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May. 18th, 2010

Summer Vacation Adventures!

So, I mentioned this on Facebook, and booked my flight, but I should post it here. Normally I take a vacation in the summer up to New Hampshire to spend a weekend with my extended family -- and I time it so my mother and brother are up there as well. The last two years, I took a vacation back to Nebraska for events (my sister's wedding and my brother's graduation).

This year, though, I'm helping [livejournal.com profile] lasafara and her bird move across the country from her home in Pennsylvania to [livejournal.com profile] crisi83 and [info]uncreativity's place in Oregon. So I get a road trip, some tourist time in New York City, a stop in Nebraska to see family and friends, AND some time in Oregon. Plus, states I've never been to -- Oregon, and I've never driven through the Rockies, just to them, so it looks like I'll get to see Idaho and a tiny bit of Utah.

I assure you, I will be blogging and posting pictures.

(Katie, we totally need to come up with a nickname for this trip. Last year the galaxy group in my department had '5 Bs Across America', where Ann/"Banana" and Betsey moved Sabrina/"Brina" and her two bulldogs (Bella and Chewy/"Bad Dog"), to California for Sabrina's postdoc.)
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May. 3rd, 2010

So, I'm here.

So, I made it back to Boston. Obviously. I'll try to get a write-up of the conference with 'interesting science I learned'. Because I had a good time. And, yes, I will include my own talk.

I also spent Saturday Night doing 'Ask an Astronomer -- LIVE' at a local bar with three other astronomers and a physicist. Fun, though there was some inadvertent comedy when I mentioned a transit of Venus in 2012*. Speaking of, Ann in our department is doing a Science Café with a local Mayan archeologist on 2012 -- the archeologist will handle the 'what the Mayans actually believed, as far as we can tell from their writings' and Ann gets to handle all the stories she hears about how people think the world will end and why they don't work (as well as "2012 in pop culture" and "answering emails from people scared by History Channel 'documentaries'").

* I also got to be the only one who could answer the 'what did you discover in the last year', because we had a theoretical physicist (I got my model to give self-consistent results!), an instrument builder (I took my instrument to a telescope!) and a first year grad student.

Oh, and the meme I did: all but two were answered, so I thought I'd give the answers.

"Government employees read their employer's financial information, steal a business vehicle, and go off to violate their now-former boss's purchasing agreements." is Marvel's NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. Let me put it this way, if Watchmen was Neon Genesis Evangeleon, deconstruction the tropes of a genre, NEXTWAVE is Gurren Lagaan, turning the tropes up to 11 and still managing to be awesome.

"A young woman's loss of sanity causes concern for a friend of her missing parents." is Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio. Not sure if the 'loss of sanity' is the manifestation of Agatha's Spark, since Sparks aren't generally sane by normal standards, or the fact Agatha currently has a copy of her mother's personality lodged in her head, after discovering her mother had conducted a reign of terror on the continent before she was born. Either thing concerns the Baron Wulfenbach.
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Sep. 19th, 2009

Tidbits...

You know, it's funny, but I can be incredibly inspired by what I think are other people's bad ideas. Sometimes to rant, other times to get my own. Shame it doesn't extend to writing things. I have a lot of worldbuilding ideas, but never do anything with them plot-wise. I think it's a bit intimidating to find a story in them.

Read more... )

Sep. 15th, 2009

Waiting...

I didn't mention this earlier, but it turns out 'feeling moderately sick' was more of a result of 'my body is about to start its (theoretically) monthly phase of bleeding and general unpleasantness' than swine flu. I suppose bleeding and cramps and feeling tired are better than fever and muscle aches and feeling tired.

I also ordered a new computer, now that the screen of my laptop has died. It's supposed to be getting here today, which means sitting at home and waiting for the FedEx delivery instead of doing work. I am nearly out of work from home I can do anyway.

Hate waiting. >_
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Sep. 11th, 2009

Mom and Ben are going to be moving about a month from now to an apartment building on Vine Street. I can picture where it is -- not that far from where we used to live, and the sort of thing we'd drive by a lot if we were heading to the university from our house.

I also saw that my uncle Donny posted a picture to Facebook of Grandma's cottage up for sale. Grandma owned property on the New Hampshire coast, and left it to her kids when she died. Problem was, Mom and Uncle Rick were too far away to use it much, Uncle Donny had a place up there already, and Maryjean and Uncle Jay and Uncle Bobby* didn't feel/couldn't afford to buy out their siblings -- or at least field the property taxes and utilities. Not to mention that when Grandma was alive, Uncle Donny was usually the maintenance guy, with occasional help from my cousins Declan and Dylan when they were teenagers. Not quite fair for Uncle Donny to maintain two places up there, one he doesn't even own (different when it's for his elderly mother, I mean). So, they finally got their act together and are going to sell it and split the money six ways. It's a couple of blocks from the beach, but it's also the sort of place that's decades old and needs some major repair work, and is also small**, so most likely it'll be torn down to build a bigger beach house.

It's just weird, you know, thinking that things will be different than they've always been.

* Yes, my mother had five brothers and sisters. My dad has four. Insert your favorite joke about Catholics here.
** I think it's a good size for a family beach house, and we've slept ten people in it for family reunions. (More if Maryjean brings her tent and sleeps in the backyard.)
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Sep. 7th, 2009

Ugh.

Today was a hack of a day. In the sense of being full of minor irritations.

Events of my day:
-- For some reason, I have turned into my mother/grandmother WRT sleeping. Grandma used to sleep in her recliner, rather than her bed, and Mom does that now too if she's not sleeping well*. Recently, I've taken to going to sleep on the couch if I can't sleep in my bed, then occasionally moving in the middle of the night. I don't know why this happens. Anyway, it meant that my sleep patterns have gone all to hell.
-- PMS consisting of feeling unmotivated/weepy (two feelings that go together), acne, and in having the headache from Hell carry over from yesterday into this morning. (Seriously, yesterday I was pretty much on a regular dose of acetaminophen and rest every four hours. Suddenly the sleep patterns art partially explained -- I tend to nap while waiting for the stabbing pain in my temple to go away.
-- My laptop screen backlight is broken. This means the screen goes from 'dim but visible' to 'black', depending on the ambient light. Since the laptop is five years old with a battered case held together by duct tape and a CD drive that makes funny noises if I hit the enter key too hard, and that overheats if it runs for more than an hour, and repairs will cost around $300 plus time to get parts, it may be wise to just buy a shiny new Macbook and ask for help to get my data off the thing and wipe the hard drive** before I send it to the Great Recycling Pile in the Sky. Good thing Shoshe asked me if I wanted to do some grading for Dr. Squyres's course, because that $1,000 will go a long way towards a nice laptop.
-- Lost my keys. Spent an hour looking for them.
-- PMS apathy meant I didn't get much done besides emailing folks and getting the important stuff off my laptop so I can work from home until I can get a new one. I'm going to vent to my counselor tomorrow about the apathy -- some of which is because I need to have the 'where am I going?' discussion with my adviser.

And I bet Mom will ask me about the computer, since I mentioned it on Facebook. The only reason she hasn't yet is that it's Labor Day, so she wouldn't be at work.

--

* She also needs some type of bland background noise. Her normal choice is the Home Shopping Network -- apparently voices hawking jewelry at the edge of her hearing helps her sleep.

** I read news stories about people who buy computers off of eBay and get information off of them. The hard drive is getting reformatted before the computer leaves my possession.
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Sep. 4th, 2009

This is where we used to live...

Mom warned me about this when I saw her over the summer, but she's selling the house now that Ben's out of school. Basically on her income, she can't afford the mortgage without help from the child support she gets from Dad. Since my brother is going to be 19 in October, there goes that income.

Mom emailed me this week to tell me the house sold, and they'll be moving soon to an apartment somewhere. Mom figures she'll have to rent storage until she can pare a house's worth of crap down to an apartment's worth.

(Also, she's kind of upset that this means she can't do her awesome Halloween yard displays. If anyone is in the Lincoln area and wants someone to turn their front yard into a haunted house for a month, and doesn't mind helping by getting up on a ladder*, she'd be happy to help. Our neighbor/Mom's best friend** offered, but Mom said that they have different tastes -- Mom likes 'creepy' and Peg likes 'funny'. I know only a few of you live in Lincoln, and many still live with family, but hey...)

It's kind of weird. We moved to that house when I was 11 or so, back when my parents were still together. Dad built the swingset in the backyard -- which Mom donated to the day care next door when we got too old for it -- and tried to start a rock garden in the side yard which languished once he moved out, and eventually had to be re-lanscaped when the terracing collapsed. It was my first room on my own -- I had to share with Jenn when we were kids -- and I stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and covered the walls with posters and maps from National Geographic. I remember the tree in the front yard falling during a windstorm, and planting an oak tree I got for Arbor Day that may or may not still be there.

Things were already changing once I moved out here. A year or two after I left, Mom redid my room into a guest room -- she took down the posters (but kept the glow-in-the-dark stars) and moved things around. It was a shock. She also redid the office -- which was originally a spot Dad set up to work on stuff, and became our computer/junk room once he left -- into a tiny dining room, and moved the computer into Jenn's bedroom.

But, still... it's weird to think that the next time I come back (for Christmas), I'll be coming to a two-bedroom apartment where I'll have to sleep on the couch rather than the house I grew up with and my old bedroom.

* Mom is afraid of heights, so one of us kids would usually handle things.

** /the computer teacher (and Patron Saint of geeky high school students) at my old high school/Mom's coworker's wife. In summary, our family's tight with hers. She even has an open invitation to visit Mom's brothers and sisters, and Mom was friends with her family.
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Aug. 13th, 2009

Travel (but not Cats)

So, I got my yearly dose of beach, card games* and family gossip/drama at the Mom'sFamily family reunion. Have to add 'baby afghan' on the To Do List, as my cousin found out she was pregnant -- she's trying to keep it off Facebook, though, but everyone knew, so I don't know how long that will last. (Thankfully, the baby isn't due until after the holidays.)

* The family is a big believer in card games. Plus we had my aunt's step-grandson visiting for the week, and he was constantly in need of being entertained.

Let's talk about the trip back.  )

I'm working my way through hundreds of LJ posts -- the smart thing to do would be to put together a reading list of friends, then just skim for community announcements, but I didn't do that. So, I'm skipping the hundreds of [info]bad_rpers_suck, [info]fanficrants, and drabble posts on writing communities to get to the meat of things. I have a feeling I'm not going to make it into work, as it's lunchtime and I'm still fuzzy, so I better let my boss know that travel fatigue has me skipping a meeting where I'll just be listening to the rest of the group.
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Aug. 3rd, 2009

I must be crazy...

So, I'm giving a talk during the first week of October on Saturn's A and C ring*. 10 minutes, including time for questions, so really 5-7 minutes, and if the session chair is any good, s/he's going to turn off my mic at 7 minutes because science conference need that kind of iron hand.

Today I asked Carl if I could use our informal Friday afternoon seminars to practice this talk sometime in late September -- this is a typical use of the seminar, since it's only grad students and post-docs (and the occasional undergrad -- no professors allowed).

And I emailed Shoshe, who is in charge of Planetary Science Lunch Seminar because she was asking about people to give talks and better now than later, because the job of the PLunch coordinator is to whine, beg, guilt-trip and lurk outside the offices of every other planetary scientist until he or she gives a lunch talk. So, I now have a 30-40 minute talk in late September to give. Not sure if it'll be on Hyperion or the rings.

Shoshe was also putting together a DPS Post-Conference Extravaganza on October 19th, which means asking if people who are going to make up a short presentation on their personal highlights. Guess who also volunteered to give a 10-15 minute talk on what I learned on my vacation? (No, I don't think she'll let me put the pictures of the beach in. At least not for all my slides.)

Have I mentioned that I don't like public speaking?

* The B ring is left out because it is too thick to see through. And it is ugly and its mother dresses it funny.
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Aug. 2nd, 2009

Update

I'll be out of town from the 8th to the 12th -- beach weekend with the family. I also booked my trip to Puerto Rico in October. It's work related -- there's a conference on planetary science there, and I'll be giving a ten-minute talk on my research*. I am taking an extra day to go on a tourist trip to the Arecibo Radio/Radar Observatory. Arecibo is the largest telescope in the world -- a giant radio dish set into a sinkhole. (You can see it in movies -- it's in Goldeneye and in Contact). It does things like shoot radar at asteroids that swing by Earth both to get positions/velocities and to study their shapes -- handy to make sure you know if one will hit us on its next swing around. It's also involved in a gi-nourmous galaxy survey, which three of my friends are blogging about.

I'm also going to be swimming. A lot. Because I'll be on a beach for a week, and I need something to let me process all the science.

Problem is that the hotel didn't give us enough space, so I am in limbo for the last two days. The night before my flight out I can head back to San Juan and get an airport hotel room so I don't have to wake up as early for a flight that will probably be in the morning. I don't know what I'll be doing on Friday night for that trip, but AAS has started trying to figure out how to deal with this screw up...

* Identifying ring particle properties.

Um, anyway. Anime! I have the CJAS archive, and I'm thinking I should start raiding it for stuff to watch. Well, if we ignore I still have Planetes, Twelve Kingdoms, Utena, the rest of Banner of the Stars, half of Babylon 5, and a couple other anime titles I want to try. Might be interesting to do a review blog of first episodes -- mostly to see how these encourage me to watch/not watch the rest. Some anime have some really crappy first episodes, while some hook me right away.

Speaking of, I downloaded some fansubs of first-episode airing-in-Japan anime. The first one I watched was Aoi Hana/Sweet Blue Flowers, which is supposed to be a coming-of-age story about a pair of childhood friends reunited after ten years. It has pretty, pretty art, but seems to be a bit slow paced. Some of that is probably because I'm accustomed to action-y series, though. It's also got a lesbian/closeted lesbian/whatever lead who gets to spend the first episode coping with the fact her crush just got married (and is also female and her cousin). From the opening, it seems like she's going to hook up with her friend. We'll see how it goes.

Jul. 18th, 2009

Gealach

This is a story about my dad, Ireland, and the Moon. And also the past and the future. It happened nearly exactly forty years ago.

My dad's parents were very big on their Irish heritage, and they made sure that my dad and his brothers and sister learned some Irish. Part of that was sending them away from Dublin to the countryside, where the language was still spoken, and in an immersion program. The idea was that by not speaking or hearing English all that summer, Dad would be able to speak functionally in Irish. Ireland did have television in the 1960s, but it was all in English -- I don't know if they now have Irish-language programming, though all of the street signs in Dublin now are bilingual.

As it happened, that was the summer of 1969, and Dad, like any young geek, wanted to see men land on the Moon. He wasn't confident he could explain to his guardians why this was so important. Perhaps because they were trying to reclaim a past lost to them, and Americans landing on the Moon was such a futuristic thing. So, he ended up sneaking out to the nearest town and watching it there. Wikipedia tells me that the landing was at 20:17 UT on July 20th and the first moonwalk was at 3:00 the next day.

I don't have that difficulty, of course -- I've watched Shuttle launches from my computer, and attended the Mars Phoenix landing party at Cornell. Neither does Dad -- as it happens, he owns property down near Cape Canaveral, and was able to see the Mars Phoenix launch. Until he heard the rocket go up, he thought it was just a spring break party late at night on the beach, and then he realized that he was probably hearing spectators of the launch, rather than rowdy college students.

On the other hand, while Dad can read Irish well enough to be amused when a Irish-style pub in Laramie, Wyoming does a bilingual menu*, he still trips over it when speaking. At my sister's wedding, he read a traditional blessing in his mother's tongue, punctuated by his apologies about his shoddy pronunciation. Of the attendees, maybe his sister and two of three brothers (the third was not present), plus Mom's sister's husband, would actually be able to tell. I don't speak a word of it myself -- the title of this post was gotten via googling for an English-Irish dictionary, and typing 'moon' in it.

* I don't remember the name, but it was next to a bar called The Library, that was right across from the dorm I stayed in for my internship. Apparently they sold T-shirts saying 'Don't lie -- tell your parents you're at The Library'. For that matter, he even complimented the owner, who told him she had an Irish-speaking friend do the menu.

Jul. 17th, 2009

Of course...

Today I set my alarm for an hour before I had to get up, because I wasn't paying attention. Compounded by the fact that I already had to get up an hour early for a doctor's appointment, and that it took a bit for me to fall asleep, I am a cranky person right now. What I want to do is go home and sleep, except I need to meet with my adviser in the afternoon (1-2 ish), and taking the 11:30 bus home only to take the 12:30 bus back is just not worth it. Plus, lunch sometime during that time would be good. I'm tempted to skip both Mel's post A-exam party and Sabrina's practice-defense and just go home and sleep after my meeting. If I don't, I can't guarantee I'll be up past dinner time. (I could try napping at my desk, but I don't know if that would really help.)
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Jul. 16th, 2009

Real Life is Real and Also Boring

Stuck at home until I take care of the fact three out of four pairs of jeans that I own have stains in them and need to be washed. About all I have to do today at work is research meeting, and even that I'm not sure about, since my advisor has Creeping Con Crud* and emailed me to let me know he might not even bother coming in. I haven't done much in the last week, so I'd mostly be sitting around and asking questions about what everyone else has done.

* Or whatever you call it when you fly across the ocean to sit in a room with other people from other places and talk about esoteric things. At least people at scientific conferences/workshops can all be counted on to bathe and not try to live off of the free food provided.

The reason I don't have much done is that Project #1 is waiting for Dr. T to give me some error bars so I can guess whether what I do will be worth it and Project #2 is in the 'all but the paper stage' that needs a lot of help from my advisor, because I haven't written a real paper before. I also have to decide which one goes to Puerto Rico with me (which project, not Dr. T or my advisor, who can decide whether they go or not themselves) in October for the big planetary science conference. I'm thinking Project #2 is at the stage where it would make a decent five-minute talk, especially if the details are coming out in a paper, but Project #1 will need a poster, because it's mathy and full of dynamics, and requires more thought to digest. I'd like to give a talk since I gave a poster last year, but I gave a poster about Project #2 last year.

You know, I really should type up what those are, shouldn't I? Maybe later. ^_^
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Jul. 2nd, 2009

Sick Day

Ugh. I feel like I have chills and muscle pains, which is usually the first sign I have the flu. Then again, I also have had what I called 'creeping crud' -- enough symptoms to make me feel sick without developing anything obvious. Usually a sign my immune system has things well in hand.

I'll take today off to rest, and then see where I am.
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Jul. 1st, 2009

My Health

So, apparently mentioning to your psychologist that you spent half of a week not doing much of anything because leaving the house was too much hassle gets you an appointment with the psychiatrist to check your meds. Who knew?

So, yeah, been feeling lethargic lately, and my psychologist thought it might be depression. Once I get going on a project or get to my office, I'm mostly okay, but it takes a major kick in the ass to get me going. That and I've been falling asleep when bored, even if I've only been up for 2 hours*, or it's 7 PM.

The psychiatrist doesn't want to increase my meds, because the stuff makes me drowsy, which is none so good when trying to stop someone from being lethargic. There's another type of anti-depressant, but the psychiatrist hesitates to keep me on two different drugs at the same time unless that's really the only thing that works. So we get to try non-pharmacutical methods first.

So, I'm supposed to start getting up at a regular time every day (even weekends), switching my alarm clock to the annoying beeping if I have to. And no naps before noon or after dinner. I'm trying to debate whether I should just shift my schedule to wake up and go to bed later, or just only stay up late occasionally and cope with being sluggish the next day. The problem is that if I get up later, I won't move my work back later, since I don't like working after dinner. I could do my normal morning routine quicker, I suppose. I might see if I can get into the habit of not taking more than two hours before heading to work -- if I can get out of the door in an hour, then getting up later would be an option. (And I could stay up late to play with people every day of the week.)

I'm also supposed to exercise regularly, even if it's just DDR, and use the lightbox that normally only gets brought out in the winter. It's been kind of cloudy and stormy recently, so that could be influencing my mood.

My psychiatrist authorized all of you to help kick my ass on this subject. (Yes, seriously -- okay, she only said that I should get my friends to help remind me, but you guys are my friends, right?)

* And had tea with breakfast.
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Jun. 29th, 2009

A Recipe for Raisin Bread

This is adapted from a recipe I found in the New York Times -- I just added the cinnamon and raisins. And sarcastic commentary. I brought it to the Astronomy picnic where it was a hit -- a loaf and a half were eaten, and Shoshe (the one who gave me the recipe) was quite happy, since the bread is low fat (and also vegan). Now, if only I could come up with a gluten-free version and handle everyone's food preferences/allergies/etc. at once.

Read more... )
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Jun. 23rd, 2009

Quick meme

When you see this, take a minute and share five good things of your day with the world, uncut.

  1. I cleaned my apartment, including going through the fridge and freezer to remove old food.
  2. I got a run in softball, and a double (on an error).
  3. I made delicious stir fry for dinner.
  4. I looked up how to make homemade cinnamon rolls for the welcome-REU-students picnic on Saturday, and I only need sugar and maybe something for the top. They sound delicious and if they don't turn out right, I can eat them anyway.
  5. I am about to take a nice, relaxing shower and then maybe have some chocolate.


(It's hard to think of good things when you spend 90% of your day cleaning.)

Downside was that I just got a mail from Cornell that told me that a computer containing my personal information was stolen, and that I need to put out a fraud report on my information. No signs that the computer wasn't just wiped and resold to someone, but just to be sure.
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Open Letter

Dear New York State Senate,

Stop fooling around with party politics and get some work done. If the same-sex marriage bill dies*, or you don't deal with all the other stuff (tax breaks), I will be mighty pissed at you. So get your heads out of whatever orifices you have shoved them, and get to work.

Yrs,

Becca Stareyes

* Again -- last year the bill was never brought out of committee, IIRC. The governor actually said in an interview: 'interesting ideas or controversial pieces of legislation have always come to [the state capital] Albany to die.'
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Jun. 22nd, 2009

Serendipity

So, my air popper -- which I purchased after realizing that I despise the artificial butter most microwave popcorn bags us -- gave up the ghost. As in, it was emitting sparks, and it was a good thing I was there to see this, turn it off and unplug it before I had to dash to get the fire extinguisher.

[info]emilie_burns suggested I try popping my corn over the stove. And I haven't had such good popcorn in ages. Air-popped popcorn might be better for me, but it was pretty much 'crunchy filling thing'. With the oil on the stove, the salt actually sticks to the popcorn, giving me the full flavors of salt and grease -- totally worth the extra calories.

I might try popping it in butter next time.

I need a food icon
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Today's Mission... Failure

Becca Stareyes: My advisor is out of town, most of what I need to do are revisions, and I think the kitchen counter is starting to turn into Carl Sagan's tholins lab. So I will take a long weekend to clean the apartment.

Feline Houseguest: Good morning, Substitute Monkey. Is it still the weekend?

Becca Stareyes: No, it isn't. I am cleaning today.
Read more... )

In better news, actually getting exercise seems to be reducing my appetite. Well, not right after the fact, but when I'm idle.
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