Better than salt money

Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation


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Rapacious bastards

I got a couple of credit card solicitations in the mail yesterday. The Discover card is offering me a 19 percent APR, with a 25 percent cash advance. No interest on transfers; for 14 months, but a 3 percent transfer fee. No annual fee.

Not great, but nothing horrid.

First Premier Bank, on the other hand, was horrid. Credit limit is $700. A $49 annual fee. A monthly service fee of $10.50, and it seems to arrive with a balance of $59.50, outstanding.

The interest rate, and the cash advance, are the same, but it’s not nicer than Discover, because the interest rate is 36 percent. That $10.50 monthly service charge is an introductory rate. When all is said and done you are paying, $126.00 for the first year (with the annual fee, and the service charge plunked on the bill from the get go), and after the rate goes up to $14.50 a month, $174.00, so that you can have a $700 credit card.

Even if you don’t use it, they are charging you 25 percent per annum for the opportunity of paying 36 percent APR on $700. This is what they are calling a, “platinum” card.

The terrifying thing (apart from the changes the credit card industry got made into law under Bush fils) is that this business model works.


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Perhaps I hold myself to too high a standard

I have been complaining that I’m not doing as well with my spinning as I’d like. When I ply it’s a little overspun, which is probably the result of being not quite consistent in the singles. Well I bought an app (iSpin Toolkit) for my phone. It was a bit pricey (at $4.99), but it has a couple of tools which were well reviewed enough by other spinners for me to figure it was worth it to get. The twist gauge, and the various calculators are really nice. The inch block to let me see how many Twists Per Inch (TPI) I’ve got on a ply is sort of handy. At some point the predictive tools will be useful.

But what I really wanted was the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) gauge. That will let me figure out what my grist (i.e. a rough guess at how many Yards Per Pound [YPP] I’m getting). That drop-spindle stuff I’ve been working on… I guestimated it (using my knuckle, while it was on the spindle) at somewhere between 25-30 WPI. Which is fingering weight, and gives between 1800-2400 YPP. Respectable. It would ply up to about 17 WPI (at 3-ply) and come in at DK weight. The 2oz I’m working should come in, at that WPI with about 20 yards of yarn.

Which, when I crunch those numbers seems a bit short. I’ve done about .7oz of fiber. I am pretty sure I have more than 100 yards already. Putting the single on the WPI gauge, I see… between 75-80 WPI. that’s cobweb. At three plies it’s about 40 WPI, which is laceweight, and ought to give somewhere between 100-150 yards, depending on just where it averages, between 75-80.

So my spindle spinning is really fine. If it’s strong enough to hold up to the strains of being reeled off, and plied, it will be fine yarn, as well as being finely spun.

On the wheel today I was spinning some worsted. I’m not as good at that as I’d like; and this wool probably wanted to be spun woolen, at least in terms of being a soft hand, but it’s about 55 yards, and weighs in at 1.1oz. I’ve not set the twist, and it’s a bit energetic, but we’ll see how it comes out. Poking about on Etsy, I don’t think my yarn is any worse than much of what I see being offered.

Not bad, all in all.

But I want to be better. I suspect I won’t think my yarn is, “good enough” until I can make it, and have people think it was done on a machine.


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Somedays it takes someone else to keep your head up

Today is being hard. My bread is misbehaving, supper (which I trust to be tasty) is not treating my nose well (it’s a sauerbraten, of sorts, and the brine is making me think, unpleasantly, of some very herbaceous schnapps), the spinning is going well enough, but I feel behind. Happily MBF forwarded this to me, from Not Always Right (stories of less than splendid customers in the retail trades)

Suited To The Role
CLOTHING STORE | SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA |
(I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner,
my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as
low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good
job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the
store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)
Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am?”
Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over
there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just
sure he’s planning to steal one.”
Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”
Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye
on him even if he wasn’t homeless!” (The homeless man in question
happens to be Hispanic.)
Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”
Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”
(I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a
black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to
the homeless man.)
Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”
Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in
a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut
American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not
to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build
for, you know?”
Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over
here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”
Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into
this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can
use to look good for a job interview later today.”
(My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter
with him. The suit is priced at $87.)
Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”
Owner: *to me* “Take my card. I’m buying it for him.” *to the homeless
man* “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview
today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”
Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”
(Two years later, that formerly-homeless man is my manager, and has a
little girl with his new wife—the owner’s sister.)

It’s enough to make up for all he rest.


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Pretty pictures

Just a quick post of photos straight out of the phone. I’ve spun up a bit more than half the batts in the post on process, and I’d like to have a record of them, in a place more accessible than buried amongst all the other photos I’ve taken with my phone.

Spinning out of the batt is pretty easy, esp. because this is really fluffy alpaca.  It was a bit, “neppy” (i.e. it had little lumps of felty fiber).  There wasn’t much “scutch” (i.e. crap which isn’t fiber).  Oddly the most common type was bits of some sort of beetle.

Bob, Bob, Bobbin along

Yarn on the bobbins. I’ve reeled it from the bobbin I spun on, to a different one, so that plying will be easier. The colors seem pretty clear, even if the focus is a bit off (if I’m going to use the phone, I need to get some sort of tripod for it).

On the Noddy

That’s what it looks like wound on the niddy-noddy.

Skeined

And skeined. It’s nice, and seems to be balanced. I’ve not set the twist yet, but it hangs pretty much dead-straight.


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Points of divergence

Anniversaries are funny things. They are, more than anything else, markers of psychological time. When the new year, or a birthday rolls around the neither the world, nor the person, is all that different than they were the day before. They might be different in relation to what they were a year before, but the day to day, is much of a muchness.

Sometimes they mark a break point. A marriage defines the couple as being different to who they were the day before.

Ten years ago was one of those days for me. I was mobilised, told I was being deployed to Iraq. It was a whirlwind. We were dragged to Cp. Roberts (to waste three days doing shit we’d have lots of time to train on elsewhere). 36 hours after we got back from that we were at LAX, in the bright February sun, kissing our loved ones good by.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

The next year was an adventure. I wrote it up as it happened.

Things have never been quite the same. It changed me. Maia is pissed at the Army, she says the me who came back isn’t the me who left. My body isn’t the same, which is why I have an 80 percent disability rating. I spent a fair bit of time in and out of hospitals. I was back in the states without a chance to really decompress from the combat zone. If it weren’t for my friends, and their friends, I don’t know how well I’d have managed to re-integrate to normal society.

Today isn’t much different from yesterday. Ten years ago that wasn’t so true.


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Assholes

I tried, and tried, to find a headline without some sort of profanity. That was the best I could do. Lawmakers (guess the party) in N. Dakota are pushing for an even more offensive form of drug testing before granting public assistance to the needy. Never mind that the number of people who are looking for welfare and addicted has proven to be be small (so small that the projected savings from all, “Those People” being excluded have never materialised; which makes since, drugs cost money, poor people tend to not have it lying spare.†

To add insult to injury the politicians in N. Dakota have proposed making the people applying for welfare pay for the cost of the test. If you fail, then you are ineligible for public assistance for one year. Fail twice, and it’s three years. This isn’t bad, says, Keith Kempenich (one of the bill’s sponsors) because, It’s not overly burdensome. Most employers require drug testing pretty much across the board. Which isn’t as true as all that, and that they are allowed to is a different rant. I can, to a limited degree, see the rationale; if not justification, for some jobs testing for certain types of drug use.

But, since we have so many legal drugs, even that has some problems. I worry more about a bus driver who is drinking Red Bull or Rockstar to stay awake, than I do about one who take a few tokes, off the clock. Wal-Mart has no good reason to give a shit, but I digress.

A drug test costs money. It costs, roughly, 100 bucks. I’ll bet it also has to be in a certified How many of those are there? Does someone have to haul themselves all the way to Bismark to get one? What does all that cost? How long will this delay the process? How will a false positive be appealed?

What’s all that going to cost the State of N. Dakota, just so some Republican politicians can stroke the sense of Holier than Thou?

† Mind you, even if there were addicts looking to use welfare to pay for the habit, I suspect that would be cheaper than the second, and third order effects of them trying to feed a habit, e.g. the crimes they might commit, the lack of solid homelives for children, etc. But I’m just a bleeding heart liberal, or something.


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Sauce for the goose?

A Catholic School in N. Arlington New Jersey seems to think bad language among its students is a problem. So big a problem they are asking them to forswear vulgarity… if they aren’t male.

Lori Flynn, a teacher who launched the civility campaign at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, said the rationale was simple: “We want ladies to act like ladies.”

Incredibly,” the principal, Brother Larry Lavallee, added, the girls have the foulest language.” I suspect Brother Lavallee isn’t getting out much. To add special sauce to the mix, the school admits the boys aren’t actually bastions of genteel speech,

Teachers said they hoped that if the girls focused on cleaning up their speech on campus for a month, their improved manners would take hold and rub off on the boys. They timed the initiative to Catholic Schools Week and the old-fashioned romance of Valentine’s Day. They promised lollipops as rewards and handed out pins showing a red slash through a pair of pink lips.

(apparently Brother Lavallee isn’t so sheltered as all that, “It looks like they mean no kissing,” Lavallee said. “That’s a little harder to enforce.”

Do the boys think there is a problem? Sort of.

“It’s unattractive when girls have potty mouths,” noted Nicholas Recarte, 16. A pitcher on the school’s baseball team, Nicholas said he can’t help shouting obscenities from the mound after mishaps. He said he didn’t expect that to change.

So he’s going to keep swearing, but if a woman does it, that’s unattractive. No unfairness, nor message of accepting double standards there.

We all engage in some sort of “foul language”. I know that I do (and being in the Army certainly seemed to make it more commonplace, but it’s not that I never let an expletive fall from my lips prior. More that I got both more blunt, and more nuanced, in my use of them). One of the things in the article where I found this points out is that 1: most people use more cursing in a day than they think (between 70-100 instances per person), and 2: the sense that the world is going to the dogs.

The latter is an inference I made from this, Swearing has become a persistent part of everyday speech, used to add emphasis, emotion and humor. Become? No. I read Shakespeare, and Johnson, and I’ve seen Meredith Wilson’s, “The Music Man”. The death of decent speech amongst the young is no new thing.

So, if this is such a persistent thing, why are the women being targeted? I’d say it’s sexism. It’s not, “ladylike”. When some (female) students actually took the oath to swear no where on the campus the boys were admonished, “Gentlemen, you are not to swear in the presence of ladies.”

For fuck’s sake.