Quilt pattern in a painting

28 03 2016

Seen in my hotel room:


LAX: From hellhole to a pleasant experience

28 03 2016

I haven’t been through Los Angeles Airport (LAX) for several years — where possible, I’ve avoided it since Qantas started flying direct from Sydney to Dallas. But this trip it was unavoidable because the conference I’m attending is in Portland, Oregon.

To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. LAX has gone from being a hellhole to be avoided at all costs to something closely resembling a pleasant experience (assuming that ANY airport experience can be pleasant).

Arrival: Before

It started with the arrival. Previously, you had to walk forever down dark soulless corridors to get to immigration and customs in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). Then if you weren’t a US citizen, you had to go to the ‘Aliens’ line and queue for many minutes (the longest I’ve waited was more than 90 minutes) in hot conditions, and be herded by less-than-polite security and crowd control personnel. Eventually you’d get to the front of the line, where a sullen-faced person would process you — take all your fingerprints (not even the Australian government has my fingerprints!), take a photo, look you up and down several times, question why you were coming into the US, and eventually stamp your passport or a slip of green paper to put into your passport.

After that, you had to find your baggage carousel and jostle with hundreds of others for your luggage (no different to any other airport) and then join a very long line to go through customs and answer more questions. Once that was done, you could exit to the arrivals hall and then out into the street to find your transport to wherever you were going, or, if you were connecting to another flight, you went a different way to drop off your luggage and then had to walk outside and to the terminal for your next flight (yes, I know there were airside shuttles, but they were hard to find and weren’t as quick as walking!). Once you were outside, you could be accosted by hawkers trying to sell you stuff or help you with your bags (for a ransom, no doubt). If you were connecting, you had to get to your next terminal via the dodgy pavement, and then go through security in that terminal to get to your gate. As far as I’m aware, if you were connecting to another flight in several hours’ time, you couldn’t go back into the international terminal and your airline’s lounge (Qantas for me) and hang there until close to the time of your next flight.

And you always had to allow at least an hour for this arrivals process — and there were no toilets from leaving the plane until after you’d left the baggage claim area and customs.

Arrival: After

The new arrivals corridors at TBIT are light, airy, surrounded by glass and go over the top of the main concourse below. And I’m pretty sure I saw signs for toilets along the way. When you get to the air-conditioned immigration area, you can go into the US citizens line or the ‘Visitors’ line (we’re no longer aliens!); however, there’s also an ESTA line, which is NOT clearly marked, for those who have an ESTA and are on the same passport they’ve used to enter the USA in the previous two years. This line takes you to the electronic scanners — two of the scanners wouldn’t ‘read’ my name correctly and one of the staff had to help me on the third scanner (that was frustrating but not as frustrating as waiting in line in the heat for hours). Once your receipt is printed, you bypass the other lines and go to an immigration officer who does a very quick final scrutiny that you are the same person as the receipt and passport say you are, and that’s it. All over in a matter of minutes. That said, LAX could learn a lot from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport who have this down to a fine art — they use colour-coded lane dividers and signs to direct people to the correct lane; at LAX, all the lanes and signs are the same colour and you can’t easily find where you have to go if you have an ESTA.

Once immigration is done, you collect your baggage and head towards the exits. There’s a final check of your receipt (I think — can’t remember), and then you’re headed towards either the exit to the arrivals hall or to the baggage drop for your connecting flight. It was at this point that the quick process up until now was held up. The corridor leading to the connecting flight bag drop was filled with people — about 6 people across and as far as the eye could see. However, the line kept moving, although it was slow.

All up, I estimate it took about 20 to 30 mins from getting off the plane to heading to the exits.

Once your bags are dropped you now have a couple of choices — you can either do as you’ve always done and head out to the street and walk to your next terminal (or catch a shuttle), or you can head back into TBIT, go upstairs to departures and go through TSA security there, and then make your way to your other terminal (Terminals 4 to 8 only) via the airside (i.e. after security) walkways. If you have plenty of time between connections AND you’re a Qantas Club member, you can now go back to the Qantas Business Lounge or Qantas First Class Lounge (yes, two separate lounges now at LAX! And both are HUGE compared to what they were) and have a shower, have a bite to eat, a drink, relax etc. until you need to get to your next flight (Note: Your next flight will NOT be called if it’s from another terminal!!).

When you’re ready to go to Terminal 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 leave the Qantas lounge and turn left — at the end of the corridor is the above-ground walkway to Terminal 4. It takes maybe 10 minutes to walk to your gate in T4. If you need to go to T5 or T6, go to Gate 44 in T4 first, then down two escalators and follow the signs — this connection is underground. It takes about another 10 minutes to walk from T4 to T6, so make sure you allow enough time to get from TBIT to your terminal. I didn’t know where to go or how long it would take, so I allowed a good hour before boarding time to get to T6. There are also upper level connections between Terminals 6 and 8. See here for a map and the gates where you access the connectors: http://www.laxishappening.com/assets/pdf/LAX-CTA-South-Tunnel-Map.pdf

NOTE: If you are a Qantas Club member (not just a frequent flyer), you can usually get into another OneWorld partner airline lounge by showing your card (Admirals Club for American Airlines; Boardroom for Alaska Airlines). Be aware that these domestic lounges are NOTHING like the Qantas lounges — food will be limited, drinks aren’t free, and there are no shower facilities. There’s also limited space, so you’ll likely be squashed in with a heap of other people.

As I have to go through LAX on my way home, I’ll update this blog post later about the process in reverse. With luck, I’ll just clear TSA in Portland and not have to deal with any more security lines after that!

Update: Yes! I only had to clear TSA in Portland!! Once I arrived at T6 at LAX, I stayed airside and connected via the underground and above-ground walkways to TBIT. No more security checks!

Tea discrimination

27 03 2016

I’m currently in the US for a conference. After a nice long walk this morning, I had breakfast in one of the hotel’s restaurants (I looked to eat elsewhere but it was Easter Sunday in a downtown area and nothing else was open).

When I first sat down my server offered me a coffee, but I declined (I don’t drink coffee) and instead asked for a green tea, which I drink very occasionally. He brought me a tea bag, a pot of hot water, and an empty mug for my tea and a nice big glass of iced water.

After my meal, he brought the check and I noticed that I’d been charged $4 for ‘hot tea’, which I’d had to ‘make’ myself.

As a general interest query, I asked him if customers who said ‘yes’ to the offer of coffee got it for free. He said they did, so then I asked him why coffee is free in many places in the US, but you have to pay for tea. It wasn’t an accusatory conversation — I genuinely want to know the reasoning behind it. Coffee itself is not free — someone has to grow it, harvest it, roast it, package it, export it, import it, distribute it, grind it, brew it, etc. And the price of coffee fluctuates with supply and demand and other economic forces as most commodities do. Yet in the US it’s expected to be provided free with a meal in many places, or as a bottomless cup where you pay a token amount for the first cup (e.g. $2) and can refill as often as you like. Obviously, that’s not the case in specialty coffee places like Starbucks and others.

If a restaurant provides coffee for free then why don’t they provide tea (and soft drinks) free of charge too? And if they charge for tea and soft drinks, then why don’t they also charge for coffee?

Is it ‘tea discrimination’?

Can someone explain WHY coffee is free in many places in the US but other beverages aren’t, despite them ALL being a cost the restaurant has to bear? And ‘it’s always been like that’ isn’t an answer!

By the way, as far as I know in Australia you pay for your coffee by the cup — it’s rarely, if ever, free.

Community Quilt 259

23 03 2016

What a stunner of a quilt this was! The person who made the top used colours that I would never have dreamt of putting together to create the illusion of a colour wash, and it was all done with faux pinwheels too.

How to quilt it? I thought about graffiti quilting it, but decided against it, instead choosing to go a bit more formal. I decided to closely quilt the lightest colour of the central area, using McTavishing. For the next layer (light to mid tone pinwheels), I segued into a larger open headband motif in the same variegated cream thread, then finally into a medium-size meandering stipple in a matching variegated cotton thread for the mid to dark areas.

Even though I’m not a fan of traditional applique, this quilt is a real stunner and I hope I’ve done it justice with the quilting I’ve done on it.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec ‘Wheat’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 60300); Superior King Tut ‘Old Giza’ (40 wt, cotton, colour 941)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan, lead gray)


Community Quilt 258

23 03 2016

At first glance, I thought this scrappy quilt was too busy, but on stepping back from it a little, I realised how cleverly constructed it was with the offsetting of the lights and darks creating various optical illusions.

I started by stitching in the ditch along all the diagonal lines, then filled in the dark parts only with a large ‘n’ and ‘u’ stitching pattern, keeping about a half inch between the up and down strokes of the motif. I didn’t use rulers — I just eyeballed the distance, so some are a little closer or further apart than half an inch, but the overall effect is of similarly spaced parallel lines.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)



Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour FB4133)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (lead gray)


Neat as a pin!

20 03 2016

Over Christmas we had an air conditioning condensate pump fail, and subsequently water overflowed into the ceiling space, specifically above the linen cupboard. The ceiling inside the linen cupboard partially collapsed and everything on the top shelf got soaked (we lost two quilts). Fortunately, we discovered it within a day or so, so were able to wash the other linens before mould set in.

Since then we’ve had the pump replaced (and then decided to get ducted air installed), put in an insurance claim (they paid!), and had the ceiling inside the linen cupboard replaced. I decided to purchase tubs for the linen cupboard to store the linen in case anything like this ever happened again. I’d done most of the repacking, labelling etc. but still had a few tings to go, which I finished yesterday.

By using tubs and arranging everything better, I have SOOO much more space in the linen cupboard now!

Here’s the second top shelf with linen and toiletries in vague order (you can see the bow in the ceiling where the water was, and a faint water mark):


And here it is all finished! Almost everything is in lidded tubs, and all the tubs are labelled. Hopefully it will stay like this…




Community Quilt 257

20 03 2016

For this batik quilt, I used a bright yellow thread to stitch large overlapping spirals on the main part of the quilt, and large ‘ribbon candy’ in the piano keys border. I left the inner and outer borders unstitched.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 0600)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (red)


Community Quilt 256

20 03 2016

To counteract the rigidity of the horizontal stripes in this bright jelly roll quilt, I decided to go a bit more organic by stitching all over with circles (aka bubbles or pebbles) of various sizes, in a fluoro orange thread. I left the border unstitched.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Neon Orange'(40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 90811)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (red)


Community Quilt 255

20 03 2016

For this small scrappy quilt, I decided to let the ‘on point’ squares pop by only stitching in the white space. I started by stitching in the ditch around all the squares and the borders, then did elongated curved ‘S’ shapes up and down and across to create the illusion of flowers or cathedral windows in the white space. I left the two inner borders unstitched, and did a large meandering stipple in the outer border.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-tec Glide ‘Cream’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 20001)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Community Quilt 254

20 03 2016

I decided to follow the geometric nature of this quilt made from some lovely batiks and stitched an all-over design of overlapping squares and rectangles. I didn’t use rulers, so not a single line is straight, even though they all look it from a distance.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour FB3040)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)