Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: Madonna in a Fur Coat

As the paucity of book reviews here would suggest, I've been in a reading slump recently. As an avid reader, I always find it troubling when I go for weeks without finishing a proper novel. Madonna in a Fur Coat was exactly what I needed to break my losing streak.

I'm a member of an informal Internet book club that's going on two years old. It's done a really good job of balancing light fiction, classics, and nonfiction, so I have to say that our two founders (who started the club and who pick most of the books, though with input from everyone else) have excellent taste! Other books I've read (and enjoyed!) for this book club include  The Road to MeccaPassing, and The Price of Salt.

I am a sucker for character-driven stories that feature moody, introspective protagonists. I guess that even as an adult, I'm an angsty teenager at heart. That's not to suggest that there's anything callow or self-indulgent about Madonna in a Furcoat. Even if it leans heavily on romance tropes that might strike some readers as overdone or tedious, what makes Madonna in a Furcoat stand out isn't the love story but the writing and the characters. It would have been a welcome palate cleanser after The French Lieutenant's Woman, a novel with a similar plot but altogether different style and attitude towards its characters, particularly its love interest. I'll leave off with a favorite quote:
Just as warm sunlight can, by passing through a lens, turn to fire, so too can love. It's wrong to see it as something that swoops in from the outside. It's because it arises from the feelings we carry inside us that it strikes with such violence, at the moment we least expect.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Newly Relisted: Peridot Bloodstone Rhodonite and Shell Root 2 Necklace

This is another Kokoba beta release, so to speak. It's not among some of the very first sciart jewelry I ever made, but it's still been sitting in storage for a while—probably six or seven years, I'd say.

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift
Root 2 necklace featuring peridot, rhodonite, bloodstone, and seashells by Kokoba

Pi is usually the darling of the "math-for-the-masses" world, and it's easy to see why. It has a cool and instantly recognizable Greek letter for a symbol; it's a concept you touch on relatively early in your math career (at least in the US, I was in 6th grade when we learned about pi); you can make puns about pies and pirates.

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift

Somewhere in my calculus notes there's a doodle of a pi symbol with a tail, some paws, and a rat face in pirate costume and the caption "pi-rat." It's probably been lost to time (and by "lost to time," I mean "thrown out with the rest of my calculus notes"). I don't think anyone was celebrating Root 2 Day on January 4, 2014 (or on April 1 2014, if you're in Europe). But pi gets a day every year!

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift

So this is my tribute to poor, neglected root 2. I admit, I've played some part in neglecting it. Did you know, for example, that root 2 is the first number proven to be irrational? The Ancient Greeks actually cooked up an elegant proof on the topic

There's a lot going on in this necklace: there's chips, there's cubes, there's regular round beads, and there's shells. But it still feels fairly balanced, rather than haphazard or chaotic.

If you want to show some love for an overlooked irrational, this root 2 necklace is available in my Etsy shop. I'm thinking I should sit down and whip up some more root 2 bling. Just for variety's sake.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday 5: Straight No Chaser


What keeps you on the straight and narrow?

I use Habitica (formerly HabitRPG) to keep track of my to-do list and to make sure that I stay on task and finish the things I need to do.

Who in your life is a real straight shooter?

Noah (another friend I'll be visiting en route to the wedding this August) is probably the most forthright friend I have. Exhibit A: After a 24-hour bus journey across three states to see him for the first time in over a year, his first words to me were: "Whoa, you need a shower."

Teacher Dad could probably also take this prize.

How straight are your teeth and hair?

My teeth are pretty well aligned. My hair is naturally a touch wavy, which can make having bangs/fringe a little tricky. If you dry them the wrong way, the end result can be a very goofy look.

What’s a good song with the word straight in its lyrics or title?

The only ones in my library with "striaght' in the title are "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "Straight Outta Compten," which I guess speaks to the broad range of my musical tastes?

If we include lyrics, then "An Englishman in New York," "School of Rock," and no doubt loads of others I can't remember right now.

What’s something that needs straightening?

My apartment. :(

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What I'm Reading: ArmchairBEA, Day 1: Introductions

ArmchairBEA graphic courtesy and Boquilla's Window

ArmchairBEA is the Internet/social media version of BEA: Book Expo America. BEA is a chance for readers, authors, and publishers to mingle and share their love of the written word.

I missed ArmchairBEA this year, which is a shame because it's my favorite way to hear about new books and to find new book bloggers and BookTubers. So I'm going to hop on board the hype train after it's already left the station (can you even do that? idgaf) and throw my hat in the ring.

The first prompt is, as usual, a simple introduction prompt. In case you wanted to know more than what's on my About Me page!

I am . . .

Most basically, I'm an American expat in Stockholm who makes STEM-inspired jewelry when she isn't reading or working.

Currently . . .

I have such a backlog of new jewelry to photograph and list on Etsy. I wish the productivity fairy would pay me a visit. :(

I love . . .

I love being creative, which sounds like such a banal, dating profile thing to say, but there you have it. I love to sit down and make something new, especially if it involves blending disparate media or ideas. I love it so much that I actually put off doing it as much as possible to prioritize other things that I feel like I "should" be doing. =/

My favorite . . .

My favorite thing right now is candles. I decided that if I was stuck with having to be an adult, then I was at least going to give myself the permission to indulge in my favorite childhood and teenage things that I either wasn't allowed to do or never got to do enough. Chief among them are candles and incense, but since JV is sensitive to smells, that rules out incense (and stinky candles). Candles it is!

My least favorite . . .

I still hate bureaucracy.

My current read . . .

Oh, so many! I have two that I'm reading for group obligations:  Madonna in a Fur Coat for my Internet book club and The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide for my in-person critique group. I've also borrowed The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage from a critique group friend, a book that is relevant to my ongoing writing project and my jewelry! Finally, my Swedish book of the moment is Karin Boye's Kris.

My summer plans . . .

I'll be traveling to the US in August for a wedding.

My buddy . . .

My buddy Aaron is the one getting married! Here we are in Beijing during Lunar New Year 2010:

Myself (center left) and Aaron (center right) partying it up in Beijing.
There's actually a great story behind that random party shot. Aaron is conversant, if not fluent, in (Mandarin) Chinese, and when I touched down in Beijing on the evening before Lunar New Year, he put that Chinese to good use finding us a place to eat. All of the restaurants anywhere near our hostel had been closed all day, or closed early. When we got here, they initially turned us away, too, but he finally switched to Chinese and explained that it was my first night in Beijing, and that I had just flown in from Seoul without any dinner and there was nowhere else to eat. Even the convenience stores were closed! Either his Chinese, my sad story, or both convinced them to let us in, and we shared a huge company meal, complete with alcohol and dancing.

And now he's getting married!

My blog/channel/social media . . .

I'm on Twitter (@kokoba42) and Facebook (KokobaJewelry). I theoretically have Pinterest but the spammier it got to use, the less I wanted to use or post there. And I would rather eat rusty nails than start a video channel.

The best . . .

The best part of this trip will definitely be seeing so many of my friends in the US who can't take the time (or spend the money) to come see me in Stockholm.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Newly Listed: Rhodonite and Mookaite Speed of Light Bracelet

And the fourth Adventure Zone bracelet is now up! Again, this bracelet features the speed of light (in meters per second).

Rhodonite mookaite speed of light science physics sciart jewelry
Rhodonite and Mookaite Speed of Light Bracelet by Kokoba

This time it's "spelled" out in pink rhodonite chips, with round mookaite beads acting as spacers in between digits.

Rhodonite mookaite speed of light science physics sciart jewelry

Rhodonite and mookaite are both stones I've had in my supplies for a long time, almost since I started making jewelry, but I think this is the first time I've combined them.

Rhodonite mookaite speed of light science physics sciart jewelry

I'm pleasantly surprised at how this combination turned out. I don't know why I didn't think mix these stones before, but I'll be sure to revisit it in the future.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday 5: MVP

What’s the most important single ingredient in trail mix?

Here's my typical trail mix:

Image of M&Ms from Anitapepper on

What’s the most important single topping in a taco?

Shredded cheese!

What’s the coolest instrument in an orchestra?

I'm going to go with the harp. A deep and abiding love for The Marx Brothers, and Harpo in particular, has left me enamored with this particular instrument.

What’s your favorite animal at the zoo?

I love giraffes and how cute-awkward they are.

I also love okapis, which aren't quite so common in zoos, but I'm going to count them anyway because they're relatives of the giraffe and they also have a tough time, so they can use some extra love. (Donate to the Okapi Conservation Project if you feel like helping them out!)

Which are the best pieces in a sampler box of chocolates?

The ones that don't mix unholy abominations into chocolate, like nuts or peanut butter. Anything else is great, but nuts? Peanut butter? Why would you do that to perfectly good chocolate? Why??

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What I Watched: Wonder Woman

I never got around to binge-reading all things Wonder Woman like I set out to do I don't know how long ago. First I was lazy, and then I had a sinking feeling in my gut when I realized Zack Snyder was set to write the script, and then when willow-y and superlatively gorgeous Gal Gadot was cast. Wonder Woman does not need or deserve the Suckerpunch treatment.

(Me: Ugh, can you imagine if Zack Snyder had directed Wonder Woman?
JV: "Suckerpunch 2: The Wonder Years.")

I was ready to be disappointed, so I didn't invest any of my time going full-on fan mode. I mean, I still want to get my hands on the New 52 run of Wonder Woman because I hear it's really good, but that's a "whenever" sort of goal. Still, June 2 rolled around and I hadn't seen a movie in theaters since the Ghostbusters reboot, so why not?

But script doctors had happened and the good sis Patty Jenkins stepped in and all was right and good with the world.

I am not really interested in superhero ensemble movies, so I'm not going to be seeing the Justice League movie anytime soon; Wonder Woman's brief appearance in Batman v Superman was not enough to get me to watch at all, let alone in theaters. And when (and it's almost definitely a "when," not "if," at this point) Wonder Woman 2 happens, if it's an excuse for a Justice League movie I probably won't see it either. But in this one glorious moment, Wonder Woman gets her own damn movie and it's great, and Gal Gadot was great. I might have cried a whole bunch of times for assorted reasons. I might go see it again.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Newly Listed: Pink Quartz Speed of Light Bracelet

The third entry in my podcast bracelet series!

Rhodonite pink quartz STEM physics sciart science jewelry
Pink Quartz and Rhodonite Speed of Light Bracelet by Kokoba
These are some more chips reclaimed pieces from Kokoba alpha releases: rhodonite, rose quartz, and cherry quartz.

Rhodonite pink quartz STEM physics sciart science jewelry

I love the blend of pinks in this one. It's like a little bit of strawberry and cream to wear on your wrist!

Rhodonite pink quartz STEM physics sciart science jewelry

The chips spell out the digits of the speed of light (in meters per second). The round rhodonite beads are the spacers between each digit. Most of the ones I made during the podcast binge-crafting session ended up featuring the speed of light. I tend to default to pi, so I have to consciously try to branch out into other fields/numbers.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday 5: Malfunction Junction

When have you had a wardrobe malfunction?

I lost a skirt to a motorbike gear while I was in Indonesia. Nothing too mortifying, but we needed to stop and get a new one for me. Going to Indonesia with a regular peasant skirt from the US and leaving with a batik print one from Indonesia isn't a bad deal, though!


...and after.

When did you last have a problem with your alarm clock?

Yesterday, actually! Either I slept through it, or the alarm doesn't automatically override the headphones if they're plugged in. It's set for 7:30 and I didn't wake up until almost 10.

What was your most recent computer problem, and what was the fix?

Well, one of the hinges on my laptop is breaking, which seems to be a common denominator in a lot of HP laptops. I'm not sure what the fix is, since at this point it's no longer under warranty and I can't really afford the time it would take to send it off for repairs.

As for software, once in a while I need to restart Word or OpenOffice because they slow down, but that's about it.

What’s something about cars you know specifically because you had to have one repaired?

Nothing, really.

Have you had any brain malfunctions this week?

For once in my life, no! I was pretty on the ball.