Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Things I will miss about Denmark:

Some of the kindest and smartest people I have ever met
A ridiculously welcoming and warm work environment (with the bonus of the best work-based christmas party ever)
The solitude--the haunting and echoing loneliness of being in this city of spires and no skyscrapers, where everything is quiet at night and the lights glittering on the far side of the black and isolated lake make it seem welcoming, but so far away.
The food--damn, can the Danish bake! They also have some mean shawarma places that VA doesn't do any justice to whatsoever.
The city's attitude towards the holidays. I think it encompasses the absolute best parts of the holidays in the states--tiny white lights glittering through the darkness, the smell of pine trees wet in the rain, christmas markets and hot wine, and the gathering of the ones you love.
The outdoor mentality--it's very much a city good for walking and biking, for spending time out of doors.
An excellent bus and metro system
The ability to go pretty much anywhere without it costing $3000 and requiring a visa six months ahead of time.
The wind that sweeps this city every day and makes lovely pulling sounds on the windows.
Lots of yarn stores.

Things I won't miss about Denmark:

Not being near my family and friends
Not having a cat with me.
Smokers. Everywhere. Can't wait to be free of them.
Not having a car.
Being alone.
How frickin' expensive it is to live here. In most cities you can get a quick cheap lunch for <$10 without much effort. Here, you are luck to find anything <$20 at any given time. Laundry costs me $5 wash, $5 dry.
It being gray all the time. Damn do I miss some sunlight.
Having to say "Sorry, I only speak English" every time any one bothers to talk to me--and also the fact that that so very rarely happens.
The way everything in the city closes at 5pm every day of the week, 3pm on Saturday, and all day Sunday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


does anyone know why my blog is down?

Monday, August 15, 2011

a storm is gathering its folds on the horizon, above a molten sunset. Cold wind licks the face of the building and whispers through the open window. The trees stir and toss, restless and sleeping. Gold fringes of dying sunlight gild the swollen surface of the clouds, glossing over the gray and scudding base of the storm. The first whistling drops of rain sound out on the tile roofs of this foreign city, hissing through the leaves, tousling poplar and birch and oak. A magpie launches itself from the garden, raucously objecting to the rain. Its cry and the flash of its blue feathers the only thing for miles and miles.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ah, my old nemesis, coffee. We meet again. mwahaha!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I will never be an astronaut

I will never be an astronaut
which is a dream I didn't even know I had until today. The last launch of the space shuttle was today, and watching the astronauts suit-up made me bawl. I don't know why. I hate heights, I hate flying, even. But to be able to taste that feral, untamed edge of the world, to see the positive curvature of the earth falling away, to have all the stars exposed and naked, to see the glow of the planet below cutting across a sky so black it aches...

I didn't know I wanted those things. But they'll never be mine now. And in 5 years, or 10, we'll go to space again, and I'll have missed my chance, and a whole generation will grow up without knowing what that dream is reaching for, without knowing what it means to break through the boundaries of human existance and fly just that little bit further into the vast unbroken emptiness of space.

Hubble is dying. That's the nature of a telescope--there's only so much maintenance that can be done, only so many repairs. Kind of like a car--eventually, even if you replace every component in it, it will fall apart. It's not a piece that's broken. It's everything wearing down. Old age. Chandra is dead, and Spitzer is dying. WMAP is running its course. We have reached the end of the great space telescope era, and that burns even more than the loss of space flight. To think of all the things left in the universe to see and to understand--to think of the inspiration, the portal into the most alien of realms that Hubble gave us, and to know that in 5 or 10 years we will not even be close to seeing anything like that again--that's a deeper, bitter hurt. The James Webb Space Telescope has had its funding slashed, fallen victim to the partisan politics that cater only to money. I know it's a small thing in the face of the poverty, illness, and ignorance that the politics also fosters--but it is a terrible blow to the future. I cannot think but that it is a bad idea to sacrifice the future for the moment.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Me and Knitting books

I have a secret affection for owning knitting books. I know I can find 1000s of free online patterns. My ravelry queue is more than 5 pages long and a single search for a particular type (say, hat) nets me 5 or 6 new ideas. I have 3 or 4 projects on needles and I keep thinking of new ones. But I really like the books because reading them absolutely drives my inspiration. I find all sorts of things I really love, and I think about changing them, and dream about the types of garments I could make if I had the patience to shell out for 12 balls of yarn.

The problem with this is that I'm frugal. I don't want to purchase a book that has patterns that I dislike. Since I've never encountered one book with 100% me-appropriate patterns, I've settled for a reasonable percentage. 50% to consider it. I'd like to say 80% to purchase, but I've bought a few books far below that.

This is especially a problem with the felting books I'm currently looking at. I am very interested in wool and the concept of felting, and I want to give it a try. I'm a scientist. I'm sure I can figure out how to do it from a minimum of research (and I already know it involves 100% natural animal fibers, hot water, and agitation) that I can do on the web for free, but I want a book because I want to read all about the complications in size, gauge, and color effects.

But every single one of these books (that I've found on Amazon) has felted balls.

I hate felted balls.

I'm sure they look really cool on some people as necklaces, or in some houses as decorations. I even understand the usefulness of starting with a simplistic project to teach me about not killing the washing machine, and the behavior of animal fibers under the hot-water-and-agitation principles. But to me they are nothing more than a cop-out in the pattern department. They're round balls, for crapsake! You're lucky if they're on a necklace and not just something you stuff in a bowl! They are not remotely useful. I know that it is a lot to ask for patterns to be useful, but I suppose I really mean, "something I would ever employ as a knitter." I don't need felted balls, and I really really don't need decorative balls that go in a bowl to look pretty. I don't have kids, but I do have pets--decorations do not last long in my house. Including them as one of your 10 or 16 patterns means that they are 5-10% of the value of the book--this is not fair!

All right, grumpy aside, I think I'm going to have to put up with them if I want to get a felting book. Maybe I can just cut that page out and pretend it doesn't exist. Yeah. Repression is the answer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

what to cast on next?

I finished a shawl! well, it's really more of a shrug, and I haven't blocked it yet, but it's done!

which means, *drumroll* I get to cast on another project.

Now the real test. what to do? Things I have in mind:

A Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmerman in greens and browns
mittens with that peruvian wool (but... they'll felt :( )
an apple discloth a la Mason-Dixon Knitting (here)
socks from my 5 or so possible sock yarn combinations
something vintage and tunic-y with that caron spa bamboo mix yarn
something with the noro I got on sale
a first major lace knitting project with that heinous scratchy ancient gray caron in sport weight? maybe it softens after washing!
another amigurumi? maybe the loch ness monster this time?
a cat bed with the heinous leftovers I have
gifts: something pink and lacy for Robin, something red and hatty for the WI senators, a buttonhole bag using up that scratchy yellow wool, or the tried and true lace-up wrist warmers

gahhhh! so much to knit! so little time!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

8 things

8 things about me:

1. I have a twin sister! I'm so used to it that I often forget to tell people, and they are always surprised.

2. Just got my hair cut supershort... not short enough, I think!

3. I have half a semester of classes left before I get my Master's Degree and get to do research 24-7

4. If I had a million dollars I would start a foundation for the advancement of society through logic, intelligence, and compassion.

5. I am waiting to hear back from a research grant that will send me to Denmark for 6 months. If I don't get it, my advisors have discussed sending me anyway! (but I'd have to see what my collaborators decided). This is especially exciting to me as I have never before been out of the country

6. If I had to choose one place to live for the rest of my life, I think it would be Puerto Rico. Especially if I could get all my family down there. The land, the people, the science... it is all amazing!

7. One thing I really don't understand, after studying for however many years, is Quantum Mechanics

8. I firmly believe it is insufficient to merely survive, to merely do what is good for ourselves--we must without question strive to leave the world a better place than what we entered into.

I'd tag someone else but all of my friends have been tagged. So if you visit this blog and I don't know you--you're it! leave me a comment and let me know when you've done your 8, and I'll come read it!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Must... make... amazing things:

Best peeples evar!

Holy carp! I've been Yarn Stormed!

whoever you are, thank you thank you thank you thank you!

so many luscious fibers, and so many beautiful colors!

And it was completely unexpected.

Sunshine heartily approves:

Want the detailed analysis? Visit my new blog, YarnPorn

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Compassion

I realize belatedly that no mail today means holiday, and yes, it turns out it's Monday and it's already MLK day.

"Compassion and nonviolence help us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves. For from their point of view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition."

One of the things that I find most fascinating about MLK is his commitment to peace. Not just in terms of the idea of non-violent mass protests. That type of protest was a vital part of the endurance of the civil rights movement, allowing them to stake out the moral high ground on which their goals were based. But his opposition to the Vietnam war, to war and to violence in general, and his support of the ideas of compassion and human interconnection--those are what really impress me. Like Gandhi, like the Dalai Llama, to advocate the moral high ground not just for the civil rights movement, but as a way of life--this, I think, is what really made him unique, and part of what makes his legend endure. I hope I can pursue and advance that ideal as well.

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just."

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Thanks. Be at peace.


Lots of studying in the past 3 days, and plenty more to do.

Tonight I'll finish going through the topics for Astro Techniques and start reviewing the homeworks
Tomorrow I'll finish reviewing the homeworks for Astro Techniques and for Galactic Astro as well
Wednesday I'll go over the homeworks from Astrophysics and from Stellar, and have the evening review of the Astrophysics stuff with anyone interested
Thursday I'll review radio, pick out and memorize the truly relevant equations, and talk to Mark about any extragalactic questions I have remaining.
Friday I'll go through and review all the notes I've taken, study the details of things for Extragalactic, and work on memorizing the radio equations again
Saturday is the first part of the exam
Saturday night I'll briefly review the notes from the other 5 classes and try not to freak out
Sunday is the second part of the exam.

I should get done with enough time to watch the Packer game and get really smashed.

holy crap I have WAY too much material left to cover.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Owning a cat has taught me that I would be a terrible mother. I am apparently quite controlling, always saying no and shooing or chasing her away from stuff. I am not able to let her explore in an open fashion, to learn about, interact with, and come to understand her environment. Perhaps it's because, in her desire to learn, she keeps chewing on my speakers, and laptop, and my good furniture (as well as the bad furniture and any bit of paper or plastic on the ground). But at the same time I can see this control issue manifesting in her behavior. She still eats the other cat's food. She still tries to eat my speakers every morning. and she is now very skittish.

Of course she's also energetic, and a kitten yet, and she was a stray for however many months (I adopted her when she was 7 months). So maybe the blame isn't entirely on me. Nevertheless, I'm sure having a kid would be 1000x worse.

Or maybe this is just practice, so if I ever do pop out a munchkin, I know not to be a complete doyt about it?

Studying continues at a limping pace. Hard to cram more info in my head without the old stuff leaking, but I feel like I'm going somewhere. Slowly and surely, but going.

Knitting is on hiatus until my needles return from WI, but I am making plarn out of all my plastic bags and I hope to crochet at least a couple of grocery totes.

Writing... is never on hold. It always simmers on the back burner. But I still don't know how to get Indara and Kaina from leaving their tiny home city to the big city where Kaina is ill and eventually gets stolen. Or how to get Dudrect and Bali from their hotel to Dudrect's fortress. Or what Ilviras and Siraya's real quest is, and why. Or why the necromancer would enslave a human man who steals his book. And I can't figure out what it is the two witches are summoning in the urban city, or how Tasiha reunites with Ialio and what happens to her at the mage-school in Kiral.

Nor how to make Crocodile Boy more whole, nor how to tell the tales of Newton in poems.

*sigh* and I've got data to reduce and research to do for no less than 3 separate projects, all about equally important, I would say.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Outside, the gray and clotted sky gathers itself like the folds of a cloth. The wind moves through the dessicated bushes and the long yellow grasses. The ancient pines before the Astronomy building move gracefully with it, shedding sweet incense.

My mint tea grows golden in its glass, warm and sweet and intense, the color of honey. Before me, the pages of lecture notes to cover fall away, while Ingrid Michaelson tells me that maybe, just maybe, I won't die alone.

Healing, like living, is not a goal. It is a process, a journey. I am living my healing. Some days are better than others. It helps to have people who care around me, to have the work I love before, to have deadlines (Denmark application, due in 2 days!) and scheduled events (Qualifying Exam in 10 days!) giving me focus and guidance. I still lose one day a week at least to grief. But cats and the strange winter wind of the south and hot mint tea are all part of it now.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I can't understand why for the life of me I decided it was a good idea to leave every last one of my knitting needles in the car in WI while I returned to the south.

I have plenty of yarn and lots of ideas for new projects
But... nothing to knit with.

Plans: a hat, using that lovely worsted wool in shades of brown
Another hat, using the many-shades-of-blue

I suppose I could give in and turn them both into scarves.

Something lacy with that Lagoon yarn I ordered online.
Another lacy something with the three skeins of discounted hand-dyed Chilean-inspired green and brown wool.
3 pairs of socks (purple and gray, blue and green, and tones of red... o, curse you, sock addiction).

Some day I should do something with that Lamb's Wool Cotton-and-Wool in deep purple.

So much to knit! so little time...