April 26, 2013
Spring Cleaning and the Process of Creation
I'm getting rid of old papers. I have a scanner coming tomorrow, but I went ahead and brought a box in today so I could start organizing, and I realized there's a lot of stuff in that box that I can just throw out. No scanning needed. It's exactly the box I had in mind when I thought about getting a scanner and getting rid of boxes of heavy papers in the garage: my thesis box. Unless there are two, which is entirely possible. I was thinking of the box that has all the papers I collected back when we printed out and marked up papers. Several of these papers would be hard to find online, so I don't want to just toss them. But the box I brought in this morning is the one with printed drafts of my thesis. The drafts that I printed to copy for binding, the drafts that I gave to my committee for feedback, and drafts of the the resulting paper that we published in Journal of Geophysical Research, with my co-authors edits and with mine.
I feel mixed about throwing them away. I could scan them, of course, but I'm not sure that it's worth it. Okay, I'm pretty sure it's *not* worth it. But there's something about seeing the process. We see a paper, or a book, and it's all neat and tidy, and looks like it was laid down as is, and that no one ever really touched it. For novels, the characters created it. For scientific papers, the text came out of some computer. But, of course, that's not the case.
I see my scribbles—sometimes taking up more space than the actual type—and see the thought processes, the hashing out, the decisions of inclusion and elimination, the decisions with both words and content, and I think that somehow this must be worth something. I realize it's only worth something to me. And even then, not very much. More than anything, it's worth this reflection. I look at these pieces of paper like a young child looks at its poop in the toilet, in that stage where they don't want you to flush it. Because its theirs. They made that. I feel this way about just about anything I've every scribbled. It's so very hard to throw it away. Because I made that glorious piece of shit.
I suppose this is the life of a pack rat. Pieces of poop in boxes. At least now, we can store those pieces of poop online, as a consolation. Not tactile, but at least still there, in the ether. It's not the same, but it's actually more accessible than being in the garage. I just wonder this: What happens to our cyber-trash when we pass on? Does someone go through that shit? Isn't that even more tedious and difficult than going through someone's boxes? What about all those brilliant novels and poems that get published by a proud and grieving mom posthumously? Are they now just thrown out with the hard drive? And what about the cloud? Does it just grow and grow?
Perhaps someday we will have an algorithm to recognize those brilliant works of prose (and whatever other media) and pull them from cyberspace to the (virtual) desktop.
In the meantime, I'm considering the picture here enough to represent my dazzling poop from my master's research process, and recycling the rest.
April 12, 2013
December 28, 2012
I'm Weird, Act Normal
It's sunny and snowy and bright and clear outside, and I've overslept again. My face looks tired and old, creased with sleep, but Sonora needs to go out. Judah feeds her before he goes to work, and it's my job to take her to the park to do her morning business. Sometimes lately she's slept while I've gotten up, snoring still in the bed, but today she's up with a start, ready, constantly moving around me whatever I do to indicate she wants out.
I'm wearing onesies. Last year, my brother got me footed jammies for Christmas, bright red with monkeys on the feet and one embroidered on the chest. I was delighted but soon learned they were ridiculously warm and a little bit short. Too warm, and too short. So I put them in a give-away pile. But they were still here when I needed something to wear to a holiday party, and then I realized they were the perfect thing for our frigid apartment on those particularly cold days, so I wore them last night. And this morning, I wasn't ready to change. So I put a down jacket on in hopes that 1) I wouldn't see anyone and 2) the jacket would cover them enough that I would look like I was wearing something somewhat almost normal.
We went out. Thankfully, no neighbors in the courtyard.
Sonora peed shortly after we reached the park, which was lovely. There was no one there. I walked back across the park slowly and she mostly followed, which was also lovely, and unusual. I didn't call her once. Then, she pooped, which was great too. Ah, good, you've taken care of everything you need to take care of, and you're good for the day. Then as I cleaned her poop, another dog appeared. With a person. And Sonora noticed them. And was interested. Shoot. I called her, and she didn't come. My thought was, Sonora, don't you know what I'm wearing?
I had to follow her. The person was protective, as though his dog wasn't friendly. So I had to go all the way over there, and actually talk to him. He spoke first. (I was still thinking I could get away with not.) He was friendly. (Even if his dog wasn't.) He introduced himself, despite my tired sleep-crinkled face and my funny pants--I'm sure my coat doesn't cover as much of them as I'd like. It always amazes me that people act so normal when I feel so weird. His name is Matt, and the dog's name is Salida, and sometimes she's friendly and sometimes she's not. She and Sonora played until they started snarling and barking and were on top of each other and then Matt pulled Salida away and I put Sonora on leash (still pulling to go play--she's not the best at reading signs) and Matt and I were still friendly even though our dogs weren't and we cheerfully parted ways.
I'm still in the onesies, but I don't have to go out again until this afternoon, when Sonora needs to pee again. Although I'll probably change out of them before then. Probably.
December 26, 2012
A moth died under a rock on the windowsill.
I don't know how long it's been there.
I don't know when the last time was that I lifted that rock.
The rock is black and bubbled, a volcanic rock from Ecuador.
The moth is a soft light beige with darker layered stripes,
with some green in the mix, and a fuzzy hunchback.
The moth is from here.
I wonder what it is meant to blend in with.
Not the windowsill, and not the rock.
It has big round gray-green unseeing eyes and a fuzzy non-breathing chest, or abdomen,
or whatever that segment of an insect is called.
The bee next to it died on the windowsill on its back, legs up in the air and curled to its body.
But the moth was wings up, as though it were alive,
or as though it went intentionally under the rock to rest there,
I swept both into my open palm with dust and bits of trash.
I know how the bugs got there.
I don't know how the trash did.
December 25, 2012
Confessions of a Christmas Afficionado
It's true. Maybe this year more than any other in my adult life. Well, maybe not. Regardless, I love Christmas. It's wistful, magical, and special. I've always liked "special," although I've gotten away from it in my adult life. Days are days are days. But I really do like, maybe even live for, a break in the norm. Something to look forward to. And Christmas is one of those times--one of the only almost-universal ones, at least in the U.S., even though it's based on a religious day. (Even though the celebration of it is highly secular. So, the way I see it, anyone can claim it. The roots are pagan, after all, and it can just be turned into a solstice or winter celebration for those who don't want to honor the baby Jesus. What does Santa have to do with religion? But I digress.)
I love Christmas. I don't like consumerism, I don't like the stress and the expectations, I absolutely loathe the car and jewelry commercials, but I *do* like the giving, and, yes, the getting, and the feeling of togetherness, and the feeling of relief from the usual routine--the shoulds.
This Christmas, I had high hopes. Hopes that I would do many things that *I* wanted to do--including, actually, work on my project. But also reading, and writing, and cleaning, and just being me. I expected to spend most all of the brief holiday alone. Judah left for New York to be with his family on Friday, and I had until Christmas night when he got back to stretch into our apartment, wake and go to sleep when I wanted without anyone's judgement, cuddle with the dog (as much as she cuddles...), work on some unnecessary projects, complete all the projects I've started and still haven't forgotten about. Play the beautiful cheesy 80s music that I wanted to play, watch "The Sound of Music," journal and reminisce and feel the romance of the season. I didn't want it to ever end.
I went to the grocery store and bought myself a tree. A grocery store is one of the most festive places I can think of. Christmas music over the sound system, people buying up fruit and meat and cheese and handfuls of nuts. I almost wanted to go back, partly because I didn't know how to find Christmas music.
Ten years ago, for Erebus, Mom sent me down with mixed tapes of Christmas music that we played through a clugey speaker system using my walkman. Those were the days, eh? This year, things were too high tech for me to even figure it out. We have too many channels on TV, too many radio options through the Apple TV, no Christmas music in Judah's iTunes collection, and I didn't know where else to turn. Eventually, late Christmas eve, I set up a Pandora 'Christmas Traditional' station, which I think is what had been on at some friends' house.
So no, I didn't spend the entire holiday alone.
But I did spend a good couple days mostly alone. My grocery store tree is a Norfolk Island pine, and I was ecstatic buying it but for the embarrassing ornaments included on the light branches.
I removed the biggest offender, set the tree on our card table, and put the presents sent by my parents underneath.
Okay, more alongside of. But it will grown. That's the best thing about this little tree. It's alive, and I hope to keep it alive, and to be able to use it again next year. My mom always had a nice, big Norfolk Island pine when I was growing up, so it seems quite the appropriate plant to have in the house. Sans the sparkles. (Will they damage the leaves? Will they [please] wear off?)
This is the view I'll having coming downstairs for Christmas morning! I thought gleefully. But I ended up sleeping downstairs, on the couch (where I cuddled in with Sonora and called my dad to have him read me "The Night Before Christmas") (yes, I'm 36. My brother's older than I am, and he did the same thing), and I'd somehow lost my gusto for a Christmas alone by Christmas morning. It was a sad thing, actually. I was so looking forward to it. But sometime in the evening, I headed off to a friend's husband's stepsister's husband's parents' house for dinner. I could have made that much simpler by just saying a friend's parents' house, but that was more fun.
I wanted to send out a big thank you, though, for various invites. My friend Nancy invited me over for brunch and a movie, Patty invited me over for brunch and a Portlandia marathon, Danielle invited me over for dinner, and Tanja also invited me over for dinner. Tanja warned that her husband, Scott was sick, and that I was still welcome but she'd understand if I wanted to pass. So I passed. But we had a bag of mushrooms to transfer, so we met halfway between our houses (we live about two minutes apart) and she came over to hang out for a short bit. When I took the bag from her, she warned there were other things too. A plate. Of food. Of Christmas dinner. Of this:
Wow. Thank you, Tanja. She also included some hummus and some veggies.
I am spoiled.
And sometime in the afternoon I opened the goods from my parents, while on Google meetup with them. Technology, eh?
Oh, and the crazy looking bear is a story for another time. From Marianne, not my parents. And it's awesome.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
December 21, 2012
i just realized it's been ten years since I was on Erebus. Ten years! I was just reading old entries, procrastinating on a paper due tomorrow, and it hit me. Ten years!
In 1992-93, I was in Spain as an exchange student.
In 2002-03, I was on Erebus, in Antarctica for the first time.
Now, ten years later, in 2012-13, I'm.... staying home for Christmas, for the first time ever. Not going to Seattle. Not going to New York. Not in Spain, not in Antarctica. I didn't feel lame until now, but now... Sheesh, if I realized it was my big year to do something--xxx2-x3--maybe I would have actually found an adventure. The next thing. Quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed in myself.
Twenty years since Spain. Ten years since Erebus. Wow. Time doesn't stop for anything, does it? Perhaps there's still time to sneak onto some semi-ridiculous adventure for the new year. At the very least, I can keep reading blog entries and thinking "Holy cow--that was ten years ago."
Warm thoughts to everyone near and far, regardless of what adventures you are embarking on.
December 3, 2012
Carl Sagan Made Science Sexy
Or so asserts Ira Flatow, host of NPR's popular radio show Science Friday. Flatow spoke to an audience of several hundred today at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco's Moscone Center. He first showed the classic picture of Albert Einstein with his softly wild white hair and textured, wizened face. Not sexy, claimed Flatow. But Sagan, on the other hand, with his red turtleneck and confident, charming smile...
Flatow spent most of his talk showing how science can be considered sexy, and claiming that the public likes science and wants more of it. Sagan's show "Cosmos" was the most popular program on TV for a long time, he pointed out. Right now, CBS's most popular show after news programming is "The Big Bang Theory." He also showed a plot of how often various subjects appear in the media, and whether poll respondents thought there was enough coverage of each. Sports accounted for the majority of media coverage, with only 6 percent of respondents saying there wasn't enough. Science ranked last in percentage of coverage, with almost half of respondents saying there should be more. More talk of science, technology and discoveries! Oh, and his ultimate indication that science is hot: The 2010 Barbie, created by popular vote. She's wearing a shirt with a sort of techie design, carries a laptop, and sports pink glasses. Plato adds, "But, the most telling feature for me: The sensible shoes." Barbie is wearing pink flats.
There is such a thing as too sexy, as Flatow demonstrated by comparing two videos aimed toward women in science. Check them out for yourself: The EU's "Science: It's a Girl Thing" video received quiet groans from the audience.
In case you watch it and aren't sure why it would receive groans, head to this short, amusing commentary on Jezebel. I just realized how creepy it is, too, that the dude at the beginning appears to be significantly older than the girls.
A clip from a scientist-made video about evolution and lab work, however, received a roaring applause. Kudos to these lab ladies.
Flatow also made a general call for scientists to put themselves into the public arena. Learn how to speak in plain language, he said. Say there is certainty, if there is. Speak out. Don't wait for people to come to you but rather go to where they are, organizing a science in art event or visiting an invention fair. Or, my favorite, take a politician to lunch. Flatow's message is not new. Any science communicator I've heard speak says the same thing. But it can't hurt to say it again, especially when it's said well.
The talk ended with another set of photographs of the beloved Albert Einstein. There he is sticking his tongue out, looking goofy, again with his crazy hair and wrinkled face. But there he is young, so young, a slightly blurred image of an Einstein in his 20s, with dark, slightly wavy hair and a casual suit, looking nothing like the Einstein we're used to. "Look at those penetrating eyes," said Flatow. We're talking about science being sexy again, he says. Science was already sexy back then.
November 29, 2012
No shortage of beautiful sunsets in Boulder of late. Will someone tell me why?
November 26, 2012
November 25, 2012
Thank you whoever, whatever for this amazing sunset tonight.