Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm going to get a custom pants pattern!

Just got an email back from the 3D body scan study saying that I've been selected to be a fit model for this pants project. Not much else to report until I go in for my fitting next week, but I wanted to share my excitement. Behold, the coolness of the virtual try-on machine:

I get to keep the pattern for the pants sloper, so now I just need to make a bodice sloper and I'm golden!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Here's something that you may not know about Canadians: Most of us have never been snowshoeing. That's right, even with all that snow that we have up there, I've never strapped myself into some old tennis rackets and gone romping around in it. Frankly, I'm not really one for winter sports at all (skiing terrifies me), but when my SO started snowshoeing this winter I had to go at least once to see if this is a winter activity I can get behind.

The local bike store where we get our stuff is also a hub for lots of local sporting activities, including a weekly snowshoe outing. Glenn at Swan Cycles has a whole bunch of spare snowshoes which he nicely loans out to people who want to come hiking around with him in the forest near his house. Here's me, trying to strap myself in. Glenn did up the first shoe for me. His stayed laced up the whole trip, whereas mine started flopping apart about halfway through.

The walk we took was really pretty, though some fields and then eventually down into a (mostly) frozen riverbed, and we walked right along the river for a little bit. We crashed through the ice a couple of times, so I had some rather wet ankles by the time we climbed out of the riverbed and made it back up to the field.

That's me being a pest and interrupting my SO's lovely photography. He really likes taking pictures like this ("a single silo, in a desolate snow covered landscape..."), but I think the picture looks a lot better with me in it. My SO has posted some more pics, along with a fancy interactive map thing with geotagged photos. Nerdly, I know :)

All in all, I'm glad that I went, but I think I'll be sticking to monday night yoga instead. Not only do I have a big bruise on my thigh from tripping after getting getting a stick stuck in my shoe, but I have massive blisters from the aggressively paced tromping. These guys treat this as exercise, not just a nice afternoon walk through the fields. Unfortunately, the Biketopus is not built to hike fast even in normal shoes, let alone with big floppy things attached to her feet. I definitely would go again in a slightly more relaxed setting, though, because it was cool to be able to hike through the snowy scenery without being stuck in snowdrifts.

PS -- I hit 900 miles today of indoor biking! Only 100 miles to go until spring!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cloudy fish

Poor fish, nothing seems to be going right for them these days. I seem to have nixed the algae problem... I still have some hair algae and stuff growing in there, but the antibiotics really did clear up the nasty BGA. Now I have new weirdness in the tank, though:
Cloudy water. WTF? I honesty don't know what's causing this problem. A little interweb research suggests that the main causes of this problem could be diatom blooms, overfeeding, or bacterial blooms (usually from cycling a new tank). I'm definitely not overfeeding (fishies have been down to a once a day feeding schedule since the BGA problem happened), and diatoms seem unlikely given the color of the cloudiness. I'm thinking this must be bacterial then, perhaps a side effect of the antibiotics or something. Maybe my bacterial colonies are reestablishing themselves post-nuking.

The fish are looking fine and don't generally seem to care, but just to make sure I tested all the levels today when I did a water change.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.8

Looks pretty good. The lack of nitrates may eventually be detrimental to my plants, but for now they seem to be doing fine. The water sprite is even showing some new growth, which is very encouraging. I did a 20% water change and a bit of algae removal, but nothing else. I guess I'll sit tight with the cloudiness for a few days and hope it resolves itself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello and goodbye

I think that it's about time that I introduce my new sewing machine, the Pfaff Expression 2.0! Yay! I brought it home about a week ago, and already it's looking right at home in my kitchen. Behold:
My parents bought this for me as a graduation gift. Yesyes, I know I haven't graduated yet, but a trade in came into the sewing store, and I couldn't resist asking for my present a little bit early so that I could snag this great machine. It's just less than a year old and looks totally new. It has so many features and things that I hardly know where to start, and probably couldn't do justice to them all right now anyway since I haven't spent enough time sewing on it yet. I finished off the remains of a few projects as soon as I got it, and now I'm working on a silk blouse. This will be the first project done entirely on my new machine, and I thought it would be a good test to see how the machine does with a fabric that is difficult to work with. I'm almost done with it, so I'll probably post it sometime this week. Yay!

With the possibility of me getting a job in mind, I decided to sell off the old machine right away, so I wouldn't be tempted to think up a use for a "backup" machine and end up dragging it with me all over the continent. I posted it on craigslist and it sold tout de suite, for $50. I'm a little teeny bit sad to see it go, but honestly not very much. I'm kind of surprised about that, really. Whenever I get a new computer, I always find myself lingering over the old one for a month or so, because the old one is set up just the way I like it and I hardly have to think about using it, and the new one is, well, new. Somehow that doesn't seem to be the case with the Pfaff... maybe I spent so much time visiting it in the store before buying that it's like I'd had it for months! Still, respect is due to the little Kenmore that I essentially learned to sew with. Bye, buddy.
So, what to do with the proceeds from the sewing machine? I'm not sure yet, so I put it in a jar to be saved for something good.
I think that I'll keep all of the proceeds from selling stuff off in this jar, which will hopefully encourage me to get rid of a lot of stuff before we relocate. I still have a few semi-valuable things that I'll try to sell on craigslist, and I'm making a biiiiig garage sale pile. I'm going to try to get my SO to hide stuff from me when I put it in the pile so that I don't start having second thoughts and rescue it later on!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Biking plans

My SO and I went to the Finger Lakes Cycling Club planning meeting/dinner this weekend, where people show pictures of bike tours that they've taken and plan for upcoming trips. I think that we are definitely going to sign up for this trip to the Adirondacks over Memorial Day weekend. It's a short trip which I think I'll be able to squeeze in even if the dissertation writing is making me crazy, and it's also a nice trip to do with the club since it's probably not a trip that we would be too likely to do on our own without a car. Years ago when I had a car, the SO and I went to the Adirondacks to do some hiking, and it was beautiful. We did one hike in particular that ended up at a peak where there was a old fire observation tower. I also remember being totally exhausted by the time that we actually made it to the top of the trail, about 1500 feet up. Behold, the very tired biketopus:

The biking routes also promise to be rather hilly -- one of the shortest routes (16 miles) has 1500 feet of climbing, and more in longer ones. Climbing is not exactly my idea of a good time, but at least I'm more practiced on hills after biking around Ithaca for a few years.

I got a little bit of biking in yesterday, and have now made it to 875 on the bike odometer. I'm probably a little bit behind in my 1000 mile goal, mostly because I've been back on campus more frequently now that the term has started. The ride to 1000 is now competing with my twice weekly yoga classes, and lately the bike seems to be losing! I'll be at home tomorrow, though, so maybe I'll try to get another ride in then.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sewing sunday

Technically I guess I did most of this last night and not on sunday, but hey. I finally got around to finishing this dress which fit so badly the first time that I tried it on. Fortunately after taking in the side seams, the fit was much much better. I think the waist ended up being just about perfect!

This is a picture of my first try on in the mirror (with my lovely knee socks, it's cold here today). The neckline is a little gap-y, so I put an additional snap on the front to tame that a bit. I also raised the armhole while I was taking in the sides, because it was pretty low on the original pattern. I think I raised it by an inch and a half, and you can still see my bra if I raise my arm all the way. I think I'll just leave it as is, though, and wear my teal bra with the dress so it won't be noticeable.

Here's a second try on pic to see if the neckline looks better with the snap, and I couldn't resist putting on the boots and the belt to see how the whole ensemble will look. It's sadly way too cold to wear this right now, but when we get a day that's less hideous I'll get my SO to take some proper pics of me to post on BurdaStyle.

In other very exciting news, I got a new sewing machine! I'll write more about the sewing machine later, but one of the coolest things about this new machine is the extremely pretty buttonholes that it makes. For this dress, I did slightly rounded buttonholes. They came out quite well for my first time using it, but when I was cutting open the buttonholes I clipped a good number of them and now they look all raggedy :-/ It's not really noticeable once the dress is buttoned up, but I'm sad about it nonetheless. I'll remember to be much more careful when I do the buttonholes on my vest.

Friday, February 5, 2010

3D body scan

You never know what kinds of cool research projects are going on just rooms away from you in your own campus. Even after years (we will refrain from saying how many years) here, I'm still surprised at some of the stuff that goes on here that I had no idea even existed. For example, did you know that there is a giant, 3D body scanner only a few buildings over from mine? I didn't know this until today, but man, it's pretty cool.

My SO was thoughtful enough to grab a poster for me from the gym a week or two ago that was advertising a research study on custom fitted pants. The researcher was looking for people with "curvy butts" to get a 3D body scan, followed by a pants fitting. Not only does this pay money, but if you make it through to the end of the study you can request a copy of the pattern that was used to make the custom fitted pants for you. Score! So, I got up relatively early this morning (for me at least), and went off in search of the scanner in MVR Hall.

I wasn't entirely sure what this thing was going to look like, but it actually looks *exactly* like being inside of a giant photocopier with four scanners in each corner of the scanning box instead of one. You strip down to your undies and the thing runs a beam over you from head to toe, and you end up with a remarkably accurate computerized image of your body (maybe a little too accurate even -- I could totally see that one side of my bra fits better than the other, and I had to stop myself from going on about bra fit problems, despite the fact that her research is on butts).

Now I have to wait a week or two to see if I've been selected for the next stage of research were I get to try on the custom patterns. I told her if she ran out of money she could contact me for free, as long as I got the pattern in the end. Yes, dear reader, I know this is a pretty sure way to guarantee that she won't pay me any more, but getting a pattern made especially for me is worth more than ten bucks!