Saturday, December 31, 2016

Focus: 2016's Word of the Year

I didn't make any resolutions for 2016. Instead, I chose a theme: focus.

Image courtesy Ryan McGuire
Now that the year is over, it's time to reflect. What did "focus" mean for me? Did it help me ease out of bad habits or start good ones? Was I happier, more productive?

 What did "focus" mean for me?

First of all, the reasons I decided "focus" should be my word:

In a nutshell, I am a really awful multitasker. We all are, aren't we? My problem is that so many things are interesting and I'm not always good at prioritizing. The biggest ways I (fail to) multitask:

1. I'll be working on a blog post and need to Google something or other. But then when I go to switch tabs, I notice one that I don't remember ("What is this?") or another that I haven't really looked at yet ("I was saving that for later!") and then twenty minutes later I remember that I was writing a blog post and was originally going to just do a quick Google. The same can be said for open windows in the desktop.

2. This also happens with jewelry. I have 5000 different ideas about what I should make next or how I should promote my Etsy.

3. Beyond Etsy, "jack of all trades" is my life story. I sell jewelry; I also teach English and work as a freelance editor/proofreader. My unpaid work includes full-time Swedish language study and writing.

(Let's not get into how many books I try to read at once.)

 Did it help me ease out of bad habits or start good ones?

So yes, I can have a hard time choosing one thing over another! Did consciously trying to focus do anything to fix these problems?

1. I think the most obvious and lasting effect of "focus" is that I no longer keep 387671 different tabs open in Chromium. It's a small thing, but it's kind of important. Chromium tabs kind of represent my working memory and my "pressing issues," for lack of a better term. It's harder to get distracted when I don't have as many "what was this?" or "saving this for later" tabs open. 

The same is true for open windows. My digital workspace is now much less cluttered, which does a lot keep me on track. (It also frees up RAM, making the programs I am using run that much [okay, not much] faster.)

2. This year I decided it would be the year of chainmaille and made a point of ordering high-quality supplies and learning specific weaves that could apply to my STEM ideas. As a result, I've been able to branch out into biology with chainmaille pieces inspired by DNA and gel electrophoresis—ideas that would be impossible to do in beads, or tedious at best, and result in a look that I'm not too interested in pursuing. (Beadweaving is the first step to madness, IMHO.)

3. This is maybe the one area where "focus" fell down. I certainly devoted more time to focusing on professional development in all three of my career branches than I maybe would normally, but I didn't do as much as I could. Ideally, I should have focused on one career track and prioritized that. Or maybe not? I don't know.

Was I happier, more productive?

First of all, happier. This is the hardest question to answer, since I can't go back and relive 2016 without focus for comparison's sake. And it doesn't quite work to compare how I felt in 2016 to how I felt in 2015, since 2016 was just such an absolute fucking dumpster fire of a year.

Productivity is a little easier to tackle. I think I wasted less time than I would have otherwise. I was more diligent about noticing that I was getting sucked into Facebook or Twitter and stepping back. I read more books than I did last year, even though the last third of my year was sucked up with a full-time language course. 

Overall, I think the "word of the year" project was, at least, marginally successful for me. I'm pretty sure I know what word I'm going to use to guide my actions in 2017, but that's another post. But I'll definitely keep "focus" in mind for the new year.

Did you have a word of the year? How did it work out for you? Do you think you'll use one in 2017?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

#TBT Euler Variscite Seashell Necklace

This is a necklace that, judging by the materials and the design, dates back to around 2010 or 2011. Most recently in my math jewelry I've focused exclusively on pi, but in earlier work I tried to branch out into other irrational numbers—like Euler's number.

Euler's number mathart sciart finance economics math teacher jewelry gift
Euler's number necklace by Kokoba
Euler's number isn't as sexy as pi. We don't use an exotic Greek character to refer to it, just e. And while pi enjoys near-universal usage as circles are everywhere, e has a more specialized usage. The only time you probably encounter logarithms is in banking: e is an important part of calculating compound interest.

Euler's number mathart sciart finance economics math teacher jewelry gift

Also, if you're wondering: "Euler" is pronounced like "oiler," not like it would rhyme with "Ferris Bueller." The more you know!

Euler's number mathart sciart finance economics math teacher jewelry gift

This necklace features one of my all-time favorite stones, variscite, also known as aqua terra jasper, snakeskin jasper, or impression jasper. I'm actually nearly out of this in my bead box, so listing this one has been a reminder to do some bead shopping. The tan beads are cultured pearls. The spacers between each digit are drilled sea shells, completing the marine look.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What I Read: Day of the Locust

Well, since 2016 has been year of the mediocre white male, seems fitting that my last book review of the year is one by a mediocre white man!

Just kidding. I have no idea if Nathanael West was himself a mediocre white man. But Day of the Locust features a whole bunch of them. It's telling that the novel (or is it more like a novella?) didn't initially sell well, and wasn't considered a "classic" until some years after its initial publication. I'm split on this—on the one hand I'm something of a populist and want to say that if a novel fails to do well with its peers, then maybe it's not that good. On the other hand, Moby-Dick and other greats were equally underappreciated in their times, and books like The Da Vinci Code top contemporary bestseller charts. So...who knows?

Image courtesy Penguin

But I really, really, really did not like this book. There were some scenes of striking and surreal visual interest (as any Hollywood back lot must be, I imagine) but it was all overshadowed by how needlessly and humorlessly obnoxious most of the cast was. Tod Hackett spends a good portion of the time either daydreaming about raping (West's words, not mine) Faye, the token love interest, or scheming to try to seduce her. Most of the other men aren't much better: they all feel entitled to Faye's attention as well as her body. Some are violent about it; others just seethe. Faye herself is every awful stereotype about women rolled up into one uncomfortably young character (she's around 17 and has men in their 20s, 30s, maybe even 40s chasing after her).

All of this would be possible for me to ignore, or look over, or hand wave away if the writing were anything amazing, but it's not.

In my trek through the TIME Top 100 novels, I've come to notice that there are certain groups of novels. A number of books can be classified as featuring "Dysfunctional Expatriates," for example. Another group could easily be "Sad Families." You also have "Character Studies," "Romantic Melodramas," "Formal Experiments," and so on. One of those groups you could easily label "Farce" and that's where Day of the Locust seems to fit in best. Other notable members include At-Swim-Two-Birds, Money, Lucky Jim, and Under the Net. But where the others are genuinely funny, or even satirical, Day of the Locust is just a book spent with unpleasant and uninteresting people.

Maybe it's book for Hollywood people, I don't know.

The edition I checked out from the university library also featured West's earliest novel, The Dream Life of Balso Snell. As far as a surreal and expressionist trip through the annals of art goes, it was okay. It's an improvement on Day of the Locust in that because it's so surreal, it can't really trade in stereotypes because it can't really even attempt to realistically characterize anyone. But otherwise it's too far out there in Experimental land for me. ("Experimental" would be another group in the list: Nightwood, Naked Lunch, Mrs. Dalloway, On the Road.)

I think I'm extra frustrated with how unfunny this book was because I was really looking forward to it and expecting it to be something akin to a written version of a Marx Brothers movie. Something like Under the Net but set in Hollywood rather than London.


Anyway, it sucks that West died prematurely in a car accident because maybe he could have stopped being such a whiny entitled dude (if his writing is anything to go by), but as it is I am thoroughly unimpressed. He's up there with John Updike and V. S. Naipaul when it comes to "Writers Whose Works I Found To Be Thoroughly Unpleasant to the Point of Revulsion." #sorrynotsorry

And on that note: fuck off, 2016. You even ruined wanting the year to be over. You and Nathanael West can go suck eggs.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Five Fandom Friday: Holiday Recommendations or Traditions

Image courtesy Darling Stewie
So I guess 5 Fandom Friday is back? Anyway, this prompt is way more interesting than the OG Friday 5, so I'm rolling with this one: 5 Holiday Recommendations or Traditions!

1. Saffron

Image courtesy Brandon W. Mosley

This is a Very Swedish winter thing, but . . . saffron. Between Persian friends and Swedish holiday traditions, I've had more saffron in the last three years than I've had in my entire life. All during advent (but especially on St. Lucia day, December 13) there are seasonal saffron and rice pastries available in convenience stores and grocery store bakeries all over. You also have it in rice porridge for breakfast around Christmas proper. The best part, IMO, are the fresh saffron cookies our store's bakery sometimes puts out.

2. MST3K and RiffTrax

This happened. With a young Pia Zadora (not pictured). What a time to be alive, 1964.

There's Santa Claus, Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Santa's Village of Madness (not the original title) . . . so many bad Christmas movies to watch! And people keep making more, too. Good movies are good, but bad movies are great.

3. All the goddamn cookies

Just. All of them. Lawyer Mom makes these bomb-ass cookies stuffed with Andes mints. This isn't quite the recipe she follows, but it looks close enough. You're welcome.

4. Glögg

Image courtesy Brian Lary

Or mulled wine. Whatever you want to call it. DELISH.

5. The Big Lebowski

I don't know why, but at some point I started watching The Big Lebowski on New Year's Eve and then just . . . kept doing it. (Except the years I went to see the Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes movies in theaters.) I think there is something about The Dude's unflappable chill that helps me prepare for another year. And I'm going to need a lot of chill to make it through 2017 without having a freaking heart attack.

What holiday traditions do you follow? Let me know, and have a good one!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

#TBT Electron Mass Necklace

This is a Kokoba beta release. It was originally an item for the Mad Scientists of Etsy!'s monthly challenge at some point in 2013: an item inspired by the discovery of a new species of frog that is the world's smallest vertebrate.

Image courtesy Christopher Austin, LSU
I'm still quite pleased with how it came out.

Quantum physics sciart science necklace
Electron radius necklace by Kokoba Jewelry
I tried to stick with frog-y colors, and the green aventurine beads you see there are 8 mm in diameter: around the same size of Paedophryne amauensis (which is technically an average of 7.7 mm in length). And since we're talking about something really, really small, what better way to celebrate it than with a subatomic particle?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What I Read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

My only previous experience with Sherman Alexie was "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" and Smoke Signals. It was homework for my freshman year creative writing workshop. Our assignment was to read the story, watch the movie, and then write about the differences between the two. I don't remember much about either the story or the movie except that I wasn't particularly blown away by either of them.

This would have been two years before Absolutely True Diary... was published. So when people started talking about it, I thought, "Oh, yeah, Smoke Signals guy. Whatever."

But then people whose tastes I trusted read it and raved about it. And then, well, Standing Rock.* So when I saw Absolutely True Diary... in the teen section of my local library, I knew that I had to see if it was any good.

Image courtesy Kirk Benshoff and Little, Brown and Company

It was.

Whatever was distant, disconnected, and impersonal for me in "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" and Smoke Signals was immediate and personal for me in Absolutely True Diary... Maybe it has something to do with the universality of high school experience? Even if I've never been the only Native student in a white, wealthy high school, I've often felt like the only something in high school. Maybe it was Junior's distinctive voice. Maybe it was just my mood. Whatever.

The illustrations are a nice touch. It has something of a Diary of a Wimpy Kid feel, though not nearly so heavy on the "attempting to look like an actual diary" aspect. 

This one was also a quick read. I read half of it on my subway commute and the other half on campus. It won't take you long to blow through it but it's a really powerful and important book nonetheless. Now that I've read this, I'm wondering if I should go back and give Alexie's writing for adults another try. It's been a long time since 2005, after all.

*I'm well aware that Alexie is a member of the Spokane nation in Washington state, not the Dakota people who live in Standing Rock. But white people have been equally shitty to both groups, let's be real.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Newly Listed: Blue Lace Agate Light Speed Necklace

Some of the deep cuts I brought back with me from the US used a lot of blue lace agate. It's a beautiful stone and, quite frankly, the pieces they were in were pretty fugly. I liberated these gorgeous stones from their fashion crime prisons and let them stand on their own, with some random cute and femme-y floral beads I picked up at JoAnn's ages ago.

Blue physics light speed sciart necklace
Light speed necklace by Kokoba Jewelry
I like the contrast of the dainty, vintage-looking beads with the cutting-edge concept of the speed of light (speed of light, here, given in meters / second.). At first glance, it looks like something retro and almost grandmotherly (in the best possible way). You would never suspect it was hiding a nerdy secret. STEMinism at its finest!

I still have some blue lace agate left over. I'm not sure what I'll use them for next. Maybe another chemistry piece? We'll see!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday 5: 2016 HIghlights

What was your highlight in dining for 2016?

I went to New York City and got good old-fashioned bibimbap to round out my K-spa visit.

What was your highlight in relationships for 2016?

Visiting friends in New York City and Albany in October!

What was your highlight in entertainment for 2016?

Watching whiny Internet pissbabies lose their shit over lady Ghostbusters. Also, actual lady Ghostbusters.

What was your highlight in self-improvement for 2016?

I think my word of the year project helped me get a lot done, but this deserves its own post.

What was your highlight in completing something for 2016?

Well, I finished three courses: one in Russian, one in Swedish, and one in copyediting.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

#TBT Computer Science Fiber Optic Necklace

This #tbt is a much deeper cut than the last couple. This is another item from the Kokoba alpha release, as it were.

FIber Optic Necklace by Kokoba
You see these kinds of beads marketed as cat's eye, or sometimes cat's eye glass; they are created from the same kind of optical fibers that are used today in digital communications. The particular stock of beads these come from dates back (I'm pretty sure) to the 80s, if not earlier—so they obviously predate broadband by some years. The principle is still the same, though!

I guess these aren't as popular as they once were, but I don't really care. How cyberpunk is it to wear the backbone of today's Internet around your neck? Pretty damn cyberpunk, IMO. Or cybertwee, if that's more your thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What I Read: This One Summer

I guess I should get around to making a "comics" (excuse me—graphic novels) tag for el bloggo, because I could have sworn I've talked about This One Summer on here before. I liked the sample pages I saw, and I wanted to see what the creators did with the chubby Windy.

Image courtesy First Second
I finally got the chance to find out when I noticed a copy in the YA section of a nearby branch of the Stockholm public library system. (Where I also picked up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, but more on those later!) Not having anything better to do, I curled up in a chair and read the whole thing in one sitting.

It took me a little while to get into it, and even by the end I couldn't really tell you what I read. "A couple of girls spend their summer in a lake town," I suppose. Nothing really happens, and whether or not you're okay with that depends on your tastes and even your mood.

Of course, all the hyperbole surrounding the book doesn't help, either.

So I suppose I had certain expectations, and they weren't really met. But the art is gorgeous. My favorite part—the freeze frames of all the slash-y horror movies Rose and Windy watch are drawn almost hyperrealistically, while all of the "real" world is fairly cartoony. I like little touches like that.

And when it's December in Stockholm and you're a stressed-out adult, it's nice escapism to read about warm summer vacations on the lake. My family habitually stayed for a week in a hunting cabin up in the mountains near Rutland, Vermont, so all of the "lake vacation" elements hit a certain nostalgic element for me, though we kept away from the other residents and vacationers, so I never had a friend like Windy. (Or Rose? Rose is the main character, but I guess I'm more like a Windy.)

This reminds me a lot of Linda! Linda! Linda!, in that it feels like a nostalgic and distant retrospective rather than an in-the-moment story. If that even makes sense? Though This One Summer has significantly less Japanese punk rock and slightly less urgency (no impending talent show).

All in all, it's really well done but not what I was expecting. In particular, I wanted more from Windy's perspective (fat girls wanna see other fat girls in lit!). But I still think it's worth it just to enjoy Jillian Tamaki's art. It's juicy.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Newly Listed: Blue Sky Avogadro Chemistry Necklace

I'm a slow one on trends. It's 2016 and I'm only just now trying to put out jewelry inspired by Breaking Bad.

Me IRL. Is this how you meme???
Better late than never, I guess. I've already talked about my blue daisy Avogadro bracelet. Here's a necklace, salvaged from a couple Kokoba alpha releases, with a slightly different look:

Breaking Bad fans Blue Sky chemistry sciart necklace science jewelry STEMinism
Blue Sky Chemistry Necklace by Kokoba
The stone is dyed howlite. Howlite is relatively porous and is often dyed funky colors that are hard or impossible to find in nature (lime green, hot pink, canary yellow, etc.).

 Its gray marbling also makes it a popular choice for imitation turquoise, so people often use it for a bargain turquoise look.

Mostly I'm glad to cannibalize ugly old jewelry that I'm no longer proud of into something much nicer and much more likely to make someone happy. I have some dyed agate and fiber optic beads left over—I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with those yet.

Friday, December 9, 2016

2016: The Women's Classic Literature Event: Final Check-In

Well, 2016 is nearly over, and hot damn, what a ride. Not a good one, really. Mostly kind of awful. But let's take a moment to look at one of my favorite things: books!

2016 was the year of The Classics Club's Women's Classic Literature Event. As far as online book blog events go, it was pretty low-key, the point where I kind of forgot about it for weeks at a time. But I hit 3 out of 4 check-ins, so....not too shabby!

Before I tackle the event's last question, however, let's take a look at my reading for the year! Was I successful in achieving gender parity in my book choices?

When it concerns my Classics Club list specifically, I knocked out seven books. They were:

1. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
2. Giovanni's Room, James Baldwin (replacing Go Tell It on the Mountain)
3. Possession, A. S. Byatt
4. The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
5. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
6. The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen (replacing Death of the Heart)
7. The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

I would also count a few of my other reads in this category:

8. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende (Swedish translation)
9. America Day by Day, Simone de Beauvoir
10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
11. The Vegetarian, Han Kang
12. Välkommen till Amerika, Linda Boström Knausgård

Even if they weren't on my original list, I think they deserve a spot in the "classics" literary canon. I might go and retroactively edit my Classics Club list and boot a mediocre dead white guy in favor of any of these, but that's a post for another day.

So that's 8 women authors out of 12. Additionally, out of the four male authors, two were POC, and one of them was queer. A pretty good year for #weneeddiversebooks. (#weneeddiverseclassics?)

Now, for all of my books of 2016, assuming that I'll finish the book I'm currently reading by the end of the year:

I read 45 books altogether, and 24 of them were by women. Two of those books were essay collections featuring a variety of authors; one collection featured immigrant women, but the other was a collection of essays by translators and it was a mix of genders. I counted the immigrant essays book, but not the translator essays book. 

So 24 out of 45: little over half.

And to be honest, this was not the year of me actively searching out women authors. This was the year of me reading whatever I could get my hands on, mostly. But I will say this: when it comes to the TIME Top 100 novels, the reason I read so many women this year (not counting Mrs. Dalloway, which was a re-read) was because those were the books left on my list—in other words, they were the books I'd previously had trouble tracking down. Make of that what you will.

If you break it down by race or sexual orientation or gender identity, things get a little more stilted:

9 known POC authors (there might be a couple I missed, only because I don't know anything about their biography)

3 known LGBTQ+ authors (again, there might be a couple I missed because I don't know anything about their biographies)

All in all, a successful year. Considering how effortless it was for me to read a balance of men and women writers (in a variety of genres, even!), I think I'll focus on something else in 2017.  Race? Sexuality? Books in translation? So many possibilities!

 If you could meet any of the authors you read for this event, which one would you meet, & why? What would you ask her?

Holy shit do I want to party with Simone de Beauvoir. So smart. So observant. I wish I had a little miniature de Beauvoir sitting on my shoulder to provide snide, existential commentary for my everyday life. 

What has been your favorite title for this challenge?

If we're considering the challenge in the strictest possible sense—the women authors from my own Classics Club list—then it would probably be Mrs. Dalloway. Possession was the greatest technical achievement and I tip my hat to Byatt for all of the work she put in, but since so much of it was about Victorian poets (and since Victorian poets aren't really my thing), I didn't enjoy it as much as it deserved to be enjoyed. The House in Paris and Housekeeping were both interesting from a distance, but not something that really struck me.

If we take the challenge a little more broadly (that is, take it to mean any classic, regardless of whether or not it was on my list), then I would have to say, without hesitation, that America Day by Day was my favorite read of the challenge, and maybe of the year. Miss de Beauvoir if you're nasty...!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

#TBT: Black and Yellow Golden Ratio Bracelet

A few years ago, I decided I should branch out into other irrational numbers besides pi. I mostly focused on the square root of 2 and the Golden Ratio, though you can find some relatively obscure ones in my back catalog if you dig deep enough (Feigenbaum, anyone?). This is one of those branches: the Golden Ratio.

Golden ration STEM sciart mathart math bracelet
Golden Ratio bracelet from Kokoba
This one is only from 2013, probably, so it's not super old. (Old enough for a #tbt post, though!) To be honest, I don't know if it's worth it to focus on any irrational number except pi? I did get a custom request for the square root of 12 a couple years ago, but pi is usually the rock star of the math world.

What do you think, mathematicians? Is pi the only irrational worth knowing, or should I strive to go full hipster and highlight some of the more obscure irrationals?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What I Read: Housekeeping

By far the best part of my Swedish class at Stockholm University is having access to the university library. I only have a couple of weeks left in the course, but I don't know if that means my student account will disappear. I hope not? The university library has quite a few books that are unavailable or that I've had a hard time tracking down in the Stockholm public library. One of those was Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping.

When I finished it, I wasn't sure what I had just read; a couple of weeks later and I'm still not sure.

It's a book that I think deserves quiet and focus. It's very character-driven, and while there's nothing in any of the prose that struck a chord with me, I liked that we spent a lot of time getting to know characters. I had a tough run of luck in the TIME Top 100 list when it came to well-developed characters. It's also a book about outsiders, and specifically about women outsiders.

The plot in a nutshell, if I may quote from GoodReads:

Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt.
I didn't fall in love with the book, but I didn't hate it either. Mostly I'm left wondering if this is Robinson's best work; when it comes to authors with a substantial body of work, sometimes the list picks a very stereotypically representative piece, and other times one that is completely out there and wackadoo. Housekeeping might be a wackadoo pick.

At the end of the day, it wasn't the best I've read on the list, but definitely not the worst. I don't know. I can't give it a glowing recommendation but it's a short and fairly quick read, so why not?

At the end of the day, it's another for the Classics Club Women's Event, which I have only been low-key participating in. I should probably do a wrap-up post on that soon—the year is almost over!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Newly Listed: Daisy Blue Sky Chemistry Bracelet

I've been toying with the idea of blue chemistry jewelry as a nod to Breaking Bad. I have a bracelet inspired by methamphetamine's chemical composition languishing in my prototype drawer, but to be honest I'm not entirely sold on the idea. Representing a three-dimensional thing in a manner that's essentially faux one-dimensional has a lot of constraints and at the end of the day you're stuck with something fairly abstract.

Daisy Blue Sky Chemistry Breaking Bad Bracelet STEM Sciart Chemist Jewelry
Daisy Blue Sky Chemistry Avogadro Bracelet by Kokoba
This bracelet is not that project, though. It's simply Avogadro's number in blue beads. The spacers feature daisies (if it's hard to tell from the image).

Daisy Blue Sky Chemistry Breaking Bad Bracelet STEM Sciart Chemist Jewelry

It's a fun, lightweight little thing you can mix and match with other bracelets. Or if you want to remind yourself to remember What would Walter White do?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday 5: Celluloid Heroes

Image courtesy 99c3a750dbf5f33 on

What movie most recently impressed you with its score or soundtrack?

Hm. I did like all of the Spanish language covers in (don't judge me) True Memoirs of an International Assassin. Otherwise I think the most striking original soundtrack in recent memory would be Interstellar.

What movie most recently impressed you with its costumes or makeup?

I love the costumes in Miss Fisher's Mysteries, but that's not a movie. Prior to that, I'd have to say Argo. They did a remarkable job finding actors who resembled the people they were supposed to play. (Except, of course, Ben Affleck's real-life counterpart was...definitely not Ben Affleck-esque.)

What movie most recently impressed you with its scenic backdrops?

Probably a Bollywood movie. Hard not to have impressive backdrops when you're filming in India.

What movie most recently impressed you with its originality?

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Vampires! Feminism! Iran!

What movie most recently impressed you with its dialogue?

Hard to say. It's been a while since I watched anything with memorable dialogue, to be honest.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#TBT Lapis and Glass Pi Bracelet

Today's #tbt feature is one of my old workhorses: a pi memory wire cuff.

Sciart mathart bracelet featuring the digits of pi in glass and lapis lazuli. Perfect gift for math teachers and students.
Lapis and glass pi bracelet from Kokoba
It's not super old—I made it in 2013, if memory serves—but this wearable sciart been sitting with Lawyer Mom for the better part of 3 years, so this is the first it's been available for purchase!

Sciart mathart bracelet featuring the digits of pi in glass and lapis lazuli. Perfect gift for math teachers and students.
Disembodied hand action shot!

It features the digits of pi in Czech glass seed beads and some eye-catching lapis lazuli dogbone beads as spacers between each digit. I don't have any of that lapis left, so this is a really one-of-a-kind mathart bracelet!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Newly Listed: Copper DNA Chainmaille Bracelet

I can't stop playing with this inverted spiral weave. The shape is just such a great way to represent DNA's double helix structure. It's addictive and gorgeous!

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry
Copper and aluminum DNA chainmaille bracelet by Kokoba
After I put out a few two-tone DNA necklaces and bracelets, I felt comfortable enough with the weave to try a monochrome version. (The nature of things is that this weave can be a little confusing at first, so using two different colors makes i easier to keep track of things.) I had some extra copper rings on hand, so I decided to see what I could make out of them.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I didn't have enough for a full bracelet, but I had plenty of other rings to finish it off. I actually really like the "focal point" look of the spiral weave and then just a plain, utilitarian one for the rest of the bracelet.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I think I also like how the spiral weave looks in rings in a slightly heavier gauge. (Or, to be more precise, with a slightly smaller aspect ratio.) The weave is a little tighter and feels a little more solid. I think the lines of the spiral also show up a bit cleaner as well.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I think I have well and fully mastered this weave. Next on my list is Persian 3-in-1 (I have really exciting ideas about what to do with sheets of it) but it is tricky as hell to pick up and the urge to mindlessly crank out something I know can do is strong. I guess it's also good stress relief; there is something meditative about chainmaille that beading lacks. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday 5: You Too

Image courtesy quicksandala

What are you too short to do?

LITERALLY EVERYTHING?! I'm 5'1"; let me sing you the song of my people:

  • "Do you carry this in petite sizes?"
  • "Could I get these hemmed?"
  • "Can you reach that for me?"
  • "Hey, wait up!"
  • *silent fuming at tall people who use the side-mounted handholds on the subway instead of the ceiling-mounted ones, leaving me NOTHING within reach*

What are you too smart to do?

Get into Facebook arguments? Most of the time...

What are you too fearful to do?

Oh, so many things. Start conversations with people, make phone calls, put down cash for advertising either of my small businesses.

What are you too lazy to do?

At the moment? My homework.

What are you too young to do?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I Read: The House in Paris

When you have a list of books you want to tackle, sometimes you have to make do. One of the books on the TIME Top 100 Novels list is Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart. I could never find it in any library I visited, so I consoled myself with her The House in Paris.

Image courtesy Knopf

I don't know, man...this list has a flair for the melodramatic, doesn't it? All I could think of while I was reading The House in Paris was a GoodReads comment about The French Lieutenant's Woman: "Heterosexual nonsense."

I would group The House in Paris, The French Lieutenant's Woman, and Possession together in one "type" of novel: they all deal with melodramatic failed romances and broken engagements (The House in Paris and Possession even share an illegitimate child in common!). I think I like Possession the best out of all of them, if only because it's such a technical feat. The French Lieutenant's Woman is my least favorite; reflecting on it now I have to say that there isn't really anything interesting about it at all. The House in Paris is square in the middle: it isn't any kind of technical achievement, but it's more interesting than The French Lieutenant's Woman by virtue of having more interesting characters.

Maybe I just didn't have the patience for Bowen's writing style. There are long, complex sentences with multiple dependent clauses; the dialogue doesn't sound the way anyone talks, at least not anymore; there is so much unsaid and implied and hinted at in terms of character and social psychology that I felt like everyone was basically the same and also incredibly boring. (And always, in the sections taking place in the present, having to keep "Mme Fisher" and "Miss Fisher" straight in my mind!) As it was a library book, I had the deadline of returning it hanging over my head; I couldn't exactly read it at my leisure. But maybe that would have made it even more unenjoyable, because then I would have had no incentive to finish it, so every time I picked it up I would have to struggle to remember who was who.

The only parts I did enjoy were some of the scenes with Henrietta. Bowen captures the thinking of children quite well; I would have rather spent the book with Henrietta (and, I suppose, Leopold) than in the past. Ah well.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Newly Listed: Bright Pink Physics Gravity Bracelet

I tried to dabble in polymer clay, but ultimately I decided that I wasn't cut out for the task. JV, on the other hand, is a pro at making tiny, delicate things. One of his tricks is folding origami cranes no taller than cigarettes—no joke! (I'll have to ask him to fold a new one sometime, so I can show you.) Other media for tiny, delicate things besides paper? Clay!

At the beginning of the year he experimented with making beads, and gifted a bunch to me. I loved their bright colors but wasn't sure what to use with them until a couple of weeks ago.

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange by Kokoba
I think my color tastes are all out of step with the seasons. Cold, dark weather makes me crave bright spring colors; hot summer weather has me thinking about cool autumnal hues.

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange

G is always a tricky one to memorialize in jewelry because it's had to measure. Every few years, as technology improves and measurement because more accurate (and sometimes also more precise!), CODATA comes out with new values for some of the physical constants, G included. They've made two updates since I started making and selling jewelry as Kokoba. When this happens, I tend to redo a piece if possible. This isn't always possible, however. In those cases, I indicate which year's value I used. 

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange

I look forward to more pieces featuring handmade polymer clay beads! Maybe I'll commission him to make some pi beads next time? What do you think?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday 5: Fair Use

What was the last thing you put in the freezer not to freeze, but just to chill?

I don't usually do this, actually. Maybe a bottle of soda, but that was years ago. Pinterest says it goes faster if you wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel, but I can't confirm or deny that.

What’s a non-food item you’re storing in a zippered, plastic bag?

Some jewelry supplies, and also some copper jewelry. (Air-tight = less tarnish)

What’s the most unusual item you’ve used as a bookmark?

For all of the reading I do, I rarely use bookmarks. I dogear, or I remember page numbers. I'm actually pretty good at that, and even at remember different page numbers for different books over a fairly long period of time. If it's a library book, I use the receipt for a bookmark.

What’s something unusual for which you’ve used a kitchen utensil?

Hard to say. . . all of our kitchen implements see fairly standard use.

How many different kinds of balls do you have in your house?

There's a bocce set somewhere, so that makes two (the bocce balls and the pill). There might be an old soccer ball floating around somewhere but otherwise, I think that's it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#TBT: Pi Necklace Inspired by the Thoth Tarot

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the esoteric and the occult. It doesn't really jibe well with my whole STEM niche here, so I don't talk about it too often. Besides, there's not usually much to say except "Wow, it's fascinating how humans will build complex systems out of almost anything!"

One of the more infamous Tarot decks is the Thoth Tarot devised by everyone's favorite British occultist, Aleister Crowley, and illustrated by the much less notorious Lady Freida Harris. (There is one thing the occult has in common with the sciences: men enjoy the lion's share of the credit and the fame.) While the deck is considered a classic among Tarot enthusiasts today, neither Crowley nor Harris lived to see the actual deck put into commission. Harris finished the art, but nothing came out in a deck form until the 1960s. Its notable for its symbolic use of color and sacred geometry, which is a fancy way to say that it's one of the more abstract decks around. Still, the imagery is arresting.

Image courtesy US Games, Inc.
Once in a while the colors and the geometry get me to thinking about jewelry, and I end up incorporating some of those elements into this or that piece. That's how this pi necklace was born sometime in 2013.

A sciart mathart pi necklace in moss agate, carnelian, and Swarovski, inspired by The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot deck.
Pi necklace by Kokoba
In addition to trying to recreate Harris's color palette in beads, I also deliberately chose the yellow Swarovski crystals to echo the crisp lines and angles of the yellow light emanating from the lantern.

I read an article years ago—I want to say that it was in Jewelry Artist but I'm not 100% on it—about one artist's ongoing project of creating a ring for every Major Arcana card. My Google-fu is failing me, but it looked like an interesting project and I would love to see how the whole thing turned out!

A sciart mathart pi necklace in moss agate, carnelian, and Swarovski, inspired by The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot deck.
Pi necklace by Kokoba

Sometimes I think about opening up another store for jewelry inspired by Tarot rather than STEM. Maybe one day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Talky Tuesday: Where We Go From Here

It's never too late to become an engaged citizen! Especially if right now you're an enraged one. Here are the easy things to do that don't involve uncomfortable conversations with people you care about:

1. I will repeat what others have been saying for a while now: call your representatives. I mean, if you want to make any point to them ever, you need to call them, but if you give a shit about anything touched by the Trump presidency then you need to conquer your phone anxiety and call them right the fuck now. Tweets and Facebook comments are useless; letters aren't quite as useless but aren't as good as phone calls. Here's an example of what to say to them (concerning Stephen Bannon):
If your congresscritter is a Democrat or Independent: “Hi, I’m [Name], one of [Name’s] constituents. I am calling because I strongly believe that the [Senator/Representative] should follow the lead of their colleagues, such as Ed Markey and Nancy Pelosi, in condemning President-Elect Trump’s appointment of a white supremacist misogynist, Stephen Bannon, as his chief of strategy and chief counsel.” 
If your congresscritter is a Republican: “Hello. Hi, I’m [Name], one of [Name’s] constituents. I’m calling to ask if you can confirm your candidate’s position on white supremacy and white nationalism for me.” 
After they answer, then you say, “In that case, I would call on the [Congress(man/woman)/Senator] to condemn President-Elect Trump’s appointment of a white supremacist misogynist, Stephen Bannon, as his chief of strategy and chief counsel in no uncertain terms.”
They may ask your address. Give them the address from which you vote. It’s how they confirm you are for reals.
You can fill in any cause you think is important, of course.

2. Also, call all your representatives. If there's one thing I learned from The Great Suppression, it's that local elections and regulations can be significant bulwarks against bullshit. They can also be great promoters of it. Who represents you at the state level? Get their contact information and give them the same spiel. Remember to vote in those piddly little dog catcher races as well.

3. You can pony up some cash and/or time for good causes: the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU might be a good place to start. Volunteering is good if you have the time and ability to do so.

4. You can also pony up cash for good reporting. ProPublica is a place to start. Also look for who's doing investigative reporting on a more local level. (For me, it's Walter Brasch.)

5. Don't forget to also follow the good reporting once you pony up. Snopes is another good place you can add to your RSS feed so that you see bullshit stories debunked before your racist aunt shares them on Facebook.

6. Read this article on how to engage with everyday bigotry. Knowing what you can say, or how you can articulate your feelings when you are too flabbergasted to think properly, can be the difference between speaking up and staying silent.

(We should all make the good faith effort to have the uncomfortable conversation with someone we care about, especially the straight and white among us. But sometimes we can't and that's okay.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Newly Listed: Yellow Glass Speed of Light Bracelet

I wasn't sure if I should blog this one under new, or #tbt, since I cannibalized an older bracelet for the beads in this one. At the end of the day, since I had never listed the original, I decided it should count as a new item.

Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

This one features the speed of light (in meters/second), which flowery pillow beads as spacers in between each digit. It's cheerful, and we're all going to need as much cheer as we can find for the next four years.


Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

Can we also talk about how Google Photos is a mess? I just got sucked into fiddling with it for at least two hours. I also wiped my Google+ account out of rage. And nothing of value was lost.

Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Newly Listed: #TBT Fiber Optic Necklace in Purple

It's going to be a rough four years, so this week's #tbt seems appropriate. This is a deep cut, back from when I had just started making jewelry. One of my alpha releases, if you will. That dates it to around 2008, when our President elect was a fresh-faced newcomer named Barack Obama.

Purple fiber optic necklace from Kokoba

The seed beads are the usual Czech glass. The larger beads are actually optical fibers fused together and cut into beads. Those are the same kinds of fibers that power the telecom world today. Pretty cool example of wearable (if non-functioning) tech, right?

There's no number included in this one. It's all about the materials.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Talky Tuesday: Election

Please, please, please get out and vote today.

Ladies (and most of my readers are probably ladies), our right to vote was hard-won. It was even harder won if you're a WOC.

Anti-suffragette postcard, John Hassall

If you want to feel miserable, feel free to Google anti-suffragette postcards. Some of them are laughable (if we give women votes they'll make us MEN do all of the household drudgery!) but the lengths other images to go to demonize women and celebrate violence, abuse, and physical restraint against them is terrifying. Those sentiments have hardly disappeared, whether it's in the way that we discuss female candidates or in actual legislation (voter ID laws ~~just so happen~~ to fuck women over because, due to social conventions about marriage, we're way more likely to change our names and thus have discrepancies among identification documents). Voting matters—why else would there be voter suppression?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday 5: Peaches and Herb

First of all, obligatory:

What’s your favorite way to consume peaches?

Image courtesy DodgertonSkillhause from
As a fruit they're delicious but messy. Nothing makes you feel like an overgrown child like a really juicy, sloppy, messy peach. I don't like the canned ones you can get in the supermarket, but I liked the ones that Teacher Dad canned one year. Otherwise I like to have it in fruity girl teas. Also, obligatory:

To what dish does basil make its best contribution?

I don't have strong feelings about basil.

What’s something you’re feeling peachy-keen about?

My revisions for NaNoWriMo 2016 are going pretty well. I'm already something like 75% done with them. It remains to be seen if I want to start another round of revisions when this one is done, or move on to the first draft of another project (just for funsies).

What’s a cooking herb you dislike?

I don't have strong feelings about any herb, actually. Cilantro doesn't taste like soap for me, so it's all good in the hood.

What’s something in your residence that’s peach-colored or nearly peach-colored?

My new debit card!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Newly Relisted Pi Bling for Throwback Thursday

There is a weird gender divide around jewelry, particularly when it comes to beaded things. Somehow jewelry by default has been codefied as femme-by-default, with unisex or men's jewelry needing its own special categorization and design aesthetic. And while I think that men should get to wear whatever they want, right alongside women, I still recognize that we have arbitrary gender standards for the most trivial things—so once in a while I try to branch out from beads into other media, to target men as well as whatever spectrum of butch-presenting genderqueer punk rock riot grrls nerdcore people who are out there who want something a little more androgynous.

The struggle is real.

One of those solutions I've found has been through chain. I hoarded up on some bulk chain ages ago to play around with, which led me to develop what I call The Second Variant of my jewelry. I don't have as much of this as my typical First Variant stuff, mostly because I went a little overboard with using bulk chain in other designs and now need to restock. For now, I just have a bracelet and a necklace set. (Bracelet coming soon in another #TBT post.)

Unisex math sciart mathart nerd jewelry necklace
Unisex Pi Bling by Kokoba

It's not necessarily my style, but I still like the look. The different kinds of chains, the different amounts of strands, and the jump rings between sections add interest and variation to what would otherwise be something uniform and repetitive.

As you can see in the picture, I actually used three different styles of chain:

Light curb chain

Flat anchor chain

Heavy curb chain

The curb chains are both aluminum, so despite the sometimes bulky appearance of the necklace, it is surprisingly lightweight. The only portions that have any significant weight to them are the base metal sections: the jump rings, the clasp, and the flat anchor chains.

Sometimes I toy around with the idea of using chainmaille in this sort of design, but I think it has the potential to get very bulky very fest (unless I use relatively small rings). I don't know. I might still try it, just for funsies. After I rework all of this back catalog!