Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mammatus over Manhattan

The was crazy Friday evening. First it was 90 degrees and everyone at the Trans March wilted in the heat. Then we had a freakish thunderstorm that lasted half an hour. Then it cleared up into a gorgeous evening and my sweetheart and I walked down the street looking at our long shadows and she taught me the word alpenglow, which is for the sun hitting the mountains, but it's also for the sun hitting tall buildings. Then we looked up and the sky was bonkers. Backlit blobby low clouds that looked more like cartoons of clouds than cloud clouds. The pictures I took with my fancy new telephone don't do it justice, but there are more over at Gothamist.

I thought it looked like something out of Rockwell Kent, and googling around this weekend "rockwell kent clouds" I found out it's a special kind of cloud formation called mammatus or mammatoculumulus. From the latin mamma, same as mammary and mammal, because meteorologists see bosoms in the sky.

From Rockwell Kent's illustrations of Moby Dick

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Martin Van Buren is Rolling Over in his Grave

Martin Van Buren (and Tippecanoe) from Forty Four Presidents by Maria Sputnik & MZA

I don't usually blog politics here, but New York has become completely BONkERS!

Some really important stuff has already passed the state Assembly and is waiting on the Senate for approval. Like the marriage equality bill, which will extend the right to marry to millions more people. And the bill to repeal vacancy decontrol*, which when passed will be the biggest victory for New York tenants in decades and preserve affordable housing in New York City.

But instead of doing their work, the Senate has been throwing a hissyfit. Two Democrats went over to the dark side on June 8 and the Republicans grabbed power. But then one of the two defected back again, so now the Senate is tied 50/50 (actually, 32/32). And since the majority party sets the agenda and there's no majority, nobody will vote on anything. The regular legislative session ended and Governor Paterson called the Senate back into a special session, and said he'd keep forcing them to show up until they voted on everything they are supposed to.

Yesterday I joined a group of folks from Housing Here and Now to lobby the senate to repeal vacancy decontrol. A group of about 40 of us in red "Real Rent Reform" tee shirts kept up a presence in the halls of the Capital, holding signs, handing out flyers to Senators and staffers, chanting, and generally reminding the senators by our presence that they should set aside their doofusness and folderol because there are real people depending on them. Housing advocates plan to maintain a presence in the capitol and keep showing up day after day until our bills are voted on. And showing up is making a difference - at first, the agenda governor Paterson set for the special session didn't include the housing bills, but the next day, it did.

But how much work did the Senators actually do yesterday? None. The Democrats snuck into the Senate chamber at 6:30 a.m. and maintained "control" by sitting in the big seat at the front and locking the Republicans out. At 3 pm when the special session was to begin, the Republicans didn't show up. One Democratic senator raised a "point of order" that they didn't believe the governor was empowered to call them into special session unless the Assembly, which didn't have a melt-down and is legitimately done for the year, was called back, too. Then, since the Republicans had boycotted and there wasn't a quorum, they closed the session. Here's a New York Times article on the day's events. My favorite quote is Governor Paterson's non sequitur: "Martin Van Buren is rolling over in his grave."

Five minutes of work. Forty or so of us who care about affordable housing took a three hour drive to Albany, and spent four hours lobbying in the capital. Instead of watching our bill come to the floor, we got to watch the Senate remain in session for five minutes. Boo on the New York Senate for wasting everyone's time. Maybe we'll get lucky and be colonized by Italy.

So please, New Yorkers out there: if any of the issues that you care about are in limbo, please call or email governor Paterson and your Senator. Tell them not to go home until they save our homes.

In writing this post, I went looking for a day's events article in the Daily News. All today's political coverage is about South Carolina governor Mark Sanford's affair. It seems political turmoil is much more interesting if it happens in another state. Oh, and also: crop circles have been caused by drunken wallabies.

*What's vacancy decontrol? It's a gigantic loophole in New York's housing law that lets landlords charge whatever they want for an apartment that used to be protected under New York's rent control law as soon as the legal rent reaches $2000. You can learn more about it here. (pdf)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vegetables for Dessert? Sugar to the Rescue!

My CSA has started, so I got my first zucchini of the year on Wednesday. Since I'm not a great big zucchini fan, last summer's menu featured zucchini bread galore. But this year I'm going whole hog - Sugar to the rescue! Zucchini cupcakes!

For the cupcakes, I used Fab Food Friday's zucchini cupcake recipe. But the frosting? Carrot buttercream!

Here's how you make it: go to your favorite South Asian grocery store and find yourself a can of Carrots in Sugar Syrup:

Put the whole can into the blender or food processor and liquefy, syrup and all.

Cream one stick of butter with two cups of powdered sugar. Add liquefied carrots gradually, tasting until the frosting tastes just carroty enough.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

It Was Winter All Summer

If you haven't seen it yet, the new issue of Twist Collective has an illustrated poem by Franklin Habit a la Wallace Stevens's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

Here's my favorite stanza, but you should go read the whole thing:


It was winter all summer
It was snowing
And it was going to snow
The knitter sat
In his favorite chair.

Nice work, Franklin!

Here in Flatbush, it's raining cats and dogs for the umpteenth day in a row. It's been raining cats and dogs forever. It feels like it's been April since April, and we're halfway through June. The sun mostly shows up as a vague blob of brightness in the grey. I've been thinking of the rainy chapters of One Hundred Years of Solitude, where it rains for five years and everything in Macondo grows mossy and perma-sodden and all the livestock gets washed away.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brain Coral Against Breast Cancer

Last October I rode in the Tour de Pink, a 200 mile charity bike ride from Hershey, PA to New York City benefiting the Young Survival Coalition. It was an awesome, gorgeous ride full of friendly folks - any of you bikers out there should sign up. I'm not riding this year, but I'm still supporting the cause in my own special way. I've posted a new pay-what-you-wish pattern to the shop - Brain Coral against Breast Cancer!

When your ruffles have ruffles, interesting things happen! This is one of the simplest patterns you’ll ever follow, but the results will wow your friends with higher math. The resulting shape looks kind of like brain coral, kind of like a spiral, and is totally impossible to put down.

This is a pay-what-you-wish pattern.
100% of the proceeds (any donation you make minus Paypal/Google Checkout fees) will benefit the Young Survival Coalition, the premier international organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer. YSC works with survivors, caregivers and the medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer ages 40 and under.

Skills Required:
* knit, purl, yarn-over, i-cord

* one circ and two dpns.
* adaptable to any yarn.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Reindeer Flies Sideways

When I was a kid, my mom taught me a version of this Girl Scout song sung to the tune of Pomp & Circumstance. It's a great little number to sing at graduations - that march needs words!

(Sung to the tune of Pomp & Circumstance):

My reindeer flies sideways, she's better than yours.
My reindeer can cha-cha; she can open up doors.
My reindeer is purple; yours is a pea green.
My reindeer's a Girl Scout; she can dig a latrine.

My reindeer wears p-jays, yours sleeps in the nude,
My reindeer has manners; your reindeer is crude.
Your reindeer uses fire starters, my reindeer uses *just one match*
Your reindeer gets chilly; mine wears a scarf and hat.

My reindeer wears a poncho; your reindeer gets wet.
My reindeer is healthy, yours goes to the vet.
My reindeer flies sideways, your reindeer flies upside down.
My reindeer is perfect. Your reindeer is *dead*

Friday, June 5, 2009

World Wide Knit in Public Day is June 13!

Join us as we knit with thousands of other knitters around the world on the same day!

World Wide Knit in Public Day
Saturday, June 13, 2009
10am - 1pm
Brooklyn Public Library - Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza

  • Learn to knit
  • Book Raffles
  • Charity Knitting
  • The Knit Doctor
  • Storytime for Children
  • Spinnng Demonstrations
Bring: Your project and a smile!

Non-knitters welcome - we will teach you how.

Nowhere near Brooklyn? Find a World Wide Knit In Public Day event near you here.