Saturday, May 30, 2015

Junk Science: The News Path of Least Resistance

This reporter fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss. This is why scientific literacy (including statistics) and critical thinking are such important skills. I mean, getting tricked into eating more chocolate than you normally would "because diet" isn't a bad thing—chocolate fucking rules—but because so many other nutrition news articles and diet fads are based on equally shaky footing.

If you're link-phobic or pressed for time, here's the most important part of the article:

Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, sleep quality, well-being, etc.—from 15 people. (One subject was dropped.) That study design is a recipe for false positives.

Think of the measurements as lottery tickets. Each one has a small chance of paying off in the form of a “significant” result that we can spin a story around and sell to the media. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. We didn’t know exactly what would pan out—the headline could have been that chocolate improves sleep or lowers blood pressure—but we knew our chances of getting at least one “statistically significant” result were pretty good.

Whenever you hear that phrase, it means that some result has a small p value. The letter p seems to have totemic power, but it’s just a way to gauge the signal-to-noise ratio in the data. The conventional cutoff for being “significant” is 0.05, which means that there is just a 5 percent chance that your result is a random fluctuation. The more lottery tickets, the better your chances of getting a false positive. So how many tickets do you need to buy?

P(winning) = 1 - (1 - p)n

With our 18 measurements, we had a 60% chance of getting some“significant” result with p < 0.05. (The measurements weren’t independent, so it could be even higher.) The game was stacked in our favor.
And yet, not a single media outlet dug enough to find this out. Bohannon explains:
When reporters contacted me at all, they asked perfunctory questions. “Why do you think chocolate accelerates weight loss? Do you have any advice for our readers?” Almost no one asked how many subjects we tested, and no one reported that number. Not a single reporter seems to have contacted an outside researcher. None are quoted.


Shape magazine’s reporting on our study—turn to page 128 in the June issue—employed the services of a fact-checker, but it was just as lackadaisical. All the checker did was run a couple of sentences by me for accuracy and check the spelling of my name.
So if it sounds too good or bizarre to be true, it probably is.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five Fandom Friday: 5 Fictional Characters You Most Identify With

A 5 Fandom Friday on time for once?! What madness! And it has a sweet new banner from Darling Stewie.

5 Fictional Characters You Most Identify With

Before I give my answers, I would like to quietly point out that identity is why representation matters in books. We're going to have all kinds of answers to this; it's clear that the media we consume matters to us and how we think of ourselves. The more diversity we have, the better, because seeing yourself reflected in media is important! Okay, anyway.

1. Harriet Welsch (Harriet the Spy)

Courtesy Rakka

I mention this book a lot when it comes to favorite characters and so on, but it was one of my favorites as a kid and it holds up to rereading. And while I never had a spy route like Harriet, I was something of a cynical outsider. I spent more time watching everyone else, or making up my own stories, than actually doing things.

2. Britta Perry (Community)

Courtesy Eric Stevens
First you need to bask in this Community LEGO photo stream. Okay.

Abed is the fandom's darling, and maybe rightfully so, but if I'm going to be honest with myself (and everyone else) I am (season 1) Britta, at my best as well as my worst. As Abed puts it, "You'd rather keep it real than be likable." That's why her ongoing Flanderization into a total ditzy airhead really bothers me, although it looks like Season 6 Britta may be coming back to form?

I wouldn't be a good bartender, though.

3. Annie Edison (Community)

Also courtesy Eric Stevens

Okay, so I'm also a neurotic, overachieving nerd. What of it?

4. Mick Kelly (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter)

Reading this made me extremely grateful that I grew up when I did (not in the 50s and 60s) and how I did (without the stresses of poverty). I could see myself in Mick, or rather: another, unluckier version of myself.

I find it odd that all the summaries of this book make it about John Singer. Funny, I thought this was a novel about Mick...

5. Leah and Adah Price (The Poisonwood Bible)

I'm cheating with this last one, I guess. But I could relate to both of them so well, I really couldn't pick one.

How about you?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Trek Thursday: Shore Leave

#22: Shore Leave

In case you forgot: The Enterprise unknowingly stumbles upon a planet-sized amusement park.

This is a prime example of TOS at its goofiest. (As if that image weren't enough of a hint, I guess.) How you feel about this episode is dependent largely upon how silly you can take your Trek. Stock footage, raids into the costuming department,'s not "Tribbles," but it's close. The idea of a whole race of people building a planet "just for funsies" is a fun one, too, and brings to mind Douglas Adams, Slartibartfast, and Magrathea. Maybe this is where he got the idea?

There's something deeply uncomfortable about watching McCoy flirt with Barrow, but I can't pinpoint what it is: the age difference, maybe? And maybe this means I'm not as deep into Trek lore as I should be, but why fire Grace Lee Whitney just to put another woman in as yeoman? If producers didn't want Kirk to have a main squeeze, why insist on keeping the glorified personal assistant character? Was yeoman just the rotating spot for "woman Roddenberry was eyeing that week"?

Unfortunately, with so much silliness, there is some irritation. Mostly Finnegan, a psychotic human-sized leprechaun that Kirk remembers from academy. The fight scenes with him are endless and annoying.

Besides that, the amusement park groundskeepers (for lack of better term) have the equipment necessary to read minds and reproduce images contained therein, but it takes them a whole episode to figure out that the Enterprise crew is really baffled by what's going on?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bat Love

You may or may not remember that I have a long-time love of bats (it comes from working in a cave) and a concern with the killer White Nose Syndrome that's devastating bat populations across North America.

Researchers have finally successfully treated a bat with WNS! YASSSSSSSSS!

Image courtesy Ann Froschauer/USFWS
So cute! How could anyone be scared of these guys?

Just as importantly, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote. While I'm of the school of thought that holds that rights are something that should be granted as a matter of course, never voted on, I'm glad that the voters in Ireland turned out in a celebration of love. If it takes a popular vote to make a moral right a legal reality, so be it.

Courtesy The Department for Culture, Media and Sport
It was a good week last week and hopefully this continues!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Five Fandom Friday on Sunday: 5 Nerdiest Things I've Ever Done

I am one of those pedantic assholes who imposes very clear boundaries around "nerd," "geek," and "dork," even if I value all three. Liz Green nails it. I've fallen in the "nerd" circle of that Venn diagram more often than anything else, so my life has basically been one big nerd alert after another. Picking only five moments, then, might be tough, but I'll try to restrain myself. In chronological order:

1. I taught myself to read.

Courtesy Alejandro Escamilla

Sorry for this humble brag, but it is kind of a major nerdy accomplishment. I couldn't have done it without Lawyer Mom, either, who read to me and my brother every night when we were young. She also (very patiently) read all  of the cards in the Uncle Wiggly game out loud to me every time we played, even though as an adult she admitted it was the most tedious thing ever. If that laser-like focus on words and letters isn't nerdy, I don't know what is.

That said, I wasn't a total super genius. I could read okay but I had problems with writing that persisted for a little while. I had a tough time spelling my own name until I was 5, mostly because I refused to go by "Kate" or "Katy" or any other nickname.

2. My 64-slide Power Point presentation about stars.

Courtesy Blair Fraser
I just feel bad for all of the other fifth-graders who had to sit through it.

3. My commitment to Reading Olympics.
Reading Olympics is very much a southeastern PA/Philly metro thing. It's too bad, because it's really fun and it's a great way to get students to read books they wouldn't normally read and to read outside of class.

Basically, at the beginning of the school year a list of 50 books comes out at the elementary, middle, and high school level. Teams are encouraged to read all of them and then, in the spring, attend a tournament and answer a bunch of trivia questions about said books. In other words, it was everything I loved, together at last: reading and trivia competitions.

Of course by high school, Reading Olympics was definitely not the cool, fun thing to do anymore; I was one of a handful of students that stuck with the game all the way through their school career.

4. The "power hour" bash script I wrote.

for ((i=0;i<=59;i+=1)); do
for ((x=1;x<=60;x+=1)); do
sleep 1
echo $x "seconds"
xmms --fwd
Specifically, it would automatically advance to the next song in an XMMS playlist every 60 seconds, so that we could all relax and just enjoy the beers. Better partying through Linux.

5. The entire Kokoba jewelry line.

Kokoba display at the Da Vinci Science Center

Biology genetics DNA double helix bracelet
DNA double helix maille bracelets

I don't think it gets much nerdier than STEM jewelry?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Trek Thursday: Whom the Gods Destroy

#23: Whom the Gods Destroy

In case you forgot: The Enterprise is delivering a medicine that will basically cure every mental illness ever to a penal colony, only to discover that the inmates are running the asylum. (So just one chemical, medical cure can be effective on a variety of alien races and undo all kinds of past traumas and crimes? I guess it was a more naive time.) The leader of the lunatics, Garth, can change form at will, but Spock outsmarts him and saves the day.

This episode never really drags or lulls, and Kirk and Spock do the best they can in a crazy situation. Both are clearly on their game in this one: Kirk has given the rare order for a "call sign" before beaming aboard (guess all those evil/possessed Kirks in the first two seasons finally convinced Kirk and the Enterprise to tighten their security) and Spock is able to rationally and logically deduce which of the Kirks is the real Jim.

Marta and Garth, leaders of the inmates, are also unhinged in a way that isn't cringe-inducing; it's actually pretty good entertainment. Garth, in particular, does a lot with a character that could just as easily be a cackling rip-off of the Joker. It's nice to see him played mostly straight, because that makes his madness that much more menacing. The banter between him and Marta is legitimately pretty funny; the two have decent rapport, if not chemistry.

Garth's shape-shifting power, though, is a little too much to swallow. The episode waves it away as "it's a technique he learned" but that seems pretty cheap. Would it be so much to give him a little hand-held remote or some other piece of alien technology?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What I Read: A Tale for the Time Being

Courtesy HaikuGirl and Canongate

I saw this book all over the book blogosphere. It piqued my interest because I'm working on a writing project about literary "found footage" and A Tale for the Time Being sounded like it was operating in a similar vein. (The hype it was getting was not the kind of hype I'm allergic to, i.e. Harry Potter hype or John Green hype.) But I'm a busy person, and kind of broke, so I just put it on a list to get "someday" and kept on keeping on. 

Lucky for me, my boss-friend picked this one up, and decided against keeping it in her permanent book collection. This one came in the same package as The Prophet Murders, but I put off reading it because 1) I had Swedish reading to focus on (including another novel in the Turkish Delight series) and 2) it is definitely a Bagel Book. I could tell that as soon as I started reading.

In a nutshell, A Tale for the Time Being is about a woman in Canada, Ruth, who finds and reads a diary that washed up along the coast. It turns out to be written by a Japanese schoolgirl, Nao, some years earlier.

Of course it's also about much more than that. There's prehistoric flora, quantum entanglement, philosophy, Zen monks, and insects (among others). But everything falls under that found diary and Ruth's relationship to it.

Ozeki displays an incredible technical range. She ends up writing from the perspective of five different people (not all of them are equally prominent; I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the book focuses primarily on two of them, so the book is much more focused than it sounds like it would be with 5 different protags) and gives them all incredibly distinct and personal voices. There are other metatextual indications when the writing shifts perspective, like a different font or a chapter title or so on, but Ozeki gives each of them a strong enough voice that you would be able to tell anyway.

A Tale for the Time Being is not only a technical achievement, though. Ozeki also creates a compelling story. By the end I put all thoughts of Bagel Books aside and plowed through because I wanted to find out what happened. I may have cried at a couple of points, even.

According to my GoodReads widget and some bonus calculations (some Swedish editions I read were unavailable on GoodReads?), I've read 18 books this year. A Tale for the Time Being is definitely my favorite so far and will more than likely remain my favorite for the entire year.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Five Fandom Friday (on Saturday): 5 Binge-Worthy TV Shows

Image courtesy Takkk
I have a love-hate relationship with television. As in: I hate 90% of it, but then there is a 10% that I am absolutely obsessed with.

The dawn of the web and cheap broadband connections and affordable video technology is going to do a lot to change the face of what we used to call "television." One day there is going to be an independent web series—not something still semi-corporate like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, but something that's just a bunch of artists without much money doing what they love—that absolutely blows. up. That will change entertainment forever, and (I think) for the better. I look forward to that day.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that there is that 10% of corporate/mainstream/whatever television that I not only like but feel compelled to watch in marathon sessions.

Confession: when I do these 5 Fandom Friday posts, I always feel conflicted about whether I should count "up" or "down" (that is, should I start with my top choice or leave it for last?). Usually I count "up" and start with my top choice, but I don't know, that seems like bad blog practice. So I'm switching it up a bit today.

#5. Other Space

So this one is cheating a bit, since it's new to Yahoo! Screen and has only one season so far, but whatever. I think it's great. I'm hoping it continues into season 2 and beyond, because I think the writers have a lot of potential to work with!

#4. Elementary

Once upon a time, I really liked Sherlock. Then the writing went down the toilet, Moffat showed his ass as an all-around douchecanoe with a heaping helping of misogyny to boot, and I said, "No." Fortunately Elementary was there to fill the void. It's impossible for me to watch anything less than like three episodes at a go. 

Of course, I say that as if Elementary is a knock-off of Sherlock and it isn't, it just had the bad luck to not be the first to air. 

Imagine the original ACD stories as your favorite band. If Sherlock is something like a really good/cross-genre cover band, then Elementary is like a brand new original band made up of musicians who have the same favorite that you do. If you want the exact same songs, maybe updated or fancied up somehow, then Sherlock is your bag. If you want new material, with maybe a riff or a cover thrown in once in a while, then Elementary is what you're after.

#3. The Queen's Classroom

Okay, so even though I am perpetually faux homesick (faumesick?) for South Korea and loved my time teaching there, I never got into the whole K-drama scene. Unless you're big into American soap operas, K-dramas are just way too melodramatic to take seriously. Either that, or they're marketing gimmicks to push some new idols the record labels are hoping will be The Next Big Thing.

The Queen's Classroom is a rare exception. It came out after I had left Korea so I had to wait for it to be uploaded on sites like Drama Addiction and so on, and it was torture. TORTURE. Such cliffhanger endings and plot twists and just ugh. So many gut punches. If you want to watch it (and you should), you really need to watch it in one huge binge otherwise you won't be able to deal. Trust me on this one.

I'm not sure if it was a side effect of having to read subtitles instead of just watching and listening, but the kid actors were actually good actors. It was also refreshing to see a show with characters who all looked human and different, instead of characters who have all undergone the same cosmetic surgery procedures to look more like an incredibly bland beauty ideal.

Of course, the Korean show is an adaptation of a Japanese show. The story is basically the same, so if you'd rather practice your Japanese, that version works just as well.

#2. Community

Image courtesy Keith McDuffee
Oh, the little Internet cult favorite that could! I disagree with most of the rest of fandom (and, I guess, the actors, too) who loathe season 4. I love just about every episode. I love the wide range of interesting characters. I like the show's dedication to reusing secondary/side characters as often as possible: Leonard, Garrett, (Fat) Neil, Vicky, Starburns, Annie Kim. I love (most of) the writing. The show is damn near perfect (and might be the Internet series that changes television? we'll see!). I don't think I've ever not laughed in an episode. Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, a marathon of my favorite Community episodes is the best thing to pick me up.

#1. Mystery Science Theater 3000

I didn't know this book existed until today, but now I need it more than anything.

I spent my childhood growing up on cartoons and PBS and other things that, while I liked them, weren't an obsession. This all changed when my brother told me about a show he had seen on the SciFi channel. I must have been 11  at the time, and my brother 8, so it's a credit to his brains that he 1) was interested in the show at all and 2) thought it was hilarious. I don't remember how I found it after that—my brother's description and explanation of the joke was not the funniest-sounding thing and I was skeptical—but I remember that my first episode was Prince of Space and that I thought it was amazing. From that moment on, I was hooked.

That summer Saturday morning basically changed the course of the rest of my life. That story is worth a post on its own, so I'll refrain from going into details here, but more than any other show on this list, MST3K is my show. That's why it's #1. And yes, even though each episode is 90 minutes long, I have been known to have marathon sessions.

What are your binge-worthy watches?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Trek Thursday: The Dagger of the Mind

#24: The Dagger of the Mind

 In case you forgot: Kirk and a pretty lady doctor investigate a penal colony while Spock and McCoy try to get answers from an escaped assistant. Turns out the head doctor at the penal colony, Dr. Adams, has been using a brainwave altering device to manage and rehabilitate the inmates, though it's less a rehabilitation technique and more a method of torture.

Another episode with McCoy and Spock working together, all right! It's also interesting (and refreshing) to note that Spock doesn't immediately discount McCoy's intuition about Van Gelder's condition. Maybe Spock recognizes the value of a good hunch now and then, or maybe he realizes something is up as soon as the computer reveals that Van Gelder isn't an inmate but an assistant—that's Doctor Van Gelder to you. Speaking of Spock, this is the first episode we see with the Vulcan mind meld, so the episode would be noteworthy for that regardless of anything else.

Dr. Adams also manages to be a frightening menace. There's something about the antagonists who welcome Kirk in with smiles and open arms who are creepier and more threatening than the standard monster of the week/Klingon war ship/etc. The neural neutralizer is a fun little sci-fi plot device, and Adams dying at the hands of it is fitting comeuppance.

But a Trek episode wouldn't be a Trek episode with a poorly-written woman character! Dr. Helen Noel is, for the most part, bland and uninteresting. She has no personality aside from a schoolgirl crush on Kirk and a naive trust in Dr. Adams (does she not notice the prisoner's uniformly blank stares?). At least the episode gives her some smarts in the Enterprise versus Adams showdown; she's bright enough to feign unconsciousness (kicking a guy into live wires, gruesome!) and grab a weapon at the first available chance. But that's all she gets.

In general, the episode moves at an engaging clip until Kirk insists on trying what we know to be the neural neutralizer, at which point it starts to lag. That time could have been better spent on the rehabilitation of Dr. Van Gelder and Kirk. We don't really get to see how the work of the neural neutralizer is undone: is it the same machine, just in better hands? Is it a lot of therapy or hypnosis? Does it always work? Answers to those questions would have been more interesting than watching Kirk spaz out in a futuristic dentist's office.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Walking (Cycling) the Lord of the Rings

One of my ongoing 101 in 1001 challenges is cycling to Mordor, a fitness challenge originally called The Éowyn challenge or Walk to Rivendell.

I hate most fitness challenges because they are either about losing weight/getting smaller, or they quickly become impossible for someone who is not already pretty fit (yours truly). Never mind that they seem motivated by some kind of public humiliation and belief that health is some kind of moral responsibility. (It isn't, by the way. Neither is happiness.)

But walking (or running, or swimming, or cycling) the Lord of the Rings novels just takes mileage. It doesn't say anything about how long it has to take you, or how you have to do it. You just keep adding your numbers on. That's all there is to it. If you want, you can make yourself a map to keep track of your progress. I did, because it's really neat to "see" yourself travel through Middle Earth:

I began in around October of 2013, and so far I'm nearly to Rauros Falls. That's like 2127 kilometers. (My brain is used to miles but my stationary bike is in kilometers so...) Is that the snappiest pace? No, obviously the Fellowship did not take eighteen months just to get to the breaking point at the end of Fellowship/the beginning of The Two Towers. But 1) they had horses and 2) they're fictional. The point is, it makes hopping on the bike and sweating for a half hour just a little more rewarding, and I'll take all the reward I can get because I like moving about as much as a sloth.

If you have a hard time getting excited about movement, this might be just the thing to get you moving. (If you're a Tolkien fan, anyway.) Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Trek Thursday: The Squire of Gothos

#25: The Squire of Gothos

In case you forgot: An alien fascinated with 19th century Europe holds the Enterprise crew captive for his amusement. Things get a little "The Most Dangerous Game" in the last act, but the alien's parents show up and put an end to all this nonsense.

"The Squire of Gothos" has one of the more credible explanations as to why the alien culture of the week is so remarkably similar to some point in the Earth's past. That explanation isn't just throwaway  "how do we explain the sets this week?" rationalizing, either, as it is actually entirely relevant to the plot. It also has some messed-up fridge horror moments: Trelane's parents allude to him being naughty before, so just how many live specimens has he "played with," even killed, before meeting the Enterprise? How many more will have to suffer until he learns his lesson?

William Campbell is great fun as "General" Trelane, the titular Squire of Gothos. It's too bad this and Captain Koloth in "The Trouble With Tribbles" are the only roles he got in TOS.

Check out the salt vampire in his collection! Maybe Trelane was the cause of their extinction...?

And finally, not sure if it was intentional or not, but it's a fun little history joke when Trelane presents a pair of dueling pistols "like the ones that shot Alexander Hamilton." Like Trelane, Hamilton was the one challenged to the duel and, also like Trelane, when he shot first he intentionally missed his target.

An episode not entirely without flaws, mostly with the titular character. Campbell plays an excellent pompous, grandiose General Trelane (retired). but is much more grating as Trelane the admonished child. Kirk manages to escape with his life (and his ship) because Mr. and Mrs. Trelane caught on to their son's antics in time, not because of any act of tactical genius or sudden insight. It's a cop-out deus ex machina sort of ending.

The whole hunt with Kirk and Campbell is just incredibly silly. Arguably this could be a good point, depending on your tastes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I Read: The Prophet Murders

Once upon a time, a book called The Kiss Murder showed up in my GoodReads feed. I may or may not have shrieked and immediately alerted my boss-friend to it, as it concerns Turkish transvestites, a topic near and dear to her heart. But she could only find another book in the series (The Prophet Murders) and only in English, rather than in Turkish like she would have preferred. She still bought it, read it, and promptly sent to me (along with some pistachio chocolate, yum). I devoured it in my turn and it's now soon on its way to another book friend (they don't know they'll be getting it yet, it's going to be the best surprise package ever!).

Protip: Google image searching "Prophet Murders" is fairly depressing.

The Prophet Murders is a straightforward murder mystery thriller; regarding plot, it is more or less by the numbers. What makes it (and the series) unique is that it concerns Istanbul's transvestite nightlife: the victims are all transgender sex workers whose legal, male names come out of the Koran—specifically, the names of the prophets. What's more, their deaths are based on the stories about this or that prophet. "Jonas" is found in the ocean, "Joseph" turns up in a dry well, and so on. Their deaths are written off by the local police force for fairly obvious reasons, so it's up to the genderqueer protagonist (who happens to be part owner of a transvestite nightclub) to protect his girls and solve the mystery.

Is it cheap and tawdry and Othering of me to like it precisely because it is so different? I don't know. It's interesting, at least, and the unnamed protagonist would be fun and snarky and sassy regardless. One gets the impression that Mehmet Somer is writing not from imagination but from experience and that makes it feel less creepy and gawky.

I cut my reading teeth on mysteries, starting with Sherlock Chick and then The Boxcar Children and then a full-blown Agatha Christie addiction. It's my favorite genre, if an oversaturated one, and Somer's terrifically characterized detective and unusual milieu makes the Hop-Ciki-Yaya* books stand out. If you're a fan of the genre, The Prophet Murders won't disappoint. The perfect reading for the beach or subway.

The books also have a Swedish translation, and trashy murder mysteries are at the perfect language level for my Swedish. Right now I'm reading The Lipstick Murder (Lustmorden, in Swedish), and after that there's one more available at Stockholm library. There's one more available in English elsewhere; the remaining books in the series have yet to be translated. I hope they come soon! My Swedish could use it.

* Hop-Ciki-Yaya isn't the name of the detective, but a throwback term used to refer to gay men. Somer explains: "Hop-Çiki-Yaya was a cheerleading chant from Turkish colleges in the early 1960s, and it came to be used in comedy shows to mean gays. If somebody was queenish, then they'd say 'Oh, he's Hop-Çiki-Yaya'. By the 70s, it wasn't being used anymore - so I brought it back." Apparently the English name of the series is "The Turkish Delight Series."

Monday, May 4, 2015

101 in 1001 Aftermath

Unlike my first list, I totally lost track of the end date of my second 101 in 1001 list. In all the craziness of my March and April I forgot to check on the list I set up at the Day Zero Project; turns out this list was over on March 29. Oops!

I did about as well on this list as I did on my first list, and only because I made some softball, list-related goals part of the list. Like: finishing writing the list, updating about the list, commenting on other people's lists, and so on. In total I finished a solid 60% of my tasks, which is not so bad but also not as good as it could be. 

Life is still too hectic for me to write and commit to a new list right now. But I'm going to continue with it after I get back from my trip to the US.

If you're curious about what I did and didn't do this list, it's after the jump. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read up on the 101 in 1001 challenge here. I encourage you to give it a shot! I'll probably post later with tips and advice for a good 101 in 1001 experience. Feel free to share your own experiences with 101 in 1001 in the comments, too!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Personal Project: Becky and Joe's Wedding

It's been quiet around these parts. Apologies, (new) readers! It's been a whirlwind last few weeks for me. My cosmopolitan lifestyle is cool but it can also be really stressful. Who would have guessed? Fortunately, this should be the hardest year (knock on wood) and in the future I won't have to go dark in April because I'm so overloaded with getting my "business" in order for tax season while still working as usual and studying and planning a vacation.

Yes, vacation! My friend Becky is having a forest-themed wedding in June and I'm a part of it! It'll be great to see her and all of my college friends in June, but I won't lie: the stress of planning a month-long trip up the West Coast (um, anyone want to hang out?) made me kind of crazy at times. But now all the hard stuff (figuring out where I'm going to stay, who I'm going to see, buying my Greyhound tickets) is done, so I can just kick back and relax.

Making jewelry isn't like therapy so much as it is a reward. I don't make a whole lot while I'm stressed (no time! no space!) but once I start feeling like myself again after a long stretch of time, or once I start feeling bored instead of OMG WHY IS THERE NOT ENOUGH TIME, then I start making stuff. This was a "reward" project.

I wanted to do something a little different with this necklace, since it was for a special occasion. I wanted it to relate to the wedding or the wedding theme, too. Instead of just digits of an irrational number, I eventually decided on a pattern featuring Fibonacci numbers and mirror symmetry. Both of those things are often found in nature, and in the woods in particular. The colors of the Red Creek jasper also (hopefully!) complement the rest of the wedding party's choice in green. They definitely go with my wine-colored dress, at any rate.

The large oval beads were a gift from a coworker at my old job at the bead shop before I moved to Sweden. That makes them a couple of years old (oops!), but I wanted to save them for a special occasion. My fellow crafters know this exact feeling: you get a craft supply you love, but sometimes it takes a while for the idea to come to you. I was beginning to feel guilty about not making something with these beads earlier, but now I'm glad I waited. 

Now to relax a bit more and dive into my blog backlog!