Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Copywrite The Temple

I just noticed the addition of something called BlogBot, allowing windows users to upload photographs to their blogs. Now I want to make a blog for our trip to the UK so I can post photos while we're gone, photographs of Stonehenge! It's not allowed. Unless I go through whatever approval process they have to post photographs from the inside of the stone circle. I don't think I can be bothered.

It irked me at first that their rules on photography seem so strict, since it's an outdoor site I think of it as fair game for photographing, and then posting said photographs to my website. Then I started thinking about the possibility of my sister taking film or pictures and using them in her work, since she's an artist, I figure it's fair enough if she chooses to use images of Stonehenge to express herself. But what if Rolls Royce wanted to shoot a commercial with a big luxury car in the centre of Stonehenge? It would look pretty cool, but it would be like featuring the Vatican in a Ferrarri commercial. Or using images of Mecca to advertize a line of designer clothing. I suppose that's why they're so strict: it isn't just some ancient rocks, it's a sacred site. Originally sacred to a group of people who's origins we can barely trace, and we certainly have only a vague idea of what form their religion took, but it's a sacred site to people NOW, myself included.

I guess this rules out posing for goofy pictures to make it look like we're part of the prehistorical workforce, wearing twigs in our hair and sacrifing a goat. We'll have to take twice as many photos of us at Avebury Tor to compensate.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Henge

Mum and I are starting to formulate more solid plans for the first few days that Matt and I will be in the UK this autumn. We arrive in London, and are going to be staying at an old apartment near St Paul's Cathedral, I can't remember if it's 17th or 18th century, but it's tiny and lopsided, and there's one tricky step halfway up the stairs that every family member has tripped on at some point. We've stayed there twice before as a family, once just after my 9th birthday, and once for my graduation/Dad's 60th birthday. We'll arrive Friday afternoon and make our own way to meet Mum and Dad at the place on Clothfair (that's the name of the street). By that point we'll be pretty tired from 24 hours or so of travel, we'll probably limit our exploration to a walk down to St Paul's to keep us awake until a decent British Summer Time bedtime.

The first full day in London I want to do a lot of walking around, to combat jetlag, and because walking around the centre of London is a great way to see all the different architectural styles and get a feel for the city. At some point we'll go see a play, whatever's on, interesting, and has standby seats available. There's the Brittish Museum, home of the Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chess Men, among other things. I'd like to show Matt where I lived at some point, but it's not as important as seeing the more well known parts of London, after all, walking around the city was the part I liked most about living there. The day we leave London, we're going to go see the stone circle at Avebury, and then Stonehenge.

Until last week I thought we'd only be able to see Stonehenge from a distance, they limit access to the circle because of past vandalism, people trying to chip off bits as keepsakes, and I think there was even some grafitti at one point. However, looking through the English Heritage website I found that you can make an appointment to walk around inside the site itself, as long as you go either before regular opening hours, or after. So Mum is going to try to set us up with an appointment in the evening. I hope it works out, they're really cagey about letting people in, we have to list the photographic equipment we'll be using, and what we'll use the photographs for...if there's any intent to use the images for commercial purposes you have to clear it all with them before they let you in. As I said: cagey.

I'm very excited at the possibility of seeing the henge from the inside, and that we'll be able to work it in to Matt's first visit to the UK. My parents are being typically accomodating and generous, they're probably looking forward to another family tour of sites of interest, and they're starting to turn the original plan of just getting to Edinburgh and doing day trips from there into a whirlwind ancient history tour of the entire country.

Our Handfasting is in a month, we've finished the ceremony and collected most of the props, now we just need to orchestrate the more mundane aspects of carting food for 20 up to Idyllwild. My dress should be finished any day now, I'm waiting for an email from Peldyn to let me know it's on it's way. The rings...should arrive in the store in time. If they don't there will be hell to pay after they screwed up the resizing and forced us to put in a special order at the last possible moment. I'm trying not to think about the possiblilty of not getting them in time, since there's nothing I can really do about it.

I still can't believe we might get into Stonehenge! Hooray for researching things in advance.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Will The Bubbles In Carbonated Water Help Wake Me Up?

It's 7.19am and I have already set the 6-hour portion of my timecourse going. The timer will go off just after 1pm, which is fantastic, because it means that the 6-hour thing won't make me have to leave work late. I have set myself up to reap the benefits of getting in to work at 6.30. Now the sleepiness is starting to return.

The reason I got in so early is that Matt was woken up this morning at 4am with a stabbing pain in one eye. It sucks that he also gets migraines, that's one thing I'd be happy not to bond over, because I wouldn't wish migraines on anyone. Excedrin didn't work, and eventually he woke me up to say he was going to have to stay home from work, and what else could he do for the pain? Excedrin has never failed to work on me, so all I could think of was to add vicodin to the mix. Then I took 30 minutes to find the damn stuff. It was hiding behind a cold remedy. By the time the vicodin started to help him I realized it was 5.45, 15 minutes before my alarm usually goes off, so I got dressed. If I'd gone back to bed for a "few minutes" I would have fallen back asleep and been late for work, add a 6-hour treatment followed by collecting results....And I'd be rolling up at home sometime after the first few guests arrived for our party tonight. Rolling up wearing work clothes and feeling grungy, instead of welcoming them at the door in spiffy clothes with freshly washed shiny hair.

So. Matt's in bed nursing a migraine, and I'm feeling dozy at my desk, though the bubbles in my San Pellegrino really do seem to be waking me up a bit.

Now that it's almost 8, thanks to my zombified web surfing in the middle of posting, I'd better get going with the rest of today's work. Today is pretty busy, and will require time management, frankly it's exactly what I need. I've had too many days recently that involved 30 minutes hands-on work, 30 minutes of ordering/making phone calls, and then 7 hours of thumb twiddling.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Day Off?

I'm toying with the idea of taking tomorrow off work, or most of tomorrow at any rate. This week is mostly thumb twiddling and setting up for a rush of work that will start the moment fresh reagents arrive...sometime next week, or maybe the week after if we're really unlucky. I'm determined that even if the reagents are going to arrive on a friday, I'll do the experiment asap, even if it means working on the weekend. I don't want the false delay that weekends provide to get in the way of getting these experiments started. As far as this week goes, I've already set my cells up to go over the weekend, they mght need looked at on Sunday. I have nothing lined up to do tomorrow.

A plan is formulating to fish out the paint chip we matched to the orange walls in our last apartment, go to Lowes and get basic supplies and a small can of the paint, and surprise Matt with a new look for our entryway. We've started to debate the possibility of doing another wall in the living room in a dark blue, which could either be lovely, or a complete disaster, depending on the exact shade we pick.

Oops, the reagents just came in. OK, now I get to calculate concentrations, figure out when I can get my shit together and probably act on my decision to creatively re-locate the weekend. I might get to get the experiment going earlier than I thought AND take tomorrow off to mess about in my apartment and paint a wall. Yay.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Yoga = Good

I did a shoulder stand last night! I can't remember when I last achieved that, I can barely remember trying it. It was right at the end of class, so I was tired but very well warmed up. At another point I also got my foot above head level while stretching one leg out behind me and standing on the other leg. THAT was a real surprise.

I wasn't so surprised to find that my leg and arm strength is already depleted from lack of work, and I'm definitely not a bendy stretchy rubber band person when it comes to yoga. There were a few real rubber bands around me, and it surprised me greatly when I realized that though they were able to do all the more challenging variants when it came to strength or flexibility, I was one of few who could take on the extra balance challenges. I'm so used to being bad all around at any sort of physical challenge, it really helps me to know that I have some real strengths. I know yoga is not competitive, not about comparing yourself to others or "beating" them. The only reason I use them for comparison is that realizing I was one of three people in the room still holding the pose is the only way I knew I was managing anything special.

Today I'm pretty achey, I definitely got a full body workout, my lower back hurts a bit, but I'm pretty sure it's because it got stretched well last night, not actually an injury. I need to keep doing this yoga class, it challenges me a lot, but I still walk out surprised at how much I managed to keep up. There's something about the rhythm of it that enables me to warm up well and keep my body going for longer. It may be hereditary, my Mum did yoga for a long time, it may also be because she taught me a little when I was a kid and it seems familiar.

So now I have been to this class all of twice, and found it a very good thing both times, hopefully I will be able to KEEP going, without the months-long gap between attendances either. It won't kick start me into loosing weight, but I'm worrying about that less and less now, it's far more important to me to focus on feeling stronger and more flexible, I know from experience that my weight will go down a bit with that, especially if I keep working on tweaking my food habits.

Work has been slow paced this week, but in a welcome way: gearing up for being busy next week, not twiddling my thumbs and being bored. We have one big experiment to do which should finish off one project, and then another repeat of the interminable timecourse, which should...WORK this time. Meanwhile I'm learning more on the paper-writing end, which means more boring desk time and tired eyes, but it's stuff I need to be able to do if I'm going to move up the ladder in this field.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

War Report

War came right when it was needed. I am referring to the SCA event War, not the variety that involves death and maiming and many other such unpleasantnesses.

The sunday before last, Matt and I went to Rennaissence Faire with John, who is officiating our Handfasting. I went despite waking up with a migraine that day, and though the day was enjoyable and my migraine didn't return in the middle of Faire, I spent the rest of the week paying for it. All week I was spaced out and mentally tired, physically achey and had trouble focusing my eyes. I felt, in short, like crap. Plus I had immense trouble sleeping. By the end of the week I was a tired whiny achey tense little bunny, enough that Matt wondered if I should skip War. Fortunately I knew that all I really needed was to recharge, and that War would enable me to quit worrying about a lot of trivial stuff, mostly switch off my brain, and wander about in garb looking at other people in garb. Especially now we have an air mattress so I can sleep without the ground leeching all the precious warmth from my body, that was the one remaining stress factor with camping.

I was really impressed that we managed to meet up with Bob and Laura after dark in a campground containing over a thousand people, even more impressed that we located a remenant of House Rittervald who recognised us and welcomed us to camp near them. We didn't get a spot in Sleepy Hollow, we were actually in an area known as Bedlam, which is supposedly one of the noisiest at night, but everyone from Bedlam went elsewhere to Party, so we weren't disturbed when we decided it was time for bed.

The first night we pitched our tent and Matt got into his new brecan feildhe. I was already wearing my new tunic, so I just kept that on: it was nice and warm. Before we were done setting up a drunk surfer dude dressed as a 12th century Finn came up and introduced himself and offered the four of us vodka. He was very proud of his costume, which he had made himself. He was also very drunk and knew a lot about spider venom. The rest of his group wandered over and all of a sudden we were having a little party. This is why War is so great, people wander, people chat, people share their booze and compliment each other's garb (and body parts, if they're feeling flirty).

On Saturday I got to see the work in progress on my Handfasting Dress, Peldyn had pinned it all together for a fitting and had some suggestions, such as making the skirt a little fuller, adding piping etc, she also offered me a damsk underskirt at cost. In the end I decided to add sleeves too, since the combination of a velvet gown with a damsk underskirt seems to call for something a little more dramatic than plain chemise-sleeves. The velvet is absolutely gorgeous, a lovely rich emerald green, and Peldyn had machine washed it with softener which made drape beautifully and feel more like silk velvet than cotton velvet. It's the shade of green I think of when people refer to Ireland as the "Emerald Isle", and that's exactly what I wanted. The sort of green you don't see often in California. Matt and I both grew up in green rolling hills, and it's something we both miss.

The rest of Saturday, the rest of War really, was spent alternating between hanging out at the campsite of some of our friends, and browsing the merchants. Matt and I spent far too much time at the booth of a particular swordmaker, drooling over a pair of handmade damascus short-swords with brass knotwork and Pictish beasties on the hilt and hand-tooled leather sheath. Something with that level of artistry and craftsmanship is the kind of sword I would be comfortable with displaying on my walls. A nice sword still isn't the most welcoming message if you ask me, but something that is clearly a work of art as well as a weapon is less of a statement of Nemo me impune lacessit, and more a statement of appreciation of the art of swordmaking.

I'm skipping over a lot, but it's all little details that sound pretty bland on their own. There was Mike wearing a jade green chiton with a cowboy hat (but the turquoise hat band co-ordinated perfectly with the chiton...). A philosophical discussion about comparitive religion in general and Buddhism in particular. Lori and Bob doing a Tang Soo Do blocking drill while drunk and managing not to break anything. Lots and lots of cold sake, too much cold sake for most of us in fact. A wonderful dutch-oven made chicken stew. More sake. A failed quest to find a satisfactory cold spiced tea (first they were out of chai mix, then they didn't know how to make it once they found some). A successful quest to find an athame for our handfasting, and a bonus find in the form of a solid silver rose pendant made by our favourite swordmaker. Another philosophical discusssion about child-rearding techniques, sparked by the repressive parenting techniques of the inhabitants of a neighboring tent.

Personal Greeter

We had the first meeting of the Homeowner's Association last night. It was really just an info session, the management company's representative explained how many "officers" we needed to elect, and handed out nomination forms. There will be another meeting next month to elect the officers and start tweaking the regulations that are already in place.

Matt and I have been worried about the "one house pet" rule since we found it in the HOA binder, now we're not worried. The rules we were given are just a starting point. The first task of the newly established HOA is to set rules about pets and common space, what people are and are not allowed to have on their little patios, blah blah. We've hung out with some of our neighbors already, and none of them have a problem with us having two pets, a lot of them say they wave to whichever cat is in the window as they go past. One woman said that one of our cats leaps up in the window to watch her walk past every single time she comes home, and that she felt as though the kitty's acting as her personal welcome-home committee. I like that idea, that Marble (we're pretty sure it's Marble) is making someone else in our complex feel more at home. The cats certainly make us feel more homey, I'm glad they're spreading the love out our windows too.