Thursday, April 30, 2009

Metro Journal: Pragmatic Pants

I was walking some errands this afternoon, and while I was waiting for a crossing light, I heard some shouting. A woman, whose car was stopped at the light, was leaning out of her window, yelling at some dumbass teenager across the intersection to pull up his pants. I looked over. He was wearing those pants which are about ¾ length. In theory, they should hit mid-calf. They were down at his ankles. The waistband wasn't at his waist or even hanging on his hips. It was hovering around the tops of his thighs. The pants were in such dire danger of falling around his ankles that he had to hold them up with a hand. "But," you say, "wouldn't a simple belt have solved the problem?" Oh, he had a belt running through the belt loops. It just apparently was too large. "But," you say, "could he not have simply cut some more notches into the belt?"

Like I said, he was a dumbass.

The thing reminded me of this guy who would often get off the bus at the same stop I did in the evenings when I was working. He looked like he had missed the punk revolution by about 30 years. He had a black mohawk, with the sides of his head completely shaved, and wore a black leather jacket, black jeans, and black knee-high combat boots. Now, I walk pretty fast, but he would always be ahead of me for the couple of blocks we shared in the same direction. What made that amazing, though, was that he would have to stop and pull up his pants periodically. And it's not like he was lacking a belt, either. In fact, he would generally be wearing two or three, black, of course, with silver studs. It's just that none of them actually went through his belt loops and they were just kind of slung over his hips.

I can understand wanting to have a loose waistband for comfort reasons, really. But the annoyance factor of having to pull up your pants regularly, if not hold them up continuously, just boggles my mind. I face a less severe incarnation. Apparently most clothing manufacturers assume that women who are my general shape and size have the proportions of, well, boys. Hence, pants that fit over my hips gap at my waist. Some fit better than others, but I simply cannot find decent casual pants where there is not at least something of a gap. Seriously, if a pair of pants fit properly, I would have no need of a belt. However, sometimes the gap is so large that a belt can only bring the waist in so much without pleating, so the pants will scoot down an inch or two. Even that annoys me. I can't imagine dealing with, oh, a foot or two.

I realize that people have done foolish things over the centuries in the name of sartorial style, but really, this thing seriously makes me want to pull up some of these dumbasses' plummeting pants to the point of wedgie-dom. Maybe the crack of their ass will hold the things in place for awhile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Other: Name That Spider!

Have you seen this spider? The other night, I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed when I saw a rather large spider crawling around. Spiders don't automatically freak me out, unless I recognize them as being really nasty, and about the only really nasty one I can recognize is a black widow. The way I figure it, though, is that most spiders around here are totally harmless to humans, but they're good at getting rid of bugs. So if one spider eats just two bugs, the creepy-crawly population of my apartment has already dropped.

However, I didn't recognize this new guy, and he was rather large, probably close to 2" with the leg span. I took a picture, which I won't post here in case it freaks some poor reader out just to stumble across spider pictures, but you can see it here. I tried looking it up, but most of the pages I could find on spiders found in California only had written descriptions and no pictures, or they were devoted to brown recluses, which, contrary to popular belief, have not been proven to have gotten west of the Mojave Desert, the last time I looked it up. (Anyone in the Los Angeles area saying they were bitten by a brown recluse here probably actually had the pleasure of meeting their cousin, the Chilean recluse, which is similar in appearance and almost as nasty, but not quite.)

Anyway, if anyone recognizes this spider, please let me know what it is and whether it's (a) likely to bite me and (b) likely to hurt if it does. If it's potentially a little nasty, I will probably try to water glass-paper trap and "relocate" it, possibly across the courtyard near the apartment of the incessantly barking dog.1 If it's super nasty, I'll try to kill it outright, but I'd rather avoid cleaning spider guts off the wall if possible.

P.S. I haven't seen any spider webs in any place obvious, so it's probably not a hardcore spinner. I don't spin, either, as it's easier to buy the yarn when it's ready for knitting rather than give Spoon another target flying through the air.

P.P.S. Yes, I made the milk carton picture all by myself. What do you want? It's 2AM!

1I don't blame the dog for being a nervous little nuisance. I blame the dog's owner for thinking a small, nervous dog who barks at any stranger nearby would be a good idea in a high-density apartment building, and the building's owner for buying the place and reversing the "no dogs" policy. However, if the spider gave the dog's useless owner the scare of her life, I can't say I would feel too bad.2
2Someone must have complained recently, because I've heard her actually try to shush the dog when it starts barking now. Discouraging a loud, high-pitched, constant bark hadn't occurred to her before? Maybe even if the spider isn't nasty, I'll relocate it and pray spiders really scare her.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Other: Why I Get the Hiccups

Answer: Because my great-great-great-...-great grandma was a frog.

The January issue of Scientific American, through which I am more than halfway, celebrates the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial (evil word -- I get confused by any Latin numerical prefix after "bi-") of the publication of On the Origin of Species, which, of course, first laid out his then-theory of evolution. (Important note: By real scientists, evolution is a scientific law or fact, no longer considered a "theory," which has a different meaning scientifically than it does colloquially anyway. An explanation of a phenomenon cannot be called a theory in academic circles unless it already has a strong, factual underlying basis with no obvious, provable flaws. I have no patience for the ignorance demonstrated when opponents of evolution assume the word "theory" means someone was pulling random ideas out of their ass to explain how living beings got the way they were and that the explanation has no existing proof. See also "Evolution as theory and fact.")

Ahem. The article "This Old Body" discusses scrotum-related hernias, which I have no knowledge of and find it unlikely that I will ever experience first-hand, and, well, the hiccups, as by-products of our evolution from fish and amphibians.

I can get the hiccups when I get a serious case of the giggles. I don't think it happens as often as it did when I was a kid, but it still pops up from time to time. It drives me nuts. They are very loud hiccups which can wrack my body to the point of pain. Fortunately, while the incidents usually seem interminable, they will usually disappear within 15 minutes or less. I've tried all the folk remedies, such as breathing in paper bags, holding my breath, drinking water, or having someone try to scare them out of me. (I don't recommend doing the last two simultaneously. One time when I was a kid, I was visiting my aunt. I was sitting, drinking some water to try to get rid of the things, when my grandmother came up behind me and shouted, "Boo!" She hadn't realized I was drinking water, and the water spewed out. And I still had the hiccups.)

One contributing factor involves the nerves that control the diaphragm. They take a very circuitous route to get there, a legacy of the time when we had gills on the sides of our necks. Instead of becoming more centralized as the muscle used to control breathing moved down our torso, the phrenic nerves now pass either side of the heart. The other major factor involves the glottis. Tadpoles use the glottis to prevent the water that flows across their gills from getting into their lungs. Basically they control their breath by hiccuping. Put the two together, and the disruption of the phrenic nerve signals to the diaphragm by various means (generally laughing in my case, although occasionally carbonated drinks will do it) causes the diaphragm to spasm, creating an abrupt intake of air on each contraction, which causes the epiglottis to close.

The author also gets points for mentioning knitting, although it's in relation to the bones and cartilage of our hands, the underlying basis of which came from our piscine ancestors. We pay the price for the fine control of these adapted features with the possibility of certain injuries caused by performing movements they hadn't originally been designed to handle and haven't completely evolved to handle.

Anyone who argues that such a jury-rigged body constitutes an "intelligent design" doesn't sound too bright to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Other: Old News

I am still (perpetually) behind on my Scientific American reading. I just hit the January issue! Yes, of this year. Some interesting tidbits:

Apparently religion can rewire a person's brain. (Scroll down to "Seeing On Faith.") Dutch researchers compared cognitive functions of local Calvinists and atheists. Neo-Calvinists believe in the division of society into specific realms of responsibility. The scientists thought this may translate into their being less likely to see the big picture. By showing test subjects pictures of large shapes containing smaller shapes, the faithful were better at recognizing the larger shapes' contents, while the heathens did indeed focus better on the larger shapes. You can check out the full PLoS One article. They plan to see if the cognitive changes hold true to other specific religious beliefs.

Also, you can give yourself an X-ray by unwrapping your birthday present! Well, according to the blurb following the previous news brief, you would have to be unwrapping in near-vacuum conditions. Of course, some relatives may be as good as sucking the air out of the room as they are at sucking the life out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Other: More Rilakkuma Cuteness!

I was too lazy to take a picture, so I didn't mention getting Rilakkuma origami paper when I was at Kinokuniya last week.

Japanese character origami paper

(The Hello Kitty paper was from a previous visit.) Both packages even include cute character stickers! And the Rilakkuma paper has instructions to make his face, although it would look weird making it in the printed paper.

Rilakkuma origami paper

About 6 years ago, I was in a massive origami phase. It had started out as making small gift boxes for the beaded jewelry I made (I was also in the midst of a beading obsession that lasted over a decade) and progressed from there. I never did find a unicorn pattern I could make, though. I was pretty good at a T-rex pattern which I had memorized for awhile and have since forgotten. I don't make much origami now, but I still occasionally procure cute papers.

Anyway, this post was supposed to focus on Rilakkuma. (This is also occasionally Anglicized to "Relaxuma," making it rather clear that the word "relax" was incorporated from English.) I went back to the San-X Rilakkuma page to poke around some more and found this page of high quality images you can download and print out or use on your computer. There's a monthly calendar page which is useful to people who can't read Japanese, as the month is printed as YYYY.MM and the days of the week are even printed using English abbreviations. There are also various desktop background images featuring various San-X characters, pages that look like they could be used as wrapping paper, black and white outlines meant for coloring yourself, pages with light-colored backgrounds to be used as stationary, gift tags, icon images for your computer, and all kinds of other stuff. How neat!

This page features videos of various characters. The music of the first one, with little birds dancing, seemed to disturb Spoon somehow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Other: More Etymology In Action

Some more of my lingual creations:
  • assholiness (n): the use of religion as justification for treating other people like crap
  • kabob (v): to knit wrong-side rows from left to right instead of turning the work and purling from right to left as is commonly practiced; acronym for "to knit back backwards"

Other: Speaking of Twits

When I posted about Twitter the other day, I had no idea that Ashton "My-god-what-the-hell-do-people-see-in-him" Kutcher was about to become the first Twitterer to pass the million-follower mark, which he accomplished in the wee hours this morning. He had been in a race with CNN's Twitter feed to hit the milestone, with the winner donating 10,000 mosquito nets for World Malaria Day.

This actually knocked my un-Twittered train of the thought onto a new set of tracks and made me wonder. Many if not most celebrity "autobiographies" are actually handled by ghost writers. I wonder if there's a market yet for ghost twitterers.

At any rate, despite the worthy charitable aspect, the questionable achievement of being King of a Million Twits couldn't have happened to a bigger twit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Other: Twits?

I don't have a Facebook account or a Myspace page. I haven't even had this blog for a full year yet. I figure I was on the relatively-cutting edge of web pages (my cat had one way back in 1994) when it was the hip nerdy thing and you still had to write all your own HTML (or at least "borrow" someone else's), and long before it was the ubiquitous, mass-market expectation of today. I think previous posts have established I am a Totally-Geeky Über Cool Nerd Goddess, so all that getting a Facebook page would do at this point is make me look like a Johnny-Come-Lately-And-Therefore-Wannabe-Cool-In-A-Non-Nerd-Goddess way. (Plus Facebook has some atrocious privacy policies.)

Above all, I don't Twitter. Honestly, if you're sitting there constantly reporting on your every thought, people, assuming anyone is still reading, realize your train of thought travels through the most boring scenery anywhere. If you're twittering about what you're doing at that moment, well, isn't what you're doing twittering? This would pretty much be me on Twitter:
8:55AM Right now I'm twittering.
8:56AM Still twittering.
8:58AM Pandora just got in my lap.
9:00AM I'm twittering with Pandora in my lap.
9:03AM I wonder if I should get Pandora her own Twitter account.
9:08AM I should really be finishing that baby shower gift I'm making, but then Pandora would have to get up.
Bored yet?

I'm sure there are some interesting conversations going on, but on the whole, it reminds me of married couples who don't really converse with each other so much as talk at each other.

I realize we now live in an age where people born in the 90s have no concept of what constitutes Too Much Information, but, well, teenagers are morons. It has always been true, and it will always be true. Now they just have the tools to record for posterity and for all the world to see all, and I mean every single one, of their insipid thoughts, combined with the total lack of judgment to know when to shut up.

My thoughts may be insipid, but at least I know when to shut up! That would be right about now...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Pay It Forward

UPDATE: I have my five giftees now! If you want to participate, Sanguiknity still needs a couple, or maybe the takers here will leave comments about where you can find their offer! Thanks!

Via the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry, I found Sanguiknity's Pay It Forward meme, so I'm joining in!
The Rules:

The first five (cinq) (cinco) (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. (No refunds… no exchanges!!!!)
  2. What I create will be just for you, with love from me.
  3. It'll be done this year (2009).
  4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. I may even create something totally unbelievable and surprise you!! Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
  5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.
  6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note/post of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to it.
  7. Please send your mailing address (if you don't live close to me in Los Angeles) to my Gmail account karenblogs. (You can translate that into an email address, right?) Please leave a comment here, too, so people don't think I'm shilling my gifts!

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I do not see you post your own note to pay this forward.
So, come on, folks! Here's your chance to get one of my amazing creations and spread your own handmade love!

When you pay it forward, you can use just about any media you want. Doesn't have to be yarn! (Drawing, painting, clay, fabric, wire, Legos, popsicle sticks...)

Edited to add:
The Rules, Simplified:

  1. You sign up (post here and then email me your mailing address if I don't know where you live).
  2. I send you (assuming you're in the first five to sign up) something I've made. No requests, no refunds.
  3. You post on your blog/social networking page/etc. an offer to do the same thing for five other people.
ETA 2: I will ship internationally, if that was putting anyone off. Just don't expect a life-size Ô Totoro. Actually, that would be true for anyone not willing to come pick it up. Actually, I'm not sure I'd be able to get it through the door. Um, nevermind.

Other: Über Cool Nerd Goddess

I figured since I was apparently missing certain key aspects on the geek test, and there is no way in hell that I am going to start dressing up like a hobbit just to raise my score, I'd find a nerd test.

I assume, though, that it is judged not on an absolute scale, like the geek test is, but relative to other people who have taken the nerd test. Therefore, if a disproportionate number of non-nerds have taken the test, like if it's used as some kind of fraternity test to weed out excessively nerdy initiates, that would skew the results. Right?1

However, the results page announced they are working on version 2.0 of the test, so I took that.

I am an Uber Cool Nerd God2. Run! Run!

No, I have absolutely no idea how I only get 2% on a scale of dorkiness. I suspect there's a bug in their code. (Yes, I know what "code" means.) Actually, I take issue with a lot of their criteria. The geek test was much more finely-grained.

1Who here is not saying to themselves, "Damn, this woman needed to take a nerd test to figure out she was a nerd?"
2Should be Goddess here, people.

Knittin' Crap: Rilakkuma and Friends

9784391136906 Someone on Ravelry had mentioned something about the little amigurumi bear being a popular Japanese character. I went to Kinokuniya yesterday, and sure enough, they had all sorts of paraphernalia featuring the book's characters, all from the company San-X.

lazydaisybearThis guy is named Rilakkuma, a combination of the words "relax" and "bear." According to wikipedia, he likes mochi, pancakes, and doughnuts and has a mischievous little white bear named Korilakkuma and a chick named Kiiroitori, for whom there are also patterns in my book. I can't read this page on the San-X site, but as can you see, Rilakkuma is generally a pretty relaxed bear.

seal-side The baby seal is a mamegoma character. The white seal seems to be named Gomao, but there are other mamegoma characters, too.

Other: The Geek Test

total geek

I "only" scored 29.5858%. My main deficiencies seemed to be that I never played D&D-type RPGs and am not a big fantasy genre fan. I do get an extra point for being female, though.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Other: Keep Them Doggies Bowlin'

I walked to the bowling alley this afternoon and played two games. I got a strike the very first frame and got a 124 for the game. Woot! The next game didn't go so well. I started out with 3 gutterballs in a row. I ended up bowling an 85 on that game, which I think was still better than I did when I went with Brad a couple weeks ago, and I didn't get more than half a dozen gutterballs between the two games.

I just want to know why they always seem to stick me in a lane next to people who don't understand basic bowling etiquette, like not going at the same time as the person in the lane next to you.

Knittin' Crap: Flashing in the Pool

I like random patterns. No, I don't stare at the clouds, looking for Elvis, or examine my grilled cheese sandwiches, either before or after taking a bite, looking for the Virgin Mary in the burned spots, and even if I saw her, unless she was cranking out some serious bloody tears, I'd just finish my lunch.

Knit or crocheted fabric made with variegated yarns (yarns with sections of different colors) can sometimes produce interesting epiphenomena known as "pooling" and "flashing." Pooling describes the grouping of one of the repeated colors in the same area. Flashing tends to look more planned, with diagonal "stripes" of colors or other more organized-appearing color placement.

Pooling examples:
The purple keeps pooling into small spots

I totally love this argyle look

Both are just a function of the length and regularity of the color repeats combined with how much yarn you're using on each row of knitting. It seems random, but if someone really wanted to take advantage of it (or avoid it), they could do a lot of math.

I'm posting about this now because I just finished two sweaters which have some serious flashing and pooling going on.

Flash! Aaaa-aaaah...
Savior of the universe!

Some people are really anti-pooling. Some yarns are even marketed as guaranteed not to pool, which I assume is accomplished by shortening and randomizing the length of the color sections. While I've seen some unfortunate examples of pooling, usually of color pooling and highlighting specific areas of a garment, most are usually benign and some are even really cool. I really like seeing what turns up.

1Some people may say this is more a strange form of pooling than flashing. I'm going to call it flashing because it's a borderline case, and the stitch used makes the colors look more continuous across rows than they would if the color distribution happened in a plain stockinette piece.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whiteboard Jungle: Hansen Jr Hits 100!

Hansen Jr got his 100th hit today on flickr.

Hansen Jr's 100 Views

My campaign to knock him from the top spot has failed. However, Hansen Jr has some stiff competition in the Crushed Cultist. He's only been up a week, but one post on the Puzzle Pirates forums has gotten him over 60 views in that time!

The flickr statistics page is like crack, I tell you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Did You Know...

Montana is the only state that permits hunting with an atlatl?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Other: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Bun

The 30-Second Bunnies Theatre version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is out. I'm sad to say I'm rather disappointed, though.

I've been a big fan of the 30-Second Bunnies for years. There are some classic gems, but there are also some movies which don't have the kind of iconic scenes which lend well to the encapsulation. However, Star Trek II most definitely does not have that deficiency, so I was a little surprised when the Bunnies' version seemed to miss almost every single key scene and quote. The one unavoidable moment, Kirk's response when Khan has left him "buried alive... buried alive.... buried alive..." is present, but, dude, that is the weakest "KHAAAAAAAAHHHHHNNN!" ever. You'd think he'd maybe stepped on Kirk's big toe rather than stolen a WMD.

Yes, I freely admit I've seen this movie dozens of times, so I'm prone to severe bias, but there are other Bunnies adaptations of favorite movies of mine which delighted me, like Star Wars and Alien. Here I see only all the lost potential, and that makes me a sad pandora, er, panda. sniff

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Spear and Magic Helmet!

I had the polymer clay out yesterday to make the head-embedded spear for my Crushed Cultist. Since Valkyries need spears and magic helmets ("Magic helmet?" "Magic helmet!"), I went ahead and made some extras. Fresh out of the oven...