bbell

If you're looking for a description of the professional me, please head on over to my career bio. If you're interested in who I am outside of work, you've come to the right place. Kick back and relax, and let me tell you about myself...

I was born May 28, 1956 at Saint Luke's Hospital in Richmond, Virginia to Native American parents and I'm a member of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. My grandfather was a chief, my uncle was a chief, my father served as acting chief for several years and the honor is currently held by my cousin, Kenny. The older I get, the more I realize how important my heritage is and how much it has shaped my life and value system. Having two older brothers who struggled through reservation life during the 40's and 50's has taught me a great deal about cultural tolerance and the real value of opportunity.

Both of my parents are deceased and I miss them daily. When I bought my first car, my father wouldn't let me drive it until I learned how to change the oil and change a tire. My mother taught me how to sew and how to inflict self-induced guilt when I don't do my best:

If a task is once begun,
Never leave it 'til it's done.
Be the labor great or small,
Do it well or not at all.
-- Author unknown, but oft repeated by Mom...

I started taking piano lessons when I was 6 and graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory in 1979. I still play piano and guitar when it suits me. My father always said "I can't play a piano, but I play a mean radio."

At the age of 40, I married my one and only husband in 1997. The best thing about our relationship is that I married my best friend and we're still best friends. The scariest thing is that I'm completely convinced we share a brain. More than anything else we do together, we laugh. It's nice to know you can still play when you've reached the era of black-balloon birthdays. I've never had a face lift, I don't dye my hair and I'm perfectly happy with the way I look.

The rest of the story remains to be written, because...

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.
-- John Lennon

Feb 222015
 

In my quest to knit the perfect sock heel on a knitting machine, I stumbled on Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. If you aren’t familiar with this type of heel or you’re simply interested in learning how to do this on your knitting machine, I’d suggest watching Cat’s video first.

Even if you don’t know how to hand knit, Cat does an excellent job of explaining what causes the gaps in a short row heel… and that’s the key to learning how to eliminate the gaps.

Intrigued? Here’s how you can knit a modified version of the Sweet Tomato Heel on a knitting machine, regardless of whether you knit your socks cuff-down or toe-up.

These instructions assume the heel will be knit on the main bed.

When knitting circular, the ribber knits right to left and the main bed knits left to right.

If you’re knitting your heel on the ribber or your carriages will knit in the opposite direction, you’ll need to flip these instructions around.

Preparing to knit the first wedge

  1. Begin by knitting up to the point where the heel begins.
  2. Knit on the ribber right to left and stop. Your carriage is on the left. This is where each wedge will begin.
  3. Set your ribber carriage to slip in both directions.
  4. Set your main carriage to knit and hold in both directions. Needles in HP will not knit.
If you’re knitting circular on a double-bed machine or knitting machine with ribber, the last carriage pass before starting your heel will always be on the bed opposite the heel. If the heel is knit on the main bed, the last circular pass must be on the ribber. If the heel is knit on the ribber, the last circular pass must be on the main bed.

If you’re knitting a seamed sock without a ribber, it doesn’t matter which side you start on. Just be sure to start each wedge from the same side.

Knitting the first wedge

  1. Set the ribber carriage to slip in both directions.
  2. Set the main carriage to knit and hold in both directions.
  3. Row 1
    • Pull the edge needle opposite the carriage (right) to hold.
    • Knit 1 row left to right.
    • Manually wrap the held needle.
    • Manually knit the next WP needle, pull it to hold and pull the yarn taut to tighten up the wrap.
  4. Row 2
    • Pull the edge needle opposite the carriage (left) to hold.
    • Knit 1 row right to left.
    • Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the left side — exactly the same way you did it on the right side.
  5. Now repeat rows 1 and 2 until the center 1/3 of your stitches remain in WP and your carriage is on the left.
  6. Push the held needles on the right to UWP.
  7. Knit 1 row left to right. Note that it may be a little harder to knit the needles in UWP because of the snug wraps.
  8. For circular socks with ribber:
    1. Use a transfer tool to carefully move the held stitches on the left to WP. Note that it may be a little harder to manipulate the stitches because of the snug wraps.
    2. Set the main carriage to slip in both directions.
    3. Set the ribber carriage to knit right to left.
    4. Knit 1 row right to left on the ribber.
    5. Pull the main bed needles left of 0 to UWP. Remember that these needles still contain the wraps and may be harder to knit. Pulling these needles back to UWP with the stitches behind the latches will help the stitches knit cleanly.
  9. For flat socks without ribber:
    1. Push the held needles on the left to UWP.
    2. Knit 1 row right to left.

One wedge is complete. Your carriage is on the left where it’s ready to knit another wedge or resume circular knitting.

Usually, you’ll want to knit 3 wedges for a nice round heel. You may find you need more or less to achieve a good fit. You can add or remove a 1/2 wedge by leaving more needles in WP.

You may find that the wedges create a slightly snugger heel. This may make the ankle stitches pull. To make the sock a little looser around the ankle, increase the number of stitches every 2 to 4 rows leading up to the heel and decrease back to the original number of stitches after you complete the heel.

Dec 242014
 

I’ll take one of these over a Bloody Mary any day of the year.

The Vodka

1 liter good vodka
2 cups grated horseradish
1/2 cup black peppercorns

Pour the vodka in a large jug, add the horseradish and peppercorns and shake it up. Let it sit for 10-12 hours, but give it a shake every couple of hours. When it’s done, strain it through a coffee filter and pour it back in the bottle. Don’t worry about the color… that just means it’s absorbed all that horseradish and pepper.

The Mixer

48 ounce bottle of tomato juice
3 8 ounce bottles of clam juice
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak seasoning
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Pour it all in a jug and shake it. Refrigerate for several hours until it’s good and cold.

The Drink

Fill a glass with ice. Give the mixer a good shake. Add the spicy vodka and mixer to the glass according to your tastes — 1 part vodka to 3 parts mixer works well. Stir and garnish with a celery stick or wedge of lime.

Dec 242014
 

I’ve been using qmail as my MTA for as long as I can remember. The feature I like most is being able to have one-off email addresses I can use across the web that can easily be disabled if I start getting spammed.

For folks who aren’t familiar with qmail, that means I can set up a prefix foo with the extension - and have email sent to foo-anytext@mydomain.com without having to reconfigure the server every time I want to create a new temporary email address.

At some point, that address will start getting spam. The bonus is that by using an extension that identifies the site where I used it, I immediately know where the leak started. When the spam shows up, I create a dot-qmail file to bounce email to that address. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of dot-qmail files, so I’ve started using soft-links to manage them. On my server, I set up three dot-qmail files for my account:

.qmail-default controls normal delivery:

.qmail-bounce will bounce an email:

.qmail-bounce-and-deliver will bounce an email as far as the sender is concerned, but the email will still be delivered. This gives me time to slowly retire an email address that may still occasionally receive legitimate email:

Once these three files are configured, I can immediately toggle delivery for a specific email address with a single command:

Dec 032014
 

Ingredients

  • 1 pounds stew beef
  • 1 cup flour
  • oil, for browning meat
  • 1 package Crockery Gourmet Seasoning For Beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can Condensed French Onion Soup
  • 1 can Condensed Beef Consomm√©
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 potatoes, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 celery, cut into 1/4 ” chunks

Directions

  1. Coat stew beef with flour and brown in hot oil over medium high heat 2 minutes per side. Do not crowd pan.
  2. Transfer beef to bottom of slow cooker.
  3. Combine beef seasoning and water. Add soups, water, garlic and tomatoes. Pour over meat.
  4. Spread potatoes, carrots and celery on top of meat.
  5. Cook on high 6 hours or low 10 hours.
Nov 252014
 

I ask you to recall two powerful quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

My thoughts, prayers and support are with the good people of Ferguson who chose to take the hard and high road after last night’s grand jury announcement. The media may have been focused on your counterparts, but you are the ones with the real power to bring about positive change in your community.

Please don’t let the opportunity pass.