Monday, January 30, 2017

Newly Listed: Orange Fiber Optic Bracelet

One of the reasons I make jewelry is to self-soothe. I'd continue to make jewelry even if I didn't have an Etsy shop and even if no one bought it. And I felt so awful this past weekend (for a lot of reasons, not least of which was I have friends who are Iranian citizens and they have family and friends in the United States on green cards or other guest visas) that I forced myself to sit down and make something. It kept me distracted for all of ten minutes.

Sciart STEM computer science jewelry gamer programmer blogger bracelet
Orange fiber optic bracelet by Kokoba
This is basically the end of my fiber optic stash, at least in orange. I still have some light blue left.

There's a matching pair of earrings, though, if you're into that:

Sciart STEM computer science jewelry gamer programmer blogger earrings
Orange fiber optic earrings by Kokoba

Stay positive, y'all. Stay fighting.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

#TBT Truncated Bohr Radius Bracelet in Amethyst and Lapis

Of course as soon as I was featured at STARtorialist's booth at AAS 229, I came down with a cold (and work) and haven't been listing new stuff in the shop. OF COURSE.

One piece I managed to get up there is a Kokoba beta release. Judging by the design this is probably from 2011? Or so?

Science physics sciart jewelry Bohr amethyst lapis bracelet
Truncated Bohr Radius Bracelet by Kokoba
It's more old stock that Lawyer Mom has been holding on to, at any rate.

The number featured is a truncated version of the Bohr radius. I don't usually like truncating the physical constants if I can help it, so I suspect this was a stash buster to use up the rest of some supplies (probably the lapis beads used in between digits). I always have loads of amethyst in my bead box.

Science physics sciart jewelry Bohr amethyst lapis bracelet

(Incidentally, Steven Universe has made it a lot more exciting to just casually mention gemstones in my posts, haha. I wish I could hang out with Amethyst in real life!)

Science physics sciart jewelry Bohr amethyst lapis bracelet

A few years ago I made an effort to branch out into other numbers/constants. Years later I'm not sure which ones I should focus on. The Bohr radius seems a little obscure—maybe I would be better off sticking with G and c? I don't know. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I Read: Both Flesh and Not

Continuing on my book club theme, we decided to host a book and bookmark exchange. My partner in the swap very generously sent me two books and an adorable punny bookmark. One of those books was Both Flesh and Not, a collection of disparate David Foster Wallace essays that came out in 2012 (but that I had somehow never acquired).

Image courtesy Little, Brown and Company

At this point I recognize that it's something of a trend or stereotype to love David Foster Wallace, but I don't care. I'll sit here and love him anyway. (Or at least, love his writing.) I don't know how much of this collection would be of interest to either my blog readers or my target demo customer base; the latter, at least, would probably enjoy "Rhetoric and the Math Melodrama," Wallace's review of The Wild Numbers and Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (which originally appeared in a 2000 issue of Science magazine). Part of my love for Wallace is that we both occupy the Venn diagram overlap of "formal creative writing" studies and "formal philosophy" studies; the other part of my love for Wallace is his love for and interest in mathematics, a field I'd like to understand much more than I currently do. It's that love and interest that forms the background his critique of the aforementioned "math melodrama" novels.

Other subjects include Roger Federer, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 2007's Best American Essays, thoughts on word usage, Wittgenstein's Mistress, and more.

Readers who are new to Wallace might do better with This is Water, his Kenyon College commencement address, which by virtue of being a spoken/presented piece rather than a written one, makes the reading a little easier. But if you like syntactically and conceptually dense writing, by all means jump in with an essay collection (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, Both Flesh and Not) or a novel (The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest). I admit to not liking his short stories (Girl With the Curious Hair, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men) as much, but I'm not much of a short story fan to begin with.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Newly Listed: DNA Chainmaille Earrings

I am team No Piercings, which means that 90% of the time I completely neglect making earrings, and then 10% of the time I remember that other people have holes in their ears and binge-make a whole bunch. (Of earrings, not ears.) Here are the goodies from my latest binge: chainmaille DNA earrings.

Biology sciart science jewelry double helix DNA earrings
Chainmaille DNA earrings by Kokoba

I use two different weaves that resemble DNA's double helix spiral: This is Not Food and Inverted Spiral. (I also want to be very clear: these weaves are not my creation!) These earrings are an example of This is Not Food.

Biology sciart science jewelry double helix DNA earrings

The jump rings and the ear wire are both base metal (an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc). I'm not comfortable enough with maille to pull out the big precious metal guns, but one day! However, these and all of my earrings can be set on sterling silver ear wire for those of you with sensitive skin or nickel allergies. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday 5: Questions to Make Your Hands Clammy

Apropos as fuck for our fishy-ass new commander-in-chief.

Who’s been a ray of sunshine lately?

My English students. In Cure, Marchant cites a study about how spending just an hour with kids every week can keep the elderly from slipping into the worst pits of old age: depression, dementia, aches and pains, etc. Even though it involves waking up early on a Sunday, the three hours I spend with my students does a lot to affect my mood. They don't always want to study, but they're always happy to see me and having the time to play and chat with them afterwards makes it all worth it. The weeks where I don't have any tutoring appointments are the weeks I end up feeling the crappiest.

Hah, crappy!

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

When do you next expect to be stuffed to the gills?

Tonight's pizza night, so in a few hours?

Among people you know, who can really tell a whale of a tale?

Back when I was a cave tour guide, one of my coworkers was the most ridiculous compulsive liar ever. It took me a little while to catch on—I'm naive—but things just spiraled out of control. It wasn't anything related to our job, so it didn't really matter, but he was just so OTT.

What’s something you’ve been herring good things about?

One of my friends just recommended The OA, so JV and I will probably start watching that soon.

Which of the S.S. Minnow‘s passengers or crew do you think you’d get along best with?

I don't know. I haven't seen a single episode of Gilligan's Island. Weirdly enough, JV and I only just got around to watching the MST3K episode The Space Children, featuring the professor as a drunk child beater! (It also had Uncle Fester as a rocket scientist.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

TBT: Purple and Yellow Fiber Optic Earrings

The goodie bags I picked up on my trip to the US in October seem like they're bottomless! But I think we're approaching the end. At least, the end of pieces I don't want to cannibalize for something better. Eight? Nine? years later and I still like these fiber optic earrings enough to keep them as is.

Computer Science Jewelry - Fiber Optic Earrings - Gamer Programmer Sciart STEM Internet Cybertwee Jewelry
Purple and yellow fiber optic earrings from Kokoba
Fun fact: purple and gold are actually my high school colors, but I didn't make these out of a fit of ~~be true to your school~~. I just think they look nice together!

Computer Science Jewelry - Fiber Optic Earrings - Gamer Programmer Sciart STEM Internet Cybertwee Jewelry
Purple and yellow fiber optic earrings

I think I'll be back in the US in August; I'm wondering if I should pick up as many fiber optic beads as I can get my hands on. It's probably a dated look for most people (the stock these beads came from dated back to the 80s or maybe early 90s), but I think there's potential for a nerdy niche market. Maybe?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I Read: The Road to Mecca

My book club is still going strong! We closed out 2016 with the religious travel memoir The Road to Mecca, Muhammad Asad's account of his travels and journalism within the Middle East and his eventual conversion to Islam.

Image courtesy Fons Vitae

In a world with ISIS and terror and xenophobia, it's more important than ever for all of us—elected officials, private citizens, government clerks who can change lives just by pushing paper—to remain curious and compassionate about the world around us. Books help us do just that. If your only exposure to a culture (or a religion, etc.) is its extremes, it's difficult to remember that there are nuances. Memoirs like The Road to Mecca highlight this nuance and paint a more detailed picture of mainstream Islam than what most Americans otherwise have access to.

Also, the writing is gorgeous.

The good news is that it's available for free (as in freedom and as in beer) online at, along with other works by Asad (including his English translation of the Koran).

Asad is not without criticism, from within and without the Muslim community. You can read a little about that from Martin Kramer. But you don't develop a nuanced and intuitive understanding of a culture without reading a variety of opinions and experiences; and again, the writing is gorgeous.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Talky Tuesday: Susan Pevensie

Long-time readers will know that I have VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS about Susan Pevensie and her fate in the Narnia books. Maybe you also have VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS about Susan Pevensie! If so, this Twitter thread will bring a scrap of joy to your heart, hardened by the dumpster fire that was 2016.

I mean, it doesn't excuse the fact that if Narnia's going to be an allegory for Christianity, Susan having doubts amounts to holding a VERY BIG IDIOT BALL—I think even the most fervent believers would admit that God and spiritual experiences aren't nearly as immediate and concrete as the physical world. Susan losing her faith is one thing; Susan drastically rewriting her own past is something else entirely. So it's a little clunky, still. But at least it's less spiteful? I hope? Big ups either way for the man to encourage his readers to write their own stories, and also tears to my eyes for all of the children who were so upset about Susan that they wrote their favorite author about it. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Newly Relisted: Faux Turquoise Gravity Necklace

This time last year I was in the middle of schoolwork and paperwork. This time, things are much more chill (in my life at least—things in the world at large are probably going to get a lot less chill very soon). So happy anniversary you, faux turquoise (dyed howlite) G necklace I put together to decompress! It's a shame no one's adopted you yet. Maybe I need to reshoot some of your photos?

Turquoise physics science necklace sciart teacher jewelry gift
Newtonian Constant of Gravitation Necklace by Kokoba

Otherwise, allow me to reiterate the point I made (one year ago today, actually!) why I have a hard time incorporating G into things, particularly necklaces.
The disadvantage to this particular number is that it's short: it's a physical constant, not an irrational, so it can't go on forever, and even compared to other physical constants I have less to work with it's rather brief: 
Newtonian constant of gravitation: 6.67408: 31 or 32 beads for the digits (depending on the design), and 5 for spacers (if I decide to use them) 

Speed of light: 2.99792548: 55 beads for the digits, and 8 for the spacers (depending on the design) 
Avogadro's number: 6.022140857: 35 or 36 beads (depending on the design) and 9 for spacers (also depending on the design)

so gravity is one of those that ends up being too long for a bracelet, but too short for a necklace. It's good anklet length but who wears those anymore?

Of course, the other option (which I've done on occasion) is to bead a focal piece and then add a chain on either side to make it a comfortable length. A fairly elegant hack, as this allows you to put the entire number on display instead of hiding the first and last few digits on the back of your neck. On the other hand, necklaces tend to slide a lot and so you'll probably end up having to adjust it a couple times a day, or just be cool with the focal point getting pulled halfway up your neck.
Otherwise I tend to stick with bracelets for G, like these:

STEM sciart physics teacher science jewelry gravity bracelet
Newtonian constant of gravitation bracelet by Kokoba

Or this one:

STEM sciart physics teacher science jewelry gravity bracelet
Newtonian constant of gravitation bracelet by Kokoba
If you found me by way of STARtorliast or their booth at AAS 229, don't forget that your discount code is valid all the way until March 31st!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trek Thursday: Netflix!

All of the Star Trek you could ever want (and more) is finally available on NetFlix! (Also, JV and I got with the times and got NetFlix.) And which version are we currently watching?

The Animated Series, natch. The one that everyone either trash talks or pretends doesn't exist, and the only incarnation to be less popular than Enterprise. (I mean, that poll is hardly scientific, but I don't think it's controversial to say that everyone dumps on Enterprise.)

Maybe I'll do an episode ranking, or maybe I'll just episode reviews as we watch them. Who knows? But oh man, I love that janky-ass 70s animation!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What I Played: Analogue: A Hate Story

My first foray into visual novels (if the game can be counted as such) was last year, with Long Live the Queen. A year and change later, I just finished (mostly) my second: Analogue: A Hate Story.

Image courtesy Raide and Love Conquers All Games
The idea is that you are some kind of data hunter, tasked with fishing out some data from a long-abandoned  space colonizing vessel, the Mugunghwa (pronounced moo-goong-hwa; in English it's Rose of Sharon, the national flower of Korea [both Koreas; this is a symbol that dates back to the Shilla dynasty]).

Mugungwha at a grave site in Uijeongbu, South Korea
During the job you interact with two different AIs, who share different logs from the long-dead residents of the Mugunghwa. Those logs comprise the story of Analogue. There are also dating sim overtones, as your dialogue choices with the AIs determine if you leave the job with none, one, or both of them downloaded to your own computer. More importantly, your choices dictate which logs they decide to show you.

The science fiction background story is essentially "Joseon Korea in space," which is an interesting conceit that could have been better explored but wasn't.

I appreciated the wrinkle of having to do things in the terminal to move the story along, even solving the game's one and only puzzle. (It's a tricky puzzle; I had to find a guide to get the answer.)

Analogue is a lot more forgiving than Long Live the Queen. You can't really die—I guess maybe only if you don't solve the puzzle you can, but that's it. Your choices aren't so critical, either. This isn't to say that none of them matter. If you're too rude to Hyun-ae (the main AI), or too disinterested in her, she'll disconnect and you'll lose the game. If you neglect to talk to the AIs (by showing them certain logs), you won't unlock all of the content, and you certainly won't be able to finish the game. But Analogue has fewer choices than Long Live the Queen, and generally speaking they're a lot more forgiving.

As the story is presented achronologically, it's hard to tell what's happening at first. This is a point in the game's favor, as it makes repeated play-throughs more rewarding. I don't think I really understood things until I unlocked my third or fourth ending (out of seven total).

It's important to save! If only because it can be tedious to play through the entire story again if you just want to switch AIs or change options at a particular branch. There comes a point in the story, maybe like halfway or two-thirds in, where you're railroaded into finishing the game with whatever AI you're engaging with at the moment; if you want to get the other AI's ending(s) and you haven't saved in good time, you'll have to start from the beginning.

Overall it's cute. I don't think it's quite as holy shit!! as some of the breathless reviews on the website make it out to be, but I think it's a mildly interesting story presented in a really clever and creative way. I would have loved to see more backstory and less dating sim, but I admit I am way more interested in coherent and logical word building than the typical reader/gamer. On the other hand, I am a little bit of a Koreaboo (if you'll pardon the portmanteau) so a game that's "Joseon Korea in space!" is going to appeal to me no matter what. (For me, the best part were the Korean history resources Love lists in the end. Adding them to my endless TBR pile!)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Newly Listed: Blue Fiber Optic Earrings

Digging through all of my Kokoba Alpha Releases has yielded a lot of fiber optic jewelry. Some of it I still like; some of it I cannibalized for new work. These earrings are some of the latter.

Fiber optic computer science earrings by Kokoba
This find very nicely coincides with my discovery of the cybertwee aesthetic. I'm not the femme-iest feminist that ever feministed, but I'm all for an aggressively femme-y takeover of the cyberpunk aesthetic, if only because it might well annoy people I enjoy annoying. And these earings fit right in with this takeover.

Fiber optic earrings
The beads in these earrings, like my other computer science jewelry, are made from the same optical fibers that power today's Internet, making them a great gift for your favorite blogger/gamer/coder/Internet junkie. Optical fibers been used in beads for (probably?) longer than they've been used in telecom, as they have that distinctive "cat's eye" light effect. The beads used here date back to at least the 80s, I'm pretty sure.

And for your reading pleasure, the cybertwee manifesto.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cultivar or Racehorse?: Apples

Time for the next installment in my periodic Cultivar or Racehorse? series. This round of Cultivar or Racehorse? features apples. There are so many apple cultivars, you guys. So. Many. And so many of them have really goofy names. It was hard to narrow it down to just a few choices; there will definitely be another round of Cultivar or Racehorse? Apples Edition in the future.

(Aside: I love doing these posts but formatting in Blogger is a pain in the ass, holy shit!)

Anyway, away we go!

Can you guess whether the names below are an apple cultivar or a racehorse?

1. Big Brown

Apple cultivar...

...or racehorse?





It's a racehorse!

2. SuperMac

Apple cultivar...

...or racehorse?





It's an apple!

3. Desert Gold
Apple cultivar...

...or racehorse?




It's a racehorse!

4. Frankel

Apple cultivar...
...or racehorse?




It's a racehorse!

5. Braeburn

Apple cultivar...

...or racehorse?




It's an apple!

6. Enterprise

Apple cultivar...

...or racehorse?




It's an apple!

7. Varenne

Apple cultivar...
...or racehorse?




It's a racehorse!

How'd you do? Feeling up to more Cultivar or Racehorse? Then you can try my earlier "Pears" edition. Let me know on Twitter how you did, and if you have suggestions for future Cultivar or Racehorse? rounds!

Photo credits:
  • Apples: Arien, bhjoco, cooee, cherylholt, dodgerton_skillhause, stachoo, and lisa-leo at
  • Horses: jade, seriousfun, jade, GaborFromHungary, Limp182, frequenceturf, and ainslieGP at

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday 5: Animate

How is it Friday already? This week just flew by!

Me ringing in Lunar New Year 2010, Year of the Tiger (my year!), in Beijing

This week's Friday 5 is inspired by the Chinese zodiac, although Lunar New Year isn't until January 28th. Anyway, the questions!

In what ways are you like an ox?

I'm fat and I'm partial to eating plants and dairy instead of meat, I guess.

In what ways are you like a rabbit?

None, but JV and I are low-key obsessed with rabbits. We have a couple of stuffed bunnies around the apartment, purchased when one of us has wanted to cheer up the other (and one from his childhood). This includes Benny, Nina, Ella, and Ha$$e. Yes, with the dollar signs.

In what ways are you like a snake?

I'm cold all the damn time. Which isn't what being cold-blooded means, I realize, but I still seem to need the heat cranked up more than most people do.

In what ways are you like a goat?

More or less how I'm like an ox, I guess? Minus the fat part. Goats aren't really that big.

I legit thought goats ate tin cans until I was, well, old enough to know better (hint: I had already graduated college). No one disabused me of this notion until I made an offhand comment to Lawyer Mom, who looked at me askance and then said slowly, as if explaining to a child: "No, Katherine, they eat the paper off tin cans. Not the actual cans."

In what ways are you like a rooster?

I am SO LOUD. I either have all the chill or ZERO CHILL AT ALL.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What I Read: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I actually snuck this one in before the end of the year, but I had such a spate of reading during November and December that I didn't have room in my schedule for a book review until today.

Happy New Year, by the way. I guess. I'm not feeling too optimistic about it, myself. But anyway!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe got a lot of buzz from blogs and BookTubers alike. So when I saw it at the library (when I went to return The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, actually) I figured I'd give it a shot. I mean, look at that cover. Look at all of those awards!

Image courtesy Chloë Foglia and Simon & Schuster
And, while I didn't want to throw the book across the room, I also didn't like it as much as everyone else did.

Well, that's not entirely true. I liked most of the book as much as everyone else did—I just side-eyed the ending.

This is something that came up for me in Nimona as well: both stories feature a close friendship between two male characters that are intended by the author to be read as romantic. It's a little more explicit in Aristotle and Dante, obviously, but Noelle Stevenson has gone on record saying that Goldenloin and Ballister are absolutely canon.

And while, you know, hooray for representation, I'd like to take a moment to talk about how The Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. In this instance: we don't allow men to have emotional intimacy and vulnerability with other men without it immediately being read as romantic/sexual. I was gunning for Aristotle being straight (or, at least, not into Dante) the whole time. Not because I don't want stories about queer characters, but because I think a story about men being close friends is really important right now. Yeah, we have lots of models of scary-adventuring-heroes best friendship, but that's not friendship looks like for most kids. Where are the models of everyday emotional connection between men? Without the "no homo" punch line?

Never mind being a boy who has a gay best friend—how many gay men hesitate to come out to their male friends because they don't want to jeopardize the friendship? How many gay men are in love with one of their male friends who will never love them back—it would be nice to have models or roadmaps or at least stories about how other people dealt with that situation. Even fictional people.

But beyond my frustrations with representation, the whole ending felt rushed and too neatly tied up. The conversation that Ari's parents have with him about how they ~~just know that he's in love with Dante and how he should be brave and admit to himself is very deus ex machina, I don't care how many gay sisters Ari's mom has.

And finally, some factual nitpicking I didn't think of until I sat down to write a review: in a story about two gay (or at least bi?) teenage boys in the 80s, how is there no mention of AIDS? Things started blowing up in 1981, and And the Band Played On was published in 1987. Surely either Ari or Dante or someone around them would mention it, at least offhand? But I don't think anyone ever does. (Feel free to correct me on this point! I'm relying on memory here.) Did people in El Paso just not talk about AIDS in the mid-80s?

Everything else about the story is on point. Sáenz is a fantastic writer and he nails the very tricky problem of managing a teenage protagonist's voice perfectly. Ari is up there with Holden Caulfield: the right balance of insight and thoughtfulness with naivete.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Talky Tuesday: Word of the Year for 2017: Courage

The new year is always a popular time for people to decide to reinvent themselves, usually via resolutions they (statistically speaking) end up not keeping. I've never been one for resolutions, generally, but last year I decided to have a one-word mantra and guide post: focus. I've already reflected on how that ended up working out for me (pretty well, actually); now it's time to introduce my one-word guide post for 2017:

Image courtesy Samuel Scrimshaw

There is shit going on in the world that I can no longer ignore. Or, more accurately, that I can no longer only post about on Facebook and Twitter. As John Stuart Mill put it,
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
Emphasis there on "do nothing."

Nothing exemplified this idea like the dumpster fire that was 2016. It's easy to think that it's "enough" for you to not be racist, to not be sexist, to repost and retweet those snarky A+ quotes (that, thanks to the way we socialize and organize online, will never be seen by the people we imagine seeing them), maybe even to show up and vote every couple years and leave it at that.

Not so.

Voting is important (why do you think voter suppression is a real thing?), and not being a shitty person is definitely important, but it's not enough. Not anymore. Some former Congressional staffers have put together an awesome, no-nonsense guide to the next four years. Check it out.

So this is the year I will be a huge dork and call my representatives on the national and state level. I hate the phone and I hate talking to strangers, but my phone anxiety can go suck eggs. If it's the one thing I can do to be an activist while abroad, then I'll do it.

Things are going down in a bad way here in Sweden, as well. And while I'm due to get my citizenship (and voting rights!) soon, the same is true: it isn't enough to vote. Sure, the moral arc of history may bend towards justice, but it only does so thanks to activism and actions.

On a personal level, there are lots of career and vocational things that I should do that I realize I'm too afraid to do. I'm afraid to take risks and fail. I'm afraid to spend money on classes and certifications because what if I never use them? I'm afraid of being rejected. (The same can be said for social activities as well, I realize.) But if I want to be happy and self-sufficient, I need to learn to feel the fear and do it anyway. Have courage.

I also want to focus on the good in the world, too. I want to surround myself with stories about courageous people standing up for themselves and what's right. Inspiration is important!

Admittedly, I was torn on whether or not I wanted a new word for 2017, or if I still wanted to stick with focus. I don't think I've entirely mastered the lessons of focus yet, to be honest. But we'll see. Courage suddenly feels much more urgent.

Are you going to have a guiding word this year? If so, what it is it?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Kokoba at the 299th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society

I'm super fucking stoked to let you know that STARtorialist (a blog you should be following, FYI, if you like out of this world fashion, "out of this world," get it? get it????) will be featuring some of my pieces at their booth at the American Astronomical Society's 229th meeting this year in Grapevine, Texas!

I don't know who among you will be there, but please swing by and say hello! Some of the samples I sent over are some deep cuts I have yet to share here or on the shop.

All in all, it's a pretty stellar way to kick off the New Year!