Field trip

Jan. 5th, 2019 10:29 pm
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Just about every time I go someplace on public transit, I see big groups of teenagers: girls, boys, mixed groups. Sometimes I also see them walking around the city. Today I went on a “field trip“ with a bunch of other knitting friends to visit a couple of fabric stores, have lunch, and just generally walk around a cool part of town, 7 of us in total. I’d describe us as more or less middle-aged (I’m the youngest, only one other is still working, with the rest being young retirees plus one visiting MIL who must be in her mid-to-late 70s – who was one of the faster walkers in the group). Everywhere we went, on buses and in stores people reacting to us as though they just weren’t used to seeing large groups of adult women. The bus driver laughed, people in stores said “wow, where do you come from? as if we were led by a tour guide with a sign. Do grown-ass women just not generally move in packs?

It was a lot of fun. Nobody bought fabric except some ribbon, but one shop had amazing Liberty of London prints – last time I saw that many I was actually in the Liberty store in London. We ended up having lunch at a Thai place that’s one of the most popular in Portland (Pokpok) with legendary long lines – but was empty at lunchtime. And we visited Citizen Ruth, where I debated between buying RBG earrings (but didn’t, because I have long hair and I don’t think the tiny images of her face would be visible), bracelets with sayings like Feminist as Fuck, and so on. (I did buy a couple items that will probably become gifts.)

On the way home I stopped and bought milk that is pasteurized but not ultrapasteurized for tomorrow’s adventure, making mozzarella with the cheese-making kit I got for Christmas. I started a batch of sourdough artisan bread dough yesterday, so I can have some of it with a loaf of that – or be nice and save it for when Ted comes back from the business trip he’s on.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

This may be the coolest menorah ever: .

(I didn’t buy it, because I’m not really a biology person – more into physics. Now if someone made a nebula menorah this cool…. But I did buy a few other things from this shop, because general coolness + wine bottles.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Experiment failed. Well, that’s not strictly true – according to the scientific method, the experiment succeeded in disproving my hypothesis.


Hypothesis: one- bag method is more pleasant way to travel in all or almost all cases.

Test subject: ten day business trip to Japan. No customer meetings but 15” laptop and reasonably professional attire required.

Test Equipment: Aeronaut from Tom Bihn; assorted packing cubes, organizer pouches, etc.

Test methodology: Pack Aeronaut with reasonable (neither overly skimpy nor overly excessive) clothing as well as required electronics, entertainment items, comfort items for flight (earplugs, eyeshade, inflatable pillow, pashmina). Walk around including up stair with packed bag. Envision procedure in customs, security, and trains.

Results: pack weighed 30 lbs / 14 kg. items needed during travel needed to be packed on top of each other

Conclusion: Single bag provides less comfort and convenience for planned travel than separate carry-on and laptop bag. What would have helped would be more organization built in to bag – the TriStar’s organization would be perfect, though I’d have needed more volume than it has. Things I could have left behind, if I were inclined to pack ultralight include one dress (knit jersey, doesn’t wrinkle and packs small) my iPad (the Kindle is non-negotiable! And so is the knitting) and about half my underwear (I only took 2 bras, and women’s underpantsack so small that it’s never made sense to me to economize there). In other word, not enough to really make a difference in the capacity and theyre all things that will contribute to my comfort, convenience, and level of content on e trip. I’ll still use the Aeronaut, but only for shorter or non-business or conversely for really long ones or ones where my checked bags are restricted so that I want a maximal carry-on.

Follow-up: I replaced into my usual bags: a small Samsonite rolling carry-on and my laptop backpack. One factor in this is that the laptop is tricked out with a bunch of bells and whistles that really do add functionality; it’s got a separate section for the computer(easier to pull it out in security); an organizer section with pockets for phones, pens and such; a handy recessed pull up pocket on elastic for passport and boarding pass (I’ve never seen this feature on any other pack, but it’s genius) and a pass-though to let it ride on a wheeled bag when I don’t want to carry it on my shoulders. The only things that could improve it are better looks (preferably not all black and fabrics that don’t show wear so much) and a waist strap to distribute the weight better. Unfortunately, since the laptop bag has to hold Emmy computer, iPAd and Kindle it’s actually heavier than the suitcase, but it’s still under 9 kg as vs the original 14 of the Aeronaut. My total luggage weight is now higher, due to the wheels and structure of the suitcase, but it’s not all hanging from me and all the stuff I need during travel is easier to access.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

I’m not putting this under a cut because a fair number of people are interested in either bras or website usability, in addition to those who care about both.

Just now I was looking up some bras. (And by the way the reason I was looking them up was to find out what I’m getting from Breakout Bras, who is having a “grab bag” sale – four bras for $50. To give you an idea of quality, two of the four I’m getting are from Freya, and one is from Le Mystere and retails for $76. You tell them your size and can put in some comments if you have some parameters you’d prefer, but there are no guarantees so only do it if you’re willing to be a bit adventurous or have similarly-sized friends you can trade with. Band sizes range 28-46, cup sizes go from A-HH, though not all combinations of cup and band are available.)

Anyway, while looking up the bras I’m receiving, I found what may be the best bra site ever. I have no idea how they are to actually buy from – how service is, or prices or any of that. But if what you want is just information about bras, is really, really well done. They have a huge variety and they tell you how the bra fits, how it’s shaped (or how it shapes you, what it’s made of and what that means, and what the design features are. They have several pictures of each (and in some cases video) and they have images showing how each one would look under a variety of necklines.

From a functional, athletic and feminist perspective the fact that they have a category for maternity / nursing sports bras means a lot to me even though I don’t expect ever to need one.

Some years ago I used to test websites for a living, which got me thinking about not just features but usability. Seriously, not only will I use this site next time I need bra info, I’d include it if I were teaching a course on web design. They have almost every feature a bra wearer could want – the only thing I’d add is a side-view image under a thin shirt to show if the bra has bumps (lace or seams) that might show through a light top. (I like my underwear to make sure that neither its details nor mine show through clothing. Especially its.) There are fitter comments and user comments which include commenters’ age and height category and bra size (optional, one presumes!) as well as a star rating. There are really a lot of features on this webpage, but they are easy to find and easy to use, the controls you need most are up there where you can see them and the stuff you have to scroll down to see is more of the details you don’t need on every purchase (e.g. an explanation of what microfiber is and why it’s used in bras).

You might not agree with all the features they seem to consider desirable (e.g.whether you want a bra to give you a more “youthful” shape or if you care about nipple show-through) but like a good book review they not only tell you what they like about an item but give you the information to figure out whether you will like it. I may well be buying my next bra from these people just as a way to support that website.

WHile I’m on the topic of website usability, someone please remind me someday to write about why the knitting site Ravelry is so brilliant from a users’ point of view. Yes, the community there is great, but the community formed not only because there was a need – there are other knitting networking sites – but because the site is so awesome to use.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (hiding behind hair)
What I meant to buy today: short pajama bottoms and a soap dish, maybe some groceries.
What I actually bought: um, pretty much a spring / summer wardrobe.
photos and some more commentary )
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One of the things I’m looking forward to in the Netherlands is the likelihood of an apartment with some soundproofing. We did sometimes have to sleep with earplugs because we lived right in the Centrum, right by the bars, and it got loud when they had things like the celebration for PSV winning the European Cup. But I never ever heard my neighbors, not once. I am getting really, really sick of hearing every scream from the kid across the hall (who seems to be permanently set on High, but that’s pretty normal for a toddler) and every flush from the people upstairs. I know their schedule better than I really want to.

Today I went to the Jianguo Flower Market, or rather the Jianguo Decorative Stuff market, because there are three very large sections. One has aisles of art and craft stuff: carvings, paintings, geodes set on stands, pottery, and so on; The next, which is probably the longest, has only a single aisle and is the actual flower market: flowers, plants, garden stuff, fountains. The last one is the Jade Market (it’s actually shown separately on my map. It has four aisles with jewelry, beads, jade carvings – it was actually the most overwhelming part because there was so much stuff. The whole thing is probably almost a kilometer long.

I didn’t go too wild: bought some presently-needed presents and some future-tense presents just in case, a strand of labradorite beads for under US$10, and a couple small jade beads. I also got a chop, something I’ve been meaning to get – two actually. There was someone there to care them too. I have my Chinese name on one (stylized so I wouldn’t have recognized the characters), and my Chinese name in a more readable script plus my English initials on the other. I’m wondering now about legalities in the US. Like, when you buy a house and you have to initial eleventy-jillion pieces of paper, could I use a chop for that? It would be easier.

Thank goodness it’s finally cooler. I wore cropped jeans, a 3/4-sleeve T, and an extremely light jacket that’s breathable but cuts the wind a but, and that was about right. I walked to the subway, took the crowded MRT train 6 stations or so, walked from the subway station to the market which was on the next major street (300m or so); wandered the whole length of the market, going back and forth and doing some parts twice, though lots of crowds and noise sights and smells and smells, was told to come back in an hour while the chop was being carved, went from the north end of the market back to the street the train runs on, bought some tights and some groceries in the fancy department store there (department stores all have food courts and supermarkets here), walked back to the jade Market carrying my bags, dived into it, picked up my chop and took a cab home. And I wasn’t totally dead when I got home – it’s amazing how much easier everything is when it’s not hot out!

(NB – if this all doesn’t sound all that tiring, then you probably haven’t walked through a Taipei market. This wasn’t horribly crowded, but there were still lots of people and as always, so much sensory stimulation that it can be exhausting. Also, I had already erged 15km – not at a hard pace, but it’s still an hour and a half workout.)

Knitting: The hat I’m knitting for Ted is going OK, except that the brim is curling a bit. It’s inspired by one we saw in a knitting / knitwear shop in Sweden. The pattern wasn’t available so I’m making it up as I go along; the brim is tvåändsstickning, aka Swedish twined knitting (more or less, I’ve included some plain rows in there too, which I’m pretty sure is not done in tradition) and the top is normal stranded colorwork, in a geometric design for which the shop did have a sweater pattern with a chart. I’m only a couple rows past the brim; it looks OK except the brim wants to fold up in the middle, no doubt due to the plain rows among the tvåändsstickning. I’m hoping blocking will fix that, or that it will be tight enough while being worn to stay in place. I’ll take pictures once there’s enough of the hat to see the pattern.

This is my first real colorwork, and it’s going OK, but slowly. For the stranded knitting, I’m holding one yarn in my left hand as I normally do and the other in my right – I haven’t done any English-style knitting since my early learning days and it’s slow and awkward for me to use that yarn. Hopefully it will be smoother after a bit. (Apparently the tvåändsstickning part is slow for everyone.) Also, the yarn the shop sold me is only a DK weight, so it doesn’t go all that fast – but with the two thicknesses of yarn in both techniques used, I think it will be plenty warm enough. It’s a very traditional yarn, meaning very scratchy, but I think it will bloom and soften when I wash it. No, I didn’t wash the swatch. I am Bad. One yarn is an undyed natural color, and I suspect the other is also undyed, just from black sheep.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


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April 2019

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