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12th November 2013

10:11pm: Recipe Time: Beef Fried Rice
Beef Fried Rice



My own recipe made up on the fly for dinner tonight, but the way I've got the recipe laid out here is straight from Alton Brown.




Prep time: Depends on how fast you chop. (It took me 15 minutes total for everything, including steam-microwaving the frozen edamame and shelling it.)
Cook time: Less than 10 minutes.
Total time: 25 minutes.

Serves: 3-5, depending on if it's a main course or a side. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days and reheats well in the microwave so it makes a good left-overs lunch.

Software:

Rice:
1lb beef chuck, sliced into 1/2" or smaller blocks.
2c cooked rice, room temperature. (Best if you make it the night before.)
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
1/2c carrot, finely chopped
1/4c edamame, cooked and shelled (no need to salt them)
2-5 cloves of garlic, minced (to taste, I used 4)
1/2" ginger, grated
2 large eggs, beaten
Shoyu
1-2Tbsp Tonkatsu sauce (to taste)
2-3Tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive because it's what I had)

Sauce:
1Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
1-2tsp prepared wasabi paste
Roasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Hardware:

Wok, or large non-stick frying pan.
Utensil for safely moving hot things around in a pan (spoon/spatula/femurs of your enemies/etc.)
2 small bowls (one for the sauce, one for the eggs)
Measuring spoon (for the sauce)

Whisk/Fork (for the eggs)
Bowls and eating utensils (more bones from your enemies could be good here - maybe an ulna?)

Instructions:

Be sure to have all your ingredients prepped beforehand - this process goes quick and you will not have time between steps to prep the other ingredients.

1) Put the vegetable oil into the pan, and place it over medium-high heat.
2) When the oil has come to temperature (a wooden chopstick or spoon handle will give off tiny bubbles when placed in the oil), add the garlic and ginger and stir quickly until it starts to become fragrant.
3) Add the beef and a dash of shoyu (about 1/2tsp), continuing to stir quickly.
4) When the beef is half-cooked, add the onions and carrots and another dash of shoyu, continuing to stir quickly.
5) When the onions are becoming translucent, add the edamame, stir briefly, then add the egg.
6) Continue stirring until the mixture becomes a bit dry in the pan - not completely dry, but sizzling more than burbling. (It shouldn't burble much to begin with - if it does, you added too much shoyu.)
7) Add the rice and break it up into the mixture using your chosen utensil. Drizzle tonkatsu sauce over everything, and stir until everything is evenly incorporated. You don't want rice chunks.
8) Turn off the burner and take the pan off the heat. In the other small bowl thoroughly mix the mayonnaise and wasabi. Mix in sesame oil until it reaches a consistency you like. If you like, you can toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown and fragrant, but with all the sesame oil in the sauce, this isn't completely necessary. Figure about 1/2tsp sesame seeds per serving. Set wasabi sauce and sesame seeds aside.
9) Serve up the fried rice in bowls. Top with the wasabi sauce (I used about a 1/2Tbsp of the sauce for each serving) and sesame seeds. Provide remaining wasabi sauce, tonkatsu sauce, and sesame seeds at the table so people can tweak the fried rice to their tastes. Best when eaten hot.

Incidentally - The wasabi sauce is also great when tossed with cooked green beans, used to flavor plain rice, or with fried chicken or fried/baked fish. For the fish, you can double the starting ingredients and add 1Tbsp minced onion and a 1/2tsp honey, and salt to taste.

5th September 2013

2:12pm: A Night Vale Alphabet
Since the Night Vale Elementary School was closed for cleaning after the Tennis Ball Incident, the City Council has requested that periodic educational programming be provided in the mean time. I hope you enjoy our new segment - the Children's Fun Fact Learning Corner.

A is for Abandoned Mineshaft, with free HBO on TV.

B is for Banned, an ever-growing list.

C is for Carlos, perfect and lovely.

D is for Dog Park, of which we shouldn't speak.

E is for Eternal Scout, our town's pride and joy.

F is for Frank Chen, a dragon's alias.

G is for THE GLOW CLOWD HAS NO NEED FOR YOUR PETTY LESSONS.

H is for Home, where the Faceless Old Woman is.

I is for Interns, for whose service we are thankful.

J is for Josie, down by the car lot.

K is for Kevin, vile announcer of Desert Bluffs.

L is for Librarian, who you shouldn't approach.

M is for Mountains, which we're pretty sure don't exist.

N is for Night Vale, our little desert town.

O is for Operations, involving Black Helicopters.

P is for Pamela Winchell, merciless leader of this place.

Q is for Quixotic, our favorite announcers' most common mood.

R is for Russian, which the "Apache Tracker" speaks.

S is for Slice, which nobody does like Big Rico. Nobody.

T is for Tan Jacket, and the man with the briefcase.

U is for Underground, where the tiny city is.

V is for Valentines, of which we shudder and weep.

W is for Waterfront, which was only a halucination.

X is for X-Rays, radiating from the lights over Arby's.

Y is for You, who got in trouble with the crates.

Z is for Zydeco, a special two hour verbal description.

21st June 2012

12:01pm: Ravelympics




So I'm supposed to participate in the Ravelympics this year. It's basically a challenge for knitters/crocheters/spinners/weavers to get a challenging project (determined by each individual participant) done in the time of the Olympic games. Ravelry, the website through which this is organized every 4 years, has just received a letter from the General Counsel of the United States Olympic Committee. I'll post the entire letter they sent at the end of this, but here's a snippet to give you an idea of tone.

"We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work."

I know I don't swear on here, but I can find no better way to express myself. Fuck you, Olympic Committee. I've spent 5 years, (8+ hours a day, every day), and literally thousands of dollars honing my needlework skills, which is about as much as some of your athletes have done. I know men and women who have been doing needlework for over 60 years. Most have been doing needlework since their childhood, much like some of your athletes. Most, like me, have chronic injuries from needlework, much like some of your athletes. Many will be focusing their entire attention on attaining needlework perfection, on pushing themselves to be the best, on bringing pride and honor to the teams they've joined, much like some of your athletes. Many do not get paid for their needlework, and will never get paid, not even in post-games advertising, for what they do - it is entirely for the pleasure, the challenge - much like some of your athletes.

To quote the response of another friend: "If anything, I always felt that the Ravelympics were a way to honor the olympics and the athletes by doing what we find to be a time intensive activity that we’ve trained for all our lives along with athletes who have put in time and effort to be the best at their skill/activity/sport/etc. Saying that what we do is disrespectful and denegrates the nature of the games makes me incredibly angry."

I'm not sure if I'll boycott the Olympics this year. Though given the Olympic Committee's track record of bullying people - not just Ravelry - I'm considering it. Mostly I'm just really disappointed. (And no, for those of you with Googlefu, this apology does not cut it.)

"Dear Mr. Forbes,

In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.” At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website. I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content.

By way of review, the USOC is a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to coordinate, promote and govern all international amateur athletic activities in the United States. The USOC therefore is responsible for training, entering and underwriting U.S. Teams in the Olympic Games. Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilities without the need for federal funding, Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to use and control the commercial use of the word OLYMPIC a and any simulation or combination thereof in the United States, as well as the OLYMPIC SYMBOL. See the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”). (A copy of the relevant portion of the Act is enclosed for your convenience.) The Act prohibits the unauthorized use of the Olympic Symbol or the mark OLYMPIC and derivations thereof for any commercial purpose or for any competition, such as the one organized through your website. See 36 U.S.C. §220506(c). The USOC primarily relies on legitimate sponsorship fees and licensing revenues to support U.S. Olympic athletes and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies, like Nike and Ralph Lauren, have paid substantial sums for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships support the U.S. Olympic Team. Therefore, it is important that we restrict the use of Olympic marks and protect the rights of companies who financially support Team USA.

In addition to the protections of the Act discussed above, the USOC also owns numerous trademark registration that include the mark OLYMPIC. These marks therefore are protected under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq. Thus, Ravelry.com’s unauthorized use of the mark OLYMPIC or derivations thereof, such as RAVELYMPICS, may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of our famous trademarks.

The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.

1. Changing the name of the event, the “Ravelympics.”; The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes. The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

It looks as if this is the third time that the Ravelympics have been organized, each coinciding with an Olympic year (2008, 2010, and 2012). The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms “Ravelry” (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS a simulation of the mark OLYMPIC tending to falsely suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement. Thus, the use of RAVELYMPICS is prohibited by the Act. Knowing this, we are sure that you can appreciate the need for you to re-name the event, to something like the Ravelry Games.

1. Removal of Olympic Symbols in patterns, projects, etc. As stated before, the USOC receives no funding from the government to support this country’s Olympic athletes. The USOC relies upon official licensing and sponsorship fees to raise the funds necessary to fulfill its mission. Therefore, the USOC reserves use of Olympic terminology and trademarks to our official sponsors, suppliers and licensees. The patterns and projects featuring the Olympic Symbol on Ravelry.com’s website are not licensed and therefore unauthorized. The USOC respectfully asks that all such patterns and projects be removed from your site.

For your convenience, we have listed some of the patterns featuring Olympic trademarks. However, this list should be viewed as illustrative rather than exhaustive. The USOC requests that all patterns involving Olympic trademarks be removed from the website. We further request that you rename various patterns that may not feature Olympic trademarks in the design but improperly use Olympic in the pattern name.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympics-rings-af...\
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vancouver-2010-ol...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/2010-olympics-inu...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympic-swimmer-d...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/2008-olympic-ring...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympic-rings-nec...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bode-miller-hat-2...
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/usa-olympic-hat
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/belgianwaffleknit/usa-oly...

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We would appreciate a written reply to this letter by no later than June 19, 2012. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at the number above, or you may reach my colleague, Carol Gross.

Kindest Regards,

Brett Hirsch
Law Clerk
Office of the General Counsel
United States Olympic Committee
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909"
Current Mood: enraged

28th February 2012

12:15am: Auctionpus II
Auctionpus II. Made for the Solid Saints auction, all the proceeds of which (we made $17,650 this year, alhamdulillah!) are given to the Penny Arcade charity Child's Play. 2012 was the second year of the auction, ergo the name 'Auctionpus II', since I made another one last year. The auction organizers and those donating services/items are composed of various members of the Penny Arcade forums community, the auction itself is open to anyone who wants to participate, though this year and last year most of the bidders were also from the forums.




There's also a viking hat and beard which someone won through the auction - that'll be tomorrow's project. For now, sleep!
Current Mood: Accomplished

15th December 2011

6:55pm: Do not be intimidated
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.

Insha'Allah this small note finds you and your family in good health and happy times.



So I was in downtown Seattle today, across the street from Westlake center, taking advantage of the Christmas sales (hey, just 'cause I don't celebrate the holiday doesn't mean I can't enjoy the bargains, alhamdulillah!). They have a little mini-carnival set up there, with a merry-go-round and some fried food stands. I strolled over and stood watching the people on the merry-go-round, since it's one of my favorite rides and the people on it are almost invariably smiling - it's a nice sight to see.

As I'm standing there this security guard comes up to me and asks me what I'm doing there. Given that I'm holding a giant Daiso bag in my hand it's pretty obvious that I've just done some shopping, but I answer him politely anyway 'Just taking advantage of the Christmas sales'. He looks at me skeptically and walks off to talk to another security guard, I go back to watching the merry-go-round (and, I'll admit it, enjoying the smell of the funnel cakes cooking, haha!).

A few minutes later the two security guards come over and ask me what's under my jacket. 'A sweater and a turtleneck'. They step away for more talking, one of them says something into his radio. By this point it's clear they're going to make a thing of my apparently dangerous looking jacket, so I'm watching them now instead of the merry-go-round. The two come back and ask me to take my jacket off. Given that 1) it's 40 degrees and raining and 2) they have absolutely no legal standing to make me do a damn thing, I say 'No'. They then tell me to take my jacket off. I more forcefully reply 'No. What you are doing is illegal. I want to talk to your supervisor.' They inform me that he is already on his way. Interesting. By this time some of the people on the merry-go-round and at the food stands have noticed what's going on and are watching. Especially the little kids, who keep whispering questions to their parents.

Five minutes pass, with me staring at the security guards and them staring right back, then the supervisor shows up. He goes up to the two, they talk, then all three come up to me, with the supervisor in the middle and the two flanking him behind. The supervisor says, in a rather gruff and very loud voice, 'Ma'am, you're not cooperating with us. Either take your jacket off or we will call the police'. Clearly this man is trying to embarrass and intimidate me, the fool. In an even louder voice (and I do admit to taking pride in my theater training, so I can actually project instead of having to shout) I reply 'Do it. If I had a cell phone I would have called them already. What you are doing is illegal. Call them. Now.' I only realize after I'm done talking that I've stepped forward and am nose-to-nose with the supervisor. I can practically feel everyone else watching us.

The security guards just stood there a good two minutes, staring at me, the supervisor trying to maintain a gruff face, though I can see his dismay. He wasn't expecting me to stand up to him. He was expecting the stereotype - a demure, passive, easily bullied little girl. I'm thinking 'Dude, it takes faith to wear the hijab in this country, I'm not going to be cowed the likes of you'. I didn't back down, eventually they said 'Fine, but we're watching you'. I pointed to the people on the merry-go-round, specifically the kids with their wide eyes and confused looks, and said 'Good, because they are watching you'. The security guards just walked off, though true to their word they did watch me for the entire 10 minutes I was there, despite getting several dirty looks from some of the adults in the area who'd overheard what happened.

To my brothers and sisters reading this, do not be discouraged by this story. This is a story of hope, of perseverance, of success. Do not let bullies and oppressors intimidate you, do not let ignorance and bigotry stop you. There is strength in our Ummah, in our Iman, in the Deen, which we can rely on. Every time something like this happens it is not an attack, it is an opportunity from Allah to grow stronger, to gain more understanding, to make dawah.

"Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil); but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." 2:155

"You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah - indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination." 3:186

"And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. None but He Knoweth them. And He Knoweth what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falleth but He Knoweth it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, naught of wet or dry but (it is noted) in a clear record." 6.59

"Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested?" 29:2

"Anyone for whom Allah intends good, He makes him suffer from some affliction." Bukhari

"When Allah intends good for His slave, He punishes him in this world, but when He intends an evil for His slave, He does not hasten to take him to task but calls him to account on the Day of Resurrection." Tirmidhi

Anything good here is from Allah, anything bad is my own mistake. Allahu alim - God knows best.
Current Mood: accomplished

7th December 2011

4:02pm: Tired
Subhan'Allah, I’m tired of being the one that people come to when something happens, to ask why. When a bomb goes off. Why? When politics become harsh. Why? When a woman dies. Why? When a religious leader is corrupt. Why? I’m tired of being expected to explain motives that I can’t even begin to understand, that don’t even match with what we’re taught. Why? Why? Why? Most of all, I’m tired of being asked only about the bad things. There are so many good things that just go ignored, and when I bring them up I’m accused of self-promotion. Of course we’re self-promotion, or taqiyya, no one else is going to defend us. And if I say we’re all human, some of us are flawed more than others, I’m accused of being apologist, or dodging "responsibility", or some other inane, bleating, clinging attempt to turn me into a scapegoat for someone elses’ sin. Nevermind that everyone else is allowed to be human.

Believers, uphold justice. Always bear true witness, even if it be against yourself, your parents, or your relatives—and regardless of whether the person against whom you are speaking is rich or poor. God is close to people regardless of their material circumstances. Do not be led by emotion, as this may cause you to swerve from the truth. If you distort your testimony, or refuse to testify, remember that God is aware of all your actions. (4:135)

If then they run away, We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty is but to convey (the Message). (42:48)

“Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed person”, said the Prophet. A companion asked: “Messenger of Allah, I will help him if he is an oppressed person, but please tell me how I am to help if he happens to be an oppressor”. The Prophet answered: “Check him from doing injustice, because preventing him from committing aggression is a help to him”. (Ibn Malik)

26th October 2011

12:21am: My thoughts on the Occupy Protests
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well Acquainted with what you do. 4:135
Current Mood: aggravated

19th October 2011

11:27am: Jokes about rape prevention, then real advice.
So I recently came across this.



They’re loosely about teaching women to be careful when they’re out and about, as well as at night. This isn’t a bad thing, given that women travelling alone are more likely to be mugged. But most of these things don’t apply to the familiar rapist (that is, a rapist who is someone the victim is familiar with), or even harassment at work, because they’re giving joking advice to potential rapists, not to women. Since familiar rapists and work harassment are the most common ways for women to be sexually abused... the list above is not particularly useful.

Given that I've worked with rape victims in the past and helped to teach self-defense classes, I wanted to provide a somewhat more useful version of this. This is also addressed to potential rapists and/or molesters, but in a much more serious tone. (I use gender-neutral pronouns here because men can be raped and harassed as well, but the list can easily be tweaked to apply only to women.)

1) Don’t use drugs to lower the inhibitions of someone you’re interested in. Talking and getting to know them is a better policy.

2) Don’t think that if your date wants you to walk them home, “just the two of us”, they wants to have sex. Ask.

3) If a someone asks you for help with something, it doesn’t mean you’re superior to them or that they owe you something. You’re just helping, they could be the one to help you next time.

4) Your coworkers, whether you’re alone with them in an elevator, the break room, anywhere, are not there for you to harass or molest.

5) Even if your ex is being terrible to you in the process of your break up, that doesn’t mean you should wait for them at their apartment or place of work just to “show her who’s boss”. Find someone to talk to so you can vent your feelings and deal with things in a healthy way.

6) If you notice one of your buddies being sexually forceful or otherwise inappropriate with someone, speak up. Tell them that it’s not ok.

7) Even if they’ve had sex with you before, even if they’ve just agreed to have sex with you, but especially if you haven’t discussed sex at all, you shouldn’t have sex with someone who’s asleep or unconscious. Not only could they have changed their minds, it’s no fun to have sex with someone who isn’t really there. (Consenting partners are always more satisfying.)

8) If you know that you have problems with insecurity, anger, or possessiveness, so that these feelings have caused you to want to lash out and friends and loved ones in the past (or even to do so), you should talk to a therapist or councilor. Seeking help doesn’t make you weak, it means you want to become stable and stronger.

9) Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. Be open about things with the person you’re dating or in a relationship with. If you would like to have sex with them, tell them. Ask them how they feel about it.

10) Don’t rape. If you find yourself losing your temper, just walk away. Proving your point isn’t worth going to jail and ruining your life.
Current Mood: chipper

30th September 2011

9:29am: Victoria's Secret vs Pearl-Clutching Parents
Responding to this article.

You know what my first thought was upon reading that article? Not about how I would react (or have reacted, having helped raise my two cousins and been the 'cool' aunt to acres of friend's children) to such things. Not about the implications of how much clothing you wear or what your reaction will say to your children. No. It was a simple, silly thought relating to this line: "And in a play area meant for kids shorter than 36 inches, a parade of 36C breasts doesn't exactly top the list of what parents want for a backdrop."

I get that the author is trying to be clever with the whole 36-36 thing, but... I'm a 36C. Is there something wrong with the Girls? XD

Joking aside, my reaction is decidedly mixed. While I don't think that the human body is a horrible sinful thing (quite the opposite, in fact, human bodies are marvelous in all their different shapes, colors, sensitivities), I do think it is a special thing deserving of more consideration than 'It's just a body'. This body, barring the singularity happening and technology becoming sufficiently advanced, is where I will reside for the rest of my life. Were all my earthly possessions to be destroyed, my body is all I would have left, it is the only thing I can truly say I 'own'. Good or bad, it is how I am primarily identified and thought of by my friends, my family, my fellow human beings. All of my experiences will be filtered through the sensorium of this body. When I am on my death bed all of my memories will be within the context of this complex chemical machine and affected by how that machine will run down over the years. My body is a powerful thing, both to myself and to others, as are the bodies of the people around me.

As a result I would be uncomfortable with such displays (sexy clothing in general - there are too many clothing stores and advertisements which push that idea as a requirement as it is) because it implies a norm where there shouldn't be one. If one of the kids I take care of were to ask a question about the VS pictures, I would say that those women chose to be models for a company which sells underwear for women. These women have their own bodies and can do with them as they like. The implication being that the kid I'm talking to can someday do the same thing for themselves, especially if they're a girl. This is partly because American culture (I can't comment on other cultures, I've only ever lived in America) tends to rely too heavily, in my opinion, on the gender stereotype of 'Woman = sexily dressed all the time', which I find ridiculous.

That said, would I want the displays taken down or otherwise blocked from the sight of children? I'm not sure, I think it would depend on the degree of pressure involved, as ambiguous as that sounds. In general I would say no, I wouldn't want them taken down, because that could imply to the kids that dressing up in a sexy manner is bad, which isn't necessarily true. Given that the general media message right now is 'Woman = sexily dressed all the time'... I would try to maintain a balance.
Current Mood: contemplative

27th September 2011

12:34pm: Bus Harassment
I'm in the process of slowly moving my shit from my former house to my current abode. This means I occasionally have a heavy bag to take with me on the bus. Normally this isn't a problem. But not today. Of course not today. Because my intestines are acting up and I haven't gotten to eat much and goddammit is this bag heavy and I just came from what used to be my place and bleh.

I get on, bus driver goes 'what's in the bag?', all suspicious-like. 'Books, three balls of thread, prayer beads, and two sweaters'. I don't think he was expecting such a succinct answer, but given that I'd just packed the damn thing I could answer it.

'I'm gonna have to see it'.

blink twitch

'I already told you what's in it, which is more than I'm legally required to do'.

'No, you have to show me'.

'Legally I don't.'

Before it becomes a yuh-huh/nuh-uh conversation, 'Only the transit police can do a bag search in Seattle' says one of the other passengers. 'Then I'll call the transit police' says the driver. Does so, makes a full bus wait 10 minutes for the Police to show up. They take one look at the situation and give the driver the dirtiest look in the world. Then turn to me and apologize, but can they please see inside my bag? 'Sure'.

Whaddayano! Books, three balls of thread, prayer beads, and two sweaters. 'Thank you for your cooperation, ma'am. And would you like to lodge a complaint against this bus driver?'

blink

Did not expect them to just ask, but yes. I thought I'd have to wait until I got home. So I lodge a complaint (the passenger who spoke up served as a witness for me), pay my fare, all nice-nice with the police, then the bus is finally on it's way (25 minute delay now).

My stop comes up, as I'm leaving the bus driver calls me a 'race-traitor bitch' and says something along the lines of 'I never want to see you on my bus again'. Needless to say I am emailing the transit department to add this to the lodged complaint.

To think, one of the mid-western folk I know condescendingly said just the other day that Muslims in America don't face any kind of discrimination.

Right?
Current Mood: infuriated

23rd September 2011

3:18pm: Poetry
Two of my favorite poems from Rumi.

Trust your wound to a Teacher's surgery.
Flies collect on a wound.
They cover it,
those flies of your self-protecting feelings,
your love for what you think is yours.
Let a Teacher wave away the flies
and put a plaster on the wound.
Don't turn your head.
Keep looking
at the bandaged place.
That's where
the Light enters you.
And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.

---

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Current Mood: accomplished

14th September 2011

7:52am: Relationship changes
Reposted from a Facebook note.

It's complicated, but mostly just Jake and I realizing we don't work living together. As you know I've got problems with depression. I've been addressing them and improving, even managed to hold a job for 8 months, which is a record for me, but in some ways my improvements are too little, too late. I recognize this. Jake's in the Schizoid Personality Disorder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizoid_personality_disorder) side of things so he's just emotionally not there a lot of the time. That, combined with my just not doing anything for too long and having trouble finding a full time job when I was finally able to do anything was just too much for us. A break down in communication over the last year hasn't helped either. We'll most likely stay friends, but right now things are rough.

About a year and a half ago Jake and I opened our relationship, mostly because he wasn't fulfilling some of what I needed but we still wanted to try to stay together. Polyamory has never bothered either of us so we figured, why not? As a result I've also got Chris in my life, we've been together since April-ish and are doing well. He's someone I can actually talk to, and vice-versa. There are other things but I don't really need to enumerate them here. Suffice to say I'm beginning the process of slowly moving my stuff into Chris' apartment.

I know that some of you will be very shocked by this, possibly even hurt. I apologize. You had an image of me which was not entirely true, mostly because I've omitted portions of my life from public view. Muslim with a boyfriend? It's not done. Let alone while married (sort of). I know the reasons, I don't make any claims that what I am doing is right within Islam. I'm still the person you got to know, I just have this other part of my life as well. If this bothers you and you want to remove me from your life, I understand and I won't stop you, I just ask that you please do so peacefully. I am just tired of not being entirely myself, it is too close to lying and I don't like it. Please don't take this as my leaving Islam, I'm still praying, etc. At the worst, take it as my not being particularly good at some aspects of it and leave it at that.

I'm not sure about adding this, but given the reaction I've sometimes seen in the past, I will. If this bothers you enough that you feel a need to speak up, quote hadith, quran, etc., to try to convince me of something beyond 'God is patient/supportive/etc.', please do not bother. Do not browbeat, do not pester. And if hearing about my new homelife will bother you, you might want to remove me from your friend list. I don't want to lose any of the friends I've made, but I recognize that this is not only my decision. There is enough pain, I do not want to cause more.

Jazak'Allah khair. Thank you for your patience and support.

1st July 2011

2:27pm: Adult
(Inspired by Hyperbole and a Half.)



I think I realized I was becoming more adult when I started willingly cleaning things. Even if I didn't particularly want to.



Just because I knew that I would feel better and that most of the time it would only take 20 minutes.



Or would be something I could, once begun, for the most part ignore - like laundry. Or cleaning the toilet.



I'm not sure exactly *when* I realized that do shit=feel better (like getting a shot, or swallowing nasty cough syrup), I think sometime in the last year or two, and I'm not sure I want to know. If only because I'm afraid there's black magic involved somehow and that if I discover the secret my soul will be forfeit.



Of course, I doodled all this up while procrastinating at work, so maybe there's still hope for me yet.

Current Mood: chipper

23rd June 2011

3:11pm: Laundry
As I'm writing this my clothes are soaking in the bathtub. A plethora of socks and underwear, two shirts for sleeping, and four coordinated outfits. The cat is sitting on the toilet, peering into the tub curiously. It's Thursday, and that means laundry, but there's only enough money left on the laundry card for a spin in the dryer. So, soaking. I'll have to haul the laundry down to the basement in a bit.

Looking down at the clothes while thinking ahead to this evening, I can't help but feel a distant sense of homecoming. I've been at my husband's apartment since Monday, as is my now-usual schedule. I'll be returning to my partner's tonight, where I'll stay until the next Monday, when I have to go again. I feel a bit like a pendulum, if I'm to be honest.

I ponder over the terms I instinctively choose to describe my situation - I go back to my husbands', I return to my partners'. It implies a sense of center, though I have trouble really thinking of either place as my home. My things are at my husbands', but it feels more like a holding zone, a waiting room. The right smell is at my partners', but I have no real place there. This discord has been bothering me, like a mosquito caught against the windowsill.

I'm sure there is something there, in the laundry, relating to my current circumstance. Dichotomies of existence - the clothing is wet, the clothing is dry, the clothing is. Right now it is covered in 'rain' scented bubbles, right now it is dark, and heavy. Soon it will be spinning, a dervish. Then calm and neatly folded, waiting. I wish the clothing could speak to me, let me know what it means. But it just sits and soaks.
Current Mood: contemplative

21st June 2011

1:54am: Karakas
Day One

Dawn in Karakas, bright and hot. I am a newcomer to this place, nothing but my fists and wits to guide me. Half the world seems to be covered in desert, the rest is a waving sea of grasslands, with a few pale trees in the far distance. If I am to survive here I must work quickly – harsh as the sun is now, nightfall will be even worse.

I spend the day feverishly gathering wood, dashing from tree to tree, starting a shelter, building tools. Fortunately I have a water source nearby, plenty of grass for seeds, plenty of wool for a bed and even a meager rug. I could do well here.

I lose track of time gathering cobblestone from a distant cliff and am nearly caught outside as the sun sets. In a panic I run back to my as yet incomplete shelter. Shaking I hurriedly put in the roof, cursing my own clumsiness as I misplace boards and have to start again. Just in time I finish and slide down the ladder back into my shanty; an arrow thuds against the wood where I just stood. It has begun.

I write this huddled beside the light of my furnace, as I have yet to discover any coal. I can hear them moaning and rattling outside the thin wooden walls, legs pattering over my new roof, each more hungry for my flesh than the last. Worse yet are the quiet ones, the green ones. I haven't seen any of them yet, but I know they are out there. Waiting.

As the light from the furnace goes out I quickly assemble torches from the newly formed charcoal. Only 9, but they'll do for now. I place one on the roof, just in case, and one against the wall. Then, exhausted, I make a bed and fall into it, letting the blissful oblivion of sleep take me.

Night One

In the middle of the night I wake to hear the impossible. The rattling of a skeleton, inside my walls. How? Heart racing I leap to my feet, all too aware of how vulnerable I am – laughably armed, unarmored, against a bloodthirsty undead foe armed with deadly arrows. In a blind blur of blood, bone, and wood I heave to with my axe, flailing at the rattling monster until it falls, dropping a single arrow. As the adrenaline of combat leaves me I feel my wounds – three, each bleeding sluggishly.

Clearly my shanty is not safe and I will have to wait out the night without the oblivion of sleep. I will have to make the place bigger after the sun rises and most of the monsters die. In the mean time I'll make some glass, if only for the distraction. And because having gaping holes in the walls is making me uncomfortable.



Day Two

Dawn, as hot and bright as ever, somewhat noisier this time with the echoing sounds of dying skeletons and zombies. Climbing up the ladder to the roof, sluggishly rubbing tiredness out of my eyes, I'm nearly knocked to the ground far below by a giant black spider, its many red eyes glowing with a smoldering hatred. In a repeat of last night's battle with the skeleton I again flail with my axe. As with the skeleton I am both rewarded and wounded – a small cut and two lengths of string. But the string is a boon – with it I can make a fishing pole. Provided I can get more wood.

A quick glance around from the roof shows me that none of the green ones have shown up and the remaining spiders are far enough away that I can safely leave my shanty. Walking up the sands I see another boon – cactus. The long, deadly thorns will provide an adequate fence against possible visitors. Encouraged by this discovery, I continue on, eager to see what other bounties this place has for me.

I spend the morning harvesting more wood and getting a better look around. Eventually I will need a better shelter, I'd better start looking at potential build sites now. In the process of planting the cactus fence I manage to wound myself several more times. That makes five bleeding wounds total, and a small cut on my brow. A fortunate find of four large pumpkins provides me with cheap lighting alternatives. At least the variety will make things interesting.



Afternoon comes and I put together a fishing pole and set myself down to wait beside the pond. I have seeds, but I need food now and am too tired to put together the fencing required for a proper farm. For now fish will have to do.

After a time I realize my endeavor is pointless. The pond is too shallow, and is in the middle of a desert besides. As well, the sun is quickly setting. Tomorrow I will have to try to kill one of the wild pigs I've seen roaming the hills nearby. For now I will dig underneath my shanty, providing a somewhat safer home than these close wooden walls and windows. I do not know what else may wait for me in the dark, bottomless depths of this world, but I know that without bravery I will not survive long here. Would that my words could stop my shovel from shaking so.

Later:



Thus far I am only greeted by sand, sand, more sand, and gravel. But at least now I have a safe place for my bed and a staging area for my first mines. With a sigh of achievement I fall into bed, praying this time my night will pass uninterrupted.

Day Three

Dawn comes, waking me even here in the bottom of my dugout. A cursory look from the roof shows me that either my sleeping underground or my cactus fence – or a combination of the two – has kept monsters from around my shanty. Not even a spider on the roof this time. With a smile of satisfaction I double check my wood stores and decide I can afford to spend the day digging. I still have a good stone shovel and two picks – I should be able to make good progress. But first, I have to catch a pig or two.

As I lash out with my pickaxe at an unsuspecting pig a thought occurs to me which dumbfounds me with it's obviousness – why don't I make a stone sword? Of course! In the rush to find reliable shelter and heal my wounds I completely forgot – unwieldy though it is, a stone sword is still more effective than a pickaxe! I finish of the pig – all too aware of my still-bleeding wounds – then turn back towards home.

Just as I'm cresting the hill near the shanty I spot one of them – a green one, not too far away. My heart stops, my blood turns to ice in my veins. Has it spotted me? It's coming this way. There's no choice for it, I run, making a mad-dash to the dubious safety of my shanty and cactus fence. Still breathing hard I hurriedly put the pork chops into the furnace to cook and slap together a sword. Chewing on a cooked chop, I ease my way up the ladder to the roof, cautiously peering over the edges, convinced that at any moment I will hear the hiss of my doom.



I hear a splashing – the creature is in the pond beside my shanty. Spotting me, it rushes forward, bloodthirsty rage blinding it to the cactus fence. In a gruesome series of leaps and hissing cries it repeatedly impales itself on the long thorns in its' attempts to reach me, then falls dead with a crunching sound, its corpse disappearing in a puff of white smoke. Even though the creature lies dead I won't leave the shanty again today.

I spend the rest of the daylight hours cooking my remaining pork chops and taking stock of my inventory. I'm down to one piece of charcoal, some wood, some glass, a ladder, some cactus, a fishing pole, 4 pumpkins, 30 torches, two stone pickaxes, a shovel, a bit of wool, a single arrow, and two cooked pork chops. I make up 4 jack-o-lanterns and tuck them into my chest, then sit back on my heels and think a moment.

My options are clear – I need coal and iron. I begin to mine.



To Be Continued...
Current Mood: accomplished

20th June 2011

10:53am: Pink Flower


I woke this morning beside my lover, partner, friend, the scent of him tingling through my nose and filling my lungs, his words rattling in my mind from last nights' (this mornings'?) conversation. I hadn't slept well, I rarely do on the nights before I have to leave, but still I woke up when his alarm went off, when his day started. I kissed him and called him beautiful, because that is what I can say within the limits of spoken words, within the limits of being human. He smiled, and rose, and I watched his pale curves move through the twilight of the room; I wanted to commit every detail to memory. I won't see him again for three nights. Except, perhaps, in dreams.

After I got up and reviewed my tasks for the day I reflected on the changes that have happened recently in my life. It used to be that I made love the center of my world. I thought it was all I wanted, needed. I let the worry of it and the passion of it distract me, unbalance me. I thought if I found someone to love who loved me I would be whole. I could give up responsibility to someone else. I was foolish, and younger then. I didn't realize that you cannot start with love, you have to start with yourself. If you treat love like a drowning man treats a bit of floating wood, eventually you will sink and take them with you.

I think I have a better understanding, now. I do not need love to survive, I never did. I do not need love to be myself. I realize now that love is a catalyst - in a good relationship you inspire each other, you bolster each other. It is not one constantly pulling on the other. I am not a drowning man, nor am I a piece of wood, nor is anyone else. This was not an easy understanding to come to, and it is scary to shift the center of my life. But I am better for it.

Part of these realizations have been because of my lover. It isn't just that we have common interests and experiences, that we can communicate clearly, that he smells like home to me. It is that he makes me want to be a better person, and that I inspire the same in him. We give each other hope.

When I got back to the apartment today I'd gotten a latte. It's an extravagance, but I need the caffeine and sometimes it's nice to have a moment of peace in a cup. I sat down at the computer, thoughts rattling through my head. Work things to do, and there are still so many changes to go through, "and miles to go before I sleep". I took a sip and it was bitter, dark - the sugar hadn't dissolved yet so I made a face. Then, as I've done since I was a child, I meditated on the unique flavor of it - even though I do not like it, that doesn't mean there is no value or benefit. What is going on beside bitter? I could taste milk, and chocolate, a hint of hazelnut, wood smoke, steam. It wasn't just bitter.

As I looked out the window into the alley beside the apartment, I noticed the scraggly little bush which has been stubbornly growing there since last year has started to bloom between the two high brick and concrete walls. There are little white buds everywhere, and a single beautiful pink flower, perched precariously at the top of a long branch. Six delicate petals around a burst of yellow stamens, the faint white hint of subtle patterns.

That flower is the most beautiful metaphor I have seen in a long time.
Current Mood: calm

27th May 2011

10:34am: A moment
This morning I woke up to the sound of my lovers' alarm going off, for the first time in two nights. He snored right through for the first three minutes. Fuzzy and barely awake myself, I was content to nuzzle against him and let the experience wash over me. The ambient sound of waves surrounding us, it was as if we were on an island somewhere, caught in the silvery blue twilight of a tropical dawn, rather than in a small basement apartment in downtown Seattle. As I breathed in the various scents of the room - real and imagined - they began to tickle my mind into wakefulness; dust, salt, books, sand, cotton cloth, jungle mist, sweat, fuzzy blankets, him - the undertone being the remains of our lovemaking the night before.

As I strained over him to hit the snooze button by the side of the bed he roused into motion, his pale skin softly glowing against the darkness of the room. With a click the alarm stopped and with a soft sigh he drew the sheet back over himself, smooth vermilion fabric over the softest alabaster. Murmuring some half-formed dream thought he returned to the land of snores and I smiled, snuggling into the hollow of his throat. 'I love you' I whispered, though I know no conscious part of him heard it. Perhaps there was a brief ray of sunshine in his dreams.

25th August 2010

3:11am: What changed for you?
So I'm part of a very friendly interfaith discussion forum on the website Ravelry. One of the threads in this forum is titled 'What changed for you?', and the opening post of that thread is as follows (for those of you who don't have Ravelry accounts and can't follow the link):

It has come up through several threads that many of us have been involved, maybe as a child, maybe as an adult, with religion, or with a specific brand of religion, and changed to another belief system, or to a combination of beliefs, or to not believing at all. I am interested in your stories. Did it happen over time, or in an instant. Did you choose your religion or did it choose you? Has anyone had any sort of “mystical” experience that they can share? I know that this is a very personal topic. But if you are comfortable sharing, I think it would be interesting and uplifting.

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Current Mood: contemplative

21st May 2010

12:11pm: Contrived Cartoon Controversy
Originally posted here.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director, Council of American-Islamic Relations-Chicago

The latest Muhammad cartoon controversy, courtesy of Comedy Central’s South Park, seems somewhat contrived.

The protagonists in the original controversy of 2005 consisted of a fairly mainstream Danish newspaper on one hand and mobs of angry, and sometimes violent, protesters on the other.

The protagonists this time are a couple of jokesters who openly offend people for a living on one hand, and a single posse of five “Muslims” on the other (whom we know very little about).

First, let’s take a quick look at the offenders.

Cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone suffer from what one could call “self-importance.” They are part of a growing group of people who believe they are the flag bearers of free speech on behalf of the Western world; for them, there is only one way to test the limits of free speech: offend people’s sacred sensibilities.

Let’s consider that logic for a moment.

A sacred thing is something or someone you have utmost reverence for, it does not have to be divine; it could be your mother or your child, for example.

Now, imagine if your elderly mother is riding on a bus; would you harbor some expectation that others, for whom she may not be sacred, would still treat her with respect?

That is to say: while they may not sanctify her as you do, they will at least refrain from insulting, harassing, or offending her – even though they have every “right” to not stand up for her, give her a dirty look, or even call her “an old hag” under protected free expression and speech.

Is that not a basic Western societal expectation? Is there not a healthy balance between freedom and decency that has long existed as part of our Western tradition?

Now imagine if I actually insult her - just because I can.

And imagine if I then play the “hero” card, expecting praise and glory for being the flag bearer of Western values of freedom.

Imagine if those who characterized my actions as unreasonable and indecent were then condemned as thin-skinned prudes and enemies of free speech who wish to tie us down with their personal norms of “decency.”

OK, now let’s move on to the offended party, a group that calls itself “Revolution Muslim.”

Their sin is not that they were offended but that they delivered a veiled death threat to Parker and Stone. That makes them radical goons whose threat ought to be seriously investigated.

But, what does that say about other Muslims?

Nothing. Yet the breaking headline everywhere was that “Muslims” once again attack freedom of speech with death threats.

Well, we have already addressed the “freedom of speech” canard. Now let’s deal with the “Muslims” canard.

How about some context?

The “Muslims” in this case are a group of literally 5-10 people who are widely reviled by the mainstream community for their radical and confrontational style including harassing Muslims outside mosques (where they tend to be banned) with outlandishly provocative anti-American rhetoric.

Most suspect the group is fraudulent. Its mysterious leader, born Joseph Cohen, is an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there.

Whether, true Muslims or agent provocateurs, the result is the same: they are five community outcasts.

Yet, little to no context is given in the media when this group is mentioned, as if it were somewhat representative of a normative Muslim reaction. (They are a constant feature on CNN and FOX News.)

The real headline: most Muslims seem to have learned from the Danish episode. South Park’s provocation was mostly met by silence and indifference.

The widespread Muslim attitude went something like this: this is a free country, you go on mocking Jesus and Muhammad, and we will go on keeping them in our prayers. No harm done. Muhammad’s and Jesus’ value to humanity certainly will not dip as a result of your mockery.
Current Mood: good

10th March 2010

1:44am: The HORROR
Yep, this is a fun and goofy piece. My hubby and I were watching TV and saw that cereal commercial where the little kid mini-wheat is talking with his dad about filling his shoes, keeping humans going all day. I thought, 'Son, guess what! Someday you'll be eaten by the ravenous sky-people! If we haven't been eaten yet ourselves, your mother and I will be so proud!'

Bon Apetite!

My own pattern.

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Current Mood: amused

9th March 2010

5:57pm: Now that my camera batteries are recharged...
Here we go!

Dolphin for my mom, from this pattern from Jennifer Down Under.

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So, if any of you live in Seattle, or follow the public art scene, you'll know that the City of Seattle commissioned a bunch of artists to decorate pig statues to be placed around the city. I figured I'd do an Amigurumi Seattle Piggy. The original pattern this is modified from is from the book Kyuuto Japanese Crafts: Amigurumi.

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And here we have a little frog for my dad. The pattern is a variation from the book Super Cute: 25 Amigurumi Animals.

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Current Mood: chipper

8th March 2010

3:56pm: I've been hooking again!
So I made this bunny for my friend Chris, whose internet handle is 'DireBunny'. Mine is a slight variation on this pattern from Amigurumi Parade. I shifted the shapes of the ears and arms a little bit, formed the legs a little higher, and added a fluffy tail and a scar on his ear (to make him look DIRE! hahaha).

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I've also made this Nyanko Egg, which is my own pattern (if you want the pattern let me know). My best friend likes the Nyan Nyan Nyanko Village stuff from San-X, and I think it's pretty damn cute myself, so I figured I'd try my hand at making a hard boiled Nyanko egg. She doesn't look very happy about being boiled. :D

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Current Mood: accomplished

27th February 2010

6:03pm: Elizabeth
From Kyuuto Japanese Crafts: Amigurumi. She looks a lot like my husband's old cat Elizabeth, so that's what I've named her. She's for my mother-in-law.

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Current Mood: accomplished

26th February 2010

2:12pm: Amigurumi, masha'Allah!
What I've been crocheting lately.

Cutethulhu! (To learn more about him go here and here.) From the Lion Brand pattern (you have to sign up to view it, but it's free and they haven't sent me any spam yet, so it's not too bad).

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Heart Man! My own pattern, based on little heart man doodles my dad used to draw on my birthday cards when I was little.

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Little Ducky, pattern from KristieMN.

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Big Octopus, made for a friend's friend's daughter. Based on the same pattern as Cutethulhu.

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Owl, made for a friend. From the Lion Brand pattern - it's the graduation owl without the mortarboard.

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Turtle, made for a friend. From the Lion Brand pattern.

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Hippo, made for fun because it was a different style of pattern to try. Pattern from KristiesKids, you'll have to scroll down a little to find it.

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Heart teddy, made for my Tutu (grandmother in Hawaiian) who is currently going through cancer treatments. Pattern from Lion Brand Yarn. The heart is separate, from cindylouh's pattern.

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Little Girl, for a friend's daughter. Based on this Lion Brand Yarn pattern, only without facial details or wings.

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Current Mood: accomplished

4th January 2010

10:21am: Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis
Link to the article: Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis

Dec. 30, 2009
Larry Derfner,
THE JERUSALEM POST

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Current Mood: sad
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