Monday, August 04, 2008

Rent Control

Because I gave notice on an allowed date, the company that owns my building is now looking for the next renter. They asked for specific dates and times when I could show it, so I was hoping we could do the open house style on just one or two evenings. Instead they opted for having individual renters call me to set up individual times to come see the place. This is more hassle for me--more phone calls (my absolute least favorite thing to do here), more of my time wasted. One person called and we set up a time, then she called an hour before she was supposed to arrive and wanted to reschedule for the next day. Grrr. She finally showed up yesterday and as soon as she walked in I could see she wanted to leave (and she did 3 minutes later). Turns out they told her the rent would be 1200 CHF (about $1200). This is a 25 m2 (250 square feet) apartment on one of the busiest streets in Zurich in a relatively dumpy (by Swiss standards) building. My rent is 841 CHF (about $841). I was already annoyed that it had gone up from 776 CHF in April (I know landlords raise rent, but why wait 2.5 years and then hike it all at once?). I'm glad I decided to give notice when I could walk away--if I had to find a follow-on tenant, I would be really stressed about trying to lie and sell the place, whereas now I can just be honest!

This blog post about the psychology of dealing with climate change (or not, as the case may be) and some more general thoughts about risk assessment psychology is interesting. I especially liked "The science of human behavior, particularly the psychology of risk perception, robustly shows that we use two systems to make judgments about risk; reason and affect, facts and feelings. It is simply naïve to disregard this inescapable truth and presume that reason and intellect alone will carry the day. That’s just not how the human animal behaves." This reminds me of something I consider to be a fundamental flaw of traditional economics: the idea of the rational actor as the basis for the entire economy.

I've been spinning a lot. I dyed a bunch of wool this winter, but I hadn't been spinning so much because my back always hurts after sitting all day. So I've been planning to sell my wheel before I move, but I just couldn't let go of all the wool I dyed! So I've been spinning in 10 minute spurts (one little ball of prepped wool), and it's going ok. I'm surprised at how much I can get done! Of course, now that I'm seeing results, I'm second guessing my decision to sell the wheel. Argh!

Recent yarn I've spun. The red yarn was spun in April, knit into bad, thick socks, and frogged.

One batch (the rusty stuff on the left) was so pretty I couldn't bring myself to ply it--I knew the colors would just kind of muddy out. So I've been dreaming up patterns that would look ok using energized singles which bias like mad. I was thinking of a tank top knit in the round--the leaning stitches would just add textural interest! However, when I finally skeined them up, I realized something about my spinning: my singles don't have much "energy" (twist). They hardly coil up on themselves. This explains why my plied yarn is never very plied--the whole idea behind plying is that twisting two yarns together in the opposite direction from how they were spun means that the over-twist in the singles untwists in a way that makes the ply tighter. Balance is achieved. Instead, I have these barely twisted singles, which turn into two strands that are more like neighbors than plies.

Rust colored singles without much twist

Blue and red yarn--note how the plies are barely plied in the red yarn!

I've also been working away on my bog jacket. I worked up the back and sides (the bottom part with the fold/phoney seams), then added extra stitches for the arms. I put in the red racing stripe at the neck/shoulder/top of arms, and now just reached the neck. The front shoulders/arms are worked separately--I've started on one side. I might rejoin the fronts when I get back to the long-color-change yarn because I would prefer the stripes to be the same on both sides. That means steeking the front top. I've had some bad steeking experiences---no disasters, but just a lot of hassle and not being so thrilled with the results. I stumbled across some advice recently about not steeking heavy weight yarns, and suddenly my past troubles made a lot more sense--yes, dealing with tons of bulky ends does add a lot of bulk to the steek opening! Since this yarn is pretty fine, I think it would go better. I'm trying to figure out crochet steeking on a little test square--no ends to weave in, or so I'm told! And this is definitely the yarn for that--it's super grabby. When I dropped the stitches for the phoney seams, I had to hand tug apart the stitch in every row! In fact, I could probably just cut without securing the steek at all...

Bog jacket up to the neck split

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