Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am, I Don't Know, Ma'am

Hey that girl's looking at my butt!
Wait is that a a girl or a boy or - what?
-- Team Dresch, song for Ann Bannon

Today at my day job somebody called to do the copier scam. You know - where people somehow try to scam you by figuring out what kind of copier your office has? I've never really understood what they get out of the deal, but they call us all the time trying to find out what kind of copier we have. Here's how it went today:

Hi this is Carol from Customer Service, I'm calling about the copier.
Me: (laughing) What about it?
Carol: You know, the copier?
Me: What copier?
Carol: The big one. In the copy room. You mean you don't have a copier?
Me: (just laughing)
Carol: What's your name? Are you a man or a woman?
Me: Are you a man or a woman, Carol?
Carol: Because you sound kind of like a man, but you laugh like a girl.
And with that, she hung up.
Which is as good a segue as I can ask for to regale you with scintillating stories of semi-inadvertent genderbending when I worked at the call center in Oregon. But first, I also finally have an excuse to use the telephone sheep photo!:

Jean Luc Cornec's Telephone Sheep, via hanneorla on flickr.

A bunch of years ago, I worked at a call center in Tualatin. We answered the phone for about a billion different companies (okay, not a billion, but over 700) and whatever it was we were supposed to talk about would pop up on a computer screen in front of us. "Thank you for calling Used ATV Parts, how can I help you?" or "You have reached the Hollywood Movie Money Hotline, may I have your zip code please?" Most of the time we helped people order stuff out of catalogs, but other times we were supposed to be "creative" - like "sorry, Frank just stepped away from his desk, may I take a message?" Even though Frank was in Topeka and we were in Oregon.

The weirdest thing to happen to me there - my high school girlfriend called a lawyer's office in California after hours and got my voice instead. Hi, Alissa, if you're reading this!

Some of the places we answered the phone for were overt scams, and we'd make a game of it, being as polite yet pointedly unhelpful as we could to somebody's disgruntled customer to try to get them to cuss. Once they said a four-letter word, it was within the rules to say "I'm sorry sir, but I don't have to listen to that kind of language" and hang up. Sometimes they'd call back again madder than ever and ask for a manager. "Hey Diana," I'd say, "Wanna be my manager?" Diana (or whoever was sitting next to me that day) would pick up the call and assure the disgruntled so-and-so that I was now in big trouble.

The other thing that would happen all the time was that a whole bunch of the callers would assume I was a woman. I'm not sure what-all was behind this -- sometimes an expectation that the person at the other end of the line is "the gal in the phone pool," I guess, but I got it from all sides. People calling about ATV parts ma'amed me constantly, and every now and then I'd wait for to hear a ma'am me and then pointedly lower my voice and sound as dude-ly as I could to see if I could get them to stutter. And I once had a somewhat stoned caller serenade me with the entire "I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker" song before he realized he was crooning to another fella.

But it wasn't just men that ma'amed me - we took phone orders for herbal creams purported to make men junkier and women bustier, and I once got a woman who was calling with a zillion questions about the bust cream. I read her all the info I had about it, and finally she asked, "Well, do you use it?"
"No, I don't."
"Why not?"
"Well, because I'm a man."
"Oh! Oh, well, I guess that's good then."

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm in print!

My Starfish pattern made it into the new One-Skein Wonders book! It came out this week - I'm so, so happy about it. A real live book, beautifully photographed in full color, with a table of contents and an index and everything! All right, you all know what books are like, but one of the weird surprises about how happy I'm feeling right now is how great it feels to flip through the index and see "Yuhas, Daniel" at the very end.

The other thing I can't stop grinning about is the copy they wrote for my page:

With five points to grab hold of, your baby will love this toy! The construction is ingenious -- no breaking of yarn, no sewing of seams -- and the yak-merino yarn keeps things soft.
Ingenious -- I could get used to that. And it is. It's a pattern that's tricky and simple at the same time, way easier than you'd expect and really fun to make.

And there's a hundred more patterns in it besides -- tons of accessories, loads of lace, and scads of baby stuff -- each made with a skein or less of super-luxe yarn. My piece used a yak-merino blend from Karabella, and the designers used the gamut of fiber from quivut to corn.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fiber Haze

I went to Rhinebeck yesterday - holy cow! I've read about a bazillion blog raves about how awesome it is, but I was spooked by thinking it would be just a super-gigantical yarn shop that would sneakily devour the entire contents of my wallet, leaving me broke but unsatisfied. Then Knithound Lisa told me at our Stitch 'n Bitch how much more it is than that. There's all kinds of sheepy goodness, and also carnival rides and delicious food and fiber-y contests and sheep judging and sheepdog competitions and, and, and, and, and... I had to leave by 2 to return my friends' car, and the four hours I had there were barely enough to cover most of the ground, let alone to go to the book signings or classes or contests or the Ravelry party to follow.

I did get to watch some of the sheepdog competition. Here's a youtube of border collies - towards the end it shows what sheepdog trials look like. It was weirdly fascinating and not a little bit funny to watch in real life. The dog tries to herd the sheep through a variety of gates and chutes and the sheep rebel by staying put, then suddenly bustle briskly about as if they just remembered where it is they were going.

Yes, I know -- right after my two-second appearance on Fox News, dog videos is probably the second least likely thing you were expecting to find here.

And now here's some fiberporn.

Before Rhinebeck I used to get annoyed by knit-bloggers showing off their stashes - I love to see people's accomplishments and works in progress, but showing off the yarn that will turn into something some-day -- possibly years from now, or never -- always rubbed me the wrong way. And it always drove me batty when people waxed rhapsodic about "Fiber" - you know, like "Oh, how I long to go dancing among the beautiful sheepy or alpacalicious strands and slubs and puffs, and to press skein after skein to my cheek to inspect their staple, accepting or rejecting their advances toward my tote bag like prospects to my dance card. I could just curl up in a yarny coccoon and sleep forever, dreaming the most delicious fibery dreams." It always rubbed me the wrong way - like an artist bragging about her oil sticks instead of her paintings. But then, Van Gogh did try to eat his paint.

About one o'clock yesterday I found myself in the Decadent Fibers booth, talking to a fellow t/Raveler whose name I forget while we both fondled the same three jumbo hanks of the most gorgeous orange yarn. I'd told myself I didn't need any more wool than was already in my bag, and had been seeking out some raw silk for a project I have in mind chiefly by smell -- you know that strong funky silk smell? -- the aisles and aisles of yarn were starting to mix together into one big blur, and my eyes were tired from taking it all in. Then I saw this incredible orange out of the corner of my eye. The light hit it just so, like the first tree to go full orange in the fall. I had to know all about this! Fellow t/Raveler and I talked as we both fondled the yarn somewhat adoringly, mesmerised, falling in love with it: I want to make you mine. It was a weirdly shared sensual experience. We ended by collapsing into a huge bout of the giggles. The finally stopping until you look at the other person and it starts all over again giggles.

And I want to share that gleeful moment with you too, O blogosphere. I know the crappy pictures my Kodak Easy-share takes will never do it justice. But maybe, if you've ever had a similar experience, I can set off the mirror neurons in your brain and give you that warm, fuzzy you know, fiber-y feeling.

Here goes:Decadent Fibers Creme Brulee - 50% Merino, 30% Silk, 20% Mohair

And some yarn I'm even more excited about: Four Directions Colors from the Earth, 85% wool, 15% Mohair,
"Hand dyed using leaves, roots, bark, and bugs" - this is dyed with real live indigo, and I also got some ruddy brown that 's made with madder root. The colors are really deep and subtle - I wished I could afford them all. I can't wait to cast something on with it. I know just the thing - check back in a year or so to see how it turns out.

P.S. I've been reading Erica Jong - does it show?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hi Mom, I'm on Fox News

Ok really, can you think of anything I'm less likely to say?

I can't get FoxNews's embedding gizmo to work, but you can click here (hopefully) for a video clip of the Tour de Pink riders appearing on Fox & Friends yesterday morning. I couldn't find myself in the crowd on the clip, but you can hear me woo-hoo-ing, so count me as part of the general clamor.

I'm actually a bit hoarse today from hooting and hollering through three states on this trip, cheering on my fellow riders and screaming my head off down some really delicious hills. I'll have a more in-depth ride story later on after I get the pics from my super-awesome sis who joined the trip as a volunteer and got me involved in the first place.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

... And He's Off!

First thing tomorrow morning, I'll be off to Pennsylvania for Tour de Pink! It's going to be great fun, and I'll soon have stories and photos to share instead of this lovely pink logo!

So far the event has raised $470,000 to benefit the Young Survival Coalition, and I've exceeded my fundraising goal of $3,000! Thank you yet again to everyone who has supported me in this ride - emotionally, financially or otherwise. Your encouragement has meant the world to me, and the money we've raised will mean a lot to all of us who've struggled with breast cancer in our lives.

If you'd like to push the red part of the fundraising thermometer further over the top, you can click here to donate - my fundraising page will be up and accepting donations until December 1.

And lastly, although I'd never under any other circumstances tell anybody to watch Fox News (meathead blather like that is a big part of the reason my TV doesn't have an antenna attached to it), the whole bunch of us are scheduled to appear on Fox and Friends Monday morning. If any of you out there in blog-land have cable and wanna tune in, you'll see me waving!