Friday should be easy. These are items that have made my life a little easier this past week. Maybe they can make your life easier, too.
HP48GX Calculator: I love my calculator. I don’t want to geek out about my calculator but well. I’m going to geek out about my calculator. So if you don’t want to hear all about how Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) kicks algebra’s butt, you need not read further; just skip ahead to the fun and fluffy discussion on the Knifty Knitter loom below. It’s OK. Calculators aren’t terribly interesting to most people.
I find them most interesting, particularly mine. It makes my life easier in so many ways, I’m not sure I can list them all here without putting at least half of you asleep. (The other half are either already asleep or have moved to the Knifty Knitter paragraph below.)
Before I bought it as an engineering student, I feared that I would never get the hang of RPN; I’d heard so many horror stories about fellow students forking over the $350 for the thing and not being able to use it. I feared that I’d use it for 4+ years of college and never touch it again. I feared that it would be obsolete in a few months and I’d have to replace it. I feared that I wouldn’t really need it.
It took me all of ten minutes before I realized that RPN is a brown paper lunch bag filled with time-saving, easy, wondrous, sweet goodies that won’t make you fat. For my calculus classes, it was a Godsend. When I was an engineer and used it daily, it was necessary. For quilting, it’s a small miracle. The calculator can convert units, so figuring out how many yards of fabric I need to buy when I know how many pieces of a certain size in inches is nothing. And I don’t have to remember area equations, since they’re all already in the calculator. I just have to plug in the number and it solves for unknown variables all by itself.
As for obsolescence… well, they stopped making this calculator in 2003 and people are still giving it 5 star reviews on Amazon. You can buy one used for about $150. Considering that I paid about $200 new for mine in 1996 because of a sale and a student discount (I’ve always been thrifty), I’m feeling pretty smug about that investment. Also, the new HP50G sells for around $100 right now (though I think it’s on sale). Seriously.
I won’t get into the stack; we’d be here all day. (I’m serious. The stack is the thing I love most about it. So don’t get me started. You’ve been warned.)
All in all, this wonderful piece of computing power has been making my life easier for 16 years. I love it. I’d cry lots if anything ever happened to it. Knock on wood.
Knifty Knitter: There are an awful lot of people who hate these looms. I don’t know why. I love them.
I can’t knit. Using the traditional two knitting stick things (needles?), I can’t knit. I’ve tried. And I hate it. Back when the knitting craze first began I wanted to knit so much. For the first time in my life, my normally-able hands just couldn’t pick it up. Frustration? Check. Anger? Check. An unreasonable desire to smash an isle full of pretty knitting stick thingies and assorted knitting accoutrements into toothpicks? CHECK!
Hard feelings? Check. Alas.
I mean, I can crochet. But it doesn’t carry the same panache as knitting these days. It’s not cool. I don’t worry about being cool (obviously) and I never have. But I do like to keep in touch with the latest craft crazes. Crafters are my people. You gotta keep up with your peeps, yes?
Enter the Knifty Knitter!
I can knit! And I don’t have to tell anyone that I did it on a loom. (Except, you know, I just told all of you.) Everyone can assume that I am using those god-awful pointy knitting stick thingies I still despise and wish into a million little smashed pieces. Ahem.
If you get one of these looms, I highly advise buying a book of patterns to go with it. It will simplify your life. Alternatively, you can watch YouTube videos. There are tons.