Archive for September, 2011

September 29, 2011

Bits (where I talk about random things I come across)


I saw an article about a fashion trend that, regrettably, I think I actually kind of dig.  A big hit amongst fashion-forward celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Katie Holmes (does a guest appearance on “Project Runway” and admittedly cutting edge but undeniably ugly clothes qualify someone as “fashion-forward”?) is the leopard print denim jean!  Pick your jaws up off the floor and let me explain.  Ok, so paired with a skin-tight halter top and accessorized with patent leather heels, it’s drag queen meets Jersey Shore streetwalker.  But a more toned down approach like the one Miss Sarah Jessica took with her soft pink trench and matching open-toed platform shoes or Isla Fisher in her chunky sweater and suede pumps suddenly make it refined yet playful.  The grey rinse offers a bit more subtlety, but I prefer the full-on black-spots-on-orange look.  I think Forever 21 offers a far more affordable option than what you’ll find on Carrie Bradshaw, but as a rule, I don’t go in there nor do I recommend that anyone over 25 go in there either; it is where synthetic fabric goes to die.

  • This just in!  Rick Perry hates the environment and, I presume, anyone with a moral conscience.  My favorite bits of irony: when he talks about the EPA’s stifling “red tape”…um, I think that might be Texas’ air quality that you’re choking on; and, when he calls climate scientists “frauds” and yet, was a supporter of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign.  I’m not saying he’s totally wrong, I’m just saying he’s totally wrong and may have no principles.
  • Since when did “hot to trot” become a compliment one woman gives to another?  I am not down with this decidedly sexist (since it is always in reference to women) phrase and its negative connotations.  Do not call me this; I will not be pleased.  Is it because it’s fun to say?

Any biologists want to take a crack at the NUMEROUS problems with this piece about how the 3-D structure of an HIVenzyme was deciphered by online gamers?  My god!!!  I mean, I get what the study authors are trying to say, but the representation of their work in this article is just awful.  The average layman stumbling upon scientific papers by accident could have written a better article than this guy’s presumably researched bit of bad journalism.  Why, if only we scientists could have found another way of determining protein structure than by looking at it under a microscope…  Computer models!  What an incredible idea!  Quite frankly, I think the real story here is the person that built the microscope through which you could even discern the structure of a protein.  Someone give that man a Nobel!

  • So, perhaps someone out there who saw the “Terra Nova” series premiere (I did not) can answer this for me (and my mom): Why did they choose to go back in time to the time of the dinosaurs???  I mean, there are hundreds of millions of years proceeding that.  Why not just go to a time IMMEDIATELY AFTER the time when there were giant, people-eating reptiles?  And what do they plan to do about that whole mass extinction thing?  It’s just, if I were going back in time, there are a few periods I would be sure to avoid: Venice in 1347, Hiroshima in 1945, and that time a giant asteroid hit Earth and wiped out almost all life on the face of the planet.

And now my parting gift to you…Jack, proving that there is no amount of discomfort he won’t go through to keep from sharing…sociopath.

September 27, 2011

My thoughts on knitting, part one

     In my continuing efforts to try new things (and satisfy my unintentional theme of picking up DC fads years after their peak in popularity), I have taken my first knitting class.  My friend Elena and I just finished the first part of a two-part beginning knitting class at All About Yarn in Columbia.  For reasons uncertain, I turned it into a competition and then proceeded to lose…badly.  It was the battle of the small, pixie-like Greek hands versus the long, Disney villain-like Jafar fingers.  I only mention the Greekness of her hands because, tiny as they are, I assume them to have an innate, underestimated strength, the same freakish strength that gives yiayias their vise-like iron grip.  So, I came to discover right off the bat that I had the least amount of experience in the group, by far.  Unless, of course, you believe that my proclivity with sutures will somehow carry over into the knitting world; I do not.  But I still thought I had the advantage with the dexterity that my frighteningly long fingers would offer me. 

     We began by learning to cast-on.  The woman told us to make 15 cast-on stitches; Elena made close to 30.  At this point, I’m feeling even more confident; after all, evidently, she can’t even count.  But as we began to knit, it soon became apparent that I am NOT a naturally gifted knitter.  Coincidently, neither was the woman also named Lisa sitting across from me.  Everyone else’s scarf was starting to come together.  I could see the characteristic knit pattern with its straight, beautifully woven lines like rows of corn.  My knitting looked loose and wobbly with so many dropped stitches it looked moth-eaten.  Elena’s was lovely except she makes the stitches so tight (it’s the Yiayia gene), she might as well be knitting a canteen.  So, class one concluded, Elena- 1 Lisa- 0.

     Our homework for the next week was to keep knitting until it was second nature.  I got home and proceeded to screw it up irreparably until I had no choice but to unravel the whole thing and start again.  That’s okay, it was basically just an elaborate knot anyway; “knitting” was what the lady at the yarn shop was mercifully calling mine.  Then I thought I wanted a wider scarf, so I made 30 cast-on stitches.  Somewhere along the way, this became 40 stitches and then I brought it back down to 30.  Then it became 50+ stitches and I brought it back down to 33.  Do not ask me how this happened as I swear I am still dropping every other stitch.  On the bright side, the scarf looks so consistently uneven, bloated, and full of holes, I could actually make a convincing argument that that was the style I was going for, a fine addition to the Zoolander-esque “Derelicte” collection.  So now I am at 36 stitches, but I actually think I’m starting to get the hang of this, which actually throws my bum-chic angle into a tailspin.  That’s right, folks.  I have now gotten good enough that it just looks like an effed-up scarf.  Lisa- 1, Fashion world- 0

     More after the second class…

September 26, 2011

A sad day for women and the environment

I was perusing NPR today and stumbled upon something tragic: 2004 Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai died yesterday of cancer.  It was truly saddening news; I audibly sucked in my breath and my eyes got all watery like we’d been closefriends.  She was remarkable and while I’ve only known about her since 2004 when she won her Nobel Peace Prize, she has dedicated her life to conservation and is an empowering force for women all over the world.  She founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which taught African women to plant trees to protect the environment and be more self-sufficient.  Small beans, you say?  Well, through her dedication and over the decades, it spread and expanded and became a global phenomenon and made Wangari Maathai an international icon of environmentalism.  This also had the added dual effect of emboldening women’s rights in Africa and rebelling against the oppressive Kenyan government of the time; it began as a women’s movement and had many pro-democracy projects on the side such as registering voters and pressing for consitutional reform and greater freedom of expression.  She was an environmentalist, a feminist, and a political activist all in one!  Not to mention the fact that she also found the time to be the first woman in East Africa to earn a doctorate (in biology…woo!) and a professorship at the University of Nairobi.  And she was, of course, the first African woman to win the Nobel prize.  Her life was truly incredible, and my little blurb does not do it justice!

September 14, 2011

Missoni for Target arrived on September 13th!

Let the pandemonium begin!  Famed Italian design house Missoni is now offering a line of clothing, luggage, housewares, and furniture through Target stores.  Missoni is renowned for their knitware featuring that distinctive zigzag stripe pattern, which, incidently, will be available on everything from stationary to patio furniture and at a fraction (like <10%!) of the price.  And, evidently, the frenzy of excitement that was happening in my head was also happening in real life:  In what is being called “Missoni Mayhem” and “Target Tuesday” (as in Black Friday), was crashed several times, and people were lining up around the block in the early morning hours yesterday to be the first to snag these limited edition items.  Now, while that is what I yearn to do, I do not do it because, well, I’m not a lunatic.  However, I will be heading out there this weekend, and I will NOT leave empty-handed.  If you want your suitcase to match your minidress, you will too!

September 1, 2011

A good and a bad day for women

So, I have a JC Penney credit card.  I had to open one in order to get my sofa.  I hate the thing.  Last night, I spent several minutes on the phone with customer service trying to talk them out of applying yet another late charge to the credit card I didn’t want in the first place.  And apparently, I am not the only woman getting screwed over by JC Penney right now; add to that list just about every woman in America.  Behold, a t-shirt from their “cute and sassy” line that they are marketing to young girls.  Young girls!  According to a Yahoo article (found here, they are pulling the t-shirt because it is, well, deeply, deeply offensive.  No word yet on the “I’m too pretty to do math” t-shirt.  This is the type of thing that frightens me when I think of having daughters.  Please tell your daughters that they are strong, smart, and beautiful and, yes, it is possible to be all those things at once!  That credit card is SO cancelled once the sofa is paid off; I no longer care that Mango is sold through JC Penney.  To counterbalance that, I heard about an amazing book on the Today Show that’s on sale now.  It’s called “Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias” by Don Van Natta Jr., a biography about perhaps the greatest athlete who ever lived.  She excelled in three, count ’em, three sports professionally.  She was an All-American basketball player, won four Olympic medals in track and field, and holds several world records in golf, some that she still holds today and some that include her holding her own in the men’s tournaments.  She won the Women’s US Open by 12 strokes(!!) just a month after undergoing surgery for colon cancer and was one of the top players in the country when her cancer returned and she passed away in 1956 at age 45.  And according to Wikipedia, she was also an accomplished billiards player, an excellent seamstress making most of her golf outfits, sung, and played harmonica.  Was there anything the woman couldn’t do?  And this is in the 1940’s and 50’s!  Which is truly astounding when you think about how far we’ve come since then and yet, you can still buy clothing for your little girl that says women should be pretty and dumb.  Her life sounds really incredible.  She redefined feminity, which basically means people made  fun of her for her “manliness”.  Rave reviews for the book thus far, which could just mean people are inspired or that it is actually awesome.  The link to the book is here:  Or you can wait until I finish and borrow mine!

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