Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hyp-no-tize me!

I'm still finding it difficult to believe in hypnosis. (This isn't just a random thought on a Sunday night.) Some friends and I went to the Wilson County Fair recently happened across a hypnosis show. The show was about half-way through and there were about a dozen people on stage all flopped over like ragdolls. I was intrigued enough to make a note of the next showtime, so I could watch the "antics" from the beginning.

It seems that the hypnotist is quite popular because we arrived about 15 minutes prior to the start of the show, yet there were no seats left. We were relegated to propping ourselves up next to the TN Lottery trailer. It wasn't a chair, but at least we could lean (we'd been on our feet for hours, literally!) Next to us stood a man and his son. I'd say the boy was probably 10 or 11 years old. The hypnotist got on stage and asked everyone in the audience to participate...close your eyes, put your arms out in front of you palms up, deep breath. Ok, so I did it and felt totally goofy. The hypnotist then told us that in our left hand is a very heavy bucket of sand. Oh, crap. Which one is my left hand? I totally can't tell with my eyes closed. Seriously. I have to look at my hand and check which one makes an L with the thumb and forefinger. (It's one of my more endearing qualities.) This left-hand-holding-a-bucket-of-sand suggestion clearly isn't going to work, so I open my eyes to look at my hands. You have got to be kidding...the boy next to me is struggling with the weight of the bucket of sand. Obviously he knows his left from his right. AND the same goes for about 30% of the audience. Fake fake fake! Then hypnotist dude says that your right hand is holding a bunch of helium balloons and wouldn't you know it--the kid next to me and bucket wielding audience members raise their right hands. What is up with that? (Some people will do anything to get on stage.)

I figure that's how he gauges who in the audience will "work" for his show. So he gets volunteers to come up on stage and sits them down in front of everyone. Then he puts them in deep relaxation. So deep that the boy next to me falls to the ground. Yes, reader(s), he FALLS TO THE GROUND! He's out. Limp. Totally hypnotized. Oh, it gets better.

I should probably mention that the hypnotist very clearly stated that his show was copyrighted and all videos were completely prohibited, against the law, etc. He didn't mention anything about writing about the sequence of events. So I feel it's safe to continue...since no names are being mentioned.

At this point there are quite a few people in the audience, besides the people on stage, who are completely out. They are slumpped forward, leaning on their neighbors, or in the case of the boy next to me, laying flat on the ground. It's really strange. The hypnotist then addresses the audience and tells them that they will no longer receive suggestion, they would be awake, alert and ready to enjoy the show. The boy next to me woke up...until the hypnotist told the volunteers that the ground was very hot. I looked to my left (yes, he was on my left...L...) and he was picking up his feet to keep them off the ground. He was still hypnotized!

Some of the people around us thought he was faking, but you could see it in his eyes. This kid was totally gone. Here's what I want to know. Is there a hypnosis that will work on a 15 year old who doesn't want to do homework, clean his room, empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn? Actually the possibilities are endless! Which brings up another question...has the guy ever hypnotized his wife? And would she know if he did??? I'm totally creeped out by that thought. All this stuff is going through my head as the boy next to me is doing everything the hypnotist suggests. He's watching a funny movie, he's 3 years old (and sucking his thumb!), he's singing along with Barney, he's watching a sad movie, he's on a roller coaster. The boy was much more entertaining than the show on stage. I was crying I was laughing so hard. The boy's dad was enjoying it also!

I'm not sure what triggered the boy to "wake up" but he just popped out of it, as did another woman on stage at about the same time. The boy had no clue why he was on the ground, had no recollection of the hypnotist show. Nothing.

So, how does that work? I mean, the hypnotist literally told everyone to close their eyes, put their arms in front of them and take a deep breath....that was it. The next thing you know a woman is running through the audience speaking in Chinese and trying to get everyone to quit laughing. One thought she was on The Price is Right. A guy told everyone he was wearing women's underwear. Another girl went to a concession stand and ordered 20,000 grilled cheese sandwiches and told them to charge it because the aliens just landed. I don't get it. I can't say that I don't believe it because the boy next to me was clearly in a trance. (No 11 year old boy is going to suck his thumb in front of strangers at a county fair.) I just don't think I could ever get hypnotized, even if the hypnotist didn't start out with something really hard like right hand, left hand. I was doomed from the start.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Space Shuttles and Santa

The Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch tonight in a few more hours. I turned on the news as they were showing the Discovery on the launch pad. No matter how many times I see prelaunch photos and videos I'm always impressed. What the photos don't adequately portray is the magnitude of all that equipment.

In August 2001, I hit the shuttle jackpot and scored a VIP tour that took us to the base of the launch pad the night before takeoff. It was a rare opportunity even in the days prior to 9/11, and I doubt any civilians have been that close to a shuttle since.

It is important that I mention that the Commander for tonight's flight, Rick Sturckow, and the Mission Specialist, Patrick Forrester, were part of the crew for the STS-105 Discovery mission in 2001. How cool is that?

Reader(s), I proudly present a few of my personal STS-105 Discovery photos:

Definitely one of the coolest things I've experienced.

Here's a quick glimpse of the stocking I'm knitting for the intarsia class I'm teaching at Haus of Yarn. As many knitters will say as they begin to tell you about the pattern--I have made some changes.

I didn't really care for the beard in the pattern. It was too symetrical and perfect. C'mon folks, Santa is a busy man. He doesn't have time to coif the beard. I recharted it and added some wayward locks. Much better.

The next stumbling block was the heel. The pattern calls for a basic heel flap, turned heel, picked up stitches and gusset. Picking up the stitches along the heel just wasn't working for me. I knit it that way twice. I ripped it out twice. It was not giving me great joy. I was knitting yesterday while sitting at the ball pack so I didn't have any pattern books with me. I couldn't decide what to do for the heel and didn't have anything at hand for a reference. Then I remembered something I read by the Yarn Harlot about Elizabeth Zimmerman...and the afterthought heel. (Go read it.) I didn't do it exactly like she explains it. Again, I made some changes. Only one change actually. Instead of snipping the actual sock yarn, I used a bit of scrap yarn to mark the spot for the heel. That way, when I come back to work the heel I just have to pull out the scrap yarn and put the live stitches back on my DPNs. Pretty much the same way you work a thumb in a mitten---knit a tube, add another tube.

The heel and toe decreases will match, and the sock "should" have a good balance to it. I think I can get this done by tonight. Maybe more photos tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This Just In!

I'm teaching a couple classes at Haus of Yarn this fall!

Intarsia Santa Stocking
Session 1: Sept 15, 29 and Oct 13, 5:30-7:30
Session 2: Nov 11, 24 and Dec 8, 5:30-7:30
Experience: Must be able to knit, purl, cast on, bind off, follow a simple patternTechniques learned: Learn intarsia knitting and following a pattern chart, turned hem with picot edge, simple two color Fair Isle knitting, weaving in ends, basic sock construction, duplicate stitch, I cord, mattress seam stitch.
Materials: Ann Norling sock pattern, appropriate yarn and needles as stated in pattern, stitch markers, stitch holders, intarsia bobbins (optional), extra pair of size 7 or 8 needles for swatches, 10-20 yards worsted weight yarn in two or three different colors for swatches, darning needle, creative embellishments—bells, buttons for eyes, etc.

Some Assembly Required
Session 1: Aug 25 and Sept 1, 5:30-7:30
Session 2: October 6 and 27, 5:30-7:30
Experience: Must be able to knit, purl, cast on, bind off, follow a simple patternTechniques learned: Quick and painless finishing techniques! Invisible side and shoulder seams, picking up stitches for button bands and necklines, button holes, weaving in ends. If you have a finishing problem, bring your project and we’ll figure it out.
Materials: Swatch yarns in worsted weight preferably wool or wool blend, 26” or longer circular needle 2 sizes smaller than the needles used for swatches, tapestry needle, scissors, assorted buttons
Homework: Please have these swatches finished prior to class time. Use a smooth, light colored, worsted weight yarn, gauge approximately 4-5 sts/inch. Swatches 1 and 2: Cast on 30 sts and work in stockinette stitch for 8 inches. Bind off. Swatch 3: Cast on 30 sts and work in stockinette stitch for 5″ (imagine the neckline of a sweater), bind off center 6 sts then dec 1 st each neck edge every other row 3 times as follows: RS row, K to last 3 sts before bind off K2TOG, K1; on RS after bind off edge K1, SSK, K to end of row. (Do not decrease right next to neck edge.) Purl WS rows. Work one side at a time or both at the same time with two balls of yarn. Work even until 8″. Bind off. Do not block swatches, it’s ok if they are curly.

Check out the Haus of Yarn website for more info!