s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: July 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tale of A.

A. (not his real initial) was a fellow linguistics major, who had two classes with me and Melyngoch one fall semester. The first one was a large, early-morning lecture class with a couple hundred students. The second one was a small afternoon elective, with only half dozen students, plus occasional visitors.

A. was charming and relatively attractive, but he had an odd quirk: He would only talk to the hottest girl in the room. One moment we’d be in a deep, philosophical conversation. The next, he’d have dropped me for a classmate who’d just walked in the room.

In some ways, it was like a perverse exercise in logic. (If A. will talk to B. over C., but D. over B., who’s the least attractive?) In our small afternoon class, the hierarchy was fairly easy to pin down: R. (an intriguing artist) came first, then Melyngoch (with her ever-amazing eye shadow), then me, then E., who was shy and serious. However, none of us could hold a candle to M., the blonde bombshell from our morning lecture class, who really just wanted to drop out of BYU to become a dental hygienist. (If Melyngoch and I saw A. in the mornings when he was chatting up M., he pretended not to know us.)

As much as I appreciate behavior guided by logical consistency, I think I prefer people possessed of a little more kindness and a little less sleaze.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One soul, divided

I like babies.

She likes cooking.

I play the piano.

She's on a mission.

I knit and do hand sewing.

There's one good Mormon housewife between us. (There's also one apostate liberal feminist. Maybe it's better things are divided as they are.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Things I think bawb would find interesting about knitting

Knitting is divided into (vertical) stitches and (horizontal) rows, so knitting patterns are sometimes charted on graph paper. However, stitches aren’t really square – stockinette stitches, for instance, have a ratio of about 8:5 – which means that knitting charts with pictures on them look vertically stretched out. (You can also buy special “knitting” graph paper, with an 8:5 ratio, so that it’s easier to sketch your designs. Or you can mess around with Excel and print your own, but not all knitters are up for that.)

Knit stitches basically look like little Vs. (Like this: VVVVVV) Purl stitches look kind of like equals signs (= = = = =), except that the top and bottom bars are actually staggered, so it’s more like this:

_ ___ ___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___ ___ _

Purl stitches are what the back of knit stitches look like. If you’re making a knit stitch, you’re making a V in the front and an = in the back. If you’re purling, you’re making a = in the front and a V in the back. Because every knit stitch has a purl on the other side and vice versa, there are a number of knitting and purling patterns that are reversible. These include the garter stitch, which looks like this:


1x1 ribbing:


And the seed stitch:


There are many other stitches which are reversible, but they tend to be variations on the above.

Knit stitches (VVVVV) aren’t exactly symmetrical, because of the way that the yarn fibers twist to make the yarn. (One of the sides of the V ends up being more vertical than the other.) You can buy yarn that twists in either direction, so the Vs can be asymmetrical either way.

When you make horizontal rows of knit stitches and then purl stitches (as in the garter stitch, above), the purl stitches stick out.

When you make vertical columns of knit stitches and purl stitches (as in ribbing), the knit stitches stick out.

If you make big checkerboard blocks of knit and purl stitches, you get a basketweave texture, because the knit stitches look like they’re going under the purl stitches, vertically, and the purl stitches look like they’re going under the knit stitches, horizontally.

Knitting is really interesting from a topological perspective, but you can’t always find people to talk to who will properly appreciate it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Postage Stamps: A Svithe

Eotena has a way of seeing God’s hand in events other people might dismiss as coincidences. For instance, she thought it was awesome when she found out I live on Green Street (green being my personality type in the Peircean color system). For all I know, she doesn’t even believe in coincidence. I should clarify that she’s not at all fatalistic; she definitely believes in choice and free will, but she sees patterns in the world which testify of an underlying divine order.

Three weeks ago, I flew to Maine for a job interview. Two weeks ago, I went to mail my thank you letters for the interview and realized that I didn’t have any 41¢ stamps. I went to the post office and ask for a book of first-class stamps, and the postal worker handed me a book of stamps unexpectedly featuring . . . lighthouses. For letters that are going to Maine. I stopped for a second and thought “This is one of those things that Eotena would say was significant.”

To be clear, I’m not saying that I intend to make a habit of looking to the whims of the United States Postal Service for guidance in making major life decisions. For starters, that would limit my other options to
Ohio, Florida, and Tatooine. (Plus, the stamps are actually Pacific lighthouses, so Maine’s not even technically in the running.)

Still I’ve been stressed out for months about my job prospects, and it’s nice to think that maybe Someone’s looking out for me.