Friday, November 21, 2014

Well This Sucks.

While doing the grocery shopping at my nearest Sainsbury's earlier, I was browsing the soups when StereoNinja took me romantically by the arm and led me over to the produce. When I asked what he was doing he said "Getting you away from the spider." I turned around and there was a massive spider on the floor right where I had been standing: he'd been coming right for me.

So anyway, now I can never go shopping in that Sainsbury's ever again.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stay At Home Mehs

I've been home for the entire day and holy mouse balls I miss my job. Basil, my beautiful MINI Cooper, is not feeling very well in second and third gear and is essentially undrivable at speeds less than 40 mph which makes it a no-go for driving to work at rush hour. The garage can't look at it until Monday and trying to rent an automatic transmission car here is like trying to buy a winter coat in Bermuda - nearly impossible to find and prohibitively expensive when you do. I did finally get my hands on one for tomorrow that will not cost me more money than I would earn over the time I'll have it, but that was not at all helpful to me as far as getting to work today. I don't even know how I did this for months. I mean, sure, I had school work to do and everything (not to mention a car so I could actually leave the island if I wanted to) but Jesus Ka-rihst is it boring to be in your house alone all day long with nothing going on except folding laundry and internet research on visas. The most exciting thing of the day was watching my neighbor power wash the walkway around the marina (this seemed to me the most exciting thing in everyone's day here on Rich-old-people-with-nothing-to-do Island: two other neighbors came over to his place to watch him. Seriously.) I can't wait to go back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nerdgasm

Guess where I was tonight! Actually, no, you'll never guess. I went to see Simon Singh, skeptic extraordinaire and author of many excellent books giving a talk about his latest book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, which is about all of the advanced math(s) hidden in Simpsons episodes due to the fact that their writing team is made out of former mathematicians and computer scientists. AND THEN GUESS WHAT HAPPENED. HE SIGNED MY BOOK. I had to send StereoNinja up to get it signed because I was fangirling out, and spent the entire Q&A session grinning like an idiot, running my hands over it, and whispering to StereoNinja "Oh my god he touched it" like a fucking lunatic. Anyway, check it out if you like math(s) and comedy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Does This Sound Look Like?

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I have synesthesia. Specifically, in some sounds I can hear shapes and/or light forms, and I also have a spacial sequence form of synesthesia in which I have always experienced months and dates as being fixed points in space. I know right, what the hell am I talking about?

For most of my life, I didn't know this wasn't how everyone experiences the world. Then one day I made on offhand comment when I was watching a baseball game with my family that Tony Gwynn "has the roundest voice I have ever heard" (BECAUSE HE DOES) and a room full of people turned around and looked at me as if I had spontaneously sprouted a second head and said head was that of a giraffe. Of course, I now know that I have an amazing superpower as well as an explanation for my eerily good recall of dates. However, my ability to explain what it's like is basically limited to reciting my theory that the reason people use drugs like acid is so they can feel the same way I feel all of the time. It's not explainable. I don't see the space calendar, I don't see any shapes floating around when Tony Gwynn starts talking, it just is fixed in space, it is round. See, totally clear now isn't it?

Anyway the whole point of telling you this is that this video is amazing, and the sand thing provides a better example of what I'm talking about than my shitty explanations could ever approach and that's not even the best part of the video. The water, you guys. The water and the coil. Dude.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Out Of Office Message

I'm on my way to Brighton today for the first Brighton Burlesque festival. In my absence, please enjoy this clip of Bendy Dick Cumberbatch doing impressions of other Hollywood actors in this interview for his movie The Imitation Game, which I will be reviewing when I get back from my trip.



Friday, November 14, 2014

So Close Yet So Far

Good news, you guys! My dissertation has been marked. Bad news: No one can tell me what my mark is. The professors at my university are participating in a marking boycott. They were actually marked before the boycott began but not finalized by the committee, which did not meet when they were supposed to because, again, marking boycott. When someone in my class asked if we could at least have a look at the preliminary marks, we were told that because dissertations are classed as exams he couldn't tell us.

It's not as big of a problem for me because I have never had any intention of doing something with my degree in terms of a career or more advanced study - mostly I was just planning to shout "GENDER STUDIES!" every time I make a horrible misogynist joke and obnoxiously correct people who confuse biology with gender. But a number of my classmates were meant to go on and study more things, and a lack of any grades to show the coordinators of the programs they want to study means they can't get accepted to said programs. It's a real pickle.

Anycrap, I'm still waiting to find out whether I can write on an academic level or if years of blogging have lead to my being unable to write a coherent sentence without swearing or sarcasm in it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

SPACE, YOU GUYS.

Maybe you've realized this from my science fiction fanaticism, or possibly because I took my burlesque name from one of the moons of Saturn, but in case you don't know this, I have a MASSIVE space obsession. Like, huge. I habitually watch anything on the television that has to do with space, despite the fact that I complain every time because the shows are aimed at people with far less space knowledge than I have and are therefore usually boring for me. One time I talked StereoNinja into taking an online course with me about Astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life through the University of Edinburgh. And I have made him very aware, in numerous discussions, that if given the opportunity to go to Mars or any other space mission in which I knew ahead of time I was never coming back the Earth, I would not hesitate*.

Yesterday, we landed a probe on a comet.

I couldn't concentrate yesterday. I had been hanging on every GO/NOGO checkpoint starting the night before, and was running the live feed from ESA mission control in the background on my machine all day. I spent the day updating my coworkers on every progress report whether they gave a shit or not. I gave real thought to what I would say when we had confirmation that the lander had touched down. In the end, I didn't say anything, because when the control room erupted in cheers I was too choked up to speak. Someone figured it out by reading my screen over my shoulder. "They landed it?" he asked me, and all I could do was weakly nod my head and they he asked me "Wait, are you crying?" and I said "SHUT UP I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING." I can't believe this was just one news item of many yesterday. I'm not sure if people even realize this, but this mission is the biggest thing to happen in space exploration since we put PEOPLE ON THE MOON, and is arguably far more important: comets are the leading theory about how we got water on the Earth in the first place, meaning that without them, there wouldn't have been anyone TO land on the moon.

Today, there seems to be a lot of complaining in the news about the mission. It didn't go precisely perfectly. The lander bounced, twice, because its screws and harpoons failed to deploy and the cold gas thruster that was meant to push it against the surface wasn't responding to commands. They're not entirely sure where exactly it is, since one of those bounces went up about a kilometer in the air and was off the ground for two hours and they're not sure where exactly it ended up, but it seems to be on the edge of a canyon or maybe not entirely upright, and it's settled in a place that doesn't get much sunlight, so the batteries may not be able to recharge. So everything didn't work out exactly as they'd hoped, and the media appears to be questioning the overall success of the mission. I think they are missing the point entirely:

WE FLEW A SPACECRAFT TO A COMET THAT TOOK 10 YEARS TO GET THERE AND THEN LANDED SOMETHING ON IT AND THE THING IS WORKING.

Space exploration doesn't always go as planned because studying space from actual space is hard. Two tragedies a week ago with a resupply and a test flight should be enough of a reminder of this, and if it's not, let's not forget that we blew up two space shuttles, killed some Apollo astronauts in a fire, and, obviously, Apollo 13. Space is hard. But we did it: Philae is on the comet, sending data and photos and doing science, and if it runs out of batteries on Sunday as is currently expected, so what? We already know more than we ever have before. The only appropriate reaction to be have having right now is sheer and total AMAZEMENT - with our brilliant scientific minds and our incredible universe.






*Yes, I know there is a planned no-return Mars mission in the works, but there are some serious issues with those plans that need to be worked out and I don't think they're going to even come close to making their target date.