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Amtrak notes

The openings on the newspaper and aluminum can recycling receptacles were all tidily duct-taped closed.

If you bring cream with you onto the train, it will turn into butter.

The first seat I wanted, the chair back ratcheting mechanism was broken. The second seat I tried, the footrest mechanism was stuck with the footrest up.

They are trying new things with the diner car menu, but this has little benefit for vegetarians.

Only about a 1-hour delay this time.

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Mount Pleasant, Iowa

We stopped in this town last year during RAGBRAI, and again on our return to Ottumwa to retrieve Princess TinyHouse and store her in Lincoln again. Thus it feels strange to be here without a bicycle.

48 hours in Coach on Amtrak is a long time. I finished _Anathem_. It reminded me of _Godel, Escher, Bach_, which is to say, of a somewhat tiresome book that is slightly too pleased with itself.

The scenery throufh Nevada, Utah, and Colorado was calming.

Typed via smart-o-phone.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1163249.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
That was a fuck-ton of work and now I get to do it over again.

I do NOT like systems that involve shipping off samples to another location. The delayed feedback is incredibly frustrating, and then things like this happen.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1162893.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The stuff, it (still) owns you

I had ambitions for the weekend. Not all of them were realized. One was this: I have a one of those two-burner Coleman Duel Fuel stoves, but it has had unidentifiable issues the last two times I've gone to use it. So I did what one does and poked around online to look for instructions on how to take one apart and clean it.

On Saturday, I cleaned out the generator, and it seemed like the pump assembly is doing just fine with respect to generating and maintaining pressure. After all that failed to resolve the problem, on Sunday I also pulled off the manifold, soaked it in soapy water for a while, rinsed, and then left it out to dry.

I hope it works when I get to test it again this evening.

Also, a question: I got a pair of 10-foot wooden stakes, which I want to use as tomato supports. Then I learned that the soil into which I want to drive the stakes is very hard and rocky. Do any of you know much about techniques for sinking large wooden stakes into that kind of soil?

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The Warming

It's warm enough today to inspire a certain kind of heat-induced lethargy.

Or maybe that's from rowing 18 km this morning. I'm trying to gradually increase distance to build up for a marathon race in September. None of my callouses ripped open, although I do have one of those nickel-sized blisters on my right index finger that has those little white specks in it. I believe the specks are bits of shredded skin, but I'm certainly not going to pick at an intact blister.

In any case, I suspect it's warm enough that I can finally turn off the cat's heat pad, although she still wanted to snuggle in my lap at mid-day.

I should have timed the bread slightly differently, but it's too late now.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1162267.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Intellectual challenges

So I still get e-mails from my grad school research cluster, and right now there's a bunch of discussion about an Opinion piece that appeared in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences entitled "Science in the Age of Selfies." At brief glance, it appears to be one of many such articles in the academic navel-gazing category, and I'm not inclined to dwell on it at great length.

Instead, it reminded me of The Dialectical Biologist, which I would still peg as a major work that challenged and effectively reshaped my thinking. It's by two prolific Biologists, Richard Levins and Lewontin, and is a compilation of essays they've written. Learning about Lyssenkoism in particular really changed my view on the relationship between science and society. The book makes The Structure of Scientific Revolutions look like a simplistic child's model of science.

That makes me curious: what book or books that you have read would you say have really challenged and reshaped your thinking? Why?

(I may or may not be shopping for what book to read next, heh)

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1162017.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Keep it glued together, self!

Right now, KEXP is the main thing keeping me going. Thankfully, last night was productive, and this morning looks all right, too, so I'll be able to ship off samples today.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1161753.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


I remember reading, not too long ago, that one of the difficult aspects of unemployment is that the unemployed are still tied to the general schedule of those who work. This, of course, may not apply to people who seek quiet time to pursue activities that require deep concentration, but still.

With the circadian experiment, I keep finding myself in a related sort of LimboLand. I came to work late this morning, arriving at around 10 am. I plugged away at a couple of projects during the daytime (sorting crickets, a small data analysis project, a meeting), but now it's 6:30 pm and I've got to wait until 8 pm to weigh the crickets and get them staged for the 11 pm happenings. I'll run my procedures from ~10 pm - 1:30 am, then I'll sleep on my supervisor's couch until 7 am. Then I'll get up, have coffee, and stage the next crickets at 8 am. Those ones will be run from 10 am - 1 pm, and I'll probably try to go home an hour or two after that.

I went through this whole sequence from Tuesday to Wednesday as well. By Wednesday afternoon, I was feeling strongly braindead and unmotivated, so I went home and played videogames (EarthBound Beginnings) until it was time to make and eat dinner.

When I have to keep this kind of schedule, I often cart along small personal projects and think I'll work on them, but I rarely actually manage to follow through. Instead, I wind up feeling helpless and unmotivated, and dither on the Internet.

It will just be a relief when I can ship these samples off. Not quite yet, but soon.

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Of COURSE I discover these just after I finish making my own.



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Skin update

I haven't blogged much about the state of my skin in a while.

But I'm going to begin by briefly mentioning a project my mom is working on: she's decided to put thought and energy into creating a pamphlet for families with kids that have been diagnosed with ideopathic toe-walking. This subject is her specialty and was the focus of her dissertation. Her goal is to outline what it is, how it can be treated, and why it needs to be addressed in developing kids.

I mention my mom's project because the pamphlet I received when the doc declared "Acne Rosacea" wasn't particularly useful. It basically said, "Yeah, your skin looks gross, various things can trigger it, and in extreme cases it can get treated with expensive laser therapy."

I would expect a dermatologist would be more useful, except that the people I know out here who have gone to dermatologists have had widely mixed experiences. And I don't have the energy to deal with that at the moment. Also, the internet hasn't been particularly helpful, either.

I did learn one word which you probably already knew: the word "comodogenic," which is just a fancy word for things that clog one's pores.

That was actually a helpful clue. I got to realizing that the areas of my skin that were suffering the most were very dry. For a while, I tried out some MyChelle Dermaceuticals lotion + sunscreen, but while it helped with sun exposure, it wasn't helping with the dryness and scalyness. So, what next.

Well, a while ago, I started making my own lotion (.rtf file; original url within the file is now broken). I'd tried out pure aloe vera on my skin, but it only seemed to last a very short while and then my skin would be tingly and dry again. The other main ingredient in homemade lotion is some form of oil.

Everything in my life seems to keep pointing back to lipids. But okay, fine.

So then, I finally found this site, which summarizes the types and ratios of fatty acids found in various kinds of oils, and which kinds are thought to be better for different skin types. It also notes that you should test something out for ~2 weeks before reaching a conclusion about any particular thing, to give your body time to react and adjust to the new treatment.

Well, aha. I marched myself off to Berkeley Bowl and picked up some almond oil. I wish I'd known about this back when I was a teenager and scared to put anything at all on my face for fear of clogging my pores. I mean, I've avoided putting anything except sunscreen on my face for the past 20 years or so. But now I am going, well, of COURSE not all oils will clog your pores! Of COURSE certain kinds of oils would actually have the opposite effect! But it feels like it has taken forever to reach this understanding.

Anyway. So I've been testing out sweet almond oil and also jojoba oil, the latter because jojoba's what I could find in a portable size. Applying the almond oil is a strange and interesting experience because it soaks in quickly. It does make my skin feel oily, but not horribly so. After a couple of weeks of this, my skin generally feels and looks a whole lot better, although the rosacea is still present, unchanged. I think I can come to terms with the rosacea, so long as it remains at steady-state and doesn't get progressively worse. And I like knowing exactly what I'm putting on my face.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1161097.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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