Friday, September 2, 2016

Whittling away the hours: My First 3 Days of Wood Carving

With a little bit more money coming in from my new freelance work as an independent courier around Seattle for new on-demand businesses like DoorDash and Postmates, I've found myself back in the place where I'm thinking about that little bucket list of things in my head that I've been wanting to do for years, but couldn't because I've been too broke. It's not a super fancy list, as I rather enjoy some of the simpler things in life, but it does grow throughout the years as I find myself staring in the window or at the website, wishing and hoping. Among some of the less expensive adventures on my list, has been wood carving. Ever since I sat down one halloween evening and decided to carve out a profile portrait of my recently deceased AmStaff, I told myself I would try out wood carving some day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy On5 Cellular Phone

Its been just over two weeks since I bought and started using my new Galaxy On5, and honestly, i cannot say I'm overly satisfied with it. For the price and the newness of it, i admit i expected much greater performance and utility.

Now, because i have to use my phone for work, I recognize that i am a bit harder pm my phones than the average user probably is. That being said, the only slightly abnormal use on my end, is constantly running google maps for directions around the city while I'm delivering. And even within that use, my old tired aquos sharp phone, that froze up constantly, could hold a battery charge about twice as long as this new On5 and at very least stayed on if i kept it plugged in. Even on my days off, when i mostly use my Samsung phone for light internet browsing for fifteen mins here and there, i seem to only be able to get a good four or five hours of off the charger time with this phone. Even when i have my On5 plugged into a charger, it still drains and drains until its gone, even if i only have a few very light apps in use. Not cool.

Next, i know it's silly, but for the newness of the software and the Samsung brand name, i was really expecting to see that this phone had gyroscope on it for playing games like pokemon go. To my dismay, the On5 comes with no such features.

On the good side, i do like that this phone has a sturdy windows feature that lets you go back and forth between apps your using, and makes it easy to get back to whatever you were using. I also like the size. It fits in your hand but isn't super tiny either.

Those aren't the only good features of the On5, but I'm having a hard time focusing on them as i struggle to write this very blog, because the Swype keyboard feature in this phone is very clunky and far from intuitive. I also see that my phone, for the second time today, is telling me I'm almost out of storage space again. This is probably my biggest peeves about the On5. It's packed to the brim with useless phone provider and Samsung apps that you cannot uninstall, that take up most of the phones tiny 8gigs of internal space.

Now, this isn't my first time around the block, so i knew when i bought it that it was going to be full of crap apps, so I bought a 32 gig sd card in anticipation of that. I really wish phone providers and manufacturers would get the hint and stop prefilling phones, but until then, i figured a large card should cover everything i want to use.

Sadly, despite the fact that i have over 22 gigs of space still open on my card, the phone still does not seem to understand that it can store pretty much anything on the card. No matter how many times i switch things over to external storage, something you have to annoyingly do manually on this phone, it still stores every junk file and cache on the internal drives, and requires a daily cache wipe and storage transfer if you have more than three or four non native apps you want to use. With most of society using their phones for both business and pleasure, it can be easy to fill up the measly 2.5 gigs you get left with after you disable most of that crap apps.

All in all, I'm upset to yet again have a brand new phone with so many issues with usability and utility. I expected better from you samsung. Truly.

Life After Thirty...

I find myself thinking today, about 5 years ago, when my partner was just turning 31, and he was constantly complaining about how "old" he was, and how much his body hurt, and how his life was already half over, and on and on. He's a cancer, so part of this cycle of thinking is in his nature. Though he wasn't alone, as we had many other friends in their early thirties who had many of the same complaints and concerns.

Being a pragmatic Capricorn, it was a really big turn off to think of myself turning thirty and then suddenly feeling super old and worn out. Its fine if other ppl want to feel that way, but i have this vulnerability complex going on, so i can't have that kind of nonsense rattling around in my head, lol. It had to be some sort of strange social phenomena, a brief moment of midlife insanity, or some strange influence of Saturn's return.

I thoroughly believed it was exactly that until just a few hours ago, while i was lying in the physical therapy office getting shocked with estim pads after having a twist and shout session to try and get rid of my back pain. Laying their on my side, because it hurts too much to lay flat on my back, i started to think of everything that has happened since my wintertime 30th birthday.

Ankle and foot surgery, over a year of physical therapy for two different issues, doctor supervised pain management, extra tiredness, extra weight, not being able to find a single comfortable pair of shoes. And on and on. I realized that while i logically recognized I'm far from "old", it's super easy to "feel" old with my body acting like it's in some new circus act.

Is this life after thirty for everyone?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What is it about Money?

You know, there's just something about money that is so frustratingly illusive.

It's like the mirage in the dessert when you're dying of thirst and heat exhaustion. No matter how close you think you're getting, it's always just out of reach. And even if you do manage to reach it, you'll find it to be nothing more than mounds of sand that forever slips out of your grasp.

It seems like no matter what you do, it's always way too easy to spend five times as much money than you have, and ten times as hard to make it back.

Whenever you have it, life feels easier, even if you have to work until your bones bleed to keep it coming in. When you don't have it, it feels like you're bones are bleeding around the clock even if you're not working at all. When you have it, it's so easy to imagine a million ways to spend it. Part of it obviously goes to the things you have to have to live and be at least moderately comfortable. Then at least another small part needs to be saved. Though the rest... the rest has so many possibilities... You could use some of it to fix that old car that was supposed to be ready to go months ago. Or better yet, you could just sell that car and use some of your new incoming money to get a newer car that wouldn't be such a hassle. Though that would mean getting into another payment plan, which just reminds you of the last time you were sure you could handle a payment plan for a car, and failed abysmally once medical issues occurred that stopped you from being able to work and continue paying those payments.

So scratch the newer car idea. That's not a good plan. Just fix the old car. It's cheaper, easier, and doesn't require a long term financial commitment to any loan sharks.

Though what about other things you don't exactly need, but that would make your life easier... like a new phone that has a battery that will last longer than 30 minutes while you're using it for your independent courier business... Or new tires for the run down car you're using for deliveries.

The mind goes back and forth between all the things that you need to get down, and all the things you've wanted to do for so long. Both types of spending have been on your list for years as your debt only seemed to grow, and that weighs on the mind and you consider what you absolutely need to get done, need to have to keep working, and what sort of wiggle room you could squeeze out of whatever income is coming in.

There's just something about money. Whoever created that first spell either new very well what nefarious magick they were manifesting, or they unwittingly stumbled upon a torturous mistake that they couldn't contain. Either way, they put an energy out into this world that has and will continue to plague human kind for eons.

What is it about Horses?

Multiple times throughout the years, I find myself dreaming and daydreaming of being with horses. Riding them, feeding them, grooming them, heck, even cleaning up after them. At first, it was just the desire to ride them on long quiet trails. Then it became more about the connection, not just a physical connection, but a spiritual one as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Review Buttercream Rainbow Boucle Yarn

I've been recently working to use up some yarn that my mom thought I'd enjoy working with, called Buttercream Rainbow Boucle. The more I work with it, the more I've become drawn to writing a brief review about it, especially considering it's peculiarities.

Buttercream, as far as I can tell, is a newer company, at least in my geographic location. Their brand didn't appear in local craft stores until about a year ago, and since then they've slowly been building their variety. Even with that in mind, nothing really caught my eye in either price or color variants, until my mom and I were taking advantage of the spring sales at Joann fabrics in Lynwood.
The sale prices put the buttercream yarns, which usually run about $10 a skein, were now in the reasonable price zone, and my mom was just fascinated with how soft they felt.

I was a bit skeptical, considering how small and frail the yarn is, but they had some great color variants at this store, and mom was buying, so I happily agreed to try it out.

So far, it's been about a month that I've been working with different variations of the Rainbow Boucle.

I can't say that I'm entirely displeased, though I also can't say I can picture myself going out of the way to purchase this acrylic-nylon blend again. Maybe with like a 75% of discount on some of the racier color variants, or if someone just had some they were giving away. Though at anything above about $4 a skein, I couldn't say I'd be interested in handing over any cold hard cash.

And it's not that the Rainbow Boucle yarn is all bad. I'm actually quite fond of the strangely textured fabric that develops after you crochet it all together. It's advertised as super soft, which it sort of is. Though it's soft mixed with coarse, which is a strange but also oddly pleasant tactile sensation. It's one of those you can't help but sit and pet like a strange little inanimate cat, lol.

I also like that although the yarn is super slim, it actually turns out quite bulky after you've crocheted it all together.

That being said, there are several things about this Rainbow yarn that just turn me off.

First and foremost, this yarn is the stringy finicky yarn that likes to get tangled around your hook, and bind up if you have to go back a row or two. Most of the skeins I've had don't come apart into a bunch of yarn knots thankfully, but the few that did, took days to unknot, and by the time that second day came, I was so frustrated I just cut the tangles out and tossed them, which for me, is atrocious. I can't stand losing otherwise useful yarn, especially to something as ridiculous as skein knots.

These little tangles that pop up frequently, eat away at your time like little yarn piranha, devouring your patience along with it. And because the yarn itself is actually a very tiny gauge nylon string with acrylic fibers sticking out from it, you cannot truly see each stitch like you can with worsted weight acrylics and other larger gauge yarns. Not being able to see the stitches makes it extremely annoying to try and accurately count stitches or keep track of your string tension while your crocheting. For some, this means that every four or five rows you have to pull out at least two rows because you mistakenly added or subtracted a stitch, but didn't notice soon enough because of the way the yarn is.

To avoid frustration, I've just decided to continue on with any small mistakes, correcting them in the next row. Thankfully, one or two extra stitches on an occasional row doesn't show up as blatantly with this yarn as is can with other yarns. Though it's still frustrating knowing that my projects couldn't pass the straight edge test.

Another strange conundrum I've noticed with this yarn, is that whenever you cut, say to wrap up yarn balls, it starts to loosen up. You'd think you'd just need to cut it shorter, but that only increases the problem and wastes yarn. Instead, you have to work in the frayed end just the way it is, which isn't always easy, and results in a loser stitch or two. This is more annoying than anything else, but from a functional aspect, it's also the weakest link and most likely to get caught on something and break.

Rainbow Boucle doesn't work out as well for most of my freeform crochet projects. I'm determined to find a way to work in some skein ends, but as far as working out a freeform project in Rainbow Boucle, I can't picture it happening. Not necessarily because it just can't be done, I'm sure others have or could do it, but because as a functional yarn, Rainbow Boucle is like a magnet. It attracts all manner of grass seed heads, cleaver seeds, cat hair, people hair, pine needles, lint balls, and whatever else you can think of. Worse than that, it's difficult to pick out all the little debris that gets caught in it. Most of my freeform crochet projects turn into wearable items, like shawls or gloves, neither of which a person wants to be picking crud out of four the rest of it's wearable lifetime.

Last but not least, because of the pitfalls of this fabric, I've found that while you can use it with just about any stitch, if you're not looking to spend eons on a crochet project, the best stitch to work is the half double crochet. It shows of the color, doesn't leave to many loose areas, and doesn't get caught on the hook as often.

I think overall, I'd rate Buttercream Rainbow Boucle Yarn with 3 out of 5 hooks.

Itemized Ratings:
Price: 2 hooks, it costs to much for what you get.
Color Variations: 4 hook, I wish there were more worsted weight with these variants.
Texture: 3.5 hooks, it's not super soft, but it is soft, and at last pleasant on the skin.
Portability: 1 hook, don't take this one outside!
Length: 3 hooks. You don't get as much length as you'd imagine from first glance, but 1 skein is at least enough for a medium sized baby blanket (or equivalent project)
Speed: 2.5 hooks, this isn't the yarn to choose if you're looking to whip up a wick set of gloves or anything.

So far, I've set myself towards lighter projects with this yarn. It's not great fit gloves or functional hats, so scarves, altar clothes, medicine pipe covers, and vests have been my go to projects so far.

I'm still playing with the skeins I have left, so if I make any new discoveries with this yarn, you'll be the first to know.

Until then, tell me about your experiences and projects with Buttercream Rainbow Boucle yarn in the comments section!