Monday, September 30, 2013

Some happy thoughts

As we hurtle to a government shut-down, I feel the need to point out some happy things.

Los Angeles will experience another Ciclavia this Sunday, October 6.  Come bicycle or walk around downtown LA without cars.

Tanaka Farms is hosting their annual Fall CSA day for CSA subscribers on Saturday October 5.  Subscribe and you and your family can join the Tanaka family to celebrate the fall harvest.

The Affordable Care Act will go into effect tomorrow.  Read what the available evidence really says in Obamacare, the Oregon Experiment, and Medicaid at Science-Based Medicine.
Medicaid coverage decreased the probability of a positive screening for depression (−9.15 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, −16.70 to −1.60; P = 0.02), increased the use of many preventive services, and nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.
I've been swamped performing family work, recovering from family work, and applying for market (paying) work.  But, I hope to write something tomorrow about the connection between Cinderelmo and geomagnetism/geophysics.  It's something I doubt you'll ever read in the main-stream media (MSM) to cover, but I hope you will find it informative and uplifting.

Monday, September 23, 2013

After the rain

The air is sooooo clear.

We drove over water to get to grandma's house.

Just kidding.  The new Bay Bridge span is so new, my GPS doesn't know about it.

I was born on an alluvial plain by the sea and I spent the bulk of my childhood on another low-lying island (in the SF Bay).  Neap tides each year build community spirit as people fill sandbags together on the levee.  I take sea level rise personally.

Rather than making grandma cook, we let Cooking Papa do it instead.  (Photo taken while waiting for a table.)  And, yeah, I am grateful to have lived in some pretty nice places.

Unfortunately, we did not see either Bay Bridge troll.

We did see Richard Diebenkorn and Bulgari at the De Young.  We highly recommend both.  More later.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some Boulder Flooding Links

Bad Dad and Meta Megan asked what I am posting about the Boulder floods.  I just don't feel very good about being right in What nesting articles don't tell you because some of the people affected by the floods didn't act irresponsibly.  That is, they took reasonable precautions based on past experience but the environment changed about them.

Both climate change and development around them changed  the distribution of rainfall and how much the ground absorbs (or doesn't absorb).  It's hard to make rational and economically-viable plans when so much that is out of your control is changing.

Ironically, the City of Boulder Flood Hazard Map was updated in 2013 to reflect changes in modeling and the built environment.  The results were submitted to FEMA in September 2013.
As a result of the proposed floodplain boundary changes, 106 buildings would no longer be affected by the 100-year floodplain, 76 buildings would be newly affected, and 565 buildings would remain in the floodplain. As the data is refined and public input is received, these numbers may change slightly, but the general trends will remain the same. Changes to the floodplain maps can affect flood insurance requirements.
The last week or so have been the ultimate model validation experiment.  As a modeler, I should be excited.  But I have no appetite for it right now.

Take a look at the soil in this slow-motion mudslide.  Boulder canyon, and its side canyons, also suffered from recent wildfires.  Not only was there no vegetation to hold the soil in place, but a blanket of ash prevented water from soaking into the ground.


Dr Rood mentioned the comparison with flooding in western Pakistan.  If you have gardened in Boulder, you will be familiar with clay soils.  That's also why the flooding in western Pakistan was so severe.  Due to AO, the Asian monsoon flow pattern has moved from areas with sandy soils that drain quickly to areas with clay soils that don't.  Unlike Boulder, the people in western Pakistan won't have insurance money (public or private) to rebuild.

Hermosa Beach's sister city of Loreto suffered the collapse of two bridges (including one major throughfare) in torrential rain this summer.

When I lived in Colorado, people who like to point out government incompetence often cited the statistic that Colorado spends more per mile on road maintenance than any other state.  I looked at the climate data and thought, of course.  Colorado used to be the only state where the daily average highs are above freezing while the daily average lows for 5-6 months of the year were below freezing.  Thus, Colorado infrastructure experiences more freeze and thaw cycles than those in any other state.

Who should pay for rebuilding and retro-fitting for climate change?  The people who live in harm's way?  Or the people who dumped the most carbon in the atmosphere?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ramen Smackdown!

I jest. It's not a competition a la the movie, Tampopo.  It's the Ramen Yokocho Fest, where 12 chefs from the US and Japan will serve their signature dishes for a mere $8 per bowl.

We were so bummed that we couldn't go last Saturday to sample the west coast debut of the Ramen Burger. That might have been a good thing because we read that 1000 people lined up (some 4 hours before opening) for a limited run of 500 Ramen Burgers. Fortunately, we'll have another chance this weekend.

This is what I love about the South Bay. It's home to the largest ethnic Japanese community in the world outside of Japan. You can name any ethnicity and we have a large community. We have access to the most amazing food.

There are 12 chefs. The festival runs from 10 AM to 8 PM on September 14 and 15.  That means we can get two meals in per day, multiply by 2 days and we can sample, at most, 4 each.  There are 7 out of town places we have to sample; we'll put a priority on the ones that are furthest.  So I guess we'll try the offerings from the chefs from Japan (2) , Hawaii and New York (the ramen burger!).  We'll have to pick up the Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Jose entrants on road trips.

If you click through to YouTube, foodies have been naming their favorite ramen joints that are NOT represented.  So that means more restaurants on our "must try" list.  I can identify with one commentator who wrote, "I cant wait! im not eating for a whole week prior to the fest!"

Monday, September 09, 2013

Travel Skirt Hidden Pocket Tutorial

Melissa's posts about sewing for her upcoming trip to Mexico reminded me that I never posted a tutorial about how I add interior pockets to my travel clothes.  Recently, she showed how she added an interior flip-up pocket to her orange skirt.  I used to do that, but I switched to this method.

This skirt is so voluminous, you can't see either the side seam pockets or the interior pockets.  But, believe me, it is virtually invisible even in a slimmer skirt.  Remember Butterick 3133, which I wore in practically all of my Tanzania trip pictures?

I put pockets on the inside, too.  It's embarrassingly easy.
  1. A normal side-seam pocket will have 2 pocket pieces.  Typically, I use a lightweight material for the other pocket piece (the one you can't see).  It reduces bulk without sacrificing sturdiness.
  2.  Just (partially) back the inner pocket piece with the same lightweight shirting.  
  3. Turn down the top of the shirting twice to make it stable enough to make a buttonhole. 
  4. Edgestitch near the fold.
  5. Make a buttonhole near the middle of the top edge.
  6.  Check the buttonhole alignment and iron a square of interfacing to the inner pocket piece before you sew on a button. 
  7.  Baste the two layers together and treat them as one while you sew the pocket as normal.
In a paneled skirt like Melissa's, you could easily add this style of interior pocket, securing it at the waistband, side and front panel seams. No telltale stitching lines indicating an interior pocket will be visible from the outside.

I've ordered a bunch of Saf-T-Pockets patterns.  Although I haven't sewn any of them, I read all the instructions.  The money was well spent because the patterns have ingenious ideas of how to hide pockets in all sorts of places.

If you have sewn  Saf-T-Pockets designs, can you comment about your experience?  Which one should I try first?

Friday, September 06, 2013

It's a girl! Maybe

I'm a sucker for Panda Cams, especially ones involving baby pandas.

But this statement by Brandie Smith, the National Zoo’s senior curator of mammals and giant pandas, raised alarm bells in my mind.
“Females have two X chromosomes,” Smith said. “Males have an X and a Y chromosome. So we actually look at the chromosomes. It wasn’t physical identification of gender. There is room for error with that.”

“If you look at the chromosomes, there’s no mistake,” she said. “So that’s the way to go. Go to the cellular level.”
If pandas are anything like humans, there is room for error with both methods.

Does anyone else remember the brouhaha during the Olympics about gender checks? At first, athletes dropped their pant(ies) in front of physicians. That was considered too demeaning so they switched to chromosome tests. That led to much drama and pain as athletes who were raised as girls suddenly discovered that they had XY chromosomes.

I read in the Olympic coverage at the time that the XY chromosome test fails in approximately a in 500 people. Gene expression is highly comples. Sometimes, if the Y chromosome is damaged, the X can compensate. So people who have XY chromosomes can present outwardly as females. 

Apparently,  XY females retain some Y chromosomal athletic advantages; they are over-represented among elite female athletes.  One physician said that, at every Olympics, several women discover that they are XY.  Not only do are they disqualified from competition, but they face gender identity crises at  a highly public and stressful time.

As a humane gesture, the Olympics switched back to the visual checks.

I did a bunch of searching among the internets and found Erroneous Gender Identification by the Amelogenin Sex Test. Pay attention to the paragraphs at the end:
The occurrence of this phenomenon has been reported as an 0.018% observed sex test failure rate in the Austrian National DNA database (9), 1.85% observed sex test failure rate in Indian males (10), 0.6% frequency of sex test failure attributable to deletion from 350 specimens from all around the world (11), and 8% (2 out of 24) samples of unrelated Sri Lankan males (11).

With the finding of our first mistyped amelogenin result on a male out of a total of 96 samples, we can report the failure rate of this test as 1.04% in Israel. Moreover, the failure of two different primer sets, to amplify the Y chromosome DNA, suggests that this sample contains a deletion in the relevant area.
The bibliography gives details of the earlier studies.  The Austrian National DNA database study, published in 2002 (about the time I read about the change in Olympic rules), matches the 1 in 500 failure rate.  However, it looks like the number could be as high as 1 in 50!

Anyway, no test is perfect.  And some things in life are just ambiguous.  Would I want to compete athletically against XY women?  No more than I want to compete against people who are bigger, stronger, faster, receive better coaching/training or put in more practice time than me.  But, you know what?  Isn't the spirit of amateur competition to put your best out there and let the better player win?

I know that panda is gonna be super-cute, regardless of gender.

National Zoo Panda cam link.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Camo Moment

We survived back to school shopping without killing each other.

When she wanted a camouflage print scarf, I balked. I know that camo is supposed to be a big trend this year, but I didn't think that camouflage is an appropriate fashion statement while we are at war in two different countries and on the brink of war with another one.

She insisted that she loved the scarf so we agreed she could purchase it with her own money.  On the way home, she made a valid point that camo can be used in other contexts, such as hunting or even in irony. I saw what she meant.  I envisioned another one of her purchases (that I didn't approve of at the time), paired with camo.

I went to SAS the next day on the off-chance that they had the appropriate fabric.  Score!  ~2.5 yards of cotton/lycra camo print for $3.50/pound.   I cut out a pair of Kwik Sew 3476 leggings (her 4th pair this year!).  I added 2" in length to accommodate her growth spurt at the beginning of summer.  I managed to cut out another pair of Kwik Sew 2666 shorts from the large scraps leftover at the sides after cutting out the leggings.

If you are a data geek, the legging pieces weighed 130 grams, the shorts 88 grams, small scraps 66 grams--an overall 86% cutting efficiency.  The remaining 1+ yards will be saved for another pair of leggings, either for her or one of her friends.

After laundering, I put the fabric on the cutting table and got to work. This is an extremely quick and unusual turnaround for me, but I decided to strike before the fashion winds blew away from camo or I strangled my teenager. (If you have a teenaged girl at home, you know what I mean.)  Both camo pieces, as well as the black KS 2666 shorts have seen heavy wear as soon as they left the sewing room.

The Arm the Animals shirt is growing on me.  In talking to the kids young entrepreneurs selling the shirts at the Hermosa Beach festival, I thought that they were a bunch of pretty hardworking and savvy animal rights activists.  Instead of breaking into labs, they are raising money to help save animals in a peaceful way.  I didn't like the shirts with the animals holding guns pointed at would-be hunters.  But brass knuckles are kinda funny.  Besides, would anyone pick on my kid when she is wearing this?

The shirts are made locally; they are sewn in Mexico, designed and screened in LA.  The cotton is very soft, not sheer, and the seams are well sewn.  After washing it all summer, I decided it was reasonably priced for the quality.  I'm still not going to buy her clothes that (even ironically) condone violence.  But, I don't feel upset about her buying and wearing it either.

According to my pattern spreadsheet, I've made her 11 pairs of pants and 5 pairs of shorts from KS 2666.  I cut out and sewed most of it in 1 hour the first evening.  I hemmed and put in the elastic in 30 more minutes the next night.  Luckily, the serger was already threaded in black.  I plan to sew some black pieces for myself soon, if this monsoonal flow (hot, humid) weather ever lets up.

I like quick, well-engineered patterns for casual day clothes.  They give a lot of bang for my sewing time.  How about you?  Do you think about (time) cost per wear when sewing?  Do you track your cutting efficiency?  Kathleen says I am an Aspie in denial.  I say that I am just data-driven.