Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Book Week 2015

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and to hold intimate converse with men of unseen generationssuch is a pleasure beyond compare."
                                      -Yoshida Kenko, Tsurezuregusa

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Banned Book Week 2015

"Think as I think," said a man,
"Or you are abominably wicked;
"You are a toad."
And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."
                         -Stephen Crane

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Mad Person-Who-Stitches: Link

Legend of Zelda's protagonist Link is easy for an aerialist: shirt, pants, tunic, belt and baldric (I bought these last, as I don't have leatherworking tools), and drop the boots, weapons, and armor.  Not that I would mind having a chain mail shirt (I think), but even if I wanted to add that much weight to what I'm swinging through the air, my aerial partner told me in no uncertain terms that she did not.  I can't blame her: I would say the same thing if I were the base instead of the flier.

What I Did:
  • shirt: I used a close-fitting princess-line jacket pattern and cut the center front as one piece.  I meant to put gussets in the armpits, but I forgot.  But it works okay anyway, not too much bunching at the shoulders when I have my arms over my head.  I made the sleeves lace-up as well (scroll down for a picture).  Putting in that many eyelets was tedious, but I love the final effect.
  • tunic: I used a loose-fitting shirt pattern, again cutting the front as one piece.  I faked the slit-and-laced-sleeves, mostly because I was getting tired of eyelets.  I kept the side slits, but did lacing all the way down.  The pictures of Link seem to indicate the side seams might be half sewn and half laced, but that wouldn't make much sense for actually wearing.  None of the pictures I could find of Link show exactly what the underarm seaming is, so I compromised by leaving the armpit seams open, but stitching the sleeve ends closed so the sleeves won't flap around.  More eyelets and lacing (I used double-fold bias tape stitched shut) for the neckline decoration.
  • pants: I took apart an old pair of pants that fit me (about 3 hours of ripping seams) to use as a pattern.  Once you have a pattern that fits you, pants are easy.  I did not add pockets or belt
    loops, which cut down the work even further.  Contrary to sewing rumors I've heard, the pants zipper was easy to figure out and put in, just by studying the existing pair I took apart.

How It Worked:  The shirt is a little looser than I wanted, the tunic is a little shorter than I wanted, and I had to restitch the bottom 10 inches of the pants to make them taper enough not to flap when I do upside-down work.  Also I made the buttonhole for the pants almost too small.  Eyelets are a pain, but worth the effect.  I really love the hunter green of the tunic against the white shirt.

Things I Might Do Differently If I Make This Again: Try gussets in the shirt underarms.  The stretch cotton I used for the shirt is thicker than a plain cotton, and doesn't breath well; I would prefer good kona cotton, the same as the tunic, instead.  I'd like the tunic just a little longer.  The tunic side eyelets need facing or tear-away stabilizer or a deep hem, one layer of fabric is not enough (I may redo this after AWA 2015, but not right now).  Adjust the pants pattern for perfect fit to start with.  Beg, borrow, buy, or make a hole-punch sort of thing for cutting eyelet holes so I'm not endangering my fingers with an x-acto knife and embroidery scissors.

Caturday Post: Brothers

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Mad Person-Who-Stitches: Triumph!

I spent the summer angst-ing mightily over our costumes for a Legend of Zelda aerial routine.  The angst was well spent: I am very happy with how things turned out.  I'm going to start out with my last project: Princess Zelda's Twilight Princess apron (? if there's more apt term historical term for this piece of clothing, please let me know).
My Princess Zelda (Elisheba) will look amazing parading on stage wearing this!
For comparison:

What I did: I sketched the pattern freehand onto graph paper, then traced it onto some medium weight white cotton fabric from my fabric stash with a temporary fabric marker.  (The apron is actually two pieces of fabric, as hemming a single piece of fabric with sharp corners can be more trouble than it's worth.)  Then I colored it in with fabric markers.  I might have had more interest in coloring as a child had I had this sort of project!  I used Marvy Uchida markers, and they performed to the reviews as having no bleeding at the edges of the line, and (almost) odorless. 

How it Worked: amazingly well!

Things I Might Do Differently Next Time: Use a more lighter, more finely woven cotton for the front of the apron, with a heavier weave in back to make it hang properly.  The twill weave I used has a definite grain that the marker shows on close inspection.  More careful color selection: finding the right colors of markers was a pain.  Maybe experiment with liquid paints, if I can find fabric paints that won't dry stiff and prone to cracking. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Consideration for Workers

Today all of the workers at my company were required to attend an 8 hour seminar on six sigma principles and other management buzzwords like empowerment. I learned the only consideration for a company is making money, nothing I do adds value (I'm a sysadmin.) At one point, I asked where worker environment and quality of life fit into the presented paradigms and was told there was no consideration for such things anywhere.

I'm a tool and a corporate drone.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Non-Exhaustive List of Things which will Turn Ladies into Whores

  1. Tea
  2. birth control
  3. the HPV vaccine
  4. rights
  5. jazz-though to be fair, the depravity caused by jazz applied both to men and women, apparently
  6. getting mail
  7. riding bicycles
  8. riding buses at night
  9. driving
  10. talking on the phone
  11. not wearing a head covering
  12. cosmetics and jewelry
  13. reading novels (or anything overstimulating)
The virtuous lady will not go anywhere, speak to anyone, entertain herself, or long for anything that could be mistaken for a human right, particularly any sort of healthcare that affects her lady bits. 

Caturday Post: Tamerlane Investigates a Box

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Fabulosity: The Way Things Should Happen

This comic made me happy: (this one is totally G-rated, no worries)

This is the way AI should happen.  Here's the full text:

UN hearing on AI Rights

Replace "AI" with "African Americans" or "women" or "transgender" or "non-heterosexuals", and replace "we created them" with "we evolved together" and it works nearly as well, and, sadly, much more happily than historically ever happened or is happening. 

But I'd like to think that someday, we'll have evolved out the worst of our hatred, fear, ignorance, and lust for authority over others, and we'll do better.  And we will share the world peaceably with the other conscious beings that exist.  And we'll offer each other a glass of (celebratory beverage of choice) and invite everyone to join the party.  

I'd like to believe that we'll act in such a way that the comic could come true.   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Fabulosity: Rockin' 1000!

One thousand (!) musicians rockin' the heart and guts out of Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly"!  
These people are awesome! 

Things I Dreamt Not Of, But Desperately Need To Exist

Snape and Sephiroth facing off in a duel to the death in a cosplay crossover flashLARP!

Idea courtesy of the most excellent webcomic Questionable Content (do not read if you do not like comics with lots of talk of sex, alcohol, or weapons-grade sarcasm):

I'm reluctantly betting on Snape, since in the books he's mostly pretty smart.      

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bread and Rock'n'Roll!

I just spent my morning making three loaves of whole-wheat-rye-and-white-flour bread, two loaves of honey-wheat bread, and tarragon biscuits.  The last since I had the oven hot anyway, and biscuits are quick and tasty.  

While I deeply miss the Project Rock radio station (formerly 96.1 FM, now off-air), I finally got around to exploring, via the internet, the groups Icon for Hire and Amaranthe today.  So while mixing and kneading and washing mounds of bowls and measuring cups, I listened to frenetic rock with catchy pop overtones and lyrics ranging from angry to giddily happy and nonsensical.   I rather expect my bread to come out of the oven with corsets and mohawks, spouting arias about dead boys.*

Icon for Hire's album Scripted has my favorite from Project Rock days "Off With Her Head," but I think I like "Only a Memory" even more.  It goes right to the top of my angry, rebellious favorites, along with Skillet's "Awake and Alive," Within Temptation's "Stand My Ground," and (dare I mention it?) Bon Jovi's "It's My Life."  "Fall Apart" (bonus track for Scripted) also definitely makes top 10 of angry and rebellious favorites.  The whole album maintains the presto pace, and while on a first listening none of the music was unusual, everything held together for a very solid effect.

Amaranthe's eponymous album has a much more upbeat, pop flavor, although still on the fast side and still definitely rock, complete with growler/female lead vocal pair.  "Automatic" and "1,000,000 Light-Years" are delightfully catchy, to the extent of three back-to-back listenings.  No, "Automatic" doesn't actually make sense, but I don't require that of my music.    

If I have enough cooking initiative left, I will make a big pot of daal this afternoon.  But that may be a tomorrow project.  

*Inside joke for Nightwish fans.  Before anyone falls on their fainting couch, none of Nightwish's songs advocate killing children.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Requiescat in Pace: Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks is dead.

I owe him, through his many books, a great debt of doubt and curiosity and wonder.

I constantly marvel at his vivid observations, his wide reading, his zest for life, and his deep compassion and respect for his patients.  He met and worked with and wrote about many who lived (and live) in a reality so far removed from my experience that it might as well be another star system.

In a world of sermons and sunday school filled with assertions about how people think and feel, coupled with dismissive scorn for people not thinking or feeling in approved ways, the books of Oliver Sacks were a fact-based object lesson on the complexity of the world.  His example of people who perceived events happening in reverse order to how others perceived them made me acutely aware that our bodies are a fragile and unreliable instrument for judging reality, and our experiences of reality can vary widely from the experiences of those around us.

A few of the things that most touched me from a few of my favorite books:

From The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat: Our selves are not separate from our bodies.  We are inescapably beings who exist in time, and a true loss of memory, of the ability to make a continuous story through time, is the loss of ourselves.

From Awakenings: And yet how we organize and process time may not be, on the smaller levels, continuous, but quantized.  It is not turtles all the way down!
Photo by Dana HunterGet the awesome t-shirt and support her work!

From The Island of the Colorblind: The ancient and the ephemeral, cycads and Nan Madol.  Achromatopsia and evolution and Humboldt and phosphorescent seas.  The slaughter of entire cultures and ecosystems by imperialistic Christianity, U.S.A brand.  The hell the U.S.A. has made of some Pacific coral reef islands by testing nuclear weapons. 

From An Anthropologist on Mars: Seeing is not perceiving.  Love and beauty are not universally experienced. 

From Uncle Tungsten:  A lyrical recounting of history, both Sacks' own and slices of the history of modern science in Europe, with all its beauty and passion and chemical burns and mistakes and trying again.  The reason why I will always remember the chemical symbol for tungsten.