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Hither and Yon

Yesterday I went hiking with my parents. We drove up towards Bellingham and hiked up Oyster Dome to soak in the views of Puget Sound. Then we returned to the trailhead, where friends from B-ham had driven to meet up with us, and enjoyed a splendid evening picnic. A perfect PNW summer day. Looking out over Orcas Island and the Olympic mountains was both beautiful and a little heart-wrenching. I'll be back to visit. You have my heart captured for forever, Washington.

Today has featured miscellaneous running around, plus lunch with [personal profile] ivy, yay! I was in search of a Dremel flex-tip and bulk shampoo and conditioner. Hardwick's didn't have the flex-tip, but Stoneway Hardware did. Neither the Central Co-Op nor the Fremont PCC has bulk shampoo or conditioner anymore. I guess it isn't worth the hassle for them. So I'll probably just order my own gallons once we get up to New York, sigh.

The flex-tip doesn't fit onto the end of my parents' Dremel (their Dremel is too old). Hopefully I can track down a Dremel to borrow before the end of this trip, so I can fix up a teapot I gave to my mother years ago that only pours out tea at a dribble.

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CA-WA photodump

Finally getting caught up on photos, but at the same time my left arm informs me I should minimize computer use for a while if I can.

Clicky for photos...Collapse )

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The Montlake Bridge [Seattle]

The Montlake Bridge is almost certainly the source for many, many dream elements over the years.

There's just something about the metal grating that things can fall through, the sound of car tires as they cross it, the metalwork and green color of the handrail, the strip of sidewalk that always feels just a bit too narrow and precarious, the long drop down into the Cut, the water below.

The bridge went up right after I crossed over it, on my way to the UW light rail station. I had to turn, pause, and watch.

And it still tickles my funny bone that the light rail tunnel passes underneath it all.

Ways in which this city is NOT the Bay Area: Wading pools in the parks. Big, droopy leaves on the trees. Mountains so close you can touch them (a clear day today, so you can see the Cascades and the Olympics, and we will all point this out to each other). No lurking fear of long-term drought, no insane long-distance irrigation projects, no crazy Central Valley.

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Hi, Seattle!

Walking out of the UW light rail station, I spied a copy of the Seattle Weekly, which mentioned something about a certain International Film Festival, held annually in Seattle. I HAVE NOT BEEN HERE FOR IT FOR WAY TOO LONG.

Suddenly, I know what I'll be doing with whatever time I can scrape together.

I've missed you, Seattle. You've changed in so many ways, but are the same in so many other ways.

Time for sleeping and then doing all the things.

Tomorrow will include some book shopping, potentially. Recommendations welcome in the comments.

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Simple pleasures, CA

Bullet points for the moment.

The regatta was a wonderful chance to catch up with rowing friends, old and new. Racing went...okay. Details to follow. Nothing catastrophic, but some learning experiences, ahem.

I showed up and did a bunch of cooking, to no one's surprise. While this kitchen has its quirks, it really is a nice space to cook, overall. [personal profile] scrottie will be amused to learn that the toaster oven now permanently lives out on the counter - apparently N is enough of a fan of toast that all felt it was justified.

Today we had crepes for breakfast, then I went to the lab to finish up this last lipid assay, came back home again for lunch, and then we did the Moser hike, which now includes very minimal time on Moser (just crossing it twice), but was quite scenic and pleasant.

Now dinner, then off to the train station to catch the train to Seattle. I managed to use a full dozen of eggs while here - household members have found it challenging to keep up with egg production.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1226125.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Berkalerk

The bullet points:

1. Went to 1951 Coffee Company for a latte and breakfast pastries. In lieu of typical coffeeshop art, they have a set of large murals that are all about what it's like to be a refugee and everything that's involved in getting resettled in a new place. Part of the mural notes that it takes an average of 17 years for the resettlement process to be completed.

Oh - related to that - this July, my father plans to attempt the Seattle-to-Portland 2-day, 200-mile bike ride, and is also raising funds for refugees. Here's a link to the donations page, if this is something that you are willing and able to support:
https://fundraise.worldreliefseattle.org/fundraiser/1442733

(he notes that this organization has a good reputation on Charity Navigator, and also that personal donations are triple-matched through a government grant)

2. Went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics to ogle and feel all the fabrics. Then I bought way too many beautiful fabrics, way too many buttons, and a dress shirt pattern. Ahem. I have some somewhat diabolical plans for the dress shirt pattern, which I will reveal if things work out in the end.

3. Had lunch with my Berkeley postdoc advisor and a labmate. It will surprise no one to learn that it was wonderful to catch up. Then we worked on some of the circadian stuff - keeping things afloat even if our forward progress is slow. It's nice to get to do that in person, at least!

4. When I moved away, I had one big item of unfinished business left: a set of ~90 crickets where I wanted to do a lipid extraction to quantify their fat stores. I ordered more diethyl ether at the beginning of December 2017, but it never showed up for months and months even after I'd already left. It finally showed up last month (April), but the samples were still sitting there, untouched, when I showed up to the lab last night. So I get to do some labwork while I'm in town! The soaking solution has to get changed out once a day for 3 soaks total, then they get dried and re-weighed. I'm not sure I remember how to vacation anymore.

5. Then I headed back to the house, picked up a few groceries, and made a mushroom-cheese quiche and baked a cake (Fern Cake!). There are still over 2 dozen eggs left, just begging to be used.

It is so humid here (compared to AZ), and everything is flowering. It is so botanically confusing, as compared to Arizona, where the desert kills most stuff so the botanical landscape is simplified down to tough trees and cacti.

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Dances

[personal profile] scrottie and I went to see Eroica - An Evening at the Garden last night - a ballet performance by Arizona Ballet held outdoors at the Desert Botanical Garden. Altogether a fantastic performance, although I find I am often shocked by the terrible and rude behavior of audience members. I tend to favor more modern dance over traditional ballet, but this performance was a good marriage of classical methods with modern choreography.

In other dances, I wound up concluding that the simplest course of action for dealing with that darned bicycling train crossing ticket was to pay a diversion fee and take an online "Bicycle Diversion Class." I am also now following strict interpretations of traffic laws for Arizona to the best of my ability, which means things like ensuring my speed drops down to zero MPH and putting my foot in contact with the pavement at every stop sign, every time. And of course waiting a few extra seconds at train crossings until the crossing arm is obviously up and completely turned off, without any hints of motion anywhere. If you ride bikes with me, consider yourself warned.

When I went to follow through on this decision, I discovered that I needed to visit the court in person to pay the diversion fee. I'm glad I discovered that BEFORE leaving to travel until almost the end of the month, and on a morning when I have a bit of spare time to go back over there. The diversion course itself is online, and in making the best of a bad situation I think it will be interesting to see what the content is like. I will also be writing a letter to the City Council about a series of bicycling-related items, including education and enforcement decisions.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1225503.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Gradually coming around

Not letting myself get distracted by the Tweet-machine during the middle of the day is still hard, which means it's definitely a necessary personal policy to stay off it during working hours, as with the Book of Face. What happens to me is I find myself needing a brief mental pause, so I flip over to check things, and get sucked in. A better mental pause would be something like gazing out a window with a nice view, or staring at an ant colony on my desk, or petting a cat (except cats don't always have the best timing).

Sometimes it feels like it takes me forever to come around to figuring out how to deal with disappointing outcomes, like the manuscript rejection last week. But finally, I think I am, after multiple nights of waking up at 3 am with my mind going in useless circles. It helped that a new paper came out last week that shifts our understanding of the evolutionary relationship between leafcutter ants and their fungus garden. The main take-home message from this new paper is that more emphasis should be put on thinking about how the behavior of different leaf-cutter species has affected the ecological success of individual species. The paper also reminded me of another paper I reviewed a while ago which I need to think about some more and probably cite in the next revision of the Leafcutter Manuscript of Doom. Somehow it also helped to get the final outcome for a totally unrelated manuscript that I reviewed, in which the editor both respected my input and ensured I don't have to look at the darned thing yet again (fix your terrible writing, people!). I guess it was just helpful reassurance that I'm not a complete idiot (=imposter syndrome).

In the meantime, there are always plenty of other things to work on, of course. Too much time is getting eaten up by other people's ant-related projects at the moment, but later this week I am going to deliberately shift over to cricket stuff for a while. So much juggling.

My evening reading these days is a somewhat historic text on life history evolution (published in 1992). It's slow going, and I'm not clear on whether that's just because I find the content challenging, or whether that has to do with the writing style. Probably both, right? It's academic writing, after all. On the other hand, it feels like the book is putting a lot of different pieces into place for me, as it provides some of the foundational context for thinking about life history trade-offs. Yet another book I wish I'd read early in grad school. Better late than never. I'm not looking forward to reading the other text on life history evolution from 1992, because in my experience the other author's writing tends towards the unintelligible, which is really unfortunate. But on the other hand, it will be very useful to have finished reading both books so I can cite them where appropriate.

Do you have any tricks for getting through reading slogs?

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Ceramics, waffles, and grapefruit, oh my

This past weekend was ceramics-filled. On Saturday, after the typical jaunt to the farmer's market, I headed to the studio to wrap up projects from the 8-week spring session. I had three bowls left to glaze, but wanted to paint in some designs using some iron oxide stain. I managed to complete one out of the three, but I kind of figure that's okay because that will give me time to evaluate how some of the earlier pieces turn out when deciding how to handle the remaining two bowls.

On Sunday, it was time to deal with all the glaze drips from the first glaze firing. I have learned from experience that diamond-tipped Dremel bits are good for cutting through glass, but wanted to see about getting a diamond-tipped cutoff wheel to go along with the other bits, as it seemed like the cutoff wheel would be better for aspects of the job at hand.

Meanwhile, while making pancakes on Sunday morning, at one point I heard a strange popping sound, and then later on I discovered a small scorch mark on the countertop. It appears that at some point, problems started to develop with the waffle iron's power cord right at the stress point where it meets the waffle iron, and someone's solution was to wrap things in electrical tape. Over time, the tape worked free and the fraying ends of the cord must have come in contact with each other.

So, off to the hardware store, for some crimps, safety glasses, and more Dremel accessories!

The waffle iron fix has turned into a bigger project. When I went to reattach the (now shortened) power cord, I discovered that the insulation around the high-heat wire is starting to fray. So now that's going to require another trip to the hardware store, plus maybe I will also look for slightly different wire crimps.

The ceramics work was more successful. The drippy plant pot is now ready for plants, and the handled mugs can go into service. I wound up having to reinforce the feet on both mugs with some plumber's epoxy to make up for spots where the foot got chiseled away when the person unloading the kiln worked to free the pieces from the kiln shelf.

Foot fix
Yes, that's the cat's butt on the upper right, heh.

Ugly plumber's grey is not exactly kintsugi, but at least these mugs can be put into service now. I'm not a huge fan of mugs with handles, but S had requested one, so here we are.

The mugs also highlight something that Bridget would often say: "Clay has memory." I hear her voice in my mind so often when I'm working with clay, in a good way. That's a big part of what made her such a wonderful teacher.

By the time I had finished trimming the mugs back in the leatherhard stage, the handles that I'd pulled were slightly too dry. I tried attaching them anyway. You can more easily see the results of that clay memory for the mug on the left - kind of an entertaining outcome. The mug on the right developed a crack in the middle of the handle as it dried, but the glaze did an excellent job of filling in the crack.

While I Dremeled away, [personal profile] scrottie FINALLY got to make some batches of grapefruit marmalade. I was so glad that the fruits on the tree he found were still in great shape for cooking and canning. Altogether, a busy weekend.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1225072.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Just remembered... [temperature tolerance]

Here's where we currently are with those various heat metrics specific to life in the low desert in Arizona: daytime temperatures are edging up above 100 degrees F, hovering around 104-105. Hot but not brutal (yet). There's a brief window late at night / early in the morning when the temperature dips below 82 degrees F, which is where I've been setting the thermostat at night so I can sleep and not feel like murdering anybody. So I can open up the house to air it out and cool off slightly from about 3 am until around 7 am, which is when the temperature starts to climb back up again. So, summer hasn't actually hit yet. Real summer usually starts closer to June.

Does anyone know where to find information about the upper temperature limits for ferns? I can find information about lower temperatures, but not upper temps. I guess there's a variety of Hart's Tongue fern that is from Mexico:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_scolopendrium

...which suggests that moisture/humidity control might be a bigger factor than temperature control. I also have a maiden hair fern that looks like it is getting pretty darned grumpy in spite of misting it twice a day. I have a very small variety of asparagus fern, too, which seems to not mind things too much so far, plus one other small fern that also seems reasonably content, all things considered.

I'm mostly asking because I'm setting the household "away" temperature to 85 degrees for the comfort of the ferns. We used to set the Farmer House away temperature to 89 degrees, for comparison, and at that time I could manage to sleep with it set to 84 or 85, IIRC. My personal temperature tolerance has dropped, sigh, so we're burning more coal to refrigerate DogTown. I also have to figure that this temperature range is better for the household electronics.

Ahh, desert life.

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