Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Imagine Punching John Lennon in the Nose

My wife and I watch this dumb reality tv show "INXS Rock Star," in which contestants vie to be the next lead singer of INXS. Now, I never really liked INXS's music, but the show is kinda interesting. In my opinion, only one of the contestants has any real talent and last night she sang very well (after totally blowing it last week). The only problem is that she sang one of my most hated songs, "Imagine" by John Lennon. The song chafes my butt so badly that I'm rewriting the lyrics for my own benefit:

Imagine there's a heaven
It's easy if you try
Something to actually live for
Because eventually you will die
Imagine all the people
Knowing why we're here

Imagine a real Constitution
It isn't hard to do
Government restrained by a document
And the Second Amendment too
Imagine all the people
Living with liberty

Imagine there's no donuts
I wonder if you can
No need for chocolate frosting
A brotherhood of bland
Imagine all the people
With nothing else to do...

You may say this song is stupid
and you'd not be the only one
But now it's permanent on the internet
And in a million years someone will read it
and let's hope still think it's stupid too.

Boy, that stunk up the place. But at least it's no worse than the original, in the author's opinion.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sharpton, You Bastard

I feel that it is our moral obligation to stand and to be courageous with these families, and particularly Cindy, that have become the conscience of this nation
So says the "reverend" Al Sharpton, according to CNN. the conscience of this nation? What a jerk. I'm sure he also feels his moral obligation to stand with courageous families who've lost loved ones in the war on terror and support the war and the President. No, probably not.

Although, I'm sure Al does identify with her grandstanding; using someone else's misfortune to advance their own agenda. Sheehan, you're in good company.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hoi! Hoe gaat het?

[Scroll down for update with photos... ]

Got into Amsterdam yesterday morning, tired as heck. That was my first long flight -- 13 hours of travel all together, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Anyway, I'm still in a fog from jet lag, but here are some random thoughts on my first impression of this place...

Fifteen minutes by train from Schipol Airport to Leiden through the Dutch countryside. Big windmills, check. Pretty farmland, check. Rows of trees are planted in a very orderly fashion in the countryside, not a lot of random flora. Kind of strange. It's very damp here, a lot like Seattle. Everyone smokes here. In the airport, in the restaurants, in the street, in the hotel. Blech. Most of the folks in Leiden ride bicycles and little motorbikes, and there are bicycle lanes everywhere to accomodate them. Sitting at a cafe last night I saw several couples ride by where the man was peddling and the woman was sitting on a little back seat over the rear wheel. Very cute. Central Europe (as this part of Europe is called in Scandinavia) is kind of dumpy and dirty. There's an odd mixture of 17th century quaintness and Euro-modernness. I really like the old architecture. The new stuff is crap. This is a university city, and most of the kids are dressed pretty shabbily. In America it's fashionable to look that way, but here they mean it, because they can't afford much. The Dutch kids wear their clothes and shoes until they completely fall apart -- duct tape seems to be a popular way to hold shoes together.

I tipped the taxi driver this morning, and he looked at the money and asked, "Is this for Sunday?" I asked him if it wasn't customary to tip in Holland, and he said, "Money is very expensive here." Hmm. Transportation and dining out are expensive. A five minute taxi ride costs 10 euros ($13), and a modest meal for two at a restaurant costs about 40 euros ($50). The prices at the little grocery store were quite reasonable, though. My husband tells me that it seems inexpensive, but Europeans don't make very much (esp. after taxes), so it's expensive to them. Last night I gave some money to a saxophone player at the train station, and he made a big deal about it -- now I understand why. If there is one upside to all this, it's that the people around here all seem pretty fit. I have seen exactly two overweight people so far. That's mostly due to the amount of bicycling and walking everyone does, but also due to the expensiveness of indulgence. Few people can afford to eat out all the time (hubby and I eat out 3-5 times a week back home) or to drive everywhere.

Lots of natural blondes here. Dutch girls are very pretty. The men. Hmm. The older men are still masculine looking, but the younger men are skinny and lanky and kind of metrosexual. If there was ever an outright invasion here I'm not sure how much resistance these scrawny bicycle-riding guys would offer. Everyone speaks english here, and speaks it well. The accents are absolutely charming. Coupled with the Dutch prettiness, I could see how an American man could fall in love here about every five minutes.

Television is about what I expected. Twenty channels with not much on. Last night I watched Die Hard with Dutch subtitles. I studied German as an undergrad, and it's quite close to Dutch. It's kind of fun to try to follow along with the subtitles -- I think a person could learn the language fairly easily this way. Anyway, it's always interesting to see where the subtitles are not consistent with what's being spoken. For instance, all of the profanity of Die Hard was left in, but it wasn't translated literally in the subtitles. My impression was that "yippee-ki-yay, motherf-cker" became "so there, dumb-head." Later in the evening I watched a few minutes of Waking Ned Devine dubbed in German. Too funny. Irish people speaking like Colonel Klink. There's a lot of German programming, actually, especially dubbed American movies. Tried to watch a few minutes of a John Wayne movie, but the dubbed voice was all wrong and it was just too painful. Let's see, what else... dorky Dutch game shows, a few obscure subtitled American sitcoms and third-rate made-for-TV movies, lots of car racing, lots of rock videos, CNN (naturally), BBC news (naturally), and then in the late evening the sex ads. Tons of them. Very risque.

OK, I am heading out now to the rijksmuseums (state museums) and the gardens. Not sure how much spare time I'll have once the conference starts, but I'll try to check in here once in a while (maybe even with photos!). Until then, Doie!


Update! Fotos!

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The view one block away from my hotel. This biggie is now a windmill museum.

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The view right next to the windmill. See what I mean? The new stuff is ugly.

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Leiden has canals and bridges everywhere. A very watery town.

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The view on the way to downtown.

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Across from the cafe. The bike culture is very prevalent here. (I decided to rent a bicycle so I can zip around town like a proper Nederlandse!)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What the Heck?

I just walked outside and heard a jet flying low over my house. This isn't that unusual, being in Seattle, but it sounded strange. I looked up and saw only a large business jet at first. Then I noticed that a fighter jet was right beside it. That's what sounded so strange, I guess. They were flying very low. I couldn't make out what type of fighter it was.

Anyway, it's probably nothing.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Stickwick Blog Hiatus

I'm in a frenzy preparing to leave for Europe in a few days. I'll be gone until early September, so expect postings from me to be light to nonexistent during this time. Gonna be in Paris and the Netherlands for conferences and some observatory work. My first overseas trip. Couldn't convince the Mr. to come with me -- he grew up in Europe, and has seen enough of it.

Apologies to those whose comments I may have neglected -- I haven't even had a chance to look at comments in the last two days, and, unfortunately, they'll probably have to wait until I come back. It's likely I won't get a chance to post Spaced-Out Part II until September, either. Sorry. *sigh*

Hopefully, Carnaby will pick up the slack while I'm gone. In the meantime, take care and see you all in a few weeks!


UPDATE! I found a little time (okay, a lot of time) to post a response in the Greatest Man thread. That's it until I get back, though... for reals.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lunar Real Estate

Rusticus at Solarvoid asked in the comments of my previous post about my Moon property. First, let me clarify. The property is in my husband's name, but community property laws 'n' all that. Anyway, last Christmas I was looking for a unique gift for my dad, who pretty much has everything he wants/needs, and I remembered reading that you could pay to have a star named after someone. So I went to Google to look for it, but found the Lunar Registry instead. It looked legit, so I bought Dad and Hubby each their own chunk of Moon. You get to choose the region yourself and everything. Here's the nifty part: purchasing the property automatically grants you Lunar citizenship and drilling/mining rights on your property (up to one mile in depth)!

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So, you buy the property online, then in about a week you get your deed, a declaration of your citizenship, assorted information, and a satellite photograph of your property. Property is purchased in units of acres, and the price ranges from about $25 - $40 per acre, depending on the location. Choices include: Bay of Rainbows, Lunar Alps, Sea of Tranquility, Taurus Mountains, and several others.

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It could really be worth something some day, you never know. But whatever the case, it makes a unique and super-fun gift.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Things You Never Knew About Stickwick...

... and were afraid to ask. I'm really busy at work these days, so this is what passes for substance. Enjoy!

... am married to a crazy Finn.
... want to have at least two children in the near future.
... skipped the ninth grade.
... dropped out of high school for two years, because I hated school so much.
... went back to high school and graduated from the International Baccalaureate program (kind of like AP meets the UN).
... consider Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Empire Strikes Back to be two of the greatest movies ever made.
... wanted to join the Marine Corps, but was disqualified for extremely bad eyesight.
... have degrees in physics, math, and astronomy.
... have no tattoos or body piercings.
... was raised by socialists. My dad worked for Bobby Kennedy.
... am hypoglycemic. If I don't eat every few hours, I get crazy.
... had a happy childhood.
... am not registered with any political party, but I vote Republican.
... am Lutheran.
... am very fond of animals, especially cats.
... wear sandals and slip-ons year round, because lace-up shoes make me feel claustrophobic.
... failed my driver's license exam the first time.
... have only had one speeding ticket.
... was a competitive powerlifter in Canada, and hold five provincial records.
... like to paint and draw. I have sold a few pieces over the years, and did some design work for a major toy corporation.
... do not smoke or use drugs/medications of any kind.
... drink decaf.
... am a Tolkien fanatic.
... know a lot of insults/bad words in Finnish.
... know a few insults in Laotian.
... know a few insults in Japanese.
... read trashy celeb gossip magazines on a regular basis.
... have not had a telephone land line for three and a half years. Hooray cell phones!
... have not had cable television for eight years. Hooray cheap DVDs!
... am afraid of the dark, but I like the night.
... am the only person in the whole world with my name (my married name).
... own an acre of land on the Moon.

Carnaby Intervenes:

...our parents were socialists. Our mother voted for Bush after her last tax return (before Bush-Gore in 2000). Our father is now a rabid capitalist.

[Very true. The woman who voted for Mondale in '84 told me I was out of the will if I didn't vote for Bush in 2000. (R.I.P. Ma.) As for Dad, it didn't take much to snap him out of socialism. Winston Churchill was right. -Ed]

...I also failed my first drivers test when I ran a red light.

[Ha, I remember that. With me it was a stupid pedestrian. I thought he was going to cross, but he stepped back. I started to go, he stepped out again, etc. -Ed]

...I also have no cable TV. Rabbit ears do just fine.

[Same. The only thing we watch on the boob tube is Conan O'Brien. -Ed]

...Stickwick's cell phone sucks: "I was ju.. gklj... djfk... *beeeeeep* .. *click*" etc.

[Thbbpppttt. -Ed]

If You Haven't Seen This...

then go see it, here, now. Heh, that was swell.


Discovery lands safely in California.

Which reminds me, Part II of our Johnson Space Center tour is waaaaay overdue. This week, we promises! (Part I of "Spaced-Out" is here.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Greatest Man

I had a thought today, along the lines of "what the heck is life all about?" I figure it this way. If there is no God, no purpose, no anything to life, then the greatest man to ever live will be the man that destroys the world. He will save untold billions from needless and inevitable suffering. Not that that would actually matter anyway, as any suffering experienced by any one person is finite, and once it ends (when they die), it's as if it never was for that individual.

That's all.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Someone from King County Washington is Going to Jail

At least I hope so. Preferably "King County Executive" Ron Simms. What a day that would be. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, it appears that King County intentionally mislead the DOJ about sending out their overseas and military ballots on time. Given how military citizens vote, this could easily have changed our gubernatorial election outcome, which, if you recall (heh), was determined by a margin of just 129 votes, and was/is an ongoing scandal due to the difficult to prove, but obvious to any sane person, voter fraud that occured and is being covered up by the county.

This new smoking gun will hopefully sack the administration of King County and send our current "Governor" packing. Oh please oh please.

I actually wonder if anything will be done about this. I wonder how long this will take to reach the MSM? I wonder if it will ever reach the MSM? Hahahahahahaha! I doubt it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Publish or Perish

A colleague of mine helpfully told me that the way you know you're ready to publish a research paper is when you are completely and utterly sick of it. Well, I've been working on this particular paper for the last three years. Every week for the last year I would think to myself, this is it, gonna submit the paper by the end of the week. And then something would come up. A bug in one of my codes, infinitesimally small inconsistencies in the data that my advisor insists on reconciling, just one last bit of analysis. Well, as of yesterday afternoon, I think I've ironed out the last bug and analyzed everything that can be analyzed.

And now, how sick am I of this thing?

Well, I'd like to take the computers that I used to work on my research and every single piece of paper that ever bore anything whatsoever to do with this project and burn them in a huge pyre in a field. Then I want to grind the ashes into a fine powder and scatter them over a volcano. Then I want to drop an A-bomb on the volcano. Then I'd like to generate an earthquake so that the A-bombed volcano will sink into the ocean. Then I want the ocean to evaporate. Then I want to compact the entire mass of the planet into such a small radius that the earth becomes a black hole that radiates away so much mass that soon it leaves behind only a naked singularity that causes the end of the universe, so that all of the matter and radiation that ever comprised any piece of equipment that ever had anything to do with my project will cease to exist for all of eternity.

Yeah, I'm ready to publish.