Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Maker Wrap-up

This year, I kept a spreadsheet of my projects and craft purchases.  I purchased ~250 yards and used ~150 yards of fabric in 117 projects.  The fabric usage is a bit low because I did so much refashioning and and worked with used clothing and odds and ends from my 'zero-waste' bin.  Scraps yielded  linings, facings, pocket bags and bias bindings.  I also produced many a quilt top and toddler clothes for LA County foster children from them.

In numbers:
  • 33 items for me (nearly all of my new clothes for the year)
  • 17 for Iris (about half her new clothes this year)
  • 67 for others ranging from quick baby pants to twin-sized patchwork quilts
  • 10 knit projects
  • 107 sewn projects

My favorite project has got to be the whale fluke quilt I made for an anonymous LA county foster child.  Someday, I would like to make one for myself.

In other news, Iris and I took singing lessons together.  We had fun.  They helped.  She scored a principal role in her school musical and I no longer feel embarrassed singing in public.

We traveled all over the western US, skiing, bicycling, hiking and visiting friends.

I'm busier than ever.  On top of my CSA coordinator role, I am also serving as a nutrition docent, 3x a week math tutor and making the sets for the play (with Pennamite) for Iris' school.  The schools are so hard up for money that parent volunteers are filling in so many roles.  

Bad dad and I are taking several MOOC (massive open online courses) and enjoying them immensely.  For some reason, he also expects me to do all of the housework and child schlepping.  I'm exercising and cooking from scratch more.

I hung out a shingle as a one-woman consulting company and STEM tutor.  I had a third interview and hope to sign the first consulting client soon.  Meanwhile, I discovered that, while there is very little work for earth scientists, there are many opportunities for someone with my data wrangling skills.  Headhunters do call, but only for full-time positions in other cities.

Aside from the money thing, life is full and good.  Our money situation is not dire so I am not complaining.  I just want to stress that family work is work, even though it doesn't pay as well as market work.  LOL.

The same goes for community volunteer work. I already made my sentiments about NCLB and high-stakes testing known.  I'm trying to make life better for the children in my community that fell victim to them.   Like family work, the pay is lousy.   But it is work and it is important.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cool Roof

Last week, we replaced our 23 year old conventional roof with a cool roof.  The roofers also removed the skylight and installed new flashing and sealer all around each skylight to minimize air infiltration.

I forgot to take a picture of the old roof.  The new one is lighter in color and contains blue and white grains that reflect sunlight.

We picked up considerable solar gain from the old charcoal gray asphalt shingles.  We were worried a cool roof would increase our heating costs during the winter.  The installers laid down a thicker underlayment than the stuff they took out.  Hopefully, that will give us more insulation value in the winter.

Unfortunately, financial incentives for cool roofs vary with the % reduction of energy consumption.  Because we never had air conditioning, we won't show any reduction in energy use.  We'll get the lowest rebate possible.  It's so unfair that we are punished for past responsible behavior.  We hope to feel more comfortable in our home, however.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vogue 8859 Take 2

When Iris came home from school, I asked her what she thought of the teal pair.  She looked me up and down and replied, "Unfortunately, they are cute".  Based on that assessment, I decided to see how Vogue 8859 would fit using a stretchier fabric. I made a pair out of purple-blue ponte the very next day. The fit speaks for itself.
Bad Dad works a 9/80 schedule and we spend a childless and workless Friday together every other week. We took a walk along the beach.  He says that the pants are incredibly flattering.  Add that to Iris' comment and the pants get 3 thumbs up in our family.

Last Friday was a 3-tanker day.  I used to think that was some sort of backlog or scheduling error on the part of the Chevron.  When I took a tour of the Chevron refinery in El Segundo with the MIT club of southern California, the tour guide explained that just means a supertanker made a delivery.  Supertankers (the largest class of oil tanker) are too large to maneuver inside the Catalina strait.  Smaller tankers, like the ones you see behind us, meet the supertanker west of Catalina island and transfer the oil to the off-shore oil terminal.

El Segundo has two oil terminals so they can load (or unload) 2 tankers at a time.  El Segundo means the second.  El Primero is Chevron refinery #1 in Richmond, California (north of Oakland, east of San Francisco).  The two refineries, spaced 400 miles apart, act as one.  That is, rather than switch configurations of the refineries to make different products, they may do one step of oil refining at one plant and then do the remaining steps at another.  The oil and intermediate products move between them via tankers.

The MIT club tour lasts 2 hours and the attendees asked very technical questions.  The general public tour lasts 1 hour and doesn't get very technical.  If you have a chance to take the MIT one, sign up early as space fills quickly.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vogue 8859 Marcy Tilton Pants

I'm ready for something upbeat, like a pair of teal jeggings. Are you with me?

Shams' two pairs of pants inspired me to give Vogue 8859 a try.  Hers fit more loosely about the thighs, but mine have the semi-jegging look of the pattern envelope.  I think it is useful to assess a pattern by looking at it on different women.  We are both 5'5" tall with 38" hips, but shaped very differently.  See this photo of the two of us side by side.  I made a size 14 overall, but let out the side seams slightly;  she made a size 14/16.  Our pants are roughly the same size.

Notice that the side seam is moved toward the front--a flattering look for most women.

The pockets will be useful for change or a credit card.  Next time, I would place them closer to the side seams.
The knee pleats allow me to sit comfortably or ride a bike.  Yet, they don't scream "technical outdoor sportswear".  Several comments on Shams' blog asked about the crotch curve.  Even though we are shaped very differently, both of us obtained a good fit right out of the envelope.  That's a pattern engineering marvel.
I used a variant of option two in the instructions.  I sewed the pleats together from the inside for 2" from each side edge, but I did not edgestitch the pleats on the inside.  The pleats ended up semi-structured.  Shams shows option 1 and the full option 2 pleats on her blog.
I used a teal stretch twill from SAS Fabrics. The pattern calls for a knit or a stretch woven with two-way stretch. I fell in love with the color (and < $3 price) of this piece, and plowed ahead with the project even though I had a sneaking suspicion that this fabric wasn't stretchy enough. It doesn't stretch along the lengthwise grain and has the slightest width-wise stretch.

Honestly, I thought this was going to be a wadder because it felt so tight when I pulled it on.  But, it loosened up after a few minutes and fits perfectly now.  I only wish that I had used a shorter piece of elastic at the waist.  The pattern suggests that you cut a piece of elastic that fits comfortably and then zig-zag it around the waistband twice.  When you stitch through most elastics, they loosen up.  Now I'm glad it is tight enough to stay up without the elastic. :-)

Look at the lovely yarn from my current knitting project.  It includes yarn from my three favorite yarn shops, Slipt Stitch in El Segundo, Twist Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach, and Artfibers in San Francisco.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our children

I wrote something after Trayvon Martin's murder and then deleted it before posting.  I have nothing more  to say about Newtown that hasn't been eloquently said elsewhere.  I share the universal sorrow.

I recently read Richard Florida's The Geography of Gun Violence and that reminded me of the LA Times Homicide Report.  Each and everyone of the victims is someone's child.  I took a screen shot of the Homicide Map today.  Go to the map and zoom in.  The larger red dots will dissolve into smaller ones marking the location of every homicide.  Click on the small dots to learn more.

Gunshot is the predominant cause of death, cited in 3263 of the 4298 homicides in LA county since January 1, 2007 (just under 5 years).  Take a look at the senseless violence here.  Sometimes, the entries become a virtual wake for the victims, where people post their memories of the fallen.

Black, latino, white or Asian, they are all our children.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The bike as accessory

Sigrid had fun with the incongruity between the bicycles and the clothes featured with them.  That made me smile, too.

But I do really like this shirtdress that comes with separate bodice pieces for different cup sizes. I wouldn't attempt to ride a century (metric or English) in a dress, but I can certainly ride a bike for quick errands in a dress like this.

If McCall's actually made a separate pattern piece for A cups and the McCall's patterns didn't fit so inconsistently, I would be tempted.

The tech drawing shows pockets on both skirt options and a separate collar and band--exactly what I want in a classic shirt dress.  I also like the sleeve options and the bias slip.  It would be great for a cotton lawn with a silk habutai slip.

I've been burned too many times by McCall's inconsistent sizing to try this. I will watch the pattern reviews. I'm looking for a really good shirtdress pattern.  If you found one, tell me about it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Furnace Wars 2012

Do you play furnace wars? That is, do you delight in smugly NOT using your furnace when weaklings others succumb to cold weather and turn on their heaters?  We fired up our furnace for the first time on Dec 9, when our house temperature dipped below 67F (about 19.6C) during the daytime.

Behold, our secret weapon in the furnace wars.  (This photo will look familiar to those who read Blog Action Day: Walking My Watershed.  I hope you read it; it's one of the most popular posts on this blog.)

Our bathroom sink and one of the twin sinks in our kitchen hold about 10 liters of water. Suppose we fill it with the tap water at 50C (122F).  That's 10 kg of water with a heat capacity of 4.2 kJ/(kg-K).  One liter of water will release 4.2 kiloJoules of energy for every degree C it cools.  Suppose the water cools to a comfortable 25C (77F), then it releases
10 liters * 25 degrees * 4.2 kJ/(kg-K) = 1050 kJoules.

Our kitchen is roughly 12x12 feet with 8 feet ceilings.  Convert that into meters and we get an air volume of 32621 liters.  The molecular mass of air is about 0.029 kg/mole. (Air is a mixture of gases so this is the weighted mass of it's constituent gases.)

One mole of gas at standard temperature and pressure (STP), a comfortable temperature for humans at sea level pressure,  fills up 22.14 liters.  So the air in our kitchen weighs
32621 liters * 0.029 kg/mole / 22.14 liters/mole = 42.7 kg.

The heat capacity of air at STP is 1.00 kj/(kg-K), so the 1050 kiloJoules of energy released by the cooling sink water can heat the air in the kitchen
1050 kJ / (42.7 kg * 1.00 kJ/(kg-K)) = 24.6 C

If the air in the kitchen started at 20 C, and is warmed another 24.6 C, then it would be a toasty 112 F.

The kitchen does not get that warm because some of that heat is transferred to the porcelain sink, heat capacity 1.07 kJ/(kg-K), furnishings, etc.  But, you get the general idea.  You used an awful lot of energy to heat that hot water, so you might as well get as much of that energy back before you send it down the drain.

Fancy new houses might have an expensive heat exchanger system*, using waste heat from the water leaving the house to heat up the water coming into the house.  But, we have an older and simpler house;  we use the same cheap and effective technology our grandparents used, our brains.

Now calculate the equilibrium temperature when 10 kg of water at 50 C meets 42 kg of air at 20 C.  Assume that it is a closed system (no heat loss to the sink or furnishings).  Leave your answer in the comments.

* Actually, heat exchanger systems are not that high tech or new.  They just run tubes of hot and cold water around each other.  I first read about that in the 1970s.  But, they did not gain traction in mass-market housing.  They were recently resurrected in expensive and huge LEED homes.

Alison makes a good point in her comment.  You do get much bang for your energy buck if you let the bathwater cool before you send it down the drain.  When we used to take baths, that's what we did in the winter time.  We take showers now--with a very low flow shower head.  If you don't mind rinsing the soap off your feet in the faucet before you exit the tub, you can recoup a great deal of heat from your shower water, too.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Physics, abridged

Bad Dad and I are taking Coursera's Introduction to Astronomy class. There is something comic about going through all of physics in one week of review. This week's docket covers classical mechanics in a bit over an hour.  Then we spend an hour covering electromagnetism and then finish up with quantum mechanics in half an hour.  It's a good thing I served as a teaching assistant for quantum mechanics for three semesters, or else I might be lost.
Next week, we get to do astronomy, the stuff that's new to me.  I hope I can keep up.
This reminds me of the Reduced Shakespeare's complete works of William Shakespeare.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Ship Tracks 2

Little Hunting Creek asked, "What can we to change marine diesel use?" in a comment on Ship Tracks and our changing weather.

What an excellent question. Spoken like a true UC Berkeley alumna! ;-)

We enjoyed lovely and brisk post-storm weather today, except for the haze near the harbors, which is visible in today's NASA Aqua afternoon imagery.

South-facing coasts are generally clearer than west-facing beaches because of the extra sunshine they receive. However, the south-facing harbor area is decidedly hazier than Malibu to the north, which does not get heavy ship traffic.

In 2008, California passed a law regulating the amount of sulfur allowed in fuel for ocean going vehicles (OGV) within 24 nautical miles of the California coast, from Oregon to Mexico.  Environmental News Service wrote a summary at the time.
The new measure requires ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of California's coastline to use lower-sulfur marine distillates in their main and auxiliary engines and auxiliary boilers, rather than the dirtier heavy-fuel oil called bunker fuel.

Both U.S.-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels are subject to the regulation, which the board says is the most stringent and comprehensive requirement for marine fuel-use in the world.

The regulation will be implemented in two steps, each requiring lower sulfur content in the fuel - first in 2009 and final in 2012.

In 2009, eliminating about 75 percent of the sooty diesel particulates, as well as 80 percent of the sulfur oxides and six percent of the nitrogen oxides is the target.

In 2012, when the very low sulfur fuel requirement takes effect, reductions of diesel particulate matter will be 15 tons daily, the board said.
As a result of the new regulation, the board estimates that sulfur oxides will be reduced by 140 tons daily, a 95 percent reduction, and nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 11 tons per day, a six percent reduction.
The first phase was not contested. The California 2009 standards are on par with those in other special SOx Emission Control Areas (SECA) such as the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.  I found some excellent background information in Brian Shrader's U.S. Regulation of Large Marine Diesel Engines under MARPOL Annex VI in the Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal.

The second (2012) phase, that further restricts allowable levels of sulfur, is tied up in litigation.  I read about the litigation in the LA Times, but I cannot find the article on line right now.  If you find it, can you post the link in the comments?  I dimly recall that the shipping interests challenge California's standing to regulate ship fuel use off it's own coast.

Both the US Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the international body, MARPOL (see below), regulates ship fuel and pollution.

Assistant (Florida) State Attorney Shrader wrote:
Balancing valuable maritime shipping interests with environmental concerns is one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers charged with regulating air pollution from large marine diesel engines in the U.S. and around the world. A fragmented, country-by-country approach raises the specter of inconsistent regulatory regimes – a highly ineffective and burdensome state of affairs.

Achieving uniform regulation of shipping is difficult because of the global movement of people and goods through many sovereign jurisdictions. U.S. participation in the effort to globalize an international standard for air pollution from ships through Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) can serve commercial and environmental interests by increasing worldwide compliance and easing the burden on regulated entities.
What are the chances that the current US Congress will join an international body to legislate minimum standards given that 38 US senators voted against joining the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities on the grounds that it will undermine US sovereignty and destroy American families?  Or that presidential candidates for a major party ran on a platform that included abolishing the EPA?

If the California regulations had gone into effect on schedule, the CA Air Resources Board's epidemiological study estimates that:
Between 2009 and 2015, an estimated 3,600 premature deaths will be avoided, said the board, and the cancer risk associated with the emissions from these vessels will be reduced by over 80 percent.
A friend who had worked in pediatric oncology at UCLA medical school told me that epidemiologists call the area around the (Long Beach and Los Angeles) harbors and the roads used by the diesel trucks visiting the harbor "the cancer zone".

Who cares?  Most of the kids who live there are poor, often undocumented and lack access to health care anyway.  Let them eat cake so we can keep shipping those cheap goods cheaply.

Or we can hold the feet of our elected officials to the fire.

Do you have any other ideas on how we can get action on this?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cable-wise, but in Merino, not Cashmere

I mentioned in Cable-wise, but not cashmere how I wanted to knit this pattern again, but in a nicer wool.  I had purchased a bag of Merinos Otto Shadow in Rose for another project, but found that the intricate cables of that pattern did not show up amid the yarn variegation.  I ripped that back and tried this pattern.

Now the yarn and the simple cables don't fight with each other for attention.
The cuff detail is lovely.

But, there is too much bulk in the upper sleeve and too much height in the sleeve cap.

In the cold, harsh light of day, I showed the color contrast between two balls of yarn from the same dye lot.  I ripped back one sleeve and reknit it, switching yarns every round or every other row (when knitting back and forth).  I can also see the striping effect where I switch between two balls, one light, and one dark.

I can live with the color shifts. If you look back at the top two photos of the front and back, you can see the subtle color shifts where I joined new yarn. Every ball is slightly different. But, I'm not happy with the sleeves. I may have to unseam them and reknit both sleeves. .Again.

Yes, Merinos Otto is a very soft yarn.  But I am done with superwash wool (except for socks).  Please remind me before I succumb again.

Ravelled here.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Reading Serendipity

The CRC handbook is now available online so they can update the latest and greatest fundamental constants with ease.  I came across my 1980s-era hardcopy on the bookshelf last week, took it down and leafed through it.  There's so much good stuff in there.  I like to open it up to random pages and try to figure out what it's about.  Often, I'm clueless.

But, I recently came across the heat capacity of water, which reminded me to look up the the heat capacity of air, and I feel a series about kitchen thermodynamics straining to get out.

Hardcopies of older editions of CRC handbooks are easy to find and cheap.  Every household should have one on the reference shelf next to a really big dictionary.  Sure, you could look up specific words and properties on the internet, but you can't browse serendipitously and learn things you don't really need "right now" the way you can with a book.

It's a rainy day.  Curl up with a really big book.

I hot-linked this comic from xkcd.  BTW, if the geeks in your life already have hardcopies of the CRC handbook, how about buying them a gift from the xkcd store?