November 11, 2013 2:39 pm
I’ve been washing a lot of fleece lately. A LOT of fleece. I’m helping Deb Robson with materials for her workshops, and so have been acquiring and washing fleeces for her. Plus *ahem* a few for myself that I’ve picked up as well. I think I’ve washed about 15 fleeces in the past two months. I lost count. And I’m well above 20 for the year.
To keep up with the washing I needed to build a second drying rack. I’ve been planning to write about this since my fleece washing article back in March, but, well, blogging. This is the finished rack:
If you’d like to follow along at home you will need (pictures below link to Amazon so you can buy these online if you’d like):
- A wire mesh shelf you don’t mind destroying:
- 4 48″ shelf bracket strips:
- A bunch of zip ties that will fit through the slots on the shelf
- wire cutters or scissors to trim the ties
First step is to decide how many shelves you will want, and do maths to determine how closely to space your zip ties. In my version I’m building 10 shelves, and leaving two grid squares to stabilize the rack. The top shelf goes at the top of the bracket strips, but the bottom one should have clearance from the ground to allow for air circulation. This means I inserted zip ties every 10 slots to space the shelves evenly:
I inserted them in one bracket and then used that as a visual guide (I hate counting!) to make 4 the same:
Then I took two of the bracket strips and attached them to the top shelf:
Continued attaching shelves all the way down:
And finally attached the two other bracket strips on the other side of the shelves:
You will notice this can fold almost flat. And the poodle puppy has decided I need help.
In the picture above I’ve already slid two of the bracket strips around so that there’s one strip on each side of the grid square. Comment if this is confusing and I’ll draw up a diagram or take better pictures.
At any rate, there’s no way this will work without more stabilization. That’s where the last two shelves come in. Attach them on adjacent sides at the bottom, zip tying all four corners around brackets and through shelves:
Now you can stand it up and have a drying rack!
The last step is to use the pliers to tighten the zip ties, and then cut off the excess tie. I didn’t take a picture, but I’m betting you can figure that part out on your own. Careful not to leave sharp bits, though, as you can snag your hands and/or the fleece bags on them.
These racks work great outdoors on a breezy sunny day, but just as well stood by a heating vent in the winter, perhaps with a fan blowing on them as well. With the vent and a fan I can dry a fleece in a day.
October 4, 2013 6:34 am
This is not going to be a happy fun fiber post or a delicious recipe. This is perhaps self indulgent whining about managing chronic pain. Apologies in advance and please skip along.
No really, I won’t be offended. I’m just at the end of my tether and need to write. Look at the picture, know that’s the place I ended up after writing this. I live here, surrounded by beauty, with a warm and loving family and a comfortable life full of things that bring me joy. I’m ok, and I’ll be ok.
I have managed chronic pain for most of my life. I broke my neck when I was 12, though I didn’t find that out until I was almost 40. I had an MRI a few years ago to diagnose pain and numbness in my left shoulder, arm, and hand, and the MRI turned up two badly compressed vertebrae and numerous damaged nerve channels. The doctor said it looked like an old injury, most likely from childhood. And I knew.
There is no cure, only management. I have arthritis slowly filling the nerve channels, irritating the nerve sheaths, causing them to get inflamed. The pain I feel has nothing to do with my hands and arms, it’s just a side effect from the nerve in my neck slowly getting squished. I could get steroid injections but while that would help in the short term, in the long term it would cause tissue degradation and other problems. I have to deal with this for the rest of my life, so until there’s a treatment option that can actually reverse or repair the damage I just live with it as best I can.
As a child I rode horses obsessively, almost continuously. I woke up in the morning and fed my pony, sometimes riding. Came home from school and went for a ride. Frequently went to my trainer’s house after school for lessons and riding. I wasn’t riding easy, calm, well broken horses. My trainer worked with reclaims and my first pony definitely qualified; he could buck more or less anyone off, and did regularly. It was a good ride if I didn’t land on my bum. The first time I managed to ride him through one of his tantrums I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or the pony.
Generally I landed well and bounced right up, but occasionally I did not. I had multiple losses of consciousne
ss, the first of which I remember was when I was 8. Given what we know now about repeated brain injury I worry. But that’s borrowing trouble from the future. The trouble that has come back to pay its future dividend was one specific fall.
I had a new horse, who didn’t buck. No, she spooked and bolted when she got nervous. I took a fall, and landed badly on my head and shoulders. I thought I had just wrenched my neck; I mean, I could move my fingers and toes so nothing could be broken, right? I got up, dusted off, got back on the horse and rode home.
That began a period of continuous headaches and insomnia. I couldn’t lie down to sleep, I slept sitting up in an arm chair with my head propped so it didn’t fall over. This went on for months. My mother told me I was being “dramatic” whenever I complained about pain or illness, so we never went to the doctor except for routine physicals. In the middle of this we moved out of state. The pain went on and on, for well over a year. Nothing helped.
Freshman year of high school my morning class teacher decided we needed to start the day with Sun Salutes so we stopped falling asleep in her class. Several of us got into it, and soon she was holding longer yoga sessions at lunch. I began my yoga practice at 13. Slowly my pain faded.
That teacher, and forgive me I can recall her face but not her name, was also managing chronic pain. She used movement and breathing exercises to, as she put it, notice the pain and let it go. Pain is information, she would say. It’s your nerves checking in with your brain to make sure you’re aware something is off. If you already know what’s off and have done what you can to ease it, there’s no reason to hold on to that information.
She believed tight muscles were the body protecting itself. She would say to herself and to us at the end of practice when we were lying in Savasana, “It’s ok to be open now, it’s safe. Let the earth carry you, you won’t fall off.” We would practice deliberately clenching a muscle that was restricted, and then letting go. Feeling into ourselves to notice what our pain was protecting, and making it safe to let go.
It comes and goes in waves. I’ll go months sometimes without a flare-up. and then get struck suddenly by pain that keeps me from sleeping and makes it hard to function. Or no pain, and my hand will just go completely numb. Other times I’ll feel it build up over days or weeks. Those are the worst; it’s like hydroplaning in a car towards a tree. Increasing levels of panic and desperation as I watch the tree coming towards me and try to get control to avert disaster.
This flare is one of the latter. I haven’t slept well in over a week. Two nights ago I managed a good night and felt rested yesterday, which was wonderful. I had an incredibly productive day, by recent standards, and went to bed with the expectation that I was on the mend.
Today, though, is not starting so well. I woke at 3:30 with my whole left arm numb. I tried doing gentle openings in bed to get sensation back, but no luck. I got up, worked through physical therapy exercises, then yoga, and finally spent some time on the foam roller, and now have curled up on the couch with an ice pack on my neck and fingerless mitts, hot tea & a rice bag to compensate for the cold. It’s chilly this morning, heading into winter.
I could say I have no idea what caused it, and honestly I’m not 100% sure. I suspect it’s the repetitive motion from the fleece prep I’ve been doing for Spinzilla, but I’ve been trying to be mindful about taking lots of breaks. I did none of it at all yesterday, in fact I can’t think of anything yesterday that should have aggravated it. I sorted and washed a fleece, built a fleece drying rack (which is the blog entry I expected to be writing today), played with the puppy, tidied the house. I actually did my yoga and PT yesterday, something I’ve been sporadic about since the summer. I went to bed feeling accomplished and happy.
I thought I was over this hump, but instead it’s worse, and it’s gotten into the realm of exceptionally bad– worse than it’s been in a year or so. It’s hard to be creative when I hurt like this; I can’t separate from the pain right now. It woke me up, kept me awake, and now is a continuous roar. It hurts to move, and hurts to sit still. Nothing seems to be working to calm it down. I think that’s why I wanted to write this. I thought I was on the mend, but I’m not. I feel… “betrayed” isn’t exactly the right word. Frustrated, disappointed, angry, resentful.
I don’t talk about this, ever. People I have lived with know I hurt sometimes, but it’s just not something I talk about. Unless it’s bad enough to impact my activities in a noticeable way they generally don’t even know when it’s flaring up. I don’t find sympathy helps me manage it, and pity or well meaning attempts at accommodating it make it worse. What I need to do, what works, is to avoid things that trigger it, do the exercises that help manage it, and otherwise keep from focussing on it. Distraction, mindfulness exercises, and deliberately not noticing the pain is what I need. Sympathetic, well meaning, helpful people are, ironically, the opposite of help. So I don’t mention it.
Except days like today when my arm is on fire from my neck to my fingers, when I’m so tired I tear up thinking about it, when I’m frustrated that there are things I want to– need to– do today, and they are unlikely to happen. Days like today I want to hit things, I want to scream and rant about how unfair it all is. Unfair. There should be a way to fix this. There isn’t. I have to adjust, to manage it, and today I really just don’t want to. I want it not to be, but that’s not ever going to be an option.
I have to relax, to accept, to be where I am, and I know this, but I’m really truly deeply pissed off about it this morning.
October 3, 2013 10:34 am
Monday I visited Eileen Hordyk at SandHill Farms in Arlington, WA. I was greeted at the gate by a 30-something Shetland pony, who decided the grass was more interesting than me when I didn’t produce treats. Apparently he’s a neighborhood treasure, and Eileen regularly has folks asking about him when he’s in a back field or in the barn instead of on display out front.
She and her husband are raising sheep for fleece as well as for meat, but Eileen says “For me, it’s all about the fleece.” The stack of ribbons they brought home from the Washington State Fair and the quality of her fleeces speak to the success she’s having. Here’s a sneak peak of the Lincoln Longwool I brought home:
This was a blue ribbon ewe fleece this year, but her brother’s fleece beat her out for grand champion. Another one of Eileen’s fleeces– one of her Dorsets– won Grand Champion handspinner’s fleece. I looked for a listing of the results from the fair to share all the ribbons she brought home, but it isn’t posted anywhere I could find. Suffice to say Eileen brought home more fleeces with ribbons than without.
Here’s Eileen with this year’s fleeces. This is also the lambing barn in the spring, once the fleeces are all sold.
Here are a few that didn’t come home with me. This one was a crossbred Dorset/Rambouillet:
This was a Romney that took best of show:
Pretty sure this was another Romney. Look at the length and crimp!
They have two flock protector dogs that are crossbreeds, and three Border collies. I didn’t take a note on this girl’s name, but she’s the old lay of the farm and spends her days in the barn now:
This is her brother, who prefers to spend his days with his charges:
Right now he’s in with the boys:
Eileen was in the middle of putting four of her Lincoln ewes in with a ram lamb. Here are the girls:
The girl in the green coat is #1188, who grew the fleece in the first picture that came home with me:
Eileen and I talked a lot about what she looks for in fleece, and how she manages coating so the fleeces grow well. This girl has a nice white one. It curls differently on her upper body where the rain falls than on her sides, but the fiber is quite uniform.
Here’s an up close shot of one of the fleeces on the sheep. This is 1189 who is the other one blanketed in the first picture; her coat was a little too big for her and so Eileen was switching it out. She pulls coats regularly and fluffs the fleece underneath to make sure it isn’t getting matted down:
Here’s another picture of the girls mugging for the camera or possibly begging for treats:
Eileen teaches all of her sheep to tie and lead. She explains it makes management much easier for her since she doesn’t have to fight with them to move them around. Takes extra work with the lambs, but pays dividends throughout their lives whenever she needs to handle them.
I brought home three fleeces, a Dorset:
The Lincoln fleece from #1188:
And a Romney:
Today I started washing the Lincoln fleece. It was six pounds in the bag. Here it is turned out ready to open up:
And here are some sample locks. Look at that crimp!
I opened the fleece out on a sheet in my living room because I have to start washing the pile you can see there under my puppy grooming table, and if I wait for a dry day in Seattle to start sorting fleeces it will be summer before I get that!
In the whole fleece I only found a few tidbits I wanted to skirt. You can see them in the upper left of the sheet. There were a couple locks that were matted, a few with dags, and a few second cuts. Here’s a close-up:
I’ll leave you with some more fleece beauty shots. It was so lovely!
It’s soaking in the tub now, removing the dirt in prep for it’s scouring wash which I’m about to start. I should have clean, dry fleece to share, perhaps tomorrow!
September 27, 2013 10:46 am
Them what wants not to hear about techie stuff should tl&dr now. This blog post is about my saga choosing a hosting provider.
You have been warned.
In February David and I realized that the ancient Rackspace slice he had was not going to cut it for supporting my “Jennigma” blog after my friend Deb Robson who has a much more popular blog linked off to me and crashed the box. No slight to Rackspace- David set up that slice in 2003 or so. Ten years old is beyond crufty for a server these days; it’s practically a fossil. So I set about looking for a company to host my WordPress site.
Let me start by saying I’ve got to be one of the worst possible customers for any of these guys. I was a network admin for a long, long time, and then a tech PM at Comcast who, among other things, managed the project to launch the first Comcast CDN. But I’ve been out of the game for long enough that I’m not up on the technical details. I don’t happen to have a friend who’s in the know in this industry about who’s good and who’s bad, so I was left to the mercy of provider propaganda, comparison websites and blog posts.
I don’t want to manage a server any more, ever again. I consider all the hard drives in the house to be scratch; all my content is either backed up off-site or in permanent residence on services like Smugmug.com and Dropbox.com. A couple life changing losses of data in my past have made me quite paranoid. Plus, I consider myself to be retired form the network admin/system admin gig. Been there, done that, dun wanna. My goal is to never use a root password again. It’s a bad day when I have to fire up terminal on my laptop. I want to be in the content creation business, not the infrastructure business. There are plenty of people happily doing the latter, and I’m thrilled to give them my money so I don’t have to manage the details any more. All I ask is that it work reasonably well, and nothing gets lost.
The market is … confusing, to say the least. There are good reviews and bad reviews about every provider. Something I discovered almost right out the gate is that people who review hosting providers get kick-backs from any sales that come through their referral link.
I don’t promise I won’t be taking money for this review in the future so you *may* be hitting an affiliate link when you read this, but as of this writing I haven’t received a dime. I’m just a paying customer who’s a little more enlightened than the average schmo about how all this crap works under the covers, and how to evaluate a technical operation.
Back to the story.
I spent my free time for a couple days researching, and in the end punted. I more or less flipped a coin between Bluehost.com and DreamHost.com, since they were who WordPress recommended. I figured while they might not be the *best* choice, at least they wouldn’t be *bad* choices. I wish I could find my notes from the decision making process so I could re-examine them; I know at one point I was going to go with Bluehost, but then something changed my mind. Probably some review somewhere, or maybe I decided they were essentially identical and went with cheaper. Dunno. At any rate, I chose poorly. I went with DreamHost.
I’ve set up a few WordPress installs; I think I started running a wordpress blog in, er, 2002? Something on that order. The admin interface was a bit slow, but WordPress is never speedy. Lots of clicks and waiting for the database to be updated and the new page built. click. snooze. click. snooze. click. Like that. even when I was running a beefy linux box on my home network hosting my blog it wasn’t what I would call fast. I didn’t think much of it.
I got my first surprise when I realized they didn’t offer backups. At all. I somehow had missed that in my evaluations. I installed a plug-in to save back-ups on my Dropbox, was vaguely irritated, and moved on. Sub-optimal, but tolerable.
I got the blog up and it still wasn’t as fast to load pages as I would have liked, so I switched to a super lightweight theme and that took page loads down to under a second. I did a little load testing, declared it good enough, and set about creating content.
I had a few tech support squabbles around billing; because I started with a trial I had to pay for my domain registration, and then when the trial ended they didn’t deduct the domain price (which was supposed to be included) from the full price of the service. They were slow to respond to tickets so I ended up calling them *on the phone* which is never a good sign. Got it sorted out, but I was definitely not thrilled with the service level. It was cheap, though, and seemed to be working.
In April I got the bright idea for Hack Your Clothes! and set up an additional WP instance. I wanted a bit more of a tricked out theme on HYC, and had a hard time with performance, but seemed to get it to a tolerable state.
In June we set up a static site with about five pages on my server for the new iOS ap development project my partner David and I are doing at FrobnotzSoftware.com, so now I was hosting three sites, two WordPress and one static.
Summer happened. I was focussed on stuff in the material world, not the interwebz. The blogs languished.
At the beginning of September I got an email from my friend Amy Cao @ Fiftythree.com concerned that Hack Your Clothes was down and worried that I had dropped the project. I was disturbed. I tried to get to the site and got a 503 error instead. That was wrong. I tried to get to Jennigma, and it was also not responding. I didn’t have time to look at it immediately, but filed it in the “later soon” bucket.
A couple days later I tried again, and got in. I logged into the admin console and everything looked ok. I started researching blog performance and tuned everything I could over the next couple weeks, and was still getting 30s – 5 minute page loads on extremely lightweight blogs that were not seeing any appreciable traffic.
Finally on Sept 21 I was at my wits’ end, and called in David to help me. I assumed I had somehow been hacked or something, because I couldn’t believe my two sites were really using all the resources Dreamhost had allocated for me.
He couldn’t find any issues, so reached out to customer support via chat. He got a one line response from the guy that it must be a problem on our end because it looked fine to him and the guy idled out on the chat session without ever answering follow-up questions. David began poking at the site some more, but still couldn’t find any obvious issues. We logged an official ticket on Sunday night, 9/22. They advertise a 24 hr turnaround on tickets, so we went to bed grumpy and awaiting a response.
In the morning we got a non-response:
I apologize for the delay and for the inconvenience. Looking into this for you I see that there is a higher than normal load on your server. I have contacted our Admins and they are now looking into this for you. If you do not see any improvement in the next hour or two, please write us back and we will take another look.
Ok. I waited. Two hours. No change. I wrote back:
The site is still extraordinarily slow. This has been an issue for at least a week, I just didn’t have a chance to troubleshoot earlier. How soon should I expect this to resolve?
And I started researching. I found several folks complaining that since the recent WordPress major version revision (3.6) Dreamhost had been unreasonably slow, and they hadn’t been responsive about fixing the issue. I started researching other hosting providers.
Got this response:
I apologize for the inconvenience and for the delay. Looking into this for you I see that the load has been brought down to a better load than it was before. I restarted the Apache service for good measure and see that site was still loading slow. I looked a bit deeper and see that while you have caching installed it is not active. Please properly activate it and you should see your site performance improve. I would also remove any and non-essential plugins that are not mission critical.
If you should have any further questions, please feel free to message us
Ooops, had left the caching off on Hack Your Clothes in some round of the troubleshooting. Responded:
The active plug-ins are all essential, and the site was working reasonably well with these caching settings several weeks ago. I haven’t done anything to it since mid August, but was alerted by a reader that they couldn’t get access to the site.
This is an extremely low traffic site at this time. There is no reason the performance should be so poor.
Then turned caching back on, saw no performance improvement, and went on researching. I also posted this to my twitter stream:
I need recommendations for better site hosting. @DreamHost is not cutting it. I’ve been bickering with tech support since last night. Ideas?
http://hackyourclothes.com is taking 60s – 5m to load, and the @DreamHost techs have admitted to server issues, but want me to turn off plugins.
A couple hours later when I checked in the server was even slower, and I got a 503 on the admin page. Sent another email that reflected my growing annoyance:
The server is now throwing errors when I try to get to the admin page:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, email@example.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
The server logs are showing “Premature end of script headers” for some of the wordpress PHP pages.
This is your issue, not my issue. Please fix it. I’m starting to shop for other hosting.
No response from @Dreamhost or tech support, but Jonathan Grieg recommended Bluehost or Digitalocean.com. The latter does virtual private servers only, which doesn’t meet my needs. Both @Digitalocean and @Bluehost responded almost immediately to Jonathan’s tweet, as did a bunch of other twitter trolls. If I were looking for a VPS I would definitely consider DigitalOcean, it’s just not what I want right now.
I had a bunch of friends whose business was interrupted over the summer when Bluehost had a day of downtime, so I was initially not considering them. I looked at a bunch of reviews and other hosting providers, but I’m not going to mention them here since I don’t really know anything about them except what I read on the internet.
What ensued was a long exchange of messages with @Bluehost and @Bluehostsupport, which I won’t copy here; follow the link if you want to read. Suffice to say I pushed them because of the downtime, but they were friendly and responsive. In the end I got an extremely detailed email from one of their engineers telling me excruciating details of the outage, why it happened, and what they’re doing about it. He even told me about an earlier outage I wasn’t aware of, and what they were doing to mitigate that as well. I was impressed.
I’ve been in tech a long time. Outages happen. As long as they are infrequent and quickly remedied I don’t hold them against companies. We talk about “four 9′s” and “five 9′s” in the tech world but that’s really just BS. Stuff happens in tech or we wouldn’t get so defensive about uptime in the first place. What matters is how it gets resolved. All I ask for is respectful and open communication.
At 5:30 I got this email from Dreamhost:
I’ve checked into why you’ve been seeing slowness/timeouts, and it seems your scripts have been getting automatically killed by our Process Watcher script due to your sites going over Memory limits on the shared server: I would highly recommend that you follow the steps in the following wiki article in order to reduce your usage:
Also, please be aware that just because one site is showing errors, it isn’t necessarily the problematic one (of the sites that are on your same FTP/shell user). For instance, if Site A is using 90% of your allotted memory usage, and then Site B attempts to use an additional 15%, Site B will be 5% over and will get it’s script killed. I’d also recommend looking into any 3rd party plugins you may be running, especially if you happen to be running WordPress installs as they can be notoriously poor at memory management. These may help out: http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Poor_performance http://wiki.dreamhost.com/WordPress_Optimization
Lastly, you may want to look into Dreamhost VPS, as you will be able to raise your memory limits to whatever limit you’d like: http://dreamhost.com/servers/vps/ If you have any questions on the specifics, please feel free to reply and ask. Bringing down your memory usage would obviously be ideal in your situation, but we would be happy to upgrade you as well, if desired! Just let us know.
So, deconstructing this, Dreamhost is telling me they don’t give me enough resources to run two small WP sites, even though the account limits allow up to 5 instances. But they’d be HAPPY! to sell sell sell if I want to shell out $$$ for more space. Uhm, no. I responded:
What are my memory limits? What is reasonable memory performance for wordpress installs?
I’m running two wordpress installs and a static site: hackyourclothes.com, jennigma.net, and frobnotzsoftware.com. HYC reports ~30Mb usage with all plug-ins off, and ~45Mb with my current configuration. jennigma is similar at 25/41 Mb for all off/current config. frobnotz is a static site with 5 or so pages; I have to assume its memory footprint is in the noise.
>These numbers seem reasonable to me. Am I missing something? Are your limits seriously that low?
When I thought a little more about the outage I had known about, I realized not one of my friends had seen it as a reason to change providers. I had expressed sympathies and condolences to several, and they defended Bluehost. If I recall correctly they had received emails informing them of the outage while it was in progress, rather than discovering their sites down unexpectedly. That coupled with the rapid and detailed responses I was getting from Bluehost won me over.
At 9pm on 9/23, about 24 hrs after I logged the ticket complaining my sites were effectively down, David and I had the following exchange in IM:
In the morning I bought a Bluehost subscription. I chatted with pre-sales about making sure I was buying the right size package to have a pleasant experience. I explicitly asked if I should get their “Pro” package, and was told no, that would be a waste of money for me at this time. High contrast with Dreamhost already!
I began configuring the site, and had many chat conversations and a phone exchange with the Bluehost folks, all of which were delightful.
Tuesday night at 9pm, more than a day after the last exchange with Dreamhost, I received the following:
I’m very sorry about this. The limit was lower than it should have been set. I just ran a config to update this for you. If you notice any further disruptions let us know and we’ll check your logs again. I’m sorry to say we cannot disclose the exact limits, but they are higher than 50MB.
I checked, and my servers were still non responsive. Whatever the tech did it didn’t help. I wrote back that I was moving to Bluehost. Instead of questions about why I was leaving or how they could make things right I received a canned response with account shutdown instructions. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, dear customer. Yeah, thanks.
Meanwhile, David and I borked the first attempt to move the WordPress installs. Neither of us are WordPress heroes, so we ended up with corrupted databases. I logged a ticket asking them to reset them to clean installs and went to bed. When I woke up I was looking forward to some morning puttering, but there was an email waiting saying the ticket was closed and the clean servers were ready for me to setup. So I did.
Instead of the attempt to move things I started from scratch configuring the new instances on Bluehost to match the old ones on Dreamhost. This was when the difference REALLY became apparent. I started by uploading all the content (the easy part!) and installing all of the same plug-ins and themes, putting the servers under identical loads. I then had to walk through all the configuration screens to make them match. I would push a button on Dreamhost, knit a round on a sock (I kid you not! a minute at least, and frequent 503′s!) then when Dreamhost FINALLY refreshed I’d push the same button on Bluehost, the page would load in under a second, and I would flip switches and type in #color codes and do whatever and sundry to make them match, then push another button on Dreamhost and knit another round.
It was excruciating.
I started at 7am, and was still configuring at 6:30 pm when David came home.
Finally it was done, though. I contacted Bluehost tech support, we did configuration and DNS witchery to point the world at the new sites, and I’m now ready to say buh-bye to Dreamhost. Things have been humming along for a day and a half now. I’ve got all my clients switched over to the new installs, and have exercised all my posting tools, and tweaked and poked at things until I’m fairly content. It’s much more pleasurable to tune up a WordPress install when it responds immediately to my clicks.
In summary, Bluehost isn’t perfect, but they’re awfully good. They really seem to care about making things right. They are consistently cheerful and responsive, which is a hard thing to maintain in a big customer support organization. They make me want to take a trip to Provo, UT with a plate of brownies. I love hiking in the hills near Provo, actually; I have several fond memories of visiting. Perhaps on my next trip I’ll say thanks in person.
Dreamhost, on the other hand, at least as of this writing is horrid. run away, run far away.
September 18, 2013 10:46 am
Yesterday I went down to Curtis, Washington to visit Autumn Hills BFL Farm.
They sell fiber, ram lambs for breeding stock, and locker lambs. Their flock is fed grass exclusively; they hay their field in the spring when it’s outgrowing the sheep to have hay in the winter.
The ewes that aren’t up to muster as high quality breeding stock are bred to a bfl/suffolk ram to make bigger, tastier lambs. Penny is on that list because, even though she’s the friendliest in the flock, her fleece is sadly not very nice:
Patricia keeps both white and colored sheep in her flock and sells fleece for hand spinners. She has fading black and “black patterned” ewes. Black patterned appears to be the same marking pattern as badger-face in various breeds such as the CVM or katmoget in Shetlands. Their bodies are cream or grey, and their points are black, with distinctive white face markings. I love their roman noses!
She also has a border leicester ewe, and a couple old merino/bfl cross ewes from when she was deciding what breed to raise.
The fine fleeced BFL sheep are lovely. I wish I had gotten pictures of their fleeces up close, but this is a good example:
She shears in March- I’ll be going back to get some of that fiber, for certain! I came home with a nice BFL/Merino cross fleece.
Look at that crimp!
September 11, 2013 7:53 am
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Her name is Caprica, (Well, really it’s CNC’s Platinum Caprica Six) and she’s an eleven week old standard poodle.
She’s teeth and springs covered in marshmallow fluff and about as busy and needy as an 18 month old toddler on a tear. She needs to eat, poop, play, and be loved, within firm and non-negotiable boundaries. Most of our pictures of her are when she’s sleeping, because when she’s awake at least one hand is required to interact with her.
Also, her naps are contagious.
She’s smart. Crazy smart. She came having not walked on a leash. She learned in about 15 minutes to give to pressure, and by the end of the evening we had done a couple puppy sized figure-8′s in a textbook heel. Along the way she offered a sit and I started shaping that as well, so in one evening of about three sessions while outside doing business she had the foundation of “sit” and “heel” down. To the point where she now becomes indignant if she sits and there isn’t a treat and praise. Which there usually isn’t, of course. The behavior bar is going to get raised higher and higher.
The decision to bring Caprica home was in some ways sudden; we have been talking for years about getting a “next dog.” Part of David would die if he were dog-less and Rosa is 12. She’s still healthy and happy and active, but she has more years behind her than in front. Poodle has been the only breed we kept coming back to as a possibility. We discussed more or less all of the herding breeds and some hounds, but none of them met our criteria.
So a week ago we decided we wanted to get serious about looking for a puppy, decided Standard Poodle was a good breed for us, found an excellent breeder with a perfect puppy about 15 minutes later, did some more research to confirm the breed and breeder were really the right one for us, went and met her, and brought her home Sunday.
Because Rosa and David are tightly bonded, and because I both have experience raising puppies and am able to be home all day, I’m her primary handler. I told David last night I’m making him a dog, which is pretty close to the truth. I love animals and dogs are no exception, but all things being equal I am moving towards simplifying my life and probably wouldn’t get another one. David, though, needs a dog, and I’m his partner, so we’re going to have a dog. I’m making sure she’s the best dog she can be.
The next few weeks are intensive puppy training time, while we settle into housebreaking and she learns what the limits of her environment are. I’m probably going to be raising a puppy and not much else. In the way of a mother of a young child, I only get to tend to necessities while the puppy is sleeping, which means I have a half hour to ninety minutes in 3-4 snatches a day for things like taking a shower, eating, shopping, and cleaning. And she wakes me up 2-3 times a night to go out.
Of course I could in theory leave her crated or in a playpen more so I could work more, but right now I think it’s important to establish that floors and crates are not for peeing, and to work out signals with her so she can let me know when she needs to go out and I can let her know what’s ok and what’s not. I very much believe in positive conditioning and establishing good attachment and trust in young people and animals. I believe that’s the foundation of a stable, healthy, happy temperament. so that’s what I’m doing. It’s a tremendous amount of work right now, but will pay off dividends for the rest of her life. I want a happy, secure, trainable dog. Trust and communication are the foundation of that.
All that stuff last post about having a productive schedule? Yeah. That’s out the window until at least October. Anything I accomplish above the bare minimum necessary to keep the family clean and fed will be a miracle. I’m busy right now, making a dog.
September 6, 2013 8:48 am
Wow, summer really just whizzed by. Wasn’t it May yesterday? No wait- that was just last blog post.
It was a good summer. An amazing summer. I spent a lot of time with my son just exercising our creativity in various ways. We traveled, we made stuff, we talked. I taught classes, and became much more confident in my ability to create and execute a class outline. My students made some amazing things.
On the other hand, the public face of Hack Your Clothes languished, to the point that it has become a mill stone. It’s time for me to shift focus back to it. To that end I’m planning to start a weekly rhythm of adding content to the site. One of my goals for today is to determine what a good rhythm will be, and lay out that plan. I want to work on the lexicon, start reviewing tutorials, and document some of my patterns.
I also started a machine knitting book that I’m kind of excited about finishing and getting out into the world. So I will work on that as well. It’s based in part on the tutorials I’ve taught on using the machines, but also goes into more depth on the mechanicals to help someone new to knitting machines who wants to rehab an old machine. Basically it will be the guide I wish I had when I was starting.
I’ve also spent a lot of rumination time on process and planning and how that works in my life. I found some new tools, and sort of bounced back and forth between logging my accomplishments in DayOne and building and living by a todo list in ActionMethod. I noticed that when I was logging accomplishments I felt better and was more creative, but not surprisingly things got dropped. When I was using a todo list I was better at tracking and finishing the things I wrote down, but my creativity level diminished. I pretty clearly need both, but they are somewhat mutually exclusive. Dilemma.
The todo list becomes stultifying when cruft builds up in it that is nebulous and large, such as a task I just deleted from ActionMethod: “Revise Machine Knitting Book.” huh? one todo list item? fer srsly? What was I thinking? I have about 45 pages and on the order of 150 graphics already laid in, and I’m on the second of 10 or so chapters. It’s a major project, not a todo list item. The “scan and archive paperwork” item is still on the list, though, and the pile is still on my desk waiting patiently for me to apply a roundtuit. I need a todo list to keep me honest about those things.
The journal log is uplifting. I can read about all the things I accomplished in a day, and writing about what I’m doing when it’s fresh and I’m in the middle of it is clarifying and accelerates my creative process. I want to keep that going. But I seem to have an either/or mode; I can’t do both in the same day. I don’t think I can shift modes even on alternate days.
So here’s my plan. I’m going to shift around how I manage my time on a monthly basis, by alternating weeks between to do and to done. And I’m going to use two to do list tools to discourage cruft accumulating. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Week 1: The first week of the month starting with a Sunday. Creative/journal tracking week using DayOne. Begin the week by reviewing previous Journal week’s activities. Think about three creative goals for the week, and write about them.
Week 2: To Do List driven using Any.DO. Begin the week by reviewing last month’s old entries and deleting most of them. Review ActionMethod for any actions that should be carried forward to this week’s list. Review next two weeks’ schedule and add actions as necessary. Anything more than a week away goes on the calendar or on the *ActionMethod* “someday” list. Be realistic about what is being planned, and get it done. Do these things this week, no excuses.
Week 3: Creative/journal tracking week using DayOne. Begin the week by reviewing previous Journal week’s activities. Think about three creative goals for the week, and write about them.
Week 4: To Do List driven using ActionMethod. Begin the week by reviewing last month’s old entries and deleting most of them. Review Any.DO for any actions that should be carried forward to this week’s list. Review next two weeks’ schedule and add actions as necessary. Anything more than a week away goes on the calendar or on the *Any.DO* “someday” list. Be realistic about what is being planned, and get it done. Do these things this week, no excuses.
Bonus Days: Most months will have some time at the month’s transition. Spend the month coming up with a big project to focus on intensively in this time. Do it.
This will be crosscut by my weekly objectives. *every* week will see predictable content updates. I am ruminating on exactly what things to lay out on exactly which days, but I want a weekly rhythm of output. This monthly creative/productive rhythm is a bigger cycle.
I’m also going to review my daily rhythm. I need to re-commit to the morning routine; having Zachary in the house of course affected how my mornings ran. I also want to schedule more physical activity into my days; I slide into afternoon doldrums without it. And I’d like to get back to cooking meals for dinner most days rather than eating out or grazing. It’s a habit we’ve fallen out of, and I want it back.
This may be an overly ambitious set of changes, and certainly it will have to flex and bend around travel and events. But I think the rhythm is good. I have always responded well to having a rhythm in my doings. This feels right.
May 28, 2013 12:25 pm
I had aspirations of working on the porch after lunch, but alas the laptop screen is just not up to even a moderately overcast day. Lunch was delicious, though, and it was lovely to be outside. I had a wrap with bacon, smoked turkey, pepper cress, mizuna, and Arugula Ladysmith cheese that all came from the farmer’s market yesterday, along with organic carrots and cherries from the market. Yum.
Today has been about gently meeting the whiny “I dun wanna” inner voice with a resolute “but I’m gonna.” This is a theme for me. The gently part is new and the hardest. I grew up pushing through whatever internal obstacles I found with no regard for where they came from, and I bullied myself into bad situations, illness, and other unpleasantness by not honoring my internal voices.
Accepting that sometimes I need rest, or need to back up and find a new approach to solving a problem is *hard* for me. I am terrified it will slide into the sloth and topor of deep depression, and I fear that like few things. I lost years of my life to depression. I am one of the fortunate few who easily found just the right medicine to counteract it; a low dose of Wellbutrin gives me the space I need to see colors through the dim haze when it starts to cloud my perceptions. But that fear of stillness remains a part of me.
Tuesdays after staying up late for the Hack Your Clothes evenings have proven impossible for me. I have lost every one to exhaustion. Today I’m doing a little better than the past few, and I’ve talked to Matt about leaving earlier. I can stay til 10:30 or 11, but sticking around past midnight doesn’t work for me. As long as the flier and announcements are changes to reflect the times he’s fine with that. Good news.
So first thing this (late) morning I reworked the flyer for Hack Your clothes night. I also worked through a gentle yoga practice, folded and put away laundry, cleaned the kitchen, did some other editing, and made a healthy delicious lunch instead of grazing. I’m tired and headachy and generally feeling less than 100%, but I’m proud both of the efforts I’m making to keep moving forward and the respect I’m paying to my physical needs. Finding a balance.
As soon as my food settles there will be napping, and then I’m not sure what’s next. I’ll see how I feel when I wake up. I may go back to Metrix or I may stay here and work on writing things. The important thing is to find my pace and keep moving forward.
May 22, 2013 7:54 am
It’s been the better part of a month since I started the morning routine, and I’ve been pretty good about it. I would say 5 days out of seven I do all the things I outlined. They were:
- Up at 6am
- Start the tea and putter
- Meditate for 5 minutes
A couple weeks ago I realized that meditating after exercise was a better routine. Sometimes I wake up with stuff I want to write in my head, so the writing happens before the exercise and meditation. Some of the writing is private journalling, so I’m not sharing it. But by and large this is all happening most of the time, and it’s goodness. Except.
Meditation really isn’t doing anything for me. I sit quietly. I focus down to my breathing and still my mind. I stay there for 5 minutes. I found a lovely ap called “Samsara” for iPad and iPhone that starts and ends the meditation with a pretty bell and displays a circle on the screen. Simple and perfect for the task; I shared it with David as an example of great ap design. But I’m just not feeling it.
I know all the science I believe in meditation it’s something I’ve always wanted to add to my life in a structured way. I’ve meditated occasionally for most of my life; I started a daily yoga practice at the age of 12 and the folks I met in yoga circles made it pretty hard to avoid drinking the meditation kool-aid. but, eh. I don’t look forward to it, I don’t dread it, I don’t feel anything about it. I’m not arriving at profound insights or feeling uncomfortable. There just doesn’t seem to be anything there for me. The benefits meditation are supposed to convey are things I find while knitting and while exercising. Just sitting is, well, just sitting.
At least for me, at least for now, it’s not the thing. I’ll give it till the end of the month to feel differently about it, but I’m past the 21 days of habit forming and I think this is one habit I don’t need to form.
The other thing I started, outside the morning routine, was the Monday night hack your clothes events. They are awesome. But staying at Metrix until after midnight is not awesome. It pretty much plows me under all of Tuesday, because I stay up til almost 2 after clean-up and the drive home and some settle-in time, then wake up reflexively at 6, and 4 hrs sleep is insufficient for me to be effective at anything. I stumble through the day with a headache and a dull mind. Naps help a little, but insufficiently. I need to adjust the timing so I can be unconscious by midnight, latest.
May 14, 2013 11:49 am
David and I have been talking lately about how it feels to act vs. standing still, and how standing still itself is an action. I’ve been thinking about this also with the work I’m doing on hackyourclothes.com and my new habits of meditation and exercise. I listened to a podcast this morning while folding laundry by Jonathan Fields and Majka Burhardt about risk and action and creating a life out of passions, and it blended all of these thoughts.
The difference seems to me to be in the choosing. It feels *like* it will be more comfortable to remain still than to act when I’m in a time of choosing, and yet stillness is uncomfortable when I’m in it while action is the path to joy. It feels *like* action is risky and scary, and yet the greatest risk and scariest outcome is doing nothing. I feel worst on the days I have given in to the urge to stasis, and best on the days I’ve taken the most action.
Something I heard the other day somewhere caught my attention. It was something about not trying to think about what I’m doing while I’m doing it, that analysis and action are different activities and mutually exclusive. I feel this. The fastest way to knock myself out of a groove is to start thinking about what it means that I’m doing what I’m doing.
To that end I’ve been ruminating a lot about creating a life. My cynical voice tells me I’ve been doing that more than I’ve been living it. So I’m going to focus on acting more and ruminating less. I can garden or write poetry or work on the website or take a walk or a nap- whatever feels right in the moment. Thinking less about my life and plans and goals, and more about short term active and creative outbursts.
I have lots to share and lots to give. These things have value. I need most to not worry about the hows and why’s in the short term, and more about the do’s. More creativity and less analysis.
I’ve sort of been shifting in this direction over the past couple weeks. I’m not looking at a todo list during the day, rather I’m journalling things I have done in an ap called “Day One.” Accomplishments and difficulties, successes and failures, whatever happens. I’m making a catalog of my actions, and it’s far more inspiring to read back over that than over any todo list I’ve ever made.
There are times and places when I need to strictly focus and channel my efforts to meet some goal. This is not one of those times. Right now is about setting myself free to run in a million directions at once and try as many things as I can to find what resonates with me and with other people. So I’m off to do. Something. A nap first, I think; being out past midnight saps me. Then perhaps gardening. Beyond that will take care of itself.