Welcome to Jenius, where you can get opinions from a certified genius who just doesn’t put the effort into it.
Here you will find a mixture of the heartfelt and mundane. Serious and silly. Topical and esoteric. Pretty much whatever comes to mind.
Welcome to Jenius, where you can get opinions from a certified genius who just doesn’t put the effort into it.
Here you will find a mixture of the heartfelt and mundane. Serious and silly. Topical and esoteric. Pretty much whatever comes to mind.
A few months ago, there were some pictures going around of some really cool Doctor Who aprons that someone on Etsy was selling. I don’t remember where I first heard the story, but one of the sources was Fashionably Geek. At any rate, a friend of mine asked me to make one for her. Fast forward several months and I guess she’s getting it for Christmas.
As with any project I design, I thought about this for a lot longer than it took to execute it. The first part was deciding which apron to do. That was actually easier than one might think because she’s only ever seen the Matt Smith episodes. How, I don’t know. Then I needed the fabric. Granted, most people would have started with the pattern then worried about fabric, but I knew about how much fabric I would need and there was no way I was going to create a pattern that I couldn’t immediately cut out. That would just drive me crazy.
Luckily for me my mom is a sewer (that sounded better in my head) and quilter, and therefore has a lifetime’s worth of fabric. Several lifetimes since she recently bought the remaining stock (900 yards!) of a fabric shop that closed down. So when we were having family Thanksgiving (at the beginning of the month), I raided her stash. I was able to find everything I needed within an hour. That’s much quicker than it would have taken me to find things at the fabric store. Bonus!
I started with the tie because I’ve made fake ties before and they’re pretty easy. But as you can see from my design notes at the end of this post, they’re also easy to completely screw up if you’re not thinking things through. A bow tie can be made by creating two loops of fabric and shoving the big loop halfway through the little loop. But boy are those loops difficult to get right. Once I figured out the proper dimensions It was quick and easy to finish. Then I let it sit on my sewing table for a week or two while I completely ignored the project.
The next step of the process, after the part of completely ignoring it, was the top. The sash and the skirt would be easy, I knew, so I focused my designing brain cells on the complicated top. This was the only part that I actually created a pattern for, and even then, it wasn’t a neat little pattern like you’d buy in the store. After doing my preliminary sketch, I grabbed a roll of butcher’s paper (great for a rainy day coloring activity for kids) and started drawing. I used a straightedge to draw the straight lines to start and to give the curved bits a bit of reference, and then filled in the curved bits. I only worried about one side because I knew I would be stacking the fabric to cut it. I did have to copy part of the pattern onto a separate piece of paper, though, because the lapels are separate entities. I would recommend using butcher paper like this for anyone who creates their own patterns, but you do need to remember to cut the fabric larger than the pattern to allow for seams.
Once the front of the top was done, I cut a piece for a backing. I wasn’t planning on this piece originally, but I knew it would anchor my neck strap and make for a neater appearance than just hemming the edges. I then cut a long strip for the strap, which ended up being too short. So, I cutting some more pieces to extend it, but once I created a fabric tube with it, I realized that it was now too long, so I had to cut some of it off both ends. This part would have been easier with a dressmaker’s dummy or a model of the approximate size I needed, but I didn’t have either of those, so I had to wing it. If it’s still too long now, she can use a safety pin to shorten it up. Then I pinned the front, strap, and back together and sewed them up. Amazingly everything came out correct. I didn’t have a Mobius strap, or anything.
After the top, I did the skirt. The skirt ended up quite a bit longer than I had envisioned, but I still like the results. I had limited amounts of the contrasting fabric for the sash and bottom of the skirt, so I needed to be very careful with my measurements and cuts. I only wish that I had been careful with my measurements and cuts. The problem with doing this kind of thing off the top of your head is that you tend to make silly mistakes. In the case of the sash, I forgot to take into account that my fabric was folded in half so I ended up creating way too many strips of fabric while at the same time preventing myself from having a nice, curved bottom piece added to the skirt. Luckily I figured out my mistake before I created a sash that was twice as long as it needed to be and I was able to add the contrasting bit to the bottom by sewing three strips of the fabric together and creating a ruffled effect with it.
The sash was only complicated insofar that I had to leaving an opening at the top and bottom for the top and the skirt of the apron. I sewed my strips together into a front and a back, sewed those pieces together, then turned it. Then I pinned the top into the sash and sewed it, followed by the skirt. Finally, I attached the bow tie to the top with a little hand stitching.
The best part of creating an apron for a gift is that with a little creativity, it becomes its own wrapping.
The following are my preliminary sketches. I do them on the Dilbert page-a-day calendar paper I use for scratch paper. That’s a perfect size for quickly getting your ideas down and it’s also a nice way to reuse the paper.
I started watching Doctor Who when I was about eight years old. I didn’t grow up with cable, so I watched a lot of PBS. And every Saturday night was British TV night. Comedies followed by science fiction. I grew up watching those shows and every week, the last show I watched before the anthem played was Doctor Who. From Tom Baker through to Sylvester McCoy years later, with plenty of repeats of the older regenerations.
I don’t remember when the original run ended. Some time in the early 90s. And I don’t remember when I heard that a new run was beginning, but I do know that I was excited to see them. Having new episodes after a decade or more was something to be excited about. And thanks to the magic of cable and BBC America, I was able to watch them the same year they came out, not three or four years after the fact like with PBS.
I enjoyed seeing the bad guy from the mediocre remake of that stunt man classic, Gone in 60 Seconds, as the Doctor. The new companion was fun, even if her boyfriend was a wet noodle. The adventures only took 44 minutes instead of twice that long. The show finally had a budget! Something unheard of before, even at the end.
But something was amiss. Something about the new run just wasn’t as good as the previous run. Yes, there was the normal culture shock expected when a show reboots after that long. The sets were more complex. The locations more varied. The costumes more believable. The addition of Hollywood style explosions does nothing to detract from the show. The Doctor was a darker, more brooding Time Lord, who showed love for his companions instead of just the level of fondness he had shown before. But even that wasn’t it. Not completely.
Only recently have I finally put my finger on the trouble with the Doctor. In crossing that line from fondness to love, the Doctor made it impossible for his companions to just stop coming with him. In the past companions sometimes died, or were lost to time somewhere, but most just stopped traveling. They retired.
Companions can’t retire now. They have to be killed. Or sent to an alternate universe. Or back in time. The nature of the show has changed so that companion retirement is out of the question. Even when they try, the can’t do it. The Doctor shows back up to whisk them off again. In finding love for his companions, he’s developed an unhealthy dependence on them. And even that is part of the show. In the past the Doctor was fine without a companion, but now he goes stir crazy. Until he can grow past that dependence on them, the Doctor will be a tragic hero. And while that usually makes for good entertainment (with the notable exception of Superman 3), it’s not Doctor Who.
I put the quilting down for a bit and returned to crochet because I want to make a gift for someone for Christmas. I decided against the normal nerdy hat and come up with something new. I’ll post the project when I’m done, but in the process of watching videos to learn a couple of techniques, I saw something that completely stopped me in my tracks.
I have been doing double crochets wrong for months. And by months, I mean over a year. Well, over a year. And not only have I been doing double crochets wrong, but what I have been doing isn’t even an actual stitch as far as I can tell. I thought it might be a triple, but nope. That wasn’t it.
A double crochet is done by yarning over, inserting the hook into the next stitch, yarning over, pulling through the stitch, yarning over, pulling through two loops, yarning over, and pulling through the last two loops. It’s really easier done than said. However, what I was doing was yarning over, inserting the hook into the next stitch, yarning over, pulling through the stitch, yarning over, pulling through one loop, yarning over, pulling through one loop, yarning over, pulling through two loops, yarning over, and pulling through the final two loops.
That’s not a double crochet. It’s not a triple crochet. It’s not a half double crochet. It’s nothing. And I have no idea where I got it from. If anyone has a clue what I was thinking, please let me know. I’d be really interested to hear it.
My daughter just asked me who would win, a Jedi or a wizard from Harry Potter. She postulated that a wizard would just use expelliarmus to take the Jedi’s lightsaber. At first I countered that the Jedi would just turn the lightsaber on when it was almost to the wizard, but then I thought further on it. During my admittedly brief thinking on the topic, I think I answered the question using logic and, unfortunately, an educated guess that had to be made since the facts aren’t available.
Firstly, let us consider the origins of power for the magic user, which is where my educated guess comes in. Nowhere in the books is the source of magic discussed, but there are clues. We know that some wizards and witches are more powerful than others. Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore, and Harry Potter are all held up as shining examples of powerful Wizards. Not only that, but we know that some children of wizards have no magical powers (squibs). And some children of non-magic users, muggles, give birth to magic users. Wands are said to focus the power of a magic user. All of this points to conclusion that magic is a manifestation of innate abilities. In simpler terms magical power comes from the user.
Now let’s consider the origins of the Force. The movies, and all related canon in the form of books, comic books, video games, etc., constantly tell us that the Force is in all living things. When a force user, good or bad, uses the Force, they draw on it from their surroundings, in what seems to be an inverse square function similar to gravity. Dark side users tend to draw on their own being’s Force, causing themselves physical damage, while light side users draw it from everywhere without harming anything. In either case, the Force is in all things. Except for droids, maybe. There’s a weird gray area there depending on what you’re looking at.
When looking to the original question of who would win in a battle, a Jedi or a wizard, it becomes clear that because the Force is in all living things, but that magic is only within the user, the Jedi will always win, with possible exception of cases where the Jedi is barely trained and the wizard is highly experienced (e.g. 17-year-old Harry Potter versus 19-year-old Luke Skywalker).
Anyone who knows me for any length of time knows that I’m ever the optimist. (Unless I’m bored and feel like picking on people.) I usually pop right out of bed. I’m quick to smile and laugh. I try to make those around me happy, or at least less miserable. In other words, I’m a real bummer to be around if you’re in a bad mood.
You can’t really hunker down and be miserable when you’ve got a goofball in your face saying stupid shit and laughing at nonsense. Then again, what do you have to mope about? Life is great!
Sad stuff happens. People die. Money can be scarce. Target may run out of your brand of underwear forcing you to go from store to store looking for just the right shade of pink. And it’s not about sucking it up and putting on a brave face. Nor is it about finding solace in someone or something else, real or imaginary. When I say life is great, I mean it literally. The process of living is awesome!
So whine if you have to. Cry. Yell and scream. Be happy. Be depressed. Just remember that being able to be is the best thing ever. That and boobs, of course.
I’ve been sewing as long as I can remember, but I’ve never been a big quilter. My mom has been quilting for years now and every so often I see one of her projects that interests me. So when I saw her jelly roll strip top quilt, I thought it might be fun to try my own, but without all of the fancy quilting stuff she has. So with nothing more than some fabric, several spools of thread that were left over from old sewing projects, and my three-quarter size sewing machine, I set out to make a quilt.
I started by buying two matching jelly rolls of fabric at Wal-Mart. Jelly rolls are bundles of fabric strips that are different, but coordinating. And Wal-Mart being Wal-Mart, the rolls I got there went by a different name and had an odd amount of strips. Because of that, I bought two of them.
There are several tutorials around that show how to make the top, but I’ll describe it here. I sewed each strip in the rolls end-to-end on a diagonal, without trimming the extra fabric. Then I cut about 18″ off of one end of the super long strip and discarded it. I brought both ends of the long strip together, then sewed down one side, opening up the seams of the diagonally sewn strips along the way. When I got to the fold of the strip, I cut it and then finished sewing the strips together. I continued that process until I had a rectangle that was closer to a square than it was to a ridiculously long rectangle. That finished the top.
Most quilts follow the same process. You create the decorative top. Layer it with batting and a complementary backing. Load the layers onto a quilting frame. Quilt the layers together. Then bind the edges. I didn’t want to bother buying batting. I don’t own a quilting frame. And if I did, I don’t have a quilting machine so I’d have to quilt it all by hand, which wasn’t happening.
Instead of all of that, I did a simple layering that gives this project its beginner nature. I found a large piece of fleece that came in a bag of remnants from the fabric store. The fleece just happened to be the same size as my top because life just works out for me sometimes. I pinned the fleece to the top with wrong sides out. Then I sewed around the edges, leaving a large gap to turn it with. This is essentially the same thing you do to make a pillow. I turned it, pushed out the corners, and sewed around the edges of the entire thing.
So far what I had was a large pillow with no stuffing. Or a blanket sewn to a sheet. Or something. Not a quilt, that’s for sure. To do the quilting, I just zigzagged each seam of the strip top, all the way across. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because the fleece tends to bunch and fold. I just went with it, though, because I was going for ease, not award winning methods. The results are a serviceable lap quilt that is quite warm and pleasant to look at.
As part of a pre-interview process for a new job, I was tasked with setting up a small site using PHP and MySQL. Another part of it was setting up a SOAP server and client. After a week of trying to get it to work, they kindly informed me that I wasn’t a good fit and I stopped working on it.
I’m not too concerned about my failure for a few reasons. First of all, I’ve still got a job, so I’m not desperate for new work. Second of all, I’ve never set up a SOAP server, or client, and it’s not an easy thing to do, even with the added functionality of PHP 5. Especially since the server involved complex types, which are no easy thing to set up. Lastly, and more importantly, all of my research points to one conclusion: SOAP isn’t designed for PHP and there are better ways of doing the same thing.
SOAP is yet another universal data transfer method, in the form of a customized API, that relies on XML to handle things XML was never meant to do. Most people seem to agree that JSON was a better thing to use, not that I’ve ever used that, either. For the example in question, it was totally pointless since obviously my site had access to its own databases, but the exercise was more about using the functionality, not creating a live site. And I haven’t given up learning how to do it. Partly because there’s always use in learning new things, but mostly because I’m totally stubborn and refuse to give up on something that I know I should be able to do.
So keep an eye out for a post detailing my complicated SOAP server and client. Based on my experience of reading dozens of examples and tutorials, there is a desperate need for a real life example of using SOAP with PHP. All we have is the same, stupid stock ticker one that originated with Zend. All the really good examples are for NuSOAP or some other outdated PHP method that shouldn’t even be used anymore. I will conquer!
If you follow the advice in the title, then you won’t go through the headaches that I am putting myself through. I finished the code for my Archives and Index pages and turned my head back to a custom theme I started three years ago. After looking at some of the files and comparing them with the current themes, I thought, “never mind.” I decided to just use the most recent built-in WordPress theme, TwentyThirteen, and make it work for me.
So I changed the theme on my page and I immediately don’t like it. It takes up the whole screen which is a really old way of doing things. And it’s just generally big. I can’t describe it any better than that. I added my Index and Archives pages to it and they reacted weird, too. Nothing major, just not quite right.
Luckily for me, I have a friend who works with Go Daddy, and spends most of her time talking to people about WordPress, and she reminded me that I can create a child theme and save myself a massive headache. So that is what I will be working on for the foreseeable future. Once I change my live theme back to TwentyTen, that is.
After a couple of years away from almost daily php programming, I finally started working on it again. Specifically I have been trying to add an index page to this site. Why an index? Because I had one with GreyMatter and I quite like them. I also plan on updating the Archives page to be needlessly flashy. Not literally flashing, though.
At any rate, I gathered some info and started hacking away only to realize that not only had I forgotten some basic functions and techniques, but I had also forgotten many of the common terms that would enable me to research those forgotten things. Luckily programming is like riding a bike, so I was able to get back into the swing of things rather quickly. Now if only I could actually get my code to work…
After finishing the poncho for my daughter, I made this hat for my son.
He really likes my Angry Birds pig hat, but he likes the red angry bird the best. This only took a few days to make and was easier than I feared. I have no explanation for the face he’s making.
I started with my hat base. It seemed so small because I’m used to making my hats for my big noggin. I made the feathers by chaining eight then single crocheting down to the start. Then I chained six from that point and single crocheted back down. The beak was three triangles made using single crochets. Triangles are not an exact science when it comes to crochet, let me tell you. I used a double crochet magic ring, finished with slip stitches, for the eyes. The pupils are French knots (a trick from my old cross stitching days). The eyebrows were a little more inventive. I chained sixteen, double crocheted into the third chain from the hook, double crocheted into the next chain, half double crocheted into the next two chains, single crocheted into the next three chains, half doubles into two chains, and finished with three double crochets at the end of the chain. The trick with the brow is to then tack it on upside down so the tops of the stitches touch the eyes and the chain makes up the top of the brow.
This will be the last crochet post for a while. I’m making my wife a scarf using the rest of the poncho yarn with a blanket stitch. After that, I’m starting a huge project that will probably take months to compete. But it will be oh so worth it.
As I promised last time I posted a crochet project, I actually made something for my daughter instead of doing another hat for myself. I had bought four skeins of yarn years ago and was in the process of making her a skirt when I just stopped. Mostly because the tight stitches were killing my fingers. Kids being kids, she quickly outgrew what little I had completed of it, so when I decided to get back to make something for her, I needed to start over. Luckily inspiration soon struck and I came up with a pattern for a poncho for her.
I was browsing around crochet sites for techniques for making blankets for another project idea I had and came across the ubiquitous granny square. I had never done a granny square before because I tend to skip the “hello, world” step of new hobbies and just jump right in. As I was looking at the instructions for how to do them, and realizing that they would be right for the blanket I want to make, it occurred to me that I could modify the basic granny square to make a panel that could be used for a poncho. By skipping some of the little squares in one corner of the granny square, I could essentially cut that corner off. If I made four panels like that and then stitched them together, I’d have a blanket with a hole in the middle, e.g. a poncho.
The process is easy enough to do. Once you have a granny square big enough to reach from about collar to belly button, you do a few more rows, but start replacing the sets of three double stitches in one corner with two chain stitches, slip stitching each small chain to the the stitch that the DC set would end on. For my daughter’s poncho, I did three more rows to build up the rest of the square and create the appropriate sized cut corner.
Once the final panel was finished, I just whipped stitched them together to form the body of the poncho. Then I cut short pieces of yarn to create the fringe. To easily cut those yarn pieces, I wrapped my yarn around an old gift wrap cardboard tube, put a line of painter’s tape up the length of the tube, then cut through the tube, yarn, and tape. That gave me the 348 pieces of yarn I needed to create the tassels in the 116 holes left around the edges. Yes, I counted.
The yarn I used was medium weight acrylic. I got four different variegated skeins and balled them up into three balls each. I then switched between the balls to create the multicolored pattern of the poncho. Every panel is different and she can rotate the poncho to present a different front to the world every time she wears it.
Now onto the boy’s requested hat!
Loyal readers (i.e. no one), will fondly recall a post I did years ago about the evil that is tabbed browsing. Today both of my machines updated to Firefox 23 and, lo and behold, tabbed browsing is no longer an option! For a browser spinoff that began as the end all be all for relentless customizers, removing the ability to turn off tabs is, not exactly mind boggling, but at least perplexing. Not to mention highly annoying. You can’t even go into the about:config to manually change a setting.
The only way to remove them is to install an extension to do it. Luckily there is one available on the Mozilla Add-Ons page: Hide Tab Bar With One Tab. I found that extension given as an answer to the several complaints on the support forums. I’m starting to think that Mozilla randomly makes changes to their products just to keep their support forums alive. Ah, well. I guess you get what you pay for.
A few months ago I posted about the portable TARDIS I built (100 Dollar Tardis) and made reference to a possible TARDIS box kite because setting up a tarp and PVC pipe box on a windy May day is recipe for frustration, but flying a kite on a windy May day is a thing of beauty and relaxation. After months of planning and gathering materials, and preparing the materials, but then letting them sit on a table for weeks, I finally finished it.
I am indebted to Dover press, who reprints the craziest out of print books, including 25 Kites That Fly, which I used for some of the technical aspects. Mostly just the ratios of the dimensions since it was originally published so long ago that the suggested materials are not only unobtainable, but also difficult to understand.
Of course, as it is now August and not May, I can’t test it out right now. Box kites are notoriously easy to fly in even the gentlest wind, but this is a big sucker (18″ x 18″ x 36″) and it will need some consistent winds to lift. But it’s always insanely windy in October, so I may try it then instead of waiting until next year.
Okay, technically they aren’t called ghosts, but it’s easier to call it that than it is to look up the official name (if there even is one). This is the latest in a line of nerdy crocheted hats that I’ve made for myself, making my kids cry and wonder why I never make anything for them. (Don’t worry kids, you’re next!)
As you can see, I made the ghost on the run from the big yellow ball with wedge mouth. While I just preferred this design, maybe it was a subconscious reminder not to wear this super warm hat out into the sun.
Apparently my blog is getting better results on search engines. My comments are blowing up with spam. About a 500% increase. Awesome.
Usually I go through the spam, page by page, but with over 1600 of them over more than 80 pages, I just deleted it all. So if you had a legitimate comment, but you write like a spammer, your comment was lost. I suggest you learn to write better.