Friday, January 13, 2017

Happy New Year!

The month is not over, so in the French tradition, I can still wish everyone a Happy New Year. Since I haven't written in a long time, I've managed to wish the a happy new year to friends and family personally over the phone.
There's not much to say. The US election is about to enter into effect. The new Congress has already started. Their busy confirming Trump's cabinet nominations. What strange nominations, too. It seems to me that each one is in opposition to the post he or she has been assigned. For education, someone opposed to public education. For housing, someone opposed to housing. For energy, someone who couldn't even remember the name of the department back when he was a candidate, and who doesn't believe climate change is caused by human activity. For the State Department, someone who has had close business interests in Russia. The list goes on like that. The hearings are interesting, but it's not as though the Democrats will be able to stop the confirmations.
The president-elect, himself, is still in candidate mode. He doesn't believe anything the FBI, CIA, or NSA have to report to him. He seems to get his information from twitter and deliver his thoughts via twitter. His behavior is childish. He's easily angered and reacts immediately to anything that disturbs him with insults. As far as the intelligence reports are concerned, well, he finally concedes that, yes, the Russians were behind much of the campaign havoc, the hacking of the DNC emails, for example. There's a rumor of his being subject to blackmail because of a sex tape the Russians made a few years ago, but it's a rumor and every legitimate news organization is saying it's an unconfirmed report, yet he treats the media as being the source of it and treating it as news. Of course, without the recording, it will remain a rumor - unconfirmed.
There's a campaign to boycott the inauguration coverage. That's easy for me. I won't go to the American Library in Paris to watch. They always show the inauguration, so it's not a big thing that they are doing it, but I won't go. I won't watch any channel, here, that might be covering it. Of course, here, it doesn't matter. It is not something that will enter the ratings. But in the US, the boycott is more difficult because for it to have any meaning, people will have to turn on their TVs in order to be counted, but tune in to a channel that will not be covering the inauguration. The next day, there is a women's march in Washington, protesting the president, protesting the Republican schemes to overturn the Roe vs Wade decision, to do away with legal abortions, planned parenthood, the Affordable Care Act, and more. There are sister marches all over the country and in major cities around the world. I'll be going to the one in Paris. I accept the election. I don't like it, but I accept it. That said, I'll support whatever possible to let the President know it was not a popular or landslide victory and whatever possible to make sure all the progress made in the past 50 years is not swept aside.
Meanwhile, I'm knitting away.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Still knitting

About the knitting -- it's at the bottom of the post!
Well, the election is past. I'm as mad as hell that the pavoter site still claims my absentee ballot hasn't been received. I put the ballot in a mail box on Oct. 2, so it got picked up on Oct. 3. When I checked 10 days before the election, I saw there was a problem because it hadn't been received. I downloaded a new ballot and sent it in on Nov. 2, adding tracking to it. Well, it's arrived, but not yet registered on the site as having been received. I shall call the in Philadelphia Election Board, again, on Monday. I called them on Tuesday, election day, and was assured there were bags and bags of absentee ballots waiting to be scanned into the system. I'm hopeful. I don't think the number of absentee votes will swing PA in the other direction, but I do want to know that my vote was received and counted.
Now, about the election result. I'm disappointed. I'm not shocked. Somehow, I was convinced this was possible once the Brexit vote came as a true shock in June. I'm now just as concerned about the upcoming French Presidential election. A couple of weeks ago, I read Paul Theroux's Deep South on the recommendation of a fellow overseas American (in Brazil). It is another eye-opener. The way the rest of the United States has neglected the South is horrifying. The thing is, I bet there are, maybe smaller, pockets of such neglect all over. Look at the water in Flint. The economy has improved during Obama's presidency, but too many people are not really feeling it. So, that explains one part of the electorate, who believe that they've lost and others (minorities, women) have gained too much. Then, there are those who have, have a lot, and will always vote for the traditional Republican promises of lower taxes and eliminating the estate and gift taxes. Now, Trump, in his victory speech, says he'll get to work on the infrastructure as a first priority. Good. I think everyone agrees US infrastructure needs to be repaired or rebuilt. But, any bill that calls for an expense has to have a "pay for" element. That's a rule the Republicans put into place. So, how are they going to pay for this infrastructure if they cut taxes?
The Republicans have also promised residence-based-taxation. That's my thing. I will work to hold them to this promise. They have also vowed to repeal FATCA. If we have residence-based-taxation, I really have no problem left with FATCA. All my reporting will be done to France and I would have no reporting left for the US. The OECD has come up with its own automatic information exchange formula, requiring financial institutions to report the accounts of account-holders who do not reside in the country of the institution to their country of tax residence. That suits me fine. The thing is, the US won't sign on to that. They are only interested in inbound reporting, and are not at all desirous of outbound reporting - just think  of all the NRA (non-resident aliens) who have US accounts, who are either government officials or in the opposition at home and add the US citizens who live abroad who maintain accounts in the US. Personally, it's not a problem for me if my US accounts were reported directly to the French. I do it, myself, already. But it would be expensive for banks to put such reporting in place. Now, the IRS and US banks had no qualms about imposing that on foreign institutions, but the US banks do not want to bear such an expense. It has been terribly expensive for foreign institutions to comply with FATCA, but since that expense didn't cost the IRS, the US doesn't care. Institutions that have found compliance with FATCA to be just too expensive have preferred to eliminate the US-tainted customers. The Democrats finally came to realize that FATCA was flawed and their promise was to allow us a "same country exclusion" which would have helped us in our home countries on the condition that it did not require more expense for the banks.
Enough of all that. Here's that dress I knitted. I haven't dyed it yet. I don't know what color I want it. It fits, but I think if I made it again, I'd lengthen the bust about 2 or 3 cm. and maybe the skirt, too. The sleeves come just to the below the elbow. The neckline is okay. That's about it.
Now, I'm working on an intarsia picture. It's difficult for me, and I can already feel underneath that there are some dropped stitches here and there that will need repair. The intarsia is 96 stitches wide and 114 rows longs. I've made the entire piece a bit wider, so it will make a rather large pillow or a wall hanging. I can only concentrate on a few rows a day, so I figure it'll take me another 10 days to 2 weeks to complete.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mostly Knitting

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the Bois de Vincennes.  First stop was at Stade Pershing to see some of the game between the PUC and the Wallabies. PUC I get; it stands for Paris Université Club and the baseball section has been around for more than a hundred years. It might not sound great in English, but we speak French, here. This is the club I belonged to when I was a scorekeeper and this was Louis' club when he played. Wallabies? They are from Normandy, from Louviers, not far from Rouen. Why did they choose an Australian animal?
Back to the game. I don't know what the score was when I strolled in, but I think I watched 2 innings, maybe it was only an inning and a half. There were so many errors on the part of the PUC defense, I couldn't keep track of how many runs were scored. Then, when the PUC finally came up to bat, without hearing the slightest clink of the aluminum bats, I saw too many walked in runs. The bleachers, if that's what you can call them, have been condemned, already, for several years. The city replaced the old splintered wood with plastic that melted out of shape, almost immediately. So, you climb over the barriers and sit, sort of, for as long as you can stand it. It was warm and sunny, but after losing all interest in the game, I got up and continued my walk.
The fall colors are starting to show up nicely. Lots of people were out rowing on the Lac des Minimes. I finished going around the lake and had, what I assume will be, my last ice cream cone of the year from the stand. I turned towards Fontenay-sous-Bois and came home that way. According to MapMyWalk, that was a 5.67 km. walk.
I got home and picked up my crochet work. I'm adding a scallop edge to the skirt hem of a dress I knitted on the machine last week. It's an Anne Lavene design. I'll add the same edge to the sleeves and to the waist, when I join the bodice to the skirt. I made it with a fully closed skirt, seam on the side. I used Yeomans 100% Cotton Slub CK2, which, I have decided, I don't like. The idea is to dye this once it's all assembled. That's why I chose it, but the yarn kept getting all knotted up, coming off the cone, and I found it tedious to work with. Even crocheting, it gets all knotted up, so it's not because of the speed in machine knitting that made it do that. Also, it knitted up slanted, so it's awfully hard to block and get straight, again. I'm still not sure the center of the bodice will find itself in the center. One think I can say in favor of the yarn is that it is economical. I bought 2 cones and have not even used half of the first, even though I made 2 bodices! I thought I had made a mistake, when the first one looked so off-balance, so I made a second one, paying extra special attention not to make any mistakes -- and I didn't -- but it came out just as skewed. I'm going to finish this thing and see what it's like all put together.
Before that, I had tried to make a sweater for Paul, a double-knit. It looks all knit on the wrong side and on the right side, it looks like vertical stripes. It looks all stretched out in the picture. Doing the 5-stitch crossed cables every two rows turned out to be too much for me. There were some dropped stitches; I had to start over; again, dropped stitches, again, start over. When I discovered the dropped stitches, again, I gave up. The color doesn't show well, here. It's a dark, inky blue. Beautiful, fine, merino wool, also from Yeoman's. I had the yarn shipped to France. Yes, it was a bit expensive to do that, but still cheaper than a trip by car to England. (I ordered a lot of yarn!)
For anyone still interested, AARO had its own presidential election debate on October 19. We invited all four parties, but the Green party did not respond to our invitation. We posted the video the next day. It was a good evening. Cordial. Nothing like what we see going on in the US.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Back from a Birthday Week

We got home, yesterday, from a short week in England. It was C's birthday and we arrived just in time for the big family celebration with everyone. This time we took the Eurostar. For the two of us, managing to reserve enough time in advance, we managed to get reasonably priced tickets that made the journey less expensive than going by car. When we go by car, we have to take into consideration not only the tunnel fee, but also the toll on the French autoroute and the gas. When we go by Eurostar, we have to consider not only the Eurostar fare, but also the fare up to Northampton. All in all, the Eurostar is more comfortable. We took a big suitcase this time because there were birthday gifts on the TO route and an accessory for one of the knitting machines on the RETURN route. Next time, if we take the train, we'll do everything possible to fit into our "overhead" cases to share the lugging. In any case, we got to Duston in time for lunch.
For a first birthday, a kid has no idea of what's going on. For a second birthday, they start getting the idea, but the ideal birthday, I think, is the third. C was so, so, so happy it was her birthday and was so excited to be the star of the day she couldn't keep still. She had helped her Mommy make the cake and it was the "Best Ever Chocolate Cake" from the AAWE recipe book that we all swear is absolutely the best ever. It was decorated with Smarties and raspberries and blueberries. (As usual, I only share photos with family and if I forgot to add you to the sharing, then email or phone me and I will.) It was very, very good. So was the whole lunch, but really for a birthday, it's all about the cake.
Cake was followed by opening presents, which took a bit of time as the cousins' gifts were very small in size and each individually wrapped. C is a very meticulous girl and tries very hard to open gifts carefully so as not to tear the paper. The London family had to leave almost immediately after the gifts were all opened and so did Daddy, who was off to a conference.
Monday, once everyone had gone to school, day care, and work, we got on a bus and went to the city center. Building around Northampton is booming; Duston seems to have a new housing estate under construction each time we go. This does not seem to affect downtown Northampton. The empty shops are still mostly empty or turned into charity shops; there are several pound shops. Paul needed a new sweater, which we found at the Edinburgh Woolen Mill shop, and I found what I needed at M&S, but nothing else caught our eye, not even for lunch, so we picked up some sandwiches and headed back. We got on a bus that I knew would get us back home, but I had no idea it would take us on such a long route. We discovered how big Duston, at least New Duston, is.
The next day, we ventured down the Main Road to a coffee and lunch place that features lots of "homemade" items on the menu. I wish I knew where "home" was. It was all microwave-reheated. The next couple of days, we were happy getting lunch from the Co-op. I could have fished around in the fridge and freezer at home for lunch, but really didn't feel like it.
So, that's it. Home in Nogent, now.