Sunday, March 30, 2008

antonio banderas? got nothin' on Guy Williams. (who needs to come rescue this Californian from the horrible colonial oppression of Physics before I pack up my crap and stow away on the Robert C Seamans. Professor Wittig, Captain Chris, you'll hide me, right? right?)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

you know it's bad when...

...your lab notes say "Try to answer the "prelaboratory assignments" on page 379. That would be a good test your ideas are not too confused to successfully write the lab report."

this is after a good hour's lecture before lab and about 4 hours of actual experimenting.

...also note that lab itself is supposed to be from 1300 to 1615, or 3.25 hours, and 4+1=5 hours...

anyway. On to some Stefanoisms! (pearls of wisdom from the short italian physicist doomed to (try to) teach us physics labs for crimes unknown.)

I was trying to give you an intuitive explanation, but, it doesn't exist.

and the book, it explains- *pause* no, it does not explain, but, it's an article of faith, which, being Easter...*shrugs*

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I like this.

From Frode's mom- St Theresa's prayer. (I think I remember that right).

as always, feel free to substitute God with god, mama ocean, goddess, dog, the inscrutable exhortations of your soul (I love Calvin and Hobbes), the cosmos, or whatever you like.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

I also added "on the path" between 'exactly' and 'where' because I'm not so big on the preordained giant-finger-from-the-sky-stand-on-this-x-here-and-thou-shalt-receive god.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


physics is killing me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dear Tilli Tomas:

I love your yarn. It is beautiful. I mean, really- silver-colored silk with chips of turquoise? (exotica: atmosphere) Orangy-coppery-amber with chips of a similar color, but translucent? (exotica: novea melon) And winding the orange skein on the bus on my way to ochem lab, when the sun hit the silk and the chips, and it just …glowed… mmm. It made me very happy.

Happy enough that I almost- almost- stopped gritting my teeth hard enough to hurt.


The reason? There was no continuity in the plying of the silk yarn and the thin string upon which the chips were strung. Sometimes very tight. Sometimes so loose as to be nonexistent, and running in parallel. Which meant that all the little chips would slide down into a clump, and then they would twist around other little clumps, and become totally enmeshed in a giant clump of deadly, teeth-gritting, stress-inducing annoyance. And I couldn’t get it on a swift. Although that was probably a good thing, since it allowed me to fiddle and poke and resist-the-urge-to-rip-and-instead-untangle all the aforementioned bits of annoyance.

Most of which could have been avoided by a more careful control of the spinning. Or plying.

And seriously, at 40 dollars a skein? I kinda expect it to be well-spun.

Not (in places) a length of fiber running parallel to a string strung with stone chips- you know, something that I could have made for the cost of some orange string, a bag of stone bead/chips, and a skein of silk yarn. Say, 10 bucks total. 15 if the beads/chips were high-end.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


marit SMASH.


...will not elaborate just yet. involves physics. grrrrr.

dipped into youtube briefly to stop the must-kill cycle. fairly entertaining minnesotans for global warming video, even though I haaaate the barenaked ladies.

the heartland institute is so cute. patpat.

anyway. because, as always, the time spent on physics is inversely proportional and exponentially related to the mental faculty of the timespender, here's what makes me giggle and not want to indulge my id.

scrawny nordl├Žnding: whaddya think?
VG-reader*: hm?
SN: you're reading the VG. whaddya think about the arts, lifestyle, stuff, sorta thing?
VG-r: I'm looking at bridge.

SN: why don'tcha have a mustache?

which, if you've ever spent any decent length of time in finnmark, makes you laugh. really hard.

*VG is a sort-of-newspaper, sort-of-US weekly, sort-of-magaziney thing published in Norway.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Herbs! Herbs of Doom!

So I went away for the weekend and before I left, I glanced at the herb garden as I was filling its water tank and went...nah, it's ok for now. No Pollei harvest required (that is to say, done while on the way out the door like a thundering herd of turtles) (that probably tells you more than my mum wants you to know- still not quite sure how she survived my formative years).

Now, however, I could ignore it no longer. The cilantro was starting to creep into the couch, and the mint was beginning to reach for the door. (it's the most anemic mint I've ever seen. nothing like the mint I planted in the little pot outside, that laughed in the face of october, when the basil succumbed to colder evening temperatures, and then laughed in the face of november- at least until the scale insects (I think that's what they were, wee little flappy fidgety things that left the leaves and stems all shiny, although there were also a big crop of aphids and a few shiny golden aphidy looking things, although The Internet tells me that golden aphids aren't anywhere near me, geographically and climatologically speaking, although me + never know.) moved in and took everything over. even then, as I was ripping out roots (I'm going to plant a jasmine bush! ...don't look at me like that, james.) I saw some squared-off stubbornly green minty runners.) This mint has tiny little stemlets and very airily-spaced leaves, which are also minute. I'm sure that's just a function of the aerogarden's developers mucking about with the mint so that, towards the end of the herb garden lifecycle, they didn't have mint, parsley mint, two kinds of basil mint, cilantro mint, dill mint, and chives mint. (still. it's weird looking at it.)

(...that right there -^ is why Mrs Josephs threatened to make me buy parentheses in high school. it is so not my fault. I blame Cicero. parenthetical phrases in parenthetical phrases in parenthetical phrases in a foreign (dead!) language without punctuation in a legal defense spiel. yeah. my convoluted grammatical structure is "see jane. see jane run. run, jane, run." in comparison, and is merely a representation of my mental processes. and if you dare point out that Mrs Josephs was 10th grade and Cicero was college, I shall point accusingly at my lineage.)

I am currently constructing one of the most non-Kosher meal I can think of- teriyaki marinated pork tenderloin with mushroom risotto with a bacon-maple syrup glaze- which is ok, because The Boy and I are neither of us Jewish and we aren't expecting company. it's pretty non-Halal (Halam? Haram? I can't remember the word for non-halal), too, except that to my knowledge it's ok to have meat + dairy in the same meal/at the same time. Again, not that that makes any difference to us. But it popped into my head when I was putting away the icing that I used to make cookies and saw the little K mark and went...duh...sugar + water + food coloring, how can it not be kosher? (and then I remembered that animal-based gelatins = bad, and while you'd still not expect them to be in icing, you never know with the candy industry.) and it's Friday, so it's good that The Boy and I aren't Catholic.

Anyway. I digress. A lot. (see aforementioned mention of 'indicative of my mental state'.)

The yarn I got for aunt helen's scarf is almost perfect. the colors look great and I love the fact that the colorway I want to do to knit a haida/tlingit styled raven is called 'haida.'

just one problem.

it's superwash.

in a felted scarf.

...this could be a problem. My task after finishing food and finishing my lab (curse you, physics!!!...oh, physics. physics, physics, physics...that's a blog post of a different color. one requiring looots of -OH groups. preferably dark, pint-sized, with a thick creamy 'stach-inducing head.) is to peer around the blue moon fiber arts website and see if they don't make a non-superwash yarn in that colorway.

although that's for after a bit of cleaning.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

cis-norbornene-5,6-endo-dicarboxylic anhydride, who wants to do my organic chemistry labs for me?


you know you want to...

in other news-

Northstar at Tahoe stole my Jayne Hat. was sad day. snif.

My worries about the white fuzz on Aristarchus's fins and the two dots on his gill plates were not unfounded. The combination of fuzz + original tank's filter dying + emergency move to new tank did him in over the weekend. sad day. snif.
(and against all shrimp is still alive, having magically reappeared in the tank after I was certain that they'd all been eaten. it's now wandering around going where's the plants/decorations/etc? where's the giant black scary bringer-of-death?! oh, merciful bounty of food! namnam*snrarlf*namnam)

Auburn Alehouse = really good fish and chips. good day.

Phronima and La Grenouille survived the weekend sans food and light. good day.

Monday, March 03, 2008


...the internet can be beautiful.

a webcomic that I recently (relatively so, anyway) discovered has a comment page. The webcomic itself, Gunnerkrigg Court, is a sort of science/magic/technology/mythology thing that is very prettily drawn. (it reminds me of the cel shading on Windwaker).

anyway. the comic today is somewhat of a setup for a man-science-technology versus land-earth-magic debate, and one person commented about how so often we deem it unacceptable or wrong or bad to admit that something might not be answerable. that we might not be able to find an answer to A or B, and that rather than freaking out about it, we should not think that it is such a terrible fate. that it's ok to not know, and that technology probably shouldn't be the be all, end all of our questions. That person made an analogy to enjoying a sunset or a rainbow, and being annoyed when someone pointed out that those things are created by light reflecting off of water and pollution and other things in the air, etc- they wanted to just enjoy the sunset or the rainbow. there was a footnote, too, saying that for something like cancer, though, they would want to know everything possible, as fast as possible, so that it could be eradicated faster.

there were some of your typical "I disagree" posts in varying degrees of politeness, of course- this is the internet.

and then there was this post by refugee, a response to the original rant-about-the-absoluteness-of-knowledge post-

...if you want to cure cancer, you have to know how the rainbow works, and the work only gets done by people who love the explanation as much as they love the rainbow.

and I paused, and went...yes. very true.

I wish that something like that could be printed in every science textbook, because every so often I hear people's reasons for why they're studying what they're studying or working where they're working and I cringe- like the guy in my last physics class who is going to med school to get his that he can get his PhD in psychology. he has no desire to practice medicine, ever.

that terrifies me. and saddens me. and makes me go...but...but...but...

It's like when I was trying to teach my small language group about the international polar year so that we could make an advertisement for it for one of our evening programs. I told them of our task, and then of our topic (IPY), and they groaned. They didn't want something boring, they wanted something cool, like kvikklunsj (norwegian KitKat) or kosetime (activity period). I said no way, dude, IPY is so much cooler than kvikklunsj or kosetime, and started explaining what it was and why it was so much cooler than it sounded initially.

and I got a 12-13 year old girl shrug/sigh and a "whatever, let's just do something easy and get it over with" in response. I felt like I'd been punched in the sternum, and it wasn't until much later that summer that I really realized how much it hurt.

much later that summer I was asked to guest-teach a class, again about IPY or something similar, and I was very nervous because...why were they going to care? they were even younger than my small group, there were more of them, and really- learning about foreign concepts in a foreign language is not the easiest of things to do. especially at 10. but I prepared (sort of. I had lots of colors of whiteboard markers and a small whiteboard. that counts for a lot, at times.) and I walked over to give my spiel. I had games planned. the great old standard, bop- (i.e. shout someone else's name so the 'it' person doesn't tag you and has to run to them), pictionary*, etc.

we didn't get to any of them.

instead, they derailed me into a discussion about oceanography and how currents shape the weather/ photosynthesis/ el nino-la nina-el viejo/ and and and...all stuff that I had just spent a semester studying. and not just "ocean big, ocean make wind go, little things in ocean make big things in ocean, us eat big things, what do you think?" (that's what I started with, but they kept asking questions, and I'd answer them, and they'd ask different questions, etc.)

when I found myself trying desperately to think of the norwegian words for diel vertical migration and carbon sequestering, my brain sort of shut down. I remembered that I was talking to 9-10 year olds. (what is that, second grade? third?). my fellow counselors were looking a little strangely at me. I stopped. I took a deep breath. I made a little joke about needing to stop me before I get to geek-out mode, and sorry for the digression, and mentally added the comment of "Norwegian camp. where you're supposed to be using Norwegian primarily and English secondarily." (that's really hard to do when you're in mid-geekout. try it.) I tried getting back on track- (oh, look! norway has an arctic indigenous culture- quick! tell me what you think of that! look! so does the US!).

they revolted. "but why does [the carbon] go to the bottom?" "does norway have el nino?" "where does el nino come from?" "how can you see [algae] from space if they're so little?" ...and they didn't stop until it was time for dinner. They went to the dining hall, and I went to the staff lounge to drop off my whiteboard in a daze. a daze, yes, but an energetic daze. it had been so much fun, and I felt great and excited and some of my fellow staff members were looking at me going...what are you on, and why aren't you sharing?...I was on the rush of teaching something I love to kids, and they were getting into it.

I don't know if any of them are going to remember much of it. I hope they are, or at least enough that at some point down the line they'll hear a snippet of information in class or read a paragraph or see a Jeopardy question and go "hey- coasts like norway are productive because upwelling brings nutrients to the upper waters and the big fish follow the little fish that follow the plankton that follow the nutrients."

or maybe they'll just go "DVM...DVM...why does that sound so familiar?"

and I'll be content with that. if I can be a source of the random 'pop-up-in-the-brain' factoids, I'm happy.

*pictionary is a very strange looking word. picture-dictionary, yes, but also...brings to mind some tweedy professor studying the battle tactics and civilization of the picts. my brain is wired strangely.