Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Monday: Procol Harum

If you know the name Procol Harum, it's for their massive 1967 hit Whiter Shade of Pale. But no one-hit wonder is this group; they've put out an impressive number of albums and there's no shortage of good stuff.

This is another situation where you load up your entire music library into a media player, hit random, and see what happens. This is also another situation where I had forgotten about this band (and especially this song) until it came up in the queue. Either way, great song from a great album.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday!

There is so much awesomeness going on right now that I can barely contain myself.

First, I'm working on a collaborative/commission piece for my crafty friend Rae. (Seamstresses, computer jockeys, and book nerds out there: follow her!) It's already given me a lot of ideas for other unrelated items, the hard part is definitely going to be sitting down to focus on one long enough to create a finished product.

The original suggestion was so super cool that I'm turning into a game! Kind of. For the next month or so, I'll be leaving hints here and on my Facebook page. The first person to guess what the project is—or to guess "close enough"—wins a totally custom piece of beaded science, math, or geeky jewelry. You pick the numbers, the colors, and everything else!

Here is the first clue:

full adder diagram
Full Adder Circuit Diagram

Leave your guesses in the comments here or on Facebook!

(You should also follow Rae's blog because it might help you guess! Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Second, I have a new phone! This is mundane, I suppose, but buying a cell phone in a foreign country when you speak the language little better than an infant is stressful. I am happy about this.

Third, glasses! And fourth, owls! These two go together because, well, that's the picture I have.

As a reward for successfully navigating my phone-buying experience, I bought some goodies from other shops in the nearby Underground Market. Named after its physical location, not because that's where the hipsters shop.

Glasses are self-explanatory: I have big-time glasses fetish. I am the Imelda goddamn Marcos of glasses. This is technically a replacement pair, as my earlier white frames had to be retired. At this count I have seven pairs of prescription eyeglasses and one pair of prescription sunglasses. South Korea has super-cute and super-cheap frames! They're really much more into "glasses as fashion" than in the states, it seems.

I know owls were (are?) the big thing, up there with foxes and mustaches and whatever other crap Etsy decides to market, but owls have been special to me for as long as I've been a Greek mythology nerd. Yeah, it's that Athena thing all over again. And I mean, look at those eyes! How can you not love him?

And because it seems to fit the tone of this post, my gratitudes for today!

  1. Lunch at work today was one of my favorite dishes, bibimbap.
  2. As I mentioned above, new phone!
  3. I had a great class with my North Korean student, who seems to be finally getting this whole "phonics" thing.
  4. The rain today is much more pleasant to deal with when you have a proper pair of Wellingtons.
  5. I had a pleasant chat with a Korean grandfather this morning about the weather. I run into him on the street most Mondays and Wednesdays and he always makes me smile.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music Monday: RIP, Levon Helm

The Band was always favorite in my college crowd. I can't tell you how many times I and my friend Luke would lounge around and have a cocktail and listen to this song in particular. Even though he (Levon, not Luke!) had been sick for a long time, his passing last week was still sad.

Thanks for the music, Levon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Etsy Finds: Fender Minerals

According to my mom, I was fascinated by rocks and minerals even at an early age. I don't remember much from those years of my life, and during my middle and high school years I didn't give a second thought to rocks. It wasn't until I started working at a rock and mineral shop in college that my fascination reasserted itself. My appreciation for the gorgeousness lurking in the crust beneath our feet has only deepened and nothing makes my day like pretty rocks and mineral samples.

Fender Minerals has so many beautiful items I don't even know where to begin. Check out, for instance, this gorgeous piece of malachite (already one of my favorite stones):

Polished Bullseye Malachite Nugget from Fender Minerals

The little crystals in there are awesome! I've never seen that in malachite before.

If green's not to your taste, there's always iridescent chalcopyrite—the aptly named "Peacock Ore."

Peacock Ore Chalcopyrite Ray Mine Specimen from Fender Minerals

Something like this would be great in a little knick-knacks display shelf. This is what you'll find in my curios cabinet when I'm an old lady, instead of creepy ceramic children.

Fender Minerals also carries polished fossils that are ready to be drilled or wire-wrapped for jewelry. Here's one of my favorites, an orthocera.

Orthocera Fossil from Fender Minerals

If you want more pictures and information, check out Fender Minerals' blog. There's a lot more to be had over there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Multi-Strand Bracelet!

I haven't finished a multi-strand bracelet since a custom birthday order I filled a couple of years ago. I don't know why: I like multi-strand pieces (and other thicker, heavier looks, like chunky cuff bracelets) and need more of them in my life.

So, I made this guy! It's pi, Euler's number, and root 2 all united in one warm, fall-colored bracelet. Unlike the last one I made, I didn't cap off the ends with cones and just left everything sort of "hanging out" on jump rings. I'm surprisingly okay with how that looks!

math jewelry bracelet pi
Pi, Euler's number, and root 2 multi-strand bracelet

Monday, April 16, 2012

Music Monday: DJ DOC

Fun Korean pop you should be listening to if you aren't already: "Run to You," by DJ DOC.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What I'm Reading: "Creativity," Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Before I started this, I read Flow (by the same author) in a handful of sittings. Csikszentmihalyi's hypothesis in Flow is pretty straightforward to the point of almost being banal: people enjoy their lives more when they're engaged in active and creative pursuits instead of passive, consuming ones. Makes sense: it keeps your mind active, provides a feeling of accomplishment, and so forth.

Conversely, Creativity is a much heftier tome that tackles the lives and environments surrounding Creative [sic] people. (Yes,  Csikszentmihalyi makes a distinction between creative and "Creative.") I'm not very far into it yet, so I can't offer much in the way of a critique or review.  Csikszentmihalyi does seem to be tackling an unorthodox type of creativity: a Creative person is someone who not only has ideas, but has ideas that are recognized by the experts in their field, and whose ideas are then canonized into the new norm. He argues that J. S. Bach, for example, wasn't truly creative until Liszt rediscovered him.

Anyway,  Csikszentmihalyi used to be an editor at a publishing house and it shows, as his prose is eminently readable. There was one quote in particular that struck me (and inspired me to even mention the  book here):

We believe that things that can be measured are real, and we ignore those that we don't know how to measure.
 Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is exactly the point I was trying to get to in my scattered and exasperated rant on Slashdot readers and social justice: just because something is harder to quantify doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Aftermath!

I got to spend Easter with many of my expat friends. We had a huge picnic near the Han river and painted some hard-boiled goodness. Here's my project, an entry in Mom's Basement's Easter egg contest:

geeky nerdy easter egg

The eyes are actually origami stickers that we repurposed for egg-decorating. There were so many other good ones, I wish I had pictures of them all!

It's also Friday the 13th today. Somewhat in the vein of Friday the 13th, the next movie in my queue is a Korean horror/thriller movie called "I Saw The Devil." While it doesn't feature Jason Voorhees or Camp Crystal Lake (obviously), it still looks to be all kinds of creepy. Think I might have a night in to watch this one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Absentee Plant Parent

It was like plant parent day on my Google reader a week ago. First Sasha and her agave, then Kate and her herbs. So let me introduce to you my own plant baby, a snake plant I got at the Korean equivalent of a dollar store.

Her name is Lacey (I guess, I did kind of name her but haven't taken to referring to her by name) and she's not really doing too well.

I have no idea how much I need to water her. I thought snake plants didn't need much watering at all, so I fed her once every two weeks. Is it too much or too little? Does she need a spot with more sunlight? I may have to (tearfully and respectfully) dispose of Lacey and start again with another plant baby from the dollar store.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bad Decision Dinosaur, Goals, and Gratitudes

Who's Bad Decision Dinosaur? Why, my favorite character in my favorite webcomic, of course!

bad decision dinosaur

And well, he and I definitely tore up the town this Easter weekend. Enough to the point where I decided I needed to take a cold hard look at my life priorities, which in turn reminded me of my 101 in 1001. "How's that going, Kokoba?" you ask. I'll be glad to fill you in! I'll get back to the other priorities in a second.

Well, I've made some (but not a lot) of progress on the music slog. It seems that my initial thought to simply delete first and then sort went against my super-categorizing tendencies and I am organizing as I go through. It's not so bad, I suppose, but I really don't devote that much time to this goal—because really, how important is it, at the end of the day?

The documentaries is going really well, as you've seen on here. Same with the nonfiction. The foreign movies are taking a bit more time, because I have to actually take out a whole time chunk to sit down and watch because more often than not there are subtitles involved. I don't hate subtitles or resent having to read while I watch a movie; it's just that movies in another language take a different level of focus for me.

The Couch to 5K program is also going well, though I am taking the program much slower than it's laid out. I've never been much of an active person, for one, but also a lifelong case of asthma makes intense cardio workouts more difficult than they would be otherwise. Right now I'm in the middle of week five, and I'm going to stay there for another three or four workouts before I attempt the (gulp!) twenty minute run that comes at the end of the fifth week.

Even taking it as slowly as I have been, I'm impressed with how much endurance I've built up so far. I'm not the fastest runner, by any means—and genetics says I never will be—but the difference between then and now is drastic.

Now, back to the aforementioned priorities. I've made three significant decisions.

  1. I've made a Bad Decision Dinosaur Box. Every time I make a bad decision (not going to the gym, drinking too much, putting off important work), I put money in the box, in either $1, $5, or $10 denominations. When I leave Korea, all that money goes...somewhere. I am inclined to give it to a charity I support (in particular, a North Korean justice-related one), but I think the box might be more effective if the money goes to a cause I loathe. So far I owe the box $31. Eventually I'm going to put a label and pictures on it, but for now it sits plain and brown on my floor.
  2. Create more, consume less. This comes after just finishing Flow, whose whole hypothesis can be summed up: "People are happier if they engage in active pursuits instead of passive ones." I keep finding excuses to put off working on jewelry or polishing my writing; to just cruise the Internet instead. Net result? Feeling like I'm wasting my time.  This also will force me to be more thoughtful about what I do consume.

  3. Write up a list of five gratitudes, every day. Or week. Or every other day. But regularly. I have been in a foul, weird funk as of late (probably why Bad Decision Dinosaur has had so much sway over me). Cheesy as it sounds, I think focusing on the positive can do a lot to change your overall attitude. To hold myself accountable, I'll also post at least some of them here.

So, without further ado, my five gratitudes for today!

  1. A working computer that keeps me in touch with all of my friends and loved ones.
  2. The health of my friends and loved ones.
  3. The Boy <3
  4. My own health and well-being.
  5. A really delicious dinner I made and ate earlier tonight.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music Monday: Tears For Fears

Once in a while I just get into a weird mood and the only thing I want to listen to is Tears For Fears. I had one of those moods last Friday, and I found this amazing live performance of "Mad World" with Il Novecento and Fine Fleur. Beautifully arranged and orchestrated, it's super cinematic and creepy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Science Saturday: How To Store Your Produce

This is a great science and photography combination right here, though I will admit that I didn't bother to double-check on any of the more science-y assertions in the article. Forget the Fridge: Using Chemistry And Nature to Store Food.

Chemists? Biologists? Do you have anything to chip in?

I have been lax in my documentary-watching, for which I apologize! I hope to get back to that for the next Science Saturday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Winter is Coming? No, Easter is Coming!

And so is Mom's Basement's Easter Egg contest!

Submit a photo of your geeky Easter egg(s), and the winner (determined by vote) gets a whole grab bag of geeky goodies! Even without the temptation of prizes, I just love the idea of geeky Easter eggs. My friends and I are having an Easter picnic this Sunday, complete with egg-dying and egg-decorating supplies, why not geek it up? So far I'm thinking:

  • A Star Wars set
  • A Star Trek: The Original Series set
  • A Doom Patrol set
  • Batman
  • Famous scientists and nerds (Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, and Alan Turing are at the top of my list so far)
  • Appropriate use of brown eggs, so prevalent here in Korea: Neil deGrasse Tyson in the scientists set, Lando Calrissian in Star Wars, Ultimate Nick Fury, Joshua Clay in Doom Patrol, Lt. Uhura in Star Trek...

How are you going to decorate your Easter eggs this year?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music Monday (On Tuesday) (Again): When I Grow Up

I'm having decadent hot chocolate for breakfast (at noon) because I can. Oh, the joys of being grown up.