Soooo this Science Communication Program is epic! I have so much homework already and I’ve only had one day of classes so far. In addition to classes, I am working two days a week at a local newspaper where I get to learn how to report news! Plus, they let me play with their fancy cameras and lenses! I photographed the announcement of Adele Fresé as the new police chief of Salinas and the Salinas High School Homecoming parade.
If you’re wondering how it is to go from working in a lab to working in a newsroom, I’d say that it’s definitely different though I’m finding some similarities as well. Obviously there are fewer pipettes and microscopes but there are other tools of the trade: big fancy cameras, reporter’s notebooks, and digital recorders. Plus there are people! I get to talk to people! Overall, the general feel is the same. I am fairly independent: when I get to work, I make myself a to do list for the day but instead of writing down experiments, I am creating a list of stories! More soon!
Anyway, this weekend was the International Airshow in Salinas and my job at the paper meant that Cobalt and I got media passes to attend the show! I surfaced from my giant pile of homework for a few hours so we could go see planes, monster trucks, and skydivers! I’m sad we didn’t get to stay longer but alas, homework calls. I’ll leave you with some pictures before I dive back in! :)
How was your weekend?! In other news, I am exhausted. I have never had to commute to work or school before. It’s different; there is a lot of driving. How long is your commute?
Hello everyone! How were your weekends?! I hope they were good. We are on spring break so Cobalt and I headed up to Steamboat Springs to hang out with our friends L and B and their kiddos. We had tons of fun eating, playing pool, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, game-playing, hot springs-ing, etc! It was so awesome to get away from Boulder and relax a little in great company. Plus I think I am finally succeeding in teaching myself how to snowboard!
One night, B set up his telescope so that we could see Jupiter up close and personal. I have only seen Jupiter from earth without the aid of a telescope or in books that show it waaaaaaay up close with its huge spot that can fit 3 (!!!) earths in it. That night, I got to see a middle version – Jupiter with two rings around it! So cool. I tried to take some pictures with my cell phone camera but it was hard to point the tiny phone camera into the eyepiece of the telescope. I ran upstairs to grab my big DSLR so I could try that instead. It still turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Jupiter was moving around in the sky so B had to readjust the telescope frequently and I had to hover with my camera around the vicinity of the eyepiece to try to catch Jupiter in the eyepiece of my camera! Plus, autofocus was not working (it has a hard time in the dark) so I had to hover around the eyepiece while constantly fiddling with the focus to try to bring Jupiter’s cute little rings slightly more into focus. Whew… 50 pictures later, I think this picture (which is actually one of the first ones I took) takes the cake! Introducing my new friend: JUPITER!!
After B and I had so much fun trying to get cool pictures of Jupiter, he decided to set up the telescope to look at the moon. It was REALLY bright and also REALLY COOL. I was completely floored by how much detail we could see! Again, I am used to looking at the moon without the aid of a telescope or seeing pictures of moon craters in a book. I couldn’t believe that all the rocks and crags that I was looking at through the telescope belonged to the same moon that I usually see outside my house! Photographing the moon through the telescope eyepiece had its own interesting set of challenges. First of all, it was much brighter than Jupiter so I could mess with some of my camera settings to decrease the chance that I would make the moon blurry by all my hovering around. I learned that I could change some camera settings but not others (e.g. the f stop, or how much light you let into the camera, had to stay the same). Second of all, the moon is BIG and my camera was limited to how much it could see through the eyepiece of the telescope. It was really hard to get the entire moon into frame with the lens I had chosen to use (a 50 mm prime lens). That was kind of okay with me though because I really liked focusing on various parts of the moon and didn’t really feel the need to have ALL MOON in my pictures. Finally, the focusing – still hard. Even with a bright moon, I was still messing with my focus to try to get the moon details as sharp as possible while hovering around the telescope eyepiece. None the less, I really like a lot of my pictures, including these awesome ones:
Another fun thing – we also looked at sunspots during the day (obviously not through the eyepiece). B held a piece of paper up by the eyepiece so that the BRIGHT light from the sun was projected onto it. There we could see tiny little sunspots hanging out with the sun. Before I got a chance to look, apparently a plane flew in front of the sun and Cobalt and B saw a tiny plane projected onto the sun on the paper. Jealous…
Anyway, that’s all for now too. Do you get a spring break? Are you doing anything fun? It seems that the most popular options for spring break are: a) go to the beach, b) go to the mountains, or c) staycation/sleep. What did you choose? Back to work for me today – technically postdocs don’t get spring breaks. :(
PS – If you remember me talking about the moon in my Top Books of 2015 post, yes I am still unhealthily obsessed with the moon (you try reading a book in which the moon blows up without warning and then having a normal relationship with the moon after that…).
Hellooooo everyone! Today we are going to postpone this week’s science post because I was too busy to finish writing one Cobalt and I made dumplings for the year of the Monkey and I want to talk about those instead. Also apparently this is my 400th post so in celebration let’s talk about food!
I think one of the best ways to make new friends is to share a tasty meal together and talk about traditions. When Cobalt and I were in Germany last year, we met a girl who had participated in this crazy dinner activity where she and a few other random people that she didn’t know had to make dinner together. She said some people there only spoke German or English, but that was okay because most Germans know some English so they could still communicate pretty well. Then there was someone who didn’t speak English or German! Extra challenge! How are you supposed to communicate about recipes?! I guess it all worked out because their dinner sounded fantastic.
Anyway, weird-slightly-not-related anecdote aside, the point is that I like learning how to make new foods from different cultures. A few years ago, my friend T taught Cobalt and me how to make dumplings for the Chinese New Year. It was super fun and really tasty so we did it again the next year. This year T and her husband are in China with her family for Chinese New Year so Cobalt and I had to make our own dumplings.
It was pretty fun. We googled a bunch of recipes and sort of cobbled together our own version of the filling: including ground turkey, shrimp, and bok choy! Looking back on my dumping pictures from previous years I am thinking of other tasty things we could have added to the filling but I guess that means we will have to make them again soon! Anyway, during the folding of all the dumplings, I got inspired to take some artsy hand model pics so now you can see them! This part was made especially tricky because Tarantula was very interested in this meaty doughy stuff on the table and kept looking like she was going to try to get up there (humannnnnnssss I want that in my belleh!!!)!
Once all the dumplings were folded, we tried steaming them instead of boiling them as we had done in the past. They turned out great! Then it was time to eat them…….
Now it’s your turn: Were you born in the year of the Monkey? What did you do last weekend? What’re you up to this weekend? Last weekend, Cobalt took me to see My Neighbor Totoro, which is my favorite movie evarrrrr, in the theater. It was amazing to see everything so big and I enjoyed having a closer look at all the beautiful backgrounds, which look like watercolor. I am so excited about this weekend because Cobalt and I are going to hang out with one of my blog friends! We finally get to meet in person! Excitement….
Stay tuned for that science post, y’all. It’s still on its way. :D
Hi all, sorry for the short post today but I have been super stressed out working on essays and job applications (plus working in the lab). It’s been a bit crazy here. I’m still going to try to write a sweet science post for y’all next week though so stay tuned!
Today’s picture: moon fingers! So I am still obsessed with the moon after reading Seveneves last year. On Sunday night I was writing at my desk when I looked up and noticed the moon out my window. It looked particularly awesome hiding behind the branches of the tree by my house and I wanted to capture it. I know that the moon is a bit overexposed in this picture but 1) it was hidden in fog anyway so focusing on it wouldn’t be very exciting and 2) I like the bright backdrop it provides for the tree branches. Creeeeeeepyyyyy.
How are you guys? Anyone reading from the east coast? What did you think of the most recent storm? It was 56 degrees here in Boulder on Saturday but it snowed a tiny bit today. Boulder weather is weird… :-/
This past Christmas eve, Cobalt, our nephew C, and I were inspired to go outside and take pictures of the moon. I am not really sure why we thought it was a good idea considering it was COLD and windy outside but we were determined! C borrowed his mom’s camera and I grabbed mine and we set up our cameras in the freezing cold on the front porch. After playing around with camera settings and trying to photograph the moon from many angles, C went to take cool pictures in the street using the light from nearby street lights and I decided to play a little with night time photography. For those of you who’ve read my blog for a while, you probably remember seeing some pictures with ghost Cobalt or double Potassium and Cobalt ghosts. Fun times! For this one, I wanted Cobalt standing in front of an empty swing with his arm around a ghost. So we planned the picture where Cobalt was standing there throughout the exposure and then I would run into frame and then out again to give me some of that “ghosty see through look.” It turned out to be more challenging than I originally thought because the snow in front of Cobalt was sooooo bright that it overpowered my slight existence in that area. Cobalt suggested that we both start out in the picture and then I leave and then stop the exposure super fast after running away so that the snow wouldn’t have time to overexpose me too much. We ended up getting C to control the camera for all this maneuvering and I think it turned out pretty neat.
Sometimes this picture makes me sad because it makes me think about when I am super anxious or stressed out about something and I am totally in my head, then that is kind of all I really am – just a shell of Potassium. I feel like this is sort of a self portrait of me right now while I am freaking out and trying to figure out the next step in my career. The problem is that it’s hard to live life and spend time with the ones you love when you’re stuck in your head. So this post is also a reminder to me to get out of my head and see what’s already happening around me! I hope you’ll join me in non-shell land.
PS – More science posts still to come! In February! Now…. tell me about your three day weekends! Anyone do anything cool? Cobalt and I started working on a comic strip/book/issue!
So as some of you may know, I am a member of GoodReads, which is a website that allows you to review books that you’ve read or see reviews of books that you might be interested in reading. COOL! Anyway, every year, GoodReads allows you to make a reading challenge for that year, where you propose to read x number of books. I used to up my challenges every year by 10 but that started getting ridiculous because I generally go through at least one month where I don’t feel like reading and any challenge greater than 52 requires you to be reading (on average) at least a book a week! So anyway, I’ve been chillin’ at trying to read at least 50 books per year for the past few years. This year, a surprising number of them happened to be published in 2015 so I thought I would write a post about my favorites! Note: these reviews are similar to my reviews on GoodReads so if you follow me on GoodReads, don’t be surprised.
This list is not going to be into any apparent order and because it’s my list, I get to make up the categories. Yay!
SciFi/Epic Book – Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
The first line of this book is “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” I think that is description enough. But if you really need more here it is – the first 2/3 of this book is about the immediate struggle to save humanity after the moon blows up (without warning) and the earth is deemed doomed. The last 1/3 of the book is 5000 years later when the human race returns to earth.
This book is really long but really good. I was totally absorbed in the first 2/3 of the book. I loved most of the characters (so many smart and awesome women!) and was really captivated by the struggle to save the human race under ridiculous circumstances (i.e. how do we survive in space?). I felt that Stephenson accurately captured the craziness of humans and the lengths we would go to survive. Also he very nicely summed up how helpful/hurtful social media and the internet can be. Plus now I understand so much more about orbits and other space things.
The last 1/3 of the book took some warming up for me. I almost wish it was a separate book but that wouldn’t have been true to Stephenson’s style. The first hundred or so pages of this section moved really slow as I, completely whiplashed from jumping 5000 years in the future, tried to get caught up with all the newness of this universe all while following an incredibly slow plot (the new main character does one thing, 10 pages of backstory, etc). I realize that it was kind of necessary to do that if he wanted to keep the book with both parts but I realllllllly missed my old main characters. Once I got caught up though, this last section got much more interesting and I was really sad when it ended. I want to see more from this universe!
One warning – if you have never read a Neal Stephenson book before, you should know that Neal Stephenson likes technical details. So there are a lot of pages describing how everything works. Sometimes I find it interesting and sometimes I want Neal to get back to the story. For the record, the descriptions seem to only exist to add to your experience in the world; you can easily skim them and not miss out on much plot.
One more thing – this book made me really notice the moon, especially because whenever I was reading the book, I was surprised to see the moon in the sky, since, at least in the book, there was no more moon. So I took a lot of moon pictures this year and I thought I would share some of them with you.
Young Adult book – I Crawl Through it by A.S. King
This book didn’t seem to make waves through the young adult community (judging by its absence as a GoodReads Choice Awards nominee) but I thought it was phenomenal. Also, it seems to be one of those books that grabs hold of you and never lets go – I still am thinking about it to this day. Anyway, this book is weird. I am going to warn you about that right now – it’s incredibly surreal and disconnected from reality. And yet at the same time, it’s very real.
In this book, we follow four teenagers through a few weeks of their high school careers. There are regular bomb threats and a lot of tests. Overall, I thought it was an excellent portrayal of smart teenagers and what our current educational system is doing to them. Being disconnected from reality really made all the thoughts and feelings the characters have so much more real – sometimes overwhelmingly so.
This book broke my heart in the same way that all the violence at various schools this year (and previous years) breaks my heart. I also really appreciate the discussion of how schools are ruining creativity in our kids and I applaud A.S. King for finding a way to stand up and say something about it.
American memoir – Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book is a letter to Coates’ son about what it’s like growing up black in America. As I am an African American woman who grew up here in the US, I was interested in what he had to say about our potentially “shared” experience.
This book made me feel both heartbroken and relieved sort of for the same reason- that what I feel is a real and common. It is interesting to be younger than Ta-Nehisi and older than his son because I have my own social/political events that affected me in the same way that the deaths of Prince Jones and Michael Brown affected Ta-Nehisi and his son, respectively. Reading this book helped solidify my current thoughts about how I live my life too, which is neat but also still super heartbreaking…
This book is written in a way that will make many people uncomfortable or even angry but that doesn’t mean that what is said in here is not also true or at least worth pondering. Toni Morrison is right. This book is required reading. Please go and read it (and then tell me what you think)!
Foreign memoir – The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee
This is a powerful look at what it is like to grow up in North Korea and then lose your identity several times in order to be free. I found this book both eye-opening about a world I know nothing about and also interesting in that it really makes you ponder the concept of being ‘spoiled.’ Now I really want to help out! Warning – I read most of this book all in one sitting so be careful – it sucks you in!
Humor – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
This is an amazing book about depression (yeah you read that right – I put it under the humor section). Jenny Lawson does a great job being brutally honest about what it’s like to live with depression and anxiety disorders while also being hilarious. They might not seem like they would go well together but I assure you, this book is incredible. If you have ever suffered from depression and/or anxiety OR if you know someone who has, please pick up this book and read it. You will not be disappointed.
Serious Comic – Bitch Planet Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine DeLandro, Taki Soma, and Robert Wilson
Bitch Planet is about a society where women must conform to societal norms (i.e. whatever men want). If not, they are labeled “non-compliant” and shipped off to Bitch Planet. This is an amazingly smart comic with a unique perspective on modern feminism. If you consider yourself a feminist, read this. If you don’t, too bad- you still have to read this. It’s totally necessary for everyone. I can’t wait for more issues!
Fun note about being non-compliant: The women who are sent to Bitch Planet have NC (for non-compliant) tattooed onto them. This has inspired many “non-compliant” fans of the comic to also get NC tattooed on them! I think that’s really neat! I don’t have any tattoos so I had to get NC nail wraps so I could add my name to the list of non-compliant individuals out there (see below).
PS – The individual issues of this comic are really neat because each issue contains a feminist essay at the end. The essays didn’t end up in the trade paperback so it’s worth trying to get a hold of the issues (or finding the essays).
Fun Comic – Lumberjanes Volumes 1 and 2 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, and Maarta Laiho
This story is about 5 girls who attend “Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for Hardcore Lady-types” and have all sorts of adventures. It’s really fun, has great art, and how can you not like a book where someone shouts “Holy bell hooks!”?! Also if you were ever in Girl Scouts, this book is for you (though I think being a Lumberjane would have been waaaaaaay cooler than being a Girl Scout).
PS – My friend T did a really good job getting me obsessed with comic books this year so this category was really hard to do because I read some really fantastic ones. So here are some more great options:
If you like going on supernatural adventures with some really cool girls, you should read Rat Queens
If you like epic sci-fi stories with amazing art, you should read Saga
If you like awesome women superheroes, you should read Miss Marvel and Squirrel Girl
If you like really pretty art and creepy western-ish stories, you should read Pretty Deadly
Cobalt’s top choice – The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
He didn’t read a lot from 2015 this year (too busy reading for classes!), so he’s gonna go with this one. The novel is a great satire of young adult books for people who notice too many similarities in that market. Definitely worth your time.
I am super happy Cobalt picked this book because Patrick Ness is one of my favorite young adult authors!
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. What did you read this year? Did you read any of these books? Did you love them or hate them? Tell me everything! Also have a Happy New Year!!! Any traditions?! Any New Years resolutions? I am struggling with mine because I want to use the same one I used this year but I think that might be cheating…
Hellooooo world! It’s been forever since I posted. But what a good time to start posting again when I have Esther’s and Felix’s engagement pictures to show you! We had an eventful February weatherwise – it was the warmest February on record and also the snowiest! How does that even happen?! Anyway, all that snow made for a beautiful backdrop to take pictures with Esther and Felix! I’ve never had snow around for engagement pictures and it turns out that it’s really fun! We had some snowball fights, Felix stomped out their wedding date into the snow, and they made some snow angels together. It was kind of awesome.
I first met Esther in 2013 when she interviewed to be a postdoc in our lab. We pretty much hit it off right away (especially after experiencing an awkward brunch together on the last day of her interview) so I was really happy when she and Felix decided to move here! Since they’ve been here, we’ve done a lot together – Esther and I did yoga with butterflies; Esther, Felix, Cobalt, and I started a tradition (called “noodles”) of going out to dinner on Friday nights with any lab mates (and their significant others) who are free/hungry; we watched Germany win the World Cup together; etc. We spend so much time with these two that I was really excited when Esther asked me to take their engagement pictures! In October, Esther and Felix are getting married in Germany! I am so excited for you guys and I really hope that Cobalt and I can get over there to be there for the big day! Congratulations again, you guys!
A few weeks ago (before all this crazy rain started), I had the honor of taking engagement pictures for my friends Jennette and Kegan. It was kind of awesome because I’ve gotten to watch their whole relationship from the very beginning. I met Jennette because she did her masters research in my lab and I totally remember the snowshoeing trip where she met Kegan. I also remember meeting Kegan for the very first time when he came to our lab to pick up Jennette for a lunch date. Awwww the memories… and more to come! I am so excited you guys! :) Anyway, we met up at Chautauqua Park for an engagement photo session and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I am normally skeptical of doing fancy pictures at Chautauqua because it is a very popular hiking destination and is often full of people just waiting to get in your super cute portraits. It also has really weird lighting during most parts of the day so you have to plan your photo sessions just right. All that said, however, we had a great time and the photos look amazing. Thanks so much Jennette and Kegan for being good sports while we trekked all over hills and rocks and fields to capture your awesomeness as a couple!
And now a few more of my favorite pictures…
Some things I learned while doing these pictures:
As I previously mentioned, I learned that Chautauqua has a lot of cool places (hidden from the majority of hikers) for neat pictures
Bushes are not my friends. I edited a lot of these pictures with the help of my nephew and he and I ended up getting really frustrated when we would come across a picture with Jennette and Kegan looking adorable and a giant bush blocking one of them… way to go setting up that shot, Potassium. :p
I had a lot of fun with Jennette and Kegan because we’d find a cool place to shoot pictures and then they’d start suggesting poses/ideas/etc that they wanted to try! It challenged me to be more creative and thoughtful with my poses/angles/etc.
Wow… it’s been a while since I’ve written. Life has been a little insane here for me and Cobalt. More about that later maybe but first and foremost, how the heck are you?! Anything exciting going on? If so, please tell me because Cobalt and I could definitely use some cheering up. :)
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of doing engagement pictures with Melanie and Joel! Melanie and I met at our friend’s superbowl party a few years ago and we bonded over being able to make weird noises (haha… seriously…). I am sure L was super happy that she introduced us after that part. Anyway, now Melanie is engaged to Joel and they asked me to do their engagement pictures! This was my first time meeting Joel and I have to say, he is awesome. And he and Melanie and super adorable and perfect together. We had a ton of fun with these pictures and I am very honored that they asked me to take their pictures. I hope they enjoy them (I should be getting them in the mail by the end of the week)!
Some things I learned doing these pictures:
It’s fun! I love getting to know couples and figuring out how to take pictures that show off how awesome, adorable, happy, etc they are.
Taking engagement pictures is inherently a bit of an awkward situation so the faster I can get everyone laughing, the more comfortable we all feel and then the pictures turn out more awesome!
My two lenses are not equal in awesomeness.
I need to take a lot of pictures because sometimes people blink!
What have you guys been up to lately? I took engagement pictures for my friends J and K this weekend so be prepared for more adorableness in the near future! In lab related news, there is a lot to get done if I really want to do graduate within the year so this is going to be an interesting school year…
Hooray! Wedding anniversary pictures finally!* :D So before you scroll down to see the rest, let me tell you a little bit about the party. It started out a little sketch because Cobalt and I were running around like crazy building things from IKEA and we lost track of time. When the first guests arrived, they got to go with Cobalt to the store to get party supplies and snacks while I made sure the house was in order. Then when more people showed up we headed to the park by our house with a bag full of props for the photo shoot! It turned out to be really fun as you can see below (in no apparent order)!
After the photos, we had a BBQ, played Cards Against Humanity, and giggled over all the awkward but hilarious things in that deck. I think it turned out to be a really fun time and thank you to all of you who came out and celebrated with us! We really enjoyed it! Cobalt and I are already coming up with new photoshoot ideas…
What do you think of the photos? Do you have a favorite? Also, what have you guys been up to lately? We’ve been getting a lot of rain (almost a proper monsoon season if you ask me!) lately. What has your weather been like? Are you ready for fall yet? I think that I was so annoyed with all that May and April snow that we got that I am still dreading fall and then the inevitable winter…
In other photo news, I took some engagement pictures for my friends M and J yesterday. Can’t wait to show you my favorites! :D
*Unfortunately my posting schedule is probably going to get a little weird for a while. My committee meeting is coming up soon. For those of you who don’t know, that’s where I meet with 5 faculty members and tell them everything I did this past year and how I plan to graduate in a year or less (freaking outexcited not sure how I feel about any of that). Anyway, I have a lot of work to do to prepare for it. Also Cobalt and I are just plain BUSY right now. Craziness…