Thursday, February 8, 2007

My, I'm Feeling Feisty Today

Never let it be said that I am not opinionated. I have plenty of opinions. My cup overflows with opinions, and, since this blog is my own little solipsistic corner of the universe, I figure I might as well let 'er rip.

[N.B. To those easily offended: I'm not saying that these must be your opinions, too, merely that they are mine. A careful, clever reader will note many tongue-in-cheek comments. If you want your opinions, you are more than welcome to get on your soapbox and post them on your own blog. I won't mind.]

Opinion No. 1 - Valentine's Day doesn't "count."

Receiving a gift from a man on Valentine's Day is nice, admittedly, but since it's a Holy Day of Romantic Obligation and he MUST provide his inamorata with a token of his affection (or else be met with severe disapproval), the gift given is one of placation -- not one of sincere depth of feeling. Note the large number of gentlemen in the local chocolate shop at 5:05 p.m. on Valentine's Day evening. They are not motivated by "love," cats and kittens; they're merely trying to save their bacon by not coming home empty-handed. You want to score points with me, bring me chocolate for no (apparent) reason whatsoever. One well-placed gift of a king-sized package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups "just because I was thinking of you, darling" is a major point-scoring coup.

Sub-opinion: Women who judge the depth of their partner's affections by the quality or quantity of what they receive as a Valentine's Day token are a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Sub-opinion: Red roses are ubiquitous, boring, and take almost no effort to procure. Gosh, you got me red roses for Valentine's Day? Me and eleventy billion other women got red roses today. How…thoughtful. That took you what? Five minutes on the phone? How about yellow roses? How about, get this, ORANGE roses (well, I think florists use the term "apricot") in the middle of OCTOBER "just because"? Ok, so that takes perhaps six minutes of effort of the phone, but has a far greater amount of "oomph."(1)

[Note to The Husband, who I know reads this blog - Don't take any of this personally. You're one of the most romantic guys I know.]

Opinion No. 2 - Cats are superior to dogs.

I have nothing against dogs. I like animals in general and I like dogs just as much as I like wombats, lemurs, platypuses (platypi?)(3), and just about anything else that travels on four legs. However, in the eternal cats vs. dogs argument, feline trumps canine every single time.

Reason One: Dogs have no mind of their own. Dogs, as pack animals, must define themselves in relation to other dogs, or their owner, and/or the owner's family. A dog by itself is at a loss. Cats, on the other hand, are complete entities unto themselves.

Reason Two (closely related to Reason One): The argument of "dogs are smarter than cats because we can teach dogs tricks" is utterly specious. Let's put this into other words and see how much water this argument is capable of holding: Dogs are smarter than cats because dogs want to please humans and dogs bend their will to suit us (instead of suiting themselves, as felines do). Dogs are smarter than cats because dogs are boot-licking, obsequious, toad-eating synchophants. A dog is a brown-nosing suck-up so, ergo, the dog is smarter. Yeah, right.

Reason Three: Dogs don't purr.

Opinion No. 3 - Continental-style knitting (holding the working yarn in the left hand) is superior to English-style knitting (holding the working yarn in the right hand).

I didn't really have an opinion on this until I read in Elizabeth Zimmerman's book, Knitting Without Tears, that she was discouraged from continental, left-handed knitting by her governess because it was German and therefore inferior. As a person of German extraction, I take umbrage.

The following may make no sense if you're not a knitter, but the difference between the two styles is remarkable.

The right-handed, English method of knitting is inefficient and takes too many steps:

(a) Insert right needle into stitch on left needle.

(b) Grasp both right and left needles with the tips of the fingers of left hand.

(c) Remove right hand from right needle and pick up working yarn with right hand.

(d) Wrap working yarn on right needle from back to front.

(e) Drop working yarn from right hand and return right hand to right needle.

(f) Knit the stitch created on the left hand needle and slip it onto right hand needle.

Compare this to the left-handed, continental, German method of knitting:

(a) Insert right needle into stitch on left needle.

(b) Keeping both hands on respective needles, wrap yarn held in left hand around right needle by flicking left finger to manipulate yarn.

(c) Knit the stitch created on the left hand needle and slip it onto right hand needle.

Q.E.D. Left-handed German yarn-holding is far more efficient. Lord only knows where the English got the idea that right-handed knitting was superior. Perhaps they haven't gotten over "the sun never sets on the British Empire" thing.

(1) I'm not sitting here making "quote marks" in the air with my hands. Really.

(2) For more in this vein, I refer the gentle reader to H.P. Lovecraft's essay, Something About Cats.

(3) I discovered in one of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin books (I can't recall which) that male platypuses can sting you. Dr. Maturin, overcome with the exuberance of the natural philosopher, is brought low by a male platypus he picks up without permission. MSN Encarta says: "Adult males have a hollow, horny spur on the inner side of the hind leg, from which a toxic fluid is ejected and which may be used as a weapon of defense." Life Lesson: Don't pick up adult male platypuses. I think I would be hard pressed to distinguish the gender of a platypus, but that's a topic for another blog post.

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