Archive for September, 2010


labels are for cans, because sometimes it’s nice to know what’s in them

September 23, 2010

Today is “Celebrate Bisexuality Day” (or Bi Pride Day, or Bi Visibility Day, or any of a handful of other names for it).  I’m celebrating with…a blog post.  Not as exciting as anything someone with half an imagination and any exposure whatsoever to popular stereotypes might suggest, but hey.  As exciting as my life is these days, it seems like a good way to celebrate, and it provides a nice excuse for me to get on my virtual soapbox, too.

So, what is it that everyone is supposed to be celebrating today?  I could throw you a dictionary definition of “bisexuality” and start dissecting it, but honestly I think we’re all on the same page (or at least in the same book): when we talk about bisexuality, we’re referring to something that’s not hetero- or homosexuality, an attraction to more than just men or more than just women.

That definition was surprisingly difficult to keep vague enough to describe the many things people call bisexuality.

Some people who identify as bi say that they’re simply genderblind, “attracted to people, not parts;” for some, they’re into both men and women equally, but only the most masculine guys and femmiest of femmes, “the football players and the cheerleaders.”  Others, contrary to a lot of popular belief, have nothing even approximating an equal attraction to men and women, and I’m not even going to get into the variations on genderqueer and its associated linguistic, political, and philosophical can of worms.  Some bi folks say they fall in love with men but love to sleep with women (and vice versa); others have no experience with one sex or the other, or have no experience at all with either.  And this is just a sampling, really, of the variations I’ve heard.  Of course, this all has a flip-side, too; there are folks who don’t identify as bi who have been attracted to both men and women, along with folks who actively pursue one gender or the other (or both) while professing a seemingly incompatible sexual identity.

Obviously, this is kind of a mess.  There are two main approaches to dealing with it (other than just using the term anyway) that I’ve run across.

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things that do not make your day awesome

September 22, 2010

The phone alarm you thought was impossible to silence completely does, in fact, give up on you after the third time you hit snooze.

You realize on the bus that the reason you slept late and yet still had 5 minutes to spare is that you did not pack a lunch.

In your cubicle, a mouse has crawled into the space behind your electrical outlet and died.  Fragrantly.

Industrial lemon disinfectant doesn’t actually smell like lemon, or much better than a rotting mouse.

There are no places to eat within walking distance, and you do not have a car, bike, or any vending-machine acceptable currency.

Cookies for lunch.  Way less awesome when it sounds.  Especially when there are only 4 of them, and you’re already queasy from mouse and disinfectant.

Your half-hour meeting lasts more than an hour, and very little of it is relevant to you.

There are only 5 people in said meeting, so it’s impossible to sneak out unnoticed.

It’s raining when you want to walk to the bus.

Happy hump-day!


oh experimental science, how poetic

September 16, 2010

In the lab again (still?) tonight.  When I’m in the spectroscopy lab, I end up spending a decent bit of time doing things like improving my minesweeper time, chatting to people on gchat, dancing around the lab like a madwoman, and of course, posting on this blog (yay).  I swear it’s legit — scans are running, temperatures are equilibrating, etc etc.  It’s like this well-known (amongst nerds) XKCD cartoon. Only, with fewer swords and more dance parties and profanity.

Often, the poor people I talk to at these times get a running feed of what’s frustrating me in the lab interjected into perfectly sane conversations about vegan cupcakes or sex or things on fire or what have you.  Sorry y’all.  Tonight, you lucky privileged people who’ve never been in one of these conversations with me get a special glimpse inside.  Why?  Meh.  I’m bored.  Also, because the person I was talking to tonight thought I was funny and quoted me to someone she was talking to.

Braintwin: uggggggggggggggggggggghh
me: i hate that
at least it’s not late like yours i guess
i swear we need lunch meetings
like nice people have
oh motherfucker
Braintwin: oh no
me: of course, now that i’m at reasonable temps
the cryostat is behaving again
now that i don’t need full blast heater
it’s blasting
stupid fucking cryostat
Braintwin: gah why is it always like that?
me: logically? there are good reasons to do with solder and thermal expansion coeffients
non logically?
because it’s a stupid motherfucker and it wants us to suffer
Braintwin:  that was beautiful
me: haha
oh experiemental science
how poetic?
[Note: “Braintwin” is not a screen name (so don’t stalk!), but rather is an anonymizing nickname that Braintwin will find funny.  I hope, anyway.]
Oh science.  At least I’ll get to leave soon tonight, as opposed to the other night, where I held the dubious distinction of being one of 3 cars still here in two parking lots.  At a place where two thousand people work.  Sigh.

pet peeves for wednesday

September 15, 2010
  • People who religiously go the speed limit on Highway 93.  There is a special hell for people who go 50mph at 10:30pm.  There’s no passing lane except on the steep uphill stretches, assholes, and some of us want to get home already.  I know there are cops; we all know there are cops.  I promise they won’t stop you if you go 5 over, or even 10.  And if they do, well, maybe they just like me more.
  • Dreaming about my science.  Just…yeah.  I spend enough time thinking about it awake, do I really need to dream about it too?
  • Fruit flies.  I swear, you can destroy the source, but they keep on coming.  Rotting meat must have been so much worse for flies, if it was the basis (so they tell us in middle school science class) for the theory of spontaneous generation.  Some days I almost think fruit flies could prove it true.
  • My begging dog.  Seriously dog, I buy you fancy-ass dog chow, you have the best in fancy-ass toys which you promptly destroy, and still, right after I feed you, you’re at the table begging for what?  Tea?  My lab notebook?  My computer?  Keys?  What do you want, dog?

    Begging dog begs. STOP BEGGING, BEGGING DOG.


in which several recent events are discussed

September 14, 2010

I’m in lab late tonight, right now waiting for my sample to cool down to 15K again.  Hence, you get an update, because a hungry, lonely 8:15pm is clearly more suited to writing blog posts than to analyzing the data I just collected.

First things first, Boulder is no longer on fire!  Boulder actually never was on fire, but at one point last week, about 9,000 people living on the northwest edge of town were asked to prepare to evacuate on one particularly windy and dangerous fire night.  That wasn’t me, but holy crap, evacuating that many people (and the portion of the city it represented) would be absolutely insane.  Anyhow, the fire’s contained and the feds are leaving later this week, and they’re letting evacuees back in a little bit at a time.  I can walk the dog without the aid of albuterol again, too!  Hooray!

Meanwhile, Loveland is on fire.  Or at least it kind of still is.  Luckily, the reservoir road fire is still less than 1000 acres and has only destroyed two homes (as compared to the 6200 acres/166 homes in the fourmile fire), but still no good.  At least there were resources at the ready to devote to fighting it, since all the feds are still here and mobilized (planes and helicopters too) from the fourmile fire.  In fact, I saw the planes starting to take off again from near my ultimate frisbee league games on Sunday, and thought that the fourmile fire must have picked up again (that resulted in a big collective “uh-oh” amongst Boulder folks at league), but they were flying up to Loveland instead.

Speaking of frisbee, fall league started Sunday!  Hooray!  The partner is playing on my team, and we played against my roommate’s team in our second game, and good times were had by all.  By the way, my roommate totally dominated and kicks all sorts of ass in the deep game.  The mid game, too.  The partner also rocked, and got to handle a lot (which he loves); I played all right (pretty well for me, and considering the smoke’s effects on my lungs from the week prior).  Most importantly, I did not get schooled by the roommate when we were matched up (which is good, considering I’ve been playing for years longer), and got open on her just as much as she got open on me (which is awesome, because she’s a runner and I am decidedly not).  Hah!  My team definitely got schooled by her team, though.  Boo.

My sample is cooled!  The temperature sensor on my cryostat gave me a hell of a scare earlier (acting broken for the third time in the past several weeks), but crossing my fingers and going to eat a piece of chocolate while I ignored it magically fixed it, and now it’s worked beautifully for me.  Well, normally anyway, maybe not beautifully. Point being, it’s time for my data taking/dance party in the lab (what the hell else are you supposed to do with speakers + internet radio + nobody going to walk in on you?).


p.s. i’m fine

September 9, 2010

After writing a post about social media spreading messages in a disaster, I can’t help but note a few things for the benefit of friends and family who are just now picking up on the story now that it’s hitting national news outlets with a fury:

  • My home is not, and will not be, threatened, and neither is the city proper.
  • I am healthy right now.
  • I am closely monitoring the air quality, keeping the house closed except while it’s raining (which it did yesterday!  yay!), and I have my inhaler in my pocket at all times and a HEPA filter running in my room while I sleep.  My roommates have been awesomely cooperative in keeping the air quality good in my house to help with my asthma.
  • All of my friends are fine as well.  One has a crazy evacuation story and placed one of the initial 911 calls about the fire, but she’s fine.  She doesn’t live up there, but was staying up there at the time the fire broke out.  Her friend’s house is still standing, but damaged, and they don’t know how badly.

So there you go.  I’m using social media to spread the word, hooray!


in which we discover that even twitter is on fire

September 9, 2010

Boulder is a strange place, for sure, and certain things can only happen in such a strange place…like twitter saving lives.

Burned-out house in the Fourmile Fire. Also serves to illustrate my points about Boulder. Image credit: Daily Camera and Mark Leffingwell.

While the reputation here is mostly one of free lovin’, granola-munching, tree-hugging hippies (thanks, 1969), in actuality, most of the city’s full-time residents are from some sort of delusional parallel universe where shopping at Whole Foods and driving the newest model of the Toyota Prius (you know, one that stops when you ask it to) are the best things you can do to help the environment.  So, by being populated by citizens from this delusional parallel universe, and getting a helping hand from lots of local ordinances that effectively make Boulder into a gated community that would fit in nicely in Cary, NC, Boulder has turned into some sort of bizarre utopia for upper middle class white folks who still cheer for Al Gore, constantly purchase the newest eco-friendly products, and buy only organic produce.  Even if it means choosing produce from friggin’ New Zealand over something that was grown <200 miles away on the western slope, and if it means throwing away something perfectly functional to replace it with something newer and eco-friendlier.  Oh, and everybody has an iPhone.  Everybody.

You may have noticed a certain disgust I have with my adopted town and its stupid consumption-based “activism” and stupid anti-student housing ordinances (which I have been breaking with gleeful abandon since the very first day I moved here).  Grrrr.  It’s just irrational and exclusive, to the detriment of the town, and I don’t just think that because I don’t have the money to participate in this strange “utopia.”

Bearing this description of Boulder in mind, consider this: in the Fourmile Fire disaster (now the most property-destructive in Colorado’s history, with 169 homes confirmed destroyed as of this posting), when the city’s emergency notification system failed, the evacuation message was spread on twitter and facebook instead.  Twitter has also been the best source of information throughout the evolving disaster (usually by keeping reliable links coming more than providing factually accurate information by itself), and the best map of the fire area is being built collaboratively on google.  I don’t have either a twitter or facebook account, but I’ve been able to follow both using google’s update function, and the Daily Camera’s scrolling twitter feed for everything with the #boulderfire hashtag.  It’s pretty cool to see the news and anecdotes and offers of help for the evacuees and those who lost their homes roll in in real time whenever I sit down to check out the news.

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