Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday 5: Guestimation


How well do you adjust to sleeping in an unfamiliar place?
Very well. Sleeping in strange places never disturbs my sleep.

When were you recently someone’s guest, and when were you recently someone’s host?
I traveled around the northeast US last fall while I was home for a wedding, and my parents and a few high school and college friends were excellent hosts. The last time I was a proper host was maybe two years ago? A friend of mine came to Stockholm for a few days during an epic around-the-world tour.

What’s the ickiest place where you’ve ever showered or bathed?
I don't know about showering or bathing, but I've had to use some really questionable toilets over the course of my travels. I think the worst would have to be the squat toilets you occasionally find throughout Korea (and elsewhere, I can only assume).

What’s something you don’t need but insist on taking when you travel?
I always, always, always take too many books. The age of the ebook reader has helped a lot with this bad habit--now I can carry an entire library in my pocket!--but still, by all accounts I don't need to load up my Kindle app with all of those books. I'm just very optimistic about how I'll use all of that dead time while I'm in the air (or on the road).

Who’s got a comfy couch?
The couch in my parents' basement (if it's still there) is one of the most comfortable I've ever encountered. The friends in Albany that I visited during the aforementioned trip also have a fantastic, sleepable couch.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trek Thursday: Redskirts and Charlie X



The next episode of Redskirts is up! This week Diana and Anna tackle Charlie X, an episode I apparently liked more than they did.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I Read: No-No Boy

I have two big shout-outs/thanks in this post. First, for Adam over at Memento Mori who mentioned this in a haul or TBR or review video. As soon as he mentioned it, I realized that I hadn't really read anything about the Japanese internment camps, like, ever. I think we had a copy of Baseball Saved Us somewhere in the house, but I want to say it was my brother's (baseball fan that he is) and not mine. I might have never even read it and just remember the cover.

I've talked endlessly about how the TIME Top 100 Novels list is a lot of white dudes; I made some changes and turned it into my Classics Club List. I halfway knew early on in that goal that I wanted to read something by an East Asian author, a group that was more or less totally excluded from the original list. A friend recommended Farewell to Manzanar, which I still absolutely intend to read, but I had a hard time finding it in my libraries, and it felt a little weird to include a straight-up memoir on a list of novels. 

So Adam basically dropped the perfect book in my lap, or at least the perfect title. The second shout-out and thanks go to Henny Blanco (of Dirt Nap Podcast fame), who was kind enough send me a huge dump of ebooks from my Goodreads TBR, including . . . No-No Boy

Image courtesy of University of Washington Press
The story of John Okada, the author, is kind of tragic. No-No Boy is his only novel. It was published in 1957 to a lukewarm reception at best, and so he more or less left the writing world for the rest of his short life. He died in the early 70s of a heart attack, and while he was working on another novel at the time, the documents are lost to us so it's hard to tell if he just had notes, or if he had a completed draft, or if he had something almost completely finished.

The title refers to the loyalty questionnaire Nisei Americans (American-born Japanese) were asked to swear when being called up to the draft, which consisted of a number of questions. The last two were real humdingers:

Question 27: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?

Question 28: Will you swear unqualified allegiances to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or other foreign government, power or organization?

Thousands of people answered "no" to both questions and ended up serving time in prison for it, and they became known as "no-nos" or "no-no boys." Okada was not one of them, but the protagonist of his novel is. No-No Boy is the story of Ichiro Yamada, a no-no boy who comes back to his life in Seattle after his prison sentence. His mother is proud of him for being a no-no boy; she thinks Japan actually won the war, and that soon she and other loyal Japanese will get to go back. Others are, unsurprisingly, furious with Ichiro, white and Nisei alike. Eventually Ichiro runs into Kenji, a fellow Nisei and a veteran who lost his leg in the European theater and who is only getting more and more ill. Kenji seems to understand Ichiro, at least better than anyone else does, and the two spend a lot of time together as Ichiro tries to figure out his new place in the world. 

I'm so glad I finally got to read this. (Thanks again, Henny!) I'm not sure if I missed out on it during my American literature education because it's obscure, or because my education in particular was really spotty, or because I'm just not as well-read as I'd like to think.

There are a handful of books I review here that I really hope people will go out and read (if they haven't already). Usually it's because they're really good, but this is one I think we should read because it's important. Well, and it's also really good and worth reading regardless, but for all of the novels we have World War II veterans, it's important to remember what was happening to other Americans at the same time. No-No Boy widens that focus and broadens that perspective. I'll leave off with a quote from early on the in the novel, when Ichiro decides to pay a visit to the university where he was studying before the internment camps and then prison:

Not until the bus had traversed the business district and pointed itself toward the northeast did he realize that he was on the same bus which he used to take every morning as a university student. There had been such a time and he vividly brought to mind, with a hunger that he would never lose, the weighty volumes which he had carried against his side that the cloth of his pants became thin and frayed, and the sandwiches in a brown grocery bag and the slide rule with the leather case which hung from his belt like the sword of learning which it was, for he was going to become an engineer and it had not mattered that Japan would soon be at war with America. To be a student in America was a wonderful thing. To be a student in America studying engineering was a beautiful life. That, in itself, was worth defending from anyone and anything which dared to threaten it with change or extinction. Where was the slide rule, he asked himself, where was the shaft of exacting and thrilling discovery when I need it most? If only I had pictured it and felt it in my hands, I might well have made the right decision, for the seeing and feeling of it would have pushed out the bitterness with the greenness of the grass on the campus and the hardness of the chairs in the airy classrooms with the blackboards stretched wall-to-wall behind the professor, and the books and the sandwiches and the bus rides coming and going. I would have gone into the army for that and I would have shot and killed, and shot and killed some more, because I was happy when I was a student with the finely calculated white sword at my side. But I did not remember or I could not remember because, when one is born in America and learning to love it more and more every day without thinking it, it is not an easy thing to discover suddenly that being American is a terribly incomplete thing if one's face is not white and one's parents are Japanese of the country Japan which attacked America. It is like being pulled asunder by a whirling tornado and one does not think of a slide rule though that may be the thing which will save one. 

I hope that whet your appetite! If you've read No-No Boy, I'm curious about what you think. If not (or even if you have, I guess), what are some other under-read and underappreciated classics that you think should be more famous? Why?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Newly Listed: Rhodonite Speed of Light Bracelet

Well, I'm back to the land of the living! Jewelry-wise, anyway. A few nights ago I pulled out the ol' bead box and put together a few bracelets while JV and I listened to some podcasts.

There are so many interesting podcasts out there, both amateur and professional, that I want to listen to more often, but I find that I need something to do with my hands while I listen. Otherwise I alternate between spacing out and feeling guilty for not making better use of my time. The net result is that I'm trying to use listening to podcasts to put out more jewelry. (Even though I still have some alpha and beta release backlog to work through and list...)



This is the first in a couple new pieces. I'm trying to tilt things towards science, since there's more math than science in the shop right now. This bracelet features the speed of light (in meters per second).


Pink speed of light sciart physics science jewelry bracelet

The rhodonite chips are some that I reclaimed from an alpha release, and same with the round beads.

Pink speed of light sciart physics science jewelry bracelet


I don't usually work with just one stone in an entire piece, but I figured since I had rhodonite in both round beads and chips, it might be a nice, subtle look to go with. The grays in rhodonite still give it a little bit of visual interest., I think. And the random variation in the size and shape of the chips.

This is a memory wire cuff, which is my favorite to make (it doesn't require a lot of fussing with crimp beads and wire and jump rings) and my favorite to wear (one size fits all, no clasp to fiddle with yet incredibly secure). I try to branch out into other styles, but I keep coming back to memory wire again and again.

Speaking of podcasts, I'm also trying to have them on in the background while I write these up, just to work through the backlog of episodes. So right now I'm writing this up while I listen to The Dirt Nap.

Be on the lookout for more items going up in the following days!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday 5: Over/Under

What’s a film you consider overrated, and what’s a related or similar film you consider underrated?

This is actually a conversation I like to have with people. It's interesting to see when people's opinions diverge from the generally given consensus. It's been a long time since I've had this conversation with people, though.

The first answer that comes up for me is the Sam Raimi Spider-man movie. There was a lot of buzz about it when it first came out, so I went in with high hopes. Something just never clicked with me, though, and I left the theater feeling disappointed.

If I had to go with an underrated superhero movie (since we're in the genre), that's a little tougher. So I'll cheat and branch out a little bit, and say that some of my favorite movies are maybe in danger of becoming underrated or unknown. I'm a huge fan of The Marx Brothers, Vincent Price, and Gene Kelly (also major props to Donald O'Connor, an equally talented dancer who had the rotten luck of not being as handsome as Gene Kelly). It's good to appreciate the old as well as the new.

I will say this, though: of old things, I think The Three Stooges are fantastically overrated.

What’s overrated about the area in which you live, and what’s underrated about it?

I'm not sure what's overrated about Stockholm? But I don't think a lot of people realize how many (free!) museums there are in Stockholm, as well as festivals, concerts, and events. It has all of the culture of New York City, but with a fraction of the population.

Whose talent or skill is overrated, and whose is underrated?

This is a tricky one. I think I'll say that the concept of "talent" itself is overrated, as it leads to so much self-defeat. It takes a lot of work to get good at something, and if you just rely on focusing on what's easy the first time around, "you're gonna have a bad time."

I think people underrate the value of a good copyeditor, but I might just be biased. ;)

What item in the supermarket is overrated, and what’s underrated?

I will never be able to enjoy bacon the same way the rest of the world does. I can choke it down if I accidentally end up with some in a meal somewhere, but I'm still quite likely to pick it out. Nor have I ever developed a taste for coffee or fizzy drinks.

As for underrated, for years I labored under the false notion that cottage cheese was bland, boring diet food. I don't know if that's still the reputation it has today, but I'd like the record to show that cottage cheese is delicious.

What’s utterly terrific except for one or two things?

A few years ago, I read Jennifer Ouellette's The Calculus Diaries. As a humanities student trying to (belatedly) make peace with STEM, it was right up my alley, and overall I really enjoyed it. Except! In one of the chapters, she repeats the apocryphal story about ancient Rome and post-festivity vomitoriums. Ancient Rome had vomitoriums, but they weren't special rooms for vomiting after a particularly large meal; they were (and are) just exits in large public buildings like stadiums or amphitheaters.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday 5: Bizarro Cliche



The Magic Word is “please,” but what’s the magic gesture?

Well, hm, I think we can just let this one go without comment . . .


“Big D” is Dallas, but where is Big G?

I guess as a Swede, I'm obligated to say Göteberg, but it seems a little odd to hype a city I haven't visited (yet). I'm trying to think of places I've at least visited that begin with G, but I'm coming up blank.

Also, again: "Big D." I'll let this one slide, too . . .


Elvis Presley is the King of Rock and Roll, but who’s the king of your personal music collection?

Here's a question I can answer! I think Ben Folds is probably forever the king of my music library. Even when I don't love every single one of his songs (I like the more pop-oriented ones than the ballad-y or story ones, because I am a basic bitch), the ones I do love are some of my favorites. He's also a whip-smart lyricist, too, which I value in an artist.


The motherland is wherever you consider your family’s origins, but what’s the cousinland?

Any language-adjacent country or one with a similar history. Given the reputation for drinking and recent history of being oppressed by a neighboring island, for example, I think Korea and Ireland could be considered cousinlands.


CBS calls itself the Tiffany Network, but what would you call the Walmart Network?

I realize that calling itself "the Tiffany Network" is supposed to be a comment on their quality, but for me all I think about is Trump's least-favorite child. (Poor Tiffany . . . )

But moving on to the actual question: CNN? It's everywhere, it's open 24 hours, it's got the basics but nothing high-end or specialized.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trek Thursday: Redskirts


Allow me to bring back this intermittent series on the blog to pimp my buddy Dromeda's podcast: Redskirts! In their own words, Redskirts is "a Star Trek podcast by two people who sometimes wear skirts." Right now they're focusing on TOS, my eternal fave of the franchise. It's basically the kind of podcast I'd want to be a guest on (and that was actually what I told Dromeda after she sent me the pilot ep: "When can I come in for a guest episode?"). Maybe if Skype and time zones play nice, that can happen? I have really strong feelings about The Devil in the Dark, y'all.

They're taking the episodes in air date order, so this first episode tackles The Man Trap. But if you want more, their pilot episode tackles . . . the first pilot, The Cage.

If you like it, you can follow their RSS feed and get new episodes as they go up.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Newly Relisted: Gel Electrophoresis Chainmaille Bracelets

Guys, I am so damn proud of these bracelets. I spent years thinking about how to incorporate chainmaille into my work, until I hit upon the idea of gel electrophoresis art. Then, I probably spent another couple of months thinking about how I could pull it off. I finally debuted these puppies during this year's SciArt Tweetstorm, after some valuable input from Peggy over at The Vexed Muddler.

Biology has always been a field that I've had to neglect. The nature of the work is not something easily encapsulated by simple bead-stringing; chainmaille finally allowed me to represent images instead of numbers. I was, and still am, excited about taking my jewelry in this direction.

You can imagine, then, that it's breaking my heart a little that they're not selling, but I have no one but myself to blame for that. I picked the wrong time of year to stop promoting my shop -- the triple whammy of Pi Day, Mother's Day and graduation events within a three-month period means that this is exactly the time of year for nerdy bespoke jewelry to be popular, right? Usually, yes. This year I dropped off the map.

That's a long way to say that these bracelets deserve better than me. More promotion, a sexed-up photograph, some clever copy . . . all three? But there's only so many balls a person can juggle.

Biology science sciart gel electrophoresis art bracelet chainmalle jewelry
1kb Step Ladder Gel Electrophoresis Bracelet by Kokoba Jewelry

I love bead-stringing, and I always will, because I am a sucker for pretty rocks. But there is a Zen-like simplicity in chainmaille. No knots, no crimps, no string or wire: just you, two pliers, and a bunch of jump rings. It's a lot easier to pick up and put down, which is something I need at this point in my life.

Biology science sciart gel electrophoresis art bracelet chainmalle jewelry

Right now I only have these two colors (black and a silvery champagne). Once I recover from the hit that is tax season in two different countries, I'm going to put in an order for more. I have visions of rainbow pride versions of these, for the LGBTQ+ scientists and allies in the field, but that might have to remain a pipe dream for the time being. I don't think I could get more than a couple out in time for actual Pride this year.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday 5: Ssssssssh!

What’s something sneaky you’ve recently done?

I'm not really good at being sneaky. It's hard to answer this one!


Who or what do you feel the need to tiptoe around?

Facebook and politics has become an interesting place since the election. And by "interesting place," I mean, "barren wasteland bereft of hope or goodwill."


What’s the dirty secret about the field in which you work?

Your own spit is, like, a really useful fluid in metal working.



For example: you could use actual lubricant (or maybe water? my memory's rusty, pun totally intended) on your hand saw, pictured above. Or you could just lick your finger and run it along the flat, non-serrated edge of the sawblade.


What was the subject of your last whispered conversation?

If we want to call the noise police (like, fake cops) or rental company about our neighbor's loud music. The situation resolved itself when the neighbor turned down the music like half an hour later.


What’s recently snuck up on you?

It's tax season, y'all! In two countries!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Newly Relisted: Avogadro Necklace

Hey kids, how you doing? I dropped off the face of the Earth for a while. Good thing I have my Etsy listings set up to automatically relist things as they expire! I'm working on some more chainmaille pieces but it's going to be some time before I put them up in the shop. Here's some chemistry #sciart jewelry to whet your appetite until then!

Avogadro chemistry science nerd sciart jewelry
Avogadro in faux pearls and green marbled acrylic by Kokoba
These are glass faux pearls I received from a friend a while ago, when she was cleaning out her jewelry box. I gratefully accepted the free goodies and turned out quite a few pieces with them. This necklace is just of maybe 4 or 5 from that same batch.

Avogadro chemistry science nerd sciart jewelry

I prefer gemstones (or even glass) to this kind of lightweight plastic material, but it does have its place and advantage. 

I'm also thinking about what kind of jewelry I want to tackle next. Well, I guess I'm always thinking about that! What techniques I want to try, what fields within science I want to tackle. I'm staring down a prototype for a full adder circuit I haven't shared yet here (because I want to lengthen it a little). Maybe that should be my next step. I love rocks and gems and beads, but there is something about chainmaille that is really fascinating me at the moment.

Still, though, beading is my first and deepest love, so I'm sure I'll be stringing again before long!