DIY Pocahontas necklace

The most iconic thing about Pocahontas is clearly her necklace. In a search around for other Pocahontas costumes, what made them look badly done was a failure to reproduce the necklace from the movie. Lots of attempts, few successes. (Some of the good ones: 1 2 3)

Clearly, the depicted broken necklace is actually impossible, at least when you compare it to the complete necklace. The problem is the placement of the pendant. I considered modeling it exactly after the movie necklace, but that seems like it would take a bit more engineering than I was willing to commit to the project, so I modified the necklace slightly.

Before I had said I would aim to make it look like real turquoise; I didn't end up doing that because I was given some clay for free and I didn't have all the colors necessary. Anyway, getting on with it:

I used a package of white sculpy and a package of turquoise sculpy. The turquoise was a bit darker than I wanted it to be, so I kneaded in some white to lighten it and give it a little bit of depth.

The best way I found to do the necklace was to mold the necklace in full and the bake the large "beads":

Misc unstructured thoughts

My current Facebook status: I like wearing high heels because it intimidates my foes. With a simple change in footwear I can become four inches taller and 300% louder. CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP.


This year will be the first year ever that I fall in line with the female halloween tradition of "sexy _____" for a costume. Not because I particularly want to exude sexiness but because Pocahontas' dress is kind of slutty. No offense to Pocahontas but she knows it's true. Also, I'm pretty sure Native Americans didn't invent underwear so John Smith was a lucky guy.

Last year I was the King of Wild things (about as far away from "sexy" as one can get):

The year before that I didn't dress up and the year before that I was a cow (I dug out the costume just for you:

As you can tell, I make my own costumes, to varying degrees of success. I haven't had a store bought costume since... well, since I was a kid I guess. It just feels wrong - it's not the spirit of Halloween! This year it'll be interesting having a slit up to my thighs... interesting and probably cold.

I've been living and breathing Halloween this week, in between midterm stress. Can you tell?

Halloween How-to: Cheap DIY decorations

So Halloween is my favorite holiday, but I still can't justify spending more than $20 a year on decorations. Combine that with living in an apartment (no outdoors decorations! Nowhere to put pumpkins! No trick-or-treaters! All the walls are beige) and I had to get a little... desperately creative this year. These are by no means classy dinner party decorations, but they're cute in a campy sort of way.

Ghost trapped in our lampshade. Just tape a paper cutout on the inside of the shade.

A few dollar-store garlands and a fake pumpkin make a small shelf display. I tied black and orange yarn around candles to make them a bit more festive.

Pocahontas dress update

I've had some success with my Pocahontas costume!

Here's my main reference screencaps (for proportions and construction):

And not at all related to the costume, but I laughed when I noticed how long Pocahontas's neck is in some scenes:

I used Burda 7460 and modified it to have a single strap, fringe flap and triangle hem. I just freehanded these modifications. The zipper ended up crooked, somehow - I think I pinned one side too tight, or something - and the bits where I freestyled aren't that good looking but... hey, it's the first big project I've done in years. The colors of suede available were limited and the yellow-y ones were kind of gross, so I went with the darker one. It's a more realistic color than in the movie, anyway. I'll have to make the belt with a dark brown, since my dress is about the color of her belt.

The first thing I did was assemble a mockup, pin and alter it to fit my body better. I happened to have three meters of stretch corduroy laying around that was almost the same weight and stretch as my suede. After pinning for fit, I added the shoulder strap and triangle hem to the mockup:

What men want

Hello boys and girls, today I'm going to talk about a subset of the phenomena know as male privilege. Male privilege is a term to encompass all the stuff that benefits men living in a patriarchal society. It's not something that many men are consciously aware of because it's subtly granted to them - they've always had it, and it's not their fault. It's just that many men aren't aware of it and so end up saying insensitive things to women.

Some male privileges are: not being harassed because of the clothing they wear; being able to be hired for a job based solely on their credentials; being able to walk alone after sunset; being able to talk about never wanting children without people knowingly saying "you'll change your mind"; being able to have a bad day without people cracking jokes about biological necessities; being able to have several sex partners without it being implied that they "don't respect themselves"; Never being expected to change their name; the list goes on... and on... and on. This is not to say that there aren't female privileges, but that's not my focus today.

The one I'm annoyed by today is, "I'm a man and therefore my opinion is the most important." (All of the following are paraphrased, but are things I've seen real men say... often several times)

Are you struggling with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia? Well, you can stop now! You're cured! You see, men don't like women that are skin and bones and you're anorexic because you want to be pretty for men, right? So start eating again and get your curves back, girl!

Are you contemplating cutting your hair short? Oh, well we've solved your dilemma! Men don't like short hair on women because it isn't as attractive for them. You only care about your appearance to impress men, right? So leave your hair long and you'll look better!

Nothing important

So I'm getting a cold again. I was feeling better for a few days and then BAM! miserable afternoon.

I realized something today. Fish can't choke. That is all. I'm going to go pass out now.

Fun with modular arithmetic

The basic concept of the modulo operation is quite simple. Given two numbers, a and n, a modulo n is the remainder of the division (a/n). Some examples:
6 mod 4 = 2
21 mod 5 = 1
10 mod 2 = 0
Such a simple concept. But you can do beautiful things with it.

In some uses outside of computing, you can begin to think of modulo as less of an operation and more of a class of numbers. We introduce the concept of congruency:
Two integers a and b are said to be congruent in modulo n if (a - b) is a multiple of n. That is, there exists some integer k such that,
a - b = kn

The symbol for congruence is three horizontal lines (≡) [which is 240 in the extended Ascii system]
a ≡ b (mod n)
Congruency is an equivalence relation. It is similar to equals sign, except that many values can be congruent to the same b (mod n). For example,
6 ≡ 1 (mod 5)
21 ≡ 1 (mod 5)
-4 ≡ 1 (mod 5)
Notice how each of these values can be "reduced" to 1. In fact, any value can be reduced to a number ranging between 0 and (n-1). The set of numbers that can be reduced to a specific, unique number between 0 and (n-1) is called an equivalence class. We call the reduced numbers class representatives. To get a list of numbers in each equivalence class, we add or subtract multiples of n from the class representative. For example, a list of values in the class represented by 3 (mod 5) is:
3 + 5 = 8
3 + 2*5 = 13
3 - 5 = -2
3 - 2*5 = -7

{... -12, -7, -2, 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, ...}

Modular arithmetic is very important to cryptography, as are prime numbers and some other related concepts. I'm not going to go into much more detail here because you could write a book on modulo (and more knowledgeable people certainly have!), prime numbers and greatest common divisors, but here's a cute trick for calculating certain mod values. It's a result of two things: the first is that any number in mod n arithmetic can be reduced to its class representative. The second is Lagrange's theorem. The theorem itself seems a bit complicated, but it's implication to modular arithmetic is elegant and simple.

Any integer can be written as a polynomial. The integer 24563 is actually representative of the value (this may look familiar if you know anything about bases)
2x104 + 4x103 + 5x102 + 6x101 + 3x100

International Suit-up Day

Today is International Suit-up Day. In celebration I made a silver bow tie. I used Burda's free David pattern and learned how to tie a bow tie this morning and it made me miss the bus so I had to take a cab to my Linear Algebra II midterm.

If I remember I'll get shots of what else I'm wearing; pencil skirt, wine-red shell, jacket, black tights, clunky suede boots (apparently I don't own any pumps) and T's pocket watch in the wrong pocket but I don't care. (don't have a vest and girl's jackets usually don't have a breast pocket). Also: I'm totally wearing lipstick. I feel like a spy or something.

Sick... need tea

So, I'm sick again. In one way or another I've been sick since the beginning of August. We're almost suspecting mold in the apartment. Either that or I just have a really terrible immune system.

Anyway, the only thing that helps is hot drinks. NeoCitran first (mmmm, delicious powdered ibuprofen) and then tea. A long time ago we ordered some sampler packs of loose tea from Adegio Teas that I absolutely love. We ordered a chai sampler and a flavoured sampler - of them all, the passionfruit and apricot are my favourite.

Adagio is great - all their tea arrives in neat little tins. We ordered some tea bags to make making tea easier (was cheaper than a teaball). They have lots of free stuff - we got a birthday tea in December and a sample of their zodiac teas in Capricorn. They also have some good guides and histories on their website, as well as wonderfully delicious-looking photographs.

The thing I immediately discovered is that most of the tea I had had before was actually burnt. I still sometimes burn tea if I get distracted, heh. Any tea that tastes very bitter is likely to be burnt. Non-burnt tea is very pleasant (though I still need sugar - which friends make fun of me for). Green tea needs to be made with cooler water, too. Each of the tins has a temperature and time written on it so you know how long and how hot to steep for, which is very useful.

Tea is very cheap and very cozy and there's a lot more flavors and types avalibale than at a grocery store (which usually only stocks earl grey, green and plain black) and I think everyone should try some of the other types available.

Halloween how-to: Bat wings

As a decoration or costume piece, these wings turned out well for only a short amount of time and common supplies.

- Wire coathangers (2) OR very heavy gauge wire
- Black pantyhose (preferably without reinforced toe)
- Pliers
- Needle and thread
- Black boa (feathered or not, your choice. Check the dollar store, they're often much cheaper there than at a craft store!)
- Tin snips or other heavy-duty cutting tools
- Black pipecleaners (optional)

Beginning of the costume

I've managed to hold off for years, but this year I finally gave in: I'm going to be Pocahontas for Halloween. And, thanks to my slight obsessiveness, I'm going to do it right.

Pocahontas is by far my favourite Disney movie - possibly my favourite movie ever. It's classic Disney animation, lovely songs, beautiful scenery, an admirable princess (instead of the usual privileged white girl) and no annoying, talking animals. Surprisingly, there don't seem to be many people on the Internet who have done a Pocahontas costume, and none of those meet my high standards of accuracy. Even Disneyworld's Pocahontas looks kind of crappy, though the model/actor/whatever has lovely long hair. Sadly, her costume is still one of the best-looking ones I've seen, barring the weird belt:

The costume is simple: Tan, single-shouldered, sweetheart busted dress with fringe edging. Blue necklace. Red tattoo. Straight long hair. Brown belt. But a good costume is all in the details.

If I wrote a language...

It would use this really sexy syntax a friend turned me onto today, which according to him works in Perl and ActionScript:

This situation comes up often: Some function can return a value OR
. You then want to do an assignment with that value, but do something different if it had returned
. Instead of,
myVariable = some_Function_That_Might_Return_Null();
If (myVariable != null) {
     myValue = myVariable;
     myValue = some_Default_Value;
You have the very cute:
myVariable = some_Function_That_Might_Return_Null();
myValue = myVariable || some_Default_Value;
myValue gets set to myVariable if it's not
. If myVariable is
, it uses the second value.
In fact, I suspect that one could use (or could implement the use of) statements, not just variables:
myValue = some_Function_That_Might_Return_Null() || some_Default_Value;

Of course, that looks similar to "?:" (sometimes called the ternary operator)

myValue = (myBooleanFunction()) ? "Yay!" : "Boo";

I suspect that using the
operator this way might be a side effect of the implementation of
-like values or the implementation of Boolean conditional evaluation. Possibly with some help from the use of short circuiting.

Methods that return a value would be declared with "fun". Because the larger your project, the more fun it would have!

New fishies!

So a little while ago I posted that we found a fry in our tank. Well, a little later we found a second one from the same brood, and two or three days ago we found eight newborns. I caught another this morning, bringing the grand total up to eleven babies. Sadly, one of our females died yesterday, but we have a new betta. So, four adult platies, eleven babies, two otto cats and a male betta are in our twenty gallon.

Some widdle babies. You can see how much the older two have grown.

I tried to get one of the adults next to the babies, but they don't like to be in focus.

And here's our pretty boy. His coloration is really neat: blue, red, purple and pink with a bicolor body.

And here's a shot showing off his iridescence:

I love our fish. They are the best fish.

Animal hats

So the only thing I "officially" collect is animal hats. They're all from the Delux brand because I like the quality and style of their hats compared to knock-offs or other animal hats (which tend to be felt instead of wool). I wear them all winter, spring and fall... basically until it gets too warm.

Excuse the odd coloring, I had to crank the brightness and beat down the contrast to get the hats visible. Boo backlighting.

Bonus fun: You can see the mouse moving around her cage in between shots. I laughed way too hard when I noticed that.

Tiger hatLion hat

Pig hatDonkey hat

Kangaroo hatKitty hat

The kitty one I actually sewed the face on myself - the hat originally was just ears. It was my first and I had matching paw mittens that I've long since lost.

There are only two other things I have an unreasonable desire to collect: cute salt shakers and teapots shaped like mythical beasts. I don't know where either of those came from. Luckily I've managed to hold off, except for my snail salt shakers. I liked the irony of them too much.

Listen to meeeeeeeee

I've been working on this post for a long time, turning it over in my head, drafting, deleting, talking it over with T. I've been having a very difficult time capturing precisely and accurately what it is I want to say without sounding condescending, egotistical or whiny. I've decided now to just post what I come up with so I can get it off my chest.

No one listens to people my age. I'm not very young or very old - I'm right out of teenagedom, at twenty years old technically an adult, and I'm still noticing this. Of course it's to be expected for teenagers - I was a know-it-all teenager once, too, and I know that they really don't know it all. But this goes further than that, and I think I know the reason why.

First of all, some examples:

My mother wanted to get a kitten, so I explained to her in detail why she shouldn't get a kitten from a pet store and should instead adopt one from the SPCA. She seemed reassuringly open to the idea - "Just let me know when," I had told her, "and I'll look up some breeders in your area, if there aren't any at the SPCA you're interested in."
What does she do a few weeks later? She goes out and buys a kitten from a pet store. And then she informs me she will get her declawed - I immediately advise against it, telling her about the procedure and health implications. "Ok," she says, "I won't get her declawed." Next time I talk to her, she's had the kitten declawed. (Thankfully the kitten had no complications, although I suspect she'll have health problems in a few years because she's pet store stock.)

A friend of mine is having the same sort of problems at work. His superiors will consult him on some issue related to his expertise and then they'll completely ignore his suggestions and just go ahead with what they had planned. It's almost as if people believe that as long as they get someone's opinion they can then do what they wanted to do in the first place and not feel guilty. I rarely have adults take my advice of opinions seriously, especially so outside of a work environment.

I suspect part of the problem is confidence - I'm not a very confident person and I know that shows through. I interview terribly, I carefully avoid absolutist claims, I don't speak with authority in my voice. The thing is, it's not just me that I've seen this happen to. And there's something I've been noticing, a correlation between some interesting factors that I suspect might be the main cause:

1) The further away from academia a person is, the less likely they are to take into account other people's opinions
2) The more tech-savvy they are the more likely they are to listen and,
3) Either my own or my entire generation's values are extremely different from our parents'
Copyright 2012 Phile not Found. See About
Powered by Blogger

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."