bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I Learned Since The Spring Equinox

  • Being head of a household is time-consuming, but rewarding.

  • Smart Watches are pretty dang fun.

  • Getting a business license is an annoying process.

  • If you fill a ping-pong ball with one hole in it with liquid nitrogen and then drop it into a pan of room temperature water, it'll flail around like a groundflower.

  • Kittens are busy.

  • They also flail around like groundflowers if you put collars on them.

  • A holomictic lake is one in which the layers of water mix at least once a year. A meromictic lake's water layers never mix.

  • You may actually be able to feel pneumonia in your lungs. Weird.

  • Dandelion champagne has a nice bite to it.

  • I can wear a cocktail dress if I get some leggings.

  • Carroll Spinney/Big Bird was almost slated to go into orbit, but the costume was too big. Which means he didn't get to go for his scheduled ride on ... the Challenger shuttle.

  • Being the "coach" for shows is almost as nerve-wracking as being the student.

  • There is such a thing as Nutella-flavored gelato.

  • The name "Saoirse" is pronounced "SEER-shuh."

  • Nikki Akuma-Bird needs to star in her own action space opera.

  • The term for oxygen-carrying blood cells is "erythrocyte."

  • At 3:00 a.m. or so in early June I can see the Milky Way unaided if I concentrate!

  • Kidney failure is one of the most common ailments of senior cats.

  • Trimming grape vines is a nice meditative process. You trim a lot, but it does grow back.

  • The bearded vulture is the only known warm-blooded osteophage--it eats actual bones. It has one tough gut.

  • A "ginger bug" is like a starter for sodas that makes use of wild yeasts.

  • Sun conures really are friendly little buggers. And loud. So loud.

  • And not all of them are really into toys. Some just want to chill on your shoulder.

  • Unless you're chewing something. Then they will bite your ear.

  • They can be potty trained after a fashion, though. Which is nice.

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrom is another weird disorder that leads to things like oversized bones, stretchy skin, extreme flexibility, and other such strange effects.

  • Social change is messy, slow and difficult, but it does not do to get discouraged.

bloodyrosemccoy: (Bitter Bunny)
Had one kid today in my presentation who wanted to basically give the presentation himself. He kept his hand up the whole time, excitedly wanting to inform me of things I missed, or hadn't gotten to yet, or that were just interesting, and every time I asked a question he'd urgently wave his hand harder.

I feel terrible that I can't give kids who are that excited my full attention. They're so enthusiastic and into it, and I have to turn away from them to the others as well. Especially since I was often the one who excitedly had all the information and wanted to share it because it was COOL and INTERESTING.

I felt like I was doing a disservice to him, so I tried to acknowledge that I knew he was there. But I'm not sure if saying "I know you have the answer; I'll ask someone else" helps or just makes it worse. I actually told him afterward that I was impressed at what he knew, and I was sorry I couldn't give him more attention.

How would you guys handle this? I'm a bit lost here. I hope he enjoyed his day anyway, and that he wasn't too frustrated. Sorry, kid. The conundrum of education strikes again.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I Learned Since The Winter Solstice

  • My preference for the Dome Theater comes largely from the fact that I can hang out alone in the booth. When new guys come to shadow me, it's less enjoyable--but still pretty fun.

  • Sometimes kittens happen to you out of nowhere.

  • Kids remember my Space Place lessons!

  • Main sequence blue stars also become red giants before snuffing out. I'd always been a little fuzzy about what happened to them.

  • Playing Musical Houses is stressful.

  • My tendency to research my stories as a teenager was apparently not a universal phenomenon among teenage fiction writers.

  • Sounds of 200 dB can rupture lungs.

  • At least when making sodas, there is such a thing as "just crazy enough to work."

  • Conures are a group of parrots that make good pets.

  • Livestreams can be pretty damn fun to watch.

  • It's possible to get emotionally invested in games that you thought were just supposed to be about jump scares.

  • The big difference between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is that people with the former think their obsessions and compulsions are a problem, whereas those with the latter think that everyone else is just a slob.

  • I still don't trust most Boy Scouts' ability to survive in their own living rooms, let alone in the wilderness.

  • The most well-known autism advocacy group is also terrible. Autism Speaks is mostly from the point of view of neurotypical people and addresses actual spectrum people as more a burden and a drain on society, which, surprisingly, does not endear them to said autistic people.

  • Trying to translate a lesson on astronomy from English to Spanish takes a while when you have to keep looking up terms.

  • The guy who sings the Guardians of the Galaxy version of "Hooked on a Feeling" was also the Arbiter in Chess.

  • Majora's Mask is a game rife with conspiracy theories.

  • The thing I did as a kid where I wondered if "red" looked the same to everyone was apparently a universal thing to do. The term for those experiences that can't be conveyed is qualia, and the inability to convey them is called the explanatory gap.

  • Cats' ability to land on their feet stems partly from visual and partly from kinetic orientation. When you take them into the Vomit Comet and they lose those cues, they sort of hula hoop around in circles trying to orient themselves.

  • If I'd had noise-cancelling headphones earlier in my life, things would've been SO much easier.

  • Okay, Smart Watches are AWESOME. This--THIS--is what I've been waiting for.

  • It is not too terrifying to start an Etsy store, but it takes a while to get it going once you do.

bloodyrosemccoy: (Moongazing)
Tonight we had our first neighborhood party of the year. When it started to get dark, I pointed upward.

ME: Hey, look! It's Jupiter!
NEIGHBOR KID I HADN'T MET BEFORE: Oh! And there's also a hot dog in the sky! Canis Minor!
ME: ... What grade are you in?
KID: Sixth!
ME: Have you perchance been to the Space Place?
KID: Yeah!
KID'S DAD: You work there! I knew your voice sounded familiar!
ME: And I am just pleased somebody remembered one of the things I told you about the sky!
KID: Yup! Also Betelgeuse will explode!
ME: You are exactly correct!

See, this is why I basically do stand-up astronomy. If you make dumb jokes, like saying that the two bright stars of Canis Minor seem more like a hot dog than an actual dog, kids will remember it! And then you'll feel proud and a little surreal that they do.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
Watchin' one of my coworkers doing a Sphere presentation. He gets to the moon slide.

PRESENTER: So what do you see on the moon?
KID WITH COKE-BOTTLE GLASSES: *raises hand enthusiastically*
PRESENTER: You with the Minecraft shirt!
KID: I see the dust of the man who wanted to die on the moon!
PRESENTER: Well, that's a cool sciece fiction story! And I'm glad you mentioned "dust," because there's a lot of dust on the moon ...
KID: *droop*

But I was also glad he mentioned the word "dust," because in fact that made me suspicious. I knew about space burials, but I didn't know if there were any on the moon. So I looked it up, and hey--turns out the kid was right! Eugene Merle Shoemaker didn't die on the moon, but his ashes (hence: dust) did get sent up there.

I made a point to let them know during the presentation, just to vindicate the kid--if he's the kind of nerd I was, he was feeling a mix of shame and righteous indignation at being told he was wrong. (The presenter handled his weird comment beautifully, but that wouldn't stop me from feeling that way.) So instead he wound up feeling really awesome that he taught US something today.

FUN FACT: James Doohan's remains are having a hard time getting into space. They've tried launching his ashes twice so far and I think they're going to try again, though just when is a little unclear. Good luck, Scotty!
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Adventure!)
Bah, I missed yesterday. Well, yesterday's good thing: while my previous cherry-almond soda turned out flatter than a cheap pizza, that meant I got to make another batch! Which is pretty fun!


Today's good thing: so I did three Space Place live dome shows in a row and it was a lot of fun, because a live show is basically a 40-minute standup comedy routine about OMG SPACE,* so yes, I totally love my job.

But! The best part today were the questions. There were some good ones. (Also the usual smart-alecky "How big is Uranus hurr hurr," except the kid pronounced it "YURR-ah-nuss" like we do to make it less dumb-sounding, which ruined the joke.) Questions like:

-What if astronauts cry in space? (Actually the answer is kind of nuts: the surface tension holds the tears to your eyes, so unless you can wipe them away you're effectively blinded by your own dang tears--a serious hazard in a spacesuit where you can't wipe them away.)
-What's Jupiter made of? If it's made of the same stuff as the sun, why isn't it a star?
-What would happen if the Andromeda and Milky Way black holes collide?
-Where would you be if you went into a black hole? (This one was fun because I got to tell them about spaghettification.)
-What if light doesn't fall into a black hole but just orbits it? (I answered this one badly, I'm afraid. Gotta brush up on photon spheres.)

So yeah, the kids were into it. I love it when the crowd is energetic but interested. And they seemed to like mine; I got a lot of compliments afterward, too.

*With visual aids! I can embiggen the Andromeda galaxy in the night sky and be like "LOOK OUT! It's going to crash into us!" and all the kids go "Woooooo" and then I can say, "No, seriously, IT'S GOING TO CRASH INTO US. Just ... it's gonna take a while."

Good Things

Jan. 4th, 2015 09:40 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Walken)
Happy Earth Closest To The Sun Day, y'all! I love teaching kids about this. They get to feel all smart when they tell everyone about how we're actually closest to the sun in (Northern Hemisphere) winter!
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I've Learned Since The Fall Equinox

  • Finnish-speakers play havoc with their own crazy case system, because there are so many different dialects.

  • Enameled copper can offer some bright colors to your chainmaille, but boy is it soft!

  • My original query letter was probably better than the revamped one.

  • Hatching birds' wings look ridiculously flippery and adorable.

  • Flu shots do not make you invincible.

  • There actually is a way to fix the digestive issues I've had since getting rid of the chestburster. Figures I'd take 14 months to actually think to ask my doctor about it.

  • I apparently don't remember the periodic table at all. Everything I thought I knew turned out to be wrong.

  • Body cameras on cops apparently wouldn't help, as grand juries will see videos of cops committing homicide and still not indict.

  • Remember to oil your bottle capper or it will lock up annoyingly.

  • There really were some Chuck E. Cheese murders back in the day, which might be what Five Nights At Freddy's is based on.

  • Upon going to schools for Space Place Outreach, I realized that all of those damn posters all over the wall are a huge problem for me because I have to read them. The other person has to keep snapping me out of a daze. God, I must have been so overstimulated as a student.

  • Gifted education is a lot more difficult than I expected.

  • I am okay at making lecture plans, but activity plans are beyond me.

  • Surface tension keeps your tears stuck to your face out in space.

  • After you've poured boiling water on your fingers, you might have to drain your blisters just to keep them from exploding when you flex your fingers.

  • Checking out sunspots with solar filters is pretty dang cool.

  • Suddenly becoming a de facto homeowner is a daunting prospect.

  • There is methane on Mars! HMMM.


Dec. 17th, 2014 09:52 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Venus By Air)
Hey, this is pretty cool: Curiosity found a big burst of methane on Mars!

Because my brain is wired for sci-fi, my natural first response is "COULD THAT BE LITTLE FARTING MICROBES," which is only one possibility out of a lot of "probably not life" possibilities, so this isnt conclusive. But it sure is interesting, isn't it?
bloodyrosemccoy: (Any Friends)
I am having a whole lot of school flashbacks now that I'm here at the Space Place.

See, my basic job description is Tell Kids How Cool Space Is. Which is pretty great. But my coworker, the guy who tries to keep all us presenters headed in more or less the same direction, has pointed out that I am specifically good at telling gifted kids about space.

"Oh, that's common," my friend who is a bona fide teacher informed me. "You teach to your own type. It takes a conscious effort if you're teaching other types."

So I've embarked upon a crash course in figuring how to teach other types of learners. It is REALLY DIFFICULT, you guys. When I was a kid, a lot of the techniques teachers used in the classroom to try to drill some knowledge into our skulls struck me as patronizing, redundant, and stupid. My coworker assures me that had more to do with my own brain than the teachers', and that the techniques that simply annoy me--like making kids repeat vocabulary terms--are quite useful. I have no idea if that's true, because if it is my own brain, there's no way I can be objective. So I have to believe him for now and try to do a lot of education that seems to me to be counterintuitive. And I keep flashing back to being a kid who had to put with this nonsense.

It also reminds me of something that was a unique problem for a gifted kid--that unlike other types of special ed, having/being a gifted kid was seen as desirable. And that made it really hard to talk about the problems involved (like frustration with bafflingly obtuse peers,* social awkwardness, and boredom at school) without getting a lot of "CRY MOAR, EMOKID" responses. Even now, I am not sure if I should talk about my life experience because people think it's bragging, when I'm mostly trying to figure out why the hell life seems so different to me than it does to others. So the Space Place job has been surprisingly revelatory.

But! It's not all terrible! The cool thing is that we are also called upon to tailor our lesson plans for different learning styles--like, for example, GIFTED KIDS. Which means that my unique talents are useful! I offered to try finding resources to expand our current lesson plans for the kids with the same kinds of upside-down brains as my own. So I get to dig into gifted resources and try them out, and it's gonna be AWESOME. I may be weird, but at least I an use my weirdness to help other weird kids really enoy their Valuable Learning Experiences. And that's what's making the Space Place job so darn much fun.

*I must have been annoying as fuck as a kid, beause I simply didn't understand how other people couldn't grasp concepts that seemed so simple.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Moongazing)
Did anyone in the right regions get to see the solar eclipse today? I thought I wasn't going to because paradoxically I was stuck in the Space Place Dome Theater for a shift,* but nobody showed up for one of the shows because THERE WAS AN ECLIPSE GOING so I had time to run out and hang with the Space Place Eclipse Party for a bit and look through the filtered telescopes and through the filtered glasses and DEAR GOD PLEASE DON'T LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT A FILTER PEOPLE.

So yeah, we partied like Space Place people, by which I mean a bunch of nerds stood around and tried to see who could explain space the loudest while peering through telescopes. And now I've got mylar-filtered glasses so I can check out the sun with impunity WHENEVER I DAMN WELL PLEASE and every time I'll feel a little bit defiant. TAKE THAT, THE SUN!

Then I had to go back to Dome Jail. But it was clouding up anyway, so that was fine. I'm just glad I got to see it.

*I suppose on the plus side I could always simulate the eclipse ...

Act Casual

Sep. 30th, 2014 10:05 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Beastly)
Recently a conflation of many disparate events--specifically, watching that Five Nights At Freddy's LP and subsequently a bunch of others, waking up my long-dormant Steam account to play with Universe Sandbox, and my brother and me trying to explain video game logic to Mom using examples from Day of the Tentacle puzzles--has made me come to a realization: I miss point-and-click games. Suddenly I've been fondly looking back on the good times I had as a tiny little game nerd floundering my way through Myst with the help of the weirdly novelish player's guide, since I lacked the cognitive development necessary to really figure out what the hell I was doing.

So I've been tooling around Steam and my Kindle's app store trying to satisfy my dopamine needs,* sampling various games based on important factors like user reviews and, importantly, what's on sale. And it's working--I'm having a fine old time playing casual and more in-depth adventure games. So far I've enjoyed The Book of Unwritten Tales (fun puzzles, humor like Bad Discworld), its prequel the Critter Chronicles (where, to their credit, the humor got less annoying), and a stack of Artifex Mundi and similar casual games (which offer about a million layers of sociological analysis fodder, what with way they seem to market to females and are less "hardcore" but more story-driven with tragic romance and so forth, but fuck you they're PRETTY and the stories aren't bad). I have a few others queued up (Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People has been on my list for a while) but am always looking for more. If you give me a good space-themed casual adventure puzzle game, I will ... well, probably I'll just be very happy, but if we turn "make Amelia happy" into an achievement, your brain will think it's a real reward, and that'll be great!

Probably I'm overdoing it at the moment because I'm excited about this, and it could easily become a money pit if I'm not careful,** but it's really nice to return to some absurd problem-solving adventure.

By the way, I'm Polmelia on Steam, if anyone's interested, too!

*I wonder why something like managing to make a cup of tea comes with such a feeling of triumph in video games when in reality locating a kettle, tea bags, teapot, mug, and tea leaves filling the kettle with water, turning on the stove, boiling the water, pouring the tea leaves and the boiling water into the teapot, letting it steep for fourish minutes, and pouring the tea through the strainer into the mug is just a thing you do to get tea. It's almost as if game design has tapped into a collection of terrifyingly effective psychological hacks. I hope they use this awesome power responsibly.

**I have a complicated thing going right now where I OWN Portal 2 but can't actually PLAY it because [pointless boring computer fuckery]. I could easily re-buy it on Steam, but dammit I already own it so I'll just save it for when I fix my computer fuckery. Money, dangit!
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I Learned Since The Summer Solstice:

  • [ profile] childthursday really exists! AND SHE IS AWESOME


  • Piano dissassembly is an undertaking fraught with peril, what with the large number of wires under high tension.

  • African wild dogs have gorgeous coats.

  • The cilantro wars are a bit one-sided: 90% of people can't taste the particular aldehydes that mimic bleach (read: POISON)

  • Fifty Shades of Grey is even more awful than I thought, so that not even a good sporking can make me an antifan.

  • The first regular African-American character in a Saturday morning cartoon show was Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats.

  • While I love watching horror movies, playing horror games is apparently one degree too close for my fragile amygdala.

  • But, as it turns out, I love watching horror game playthroughs by other people.

  • It is upsetting when the deserts of Southern Utah have a layer of green over them.

  • There is a Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago!

  • Even if they have much higher mass, sub-brown dwarf stars are generally roughly the same radius as Jupiter, due to complicated interactions of various pressure factors.


  • Astronauts do drop stuff all over the place when they come back from a stint in space. (As somebody said, "NOBODY GIVE HIM A BABY.")

  • T-rex's puny arms were still attached to tons of muscle and could probably take you apart pretty easily.

  • Amercan police departments have somehow turned into terrifying supervillain organizations.

  • Terrifying, racist supervillain organizations.

  • It's important to get the correct generic brand of your Fukitol unless you want to enjoy days of simulating life on a pirate ship.

  • The Tinker Bell movies actually might have better messages than the books, what with the way Tinker Bell herself is a straight-up mechanical engineer in the movies, rather than a "pots-and-pans-talent fairy" of the books. Dude, she can be girly AND an engineer!

  • I apparently do very well teaching toward gifted kids, and less well teaching toward other kids. I tend to forget that not everyone can keep up. STORY OF MY LIFE.

  • There are varying categories of anemia depending on how the shortage of hemoglobin comes about--either impaired production, increased destruction, or straight blood loss.

  • The water level of the Chicago River is lower than that of Lake Michigan and has to be kept that way with harbor locks, because of some big engineering stunt to reverse the flow of the river back in the day. THE TRIUMPH OF MAN!

  • I still love point'n'click games.

  • There are tons of extremely interesting methods of alternative construction available if one wants to, say, build a cost-effective eco-friendly hobbit hole at some point.

  • The most intriguing of which seems to be earth-sheltered building at the moment.  HMMMM ...

bloodyrosemccoy: (Hobbit Hole)
Like most of my contemporary third-grade literati, I was a big fan of Brian Jacques' Redwall books, epic tales of the high adventures of mousies and their fellow woodland critters. They were an entirely new kind of fantasy for my narrow little brain in that they were almost completely devoid of magic--only a little bit of possibly mystical reincarnation, if that--but by god they were full of humor, swashbuckly swordfighting, heroic stunts, dastardly villains, colorful allies, and vivid settings.

And of course there was the food porn.

Oh, GOD, the food porn. I remember reading that Brian Jacques grew up in England during World War II, and if he wasn't exactly starving, there was never quite enough food, and what there was had an uninspiring quality to it. So he took to reading cookbooks like they were porn, and always lingered on feast scenes in the stories he was reading. And when he wrote his own stories, there was always at least one feast, with loving attention paid to describing every single dish on the menu. Holy shit when Mom read those books aloud to us we would get SO DAMN HUNGRY.

And the centerpiece of the food, for me, was always the moles' signature dish, the Turnip'n'Tater'n'Beetroot Deeper'n'Ever Pie. God DAMN that thing sounded good. In those days there was no Redwall Cookbook, and there MIGHT have been but the internet wasn't A Thing yet, so we just had to make up our own recipe. Mom tried many variations, but it wasn't till I came across a different book, Maggie Black's Medieval Cookbook, that it all came together. I combined her recipe for mushroom pasties with my own Deeper'n'Ever Pie recipe and voila! THE GREATEST FOOD EVER.

And I always celebrate Hobbit Day with one, because I think the hobbits and the moles would probably agree on what makes a damn fine savory pie, especially with the addition of mushrooms. So I'm gonna share my recipe with you, and if you want to celebrate a couple of great books with some great pie, be my guest!

Deeper'N'Ever Pie - Hobbit Variation

What You Need:

2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 beets
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded*
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
2 pie crusts (I use Pillsbury because while I am good at some kitchen things, pie crusts are MYSTERIOUS ALCHEMY)

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Parboil the beets whole, until they are soft, in one saucepan. When they are done, peel them (they're easier to peel after they've been boiled) and chop them, then toss them in a big mixing bowl

While that's going on, parboil the chopped carrots and potatoes in another saucepan. Drain them and dump them into that same mixing bowl

Lightly saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Add them to the bowl

Now toss the vegetables till they're good and mixed. Mix in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp. mustard powder, and dashes of salt and pepper.

Mix in the shredded cheese.

Now put one of the pie crusts in your pie pan. Then dump the filling in!

Cover with the other pie crust. Pinch the crusts' edges together. Punch a few holes artistically in the top crust with a fork.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Ta-da! You have an amazing Deeper'n'Ever Pie to share with your friends. Mom likes it with sour cream (Mom likes EVERYTHING with sour cream), but I like it plain. Maybe with an apple beer or some ginger ale, or some mulled ginger apple cider if you have it on hand. But no matter how you serve it, enjoy--and raise a glass of whatever you're drinking with it to Brian Jacques, who wrote some amazing books. Here's to you, Mr. Jacques.

*I have no idea where the moles got cheese. Only bad guys seem to eat meat in the Redwall universe; the good guys WILL eat fish when it's available, but they're mostly vegetarian. They're only vegan because they have to be, though--I think there's a passing mention of cattle in Redwall itself, but that was the first one published and the continuity got retconned so there is no good source of milk. But by god Jacques wants cheese and cream and butter, so he cheats with something called "greensap milk." I'm cheating right back with "actual milk" products.
bloodyrosemccoy: (ABCDEF Cookie Monster)
It is Day Camp Week at the Space Place! Oh, god, kill me now.

A few observations:

1. I have very little patience for rowdy third-grade boys. This might be unfair to them, but at least it makes me consistent, since I really had no use for rowdy third-grade boys back in third grade. I was the kid furiously wishing these other little fuckers would just settle the hell down so we could get some learning done or, ideally, so I could read my damn book in peace. Jeezus, school was exhausting.

2. Earnest nerd kids, though, are my favorite. The whip-smart ones who want to tell you all about X-TREME SPACE! or announce that their favorite planet is an exoplanet just make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

3. When I was a kid, I dreaded those scavenger hunt worksheets they sometimes gave you on field trips. They were a painful, anxiety-laced way to learn things. Now that I am older and wiser and able to observe younger kids, I can tell you that they still seem massively inefficient. The aforementioned rowdy kids are too busy hollering fart jokes at each other* to even pay attention to the exhibits, and the neurotic nerds get so hung up on filling out the sheet correctly that they miss the parts of the trip they'd otherwise find enthralling and thus secretly educational.

It did kill 20 minutes, though.

4. There's a nice teenage volunteer helping with the day camp. She has decided that we're friends. So she sits next to me, deep inside my personal space bubble, preferably at about my four o'clock. When I try to move--say, get up to get a drink of water and sit back down in a chair farther away from her, she immediately comes over and sits next to me in the new location. I think I'm managing to be nice, though I'm not sure. I have managed not to side kick her in the pelvis upon catching her over my shoulder AGAIN, so that's something.

5. Why the fuck does Pluto appeal so much to kids? These little bastards were still in diapers when it got reclassified as a dwarf planet, and yet they still say it's their favorite planet and that it's getting a bum rap. I always thought it was a space rock far less interesting than, say, Mars or Neptune, but kids seem to really identify with it or something.

And yes, I was glad when it was reclassified, mostly because of my sense of order. Its reclassification happened because we found a lot of other similar objects, which means that we are refining our definitions as further information comes to light. I found that highly satisfying. But when I talk to kids about it, I am more likely to say that I'm happy it's been reclassified because how would you like to go to a big family reunion and be the only kid at the grownups' table? That's boring! Maybe that's how Pluto felt when it was considered a planet, instead of a dwarf planet like its friends.

Anyway, yeah. That was Day 1. Tune in to Day 2, to see if I punt anybody through the wall! I just hope the nerds stay enthusiastic enough to counter that.

*Okay, yes, when I say "fart jokes," I pretty much exclusively mean they yell the word "fart" a lot.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I've Learned Since The Spring Equinox

  • In an early script for The Little Mermaid Ursula was supposed to be Triton's sister. It kinda shines through.

  • Lily Tomlin played Miss Frizzle in the Magic School Bus show.

  • Annie Jump Cannon, who developed stellar classification, was ridiculously super-focused. She would spend each day painstakingly going through stars and categorizing them with spectroscopy. As someone who enjoys that sort of tedious infosifting, I am always glad when someone else who likes doing that gets recognized.

  • The modern white greasepaint clown look was invented by Joseph Grimaldi in the late 18th Century. I'd curse his name, but without him we wouldn't have the greatest comic book villain ever, so I salute you, you creepy clown!

  • Literary agents like to play musical agencies, so you're never sure which agency you've queried and which agent.

  • It turns out the "Augie's Great Municipal Band" song from The Phantom Menace was NOT intended to be a bouncy upbeat foreshadowing version of the Emperor's theme. I find this extremely disappointing. Here I was all "That's BRILLIANT!" and it was just a coincidence. The few points I give to the prequels must be deducted again.

  • Io's crazy volcanic activity is all due to the gravitational free-for-all between Jupiter and Jupiter's other big moons.

  • The latest theory about why lunar maria are only on the near side of the moon is that the moon was quickly tide-locked to Earth after they split, and the still-molten Earth kept the rock vaporized and blew things like aluminum to the far side of the moon and thus made the crust thicker. So it was a lot easier for the near side's crust to crack and bleed out the lava that hardened into those basaltic plains.

  • Handwriting is part of the Utah core curriculum--because of the neurological and developmental benefits. This is apparently unusual.

  • The great battle between British and French food hinges entirely on the quality of ingredients. The better your ingredients, the less need you have to complicate them with sauces and so forth. Rich People Food used to be blank chunks of meat. The Garbage Parts Of The Food only got popular as Rich People Food after everyone figured out how to make them good.

  • Antarctica's elevation is pretty high, bro.

  • Chainmaille weaving is hard on your back muscles.

  • The night sky on a planet inside a globular cluster would be pretty dang bright.

  • One of the most fun things to do with liquid nitrogen is to dump it out when you're done demonstrating its uses. POOF!

  • Balloons do not scare me if they are only partially blown up.

  • A lot of Catullus's poems were basically old-timey versions of hip-hop grudges.

  • The original difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is that ginger beer is brewed, with yeast and so forth, and ale is ginger syrup in carbonated water. That's the original difference. Nobody cares anymore, though.

  • The hipster soda section of the supermarket is terribly fun.

  • I can make an awesome rose ginger lemon soda, but it must be drunk within a week or two or it will turn beery.

  • There is such a thing as conductive thread. So you can sew LEDs into your clothing!

  • Astronomy dome theaters have great models of the skies of all sorts of other planets. You can watch Jupiter's phases from Europa, for crying out loud!

  • Unsurprisingly, nerds who work on the slides for spherical screens are more than willing to abuse their power. Science On A Death Star!

  • Sometimes you can take a chance with a new job and it turns out TOTALLY AWESOME.

bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Adventure!)
I've already got a reputation here at the Space Place. Every time I'm introduced to someone, they say, "Are you Jordan's Friend?"* Perhaps this means he's been talking about me. I think that's good news.

Anyway, just to add a thin layer of anonymity to this, I'm not gonna name the actual facility. Let's just say it will be the Space Place That Will Remain Super Secretly Nameless, But Totally Has:

  • Exhibits like Guess Your Weight On Other Planets, moon rocks, interactive simulations of planetary orbits, planet surfaces, and some kind of Rube Goldbergy exhibit with springs and levers and balls and dinging bells that you can interact with,

  • A giant spherical screen in the lobby that can project rotating simulations of each solar system planet and climates and tectonics and so forth (and also, because it is programmed by supernerds, has a Death Star mode and an OMG WTF GIANT EYEBALL MODE like you've just run into the second scariest thing in Super Mario 64.**),

  • A dome theater,

  • Crazy science demonstrations, and

  • The most unbelievably awesome gift shop ever. No, seriously, you guys. I am buying all my presents from this place from now on. Have a wedding? Birthday? Housewarming? Xmas? YOU ALL GET MYTHBUSTERS SCIENCE KITS, DAMMIT.

So yeah, this totally secret Space Place is GREAT.

Anyway, my job is in education presentations to K-12 school groups, so I get to work with the sphere, dome, and the secret bonus third option for schools to far away to drive all the way to Space Place, Skype + Magic Educational Remote View. All of these use simulation programs to check out stuff like What's In The Sky and The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas and Plate Tectonics and so forth. I've spent the last few days watching presentations in each of these media. It looks like a goddamn ton of fun, though I suspect the first time I try each one myself will be TERRIFYING.*** But first I've got to learn all the equipment, so next week I get to futz with the software and maybe make the eyeball follow patrons and see if any of them know that the secret is to run around it until it explodes into coins. It should get easier when the school year ends in a few weeks and I'll have time to do that. Later on, probably starting next school year, I get to travel to schools and demonstrate Cool Science to them.

I'm gonna have FUN here.

By the way, as you may expect, this place is full of nerds. Silly mustaches abound, one guy was telling me about the comic he's working on, I'm not gonna say who but ONE of us is trying to sell a YA fantasy novel and is (re)writing one about Doctors! In! SPACE!!, and I am pretty sure D&D groups figure into the weekly event schedule. There's even one guy who has been to Kenya, so even if we aren't talking strictly about NERD stuff, we still have things to connect on. I think I will do well here.

Plus, seriously, y'all, this gift shop. I am going to own more science bullshit than will fit in my house. I am okay with this.

*Except for the guy there who used to be my acting teacher back when I was, like, twelve. He knows me as "Mia." I know no one cares, but this guy was great back then, and it's a huge kick to talk to him again.

**Yes, second. Seriously, fuck that piano.

***The other "new" guy, who's been working in Concessions for years but is now graduating to an Edumacator, got to do his first ever presentation yesterday. Poor dope did well but was clearly flying on an adrenalin high.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Old Spice Onna Horse)
There are some bottles of experimental Earl Grey cream soda settling up in the fridge. I'll let y'all know how it tastes. If it goes well, I may try some Pride of the Port soda next.


Have been taking up jewelry-making again. Taking chainmaille a bit more seriously this time around. It's always difficult to get started with something, but this place has a few great starter kits. Plus, it's got colorful jump rings, and I am a sucker for colors. So far I'm trying a simple Box Chain rainbow necklace. I'm idiotically proud of how closely I'm managing to get the jump rings closed.


In the meantime, I've come across some pretty nifty-looking images of handmade LED Zelda-style Fairy-Inna-Bottle necklaces, but none of them are for sale. So I went with the next logical course of action and decided to make it myself.

Problem is, my knowlege of electricity is roughly that of a fifth-grader working through Fifty Fun Science Projects You Can Do At Home: something something battery something zinc copper something something circuit something LIGHT! And, y'know, for some reason I've picked up the impression that a potato is involved somehow. So I called my brother, what with him being an electrical engineer and all,* and he offered me some tips. The rest has been trial, error, and a lot of Googling. Oh, and gathering components. Once I get that done, the rest should be easy.


Mom got herself some roller skates, too. Now we just have to find a place to skate--outdoors, possibly, as spring gets moving.


I have mastered the art of Fish'n'Chips. I'd make myself a medal, but I'm already making a few other necklaces, and that would just be redundant.

*On the one hand, this a running joke along the lines of asking a linguist how many languages they speak. "Can you program my TV? I mean, you ARE an electrician!" No, he's an electrical engineer. On the other hand, though, I figured he probably knew a LITTLE more about practical circuitry than me and my potato.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I Learned Since The Winter Solstice

  • The Cooking Hypothesis suggests that the invention of cooking precipitated a rapid evolutionary change in humans, allowing them to more efficiently process nutrients and, of course, growing bigger brains. I always said cooking was an important part of humanity, dangit!

  • Nancy Kerrigan was filmed right after being attacked sobbing and asking "Why? Why?"--and a lot of people thought she was being a wimp or a drama queen because she was only bruised. Dude, it still hurts, but quite apart from that, when you get attacked, it's probably TERRIFYING and it HURTS YOUR FEELINGS.

  • The difference between triple axels, triple spins, triple lutzes, etc., has to do with where you push off from and what direction you're facing and okay fine I've already forgotten.

  • Flavoring sodas is a lot like brewing tea. Really sugary tea.

  • But brown sugar makes them taste rather bitter.

  • Also, soda-brewing is similar to making beer, except you don't let the yeast go far enough to make alcohol.

  • Furthermore, there is a lot of argument over just what the "cream" in "cream soda" refers to. Vanilla? Adding cream to the soda? Or cream of tartar? It's a HISTORY MYSTERY.

  • In tangentially-related soda discoveries, SodaStream is a company fraught with political tensions and controversy.

  • Cloth pads and panty liners are surprisingly expensive, but also surprisingly worth it.

  • There is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere called "The Poop." Yes, it refers to a ship's stern (poop deck), BUT STILL. HURRRR.

  • There are, naturally, all sorts of recipes for Ent-Draught on the internet.

  • Mainlining Atop The Fourth Wall has taught me something I always rather thought: I have terrible comic-reading comprehension. I do okay with some, mostly in comic strip form, but it takes me a long time to parse each page, way longer than it takes to read straight prose, so if I'm going to read a comic, I have to be committed. And even then I have trouble regarding them critically.*

  • I did learn, however, that lots of people find it extremely difficult to keep comic continuity straight. Comic writers, for instance. Case in point: Donna Troy.

  • The director of Tremors is Ron Underwood, who got his start in the film industry making educational shorts for Barr Films--such as one of my favorite Rifftrax-featured shorts, Library World.

  • My mom, who watched very little TV as a kid, nevertheless has strong opinions about what Mr. Peabody's voice sounds like.

  • Mork & Mindy was a spinoff of Happy Days.  Clearly, I never watched either of them.

  • Getting feedback on your novel can be a mixed bag. You get excited that you can make it better, but frustrated when you can't tell if the feedback makes sense.

  • Publishing a serial story online gets more difficult with each installment because there's a lot to keep track of. BUT DAMMIT IT'S STILL POSSIBLE.

  • You can unclog standard drain clogs with the use of science fair volcano technology.

  • After you turn into the left-turn-lane, it's legal to drive 500 freaking feet in that lane. Which is almost a whole block even here in Salt Lake City.

  • The Beautiful Creatures movie might be adapted from a novel of the same name, but don't let that fool you. It is clearly a remake of The Touch of Satan.

  • The first female-directed movie ever to gross more than $1 billion is Frozen. Which is awesome, but dang, it took a while to get there. Let's hope this is a good precedent!

*Interestingly, though, I read a lot of Archie comics as a kid. It fascinated me the same way 1950s Educational Shorts fascinate me--it shows some weird whitebread cultural ideal that somehow I can't look away from.
bloodyrosemccoy: (I AM MRS! NESBIT!)
Mini Addy seems to have gotten the travel bug. When I went to California back in November (shut up I told you I'd get to this eventually), she came with me, because who doesn't like checking out new places? And California has so many interesting places to check out!

 photo GettingontheTrain_zps240cb073.jpg

This time we're taking the train. Addy's been on road trips, plane trips, and even boat trips, but never on a train trip. And it's doubly exciting to board at 11:30 pm.

 photo BunkBed_zps94e0ae97.jpg

In the roomette Addy wanted the top bunk at first ...

 photo OuttheWindow_zpsadcfc072.jpg

... but then she realized it was more fun on the bottom because she could watch the lights go by through the window.

 photo HangingWithGram_zps3c51e7e0.jpg

We made it to Sacramento! This was where Addy would meet my grandmother--and they got along very well. I knew they would!

But THEN What Did We Do? )


bloodyrosemccoy: (Default)

July 2016

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