Chunks of Pi

My friends and I have been rather tardy in going to see The Life of Pi at the local cinema, but we managed it last Sunday night. I thought that the book was un-filmable, even without modern CGI effects and animatronics, but the movie was an enthralling adaptation of the book in startling 3D [we wore Clark Kent glasses].

Scene from the movie

Pi & Richard Parker

We were all very happy with it and I felt rather inspired by what I saw, which is unusual for me. For the very few who might not have read the book by Yann Martel [Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize] nor seen the recent movie, it is about a boy who finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a tiger after a ship sinks containing his fathers entire zoo exhibits.

When I first read the novel, which is quite short, I liked it OK although I didn’t think it was great. The writer seemed to go well for the first third of the book and then hit the doldrums, just like the boy in the lifeboat! To my mind the symbolic and philosophical themes didn’t seem to progress for a long interval and I was tempted to abandon ship/book. However, I knew there had to be some sort of resolution, so I went along for the ride. I was rewarded in the end and concluded that the book was an allegory of nature, growth, life and death, where the elements could each mean a number of things, depending on the mindset of the reader. I didn’t relate the themes to my life at the time, but seeing the interpretation of the book by Ang Lee (of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame- is he getting stuck on tigers??), I felt quite touched. As said by reviewer Gary Krist in the New York Times Review of Books;

Pi understands that his own survival depends on keeping his ferocious opponent alive and well — ”because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker.”

Pi to multi decimal places

Pi, as Pi writes it on the blackboard

The film said to me “Get your tasks of necessity over with and just enjoy doing your own thing. Life won’t come back and give you another go.” That’s quite revolutionary to me at this stage of my life. For years I have been wanting to get my Masters degree and find a job in Public Health, preferably in Policy and Research because I am so drawn to them in many waking moments. However, no one has been very encouraging and I haven’t gained any jobs or scholarships to study further yet, having arrived at a sort of “fallback” position of trying for a PhD for lack of a job. I figured I could still immerse myself in the subject area even if I couldn’t work in it. With the stimulus of Pi I may be shifting my thinking to accepting I have finished my working life and settle for enjoying the crafts and hobbies I can still do with my disabled hands and wrists.

I will still need to learn to value myself and accept I am worth Spotrick supporting financially as my childhood background has almost brainwashed me into thinking I must always have an independent income. At least now I have been unemployed for many years I have somewhat forgotten what it’s like to have my own money to spend the way I wish [while keeping up my household contribution, of course]. It’s still fairly sad for me to see friends going away on holidays to places I had planned to visit before the end of my life, but I am trying to experience those things vicariously now. I have been asking my friends to take lots of photographs when they go away – photos of the places, rather than the standard touristy pix of “me in front of the Tower of London” sort! My friends are beginning to co operate, but they take a bit of flogging [you know who you are, LOL!]. I still get tears in my eyes regularly when I see places on my Bucket List on the internet, but I’m improving.

Scottish loch

Scottish loch

 

So this week could be quite influential for me and I haven’t changed my mind yet in the light of a week’s distance or reality biting.

Does this sound like a good thing? Have I missed something that’s going to wreck it all?

Comments welcome.

Here are some reviews of the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/life-of-pi/

Acknowledgements: Pi poster with multi decimal places http://hoffnermath.files.wordpress.com/2009/

Movie poster: http://theawesomer.com

 

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I’m Everywhere I’m Everywhere [in the USA]

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
207
people with the name Kay Walker in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Since I’m Australian, the proportion would work out that there are probably 14 or 15 of us over here!

When I was on Facebook I had 7 Friends named Kay Walker. We used to wish each other Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas. I am keenly following the education and career of one of us who is a college student at a place oddly named [to me] Quinnipiac University & has a small photography business. My regular readers will know I’m also a keen photographer.

Kay Walkers of the world

Kay Walkers of the world

On Google Plus I have a Circle titled Kay Walkers of the World with 6 members so far! At one stage when I was a health researcher and publishing regularly, I discovered two other Kay Walkers in academia, both of whom were also in health: one in nursing research and the other in allergy. I know of three MALE Kay Walkers, but none have joined me on any of the social media sites. Where are you, guys?

While I was researching some health conditions in Australia, a person with my name presented themselves for an assessment interview, so Kay Walker interviewed Kay Walker. Another coincidence was when I was registering for the local artists’ festival [SALA] as a glass artist and discovered I had already registered as a print artist! That was a bit scary!

Cat by printmaker Kay Walker

The Cat Bed by printmaker Kay Walker

Lastly, there is also a TV director/producer in Australia with my name which explained a very strange incident where I was sent an urgent message to please contact someone on a TV show team in Sydney NSW. When I rang the number they were very puzzled to hear I was a health researcher from Adelaide, not the prospective producer they wanted to employ!!

 

Has anyone else had such amusing or alarming experiences with name-doubles?

By the way, although there are so many Kay Walkers, I have absolutely no problem with identity confusion! I know who I am. Who are those others??

Obviously lots of us die all the time, eg. there were at least ten pages of obituaries at http://www.iannounce.co.uk/United-Kingdom/23/Obituary/obit?_fstatus=search&keywords=Kay%20WALKER

We're dying everywhere!

We’re dying everywhere!

But I couldn’t find any new birth announcements- I think Kay is a little passe!

 

Who gets the most?

I just came across this dress advertised on MyCatWalk.com.au. The price is $435 and it’s designed by Ginger & Smart. So what?

Ginger & Smart $435 dress

This dress is a T-shirt with some pieces of silk chiffon sewn onto it! That’s all! Why is it $435 and who gets the lion’s share? I’m sure I’ve seen similar dresses online from overseas made from the same materials with similar simple style and they are something like $30 to $40 (au). Sure our labour is more pricy but we don’t even get to buy this dress at $100 here- it’s $400+. Obviously the designer should get something and the shopkeeper needs a little to keep them in business. The transport on one dress could not be huge, particularly if it weighs only 200 grams max- silk is almost lighter than air! So, who gets the most? I’d be interested to hear from people in the know!

I can’t afford anything, really, as I have no independent income any more, but I could probably justify spending $30 on a nice fine cotton T-shirt and another $30 on some silk chiffon. If I looked for the cheapest silk chiffon and didn’t mind the print, it might be considerably cheaper, eg. at XS Fabrics, which are virtually around the corner from my place. However, they have bolt ends etc. from designers who have used all they need for a range, so there is not much choice in what’s left. However, it’s massively cheap for some things.

This butterfly wing print has beautiful colours but it’s a little pricier than I would like, although it wouldn’t bother most people: $28/metre. There are lovely plain colours for only $16, so they’re a possibility. You would need more than a metre for most sizes, but not a lot more- depends on your height, mainly. I could see this print pairing beautifully with a black, red or lemon yellow T-shirt. [Hint: If you can find a men’s T-shirt in a fine, soft summer weave, you’ll get more length so you won’t need an underslip.]

Butterfly print silk chiffon

Any half-competent sewer could make this dress at home: The T-shirt might be shaped a little at the waist if you like that and then the chiffon cut carefully, using the T-shirt as a template [or making a paper pattern from it]. You can see how the front chiffon panel is attached upside down at a position just below the neck and then pressed down over the seam. Look on the original site and you’ll see lots of detail if you zoom in. The back has some further pieced sections, but you could achieve the same overall impression repeating the front arrangement.

As long as you finished edges and seams super-neatly and ironed carefully, this dress could be yours in one afternoon!

I’m almost tempted to have a go- I wonder what XS Fabrics have in store to whet my appetite? Maybe that soft brown palm tree on the white background…hmm. 😀

Milan, Senegal/Dakar, Italy

Milan, Senegal/Dakar, Italy.

Amazing colours in chairs from the Milan Design Fair

The colours and combinations in this article from Hand/Eye are just the thing to perk me up. If only I could just immerse myself in all these colours like a multi-orgasmic dye-bath!

I think that if I lost my sight, life wouldn’t be worth living. If I couldn’t hear music any more, that would be devastating, but I could go on. Without colour I would fade away.

Do you still call it “material”? Fabric indulgence.

Was flipping through some Google pages when my attention was grabbed by this pleasant- looking fabric:

Rather pleasant, I think

I’ve been picking out some fabrics for a couple of projects as I received a little cash for some work I did a while ago. Treats come rarely around here at the moment, so I’m indulging myself in small doses.

I get regular updates via email from Duck Cloth and saw some things I rather fancied for clothes sewing and some crafting. They arrived last Friday and I’ve been looking at them alongside some pieces I already have. My inclination is to make a Red Diamonds Quilt like the Kaffe Fassett classic from the original “Patchwork” book.

For a clutch of red fabrics I’ll need a few more new bits (whee!) so I ordered a few from Kelani Fabrics and have spotted some beauties at Fifi’s Fabriholics. For my (smaller) version of the Red Diamonds quilt

Kaffe Fassett Red Diamonds

I’ll need 9 diamonds in each of 14 colours. Already I can see 5 fabrics in the (visible part of) stash, so I need maybe 6 more to make a good selection to choose from. They all have to be fairly dense and vivd- not many white splashes of baby colours in the prints. It looks as though alternating very small and large prints by rows is one technique I could use, but I’ll decide when I have a mass of diamonds cut out to play with 😉

Quite often I decide I will make an item of clothing incorporating some craft fabric to get a different look. Too bad if people look at me and think I’m wearing a quilt- I like to experiment; if I like it, the garment gets finished; if I don’t it might get chopped up for a quilt later! I bought a piece of Nani Iro double gauze

Nani Iro Fuccra teal

as I thought it would combine nicely with some navy blue ribbed interlock and make a nice summer skirt. I also bought some of a new Valori Wells large print of flowers and birds for the same purpose.

Valori Wells Linen/cotton

Meanwhile, I’m completing a floral skirt for which I made up the pattern as I went along! I wanted it to be easy, wit at least a partially elastic waist to avoid zips. I figured out I’d have a small curved yoke in front and a gathered back straight from the elastic. None of my friends ever wear gathered skirts as I do- I think its because they feel tey have big thighs and bums and they want to look narrower. My thighs and bum are quite small compared with the top of me, so I puff out my bottom half a bit and try to reduce the top by using darker colours and fitted sleeves- no billowy details! Since I’m very short, I don’t bother trying to increase the illusion of height- its a lost cause; just concentrating on getting a balance of top and bottom is enough.

Now to find those links and images to show you what I’ve been on about.

Day 10 NaBloPoMo: Getting ready for Christmas

As usual I have left if fairly late to do special things in preparation for Christmas.

Dangle moose

As a kid, there wasn’t much preparation and I didn’t learn to get into a routine more than a few days before the day! My parents and I lived in a coastal town hundreds and thousands of kilometres from any family- so I didn’t know about “Big Christmases” with several generations of family or piles of friends.

We generally have a little Christmas tree, mainly decorated with reindeer and mooses!

Chrismoose

We have a potted pine in the backyard which has served us well for may years,

Tripod Christmas tree

Tripod Christmas tree with mooses

but the elements devastated it during the heat and drought of 2009. Instead we had my photo tripod decorated with tinsel and the mooses!

Over the past ten years I have done less and less for Christmas, firstly because of my deep depression and secondly because our household income has halved over that time.

Before that time, I would prepare Christmas edibles several weeks ahead and pre-buy ingredients that might become out of stock in the shops before Christmas- things like fruit-cake ingredients, summer berries, cherries, seafood and turkey breast rolls. In recent years I have rarely done any of these things, including failing to make my “famous” chunky individual fruit cakes. I used to bake several batches of these every year and give all my friends and colleagues at work an individual Christmas cake! They are yummy things and I should try to make them this year- onto the list they go! [I’ll put in the recipe if I can find it].

Other things I used to do were: making some assembled jewellery, eg. earrings, necklaces and bracelets, to give to female friends and random extra drop-ins; some lavender wreaths to hang on doors (made from our own lavender spikes from the garden tied to round twig frames from Spotlight); small framed prints of suitable photographs as presents; a few larger prints of things people had admired during the year; patchwork or knitted cushion covers for a few friends and similar stuff.

This year I have a list, but haven’t made many things on it! Perhaps I’d better do more than just start on two things and attempt to finish a few, LOL! I have the makings of a sewn vest for one friend (it is rather odd, but it’s her thing!); a sewn clothing item for my partner- can be made in 2 hours; wheat bags for warming and soothing aches ( I have the wheat, some special dried lavender to scent some of them plus bamboo velour, furry fabric for the outside casings!)- I’ll make some long snake ones for the neck and some rectangular ones for miscellaneous sore spots. Both men and women will like those! I also have some felt that I made myself, to be incorporated into a cushion cover for a friend with a new green-themed lounge room addition to her home. I also have several sewing projects to do for myself, which can be organised around other activities- one is a sort of fancy T-shirt with bamboo jersey and flock-spot voile in panels- all cut out and ready to stitch! Then I’m going to dye it yellow because I want to. It’s a bit like a Marcy Tilton design, but not- definitely NOT a copy of anything exactly either…

Tomorrow I will buy the ingredients for the mini Christmas Cakes, provided the shops still have some of the glace fruits involved. I’ve found the recipe, which is adapted from one in Gourmet Traveller magazine many years ago- he exact source lost in the mists of time! (Da-da da-dahhh…):

Grumba’s Mini Chunky Fruit Cakes

Basically heaps of fruit and nuts stuck together with a little cakey stuff!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of slightly chopped cashews, macadamias and hazelnuts. You can use brazil nuts also, but some people find them too hard when they cook.

½ cup of whole raw almonds, skins on

1 cup of dates stoned and chopped
1/3 cup roughly chopped glace peach
½ cup roughly chopped glace apricots

½ cup roughly chopped glace figs

Glace pineapple is optional- a few chunks won’t hurt!

1/3 cup glace ginger
½ cup raisins
1 1/2 cups plain/baker’s flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dark brown sugar

60gms melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to slow … around 140 deg C.
Place some patty-pans or cupcake papers in a 12-hole muffin pan.

 

 

Cream the softened butter and dark brown sugar till light coloured. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for a minute or two.

In a bowl mix all the fruit and nuts together, sprinkling lightly with some of the flour to stop them clumping.

 

Sift the remaining flour and baking powder together and mix them into beaten egg/butter/sugar bowl.

 

Take this bowl off the mixer stand and add the bowl of fruit and nuts. Stir with a sturdy metal spoon- very tough on both wrist and spoon handle, so DON’T use a wooden spoon- I’ve broken heaps over the years!

If the mix seems runny, add some more raisins and maybe a teaspoon or two more of flour. If it is crumbly and won’t stick together, beat another egg and add it gradually- stop when it all clumps and sticks.

 

Wash your hands and nails thoroughly as this is where it gets really messy! Now pick up lumps of mixture, mould into rough balls and press into the paper cups/whatever. Make sure they heap up above the paper as they won’t really rise. Use all the mixture on the 12 holes.

 

 

Slap it into the oven- don’t use fan-forced for very long as it will dry them out too much. After 20 minutes, take a look. Turn oven 5 degrees up or down to get them finished in roughly 30 minutes total. ·They burn easily because of all the fruit and brown sugar. You can go to around 40 minutes if your oven is a bit dodgy but be careful or you’ll end up with something you cannot cut or bite!

Serve them on their own with tea, coffee and optional whisky or sherry! We sometimes serve them chopped in half as a whole one can be difficult to eat in one sitting, especially when you’ve been indulging in all the other Chrissy stuff!

NB. Don’t give them to great grandmama who has false teeth!

Shopping and alpacas

As usual for a Saturday we did the weekly shopping- special ingredients this week were the makings for Turkish Wedding Soup (chicken meat to go with the carrots, capsicums, lentils and stock we already had in the pantry). I’ll put the recipe in when I get a photo of the finished noms.

Clean and quiet in their pens

Clean and quiet in their pens

A few hours of the afternoon were spent at the Alpaca Breeders’ Show at the Wayville Showgrounds- free and we parked in the street!
Loads of photos came out of this- the animals’ faces were so sweet and cute- such lonnng eyelashes (as I guess they ARE members of the camel group), such lovely fur colours and so soft.
Sweet alpaca face!

Sweet alpaca face!


We wandered freely amongst the alpacas in their little pens- all very clean and not smelly. I was able to take as many photos as I liked in there. However, when we came out to look at the “products” made from alpaca hair/fur we came across a strange group of women selling clothing who were very thingy about photography. They asked me to wait and ask the head person for permission to put the photos on Flickr- they were quite happy for me to take the photos but not show them to anyone. I waited and waited- the head person wasn’t making any effort to allow me to speak to her, so I have the photos, I’m putting them on Flickr and I’m NOT putting a link to their website, as I would have done if they’d been nicer!
Finished items made from alpaca yarn

Finished items made from alpaca yarn

What the f**k do they think I am going to do with photos of a few jumpers and scarves? Weird!
Unfortunately (and I think, unwise commercially for them) there was no ready spun tarn for sale to satisfy the knitters and weavers amongst the visitors. I would have bought a little of the lovely soft yarn if they’d had any- but alas, no opportunity.
I have purchased yarn from the Rare Yarns Company using their online service in the past. I absolutely love the look and feel of their products! The natural colours are varied and appealing, while the dyed yarns have some gorgeous rich shades. For example:
Rare Yarns Cherry Astrakhan Yarn

Rare Yarns Cherry Astrakhan Yarn

The return of psychedelia

I had this amazing set of dreams last night- I’ll have to blog about it! There were millions of little fish shapes in 3D cut out of paper on pages I was trying to read, the fish cutouts swirled and curled like a printed endpaper into waves and paisley shapes- very psychedelic. If you can imagine that each little segment of the print below is a tiny paper fish, you’re on the right track!

Marbled endpaper similar to my dream imagery

Marbled endpaper similar to my dream imagery

There was also a horse trying to suck on my hair- it was in the bedroom trying to wake me up- thank goodness it didn’t have foul breath and I didn’t seem to be allergic to it in the dream, as I am IRL!

Considering all the animals around, it was just as well there was also a pile of vets who inconveniently drove away with seven children with muddy feet  in a small car.

There were an awful lot of my [deceased] Uncle Norman’s rust coloured cattle dogs; a university flat with too many people in it (including a past work colleague who was not impressed with the lack of space); some exotic flowers, like very branched grevilleas, that I put in a salad and the Queen came to inspect an ecologically sound road-building project! “They” said it was eco-friendly, but it looked like the usual pile of jagged boulders chopped off some hill and dumped in a ravine!

Maybe some of it was inspired by Evangeline’s tales of the early 70’s when she journeyed from derelict houses in the hills to Adelaide Uni to buy LSD tabs from a large bikey!
I’m having trouble making the miniature paper fish, so I may have to draw one! Mine are not much like this, but  it’s great, so I’ll insert a pic:

Won Paks Rupiah Koi

Won Pak's Rupiah Koi

I’ll put a photo of my own paper fishie when I’ve made it presentable.

Progress- Da-dah!! on the five projects meme

I have made a little progress on some of my five projects for the Five Projects Meme started by Rantz.

On the project involving making beads from my glass work so that they can be threaded, I have discovered that a Nichrome wire can be baked and fused into the glass without it melting and getting out of shape. This means I could make pendant-style beads. Since I don’t do hot-torch bead-making, the difficulty with fused kiln-formed glass is getting an actual hole to stay open! Usually glass just melts into a flat lump or patty unless there is something heat resistant for it to “mould” around that doesn’t make the glass crack. Therefore, a piece of wire to form a loop on the edge would be an easier solution than making a hole. I discovered all this info at “Glass fusing made easy ” and can buy some of the special high-temperature wire at a bead shop not far from home.
I’ve also made some progress on getting some photos of hard landscape. Some recent excursions down the coast and walks around my neighbourhood have yielded a few possibilities:

Fence glow

Fence glow


and
Gate

Gate

Five Projects meme

After being tagged in Rantz’s meme-blog on Five Projects (+1), I am finally having a go on 27Jan 2009.

Pillar of wisdom

Pillar of wisdom

It’s a bit of a trial choosing just five things to nominate as the projects:
1. Enrol in and complete Semester 1 2009 Public Health at Adelaide Uni.
2. Make 5 flat clear glass beads with holes for stringing (never done small things with holes before). Make them in my kiln.
3. Take five semi-abstract photos of hard landscape, eg. Buildings, pavement, sculptures etc, suitable for putting on RedBubble.com.au.
4. Try five new recipes and feed them to Spotrick.
5. Visit 5 art galleries and learn something from what I see.

Plus 1 is even trickier- I’ll leave that for later.

It’s even worse trying to tag 5 people as I’ve already been in some tagging exercises in Facebook and Flickr. I’ll go away and think about that now. Hey- perhaps that could be the +1 project, hehe!