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May 16, 2009

Open thread 124
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:27 AM *

Given that John Scalzi is the Adam Savage of our community*, who is our Jamie Hyneman?

* Adam would totally have taped bacon to that cat.

Comments on Open thread 124:
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:05 AM:

Christmas time, misteltoe and wine...

Tastes disgusting, doesn't it.

#2 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:51 AM:

Most of the people who care have probably already seen this but...

Dollhouse renewed!

#3 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:55 AM:

I hadn't seen "Dollhouse renewed". Really? Woo-hoo! Everything I had seen said "probably not".

#4 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:01 AM:

"Dollhouse renewed!"

In the words of my people: w00t!

#5 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:58 AM:

The thing about Dollhouse, from a fannish perspective, is ... I saw a lot of people whose media tastes I trust panning it in the first several episodes, because it was [choose one: repetitive, shallow, unreflective, unchallenging, obvious]. After ep 5 or 6 (I forget precisely which, and can't be bothered to google a list right now), however -- when many Very Fannish People had given up on it -- it suddenly picked up and got a lot more [challenging, unobvious, feminist, disturbing, etc].

I'm pretty sure the network suits were just nervous that the Gossip Girl/90210 demographic Can't Handle subtler worldbuilding in-clueing than they let Joss get away with in eps 1-5ish. Similarly, the 'Previously On!' sections are, to fen, far too long and heavy-handed, but if you're coming in late to the series, they DO include all plot-relevant information for a given episode.

Which means for fen used to scrutinizing BSG/B5/Lost/etc for nuance, they telegraph what subplots an ep is going to cover from ninety miles away ...

I don't know if there's an acceptable compromise position, not hitting fen over the head with blunt hammers but still being newbie-friendly.

That said, the Dollhouse renew does show hopeful signs about the networks and their reliance on the Nielsens. Since only about 200K (I think?) families are hooked up with Nielsen boxes, that's a really, really small sample size for all of TV everywhere, especially now that more and more people, especially in the treasured 18-25 demographic, are watching TV time-delayed on DVRs or via internet connections (Hulu, network websites, and *cough* less legal options).

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:04 AM:

I like that photo of Jamie with the goggles. Makes him look like he should be on the cover of a Doc Savage-like pulp. As for who'd be his equivalent... I haven't heard enough of fandom's people speak to equate one of them with this guy who said in a flat voice "I'm getting all excited just looking at this."

#7 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:28 AM:


(Or are we done rot-13ing Dollhouse comment?)

As to the original question, given his thorough examination of the Betty & Barney Hill Abduction Story I know who I think is our best buster of myths. I don't know how Hynemanesque he is. Has he been known to enjoy blowing things up or building robots?

#8 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Given that John Scalzi is the Adam Savage of our community*, who is our Jamie Hyneman?

[rolls dice] Eyup... failed my "familiar with popular culture" roll again...

I can't be the only person that finds Walsingham a more familiar name than Savage...

#9 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:01 AM:

Paul @7: Jim is more personable and a better raconteur than Jamie appears to be. (Though I haven't met the Hyneman, so I suppose I could be wrong.)

#10 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:08 AM:

Never met him (or any of you people), but I always imagined Jim Macdonald Jamie-ish. I mean there's the safety obsession, the number of manly jobs in their respective pasts, the impressive beard... yeah. That's pretty much it. Also I guess they both like explosions, but that's just because EVERYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS LIKES EXPLOSIONS.

And yay for Dollhouse!

#11 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:12 AM:

Ahhhh! Mythbusters, okay!

[light dawns sluggishly, in a way suggesting of the borders of a black hole]

#12 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Oh, yes; Mcdonald = Hyneman even if there's no explosions.

#13 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:46 AM:

Whoops! That was missing an "a".

#14 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:16 AM:

Three cheers for Dollhouse!

Elliot Mason:

There out to be an equivalent of ROT13 for video, surely. Seriously, why not just tell people to go look at the program's official website? Everybody who watches that show must have a net connection (though admittedly you need a fast one to load those damn Flash frontends all the media companies insist on using). That might even break some of the linear/passive thinking that's the essence of traditional network television.

#15 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:22 AM:

Jim FTW. You left out obsessive interest in details.

#16 ::: Trevin Matlock ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:31 AM:

xeger at #8. Savage and Heyneman? Failed my roll as well. So did my wife. Walsingham got a woohoo! from her. (she has one of those cross time crushes)

#17 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:34 AM:

Daniel @ 10: I have met Jim Macdonald. Given his sense of humor I'd have to spot him on the Adam Savage side of spectrum. If I had to pick a person I know who could be our Jamie Hyneman, I would pick David Drake. He's more deadpan the way Hyneman is.

#18 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:47 AM:

I'll ask it here because people on Twitter/FB seemed to like it: why are there not fandom cruises?* You could have ST and SW on different floors with anime in between, a yaoi bar for women tired of being hit on, different gaming floors (console, PC, deadwood, LARP quests on the climbing wall), theme masquerades...depart from San Diego after ComicCon, and enjoy your purchases as you tour Mexico thereafter.

I like this idea if only because it increases the likelihood of an eventual "pirates vs. space pirate cosplayers" battle.

*I'm told there are in fact Trek cruises. I was thinking of a more catholic approach, though.

#19 ::: Sharon Mock ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:57 AM:

He may not be the right body type, but I'll vote for PNH as Jamie-alike.

#20 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:26 PM:

The main problem is cost. Not enough fen could afford a sea cruise to make such a cruise break even. Especially with today's economic situation.

Now I have this vision of some friends sardine canning a state room....

#21 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:29 PM:

I think a piece of why there aren't fandom cruises is simply that cruises are expensive, and a lot of fans would rather spend their vacation time and money either visiting places we find inherently interesting (whether that's Paris, a state park with camping, or an abandoned mine) or seeing friends. Not 1000 people semi-random, but a few friends at a time.

"Depart San Diego after ComicCon" means a lot of people are already going to be pretty fatigued, and not up for the gaming, masquerades, etc.

Also, any event that offers me "a yaoi bar for women who are tired of being hit on" is telling me that I should expect to be hit on, obnoxiously, during the other events and in the rest of the event spaces. That's not my idea of a good time.

A friend saying, politely, that they find me attractive, and would I like to go back to their room and [fill in the blank] is fine, though I'll probably say no; pushy strangers are not. The friend's approach isn't going to leave me feeling that I need to leave the room, much less that I need to take refuge among people I can count on not to be sexually attracted to me.

As a practical matter, how long does that work? How many people wanting to avoid pushy straight men can you put in one room and count on none of them being attracted to each other?

#22 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:30 PM:

According to the Beeb, the Fox execs were comparing Dollhouse to Firefly in terms of ratings (i.e. pretty bad), but also took into account that Firefly sold a shedload of DVDs and turned into a movie (that I recall actually made an okay profit), and apparently predict a similar trajectory for Dollhouse. This is encouraging news, as it seems to imply the ability for TV executives to learn from mistakes and associate past outcomes with future possibilities, activity previously only observed in mammals.

#23 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Now that I think about it. There _was_ a few SF-themed cruises back in the 70's. At least one went from New York to Florida to see an Apollo launch.

#24 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:36 PM:

SeanH @ 22:

So what you're saying is that they're going to cancel it at the end of next season, sell twice the number of DVD sets (one for each season), and have the possibility for a movie?

#25 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:40 PM:

I don't know Drake (which I count as something of a loss, but that's in part because we share a trade).

But yes, deadpan is a large part of the Hynamen image. More part of it is the sense of unflappable.

#26 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:41 PM:

Drat, Hyneman.

Just had breakfast with Michael Roberts. Very good time. I probably talked too much.

#27 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:42 PM:

SeanH @ 22: You're right. I guess TV execs qualify as invertebrates; at least some of them are spineless. :D

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:43 PM:

There is a weight of darkness in each heart
we have been told, a legacy of rage
product of history that we assuage
but cannot deny; our only sacred art
is to record it, and to find its start
on the first ship, upon the oldest page
of the driest book fallen from ancient age.
To sum it up, recall it, and impart
weighty words that make it simply matter.
Entomb all thought until it is past dead
and will not rise again within our time.
What is most needed is the force to shatter,
bring out the secrets held within each head
restoring this whole world to the sublime.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Terry Karney @ 25... One time when Jamie was quite flappable was when he put on a rocket backpack. Downright gleeful, like a kid on Christmas morning.

#30 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:14 PM:

This is in the news today:

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:23 PM:

I watch Dollhouse on DVR by preference, often in chasing-playback mode. Sometimes I deliberately wait 15 minutes after it starts to begin watching.

That means that I absolutely, positively don't count as a "viewer" in terms of what the network can sell to advertisers, because I skip all the ads, every time.

OTOH I will almost certainly buy the series on DVD, which makes me a market unit for direct profits.

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Has anyone else heard complaints about Eliza Dushku's acting ability? I just heard someone say that "many" complain of her, and that perhaps focusing less on Echo would be good for the series.

Personally I think she does an extraordinary job of playing a different role every week (at least). Or maybe I'm just a victim of fanfog and can't see it.

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:45 PM:

Re fannish cruises: In addition to the obvious problems already discussed, you're talking about a LOT of overhead cost. That money IMO could be much better spent on some combination of improving programming and lowering membership prices.

Terry (and Michael), #26: I don't know which of you I'm more envious of for meeting the other!

#34 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Fragano Legister at #30:
I think I also saw a story about a man from Spain who sued because they didn't include him in an affirmative action category designed to benefit Hispanics.

(If I recall correctly I read about it in a book Mike Davis wrote, and the people he wanted to be hired by were a California fire department.)

#35 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:34 PM:

If Jim McDonald is our Jamie Hyneman I want to see clearer evidence that he's regularly restraining himself from slapping Scalzi skilly.

#36 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:40 PM:

er, silly (sigh)

#37 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Madeline Ashby at #18:

Neil Rest had the same thought, about fannish cruises, and found himself chairman of a "Bermuda Triangle in '88" bid. From the invaluable fanzine Mimosa, Mike Resnick's account of its origin at the Los Angeles Worldcon in 1984:

That night I went out onto the lanai with John Guidry. After awhile we found a couple of empty chairs and sat down to visit with Neil Rest, who was busy fantasizing about making a Worldcon bid for a cruise ship. Before long he had attracted a hell of a crowd, and by daylight hundreds of people were urging him to make it a real bid. John walked away thinking if there was so little serious support for any Central Zone cities that people actually would support a cruise ship, maybe it was time to put together a New Orleans bid. So that evening saw the birth of two bids: Nolacon II, which won the 1988 Worldcon; and the Boat, which came in second in a field of four.

(Neil, if you know of links to more of this history, please chime in.)

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:08 PM:

Re: African American: I've read a couple of studies of racism which addrressed it. They tended to prefer the term, "Afro-American" as being more easily parted out from such background noise as white immigrants, N. Africans, etc..

And I think this guy is wrong.

#39 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Hey, thanks guys! It's neat to learn that the same's already been discussed/attempted in the past. I agree that overhead would be massive and evil, too. Plus I'm not sure how enjoyable it would be after a prolonged period -- the fatigue factor is considerable. But the Bermuda Triangle? That would have been awesome.

Dollhouse: Diminished focus on Echo would be nice. I want more about Boyd, Ballard, and Adelle. I also found myself more interested in the Sierra/Victor plotline, which is really saying something about the strength of the Echo plots.

#40 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:19 PM:

Xopher, my love for Eliza Dushku will never falter, but she's not the actor with the greatest range on that show. I don't think the solution is to focus less on her. I think it's to let her become what it looked like she would be in the last episode. (Leaving that comment non-spoilery now.)

Terry, from The Black List: "A 2008 study released by Radio One Inc., the study’s sponsor, and Yankelovich, the Chapel Hill-based research firm, sampled the views of 30 million of the nation’s black people, the largest-ever study of black America, and the results were surprising when it comes to how black folks want to be labeled. While 44 percent prefer to be called black, 42 percent opt for African American and the remaining percent claimed to have no preference."

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Will: I don't think the question is that cut and dried.

This is discussing terms of art.

I've known folks from other parts of Africa (Tunisia, South Africa, Lybia) who were bothered by the fact they couldn't really claim their heritage.

Black has problems because someone from Jamaica can be as black as someone from Kenya, and neither of them is precisely in the definitional equation of "people who were born in the United States and and had ancestors brought here to be slaves".

Which was the point the authors in those books (who were a mixed bag of blacks and whites) were trying to resolve, so they could address the various problems of all the groups which might fall into various metrics, if less designed terms were used.

Does it matter what a group wants to be called. Yes. But I don't see an overwhelming number opting for one or the other (Black or African American) and I do see confusions (and outright gamesmanship) arising from the terms we have now.

Me... I am lazy. My family (the part decended from people brought here to be slaves) says black, which tends to be my default.

But that's not what I was talking about. (I'm also curious about the "study", since that number [30 million] is really close to the US Census estimate of 36 million for the total population of ""Black persons" ( Unless they mean they did a survey which they claim is an accurate model of black americans' opinions).

#42 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Terry, agreed that it isn't cut and dried. I've been thinking about how "red" and "yellow" have fallen out of fashion as racial tags and wonder how long it'll be before "black" and "white" go.

I think the "white African American" should at least drop the "white" part. Lumping the three together puts a racial tag with what's either a racial or ethnic tag next to what's either an indicator of country or continent of birth or residence.

Huh. Which is to say, we know what we mean when we say it, but if we examine it, it makes no sense at all.

#43 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:39 PM:

I'm not touching the terminology question with a ten-foot Polish-American bodyguard.

Trying to wrap up what we can today, including giving my brother a last taste of time off. We'll be heading up to Portland tonight, probably lateish and tired. Still not sure about meet-ups - my wife is expecting we'll be exhausted by the time we check in - and Charlie Stross's blog seems to have imploded today, so no word on possible Stross appearances. Ah well.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:46 PM:

Fragano @ 30:

While I understand the emotions surrounding this issue, I'm damned if I can see how a court can do anything but pour gasoline on the fire. Bringing the issue into a public forum is a start; what's needed then is open discussion (which includes listening on all sides), not advocacy in an adversarial environment.

Xopher @ 32:

I've seen a few of those complaints; I think they're baseless. Dushku has shown an ability to handle a range of parts in Dollhouse; she may not have the range of an experienced character actor, but remember, she's not yet 30. I think she needs to work on facial control; but her physical acting in general is good, and she's got fairly good voice control. She just needs time to develop the skills.

#45 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Xopher @32: Everyone I know in real life who watches (or watched and abandoned) Dollhouse has criticized Eliza Dushku's acting ability. I've seen a lot of such comments online, as well. I'm not much of a fan either, I have to admit. Her performances in Dollhouse have had a kind of 'exercises in acting class' feel to them.

But then, I didn't like the show itself at all until the season finale, which may be coloring my opinion of the star.

#46 ::: Errol ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 05:58 PM:

why are there not fandom cruises?

There are gamer's (not gambler's) cruises. I know about them because I listen to the Fear the Boot podcast.

#47 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:32 PM:

That's extremely cool news about Dollhouse.

On another subject, a while back I posted the following on a forum which has a fairly high percentage of conservative followers.

Which of the following do you agree with?:

A) Generally speaking, our country has made progress in the last half-century, and our descendants can rely on that progress to continue

B) Generally speaking, our country has declined, and we and our descendants will not live as well as our parents and grandparents

Out of the seven or eight reponses I had, the conservatives agreed with B, and the liberals (or progressives) agreed with A.

Based upon this totally unscientific poll, it seems clear that conservatives are a dour, pessimistic bunch in general.

Now, it might have been due to sour grapes (needless to say, they don't think much of our president), but I do think that conservatism in general is characterized by a "we're doomed" state of mind. Even during the Bush administration, I never got the feeling that everything was going downhill.

Maybe I have the cart before the horse. Maybe it starts with the mental mood, and then we grab the political philosophy that fits it.

#48 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:34 PM:

will: When we use the terms black, afro-american, African American, the cultural consensus is we mean native born USians, who are descended from slaves.

It's not perfect, because there are people who will lump everyone who is dark enough (by their lights) into the category.

The guy from Mozambique (whom I inferr is European in ancestry, almost certainly; from his use of "portuguese" in his self-identification, as well as the "white" part), is playing fast and loose with that; and the assumptions made about how they are treated.

The people I was referring to, said they struggled with a good term. Black was a problem, because lots of people who suffer racism aren't dark. African-American was a problem, because there are immigrants from Africa.

Afro-American was chosen (for those works) because it let them keep a plain identification to point of origen, while keeping a localising distinction from those americans who were born in Africa.

On a side note... I'd really like to see the internals on that poll. How large the sample size (because I don't think they surveyed 30 million people, I think they are presenting it as what, "blacks" think). How many questions? What where they, and in what order (because that can shade answers).

Was it a multiple choice list? If so what were the choices. Looking at that response set, I'd bet the choices were, Black, African American, and no preference.

I wonder what the results would be if it were a longer list.

Bruce (StM): It depends on what/why he's doing this. What sort of discrimnation is he alleging? What was he doing with his claims of, "White African American". Because if he's trying to make a point about being an immigrant, it's one thing. If he's trying to say something about blacks being somehow preferred; or alleging some "PC Conspiracy" to keep him down because he somehow challenged the "status quo", I don't have any sympathy.

#49 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:55 PM:

Terry @ 48:

Because if he's trying to make a point about being an immigrant, it's one thing. If he's trying to say something about blacks being somehow preferred; or alleging some "PC Conspiracy" to keep him down because he somehow challenged the "status quo", I don't have any sympathy.

I agree with the latter; I was working at UC Davis Med School in the early '70s when Bakke filed that "reverse racial discrimination" law suit. It was fairly bogus; he claimed that the school's affirmative action policies kept him from being admitted and was thus discrimination. In fact, IIRC, his academic record was less than stellar, and he really wasn't qualified.

If he's making a point about immigrants I agree that there's an issue to be addressed; I'm just not sure that the courts are the right place to address it. Though it's true that at times the law is the only available tool, using it to deal with social issues with polarized constituencies always has a cost.

#50 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:02 PM:

Terry, do you know any black folks who still use Afro-American? I've seen Afri-American, but I only encounter black or African American these days. Wikipedia has an interesting article; I'd thought the word was coined in the '60, but it's much older.

Afro-American's a lot like Native American; it's just not the popular choice among the people it's supposed to refer to.

#51 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Weighing in briefly on the "African-American" debate: when we have an institution that uses this category (scholarships for African-Americans, African-American Student President, etc), its purpose is generally to act as a counterbalance for institutional discrimination. Given that intent, white people shouldn't be identifying as African-American for the purposes of these institutions, since they're not racially discriminated against in the USA. This is the heart of it as far as I can see.

#52 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:23 PM:

Serge @ 29: There have been times when Jamie has been flappable, usually involving explosives.

I love Mythbusters.

#53 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:27 PM:

Steve C @ #47, your unscientific poll seems to confirm what Buckley said was the mission statement for his magazine National Review:

It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
It's always "Turn back the clock day" for conservatives.

#54 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Star Trek and Buffy themed cruises.

(I accidentally typoed "cruises" as "crises" but then I caught myself)

#55 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:35 PM:


doctor who themed cruise

#56 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Eliza Dushku hasn't knocked me over with her acting chops (like, say, John Malkovich did in Being John Malkovich) but I don't have any complaints about them either. I'm fine with a focus on Echo.

#57 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:26 PM:

Linkmeister #53: It's always "Turn back the clock day" for conservatives.

I wouldn't mind turning back the clock to the Bartlet administration. heh.

#58 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:33 PM:

Erik @#54: LARP?

Open Thread nerdiness: I just spent the day downgrading my main Linux system to Ubuntu 8.04. That fixed the font issue, which had been driving me buggy... but the unpleasant kicker is with the DVD-writer problems I'd been having.

It didn't fix those problems for the internal writer... but the external DVD-writer I'd brought in for the occasion works fine! It can write and verify both CDs and DVDs -- but the internal writer can't read the DVDs! Thankfully, it can still read CDs, and it did fine just now with a commercial DVD, but not with an older homemade DVD. (Which latter is playing fine on the external drive.)

Now I'm starting to wonder if the internal drives in two different machines, just happened to fail at roughly the same time in the same way.... (They are the same brand and from the same purchase.)


#59 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:54 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 54, 55: If they docked at the same place, do you think there would be fights?

#60 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:55 PM:

Xopher @32: I hadn't seen reason to complain about Eliza Dushku's acting; I'd felt she was doing a competent job.

OTOH, I see she is credited as an executive producer. I don't know what that involves, but it could possibly be distracting.

I recall reading a 1981 article about the production of Columbo by the producers* (by the magic of the internet, available here). At some point, Peter Falk was keen to direct.

We [..] were in a vengeful mood, so when we presented Falk with his script, it was fashioned, by design, to drive even the most experienced director out of his mind. The villain was an architect, and much of the picture would have to be filmed at a construction site. We had already picked the location, Century City, a massive new development of steel and glass. Scenes would be shot in a gigantic hole in the ground, swimming with dust, while an actual building was being erected. The excavation had the look of a crater on the moon.

To Falk's credit, he prepared diligently. He consulted with other directors and he spent his weekends at the construction site, lining up shots. But the filming of the picture was a nightmare for him. He picked up a cold and almost lost his voice. Concentration was impossible because of the perpetual din of pneumatic drills and rivet guns. And work on the building never stopped; nothing as insignificant as a television crew was going to halt the march of progress. Every time Falk would change his mind about a shot and try to reshoot it, he would discover the set was no longer there — a girder had gone up where his actors had stood moments before. We took to visiting the location and smiling down at him from the top of the hole. He'd shake his fist at us and plow on with the filming.

Interestingly, the picture that emerged was well directed. But Falk's performance was off. The adrenaline he needed to direct tended to interfere with his acting; he didn't calm himself sufficiently as he went from one side of the camera to the other, and so the usually low-key character of Columbo became, in this one instance, almost manic. But the construction site gave us fascinating production values, and we were very pleased with the film. It was the most expensive of the "Columbos," but the studio was too sheepish to complain about costs. As of this writing, Falk has never directed again.

* Richard Levinson and William Link; 'How we created Columbo – and how he nearly killed us'. The original article was illustrated with a shot of the raincoat garbed detective from the neck down — with surgery seams and stitches on the neck, and neck bolts in the style of Frankenstein.

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 09:46 PM:

David Harmon @ 58:

It's possible both drives are dead, but another possibility is that the cable to the internal drive is bad on the original machine. A bad cable might cause inability to burn DVDs that can be read on another drive, while allowing good CDs to be burned.

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:34 PM:

Terry, Bruce et al...

Ever since the term "African-American" started coming into use in the 1980s, it's been a problematic one. It has excluded, by its very nature, black people who are not Americans. It is ambiguous enough that cases like the one I linked to were liable to come up from time to time. Yet it is important in that it pointed to a heritage that substantial numbers of black Americans wanted to celebrate.

Perhaps celebrate a bit too much. At one Martin Luther King Day event I attended some years back, I was surprised when a young lady praised "Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and other great African Americans." I've heard stories about black American students in London calling black and mixed-race Londoners "African-Americans" and not understanding why this was met with hostility.

Afro-American seems to have vanished. Not even elided into "Afram" as John Brunner thought it might in Stand on Zanzibar. I haven't heard it in years. Curiously, "Negro" has become either a jocular term or one seen as pejorative (that last I find a bit surprising, since I'm just old enough to remember when it was the polite term).

#63 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen #61: No, it's the (new) external drive that successfully burns and reads. The internal drive I've been using can't read either its own disks (including ones from before it started failing) or those from the external drive (though again, it can read commercial disks). (I have yet to do exhaustive tests with the other internal drive.) It occurs to me that the drives may well be able to write usable disks, but not to read them -- I'm not happy with that, because even before they started failing, I had enough failed burns that I need to do the verify.

Both internal drives are also having problems with the Lightscribe feature (which labels specially-coated disks with one of the drive lasers). In retrospect, the history does support drive failure more than I had considered -- but I'm pissed, because I just bought those drives in the last year, or less. (Admittedly, I was giving them a fair workout.)

#64 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:56 PM:

C'mon, Graydon Sanders is our Jamie Hyneman.

#65 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:56 PM:

C'mon, Graydon Sanders is our Jamie Hyneman.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:20 PM:

The Borders bookstore chain must really be close to vanishing. It's bad enough that, over the the last months, I am so unlikely to find certain books there that I've switched more and more to their Competitor. Still, I felt I should give them some of my business so, when the latest book in a certain SF series came out and neither chain had the book on display, I called the nearby Borders store to order it yesterday. What they said was they don't carry the book and that I should order it thru the chain's site. That doesn't sound too good.

#67 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:09 AM:

I have now seen The House, in intimate detail. I'm still wavering between "Holy schemoley what a cool house I bought" and "Holy God what have I done?"

I really suspect driving from Miami to The House in two days has colored my perceptions, and a good night's sleep will help.

The guy trying to sell me marijuana on the sidewalk out front kind of creeped me out, though. Because his social skills weren't really all that well-honed.

Also, the air quality is less than perfect, given the cat droppings scattered liberally throughout the carpeted areas. And the dead rat in the decorative pond lent a certain je ne sais quoi to the ambiance.

Seriously -- it isn't going to take superhuman effort to make this a really snazzy house, but ... I need a good night's sleep.

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Fragano, #62: In Childhood's End, Clarke speculated that the N-word would eventually become a useful descriptor unburdened with emotional baggage. He was describing a time several centuries in the future, and well after the Overlords had apparently put such a forceful stop to all forms of prejudice that the habit had more or less disappeared from human civilization. Sadly, I suspect that this is exactly what would be required for that to happen.

Michael, #67: Sleep. It always feels better in the morning.

#69 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:18 AM:

I would nominate Erik V. "Every state should have a volcano, if yours wasn't issued one, make your own!" Olson as our Jamie. For obvious reasons.

#70 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:35 AM:


At least, from your description, the house isn't filled with random bits of paper from the last 150 years. Seriously, on my mother's bedroom floor, intermixed with packing slips from QVC and paid or unpaid bills, we found a hand-written family journal dating back to 1859 (!) which might contain an account of going to see Abraham Lincoln's state funeral. There were some other amazing things there, but that tops the list for me.

I hadn't really realized how bad things had gotten there. I should have inferred more when she wouldn't invite us in any longer, back in January.

#71 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:49 AM:


I have been totally fascinated by your house-buying journey, and sincerely look forward to mare episodes, once you get some sleep.

#72 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:50 AM:

curses. i would see the typo *after* I hit post. mare=more.

#73 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 67:

Get a good night's sleep. It may still seem bad in the morning, but once you whip that stuff out and get it cleaned up, it'll be amazing.

Clifton Royston @ 70:

In cleaning out my late grandmother's house, I came to the conclusion that QVC were evil, and packing peanuts are demon spoor.

#74 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:32 AM:

I don't think Eliza Dushku's performances have been bad but I'm not impressed either, especially compared to the performances of the other actors. I keep thinking that I'd like to see Ali Larter as Echo (but I stopped watching Heroes after season 2, so...). I'd also like to see Dollhouse becomes more of an ensemble show.

#75 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:38 AM:

#47 ::: Steve C.:

I hadn't really thought about the question, but my feeling is that there are pulls in both directions, and the outcome is the result of decisions which haven't yet been made and knowledge which hasn't yet been acquired.

I'm a libertarian.

#76 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:40 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 70 ...
I hadn't really realized how bad things had gotten there. I should have inferred more when she wouldn't invite us in any longer, back in January.

Hm. I should probably take (personal) warning from that...

#77 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:47 AM:

SeanH @ 22: "This is encouraging news, as it seems to imply the ability for TV executives to learn from mistakes and associate past outcomes with future possibilities, activity previously only observed in mammals."

Now, now, you're being unfair. What about octupi?

Terry Karney @ 48: "It depends on what/why he's doing this. What sort of discrimnation is he alleging? What was he doing with his claims of, "White African American". Because if he's trying to make a point about being an immigrant, it's one thing. If he's trying to say something about blacks being somehow preferred; or alleging some "PC Conspiracy" to keep him down because he somehow challenged the "status quo", I don't have any sympathy."

It seems to me to be more like the former--what he's protesting is how he was treated after claiming the title "White African-American" for himself. Now, I'm guessing that more digging would probably reveal some less than stellar behavior on his part as well, but I don't think that ordering someone not to use a label they've chosen for themselves, as allegedly happened, is particularly good behavior on the teacher's part.

#78 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:41 AM:

KeithS @ 73:

QVC is only the modern phase. Five years ago Eva spent 2 weeks cleaning our her parents house when they moved to an independent living community. I spent a week helping her, and our older son spent several days as well. We threw out over 11 dumpsters worth of stuff, shipped something like 12 cubic feet worth of stuff in boxes back to our house, and sent on what was somewhat useful and would fit to their new home. Note that much of what we found was merchandise that had been bought, often several of the same item, and never unwrapped or taken out of the box.

Then a couple of months ago Eva's brother shipped us 6 boxes of stuff taken out of her mother's apartment when she moved to assisted living. We found a lot of things that once belonged to Eva's grandfather, that had just been boxed without being looked at. Among them was a full set of dentures that no one seems to want.

All this was accumulated long before QVC.

#79 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:18 AM:

Well, after the aforementioned night's sleep, I am no longer quite so dejected.

No, no QVC slips or other random bits of paper. The place is quite empty. Just really, really dirty.

The front yard has a lot of decorative plants. I'm going to ask the former owner how many of them he wants to transplant. Apparently, he had the hobby of going to e.g. Lowe's and buying the "dead" plants, then nursing them back to health. There are a lot of nice flowers, but the overall look is far too bushy for my taste, and it all hides the copious poison ivy. So it's going to have to go, most of it.

I've got three nice sycamores, though, and a great Japanese maple.

The place smells horrible. Not many of the windows open, so airing it out might already be a technical challenge. But mostly, it's just filthy. The toilets were used -- frequently -- after there was no water. I'm not sure how that happened, as that should have been post-foreclosure. Perhaps the bank didn't lock things effectively, I don't know.

Many of the lights work, which was nice to find out. There is a 120-year history of electrical fittings there -- actually, in terms of home infrastructure, I should probably open it as a museum.

The basement is a full basement, sort of a stone/brick wall, with what's left of the original plaster on it. It's humid, but despite the copious rain of the past weeks, dry. That's excellent news.

There are strange crawlspaces here and there. They smell really, really bad -- earth mixed with animal droppings.

There was a bat flying around the attic after it got dark, but it must have been trapped -- I didn't see any droppings anywhere. The dog enjoyed trying to chase it.

There were cats inside, but I can't see where they're getting in. Logic tells me it's got to be one of the crawlspaces, but so far I can't see where.

One of the cats, a long-haired tom, actually chased the dog. Very effectively, too. Then he paced mightily across the street, ignoring the traffic stopping to avoid crushing him. That is one confident cat. He's quite friendly -- if you're a hominid, anyway. I'm pretty sure he's the one that pushed that rat into the decorative pond.

Anyway, I'm going back over to try to make sense of the plumbing. I don't actually see any burst pipes, which is a bonus. If I can get some water working, I can start cleaning.

#80 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:00 AM:

It's not QVC, and for all I know they have worse policies than others, but catalogue shopping in general which seems to be dangerous.

Mt mother has used a particular catalogue, here in UK. It has stuff she uses. But I think I'd have to class her as vulnerable now, when there isn't the human contact in the transaction.

#81 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:08 AM:

"African American": I've seen uses of the term meet here some sort of semi-contemptuous almost-aggressivity quite often, once established the one using it never had any relationship whatsoever with Africa (ie: "You know nothing about Africa, you're not African American, you're black American").
I've always thought it misleading and ill-chosen myself, though I can understand why it was.

In my experience, "nègre" have mostly disappeared, pejorative uses excepted ("négro" has kept the jocular/ironicaly positive uses; I still have some fond memories of the whole "négro-parigot" fad of the 90's... my cousin would shout "Salut négro" to greet me, enjoying people's general embarrassment). One recent devellopement which get on my nerves is the use of the english "black" instead of "noir" by people feeling compeled to do the switch by some sense of political correctness. It really, really get on my nerves.

Given that intent, white people shouldn't be identifying as African-American for the purposes of these institutions, since they're not racially discriminated against in the USA.

I know it comes from me being an exception, but I can't help but wonder how much truth there is to that sentence. I've seen people's reaction change totally (either to my advantage or my detriment, it must be said) when linking my - clearly Western African - name to my person.
I'm pretty sure it played a role in me not getting one job.

Which make s me wonder: I'm as white as my Wallon-borne mother. I generally speak wolof and soninke with my black father, and french with my mulatto [yes, using it as an adjective, not sure I can] brother and sister. I have a Western African name. All in all, were I born and living in the US, would I be allowed to use the term African American ?

Eagerly awaiting on Michael Roberts's Astonishing Adventure in the New House's next episode. I hope everyting will go well.

#82 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:12 AM:

Dr Paisley @69 : Nah, Erik doesn't do unflappable as well as Jamie. Then again, very few people do. I've met very few people who could be described as Jamie (having never met Jim MacDonald in the flesh), and Erik is far more on the Adam side of the spectrum. (Most of GT is, come to think of it, perhaps with a bit higher awareness of safety preparedness, as we are on our own.)

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:00 AM:

MD² #81: I get very different responses (and have all my adult life) to people seeing me in person, versus hearing me over the phone. Stereotypes 'r' not us.

"Mulatto" tends to be viewed with hostility in the US, though I -- as one myself -- have no particular objection to the term. I've no doubt someone will tell me that I ought to.

Were you living in the US today, you might be allowed to claim African-Americanness/blackness. There's the well-known case of Gregory Williams, and the historical case of Walter White.

#84 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Michael @ 67 & 79:
Sympathies. I can empathise with the "let-down" feeling - reminds me of moving into my first flat: 40 hours to scrub the cooker/oven clean was not fun (nor was the fight to get in and the wait for a locksmith because the key didn't work).

Sounds like the clean-up's going to be a lot of work, unfortunately. Just remind yourself what the end result should be... The pictures you've shared with us shows that house has real potential

#85 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:54 AM:

I love hearing about the house. It is really tempting me. No! I do not need a house! I need a job, then we can look at more permanent things! And even then, a house isn't really the right choice. I feel like I need something extravagant to assert that I haven't wasted my life. I am having the perfectly stereotypical quarter-life crisis, assuming that it's the same as a midlife crisis.

I haven't read the article on terminology, but some time ago, I read one on educated Africans taken as slaves. A great many of them were described as Moors because that meant they could be educated, while Africans were savage and needed to be taken care of. Which ties into the "if good, then not SF" thread somewhat.

#86 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:58 AM:

Michael, have you considered hiring a cleaning crew to help with that phase? That sounds like too big a job for one person.

#87 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Clifton at 70, I sympathize. While a friend of mine was dying, I took on the responsibility of getting his (rented) home cleared of possessions. His wife loaded PODs to be shipped off with what she wanted, but the house, garage, and back yard were still crammed with truckloads of Stuff, some of it valuable, like books, much of it not. (For example, my friend "collected" used computers; we removed three truckloads of used computer parts from the home's attic spaces.) It took two months and many people's generous efforts to empty the place. The experience left me with an extreme negative reaction to purchasing anything which will not be immediately consumed -- clothing, books, tchotchkes, Stuff of any nature. I'm frugal anyway; I've become even more so.

#88 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Diatryma, I'm right there with you. I got downsized and I've been looking, and looking, and looking. I've been pounding the pavement, and the keyboard, and my head against the wall.

#89 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Serge@66: The Borders bookstore chain must really be close to vanishing

Their downtown Seattle outpost seems to be ok, last I looked, even though Seattle has Real Bookstores to compete with.

<tinfoil hat>
Or perhaps *because* Seattle has Real Bookstores -- maybe they are only interested in siphoning off readers from the independents, not from the Competitor
</tinfoil hat>

While on the topic, what bookstores should I visit in DC this summer? I know about Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle, and the scientific and technical bookstore on K street (whose name I don't remember).

#90 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Michael @ #79, please don't just document this adventure in the comments here. Keep a blog/journal. You'll want it down the road a few years, or maybe your descendants will.

Oh, and maybe there's a book deal in it sometime, too. If "Cooking with Julia" gets a blogger a book deal and then movie rights, why not?

#91 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Thomas @ #89, I see Politics and Prose author talks on C-Span all the time. It's on Connecticut Ave. NW. I don't know how far out their speaker schedule goes, but it might be fun to see whose talk might coincide with your visit.

#92 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:56 PM:

About Dushku's acting: Some of the other actors on the show are better. But the most common complaint I've heard -- that she's supposed to be a different person every week, and why does the same persona keep bleeding through? -- doesn't entirely make sense. That pattern is sort of the point of the show.

#93 ::: Steve Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 03:33 PM:

"The scientific and technical bookstore on K street" is Reiter’s Books.

For any of you in the area this coming Wednesday (May 20), it's "SciFi Night" at Reiter's. A whole bunch of SF authors (currently confirmed are Arlan Andrews, Catherine Asaro, Greg Bear, Charles E. Gannon, John G. Hemry, Yoji Kondo, Edward M. Lerner, Tom Ligon, Tom Purdom, Bud Sparhawk, and Michael Swanwick) will be signing books and discussing "Science Fiction Changes Everything?" Hosted by Reiter's and sponsored by the SIGMA Project (in conjunction with the 2009 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference - East) and the Washington Science Fiction Association.

#94 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 03:41 PM:

Michael @ #79,

One recommendation for a cleaning situation like yours: melamine sponges (Target's 'Eraser' or similar).

They look like sponges but scrub like they have hidden microscopic belt sanders. For grime I haven't found anything that works better--takes off as much grime with far less arm-power than a scrubbing sponge would use.

I've used them for bathrooms, the kitchen, and all hard surfaces. They also remove scuffmarks on some types of paint (great for fingerprints around a doorknob). With paint you have to test and practice- the combination of damp sponge plus too much pressure can take paint off, but I've had good results using a very light touch. I wouldn't use it on easily-scratched materials like leather, finished wood, or soft plastic.

They warn it can scratch glass, but I couldn't get that to happen when I tried deliberately*.

They need to be damp to work, but that doesn't take much water. They dissolve as you use them (the melamine foam acting like sandpaper)--I'd expect to use about two for a moderately grimy bathtub, say. They don't work with scrubbing powders (gunks up the sponge) but work fine with cleaning sprays.

Always wear gloves when using them, because they can irritate skin (not toxic, but by having a sandpaper effect).

* would've been cool as a non-chemical glass etcher.

#95 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:33 PM:

OK, the Eurovision Song Contest was on Saturday night.

The British entry came a respectable fifth.

The winner was Norway, a guy playing a fiddle. Quite enjoyable. But the video clip I saw today had me thinking of Peter Jackson's hobbits. Not in a silly way but, apart from the lack of hairy feet, you could imagine the guy playing his fiddle for Bilbo's party.

Finland with orcs, Norway with a hobbit: what will Sweden and Denmark do?

#96 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:43 PM:

I'm about to hire another college student to help me clean out the storeroom. I did this six years ago and that helper is now employed, married, and a dad. But it'll just be a day and I'm hiring him because I can't do the lifting and carrying. Six years ago I kept all the board games I had, but they've never beeen played since. If they aren't moldy (which is possible since the storeroom is off the balcony), they'll go to the charity thrift shop. Otherwise, the dumpster. I have several other categories of things that haven't been used in long enough that I'd rather have the room in there.

#97 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:45 PM:

Ahhh, the warm-hearted interest of the Internet crowd. You can't imagine how much it helps.

This morning, I went over to start the photodocumentation of the Before state. While I was there, taking pictures of the outside with my dog on the leash, the former owner came over and introduced himself. (Fortunately, he seems to harbor no ill will. I know I would.) I asked him where the water pipe comes in, and he took me down in the basement to show me -- then showed me where he'd taken out a heater, so I'll have to cap the pipe, and showed me where I'd need a heater, under the kitchen floor, to prevent pipes freezing. And more information of that nature. Incredibly valuable.

He also told me that the carriage house can't be vacant for more than six months, or it'll lose its grandfathered variance. Richmond city ordinance now prohibits apartments above garages. So that would really have sucked, not to know that.

Anyway, then I went to my Dad's farm for breakfast -- which I cooked myself, as my Dad is not terribly trustworthy in the kitchen, ha -- and let my dog run around with his. An hour of rocketing around at ninety miles an hour seems to have made up for the three days in the car, and she's smiling more now.

Then I went back to the house to spray Roundup on some of the poison ivy and start taking indoor pictures, and I quit when I started feeling overwhelmed again. I need to ease into this and stay in a zen state, or I'll never finish any of it.

Besides, the paying work awaits.

I had thought about a cleaning crew -- but frankly, I know I can do a better job. It's really not that bad a job cleaning an utterly empty house, even one this big and dirty. Moreover, if I do it myself, I'll have more time to get to know the details of the structure itself, where the odd holes are (and man are there a lot of odd holes!) and that kind of thing. And most especially, I'll know where there might be mold problems, and will be able to deal with them thoroughly.

Also, cleaning, to a certain extent, will have to include demolition of anything that needs it -- removal of cracked paint, which needs to be done in a lead-safe manner, removal of wallpaper and rotten plaster, and so on. A cleaning crew won't do that, but if I don't do the superficial cleaning, I won't notice everything.

This is probably why I can't ever finish software projects, either.

Linkmeister -- I've got plans to blog it all, yes. I've already been blogging some of it, plus a pretty active discussion on AskMetaFilter and the comments on the Flickr set. And that was before I'd ever seen it. So I intend to continue documenting thoroughly.

#98 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Oh, hey, Terry @ 26 (I'm just now reading this thread, you see, instead of just posting blind) -- nah, you didn't talk too much. I secretly wanted to hear more about the whole interrogation thing anyway. Plus you have a good way of telling a story. Also: Waffle House puts me in a good mood.

#99 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 05:01 PM:

Madeline @39 - I lived in the Bermuda Triangle for years, given that Puerto Rico is one corner. It's a nice place to cruise, sure, but ... I think it's one of those things that sounds vaguely good when laughing about it, but wouldn't actually be that great. For fen, I mean.

My dream was always to start a cruise line for non-jerks. Consisting maybe of like one ship, because there aren't that many non-jerks. If you've ever cruised, you know what I mean (we cruise a lot; my wife loves it because she likes anything having to do with the sea or ships, and we find good prices). The people who tend to cruise are mostly shallow bourgeoisie from Jersey or Yorkshire or someplace, who think that drinking and floor shows and casinos are the height of entertainment, who like having a Third-World minion scrub their toilet every day, who complain about the pasta after their fourth heaping serving, who ... guh. Seriously -- I like cruise ship food, I like travel, and I love machines bigger than buildings, but having to cruise with all those people has made me really dislike the whole concept. I usually let my wife cruise while I, say, buy a house in Indiana and start renovating it.

But imagine a cruise line for Internet people, or home schoolers, or fen. That could really be excellent!

Plus for non-jerks, you don't have to feed their tender little egos, because their egos are already elephantine enough. So you wouldn't need a luxury ship. In fact, it would be cooler to have a converted freighter -- with nice fittings and staterooms, I don't mean grungy, just ... a working ship with some real history, that looked interesting. It would be far, far cheaper.

So. There's a business idea for you, gift wrapped. I'll bet it could be made to work.

#100 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 05:11 PM:

Linkmeister, #90: Hell, just doing funny movie reviews got Cleolinda a book deal! I can well imagine that a lot of people would be very interested in reading about the process of restoring a lovely old house -- enough for it to sell as a book.

Michael, #99: You'd have to be careful about the home-schoolers; they come in several flavors, and a couple of those flavors are decidedly jerkish.

#101 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Michael @99: When were were removing the petrified grunge in the DIY House from Hell, we got good results from one of these shark steam cleaners. Ours is older and has a smaller water tank, but it worked great at loosening grime, crud and filth, especially if we didn't worry too much about gross condensation dripped on the floor. With these small home units, you do have to wipe/mop. You might also be able to rent an industrial/commercial steam cleaner with the capability to vacuum up that nasty water, or use a wet/dry vac (better if there are two people doing this.)

Good luck.

#102 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Michael, I wonder if you could persuade the This Old House guys and gals to come look at it.

Lots of nice tips at their site, it looks like.

#103 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 05:37 PM:

Overheard at brunch: "She's a stereotypical dumb blonde. We don't speak any more because we're on different life paths."

(The speaker was a blonde woman.)

#104 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Train info / Dutch translation needed!

I'm travelling from London to Tilburg this Wednesday, returning Sunday 24th. I have my Eurostar tickets to/from Brussels.

I've just tried to check my journey plan Brussels to Tilburg, and the website I ended up using was

On the return journey (Tilburg - Brussels Midi, Sunday 24th to arrive about 13.30) it gave a warning about a delay - but the further information page was in Dutch:

If anyone can assist with translation and whether it's a minimum delay or one where I really need to add two hours to the estimated journey time, I'd be very grateful.

#105 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 06:40 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 94, Michael @ #79 ...
One recommendation for a cleaning situation like yours: melamine sponges (Target's 'Eraser' or similar).

I can also strongly recommend spraying on a weak TSP solution to loosen up age old dirt and grime, followed a few minutes after by a scrubby sponge and rag (or a succession of scotchbrite scrub/sponge pads) to both clean off the TSP, and apply some other cleaner.

I've dealt with cat pee in the past by repeatedly flooding the area with vinegar, letting it sit, cleaning up, and repeating until the smell goes away (I'm told it's something to do with dissolving the uric acid crystals, but don't know. It's certainly not a fast process -- the last thing I had to deal with took several weeks).

Other folk suggest enzymatic cleaners, simply ripping out/tossing out all affected objects, and various combinations of things involving chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

My takeaway from all of the methods except "toss everything" boils down to "patience and time".

#106 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:28 PM:

xeger @ 105:

Can't speak for cat pee, but for dog effluents of all sorts the enzymatic cleaners work very well*. One of our rescues has occasional "accidents"** and we've had ample opportunity to try out several kinds of cleaners. The enzymatics are intended to remove the scent completely so the animal doesn't have a marked place for further use.

* Except for Oxy, which works, sortof, but not as well as Biozyme or other products specifically made for pet use.

** Really, some sort of emotional trouble resulting from his abuse, as near as we can tell.

#107 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Xeger @105,

I agree with Bruce @106--those enzyme cleaners are better and faster than anything else.

When one of our cats developed a temporary fear of the litterbox while we were gone for two weeks, we bought a bacterial/enzyme cleaner online, and it worked very well. We used a needle to inject it into the undercarpet (a spray on top would not have been enough). For ordinary accidents Nature's Miracle seems to be enough.

#108 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:31 PM:

Well, all carpets, of course, are destined for the dumpster, post haste. But some of the urine spots are on wood, so -- yeah. This advice may very well come in handy.

But honestly -- most of the stink is from the toilets. The former owner told me today that the house was actually occupied until February 11th, and apparently some of the pipes had already frozen at that point. But you know, people hadn't stopped using the toilets. So, well, you see. Or rather -- be thankful you don't see. Or smell. This is one aspect of the Before situation which I am not photodocumenting.

#109 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:24 PM:

xeger, #105: On anything which won't be damaged by it, the best method for dealing with cat pee is a medium-strength bleach solution. Acid/base, watch it foam! Also, dried cat pee glows under UV light; a UV flashlight is good for locating problem areas.

#110 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:26 PM:

OOOoooh, an excuse to buy a UV flashlight!

#111 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Scorpions also glow nicely in UV, so that flashlight will also come in handy for nocturnal desert rambles. Unless you run into a scorpion hanging out in a puddle of cat pee, of course.

#112 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Michael@99: I'd cruise on your cruise line.

I've been on two cruises, and the smaller, older ship from the first cruise was my favorite. Alas, it is now in (I believe) Southeast Asia with a different company.

I didn't much care for the floating Las Vegas hotel the second time, though I did come out a little bit ahead at the casino. There was no place to stand in the bow and watch the ship come into port the last morning. A ship should feel kike a ship.

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:18 PM:

#37 Bill
After the votes got tallied, Neil was walking around exclaiming, "We WON--we lost!"

He did NOT want The Boat to win, nonononono, and was very happy that it didn't win--he was getting worried that it would!

#114 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Tracie @101 - OK, so I see from your link that this thing is used to clean hard surfaces like hardwood or tile, but ... I don't understand why. How is steam better than scrubbing or something? I mean, besides ease of use.

#115 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Michael, make small, attainable goals and don't look much ahead. That way you won't get overwhelmed and go f-k it, I QUIT!

I'm helping a friend organize his third floor so a) he knows what is up there and b) some of it can be appraised. I'm keeping my small, attainable goals and it is working. (though there is nothing wrong with that attic that backing up a 40-cubic-yard dumpster up to and tossing shit out the window into it wouldn't help.)

I've already filled to contractor-sized trash bags with junk/destroyed-animal soiled stuff. And need to discuss tossing bags of records that are too old. I'm guessing he will say okay, when he went up and saw I had tried to organize the stripped books (his late wife worked at a bookstore and could not bear to see them go into the trash) he said, "stripped books? trash them."

#116 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:42 PM:

Whoo, just had a bit of an earthquake here. I think it lasted about a minute, and some of my carefully-collected piles of stuff fell over. Waiting to see what the USGS has to say.

#117 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:45 PM:

Just looked at the USGS report and as of right now it says it's a magnitude 5.0 close to LAX.

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:49 PM:

The did-you-feel-it page is apparently overloaded. It's stalling my browser when I try to get it. (Yes, I felt it. Vertigo is fun. Not.)

#119 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 11:49 PM:

Paula @114 - yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to set up some kind of multilayer to-do list so I can focus only on the next thing without forgetting the rest of it. Currently, the next thing is getting water into the house without it coming out everywhere. Once I do that, the next thing is to clean. Once I've cleaned, I don't know what the next thing is. But by then I'll have figured it out.

I have to say, though, that having already loaded all our belongings into a truck, quitting is not a very viable option. Oh, sure, I could always just stack it all in the carriage house and rent something. But then I'd be renting something in Richmond, Indiana, when I was renting something in the Caribbean. That's ... not really a step forward.

#120 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:00 AM:

KeithS, earthquakes always remind me of the lists of Richter-scale magnitudes above actually possible ones, e.g. here (scroll down towards the bottom). Richter 12, for instance, would roughly correspond to the Earth breaking in half, and would be 160 trillion tons of TNT -- or the amount of sunlight falling on the Earth in one day. Which is a powerful argument for solar energy, if anything is.

#121 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:09 AM:

The USGS link to Google Earth is showing the epicenter on 105th between Doty and Yukon, south of Hollywood Park. I think everyone in that neighborhood is now wide awake.

#122 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Michael @114: Ease of use is the reason (and that Age of Steam feeling, of course). Instead of using noxious chemicals and elbow grease for everything, a lot of crud can be loosened with steam and wiped or mopped up (rather than scrubbed). In my experience, what was not dislodged with steam was more succeptible to subsequent cleaning products and scrubbing. We used steam on the kitchen cabinets, appliances (inside and out), bathrooms and laminate and linoleum floors. Mopping or wiping up the nasty condensation is a pain, but we did the steaming in smallish increments, as a break from stripping wallpaper, scraping, priming, painting, ripping up carpet, etc., etc. You might put out feelers to see if you can borrow one. Your mileage will most assuredly vary.

I'm a great believer in commercial enzyme deodorizer, bought at a janitorial supply company. The previous owner of the DIY House from Hell(tm) let the cats use a living room corner as a cat box. Nature's Miracle isn't the same formula it was years ago. It still works, but back then it was magic.

#123 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:40 AM:

#66 Serge
What book/series?

Border's isn't dead yet--I read or heard recently that its financiers have extended credito to it through to sometimes in at least 2010.


Michael--would you rather it have been a live rat, or a dead parrot?

#124 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Michael: How habitable is the carriage house apartment? Getting that rented out sounds like job one.

#125 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:02 AM:


An episode of Pushing Daisies appeared on my PVR's menu; Saturday May 30th.

This is probably the first of the three as-yet-unaired episodes.

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Stefan, #124: Or getting it fixed up to the point where they can live in it while working on the main house. It doesn't have to be rented specifically, just somebody has to be actually living there.

#127 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:20 AM:


There are three motivations in life: money, power, and love.
One can see the mother in the shadow she cast on her daughter:
Power-hungry, clever
raising her daughter to be intelligent
in a world that valued neither women nor intelligence.
Always pushing her daughter for more
but never thinking to offer praise.
The daughter, later, finding it impossible to fit in—
looking for sympathy and finding only accusation
(small wonder, though, considering the history with her neighbors).
She made the classic mistake,
thinking a child will be someone who loves you
when instead, a child is one to whom you give love.
And then, the real tragedy,
assuming that since her upbringing was so harsh and unloving
that the reverse would be ideal
and took matters to the other extreme,
smothering with love,
so it is small wonder that the child, once grown,
was fair prey for the first heartless handsome wretch to come along.
And then life in the world being too much for one raised behind tower walls,
broke beneath the pressure of its demands.
One wonders if the giant's step came as a relief,
though that, in turn, broke the one who needed her,
craved the love of a daughter, a family,
any family.

Rapunzel sobs that her upbringing has insured
that she can never be happy.
A pause, then,
"I was only trying to be a good mother."
And we laugh, because, after all,
What would a witch know of love?

#128 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:35 AM:

Michael Roberts #120: Richter 12, for instance, would roughly correspond to the Earth breaking in half, and would be 160 trillion tons of TNT -- or the amount of sunlight falling on the Earth in one day. Which is a powerful argument for solar energy, if anything is.

As in, "OMG, everybody panic! Solar energy will break the earth in half!! Use more oil!!! We need to make more animal species go extinct to ensure the oil supply for future generations!!1!!"


#129 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:43 AM:

More like, "The Sun pours far more than enough energy on the earth in a day to power every human need and then some. It's clean, inexhaustible* and practically free**. So why are we still using fossil fuels?"

* For all intents and purposes. The Sun will continue to bathe the Earth in light for longer than the Earth will remain habitable by humans.

** Once the apparatus to capture and convert raw Sunlight to other types of energy has been set up, it will pay for itself in a relatively short time, after which the only ongoing costs are for basic maintenance. No need to continue purchasing fuel.

#130 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:06 AM:

re Enzyme Cleaners: They work. They even break down skunk (and empiric testing says tomato juice is a decent reducing agent, but will not wipe it out). I would, however, recommend against the "Skunk" versions. All they seem to add is rubbing alcohol, and for the difference in cost, you can get your own, and therefore have more of the enzymes.

Michael: I'm glad to know I was interesting enough to make up for doing great wodges of the talking. I had a good time. It was the first non-family related outing I've had since I got here.

#131 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:32 AM:

Probably WAY too late to the black/African American debate but:

I had a buddy in high school who embraced the term "black." I didn't know until we studied the Civil Rights movement in history how strongly he opposed the term African American.

It turned out (something he hadn't wanted to make public) that he was U.S. born of Australian Aboriginal descent. Not only did African American offend him because he was not born of the descendants of slaves, but he wasn't remotely African (in recent geologic terms).

Re: enzymatic cleaners:

It's a little-known fact (at least in my circles) that ordinary "Simple Green" is an enzymatic cleaner. It has other ingredients, so you have to test it in small, hidden areas, but it's cheap and it works!

#132 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:42 AM:

I use an enzyme cleaner on my carpet when necessary, and it doesn't seem to work very well. It'll take out the catpukespot, but leaves a halo. I'm wondering if my carpet is dirty enough to act like chromatography, or if the enzyme cleaner will always leave a big spot.

Having the carpets cleaned when I moved out was a condition of me getting a cat, though, so I am not hugely annoyed.

#133 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:54 AM:

Thomas @ 89... The Borders I go to here in Albuquoiquee (as Bugs Bunny pronounces it) looks like it's doing ok, but the absence of new titles (a recent development) was rather mysterious to me until I read a recent column by Malzberg & Resnick in the SFWA Bulletin(*). Maybe Seattle's Borders stores are doing better because New Mexico is what is considered one of the poorer states of the Union with an economy that is not particularly diversified.

(*) By the way, their recent issue, which lists the Nebula nominees, along with comments with the authors, had one entry where the writer thanks me for some bit of French translation.

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:57 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 123... The 3rd volume in Sean Williams's Astropolis series. I'll probably see if I can order it thru the nearby Barnes & Noble, which did have one copy on their shelves, but it looked as if my wife had just finished reading it.

#135 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:00 AM:

Datum: Pitt Street Mall Borders Store (major central/downtown Sydney main street shopping strip) closed this week. Usually seemed busy. Others in Sydney & other States remain open, they say.

OTOH, area is under major redevelopment with many places moving &/or closing while building work is on.

#136 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:04 AM:

Stefan@124/Lee@126 - I think "occupied" is what they're after, not rental status. Visually, I think the carriage house apartment is better, and there are no cats there, but somehow -- probably because the building is smaller -- the air seems more oppressive.

It's a cute little house, though. I'm going to get its power turned on today. It shares water with the main house, but it's going to take some plumbing work to get the water over there. The plumbing really is in bad shape.

#137 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Mr. Roberts @ 79:

There was a bat flying around the attic after it got dark, but it must have been trapped -- I didn't see any droppings anywhere.

You will probably want an expert to come check out your attic nonetheless. Our last experiment in homeownership came with bats. They would squeeze in and out of the attic through a tiny gap around the chimney, but sleep in the walls, so the level of droppings in the attic was miniscule. Then, when the weather became hot enough, some of them would find their way out at the bottom at night, then follow air currents upward to our bedroom. Whee!

Anyway, the experts sealed most of the detectable attic gaps and installed a sort of one-way door on the largest one. In a little while, no more bats. (The experts also picked out a house with a Spanish tile roof nearby and noted that they would probably just relocate there, but that's life in a Randian utopia for you.)

#138 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:11 AM:

Michael Roberts

It's vital that, if you haven't, you rent and watch "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House."

#139 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:21 AM:

Paula@123 - I'd prefer a live parrot, assuming I have a choice. :-)

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:43 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 139...

"I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique."
"Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue... What's, uh... What's wrong with it?"
"I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!"
"No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting."

#142 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:35 AM:

re 50 et al.: There is a distinct progression for "people of African/slave ancestry in the USA" that allows one to date major institutions pretty accurately.

Re various: We've found that Prestone's upholstery cleaner works really well on spot cleaning (see under "leaky diaper in rented car"). For the carpets as a whole we use a service which has done extremely well by us.

#143 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:47 AM:

dcb #104: The NS website seems to be down, but looking at format of the url it looks like there are some repair works ongoing near Brussels.

The Belgian railway site seems to suggest getting a train from Tilburg at 10:37 and changing at Roosendaal for a train which gets into Brussels for 12:45.

If you can get the website to work, feel free to email me the message and I'll let you know what it says.

#144 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 11:01 AM:

C. Wingate #141:
Did NASA pipe in the environmental sounds of people whispering behind them?

#145 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 11:09 AM:

Mr. Houghton @ 144:

They didn't have to. Up in space, the whispering of the dead never entirely stops.

#146 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 11:17 AM:

I have a Borders gift card with just over $100 left on it, and I plan to use it up real soon now before it disappears. I was at our local Borders last night and noticed that the computer system didn't show any "New and Notable" books from later than 2007. As usual, there was nothing new and notable in the f/sf section, which had been spread out so the aisles were more than twice as wide. I picked up an old Connie Willis book that I had somehow missed, though I think I gave my mother a copy a while back. Couldn't find any Pinkwater. Drat!

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:23 PM:

I was going to pass on something that my wife came across, regarding the Wingularity, but I see that Patrick has a Particle on that very subject.

#148 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:31 PM:

mds @ 145

The whispering peaks in the microwave range, with a noise temperature of about 2.7°K.

#149 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Re 50, 142 et al.: The Library of Congress used to use "Afro-Americans" in its subject headings, and changed over to "African Americans" fairly recently; I think it was sometime between 2000 and 2003. They tend to be a trailing indicator for terminology usage. (They only switched from "Vietnamese Conflict" to "Vietnam War" a few years back.)

I don't know exactly when the change was. Their current subject authority file notes "Afro-Americans" was a former heading, but doesn't say when the change was made. I wish there was an easily accessible versioning system for subject headings, so one could get a birds-eye view of terminology change over time.

#150 ::: Laura from Faraway ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:25 PM:

@ Tracie: some Borders gifts cards may be valid on Amazon...

#151 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:40 PM:

MDS #145, Bruce Cohen #148:

"In space, no one can hear you scream"

It's drowned out by all that damned whispering of the damned, who are whispering that they are cold, damned cold.

#152 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:54 PM:

But take Mr. Cohen's 2.7 K (degrees Kelvin? Scold, scold!), work out the relevant redshift, and it turns out the damned were once actually hot, damned hot. There's apparently just no pleasing the damned.

#153 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:31 PM:

mds 152: There's apparently just no pleasing the damned.

Damn those damned damned.

#154 ::: Tom ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 04:21 PM:

This just in, from the LA Times:

"Reporting from Washington -- The Supreme Court rejected appeals today from two hold-out counties in Southern California that object to the state's 13-year-old medical marijuana law and claimed it should be struck down as violating the federal drug-control act.

"Without comment, the court turned down the pair of appeals.

"The action likely will clear the way for patients in San Diego and San Bernardino counties to seek county-issued identification cards that show they are eligible to possess and use marijuana.

"These identification cards have been required under state law since 2004, but the two counties have refused to issue them. Their lawyers had asserted the state's authorization for using medical marijuana conflicted with the zero-tolerance policy set by federal law."

I am amazed and pleased.

#155 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Cultural assumptions about parenting:

I was walking home from the library today, and passed a few friendly words with a rarely-seen neighbor on the subject of my daughter's physical precociousness (she's had good head control since her first week; currently 3 months of age, she's very close to having sitting up on her own figured out).

My neighbor volunteered cheerfully, "Well, she's just hurryin' up to get out of the way for a baby brother!"

I'm still boggled by this comment, on several different axes of becrogglement, and thought I'd share.

#156 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:27 PM:

mds @ 152

*hangs head in shame; looks around for flogging-class wet noodle*
In all fairness most of my physical science training was more than 40 years; old habits are hard to break.

If ever the microwave background were to stop we will know that the damned damned have been dammed.

#157 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:37 PM:

Elliot: "No, she's just eager to be able to stand up and smack rude people!" Nah, that's probably unneighborly.

How about "Actually she has her first soccer practice Monday!" That would make a point AND get a laugh.

Bruce & mds: why aren't Kelvin temperatures in degrees? I thought Kelvin was just Celsius minus 273 degrees. But then my physics is a manticore: ancient and largely made up.

#158 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Xopher @ 157:

The reason, as I think was explained to me a while back but don't actually remember, is that by saying degrees whatever you're saying it's not a measurement of absolute temperature. But I could be wrong.

#159 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:49 PM:

KeithS: I sure hope that's not the reason, because that's about the silliest thing I've ever heard.

*thinks about things users say at work*

Well, no. But it's very, very silly.

#160 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:59 PM:

But we do use degrees Rankine!

#161 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:03 PM:

The explanation in the W*k*p*d** article on "Kelvin" is that "The omission of "degree" indicates that it is not relative to an arbitrary reference point such as the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, but rather an absolute unit of measure which can be manipulated algebraically (e.g., multiplied by two to indicate twice the amount of "mean energy" available among elementary degrees of freedom of the system)."

It is a meaningful distinction, but it's probably of significance only to people who do thermodynamics calculations.

#162 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Elliott, #155: Yeah, that's a WTF moment all right! I'm not sure I could count all the unexpressed assumptions in that statement.

#163 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:21 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens @ 160:

Only in heathen, non-metric-using countries. Checks location. Damn.

#164 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:29 PM:

re 161: This is all very anachronistic since the resolution which established the Kevin scale defined the unit as the degree, not to mention that the unit of the Kelvin is (again) by definition the same as the Celsius degree. The SI redefinition is for the excessively fastidious.

#165 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:36 PM:

*instinctively ducks as Joel's explanation flies overhead, even though the distance makes it completely unnecessary*

Seriously, thanks Joel. There's a hint of a glimmer of something that might potentially turn into understanding in my head. Perhaps I'll read the Wikipedia article later and see if I still feel really stooooopid.

I think of a degree as a distance on a scale. The scale ends, thud, right there at 0K, OK? Just as there was no time before the Big Bang, and there's nothing north of the North Pole (using 'north' in consistent senses). So any given temperature has a place associated with it on the scale, and there IS NO -1K or -274C, any more than there's a 91°N.

OK, my brain hurts now. It's like workout hurt though, so not to worry, but I have to rest now.

#166 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:37 PM:

According to the documentation I have to hand (the manual to the SIunits LaTeX package):

Note: The 13th CGPM (1967, Resolution 3) also decided that the unit kelvin and its symbol K should be used to express both thermodynamic temperature and an interval or a dierence of temperature, instead of 'degree Kelvin' with symbol °K.

It doesn't state what the rationale was, though.

#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:38 PM:

Well, I'm not excessively fastidious.

Well, yes I am, but not about that. So I'll forget it now. Unless, of course, someone else posts and argues with C., and is agreed to have won the day. Because I get all my opinions from Making Light the Fluorosphere knows all things.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 07:40 PM:

See? See how someone gets in just as I'm deciding the previous person is probably right? I'm shutting off this damn computer.

#169 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:10 PM:

@Michael Roberts: Thank you! I like that idea. A geek cruise would, I suspect, turn into a fen cruise by its very nature. And I like the idea of using an older boat, or a greener boat, so we could learn how the various systems worked. (A maker cruise would probably involve greening the boat -- repairing grey water systems and setting up solar panels, etc.)

Like everyone here, I'm enjoying the posts about this house of yours. And I admire both your attitude and that of the home's former owner -- I'm not familiar with the circumstances of the transfer, but he seems to have made peace with it.

Here's a song to help you get through the next spate of work. (Fleet Foxes, "White Winter Hymnal.")

Does anybody here watch Supernatural? Because hot damn that's a great show.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:56 PM:

Bumper sticker seen on the back of the same vehicle today...

(1) Obama bin Lyin' - impeach now
(2) Don't be a pinhead
(3) Palin 2012

I'd have expected (2) and (3) to cause such cognitive dissonance as to make the driver's head explode, but there definitely was a skull under his baseball cap.

#171 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:06 PM:


But was there anything in it?

#172 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:24 PM:

xeger@105: A long time ago, I was taught that worst part of the smell of cat piss comes from thioacetone, which is by weight the most odoriferous substance known. \Possibly/ the sulfur bond is weak enough that a weak acid like vinegar reacts with it without reacting with as much of the surroundings as a stronger acid would, or possibly anything non-neutral would do if used long enough.

#173 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 09:51 PM:

Negative temperatures are possible under some special circumstances--but absolute zero is still the lowest possible temperature.

Temperature on the Kelvin scale is a unit of energy, and can be translated into energy units by multiplying by a constant factor (Boltzmann's constant). However, the coefficient that actually appears in the partition function, which determines how a particular temperature affects the states of a system, is the negative reciprocal of the temperature, -1/T.

Absolute zero on the Kelvin scale corresponds to negative infinity when expressed in terms of -1/T. This is the lower bound for temperature states. Positive infinity on the Kelvin scale corresponds to 0 when expressed in terms of -1/T, and for most ordinary systems this is the upper bound for temperature states.

For certain finite systems, however, -1/T can be raised above 0, leading to states with negative temperatures; these lie above all positive-temperature states, because -1/T is greater. The upper bound here is where the temperature approaches 0 from below, and -1/T tends toward positive infinity.

So there can sometimes be negative temperatures, but they are always hotter than positive ones. Isn't physics fun?

#174 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:01 PM:

CHip @ 172 ...

In the process of digging around for more information about thioacetone, I've found a few entertaining links... (but none that suggest that feline urine contains thioacetone).

Academic references ...
Colour is not the only characteristic by which we recognize compounds. All too often it is their odour that lets us know they are around. There are some quite foul organic compounds too; the smell of the skunk is a mixture of two thiols—sulfur compounds containing SH groups.

But perhaps the worst aroma was that which caused the evacuation of the city of Freiburg in 1889. Attempts to make thioacetone by the cracking of trithioacetone gave rise to ‘an offensive smell which spread rapidly over a great area of the town causing fainting, vomiting and a panic evacuationºthe
laboratory work was abandoned’.

It was perhaps foolhardy for workers at an Esso research station to repeat the experiment of cracking trithioacetone south of Oxford in 1967. Let them take up the story. ‘Recentlyºwe found ourselves with an odour problem beyond our worst expectations. During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away. Two of our chemists who had done no more than investigate the cracking of minute amounts of trithioacetone found themselves the object of hostile stares in a restaurant and suffered the humiliation of
having a waitress spray the area around them with a deodorantº. The odours defied the expected effects of dilution since workers in the laboratory did not find the odours intolerable ... and genuinely denied responsibility since they were working in closed systems. To convince them otherwise, they were dispersed with other observers around the laboratory, at distances up to a quarter of a mile, and one drop of either acetone gem-dithiol or the mother liquors from crude trithioacetone crystallisations were placed on a watch glass in a fume cupboard. The odour was detected downwind in seconds.’

There are two candidates for this dreadful smell—propane dithiol (called acetone gem-dithiol above) or 4-methyl-4-sulfanylpentan-2-one. It is unlikely that anyone else will be brave enough to resolve the controversy.

Stinky weapons, bored chemists, a rather distressing[0] paper entitled "Feline Reference Values for Urine Composition".

Wikipedia's info on cat urine suggests:

Cat urine, especially that of male cats, contains the putative cat pheromone 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB), a compound that gives cat urine its typical odor. The MMB precursor felinine is synthesized in the urine from 3-methylbutanol-cysteinylglycine (3-MBCG) by the excreted peptidase cauxin. Felinine then slowly degrades into the volatile MMB.[3]

[0] For the experimental methodology. Don't search for it if you squick easily about animal experimentation.

#175 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:35 PM:

I can't confirm the chemical details of cat urine odor, but I do know that, left to itself, the smell endures until the very protons decay.

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:40 PM:

Thiols - or some of their cousins - are used as odorants in natural gas. (They used to be called mercaptans.)

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Summer Storms @ 171... He didn't seem like the kind of person who'd let me knock on his head for echos so I thought it wiser not to inquire any further.

#178 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 11:07 PM:

P J Evans @ 176:

They still are called mercaptans if you're stuck in the engineering world. Either the engineers don't know that the chemists have come up with a better naming scheme, or they don't care.

#179 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:12 AM:

For extra impact, use pyridine as the solvent for your mixture. (I used to use the stuff as a solvent for gas chromatography work in a biochemistry research lab, back when I was in college. "Essence of long-dead sardines, concentrated" was my usual description.)

#180 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:59 AM:

All this talk of stench is reminding me of a scene in Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos in which Our Hero breaks up a political protest that's threatening to turn violent by setting off the equivalent of a Super Stink Bomb.

#181 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:59 AM:

y (#173) It's an overcast day here in sometimes-sunny Sydney, so your explanation is cut off from my view by the cloud layer. But I hope by some application to gain a portion of enlightenment anent it.

#182 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Madeline Ashby @ 169

I like Supernatural too, especially this last season. One of things that kept me interested from the beginning was the running gags, like the fake names Sam and Dave use, or the increasingly ugly and bizarre decor of the motels they stay in. And I am really looking forward to seeing how they handle this impossible situation they've set up in the last episode.

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:16 AM:

KeithS @ 178

New naming schemes are not an engineer's friend if they make it difficult to find the precursor chemical or electronic component they've been buying under the old name all these years.

By the way, mathematicians do the same thing to physicists all the time with new notation, and physicists pass the love on to engineers, often by inverting signs from the logical convention, or by changing the names of units. Pity the engineers have nobody to pass it on to.

#184 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:17 AM:

Bruce @ 182: We got into the series late (last year) but haven't looked back since. I think I knew it was love when Jensen Ackles did his Eye of the Tiger routine.

My husband thinks Basement Cat will suffer a weakening injury that will require slinking off and wound-licking throughout Season Five, thus stretching the drama as it re-gathers its forces. What causes that injury, I don't know. I'm hoping for a show of force from the rebel faction, as it were.

Alternatively, Basement Cat could just show up and say: "Lol prophecies; I R HERE 2 PARTY" and shove off, leaving a crowd of befuddled Hunters in its wake.

#185 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:29 AM:

Speaking of the damned, I just finished the portraits for Ruddigore (details here.)

They're displayed in the order they'll be on stage, so Sir Roderic is the one in the center. He is, as advertised, rather poor as a work of art. I'm most pleased with Jerry, the knight. That one was fun.

It would have been nice to paint them by hand but with Gareth as a clingy toddler that wasn't going to happen. So they're all some variant of Photoshoppery. And I've got a bunch of red LEDs and the hopes we'll have time to put in glowing red eyes (what with moving and all... there's quite a saga that starts with "We got a house," and most recently is "... and they haven't given us the keys yet." Not nearly the deal that MR got, but hey...)

(... aaaaaand there was the digression.)

Anyway, if any of you are in the Sacramento region for the first two weekends in June, we'd be ecstatic to have you come by. Especially the first weekend; word of mouth insures good houses later but we'd prefer a bit of balance, especially as we only have a two-week run this year.

#186 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:51 AM:

Bruce Cohen #183: Pity the engineers have nobody to pass it on to.

They pass it on to long-suffering parents who struggle to assemble marvelous toys with byzantine instructions in an unintelligible language that could have been written by no human hand at 2am before their gift-giving celebration of choice. (May Tom Paxton have mercy on their souls).

#187 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:57 AM:

p.s.: It is my theory that The Marvelous Toy is, in fact, a partially unlocked Lemarchand Box disguised with bright, colorful lead paint.

#188 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 04:24 AM:

Some of us are old enough to remember the original G.I. Joe (or, in my case, the UK licensed version, Action Man). Started out as a 12-inch tall articulated male dress-up doll, with guns. Started out with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, roughly Korean War era weapons and uniforms.

These days, all that's gone. There are expensive figures of the same type, pitched at the collectable doll market. G.I. Joe has become a sort of fantasized Special Forces guy.

Never mind, at least we Brits still have a proper posable plastic Army.

It's backed by the Ministry of Defence, with aims of publicity and recruiting, and they've gone into the toy business. Which feels a little creepy.

Look for yourself.

If you have objections to that general sort of toy, whether it's dress-up dolls or kid-sized uniforms, I don't know that it makes any difference that the government is involved. The kids going for these toys aren't going to be on the recruiter's radar for another decade.

But they are a very nice model. And they do look like real soldiers.

And now you can do the hamster-scale version of Dog Soldiers

(There's a reference to a Koyabashi Maru test in the film.)

#189 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 05:40 AM:

186: "Pickman, this toy requires batteries of no earthly size".

#190 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 06:19 AM:

ajay, I used vacuum-tube hardware on the farm, and the batteries were exotic. Though at least you could rig an HT pack from 9v consumer stuff. But the critical component of that moisture-meter was a 1.5v cell that was a bit bigger than a beer can.

You put the ground grain sample in a compression cell, put the current through from that whopper of a 1.5v battery, and I think the vacuum tube was for a high-impedance driver for the meter.

Those old Marconi meters were reliable enough that they were still being used, by farmers and grain merchants, in the 21st century. And, since it used a sliding plate--there was a temperature correction--to translate the resistance to the moisture content, all you needed when they changed the oven-test standard was a new plate calibrated to the new test.

Sorry, I'm feeling ancient again.

#191 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:27 AM:

In re great logos, I have to offer the following:

Still makes me laugh, several years later.

#192 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:32 AM:

Make that a year later. Seemed longer, somehow....

#193 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:38 AM:

Rob Hansen @191: The ones here aren't (or rather, are!) bad.

I like intentionally hidden stuff in logos, though. The hidden arrow in FedEx, the C in Carrefour, and the bear in the Toblerone logo had to be pointed out to me. That made me feel delighted and awfully unobservant at the same time.

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 10:25 AM:

Here are the panels I'll be on at FiestaCon in Tempe, Arizona, during the July Fourth weekend. Eek.

#195 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 10:41 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 186:

Please don't blame engineers for crappy instruction manuals translated from Chinese to English via English as She Is Spoke and a Japanese VCR manual. As you rightly point out, they're made by some Lovecraftian horror instead.

Dave Bell @ 188:

I think the people who are responsible for the GI Joe film are hoping for money from the people who fondly remember watching the cartoon show from the '80s. I'm not sure this is a good plan. Have they retitled the film Action Man in the UK, or do they not seem to care?

<Comments about beefing up of male dolls action figures over the years deleted.>

Dog Soldiers was fun right up until the Matrix reference that completely blew my suspension of disbelief. Oh well.

#196 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 10:49 AM:

I'm not sure Dog Soldiers ever suspended my disbelief, but it is one of my favourite horror films ever. How can you not love a film that has your werewolf-hounded squaddies barricade themselves into the abandoned farmhouse and then utter the immortal line: "Put the kettle on - we could all do with a brew" ?

#197 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:07 AM:

An amusing review of Stephen Wolfram's latest venture: Wolfram Alpha - a new kind of Fail.

#198 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:23 AM:
I think the people who are responsible for the GI Joe film are hoping for money from the people who fondly remember watching the cartoon show from the '80s.

"Hail Cobra Commander, the great snake rules forever."

I don't remember any of the characters except for the token GI Jane aka Agent Scarlett. I wanted to be Scarlett when I grew up. Thank goodness we do not always realize our childhood dreams.
I also wanted to be He-Man, but She-Ra held absolutely no appeal.

Those cartoons have aged really badly, though - I watched a couple of episodes recently and was struck by how shoddy the animation looks now.

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Serge, #194: Hey, I won't be stuck behind the table this time! Maybe we can actually have that hot chocolate (or, given the weather, iced chai).

KeithS, #197: I can't be the only person who looks at that name and thinks "Wolfram & Hart", can I?

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Pendrift & 198... I also wanted to be He-Man, but She-Ra held absolutely no appeal

When my wife was working at the California State Banking Dept, she and her homosexual co-worker came up with the Adventures of She-man.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:55 AM:

Lee @ 199... I didn't know you were going to FiestaCon too. Good, very good. Chocolate or iced chai? Well, considering that it rained cats and dogs and hallberds half the time when that Tempe hotel was the site of 2004's fantasy worldcon, we may wind up drinking both.

#202 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 11:56 AM:

re 166: La Dixième Conférence générale des poids et mesures décide de définir l'échelle thermodynamique de température au moyen du point triple de l'eau comme point fixe fondamental, en lui attribuant la température 273,16 degrés Kelvin, exactement.*

Presumably they renamed the unit in 1967 to avoid confusion with that Germano-Dutch/Scottish system, or because foolish consistency is the natural result of holding scientific meetings in Paris.**

*"The reader should note that the official version of this Resolution is the French text."

**Not to mention official texts in French.

#203 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:10 PM:

How can you not love a film that has your werewolf-hounded squaddies barricade themselves into the abandoned farmhouse and then utter the immortal line: "Put the kettle on - we could all do with a brew"?

That is about the only bit, I would say, in which I did not have difficulty suspending my disbelief. If you put a British squaddie on the deep-frozen, toxic surface of Titan, he would not make a brew, but only because he wouldn't be able to get his stove to light in a predominantly methane atmosphere.

#204 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Mez @ 181: Suppose you have a physical system with a variety of possible energy states... for example, a bunch of molecules. They can move around, rotate, vibrate internally. At a given temperature, the statistical average of the proportions of the system in each possible energy state can be calculated -- at absolute zero, everything in the system will be at the lowest possible energy state; as the temperature goes up, things move around more, and statistically, some of the things in the system will spend some time in higher energy states.

The calculation can be done the other way. If you have a system, and you know the statistical proportions of it in various energy states and what those relative energy levels are, you can calculate a temperature. But the calculation assumes that the distribution is normal for the model. If you manage to put the system into a state with a distribution that doesn't fit the model, the calculated temperature can come out as something strange.

One example is a laser crystal which has been pumped full of energy, before the laser emission is triggered. There's a so-called "population inversion" -- the high energy states have much higher populations than they would with a normal distribution for the actual temperature. If one were to calculate the temperature of the system based on the energy states, it would come out negative.

Or at least that's how I remember things from my thermo courses, all those years ago.

#205 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:24 PM:

I recall some of the teaser trails for Dog Soldiers. They were pretty close to some of the real British Army recruiting adverts of the then-recent past.

Which weapon would you use? [YouTube}

#206 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:26 PM:

You educators and proofreaders and copy-editors have too much fun.

Lately I've been helping a friend, who occasionally writes articles for one of the big online blogs but can't spell worth a ****, by giving the posts a superficial cleanup of egregious spelling errors and misplaced commas and apostrophes and such.

Today's gem: "[A person] confessed how never before that day had she ever experienced an organism."

who just realized that "big online blog"
is probably one of those thingies, whatever they're called, the opposite of an oxymoron.

#207 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:42 PM:

Went to my little sister's school choral performance. Apart from the singing it wasn't too bad; though the repeated use of the line, "There were many children who lived by many, various, rivers," was a bit painful.

#208 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 01:28 PM:

Open threadiness (Ta-Nehisi commented on this):

Republicans losing essentially everyone. This is f--king amazing. The Bush/Cheney administration has done for the GOP what they did for Iraq[1].

At one level, this is very good news--it demonstrates that all the horrible, stupid, destructive crap the Republicans did over the last eight years caught up with them eventually. It may serve as a lesson to powerful politicians to think carefully about how they govern when they have power.

But at another level, it's deeply disturbing, because I think it's partly the result of a kind of feedback loop going on within the Republican party. As the party shrinks, more extreme views become the path to power within the party, and still more moderates or just plain sensible people are pushed out. They're kind-of on their way to being just the party of torture and hating gays. But nobody can know what the next few years will bring. There is plenty of opportunity out there for a disaster that will destroy Obama's presidency and bring the Republicans back into the white house and Congress in the next few years--think about what happens if the economy re-tanks, and by 2011, we're looking at 20% unemployment. Those guys can end up back in power, with a party leadership that has been selected almost entirely for being wild-eyed zealots.

[1] I am convinced that there is more to the story of how Bush, Rove, and Cheney exercised such amazing power over the Republican party than we've yet heard. I hope to hear that story someday. I suspect that Cheney's role as the head of the VP search committee is a key part of this--he may have gotten some amazing blackmail information from getting all kinds of high-level Republicans to spill all their embarrassing secrets to him. (If so, this may explain part of why the McCain campaign didn't do a very good job on checking the background of their VP choice.) I also suspect very strongly that, at least once they were in the white house, some very seriously illegal use of wiretaps and other domestic spying was involved, though I'll admit I have only hints in news stories to support that.

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 01:35 PM:

albatross @ 208... There is plenty of opportunity out there for a disaster that will destroy Obama's presidency and bring the Republicans back into the white house and Congress

Plenty of opportunity, plus the People having no memory.

#210 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:06 PM:

#198: I am more familiar with the 70's GI Joe Adventure Team: Five Rugged Men with Lifelike Hair! And they take their orders from this man: The Adventure Team Talking Commander!

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:27 PM:

All right, folks, you asked for it. Here is the early 1960s ad for GI Joe, which I'm old enough to remember. I'm also old enough to remember when there were new Beatles songsd on the radio, but I digress.

#212 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Serge #209:

Memory or no, let the current clstrfck in Afghanistan and Pakistan go badly enough, combined with 20% unemployment and another wave of bank collapses, and the Democrats will be looking at very bleak prospects for 2012. So will the country, if the kind of people who can get power in the current Republican party are still in leadership positions.

#213 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:01 PM:

#198: Cartoon Network (Adult Swim dept.) ran "G.I. Joe: Resolute" a few weeks back. Script by Warren Ellis. I never saw more than five minutes of the old cartoon, but I like this one.

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:02 PM:

albtatross @ 122... Agreed. My point was that, if the situation in Afghanistan gets even worse under a Democrat, the People have such a lousy memory that they'll throw the Democrat out and vote in the same political party - and possibly the same incompetents - that badly handled things from the word go. I'll be quite happy to be proven wrong.

#215 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Well, I have my first carpet torn out. And I have a water meter! The ex-carpet's absence is already improving air quality.

Only four to go.

#216 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:15 PM:

Serge @211. thanks.

Apart from changing the name, that's exactly how the initial release of Action Man looked.

I don't recall any TV adverts, here in England.

#217 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Open thready linguistics: I just opened my door to find a guy painting it. In the ensuing conversation, he twice used the phrase "touch [the door] in", by context meaning the same as the phrase I learned as "touch [it] up". Has anyone else heard this variation of this phrase?

#218 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Dave @80 --
It's not that there's no human contact in the transaction; it's that there's too much, and too little non-mercantile contact outside the screen.

QVC has a spectacular Christmas special that is nothing but the hucksters sitting posed by the fire, opening sumptuously-wrapped packages, embracing their supposed loved ones, and pulling the audience into their circle of intimacy. they explicitly cast their legion of salespeople as a family, just waiting for the audience's sled to come over the hill and pull into the mansion driveway for a visit.

For lonely people it was like holiday crack, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised that their sales exploded the next day. Those cable stores know who they're selling to, what those buyers need emotionally, and just how vulnerable they are to a friendly spokesperson and trained customer service agents. Bet they're so plush they don't even outsource internationally....

#219 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 04:27 PM:

What better place to talk about my dream last night than an open thread, particularly since one of the people here was in it?

I was with my mother in Amsterdam Noord, looking for something amusing and touristy to do, when Serge turned up as captain and sole sailor on a (very small) ship. It was square-sailed and about the size of Vizzini's vessel in the Princess Bride, but three-decked (poop, forecastle and main).

So we got on board, and sailed up onto an aquaeduct that soared above the water, up toward a rocky promontory that lay to the west of the city. Then Serge had the tricky task of steering us down the narrow, winding channel (rather like a large flume) that led down from our aquaeduct to the city built on the rock.

Then the dream moved on, but that was the neat part.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 04:41 PM:

abi @ 219... Wow.

#221 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 05:32 PM:

Sherlock Holmes, Steampunk Action Hero!

Hooboy. I think it looks like fun -- but it's going to make the arguments about the new Star Trek look like one big happy family. If you think Trekkies are fanatical, you've never met the Baker Street Irregulars!

And for some reason, that soundtrack music keeps mutating into Eroica in my head...

#222 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 05:48 PM:

Lee @221:
it's going to make the arguments about the new Star Trek look like one big happy family.

If it turns out to be as much of Withnail and Watson as it looks from the trailer, yes indeed it will be controversial.

#223 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:06 PM:

David Harmon @217 -- The painters I know use the phrase "cut [whatever] in" to mean painting around the edges and corners in detail mode, so that the main expanses can be painted quickly with rollers or spray or similar.

My experience is that cutting in all the parts of even a simple room take longer than painting all the flat surfaces.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:40 PM:


"Holmes! Does your depravity know no bounds?!"

#225 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:49 PM:

eric @#223: Ah, thanks! Given my hearing-loss, It's not surprising I interpolated "touch" for "cut".* And yes, he was gesturing at the edges and the (as-yet unpainted) area around the brass numbers.

*: My hearing loss is the majority type, affecting mostly the higher frequencies. Half-heard words get reduced to vowels, those being lower pitched than consonants.

#226 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 08:49 PM:

Serge @ 194:

I've finally had a chance to look at your journal. I'll probably have to stop by at least the pun panel.

#227 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 09:59 PM:

So I've started a house blog, where I hope to regale the Internet with pictures and stories about The House. And yeah, for once I decided just to go with somebody else's solution. Whittling things yourself from a block of Perl is fun, but at the moment, I have enough stuff to do.

#228 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Serge@202: rain in Tempe during \which/ "2004's fantasy worldcon"? I don't remember any rain during the WFC in 2004 (Halloween) -- and I would have had good cause to, as I was the one who suggested holding the mass autographing in the courtyard due to lack of space indoors (, and walking to dinner every night, and walking up the lump of rock behind ASU, ...).

All: it's possible that I misremembered the distinction between the discoverer of thioacetone describing it as "essence of catpiss" and its actual presence. However, the stories bear out my recollection that it is the smelliest known chemical; fascinating to hear how many people had to prove this separately.

And a repeat of an unanswered query from another thread: can anyone say, in rot13 if they think it's a spoiler, just what about the last chapter of Anathem inverts the whole sense of the book? I'm looking at this year's Hugo nominees and not being blown away by any of them, so comments about what I'm missing would be appreciated. (My take was that Stephenson let the infodumps take over the asylum -- he's come close before, but usually herds them better than here.)

#229 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 10:45 PM:

CHip @ 228 ...
However, the stories bear out my recollection that it is the smelliest known chemical; fascinating to hear how many people had to prove this separately.

Well, of course -- you've got a large assembly of literate, obsessive, communicative (and commutative?) geeks of one sort or another :D

#231 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 12:18 AM:

CHip @228,

My take on Anathem's book-changing reveal:

V'q zragvbarq va nabgure guernq gung V'q orra gbyq (Fgrjneg Oenaq vagebqhpvat Arny ng gur YbatAbj Nangurz gnyx) gung "gur ynfg puncgre pbagnvaf fbzrguvat ovt, punatvat gur ragver zrnavat bs gur obbx jura lbh ernq vg gur frpbaq gvzr, juvpu lbh'yy vzzrqvngryl jnag gb qb."

Tvira gung nqivpr, guebhtubhg zl svefg ernqvat V gevrq gb fhff bhg gur ovt zlfgrel, naq qvqa'g frr vg hagvy gur ynfg puncgref. Gung gur pbapragf jrer fgnegrq nf cevfbaf naq gung gur ynpx bs grpuabybtl jnf vzcbfrq sebz gur bhgfvqr va nggrzcgf gb fgbc gur npghnyyl-onq-riragf eryngrq gb gur svefg guebhtu guveq fnpxf: gubfr qvq punatr gur zrnavat qhevat gur 2aq ernq. (Gur pybfrfg V pnzr gb svthevat bhg gur zlfgrel jnf jbaqrevat jul gur gubhfnaqref jrer xrrcvat ahpyrne jnfgr, ohg rira gurer V qvqa'g nffbpvngr gur ahpyrne jnfgr jvgu jul gurfr guerr pbapragf fheivirq gur guveq fnpx.)

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:07 AM:

KeithS @ 226... Do drop by. I'm not sure what approach the punference will take. For example, will we have one of us come up with a starting point and see everything go downhill from there? I have to get in touch with the other punelist.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:12 AM:

CHip @ 228... If I remember correctly, it rained the first day of the 2004 fantasy worldcon. The con's start was still a few hours away, which is probably why our recollections our different. What I remember was my unloading stuff from our minivan while getting soaked. That being said, will you be at Fiestacon/Westercon?

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:20 AM:

Oops... The above should read "...why our recollections are different..."

#235 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:24 AM:

Serge @ 232:

Downhill, uphill, I'm not sure it matters. I do know It'll be a bit rocky for me, as most of the ones that I can come up with on short notice are rather morainic and sillty.

#236 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 02:33 AM:

albatross @ 208: "Those guys can end up back in power, with a party leadership that has been selected almost entirely for being wild-eyed zealots."

I don't think this is as big a danger as you suggest--the only way Republicans could return to power is by reabsorbing the moderates who are currently fleeing the party. They'd never support the crazies: the crazies are why they're leaving. They would only support a Republican candidate who made a convincing pretense of having learned from Bushco's mistakes, and ran on a healthily moderate platform. Romney, say. At the same time, there's no way a moderate could capture the Republican nomination, because the crazies are currently so powerful. Catch-22.

Even in the face of an utter Democratic collapse I can't see people turning back to the GOP in large numbers. It took people a long time to realize how bad the Republicans are, and I don't think they'll forget any quicker.* I'd guess a Democratic collapse will function as Nader's argument from 2000 writ large: Democrats are failures, and the Republicans are overtly evil. At that point, I'd be guessing that an Independent (or Progressive Party, or Libertarian Party) candidate would be more likely to win than a Republican.

*My guess is the current cohort of 18-29 year olds are going to be solidly anti-Republican (as opposed to solidly Democratic) their whole lives.

#237 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:24 AM:

Two things for future Republicanism: first, the mass media seem to control more of perceptions that is comfortable. Look at how many people blame Clinton for the ills which a Republican-controlled Congress missed.

Second, a lack of impeachment may blur some of the distinctions. Some people already wonder what the Dem-leadership knew, and why they appear scared of acting. I think we're still at the stage where silent preparation is a sound strategy, and the issue is being kept alive, but something has to happen eventually.

It's the mid-terms which are going to matter.

#238 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 04:59 AM:

221, 222: as I may have ranted elsewhere, every Sherlock Holmes film so far has got Holmes and Watson wrong by making them far too old. Watson makes it very clear at the start of "Study in Scarlet" how old he is: he qualified as a doctor, went straight into the army, then to Afghan the next year, and then back to London with a jezail bullet in his leg and a serious case of PTSD the year after that. Watson is, at most, 26. And also tough as old boots, a complete gun nut (Eley's No. 2 service revolver), and a notable hit with the ladies. Having him played as some sort of grey-moustached buffer is like having Prince Hal played by a fifty-year-old.
Holmes is a similar age: Watson never remarks on him being significantly older, and he's studying at the university (with no previous employment mentioned). He's a permanent postgraduate student. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are just right for the roles - if anything they're too old.

#239 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:49 AM:

IN the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.

That's the opening of A Study in Scarlet and nails down Watson pretty well.

His Last Bow apparently suggests Holmes is born in 1854. Which might make him a year or two older than Watson, but no more.

#240 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 07:58 AM:

It doesn't strike me as silly to look at Conan Doyle's medical education to judge Watson's timing. Conan Doyle was born in 1859, and graduated from Edinburgh University in 1881.

Watson's 1878 graduation suggests a birth year of 1856, which would mean he is younger than Holmes.

I trust we shall all take a moment on Friday to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Conan Doyle's birth.

#241 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:09 AM:

KeithS, #195: I think the people who are responsible for the GI Joe film are hoping for money from the people who fondly remember watching the cartoon show from the '80s. I'm not sure this is a good plan.

I fondly remember watching the cartoon show from the '80s--it was my favorite show when I was eight or nine years old--and I'm not interested in the movie at all. Dammit, G.I. Joe ought to be made of Village People, not Starship Troopers. And it's not the same without a guy who precisely resembles Jack Nicholson from The Last Detail with a talking parrot sidekick.

Last week I came across a description on a blog that explained why this was my favorite show when I was eight:

And the cartoon had, among other things: a talking parrot, approximately forty billion laser beams color-coded by side, a tribe of shapechangers, an alien race living beneath the earth, an army of robots that would make Cylons jealous, a vampire youth machine, Atlanteans, a giant blob which the Joes killed by throwing apples at it, a trip to a parallel universe where some of the team found their own bodies, sea serpents, Cobra trying to steal Alaska because of some technicality regarding a seal, giant energy-sucking cubes of dark matter, a bio-dome in the Antarctic, a device that vaporized all of the world’s money, ghost warriors, a magic conch shell that hypnotized men but not women, time-traveling to ancient Greece, the Baroness disguising herself as a chunky fat guy not once but four separate times, Destro attempting to take over the world with giant vegetables, Cobra shrinking its entire army to miniscule size and hiding in toys given away to needy children, the Egyptian god Set, Cobra setting up its own television channel and trying to take over the world with propaganda, dinosaur stampedes, an evil clone of the talking parrot, subliminal messages in rock songs, a crime telethon, and Sgt. Slaughter.

I think, even today, I'd still want to see a movie like that.

#242 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:14 AM:

And, continuing the medical theme...

In Australia, a surgeon has carried out an emergency operation with a household electric drill.

BBC report here.

I reckon a lot of things went right, but note how the doctor could be in contact with a neurosurgeon.

A long time ago, I recall a TV series about ambulances with what seened to be incredible amounts of medical telemetry gear, so that, as the patient was rushed to hospital, doctors could ghuide the ambulance crew to the correct emergency treatment.

Good EMT training is likely more effective, but we're all a lot less alone that we used to be.

#243 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:58 AM:

KeithS @ 235... most of the ones that I can come up with on short notice are rather morainic and sillty

Mine will probably be igneouble.

#244 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:00 AM:

Dave Bell @ 242 ...
"He needed it like a hole in his head" takes on a whole new meaning...

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:00 AM:

Regarding Doyle(*)'s famous literary creation... I'll confess that, while it's not canon, I like Young Sherlock Holmes.

(*) Conan, not Debra

#246 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:02 AM:

Dave Bell @ 242

Jim Macdonald can probably tell us more, but I do know that there were 3 emergency appendectomies performed aboard US submarines during WWII, all by Pharmacists Mates (what were later called corpsmen), all successful.

#247 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:49 AM:

246: I still remember the hair-raising LRRPS lecture on "Primitive Medicine"... complete with examples from the Korean War and WW2 of razor-blade surgery, human-hair sutures, and downed pilots improvising braces for their broken backs from debris and then crawling forty miles to friendly lines.

#248 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:52 AM:

243: now, now, Serge. Play gneiss with the other kids.

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:56 AM:

ajay @ 248... Humph. I feel unappreciated, taken for granite.

#250 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:01 AM:

Serge @245, with a name like "Conan Doyle" you have to wonder if the other writer has the initials REH.

"Watson, we may have identified the miscreant, but I hardly think this investigation was a success."

"I say, Holmes, how do you define a successful investigation?"

"Why, it is when you crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women."

Holmes had a strange look in his eyes which, combined with his words, signalled to me that something was very wrong. No doubt, he would soon resort to quaffing. I made mental note of the position on the unbrella stand.

[From: The Mystery of the Barbarian Swordsman]

#251 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:08 AM:

Serge @249: Take hard and be tuff. I'm sure you'll slate them with your volcanic wit and their stony faces will metamorphose.

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:10 AM:

Dave Bell @ 250... "When you eliminate the impossible with a sword, then whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

#253 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:11 AM:

Puns are back on the slate. What a surprise! We seem to have an endless ability to cobble together puns on the smallest pretext. Prepare to be basalted by puns for the next few rounds. All I esker of you is to try to head off in new directions, there is fertile soil to till — so stop sitting on your duff.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:12 AM:

Pendrift @ 251... Or Ill become quarry and be schist out of the con.

#255 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:16 AM:

As a treat after an afternoon of car-dealing (GMAC's gummint deal has not imporved its interest rates, despite what you may have heard on TV, and if you, like my housemate, have made the mistake of not having credit cards and paying for most things smaller than a car as you go, you will be treated as a deadbeat with a sucktastic credit score), we went and saw Angels and Demons.
A notice in the credits, rather like the Humane Society notice that no animals were injured during the course of the film, to the effect that no actual priceless and irreplaceable works of art or architecture were damaged or destroyed during the course of the film might have been in order.

Make sure your Suspension of Disbelief™ has been taking its vitamins and is wearing its comfy shoes, because it'll get a workout, like that was news to anyone here. Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård are good, though, and Ayelet Zurer is not hopeless.

#256 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:26 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 227:

Glad to see you're blogging the house experience. I'm definitely interested in how it's going to come out.

Wesley @ 241:

That's a film I could get behind watching.

Serge @ 254:

You're not that erratic.

#257 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:41 AM:

Speaking of credit cards, a bunch of companies are jacking up their rates and fees to get in under the wire before credit reform legislation is signed into law. Too bad they probably won't make the law retroactive to, say, a decade or so.

#258 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:53 AM:

252: well, the basic plot of "The Speckled Band" would still work, just with a ...slightly larger snake.

"...thither came Holmes, consulting detective, amateur violinist, with gigantic melancholy and a serious cocaine habit, to crush the thrones of the world beneath the wheels of his hansom cab."

#259 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:55 AM:

254: don't worry, I'm sure they'll decide to be magmanimous.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:58 AM:

Wesley @ 241... a magic conch shell that hypnotized men but not women

There's got to be a dirty joke in there.

As for the rest, I agree with KeithS. I'd pay to watch a movie like that. Come to think of it, that's pretty close to what a Girl Genius movie would feel like if the adaptation were very faithful to the source material. Except for the parrot's evil clone. There is no parrot's evil clone in Girl Genius.

#261 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:59 AM:


I'm sure they'll be lavaing it...

#262 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:22 AM:

Serge @ 260: Well, Gil was supposed to be apprenticed to a pirate king. Alas, Von Pinn was slightly hard of hearing, and mistakenly took him off into the jungle for an entirely different apprenticeship. Squawwwwk!

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 262... A description of Girl Genius would sound crackpot even without the Weasel Queen, or Krosp the Cat, or Paul McCartney in the sewers, or the Phantom of the Opera who tried to abduct Zola the dancing girl in Paris. Or the jaegers. Or the hats. Or the organ-house on legs.

#264 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Did anyone here watch "Nova" on PBS last night? Very cool show where the indie rock musician (and math ignoramus) son of the guy who invented the many/parallel worlds theory explored his late father's life, throwing in some music along the way. Well, I liked it, at any rate.

#265 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Photo essay in lieu of actual participation: Charging Forward by Jay Labor.

#266 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Abi @ 219:

Can I borrow your dream tonight?

"The Princess Bride," as either book or movie,* is one of my favorite doses of happy humor.

*Yes, they're different, but the differences are in good ways!

#267 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Thanks folks for the condolences -- Mom and I have been playing, "If we'd only done ______, we might have saved her" a zero sum game if ever there was one.

Mom wrote a thank you note and made a batch of brownies for the staff at the vet clinic. Jan dropped it off this morning. Jan spent some time talking to the techs...

Seems like this is a rough Spring all around, one tech's mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer (smoker), the prognosis is poor, and the lady has 2 Yorkies. The tech asked Jan if she thought Mom would be interested, should they have to find homes for the little maybe when the Gods closed the door they opened a window.

I'm so glad all of you are here...

#268 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:13 PM:

heresiarch @ 236:

I wish I thought you were right, but I just got the long-expected e-mail complaining about Obama's Speech in Turkey.

Here's the substance:

"President Barack Obama said in Turkey : "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
I found this very interesting."

It went on to list all of the preambles to all the states in the nation, which all give some formulation of a "Supreme Deity" as the invocation to the constitutions.

Mind you, this was sent to me by a middle-aged person who is incredibly inclusive of all faiths and national origins, but listens to too much talk radio and is too likely to forward e-mails.

When I asked to be left off the mailing lists to such e-mails, pointing out the probable political reasons he made that speech in Turkey, the fact that they tend to implicitly stigmatize people who aren't Christian, and that, besides, the 1st Amendment renders them legally moot, this person responded that the preambles were inclusive -- they didn't mention the Christian God.

To end the conversation, I had to list all the groups of polytheists and anamists (not to mention atheists) the preambles do exclude, along with a brief recap of the history of the Establishment/Religious Liberty clauses of the Bill of Rights.

I only mention this because this person is 1) the holder of a Master's Degree, and 2) of a demographic that votes in every election.

As long as the Republicans can continue to undermine *people who should be on our side because they share "our" values this way,* don't count them out of the running.

#269 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Could we not just tell Serge he rocks and have done with?

#270 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:52 PM:

ajay: I take your point (re age), but also, I disagree. Putting aside, for the moment, the amazing breadth of Holmes knowledge, we have the secondary problem the stories are, apart from the first two, rarely possessed of any specific place in time.

The last of them takes place some 30 years (or more) after the first (with Holmes in a motor car, stopping something in the time frame of WW1. Some of the Mycroft stories are plainly later in the century (The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans: His Last Bow).

So one has to balance that question against the issues of continuity (if one is planning to make more than one film/show).

Which brings us back to the question of Holmes amazing breadth of knowlege. In a man of early middle-age it's amazing, and credible.

Give it to a young man of 25, and it quickly takes over. One doesn't have a brilliant detective, one has a precocious genius. The sense of wonder is very differently engaged. When reading the stories the lack of real identifiers for Holmes' (or Watson's) actual age; combined with them being recollections) means the reader may ascribe any age they like; which is how the question of Holmes being such a prodigy never obtrudes.

This isn't possible on the stage. To be honest, the Jeremy Brett series probably did it about as well as could be done. Yes, Watson was too old, but we've become accustomed to that sort of, "country doctor (even though he has a City practice) look to Watson. Holmes was a semi-ageless man of indeterminate adulthood. Maybe 35, maybe 45, all in keeping with the "chapter not a page" needs of a series based on a series.

#271 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:55 PM:

If this accretion of geologic puns doesn't become metamorphic to another topic we're going to get some flinty-stares. It seems elementary to me the only way to avoid that is to achieve a gold standard, lest we be undercut and the erosion of faith in our ability to keep a good sequence of wordplay.

#272 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 02:02 PM:

Regarding the emergency trepanning: What I got from that is, 1: I love technology (because it made it easier for the doctor to do the job; though one likes to think he could have done it anyway).

2: Wear a helmet when riding a bike, etc.

3: Monitor head injuries.

#273 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Lori Coulson #267: Mom and I have been playing, "If we'd only done ______, we might have saved her" a zero sum game if ever there was one.

No kidding... and I wouldn't bet that anything could have saved her -- I suspect that teacup breeds are intrinsically fragile.

#274 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 02:47 PM:

Dave Bell @ 237:

Look at how many people blame Clinton for the ills which a Republican-controlled Congress missed.

You misspelled "Pelosi."

See also: Obama recession.

As for yet another Transformers-style summer blockbuster abomination based on not-particularly-deep source material: Well, at least this "G.I. Joe" one helps Christopher Eccleston keep body and soul together. (Though I'm slightly disappointed that he isn't wearing Destro's metal mask. Yet.)

#275 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Serge @ 260: There is no parrot's evil clone in Girl Genius.


#276 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:15 PM:

Systematic child abusers in religious institutions will escape punishment.
The findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions - in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

Police were called to the commission's news conference amid angry scenes as victims were prevented from attending. One of the many victims, John Walsh of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said the absence of prosecutions had left him feeling "cheated and deceived".

"I would have never opened my wounds if I'd known this was going to be the end result," he said. "It has devastated me and will devastate most victims because there are no criminal proceedings and no accountability whatsoever."

... I have no words.

#277 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:15 PM:

KeithS @ 275... The problem is that you can't have a parrot's evil clone show up in a story before the parrot has. Can you?

#278 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:17 PM:

I'm trying to find, preferably online, something that will help me renew my knowledge of French. I studied it for years in high school, but most of it has fallen out of my head since then. Languages being what they are, I imagine I'll pick it up again quickly, but everything I can find is Rosetta-Stone-like in that it will teach me phrases rather than the stuff I really need. I want something that's going to give me quizzes on the difference between past-perfect and passé composé, but what I keep finding is how to count money and tell a Parisian taxi-driver that I want to go to the Louvre...

#279 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Lee @ 276:

That's disgusting and sad. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not.

Serge @ 277:

I don't see why not, unless the evil clone shows up before the original is born and the story doesn't involve time travel.

#280 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Think you're all tuff? I'm gonna pumice you good.

#281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:27 PM:


There are the seeds of a diabolical revenge story in there. Protagonist, a detective. Victims, the former victimizers.

#282 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:29 PM:


And, of course, time travel DOES exist in the Girl Genius comicverse.

#283 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Carrie S. @ 278:

The way that I, personally, would go about doing it is to sit down with something you want to read, such as a Tintin collection, and a dictionary. It won't necessarily teach you the finer points of grammar, but you'll be able to read. A good English/French dictionary will have a bit of a grammar reference in the front or the back.

Then again, there's always this phrasebook.

#284 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Carrie S. @ 278, what about a plain old textbook? ClassZone offers online resources (such as quizzes), sorted by the textbooks used in your state (although obviously you need not stick to your own state).

I also found a full online college-level French course from University of Texas -- lessons, quizzes, etc. This might be more what you are looking for. (In fact, I'm bookmarking that for myself. I miss French.)

I recommend googling something like "online french textbook."

#285 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:40 PM:

KeithS @ 283, I have a Lonely Planet French phrasebook in which one chapter starts out on a date, progresses to the bedroom, and then ends with how to conduct an argument about condom usage and how to kick someone out when they won't use one.

(It's amusing to read aloud, but in reality, it's a very useful chapter. If you need to tell someone you won't do it without a condom, you really need to be able to tell them that.)

#286 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Today is Gareth's first birthday! Happy Eliza Dolittle Day!

Oh, and the puns are quite gneiss.

#287 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:45 PM:

KeithS @#283: I am familiar with Zompist, and remember enough of my French to be aware of what those phrases really say. :)

Caroline @#284: Textbook! What a great idea. I hadn't even thought of it. A college-level course is probably more than I'm looking for; I don't recall enough to jump in with both feet quite yet.

#288 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Laurie King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books seem to make Holmes ~50 during or immediately after WW I (as I recall; somebody correct me if I'm misremembering). Since Russell was about 14 when she met him, that was initially off-putting for me, but after the second book I forgot about the age differential.

#289 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Lee: when an institution has any kind of power, it will be corrupt eventually. The Roman Catholic Church has been corrupt for a long, long time, and will never cleanse itself because the people who make the decisions are the beneficiaries of the corruption.

This is why the founders of OUR nation found it so critical to maintain separation of church and state. The influence of the Church in Ireland is clearly pernicious, but how could it be otherwise? A poisoned tree bears only poisoned fruit.

I suggest that if the Christian Brothers refuse to bring their criminal members up to face justice, and the government is cooperating in their obstruction, then a) all the Christian Brothers should be considered equally blameworthy (any with a shred of ethics would renounce the order after such an outrage) and therefore b) any Christian Brother you meet should be treated as if you KNEW he was a child molester, and c) the government that allowed this travesty should be brought down as soon as possible.

Of course, that's for the people of Ireland to decide. I hope they deal harshly with the government, and treat all Christian Brothers as pariahs.

Since the CBs won't name names, the victims should. Of course, many of the worst perps are probably already in hell (wish I believed in it).

#290 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 04:08 PM:

Carrie S. @278: One of the most effective ways is to chat or swap emails in French. My French improved considerably over a few months this way - I'd send a friend emails in French, and he'd correct the grammar and the expressions in brackets. Meanwhile, he'd send me messages in English and I'd do the same thing. I also practiced on French-language chatrooms for a while, and that helped a lot too.

Back in the 90s, the hardest part was finding people who chatted in proper French, and I don't know if it's improved since. The use of text message shorthand on French forums and sites is much more prevalent than it is in English.

Sites like My Language Exchange can help you hook up with people who want to do language swaps, although I haven't used it in years.

I used to teach French as a foreign language, feel free to drop me a line!

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 04:15 PM:

B Durbin @ 286... the puns are quite gneiss

Asbestos we can make them.

Congrats to Garth!

#292 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 04:18 PM:

Let's write our own French phrasebook:

Au bon pain.      It hurts so good.

Coq au vin.      A truck that delivers chocolate.

Jejune.      "I am Spring."

#294 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 05:41 PM:

Carrie S. @ 287, it looks like by college-level they mean French 101, so it would probably work out for someone like you, who has studied French before but is rusty.

#295 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Xopher @ 292:

English: Do you have any matches?
French: Mon aéroglisseur est plein des anguilles.

See, easy.

#296 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:11 PM:

Xopher: I suggest that if the Christian Brothers refuse to bring their criminal members up to face justice, and the government is cooperating in their obstruction, then a) all the Christian Brothers should be considered equally blameworthy (any with a shred of ethics would renounce the order after such an outrage) and therefore b) any Christian Brother you meet should be treated as if you KNEW he was a child molester

Seems entirely reasonable. This reminds me that 15 or so years ago some friends of ours, who were heavily tatooed and pierced, had drummed it into their young daughter that if ever she got lost she should seek out someone who looked like them to help her. Probably good advice, in retrospect. If I had kids I'd tell them to keep well away from 'men of the cloth'. Like it or not, events have shown there are more child molesters among their number than there appear to be in the general population.

#297 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:18 PM:

KeithS: Моё судно на воздушной подушке полно угрей.

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:23 PM:

Also, A légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal.

#299 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 06:26 PM:

Not to mention: Tá m'árthach foluaineach lán d'eascainn.

#300 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Lee #276: You expect the Church in Ireland to be punished? Even after years of revelations of malfeasance, torture, rape, and child abuse? That would require a massive reassessment and reordering of the national identity first.

#301 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Xopher @ 282...

Au bon pain. - It hurts so good.
I think your Universal Translator needs to be rebooted.

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 07:54 PM:

"I am become Dirt, coverer of worlds."

#303 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 07:56 PM:

Oy, Serge, and of my definition of coq au vin you say nothing? You wound me, sir!

#304 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:00 PM:

Malice aforethought indeed.

#305 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:21 PM:

Xopher @ 303... Lest you be further wounded, to the quick or to the slow... I can't figure out how the Universal Translator managed to turn 'coq au vin' into 'truck that delivers chocolate'.

#306 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Oh, man, you beat me to Hungarian. Cad.

I'm discovering so far that blogging about The House is so easy it's a question of stopping. First time I ever ran into that problem. Of course, this is only day 2.

#307 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:35 PM:

Joel Polowin

I thought Gil ended up apprenticed to a pilot, which explains why he's so good at flying an airship.

Wait, didn't Bangladesh Dupree have a parrot?

#308 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Xopher @ a whole bunch of places:

I keep meaning to learn to at least read Russian. I can read about half the alphabet, which doesn't actually help with about 3/4 of the words. I was thinking about asking my boss how to say it in Hungarian, but it looks like you beat me to that as well.

#309 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:43 PM:

Serge @305: vin = van. I guess.

Et qui rit des Curies d'Oc?

#310 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:50 PM:

You've all seen what happens when you feed Babefish's output back into itself, right?

#311 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Fragano, #300: Not the Church itself (though by sheltering the perpetrators it becomes equally culpable), but the people who actively partook in the actions of rape and abuse. What boggles me is the bit about "successfully sued to have their identities concealed"! I think at this point the victims have every right to name their abusers and demand that they be prosecuted.

#312 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Terry Karney, #270: Which brings us back to the question of Holmes amazing breadth of knowlege. In a man of early middle-age it's amazing, and credible.

Give it to a young man of 25, and it quickly takes over.

According to Conan Doyle, he already had it by then. "The 'Gloria Scott'" is Holmes's narrative of his "first case," taken to him by a fellow student. Calling it a "case" is a stretch--Holmes doesn't actually solve anything so much as read some documents his friend finds in a cabinet--but earlier he has the chance to demonstrate his "I know everything about you" parlor trick and he's already scarily good at it.

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:20 PM:

Serge, pronounce 'coq au vin' in French. Listen to it in English. Vg pbzrf bhg fbhaqvat yvxr "pbpbn ina."

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:39 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 309... Xopher @ 313...

'vin' --> 'van'?
Bon sang, mais c'est bien sûr!
('Doh!' in English.)

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:43 PM:

KeithS @ 310...

'I like my friends' became 'master to the friend with me'.
I knew I shouldn't have bought that translator from Harry Mudd.

This reminds me of something that I think Fred Pohl wrote some years ago, where he had someone translate one of his stories from Chinese back into English and published both versions in a collection of his. It's my understanding that the differences were interesting.

#316 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Serge @277,KeithS @279: I don't get the negativity; we never hear about the good clones.

#317 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:30 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 316:

Of course we do, they're just not called out as clones. There's so much of a stigma attached to cloning, you see, that the good clones don't really like to admit it. If someone does notice, the good clone will inevitably try to cover with the good twin/evil twin angle instead. It's not perfect, but what else can you do?

Now, there have been a few exceptions to this. Dolly the sheep was, by all accounts, a good clone and quite the pride of her research center. They did get lucky with Dolly, but despite media reports, she wasn't the first. In order to not be tainted by cloning hysteria, they destroyed all the records of their previous cloned sheep, Daisy. There's really nothing worse than a cloned sheep gone baaaad.

#318 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:33 PM:

King is pretty clear on the point that Holmes was still quite young when he began his career as an investigator. I don't recall offhand what her timeline is, but it's pretty much on Conan Doyle's schedule, IIRC.

#319 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:33 PM:

It's probably a really bad idea to feed bits of the Necronomicon into the Babelizer, isn't it? Nonetheless:

The great holes excavate, where pori of the track must sufficiently be and the well-educated things, like which go, that must crawl.
#320 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Wesley: I know Doyle gives it to him in his early years. He can, Holmes is a fictive person, Doyle needs him to be that clever/educated/syncretic for the stories to work.

But for the audience, Holmes age is best left in the misty realms of, "adult". The recollective aspects are just that... "this is what I was like," but they don't have the visceral power that seeing a callow youth be that brilliant will have.

I note that Doyle said he based Holmes on a professor of his, who did the "Afghanistan I presume" trick on Doyle when they met, analysing his habits from his shirt cuffs and his watch.

Xopher: I see it now, but in my mind I don't think of "cocoa" as "chocolate".

#321 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Let's play "guess the original." Here's an easy one to start:

Where they disappear it, it does not have anything. I only remain.

#322 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:01 PM:

1. In a hole in the track main a bit of the title lived here.
2. E-I polished to the process in the great entrance of main information to the end.
3. Much stay, to the time does far in a galaxy, far.
4. Also because you' Straight its pagination doesn' It cuts T-they' of the piece in addition; Straight its pagination.
5. Known like, what you would mean. Witnesses. Reiterieren.

#323 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:04 PM:

Xopher @ 321:

Whee, I can actually get this one. Gur Yvgnal ntnvafg srne sebz Qhar.

#324 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:24 PM:

KeithS: Correct!

#325 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:34 PM:

3: N ybat gvzr ntb, va n tnynkl sne, sne njnl

#326 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:36 PM:

Xopher: Ah, I see I misunderstood the game.

#327 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:40 PM:

No, that's what I intended. But identifying the source will do too.

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:42 PM:

I really sort of couldn't believe #4. I would never get the answer to that one if I didn't already know it.

#329 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 11:52 PM:

#1 looks like "Va n ubyr va gur tebhaq gurer yvirq n uboovg." #5: "Fnl jung lbh zrna. Orne jvgarff. Vgrengr."

#330 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Oh, "bit of the title" wasn't translated! I see.

#331 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:17 AM:

Joel, right and right. The "a bit of the title" part doesn't make any sense, unless you read the whole progression. Even then it doesn't make MUCH sense.

Say, isn't anyone else going to play on the production side? And on the guessing side, I don't expect anyone to get #4, but #2 should at least be possible.

Hint on #4: the original is not about pagination, nor does it mention it in any way.

Diatryma, what do you mean?

#332 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:31 AM:

6. Eighteen resources are dezessete; I' preoccupation of ll in you.
7. All have seemed until now my problems yesterday to the left.
8. If hailstorms Maria, those with the beauty, the horseman is full, thee is with that one.
9. One night bewitched determined, you can see a foreigner of a hard space.
10. Much that it demands, a space any relation of processing is distant, of the fresh air the night.

#333 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:32 AM:

I was thinking, "Hole, road, lived, so something live in a hole in the road, but title! King, name, job title, what?"

#334 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:36 AM:

Surely, in any conversation about translation problems, the possibility of this being referred to approaches one? (Possibly it's already happened, sub rosa: Mea navis aëricumbens anguillis abundat.)

#335 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:31 AM:

These were run through my personal preference online translator, through Russian.

11: The pier worked very difficultly, all the morning long, Spring, clearing - few of it home.

12: In a year 1878 I have received a degree from the Doctor of Medicine of University of London, and have continued to Netley to pass a rate ordered for surgeons in army.

13:In the beginning there was a word, and the word was good luck, and the word was the God.

#336 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:34 AM:

Elsewhere: Art imitates Life imitates Art?

A New Zealand couple [from Roturua] are reportedly on the run after $NZ10 million - instead of $NZ10,000 - was mistakenly deposited in their [Westpac] bank account.
(Assorted news stories abound; comments (some context).)

#337 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:35 AM:

It's a pretty good translator:

It should tell only

I have eaten
It was in

And which
You were possibly
For a breakfast.

Forgive to me
They were delightful
So sweet
And so cold.

Which isn't too bad for a back and forth.

#338 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:03 AM:

1. My job, sees moreover, in order to impress you and from the desperations.
2. Perhaps even with something perhaps it is heard, perhaps, if in, if as for me the thing importance which with something is permitted because of the thing, you ask, perhaps without doing me you do not worry that I say, and or so is not, whether the permission is needed, either one does, or.
3. That, regrettable I could not travel 2 these roads both with the yellow tree

#339 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 03:05 AM:

Xopher @ 322: If I had to make a wild guess, which I, er, don't but will anyway, I'd guess gur rnejbez sebz Gur Qrzbyvfurq Zna: 'Grafre', fnvq gur Grafbe; 'grafvba, nccerurafvba, naq qvffrafvba unir ortha.'

Also, there might be something rotten about 'Ida,' the pre-anthropoid Google has recently been featuring in its logo. Not that she's not an amazing find and an authentic fossil, but that those behind her discovery seem to be pushing a bit of an agenda.

#340 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:33 AM:

In the beginning there was a word, and the word was good luck

This I like.

#341 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 08:25 AM:

Terry's #12 is "N Fghql va Fpneyrg", and #13 is gur Ovoyr. Bruce Cohen's #3 is Sebfg'f "Gur Ebnq Yrff Geniryrq".

17. As for that the single person who owns the truth good fortune which is recognized generally the wife being necessary, that it becomes it is. (Japanese)
18. Goes out and in order to live worried is in case, to die. (Korean)
19. Air, without n' import which agitation, the stars left. (French)

#342 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 08:27 AM:

Serge writes at #1315:

This reminds me of something that I think Fred Pohl wrote some years ago, where he had someone translate one of his stories from Chinese back into English and published both versions in a collection of his. It's my understanding that the differences were interesting.

F. Gwynplaine Macintyre translated "The Wizard of Pung's Corner" back from Chinese, and it became "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle," which is fairly amusing. It appears in Pohlstars (1984).

#344 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:51 AM:

Carrie S.'s #17 is Cevqr naq Cerwhqvpr

#345 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:58 AM:

Using Multibabel, I found a sentence that is invariant:

"Broccolo is a vegetable."
(The original was "Broccoli", but the first run through mutated it. Then running that back through was stable.) Some other experiments have yielded stable gibberish "here settembri the week."

"No peace without justice." is also stable.

The order in which the languages in multibabel are applied would make a vast difference to the stable final forms.

I conjecture that declarative statements about abstract ideas are a) the easiest to translate and b) the least useful.

#346 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:04 AM:

#19 is from Gur Avar Ovyyvba Anzrf bs Tbq ol Neguhe Pynexr.

#20 Portone increased

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:04 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 342... So I didn't imagine reading about this. That's a relief. Speaking of the perils of translation... Whenever I watch a French movie that somehow made it to the USA, it's interesting to compare what the characters say in French and what the subtitles say that the characters say.

"Traduire, c'est trahir."
"To translate is to betray."

#348 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:28 AM:

#332 Xopher

7 is Lrfgreqnl
8 is Nir Znevn

#349 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:40 AM:

I once babelfished Poe's Raven (in and out of German, if I remember right), and it turned a volume of forgotten lore into a forgotten truck-pond.

#350 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:48 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 349:

Is that a place where trucks swim, complete with happy children feeding them drops of gasoline and motor oil?

#351 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Kevin Reid @230: Damn. That Eli is getting more interesting by the day...

#352 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:03 AM:

As I type, Obama's on TV saying he's going to charge people over the torture programme. I believe this calls for a HELL YEAH!

#353 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Bill Higgins @342: And who can forget the wonderful Backstroke of the West?

#354 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:08 AM:

I may have been overly hasty - it seems to have disappeared from the Beeb's news ticker. Damnnit.

#355 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:59 AM:

heresiarch 339: No, never heard of that one.

Henry 348: Both correct.

#356 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:01 PM:

xopher 322:

Va n ubyr va gur tebhaq gurer yvirq n uboovg.
V fuvar zl yvtug orfvqr gur tbyqra qbbe
fnl jung lbh zrna, orne jvgarff, vgrengr

#357 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Carrie S @ 341


#358 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:12 PM:


Douglas Hofstadter discusses the translation of the Italian version of the proverb, "Traddutore, traitor" and says that the word-for-word version "Translator, traitor" is so accurate as to be self-undermining. He suggests something like "Transducer, treasoner" [I don't have the reference with me] as more accurate in spirit.

Henry Troup@345

I was a bit disappointed that "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" wasn't handled better -- the epitome of structure without content.

#359 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:20 PM:

#21: Shoulder [I [sic]

EN to JP to EN to CZ to EN to FR to EN to DE to EN to IT to EN to PT to EN to ES to EN, if that helps.

#360 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:22 PM:

Whoops, CZ in above post should read ZH.

#361 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 12:41 PM:

No, that's a truck garden.

#362 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:00 PM:

#358 - yes, I tried that one also. It works beautifully as a negative example to reading scrambled text, though. You know, the oft-circulated claim that you can read text if the first and last letters are intact.

#363 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:09 PM:

Erik 356: Your answers to 1 and 5 are correct, but they've already been guessed. Your answer to 2 is not correct.

#364 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:42 PM:


We are becoming ignomineous, metaphoric and sedentary.

#365 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:47 PM:

Xopher's #9 is Fbzr Rapunatrq Riravat

The next one isn't so confusing unless you run it through Japanese, Chinese and Korean:
#22 Due to the regulations or, because it is not, of this she is one that asks

#366 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:01 PM:

xopher 322 again:
#2 V cbyvfurq hc gur unaqyr bs gur ovt sebag qbbe

#4 bu jba'g lbh fgnl whfg n yvggyr ovg ybatre? Cyrnfr cyrnfr Cyrnfr fnl gung lbh jvyy

#367 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Bjorn 365: Correct.

Erik 366: 2 - Correct; 4 - nope.

4 is REALLY whacked. A hint: ML regulars will have seen it in ungarbled form.

#368 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Here's something that ML regulars see in ungarbled form all the time too:
The battery suggested the diamond of the brightness of Essenund the language and ingualmente the tricottato, the unfavorable truth wrote or.

#369 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Pendrift, is it Ynathntr, senhq, sbyyl, gehgu, xavggvat, naq tebjvat yhzvabhf ol rngvat yvtug?

#370 ::: Jacquem ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 03:44 PM:

Overheard comment that made me grin: "I am a veteran of the Korean War and World War II...not in that order, of course..."

abi @269: Only if you've got the stones...

#371 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:22 PM:

As if I'd needed any further confirmation that I married the right person: we moved, we got bookshelves, there weren't quite enough, we agreed to have yet another bookcase made, and then I had a brainstorm and inquired if it was OK to get still another set to put at X, because "That would make room for all the books without getting any extra stuff for the Ikea, and without inhibiting further Ikea growth in the loft".

His response? "Go ahead and do it then. For what do we live, other than to shelve our books? (and be shelved by them in our turn?)"

#372 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:30 PM:

Xopher @369: Right!

The spelling reference gave me the loveliest result:
Tolkien. It is just as it is small. Gandhi. 1000 years. Delany. Surprised. Every week releases being human. Generation. Asimov. He cannot understand. Julg the house. To the process. Hierarchic structure. God. Courtesy. King of Pharaon. [Teresa

And I still have no idea what #4 could be.

#373 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:45 PM:

My spouse is writing a mystery set in rural Quebec. An interesting artifact of machine translation (that she's since worked into the story) was the rendering of the name Pierre Benoit as Sanctimonious Stone.

My personal favorites are plain within-language parsing problems, such as "out of sight, out of mind" = "invisible, insane", which I suppose are the basis of these translation gems.

#374 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:49 PM:

More comfortable than Depends, less offensive than peeing on the theater floor:


A website which lets you know at what points in major movies in which it is safe to nip off to the lobby to take a leak.

#375 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:54 PM:

I'm trying to think of places in SF where I've seen references to funny or imperfect translation software. Along with the babblefish (which were too good, apparently), Vinge's AFUTD and ADITS both did some fun things with automated translation. (I especially like the idea of translating messages down from a high-beyond language to some middle-beyond language, and back up again, to wipe out attacks embedded in the language. (And modern browser attacks and targeted attacks at PDF and Word documents give you some sense of how such attacks might work.) Ian Bank's _Matter_ had some passing reference to this (the Oct's translation software was obviously about one hop beyond Babblefish). One of L Neil Smith's books involving the sentient Molluscs had both a reference to automated noise-removal software that effortlessly stripped off encryption, and also to a character not quite trusting the software translating between his form of speech and some sentient plant's pheremone-based language. Are there a lot of others I'm not thinking of?

#376 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 04:58 PM:

"They laughed at me at the university, but I will show them!"
--> babelfish -->
"The irrisión to the university, but the video returned to me finally!"

#377 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:05 PM:

Bruce @ 246

there were 3 emergency appendectomies performed aboard US submarines during WWII, all by Pharmacists Mates (what were later called corpsmen), all successful.

Alas, none of them was performed on my uncle, who died of his appendicitis while on shipboard in the Pacific during WWII. Not on a submarine, though. And the family story as I heard it was that the ship was under radio silence at the time, so no opportunity for a corpsman to be talked through the procedure. (That is, I don't recall whether family lore indicates that an appendectomy was performed, but there wouldn't have been outside advice if it had been.)

#378 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:11 PM:

Pendrift 372: It's a commonplace thing to see on Making Light.

#379 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:14 PM:

#375 ::: albatross : P. K. Dick's The Galactic Pot Healer has a game of machine translation early on in it.

#380 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:34 PM:


Whfg orpnhfr lbh’er ba gurve fvqr qbrfa’g zrna gurl’er ba lbhe fvqr?

#381 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 06:06 PM:

abi 380: Yep! Isn't that unbelievable? "Ba gurve fvqr" naq "ba lbhe fvqr" orpbzr ersreraprf gb cntvangvba, zrguvaxf. Fgvyy seryyvat jrveq gubhtu.

#382 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Xopher @381:
Yes, bapr V tbg sebz "cntr" gb "fvqr" (urycrq ol Qhgpu, jurer gur jbeq sbe cntr vf oynqmvwqr), gura gur "qbrfa'g" tbg zr gur erfg bs gur jnl.

What language did you pass it through?

#383 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 374: A website which lets you know at what points in major movies in which it is safe to nip off to the lobby to take a leak.

My wife refers to this as an "Arwen break."

#384 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 07:18 PM:

Serge, #315: This reminds me of something that I think Fred Pohl wrote some years ago, where he had someone translate one of his stories from Chinese back into English and published both versions in a collection of his.

Mark Twain once re-translated a French translation of "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Being Mark Twain, rather than re-translate it properly he Babelfished the thing.

The individual re-took the box, it examined of new longly, and it rendered to Smiley in saying with an air deliberate:
"Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog."
#385 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:01 PM:

abi @ 382: Linky.

This one's probably an easy one: "Modern a general general is also the model."

#386 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:18 PM:

I like hearing proverbs of other languages. Sometimes they're similar, often not-- the way that English puts things in repetition and rhyme limits the word choices.

I once had a great deal of fun writing double-ended proverbs for worldbuilding.

#387 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:45 PM:

abi 382: I ran it through the language set here, without checking the box.

#388 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:47 PM:

Oh sure, while I'm getting a toilet and a hose tap working, you people have fun with translation.

Fine. I'll just be over here in the corner. Also, you neophytes, I invented multibabelfishing on March 2, 2001: I did it with "All your base are belong to us", between German and English, again and again and again.

#389 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:55 PM:

A classic (apocryphal?) story of machine translation (I first read of it in the mid 60s in The Real Book of Computers — one of a series of 'Real Books' on sciences and geography for children) had it that the Pentagon developed a computer to help with the mass of Russian translations they needed to do. They tested it by translating an English phrase into Russian, and back again into English. From "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak", they got "the vodka is excellent, but the meat has spoiled".

#390 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Okay, here's a few more semi-famous (locally, anyway) Babelizations. (The numbering above seemed to go wandering a bit, so I'm reverting to Roman here.)

I. "This morning continues the died head of cattle of the way, end of the rubber to the stomach that it lucentezza cuts it. This city is the scared before me. I saw truth the front part being."

II. "Fiabe de Lasci in winter' that will be begun; Tomorrow of S then if the reductions with in ene of ivory of the snow are still-pleasant blood: such ignition in the rectangle that robs defines, red as only the place of the wine of the red in the Stulpe that it indicated."

III. "It seriously approximately said everything to the magician and when it was as a lesson of history did and to that it could use, the end to feel ignition."

#391 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:18 PM:

In other open-threadiness, is anyone else going to Balticon this weekend? I'd love to hook up with other Fluorospherans, if any are around (uh, aside from the GOH, that is).

(Not that I've been often out of lurker mode around here myself for a while, mercurial neurotic that I am. Nonetheless, feel free to drop me a line at the email in my VAB link if you'd rather not reply in the thread.)

#393 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:44 PM:

In other news, I'll be speaking at Torture Is A Moral Issue: Panel & Conference for People of Faith in Santa Clara, Calif. at the end of June (27,28).

I am chuffed.

#394 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 12:23 AM:

Terry Karney @ 393:

That looks like it'll be very interesting. You'll add much to their understanding, I'm sure.

#395 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 02:36 AM:

The Swited take "missing link": is well worth reading. (it's linked at the bottom, Though I read it first).

Then again, I too thought it was blazoned on a piece of toast, speaking of which, I think I shall makes some now.

#396 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 03:01 AM:

Carrie S.@341 #18: Fvyireybpx?

Dan Layman-Kennedy@390 I: "Qrnq qbt va nyyrljnl guvf zbeavat..." sebz Jngpuzra

#397 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:07 AM:

I've arrived at WisCon and will try to swing by the Tor party this weekend in hopes of seeing fellow MLers.

#398 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:29 AM:

Wesley @ 384... Ouch. Why am I not shocked, shocked to hear that Mark Twain thought that up?

#399 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:43 AM:

David Goldfarb: Yes!

#400 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 10:37 AM:

Xopher's puzzle # 4:
what language did it mangle in and out of?

V erpbtavmrq gur znatyrq ncbfgebcur va lbh'er be lbh'ir, naq znlor vg znatyrq gb na rfpncr pbqr yvxr nzcrefnaq-ncbf, va juvpu pnfr gung pbhyq pbzovar jvgu "ba lbhe fvqr" gb orpbzr gur cntvangvba ersrerapr. Fb V sryg irel pyrire guvaxvat bs "Bu fnl lbh'yy fgnl whfg n yvggyr ovg ybatre." orpnhfr gung unq n "lbh'yy" naq na vaperzrag. Arkg V jnf tbvat gb thrff "lbh'er tbvat gb ybfr gung tvey" naq bgure jrveq fghss.

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Erik, see my response at 387. And I'm astonished at your analytical ingenuity; note that while I've submitted several of these (the easy part) I have solved not a single one.

#402 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Oh wait, yes I did. Well, that one was easy.

#403 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 11:49 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 396: That's it.

#404 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 01:03 PM:

I've started collecting some of the recipes posted on ML for my own personal use. Would anyone be interested in an actual, physical cookbook of recipes that have appeared here?

#405 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 01:50 PM:

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that with the renewal of Dollhouse and the cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Joss Whedon should see if he can bring on Summer Glau.

But as what? As a Doll? As a person investigating the Dollhouse? As a mysterious and possibly-evil higher-up in the organization?

Maybe one of Echo's friends from her previous life. THAT would be cool.

C'mon Joss, see if she's available! It's not "getting the band back together" (though I hear Jewel Staite might be available too), it's just hiring an actress who's done truly excellent work for you in the past.

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 02:12 PM:

Xopher @ 405... I want Summer Glau as Agatha Heterodyne, and Christopher Walken as Klaus Wulfenbach.

#407 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 02:18 PM:

Re: Dollhouse (spoiler for next season picked up elsewhere in the blogosphere) - V'ir urneq gung Nzl Npxre'f cvybg unf orra cvpxrq hc, fb gurl znl arrq n arj Fnhaqref...

#408 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 03:10 PM:

Oh man, Serge, that would be fantastic...

#409 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 03:19 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 408... When I met Phil Foglio at 2006's worldcon, I asked him who he'd cast. Walken is one name he came up with for Klaus, and also Arnie Schwarzenegger. And Alicia Silverstone as Agatha. Me, I'd prefer Summer Glau, or Lake Bell.

#410 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 03:26 PM:

Summer Glau is lovely. Too lovely, I think, too conventionally attractive to play Agatha, who is certainly attractive but in an offbeat sort of way.

How about Claire Danes?

And nerdycellist: NnnnnnnGGGGGG! Must. Not. Decode! Argh. A whole SEASON ahead?!

You are crool and evoll. Next time you say you're opposed to torture, I will cite this post in attacking you!

Seriously, it'll probably be spoiled for me by less thoughtful people anyway, and thanks for ROT-13ing.

#411 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Xopher @ 410... Claire Danes as Agatha? I could see that. If you want relly offbeat beauty, my vote definitely is for the aforementionned Lake Bell. You may have seen her in "Prop 8 - the Musical".

#412 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 06:38 PM:

406, 409-411

I rather like the idea of Alyson Hannigan as Agatha.

Or perhaps Amy Acker.

(I also rather like the idea of a Girl Genius/Buffy crossover. It would be fun to watch Agatha interact with Willow.)

(Agatha and Fred would be fun also.)

#413 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 07:05 PM:

nerdycellist @407: Jryy, pbafvqrevat gung Ivpgbe'f tbg fpnef nyy bire uvf snpr, naq gurersber znl ab ybatre or hfrshy nf n erthyne-vffhr Qbyy ... naq gurl'ir whfg tbg gung zrzbelcevag YLVAT nebhaq ... :->

#414 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 08:41 PM:

Digression: Anyone come across Hobnox?

Warning: potential Timesink of Great Evil for the musically inclined.

#415 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 08:44 PM:

Can you recognize this babelmangle?:

nobody is the color of the television of the narrow channel, of that for the adaptation.

#416 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:26 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @390 II: that's the opening of Fjbeqfcbvag, isn't it?

Actually, gur svefg fragrapr bs gur frpbaq cnentencu. "Yrg gur snvel gnyr ortva ba n jvagre'f zbeavat, gura, jvgu bar qebc bs oybbq arj-snyyra ba gur vibel fabj: n qebc nf oevtug nf n pyrne-phg ehol, erq nf gur fvatyr fcbg bs pynerg ba gur ynpr phss."

#417 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 10:07 PM:

Re: Summer Glau, Alyson Hannigan, or Amy Acker as Agatha Heterodyne - No no no! Don't get me wrong, they are all beautiful women, but terribly, terribly skinny. Agatha is undeniably and wonderfully voluptuous, and it would be a shame to lose her cinematic incarnation to the vast mass of borderline-anorexic/differently-metabolized actresses. Thus, my vote is for Miracle Laurie, aka Mellie from Dollhouse.

#418 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 11:27 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 415 ...

There's only one book that could possibly be :P

#419 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 01:49 AM:

Agatha Heterodyne has to be physically powerful-- and not in a cinematic kung-fu way-- and not cute while sparking. I don't know many actresses these days, but I can't think of any that could pull it off.

#420 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 02:56 AM:

Rikibeth: Just so.

(And a great relief that it was indeed guessable; I was sort of afraid I'd wound up picking something just slightly too obscure in both source and execution, like when I tried to do Havamal on the LOLcat poetry thread.)

#421 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 05:19 AM:

Diatryma #419: Agatha Heterodyne has to be physically powerful-- and not in a cinematic kung-fu way

Then you'd probably have to recruit from among professional wrestling "divas" or alumni from the various Gladiator TV show incarnations.

#422 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 06:44 AM:

My First Fanfic!

On the way home from her dance lesson, my daughter told me a story called "Galadriel in the Mountains", about Galadriel meeting Bilbo and their subsequent journey to track down some of the ill effects of the Dark Lord.

She also clearly identified the elements of her story that were not canon.

Pretty good for five.

#423 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 06:57 AM:


#424 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 07:49 AM:

Re Agatha Heterodyne: I have no idea whether she can act or not, but distance swimmer Lynne Cox is lovely, zaftig, and formidable (Swimming to Antarctica is an amazing book).

#425 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 08:08 AM:

(Clarification: yes, I know she's too old; that was more along the lines of "you might want to look at distance swimmers along with the rasslers.")

#426 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 08:40 AM:

Tech help needed here...

I updated to the current version of Firefox for the Mac recently and now if I click on a link to open it in a tab and it ends up being a PDF the tab just sits there: no download, nothing from PDF Download, nothing. Anyone else seeing this? I hate having to open Safari just to view PDF files...

#427 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:30 AM:

For casting Girl Genius it might be easier to look away from Hollywood. Lucy Lawless is an example of the possibilities, though a bit old now.

There's a certain implausibility in American film and TV casting, these days. If Agatha Heterodyne were to walk into the Rover's Return, she wouldn't look as if she were slumming it.

#428 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:39 AM:

Abi @ 422... Pretty good for five

...but not that surprising, considering her parents.

#429 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:40 AM:

Bruce, I can't think of anything specific, but it may be worth upgrading your PDF reader, and letting the installer sort it out. There was a big security bug in Adobe Reader that got revealed a few months back, and some of the alternatives had the same problem.

Check Tools|Options for a list of document types and how they're handled.

#430 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:47 AM:

When casting Girl Genius, our own Miss Teresa would be the perfect Agatha Heterodyne.

#431 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 10:02 AM:

Dan @420, that's my favorite book in the world, the one I'd choose to memorize if we lived in Fahrenheit 451. It'd take a far more mangled translation for me not to recognize it!

#432 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 10:06 AM:

Oh, and Erik @415, since xeger didn't say it directly, that's the opening line of Arhebznapre, of course.

#433 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 10:12 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ 430... There apparently is a Girl Genius character that yours truly could play.

#434 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Malicioius Crusading Moronicity....

I heard the Republicrap Officious Bilge Blather this morning (the every Saturday Morning there is an Official Promo Piece by the President, and there is the Equal Time given to the Opposition... originally it was rebuttal time, but that mutated into: official political message from President, official political message from the other party. I don't remember when it started--it's been going on for years.

The Officious Bilge this morning was moronicity about how the USA has a hundred years' supply of offshore oil and lots of coal and let's pump/dig/burn it! It's cheaper than wild-eyed claims for wind and solar power production--again, this is the BilgeParty view of the universe....

As to why this is offense moronicity:

I. There is no discusion, no mention, no acknowledgment, of the FULL costs of fossil fuel mining/pumping.

A. There are permanent fires (!) in old coal mines, that have been burning for years!
B. Mining is dangerous (particularly when Republicraps don't believe in regulating and inspecting mines and ensuring that there is usable lifesuppport equipment and proper shoring-up in mines)and causes all sorts of health problems and expensive (black lung disease, environmental pollution and illnesses from it, and even dirty laundry from grit....)
C. Pumping oil can be hazardous to the environment--not only despoiling sea life and sea and land habitat and having oil spills contaminating the food chains, but causing loss of property and loss of jobs to people (sink holes happen at least when pumping ground water, and if oil pools being drained has similar habits...,; contamination of water causes fish to if not die off directly, perhaps become inedible, meaning loss of income and jobs to fishermen and the businesses which depend on their catch, and which they buy services and products from); contamination of beaches causes the beaches to close down and clam beds to be closed down--again, this destroys jobs and sales of products and services which destroys more jobs

II There is no acknowledgment and no mention of the full costs of burning fossil fuels
A. Air pollution--cost of treating asthma, lost productivity from asthma caused by polluted air, lake eutrophication, water pollution from the air pollution ("acid rain"), expenses of trying to fix deteriorating bridges and buildings corroded by acid rain -- particulate air pollution, and greenhouse gases air pollution, and water-acidifying air pollution. These expenses are NOT trivial--but the POLLUTERS don't get assessed to pay the remediation and repair and mitigation and compensation costs, for the loss of crops (including trees), damage and destruction to trees, medical costs for lung impairments, building repair, cemetery headstones repair, cost of operating dryers instead of line-drying laundry, etc.
B. Those giant smokestacks send the air pollution downwind of the polluters, meaning the plumes of noxiousness don't contaminate the polluters' homes and noses and yards and lakes.... they dump their shit on those downwind and those downwind get the full detrimental effects and no compensation, the polluters have all the power in the situation and the revenue....
C. Global warming-- Republicraps obviously don't consider it an issue of any sort....

III All sorts of fallacies.
A. "Wind and solar power going up by X percent is miniscule..." -- anything just getting started tends to start off small, and then have a STEEP curve as the adoption increases. Static percentages is essentially lying -- the percentage rates INCREASE, dramatically, as "installed base" expands. There are reasons for using the term "compound annual growth rate" which include that it is a rate of -increase-, as opposed to the percentage increase. That the Republicraps are math-anti-literates is quite clear there, they demonstrating an arrantly arrogant anti-technical-analytical outlook and basic orientation. The compound annual growth rate for solar and wind power are very much higher than the percentage of installed base, and the percentage of installed base COULD grow very rapidly, provided the asshole Republicrap fossil fuel oil patch lying thieving abusive bullying Constitution-raping zealots get their just due shutting down....
B. They mealymouth sanctimonious sarcasm about conservation "of course we should conserve..." I have nothing polite to say....
C. "Wind and solar don't run day-round and we need 24 hour power production." MORE offensive shithead misguidance/misleading lies there.... there are energy storage systems, there always HAVE been... consider windup mechanical clocks and toys and equipment, guess what, the windup mechanism STORES ENERGY! Batteries STORE ENERGY! Dynamos and flywheels STORE ENERGY! The electric power grid transmission system, had energy storage systems in it. For that matter, most of the -demand- for energy is during DAYLIGHT hours, when people are are work in offices and factories--most businesses are NOT operating on multiple shifts! The unbalanced load is reality, and the power companies have rate structures for large users that reflect that!

Yes, there would need to be more energy storage capacity ADDED, but there are already energy storage systems in use.

As for transmission lines (the Republicrap from o/i/l/s/l/e/a/z/e/v/i/l/l/e Wyoming left that particular Balking Point off), what's more mileage of wires? There are high voltages wires that extend from Hydro Quebec in CANADA, through to most of the US Northeast, and high voltage transmission lines otherwise run through much of the USA ALREADY! What, more might have to be added?! That is NOT new, unproven technology.

And, goshwowgeewhizgollyohboyohboy, production of transmission line systems, might actually provide JOBS for US workers in the USA, mining the iron for the steel for the towers and the copper for the transmission power cables, and erecting the towers and stringing the cable!!!

IV. Fossil fuels of pumped oil and coal do NOT renew in less than geological time. Growing kudzu and and converting it to fuel might help, but stripmining and oil-pumping, deplete energy stores that took millennia if not millions of years, to generate.

V. The solar and wind potential of just Utah, Texas, and one other state (proponent for solar and wind on NPR Science Friday yesterday) would meet the current consumption level of power in the USA....

Bottom line--obstructionist recidivist roadblock/roadwrecker Republicans, who make saboteurs look supportive, who spiritually make the Taliban look socially responsible....

#435 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 11:08 AM:

I used to be Agatha-shaped, and once vocally overpowered (outshouted) someone who was using a bullhorn who was across the street on a corner....

#436 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 11:35 AM:

I assume everyone's seen this story about science fiction writers (no, not Jerry Pournelle) advising Homeland Security on future technologies.

#437 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher @

Rather than try to fix Adobe Reader working with Firefox, you might be better off using a different application instead.

Bring up the Preferences dialog (from the Firefox menu), and select the Applications tag. Scroll down to "Portable Document Format" and select that line. The right side of the line becomes a pulldown menu; "Preview" and "User PDF Browser Plugin" work for me. I usually use Preview.

* Some neologisms are useful and not too ugly, and it's too early in the morning and I haven't had enough caffeine yet to bother with a circumlocution.

#438 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @426: I had been having a similar problem with Firefox and PDFs. Googling around, I found it's a common problem. I've forgotten details: there was a fix suggested on one of the Mozilla pages, but it didn't work for me. What I ended up doing (and forgive me, I don't remember what sub menu you need to find to set this up) was change the behavior when I click on a PDF link, so instead to trying to open it in Firefox, it would offer to save it. Then if I really wanted to read it, I would save it and open it with Acrobat.

#439 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 01:07 PM:

Further reporting: I never use Adobe Reader since a terrible upgrade hassle some years ago. (I make sure I have the current version, but I don't use the thing.) Mostly use Preview. I installed PDF Download awhile ago, which purports to improve the PDF experience in Mozilla, and can officially rate it as "eh." Good suggestions on checking the preferences settings, but the blasted program is stuck on loading a page from, and has been so for the past hour. I don't want to shut it down because I'll lose all the tabs (whoever set up the "restore tabs" function in Firefox in case of a crash was a vicious prankster), so I'm hoping the program will eventually surrender and quit trying to load the page. Meanwhile, my Mac has slowed to a crawl. I doubt that Chrome will be the best thing since sliced bananas, but I'll be willing to give it a shot when it comes out just because of the crashes/tabs thing: I tried Chromium, but it just wouldn't install and run for me.

Oh, and if you want to see an amazing example of a company screwing up a software release I recommend you look at the user forums over at MacSpeech. Their newest program, Dictate, sells for around $199, and while it's based on the Dragon engine the methods for adding vocabulary and correcting errors are at best less than intuitive and are hardly robust. (This is Bruce trying to politely say the corrections interface makes putting your privates against a tool grinding wheel in operation sound like a pleasurable option, and it doesn't work well on top of that.) They did a series of free upgrades to 1.3, killing various bugs, then two months after 1.3 came out announced a new version. Unfortunately, the press release didn't make it clear that it was a total rewrite of the software and that the reason it wasn't downloadable is because it's well over a gig. Instead they released it as version 1.5 and are asking $55.00 plus shipping for the updated disks. On top of that, the shipping fees outside of the USA are so high the Canadians (!) are about to cross the boarder with fire and sword, and if you think they're pissed you should read the opinions from Oz. Oh, and Apple released an update two days later that breaks 1.5 unless you toggle a setting in OS X. And to cap it off, the next day/two day shipments have been delayed over a week.

This is being handled in such a way that it makes Amazon's response to the vanishing book listings seem like an Apple product release with Steve cranking the Reality Distortion Field to 11. It's an O.K. package for me: I can use it to churn out a lot of text fast (when Firefox isn't grinding away endlessly and using all my CPU cycles), but if I couldn't do revisions with a keyboard I'd probably be as furious as any of the users that depend on the package.

(Compare and contrast: I bought a $250.00 Revolabs xTag microphone for $40.00 with shipping through Craigslist last month. It was missing the lanyard and the foam cover for the earpiece was torn. Sent an e-mail to the company on a Saturday (when it arrived) to ask where I might buy a replacement lanyard and foam cover. I got a reply THAT DAY from them saying they'd forwarded the e-mail to someone that should be able to help, and by Monday I got confirmation that they would send me both the lanyard AND a NEW earpiece FREE from the head of sales and a separate note and tracking number from the shipping department. Now THAT is customer service.)

#440 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 01:28 PM:

abi @ 422:

That's very good for five. I hope she keeps up the storytelling.

What kind of dance lessons is she taking?

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 439:

If you haven't done it already, you might want to uninstall PDF Download if it's not doing that much for you. Then you can go to the download options and make sure that it's set up to do whatever you want it to do.

If you're looking for a new browser, you could always try Opera, which I've been happily using for years.

#441 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 02:16 PM:

Re: Teresa's 'Spectacular frozen desserts' particle:

My very-local farmer's market returned this week, and so I went and bought a bunch of produce, including a pound or two of organic rhubarb.

I thought I'd make a compote: stringed, diced rhubarb, the zest and juice from an orange, and some water in a saucepan, brought to a boil, set to simmer.

Ten minutes later I realized that I had what I will charitably call a sauce. It was kind of an insipid colour, so I dumped in a punnet of raspberries, smooshed them in, added sugar, and then put it away in the fridge.

Next day: Yup, still sauce. I warmed it in the microwave, stirred in more sugar until it was just too sweet for my taste, and then put it in the freezer.

Today: Raspberry-rhubarb-orange granita. Yum.

#442 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Okay, maybe it's less in the 'spectacular' and more in the 'good save!' category.

I do normally make ice cream with liquid nitrogen, to which I have easier access than an ice cream maker.

Although, now that I think of it, that might be better described as 'spectacular freezing of desserts.'

#443 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 02:35 PM:

Keith @440:
I hope she keeps up the storytelling.

I hope so, too. If she doesn't, it won't be for lack of attentive listeners.

What kind of dance lessons is she taking?

It's basic modern dance, kind of pre-ballet. At her age, they're trying to get them to move and to learn basic choreography. Later on they'll get to steps and stuff.

#444 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 435... Not long ago, Kaja Foglio, who was the inspiration for Agatha, mentionned on her blog how, in 1997, she was having trouble with her hair as she was going to tie the knot and complained that it made her look like Dixie Cousins. When she recently started watching Brisco County Jr again, on DVD, she exclaimed that she wished she could look like Dixie Cousins, who is definitely Foglioesque.

Here is a clip from Brisco where Dixie dukes it out with another lady, whose glasses and maniacal grin belong in Girl Genius. (And yes, that other lady indeed is Pretender's Miss Parker.)

#445 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 03:00 PM:

abi, I'm certainly glad to read your comments, particularly after reading this from Avedon: "I just got back from Abi's funeral. . ."

Gave me quite a turn, that did.

#446 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 03:04 PM:

debcha @ 442:

Any good save is spectacular, but you're supposed to pretend you did it intentionally.

abi @ 443:

That's good. I started dancing late (about this time last year), so it's a bit of an uphill battle, but I find it's definitely worth doing.

They keep threatening me with Nutcracker in another year or two.

#447 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 03:14 PM:

Linkmeister @445:

You're the second person to mention this. Having an unusual spelling of an unusual name is all very well until you run up against another one (in this case, the late Abigail Frost, a mainstay of British fandom).

I know of five people named Abigail who shorten it to Abi. Since one is a celebrity in the UK, I presume that there is a whole crop of them coming through the primary schools now. The idea that my name, and my spelling of it, may become common boggles me.

But no, I ATEN'T DEAD.

#448 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @439: I second the suggestion to uninstall PDF Download (neither Mac nor PC versions have worked well on my machines) and to change the settings for PDF files. (It's in Firefox > Preferences > Applications, mine is set to "Always Ask".)

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Abi @ 447... Glad to hear.

#450 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 06:43 PM:

abi 447: But no, I ATEN'T DEAD.

It would be more than a little shocking to hear otherwise...especially from you.

#451 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 07:15 PM:

abi #447: Just looking in here, and now I understand your tweet of earlier today. I too am glad you aten't dood, doodette.

Speaking of Abis. I know an Abi who shortens her name from Abiodun.

#452 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 07:31 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy, #390, Susan de Guardiola, who posts here, has her Balticon schedule up.

Terry Karney, #393, you'll have to bring us your talk!

#453 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Annals of Dumpster Diving:

Last weekend:

Cheap but nice-looking mini-tower computer. Motherboard capacitors blown. Power supply, cheap and undersized. Drives, old but serviceable.

This weekend:

Computer motherboard, Intel, nicely featured, with somewhat dated but still respectable Pentium 5 2.66 GHz processor; 1 Gb memory.

Power supply, apparently unused, more than adequate for the job.


#454 ::: Jack Siolo ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:11 PM:

hi all. Um, I found this:

On prejudice against otherkin:
"...a somewhat disconcerting and ironic contradiction in an alternative community that accepts everything from therianthropes to extraterrestrial fae."

Thought the fluorosphere might like it.

#455 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Pendrift: uninstalled PDF Download. PDF's were already on Always Ask, so I chose the option to allow Preview to open them when needed.

#456 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 10:23 PM:

I would just like to know
who has had the brass
to hide the brass
I was saving
to etch.

#457 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 11:16 PM:


I have eaten
the brass
that was in
your workshop

and that
you were probably
to etch

Forgive me
it was delicious
so metallic
and so cold

C'mon, it's not like it's hard! The poem I mean; the brass is pretty hard.

#458 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 11:50 PM:

Linkmeister @445 - yeah, I had the same shock from that, and I had even seen Avedon's earlier post on the other Abi. But I still came over to Making Light and checked that our Abi had posted recently, just to be sure.

#459 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:21 AM:

Xopher @ 450: "It would be more than a little shocking to hear otherwise...especially from you."

Given the (accursed?) regularity with which zombies pop up on Making Light, it doesn't seem that unlikely. Which reminds me...

Prof. JEREMIAH NONEMORE BLACKE's Patented Test for Determinin' Whether You Might Be One of the LIVING DEAD, and Not Even Know'd It.

Have you ever felt as though you were NOT QUITE RIGHT? As though you didn't quite FIT IN with the rest of humanity? Did you ever find yourself pursuin' a primarily NOCTURNAL lifestyle, even to the compleat EXCLUSION of socializin'? Why then you just might be ONE A THE LIVING DEAD! Follow Prof. BLACKE's Patented Test to FIND OUT for yerself!

Step One: Attempt to Eat Regular Food
1.a. Mmm-mm good! You're as healthy as a horsefly, though perhaps sufferin' from an unnatural pallor.
1.b. How entirely NAUSEATIN'! Proceed to step Two.

Step Two: Examine your Reflection.
2.a. There y'are! Proceed to step Three.
2.b. Nothing there! Uh-oh! 'Fraid to say, looks as though you might have become one o' the DREAD LORDS OF THE NIGHT, the Vampire! Beware of short blonde females bearing stakes.

Step Three: Pinch Yourself.
3.a. You wake up. Thank the LORD, it was Just A Dream!
3.b. Ow! Like as not, you simply have an upset stomach.
3.c. Skin comes off. Proceed to Step Four!

Step Four: Attempt to Eat a Human Bein'
4.a. Well, that was quite awkward! Very Christian of them though, forgivin' your eccentricities so quickly. 'Specially since you're almost certainly a LEPER, spreading disease where ever you go and to whomever you touch or, as the case may be, bite.
4.b. My GOODNESS, had you known Mama was so delicious, you would Never have contented yourself with her meatloaf for so many years! Seems y'are a ZOMBIE, ravenous and insatiable consumer of LIVING FLESH.

#460 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:52 AM:

Xopher @ 457 ...
C'mon, it's not like it's hard! The poem I mean; the brass is pretty hard.

The brass is pretty soft, actually -- the poem, when I've spent enough of the day doing various bits of physical work (including trying to find my brass), is quite problematic ;)

(and I'm now thinking I should clarify that the brass is -sheet- brass, not brass balls... )

#461 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:58 AM:

KeithS, #446: Any good save is spectacular, but you're supposed to pretend you did it intentionally. increasing order of pride in my leet kitchen skillz: following a recipe, improvising something cool, creatively salvaging something.

Speaking of zombies, I'm relieved to hear that the Boston Police Department plan to let us know if zombies are on the rampage in Boston.

#462 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:06 AM:

heresiarch #459: Step One: Attempt to Eat Regular Food

Does microwaved Dinty Moore Beef Stew dumped over steamed rice, heavily seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder and store brand Cajun spices count as "regular food"?

#463 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:43 AM:

Xopher @ 457

Nah, the brass isn't terribly hard. A soldier's life, now ... Oh, look, they're changing the guard!

#464 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 02:37 AM:

heresiarch @ 459:

I passed the test handily at 1a, which is good. This test does not, unfortunately, seem to be able to discern ill people who can not currently keep food down, or p-zombies. Is the good professor open to suggestions?

debcha @ 461:

(I just realized that my tone may not have come through properly. Salt my original post with smileys to taste.)

Sometimes the save is even better than what you were going for in the first place. I've had that happen sometimes.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:22 AM:

A movie question.
Or two.

1977's Island of Doctor Moreau, which starred Burt Lancaster, Michael York and Barbara Carreras, was set in the late 19th century, same as HG Wells's story, wasn't it? I don't know for sure because it's been 32 years since I saw it and one of the few things I remember was Lancaster trying to make York eat a rat. I think.

What about 1932's Island of Lost Souls? Was it set in what was then the present?

#466 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Serge, #465: What about 1932's Island of Lost Souls? Was it set in what was then the present?

It's been quite a while since I saw it--this is a movie that's way, way overdue for a DVD release. Almost the entire movie is set on the island, which is something of a world unto itself, so the exact era doesn't make much difference. However, I seem to recall it looking very 1932-ish.

This would be consistent with Universal's other early horror movies, which were set in a slightly alternate universe resembling the 1930s but with a little 19th century mixed in. In retrospect some of these movies occasionally look a bit steampunk.

#467 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 462: Does microwaved Dinty Moore Beef Stew dumped over steamed rice, heavily seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder and store brand Cajun spices count as "regular food"?

Hmm. Last time I recall actually seeing anyone eat Dinty Moore stew was college. I believe it was washed down by a generic BEER. (Yes, children, there was once generic food packaged in plain white, with catchy names like BEER, and BROWNIE MIX.)

I think Dinty Moore stew definitely does not count as food if you just open the can, and might not count if you just put it on a plate and warm it up. Actually cooking rice, and adding seasoning, probably brings it up to the food level. After all, I've never seen the undead steam rice.

#468 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Wesley @ 466... In retrospect some of these movies occasionally look a bit steampunk

Thanks. That's what I needed to know. As far as I know, there is a DVD of Island of Lost Souls, but it's a Bela Lugosi doublebill. When I looked the movie up on NetFlix, it wasn't listed at all. It shows up on Turner Classic Movies every once in a while, and I've caught bits and pieces of it, but never the whole thing from beginning to end. I had read the novel back in high school so I was able to fill in the blanks. Well, let's hope TCM shows it before the July 4th weekend otherwise I'll have to shell out $6 for that Bela Lugosi DVD.

#469 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:10 PM:

Can't be as bad as Maconochie's stew.

#470 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:13 PM:

For the Portlanders in the audience: The foul-mouthed* artist in the particle "America: f*cked by Blippo Bold" lives in Portland, despite his very midwestern vibe, and has a show that just opened on NE Alberta.

*I don't mean that in a bad way. If one of the splendid old neon signs in my neighborhood vanished to be replaced by a monstrosity such as the one he described, I'd be cranky, too.

#471 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Looking at the particle about the Blippo Bold motel sign, there's a Google Streetview link in the comments thread in the particle, which shows the expensive new sign.

The new sign fails.

It doesn't draw the eye. It's low-contrast, words to background, and is plain difficult to read.

It doesn't work as a sign, at the most fundamental level, and fails at what even an ugly sign can manage to do.

#472 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Open thread making boasting:

I've spent the better part of the last four days sewing.

Fiona wanted a set of mother/daughter/doll dresses. Her first impulse was to ask for pink dresses, but she knows I am not a pink person. We went looking for the only pink I will wear (dusty rose, very grey), but didn't find any. So we settled on white fabric with pink roses. The dresses do have pink sashes that tie in big bows at the back. (Pictures to follow.)

We're going to wear them tomorrow, since they're sleeveless and it's forecast to be pleasantly warm. I expect that my colleagues will be quite astonished at the sight; they reacted with some surprise at a black floral dress I wore the other week.

But there's a problem. My office is in the throes of the Airco Wars. Some of my colleagues are too hot; others (including me) are too cold. I've been looking for some kind of casual shrug (a cross between a bolero and a cardigan) to throw on and keep the gooseflesh down, but haven't found any.

So I went looking on the net, and found instructions for making a T-shirt into a shrug I rather liked. I made two (a white one and a black one), replacing the ribbon in the original with elastic and a button.

Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

#473 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

Giant squid. The little ones take a couple of hours or so each. The big one was several days. I'll make another big one eventually, since it was very little extra work to cut duplicate pieces for the sucker parts of the tentacles.

#474 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Abi @ 472... Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

Not yet, but I'll be making stairs to replace these next week, probably starting on Saturday.

#475 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Dave Bell @ 471:

The brief photo of the sign that appeared in the video was a little better, but if it can't be read very well on Google street view, then in probably can't be read very well by most passing motorists. The sign does have the motel nature, but contrast to make it readable would be nice.

abi @ 472:

My sympathies on the aircon wars. That can be frustrating, especially if the aircon in one's office is broken to where the temperature ranges from sub-arctic to merely meatlocker.

That shrug looks nice, and, even better, very simple to make. The dresses sound quite lovely; I'm looking forward to seeing pictures.

I think I got carried away clipping recipes from ML. It looks like I might have a cookbook on my hands.

I seem to recall from previous threads that making a better you comes under the category of making stuff. I'm busy practicing for Midsummer Night's Dream next month. It's a small part, but it should be fun.

Joel Polowin @ 473:

Oooh, nice giant squid.

#476 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:55 PM:

Joel @473:
Oh, those are fantastic.

#477 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Depending on my ambition, I may make a skirt. I have never done this before. I bought fabric yesterday, with much advice and reassurance from other people. I have kind of figured out how to sew straight. I will finally finish the filet piece-- need to sew it onto a black background-- and then, skirt.

At Knitter's Breakfast yesterday, I had nothing to do-- I was there for delicious coffeecake and talking, mostly-- and one of the women handed me a sock. Two socks. Toe-up two-at-once Magic Loop socks.
I had not attempted knitting since fifth grade, and that didn't meet with any success whatsoever.
Still had tension issues. There will always be tension issues. But I did... rows! And none of the things I did wrong are unsalvageably so.

#478 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Re: Airco Wars

When I worked at a hotel, there was evidence of what consultants call "Green Sweater Syndrome." This was the unfortunate event resulting from air conditioning being set so low that front-office personnel would cover up the expensive and beautiful uniforms they were wearing with personal clothing brought from home without much regard to color-matching or style. Warmth is deemed more important.

#479 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 02:37 PM:

Ack. Correct verb tenses in #478 as you deem necessary.

#480 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 02:42 PM:

Abi @ 472:

You're making me drool with the fun you must be having!

I'm making scrubs for my nurse mom, which is fulfilling in that she gets to wear clothes that express her personality, but not as fun as mother/daughter dresses.

When I'm caught in the middle of air-conditioning wars (or in the winter when the heat isn't high enough for my taste) I often find that something that covers my shoulders (like your shrug) or a bit around the neck (like a chiffon scarf, jauntily tied) makes all the difference in my comfort level.

Your mileage (and circulatory system) may vary!

Diatryma @ 477:

Skirts are the perfect first project!

Can I make one small suggestion? (You may already know what I'm about to say, but some people don't, so...).

Over the past decades, ready-to-wear clothes have grown/their sizes have shrunk so much that there's no longer any real correspondence between pattern sizes and ready-to-wear sizes. The key is to take careful measurements of your body (waist, high hip, hip at its largest point, and hip at upper thigh). The pattern will only specify measurements for waist and hip (which translates as hip at its largest point), but once you've bought a pattern that matches these measurements, you can take further measurements of the pattern itself.

A well-fitting slim skirt should have approximately one inch of ease at each of these points to skim over the body without being either too tight or too loose.

When you measure the pattern, remember to subtract 5/8" from each seamline (unless the pattern specifies a narrower or deeper seam) to arrive at the final measurements.

If you have a favorite skirt that fits just right and you would like to duplicate approximately the same fit, put it on and measure it as well at all of the points I mentioned above, placing a pin at the points where you held the tape measure. Then take the skirt off and measure the distance down from the waist of each of these circumferences. Transfer the resulting grid to your pattern to see if it matches what truly fits (and alter either at the side seam or in the darts, as seems appropriate) and you'll have a pattern that is likely to be your favorite pattern for a long time to come!

#481 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Joel Polowin (473): Love the giant squid! The biggest animal I've made so far was a three-foot-long octopus (scaled down from a four-foot pattern because I didn't want to do quite that much sewing).

abi (472): I just cut out the pattern pieces for another cat (smaller than that one, but the same basic pattern).

LLA (480): There's a book, Patterns from Finished Clothes, on recreating patterns from clothes you love, but I think you have to take the garment apart to copy it. I've never tried it, but I have a skirt that I want to copy when it gets too old to wear.

#482 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:21 PM:

Steampunk Enthusiasts Alert – Zeppelin Seen Over Long Beach, CA

There is a zeppelin . . . well, a rigid airship, at any rate . . . flying out of Long Beach, CA, this weekend.

Its home base is San Francisco. We live along the approach path for blimps, lightships and port helicopter traffic, so she has flown over us several times in the last three days.

Compared to the blimps, she is fast! Rides are a bit pricey, over $300, but they've sold out for the weekend and will be back for Fourth of July.

Only thing that could be cooler would be if she were bicycle-powered.

#483 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:21 PM:

Jack Siolo @454, in re otherkin: I have baffled non-fannish transsexual friends of mine by pointing out that we* actually have it easy, compared to an otherkin friend of mine. My 'internal compass of identity' points firmly at 'male,' which is deucedly inconvenient in modern society, but at least I have some path to normalization and can someday hope society at large will just accept me as such. My friend's internal compass, however, points firmly at 'dragon,' and zie's just screwed when it comes to being able to ever come 'out' in the real world and be taken seriously by, say, employers. Well, most employers.

In re making things: I have currently in serious progress***:
-- a purple lapghan knitted sampler (I knit in a texture/pattern-stitch for a few inches or until I get sick of it, then do several rows of garter and do another one; plus a couple of patterns worked as borders up the sides to keep it consistent)
-- A Quilt Of Fearsome Purpleness for my littlest sister (who is currently in high school); its purpleness is fearful not just because of its vehemence of hue but because two of the fabrics involved are very busy Hello Kitty prints. Fear it. An example block, just to build your fear: There are 20 blocks like that, plus a white lattice to calm it a little, dark purple around the edges, and a backing fabric that's zebra print ... only in dark purple and lavender. Really.
-- An array of custom-sized cardboard boxes (the blanks mostly cut from discarded diaper cartons) to organize, stack, and contain bags of frozen breastmilk in moderately-long-term storage in the chest freezer in our basement.

* I'm FTM**, not that that's usually relevant to anything I post here.
** FTM twice, actually, as I've learned that on mommyboards, 'FTM' stands for 'First-Time Mom.' I'm usually much more likely to see it used to mean 'Female-to-Male (transsexual).'
*** as opposed to 'started and tossed in a box somewhere to be worked on again sometime.'

#484 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:46 PM:

Mary Eileen @ 481:

I love your cat! If I didn't have one that mews (and would probably want to fight with your cat), I'd have to ask for the pattern to try to make one that cute for... myself!

As for making patterns out of favorite clothes, Threads magazine ran an article (oh, about 15 years ago -- I subscribed for the first ten years, then the sheer weight on my bookshelves forced me to be an "only if you intend to make something in this copy" purchaser) on duplicating your favorite pants pattern (yes, something as complicated as pants!) without cutting them apart. I think they duplicated the article in one of their books still in print, but I'd have to do a lot of remembering to figure out which one (but you might be able to e-mail?)

If you want to do something with even more seamlines or much more complexity, you probably do need to cut the garment apart.

The essence of the technique is this: You get a big, long roll of tracing paper from the arts supply store. You thread baste the grain (long and cross) on all of the major pattern pieces, then you carefully pin the garment to the tracing paper. Next, you trace the garment at each of the seamlines for that particular pattern piece, cut the tracing paper from the roll, turn the sandwich over so the garment is on the bottom, then mark the grainlines and any pleats or darts on the tracing paper.

When you've done these steps, you carefully cut out your tracing, slicing into the tracing paper at the darts or pleats, spreading the tracing paper as far as necessary to equal the dart or pleat on your favorite garment, then taping those sections to another piece of tissue paper.

The final step is to take another long sheet of tracing paper, lay it over the first tracing, then trace again, incorporating the darts/pleats, grainlines and adding a 5/8" seam allowance all the way around. Place a single notch marking at the front seamline, a double notch marking at the back seamline (in the curves if making pants), and a marking for where the end of the zipper/placket should go (as well as any other details like pockets).

Voila! An approximation of your favorite garment (that you can improve on future iterations, if necessary) without any painful loss of something you love that still has life in it.

#485 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Tom Barclay @ 482... Oh my. I love this. Pricey, but it'd be worth every penny.

#486 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 04:01 PM:

LLA (484): The skirt I want to reproduce is simple enough that I could probably draft an adequate pattern just by taking careful measurements. More complicated than that will probably not happen. :)
The cat is this pattern.

Elliott Mason (483): 'started and tossed in a box somewhere to be worked on again sometime.'
In quilting circles, those are known as 'UFOs' (UnFinished Objects).

Myself (481): On second thought, the biggest stuffed animal I ever made is probably the bearskin rug I just finished.

#487 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 04:03 PM:

Abi, #472, I'm making a new cat blankie for the bed. The current one was a scrap afghan that I had to get out one winter night years ago to be warm enough and when I put it back in the closet, the cats got it off the shelf by themselves. I put it on the bottom of the bed for them, and since they're on it at night, started washing it every week. It turns out that three rows are not acrylic and I felted them enough in hot water that the rows next to them are coming apart. So I'm making a new cat blankie with new yarn all in acrylic in colors that match my bedroom.

#488 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 486: Calling mine 'unfinished' seems to dignify them with too much planning -- and too much intention to finish someday. :-> The problem with many of them lies in a sort of failure of ambition, in that I get all excited about some medium or project, then do a few successful projects, and launch myself headlong into a new one with far too little pre-planning, improvising my way out of multiple snags, until I hit one I don't know how to get around, or get sick of it, or find that I've backed myself into a technique corner that's too tedious or too difficult/intimidating to do "right now." And so it gets abandoned.

Then I end up avoiding the box it's in for years through embarrassment, and a feeling I have to describe as being too sheepish to face the project I have 'disappointed' by not fully realizing its utter imagined initial coolness. Sometimes, after coming across it repeatedly, I do either finish it or take it apart for its constitutent pieces, to re-use.

The Quilt of Fearful Purpleness, for example, was started at least three years ago. It went from 'I just bought fabric' to 'Ooh, blocks!' fairly quickly, and then paused while I figured out how I wanted to fit it together with rails; then it hung at THAT phase for over a year while I avoided it, before buying the fabric needed to (a) back it and (b) put rails on the sides to achieve a rational blanket-size for the bed it's intended to cover. Just today, I hauled it out from under the couch again to finish sewing on (b) and think through the problems encountered in that phase; now it's a finished quilt-top and a finished, pieced quilt-back, but I need to buy an appropriate (as opposed to the currently-owned inapropriate) amount of thin polarfleece to use with the batting to make it as warm as intended. Probably there are three more 'phases' of activity on it before it'll be done: fitting together the sandwich, whatever quilting/tufting I'm going to do, and finishing the edges. We'll see how long it takes me to do those phases. :->

#489 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 486:

I'm a non-standard enough figure that I've had better luck altering patterns than in finding "that perfect ready-to-wear garment" myself, so I've never used the full technique. (I forgot to mention that a garment with pleats should be tried on before the whole process starts and the pleats should be pinned down as though they were darts!). I do, however, regularly steal "details" from ready-to-wear in a similar fashion, by measuring and marking the details from given reference points (waist, back of neck, etc.), then trace off a pattern I've made fit me, slashing and re-drafting to accommodate the details I want to steal (doesn't everyone carry a measuring tape in their purse?).

By the way, when you try your first duplication of the favorite skirt, you might want to duplicate the fabric as closely as possible first. I've found that sometimes the thing I fall in love with is the combination of the fit and the fabric. Plus, some fabrics just "grow" while you're making them (most linens and all crepes fall under this category since even "flat" fabric is really 3-D).

Elliott Mason @ 488:

It sounds like we share the same approach to projects -- the fun is in the planning and execution (sometimes), but not necessarily in the product.

I've started legions of things that, for one reason or another, will never be finished. I used to feel shame in the waste of time, then I realized that time spent playing with ideas is never wasted.

So I got rid of the things I was never going to finish (either in the trash or to a charity if the promise was still there but the promise would never fit my needs), changed my vision of the things that had gone awry but still had possibilities, and see the pile of things not yet done as the promise of more fun in the future!

#490 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Hey! One of my comments in an old discussion over at BoingBoing got bounced to the front! They left out the II, but it's me--too bad I never knew about it.

On sewing, does anyone know where I can have one of these made? I bought some scrap neoprene but it's the wrong size and shape for my Macbook Pro and the sewing person that I'd normally take a job like this to doesn't do neoprene. If I were wealthy I could consider a leather version, I suppose, but the only other version I've seen was a quilt-type material which looked pretty awful to me...

#491 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 05:53 PM:

LLA (489): The fabric* is part of what makes it a favorite skirt, so yes, I'll try to reproduce that as exactly as possible. I bought it mail order (pre-Web**). A year or so later, I tried to buy another one in a different color. The catalog description was identical, but the fabric turned out to be completely different. I stopped buying from that company.

*the weight/drape more than the color, although it's a very nice color
**I've had the skirt a very long time.

#492 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:00 PM:

OK, it's not necessarily crazy to have an interior identity that doesn't match your body. I think transsexuals are not crazy (duh).

It's not crazy to believe in reincarnation, either (lots of people do, including people who are nominally Christian, even though it's totally incompatible with any Christian theology I've ever heard of).

It is crazy to believe you're the reincarnation of Cleopatra—I believe a maximum of one person could possibly be such a reincarnation (since, sorry, I don't believe in time travel), and considering how unlikely it is for any given person to be the one, it's crazy to think you are.

Here's the question: am I a bad person because I think someone who thinks s/he is the reincarnation of a dragon is closer to the Cleopatra end than to the transsexual end? In fact, I think being "otherkin" is a bit crazier than being "the reincarnation of Cleopatra," since there really was a Cleopatra (actually there were several of them, but the one they generally mean was Cleopatra VII), but there's no evidence that there were dragons or whatever.

So make it a religious belief, and they're no crazier than [names of specific religions omitted to avoid giving offense].

Does that make me one of the evil oppressors of the poor Otherkin? Am I an oppressor of the Vampire people because I don't believe in vampires? OTOH, I've met people who don't believe in Witches, and they just need to be educated.

If someone told me they were descended from Tsarevich Nicholas, I wouldn't believe them. Does that make me disrespectful of Russian people, or even of the Russian royal family?

Transsexuals DO have a disorder. It's called gender dysphoria, and the treatment (when applicable and they so choose) is to fix the body so it matches the gender identity. People who believe they are the reincarnation of Cleopatra have a disorder too: they're delusional, and the treatment is psychological therapy.

I think the Otherkin need therapy, not "draconoplasty" or whatever. Does that make me a bad person?

#493 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:18 PM:

abi @ 472 ...
I've been making wood shavings in spectacular volumes, while sorting out screens for the storm door, and a (large) cat-proof gate to replace the plastic atrocity that's been there for far too long.

On the sewing side of things, I need to excavate from the pile of tools, so there's enough space to sew again... (Ahhh, space consuming hobbies :) ).

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 490 ...
If I read your url correctly, there's no need for a sewing person at all -- contact cement and weights should hold things together nicely. Failing that, you might try a luggage or shoe repair place -- or if there's an outdoor gear place around your area...

#494 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:24 PM:

What I've been making:

Lots of pattern/design stuff as well as finished garments that need to be photographed and processed.

Re: copying readymade clothes:

Tracy Doyle's Patterns from Finished Clothes does, indeed, walk you step by step through the process.

I'm not familiar with the other book of same title. If it suggests taking them apart, under NO circumstances do so. You'll distort the pieces too badly to copy accurately, even more so if the garment is old and well-worn.

I'll gladly visit with anyone about constructing your projects, be they clothes, laptop covers, animals or patterns for you to make them. The problem is that unconditionally guaranteed custom work isn't going to come at WalMart prices. This has been my full-time business for over thirty years. No obligation for checking your ideas out.

#495 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:25 PM:

#492: I think you are right on the mark.

Though I might snicker at the thought of folks dressing up as centaurs or wolves or whatever, I honestly don't think this is much stranger than putting on a Starfleet uniform, or tromping around in a field dressed up as a Civil War soldier.

But publicly insisting that you really are a dragon or whatever cruelly imprisoned in a human body, then snarling and pulling the oppression card when someone rolls their eyes and bangs their forehead in frustration . . .

Why am I suddenly reminded of those websites where anorexics glory in their unhealthy body images, and trade tips on starving themselves to death?

#496 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:30 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 490:

Congratulations on the bounce! (I'll have to hustle over there to read it!)

On sewing a bag, I know it can be quite difficult to find a person who is willing to sew to order economically these days. Myself, I pretty much only take on commissions for love since so few non-sewing types have a real comprehension of how much time and work is involved in getting it "just right" according to the desires of the person placing the order (and the fact that most pre-made objects are made in places where the living wage is so low means that my time and labor simply can't be valued on the marketplace for what I think it's worth).

So I wish you luck -- and suggest that you might want to try some sewing yourself? It's a tremendous stress reliever and there's nothing like the pleasure of knowing "I made it myself!"

Mary Aileen @ 491:

Decent fabric stores disappeared in my area a long time ago -- but I've had great luck buying on the Internet from companies that offer swatch services, provided I know enough about the fabric to order the appropriate swatch set. There are lots of guides on the Internet that will help you tell the fiber content of a piece of fabric, but most of them recommend a burn test (which would be destructive in your case).

Probably waaaay too much information, but:

I can do a pretty decent test just by feeling the fabric with my fingers, rolling it around, then trying to crumple it in my hand. If I have access to water, i can do much more: wet wool smells, well, like wet wool (think wet dog but not quite so pungent) and doesn't feel wet until it's completely saturated; wet silk smells slightly sweet; wet cotton hugs the contours of your hand, as does wet linen (but dry cotton won't form as crisp a crease when I "fingernail press" it as dry linen will); and wet rayon tends to stiffen as it absorbs moisture.

All the forms of polyester, when held to my ear and rubbed against themselves, seem to have a slight grating noise and there's a faint oiliness to their hand (which makes sense since they're petroleum products). All of the other "modern" fibers share these qualities in some part, and if the fabric you love truly is one of these, I recommend turning to a reference book like an old copy of "Vogue Sewing" (mine is circa 1978, but I still refer to it constantly -- in part because it's got such a comprehensive set of pictorial depictions of variations depending on weave).

#497 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Serge, #468: As far as I know, there is a DVD of Island of Lost Souls, but it's a Bela Lugosi doublebill.

If so, it's either a non-region-one release, or a bootleg. (Amazon lists a double-bill with the early color film Mystery of the Wax Museum, but it's marked as unavailable, and judging from the cover it's a British release.) If Universal would cough up a legitimate DVD release I'd buy it in a second--I've gone off VHS entirely, and I'd like to replace my old tape. (Although I'm now tempted to dig it out and hook up the VCR.)

If you want to see something with Lugosi, Universal's "Bela Lugosi Collection" is worth getting hold of just for the 1934 Edgar Ulmer-directed version of The Black Cat.

#498 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:37 PM:

I have nothing bad to say about cosplayers, and furries...well, it's not my fetish, not that I don't have any. I bet mine would seem pretty odd to some people. So yeah, I don't think those people are crazy at all.

#499 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

Now that I'm employed again, making stuff is my job. Today, it was salmon burgers, portobello mushroom spread, Special Dressing, ground pork, lime-herb vinaigrette, and beer-battered rock shrimp with jalapeno slices.

I haven't made anything at home today except dinner for my roommate. I ate at work. I need to make some clean dishes and laundry, or I won't have anything to wear to work tomorrow.

Xopher@492, Stefan@495, I agree with you for the most part, except that I've read an extraordinarily moving description of what a certain woman who has never felt quite at home in her human body felt when she had the opportunity to put a snow leopard pelt over her shoulders and head. (The person who had the pelt had it legally, no sketchy treatment of endagered species.) It gave me a great deal of sympathy for her perception.

I still think that "snow leopard" is a little less crazy than "dragon," just because snow leopards EXIST on this planet. Dragons don't.

It DOES seem to be a form of body dysmorphia not unrelated to the sort a transgender person experiences. Just not one helpfully addressed by body modification.

Even though "dragon" makes me want to roll my eyes, and so do a lot of Otherkin who aren't as eloquent as the self-perceived snow leopard, I'm trying to cultivate the sort of approach that Miss Manners would approve of. If someone makes such a claim to me, I'd try to respond with a civil "Oh? How unusual," and then treat them just as I'd treat anyone else, because it's not really RELEVANT to ordinary social interaction.

#500 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 494:

OOH! I love your Photostream. You have been bookmarked.

As far as the book you recommend, it looks quite useful and interesting (but I MUST not buy any more books on sewing).

I have, in fact taken apart thrift-store finds to learn the tailoring secrets (I try to choose garments that are stained or worn in a way that won't hinder my studies so that good clothes can still make their way to people who need to wear them). I agree completely that this is not for beginners, though. I have to take very exacting measurements both before and after a seam has been picked apart because one of the things I'm usually looking for is the degree and placement of ease.

Again, probably WAY too much information.

#501 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Wesley @ 497... I just went back to Amazon and noticed that it says the DVD has been discontinued. Curses!

#502 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Headline found on Comcast's site:

Woman, once thought dead, graduates.
#503 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:14 PM:

Oh, yes, seam allowances.

Current to-do list before I can make the skirt: wash fabric (drat, this is going to take months), put a mark on the machine for seam allowances, mess with tension (do I have to? Yes. We are going to do this right. Drat), ignore things about sizing because that way lies madness*, iron, gird loins, make skirt.

Okay, so that's not going to happen any time soon. If I wash the fabric next time I do laundry, maybe I'll have a skirt by August.

*it's not bad advice, just not something I want to do right now. I didn't buy the fabric for months because I didn't measure myself. It's a very simple skirt, I'm making it according to my hip measurements because I'm between sizes (but only between two, which is nice, and hey, I have tissue on my midsection), and the excellent women at the fabric store will help me fix it when I screw up.

#504 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Hmm, I had a feeling of suddenly being comfortable in my own skin when I put on someone else's, but that was leather, and it still felt like clothing, just like clothing that suited me in a way that made me feel more like myself.

I don't believe there are any limits to what the brain can experience, so I can believe people can experience body dysphoria that makes them feel that a human body is not theirs. I've felt that too, when I danced my power animal in a shamanic ritual. But that was temporary.

Maybe these people are experiencing power animal possession (which is not necessarily a possession by a separate spirit, but a spiritual experience that, like all experiences, occurs in the brain) on a long-term basis, and the mechanism that ends that feeling is dysfunctional in them.

I don't believe that people can be reincarnated as animals or vice versa, but I could be wrong about that. But dragons? Ehhh.

I wonder if there's some way to cure their delusions about their incarnation without disrupting their fundamental identity? That would seem the most respectful way to approach the problem.

#505 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Making things: I seem to go for the ephemeral. I don't knit, rarely sew. I do bake, and garden. I made a brownie & ice cream cake on Saturday, and I'm gardening today. I think of gardening as enabling, rather than making.

#506 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:51 PM:

Xopher @504:I don't believe that people can be reincarnated as animals or vice versa, but I could be wrong about that. But dragons? Ehhh.

I wonder if there's some way to cure their delusions about their incarnation without disrupting their fundamental identity? That would seem the most respectful way to approach the problem.

From what I've gleaned of the furry/Otherkin/etc. communities, many of their members have had persistent sensations of not fitting in anywhere until they find their "incarnative" identities. IMHO, trying to shake them loose from that would be exactly the wrong initial approach, as opposed to building trust in the human communities around them.

Personally, I figure that if they've found an archetypal identity that makes them happy and they're not hurting anyone else around them, then what's the problem? I find some of the fanfic subgenres such as RPF, chanslash, and twincest far more disturbing, and even with those, I wouldn't be confident about arguing that those writers should be categorically stopped. (Hetalia: Axis Powers seriously raises my hackles, though. Yeegh.)

#507 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 07:54 PM:

Diatryma @ 503:

Please -- do NOT wash the fabric before you start sewing.

Yes, this is in direct violation of the rules my mother taught me when I was a wee lass, but I've found that few fabrics on the market today shrink the way they did when my mother learned to sew.

In addition, most fabrics are treated with "sizings" that are meant to add body and make them more stable and easy to sew. Washing this sizing away doubles the work (as you noted) and washing, then ironing (my greatest failing) can actually work against you (unless the fabric was already off-grain?) because it is very easy to iron perfectly good fabric off-grain yourself.

What I do is pin a piece of paper onto a corner, then hack of a piece that's about 4" X 4". I place the fabric in a washed glass jar (like an empty jam jar), fill the jar with water, then nuke it until the water boils. If I can't iron the sample into a shape that matches the piece of paper i cut at the same time, I know I have trouble washing it (in which case, I will sometimes pre-wash -- but just as often, I'll buy a different piece of fabric instead since I've just proven to myself that the original fabric will be a pain in the @#$$).

I use pencil to make long horizontal marks on my sewing plate, when I'm not going to need that seam width forever. Quick, painless, and easily removable.

May I add, clean and oil the machine before you mess with the tension? I clean and oil mine every time I change bobbins, and the tender loving care makes my machine purr, even when the tension isn't as perfect as perfect can be (although you should definitely try for as good as it gets!).

As I said, I'm not a standard size or shape, but I long ago made peace with my maker that He loves me anyway. If it's any consolation to you, you are so much more than the sum of your measurements that treating yourself to clothes that fit -- and consequently make you feel beautiful -- can be one of the most empowering sensations I've ever seen women (or men) experience.

So take those measurements, write them down, then remind yourself that they are just scribbles on a piece of paper. No more, no less.

#508 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:03 PM:

random, unrelated link (because I thought it was really interesting, and something I was totally unaware of): Chicago Gang Cards

"Every city has its own gang history, part of Chicago's are Gang cards, most prominent in the 70's and early 80's, back in the day when a gang was more of a neighborhood crew then what it is today."

#509 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:15 PM:

Carol Kimball (494): The Doyle book is the one I've seen. I could have sworn it wanted you to take the garment apart, but it's been several years since I looked at it, so I could easily be mistaken.

LLA (496): The skirt I love is heavy cotton. The supposedly identical skirt turned out to be much lighter cotton. I have a decent fabric store (semi-)locally, so I can probably find a reasonable match without too much trouble. I was just frustrated that the company didn't mention that the 100% cotton skirt was now an entirely different weight of material.

#510 ::: Jack Siolo ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:26 PM:

Ah, Xopher, Julie L.,

I mis-typed. The link actually adresses prejudice against OtakuKin by OtherKin. The theorizing later in the essay is pretty interesting, and to me, makes OtherKin/OtakuKin much more a mystical/religious phenomena. (In some senses that William James might recognize.)

Oh, yes, otaku-kin. Possession by fictional characters from anime/manga. (Which the author correctly points out are often derivatives of Eastern* deities, many of whom got their start as fictional characters. See: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.)

*I need a better term. 'Eastern' sounds too Orientalist.

#511 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:49 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 509:

Do you also have a Trader Joe's nearby? Because I could be convinced to move to be near both a Trader Joe's and a decent fabric store :-}.

#512 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 08:57 PM:


Maybe these people are experiencing power animal possession (which is not necessarily a possession by a separate spirit, but a spiritual experience that, like all experiences, occurs in the brain) on a long-term basis, and the mechanism that ends that feeling is dysfunctional in them.

I suspect the person I mentioned in my earlier comment would agree strongly with this characterization, or at least find it a good starting point for discussion.

I wonder if the hypothetically defective mechanism for ending the feeling of possession could eventually be described in terms of neurotransmitters, and could be linked to various mood disorders? One of the other things this woman has written about (also eloquently) is her bipolar diagnosis, the effort it took to get the diagnosis in the first place, and how she's been adjusting to the treatment.

#513 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Joel Polowin, #473: The squids, they are awesome.

Other than the aforementioned granita, I'm not making much these days besides reservations - my crazy summer of travel has begun.

Linkmeister, #478: This was the unfortunate event resulting from air conditioning being set so low that front-office personnel would cover up the expensive and beautiful uniforms...without much regard to color-matching or style. Warmth is deemed more important.

As someone who leaves a sweater in my office to wear in the summertime, I think that the 'unfortunate event' may actually be the temperature setting...

LLA, #496: Myself, I pretty much only take on commissions for time and labor simply can't be valued on the marketplace for what I think it's worth.

I'm in vehement agreement: I routinely spend far more on just the yarn to make a baby sweater than I would to buy a sweater at, say, babyGap - never mind the (considerable) cost of my labour. I'm expecting my first niece this October, so I'm starting to think about what to make for her.

#514 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 09:54 PM:

xeger@229: I was imprecise; what surprised me was not the persistence of MLers but the number of different stories they found; somehow I wouldn't have thought that practical chemists would need to make so many tests of how badly thioacetone reeks.

Kathryn@231: interesting.

Serge@233: that sounds plausible; normally I get to WFC on Wednesday, but I got to Tempe on Thursday due to outside entanglements.

#515 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 10:44 PM:

CHip @ 514... Well, neither rain nor sleet (especially not anywhere near Phoenix) will keep us from meeting. See you in less than 6 weeks.

#516 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 10:54 PM:

CHip @514:

Re:tests of perception thresholds of aroma compounds can be more complicated than you might expect. The differences quoted by different research groups can be due to differences in the ability of their test subjects to perceive particular chemicals. Also, the medium in which the aroma compound is dissolved can affect perception. For example, some of the flavour compounds are more aromatic in a water:alcohol solution than in plain water; the difference between wine and water.

It's not so important for e.g. thioacetone, but another thiol which is described as smelling like "cat pee", 4MMP, is also found in some wines like Sauvignon blanc. It's so potent that its presence can be detected at nanogrammes per litre concentrations.

#517 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:16 PM:

Sewing and other crafty projects:

I just finished knitting my first pair of socks for Sock Wars and sent them off. Killed my hands with the last burst of knitting, so I'm taking a short break, but I may go back to the shawl I'm knitting while waiting to see if I get SIP back before I get killed.

I also just finished a quilt class. I'm not that far along with the patchwork and it may turn into a skirt instead. Or not. It's a very odd mix of fabrics and some of them might look better in a quilt.

And now for a question: I'm starting to poke around looking for a basic pattern to match this dress for a costume for DragonCon. (The doll is Rebecca Rubin, the newest American Girl.) I'm not worried about a pattern for the belt, collar or cuffs and I'm not even thinking about the boots until I see the books, but I want a pattern for the dress that fits my bust (large). I'm a decent sewer, but I've never been successful in altering a pattern to fit my bust, so I want to start with a pattern that already does that. Does anyone have any thoughts or resources as to where I might find one.

#518 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:18 PM:

CHip @ 514 ...
xeger@229: I was imprecise; what surprised me was not the persistence of MLers but the number of different stories they found; somehow I wouldn't have thought that practical chemists would need to make so many tests of how badly thioacetone reeks.

Somehow I have no trouble picturing a phrase like "Surely it can't smell -that- bad..." or "Just wait 'til Sam smells what we left in his locker -this- time..." ;)

(or, for that matter, "This time it'll be different...")

#519 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:26 AM:

LLA at 507: thanks! You have made the skirt at least two weeks more likely to happen.

Everything has a very high activation energy lately. I don't expect to get any housework done until the night before my thesis is due to my committee-- right now, I have multiple dwarf-bread activities, and not so much boot leather to seem appetizing in comparison.

I'm also not terribly upset about my measurements. The last time I was measured, I was an underweight fifteen, and that may have been near the summer that I went some time without eating*. I was surprised at the time that I had such a tiny waist, and although it is fun to be an extreme, I'm really happier knowing that I have some tissue to draw on when I need it.

*not anorexia, just a lack of interest in food.

The sewing machine... well, it is old. 1926 Singer, electric, and it still works as well as I need it to. I know there's a lot I should be doing with it, like oiling it regularly, but I don't use it regularly yet. I've only recently learned about tension and such, courtesy of a friend and her binder of sewing wisdom-- turns out that if you spend a thousand dollars on a machine, you get a lot of lessons on how to make it worth that kind of money.

Things to remember: I can buy more fabric. They have entire bolts of it at the fabric store. They can get more for me.

On chemicals: one of the chemicals I worked with, very briefly, had a label saying 'stench'. It did stink, though not enough that we had to evacuate the lab. Most of my lab smells are either solvents, in which case it's probably going to kill you, or bacterial medium, which part of my brain interprets as here there be life.

#520 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:27 AM:

Xopher @ 492: If it makes you a bad person then it makes me one too. Ordinarily I am with Rikibeth and her "Oh, how interesting..." approach. Unless ... publicly insisting that you really are a dragon or whatever cruelly imprisoned in a human body, then snarling and pulling the oppression card when someone rolls their eyes and bangs their forehead in frustration ... (Stefan, 495) in which case I try to find somewhere else to be. I have no problem with transgendered people - they can be physically what they feel like and the people I have known who have undergone gender reassignment seem happier for it. But the insistent otherkin push some of the buttons that the people who walk the streets having shouty conversations with imaginary voices push. There's a fundamental disconnection from reality that I can't quite seem to get my head around. And sometimes I wonder if that does make me a bad person.

Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

I make pictures of things. I just spent a chunk of weekend going through the last few years of pictures and dropping the ones I still don't hate on my shiny new Flickr page. More will accumulate aver the next few weeks.

#521 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:28 AM:

Re: Otherkin, I think Xopher's more or less got it -- I'll just add that the "disorder" here falls under the tale of the madman and the saint:

"We both see visions, wear rags, beg by the road... why do they call me a madman and you a saint?" "Because I know when to keep my mouth shut!"

#522 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:05 AM:

Making stuff:

Does writing count?

Sitting in a buffet restaurant, I wrote down the names of a few characters for an RPG sourcebook I'm . . . trying to get going on. Went home, opened up the file, typed them in with about three paragraphs of background material. Formatted it.

Horribly, this is dramatic progress.

* * *

You know . . . I have far weirder shit in my head when I'm working up material for a fantasy and SF RPG material than thinking I'm a dragon. It could well be that me being productive means having a head full of notions compellingly bizarre enough that they have to get out.

#523 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:29 AM:

debcha @ #513, "the 'unfortunate event' may actually be the temperature setting..."

Oh, no question. But it used to drive the consultants and the managers crazy, and they never seemed to get the obvious answer: "Fix the thermostat!"

#524 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:12 AM:

Diatryma @ 519...
The sewing machine... well, it is old. 1926 Singer, electric, and it still works as well as I need it to. I know there's a lot I should be doing with it, like oiling it regularly, but I don't use it regularly yet. I've only recently learned about tension and such, courtesy of a friend and her binder of sewing wisdom-- turns out that if you spend a thousand dollars on a machine, you get a lot of lessons on how to make it worth that kind of money.

I don't know which model Singer you've got, but Singer do post manuals for almost all of their models online, in various places -- and it's reasonable odds that I might also have the one you need handy, if you don't already have it...

#525 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:20 AM:

Paul Duncanson @ 520: I make pictures of things

Correction: [You] make excellent pictures of things.

#526 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:33 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 462: "Does microwaved Dinty Moore Beef Stew dumped over steamed rice, heavily seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder and store brand Cajun spices count as "regular food"?"

The Prof--with whom I am in regular correspondence--suggests that any food that "with the Fullness of TIME, comes to exit the body via the typical orifice counts as 'regular' food." So you tell me, really.

KeithS @ 464: "This test does not, unfortunately, seem to be able to discern ill people who can not currently keep food down, or p-zombies. Is the good professor open to suggestions?"

The professor responds: "Now, perhaps to a fancy-pancy CITY BOY like yourself, my simple, Four-Step Patented Test seems a quaint rusticism, but I assure you that when you are In The Field of Battle, as it were, you will appreciate that VERY SIMPLICITY. Direct your eyes to 3.b. and find your complaint already answered."

(Do forgive the dear old prof--as the recipient of a degree from a western land-grant university, he is quick to take offense at perceived slights. The vagaries of genius!)

Xopher @ 492: "I think the Otherkin need therapy, not "draconoplasty" or whatever. Does that make me a bad person?"

I don't think they need therapy as long as they have come to a satisfactory balance within their own minds. (I could see an argument that dressing up as whatever is a form of therapy.) People come up with

Still. From the essay: "A sizable chunk of organized religion also has more than a little in common with these concepts, from Christianity to Shinto[.]"

Okay, fair enough. But I'm annoyed when members of organized religions try to force me to grant the validity of their beliefs--why shouldn't I be offended when someone insists that I agree that they really are a dragon, or Goku? Respecting other people's individual beliefs, be it religion or more idiosyncratic convictions, does not extend to granting that they're true. If I don't have the right to insist on the primacy of my version of reality, then you don't get to insist on the primacy of yours.

#527 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:42 AM:

Whoops--chopped sentence there. "People come up with all sorts of ways of dealing with the universe, and I'm not so confident in the rightness of mine to exclude others just because they seem odd."

#528 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:52 AM:

Anyone else making stuff at the moment?

I recently made a piece of electroacoustic/ambient music called The Last Native Speaker with fabulous singer Emily Bezar (go see her on Wednesday if you're in SF!).

#529 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 03:00 AM:

Xopher@492, Stefan@495, Rikibeth et multi alia, on internal identity compasses: The phenomenon I use to practice non-judgementalism (to avoid loudly saying things like, "OK, I'm sane, bu YOU'RE all nutballs!" and drawing the 'normalcy' line in ways that privilege me) is Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Why am I sane, but THEY'RE nuts? Some people (who think I belong on the 'nuts' side of the line, think both I and BDD folks want to "mutilate" ourselves by "cutting off perfectly healthy [tissues]."

#530 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 03:10 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 517:

Some of my answer to your question depends on how busty you really are -- and how much you care about being faithful in matching a pattern that was made for a doll without a bust?

The last time I sewed for someone with a truly *fearsome rack,* we were in high school and my friend had gone from completely flat to a double E in a single year. The very thought of a prom dress reduced her to tears (she had been attempting to hide behind all things baggy, which only made her appear overweight).

The solution, in her case, was a variation on Princess seaming. You see, the difficulty in adjusting a standard flat pattern for a larger than flat bust (most patterns assume that you are a B cup) is that you usually get something that strains at the bosom and is too big in neck, shoulders and through the midriff. You may need a more 3-D approach than mere darts can provide.

My friend cried when she saw herself in a dress that made her look thin but didn't crush her painfully at the bustline.

I'd suggest trying a look at Carol Kimball's post at 494. Her photostream shows several seaming variations you could adapt to create a facsimile of a woman's version of the doll pattern, but remember, that doll dress harkens back to an era when women actually bound their breasts to flatten them because being busty (for once in history) was actually unfashionable.

Diatryma @ 519:

Oh! You've got one of the wonderful early Singers! So lucky!

Definitely worth learning to clean and oil it to keep it in tip-top shape. A new, sharp needle with every new (substantial) project helps, but your machine should be capable of an evenness of stitch formation that will put every garment you've ever purchased to shame, once you get the tension even remotely right.

And I don't clean and oil my machine when I'm not using it either. Most of the cleaning I do is to remove lint that accumulates while I'm sewing from the innards around the bobbin, where build-up can keep the thread from making a full loop around the bobbin (I have a brush, but I also use q-tips and a pin in areas that I know are susceptible -- you can start to feel (and see) bits of lint caught in the mechanism if you slowly advance the flywheel after you've oiled the machine).

And yes, you can always buy more fabric (unless you're like me, and tend to hoard it and never want to let it go...).

#531 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 03:18 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 522:

Am green with envy at your writing progress.

And you're supposed to have weird stuff in your mind when you're really creating! If the thoughts aren't weird enough, you're merely repeating what you -- or someone else-- has done before!

#532 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Happy 25th of May everyone!

#533 ::: jsgbs ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 05:53 AM:


I don't know how the Acrobat Reader plugin is architectured on Mac, but on WinXX the plugin launches a hidden acrobat.exe process that renders PDFs into the browser window. When Reader chokes Firefox waiting for a download, it's possible to unfreeze Firefox by forcibly killing (i.e. using the Win equivalent of 'kill -9') the Acrobat process. This trick might work on Macs depending on how the Reader plugin is designed and how it interacts with Firefox.

As far as preserving FF tabs between crashes goes, have you tried TabMixPlus' session manager? It's been around longer that FF's session manager and might be less buggy.

When FF freezes I've found that FF tabs are more likely to be saved if I forcibly kill Firefox rather than quit FF and let it try to terminate gracefully. 'Graceful' termination gives FF the opportunity to corrupt its session data while terminating the process gives it no chance to screw things up further.

#534 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 08:37 AM:

I am not qualified to offer any kind of opinion on the Otherkin/dragon/Cleopatra issue, but offer instead some questions.

1. If a person's outward physical structure is at odds with his/her internal self-image, on what grounds do we decide whether the physical structure or the internal self-image is the problem? (Anorexia is at the obvious end of the spectrum: if we don't decide the self-image is wrong, the person will die. Though there may be an argument there too: who is more qualified to decide whether a person should die than the person him/herself?)

2. To what extent is it important to society that a person's worldview be grounded in reality? How do we distinguish (in the absence of criminal behavior) the difference between a dangerous delusion and a harmless delusion? (I am using "delusion" in the vernacular sense of an untrue belief that cannot be shaken by any amount of evidence to the contrary.) This ties in with the discussion on the Bath School Disaster thread, though I don't know that Kehoe was actually delusional.

3. Questions of gender aside for the moment, does it really matter in practical terms whether or not a person is "actually" a dragon, or Cleopatra? Is deference from other people (who may, after all, be unicorns or Pharaohs) required?

#535 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:20 AM:

One thought about the whole otherkin business: what does the success of the musical Cats suggest about people?

More obscure, there are websites out there making use of body-paint to turn a peson into some sort of animal, by duplicating fur patterns, sometimes with outright pornographic intent.

I suppose an element of both can be traced back to Jules Leotard. They're ways of dodging social barriers to nudity. And you happen to be a dragon, a jellicle cat, or a Time Lord, there are different rules.

#536 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:40 AM:

Xeger, I have a PDF manual for my machine-- it's a 99. Dad was thrilled when I told him we could figure out what kind it was from the serial number, and I think we even got which factory it came from. The manual came in handy when I went to the Friend of Sewing Wisdom-- the first thing she said after, "This is really heavy," was, "Well, you have the needle in sideways," and I could point to the manual for backup.

LLA, a great many things can potentially derail me on the sewing thing. If I see the fabric as something disposable, then it's not wasting it if I screw up. I don't have to treat it like gold or anything precious. I can screw it all up and it will still be okay.
I haven't managed to apply this philosophy to anything before, but maybe I can do it now.

The Otherkin thing: I this I read the same snow-leopard essay mentioned above, but I didn't read it as an Otherkin thing exactly but as an, "I am not this poor limited creature, not really. I'm something else." In cases where 'this' and 'something else' are easily defined-- male and female, blonde vs blue hair, plain and unassuming clothes vs goth-- people are mostly okay with it. Otherwise, I am more comfortable redefining 'this'.

But I don't know anyone whose physical form is so drastically different from the internal image. There was one horribly awkward roleplaying game, in which a couple friends and I mocked a character (not publicly) because he essentially broke the game and missed the point in a very dramatic high-school fashion... and then realized that he was playing as himself. I think that if I met him at a con, my problem would not be that he calls himself a dragon but that that dragon is a pretentious ass.

Maybe I'm interpreting it as a behavioral thing rather than physical. I am not an elf or dragon, but if I were, I think that acting human-normal would bug me more than not having my long life and wings. If someone discovers that a human can act the way they do and still be human, would the feeling of being other fade?

Except yeah, it is somewhat physical.

#537 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:48 AM:

LLA (511): There's a Trader Joe's right up the road from me. Lots closer than the fabric store. (Which is a Joann's. And half an hour's drive. (But it's very near the mall! And the two good bookstores! So it's handy!) The huge and wonderful Fabric Mill that was also right there closed a few years back. As did the smaller but still good Fabric Bonanza. *sniff*)

#538 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:05 AM:

Diatryma @ 536 ...
Xeger, I have a PDF manual for my machine-- it's a 99. Dad was thrilled when I told him we could figure out what kind it was from the serial number, and I think we even got which factory it came from. The manual came in handy when I went to the Friend of Sewing Wisdom-- the first thing she said after, "This is really heavy," was, "Well, you have the needle in sideways," and I could point to the manual for backup.

Ah, cool! I have one of those as well, rather later than yours, though -- April 9, 1958, Clydebank, Scotland :) They're great machines, sturdy as anything, and can handle a crazy range of materials.

Are you (or somebody you know) likely to be at Worldcon? I've got an extra buttonholer that you're welcome to have...

#539 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:24 AM:

Sadly, no Worldcon for me-- I can't seem to find the middle ground between 'has income, feels guilty about taking time off' and 'unemployed'.

Learning from my wise sewing friend has been interesting. On the one hand, she has an excellent grasp of what I should do, practice-wise, and what things I don't need the machine for if it doesn't work quite right, like the bobbin winder. On the other, it is easy to forget that I have a pretty basic, if solid, machine. It does me no good to hear that I could use a zig-zag stitch for something.

One of the weirder things I learned over Thanksgiving was that one of my cousins cosplays, and fairly well. Another is making monkey ears for the next con they go to. I didn't know they went to cons at all. He is better at sewing things than I am, definitely.

#540 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:26 AM:

Diatryma @ 535:

I hope you won't let anything derail you from learning to sew because, after about 35 years of serious crafting (I like to say, all things female but cooking and ironing), it's still my favorite stress release (because I get to point to the practical results, wear them hard, and know I can make them again if they fall apart).

And viewing fabric as disposable is essential to the process. The reason I told Hilary Hertzoff about my experiences @ 530 in fitting my friend is that it took us seven or more tries to get a bodice that worked (which means we threw out a lot of fabric in the process) -- but once we'd been through that pain, we had a perfect sloper that fit her closely, so I could teach her to sew by altering that sloper. She still makes her own tops (except tight t-shirts!) and she looks fabulous.

I just like to collect fabric for the pleasure of petting it.

Mary Aileen @ 537:

Sadly, unless your Joann's is SUBSTANTIALLY better than my Joann's, it doesn't sound like I'm going to make the move. I'm just close enough to L.A.'s garment district for fabric shopping on the wild side (hence all the mumbo-jumbo on how to tell what kind of fabric you're looking at) that I don't really want to move for a Joann's.

#541 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Presumably as a tie-in to the upcoming movie, the SciFi Channel is showing TV show Land of the Lost.

What's the word I'm looking for?
Hmmm... Not quite.

#542 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:05 AM:

I laughed at (as opposed to with) that show even when I was a child, Serge. I had a huge crush on the boy though.

The movie looks stupid too. That lead actor, whose name I will not use here, does embarrassment comedy exclusively, and I hate hate hate embarrassment comedy.

#543 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Having lived for the last year or so with someone learning to sew, I have all the respect in the world for anyone willing to push through the myriad frustrations involved in actually producing a piece of wearable clothing from scratch.

(I also have a new level of respect for the creativity and verve of the imprecations which can be hurled at an uncooperative piece of cloth.)

I'm actually sort of curious what specifically it is that motivates people to pick up hobbies like this. (I ask mainly because I'm feeling guilty about my own situation. I've been unemployed for a while now, and have precious little to show for my copious free time.) So what is it that people find to motivate them to go out and make something? And could you spare a little of that motivation for me?

Incidentally, Diatryma, Tera E is reading over my shoulder and sends her regards. She also wonders why you're spending all this time sewing when you have yet to deliver on the flying monkeys.

#544 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:48 AM:

Land of the Lost was a guilty pleasure as a kid. I knew it was bad, and campy, and had a budget not much larger than my wallet, but there was a strange charm to it.

It had a certain, "Swiss Family Robinson" romance which was vaguely charming.

I also seem to recall thinking the girl was cute.

#545 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:53 AM:

LLA (540): Yeah, it's not worth moving cross-country to be near a Joann's. If the Fabric Mill were still open, on the other hand...

#546 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:59 AM:

Chris W, first thought was approximately, "What the blistering f*?" followed by sitting back laughing. Still laughing. The cat is used to this.

The flying monkeys have been put on hold pending admittance to a lab that works with animal tissue. I can do anecdotes about my lack of superpowers and get in touch with the folks working with radioactive explosives-- we feed them to trees. Hippie bombs!

For those who are not me and Tera E, friends from way back. Not quite the oldest good friend I have, but hee.

#547 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:00 PM:

making stuff: scarf and second skein of yarn in drawer at work (because the software runs slooowly most of the time). Shawl in progress, for knitting on train. More shawls in progress at home - different ones. I have beads on order for a couple of patterns; I have the yarn to do the 'birds dancing in the snow' shawl (that one includes kidney hooks and paper tags, to identify which foot is where).

Need a couple more circular needles, though .....

#548 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Chris W. @ 543:

In my case, mommy see, monkey do.

I watched my Mom make Mother/Daughter dresses like Abi just finished and wanted to learn to do what she did.

So years of early observation were finally met, by a very wise mother, with encouragement to try it myself. She didn't place any expectations of instantaneous perfection on me. In fact, knowing that I'm an experiential learner who thrives on getting theory from books and pictures, she bought me a bunch of books with good pictures, set me up with a few basic concepts at each stage, then left me to make hay while she retreated to the kitchen. She was always within call if I needed her, but never judged me if I made a mistake (she had, in fact anticipated that mistakes would be part of the learning process, so she bought twice the amount of fabric I would need -- under the guise of my being able to make a blouse to match the skirt once I'd mastered that first skill).

So when I made the inevitable mistakes, we had the material to fix them!

I've had my own times of not feeling like I have enough to show for myself, and sewing is a very practical way of saying: "See -- I can at least ensure I'll never scare the world by making them see me naked!"

#549 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:09 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 545:

If you're ever planning to come to L.A. and will have a few free hours, P.M. me and I'll take you shopping in the garment district. It's not the same as having a really good fabric store nearby (because, due to the lack of truth in labeling, sometimes you find deals and sometimes you're just dealt), but it can definitely be fun!

#550 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Chris W. Depends on what one means by making. I took up knitting again, but it seems to be desultory (that's in part because I am not skilled enough to avoid serious frustrations at just how lacking in perfection is my knitting, and in part because I go overboard, and then my Reiter's flares up, and I am not good for much of anything which needs hands, but I did bring my needles with me to Tennessee. I may work on something while flying to Calif. at the end of June).

Photos.... They happen. This is perhaps not really true, but even in my slack times, there isn't a week I don't shoot 30-50 frames. It's a passion, and obsession and something of a need.

I somehow doubt that helps you much with how to get started.

I'd say it's finding something, and then managing to get enough success that it's self-reinforcing (even my struggles with knitting is rewarding. My failures are both instructive, and fun).

#551 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:48 PM:

Xopher @ 542... I usually stay away from the movies of he-shall-not-be-named, although I did like the movie elf, in spite of him. Having Bob Newhart in it did help.

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Terry Karney @ 544... I didn't have access to cable otherwise I'd probably have watched it because, heck, how much SF was there on TV? As for the girl, yes, she's cute. One question: was she the sister or the girlfriend of the boy? I have to ask because, in the one scene I saw(*), a bunch of lizard people have show up so the boy plops down on his hands and his knees behind a bush, and the girl is clinging to him so tightly from behind that I wondered if she was trying to... you know...

(*) My wife made it clear that we were not going to keep watching that show.

#553 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM:

I'm knitting my second pair of socks, ever. I'm trying Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' top to toe pattern, and have gotten muddled in turning the heel halfway through, and need to rip back and fix it.

I am also making a listing of all the books I own on librarything, and making my room neater, cleaner, and less cluttered.

Chris W. at 543,

I make things. It's what I do. I was fascinated by cross stitch and embroidery as a child, though no one took my requests to learn seriously (or they weren't communicated in such a manner that they were clearly requests). When I was 13, my mother taught me basic cross stitch, and from there I've taught myself several other embroidery techniques. When I was 15, she taught me how to make the sewing machine sew a straight line, and I've taught myself some other basic sewing from that.

At 34, I can knit, crochet, sew, embroider, and tat. I have some equipment and materials to spin and weave, but have set that aside for now, since I have some other things which should take up my time. I'm limiting myself to fiber hobbies, since I have finite amounts of time and money, and infinite amounts of interest in trying new techniques and making different things!

There may be a familial component involved in this - my sweetheart is a Maker, as is his mother. My mother sewed for us and did other crafty things when I was a child, and my father has always worked on the house, made furniture and cabinets and renovations. I grew up seeing my grandmother knit and crochet and embroider. My brother handcrafts fine wood archeology trowel handles for himself and his colleagues. Maybe seeing other people making as we were growing told us we could make too.

#554 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:10 PM:

I keep thinking I ought to do a run to Michael Levine for a bolt of gingham, to use for fitting patterns. Also for trying out some of the Victorian pattern books I got from Dover ('oh, so that's a riding habit'). It requires someone who has a larger car than mine and is willing to drive downtown, because I won't. (I commute by train.)

#555 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:25 PM:

Serge: Sister (it was father, son daughter, as I recall. The show ran long enough to 1: Fall apart in terms of plotting) and 2: need some romantic interest, so more people showed up.

Cable? I saw it on broadcast/reruns. Then again, I tend to forget you aren't from around these parts.

#556 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:45 PM:

Terry Karney @ 555... Yeah. The only way I could have access to all those American TV shows would have been for our family to get cable, and they weren't going to shell out any money for that. (Besides, they spoke no English.) First thin I did when I moved to my own place was to get cable, thus accelerating the brain rot between my ears.

#557 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:47 PM:

P J Evans @ 554:

We could have a Making Light excursion!

I take the train downtown, then the shuttle to the garment district purely as a way of enforcing a little self-control. If I drove, the suspension on my car might struggle over the weight in the trunk!

I do love Dover books though! (Must NOT buy more sewing books :-{).

#558 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Winston Rowntree, who did the cartoon in the 'Demographics of obnoxious assholes in the larger community' particle, also did a lovely cartoon called Trolls for his own webcomic, Subnormality.

Note that you are likely to doubt my use of the adjective 'lovely.' Scroll down, and keep reading.

#559 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Paul Duncanson @ 520:

Those are excellent photos.

heresiarch @ 526:

Please offer my apologies to the good professor. As you can well see, I obviously missed that step.

Lila @ 534:

If a person seriously believes that they're Cleopatra or a Dragon or Goku or whatever, I'll think they're nuts. However, unless it gets in the way of proper social functioning, it really doesn't matter to me. ("Are you saved?" and "Hi, I'm a dragon!" are both ways of making people not want to talk to you.)

Now, it does matter in the sense that a person who's constantly fretting that they're human and will never be a wolf isn't going to be happy, and that will affect all sorts of things.

Diatryma @ 536:

The people that I've come across like this still behave in very human ways.

Chris W. @ 543:

I often need to have some sort of motivation for doing something. I can sew (not well), for example, but I don't do anything with it at the moment because I don't need to. I have been working on and off on the computer game that I'll never make, but I think I got distracted from that again. You just find something that you need to do, I guess. That's as best I can figure it.

On the other hand, my grandmother makes fancy jackets, vests/waistcoats, quilts, and tote bags because they look pretty. They're hers, not something that anyone can buy in a store. And they look really good, too.

I really need to get off my backside and take more photos. Usually I only take them when I'm travelling, and, while I think they're nice, they're not the only photos I should be taking. I should probably bite the bullet and get a slightly smaller camera, on the grounds that it's easier to take with me.

#560 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:07 PM:

So much of making things is the assumption that it is possible. I fixed my printer by assuming it was possible to do and impossible to break it further; same with refinishing the table I'd wrecked with my plants. The tiny-stitchy filet piece happened because I can do chains and double crochets and it looked simple enough. The anemone hat happened because I figured it had to be possible somehow, and if I screwed up I could stick a 'nemonemone on.

It's the knowledge that other people make things that gives me courage to try.

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:24 PM:

Diatryma @560:
So much of making things is the assumption that it is possible.

Oh, yes, very much so. I owe my junior high school woodshop teacher a great debt in this area. He was the one that taught me that I could handle power tools and make mechanical things work. The fact that I am the Fixer of Things around my house is directly attributable to the way that Mr Matteson taught me to make that cutting board.

Chris W @543:
I make things because I like holding the finished thing in my hands, and because after a day of pushing bits, it's good to do something tangible.

After being in the habit of making things for so long, I've become addicted. When I travel, I bring a small subset of my bindery (the "Bad Egg", because the main bindery is the Evilrooster Bindery). When I watch TV, I tend to do some kind of handwork.

Of course, after a while small creations aren't enough to satisfy the urge. Then I have to start doing bigger things, more complex things, more notable things...

I reassure myself that I could stop any time I wanted to, but I'm not actually certain that's the case.

#562 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:40 PM:

I confess, I was totally unaware of the Otherkin phenomena until now, and my mind, she boggles. I've read the comments here with great interest, and am walking around in circles, not sure what to think.

Lila at 534, you asked with regard to anorexia: who is more qualified to decide whether a person should die than the person him/herself? One answer might be, someone or someones who love that person... since what anorexics do to themselves is not generated by love. (By the way, anyone with even a passing interest in anorexia might want to read Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Fiction, YA. It's one hell of a book.)

#563 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:41 PM:

Oh, debcha, that is a lovely cartoon, despite my cringe at the first panel.

#564 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:45 PM:

Clifton, I'm glad you concur. It seemed particularly appropriate for the Fluorosphere.

#565 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 02:46 PM:

LLA (549): Deal!

I make things because it's fun and I like the sense of accomplishment. My mother taught me to sew as a girl, both simple garments and simple stuffed animals. I then stopped for many years, but picked back up as an adult. She also taught me basic knitting, but I was never very good and would have to learn again from scratch. If I hadn't found a basic stuffed-animal book then a basic quilting book about 15 years ago, I might be more eager to take up knitting again. But after years of no hobbies at all (unless you count reading) the last thing I need at this point is another one.

I think it's partly what you are exposed to, especially when you are young. My interest in quilting was piqued by an early boss, although I didn't realize it until I came across that book.

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Abi @ 561... after a day of pushing bits, it's good to do something tangible

When we were living in Toronto, my parents visited us from Quebec City. When my dad saw a bed table I had made, he was impressed. I guess he didn't realize that all these years of my helping him around the house had rubbed off on me. Getting such approval from the man who'd built the place where I grew up was priceless.

#567 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 03:34 PM:

As to making things...

I've been thinking lately that that may be one of the main things missing in my life, to make me happier. I don't have stuff I'm making now, other than software or computers; I haven't done much of any physical creating stuff since we finished the carpentry, drywalling and painting and got the house finally fixed up some years back.

I've been doing a lot of pulling order out of chaos lately, but I don't find that personally rewarding or creative in the same way.

#568 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 04:03 PM:

I take nonfunctional plumbing and make slightly more functional plumbing out of it. Mostly. At least this week. (Blog, for those who missed the first announcement. Comments warmly welcome; they help.)

#569 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 567:

I said above that I do all crafts female but sewing and ironing. What I left out is that I do not do cleaning -- unless I have to clean up the mess of the last project (or visitors are coming -- horrors!) enough to start the new project.

In fact, making chaos out of order is one of the hardest, yet most satisfying steps in crafting. To sew a shirt, I must first take a perfectly good piece of fabric (one I may have been petting for years because it just feels so nice) and cut it into pieces. Then I have to take those neatly sorted pieces and unsort them, attaching like to unlike, pushing through any problems that come up until I finally (I hope), have a garment that is worth wearing.

It's a risk -- but it's sometimes the risk that makes it so fun (kinda like going to 'Vegas and leaving with an additional shirt!).

(Plus, it keeps my hands busy -- and busy hands don't move food to my mouth, which is a great way to diet!)

Michael Roberts @ 568:

Actually, it sounds like you're making a house that could have been destroyed as a blight on the community (if it had been left in the bank's hands much longer) into a home -- which takes the act of creation to a whole 'nother level!

#570 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 565:

Sounds like a party!

(Although I must admit I misread your last sentence to be, "My interest in quilting was "piquéd" by an early boss" the first time through ;-)).

Now if we can just get P.J. Evans to join us....

#571 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 05:28 PM:

No Memorial Day thread, so:


The young man watched the old man set the wreath
Leaned up against the cold grey stone, and stand,
Head bowed, a moment more; then turn and walk
Away. "Excuse me, sir," he said, "if I
Might have a moment of your time?" The old
One paused, and turned, and waited. "Why do you
Adorn the stone this way?" The old man said:
"This stone's put up to honor those who died
To save this land, its people, and its ways."
"But what is that to you?" the young man said.
"Did you bear arms yourself, and fight and live
To honor those who fought and died?" "Oh no,"
The old man said, "too young for that war, old
For this; the wars have passed me by." "Then have
You friends or kin who died?" the young man pressed,
"A father, brother, son?" "My father's dead,
My brother too, but never one in war,"
Came his reply. "Then why," the young one asked,
"Do you, who've neither fought, nor comrades lost,
Nor kin, nor friend, lay flowers here? Pray tell
Me now; I listen." Then the old man stood
And stared, through tear-filled eyes, upon the fair
And unlined face of Youth itself before
Him: strong the limbs, and deep the chest; clear skin;
The shoulders broad. At length he said "One day
You'll know; one day you'll see, or maybe if
Some spirit blesses you, you never will."
With that the old man turned, and leaning on
His cane, walked off into the cold grey dawn.
The young man watched him go, and smiling picked
His rifle up, and vanished like the mist.

#572 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 06:01 PM:

Mez #336:

Re: the couple who took off after a bank accidentally deposited NZ$10 million in their account.

They are still out of the country & the authorities are scratching around for something to charge them with. It can be difficult applying the law in a rapidly changing world:

From the article: "Inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant David Harvey said yesterday a theft charge would not be applicable as the couple had not physically handled the money involved."

#573 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Probably not via train, though: from where I am, it's only Amtrak on weekends. On the other hand, I do have some available vacation time ....

#574 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 07:42 PM:

LLA (570): Don't hold your breath; I'm on the wrong coast for a visit any time soon. :)

#575 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Mary Aileen, LLA, P.J. Evans:

My esteemed spouse has made up a map of the the Los Angeles garment district. It's a work in progress, imperfect and not canonical, toward an eventual guide book to the area.

She's willing to share it with you for your trip. If this would be helpful, let me know and she'll find somewhere to post it for you.

#576 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 08:45 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 517: THEY MADE HER! I've been saying they needed to make a Jewish doll from that era for TEN YEARS!!! Her hair threw me off for a minute -- but SHE EXISTS!

I will now forgive them for not making Molly, whose birthday party dress is IDENTICAL to my mother's own fifth birthday dress, a Jewish girl.

#577 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:09 PM:

LLA @ 530, 1914 predates the flapper-era bust-binding, IIRC. In any case, that's a child's dress, drop-waisted and not fitted through the bodice.

My suggestion in creating such a dress for an adult woman is to make the entire bodice large enough to hang loosely from the shoulders and skim the bust, and position the sash starting across the buttocks or just below. Expect it to be FAR larger than your actual waist measurement. That's just how those dresses are.

#578 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:26 PM:

Oh, sewing!

I wish I liked to sew; I know how to do it, but was forced through 4H and Home Ec to make things which I looked terrible in and had no fun making until it became something I greatly enjoy not doing. Only I've hated the length and/or fabric and/or cut of most clothing for several years (not to mention that many retailers make collections in one color only) and my wardrobe is unsatisfactory at best.

(I've worked myself to a standstill today and am sitting waiting to be fed stir-fry a la Miss Perfect, now being prepared in the kitchen).

#579 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Diatryma @ 539:

I should have said (but don't think I did clearly), that I would rather have your machine than a fancy, expensive new model for straight sewing than anything but the 35 year-old (then expensive) machine that I've got.

I personally value the evenness of the straight stitches your machine is capable of achieving is much more important than any of the bells and whistles now available.

If you're working on your thesis, just keep this thought under your hat. I love sewing -- and have been so empowered by my ability to say, "And you call THAT fashion?!?," that I love to share any tidbits I've learned along the way with anyone who is willing to listen. In other words, feel free to P.M. me if you have any questions your sewing friend handles with attachments or zig-zag stitches your machine can't duplicate. Many of the most expensive, most durable seam finishes can be easily duplicated on a straight stitch machine, and you don't need a buttonholer (unless you desperately want one).

I also have a trick for judging whether the tension on your machine is appropriate that is simple, easy to apply, and quite intuitive -- I've just never seen it in print, so I'd love to share it with you (but don't want to bore people who are already happy with the method they use).

Mary Aileen @ 574:

Just because we're the left coast doesn't mean we're gauche!

I'll await your convenience with pleasure.

P.J. Evans @ 573:

If you're still interested, it looks like it's just you and me for now; P.M. me. I might be able to work in a trip on a Friday several weeks from now.

Tom Barclay @ 575:

That sounds fascinating! (I don't suppose your wife would like to be a tour guide?).

#580 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:45 PM:

JESR @ 578:

I can almost smell the stir-fry and am drooling....

I had an English teacher in high school who taught me to hate Charles Dickens (because she thought he was the greatest writer EVER). I've since been loosening my stance because I'm enjoying the Masterpiece Theatre depictions.

But I didn't take Home Ec. for the reasons you've listed -- I didn't need to make an apron (the standard first project at the time) and I already knew the course would reverse my mom's great job in teaching me to find the "right way" as "the way that works for me."

If you're unhappy with the clothes in the stores, you've nailed one reason I make my own. Who needs to waste time browsing through clothes that just depress you? Who needs to spend money on clothes that (for me) don't fit, are fugly, and cost much and give little enjoyment.

I'm just saying....

No, I'm not obsessive about this part of my life :-P.

#581 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:42 PM:

Rikibeth @576 Well, not quite yet. We've got another week to wait. I discovered her existence when the idea of an American Girls themed costume group was suggested by a friend and immediately pounced.

The hair is apparently darker than in the picture (it's a dark brown in the books), and there's a good chance the light color is just a lighting issue.

My grandparents came to America from Russia around that time.

This picture is of the mini doll and I snagged it from the B&N site because I don't feel comfortable hotlinking.

LLA @530 and Ribekah @577 My idea was closer to Ribekah's. The top looks boxy enough that it should either conceal or lessen the effect of my bust, and if it shows a little, that's okay. I'm mostly looking for a basic pattern for that sort of dress (drop waist, a-line skirt). I'm almost tempted to start looking at knee-length coat patterns, but I'm not sure if that would be quite right.

#582 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:54 PM:


She's been a tour guide to the area, but there are mobility and health issues right now. You're projecting a couple of weeks away, though, so perhaps something can be arranged.

#583 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 10:58 PM:

LLA @569 - well, the rest of the neighborhood is basically just like it, and is regarded now as trending upwards. (Especially due to the addition of one more owner-occupant.) Most of this damage, sadly, was sustained before foreclosure; it's a long story. In the event, the bank only had possession of it for about three weeks. This isn't your typical horror story of bank negligence, to my mild surprise.

The previous owner operated five houses, all adjacent, effectively as a residential ministry. Which is to say he has a lot of stories to tell, and at this point appears to be transitioning out of that phase of his life, having taken all he could. He lost three of the five to foreclosure, and is still operating two (living in a room in one, as he lived in mine until December).

The other two foreclosed houses were bought by another lady on the street, who says that she really didn't want to get into landlording but prefers to try it herself rather than allow Indianapolis speculators do the slumlord thing. The neighborhood's had plenty of that, I think. Most of the houses are one-time mansions which have been subdivided to within an inch of their lives and treated very badly indeed for a very long time indeed.

At any rate, while the former owner did some really good work -- the ceilings and roof are quite good -- some of the damage I'm seeing is due to mistakes in maintenance. The roof drainage is atrocious, and there is one specific spot where a visible leak in the gutter is draining inside the wall of the dining room, leading to the wallpaper falling off the wall. And since there are no gutters in many places, and the gutters that do exist are not directed away from the house properly, the basement is damp and smells pretty bad.

But these things are fixable. Seriously, when I look at the starting point of many house-blog houses, I got an incredible bargain here. My house is actually in very, very good shape for $8000. I'm still better off than if I'd really had to replumb from scratch, and that was what I had expected before seeing it last week.

#584 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:09 PM:

Hilary @ 581, if I were using a commercial pattern as a starting point, I might actually choose a chef's coat, because I'm not confident that I'd find something else with an asymmetrical closure (the buttons ALL the way at one side of the bodice?) that matched. And I'd be concerned about getting things like facings correct. I'm pretty good at drafting princess-seamed bodices and bodices with 17th-18th century curved back seams freehand on a muslin, and adding skirts and sleeves is trivial for me, but collars and facings are the tricky parts as far as I'm concerned.

A double-breasted coat might, in fact, be a reasonable starting point, if you're willing to shift the buttons all the way to the edge.

I might also decide to grit my teeth and do a draped muslin and THEN check a commercial pattern that had the sort of collar required and copy the facings from THAT. If you've got a dress form (or you're working on someone else, which you're not), that's often the best way to get exactly the look you want if commercial patterns don't have the right lines or don't exist in your size.

#585 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:39 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 581:

A little after 1914, I have a photo of my grandmother wearing a Liberty bodice as a young woman. By the time she was married and had her first child (when fashions such as the one you showed started to hit the adult market, via the flappers), I have a photo of her wearing a similarly asymmetrical, drop-waisted dress, but she needed princess seams to accommodate what was never a "busty" figure -- so if you can find a chef's jacket pattern that uses the asymmetry on the one side to cover the shoulder-to waist shaped seam and has a duplicate seam over the right bust, you should be able to make a good approximation.

Since this seems to matter to you more than just as a simple costume, you might want to fuss more with fitting than you might otherwise.

Tom Barkley @ 582:

Guard her health first; anything else would be a blessing!

Michael Roberts @ 583:

You're a better man than I! I'm just fascinated by your progress!

#586 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:00 AM:

Re: sewing and making stuff -- am nearly finished with a summer jumper dress. I'm very pleased, because I had to do a lot of adjusting. This was an experiment to see if the pattern would work for me; now I'm going to make another one with some wool I bought last winter. One of the best presents my husband's ever given me was a dress form. (You can make your own, you know!) I still refer to my old Simplicity sewing book for lots of excellent information on sewing, and especially detailed fitting, techniques.

My mom sewed a lot of things for me, and taught me the basics. One of the coolest things she ever did was make me a one-piece paper pattern so I could make dresses for my troll. Sew up the side seams, add a snap, et voilà. Perfect for a 6-yo who still sewed by hand. I haunted the remnant bins for exotic fabric. But my troll wasn't just a fashionista. I constructed a bow and arrows out of colorful electrical wire, with a matching quiver, plus a set of dishes made from Playdoh I shaped and let dry out.

My class was the first which wasn't required to take Home Ec/Shop. In a way that was a huge relief. Ye gods, if there was something I knew quite a bit about already, it was the Domestic Arts. On the other hand, it would have been cool to have learned how to use other tools by taking shop. My 14-yo self wouldn't have agreed, though, and it may not have been permitted in my school district (it would certainly have been unconventional; OTOH, probably still more possible for me than a boy wanting to take Home Ec).

So making things... the bug bit early, as so many have said, but I don't think it's ever too late to start. It's similar to trying anything, IMO. You get intrigued by something (inline skating, Japanese cooking, Proust) and want to try it, get personally involved instead of just watch or buy a finished product.

#587 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:06 AM:

KeithS, #404: YES!!!

abi, #422: That's fabulous! It sounds like an interesting story, too -- are you and she going to write it down?

debcha, #442: This is where speaking Cat comes in handy. "Of course I meant to do that!"

KeithS, #446: Ballet? How cool! That's definitely a topic to discuss at FiestaCon...

Bruce, #463: ...says Alice.

Xopher, #492: I have a friend who is Otherkin. My opinion is, it doesn't hurt me or anyone else for her to believe that (including herself, as she is fully functional, holds down a good job, and has a healthy social circle), so I'm not going to give her grief about it. I don't believe it for a second, but I treat that the same way I treat some of my friends' political beliefs that I don't share -- we just don't discuss it.

Soon Lee, #516: Interesting. I wonder if this has any bearing on my consistent perception that the aroma of passionfruit has a slight but detectable undercurrent of cat pee?

Linkmeister, #523: The consultants and managers don't perceive a problem with the thermostat because they, being Corporate and male, all wear suits. This is a problem of long standing for women who work in Corporate surroundings, and would easily extend to male underlings who are obligated to wear the lighter-weight Fancy Uniform.

What am I making? Right now, not enough -- my workspace got pretty well trashed during the Ike and Re-Roofing events, and I'm being intimidated by the magnitude of trying to re-order it enough to actually work in it again. OTOH, I seem to have a poem simmering for the first time in some years -- I just need to decide whether it will work better as a double-dactyl or in the Old Scandinavian alliterative-stresses style.

Chris W, I don't have a good answer for why I make things; it's something I've always done, although the creative impulse chooses different ways to express itself at different times. When I was a kid, it was almost entirely musical; as I got older, that mutated into poetry and filk, with a few side-excursions into fanfic; now it's mostly jewelry and kumihimo. I don't have the patience to do things that take a long time to complete, like knitting or cross-stitch -- I want to spend a few hours working on something and have it done. (This also cuts down on the number of UFOs around the house!) But the urge to create things appears to be a basic part of my identity.

#588 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:13 AM:

What I actually made this weekend: I had this filet piece that I finished a while back, and it needed black cloth behind it to look like anything. So cheap-cheap black cloth, cut with amazing rotary cutter thing, press and pin, measure... nope, repeat, hem, and stitch on. Now I have one actual finished thing from nearly three years of work, albeit three years of mostly ignoring it.

I also looked at the dress pattern and was intimidated out of it. After the house is cleaner and I can spread out a bit more. You wouldn't think something with six pieces would be so worrisome, but I have to decide which of several six-piece sets to cut.

If I screw it up, as I well might, pillow slips. Lots of pretty pillow slips in coordinating colors and patterns.

#589 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:23 AM:

Rikibeth @584, LLA @585 A chef's coat sounds like a good starting point. I'm not sure that I want to fuss too much about the fitting - I'd like to keep this as simple as possible. While I have faith that I can turn out a passible dress, I don't make much clothing and am not apt to start.

Though I'm starting to think that the a-line skirt effect is misleading, and can be achieved by a straight up and down dress or coat that is then cinched by the belt.

#590 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:38 AM:

Hilary @589, from the doll picture, I'd say that's a straight-up-and-down dress with an A-line effect created by cinching the sash. It'd certainly make the closure simpler if it opened all the way down instead of opening to a waist seam and then having a separate closed skirt piece attached -- and you can hide a strategic snap or two to keep the skirt flap from coming open.

So, yeah... find chef's coat, extend all panels to dress length, add sash. Having some way for the sash to anchor to the dress when it's all together (hidden hooks or snaps would look more like the doll than sash loops) would help keep it looking like the doll.

Bonus: the same pattern will work for Dr. Horrible's lab coat!

#591 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:45 AM:

Debbie @ 586: so I could make dresses for my troll.

I have to say it took me about a minute to remember those little plastic things with the outrageous hair. Until then, that was a very different mental image.

Lee @ 587:

Glad you're interested. There are a hell of a lot of recipes that people have posted here.

Sorry to hear about the workplace mess. The way I approach cleaning is to ignore it for a while, and then all of a sudden the urge to clean comes over me. I'm not sure that's all that helpful, though.

#592 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 12:55 AM:

Re: Making stuff
I'm trying to make my house look like it's worth what I need to sell it for. To that end, I've just put up floating shelves on a small strip of wall that has always looked like it needed floating shelves, and will eventually tile the wall between with the same tile going on the fireplace. When I get around to that...

In between all the aaiiiiiigh!-inducing projects I need to get done in the next three or so months, I will be painting many elongated pennies with a ridiculously tiny brush, and smiling with plastic encouragement at craft-store customers who really don't want to make anything.

Why come to a craft store then, you ask?
I don't know.

#593 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Lee #587:
It's probable. The sulfur compounds responsible for the aroma of passionfruit are also the ones found in Sauvignon blanc wine. One of these, 3MHA, is described as smelling of "boxwood" which can be reminiscent of cat pee to some people.

The "boxwood" descriptor applies to the the S enantiomer. The mirror-image form, the R enantiomer, is described as "passionfruit". It is not uncommon for enantiomers of the same compound to have different aroma descriptors.

Re:Making stuff.
Does food count? I got roped in to help supply food for a harvest party. Our little group was to organise food to go with aromatic white wines (Sauvignon blanc, Pinot gris etc). We ended up making three platters: smoked salmon sushi, hot-smoked salmon with organic sourdough bread, and BBQed mussels with a basil pesto dip. All that the second needed was assembly, though we did make the sushi & BBQ the mussels ourselves.

#594 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:05 AM:

Pendrift & Jakob

Thanks to both of you for your assistance with my trip to Tilburg via Brussels, particularly regarding trains and beers. It was a good conference, the journeys to and from went well, and I managed both to drink some pleasant beers at la Becasse and to bring several bottles of good beers back to enjoy at home with my husband.

#595 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:35 AM:

KeithS @ 591 -- well, that may be a useful image for the online sort, too.

And also @ 404 -- nearly forgot, but me too! (I'm having Teresa's Cold Beef Salad for lunch today, as a matter of fact.)

#596 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:24 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 589:

I've been playing with ideas for how *I* would recreate that doll dress ('cause, frankly, your challenge is more fun than making the same scrub top, scrub pants, and scrub jacket pattern my mom loves to wear -- no matter how much I love her!) and, after a quick Google for chef's jacket patterns, I've changed my mind on how *I* would approach your costume (your mileage may very well vary -- I've always said there's no right or wrong way to approach a crafting problem; only the one that works for you!)

The Folkwear Chef's coat pattern I found would probably drive you buggy with the alterations it would require to match your model. The McCall's pattern (now out of print) doesn't have the seaming I suspect it would take to flatter you (I'm a lowly C-cup and I know that, given the fact that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the fact that that line would stretch from point-of-bust to point-of-hip means that the lack of seaming would make me look more matronly (aka fat) than I already am)-- and neither has an already-drafted collar to match what you want to recreate.

On the other hand, a pattern like Vogue 2991, which has a seam from shoulder to hip, can easily be adjusted for a fuller bust and can just as easily be transformed to give you an asymmetrical look without excess fabric around the midsection.

The first step is to re-draw the bustline to fit your figure (it's not as painful as it sounds! Really!) If you go to a website like (sorry, I'm severely .html challenged!), you'll be told how to measure your bust correctly. With four seamlines across the front (2 side center seamlines and 2 center-front seamlines -- ignore the center front seam and treat the button-hole/center front line as a "cut one piece on fold of fabric" line), you can divide up the additions by four (in my case, a 1/4 inch addition over each of the bust curves takes care of the fitting challenge!).

You'll have to adjust the length for your desired back-of-neck to waist measurement. Once you've done this, since the fitting seamlines stretch from shoulder-to-hip, nothing could be simpler than adding the doll's button band (a straight piece of 3-1/4 inch contrast fabric, folded in half, then sewn to the garment with a 5/8" seam, which would yield the conventional 1 inch overlap that preserves modesty but doesn't require the front to be double-breasted, conserving fabric and keeping the garment slimming).

Constructing your own facings for such a revision is a lot easier than it sounds: simply trace the pattern edge as designed, scribe a rough 2-5/8 - 3" width inside that line, then use a photocopier (or scanner) to reduce the dimensions you've just drawn to about 98%. This reduction guarantees that the facing (once eased and edge-stitched) will always lay on the inside of the garment and will never peek over onto the outside.

Next, take a ruler and draw a line over the side seam to eliminate the curve at the waist (in fact, you may want to make the bodice more a-line by widening it a bit at he hip. Ignore the back shaping (unless you have a prominent posterior, which I do) and tape the pieces together to make a single pattern piece (the points that need to generally match are the armseye and the shoulder (don't forget to overlap the 5/8" seams here. Give the back the same treatment at the sides to create a straight/A-line contour at the waist.

Elongate the sleeve length so that you can cut it in one piece by measuring your point-of shoulder to wrist, then draw a hem (about 1-1/2") that is a mirror image of the elongated portion.

You'll have to treat the collar as a separate piece (which was the norm for the period). This isn't as hard as it sounds. Construct the collar just as you would if you were going to sew it into the garment, then, instead, sew one side (at the fold) of a quadruple-fold bias tape to the seamline of the nearly-completed collar. Trim the collar to match the width of the bias-tape seamline, then enclose the seamline by top-stitching the other fold (and edges) of the bias tape to form a neat, tidy package. Sew matching snaps to the center back, shoulder seams, and center front of both the garment and wrong-side of the collar (separate collars and cuffs were the norm on all garments of that era and earlier because they received the most wear -- this is a modern approximation of the technique).

Once you have a solid idea of how wide the hip-measurement of the garment will be, you can cut the skirt as a rectangle, then make a sash as Rikibeth suggested.

All these long explanations may sound complicated, but I promise -- they're much less work than drafting from scratch and not much harder than making the pattern as commercially drawn.

#597 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 01:08 PM:

LLA at 578, the stir fry (Yakima Asparagus, Broccoli, sweet onion over brown rice, with charcoal grilled lime/ginger/garlic steak strips) was indeed dandy. Then, too, anything I did not do the prep for is twenty times tastier, and Miss Perfect, BA, newly home from UM Missoula, is still glad to have a kitchen to use without walking two miles off campus.

I'm old enough that Home Ec was a requirement in eighth grade and two years of high school, and I was signed up in sewing in 4-H at ten or so. Miss P. and I are conspiring to get a sewing machine repaired (it is possible that I am conspiring against her) and then we can trade off the bits I loathe or have mechanical difficulties with- cutting out and machine seaming, notably- and I will do lay out and matching plaids and instruction and also the fiddly bits of hand-finishing. She wants summer dresses and skirts; I want a good old-fashioned wool walking skirt of the sort Edwardian ladies climbed mountains in (I'm in possession of said wool).

#598 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:01 PM:

Debbie @586: Thank you for the dress form links! I rushed out to buy duct tape a couple of hours ago, and now my clone is sitting in the living room (though I still have to find enough batting to fill 'er up). I may actually finally make my very first dress after years of postponing the task.

I wish I'd paid more attention to sewers as a kid. While I learned to use a treadle-type sewing machine as early as age 6, or perhaps even earlier, I never actually watched the sewers I knew as they drafted patterns or assembled the pieces.

I'm still having trouble convincing myself that it's okay to mess up whatever cloth I buy. It's the main thing holding me back. Then again, since I'm having more and more trouble finding things that fit properly, I may well end up taking the plunge. Learning to sew now feels like a necessity.

Chris W. @543, I've always enjoyed fiddling with things and learning new skills, but the drive is sporadic and short-lived. I have an annoying tendency to abandon hobbies once I've learned the basics, although I go back to them after periods of dormancy. Examples include blogging, calligraphy, scrapbooking, knitting, playing the trumpet... I could go on and on.

Mind you, I have every intention of going back to them, but once a shiny new hobby comes my way, I go "oh look! purty!" and chase after it. Filipinos use the expression ningas cogon (literally, to burn like cogon grass) to describe intense but brief bursts of enthusiasm. It's a trait I seem to have in spades.

#599 ::: Hilary L Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:05 PM:

LLA #596 I've got my measurements and I recently had myself fitted for new bras, so I know that the bust measurements are accurate.

I'm not sure how I missed the Vogue pattern (perhaps the piping stripes mislead me). But our minds were working along the same lines as I was looking at Burda 8292 which is a similar shape, but slightly longer and was wondering if I dared try to enlarge it.

But looking at the Vogue pattern, I think it will work. I will need to look at the actual pattern to interpret some of your suggestions and to figure out what alterations I'd need to give it the dropped waist look.

I think that for the asymetrical part, I'd just copy over the front right pattern up to the princess seam, add a seam allowance, and add that to the front left pattern, then trim down the right size to an overlap I feel comfortable with. Because it will be worn in Atlanta in early September, I want to use a relatively lightweight cotton for the dress (there are several options at my local fabric shop), so the layering shouldn't affect the shaping too much in front.

I might decide to bring it in a little at the shoulders or to lengthen it a little (but I'm short so it may fall to my knees as is).

I like your ideas for the collars and cuffs.

What I think I'll do is make a muslin test pattern and see how it fits before deciding on alterations. Part of the reason I'm starting this now, is so that I have time to get over some of the bumps and redo it as necessary.

#600 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:25 PM:

The nearest I've come to making clothes is by working on CGI models. For instance, the pants in this piratical picture.

I then spent quite a bit of time sorting out the UV mapping, to avoid the messy look along the sides of the legs.

A UV map is a two-dimensional projection of the surface of the object, which can be as awkward as a map of the world, or which can be similar to the pattern used for making real clothes.

If you can manage a style of a clothing pattern, it's very easy to get a good result from a simple texture.

At some point I want to put this particular teddy-bear into a Denison smock -- see the end of this page for an example.

One of the oddities I've come across is a web-page, apparently on behalf of a Chinese company, offering replicas in wholesale quantities. If you were a modern day "Cat" Shannon you could so aome things very differently.

#601 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:47 PM:

Aw, crap. (A.K.A. California Supreme Court splits the baby, makes everyone unhappy.)

#602 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:32 PM:

KeithS, not a surprise, but not good news either. There's a lively discussion of it going on over at Scalzi's blog.

#603 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Well, *$&@^#$! I just spent two days fixing the wrong pipe. On the bright side, I have another hose tap working. Also, I don't have to worry about residual drippiness, because I don't actually need to leave it on. On the down side, I cut two holes in the floor to get to the leaks, and still don't have water to the carriage house. But on the bright side, I've found the pipe to the carriage house. In the kitchen.

Dammit. I may have to self-administer another viewing of Star Trek to compensate.

#604 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:50 PM:

I'm not sure that another viewing of Star Trek would improve your consciousness of spatial relationships, basic mechanical physics, etc.

#605 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Well, I've posted photos of the mother/daughter/doll dresses.

The sashes have changed since the photos. I added a couple of pleats where they're tacked down at the sides, which encourages them to fold like cummerbunds when they're tied.

Fiona and I both wore ours to our respective places of spending days on Monday. Many of my colleagues were very complimentary about the dress, so much so that I shall probably wear it again. (Some of it, of course, is that they're tired of me wearing black). Fiona reports many enthusiastic reactions as well. Her teacher was certainly impressed when I dropped her off at school.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Abi @ 605... The cute. The cute!!!

#607 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:06 PM:

JESR @ 597:

I'm old enough that Home Ec was also a requirement in my district (I actually wish it was again, given the number of kids who can't sew a button back on or cook a simple, healthful meal), but it was a loose enough requirement that I was able to waive it by showing that I already knew what they were teaching.

I can't tell you what a happy moment that was!

Meanwhile, I wish I had someone to 1) cook for me (I can do it but am also so subject to spectacular, inexplicable disasters that I try to avoid it at all costs!) and 2) split up the sewing bits I hate (in my case, I never have and never will gather fabric to my own satisfaction and ironing -- well, the less said, the better!).

And can I say, I'd love one of those walking skirts you're contemplating?!?

Hilary L Hertzoff @ 599:

The Burda pattern has seams that end in the armseye, which means you'd have to do quite a bit of re-drafting to get it to have the asymmetrical closure you want. The Vogue pattern is more expensive, but it would require little re-drafting and their patterns tend to have better, more comprehensive directions. (Unfortunately, for me, they tend to be built around a figure that has fewer curves in fewer places than I do :-{).

Garments that button at the front are drafted with the center-front marking in mind first, THEN the overlap for the button is added (so copying the whole center-front and adding more for an asymmetrical overlap will give you a neck that is twice as wide as it should be and has too much overlap at the side). With Vogue Patterns, though, the center front line should be either clearly marked or easily deduced by overlaying the separate button band (in which case the button placement represents the center front -- if not otherwise marked).

Knowing that your bust measurements are accurate means that you can use the table I linked to to draw an appropriate dot to extend the pattern piece at the point of bust (which should be clearly marked. You can use this dot to mirror the curve of the existing pattern, starting at the point where the convex curve becomes concave at the bottom and top of the bust, but just gradually adding to the curve to meet the dot at the point of bust.

The first thing that struck me about your doll's dress was the separate/contrast button band. It was really an elegant solution to the need for an overlap that didn't place buttonholes on any form of bias (this is important for both strength and draping reasons). It also makes the pattern drafting so much simpler -- you're back to cutting a piece on the fold of fabric, instead of having to cut a single fold of an asymmetrical piece.

I'm pretty brave (aka willing to gamble with fabric), so I tend to avoid muslins for all but the critical pieces and plunge in headfirst. Having said that, I take the woodworker's adage, "measure twice, cut once" pretty seriously, so I try to have all of my standard measurements (length of back-to waist, bust, waist, hip, point of shoulder to point of shoulder, point of shoulder to wrist) taken by someone else regularly. In your case, you'll want the bodice to blouse somewhat (maybe 2"?) but I'd have someone else measure your length of back to desired hip length. That should help you tremendously by minimizing time spent sewing something you'll never wear (a muslin) and the 5/8" seams are themselves insurance that you'll be able to make alterations on the fly.

I hope you'll share pikkies of the finished dress?

#608 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:07 PM:


Sympathies on the wrong-pipe, good luck for work on the correct pipe and congratulations on the removed carpet. Keep going...

#609 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 603 ...
Well, *$&@^#$! I just spent two days fixing the wrong pipe. On the bright side, I have another hose tap working. Also, I don't have to worry about residual drippiness, because I don't actually need to leave it on. On the down side, I cut two holes in the floor to get to the leaks, and still don't have water to the carriage house. But on the bright side, I've found the pipe to the carriage house. In the kitchen.

My empathies! The current house frustration here isn't as annoying as yours -- I discovered last night that the replacement (patch) flooring for my holey front bedroom does not, in fact, fit as it should, in multiple dimensions, and thus needs to be (a) planed or (b) otherwise rearranged or (c) replaced entirely and (d) grown infinitesimally in width... or (e) all of the above...

... but yes -- Grr!

#610 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:35 PM:

xeger #609:

Sympathies. We recently made the rather alarming discovery that "flat" and "level" are terms of art in the flooring trades, and are entirely independent of each other, or of any meanings as commonly understood by customers. This was in pursuit of having the bit where the floor meets the wall fixed so that the TV wouldn't try to fall off the dresser. Do not speak to me of planing--the cure was far worse than the original problem.

#611 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Joel @604 - har! True, very true.

#612 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Abi @ 605:

Could you do me a favor and keep those on the Internet in perpetuity as Exhibit A of the reason I begged my mother to teach me to sew? (Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the mother-daughter dresses my mom made -- but yours will work!)

You look gorgeous, your daughter, looks gorgeous, the doll looks gorgeous -- and the combination of all that tangible beauty and love represents so much of what has given me the confidence to face life's challenges over the years.

(And I'm totally making the shrug you linked to out of some ribbed wool jersey I haven't been able to find a use for yet!)

#613 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:47 PM:

Abi, the dresses look wonderful. I look for sundresses like that every spring, but by the time I realize I should find one I like, they're gone.

#614 ::: Hilary L Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 05:08 PM:

LLA @607 The Burda dress is also too small in all respects, so the Vogue pattern is better in all respects except price.

I am however very confused about the contrast button band you mention. It looks to me as if the front is a single piece of fabric.

I'm wary about diving in as I have been burned by that before (making dresses that didn't fit well).

And I shall post pictures once it's done. I probably won't even get the pattern and start for another week or so as I've got work related thing that will take up all of this weekend.

#615 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 05:27 PM:

My dress is, sadly, based on a pattern that's out of print now (I've lengthened it and lowered the neckline a little). I have far too many dresses from it, in linen, cotton and wool. I use them as jumpers/pinafore dresses in the winter and sundresses in the summer. And I've just discovered that they go really well with those T-shirt shrugs (I'm wearing a black combination right now).

My daughter's dress is a mashup of two patterns in the bodice (one structurally, one shape-wise), plus a skirt of my own devising. The doll dress follows the child's dress in every particular except the zipper in the back (it has pearl snaps instead).

The sashes are an addition at my daughter's request. They are useful, too—they cover the difference between my plain waistline and the smaller dresses' gathered ones. They are, sadly, cotton/poly, and will probably pill over time. When they do, though, I can look harder for cotton to replace them; they're only lightly tacked on on the sides.

I even have enough floral fabric left over to use on another project one day. Or it might make a replacement dress if my daughter outgrows that one in a way I can't address.

I think this will become an annual tradition. She is absolutely smitten with the dress, and seems deeply touched that I made the set. She climbed out of her bed on Sunday night to thank me an extra time.


#616 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 05:59 PM:

It's been a bad few days for traffic problems. First, a friend of mine was involved in something that probably qualifies as a miracle; somebody's towed trailer came loose about 3 cars in front of her on the freeway at 70 MPH, bounced off the concrete separator wall and came to a stop squarely across three lanes of traffic, and nobody hit anyone else. That could have easily turned into a 30-car pile-up, and her in the middle of it.

Then I had a minor adventure on the way home from ConQuesT. I was southbound on I-35, in OK a few miles north of the TX border, and there was a fair amount of traffic... and one asshole-in-a-pickup playing Willy Weaver thru it at high speed while towing a boat. He cut across in front of me and I had to brake pretty hard to avoid having the boat slam into my car. Not as spectacular as my friend's adventure, but I had a few choice words for the pickup driver.

My partner's daughter wasn't so lucky. This morning somebody ran a red light in front of her and she T-boned them. The other driver went to the hospital, I don't know how badly injured. B is mostly okay, although her left knee required stitches and her left wrist is scraped and bruised. Her car is pretty well totaled -- the front is one large crumple.

The other driver is claiming that B ran the red light. There were no other witnesses, or at least no one who stopped. However, there was a traffic-cam on the corner, which we hope may have caught what happened. GoodThoughts and positive energy would be welcomed.

#617 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Regarding making patterns from existing garments, there was an article in a fairly recent issue of Threads on using low-tack blue painter's tape to do so. It seemed easier than the pin-trace-unpin-repin-trace-unpin-repin-repeat process.

Also, in a less-recent issue, there was an article on changing straight princess seams to curved seams, which apparently makes a big difference (far more flattering) for both buxom women and us less-endowed ones.

I'm at work, my back issues of Threads are at home, and I'm not having any luck searching their website, so I'll have wait until I get home to check which issues these articles were in.

#618 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 06:12 PM:

Abi @ 615... I use them as jumpers/pinafore dresses

What does Dick Deadeye think of the results?

#619 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 06:38 PM:

Lee @ 616:

It's bad enough when some little car is weaving in and out of the traffic doing 90mph. You'd think people towing things with large vehicles would show more sense than that. Then again, sometimes I think that there should be a separate class of licence for motor homes, very large pickup trucks, and if you're towing something.

I was... distressed to discover that the law limiting trucks and vehicles towing trailers to the two outside lanes only was not more widespread outside California.

Sorry to hear about your partner's daughter's accident. I hope that she's all right and that the traffic camera works out. Her car might be a mess, but the crumple zones did what they're supposed to do and she's better for it.

#620 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 07:26 PM:

Hilary L Hertzoff @ 614:

The band may very well be non-functional on the dress (in other words, the dress may be sewn onto the doll) -- but it's a great place to put a functional opening for your version and the alternative (redrafting the center back piece to install a zipper down the back wouldn't be historically accurate or as easy to do.

As for the price of Vogue patterns -- don't I know it! If I absolutely fall in love with one, I wait for Joann's to have a half-price sale, then I pounce.

And don't worry -- every project comes with risk. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, then take the plunge (I had a teacher who used to tell me that if I never began to try, the result was a foregone failure!).

Lexica @ 617:

The idea of using low-tack tape sounds very cool! I've learned so much from that magazine over the years!

On the placement/direction of the seaming to fit hard-to-fit busts, I'm not a sufficient expert to comment on which is best in most cases. In Hillary's case, a shoulder-to-waist seam does double duty as a fitting mechanism and as a way of getting an already-drafted asymmetrical closure.

In my high-school friend's case, I didn't have as much practice then as I do now, but I remember the difficulty of altering a mostly convex curve to fit a mostly concave curve in a way that 1) they still fit reasonably well together and 2) they still met over the point of bust. Of course, her bosom was an extreme case (especially given her youthful, tiny tummy).

#621 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 07:28 PM:

Serge@515: sorry, more imprecision; I come from the other corner and don't do AZ summer heat, so I won't be there. I have a vague recollection that someone was proposing an ML party at Anticipation, which I will be at, barring the usual unusual.

#622 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Lee @ 616

Oh, crap, it's traffic season again. I'm glad to hear that the near-misses were just that, and very sorry to hear about your partner's daughter's accident. I'm sending positive energy and hopes that the camera caught the accident.

And I shuddered for your friend; things getting loose at high speeds is one of my main concerns in driving. I've been near to that twice now, once when an open trailer in front and one lane right of me blew a tire and did a serpentine across 3 lanes, throwing garden tools all over. Luckily I heard the bang and braked hard immediately, and the guy behind me was on the ball and braked to match. The other time was in the dread Terwiggley curves on I-5 southbound in Portland; a truck right in front of me lost a metal cable spool about 3 feet in diameter. The spool bounced once a few feet in front of me and then sailed into the side of the road, missing at least 2 other cars in the process. Nobody even had time to brake.

#623 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:25 PM:

Is anyone (else) going to ConFluence (July 24-26 2009, in Pittsburgh)?

I'm performing a concert Friday night, and am also interested in lining up conversations/dinner-run partners; ML commenters are generally congenial and interesting. :->

#624 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:27 PM:

KiethS: I recall the sensation when I was in Tenn., driving for the first time (shortly after learning to drive) and seeing a loaded semi barrelling up the number one lane to my LEFT.

Then again, the level of driving skill I see outside of metropolitan Calif (even taking into account my biases for the local quirks of LA, which I know) is a lot less than in Calif.

I think the average LA driver is generally, pretty much better than the better sort of non-Calif. drivers.

It may be chauvanism, but I'd rather drive in Calif, than anyplace else.

#625 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:36 PM:

Terry @ 624: Have you ever driven California 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz? It's a 4-lane mountain goat track if you ask me. All kinds of trucks passed me on the left, because I didn't dare pass anyone except a cement mixer.

#626 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:44 PM:

Making things....

Today I made a query to find where OCR smooshed two columns together instead of reading each one separately. If tons of false positives are better than lots of false negatives, I'm all set.

Oh, that's not what you meant?

I'm moderately adventurous in cooking. I made mulligatawny after browsing for soup recipes that use curry. Cooked the chicken myself instead of getting it out of a can.

But sewing is beyond me. All I know is what I learned at the mending nights my church used to have long ago. The hostess coached the single men who attended (well of course — they're the ones with the biggest backlog of clothes that need mending) how to attach buttons and repair holes in the pockets of dress slacks.

My partner does have some Butterick patterns, but only because Marie Osmond is on the covers.

#627 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:49 PM:

abi @ 605:

Those dresses look nice, and your little one looks very, very happy.

#628 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 08:50 PM:

Alan Beatty: I've been in lots of Calif. with two lane roads, and been passed on the left. I expect to be passed on two/four lane roads. (I am not sure about the road between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, but the road up to American Canyon in the Los Padres is pretty much the same sort of thing).

This was an eight-lane highway. The trucks were streaming past me, I was doing five over the limit.

They were cruising in the centermost lane.

#629 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 09:12 PM:

LLA @620 I'm still not sure what band you're referring to. I know there's the belt but the bodice seems to be a wrap sort of thing with the buttons sewn on to the fabric of the dress and the button holes on the edge of the front flap. I'm thinking functional buttons for the top and snaps on the skirt to keep it closed.

I have several books which cover how to expand a pattern along princess seams, but I've never managed to follow them to the extent I need. But I'm also more realistic about my proportions now than I was the last time I tried to make a dress.

I was planning to hit Joann's the weekend after next to look for the pattern. It's far for a regular trip, but I'll be in the area and I'll just cross my fingers and hope for a sale. I'll look at fabric, but I may wait and buy it at one of the local fabric stores. I have very strong ideas of what sort of fabric I want.

#630 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 09:27 PM:

Mary Aileen, #491, sorry to comment so late, but I couldn't stay sitting up yesterday. This is part of the problem with my clothes. Making It Big used to make clothes I really liked and while they could have used a little adjustment, they were worth buying. Now there's a new owner and not only have they changed sizing for the worse, they've gone almost completely to non-dryer rayon. I've tried Stef's list of fat clothiers and haven't found much I like.

Carol Kimball, #494, and there's the problem of measuring accurately at long distance, too.

LLA, I hear we have a pretty good fabric district in DC, too.

Clifton, #567, I like making things, but I've found what really helps with the depression (besides the meds) is music. I need to listen to music, which is why I'm ripping my CDs to a thumbdrive to move to the Eee.

abi, #605, very nice! Every Christmas I make matching sweaters for the daughter of friends and her doll. They don't match exactly because the doll has a much bigger head in proportion to her body than the daughter does.

What I mostly make, though, is beadwork. Someday I'll get around to making webpages.

#631 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Terry @ #624, you remind me of a never-resolved argument a former boss and I used to have. He and I would fly into LA and go to work in Culver City. He always rented a Lincoln Continental; I always rented a sub-compact. Occasionally we'd travel together and then he'd leave early in the week, sticking me with the Lincoln. I hated it.

His theory was he wanted to be in the biggest heaviest land cruiser available; mine was I wanted to be in the nimblest roller skate I could get.

#632 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 09:53 PM:

One book I've seen on pattern fitting, with a lot of examples - long out of print, and probably hard to find - is Mabel D Erwin's book Practical Dress Design. It shows you not only how to fit a pattern to a figure with one or another difficulty, but also how to change it to a different look (adding fullness, moving darts, changing the line of neck or hem or somewhere in between). I think it was written for home ec teacher, actually, as it has lesson suggestions. (Somewhere in one of my boxes ....) I used it to make a half-circle cape - there's an example in the book, quite clear on how to do it - and I got a cape that hung beautifully all around, with no seams below the shoulders.

#633 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 10:21 PM:

I'll be at Confluence, but I'm not sure what sort of time I'll have. I tend to sit around a lot, hanging out with the Alphans if I can find them.

#634 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 10:34 PM:

P.J. Evans @632: Amazon has it listed, with links to sellers.

Also, is my go-to site for out of print books; it's sort of a central searcher for a bunch of independent used bookstores. They currently list 11 copies, ranging in price from $19.76-117.01 (both of which are outliers; most are $40-50).

#635 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Beatty @ 625 ...
Terry @ 624: Have you ever driven California 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz? It's a 4-lane mountain goat track if you ask me. All kinds of trucks passed me on the left, because I didn't dare pass anyone except a cement mixer.

It improves dramatically with familiarity -- once you know where the corners are, and what to expect, 17 starts to be outright fun :)

#636 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:00 PM:

P J Evans #632 & Elloit Mason #634:

Coverage overlaps but I find & to be useful additional sites for finding old OOP books.

#637 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:02 PM:

Sorry. "Elliott". Dyslexic fingers.

#638 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:13 PM:

CHip @ 621... I don't do Phoenix-area summers either, which is why I'm planning to stay indoors as much as possible. As for Anticipation, there will indeed be a Making Light party. It's organized by Kathryn from Sunnyvale, and will be held on the Friday night, if I'm not mistaken. Come to think of it,it might be time for Kathryn to remind us of the link to the LiveJournal she set up for the occasion.

#639 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:24 PM:

Bumper sticker seen tonight:

Chaotic evil means never having to say you're sorry.
#640 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:31 PM:

Soon Lee @636: BookFinder searches Abebooks, so that's included.

#641 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:34 PM:

Serge @639: My husband contributes,

Neutral evil means never having to say MUA-HA-HA-HA-HA!.
... You can, you just don't have to.

#642 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 11:41 PM:

xeger, especially if you can ignore the tire tracks on the center divider. I sometimes compare it with the Pasadena Freeway: same bends, but 17 has more elevation changes. And better scenery off the highway.

#643 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Dumpster Gods, I salute you!

A few months back, my parents rural NY home was burgled while they were on vacation. First time ever to have something like that happen in 40+ years of owning a home. LOTS of stuff got taken, including a Sony DVD player.

Just now, walking the dog, I spotted a "moving sale." Housewares, furniture, etc., left out by the dumpsters for picking. Plus a Sony DVD player. I had to fish the remote out of the dumpster proper. But it works.

My father is going to a nursing home for few weeks of post-op rehab; when he gets out he'll have a "new" DVD player. Justice! Or Kismet. Or something.

#644 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:23 AM:

LLA, #579:
"I also have a trick for judging whether the tension on your machine is appropriate that is simple, easy to apply, and quite intuitive -- I've just never seen it in print, so I'd love to share it with you (but don't want to bore people who are already happy with the method they use)."

I would love, LOVE, to hear a method for tension adjustment that is "simple, easy to apply, and quite intuitive."

Every single time I have tried to use a sewing machine, I get -- AT MOST -- two or three inches of stitches done before everything goes KA-SNARLY-BANG!, with the thread irrevocably Gordianized.

So I take the machine to someone who uses sewing machines all the time to ask what's gone wrong.

"Oh, your tension's off," they say, sweetly. They fiddle with the machine for a few moments, then sit down and run off a few feet or yards of stitches. "All fixed."

Take the machine home, sit down and start stitching again. One inch, two inches...KA-SNARLY-BANG!

Take the machine back to the experienced user. "Oh, your tension's off," they say, sweetly....

Repeat until I'm red-faced, pop-eyed, with steam coming out my ears, and asking "Why do they call it TENSION-N-N-N-N?!?!?!"

All this, I swear, is true. It's been years since I've touched a sewing machine. The few projects I've done that have involved sewing have been hand-stitched. Because, from my experience, hand-stitching is faster and a LOT less frustrating.

It would be nice, though, to be able to use a sewing machine to actually make things, like some people seem to be able to do.

So, yes, if there's some secret ritual or incantation to get in the good graces of the needle-fingered, bobbin-eyed gods, I've love to know about it.

#645 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:36 AM:

The way my Wise Sewing Friend showed me, it was basically sew some, then look at the two sides of the line of stitches. If one of them looks like dots, the tension is wrong. Which way to adjust it depends on which stitches are dots-- we got that one way, way wrong, which may just be that my machine is crazy-old*.

I should take the Sharpie off my stitch length knob and put it on the right way, so I can turn it the right direction and refer to the hours properly. There's supposed to be an indicator, but nope, not on this machine.

*I know that 'crazy-old' doesn't mean much, especially with a technology that includes treadles and handcranks. Other sewing machines are older. But this sewing machine is three times as old as I am plus three of my cat, I think it's older than my surviving grandparent, and it's been living in the attic for at least twenty of those years.

#646 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:38 AM:

P J Evans @ 642:

Ah, the Pasadena Freeway. Very pretty. I particularly like the stop signs right before you get on it. Every time I've been on it, the center divider is beaten up in new places. I know the historical reasons; that doesn't make it any less fun.

Of all the places I've driven, I think I liked the freeways in Houston the least. Driving in Trinidad was almost certainly more dangerous, and there's no way you'd get me to drive in China, but Houston just felt different. (This was where I discovered that trucks could drive in any lane they pleased, and did.) Then again, I've only been to Houston once, so it might be different if I had to do it again.

All this sewing talk has got me thinking that maybe I should make a couple shirts for myself. Off to look at patterns.

#647 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:53 AM:

What am I making?

There's bread just out of the oven. (a little over proofed, almost, but not quite unintentional flatbread)

Also, I'm planting. A lot. The summer stages of a 2000sf garden, though a lot of that is given over to squash vines.

And there's the chainsaw carved chair for the kiddo (not that he's going to be able to move it). It's my first chainsaw carving, from my design, and I still have all appendages. Next up there is a couple more, and a rustic table set on a stump in the grove in the back yard.

Also, re: long tailed cats from a prev open thread, my long haired cat would like to add "Room full of office chairs" and "toddler with a tricycle" as things to be nervous about.

#648 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:57 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 644 ...
Starting with utter basics, on the theory that the worst case will be me reviewing unneeded bits...

obDumb: you are lowering the presser foot to sew?

Make sure that you've got the machine threaded properly (and check the manual again to be sure that what you remember is 'proper'), and that the thread 'clicks' into the tension wheel above, and the bobbin case below -- and that you use the hand wheel carefully to get both ends (top and bottom) of the thread up to the area of the presser foot -- and then pull both of them out for 3-4 inches, and behind your work, where they can't get caught again.

Use decent thread (I tend to use guterman, but ymmv -- cheap thread will be frustrating as all getout at the best of times).

Wind a new bobbin, just in case the one you've been using is cranky ;>

Make sure to use two different colours of thread, so you can tell which side is misbehaving :)

I don't know what sort of machine you've got, but pick the middle setting for your tension dial (could be 0-5, 1-10, no markings at all (auto-tensioning machines do exist) ) -- and then leave it there.

Ditto for your stitch length -- pick something in the middle, and a straight stitch.

[A] Sew a few stitches -- let the machine feed the fabric (and use something like bedsheet fabric for testing, just because it's common, smooth, and easy to deal with), and just guide the fabric along gently, without pulling or pushing.

If you remove the fabric now, do you have huge loose loops on the bottom side?

If that's the case, you'll want to increase the tension on the upper dial a -very- small amount.

Goto [A]. Are there still huge loose loops one one side or the other? If they're on the bottom side, tighten the top tension -- if they're on the top side, loosen the top tension.

Ideally, you should end up with the stitches on both sides looking identical.

Hopefully that's somewhat helpful...

#649 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:08 AM:

Enlarging a princess seam at the bust:

Marilee, I'm in great need of someone to make four template web pages, and I've coached others long-distance on pattern work with satisfactory results. Email me if you're interested (we had a private conversation quite a while back about dyeing shoes).

Abi - have any of Fiona's tales involved instructing Holly how to avoid becoming Electric-Battery-Powered-Dolly?

Re: perpetually snarling thread
If the bobbin is in right, and the needle is in right and the machine is threaded correctly, it may be as simple as grabbing the two thread tails and giving them a firm tug towards the back when you're ready to start to sew. Hold them there and have at it. That keeps the excess from balling up under the needle.

#650 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:14 AM:

And don't EVER trust a pattern to fit you, even if its measurements and yours seem the same.

Cut the pattern out, pin it together and try it on. This seems like a lot of work when you're eager to get going, but would you rather find you needed an adjustment to the waist length after you've have several painstakingly hours of work in it and recutting the fabric isn't an option?

When the pattern fits, you'll be able to start cutting the fabric with a tad more confidence.

#651 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:35 AM:

I made gyoza the other night.

I'm making some progress on my thesis. And my Japanese.

And tonight I made this*:

As I grew older
And my eyes were opened
I saw before me
My dreams unspoken
I saw around me
A world now broken
Its hate was aimed at you and me

I roamed and rambled
And I followed my heartstrings
'Til I finally found you
After all of that searching
Then your arms went 'round me
And your voice was singing
"This love belongs to you and me."

In the squares of the city
In the shadow of the steeple
At the civic office
I saw our future
As you stood there weeping
I said "NOW NO MORE!"
Our fate belongs to you and me.

A great big law then
Tried to stop me
Some great big liars there
Said "married only."
But when will liars learn,
They ain't got nothin'?
That word belongs to you and me.

No lawman's ruling
Can ever stop me
As I go marching
That aisle to join you
Nobody living
Can make me turn back
This love was meant for you and me.

...Now excuse me while I duck and run, having suitably maimed a classic with my righteous indignation.

*The genuine article was mentioned here, in January. I had never heard the full version until that day.

#652 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:20 AM:

Linkmeister, #631: Terry @ #624, you remind me of a never-resolved argument a former boss and I used to have....His theory was he wanted to be in the biggest heaviest land cruiser available; mine was I wanted to be in the nimblest roller skate I could get.

This article by Malcolm Gladwell, "Big and Bad", which was originally published in The New Yorker in 2004, may provide you with some insights (not to mention ammunition).

#653 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:51 AM:

KeithS/P J/xeger: Yeah. I like driving. It's fun to me (then again, as an Angeleno, who used to to a regular gig in Marin for 7 weeks a year... I have hundreds of thousands of miles behind the wheel).

I like Laurel Canyon, and Las Tunas. I've driven 101 between LA and SLO more times than I can count, and all sorts of trips up the transverse valleys. I've driven the unpaved parts of Mullholland (a couple of times in the dark).

But semis in all lanes... Yoiks! That's not right.

Give me a road I know, and a car which will stick (I miss my RX-7, and my Daytona Shelby, for different, if related reasons), and I'm your man.

I've also driven a loaded horse-trailer, with two weeks feed in the truck bed to boot. The idea of changing lanes all the way to the middle of the 405 in that rig... not pleasant.

Hell, for my Oral Exam at DLI I tried to explain the wonders of the LA Freeway system.

(Keith, I love the 110... I also get on from Arroyo Parkway)

#654 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:54 AM:

debcha @ #652, Affirmation! Thank you.

I think he's driving a Mercedes these days, and I'm driving a GEO Metro, so we've kept to our theories pretty consistently. (Economics enters into it too, though; he's managed a highly-successful pharma startup; I've been doing grunt work. His income can afford him a Mercedes.)

#655 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:04 AM:


i saw arlo guthrie in concert once, in ohio. don't know the year, but the following story will help pin it down, i'm sure, for some.

so he sang that song. & for the verse about the sign that says no trespassing, he substituted it saying "proposition 187" & nothing on the other side, which side was thus made for you & me.

proposition 187 was another one of those majority-rule-to-strip-minorities-of-human-rights california initiatives, proposing to bar the children of illegal immigrants (including, one assumes, children who are natural born us citizens) from attending public schools. again, people who know more about california legal history can correct me, but it didn't pass or at any rate become law.

which is all to say, that i'm sure you have at least woody's son's blessing to use the song to fight against californian hate propositions.

#656 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:09 AM:

miriam: that would make it 1993.

#657 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:26 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 643

It's -amazing- what people will dump. We've picked up several perfectly good bookcases from dumpsters, plus a table for garden use, and several smaller items. Also at the dump/recycling centre - "You're throwing those canes out? May I have them instead please? Thank you."

#658 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:26 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 643

Congratulations - a real find.

It's -amazing- what people will dump. We've picked up several perfectly good bookcases from dumpsters, plus a table for garden use, and several smaller items. Also at the dump/recycling centre - "You're throwing those canes out? May I have them instead please? Thank you."

#659 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:36 AM:

Nowadays if you want to get rid of something that's reasonably functional, you don't even have to take it out, you can just use Craigslist. I had an office chair that wasn't in good enough shape to take to Houston; I put up a listing (with full disclosure about how it was less than new) just before I went to bed, and when I woke up two dozen people were inquiring about it. (I picked the inquiry that arrived earliest.)

#660 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:50 AM:

Serge, #638: I think that would be making_lumiere on LJ.

Bruce, #644: This is exactly why I don't mess with sewing machines. I feel about them the same way a lot of people do about computers: they're complicated, they're arcane, and if I touch it the wrong way it's going to BREAK! Fortunately, my partner can make any sewing machine ever invented roll over, sit up, and beg, so I don't have to worry about dealing with the infernal things.

KeithS, #646: There are a couple of stretches of freeway in Houston with "No Trucks in Left Lane" signs, but most of the freeway system is a free-for-all. C'mon, it's TEXAS, what do you expect? However, if you come here again, you don't need to worry about driving -- I'll be glad to do that part.*

David, #659: FreeCycle works well for that, too.

* Be warned -- I learned how to drive in Nashville, and have their "bull your way into a tiny hole" tactic down cold; fortunately, Houston drivers tend to be more polite and will actually let you change lanes if you signal.

#661 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 07:51 AM:

My dad really, really liked driving the big blue terrorist van. Not only did it have a fold-out bed in the back, which I think kept us sane on long trips (three kids, a little territorial: let at least one be unconscious at all times), but he joked about not having to look to change lanes because "they'll move."
I think he was joking. Never can tell with Dad.

We had the first weak round of Hippie Christmas a couple weeks ago, when classes ended. It gets better at the end of July. There's not a lot I like-- particleboard isn't worth picking up at the side of the road-- but the sheer number of couches is astounding.

#662 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:18 AM:

Lee @ 660... It is indeed. For those who are interested, here is a link to Making Lumière, which will be hosted by Kathryn from Sunnyvale during this year's worldcon.

#663 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:49 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 629:

"I'm still not sure what band you're referring to. I know there's the belt but the bodice seems to be a wrap sort of thing with the buttons sewn on to the fabric of the dress and the button holes on the edge of the front flap."

The "flap" you're referring to is the "band" I mean. There is a way to sew the flap/band to the bodice so that the buttonholes are part of the seam between the flap and the bodice, but that's a LOT of work for little payoff. My grandmother's dress had the buttonholes on what you call the flap and the buttons on the underlying bodice, and that's the way I'd do it (unless I was feeling like doing something hard to prove I can do it).

"I'm thinking functional buttons for the top and snaps on the skirt to keep it closed."

Definitely functional buttons for the top, but the wonder of having a dress that's loose at the hips is that you don't need an opening in the skirt to get the danged thing on and off -- you simply step into the dress, button the bodice, and snap on the collar and belt. Voila! You're dressed!

But definitely look at Carol Kimball's link @ 649. She seems to have a very good approach to fitting the bust just right.

"I was planning to hit Joann's the weekend after next to look for the pattern."

They post their sales and coupons on the 'Net, so you can take a browse before you plan your trip.

Marilee @ 630:

I got to spend a week in D.C. thirty years ago -- and it wasn't nearly enough time. So now you tell me that, in addition to all the beautiful monuments, the Smithsonian Museums, the Library of Congress, all the historic and architectural sites... you've got good fabric to balance the evil politicians and lobbyists.

I'm going to have to go back!

Bruce Arthurs @ 644:

Definitely what everyone else has said about making sure the bobbin is evenly wound, properly threaded into the bobbin case (in a clean, freshly oiled bobbin case, along with cleaning and oiling the rest of the machine) then the thread makes contact with the tensioner so that you hear a click. Ditto to setting the top and bottom tension initially to the "neutral" default," holding on to both thread tails as you feed the fabric under the presser foot, then lower the presser foot (the top tension does not engage on most machines if the presser foot is up), then continuing to hold onto the two tails of thread while you take the first few stitches (you might even want to take these stitches by manipulating the flywheel so that you have the thread firmly anchored in the fabric first so that you can have both hands available to guide the fabric through the machine once you start using the foot pedal).

Thread is critical. Never buy cheap thread. If it looks even remotely fuzzy, buy better thread. Cheap thread is bad for your machine and will never give you good results in your sewing since it won't be able to provide the stability to allow your tension to stay stable.

My mother taught me to always buy thread that's weaker than your garment. I have always found this to be a good rule -- even if it sounds unintuitive, you always want the seam to break instead of having the garment rip.

So what do I have to add to everyone else's good advice?

I always save (at least) two scraps of fabric that are at least 5" long to conduct my tension tests. Starting with top and bottom tension set at "neutral," and a "normal" stitch length (not a gathering length) I sew a 4-1/2" seam.

I look at it. Is there any puckering? If the seam has caused the fabric to pucker, I'll have to loosen both the top and the bottom tension. I pull at the seam from both ends, then I pull at both layers of the fabric from both ends. If the seam won't stretch as much as the fabric (and the fabric is a woven -- different rules apply to knits), I know my tension is still too tight on both the top and the bottom.

Then I finger press the seam open and pull the two pieces of fabric apart. If I can see any daylight between the stitches, the top/and or bottom tension is too loose.

The dots on one side or the other are an obvious indicator of which side is wrong. The reason I particularly value Diatryma's machine (and my own) is that a good machine is capable of much better than "the stitches look the same on both sides." In fact, the following is my test of a "good machine."

Once I think I've got the tension about right, I take a seam ripper to one side of the seam and pull out about 3/4" (using the thread tail to pull with). Then I turn the seamed piece over and use the seam ripper to cut the opposite thread about 3/4" further along. Using the thread tail I created by ripping the opposite side, I pull out this opposite piece of thread. The effort needed to pull the the thread out on both sides should be equal. If the effort is equal, the tension is not just sorta balanced, it is perfectly balanced, which will make your entire sewing adventure -- and the garment's life, a much more satisfactory

To anyone who likes driving on the Pasadena Parkway/Freeway/110:

One of the scariest driving experiences I have ever had was the time I was traveling North just past Dodger Stadium and saw that a double-trailer gasoline tanker had decided to take the freeway ahead of me by mistake. I took the first "go from 55 m.p.h. to a dead stop in 25 feet" exit and took surface streets all the way to Pasadena, driving far out of my way because I didn't want to be there when the tanker 1) tried to take the curves, 2) tried to get off the freeway, or 3) exploded trying to do either 1) or 2).

I didn't read about it in the papers the next day, so I guess no-one got killed, but still...!

#664 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:39 AM:

LLA: for all that I dislike seeing them in lanes left of the two rightmost, I heve no problem with semi-drivers. As a class they are safer than everyone else;the effects of accidents involving them is disproportionate, but the odds of one of them causing an accident is pretty low.

And the 110 is pretty safe. People tend to drive too fast on it (and the banking isn't meant for really high speeds) but if you know it (and I'll wager the truck driver did), it's fine road.

So it's probably safe to stay on it the next time you see a tanker.

#665 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:39 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 473: That is amazingly awesome. Do you also make mice? Because if so, I have a photo-op I'd really appreciate your help with, involving my buddy and our nicknames for each other.

Miriam @ 665: Thanks. It just sort of...came to me. (But oh man, the scheme was even more terrible the first time through.)

Also, merde! il pleut! I don't even know why I bothered washing my hair.

#666 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Lee @ 660:

Thanks for the offer. I really don't know that I'll be going to Houston again any time soon, but with the industry I'm in I'm sure I'll wind up there again eventually.

If you feel about sewing machines the way some people do about computers, how about the sewing machines that are computers? You can easily drop over $4000 on a modern sewing machine with a touch-screen, USB interface, and a list of features longer than my arm.

Everything I've ever done is hand-sewn; I've never used a sewing machine in my life. I should probably learn.

Diatryma @ 661: big blue terrorist van

Now that does sound scary.

About the worst drivers I've ever seen in a country where most people obey the traffic laws are the drivers of white Astra vans in England. Brr.

#667 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:17 AM:

Madeline Ashby @ 665... merde! il pleut!

Practicing for the upcoming worldcon?

#668 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Terry Karney, #664: I heve no problem with semi-drivers. As a class they are safer than everyone else;the effects of accidents involving them is disproportionate, but the odds of one of them causing an accident is pretty low.

Seconded. One of my favourite things about semi drivers is that, if you signal for a lane change in front of them, they drop back (this may not seem remarkable to you, depending on where you live, but I mostly drive in Boston).

Most problems with semis are not due to the semis and their drivers themselves - it's that other drivers don't realize how big the blind spots of semis are, how much distance they need to brake, or how limited they are in mobility. For example, the 2004 accident and fire that destroyed a bridge on I-95 was apparently caused by the driver of a passenger car making a blind lane change: "Robinson was driving south on I-95 when his truck was forced into the concrete barrier and onto its side at about 8 p.m., police said."

#669 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:04 PM:

I'd prefer the roads to be populated by complete drivers instead of semi ones.

#670 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:26 PM:

I'm tucking a request for recipes here. Scraps is worrying about not contributing to the household when he comes home (ON MONDAY! HE COMES HOME ON MONDAY!), so I've told him that while he's being a kept man, he can cook. (We will have a home care attendant, at least to start.)

My goal is to find low-salt, low-cholesterol recipes that can be cooked in a crock pot, or simmered on the stove* for hours, and that have ingredients that can be manipulated by someone with one hand. So recipes, links to cool cooking websites, recommendations for a really good crock pot, and such are gratefully sought.

* We had a device to diffuse heat under pots -- I've no idea what they're called, or where to find one -- and I'd love to get another one. It was several perforated layers of metal, with a long handle, that went under the saucepans. Since I don't know what it's called, I don't know what to look for.

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Velma @ 670... Scraps coming back on Monday? Good, very good.

#672 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:43 PM:

Velma @ 670

Many congratulations re. Scraps coming home.

Regarding "a device to diffuse heat under pots" there are things online simply called a "Heat Diffuser" - I Googled "stovetop pot heat diffuser" and several came up including lots on Amazon - some with handles, some without.

Sorry, can't think of any appropriate recipe sites

#673 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:43 PM:

KeithS @666 (Yay!)

"About the worst drivers I've ever seen in a country where most people obey the traffic laws are the drivers of white Astra vans in England. Brr."

The generic name for the phenomenon is "White Van Man", simply because most hired and contractor vans are that colour. Astras are quite small and not that fast; the real problem is the Mercedes Sprinter with the pedal to the floor.

Most of the "White Van" drivers are graduates of the Verdun School of Motoring.


#674 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Paul Duncanson @520: Photos: Ooh, neat! You have a very interesting eye for light.

Let's see, projects I'm flopping between at the moment: inlay gates for the guinea pig cage, new floor for a second cage, eternally iteratively repairing my old pack, and slippers made with an "embroidery" stich I don't have a good name for.

#675 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Velma: There are several types of heat-diffusers (which is all I've ever seen them called). I use some from Ilsa, which are cast iron, with enamel tops. they have ridges to keep the pan off the majority of the flat, and work well. They use a spring lifter, which isn't attached.

I can either send you recipes, or just start adding to the Flourosperian cookbook.

Oh, and BTW... YAY.....!

I am so happy for you.

#676 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:53 PM:

Madeline 651: I like it! And that song is fair game for political filking, I'm sure.

Velma 670: That's good news! And as for one-handed cooking, a crock pot is a good investment if you don't already have one. You can do everything with one hand (assuming none of the ingredients require two-handed prep), and you don't have to stir.

#677 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Most of the "White Van" drivers are graduates of the Verdun School of Motoring.

Something to do with the Sacred Road?

#678 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:56 PM:

White van drivers—they all seem to think they're Sabine Schmitz these days.

#679 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:56 PM:

Baugh!! StiTch! Feh.

#680 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Oh, no, sorry. "Ils ne passeront pas" of course.

#681 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:09 PM:

Velma @ 670:

Good news! I don't have any specific suggestions for recipes, but there are a few low-salt cookbooks out there. Some of them even look pretty good.

Cadbury Moose @ 673:

You're right, it's white vans more generally. Still crazy.

Terry Karney @ 675:

Please do post some recipes.

#682 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:39 PM:

@ Serge: I am! I will be there this year.

@ Xopher: I'm glad! I was surprised at how much enjoyed the process. And how many times one can listen to that song in one night without getting bored.

#683 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:50 PM:

Note to Bay Area folk:

The fourth annual Maker Faire is being held in San Mateo next weekend:

This event is an utter hoot; hundreds of booths and dozens of hands-on workshops.

The venue -- San Mateo fairgrounds -- is a couple of blocks from a Caltrain stop. Near the intersection of 92 and 101.

#684 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Congratulations. I did a quick google for one-handed cooking, and found several sites for gadgetry, but also a book on Lulu Travels with a One-Handed cook
I have not read it, so I can't say if it's any good. All the other "one-handed" cookbooks seem to be for women who have a baby in the other hand.

#685 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:13 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 682... See you then. Hopefully rain will make rare appearances.

#686 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:29 PM:

LLA@580:I had an English teacher in high school who taught me to hate Charles Dickens (because she thought he was the greatest writer EVER).

As I've been saying for years, nothing like Literature Classes to kill literature (Hmmm... always surprised it's "littérature", but "literature"... dura lex).

Also: Chaotic Neutral means you don't have to.

(I think "experience-for-killing-stuff" and the alignement system where the first things my friends and me took off from D&D when we started playing. I know undestand the historical reasons that led to the development of those, but at the time we were all like "What, you get xp for killing things"?)

Damn, time's up. Thanks for Obnox and thanks for the Making Stuff particles. Always inspiring.

#687 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:33 PM:

Bruce Arthur, also (in order of probability/desperation):

Check that you are using the proper bobbin style; do not use plastic bobbins in an old machine, as the weight of the metal bobbin is important to keeping proper tension.

Be sure you are using new thread, especially if you're sewing with 100% cotton. Old thread dries out and gets brittle and can't handle the tension and torque of machine sewing.

Use a new needle; old ones are often off-true, and fray the thread at the edge of the off-verticle eye.

Check the bobbin and bobbin case for needle marks (on older machines, also check for rust); it doesn't take much of a rough place to snag the thread and mess up the tension.

Soak the needle mechanism, thread return path, bobbin case, and all visible gearing with sewing machine oil and run the machine without a needle or thread for several minutes. Let sit over-night to drain excess oil, blot up oil with paper towel, load with new thread, new needles, probably new bobbin case and stitch through single thickness cotton until there is no visible oil.


(I hate sewing machines, all of them except the oldest possible straight-stitch Singers).

#688 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Velma @670:
Hey! Hooray! Home meaning back home really home? Fantastic!

I find myself thinking of a line from Philip Larkin:

Shall I be let to sleep
Now this perpetual morning shares my bed?

May it be that good.

#689 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Xopher @ 676: And that song is fair game for political filking, I'm sure.

Apparently not, to my considerable surprise. One of the regulars at the Ottawa Folk Song Circle has a parody of it which someone wrote, a number of years ago, and which Guthrie's literary executors went to court to suppress publication of on the grounds that it would diminish the value of the original (and the parody was actually rather similar in spirit to the original). Ultimately, the courts ruled that the parody could not be published, and to make it absolutely clear for all time exactly what was being protected, the entire parody version was read in a session of the Canadian Parliament so it would be recorded into Hansard (the official transcript of the proceedings of Parliament).

Somehow I don't see these shenanigans as being in the spirit of Guthrie's original intentions for that song.

#690 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 03:34 PM:

An odd but neat thing...

When I get cold, I'm prone to what we call "the zombie finger": one of my fingers (right middle, to be precise) goes yellow and numb faster, and stays that way longer, than anything else on my body.

I took Alex to his karate lesson, and hung out with Fiona outside while he practiced. Although it wasn't cold, I was a little underdressed, and got chilled (blue fingernails). When I went back inside, I noticed that three of my right fingers had gone zombie.

Fiona and I were commenting on this (in English) as Alex's karate teacher walked by. He turned, surprised, and said, "Je hebt zombie vingers?" I allowed as how I did, and showed him the hand, explaining in my broken Dutch how they went yellow and numb in the cold.

He switched to English (drat all these Dutch people, their linguistic skills, and their kind intentions that I understand what they're saying) and explained that it was probably a nerve problem. He had me hold my arms out, and did a couple of nerve pinches up the arms and shoulders to see if I had different responses on the right side (I don't). He suggested I should talk to a doctor or a physiotherapist about the matter, in case it's a nerve in my neck.

He also showed me a neat trick for jump-starting the circulation in the fingers by pinching nerve junctions in my right hand and elbow. He said that causes the body to increase circulation there, and yea verily, it did cause my fingers to de-zombify more quickly than usual!

Short version of the story: Karate black belt uses nerve pinch to cure zombification. Martial arts/Star Trek/shambling undead film idea? Get me Simon Pegg's agent! And Jackie Chan's!

#691 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Carol Kimball, #649, I used to make my own patterns and clothes all the time. The problem now is that I'm partially paralyzed on the left side and with patterning and sewing, you need to use two hands at the same time and I'd fall over without another hand for support.

#692 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Abi @ 690: You may want to investigate Raynaud's Disease - my sister has it. Some of her fingers get numb when her hands are cold, and it takes a while to warm them back up and get the feeling back. But like the Mayo article says, it's mostly a nuisance for her, not life threatening or anything.

#693 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:37 PM:

Abi @ 690... Thanks to Simon Pegg, we can now link zombies to Vulcans.

#694 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:38 PM:

I grew up with a copy of Mrs. Ramussen's Book of One-Arm Cookery in my mother's collection. It's still there, along with other works by Mary Lasswell. When I got old enough (after college), she gave me a copy for my own. The revised edition, I think. Chortle.

#695 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:44 PM:

abi: Cool. I get that too (and the next time I go to the VA they are ordering a test for Reynaud's). I shall have to see about that trick.

#696 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:50 PM:

Sharon @692:

Reynaud's, huh. Might well be; the photo you linked to certainly had zombie fingers.

I was slightly alarmed that it appeared in three fingers today, because it's generally only been one. If it continues to expand, I'll worry more. I haven't had it at all this winter, perhaps because when I've been out in the cold I've generally been biking or skating.

Terry @695:
I shall have to see about that trick.

He did press to the point of pain. Not, you know, that that matters much. But don't just tickle.

#697 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 04:53 PM:

The San Francisco Chronicle reminds us that today is the 72nd anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was amused that this was accompanied by a photo of (presumably female) ballerinas all in a row.

#698 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Velma: Before I start posting lots of recipes, is there something you guys hate? More to the point, is there something you love?

Do you have a stand mixer (e.g. Kitchen-Aid)?

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 05:11 PM:

Serge @697:
I did not know that today was the anniversary.

Did you know that the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was ahead of its time in its emphasis on worker safety?

You can see a hard hat in this shot; the Golden Gate Bridge was one of the first construction projects to use them.

There was also a net slung below the bridge while it was being built. (You can see it in this picture.) It saved 19 men over the course of the construction of the bridge; they were known collectively as the Halfway-To-Hell club.

The previous industry expectation that one man would lose his life for every million dollars of construction cost. The Golden Gate Bridge cost $35 million and had 11 fatalities (10 on the same day, near the end, when a scaffold fell and tore through the net).

(I did an article on it for my old online community. I thought the safety stuff was particularly neat.)

#700 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 05:39 PM:

abi: Yep. The Bay Bridge was much the same. I forget the details, but they were both brought in under budget, and IIRC, ahead of schedule.

Those Wacky Californians.

One of the oddities of both reputation, is the number of people who cross the Bay Bridge to commit suicide from the Golden Gate. Part of that is a difference in design, one can't walk across the Bay Bridge.

I miss SF, but I get to go in June. The tickets to the conference are paid for.

#701 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 05:41 PM:

Terry Karney @ 664:

The reason it freaked me out is that it's clearly posted as being an illegal route for double-axled vehicles, specifically because the curves are blind and are not graded.

So he was either on it by mistake (scary) or he was on it illegally (also scary).

And since this was at night, yes, the traffic was traveling too fast for the road, so traffic overtaking the tanker might not have known it was there until they came around a curve it was taking too wide.

#702 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 05:51 PM:

Abi @ 699... the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was ahead of its time in its emphasis on worker safety

I didn't know that. I pretty much expected that, with the Recession still being felt, the workers wouldn't have been in a position to have much say, regarding the likelihood of their job killing him.

Terry Karney @ 700... The Bay Bridge's new span will have a passage for pedestrians, but only from the East Bay to the Good Grass Island. Over the last few years, whenever I go to the Bay Area, I often took the bus from the TransBay Terminal to the Oakland Hills, and that gave me the chance to see the new span go up. Awesome.

#703 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Velma @670: The best I can do for you out of my own intellectual property are these:

Wharf Rat, a tomato sauce with chicken thigh in it, loosely inspired by something in an ish of Bento

Hearty Vegan Split Pea Soup

My meatloaf algorithm

They contain chopped vegetables, which are only one-handed preparations if you have assistive technology (like a cuisinart).

#704 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 07:28 PM:

"They contain chopped vegetables, which are only one-handed preparations if you have assistive technology (like a cuisinart)."

For larger chunks, you can also put nails up through your cutting board to hold the vegetable still.

#705 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 08:45 PM:

JESR @687: ObsSF: I have been struck by the description of the Forward Mass Detector in Larry Niven's Known Space stories (I presume a mass detector inspired by Robert Forward, rather than simply a detector for masses in front of you), which is described as a psionic machine; it would not work unless the pilot was paying attention to it.

How is this different than most machines? It seems you have to pay a lot of attention to the sewing machine to make it function.

#706 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 08:55 PM:

abi @ 690, Sharon M @ 692

I have Raynaud's Disease; in my case it's highly intermittent and randomly effective; some nights I have to wear socks to bed no matter how many covers I have on, and some days my fingers get cold and turn blue.

Just to complicate matters, I started to have pain and numbness in both hands while I slept (resulted in a lot less sleep). I went to my primary physician, who's diagnosed the Raynaud's, and she told me it could be that, or it could be a pinched nerve in the shoulder or an advanced case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. At her suggestion I tried wearing gloves at night; this didn't help, which indicated that it was not Raynaud's; then I tried wearing a wrist brace on one hand, which helped a little. My neurologist then did nerve conduction tests on my hands and arms, and sure enough, there was a serious loss of conduction to the thumb and first two fingers of both hands. That's how I came to have the surgery last month.

Moral of the story: you should get the symptoms checked out; they might be utterly benign, or they might indicate a serious problem.

#707 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:09 PM:

If your hands get frigid when you're typing like mine do (especially the mouse hand) they make gloves that plug into your USB and warm up. They come in Not Pastels, too.

#708 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:12 PM:

Rob@705: true, most machines that do things require \some/ attention. But the point of having a detector is usually to attract your attention from whatever non-detecting you're doing, so it should work without your being focused on it.

#709 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:15 PM:

Rob Rusik: I always read it as a way to tell what was in front of you, lest you slam into such a mass.

As for psionic; a sewing machine can be automated. Set it up to feed material, and keep the bobbins full, and no one needs to pay attention to it.

A radio/television doesn't do it's job (convey information) unless someone is paying attention. That attention may be delayed (with a recorder), but sooner or later it has to be observed.

#710 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:48 PM:

Terry Karney @ 664:

D'oh! I meant that the Pasadena Freeway section of the 110 prohibits vehicles with one or more "trailers" -- not axles (my car, obviously, has two axles) and the roadway has a strict weight requirement for vehicles permitted to use it.

I agree with you on the general driving skill of most truckers -- one of the smartest, wisest* people I have ever known described himself as an "Okie," and a simple truck driver. The truth is that he drove Hazmat for BP for almost 45 years -- and he was one of the few people I would have ever trusted to make instantaneous decisions that would save my life or sacrifice it for the good of others.

When I learned to drive, he took me aside and gave me a careful talk about how to drive around 18-wheelers. He said that I was never to match speeds next to a truck, since the odds weren't in my favor if the truck had to slow suddenly and consequently jack-knifed. He told me that if I was ever traveling behind a car that was matching speeds next to a truck, I should slow down enough to drop behind the truck, giving at least a five-second break so that I would have enough time to react and find a way around any potential problem.

When I started having to drive the 110 on a daily basis, he's the one who told me about the ban on 18-wheelers, and warned me to stay away from "amateurs" who thought it was okay to attach a U-haul trailer to a Ford pickup and drive the freeway -- because it wasn't something he would do himself. He had other specific (but not relevant advice) on driving that stretch of road that I have always considered to reflect the great truths only an expert driver could understand.

* I consider these to be different abilities, though many consider them to be synonyms.

JESR @ 687:

With that useful a set of additions, I'm beginning to suspect you're still a closet seamstress (despite your protestations).


MD² @ 686:

I confess, none of my other English Lit. teachers were able to do this to me. There was just something about the woman that, well, irked me -- and hence, ruined my taste for Dickens.

Velma @ 670:

I've never met you or your beloved, but I've been anxiously following your updates because I fear damage to the brain more than any part of my body, even though I know my brain cannot encompass my soul.

As a result, I'm so glad to hear that Scraps is coming home again -- and that he wants to cook!

For myself, I love my Crock Pot for its ability to make all manner of legumes without a single stir over the course of a day. I make Boston Baked Beans (vegetarian) with ease -- if Scraps can handle an electric can-opener, more opportunities abound. One of the most popular dinners I've made for my Vegan step-father was Black-eyed peas that were cooked until not-quite tender, then a couple cans of tomatos-with-jalepenos got added to spice things up.

For myself, since I have easy access to a Trader Joe's, their wide range of frozen vegetable mixes has created an amazing Crock Pot revolution in my humble dwelling. It turns out that I can dump a bag 'o pre-cut vegetables into the bottom, open a bag of whole chicken (or chicken parts -- or beef, or beef parts -- or...), then season with rosemary, sage, thyme, or whatever seems tasty at the moment, turn it on, then walk away to return to a dinner that tastes like the flavors have been melding all day (funny thing, since they have been!).

I'm not good with recipes, but my general thought is, if it sounds like a French maman would have set it on her back burner for hours, a Crock Pot can do it just as well (and, if you get an oval one that's removable from its heating element, you can even store the left-overs in the fridge without wasting much space!).

#711 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:15 PM:

LLA @ 710: Another slow-cooking option for those not having a crockpot is putting it in the oven and setting the oven for, say, 250degF. I don't like to do this when I'm not home, which is one down-tick for it versus crockpots, but if you're home and, say, doing laundry or other intermittent tasks, works great.

#712 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Yay for Scraps and Velma! I had wondered about veggie-cutting too, but #703 and #704 seem to have that covered.

I tend toward soups and stews myself, and Eliott's meatloaf discussion applies almost as well to that. My basic soup veggies are onion, celery, carrot, mushroom, and parsley. Also desirable are potatoes, parsnip or turnip, a bay leaf, garlic, beans, barley, and leftovers. ;-) This can trivially be extended into a pea or lentil soup.

If you're open to convenience food, I also have a routine of mutating box mac'n'cheese by frying something in the butter before mixing in the other components. Particular recommendations: red onions, mushrooms, red bell or hot pepper in slivers, finely-chopped ham or bacon. (That last should replace some or all of the butter!)

Digressing: Lately I've been making chicken/vegetable stock, but I messed up my last batch -- I left it in the fridge for a week, then boiled it down way further than I expected. I froze it in cubes anyway, but when I tried using a cube for a pot of broth, the result had a faintly burned, and disagreeable, taste.

Interestingly, the failure also had a noticeably different texture both in liquid (brown, didn't separate into layers) and ice-cube form (smooth and faintly greasy to the touch, and the cubes are distinctly heavier than water).

#713 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Terry Karney @709, CHip @708: I figured the psionic Forward Mass Detector was Niven's rational why a starship needed human pilots; as opposed to being completely automated, as we might expect in the science fictional future.

An automated sewing machine might not require an attentive focus to keep working, but if it is not getting at least intermittent attention (to deal with some of the things mentioned by JESR @687; right bobbins, right thread, good needles, oiling, etc) it would probably stop working.

In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Doug Adams described a VCR as a machine designed to watch television that was too tedious for people to watch. He was taking the common view that we are making machines to do things for us. In The Magic City by Edith Nesbit, the rule was that once you built a machine for any purpose, you had to keep on using it.

#714 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:46 PM:

I have just returned from nearly a week at my grandparents' house.

My grandfather, who has been undergoing treatment for lung cancer, found out last week that he has a brain tumor. It is fairly large, growing, and inoperable. It's on the right side, and he's already lost use of his left leg. He has refused radiation therapy for it, because the radiation therapy for his lung cancer had distressing, painful side effects, and for something like this there would not be much return for the pain. So now he has hospice care coming to visit him at home. He probably has about a month.

I showed him my wedding dress. He smiled and said that I looked lovely, that he was sure the wedding would be beautiful, and he wished he could be there. That was when I had to stop myself from crying.

He's scared and doesn't know how to talk about it. At least, he wouldn't talk about it with me, which might be because I am his granddaughter and he doesn't want to burden me. That's the worst part to me: knowing that he's afraid and not knowing how to comfort him.

I slept all day today, suddenly feeling bone-tired and depressed, although I hadn't felt that way while there. I wanted to go back down to their house almost immediately but my father told me not to, that I needed time to rest, and that other family members would be there. (He is going down himself tomorrow. This is my mother's father; my mother and I were there together last week.)

I don't know how to do and say the right things to help and comfort.

Anyway. I thought I'd better provide an explanation for my total absence, in case anyone worried.

#715 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 10:51 PM:

And separately -- after two-weeks plus of muscle pains since a tick bite, I'm off to the doctor tomorrow.

That was the only bite I've actually found, but my last two Friday hikes have seen increasing numbers of ticks coming home with me. This last week, another hiker and I were picking ticks off our own and each other's clothing the whole drive home, I went almost straight to the shower and I still found two this week. (One on the wall, one climbing my neck.) (Thankfully, these are not the tiny deer ticks. I don't know what the local species is, but seeing them is not the problem, they're some 5mm across.) You'd better believe I've had the crawlies this week.... :-(

Ticks just suck.

#716 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:03 PM:

Water to the carriage house! Woo! (For a couple of minutes, until the pressure blew one single fitting -- but that was quickly dealt with. So tomorrow: cleaning. And maybe by Friday: moving in?)

David @ 715 - I don't know where you are, but in Indiana, the ticks are bad this year. I visited my Dad's farm last week and found two on the dog and one on me, and we didn't really even go into much grass.

I have to say -- white dogs make finding ticks way easy.

Those big ticks, by the way, are the only ones we've got in Indiana (to my knowledge). When I found out about the little ones elsewhere, it really squicked me out. Those would be impossible to find before they dug in.

#717 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:05 PM:

Caroline #714: My sympathies! I can appreciate the desire to help, and it may be that he'll open up to you more later... but remember that there's only so much you can do, and you also need to take care of yourself.

#718 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:07 PM:

Caroline @714 - that's hard. My condolences, for what that's worth.

#719 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:12 PM:

Michael #716: Yeah, and the worst part about deer ticks is the Lyme disease. One of my mothers' friends had an atypical case, where she didn't get the "bullseye rash". So it never got caught until the infection was well into the secondary (tertiary?) phase. She's in pretty sad shape now....

#720 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:23 PM:

All this cooking talk led me to browse thru the box where I have stuck interesting recipes that I have clipped over the years and then never tried out. Found some odd things. You know how some people say there is no food that can't be improved by adding either cheese or chocolate? Well... a younger self (I'm not going to admit that the present me would do this!) saved a recipe for Velveeta Fudge.

#721 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:42 PM:

Allan Beatty: I've had that Velveeta fudge (a friend threw a Trashy Foods party), and it was surprisingly good. Funeral Potatoes were also a big hit.

We were totally going to deep-fry Twinkies, but the third turkey to come out of the fryer was a teriyaki turkey, and it flavored the fryer oil, and we decided it was a bad idea.

#722 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:00 AM:

Rikibeth @ 721... Deep-fried Twinkies? That sounds like something to put on the menu of Making Lumière...

#723 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:30 AM:

Caroline @ 714:

For what it's worth, often just being there is already help and comfort. Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it; maybe he doesn't know how. Whatever happens, and despite how much we tend to emphasize it here, some of the most important communication we have can be without words. Be there and spend time with him, but remember that you need to rest and take care of yourself as well.

Michael Roberts @ 716:

Congratulations! I hope that the rest of your plumbing is less spectacular.

Rikibeth @ 721:

Does the Velveeta act as a binding agent or a thickener? That's about the only thing I can think of that it would add to any dish.


Remind me why I'm trying to make a list of conversions? Weight is easy. Volume, not so much.

#724 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:34 AM:

I am so glad I don't live in tick country!

* * *
Caroline, I think you'll be better able to help if you do take a bit of time off for yourself. It might seem disrespectful, but get distracted and recharge for a bit before diving in. I'm not talking Disneyland or anything.

#725 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:35 AM:

KeithS @ 723 ...
"Just add a handful ... "
"Your hand full or mine?"
"Er... "

#726 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:53 AM:


That's hard; my sympathies are with your grandfather and you and your family.

What Stefan Jones said. You can't help your grandfather if you're completely stressed out.

Something that might also help: talk to the hospice care giver. They may be able to suggest a way to broach the subject, or recommend somebody who can talk to him as a stranger, someone he might say more to than someone he knows.*

* Sometimes it's easier to talk about deep feelings with someone you don't know, who has no stake in your life, and whom you probably will never see again.

#727 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 01:34 AM:

Caroline @ 714... I'm very sorry.

#728 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 01:44 AM:

Serge, #722: If it were in Scotland rather than Montreal, I'd agree with you.

KeithS, #723: I've had the Velveeta fudge too, and IIRC the primary effect of the cheesefood was on the texture -- it was both smoother and a bit chewier than a lot of other fudges I've eaten. I wasn't impressed with the taste (except insofar as it wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected!), but that was more a function of it being too much a milk-chocolate flavor than of being able to taste the cheesefood. If I were making it, I'd tweak the recipe heavily in the direction of dark chocolate and see if that made any difference.

Caroline: That's hard, and you have my sympathies.

#729 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 02:08 AM:

One-handed cooking: don't forget that you can get frosen vegetables which are already chopped or diced.

Start easy, that stuff is a bit limited in variety, but it's a lot easier on the cook.

#730 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 02:23 AM:


So the guys who did the original movie are going to do a "Reboot." Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot? And Whedon is not invited to the party? You have got to be joking.

The hip-hop and avowed non-reader whose ego is bigger than Alaska has written a "book". I will now wait until you pick yourselves off the floor from laughing.

#731 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 02:35 AM:

KeithS: What's the problem with volume? A liter = (roughly) a qt. From there it's (usually) close enough for jazz.

Re one handed cooking. A mandoline can be used one handed (if you have the sort with a spiked gripping tool for the veggies.

I'll have to do some thinking to tailor recipes for one handed prep/cookery.

Do you have a food-processor?

#732 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 04:13 AM:

Velma, no recipes to contribute, but YAY for the good news!

Caroline, all my sympathies to you and your family.

Terry Karney @731: I'm not sure if KeithS is referring to weight-to-volume conversions, but those are the ones that drive me crazy.

One cup of flour does not weigh the same as a cup of sugar, so on and so forth. Measuring cups here have markings for 100g increments of different ingredients.

When I just moved here and didn't have a set of US measuring cups, I had the hardest time finding decent volume-to-weight conversion tables. Now that I'm armed with US measuring cups and a decent set of kitchen scales, I'm compiling a list of equivalents. This online converter covers pretty much everything, but is a pain to use.

#733 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 04:36 AM:

Wyman Cooke #730: So the guys who did the original movie are going to do a "Reboot." Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot? And Whedon is not invited to the party? You have got to be joking.

I would characterize the idea as an unacceptable heresy, akin to making The Hobbit film without involving Peter Jackson.

#734 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Keith S @ 723

There's a good set of cooking conversions, volumes as well as weights, at: (sorry I don't know how to make that into a link).

They are using US (liquid) pints, quarts and gallons.

One US gallon = 0.83 UK gallon - see below for US versus UK conversions gallons to litres.

According to:

US Pints (liquid) is a US capacity measure (for liquid) equal to 0.473 liters.
US pints (Dry) is a US capacity measure equal to 0.55 liters
UK Pints: A British imperial capacity measure (liquid or dry) equal to 4 gills or 568.26 cubic centimeters (i.e. 568.23 mL or 0.568 L)

Hope that's of some use.

#735 ::: janetl sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Velma, great news!

For soups, an immersion blender can be magical. They turn healthy ingredients into a silky texture that implies that cream has been involved. If you don't already have one, I've been told that they can often be found used at Goodwill. My local Goodwill store didn't prove to have one over the course of a couple of visits, so I paid retail, and don't regret it a bit.

#736 ::: janetl didn't really ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Oops, no spam here. Didn't clear out that "sees spam" from a previous post on another thread.

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:47 AM:

xkcd on the logistics of drinking and designated drivers, which include making sure the wolf doesn't eat the goat.

#738 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:52 AM:

Terry Karney @ 731, Pendrift @ 732, and dcb @ 734:

Thanks. Sorry to put you to more work (especially dcb). I already know the volume problems, I was just griping. Pendrift, thank you for finding that volume to weight converter; I hadn't seen that before.

The main problem with volume is that US and Imperial pints are not the same size, which means that you have to be sure to pass that knowledge on to someone who doesn't know this. Because they're different sizes, this has knock-on effects for all the rest of the measurements in the scale.

A US quart is close enough to a liter as usually makes no difference for cooking. They don't use quarts that I noticed in the UK, preferring two pints, but they're bigger anyway...

One cup is half a pint, but an Imperial pint is larger than a US pint. Then again, a cup doesn't seem to be as common a measurement in the UK as it is in the US.

The rest of the world has gone metric, so I don't know quite why I'm worrying about obsolete Imperial measurements. Probably because there are enough people around who still remember who might become confused if they don't know.

Can we all go metric now? Thanks.

Does anyone know the reasons why the US tends to measure dry goods by volume while most of the rest of the world measures by weight for cooking? I don't think I'm up to the task of doing volume to weight conversions even for common goods. Just point people in the direction of a set of American measuring cups, maybe even tell them that how tightly you pack the cup depends on what you're measuring, and be done with it.

#739 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Terry @698: We don't have a blender or a stand mixer, and I've not gotten one of those chopping boards that has nails in it yet. I rather expect that what will happen at first is that I'll do chopping and bagging of things to freeze, and Scraps will take bags out, mix them with spices, and put them up to cook.

Okay. Food preferences. I believe that broccoli is ornamental, not edible, and that lima beans and okra are NOT FOOD. Soren agrees with me about the okra, and dislikes eggplant, but will eat any non-poisonous legume on the planet (he's unenthusiastic about cruciferous vegetables).

He also will not eat pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or yams (it's a texture and scent thing), and is allergic to bananas, pineapple, and wrinkly nuts. (He's also sensitive to avocado, but will eat it.)

We are happy omnivores, with a preference for dark meat in poultry. And oh! for now, we have to avoid string beans: Rusk and Atlantis have put him off string beans (you'd have to see how they cook them, to understand; it reminds me of my mother's cooking).

#740 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:04 AM:

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts. It really does help.

Now I have a cat in my lap (really, there is no more reliable way to get the cat in my lap than to start using the laptop), which is very soothing.

#741 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:25 AM:

My most recent crock-pot dish could be done one-handed, given something like a food processor for chopping. It fills a volume of about 5½ quarts.

In the evening, start cooking, low:
4 cups brown lentils
10 cups water
approx 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
approx 1 lb. veggie sausage, chopped
2 tbsp whole mustard seed
4 tbsp crushed chilis

Next morning, add:
salt to taste (for me this is about 2 tsp)
a couple of tbsp of molasses

Ready to eat later that day. Good with bread or tortilla chips.

#742 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:27 AM:

Velma @ 739:

I'm so glad to hear that someone else is allergic to bananas (I usually get blank stares from people who think I'm crazy to claim an allergy to BANANAS)!

If you're going to do some of the prep work intitially and like brown meat, you might be interested to know that I've discovered that my Crock Pot can be put in the oven sans lid (I haven't tried any temperatures above 350 degrees) to brown the meat (it takes about 20-30 minutes while I'm showering and changing -- and it doesn't create the same fond as a stove-top sear develops, so you have to add extra moisture to make up for the drying effect in the oven, but you still get some of that great browned flavor and don't end up with grey meat.

#743 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 12:37 PM:

As for the Sarah Palin particle: bunnies are better.

#744 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 02:32 PM:

Great news Velma, Scraps!
I expect that Scraps' frustration level will increase for a while when he gets home — his old reflexes will kick in, and he may notice differences more. He should ramp up pretty quickly to one-handed tasks if he is doing it a lot, so what he can cook today will be different than what he will be able to cook next week. Special tools can help. I expect that NYC has groups that will do small custom adaptability devices, and I know that there are various hacker spaces that it might be fun to visit and see what happens. If you need something straight-forward that can be built from flat Plexiglas or thin plywood net me know I have access to a laser cutter and free or cheap material if you don't mind catch-as-catch-can colors. I also have decent woodworking skills, a small shop, and some free time, but 3D works will be expensive to ship from Massachusetts.

#745 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 03:14 PM:

Caroline @714:
What a devastating and difficult situation! It sounds like you're doing your part.

Don't overdo, and don't kick yourself for not overdoing. Remember the "oxygen mask" rule: fit yours first, then help others. If you burn yourself out you'll do no one any good.

#746 ::: Jack Siolo ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 03:17 PM:

Can we all go metric now? Thanks.
Just so long as I can specify things in 12 metric unit groups. (1.2 meter planks of wood please, the better to divide them by 3 and 4.)

#747 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 03:37 PM:

Velma: OK! Now I can start plotting recipes.

I am with you on broccoli. Eggplant is so-so (I like it somethings now, I used to loathe it).

Got the allergies.

Am so with him on the murder of a food by an institution. Because of my pre-school I cannot eat spinach which has been cooked (not won't, can't. Add the least bit of heat and I will gag, and retch)

How do you feel about lamb/goat (are they easy to get where you are)?

Have the two of you got good space for leftovers (I need to factor portions when planning the write-ups). If so, how do you feel about them?

The next question: I don't use a lot of salt, but I use some. I know some tricks to intensify flavors, but they are prep, and add to the time. Since I was able to make cooking a steady-state background activity, this wasn't a problem, but I don't want to overtax eithe of you, neither do I wan't to treat Scraps as incapable. Ideally I find the sorts of recipes which are in the zone of doable, and fun, without being frustrating.

#748 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Xopher @ 743:

I think it would be cruel to put bunnies on Sarah Palin's head. Cruel to the bunnies, I mean.

#749 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Caroline @714: My extreme sympathies. I know I say this a lot, but be gentle with yourself, and remember to stay hydrated.

Seriously. Both of those are important.

Terry: We can get lamb fairly easily, and I am pretty sure I can get goat, and we adore lamb. A small amount of salt is okay. Right now, we don't have a normal-sized fridge, but will acquire one within the fortnight, and leftovers, particularly the sort that I can put in a small plastic container and take to work for lunch, or have for breakfast, are wonderful.

Also, if I didn't mention it here, Scraps has never met a pepper, an onion, a garlic, or a curry he didn't like, and he has a middling-to-high tolerance for heat in food. I have a low-to-middling tolerance, but am a big fan of yogurt and sour cream in various forms.

#750 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Velma: One more question, and then I think I can start... how much time/effort is he able to put into things? I like cooking. I like it a lot.

I am wiling to do ridiculous amounts of work to make something (in part because my work has been at home, so I can do something which has an 45 minutes of work spread over five hours, and it's not a hardship to step away from everything else to do it).

Oh... If I gloss over something... tell me. I have a sort of descriptive, not prescriptive style of writing on food, and sometimes fail to see that I failed to be completely clear.

#751 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 05:51 PM:

Velma - if you don't have one already, may I suggest the addition of a George Foreman grill or equivalent to your household (through purchase or loan)? My sister acquired one when a relative passed away, and she has found it to be an amazingly versatile and useful tool. It can be placed on any convenient surface for tending while seated, and with a good pair of tongs food can easily be placed on it and retreived single-handedly. I've seen my sister grill everything from veggies (even green beans!) to meat (think steaks and chops). It's of course great for panini-type sandwiches, and just about everything solid you can imagine that would benefit from the direct application of heat.

#752 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Velma: Hooray. It's wonderful to hear that Scraps can come home. One handed cooking sounds like a worthwhile challenge.

Caroline: I'm so sorry.

#753 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 06:44 PM:

So, why does Sarah Palin have pancakes, or buns, on her head? I googled Images and didn't see anything the particle would be taking off from.

Feeling very dim...

#754 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Carol, it's a reference to this.

#755 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 07:37 PM:

Ah. Thank you.

#756 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 08:38 PM:

I think my favorite photo along those lines is of Dubya eating an ear of corn, captioned "y banana taste funy???"

#757 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Carol, there are entire websites dedicated to pictures of cute animals with pancakes balanced on their heads. People are strange.

#758 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 08:58 PM:

This month was the second anniversary of the suicide of the teenage son of a friend of mine. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. There's a lot of action now to get suicide barriers up. Studies show that of people stopped from suicide the first time, only six percent go on to kill themselves. Suicide barriers would save a lot of people -- a lot more than just the workers.

J Austin, #704, or visit the salad bar.

Caroline, #714, I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. Weddings tend to be too bulky to move around, but maybe you and your fiance could dress up during a visit and talk about how the wedding will be.

#759 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Serge @ 722: Freeze the Twinkies (optional: insert popsicle sticks first, for handles), dip them in pancake batter, deep-fry. Terrifying.

Keith @ 723: I just ate the fudge, I didn't make it, but upon Googling the recipe, I conclude that the Velveeta is about half the fat source for the fudge, and since it's a highly emulsified product, it probably contributes smoothness as well as fat.

#760 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Keith @ 738: American recipes generally use volume instead of weight because it was easier to bring cups and spoons in a covered wagon than it was to bring a scale.

Okay, that's an oversimplification, but American recipes were among the earliest to be aimed at the woman cooking for her own household, rather than at the hired cook of a wealthy household or the commercial baker, and, as a result, they were written with an eye towards the most readily available kitchen equipment, and scales weren't that common.

The earliest recipes were all about "a wineglassful" and "a pint" and "a soup-spoon" and "a teaspoon," and it wasn't really until Fannie Farmer and the Boston Cooking School that the volume measurements were standardized into the eight-ounce cup and 1/2-ounce tablespoon that we know today.

#761 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Marilee@758: The sneeze-guard is out to get me. And half the people don't use the tongs.

#762 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:48 PM:

Marilee @ 758, that is pretty much what I did on this last visit -- dress up and have a fashion show, and talk about what it would be like. I'm glad I got to show and talk to my grandfather about it.

abi @ 745, if only we could get my grandmother to remember the oxygen mask rule, we would be in business. She doesn't want to accept any help from family members so that she can take a break, instead feeling like she has to care for us when we visit, on top of caring for my grandfather. Accepting help can be a very difficult thing to do, I know. I want to explain to her that we offer help not because we don't think she can handle it -- but because she has been doing a superhuman job of handling a hard situation and she shouldn't have to handle it alone. Maybe I should put it in exactly those words.

#763 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 09:58 PM:

While I grew up learning about accurate measure* in cooking (I learned how to make pancakes (from a mix) when I was about 5 (Mom would be in the kitchen, but not making my pancakes). But some things don't measure well, and must be judged by intermediate results. Flour is greatly affected by its fluctuating moisture. Rice dries with age, and needs more water. What is the volume of an egg (especially when the egg comes from the hens in the yard)? How fatty is the egg? Over precision will hobgoblin you.
* My father did PR for the Fannie Farmer Cookbook†
†Amusing factoid: Little Brown didn't have the rights to Fannie Farmer, just the production contract, by their own choice. They didn't think that they could make money on a cookbook.

#764 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:20 PM:

I didn't notice mention above of a very key step in making clothing from altered patterned/homemade patterns--making one or more muslin in effect draft of the garment intended, before actually working with the fabric one's going to make the actual garment out of.

Having had LOTS more experience with pattern revision that I have ever wanted to have (not being tall and willowy in shape... the UNjoys of having to cut down the pattern for not being Margot Hemingway's height, and reshape patterns for not being uncurvy, are things that contribute to crankiness...), I often made substantial reshapings to patterns, cut the revised pattern pieces out in muslin, rapidly sewed the muslin pieces together, tried on the results for fit, made modifications, I don;t remember if I made additional muslin drafts, and only after having a reasonable fit in the muslim, used the muslin pieces as patterns (if I remember correctly.... it's been a very long time since I last did any such sewing).

As for fabrics... I prefer to physically examine fabric. Most polyester stuff the tactile feel of is aversive for me. This touch-testing goes back a long way with me, one of my oldest semi-memories is of being in my grandmother's house hating in "cute" nylon-blood-drawing-lace-edging dress and desperately wanting to NOT be in that abomination. (There are many reasons I hated being a female child--being tortured and constricted and put in pain and misery by "pretty" clothing that all the adults though so wonderful and adorable and cute and infantilizing was far from the only contributing factor). The fabric store situation... there's JoAnn's, which these days in the nearest stores (every other town seems to have one) have large amounts of synthetic fleece and lots and lots of quilting cotton or cotton blend fabrics, and a lot less of anything else--for example, I've been trying to find lightweight cotton with minimal if any polyester content, knit fabric for months. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.... There are some other fabrics I've been looking for with equal [lack of] success.

The Fabric Place went out of business last year, which had had several stores in the region, one of them within ten miles of me.

And there there are the current colors of fabric. Slightly greener and more deeply colored olive drab and brown mustards? UGH! '

#765 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:32 PM:


my sympathies to you and your family.

and yay! to Scraps & Velma!

#766 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 10:34 PM:


There's a technical term for the feel of the fabric: 'hand'. Feeling fabric is about as compulsive as sniffing roses, IMO, and as important in deciding whether you want the one you're checking out.

#767 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:35 PM:

So. Scientist vs Baker here.

Everything I've seen about weighing flour has some variation of 'correcting for humidity' as an advantage of weighing vs volume measurements. But, if the flour is in a more humid environment, then it's going to have a higher water content, and weigh more. So when you get your measuring going, you're going to be shorting the flour more when it's humid, throwing off your ratios. It just seems backwards and wrong to be claiming that as a benefit.

But then again, how large is the effect? How much moisture does flour absorb, in a standard kitchen (well, not now, since we're in the low humidity part of the year. It's getting dry.).

(not that I'm convinced that scooping is better, because I know how variable that is)

and sigh, now I have to find another source for king arthur flour, as trader joe's has stopped carrying it, and the local store wants $2 more per 5lb.

#768 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:39 PM:

Rikibeth @ 760:

Thank you for the history lesson. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

John Houghton @ 763:

I agree with you that over-precision can kill a lot of cooking (with the exception of certain varieties of baking). I'm very much of the some of this, a bit of that, and a pinch of the other school of cooking. However, sometimes you need to know that your pint isn't that guy's pint if only so you don't wind up with something too soupy or too dry.

#769 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 11:55 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 764 and P J Evans @ 766:

I grew up trailing behind my mom at the fabric store, feeling all the fabrics within reach and pulling my mom's hem to come see the "feelgood" fabrics. It's still my overriding qualification for what makes it inside my house and what doesn't.

I'm a fabric hoarder, in part because, well, I'm genetically pre-disposed to be a fabric hoarder (I inherited parts of both grandmothers' hoards) and in part because of the loss of all the "good" fabric stores (which has made me want to snap up everything I like since I may never have access to it again). As a result, I have a bit of a range of "really nice" fabrics and "cheaper, but they'll do" fabrics. I try to make my muslins out of these "cheaper, but they'll do" fabrics because 1) I can often match the hand of the fabric to the desired result better than if I used a traditional muslin, and 2) I will finish such a lesser garment, wear it a couple times, and REALLY be able to decide if it's necessary to make further slight alterations or I should just move on to another pattern.

I realize not everyone has access to much in the way of "cheaper but it'll do" fabric, but I've tried the muslin route and felt like it just added more work to sewing, without guaranteeing that I would like the end result.

I always say that what works for me may not work for someone else, so do what works for you! -- but I've had enough experiences of completing a garment, thinking it's terrific, and wearing it a single day only to realize that I hate the way the bodice hangs on me when I'm tired at day's end, or that the skirt wants me to walk slowly, with ladylike, mincing steps when I need to hurry, so I try to save "the good stuff" for the second time I fully complete a garment and have decided it really, fully meets my needs.

#770 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:02 AM:

KeithS @ 768, I'm glad it was helpful. I was generalizing, of course -- I could probably go into more detail if I actually pulled the historical-facsimile cookbooks off the shelf -- but that's the broad outlines.

Just be glad you aren't working from an early-twentieth-century cookie recipe that calls for "five cents' worth of baker's ammonia." Because even after you've special-ordered the noxious stuff, you then have to figure out how much was five cents' worth when the recipe was written, and it's not like anyone put a YEAR on their recipe cards... and baker's ammonia is not especially forgiving of poor quantity measurements!

#771 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:05 AM:

Velma -

Although essentially nothing that I do in the kitchen should be dignified with the term "recipe", I have found the crockpot quite useful for cooking meats which include a substantial amount of connective tissue -- the old "low and slow" approach fits perfectly with this tool.

Specific cuts which work particularly well include:
* corned beef - especially if the liquid used to cover it includes a bottle of dark beer. Also, for those interested in volume production, many crock pots will hold two chunks of corned beef, either slabs or points. (Three is problematical.) Check after four hours on "high" or five on "low" heat setting, and be prepared to pull the meat out any time within the next hour or so. (Six hours on "high" is generally enough to take you straight to soup.) If you use the typical corned beef spices packet, and plan to use the liquid for cooking pasta / vegetables / legumes / rice, be sure to strain out the former before adding the latter.
* tongue - similar to corned beef in optimum cooking time. The cooking liquid has a great beef base flavor to enhance vegetables and starches cooked in it. (Peeling the white surface layer off afterwards is not necessarily a two-handed job, but may be easier with some help.)
* pork (especially the tougher shoulder cuts) - needs just enough added water to keep it from scorching / sticking. Two-inch or thereabouts chunks (which should be achievable with one hand, and a reasonably sharp knife) are ideal. After four to six hours or so, when the meat has absorbed the cooking liquid and is falling apart, I like to shred it (still in the crockpot) with a fork, and mix in barbecue sauce and/or other spices to taste. (This can also be done one-handed.) With one medium size chunk of meat, two people can easily eat pulled pork sandwiches for a week.

In each case, spices to taste are optional, and I encourage creativity. HTH.

#772 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:23 AM:

eric @ 767:

I'm sure Real bakers can give you a better answer, but I've noticed that (using only a measuring cup so that I carefully drizzle the flour from the spoon into the cup, then carefully level the cup with a knife so that I don't pack the flour in the process), my favorite bread machine recipes yield different results, depending on the weather (and I live in L.A., aka the land without weather).

Having made this observation, I wait until the first knead cycle is about half way done, then, if the consistency doesn't look quite right, I'll add more flour or more liquid depending on consistency.

And, oh, noes! Are you sure Trader Joe's has permanently discontinued King Arthur Flour? 'Cause if they have (I haven't needed to buy flour for a couple months), you can go to their web-page and, using the "contact us" e-mail address, lobby to have it put back in their usual stock (I was told to do this when they discontinued another favorite of mine -- and the manager pointed out that a longer-discontinued favorite was back in stock because they'd gotten a number of protests). If my store doesn't have it, I'll join my voice to yours gladly!

#773 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:42 AM:

Rikibeth @ 770:

No need to go to that great effort on my account; broad strokes is good enough for the question I had. Not that it isn't interesting, of course.

Hmm... Baker's ammonia looks like interesting stuff. I hope you eventually figured out how much of it you needed to use.

#774 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 01:00 AM:


I've seen their new store brand flour in two different Seattle area stores, The explanation from one of the employees is that often they will replace something with a store brand if the price goes up too much. And it's up to $5.50 in the local grocers, where it was 3.00 or 3.50 at TJ's. At that price diff, it's only a few bucks more a week, but still.

I've got a couple of bags of their generic, we'll see how it does. But I really liked the King Arthur. If it doesn't work well, I'm going to see if I can find someone local with food service connections go get me some 25 or 50 lb sacks.

I'm off to their page to complain...

#775 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 01:13 AM:

With respect to one-handed cooking:

I was thinking about whether I had any recipes that I could share, and then about the difficulty of someone with two functioning hands being able to figure out what would work, and the utility of testing with actual users.

It occurred to me that it might make sense to document the recipes from Terry and others, and Scraps and Velma's experiences with them, and make them available somehow - it seems like there are probably other people in similar situations who could benefit from such a collection. And it doesn't seem like there is much out there.

#776 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 01:28 AM:

eric @ 774:

I've been noticing that grocery prices have increased by leaps and bounds at all stores over the last couple years -- and that T.J.'s isn't immune (as much as they try to keep prices down -- I still think I get better value for the money there than at any other store in L.A.), so I wondered if price had become an issue for them.

I'll buy a bag of their flour (I still have enough of their former assortment of King Arthur flours to make a valid comparison), but I'll add my voice to yours gladly. Sometimes, they seem to need permission to raise prices on stock items -- and I value their commitment to quality at a reasonable price enough to go along with the "vote and be heard" mentality. (Have I ever mentioned how much I like TJ's?).

#777 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:10 PM:

LLA - yeah, prices are up, and it doesn't help that I live in a geographic oddity that drives prices even higher. So, we make monthly trips to TJ's and load up a couple of carts.

I've got a bag of KA flour from the local grocery, maybe I'll make some bread side by side to compare.

#778 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 12:51 PM:

Since I got the Annoying Chocolate Book, I've been weighing things more (its recipes are all in grams). And I'm very precise about measurements when following a recipe.

But I will say this about flour: at least for bread-baking purposes, do not measure it. At all. Add flour until the texture is right at each stage, and you'll get bread that will rise and bake optimally for the conditions you have. All methods of measuring are inferior to this.

#779 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 01:17 PM:

First post from The House! Yes, broadband is now connected. I don't have hot water, but the important things in life are covered now.

#780 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Xopher -- I measure the flour if only because I know if I start out with 28oz flour in the pate fermente stage and the final dough stage, then I'll end up with 4 loaves the right size. But then, I tend to adjust the water to suit.

#781 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Whereas when I'm making bread, I start with 3 cups of water and add flour until the texture is right.

#782 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 02:47 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 779: First post from The House! Yes, broadband is now connected. I don't have hot water, but the important things in life are covered now.

Congratulation! Our "important things" list are a bit divergent. My list has hot water and air conditioning up there with broadband, but to each his own.

In the spirit of open threads and Friday, here's a silly poem from


Twas brillig, and the Protocols
Did USER-SERVER in the wabe.
All mimsey was the FTP,
And the RJE outgrabe,

Beware the ARPANET, my son;
The bits that byte, the heads that scratch;
Beware the NCP, and shun
the frumious system patch,

He took his coding pad in hand;
Long time the Echo-plex he sought.
When his HOST-to-IMP began to limp
he stood a while in thought,

And while he stood, in uffish thought,
The ARPANET, with IMPish bent,
Sent packets through conditioned lines,
And checked them as they went,

One-two, one-two, and through and through
The IMP-to-IMP went ACK and NACK,
When the RFNM came, he said "I'm game",
And sent the answer back,

Then hast thou joined the ARPANET?
Oh come to me, my bankrupt boy!
Quick, call the NIC! Send RFCs!
He chortled in his joy.

Twas brillig, and the Protocols
Did USER-SERVER in the wabe.
All mimsey was the FTP,
And the RJE outgrabe.

May 1973

This may not qualify as fair use, but perhaps Mr. Covill was an early pixel-stained techno peasant?

#783 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 03:50 PM:

Michael Roberts @779: Congratulations! And it seems we have the same definition of "important things".

In other news: certain residents of the Belgian town of Virton, fed up with the electoral campaign, decided to jazz up the posters a bit.

#784 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 03:52 PM:

I use the Joel technique. There tends to be a fixed amount of moisture in a given quantity of water.

#785 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 03:58 PM:

KeithS @ 738

No problem. I first looked up the conversions a while back to make Jim's excellent American pancakes - this has reminded me to make them again sometime.

#786 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Eric: Flour picking up moisture has a lot more effect than one thinks. I'm in a much more humi clime right now, and that changed a loaf a bread. The dough was so wet I had to add more flour than I thought I was adding. The result was undersalted. Not terrible, but not what I was expecting.

For measure: The King Arthur reps say, "lift and level", which is to use the cup to pull it out of the bag/cannister, and then a knife to level it off. The real trick is to be consistent. Then (unless you are doing the finicky sorts of baking), you will get the same things.

I have developed a sense for sub-teaspoon measures in my hand. It's possible I'm off, perhaps (down at the 1/16th level, by as much as 20 percent.

It doesn't matter, because I know how much that is, in terms of flavor. I can look at a recipe (or a bubbling pot/pile of filling/etc.) and estimate the needed flavor, and la a 1/4 tsp. is plopped in my hand, and then the mix.

The hand is the crucial step, because I can see how much it is, where just slopping it in the bowl is a recipe for disaster.

Rikibeth: Ever tried to work with really old recipes? I've done some Apicius, and some stuff from the late middle ages. Apicius was easier, but the thing to realise was these were crib-cards for people; and they knew what they were doing (just look at Apicius on asparagus; no question he knew what he was about).

The middle-ages ones were horrid. Prep work was mentioned at the back (now add to hymme a cupp of almonds, pounded fine). If you just went along, doing things in the order presented... disaster.

LLA/eric: I'd not expect TJ's to bring the King Arthur back. It's possible to get an item back, when they stop carrying it (e.g. the brown sugar and chile tamarind pods), but not so much when they go to the effort to contract an in house label.

Which is a pity. I'll have to buy in bulk, and get good containers to store it.

LLA We do have weather, it's just more seasonally defined. Dry/not so dry hot:Dry, not so dry, wet. Minor bouts of sort of humid.

#787 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 04:25 PM:

janetl: I hoot. That is WONDERFUL!

#788 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Caroline at 714: I'm sorry. Please take care of yourself.

One thing you might consider -- I don't know your grandfather, nor your relationship with him, so none of this may apply, but I'll say it anyway: be direct. Ask him what would help. Ask him what would make him feel better. Ask him if he wants company, or to be read to, or music, or if he prefers silence. Ask your grandmother if she would like someone to do the laundry, or the cooking, or to wash the kitchen floor -- whatever needs doing.

Remember to get some sleep, to eat, and to let other people (friends, family) help you as well.

#789 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 04:31 PM:

Velma: I was wrong, sort of. I have more queries.

Does Scraps still have an OT? (If he doesn't, this is the sort of thing they are great at, I can make some enquiries about where to get one; one that won't break the bank).

I realise, as I ponder recipes, I do a lot of manually intensive prep. Much of it is work-around stuff (things you could do, like halving tomatoes, and then he can to the rest), or things a widget will ease (mortar and pestles can be wegded, or a coffee grinder becomes a spice mill, etc.), but I'll need to play with it.

I'm going to be trying to do the cookery one-handed, as proof of concept. Can you tell me how much use, if any, of his other arm he has?

#790 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 05:51 PM:

Terry Karney @ 786:

I know we have weather, and you know we have weather, but I've spent so much of my life trying to explain the differences to transplants who have spent most of their lives in places where they have four separate seasons that occur in a predictable order that I've given up and just shrug and accept that we don't have weather according to the norms of most of the globe.

What has surprised me about flour is the degree to which it can change in a week (while stored in newish real Tupperware® --and hence, supposedly air-tight containers) simply because we've gone from an on-shore airflow to an off-shore flow.

As for TJ's going back to a brand name product after they've contracted to have it made under their own label, I've seen it happen a couple times (presumably because quality control was harder than they wanted to deal with). I started using King Arthur flour because they carried it and right away I noticed that the flour was far superior to the Gold Medal® flour that was the norm during my childhood. I don't know, however, how hard it is to maintain QC over flour.

By the way, since you're compiling a list of recipes for Velma, would you be willing to consider trying out a few for a bread machine? I've been known to have so many spectacular cooking disasters that I prefer to blame the machine for my problems (instead of having a proofing cycle collapse because I forgot to set the timer) but I love GOOD bread. It occurred to me after eric mentioned the KA flour thing that all of the recipes I make in my bread machine can be executed quite easily with only one hand -- and it's now easy to get a second-hand bread machine very cheap.

#791 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Maybe it's that our weather doesn't go from wet to dry (or vice versa) very quickly. Sometime when it's humid, I'd love to see the results of putting 100g of flour in a warmish oven for a couple hours, then weighing it afterwards.

Of course, that may mean running an oven in the heat of summer, which is not necessarily pleasant.

#792 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 07:21 PM:

So, I was wondering why General Motors is trading for less than $1 a share today. They have factories full of machines and an inventory of unsold vehicles. It just feels like somebody looted the company and hasn't gone to jail for it like they should.

#793 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 08:14 PM:

Terry, Scraps' right arm and hand are non-functional. (He can lift his arm up sideways from the shoulder, but can't control the hand at all; the fingers curl.)

I'm not sure how much time he's interested in investing in cooking, though he used to enjoy it a lot. We will have a home care attendant with him during the days, so they'll be able to help. He will also have an OT, but we don't know how many days a week yet.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 08:45 PM:

Some of the chain supermarkets around LA have King Arthur flour - I've seen it at Gelson's, and I think also sometimes at Ralph's and Von's.

(One of my co-workers brought in home-made dill pickles. They were delicious: a nice balance of flavors. And crunchy!)

#795 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 08:52 PM:

earl@792: I don't have enough hard details (or knowledge) to be authoritative, but I can make some guesses:
- How many of those machines could be sold for anything other than scrap? Hard-good sales are down generally; worse, the machines may not be adaptable to anything other than cars -- whose first-world sales may never fully recover. Worser, it's unclear the machines are adaptable enough to be used by car manufacturers expanding in developing nations.
- Stockholders have late claim on assets; bondholders are ahead (within limits, as the headlines re Chrysler and GM have made clear recently). If the debts are greater than the capital assets (tangible and intangible -- although the latter may be trivial at this point), what's left to underpin the value of the stock?
- The plans discussed in the last few days involve, IIRC, creating huge new quantities of stock, which further divides the residual value of the previous point. Particularly, the bond debt swap was sweetened yesterday.

#796 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 11:47 PM:

Earl @792 - the same reason I could just buy a house for $8000 that sold for $64K five years ago, contains a built-in buffet worth $12K, and consists of at least $10K worth of bricks: the market isn't rational.

Although a case could also be made that in the current state of affairs, it's uncertain that your GM share will be anything other than scrip next week. I doubt that Obama would actually nationalize GM, say -- but how much actual cash do you want to bet on it?

If you think the economy isn't going to go hypercritical, though, and you have a few thousand you don't need, I'd say now would be the time to buy GM.

CHip @ 795 - the vast majority of machine tools are generalized in nature. There will naturally be some custom infrastructure at GM (painting facilities, for instance, and a lot of the in-plant logistics -- although these are also increasingly built with off-the-shelf components, Lego-fashion) but the real money will be in the big-ticket machine tools (machining centers, cutting machines, grinding machines, and so on and so forth). Those are standard models, they run into the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars new, and they retain their value quite well. So GM is probably trading at well below asset value. Is my guess.

#797 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:00 AM:

Earl Cooley @ 733: "I would characterize the idea as an unacceptable heresy, akin to making The Hobbit film without involving Peter Jackson."

More fundamentally, I think they're missing an important fact about the world: minus both people who wouldn't be caught dead watching a movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the die-hard Whedonaholics, there isn't much of an audience left for the film.

LLA @ 742: "I'm so glad to hear that someone else is allergic to bananas (I usually get blank stares from people who think I'm crazy to claim an allergy to BANANAS)!"

I'm allergic to apples,* and I know exactly what you mean.

*And pears, cherries, peaches, and other stone fruits.

#798 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Terry @ 786, I haven't tried Apicius, but I first got the historical-recipe bug when I was in the SCA, and I tried to do Platina's "A white tart in time of flesh." What I got was Ginger Cheesecake. There were things I didn't know at the time, like period methods for pie crust, but it was very interesting! There was also the time at Pennsic when I intended to do tomatoless focaccia pizza for the camp, in a skillet, and I asked the young fighters to build me a good hot fire, and forgot to do the hold-your-hand-and-count test. My skillet was part of my wedding Le Creuset set. I was never able to use it again, because the enamel bubbled.

More recently I've done RevWar era recipes, mostly out of Amelia Simmons and Hannah Glasse, with useful notes provided by reading all the explanations in "Lobscouse and Spotted Dog." The Amelia Simmons gingerbread came out pretty nicely cooked on a hearth in a Dutch oven -- the local historical house was able to use the original hearth, but the fire department wouldn't permit them to use the original bake oven, so I couldn't do the build-the-fire-inside-the-oven-and-sweep-out-the-embers thing, much to my dismay. They've since built a reproduction kitchen for demos, but I've been too busy to volunteer, so I haven't gotten to play with it yet.

Also, when I was in culinary school, my chef-instructor let me do jam roly-poly from a historical recipe when we were in the steamed puddings section, even though most people were encouraged to do the pumpkin-pudding-in-a-mold thing. It wasn't entirely successful, but it was a very interesting attempt.

#799 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Earl @ 792, Michael @ 796:

I think what you're both forgetting is that in a bankruptcy, the shareholders are last in line, after all the creditors.

Yes, GM has all those assets, but can they actually sell for more than they owe, especially when being sold at distress prices to bargain hunters? The people paying $1/share are gambling that the assets minus all the outstanding debts are worth over $1.00/share, and they might be right or they might be wrong. (One presumes that some of them have carefully scrutinized the balance sheets, and some are just going "Gee, it must be worth more than that!")

#800 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:15 AM:

Oops, I see that CHip already made the same key observation.

#801 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:12 AM:

My great-grandmother's strawberry rhubarb pie recipe includes the measure 'enough'. Not quite as bad as Teresa's 'until the crust is not yet burned', but it certainly intimidated me... until I made apple pies last fall and realized that a) storebought pie crusts remove the scariest part of piemaking and b) seriously, doesn't matter how many apples I put in as long as they're covered in brown sugar and have some butter on top. 'Enough' is as precise as it needs to be.

#802 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:20 AM:

LLA: I think I can try it. My father has one, I think. So send me the recipes, and I'll test it out.

I don't own a bread machine, but even if my father doesn't, I have people I can task to experiment.

#803 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:38 AM:

eric @ 791:

By the time L.A.'s weather hits the national media, it's been funneled into stories that reflect our real seasons:* fire and flood.

The problem is that we can easily shift from raining-cats-and-dogs one day to firestorm within a week, given a particularly wicked curl in the jet stream. A better test, if you have a sufficiently cold climate to need a humidifier in the winter to counteract the drying effects of running a heater when the ambient temps are low (so total humidity is also low) would be to bake a loaf of bread with the humidifier on, then turn it off for a couple of days and try baking the same loaf.

*Yes, this is a gross oversimplification, but I've experienced heat waves at Christmas that were hotter and dryer than the weather we're currently embarking on, which the weathermen quaintly term, "June Gloom" because of the long period of overcast skies and grey days we tend to get this time of year.

P J Evans @ 794:

I know. I'm just spoiled by the fact that I've never lived farther than 10 miles from the original T.J.'s (how parochial is that!?!) -- and they don't ask for my name, rank, and serial number (which is the way I feel about other supermarkets' club cards).

heresiarch @ 797:

I developed the banana allergy so early in my life that I haven't really missed them (the very smell provokes my gag reflex). I don't think I could live without apples, pears, and peaches in season, though. It's hard enough that I've developed a sufficient allergy to cherries that I can only have 10 in any given month (yes, I keep track by counting the pits!) or I'll develop an incurable all-over body itch.

It serves me right, though. My grandmother had a cherry tree, and I used to hang upside down from one of the limbs, gorging myself on fruit and squirreling the pits into my cheek pockets so that I could spit them at my brother, machine-gun fashion!

Terry Karney @ 802:

I was thinking along the lines that, if Scraps would like to be able to bake bread, I'd be happy to Paypal a 2nd hand machine to you via E-bay or Craigslist, if you'd be willing to test out recipes he might like, then forward the machine to Velma.

My bread machine has been a tremendous boon to my diet (since I get to enjoy bread that's a step down from what you do by hand, but multiple steps above anything I can buy at the market), but there are distinct differences between various features of different models and their performance. As someone who bakes Real bread, I thought you might have some insights about how to alter recipes to fit a particular machine.

I don't have unlimited funds, but I believe in sharing "the staff of life" with anyone who will enjoy the results, so I'd be happy to shoulder the cost of a used (or never used -- because so many people got these gadgets as gifts, then never used them) machine. If you can find a machine that you think would work, I'll be happy to transcribe some of my favorite recipes for you to alter at will.

#804 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 03:21 AM:

One very recent element of the GM situation is that they have found a buyer for the European part of the company, Vauxhall and Opel.

See the BBC report here

#805 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 09:31 AM:

LLA, one advantage of Gelson's is that they don't have a club card. The prices are a little higher, though.

#806 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 11:35 AM:

Here in Texas, HEB doesn't do loyalty cards either, and their prices tend to be lower than either Kroger or Randall's (the other two major grocery chains). We switched shopping from Kroger to HEB when the cards went in and all the prices went up.

#807 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 11:40 AM:

On a completely different topic, I have a language-survey question. I have always understood the words "hooker" and "whore" to be synonymous, but not long ago I encountered a friend using them in a context that indicated they were not. Have I been wrong all along, or is the language changing, or is my friend just idiosyncratic?

#808 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 11:51 AM:

heresiarch @ 797: I have a friend with a slightly more expansive version of your allergy. Apples/pears, all stone fruits, plus strawberries, almonds, figs, raspberries, and so on. She says "I'm allergic to anything vaguely related to roses," which is roughly botanically correct (Order Rosales)

#809 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:06 PM:

A recap... Who around here is planning to go to FiestaCon/Westercon? I thought I'd ask because one of the site's lurkers suggested to me the possibility of maybe tentatively having a mini-ML party. Also, remember that the con is held during the July Fourth weekend, and that it is the first Fourth of the 21st Century that we America-haters can celebrate without any mental reservation, now that you-know-who isn't in the Oval Office anymore.

#810 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Lee @807 - words are rarely truly synonymous, but I would have agreed with you. To my ear, "whore" is more pejorative and possibly just a description of behavior, while "hooker" denotes a professional, so I'd be prepared to believe that the meanings had drifted far enough apart to be considered separate. What was the distinction your friend used? That would be an interesting contrast.

So this morning I had an expensive little lesson in Richmond city ordinance. Turns out you can't park a truck on any city street. Officer Glover of Richmond's finest had my moving truck towed at 5 AM, to be sure that I paid the night fee as well. I may have found a new nemesis in Officer Glover; several months ago he yelled at my sister after a false alarm on her brand-new alarm system, saying the police had better things to do than to respond to false alarms. Now I suppose we know what better things they have to do. Apparently the vandalism and meth problems are solved in the city (and I suspect Officer Glover has a bit of a risk aversion problem).

That's Officer Glover, Richmond, Indiana. A diligent example of American law enforcement.

#811 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:31 PM:

Officer David Glover.

#812 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Clifton @ 799 - good point, sure. Those machine tools are all financed. Very good point.

#813 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:01 PM:

What kind of crazy city doesn't allow moving trucks? Or is it only enforced when you're moving IN? Are they trying to evacuate the city?

David Glover, you're a fucking moron.

#814 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:01 PM:

Lee @#807: I'd say that hookers are whores, but not all whores are hookers.

Both get paid for having sex, but "hooker" has more of a connotation of "stands on street corners in skimpy outfits". "Whore" could cover someone who accepts gifts from the men she entertains. The fact that the gifts are a prerequisite of the entertaining is glossed over.

#815 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Here in Southern California, Stater Brothers doesn't do the club card thing either, and their prices tend to be lower (for the stuff I buy) than the big chains.

Lee @ 807:

To me, personally, "hooker" definitely means a professional. "Whore" can be more broadly applied to someone who exhibits a certain class of behavior, however the word still also has a use as applies to a lady of negotiable affection. So they can be synonyms, but not necessarily. Looks like the OED agrees.

Of course, this is after sorting out that a hooker is also a rugby player in a certain position in a scrum.

Serge @ 809:

I'm going to be there. A mini-ML party would be fun.

Xopher @ 813:

As soon as you let the new people who didn't know about the laws flout them, pretty soon the locals will be renting trucks just to park on the street at night, and society will go to hell in a handbasket. Or something.


For all three of you who still haven't seen Friday's xkcd.

#816 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Xopher, it's a big truck (a 28' sort of half-semi trailer, making it a quarter-trailer I suppose, or a demi-semi), but it was half off the street in a position very carefully not blocking anything, and the portion on the street was well within the 88" city parking ordinance. And this cost me $500. I mean, OK, that's a day's work for me -- but it's a week or two for most in the neighborhood, and it was done purely out of spite.

My stepmom says I should take it to court. Maybe I should. I'd really like "Officer David Glover, Richmond, Indiana" to be synonymous with "moron on a career-long power trip" in the eyes of a disapproving world, though.

#817 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:35 PM:

Michael @ #816, it would be convenient if you had photos of the truck as parked. Once you pay the ransom to the towing company, you might want to start documenting its overnight location for future encounters with the obnoxious Officer Glover.

Which is a real PITA, I realize, but it sounds like you may have the beginning of an ongoing struggle in the works.

#818 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Lee @ 807:

When I was making hand-hooked rugs (I've still got one languishing, waiting to be finished ;-/), I used to gleefully refer to myself as a hooker.

My associations with the word "whore" are entirely more venal. Delilah was a whore, so was Jezebel -- but neither stood on a street-corner plying their trade. They were both seductresses who corrupted otherwise good men (according to the stories) to vile ends.

But I'm far too innocent to know how the words are used in real life :-P.

#819 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Linkmeister - it would be convenient, yes, but when the sun came up, the truck was already gone. Now it is in the parking lot of The Olde Chapel, half a block away, with their very kind permission. Not everybody in Richmond is a jerk -- just, you know, Officer David Glover of Richmond, Indiana.

There needn't be any ongoing struggle, of course. The easy way out is to swallow my $500 loss and badmouth the hapless ass online to my heart's content. A court case could contest the $20 ticket - but that $500 represents actual costs to the towing company, and it's exceedingly unlikely that I would be awarded damages from an upstanding citizen just doing his job, even one with somewhat excessive zeal. It's that extrajudicial punishment aspect that rankles, of course.

I had thought to compose a letter to the local paper commending Officer Glover for his diligence in fighting threats to the city. An angry letter, of course, wouldn't be published. The right category of snide, though, might slip under the radar. If I find the time, I may attempt something along those lines.

That sounds like something for AskMeFi. Heh.

#820 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Serge, #809: Count me in (although my travel arrangements are... undergoing revision). I was also planning to bring the leftover Fluorosphere buttons from Denvention and turn them over to our Gracious Hosts.

My friend's distinction was "hooker = someone who has sex with a lot of men for money" vs. "whore = someone who has sex with a lot of men but NOT for money". I didn't want to specify that until I'd gotten a few responses. OTOH, now that I think about it, my parents both used "whore" to mean "woman who has sex with even one man outside of marriage" (yes, they called me that) and so do a lot of other people of their generation, not to mention younger people in certain religious groups, so apparently there's history of the two words being partial but not complete synonyms.

#821 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:56 PM:

Hilde and I will be at FiestaCon. We're local, so we'll be daytripping, probably mid-afternoon to evenings.

#822 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 04:17 PM:

I think that 'whore' is more along the lines of 'slut'-- an insult, something to shout when a woman defies you. 'Hooker' is a job description, 'whore' is a moral one.

#823 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 05:37 PM:

In my idiolect,"hooker" is definitely a street prostitute, not at the high end of the price range, but "whore" is a far more generalized term, and doesn't even necessarily involve sex -- it's about using any skill in exchange for money when the client isn't someone you'd want to be associated with out of choice, but the money is an overriding concern. When it refers to sex, it's about sexual activity engaged in for reasons other than affection or pleasure, and seeking to gain some sort of benefit thereby. It has nothing to do with number of partners. Contrary to Lee's parents' definition, a woman could have sex only within marriage, and not until that marriage, and still be a whore by my definition, if she'd entered into the marriage for financial gain and not for affection or companionship. Charlotte Lucas deliberately whored herself to Mr. Collins, because her other alternatives were worse.

#824 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 06:06 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 821... Duly noted. There's also Lee, and a couple other people, I think. It'd be a very mini-ML meeting at FiestaCon. Not unlike the ones we had during the last two Christmases in the Bay Area, and all present appeared to have a good time. Of course my not having uttered a single pun on either occasion had nothing to do with that.

#825 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Caroline #762: Ouch, that's a nasty situation. You should definitely suggest some sort of respite care!

When my paternal grandfather was dying, he nearly took Grandma with him, though exhaustion -- she was doing home dialysis on him (and she was half his size). By the time he went to the hospital for the last time, she was pretty wiped out.

#826 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Michael Roberts @#819:

I once had a vehicle towed, and got the city to cough up all but $20 of the total cash outlay for the ticket, the towing, and the "storage". This city was Evanston, IL, notorious for having a larger parking enforcement division than the regular police and fire departments combined. (Or so it seemed to most of the people who lived there.) The towing service was private as well, they just had a contract with the city to do the work.

In my situation, the parking lot I had a valid permit for hosted a farmer's market every Saturday during the warmer months, and thus there was no parking allowed in the relevant corner of that lot for that day. I drove in on a Wednesday, forewarned by a friend of the problem (who had had their vehicle towed the previous week), and read the signs. Parked in the first row that didn't have the row of "no parking" signs. The same friend parked next to me, and later reported that there had been barricades up in front of my vehicle (ie, between my vehicle and the "prohibited corner") at the time they parked on Friday night. The next day, both vehicles were gone. We called to report them stolen, but found out that they had been towed. It took a few months, but we finally got to the end of the line to talk to the officer - he agreed that the space was not properly signed and thus we'd been towed improperly - and we got all our money back, save the $20 overnight "storage" fee the towing company had charged. They charged $20 to "store" my vehicle in an unfenced, unlocked, not controlled-access ordinary grocery store parking lot. It took me three tries asking the guy behind the bulletproof glass where my vehicle was before he figured out that it was in the overflow - I was getting very nervous, as the regular impound lot was contiguous with an operating scrapyard, complete with stacks of crushed cars and operating car crusher, and my vehicle was rusty enough to look like it belonged in a scrapyard... That was one time when I really wished I'd known the truck's whereabouts an hour in advance (and had a slightly lower moral compass, but it wouldn't have taken much...). I could so easily have defrauded the city and/or the hated towing company by just walking up to a vehicle I could prove was mine, unlocking the Club on the wheel with my key, started up the vehicle with my key, driven it out of state that night, and asked the city for my vehicle when I got back in town the next day. While they tried to figure out where it went, it would have been dismantled and any identifying marks on the parts way too easily lost, leaving no trace.

Anyways, if you can prove you were legally parked (within the 88" or whatever, make sure to know whether there are any other laws you may have tripped over before playing this game...) and can get the ticket thrown out, the city should pay you back for the tow because the private company towed your truck on contract to the city. City oopsed, city pays.

The hard part is all the pesky lines you have to wait in to get anything done that involves the city, and I'm sure you'd rather be working on the house.

What are the local ordinances on POD's or similar storage containers? If the truck is basically sitting and storing your stuff, maybe something like that would be better suited anyway, to avoid future towings, etc.

Good luck, regardless.

#827 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 07:01 PM:

cajunfj40, the "city" in question has a population of 38,000. If there are pesky lines involved, I have yet to see one; so far, I've been overjoyed at how quickly errands can be done here in comparison with Ponce, PR. I went to the high school for a meeting about my daughter's credits, then to the post office, and it was all done in forty minutes, including the driving! Wow!

But I see what you mean about the towing being on the city's dime if done at the city's behest. Of course, the towing back was at my request, and so that might not be covered, but I will certainly check the ordinance and measure things to see how I actually stand. From a practical standpoint, I know that I was not actually blocking traffic, but that doesn't mean I was legally in the clear.

#828 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Bruce, #821: Yay! I can bring my copy of "Death and the Ugly Woman" and get it autographed!

#829 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Open Threadiness: Why do the Republicans always get the most interesting sex scandals? (Ye gods, this other report of the same story actually has pictures of the "wolf and cat-type costume[s found] in Berlin's home".)

#830 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 09:09 PM:

Fluorosphere's Cookery Knowledge Base Query: Slow Cooker v Rice Cooker
Hoping to tap into your experience, O fellow Fluorosphericals.

Limited living space. Many [East] Asians in Sydney; rice cookers abound (some with steaming baskets, &c). Seriously considering to get & also use as slow cooker/crock pot. Possibly vice versa. Microwave is main cooking device.

Would rice → slow work well? Or slow → rice?

Or keep doing rice on microwave ‘simmer’; keep slow cooker for its own?

#831 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 09:37 PM:

re: Crock Pot vs. Rice Cooker

Have them both, use them interchangeably for shorter-term cooking. The rice cooker will default to "keep warm" setting whereas the crock pot will stay on its higher setting if that's where you put it.

Rice in the microwave on "simmer" sounds strange, but if it works, it works.

You can also treat rice as if it were pasta, boiling in a large amount of salted water. But that's another kettle of kettle.

#832 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 09:46 PM:

Epacris @ 830: I can find recipes on-line for cooking rice in a slow cooker, so it certainly appears to be possible. I've never tried it myself.

#833 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 09:58 PM:

If you can cook rice in a slow cooker, I recommend that -- of course, that means if you want your sauce to put over your rice, you need to default to your microwave strategy for the rice.

I make said recommendation because slow cookers seem to be built for the ages, while we wear out rice cookers in about a year (during periods when we're eating rice, unlike now) [long discourse on low-carb diet omitted]. But I've never tried using a slow cooker for rice, and I love, love, love rice cookers as opposed to the old saucepan method.

#834 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 10:29 PM:

LLA @ 803: "I developed the banana allergy so early in my life that I haven't really missed them (the very smell provokes my gag reflex)."

Funny story! I developed my apple allergy while reading Making Light. I was sitting at a computer in a lab in Japan, grabbed an apple to snack upon, and a few minutes later I noticed I was flushed, heart pounding, with hives all over my neck and upper chest. Breathing was getting slightly difficult and my lips were swollen. I thought: What? There's no way I'm allergic to apples. Is that even possible? So I googled it. I was about ready to start flailing my arms and screaming unintelligibly (in two distinct ways) when the swelling started to go down. Adventure: it's fun in retrospect!

It's interesting that cherry allergens stay in your system for a month--usually my reactions peak and fade in less than an hour.

Elliott Mason @ 808: "I have a friend with a slightly more expansive version of your allergy. Apples/pears, all stone fruits, plus strawberries, almonds, figs, raspberries, and so on. She says "I'm allergic to anything vaguely related to roses," which is roughly botanically correct (Order Rosales)"

Hmm--I have a slight tingle when it comes to raw almonds (all my allergies are to raw fruit). I think I'm fine with raspberries and strawberries, though.

Lee @ 820: "My friend's distinction was "hooker = someone who has sex with a lot of men for money" vs. "whore = someone who has sex with a lot of men but NOT for money"."

In my idiolect "whore" definitely means sex for money (or some benefit), but I've definitely heard it used the way your friend defined it. More often I hear slut, skank, or tramp in that usage. All these insulting terms for women basically boil down to "I DO NOT APPROVE OF YOUR BEHAVIOR" in the end though, don't they? It makes them pretty interchangeable. Hooker is the exception, in that its literal meaning is still primary.

#835 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 10:32 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 833 ...
Huh, odd -- we expect our rice cookers to last 20-to-30 years, on average, being used 4-6 times a week, at least.

#836 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 11:14 PM:

In any city with a significant Asian population, rice cookers should be readily available, cheap and well-made. I'd view it as complementary to a slow-cooker, not as interchangeable; a small one takes up much less space than a slow-cooker. We use the rice-cooker for nearly every kind of grain (bulgur for tabouli, quinoa, or what-not) and nothing else. I'm sure our small Aroma brand rice cooker (makes 2-8 cups) cost under $20 but I can't be sure because we've had it at least 10 years, probably using it 2-3 times a week.

To me the big advantage is that once you measure the or grain and water, dump it in, press down the little lever, then it cooks without further thought while you're figuring out what else to make for supper. Takes half the thought out of making dinner and doesn't get in the way of the other cooking gear (microwave, stovetop, whatever.)

#837 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:08 AM:

I've done rice in a slow cooker. It takes longer than in a rice cooker, and also doesn't require attention. (The recipe I used was in Crock-It.)

#838 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:19 AM:

It's not quite the Donner party, but this old Pharyngula post caught my eye nonetheless...

"Copulations always ended at the female's insistence: she would forcibly reach back with her arms and pull the male away. Furthermore, she didn't seem entirely happy with the event. Half the time, the female would actively attack the male afterwards.

In one instance, the female killed the male by pinning him down against the aquarium wall for over 10 h while cannibalizing most of his arms. This was also the male-female pair in which duration of copulation was noticeably shorter, lasting only 25 min.

The lesson in that is ambiguous. It's not clear whether the mortal insult was the affront itself, or the brevity of the engagement."

#839 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:39 AM:

I dunno, xeger -- it's true we buy really cheap rice cookers and that might be the problem, but we've gone through two in two years and, if memory serves, another one about four years ago. And that's about as long as we've been using them.

Maybe, next time we go higher-carb, I should insist on spending a little more for the rice cooker.

#840 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:59 AM:

Whore: "We know what you are."

Hooker: "Now we're negotiating the price."

#841 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:44 AM:

xeger, #838: In that post, he links to several Japanese tentacle-sex pictures, including the classic "Dream of the Fisherman's Wife". So help me, I can't look at that stuff without thinking that octopi have BEAKS, and that I wouldn't want one of those beaks anywhere NEAR that part of my anatomy!

#842 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 05:52 AM:

Distinguishing hooker and whore: I always thought of hookers being paid money for sex, whereas whores use sex in lieu of money to pay for things they are given. Whores are on the barter system, I guess.

#843 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 06:14 AM:

heresiarch @ 834, et al.

I'm mildly allergic to almonds, cashews and I -think- sesame seeds. Also probably something else, but I've not worked out what yet. Since the reaction takes the form of an itching hard palate, it isn't (so far) dangerous - annoying, yes. Since it's a delayed-type reaction, only becoming evident in the evening/morning histamine peaks, working out what I react to can be difficult - especially since I can often eat something fine once, but get a reaction if I eat it again the next day (I can eat marsipan occasionally, for example, just not two days in a row).

#844 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 09:01 AM:

Michael@796: I'm not convinced your examples show market irrationality. Replacing the buffet might cost you $12K -- but how much would you net from extracting and selling it? (Always assuming you could extract it in sellable condition -- I recently had to help with the destruction of ~400sf of hammered tin because extracting it in usable condition would have cost much more than it could be sold for.) Similarly, I know "aged" bricks were valued when my parents had their house built -- but not whether that meant "recycled", or how hard it would be to clean off enough mortar to make them reusable in this market.

wrt GM's value: how many large machine tools are being sold new just now? All hard-goods sales are down, so the manufacturers probably aren't replacing/upgrading equipment; this would reduce the market value of all existing equipment. Also, how up-to-date is GM's equipment? I know machine tools don't improve nearly as rapidly as computers, but what would their equipment sell for if there were a market? Considering that GM has been losing money for years, I would wonder whether their tools are old enough to be worth significantly less -- especially after hearing an engineering friend say that the mechanical part of his milling machine is worth less than the lightweight-NC/calibration box (a species of computer?) on it.
I hadn't thought (per your later note) of the tools themselves being financed; is it possible they're carrying direct liens instead of being part of the general debt? I've heard that airlines do this, but their equipment is an order or more of magnitude more expensive.

heresiarch@797: pomes \and/ stone fruits? Bummer. Interesting that almonds don't cause you a problem (per later post); we had an interesting ("are you still breathing?") evening a few years ago when my wife found out the hard way that they were suddenly as bad as stone fruit for her. It's possible the combination of almond shortbread \and/ fresh cherries tripped something, but that's not a reproducible experiment.

Rikibeth@823: as in Shaw's reported brief conversation with a socialite, I suppose. (-"We've already determined that; now we're just haggling."-) The general drift matches what I've seen used -- "hooker" is purely/directly commercial (maybe not necessarily on the street), while "whore" can be applied much more widely (both for any ~sale-of-self or for disapproved conduct).

Rikibeth@798: ~25 years ago at Pennsic, the Sated Tiger cookshop was doing \temporary/ fire-inside ovens; the first fire solidified ~clay, and subsequent fires were good for 2-3 rounds of progressively lower-temperature baking. (IIRC, the last load was Cornish and chicken-and-leek pasties with pre-cooked fillings and fairly thin crusts.) I didn't work on them (my skill level was more make-sure-the-roasting-meat-doesn't-burn) but they were interesting to see. The progressive firing they do at Bertucci's looks interesting, but it takes a much bigger oven.

Michael@819: if you have the spare time/energy in the middle of rehab, pursuing the ticket is worthwhile; you might be able to help turf a bad apple out of the force, or at least keep him from being promoted. I've occasionally wondered what happened to the officer who in a fit-of-absence-of-mind (maybe) ticketed all the cars on the \legal/ side of the block I was living on at the time -- complete with street numbers, and purely on a posted charge (no claims of obstruction), so IIRC I didn't even have to go to court to get the ticket tossed. I also wonder how many other people went to the trouble of getting a notarized statement of what the signs said, rather than just giving up; unfortunately it wasn't the sort of close-knit neighborhood where we could have known each other and shown up at hearing to request that the idiot be disciplined and the tickets tossed without complications.

#845 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 09:06 AM:

Rice cookers, for some reason, make me think of rice, which brings up the following.

Capt. Kirk: You're a police officer. I recognize the traditional accoutrements.
Spock: You were saying you'd have no trouble explaining it.
Capt. Kirk: My friend... is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears; well, they're... easy to explain...
Spock: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child...
Capt. Kirk: ...the unfortunate accident he had as a child. He caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker...

#846 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Serge @ 845

My mind is cross-threaded: I read that as "Rice hookers for some reason ..."

#847 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 11:46 AM:

bruce Cohen @ 846... That thought had occurred to me too, but I somehow found the strength not to act upon it.

"...must... resist... must NOT!... crossthread!!!.."

#848 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:28 PM: I guess I should keep the speculations arising from the clash of Leon Kass and octopus ice cream, found via a link on the jetpack thread, to myself.

#849 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Canard of the week (from a letter to the editor in last week's Boston Phoenix):

"You also state that Cheney is a fascist, and yet fascism includes government control of business and industry. During the Bush-Cheney presidency, the government was run by and for business. It would be more accurate to label the Obama administration as fascist. After all, it was Obama who fired the CEO of GM and is dictating business practice for the banks. Then again, I would hardly expect you to criticize your messiah."


How to respond to this train wreck of half baked definitional diddly?

#850 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Presented for your amusement, new and different spam! From somebody claiming to be an FBI agent:

We believe this notification meets you in a very good present state of mind and health. We the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington, DC in conjunction with some other relevant Investigation Agencies here in the United states of America have recently been informed through our Global intelligence monitoring network that you presently have a transaction going on with several Banks and Financial Institutions in West Africa.It might interest you to know that we have taken out time in screening through this project as stipulated on our protocol of operation and have finally confirmed that your payment is 100% genuine and hitch free from all fact and of which you have the lawful right to claim your fund without any further delay.

Not to mention (1) that I'm not "engaged in transactions with several banks and financial institutions in West Africa", or (2) that I can't imagine an FBI agent taking the time to screen transactions of this nature for the benefit of a private citizen... it would help their cause a lot if their spam actually sounded like something an FBI agent (and presumed native English speaker) would write. There are 51 words in that run-on sentence!

#851 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 01:02 PM:

Lee at #850:
One place where that message is accurate: it is indeed "free from all fact."

Or is that the liar's paradox?

#852 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 01:34 PM:

heresiarch @ 834:

"Funny story! I developed my apple allergy while reading Making Light. I was sitting at a computer in a lab in Japan, grabbed an apple to snack upon, and a few minutes later I noticed I was flushed, heart pounding, with hives all over my neck and upper chest. Breathing was getting slightly difficult and my lips were swollen. I thought: What? There's no way I'm allergic to apples. Is that even possible? So I googled it. I was about ready to start flailing my arms and screaming unintelligibly (in two distinct ways) when the swelling started to go down. Adventure: it's fun in retrospect!"

Ooh! That's not funny, even in retrospect (on my end). If you have such an extreme reaction so rapidly (and since apple juice is so ubiquitous as a sweetener in other juices and thus in many food products), you might want to contact your doctor about getting an epi-pen -- and carrying it with you whenever you're likely to eat something you didn't cook.

I've got a lot of allergies, but the only one that's likely to cause me to develop such a quick route to anaphylaxis is a bee sting, but I carry an epi-pen just in case, even though I haven't been stung in nearly 30 years (if you leave bees alone, most don't really want to sting you).

But if you're an allergic person, allergies can be slippery devils-- and you can have progressively stronger reactions on repeat exposure.

"It's interesting that cherry allergens stay in your system for a month--usually my reactions peak and fade in less than an hour."

I'm kinda determined not to let my cherry allergy ramp up to the level of your response (there is a progression in the severity of an allergic response that starts at a little tingle on the skin, then moves on to hives, then airway constriction, then... possibly dead), so when I discovered that ten cherries today is okay, but ten cherries in a week means hives, I decided it was best to let the food completely clear my system before I wanted to re-start the allergic response chain.

I do, sometimes, get into trouble and exceed my 10 cherry rule over a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream (cause there aren't any pits to count) :-).

#853 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Debbie @ 848...

Go for it.
Octopus ice cream?
Soon, yak yogurt?

#854 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 849...

Next thing you know, they'll start questioning people's commitment to end racism.

#855 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:22 PM:

Cashews aren't related to almonds, cashews are related to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and people picking cashew nuts tend to need to wear gloves. They usually don;t have problems with reaction to roasted cashews, but getting -to- the nut, can be like trying to pick the seedpods off poison ivy....

Almonds originally had cyanide in them-some still do have a bit of it. Breeding for "sweet" almonds result in modern trees which only have a very limited number of "bitter" nuts on them. (I noticed that some Valencia almonds had a bitter taste to them, unlike California almonds. The USA supposedly has laws which ban "bitter almonds" from being sold her. Some apricots have edible kernels, others have ones which are bitter and contain cyanide and are poisonous.

Apple seeds, too, contain cyanide supposedly.

#856 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:24 PM:

But Serge, the election of a black president means that racism is no longer a problem in the United States!

(ow...I shink I've got my sthongue sthuck in my shteek.)

#857 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Serge @ 853:

Not yoghurt, but yak cheese.

Paula Lieberman @ 855:

I actually got to see a fruiting cashew tree. The cashew 'nut' is in a small pod sort of thing hanging down below the (pseudo)fruit. Apparently the fruit itself is quite tasty when ripe and can give you blisters when it's not, but it's so perishable that it never makes it outside of very local markets.

Here's a crop from a larger photo. It's no the greatest, but you can mostly make out the fruit and the seed underneath.

Cashews are weird.

#858 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Abi @ 856... But of course. Now all I have to do is erase from my memory the tar-baby joke that one of my neighbors made not long ago. I should have shown him this photo of my youngest nephew. My neighbor would have realized that he had really put his foot in his mouth, which I'm sure is les sanitary than having one's tongue collide with one's cheek.

#859 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:04 PM:

I remember my favorite card from the Cheapass Games cardgame Give Me the Brain, in which players compete for who has the most reason to need the one brain they all share (it's a card letting you get rid of more cards, and the object is to get rid of your cards). Each card has a numeric value, but each one has color text on it consisting of the zombie player's "reason" for needing the brain.

My favorite is the one that says "Mah tahng is stah tah dah flah!"

#860 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:13 PM:

re Machine Tools (by which I take it to mean Machines (mills, lathes, and the like).

The stuff GM has is going to be hard to resell, because it's newer. The home machinist who doesn't speak NCL (numerical control language) has to learn to use it, or buy a piece of software, and learn how to use that. The software varies in price, with the least expensive requiring the facility with the code.

As to the box costing more than the machine; depends n the machine. An older (read manually, not computer, controlled) machine might be worth less than the controls, but (15 years ago, when I was machining), the new Haas the shop got was about 500,000. I don't think; even with the spiffy controller, the greater part of that cost was the controls, so much as it was the ways and the pneumatics (ignoring the serious machining whih goes into making something which can hold .0001 runnout over 48" of travel, in three axes).

We converted an old Bridgeport (lord, I love a good Bridgeport, or a Cincinatti, but I prefer the former), to digital, which; for simple machining is trivial, and took about 150 bucks.

The real problem is, if you aren't looking to wor large chunks of metal, the stuff at GM is just too big. That Haas, would be usable in the home shop; if you had 440v three-phase, and could afford to give over a 2-car garage to house it.

The sorts of business which would actually be able to use it (at less than distressed prices) already have them; so they aren't going to be interested in buying more, (and the not inconsiderable expense of moving them/setting them up once moved).

#861 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:21 PM:

KeithS @815, I kind of wonder why a sport that involves wingers, centers, and hookers isn't more popular among the Beltway crowd.

#862 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Paula Leiberman: Apple seeds don't have cyananide, they do have (as do apricot, and peach/nectarine pits) cyanins, which are a precourer to cyanide (which is found in the oil of bitter almonds; which are completely prohibited US Consumables. No orgeat, or real amarreto for us. Real amarreto is is yummy. I've not had orgeat).

Eat enough apple seeds, and you die. Every few years someone decided to make flour from. The resultant attempts at breads, pancakes, etc. are often fatal.

But it takes a lot of apple seeds to do this.

#863 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Epacris, #830, a rice cooker isn't really a slow cooker -- most of them let you set the type of rice and cook the appropriate amount of time and then keep warm, which is not quite the same as a slow cooker. I mostly use my rice cooker to have my oatmeal ready in the morning, but I cook other grains in it, too.

#864 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 08:29 PM:

Currently playing on the SciFi Channel, The Book of Beasts:

A princess seeks the help of Merlin the wizard to defeat an evil force.

Drat. I wish I had known that was on. I mean, not only does it have James Callis (aka Gaius Baltar) as a Merlin who looks and sounds like Rasputin, but he gets to say lines like this:

"The Lake of Destiny... Right where I left it."

I still have yard work to do otherwise I'd record what's left. I did catch the the scene where the princess is wading in the above-mentionned Lake and having a cat fight with herself.

#865 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 09:26 PM:

Speaking of the SciFi* Channel, Serge, you will be glad to hear that Eureka is returning July 10.

*I refuse to spell it 'SyFy'.

#866 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 10:03 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 865... Eureka is returning July 10


#867 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 11:05 PM:

"That can't be good." Not!

#868 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 11:24 PM:

Speaking of Eureka, does anybody know when Season 3 will be out on DVD? (No cable, therefore no Sci-Fi Channel.)

#869 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 11:26 PM:

I fear for the future of the SciFi Channel when the day comes that I'll be nostalgic about how good (by comparison) stuff like Mansquito used to be.

Some kindly fannish billionaire needs to make a hostile takeover there and start firing top executives.

#870 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 12:40 AM:

Lee @ 868... The DVD set of Eureka's 3rd season will be released on June 30. By the way, I think that last season wasn't as good as the first two. Rather, it lacked some of the looniness. And they abbreviated the opening credits. Hopefully all those mistakes will have been fixed by July 10.

#871 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 12:44 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 869... Once in a rare while, SciFi comes up with some neat movies, but it happens too seldom. As for Mansquito, even I, much as I like cheese, couldn't stomach that one. By the way, it's been a long time since they inflicted upon us anything with Dean Caen in it.

#872 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 01:49 AM:

Re 869:
"Some kindly fannish billionaire needs to make a hostile takeover there and start firing top executives."

Paul Allen, white courtesy phone. Paul Allen, white courtesy phone.

#873 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 08:33 AM:

Well, today it happens. I leave the apartment alone in an hour or so, and come back with Soren, and it's not an overnight pass this time.

Because nothing goes as planned, however, we did have a bit of adventure. The wheelchair was delivered to Atlantis, so I have to get that home; I've no idea where his cane went, and a home care attendant showed up yesterday afternoon, with no idea who he was, or what she was supposed to do with him. She was also told to show up here ("here" being the apartment) at 8:00 this morning. Thing is, Soren's still at Atlantis, and doesn't get discharged until 3:00pm; also, we were told that the home care attendant would meet us at Atlantis, and arrange for an ambulette to bring Soren, the wheelchair, and me, home.

Somehow, I don't think things are going to work out that way.

#874 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 09:12 AM:

Velma @ 873.. My best wishes. Literally.

#875 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Susan de Guardiola talks about a speech recently given by Joss Whedon in her neck of the woods. Details are here. What's that about the Muse French and kisses?

#876 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Maybe there's a lively discussion of this somewhere on site, but I can't find it, so I'll pass along the word here: today's New York Times has an article on the French bakery owner's visa flap in New Hampshire, as discussed here last month.

#877 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Lee (868): It won't help you for Season 3, but if you want to catch Eureka's upcoming fourth season in (near) real time, has the new episodes up less than a week after they air.

I canceled my cable service a year and a half ago, so that's how I'm watching SciFi shows.

#878 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 12:07 PM:

Well, the truck having been recovered on Saturday and unloaded yesterday, it is gone, thereby granting me immeasurable relief.

My sister has taken up the cause with a city councilman-at-large, who has involved the Chief of Police and the mayor. The fact that my house is in the Starr District (Richmond's prize district of old houses in need of repair) and that they actively want to attract people like me, gainfully employed and yet still weird enough to want to live in 120-year-old brick houses and fix them, seems to have helped. It also helps that my sister was active in his campaign.

Small towns are kind of neat like this. Anyway, the story is ongoing.

#879 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 12:18 PM:


Well, sometimes small adventures herald the beginning of a new Golden Age. I'm really glad that the day has come, and hope that it goes well.

#880 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 12:41 PM:

I hope Officer David Glover gets his comeuppance. It strikes me that he, not the innocent towtruck driver, should be the one to bleed be stuck for the towing fee.

See if you make it so he has to give it to you in person, along with an apology.

(OK, that's the Platinum Standard, but why not aim high?)

#881 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 01:14 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 665:

Do you also make mice?

Not exactly. I did make a little guy named Wendell, a long time ago, intending him to be white-mouse-like.

Because if so, I have a photo-op I'd really appreciate your help with,

What did you have in mind? (Please feel free to contact me privately if you prefer.)

#882 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 02:28 PM:

You know, I thought of that, Xopher, but I'm sufficiently introverted that I would find that excruciatingly embarrassing. And frankly, given that Glover misspelled "Grate Dane" on the ticket, I feel kind of sorry for him now.

Anyway, a Major Somebody or Other is involved now, and the councilman-at-large just called me to apologize and note that his wife is the principal of Starr Elementary and that they are making it an "entrepreneurial magnet school" and he would like my thoughts on that sort of thing, having looked at my Website (i.e. and thought I do some pretty neat stuff.

He says he wants to move gently because the mayor and chief of police are Democrats and he's a Republican. I was sufficiently taken aback that I didn't mention my own political leanings -- I figure they're probably all Republicans to my eye.

Anyway, I get the idea Richmond is in the process of officially noticing my arrival. It's a little scary.

#883 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 02:59 PM:

I would like to bake bread. I always wanted a breadmaker, but we never got around to getting one.

Home soon!

#884 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 02:59 PM:

51 on the color test, and that's after opening it on the High Color Gamut well calibrated monitor, instead of the laptop that mushes all color together.

Though, I did know that I have a color insensitivity. It's not one of the common ones, and it's not terribly strong, but one of those color blindness on the web tests picked it up a while back.

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 03:33 PM:

#883: Scraps:

You can often find used-once (and sometimes brand new) bread makers at thrift stores. Sometimes in the original box; usually with the instruction book tucked inside. Just be sure the little stirring / kneading paddle is included.

The most common model I see at Goodwill is an Oster unit carried by Costco. I have that model and find it efficient, easy to use, and very easy to clean up.

I know several people who use the bread maker as a dough-preparer. After it is kneaded and ready to rise they put the dough in conventional loaf pans.

I use the full cycle. The tall blocky loaves that result make for great oversized breakfast toast slices.

Favorite recipe: The basic white bread, to which I add an egg and a cup of oatmeal, plus raisins.

#886 ::: Jack Siolo ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 03:36 PM:

Mary Aileen, 877,
O yay! Thank you for the online scifi network linky. That's really helpful! I may yet be able to get rid of that hated set top box. At least until September.

In the Joss Whedon interview linked above:
"My passion, my perversion, my voice, my avatar, my girl."
I don't have a problem with Buffy being his Mary Sue. I think, perhaps, he redeems the term.

#887 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 03:41 PM:

Yay Scraps, almost home!

#888 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 03:55 PM:

I think my head just exploded. Dick Cheney came out in favor of gay marriage.

#889 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Probably trying to sabotage it, since he knows he's almost universally loathed. Remember he IS pure evil incarnate.

#890 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Steve C @ 888 ...
That article's from 2004 ...

#891 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Goodness, Xeger - you're right! It was brought up in another forum so I googled and I didn't even look at the date.

I don't recall it at the time; must have other things crowding it out.

#892 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Ah, here's the current piece. Apparently he's reiterating a position he too back in 2004.

#893 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 04:43 PM:

re 865: How about "PsiPhi"?

#894 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Oh hey, there's a city council meeting tonight. Guess who gets to be on the agenda?

This whole experience is just a lot weirder than I ever expected it to be.

#895 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 05:43 PM:

Michael, Welcome to small town life.

#896 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 06:00 PM:

Velma, Scraps, good luck on your next step!

Michael Roberts, good luck- I hope this doesn't end with you suddenly becoming the most controversial figure in local politics or something.

Steve C., xeger, so there's a mysterious series of LGBT rights related misreadings of the age of online articles now?

#897 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 06:21 PM:

Michael, you're exotica, man.

"Have you heard about this guy, Martha? He just moved here from Puerto Rico, fer Gawd's sake. Whyinhell would anyone do that?

#898 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Michael Roberts, #839: Add me to the 'indestructible' camp - I was given a rice cooker as an undergrad, and it served me well through years of grad school and postdoc'ing, and I still use it regularly. As you might imagine for the rice cooker of a penurious student, it's seen a lot of use (at least once or twice a week for close to two decades).

Can I ask how your rice cookers fail?

#899 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 07:08 PM:

debcha - they've both stopped switching to warming mode, I think. It's been a while, so frankly, I forget. Keep up the pressure and I'll end by recanting entirely.

Linkmeister, you're right, to a certain extent. But the phrase "$8000 house" clarifies matters very concisely, I've found. Ha.

#900 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 07:24 PM:

I bought my tiny, one-button rice cooker in the late 90s. It survived sitting on an accidentally switched-on electric stove burner. While the non-stick coating in the pan is wearing thin, it is still working fine.

On two occasions I resisted the temptation to replace it with bigger, fancier rice cookers that showed up out by the dumpsters (I cleaned those up and donated them). It is the perfect size and dead simple to operate.

I did manage to wear out my first bread maker, an R2-D2 shaped unit distributed by DAK. My aunt, who used it to cook bread 3 x a week for my soy-allergic grandmother, helped beat it to death; it was the electronics, not the motor or mechanics, that finally died. My aunt wrote me a check to help buy my current unit.

#901 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 08:10 PM:

Raphael @ 896 ...
Steve C., xeger, so there's a mysterious series of LGBT rights related misreadings of the age of online articles now?

Well, y'know ... sex just gets everybody thinking with parts of their anatomy that just aren't good at text parsing ...

#902 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 08:56 PM:

Mary Aileen writes:

I refuse to spell it 'SyFy'.

Even those who refused to sneer at "sci-fi" as a term for "science fiction" cannot resist sneering at "SyFy."

The former sneerers now have two things to sneer at, I suppose.

What comes next? "CighPhie?"

#903 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 902"

What comes next? "CighPhie?"

Sigh. Fie!

#904 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 10:21 PM:

Do standard rice cookers handle "minute" rice properly, or are they meant just for use with the slow stuff?

#905 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Velma & Scraps: My other half is a home care aide, and he constantly complains about the same kinds of situations you described: being scheduled at different times than when the clients need him, and being sent out with empty charts.

#906 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:03 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 904 ...
ITYM minute "rice" ... [0]

[0] I'd be surprised if that was the case, but I can't imagine why anybody would willingly eat that stuff -- afaict proper rice is cheaper, and it definitely tastes better.

#907 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:28 PM:

xeger: If you are denigrating things like, "Uncle Ben's", you are a bit off the mark. There are times I use it.

The parboiled rice (per Harold Mcgee) are actually more nutrituous, slightly, because the parboiling drives some of the vitamins out of the bran, and into the aulerone layer (the mechanics of the parboiling make it better done before de-branning).

They have different flavors, but so to do other variations in rice prep (I am a limited fan of "brown" rice).

#908 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:37 PM:

I suspect that xeger is distinguishing between 'Uncle Ben's' and 'Minute' rice - they're not the same. I prefer 'Uncle Ben's' to 'Minute', because it's more like real 'slow' rice.

#909 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:51 PM:

I just read about Phil Spector's murder conviction. Am I still allowed to like all the classic rock and roll? Or is it a matter of "besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

#910 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:53 PM:

Linkmeister: Or it might be "Did you hear about this Internet technology guru who just bought an old mansion here and is going to renovate it?" 'cause, you know everyone who works on Internet stuff has just got to be filthy rich by now.

#911 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:01 AM:

Terry Karney @ 907 ...
xeger: If you are denigrating things like, "Uncle Ben's", you are a bit off the mark. There are times I use it.

I'm thinking of 'instant'/minute rice, which afaik isn't the same thing, and certainly isn't particularly nutritious or tasty.

Different types of rice definitely have different flavours -- I'm always baffled by folk that think basmati and sushi rice taste the same.

#912 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:06 AM:

The Arisia staff den definitely uses the parboiled rice product as a substrate for some of the evening meals. It's not a matter of price, or even speed of prep -- there are volunteers in the staff den prep room all day. It's a matter of best use of equipment; what we have available to us are a convection oven, a microwave, and an electric skillet, plus the crock pots and disposable chafing dishes we use for service. You can put the parboiled rice in the electric skillet with the appropriate amount of water, stir briefly, and there's your rice, without worrying if the lid fits tightly enough or if someone's turned the temp setting wrong.

I don't eat it at any other time during the year. I grew up on long grain white rice cooked to be sticky rather than fluffy, and the parboiled stuff tastes and feels wrong to me.

#913 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:08 AM:

Steve C. #892: Well, Cheney does have a lesbian daughter.

(If you really want to be cynical, she probably knows a lot of stuff he wouldn't want mentioned in an interview or suchlike.)

#914 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:08 AM:

Serge: I volunteered to do a party supply run, but I must now amend an "if possible", as my schedule continues to evolve mutate.

I'll try to make it to the party at least, as I have to the best of my knowledge never met any MLers (except Bruce and Hilde, who live about a mile from us - and even then it's been a while) and this situation really ought to be resolved.

If possible.

#915 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Scraps @ 883:

I'm so glad you want to make bread. Have Velma PM me and we'll get you that machine.

I hope your journey home wasn't too tiring?

#916 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:37 AM:

xeger: "Instant/minute" rice is parboiled/steam-debranned. Some brands are tastier than others, but the basic mechanism is the same. By treating it the surface starches are changed, and the rice doesn't stick as much.

There are some things where it's just the thing. I kind of like it, with a dash of pepper and butter (which is how I make instant couscous for breakfast).

As I recall, the basic technique was taken from parts of india, where the preference is for fluffy rice. If I knew how to do it, I might try to get the raw ingredient, and try to make my own prep for biryani (which reminds me of another class of dish to work on one-handed).

#917 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:46 AM:

Velma/Scraps: The secret of bread machines is to read the manual. They vary in the order of ingredients.

I am a "rule of hand" breadmaker (which is why tonights loaf came out a little undersalted, but had a nicely nutty undertone (the ferment was let run really long; mostly because I discovered I'd misplaced Oak Ridge, relative to Knoxville, and tried to get home by driving the wrong way).

Knowing the quirks of your machine will let you evaluate recipes. I'll see if I can find tips on sourdough for machines (sourdough is funny... the best way to get a good "sour" is to let the dough rest for 2-4 days in a cool place, before putting it into the oven).

#918 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:48 AM:

LLA: Ten miles from the Arroyo Parkway TJ's?

In what direction?

#919 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Patrick Connors @ 914... Let's hope we meet. I don't know if there'll be enough of us at FiestaCon for such a gathering to qualify as a party, but there will most likely be something. Stay tuned.

#920 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:54 AM:

Terry Karney @ 918:

Currently, I'm East-by-Southeast. I'm about 1/2 mile due East of the one on Rosemead (so I walk to get groceries to get the exercise of carrying them home -- and to maintain some level of control over my desire to buy every new product they come up with!).

#921 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 12:58 AM:

Photos from the 2009 Bay Area Maker Faire:

#922 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Velma & Scraps: Ooh, you want to pick up Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine. Awesome recipes for classic sourdough french, classic rye breads, sweet breads, dense pumpernickels, you name it. The bread machine makes it easy to make and raise the doughs, then you dump it into a pan or onto a sheet and into the oven for final baking.

#923 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 01:28 AM:

Terry Karney @ 916 ...
There are some things where it's just the thing. I kind of like it, with a dash of pepper and butter (which is how I make instant couscous for breakfast).

I'll have to take your word for it -- the only stuff I can think of that matches your description is, well, gicky :D

As I recall, the basic technique was taken from parts of india, where the preference is for fluffy rice. If I knew how to do it, I might try to get the raw ingredient, and try to make my own prep for biryani (which reminds me of another class of dish to work on one-handed).

I don't know if I think of 'fluffy' rice as being the same sort of thing that you do. I'd tend to characterize Indian rice as being (in general) drier, with the grains being less prone to stick together, but not 'fluffy', per se.

That said, one way that I've prepared basmati before, that turns out very nicely -- fry the rice in a dry, cast iron frying pan, until it turns a mostly golden shade. At that point, add the usual amount of water[0], and cook as normal[1].

The rice tends to have a nicely nutty taste when prepared that way, and (I suspect) has the property you think of as fluffiness.

[0] Somewhere in the order of 1:2 or 2:3 rice:water, but I've cooked rice for so long that I'm very prone to "these seem to be about the right proportions for this sort of rice"
[1] Er, something along the lines of simmer/steam with a lid until done, but this one I really can't explain properly at all.

#924 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 01:34 AM:

We've just obtained a 10lb bag of parboiled basmati rice from a indian/mexican grocers. (and that's the small bag). We've had it a couple of times, and it certainly reminds me of the texture of rice in indian resturants: a bit more individual grains and less stickiness.

#925 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 01:45 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 922:

There are a lot of sources for really interesting bread machine recipes online. I've kinda figured out the basics that work for my bread machine, so I tend to give these recipes a look, then adjust them to fit my needs, but I just made a loaf of Dried Blueberry - Pecan (the pecans were my idea 'cause I'm kinda nuts) Bread that was amazing.

They range from weird sounding (Sauerkraut-Rye -- which could, quite possibly, be wonderful) to simulations of the classics you name.

I can't seem to get enough of Good (not that Supermarket... stuff) bread!

#926 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 02:18 AM:

xeger: I do lots of things with rice (for example, I first learned the technique of sautéeing rice to reduce the sticking when making dishes with Botan rice, from Japan, which would turn into a single lump if one didn't, and have a pleasant stick if one did).

Minute rices are useful for some things. A quick snack, the aforementioned limited space/time/tools, cases where one needs/wants perfectly separate rice, and can't afford mishap.

Generally I use either basmati, or short grain "sticky" rices, depending on the desired end state. Generic Long Grain is for things like rice pudding, soups, etc. where there is a lot of liquid to work with, and I want some tooth left to it. I find the sticky rices require too much work to avoid a single mass in the bottom of the pan, and the drier/fluffy types turn into a cloud of disassocitated grains.

#927 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 04:26 AM:

LLA @ 852: "If you have such an extreme reaction so rapidly (and since apple juice is so ubiquitous as a sweetener in other juices and thus in many food products), you might want to contact your doctor about getting an epi-pen -- and carrying it with you whenever you're likely to eat something you didn't cook."

Luckily, I'm only allergic to raw apples, which are much easier to avoid. Apple juice, apple sauce and so forth are no problem--delicious, in fact. Still, might be smart to get an epi-pen.

#928 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 04:43 AM:

I used a lower-case m in minute rice because I don't use brand name rice, I use the HEB store brand minute rice. Ease of use is the key factor I prefer with this kind of rice. I'd use brown minute rice if I could find any that you could fix in five minutes instead of ten. I'm not a rice connoisseur. I usually include a cup of minute rice to bulk out my ramen soups.

I wouldn't be surprised if brown minute rice had that color due to food coloring.

#929 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 08:03 AM:

And now a personal message.

"Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne"

#930 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 08:46 AM:

929: Sacre bleu! C'est l'invasion! Enfin! Allez vite, mes braves, preparez les aeroglisseurs, les anguilles, les berets, les roublards a fusee, les mitrailleuses Sten, les trouffes en chocolat, les dinosaures, les pointeaux de tricotage et les brassards en tricoleur!

#931 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 10:39 AM:


#932 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Dave Bell @ 929... What about the long crying spells of violins when Autumn is here? Is this some kind of coded message to the French Résistance?

By the way, last night, I watched Disney's 1973 movie Island at the Top of the World. Better than I expected. I was impressed by their not having the Vikings speak English. And I was amused by their not translating the French airship captain's insults to his mechanic.

"Tu es aussi bête que ton frére!"

Which translates as "You're as stupid as your brother!" He was much nicer to his poodle Joséphine.

#933 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 10:54 AM:

heresiarch @ 927:

I resisted even having a prescription for an epi-pen for a long time on the theory that, "What are the chances that...."

But my allergist refuses to even do skin tests for food allergies. [Too Much Information Warning -- by someone who is not a doctor!] If I understand his logic correctly, there are two types of histamine that will cause allergic food reactions: doctors call them H1 and H2. H1 is commonly present in the skin and nasal mucosa, and Benedryl is still the gold standard of an H1 blocker. H1 is also present in the stomach, as is H2. The standard H2 blockers are Tagamet and Pepcid.

But the way that your stomach acid will start to break down foods that have been set-up for chemical reactions by the enzymes in your saliva is different from the way the chemical bonds will be formed and broken in my stomach -- and once the food moves on to the intestines and into the blood stream, your mileage may be so different from mine that my doctor has no way of knowing what compounds will set up an H2 reaction (which may be the reaction that causes your body to see raw apples as a different animal from cooked apple juice -- but beware the cook with a juicer!), so he has no way of testing for them (the reason your skin will form hives is that skin also responds to H2).

In theory, I found the discussions with my allergist quite interesting. In practice, I decided it was worth the trouble of keeping an epi-pen just because I wanted to avoid having a gaggle of fellow restaurant patients ask, "Should we call 911?"

Yes, I'm so shallow that I make my health-care decisions on the basis of avoiding an ambulance.

#934 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 11:36 AM:

If you do use the epipen, the next thing you do is get an ambulance ride to the hospital. The epipen is intended to keep you breathing until the ambulance gets there. Read the directions carefully now, before you're in a situation where you have to use them.

#935 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 11:55 AM:

LLA @ 933 ...
To second what y @ 934 said ... an epipen is only designed to give you an extra 10-15 minutes of breathing (literally!) room, to improve your odds of getting somewhere that can handle the rest of the reaction. It's -NOT- a cure/fix on its own.

#936 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 03:17 PM:

y 2 934 & xeger @ 933:

I know (and I understand why it works that way). But the possibility of a very public emergency versus one I could exert some control over was enough of a reason to get an epi-pen that I got one (whence I could read the instructions).

I just thought it was silly, in hindsight, that I was more willing to face hypothetical death than a hypothetical ambulance.

I also carry Benedryl and Pepcid to take the minute I get that skin-tingly feeling to try to keep the progression in check. I don't know how long they take to hit the bloodstream, but I like the illusion that I can keep the van with the twirly lights away.

#937 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 04:04 PM:

LLA @ 936 ...
To paraphrase a lot of medblogs -- it's not the people who worry about whether or not they should be calling an ambulance that are the problem. More often than not, those folk don't call when they should!

That aside, I don't know if you're in the US or not, since that brings a whole different set of problems into play, around it being flaming bloody expensive to get medical care unless you've got good insurance -- but I'd hope that you'd still call/have called an ambulance if things were going badly south!

#938 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 04:46 PM:

In a similar vain vein to "Total Eclipse of the Heart", there is also "Title of the Song" unfortunately the vid isn't of the original group ("Da Vinci's Notebook"), but the music is.

I said similar, not identical...

#939 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 05:54 PM:

I only had to use an epipen once when I carried one (autoimmune lung disease, now handled by inhalers). Back then there weren't cellphones so someone ran to a house to use the phone while a couple of the guys carried me from the park to the street. Technology is good.

#940 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 05:59 PM:

In re epi-pens ... My husband is anaphylactically allergic to a whole raft of foods*. His mother is a physician. Therefore, he has had an epi-pen on his person (or, at least, is SUPPOSED to have one; he very often leaves it at home even when he's restaurant-bound) since he was in grade school. He has been lucky enough never to have actually needed to use one (though he does love that benadryl comes in instant-dissolve-on-your-tongue format, now -- quite handy).

In college, he called his mom to let her know his pen was expiring, and that he should pick up another that summer on his visit back home to Toronto, then realized he'd never actually SEEN an epi-pen work, in all his years of carrying one. We found an old raw potato that we were no longer willing to consider edible, and instead of bringing the pen unused to a pharmacy for proper disposal, opened it up and pretended the potato was having severe airway constriction.

It was really impressive. And John's now glad he's seen it in operation, so if he ever DOES have to stab himself forcefully in the thigh with one, he won't find it quite so alarming.

* Basically all tree nuts, plus peanuts and pine nuts, and all the fish considered Kosher by Judaism, plus a few more that have fins and backbones or notochords (but not cephalopods, bivalves, arthropods, or, up the other trouser-leg of his allergies, shea butter).

#941 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 08:19 PM:

xeger @ 937:

Actually, I live in Los Angeles, so, what with traffic and the general breakdown of my state's Emergency Medical System (if you want a start on a three-day-headache, Google "California Budget Crisis"), my allergist was more concerned that an ambulance wouldn't get to me in the time the epi-pen can buy.

Hence my knowledge of the progression of allergic-to-crisis symptoms and the baggie in my purse with the epi-pen, Pepcid, and Benadryl. (Thanks! Elliot! I hadn't noticed that it comes in dissolvable form -- I'm off to the pharmacy in a minute!).

Unfortunately, there was actually a point in history when people who demonstrated allergic tendencies were told to move to the desert Southwest, so I've been told that California has a slightly higher-than-average rate of people with serious allergic tendencies. In real life, I tend to get a little evangelical (to the point of rudeness) about the importance of consulting a doctor when I notice that someone is absently scratching at the palms of their hands in a restaurant or at a party.

Allergies aren't something I believe should be treated over the Internet, though, so here I just make strong suggestions :-).

#942 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 08:50 PM:

LLA, do you mean the one north of Foothill or the one south of Huntington? (I lived about half a mile from the one that used to be south of Del Mar on Rosemead - it burned down one Christmas eve, from some kind of electrical problem. The one south of Huntington was the replacement for it.)

#943 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 09:07 PM:

P J Evans @ 942:

I've probably seen you at both T.J.'s -- but I walk to the one south of Huntington.

I grew up about 1/2 mile east of the old T.J.'s and walked there all the time. The day it burned down was a day of morning in our family -- until we realized that the replacement was bigger, and had a better parking lot.

The only bummer is that every time I go there, I remember the Cloth World it replaced.

#944 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 11:59 AM:

LLA #663 (Belatedly, as I got behind over the weekend.)

I've now seen the actual doll. The extension will be easier to map than I realised as the front flap goes off in a 45 degree angle from the center of the neck to the button band. The buttons extend down to the bottom of the belt (which seems to actually be a part of the dress).

There are some good pictures here. Click on view larger and there are close-ups of the neck/collar area, the belt and the shoes.

#945 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 01:59 PM:

P.J. LLA: Heh... we lived in close proximity. Now I'll be in SLO, but I was in Pasadena, about 3 miles north of the Huntington.

#946 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 04:02 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 944:

I hope you read this in time. I was recently informed that Vogue Patterns is conducting an online sale on all patterns --but the sale ends today. Look at for the details.

If you'd like to PM me, and have the ability to either scan or take photos of details of the doll and the pattern instructions, i can probably draw out suggested alterations to make the pattern pieces that will better explain how *I* would go about making the pattern match the doll. (Who was it that first said, a picture is worth a thousand words?)

Terry Karney @ 945:

The world is an amazingly small place!

#947 ::: Hilary L Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 06:47 PM:

LLA @ 946: Seen and ordered. It's just as well - the Joann's I thought was at a local mall has closed. It's been at least two years since I've been to that mall, but I'm glad I thought to check. The fabric I'll purchase from a local store.

The best pictures I have are the ones I linked you to @ 944. I do not own the doll, nor was I planning on purchasing it.

As I said, the asymmetrical addition seems simple enough - a 45 degree angle to where I want the first button and then straight down from there. But I can scan the pattern instructions once the pattern arrives as I would appreciate your input. I have a friend who did a lot of sewing before she started having issues with arthritis, but she doesn't have that much experience with altering patterns.

#948 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 10:27 PM:

Hilary L Hertzoff @ 947:

I'm kinda jealous that you've got fabric stores that aren't Joann's -- and I'm glad you were able to take advantage of the sale.

I've got some observations based on the photos (which I've downloaded to my computer), but it sounds like you've got better information based on having looked at the actual doll. When you get the pattern, I'd love to chat about some simple pattern alterations. It will just be easier to talk about and I'll be able to be more concrete with the scans.

#949 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 10:44 PM:

LLA, I live in the Valley now, but I used to live on Mountain View, right by the end of the bend off of Rosemead. I remember that Clothworld; I got in there a couple of times at least, buying fabric. Now I'm stuck locally with JoAnn's, but at least it has some decent stuff. (Last year: 60-inch wide all-wool gabardine and suiting, and I've seen bicolored silk taffeta on occasion.)

#950 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2009, 11:59 PM:

We have JoAnn's and Hancock out here in Manassas, VA, and there's G Street plus the fabric district further in, but I'm buying the fabric for the pants-to-be-made from online. There is the color issue, but I'm generally looking for something in a slight range of color rather than exact.

#951 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 01:25 AM:

P J Evans @ 949:

Wool gabardine is always good! You must have one of the bigger JoAnn's nearby.

It's not that Cloth World was always wonderful (back in the '70s, it was quite the den of polyester double knit :-{). Mostly, what I miss is the era when I could have wonderful conversations like this with near neighbors and have the ease of drawing out quick sketches of sewing ideas face-to-face.

But the Internet has gotten us near neighbors back together -- with new friends! It's terrific (and makes me wonder if there's something in Pasadena's water that made three of us gravitate to Making Light!).

Marilee @ 950:

I'm so jealous I'd love fabric this green!

We used to have Hancock's here in California, but I haven't seen one in years. I used to lust after fabrics in G Street adds in Vogue Sewing, too.

I have had good luck buying fabric over the Internet, though. Three of my favorites are Thai Silks, Fabric Mart, and Fashion Fabrics Club. There's always the color problem, but I'm willing to take the risk if the price is right and the quality will be good (I get scared on e-Bay, though since so many of the people selling fabric don't seem to know what the fibers are that they're selling). One of the things I actually like about buying over the Internet is what I like about going to the garment district: the knowledge that I'll be able to see a range of colors outside just black and tan in the fibers I like best.

That's what I miss at my local JoAnn's. It feels too much like the feeling I get when I go to the local department store -- "oh, that feels nice, but the color just won't work" or "that's a nice color but the fabric is awful."

Unfortunately, since I sew to be able to get what I want, I've acquired quite a stash to keep me warm on days when the selection is otherwise gloomy.

#952 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 01:55 AM:


The part of the family that could probably open their own fabric store with all the stuff they have in their house tells me that there's a place called New Moon Textiles in Pasadena on Washington just west of Hill. They like it very much.

#953 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 07:59 AM:

LLA @948 I'll let you know when the pattern arrives and we can talk.

My local fabric stores consist of a quilting store within walking distance of work (nice for cotton prints, not so much for anything else) and a medium sized fabric store in a nearby town. No truly amazing stores here, though I'm close enough to NYC that if I needed one, I could manage. But then I don't do that much sewing and most of what I'm doing has been patchwork.

I'll check the medium sized store for the right fabrics and if they don't have a red/burgundy I like, I'll inquire about stores in the city.

#954 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 10:33 AM:

KeithS @ 952:

Ooh! Shiny! We used to have two good quilt shops in Pasadena, but one closed (the owners retired to Arizona). So someone saw the void and opened another shop -- and it's near Burrito Express (always a good excuse to visit the area around Washington & Hill!) -- this is a very good thing!

And more people with Pasadena connections on Making Light! What are the odds? :-D

Hilary Hertzoff @ 953:

Yeah, quilt fabric is wonderful stuff (and I loves to do patchwork!) but it's not going to be what you want to recreate your Rebecca doll (I could kinda imagine it in a cotton flannel, but not really -- and especially not for wear over the summer!).

I've got an idea for fabric for you, if you can't find anything you like at the store in the nearby town. A lot depends on what the weather will be like when you want to wear it (the addition of boots to the costume is going to keep you quite warm all by itself). Of course, NYC has the largest garment district in the country, so there's probably nothing to be found that you can't find somewhere in the City, but I might still do a quick online check for lightweight/tropical weight wools ('cause its fast and easy) at the sites I listed @ 951 for Marilee). I wear tropical weight wools on hot days in California (100 degrees plus but no real humidity) because it can actually be cooler than a similar weight of cotton, but I also wear it in our winters (which never get colder than your fall -- but we think it's cold because our buildings aren't built for cold weather so we can't go inside and warm up easily).

Of course, wool may be a bit more of a bite to the budget than you have in mind, but some online sources have it at reasonable prices -- and it's truly the easiest fiber to sew and fit well.

#955 ::: Hilary L Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 03:04 PM:

LLA @ 954 No. Quilt fabric, while lovely, isn't appropriate here and flannel (which they also stock) will be inappropriate for the venue. What I was looking at at the other store were slightly heavier-weight textured cottons but I'll keep your suggestion of wool in mind. If you look closely at the dress, the fabric has a herringbone pattern so I'll be keeping an eye open for that.

The dress is a good length for me and not too fussy, so, if it turns out well, I have every intention of wearing it as a regular outfit (sans velvet collar and cuffs).

#956 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Hilary L Hertzoff @ 955:

The herringbone is what made me think of a lightweight wool. It's quite a common weave in wool, and I've seen a number of colored versions on the internet.

One consideration you might want to keep in mind is that the neck of the dress may or may not fit well without a collar of some sort (many necklines that are drafted with a collar aren't quite as flattering without one), but you could easily replace a removable velvet collar with a plain wool one, or even a cotton collar... :-).

#957 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 06:34 PM:

LLA @ 956 My first thought when I saw the herringbone was wool too. I have sewn light wools before, so it shouldn't be too difficult, but I'll see what's available in the way of fabric.

I like the idea of having multiple collars and cuffs. The reason I thought of taking them off was your idea of having them snap in. A plainer version for everyday would be good, especially if I can find the same fabric of the dress in black.

#958 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 07:28 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 957:

Exactly what I was thinking! And even, as temperatures get cooler where you are (depending on your sense of style) a knit for a sort of cowl collar or a straight scarf-like piece for a wrap....

This is, for me, the fun of sewing. Anything becomes possible!

#959 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 09:36 PM:

LLA @ 958 I'm not actually fond of cowl collars or wraps or I'd be considering that. Part of the appeal to me is the traditional collar, as it's less obtrusive. But I certainly like the option of changing things. Lace might be fun, for example.

#960 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:03 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @ 959:

Lace sounds more than fun -- it sounds lovely.

See how much fun it is to consider the options that are open when you let your imagination take over?

#961 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:30 AM:

LLA @ 960 ...
I find myself lamenting my clear lack of eccentricity, as compared to some of the remarkable builders here

#962 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:53 AM:

xeger @ 961:

That's a very cool site. I have to admit, most days, my imagination does not extend to making things that will outlive me. It's enough for me to contemplate exerting a bit of control over my closet.

#963 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2009, 01:47 PM:

Belated (as I'm so often) thanks to all who've offered advice on rice cookers & slow cookers. Still mulling, tho' looks like rice cooker with steaming bits is likely to be most useful.

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