Friday, November 30, 2007

Cat Conversations

While I am in Arizona this week, Carina is spending her time with one of my officemates who has a giant kitty of his own. I wonder if their interactions are anything like this:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Science and UnScience

I'm headed to Tucson, AZ today for an astronomy-laden week, complete with a conference and some observing (weather permitting). Among my flight reading material is an essay Edwin Salpeter (yes, as in, the Salpeter IMF [initial mass function]) posted to astro-ph last week with some interesting anecdotes and observations on astronomy pre-1957. On the other hand, if you're looking for something less informative, but perhaps more flavorful, you can read any one of the numerous screeds on the recent hogwash in the New York Times about science really actually being faith in disguise (which, by the way, it's uhm not).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day to be Thankful For

My new idea is to send people to and for whom I am thankful Thank You cards for Thanksgiving. I didn't think of this until today, but maybe it will happen next year. I love the Thanksgiving holiday because it is so unpretentious: get together with loved ones (or at least, people with whom you can vaguely get along during a meal) and eat lots of food. And, of course, the undercurrent of "being thankful" is perhaps a good one, only normally people take "being thankful" to mean "remembering there are a bunch of things taken for granted that perhaps should not be." This happens even when there is a person who should be the receiver of the thanks: why is it, "I am thankful you are here today" instead of "Thank you for coming today"? Any other time of year, it would be the latter, so why the passive voice when we are actively trying to "give thanks"?

Off the soapbox and back to the food. This year, the significant other came to Ohio and we are spending the weekend alone and away from family. We had a duck and sausage stuffing for dinner; even though neither of us had ever cooked a whole bird before, preparing the duck turned out to be even easier than this ostensibly simple duck roast recipe we found online. Staying true to the spirit of the holiday, we made enough food four four or five people even though it is just the two of us. We also bought a bottle of gerwurztraminer, and discovered that wine bottles can be easier to open with a corkscrew than without, and that most of the people in the grocery store on Thanksgiving can be observed talking on the phone asking if there isn't "just one more thing" needed. There was also bread and goat cheese, hot spiced apple cider, and pumpkin pie. We're halfway through a puzzle bought yesterday, and so far, Carina has only tried to eat one of the pieces. I think she's still got a bit of food coma from the bit of duck she had. The next project will be to see what she thinks of the bucket of Legos once its opened and we try to build a Lego castle...

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Dose of Not the Daily Show

Miss the Daily Show? Here's what one of its writers has to say about the WGA strike:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Asked For It

As the lone commenter (so far?) on the previous post pointed out, apparently kitty posts get more comments than art or science posts. So, here is a picture of δ Carina in a trashcan:
I'll probably have another science post sometime this weekend, but in the meantime, anyone have a good lolcat caption?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Science: Still Awesome

Just in case you were wondering, science is still awesome.

First up, synesthesia—the mixing of senses so that, for example, one associates or experiences certain colors with individual numbers and letters—is always cool. I have this to enough of an extent that I would totally love to have it even more. For example, in my mind Thursdays are a deep mustard color, but Tuesdays are a rich green and Wednesdays are a pale blue; I wouldn't be surprised if this association is one reason why I don't have to keep a calendar or datebook. The recent incredibly wonderful thing I've found out about synesthesia is that apparently colorblind synesthetes can experience colors via associations that their eyes are not actually capable of seeing. Brains are so fantastic.

I've been taking art classes at the local cultural arts center since June. Over the summer I took a clay sculpture class, and when I went back on my second week to look at what I had started, I was rather freaked to discover that the piece was partially covered in mold. Turns out, the more microorganisms there are living in clay, the more aerated the clay is, and thus the higher quality it has the potential to be for sculpting. Also in the art department, last week I was working with two pieces of sheet metal (I'm taking a jewelry class now) that I wanted to have have identical borders, so I superglued the two pieces together so they wouldn't move relative to one another as I filed the edges. But then I wanted to, you know, unsuperglue them. The most efficient way to do this, apparently, is to simply anneal the metal—that is, put it under a big torch until the superglue burns away and the pieces come apart. I was working with copper, which normally when annealed turns a nice deep red color, but with the superglue on it, turned a dark grody grey.

It's been all over the news, and I obviously didn't get around to writing this post yesterday, but the Auger collaboration has finally come out with their first big result: cosmic rays appear to not be isotropically distributed on the sky. They come just short of saying that comsic rays are produced by supermassive black holes (specifically, supermassive black holes actively accreting matter), but due to a liberal use of the subjunctive in the paper, this is essentially the take-home message. Chad has already done a detailed analysis of the paper and all that jazz, but he fails to mention the fact that the effective size of the Auger detector, located in Argentina, is roughly the same area as Rhode Island—and they're looking to expand. I'm not sure if this is just a statement of how large their detector is, or how small Rhode Island is, though.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Indie Art Capital of the World

So, apparently Columbus has been named the Indie Art Capital of the World. I'm not really sure what this means, but it is true that I have become a lot more aware of art—and people creating art—since moving to Columbus. In fact, the guy I got δ Carina from (thanks, Craigslist!) is an independent artist; he even gave me a self-printed short comic book (about SPACE! and Dylan Thomas being cool!) as a thank you for taking my new shoe-sized meow-monster.

Probably part of Columbus's new title can be attributed to the monthly Gallery Hop in the Short North area of town (the aptly named neighborhood shortly north of downtown). Art galleries littered along about a ten block area stay open late on the first Saturday night of each month, as the crowds wander from gallery to gallery, bar to bar, shop to shop, navigating the random music being played and jewelry and other random things being sold on the sidewalks. And, in these cases, a place doesn't necessarily have to be a "gallery" per se in order to attract people looking for visual and mental stimulation; if you have open wall space to hang a few paintings on, you're in business. Just tonight bought my first piece of what could be considered, you know, real art: a 12"x18" print of the above pretty lady, Sernity, from Robert Walker, an artist displaying his paintings at a realty office. I was also lucky enough to see the original of Rachell, this purple-haired vixen on the right, who I might have just taken home with me had I had $1000 to spare...