Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 for 5

It's been a busy few weeks.  Today, we wrapped up the Weather Research and Forecast Model 2016 Users' Workshop.  I just want to share with you the last slide of the last presentation of the day and week.

How often in the world of tech and STEM do you see an all-female leadership team?  The leaders all five of the Developmental Testbed Center's Focus Areas are female.

The DTC was founded to "serve as a bridge between research and operations to facilitate the activities of both halves of the NWP (Numerical Weather Prediction) Community in pursuit of their own objectives."

Meanwhile, I have made a little progress on the #shirtdresssewalong.  I finally decided on these two fabrics: the floral with the check as an accent for the collar, pocket and cuffs.

I'll use the Ralph Lauren pattern for the bodice and the OdlR pattern for the skirt.  I had previously made the RL in rayon challis, and didn't like the rectangular shape of the skirt.  The OdlR skirt is more flared and has a curved pocket opening that I prefer over side-seam ones.

I had hoped to get at least the bodice done before the June 30 deadline for the sewalong giveaway.  But, deadlines and hobbies don't mix for me.

I'll work on it this weekend while I wait for my family to join me in Boulder.  July in the Rockies is heavenly.

Is anyone else going to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival?

How about the Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Denver Art Museum?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Simplicity 2938 Take 7

I've tried Instagram and Twitter. They fill their niche.

But blogging is not dead, at least for me. I like to read blogs that share deep knowledge about subjects and give a peek into the lives of their writers.

It takes me more than 140 characters or a picture and a quick sentence to express some of my ideas. I also like that my ideas from 2005-present are all collected right here.  Some 2003-2006 ideas can also be found at my sister's blog.

ASIDE: When my sister watched me knit in December 2002, she asked me if I was interested in posting on her fiber arts blog.  I asked, "What's a blog?"

When I increasingly went off-topic (not about fiber arts), she told me I would be happier with my own blog and suggested Wordpress or Blogger.  I found the Blogger interface easier to learn (YMMV) and here we are in 2016.

META: I'm going to keep writing about whatever interests me and I think should be more broadly known.  That means, it's not all knitting and sewing.  I read environmental science news and journal articles and I'm going to write about how that translates into real life for people who aren't scientists.  Occasionally, I'll multi-task by connecting science, sociology and making stuff.

When I see bullshit, I'm just going to write about that, breathe, and then let the anger go.  I don't know if exposing bullshit does any good when so many people appear to be unswayed by facts or reason, but, pushing back makes me feel better.

Some sewing happened

Simplicity 2938

Pattern by Karen Z and endorsed by ASG (always good signs.)
When I searched for Simplicity 2938 on this blog and on my pattern spreadsheet, I discovered that this is the 7th version of this top that I have sewn.

Four versions, all sewn with recycled shirts.
I really like this pattern because the pattern pieces fit inside the usable bits of Bad Dad's shirts that are frayed at the collars, cuffs or seams, yet have perfectly good fabric in the interior.

Perfect for recycling shirts that are frayed at the collar/cuffs.
When I need a top, I pull a shirt from my refashioning bin and look for a coordinating center panel fabric from my scraps bin.  Rather than use facings, I piece bias strips from the sleeve of the shirt (if it has long sleeves) or from scrap fabric.  I omit the zipper as it pulls on over my head easily without it.

The only knit version.
I've only sewn one version that did not begin life as another shirt.  But, I bought this < 1yard remnant from SAS, which receives/sells truckloads of scraps from clothing manufacturers around SoCal.  I made the two-piece outfit below for a friend's daughter (as a going off to college present) from stuff that used to go to a landfill.  I paid SAS ~$6 for the two pieces and spent a day sewing it up.
The only one not sewn from a recycled shirt.  But the remnant was purchased by the pound from an odd jobber.
Textiles are not environmentally benign.  It takes huge amounts of water and pesticides to grow and process cotton.  Organic cotton is not the answer as seeds that are genetically modified to use less water can not earn the organic designation.

Natural dyes are also not the answer.  It takes about 13 acres to grow enough natural dyes to dye 1 acre of cotton.

Those rayon pants?  I used every last scrap of that remnant.  I can't bear to see rayon wasted after I chanced across a textbook on rayon manufacturing at Moe's used bookstore in Berkeley.  It was written for chemical engineers in industry and cost $200 *used* and in the 1980s.  However, it was 800 pages thick.  I managed to skim-read much of it on repeated visits to Moe's because I can't afford the $ or shelf space for that book.

I love the feel of rayon, but not the environmental impact of the irresponsibly made ones.  If the rayon was made in Germany, or has the Tencel trademark, it was made with an environmentally-friendly closed-loop process.  Enviro-guilt free.

Back to this top.

I over-dyed a green/white striped pinpoint oxford shirt with (cobalt? ultramarine?) blue Procion fiber reactive dye from Dharma Trading the same day I tried the snow-dye experiment.  You can see the shirt in the plastic shoebox in those photos.  The color is made up of different dye components, and they can separate, as they did here on the lower back.

Color separation happens.
When working with dyes that contain fuchsia, 'bursts' of fuchsia can happen unless you filter the dye through cheesecloth first. I don't bother and live with the results.

Star bursts of dye happen, if you don't filter your dye for undissolved dye particles.
I use very little water, scrunch the fabric, and let unevenness happen.  Just for fun, I put the bias binding on the outside instead of the inside.

I employed Grandma Sewing techniques, so the top can be worn inside out.  The contrast between the quilting cotton and the shirt is more muted on the reverse side.

The shoulder is a bit strange, because I attempted (and failed at) a square-shoulder adjustment.  I should have left it alone because the other 6 tops hang much better.
I bought some heather cotton jersey from The Fabric Store that pick up many the colors in the top.  I'm going to make an unstructured, open cardigan to match.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I got nothing

I'm heartbroken for the people in Britain who are about to live in a smaller world, and for the ideas of multi-culturalism and international cooperation.

I'm also worried about the future of the somewhat* United States.

Let's pause a minute to look at a pretty view.  Just don't breathe deeply because of the wildfire smoke.
The view on my bike commute.
Feel any better?

Me, neither.

Wildfire season is starting earlier and lasting longer due to climate change.  Dealing with climate change is expensive, disruptive, and requires global cooperation.

Denying that it is happening is not changing the fundamental truth.  The laws of physics (and chemistry and biology) don't give a damn whether you believe them.  They are inexorable.

I'm fed up with the fact that low information voters get the same vote weight as people who seriously study the issues.  I'm fed up with dismissal of the expert opinions of people who spend year--decades--studying issues.

I'm even more fed up with laws like Proposition 13 in CA and TABOR in CO that allow a no vote on taxes and government spending to count twice as much as a yes vote.

We have to vote on every damn infrastructure project.  The people who vote against them are mostly older and won't be impacted by crumbling infrastructure.  Yet, the younger people paying for their social security and medicare don't get a say in the services and money given to seniors because that's an untouchable "entitlement."

I'm sick of generational warfare and the old eating the young.

Did you notice that a major plank of the leave campaign on #Brexit was the completely fictitious story that they would have a huge amount of extra money to spend on their National Health Service (which is mainly utilized by the old)?  How do you fight against such lies?

What happened in Britain is happening here.  What are you going to do to push back?

* Copied from Sarah Vowell's book title.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I left my heart in LA

I've written before about my melancholy when I leave LA to return to Boulder. The last trip was extended because of a family crisis. In between care-taking and medical appointments, Bad Dad and I managed to sneak in cultural breaks. 

For us, LA is all about the food, the culture and the beach. (I don't mean to discount rocket science even though that's what brought us to LA initially, but we're talking about the things that we love outside of work.)

It's nice to read that even the NY Times agrees with us:
No city in the country is more exciting than Los Angeles right now. Despite pop culture portrayals of Los Angeles as either comically superficial or darkly dystopian, the nation’s second largest metropolis is a vivid, soulful, eclectic city. It’s home to year-round blooms and captivating street murals, musical innovation and outsider art, deeply rooted communities and world-class food cooked by chefs from around the globe. The greatest challenge for visitors is not what to do, but which version of this vast city to embrace.

We went to LACMA to see Reigning Men and the Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective.
Look at that metallic embroidery.

Those short britches may require a bit of calf enhancement.
Cultural institutions of LA collaborate. For instance, LACMA and the Getty share a huge body of photography. The Getty Center is also showing Robert Mapplethorpe photographs as well as the work of some of his contemporaries and the collection of his first major collector/patron.

Getty Center hallway.
Meanwhile, the Japanese American National Museum is showing Making Waves: Japanese American Photographs 1920-1940. That show is incredible and not to be missed. Although most of the photographs made by these artists were lost or destroyed, what remains shows that, had they not been incarcerated (and racism), they would have been as famous as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

LACMA extends the argument further, with their own exhibition of Japanese Prints and Photographs: Paths Through Modernity.

I cannot stress this enough.  When you visit LA, skip the Tourist Traps and theme parks and head to the cultural institutions and the ethnic enclaves.  You will be met with friendly courtesy, fantastic food and insight into how diverse people and cultures live peacefully and cooperatively side by side.
Fried chicken, waffles and collard greens in Inglewood.
Downtown LA (DTLA) is hopping these days.  Stores are open (and busy!) on weekends.
The detailing on the old buildings is amazing.

Clifton's Cafeteria is open after their extensive remodel.  Prices and food quality are up.
The LA food scene uses traditional techniques with new ingredients and ideas.  For instance, dim sum places offer more and more vegetarian options.  Ocean Seafood will serve you seafood that looks back at you.  (Baby octopuses, anyone?)  But, even vegetarians can be challenged with tofu (stuffed with tofu instead of the traditional pork) that dares you to eat it.
Even the tofu dim sum at Ocean Seafood is served with faces intact.
When you come visit, pack for our mild and foggy summers.  You don't need a down jacket (that's San Francisco), but bring a light jacket for cool mornings and evenings.
June gloom extended all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains the day I left.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bicycling + Fashion

My main sewing goal for this summer is to sew more clothes that facilitate bicycling to work and around town. Reasons/excuses that keep me from biking include darkness, rain and not wanting to hassle with changing clothes.

Bike Night recap: Why bike fashion matters gives some fashionable ideas for bicycling-compatible fashion.  Click the link to see many more ideas made by students at Otis.

The skirt on this dress ties up for bicycling, and unties for length once you get to your destination.

This bicycle jersey and tutu outfit doesn't transform, but check out her smile and that bike!
I'm not sure about bicycling in a tutu.  Even wide-legged shorts catch on my bicycle saddle.  Perhaps she wears the tutu off the bike and the leggings sans tutu on the bike?

Hmm, wrinkle-resistant wrap skirts to go over my bike shorts that I can stuff in my pannier?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Lunching with the Time Lord

"When everything is working properly, and I'm doing my job, you don't know anything about it."

"I don't remember who made me the time lord; I think it is unfair to all my colleagues."

When I was in graduate school, I used to pack lunches and eat them in the JILA communal lunchroom.  Most days, I ate at the same time as Judah Levine and received many lessons about precision measurements*.

He's so humble, I didn't realize what a major figure he is.

Yes, he's dubbed our nation's time lord.  But, his influence goes far, far beyond that.
Levine soon discovered that many of the technologies he had developed for geophysics (such as computers and software for real-time data acquisition and control) were quite useful for atomic clocks and time transfer.

In the early 1980s, Levine began a project to distribute digital time signals using telephone lines and the Internet that started out small, but soon was growing rapidly. Today, after more than three decades of looking after the nation’s time, Levine has earned the titles of “Time Lord” and the “Nation’s Timekeeper.” As the nation’s timekeeper, his job is to keep and disseminate civilian time and frequency through a computer system that he developed and has maintained for nearly 20 years.
After I graduated, I worked in Weather and Navigation at LAAFB. When I told Judah my plans after graduation, he said that he used to consult there.

A *major* understatement.

The software techniques that he developed for recording precise times in different locations for measuring earthquakes? They became the basis for the software in Navstar and GPS as well as for delivering time over the internet and phone lines.

GPS satellites made GPS Radio Occultation possible, which allowed us to measure fronts in the stratosphere, which has drastically improved weather prediction.

Do you remember the days when synchronized traffic lights snarled traffic instead of helping it flow more smoothly? The temperature fluctuations experienced by traffic lights were too great for quartz clocks to run accurately.  Today, they run off time standards received from the radio station, WWVB.  "All time, all the time."

Pretty much every day, during some part of the day, I notice something that was touched by Judah and silently thank him.

"When everything is working properly, and I'm doing my job, you don't know anything about it."

My current boss says that our department provides infrastructure.  I recently gave a talk in which I used the phrase, "you don't notice us until something goes wrong."

Our work doesn't impact as many lives** as the Time Lord's, but think about all the things that your government provides for you, that you don't even have to think about.  Remember us on April 15th.

* When I wondered why my bathroom scale said I was lighter and my tape measure disagreed?  He explained how piezoelectric scales worked and broke down over time.

** Only ~15,000 people use our services directly, but their weather and climate predictions based upon data received from us impacts millions of people.