WAYWT | Colors!

Sometimes I find it useful to take a picture of what I'm wearing if I need to decide something. Today was one of those days - I was trying to decide what sweater to wear, and whether or not I liked pigtails.

This is our hobby/storage room. You can see all my craft & sewing junk and some aquarium stuff... and Rockband drums. And T's truck. And rabbit litter. Both T and I are packrats, heh.

"Waxing makes your eyebrows droopy"

So I wandered into the spa place where I usually get my eyebrows waxed and was told that since June they've stopped providing waxing services for eyebrows. I had been out of town for the summer and had just been plucking my own brows, but they were badly in need of being reshaped.

"Well, what do you do then?"
"We can pluck them."
"Oh. What about threading?"
"No, we don't do that here. Just plucking. Would you like an appointment?"

Now, I find plucking to be very painful, and threading too - but at least threading is faster. I needed a lot of shaping to be done, both top and bottom and I was NOT going to sit squirming in a chair for an hour as they plucked the hairs out of my face one-by-one.

"So, why did you stop waxing?"
"Well, waxing the eyebrows makes the skin droopy and it's against our goal of making women naturally young-looking and beautiful."

So I thought about this for a second. I'd heard it before but I was kind of pissed off that the place I liked to get my brows waxed was all of a sudden falling for myth and denying me the service I wanted.

"I'm pretty sure that's not true. Thank you anyway."

That's pretty out-of-character of me, and I felt kind of bad after, but I left and went to another salon and had my eyebrows shaped very nicely in under ten minutes and for $15. So there you go.

I've gone searching for the source of this idea - that waxing makes your brows droopy - and was not surprised that there was no source to be found. Oh, plenty of people will say it, but no one can point to any conclusive evidence. I'm not asking for the results of a long-term double-blind study here - something simple like "Women in India thread their eyebrows instead of waxing and there are fewer requests for eye and brow lifts than in North America" See, I didn't even ask for that to be corrected by financial earning and social stigma against cosmetic surgery! Just give me something to work with here.

So. Much. Jewelry. Where the hell do I put it?

So it's a well known fact that in times of economic recession women buy more lipstick because they can't afford new clothes but still want to feel pretty. I don't wear lipstick so instead I buy accessories. It's a fairly maintainable collection I have, but my main problem is that of organization. I have many necklaces and if I use a normal jewelry box they become hopelessly tangled.

The best solution I've come up with has been using organizer cube grids (left over from making the rabbit cage) and hanging my necklaces from that. It keeps them from getting tangled and I can see everything I have - I like having it on display because otherwise I forget what I own. Also, it's pretty. For bracelets/belts/scarves/necklaces that don't have clasp I just put them in some document inbox things I got at the Wicker Emporium.

It works, but I don't really like it. If I'm in a hurry I can make a mess, neglect to hang up the necklaces, throw other things into the boxes like my hair accessories. (I have a bunch of headbands and clips) And basically, it's ugly when I have all my stuff piled on.

Minecraft skins: assorted animals

And, since it's really the only thing I do in Minecraft, here's a few animal-themed skins I'm thrown together recently. Some are a bit more experimental than "good", heh.

Teddy bear

Complete with bow and stitching. Guaranteed to love you unconditionally.

VBA/Excel: Conversions for longitude, latitide and UTM

I wrote a cute little Excel/VBA macro to convert common longitude or latitude notation into decimal degrees. Decimal degrees are useful for calculations and for converting into other formats, such as UTM. It accepts all common long/lat notation formats, such as decimal degrees, degree-minute and degree-minute-second. A negative decimal degree is the southern or western hemisphere (depending if it's longitude or latitude), by convention.

I've used the regular expression VB library, though this could easily be converted to simply do string searches using
. I just enjoy RegExes, for some reason. :3

To use regexes, you must have a reference to the regex library in your project. Open up the macro editor in Excel. Go Tools -> References... and put a check next to "Microsoft VBScript Regular Expressions 5.5", if it isn't already checked off.

Convert from string input to decimal degrees:

It's actually pretty simple to convert from a string coordinate notation to decimal degrees. The hard part is figuring out which format the user input.
In a module:


A patient on an table flails around a bit and the heart monitor they're connected to goes flat and emits a long single tone

"He's flatlining!" screams a doctor

In the background you hear a high-pitched, increasing whine as someone charges up a defibrillator. Someone yells something in medi-speak. Someone sticks defib pads on the patient's chest.


The patient jolts violently on the table as electricity pulses through their body

"Again! Clear!"

The patient jolts violently and suddenly -

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep--beep--beep--beep goes the EKG.
"He's got a pulse, we save-"

"NO! No, no no no!" I scream, smashing the paddles out of a nurse's hands and kicking over the defib unit. "No no no he's DEAD you fucking idiots."


WAYWT | Gypsy gold

One of my professors bought his PhD with gypsy gold.

All the pics where I'm standing turned out silly so just imagine an ankle-length sequined skirt that flounces about really nicely. It's my favourite thrift-store find. One time I almost bought a brown sweater exactly like the one I'm wearing here but I didn't and it's one of the biggest regrets in my life.

PS: I totally made that blue pillow today. You can tell because the casing is too small and the seam I had to hand-stitch looks like the handiwork of a drunken preschooler.

Neutrals are sneaking into my closet

When I hung up some of my clothes to air dry yesterday I noticed something bizarre: most of my favourite pieces of clothing were neutrals!

This is very odd to me, because previously I was never a fan of neutrals. "Too boring," I'd think, "Leave it to old people and New Yorkers." I'm starting to become a real neutrals fan, though - grey, brown, beige, ivory, black, peach: these are so elegant and beautiful and I can't believe I haven't noticed before! (I still rarely wear white) They're also really versatile in that I can pair a neutral piece with almost anything else of any colour. It can look chic, homey, vintage or relaxed and comfy.

Neutrals and "vintage" looks have been cropping up a lot in Lookbook's tumblr feed, too. Some of my recent favorites:

WAYWT | Purple!

Still haven't got the hang of this pose-for-the-camera-without-looking-like-you're-posing-for-the-camera thing.

Gender segregation in public spaces: Washrooms

So here's something that's become a bit of a sore issue for me: gender segregated washrooms. The reason it's a sore issue is that everyone who disagrees with me seems to have no reason for believing what they do other than "that's just how it's always been" and it's frustrating. I've actually stopped talking about it with people because I don't like to be reminded how narrow-minded and brainwashed even my friends can be.
...breathe... breathe...

Here's my point: Segregating public restrooms by gender is akin to racial segregation. There is no rational to maintain that women can't go into men's washrooms and vice versa. Absolutely none. The only reason we keep doing it is because it's always been that way - and we've become to accustomed to it that we can't imagine how something else would work.

Here's a few of the reasons I've encountered:

The Mark of the Beast in Modern Day: Barcodes and microchips?

It's surprisingly common for me to come across people interpreting the Bible to fit modern days. I am, of course, constantly surprised by this because I am quite convinced that most of the Bible is in fact social commentary and political writings rather than literal predictions. One of the more common interpretation revolves around the Number of the Beast, mentioned several times in Revelation. I think it's an idea worth exploring.

There are eight mentions of the Mark in Revelation (King James):
13:16-18 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and enslaved {bond}, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; And that no man might buy or sell, except {save} he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.

14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, [and] over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and [upon] them which worshipped his image.

19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

From the above we can gather some facts: The mark goes in the forehead or right hand (Or, depending on the translation of the Greek, on the forehead/hand). One cannot buy or sell unless one had the Mark or the Name or the Number of the Beast. (How one obtains the Name of Number of the Beast isn't specified.) The Mark's primary function is a symbol of worship, not of commerce. The relation to commerce is only mentioned once, while mention of worship is in every other instance in connection with the Mark. One who possesses the mark is eternally punished; god would not punish someone for buying and selling, but he would punish people who worship a false idol, according to scriptures.

Fry; Nobbers

Managed to catch one of the fry that were floating around the tank (I swear, all our fish are constantly pregnant. I think there's one male and four females and they're constantly dropping fry.) It's the first time we've actually been able to catch one, so after a brief stay in a Tupperware container it's now living in a shiny new breeder tank. It's tiny and transparent and adorable.

Also, Nobbers has taken to sleeping on his side. It's very cute:

So apparently I'm an introvert

Between twenty and thirty percent of the population is introverted. I am one of them.

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to me, but I constantly realize the implications of it. I am one of those people who get uncomfortable at parties. I am unhappy at bars because I can't hear myself think. I don't mind large crowds of strangers but I am afraid of large crowds of acquaintances. As I'm typing this the CS association room just filled up with a bunch of other CS students and I'm strongly considering packing up and fleeing. I thought CS kids were supposed to be shy and reserved? I'm currently alienated out of my own peer group.

I don't want to be.

We live in an extroverted world. Our world is structured to reward and understand people who like people. Growing up I always, always got the impression that I was missing out on something significant because I never went to parties, wanted to play sports and/or be constantly surrounded by people. I have something like four good friends and that's all I can handle. I want to constantly be around those four specific people and no one else. I get attached to people very strongly and very quickly and am constantly paranoid about people not liking me. I know I'm weird. I know that normal (extroverted) people will never understand or want to be friends with me. And that fucking hurts, guys.

If I could I would become an extrovert. I would love to thrive on contact with people. Extroverts seem to lead much more interesting lives: while I'm at home blogging, reading or just fucking off, they're out doing stuff. I could never do that - as I am right now I cannot be happy doing normal activities. I often go days without leaving our apartment and it doesn't seem to bother me. But apparently this means I'm broken. I had someone tell me once, "Oh, you're one of those boring people who don't have friends or know how to have fun." and fuck that stung. Because I am - but why is it a bad thing?

I am sick of being told - explicitly or implicitly - that I'm broken and weird. By whose standards? What does it matter that I prefer to be alone than with a crowd of people? It's frustrating to recognize that I will never fit in with the majority of people. The only thing that makes me feel better is that as education level (and IQ) increases so does introversion... so for most of my life I can hope to have at least a few introverts hanging around.

Nano's favourite sci-fi shorts

I love science fiction. I am absolutely in love with fantastic ideas - fantastic in the old sense "of fantasy." I chew through sci-fi short stories because I find science fiction writers have great ideas and style but very little stamina for fleshing out worlds and characters. Sci-fi shorts are more about exhibiting one gleaming idea and less about total immersion in a different world. That's what I love about them and that seems to be something few people understand - even sci-fi enthusiasts.

I pulled some of my precious anthologies from my bookshelf to pick out the stories that have stuck with me in the hope that someone else will appreciate the same stories that I do. It's a fairly eclectic mix because I like different stories for different reasons - writing, humour, characters or the idea, with little connection between them. I've decided to do this in several parts to cut down on length. Some of the stories I've been able to find online for free (legally!) which is very exciting. Without further ado:

Marly Youmans
Extraordinary Engines
All things stood apart and distinct in the static. Beyond the paling a bolt slammed into the winter grain, and a smell of ozone and burnt grass suffused the landscape. The immense steam-organ pipes of the public works sang out and pushed up clouds of vapor like a million white peonies shattered on a blue china tray.
This short just captured my imagination and has never let it go. It is of an alternate, neo-victorian world where the air is so dry that static is constant and lightning is a daily danger. The protagonist is a young girl under the care of her great-aunt, who seeks to have her inheritance. It's an absolutely fascinating world, made beautiful by skillful wordsmithing.

"When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth"
Cory Doctorow
Year's Best SF12
You can read it online here or, if that format is too ugly, try downloading another format here.
Felix pried himself off of IRC an hour later. Atlanta had burned. Manhattan was hot—radioactive enough to screw up the webcams looking out over Lincoln Plaza. Everyone blamed Islam until it became clear that Mecca was a smoking pit and the Saudi Royals had been hanged before their palaces.
This one actually sends chills down my spine - it's a very, very good apocalypse story. Some of the only people left alive are sysadmins in their digital bunkers, scrambling to piece together what has happened and where survivors are - globally. It's a great geek take on an oft-explored idea. Cory Doctorow is someone I admire greatly - both for his writing and for his passion about copyright issues. This story is really refreshing because all the techno-babble he uses actually means something.

Your partner is your partner...

...not just the person you share bills with.

I don't understand (I find myself saying that a lot when it comes to other people!) how people can be married or in a long term relationship with someone and not know anything about their hobbies, professions, interests, beliefs or friends. Maybe it's just that I take "HAHA women" and "HAHA men" comments more seriously than I should. Maybe I should stop watching movies that pretend to be real. Maybe I had an unhealthy family upbringing, I don't know. But it seems to me that most relationships are actually quite terrible.

I started thinking about this when I read this blog post, where the author said,
You’re married to someone, and you aren’t interested enough in the person to know anything about what they do with nearly 40-50% of their time, aside from their job title? Is it dangerous to draw a correlation between high divorce rates and the lack of interest that people have in their partners lives? [....] And if you don’t have even a basic understanding of what your spouse does with 40+hours of his/her week, then you’re not on a team.
and I realized that this is extremely common. It makes me sad and confused. Why are there so many people staying in relationships with people they don't like? It's not impossible to find someone who shares your passions. The only thing we have is this life, so why stay unhappy and unpassionate?

An open letter to shoe designers:

Dear shoe designers,
I just thought I'd write a quick reminder of a fact you all seem to have forgotten lately. For a group of people who make designs for only one bodypart, you all seem to have forgotten how that bodypart is actually shaped. Perhaps the foot mannequins you use as models were replaced with comically-shaped versions as a prank some long years ago and you never noticed and now you think that women naturally have very odd shaped feet.

This is what a human foot looks like:

Here's an outline of the toes, just for reference:

Do you see how it's actually kind of squared, maybe a tad rounded? Great. We can agree on the shape of an actual, real foot. Now, for future reference, here are some photos of what a foot is NOT shaped like:

What a feminist wants

I self-identify as a feminist.

This is actually quite a rare thing - shocking to me, but true. Very few people will apply the dreaded f-word to themselves, for fear of... well, I'm actually not sure. I'm assuming it's fear of being associated with certain stereotypes, but that doesn't seem to stop people applying other labels to themselves; Christians, Wiccans, conservatives and arts-majors all have a host of stereotypes they have to deal with and yet they are perfectly comfortable calling themselves what they actually are.

So, I identify as a feminist. I believe that many of the feminist ideals should become reality - broad access to abortion and birth control, proper sex education, the end of sex-discrimination in the workplace and for traditionally feminine jobs to pay the same as masculine jobs (e.g. teaching, childcare, nursing). There are some things I tend not to agree with - such as some feminist individual's penchant for seeing malice and intent in actions that I would evaluate as symptoms of a broader problem with society. I don't agree, for example, that sex under the influence of alcohol is automatically rape, especially if both parties are intoxicated. I don't think that the solution to the "problem" of unbalanced ratios of females to males in certain academic fields is to artificially boost one gender's participation by changing the acceptance or hiring policies. I don't think that having women-only events where everyone gets together to talk about how awesome being a woman is will help the situation any. And of course I don't want women to rule the world, I don't think it's "our turn at the wheel". That is a stupid stereotype and would just swing the pendulum to the other extreme.

What I want is simple. What I want is radical. What I want is impossible, or so people would have you believe. What I want is such a beautifully simple idea and all the solutions to our problems with gender can flow from this one single statement:
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."