Sorry for the lack of posts. I was going to post earlier, but I ran into computer trouble. So let's catch up.
As usual, I have been working on some things for swaps at Craftster. I did the Friend of Craftster swap, where I crocheted and stenciled a bunch of things (you can see them at the recipiant's blog, here and here). I'm currently working on a knit project (an Irish Hiking cabled set of mittens, scarf, and hat) and stuff for the X-Men swap I'm organizing. Otherwise, I haven't been doing to much crafting for myself.
My job at the Fed is going well. The data set I've managed to wrangle has some promise. But we have a definite endogenity problem that needs dealing with.
I finished two books by Isabelle Allende, Zorro and Daughter of Fortune. Both were excellent, though I would say Daughter of Fortune was more totally realized. Allende has a lovely way of just naturally dropping her readers into an incredibly detailed world. She will drop hints of what is to come, but these seem entirely natural. This reminds me a bit of the early Tom Clancy novels, where you felt as if you were just watching real people's lives, which had a spontaneous, full quality. I also was fascinated by her exploration, in Daughter of Fortune, of a bi-racial relationship between a Caucasian and an Asian. It's not something you see as often as say, a Black and White relationship, and that was interesting in and of itself. But of course, I am also in such a mixed relationship, so it had a personal resonance. As for Zorro, I was quite taken with Allende's recasting of the hero as the son of a Native American. It added an unexpected quality to the character. I would give Zorro a 7 and Daughter of Fortune a 9.
I saw A Prairie Home Companion, X-Men 3, and Pirates of the Carribean 2. All three were good (though none was amazing). I would say that I enjoyed Pirates the most, but that was just because of it's incredible enthusiasm. It really wasn't plotted that well, but the lines were funny (not inspired, but definitely amusing), the acting was accomplished, and the direction was visually appealing. The long sight gags were the highlight. X-Men 3 has a similar feel, though everything is just of slightly poorer quality. In particular, I have no idea why some things like the Angel story-line were included. It added nothing to the rest of the film. A Prairie Home Companion was very well acted and directed, but it too didn't have a snappy plot. It just was. I am not a fan of NPR, mind you. I grew up with an indifferent affiliate in Rochester, and I have trouble hearing the chatter of it in the car. Something that makes me feel deaf is not appreciated. However the movie has its fun moments. I would give X-Men 3 a 5.5, Prairie Home Companion a 6, and Pirates a 7.