Monthly Archives: August 2012

Random Linkage

The Art of Vogue Covers – Mostly rather ridiculous looking fashion art.

Binary System – fascinating

Victorian astronomy and nudity – Not what you would expect from the “prudish” Victorian era.

Clutter – My problem isn’t only that I have clutter; it’s that I have the wrong kind of clutter. Too many tools and cat toys and not enough books and fabric.

IT Knight – Ha! Sometimes those seem like good solutions.

ZomBees – What happened to all the honeybees

Rules of Thumb – That sounds right and those two guys would know.

DNA Storage – Wow. Think of the possibilities.

Book of Joe – I need to add this blog to my list. Lots of really nifty stuff there.

Spiegel 1943 – It’s funny… 40′s fashions don’t look all that dated to me. I know I’m a bit dated myself but not that dated.

Velveeta and medievalism – Interesting. Metaphors can become creepy when you learn a little history.

Strange things on Google Streetview

Melting – Lots of nifty, melty-looking things

The Ninety-Nine Draft – Weird art and poetry

Bag o’ Buttons

I am frequently frustrated and disappointed by Walmart’s inadequate selection of sewing notions. It’s not just that they have so few – it’s about what I would expect for a small department in a big store – but since they do only have space for a limited number of items, it seems to me that they should start with the basics, like having plain shirt buttons instead of a lot of fancy and novelty buttons of limited usefulness.

Once again I needed plain, beige shirt buttons. My options were to either order them or drive 40 miles to Tulsa to buy them, neither of which I wanted to do. So, as I always do, I looked at the buttons at Wal-mart first. In addition to the usual buttons on cards they have little bags of mixed buttons of related colors. I had never really looked at these, thinking there wouldn’t be enough of any one kind and I’d end up with a lot of miscellaneous buttons that I could never use. But this time I picked up the bag of brown and tan buttons, looked at them, tried for a minute to count them in the bag, and decided to take a chance on them.

It turned out that there were only five different styles of buttons in the bag, with enough of each style for at least two shirts and of two of the five, more than enough for three shirts.

Just some buttons

They’re all very nice buttons and I know I will eventually use almost all of them. I really like the small two-holed button on the left. It’s so… cute. I can hardly wait to sew them on something. The little bags of buttons are Favorite Findings brand and they’re my new favorite thing.

Seeing Stars

Yep. This is pretty close.


XKCD

Reading the reviews is more helpful though. Usually on any product with ten or more reviews at least one of the bad reviews will be by someone who obviously misunderstood the purpose of the product or didn’t read the description.

A few weeks ago I bought a pot/pitcher sized tea ball. The description clearly stated the size as 3 1/2 inches in diameter. One reviewer complained that it was too large and wouldn’t fit in his tea cup. On a “warehouse light”, made to be installed directly to a building’s wiring, several people gave it bad reviews because the wire didn’t have a plug on the end of it to plug it into a wall outlet.

Product reviews – another source of endless entertainment on the Internet.

Shut up and let me eat!

I am getting really f’ing tired of food paranoia. Absolutely everything, except a few roots, leaves and seeds from the forest primeval, is bad for you.

The preachiness and the food police type attitudes are bad enough but what I really hate is how this stuff gets into my head. I resolve to ignore it all and just eat sensibly but then I go to buy groceries and I can’t keep from thinking about the latest set of “rules” we’re supposed to follow and I feel like there’s nothing I can buy that’s safe. So I just buy what I always buy and worry that I’m bringing poison home to feed to my family.

I alternate between, “The advice will change again next month so just ignore it,” and “There must be something to this; they can’t be completely making it up.” The people who put this stuff out there think they’re doing a good thing. They’re being helpful. (Sometimes I think that the crusader types don’t actually want to help; they just like the feeling that they are being helpful.) But, damn… it seems like no matter what you do it will never be good enough.

I used to imagine myself having a vegetable garden and growing maybe 50 to 70 percent of what we eat but I run into some problems with that. One, I don’t have a green thumb. Two, we don’t have soil; we have rocks. Three, we have a lot of veggie munching wildlife. Four, the annual drought. Five, my family doesn’t like most vegetables. All of those, except for the last one, (and possibly the first one) could be overcome with a lot of work, and truly I have nothing better to do, but I would still have to go to the grocery store every week and buy a lot of Really Bad Stuff. We might be able to live on nothing but beans and tomatoes (if I could even get those things to grow) but my guys would rebel and go to Pizza Hut.

I know I could just not read those stupid articles but it’s everywhere. I see the headlines whether I want to or not. I hear about it on the evening news. Packages of pasta shout in bold lettering about omega-3′s and fiber. People repeat what has been preached at them, spreading the food gospel in the checkout line. You can’t get away from it. I don’t know about you folks but since I can’t win anyway I’m going to have another chili dog. See you at the hospital.

Remembering

Imagine that you are 11 years old and seeing this as it is happening. Imagine what visions of the future you might have. Of colonies on the moon and spaceships visiting more distant worlds.

Neil Armstrong could have been the greatest celebrity ever, bigger than the biggest superstars. But he chose to simply fade back into ordinary life, as real heroes always do.

Greater Lengths

My mother, 1954

When I was a small child in the 60′s grown-up women’s dress length was below the knee and little girls’ dress length was just above the knee. At least that’s the way it was in my mother’s world. I thought the longer skirts were beautiful and wanted dresses like that for myself. Usually my mother would give in to my trivial whims but on the matter of hemlines she would not budge an inch.

Before I was considered old enough to wear longer dresses styles changed. Mini-skirts came along in the 60′s and by the early ’70′s, when I entered junior high school, they were firmly established and it was possible for girls to wear them to school without getting sent home. At that time it didn’t occur to me that this was an area in which I could rebel. Skirt lengths were what they were. And besides, at the time I didn’t care all that much anymore. I was soon to be a teenager and had other concerns. Perhaps even more significant, around that same time girls were finally allowed to wear pants to school so most girls, myself included, wore pants more often than dresses.

One day, I forget the year but 74 seems about right, I was in the high school library with several other girls. We were looking at the latest issue of Seventeen magazine. In it, to our surprise, we came to a picture of models our age wearing skirts with hems below the knee, with the prediction that this was what everyone would be wearing next season. There was shock and outrage. All the girls declared that they would never wear anything like that. But I secretly liked them, but based on the reactions of my classmates, I was not very hopeful that this fashion prediction would come true. Of course, within the year all the girls, even those who swore they would never wear them, had to have the new length skirts. We still all wore pants most of the time though.

I have no idea what happened to hemlines among the fashionable women after I graduated from high school. I stopped paying attention. I continued to wear pants almost all the time. I think there were entire years when I never put on a dress. The few dresses I wore were mostly the same length as the ones I wore during my last two years of high school.

In just the last two or three years I have rediscovered the joy of dresses. They are actually more comfortable. The waistband on pants always bothers me. And dresses are prettier. I’m a girl! I like pretty.

My dresses now are mid-calf length or longer. There are practical reasons for that. My legs look like the bellies of two dead fish. Aside from the self-consciousness about ugly legs issue, the length just feels right. It’s convenient too because most of the patterns I buy are already the length I want and only need a narrow, half-inch, more or less, hem so there’s no need for a lot of tedious measuring. But even if it were not for these very real reasons I would still wear my dresses this length. Because I am still that little girl who always wanted to wear longer dresses.

Quotes From Here and There

These days you don’t hear many people say, “The devil made me do it.” More likely they’ll blame their amygdala.here

The first true blue rose can only happen once, but there will always be a next great smart phone, or laptop, or tablet, or whatever.there

Today, more than ever before, we need politicians who are educated about science and technology. At the very least our economic future depends on science! Yet we have people on the Science Committee who are devoted to actively destroying it.here

The title of the painting, like, say, the title “Symphony No. 5″, neither contributes nor detracts from the transference of meaning. It merely gives an ordinal position in a series of presumably similar works.there

It Doesn’t Mean What I Think

What exactly is a hot mess? How does it differ from a cold mess or a plain old room temperature mess? If I cooked something that turned out awful I could see how that might be termed “a hot mess” but that’s not how this phrase is normally used.

What makes a pro tip a pro tip, as opposed to just a plain, ordinary tip. Most of the “pro tips” I come across don’t seem to be related to any particular profession nor are they professional in any way. But of course I’m just assuming that “pro” is short for professional. Maybe it’s short for progressive? Profound? Probable? Or maybe just pro, as opposed to con?

I know, right? You have expressed your agreement with something by saying, “I know,” then immediately request agreement with your agreement by asking, “right?” This is something the kids say so it’s pointless to waste much time ridiculing it. Every generation has its own set of nonsense phrases. But if you’re over 18 you really need to quit saying this.

And speaking of stuff the kids say – sweet. Your new video game (for example) is “sweet”. Really? If I take a bite out of it is it going to taste like a cookie or candy? Do they make a chocolate video game?

I assume that “Talk to the hand” is from some movie that I’ve never seen and that it would make more sense to me (possibly even be funny, though I doubt it) if I had seen it. I’ve never had anyone use this on me which is a very good thing because I think I would be tempted to break all the bones in the hand. Fortunately this seems to have become obsolete but I still hear it on TV once in a while.

Git ‘er done. I don’t care who this woman is (‘er = her) that you speak of but I really don’t want to hear about you “doing” her.

Why wouldn’t you want to compare apples and oranges? Sure they’re different but they’re both fruits, not entirely different kinds of things, so if the two things you’re comparing are “like apples and oranges” they must be at least somewhat alike. Which means that comparing Republicans and Democrats really is like comparing apples and oranges.

How exactly are you going to catch some rays? In a jar? Or do you have a ray trap? And what about catch some zzzz’s? How would you go about catching them and where does one find them anyhow? I’ve never seen any zzzz’s just flying about.

I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones. Please ridicule any catchphrases you love to hate. (Not that I hate all of these. Most of them I just find funny or odd.)

This ‘n’ That

I want this silly thing. It’s so bright and… uh… sunny. And I am such a child sometimes.

Seriously, What the hell? My apologies to any time travelers out there who might be under the mistaken impression that “hell” is still a really bad or “inappropriate” word but I really can’t wrap my brain around that way of thinking. Even if you do think that “hell” is a Really Bad Word and feel that it’s really important you have to understand that many people don’t even realize it’s all that bad and so you should cut normal, 21st century people a little slack. (via)

Oooo! These bird species lithographs are gorgeous. I love old-fashioned nature illustrations. The botanicals are my favorites but bird and insect illustrations are lovely too.

College mascot Pop-Tarts. If I saw the Razorback Pop Tarts in the store I’d probably buy them impulsively though I almost never buy Pop Tarts anymore. I find them strangely tempting when I see them in the store but they’re really not very good. They’re like glorified cheap cookies – almost 200 calories each and almost no nutrition, okay tasting but not really great, and, just like cookies, it’s really hard to eat just one.

A rather odd way of making pancakes. I might try the caramel banana sauce sometime.

I notice that they have re-designed all the Cheezburger sites and they no longer have embed codes, though they do still have a Share on Facebook button. Well, screw Facebook! This is discrimination against us independent folks. Anyway… this would be your cute picture of the day if it was still possible to embed.

Dressing

This is my grandmother. I don’t know what year (or even what decade) it was taken. Like many of the old photos I have, it was taken from too far away and the detail is poor.

Old photo of my grandmother

My grandmother wore slacks only once that I know of. She just tried them on to show everyone and then changed back into her dress. I was not there for the momentous occasion and I don’t think anyone even took a picture. One of my aunts told me about it later. I was bitterly disappointed and complained to my grandmother about not getting to see her in pants. She said she would put some on again sometime but she never did.

I have been wearing mostly dresses for the past couple of months, enough that now when I put on a pair of slacks they feel a little strange and wrong for the the first fifteen minutes or so and I think how strange pants must have felt to my grandmother, who never wore them.

I like dresses but I feel a little freer in pants because it seems to me that there are things you can’t or shouldn’t do in a dress. One of those things is sitting on the ground and yet, in this picture my grandmother is sitting on the ground in a dress and I’ve seen other pictures of women, including one of my mother in a lovely circle skirt, sitting on the ground while wearing dresses. Women used to do everything in dresses. They didn’t put on pants to garden or scrub the floor.

It’s sort of funny how what seems normal and right changes through the years and how strong are those feelings of “normal” and “right” – as if what’s normal now always was and always will be normal.

One More Summer Thing

I think there must be a law – like a Murphy’s Law type thing – that says if you say on the Internet that you will not do something, you will do it within a very short time. Not quite two weeks ago I said that the orange batik dress would be the last summer thing I make this year. Well, this past Thursday I made this:

Pink Knit Tunic

Here’s the back. (I know. Probably not a side of me anyone wants to see.)

Pink Knit Tunic Back

The pattern is Vogue 8792. I bought it a few weeks ago because I thought it looked interesting and that I would find a nice striped knit sooner or later. Then last week it hit me that I had these two small leftover pieces of knit fabric that might do. The short sleeve version only requires 5/8 yard each of two different fabrics. (for size 14)

There are just two odd shaped pattern pieces, plus the neck band. It looked confusing at first but it was actually not difficult and it went together fast. I am happy with it and I hope to make more like this, in stripes and maybe contrasting solids.

Hopes Dashed

Saturday I knew it was going to rain. The sky was filled with dark clouds and when I checked the weather the radar showed lots of yellow, orange and red jagged splotches moving from northwest to southeast. They were coming right at us! I was so excited. I thought they were maybe an hour or two away. I kept checking the progress of the wonderful storms every fifteen or twenty minutes. But as they reached our area the north edges of the storms dissipated a bit as they slid to the south of us. We only a got a few scattered drops – the kind that leave a few tiny, widely separated dots in the dust. Damn!

Quotes From Here and There

Imagine my surprise when I realized men don’t walk around in three-piece suits any longer, but may show up to lunch in white undershirts. I’ve never quite recovered from the shock.here (That’s from back in January but I just now discovered it thanks to Idle Fancy)

Even surrealists have to pay the bills now and then… there

A Line Worth Stealing

In the comments Soubriequet wrote:

My mother who made her own wedding dress out of illicitly obtained parachute-silk used to say ‘labels are for people who don’t know how to judge worth for themselves.”

“‘Labels are for people who don’t know how to judge worth for themselves.” I am going to use that if I ever get the opportunity! It’s not very likely though. I don’t personally know any label-conscious people and here in small town backwoods Oklahoma I’m not likely to ever run into any.

Scary Germs or Scarier Chemicals?

I keep saying this. The silly germaphobes with their anti-bacterial everything are going to kill us all. They’re breeding superbugs that will be resistant to all our efforts to wipe them out (the superbugs that is, not the germaphobes) and at the same time they are breeding children that have less resistance due to being raised in super clean environments.

But now scientists have discovered another way that germ-phobia can hurt us. A chemical in anti-bacterial soaps can impair muscle function.

Listen people; I’m not saying we need to all live like pigs but just plain, ordinary soap is not only good enough, it’s better for us. The problem is, it’s hard to find just plain, ordinary soap anymore. Everything is antibacterial.

A Brief, Politically Incorrect Rant

I know this may piss off the pathologically PC (I can only hope) so I apologize to those who come here for the peace and quiet but I must say this. A sentence I would very much like to never have to hear or read again is, “You wouldn’t ask a man that question.”

News flash: men and women are different. Always will be. Get over it. Yes, women are just as capable as men of performing well in positions of power and responsibility. Women are also just as capable as men of being wiseass jerks. You want to talk about equality? There it is. You can’t own the positive without also owning the negative.

And you know something else? You never hear a man say, “You wouldn’t ask a woman that question.” I’ve heard interviewers ask the President about sports. I’ve never heard him respond, “You wouldn’t ask a woman that question.” You want to be treated the same as a man in your position would be, then don’t act like such a “typical woman.” Be professional.

I’m not saying you should necessarily answer every question. Reporters are notorious for asking inappropriate, irrelevant and just plain lame questions but people are interested in the personal lives of our leaders and since men and women are different that means different questions for men and women. If you don’t feel that it’s an appropriate time for a particular question the better response would be to say, “I would rather talk about the issues,” or “I would rather talk about [a specific issue]“. That’s how a man – or a truly professional woman – would handle the situation.

I keep on findin’ ‘em

A year ago I only knew of one or two sewing blogs but just in the last couple of months I’ve been finding a few more almost every week. This morning, via my comments, I find Shelley, of Cuckoo Chanel. I absolutely love her header design. You know I have a thing for paisley and for bright colors. Shelley writes about sewing and posts lots of pictures.

And I notice she has a long blogroll and many of those blogs, judging by the names, are sewing blogs too. I will be checking them out.

Do or Do Not (Or Don’t)

The season finale of the A&E series Longmire aired this week. cable/satellite seasons are so short and it’s such a long time between seasons. Maybe half a dozen episodes, ending with a spectacular cliff-hanger and then you have to wait ten months to find out what happens, by which time you likely won’t even care anymore. I don’t know about you but by the time the show returns I will have forgotten the Big Cliffhanger, just like I have no idea what happened on the last episode of Haven, a soon to return series on SyFy.

But anyway, I do like Longmire. It has the overall feel of being something different even though it has all the familiar old clichés. In particular, the portrayal of modern day Native Americans is straight out of a 60′s western. But there’s one that I didn’t even notice until the last two episodes: Longmire’s friend and adviser, Native American bartender Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) does not use contractions. Of course everyone knows that if you’re a TV or movie writer and you want to make sure viewers understand that a character is wise, especially if that character is native, foreign, alien or an android, you write his/her dialog without contractions.

I have to admit that, though I know it’s silly and unrealistic, I do like listening to the no contractions style of speaking. It sounds elegant, and yes, wise. Perhaps I should start speaking without using contractions. That and start using the world “perhaps” a lot. Perhaps then people would realize that I am wise. Or perhaps they would just think I am eccentric or silly. Which would be okay too.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that the most plausible explanation of why Star Trek‘s Lt. Cmdr. Data cannot use contractions is that Dr. Soong made him that way on purpose so he would seem both wise and naive. It would be just like Soong to do something like that and not tell anyone.

But What’s Really Important is the Hair

A little over a week ago I started seeing advertisements, on whatever cable/satellite channel we were watching, for standup comedian W. Kamau Bell. Well, we had never heard of Bell before but the bits they were playing in the commercial looked funny so we set the machine to record his show. We watched it yesterday. I will definitely watch his show again, and all his stuff on YouTube.

I particularly liked his response to the criticism of Gabby Douglas’ hair.

Okay, I’m not going to get into the whole black women’s hair thing because I don’t know anything about the thing but, seriously? People are worried about/offended by her hair? Not that they think it’s more important than winning a gold medal in the Olympics – I hope they don’t think that – but just that they think it’s worth mentioning at all. At least give it a little time. When she starts doing product endorsements and talk shows then maybe you can start talking about her hair if you have nothing better to do with your lives, which, obviously, you don’t.

Oh, and by the way, how would you feel if you tweeted something stupid and then saw that a comedian had used it in his act? I’m really hoping those tweeters saw this show. That would be beautiful.

Quotes From Here and There

And I can promise you that NASA has done more for each of you, directly, than a banker ever has or will.here

The cost of this relentless drive to perform at unrealistically high levels is a generation of kids who resemble nothing so much as trauma victimsthere

Why should I vote two of my values to the exclusion of all others?here (BRAVO! This is from October 2008 but I just first saw it this week and much of it, especially this particular line, is still valid.)

“This is not okay. This is not even close to okay. This is not even a trailer in the wilderness on the outskirts of the county of okay. This is somewhere between falling into the laundry pile in your fifteen-year-old daughter’s bedroom and the public speaking component of a VH1 reality show about alcoholic motorcycle cougars with social anxiety disorder.”there (Eh. I wouldn’t wear it but it’s not all that bad. But perhaps I’m just used to it because I shop at Walmart every week and see that sort of thing all the time.)