the stockinette portion.

I did fairly well with last week’s goals, except that editing Chapter 2 is taking much longer than expected. This week I’m switching up gears a bit because I need to focus more on research than writing because I’m presenting at a conference next month. With that in mind, here are this week’s goals:

  • Work on editing Chapter 3 (was Ch. 2 until reorganization last week) for an hour every day – If at all possible, I’d like to have this finished by the end of March.
  • GIS Projects: land cover classification, slope and elevation, and create validation file – all tasks I need to work on for the presentation next month.
  • Exercise 2 times this week – going to the gym Tuesday and either Thursday or Friday.
  • Knit Springtime Bandit – try to make progress.
  • Laundry – trip to landromat.

Hopefully this week goes well and I make good progress on my research so I can add it to the presentation.

Have you ever had a project that you’re excited at the beginning, but gradually you find it boring so you work on it less and less? This is the tale of one such project, my Lace Ribbon Scarf.

I purchased this gorgeous fingering weight silk and wool yarn over a year ago at my favorite local yarn store (it’s my favorite partly because I can walk to it, although the yarns and people there are awesome). I already had the lace ribbon scarf pattern in mind and had decided to also knit a matching beret (more on the beret later). This time last year, I was riding the bus to school at least 3 times a week, so I had plenty of knitting time. I had knitted about half of the scarf (1 skein), when I decided that I should knit the beret to make sure I had enough yarn for it. I knit the Reverie Beret once, but had to frog it because it was too small.

At that point I left for 2 months in Greece with the scarf in tow. I had other projects that occupied my knitting time while abroad (Ripples skirt, hats for my friends Vlassis and Gabitza, and my first 2 tries of the Razor Lace Cami which has since been frogged), so the Lace Ribbon languished. The scarf sat only half-way finished until this month when, flush with enthusiasm from successful completion of 2 projects during the Winter Olympics, I decided to finish the Lace Ribbon scarf and Reverie beret. The Lace Ribbon pattern is easily memorized and easy enough to work on while on the bus or watching TV.

Last night, while I was watching a Netflix video, I messed up a row. I probably could have tinked (unknit) back to where I messed up, but suddenly I was fed up with this scarf. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is nice and the scarf was looking good, but I was bored with knitting it. So I frogged the scarf.

All those months of knitting gone in half an hour.

And I don’t regret it.

I cast on for a Springtime Bandit with the now freed up yarn. And I’m loving it.

So farewell Lace Ribbon Scarf (and Reverie beret). Someday I may knit you, but probably not until I once again have long bus rides and the need for a super-easy pattern.

Today I’m going to write about the editing process to take a 1st draft and polish it into a 2nd draft. Just like with the writing process, I did some reading about editing to give myself guidelines for turning the first draft of thesis chapters 1 & 2 into a second draft I’m not afraid to give to my advisor.

Two books I found useful for outlining a process for editing were Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros and Edit Yourself. Write It Right included guidelines for making it through the editing process, including preparing to edit by identifying problem areas (mine include passive sentences, word repetition, and usage of which vs. that) and then creating a checklist to use while editing including all of those problem areas. Then you read the draft over many, many times including once for each item on the checklist. Here’s my editing steps and checklist.

As you can see, I even edited the editing steps, switching around steps 2 and 3.

The Edit Yourself book also includes a checklist of items to check for while editing (some of which I added to my checklist), but the most useful idea was to create a style sheet to ensure consistency in words and terms. This is something I hadn’t ever considered doing before, but can see will be very useful, especially since I deal with many Greek words that can be transliterated multiple ways (Iklaina vs. Iklena). Here’s my style sheet so far.

Of course, these steps will be backed up with grammar and style guides. There’s good old Strunk and White The Elements of Style (I have the 3rd edition). There’s also The Classic Guide to Better Writing. And where would I be without The Chicago Manual of Style (I have the 14th edition, but I think they’re up to 18 by now) and Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Thesis, and Dissertations.

With all of this in hand, I edited all 4 pages of Chapter 1 today (it’ll probably get beefed up after I finish the rest of the thesis and need to extensively revise the introductory chapter). I found editing those 4 pages to be just as exhausting as writing them in the first place, if not more so. I still have all of Chapter 2 to edit this week (substantially more than 4 pages) and it will be a struggle to get it all finished. I think after this, I’ll try to edit each section a few days after I write it to break up the editing into more reasonable pieces.

Another Monday and a new week’s worth of goals!! But first, a recap of how I did with last week’s goals.

  • Write tectonics, soil, and land use sections – COMPLETED!!
  • GIS: work on land cover classification & do analysis on sectors based on slope and aspect – I worked on the land cover classification, although it still has to be improved, but didn’t touch slope or aspect.
  • Start slides for Spring Symposium presentation – didn’t do this and am not sure I’m going to try to present at the Spring Symposium, which may be a time sink that I can’t afford.
  • Exercise 2 times this week – I went to the gym and rode the bike twice last week and went on a walk yesterday.
  • Finish knitting Bousta Scarf – Knitting is completed, but still need to weave in the many, many ends and block this scarf.
  • Read about how to do editing – Didn’t do this, so I need to work it in with this week’s editing of Chapters 1 & 2.

An overall productive week and not just with my knitting! And now for this week’s goals.

  • Edit Chapters 1 & 2 into a 2nd draft – my big project for this week. I’ve broken this down into chunks by day to keep myself from getting overwhelmed.
  1. Monday – Chapters 1 & 2 overall organization (sections); resolve dating issues (convert all to B.C. and A.D.); and make sure all references are properly linked.
  2. Tuesday – Edit Chapter 1 (this is a short chapter that introduces the entire thesis and will probably change quite a bit once I’m finished, so I’m not spending too much time on it).
  3. Wednesday – Edit Chapter 2: Geology.
  4. Thursday – Edit Chapter 2: Climate, etc.
  5. Friday – Edit Chapter 2: Land Use.
  6. Saturday and Sunday – as needed.
  • GIS: land cover classification and create validation file – I got a lead on another type of land cover classification that I’d like to try. If I have time, I’ll also try to work on slope and aspect.
  • Work on slides for Spring Symposium/AAG presentation – need to get started on this!!
  • Exercise 2 times this week – same as previous weeks, although getting in another geocaching walk would be wonderful.
  • Knitting – weave in ends and block Bousta scarf; work on Lace Ribbon scarf.
  • Spinning – try to spin for 15 minutes every day; need to work on developing spinning muscle knowledge.
  • Create 1 outfit – I’ve long felt that I need to improve my wardrobe and sense of personal style. Although I’m spending this year working on my thesis (mostly) from home, I felt it last year when I taught both fall and spring semesters and struggled through dressing the part of professor. In a thread on the Anthropologie fan group on Ravelry about “How do you shop? and What makes a great wardrobe?” were some links that I poured over yesterday in between georeferencing maps. Two of my favorite links were The Essentials of a Well-Balanced Wardrobe and Academichic. Essentials lists items that belong in Basic, Staple, Statement Pieces, Evening Standards, and Showstoppers categories to serve as the basis of a wardrobe. I’m happy to say that I have most of the staples, but am lacking in most of the other categories. The only thing left out of these lists was a list of essential shoes. Academichic is a blog written by 3 Ph.D students at a midwestern university that has been online for over a year now. I spend quite a bit of time going over their archives yesterday (and this morning) and favoriting pictures of outfits I liked on flickr. Their outfits are inspiring and they also have good tutorials on color. Plus they have a wonderful list on “Comfortable Yet Chic Shoes” that I’m going to base shoe selection on in the future. In their honor and to get myself out of my jeans and hoodie rut, I’m going to try to make one “outfit” each week, which I’ll probably post here.

Well, I have a busy week planned for myself, so I’ll wrap this up and get to work.

I persuaded my husband to take a break from his work this afternoon to enjoy the lovely 68 degree weather with me. We went on a walk with the goal of finding a geocache in a local park. If you haven’t heard of geocaching, it’s a worldwide treasure hunt to find geocaches hid by other people. For more information and the rules, see the geocaching homepage. Geocaching is free and all you really need to get started is a GPS you can take with you.

Today we went to a neighborhood cache in a local park that has a pond and interesting sculpture of a Fish on a Bicycle. Rob found the cache very quickly, then we spent some time looking at the wildlife in the pond. First, there was a red-eared slider (turtle) hiding in the leaves.

There were also several ducks hanging out in and around the water.

Here’s a picture of the Fish on a Bicycle sculpture that’s in the pond.

Besides a few raindrops here and there, it was a really nice day for a walk and some geocaching.

Over a year ago, I tried a sample of the Apple Chai Infusion at Starbucks and have been a fan ever since. I live walking distance from a Starbucks (which isn’t as dangerous as the year I lived a block from a Graeter’s Ice Cream in Cincinnati), so I can get my fix almost all the time. But at $3 for a grande, I decided to try to make them for myself at home.

First, I assembled my materials.

I have apple juice in the pitcher (made from concentrate), chai spice black tea, and sugar. To warm the ingredients, I used my brikei, but you can use a small saucepan.

First, I opened a tea bag and cut off the tag and most of the string, then placed it in the brikei.

Then I poured in enough apple juice to fill the brikei.

And applied  heat.

Meanwhile, I added a spoonful of sugar to the mug I was going to use. It’s difficult to see, but it’s there.

I heated the mixture in the brikei for 3-4 minutes until it was warm and I could smell the chai. DO NOT heat until boiling unless you like the chai flavor really, really strong.

Finally, I poured the apple chai mixture into the mug and stirred in the sugar. And then I enjoyed the (less expensive) apple chai infusion goodness.

This is a very simple and economical way to get apple chai infusions at home, especially if you use the tea bag for 2 or 3 mugfuls of the drink.

Enjoy!!

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