Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Successful Experiment

I've been wanting to try some different necklines on my t-shirt refashions, so I made this one with a square neck.  It took several re-adjustments (because I was working without a template, just measuring myself and making it up as I went along) but I was pleased with the final result.  (I wore it yesterday with a black skirt rather than the denim skirt shown here.) I am still using up "scraps" so I didn't have a lot of big pieces to work with, but fortunately I had the bottom half of a big white t-shirt my mom got from the library that I could use as the main body of the shirt.  I supplemented it with basically the entirety of another too-small shirt I had incorporated into the giant baby shirt - it's serendipitous that the orangey-pink portion makes up a bit over half the front.

The cheap white t-shirt is kind of sheer, but I think it's OK for the back of the shirt.  No wearing a purple-and-pink zebra print bra without people knowing it, though.

I think I will make this style again (given enough fabric), and it should be pretty easy now that I have a working model to use.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


After several days, dozens of web pages, about a dozen phone calls, and multiple online forms, I am now registered for my marketing PhD seminar for the fall!  It was amazingly complicated, but I feel great to be an officially registered PhD student.  Even better, the seminar is in attitudes and persuasion, a topic that I am very interested in, of course, and which provides a nice point of entry into the program for me (compared to, say, an econ-heavy modeling course).

The funniest of the many convoluted aspects of this process was that to register, you have to give your health insurance information.  (If you do not have other insurance, you will automatically be signed up for the university insurance.)  My health insurance is about 95% subsidized through the grad assistant plan at the university (this is different from that default, much more expensive insurance that is available to all students), and I will be filling out all the forms for that in August at the department orientation.  The insurance plan is only available to graduate assistants registered for a full-time load.  You can see the dilemma: I need to register, so I can qualify for the health insurance, so I can register.  And the registration page warns us that misrepresenting ourselves on this question can result in disciplinary action according to the university rules of conduct.  But the guy at the registrar's office said it was fine to give the grad assistant plan details now so I did.  (I only had the details because I thought to look up a url given in my notification of acceptance/funding from the department.)

One thing that I was happy about -- I could fill out the immunization information online and did not need to provide hard copies from a doctor's office confirming the information, nor did I need to get a physical exam.  So it was a simple matter of typing in the information from the physical exam form my doctor completed for My Masters University (which I was pleased to find almost immediately in my file cabinet in a file labeled Health Info so I didn't have to call my mom and ask for my ancient vaccine records like I did last time). 

Of course, I do not plan to take only one class in the fall.  Oddly enough, we don't have any specific courses other than the 5 marketing seminars that we have to take, nor are we required to get the department to sign off on the courses we select.  Course selection is very surprisingly laissez-faire.  In fact, the DGS (director of grad studies) told me that I should just start signing up for psychology classes that look relevant.  At first, this hands-off approach kind of bothered me, but I have come to see the advantages of this (e.g., ain't nobody gonna make me take neuroscience again). 

I asked about transferring credits from my masters program and that doesn't happen until the end of my second year, when my advisor looks at the courses I have taken so far and makes sure I've hit the requirements (the dept seminars plus a certain number of credits in methods/stats, a certain number in my minor [psychology], and an overall of 40+ credits).  But the PhD program contact person (who is awesome, btw) said that we could sit down with the DGS and look at what classes I plan to transfer.  I'm definitely doing that before school starts because if nothing else, I'd like some thoughts on the stats classes from my masters program.  It's devilishly hard to figure out what their equivalents are at U. of Snow, especially given that stats programs are offered in a bunch of different departments and not much detail is available on these classes on the university web pages (though this varies a lot from dept to dept).

So, I also want to take one methods/stats course and one social psychology course in the fall but I've run into some roadblocks (surprise!) in signing up for additional classes.  The psych course was easy to pick, but it's full and is technically only open to psych PhD students, so I have emailed the department to see if I can get an override number that will allow me to register.  (In a series of email exchanges with an incredibly helpful 4th year student in the program, I found out that it is usually not a problem to get permission to take courses in the psych department.)  If that one doesn't work out, there is another one with a couple open slots that would also be fine as a substitute.

Picking the stats/methods class was a lot harder.  Actually, there was one course in the stat department (on regression) that after many, many hours of slogging through all the options (and talking to the 4th year) kept rising to the top for me - unfortunately, this is a course that a LOT of people want to take so it's full and the department said they do not give overrides for this course when it fills.  So I've decided to defer taking that stat course until next semester and instead want to sign up for a psychology research methods course.  (In case it's not clear, in this context, you can basically think of "methods" as being about how you design your studies and "stats" as being about how you analyze your data.)  And because that class is also only open to psych PhD students, I've had to request permission for that one, too.  (Fortunately, it's not full...yet.) 

Registration for grad students started on May 6 or something, so obviously most students - returning students and first year students in programs with more rigorously defined course requirements - registered a long time ago.  I don't have any reason to believe that I'll be facing this problem of classes already being filled up in the future because I too will register right away rather than 6 weeks late.

I am really, really hoping that one of the benefits of the laissez-faire course selection process is that nobody is going to say boo about my taking 3 rather than 4 classes this semester.  The 4th year student says that people typically take 3-4, so I should be fine, esp. given that I will have courses to transfer too. 

The psych department apparently likes to schedule their social psych PhD classes at 9 in the morning, which surprises but kind of pleases me.  I'd rather avoid classes that run into my doldrums period (about 3-5 p.m.), though I think the marketing seminar is likely to end up happening during or close to that time frame.  The social psych seminars are also set up just like the seminars at My Masters University (weekly response papers, presentation of articles, discussion, term papers), only without exams.  Nice.  It'll be interesting to see whether I agree with the typical finding of My Masters grads that their PhD classes seem kind of easy compared to the ones at My Masters.  (In part, that may be because we're taking classes in our own area of psych, where we have more interest and knowledge, in the PhD program rather than all areas like in the masters.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crafty Inner Child Continues

I made a safety pin bracelet after watching the video on this blog post.  It was fun and easy, though I would change at least two things with the next one - alternate the direction of the pins (because putting them all the same direction causes the bracelet to fan out a bit) and use more pins.  I used a few more than mentioned in the video and it still wasn't quite enough to go all the way around.  (I also used only seed beads because that's what I have, but using bugle beads - i.e., longer ones - as well would be fun, too.)  But I enjoyed making it and think it's shown proof of concept at least.  (And it's relatively easy to make more pins and restring these pins.)

And notice that it's NOT PINK.

Speaking of pink, I laughed when I saw this photo of Sir David Tweedie, the Scot head of the International Accounting Standards Board, in The Economist.  That dude so did not buy that tie for himself.

Disapproving Rabbits Montage

I simply can't get over these photos from Disapproving Rabbits.  The expressions on the lionhead rabbit in the first photo and the tiger-striped cat in the second are amazing.  (Lionhead rabbits are kind of crazy looking in general, but that top photo is an absolute killer.  I would be totally "My god what the hell is that, that is no rabbit" if I were that cat.)

Plus, a bonus Dutch rabbit sporting very attractive color blocking.  The Dutch is all about the simple, clean lines.  And I absolutely love the way the white back foot looks up against the black body.

I'm glad that the blogger is continuing to document the diversity of gorgeous disapproving rabbits after the recent loss of her beloved Rex rabbit Cinnamon.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

T-Shirt Scarf

As part of my continuing quest to use up my fabric stash, I put together this scarf from knit fabric - it's about 5' long and 3" wide.  (The configuration shown leaves skin on the front exposed but I was arranging it to maximize your view of the scarf rather than to maximize warmth.)  It has a bit of a "Barbie goes to Hogwarts" feel about it to me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finishing Up Refashions

One of my goals for the move is to not bring my stash of old t-shirts and stuff with me to Snow City.  It's not like I'm going to have much time to spend sewing while in my PhD program so it's sort of pointless to bring it with me.  Yesterday morning, I completed two relatively easy projects.

I made the world's simplest short-sleeved jacket to wear over sleeveless shirts.  I loved the blue-red color of the shirt but it was too short to wear by itself.  I just cut the t-shirt down the center and hemmed the two exposed edges.  I like the color-blocking effect of wearing it over another single-color shirt (here, a blue shirt I just happened to already be wearing).  I think I am going to leave it very plain, but I might want to do something to hold the two sides together at the top (like a sweater-clip type thing) if it doesn't want to lie flat on its own.  (I realize the red shirt looks no shorter than the blue shirt so what the hell, right?  But what happens when a shirt is cut into a "jacket" is that it shifts forward a bit, so it is longer in the front and shorter in the back than when it was a t-shirt.)

I also turned a big boxy t-shirt I purchased on our trip to the Outer Banks into a Sally-sized t-shirt using my usual methods.  I surprised myself by how quickly I did it and by how everything went nearly-perfectly in its execution.  (It was not absolutely perfect, so God need not be offended.)  Even setting in the sleeves worked like a dream. 

The Looming Move

We're now about 10 days away from The Move, and things are getting a lot busier.  We got several big things done this past week.  I'm probably happiest about two furniture-related events. 

First, we gave away our futon (in recent years, Leo's futon) on Craigslist.  I didn't realize how many people closely watch those free listings - Robert got a ton of emails almost immediately and the first-responder guy showed up right away at the storage unit to take the thing away.  I'm glad we didn't try selling it.  I mean, a new one like ours you can buy at Wal-Mart for about $150, and ours is pretty scratched up after moving (I think we calculated) four times.  It was great to have somebody take it away so we didn't have to deal with it.  The difference between "FREE" and even "$25" is huge, and the monetary difference didn't seem worth screwing around with given that we would have to meet the buyer at the storage unit (and a buyer is more likely to flake out / change his mind).

Second, we sold our washer and dryer, also on Craiglist.  I'm going to miss our awesome front-loader, but the apartment in Snow City comes with a washer and dryer, which has two major benefits: we don't have to move or install our own machines and if the machines break, the apartment people will fix or replace them.  Robert did an analysis of our estimated costs per load using the washer and dryer (including the costs of the machines, the water, and the electricity).  We spent about 78 cents per load to wash and 72 cents per load to dry.  (And those costs have not been offset at all by the couple hundred bucks we got when we sold the machines - again, we sold at a price to sell right away, not to maximize our price.)  Given that it costs about $1.25 - $1.50 to wash a load of laundry at a laundromat, 78 cents is a good deal, and that does not even account for the tremendous added convenience and eliminated risk of laundry theft that comes with doing laundry in your own house.  And these costs are based on our keeping the machines for only 6 years, not for their entire life (which I really do hope last for several more years for the nice people who bought them and took them away).  So...yeah, investing in your own machines really is a money-saver long-term.  It's always interesting to see these basic economic truths work themselves out.

Getting the washer and dryer out of here means that we have an empty laundry area that we can start moving boxes into, which we desperately need.  We've got a good amount of stuff packed already (including all that wall art that took four people a day to pack in Austin), and packing is going into overdrive this week.  Some things I haven't packed not because I still need access to the stuff but because there wasn't any room for the boxes.

Things are also heating up for Robert on the job interview front.  He has two phone interviews today and is flying out for an interview in Snow City next week (for a job he's already done two phone interviews for, so *knock wood*). 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quick Shirt Refashion

2 things:

(1) I absolutely love this square-necked knit shirt I have, but it's too short and perhaps a bit tight across the chest.

(2) I have something of a dearth of short-sleeved shirts and an abundance of sleeveless shirts for the Snow City climate.

So I made the knit shirt into a "jacket" that can be worn over sleeveless shirts.

This was one of the easiest refashions I've done (lately).  I just cut the shirt down the center, added two contrasting stripes to broaden the width of the shirt and provide some overlap at the neck line, and voila!

Yay, more color blocking!

Wearing two layers like this in Texas or NC spring/summer might be too warm, but I think it will work very well in Snow City (where it is currently 3:30 p.m., partly cloudy skies, and 64 degrees).  I have an identical knit shirt that is olive green that I think I will give the same treatment (though with a different color of stripes - white perhaps).

(Why the hell does my left arm - on the right side of the photo - look creased?  Bizarre.)


It seems impossible to find an online article about topics like bicycle commuting, watching less television, or vegetarianism that do not inspire comments from people who claim that the authors (or other commenters or other people who perform the behavior) are taking a "holier-than-thou" attitude toward people who drive their cars, watch TV, or eat meat. And while it's certainly true that there are people who both (1) feel virtuous because they perform these behaviors that express moral values and (2) are happy to share their opinion that they are morally superior to others who do not perform these behaviors, I believe that a lot of the sanctimony is in the eyes of the reader.

I've noticed several themes in these articles that some readers claim to exhibit a holier-than-thou attitude:

* Discussions of the benefits (e.g., financial, psychological, physical - not moral) of the behavior

* Discussions about how the behavior is easier than the reader might think

* Stories of personal conversion to the behavior

Some of these articles are intended to be persuasive, but some are not (at least, not consciously). In particular, personal conversion stories are sometimes full of very positive evaluations of the behavior because the author is extremely excited and happy with this change in their life, and this enthusiasm can be read as proselytizing.

Of course these articles provoke counterarguing (including the consideration of costs that off-set the benefits) and other defensive strategies in people who do not perform the behaviors. But it's interesting to me that the primary form of source derogation (and what I personally view in a lot of cases as the last ditch effort of the individual who cannot generate counterarguments that even the individual herself believes are convincing) is that the author of the message is taking a morally superior tone. It's one thing to say that you reject the argument because the argument itself is not convincing or because the author is untrustworthy or lacks relevant expertise. It's quite another to say that you reject the argument because the author presents it in a morally superior way.

Why do people use somebody's "holier-than-thou attitude" as a basis for rejection? Maybe others buy into the idea that people who are not “nice” (e.g., make even an implicit suggestion that their own behavior is better than yours) should be shunned or publicly defamed (with an attendant devaluing of their opinions) more than I do. Maybe others are not as adept at constructing convenient rationalizations for the discrepancies between their values and their behavior as I am. Maybe others think that somebody rubbing them the wrong way really is a legit reason for ignoring what they have to say.

Whatever the case, I just want to say to these people who are quick to make accusations of sanctimony:

The fact that some people who perform this behavior believe they are morally superior to those who do not is not, in itself, a valid reason to reject the idea that people, including you, should perform the behavior.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Joys of Packing

Things are starting to come together on the moving front.  This week, we packed my books and the wall art.  We have a lot of wall art.  Robert commented that the rooms look a lot smaller in their current, bare state.  I agree, but moreover, it really makes me feel like our residence in this place is temporary.  Well, that and the fact that we have boxes (full and empty) and packing supplies all over the apartment.

This weekend, we attacked Robert's stamp collection.  He has basically three - a world stamp collection he inherited from his grandfather, a US stamp collection he inherited from his grandfather (which was actually started by his great-great grandfather and which Robert has added to over the years, up to 1989), and a first-day cover collection of his own.  Oh, and the US collection is actually two collections - one of individual stamps and one of plate blocks.  We've now cannibalized the plate block collection into our own US collections and have a bunch of leftover postage; more than enough to last us the rest of our lives, I think.  Robert is planning to (try to) sell much of his first-day cover collection on eBay in the next few weeks.

I am finishing up Day 11 of my new lower wheat diet.  Over the trip to Snow City, I was feeling pretty bad, and Robert observed that I had been eating a lot of wheat, which is easy to do when you're living on hotel breakfasts (raisin bagels, people), restaurant meals, and peanut butter sandwiches eaten at rest stops.  I know that my system doesn't like wheat, but over the years I've let the fact that taking enzymes allows me to eat (some) wheat lead me to eat it freely (or in rat study terms, ad libitum).  This has been a mistake.

So I decided that I would get serious about reducing my wheat intake again.  I am not intending to avoid wheat completely (which is, after all, quite difficult) but I have cut way back.  For example, my wheat consumption today consisted of whatever is in 1/2 of a Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patty (made from texturized vegetable protein), the small amount of wheat flour used to thicken the white sauce in my chicken/broccoli/rice casserole...and that's it.  This is very vague and impressionistic, but my intention is to keep my wheat consumption at or below the equivalent of 1 slice of wheat bread. 

I guess the increased attention to wheat gluten intolerance in the past 15 years or so has led to a lot more wheat-free substitutes being available at normal grocery stores.  Whereas I had to shop at health food stores in those days for wheat-free crackers and the like, I was able to choose from 3 or 4 different rice crackers and a couple different rye crackers at Wal-Mart this week.  (I haven't actually tried any of them to know if they're good.)  They also had wheat-free pasta but instead of spelt or rice, it was made from corn.  Hmm.  I am skipping this for the time being. 

One side benefit of a low wheat diet is that it immediately puts all kinds of easily available, delicious, yet junky prepared foods off the list - cookies, cakes, muffins, bread/rolls, the aforementioned raisin bagels, crackers, etc.  For example, when we had dinner at Cracker Barrel on the way home from Snow City, I looked at the dessert menu and the only low-wheat option was an ice cream sundae, and I don't like ice cream sundaes, so it made my decision extremely easy.  It's simple enough to use another flour (I like oat) in making quick breads and such at home, and I believe even Wal-Mart sells a gluten-free brownie mix, but nixing wheaty treats does make it easier to resist unplanned dessert consumption.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

T-shirt Drama

Refashioning a too-big t-shirt is easy; things get a lot tougher when you have shirts that are too small.  I recently cleared out my closet of all the too-short t-shirts that I no longer much like wearing and wanted to do something with them.  I decided that I would try making another color-blocked t-shirt from the various pink/magenta t-shirts, striped this time.

(1) Because the t-shirts were already too short, I needed to make the stripes longer than the shirts.  I cut out and sewed together two strips of each t-shirt to make long strips.

(2) I sewed the long strips together to make 2 pieces of striped fabric.  In doing this, I chose to line up the seams on the different stripes in a specific pattern.

(3) I used another t-shirt as a guide to cut out front and back pieces from the striped fabric and then sewed them together.

(4) I added sleeves made from another white shirt.

(5) I hemmed the neckline.

(6) In the process of preparing to sew the bottom hem, I cut a gouge in the bottom of the shirt.  Damn.

The gouge was toward the bottom of the shirt, but just high enough that I couldn't cut the gouge off and shorten the shirt without making the shirt as unwearably short as the t-shirts from which I made it.  I spent like 2 weeks thinking about how to proceed and considered and rejected many different fixes.  Finally, a couple days ago, I decided to use a classic technique - the decorative patch.

(7) I hemmed the bottom of the shirt.

(8) I put a small patch on the inside of the shirt and sewed it and the gouge together using overlapping zigzag stitches (to keep the fabric from fraying any more).

(9) I cut out a decorative patch and secured it to the shirt over the gouge using fusible web (i.e., a heat-activated sticky stuff that allows you to "glue" one piece of fabric to another).

(10) I hand-appliqued the patch with a whip stitch.

And voila -- I have produced a cute color-blocked t-shirt for a gigantic baby!

When I showed it to Robert and commented on its toddler-esque quality, he said, "I guess you're not wearing that on the first day of school."  And indeed, I am not.  Somehow wearing a cutesy t-shirt does not quite communicate the message I want in that environment.  But I am looking forward to wearing it as casual/lounge/sleep wear.

As for the asymmetrically positioned rabbit -- the kind of odd placement works for me.  Typically, a real baby garment would feature the rabbit patch centered on the chest or belly.  But people, this is a rabbit.

If the rabbit is not loafed...

Or sphinxed...

Or flopped...

But instead is on his feet, you just can't make him stand where you want him to stand.  These rabbits move fast.  Truly, I'm lucky to have this fancy-free rabbit not be just a blur at the bottom of the shirt.