To Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 5

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Boy, this is a Quis custodiet ipsos custodies situation if I’ve ever seen one. Who decides if an election is legit? For the House of Representatives, it’s the House. For the Senate, it’s the Senate. They’re allowed force a member to attend, if they’ve been truant and they get to decide on the penalties for not showing up.

The House and the Senate may both establish their own rules for debate, voting and other proceedings, may punish disorderly behavior. If two thirds of them don’t want to keep a member, they can also chuck them out. Yep, they can throw out duly elected reps if they feel like the person isn’t behaving.

They must keep a record of what goes on and publish it. By the way, not only is the Congressional Record public these days, but if you really want to know how your reps vote, you might want to consider signing up for MegaVote. You get emailed about the voting records of your reps.

The Senate has to get permission of the House and the House the Senate if, during a scheduled session of Congress, they want to adjourn for more than three days. They are also forbidden to move their meeting place during a session without the other chamber’s consent.

To Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 4

Heh. This one is short and sweet. I feel like I understand it pretty well.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.

It’s up to the states to decide how to hold elections. However, Congress reserves the right to override this if necessary. In other words, hold on to your butts. This could get entertaining in the near future. Or the power could be used for Good. Hope springs eternal…

Senators were not directly elected when this was written. The 17th Amendment changed this in 1913.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different Day.

Being a member of Congress was not a full-time job, back in the day.  Communications being what they were, they needed to set out a time to assemble and a minimum interval.  This comes from the memory of Parliaments in English history being rather infrequently and reluctantly called.  They recognized that national government needed to meet on a regular basis.

Unvention

I overbought majorly on the aran weight cream colored wool for a sweater I made back at the beginning of the year.

In pondering what to do with the leftovers, I considered making some knee-high socks. I like to wear skirts, but in winter weather, really do want something warm on the exposed parts!

The problem is, when I knit knee socks, invariably I either need a sock garter to keep them up, which brings me back to the days of being a Junior Girl Scout (yes, the uniform used to have knee socks and sock garters with an orange tag, and boy does that date me) or I have to really narrow the top of the sock so it won’t slip down my calves, which makes it a little uncomfortable.

I was feeling kind of whimsical when I was thinking about making these socks, and remembered a tea cozy I made with part of the leftover yarn (I told you I seriously overbought). The pattern called for the top of the tea cozy to have a series of holes through which you could thread a drawstring. This would enable you to take the top off the teapot with the cozy still on, and then tighten it back when the top was replaced.

I decided, what the heck, I’d try it on the tops of the socks.

Friends, this really works well. It’s a cute take on a sock garter, and has the advantage of being pretty flexible about how tight you tie it.

I was telling my husband about it and he commented with delight, “You invented something!”

Going into Lecture Mode (hey, I’m a teacher among other things) I commented, “No, honey, I unvented it.”

This is actually a fairly important concept in knitting – one I’ll turn over to the real unventing expert – Elizabeth Zimmerman:

Do you mind the word “unvented”? I like it. Invented sounds to me rather pompous and conceited. I picture myself as a knitting inventor, in a clean white coat, sitting in a workshop full of tomes of reference, with charts and graphs on the walls. Not real knitters’ charts, which are usually scribbled on odd and dog-eared pieces of squared paper, or even ordinary paper with homemade squares on it, but charts like sales charts, and graphs like the economy. I have a thoughtful expression behind my rimless glasses and hold a neatly-sharpened pencil. Who knows but that I don’t have a bevy of hand-knitters in the backroom, tirelessly toiling at the actual knit and purl of my deathless designs?

Rubbish.

But unvented—ahh! One un-vents something; one unearths it; one digs it up, one runs it down in whatever recesses of the eternal consciousness it has gone to ground. I very much doubt if anything is really new when one works in the prehistoric medium of wool with needles. The products of science and technology may be new, and some of them are quite horrid, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep. Seamless sweaters and one-row buttonholes; knitted hems and phoney seams—it is unthinkable that these have, in mankind’s history, remained undiscovered and unknitted. One likes to believe that there is memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive.

Zimmermann, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac: The Commemorative Edition (Dover Knitting, Crochet, Tatting, Lace) (p. 75). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 3

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

We vote directly for Senators now (17th Amendment) but each state still gets two, and serves for six years.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

After the Senate was set up, they arranged it so that we would not change the entire Senate at one time, but only 1/3 of them would be up for election at any one time.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

You have to be thirty years old, have been a citizen of the US for nine years, and be a resident of the state from which you are elected.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Vice President presides over the Senate (y’all do know that’s the meaning of “president,” right? One who presides? Pay attention to that. It’s gonna become important when we get to Article 2 and start talking about Executive powers). The Vice President doesn’t get a vote unless the vote is tied in the Senate. That’s not too common.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

Other than the VP, the Senate can choose its own officers. There must be a President Pro-tem who becomes the President of the Senate if the VP becomes President of the United States. We don’t really want the President of the United State to be the President of the Senate. Talk about screwing up a balance of powers!

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

If the House votes to impeach the President, the Chief Justice presides over the trial, which is held by the Senate. A 2/3 majority is required to convict.

Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Impeachment merely means removal from office and being subject to being barred from holding further office in the US. It is not actually a criminal trial. But if you are impeached, you may be subject to a criminal trial and punishment as well.

How Else Can They Become?

‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.’

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—’

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

‘So we can believe the big ones?’

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

‘They’re not the same at all!’

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET— Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

‘Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—’

MY POINT EXACTLY.

She tried to assemble her thoughts.

THERE IS A PLACE WHERE TWO GALAXIES HAVE BEEN COLLIDING FOR A MILLION YEARS, said Death, apropos of nothing. DON’T TRY TO TELL ME THAT’S RIGHT.

‘Yes, but people don’t think about that,’ said Susan. Somewhere there was a bed…

CORRECT. STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE, THERE’S HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A… A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT.

‘Talent?’

OH, YES. A VERY SPECIAL KIND OF STUPIDITY. YOU THINK THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS INSIDE YOUR HEADS.

‘You make us sound mad,’ said Susan. A nice warm bed…

NO. YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

In Praise of Oxyclean

An aunt gave me a tablecloth that my great-grandmother had made. It’s linen and it had been stained. I knew you shouldn’t use chlorine bleach on antique linens, but other than that, I was not sure how to revive it. As a matter of fact, chlorine bleach can leave a stain on antique whites. I am not sure if that’s what had happened here, or if it was something else – food, time, long-term storage… It’s hard to say.

So, there were several stains on it even though I’d washed it and hung it outside in the sunshine.

I didn’t sweat it too much. The stains were covered by the table runners I’ve made, so what the heck? It was my great-grandmother’s, which meant I was sentimentally inclined to use it.

I read an article (I am not sure where) about using oxygen-based bleaches like Oxyclean to get stains out of linen and I figured it was worth a try, since it was unlikely to hurt the tablecloth.

I mixed up the powder according to the directions on the package (yes, I read directions. I spent a couple of years writing knowledge articles for techs and people who don’t read directions make me wanna smack something) and soaked the tablecloth. After checking it a couple of times, it looked safe to risk soaking it all night.

When I washed it this morning:

If you look really closely, you can see a couple of faintly yellow spots. But I’m happy to have a nice, white tablecloth where I don’t have to count on runners to hide the stained spots.

I also have some badly-stored linens from when I was first married that I’ve kept, but never use. Guess what I am going to do next?

To Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 2

(Standard disclaimer. I’m a layman with a high school education)

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature. No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

This passage says several things. First, that the people will vote for their Representatives, and that they will elect them every two years. Secondly, this gives the qualification to vote to the states. So, it was conceivable that a resident of Massachusetts could move to Virginia and find he was no longer qualified to vote! (The framers of the US Constitution simply did not believe in universal franchise). This matter was eventually addressed over several amendments.

Then this moves on to the qualifications to be a US Representative. You have to have been a US Citizen for at least seven years, be at least twenty-five years old, and be a resident of the state in which you are elected.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by law Direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Oh goodie, we get to something problematic right away.

Representatives and taxation were meant to be based on population. However, there was a large population of people living within the borders of the US that some of the framers most certainly did not want to count as a citizen – Native Americans and enslaved people. Yet they still didn’t want to give up that enumeration! People were afraid that the high population density areas would address their own needs and roll over the needs of areas with lower population density. If you read the news this very morning, you’ll see that this is an issue we still wrestle with!

The compromise was that the people who were enslaved would count as three fifths of a person (and yes I wince to write that) and if a Native American was not taxed, they didn’t count at all. (And there we go with taxation without representation, ’cause Native Americans weren’t universally considered US citizens until the 1920s) A lot of this has been addressed by legislation and Amendments, by the way.

It also establishes that we need to count our population every ten years. We do this with the US Census.

This directs that we cannot have more than one representative for every thirty thousand people, and gives a number of representatives for several of the states as an interim until the first Census. Keep in mind, they were making this up as they went along!

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

If a seat in the House of Representatives becomes vacant, the state governor is responsible for organizing and election to fill that vacancy.

Within the House, the members choose the Speaker of the House as well as any other leadership positions with the body. They’re also responsible for impeaching their own members if necessary. (Quis custodiet)

One of the things that is really striking me as I am going along with this is how dynamic the Constitution is. We have changed so much over the last couple of centuries. Does this mean the document is meaningless? No. Not in the least. While I do think we do need to work from principles, the continent-spanning empire we have now genuinely does have different needs than did those East Coast colonies.

Dorm Boots, Physical Hobbies and Sedentary Hobbies

As a reward to myself for getting up at five in the damn morning to get my long-neglected swim in, I decided to blow off housework to knit, finishing these little slippers, called Dorm Boots. They seem to have originated from an old pattern in the early part of the Twentieth century, they developed and updated over the years. I’ve seen variations that were knitted flat (I freely admit I found the pattern too confusing) to the variation you see here, which was knitted in the round.

I made them out of some scrap yarn I had left over from my latest shawl. Like the shawl, these things make me absurdly happy.

They’re very easy. All you need to know is how to knit in the round, decrease left and right, purl and sew up a seam. The bottom of the slipper is actually knit open, and you sew it up at the end. If you want the pattern, click on the image. It’s free, and quite useful.

I was questioning the garter stitch at the soles, but I think I get the point. You really do want a little texture on them. I’ve walked across the tile floor in my kitchen and the texture, even with acrylic yarn, is enough to reduce the chance of slipping.

For people who want comfy house-socks that are warmer than the thin ones you wear under your shoes, but don’t really want to commit to a heavy slipper, this is a good intermediary. I would also consider them good bed shoes for people who wanted to wear socks to bed.

I made them out of acrylic, and I think I would only want to make them out of an easily washable yarn, unless I were to make the deliberate oversized to felt on purpose. I’m tempted to try that, as I have some heavy brown Fisherman’s Wool left over that would make a warm slipper, indeed.

Ah yes, getting the swim in.

I’d been neglecting working out for some time, and was spurred back into a proper routine by a couple of things. First, I threw out my back. I have never in my life had back trouble before. It’s awful and painful and if you’ve been through it, I don’t have to tell you anything. If you haven’t? It sucks. It was from sitting in a bad chair and not working out. I fixed the chair while my back healed well enough to move without much pain, then I got back in the pool. I’d always had a strong back, so that was a bit of a shocker.

The other was a comment my son made while he was visiting for Thanksgiving. My parents had sent up with him a box of memorabilia from my childhood. In it were a few swim team ribbons (I never got better than second place, and I’d been on the swim team for longer than I’d remembered!), a bunch of pictures of me on various soccer teams and several Karate (Isshin-Ryu) certificates. He commented that he did not know that I was an athlete when I was a kid.

That brought me up short.

I don’t think of myself as an athlete or even a former athlete. Yes, I know. If you train to swim two miles in open water, you’re an athlete. All I can say is that I don’t think of myself that way. I didn’t think of myself as an athlete as a child, either. I was always gently encouraged to have some physical activity to engage in most of the time and I liked swimming and dance and soccer and Karate. But I was never a star at any of them. I did it because they were fun, and stopped when they stopped being fun.

But I never really could get into exercise for the sake of exercise, even though, yes I need to move or my body breaks down! Taking a walk? Well, it’s nice as a way to socialize with someone, or while listening to a book or something, but I don’t love it for the activity itself. Running? Running is for people who can’t swim. Exercise classes? *shudder* Not unless they’re highly skill-based, and in that case, I’m into it because I’m learning the skill. Weights? Okay, ya got me. I get a kick out of lifting heavy stuff.

But while I know that I do need to make sure to move my body regularly to counteract my sedentary profession and other hobbies (knitting ain’t exactly active, is it?) I always need a physical hobby to make sure that I’m active enough. And that’s the thing. I see myself as having a physical hobby – not as an athlete.

Low-End Yarn: in which I apologize to Red Heart Super Saver

Now, I don’t generally knit with what you’d exactly call high-end yarn (Wool of the Andes, yo!) but I do usually knit with wool. I made myself a half-circle shawl recently and have been enjoying wearing it. I made it out of (cue ominous music) Red Heart Super Saver, an acrylic yarn that is really about as low-end as you can get. This is the stuff you use to make enormous afghans out of because otherwise you’d never be able to afford to make it. I have two such on my bed – one made by me some dozen years ago and is basically a four-foot granny square. The other was one my grandmother crocheted out of what I believe is a shell stitch. So, I don’t totally eschew RHSS, but it’s not something I often make garments out of. I want my sweaters to be wool, darn it. The Half Circle Shawl was an exception I made out of a combination of impatience (I was in Wal-mart when the urge to make it hit me) and self-discipline (I hit my yarn budget for the quarter already, and everything in my stash was committed to other projects). I just wanted a nice thick shawl to wear around the house.

While doing A Thing for Christmas Gifts in the kitchen, I had something of a Messy Disaster involving a dark liquid. I had been wearing my shawl ’cause it’s cold in the house and I’m too cheap to heat it much. The Messy Disaster got all over the kitchen – floor, countertops… me…

Which meant I had to wash the shawl. I threw it in the washing machine, washed it with a few other things, tossed it in the dryer and waited as impatiently as any toddler waiting for Blankie for it to come out of the dryer.

Y’all? This came out of the dryer as nice and soft as you could want. The drape has been improved and it’s completely cuddly.

So, while I wouldn’t really recommend it for a nice sweater, I’m gonna say I don’t think this yarn deserves as bad a beyond the pale reputation as all THAT.

Frugal Cooking Tastes Better

I make stock from the turkey carcass every Thanksgiving. I love turkey stock and got a gallon of it this year — wonderful rich liquid gold, I tell you.

Instead of popping this right in the freezer, I’m going to put these bad boys in the fridge to let the fat rise and solidify. I know what you’re thinking. I’m doing that for low-fat stock, so I’ll be throwing it away.

Are you on CRACK?

Save that stuff. You want poultry and dumplins soup that will make you swear to be a better person for the rest of your life for just one plateful? Use the poultry fat instead of butter or oil for the dumplins and you’ll have a little bowl of Heaven.

Besides which, if I bought that turkey by the pound, I paid for that fat. Why buy extra butter, right?