Sunday, May 24, 2009

One of those projects that took 30+ hours...

The song "Sax Rohmer #1" is a good song. Its music video is just flat-out impressive. So, I decided to try to copy it into a closet. The video, which (unless you're Ari and hate YouTube) you should watch first is here.

The next four pictures should be stitched together, but the text of the verses is "Bells ring in the tower, wolves howl in the hills, chalk marks show up on a few high windowsills. And a rabbit gives up somewhere, and a dozen hawks descend: every moment leads toward its own sad end. // Ships loosed from their moorings capsize and then are gone, sailors with no captains watch a while and then move on. And an agent crests the shadows, and I head in her direction. All roads lead toward the same blocked intersection." So, you can try to trace them through the three photos.

And since the entire chorus never gets written out, I did my own version on the leftover wall. I know it's heart-shaped, but believe me, that was totally unintentional.

Whew. Comments?

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Ow, my foot" or Ithaca summary with a side of Chacos pan and some complaining for garnish.

Because it's what I'm noticing most at the moment, I think I've broken my left foot. Not in half, not off, just have some weird fracture in there somewhere in the vicinity of my fourth tarsal/metatarsal area. It's a result of slacklining, but because feet are feet and you can't do much for them, I figured just walking on it and taking ibuprofen now and again was about the only thing I could do for it, But then I wore my sandals yesterday, and it got a lot worse.

Let's talk about the sandals. I've heard nothing but good things from everyone I know who has and wears Chacos. Chaco is a great company, located pretty close to me, hometown-wise (so, partially local), and generously offer a 50% discount to Peace Corps Invitees. I took them up on it, ordered two pairs of shoes. A pair of super-fantastic hiking boots, and a pair of ZX/2 sandals. I love the boots--they rock my socks. Actually, I rock them with socks, but that's (not funny, Katherine--shhh) not the point. But the sandals continue to confuse me. I wore them some, and it was fine. But then I started wearing them regularly, to hike all over Ithaca, for example, and started getting pretty bad blisters all over my feet, no matter how I adjusted the straps. Keep in mind, I really want them to fit, because I like Chaco, and I know that their shoes work really well for a lot of people. But they don't fit my feet, haven't started to wear to my feet, and have given me four thumb-sized blisters. Having gone slacklining with Jen (who visited me for three days--hooray!) and Sophia, and broken (or somehow messed up) the toe/its meta/tarsal, the Chacos exacerbate the swelling kinda painfully (I discovered yesterday), and I'm really about to disown them.

I may have to disown them anyway, though, because they're really a pain to slide on and off, and apparently I'll be doing that a lot in Mauritania. I'm kind of tempted to just get a few pairs of the Teva flipflops I like so much and wear 'em out pair by pair. After all, if I can play basketball in them, I can probably deal with the sand and so forth. But, the soft soles make me nervous. Anyway, yes, I'm frustrated at my inability to fall in love with (falling, I can do) with my ZX/2 and unimpressed at my foot, which is making it hard to walk and do things.

Let's see. Ithaca--I arrived here 4/22 or so and have gotten to spend a beautiful three weeks with all my amazing friends here. Kevin and I created lots of projects and mischief, Helen and I had adventures of all sorts, I discovered food that Erica doesn't like, and got to know the new Whitbees better. I also got to connect with Nick, Paul, Adam, Simon, Paul, Mark, John, Chad, Liana, Maddy, Sophia, Jen, Becca, and lots of other great people (i.e. if I forgot you, I'm sorry; I still love you!). Originally, I was going to camp in Danby State Forest, but then I chickened out, and have stayed in Whitby, doing chores and home improvement projects to pay for my room and board. Helen, and now Erica have left, so of course I'm heartbroken about that (second-time around goodbyes were even harder than the first, but hard goodbyes are the flip side of meaningful, important friendships), but Jen came to visit, so that's a good thing. She kept me from being too sad, because we laughed a whole lot, and yes, I broke the rule and made jokes after quiet hours.

And of course I miss Kevin a whole bunch, but it's a little bit hard to complain to him about his going to Kentucky on a really cool service trip for a week. I mean, it's easy to complain, but it's hard to not feel stupid for doing so. As he pointed out, it's funny if I'm complaining that one of us is going to go prohibitively far away and be outside easy means of contact for a longer-than-easy period of time to do public service-type work. Hi, Kettle, it's Pot, and, uh...I was wondering if you had a cup of sugar I can borrow? So, yeah. I miss Kevin.

But, all in all, Ithaca has been wonderful, I'm working on one last house project before I go, and enjoying my time here. I booked my tickets to staging yesterday, and am leaving at 8:11am on June 15th for Philadelphia. I'm also doing my best to ignore the fact that Mauritania's political situation is looking less than stable. That said, can we all just acknowledge right now that I'm a powerfully unfathomed weapon. Want an African country to have political collapse/unrest? Tell me I'm going there with some sort of institution in some sort of official capacity. You can even time it--it will begin to happen between a month and 20 hours before I'm scheduled to leave. Oh, and I called Peace Corps to ask what was up and guess what they said? "Flexibility and patience are key..."

I'll be back in Grand Junction the evening of May 28th. Happy Birthday, Toby!

[[Don't comment about: Chacos, "being patient/flexible" with respect to Peace Corps, "don't worry" about the political situation in RIM.]]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Denver, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York

I've been gone for a month, but I haven't written anything; originally that was because I was going to be sleeping way out in the forest and did not want any weirdos to come find me. This blog, I have discovered, is extremely googleable. Since I wimped out on the camping-for-a-month plan, it's just been good ol'-fashioned laziness, though.

I flew to Providence and visited Renée, which was a whole lot of fun. We ate wonderful food, played with the kittehs, went on all kinds of adventures (starring graveyards, duckpin bowling, Scrabble, lots of talking, and playing outside). I forgot things, I think. In fact, I'm sure I forgot things, but I know I had a really good time, and that Renée was a really great host. So, shout-out to Renée for letting me visit.

Then my cousin picked me up and we went to a Red Sox game with his friend Liz and her sister Kitty, who are both incredibly sweet people. They took me to the fancy section, and we ate really tasty food and watched the game from waaaaaay high up above home plate. Notable things about the game were a home run, and (more amusingly) a pickle between second and third. I kept getting confused about which team was batting, and thus was really happy sometimes when the Orioles got a hit. But I figured it out, eventually (there's that Cornell degree working for me).

We went back to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and I got to see Emily (another cousin), play outside, make bread, and try to ruin some teak that Tom was working on for his boat. I mostly failed at ruining the teak, and succeeded at making the bread. Also featured was a really intense conversation during which I failed to really explain well why although you can't do infinite experiments to demonstrate quantum stuff, it still exists. Also, I couldn't really do justice to why something can work at the particle level but not be applicable on the macroscopic level (why we don't tunnel through our chairs occasionally). I think the first one really led to the second, because theoretically if you do something an infinite number of times, your wavefunction should in fact line up with the chair's eventually. The point against which I was arguing was that if you can't do the requisite number of experiments, then you can't make that assertion. Where I really got frustrated, though, was at the subsequent assertion that "just because something is supported by math doesn't make it true." In fact, it does make it true, but not because math is infallible--it is true by nature of the fact that the math has been described by many other experiments to be both predictive and accurate. Thus, if the math says something, it probably doesn't have a vested interest somewhere else, and is thus believable. This is all contingent on having "good" equations, but since Schrödinger's seems to work pretty well so far, I fail[ed] to see how you can discount it simply because it is counterintuitive. The counterintuitive doesn't go down so well sometimes, I guess. Jen had a good point, though (she wasn't there, but she is sitting next to me as I type), when she notes that it isn't always obvious that physical (in the scientific sense) intuition does not apply on subatomic levels. I guess this is true for math, too. Just because you can balance your checkbook wrong does not mean that the Schrödinger equation will sometimes be flat out (and untracably) erroneous. Anyway, I felt (and still feel) pretty strongly about this, as you may have noticed.

Then I visited my cousins' shipyard in Bridgeport, CT, which was really cool, and visited my other cousin in Mamaroneck, NY. My great aunt was there, so I got to see her, and re-meet some of my younger cousins, before Paul gave me a ride into The City, where I visited Andrew for an evening! Hooray Andrew! The next day I went for various adventures in The City. High points were turtling (falling over backwards due to a verrry heavy backpack and verrrry tired abs) in a flowerbed in Madison Square Garden, and visiting Evan. We went to the Tenement Museum, and learned a lot about the origin of the term 'sweatshop' and living conditions in the garment district in the 1800s. I got to see Naomi, too, before adventuring off to where I was staying for the evening--with another Paul. Seeing Paul was also a lot of fun--I don't remember most of what we talked about, but usual suspects are philosophy, morality, theory of relationships, and absurd jokes. Oh, and oregano (or was it basil?) tea. The next day, I successfully caught the Shortline up to Ithaca and Whitby, where I've been ever since.

So, a shout-out to Tom, Liz, Kitty, Paul, Andrew (and Andres, whose bed I slept in), Evan, and Paul for your hospitality and general awesomenesses. And if any of you find my shirt, would you please tell me? It's my favorite one...

Ithaca will be a new entry sometime soon.