Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday 5: It's Electric

Y'all ready for 2018?

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done with electricity?

I generally treat electricity pretty respectfully, so my more clueless moment isn't dangerous so much as impractical. The first time I went to Korea, though, I thought it would be a good idea to bring my Hot Shot with me? Despite the obvious differences in electric outlet standards? I don't know why I thought it would be so hard to find a hot water kettle but there you have it.

How did you last pass the time when your residence was without power for at least a few hours?

There was a huge power outage in Stockholm in the fall, and we were in one of the last neighborhoods to get fixed. I didn't need to do much to occupy myself since I happened to work for most of it, but it did mess with my lessons that day because I needed to print a few worksheets out.

Around how many AA and AAA batteries do you have on standby?

I don't need AA batteries much these days, but we always have one of those bulk AAA battery packs from Kjell and Company around for my optical mouse.

How do you feel about lightning?

I'm a fan, though I resented it growing up because it meant I couldn't use the computer.

When did you last dance the Electric Slide, and if you’ve never done it, what’s the closest you’ve come to dancing the Electric Slide?

It came up at the reception for the wedding I was at in August. I've always thought of The Electric Slide as a collective memory; something I couldn't reproduce on my own but would suddenly remember in a large enough crowd of people. False! (Before that it had easily been fifteen years since I'd last danced it.) And none of the wedding guests seemed to remember it, either. It was up to my buddy and ride to the wedding (pictured above dipping his feet into the Atlantic), who spends a lot of time contra dancing, to coach us all in it. He drove eight hours in one day (four hours there, four back) to attend the wedding, so I hope that moment made it worth it for him. That, and all of the Moxie he stocked up on.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What I Read: Roar

This was the year I joined all of the book clubs. My Facebook book club is still going strong (to be fair, I joined that one in 2016); this year, I've been tagging along with the reads for my friend's Austin-based feminist sci-fi book club and I just recently joined a vaguely YA-ish book club on Discord. Roar was the first book I read for that one (though far from the actual club's first book).

Image courtesy Tor Teen

Considering that this is a book put out by Tor Teen, explicitly and specifically marketed as a YA fantasy novel, and that I'm a woman in my thirties, I know full well that I'm not part of the target demographic for this book. It's not entirely surprising, then, that this didn't really appeal to my fantasy snob sensibilities.

All I want for Christmas is a YA fantasy with incredible world-building and attention to detail that doesn't try to shoehorn a try-hard romance in the middle of everything. As I said in the Discord chat:
moment of silence for every YA fantasy book that's had an awesome world-building idea and then failed to develop it in favor of something else crappier. RIP.
The something else crappier, in this case, was an aggravating romance shoehorned in the middle of everything else and artificially escalated for the sake of...I don't know what.

I'm trying to remember what it was like to be a teenager, horny and hormonal but also thirsty for True Love TM and romance, and the honest truth is that I don't remember that? I remember the raging hormones, for sure, and I remember the agony and heartbreak over initiating, navigating, and ending juvenile relationships, but I don't remember wanting to actually read about romance all that much.

In the end, it's a fine book for people who are into that sort of thing. Cormack is at least a competent writer and avoids a lot of the cringe-y twee interjections and scenes that made me want to throw Long Way to a Small Angry Planet across the room (maybe at the cost of being a bit of a bland-ass, super-white heteronormative, not-particularly-diverse world). The heroine, of course, is flat and uninteresting besides being hypercompetent—well-read (all these fantasy heroines such book nerds! things that make you go hmmmmmm), gorgeous, a fit and capable fighter, and (spoiler) gifted with the most magical and special of all the magics!—all the better for the target audience to project onto, my dear!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday 5: Lady Bird

What was moving out of your parents’ home like?

It's been a gradual process of going through things for garbage and donation piles, putting them in boxes, pulling them out and going through them again, putting them back in boxes, and shipping them piecemeal across the Atlantic.

What makes popular kids in high school popular, and how were you like or unlike them?

I never understood this. I conceived of our high school's popularity model as circular rather than a straight up-and-down pecking order. Though while there was no real apex predator, so to speak, there were definitely lowest-tier untouchables (if I can mix my metaphors a little). Everyone else was mostly in the middle and it seemed that some groups had more visibility than others, but each group had their own likes and dislikes.

Being smart and a dedicated student definitely did not make you unpopular in my school. My schedule was filled with gifted classes (and then later Advanced Placement classes), and my classmates in there were generally well-liked -- the same core group that regularly won student body elections, homecoming court, prom king and queen, and those other more or less objective measures of popularity.  Being at that bottom rung, at least by high school, seemed to be about weirdness coupled with academic struggles.

Nonetheless, none of the "popular" kids ever traveled in my circles (except when our interests overlapped in extracurriculars) and they never really opened up and let me travel in theirs. I admit to being fat and weird; maybe that was enough to keep me locked out.

When you were in high school, where in the neighborhood did schoolmates hang out?

Presuming a "neighborhood" out in rural areas is a bit much, considering that a drive from one side of the district to the other could easily take forty-five minutes or even an hour, depending on the weather and how well the roads in question were being maintained at that point in time. If we hung out anywhere, it was at each other's houses.

What was learning to drive like?

Neither the most nor the least stressful thing I've ever done.

What were your most difficult and least difficult subjects in high school?

I did well in all of the assorted language and "language arts" classes: English, French, and German. I also enjoyed social studies and most of the sciences, though the teachers were hit and miss. I struggled  the most with math, despite being in what would have been called the "honors" classes in another school system, and I absolutely resented physics. That said, I think my struggles reflected my attitude towards my teachers more than my own ability.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What I Read: Gösta Berling's Saga

A recurring goal across all of my 101 in 1001 lists is to read X number of books that I've owned for more than a year. Like most bookworms, I have a tendency to accrue books faster than I can read them and to buy a book that seems interesting at the time and then put off reading it forever.

I picked up Gösta Berling's Saga in 2008 at the very earliest and probably 2010 at the latest, so this one definitely counts. Good ol' Dover Thrift Editions!

Protip for non-Swedes: you pronounce Gösta something like "Yus-duh."

The only downside is that this edition is a translation from 1894 (with a few chapters being a little later, 1918); there have since been two subsequent translations, one in the 1960s and another in 2009. I don't know if it's entirely the age of the translations that sometimes make this a hard slog so much as the age of the work. (JV had to read it for Swedish class and had a rough time with the old-timey Swedish, so.) Outside the language, there are other challenges: there's a huge cast of characters and the structure is more episodic than purely narrative so chapters can feel clunky and disconnected compared to how novels are written today. (I feel like The Wonderful Adventures of Nils holds together a little better, even if it has a similar episodic structure.) 

Still, once you get into it, it's still worth reading over 100 years later. Unsurprisingly for a very feminist and pro-woman, pro-women's rights author, there are a lot of women in this large cast of characters, well developed beyond witches, damsels, and bimbos. They do some awful things, and they also do some heroic things. Of course, most of these women have a tendency to fall in love with Gösta, but then again, he's the hero.

The nutshell is that Gösta Berling, a disgraced whiskey priest, is given shelter at the prosperous Samzelius farmstead. The properties are owned by Major Samzelius but they're run and administered by his wife, Margarita, who enjoys an immense amount of respect and power in the village because she's just so damn good at running things. But an altercation at a Christmas dinner sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Margarita Samzelius being outcast from her home, and the maintenance of her property being turned over for a year to the "cavaliers"—twelve vagabonds she let stay at her property, free of charge, of whom Gösta is the unofficial leader. For the next year, Gösta and the cavaliers drink and carouse and go on adventures and generally run things into the ground. A fitting Christmas read, since it begins and ends on Christmas!

Lagerlöf would later go on to be the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, awarded to her in 1909 "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings." And you can see a lot of that in Gösta Berling's Saga, which is in large part taken from the folk and fairy tales Lagerlöf heard growing up in Värmland.

The silent movie version (from which the image for that above book cover is taken) is also notable for kickstarting the film career of no less an international star than Greta Garbo.

"I want to be alone." No, not quite yet.

My personal favorite is the ostensible antagonist, Fru Samzelius. While she spends much of the book outcast from her farm and home, pitted against the cavaliers, she begins and ends the story with competence and dignity, and always does things on her own terms.

Another one of my favorite Swedish books, Dr Glas, from around the same time period, has seen a modern re-imagining from the perspective of the antagonist, Reverend Gregorious. I want someone to do the same for Margarita Samzelius. She deserves her own book even more than Reverend Gregorious does. (Behold, the closest I'll ever get to fanfiction!)

Gerda Lundqvist, another stage and screen legend, as Fru Samzelius.
The first line is one of the most recognizable in Swedish literature: "Äntligen stod prästen i predikstolen." It's like the Swedish equivalent of "Call me Ishmael." It still turns up here and there in places, like in this song by MOVITS!

Something like this just seems ripe for the miniseries pickings, to be honest. The episodic chapters would work just fine as standalone episodes, so the scripts would basically write themselves. Come on, Netflix! Otherwise, if you want to dip your toes into classic Swedish literature, I would suggest one of the newer translations, just for accessibility's sake.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Talky Tuesday: What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Days 7 and 8: Bethlehem, PA

Day 7

I took the bus from Best Chemist Friend's back home and spent most of the day packing up books and running errands for Swedish friends (by way of being a taco sauce mule).

This day was a Wednesday, a day I usually spent at bar trivia with friends. But since it was probably canceled because of Musikfest, and because ex romantic entanglements made it potentially weird anyway, I stayed at home and went swimming with Best Chemist Friend instead, discussing outliving our heroes and becoming grimey hippies. Afterwards my mom took us out to dinner, since this was the first she had seen Best Chemist Friend (essentially an adopted daughter for her) in years.

There are so many new places to eat that didn't exist when I was growing up here, or even four years ago. The restaurant Mom took us to was one had existed when I grew up, but was for sale when I left. Now it's a restaurant again, with new owners and a new name but much of the same atmosphere (from what I can vaguely remember). I finally had my first Yuengling of the trip, and now I was really home.

 I pledge allegiance to the beer of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and to the republic for which it stands, because of its remarkable taste-to-price ratio, with lagers and black and tans for all. // Andrew Mager on Flickr

Day 8

My goal for the next day was to drop off a few boxes of books at the library, and then hit up  Musikfest with a friend and former co-worker. My go-to library for book cast-offs, the Quakertown branch of the Bucks County library system, wasn't taking donations at the time, so I had to go on a little adventure to find a home for my books.

I thought, for a moment, of sending them to the huge thrift store in Hellertown, but I like to give books to "book places" before "generic stuff-unloading places." I decided to try the Riegelsville library next, since it was closest to home and near a new cafe that's supposed to be pretty good.

When my brother and I were still really small, my mom took us on a drive to try to find this same library. It's easy to see from the main road, but then actually getting there isn't exactly intuitive. (And, of course, she was doing this in the age before GPS and smartphones.) She drove around for a while before giving up, and from that point on she just patronized bookstores with us instead of the local library. I don't remember this at all, though; it's just a story she told me once when we were driving through Riegelsville for some reason or another.

I thought about that story while I drove around the back roads of Riegelsville, looking for the same library, wondering if I'm following the same random no-outlet residential streets Mom did when she was trying to do exactly what I was doing. I had been to this library twice before, for library sales, but years ago. My memory was dim, and this time there weren't any helpful signs up or large crowds of people and activities going on. I pulled into the only non-church, non-residential parking lot around and then realized this was actually the library—it shares space with the all-purpose Riegelsville Municipal Building.

And by sheer luck Thursday was of the three days of the week that the library was actually open. With some help from the library staff, who were setting up an event in the community room on the first floor, I maneuvered a cart out to the car and unloaded the first round of boxes.

I stopped a while to wander through the nearby cemetery and look at the familiar landscape, and also snap some pictures. There was a driver here delivering other books to the library; I absentmindedly watched him take a photo of some butterflies hovering near the flowers. It was just a damn nice day.

A pyramid of small cannonballs, three levels high, sits on a concrete slab in a well-cut lawn. On the left is a small American flag and on the right is a placard explaining that this is a Civil War memorial.
A Civil War memorial outside the Riegelsville Public Library

After I had my fill of sunshine and cemeteries, I stopped at the Someday Cafe.

The building that now houses the Someday Cafe and Roastery had been sketchy and abandoned for my entire life. It started life as a car dealership back in the 40s or 50s, then became a dance studio, but all of my memories of it were as a sky-blue vacant building that was perennially for sale. At some point, someone tried (and failed) to turn it into an antiques shop (despite there already being another antiques shop right across the street), so I remember lots of junk sitting in the windows.

It's really gratifying and cool to see the empty, abandoned space I remember from childhood turned into something like this. And I would have killed to have this kind of not-at-home space during high school. It's just three miles from my house; it's not completely inconceivable that I could have walked there if I really wanted to, except that the roads between here and my house have no shoulder and are not at all made for pedestrians. But still.

A strawberry smoothie and a crepe in recyclable take-out containers at the Someday Cafe and Roastery in Easton, PA.
Also, the crepe I had was really, really good.

Not everything is better, of course. The abandoned paper mill across the street, which I'd always wanted to sneak into, is long gone. :( So is my favorite used bookstore, which is now a bridal showcase, of all things.

After packing up a few more books, I meandered into Musikfest. This time I planned to spend the night (as opposed to accidentally doing so the last time I was here). I had my Musikfest mug in hand, complete with drink, and wandered around Main Street and the venues down by Monacacy Creek while I waited to meet up with Kelly and for SsingSsing to start. SsingSsing was the group I was easily the most excited to see at the festival. Glam rock + Korean folk music = WHAT THE HELL BUT ALSO YES.

This is the band warming up; it's not an action shot.

Kelly and I enjoyed the show a lot, but unfortunately there was no merch table at all, so we couldn't pick up an album or t-shirt or patch to sport our love. After show, we walked around for a little we disappear back to her place to use her bathroom and refill our mugs.

Back at the festival, Kelly grabbed some kind of cheese steak in a cup thing from a vendor and we sit and talk about Life, the Universe, and Everything. I love the work I do now, and I love the students I have now, but there is always a level of professionalism to maintain that isn't the same as being coworker-buddies with someone. The conversations I have with my students are rewarding and interesting in their own ways—I learn so much about other cultures and traditions and food—but it's hard to be someone's teacher and be someone's friend. Of course, I also have the privilege of dictating my own schedule and doing the vast bulk of my work in my pajamas, so you know, swings and roundabouts! Talking to her and then Best Chemist Friend is the perfect way to round out a day full of errands and music.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday 5: Thanks A Lot

What would you sarcastically like to thank your local government for?

I think Stockholms län does a pretty good job of running things, so I don't really have much to complain about.

What would you sarcastically like to thank your body for?

Menstruation. :C

What would you sarcastically like to thank your neighbors for?

The awesome parties they have, even though they don't invite us.

What would you sarcastically like to thank the internet for?

Where to start? YouTube comments, /b/, radicalizing propaganda, a rumor mill cranked up to 11...

What would you sarcastically like to thank November for?

Dark, moody weather.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Talky Tuesday: Port Authority Bus Terminal

Image courtesy Hudconja on Wikimedia
This is probably the first incidence of violence on US soil that has me actually #shook (or whatever). I remember where I was when I heard about the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, and I understood what the fallout would be (and dreaded it) (and 15-year-old me was pretty much spot-on in her vision of future America, sad to say). But I didn't feel connected to what happened at all, despite living fairly close to New York and despite having visited the World Trade Center for a school trip around five years before.

But when I was chatting with Best Chemist Friend (BCF) yesterday, in the middle of parsing out our constant background low-level dread, she texted, "ugh, great, and I just got a push notification on my phone that someone tried to blow up the port authority terminal."

"WHAT THE FUCK" was my response.

And now it's very real. I love bus trips. I think they're the perfect way to get around; taking the charter bus service into New York instead of driving myself is so much more enjoyable, and they're the only practical way to get one from my home to friends in upstate New York on a one-way trip. I've spent a lot of time in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It's real and (dare I say it?) homey in a way that the World Trade Center never could have been for me. I always felt safe and even a bit cozy there, waiting for my bus among the badly outdated color scheme (the lower levels are...something) and fellow exhausted-looking passengers. I have the same warm, fuzzy feelings about the PABT that I have about Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and the Reading Terminal Market (and the adjoining Greyhound bus station). It's a little weird to talk about loving a bus station but there you have it. Also, can we all take a moment to admire how freaking gorgeous 30th Street Station is?

Image courtesy Mtruch on Wikimedia

I'm glad no one was gravely injured, including the perp. My reasons for this are as practical (being able to talk to him after the fact will give us important insights and data for preventing future attacks) as they are genuinely altruistic. I hope that this won't change how comfortable and relaxed it is to travel via the PABT (compared to, say, an airport). I hope this won't see a spike in hate and violence directed at minorities. I hope instead it makes people a little nicer, a little braver, a little more patient with each other.

And the next time I'm in the US (probably for another wedding, let's be real), I know I'll still be busing into New York via the PABT to visit some of my favorite people and make some new memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Newly Listed: Red Creek Jasper Pi Necklace

This is straight-up one of my favorites in the shop right now, and I don't understand why it hasn't sold yet—or at least why it doesn't have more hearts/views/etc.

Sciart mathart gold pi necklace math teacher nerd gift
Pi Red Creek Jasper and Gold Necklace by Kokoba
Red Creek jasper is one of my favorite stones these days. I love the warm, earthy colors and the marble-like striping and variegation in almost every piece. It's the kind of stone where you don't need to do much with it; you can just Mother Nature do all the talking.

Sciart mathart gold pi necklace math teacher nerd gift

The spacer beads in this piece are carnelian and gold-filled beads. The clasp is also gold-filled. I usually prefer base metal, but once in a while you want to make something a little nicer. And I think this humble little jasper is nonetheless gorgeous enough to deserve a treat.

Sciart mathart gold pi necklace math teacher nerd gift

 I think now's a good time to remind blog readers that the code BLOGGETTE will get you a 15% discount on any purchase in the store, including this beauty.

Sciart mathart gold pi necklace math teacher nerd gift

I just love this necklace so much! I might make another version for my own personal consumption. Such cozy fall colors!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday 5: Makin' It

What skill seems like it would be really fun to learn?

I really would love to sit down and learn how to crochet. Lawyer Mom crochets, and she tried her best to teach me (I asked!) but for some reason nothing beyond a chain stitch ever really stuck with me.

I still want to learn because sometime last year, I watched an interesting TED talk about how to prepare for aging and dementia. One of the things the speaker recommended was to develop some kind of hobby to keep your hands busy, even if your brain and body give out. Reading and writing don't cut it; making jewelry can ask a lot on the eyes (and requires lots of little bits and bobs, some of which can be expensive). But crocheting just takes a hook and some yarn and you're good to go.  I know my future old lady self would appreciate it if I could just figure it out, once and for all, but it's hard to find the time!

Which of the winter Olympic sports would you love to compete in?

Is drinking hot cocoa in the ski lodge an Olympic sport? No? Too bad.

What fun craft did you make when you were a kid, in school or at camp or somewhere else?

There are two that come to mind. The first is from elementary school, when we had a year-long (or semester-long? quarter-long?) weaving project. In all of the moving overseas (and back again) that I've done, and all of the purging and downsizing (I did the Mari Kondo thing before it was a thing), I've held onto that bizarre hodge-podge of a tapestry. I just loved working on it and learning the different kinds of weaves so much. (Another skill I'd love to learn: how to weave on a proper, actual loom!)

The second one is from middle or early high school, when I was at camp: basket weaving. (Weaving: noticing a pattern yet?) Mine turned out really well, I thought, and it's one of the few school/camp crafts that I've kept around; not only did it turn out nicely, but it was the perfect size and shape to hold pencils and pencil-shaped knick-knacks.

If everyone in the world is the best in the world at some very specific thing, what are you most likely the best at?

For a long time, I was unusually good at remembering people's birthdays. Sad to say, I've since offloaded that mental task to Facebook and I can tell that I'm not as good at it as I used to be.

What’s something you own that was handmade by someone you know?

Circling back to the first question, I have a wide array of scarves, hats, wraps, and blankets that Lawyer Mom has crocheted for me. Here's one, though technically for my sambo and not for me:

I also have an adorable owl magnet that was a gift from a friend I visited in the US in August.

This is in addition to the jewelry that I make and then hoard like a freakin' dragon or something, of course!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

#TBT Pi Chain Necklace

Sometimes you just want to look punk. Or metal? Or bling-y? I don't know. My point is, sometimes you don't want beads. And that's where chain comes in!

Most of the bulk chain in here is aluminum, meaning despite the look it's actually incredibly lightweight.

Each section of chain is a different style, and has a number of strands corresponding to a digit of pi.

This would be a great piece to add a simple pendant to. if that's more your style.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What I Read: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

I was really, really angry about this book.

Given the state of science fiction these days, I should clarify what I wasn't angry about:

I wasn't angry about a huge variety of characters and alien species with different ideas about gender (as well as biological sex) or cultures generally. On the contrary: I was angry that all of those cool ideas about different languages and culture and gender were hampered by a writing style that I would describe as "aggressively twee."

I was angry at Kizzy. Just. Everything about her seemed to be the worst kind of pander-y fanservice (but what a time to be alive, that fanservice can be more than just "wank material for straight dudes"...!). Other characters ranged from kind of cool and interesting to inoffensively bland, but Kizzy was The Worst.

I was angry at a romance that developed out of nowhere.

I was angry at how much was "showing and telling" rather than "showing not telling." Around a third of this book could have been taken out and the story would not suffer at all for it.

As one GoodReads review puts it, putting out a negative review of this book feels like "publicly kicking a kitten," but there you have it. Consider this kitten publicly kicked.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday 5: Space

Of all the spaces in your residence, which is most powerfully your space?

We don't have a lot of space in our tiny Stockholm apartment, but I've made around a third of our unnecessarily large kitchen my office, including my Art Wall corner.

I also have an entire bookshelf to myself, which is obviously very much me.

What’s the most spacious space in your everyday life?

The outside, I guess?

What’s a good song about space?

What’s under your bed?

The floor.

What are your thoughts on typing one or two spaces after sentences?

Two spaces are no longer necessary as we live in an age of digital typing and typesetting! One of the first things I do with every document I copy edit is find and replace two spaces with one. STOP DOING THIS.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

#TBT Yellow and Red Planck Bracelet

I'm categorizing this piece under the Throwback Thursday label because, while the bracelet itself is relatively new, it's a destash attempt to use up some very old stock in the ol' bead box.

Yellow Red Planck constant sciart bracelet nerd jewelry physics teacher gift
Yellow and Red Planck Constant Bracelet by Kokoba
The reds turned out very weird when trying to photograph this one. I don't know if it's the combination of weak, pale daylight (#WinterIsComing) with the overhead "warm white" LED and  fluorescent bulb in my office/the itchen, or if there's something about cherry red that's hard to capture or if I did something funny to my settings, but the first round of pictures of this bracelet came out looking hot pink.

Yellow Red Planck constant sciart bracelet nerd jewelry physics teacher gift

All the beads involved are Czech glass. The yellow ones have a cool stripeyness to them that doesn't show up well in the pictures.

Yellow Red Planck constant sciart bracelet nerd jewelry physics teacher gift

It's the yellow beads that "spell" out h (Planck's constant), as per the latest CODATA value. The red round beads are the spaceholders in between digits.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What I Read: Ancient, Ancient

This was another selection for Austin's feminist science fiction book club. (Maybe I'm an honorary satellite member now?) I went in with high hopes and was mostly....

There were a lot of cool ideas in this book that ended up suffering from overly workshopped, possibly way too abstract writing. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Freshwater, but where Emezi takes that abstraction and works with it until you get it, grounding it with concrete language and imagery and deliberate call backs to specific mythology, Salaam just leaves it all out there, confusing and weird in a world that seems to be entirely of her own creation but without any rules or explanation.

The stories are the strongest when Salaam remains more or less in this world: "Marie," "Rosamojo," and "Ferret" were probably my favorites, as well as a very short piece about ants whose title I can no longer remember and that no one else seems to mention in their reviews so there it is. A trilogy of short stories focus on moth-like aliens who can take a human form and who harvest nectar from humans, most often by seducing them. The premise is unique enough that it really deserved to be its own book rather than a handful of short stories. So as it is, they're just kind of weird.

And unlike almost everyone else, I didn't care much for the first story ("Desire") or the last one ("Pod Rendezvous"). "Desire" is just too distracting, caught up as it is in what is (as far as my Googling can find) a fictional mythology and an unusual-and-completely-unnecessary narrative structure. The same can be said for "K-USH" and "Battle Royale," though people tend to rave less about those two. (I wonder if people pick up the book, read the first and last story, and then declare that they've read the whole book?) "Pod Rendezvous," like the nectar-gathering moth aliens, had so much in there that it should have been a proper novel rather than an overly long short story. A story should be as long as it needs to be, and "Pod Rendezvous" was definitely the wrong length.

Overall, a disappointing collection. It wasn't bad, but I made the mistake of going in with impossibly high expectations.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday 5: Functions

What are you holding your breath in anticipation of?

2018 midterms! Can we please do damage control on this administration already? Also, looking forward to WorldCon Dublin and going to Korea for a wedding in 2019!

What most recently gave you goosebumps?

Probably just straight-up being cold, because it's November in Stockholm.

What’s giving you that pain in the neck?

My work setup is less than ideal. I have my beast of a laptop, Regan, to the left and my work notebook (Samwise) in the middle. But since I do all of my blogging from Regan, I have to contort my neck and back to get anything done. Or just scoot my chair over, which I just did.

What’s making your heart ache?

I miss so many people and places, but that's the neo-liberal cosmopolitan life, I guess: nowhere and everywhere feels like home; you're always missing someone.

What are you yawning at?

Just trying to get my ears to pop because my head is full of fluid. Hurray, being sick. =/

Thursday, November 23, 2017

#TBT Amber Pi Necklace

This is another Kokoba beta release, so probably from around 2010 or 2011. First it was stuck in storage in the US, then I brought it to Sweden and it languished in different storage for nearly a year before I got around to photographing it. And then it took another month to list it, and a couple extra weeks to finally write up this blog post.

Amber Pi Necklace Fall Sciart Jewelry Math Nerds
Amber Pi Necklace by Kokoba
Well, better late than never, right?

Amber Pi Necklace Fall Sciart Jewelry Math Nerds

I like the look of this necklace a lot. I don't usually work with bulk chain, and I don't know why, because every time I do I like how things turn out.

Amber Pi Necklace Fall Sciart Jewelry Math Nerds

This necklace features glass beads in the bulk chain, and then carnelian, red aventurine, and genuine amber chips in the dangles. Which "spell" out the digits of pi, but you knew that already from the name.

Amber Pi Necklace Fall Sciart Jewelry Math Nerds

Fall is almost over but you still have time to enjoy these cozy oranges while you sip your PSL (or enjoy the One True Fall Beverage, apple cider). TREAT YO' SELF!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What I Read: Journal of a Solitude

This was a book that I bought at a library sale I don't know how many years ago. After falling in love with Walden in high school, the similar premise of this book (memoirs of living alone in the countryside) intrigued me. Yet somehow I never got around to reading it until I was going through my books to ship across the ocean. Out of all of the books I hadn't read yet but really wanted to, this was at the top of the list. So I tore through it during my last days in Pennsylvania and up the highways to Albany, then ended up re-homing it to my friend and hostess in Maine. Incidentally, this also hits two items on my 101 in 1001 list: it's nonfiction and it's a book I've owned for over three years!

Image courtesy W. W. Norton & Company

I could tell that I had started and stopped this book at least a few times: the first few entries were familiar to me, and I had dog-eared a page or two. Younger Me wanted to like this, or wanted to be the kind of person who liked this, but I guess she needed a few more years to be able to really get into it. Now Me couldn't put this book down.

There isn't much that happens, which is what you can expect from something titled Journal of a Solitude. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was mine, at any rate. There's a directness and simplicity to her writing that pulls you along, and I think it's exactly the kind of cozy book that makes for perfect winter reading.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Newly Listed: Faux Pearl and Green Marbled Clay Pi Bracelet

Big ups to friend and former coworker Kelly, who dropped a whole load of old jewelry off with me with the explicit instructions to salvage them for parts and make something new out of them. This is one of the lovely Frankensteins that resulted from those parts.

Faux Pearl and Green Marbled Clay Pi Bracelet by Kokoba
I should note that I normally stage my pieces so that you can read the numbers from left to right. This one got flipped and I don't have time to take new photos when these are otherwise serviceable, so it stays, but it bugs me a little bit!

I'm not 100% on the provenance of the green marbled beads, but they are light to the touch the same way that polymer clay beads are, so I expect that they're made out of something similar. The faux pearls are plastic with a coating for that faux pearl shine.

The clasp and all of the metal beads are your standard base metal alloy (copper/nickel/zinc) and come from my own stash rather than anything repurposed. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday 5: October 6 Through 10

The first week of October is National Customer Service Week in the United States and Kenya. Where have you received especially good customer service?

Flying Scandinavian Air Services (or whatever SAS actually stands for) is always a treat. But that said, I value price over comfort in air travel, and Norwegian wins on that front. And they're pretty good for a budget airline. Skimpy meal service (but I hate eating on planes anyway—the food is okay but it's just so cramped), but the planes are new and comfortable.

Noraebang! // Image courtesy PBS News Hou
Noraebangs (karaoke boxes) in Korea also are really good at customer service. One more than one occasion my friends and I received "service" items from the noraebang we were partying it up at: free beer, ice cream, or an extra half-hour of room rental.

The second Saturday in October was National Tree-Planting Day in Mongolia. When did you last do anything resembling tree-planting?

When you're a teacher, every lesson is like planting a tree!

October 4 was World Animal Day (the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals). What’s an obscure animal you know a thing or two about?


Okapis are related to giraffes and, just like giraffes, have blue-black tongues. They're also endangered, so maybe consider supporting okapi preservation as a holiday gift to yourself or others?

October 6 was National Poetry Day in Ireland and the United Kingdom. What’s a line of poetry that springs to mind now that you’re thinking about poetry?

I've been thinking about Karin Boye recently, so here:

Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister.
Varför skulle annars våren tveka?
Varför skulle all vår heta längtan  
bindas i det frusna bitterbleka?
Höljet var ju knoppen hela vintern.
Vad är det för nytt, som tär och spränger?
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister,
ont för det som växer
                              och det som stänger.

Ja nog är det svårt när droppar faller.
Skälvande av ängslan tungt de hänger,
klamrar sig vid kvisten, sväller, glider  -
tyngden drar dem neråt, hur de klänger.
Svårt att vara oviss, rädd och delad,
svårt att känna djupet dra och kalla,
ändå sitta kvar och bara darra  -
svårt att vilja stanna
                              och vilja falla.

Då, när det är värst och inget hjälper,
Brister som i jubel trädets knoppar.
Då, när ingen rädsla längre håller,
faller i ett glitter kvistens droppar
glömmer att de skrämdes av det nya
glömmer att de ängslades för färden  -
känner en sekund sin största trygghet,
vilar i den tillit
                              som skapar världen.

What’s in your pocket?

Nothing, because my pajamas don't have pockets!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#TBT Neon Fibonacci Necklace

As it turns out, when you have three jobs, it's hard to do all of them really well simultaneously! I listed this neon Fibonacci necklace in the shop weeks ago? probably? but am only posting about it now.

Neon Fibonacci necklace - perfect math jewelry gift for teachers and nerds
Neon Fibonacci necklace by Kokoba

This is a Kokoba beta release. I'd date it as around 2010 or so? Hence this post going up on the Throwback Thursday tag. It's definitely not to my usual style now (so busy! much bright! very color!) but I appreciate the sentiment it's coming from, especially with the drab, dark days of winter in Stockholm staring me down yet again. 

Neon Fibonacci necklace - perfect math jewelry gift for teachers and nerds

And I'm not trying to throw shade on you if this is is your style. If I thought this was genuinely hideous, I would have cannibalized this necklace for parts and never spoken of it again. Even if I wouldn't make it today, it still has a certain charm to it.

Neon Fibonacci necklace - perfect math jewelry gift for teachers and nerds

Like, I can't deny that it has a funky Miss Frizzle vibe to it, and quite frankly I think the world needs more Miss Frizzles. Be the Miss Frizzle you want to see in the world!