Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy happy joy joy

Look at them! They are the exact same size as my feet! They were a joy to wear on my flight home from Tromso, Norway. And the next day after my "bonus" night in Oslo due to weather delays and missing my connecting flight.

It's a funny thing--having never, in my entire life, had socks that fit, it had never occurred to me that I could have socks that fit, and what that would feel like (and thus be motivated to knit them). I can see I've started down a slippery slope of wanting things that Fit Right. I'n well into my second pair, and I joined a sock yarn club!!! I seem to be knitting 3 socks per pair, though, because my gauge stinks (and I'm using handspun) and keep getting a sock in the wrong size. Maybe this will finally get me to work on my gauge issues?

I also have been secretly mulling over the idea of knitting up some panties, another item that never fits or suits my "princess and the pea" issues with tags and other things that rub strangely. It boggles my mind how I totally missed the fact that by knitting my own socks I could totally avoid the dreaded clumps/seams by the toes which drive me nuts. Well, at least I'm on the right road now!

More to come--pictures from Tromso, "exciting" developments at work, even some actual science content!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Missed sights

Today was one of those days I should have taken my camera to work.

Just next to the tram stop by my house, there is a tram parking lot (you know, where the trams sleep at night). It's usually empty during the day, but this morning there was one there, surrounded by 3 fire trucks and about 20 Swiss fire fighters. Several were lying on pallets inspecting something underneath. At first I thought maybe someone claimed there was an explosive device on the tram!! But I quickly realized they would have cleared the surrounding area. There was no evidence of fire (no scorch marks on the tram or any hint of smoke smell) and I really couldn't figure it out. Strange realization--this was the first time I'd seen fire fighters since I moved here. They looked more like a road construction crew than fire fighters, although I can't put my finger on why, and their helmets seemed a bit Star Wars, which amused me.

Then I passed a moving operation--someone was moving a company into a 3rd floor office via the window. The buildings here don't have those hooks that are so common in Amsterdam because the buildings there have such narrow stairs. Here they had a kind of ladder/conveyer belt thing going up to the window. I love watching weird stuff like that. One day I "caught" the emptying of the recycling bins. Here in Switzerland you recycle metal and glass by carrying it to a set of bins which are scattered about the city--usually you don't have to walk more than a few blocks to find one. They are blue and about as tall as a person (here is a tiny picture), with a little rubber-flapped mouth at eye level. Turns out they open from the bottom when picked up by a giant crane. I was mesmerized one morning watching the ones by my apartment being emptied.

Speaking of hauling one's waste around, yesterday I got home and found a note taped to the door stating that, effective immediately, we were no longer allowed to leave trash on the sidewalk. It used to be that you bought special, taxed garbage bags, filled them up, and left them on the sidewalk and the city picked them up on designated days (once or twice a week, depending on the neighborhood). Some buildings have smallish dumpsters for the bags, but not all. My current building is one of the dumpster-less ones. I now have to walk 3 or 4 blocks with my garbage to an officially designated drop off point. Ugh. The bags are really cheap and often rip, and the handles are very thin plastic which really cuts into the fingers. The last place I lived, in New Hampshire, had no garbage service. I had to drive to the dump to get rid of my trash, and the dump was open only on Saturdays from 9 to 12 and I found it a real pain to get over there. Since moved here, I had been really enjoying the fact that someone comes to my house and takes my garbage away. Guess the honeymoon is over.

On a good note, I found some clover honey last night--I find the local honey to be rather strong (no idea what those bees are snacking on) and I was thrilled to find some good Canadian clover honey. We will not discuss my carbon footprint at this juncture.

I'm furiously trying to finish the unspun sweater. I have 8 more rows on the front top (I knit the body in the round up to the arms and then split it--the back is done), and I still have to knit the sleeves and a collar. I've also been spinning up a bunch of sock yarn so I have some good portable knitting when I head off to Tromso next week to visit the unspun sweater's new owner.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How's your binocular vision?

I have been getting a lot of eyestrain headaches lately from working on the computer all day. This is incredibly bad timing as the big push to write my thesis has just begun (no doubt the stress of that is compounding the eyestrain...). Last month I went to see an optician to get checked for some middle-range computer glasses. She spent an hour testing my vision and apparently I "failed" some of the tests because at the end she said I needed to see a specialist.

A month passed waiting for the appointment. I had a headache on all but two days of it.

Yesterday I finally saw the specialist who spent 2 (two!) hours testing my vision. It was interesting--at least an hour was spent with a red filter over one eye and a green filter over the other to see how my binocular vision was. Turns out my eyes don't "play well with others" and it seems I have some convergence insufficiency. The second bulleted list under "symptoms" at that description is a disturbingly accurate description of me. I wound up quitting a tee-ball team in frustration after a year because I couldn't hit the ball. Yeah, the ball that wasn't moving? I still couldn't connect the bat to it. I've also been terrified my whole adult life of passing cars on undivided highways--I can't judge very well how fast the oncoming cars are moving and thus whether I have time to pass. I've always known that I see pretty much only with my left eye. When I have to use the right eye for some reason, it feels as strange as trying to write with your non-dominant hand. You can test your own binocular vision here. When I do that test I see just one thumb/eye.

I'm not entirely sure how "handicrafts" slipped into my life, although I'm actually a pretty crappy knitter from a technical point of view--my stitches are sloppy and I am constantly splitting yarn or popping stitches off the needle or "air knitting" (missing the stitch entirely). I'm also really good at correcting mistakes! It's the same as how everyone who hears me type thinks I'm a really fast typist because there are tons of keystroke sounds. They don't realize 70% of them are backspace...

I see yet another specialist next week to discuss whether I want to do some "eye PT". This training tends to turn up on quackwatch type sites because it tends to get overpromoted as a way to solve all learning problems. For kids who actually have a seeing disorder like the one I apparently have, this actually will help.

The good news is I dusted off my spinning wheel after neglecting it for a while because my back hurts. And because for some strange reason I had decided that I "should" spin some lacey yarn. I hate spinning such fine yarn because it takes forever, and also because I can't really knit with it!! I knit so loosely that most fine gauge yarns are off limits if I want any kind of structural stability in the final fabric. Plus I have trouble seeing that kind of stuff. Life is definitely too short to spin yarn I don't even like!! So I plied up the crazy thin stuff that had been blocking me and moved on. Here's a shot of the 2 ply result. Left scale marker is a 5 Euro-cent coin and the right is a US penny.

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