Sunday, April 23, 2017

March for Science 2017 Reflections

I feel guilty about missing the Women's March because it was raining that morning, so I was determined to make it to the March for Science.  I made a sign.  I marched.  I saw lots of other good signs.  Some of the best, text only because I did not have a camera:

  • "Science created ice cream.  Science is awesome."  As someone who often eats ice cream for breakfast and does not regret this in the slightest, I am in total agreement.  Also, science gave us refrigerators to keep the ice cream cold so we don't have to mix a batch every time we want some.
  • "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."-Marie Curie
  • "Science is true whether you believe it or not."     
  • "The oceans are rising and so are we."
  • "There is no planet B."  We've found a lot of exoplanets now, but even if we find another Earth-parallel planet, getting there is still a problem.  The dark between the stars is staggeringly vast.  As Phil Plait says, mind crushingly big.   
  • "Remember polio?  I do/I don't" (by generation).  Because vaccines!  I met a polio survivor.  My grandfather is a polio survivor.  I never worried about polio, or tetanus, or whooping cough, or measles, or mumps, or diphtheria, because science!!!
  • "All brains are biased.  Correct for this" with a second much larger sign listing references.  Good scientific practice: cite your sources!
 A friend sent a picture of the best sign for a mathematician:
Alas that my sign was not nearly this clever!

I have no regrets about spending an afternoon marching for science.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Annals of a Lazy Activist: Napping for Science

Chihaya is a good person who stands up and even marches for what she believes.  I am not so good of a person.  I dislike marching and even standing up when unnecessary.  I am taking a nap for science.  With her sign.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kids These Days

All the Goth kids at the Renaissance Faire these days think it's all about the makeup and music (sometimes architecture).  Remember the real meaning of Goth is about attacking Rome!  Never forget.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Fabulosity: Dancing that Makes Me Actually Like Swan Lake

On paper, Swan Lake should be fabulous.

In practice, the score is weak and descends into groaning schmaltz if not played gently and with care. If Petipa's choreography is followed, say farewell to any good ensemble work and prepare for endless pas des duex between Odette and the Prince hammering us over the head with the plot point that they are In Love at the expense of the rest of the storyline. And the practice of having the prima dance both Odette and Odile, and relegating Odile to one short appearance, weakens the story even further, especially as it is extremely difficult for one dancer to play both different princesses convincingly.

In short, I would like to like Swan Lake, but so far the only version that I think does it justice is the anime Princess Tutu (exihibt #1 in the series of "anime that are not as silly as their titles sound in English").  In Princess Tutu we learn the stories and the hearts of both the black princess and the white princess, and come to love them both.  The prince stops being boring and develops a personality, and the prince's friend stops being a manly asshole and learns to actually listen to women.  And we meet a host of other minor characters, some tragic, some comic, some strong and kind, some weak and unkind.  And in the end, the power of love and dance triumph, as they should in any fairy tale.

Now, however, right alongside Princess Tutu, I present the Italian rhythmic gymnastics team's take on Swan Lake with 5 hoops at Pesaro, 2017:
All the best parts of the music!  Nods to the traditional choreography while not getting stuck in it, or in white platter tutus!  Breathtaking musicality and coordination and arabesques!  This, this! is what group work is supposed to be.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chihaya's Kitchen: Things Learned by Trial and Error

  • Salt is absolutely necessary for a pot of lentils/beans with garlic and onions and ginger and herbs/spices to taste good.
  • When working with sweet onions, chop them larger and let them sizzle in oil until caramelization starts before adding other stuff.  It will be worth the wait.
  • Recipes usually say to start garlic first, but if you're going to just dump everything into one pot, start with the thing that takes the longest to fry (usually the onion) and add other stuff in order of time it will take to cook.
  • Be patient with bread.
  • When freezing liquids, don't make containers airtight until phase change has occurred, especially with glass containers.  Picking shattered glass off frozen soup stock was interesting, but not something I'd care to repeat.
  • Never, ever, ever leave your pot of boiling beans on a hot stove and go run errands.  Even if you don't burn the house down, the smell of scorch is permeating and persistent and scrubbing charcoaled beans out of a pot is hard work.  
  • If you like your cookies thick and soft, sticking the tray and uncooked dough in the freezer for ~3 minutes right before putting them in the oven helps.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Elisheba's Rose

We planted a rose bush for Elisheba.  Pink, because Elisheba likes pink.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Caturday Post: Tamerlane the World-Conquering Sword and the Fifty Thousand Puffballs of Persia*

In the ongoing (we desperately hope not dropped) anime series Arslan Senki, the main tank character, when told by the strategist that with the addition of two more allies they will only have to defeat 50,000 Lusitanians apiece, considers this and says completely seriously that he thinks he can take 50,000. (And we think so too. He's invincible as only a legendary hero can be.)

Obviously Elisheba's little orange cat Tamerlane, as the World-Conquering Sword of hopelessly spoiled and pampered indoor cats, can defeat 50,000 of his puffballs. 
some of Tamerlane's puffballs
But how much room in our house would these 50,000 puffballs take up?  We did the math:

Assume that a typical puffball is 3.5 cm in diameter. We'll assume the puffballs are un-squishable, and, further, we'll assume they are cubical with a side of 3.5cm rather than spherical in order to do a quick and dirty space estimate rather than getting sucked into a minimal packing arrangement problem. With all our simplifying assumptions this becomes an exercise in dimensional analysis:

volume of 1 puffball * convert to meters for easier visualization of space required * number of puffballs \[\frac{(3.5cm)^3}{1 puffball}\cdot \left(\frac{1 m}{100 cm}\right)^3 \cdot \frac{50,000 puffballs}{1} \]
\[=\frac{3.5^3\cancel{cm^3}}{1 \cancel{puffball}}\cdot \frac{1 m^3}{100^3 \cancel{cm^3}} \cdot \frac{50,000 \cancel{puffballs}}{1} \approx 2.1 m^3 \]
Thus we need 2.1 cubic meters of space for the 50,000 puffballs, or a box \(2.1^{1/3} \approx 1.3\) meters on a side.

Considering that the puffballs actually squish considerably, we can probably get away with one extra-large moving box from Home Depot and drop Tamerlane in on top to wreak havoc.

"Cry havoc, and let slip the kittens of war!" -William Shakescat

*like the bowmen of Persia, but puffier and significantly less likely to fight back in any way.