Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Setting up the Geek House

After many trials and tribulations I have finally (and permanently) relocated to Stockholm, Sweden. At the moment I am at a loss for words. It is surreal, after years of brief visits or semesters abroad, to finally be here for more than a transitory visit; if there is a positive version of trauma or PTSD, then I'm feeling it right now.

Unfortunately, it looks as though I'll have to move house before the end of the year. Instead of being frustrated and stressed about that, however, I'm going to look on it as a chance for a (maybe) better apartment and to escape the terrible upstairs neighbor, Takjävel, and most importantly as a chance to decorate!

JV and I are both mad for pillows. We can't ever get enough. The pillows we have now, though, lack any sense of humor or personality. These pillows from pillows4fun on Zibbet would be a great alternative:

geeky IT pillows

We don't have much in the way of art at the moment. This print from minouette, a fellow Mad Scientist of Etsy, would be great to frame and hang in the living room:

science biology art

The mark of being a proper adult is maybe the switch from paper to cloth napkins. Maybe. In any case, I like these circuit board print napkins from juniperberries enough to buy a few for our new kitchen, whenever we may get it:

That just leaves the bathroom. JV is inordinately sensitive to most scents and perfumes, so my days of artisan soaps and bodywashes are over. At least I can still lust after nice hand towels for the bathroom, like these his and hers Totoro towels from QuantumStitching:

If you've found any other great pieces of geeky home decor, share in the comments!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

101 in 1001

And the productivity continues!


I finished both of Bryan's scripts and all of his synopses! (7 - 3)

In Progress:

I added another goal: Finish 5 books I've owned for over year but haven't read yet. (2 - 11) (1 - 1)

Another update and comment. (1 - 3) ( 7 - 4).

After this update, I will be driving up north to visit some friends and go to Secret Caverns! I am SO FREAKING EXCITED, just look at their billboards!

secret caverns billboard ny cave

secret caverns billboard ny cave

And their lobby entrance!

secret caverns entrance ny cave


At this point it looks like I won't be able to make it to Penn's Cave before I leave the country, but I won't cross out it just yet.

Rest of the list after the jump.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Finds: Science Jewelry

I'm always on the prowl for neat science-inspired jewelry (besides my own, of course). Here are some of the best I've found recently!

I was totally stunned both with how creative the idea behind this bracelet is and gorgeous it ended up being.

hydrogen science bracelet jewelry

"Hydrogen? How is this hydrogen? I'm skeptical," you're probably thinking. I was too. Then I read the description:

Hydrogen gas, when excited, emits characteristic colors. The colors of the hydrogen spectrum inspire this necklace - violet amethyst, turquoise and red coral. Hydrogen has a "line spectrum:" the bands of color are very narrow, hence the use of rondelle beads. There are dark regions in between, indicated by hematite beads. 
What an awesome and artistic depiction of an important chemical property!

If you want something a little more flashy, how about this Mars rover statement necklace?

science astronomy mars jewelry necklace

The image in the middle is a photo of Mount Sharp taken by the Curiosity rover. The copper chain and accent pieces are a perfect fit for the Red Planet.

If paleontology or biology is more your thing, here's a great, understated pendant for you from Zibbet:

science fossil coral jewelry necklace

In the end, though, I have to come back to astronomy. This solar system bracelet is just too cute.

I love how there's even the moon there, dangling off of the Earth!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Birthstones: Garnet (January)

garnet crystalsBy her who in [January] is born
No gem save garnets should be worn;
They will ensure her constancy,
True friendship, and fidelity.
January and garnet is one of the more consistent associations among birthstones. It appears in all three contemporary sources for birthstones: the Tiffany & Co. list, the Kansas City list, and the British Goldsmiths' list.

In particular, January is associated with red garnets. Garnet comes in a variety of colors, but it seems that despite the vague entreaty in the Tiffany & Co. poem above, January's stone has been a red garnet.

Garnet is another variety of silicate, meaning that at its core it contains silicon and oxygen (mostly oxygen). Specifically, it is a nesosilicate, which means that on a molecular level, garnet is a bunch of tetrahedrons (like a 4-sided die) connected to each other via single ions.

garnet chemistry molecules

However, garnet isn't a pure silicate. While it's mostly silicon and oxygen, it also contains (necessarily) other elements: magnesium and aluminum; iron and aluminum; manganese and aluminum; calcium and iron; calcium and aluminum; calcium and chromium. The chemical formula then looks something like this: 


where X is occupied by +2 cations and Y by +3 cations; one SiO4 molecule has a charge of –4, thus everything balances out.

The word garnet comes from Latin garanatus, or "seedlike." This was in reference to the similarity in color between red garnet and the seed-filled pomegranate fruit. In addition to its use in jewelry, garnet is often used as an abrasive in sand blasting; mixed with water to cut steel; and as water filtration sand. Garnet is also important in the science of geothermobarometry: describing the heat and pressure history of a rock (metamorphic or intrusive igneous). Garnets in a rock act something like a diary, maintaining the temperature and pressure the rock experienced in past ages.

Needless to say, it also is a stunning, vibrant red that makes for beautiful jewelry.

'Gorgeous Garnet' by Kokoba

A celebration of January's birthstone, red garnet!

Tiny Garnet Necklace in Ster...

Navette Ring, size 8, red ga...

Garnet Gemstone Tumbled . B...

SALE - Red Garnet Bead Mix -...


Light Garnet Red 10mm Round ...

Large Almandine Natural Garn...

Wire Wrapped Earrings with G...

Garnet faceted cabochon - 6 ...

Garnet Crystal Natural

Full 13" strand Mozambi...

SALE Gold Red Garnet Gemston...

Garnet Sterling Silver earri...

Hollywood Calling.....Jewelr...

Garnet Stone, Garnet Cabocho...

Andara Crystal Garnet Red Di...

Monday, October 7, 2013

101 in 1001

And the productivity continues!


I stayed up late and finished Bridget Jones' Diary in one sitting (don't judge me). I then realized I've had the book since 2010, so there's my third book off the list! (2 - 3) And I actually read a fourth, too!

In Progress:

Another update and comment. (1 - 3) ( 7 - 4).

I finished a nonfiction book I started reading quite a while ago, A History of the Mind. Why yes, "quite a while" means "at the beginning of this year." What can I say? Other things came up. However, it was a good read and one that I will be keeping in my small collection of "ruminations on 'the self'" literature. However, since it counts as an "owned over a year" book, I'm also counting it towards the above finished goal, since I'll probably make new goal for more unread books. (9 - 2)

I also saw Salinger at the local indie theater last week, so that's another documentary as well. (9 - 6)



Rest of the list after the jump.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Finds: Mortal Kombat and Biology

Two finds today, one courtesy of Zibbet and one courtesy of Etsy.

First, from Magpie House on Zibbet, these awesome Mortal Kombat earrings.

If you're more an FPS player than a fighter, how about this Tribalman's Shiv? It's perfect for all you TF2 snipers out there:

Finally, some gorgeous biology art from sandraculliton on Etsy:

The Genetic Code by sandraculliton

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Etsy Townhall Meeting: Reaction

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson announced in a town hall meeting on Tuesday that Etsy, among other changes, was going to allow shops to use manufacturers. The Internet reacted something like this:

But—let's be real here, guys. Etsy exists to make money so that it can keep existing. The question of an IPO isn't an if, it's a when.

Who makes the most money for Etsy? Here's a hint: it's not me with my under $50 items of which I list, at most, 30 at a time in my shop. It's the people who list 400 items at a go, or people who sell $2000 tables (or whatever). In terms of business viability, in whose interest should Etsy be more invested? (Whether or not that answer is the same as whose interest Etsy should be more invested in from an ethical standpoint is another issue.)

That's where Etsy seems to want to go: helping and promoting the "big small" businesses: ones that can mass produce (in relatively limited quantities), have multiple employees, but aren't any kind of national brand name. That seems to be the route they're taking. From that perspective, limiting stores to selling "handmade" from the strictly true definition is just that: limiting. I do not begrudge the people with enough capital to hire a few casters or professional photographers or SEO experts or screenprinters or whatever; I do not begrudge Etsy's business-minded decision to make the website better and easier for their most productive customers.

Here's what I do mind: dishonesty.

Be honest with us (and yourself), Etsy: you are not about valuing handmade products. Startups and ingenuity, sure. But the truth is, the vast majority of "handmade" isn't done by trendy hipster designers in their Williamsburg bachelor pads. It's laid-off people who can't find other work and are desperate for any extra income, it's hobbyists who need some extra cash, it's the SAHM whose husband hasn't gotten a raise for the third year in a row despite the cost of everything else in the world steadily rising. If you don't want to help them, that's fine. The least you could do, Etsy, is be honest about it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Read: Beloved

I finished reading Beloved yesterday. It was good, but difficult. Some books are good, but easy—The Crying of Lot 49; some books are just easy—The Spy Who Came in From The Cold; and some are good but difficult. Beloved was the most difficult book I've read yet on the list, maybe even more than The Gravedigger's Daughter. Part of it is due to the subject matter, but part of it is also due to Morrison's incredibly complex writing. Subclauses and parentheticals and asides are all over the place:

The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old—as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny hand prints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the doorsill.

Even the educated colored: the long-school people, the doctors, the teahers, the paper-writers and businessmen had a hard row to hoe. In addition to having to use their heads to get ahead, they had the weight of the whole race sitting there. You needed two heads for that. Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way, he thought, they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade the whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside. But it wasn't the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who made it. Touched them, every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own.

The time shifts, too, and unclearly. Not that it's a criticism, but you have to learn how to read it (or rather, to understand how it's written). The events of the story, such as it is, are pretty straightforward. It's just that the novel is not the retelling of the events, but painting the picture around it. It reads like an epic prose poem more than a novel.

So that's why it took me like a month to read this book. That said, it's a really good book and it's worth reading. It's rewarding. It also needs a better cover:

It has other (better) covers, of course, but this was the one available in my library. It looks like it would be better on a cheesy 80s erotic thriller novel than an important piece of Black literature.