Sunday, 31 May 2009

Links of the week, 31/05/2009

Lots of space and aero this week, apparently!

How Sesame Street Changed the World
I used to watch Sesame Street when I was little (there is a picture of me when I was about 1 and a bit years old watching it, in black and white!). Of course, I couldn't know about all its benefits back then, but I still remember their song about crossing the road when the light is green.
Carina Nebula Panorama from Hubble
I shouldn't look at space pr0n at work, but this is just amazing.
B-2 Spirit
Isn't this, well, sexy? I'm drooling over this plane. Look at the trailing vortices in picture 5. I'll be in my bunk.
Robot exoskeleton
Robot exoskeletons are something very common in science fiction. While the ones in real life have, at least initially, medical applications, most of the ones I have read about or seen are involved with heavy work (like in Aliens) or warfare (for example, in Starship Troopers - the book, not the movie!). I want one too.
Rendezvous around the Moon
Before Apolo 11 made it to the surface, Apolo 10 tested their systems.
10 Amazing Sculptures Made of Typewriters
I learned how to type in my father's electrical typewriter. However, I do remember very vividly how once, when I was quite small, I went with him to the high school where he taught, and there was a very old typewriter lying around. I spent hours playing with it, watching the little arms move.
No kittens were harmed in the production of this video. WARNING: may melt your brain of cute.
3D murals
Amazing murals. I have had trouble distinguishing what is real from what is drawn.
Waiting for Godot
I have tickets, I have tickets!
Hubble's final servicing mission
Several pictures of the last Shuttle mission, to service Hubble. We like Hubble, and I want to be an astronaut! I also learned a couple of days ago that one of the astronauts in this mission is a huge Star Trek fan, so NASA encoded the movie and beamed it up, so they could watch it aboard the ISS. Which is awesome.
Infrared picture of Shuttle Atlantis
I really want to be an astronaut!
Knittar is a recurrent character in Para Abnormal, which leads me to think he is a knitter or has a knitter in his life. This time, Knittar fights the enormous Quilt Giant OF DOOM! Thursday's comic is also knitting-related. Subscribe to it and reyoince in the yarn.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The turkey and the zaps

Today, my body has been cleared from Sertraline for two weeks. Sertraline takes about two weeks to have some effect in an ill person so, despite having a rather short half-life, it makes some sense that the withdrawal side-effects would take about two weeks to wear off. They can stop any time now.
Technically, it's not withdrawal, but a discontinuation syndrome. Antidepressants do create a dependency, but they are not addictive: patients on them, while they need them to function, will not go down drug-seeking behaviours, and this makes a different (for example, in lab experiments, animals given the option will not increase their dose as they do with other addictive drugs).

The discontinuation has not affected my mood, which is a huge success. My best friend was incredibly proud of me when I told him that I had stopped them, and talked about how far I had come from the bad time.

The main problem I have had with the discontinuation have been the brain zaps, which feel like a static shock (I like this description of the zaps (4th paragraph)).
It took a couple of days for them to get started, which made me foolishly believe that I had escaped them. They reached their worse last week, about a week after I had stopped (which makes sense in the two-week theory), when I had to go home from work because I couldn't handle it any more, and they made my left eye see blue. I kid you not, my sofa was green when looked from my left eye instead of brown, and the pale cushions were blue. No awesome 3D effects, though.

At the moment the brain zaps are finally in remission: most of my morning are now free of zaps, and they only appear in the afternoon, as I get more tired. They normally get triggered by things like changing positions (like from standing to sitting down), when I change directions (turning corners is suddenly very difficult) and when I look at things that are at different distances (I've been looking at the floor while walking because it's always at a constant distance). They get worse the more tired I get.

And this is my cold-turkey experience. Dizziness that is still present, but no mood change. I guess is not so bad, but I would like if the zaps stopped, and if it also brought my incredibly vivid and realistic dreams to a halt. And a pony :)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

More piggies, GIR. I demand piggies!

One of my favourite cartoon shows is Invader Zim, and in particular GIR, the little robot. GIR is quite a stupid robot, built like that on purpose by the rules where Zim comes from, before packing him to Earth, the furthest place they could think of. Zim is not a good invader. And GIR is so cute. I am a bit like GIR.

My favourite episode is Bad, bad rubber piggy, in which they build a Space Time Object Replacement Device and send piggies back to the past. These are for science, GIR. SCIENCE!
(Come here and hear audio-clips from the series. Just select "Bad, bad rubber piggy" on the episode search, and you will find out why I'm so weird, and how much this post is littered by quotes)

I have now made two piggies, with different patterns. I will make yet another piggy (need more piggies), but using design elements of both of them, as I would like something in between.

Piggy 1
Piggy 1
Piggy 2
Piggy 2

Were I a real scientist!, I would put the piggies in the Large Hadron Collider and fly them against each other to create a new breed of super-piggy, with the strength of ten thousand little piggies!

Oh, gods, I think I've gone mad.
Yay, we're doomed!

Friday, 22 May 2009

J is for...

J is for Jaime, my little brother.
By little, of course, I mean that he was born several years after me, as he is now a good foot taller than I am. I still weigh more than him, though, as he is closely related to spaghetti, so good old inertia is still on my side if we wrestle.

My much awaited little brother was born when I was nearly 8. I had wanted a little sibling for years, as most of my friends had some, but that was when it suited my parents best. There were, of course, times when I really hated ever wishing one, as everything was centred about him!
Here is my little brother when he was exactly one month old. Only one month to the day, don't get distracted by the hair. We were both born with that much hair, and it didn't fall off, not a single one of them. We have always been weird.

J is for...

For many years, my mental image of Jaime was that of a 9 year old child, as that was his age when I left home. However, he is now 17. In the last year of so, as he enters the last years of teenagehood, we are starting to have more and more things in common. Instead of short "How are you? Fine, you? Fine" conversations, we now chat about things we both like, mainly video games, movies, science fiction and the internet. And I love being able to talk to him on the same level as to a friend!
J is for...

Jaime will go to university next year, to study Computer Science. He is now finishing his exams, and getting ready to apply to university. I wish him the best of luck on his exams and university applications.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Franken-ADD booties

So, what does one do when her ADD booties are too long? Turn them into Franken-ADD booties, of course! Well, not quite, but I still cut into them and put them together, so it counts. While its not really a tutorial, I documented my process extensively, so I could share it, because I'm quite proud of my fixing of them!

The first part of the process involves research. TECHknitter has a very good article on how to fix knitting that it is either too long, or too short. This method is a lot simpler if you have stockinette instead of garter stitch, due to the geometry of the stitches (which I'm not even going to attempt to explain, she does a much better job).
However, shortening a piece of garter, although off by half a stitch, it's really like grafting two garter stitch pieces together, right? Cue for Theresa, of Techniques with Theresa fame. Her Knitty article on grafting is very good, and is what finally taught me to graft. However, in this case, the appropriate section is almost a throwaway comment at the end about how to graft garter.

With my newly gained knowledge and my tools, I set on to work.

First I decided that I wanted to get rid of 5 double lumps. Because the grafting would effectively add an extra lump, I picked up stitches so that there would be 6 lumps in the middle, with one to be created later (6-1=5!) I picked up the stitches as Theresa said: the stitches from the front have the purl bumps against them, and the stitches at the back have the knit stitches against them, as you can see in the picture.

ADD booties fixing

Snip, snip!
ADD booties fixingADD booties fixingADD booties fixing

Unravelling garter stitch is actually a bit complicated, as you can't really just rip. At every edge, the yarn wraps around itself, so you have to pass it through. Otherwise it kind of stops and the end!

And now, the grafting. The set up stitches are purl front (leave), purl front (leave). And then knit front drop, purl front leave; knit back drop, knit back leave.
I didn't look like much, I thought it was going to be a disaster and would have to reknit them.
ADD booties fixing

However, tightening up the yarn yielded wonders.
ADD booties fixing

At the end, I couldn't even tell where I had worked on it.
ADD booties fixing

The edges are, as previously advertised, off by half a stitch, but I don't think it's really visible. Just in case, I did the snipping on the same place in the other slipper, just so they could be symmetrical.

And now I have booties! (at time of picture, booties don't have the slipper soles I got them, but I just want to wear them, dammit, it can wait!)
ADD booties fixing       ADD booties fixing

Monday, 18 May 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I am not a US citizen, but I know some of my (admittedly few) readers are, so I feel compelled to pass on this message to them, brought to my attention by Neil Gaiman's journal about Stem Cell Research.

The Bush administration, while not outlawing stem cell research, did stop all its government funding regarding embryonic stem cells. The Obama administration is lifting that funding ban, and rewriting the law concerning the conditions of funding for this research.
This conditions have just been issued, and are open for comments and feedback, until the 26th May. At the moment, not only the guidelines are still a bit restrictive, but the comments are being completely flooded by groups that oppose this research.
I am a firm believer on stem cell research, so I wanted to pass this information on so that you too can express you opinion on the matter. You may very well be completely against it, or you might completely support it, but either way the opportunity is here for you to express your views (though, of course, I am hoping to achieve comments on favour of it, I will accept those against).

The link to Neil's post, where he explains it much better than I can, is here. The full information on what is happening (the information Neil himself got) is here.
To read the proposed guidelines, click here (and I've actually read them!), and to put forward your opinion on the matter, click here.

I am also open for a discussion on the matter, or clarifications, either by blog or by email (address modified to try and confuse spam bots!)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Links of the week, 17/05/09

First, two movies:
On Wednesday, I went with my S'n'B to see Coraline. It was great! Aside from the fact that I went out with friends, the movie was very good. The stop-motion and the 3D worked really well, and it was full of crafty bits (so much knitted stuff). Good nightmare fuel as well. I would really recommend it.
Star Trek (11/0)
And, on a rare event, I went out twice this week to the cinema. On Saturday afternoon, Alex and I saw Star Trek. I quite enjoyed it. For being an odd number, it was quite decent (hence the "zero" renaming, not just for the origin bit). I am only familiar with Star Trek from second-hand experience (ie, ie2, though I've seen Wrath of Khan), but that was enough to get some of the references (hehe nuclear wessels). It is now quite strange to play Civ4, voiced by Leonard Nemoy. I liked it, and I think I want to broaden my Star Trek horizons after this.

BBC NEWS Magazine: Are we all capable of violence?
I have just finished reading Blindness, which centres around a dystopia. Most dystopias end up incredibly violent, because violence is there in all of us. I like this article and how social behaviour influences the make up of our violent brain.
Science tattoo emporium
Science tattoos.
Life’s First Spark Re-Created in the Laboratory
The origin of life is currently explained as starting in a warm soup, with self-replicating molecules forming. This step remained elusive to re-create in a lab setting, until now. I do hope it's all true and correct, because it would be awesome. Life created in the lab!
Get organized: 12 Minutes to Go
I am not a very good housekeep, truth be told. We manage to keep mostly on top of dishes and laundry, because they are more visible, but other normal cleaning gets a bit abandoned. Alex is much better at it than I am, but we'd still rather play games than clean. I am trying to follow this small list of tasks, in the hopes to minimise the massive cleaning sessions when we finally realise we've not cleaned for a while. A little often can go a long way.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Cold turkey

Cold turkeyI have been taking sertraline for 2 1/2 years now. Funny enough, I have spent 1 1/2 of those years trying to stop taking it! The first decrease program my doctor and I devised (which would have taken me from 50mg/day to none in 2 months), proved too much for my brain. After about a year, I managed to go down to 25mg, which is an incredibly small dose.

Last time I tried to stop taking it, I went for 25-25-0. However, my body decided to interpret this as me forgetting my meds, and went on withdrawal. I would then give it meds for two more days, so it wasn't getting used to no meds.

I'm going to try again. However, I have explicit permission from my doctor to go cold turkey. Because it is such a small dose, quitting cold turkey shouldn't fry my brain, and hopefully this way I can get through the withdrawal phase in one go, rather than starting and stopping. My doctor has arranged a phone consultation for next week, so we can discuss how I'm doing. I will still be taking the other antidepressant at night, which I also want to stop, but I'm only going to change one variable at a time.

My apologies if I am a bit weird(er) on the next bunch of days. I expect that they will be exciting times for me, but I hope they are not exciting for those around me.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


If it wasn't because I clearly remember being at physio-2, I would have sworn I got run over by a steam roller. Ouch ouch ouch I ache. I walked for 6 minutes on a thread mill! And then stood on tip-toes. My physio is clearly a monster.

I think the main problem is that the effort and exhaustion triggered a migraine, so I've had to deal with the two things at once, and I just feel rotten. At least my physio said that I had very good ankle coordination for having been in the cast for so long, so hopefully it will get better with time.
The migraine did take away what I think was an impending down, so something good came out of it. Migraines and depression are related to each other, working on similar mechanisms, and in my case if I have one I don't have the other.

Today I'm not wearing my boot around the office, as he told me to do, but I can't fully stretch my knee. I need to go food shopping this evening, but I think I will have a long hot bath when I get back home after that. Oh yes.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Links of the week, 10/05/2009

I find myself with a bit of extra free time lately, due to a series of events, so I thought it might be a good idea to restart the links of the week. Especially because I've found a way in which it is even less work for me to set them up!

feeling stitchy: Crafty Blog School
Feeling Stitchy has a quite nice Blog School series, with all sorts of tips to set up and personalise your blog. Link goes to 3rd item in the series, about creating a personalised banner, but they are all worth perusing.

PocketMod: The Free Recyclable Personal Organizer
While I'm thinking on buying some form of PDA/smarphone, I like this paper alternative to a PDA. I normally carry my planner and a small notebook with me, but this is still a good thing. You can create many different templates to print, and carry your small organiser with you. I really like the different options the printouts have.

Silver's Sock Class (tutorials)
All manner of socks tutorials. The standard one sock in 4 dpns, but also one toe-up sock on two circularl needles, and the incredibly exciting and incredibly scary two toe-up sock on one circular needle. I might need to try this last one, but I think I will do that in one of Alex's socks, and the ones that I plan to knit for me will be lacy, and it will probably confuse the heck out of me (his are just moderately plainly ribbed).

Needles & Knots: Heel Compendium
And one the same topic of socks, a page with instructions and pictures for all manner of knitted heels.

Where No Flag Has Gone Before
Good paper on the political and technical challenges behind putting a US flag on the Moon. I especially like the technical ones, of course!

Creative minds: the links between mental illness and creativity
Brains are funny things. I've held discussions over the illness/creativity link, and whether it's better to be horribly depressed and creative, or normal and less creative. For me, it's an easy question: I'd rather be normal than creative, because my creativity was no use for me when I couldn't get out of bed. But I can see how creativity in different areas can be linked to mental illnesses, and I like how the article approaches their "uses".

Green Karat: recycled jewellery
One of the threads in Remnants talked about diamonds, and the discussion led me to re-search for this site. They do all sorts of jewellery with synthetic diamonds/precious stones, and recycled gold and other materials (I seem to remember mostly from computers). The jewellery is really nice and really geeky as a bonus, so I wouldn't mind getting something from here. I'll see how many pennies I have in my piggy!

Having studied helicopter dynamics, I can assure you that they fly by magic. They shouldn't, much like bumblebees, but they do. They are sustained by people's belief that they will fly.

Cynical-C Blog
The Cynical Blog collects one-star reviews from classics of their genres. I read them and often wonder whether we read the same book or watched the same movie. For the books, I'm tempted to say they got it through Babble Fish several times before reading. Or something.

Rain's Knit-Bits: Blocking acrylic
As we've seen recently, blocking can have an enormous effect on even materials that don't block as easily. In my copious spare time I plan to start an acrylic lace shawl, and I will block is thus.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Nearly ADD booties

ADD booties

I have technically finished the ADD booties, Ysolda's Grown Up booties. Did you know that garter stretches a lot? Yeah, about that.
They have kitten buttons courtesy of SpindleImp from the One Stitch at a Time swap, but not even kittens can save the slippers. Don't worry, nothing is going to happen to them! I'm simply going to snip the yarn, unravel a couple of rows and then graft them together. But I just don't have the heart to cut at it so soon after sewing up the second bootie.

But don't they look cute?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I is for ... I don't know!

Is it cheating? Probably. Am I going to be defeated by a letter? Hell no!

I don't know
Hear the "I don't know" GIR clip

I really didn't know what to do for I. The only things that came to mind were i-cord and internet, and i-cord was boring and, short of taking pictures of some pipes, I didn't know how to take a picture of the Internet.

I don't like "I don't know". I like knowing things. I hear disturbingly often "How do you even know things things?", mainly from my co-workers. Because knowing is fun! (also, normally the faces of people when I pull out a weird but eerily appropriate fact are quite fun too).
I like trivia. I'm not even that good at it: Alex can out-trivia me any day, but I do my best.

A small part of my day is always devoted to learning new things. Most of them come to me via forums on the internet: I will look up things people are talking about, and then get lost in some wiki-hopping. Suddenly it's 2 hours later, and my boss is probably starting to get annoyed :)

What is your random bit of knowledge for the day? I want to know more!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Physio 1

I had my first physio session today. I knew I had lost lost of strength and elasticity, but I hadn't realised quite so much. The physio pushed and pulled at both feet, and it was actually quite amazing how much more strength my right foot has.
For now, I have some exercises to do at home until I see him again next week. As well as strength and elasticity, I also need to build up some confidence. So our current goal for the next couple of weeks is to get me off the crutch - he said he'd wrestle it out of my arms if necessary, to which I answer that I had done fencing and the crutch was similar enough to a sword!

Everybody has been telling me that their physio hurt more than their injuries (gee, thanks). Today hasn't hurt very much, although my leg is a bit sore after the exercises. At least my fracture hurt quite a lot, so I'm confident physio won't be as bad. I've been working on my ADD booties to celebrate my feet.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Blocking Bottom's Up

Having had this past week off, I finished knitting Bottom's Up. After I had followed the instructions, I found it way too small for my chest, so frogged a bit of the shoulders and knitted them longer. I could have just continued knitting them, but chose to frog in order to add some more of the pattern, and to thin the shoulder straps. Weaved in all the ends during the week.

I washed it yesterday, after Alex and I came back from our mini-holiday in Exeter. We both really enjoyed Exeter. We ate our lunch (home-made roast-pork sandwiches, mmmm), ambled through the city and found a remote awesome pub (The Double Locks) that was also hosting a Beer Festival. While Exeter is a bit too small for me, I would certainly recommend it for a small break, and I'm planning to go back for the underground passages.

I washed Bottom's Up with my new Soak. The water came out brown from having dragged all the yarn through the floor, and now my top is clean and stretching. I'm looking forward to wearing it, and I really hope it stretches properly during blocking, as I'm not a big fan of showing my tummy to people.

Blocking Bottom's up

Friday, 1 May 2009

A better pandemic

If, like me, you are already quite tired of the current "EVERYBODY PANIC" state with respect to the swine flu, and you have a somewhat twisted sense of humour, you will enjoy the Pandemic Game.

However, if you are worrying, please don't. The fearmongering gets to me too when I'm tired, as it goes through the brain filter straight into my anxiety problem. But there is really nothing to worry about. The term "pandemic" reflects the ease of infection, and it has nothing to do with the mortality. This, while a pandemic, is a very mild one. Thousands of people die every year from the normal flu if they develop other complications. Because this is a current issue, it's being treated, so very few people will have severe problems with this particular flu.

On a related note, my grandmother's parents died on one of the aftershocks of the 1918 Spanish flu, when she was a young child. She never knew what exactly they died from, but at least I've been able to put it together. I like knowing this because it's one of the very few facts I know about my family (they are not the talkative type).

And hey, if bad comes to worse, the ability to make clothes out of string and sticks will be a very valuable skill in the post-apocalyptic world!