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Archive for December, 2006

by Evelina West
Once upon time, Uncle Cale and Aunt Melissa wanted to take me to the church that they go to. I was so excited to go. I got on all my dress stuff, and Dominick got on all his church clothes too. We got in the car and rode. Uncle Cale started to drive and it wasn’t very long until we got there. We standed up and blessded God. Then we went back to Mamaw and Papaw’s house and ate some lunch and went to bed.
The End. Bless God. Amen. Love Evelina.
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Ok, so I didn’t manage to pull off the roasted chestnuts or the wassail or whatever the hell else I thought – oh, the figgy pudding; that was a bad turn of fate, I think. Evidently, I walked out of the grocery store without my bread crumbs. I purchased them, but I guess they ran off. By the time I realized the escape, it was much too late to make some at home; figgy pudding takes at least three hours to cook. But we did have rum balls, barely. Dad swigged most of the rum and enjoyed White Christmas and the wrapping and baking antics of the rest of us a little too much. I’m making figgy pudding in spite of the holiday being over. I have the bread crumbs now and I am not a slave to the calendar, speaking of which, I’ll be mailing out my Lazy Christmas Cards after the New Year.
So, oh well. There’s always next year to fill in the missing parts of my Traditional Christmas. And next year, I think we’ll go a-wassailing and then come home and drink some wassail and eat our figgy pudding. It’ll be great!

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Hat and iPod purse

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Yay for Knitting!

I just finished my first and second knitting projects – a man’s hat and an iPod/cell phone case. Photos to follow.
Knitting is great. I just get a cramp in my left hand, and I’m still much faster crocheting, obviously. I discovered that I’m knitting a little weird. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I think I’m Combined Knitting, which, from what I understand, is a cross between Continental and English Methods. So I guess I hold the working yarn in my left hand as for Continental, but I wrap it around the needle the direction for English. It’s no big deal, except that I purl standard Continental Method. The mixture of the two creates stitches that are disoriented on the needle and things can look twisted. So either I’m going to make myself knit standardly, or I’m going to learn to purl the combined way.

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Praise for a Promise

Last week I heard on the radio the announcement of a new program called the Pittsburgh Promise that’s set to begin in 2008. It’s a sort of scholarship proposal that guarantees college tuition to qualifying students who graduate from Pittsburgh city schools. There are no financial requisites, and the only other criteria that have been set so far are general ones that confirm a kind of common sense attitude toward proper attendence, appropriate behavior, and good grades. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Mark Roosevelt (Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools) are still hashing out all the details.
So the basic idea is that by guaranteeing college money to students early on in their education, they will work harder to obtain the grades and that might translate into fewer kids and teenagers getting into trouble thereby possibly reducing crime. Mayor Ravenstahl’s other goal is that doing this will also draw families into the city and encourage the ones there to stay and this will have some economic effect, possibly creating more jobs and boosting the real estate market (as if it needed it in the city).
That last snide comment aside, I think it’s a great idea. I know some people think it’s nuts or too drastic to be successful, but I think it’s just the thing that might set the city down a more profitable path.
When I was listening to the talk radio guy on KDKA (sorry, don’t remember who) discuss it with his callers I remembered a book I read called The Tipping Point. Its focus is on why and how certain trends become trends. It’s sort of a socioeconomic science book for the general public. It contains information from which you learn something new without sounding like a textbook. Its bottom line, and indeed its subtitle, is “how little things can make a big difference.” In other words, what is the point at which something will tip and result in a change? There are lots of anecdotes illustrating the phenomena of word of mouth advertising and what the author calls “stickiness.” It’s quite intriguing and now that my intest is piqued, I think I’ll read it again.
Anyway, the reason I thought of it during this radio discussion was because of all the emphasis put on the possibility of the Pittsburgh Promise eventually trickling down into economic change. I think it’s good future planning and shows insight into social workings. It’s a somewhat small change relative to the distress and decline of the city, and the idea of giving away money seems contrary to the want of improving the place. Or, if not contrary, at least unrelated. But there’s a story in The Tipping Point about how New York City officials and police wanted to reduce the crime in the subways. They did it starting by cleaning graffiti off all the cars. Every night when the cars came in, a team of people would clean graffiti and repaint cars if necessary. This went on for a length of time that I can’t recall and partnered with a few other seemingly small adjustments, (such as cracking down on people trying to dodge paying their fare) crime was significantly reduced in the subways. At the first mention of the idea, people balked because who would think that graffiti or the absense of it would have any relation to crime? Turns out, that was the tipping point.
Who is to say that giving away some money to educate young people who probably don’t otherwise have a chance at pursuing a good education much less at earning a decent living might not be the tipping point for the city of Pittsburgh?
Below are some links to initial media reports of the plan and the last link is a kind of funny parody of it by some Pittsburgh bloggers.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
KDKA
Pittsburgh Tribune
Pittsburgh Bloggers

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Yay!

Yay for digital cameras! (Christmas came early for me.)

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Chastity and Jessica

Jessica’s the fairy and I’m the squinty one.

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