Monday, May 27, 2013

So What Have I Been Reading?

Before I start to tell you (about what I have been reading) —I want to talk about GMO's (Genetical Modified Organisms)

There are 3 MAJOR kinds of GMO's. Horizontal(good) and Vertical (Less good), and Chimera GMO's (horrid!)

Horizontal GMO's have been around for centuries. They are common even, in both plants and animals.
Start with seeds, plant them. When you harvest them, save the best—with characteristic A
Plant the best. Save the best again –only now select for characteristic A and B.
Repeat, and repeat, time and time again.

Look for better yields, or stronger (shorter) stalks, faster growing time (less likely to be lost to frost or late season rains.) Over time, these efforts will result in a GMO. Every time you grow and select, you are selection for a GMO of the original crop. Over a thousand (or more years) you can create new organisms.

As time moved on, farmers learned how to IMPROVE by intentionally (controlled) cross pollinating one kind of plant (be it peas, or wheat or what ever) with other plants (short peas with tall peas, or plump peas with drought resistant peas, or any sort of pea, with another sort).
INTENTIONALLY cross pollinated seeds are technically GMO's!
We have a name for these horizontal GMO's—HYBRIDS. They, too, have been around for centuries.

In animals, IN-LINE breeding is another sort of GMO—since naturally, animals avoid mating with siblings (or parents)But In-Line breeding is still Horizontal.

Vertical cross breeding has been going on for a while, too. They are  not uncommon at all. It most often occurs between somewhat related animals. Crosses between horses and donkeys (similar animals) result in MULES.

Mules are called mules because one meaning of the word mule is “STERILE”, and Vertical cross breeding MOST often results in sterile animals (and plants!) Mules are simple vertical GMO's.--But each cross breeding is the end of the line. 

There ARE other vertical cross breeds (dogs with wolfs, or dogs with coyotes ) Some times these cross breeds are viable (that is, they aren't sterile!) They can mate successfully with other like themselves, or with dogs, or with wolves)--but this is Uncommon.

Plants have been vertically crossed with other (related plants) too.
Farmers in the fields have made 2 different kinds of plants cross breed—there is a new grain-TRICICAL—which is a cross between wheat and rye.. (Wheat and rye are both grain/grasses, but are as different as a donkey from a horse.)--and at first, most of this new grain was sterile (the seeds would not germinate.) But over time, a viable version emerged.

There have been other vertical crosses - Some occur naturally, some helped out by controlled pollination) citrus fruits, are one common example. Crosses between oranges and grapefruits, or oranges and tangerines, exist (and are popular) Most often the results are sterile,(the seeds, if any are produced, are sterile) The plants can only be propagated by grafting.

SO—GMO's –whether Horizontal or Vertical are not new, and not entirely evil.

But things have changed. NOW Vertical cross breeding is not done with real live animals, or in the field, or by nature, or with farmers hand pollinated plants to create crosses. It's done in a lab, by intentionally mixing genes from totally different organisms.

Now, companies (READ MONSANTO, for one) are making vertical Chimera GMO's They are crossing plants with animals. Potatoes with BT (a bacteria) or Corn with another bacteria. Goats with spiders. Mice with humans (to produce human insulin)

These GMO's are not natural—( it is possible, that over the course of many thousand of years, some of the chimera type crosses could occur naturally. (but it would be extremely rare)--And it's likely the natural chimeras would be sterile. There are certain viruses that can create Chimeras—but these rarely infect humans.

Modern VERTICAL chimera GMO's are, as the name chimera suggests, MONSTERS. They are not natural, and if in a rare circumstance, they did occur, the result would be a sterile mule.

The food we are eating (these chimeraGMO's ) have been designed to be viable.

BUT—worse than being viable, —the process that make chimera GMO's possible,--is a process that makes the chimera plant DNA (or other DNA) less resistant to 'infection” by other (foreign DNA) These new Chimera GMO's have a tendency to share DNA—all on there own. The tendency (rare in nature) to create chimera GMO's has been bred into the plant.

The chimera GMO DNA is designed to be less resistant (even one could say EAGER) to swap its DNA with others—be they other plants, or insects, bacteria, or for all we know, animals (like our selves!)

Every time you eat a Chimera GMO, you risk YOUR DNA.

Since the Chimera GMO “wants” to swap its DNA with yours--That is-- the chimera wants to add HUMAN DNA to itself, and it can also transfer it's DNA into yours. Maybe not frequently—but if you eat food ever day, (3 times a day), every year, you are taking over 1000 chances--Every year. Over the course of a lifetime, MILLIONS of chances. Chimera GMO's are everywhere! Every meal is full of them. Even if the chance of Chimera GMO infection you is small with each exposure, you are subjecting yourself to thousand and thousands of exposures.

Take Corn.
90% of US crop is Chimers GMO corn. (and corn? You might not eat visible corn (on the cob, or as corn flakes) but on average, 40% of caloric intake is corn. In corn syrup, in HFCS, in corn starch or modified corn starch, in vegetable protein, and hundreds of other food “Products”.

Soy? Even worse! 99% of US crop of soy is Chimera GMO. And again, soy is hidden in many food—as an emulsifier (soy lecithin,) or 'vegetable oil” or vegetable protein, --Soy is every where. You can skip the soy sauce, and still eat lots of soy every day.

The US potato crop is an other Chimera GMO. Every french fry, every potato chip is a gamble.

These are just the big 3. Chimera GMO foods are the foods we eat, every meal, every day.

And because of the Chimera GMO tendency to swap genes, Chickens that eat Chimera GMO corn, become Chimera GMO Chickens. Same too, for cattle, or for pigs. Slowly but surely, Chimera GMO is working its way into every organism. We are becoming less ourselves, and more and more monsters.
And no one knows what kind of monsters we will become. There is some evidence that Chimera GMO's will turn us all into MULES(sterile). Perhaps not in one generation, or two. (Perhaps never.) But right now, no one knows for sure.

Non-GMO (OK, hybrid) foods crops are becoming Chimera GMO –YOU can plant non GMO corn, but if your neighbor plants Chimera GMO corn, it's likely a percent of your crop will become INFECTED with Chimera GMO DNA via natural cross pollination. . No crop is save.

We all know the expression, YOU ARE What YOU EAT—Every day, in every way, as we eat, we are becoming less of our selves, and more of a Chimera. A scary thought.

Tomorrow I will review a book about a scientist who's life work is creating GMO's—the good old fashioned kind—Hybrids. There is the occasional Vertical GMO (simple cross breeding of similar organism—as has occurred with citrus fruit) involved, too, At the same time, he works very hard to save the simple plants that created the hybrids. Saving pure DNA examples of plants is almost as much as his mission as is creating hybrids.

It is a fascinating book—but understand what he does, why he does it, and how it does it, is essential.
Other wise, you just might think him to be a GMO monster maker, too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hello, Remember Me?

I have been gone for a while—I'd love to report everything I did.. (I will) It won't take but a few paragraphs.

I have been reading a lot--Soon I'll give you my reading list--it is some what eclectic.

A little sewing—1 skirt (with a border print) shortened and taken in –the hard way. Off with waist band, pockets removed, inches cut from top edge of skirt, pockets sewn back in, and waist band replaced. The 10 year old denim skirt is almost not worth the effort—except I really liked it.. Printed denim is something special.

A little bit of knitting too. A hat finished—an experimental hat that is well OK, but not really a success. There are always charities in needs of hats. This hat works (as a hat) but...It's not what I envisioned, so it's back to the design board—to work at getting something closer to what I want.

I've started a scarf,too. I love this yarn, and I have been searching for the right thing to make with it.  I'm still not sure this scarf is it. The pattern is a slight variation on Old Shale, with an extra row of garter thrown in--and accented by being worked in a triple strand of yarn. 

A bit of work got done on my web page, too.  First some basic editing-It's amazing how many little errors creep in. It starts as a word document, but then I end up editing after I have uploaded it-- and in seconds, there are missing it('s) or the('s) or there are double IT or double THE—or some other errors.  Its so hard to proofread your own documents.

Finally,  I've made another sampler –and started a second (or 4th-since I have done two of these previously) sampler of cast ons. One thing my list of cast on is missing are images of how the cast on looks. This first sampler features 8 different variations on LONG TAIL.

The second sampler (not yet complete) is going to be worked in two colors of yarn— some of the variations are much easier to see the details if the thumb yarn is worked in a contrasting color. Since I already have the Standard Long Tail and the Open Loop long tail done in 2 colors, I have included these photos—the contrasting yarn makes it easier to see the very slight difference between the two cast ons.

There are some variations of long tail that look ho hum in a single color—but are much prettier in 2 colors. And some variations that are especially intended for 2 colors.

So here  are the first 8 version of Long Tail; (starting at the bottom and working my way up) +2 in two colors.

Standard Long Tail (which can be worked as Sling shot or Thumb method)
Standard Long Tail Cast ON
2 color Standard Long Tail Cast On

OPEN Loop Long Tail—(which can be work Sling Shot, Thumb, or Knit on)
Open Loop Long Tail Cast ON
2 color Open Loop Long Tail Cast on

Twisted Long Tail (call German, or Norwegian, or just plain Twisted)
Twisted Long Tail Cast On

Estonian Long Tail—(a combination of Standard and Open Loop Long Tail worked alternately)
Estonian Long Tail Cast On

Austrian Long Tail-(a Long Tail version that has twisted stitches (in base row)--followed by a twisted rib.
Austrian (twisted stitch) Long Tail Cast on

Double Twisted Long Tail (a variation of the KNIT ON version—the chain that makes the braid effect is not very evident in a single color, but the edge is very attractive, isn't it?
Double Twisted Long Tail Cast on

Forward (standard) and Reverse Long tail- One stitch made in the standard long Tail method, one stitch made by starting the base stitch on the index finger (not on thumb) This cast on is a nice one for double knitting, standard or 2 color ribbing.
Forward and Reverse Long Tail cast on

Braided long tail—the braid is much more evident in the two color version, but this long tail does create an attractive edge in a single color.

Braided Long Tail Cast On

I've started the second sampler -- the contrasting color makes it a bit easier to see the difference between some of the long tail versions--starting with the images  standard long tail—and the open loop long tail.  It is much easier to see the differences  between the two in the two color version.

I will continue the 2 color  sampler to highlight  the differences in some of the other basic long tail variations, Plus I will add some other long tail variations that look best when worked in 2 (or more colors).
It will be followed by a third sampler in the series--double yarn cast ons --Like Long Tail, but not quite, such as the Channel Islands Cast on,  Craig's Cast on,  EZ's style of provisional cast on, and others.

These samplers will be added to Cast on Tutorial (as Part 3 of the tutorial) soon.
I didn't link all these images--but you can find video's for most on my web page (there will be links when the tutorial gets added to the page)

I am working hard to overcome my sense of mental fog, and physical lethargy--Partly why I haven't been knitting or doing much of anything.

I took my bike out for a ride—and was too stiff and lacked the stamina to do much more than once around the block. OK the block is a merged block—It's actually 3 standard city block long, and 2 standard city blocks wide (on one end)--an over sized trapezoid, not a little square-- plus there is a bit of a grade. But no matter—the ride was under 10 blocks in all. Almost embarrassing to mention—considering how short the ride was. But even that helped—I slept better last night, and while I feel stiff today.. I feel better. Curiously, the down grade.. (where I picked up speed) was more uncomfortable than the up grade--I felt slightly out of control. It's been a long time since I have taken a bike ride—but I plan to change that.

I am going to take a long walk today (between the rain drops!) —to keep up some physical activity. Tomorrow I have a party(graduation) to attend. The sub way –and up and down stairs getting there and back) will give me some activity—especial because A) I will be bringing my own chair, and B) I have to change from subway to the elevated line mid trip—so there are extra stairs. In a bit of optimism, I'll be toting a small sun umbrella too. Thought likely it will be needed more as a rain umbrella.

I'll finish out the Memorial day weekend at the pool. Sunday is supposed to be clear (no rain) and Monday even better. Hopefully, my mood will be improved, too.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Long Time, No Posts

Not much going on—so not much to write about. But eventually, (now
) the small bits and pieces add up.

A new denim skirt completed—a good match to the denim vest. Not a perfect match—but that the good thing about denim—it doesn't have to be. This vest was last seen back in the beginning of April—when it was still under construction. Since then, its been finished—and had stud buttons nailed on—a nice touch for a denim vest, I think--and worn.

The skirt will go well with other other vests (especially, I think the red one)--It's nothing special 6 gores and little bit of kick at the hem; elastic waist—and some top stitching. It could have been done in a day or two if had just stuck with it. But it's done now. (I need to focus on the good!)

While there was blue thread in the machine, I finished up some mending (for friend) and for myself—a pair of jeans--currently the only pair of jeans that fit..(all of the others are way to big!) got a new zipper put in. It's a real chore to replace a zipper in jeans. I am not sure why I went to the effort. I don't wear jeans much—never did. As a teen I like cord's better. And that's been pretty consistent for most of my life. It's not that I haven't owned (and worn) jeans occasionally---it's just more often when I wear denim its skirts or dresses of some sort. And when I did wear pants, they were more likely to be tailored trousers, or twills  (ie, colored jeans, which are now once again in style) Still it's nice to have a pair of jeans that fit.

I've got a little knitting done... First—I got the buttons sewn on the lacy blue sweater vest (—so now its really finished. A bit done on my socks (languishing since forever... I started them in January and they still aren't half done!) and started a new sweater like thing-- but I am not loving it.. I have to decide if I am going to finish it.. or frog it. Every time I look at it, I think, more and more—FROG IT.

Mostly, I have been reading. I love my NOOK, and have filled it with books—it's amazing how many ebooks one can buy for $50—I have one or two pieces of fiction--(well semi fiction) Stories based on historic characters—presented in fictional vs historical style. The rest has been non fiction. A little history (real history) a little science –some biology, some ecology, some just about nature. Most are a few years old—and have been—for want of a better word—remaindered--a few were under a dollar, the bulk of them under $3.

I haven't read everything I bought yet—so there will be more days and evening filled with reading and not with knitting to come.

There is more sewing to come too.

And that's about it!